The next morning Terry and William came to visit King Adam once again. Instead of the formality of the throne room, they went to the Sea Garden, which was a combination of garden and porch that overlooked the beach. When they arrived, they were greeted by Adam and Annette, along with George. It was a delightful venue; they could sea and hear the ocean waves break on the beach and feel the sea breeze while sitting under the portico with beautiful flowers, bushes and trees. Once the coffee and tea service was set, Adam dismissed all of the servants; George personally checked around to make sure they had complete privacy before they started. Terry could see the occasional palace guard walking up and down the beach.
“You look like you didn’t sleep well last night,” Annette said, noticing Terry’s tired countenance.
“No, Your Majesty, I didn’t,” Terry replied.
“I am deeply sorry for what happened yesterday evening,” Adam said. “I have never seen such an incident at a reception.”
“May I make one personal note?” Terry asked, almost interrupting.
“Go ahead,” the King replied.
“My brother could not resist bringing up many things in my past that I am not proud of,” Terry began. “And I am not happy to see these things brought up. But the God who has brought me through the tragedies of the last few years brought me out of these things to begin with. If I am suitable for whatever task we agree to do, it will be on His account, not mine.”
“It is a tragedy then,” Adam observed, “that we could not all be the beneficiaries of this divine aid. But perhaps we can, in some way, make up for the time and blood we have lost.”
“So mote it be,” George added.
“Well then,” Adam continued, “let us come to the matters before us. My son and I—and Her Majesty, I might add—have discussed the matter of Verecunda at length in recent times. After his return from Barlin, he relayed your willingness to come and discuss with us a mutually agreeable course of action regarding this. So, I would like to set forth our proposal for your consideration.
“Serelia and Verecunda have had a long and happy relationship with each other—one that has not, admittedly, met with your approval. This relationship is exceptional because Verecunda has generally taken an isolationist view with regards to the rest of the Island, even when it was plainly evident that involvement would have been beneficial to them. I think it unwise for any nation to reconsider such a long alliance without good cause.
“Nevertheless, I would be less than candid with you if I did not tell you that our ally has of late done some things that are not consistent with our past relationship. This is not to say that it is our intention now to abandon this relationship, but I think it would be wise for us to inform ourselves of Verecunda’s current state, its future intentions, and also its interaction with some of our neighbours. Once we are better informed, we can set a better course.
“Therefore, it is our idea that His Highness, Prince George, and Your Excellency should embark on a joint state visit that would include not only Verecunda but those states that are directly between them and ourselves. We will furnish you the Royal Yacht for suitable transportation. For the sake of propriety, we think it wise for the Princess Darlene to travel with you.” At that George’s face showed momentary distress. “We also would be happy, if he feels it necessary for his own government’s sake, that His Highness, Prince William, can also accompany the party.”
“His Majesty, my father, reposes complete confidence in his Royal Counsellor, so my presence on this voyage is, in our opinion, superfluous,” William said.
“Very well,” Adam went on, “in view of the seamanship skills of both the Prince and the Royal Counsellor, I think it unnecessary—and possibly a security risk—for further crew, so I will assign His Highness’ lackey for other duties in his absence.”
“My Lord in Barlin would have done the same thing,” Terry chimed in, realising that she was now part of the crew.
“Great minds think alike,” George merrily interjected, but seeing his father’s stern countenance, added, “Sorry.”
“I trust that this proposal meets with your approval?” Adam asked, looking at William.
“Very much so,” he replied. “When should this journey begin?”
“The day after tomorrow—I will give orders to have the yacht ready for sea. You”—he looked at Terry—“and Princess Darlene need to familiarise themselves with the craft and with the outline of the journey—I have already gone over things with my son.” They spent the next little while discussing the upcoming voyage and other matters of mutual interest, in the middle of which came lunch.
After lunch, Terry and William left. When they got away from the palace, Terry said to William, “You certainly didn’t put up any opposition to his plan.”
“I think there are many in Drahla who would like things to ‘get back to normal’ in the East Island. I think this joint effort will go a long way to making that happen,” William said. “By the way, I’ll be leaving tomorrow afternoon—and I’ll let everyone know that a Serelian yacht will pass by, but don’t shoot at it.”
“That’s very kind of you.”
Terry arrived at the dock around 1500, which was a small marina on Lake Serelia just below the inlet, protected by a jetty. She wasn’t sure what to expect out of a Royal Serelian Yacht, but what she was presented with was an old but well kept up yacht named the King Albert. It was about 16 metres long and just under four metres beam. Both deck and hull were wood, and the servants were doing some last minute cleaning, painting and provisioning. George spent the next hour giving Terry and Darlene an overview of the craft. Terry was well experienced with ships but it had been a long time since she had cruised in one as nice as this. Darlene was raised inland so she had only been a passenger on the yacht during family outings.
During the tour, Darlene noticed some things not to her liking, so she set the servants to work on them. George and Terry stood on the dock, taking in the fine day. Terry sniffed the air and didn’t seem too happy with what she was taking in.
“Your Highness, I hate to be undiplomatic, but this lake of yours stinks,” Terry said.
“That’s another one of our problems with Verecundans,” George sighed. “During the war we had several outbreaks of disease as a result of this lake, so we asked the Verecundans to make a proposal for a sewage system that would take care of it. The system the Ministry of the Environment came back with was so expensive that their own Central Bank and Ministry of Finance refused to finance it—they said our economy wasn’t large enough to sustain it. So we went to the organisation that put in the system the Alemarans have, and they proposed a system about a third of the cost, with their own financing. Well, the Ministry of the Environment, complaining that this system wasn’t ‘environmentally acceptable,’ ran up here with your brother and talked my father out of it. So we’re no better off than we were before. That’s what I mean—it’s always something with these people.”
They spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting the boat ready. William got to tour it and they spent more time with the royal family.