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Serena and the Knights of St. John (Part 2)

Serena managed to keep quiet and pressed herself flat against the wall. The men ran in different directions without noticing her. When she dared breathe again, Serena hurried to her mistress's cabin.

The lady was resting on satin cushions. Fatima, another slave girl that accompanied her on that trip from Tripoli to Istanbul, was playing the lute. Serena flung herself on the floor at the lady's feet and told her what she had overheard. The lady was silent for a long time, then she nodded slowly.

"I believe you. It must be an important message indeed if the captain is ready for such a sacrifice."

"I don't want to die," Fatima said in a tear-smothered whisper.
The lady gave a wan smile. "You girls aren't Ottoman. That coming war between the Knights of Malta and our beloved Sultan is no business of yours. You have my permission to leave."

At first, the girls knelt petrified.

"What about you?" Serena asked.

The lady stroked them both lovingly over their cheeks, sighed and said, "I'm old and willing to give my life for my country. Go now. Save yourselves. The Knights will be good to you if they find you."

Serena jumped up and ran on deck, dragging Fatima with her.
(To be continued)