Lady in Waiting Book 2 Part 3

Book 2

Lady in Waiting Part 3

Lady in Waiting 3.jpg

Charlotte and Anna have now arrived in Lisbon where Anna's education really kicks in as hot headed Charlotte is determined to make a success of Anna's transformation from servant to companion a success. But disaster strikes and Charlotte's impetuous nature lead her into danger and adventure.

Reaching the port we moored up alongside some very elegant (but very slimy) marble steps.
This was official entrance to Lisbon a impressive broad marble staircase from the water to the vast arcaded (Praça do Comércio). Uniform buildings rebuilt after the earthquake surround the three landward sides of the square.

My brother, bounded up these easily while we girls encumbered by our dresses were somewhat slower.
Anna’s Mr Newsome helped us ladies up them. At the top of them I turned to Anna instructing her, “Anna please will you remain here and make sure our luggage is safe – I am sure Mr Newsome could spare the time to keep you safe.”

With a grateful look she answered, “Yes Miss.” While poor Mr Newsome earnestly informed me that the first lieutenant had ordered him to remain on shore until all our baggage was delivered.

As I looked around with interest the port area was a hive of activity with horses and carts seemingly wandering around without purpose.
The varinas (fish vendors) roam the port area dressed in long black skirts carrying their wares in baskets on their heads.
Vessels tied up at quays where the sound of hooves on stone blends in with the cries of the workers.
I was later told that at dawn, fishing boats deposit their catch for sale to the Lisbon shop owners while the fish vendors wait to fill the baskets which they peddle through the streets.

Further inland the fish market gives way to the equally colourful and clamorous fruit and vegetable market which I was determined to visit.
Lisbon’s port had an intimacy with its city amid the cargo boats, warships and ferryboats; a picturesque note is struck by the fragatas said to of Phoenician origin.
These crescent-shaped boats with their striking black hulls and pink sails perform all of the harbour’s lighterage.
I found out all this from a gentleman who seemed to be waiting for someone, he was very polite and quite comely in his looks. He spoke in English with an accent somewhere between French and Portuguese he knew the city well and freely told me about it.

As I sheltered under my parasol because the sun was very strong Anna and Mr Newsome were sheltered under the overhang of a building earnestly engaged in conversation while the sailors in the cutter had put up a canvas cover.
“Senorita” my newly found friend said, “Would you care to sit in the shade and maybe partake in a cool drink.” As he said this he gestured to a small building with a canopy underneath which were some tables.
This was considered very forward in English society – but we were not in England so I answered, “Unfortunately I am waiting for my guardian.” Quite logically he pointed out that I could see where we were now standing from the tables also I was quite warm and in need of some refreshment so I agreed.

As we walked across he introduced himself, “Senorita how remiss of me not introducing myself I am Pierre Ducos – and before you ask I am a Frenchman but I am also an enemy of the tyrant Bonaparte.”
I was still somewhat taken aback by his forwardness so I nodded saying, “Pleased to make your acquaintance Monsieur Ducos.” I said this in my best French much to his surprise.
I sat across from him as he ordered two fruit cordials, when these came they were chilled with condensation glistening on the tankard. I took a sip and it was delicious.
He continued to speak to me of the city then I saw my Brother walk up to the head of the steps. I stood and waved to him attracting his attention.
As he strode over I turned to Monsieur Ducos to see him appraising my brother through narrowed eyes there was something that made me distrust the voluble Frenchman.

When my brother came over I introduced him to my new ‘friend’ and thanked Monsieur Ducos for his company linking arms with my brother I left as Midshipman Newsome organised our baggage onto a cart.
I glanced over to where I had left Monsieur Ducos to see him speaking to two others who looked like local labourers however I noticed that his eyes never left my brother.

We were handed into the carriage that Edward had organised and with a clatter of hooves we set off.
I purposefully sat with my back to the driver so I could take in the sights and see behind the carriage. Anna was bubbling with excitement not only was it her first time away from England it was her first time in a carriage.
While I listened and answered Anna I watched the tableaux that was taking place behind us. One of the two men had jumped on a small single horse gig and was clearly following us while the other had disappeared into the maze of streets.

We steadily made our way through the city to the place we would be living for the next few months it was in the area known as Belem close by the palace the centre of government and of course the British Delegation.
The house was airy and comfortable with a pleasant breeze wafting through the rooms. There were servants to attend to us. This in it self created a slight problem as in theory Anna was my maid though in practice things were slightly different.
Our baggage was brought in and carried to our rooms as Anna was dressed very similar to myself she had her own room next to mine – much to my brothers amusement he had taken to calling her ‘Lady Anna’ much to Anna’s discomfort but even though she begged him not to call her such he persisted as it seemed to amuse him.

We settled in and our life carried on I would spend many hours a day teaching Anna everything she needed to know as I have said before she was a very fast learner and after a month or so she was a perfect gentlewoman.
As my companion she would attend functions with me so she had to be dressed suitably so we went shopping. This was a revelation for her as up until then she had used my old clothes that had been altered to fit her.
But now she was measured for three dresses of her own suitable for functions I could see that she was so thrilled.
It took a week for these to be made and when they were delivered I insisted that she go and try them on.

They were in the latest style empire gathered under the bust, One was a pale lilac gown in the lightest lawn it really suited her colouring the second dress was of cream cotton with flowers printed while the third dress was a cornflower blue made from fine silk it really looked superb on her in fact it made her look like a lady.
It was while I was fastening her into this dress that there was a commotion and three men burst into the bedroom they were all armed with pistols and wicked looking knives.
I recognised two of them as the men I had seen speaking to Monsieur Ducos. They strode over to Anna taking her under the chin and forcing her head up so this is Lady Charlotte Grenford the woman our patron wants their accent was very heavy showing they were unaccustomed to speaking our language.

I was just about to tell them that they were wrong when Anna in a perfect aristocratic voice told them, “Yes and who are you?” The three men laughed one saying, “Never you mind m’lady you are coming on a journey with us.”
“But she” I started but never finished and Anna snapped at me, “Anna you silly girl keep quiet and remember your place!”
I was dumbfounded Anna had not only called me by her name but had told me not to be silly and remember MY place.
I was about to tell the truth when Anna turned to one of the men who seemed to be the leader asking, “I assume that you are taking me so let us proceed.”

Again I tried to put things right I cried, “But she’s..........” Again Anna cut me off saying, “Anna please remember you are not my equal speak only when spoken to and stop having ideas above your station just because you are wearing one of my dresses!”
Then turning to the leader she suggested, “To get some peace and quiet from this silly girl why don’t you tie her to the chair and gag her!”
I was appalled what was she doing then finally very belatedly I realised she was saving me - she was going in my place!
But when the Frenchman saw her he would recognise that his captive was not who he thought and her life would be in danger!
I simply could not let this happen so I opened my mouth to protest when one of the men slapped my with the back of his hand knocking me to the floor.
He growled, “Shut up wench we have to deliver her ladyship undamaged but we may have some fun with you!”
While I was still stunned he tore the hem of my gown and stuffed some of the cloth into my mouth then tied some more of the cloth around my mouth effectively gagging me.

I was then unceremoniously dragged into the chair and more of my dress was used to tie me to the chair.
One of the men groped my breasts saying to his friends, “Nice and plump shall we have some fun?”

His companion growled “Leave her alone and let’s get her ladyship away before we are disturbed”. He threw some baggy trousers and an equally baggy shirt at Anna telling her, “Now M’lady put these on – NOW!”
Anna started to protest when the front of her gown was grabbed and torn from her. He then took his knife and cut the rest of the dress snarling, “Dress or I’ll let my men have fun with your maid.” Nodding towards me.
Anna stood there in her camisole, drawers and corset the ruffian then cut the laces on her corset saying, “No need for these – NOW DRESS!”
With a scared look towards me she complied and with her hair savagely hacked to make her look like a male she was dragged out of the room.

I heard her protesting loudly in her crystal clear voice that she wanted to say goodbye to her maid and them she would leave quietly otherwise they would have to carry her.

The relented and the door opened. Anna entered and came over to me bending down she kissed my cheek whispering, “Don’t worry about me Miss Charlotte you tell your brother and I heard them saying they are taking me to somewhere called Vimioso.”

“Hurry” snarled the leader calmly Anna straightened up and said, “A lady never hurries,” then patting my cheek she addressed me, “Now you be a good girl Anna I will see you soon.”
As she turned one of the men grabbed her and literally dragged her from the room leaving me bound and gagged tears streaming down my face.
I sat there helpless for what seemed like an age my emotions swinging between rage at what had happened and love for what Anna had selflessly done and despondency at not being able to do anything.

After an age I heard someone walking down the corridor I tried to shout but al that came out was muffled noises so in desperation I rocked on the chair until with a crash I landed on the floor I was winded but unhurt apart from where I had been slapped.
Lying on my side I watched as the door opened all I could see were a pair of boots then I heard my brothers voice, “Charlotte what on earth has happened?” As he spoke he rushed to me and cut me free I staggered to my feet and fell against him sobbing in relief.

As I calmed down I babbled my story to him I was not really coherent as I was still very emotional.
He lead me downstairs and made me drink a small glass of Brandy coughing and spluttering from the fiery liqueur I gulped a few deep breaths and started my story again.
Edward sent a servant to the British Delegation and made me sit calmly telling me to think deeply and be ready to recount every little detail – including how I knew the men that had abducted Anna.

There came the clatter of hooves and three men burst into the room two were in army uniform while the third was in civilian dress but he was obviously in charge.
They made me recount my meeting with Monsieur Ducos at the port how I saw Monsieur Ducos talk to two men and how I had spotted one of them following our coach.
Then I recounted what had happened before Anna was abducted how she was trying on a new gown with me fastening her into it.
How the men had burst in and assumed that as I was assisting with the gown that Anna was myself and that every time I tried to tell the truth Anna had shouted me down eventually getting the rogues to bind and gag me.
Finally I told them about Vimioso which I found out was in Northern Portugal close to the Spanish boarder.

The four of them discussed their options I wanted to send some men straight after Anna and rescue her but as I was a mere woman I was totally ignored – by now I was incandescent with rage and resolute that Anna would be found and saved though how to be truthful I had not a clue.

Through listening I discovered that there was a supply convoy leaving tomorrow taking supplies North to resupply the Northern Army and that they would send a dispatch with that.
This was rubbish! And I said so as it would take some 14 days for the convoy to reach the north Anna could be dead by then. But my ranting were to no avail this was the course of action that was decided on.

Now my rage changed to cold resolution at this and I was determined to do something though what I had no idea.
A germ of a plan crept into my head - I would go north find the army and plead with them to save Anna!
If I had been rational I would have realised that this plan was simply ridiculous and really not feasible but I was not totally rational because by now my mind was decided on a course of action and to this end was my future actions were crystal clear so I started planning.

First to the study to find a map of Portugal this I did and copied out the shortest route to Vimioso.
Then I found my brother’s arms chest and selected two pistols and a supply of powder and shot.
I was thanking my lucky stars that my William had taught me how to shoot both a pistol and his beloved Baker Rifle.
A horse was next so to that end I asked one of the servants where I could purchase a sturdy horse – not a steed but a capable sturdy mount that had endurance.
I also purchased a mule to carry my supplies and arranged to pick them up the next day after Edward had left for the Delegation
This done I then got some loose trousers and shirt like what the local men wore also a cap to conceal my hair also some sturdy boots.
Next I bought basic supplies bread, cheese, dried meat some rice and a skin for my water all of which I hid at the stables – I told the old woman there that I was going to search for my betrothed who was with the army.
She laughed calling me a silly girl, but wishing me good luck at the same time then she told me to be careful as bands of robbers deserters and partisans roamed the roads looking for lone travellers.
I was now ready some what hot and dishevelled I arrived home to change for supper.

When I look at the plans I made and the way I carried out the different parts I was leaving big signposts for my pursuers to follow – I was under no misapprehension that I would be looked for once it was found that I was missing.

Historical Note The Peninsular was lasted a long time from 1807 to 1813 it mainly was conducted in Spain where the country had risen up against Napoleon Bonaparte.
When Spain asked for British assistance Portugal was used as a staging post until the capture of Cadiz though a military presence was maintained in Portugal.
In Spain and Portugal, the populace were inured to hardship, were suspicious of foreigners and were versed in ways of life—such as banditry and smuggling—that were characterised by violence and involved constant skirmishes with the security forces.
The conviction of General Bigarre became the foundation of the phenomenon of the ‘Customs Guards and Smugglers’ who covered the whole of the country under the Prince of the Peace a certain Captain Blaze saying “That as the Spaniards were accustomed to extol the exploits of the robbers and smugglers, the chieftains have been in readiness to become chiefs of the guerrillas".
In the same way, it has been claimed that enlightened absolutism made less progress in Spain and Portugal than elsewhere, with the result that the reforms of the new regime (France) grated on them far more than would have been the case. Tantamount to suggesting that resistance was the product of backwardness—or as the French would have put it, of savagery, ignorance and want of civilisation—this latter argument could be supplemented by arguing that Spain was Catholic and therefore given over ipso facto to obscurantism, superstition and counter-revolution.
Common French complaints as they grappled with occupying such an independent and spirited Spanish citizenry was that Spain was at least a century behind the rest of Europe in knowledge and the progress of social habits. Spain's insularity and the severity of its religious institutions had prevented the Spaniards from taking part in the disputes and controversies that had agitated and enlightened Europe.
Hatred of the French and devotion to the Motherland were not the only reason to join the Partisans.
The French imposed restrictions on movement and on many traditional aspects of street life, so opportunities to find alternative sources of income were limited—industry was at a standstill and many Señores were unable to pay their existing retainers and domestic servants thus could not take on new staff hunger and despair reigned on all sides.
Because the military record was so dismal, many Spanish politicians and publicists took exaggerated comfort from the activities of the guerrillas and elevated them to the status of national heroes, while the issue was exploited by factions determined to argue that the struggle against Napoleon was a people’s war.

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