Previously: England awaits the Spanish invasion. Elizabeth orders two of her young heroes to Spain on a mission. Each one has a beautiful but jealous lover.
Alice ran down the Alhambra steps with Clarence and Boniface fencing their way behind her. Putting two petite fingers in her mouth, Alice whistled for a carriage which pulled up with typical British efficiency. Courtiers often beat a hasty retreat from events hosted by King Phillip which did not go unnoticed by the carriage trade.
“To the port and the fastest ship headed for England!” she ordered as she hopped in the front, which left room for Clarence and Boniface to continue fencing in the back seat as the carriage sped away.
They had only just left the confines of the Spanish palace before Rodney and Steppingstone fenced their way down the steps where Maria rode up on a large white stallion. Rodney didn’t miss a swing of the sword as he leapt upon the back of the horse. An efficient guard promptly arrived with a black stallion for Steppingstone to mount. They both rode off, side by side, so the duel could continue.
Within a few minutes the carriage arrived at the port, and Alice jumped from her seat and rushed to the ticket window. A clerk looked up and smiled. Since Clarence and Boniface insisted on fencing no matter what, they lagged behind a few steps.
“Si, senorita. May I help you?”
“Two tickets on the boat to England.”
“First class or tourist?”
“Smoking or nonsmoking?”
“That will be one hundred and fifty pesetas.”
Alice looked through her purse and pulled out the money for the clerk.
“It’s boarding now.” The clerk smiled again. “Have a nice day.”
Taking Clarence’s free hand, Alice dragged him away from his duel, which, by the way, he was winning quite without difficulty. It was just as well there was a break in the action because Boniface had to buy his ticket.
“I want one ticket on the ship they’re taking!”
“That will be seventy-five pesetas.”
Boniface grabbed a handful of coins from his pocket and threw them into the clerk’s window.
“Now boarding. Have a nice day.”
Alice ran up the gangplank. Clarence pulled his hand away so he could resume his match with Boniface. In the meantime, Maria and Rodney arrived on their white stallion, dismounted and ran for the clerk’s window, which left the poor horse pawing at the ground in confusion. He had never been mounted like that before and left without so much of a “Had a good time, see you later.”
Maria paused at the window to hunt for coins in her purse. Rodney, seeing Steppingstone leap from his steed and bound toward them, thrust his hand into his pocket and produced more than enough coins to satisfy the ticket requirement.
“Keep the change!” Rodney shouted as he and Maria ran up the gangplank just as it began to pull away.
Steppingstone did not even pause at the ticket window but continued straightway to the gangplank, which irritated the clerk to no end. He had to pay out of his own wages any short falls in the daily financial report. Unfortunately when the clerk sprang forward to catch Steppingstone by the leg, he fell into the water. Steppingstone somehow managed to land on the ship’s deck.
By this time Alice, Clarence and Boniface had scurried down the steps to the tourist section, a rather dank area filled with roughhewn benches on which sat respectable but poor passengers. A sign overhead read, “Smoking.” Clarence and Boniface had to take a respite to catch their breath. Boniface spied a traveler with a large cigar clenched between his teeth. The English lord leaned over, snatched it away puffed on the stogie.
“Hey!” the man shouted.
But before he could protest too much the young lady and two fencers moved on to the section marked “Non Smoking.” (Author’s note: Now one must consider the wisdom of an older gentleman, such as Boniface, to take on the added activity of smoking when his lungs must have been taxed to the extreme by the fencing. Perhaps the nicotine enhanced his physical stamina.) He took a broad swipe at Clarence who ducked, and Boniface cut the feather off the bonnet of one of the passengers. An older couple shook their heads in disapproval.
“Can you believe that?” the woman said to her husband.
“Some people have no manners,” he replied.
“Puffing on that cigar in a no smoking section,” she exclaimed.
On deck Rodney and Steppingstone fenced as they bumped against the mast. Rodney climbed the pole followed by his adversary. They balanced precariously on a cross mast as they continued swinging their epees. The captain ran up waving his hands and stopped next to Maria who stared skyward as she wrung her hands.
“Stop! Stop!” the captain shouted. “I don’t have insurance to cover fencing on the mast!”