James - Among Friends

When I heard the words, my heart sank. A tear rolled down my cheek, betraying my practiced exterior. I took a deep, loud breath and mumbled something to myself.

“What is it, Mr. Newberry?” her Majesty asked. Before answering, I glanced at her majesty and the sobbing lady of the court, Eliza’s friend.

“I just spoke to her.” I proceeded to outline the details of the last conversation I had with Eliza. I could tell that the lady of the court was surprised I was saying such things in her presence, not to mention the fact that she was standing next to the queen of Handrin, hearing such things. I finished by saying, “I wonder if she was able to deliver the message.”

The queen turned her attention to the lady of the court. “What has been reported to the Iberans?” she asked. The lady of the court glanced at Mr. Hurst.

“Ma’am, if I may be so bold,” Mr. Hurst addressed the queen. With a nod from her majesty, he continued, “She is scared and in need of reassurance.”

“Very well,” the queen replied with a slight nod. “What is your name, Child?”

“Alexandra, ma’am.” The reply was delivered without tears or sobbing.

“Well, Alexandra.” The queen placed a hand on Alexandra’s shoulder. “You are among friends. What is said here is known only by the four of us. So, what has been reported?”

“I prefer not to say, ma’am.” Alexandra gulped after delivering the difficult words.

“You have a strong will, Alexandra. I admire that.” The queen turned her attention back to me. “Mr. Newberry, if Alexandra knows what Miss Olivia St. James knows, what is she not telling me?”

“I have not been trusted with details concerning what they have learned since they have been here. I know more of her background.”

“Do you know her real name?” the queen asked, her question visibly shocking Alexandra. Realizing this, she added, “I’ve suspected for quite a while.”

“Eliza, ma’am.” My reply made Alexandra’s eyebrows raise. Was she still surprised at this conversation after all this time? My answer had a completely different effect on the queen.

“Eliza, you say.” She spoke the words slowly. She put her arms out, gesturing for a chair which was provided by Mr. Hurst. After she sat down, she continued, “Does her background fit?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I was hoping that if someone got close enough, the truth would come out.” Turning her attention back to Alexandra, the queen continued, “Eliza is safe. I assure you of that.”

Alexandra gulped before speaking. “How can you be sure, ma’am?”

“Because Rebecca Mays does not know the loyalty of each of her spies. I have someone in my corner. He will look after Eliza. Now, what has been reported? The lives of our fellow Iberans are at stake.”

“But, ma’am,” Alexandra replied in protest, “I am from Handrin.”

“You can drop the act,” the queen replied. “I have known you are not from Handrin for quite some time. I also know the identity of Eliza. She is Eliza Frances, the daughter of Sir Frances of Ibera, a general, I believe.”

Alexandra started breathing harder.

The End

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