rowan tree blossom

Rough draft of the new novel's chapter ten

BOER WAR GIRL working title

The river trip, speedy in the launch, put Melisande in a reflective mood. Would this be the last time she travelled in the steam launch? Had it been included in the sale Jeri and Richard talked about? What about the boatman, her syce, Vinay, who dealt as well with the donkeys as he did with the boat’s temperamental engine? Vinay could never afford to buy the launch. She must make her brother take more care and thought for the servants.

Two river dolphins rolled through the water, shying away from the launch as it chugged out to midstream. Would she never see them again? She mustn’t cry, surely she’d cried enough. She surreptitiously dabbed her eyes and watched  the river. Vinay steered cautiously, he dodged the smaller boats which ferried people from one bank to the other or downstream to town. There were enough of them to make the launch course more zigzag than straight. She commanded her nervous tummy to settle and resolutely looked down stream.  

 The Company House was a Victorian red brick crenelated edifice so out of tune with Indian architecture that it seemed as if it had been flown in on a magic carpet from London and dropped down, plonk, beside the river, dwarfing the other buildings with its fiercely red top storey. Melisande thought of her mother’s disparaging comments and wished she was making polite jokes with her as they approached. The rear of the building faced the road and the façade overlooked the river. Its well painted wharf supplied berths for private launches or smaller supply boats. The space between building and river had been turned into a British lawn where the Company held its private garden parties for the sahibs and memsahibs. Vinay nosed the launch into place alongside the dock. Melisande shivered. Her family had attended one or two, but never enjoyed the trivial fuss and constant harping about ‘home.’

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