by Georgette Heyer
"Very well, then," said the King, with a shrug of his shoulders, "I _am_ undone."
Jane got up and went across the room to where the King was seated, and knelt beside his chair. "How should that be, while we are here to serve you, sir? Something we will yet contrive."
He glanced down at her, but for a moment did not answer her. She saw how harsh his face had grown, how sombre his eyes. His thoughts, which he would let no one share, seemed to creep between them like a chill, intangible barrier. She bowed her head, clasping her hands tightly before her upon the arm of his chair, for her heart yearned towards him, yet could not reach him, and it made her throat ache with unhappiness to meet that look of his that rested on her face without seeing it.
Suddenly his hand was laid over her clasped ones, lightly yet strongly emprisoning them. He said cheerfully: "I don't doubt I shall come safe off. But I must take counsel with my lord before I can decide what were best to do next."
"Please your Majesty, I will bring my lord to you by the back way as soon as it is dark," Pope said.
The King nodded. He still kept his hand over Jane's, and when Pope had left the room, he said with a note of caress in his voice: "Troubled, my Life? Do you fear for me? You need not, for I am very sure God has not preserved me for so many days, only to let me fall at last into the hands of mine enemies."
"Not that," she answered, keeping her eyes lowered. "I have foolish thoughts, sire nothing worth. I know your Majesty will win free."
"What are these thoughts?" he asked.
She shook her head, but looked up, and managed to smile. "Ah no, they are mine, sir, as yours are yours alone. Must I not be cast down when your Majesty frowns?"
"Did I so? But not at you, I swear."
"Not at me, but at your troubles, which now you make light of that I may not suspect they irk you," she said wistfully.
He did not tell her what was in his mind, that women were made for loving, not counsel. He said instead: "The truth is, I am an impatient fellow, that cannot stomach the least check."
She rose from her knees. "Nay, for you are a prince, sir, and all unused to the checks that fall in common men's paths."
This section was 'donated' by Barb.
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