Chapter CXI

‘Well, this is certainly an excuse to re-organise!’

Carla’s answering laugh was bright and joyful. She would’ve enjoyed doing anything with Quigley, now he was back with her again. They were putting all the books Hathering and Lockspate had saved back onto the shelves, dusting and categorising them as they went.

‘I’ve been meaning to do it for ages,’ Quigley admitted. ‘But I never quite got round to it. It’s such an enormous job, that’s why.’

Beatrix was beginning to see a new side to Carla and Quigley. She’d always thought that they treated her more like a person than anyone else at court, but it seemed that even they had been treating her differently. Because now they’d ceased to do so, and she noticed.

She was on her windowseat. Her windowseat. Reading Volume Ten of her little green books with her name engraved in gold on the front.

Volume Ten. Her latest diary. Four pages ago, two days ago, she’d been drawing. That picture drew her eyes now, even though it hurt her. Deeply.

She wasn’t an artist, but she’d managed to capture his careless blond hair streaked with dirty brown, the lines of laughter around his eyes and mouth, the mischievous glitter in his eyes. He was the most lively person she had ever met. Bright, laughing, full of vitality and a love of life that Beatrix couldn’t help sharing in.

And now she’d hurt him. And herself. Was it really worth it? What was it, anyway? The peace and prosperity of Disnarta? Oh, and her marriage choice would make a large difference to that, wouldn’t it.

Carla and Quigley were so lucky. They didn’t have to think about anything like this. They had to love each other and have enough money to live on. They were the only considerations.

Sometimes Beatrix wished she’d been born a peasant.

The End

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