They helped me to a seat at the table and waited for me to regain my senses and my composure. I knew there were still questions to be answered and I felt there was still some sort of punishment to be assigned to me. The guilt I felt demanded it and if they did not punish me in some way, I would find a way to pay my own personal penance for my part in this? I also feared for my personal secret and prayed that Marie’s insanity would be our salvation… they would believe nothing she said? There was much more discussion of the events that had taken place and what my part had been in those events. In that, I could be completely truthful! I had tried to dissuade Marie from her plans, I knew little of what the actual plan and plot was, I was truly fearful for the lives of the children. I knew nothing of Gerard’s whereabouts, I was even more afraid of him than of Marie! Henry and Francois believed me, and throughout the interview we were able to piece together most of the plot. I learned that Gerard had been living in Dragon Valley since we made our ill fated voyage to England, even it seemed, before then? This troubled me even more but I kept silent on it. How could he have been there before? Before that, he had been in those past years with us. Something was quite peculiar and, as I had suspected, it tied to Gerard! I remembered back to those years… Gerard had been some years older than us, out of our household and only coming back to visit. He was in the King’s service and spent much time traveling in the King’s name to England, and to Scotland… I wondered, could he have encountered some of these time slips previously and found some way to use them to his advantage?
Gerard had a family in Dragon Valley. I found out that he had managed to tie himself to the recognized Royals of this place by marrying the eldest daughter, Leona Woodlyon. He had then went about deceiving, betraying them and bringing the clan to ruins. The young man that I had suspected of watching us for Gerard, Francis Woods, was actually Gerard’s son! Francis was a knight in service of Henry. He had been distanced and estranged from his family for years, having been fostered out at a young age. Francis had received a message from his Mother of serious troubles in Dragon Valley that required the King’s assistance and attention? So, it was Francis who had alerted Henry of what was taking place. Wanting to have more evidence of the entire plot, Henry and Francois had initially played along with Gerard’s ruse and made partial ransom payments for the girls.
While they waited for Gerard’s next moves, Francis had continued his mission of secrecy working to find out exactly what Gerard was doing. What Gerard was doing was stripping the Valley of it’s wealth and raiding what ever coffers he could avail himself of! He was pouring the monies into this Grand Castle? He was scheming and thinking that somehow he could bring down the entire reign of England and replace it with his Royal bloodlines of Scotland? The key to his plan was this isolated, remote Valley that sat hidden between the two lands. The other key was the Woodlyon family, who had strong family and clan ties to the fiercely independent warriors of the highlands. They were so against the English interference and rule that if he could offer them power and control, they might just win?! He was destroying what little peace the country had managed to salvage over the years of warring between themselves and England. The scariest part was, that as bizarre as his plan was, it just might have worked had he not gotten ahead of himself, carried away with his power and greedy for all of the glory and gold to go to himself!
I became ill when I heard what the rest of his plan had been. It directly involved me and laid bare part of my well kept secret? Henry and Francois turned deeply serious and quiet as they talked about how Gerard made known my family connections, my royal bloodlines and his intent to marry me to his son Francis, thereby sealing the royal line between the Dragon Valley Royals and the English? He knew there were still constant insinuations, accusations, and debates over who the true Rulers of England were, even after these many years. His plan would set England to once again be at war with itself, and he felt if he played his cards right, he would come out the winner!
The room was silent… Henry was waiting for my response, and I had none that I thought would be acceptable to him other than as much of the truth as I could piece together and tell. He continued to stare at me, drumming his fingers on the table, the sound echoing through the room and my ears. He finally spoke, “You do realize how serious this is? I would not have thought you for a traitor such as this?”
I know my skin went even paler than it’s normally porcelain white complexion if that was possible! My voice shook as I attempted to compose my admission, my confession. “Your highness, I am not a traitor! I have never had desires or intents on laying such claims to any Royal Lines. In the past, I have been used as a pawn and a commodity by many of my family. I had no choice in those events, I was but a child , a girl child with no voice in decisions that were made on my account.” Tearfully, I continued while the men listened intently, “ I was sent away to France as a child, during that time my parents both died and I became a ward of the DeJewelle family. They made the decision that for my safety in uncertain times, and because of my lineage, I should be known by my Mother’s family name of DeGuille? In doing this for me, they essentially put an end to my connection to the houses of England. To everyone but Gerard, my place in English Royal lineage ceased to exist long ago. I would prefer it to stay that way.”
I had told them the truth, as much of it as possible anyway? And, with the strange time slips also came changes to history, much of which I still do not understand? Henry had done his own investigation into my past, which I had feared he might. According to his search of my family, I was telling the truth according this time line? My parents had died some years ago, but not well over 50 years ago. I was their only child, and it was recorded that I had died around the same time? I suppose that might have been assumption, as most of the household died in that epidemic. My parents had sent me away in some secrecy as had many other families at the time. So, even in the other time line, most would have assumed that I perished with the others? They may have found a small girl child’s body and assumed it was mine…
Henry had a document in front of him which he pushed across the table to me, “So, My Dear Lady Deguille, for all practical purposes, and for the good of England, You will swear that you are the Lady Eleanor DeGuille and not the missing, presumed deceased Lady Eleanor Stafford? You will sign this document swearing to that, thereby removing yourself from any claims to the English Royal bloodlines. You will swear fealty to me as your English King and Ruler?”
With no hesitation on my part, I took the document and the quill, and signed my name, Lady Eleanor DeGuille! Henry, Francois and I swore that this information would remain here in this room between us. The document would be used in the future when Gerard was apprehended and might attempt to make these claims once more!
An immense stone of weight had suddenly been lifted from me and I felt such relief that what ever punishment they would assign me would be more than bearable!
Well, what an odd punishment was assigned to me! Upon hearing it, I was not quite sure whether to laugh or cry? As I have mentioned, I have no overall fondness for children? So, in this respect, my future at the hands of Francois and Henry could be regarded as definite punishment. It was decided by them that because I had shown great care, concern and responsibility for the children, and because of my proper upbringing which I was adamant on instilling in the girls, I would be appointed their Royal care taker. I would be in charge of their upbringing, their education and their supervision? Francois had decided however, to adopt Marguirite into his immediate family and keep her with him for the time being as he wanted time to get to know her better? For the time being, I would be in charge of Henry’s daughters… all three of them, including Mary who already an adult? Henry insisted that she still needed to be chaperoned and he felt that she was severely lacking in some much needed social skills. These things would all fall upon my shoulders!