The next day they returned to Barlin. True to Terry’s expectations, she had a lot of explaining to do to the King, including her new house guest. But this was soon smoothed over and things began to return to the routine by the lake.

The Serelian royal yacht was in dry dock for two days, but George and Darlene used the time to rest and be together. The yacht repaired, they returned to Serelia to a decidedly reserved reception. King Adam, however, was more filled with sadness over the fate of Verecunda than with anxiety over the Aloxans’ new position. George, however, had a more urgent matter to discuss.

“Why didn’t you tell me the details about what the Verecundans were proposing?” George asked his father. “I felt like I was as much in the dark as Terry was.”

“When Richard first presented his concept to me,” Adam replied, “he was short on details. It took me most of our first meeting to pull out of him that these were in fact loans, and that they would need extensive collateral for them. I realised that this would involve a lot of control passing to them, which cooled my interest in his propositions, to say the least.

“After the first meeting, they demanded that we sign a ‘letter of intent’ with them before they would actually lay out the program they had in mind. With the lack of substantial information I was getting, I had no intention of doing anything of the sort. As you remember, they kept parading one minister after another with all kinds of ‘teasers,’ but wouldn’t go any further. So I had enough information to be suspicious but not enough to turn my suspicions into action. My fear though, was that, if you did something rash, our relationship with them would be over. That’s why I put you off for so long.”

Towards the end of the week, the Aloxan newlyweds, after a leisurely voyage through Verecunda and Alemara, arrived in Serelia. They spent the first part of their time in Serelia at the Amherst’s own lodge in the Claudian Islands, where Darlene had spent so much of her time longing for George. On Good Friday, they returned to the palace in Serelia. On Easter Monday there was an announcement: George and Darlene were expecting their first child around Christmastime.