Baldwin walked away from the women, the men following him, and they climbed to the top of the dune. He drew his sword from its scabbard, thankful that he had taken an hour in the morning and another in the evening of each day to keep it sharp and clean from the seawater. He watched as nearly two-dozen men approached from the distance. Squinting in the sunlight, he could make out a standard being flown. Then the muscles on his face relaxed, and his expression turned to one of joy. Recognizing the standard as Richard’s, Baldwin gave out a shout, “It is the king! Thank God, it is King Richard!”
At first the men around him seemed confused, but then they too recognized the banners and saw the men on the horses dressed in white surcoats with a red cross emblazoned on the front. A least twenty soldiers on foot followed those mounted on horses. A general cry of joy went up from the men, and they shouted and waved to get the king’s attention.
Richard led the party and spotted the group on the beach in the distance when the light reflected off their swords. At once, he spurred his horse forward.
When he reached Baldwin and the others, they were cheering. Baldwin sheathed his sword, and Richard jumped down from his horse giving Baldwin a quick embrace. “I should have you horse whipped for scaring me so.”
Baldwin could feel his entire body relax from respite. “Your Highness, you have no idea how good it is to see you.”
Richard laughed. “I can only imagine.”
“The rest are on the beach.” Baldwin pointed the way for Richard.
“Before I go, answer me this, is everyone safe?” Richard hesitated.
Baldwin did not know if he should report on the royal women or Anne first. He chose to speak of the causalities. “We lost three men and one of Berengaria’s ladies.”
“That is all?” Richard raised his eyebrows.
“Yes, My Lord. The royal ladies are safe.” Baldwin decided to stick with protocol.
Richard whispered, “And what of Lady Anne?”
“She is safe. She washed overboard when we hit the rocks, but we found her on the beach. She is scratched, bruised, and her ankle badly sprained, but she is well enough to move around with a staff.”
Richard gave a nod of acknowledgement. “For God’s sake, man! I did not give you permission to throw any of them overboard.” Richard smiled at Baldwin and then started toward the beach. “And I certainly do not believe that I would have consented to Anne being the one.”
Baldwin breathed a sigh of relief and followed.
The moment Richard reached the beach, Joanna rushed forward to him. Berengaria followed close behind. “Richard, oh thank the Lord!” Joanna called out to him.
When Berengaria reached him, she collapsed against him and buried her face in his chest. Caught off guard, Richard awkwardly began to soothe her. As he did, he looked around the beach to find Anne. He spotted her sitting on the ground. Andrew was close by embracing Marguerite. “There, there, it is alright now.” Without enthusiasm, Richard patted Berengaria’s back and stroked her hair.
Anne caught sight of him with Berengaria in his arms and looked away. Richard saw her do this, and he gently pried Berengaria away from him. “I must see to the condition of the others. You are safe now.” He gave her a reassuring smile.
He did not go directly to Anne, but stopped to see some of the others that milled about the beach. When he reached Anne, he knelt down beside her and removed his gloves. With a tender tounch he examined her ankle. “I will have my surgeon look at this as soon as we get you back to Limassol.”
“I thank you for your kindness, Your Highness, but there is really no need. It is healing just fine. Baldwin took great care of me.” Anne’s tone sounded flat.
“Anne, I… am so relieved to see you,” he whispered.
“She cannot hear you from here Richard,” Anne whispered back.
“Yes, well…I have news for you. Upon hearing of your treatment, I headed straightway for Limassol. My men and I took the port and Comnenus fled. It will not be long before he is captured. Many of the nobles and people of the island have joined with us to rid themselves of the tyrant. Our other ships and all of those taken prisoner have been recovered. I even recovered your secretary. He was a prisoner, but is really no worse for wear,” he spoke at a regular volume.
“Again, thank you, Your Highness.” Anne looked beyond his shoulder as he spoke. Her demeanor remained distant, as others made their way over to gather around the king. She glanced in their direction to hint to Richard.
When Richard understood, he rose up and gave orders. “We must recover everything we can from the Madeline before she breaks loose from the rocks. Baldwin, take a dozen men to help you with this. The rest of you will return to Limassol with me. Men, prepare to transport what is here on land with us now.” He turned away from the crowd and back to Anne. He reached down, grabbed her by the waist, and helped her to her feet.
Just as Anne gained her feet, Berengaria’s priest cried out from behind Richard. “Your Highness, the princess!”
Richard turned around to see Berengaria on the ground surround by her ladies and Joanna’s. “She fainted, Richard!” Joanna shouted to him.
Richard left Anne and strode to Berengaria. Marguerite went to Anne to give her bad leg more support. Andrew followed and stood on the other side of Anne. Marguerite gave her a sympathetic look, but Anne only shrugged.
Richard knelt over Berengaria. “Bring her some water,” he ordered.
Someone passed a flask of water to him, and he put it to her lips. She coughed and sputtered. “Are you alright?” Richard asked her.
“I think so.” Berengaria nodded. Then, with a great sigh, she continued, “It is all… just… so overwhelming.”
“Let us get the ladies back to the palace at Limassol.” Richard stood.
The knights helped the ladies onto their horses. Richard lifted Berengaria slowly to her feet. Berengaria took a step forward and then fell back onto Richard. He caught her. “Do you think you can ride? I do not have a litter.”
“I shall try.” Her voice sounded weak.
Richard lifted her onto his horse, and almost as soon as she had taken the saddle she swayed and drooped back toward Richard. “Hold her on!” Joanna instructed from a nearby horse.
A couple of men rushed forward and steadied her. Richard climbed onto his horse behind her.
“Oh, bloody hell,” Marguerite hissed under her breath.
“It is alright, Marguerite.” Anne tried to dismiss it.
Marguerite threw up her hands in frustration. Andrew took Anne’s arm. “Come, Lady Anne, let us get you on a horse.” Andrew, Marguerite, and Anne all leaned in close to one another. Andrew whispered to the women, “If you ask me, she is a rather poor player.”
“That player is going to be your queen, Andrew,” Anne murmured. “Now, let go. I can walk better than you two think.” Anne hobbled along with her stick.
“Your Highness, there are not enough horses,” one of the men informed Richard.
Neither Anne nor Marguerite had a horse, and Richard looked around for another. “Well, my ladies are not going to walk. Neither are Berengaria’s. They have been through enough,” Joanna snapped.
“Joanna, she cannot walk,” Richard protested.
Anne spoke up, “Your Highness, with your permission, I would like to stay here and direct the process of salvaging my ship,”
“Anne, you need to rest and have that foot examined,” Richard argued.
“My Lord, I will stay here until my ship is unloaded.” Anne remained firm.
Andrew chimed in, “By your leave, Marguerite and I will stay with her.”
At last Richard said, “Alright, but I will send men back as soon as we reach Limassol.”
“Your kindness knows no bounds, Sire. Please also send carts to carry the cargo of the ship.” Anne bowed her head as she could not curtsy.
“Lady Anne.” He turned his horse and the others followed him.
When they were out of earshot, Marguerite criticized him. “I can’t believe he left you here.”
“Look on the bright side, ladies…” Andrew started.
Anne smiled and finished the sentence for him. “We do not have to be around the princess.”