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Eagle Chronicles: Prologue

Title: Prologue
Series: The Eagle Chronicles
Word Count 6617
Summary A family's life is shaken when there is a change of power in England
Author's NoteI started this series when I was in high school (over 20 years ago!) and not in order. This was actually done later and some of the foreshadowing might be a little heavy handed. The action picks up in the next installments when the main character grows up. The icon I will be using for all these installments was created by rstmac




PROLOGUE

Good Night Sweet Prince


London, 1924

The young boy hid in his wardrobe and waited for his nanny to come fetch him for tea. He knew that his mother wouldn't appreciate his little prank, but then, she probably knew where he was. This thought brought a tear to his eye as he remembered seeing her laid out at her wake only last year. His nanny said that she was in a better place--with God in Heaven. The night of the funeral, he had crawled into bed and slept with his father.

The boy heard his little sister call out from the nursery. He also heard the nanny talking to her. "And where has your brother gone? Is he in his room? We'll go and look for him, then."

He prepared to jump out at them as they walked through the connecting door. His sister toddled towards the wardrobe and tried to open it. "Go away," he said to her in his mind. "Go away."

"Come away from there. We don't want you messin' with your brother's clothes. He's
probably off dreamin' somewhere." The nanny picked up the girl and prepared to go.

"BOO!" he cried as he jumped out of the wardrobe. His sister clapped her hands and
laughed. After her initial surprise, the nanny joined in. "I fooled you, didn't I? For a minute, I thought Anne was going to give me away."

"Come, now, Your Highness, it's time for tea. Your father may join us today."

Prince James Stuart of England watched as the nanny placed Anne in her highchair and gave her some juice. She then poured James a small cup of tea and gave him a pastry. She then poured a cup for herself.

"You said Father would join us."

"I said maybe. He's a very busy man. It's hard work to run a country."

"I'll run this country someday. I'll do a good job, too."

"I'm sure you will," said a male voice.

James turned around. "Father!" He pushed out his chair and turned to him.

King James III picked up his son and gave him a hug. "So how's my boy today?"

"I'm fine." His father put him down. "I scared Maggie by jumping out of my wardrobe at her." His father laughed.

Maggie stood and poured the King's tea and handed it to him as he sat down by his
daughter's chair. "Thank you, Maggie." He took a sip. "How have they been today?"

"Very good, Your Majesty. I was planning on taking them for a walk in the garden after tea now that the rain has stopped."

"An excellent idea. I'm going to be engaged in a conference this afternoon and will need some quiet. Also, on your way out, tell Mary to set another place for dinner. My brother will be staying."

"Yes, sir." She wiped away the jelly that had gathered around Anne's mouth then took her out of the chair.

James wiped his face and hands on his napkin. What's the conf'rence about, Father?"

"There are some people in the country that don't want me to be king anymore."

"Can they do that?"

"It's happened before to our family because of religious differences."

"Why don't they want you to be king?"

"I'm not really sure. That's what the conference is for." He rubbed James' hair. "Now go with Maggie and behave yourself."

"Yes, Father." James ran outside with Maggie and Anne.

***********************************************************

James noticed all the cars pulling into the courtyard and realized that his father's conference was beginning. He saw that Maggie was on the other side of the garden trying to keep Anne from eating the flowers, so he hid in the bushes right below the study window. He heard his father greet the visitors. "Charles, how bad is it?" his father asked as soon as everyone was settled.

"Very bad," a young man's voice answered. James recognized it as his uncle's. "The
Saxe-Coburgs of the old Hanover line have changed their name to Windsor and are pushing to regain the throne. The eldest, Edward, has quite a following that could prove dangerous. There was a demonstration early this week that drew a large crowd of supporters. I'm worried that we may not be able to hold them back."

James heard Maggie calling him and didn't want his father to know he had been
eavesdropping so he cautiously ran to her.

"And where were you? It's time for your evening lesson."

***************************************************************

As the time passed, James forgot the conversation he had overheard. He very rarely saw his father and spent more time with Maggie and Anne. Three months later, in May 1925, there was a tension in the palace and James' temper was not untouched. He continuously got into arguments with Maggie and ran off to be alone.

One time he hid in a corner of the garden by the wall. In trying to release his anger, he began to throw pebbles against the wall. He stopped when he heard harsh voices coming from the other side. "Windsor is ready to take over the throne and rid us of the Frugal Scot."

"When will he be ready to move?"

"I don't know, but soon." The men walked away.

The name of Windsor brought back what his uncle had said about the Saxe-Coburgs wanting to regain the throne. He had to tell someone what he had heard.

He ran back into the palace. "Maggie! Maggie!" He found her in the nursery with Anne. "I've got to tell you something!"

"You've come back to apologize," said Maggie.

"No, it's more important than that!"

"Then I shan't listen to you until you apologize."

"Okay, I'm sorry."

"You don't mean it. I want you to go to your room until you do."

"But, Maggie--"

"I'm sorry, Your Highness, but you must be taught a lesson."

James stayed in his room until he was called for dinner. During the meal, he didn't say a word. Maggie tried to get him to speak, but he was too angry with her. After the meal, he went back up to his room and worked on his lessons before he fell asleep.

*********************************************************************

His uncle leaning over him awakened him later that night. "C'mon, Jamie, you have to get up."

James sat up and rubbed his eyes. "What is it, Uncle Charles? What time is it?"

"Don't worry about that, just get dressed quickly and quietly. I'm going to dress Anne. When you're done, come to her room." He went through the door to the nursery.

James dressed slowly because he wasn't fully awake. He didn't even ask "why" because he was in a dream-state. He sat on his bed and to tie his shoes and almost fell back to sleep. He walked to his window and was amazed at how different London looked in the dark. He opened the window and listened to the quiet that enveloped the city.

His uncle came in with Anne in his arms. "Get away from the window!" he said in a harsh whisper. James did so. "Are you done? Let me see. Good, let's go. Quietly, down the servants' stairs." James thought this unusual and pretended he was a spy in an adventure and had to sneak past the enemy.

Once outside, Charles took the lead with Anne bundled in his arms and James trotting closely behind him. In the fresh air, James' mind cleared and he began to ask questions. "Why are we leaving? Are we going to see Father?"

"No, he won't be where we're going but he told me to take you."

"Is that Windsor man behind it?"

Charles was surprised. "How did you hear about him?"

"When you had that conf'rence in Father's study. I hid in the bushes outside the window and heard you mention him. Today, after I had a fight with Maggie, I hid in the garden by the wall and I heard two men talk about him and say that they would be rid of the 'Frugal Scot' soon. What did they mean by that?"

"I'm not quite sure," Charles lied. "We'll soon be at our destination then you can get some more sleep. When you wake up, I'll tell you what happened."

James barely remembered when they reached their destination, but all he knew was that it was an ocean liner. His uncle said something to the man at the ticket office and they boarded. Charles laid Anne in the middle of the bed then helped James change. The boy fell asleep with no trouble.

*************************************************************************

When James awoke the next morning, he heard seagulls calling and saw round little windows. He then remembered that he was on a ship and that last night wasn't a dream. His sister and uncle were already up and he could hear them in the bathroom. He changed his clothes then knocked on the bathroom door. "Come in, Jamie," his uncle said. "I was waiting for you to get up." James saw that he had shaved off his mustache. Charles noticed his expression. I had to shave it. It's time I told you why we left London. Your father asked me to take the two of you away. Things were becoming hard in England and he wanted you to be safe."

"Will he join us later?" James asked.

"He said he would try and join us as soon as he could." Charles knelt by James and held him by the shoulders. "We have to go by different names. We don't want anyone to know we're here. My name will be John Taylor and you will be my nephew Steven Taylor and Anne will be my niece Sara Taylor. You must remember to answer to your new name and to call me Uncle John. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Uncle John," James/Steven answered.

"Good. Let's go to breakfast."

***************************************************************************

James began to get used to being called "Steven"--it seemed almost natural. Anne responded to "Sara" only after a few days. Uncle Charles/John helped him with his lessons and the captain even let him onto the bridge. There was no one his age on the ship, mainly recently married or elderly couples. Some of those couples let him sit with them and play cards or join in a game of shuffleboard. They also had a soft spot for Anne and her big brown eyes. Everyone called them "darling little Sara" and "polite gentlemanly Steven".

After playing cards with an elderly couple named Collins, James/Steven and Anne/Sara went to the dining room to meet their uncle and saw that he was not alone. A woman was sitting with him. Anne ran over and gave him a hug. "Where have you two been? Enjoying yourselves?"

"Steven was playing cards. I watched." James was glad that she remembered to call him by the right name.

"This is Stephanie Blake. She is from Connecticut. Where is that, Steven?"

"The area of America they call New England," James responded out of reflex. He looked at the woman. She seemed quite pretty. She had dark brown--almost black--hair and hazel eyes. She was close to the same as his uncle who seemed to like her. "What's it like?" he asked.

"It's wonderful. Lots of trees, lakes, ponds, and especially, fresh air."

"She has invited us to visit her there if we want. What do you think?"

"I'd like to," said James.

"Me, too," said Anne.

"That settles it," replied Stephanie with a smile.

*************************************************************************

Two days before the ship was due to dock in New York, the news arrived from London.
King James III of Great Britain was dead, killed in an uprising for the throne. The young Prince of Wales and his sister were missing, as was the King's brother, the duke of York.

Charles was very nervous those last two days. He thought that there were Windsor spies onboard who recognized him and the children. He knew he couldn't let the Stuart line die out. Even if they never regained the throne, it was still one of the most well-known families in Britain. He knew there were clans in Scotland that were still loyal, but he didn't want another Culloden on his conscience. They'd all be safer in America. They would disappear into the hills of Connecticut and no one would ever suspect their true identities.

Stephanie said they could travel with her to Connecticut if they wished. "Thank you," said Charles, "but we must tell someone that we want to become citizens. That should take some time."

"I'll leave you my number and the directions to get to my house," she said as she wrote. "Right now, I'm staying with my father at his boarding house and maybe I can put in a good word for you and, hopefully, there'll be a room for you when you arrive."

"That's very kind of you. I hope we won't be intruding."

"No, not at all. I'm sure the children will love Greenwich." She knelt by the children. "I'll be seeing you soon. Behave yourselves." She rose and gave Charles a quick kiss. "Good luck." She walked down the gangplank. "You'll want to go to City Hall. A taxi can take you. I'd stay but I might miss my train!" She waved and continued down.

*************************************************************************

They arrived in Greenwich, Connecticut two days later and they were directed to the Blake Boarding House. Stephanie greeted them with hugs and kisses then introduced them to her father who said he only had an attic room for them to share. Charles thanked him. "We don't mind. We shared a room on the ship and this will be a lovely change." He looked at James. "Won't it, Steven?"

"Yes, Uncle John," he replied. "It will be big compared to that."

Mr. Blake smiled. "Stephanie will have to show you to your room. I have a few things to take care of."

Stephanie picked up one of their small bags and James picked up the other. Charles carried Anne upstairs. "How did everything go in New York? What did Immigration have to say?"

"Because of the delicate situation in England and the fact that I worked for the old
government, there should be no problem in procuring a citizenship. They asked about the children's medical records and vaccinations and gave us all a thorough examination. I gave them this address and phone number. I hope you don't mind."

"Not at all. I want to help you any way I can." She stopped at the top of the stairs and opened the door. "Here it is." The room was quite big with a sloping ceiling and two bow windows. There were two beds, a desk, chair, large bureau, and a walk-in closet.

Steven walked in and stared in wide-eyed wonder. Even though he had known luxurious
rooms, this one was so different, so personal. He walked to one of the windows and saw a little boy playing. "Who's that?" he asked Stephanie.

"John Fitzgerald. He's close to your age, I think. I'll introduce you later. Are you hungry after your trip?"

***************************************************************************

As promised, the next day Stephanie introduced Steven to John Fitzgerald and the two
became close, inseparable friends. They played all summer long and spent all day, every day, together.

In July, John received word from the government and they offered him a job with their intelligence department. He accepted, hoping his information would help his England. He told his news to Stephanie. "I'll have to go to Washington before I settle down close to home. Before I go, however, I want to ask you something."

"I'll take care of the children as if they were my own."

"That's good to know because what I want to ask is, will you marry me?"

"I've only known you for three months," she replied, surprised, "but I feel like I've known you all my life. Yes, I'll marry you." She kissed him.

That night at dinner they told their respective families. Stephanie's father was ecstatic. "A government employee in the family. A nice steady job with pension." John smiled knowing that intelligence was far from steady.

Steven was a bit surprised. He liked her, but wasn't sure if he could get used to her acting like a mother, she seemed more like a sister or a friend. He then looked at his uncle's happy face--he was always smiling when he was with Stephanie. He smiled in return then gave Stephanie a hug and a kiss. Sara didn't understand what was going on and Steven tried to explain it to her. "Uncle John is going to marry her and she'll be part of the family. You can pretend she's an older sister."

"Oh." She smiled and clapped her hands. She then toddled over to Stephanie and tugged on her sleeve. Stephanie bent down and Sara gave her a kiss. "I love you, Stiffy!"

"I love you, too, Sara."

Two days later, John prepared to leave for Washington. He took the two children aside. "When I'm gone, I want you to behave yourselves and do whatever Stephanie says. Okay?" They both nodded. "Good." He kissed them both good-bye, stepped into the waiting taxi, and waved from the back seat as it drove away.

************************************************************************

John Taylor walked into the Intelligence Offices and told the secretary he had an
appointment. "Yes, Mr. Taylor. If you'll follow me."

He was shown into the director's office. "Ah, Mr. Taylor, do sit down. I'd like to thank you for coming all the way from Connecticut."

"Good jobs are hard to come by without citizenship."

"Yes, well... I have gone over your story. With your credentials from British Intelligence, I'm sure you'll be a great help to us here. Now, tell me about yourself."

John took a deep breath and prepared to tell his story. He only lied about his name and downplayed his actual position in the old government. "That's about it, sir. Before my brother died, he asked me to bring his children to the States."

"What are their names again?"

"Steven is almost five and Sara is three. They're staying with my fiancée in Connecticut."

"How long have you been engaged?"

"Two days."

"I wish you luck with it."

"Thank you, sir. Is there anything else you need to know?"

"Just one thing: why did you decide to join us? In your situation, I would have just stayed comfortable in Connecticut."

"Let's just say that this whole thing has become somewhat personal. I want to make it better for the King's lost children--if they ever make it back."

"I've arranged for you to have a job in New York--purely a desk job for 'beginners'. As you progress, you can go up the ladder. Soon, you just might be able to go back to England."

"Thank you very much, sir," John said as he rose from his chair. "You won't regret this."

On the train ride back to Greenwich, John thought about his brother. Everything had seemed to be going fine until the Windsors decided to ruin it all by fighting for the throne. Maybe it was just part of the Stuart heritage; to be chased out of England, or to be killed. He just hoped that the children would make it back to London someday and not to have to hide their identities.

**********************************************************************************

John worked as an analyst in the New York offices of the Secret Service, solving
hypothetical situations. He felt it kept his mind nimble and in practice as he learned the ins and outs of American Intelligence. At home, things were progressing smoothly. The children had become accustomed to their new lives and acted as if it was all they had ever known. James, no, Steven--it was even dangerous to think their names--asked some questions about "before" and John hedged around the truth so as not to trouble his nephew's young life. Stephanie enjoyed their company and took them for outings to the park and the museum. She had even interested Steven in reading! He was glad that they liked her so much because, if anything ever happened to him, all they would have was each other.

John and Stephanie were married in October at the Second Congregational Church at the corner of the Post Road and Maple Avenue, said to be the highest point in Greenwich. Steven was the ring-bearer and Sara was the flower girl. They had no time to get away for a "real" honeymoon, so they spent the weekend at the Pickwick Hotel.

At Christmas, after the children had made a mess of the living room with torn wrapping paper, John made a toast to his late brother. "Al though he was never able to get away and meet us, he died knowing that his children were safe and might one day return to the land of their birth." He sat down, hoping it was ambiguous as possible. Stephanie smiled at him and he knew that even if they didn't return, they'd still have a rich and full life here in New England.

*************************************************************************************

One day in March as he came in the door, Stephanie greeted him with a large smile. "I have some wonderful news to tell you."

"I have some news too." He put down his hat and coat.

"You first."

"No." He could tell how excited she was. "You go first."

"Okay." She took a deep breath. "You're going to be a father!"

"What?" He couldn't believe his ears.

"I went to the doctor today and he told me I was in my second month. Isn't that wonderful?"

"Yes, it is." He didn't want to tell her his news after this.

"You don't sound too excited."

"I am, really."

"You said you had some news, too."

"I received a call from Washington today. They want me to leave for London the day after tomorrow."

"But that's wonderful! You've been wanting to go for ages."

"You don't understand. I'm a wanted man there. If I'm discovered, I could be executed for treason."

"But you'll have the protection of the government."

"I'm not a citizen. I've already been told that their protection goes only so far. If I get caught, the government will have to deny all knowledge of my activities so they can keep from creating an international incident." She didn't say anything and he put his arms about her and drew her to him. She rested her head on his shoulder and started to cry. "I didn't want to tell you, not after your great news, but I had to. I've already made an appointment with Mr. Mercer tomorrow to finalize some things. You know this has to be done. There's always the possibility that I won't come back." He lifted her chin. "No matter what happens, I want you to know that I love you. I always have and I always will." He kissed her gently then wiped
her tears.

Over her shoulder, he could see Steven watching. "Why is Aunt Stephanie crying?"

"She's crying because she's happy," John said. "She's going to be a mother."

Stephanie realized that he didn't want to tell the boy about England just yet. "And you're going to have a cousin."

Steven looked at them with a critical eye. "I hope it's a boy," he said finally. "I don't think I want another girl around the house."

John laughed at him and told him to wash for dinner.

**********************************************************************

The following day, John met with Mercer, his lawyer. "You've got the papers for all my holdings here and the name of my solicitor in London. He will contact you in case anything happens to me. You are to hold anything he tells you in the strictest confidence."

"Mr. Taylor, I gave you my word that your wishes will be obeyed to the letter. Everything will be held confidential, just like a priest in a confessional."

"I also want you to keep an eye on them, making sure they're cared for an don't need
anything."

"Certainly, Mr. Taylor. I'm sure there will be quite a few people in town who'll look after them. Don't you worry. Have you told the children yet?"

"No. I'm planning to tonight." He stood. "Thank you, Mr. Mercer. I hope to see you again." He shook the lawyer's hand.

"I hope so, too, Mr. Taylor." Mr. Mercer watched as John left the office with the strange sense of foreboding that he'd never leave the shores of England.

*******************************************************************************

That night, before they went to bed, John took Steven and Sara aside. "I have something to tell the two of you. Tomorrow I'm going back to London and I want you to stay here and take care of your Aunt Stephanie."

"Can't we go, too?" asked Sara.

"No, honey, I'm sorry. I'm going with some men from work and I'd be too busy to take care of you. You'll be much happier here." And safer, he added to himself.

"How long will you be there?" asked Steven, his small face serious.

"I'm not sure. I'll write whenever I can. Okay?" Steven nodded.

"I'm gonna miss you, Uncle John," Sara said, her eyes filling with tears.

"I'll miss you, too, the both of you." He held them in his arms for a long time, not knowing if he'd ever see them again. "Okay, go give hugs and kisses then it's time for bed."

*********************************************************************************

Stephanie woke in the middle of the night and found herself alone in their bed. She wrapped herself in her bathrobe and headed for the children's room. John was there, sitting on a chair between the beds, watching them. "John, come back to bed. It's late and you have an early start in the morning."

"I know." He turned and looked at her. "I'm doing this for them. It's a promise I made."

"You don't need to explain anything to me. Just come get some sleep."

"I'll be with you in a minute." She left. John stood and walked over to Sara. She had a smile on her face and one arm about the doll Stephanie had bought for her birthday. He kissed her on the forehead and tucked her in. He then looked over at Steven, a boy at 5-1/2 years who one day might be King of England. "Good-night, sweet prince," he said, before leaving the room.

The next morning he left before the children were awake. Stephanie kissed him good-bye on the front porch. "Be careful."

"Don't worry, I will. Take care of yourself. If there's any news, write to that address I gave you and they'll forward it to me." He blew her a kiss as he climbed into the waiting taxi.

She watched as it drove away and wished to God he didn't have to go. She knew it was selfish of her, but she had this terrible feeling that she'd never see him again. She walked back into the house, wrapping her robe tighter against the sudden chill.

*********************************************************************************

The closer the ship got to England, the tenser John became. The other agents only knew that he had worked for the former government and was nervous about being discovered. If they only knew the depth of his fear. They certainly wouldn't treat the duke of York as a highly respected dignitary. When he had looked at himself in the mirror that morning, he saw a much thinner man with a mustache. He should be able to pass a cursory examination but under close scrutiny, he could be discovered.

"Do you think your contacts will help us?" asked Ames, one of the other agents, joining him.

John looked up, startled. "Do you have to sneak up on me like that?"

"Sorry, I forgot I'm off duty." He rested his arms on the rail and looked out over the water.

"If you're so nervous about this, why did you volunteer? You have more to lose than the rest of us."

More than you think, John thought. "It has to do with a promise I made before I left. I'm going to try my best to see that it comes to be. As to your first question, I think they'll help us unless they've been arrested or bought out. Loyalty does have a price."

"Ain't that right. Blake said that we've got to meet someone at the Embassy once we reach London. We'll then find out where we're staying. All the arrangements have already been made." Ames stood. "I know I can't speak from experience about your exact situation, but a dose of whiskey and a good night's sleep really help me."

John smiled and thanked him. "I take it into consideration." That night he went to sleep with a bottle of Glenmorangie.

********************************************************************************

They were introduced to an important new contact their first night in London. They were in the reception room having cocktails when the resident agent broached the subject. "As I told you, we have a new informant from within the Palace walls." Blake and Ames raised their eyebrows in genuine surprise and John leaned forward in his seat, almost afraid to hear more. "He was a servant to the previous king and survived the purge because he wasn't a personal servant. Because he didn't spend time in close proximity to the family, he was considered harmless."

John crossed his fingers and prayed that the man wouldn't recognize him. However, when he entered the room, John knew his hopes were false. The man was Dan Collins, a groom from Balmoral. It had been about a year and a half since he had seen him--they had gone out hunting.

Collins looked at the three men, his eyes coming to rest on John, who stared right back, almost commanding him not to say anything. Blake and Ames each said hello and introduced themselves. John watched Collins' face as he was introduced. "Pardon my staring, Mr. Taylor, but you seem so familiar."

"Even though I was in British Intelligence, I never frequented royal circles."

This reply seemed to satisfy Collins. As they were leaving, John pulled him aside and whispered, "Not a word of this, understand, Collins? You're the only one who knows and I plan to keep it that way."

"And the children, m'lord? Are they safe?"

"For now. Just keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut."

"Yes, m'lord."

*************************************************************************

In the following months, John re-established his old contacts, none of whom knew his true identity. Collins informed them of the comings and goings at the Palace. Also through John's network, they were made aware of groups of Stuart supporters throughout the country.

There was one member of the network, however, who placed money above politics, willing to sell his information to the highest bidder. When he heard that British Intelligence was asking for information on any Stuart supporters, he decided to tell them of the ex-agent who had returned and was asking questions. He went to their offices and quoted his price. "It all depends on the information, Mr.--"

"Potter. Well, I'm what I like to call an information merchant, and I've been well-established in the business for quite a few years."

"We are aware of that fact," said the agent, whose name was Milton.

"Anyway, this man came to see me in March. He'd used me before, but I hadn't seen him since before the, um, 'change'. So he wants to renew old contacts, so I says sure, I could do with the money. He wanted to catch up on all that had happened since he left. I saw no harm and told him. More and more, he began to ask about what people thought of the Stuarts and if they would have the support. I don't know but put him in contact with those who might."

"And have you seen him recently?" asked Milton.

"About a fortnight ago. He said he'd be back. Should be in the next few days."

"We'll post a few agents at your place and you can point him out."

"You won't pick him up there, will you? It'll be bad for business."

"No, we'll follow him."

Two days later on October 10, 1926, after leaving Potter's shop, John was taken into
custody by British Intelligence. Ames and Blake saw what happened and reported it. There was nothing they could do, however, without admitting their involvement, which would cause an international incident. They could only watch from a distance.

******************************************************************************

John was taken to the Foreign Office in Whitehall and was left in a room to wait questioning. In his mind, he went over the story he had prepared for this. He was an ex-agent who had left the country because of his pro-Stuart leanings. He returned for the same reasons.

Agent Milton walked in and sat across the table from him. "Well, Mr. Taylor, what brings you back to England?"

"Back? What do you mean?"

"Don't play the innocent, Mr. Taylor. We've been told that you recently returned from America. Now, I'll repeat the question: what brings you back to England?"

Knowing that one of his informants had been bought out, John agreed to tell him. "I was in the intelligence game just like you, but left the country last May due to my 'beliefs'. I returned to learn the lay of the land, to see if I could start over."

"Does that include contacting known dissidents? That could be construed as traitorous."

"I made no actual threats against the government, or even plans. I have thought of it, but doesn't everyone when the person they've supported has lost? If that's all it takes to constitute a charge of treason, then I must be guilty."

Milton looked at him carefully. "I believe you for now, Mr. Taylor, but we'll have to keep you in custody until we find irrefutable proof as to your innocence." He stood and walked to the door. Another agent answered his knock. "Please escort Mr. Taylor to his cell. I'm sure one has been prepared for him."

"Yes, sir." The agent led John out of the room.

Milton stood in the doorway and watched as John was taken down the hall. Something
about him seemed very familiar and he was annoyed with himself because he prided himself on his memory. Taylor said he had been in Intelligence. He would just have to sift through the personnel files until he found Taylor.

*************************************************************************************

Stephanie received a telegram from Washington and her hands trembled as she opened it.

WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU...

She clutched the paper, and, after a quick prayer, continued.

"...THAT YOUR HUSBAND WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY BY BRITISH INTELLIGENCE ON THE CHARGE OF TREASON. WE WILL DO WHAT WE CAN BUT OUR HANDS ARE TIED. ADMITTING HE WAS WORKING FOR US MIGHT CAUSE AN INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT."

She crumpled the telegram into a ball and collapsed onto her bed, weeping. There was nothing worse than this.

*********************************************************************************

The day of the trial had arrived and Milton was no closer to discovering John Taylor's file. If he had worked in Intelligence, he had to be on record. There was no John Taylor on file. Instead, he had to search for a photo. When he was just about to give up, a sheet of paper with fingerprints and a photo attached fell out and landed on the table. Milton picked it up and stared. "What a fool I've been! It's so damned obvious!" He ran out the door and rushed to the Old Bailey.

*************************************************************************************

John sat in the dock and watched the trial as if it were happening to someone else. If they did find him guilty, it would be as "John Taylor" and not Charles Stuart. No questions would be asked about the children. A bailiff walked over to the prosecutor and handed him a sheet of paper. The prosecutor gave a lop-sided smile. "M'lord, I have just received some information that bears great import on the case. John Taylor is not this man's real name. He was born Charles Edward Stuart." The court went into an uproar and Charles hung his head in defeat.

The judge tried to bring order back into the court. "I want silence in this courtroom, or the public will be dismissed!" He turned to the prosecutor. "What exactly is this information that brings forth such a statement?"

"His fingerprints and photograph were taken upon his arrest. His claim to have been with Intelligence sent an agent looking through the files. He found what he was looking for; the name attached being Charles Edward Stuart."

A hush settled over the court as the judge turned to Charles. "Do you deny this, Mr. Taylor?'

"No," he replied softly.

"Speak up, please."

"No. I don't."

"Your full name is..."

"Charles Edward Stuart, duke of York."

The judge didn't know what to say. "This revelation has shed a new light on this case. I will call a recess until tomorrow."

Charles was led away to his cell.

*************************************************************************************

Charles' barrister confronted him "You could have told me! For God's sake, you made me seem a fool!"

"Would you have defended me knowing that I was the last Stuart? That certainly gives me a good motive for treason, doesn't it?"

"The last Stuart? What about the children?"

"Pneumonia. They both died during the crossing to South Africa."

"I thought you went to America."

"Yes, but I didn't take a direct course. That would have made it obvious."

"I hate to say this, but I don't think I'll be able to get you off the hook, as it were."

"No, I wouldn't think so. You might as well bow out now. There's no reason for you to stay on. With all the evidence they have, it's a foregone conclusion."

"You wouldn't think any less of me if I did?"

"Why should I? I don't think your career could use the notoriety."

"Thank you, your Grace. I'm terrible sorry..." He let the sentence drift.

"Don't worry. I came into this knowing the possible outcome. It was worth a try." He tried to smile encouragingly. The barrister knew the smile was forced.

Charles watched him leave then said a quick prayer of thanks that Stephanie and the children were safe in Connecticut.

*************************************************************************************

The case never returned to court due to the overwhelming evidence against Charles. Due to the seriousness of the crime, there was only one outcome: death. The only question was how. Nobility was usually executed at the block, but this was the twentieth century! Hanging was definitely out of the question as it was for common criminals. It was decided that a firing squad would be the most "dignified" way. Charles agreed and the date was set.

*************************************************************************************

On November 9, Stephanie received a second telegram and knew what it contained.

"YOUR HUSBAND WAS EXECUTED ON NOVEMBER 7, 1926 FOR TREASON AGAINST THE BRITISH CROWN. HE KNEW THAT THIS WAS A POSSIBLE END. YOU MUST KNOW THAT HE DIED STANDING UP FOR HIS BELIEFS."

Stephanie walked over to the crib and looked down on her two-day old daughter. "Even though you'll never know your daddy, I'll make sure you never forget him."

That evening she told the children that their uncle had died. Sara cried and Stephanie hugged and tried to comfort her. Steven stoically tried to console them, his young mind telling him that he was the man of the family now. That night in bed, however, he let his tears flow as he hugged his teddy bear. "Steven?" he heard Sara whisper. He sat up and helped her climb into bed and let her curl up next to him. They had to take care of each other now and he would let nothing hurt her, Stephanie or his new cousin Sheila. Nothing.

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