It has taken me a little while to get started again I know, I have had a little break, but here you are. This is another novel, so it will be in many parts, and like Reckless in Innocence it was an early story, although later than reckless, so it will perhaps be interesting for you to see my writing developing. It is also another novel which I will never publish as a book so you will only find it in parts here. I hope you enjoy it 😀
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this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
Emerald walked along the plank leading to the deck of The Rose, her open, gloved, hand skimming along the rope.
The ship filled a third of the dock. It had been moored out at sea for two nights. She’d been watching it swaying on the water in the distance, sails furled, knowing that within days she’d be on it. She’d never left India, she’d been born in Calcutta, she’d seen paintings of England, her mother often spoke of it as home, but Emerald could not imagine it, not even in a glimpse of inner sight. England was not her home. No memory she had could help her imagine a chilly island, with rolling hills and patchwork fields of wheat, barley and hay.
The Farrow Line ship swayed beneath her feet as she stepped onto the deck, gripping the hand of a man in uniform, including stock and tailcoat, the captain or quartermaster.
She couldn’t see Mr Farrow, he was not on deck. As ever arrogant, he’d not even come to greet them.
The uniformed man let go of Emerald’s hand and bowed, “Miss Martin,” then turned to her mother. “Mrs Martin.” He took her mother’s hand, helped her on board and bowed again.
“Where is Farrow?” Emerald’s father asked, stepping aboard, his tone irate.
Calcutta’s former East India Company assistant turned private trader was still nowhere in sight. Then suddenly he was in sight, and as usual his presence sucked attention away from anyone but himself. He shut the cabin door behind him, turned and strode across the deck, the wolf leaving his lair, followed by two men clothed in the Farrow Line uniform. The men flanked him as he walked across the deck towards Emerald and her parents.
He’d fascinated and aggravated Emerald equally since she had been old enough to notice her father’s business acquaintances. It was the secrecy he wrapped about him which captivated her interest, and his rudeness which infuriated her. He held himself apart from the elite families in the British colony on Calcutta, as though he thought himself better than others. She had watched him use her father, his acquaintances, and their wives, for gain. Yet no one in the colony knew him properly. He could not call any man a friend, she was certain.
“Forgive me, Catherine, for not being on deck to great you.” Years ago he’d acquired the offer to use Emerald’s mother’s first name, he’d never returned the favour, and ever since he’d been given the honour he wielded it like a weapon, claiming his close relationship to the Governor and holding it up for all to see, like a trophy.
Emerald did not wish to be on his ship but her mother would not wait for another. Her mother wanted to reach England for the courting season and to see Emerald married before the year was out. Emerald’s marriage had been arranged. She was to marry a distant cousin on her mother’s side. She had been told he was titled, and influential. An English man. An Earl. A man who would suit the blue-blood within the veins of the great-granddaughter of a duke.
Emerald have never seen this man. Not even a miniature of him. She could not imagine the place she was to travel to, nor the man she was to marry. They had not even shared correspondence. It was merely their blood lines, and their status, which in her mother’s and father’s eyes, made them a match.
Mr Farrow took Emerald’s mother’s hand and bowed over it. Then he turned to Emerald’s father. Ignoring her.
It was always thus. He had nothing to gain from befriending her or her friends, male or female, they had no influence or wealth and that was all he sought. He’d always ignored them. Annoyingly it only made him more fascinating. He intrigued her, with his larger than life aura, people feared him like they feared God in Calcutta. He was a powerful, self-made man. People were in awe of him. She was in awe of him, despite disliking him intensely. He commanded people’s attention whether they were willing to give it or not.
“Governor.” He bowed slightly, disrespectfully. “Forgive me.” He could be civil when he wished, it was only that most of the time he did not wish. “I have omitted to welcome you appropriately.” The tone of his voice and the stiffness of his manner appeared everything but sorry–it appeared impatient, intolerant and irritated.
“I hope our presence will not disturb you too much, Mr Farrow, nor your crew,” Emerald’s mother said.
“It shall not, ma’am,” he said, “because I shall not allow it do so. However I will ensure you are comfortable.”
But not welcome–and ignored.
“Miss Martin.” He turned to her and looked into her eyes, for the first time ever. His eyes were dark brown, like his hair. She held his intense gaze as his hand lifted, feeling like he was weighing her up. She could see he was intelligent and his eyes searched hers to see if she was. He would run rings about a foolish man, or woman. She was no fool.
She laid her fingers in his offered hand. They were gripped firmly. He’d never touched her before, nor spoken to her. If he’d stood among a group she was included in, his gaze and his attention always passed over her. But today he was looking at her and holding her hand and he had said her name. It was disconcerting. She bowed her head and dropped into a curtsy. His grip on her fingers firmed even more. No other man had held her hand so tightly. He held her hand in a way that made sure she knew he existed. It was not a mere social nicety, it was a statement–I am here–give me respect.
She would not be daunted. Mr Farrow would not scare her. When he let her hand go she met his gaze again.
There was a look of something other than stern authority in his eyes. Humour perhaps. Mockery maybe. “I hope you will be happy aboard my ship, Miss Martin.” His attention disengaged then, leaving her behind and passing to her father again.“You have my word, they’ll want for nothing.”
Apart from human kindness. Emerald’s inner voice echoed with bitterness. She had always detested arrogance.
“I shall carry your precious cargo to England safely and we shall send you word when we arrive.”
Her father nodded, the assurance making his lips twitch with emotion. He did not want them to leave, although he approved of the arrangement of Emerald’s marriage. But it had become time for Emerald to leave. She could not remain with her parents forever, and her mother and father refused to believe that anyone within the colony was equal to her bloodlines. If she were to be married she must marry to an English man of standing, and so her marriage was arranged.
Emerald didn’t know what manipulation her father had deployed to get her and her mother passage aboard Mr Farrow’s ship, but some bartering must have taken place. She was sure Mr Farrow would not have agreed willingly. This was obviously an imposition.
Mr Farrow introduced the two men beside him. One, a similar height to Mr Farrow but blonde and thin, was introduced as Captain Swallow. The other, who was much shorter, shorter than Emerald, a man with black hair and grey blue eyes, was introduced as Mr Prichard, the captain’s lieutenant. Both men bowed, but Emerald and her mother were directed to speak to Mr Bishop, the man who had greeted them first, if they should have any needs, the responsibility for their care devolved to the quartermaster.
Her father approved, expressing his gratitude to Mr Farrow.
Then the moment to part from her father came.
Tears flooded Emerald’s eyes as she turned and hugged him.
“I will miss you, child,” he whispered, accidentally dislodging her bonnet and the pins securing her hair. A lock fell on to her shoulder as her bonnet slipped down her back, hanging from its ribbons. He kissed her temple. “More than I can bear, but I know you are a grown woman now and I must let you go.”
When she let go of him he took a handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it into Emerald’s hand.
“I love you, Papa,” she whispered. Tears clouded his image as she accepted his handkerchief.
His arms wrapped about her, pulling her close once more. “I love you also,” he whispered into her ear.
She dabbed at the tears running onto her cheeks when he let her go.
Her mother hugged him, while Emerald re-secured her bonnet with shaking fingers. He kissed her mother’s lips, then turned back to kiss Emerald’s cheek, saying I love you to them both once more, even though Mr Farrow could hear.
This was the Governor of Calcutta, expressing deep affection for his wife and child before his business rival. Her father had never paid any heed to others opinion when it came to her mother and her, he’d never hidden his love.
What if I never see him again? It was a possibility. She was to marry and settle in England. She would never return to India. What if he never returned to England. The thought hit her in a rush as her father shook Mr Farrow’s hand once more and turned to disembark.
She did not want to go. She did not want to leave India. The trap snapped shut. She loved her parents as they loved her. She wished to make them happy. But it might suffocate her doing as they desired. She did not know if she could live in England, in a cold, dull, dismal world. She had only known heat, colour, noise and excitement. She did not know if she could take a husband she had never met and did not know at all.
When her father stepped from the gang-plank onto the dock, the crossing connecting the ship to the shore was withdrawn taking away their connection with India. She was at sea. India was yards away, and yet now it was no longer her home. She could not go back. She would never walk on Indian soil again.
Her heart raced into a wild beat, the rhythm of an indian drum.
To be continued…
If you cannot wait until next week for more of Jane Lark’s writing there’s plenty to read right now.
To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but the actual order is listed below ~ and click like to follow my Facebook Page not to miss anything…
The Marlow Intrigues
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all
Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5
The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5
The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come 🙂
Go to the index
- the story of the real courtesan who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
- another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
- the prequel excerpts for book #3 The Scandalous Love of a Duke
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark