I had managed to overhear a little of what Rebecca had told James at the ball, due to his leaving the door open, and he had found me at some point to tell me he would call on me as soon as he found more information. But I wasn't expecting his visit the next morning, or his urgent behavior.
Moira had answered the door, while I had hovered out of sight, knowing that her disapproval of the situation might result in her sending him away, or at least making him wait a while before allowing him to see me. Yet in hearing the desperation in his voice, I was suddenly at the door, practically pushing Moira out of the way, along with all the rules regarding the proper behavior for young ladies.
Without a word I led James into the sitting room, before indicating to Moira that we were not to be disturbed, not even for the courtesy hot drink and sweet treats that such a visit demanded. As soon as my maid was gone, with plenty of glares on her part, I turned to James. "What is it?" I asked, my face worried.
With a hurried urgency in his voice, James spoke out in a rush, telling me everything Rebecca had told him, and then the further information he had learnt this morning. With each word I could feel my face grow paler, as my hands gripped my seat so tightly that my knuckles were bleached white.
"And this information is accurate?" I finally asked, trying to keep my voice from showing the panic that was fighting its way among me.
"Yes. They are making their preparations right now. From the sound of it the effect of this powder will be devastating to the Iberans. Many lives will be lost if you don't get this information out," James said.
"What about you?" I asked, thinking back on his words. Surely by passing on this information he was placing himself at great risk.
He glanced at me, his eyes worried. "There is a small risk to my cover, I admit. But my position in the Queen's Escort should protect me. I'm more worried about the people, innocent soldiers, whose lives will be lost if you don't get this information across."
I nodded, my hands still clenching the chair, thinking of the options. A pigeon would have to be sent immediately, as soon as I could. I only hoped that Jon would be near where the pigeon had been trained to fly to, and that he could get the message across as soon as possible. I also knew that I should call Alex, that in case something happened to me she should learn this information as well. Maybe a messenger could be sent as well, just in case. This information had to be delivered, it was of to great an import not to be.
"You are right, I need to act now,' I said, my own voice now displaying the urgency that had been in his, as I tried to stand from my seat without shaking. "Forgive me for not showing you out as I should, but there is little time for discussion, and I'm afraid I've already wasted too much with my questions."
James nodded and for a second his gaze lingered on my face. "Stay safe," he murmured, reaching out to gently squeeze my hand with such care. Then he turned, and was heading to the door to show himself out.
I hurried out of the room too, calling for Moira, who of course hadn't gone far. "Send for Alex now,, and then bring me some writing materials and ready one of the birds. We have a letter to get out and time is of the essence."
She nodded, quickly setting about dispatching one of the other servants with a carefully written note explaining that Miss Olivia greatly desired that Miss Alex call on her at her convenience. Alex would know that that meant with great urgency and as soon as possible. Then a paper was fetched and ink. I was soon penning the words, writing with as great an urgency as the need to translate the words into code would allow. Finally the letter was done.
A knock sounded at the door. Expecting it to be Alex, I dashed to the door, letter still in hand. She would want to read it if possible before it was sent, and there was little time as it was. Accosting her with it as soon as she stepped through the door would save time.
However, when I opened the door, I was soon to find that it was not Alex who awaited me on the other side.