Author’s note: This is the first part of a finished novel. As you can see it is still in editing but I wanted to share this excerpt with you while it is being given the finishing touches.
Please pardon our dust while we’re under construction the entire novel will be available as soon as possible.
CHAPTER ONE – PAGE 1
The first rays of the Rising Sun tinted the dark gray clouds above in brilliant hues of red, orange, and violet as the merchant steamer, Star of Kenya, plodded slowly along 3 miles off the eastern coast of Mozambique. The low gentle swells rolling slowly beneath the rusty old cargo ship’s hull were barely noticeable as they marched along in endless legions toward distant beaches where are they’d throw themselves against the forbidding shores of the brooding dark continent of Africa.
Measuring in at 160 feet in length from stem to stern and 42 feet across her beam, the old steamship regularly plied the unpredictable and often storm-ravaged seas between Djibouti and Madagascar. She carried mostly trade goods between the two busy ports along with the occasional passenger.
The first rays of sunlight sparkled and gleamed from the tops of the bow waves Illuminating the rust pitted portside of the ship. Only her first mate who was at the wheel, and three of the ship’s crew were on deck to see the Sun make its appearance that morning.
None of the crewman, all of whom were from Kenya, noticed when the door leading to the forward cabins opened and a woman stepped out onto the deck. Or when she quietly pulled the door closed again behind her.
She was dressed in an off-white colored, full length dress and wore a matching wide-brimmed sun hat.
She carefully balanced a large mug full of strong Arabian coffee on a cracked saucer as she stepped to the port side railing of the ship and leaned against it to watch the sunrise, and take her morning coffee.
A slight, breeze was blowing across the deck of the ship carrying with it the scent of the distant jungle from the mainland to her nostrils. It mixed pleasantly with the strong earthy aroma of the coffee in her mug and the Briny smell of the seawater below her. Ahead, to the north, she could just see the island of Camaros which they would pass by 10 am that morning as they sailed into the leeward side of the big island nation of Madagascar from the North.
By 5 p.m. they would be docked in the port of Madagascar the capital city, and she would be able to go ashore again for the first time in what seemed like 6 months to her. Even though it had really only been 3 weeks since they had set sail.
The Star of Kenya’s rather Spartan accommodations we’re not really all that bad and the food, although it was hardly the first class fare that she was accustomed to, it was hearty and hot and there was always plenty of it.
The weather on the other hand had been anything but cooperative or the least bit congenial for the first two weeks of the voyage. As a result, the Star of Kenya was now running two full days behind schedule.
The lady, stood only 5 foot 5 inches tall in her low heels and she was quite lovely to look upon, in spite of her weight problem that is. She stared out across the seemingly endless sea towards the slowly rising sun. As her thoughts began to wander across the miles that lay now behind her she tried not to think about what lay ahead.
16 months before oh, she had graduated at the top of her class from the best finishing school in Boston. The night of her graduation banquet her parents pulled the rug out from under her entire life.
Just as she was finally Gathering up the nerve to tell them that she had been dating a boy from Salem, one that she knew they would never approve of, her father cleared his throat and dropped a bomb at her feet.
Your mother and I have something to tell you sweetheart and there’s really no easy way to say it. Her father said without preamble.
“What’s wrong daddy, is somebody sick? You’re not dying are you? Is it mother, is mother dying?” She asked, expecting the worst.
“No dear, it’s nothing like that at all.” Her father assured her.
“Mom is not sick or dying? You’re sure?”
“No, don’t be silly dear, I’m fine!” her mother assured her.
“Uh, well, the thing is you see,” her father said ignoring her questions and picking up where he’d left off. “Well, no nothing like that. The truth is we are almost flat broke my dear.” he said in a voice low enough for only her to hear.
“What do you mean we’re broke? How could we be broke Daddy? I thought we had lots of money.”
Uh, no honey, what we have are a lot of the trappings of money. We still have the big house in The Villa on Martha’s Vineyard, and everything else, but at the rate our money is running out verses how slowly our investments are gaining it back we are going to have to liquidate all of our assets in 2 years and declare bankruptcy. When that happens we will out on the street without, as they say, so much as a pot to piss in, or a window to throw it out of.”
Oh, my God, Edward! Do you have to be so crude about it?” Her mother had interjected.
“Well, no, but it’s the truth isn’t it, Helen?”
“Even if it is the truth that does not mean that it is acceptable to use such deplorable language in front of two ladies, Edward or in polite company I might add,” she said indicating the gathering comprised of the cream of Boston’s social elite.
“Yes of course dear. You are right, and I apologize, but that is the truth of the matter Katie.” He said, addressing the young woman again. “Unless this dreadful war in Europe ends very soon. And short of a miracle, Hitler’s storm troopers aren’t very likely to lay down their machine guns any time soon.”
“What are we going to do daddy? We can’t just go out and live on the street like the homeless people down by the river.” Katherine said pitifully.
“And we are not going to live by the river either sweet pea. I can promise you that. And, uh, to that end, your mother and I have come to an agreement of sorts with the family of Andrew F Stanton the Third. An agreement which you might call one of mutual enrichment.”
“Who is Andrew F Stanton the Third? Have I met him before?” Katherine wondered as she searched her memory.
“Actually, you did meet him once before, dear.” Her mother said. “You met him at Rebecca Cunningham’s cotillion in 1941. You remember that don’t you dear? It was the day before those murderous Japanese kamikazes attacked Pearl Harbor.”
“Yes, dear, I do remember that. I could hardly forget. But I do not remember anyone named Andrew F. Stanton the 3rd being there.”
“Sure you do dear, I introduced you to him and his lovely mother Mildred Stanton. Andrew was with her and then you two danced. Don’t you remember him at all?”
“Oh. Him,” Catherine said wrinkling her nose in disgust at the memory of her first and preferably last encounter with the crude and odiferous oaf who had introduced himself to her as Andrew, but whom she not-so-fondly remembered as Handy Andy. This was due to the way he had groped her like a piece of meat while they were dancing. Right there on the floor of the ballroom. “Yes mother I do remember him now that you mention it. But what does this deal you made with his family have to do with me?”
“Go on Edward, tell her.” Her mother said handing the subject back off to her father.
“Well you see Katie it’s like this, Andrew’s father has agreed to help us get out of this mess in exchange for our doing him a small social favor of sorts.”
“Well, such as consolidating our resources so to speak.”
“That’s wonderful Daddy, but I still don’t understand what any of that has to do with me.”
“I said tell her Edward,” Her mother injected in a low insistent voice.
“I am telling her Helen, if you don’t mind not interrupting that is.”
The Stanton’s have promised us that they would do this as long as we agree to give your hand in marriage to Andrew Stanton the Third.
They did what!?! Katherine exclaimed snorting loudly with laughter which she tried, unsuccessfully, to cover with her hand. I certainly hope that you told them which pipe they can Stow that crazy idea in daddy. She said.
I most certainly did not young lady. Her father said sternly, his face clouding with anger.
Well then I hope you did not tell them that I was going to marry that pig of a human being because I can assure you that I most assuredly will not.
For your information young lady I did tell them you were going to marry him. Just as soon as you graduated from Sanborn as a matter of fact.
What?! Daddy! How could you?! Andrew F Stanton the Third is a loathsome Pig! In fact I believe I would much rather marry a pig for real then to even so much as go on a date with him. He is nothing but a boorish creep! A
Be that as it may Katherine the deal is done already and you are promised to be his wife. Pig or no Pig.
Mother! Katherine cried.
I’m very sorry my dear but my hands are just as tired in this matter as your own.
My hands are not tied in this matter mother. I am not your property that you can just buy or sell it will was it you can do with in any way that you were pleased to do with me! I will not marry Mr. Andrew F. Stanton the Third for all the tea in China or for all the gold in the world and you cannot make me marry him either! So you and father are just going to have to come up with some other plan or some other daughter because this one is never going to marry that pig of a man!
Keep your voice down Katherine Anne Wyndham! Her father growled through his teeth at her. I am still your father and you will not yell at me in public like I am some common street rabble.
I’m sorry Daddy, Catherine said in a more subdued voice. But I am still not going to marry that pig of a man. He disgusts me to no end! Now Katie, he’s not a pig. He’s really a very nice boy and he’s not at all bad looking either. He would be quite a catch for any young lady, her mother told her.
Wonderful, let’s throw him back in the ocean then and give all of those young ladies another fair chance at catching him I say. And good Riddance to him at. Katherine said with a flippant laugh.
You can be as flippant as you like about it, liked about it, Katherine, her father said sternly. But I am afraid the deal is done. All of the papers have been signed and you have no choice but to marry Andrew 3.
Oh yes I do to have a choice father. I’m not a child anymore I am 19 years old and a grown woman in the eyes of the law. I can do anything that I very well pleased to do and I cannot be legally compelled to marry anyone that I do not wish to marry of my own free will. You cannot tell me what to do any longer.
That is all quite true Katie, we cannot tell you what to do. And you are a grown woman that is true. But for the last 19 years of your life you have lived underneath our roof and you have shared in our Good Fortune to have you not?
Well yes, but…
But nothing. Your fortune is still tied directly to our fortunes Katherine or do you think that the butter on your bread comes from heaven?
Of course not Daddy but…
There are no buts to it Katherine. If we go out into the street then so do you. Do you really want to see your dear Mother living in a Salvation Army homeless shelter? Or yourself in one for that matter? Do you want to see me standing in a soup kitchen line with the sign that says will work for food on my back? Is that what you want to see happen to us Katherine ? her father asked.
Of course not Daddy! You should know better than that!
I thought I did Catherine but now I’m not so sure of it anymore. Her father said sadly shaking his head.
There has to be some other way Daddy. Catherine said morosely I do not want to marry that man!
Why not? What is so wrong with him? He has good looks, he has Intelligence, he has…
He has money. Katherine stated flatly.
Well, yes, that too of course. But I was going to say he has a lot of charm.
Oh yeah sure he does, Katherine sneered wrinkling up her nose, he’s just about as Charming as any snake can get if you ask me.
Oh come now Katie really! Her mother tisk tisked at her, “is that the only objection you have to marrying the Stanton boy?” She asked.
“No, mother that is not the only objection I have. That’s just the first one of many objections I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure I can think of several more. The main thing is that I don’t love him!” she exclaimed into her napkin. “Good Lord mother I barely even know him at all. How can you expect me to want to marry him under these circumstances? How would you have liked it if Grammy and Grampy had told you that you had been sold off in a pre-arranged marriage to some man that you didn’t even know or love?” Katherine demanded to know. She noticed just then that her father’s face was turning a bit crimson and he had to look away from her so as not to meet her eyes.
“How would I feel?” Her mother asked quietly looking at her unflinchingly in the eye. I felt much the same way that you do now Katie. Except in those days it was far more common and acceptable than it is now. Back then our families did this in order to keep our Bloodlines pure, and our fortunes within our own families. In our day, it was the daughter’s duty to her parents and to the honor of her family to do as she was told. Secretly I was completely adverse to the idea but it was not my place to say so. Therefore…
You went along with it? Katherine asked incredulously as the import of what she was saying began to sink in.
“That is correct and I married your father sight unseen. And in time I grew to love and respect him because your father is a very good man.”
Yes I know you did mother and I can’t believe you two have never told me this before now either. But this is not about you and Daddy getting married now. This is about you telling me that I have to marry somebody that I have seen and that I do know I cannot stomach the sight of. I don’t care what anybody says, I do not love that creep and I will never love him in a million years either! Katherine stated defiantly.
What does love have to do with anything? Her father asked her. If you need to marry him out of love than Do It For the Love of your mother and myself.
I do love you both and you know I do Daddy, but I just cannot marry any man that I do not love! Much less a man that disgusts me in the special way that mister Andrew F Stanton the third disgusts me.
But dear you have only met him that one time. Her mother reminded her.
Yes mother, and when we danced he practically raped me with his hands in his eyes!
And you think that is a good reason for hating the man so much? Her father asked.
Well it certainly works for me. She replied. I’m not some two-bit flapper floozy in a taxi dancer joint you know.
Well of course you’re not dear, her mother said soothingly, but is that really so bad? I mean honestly dear all the young men are that way. It’s just the exuberance of Youth is all that is.
Well then let him go share his youthful exuberance with some hooker or whoever else pleases him. Personally I don’t want anything to do with either his exuberance or him and that is my final word on the subject of mr. Andrew F Stanton the Third.
Well then I hope you have somewhere else to live all lined up Katherine because you are not going to be staying under my roof any longer. Her father informed her.
What?! Daddy! You can’t be serious! Mother!
I’m very sorry dear but I told you before my hands are tied in this matter. Her mother said looking away.
I am dead serious Catherine, and when you do go you will go with nothing more than the clothes you are wearing on your back. So if you like you may just get up and leave right now. Her father said looking her dead in the eye.
Well perhaps then I will do just that! Catherine said defiantly. I don’t need your roof or your clothes! I have still got my trust fund and when I turned 12 it will all go to me. Katherine informed him as she stood up to leave.
That’s what you think young lady. Her father said with a snort of derision.
What do you mean by that?
I mean that if you leave this table and disown us like you seem to have your mind set upon doing, then you will be disowned by us before you make it as far as the next street corner. I will get on the telephone to Baxter Olson my attorney I will have you removed from the will and have your trust revoked.
What are you talkin about? You cannot touch my trust fund and you know it.
If you wish to bet your future on it then just walk on out that door and you’ll find out exactly what I can and cannot do young lady. I set up that trust fund with the provision that I could also revoke it at any time for any reason I chose. So if you leave your mother and I this way then you will also leave me no other choice but to revoke that trust fund and use the money to keep our heads above water. Her father informed her.
And then what am I supposed to do?
If I have to go to all that trouble young lady then I really do not care what you do from there on out to be perfectly honest with you. You can go Panhandle for spare change, so yourself, or get a job like everyone else does. It will no longer be my problem once you walk out on us. And if you do I do not ever want to see you again either. He said with finality.
And you are just going to sit there and go along with this mother?! Catherine asked pleadingly but her mother simply turned away, tears Welling in her eyes sobbing silently. Privately.
Believe me sweet pea this is not what either of us wants. But, if you leave us here holding the bag when we need you the most then you will leave us with no other choice.
Surely there has to be some other way Daddy! Katherine said morosely as she sat back down again her head hanging down in abject defeat.
I wish there was another way my dear but unfortunately there is not. If there were we would have found it.
You can use the money from my trust fund to keep us going until things get better. Katherine offered hopefully.
If you don’t marry Andrew Stanton now that all of the arrangements have been made and the agreements have all been signed, and sealed, Katherine. It will take a great deal more than the money contained in your trust fund to get us out of the poor house and keep me from going to debtors prison. Her father said vetoing her idea entirely.
Oh come now Daddy they don’t have any debtors prisons anymore. Katherine scoffed.
The Internal Revenue Service has them it’s called Fort Leavenworth federal penitentiary. I’m telling you there is no other way Katherine. Don’t you think your mother and I have already explored every possible Avenue we could think of before we agreed to do this? We don’t want to do this anymore than you do sweet pea but there are way too many lives that are at stake here. There are way too many families that are depending upon us to let them down. If our company if we go under then thousands of workers in our factories are going to go under with us. Many of those workers are War wives or widows whose husbands are over in France and Italy fighting the Nazis or they died fighting them and came back in a box. Those women have children that they have to support too. If Wyndham Incorporated goes out of business now somebody will keep them working on the wartime production lines, but once this war is over they will no longer be needed and they will all be laid off. The factories will be sold off in pieces and then what will all those workers do to make a living, to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads? This is something that is far bigger than just the three of us Katie and now I am very sorry to say this but it is all up to you to save us.
So when is the wedding going to be? Katherine wanted to know. Let me guess it’s going to be tomorrow night isn’t it? She added contentiously. She was determined to make them pay for every moment they spent with her from here on out.
Don’t be silly gear of course it’s not going to be tomorrow her mother said. The date has not been decided as of yet because Andrew volunteered to join the Army last year. They gave him a field commission and promoted him to Lieutenant so he volunteered for the Air corps and is learning how to fly fighter planes.
The wedding is not going to take place until after Andrew gets out of the service, her father explained.
Does he have any idea when that will be?
He signed up for a two-year Tour of Duty and that was 9 months ago so he will be mustering out in 14 more months which would make it February of 1943. So we will plan for the wedding to take place sometime shortly after that event.
And what happens if Andrew F Stanton the Third happens to get shot down and killed by the Nazis before we can tie the knot? Then what?
Well, if that happens then you obviously can’t marry him and Andrew Stanton Jr will not drive Our Lives into the ground financially.
You say he’s going to be over in Europe flying fighter planes against the luftwaffe over Germany, eh? Katherine asked hopefully.
Well, I don’t know that he will actually be flying over Germany but it will be somewhere in your I am sure. Why do you ask?
Oh no reason really. I was just thinking that it it would be a crying shame if our Brave Young Andrew the third got shot down and tortured to death by Adolf Eichmann and his henchmen. Katherine said with a wishfull smile and an evil cackle.
End of chapter one?
Even though Andrew F Stanton the third had been shot down one time over Belgium and again over Germany while escorting B-52 bombers during the firebombing of Dresden he was only slightly injured both times and was never captured by the enemy.
Captain Andrew Stanton the third was honorably discharged from the US Army Air Corps in Allied occupied Italy on January 2nd of 1943. On February 4th and messenger from Western Union arrived at the Wyndham Mansion informing Katherine that the date for the wedding would be May 4th. Only 3 months from the day.
So where is this wedding going to be? Is it going to be here or at Martha’s Vineyard? Katherine had asked her father who had taken the telegram. Neither one he said.
Well then where? If not here at the summer Villa where is it going to be held?
I really don’t think you’re going to like this, Katie, but six months ago Andrew’s father was appointed the special ambassador to the Belgian Congo from the United States. Her father explained.
The Belgian Congo? Where is that at, in the South Pacific somewhere, or in the Bahamas? She asked hopefully.
No, not quite, sweet pea.
South America then?
Am I even close?
No, not really. Her father admitted. The Belgian Congo is closer to South Africa than it is to South America.
South Africa?! What?! Are you kidding me?!
No my dear I’m afraid I am not kidding you. It seems that your beloved fiance has gone and bought himself a coffee plantation there. Right outside the capital of Leopold bill so that he could be close to his parents.
Oh, well that’s just wonderful isn’t it? Catherine cried. Not only is he dragging me off to Africa to live with Tarzan and the Apes, he is also a raging mama’s boy! Good God Daddy what have you gotten me into here?!
Now she was nearly in the home stretch of an epic trip that had taken her all the way around the world at her father’s expensive course. At at her insistence, Catherine and Windham, soon-to-be mrs. Andrew F. Stanton the Third asked herself those very same questions now is she brought the mug of steaming coffee to her lips and sipped from it. You paragraph a sudden and unexpected voice with a clipped South African accent startled her just then, but only slightly.
How red the sky is this morning Miss Windham. The voice said Softly beside her.
Turning around to see the face that went with the familiar voice, Catherine found herself looking into the smiling features of the star of Kenya’s and Captain, Erin Munda. A kiswahili man who had grown up in Cape Town.
Yes, but it is so beautiful, captain. Katherine replied with a smile.
I that it is Miss, but in Mother Nature’s Beauty always lies her greatest Danger.
What do you mean?
The sea holds and it’s depth many beautiful things such as the anemone, the lionfish, the box jellyfish , and the blue octopus to name a few. To the I they are exceedingly beautiful animals but to man or beast they are exceedingly deadly creatures. On land there is your own banded coral snake who’s diminutive size and bright colors skin belies its highly toxic nature. The same thing goes for the beasts and the pleura of Africa. How Majestic are the elephants? How comical are the chimpanzees? How beautiful and full of grace is the cheetah, the leopard, and the lordly lion? But every one of these beautiful animals will kill a man who fails to respect the danger of such natural beauty. The same lesson can be applied even to something as beautiful as the sunrise. The captain said indicating the Rising Sun with a sweeping gesture of his hand.
Really? How so? Katherine asked.
There is an old saying among sailors letgo is red sky at night is the sailors delight for there will be calm weather and smooth Seas ahead. On the other hand it says red sky in the morning sailor take warning for a storm is looming on the horizon. We will be getting into some bad weather tonight miss Windham. A major storm is rolling in on us from the East.
Is it going to make us any later arriving in Madagascar? I am already two days late for my wedding as it is. Katherine explained.
Yes ma’am I know this but the delays could not have been avoided.
I know this and I am not blaming you captain.
But we will already be tied up at the quays import long before the storm hits us I can assure you of that madam. The captain assured her. Can you paragraph you can tell all of that just by looking at the color of the clouds in the sunrise? Katherine asked incredulously.
Well I did grow up here on the sea you know, and a good sea-captain learns over time how to read the weather by the signs. The captain told her.
Honestly? Katherine asked, giving the captain a dubious look that suggested she did not quite believe him.
Absolutely still madam. But listening to the latest weather reports from Madagascar on the ship shortwave radio never hurts if one wishes to confirm one suspicions either you know. He said is he flashed her a brilliant white smile that was warm and genuine.
I think if everyone in South Africa was his nice and friendly as Captain Banda and his crew Catherine. To herself perhaps being exiled in the Belgian Congo on a coffee plantation would not be all bad. Just mostly bad. You are a true Renaissance Man Captain. She said as she as she returned his smile.
Indeed madam, the captain said, and now if you will please excuse me mrs. Wyndham I am afraid that I must be on my way to relieve my first mate on the bridge before he falls asleep at the wheel and puts us up on the beach. Captain Eren said as he bowed low and tipped his White Captain’s Cap before taking his leave of her.
Certainly captain, good day. Katherine said as he went on his way leaving her there alone with only her thoughts to keep her company once more. She leaned her elbows back down onto the polished wooden railing and sighed as she sipped at her coffee.
Not one single Telegram had come for Catherine during her Cruise down the coast. This was only because she had not told her mother and father that she had booked passage on the star of Kenya rather than catch a flight out of Djibouti. That would have taken her on a roundabout route to live pool Bill and gotten her there more than a week ago.
After an unscrupulous ticket agent had assured her that the star of Kenya would get her to Madagascar from where she could connect with a regular weekly flight to bujumbura the capital of Burundi from there she could catch a charter flight to leopoldville on a private line. One that just happened to be operated by the second cousin of the ticket agent, by marriage.
Instead Katherine had told her parents that she would be in Madagascar on the 3rd of May and from there she would arrive in leopoldville just after Dawn on the 4th.
Just in time to get a hot bath, slip into her bridal gown the one that she had brought with her all the way from Boston. Courtesy of the city’s Premier dressmaker put on her makeup and a company Ambassador Andrew F Stanton Jr. Down the aisle at Saint Bartholomew’s where Andrew F. Stanton the 3rd would be waiting to give her his ring and his disgusting last name.
We’re poor little Handy Andy has been waiting for me since yesterday! She confided to the Rising Sun and the rolling sea with a wicked giggle. One that clearly said she could not be held accountable for the unforeseeable delay in her arrival at the side of the so-called man that she had been practically sold you like a piece of real estate by her parents.
There would surely be a pile of impatient and angry sounding telegrams waiting for her when she got into port in Madagascar. And they can just wait there too for all I care. She assured the Sun and sea as she sipped at her coffee again. She let her mind wander away women skiers for the moment and allowed herself to relax and enjoy her last few precious moments of peace and pre-matrimonial Bliss.
A nagging little voice inside of her head kept telling Katherine that there was most assuredly going to be very little, if any, post matrimonial Bliss involved in this entire ordeal. You paragraph the seagulls Wheeling lazy circles overhead searching for an easy meal in the warm currents cried and seeming agreement. To the east blood red storm clouds moon on the horizon an ominous portent things yet to come slowly they faded to iron Blue and Gray as the sun rose above them.
Old Andy the third be surprised though when he sees how much weight his bought-and-paid-for bride has put on question mark ? Katherine chuckled to herself. She pulled a Hershey bar out of his side pocket of her dress and unwrapped it lovingly. It will be worth all of this just to see the look on his face.
Ever since she had boarded the Transcontinental Airlines flight in New York City Bound for San Francisco, first class of course, Katherine had been stuffing herself silly with every manner of sweet and treat that she could get her hands on.
In San Francisco Catherine had boarded a luxury liner Bound for Tahiti. For nearly two weeks she had literally gorged herself to the point of nearly bursting on cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, and of course plenty of hot fudge. By the time she had gotten into Djibouti, Edward windham’s pretty little Lassie Catherine was one very fat and Sassy Lassie who weighed 35 lb in 2 months do you ever fit into the wedding gown folded carefully away in her luggage.
As far as Catherine was concerned that was a beautiful thing because she would rather be slow roasted over an open flame then be caught dead wearing that hated dress anyhow.
The only reason she had not already thrown it into the ocean months ago was because of how satisfying she knew it was going to be too suddenly discover that it did not fit her just hours before the magical moment when she was supposed to say I do to somebody that she didn’t and never would love.
Katherine chuckled wickedly is she dipped the bar of pure milk chocolate still steaming hot coffee and swirled it around melting the sweet confection into the already sugary beverage.
Yum yum! She said with delight as she tasted the the coffee again. It was a habit she had picked up from a French passenger on board the cruise to Tahiti. You just keep your shirt on Andy Boy oh, she said, your sugar baby is on her way!
Ah! But, first your sugar baby has to put on a few more pounds for you with a big stack of chocolate chip Belgium waffles, fresh whipped cream, butter, and a gallon of maple syrup! She said with a flourish as she popped the rest of the Hershey bar into her mouth and headed towards the tiny dining room reserved for passengers end of chapter 1
Begin chapter 2
Just as the captain had predicted, the star of Kenya was tied up at the pier in in the port of Madagascar long before the threatening Skies could make good on their threats.
The Gangplank was lowered to the deck and the captain himself escorted Catherine down to docks and / 2 the Customs shed where he used his local connections with the agent and got her cleared through customs quickly.
Meanwhile three of the crew from the ship loaded her luggage into a waiting taxi that would take her to the hotel. There they said their goodbyes.
At the hotel the expected pile of angry and impatient sounding telegrams were awaiting her arrival just as she had expected. But Katherine was in no hurry to read them.
The first thing that she wanted to do was to dive into a luxuriously hot bath tub full of soapy water that was not salty 4 Exchange. After that Katherine plan to go back downstairs to the Hotel dining room and eat until she could not stand up anymore and had to be ruled back up the stairs to her room. After that she planned to sleep until the following afternoon on a soft down-filled mattress that for the first time in what seemed like an eternity did not move or swing or role in any way. Something that the new world traveler had only recently come to fully appreciate the value of.
Unfortunately such plans are the very building blocks of folly even to the most skilfully laid-out constructs of mankind and my.
Excuse me Madam, the hotel manager said clearing his throat as she took a big envelope full of telegrams in one laced glove hand and began to turn away from the registration desk.
Yes, what is it? Catherine said impatiently turning back again towards him.
I am very sorry if it seems rude Miss Wyndham but you see I was instructed to personally see to it that you read your dispatches just as soon as you arrive.
Oh, I see. You were instructed where you?
Yes Madam that is correct.
Instructed by whom?
By your father, Edward Wyndham madam. Can you said for me to tell you that they were of the utmost importance and urgency and that you were to read them before you went anywhere else.
Did he at least pay you for the servicer? Catherine wondered with a raised eyebrow
I am afraid that it would be most impolite for me to answer that question madam. I did however assure both your father and Ambassador Stanton that I would carry out their instructions to the best of my ability. Please madam, the telegrams. He said indicating the big manila envelope with a look that was more pleading than pushy.
Very well then Katherine side, I would not want you to get into any trouble with the Ambassador or keep those telegrams waiting another second while I go freshen up from spending the last two weeks at sea. She growled test delete as she turned back to the registration desk and set her handbag down on the deeply polished top of the registration desk.
Unfortunately such plans or the very building blocks of folly even to the most still fully laid out constructive mankind and my.
Excuse me madam, the hotel manager said clearing his throat as she took big envelope full of telegram in one last glove hand and began to turn away from the registration desk.
Yes, what is it? Catherine said and patiently turning back again towards him.
I am very sorry if it seems rude Miss Wyndham but you see I was instructed to personally see to it that you read your dispatch is just as soon as you arrive. Your paragraph oh, I see. You were instructed where you? You paragraph yes Madame that is correct.
Instructed by whom?
By your father, Edward Wyndham madam. He said for me to tell you that they were of the utmost importance and urgency and that you were to read them before you went anywhere else.
Did he at least pay you for the service sir? Catherine wondered with a raised eyebrow
I am afraid that it would be most template for me to answer that question madam. I did however assure both your father and ambassadors Stanton that I would carry out there instructions to the best of my ability. Please Madam Quest, me Telegram. He said indicating the big manila envelope with a look that was more pleading then pushy. Your paragraph very well then Catherine side, I would not want you to get into any trouble with the ambassador or keep those kilograms waiting another second while I go freshen up from spending the last 2 weeks at sea. She growled test the lie as she turned back to the registration desk and set her hand back down on the deeply polished top of the registration desk.
No Madam. The manager read can I get you something to drink from the restaurant or the bar madame? He offered as a kind of peace offering.
A glass of lemonade or some iced tea would be nice if you have it. Extra sugar please.
I’ll get that right away madam. The manager assured her as he gestured to a young African bellhop dressed in livery to run and get the beverage for her.
When Catherine pulled the Sheaf of telegrams out of the envelope she saw that they had all been arranged in the order they had arrived. The first one was dated May 3rd the day that she was to have arrived initially. That telegram read simply,
Katherine- I have arranged for transport via private plane to bujumbura and from there another Charter takes you to leopoldville.The telegram was sind simply mother and father.
The second Telegram was dated May 4th and it had been received by the telegraph operator at 12:37 in the afternoon. The wedding had been scheduled for 12 noon so they had already figured out that she had not made it to the plane when it came into the Airfield without her on board.
Katherine- plane arrived you did not. Hotel in Madagascar manager advises you have not yet arrived. We are in leopoldville awaiting your arrival. Please contact soonest – father.
Oh good lord Jesus they’re both in leopoldville? Catherine groaned out loud.
Yes Madam, and they have been frantically trying to contact you the manager said as he wrung his hands nervously.
Yes, I can see that for myself, Catherine said waving the rest of the unopened telegrams beneath the managers nose.
Of course you can Madam, he said as he suddenly found something else to do somewhere else. Just then the bellhop came scurrying back down from the restaurant with a tall glass of iced tea with extra sugar for her. He said it down on the registration desk with a slight bow.
“If not, then I will Telegraph them when I get to Bujumbura,” Katherine hollered back over her shoulder as she hurried out behind the bellboys who were already stuffing her luggage into the trunk of a beat up old taxi. The old car looked as though it had been used more often to plow muddy fields with than as a form of public transportation.
TO BE CONTINUED VERY SOON.