|Newport RI Mansion Gate|
by Tim Archibald
If you can imagine how this gate might look if it were neglected for 100 years, then it may resemble the gate at Rottly. :)
The king shook his head slowly. His face was ashen, and, for a moment, his eyes showed the pain he felt. With this decision, his son would likely be banished forever. He knew it, and yet he could not bring himself to say the words.
"The Rottly Place?" Tatum said, startled. He swung his head to stare at Ronald. "Why the Rottly Place? No one has lived there for over a century. It's abandoned."
"That's what I thought, too," Ronald said with a shrug. "But I saw a bit of smoke there when I passed it yesterday. I figured Grayson was the only one crazy enough to be living there."
"Must be a tramp," Tatum mused.
"Brave tramp," Barnes said, idly winding a piece of ribbon around his finger. "Most folks think the place is haunted."
"Oh, my," Annie exclaimed, looking up at the mansion. "It's scary-looking, isn't it?" She shivered. "But then, maybe it will be better inside," she said, hopefully.
"Don't count on it," Grimm muttered underneath his breath.
The manservant, Chauncey, carried the silver tray up the grand staircase to the dark rooms where his master lay in bed.
"Breakfast, sir," Chauncey announced cheerfully, as he set the tray on a table by the bed. He could barely discern the shadowy outline of the man reclined in the bed. "Church bells are ringing this morning," Chauncey told him, hoping the peeling of the bells were a joyful sound to his master.
"Are they?" responded his master. It was an effort at civility, not that the master cared for or noticed the church bells. But even the act of speaking seemed painful and laborious. Chauncey's heart felt pity for this man, so lost did he seem.
Chauncey laid out the tray and then crossed the room to the window, pulling the heavy curtains open. Light flooded into the room, and Chauncey rejoiced to see it. Gloominess did not suit him, and he was sure that every beat of his heart rebelled against the darkness.
"I prefer the curtains closed," moaned the man in the bed.
"But, sir, if you won't have fire, at least have sunlight," urged Chauncey. He turned from the window to face his new master.
Truth be told, Belle didn't feel very much like eating either. She had cried all her tears already; now she only wanted to curl up in her bed and wait for the heaviness to go away. Sleep would make everything better...she hoped.
Little James quaked with indecision. Did this woman fall under the "don't speak to strangers" rule or the "be respectful of your elders" rule? He wasn't sure.
"Secrecy," said the master in a low tone. "Remember you are sworn to secrecy."
Chauncey swallowed hard and felt his heart start beating again. "Yes, sir...secrecy," he stammered. "I will not forget."
Belle stared down at her autumn bouquet. "Perhaps I will commit my life to the service of the church and never marry," she murmured, thoughtfully.
Her papa's eyes twinkled. "I think not," he said.
Chauncey smiled again. "Keep a chin up, Miss Annie," he said. "Nothing is ever as bad as it seems."
A missing prince was bad news. Missing princes have a terrible habit of turning up at the wrong times...