The King was sitting in a high-backed chair in his bedchamber on the second floor of `Iolani Palace. His guards were at the windows and outside the door.
David Kalākaua, regent of the Kingdom of Hawai`i, was visibly shaken by the attack on his Palace.
“Who were these people?” he asked simply, the words broken by uncontrollable tremors. He was addressing Admiral Grey and the rest of the small contingent from the Admiral’s ship, the Sovereign.
“I don’t know, sire,” replied the Admiral. “They used weapons that were fearsome and unknown to us. Two of your Palace Guard are dead and one more in grave danger.”
“Something … something must be done!” the King exclaimed.
“What must be done is to keep you safe,” said Admiral Grey. “You will need a continuous guard, and it might even be best if you departed the Palace for a while. In fact … “
“Would you clear the room briefly? Your guards can all wait outside and you will be safe if you stay clear of the windows.”
“But … well, then. Guards, as the officer says!”
The Captain of the Guards, Samuel Nowlein, spoke up. “I do not feel comfortable … “
“As the officer says, Captain Nowlein.”
The Captain led his men out but the expression on his face and the look he gave Admiral Grey clearly indicated his displeasure.
“Sire, I am convinced there are those among your staff who cannot be trusted. I think this because of the timing of the attack, which was calculated to ensure that both you and I could be targeted at the same time.”
“My staff? My guards? They are loyal!”
“I am sure that nearly all of them are. But it only takes one to again put you in peril of your life. So I suggest that you come with me and tell no one where I am taking you. It would be best if you did not wear royal attire. You may stay aboard the /Sovereign/ until we are certain it is safe for you to return to the Palace. The ship is not as comfortable, perhaps, as your regular surroundings, but it will be safe. We are well armed, and as we are anchored off-shore, we are more difficult to attack.”
“I don’t know … I … what will I tell everyone?”
“Precisely my point. You will tell nothing to anyone. You will appear to be missing. That will create great doubt in the minds of the perpetrators of this vicious assault.”
“I suppose you are right … can I at least bring a manservant?”
“It would be best not. Give orders to the men outside your door that you do wish to be disturbed as you need your rest. Ask that they fetch us a cab and carry down one of your trunks, saying it is a gift to us for our assistance.”
“And I will be in the trunk, will I not?”
The Admiral smiled. “You see the point of my scheme. You will suffer some discomfort, but it will be brief. Pack a change of clothing.”
The conspirators were back in their little office.
“How could everything have gone so wrong?” Middle asked.
Eldest glared. “We were not supposed to get into combat with the Palace Guard. It was you”— he pointed at Youngest— “who did so.”
“I … I thought they were going to try to stop us,” Youngest said. There was clear notes of fear in his voice.
“There will be consequences,” said Eldest. “Upline will be very unhappy with us when I report these results. But perhaps, before I do so, we can make another attempt, and have something better to offer them.”
“I’ll do better,” said Youngest, “I promise.”
“I said there will be consequences. Upline prefers I deal with problems here. Sending you back would be costly and require too much in the way of preparation and uncomfortable explanations. And I think you know what your fate would be when you arrived uptime.”
Middle kept silent. While he didn’t have Eldest’s more extensive experience, he had a good idea of what was about to happen. “Um … I’ll go do a little scouting,” he offered. “You know … “
Eldest nodded. “Do that.”
Middle scurried off, closing the office door quickly behind him.
“Now, then,” said Eldest, “you and I have matters to settle.”
“You don’t mean … “
Eldest grinned but it was not a friendly smile. Youngest, seeing this, stood up and glanced at the door.
“You’ll never make it,” Eldest said.
Outside, in the corridor, had anyone been there, they only would have heard something of a sharp sound, like a glass being set rather hard upon a table, follow by a thump, which really could have been anything at all. No one would have given any of it a second thought.
After her father demanded her presence and told her what he had in mind, Julianna fled to her room and went straight to bed, unable to fight tears of rage and frustration. But after about half an hour, there was a soft knock on the door of her room.
“Please, I don’t want to be bothered right now,” Julianna replied. She had changed into her night shift and was lying under the covers in her bed. Her eyes felt puffy and swollen and her head swam with incoherent thoughts.
The door opened. Mrs. Huntington walked in, carrying a tea tray laden with teapot, cup and saucer, and a small platter of biscuits.
“Mother … please,” Julianna said from under the bedcovers. “Just let me be, I don’t want to talk about this any further.”
Mrs. Huntington set the tray on a small table under one of the room’s large windows. The curtains had been drawn for the night but a lamp was still lit. “I’ve brought you some rose and lavender tea,” she said. “It will help you relax, and perhaps think more clearly.”
Julianna sat up, the bedcovers falling away as she did so. Her long hair fell in unruly waves about her shoulders. “It’s not to be considered,” she said. “There is only one for me, and you know who it is.”
Mrs. Huntington sat in a chair next to the table. “Come, drink your tea,” she said, but Julianna remained where she was.
“Yes, I know who it is,” Mrs. Huntington went on. “One who leaves you alone for months and years. One upon whom you cannot count and in whom you cannot place faith. One in whom …”
“Enough!” Julianna pressed her palms against her ears. “I can’t bear it!”
“Mr. Briston is a fine gentleman,” Mrs. Huntington said. “You must give him a chance. If you accept his suit, he would give you a good and secure life with all the comforts you might ever want.”
Julianna lowered her hands. “I barely know him. He was here for dinner what— twice? And spent most of his time speaking with father about the tea trade. It is almost as if you had promised me to him, and he didn’t feel the need to make any effort.”
Julianna’s mother gasped. “How did you know … “
“So it is true! How could you?”
“It would be for the best, as your father and I only have your well-being in mind.” Mrs. Huntington was breathing a bit rapidly, her words coming in spurts.
“Mother, I believe this is all too much for your health. Again I ask you to let me be. We can talk tomorrow.”
Quietly, Mrs. Huntington nodded her head, stood up, and left the room.
Julianna poured some tea and drank it slowly. Her father had been clear about his wishes and about the possible consequences of Julianna failing to honor them. It had been horrible. But he had sown some doubt in Julianna’s mind, doubt that built upon the fears and misgivings that she already had.
She would have to make a decision in rather short order. And that decision would have far-reaching effects on her future life.
It was Kate’s day off and Paulie and Joan were on duty at the Tea Trader shop.
“It’s strange,” Joan said. “Kate keeps asking about that book you got from Ted.”
“She’s never said anything more to me,” Paulie replied. “Why wouldn’t she just ask me herself?”
“I don’t know. As I’ve said before, there is something odd about her, but I can’t say exactly what.”
“Well, I’ll ask her myself next time I see her,” Paulie said. “In any case, I have the logbook with me. I was actually thinking about giving back to Ted. There’s something about it … I have trouble putting it down and when I pick it up I seem to lose all sense of time. But maybe I’ll keep it after all.”
Joan gave Paulie a curious glance. “Well, you’re having that MRI, right?”
“Only because Ted insists. There’s nothing wrong with me, Joan. Nothing.”
Kate hadn’t even had to ask Paulie for her address. In a moment when the others were all occupied, she simply looked it up in Ted’s employee file, saying that she was searching for an invoice that a customer had asked about.
She couldn’t wait any longer. There was pressure from upline to perform. She’d have to act right away and assess the impacts, and then determine further steps. It wasn’t going to be pretty, but she knew her job and she carried it out without emotion.
Kate waited an hour beyond Tea Trader‘s opening time in order to be sure Paulie would be out of her apartment. It didn’t take Kate very long to pick the lock on the entry door, and, making certain she was unobserved, to take the stairs to the second floor. The lock on Paulie’s door was equally trivial.
Within moments, she was inside Paulie’s apartment, ready to begin her work, knowing exactly what she needed to do.
To be continued in January, 2021.
Mr. and Mrs. Huntington may not have showed the best judgment in trying to arrange a match for Julianna, but there is no doubt that Mrs. Huntington brought her daughter a pot of relaxing and soothing tea. Rose and lavender makes up part of a Tea Trader blend known as Organic Tulsi Rose in which tulsi (also know as Holy Basil, an ancient and highly revered Ayurvedic herb), is blended with lavender and rose for a delicate taste. You can order in your own supply from the Tea Trader website or, if you’re in the Calgary area, by calling in your order to 403-264-1868 for pickup at the shop door.