The inside the Duchess’s chambers were even more daunting a sight then they usually were to the Lady Henriette, she practically had to force her way inside, there were several guards stood at each door leading into her main chambers, this was not unusual, the Duchess was in permanent residence and being the Dauphine, the next in line to the throne, she could potentially by in mortal danger, though nothing was likely to happen. Although recently, especially over the past few days, the number of guards around the palace had increased dramatically.
There were now men posted on every door and men patrolled the corridors at night as though they were looking for someone or something.
Henriette knelt before her Lady Mother, when she laid eyes upon her the first thing she noticed was her tear stained cheeks. The room was filled with her ladies, they were rushing backwards and forwards carrying letters that had just been delivered, they topped up the glasses of the men who sat deep in conversation with her Mother, Henriette recognised these men, well some of them at least. They were men from her Father’s army, Lords and noble men from across the country. She could not help but wonder desperately why they were gathered in her Mother’s room in their palace.
The first thought that flashed through her mind was that her Father was dead. She thought about it for a few more seconds, of course it made sense. The way Charlotte had sneered at her; she no longer had a Father. The truth seemed too real for her to handle, she opened her mouth and at once a large sob came out.
The Duchess, who had been holding onto Henriette’s hands whilst her daughter was still kneeling on the floor had her eyes closed, they snapped open.
“Was that you child?” she demanded.
“Oh Mother, forgive me,” she wept.
The Duchess ordered her ladies to help Henriette to her feet, the ladies carefully assisted her to the standing position, and once she was up they lowered her into a chair beside her Mother. The Duchess leant over and took her daughter’s hands.
“Why are you crying daughter?” she asked.
“Because,” she sobbed trying desperately to utter the words. She drew all the strength she could muster to spit out the dreaded words. “My Father is dead,” she whispered.
The Duchess was silent for a few moments that proved to Henriette that her suspicions had been confirmed she started crying all over again, this time her hands shook with fear and worry as to what would happen to her Father.
She uttered a silent prayer under her breathe, she had shut her eyes and was begging God to let her Father into his heaven gates when a loud boisterous sound echoed around the walls of the large room.
This time Henriette’s eyes snapped open; she looked up and saw her Mother laughing loudly, she had not heard something funny, no one had said anything. Henriette was silent; there was not a way that her Mother could be laughing at the death of her beloved husband.
Henriette heard stifled laugher from all over the room, she was appalled.
“You laugh!” she shouted silencing the entire room. She stood up and pointed her finger accusingly around the room. “You mock the dead. My Father was trice nobler than any man who ever lived!” she exclaimed. She fell to her knees. “God will not forgive!” she cried, covering her hands with her face and weeping loudly. “He will not.”
“I do think the Lady has lost her mind,” Charlotte spoke up after the room stood in shock.
“Silence,” the Duchess ordered. “My daughter,” she said softly, she stood up and walked down the steps her chair was placed upon. She knelt gracefully at her daughter’s side. “My child, you Father is not dead.”
She looked up, deep into her Mother’s eyes. “I do not understand, my Father is not dead,”
“No daughter, he is riding here as we speak, she should arrive in the next few hours,”
Henriette thought for a moment. “Then my husband to be, he is dead.” She said quietly. “Richard, Duke of Gloucester, my fiancé, tell me he is not dead.”
The Duchess inhaled a sharp intake of breathe. “He is not dead,” she assured her daughter. “But to your Father and our King, he might as well be.”