The Duke of Calais had his hand protectively around his young cousin, he knew he was supporting her entire body weight but it did not matter to him, seeing her so distraught pained him. She was very beautiful the Lady, it was a wonder how any man could betray her in such a way, let alone considering her position in both the French and Spanish courts.
The young Lady gripped tightly onto his hand, he felt like he was not only carrying her delicate fragile frame but also the weight of the world as well. They walked in silence apart from the Duke offering comfort assuring her everything would be alright. How she would be most likely due to wed another man and that England would suffer from the loss of her not becoming their Duchess of Gloucester.
It was true; many men had already shown an interest in wedding the newly available Lady, times had reverted back to before she was engaged to marry the English Duke. Even Calais had registered an interest in wedding the Lady but then retracted it, he felt far too close to her and felt no love of that nature for her despite her beauty and wisdom.
As they approached her chambers the guards stepped out of the convoy’s way and held the doors open to let them pass. The Duke ordered her ladies come and support her arms and place her into her chair. They did so. Calais came and sat beside her.
“Calais,” Henriette whispered, “forgive me; you must think me so foolish. I nearly fainted,” she admitted.
They were now in the company of only each other; the Duke had sent her ladies to prepare them some supper. The sound of bad news had hungered the Lady an awful amount.
“Forgive you; there is nothing to forgive you of. Most noble Lady how you have been betrayed,”
“What am I to do Calais?” she asked. Her voice, though sounding mature and collected up until now had suddenly turned childlike and innocent. It made the Duke’s heart wretch and melt at the same time. “I have no husband, no hope, no future, no one will want to marry me now Calais, I am nothing.”
“No,” he said sternly. “I will not have you speak like that, what would your Father the Duke say to you speaking with such a tongue?” he demanded.
“I do not know,” she replied. “He is not here.”
“But he will be here, word came from Paris, he is riding her tonight and should reach us by sun rise. He will sort this horrendous matter out; he will know what to do.”
“Oh Calais, he always knows just what to do,” she agreed.
“And I should think he will not be too happy about his youngest, most favoured daughter left before her wedding by her supposedly noble husband to be.”
“And the King, my Uncle,”
“He too will be furious,” Calais exclaimed. “In fact, I would hate to be the messenger tasked with telling the King such news,” he joked, Lady Henriette giggled, for the first time in what felt like forever a true smile formed upon her thin lips.
Just as the ladies return with the supper the Duke of Calais was getting ready to excuse himself.
“Oh Calais, must you leave so soon?” Henriette asked.
“You would not want a gentlemen intruding on your time with your ladies, now would you,” he quipped.
Henriette giggled in the most childish way. Only now she was no longer due to wed the Duke was her attention returning to the men who spend their lives in her court. She had not engaged in much conversation with the Duke of Calais before though now she feels as though they are close friends. He would never leave me before our wedding day, she thought looking at her cousin. “My ladies and I will miss you,” she said softly.
“Ah, but I must leave cousin; I fear my services as a jester are needed elsewhere in the palace,” he smiled.
“You mean to the Duchess’s side?”
“Indeed I shall go to your Mother’s side; I will wait with her until your Father arrives,”
“You are most kind Calais, both my Mother and Father will remember the acts of kindness you have exhibited.”
“I should hope not,” he replied before bowing and then going, leaving Henriette with an immense feeling of loneliness once again.