The only thing that Dominic could be certain he knew about Emma was that she had been lying to him. He wasn't even sure that Emma Woodhill was her real name. So why on earth was he falling in love with her? Especially when he was already engaged to someone else?
Despite all this, Dominic was determined to discover the truth and give Emma all the help she needed....
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July 17, 1998
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Excerpt from Dear Deceiver by Mary Nichols
Emma stood leaning over the rail of the Silken Maid as it made its way up the river estuary, but she could not see the shore for the mist which blanketed everything except the deck at her feet and the grey water immediately around the brig, in which floated the detritus of a large city: lumps of wood, cabbage leaves, even a dead dog. It was every bit as dirty as the Hooghly in Calcutta, though the smells were different, less spicy, more rank.
The mist was enough to soak her cloak and make her auburn hair spring into tight little curls, but it was nothing like the fog of Calcutta, nor the torrential rain of the monsoon they had left behind them; it was simply wet and uncomfortable.
So this was England! This, grey, murky, cold place was the country which the British in India referred to so longingly as home. Even her father, who had lived in India over twentyfive years, had spoken of it with a wistful note in his voice.
She and her brother, Teddy, had been born in Calcutta, had left it only in the summer to go to the hills away from the oppressive heat; they had never dreamed they would one day be sailing into London docks on a cargo ship with everything they possessed contained in one tin trunk and two canvas bags.
The mist lifted as they left the flat estuary behind and entered the London docks and she could see the dock basin was filled with ships, flying the flags of all nations and dozens of different shipping lines, but predominantly that of the British East India Company, known to everyone employed by it as The Company.
Dockers were swarming everywhere, moving backwards and forwards from the warehouses which lined the quayside, loading and unloading cargo: sacks, barrels, and great oil-skin wrapped bundles were being winched out on hoists, to the accompaniment of shouting and banter and the noise of squealing chains.
As the brig bumped against the side and the lines were thrown out, her brother joined her. He was tall and well built for his sixteen years, but there was still something of the boy about his features and the expression in his blue eyes. They were still bleak; he had not yet come to terms with the death of the father he idolised. But then, neither had she.
She turned to smile at him. 'It's a little like Calcutta, don't you think? All this shipping and the mist over the river and men at work." She paused. 'Not Indian, of course."
"Colder," he said, pulling up the collar of his coat. 'Mrs Goodwright said it would be pleasantly warm at this time of the year. April is surely springtime in England." 'Ah, well, you cannot take a great deal of notice of Mrs Goodwright. She thinks Calcutta winters are too hot to be borne." Mrs Goodwright was the adjutant's wife and had appointed herself their guardian when the news arrived that their father had been killed in action.
Emma could see Captain Greenaway making his way towards them. He had a full, almost white, beard and craggy features which bore evidence of long periods spent on the open deck in all weathers. But the toughness was mitigated by twinkling blue eyes and a jovial smile.
"Well, here we are, ma'am, safe and sound," he said. 'A welcome sight, don't you think?"
"Yes, indeed," she said, watching two men coming up the gangplank onto the ship, not sailors or dockers, but officials of some sort.
"I am sorry the weather is not welcoming. April showers they call it. The sun will come out directly and you will see what a pleasant country this is, not too hot, not too cold."
"Yes, I am sure you are right." 'You will be wanting to go ashore. As soon as the revenue men and the health inspector have done their work, you will be free to disembark. I will have your trunk taken to the quay." He held out his hand. 'I shall be busy later, so I will say goodbye now."
She took the proffered hand. 'Goodbye, Captain. And thank you for everything."