The next morning, the suite was awakened by an early call from the Serelian embassy. “The yacht is ready,” George announced to the group. “I wouldn’t take to the mainland, but it’ll get us to Alemara and a proper dry-dock.” Five minutes later, they got another call, this time from Leslie. “His Majesty wants to take us to the port and see us off.” About an hour and fifteen minutes later, they met Leslie in the lobby for one more trip in the Land Rover to the port.
“When are Prince Peter and Julia being married?” asked Darlene.
“A week from today,” Leslie answered. “Peter wanted to do it sooner, but Her Majesty wanted a proper job, so she took charge of the situation and began preparations for the wedding. She wants it to be a celebration of many things. There will be many new things in this wedding.”
“Such as?” asked George.
“First, Julia’s brother is coming from the mainland to help officiate. Second, on the morning, they will travel to Beran; Pastor Vickers will give them a special blessing ceremony at his church. Then they will return in procession and be married in the main square in Aloxa, instead of the palace. We want for this to be a celebration of our people; they deserve it after this war. I know you need to get your yacht repaired, but is there any possibility of you coming back for the wedding?”
“We’d love to, but I’m afraid we have a lot of explaining to do back home,” George sighed.
“So do I,” Terry agreed. “But we’ll be waiting for them.”
“All of us,” George added.
They shortly reached the marina, where they got off. George, Darlene and Cathy went on to the boat, but Leslie delayed Terry.
“So it’s done now—you have met your goals for this place, and you have probably saved us in the bargain,” Leslie said.
“I never really wanted it to turn out in this way,” Terry replied. “It’s like it’s always been—they speak love, practice hatred, and force you to do things you didn’t want to do. But it is done, and I cannot thank you and your nation enough for your sacrifice.”
“You too have made this sacrifice, but someday,” Leslie added, “we will all be rewarded for it.” With that Terry took her leave and went on board; within a few minutes they were under way, gliding through the last of the fog, leaving the jetty to port and heading out to sea.
They had a full crew; in addition to the four, they had a man from the Serelian embassy and one from the Aloxan foreign ministry, who was carrying a diplomatic pouch and other supplies for their embassy. The additional crew was also in case the fragile repairs they effected went awry. The men spent most of their time topside; the progress was slow due to the condition of the boat, but the weather was reasonable.
The girls, though, gathered in the forward stateroom for a long time together. The men could hardly get them out to fix lunch, to look at the ocean, or much of anything else; they spent virtually the entire time there, usually behind closed doors.
They had more important things to do. Terry was finally able to tell Cat the full story of her life after Verecunda, starting with her conversion experience and moving through her years at the retreat, then Drahla and the war, accenting her situation with Darlene and their reconciliation, which Terry believed to be one of many divine appointments in her life. Cat was moved to tears by the account; Terry then challenged her with the gospel presentation, and Cat prayed the sinner’s prayer and accepted Christ as her Lord and Saviour.
Up to then Darlene had been part spectator, part participant in the interaction between Terry and Cat. The forward stateroom, being at the bow of the ship, was triangular in shape, with the two bunks along the hulls forming a V-shape and nearly coming to the point at the forward end of the stateroom. Terry sat at that point on the starboard bunk, with Cat facing her directly and closely on the port one. Darlene was aft of Terry on her left.
When the crying and praying for and with Cat ended, Darlene’s status as a spectator vanished as she felt her hands being grasped by Terry’s in her own fashion. One of the many things Darlene had come to admire about her new friend was her moist skin, bequeathed to her by her Chinese and Italian ancestors, in contrast to Darlene’s dry and freckled hands.
But moist skin wasn’t what was on Terry’s mind then. She looked Darlene straight in the eyes and said, “What about you, Darlene? I know you’ve been raised in church, but do you want to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? Do you want to hold the hands of God forever?”
Darlene looked back into Terry’s dark eyes; she thought she was looking straight into eternity. It seemed that long for her response, too, but her mind was flooded with many thoughts. She knew better than either of the Verecundans what the term “Lord” meant. She remembered how, as an eight year old, she, along with her mother, siblings and estate staff, knelt and bowed en masse before her father when he became lord of the Amherst estate after the death of his own father, and having to refer to him as “Lord Amherst” in formal occasions. But her mind was also filled with recent events: her time with Terry at the dock and their reconciliation, their escape from Verecunda and Terry’s sermon at the Beran church, their triumphant entry into Verecunda marred by Terry’s collapse at the murder of her brother. Darlene also thought of the fact that now at last the knowledge of her status as a child of the kings of Beran would be common, bringing her even more responsibility than she already had.
She finally pulled herself together and, never turning her gaze away from Terry, said, “Yes, I do.” She paused; only the child of autocrats could make such a declaration with the certainty she did. “Very much.”
“Then you must do what Cat just did,” Terry answered. Terry led Darlene in the same prayer; the outpouring of emotion from that was even more intense that it was with Cat. Once the eyes were cleared, Terry spent the rest of their time together showing them what a Christian should do and answering their questions.
They reached Alemara about an hour and a half before sunset. The girls went on to the guest house while the men got the yacht to dry dock; George was late getting there, discovering that the girls had yet to run out of words. They all seemed to be exhilarated over something, but George couldn’t figure out what it was, and not even his wife would let him in on the secret.