When Mary Lennox grew up, she thought she should like to be a gardener as well as a scientist-researcher, and quite possibly a doctor as well, and also care for animals. She imagined she might do battle with villainous and troublesome characters in her spare time, as a sort of hobby.
Ordinarily she would have considered ‘vampire slaying’ as a mere sub-category of this last, and not a terribly important one either. There were not, after all, a great many vampires in Yorkshire. However, when Martha realized she suddenly no longer needed the help of any of the grooms to shift the heavy wardrobe in the spare room, which had hitherto been the bane of any serving maid assigned to dust in that corridor, the circumstances became substantially different. A rather irritating old man popped up and explained that Martha was going to have to relocate to the nearest Hellmouth – located somewhere in Wales – in order to do her duty for King, country and species. It would have been impossible, he added, for her to remain employed at Misselthwaite regardless, as being in service and having to be up at all hours to clean the house and so on did not allow a great deal of time for vampire slaying.
Mary, of course, was not in the least pleased about Martha’s departure. She would have been cross about Martha leaving in an case, but her departure on an exciting evil-fighting tour of Great Britain on which everyone was adamant Mary was not allowed to accompany her, not even for only a few weeks of holiday, was an especially hard blow.
However, she did not have time to feel it long. The difficulty, it seemed, was that the Sowerbys were so numerous, and moreover so very well-known about the county to be kind and simple folk all, and exceedingly attached to one another. It was hardly a week after Martha had left that the first vampire showed up in the area and snatched away little Sue Ellen as a hostage against the Slayer to be allowed to pursue some wicked scheme or other. Mary was never quite clear on the details; Dickon gathered most of them by observing the obscure and arcane reactions of various unnerved woodland creatures, and they none of them felt much need to allow the vampire to explain itself.
Of course there was no question of sending to Martha, who was engaged in saving the world in Wales and could not be distracted. It would be letting the vampire have things exactly his own way. Anyways, Mary felt quite sure that she and Dickon and Colin could take care of the matter, once properly armed with crosses, stakes, and water that if not quite holy had at least spent a great deal of time in proximity to Dickon. Colin, of course, was all for the scheme, and though Dickon was not so sanguine, he did have to admit it would be an excellent thing if they could get Sue Ellen back by dinner-time so Mrs. Sowerby wouldn’t have to worry.
And in fact everything went surprisingly well. Dickon’s tracking and woodland skills came in very useful at following the vampire to the lair where he was keeping Sue Ellen, and Colin, who was the fastest and by then also the strongest, managed to untie Sue Ellen quick as a wink and carry her to safety, but it was Mary who managed to get in the killing blow with the stake. It had not, as she said scornfully afterwards, been a very clever vampire, and certainly they were all three served well by the fact that he was bound to underestimate a trio of Edwardian children without any supernatural abilities whatsoever. Nonetheless, it was a definite triumph. Mary had never much seen the interest or advantage of having calling cards printed up before (having no one in society she particularly wished to call upon), but she spent some time now with Colin debating the merits of having cards printed up with ‘Vampire Slayer’ on them after their names. The two only decided against it with a great deal of regret.
One would have thought that that would be the end of the trouble, but it seemed that being the Friends and Family of an official Chosen One was nearly as dangerous an occupation as being the Chosen One oneself. Scarcely a month went by that did not see some thrill-seeking vampire or demon show up, either intent on Making the Slayer Suffer or simply behind on the news that the Official Slayer was no longer in the area. After it became clear that this state of affairs was likely to last for some time, Mary decided that it really rather suited her. Although of course she would have preferred that evil supernatural beings stay away from her home and not spend quite so much time menacing her acquaintances, all in all, she found their rate of appearance a surprisingly convenient one, allowing for a pleasant feeling of usefulness and being feared by evil without too often interrupting her other pursuits. If she had been Chosen as the One Vampire Slayer herself, she would have had no time at all for scientific research, and any chance of entering the medical profession would have been entirely lost – and goodness only knew what would have happened to her garden.