The Bargain: A Port Elizabeth Regency Tale: Episode 2

BOOK: The Bargain: A Port Elizabeth Regency Tale: Episode 2
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Contents

The Bargain

Coming to London has Given Precious Jewell a Taste of Freedom...

Illustrations

Dedication

Books by Vanessa Riley

Cast of Primary Characters

Prologue: London, February 4, 1816

Chapter One: London, March 1, 1819

Chapter Two: Boarding the Margeaux

Chapter Three: Restless at Sea

Chapter Four: Man Overboard

Chapter Five: The Captain's Woman

Chapter Six: A Better Man

Chapter Seven: Cabin Fever

Chapter Eight: Docking at Port Elizabeth

Extras

Episode III of The Bargain

Author's Note

Glossary

Sneak Peak: Unmasked Heart

Excerpt: Unmasked Heart

CHAPTER ONE

Sneak Peak: Madeline's Protector

Excerpt: Madeline's Protector

Sneak Peak: Swept Away

Excerpt: Swept Away

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THE BARGAIN

A Port Elizabeth Regency Tale: Episode II

Vanessa Riley

Dear Beautiful Reader,

The Bargain
is a serialized story told in episodes. Each episode averages from three to eight chapters about 15,000 to 30,000 words. Each episode resolves one issue. Emotional cliffhangers may be offered, but the plot, the action of the episode, will be complete in resolving the main issue.
 

My promise to you is that the action will be compelling, and I will tell you in the forward how long the episode will be. This episode is eight chapters long.

Enjoy these Regency Tales set in South Africa.

Vanessa Riley

Coming to London has given Precious Jewell a taste of freedom, and she will do anything, bear anything, to keep it. Defying her master is at the top of her mind, and she won’t let his unnerving charm sway her. Yet, will her restored courage lead her to forsake a debt owed to the grave and a child who is as dear to her as her own flesh?

Gareth Conroy, the third Baron Welling, can neither abandon his upcoming duty to lead the fledgling colony of Port Elizabeth, South Africa nor find the strength to be a good father to his heir. Every look at the boy reminds him of the loss of his wife. Guilt over her death plagues his sleep, particularly when he returns to London. Perhaps the spirit and fine eyes of her lady’s maid, Precious Jewell, might offer the beleaguered baron a new reason to dream.

In this episode:

The vastness of the cresting ocean isn't enough to drown Precious Jewell's high spirits or her dreams of doing for herself, but a false move and an old nightmare have placed her in more jeopardy, Lord Welling's bedchamber.  
 

Captaining his schooner to Port Elizabeth was his only refuge, until his ship was invaded by land lovers, his son and his challenging caregiver. Perhaps, Miss Jewell's vivacity and audacity are just what he needs to quell rebellion amongst his crew and his heart.

The Bargain
is the first Port Elizabeth Regency Tale.

Illustrations

A portion of the Portrait of Catherine Worlée, Princesse de Talleyrand-Périgord (1762-1834) inspired the portrait of Eliza Marsdale set on the cover. The work of art, Portrait of Catherine Worlée, is in the public domain and can be found at Wikicommons.

The cover is an inspired work of Sanura Jayashan commissioned for this book.

Dedication

I dedicate this book to my copy editor supreme, my mother, Louise, my loving hubby, Frank, and my daughter, Ellen. Their patience and support have meant the world to me.

I also dedicate this labor of love to critique partners extraordinaire: June, Mildred, Lori, Connie, Gail.

I give special thanks to Piper, the lady who held my hand and led me to discover Precious Jewell’s fire.

Love to my mentor, Laurie Alice, for answering all my endless questions.

And I am grateful for my team of encouragers: Sandra, Michela, Kim, and Rhonda.

Books by Vanessa Riley

Madeline's Protector

Swept Away, A Regency Fairy Tale

The Bargain, A Port Elizabeth Tale, Episode I

The Bargain, A Port Elizabeth Tale, Episode II

Unmasked Heart, A Regency Challenge of the Soul Series

Sign up at
VanessaRiley.com
for contests, early releases, and more.

Copyright © 2015 Vanessa Riley

Published by BM Books

A Division of Gallium Books

Suite 236B, Atlanta, GA 30308

All rights reserved. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

ISBN-13: 978-0-9907437-5-0

Cast of Primary Characters

Baron Welling (
the second Lord Welling): the late uncle of Gareth Conroy.

Precious Jewell:
an enslaved servant brought from South Carolina in 1821 as the personal maid of the late Eliza Marsdale Conroy.
 

Eliza Marsdale
of Charleston, South Carolina:
 
The late wife of Gareth Conroy. The marriage was arranged by the (2nd) Baron Welling and Eliza’s father, a wealthy cotton plantation owner.

Gareth Conroy
: the third Baron Welling, succeed to the title upon the death of his uncle. He has been commissioned to lead the colony of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Jonas Conroy:
the son born to Eliza Marsdale. She’d died shortly after childbirth.
 

Mr. Palmers:
the butler for Gareth Conroy. He runs the staff at Firelynn Hall.

Old Jack:
a groom employed by a neighbor to Firelynn.
 

Mr. Narvel:
Gareth Conroy’s typical first mate.
 

Mrs. Clara Narvel:
wife of Mr. Narvel.
 

Mr. Grossling:
A member of the War Department.

Ralston:
Gareth Conroy’s first mate on this voyage to Port Elizabeth.
 

Prologue: London, February 4, 1816

Her mistress’s groans pierced the air, breaking Precious Jewell’s heart again. The birth had gone all wrong. Eliza wasn't going to make it.

Precious coddled the newborn in her arms, smoothing linen about his tiny body. He looked mighty content, for all the ruckus his early comin' caused.

Lowering her gaze to the sweat-dampened bedsheets, the spatters of crimson swaddling the blanket by Eliza’s stomach, only questions remained. Why Eliza? Why now?

The doctor shifted from his post at the door. “There’s nothing more to be done."
 

His starched tie fell asunder. He looked very different from the know-it-all who’d arrived hours earlier. If the man had only listened and taken the babe sooner, Eliza wouldn't be so weak now.
 

"I'll get the vicar.” The cowardly man left the bedchamber.

The butler stalked away from the bed, and passed Precious as if she weren't there. He rounded to the window. Palmers’s old stone face looked broken. “How will we tell His Lordship?”

Useless menfolk; thinkin' of other men, not Eliza.

They should be encouraging her mistress, not counting the seconds for the reaper to appear. “She ain't gone yet. Maybe you should send prayers to that Sunday God of yours.”

Palmers returned to the canopied bed. “Watch your tongue, Jewell. There’s no need for your opinions.”

“Stop, you two.” The weak cry slipped from Eliza. “Let my final moments be of peace.”

 
Tears pressed on Precious's eyes. Oh, how flushed her poor friend looked. “Let me give you something to drink, Miss Eliza. You might get strength from water. Don't you want some…?”

Eliza’s head slowly shook. Her pinkie shifted and waggled. It was her way when she wanted to appear demure, but still show disapproval. “Not now. Something more important.”

Precious moved to the head of the massive bed frame. “Open your eyes, and see your son. You gotta fight for him. Your husband needs you, too.”

The lady’s pinkie started to shiver like it would fall off. “He's made his choices.” The kitten-like voice bore a sharpness, a biting pain. “Let him burn for going off to his uncle. Tell him that.”
 

Palmers spun and clutched his dark mantle. “He’s to be the baron tonight. He had to be at his uncle's last breath. Duty claimed him, mum. You will be the next Lady Welling.”

At this, Eliza’s eyes opened. Red-rimmed pupils flashed before settling on her son. “For a few minutes, I have a title. Write my father of it. He's paid for it."

"Hush now, Miss Eliza. You should save your strength. In a few days, we'll be getting you styled for another cluster of parties. You'll be the new Lady Wellin' Welling."

Gasping, as if her lungs leaked, Eliza closed her eyes. "What’s that worth? No more promises on things… can't touch.” She clenched her teeth together as her body vibrated, her fingers latching on to the mound of bedclothes.
 

Precious turned. The babe shouldn't witness his mother’s passing.

“It's fine, friend." Eliza's voice became softer. "Let me see him one more time.”

Wiping a tear on her emerald sleeve, Precious rotated the babe to a secure position within the crook of her arm, and slipped back to the mattress. "He’s beautiful. Your son’s beautiful."

Eliza's hand moved as if to touch the boy, but then dropped to the bed. “Promise me, Precious. Love him for me. You must do this.”

“I’ll do what I can for him. Now, hush with this fever talk.”

“I free you, Precious. Let everyone know that I freed you. And you will mother this child for me.”

Was this one of Eliza’s jokes? She needed to be careful. That Sunday God might be watching. “Do you want to try to hold him? Maybe the warmth of his little body would keep warmth in yours--”

“I’m serious. You’re free if you will love my son.”
 

The solemn vicar and the doctor stepped into the room. The clergyman started reading from his Bible.

Eliza screamed, then took a breath. "Precious Jewel is a free woman. No more my slave. She will care for my son, Jonas."

Palmers stepped backward and moved to the window. “His father should name him and, as his heir to the barony, perhaps he should be Gareth, the lord’s namesake.
 

“It shall be Jonas.” With a shaking limb, Eliza lifted a weak hand and brushed the foolscap on the baby’s crown. “Promise me. I’ve done some bad things. Giving you freedom is a good thing. Promise, P.”

Even as Precious nodded, Eliza’s hand fell with a slap onto the bedsheets.
 

Her eyes closed, never again to see the morning.
 

The baby squirmed, then started to cry.
 

Tears leaked from Precious’s eyes, too, for Eliza would never hear Precious yell, "Yes!"
 

Chapter One: London, March 1, 1819

Sun poured through the bared windows of Firelynn. Precious Jewell stood tall, fingering her apron, and tried to absorb the difference. The gloomy shadows that normally filled the nooks and tight dusting spots between the heavy dresser and the burgundy papered walls of Eliza's bedchamber had disappeared. Precious took her cloth and oil polish and wiped down the mahogany furniture again. It didn't make sense, cleaning in a room that would be closed up. The baron said he was taking her and Jonas to Port Elizabeth, but mean old Palmers acted as if nothing had changed. Was he right? Was this was a whim that would pass?
 

Maybe Lord Welling would sober up and forget. Well, he wasn't drunk when he gave her her papers. His shocking blue eyes winced when she first refused to sign them. No, the man had plans to take his indentured servant and his son to Port Elizabeth, regardless of Palmer's stubbornness.

One more pass with the rag, and the surface gleamed. For few seconds, she imagined primping Eliza for a ball, pinning her gold
en
locks up into a braided chignon. She was happy in this grand bedroom. A wave of sadness sank into Precious. Except for Jonas, she wouldn't feel her friend in Port Elizabeth. Would Precious forget the memories that gave her a small measure of joy, like Eliza teasing about her penmanship as she taught Precious letters, or even the one time she let Precious sashay around in one of her old party gowns?

Before her eyes got misty, the door to the bedchamber opened.

Palmers and two maids plodded inside. "Done in here, Jewell?"

"Yes, sir."

He looked at her over the high bump on his nose. "Good. You can help box up the late mistress's gowns. Seems Lord Welling wants them all given to charity."

BOOK: The Bargain: A Port Elizabeth Regency Tale: Episode 2
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