Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: India (02/12/09)
- TITLE: Amelia's Heart
By Lisa Collins
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When most people think of India these days their minds take them strait to Kipling and his stories of mirth and jungle. Well, I could tell Mr. Kipling a thing or two of India! There are no palms and sea here! Back in London the average reader believed that Mowgli was behind every tree, but this is 1900—one must move with the times!
Time was something that I did not have. Although, it looked like I was alone, if I were going to steal the Magistrate’s daughter, I would have left someone nearby. How would I elude them? I could try to blend in; I had seen the camel sellers use camouflage to capture runaways. I was wearing red, from head to toe! I looked like a ladybug on a mother’s linen table cloth.
Speaking of mother...she would never do what I am about to do. I made a large pile of sand and put my red dress, shawl and hat over it and anchored securely. I would just have to take my chances keeping the shoes. It was going to even colder, if I made it out of this alive, I would need to thank mother for being so persistent about the profuse undergarments she demanded I wear!
I was still, somewhat conspicuously white on sea of gold, but less so than before. Setting out I scanned the horizon, and could just make out a figure on the upper rim of the dune before me. Father was fond of saying, “People only protect what they do not want you to see or know,” that must be the way back to town.
Circumnavigating dunes is not for the faint of heart. By the time I had made my way around the lower part of the dune my shoes were full of sand and my lower back ached from fighting gravity. The figure on the rim had not moved, and was likely asleep. I would not want to be him when Lord Tagert arrived!
Tagert was sure that he could manipulate my father into giving up his appointment as Magistrate. He wanted to remove Father and replace him with someone more malleable, expediting his illegal activities.
The air was getting colder as the sun began its rapid winter decent. I pulled the top layer of my petticoat up over my bare shoulders—it would have to do. After what seemed like ages, I could make out the crumbling walls that surrounded Jaisalmer. I would need to sneak into the English district, and by now Tagert’s men must know that I had escaped.
Close to the main gate I traded my lower petticoat for a beggar’s cloak, and stealthily made my way through the back alleys to the canal that surrounds the Magistrate’s manor.
There was one other thing that mother would have been uncomfortable knowing; how I slipped past the guards most nights to spend time with Rakesh. Even though he was an officer serving England, wouldn’t have matter to mother. She is a purest, and Rakesh is Indian.
I waited for the change of the manor guards and slipped through the hole in the hedge. If you looked right at it, you wouldn’t notice, but if you touched it, you would feel the hedge give just enough for one to slip through. Making my way through the halls I could hear Tagert and Father arguing.
“Now, Canning, sign the document! Or you’ll never see that pretty daughter of yours again!” Lord Tagert yelled.
I burst through the door in my disheveled state, “No, Father!”
“Amelia!” Both of the men said in unison, but Tagert was the first to compose. He grabbed me by the hair and held a dagger to my throat.
“Sign it or she dies.”
“I will do whatever you want, just don’t hurt her,” Father said.
Suddenly I couldn’t hear anything but ringing. Tagert lurched backward, dropping the knife, he fell to the floor. Father rushed to me. As guards filled the room, my eyes locked with Rakesh’s as he lowered a smoking rifle. He put his hand on his heart, and walked away.
Now I love him more.
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