by Joseph Anderson

This follows Dear Diary and assumes general knowledge of my other stories with Prince Samuel and the bacchae. All characters belong to the author.

The carriage clopped down the street. Inside the beautifully dressed woman looked over at her companion wishing she understood him better. He seemed so sad so often. She did not understand his affairs beyond knowing they were very far ranging and embassies throughout the world were constantly seeking him out. Lady Margaret reached a gloved hand over to lay on his knee.

"Samuel," she said softly. "Is it that terrible conflict across the seas in America? Why does it affect you so? It is over and Mr. Lincoln has been reelected. You should be happy. That land can heal now. Our brothers in Christ have been redeemed from their bondage, Samuel! Under Mr. Lincoln's guidance that land will enter now upon a golden age of brotherhood and harmony."

The man beside her, his long dark hair cascading over his shoulders and his tophat held lightly in his lap looked over at her with his sad blue eyes. "You're probably right, Margaret. I'm sure that is what will happen. The United States of America will now become a utopia of racial brotherhood. If Plato were here he'd sing The Battle Hymm of the Republic."

Margaret slapped his shoulder with her fan. "You don't have to be snide! I just said the war is over. It has to get better doesn't it? And the entire world was watching that awful civil war. I don't believe there will ever again be a war like that. They've learned. Look at the terrible casualties brought about by our modern science. This will never happen again, Samuel. At least that has come out of it."

Samuel's eyes were red as he listened to her. He loved her almost as much as he had loved Angela...and that wasn't really love...Angela was his soul. He loved Margaret as much as he had loved Fatna in Medina in 1213, as much as he loved Yuki in Edo in 900, Elvira more times than he could remember, or Nell Gwynne right here in London.

Charles Stuart had died of cholera in exile. Sam assumed his place because Charles asked him to on his death bed, considering his brother James unfit. Sam refused but then James Stuart urged him to do it in obedience to Charles and because he loved his country and knew Sam could rule her better than he could. All of the royal houses knew of Sam's family or thought they did and felt like upstarts in comparison. Only a few individuals here and there REALLY knew about Sam though. Charles Stuart did. The resemblance was startling and they hadn't seen Charles in England in years. James didn't know everything but Charles had told him Prince Samuel was sterile so would not usurp their blood line. The English were sick of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans and wanted to cut loose, and Sam, tired of his thousands of years of responsibility, felt like cutting loose too. Nell Gwynne was the young cockney mistress of a peer. Sam met her, liked what he saw and took her. The English aristocracy were used to it; welcomed it even. In the Restoration with Charles II things were finally back to normal. Those were good times.

"What was that?" Lady Margaret said, peering out the window of the carriage. "A bird?"

"Yes, probably," Sam answered. He wondered if something was bothering Elvira. That was sloppy of her. He hoped she wasn't jealous. Sam trusted Fotena and Clea to watch her. They wouldn't allow her to harm Lady Margaret.

As he was helping Margaret out of the carriage at her townhouse she said to him, "I had hoped the play would cheer you up. I thought it marvelously done."

Sam smiled sadly. "Yes, it was well done, and I enjoyed it very much. Romeo and Juliet is a great play. I merely have much on my mind. I'm sorry to be such poor company."

Margaret sighed and kissed his cheek. A servant opened the door for her and she disappeared inside. Sam climbed back into the carriage and said to the driver, "Take me home, Francois." The carriage began clomping down the street again. Sam said, "Girls."

The doors opened on either side of him for a moment in the moving carriage as three pale figures flew inside. One sat next to him and two across from him. They were in smart English clothes rather than their usual diaphanous gowns. They had been unobtrusively positioned around the theater.

Beside him Elvira looked at him with her glowing yellow eyes. "You should not have viewed this performance. It always upsets you."

Sam felt the tension from the other two. They didn't like it when Elvira talked that way to him. Clea and Fotena were ready, willing and able to kill Elvira if he gave a nod. With his mind he told them to relax and felt their disapproval of his leniency.

He sighed and said, "Will was a genius. That's why I told him the story. He came close to things I didn't even mention. Amazing. I shouldn't live in the past so much."

"Master, you did everything you could. You threatened the heads of the houses with death if there was another fight in the streets. You mercifully banished young Francisco instead of executing him after he killed that devil Giulio in vengeance for his slaying of good Alonzo. It was that fool friar! He should simply have told of the secret marriage. The houses would have accepted it if you and the church insisted. You could have requested the Pope himself intervene if need be. Instead that priest imagined himself crafty Macchiavelli. You should have let me kill him!"

Sam shook his head. "I was prince of the city. It was my responsibility. I ought to have disarmed the two houses and forced them to reconcile or executed the heads as I threatened. Instead those poor young souls went too soon to their deaths."

"That would have led to even more civil strife and more innocents dying, as you well knew at the time," Elvira said strongly. "I think you enjoy wallowing in sentimental guilt not your own, Sam. You'd rather do that than consider the countless millions whose blood truly is on your hands!"

The prince held an arm in front of her to prevent Clea and Fotena from hurling themselves upon their sister. He said, "My enemies deserve no remorse. Speak no more of this, Elvira. I cannot restrain your sisters if you continue."

Elvira looked at the other two bacchae, their eyes blazing and teeth ready. She knew Master was right. They were close to ripping her to pieces no matter what he said. Clea and Fotena nearly had once in the New World when Master had gone to rule the Aztecs. She had taken him to task for not ending their barbarous human sacrifices. Master had only saved her by throwing himself over her and it had taken her weeks to recover. It was as bad as what the Slithloc Lord Military had once done to all three of them.

"Forgive me, sisters. I forget my place," she said to placate them. Master knew how insincere it was but it was what they wanted to hear and she felt their anger recede. She heard Master exhale in relief. That was far too close. He had warned her before to only speak freely when they were alone but her temper got the best of her again. Elvira had never called him familiarly by name before in front of her sisters. She was lucky they hadn't torn her tongue out the moment she uttered it. They accepted that there was more between her and Master, but they would not allow her to act as other than what she was. Master would simply have installed her openly as his mistress otherwise when they periodically evolved back into that. Clea and Fotena would never allow their sister to live as a great lady while they were servants. They'd kill her first and accept their master's wrath. Master would even have raised them too if necessary but that wasn't what they were placed with him for. Bacchus created them expressly to serve and protect his favorite and Fotena and Clealisthia intended on doing just that...and so would Elvira.

For the most part she and Master's feelings coincided. Sometimes she would have preferred they be actual lovers when that was no longer the case, but other times she knew he felt the same but her emotions had cooled. She and her sisters were all intimate with him of course. But that was the least part of it for she and Sam. It would have been no different if they could have been open though she would have enjoyed the great mansions and estates he customarily presented his mistresses with. She had had other lovers herself, mortals and even a few immortals of one variety or another. She remembered the Christian vampire, Nicholas de Brabant, fondly and wondered if his sense of sin and guilt had manifested and he was trying to make amends. She had recognized it in him although he was unaware of it. Rather like Xena.

Elvira was somewhat jealous of her sister's relationship with one another of course although it mystified her. Even more than the fact they were both women she didn't know how they could seem content indefinitely. She and Sam never lasted more than ten years at a stretch, usually not even that.

"Monsieur," Francois's voice came to them, and the horses and carriage stopped.

Sam looked curious and his girls got an alert expression. Sam nodded and Clea disappeared out the door and they heard Francois jump down and follow her. There were a few loud curses then nothing. Elvira took Francois's place and the carriage resumed its progress.

Soon after they arrived back at Sam's townhouse Fotena said, "They have returned."

The prince and the two bacchae went downstairs through a secret doorway. Waiting for them in the dungeon were the small Frenchman and Clea. A big unshaven man was chained to a wall and an unconscious young teenage girl in torn cloths was in a stone chair She had a cut on her arm and Clea was just putting a bandage on it.

Sam looked curiously at her. Francois said, "Monsieur, this brute assaulted this little flower girl. We were in time to prevent her being ravaged."

"Lying little frog! Let me go! I'm an Englishman! Stinking foreigners!" the chained man cursed in a North Country accent then groaned as Francois looked mildly at him, jumped and kicked him in the face.

Sam looked at his three girls. "You're probably hungry. Do you want him?" All three bacchae shook their pale faces. "Good choice. Teach him a lesson then dispose of him, Francois. Gag him first though. I don't want to be kept up all night."

The small man with slicked-down black hair parted in the middle and a pencil moustache smiled, "With pleasure, Monsieur!"

With Clea carrying the unconscious girl, Sam and the three bacchae went back up the stairs as they heard the cursing man's voice become muffled. "We'll send her home tomorrow," Sam said.

Elvira was looking at the slight unconscious form after she put her in a nightgown and deposited her in a bed. Sam came in and smiled wryly. "She looks a lot like her but just a coincidence, I expect. That certainly wasn't Romeo."

The End