Lady Jane was in her office tending to official business, when James announced the arrival of ‘a thin, hungry looking man’. Big-hearted person that she was, she immediately told James to summon him in, and he was comfortably seated. Tea was brought in, along with some refreshments. Then,
“Tell me, sir, what brings you to our castle?”
“My name is Russel Kanovsky, my lady, and I have come on an important errand. One that, if not successful, may endanger many lives. Please call in all your most trusted and close companions and dismiss all the others.”
She looked skeptically at him, but said, “Of course, Sir Russel.”
“Just Russel, my lady. I have not earned the title Sir.”
“Very well, Russel. James, call in Robert, Jenny, Nan and Sir Terence.”
He bowed, and left to do her bidding.
When they all had arrived and were seated comfortably, the doors were shut and Russel poured out his story. He told how he had worked for Dudley Cummings, and confessed how he had listened in on the conversation between the governor and Lady Jane. He recounted the plot of Cummings and told how he had escaped to warn her.
Lady Jane was white with shock by the time that Russel had finished. Jenny’s mouth was wide open, both from the knowledge of the plan, and the thought of her father coming here. James had a wild, fiery look in his eyes, and Robert, too, looked as if he was burning, his mouth set in a grim line. Sir Terence held his hand on the hilt of his sword. Nan had fainted, poor woman.
When Lady Jane had recovered a little,
“I thank you for your fidelity to me, Russel. If not for you, my entire family might have been wiped out.” Russel blushed crimson.
“I don’t deserve praise, my lady.”
“Russel, I think that all your past deeds can be forgiven by the one you have done now, mainly coming to me and telling me at the risk of your own life.”
“Thank you, my lady. You don’t know how much this means to me.”
“Now, what do you propose we do?”
“Destroy them, that’s what!” James half shouted, unable to contain himself any longer. “Get rid of them, the dirty crooks.”
“James!” These soft, amazed words from Lady Jane stopped him.
“I have thought out a plan, my lady, that I believe will work. We will spread around the rumor that you have gone to France on a business trip, but in actuality you will be hiding in this valley until everything is cleared up. A few of your household can go with you. Who do you choose? And do you know a suitable place?”
“Very well, Russel, we will do as you say. We will take James, Robert and Jenny. Sir Terence, you can manage the castle while I am gone? And Nan of course will stay.” She thought for a moment, and then abruptly said, “Robert, do you remember Alfred Connal? The one I lent money to when he was broke?”
“Yes, of course. He said he’d repay you one day, by giving you anything you asked.”
“Perhaps we could go to him,” she mused. “He’s bound by his own word to do anything I ask, though I am sure he would do it anyway. Very well then. We will go there. Russel, are you coming with us?”
“Yes. And one more thing. Remember, I’m supposed to be dead. So, though I will go with you, I wish you would refer to me as one of your staff, namely Manfor.”
“As you wish, Manfor.”