Chapter 11: Back to England

At long last the party reached the Daydream, and safety. They boarded and, after seeing the Thériaults settled comfortably, each went to their respective cabins. It was only upon reaching his that Alexander realized how exhausted he had become. He collapsed upon his bed and fell asleep almost instantaneously. Some hours later he was brought back to consciousness by someone knocking on his door and then Hasting's voce telling him that they where almost there. There was a bureau with a mirror on one side of the room and he made use of it now to make the best of his rumpled appearance. He looked into the mirror and then realized to his chagrin that he was still in his soldier's uniform, then remembered with relief the traveling outfit he had packed in his trunk. He changed into this quickly and went up to the deck. It was fast becoming dark, but he could still distinguish the shoreline stretching out before them. Another ten or fifteen minutes saw them to the port from where he could see lights shining up ahead. They made their way toward the lights and as they neared he saw that it was a small inn, the sign of which read The Fisherman's Rest. When they knocked they were welcomed in warmly by a cheerful old man who immediately began to talk to Percy. Alexander wasn't paying to much attention though. He was too busy taking in the inviting surroundings. It was very warm in the room, which felt wonderful after the cold, biting sea air. The scene was that of a typical English inn with a fire in the hearth and people around tables talking and amiably drinking beer. To the Thériaults this cozy country inn seemed too good to be true after the harsh reality of France. It was such a considerable contrast, and so agreeable, that the Marquise was nearly moved to tears. She turned to Sir Percy with gratefulness in her eyes and said:

"Milord, how can we ever repay you?"

"There is no need to thank me. If you wish to thank someone, thank God, for it is He who made possible your escape. Without Him no agency of man can accomplish anything,"

"May He bless you, Milord, for your kindness."

Andrew, knowing how awkward his friend felt in situations like this held his arm out for the Marquise and lead her to a seat where the others joined them. They all had a delicious meal after which it was announced that the carriages had arrived to take them home.

~*~

Alexander stepped out of the carriage, said his farewells, and then watched it drive away. He watched it for a long time, then, just as he was turning, light spilled out into the darkness of the night as the door opened and a familiar voice cried out:

"Alexander!" He ran to Faith and they embraced. Then she led him inside.

"You look so much better--and you must be if the doctor has let you get up!"

"Let me get up! It's even better than that. Alexander, yesterday I went on a ride with Father! I still had to be careful and go slowly, but I rode!"

"That's wonderful! Weren't you a bit nervous though? I know things don't frighten you easily, but it was what first started your illness."

"Don't be silly, it wasn't the horse's fault that the tree fell. I could just as easily gotten hit by that tree if I was walking instead of riding." She paused a minute then said hesitatingly "Well, to tell you the truth, I was a little nervous, but only at first. As soon as I felt the wind in my hair and the sun on my face, the horse beneath me, it just all came back and I couldn't feel nervous or anything of the kind."

"But this has all happened so quickly, I never thought to come back and find you recovering so fast."

"I know, nobody expected it. I am still not completely healed, that's why I didn't go to the ball that Mother and Father are at tonight. I wouldn't have wanted to go tonight anyways, not without you. I have always enjoyed balls more than you and been more at ease, but I daresay I will probably feel nearly as awkward as you normally do on such occasions. I haven't been to a ball in years and I will really need you that first night."

"More likely I will need you."

"Need me? No matter how few friends you have, you are bound to have more than I do--you have been to so many more balls."

"I know I have, but remember? I am going to have to learn to become a gentleman."

"That reminds me, Lady Blakeney is giving a ball in two weeks time. I should be quite well by then and I should so like to have my first ball in all these years be at his house. Just imagine it, I am going to meet the Scarlet Pimpernel! I can't wait! Now, to help pass the time until mother and father return, we are going to sit down and not get up until you have told me everything."

And so Alexander spent well over two hours regaling his sister with every detail of the amazing past few days. Suddenly their discussion was cut short by the entrance of their parents. Lord Wyndham in particular looked much improved and happier than before. Alexander realized then that Faith's recovery must have lifted quite a load off of his Fathers shoulders. If Lady Wyndham didn't look to a certain extent as radiant as Lord Wyndham at first, she did after she heard what Alexander had to say.

"Welcome home, son!" Lord Wyndham said smiling

"Is it what Faith said true? She said that you were traveling with friends," questioned his Mother.

"It is true."

"But how? You hardly know anyone."

"Well, I've decided it's about time I started getting out more and become more involved in society. Lord Dewhurst introduced me to some of his friends, and I am invited to go on a fox hunt with him and Sir Andrew Ffoulkes. You don't object to it, do you?"

"Why Alexander, this is wonderful news! You never cease to surprise me."

This new information from Alexander momentarily checked any further questions she would have asked him, much to his and Faith's relief.

©Blakeney Manor, 2005