"Papa," a small girl around the age of five asked, "Why is Mama so ill?" The man instinctively grasped the small child's hand but did not answer the question. His eyes were full of tears. The two were walking down a corridor when this question was put to him. They were nearing a door. The girl's other hand was gripping a small bundle of flowers. The tiny girl knocked upon the great oaken door and it was opened.
The girl led her father in the room. There was an immense mahogany bed with doctors crowded round and a chaplain at the side of the bed. Upon this vast bed lay a pale woman. She was very pretty but with her color gone she did not look half as beautiful as she used to. The small child ran up to the bed and climbed onto it. "I've brought you some flowers Mama," she whispered as she pressed the bright bouquet into the slender white hand. The mother, faint as she was, gave the little girl as bright a smile as she could.
The father slowly paced up to the bed and looked at the mother and child. The little girl had inherited her mother's radiant smile as well as her clear blue eyes. While the mother had hair like the sun, the little girl had hair of red-gold taking after her father more in this aspect. "How is she?" the worried man questioned the throng of doctors.
"She hasn't much time left, your majesty," the chief court doctor responded. The deeply distraught king, for so he was, ran his fingers through his hair.
"Alan, come close to my bedside," the sovereign's wife called to him. He came readily, but the sight of his queen in deep pain drove him nearly mad.
The little girl, though quite young, could sense that her mother was dying. "Mama, are you going to die?" the tiny child asked with a small quiver in her voice.
"Yes, my little Alicia." the pretty Scottish queen answered as she dropped a kiss on Alicia's cheek. King Alan turned away. He could not bear it any longer. Queen Camilla noticed this. "Alan," she said.
"Yes, my dear," he responded, with his face toward the window, watching a bird fly across the summer sky.
"Alan," said the queen with a very gentle voice, "turn, let me read your countenance." The king turned obediently and met his wife's eye. Her look seemed to say 'Your sadness makes me sicker than I am.' He understood this and tried to brighten his face. "My two darlings, I am going to leave you very soon. I shall see you again. Adieu," said Camilla as she breathed her last. A small tear rose out of Alicia's eye and landed upon her mother's cheek as the king bent down to kiss her one last time. Then he turned away and sat in the window seat, Camilla's favorite seat, and cried. The tiny child scrambled off the bed and climbed onto her father's lap.
"Papa, don't cry," Alicia said in a small yet sorrowful voice. This tiny voice checked his tears and he clasped the little girl to himself. She was the last shard of her mother he had left and he resolved that the rest of his life would be devoted to Alicia's happiness.
He also had a duty to fulfill for his country, so when the people went to him and beseeched him to take another queen, he did. This happened when Alicia was 13. This queen was from Spain. She was three years older than King Alan. She was handsome enough, with jet-black hair, and dark eyes. But she was vain, power-hungry, and jealous of Alicia.
A few more things must be noted about Alicia's past before continuing:
She built a small house for herself. This seems strange so let me explain how she did it. She started planning the house when she was six. For her seventh birthday she asked her father for a wagon and a puppy and a place on the castle estate of her own. He was pleased at these small requests and granted them readily. She named the puppy Gold. She also got a small kitten from her best friend Genevieve, the chancellor's daughter. She named the kitten Vanilla on account of its creamy fur.
For the next three weeks, she lay in bed spinning her idea of the small house in the wood.
She asked the tanner for a small harness. In two weeks he finished the harness.
Every day she would ask for scraps of lots of different things. She would go to the carpenter and ask for scraps of wood. The castle seamstress also got a daily call. She would carry the items to the spot she picked out, just into the hunting grounds enclosed by a thicket of trees.
She went to the miller one day and lo and behold one of his millstones had just broken. She asked him if she could have it and he said yes. She hauled the millstone away in small chunks in her wagon. She also traded a small silver chain for a bag of mortar.
On rainy days when she couldn't go outside she would practice sewing and weaving.
By her ninth birthday she had enough wood to start making the walls. She then started to erect the walls made out of mostly wood but some stone too. She saved enough stone for the fireplace.
She also began asking the stable master for two handfuls of straw a day. She put these handfuls in a large chest she had "stolen" from her room. The straw was to thatch the roof.
One lucky day someone broke a window in the castle. When Alicia heard she raced over to the room and asked for the window. She hauled the window off for only part of it was broken. She delicately took the broken pane out and set it aside. She then carefully separated the other panes and cautiously placed them in the window holes. Now she finally had windows.
Her father tragically died when she was 14. Was it an accident that he fell down the castle stairs? It's a mystery. Her stepmother took over as regent until Alicia was 20 or married. Alicia was practically paralyzed over losing her beloved father.
After some time she began to work on her house again. This kept her from growing too melancholy. She commenced to thatch the roof with full force and by her fifteenth birthday it was done.
Now she had a small house unfurnished and without a door. That was an arduous problem to solve. She postponed that problem for a couple weeks. She started to make a quilt with the scraps of cloth she had been saving up for eight years. Her quilt was done quite soon after she started.
Before she could get the table started she had to go to some long court functions mandated by her stepmother. Alicia had new dresses made and she took the old ones and made curtains out of most of them. She bought a small set of carpenter's tools and cut down two small trees. She sawed them into planks and made a table, a straight backed chair, a rocking chair and a cot. She bought a door from the carpenter for a tiny diamond.
She then wove a large bag or so it would seem. She went to the royal kitchens and asked for some feathers that they had plucked from the geese. Every day she came back with two bags full and put them in her sack. When her sack got full she sewed up the opening and made a mattress. She took this out to the cottage and laid it on the cot.
Then she asked the head cook for old dented pots and pans. These she took back with her to the cottage.
She bought a small package of seeds and planted them in the small patch of land. She would water them every day and they grew into a wonderful garden.
She only had to ask for two more things. She went to the castle armory and asked for a hunting knife, a bow and a quiver of arrows. She would go and hunt in the forest and the game she caught she would skin and eat. Then she would sell the skins to the tanner. She would buy sugar and salt and flour and so on with that money.
By the time this was all done she was 16. For three years she roamed free about the castle estate. She sometimes would stay out for a week without going into the castle. She would keep a chest of clothes for just such an occasion. And there was a stream nearby. But no one ever found her.
In the mean time she learned how to dye things. One day she was dying a kerchief purple and Vanilla came in. Alicia heard Gold barking at a bird. She turned around to see; splash! The dye landed all over Vanilla and turned her purple!
In a relatively short space of time, 15 years of Alicia's life have been explained. The next part will not be quite so short. The story will begin again, just after Alicia's 19th birthday.
Alicia bounded up the great hall steps. She went up with such speed that her skirts bounced above her knees. She giggled to herself with great amusement. She knew that her stepmother would have been scandalized if she had seen. She then peeped out the window the clouds were a grayish purple. Alicia knew that Robert Kent, the steward, would soon give the order to light the tall candles for that night.
Since she was not in a speaking mood she crept into an old corridor. This was the same corridor that she and her father had walked down quite solemnly the afternoon of her mother's death. The great oaken door had not been bolted, so Alicia walked in. The room had not changed much after her mother's passing. The bed clothes were changed to white, the bright-blue coverlet Queen Camilla used was put into her wardrobe. The rose-colored drapes were still hanging against the windows. The sea green plush pillow was a touch faded but other than that it was the same. Alicia sat down upon the window seat. That was a touch too stiff so she went to the bed.
She put her hand upon the satin coverlet, it was warm! This was the last thing that Alicia had expected, and to tell the truth, it gave her a scare. All of a sudden, a bundle of purple fuzz bounded upon the bed. Alicia breathed a sigh of relief; it was only Vanilla, her cat.
The clatter of hobnail boots could be heard in the hall. These boots belonged to a page boy seeking someone to come to the Queen's chambers. There was a quiet knock upon the door of Queen Camilla's, which was balanced by a loud "Come in," from Alicia.
"If you please, your highness, her majesty wants to see you in her chambers," said Nicholas a page boy of about 8 years of age.
"How many times do I have to tell you, drop the pomp and circumstance, Nick?" responded Alicia taking herself off the bed and placing herself on the floor.
"I was sent to bring you to the Queen's chambers," said Nick.
"Do you hear that, Vanilla? Her most esteemed sovereign majesty summons us to her royal presence," said Alicia sarcastically as she arrested Vanilla's climb up the wardrobe and placed her upon her shoulder. "Well we must be off," she spoke, preceding Nick to the door and casting it open.
They went to the east wing in which Queen Isadora housed herself. Nick announced Alicia and retreated quickly. Alicia walked casually into the room while Queen Isadora worked at her image in the mirror. When she decided that she looked as good as she possibly could, she acknowledged Alicia's presence. "Come into my study," she said sharply as she opened the door. Alicia moved silently wondering what this invitation was about. The cold queen moved across the floor and seated herself at the desk in the center of the room. She beckoned to Alicia to sit down across from her. "As you no doubt know, you came of age to be married several years ago. I have been trying to find a suitable match for you for some time. With no little difficulty, I might add."
"You mean, you could not find someone who was rich enough for you," interrupted Alicia.
"My dear girl, you are quite impertinent. You will of course recall the Crown Prince of Castile whom you scalded,"
"I didn't know the water would be quite that hot that I put into his port goblet. Besides, he needed something to jolt him out of his rut. He was much too pale. You also know, stepmother, that too much port isn't good for you. And that was his sixth goblet-full," said Alicia with a playful look.
"That's neither here nor there, but to come to the point, you are betrothed. Betrothed to the King of France. Well, aren't you going to say something, girl, you're as white as a sheet. Here take a glass of brandy," she said pouring a sip from the decanter on the shelf.
"Thank you," said Alicia, blankly. She took the glass and choked down the liquid. Her thoughts ran something like this, "The king of France, I met him once before... He was very nice to me but he's around sixty... Who does he think he is trying to marry a girl more than forty years younger than him, and against her will? And what does he want with me, he is already married... I think it's terribly vulgar for him to behave in this fashion... What a villain, I'd rather die than be married to that sort of a man... Why he isn't even a man, he's a scoundrel," she vindictively thought.
Then her spirits rose, she wouldn't marry this King of France, not if she could help it. "What about his wife?" Alicia asked.
"She died last month, of scarlet fever, but this isn't King Louis, he died too this is his twin brother, Jacques"
"But still, he's much too old,"
"It's your duty; we need the re-enforcements in the war against the English," replied her step mother. This argument continued on for another hour or so, and ended with Alicia getting taken to her sleeping quarters and put under restraints.
The next day Queen Isadora sent for Admiral Brian Stewart. She showed him into her study and charged him thus, "I have formed an alliance with the French; they will give us aid in this war, we will give them our princess,"
"I see your majesty, but is not our princess a great price to pay, considering she is the heir to the Scottish throne?" mused the clean-shaven man. Brian Stewart was about 31 years of age and he was the most dependable captain in the Scottish fleet.
"Enough of your impertinence, I have given my order, it is for you to obey it. You may go now," said the haughty monarch, her dark eyes flashing
In three weeks' time Alicia was saying good bye to her favorite places and people as well as her not-so-favorite places and people (Queen Isadora and her apartments). She was allowed to take her dog and cat. She realized that she would most probably never come back to Scotland again. She wept at leaving her beloved country and stayed below deck for three days.
If Alicia would have taken a tour of her ship, this is what she would have found:
The ship is very lovely to look at. The finish is a beautiful glossy golden brown with gold plated edging. The ship is 100 feet long. The cabins are extremely nice. There are four official cabins. The captain's cabin is split up into two main areas, his bedroom and the ship's meeting room. The next bedroom is the royal suite. No one is allowed to use this cabin except members of the royal family. This room is lavishly furnished like the palace in Edinburgh.
The next two cabins are for passengers. There is not much to note about these cabins except the one cabin has a window which is just big enough for a man to fit through.
The crew's sleeping quarters are finer than most of the ships. The crew has bunk beds with plaid curtains attached. The men had their loved ones sew the curtains to be of their family's tartan. There is a shelf which the men can put their personal belongings on. The ship's flag is St Andrew's Cross, the flag of Scotland. The flag was woven by Alicia. She did this at the request of Captain Stewart.
The officers are served meals first in their private dining room. The officers also bring their own stores. The crew is served after the officers and in order of seniority.
The course of the ship was set for Bordeaux. That was where Alicia was supposed to meet King Jacques of France. The time estimated to get to the south of France was two months voyage.
On the third day of the journey, Alicia received a visitor. This visitor gave a stately knock and waited patiently for an answer. Alicia heard the knock and nearly jumped out of her skin. She knew she must look a sight, having wept for almost three days straight. "Wait just one moment," she said hastily, as she rushed for water to splash upon her face. She also grabbed some hair pins, put her hair in a sort of crude bun and hastened for her silk wrap to put on (she was in her night gown). In this somewhat disheveled state she unfastened the door.
The captain stood outside her door. When she saw this, her face flushed white; she had no desire to talk with anyone concerned in this voyage. "I presume you need me. Step in," she said quite coldly. The Captain received this invitation graciously and stepped into the room. "What is it that you want, I am not in a speaking mood just now," she said vindictively.
"I wanted to tell you that I was not in favor of your stepmother's plan, to marry you off in this fashion. I tried to persuade her to reconsider, but she was adamant. I could not but help to notice your coolness to me as I helped you aboard The Lily," he finished with a slight smile.
"I am sorry if I caused you any inconvenience," said Alicia coolly. The words had not yet sunk in. She tried to think, but the ship was rocking more so than before. She was still mad as a hornet about being shipped over here unwillingly but this gentle statement from Captain Stewart softened her a bit.
Captain Stewart was just about to ask Alicia if she would take her supper in his cabin with him and the other officers when, the cabin boy burst in the room. "Begging your pardon, Princess, but sir, Lieutenant O' Keplar sent for you to come right away. He says it's about a huge tempest coming from the port side."
The captain started from his seat and gave a hurried salute to Alicia as he rushed down the corridor onto the deck. There it was sure enough, the huge tempest just a few leagues away from the tranquil waters that they were sailing in. "Down with the sails, all hands on deck," shouted the Captain, as a swarm of men came scrambling up on the main deck. They at once started up the rigging, making preparations to take down the sails.
Alicia sat in her cabin thinking it over. She was sorry she had spoken so sharply to Captain Stewart. She resolved to tell him so and to invite him to supper in her cabin.
Alicia rummaged around her bureau, searching for a good outfit to wear. She at last found a pair of long white stockings to put on with a sturdy red satin knee-high gown. She undid her hair and this time fastened it securely in two braids, wound those up and dashed out the door, nearly forgetting her purple velvet cloak.
She walked up the stairs, with great difficulty, due to the terrible gale going on. On the top deck the captain stood with his face to the storm. Alicia walked up the second set of steps. She approached the captain, but just as she was going to speak, a sudden jolt threw her and she was obliged to grasp the captain's arm as she fell. He turned at this touch and was much surprised to see her.
"Confound it, girl!" he bellowed "Don't you see there's a storm?"
"Do you think I'm blind? Of course I see there is a storm," Alicia said saucily, recoiling her grasp on his arm. Then she continued, "I came up here to tell you I was sorry for having spoken to you so tartly," she said more gently.
"I accept, on the condition that you get below deck immediately, it is quite dangerous, you could drown," he answered in a kinder tone.
"You would be doing me a favor if you let me drown," she said ruefully.
He put his hand on her shoulder, "Now, none of that, your life is precious too," he said huskily. She flashed him a grateful look as she went below just before a stroke of lightning came.
"Perhaps I do have an ally a board this hateful trip." She flung herself on the bed and fell asleep. She woke up in the middle of the night and was terrified to hear sounds of agony coming from the captain's cabin. She pulled on her cloak and hurried to his door. She knocked quickly and entered. There was a man, with his left hand severed from his body screaming in anguish. Alicia's face paled as she saw this dreadful sight. The captain saw her and called "If you want to be helpful, come assist the doctor while he bandages this man's wounds," she walked up to the bed and put her hand upon the man's fevered brow.
"What happened?" she asked horrified.
"Lightning hit a mast and brought a beam down, his hand was under it. You must take my place," he declared as he strode out of the room.
Alicia sat with the wounded sailor all night and most of the morning. She swabbed his arm and spoke gently telling him that he would be all right. All the time she could feel the ship rocking back and forth, she could hear the wind howling, and the voices raised shouting orders.
Towards noon, the storm had died down somewhat, and the captain came in. "Thank you for sitting with him. I trust I can speak to you now,"
"Yes," she replied.
"You will need to sit with Mr. O' Leary, for the next week. I hope that suits you?" he asked.
"That's fine," said Alicia. She then thought of something, she decided to tell. "Captain, if you don't approve of my stepmother's plan why don't you take me somewhere else, where I don't have to marry the King of France?" she asked persuasively.
He shook his head, "It won't do Princess, I have my duty, you have yours," he shook her hand and left her standing. She was ready to pull his hair out by the roots.
For the next week, she attended the sick man while the rest of the crew worked on repairing the ship. The captain came to see her patient almost every day. The first two days she acted as if he didn't exist. Then she realized that she was wrong and on the seventh day made peace with him.
Since the ship was far off course, the captain summoned the officers to his cabin. They were just going to plot a new course when, a cry came from the crow's nest. "A ship spotted, she is coming right for us, and I can't make out her flag yet. Oh no, it can't be, she is pirate!" was the exclamation that struck terror into the hearts of all that had heard it aboard the Lily. "All hands on deck," shouted the Captain and once again, the men came scrambling up on the deck.
Alicia wanted desperately to help so she put on working clothes and scrambled on the deck after Captain Stewart had given his orders. "Please, let me help, I haven't been right to you this whole voyage. I really do want to help," she requested meekly.
The captain did not allow her to work though because he said "I would be skinned alive, if the King of France knew I put calluses on your pretty white hands."
"Please, I was just awful to you; I want to make it right. I can't control my tongue sometimes," she added with a piteous glance.
"Pray, don't mention it, only let me fulfill me duty to Scotland," he said. She moved over to the side of the ship and looked into the water; she knew that the next month would be extremely hard.
The sails were furled out and the vessel turned her prow to the south. This meant a longer journey, but Captain Stewart was willing to take this risk to avoid an encounter with pirates.
The pirates were closing in. There were only a few miles between them and The Lily. The captain confined Alicia to her cabin lest an arrow from one of the Moorish pirates should find its way into her heart.
The chase continued for about a month. The ship was always in a hush fearing that at some unlucky moment the Moors would overtake them and their curved swords should make mincemeat out of all of them. They were moving fast down to the south. Captain Stewart was in an agony that they should be chased into the Doldrums. The Doldrums were a place that there was hardly ever any wind. Therefore, they could not get out of the never ending wait.
They were dangerously near to the Doldrums and the pirates were closing in. The captain finally made the decision that they would go into the Doldrums and risk the pirates' coming after them.
After that the pirates went away, not wishing to be caught in the mouse trap of no wind. Then Alicia could come up on deck. They were significantly down south now and as far Alicia was concerned, not far enough away from France.
The weeks dragged on with nothing to do but wait. One day, while Alicia was sitting on deck, it was so hot, she asked for a glass of water. It was brought to her. She drank the fluid hungrily. She accidentally spilt some on her arm. Even though the water was warm, her arm felt cold. "There must be a slight breeze" she thought. She wet her finger and held it up. There was a slight puff of air coming from the east.
She scampered out of her chair and sprinted down the stairs to the Captain's cabin. She knocked quickly and bolted in as soon as she heard the "Come in,"
"Captain, there's a slight wind coming from the east!" she blurted out.
Captain Stewart's eyes bulged, "Is there really a breeze coming from the east?" he queried. Alicia nodded her head as he bounded up the steps. He dowsed his finger with a bit of water from her glass and shrieked. They actually were getting out of this hateful place. "Set sail west," the captain exclaimed. In a few weeks they were coasting west joyfully (all except Alicia, who was sitting morosely in her cabin).
They went nearer west every day but unfortunately, Captain Brian's maps were useless. They were completely off the charts. They did the best they could to turn back east, but, the winds were strong and facing west, so all that they could do was to keep going.
The winds kept getting stronger. Captain Stewart was a fine sailor, but, he had never been in these tropical waters before, hence, he did not know the strength of a tropical hurricane! The crew could not determine the weather. These waters were so strange to them.
The superstitious sailors thought that they were going to sail off the edge of the world. Some threatened mutiny, but before they could get around to planning anything, the whole ship was thrust into a horrid tempest!
They bobbed away like they were a mere paper sail boat, not like The Lily, the delight of Scotland. Days and nights they all suffered. Alicia could not sleep very well at night. Then, after a long period of misery, an unusually strong blast hurled them up against a strange coast. The Lily was acutely damaged. It was certainly a sight to look at, to be sure, the pride and toast of Scotland, run aground and damaged beyond repair.
They were all knocked unconscious for a few hours. When Alicia came to, there were men all along the tropic coastline, frightfully dressed and aiming spears all pointed to the crew of The Lily!
Some of the crew rose to their feet. Alicia heard one man mutter, "I'd rather be on my feet, than to die like a dog."
There was no place to run to. The savages inched closer to the wreckage of the ship. They slowly climbed aboard. Captain Stewart and his officers walked to Alicia's side to shield her from the enemy. The savages placed their spears behind each crew man's back and marched them off the ship. After marching for 20 minutes, they neared a clearing in the jungle. In this clearing stood a magnificent city!
There were men and women and children bustling about. There is one thing that has not been mentioned, it was a savage city! The savages had built this city ages ago. It had a prison, a temple, a palace and a marketplace. The city's name was Cigquidovi.
When the crew of the Lily reached the metropolis, they were taken up to the palace. They were dragged up the stairs and flung at the feet of the Cigquidovian king.
This king was the great warrior Chadunocisu. Chadunocisu's wife had recently been mauled to death by a cheetah. He has been making a search through his tribes for a girl equal to his wife's beauty.
Chadunocisu descended the great marble steps. He looked over the prisoners. He spent a long time on Alicia. Then he ran his hand across her neck. Alicia put her hand up and cuffed Chadunocisu across the face. He pulled her to himself and said to his chief priest "This one shall be mine." Alicia couldn't tell what he was saying, because he spoke in a Mayan dialect. His voice reminded her of a snake swimming around in oil.
"Is she not disgraceful, O honored one?" said Chadunocisu's chief counselor.
"She is headstrong. I like that. I will soon tame her," he responded. She stomped on his foot and he cried out in anger.
Alicia thought, "Now I'm in for it." Several guards responded to the yells of the savage. The guards dragged the unhappy prisoners to a hut and thrust them in. There was a man sitting in the hut.
He had light brown hair and kind brown eyes. He had what you would call an honest face. He had a comforting smile.
The man looked up. He stood up and offered his chair to Alicia. She took it with a weak smile. She could tell this man was from Europe but she couldn't tell where exactly. "Where are you from and why are you here?" The man asked in French. Captain Stewart told the story of the voyage omitting only why they were going to France and who Alicia was. Captain Stewart trusted this man, but not enough to impart who Alicia was.
"My name is Robert 'Tagenat," said the stranger as he shook Captain Stewart's hand. The two began to talk light-heartedly and became fast friends.
"How did you end up here?" Captain Stewart enquired.
"My friend and I were shipwrecked here. He was killed, and I presume, eaten," Robert 'Tagenat answered.
Alicia's stomach soured at the sound of that. She looked through the crack in the wall. The Cigquidovians seemed to be preparing for a feast. She couldn't see any meat though. At dusk the savages came to the prison and took all the men except for Robert. Alicia looked through the crack again. The men were transported to the temple. The savages went in the temple after the prisoners. The Cigquidovians were arrayed in their finest garments. Alicia heard native music and the beating of drums. The natives sang in shrill screeching voices. Alicia could not see what went on in the temple. Then she heard howls, howls that sounded like demons were torturing the unhappy beings who were shrieking. Alicia turned away. She looked at Robert.
"Did they kill them?" she asked choking with tears.
"Yes, most probably. You see miss, this is their feast of the harvest. This is when they sacrifice human beings to their gods, to make up for the grain that they will use this next year. I'm terribly sorry," he added with a sympathetic glance at Alicia's face which was growing darker every second.
"What sort of animals are these people, if you can call them people?" she asked vindictively.
Then the door burst open and a pale figure was thrust in. Captain Stewart was that person. He collapsed on the floor after the savage that delivered him slammed the door and rushed away in fear. Alicia's face paled as she saw the wretched stature that had once been a man of great strength. Here slumped a man in the prime of his life with half the blood already taken from his body by a crooked sacrificial sword used by the Mayans for killing victims. The sword was thrust in his heart. He groaned as Alicia rushed to his side. She put her hand on the knife to take it out when Robert called "Don't, he'll be dead inside of two minutes if you take it out."
Alicia obediently took her hand off the sword, as Robert came to her side.
"It was ghastly, I could not save them, they were killed one by one in front of me. Then it was my turn. They walked me up to the altar with their appalling idol and the chief priest took up this sword. He struck me this blow and I lost my footing. I groped for something to hold on to and by chance my grip fell upon their idol."
"A hush fell through the whole of them and they appointed the rogue that you saw to bring me here," the injured man said quite softly, never taking his eyes off of Alicia.
"I'll bet that idol was tabooed," interrupted Robert.
"What does that mean?" questioned Alicia.
"I'm not exactly sure why, but a taboo is the practice, of regarding some things, people, or types of behavior as sacred and therefore forbidden to be used, made contact with, or engaged in when something is sacred to the natives. They will not allow anyone to touch it, or whatever touches the thing is also tabooed," said Robert. Alicia helped Robert to put Captain Brian on the straw mat that served as a poor excuse for a bed.
"Princess, will you do two things for me before I die," Captain Stewart uttered in little more than a whisper.
"Yes, anything," replied Alicia with a reassuring smile.
"First, promise me that you will do your duty for Scotland,"
"Yes," she replied hesitantly.
"Second, Oh Alicia I've loved you ever since I escorted you aboard The Lily, will you kiss me before I die?" the poor man gasped, reaching for Alicia's warm palm with his own.
"Yes, of course I will," said Alicia gravely. She kissed him as he breathed his last. Then, she took the crooked knife out of his body and walked grimly to Robert's side.
"He's gone. Oh, I could kill the blasted fiends!" she said passionately.
"Well, it's no good dwelling on it, we're lucky that they gave us the knife. We can saw through the walls and escape tonight while they are occupied with their celebration," Robert said.
Two hours later, amidst tears Alicia sat, watching Robert saw at the bamboo walls. The opening was almost finished. There was little chance of the savages hearing them; they were in full holiday mood.
"I believe there are only a few more strokes. Alicia, my arms are about to fall off, can you take over please," Robert said in a weary voice. She nodded as he stepped back from the little opening and completed the job in no time.
"Alicia, step through here." Before the words had hardly left his lips she was out of the opening with Robert not far behind.
"I made a careful study of the jungle when I was taken prisoner, there is an island not too far away from here, and we can swim to it. And," he was interrupted by Alicia.
"But they'll chase us there," she said.
"Not at all. It's tabooed. Hurry up, we're not safe until we are on that ground," he said taking her hand and beginning to run. They ran lightly over a mile of ground.
Back at the savage camp, the chief, Chadunocisu, was boasting to his friends about the beauty of his new bride. He went to fetch Alicia and found her gone. At that moment his love (if that thirst for beauty could be called love) turned to hate. The terrifying king wanted only her blood now. He called all his warriors and sent them like bloodhounds on her trail.
"Robert, I can't see any path," Alicia said with a whimper.
"Here, follow me. I know the lagoon is around here somewhere. Listen, I hear the current."
"I hear the savages. Is it possible, that they heard us escape?" Alicia asked. She was thoroughly perturbed now.
"I'd say that it's more than a possibility."
"Oh, dear me, if they capture us again..."
"We'll be dinner, so run!"
"Robert, something flew past my cheek, I'm not sure... Oh my goodness! It was an arrow." At this he took her hand and ran, ran ever so fast. They reached a small river.
"Swim," Robert commanded. In a moment, Alicia was diving in the water with Robert at her heels. It was raining, raining arrows. At last they neared the bank. Robert seized Alicia and set her upon the bank. Then he vaulted the short bank and began to run.
When Robert and Alicia were out of sight in the jungle they stopped. They knew that the savages would not dare to follow them into the tabooed land.
"We'll have to camp here. I not sure if there are wild animals on this island, so we'll have to sleep in the trees," said Robert.
"I've always wanted to sleep in a tree."
"You take that one over there; I'll take the one next to it. If anything should happen, wake me up," said Robert.
The next morning, Alicia woke up quite differently than she had gone to sleep the previous night. In this morning, the sun was bright and the tropical birds were singing and the whole island looked blissful. She slipped down from her tree and picked a banana. Then she looked up into Robert's tree. He was not in it. Then she gave a start and a muffled cry. Someone had tapped her shoulder!
"I had wondered when you were going to wake up. I was going to rouse you three or four times, but I couldn't, you looked so calm and peaceful," said Robert. Alicia breathed a sigh of relief; Robert was the one that had tapped her shoulder.
"We'd best make some place to live, while we're here," said Alicia.
"I found just the place while you were sleeping," Robert said with a laugh. He led her through a dense jungle. They came to the most beautiful place Alicia had ever seen!
The place had a small clearing and many flowers. The trees had a picturesque color. There was a banana tree patch and a coconut tree patch as well as several other fruit trees.
"Oh, Robert, it's the most superb place that I've ever been to!" Alicia cried with a radiant face. Robert smiled.
"I'll get started on a hut today," he said. Alicia flashed him a grateful look as they went to find some material for the cottages.
"Can't I do something? I've wanted to help you all day. You wouldn't let me then, you just said 'It will be done in a little while,' I'm dreadfully bored now. I built a house once when I was much younger. You can't say no now," whined Alicia as her hut was coming along very quickly.
"If you really must do something, start thatching the roof," said Robert. He was thoroughly worn out. Alicia had been begging to help all day, and her hut did take a lot of work.
Alicia sat down to work at once. She thatched with all her pent up energy. Towards five o'clock, four walls and half a roof were made. Alicia worked on.
"It's almost finished. Robert, do let me work a little longer," Alicia said at dusk.
"Nonsense, we'll have time to finish it tomorrow," Robert said, helping Alicia to her feet and leading her to a fruit tree.
"Oh botheration, I suppose it must wait, if you say so," replied Alicia taking the coconut-half that Robert gave her.
"We can sleep in these trees again tonight," said Robert, helping Alicia into one as soon as she finished her coconut.
The next day Alicia glided out of her tree and rushed at that roof. She started a bit before sunrise and finished very early indeed. Then she had a perfectly elegant idea. She would start on Robert's cabin before he awoke. She struggled to get the wood, but as soon as she had cut the trees it was easy to pull them together.
"What have you done, you beautiful creature!" Robert roared as soon as he was awake. He jumped off his tree to admire Alicia's work she had one and a half walls up and was steadily working away.
"Oh, good morning," she said, "I thought that you would never wake up," She laughed. Robert joined in the work immediately. By dusk the two cottages were finished.
"Let's have a feast," stated Robert grandly.
Alicia clapped her hands, "Do let's. And do you think that we could salvage anything from my ship?" Alicia asked. Her face was beaming and she looked resplendent.
"Probably, but not just yet"
"When can we go?"
"Not until we're sure that they aren't setting a trap for us."
That night they slept on the floor of their very own cabins. They waited for what Robert thought was a safe period of time. Robert also monitored the ship. That night, neither of them slept very well, they were so excited. At dawn Alicia rose quickly and ran into Robert's cabin. She shook him violently and shouted "We're going down to my ship today, remember?" he started and jumped to his feet.
"Yes Alicia, I remember quite distinctly. Well, I suppose that you'd like to be off as soon as possible, so out the door, girl, and let me get past." Alicia was ecstatic and scuttled down the path that they had carved a month ago.
"You'd better let me lead the way. I don't know what may be going on down at that side of the island," Robert said as he stepped in front of Alicia.
It was only a short swim to get across the river and to the coast of the savages. There before them stood The Lily, nearly demolished and looking dreadful.
Robert crept onto the vessel. Alicia followed him closely.
Alicia observed that nothing on the ship appeared out of place from the day that she and the crew were removed. "Robert, do you think the savages have been here?" she asked.
"No," he replied.
"Why do you suppose they didn't come aboard the ship?"
"I'm not sure, but, they may have considered the ship tabooed since the Captain also became taboo to them," he speculated.
"Let's take the furniture and bring it back to the cabin," Alicia suggested.
"Yes, indeed," assented Robert.
"You can take the crew's quarters, they're down that way, I'll take the cabins," said Alicia. Robert nodded as he went down the rickety stairs.
Robert found several useful things. First he found hammocks. These he took along. Then he found several blankets. These he also took along. He descended to the galley where he found some of the most useful things of all: cookware and food. He took as much as he could carry and took this load up on deck. Then he came back until there was nothing else useful.
Alicia meanwhile was making out like a bandit. She went first to the captain's cabin. She took all the navigating articles and put them in a chest. She also put in a good store of weapons. She put this trunk on the deck. Then she took the sheets off the bunk and folded them neatly. Then she looked in the captain's closet. She took some of his suits for Robert. She also rifled through the contents of his bookshelf. She then took the bundle and clambered down the deck once more. She took a quick inventory of the other cabins, and took only books from them.
The best cabin, which was her own, she saved for last. She loved each and every one of the articles in the room. Her bureau was not completely filled up, so she took her books and put them in an empty drawer. She stripped her bed and put the sheets and pillows in the bottom drawer of the dainty dresser. Her gowns she stuffed into a drawer, along with her jewels. Her slippers were put into a smaller drawer. The decorations in this room were put in a small drawer. The escritoire was all packed. Then she took her petite chairs and brought them onto the deck. She also took the table that went with that set. Then she brought out her reading chair. She popped into Captain Stewart's room to take his reading chair for Robert. After she brought the chairs down she went to get her bureau. She did not really wish to carry it but she took it up any way. She walked down the stairs. "Oh botheration," she hissed to herself, as she felt her legs trip. She expected to fall flat on her face, but something held her up.
"Thank you for catching me, Robert, but you can let go now." Alicia turned around, to face the strong grip on her waist. This was by no means Robert, this was King Chadunocisu! "Help, Robert!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. The savage smiled, a slow cruel smile, which was delighting in Alicia's distress.
"I hate you!" Alicia hissed, "I loathe you, I abhor you, and I despise you!"
Robert ran up the steps. He had not expected trouble like this, but he had come quickly to the sound of Alicia's frantic voice. "Good heavens," he bellowed. "Alicia, stomp on his foot." Robert grabbed a sword and leapt over the steps, pushing Alicia behind him. Robert socked Chadunocisu in the face and knocked him unconscious. He put the sword back in the trunk and rushed up to Alicia.
"Are you all right? Did he hurt you in any way?" asked Robert hoarsely.
"Not a bit. What are you going to do with him?" asked Alicia.
"I'll take him off the boat and put him in the jungle,"
"Why don't you kill him?"
"Because that wouldn't be right,"
"How would that not be right? He killed and tortured every member of the crew. It would be just."
"Alicia, you must learn to forgive, even your worst enemies."
"The only thing that I think of now is the band of men that they murdered. If you could hear their cries and still torture them. I do not believe that you have a right to live."
"Then you are wrong, Alicia. Revenge never satisfies. Forgiveness is the only thing that can help you now."
"But, they murdered my crew in cold blood, and you do not condemn that?"
"I despise the action. But, you and I have no right to kill the people. It is up to God to determine their punishment, not you."
"But they killed them."
"We must pray for them then."
"But they killed them, they killed them, and it was my fault that they are dead," said Alicia, collapsing into a flood of hysterics. Robert sat down beside her.
"You'll be alright. Come," he said taking her hand and rising, "Let's load him onto a door and I'll float him back before he wakes up or someone comes looking for him." Robert picked up the savage and took him off the ship. He dragged Chadunocisu onto the shore, and then he hastened back to Alicia and helped her to load the things onto the door they had removed from the ship.
They fastened the things on with some strong rope and pushed the parcel off the side of the ship. Then they jumped in after it, and pushed it to their coast.
When they got on their own coast they began to unload the parcel. Each took the things and dropped them at their camp. They had great fun deciding where the things would go. The allotment ended up like this:
Alicia got her bureau, her reading chair, and all the contents of the bureau except for the books. Robert got all Captain Stewart's things except for his books. The table and chair set went outside and so did the books. They built a book shelf for them. They each got a hammock. The cookware and the food was put in the area they called the kitchen.
The day passed quickly and merrily, the fun that Alicia and Robert had together was equal to the terrors that the night held.
The nights were horrendous. Every night, Alicia would fall into a fitful sleep. Every night she'd have the same dream. She would see the face of Chadunocisu, hear the shrieks of the perishing men and live over again the horrific incident of Captain Stewart's death. The next morning she would awaken with the taste of hate in her mouth. Then Robert would greet her with a cheerful "Good morning". Alicia would laugh and jump out of her hammock joyfully.
Robert was so happy. Alicia wondered why she couldn't be like him. One night after supper was finished she asked "Oh, Robert, you're always so cheerful can you help me? Every night, I have the same terrifying dream: I see the face of Chadunocisu, hear the shrieks of the perishing men and live over again the horrific incident of Captain Stewart's death. The next morning I awaken with the taste of hate in my mouth," she said pitifully.
"My dear, I'll help you all I can," he said, holding both her hands. That night when the sleep came, the dream was not so bad. Robert was waiting for the sun rise to shoo it away.
"It wasn't quite as bad as normal," Alicia said over a breakfast of coconuts.
"I think the dream will go away soon. But the only thing to get rid of it completely, is to forgive them," Robert said.
"But, how can I when I think of what they did?"
"It will take time. Time heals all wounds."
"But not Captain Stewart's wounds," she retorted.
Alicia went to sleep thinking about her dream, which made it much worse. She tossed and turned fitfully and saw Chadunocisu's face. That same terrible face that she would never forget as long as she lived. Then she heard the screams. They rang in her ears incessantly. They were so terrible that she began to cry out along with the poor wretches. Robert jumped out of his bed and flew into Alicia's room. There she was, so beautiful, but tortured by the remembrance of the horrible day. Robert dropped to his knees by the bed and stroked Alicia's hair. She did not scream quite so loud. He kissed her forehead. He murmured, "Oh, Alicia, I love you," he caressed her hair as he said this.
Alicia woke up. Robert was sitting next to her. His hand ran through her hair. She could feel no hate now. It was a glorious feeling, his strong hand upon her head.
"Come," he said, "come outside and walk with me in the moonlight. I'll talk over your dream with you," he said, as he put out his hand. She took his hand. They walked out the door together.
"I know this is hard for you. Just give it more time," said Robert soothingly.
"I just hate what they did..."
"That's it Alicia, you hate only the action, as I do, not the people," he said seizing her other hand and looking her full in the face.
"My dream was different, this night. It started out the same, and then it got worse, ever so much worse. I was actually shrieking the terrors were so great. Then they stopped. I dreamt you were standing over me, stroking my hair, and then you kissed my forehead and murmured that you loved me. But, that was just nonsense that my head made up, right?" she asked looking up into his handsome face.
"No, Alicia, it was not nonsense that your precious head made up. I do love you. Now you must tell me if you love me as well? Do you?" he asked passionately with his hands grasping at her shoulders.
"Yes Robert, I do. Oh yes I do!" he pulled her into an embrace and a kiss all at the same time. All of a sudden, their first storm on the island came. There was a torrent of rain but neither of them cared. After the storm was over and they were soaked to the bone, they walked back to the clearing. Robert saw Alicia safely to her cottage and then crept into his.
The next morning, Alicia bolted out of her bed and flew out the door. Robert wasn't up yet. She planned on making him a splendid breakfast. She heard him stir. He came out of his hut, scanned the clearing, and then he made a rush towards Alicia, embracing her. Alicia was blissfully happy at that moment and then she heard a voice in her head say, "Do your duty for Scotland."
"Confound him," she said.
"Alicia, is something the matter?" Robert asked, alarmed that anything should make Alicia the slightest bit melancholy.
"Oh yes," Alicia cried, bursting into a flood of tears. Robert was sympathetic.
"Oh, Robert, I should have told you, I'm betrothed. I didn't wish it, my stepmother forced me to. And, I'm Princess Alicia of Scotland. I'm betrothed to King Jacques of France. And I'm so miserable, you see before he died, Captain Stewart made me promise to do my duty," she said amidst sobs.
"I heard him say that, but didn't understand at the time," Robert said, "Why can't you go to blazes, you rogue," he added under his breath.
"Oh, you mustn't blame Captain Stewart, he couldn't know that I would fall in love with you," said Alicia hastily.
"I didn't mean him, I meant King Jacques," Robert said determinedly.
"Do you know King Jacques? Oh never mind. The whole thing is my fault; I shouldn't have let you fall in love with me," she said.
"Don't worry, darling."
"But, if we go back to France, which we must, it is my duty. I'll have to marry him. Oh Robert, my heart will always be yours. Nothing can ever change that. Obey him, I must. Honor him, I cannot. Love him I will not!" Alicia said collapsing into another flood of tears.
"I will set things to rights when I take you back," he said.
"But what can you, or me, for that matter, do?"
"A good many things my dear, a good many things," he offered.
"Oh Robert, I love you so much, more than words can tell. It breaks my heart that I must leave you. But it is my duty. Promise me that you will kiss me and tell me that you love me right before I must leave you forever. Please don't ever forget me. I can bear the whole thing if only I know that you still love me and only this duty keeps us apart."
"Oh, Alicia," he said. She clung to him in an embrace, wishing it never, ever to end.
"We must build a boat, and go back to France. Believe me Robert, I would rather die, but I must do my duty."
"Indeed we will go back to France. But, I will make it all right."
"We should start working on the boat now, before we lose our determination," Alicia said.
'I've never seen such a superb girl,' Robert thought.
"I'll go down to The Lily and see if there is a row boat that we can use. Alicia, why don't you gather supplies we will need for the journey. I have no idea how long it will take," said Robert.
Ten minutes later, Robert walked down the little path. He saw the ship. He climbed aboard. There was a life boat. Robert took some oars and put them in the boat. He saw something on the ground. It was a book. He opened to the last page written in. It was the ship's log. He flipped back to the page when Alicia's voyage began.
Princess Alicia came aboard today. She was thoroughly perturbed. King Jacques has bargained for her, and he got her. A simple voyage. About, two months length.
"I will revenge myself upon you, Jacques. You brought sorrow to my beloved Alicia. You will pay," Robert vowed to himself.
Alicia was back at their camp. She was deciding what to take and what not to take. She had many clay urns of fresh rain water. She had also taken all the food and packed it neatly. She took the cushions off the reading chairs and set them aside. She also took the pillows. She put the navigating chest with the items alongside the pile. She took two of Robert's suits.
She went to her hut and decided upon two working dresses and three extra gowns to keep for pleasure. The first working frock was a lilac cotton dress with a tiny bit of white lace at the end. The second one was a pink, purple, yellow, and orange striped long sleeved wool dress. The first lovely dress was a sea green satin with sky blue roses. The second was sparkling magenta with a silver belt. The last one, which was her favorite, was white and had a diamond encrusted bodice. That one laced up with plain silk sky blue threads. This one had been her mother's.
She also took her gems, feeling that these might come in handy, bargaining with people if they found civilization. She took the sheets off the beds and put them into a pile. She took one of these and made a sail.
When Robert came back she had everything assembled. They loaded the things in and fastened the sail. Alicia laid the pillows around the boat so that it would be comfortable. They would leave first thing in the morning.
Getting out to sea was brutal, but as soon as they were a few miles off the coast it was much better. They bobbed about like a tea cup. About a month later, they didn't notice any more. They pushed on across the Atlantic.
When they were about halfway across, Alicia realized their food supply was running out when she went to get breakfast for Robert and discovered there was only one mango left. At that moment, Robert shouted, "Alicia, darling, we're saved! I see a ship coming across the horizon."
"Do you really mean it? Oh, I see it too!" They hailed the ship and it came. The ship let down a rope for Robert and Alicia. Alicia leapt aboard the boat.
"Now, who may ye be and where were ye bound to?" asked a genial old man who appeared to be the captain.
"We are bound to France, can you take us there?" Robert asked.
"Speak up a bit son; I'm a bit deaf in my right ear."
Robert opened his mouth to speak but Alicia beat him to it. "Will you take us to France for this," she shouted, revealing an emerald from her pocket. The captain's eyes bulged.
"Are you sure that ye did not steal that trinket?"
"Quite positive," Alicia responded.
"Well then, the both of ye have got yourselves a passage to France," the captain said, his fingers closing hungrily over the gem.
"Men, will ye kindly get the lady and gentleman's things," the skipper said, as the crew slid down the side of the boat like monkeys.
The days were long, uneventful, and miserable for Alicia. Every time she met Robert's eyes an invisible dagger tore at her heart. She knew that in a short time she would be separated from him forever. She constantly second guessed her decision to "Do her duty".
On the last night of the voyage, Robert came to see Alicia in her cabin. She looked up and flew straight to him. She could not help herself, even if she tried.
"I can't leave you now. I wish we had never left the island," she cried. He stroked her hair.
"You will have to leave me only for three nights. Then, I will never leave you again."
The next day, they were dropped off at Bordeaux. Robert escorted Alicia to the Scottish consulate, Lord Edward Fitzgibbon.
"I will never see you again. Please, kiss me goodbye and then go far, far away. I could not fulfill this duty with you waiting for me, a few steps from my door.
"If the king should die, I'll search all over the world for you until I find you. Please leave now, my resolve is wearing down," Alicia said, just before she walked in the door of Lord Edward's receiving room.
"Wait Alicia," Robert grasped her hand, "Do not marry the king until three days from now. If all goes well, I'll be back on the third night. If it does not, know that I loved you to my death."
"Robert, there is nothing I can do. But I will wait three days. Good bye," she cried and ran into the room. Robert went out of the building and into the street. He would free her, even if it meant his life.
"Lord Edward, I've come," Alicia said nervously, as she peered into the elegant receiving room. A gray-haired man looked up from his desk.
"Sit down, child. What can I do for you?" he asked.
"It is I, Lord Edward. I used to sit on your lap, when I was no more than six years old. Don't you remember me? I'm Alicia." Lord Fitzgibbon was surprised. He looked through his best spectacles and saw that it truly was Alicia.
"What happened to you, child? Captain Stewart was ordered to bring you here ten months ago. We all presumed you were dead," said the old man, ecstatic at finding an old friend. Alicia relayed the voyage of The Lily. She told him about the cannibals. She told about Robert and the island, omitting her love affair.
"Well I would like to meet this Robert 'Tagenat, who saved your life so many times," he said.
"He left," Alicia said with much difficulty. Lord Fitzgibbon noticed this but, did not press her any further.
"I'll take you to see King Jacques," Lord Edward said. When they arrived at the throne room, King Jacques was just as Alicia had feared. She retired to her chambers as soon as possible. Alicia wished for Robert so much now. She had nothing to do but to wait out the three days.
On the third day, she waited and waited. She gave up hope around dusk. Close to midnight she heard a rustling noise outside her window. Someone was throwing pebbles at her window. She went to the window to see who it was.
"Alicia, open the window," a familiar voice said. She knew that voice, and her heart leapt with joy.
"Robert," she called as she opened up the window, "Please come up." In an instant Robert was up over the ivy and at her side. They thought that no one had seen them, but someone had. That person was the busybody cook. She let out a gasp and rushed to spread the news.
"You shan't have to worry anymore," Robert said. Before he could finish, he was interrupted by someone flinging open the door.
"So, you've come back," King Jacques said.
Alicia was confused. She had never left. Who was King Jacques referring to? Had Robert met the King before?
"Yes I did," replied Robert. "You thought that you could get rid of me. You killed my father and my mother, but you couldn't kill me."
"Well, I can change that right now," Jacques said, pulling out his sword.
Robert snatched a sword that was hanging on the wall.
"Alicia, get away from me," Robert cried. He crossed swords with Jacques. Robert artfully advanced Jacques out of the room and into the hall away from Alicia. The sound of a struggle was heard and it struck terror into Alicia's heart.
Two serving maids that had heard the commotion were whispering to each other. "Well I never, I didn't think that she would ever be caught like this. All of her superior manner don't amount to much now."
Alicia was perturbed. She had kept a stoic position up until now but here she shattered. "You look at me and think 'royal and uppity'. You have not been through what I have. The mental battles I have fought are far greater than Agincourt.
"Do you know what it is to wish for something so badly, to almost die for this thing, then when it is given to you, you have to give it back, never to hope for it again? Have you ever experienced that? I had no part in selecting Jacques. This was forced upon me. I was only a mere tool, a sort of currency to my step mother. She has not enough feeling to sense that I am a human being with emotions. To Jacques, I mean nothing except something pleasing to look at, or perhaps to parade and boast to his friends, (if he has any).
"You talk of superior manner. Have I seemed so? Would you not be the same if, the one whom you loved most in the world was never to return. I have walked about these vast halls like a ghost, for that is what I have been. Then your enemy comes to kill your beloved ... My own true love will most likely not come back from the other room alive; I have seen Jacques practice at sword play. He is very swift, for his age.
"Think of your world. If you do not like something you may change it or walk away. I perhaps have costlier garments and so on, but I do not have that freedom. Where ever I go I will be Crown Princess Alicia of Scotland, betrothed to the King of France. In two months I shall be, for the rest of my life, Queen Alicia of France. Only one thing holds me back from flying to my love. Only four letters: D-U-T-Y. These keep me from him. Do you know what it is to go through that? I should say not.
"Before commenting on a warrior's bravery, you should face the enemy first," Alicia finished coolly. She walked out of the room and into the hall where Robert and Jacques were fighting. She scanned the hall carefully. One figure was standing over the other. Could it be? No, it wasn't possible. It looked as if Robert had won. Alicia hastened to the spot. Yes, it was true!
"You will never trouble anyone after this moment," Robert said, his sword resting on Jacques' heart.
Alicia could barely think. She had only a few seconds to pull her thoughts together. 'What was Robert saying? He couldn't mean to kill Jacques... No, this can't happen... My whole world will be shattered... He mustn't kill him... Not that I care for Jacques... Robert, his soul will be ruined... That is why I love him... His sense of upright justice combined with compassion ... If he throws it away on a fit of anger, it won't come back... What care I for his cage, if he throws himself away...? I will be nothing.'
"No." This was all she could manage at the moment. Robert looked round to see her. She took a deep breath; her future happiness depended on what she would say.
"Robert, you mustn't kill him, it isn't right. Think, think, what it will do to you. You will no longer be Robert the Just; you will be Robert the Murderer. You will have thrown your soul away on a fit of passion. Let the guards take him. He will be put in the Bastille. Remember the day on the ship? The day that you told me about forgiveness. I knew about it before of course, but, you put my perspective much deeper. Recollect what you said, '...you and I have no right to kill the people. It is up to God to determine their punishment, not you.' That does not just apply to savages; it applies to him, and every other human being.
"Look at me, Robert; you know that I'm right. My whole life depends on your decision. Your justice and compassion will be gone. Those are the reasons why I love you. Remember also what you said a while ago, 'Revenge never satisfies.' And also-"
Robert interrupted, "You talk of justice. This man has innumerable crimes."
"I repeat, '...you and I have no right to kill him. It is up to God to determine his punishment, not you.' Think of what you will become. Think of what I will become, without you. I implore you, for no other reason than for our sake, forgive him, please," she looked earnestly into his face.
A period of silence followed. A battle was going on, not a bloody battle, but just as important. Robert heaved a sigh. He put his sword in his belt. There was no need for anything to be said. Alicia flew to him in an embrace.
"Robert," she said softly, "He needs help."
"I'll get the court physician," he replied
As Robert turned to leave, they heard a noise. She turned her head slightly to look. "Robert look out, he's coming for you!" Quick as a flash, Robert grabbed his sword. As Jacques lunged at Robert, Robert defended himself. He impaled Jacques with great force. The sword ran through the body. The tip stuck out one inch. Jacques' body fell lifeless to the ground. It cast a macabre shadow, the dead body, with a sword running through it.
Alicia breathed deeply. The two gossiping maids, who had been watching from the doorway, fainted.
"What are we to do with him?" she asked.
"They'll take care of that," he said, pointing to a small group of men. Lord Edward Fitzgibbon was apparently their leader, being the eldest. Alicia had seen some of these men about the palace, but she couldn't place exactly where, at the moment.
"Are you all right, my boy? Here, take a chair. I see he got what he deserved," Lord Fitzgibbon said.
"No thank you, I'm quite all right, I assure you," said Robert.
"We're sorry we're late, sir," said one of the men.
"No need to worry, Randolph. What about the other matter, Lord Edward," said Robert.
"Ah, yes, Annette. She's in good hands now. Such a pretty little thing. I'm afraid you won't be able to see her, she is asleep right now, but tomorrow shall be another day, as they say," said Lord Fitzgibbon.
Who was Annette? What did Robert have to do with her? Why was he so concerned? Was she...? Robert had never mentioned anyone named Annette on the island. Alicia was very, very, perplexed. She looked exactly as she felt. Robert noticed this.
"If you'll excuse me, gentlemen," he said taking Alicia's hand and leading her across the room.
"Robert 'Tagenant, I demand to know what is going on this instant,"
"Come into this sitting room and I'll tell you all about it. Incidentally, that is not my real name."
He led her to a small navy blue chaise and sat down beside her. She looked at her hands, pretending to look absently, but in truth burning with curiosity and indignation. Robert pulled on a stray curl that was sprawled on the chaise, a bit apart from the rest of Alicia's striking mane of hair.
"Your hair is red-gold, isn't it?"
"I should think so, you've seen it often enough. But what is my hair to you?"
"Nothing much, just a facet of my future bride's beauty,"
"Well that takes audacity, to be trifling over my hair and calling me your future wife, and just two minutes before to have been dawdling over 'Annette'. She's probably some French beauty, with platinum blonde hair, and sharp blue eyes that you met two days ago."
"Why you're positively astounding, she does have blonde hair and blue eyes, although I've known her a trifle longer than three days. How ever did you guess?"
"Women's intuition, you might call it. You certainly have a lot of brass nerve, to toy with me, then to come back to some girl or other."
"What? Annette," he paused, "is my sister. Were you really frightened that I'd leave you?" he said very amused. She looked meekly into his face.
After a period of silence she said, "What is your name, you promised to tell me, but more pressing concerns were on my mind?"
"Why didn't you tell the truth?"
"I did, sort of; I called myself Robert 'Tagenet. My middle name is Robert, and I took off the first syllable of my family name."
"But, why did Jacques want to kill you, you still haven't answered that?"
"Because, if you include my title, my full name, would be: King Henry Robert Plantagenet of France." Alicia was speechless.
"I see you are shocked."
"Well, I thought that you were some nobility; your manners spoke for you, perhaps an earl, or a baron, but king... Tell me all about it, and shame on you for not relating these events to me earlier."
"Well you see it is like this; as you might know, Jacques was my father's brother. His twin brother. They were born only twenty seconds apart.
"Jacques was always very jealous of my father for his crown. He grew each day more and more soured until he was a thoroughly warped man. My father in turn, grew into a wonderful king, perhaps a bit short tempered at times, but a first class ruler. He married my mother, a duke's daughter, and things were going alright for them. My uncle was living in the palace as a blood royal prince, along with some of my other uncles and aunts.
"When my sister, Luciana was born, Jacques began to take an interest in our family, other than despising my father, and mother too. He loathed my mother because, when he was younger, he had wanted to marry her. She openly refused him and married my father instead. She was a very delicate creature and hated to see anything, or anyone suffer. She hesitated to refuse him on any such matter which was in her mind inconsequential. She had always felt sorry for him, due to her 'impolite conduct' as she phrased it.
"My father didn't have time to pay attention to the things that my uncle was doing. My father was trying to stop the outbreak of war across Europe. A silly thing that business was all this fuss over an ambassador of ours saluting a favorite niece of the German king, who also happened to be a favorite niece of the English king, with his left hand, instead of his right. Everyone was triple-allied and the whole thing was a mess.
"As I was saying, my uncle was a great favorite of my sister. He spoiled her into an insufferable creature. Later, he persuaded her to marry his best friend's son. She lives in a country estate, where she can boss around her servants and she is, thankfully, out of our hair.
"I always knew that my uncle hated me and could not stand the sight of me. He hated me because, with only Luciana he would either be king, if the crown was entailed in the male line of the family, or basically be king, having complete control over Luciana.
"My uncle was always pleasant to our face, but I always knew that he was plotting behind our backs. I used to sneak up to his lonely garret when I could not go alfresco. I would hear him swearing to himself about what an idiot his brother was, of how worthless the count of somewhere-or-other was.
"My companion was Andre the son of my father's best friend, the duke of Burgundy. We grew up together, and were inseparable.
"My sister Annette was born five years after me. She is my favorite sister. I was the one who helped her with her lessons, and taught her how to ride; she even took up inventing when I did. I made her strong, and trained her to hunt. Annette, Andre, and I often made up a hunting party together.
"Over the years, I noticed a growing attachment between Andre and my sister. I whole-heartedly approved of the match and could see no reason that it should be stopped. About a year ago, Annette told me that they were secretly engaged. They would wait for affairs of state to calm down before speaking to my father, because they did not wish to worry him. There was another of these silly situations at hand and my father was as they say, working round the clock.
"My uncle kept pretty much out of the picture. Until around the same time as Annette's engagement, he was up to something and the three of us knew it. He was constantly going to the different nobles, something which he never did, and making himself agreeable, just think of it, him agreeable!
"He plotted and planned until virtually all the nobles were on his side. Then he gave my mother poison. And a few weeks later he gave the same poison to my father. He made everything look like influenza.
"Subsequently he sent henchmen to kill me. They were to do it in the forest, and make it look like a hunting accident. Fortunately Andre was with me, he saved my life. If he hadn't seen them coming for me we wouldn't have been able to sprint to the sea shore. At the sea shore we escaped into a sail boat.
"We drifted for months, drinking the rain water that we caught in the small keg that was aboard the tiny vessel. We caught fish and ate them raw; luckily I happened to have some of the tartar powder that I had been experimenting with.
"We washed up onto the cannibal shore. My friend and I were to be sacrificed at one of their festivals. The savages took us into the temple. Andre was to be killed first. I tried to save him but I could not. In doing so, I touched a tabooed idol. I was quickly taken back to the hut where you first met me.
"You know the rest, up until the three days when I left you. During that period of time, I was persuading the nobles to follow me, instead of Jacques. Most of them were good and had only followed Jacques because he was very powerful, but they had nothing to do with my father's death.
"I think that covers it. Are you still jealous of Annette?" he asked jokingly.
"Now that I know the full story I can assure you that not one speck, if there ever was any, remains."
"Who are you deceiving?" he replied with a laugh.
"I thought that I would lose you Rob-Henry, can you blame me?"
"I can promise you that it will never happen."
"I will hold you to it."
"You won't have to."
"This is senseless. We should be worrying over your poor sister. How will she take the intelligence?"
"Her heart will break. But she will hesitate to show anything, at least in my company. You will comfort her?"
"You can depend upon it." Here their conversation ended and Alicia expressed a strong wish to go to bed so Robert took her back to her room. Then he finished his affairs with Lord Edward.
On the morrow, Alicia woke to a flood of sunlight coming from her window. She got out of bed lugubriously; the next task at hand would not be very pleasant. She pinned her hair back slowly and carefully. A green silk hunting dress was the first thing she laid eyes upon, so therefore it was what she put on. She laced up the back, not exactly knowing what she was doing, but instinctively threading the silver laces. A pair of red slippers completed the collection. She took a sip of tea, and ambled out the door.
Robert was in the hall to meet her. He gave her a smiling reproof that she had kept him waiting. She did not respond, but she smiled and tried to laugh. He led her up several flights of steps. Then they went down two corridors. A large door stared them in the face as they knocked. A voice, charming not syrupy, called out for them to come in.
A blonde-haired girl with deep blue eyes sat in a rocking chair, with an honest-looking woman in her late thirties kneelt next to her. Alicia comprehended that the former was Annette and the latter was probably her chamber maid. Annette seemed to be trying to teach the maid how to read, unsuccessfully. The latter was stubborn, but good-natured. She looked for every pretext to get out of the lesson, so therefore Alicia and Robert's entrance was a welcome excuse.
The maid looked up from the page in the book. "Miss Annette, it's Master Henry, and some girl!" So saying, she quickly exited the room. Alicia was a bit indignant at being called 'some girl', but the reaction from the other party quite made up for the offence. Annette ran over to her brother and embraced him.
"Oh Henry, let me look at you! I always knew that you would be back. What happened? Where have you been? Where is Andre?"
Alicia never forgot that moment in her whole entire life. Annette looked so innocent, so unsuspecting. Her clear blue eyes were opened wide; her hands were poised on her deep blue dress. Alicia felt truly sick with the thought of what Annette would be going through. In just a moment, her life would be devastated.
Robert said everything most carefully, but still the words cut like a knife through Annette. He gave her to understand that Andre was dead. Annette paled and Alicia grasped her hand lovingly.
"Don't you think that she had better lie down?" Robert asked.
"We'll take care of her, she'll be alright."
Annette was totally oblivious to the remarks made. Alicia hugged her and soothed her. She knew what it was to be wretched. Finally Annette fell asleep.
Robert carried the spare little figure to a couch and laid her down. Then he dragged two chairs over and seated Alicia, then himself. They watched Annette as an hour of silence passed. Annette stirred. She opened her eyes foggily. On looking round she saw Robert and Alicia and all the events came back to her.
"I would like to know everything. How did he die? What did he say last?"
Robert swallowed hard; he knew that Annette was not equal to hearing about the entire grotesque affair. Even Alicia would not be able to stomach the torture involved.
Alicia spoke first, "We are hardly in a position to describe all the details now. Wait until you are stronger."
"I will tell you my story, Annette. You cannot expect to hear every last detail, but I will tell you as much as I can." Robert proceeded to relate the whole of his adventures. Annette dwelt lovingly where ever Andre was mentioned. His death was mentioned as carefully and considerately as possible. One small glass-like tear slid from Annette's eye. She seemed to be bleeding inwardly, with just as much blood as any other female could create with a torrent of wailing.
Robert had just finished the story when a messenger broke into the room. "King Henry, there is very urgent business, I'm sorry to interrupt, but you're to come at once." Robert quickly made his excuses to Alicia and Annette and quitted the room.
Robert was not long out of the room before the hot rain of tears came. Alicia seated herself beside Annette, and wrapped her arms around her and gave her all the sisterly love she could manage. She fetched clean handkerchiefs and spoke calmingly to the poor girl. This girl was two years younger than herself, she had experienced just as much hardship in the course of a day than Alicia had experienced during the last few months.
After Annette had calmed down a bit Alicia suggested that they go for a ride.
"I don't know that I could, but would you be willing to take me?" was the somewhat confusing reply that Alicia got as an answer. Alicia took this answer to be positive and proceeded to bundle Annette into a warm cloak. They hurried, or rather; Alicia hurried Annette off towards the stables.
They rode in the park that day with a great degree of enjoyment, respective to the mornings events. Alicia suggested that they continue the scheme every day, if possible. Annette agreed that it would be a most pleasurable experience.
And so it came to pass that Alicia and Annette would ride out every day. Sometimes with Robert, others without. You see being a king is not as easy as doing whatever you please.
Annette's sorrow was no longer a sharp pain, but for the most part it was only a dull ache. Of course there were times when all the pain of that fateful morning flared up, such as seeing the sweetheart tree, with Andre's initials next to her own.
Robert had fixed on a day in May for the wedding which was to take place. Alicia agreed most willingly to postpone the arrangement until Annette had somewhat recovered from her shock.
The ceremony was to be of a very simple sort, not at all the grand affair you might expect. There would be a quiet wedding in the little chapel, and afterward a simple wedding breakfast. They would not take a honeymoon. Robert and Alicia both agreed that they had had quite enough traveling for the present.
The evening before the marriage was to take place Robert visited Alicia. He knocked with an air of ceremony so unlike him that Alicia wasn't quite sure that the man at her door was actually him.
"I've told you before that I had no taste for ceremony. Come why are you so very solemn?" said Alicia.
"It seems as though tonight is no time for jests," said Robert.
"Well I prefer to make them," said Alicia.
"Your wish is my command," said Robert.
"Very well King Genie, I would like to laugh," said Alicia.
"I thought that you might find it interesting, that you are actually obeying your stepmother's command's in your wedding," said Robert.
"Now don't make me laugh," said Alicia.
"I thought that you wanted to," said Robert.
"She'd be spitting tacks if she knew what I've done. She didn't want me to marry you any more than I would like to cut off my hair and eat it with olive oil," said Alicia.
"I am the king of France. I thought about changing the marriage contract, but thought that you would like it better if we pulled this little prank. The words are 'to the king of France'; I think that I fit that description," said Robert.
"Isn't it funny that the things that you dread the most sometimes work out for the best?" said Alicia.
"Yes. Well until tomorrow, my love," he said as he quitted the room.
The next morning Annette came and helped Alicia prepare. Alicia wore her mother's white dress that had a bodice encrusted with diamonds and blue laces. They changed the blue laces for white ones though.
They walked down the garden path to the chapel happily, but quietly. Annette picked a scarlet rose and put it in Alicia's hair. Half ecstatic, and half nervous, Alicia entered the chapel door and walked down the aisle. She knew that in just a few minutes, not only two people would be united, but two nations.
LPH Writing Class stories 2012-2013