Edmund Windsor was in a rush. Then again, he was always in a rush and
today was no exception. Alice skulked after him, trying to keep up
without being seen. Edmund made his way through the halls of the British
Time Institute located at Cambridge University near the Cam River and
the Queen's College. His quick, long gait was full of purpose, his eyes
etched in determination. Alice could barely keep up. She adjusted her
glasses, setting them straight on her nose, and continued her pursuit.
What was he up to this time? Last time she trailed after him, he landed
in one of the University's dirigibles and took it up for a flight. Alice
had hopped in the cockpit after him, trying to talk him down, but he
didn't listen. After their flight, the Headmaster of Antiquities met
them on the airfield and suspended them for a week.
He was lucky not to get expelled, but he was the third in line for the
throne. She was the daughter of the Duke of York and Edmund's cousin.
She wasn't getting expelled, either.
Edmund glanced behind him. Alice slid behind a statue of H.G. Wells and
looked hard at the painting in front of her. Out of the corner of her
eyes, she spied a sly smile cross Edmund's lips, and he darted off down
the opposite way she thought he would take.
So it wasn't to be antiquities this time. She left Wells and went to the
end of the hallway. An arrow on the wall pointed to the time room. She
followed the arrows until she turned down one wide hall. Two members of
the 38th Infantry Regiment, the queen's elite military guard, stood
before two glass doors, their stares now fixed on her and her approach.
Where was Edmund?
A rock skipped over the floor in front of the guards. Their eyes broke
from her and followed the stone as it clattered down the hall to the
right. Then she heard a loud bang, wood hitting metal.
"Bloody hell! That's a rare statue of Jules Verne!" one guard cried.
They ignored her and ran in the direction of the incident.
As soon as they ran off, Edmund raced into the unguarded room. What was
he up to now?
She broke into a trot and burst through the glass doors into the time
Edmund wore a woolen Victorian suit with his trousers tucked into black
leather boots. He had on a brown frock jacket, white shirt, and a
matching vest, a gold pocket watch displayed from the front vest pocket.
The only thing that looked out of place was his strawberry blonde hair.
It touched the shoulders of the jacket.
He looked up from the control panel, his blue eyes sparkling with
mischief. "Alice? Not again, Cousin."
"You look like a proper gentleman."
"Thank you." He plucked a simple circle on a metal chain the size of a
shilling out of a holder from the control panel and placed it around his
Alice frowned. "Or a proper scoundrel. Where's your destination now?"
He waved a finger in the air. "Don't follow me, Alice."
She placed her hands on her hips. "Why not? I keep you out of trouble."
He winked. "You're not dressed for the occasion."
Alice bolted to the control panel, convinced her cousin was up to no
good. Edmund raced into a glass circle that encompassed three brass
rings. The steam engine off to the side accelerated to life.
London, March 1851 was on the display. She glanced over the controls,
then grabbed another circle necklace, figuring if Edmund needed it, she
did too, and dived into the glass circle just as the rings began to
"Damn you, Alice," said Edmund. He grabbed her in a tight embrace.
Her head began to spin. "We have another adventure, Ed."
"Indeed we do."
The last thing she heard was a steam whistle and then the world went
Alice still felt woozy. She tilted her head back and struck Edmund's
hard chest. "Oh," she groaned.
"Relax just a little bit longer, Cousin. You'll be disoriented for a
bit, but it wears off after a while," said Edmund.
Alice checked her face for her glasses. Thank Victoria they were still
there. She didn't need them to see, per se, but she'd be lost without
The world around her began to take focus. Gone were tall buildings made
of metal. The sky was blue in patches. White clouds hung in the air. At
least Alice thought they were white. Curious enough, flecks of grey,
possibly soot, clung to them. The scent of fresh cut grass mingled with
a hint of ash. Interesting. Glancing around, neat rows of statues,
stones, and growing flowers surrounded them.
They appeared to be in a park, but it didn't look like any modern park
Alice knew. Edmund rested his back against a tree, holding her against
him. He looked dashing, really, ever the prince, even now. A whistle
"Better?" he asked. "Yes."
He helped her to her feet. "Well, there's a taxi at the next corner. I
must be going."
Alice craned her neck. "Where are we going?"
"We? I'm going to Buckingham Palace."
They walked toward the taxi stand, Alice taking complete note of her
surroundings. Brick buildings surrounded the part, with gas lamps and
steam-run brass grandfather clocks on the corners.
A horse and carriage waited at the taxi stand. The driver glanced at her
and Edmund, looked away, and then looked back, an expression of surprise
on his face. She was wearing a light summer dress with a pastel floral
print, the simple coin necklace she had grabbed earlier, and flat white
shoes. Her blonde hair fell down in gentle waves past her shoulders.
"Why is he staring at me?" asked Alice.
"You hardly look like you belong in 1851."
Alice frowned. 1851? What was Edmund doing in 1851? She'd heard time
travel was possible, but she didn't think he'd actually do it. He was
crazy! Mad, even. It couldn't be. Alice tried to push away the feeling
of dread in the pit of her stomach as she realized Edmund really had
taken them back to 1851. This was not good.
He walked up to the taxi stand and opened the carriage door, motioning
for Alice to climb the steps.
"Where to, sir?" asked the driver. "Buckingham Palace," said Edmund.
Edmund leaned over and whispered something to the driver. After a
conversation she couldn't hear, Edmund paid the man. The driver flicked
the reins, and the carriage was off, driving down the London streets and
through the heart of town past the Tower.
Alice crossed her arms and glared at Edmund, anger replacing shock. "I
must admit I wasn't expecting this, Ed."
Edmund's charming smile peeked out from the corners of his lips. "I just
wanted to see my grandfather's Great Exhibition firsthand."
Alice's lips curved into a sneer. Her eyes narrowed. "You mean
great-grandfather? Four or five times removed."
He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't pay attention to the greats. He was
my grandfather." Alice took a deep breath.
"Prince Albert, then?"
"He's a man of ideas, Alice. You could learn something from him. I find
him very forward thinking."
"You find him -- Have you been here before?"
Edmund scratched his chin, looking toward the sky.
Alice lightly slapped his arm as she'd done a hundred times before when
"Be honest, Ed." He frowned. "Once or twice."
Alice wrinkled her brow, realizing the enormity of Edmund's actions.
"How could you? What have you been discussing with our
"Nothing that concerns you."
"Ed! This is history we're talking about. You aren't messing with the
timeline, are you?" He pointed to himself. "Me? You know what Professor
"It's fun to look at, but don't leave your fingerprints," she replied.
"The Great Exhibition is important. It highlighted many modern ideas. It
was the forefather to our modern fairs. It showed off such delicious
amateur and professional talent. It gave us gifted artists and poets,
tools, kitchen appliances, photography." He paused for breath. "All
because our great-grandfather was a forward-thinking man."
A steam whistle blew, indicating a stop. Edmund pointed toward the
steps. "This is where you leave me. Wait here. I'll be back in a couple
of hours, and I'll take you home."
Alice gaped at her cousin. She couldn't believe him. He was not going to
abandon her. "I will not. There's no way I'm letting you traipse around
Buckingham Palace sticking your fingerprints where they don't belong."
"Yes, you are." He grabbed her arm and forcibly helped her down the
carriage stairs, leaving her on a corner alone near the Wellington Arch.
The carriage ambled off.
Alice stood there flustered as she gazed at Buckingham Palace in the
distance. Well, she would just walk to it. Edmund was up to something
involving their great-grandfather and the Great Exhibition. When was it
held? May 1851, if she recalled her history classes. Edmund had set the
date for March that year. She was convinced he was leaving his
fingerprints all over the palace, but how many? She better have
something to report when they got back to 2011, or they just might both
be expelled from Cambridge this time, royalty or not.
She walked down the road toward the palace, receiving awkward looks from
those passing by. Oh, she must be an unusual sight for Victorian eyes!
Tired and thirsty, she finally made it to the courtyard. Edmund was
nowhere to be found. She should have expected it, really. No doubt he
was in the palace filling their great- grandfather's head with
forward-thinking ideas. She crossed her arms, staring at the steps.
Several carriages waited nearby. No one in their right mind would let
her into the palace looking like she did -- like she had just stepped
out of the gutter.
"Excuse me, who are you?"
Alice spun around to find herself face-to-face with two gentlemen who
stood near one of the waiting carriages. One gentleman was older, Alice
guessed in his fifties, one younger. The older gentleman stared at her
like she truly was a guttersnipe, but the younger one -- he was tall,
with chiseled cheeks and sensitive hazel eyes. His broad chest filled
his suit well and he measured her with a cool, appraising look that
hinted at... appreciation. An uncomfortable feeling washed over her.
Never had a man's stare made her feel so... warm.
"Well?" asked the older gentleman.
Alice straightened her posture with her usual royal dignity and took off
her glasses as she always did when she introduced herself. "I am Her
Royal Highness, Princess Alice of York."
The men looked at each other, at her, then back at themselves. She
wasn't sure if they were befuddled, confused, or wanted to laugh.
Finally, the older gentleman spoke. "Princess Alice is seven years old."
Alice bit the inside of her lip, realizing she had totally forgotten
where she was due to the younger gentleman's attention. She slid her
glasses back on. "Simply call me Alice -- Alice Windsor."
"And you may call me Prime Minister."
Excerpted from "The Windsor Diaries Book One: Victorian Scoundrel" by Stephanie Burkhart. Copyright © 2011 by Stephanie Burkhart. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.