“Ally…” Christophe’s voice echoed through the still air, drawing closer as he came running up. “We were searching for you as soon as we realised that you were no longer amongst the group. Mr. Newton tried to give us the slip, but we’ve sorted it all out. Are you alright?”
Then he noticed Rhaïd.
“What happened to Mr. Mahalle?”
Alexandra felt faint, as her pale skin whitened. She leant onto Christophe’s arm as he guided her back up to his level, and her voice shook with shock.
“He was after me. I was to be his…wonderful free bride when we arrived in London Town… I was holding the sceptre- the cane- and…”
She willed herself not to cry, but looking down at the body lying amongst dark green lichens, she was overwhelmed with the emotions that adrenalin had coated: guilt, fear, the pain of her twisted ankle. Finally it was too much, and Alexandra burst into tears. She felt a hand upon her back, and was swept into Christophe’s embrace, letting her tears pour onto his waistcoat.
“I understand, dear,” Christophe whispered, stroking a couple of locks of Alexandra’s soft golden hair.
The maid fought back more tears. She wanted to tell of something that was putting weight upon her mind; the truth had be found now, otherwise her tears would consume every question that bloomed into her naturally curious mind.
“There was something else too, Christophe…”
Alexandra paused, unable to go on describing the seconds of something insane.
“Go on…” the butler gently prompted.
“I don’t know if I should… I mean…I…”
“Alexandra?” There was something of amusement in Christophe’s voice as he watched the maid fumble with her words. He was concerned, yes, but he also had that cheeky heart that loved to tease. To see Alexandra squirm was a way of movement so unlike her usual self that he smiled, for the change that was upon her.
“When I was in true possession of the cane…”
“…It felt like I could be able to do many things. I looked at Rhaïd and he was no longer a threat, merely an adversary that I had to defeat in order to not only be safe, but also to rise up. That feeling, in hindsight, worries me. I don’t understand why it existed in me. Do you think the sceptre…? Or was it that I myself…?” She could not go on.
“If you mean to ask whether you had become fixated under its spell just like Mr. Mahalle, I would not worry yourself, my dear girl. The theory I propose is that what you actually experienced when the cane was brought into your hands at the time of your greatest peril was that of the beat of high adrenalin. You had a powerful stick, as shown, in your hands, and with it came the thrill of being in command of your freedom.”
“So I’m not going mad?” said Alexandra, in a very small voice.
Christophe released his warm, golden laugh into the air again, creating a pocket of light in Alexandra’s worried heart. She began to feel said heart recovering from the madness of the day.
“Far from it, Alexandra. You were more in control than ever. In fact, I do believe that your mind contains more ordered sanity than that of Mrs. Winters’!”
And that comment made Alexandra laugh a little, filled to the brim with respect, but also deep gratitude and even deeper love for this man who was willing to do anything in order to rescue her.
She snuggled up into his warm, humming chest.
However, the dark of the day was still in both their hearts, Christophe’s less so, and Alexandra sighed. She was overwhelmed. As her love felt the quickening rise and fall of her chest, he knew was what coming and held her closer as tears brimmed in his own eyes; he did hate to see Alexandra in such a state.
Once again, she burst into tears and sobbed away into the afternoon.