Lidwy was scared. For one moment she'd thought the arrival of the second prince would be her rescue, but she'd been wrong. True, he had given her his jacket to cover herself after Robert had torn her dress, but after that he'd seemed to have lost all decency. His hands now rested on her shoulder as he forced her to come with him. Gently, she had to admit that, but still with force. She didn't even want to imagine where he was taking her. She looked around, frantically thinking of a way to escape, but she realised all attempts now would be futile. She would never get far. So she quietly walked with them,
"We're almost there", Christian said to Robert. For a moment he looked down on the girl and even though she bravely tried to hide her fear he could see it in her eyes and he could feel her tremble.
Noticing he was looking at her she straightened her back, her chin in the air and looked him in the eye. "I have done nothing," she repeated once more.
"I know exactly what you've done shadow girl," Christian said. There had to be a way to put her at ease without warning her attacker. "Sir George told me all about it."
"Sir George?" Lidwy could not help but ask.
"He's the head of stables…" George explained.
"Sir? I thought he was just a servant."
"Well in a matter of speaking he is. He is a servant to the king, but he's also his best and oldest friend."
Lidwy looked confused now, still not sure what this all meant.
"Anyway…he told me ALL that happened," Christian continued and for one short moment squeezed her shoulder.
Slowly Lidwy started to understand and she looked up to him with a new hope in her eyes.
"Everything?" she asked.
"Yes, everything," Christian affirmed, and while making sure Robert didn't notice it he gave her a brief wink.
"See…you won't get away with it now, girl," Robert said, misunderstanding her flustered face. "You might have thought you would…but you're dealing with nobility now. They aren't that easily fooled."
"Here we are," Christian said, and he opened a door pushing Lidwy inside. Both Maurits and Elizabeth who were sitting on a couch looked up, surprise written all over their faces.
"What's going on Chris?" Maurits asked.
"Eh, nothing," his brother answered. "I'll explain later. This is eh…"
"Robert de Burton, your royal highness," Robert quickly said, jumping forward to bow. "It's a pleasure to meet you. We were introduced earlier…my mother is head mistress of 's Academy…"
"I remember," Maurits said, a puzzled look on his face. "Christian?"
"Not now brother…give me just a second. He rushed outside only to return a few moments later."
"Ok, are you now gonna let me know what's going on?" Maurits asked. "And why is she wearing your jacket?"
All eyes now turned towards Lidwy who as soon as Christian had let her go had moved into a corner, trying to put as much distance between herself and Robert."
"Eh well….this is Arthor's shadow girl…don't you remember her?" Christian asked.
"Shadow girl?" Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. "Why are you called shadow girl?" she asked the Lidwy.
"Eh I don't know…" she said.
"No…she's not really called that….it's Arthor's name for her...kind of her nick name…" Christian explained.
"Well perhaps it would be politer if you used her real name," Elizabeth said.
"Sure, if I could…eh…"
"It's Lidwy de Vouécourt, right?" Maurits said and he gave the girl one of his rare smiles.
Lidwy smiled back at him. "Yes it is your royal highness," she said.
At that moment the door opened and Arthor came in. "Now before you're gonna yell at me, they weren't there…" he started, but then he saw both Lidwy and Robert in the room.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"That's what we all would like to know," Maurits said, "Christian…!"
"Ah well…I'll tell you…" Christian said. "I just happened to walk by when eh Shad…I mean Miss de Vouécourt came running out of the empty rooms, her dress all torn in the front, her hair, well…like it is now. She was followed by him – and he pointed to Robert - while he called her a….what was it again…?
Robert was getting pale and uneasily he moved from one leg to another. Once again he nervously licked his lips. He didn't really like the direction this conversation was going. "Eh…I don't remember sir…"
"Well it doesn't really matter. Anyway….Miss de Vouécourt was handed over to Mr. de Burton only moments before by Arthor in order to be disciplined."
"Why?" Maurits asked.
"A misunderstanding….it doesn't really matter now," Christian quickly said. "Anyway…Mr. Burton decided that he didn't think there was any harm in having some 'fun' – I think that was what you called it Mr. Burton – while punishing the girl at the same time. I don't think I have to be more detailed about what he had in mind?"
"You tried to rape her?" Maurits asked his voice dangerously quiet."
"Your majesty, please" Robert tried to reason, "You don't understand. It was not like that…you don't know what she's like….she had it coming to her…she's just a commoner. I did not nothing wrong."
"No!" Maurits called out. "You don't understand. I know the law might still give nobility room to abuse common women who are under their so called protection. You might even have gotten away with this at your house, all though I doubt the parents of the other students would like to hear of such a thing. Here, however Miss de Vouécourt is our guest and as such she falls under our protection!"
"Sir, I did not realise…"
"You should have. Anyway…I think you understand that under the circumstances I have to ask you to leave."
Robert's mouth fell open. "but sir…as you said the law gives me the right to act with her as I want to," he called out. "And it was your brother who asked me to discipline her!"
"I didn't ask him to rape her," Arthor said.
"The guards should be here now," Christian mentioned, "I asked the servants to sent for them."
"Let them in," Maurits commanded. Four heavily armoured men entered the room.
"Could you please escort sir Robert de Burton to the stables. He'll be returning home today," Maurits said. "And can one of the servants inform his mother once he has left. She can send back his belongings."
"You can't do this," Robert called out, "I didn't do anything to the wench anyway…"
"I not only can, but I also will…" Maurits said. "Now if I were you I wouldn't cause a scene, but go as quietly as possible. Think of what it'll mean for you, your mother's good name and the reputation of the school if people discover what has happened. You can go now!"
Robert wasn't a stupid man and he knew he'd lost. Giving the three princes and Elisabeth a quick bow he glared at Lidwy, but then walked through the opened door. The four guards followed him.