Caught on Film – part 2
"So, can I ask an obvious if rather dirty question - just how big is Charlotte's personal fortune?" Bram asked practically.
“I have no real idea – Mother?”
Billion dollars US," Francesca said very quietly, "on my death that
will more than double."
"Pardon me,” Bram said, “but did you say BILLION?" As Francesca nodded, he looked at his wife, before saying “Well now – that is a small fortune…”
“Please,” Charlotte said as she held Piet’s hand, “forget the money side of things. I don’t want anything to change.”
“So where do you think the wedding will take place,” Ana asked, “London?”
“We honestly don’t know yet,” Charlotte said as the main courses were taken away, and Betty brought out two bowls of Gelato for the girls, “although I know Mother has some ideas…”
"I'd personally like it Dana,” Francesca said, “if my daughter was to be somehow married in the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples...just as I was...just as her grandmother was....just as Cambrello's going back centuries have been."
"But she and Piet are both Calvinist protestants?"
"I know," Francesca smiled sadly, "but my late mother seems to have made a plan to get round it. Carlotta has been told she needs visit a priest there to find out more."
“So when will you head out,” Sarina asked.
“We’re going out for a weekend at the end of the month – I hope to learn more then.”
“Still, I do see a certain romance in an Italian wedding,” Elena said, “and I also suspect it will not be too long before the big day?”
“You know me so well,” Charlotte said, “no, it will be before I get too big to fit into a wedding dress, dates to be announced soon.”
“Francesca,” Bram said, “if you are free tonight, will you join me and Dana for dinner? We can discuss matters then.”
“What are we going to be doing,” Anders said as there was a knock on the door, and Jack Docherty looked in.
“Ah Jack – did you manage to get them for me?”
“I did indeed, Marchesa,” Jack said as he handed her an envelope, “two boxes for tonight’s performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Palladium.”
“My treat,” Francesca said as she handed the envelope to Charlotte, “I am sure he younger girls in particular will appreciate it.”
“And I almost forgot,” Charlotte said as she looked at Britt and Evi, “will you two be part of my bridesmaids group?”
“Can we, Mummy,” Evi said as she looked at Elena.
“Of course you can – who will the other bridesmaids be?”
“I have four others in mind – but I need to tell them first…”
Piet raised an eyebrow towards Charlotte, as she smiled and sipped her coffee.
Francesca said as she looked across the table, “as a wine professional what did
you make of our Chianti?"
Francesca,” Sarina said, “full bodied, fresh, hints of berries in the taste...a
truly great example of its kind."
thank you," Francesca smiled, "I'm glad you enjoyed it."
"Oh really excellent...” Francesca sipped the wine and said “I was going to instruct a wine merchant to get me a case…"
"Don't bother,” Sarina said with a smile, “I'll arrange a couple of mixed cases of what we produce gets sent to you."
Thank You Sarina."
"Do I get
any freebies?" Piet laughed.
"NO!" his sister laughed, "but I will give Charlotte another case."
“Well,” Bram eventually said, “I want to thank you Francesca, both for the chance for all of us to meet you, and also for the amazing meal.”
As the room applauded, Francesca blushed and said “thank you. Well, I am going to go for a walk in St James Park to allow the meal to digest.”
“Ana and I are going to do a bit of shopping,” Sarina said as they stood up. “Anders?”
“My family summons me,” he said with a smile as Piet and Charlotte stood up. “We’ll come with you Francesca – meet everyone here at six tonight, and we’ll grab a burger before the show?”
“Sounds good,” Elena said as the three left the room.
“Well, I think that went well,” Francesca said as she slipped on a grey leather jacket, and walked out of the lobby, Jack touching his cap as they did so. “So, if I am not being nosy, who else?”
“Okay,” Charlotte said as she took a deep breath, “I’m taking a leaf out of Juliette von Furstenheim’s book – two older bridesmaids or Maids of Honour, two older ones and two younger ones. Britt and Evi are the two younger ones, and I’m going to ask Penny and Helen if they will be my Maids of Honour.”
“Good choices,” Piet said as they walked through Admiralty Arch, “and the middle pair?”
“Ama and Maisha.”
Francesca nodded. “I think that is a wonderful choice – your ties with family, work and Africa celebrated at the same time.”
“Indeed,” Charlotte said with a smile, “that is the idea…”
“Ah, there you are,” Ama said as she saw Doc wheeling Jeannie in, “I was beginning to wonder if you were going to make it today, after last night.”
“So did we,” Doc said as Abby and Letty came out, “you missed a very – thought provoking film Ama.”
“So Mom told me,” she said as Abby and Letty helped Jeannie in. “I do not know if I will see it unless she buys the DVD though.”
“I’m not sure if you would like it,” Jeannie said, “it is – full on violence after all.”
“But incredibly well made,” Abby said as she slipped in.
“Hey hey – here comes summer!”
“And the world returns to normal,” Letty said as Ally and Nell came in. “You’ve been set free from Harvard then?”
“Oh yes – and others have also returned,” Ally said as Nikki and Becca came out, smiling as she hugged both of them. “So I here you were at a premiere last night?”
“The Pussycat Gang movie – not one on your mother’s viewing list I suspect.”
“You think,” Nell said in a dangerously low whisper as Poppy and Erica came out.
“Well, looks like all the oldsters are coming today,” Doc said.
“Did she just mock us,” Ingrid said as she came out with Cari, Judith holding her mother’s hand as she looked round.
“I believe she did – but I am mommy today, so I leave it to you to obtain appropriate retribution,” Cari said as she sat Judith on the side at the shallow end, then slipped in before letting her daughter come into the pool.
Princess Carina, you are a rare sight here?" Anna smiled as the Yale
student lowered herself into the water.
I ought to come and catch up with you all, and Judith wanted a swim."
Abs," Becca said as she floated on her back, "did you enjoy the
sure you can really 'enjoy' it as such," Abigail splashed water on her arms,
"but was it a great movie? Well then undoubtedly."
Kates, Hey Sands," Becca called out as the two youngsters made an
appearance, looking very young without makeup on, and in one-piece bathing
costumes. "How was your night last night?"
"Restless," Katy looked at her best friend, "I'm not sure either of us got a lot of sleep, even if we were in bed reasonably early,” she looked pointedly at Sandy.
“I know – funny night,” Sands said as she slipped into the water.
is Jo?" Ally looked round, "I thought she might be here."
gone to race at Rutgers," Sandy answered.
she'd finished her season?"
to run a few club meets, to keep sharp." Carina called out as she dived in
the pool while Ingrid played with Judith.
rather her then me," Nell climbed gingerly into the water. "I'm
just having a complete summer break."
Mick Harron?" Katy asked mischievously, "cos I'll take him off your hands for a few weeks..."
"DROP DEAD Carter," Nell glared at the famous young model as she swam off.
see that reference to you Nik in Moviemads
review?" Poppy asked as she sat on the poolside.
where it says ‘a chillingly real reminder of the real violence being portrayed
was provided by model/actress Nikki Colman, who in a tiny role gave an
unforgettable taste of the terror the real victims of these women must
have suffered...’ No I'm not sure I read
it," Nikki grinned from ear to ear.
Doc splashed her with water.
"So do you
get to go to London for that premiere?" Erica asked.
dreams...No I get two more weeks of school THEN I get to go to England, and on
that trip I'll be in a school a lot of the time."
"Yeah life sucks doesn't it." Poppy mocked her friend.
“You have no idea,” Doc said, “we’re doing a Magnilash commercial there – in the Tower of London…”
“You need to check your e-mail Niks…”
“Oh lord – do I get ANY downtime on that trip?”
fun," Judith splashed around happily supported by her water wings.
take her swimming a lot Cari?" Ama asked.
"We go to
the Yale pool once or twice a week...I thought it was important she learned not
to be afraid of water."
not going swimming very well where I was from."
"Why? Was the water contaminated?"
Ama smiled, "but the crocodiles didn't exactly welcome you in."
Cari laughed aloud
Mama?" Judith called out.
darling...at least I hope so?"
Ama smiled as she swam away on her back
did you learn to swim then?" Cari called after
"I could swim faster then the crocodiles," Ama burst into laughter.
still haven't told me what kept you out till four this morning Sands? You only
just beat your Mom and Heather in." Katy whispered.
"If I told
you I'm not sure you'd believe me."
trying to put the pieces together...whatever you are doing it’s with Mom's and
Juliette's approval...but not with your own. Holly is involved, but I have no
clue how, Sands its killing me...just a little hint?"
"All will become clear soon bestie, and despite what you are seeing and hearing, there is a good cause being served by this."
West Central Park
“Thanks Mom,” Jan said as she took the handset from Katherine, and said “hello?”
"Jan, it's Juliette, how are you?"
"I'm fine Ju,” Jan said as she sat down, “but what has you phoning at
noon on a Saturday?"
urgent has come up."
gentleman you met the last time we were in Hong Kong badly wants to see us
again, and he's not overly happy."
CRAP!" Jan whispered under her breath.
you beg four days off work or so, and come with?"
some time off,” Jan said, “but what about Mom...Katy...Adam?"
it’s urgent Huntingdown's business. Jan, I need you there – I have a feeling I
know what he wants, and I need you to back me up."
Jan took a deep breath, "when do we leave?"
"I've booked us both on tonight’s flight. Catherine and Marina will meet us when we land and sort out accommodation."
“Okay – when do I need to be at the airport?”
“Ten – and thanks again Jan.” As the line went dead, Katherine said “Problem?”
“Huntingdown’s emergency in Hong Kong – Ju and I need to fly out tonight. Mom, can you collect Katy from Sandy’s place while I call Tom and Adam, and pack a bag?”
5 pm BST
Penny was giggling as she pressed the most common contact on her phone. As she heard the ringing, she could hardly contain herself.
“Helen darling,” she said as soon as the phone was answered, “I have some wonderful news…Charlotte wants us to be her maids of honour at her wedding!”
There was a moment’s silence, before Penny heard Helen in an unusually quiet voice say “Ummm… I’m not sure I can be there.”
“But you don’t even know the dates or location yet…”
“I’m pretty sure wherever, whenever,” she heard Helen say, “I won’t be able to go as things currently stand.”
“What is going on Helen… Is someone in the room with you… Do I need send backup?”
“No I’m fine Penelope,” she heard Helen say, almost as if she was crying, “I am…”
“Now I know something is wrong, you never call me Penelope.” Penny interrupted.
“Look Penny…my one true love…” Penny could hear sobbing on the other end of the phone, “Look…” the word was left hanging.
“Darling,” Penny said quietly, “what is wrong?”
“Penelope,” Helen said after a long silence, “you remember the situation we discussed in Johannesburg… the first time we…”
“That you might have to kill me if ordered…” Penny suddenly sat down as she whispered “OH Crap Darling, have you been?”
“No…not yet, but there is…tension…between my master and Juliette and Madame.”
“There is? No one told me.”
“Yes,” Helen said quietly, “so I thought that maybe it was best we kept apart till this was resolved.”
“No I will not allow that Helen,” Penny said as she stood up, “you love me, I will not let us be parted.”
“Remember the second thing I said Penny my lover,” the tears flowed again, “seconds after I killed you I would kill myself, so we would be together forever.”
“I know – is there anything I can do, anything I can say?”
“Please, convey my apologies for now to Charlotte… and pray this can be resolved quickly, so that we may be together again…”
As the line went dead, Penny looked at the handset, not feeling the tears that were starting to flow down her cheek…
The Huntingdown Apartment
the rush Mom,” Carina said as Judith played on the floor, Juliette sorting some
clothes out, “what can this old guy do?"
last thing you feel on earth be Helen's blade cutting across your throat."
Carina, Juliette said "remember though she works in association with us,
her first loyalty is always to her master."
to do with what you are planning?"
"Yes, but don't tell your father or Ingy, to them it’s a sudden, urgent, business trip."
“And what are you and Jan going to do?”
“Offer apologies, ask for forgiveness,” Juliette said as she looked at Judith, “and offer tribute in return for his blessing and the return of so much money.”
“Is that the only way?”
“I had planned to anyway,” Juliette said, “but events overtook me. I’ll call when we get there – and twice a day after that until we return.”
“To let me know you are safe?”
Juliette nodded as she held her daughter. “Look after them for me, Cari.”
“All right Mom,” Cari said as she went to play with Judith, Juliette dialling a number on her phone.
Juliette said quietly, “we have a 'situation' with THAT old gentleman in Macao
over what I'm planning..."
Diana broke in.
taking Jan and flying out to try and placate him."
"You and Cari make sure everyone is safe, just in case things go wrong in the Far East...PLEASE."
“Of course – stay safe…”
Sunday 15th May
8 am Local Time
Catherine Lu’s Apartment, Hong Kong
“I feel so much more relaxed now that the examinations are over,” Kylie said as she and Marina came into the apartment, “although – was it me, or is Helen upset about something?”
Before Marina could answer, they both heard Catherine say “Marina, Kylie, will you come into the office please?”
“Okay – that’s strange,” Marina said as they both walked in to see Cathy standing by her desk – but Cathy as she looked when there was serious discussion to be had, so both stood and bowed.
“You have called, Honoured Mistress, and we have come,” Marina said as they both stood with their heads bowed, “how may we serve you today?”
Kylie, I need to ask a difficult question," Catherine paused, "to
whom do your loyalties really lie."
honoured Mistress," they both bowed.
"Not to Shirley? Not to Juliette?"
“Of course we have loyalties to them,” Kylie said, “but is to you we owe who we now are, and so our first loyalty is to you. But this one would ask why you have asked the question?”
“Because a storm may be coming,” Cathy said as she stood in front of them. “I told the Honoured Father of the work Juliette asked you both to undertake on her behalf, and he is – displeased.”
“That is concerning, honoured mistress,” Marina said quietly, “is he displeased with us for undertaking the task?”
“No – and if I am being honest, I do not know what exactly has upset him. What I do know is he ordered me to have Juliette visit him tomorrow – she will be in the air shortly. Marina, you will accompany me to meet her at the airport, and we will take a plane directly to Macau from there.”
“Me, honoured Mistress? Not Helen?”
“No – I fear that, if this storm cannot be abated at this meeting, the storm will break, and we will all be faced with difficult decisions. If that time comes, will you stand with me and Helen?”
“Of course honoured Mistress,” Kylie said as they both bowed, “but may I offer all prayers that it does not come to that?”
“It would be wise, and I certainly shall be…”
1 am BST
Shirley stirred in her sleep as she heard the bedside telephone ringing. Turning the light on, she picked up the handset and said “Shirley Xavier, how can I help you?”
She was taken
by surprise as Penny whispered "Shirley can I have time off work
why are you phoning at this time of night?"
I've got to go see Helen in Hong Kong."
why?" Shirley looked at her alarm clock.
“Has something happened?”
know...are there problems between us and her master?"
crap," Shirley sat bolt upright.
"What are you and Juliette planning Madame?" Penny asked almost pleadingly, "and why would it have offended her Master?"
“Penny… Penny, have you heard the legend of the Manchurian Gold?”
“I’ve seen the films, read some of the… Oh dear goddess, Juliette’s big plan. She thinks she knows where it is, doesn’t she?”
“Yes – and she had planned to talk to the Honoured Father in a couple of weeks, once the plans were finalised. He must have found out… Penny, go with my blessing. I need to make a phone call.”
“Thank you Shirley,” Penny said as the line went dead, and Shirley dialled a number.
“Ju? It’s Shirley.”
“Shirley, I can’t speak for long, I need to take a business trip at short notice.”
“To Hong Kong?”
There was a moment’s silence, before Juliette said “yes – has Helen or Cathy been in touch?”
“Not with me – Helen was talking to Penny, and she’s on her way out now to Hong Kong as well. Ju…”
“I know – Jan’s coming with me. Say nothing from your end, Shirley – this has to be sorted out by me.”
Above New York
As the plane levelled off, Juliette unbuckled her seatbelt and motioned for Jan to follow her to the first class lounge.
“Okay,” Jan said as they sat in a quiet corner, “this is where you tell me what the hell this is all about Juliette. Why is one of the leaders of the Hong Kong Triad angry with us?”
“Because I have not told him of my plans – and now I have about fifteen hours to find a way that will both appease him and also obtain his blessing for the plan.”
“And what is the plan?”
“To liberate a cache of gold from a hidden underground chamber in London. It was meant to have been sent by loyal Chinese citizens to fund the war against Japan in Manchuria over eighty years ago, but – and if you want, I’ll tell you the story now – it ended up in this chamber, and became the subject of a myth. Here.” She looked in her Jameson bag and took out a DVD.
“The Golden Legend – Christopher Lee? Not your usual taste in cinematic entertainment, Ju.”
“I know, but I want you to watch it,” Juliette said quietly, “because I think I know where it is, and I want the Pussycats to liberate it.”
“When we say gold, how much?”
“At the time it went missing – about 45 million dollars.”
“Conservatively? About 50 times as much.”
“That’s… that’s over 2 billion dollars,” Jan whispered, “but how could… How can…”
“The point is,” Juliette whispered, “I always intended to inform the Honoured Father, seek his blessing, and offer at least half to him. I may have to adjust that percentage – but even if we only got ten percent, that’s 200 million dollars Jan.”
“It would be the heist of the century,” Jan said as she sipped her drink, “which explains why you’ve been so secretive, and not told everyone everything. But you’re right – and you need in no uncertain terms to apologise.”
“Yeah – before he has Helen kill me… There is an added complication?”
“Oh – apart from the fact the Honoured Father thinks we’re robbing from him? What would that be?”
“We may have some interest from the Yakusa as well – they tried to steal the gold before, only all their agents and the Chinese agents died in a gunfight.”
“When you said you wanted to go out with a bang,” Jan said, “I thought you meant metaphorically?”
“Well, let’s deal with this crisis first…”
4 am BST
"I can't lose her...I won't lose her," Penny kept whispering the words to herself like a mantra as she sat in her seat.
“Madame – will you be eating?”
“Sorry – no, if it is all right I will eat later,” Penny said as she smiled, and then looked out of the window again…
For years she had hidden behind the old, super-efficient, not really interested in anyone Penny, but the last few months had found her rediscovering herself, finding a new purpose, a new centre – and right at the centre of that was Helen.
Helen… She was the best thing that had happened to Penny in her life, and nothing was going to tear them apart. “No,” she said to herself as the clouds flew past in the dark sky, “I am going to stand by you no matter what, Helen York – to the end…”
Even as she said that, however, she was thinking of her father, and her friends, praying that this could be resolved quickly, and there would be no pain, no bloodshed. She knew Helen had meant what she said – and at the same time, she knew Catherine and the Honoured Father were normally on good terms with Juliette and Shirley.
“Goddess,” she thought, “guide them to a safe conclusion…”
The Richmond Mansion
Sands went into her room and locked the door, then picked up her phone and dialled a number.
“This is Grace Gresham.”
“Aunt Grace, it’s Sands – can you talk?”
“Well, I’m free at the moment – what’s wrong?”
“I wanted to talk to Aunt Ju, but apparently she had had to go away on business?”
“Has she? So what’s the problem?”
“I had a message from Romanov today on the number I gave him – he wants to take me out tomorrow night. But Holly is on a date with Tommy, and…”
“What about your Aunt Jan?”
“She’s gone with Aunt Ju – I spoke to Katy, then called you. Aunt Grace, should I still go ahead and meet Romanov tomorrow?"
"I don't know Sands,” Grace said, “this is really Juliette and Jan's thing."
"Well I can't ask anyone else to be my backup...certainly not Holly...What should I do?"
“Can you delay him?”
“I don’t think so – not if you want this to end quickly.”
“Well, I don’t know who…”
"Bestie you are forgetting someone," Sands turned in alarm to see Katy standing behind her, "whatever this is, don't you know I'll always have your back."
"Katy,” Sands said quietly, “I know I locked that door..."
Katy?" Grace asked on the other end of the phone.
at keyholes you know...and I can pick locks. Mom taught me how." Katy grinned.
Grace,” Sands said into the phone, “I'm going to have to tell her, and trust
"You will... look, talk to Katy then phone me back."
"I will do," Sands said as she put the phone down.
"So who is
Romanov and why are you seeing him?" Katy said as she stood with her hands
on her hips.
gangster,” Sands said quietly, “your Mom thinks he's the main man behind
smuggling in the drugs that were used to rape Louise that night. He likes very
young girls...” Sighing, she smiled and
said “This is all about getting me close to him so I can pump him for
"But why did they ask you?"
“Because who would ever believe I would do this? So I first had to establish myself as a sex kitten…”
“Oh dear lord,” Katy said quietly, “Fergus? Fergus MacLean?” She then stared at her and said “Holly… Those clothes and jewellery… Goddess, Sands, do you know what you’re getting yourself into?”
“I’m bringing down the scum that hurt our friend,” Sands said quietly. “And I’ll make sure Fergus gets every penny back from my own pocket…”
“And it was him who?”
As Sands nodded, Katy said “and Holly?” When she just smiled, Katy shook her head. “So you’re a honey trap, and you need back up. Guess I’m just going to have to be with you, make sure you don’t do something even more stupid…”
“You’d do that for me Bestie?”
“I would – but we’re going to need two pairs of eyes, not one – I’m willing to bet that was the arrangement, right?”
“Yes,” Sands said, “but who can we trust?”
“On this one, I trust a doctor – call Mrs Brand, tell her it’s covered. I’m getting a friend over…”
The two girls walked to the café, both with the collars of their coats turned up to keep out the slight chill.
“Why on earth are you getting someone else involved Katy,” Sands said as she looked round.
“Look, you are walking into a potential time bomb,” Katy said quietly as they sat outside the café, “and trust me, I’ve been in that situation before. One thing I’ve learned is that there is merit in having two sets of eyes watching – so I’m calling a mutual friend in. Someone who can keep an eye out for both of us.”
“Me,” Doc said as she sat down. “Katy said you need my help Sands – what’s going on, or is this a problem with your little group?”
“Not really,” Katy said. “Mom apparently has young Sands here working undercover – but with her and Juliette in Hong Kong, if she’s going to do this, she needs backup.”
Sands looked quizzically.
Doc said quietly as she looked round, “you might have heard stories about my
sexual activities....well they were probably true Sandy. I've been in a lot of
"And she's pretty good at getting herself and others out of it." Katy butted in.
“So when I say you need back up, I know what I’m talking about…”
“Okay,” Sands said quietly, “so how much has Katy told you?”
“That Jan and Ju have you going undercover,” Doc said, “trying to tidy up the last of the business involving Louise? On which note, I take it you and Holly making a play for…”
“Yeah – and yes, he did, and yes I am not.”
“Right – someday, you and I are going to have a chat about that,” Doc said as Sands’ phone went off. She looked at it, and breathed a sigh of relief.
“We got an extra day – Romanov can’t make tomorrow night.”
“Okay – so Tuesday night, you need to cover all of us, Katy. Here’s what we are going to do…”
Monday 16th May
2 am Local Time
Catherine Lo’s apartment, Hong Kong
“Someone turn that alarm off,” Marina mumbled as she heard the continuous ringing, and then she sat bolt upright as she realised it was the apartment doorbell. Getting out of bed, she went into the hallway, as Kylie, Catherine and Helen came out of their rooms.
“Assume defensive positions,” Helen said quietly, Marina and Kylie looking at each other as they stood by Catherine, Marina facing the door as Kyle watched the rear. Helen walked slowly forward, her hand behind her back as she crept to the door.
“Helen York, I know you’re lurking behind there – open the door now!”
As she recognised the voice, Helen glanced at Marina and Catherine, before she slowly opened the door. As she did so, she saw Penny standing there, wearing a black leather jacket, white t-shirt and jeans, a determined look on her face.
“What… What are you doing here,” she stammered.
“I came to see you – can I come in? I promise you, it’s only me, and I am only here to see you.”
Helen glanced back, and as Catherine nodded she opened the door, allowing Penny to come in. “My apologies if I woke you,” she said as she bowed to Catherine.
“Well, it is a surprise,” Catherine said, “Marina, Kylie, stand down.”
“As you wish Mistress,” Marina said as Helen stood shaking. “Penny, I thought…”
“Shut up,” Penny said as she stroked Helen’s cheek with her hand. “We need to talk, you and I – and we need to talk now.”
“I agree Kylie – we should leave them to talk,” Catherine said as she looked at the others. “Marina?”
“I am awake now – with your permission, Mistress, I will begin preparations for later this morning.”
As the other three walked to their rooms, Helen said “I told you Penelope…”
“It’s Penny Helen – and I want you to say that.”
“I told you Penny, if things do not get cleared…”
“Then if that happens, I want to be here with you,” Penny said quietly, “but it is not going to happen, and we are going to face this together.”
Nodding, Helen said “come with me” and took Penny’s hand, leading her into the main room as she turned a lamp on. Sitting down, she indicated that Penny should sit next to her, before she said “when we talked on the telephone, the last thing I expected was that you would come here.”
“What in the name of creation did you think I was going to do, Helen – sit back and accept that, if things went wrong, the last time I would see you would be as you killed me, and then yourself?” Holding her hands, Penny said “you are my love, and if I did not stand with you in this, how could I ever show that? I know you have your loyalties, and I know you must fulfil them, but I am not letting you face this alone, Yelena Fedorovna. Whatever comes, whatever may be about to happen, I am standing by your side, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner we can face this.
As she looked into Helen’s eyes, she saw the tears start to stream again, as she said quietly “I… I have not seen anything like this since the day my mother died, and my father said he would stand by me, no matter what.”
“And he was killed soon after.”
“Indeed,” Helen said quietly, “and that is when my life of service to the Honoured Master began. Until that day in Johannesburg, I had never allowed anyone to be intimate with me, but you filled a hole I never knew I had. It was the prospect of losing that without you knowing that I feared, and led me to say what I said.”
“And that is why I came,” Penny said quietly, “what is happening?”
“Marina goes to meet Juliette and Janice Carter in a few hours, and they fly directly from there to Macao. I am to await instructions here.”
“Then I am waiting with you,” Penny said quietly, “because I want to be with you no matter what life may throw at us, Helen. I am not prepared to give you up or lose what we have.”
“Penny,” Helen said quietly, “so you know what you are saying?”
“I do – and I want to talk more to you about that,” Penny said as she gently kissed Helen. “But you are not losing me that easily, Helen. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be happy.”
Nodding, Helen whispered “thank you – so, young Charlotte wishes us to accompany her down the aisle?”
“And we will – I have total confidence in that,” Penny said quietly, “although I probably should tell you something.”
“And that is?”
“Little Charlotte is the daughter of the Marchesa di Cambrello.”
“The…. Il Pesce Diavolo? Charlotte is her daughter?” Helen looked at Penny, before she started laughing. “Thank you,” she eventually said, “I needed that. I know of her, and I had heard she had been allowed to retire.”
“Well, she is setting up home in London, and is working for Shirley as well in a number of ways. At any rate, she is now one of the wealthiest women in the world, and she’s having to let that sink in as well…”
6.30 am Local Time
Hong Kong International Airport
“No – but I know what I am going to do,” Juliette said as she and Jan collected their bags, and made their way through customs, looking round before she spotted Catherine and Marina waiting for them.
“Juliette,” Catherine said as they embraced each other, “please tell me there is a way of resolving this.”
“There is, I believe – the root cause is manageable, and it was never my intention to keep the Honoured Father out of the loop. What I need to do today is all in my power to show him I am sorry.”
“A very wise strategy,” Catherine said as Marina signalled to a driver. She was mildly amused to see all four of them were wearing black – Catherine and her in a jacket and skirt with a silk blouse underneath, Juliette and Jan in jumpers and pants. “I will have your cases taken to the hotel, but he wishes to see you as soon as possible. Are you prepared?”
“As prepared as I ever will be,” Juliette said quietly.
“Good – I have my car waiting to go to the private airfield, to fly over immediately. I have coffee on board to revive you for the meeting.”
10.30 am Local Time
“I remember the last time we came here,” Jan said quietly, “and what happened after that.”
“Indeed,” Catherine said, “let us hope today has as joyous an outcome, and without the unexpected consequences.”
Juliette nodded as they drove through the large outer gates, and up to the steps leading to the front of the house. As the car stopped, the door was opened by a man, Janice noting the gun he was holding, the large red doors opening as a woman in a red dress came out.
“The honoured father is expecting you,” she said as she bowed her head, “will you come this way please?”
As they walked down the corridor, Juliette whispered to Jan “keep your head bowed at all times, and let me do the talking.” Jan nodded as they were taken to a room, the woman opening the door as they walked in.
Feng Lui was seated at a desk, but as they came in he stood up and walked round, his hands behind his back as the door was closed. Catherine, Marina and Jan stood with their heads bowed, as Juliette walked forward, and dropped to her knees, then face down on the floor as he approached.
“Honoured father,” she said quietly, “I am aware that I have upset and offended you, and I prostrate myself before you now in all humility and repentance, to ask for your forgiveness and a chance to offer an explanation.”
“Miss Huntingdown,” he said quietly as the others kept their heads down, “you are aware that I am upset, but do you know the reason why?”
“Yes – I believe I have managed to find the location of the Manchurian Gold, lost over eighty years ago, and it is your belief that I intend to reclaim it for myself. I am here to offer my most humble and abject apologies for this unintended insult to you and the other Honoured Fathers, and also to offer my explanation.”
Cathy offered a sideway glance to Jan, who nodded imperceptibly as Lui looked down at Juliette. “You have at least offered contrition,” he finally said, “so I will hear your plea. Rise.”
Juliette stood up, her hands together and her head bowed, as she said “Honoured Father, it was always my intention to inform you of my plans, but I wished to be certain of my facts and my plan before I did so. I am guilty of not letting you know at the start, and also of not informing my friends and colleagues of my intentions – but in this, I am guilty of doing this to all, including my honoured friends Janice, Catherine and Marina. I accept all guilt and blame on this issue.”
“But you believe you have found the lost gold, intended to help our people who were under the cruel Japanese oppression?”
“I believe I have, Honoured Father,” Juliette continued with her head bowed, “which is why I asked for the diary to be translated. I should have informed you at that point as well, but I did not. As I say, the fault and the guilt is mine, and mine alone.”
“And was your intention to claim the gold for yourself?”
“No, Honoured Father – I had intended, once I had my plans complete, to ask to meet with you and outline them. If we are successful, the value is far too great for any one person or group of people to process – and, as you said, the money was intended to free the oppressed people of your country. It could not help them at that time – I wish to offer you the opportunity to use it for that purpose now, but I would humbly ask if my colleagues and I may share in that good fortune as well.”
“I see,” he said quietly as he looked at her. “I understand you are soon to be a grandmother again?”
“At any time – but as soon as I was aware of my grievous error, I made all haste to come and beg your forgiveness, and to inform you that if I am right, the gold is there to return to the rightful owners.”
As she kept her head bowed, Feng Lui looked over and said “My daughter?”
“Honoured Father, Juliette speaks the truth – I did not why she asked for the translation of the document until a few moments ago. I ask you to forgive her for allowing her natural caution to cloud her to the necessity of informing you, and to forgive what I believe was an unintended insult.”
Nodding, Feng Lui said “I accept your apology, and I understand why you were so cautious – but I think it is time you explained to me what you have uncovered.” Walking to his desk, he rang a silver bell, the woman who had shown them in entering.
“Tea for my guests and myself,” he said quietly, “you may all raise your heads now. I am pleased not only that you came in person, Juliette, but also that you offered true and humble contrition. Be at peace – and tell me what you have learned.”
“Are we out of danger,” Janice whispered as they raised their heads, and followed both the Honoured Father and Juliette to some seats.
“I believe we are – and I believe Juliette needs to lead the discussion. Marina – no notes, but remember as much as you can of what is said.”
“Of course, Honoured Mistress,” Marina said quietly as they sat down. “May I ask – Helen and Penny?”
“Helen knows that if she hears nothing, she does nothing. We will talk with them when we return.”
“Penny? Penny’s here?”
“A tale for later,” Marina whispered as the tea was brought in.
“You mentioned that you wished to share in the good fortune if you are correct,” the Honoured Father said as the tea was poured.
"Will you deny,
honoured Father,” Juliette said with her head bowed, “that if my ladies are to
do the dangerous part of this mission at risk to our lives, then we are
entitled to at least a finder’s fee?"
as it should be," he bowed his head slightly. "But I will not
negotiate, I have written a percentage on a piece of paper, this is what you
will accept...or there will be consequences."
understand," Juliette bowed her head as he face down passed her a piece of
paper. Taking a deep breath Juliette
took the paper, turned it over and looked.
more than acceptable Honoured Master," she bowed her head.
drink tea with me and tell me of your plans," he waved his arms.
1 pm Local Time
Cathy Lu’s Apartment
Penny sipped her tea as Helen paced up and down.
“I thought you said if you heard nothing, it was good news.”
“That is true,” Helen said as she looked out of the window, “but still…”
As the telephone rang, Penny stood up as Helen went to answer it.
“Catherine Lu’s apartment, Helen York speaking. How can I…
“Of course, honoured Mistress,” she said as she looked at Penny and listened.
“I understand, what are my instructions?
“Of course, honoured Mistress. Please, inform the Honoured Father I will comply as fast as possible.”
As she put the phone down, Penny stood up and said “if it is bad news, may I have one last kiss?” She watched as Helen walked over, put her hands gently on either side of her head, and then kissed her tenderly.
“The storm is passed,” she said with a smile, “I am pleased to say. There is, however, an issue I need to deal with. We are summoned?”
“We? You and I? Summoned where?”
“Macau – we must leave immediately. Allow me to send Kylie a message.”
“I think the Honoured Father has some questions for us.”
“Now that is a scary thought – how do we get there?”
“Well, Mistress Catherine has the plane – a helicopter will collect us in thirty minutes. Now, that message…”
2 pm Local Time
“Well, I pray you are correct, and I look forward to you informing me one way or the other, Juliette,” Feng Lui said as he stood up, the others doing so as well. “Catherine, you will liaise with the honoured Madame X?”
“As you wish, Honoured Father, and thank you for your grace and wisdom in this matter.”
All four bowed as they looked at him, and Juliette said “again, accept my humble apologies and those of Madame X.”
“Go in peace,” he said with a smile, “I understand Helen is on her way over?”
“She is,” Catherine said with a bow.
“They will be back before nightfall as well.” He indicated the door as the woman showed all four to the waiting car.
“Well,” Catherine said as they drove off, “I cannot speak for you, but I am relieved. I propose we take you back and drive you to the Peninsular. Marina – make reservations for dinner for the three of us please?”
“Of course, Catherine,” Marina said as she looked at her phone.
“If you have indeed found it, it is a miracle,” Cathy said to Juliette, “but the way you are going to extract it…”
“I know – which is why it is all hands on deck, for the diversions and the actual retrieval…”
3 pm Local time
The woman stood and watched as the helicopter landed on the immaculate green lawn, the rotors slowing down as Helen and Penny got out. While Penny was still in her travelling clothes, Helen was wearing a black jumper and trousers, with ankle boots.
“Remember,” she said as she bowed to the woman, “keep your head bowed and your eyes lowered unless he instructs you otherwise. I have no idea why he has summoned us, so let me do the talking at first.”
Penny nodded as they were escorted into the house, the woman taking them to the large room where Feng Lui was standing, looking out of the window.
“You have summoned me, Honoured Master, and I have come,” Helen said, her head bowed as she stood there. “May I introduce you to Miss Penelope Harker, the number two to the honoured Madame X?”
As he nodded towards her, Penny kept her head bowed and said “I thank you for the invitation to accompany Helen on this visit, Honoured Master.”
“I welcome you to my home,” he said as he bowed his head. “I knew of the relationship between you and my servant, and felt it was time I met and talked with both of you. First, Helen, as your Mistress has told you, the storm is passed.”
“She did inform me, Honoured Master,” Helen said with her head bowed.
“Catherine will liaise on my behalf, but I am charging you now to go to London when the time comes, and offers your assistance in any and all ways.”
“I thank you Honoured Master for that honour.”
“Sadly, the Mongoose and the Swan will be needed elsewhere, if I understand the timings correctly, but that is unavoidable,” he said as he turned and looked at Helen. “I wish to discuss another matter with you, and you Penelope. I believe you arrived rather unexpectedly today?”
“That is true Honoured Master,” Penny said with her head bowed, “but when I called Helen to inform her of other news, and heard of the situation, I felt I had to come and be here, whatever may happen.”
“Indeed – a sign of devotion and loyalty,” he said with a smile as he sat at the desk. “Tell me something of yourself, Penelope – Helen does not speak much of you.”
Penny glanced at Helen, who nodded before she began "I ran away from home Honoured Master, and I grew up on the streets of London. I got very little formal education, but a first class honours degree from the University of Life."
"Go on child."
met Helen I had dared not even hope for love from another person, I had buried
myself to create the persona of Penelope, Madame's efficient Number Two
woman." Penny sniffed back a tear, "Helen opened up things in my
heart that I'd forgotten were even there, she taught me that even for someone
like me love was possible...she was my soulmate."
feel the same Helen?"
Honoured Master," she bowed low, "this most unworthy servant had too
abandoned any hope of finding love in this life."
found each other?"
Penny said, “and the threat of losing Helen caused me to immediately catch a
flight from London to Hong Kong..."
"It seems she really does love this wretched slave." Helen allowed herself a smile as she bowed her head.
“I see,” Feng Lui said as he put his hands together under his chin. “I remember when I met my late wife, and how I felt when we were forced to spend time apart. When she was threatened, I moved heaven and earth to be at her side to defend her.”
The two women remained motionless, their heads bowed.
“Out of interest,” he continued, “why did you call Helen that particular time?”
“A mutual friend – the one who brought us together – has got engaged. She has asked that Penny and I act as her Maids of Honour for the ceremony.”
“I see,” he said as he nodded, “so you woke my servant, made her feel she had to protect her mistress, for love?”
“In essence, Honoured Master,” Penny said quietly, “yes?”
“In many cultures,” he said quietly, “this is the expression of a love for someone that means they wish them to be together and share in each other’s lives in every way.”
Penny blushed as she nodded and said “yes, it is Honoured Master.”
“I see - then we have much to discuss,” he said with a smile. “Please, take a seat – I have some wisdom to impart to both of you.”
4 pm Local Time
The Peninsular Hotel, Hong Kong
“Your pass key, Miss Huntingdown, Miss Carter,” the receptionist said as she handed them the cards, “your bags have already been placed in your rooms.”
“Thank you – join me for a coffee before you unpack?”
“That would be nice,” Jan said as the two women made their way to the lifts, and then to Juliette’s room. As they went in, Juliette went to the coffee machine as Jan looked out of the window.
“Well, remind me never to let that happen again,” Juliette said as she looked at the water bubbling through the filter.
not what I meant – although believe me, I will sleep a lot easier tonight. So what is he allowing us Ju?"
Jan didn't know how she'd been able to restrain herself till they were back in
“Oh – remember I said I was going to offer to take 10 per cent.”
As Jan nodded, she said “so what was on the piece of paper?”
over, smiled and said "22 and a half percent..."
"WHOA!" Jan breathed out in surprise and shock.
“Indeed – and now comes the real fun…”
8 pm Local Time
Catherine Lu’s apartment, Hong Kong
Both Kylie and Marina looked over as the apartment door opened and closed, Helen and Penny walking in hand in hand.
“There you are darlings,” Kylie said with a smile, “we were starting to worry.”
“Were you? That’s nice,” Penny giggled. “Where is Catherine?”
“She’s gone out to dinner with Juliette and Jan – so, what happened,” Marina said as she watched them both sit down.
“We sat and talked with the Honoured Father,” Helen said, “once the other matter had been dealt with. On which note?”
“Cathy explained it to us,” Kylie said. “Now I know why it was so important we obtained what we did.”
“Indeed,” Penny said, “but as Helen said, we sat and we talked with the Honoured Father.”
Raising a perfectly sculpted eyebrow, Kylie said “So you are calling him the Honoured Father now as well?”
“He insisted,” Helen said as she squeezed Penny’s hand. “Anyway, as I said, we sat, we talked, and he shared his wisdom with us about relationships, and love, and what needs to be done to keep it going.”
“And,” Penny said as she looked at Helen, “we have committed ourselves to each other. Not like Maddie and Emma, but we realised we are true soulmates.”
“So the Honoured Father gave his blessing to us,” Helen said, “on which note, I must inform Cathy that when you visit, you will be staying here.”
“And when you visit, you stay at my place. And we accompany Charlotte together.”
“This is so romantic,” Kylie said with a sigh as she watched.
“I also can now say something to both of you,” Penny said. “Madame has considered your proposal, Marina, and she has given her approval. When you return to New York, Alexis will be coming to fill your role here for a few months, to allow Cathy to train a new assistant.”
“And at the same time,” Helen said, “I will be honoured to take on the role of training Beverley in her skills, while she works alongside Alexis and I.”
Smiling, Marina said “thank you Sensei.”
8 am BST
Piet and Charlotte’s flat
“What on earth was that,” Charlotte said as she heard the heavy thump from the kitchen.
“Post,” Piet said as he carried a large manila envelope in, and handed it to her, before checking the other letters.
“Italian postmark – oh boy, what is this now,” she said as she opened it, and looked through the papers. As she frowned, Piet said “what – is it in Italian?”
“No – it looks like some sort of meeting information – you on your way?”
“Editorial meeting at nine – you?”
“I’ll be on my way to the office in a while,” she said as Piet kissed her, and then headed out. She looked at it again, and then picked up her mobile phone, dialling and waiting.
“Francesca di Cambello?”
"Good morning Mother,” she said with a smile, “quick question - what is this huge document I found on my doorstep?"
"If it’s same as the one I just got here at the Savoy,” Francesca said, “it’s from AII and you need read it I'm afraid."
"Alberghi Imperiale Italiane...the Hotel group."
translate the initials I know who they are Mother,” Charlotte said as she
flipped through it, “but why must I read it?"
because you own 51% of the voting stock in the company, and I own 24%."
one of the strong sources of our wealth Carlotta."
Goddess,” Charlotte said, “so I really do own the Imperial Hotel in Sentua?"
"And hotels in 17 other countries other than Italy."
"You say voting stock, what is that?"
shares that count in decision making, we probably hold about 35% of the common
stock between us as well...The hotels are the principal business from the Cambrello side of your ancestry Carlotta darling."
Francesca paused, “you will have to get up to speed on the company quite
quickly, I understand there are many things awaiting
your yay or nay."
"But what do I know about hotels Mother?"
“We can talk later in the office – I officially start today, but in the meantime don’t panic. Listen – do you have an appointment with Claudio Morelli today?”
“We’re meeting for Lunch – why?”
“Ask his advice before you talk to me…”
8.30 am BST
Shirley and John’s house, Chelsea
“Aunt Shirley,” Maisha called out, “you have a telephone call.”
“Who is it,” Shirley asked as she came out to the hallway, slipping her jacket on.
“Aunt Juliette,” the dark skinned girl said as she handed the handset over.
As she breathed
a sigh of relief, she said "And the terms?"
actually a lot better then I was prepared to settle
for," Juliette breathed out, "I suppose now I should negotiate your
fee for monetarising our share?"
think on it...and by the way is Penny there?"
Juliette said, “she's been taken by Helen to visit her Master."
friendly, or unfriendly visit?"
thinks friendly. It seems that the Master has paternal feelings for
Penelope is meeting her father-in-law?"
"You might say that."
“Good morning everyone,” Annie said as she came into the common room, “ready for the last but one week?”
“I think so,” Ingrid Mueller said, “but there’s a funny feeling in the air today – can you feel it?”
“Is there – I hadn’t noticed,” Harriet said as she and Sarah came in. “I thought you would have gone on maternity leave by now Annie?”
“No such thing really,” she said as she eased herself into a chair. “I’ll just be glad when things start happening.”
“So, the last but one week,” Grace said as she sat in Wilhelmina Tennant’s office with Kate Hardistay, “and still no charity stunt?”
“Indeed,” Wilhelmina said as she sat in her tweed jacket and skirt, “which is gravely worrying – it means something is almost certainly going to happen sooner than we think.”
“Well, sitting here is not going to solve anything,” Kate said as she stood up and walked to the door – only to find it locked. “Wilhelmina?”
“What is it?”
“Why is your door locked?”
“It should not be… Oh no…”
Grace stood up and went to the door to the outer office, but as she opened it she said “ah – I think something is happening today…”
Ingrid and Annie looked to the door to the faculty room as Letty Kinman and two other Seniors came in – but they were not in uniform. Rather, they were dressed as Roman soldiers, the other two carrying spears, as Letty read out a scroll.
“Be it known,” she said as she looked at them, “that her royal highness, the Pharaoh Abigail, requests your presence in the Royal Court immediately – and that you are to appear before her shackled.”
Sarah and Harriet turned and looked at Annie, who smiled and said “here we go again…”
“Two more weeks, two more weeks,” Poppy chanted in the back of the car as Caroline drove her, Erica and Ama to the school.
“Yes, and then the long summer,” Erica said with a smile, “so much to look forward to.”
“Well, you still have the two weeks to get through,” Caroline said as she pulled up outside the school, and looked at the small crowd outside the school entrance. “What’s going on?”
“Ah – of course,” Ama said as she opened her door, and they all got out, “it must be today.”
“What must… Jess, do you know what’s going on?”
“Actually I do,” Jess said as Poppy and Erica joined her, “because I had to get Dad to help out with something.”
“Oh yes – this is going to be good,” Pepsi said as she joined Becca, Nikki and Doc outside the school gates.
“It’s happening today isn’t it,” Ama said, Doc nodding as they looked at the two Seniors standing either side of the school gates, wearing full Roman military outfits and holding long spears in their hands.
“I’d better let Cari and the others know,” Caroline said as she started to send a text, before the gates opened and the two soldiers stood smartly to the sides. As they walked in, the girls looked up at them, and then made their way into the assembly room.
Only it did not resemble an assembly room – instead, the dais was lined at the back with white sheets, more of the Seniors lined up along the sides and walls in uniforms. The girls slowly took their seats, before Celia Zyborg came to the front and clapped her hands three times.
“STAND! STAND AND GREET YOUR PHARAOH, QUEEN ABIGAIL!”
The room stopped talking and stood as one as the doors to the faculty room opened, and they saw Annabelle Ritchie and Rachel Merriman come out, wearing white robes with a gold belt round their waist, carrying large ostrich feathers as they did so. They took their places behind a chaise longue as they saw Abigail come in, wearing a white sleeveless dress with a large gold collar and bracelets. Her eyes were heavy with black eye shadow, in the classic Egyptian style, and she wore a gold diadem on her head as she walked in front of the assembled girls, looked round and then nodded before she sat on the seat.
As the girls sat, the doors opened and Letty led out the faculty – all of them wearing a pair of cuffs linked with a length of rope as they sat to the side of the dais. They were joined by Grace, Kate and Wilhelmina, who looked at the girls and nodded as they sat with the other teachers.
“Welcome to stunt day,” Annie whispered to Grace as Abigail stood up and walked to the front.
“My loyal subjects,” she said in a loud voice, “I welcome you to my court on this most auspicious of days. For today, I your queen have decreed that those who teach you shall do so with all humility and grace.”
“Funny,” Grace whispered under her breath.
“I have also decreed that others will share in this day of jubilation – for one day only, the proceedings of my court are been shared with those who have served here, and those who have sent you to be with us, so that they may share in your joy…”
“Where have you been,” Cari said as Jo joined the group round the table, “you’re missing all the fun.”
“Sorry – had to take the kids to school first today,” she said as she joined Cari, Judy, Bobbi, Ally, Nell and Holly, “what’s going… Is that ABBY?”
She looked at Abby talking on the screen, as Ally nodded. “The class of 16,” Judy said, “have turned St Angela’s into the court of Queen Abigail of Egypt. And they not only have Roman guards, they have all the teachers in slave’s chains.
“ALL OF THEM?”
“Relax,” Cari said, “I saw Annie she’s fine. Listen…”
“During this day of jubilation,” Abby said, “my loyal servants will be accepting bids for these, those who serve by teaching you, to perform other duties on their behalf. For those who wish to bid, the names and the tasks have been made available in the same place from which you are viewing this. Tribute may also be paid to the royal court by contacting my loyal financial servants in the usual manner. I invite those who are watching to participate, and to join me here in my royal court at three hours after the sun is highest today, to hear the results of our day of jubilee, and who had successfully engaged the use of my servants for their appointed tasks.”
“Did we agree to a slave auction,” Sarah whispered to Harriet.
“It’s in the contract – and we have to trust them,” she whispered back as she looked at the girls round the room.
“So now I charge you – go to your lessons, and you may pay tribute to those who have been designated with this task throughout the day. I, Queen Abigail, do so command this.”
“ALL HAIL QUEEN ABIGAIL!”
As Celia called out, the girls clapped and cheered, before they went to their classes, one of the Seniors accompanying each of the faculty out.
“And as for us,” Wilhelmina said as she looked at Letty.
“We invite you to attend with Queen Abigail, and to consider the list of tasks – including those assigned to yourselves. We will take you to her shortly,” Letty answered as Abigail left the room.
“A slave auction? Well, there have been stranger events,” Wilhelmina said with a smile.
The girls looked at each other, and then clapped as the waitress came over.
“Youse girls want anything?”
“Coffee – we’ll order in a minute,” Jo said as she took out her cell phone. “Hey Sandy – you’ve seen? Have a look at the list of tasks and let me know, all right?”
“Well, they followed the tradition in fine style,” Judy said with a smile, “I mean, Queen Abigail? That in itself is worth a donation.”
Cari looked up from her phone. “Sorry – I need to text Mom and let her know.”
“How’s the visit to Hong Kong going,” Jo said as she looked over.
“She’s managed to settle the issues that have been raised,” Carina said, Jo nodding as she took her coffee.
“Okay then, I found the list of tasks we can bid for,” Judy said as she looked at the screen.
Judy smiled as she said “they’re offering her services as a babysitter for the night – so no heavy duties. You can breathe easy Cari.”
“Still – I think I’ll put a bid in,” she said as she typed into the keyboard.
Annie looked round the room as the bell went. “Very well then,” she said as she sat slowly at her desk, “you may go to your next class. And my thanks to those who have given already.”
“Onwards and upwards,” Poppy said as she collected her books and headed off, the rest of the girls following as Annie sat still.
“Erica, would you wait a moment please?”
“Of course,” the young girl said as the Senior looked at her, “is there a problem, Miss?”
“I need you to go to the Senior’s Room and ask Letty – the Commanding Officer – if she would bring Mrs Brand here for a moment.”
“Of course, Miss Kelly,” Erica said as she walked out of the room, and Annie let out a low moan.
“Is everything all right, Miss Kelly?”
“I’m not sure,” she said quietly as Grace came in with Letty.
“Annie – are you…”
“I think so – my apologies Letty, but I think I need to go a place.”
“I understand,” Letty said as she removed the bracelets from Annie’s wrists, as well as Grace’s. “Come with me,” Grace said as she helped Annie to stand, “I’ll drive you there, and wait for Cari to arrive.”
“I’ll call her,” Letty said as she looked at the other Senior. “Go to the main office, inform them Miss Kelly has gone to Mount Pleasant.”
“Are you sure you’re all right,” Grace said as she helped Annie to walk to the car park.
“I honestly have no idea,” Annie panted, “after all…”
Annie just smiled and then groaned again as they walked out of the building.
“I understand,” Abby said as Letty whispered into her ear, “I am sure I will be informed in due course.”
“Is there a problem,” Kate asked as she sipped her tea.
“Annie’s gone into labour – Grace is going to take her to the hospital, then come back once Carina is there…”
The dulcet tones of Iron Maiden filled the air as Carina quickly looked for her phone.
“It’s your dime,” she said as she answered the call, and then looked up at Jo.
“What’s wrong,” she said as she heard Carina say “Gotcha – I’ll make my way there as soon as I can.”
“Oh lord,” Judy said as Carina stood up, left some money and grabbed her coat, “it’s time isn’t it?”
“It is – she’s on her way to Mount Pleasant. I’ll call Helen and let her know. Jo?”
“On my way to your place now,” she said as she also grabbed her coat, “I’ll tell Klaus and Ingrid, then take Judith round to my place until you call.”
“Thanks – tell her I’ll call soon. What about Mom?”
“I’ll get Diana or Sandy to call her – she must be asleep by now anyway. Go!”
“Gone,” Carina said as she and Jo ran out of the door.
The Richmond Mansion
“Is that you Jo,” Heather said as she heard the front door open and close.
“Yeah – I brought a friend for a visit,” she heard her sister call out.
“Oh – who?”
“Hello Aunty Heather.”
“Judith darling,” Sandy said as she came out, “this is an unexpected pleasure. Would you like some milk and cookies?”
“Yes please,” Judith said as Jo took her coat off her, “can I do some drawing?”
“Come into the front room,” Heather said as she came through, looking at Jo and Sandy before they went in.
“I’ll get the drink and food – you need to call Diana, and get a message to Juliette.”
“It’ll be midnight where she is – what’s the message?”
“She’s about to become a grandmother again.”
Sandy nodded as Jo went to the kitchen, and then picked up the phone.
“Diana – time to execute the contingency plan for Annie.”
Midnight Local Time
Cathy Lu’s Apartment, Hong Kong.
Marina looked over as Cathy came into the apartment. “This has been a long day,” she said as she slipped her shoes off, “I will be glad to go to bed after I have some tea.”
“I was just going to prepare some coffee actually,” Marina said, “I may need some.”
“Oh? Where are the others?”
“Helen is in her room with Penny – I take it you have been informed?”
“The Honoured Father called me during the meal – I will talk to both of them with Juliette and Janice tomorrow. Kylie?”
“Asleep – but I have news from New York. Annie has gone into labour.”
12.30 am Local Time
The Peninsular Hotel, Hong Kong
“Oh for the love of…” Juliette groaned as she heard her cell phone ringing, and turned on the light, looking at the clock and the caller ID.
“Diana,” she said in a bleary voice as she answered the phone, “after the day I have had, this had better be extraordinarily…”
The shout woke
Jan up, and as she came through the connecting door between the suites she
heard Juliette say “She's what?" as she sat up straight.
"Annie has gone into Labour just as the girls started pulling their stunt," Diana spoke calmly, "Helen and Carina are both on their way to the hospital. I'm going to stay here and direct communications."
"Thank you Diana...and now Annie?"
"Not much news yet Cherie. We can only wait and pray.”
“Okay then – let me know when you hear anything Diana.” As she put the phone down, Jan said “what’s happened?”
“Annie – of all the…” Juliette smiled as she picked up her cell phone, and looked at the caller ID.
love...Yes Diana beat you to it and woke me...Are you on your way to the
the car...” She heard the noise of
traffic as Klaus said “I'd be there already, but Ingy
just got pulled over by the NYPD and got a speeding ticket. Who can get a
speeding ticket in Manhattan my love?"
"It’s hard...but phone me as soon as you have news Klaus my love."
“I will do – how did the business go today?”
“Very well - all sorted out, and we’ll meet with Cathy tomorrow to finalise the details.”
“Well, get some sleep if you can – I will call you when we have word.”
“No chance,” Juliette said as she put the phone down, “can you let me put a dressing gown on, Jan? I’ll make some coffee.”
4 pm BST
Xavier International, London
As Francesca sat at her desk, reviewing a paper, she heard the intercom sound.
“Yes,” she said as she pressed the button.
someone called the Reverend George Gordon in the outer office Marchesa?" Peri's voice came
on the intercom.
Reverend...Oh...Please send him in Peri," Francesca said as she stood up
and instinctively brushed herself down. As
the door opened, she moved round to greet her visitor – a tall, bald headed man
ina grey jacket and
trousers, ad a black shirt with a white collar.
"George… It has been a very, very, long time," she
said as she shook his extended hand.
"Aye it has Francesca,” he said in a soft Aberdonian accent, “probably far too long."
"Will you sit down George please?” Looking to the door, she said “Peri some tea please...or something stronger George?"
indulge a sin and ask for some of that strong coffee I smelt brewing outside
Francesca if you dinae mind?"
all," Francesca smiled, "two coffees please Peri."
As she went out, George looked round the room. “This is an awful fine office you have here."
"Well it’s on loan from Huntingdown's till I find permanent quarters,” Francesca said, “Now that I have retired from the Navy, I've accepted a post as director of the company."
"I sorta figured ya might be,"
the Minister eased himself into an armchair as Peri brought in the coffees.
still have a parish in Aberdeen?" Francesca asked as she sat down.
George said, “same Kirk as James brought you to see, only thing really changes
is I get older."
Francesca smiled again. "And how is Aileen?"
well, if a little shaky on her legs..."
I'm sorry to here."
arthritis we both could describe in very unchristian terms."
Francesca said as she sipped her coffee, “to what do I owe you coming all the
way to London?"
"Well,” George said as he sat back, “Charlotte rang me at the end of last week and asked my opinion on the possibility of some kind of ecumenical service in a Catholic Church in Naples for her wedding. Me being James only real living relative, and a churchman, she'd been in touch regarding me maybe marrying her and her Pieter."
"His one and only cousin," Francesca nodded her head.
before you ask Francesca,” he said as he leaned forward, “James came see me a
month before his death and told me the entire real story... Apparently, your father informed him, and he
was going to beg your forgiveness."
Francesca said quietly, “in a letter that Charlotte and I only found a couple
of weeks ago."
“How on earth did you meet anyway?”
“Literally, we bumped into each other in Monaco – she had gone to clear James’ office out, and I was with friends. We argued, and told each other a few home truths.”
“I can imagine that was painful,” George said, “and now you have left that life behind?”
“I have,” Francesca said with a smile.
gave you a blessing at Santa Chiara at your wedding, but I'm nae sure I can conduct a wedding there, and I know how much
you'll want Charlotte to be married in Naples."
do...and my mother seems to have laid some mysterious plan to enable her to be
married there. We fly to Naples next weekend to see an elderly priest my Mama
schemed with to allow Charlotte as a Protestant to be married in a Catholic
"Well from what I remember of your Mother, a truly formidable lady - that does sound like what she would have done." Smiling, he said “if it can be done, I would be honoured to. Is she in the office today?”
“No – she had a lunch meeting with an old friend, to discuss some business issues…”
4 pm BST
“Well, that makes things a little clearer,” Charlotte said as Claudio nodded, and then she looked at her phone. “Forgive me for a moment – hello?”
“Oh there you are – we’ve been trying to find you, Charlotte Gordon!”
is so urgent? I'm having lunch," Charlotte spoke into her phone.
why you've been so hard to track down? Anyway
big news out of New York, Annie has gone into Labour?"
Goddess, I bet Cari is having kittens."
seems...anyway I thought I better tell you."
is your lunch meeting going?"
learning a few things about my new responsibilities."
"Yeah looks like I've inherited what seems to be almost a second job. I’ll talk to you later."
“The office,” Claudio said as Charlotte ended the call, “I know what it can be like…”
“Have you seen how nervous the teachers are,” Poppy said as she looked round the refectory, “but boy it’s been fun watching the Seniors act as the guards.”
“Yes it has,” Erica said with a grin, “and the lessons have been kinda fun as well for once. Ama, have you had fun today?”
“Oh – my apologies,” the teenager said as she sat down, “I was checking to see if there was any word from the hospital yet.”
“Why who has… Oh. OH!” Erica suddenly sat upright as she said “you mean when I went to find Mrs Brand…”
“Precisely,” Doc said as she sat down, “no news yet…”
“I am afraid not…”
“ATTENTION LOYAL SUBJECTS.”
The whole refectory turned and looked as Celia stood with Letty.
“YOUR RULER, QUEEN ABIGAIL, MAY SHE BE BLESSED, IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE TRIBUTE PAID IS MOST SUBSTANTIAL, BUT THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET CONTRIBUTED HAVE TIME TO DO SO. SHE ALSO REMINDS YOU TO BE IN THE RECEPTION HALL AT THE APPOINTED HOUR FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF TASKS TO YOUR LEARNED TEACHERS. THAT IS ALL – ALL HAIL QUEEN ABIGAIL!”
“Well, there we are then,” Doc said with a smile.
Mount Pleasant Hospital
“Miss Annie Kelly? And may I ask what relation you are,” the duty nurse said as she looked at Klaus and Ingrid.
"I suppose you could say I'm her father-in-law," Klaus smiled at her. "Carina her partner is my daughter..."
"And my sister," Ingy broke in.
your highnesses," the nurse looked at her notes, "i
was told you to expect you and take you to a waiting room...I apologise for any
all you were only doing your job...How is Annie doing?"
"The doctor is when with her at this moment...I'll tell her you are here. If you will wait in here?" She showed them to a small waiting room, and nodded as she closed the door to.
“You know Moms is going to be awake all night,” Ingrid said as she looked out of the window.
“Oh yes – I just hope she… How is it going Helen?" Klaus stood and kissed the doctor as she pulled down her mask.
"Not as well as I had hoped, but then with twins things rarely go to plan..."
forget they had kept it a secret,” Helen said with a smile, “yes Annie is
having twins...a boy, and a girl."
Carina kept it secret? Does my wife know?"
"I don't think so Klaus...Look I'm a good doctor, and Karen Boyd," she glanced at her watch, "has chartered a helicopter and she should be landing as we speak to assist me...Annie and the babies will be fine."
"How's Cari holding up?"
"She's just a bit worse than she was giving birth to Judith," Helen laughed. "I'll tell her you are here."
“How is she? When you say it’s not going as well…”
“First, don’t panic,” Helen said. “It was always a possibility that with Annie, we may have to do a Caesarean delivery, but we always try the natural way first. Once Karen arrives, we can discuss the options…”
All three turned as the tall blonde entered the room.
“Good afternoon Caroline.”
“Helen,” Caroline said as she came in, “how are things going?”
“As I was saying, we may have to perform a Caesarean, but we’ll know soon enough. Where is Juliette?”
“In Hong Kong,” Klaus said, “probably drinking coffee to stay awake.”
“Well, I need to go back and check on her,” Helen said as she left the room.
“I had to come – how are you both?”
“Worried,” Ingrid said, “and praying all will come well. Did you know?”
“Did I know… Ah – Helen told you right? I knew and Ama knew, but they made us swear to keep it secret.”
“I understand that – should we call Juliette?”
“Not yet – she’s probably worried enough as it is…”
The Faculty Lounge, St Angela’s
“All right,” Ingrid said, “has anyone managed to find out what this list is people are bidding for us to do?”
“Nope – somehow they’re blocking access to the website by us on phones or computers,” Sarah said. “And has anyone seen Annie?”
“She’s at Mount Pleasant,” Grace said as she came into the room, “she went into labour this morning.”
“As far as we know, yes – Carina has gone to join her. Now, I’ve spoken to Kate and Wilhelmina, and they have agreed we will do the auction anyway. They have seen the list, and promise there is nothing illegal or demeaning in it. We have also raised over twenty thousand so far not counting the auction.”
“Well, if they have agreed… What about Annie?”
“No idea – but the rumour is Carina has already put in a huge bid…”
“OH Goddess,” Annie grunted as she gripped Carina’s hand, “was it like this for you?”
“I’m afraid so my love,” Carina said as she wiped Annie’s brow, “but I promise you, it is worth it.”
“Hey there,” Karen Boyd as she came in, wearing a gown and a mask down in front of her, “I hear that time has come.”
“You think,” Annie said as she looked at the new arrival.
“Okay Helen – what have we got,” she said as she stood with Helen Rochermann, looking at the notes and then examining Annie before she looked at the screen. After a few minutes, she looked at Annie and said “well, this is one of those Good News, Bad News situations.”
“Okay – the good news is?”
“Oh you are going to meet your children today,” Karen said with a smile.
“And the bad news,” Carina asked.
“The way the babies are lying is going to make natural delivery dangerous,” Helen said as she looked at Karen, “so I strongly recommend we do the C-section. If you are in agreement, we’ll get the anaesthetist in now, and set up an epidural so you feel nothing pain wise.”
“After nine months, I’d take the bottle of rum,” Annie gasped, “but if that’s what you need to do, do it. Carina, will you be there with me?”
“Every step of the way,” Carina said with a smile.
“Right – Cari, we need a few minutes to set Annie up and get her into the delivery theatre. Klaus and Ingrid are with Caroline in the waiting room – why don’t you go and say hello and one of us will come and get you.”
“I’ll see you later,” Carina said as she gently kissed Annie on the forehead, and made her way to the waiting room.
“Hey,” she said as she came in, “hope I didn’t drag you away from anything…”
“Oh shut up,” Ingrid said as she came over and hugged her, “how is she?”
“Tired, a little scared – they’re going to do a Caesarean.”
“Somewhat appropriate, given what’s going on today,” Caroline said with a smile.
“Did I miss something,” Klaus asked.
“St Angela’s – they’re doing their charity stunt today. Abby is Queen Abigail of the Nile, and the Seniors are her attendants and Roman guard. In fact, they’re also holding a slave auction to get the staff to do something – I called in and put a lock on the one for Annie.”
“And hers is?”
“Babysitting for a night…”
“I spoke to Juliette and woke her up – do you want to call Diana?”
“Yeah, I should,” Carina said as she took her phone out.
The Richmond Mansion
“Any word,” Sandy asked as Diana came in.
“Carina has just called me – they are going to do a delivery by C-section in a short while.”
“Is Momma all right,” Judith said as she looked into the hallway.
“Your mommas are both fine – and you will see them soon,” Diana said with a smile.
“Alex has just left to go to join them – I wonder who is the most nervous?”
“Alex! Thank you for joining us,” Klaus said as he shook the priest’s hand.
“How is she,” Alex asked as he removed his great coat, and looked at Carina.
“They’re prepping her now,” Carina said as she stood up, and walked to look out of the window.
All five turned to look at the door, as Karen stood there in scrubs. “We’re ready – you need to come and put a gown on, and then join us in the theatre.”
“I’ll call Diana,” Ingrid said as Carina followed Karen to a side room.
“If you put on a gown and cover your hair,” Karen said as she pointed to a set of lockers, “then come through after me.”
“Well, this is going to be interesting,” Carina said as she took a green gown out of one locker.
“I know – to see it…”
“I don’t think we will – maybe we can ask for the DVD? And remember who this is?”
“I know – but still…”
She mentally told her other self to shut up, and stepped through as she put a mask over her mouth.
“Hey there,” Annie said as she looked up from the bed. She had a cap over her hair, a blue gown covering her upper body and raised to screen the rest of her body. “Come have a seat.”
“How are you doing, Monster Momma,” Carina said a she sat down and held her hand.
“Strange – they gave me an injection in my back, and now everything below my chest is so cool…”
“This is not the place,” Annie said with a grin as the nurses swabbed her stomach.
“Okay then,” Helen said as she and Karen stood either side of her on the other side of the screen, “you both ready?”
“No time like the present,” Annie said as Carina laughed.
“You’re going to feel what we are doing, but no pain,” Karen said under her mask. “So, scalpel.”
Annie and Carina looked at each other as she felt them working on her, as Helen said “suction please – everything looks good, you agree Karen?”
“It does indeed, Helen, and a one two, a one two three four…”
“Is this Dancing with the Stars or a delivery suite,” Carina said with a laugh.
“What it is, is miracle time,” Helen said as Annie felt the pressure, and then the sounds of a baby crying filled the air.
“And?” Carina asked anxiously.
“Ladies first – a beautiful and perfectly healthy looking girl,” Karen said as she cut the cord, and handed the baby to a nurse. “We’ll make sure you both get to see her and her brother in a few minutes. Just need to do something here…”
“Patience, Cari – and round two,” Helen said as Annie felt her at work, and then a second baby’s cries. “Oya Vey,” Helen said as Carina almost saw her smile, “this young man is going to make some girl very happy one day.”
“Are they both all right?”
“They’re fine,” Karen said as Helen took the second baby over, “but right now, we need to sort you out Annie, so be patient. We’ll get you fixed, and then move you to the recovery room and introduce both of you to both of them there.”
7.30 pm BST
The Savoy Grill
“So who is this we are meeting tonight,” Piet said as he and Charlotte walked in, the tall South African in a blue shirt, jacket and jeans, Charlotte in a blue dress with a leather jacket.
him Uncle George,” she said as the waiter indicated they should follow, seeing
Francesca and George Gordon at a table on the far side of the floor, “but he's
actually Dad's cousin, he's the minister of a church in Aberdeen."
pretty old Charlotte..."
"Not really,” Charlotte said with a smile, “he went prematurely bald when he was barely out of his teens dad once told me. He'd be in his mid fifties."
"He and your Mother seem to get along?" Piet whispered as they got close to the table and they heard the Marchesa chuckling at a joke told by the clergyman.
"Ah there you both are," Francesca smiled, "George was just telling me a joke that no Calvinist should even dream of knowing."
Uncle George," Charlotte smiled as he rose and kissed her on the cheek... “and this is Piet," she said as she presented
said you were a man mountain young man, and she was nae
kidding," George shook his hand. "I understand you were a good rugby
was Reverend, and you have the look of an old wing forward yourself."
played a bit, but my congregation didn't always take it well their minister
trying to knock seven bells out of opposing fly halves...So I gave it up when I
took my current Kirk." George smiled, "and its
George or I'll accept Uncle George from you."
Uncle George," Piet smiled as he seated Charlotte and he and George both
"So how is
arthritis is flaring up again, but she swears she'll be at yer
"I told George earlier about what Mama told you to do in Naples Charlotte?"
“Oh yes – hopefully when we get back Sunday, I’ll have a better idea.”
“Oh - and
despite the name Piet, I'm nae mad, bad and dangerous
never thought of that George," Francesca stifled a laugh..."VERY
missing something Roo?" Piet looked at
just got it myself," Charlotte smiled, "Lady Caroline Lamb called
Lord Byron that..."
before he succeeded to the title," Francesca jumped in, he was just plain
"Ah now I get the joke," Piet smiled. “Well shall we order?”
“LET ALL PRESENT BE UPSTANDING AND WELCOME OUR BELOVED QUEEN, QUEEN ABIGAIL OF EGYPT!”
As one, the Seniors began to bang their spears on the floor as Abigail came in, the girls clapping and cheering as she took her place on the chaise longue. Motioning to the girls to sit down, she turned and nodded to Letty, who stepped forward and unrolled a scroll.
“Be it known to all who are present that at this time, a tribute of twenty eight thousand dollars has been made to our gracious ruler, but that the time has come to add more to this tribute – and to inform those whose honour it is to teach you of their assigned fates, and the bids that have been raised.
“Before that, however, Queen Abigail wishes to make an announcement.”
She stepped to the side as Abby stood up, and said “Some of you will be aware that your honoured tutor in the art of mathematics, Miss Kelly, was taken from us early today to be tended to by physicians. I am greatly pleased to report that we have received an official communication that she has given birth, and more details are to follow. I command we cheer this happy news!”
Ama led the cheering and clapping as Abby went back to her seat.
“I wonder what she had,” Poppy whispered to Erica.
“Chances are we’ll know when we get home tonight,” Erica whispered back as Letty stepped forward again.
“Guards – bring forth Sarah Nightingale!”
The doors opened as two of the Seniors escorted Sarah in, to cheers from the room.
“Sarah Nightingale,” Letty said “your gracious and wise ruler, Queen Abigail, has decreed that you will spend a day with Paul Riley, Rob Ferguson and the staff at the Western New York Flash Soccer Academy, assisting in a day camp for local girls. What do you say?”
“I thank my queen for this task,” Sarah said as she bowed low, “and accept her commission.”
Abby smiled and inclined her head as the girls cheered, Sarah making her way out between the two seniors.
“How much,” she whispered as she was escorted back to the faculty lounge.
“Five thousand dollars – we thank you,” they said as she went in and sat down, wondering what would happen to the others.
A few minutes later, she looked up as Ingrid came in.
“So what did the little angels have you down for,” she asked as the door was closed.
“To work at the Tourist Information Office at the ESB for a day. You?”
“Coaching at a soccer camp. Give them their due – they got it sorted well. Who was going in after you?”
“Tom – wonder what they’ve got lined up for the Physics teacher?”
“Can we come in,” Ingrid said as she looked round the door at the room.
“Of course you can,” Carina said as Annie sat in the bed, now wearing a nightdress as a tube led to a bottle at her side.
“How are you feeling,” Klaus said as he and Alex came in and stood by the other side of the bed.
“A lot lighter,” Annie said with a smile, “but I need to take it easy for a few days. They want to keep me in for a couple of days for observation.”
“I’m not surprised,” Caroline said with a smile, “so where are they?”
“You called,” Karen said as she and Helen came in, along with two nurses, one carrying a baby dressed in blue, the other in pink. “Carina, Annie, meet the latest additions to your family.”
“Hey there you two,” Annie said as she was given them both to hold, “this is your momma Carina, this is your grandfather Klaus, your uncle Alex, your aunt Ingrid, and your aunt Caroline.”
“Hello there,” Klaus said as he smiled at them, “have you…”
“We have,” Annie said. “We’re calling her Margaret – Margaret Renate von Furstenheim.”
“A fine name for a beautiful girl,” Klaus said, “and her brother?”
“Grappy Pops,” Carina said with pride, “meet Rudolf Klaus von Furstenheim.”
“Thank you,” Klaus said with a smile. “So, which of us will have the joy of ringing your mother with the news?”
“I will shortly,” Carina said as she looked at the sleeping children. “Caroline, Alex, will you let the others know?”
“Of course my child,” Alex said as he signalled to Caroline, and they stepped outside.
“Might as well call her now,” Annie said, Carina nodding as she took out her cell phone…
Tuesday 17th May
The Peninsular Hotel, Hong Kong
Jan sat bolt upright, waking up as she heard the cell phone ringing, and Juliette reaching for it.
“Cari,” Ju said with a smile, “do you have some news for me?”
“I do Mom – I’m here with Pops, Ingy, Annie…”
“And the twins.”
Jan saw Juliette stare at her, before she whispered “I’m sorry darling, did you just say twins?”
“I did Mom – and I’m sorry we didn’t tell you, but we did not want any of you to worry. Apart from Helen and Karen, only Ama and Caroline knew.”
“Twins,” Jan mouthed, Juliette nodding as she said “I have two new grandchildren to spoil?”
“That’s right – a boy and a girl.”
"Mom calm down,” she heard her daughter say, “they are fine, Annie is fine...Someone else felt left out of it though, all that blood and she had no role in it.”
"Well as long as it stays that way young lady...So names?"
Renate. Margaret for Annie's Mom, Renate for Ingy's."
"That’s so nice darling....and the boy?”
“He will be Rudolf Klaus...Rudolf as it’s a family name, and Klaus for Pops."
"Pops says like all royal families they must have 4 Christian names, so any suggestions will be welcome Mom?"
"Richard for my father?"
"Should definitely be one Mom."
“And I also have a suggestion for the fourth name – Alexander.”
“Yes – yes that would be good. And for Margaret?”
“Let Annie choose darling – where do I send flowers?” She signalled to Jan to pass her a pen and paper, writing as she said “who is spreading the word?”
“Alex is calling Diana, and he’ll get her to ask Jo to bring Judith here. Caroline is phoning round the other Sinners, and I’m sure the grapevine will get the message round.”
“Well, as soon as I land, I’m coming to see them. You look after them all Cari.”
“I will do – enjoy today Mom,” Carina said as she ended the call, Juliette putting her phone down and falling back.
“Rudolf and Margaret,” Juliette said, “well, no sleep now – fancy an early breakfast?”
Monday 16th May
“And,” Klaus said as he looked at Carina.
“She’s over the moon. Pops, Mom suggested Richard as an additional name for my grandfather."
"That is appropriate." Klaus nodded as she looked at the sleeping boy.
shouldn't Margaret's third be Juliette?" Annie asked.
know she'd like it to be in there," Cari smiled.
would." Klaus nodded.
“I want his fourth name to be Alexander,” Cari said as she looked at Alex, making a call outside.
“Rudolf Klaus Richard Alexander – so it shall be. And Margaret Renate Juliette…”
“Natalia. Margaret Renate Juliette Natalia.”
“Sounds like you’ve agreed on names then.”
“Barbara,” Annie said as she came in with Alex. “Come and meet them.”
“Twins – this is so magical,” Barbara said as she looked at them. “Do the girls know yet?”
“I just texted Ama – she will pass the word on,” Caroline said as she hugged Barbara.
gets to call Jack and get him to do the baby photos?" asked Father Alex.
"He won a drinking
contest at your Mother’s wedding for the rights."
drinking contest," Annie looked outraged.
"He probably cheated," Cari burst into laughter, "But okay I'll get him and Luke over later to take the ‘official' pictures."
“So let’s review,” Harriet said, “I have been booked by Elly Mental to play at a concert of her film music… Ingrid at tourist information… Sarah at a camp… Cari bought the book on Annie… And Grace?”
“I,” Grace said as she came in, “just agreed to help cook in the Refectory next week, while Kate is going to teach at Mindy’s school next week. Which leaves our beloved leader…”
“Wilhelmina Tennant,” Letty said, “Our gracious monarch, Queen Abigail, has decreed that you will be in charge of the drinks bar at the Senior Prom this year, by agreement with her royal court. Do you accept this task?”
“I accept with great humility and honour,” Wilhelmina said as she bowed.
“So ends our day of tribute, and I have been informed,” Letty said as Celia handed her a picture, “that the final tribute currently stands at eighty thousand dollars, which will be used to serve those who are most important – those who need the help of all of us. Your Majesty,” she said as she and Celia, and all the Seniors, bowed to Abby as she stood.
“ALL CHEER QUEEN ABIGAIL!!”
As the gathered room cheered and clapped, Abby smiled and left the room, Letty and Celia following with Annabelle and Rachel.
“Some day,” Abby said as they returned to the Seniors Room “What’s the real word?”
“I just got word from Mom – it’s a boy…”
“Oh that’s wonderful,” Abby said as she looked at Letty.
“… and a girl.”
Abby looked at her for a few seconds, before she said “twins? She had twins?”