Wolfie returned from his adventure pursuing our “escaped” prisoner with reports of the Inquisition’s role in the local unrest we’ve been subjected to. Grandmama pulled out some maps which we all studied carefully. Yup. Meant nothing to me but I did notice a nursery rhyme on the side which I asked Grandmama about. “The Black Cat has 9 lives. The Red Cat is an ally.” It was only after I asked about it that I thought I remembered The Red Cat was rumored to be a costumier. A light bulb went off and I wondered aloud if he wasn’t related to my own Monsieur Rouge. And Grandmama thought the Black Cat might be the Duchess of Rachitisse. She bid me to take my friends and search out if the Duchess is in collusion with the Inquisition. As she finished charging us with this task Wolfie plead the case of my brother, to allow him on the family grounds, and it seems she gave some concession.
It was later, as we conversed with the Lady Rhoades before supper, that Wolfie made an entrance with young Carlos in tow. I was stunned until he introduced Carlos as his nephew. To move things along I interceded and introduced, Grandmama, Maman, and my two elder sisters and then led us into dinner even though the servants had yet to call it. Thankfully his manners were unremarkable which was a relief.
Not much happened for the rest of the evening and when I retired to my rooms my ladies were still all atwitter with preparations for our departure on the morrow. It was with great relief I closed the door after sending them to their own beds.
Not long after there was a light tap on my door which I answered. I was relieved it was Luigi and not the pompous ass, Gaston. It was with distress that I heard another tap just a little bit later and discovered it was Grandmama. I set Luigi to hide and only opened the door after he had done it well. Grandmama suggested that I might not be considering Gaston’s with enough sincerity and I countered that while I was prepared for unattractive, under-titled or boring I was not prepared to accept a fool. She gave that no response but did seem to accept it. As she departed she appeared to be giving my answer some thought.
This exchange which Luigi clearly overheard, made for a different interplay between Luigi and I. While not a direct conversation, the implications of our exchanges made our situation more plain than we it been since our meeting. I made it clear that if he were serious about us then he would have to place himself in the esteem of Grandmama and if he was not, that I would soon have to accept the arrangements of my family for a marriage.
I was completely unsure of his intent and it was only in his response to my comments that I thought he might actually wish to pursue such a course. I felt I had to encourage him and I mused on what a team we would make and that if done properly with Grandmama it might not just be my father’s titles and estates up for grabs. He kissed me rather tenderly (especially for him) as he retired for the evening saying he had a lot to think about. Ha! I had so much to think about I hardly slept at all until the early morning hours.
It was to a loud pounding on my door that I awakened at an ungodly hour. Alexis burst into my rooms, with the Lady Rhoades on his heels, and he was ranting about a duel being fought in my honor. I quickly wrapped a robe about my night garments and took to my balcony to see what was happening. Clearly Luigi had a good long think last night as here he was in the courtyard facing off against Gaston. Alexis was trying to tell me what he had heard that led up to this but I was most disappointed that I had clearly missed most of the action. Luigi’s flurry of blows was more than Gaston could bear and he was escorted from the field in defeat. Luigi clearly hadn’t seen me before he heard my applause and I urged my ladies to quickly find a favor to grant to the victor. With a smile I tossed him a handkerchief and I returned to my bed with an inner sense of satisfaction.
I was so preoccupied that I was not prepared when Lady Rhoades begged a moment of my time and that of Alexis too. It was then that she spoke again of her brother whom she had misplaced and with whom she had hopes of reuniting. She asked if we would assist her in finding him as the last rumors she heard were that he might have set out for the Crescent Empire. I told her she would be able to count on me only after I had satisfied any mission my Grandmother set me to.