I sat in silence as my Mother explained to me all that had happened, I could hardly breathe, my husband to be, my fiancé my supposed true love had married another.
“No,” I said quietly, “no,” I whispered once more. “Dear Mother, you are mistaken,” I said firmly though it escaped my lips as a beg, I was begging, praying that my Mother be wrong, that really the Duke was not already wed.
“I am not mistaken daughter,” she said softly resting her hand upon mine. The rest of the room was in stunned silence, too much emotion was whirling around the sitting room, let alone my poor brain, and so many feelings were rushing around my head. I did not know what to feel.
“I received word from London, confirming it to be true, I am most sorry,” she said. Although her offering her sympathies was a pleasant gesture coming from my bitter Lady Mother I felt no comfort in hearing her words.
“Who did he marry?” I whispered not sure if I wanted to know the answer to the question, not sure if I could face the truth. Who could my fiancé have married, there was no other woman in Europe like myself. Niece to the King of France, great-granddaughter to the King of Spain, I was a woman many a man sought after and yet I have been left, abandoned at the altar.
“You need not to know who the coward has betrayed you for,” the Duchess said quickly.
“Please,” I begged her. “I must know,”
“A woman,” she said sharply, as if telling me sparked bitterness in her mouth.
“Of noble birth, of title, land, inheritance?” I prompted.
“She is just a woman, Henriette, her Father has no land or wears no title, she is as common as they come and yet she is wed to the third in line to the English throne,” Mother said emotionlessly. It pained me to see Mother so emotionless on the subject, this made me feel even more emotional, I let out a large cry of anger and fear before I could stop myself.
“My Lady,” a voice says. I look up to see who is speaking. Another Lord stood in the corner of the room speaks up, he is young, no older than I but by a few years, he speaks to comfort me in a more youthful way, one my Mother cannot muster.
“If he chooses not to make an alliance between our great nation and his that will be England’s price to pay, and trust me sister, they will pay the price.” He assures me.
“Indeed,” several other men agree.
"Naturally," Mother adds.
“It should be you, at his side now. Not this girl,” He says gently. "But there is nothing more than can be done."
"What will happen to me?" I asked. "What should we do?"
“My good Dame,” he spoke to me. “I suggest you go to your chambers and rest. We must wait until the morrow when your Father returns home, he will take the matters into his own hands and will know how to treat this situation.” He said. “Until then be returned to your chambers and be amongst your women,” Although I meant what would happen to me on a more permanent basis, I was not looking for what would happen to me now or tomorrow I was thinking about the following few years. I wondered what would become of me now, I was the daughter of the Duke of Bourbon, a Lady stood up before the alter.
“Your sister, the Countess, will arrive tomorrow also,” Mother added awakening me from my thoughts.
The Duke walked towards my chair, he held out his hand, I took it gratefully and held onto him tightly. He helped me to my feet and down the steps, I was thankful that when my feet were firmly on the ground he did not let me go, I could feel my knees weak with fear and shock. I felt I would collapse if he let me go.
“I shall escort the Lady to her chambers, if her ladies will accompany me,” the Duke of Calais said.
“Yes, thank you Calais,” Mother said. “Good night daughter, try and sleep,” she said.
“I will Mother,” The Duke, still holding onto me tightly opened the door and walked with me to my chamber followed by my ladies and guards.