“She was the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen…”
Beatrice continued the story. She looked across at Mae and smiled, it was the first time she had genuinely smiled in a couple of days, continuing all the way to her eyes.
“I had of course seen and heard the commotion outside. By then some of the mob were trying to get in, they had got into the grounds. I could hear bitter battles being waged between the Royal Guard and the people. I could also see from the window, they weren’t always successful, bodies of slain Royal Guard were just as plentiful as those of the intruders. It was obvious that the Guard were losing.
I held the baby close to my chest and turned to her parents. Frederick was a good man, but it was for Clarissa that my heart wept. We had been friends since we were children. I loved her like a sister, and I knew that in all likelihood this would be the last time I would ever see her.
With the child still pressed against me with one arm, with the other I hugged my friend. We both had tears running down our faces. I promised her that I would keep her daughter safe, and love her as though she were my own. I kissed her, then I left.
Once in the corridor, I could hear the sound of the great doors of the entrance hall being battered. Boom, boom, boom! The noise was terrifying. There was so much noise. Gun fire, men, and some women shouting and cursing. Two of the Royal Guard had stationed themselves outside the door. They were each holding their weapons, ready to defend their King and Queen to the death. I reached up and kissed each of them on the cheek, and wished them luck.
I looked down at my charge, despite the cacophony, this most sweet, most perfect angel, slept. I kissed her forehead. Then I ran.
Obviously through the front hall wasn’t going to be an option, so I headed toward the back passage way and the below stairs. Fortunately, being a member of staff I knew all the more discreet entrance and exits.
I ran down the back stairs. I was almost at the bottom when I ran into Prince Gordon. I was so intent on getting out that I hadn’t seen him coming up the other way. I slammed into his broad chest. I saw that he was carrying a large gun in his hand. He was a tall man, and he looked down at me. He looked me full in the face, and intense look about his eyes. He then looked down and saw what I was holding. With grim determination, he gripped my arm and began dragging me back up the stairs.
Once at the top, he dragged me to an empty bedroom, pushing me in before him. I was confused, and terrified. He closed the door behind him. He looked at me with such fury that I had never seen before. His eyes were blazing bright blue.
But, then he stopped and let go of my arm. He shook his head, and looked at me again.
“Yeee…ss.” I squeaked.
He breathed in and out, gradually the fury subsided. His eyes returning to their normal, pale blue.
“Beatrice. What are you doing?” He looked at the bundle in my arms.
“Is that the child?” I nodded. Still nervous.
He came over and looked down at the child. His facial expression softened completely. He even smiled. He reached out with his free hand, the one not clutching his assault rifle, and gently brushed the hair from her forehead.
He then stopped, and took a step back. Becoming serious again.
“Beatrice. What are you doing? And, with her?”
I was about to answer when, he suddenly turned angry again.
“Tell me you’re not with THEM!”
“With them? Who?”
“The mob out there. I’ve already killed more than a few of the palace staff tonight that were in league with them. I just never thought you…”
I’d had enough by then. I was frightened, and nervous, and conscious of wanting to get somewhere safe. So, I got angry, and I slapped him. Hard enough to leave a red mark.
“How dare you! You bloody great oaf! With them! Huh. I was, as it happens, trying to get YOUR NIECE to safety. But, in you come, suffering from a case of extreme testosterone poisoning, and jumping to all kinds of conclusions. Perhaps, you would be more use going to see if you can go and help your brother and sister-in-law.”
One thing I’ve always liked about Gordon, even though he tends to be a bit of a hot-head, he’s really quite easy to calm down. My little outburst seemed to have done the trick.
“Oh thank god! I would have hated having to kill you.”
He smiled at me.
“No, stay here. The palace has been infiltrated. This isn’t a spur of the moment assault. This is a planned attack, they have people on the inside. Stay here, quietly, I will come back and get you out.”
Before I could protest, he was out and locking the door.
I looked all around for a way out. We were in the music room. This had long been a favourite room of mine and Classisa’s. She was an Langston on both sides of her family, and even I had some Langston blood. Music spoke to our souls.
But that day, the room had become a prison.
We were on the fourth floor, so even if I was willing to risk my own life going out the window, with thee baby it wasn’t an option.
My only thought was to try and get the door open. I couldn’t do it with the baby in my arms, so reluctantly I found a place to put her. There was a silk screen in the corner, behind it was a basket containing, dresses, and scarves and all kinds of costumes that we sometimes used when putting on concerts. I gently placed the baby on top of the pile of clothes and pulled the screen around it.
I then went to the fire place and picked up the poker. I then started hacking at the door handle, trying to remove it.
In between swings, I noticed that it was quiet outside. I had been so intent on getting out I hadn’t realised.
I stopped banging, and put my ear to the door. Nothing.
I raced to the window, and looked out. The gardens were still.
Was it over? So soon? What of Frederick and Clarissa? Had they survived?
I heard the key on the lock, and the door opened. Gordon entered, followed by his brother, Alistair. Both had grim faces. Gordon’s eyes were red rimmed, as though he had been crying. Alistair’s pain somehow didn’t make it’s way to his eyes, which were sparkling. He was patting his brother on the shoulder.
“My good, sweet, younger brother. You always were the emotional one.”
Gordon looked at his brother, “If only I had got there in time.”
“We both did the best we could. When I got there it was already too late. I did manage to take care of the scum with my bare hands though. I have to say that was rather satisfying. The looks on their faces when I walked in! You know I really do think I surprised them. No sign of the baby though, and I looked everywhere. No matter, it will be found. As regent, I am responsible for it’s welfare after all. I wouldn’t want anything unfortunate to happen to it.”
“Err, no! Of course not! Oh that beautiful, girl! An orphan already, and not a day old.”
“Girl? What? Have you seen her? Where?” Alistair’s eyes shone.
“That’s what I was… what I wanted to show you.”
They turned and saw me standing near the door. The fire poker in my hand. Gordon, looked at me and shook his head. He then seemed to notice that the baby was gone, and his face clouded over.
“Where is she Beatrice?”
I looked from one to the other. While I’ve always liked Gordon, his brother however is a different story. I’ve never fully trusted him. On that night, whether as a result of still being on my guard following the events of the day, or something else, but instinct told me not to divulge her whereabouts. Besides as far as I was concerned, I had been instructed by my King to get his daughter to the safety of the village where her mother and I grew up. Nothing that I had heard so far countermanded that instruction. I thought quickly. I dropped to my knees and started crying, Clutching at their pant legs.
“Gone? What do you mean gone?”
“They came. They were brutal, they just grabbed her and pushed me to the ground. Then they ran off with her. Ohhhhh!!”
Then I started crying in earnest. Tears hadn’t been far from the surface all night, so it wasn’t difficult to start, but proved very hard to stop. I was tired.
Gordon gently pulled me up and toward the sofa. He sat me down, and took both my hands in his. He wiped the tears from my face with his hand.
“Shhh. Shhh. It’s alright. We’ll find her.” He pulled me to his shoulder and rubbed my back.
His brother hadn’t moved. He looked at me, his eyes narrowed, and penetrated into my being.
“So, these brutes. They just came in here, pushed you down, took the baby and left.”
I looked at him and nodded.
“And locked you in again?”
I looked at him, no doubt the look of shock on my face. He knew I was lying.
“You also look to be in remarkably good health. Didn’t put up much of a struggle did you?”
I had nothing to say. He had seen through me so easily.
“I think it’s clear what has happened here.”
Gordon had stopped holding me and was backing away.
“She’s been in league with them this whole time.”
He came and stood over me. But, I had immediately relaxed. At least for now, my secret was safe. I took the opportunity. I didn’t know what would happen next, but I knew I had to keep her hidden. I looked up at him, defiantly.
“You’ve got me!”
Gordon stood up. Shock, and hurt, on his face.
“But when I confronted you. You were so adamant! “
“Well I lied.”
Alistair turned to his brother.
“You’ve always been susceptible to a pretty face. I’ve told you before it would get you in trouble.”
He sighed and walked back to the door.
“I am going to get the search party organised. Dear brother, do you think you can manage to secure this wench so she doesn’t get away? We’ll need to question her later. But first, we must find the brat, I mean the child. I am extremely concerned about the child’s welfare, it would not do if something nasty happened to her.”
With that he swept from the room.
As soon as he was gone. I got up, and headed to the screen in the corner, picking the baby up in my arms.
Gordon’s expression had become one of confusion.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I’m taking your niece somewhere safe. I told you that.”
I started heading for the door.
“But, she is safe. They’re all gone.”
I turned and saw him standing there. I walked over and gently touched his face,
“Oh you sweet, good man. You’re such a good brother. But, I wouldn’t trust your brother with a dog I liked much less a new born baby. Fredrick told me to take her away, and that’s what I intend to do. Are you going to stop me?”
He looked at me. Confusion giving way to uncertainty. Then he shook his head.
“Just, where will you go?”
“To somewhere that she will be safe, and loved and protected.”
He nodded. “Okay then. Go, I’ll handle my brother.”
“Thank you.” I reached up and kissed his cheek. Then I ran, this time out of the palace, for good.”