Pandemonium swirled around Mama wherever she went so it was no surprise when it arrived with her. Her histrionics had forced Alexis from the house but before he left the grounds I saw him attacked by an invisible foe yet again. I ran to his side and asked where to attack but he muttered something about them being all around and gave no other guidance. Once more Alexis was wounded so I tried to get my bearings on his opponent and I attacked but failed to find or wound an enemy. It seemed Alexis was tackled to the ground by a figure that had appeared from nowhere and when I could see him clearly he looked so much like Alexis that there was no doubt he was kin. I suspected that Mama was in for a nasty surprise. I had no idea that I was in for one.
The young man stood and dusted himself off, handed Alexis a toy and called him father. Then he greeted “Uncle Steppie” and threw his arms about me and declared me “Auntie Viv”. My stunned disbelief not withstanding, I was having to accept this was indeed Carlos, Alexis’ son. Mama was going to be more than displeased. Gaston, being quite the gentleman and very courteous, had come to ask after my brother and see if there was anything he could do. Luigi was nowhere to be seen.
Gaston was quite mannerly and agreed that we could keep this from Mama for now and I promised to bring it to Grandmama later. But it was too late for that , and Carlos raised his voice calling for Uncle Steppie which attracted the attention of those still within the house. Grandmama came to the balcony and I scurried to her side in the hopes of quieting things before Mama took notice. I failed as Mama came out bellowing to have the servants remove Alexis only to freeze upon the sight of Carlos. She pivoted on her heel and retreated apparently to find more of father’s finer stock.
I was almost relieved when an emissary arrived and gave Grandmama notice of the uprisings in the lands through which we had just traveled. She answered that she would be sending me to lead a party to bring a peaceful resolution to the area, then she requested Wolfie accompany me to provide insight and guidance. Happy in the faith Grandmama had displayed in me, my mind was a whirl with how I was to achieve this gargantuan task without bloodshed. I missed much of the rest that was discussed as I was already on to plans for our departure on the morrow as I retired to my rooms.
Having given instructions to my ladies on what to pack, I was a little rushed in preparing for dinner and was perhaps not at my best, which was unfortunate. I did remember to check on Wolfie before going down to dinner and was thrilled to see he had at least tried to tie his cravat correctly and remembered his dining gloves. Dinner discussion turned to questions of strategy in dealing the peasants and I tried and tried to understand the positions put forth by Wolfie and the Lady Rhoades but I must say I felt I was pretty much missing some of the finer points. Or maybe the points altogether. Still when Gaston asked my opinion I conceded that if Grandmama had suggested that we follow the guidance of Wolfie than that is what we should do. Luigi’s opinion, which was quite passionate, was that if the peasants were be treated well enough loyalty would not even be a question.
Mama managed to struggle through the meal without making a scene but I had no doubt that she would manage immediately afterwards to undo the sobering effects that the food might provide. Dinner proceeded through the normal courses and after the meal I gave Wolfie a word of advice on how to best present his gift to Grandmama. I believe she is quite enamored with him. We all retired early as we’d be departing in the morning. Upon returning to my rooms I reviewed what my ladies had packed and prepared and I tweaked the accessories to my satisfaction while I got the local gossip from the household staff. It seems I still have not swayed my Grandmama to choose me as her heir and she was very worried about some pirates that had been treading on our normal trade routes. Later still I had to turn Luigi away from my room for the night as it would be inappropriate to bed him in my family home especially with Gaston here if it was indeed true there were negotiations proceeding to see us engaged.
In the morning we went down to the courtyard and Gaston brought me a beautiful white steed. I was flattered by his thoughtfulness of coordinating my horse with my outfit for the day. I thanked him graciously and he recommended that I should address the troops despite the fact that I was determined to follow Grandmama’s instructions and see this through to a peaceful resolution. His pleas for me to do this anyway were earnest enough that I took pity on him and spoke to the militia. I told them all that they were to remain ready in case we should fail in our attempts to negotiate for then their force would be gravely needed. I felt I had indeed inspired them and was quite relieved to see that Grandmama had witnessed my success with satisfaction.
We set out, me in the lead with a jaunty tilt to my hat and a lightness of heart despite the circumstances.
We made good time and arrived early the next day. At our morning break of fast Wolfie took me aside and expressed his concern about Luigi’s feelings in the matter of my potential engagement to Gaston, but I assured him that Luigi had expressed no intentions toward me, nor had he ever even mentioned marriage. Luigi truly could not be serious about pressing his suit as not only had we never had a discussion but he’d made no effort to sway my mother nor to impress my grandmother on the previous evening. Wolfie felt I was mistaken and seemed surprised I would accept any engagement my family would arrange but I pointed out he had just done that same thing.
Gaston asked me my orders for the morning and if we should prepare to battle but I recommended we send in scouts. He seemed a little put out when I didn’t select him for the task but I felt that Alexis, Wolfie and Lady Rhoades had the edge in these circumstances. See? I could demonstrate strategy. Now I would just wait for the reports to roll in.