Amelia Wright let out an exasperated sigh for the umpteenth time that morning, as she folded the last of her dresses into the luggage. Not that she would be needing these dresses when she finally arrived in England. Like Mother had said – Ladies did not wear saris or salwar kameez or cholis for the matter, over there. Nevertheless, she would be needing clothes to wear on the four months’ sea trip to England. It was quite easy to tell, though, that that which made Amelia unhappy was not the fact that she wouldn’t be able to wear these dresses she had worn all her life and had come to love, upon her return to her home soil. No, what made Amelia unhappy was the fact that she was leaving Madras, the only home she had grown to know and love, for her supposedly rightful home which she had never stepped foot on.
England. She had heard tales about her home country, certainly. Had read of it. It seemed like a wonderful place. Once or twice she had fancied going for a visit, seeing more people who looked like her, and spoke like all the British officers here in India, spoke like her mother. But to move there, permanently, with no hope of ever seeing her dear Madras again? The thought was devastating. To think that she had to be forced to do this, only for the untimely death of her two uncles, did not make the whole situation feel any better. She didn’t belong in England, wearing pretty big dresses and an overly fashionable hairdo, she belonged in Madras. Playing like common folk, climbing trees, relating with the village people, and playing with animals. Her mother had made it clear that such behaviour would neither be allowed or condoned as soon as she stepped foot in England. Amelia suspected her mother was too happy about that prospect. She had always despised Amelia’s free spirit. Even now, Amelia could hear her mother’s voice, petulant and irritated, ringing in her head.
“That is terribly unladylike. No Wright should demean herself in such manner. Your father was a respected man, from one of the greatest houses in England. You are a lady, and it’s high time you began to act as one. We never should have come to this place. Perhaps, you would have grown with proper etiquettes instilled in you if you had been given the privilege to live amongst peerages, not savages!” Her mother’s rant often ended with an indignant huff and a hard spin that sent her hair flipping. Then, the regal walkway that was peculiar only to Louisa Hawthorne. Recalling it now, Amelia found her lips curling up in a smile of their own volition, despite herself. At first, when her mother began to talk that way about her friends, it had hurt and angered Amelia. With time, she had learned to see the humour in it, and simply laughed it off, every time her mother threw a fit. In fact, many times, Amelia had purposefully tried to climb a tree or got on an Elephant’s back when she was certain her mother was nearby and could see. Then as Louisa’s nerves got racked up again, she would give into a fit of giggles with the other children, and her friends. Those were just one of the things she would miss about Madras. The easy camaraderie and less obvious social stratification. The happiness, the freedom, the songs, the dancing, its good people …
“You have that look on your face again, My Lady. England cannot be so bad, it is your home after all.”
Jutted out of her thoughts by her handmaid, Tanvi, Amelia sighed again, shaking her head slowly. “Shira is the wisest of them all, Tanvi. Remember when we used to steal away at nights when we were younger, to go listen to her stories by the fountain? I shall never forget any of those stories, Tanvi. I remember the one she told about the old hunter and his home. She said, at the end of the day, the hunter returned to Madras, not because Punjab wasn’t all that he had hoped for, but because his heart remained in Madras, and home is where the heart is. For me, and for all the memories I have of this place …” she paused to take a good look around her room in the huge cabin she had been born and raised in. It was still as she had always known it, as she always would remember it. As she ended her eye roaming, she turned to look at the Indian girl who was more of a friend than a servant, in truth. Tanvi was her best friend, the sister she had never had. Holding the girl’s brown gaze with her green, she ended her statement.
“Madras will always be home to me.”
Amelia felt her eyes water, and when Tanvi moved quickly to catch a tear drop of her own, she offered her a small smile. It would appear that she wasn’t the only one feeling all sorts about leaving. If it was this terrible for her, she could only imagine how much worse it would be for Tanvi. This was her home, in every sense of the word. Her people, her roots ran deep into the soil of Madras. Yet, for Amelia, she had agreed to leave. Could it be that the reason for this was because Tanvi reckoned her heart was with Amelia? That Amelia was her home? Oh well, Amelia had truly never thought of it that way. Now, the thoughts overwhelmed her, awakening more feelings which weighed heavily upon her heart, threatening to drag her under. Tanvi seemed to understand, for in that moment, she smiled, nodding reassuringly. Amelia was blessed to have a sweet friend like Tanvi who was beautiful inside out. Of that, there was no doubt. With that simple gesture, she had told Amelia that all would be well.
Whatever would she do without Tanvi? Knowing that she would have her on this journey with her made everything seem so much better. The day Tanvi had declared that she would leave for London too had been a remarkable day and would forever be one of the happiest days in Amelia’s lifetime.
“Thank you, Tanvi. You have no idea how much better all these feel, knowing that I would not be doing this alone. It appears I have been selfish in my mourning. For that, I apologise. You too will be leaving your home, your family, and you do not even have to.”
The words that came as Tanvi’s reply melted Amelia’s heart. “You forget you are my family, Amelia. I have no mother, no father, no siblings. Only distant cousins who could never hope to take your place in my heart. You have been so good to me. You have treated me like a person, a friend, a sister, rather than a lowly handmaid. Until you say you no longer have need for me, I shall remain by your side, mohataramaan.”
Those words, said in that Indian accent that sounded perfect from Tanvi, loosened Amelia’s legs, and she found herself walking around her bed, covering the six feet distance to where Tanvi was, packing her luggage too. Her arms were wide open before she reached her friend, and as she did, she enveloped her in a tight, warm embrace.
“You mean just as much to me, Tanvi. You must believe that.” The embrace lasted for a few more minutes before both ladies let go of each other.
“Haan, I do,” Tanvi replied with a beaming smile.
“Achchha! Bahut achchha!” Amelia exclaimed, shaking her head playfully.
Over the years, Amelia had perfected her Hindi as Tanvi had perfected her English. That way, they easily communicated in both. Still, it sounded quite humorous to hear her speak the language in an adulterated accent as Tanvi would call it. It was for this reason that the pair dissolved into a fit of giggles.
They were still in the bout of laughter when the door to her room opened and her mother stepped in. Immediately, the laughter seized and something dense settled in the air. Quiet, Amelia manoeuvred her way back to her former position and resumed her folding. She was still slighted at her mother and was in no mood to engage in chit-chat with her.
The silence reigned for only a few seconds more before her mother broke the spell.
“I would imagine that I have not become so invisible that you cannot acknowledge my presence?”
Amelia felt the urge to roll her eyes and gave into it. Bent over like she was, her mother would not see that gesture, and hence, would not be bothered by it.
“You have been here four times today, Mother, and it is barely past noon. We have acknowledged your presence each time. However, if we must …” she rose so that she would stand straight, then dropped into a shallow curtsy.
“… Mother, to what do we owe this pleasure of your visit?” without waiting for her mother’s reply, she rose again, relieving herself from that position she had never quite found comfortable, and returned back to her work.
Louisa Hawthorne scoffed, rolling her eyes like her daughter just had. It made Amelia give a small smile. She was her mother’s daughter, after all. The only problem was, Louisa always seemed to forget that.
“Sarcasm does not become you, dearest daughter. I have only come to make certain that you are almost done with preparing for this journey. The ship leaves by six o’clock at dusk, and this is past one, already. Remember that we still have a two-hour carriage ride to the port. If anything, you should be ready to leave by three, so that we may make it to the port in time for you to board and settle into your cabins before departure.”
“We shall be ready then, Mother. There is only little left to pack. We shall be ready to leave in forty-five minutes. You may tell the coach to get ready if you would.”
Seemingly satisfied with that answer, Louisa gave a curt nod and turned to leave. She had already reached the door when she abruptly stopped and turned around again.
“That reminds me, I was hoping that as the hour neared, your anticipation to finally see England, your true home, would awaken. Sadly, that is not the case. It is quite terrible, I must confess, to see that you are not the least happy for this journey and the prospects it brings. If you are not happy to return home, you could at least be happy about the huge inheritance you have just come into. You are now an heiress with multiple estates and wealth to command as you wish. Does the thought of that not give you any thrill?”
Amelia dropped the last piece of cloth left to be folded and turned to look at her mother. “Some of us, many of us even, just want a simple life of love and happiness, Mother. Riches and class and all of those things are not my fancy. I have accepted this responsibility because I have to, it is mine to accept, and I do not shy away from a call to duty, I am no coward. However, I will not feign happiness until I find a reason to be truly happy. I have no doubt that England would be everything I have heard of and more. Perhaps, I might learn to love it, even more than Madras. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, Madras remains the only home I have ever known, and I reckon I am allowed moments of solemnness, as I think about how much I will miss this life, and how much I dread being thrust into a life I have never known. England may be my home, but when I step foot on its soil, I will be nothing but a stranger in a strange place, and that, is the truth.” She had spoken so calmly, so lowly that not a single soul outside of this room could have heard.
Louisa looked as though she would say something but appeared to change her mind. Her mouth opened and closed, several times, as her eyes widened and returned to their normal size. Then, shutting her lips, she spun again, stepped out of the room, and closed the door behind her quietly, never looking back.
Amelia let out a huge sigh as the room became void of her mother, again. She turned to look at Tanvi who simply lifted her shoulders in a small shrug. Amelia shrugged in return, hoping that she had finally succeeded in getting the message across to her mother. Consequently, she resumed her folding.
True to her words, they were ready to leave at exactly two o’clock. All of their luggage had been loaded onto the coach that would take them to the port, and with the help of Raleigh, her stepfather, both her and Tanvi were handed into the carriage. They were joined shortly after by her mother, and finally, by Raleigh himself. The couple were to see them off safely to board the ship. Her mother would not be leaving with them, as Raleigh was an administrator in the British colonial government here in India, just like her father had been, before that terrible illness took him away. She had been fourteen at the time, and her mother had only remarried two years ago. Raleigh was still in his years of service, and as such, could not leave. As for Louisa, her home was with her new husband, just like it had been with her former.
Amelia’s father, Sylvester Wright had been an upstanding man in England. He had served his country dutifully in the wars as a soldier, and he had served well in politics, as a leader. He had only been thirty summers old when the order had come for him to leave England for India, in service to his country. He could have refused, but he had not. It did not matter that Sylvester had only made Louisa his wife three months before. When his country called, he answered. So, he had uprooted his new family and moved to India. Unknown to them, her mother had already been pregnant at the time, and three months after they arrived in Madras, Amelia had been birthed. Bless her father’s soul, for he had been a father indeed. He had loved her and cared for her, had taught her to embrace the people of Madras, their culture as hers – all the while, never failing to teach her of her English heritage. He had been a great man of peace and of love. His death had come as a huge blow to everyone who loved him. Even the people of Madras had mourned for him as though he was one of their own. Adjusting to life without him had been difficult, but Amelia had succeeded in doing just that. Certainly, she still missed him, terribly. There were times she wished he was here, like at this moment. If he was, she would still have to return to England – certainly. Alas, he would be by her side, holding her hand, every step of the way.
Now, it was just her and Tanvi. The letter had come four weeks ago, informing her and her mother of the death of her two uncles – her father’s older and younger brother. They had both been involved in an unfortunate carriage accident that had taken their lives before either of them got the chance to produce an heir. All the properties and wealth they had left behind now lay untended, without a lord or lady to govern their affairs. As the only child of her father, the only remaining Wright heir, the mantle had fallen upon her. There was no way she could decline. Like she had told her mother, she wasn’t one to shy away from her responsibilities, to shirk away her duties. Still, that did not make leaving any easier to do. Her mother promised that there were people waiting for her return, that she would be welcomed wholeheartedly and that she would visit soon. Perhaps, she would be better off focussing on that, for her spirit could not continue to remain dreary. She was not made for such gloomy tide.
The ride to the port in Chennai was very silent, apart from a few remarks every now and then, and questions that needed answers. By the time they arrived at the port, the sun was beginning to dip further into the clouds, casting a soft orange hue across the sky. The carriage rolled to a stop, signifying that they had reached the end of the road. Raleigh was the first to alight from the carriage, as he was sitting by the door. Then, just like before, he handed all the ladies down, one by one.
Amelia was the last one out, and as both her feet stepped on hard ground again, she stepped away to get a good look around. She had come to the port several times. Not that she had ever had any real business being here, she had simply docketed along each time, for the fun and adventure of it. The spread of the sea awed her. She had bathed in a river, taken swims several times, but the river they had in the village was nothing compared to the beauty and size of the sea. She supposed this was one aspect of the journey she could be thrilled about. The water called to her, the waves, the gentle ripples, and the cool air. Four months travelling on water, that would take a while to become accustomed to.
Dragging her attention away from the sea, she turned around to take in the rest of the port. There were about twelve ships and fourteen boats she could see from this vantage point, all by the dock. There were two other ships on the sea, and a ferry, getting further away by the minute. All around, bustling and hustling could be heard and witnessed. The port was packed today with travellers, traders, and merchants. The wooden boards beneath her creaked as feet pounded against them. Hollering, whistling, chatters filled the evening air, consuming the silence that had reigned on their journey over. The more minutes she spent there, the more she felt her apprehension and anxiety slip away from her body. Throwing her head backwards, she dragged in a lungful of breath, and her nostrils became filled with sea air. For some reason she did not understand, she ended up in a fit of giggles. Giving in to the moment, she lifted one leg up and spun on the other, her sari flowing with her, exposing her belly to the cool air. She continued to spin, even as her eyes began to spin with her, until her mother called her to order.
“Amelia, people are watching. Moreover, we must board now. Your luggage has been unloaded from the carriage.”
She forced herself to a stop and swayed on her foot as she tried to regain her balance. When Tanvi would have moved to catch her, she held up her hands in refusal. Tanvi swiftly obeyed, and in no time, Amelia’s vision focussed, and she righted on her two feet. The woozy feeling was gone, and she no longer saw multiple of everything. Keeping a small smile on her face, she turned to her mother.
“Of course,” she began as she swallowed softly. “Please, let us proceed. Which ship are we taking, again?”
“Raleigh has secured private cabins for you on Her Lady’s Guardian. It is the only ship bound for England right now. The other one will only be available in a fortnight. Come, Raleigh shall lead the way.”
Upon her mother’s words, Raleigh began to move, and her mother followed by his side, her arm hooked by his. Amelia and Tanvi fell into step behind them, and behind them, footmen who were helping with their carriage. There were also Darnis and Ferg, two of her mother’s most trusted guards who would be accompanying them on the trip, for protection.
Manoeuvring their way through the crowd that was trying to get aboard Her Lady’s Guardian was no easy feat to accomplish, but they managed to do just that. As they reached the ship, up-close, Amelia found herself being wowed by its sheer size. It was huge and had sails that went as high as nothing she had ever seen. On the body of the ship was proudly inscribed ‘Her Lady’s Guardian.’ Amelia wondered about the name and the story behind it. Father had told her that every ship’s name had a story – some of war, many of love gone sour, and others of love that endured and won. Which was this?
Again, her thoughts vanished as a large man appeared in front of them, his big frame covering the sunlight and its blinding rays. Amelia felt grateful for the protection against the heat but slighted at the obvious intrusion. She looked up at the man who was so tall, dwarfing her 5’5” height, to regard him. He was an elderly man, looked to be in his late forties. A bit of his ragged long hair and beard were already turning grey – whether with age or hard work or blood, Amelia knew not. His face was not smiling, but his eyes were. It was quite easy to see that no matter how formidable this man looked or tried to look, he was a good man at heart. She instantly felt herself begin to relax. That was when the man spoke, confirming her thoughts.
“Sir Raleigh! You made it, I had feared you wouldn’t.”
Raleigh who was much taller than her, hence not much shorter than the man, gave into laughter as he shook hands and bumped shoulders with said man.
“We are right on time, Rogers. You know how it is with the female folk, they like to take their time.”
“Aye, tell me about it. It is the reason why I never take my woman on any of these voyages. Mi wife, a fretful lot, that one is. Always so concerned about not leaving anything behind that she ends up missing the ship itself. Whenever she needs to travel, I tell her to get another boat. Her Lady’s always keeps to time and will never wait for no woman.”
The two men shared another bout of laughter, as the man, whom she now knew to be Rogers and no doubt, the captain of Her lady’s, ended with a wink. As they recovered from their fit, the two men turned to look at them. Rogers’ eyes landed first on her mother.
“My Lady, I haven’t seen you in years. Ahhh … what an honour to finally see you again. I can see that the years have done you good. You are even fairer than I remember.”
Her mother blushed, as she always did when she was at the receiving end of such high praise. Not that Amelia could fault her. Every woman liked to hear they were beautiful, and her mother, was indeed, beautiful.
“Oh, come off it, Rogers! I can see that you have hardly changed yourself – although, I cannot say for appearance.”
Rogers barked another hearty laughter and bowed to kiss the hand her mother had offered.
“So many months on sea, in the harsh summer sun and the biting cold of winter does make one age quickly. Howbeit, it keeps the bones as young and alive as ever.”
“Of that, I am certain. How is Marilyn? It’s been over a decade. I hope you aren’t giving her any trouble.”
“I would say it’s the other way around if you asked me. Woman seems to have dedicated her whole life into giving me heartaches and headaches.”
“That is only because you wouldn’t just stay home and love her like a husband should.”
“Nonsense! The sea is my home; she knew this before she agreed to be my wife.”
“Then, you must let her come along with you. It does get cold on the sea, at night.”
Amelia cleared her throat then, although secretly delighting in the blush that suddenly suffused the older man’s face. To see such an old man go red at the implication of something so intimate awed Amelia. She decided instantly that she liked Rogers. It was quite easy to see that he loved his wife dearly. Perhaps, this answered her question regarding the story behind Her Lady’s. It was a story of love, endured and won.
Rogers joined her in the clearing of throat, while her mother and Raleigh simply had cheeky smiles on their faces.
“Now, now, Lady Hawthorne, it is improper to speak of such things before unmarried young ladies.”
“What things?” came her mother’s innocent reply. This time, Rogers smiled, aware that he had been defeated by her mother’s wit. Then, suddenly getting sober, he took her hands again. Amelia had a feeling his would be rough for hard work.
“I never got the chance to say this in person. Nevertheless, I do believe it is not entirely too late. I was truly devastated when news of Sir Sylvester’s death reached me. He was a great man. I had wondered if you would return to England after the mourning duration. I am so glad to learn that you have pulled through, remarkably well, and to see you married to another good man, I am glad. I wish you all the happiness that you deserve, Lady Hawthorne.”
The ache in Amelia’s heart throbbed – that place where she often felt the absence of her father the most, and she willed it to numb. Her heart melted when she saw her mother quickly brush off a tear with her sleeves, and the ache twisted even more. Her mother might never own the place her father had, but one thing was clear – Louisa had loved her husband dearly, and for that, Amelia loved her.
“Thank you, Rogers. You are one of the good ones too. That is why I was so happy when I heard Her Lady’s had made dock in Madras. I never could have been happier. You came at the right time. My daughter has to return to England as the only remaining heir of the Wrights’ inheritance, following the death of her father’s brothers who had been managing the affairs until now. There is no one I would have trusted better to transport her home. I believe she shall remain in good hands, with you.”
Rogers turned to look at her then, with those kind eyes that reminded her of her father’s. He gave her a warm smile, and she returned an equally warm smile of her own.
Then, returning his attention to her mother, he spoke, “You honour me, Lady Hawthorne. I give you my word that the lady and her entourage will be well catered for and kept safe, on my ship.”
She saw her mother’s shoulders drop in relief as she released a small sigh. “My thanks, Rogers. I am rest assured of that.”
Rogers nodded his head in acknowledgement and stepped away from her mother, so that he would stand before her.
“The first time I saw you, you were a bump in your mother’s belly, on my ship, headed for here. The second and last time I saw you, you were shy of two summers. Tall and healthy, with eyes too green and hair too fiery not to be your father’s. It has been eighteen years, and you have grown into a woman, more beautiful than I had reckoned you would. An honour to make your acquaintance again, Lady Wright. I hear you are wealthy now.”
It had to be the mischievous wiggling of his brow that had Amelia giggling as he finished. Because she knew this man would not be bothered by it, she closed her palms together in front of her, and bobbed her head as she said “Namaste.”
She had been right, for Roger’s eyes lit up at this, his joy apparent. “Ahh … I see you have become an Indian, through and true. Wonderful, if you ask me. Nevertheless, you may want to exchange the saris for English dresses when you arrive in England. The people there aren’t too keen on embracing other cultures.”
“Mother said so. It was such a short notice, there was no time to get English dresses before this journey. I shall have to buy some when we arrive. For now, my saris and salwar will have to do.”
“Certainly,” came his swift agreement. He tilted his hat at Tanvi afterwards and nodded at her guards. “Come on now. I shall show you to your cabins meself. I have prepared the best one for you and your handmaid. I am committed to making your journey as comfortable as I can. Come on.”
They began to move again, Rogers taking the lead this time, as they got on the ship and walked all the way across the deck to the accommodations. He led them downstairs to below, where the rooms were. They finally arrived at the first class lodgings and were shown their cabin. A state room, her mother had called it, as she related the details of the journey to her, some days before. Well, it did look like one. The room was large, even larger than what used to be her room in Madras. Right in the middle was a twin bed that looked comfortable, covered with fresh sheets too. Other furniture in the room included a bedside table, a gas lamp, a wardrobe and shelf, a round table and three chairs surrounding it. There was a window that looked out onto the sea. Its drapes were hung up, affording them the view of the blue sea, as it afforded light the privilege to spill into the room. There was also a screen which Amelia suspected served as privacy for a bath which must lie beyond. It was impressive, so much better than she had hoped for.
“Raleigh told me you requested that you share a room with your handmaid. I hope this meets your fancy.”
She turned to Rogers, beaming with a smile. “It does. It would serve me well as a home in the next four months.”
Rogers was so pleased by this that he grinned too. “I am happy to hear that. I shall leave you to get settled in, while I show the gentlemen their room. Welcome on board, Lady Wright.”
“Thank you, Sir Rogers.”
“Oh, I’m no sir. Just a lowly old man, captaining my ship I built out of my sweat and blood. Rogers is a mighty fine name to go by, My Lady. Feel free to join us on deck when you can.” With those last words, he tipped his hat again, and took his leave. Raleigh and her guards, followed him, leaving her, Tanvi, and her mother behind.
Amelia watched Louisa as she took a walk around the room, taking in the littlest details, no doubt. By the time she was done and seemingly pleased, she turned to Amelia. “This would certainly do. I must confess, Her Lady’s has gotten even better with the years. This is so much better than what I and your father had on our sojourn to this land. I am glad to know she has withstood and only gotten better with the years. You are in good hands, Amelia. Rogers will see that you are safe and sound.”
“I believe so too. Thank you, Mother.”
Louisa simply nodded. Then, she walked over to the luggage and picked up a small box that Amelia could not remember packing. While she was still trying to fathom the reason for its presence, her mother walked over and handed it to her. She received it swiftly and was surprised to see that it weighed lighter than she had reckoned it would.
“What is this?”
“Paperwork for the estates and all your inheritance. It contains everything you need to know. Do endeavour to go over them on the trip before you arrive in England. Fore knowledge would serve you well. And oh, here are some treats for you and Tanvi. I know how much you love these sweets. I had them specially made for you, so that they would last you a while.”
Her mother walked back to the luggage and returned with a smaller parcel this time. Sweets? The thought of such a thoughtful gesture had Amelia’s lips picking up at the edges and her eyes lighting up as she accepted this parcel too. When she saw this side of her mother, she could not help loving her, even more.
“Thank you, Mother. I shall take them well.”
“I am sure you shall.”
A horn sounded then, signalling that the ship was about to leave port. Four more would be sounded in the interval of five minutes. In that time, every passenger had to be on board and every non-passenger, off board.
“I must go now. Fare well, my dear. Travel safe. May the sea be kind to you and the storms even kinder. Write to me once you arrive in England, will you?”
Amelia nodded, as she suddenly felt a rush of feelings that pushed the water in her eye sockets forward. This was truly happening. She was truly leaving Madras, and her mother and everything she knew. Her mother seemed to have sensed the battle she was waging, for she stepped forward then, and engulfed her in a warm embrace. Amelia could not remember the last time she and her mother had shared such intimacy, but she let herself be held, savouring the feeling of comfort, the warmth, and the reassurance. They remained that way for what seemed like ages until the second horn blared. Swiftly, they broke apart, and right on cue, Raleigh appeared by the door.
“Louisa, we have to get off the ship now. They shall set sail any moment from now.”
“I know. Just a minute, Raleigh. This is the first time I shall be apart from my daughter. Allow me to relish this moment.”
That shut Raleigh up, and he immediately stood back. All this while, Tanvi had been quiet beside her, observing everything. Her mother walked over to her at that moment and cradled her cheeks in hers.
“You may only be a mere handmaid, but it is no secret that you two are more of sisters than mistress and servant. Take care of her, take care of each other. The Lord go with you.”
Tanvi’s eyes brimmed with tears, and Amelia lost control over her own. Her heart swelled as she watched her friend bend to touch her mother’s feet. Louisa immediately dragged her up and engulfed her in an equally warm embrace. Although, it was very brief. Still, it meant all the world to Amelia.
The intensity of the moment clogged Amelia’s throat, and she found herself coughing to clear it as she wiped away her tears. When she finally trusted herself enough to speak without falling apart, she did.
“We shall see you two to the deck and wave you goodbye – if you do not mind, that is.”
“Of course not. We would love that, won’t we, Raleigh?”
Raleigh’s gaze shifted from her mother’s to hers. “Certainly, we would. Now, we truly must get going.”
As if on cue, the third horn blared, and in unspoken agreement, they all emptied the cabin, Tanvi securing the door closed, behind them. Quietly, they walked up to the deck and completed their farewells, and her mother and stepfather disembarked. They remained on the dock though and turned around to watch them as the ship set sail.
As they began to pull away, they waved, she and Tanvi at her parents, and her parents back at them, until the sun disappeared completely and the sky began to darken until she could only make out their figures on the dock. It was then she stopped waving, relieving her arms which now hurt. She turned to face Tanvi.
“Well, I suppose we are going to England. I am beginning to feel a slight wave of vertigo. It will take some days to find our sea feet. In the meanwhile, I suggest we get to those sweets mother gave us.”
Tanvi nodded thoughtfully in agreement. “It does sound like a good plan. The journey would be better with them.”
Both girls wiggled their brows conspiratorially and as they dissolved into another fit of giggles; they linked their arms and began to march towards their cabin.
Four months, thought Amelia as they descended the stairs. Four months until she had to face her destiny.
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Despite being born of English parents, Amelia Wright had lived all her life in Madras, India. She had never stepped a foot in England and never expected to do so. To her surprise, this changes when the news of the deaths of only living relatives arrive. Her uncles had left no heirs behind, which makes Amelia the rightful person to take over the title of Countess. Until she marries though, the handsome Duke Wentworth has been assigned as her guardian. But what happens when the person who captures all her attention is the dashing Duke and not her intended? Will she give into this powerful temptation, defying all consequences?
Alexander Wentworth lost his wife to childbirth a year ago. It had been a loveless marriage, yet, he had respected and cared for her. When he is asked to be guardian to Amelia Wright, the daughter of the his mentor, he does not hesitate to leave his duchy behind. He is willing to be everything the new heiress is in need of. But when he sets his eyes upon her though, sparks fly! Her beauty is irresistible, her sight captivating. Will he chase a chance to be with her, even though she is promised to another man?
One kiss proves that the fire between them burns bright, and they cannot stay apart from this fierce chemistry. Forces rise against them though, and they soon realize that they have to join hands, if they want to find a way to be together. Will they make it, against all odds?
“A Guardian for the Ravishing Countess” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.