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The Prize is Not as Great as You Think: Chapter 7

7) This Can Not be Our Crown Prince


Catherine stood with some others waiting to be admitted to see the new Crown Prince. Her father, Lord Keller, had asked her if she would help the new Crown Prince with writing his speeches. Today, because of what happened the previous day, she had her one black gown on. Thankfully it was easily modified and she had spent the previous day doing so.

Knowing that Prince Michael Alan was not doing well, she had been thinking of purchasing a formal mourning gown. Her parents of course had such clothes. But the murder of the Crown Prince had been a surprise, despite the earlier attempts on his life, and Catherine had not found anything she could wear and fit into in her closets but the one gown.

It was tasteful, and she had spent the better part of the afternoon the day before turning the wing collar that had been of red, into one of all black that encircled her neck. She did not think anyone could see that she was an imperfect seamstress unless they took a very close look at her handiwork. Fortunately, aside from the collar and cuffs of red, the rest of piece had been dark. The cuffs, when torn away had revealed black linings, and a satin band at each easily gave the lie that the piece was intended for mourning at the outset.

Catherine thought  Prince Gerald was smart to realize that he needed to perfect what he said when he spoke in public. That did make such a difference. She was of the opinion that more of the men in the Assembly needed to study how to speak well. One lord, an FP, or FitzRoy Perry family member as many called them, often got up and spluttered and stuttered for some time before he could speak his thought. Being the daughter of the Grand Prince’s Minister of Justice allowed her to watch the proceedings of the Assembly. Not that many of the proceedings had an impact of the currently ruling FP, Grand Prince Michael Alan.

Her father had come home that morning after midnight but Catherine had not yet gone to sleep. Her younger brothers were still awake as well as her mother, and all the servants. It was not rare that her father was summoned to the palace for the Grand Prince had need throughout the year to do so. The death of Crown Prince Reginald had made the day different then any other times. Two years before the King of Italy had been assassinated. Catherine remembered that. Then twenty years before, her father said, the Tsar of Russia had been murdered. Even the Empress of Austria had been attacked, so it was not just the leaders, but their wives too that were vulnerable.

It was a pathetic excuse of a man that attacked the wife of one of the rulers of the kingdoms of Europe. Catherine and the Keller household understood some of what was to be done to end the insanity. Catherine knew that the other attempts to kill Reginald had resulted in meetings at the Celebont Palace. Even one that her father had called an emergency. This though was definitely a meeting to handle a national crisis. Not that the Minister of Justice could contribute much, he told them when he returned home.

Lord Keller described how competent the new Crown Prince seemed. A quiet man who had come up seldom from the country to attend the ceremonies he had to as an FP. There were so many FitzRoy Perrys everywhere that you had to watch what you said in public on occasion. Even mother said she had some of the FP blood but not that you would notice. One sixteenth she said and no reason to bring it up. Not even for the boys' sake. Though on that, her father disagreed. They would each have to go to the army and train as officers for two years. Then if they wished to do something else, and Lord Keller hoped that they both would read law, they could.

Her brothers were voracious readers. As was she.

Catherine had not had to go to the army, and she knew from the age of fourteen that she wanted to study law. So she did, though she would never be allowed to practice it, for women were not recognized in such professions. She did excel at it and even helped her father in his duties as the Minister of Justice. Eight years she had studied law and had helped to write several of the rulings that the Grand Prince needed to deliver about the law.

A mix of English Law, the Code Napoleon and even Halakhah, the Rabbinic Jewish law made up the laws of Almondy. Lord Keller was beside himself though, when he returned home.

“I fear the young man has a great deal of work ahead of him, but then I suppose I thought the same of Reginald and did not know if he would be up to the task. These last two years we thought that our own anarchists of Almondy were behind these attempts, but the young Crown Prince mentioned that he thought the Germans or French could just as easily be behind the actions.

“I have been a fool, and the other ministers also not seeing it. Lord Hermes has some of the spies report to him and if he has thought this, he has never said such before to me, or talked of it to Prince Michael Alan either I surmise. If the other nations would result to such murder, and now I think they very well could, we are in for dire times. Prince Gerald is right that peace, which we want, may have been wrenched from our grasp and no matter how hard we cry for it, the war that comes will rend us apart. That, Reginald would never have been able to govern us through.”

“Father, do not say so. Prince Reginald would have found a way.” Catherine did not think that Reginald was some hero. But he was gone now, and she was not sure that it was as bleak as her father said.

He nodded, “You are right. I should not speak so of the dead. I must tell you though, Catherine, you have been requested to be at the Palace promptly at seven. The council all thought you would be the best help for his highness. He feels he must speak publicly, and he is right. Prince Gerald wants to have speeches prepared and seeks help, for he says he is just a farmer. I think he is much more than that and Steilenberg will never be the same. Can you go tomorrow early and help him? If you do not want to, I shall send your regrets. I know he will understand.”

Her mother shook her head, “How does one say no to the Crown Prince? Did you ever think to say no to Reginald?”

Lord Keller smiled. “I did think so, and several times I had to. Sometimes what he did was outside the law, so to speak. Other men we would have jailed for such actions but his father makes the law and the Crown Prince is presumed to have such powers if needed. However when asked for advice or told what he wanted to do, I did tell Reginald no. More than once. But this is a new Crown Prince. One I do not think is as wild.”

“That was not what I meant, husband. If you are asked to be of service to the crown, you have always said you are to say yes. When asked to be of service, you serve. This is how you have taught our children.”

Mother had not looked happy, Catherine reflected. She surely feared that Gerald would be like his cousin Reginald. Part of the papers that her father avoided were the pages that were devoted to what the notables of the Principality did. The gossip section, her mother called it.

Her mother read that section daily and usually it had been filled with the exploits of Reginald and various aristocratic women, or women of lessor society who thought assignations with Reginald would see to their rise in the highest circles. Which it did. Some weeks later, women who had been reported as having been seen with Reginald or had slept with him, often found themselves awarded to orders of Almondy’s aristocracy. He was indiscriminate in his attentions and his gifting to the ladies he favored. It was also a prerogative of the Crown and one that the Crown Prince nearly diminished in his abuse of it.

Now Catherine stood with several men, only one she recognized, waiting for the Crown Prince to finish his breakfast. The man who stood out, William Glau, was famous in those gossip papers her mother read. He never had as many entries as Reginald had, he did however escort some of the very same women. Catherine had never had the pleasure of Glau’s favor. Nor that of Reginald, thankfully, though she had met Reginald several times here at the Celebont Palace. Catherine believed herself smart enough not to attend Reginald at his Sundawn Palace, and wisely had found excuses on the two occasions the Prince’s royal notice thought to bestow itself on her with an invitation to be escorted by him to a society event. Which would have culminated after at the Sundawn Palace and one of its bedrooms.

Athelstan then appeared as the clock struck a quarter past seven, “What, are you gentlemen still waiting? Well his highness is running late I am sure.” Athelstan looked like he would advance to the doors and open them.

There was a man dressed in the uniform of a cavalry captain. “If it would please you, Lord Athelstan, cousin, his Royal highness Gerald is still breakfasting and has left orders not to be disturbed.”

Athelstan laughed, “Cousin Lieven, you know I am no lord, and Reginald often said the same which never stopped me before.”

Athelstan continued to move to the door, but there were four guardsmen, in what were very strange guard uniforms standing there. A sergeant also stood there. His sword drawn.

Athelstan was not a lord, Catherine knew. A man who was unique and she was sure he preferred that reputation. The white to the black that had been Reginald. He advanced the last steps to the doors of the room they had all waited in front of and two of the guards brought their rifles up and aimed them at Athelstan. “Far enough my lord,” the sergeant said. “His highness is quite serious about being interrupted. I would hate to have to kill you. The Grand Prince having lost one son yesterday, losing his other son today would be crushing.”

Athelstan stopped cold. “This is not funny sergeant.”

“Not laughing my lord. But his highness gave us instructions and he speaks with the Grand Prince’s voice now. I had that direct from my predecessor who heard the Grand Prince and saw the proclamation. Seems he said you knew something of it as well, if my memory is right.”

“Yes, yes, last night. I am sure my father is overcome with the grief at my brother’s murder. Will you now tell Prince Gerald that I, and these others await?” Athelstan gestured to them all.

“Seems he knows about the other, for one of the footmen inside the dining hall put his head out a few minutes ago to say things were running late. We had a man run for coffees for the lords and lady here. Perhaps you can ask one of the footmen to fetch you one as well. But no one knocks on the door to interrupt the prince except the Grand Prince himself, and I know that your father is not yet awake, my lord.” The sergeant seemed to enjoy the task he had. Catherine had to admit it was a little comical.

Athelstan grunted in exasperation and then turned to the cavalry captain, “Sir David, do you know what this is about?”

“No. Prince Gerald has a meeting.” Catherine then placed the man’s name as Sir David Lieven and remembered she had a branch of cousins named Lieven. Perhaps she had met them, for once every few years all the distant cousins were invited to the Celebont Palace for one reason or another. FPs were invited much more often.

“This lord annoyance. What of that?” Athelstan asked.

“Oh that I can tell you. Though you should wait till Prince Gerald does.” It was clear Athelstan was too impatient to wait. “He thinks you have long been dishonored, for the last royal bastard was acknowledged as a lord. Our entire family line was founded by a bastard, as are our English cousins. There should be no shame, and you should be honored he feels. He intends to show you such respect, ask your father to show you such respect and have the principality give you it.”

Catherine turned her mind from what the two talked of, for Athelstan clearly did not want any such recognition. He must have become hardened to not being treated kindly by his father in that regard and begun to wear that treatment like a coat to keep others away. Catherine looked about the hall. William Glau, Sir David Lieven, she wondered who the others were and why Prince Gerald required them here.

Two footmen approached with the coffees on a tray. She had learned that in many places in the palace, the kitchen staff had taken to converting rooms, or closets where they could, into places that such light refreshment could be prepared so that it would not be cold when asked for by those who needed it. Having been at the Palace many times, she knew that the main kitchen, for there were two others beside the main one, was quite a walk from the largest hall that was used for banquets. The hottest food prepared there would be only warm without devices to reheat them before being served to the royals and their guests.

“Your coffee my lady,” a footman said. She thanked him. She was a lady for she was the daughter of a lord. Her father a baron. But not a great landholder. His lands in the north of the country and on the German side. He would have been awarded the same title by courtesy as well when he had become the Prince’s Minister. Men without land or title but who had proven skills so valuable as to advise the Gand Prince and lead a ministry for him were given such titles. A mark of respect.

That, Catherine believed, was the best use of title, to mark respect. And the best way one who had a title should use it. To live up to the respect that went with it. That was how she was raised and how her father acted. That colored her own views, she knew. That, and how she read and interpreted the law. Thankfully, most of the Grand Princes had known well to make the law stronger than privilege. Far too many of the aristocrats thought that the law did not apply to them. The truth was that very few laws did not apply to the aristocrats, though the Grand Prince and his family could do virtually anything they desired.

She wondered how that applied to Prince Gerald for he was a cousin of the Grand Prince, but he was not the son of the Grand Prince. The law was built upon the Crown Prince being the son of the Grand Prince if he were to bend law or tradition. Gerald also did have a proclamation imbuing him with the powers of the Crown Prince until his investiture which was custom and necessary to cover the period until that day. It gave him all the powers as if he had sat through the ancient ceremony.

Why have the ceremony if the proclamation existed, her legal mind asked. For the ceremony only was that. A chance for all the principalities notables to gather and be seen by the populace. A chance for pomp. She could watch from outside St. Albans, but her parents would have to dress up, her father wearing his robes of state, and attend inside the cathedral. The ministers sat opposite the Dukes and Counts and their wives.

Though they would probably be all gathered a few days before in more conservative and somber clothes for the funeral of Prince Reginald. Her father had said it would be the following Wednesday and he said that he wished all his family to attend the lying in state, preferably sometime today. She had seen some people already at St. Albans forming a line, and a few constables there readying barricades to facilitate a line. More than three hundred thousand lived in Steilenberg, and with those close enough to travel to the city and back to their towns and villages in a day by simple means, well over a million. The city would be packed the entire week and then the following Wednesday, it was going to be a nightmare.

The door to the room where the Prince breakfasted opened and two footmen came out with carts of food. They hurried by and then another man came out striding quickly and carrying several portfolios. There was a call from inside and the guard at the doors then snapped to attention and opened the doors fully, “You may all go in, the Prince is ready for you.”

The men, and Athelstan especially, made their way forward, but Catherine turned to look at the servants who had left. She saw one give his tray to another of the servants who had been in the hall, and then he hurried after the man with the portfolios. That made little sense to her.

She entered and tried to place the Prince in front of her, now standing with a tea cup in his hand, wearing an army uniform, with three ribbons. One would be a service ribbon for all got that when they were in the army, but three ribbons were few for a Prince. It was also low in rank. The bars of a lieutenant? He was the commander of countless regiments and the most powerful man in the army aside from the Grand Prince. Why wear that? And why were the uniforms of the Guards so strange? Why did they point their rifles at Athelstan? This all was very confusing.

She had seen the man before of course. He was on the front left side these last few years when carrying the platform that the Statue of St. Michael was placed atop. Before that he must have been at the gatherings for family at the palace. He must have been very distantly related to her.

“Good, and Athelstan, I did not expect you this morning. Oh, you must be Lady Keller. Forgive me for being late. I am new to all this and these men, did you introduce yourselves?” He then did make introductions and told her how dreadfully late the men, his friends were up last night and had returned that morning to do him service. He then told all who wished to have a pastry and enjoy more coffee or tea. He proclaimed it excellent tea and much better then he had been making for himself the last few years. His friends laughed at that.

“Your father tells me you also know a great deal of the law. These friends and Athelstan are my conscience. I know that we need to make changes in many things, and Athelstan here has told me these last few years how much of a powder keg things have become in Almondy. That Reginald was killed because of it. So changes we make, plans we start, and we do what we can to prepare. If you will help me write the words to all our people that I must see and speak to so we can restore calm to Almondy. Help us find a way to get peace here, and abroad, your principality will be grateful. And if you think we overstep the law, please tell us.”

He smiled then and it reached his eyes. She saw a man who was tall, at least two inches above six feet, perhaps three. The FitzRoy Perrys had been working towards such height for generations. Michael, the Castle Snatch, was regarded tall at five feet nine. Though that figure was not written down, his suit of armor had been preserved in the royal armory and then transferred to the new museum, opposite the Sundawn Palace. Catherine had seen it and the curators had made a big production that several hundred years ago, the first Prince was taller than many others of the time.

Gerald seemed lean to her, though broad in the shoulders. Much more so than the cousin who stood near, Sir David. She could look to each in uniform and see that Gerald’s shoulders were broader than his torso, while Sir David’s shoulder were the same width as his hips. Catherine made to laugh at herself for she had begun to look at men that way recently.

Sir Pascal Renard had begun to pay attention to her. The son of an industrialist, much like William Glau, though not in munitions, he was rich and well connected. Only a third generation Almondian, but owned two clothing factories and he was making a good deal of money from them. He had asked her to various social activities and that she had agreed to go to three so far with him was a novelty for her. She had never gone on three dates with any man.

Most men she met she had not cared what they looked like. For instance she could see that the Prince had sandy brown hair which made his face light and his blue eyes even made it lighter. A strong chin caused her attention to center at his mouth and eyes, and his nose did not get in the way when he spoke. He also was clean shaven, which was not usual for much of the nobility of Almondy. Sir David standing near him had a moustache, groomed and sitting atop his lip as if it had decided that a simple blanket needed to be applied to that spot.

“You have to forgive our cousin,” Sir David said. “Usually he is much more aware of the social amenities and would ask after your mother and brothers, though he may have forgotten that you have two younger brothers.”

Gerald laughed, “Yes, I am sorry I hope that they are in good health, and I promise to be attentive to such at a later date. I have a meeting with the Assembly leadership though this morning, then the Ecumenical Council of Almondy, and still no word on plans for cousin Reginald but that he lays in state at St. Albans. I must go and will try to be there at noon, as well at Evensong this night. I do not know if Prince Michael Alan shall accompany me. I have much to do and keep forgetting what is the most important thing I should be doing. I hope though you can aid us. Krabe here,” He pointed to another man in uniform who had entered, motioning to two behind him to stay back, “is my aide de camp at the moment and has an agenda for the day. It has been revised since I arose, twice. He and I could use as much help as we can find. I suppose cousin Athelstan you are laughing at this. I know you are grieving for Reginald as does the Principality, but laughing as I see you do, because I am overwhelmed by all this, is not supportive.”

Athelstan was laughing, and the other men seemed to see the humor as well. Even the man Krabe who had entered, also in a cavalry uniform like Sir David, laughed and then quickly made himself devoid of expression.

They all did laugh then and the Prince seemed to laugh as much as any. She had not known Sir Pascal to laugh at any of his own predicaments and he had been involved in some when they were together. “Yes highness, I will help as best I may. I am sure that anyone you asked to help at this time would be honored to aid you.”

Here he became serious and stepped over to her, taking her arm firmly. “Excuse me for a moment gentlemen,” Prince Gerald guided her to a mirror which turned out to be a door. “Apparently the Palace is riddled with such doors. This leads to a hallway but there is a door on the other side of the hallway to another room. Quite a good view actually, will you join me.” He had not let go of her arm and actually had guided her.

“Yes of course.” She was not going to refuse the Crown Prince anything. Not at all.

As he had said a thin hallway, but then if it were a secret hallway, they were probably all thin. Across was another door and here was a room with a balcony. “You will see when we are returned to the other room that if you leave by the door at the end of the room, there is a hallway that brings you to this room as well. But I thought to share a secret with you, though perhaps your father has shared this already with you.”

“No highness. Not this.”

He nodded, “Well those men in the other room, most, I have known for years and I am going to share with them at various times my true thoughts. I am going to look for ways to maintain the peace. Here amongst ourselves if we are really threatened by anarchists, or between us and the other countries of Europe, I need the best and brightest to help me not because they feel that they must. If that is what brought you here, please go home. Really, I will ask odd things at odd hours and I assure you, your life will be rather chaotic. You must know that I have done my best to escape Steilenberg these five years and now have been drawn back in.”

She saw that he was in earnest and his eyes, when they looked at her, betrayed his terror. His need for help. “Highness, that is so much to think about it…”

“Please, my lady. Cousin, call me Gerry when we are alone. I shall have hundreds each day call me highness or sire all the time. I need those who can, be able to remind me that I am still only a man.” The Prince seemed very sincere.

She looked at him, “You are very frank. I think you need to hide that for it will be used against you.”

He motioned for her to sit, and then he took a seat as well. “I am not sure I want to get rid of that. If in negotiations with the German and French ambassadors, perhaps, but not when speaking to our people. They feel distanced from our ruling family. Trust me, for I was in a small village and can tell you that it takes time for them to regard we FitzRoy Perry’s with anything like trust.”

“Not just the people in the country highness. Gerry.” She smiled remembering he wanted to be addressed familiarly.

“Yes, most of those living in Steilenberg have family in the country. We are not so sophisticated in the capital as we purport. One day we will be, and we will raise all of Almondy to that level, all those who want to aspire to this modern world. Then we will rank as one of the great powers. That at least is the dream. Now please, can you be frank? Think for a moment before you answer and think about what you wish to do and have wanted to do these last few months. I fear that if you agree to help, I shall be asking for your aid a great deal. Though I may not ask as much as my friends who will find their sleep interrupted. Not that I intend to be malicious with my friends and abuse their volunteering of their help, but I fear that the nature of our country and its needs at this time will do so.”

She sat back into her chair and let that digest. “When I said you were frank, I now need to find a word that expresses that even greater. You think about this more than I had even suspected. You may see further than anyone else I have talked to about our country. Father certainly has reservations about the future, but what you ask, you do know that I am a woman?”

He laughed then. A great big explosive laugh full of glee. Then he looked as if he would stop and laughed again instead. Finally he got it controlled. “My dear, I can see that. You are a woman men take notice of, but you must know that. Were you wearing more provocative clothes I suspect Sir David and William would have done their best to stop you from leaving the mirror room. Did you not notice that their eyes were on you near the whole time we were in the other room?”

Catherine knew she looked good, for she was five feet nine inches and thus tall for a lady. Her strawberry blonde hair came down to the bottom of her shoulder blades when unbound and she stood straight with very little extra weight upon her frame. Catherine was thin except where she should bulge, in her backside and her chest. A chest that her last dressmaker had wanted to show off as a statement to fashion, and then was told to rework the dress twice so Catherine's bosom would not be so obvious.

Catherine had found that if men could see any part of her breasts revealed in her dresses, they did not notice her face. And she was proud for her teeth were straight, her eyes a light shade of green, and her skin unblemished. Sir Pascal, rich enough that he could see any women of society, at least whom Reginald had not been courting, or someone richer like William Glau escorted, proclaimed her a beauty. It seemed that so too did Prince Gerald.

“That is not what I meant…” She was not upset by his laughing, well she was a little. She did understand the stress he must have been under. She and her father had talked of it as he escorted her to the palace that morning in his carriage, then he went on to the Ministry of Justice. It was on North Street about 300 yards from the Palace gates. Most of the ministries were close to the Palace. Except for Ministry of the Military. That was near Castle Abwehr, though why it was not in the castle was a mystery to her. It seemed to Catherine that the Ministry of the Military should be in a castle.

Prince Gerald touched her hand, “I know. In a land where very few women do anything more than act as housewives, or work alongside their husbands or fathers in a shop as a clerk, it would seem strange to place a woman in such a position. But the world is changing. We must change also. If the ministers had told me of a man to do this work, of course I would have had a conversation about it with him. I still would look for a woman to come forth and work with me to reform some of our government elsewhere though. As I look for people of all backgrounds. We are not a country that can claim just one background or heritage. Not any longer. Too many Grand Princes have laid the foundation that we would be greater then the sum of our parts because so many parts are different. Is not our law stronger because we have adopted the best of so many influences?”

She said, “Yes, you are right about our laws. But you will make enemies of many men if I am seen helping you with all this.”

“I will be the friend of many women though if you are seen helping me make the country better. That surely will make me more friends than enemies. And though I don’t need more enemies, just being Crown Prince I have inherited enough. Having some new friends should surely help. At present we have a small, very small, suffragette movement I believe. Since men do not have the vote universally we can’t be accused of drastically discriminating against women. But it would be nice to move forward on all fronts.”

She nodded, “Then yes, yes I shall help and I am not afraid of all the work that you say you will throw at me.”

“Good. Come, we best get back else William, or Sir David will think that I have stolen the chance that they have to make a good impression upon you.”

He stood then lent her his hand to help her to her feet. “I do not know that I desire any man to make a good impression on me this week. With the death of Crown Prince Reginald, perhaps such frivolity is misplaced,” Catherine said.

“You are assuredly correct. Come we shall go the long way round and enter by a real door. That should cause them some consternation. I think that will sharpen their senses and it is what I will need help with these next few days.”

When they entered the mirror room the other men were shocked though Athelstan seemed at ease. He had lived in the palace so he must have known of secret doors and passages. The men had been drinking coffee and she and the Crown Prince had not been gone too much longer than five minutes. “All taken care of?” Athelstan asked. He had taken a seat at one end of the long table, which left the other to the Crown Prince.

Gerald said, “Henry, can I trouble you to move to the head of the table? I have found that if you sit in the middle of a table such as this oval, you can hear all the better for the furthest end you will be hard pressed to hear the other end. I am sure should I sit at that end of the table I might miss words of wisdom of cousin Athelstan. Now Major Krabe, you have another officer to help us with our task?” Captain Dain was introduced and took a place, the Prince rearranging the table so that his aides sat across from him, and then he did not start until they had gotten comfortable. The other officer was an older man who wore a lieutenants uniform of the guards. The first thing that the prince did was sign some papers and explained they were promotions for a few men. He was promoting the man in the Guard’s uniform, and had another being made a captain. The major was also newly promoted.

“David, do you feel you are in line for a promotion? Should I ask the generals?” Prince Gerald asked.

“Those you can trust,” Sir David said back.

“Yes, that will be a challenge. I fear that we have more than a hundred and probably need thirty or less. We have well over a hundred thousand men in the army. That is a lot but perhaps not near enough, or perhaps too much. I know what the generals will say, but today we are not going to talk of military reform. We have just a few things,” and then the Prince went ahead and elaborated on what he thought was the agenda for them all. They talked of the Sundawn Palace, of Gerald’s moving to it. Athelstan said he would go through it but thought he should stay to meet with the Assembly leaders.

Gerald nodded, and asked that Catherine attend as well. Prince Gerald said that he was meeting with just the leaders of each party that was in the Assembly and would address them, perhaps Monday, in their session. It was Thursday and the following day he would still be meeting with the leaders of the country. He would address the people of the nation that night at Evensong at St. Albans. He asked Catherine and Krabe to quickly work on a letter requesting time that evening at the Cathedral. A letter to Archbishop Peter, the prelate of the realm was in order and she quickly made a very humble request and handed it to Major Krabe. He nodded then handed a piece of the Crown Prince’s stationery back to her.

Krabe asked her, “Please your hand is better than mine, would you write that on this and Prince Gerald will sign it,” she nodded and then did so.

They handed the paper to Gerald who was talking about the investigation into the murder of Prince Reginald. “I expect some information from the constables later today. Constable Major Williams has said he will bring a report to the palace each night.”

Athelstan did not know who that was and had to be told, which was news to Catherine as well. An entire group of constables who would look into such crimes, and more than sixty constables already going to work on the murder. He was very much in command and here in the mirror room, he had his own council to help him with his duties.

She knew that Reginald had a friend or two, more like sycophants, who he talked about things that concerned him. Her father, Lord Keller had not said that Prince Reginald had taken notice of anything more then his responsibilities for parades and openings though. The society Prince.

Prince Gerald looked like he wanted to work hard to make improvements to Almondy. That was something that had been long overdue. A prince that wanted the betterment of Almondy would get a lot of support, but also a great deal of opposition. She had long noticed that many were threatened by change. Many would lose by it and so they would resist it.

More would benefit though. If Gerald was genuine. She still did not know if he was. That would come in time. However he had asked that she write a speech and Captain Dain helped to find her a room to do so in. The Prince was already standing and on his way to meet with the lords and leaders of the Assembly. He and Athelstan talking as they walked. “Of course you will be a lord. You have wrapped Prince Michael’s oversight in not making you a lord as if he somehow hates you and you will prove to him that you are deserving. I care that you are hurt by these actions, but the country needs healing and this will be a part of it. Think for a moment for you have many admirers. When you went to the university, the first of royal blood to do so…”

“You went there too,” Athelstan said.

“Yes but  I was much further from the throne then. Not a Royal Prince. Am I even one now? Not until I sit upon the throne I think…” Their voices became too hard to hear as they turned a corner and Catherine was led the other way. Prince Gerald was right though, even when he was invested as Crown Prince, by law he would not be Royal until he became Grand Prince.

It is the after the assassination of Crown Prince Reginald and the new Crown Prince, our hero Gerald must take control of the situation. He has had a night’s rest, or what can be thought of a night seeing as he retired so late. He has many people to meet and much to decide since the Grand Prince is incapacitated by his grief. One of the first orders of business is enlisting the aid of one to help him write his speeches, which he is first has to be given while his dead cousin lies in state at the main cathedral during Evensong later that day. Prince Gerald meets Lady Catherine Keller for the first time.

Home      Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4   Chapter 5    Chapter 6  Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10+

Home      Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4   Chapter 5    Chapter 6  Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10+