Coach and Four: Allisandra's Tale
physician prescribe brandy now and then as a medicinal recourse? So she accepted the drink, and thanked him quietly. He, too, repeated the action and then put the flask away into his pocket.
     
Allisandra leaned her head back. Though there was nothing comfortable about the seventeenth-century coach, not even a duchess's, for all the velvet in the world could not disguise a rough road or the effects of travelling upon it. But she must have been tired, for she felt suddenly comfortable enough to sleep/. Sleep?/ What was she thinking? For here she was, being abducted! By the rake-hell John Wilton! The king would know of this, she would see to that! Yet, the man was keeping his distance....and she felt so very sleepy....And that was the last thing she remembered.....
     
M'lord, 'at was 'is Majesty's coach just run by us!”
     
The carriage had stopped, and Allisandra came awake with a jolt. Her head was resting against Lord Dorchester's shoulder, and he had one arm wrapped around her to support her. As soon as she grew aware of it, she removed the offending arm from about her, and moved herself over on the cushion with haste.
     
Dorchester was frowning at the liveried servant speaking to him from the open door. He had heard the other coach pass, guessing whose it might be. Now he knew for sure. He knew, too, where the king was going, marveled that they had not met sooner, and would feel better when more distance was between them. There would be others in the king's retinue with whom they had yet to meet, but they should not prove to be problematic.
     
He gave orders not to stop again unless he directed them to, and the coach resumed its barreling pace forward. They would have to make haste.
     
Allisandra's brain was fully awake, now. Could it really have been the King passing? Perhaps she might have hope of a rescue. Lord Dorchester had spoken of rescuing her, but that was absurd. She needed rescuing from him. As the King's ward, she was entitled to royal protection. There had to be a way she could make her presence known when the royal entourage passed by following His Majesty. She sat, trying to think what to do.
     
Dorchester was sitting back in thought as well.
     
“The King's coach 's stopped, melord!” The shout came from one of the postilions on the back of the carriage, and Dorchester frowned. His pulse quickened a little in excitement, though, as the thought of a possible encounter almost appealed to him. It was only on Allisandra's account that he wished to go unnoticed.
     
Allisandra’s pulse also had quickened—with hope. “Hadn't you ought to speak to the king?” she asked.
     
He didn't look at her. And made no answer.
     
“They have seen us; He'll know you are ignoring him!”
     
At this he turned to say, “It is the duchess who appears to be ignoring him, as this is her equipage.” She had forgotten that, and her heart sank.
     
They both heard the sound of more vehicles approaching—the king's retinue! Dorchester quickly put out the lamp, and listened... When the noise grew sufficiently loud to be almost upon them, Allisandra, in a flash of inspiration, pulled off an expensive shoe from one foot and thrust it forcefully against the opposite wall of the coach. To her great satisfaction, the vehicle began slowing down. She stole a glance at the earl who gave her a mild look of reproach, but then he pounded thrice against the same wall, very deliberately, for he had his own coachman who knew his code, and they picked up speed once more.
     
There would be no stopping; there was no way to let anyone know she was there.
     
The road grew silent after the three coaches carrying courtiers and ministers and servants passed by and they were alone again. Allisandra's attempt to solicit help had failed, and she settled against the wall, away from the earl, with a heavy heart.
     
     
     
###
     
When the King's stately carriage had first passed the duchess's, one of the ministers of state had been

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