Delilah Dusticle has special powers, she can completely eradicate dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters Delilah can run up walls and reaches places others just can’t. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house Delilah’s unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day a broken heart leads to her powers taking an expected turn.
This is the first in a series of touching and funny stories about Delilah Dusticle. Follow her on a journey of self-discovery, friendship and adventure.
In this illustrated instalment, Delilah and the Dustbusters are invited to Transylvania to cater for the Hallow Eve Ball. All is not what it seems and Count Dracula has a very unusual request for Delilah.
Delilah Dusticle has a special gift; she can wholly and completely eradicate dust. Using a duster from her special quiver pouch, she can run up walls, duster in hand, reaching all the cracks and crevices others just can’t. However, if she wasn’t concentrating or if she felt sad, the opposite would happen and dust would fall from her like heavy snow.
A sad story on the radio could start the shimmering shower of grey. Or if she was daydreaming about her boyfriend Duncan, the vacuum cleaner would simply start to wheeze silvery dust all over the floor instead of sucking it up.
Fortunately this happened very rarely as Delilah had lots of fun with her best friend Abi building up their business, Dustbusters. Since the war, grand houses could no longer afford live-in staff, and Dustbusters filled this void by offering a mansion cleaning service and staff for fancy parties. Their reputation had grown so much that they were being called on from all over Britain. Even by royalty.
Photos of Delilah and Abi were appearing on all the newspapers’ front pages, alongside interviews about Dustbusters and Abi’s line of very beautiful feather dusters. On a giant billboard at Piccadilly Circus was an advert of the Dustbusters dressed in overalls with vacuum cleaners in hand, posed and ready to clean. On the back of London buses the Dustbusters were dressed in tuxedos holding trays of cocktails. A Dustbuster could easily be recognised by the company badge, which was a shield with a duster crossed with a cocktail glass. Engraved below were the Latin words, Pulvis et servitium, meaning Dust and Service.
Delilah would sometimes pinch herself to make sure it was all real. She had come a long way from being a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house, where a broken heart led to her talent taking an unexpected turn. From the day Charlie Fenchurch-Whittington the third brought home his fiancée, Delilah began to lose her ability to eradicate dust. In her melancholy, she showered soft grey powder wherever she went. She made more of a mess than she could clear away and was asked to leave the Fenchurch-Whittington house.
Delilah eventually found a room and lived in solitude until a chance meeting with Abi, now the wife of the man who had broken her heart, changed everything. They became close friends, sharing their fears and joys. Over time Delilah began to feel like herself again, and together they created Dustbusters.
After Delilah had left the Fenchurch-Whittington’s household, others in their service were also let go. The family business in Music Halls was in steep decline, and they could no longer afford so many servants. This meant the whole family had to pitch in with the cooking and cleaning, and even drive their own car. It was Abi’s elegant feather dusters and her share in Dustbusters that ensured that the Fenchurch-Whittington’s were able to keep the family home, as well as their house keeper, Mrs Finch.
Dustbusters had grown so much that they even had a headquarters based in one of the Fenchurch-Whittington’s disused theatres. It was a beautifully ornate theatre, with powder blue and gold leaf cornices and paintwork. The dressing rooms were used by staff to change into their uniforms. The back offices and old workshop were used as design rooms, a repair shop for old hoovers and administration.
It certainly was an exciting and busy time. However, during quiet moments Delilah could be found sitting alone with small particles floating woefully around her, like a silent snowstorm in the forest. Secretly Delilah felt like there was something not right. No one else could do what she could do with dust, and she had started to find out that she could do more than just eradicate it.
Once, while cleaning a particularly dirty sitting room, Delilah’s eye was caught by an exceptional painting of a storm and a boat being tossed around by the waves. She began to think about Cockles, the seaside town where she had grown up, and recalled how the waves would crash over the seawalls in a storm. She stirred from her thoughts as the dust around her formed into a huge wave, roared across the room and submerged her completely. Her head emerged from the wave, and she spat out dust in astonishment.
These occurrences were happening more and more, and she did her best to conceal them. What if someone saw what she could do? How could she explain what she was doing when she did not understand herself? She felt people already thought she was unusual, and she did not want to stand out any more than she already did. As these thoughts ran through her mind, soft grey powder would settle mournfully around her. At least until she forced herself to snap out of it and eradicate the dust into thin air.
Delilah also could not shake the feeling that she was being watched. Sometimes when walking home a shadow would appear beside her shadow. This always surprised Delilah as she could not hear any footsteps, nor did she sense that anyone was behind her. She would turn to see who it was, but there would be nobody there, and the shadow would melt away as quickly as it had appeared. Perhaps it was a trick of the light or a silhouette of tree branches blowing in the wind, Delilah would think to herself.
Sometimes when alone in her house, she would feel the sensation of being observed. She would go to the window and peer out, but the street was always deserted. Delilah felt that if she told Abi or Duncan they would think she was mad, or worse they would worry unnecessarily. Delilah decided to keep all these fears to herself. At least until she could start to control her dust making episodes, and catch the person whose shadow would sometimes skip beside her own.