Serena's heart was beating a drum roll. She and Francisco were waiting in the antechamber of the Grandmaster's office. The door opened and Jerome beckoned them in.
A grey-haired man was standing in front of an unlit fireplace. Serena had seen Grandmaster La Valette before, speaking to the people, but she'd never been so close. The Grandmaster turned around."Is this the young lady who saved us?" La Valette asked a man behind a writing desk.
"Yes, your Excellency."
Serena's cheeks burned. "It was nothing," she whispered. She felt an urgent need to run away.
"Nothing?" The Grandmaster asked. "Thanks to you we were saved from great danger. Paul's messages informed the enemy where best to dig tunnels and how to reach the connecting bridge. Once there, the Ottomans would have washed over us like a tidal wave."
"With all due respect, your Excellency," Francisco asked, "where did the pigeons come from? They need a dovecot to return to."
The Grandmaster nodded. "Paul had an accomplice. I sent news to Mdina and they've caught him. The two smuggled the pigeons in before we'd barricaded the gates. Apparently Sultan Suleiman planned for three weeks to overthrow us." The Grandmaster chuckled.
"Thanks to your alertness and courage, we might just last a little longer."