“‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult,’” she quoted, giving the men a verse from the Bible that seemed to stop them in their tracks. “And is it also not said that ‘bloodshed follows bloodshed’?” She shook her head at them as though they were small children that needed her guidance, trying not to reveal a single modicum of fear to them. “You are doing wrong, and you will only reap the same sort of wrongdoing.”
The third man leered at her, although Dinah noticed that his expression was a little less certain than before. “An angel that knows verses from the Bible,” he laughed, waggling a finger at her. “Not that it means anything to the likes of us. We have a job to do, that is all.”
Dinah lifted her chin again, looking at them as disdainfully as she could. “And no one will admire you for it, nor look up to you,” she said, aware of the shake in her voice but praying that they would not notice it. “Does it not also say, ‘Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways’?” Seeing the first and second man share a glance, she continued to speak. “You are in danger of destruction,” she said, filling her voice with warning. “You do not believe that God himself can see you at this very moment? That He does not examine your hearts and see you failing in every way? The Psalmist wrote that ‘the Lord examines the righteous but the wicked, those who love violence, He hates with a passion.’” Spreading one hand out wide, she gave them a fierce look. “You are doing a great wrong and the consequences you may yet discover to be eternal.”
This, for whatever reason, seemed to put a fear in each of the men’s faces. They glanced at each other, and then back at Titania and Dinah, although the first remained as menacing as before.
“He knows what will happen to him if he does not pay,” the first man said, his voice dark and his words grating. “This is only just a warning.”
That being said, he jerked his head to one side and led the other two men away from Lord Whitehaven, leaving both Titania and Dinah staring after them in shock. Titania let out a long breath, pressing Dinah’s hand tightly.
“I do not ever think I have been more grateful for your knowledge of the Holy Bible,” she said softly, grasping Dinah’s hand tighter again and beginning to make their way carefully across the dirty ground towards Lord Whitehaven. “Well done, Dinah.”
Dinah’s breath was shaking out of her, hardly able to believe what had just occurred. “I did not expect it either,” she said honestly, carefully picking her way across the broken glass and avoiding the dark stains that she feared was Lord Whitehaven’s blood. “It was all I could think to say.”
“He will rescue them from oppression and violence,” Lord Whitehaven whispered, as Titania and Dinah finally reached him. “Is that not so, Dinah?”
Dinah’s eyes filled with tears at the sight of Lord Whitehaven’s battered and bruised face, hearing the weakness in his voice and feeling her own agony over it. Whatever he had done wrong, this was more than enough of a punishment.
“That is so,” she answered, as Titania pulled out a handkerchief from her pocket and pressed it against a seeping wound on Lord Whitehaven’s forehead.
“And God has sent you both to me to rescue me from my own stupidity,” Lord Whitehaven whispered, his voice barely loud enough to reach her ears. “What am I to do?”
Titania glanced at Dinah, the worry in her expression the very same that clouded Dinah’s heart.
“We must get you home,” Titania replied, trying to sound reassuring. “Thereafter, we can discuss what has happened to you, but you cannot be allowed to stay here.”
“I cannot,” Lord Whitehaven croaked. “Mother will–”
“We will make certain she does not see you nor know of this,” Dinah promised, wanting to alleviate his distress. “Come now, Whitehaven, you cannot remain here. You must have your wounds dressed.”
Thankfully, Lord Whitehaven agreed without any further concerns, although the cry of pain that left his lips as Dinah and Titania helped him to his feet to lead him towards the carriage almost had them setting him back down again.
“The tigers may have to carry you, Whitehaven,” Titania murmured, throwing a concerned glance towards Dinah. “I do not want to add any further pain to your injuries.”
Lord Whitehaven let out another low groan, his hand clinging to Dinah’s shoulder as they moved slowly forward.
“No,” he whispered, his breath hissing out through his teeth. “No, do not allow me to be shamed so, Titania. For even some of my staff to see me so is already shame enough.”
Titania grimaced but did not disagree, walking slowly forward with Dinah on Lord Whitehaven’s other side.
“It was one of your servants that came to tell me of what they had seen of you,” she commented, a touch dryly. “The servants are already aware of what has occurred, Whitehaven.”
Dinah said nothing, seeing Lord Whitehaven’s expression tighten as one of the carriage drivers came near them with a lantern held high, wondering if his expression came from his pain or from the knowledge that his staff knew of his beating.
“What did you do to have them inflict such pain on you, Grayson?” Titania asked, her voice softer than before. “You have endured a terrible beating.”
Lord Whitehaven said nothing, moaning just a little as he was aided into the carriage. Dinah climbed the steps after Titania and sat down opposite Lord Whitehaven, her hands tight in her lap as she fought back the gnawing fear that he had been terribly injured in some way. She did not care, she realized, what it was he had done nor how foolish he had been, for she just wanted him to recover. Quite how they were to keep him from Lady Whitehaven, she did not know, for the injuries to his face were many and could not easily be hidden.
Lord Whitehaven said nothing more, clearly unwilling to answer his sister’s questions, and set his head back against the squabs, closing his eyes and letting out a long breath. Dinah’s gaze flickered to Titania, who was looking at her brother in evident concern, biting her lip hard. Fighting to find something encouraging to say, Dinah simply reached forward and pressed Titania’s hand lightly, seeing how her cousin looked across at her in surprise, only for a small smile to cross her face – although the worry did not fade from her eyes.
“What must you think of me?”
Dinah sat back in her seat and looked at Lord Whitehaven, seeing how his face was contorted with pain and regret.
“I am lost,” he continued, his eyes still shut so that Dinah could not tell to whom he was speaking. “I have lost myself in my own desires, my own vices. I cannot turn from them, and now I am lost to it.” Heaving a great sigh, he finally opened his eyes and looked directly at Dinah, his eyes glazed with agony. “What must you think of me?” he said again, swallowing hard and then closing his eyes again as the lantern light flickered over his face, sp
reading shadows of all kinds in every direction.