"Where are you going now" asked the duchess of Shalimar as she lifted her head from the satin pillow.
"I do not like your suspicion my Lady. A duchess must know her place and it is not the in business of her Duke"
"I only inquire that I might know when to tell Adora the time to have your dinner prepared."
He glanced at the hour glass, The hour is early and you speak of dinner. He cast her an annoyed glannce. "You do not lie well my Lady. You are suspicious of my whereabouts constantly and if you must know it near infuriates me as I am a grown man and no longer under my mother's skirts."He moved from the lookinglass After he adjusted his attire and took a seat on the canopied bed where his wife lay with her hand draped across her forehead. Her eyes were filled with tears of longing.
"Oh Quentin do you think I am blind that I do not see that you stiffen when I reach for your hand?. Do you think I am deaf that I do not hear the lack of tenderness when you speak to me? Or maybe you think I am stark mad and have no reasoning to even sense your disdain for me."
He slapped his legs and rose from being beside her and avoided her intense gaze
He gave a hearty laugh and proceeded towards the doorway,"I think neither of the above"
. " I think you are highly suspicious my lady." He grabbed his gloves and stated matter of factly." I must part. He moved toward the doorway and turned a( )uptly on his heels. Do not wait up for me as I shan't return until the wee hours of the morning"
"Pray tell what business will have you gone til then." The demure beauty asked with hopes that he would answer candidly.
"Pray til I return from my business and maybe I will tell."
He moved swiftly out of her view and his steps could be heard moving down the stone stairwell.
The only thing louder were the tears that descended her cheeks.
Adora her sweet handmaiden gave a timid knock on the door, "My lady are you alright? "The woman with the beautiful light ( )own skin entered the room without being invited.
"Oh Adora my heart aches.. My husband I believe is having an affair."
The handmaiden immediately came to the bedside of her distress mistress. My Lady, I do not think so. My Lord only has eyes for you."
Her mistress smiled and said, Dear Adora, you are sweet and have much to learn about men. You have only lived as a servant girl. You only know duty and have no idea about devotion
Oh no my lady this is not true. I do know about devotion for I am devoted to God.
Yes, you see when I was a child I vowed to serve God and humanity with my wholeheart.
How old were you when you made such a vow?
I was near twelve and now I am twenty eight years of age.
Such a vow for one so young should not be counted seriously by the God of Heaven. He surely would not have made one so striking as yourself to only live a life of servitude solely. One day you shall marry and have a family. Would you not be able to serve your God that way? You will be a wonderful homemaker. She smiled and motioned with her hands. Now would you be so kind as to draw my water for my bath.
With humility she said, Yes my lady.
The Duchess witnessed the happy go lucky footsteps of her handmaiden as she went to draw water from the well. Never a complaint from Adora. She responded to any request with kindness and never gave any sass as opposed to the cook, Franccesca who had a tongue like a viper but she was a distant cousin of the Duke and was promised a lifetime position. Adora on the other hand came to the door seeking hire as she had left the convent when she learned that her mission was to serve humanity but not necessarily to be celibate for a lifetime. Her beauty was extraordinary as she had an unusual feature for a woman of color. She had vivid red hair and pretty features that were accented by the beautiful tresses atop her head. She was delicate and demure. Gentle and kind. Sometimes being tucked away in the mansion serving seemed unfair but she never uttered a word of desire to be away from her mistress.
Soon the redhead appeared with the last bucket of water and she poured in soap that would suds. She had a towel and wash clothed draped about her arm and she inquired with care, Would you want me to stay and bath you my Lady.
No no..tis sufficient what you have done. Leave the towels on the rack and I will bid you to come when I am through to clean. When you are through with the task then I we will take journey into the town and we will ( )owse the shops. Hmmm I think that you deserve a sabbath my dear. I will purchase you a pretty garment for church. This Sunday you will have a new frock and hat to wear. Why you are a pretty young woman and some fine dandy will see you this Sunday and if he should ask you out I will give you permission to spend an afternoon in courtship.
The two ladies laughed and Adora departed. When she pulled the door to she giggled with anticipationg of having the day in town and the thoughts of having a new frock to wear to church was exciting. It wasn't the dress but the excitement of being able to attend the worship service. She loved to sing the songs and to hear the minister speak of God's love. She became tickled at the thought of a gentleman eyeing her and finding her so striking that he would ask her if he could keep company.
Suddenly Francesca came up with the Duchess tray for lunch in quite a huff and fussing. " Do you have none the better to do then to stand around giggling. Open the door Adora," she snapped.
She whisked by in a huff and placed the tray on the table and scurried back to the kitchen. Adora gently closed the door behind her and proceeded to her bedchamber to prepare to go to town.
During the ride to town Adora noticed her mistress eyes were scanning every nook and cranny in town feverishly. Adora hoped that the Duchess would not see anything that would ruin the outing. Suddenly the Duchess exclaimed Stop! The horse and carriage came to an a( )upt halt and Adora nearly tumbled off her seat. The duchess grabbed Adora's hand and her heart as she pointed to the window of an eatery. There sat a man who bore a remarkable resemblence to the Duke seated across from a very lovely woman. The Duchess became a bucketful of tears. Adora held her mistress closely and attempted to console her. My Lady you must collect yourself, the man only resembles the Duke and only ever so slightly.
Adora do you not think I do not know my husband?
Adora knew that to disagree with her mistress might lead to her being not only scolded but flogged so she simply said, Oh no mam. I just remembered his attire was different when he left earlier today and this gent's hair appears a tad more tawny than the Duke.
Adora I did not hire you to give opinions but to take orders. Now I have a good mind to turn this carriage around and halt you right back to cleaning floors and windows. Now I only want you to hold and fan me. This is an atrocity. The Duke is having an affair I tell you the Duke is seated in ( )oad daylight with another woman. He alwaays had a liking for women of darker complexion than myself.
Adora didn't say another word but whispered a prayer that her mistress would be comforted as she was having a case of histronics. Adora held her mistress and wiped her ( )ow as she had ( )oke out in a profuse sweat. The tears stopped and the gentleman who bore the striking resemblence to the Duke had vacated the premises. As her mistress head was buried in her shoulders she noted the man who bore the resemblence to the Duke escort the attractive female out of the restaurant. She squinted her eyes and nearly gasped for air when she realized that it was the Duke and the striking ( )unette was a male dressed as a woman. Adora knew that there was more to this picture than meets the eye but she was grateful it was her eye that saw this and not the Duchess for surely this would be enough to send her to her grave.
EVentually the mistress and maiden were able to leave the carriage and shop. Adora's mind was filled with curiousity as to the scenario she had just witnessed. She prayed as they went in and out of shops. First the Confectioners shop. The smell of chocolate tantalized the nostrils of all who entered the portals of the shop and no one could resist purchasing at least one of the chocolates. Chocolate covered marshmellows were her favorite and the Duchess purchasd her one much to her delight. Then it was off to the milliner's. The Duchess tried on hats of all types and finally decided on one for the May Fair. The flowers were arranged pretily beneat the raised stingy ( )im of the hat that captivated her soft features. What is your opinion Adora?
Adora smiled and hesitated to give her opinion as she was told only an hour ago that she was not hired to give opinions.
Adora do you hear me addressing you? What is your opinion of this hat?
Oh it is lovely My Lady. The Duchess gave a winning smile and said, I think so too.
A male servant came from behind the curtain that covered the work area of the millner. He was a handsome man of the same hue as Adora. T The two eyed one another and the Duchess raised her perfectly arched ( )ow as the young man scurried back to his duites.
Hansome gent was he not Adora?
Adora nodded and smiled.
I think he fancied you?
Adora raised her hand to her blushing cheek...oh me, My Lady no no, I think he was simply observing who was in the store while the milliner had gone to get the hatbox for your purchase.
The Duchess loved Adora dearly but didn't like to be corrected. She said, Adora, you must remember that I am always right and the correct response is Yes Mam.
Yes Mam said the servant girl. She loved her mistress and knew that her responses today were sharper than usual because she was upset at her husband. Adora was a prayerful woman and felt the strength of God's peace overshadow her as they waited for the milliner to return.
Impulsively her mistress asked the miliner, Who is the young man that we saw only a minute ago.
The miliner smiled and said, Why he is my son Joshua?
The Duchess jaw dropped for she knew the young man was mixed. Why how can this be?
The milliner laughed and said, Well I did everything nice and legan I adopted him. You see when he was but a lad I found him on the streets selling wood. His parents had died and he was a poor waif. He asked for lodging and I gave him a home. Why you know my lady it was the Christian thing to do.
The duchess smiled and said, Yes yes it was a kind thnk to do...but..she paused..and stammered he is well he is ...
Handsome, the milliner laughed.
Adora smiled as she knew the milliner cleverly responded.
Why yes indeed said the Duchess he is very handsome. She pushed Adora forward. Yes and isn't my maid pretty?
Very much so.
She is as sweet as can be and is an excellent servant and also a Christian girl. I would love for him to visit a spell from time tio time when she is not on duty to keep company with her.
The young man was standing at curtain and his heart did a somersault as he eyed the pretty maiden and the notion that he a poor boy from the streets was being invited into the residence of a government offial. He hoped his father would consent for him to keep company with the young woman.
My son is of age my Lady. He can make such a decision.
The Duchess batted her eyes and stated emphatically, Well! I would think you sir would be elated to have your son come to my home and visit the maiden.
I am, but he is of age and can make that decision.
The Duchess seemed offended and removed her hat from her head and stormed out of the store.
The milliner yelled behind her, My Lady, you forgot your hat. She whisked out without so much as a word. She muttered as they went into the dress shop.
Joshua commented, It seems my lady was offended.
His father nodded and shrugged his shoulders with his hands extended, Women, whether duchess or peasant who can figure them He patted his son's shoulder. Well it's time to close up my boy.
Joshua observe the carriage move speedily down the cobblestone street and wished he were a fly on the wall of hte mind of the pretty maiden to know what she thought of him. Joshua swept with vigor and hummed and his father smiled and knew that he would make a visit to the duke's residence later in the week.
The arguement could be heard in the corridor as the duchess followed behind the duke who held a glass of sherry in his hand and suddenly he turend around a( )uptly and told her, " Please it is enough with these accusations, you know not what you speak of and I grow weary of these taxing questions. I am a government official and you may see me in the public with many but do know one thing all is not as it seems." He took a sip from his glass. I wish you were like this glass of sherry soothing and quiet. He opened the door to the bedroom chamber and slammed it as she was approaching the door. She heard the door lock.
She crossed her arms emphatically and leaned against the door and filled her cheeks with air and began to blow and then turned around and began to knock incessantly.
Adora hearing the clamor rushed from her bedchamber tying together her tattered robe. My heavens my lady what on earth is the matter. Have you locked yourself out of your bedchamber.
Now her voice was high pitched and almost a shrill. Absolutely not the Duke has locked me out. You must speak to him Adora. He adores you and will listen to you. As her mistress looked in the maidens face she saw a peace that she longed for.
Adora saw the desperation in the face of her mistress and consented to speak with the Duke.
Timidly she knocked at the door, There was no response and she knocked again. She slowly pushed open the door but the Duke was not to be found. The door to the balcony was ajar. She appraoched the balcony with a degree of trepidation. She looked below and spotted the duke speaking to the tall woman that she knew was clearly a male. The dynamic betwixt the two men was not preverse which she was relieved to witness. The Duke spotted her and plkaced his finger to his lips conveying that what she had observed was to not be uttered.
The Duke immmediately descended the staircase and closed the doors to balcony and his voice was just slightly above a whisper.
Has she sent you here to spy on me?
Oh my lord I wouldn't say spy but to inquire.
Very well. I will tell you. The woman that you see is none ohter than the rightful hir to the thorne of Shalimar. The woman is none other than Leopold the IV.
Her dainy hand covered her mouth. No! How can this be. He has been deceased for over a year.
It is a lie perpetuated by his ( )other Brolin who occupied the throne. This is why I have been keeping late hours to help the king return to his rightful position. He has cleverly donned this disguise so that no one discovers his whereabouts. To your knowledge he is a fine lady of of Wotchester.
Adora listened intently to every word that the Duke spoke and he disclosed the day and time the rightful king was going to enter the palace and expose the lie that his ( )other had promulgated throughout Shalimar to secure the throne.
Adora asked Why can my mistress not be informed of this my lord.
I will tell her but not now. It is too risky. My wife is quite the chatterbox and her friendship with the towncriers wife would be a tasty morsel of news that she would not withhold from her and if she knows the towncrier knows and if he knows Shalimar knows and if this news reaches the throne King Leopold will be abducted and removed from society. King Leopold is the rightful heir and my allegience has been to him always.
I relieve you of your duties to aide the duchess tonight. I know you are a praying woman and I ask you to pray for God to be gracious unto our nation and deliver our rightful king to the throne. Leopold is a Godfearing man and his ( )other is not. Leopold is a Christian man who believes in governing the people in integrity and seeks God for wisdom and surrounds himself with men who consult the LORD. It is this leader that Shalimar needs. Not a cruel uncaring leader who makes decisions that fattens his pockets and oppresses the poor. You Adora have been spared such injustice for you are our handmaiden and we have not withheld any good thing from you. His gaze was intent upon her. Should this be uttered from your lips I will permanently relieve you of your duties. Do I make myself clear.
Yes my lord clear as the crystal chandelier I clean daily. I do appreciate your kindness to me. I will not betray your trust but not for fear of being relieved of my position but because of my love for you and the mistress.
He smiled winningly and placed a kiss upon her forhead. At that precise moment the Duchess walked in. Witnessing the gesture of affection betwixt her spouse and her maiden she yelled with horror. Adora! How could you>
Adora's eyes widened with surprise. Oh no my lady it is not as it appears.
Her spouse moved towards his wife and gripped her shoulders. Leave us Adora. I must speak with my wife privily.
Adora moved swiftly out of the room. Her heart beat ferociously behind her rib cage. She immediately went to her bedchambers and prayed that God would vindicate her in the sight of her mistress.