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this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
“Dr Steel.” Emerald turned to the Doctor once Richard had left. “What will happen now? How do you bury someone at sea?” She felt so strange–there was a cold solid sensation inside her–like the feel of marble. Like there was no blood in her body, as though she had died, not her mother.
Sympathy hovered in Dr Steel’s eyes. “Her body will be wrapped in cloth and weighted with lead so it sinks, and then we will cast her overboard. I will help you dress her if you wish and we will have the crew gather and say prayers. Joseph, Mr Swallow, will perform a service.”
“My father will not even be able to visit a grave and know she lies in it.” It was said as a fact, without tears. She had cried all her tears out in the last few days. She had no more tears.
“I’m sorry, Miss Martin.”
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it was what they had all been saying to her for days – as though this was their fault.
Her eyes shut and in her mind she saw Richard standing at the cabin door, I’m sorry…
A few days ago he had held her and stroked her hair for what had seemed like an age while she’d cried out in her agony. Since then he’d been distant. She knew he was protecting her reputation, her mother’s death meant she was alone on his ship apart from Rita, but Emerald longed for the comfort he’d given her then.
“Do you wish me to help you dress her?”
Emerald nodded, “Yes, please.” Rita was still outside, crying out her sorrow.
For a moment she felt like laughing, a strange unreal laughter. But Dr Steel would think she was going mad if she did that. Instead she turned to the trunks and looked for her mother’s best dress. It was the thought of who would care what her mother wore as she floated to the bottom of the sea that made Emerald wish to laugh. It also made her want to weep, but the tears had been wrung out of her.
Emerald was asked to eat luncheon with Richard, Mr Swallow and Dr Steel. She did not eat, but then they had not invited her for the sake of eating, they had asked her to join them to discuss the funeral. Richard explained what would happen and Mr Swallow asked her if there were any particular words she would like spoken. There were none. The only thing she wished for was her father. She accepted and agreed to all they said, and so, two hours later, they broke the routine of the ship, gathering the full crew on the quarterdeck, standing in silence, hats and caps in their hands and heads bowed.
Her mother’s body had been wrapped in tarpaulin, secured by rope. Emerald could not imagine her mother inside the plain parcel that two men held on the rail. It was as though at any moment her mother would touch Emerald’s arm and be beside her, saying something. She could not accept that her mother would never say anything again.
Mr Swallow read from a bible he held in one hand. Then the sailors sang a seafaring hymn. Finally Richard spoke, commenting on how well her mother had been liked in Calcutta, and respected, and how clearly she had been loved by both the Governor and her daughter.
Her father was in Calcutta now, living his life as normal, in his office or at home, oblivious–he did not know her mother had died. It would be months before he knew.
The two men, who had held the tarpaulin parcel, tumbled it over the edge of the ship. It splashed into the sea, breaking the silence on the deck, as Emerald stepped to the rail and looked down. She could see the bubbles where her mother’s body had descended, a few yards back. The ship was already moving away from it. She would never be able to find the same spot. Her mother would always be left here alone.
She was gone!
Her mother was gone, and her father did not even know!
She turned away from the rail, the feeling inside her still cold and empty-disbelieving. She looked at Richard. “May I have a quill and paper to write to my father?”
To be continued…
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
The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75 now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉
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