The wind was out of the south off of the ocean and Bella-Rose shivered, tugging her shawl closer. She hated the ocean. It had stolen her father and brother away weeks ago, leaving her alone in this strange land called Australia because of the foolish promise of gold. They had been washed overboard in a storm, and there had been no rescuing them. Any hope of finding Grady, her brother's friend, was gone with them. Now, she was alone.
Idly, she brushed a stray lock of hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear. Some small part of her wondered what she was going to do. Some girls were desperate enough to sell themselves to survive, but there was no way that Bella-Rose could bring herself to do that. It was against everything she believed in. She had to find someway of surviving--her own way.
So, she walked towards the market from the pier, looking for something, but not knowing what. Maybe a kind smile from a stranger or a help wanted sign. She knew that the market would be filled to the brim with people from every nation and this would be the best chance to find employment.
She paused and sucked in a deep breath, hesitating for the briefest of moments before squaring her narrow shoulders and joining the throng of milling people. Bella-Rose's senses were immediately assaulted by sights and smells that seemed to force the world into this one street. Slowly, she made her way from business to business asking for employment. Each time, she would be asked if she could figure numbers or write her name, but it would always end in disappointment.
The sun was high as Bella-Rose wearily left the market. It was too hot to continue this pursuit. Her stomach growled loudly and, dejected, she settled herself underneath a tree and began to sing softly to herself.
There was nothing here for her, and Bella-Rose knew that there was no way for her to afford the passage home. She chewed on a fingernail and stood. Maybe she could beg the captain to take her back home; he had told her that he would try to help her however he could. It wasn't her fault that this little adventure had gone so poorly.
Yes, that is what she would do, Bella-Rose decided, and she rose, carefully dusting her skirts. She pressed her way back through the market, new determination surging through her veins. She grabbed her skirts and lifted them higher, hearing her shoes strike against the wood of the pier, only to see the vessel leaving.
"No!" She cried out. Bella-Rose's heart sank. That had been her last hope to get home, but she had waited too long.
Someone touched her shoulder gently and she turned. Bright blue eyes smiled at her underneath a shock of red hair. His face was weathered from months in the hot sun, but there was no denying it. Bella-Rose wrapped her arms around his neck, kissed both of his cheeks, and stood there for a long moment.
"Grady...I...ohh!" Bella-Rose stammered, as he wrapped his arms around her waist. She finally pulled herself together and she whispered, "I thought I'd lost you. I didn't know what to do."
He smiled softly against her cheek and whispered something causing a flush of color to flood her cheeks. Bella-Rose dipped her head bashfully. Then she nodded, a small smile crossing her lips.
Maybe this grand adventure in Australia was going to turn out after all.
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