Phillip opened his eyes drearily as he felt Richards tense. The butler was, once again, and for the fourth time, going through his ‘summoning’ ritual. Phillip rolled his eyes halfheartedly as he released the grip.
“This is ridiculous,” he muttered unenthusiastically, and darkly.
Richards continued chanting, reaching for Phillip’s hand one more, but the latter pulled away.
“It’s not working… My connection with Aidelle is not enough, not strong enough. Oh, Peter, open your eyes; I was being so stupidly naïve when I took your offer up. Of course, it was never going to work. What I saw of Aidelle was a reflection of the past; a mirage…”
Still Peter kept his eyes tightly shut, even as his eyebrows wiggled into a frown, even when Richards relaxed his grip on Phillip’s arm and his grasp of Peter’s hand.
Suddenly, the door banged open as Beth, the maid, ran in. Seeing the three of them, she curtsied, embarrassed and waited to proceed. Richards frowned at her.
“Do go on, Beth.”
“Sorry, sirs,” she squeaked, “You asked me to warn you if, and when dinner would be ready and if the Dr and Ma’am started asking things…um, questions, too… Well, they have and were asking if we’d seen Masters Phillip and…Peter. I came here as soon as soon as possible, ‘cause they were going to be quite insistent. I…um, didn’t want you to get in trouble, Peter…”
Her sentences did not make clear English, and her voice trembled as she fumbled with the words.
“That’s very sweet of you, Beth,” Peter’s eyes snapped wide open, and he broke away from the triangle, taking the maid by the hands.
Beth’s round face flushed pink and she slipped on a coy smile. Her dusty gold hair was tied into a tight ponytail, but still strands slipped out across her neat eyebrows and baby blue eyes. She had a smudge of flour on her nose, a typical Beth mistake as her hands were always shaking and she was not particularly well coordinated.
Peter raised a hand and gently brushed the flour off Beth’s nose; his hand hovered over her face slightly, before sense reached the boy and he lowered his hands, but not his eyes. Phillip arched his eyebrows as Peter’s eyes caressed her soft lips and nose. Richards, however, was ignorant to their ‘friendship’.
“Run along now, Beth. Thank you for your assistance.” The butler said, brushing her off as he would a piece of dust. Once she had gone, he opened the door to his room and led Phillip and Peter back through the winding servant halls. The kitchen, when they arrived at it, was almost empty, but for one of the cooks and the lingering young kitchen maid. On seeing this, Phillip broke into a jog, taking the exterior stairs to the pantry two at a time. He cried at the pain that his injured leg gave, and stumbled on the final steps.
Peter shot a glance to Richards, leisurely walking behind him, before catching up with Phillip. It was obvious that the butler would have other things to do, than help the brothers any longer.
Standing unsteadily, Phillip wanted to be alone. But, as he shot a look at his younger brother, Phillip’s heart softened. Love, he knew, did that to people.
“Beth will lose her job if mother and father find out.” He spoke, as he slowed to Peter’s pace.
“What…?” Peter frowned, walking (if it were possible) even slower.
“Don’t think that I didn’t see what happened between you two back there,” Phillip mumbled unhappily, “I’m happy for you, but a relationship with someone of that status is good for no-one.”
Peter blushed, looking down, but when he spoke, his voice was hard.
“There is no relationship. Beth and I, we’re friends. That’s all.”
“Don’t expect it to last.” His brother responded sharply.
“There’s nothing going on, I promise you.”
“But, at the rate you’re going, they soon will be. How many times a week do you see each other? I remember when Aidelle and I met; soon we found ourselves going out of the way to bump into each other.”
He sighed deeply, but soon the brothers were at the door to the dining room. To speak now would be to put them both in trouble.
“Go in, sirs; you have my word to say nothing, but please don’t expect me to create an alibi. I’m sorry, sirs. Peter…”
Peter shrugged, and tapped the butler on the shoulder casually.
“You’ve done all that you can.”
Then, he turned into the room.