They were mere meters away from David Morton when Rose drew to a sudden halt. Claudia noticed this at once and stopped by her side. “Who is Laura Beeden?” Rose asked quietly, for some deep instinct told her that this was not a conversation to be overheard. Claudia seemed to tensen slightly as she drew in a deep breath. She glanced around them with an uncharacteristic air of unease, before crouching down so that her face was level to Rose’s with one hand resting upon her shoulder. “Rose, you mustn’t ask that sort of question.”
“Why not?” Rose began to mimic Claudia’s tone which was so silent that it was almost a whisper.
“Because the topic of Laura Beeden is a dangerous one....” She paused and Rose knew not to speak; that she could be on the brink of becoming Claudia’s confidant. “Laura Beeden - ” Claudia began before pausing, obviously thinking hard “is the daughter of the Finance Minister and... it is very likely that she is to become the next Mrs. Randall.”
Rose was taken aback “The next Mrs. Randall?” apparently she said this a bit too loudly for Claudia shushed her as her grip on her shoulder tightened for half a second. Lowering her voice once more Rose murmured “But why is that so dangerous?”
Claudia didn’t speak for a moment, she had locked gazes with someone behind Rose who - unnerved by the stare - moved on. She moved closer to Rose “It is dangerous because it is unknown. No one wishes to say anything just in case it is merely a rumour and the fact that they were talking about it reaches Randall. To say that that would be badly received is an understatement.”
“Oh.” Rose was still confused, but she sensed that Claudia did not wish to discuss it further. Straightening up she once more ushered her young charge towards her father.
“What happened to your neck?” Claudia muttered but Rose simply shook her head. They reached David and the conversation he was having halted.