‘Deirdre was unaware of all of the nuances passing between her carriage mates. She’d always been quite talkative, Magnet remembered.
“I wasn’t expecting we’d get the king’s chief bodyguard accompanying us on this trip!” Deirdre said. “He’s easy on my eyes, he is!”
Magnet noted that Mr. Sykes wasn’t near the open window when this opinion about him floated out. The carriage had pulled around to the back of the royal enclosure, where the guards slept, trained and ate. She watched as he disappeared inside the building for a moment and after a while came out with two guards. They had horses prepared and waiting for them, tied to a nearby railing. Magnet opened the carriage door as the guards approached, leading their horses.
“Hey, Miss!” said Deirdre, but Magnet was already trying to get her boot to fit on the step.
“Allow me,” said a deep male voice. Mr. Sykes certainly moved quickly. She took his hand and he helped her out. Then he was obliged to help Maridoe out too. Deirdre stayed in the carriage and gaped with big eyes.
“Miss Magnet and Miss Boumer,” said Rufus, bowing a bit. “May I present our two guards? This is Mr. Thom Tumlin and this is Mr. Benedict Stoor.”
“How do you do,” both she and Maridoe said. After a few pleasantries Deirdre backed out of the way. Rufus helped Magnet in and Tumlin helped Maridoe. Magnet liked the look of all four of the men sent to accompany them. Tumlin was about thirty, tall and square with brown hair and brown eyes. Stoor was a stocky, sandy-haired man with a crooked-tooth smile. Jersey turned around from the driver’s seat.
“Good cheer,” he beamed upon the company.
In a few minutes they were settled, Maridoe and Deirdre sharing a seat and Magnet in the unaccustomed best- being the daughter of a minor courtier and her mother carrying the title Lady Renato. Rufus gave the driver a short wave and at last they set off. Magnet felt pleasure settling inside her at the thought of seeing new places and journeying to a new kingdom and especially seeing her old friend Alishia again. She’d been worried all morning about her mother’s anger, but there was nothing she could do to fix that now. She may as well, since in God’s mercy she wasn’t to be saddled with the terrifying Miss Slyndig, enjoy every moment of the adventure. She was young and unlikely to be taken on such a trip again. She took a deep breath and smiled full into the faces of her two carriage mates. Maridoe seemed to catch a whiff of the delicate breeze of freedom that wafted in and grinned back. Deirdre just took up her opinions where she’d left off with them.
“Did you really have to get all the way out of the carriage just to meet a few guards?” said Deirdre, her voice loud enough to be overheard. “But one of those guards doesn’t look so bad, I guess! Maybe I should’ve gotten out so he could hold my hand too!”
Magnet noted Deirdre’s voice did indeed float out clearly to the men riding beside the carriage, for she could see their expressions change. But none of them seemed bothered by it. They could be reassured Deirdre thought one of the guards good looking enough to hold her hand, although the girl hadn’t indicated which one was so fortunate to gain her good opinion.’