Jessica helped Evelyn into a grey traveling outfit for her fitting at Lisette’s shop. She was running behind thanks to Pierce’s injury.
Evelyn walked into the side yard with Evan and John at her back. Waiting by the carriage were Robert, Peter, and Pierce.
When the men saw her, they quickly got into position. Pierce handed her into the carriage before getting inside after her.
“How is your arm?” Evelyn asked once they were underway.
“It’s fine,” Pierce answered keeping an eye out the window.
Evelyn was going to ask him more questions, but the look on his face told her he wasn’t in the mood. She looked out the window and watched the landscape go by.
Fall was definitely in the air. The crisp nights followed the sunny warm days, soon the leaves would change from green to shades of orange, yellow, and red. It was hard to believe that in less than a month she would queen, living in a foreign country, ruling over a people from a castle she had never set foot in.
Evelyn watched the ducks swim on the pond, which caused her to remember Lily.
“Pierce, did you find out anything about Lily or her uncle?”
He turned to study Evelyn. The sunlight was glinting off her strawberry blonde hair. She was too beautiful for her own good.
“No one knows where Lily has gone, or her grandmother, Lady Grisham, for that matter. As for her uncle, it seems like he has thousands of dollars in gambling debts,” Pierce explained.
“What about him talking to Prince Philip?” Evelyn was eager to know everything in regards to their conversation. She was worried about the power Prince Philip wielded around himself like a cape.
“It would appear he was making some type of arrangement with Philip to have his debts paid off. Presently, Ian and Richard are looking into the matter,” Pierce told her.
Evelyn worked her upper lip with her teeth. Why would her cousin chose to work with that man? It made no sense to her.
Pierce took her hand in his. “Evie, it will be alright. I promise, nothing will happen to you.”
Evelyn nodded and turned back to the window. Pierce let her hand go.
He didn’t want to worry Evelyn, but from what he was finding out about Prince Philip, the man was one determined fellow. Although, he wasn’t the only one. The Duke of Isaacs was another, and Ian had indicated there could be a third man desperate for her hand in marriage as well.
Evelyn and Pierce rode in silence the rest of the way to town.
Soon enough, Evelyn was being helped out of the carriage by Pierce, who held her hand. A tremor of awareness swept through Evelyn, but if Pierce felt anything at all, he hid it well. She looked up into his handsome face and was going to thank him, when someone shrieked behind her.
Evelyn jumped and turned towards the commotion.
There, running up the street towards her were two little girls. Both were in desperate need of a bath, but both were extremely excited to see Evelyn.
“Princess, we’ve been waiting all morning for you!” Cried one of the girls, who abruptly stopped short once Pierce and the others surrounded her.
“Let’s get you inside, Your Highness,” Pierce said, never taking his off the girls or the crowd starting to form. Grabbing Evelyn’s elbow, he tried to escort her inside.
However, Evelyn didn’t move. She tried to discreetly break the hold, but Pierce wouldn’t let go.
“Evelyn, get inside now,” Pierce growled into her ear.
Warmth spread through her body like a shot as his breath tickled her ear.
Evelyn turned to look at him before defiantly responding, “No.”
Pierce glared at Evelyn, but said nothing as she once again tried to break away from his grip. This time he let go.
Evelyn approached the two girls, who upon closer inspection couldn’t have been more than seven. While they were both dusty, it was clear that one was taken care of, while the other wasn’t.
“Hello, Princess Evelyn,” said the one who appeared to be the oldest of the girls as she curtsied. The other girl, whose dress had clearly seen better days, followed suit.
“How are you today, Rose?”
“I’m doing very well today, Your Highness,” Rose said as her eyes darted around to look at all the men surrounding her. The crowd that had started to form over the commotion quickly dispersed.
“Lily and I was waiting to see if you were going to come today. She had something ‘portant she wanted to tell you, but you know she’s really shy,” Rose explained in quiet tones, all the while never taking her eyes off Evelyn.
Evelyn had just opened her mouth to speak when Rose’s mother came around the corner. She took one look at the situation and approached immediately.
“I am so sorry, Your Highness. You must forgive her, she’s only a child and doesn’t realize how valuable your time is,” the woman said bowing before her while grabbing Rose by the arm. “We are leaving and she shan’t trouble you again.”
The young girl, realizing her time was short yelled out, “What about Lily?”
“The Princess don’t care, Rose! Come! I have lunch to serve and need you.”
“No!” Rose’s mother practically yelled. “I’m not having this conversation again. We’re not taking in the urchin. That’s that.”
Rose looked back at a frightened Lily one last time before her mother dragged her around the corner.
Pierce, relieved the conversation was over, started to usher Evelyn into the shop where Lisette waited inside. However, she wouldn’t move.
Instead she was looking at the little street urchin Lily. Upon closer inspection, her worn dress was made of quality fabric. She looked thin and very young, like she was closer to five than the seven of the other girl.
Evelyn surprised Pierce when she pushed away from them to kneel down in front of the small child.
“Oh, Lily, my love, what has happened? Where is your grandmother?” Evelyn softly asked her.
Her eyes were big as saucers as she stared at Pierce and all the men behind her. Her little hands trembled, and her lower lip began to quiver.
She squared her tiny shoulders and said in a small voice, “My grandma went on a trip and left me with a governess. She tooked me to the orphanage, and a mean lady there tooked away the doll my grandma gaved me for my birthday and said she was gonna sell her and my nice clothes to help pay for me.”
Tears started falling from her eyes, and her little shoulders slouched inward.
“Can you get my dolly back, please? I promise I won’t ever bother you ever again,” Lily asked quietly looking up at Evelyn with glistening green eyes.
Pierce could tell she was surprised by the request, but he could also see she was angry.
“Lily, when did your grandma leave?”
“I doesn’t ‘member. It was a few days after I saw you at the tournament and you gaved me a treat.”
Evelyn was now visibly shaking with rage, but she tried hard not to let that show in front of the young child.
Suddenly, Pierce realized who the little girl was. This was Lily, the girl Evelyn kept talking about. He had never met her, which explained why he hadn’t recognized her.
“Come, Lily. We shall get your dolly, and your things back, or I swear there will be hell to pay,” Evelyn stated as she picked up the filthy girl.
“What about your appointment? We have a schedule, Your Highness,” Pierce responded.
“Tell Lisette I shall return in a half hour, and upon my arrival I shall require a small lunch.”
“You aren’t going alone,” Pierce growled.
Evelyn turned to look at him. “Then come along all of you. It’s a few blocks away. We will walk and be back and still be on your precious schedule, but only if we hurry.”
With that said, Evelyn started walking with Lily on her hip.
“Damnit! The future queen is trying to get herself bloody killed!”
The quintet quickly caught up with Evelyn and Lily, flanking them on all sides.
“You know she’s not a dog you can just get rid of when you’re bored, right?” Pierce quietly said in her ear.
“I do realize that.” Then after a momentary pause, Evelyn’s mouth turned up in a small smile. She looked him square in the eyes, “That’s what you’re for.”
Pierce was stunned by her beauty and her coy smile in the midst of her anger, then her words registered. He started to say something, but kept quiet. The twinkle in her eyes told him everything he needed to know.
They had already walked a few blocks down the cobblestone road, but he sensed they were getting closer. The houses weren’t as nice as when they started and there were more people milling about staring at Evelyn.
Pierce could tell they were getting into a rougher part of town and moved in closer, as did the other four. As they came to the end of the road, they saw children running around, playing in front of what he could only assume was the orphanage.
The kids looked filthy and ill kept, while the woman out front looked like she was doing just fine. The house was in good repair, but was in need of some new paint.
When the woman spotted Lily, she yelled for her, “Get over here you little wretch! I’ve spent the better part of the morning searching for you. You have chores to do, and then you’ll be sorely punished, you will!”
Evelyn set the girl down, and she promptly hid behind Evelyn as the woman came down the porch steps to grab the child.
“Begging your pardon miss. I’m sorry if she’s stolen something from you, but you’ll not get a cent out of us. We barely have the money to provide for the children,” the woman said reaching for Lily.
However, Evelyn kept her out of reach of the woman.
“I am actually looking for the woman in charge of this establishment. Lily said she took away her doll and clothing to sell and help provide for this place, and I want her things returned to her now,” Evelyn said in the regal tone she had perfected over the years.
The woman, who had to be in her mid-thirties, stared at Evelyn for a long moment before she burst out laughing.
“I don’t know who the bloody hell you think you are, miss,” the woman said rolling with laughter. “But I’ll not be returning anything to that bastard. She’s lucky she got to live in the lap of luxury for as long as she did.”
“I believe you misunderstood me,” Evelyn replied. “I’m not asking, I’m commanding.”
The other woman, not liking being told what to do, stood up straight and took in Evelyn and her guards.
“Look, I get you’re rich or something, and part of the nobility, so you might not understand what happens to bastards. When their guardians die and no one else claims them, they end up here. We sell their things to keep this place going,” the woman said slowly, in a condescending tone.
Pierce had just about had enough of her and was going to intercede, but Evelyn’s body language spoke volumes and he decided she had it well in hand.
Looking at the guards then back to Evelyn before glaring at Lily, the woman said, “Do you understand, m’lady? Or do you need me to spell it out for you?”
“Are you in charge of the orphanage or is there someone I can speak with? Lily isn’t a bastard, she is a cousin of the King, and I want her things returned to her now.”
“She’s a cousin of the King my arse! Are you daft? We sold her things! And whether she’s a bastard or not, she’s an orphan now, so she don’t get nice things. And no. Mrs. Springfield is in charge,” said the woman, who was getting ruder and ruder by the second.
“May I speak with her?” Evelyn asked in a pleasant, but firm tone.
“Sure. If it keeps me from having to deal with you’re dumb arse. One moment.”
With that she went inside.
“Why didn’t you say who you are?” Pierce asked both frustrated and curious. Evelyn could see the others felt the same.
“Oh, you’ll see in a moment.”
Copyright © Meg’s Chronicles 2018 All Rights Reserved