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FIYAH! Part III
by claartje

It was a dreary Sunday afternoon when Anne Schuiten
sat in her favourite chair near the window. The chair
was large enough for her to curl up like a cat, with
her arms folded around her legs, her knees close to
her chest. She had placed her head on the armrest. The
chair wasn't new anymore, and the red seating worn. A
piece of dark blue cloth was draped over the chair to
conceal this and to have it better match the other
furniture in the room, but it had partially fallen
down, revealing the dark red of the chair. However, it
made a pretty picture with Anne in it wearing a purple
dress of which the bodice was a shade more pink than
the skirt. The chair had been Archie's favourite
whenever he had paid a visit to his uncle and aunt,
Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey, and she perfectly understood
why. It was very comfortable and had something of a
mother's embrace. Very soothing when one';s head was
weary.

She looked up to see through the window. It was dark
outside, but the curtains were still open. The room
was lit only by the burning fire and two or three
candles placed near where she sat. She had wanted it
that way. It was enough to see and to be seen and
somehow it suited her present mood perfectly. "Still
no sign of themÖ" She whispered the words. The sigh
that followed was much more audible.

The door at the other side of the room opened and Mrs.
Kennedy walked in. "They'll come, my dear it won't be
long now, I am sure of it." she said, moving to the
window. There she stopped and instead of looking
outside to see if they were really almost near, she
seated herself next to Anne.

Anne wanted to say something, but could not find the
right words. Speech was unnecessary. Her emotions
could be clearly read from the look on her face.
Concern, anxiety, fear. Fear that Archie would not
recover. "Is everything ready?" She finally asked.

"Yes my dear, and you did all you could for the
preparation of his home coming" was Mrs. Kennedy's
reply. "Who could have thought he'd be here so soon
again. And I think he will go back to sea once he is
his old self again, if he ever will be his old self
again. One would almost wish it would take him a long
time to recover."

Another hour passed before they heard the sound of
carriage wheels on the driveway. Anne rushed from her
seat and raced down the stairs to be the first to see
him. Jackson, the Humphrey's butler, had already
opened the door, and helped Horatio to carry Archie
inside the house. Anne met them halfway and showed
them where to take Archie.

Once in Archie's room, she was the first to speak
after Jackson had left.. "How is he? Are you tired?
You must be. We have made you up a bed so you can
stay the night. We cannot let you return right away in
this weather. Besides you look like sleep is the one
thing you need most, next to a good meal."

Her waterfall of questions and words quite overtook
Horatio, but he recovered and said. "Archie is not
much worse than when we left. Travelling exhausted him
very much, more than expected. Me too actually. But
now that he's under your care he will improve." He
looked at hisfriend. "He has slept for the last two
hours, a fairly calm sleep. We better leave him like
this, rest will do him good."

They went down the stairs to the library, where sat
the Humphreys and Mrs. Kennedy in front of the roaring
fire. Mrs. Humphrey looked up from her book but stayed
silent.

"How is he?" Mrs. Kennedy asked Horatio as she put
down her needlework on her lap.

"Asleep." was his answer.

Mr. Humphrey folded up the newspaper he had been
reading, stood and introduced himself. "I am Alistair
Humphrey. Mr. Kennedy is my nephew. I must thank you
for all you have done for him thus far, MrÖ?"

"Hornblower, Sir, Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower of His
Majesty's Ship Indefatigable.

Later that night Horatio lay in bed and thought back
on the evening. He had never talked so much in his
entire life. He had to tell them every detail. When
Archie first showed symptoms, what had been doing at
that moment, how the ague had weakened Archie more and
more,what had made Captain Pellew decide it was best
to have him home. Then how they had travelled, the
condition of the roads, everything. He was relieved to
postpone his return journey to the next morning.
Travelling with an ailing person hadn't been pleasant,
although he was glad he had had the opportunity to
help his friend. Finally he fell asleep.
***

30 September 1798, Knightley Hill.

Dear diary,
I have so much to tell you, that it is best to start
writing now, before I fall asleep. It is very late and
it is finally quiet in and around the house.

The big, and of course for me the most importand news
is that Archie has arived. He is finally here! He has
only been away for a month, but waiting for him after
we had heard the news of his illness seemed a longer
time than the weeks he had already been away. I have
not yet seen much of him, for although I showed Mr.
Hornblower and Jackson where to take him, I only could
see a glimpse of him. And, diary, as you well know, a
glimpse simply isn't enough! Mrs. Kennedy is with him
now, and soon I wil join her and change guard with
her. Then he and I will be together, even when he's
sleeping and I will have to stay awake.

Diary, I would not have started with the most
important news if there had not been more. And there
was. I just wrote down that Mr. Hornblower came with
him. The good man has accompanied him from his leaving
the ship, to his arriving here. Of course I appreciate
that very much. And am grateful that Archie has a good
friend in Mr. Hornblower. But the thing is, Diary, it
appeared to be that his behaviour towards me had
changed. It was somehow different from how he was in
London. It could have been all my imagination, and I
really would like to believe it was, if only he had
not been so persistent in doing so.

Perhaps, and most likely, it was all my own doing. You
know diary, he seemed so lost, his friend being ill,
that I tried to comfort him a bit. I did not cheer him
up, no, I am far from being cheered up myself. The
circumstances do not allow it. But I tried to make him
see that Archie wa not his only friend. Perhaps I was
too kind, and have spent more time with him than I
should have on this evening. Maybe I sat too close by
him. Maybe I shouldn't have talked so much. In London
I did not talk much, especially not to him, but tha
is also because I did not know the language very well.

I have thought about all these things earlier tonight,
but at that moment, I did not think of the possible
consequences. In a way it is a good thing he leaves
tomorrow. That way I can devote my attention entirely
to Archie. He's the one who needs it most. I don't
like this situation at all, Diary.

I better go see how Mrs. Kennedy is doing, and how the
patient is.
Love, Anne.
***

Darkness surrounded Archie when he woke up. The
curtains were closed, and he found himself lying in a
bed. A bedÖ not the carriage that made him tumble
every which way in his sleep. His eyes grew more
accustomed to the darkness; he saw someone sitting in
a chair near the bed on his left.

"Horatio?" he asked in a soft whisper "where am I?" He
did not know if he really was awake, or dreaming
still. But if this was a dream, it was far better that
the ones he had had lately. This time he was in a bed,
a real bed, and his thoughts did not take him back to
his doomed life in prison. He tried to sit up to see
more, but the room was too dark.

"HushÖsleep some more. Do you care for some water?"
The words came from the figure in the chair. It was
not Horatio's voice but somehow it was familiar. It
was a woman's voice and he recognized it. "Anne, is
that you?"

"Yes, it is me. How do you feel?" She said while she
lit a candle.

"I feel alright, I thinkÖ Given the circumstancesÖ
Anne, is it really you?" he asked, moving once more to
have a better view of the candle-glow lighting up her
face.

"Yes, it is me. Here is some water." She handed him a
cup.

"What time is it?" he asked. He could see her now, and
she looked beautiful as ever. The candle gave enough
light for him to see where he was. He knew this room.
It was his own bed at his uncle's house. His own
room. He could see it because he saw their reflection
in the mirror, which hung on the wall opposite from
where the head of his bed touched the wall. He could
see Anne turn her head to the mirror also, and somehow
she managed to look him straight in the eye.

"The clock just struck a quarter past three in the
morning. Have you slept well?" Her statement showed
tense concern. "You moved around a lot at first. Later
you seemed more at ease. Were you?"

"I think I had a bad dream. And of course I had to get
used to the bed. After that carriage ride, this is
heaven." He opened his mouth widely and quickly
covered it with his right hand, hoping Anne hadn't
seen him yawn.

"Your friend Mr. Hornblower did all he could for you.
He has tried to make it as comfortable as possible for
you. It took him more effort and pain than he wants to
admit."

"That sounds like Horatio. Has he left?"

"He's still here. He will leave in in the morning.
He's asleep, and that is exactly what you need most
now. Don't think I did not see you yawn."

"I want to talk. There is so much to say."

"Tomorrow. Now be good and sleep. It's for your own
good."

He tried, closing his eyes and thinking pleasant
thoughts. He was home. Anne was here. It was still a
dream. It had to be. But then, why did the dream not
continue? Or was he afraid ofÖ. No, he wasn't. He had
decided that he wasn't afraid any more years ago. No
Spanish prison or Jack Simpson could catch him nowÖ he
was finally safe. And finally asleep.
***

"How is he, my dear?" Mrs. Kennedy asked Anne as she
walked into Archie's room,

"You look tired. Let me take over so you can get some
well deserved rest. You have already watched him the
greater part of the night. It is half past six now,
almost. You need to get to your bed, young lady." She
took a chair and sat herself at the other side of the
bed.

"Oh, but I am not tired..." she said, forcing herself
not to yawn. It had been an exhausting night. At first
Archie slept well. Then he started to move around. He
shook and opened his mouth as if he was screaming, but
he made no sound. When he had calmed down his sleep
had been light, and so when she had moved slightly to
a more comfortable position he had woken up. After
their talk it had seemed as if he was done with the
demons of sleep at least for that night. He was as
quiet as a baby, giving her the opportunity to take a
cat nap.

"Anne dear, I can tell that you are tired. Trust me,
let me watch over him and get yourself to bed. We
cannot have another patient! Please don't tire
yourself when you don't have to."

"I suppose I should go to my room. Will you tell me
when he wakes up?" This time she could not surpress
her yawn. "You are right. I am tired. I had better
go."

She stood up and walked through the doorway. She
softly closed the door behind her. In the corridor she
met Horatio.

"Miss Schuiten? I was on my way to say goodbye. And of
course to ask you how the patient is doing." He
studied her. He wondered what this girl's life would
have been if she had never met Archie.

"He... he is fine, I don't think his condition has
worsened overnight but he had a nightmare. He is still
asleep. At least he was when I just left the room. How
was your night's rest?"

"I have slept very well, thank you." He paused. He so
badly wanted to touch her face and wipe the string of
hair that had escaped from the braid behind her ear.
Instead he said "Excuse me for saying so, miss, but
shouldn't you get some sleep you look as pale as
Archie." With a last goodbye he nodded his head and
turned around to walk down the stairs. It was as if
the number of stairs to descend had increased now he
had to leave the house and say goodbye. Leave, and go
on his way to the Indefatigable. He opened the door
and looked over his shoulder one last time. She still
stood there, her hands on the banisters looking at the
point where he stood. Looking at him. Motionless. Just
before he closed the door he heard her wish him a safe
journey. He did not look back another time. He
understood too well why Archie loved this girl. It was
as if he could not help himself. And Horatio had no
business dividing them by falling in love with her
himself. Telling that to himself he stepped into the
carriage and told the coachman to drive on.
***

A knock rapped on Anne's bedroom door.

"May I come in? Archie is finally awake" It was Mrs.
Kennedy.

"Please, do come in. How is he? Take a chair." She
gestured toward one.

"He woke up about an hour ago. He was even a bit
hungry. He is eating his breakfast, and I snuck out to
bring you the news. And like a good boy he has taken
his extract of cinchona powder. I pray it will help
him. He seems to be in good spirits after last night,
and inquired after you. ...I confess I did not dare to
wake you up sooner since it seemed that last night had
been very long for you. Have you been able to catch up
on some lost sleep?"

"I am fine. Thank you for being so concerned." So
Archie was awake and had asked for her... "I think I
better go see him now. Thank you so much for telling
me." She got up and Mrs. Kennedy left the room. She
washed and then chose a yellow dress to wear. She put
it on. One quick glance in the mirror told her that it
was a good choice, but that she still needed to do
something with her hair. It was a mess, since she had
forgotten to take out the braid. Her hair! What should
she do with her hair? How had Archie liked it best?
She decided to put it up. A last look in the mirror
and she then hurried through the corridor to her love.
She found the door ajar and she looked in.

"Ah, there you are" His words were spoken softly, but
excitement tinged his voice. Had he missed her?
"Anne... you look beautiful."

She raised an eyebrow. "Mr. Kennedy you are more
seriously ill than expected. That is not something a
gentleman would say to a simple girl like myself." Her
eyes laughed, but she tried to keep her statement
casual. "How do you feel? Tired? Headache? How's your
temperature?" She asked, while placing her hand on his
forehead to check. She felt a twinkling run through
her fingertips when she touched him. She held her hand
in that place a little longer than necessary but
Archie did not seem to mind. Instead he leaned into
her touch and it even looked like he was sorry when
she removed her hand.

"I feel better than yesterday. Much better. But,
please tell me.... how ill am I?"

"You have caught ague. How, I don't know, but to get
well can take a long time. And I mean to get you well.
Archie, promise me you will recover."

"If I could promise such a thing I would, dear." He
said with a grave statement. "But once recovered I
will have to go back to the Indy, you know that." He
stared at her intently. In a more teasing tone of
voice he said "So, what are you going to do with me?
Cure me fast, and let me go, or let me suffer while I
recover slowly so you can have me here a little
longer? It's up to you...you are the 'nurse'."

"How dare you joke about your illness... I would like
to have you here very much. I'd follow you to the end
of the world to be sure you are alright. The navy will
have one of its finest officer's back soon, if I can
help it. Now, be good and get well." She studied him.
Pain to see him in this condition showed in her eyes.
"If there was but something I could do..." she sighed.

He could almost read her mind when their eyes met. He
knew she didn't want him to go, or be parted from him.
Talking about recovery and what he would do when he
was well seemed to help him. His mind started to
wander. From far away he heard Anne say something like
'you have suffered enough already'. It alarmed him.
Did she know? How? And how could he tell her of it
himself.... how he still had trouble sleeping because
of his time spent in the Spanish prison, and other
things?

"Archie!"

"HUH? Hmm, what?"

"Are you alright? You look like you have seen a
ghost!"

"Er...I am sorry. My head aches a bit. I did not pay
attention to what you just said. I am tired." He knew
it was not the nicest way to say she had to leave him
alone. Somewhere he knew he did not want her to go.

"I should leave you now."

"Yes, you should spend the day in a useful way,
instead of staying here with me." He tried to look
disinterested.

"You don't mean that." She said. "First of all, don't
think yourself to be unimportant. I think you are.
Important I mean. I hope that means something to you.
Second of all, you don't want me to go even when you
say you do. I'd rather stay here, if that is alright
with you."
***

He could see the light shine through the closed
curtains. Beside him sat Anne, just like he had found
her almost every morning since his return three weeks
ago. "Good morning dear." He said.

"Good morning love, have you slept well?"

"Tolerably well, thank you."

"A letter from Horatio arrived this morning. Do you
want to read it, or shall I read it to you?"

"I'd like to read it myself please. But after
breakfast. What have you for me today?" He groaned
miserably. "No more oatmeal... PLEASE!" He begged her,
teasing.

"You must eat. Eat, stay strong."

"Funny that you use the same words Horatio once used
while trying to feed me the same gruel. He
succeeded...." He challenged her.

"And I will not? Succeed I mean... you are growing
stronger each day, so please continue doing that and
eat." She had grown a bit nervous because of his
words. "He succeeded" She bit her lip and bowed her
head so he would not see her blush.

"If only I could go outside. I have been trapped
inside this house for weeks I haven't left this room,
except for... well, you know.... the call of nature."
He carried on the conversation at the same point where
she had dropped it. He was pleased to see her blush.
His little plan was working. To his reasoning she
would not have blushed if she did not regard him. She
was sincere. Not that he had doubted it, he had only
given it a little test. He brushed a lost strand of
his fine fair hair back from his eyes, to where it
belonged.

"You must have a little more patience. It isn't wise
to go out of the house and catch a cold. Remember you
are still under a doctor's care. Do you really feel
trapped?" She fumbled with her skirt and tried to
appear untouched by his sudden different behaviour.

"In a way. I have spent the last eight years on ships
since I first set foot aboard one ten years ago. And
two years somewhere else... Oh, Anne, to feel the wind
blow in your face, to see the waves curl, to feel the
deck move underneath you or to climb the riggin.
Horatio does not particularly like that, but that is
because he is afraid of heights." He laughed now. "To
see other places, watch the stars at night. There is
no better place to watch the stars than at sea. To
taste the salt of the air... There is so much to see,
and do on board a ship. It fascinates me immensely. I
have not seen much, and I really would like to see
more. Of course there are less 'romantic' facts to
tell of the life at sea. For instance the food, the
smell of unwashed people, the danger one has to face
in battle, we are at war with France after all, and
more things that are not very pleasant. I miss my life
there every time I am home." This confession had
brought him back from playful to more serious.

"Really? I had no idea that you felt that way of being
home."

"How could you? I never speak of it." he said. He
turned his face towards hers. "Poor Anne, I have not
yet had the courage to tell you the things about me
that give me pain and of which I don't know I will
ever be able to talk of." He had wanted to say it, but
he didn't. Instead he took the bowl of oatmeal in his
hands and started to eat.
***

Anne made her way to the living room. She knew she
would find Mrs. Kennedy there at this time of day. She
needed to talk to her about Archie. She pushed the
door handle down, opened the door and walked in. Mrs.
Kennedy greeted her with a "Good morning dear. How is
he now? Improving each day, isn't he?"

"Yes he is, Mrs. Kennedy, but his recovery is going
too slowly for him. If it was up to him he would have
been back aboard the Indy long ago."

"I know what you mean. He has been like that for a few
years now. It is almost like his heart stays at sea
every time he has to be on dry land. Especially after
his years in Spain." Mrs. Kennedy stopped for a
moment. "I am sorry; I should not have brought that
up. In time I hope he will tell you himself. Until
then you'd better let it rest."

"Spain.... Oh, but, Mrs. Kennedy, it pains me so much
to see him long for his other life in which he thinks
he can mean more to the world."

"Anne, I hope this will help you a little. Once he is
back at sea he will wish you were there with him, or
that he hadn't left at all."

'Perhaps' She thought. Was it fair of her to have just
stepped into his life like she had done? Maybe she had
better leave, before things developed too much. Or was
it already too late? She had wanted to talk about
Archie with Mrs. Kennedy and she had. But now Mrs.
Kennedy had given her information other than she had
asked for. And it left her rather confused. Spain...
what business could he have had in Spain?

"Dearie, is there something wrong? You have turned
very pale. You are not getting ill yourself, are you
now? Come, eat your breakfast and get back to your
bed."
***

In his room, Archie lay awake. After having eaten his
breakfast he had slept a little more. At least he had
tried, for his mothers' sake. She was convinced sleep
was one of the best healers. But he could not. 'Lets
face it Arch, you're awake' he said to himself. He
stretched his arm to reach for Horatio's letter on the
bedside cabinet. It was dated more than a week ago. He
started reading.

Archie, my good friend,

I feel that I first must ask you how you are. I really
would like to believe that you are getting better. If
you are indeed a great deal improved I must 'warn' you
that it will take months before you will be able to
join us back aboard the Indy. For two reasons, the
first is that recovering from what you have usually
takes months, and even if you are feeling so much
better I can not allow you to take up your duties as a
Lieutenant before the house doctor tells you so.
Archie, I know your strength, and I tell you, you have
surprised many people by being the way you are and
overcoming the things you have had to overcome.
Therefore I have no doubts that you will successfully
fight this. The second is that the new mission we are
on when you receive this letter takes us to the
Mediterranean, and as for now there is no speaking of
a return any time soon, meaning within three months.

If you continue reading this letter, the contents must
hurt you, I am sure, perhaps it means losing a good,
if not my best friend by doing so. I sincerely hope
not. And if you just now wonder why I am suddenly so
open, it is because I am in love. I have fallen in
love with the most special girl there ever was. And
you are the only one I can tell this to. You are also
the only one I should not tell this to because the
girl I lost my heart to is Anne. Your Anne. Why in the
world I fell for her God only knows. Don't think I
want to take her away from you, I have no right to and
forgive me for saying this, you have planned your
illness well.

You get to spend time with her, being at home. And
Archie, for your own good, get used to being at home.

At this point the grimace that had appeared on
Archie's face changed from angry to sad. He sighed.
'Get used to being at home.' How could he when his
home had been every where? Not at the big mansion
house where he had grown up, not in London, except
maybe Drury lane with its theatres... And not the
Wesley Hall. He who was the official owner of that
grand country house buthad not been able to call it
his home. He could not stand to live there. Instead he
had chosen to be at sea. Or at places his mother
called home whenever he visited her. How could Horatio
advise such a thing, he thought. Or was this advice
meant to make him doubt, and decide to quit the navy
and actually 'be' Lord Wesley so he and Horatio could
still look each other in the eyes. But Horatio would
never have to see Anne again. Was it meant to protect
Horatio? Would there be a way to have Anne and the
navy? She had said she would follow him to the end of
the world. What would people say? "Oh, let them all be
bloody hanged!" he shouted and he continued reading.

......after all, you want to build a life with Anne
and therefore you will have to provide her a living,
somewhere. Your earnings now won't be enough to
support her. When you accept the title 'Lord Wesley'
her and your life will become a lot easier. Seven
thousand a year Archie! Can you deny her that?

My friend, this is all, my concerns and 'advice' you
have now read. I pray I shall soon be able to think of
Anne as a sister. Please do not think wrong of me; you
know I had to tell you this. The consequence would
else have been that one of us or we both would have
been lying to each other for the rest of our lives.
You, Archie have always been honest with me, and I ask
you to forgive me.

My friend, enough has been said, or written by me.
This letter is already longer than expected. Remember
you are more than you allow yourself to be, or think
yourself to be. Keep faith and stay strong.

Lt H Hornblower.

Archie put the letter down. His thoughts confused him.
Horatio confused him. He was angry with him, very
angry, and at the same time admired him for having
dared to confront them both. He also read that Horatio
valued their friendship too much to give it up.
Horatio considered him to be a valued friend. Could he
break that friendship? Would he, if Anne chose Horatio
in his stead? 'Yes I would', he thought. And no doubt
Horatio would if the situation had been the other way
around.

"Crap" he said. All this thinking had given his
already sore head a headache. He looked at the clock.
It was already dark outside, so it was no surprise
that it was only a quarter past seven. It would soon
be 'feeding time'. He had better try to rest some more
to calm his thoughts and make his headache go away.
***

"How is he now, doctor?" Mrs. Kennedy asked.

"It could be worse." Another week had gone by, and Dr.
Simpson had been. He had cared for young Mr. Kennedy
since the lieutenant had come to stay at the
Humphreys'. The doctor had scheduled to come tomorrow,
but at night Mr. Kennedy's fever rose. And that when
his health had gone so far already in the right
direction. 'One tough young man' Doctor Simpson
thought. He seemed to have a great deal of fighting
spirit, which had contributed to his speedy recovery.
So what then had made him give up?

"Mrs. Kennedy, may I ask you some questions concerning
your son?" he gently asked, gesturing to the door
leading to the hallway, where the patient could not
hear them, were he to wake up unexpectedly from his
sleep.

"But of course." She stepped into the corridor. Fear
and worry fought on her face. "Is he really... doctor,
what is wrong with my boy?"

"No... no, don't fill your head with too many worries
Mrs. Kennedy. Your son will be all right in time. If
only..."

"'If only' what, doctor?" She interrupted him.

"Well... I don't know how to say or ask this really,
but have you any idea what may have caused his fit and
his high temperature?"

"I am afraid I must tell you that I haven't." She
said, insecure of her own feelings. They were
troubling her a great deal since Archie had come home,
and he continued to have trouble sleeping.

"Who was keeping watch over him last night? Dr.
Simpson continued questioning, trying to find a cause
to the fit.

"Anne was. No, she wasn't. You see, she has watched
him every night except last night. Yesterday she left
the house to stay with a friend, Miss Trupple and some
other young people. She did not want to leave, but my
sister and I pushed her to go. She hadn't been outside
the house for weeks. We thought it might be good for
her to see some other faces."

"I see. You send her away, and Mr. Kennedy found
someone else at his bedside that could have disturbed
him." His fingers touched his forehead. He was
thinking of the possibility of an actual disturbance
to his patient's sleep.

"Is something like that really possible?" She looked
at him in wonder.

"Everything is possible. Do you know what usually
caused his fits?"

"Again I must disappoint you. He never wanted to speak
of what caused them. And I never dared to ask since it
pained me to make him think of something that would
hurt him. But what are we to do now?" Her motherly
concern ruled her thoughts, and she started to pace in
the hall nervously, in search of something she could
do.

"Have someone watch him, and have someone return that
girl to him for his sake." Dr. Simpson said,
determined to cure his patient, however strange the
treatment or the means to reach that goal. "And if he
gets worse inform me of it instantly."

"Very well. Thank you doctor."Mrs. Kennedy sighed in
relief.

"Mrs. Kennedy?"

"Yes, doctor?" She looked up at the tall man and
waited for him to continue his speech.

"Your son can endure a lot. Has endured more than some
people can even imagine. He can overcome this. He has
plenty of fight left in him. Only he has to find a
reason to regain it. Get that reason back to the
house." He turned around and wished his nephew had
been more a man, like this young man. Although named
after him, John Simpson, he had never lived up to his
expectations. When he had joined the navy he had gone
from bad to worse and had died at the age of
twenty-eight. And that also had been his own doing in
a way... he had fought a duel, and lost. He sincerely
wished this chap would survive that age.
***

"No, ningn no me golpea!"

She heard him scream, but what did his words mean? And
where had she heard that language before?

"Por Favor, le pido, no!" He was sobbing now, and in
great pain over something and he was struggling hard.

She wished she could take the nightmare away. His
nightmares made everything worse. "Hush. I am here,
your Anne is here. I will stay here and take good care
of you."

"Aaaaaargh!"

Such a terrible scream. She took his hand in her
smaller one and rubbed it against her cheek. "Please
Archie... calm, be calm now. I am here...." Tears fell
from her eyes onto his hand. She did not notice. "I
will not go anywhere, I promise. I will stay here, but
please, get better," she whispered. He seemed to relax
a bit. She stopped rubbing and placed his hand back on
the bed sheet. She took a handkerchief, dipped it in a
water bowl, wrung it out and placed it gently on his
forehead, hoping it would bring down the fever. It
looked like he was fast asleep again. She leaned back
in her chair and closed her eyes.
***

The next morning the sun was shining brightly. A
perfect winter sun. Its rays shone through the window
and tickled those who were still sleeping on their
faces. Archie woke up, blinked and opened his eyes.

"Hush..... She is still asleep..." Mrs. Kennedy spoke.
She stood with her back to the window, and looked at
them both. "It's time for your medicine."

"Mother, what are you doing up so early?"

"Early?" she asked "But dear, it's already half past
ten. I'd thought I'd take a look. You must have been a
very bad patient to get her so tired. She's still
asleep." Mrs. Kennedy pointed at Anne.

"Anne is still....?" he looked at Anne, whose head
rested on her shoulder, her hair falling loose over
her other shoulder and the back of the chair, and with
traces of tears still on her face. "She has cried....
was I that bad?"

"Maybe. We'll hear it when she wakes up. Here,
swallow." She gave him the cup for him to drink his
dissolved medicine.

"Yuck, that still tastes bad! Are you sure something
like that contributes to my healthiness?"

"You know it does. Stop complaining and take the spoon
with honey to take away the bad taste. So how do you
feel today? Any sign of a bad sleep?"

"No, Mother, not at all. Not really. Well,
actually..." For a moment he paused. Should he tell
her he'd dreamt he was back in prison?" Mother, I have
had a bad dream, but what it was about I really can't
remember it. I think I slept better afterwards. How is
my temperature?"

She checked. "I dare say it is lower than yesterday.
And you don't look so feverish anymore. Perhaps you
are over the worst. Do you want me to call for the
doctor to be sure?" He really looked better, she
thought. He no longer had that drowsy look in his
eyes. Still there was little colour in his face. "It's
time for your bath. Let me help you up. Jackson will
help you walk to the tub."

"Shouldn't we send for Jackson first to carry her to
her room? With a bit of luck she won't wake up, and in
my opinion a bed is always more comfortable than a
chair."

"An excellent idea! But then it is your turn, my boy.
You are not going to escape your bath." She pointed
her finger at him to show him that she meant what she
said.

"Like I want to...this bed has made me all sticky and
sweaty and I want to get out. Out of the bed and out
of the house. I mean, I have spent how long here now?
Four weeks?" He sat up straight in his bed, ready to
get out.

"That should be close enough. October is almost at its
end."

"A month? That is too long..." He sighed, fell back on
the pillows and gave a stricken look.

"I think it will be alright for you to sit in the
library today, and if it does not tire you too much,
perhaps even dine with us tonight." She gently said.

"I am not a child anymore! I want to go outside! And I
will stay up late!" He almost shouted the words had it
not been for Anne's presence. But he had spoken with
force.

She looked at him and laughed. "Right now you ARE
acting like a child. You should hear yourself. 'I will
stay up late!' Like I said; only when you are not too
tired. Now get yourself ready for your bath."

A knock on the door. "You rang m'lady?"

"Yes Jackson. Will you help me get Anne to her room,
and then help Mr.Kennedy to his bath?"
***
"Thank you Jackson." They had laid Anne on the bed,
and Mrs.Kennedy carefully took off her shoes and socks
and covered her with the bed sheet. "Sleep just a bit
longer, my dear." She softly said as she closed the
door behind her.
***

"Hmmmm" Anne stretched her arms and yawned sleepily.
She tried to doze off again, but the attempt was in
vain. She yawned again, then grew more aware of her
surroundings. Something unusual kept her from dozing
off. It felt like someone was watching. In her
bedroom! Bedroom? The last thing she remembered she
was sitting in that uncomfortable chair watching over
Archie. What was she doing in her bed?

"So you are finally awake then? You took your time...
it is a quarter to two almost!"

She turned around and sat up straight. "Archie! What
are you doing here! You can't, it is improper!" She
noticed him sitting next to her bed, fully dressed,
his hair tied back. Smiling. "Get that grin off your
face, it's not funny. I mean it. How long have you
been here?" She was startled from her sleep. Slight
irritation sounded through her voice.

"Not that long. Two hours at most.... By the way, what
is it called when you watch over me, hmm?"

"You know I nurse you. Don't even start. But for those
two hours you just sat here? Do they know you are up
and out of bed?" She wondered what he had been doing.
Looking over her? For what? She wasn't the one who was
ill.

"Yes, I sat here and yes, they do know. Do you feel
all right? I mean, you are not getting ill because I
was such a bad patient, are you? I will never forgive
myself if you are."

"I don't think you are really concerned about me, for
you still have that grin on your face." She sulked a
little but also thought it very attentive of him to
show his concern for her.

As she spoke the smile immediately disappeared and his
face became earnest. "Is this more to your liking? I
did not mean to appear amused at you."

"Much better. Say, I'm hungry."

She saw him raise an eyebrow, and flash a huge smile.
"What kind of reply is that; to say you are hungry. We
were not discussing that."

"Now we are. Where's the oatmeal?" She knew she was
acting silly. But she had been serious too long. And
to see him sitting there like she had done for so many
nights already.

"I'll call, no, better yet, we will go have something
to eat together. I skipped a meal because of you, you
know." He said.

"I'll be ready in half an hour. You better first go
downstairs to tell we want breakfast. Perhaps we can
play chess later today. It has been quit a while since
we've done that."

He did not move. He gazed at her. "Do you know you are
very beautiful? I bet you can sing very well too."

"What have one's looks to do with the capability to
sing? You are certainly not totally your old self,
this conversation has not made any sense thus far. Now
go!" She spoke the last two words with more force than
intended.

"What would you like to eat?" it seemed to her he had
not at all paid attention to her authoritative tone.
"Besides, you started it..."

"I told you, oatmeal. And milk please. And you did."

"Did what?"

"Start. This. You know... please go? I need to get
dressed."

"I'll see you in half an hour." He said, left his
chair and walked out of the room.

It was only twenty minutes later when a knock sounded
on her bedroom door. "Who's there?" She asked.

"Your one and only..." The voice was enough to know
who it was but his words were rather oddly chosen to
her.

"It better not be you ,Mr. Kennedy. My hair is not
done yet." She answered him through the closed door.

"Let me do that for you. Can I come in?" He offered,
eager to be of some use for a change.

"No! You can't. It's not proper...-"

"...Said the girl who climbed on board a ship full of
men who hadn't seen a woman in months, and has spend
numerous nights keeping a man company." He knew he
should not have said it, but sooner or later she would
have met with this side of him that would not accept
disobedience, that would not be given no for an
answer.

"If you choose to use those arguments... I guess you
can come in now." She opened the door for him and he
walked in. She tried to look very angry. But when he
met her gaze she could not keep her scowl.

"My, you look.... Why are you all dressed up like
that?"

"It is a special day. Now let me do my hair." She
turned around and walked towards the dressing table.

"Let me do that." He took the hairbrush from her hand
and told her to sit down. Gently he pulled the brush
through her hair. "How's that?"

"Mmmm, nice. I can not remember anyone ever brushing
my hair for me." She said. "My mother died when I was
very young so I don't remember her very well, and my
nanny taught me to brush my hair so she did not have
to do that. She left when she married when I was eight
years old. After that it was just me and my father and
he never brushed my hair either.

"I think you should wear it loose. It is so long and
pretty. Thick and dark, almost black. Aren't the Dutch
usually fair or brown?"

"They are. My whole family on my father's side is. But
I look more like my mother. Or so they say, I have her
mouth, nose, hair and shape of eyes. But the colour of
my eyes is my father's. My mother was Spanish, you
know."

"So you are half-Spanish?" It was suddenly hard to
pronounce anything normally. Over her head he checked
in the mirror if his face showed the discomfort he
felt. "Spanish..." he whispered and had stopped
brushing. He hadn't noticed. Anne had.

"Is there something wrong?" She asked him, uneasy.

"No, there is nothing. I just let my mind wander. I am
sorry." The dream he had dreamt last night had
returned. He wanted not to think of it. He lifted his
arm to continue brushing.

"Please, stop brushing. Please, stop." She stood up
and turned around. "Please, tell me what is wrong..."

Her face was too close. Her mouth was too close. He
sighed. "Anne, I can't, not now."

"Why not?" She tried to make eye contact but he had
closed his eyes and looked down. "Archie? You must
tell me.... will you tell me?"

When he finally opened his eyes they were met by hers.
"Anne, kiss me." Three simple words, and she obeyed.
It was her turn now to close her eyes. She felt his
face touching hers, and his mouth touching hers.
Softly she parted her lips.

Another knock rapped loudly on the door.

"Oh, bloody hell!" Anne giggled, blushing.

"Archie? What are you doing IN there?" It was Mrs.
Kennedy.

"I was..." what was he doing there? "Ehm ...I was
helping Anne with..." with what? "With the window. She
wanted it open, but it is a bit stuck. She asked me to
help..." He knew it was a lousy excuse, and wished
he'd come up with a better one. Fact was that he had
never been good at inventing excuses or even telling a
simple lie. His one big secret he had kept. Thus far.

"I was just going to tell you that the table is set.
And never let me hear you say that word again, young
man! Not to speak of what I think you were doing in
there. I expect to see you both downstairs in two
minutes."

"Anne, can you please stop giggling?" Archie asked,
irritated by her giggling in such an uncomfortable
situation.

"I am afraid I can't. The nerves, you see.... How did
she know?" She smiled.

"She's me mum. She knows things. Besides, she has
probably been looking through the keyhole for quite a
while. She wants to know what her protÈgÈe is up to,
and how to 'protect' her."

"Protect me from what? You? Phuh. But there is no more
time to do my hair now. I'll just have to braid it. It
should be alright that way." She said, in a hurry
because of what Mrs. Kennedy said.

"Tell me when you are ready. I will wait outside." And
for the second time within an hour he left the room.

She took the brush, divided her hair in three strands,
braided them together and wound the braid around her
head. With a last few pins she made sure it would
hold. At least for a while. A few minutes later, Anne
emerged from her room.. "Here I am. How do I look?"

"Simply fabulous. My lady, would you accept my arm?"
he complimented her, and held out his arm.

"With pleasure, my dear sir." She placed her hand on
his arm, and together they descended the stairs.
***

Amazing what a difference a week made. Dr. Simpson had
never seen anything like it. "Mr. Kennedy, I have some
very good news for you. If you continue to improve
your health at this speed, I'll declare you cured ten
days from now. You have my word on it. Of course it is
advisable to keep calm for a few days more. I m not
making a joke."

"I know doctor, it is not your style. Ten days you
said? And when will I be able to go back to the
Indefatigable? Will that take longer?"

"Going back to the Indefatigable... a month at least."
Was it really the Indefatigable he said? The
coincidence was striking. "Is Sir Edward Pellew
captain of the Indefatigable?"

"Yes, he is. Have you heard of him?"

"I have heard of him, Mr. Kennedy. A man with a heart
for justice. Well, Mr. Kennedy, I'll be back in a week
and I expect to see you in good health. Good day." He
closed his instrument case and left.

"Good day to you too, sir."
***

The Indefatigable.... he had not thought of her for
quite a while. Instead he had been thinking of
Horatio's advice over and over. To accept title and
estate and live there with Anne. Yet at the same time
it seemed wrong. To give up his life in the navy.
Would it mean he'd have to give up his friendship with
Horatio? No. Horatio had already climbed the ranks
faster than he had. It was clear whose natural ability
was greater. They would have been divided sooner or
later. It was impossible to always serve on the same
ship together. Archie knew for certain now he would at
least give it a try... try to be Lord Wesley. And who
knows? He might not have to give up the navy. He knew
that Anne would never let him do that, how much she
wanted him to be at home... and what would his mother
say? He once had told her he would not even consider
accepting. He could not live on land he had said. All
his mother had said was: "We'll see..."
***

"Mrs. Kennedy, where are we going?"

"My dear, I really cannot tell you. I don't know it
myself."

"Then Mr. Humphrey, surely you must know where we are
headed?"

"I have my orders not to tell you. But I think I know
where we are going, Yes. Dear, do not think of it.
Look outside, although every thing is now covered with
snow, think of what this all will look like when
spring comes. That always helps me to get my mind off
things."

"Archie, I know this is all your idea. Tell me, where
are we going?"

He said nothing. His only response was to flash his
grin. The four of them sat in a carriage that drove
them through one of the most beautiful landscapes in
England, although, as Mr. Humphrey had remarked, it
was totally covered with snow. Which was not
surprising, as it was close to the end of November.
Mrs. Humphrey had stayed at home. She would visit a
friend in the afternoon and had declared that 'they
would have a splendid time, with or without her coming
along'. Obviously she also knew where they were going.

"Are we there yet? Can someone please tell me where
'there' is anyway?"

"No Anne, it is a surprise. I will no tell you. And
yes it was my idea."

They sat quietly for a while, the carriage moving them
over the uneven road, all lost in their own thoughts,
or looking outside. The trees on both sides of the
road were covered with white frost. Past the trees
there were some magnificent views of the rolling
countryside.

"I believe we are almost there at last." As Archie
said this, the carriage turned into a driveway, and as
the trees cleared away they all could see it now. And
although Mrs. Kennedy had had her own thoughts to
where they were going, they were confirmed when he
said: "The destination for today: Wesley Hall."
***

Three heads turned to Archie. They were surprised to
find Wesley Hall the destination. They could not
believe they were there. They looked out of the
carriage windows and were amazed at the grand sight of
the building and it's surroundings. Mrs. Kennedy was
the first to speak. "Wesley Hall? My dear boy, what-"

"Mother, it is alright. I have informed the notary,
and the housekeeper. They know we are coming today."
He reassured her.

"But-" She did not know what to say. "Wesley Hall of
all places. I thought you hated it here!"

"No mother, I do not. I just did not have a reason to
like it here."

"And you have now?" Mr. Humphrey asked.

"I may have..." He said while looking at Anne. His
look was alluring and it showed only interest in her.
A blush overspread Anne's cheeks and she bowed her
head. She could say nothing.

Mrs. Kennedy and Mr. Humphrey shook their heads and
both decided not to bring the subject up before this
day was over. "As my wife would say;" Mr. Humphrey
spoke "'let's all get inside the house or we'll freeze
our ears off.' It is getting rather cold in the
carriage. We can get in, can't we Mr. Kennedy?"

"We can. The housekeeper has been informed of our
arrival. I have no doubt she has tea ready for us to
warm up a bit before we are led though the rooms."

"The same housekeeper still, Julia Baker?" Mrs.
Kennedy asked.

"No, I believe it is her daughter now, Penny." Anne
mumbled the words, not sure if Penny Baker was the
same as the housekeeper she'd overheard served Wesley
Hall. And though she had not spoken clearly the others
had heard it.

"Penny, you say? My dear, how would you know-" Mrs.
Kennedy looked at her "Anne, who told you this? Was it
during your stay at the Trupples that they told you of
Wesley Hall?"

"They told me a little bit. I can't remember how we
got on to the subject, but they told me that this
place had no owner, and that that was such a shame,
for it was said to be magnificent. And from what I
have seen now I quite agree with them. They also told
me that because the place was empty, it was very
strange to have a new housekeeper appointed, someone
by the name of Penny Baker, who was the daughter of
the former housekeeper. Is it true there has been no
owner since the death of the old Lord Wesley eight
years ago? Oh! And it was also mentioned that the new
heir was, strange enough, the youngest grandson, when
his elder brothers were still alive, and that he had
never wanted the place. That is all I was told. Is it
bad to have listened to local gossip like that?
Because if it is, I am very sorry." she said.

"That is quite a bit of the recent history of the
house actually. But let's inside first." Since they
were still in the carriage, Mr. Humphrey pressed them
yet another time to go inside the house.
***
From the entrance she had seen them coming, The first
visitors to the Hall since she had been the
housekeeper. And not just visitors. From the
information the notary had given her this party
consisted of Mr. Kennedy, the actual heir, his mother,
Mrs. Kennedy, who had been the eldest daughter of the
late Lord Wesley, Mr. Humphrey, brother in law to Mrs.
Kennedy, and a younger woman, an 'invited guest', as
the notary had described her.

"Come in, come in. There is a fire burning in the
room, let Jasper take your coats. The tea is ready.
Come, come enter and warm yourselves..." She did not
quite know how to behave. The first visitors! The
excitement! She almost forgot her manners.

"Jasper?" Mrs. Kennedy asked. "Not little Jasper
Atwood? Whose father was the gamekeeper?"

"The same, ma'am." He sort-of saluted when he spoke.
"My good ol' father still is the gamekeeper on the
grounds. I prefer to work indoors."

They sat near the fire. Their heads turned to see what
the place looked like and to see if anything had
changed. "It still is as I remembered. Nothing has
changed, but everything is cleaned. For our arrival I
expect. And it has been done recently. There still is
a bit of a musty smell. But not too bad." Mrs. Kennedy
noticed.

"Nothing has changed indeed." Archie said as he walked
to the salon table near the window. "Here it is..." In
one of the legs were some scratchings. "Arcie lovs
momy" He read and smiled. "I remember I took a knife
from the kitchen and scratched in the table. I must
have been six years old then. Grandfather was furious,
but apparently has never replaced the table."

Anne had been silent all the while they had been
inside, but now finally dared to speak out the
conclusions she had drawn. "You are acquainted with
this place? Archie, you are... Lord Wesley was your
grandfather? So that makes you... the next Lord
Wesley?"

"I knew you were smart and able to figure it out
yourself, love." Again that smile.

"I had rather you had informed me, before I might have
made a fool of myself. You... oh I can't even say it!
Crap!"

"You, Archie, stop teasing Anne in that way, and you
young lady, don't let me hear that word from you
again. Archie has a bad influence on your language.
Now, I think it is time to see the rest of the house.
And I myself would like to refresh my memory to see
that what I think it looked like still is true." Mrs.
Kennedy advised. "Miss Baker, would you please show us
around?"

Yes ma'am. If you all would follow me please."

They were shown the other living room. This on had
hardly ever been used, only when there had been lots
of guests at the house. "Daddy liked company, but had
always found it too crowded when there were more than
fifteen in a room and therefore those occasions had
been rare" Mrs. Kennedy explained. They were shown the
dining room, the library, full of books and pleasant
chairs. The windows faced south, and looked out over
the park; the drawing room, the grand staircase, the
smaller 'ebony' staircase which led them down to the
ballroom, another room that like the larger living
room had hardly been used after Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs.
Humphrey had married.

The office of the late Lord Wesley was the next room
they visited. " I have been here once or twice before"
Mrs Kennedy said, in a respectful whisper "and both
times I was in deep trouble...". Their tour continued
upstairs again by yet another staircase to the
numerous bedrooms and guest rooms. Those they gave
only a quick glance before marching on. The last room
on this floor was the portrait gallery-

"Oh dear me, look, I was just a little girl there"
Mrs. Kennedy said as they passed a painting of a nine
year old girl, with long fair hair in a riding outfit
on a small sorrel pony. "Brunhilde, my pony." They
walked past some other paintings. "And look here, it
is Mary!" This painting showed Mrs. Humphrey sitting
up straight in a garden chair, surrounded by beautiful
flowers, wearing a pretty old rose dress. "And here,
all my children. Daddy loved them all, his
grandchildren." The painting showed four boys and two
girls.

"That naughty looking one in the middle of the front
row must be you." Anne said to Archie.

"I am never naughty, nor have ever been..." with big
innocent eyes he looked to his left where she stood.
"but you are right. It is me. And that" pointing at
the boy on the left of the second row "is my eldest
brother William. He inherited daddy's estate, more
north in the country. He still lives there with his
wife and their son Alexis. On his left you see Anthony
and Samuel. As you can see they are twins. Samuel fell
out of a tree and broke his neck when he was seven,
and Anthony moved to Egypt. We haven't heard of him
since." He then pointed to the first row again. "On my
left you can see Emma, my older sister. She died of
pneumonia at the age of sixteen. You would have liked
her I think. And the one on my right side is my
younger sister Elizabeth of whom I have told you. She
died in the accident."

His tone of voice had been cool and easy when he had
spoken of the brothers and sister he had lost, but
there was something in his voice that showed that he
was not completely untouched, only that he had lost
them at an early age, most of them, before he had had
time to get to know them well, or get attached to
them. He had liked his two sisters best, and deeply
regretted their loss. Probably because they were more
of his age than his brothers' were.

They walked on. Down the rosewood staircase to the
gardens. There they met Jasper again.

"It does not look like anything now with all the snow.
But when spring comes it is a very beautiful sight. We
have kept the lawn very short, and over there is a
little park, and there..." he pointed in another
direction "...is the flower garden, and of course
there is more: meadows, another park, more gardens,
some very fair hunting grounds, and the stables of
course, but those can not be seen from where we stand
now." Jasper told them.

"Perhaps it is better to go back in, have another cup
of tea and head home again." Mrs. Kennedy suggested.
So they went inside once more.
***

"Well Anne, how did you like today's excursion?" Mrs.
Humphrey asked her 'niece'. "Isn't Wesley Hall a
beautiful place?"

"Oh, it is, Mrs. Humphrey, it is. Almost as beautiful
as this house, Knightley Hill."

"Come now dear, don't be modest. Don't be afraid to
offend us when you say that the Hall is the most
unique and handsome building you have ever seen.
Inside and outside... and the meadows, the gardens and
the park. But indeed, the heart of winter is not the
most suitable time to have a first visit."

"You have found me out, Mrs. Humphrey. It is exactly
like you have just said. But it is not 'alive'. The
rooms are still a bit chilly, if you understand my
words." Anne hesitated a little before she continued
"May I ask you why Archie is heir?"

"Of course you may! Lord Wesley, my father, may he
rest in peace, had no sons, only two daughters, Mrs.
Kennedy and me. First the estate was entitled to
Charlotte but she choose to marry Mr. Kennedy. And
although Mr. Kennedy was a noble, and a very agreeable
man, with excellent taste and manners, he was not the
match my father had intended for her. So he decided
Charlotte could not have Wesley Hall after his death.
He then wanted me to have it, but I refused. I had
just married Mr. Humphrey, and being a younger
daughter, had not really thought of ever owning it. I
then was happy with my decision, and I still am.
Anyway, because I refused he came up with his second
alternative. His youngest grandchild would inherit.
And in the case of no grandchildren, it would have
been put up for sale. Fortunately that has not
happened yet." She took a little time to breathe
before she resumed. "Mr. Humphrey and I soon after our
marriage were blessed with a daughter, but she did not
live long, nor did Charlotte's girls. But she had four
sons, and after Elizabeth's death, Archie being the
youngest, became heir. Heir to Wesley Hall, and an
income of seven thousand a year! That's quite a thing,
isn't it? Some people say my father was a bit
eccentric, and in a way he was.

"But why does Archie now want it, when he could have
had it years ago? Have you any idea why?"

"My dear, yes I have. Certain events that have
occurred lately have raised some suspicions with me,
and all I can say is that he finally is growing up.
Don't be mistaken. He knows responsibility, and is a
very capable officer. He usually acts like his age
would require. But now he might have found something
to complete it with. I think we will see him married
soon." Having said all that, which probably was more
than the elder lady should have said, she turned
around, wished Anne goodnight and left the room,
leaving Anne in a rather dazed state.
***

The next morning Archie 'accidentally' stumbled upon
Anne at the moment she left her room to go downstairs
and wish the family a good morning. "How are you
today? Are you quite rested after yesterday?" He asked
her.

"Very well, thank you. And you? How are you? Have you
breakfasted yet?"

"You were in my dreams..." He smiled. She blushed.
"That colour looks very becoming on you, has anyone
ever told you that?"

"Stop teasing me, Archie. Please... it is too early in
the day for that."

"It never is..." He whispered those words in her ear,
making every thing even worse and making her colour
grow deeper.

"Please, not now. I still need to have my breakfast.
I'd rather you were not so... you make me feel
uncomfortable when you are like that. Because I like
it, and that disturbs me."

"So you like me? That is good news. But all right.
Let's eat something first." He gallantly offered her
his arm and they descended the stairs and walked to
the breakfast room. He helped her sit. then sat across
the table from her. They were the only ones in the
room, for the other family members had had an early
breakfast

"Actually Anne, I was about to ask you something. I
happened to overhear your conversation with my aunt
last night, and found out you were talking about
Wesley Hall. What do you think of it?" his voice was
softer as he leaned over the table to reach for her
hand "do you think you can live there? With me? Will
you, Anne, help me to get that place alive again?"

"Archie, what-"

"Anne, this may or may not come as a surprise to you.
We have not known each other long. And I am still not
certain if you caught me when I first saw you, or that
you wound me around you little finger in the first
weeks of our acquaintance. What I want to tell you or
rather ask you is, will you marry me? Will you be my
wife?" He reached into his waistcoat pocket and pulled
out a small ring that had two inlaid stones. An
amethyst and a sapphire. "I believe this is your size.
Will you do me the honour to try and see if it fits?"

"Archie! Oh, yes I will, all you said! I would gladly
be your wife. I will happily share my future life with
you. But at Wesley Hall? Archie, are you sure? What
about the navy? You won't give it up for me will you?
You can't."

"Yes, I have never been more sure. For you I will try
anything. Please, accept this ring, I am still holding
it. It should have been around your finger by now. You
have no idea how happy you have made me just now! I
feel like I am the happiest person alive."

"Impossible, that is me." He slipped the elegant ring
on her finger and tugged on her hand, making her lean
over the table. Halfway across they met with a kiss.
With her eyes still closed she said; "That is the
third time you kissed me."

"Second. What you call the second is what I call a
knock on the door. So, make my counting correct and
make it three." He whispered and kissed her another
time. Then he drew back his head, and softly kissed
her hand with the ring. "Now you are all mine." he
said.

"I have been all the while. Since we first met." She
looked at the ring. "An amethyst, and a sapphire.
Those big blue eyes of yours are just like this
sapphire. Two sapphire bullets of pure love."

"Sapphire bullets you say, eh? Are those bullets more
effective that cupid's arrows?"

"Oh, much more. You see, cupid's arrows are becoming a
bit outdated, and with only cupid's arrows I might
have married someone else. Someone chosen by my
father."

"You have told me about your father. Anne..." He took
a deep breath. It was so hard to ask. But he wanted to
know. "Anne, was your mother really... Spanish? What
was she like?"

She could see there was pain in his eyes when he said
that one word. Spanish. Hadn't he been in Spain
himself? "Spanish. Yes, she was. My father used to
travel a lot. One time he was on business in Spain and
he met a girl. He married her shortly after, and
brought her home with him. My mother's family did not
approve of the match, but there was nothing they could
do. I believe they were very happy together, my father
and mother, and their first baby, me, was supposed to
be the crown of their happiness. But my mother died
within three years after my birth. My mother's family
then tried to take me away from my father and take me
back to Spain when I was a little older. But I haven't
seen any of them since my father got so angry that he
threw them out of the house. I must have been seven
years old at the time. I hadn't heard anything spoken
in Spanish since then, until... until that one night.
You had a nightmare Archie, and I heard you scream and
yell out Spanish words. Archie, why were you in
Spain?" It had slipped her mouth before she knew. She
instantly knew she had caused him pain.

"Anne, you love me, let me be happy today." His voice
was very low, and threatened of hidden anger. "Don't
ask me that question. I will tell you when I am ready
." Abruptly he let go of her hand and left the table.

Anne did not know whether to be joyous because of what
he had asked her. She was going to be with him
forever! Or sad because of that what she had asked
him, and what the result of it had been. And how was
she going to tell Mrs. Kennedy? Tell that she was
going to be her daughter in law, and the first thing
she had done after Archie had proposed to her was
upset him beyond compare. She shoved her plate away,
and bowed her head to rest on her arms on the table.
Then she started crying. Crying... for how long?

She felt two strong hands on her shoulders and heard
that all too familiar voice. Archies voice. "Love, I
did not want to make you cry." How soft and tender he
spoke those words. "I am sorry for rushing away like I
just did. I am sorry for having made you unhappy. You
had no idea. It was no fault of yours dear, it was
mine." He walked around the table to the chair he'd
sat in before. "I think I am able to tell you a bit of
my story. You asked me what the reason of my stay in
Spain had been. It was not a pleasant reason, by a
cruel twist of faith I had a fit while being on a
mission. Horatio could do nothing else than hit me on
the head so I would make no more noise. I was not in
control of myself. I was left in the boat, and someone
by the name of Simpson cut it loose. I drifted away,
and was captured by the French. The prison warden used
me as a medium of exchange, and I ended up in Spain.
The people there are, to put it as easy as I can, not
nice to their prisoners. Especially when those
prisoners try to escape. I learned that the hard way.
After a while I had given up all the hope of ever
returning. I was once more moved to another prison,
from which I again tried to escape several times, and
for that I was punished. Having been there a few
months, I found myself no longer the only prisoner.
Faith had decided for Horatio and some of the Indy's
crew to keep me company. When I was about to
completely give up, Horatio saved me. He saved me from
starving myself, and got us all out, thanks to one of
his heroic actions. All in all I have spent two years
of my life in prison. And I only have been free for a
bit more than a year now. Sometimes I do still have
nightmares. I am sorry you were the witness to one
like that."

His voice had been frightening her, and the contents
of what he had told her scared her even more. "I am
sorry. I had no idea." She took his hand and pinched
it a little, as a sign of trust. "Archie, thank you
for being honest with me. I wish I could take the bad
memories away. I love you. I would never intentionally
hurt you. Can you forgive me?"

"Forgive you dear, for something that had been my
doing? I should ask you to forgive me. I should have
told you earlier. That would have been fairer. You
might have had your suspicions. Mother told me she had
accidentally used the word 'Spain' in your presence. I
knew of it, and thought it was better to keep it a
secret. And although it was hard for me to tell you
this, it must have been hard for you to listen. I
could see it in your face. Are we friends again?"

"I hope we are. Yes, we are." And she pinched him
again.

"Then let's tell them the good news. I think I just
heard the carriage return." He stood up from the
table, and helped her up. Together they walked to the
front door.

"Wait. You still have tears on your face." He took a
handkerchief and started to wipe them from her face.
"I will do everything I can to never make you cry
again. I promise."

"Promise to kiss me first. Let's start counting all
over from our new start. You wanted three kisses,
right?"

"I like that... you have a cunning mind. You make me
forget myself." He brushed through her hair with his
free hand. Then he lifted up her chin. The door
opened. They had quite forgotten that they were by the
door and they were startled out of their wits.

Mrs. Kennedy came through the door first. "Ah. There
you are. Here now, what do you think you are doing?"

"We are celebrating." Archie said, and mischievously
glanced at Anne, who seemingly had less control over
herself.

"Then tell me, what is there to celebrate? Oh!" Mrs.
Kennedy looked at them both and turned to Anne. "He
has made you an offer, hasn't he? I knew it. Oh this
is the best news I have heard all day! Those Philips's
were so dull. No exiting news they had to tell." She
walked a few steps back outside and gestured Mr. and
Mrs. Humphrey to get inside and to hurry. "Come
inside! There is great news to hear. Oh! I am so
exited." She turned next to Archie. "You have been
polite, I might hope, haven't you? Don't make Anne
tell me you were not. Else you don't deserve her. And
what of the Hall? You will accept?" She was calm and
very much delighted with what she had just heard.
"Come, come, all to the drawing room. That is best
suited for occasions like these." Though they were
still guests of the Humphrey's, Mrs. Kennedy had
always had a hand at managing situations best. So
therefore she commanded and the others obeyed.

Archie cleared his throat. "Anne and I have something
to tell you." He looked around. It was obvious
everyone knew what he was about to say, thanks to all
the excitement raised by his mother. "We love each
other very much, and have decided to get married. This
morning I asked this lovely lady," he stole another
glance at her, "and she has made me indescribably
happy by telling me she would very much like to share
her life with me. We are going to get married. And now
we are going to continue what we were about to do
before you came in." He lifted her chin for the second
time. "This is one."

End part III