Chapter Twenty-One – continued
“Well, how lovely,” Muriel finally pushed out. For long seconds, nothing else was heard but the clinking of silverware on porcelain plates. Until, “I wonder what has happened to Abigail.”
Camille forced her hands to keep moving. “Oh, I believe she might be at the castle,” she said casually. “She and Adrian are courting, you know. And this is such a trying time for him and the rest of the royal family.”
“Yes,” Lawrence said distractedly, unknowingly coming to his daughter’s rescue. “Yes, that is the best place for her. She must acquaint herself with court, after all. Certainly, there will be eager ladies and matrons hoping to teach her.”
Well, it wasn’t quite what Camille had in mind, but it did neatly deal with the problem of Adrian, or even Andalissa, showing up and claiming to not have seen Abigail. With their courtship unintentionally announced just earlier that day in a room packed full of courtiers, it was easy to believe someone had snagged Abigail as soon as she’d walked into the castle and whisked her away.
Across the table, Madeline went still for just a moment. Camille didn’t want to think what the cogs were churning out in her mind, but, from the flash of her eyes, she didn’t think it boded well for her sister. She pressed her lips together as she cut into her slice of roast. She had one night to make sure it was safe for Abigail to come home.
“Mother,” Madeline said softly, suddenly, as her fork lightly clinked against her plate. “I am feeling unwell. Would you help me to bed?”
Camille lifted her head just enough to see a look pass between mother and daughter. It was one that stiffened her spine and put her on edge. But Muriel’s shifty look quickly smoothed out into concern for her only child.
“Of course, my darling,” Muriel said smoothly, rising from her chair. “Lawrence, if you would…”
She didn’t even finish before her husband was absently waving her off. Camille caught sight of Muriel’s huff and indignation, but at least she had the good sense to merely press her lips together and sweep her daughter off.
Briefly, Camille mourned the loss of the roast and warm roasted potatoes and thickly buttered bread, but she had to know what Muriel and Madeline were up to. Just the thought of them plotting against Abigail was enough for her stomach to turn. It wouldn’t require much effort to pretend to be unwell herself.
“Father,” she said softly, speaking more to the top of Lawrence’s head than his face, “I’m feeling a little tired. I think I’ll retire.”
“Rest well, dear,” Lawrence said, just as absently as he’d waved off his wife.
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