Chapter 28: After the Attack

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Charlotte hid under the canvas of one of the lifeboats stored on the stern of the ship. Once night had fallen and she could be sure of Monsieur's return to the cabin, she emerged from under cover. Monsieur was relieved to see her. He had been worried about her absence, wondering where she might be so late into the evening.

Upon hearing of the events of the afternoon, Henri poured a half cup of brandy and insisted that Charlotte drink it all. It was not lost on Charlotte that he also poured a full cup for himself and drank it in one draught. His back to her for the moment, she wondered what his counsel might be.

"Of course, I shall have to resign from the position of governess to the MacAdam children", she said in the absence of anything from Monsieur.

"Of course, you shall do no such thing", responded Monsieur swivelling on his heels to face her. "You are not going to let a snivelling little boy, no better than a spoilt brat, deny you your chance for freedom!"

"But, he will make up some story Monsieur; he will hate me after this!"

"Yes", Monsieur replied grimly, "he will certainly hate you. You have humiliated him and his stupid, infantile, swollen pride has taken a battering. And that's exactly why he won't be saying anything to anyone, believe me."

"What?" Charlotte exclaimed, disbelievingly.

"Look at it from his viewpoint Charlotte. He can't say anything because anything he says embarrasses himself absolutely. My advice to you is to say nothing and neither will he."

"But he will surely make trouble for me Monsieur. "

"Oh, I'm sure he will try child. But so long as you make sure you are never in his company alone; that you come straight back here between lessons and after the day's classes have finished where I can vouchsafe you, he is, excuse the pun, impotent to do anything to endanger your position in the household."

"Please don't joke Monsieur, I can tell you the boy was far from impotent to do me any harm this afternoon."

"You forget Charlotte, that you are not alone. I will make sure Hugh MacAdam knows that I know what happened here this afternoon. He will be left in no doubt I assure you, of the grave injuries which he will be suffering should he lay a finger upon you. Another thing, I will never leave you alone again. If you are not teaching, you will accompany me wherever I go. Don't worry Charlotte", he said gently, caressing her hair behind her ears as a father would his daughter, "after our Port stop here, we should arrive in Sydney Cove in no more than one month. You only have to endure this situation for another month. Once in Sydney, the boy will have plenty of other distractions to traipse after, mark my words. And you will find that a governess to the MacAdams will be in high demand from the other notable families in the colony! You need suffer the likes of Hugh MacAdam never again after that!"

Everything Monsieur said made sense. She wanted to believe him. But something cold and brutally clear whispered otherwise in her heart. Dread skulked within her like an elusive shadow, which would not be caught and held up to the light of reason. Charlotte's troubled eyes met those of the older man, before he clasped his arms around her in an attempt to banish the ghosts away.

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