Chapter 31: Home Again

Copyright© 2005 by Argon

Historical Sex Story: Chapter 31: Home Again - This is set twenty years after the events of "In the Navy". The lives of Anthony Carter and his family are turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of Ellen, a young shepherdess. Follow the lives of the Carters and their friends and relatives during the late regency era and explore foreign countries and cultures with them. History is not necessarily dry!

Caution: This Historical Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   mt/ft   Fa/ft   Teenagers   Consensual   Romantic   Rape   Lesbian   Heterosexual   Historical   Tear Jerker   First   Oral Sex   Masturbation   Petting  

The journey down the River Nile was almost anticlimactic after the excitement in Cairo. Maddalena and Ettore were strictly confined to the cabin. Nothing would be risked so close to safety and the influence of their former master might easily extend to Rosetta where they were to be picked up for the journey to Malta. The roughly 120 nautical miles from Cairo to ancient Rosetta, or Rashid, took almost three full days and they arrived there in the evening. A Maltese ship, the Valetta, was lying at the quay, ready for boarding. Mr. Clive went ashore and returned an hour later announcing that the passengers would transfer in the morning by orders of the harbour master.

The Carters had hoped to board in the cover of darkness, but that was not to be. It was decided to dress up the siblings as Indian girls again, and Neeta and Sadie worked on that from sunrise. Their luggage was transferred first and they could see that all of the larger sea chests were opened and inspected cursorily. Clearly, the soldiers on the quay were searching for the fugitives. The Carters and their entourage could not delay the disembarkation any further and seemingly there was no way to get Maddalena and Ettore across the quay unseen. They had to run the gauntlet hoping for the youngsters’ masquerade to suffice. Maddalena and Ettore had to carry Anthony and Sally on their arms providing additionla cover and Ellen made them understand to walk right behind her with their heads bowed.

At the last moment Ellen took a deep breath. She told Neeta to take off the wool shawl she usually wore around her shoulders, exposing her in all her colourful and strange beauty. Ellen herself took off her head scarf and opened her hair. The waist-long blond tresses flowed freely over her back and she took a moment to brush them into a golden cascade. Then she gave the sign to leave ship.

The 120 feet from the barge to the gangplank of the Maltese ship seemed like the longest walk Ellen had ever made. She forced herself to walk leisurely, with her head held high and looking around without seeming concern whilst her hair moved in the soft breeze. Neeta and Sadie bracketed Maddalena and Ettore between them, and Sir Anthony with Harriet brought up the rear together with John Little. Harriet had taken off her head scarf too following Ellen’s example and her reddish hair, only slightly streaked with grey, was another eye catcher.

The quick glances around told Ellen that she had not miscalculated. Every eye on the quay was on her; her brazen display of feminine beauty left the workers and soldiers staring. Not one of them had ever seen hair like hers, let alone on a woman clothed in the Western style. Scarcely anyone seemed to cast a single glance at her entourage and those who did where captured by Neeta’s naked midriff and the gay colours of her silk sari or by Harriet’s red hair. Whatever the reasons were, Ellen’s or Harriet’s hair, Neeta’s tummy or the effective masquerade of the two youngsters, they made it safely to the gangplank of the merchant man.

Richard had not spoken a single word on the short walk, but once they were in their cabin his hand let go of the sword hilt he had held the entire time. Similarly Sir Anthony, who had held one pistol at the ready under a coat he carried over his arm, relaxed.

“Ellen, that was brilliant!” he conceded, “although I thought my heart would stop at any moment.”

The enormity of the risk that she had just run made Ellen weak and she had to sit.

“It worked!” she expostulated. “This was probably the most brazen act I ever undertook.” A silly giggle rose to her mouth shaking her shoulders. “It will be a while before those soldiers can walk again.”

“I’ll speak with the captain,” Sir Anthony said. “Perhaps we can weigh anchor today. I think everyone is on board and I’d rather not wait until somebody becomes suspicious.”

Sir Anthony rose and left the cabin. He found the Maltese captain on the quarterdeck and introduced himself. Fortunately, the man spoke good English and Sir Anthony was able to persuade him to leave early, in fact within the next hours. He cited urgent government business and promised an extra gratification for captain and crew.

Two hours later the Valetta went up-anchor and crept out into the big stream. Before the sun set they had cleared the mouth of the river and passed the last Egyptian coastal battery. It was done.

The harbour of La Valetta was one of the most beautiful sights Sir Anthony had ever seen. The fortifications built by the Knights of St. John were awe-inspiring, shining almost white before the blue sky and the green sea. Most importantly, Malta was British and they would have a chance to rest in peace and security.

As travellers on government business they were invited to the Governor’s residence, the former palace of the Knight Commanders. The British Governor, Vice-Admiral Lord Hornblower1, was junior to Sir Anthony, and he greeted them effusively. They had last met in 1802, during the blockade of Brest, and Sir Anthony knew him as a brilliant officer who like himself had made it from rather humble origins. He too mad married wisely. His wife, Lady Hornblower, was the youngest sister of the Duke of Wellington. Some of Lord Hornblower’s achievements and distinctions were rumoured to be owed to this fact. As Foreign Office representative Richard received a friendly welcome in his own right, whilst Lady Hornblower who did not have children of her own opened her heart to Little Anthony and Sally.

For once, Ellen met a woman whose social skills and standing far surpassed her own. Lady Hornblower had been her brother’s hostess at the Vienna Congress and she knew almost every crowned head in Europe. She also found out quickly who the Lamberts had brought with them. Maddalena and Ettore were the only children of the Savoyan Viceroi of Sardinia, Guiseppe-Maria Robert, Conte di Castelvero, and they had been taken captive almost two years ago when the ship that took them from Genoa to Cagliari was taken by pirates out of Tripoli. Lady Hornblower immediately saw the political impact – the Viceroi would be indebted to the British forever. She therefore saw to it that Maddalena and Ettore were clothed according to their stand and given appropriate accommodations in the palace.

Ettore and Maddalena had picked up some English but a translator was procured who helped to interview the youngsters. Ettore could tell a little bit about the small harbour on the Algerian coast where they had been landed, an information Lord Hornblower would pass on to the Mediterranean Fleet of the Royal Navy. By contrast, Maddalena would not talk about her experiences at all. Her demeanour had become withdrawn, almost morose. Ellen began to sense the reasons behind the girl’s withdrawal and one evening she pulled Ettore to the side to question him. He was stubborn however in his refusal to talk about his sister. The loyalty between the siblings was strong.

On the next evening after dinner, Ellen visited Maddalena’s room. The girl looked up at her with her usual mixture of gratitude and stubbornness. Ellen sat down on the bed beside the girl. She knew that Maddalena had enough English already.

“Maddalena, won’t you tell me what happened to you?”

The girl’s eyes flew open and she shook her head, clearly pleading to be left alone.

“Maddalena, we can’t help you if you don’t tell us.”

She shook her head again letting her black curls dance.

“Nobody help me,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Don’t say that please! We are your friends. Has it to do with that merchant? Did he force you?”

A look of confusion was on the girl’s face now; clearly she did not understand.

“The man, the merchant, Maddalena, did he take you?”

Maddalena’s eyes filled with tears as she nodded.

“He say want me, not hurt Ettore.”

“He threatened to hurt your little brother if you did not give in? Hurt, how?”

Maddalena pointed at her own crotch and made a cutting motion with her hand, the gesture crystal clear in its meaning.

“Your brother was safe then?” Ellen asked softly.

The girl shook her head. “Man say, Ettore too big, must cut him. I kill guard at night and we run, find you.”

“Then you saved him twice,” Ellen said taking Maddalena’s hand in hers. “You are a brave girl, a wonderful girl, the best sister Ettore could find. Your father will be proud of you.”

A bitter laugh broke forth from the girl’s mouth. She said something in Italian, but the only word Ellen could make out was convento - monastery. Ellen understood. The girl, her maidenhood taken, would never find a husband in the circles of her father. From Maria she had learned that in Catholic countries girls like Maddalena were locked away in a monastery to keep the family name unblemished. Her heart went out to the girl. Only sixteen and her life and dreams were over for all purposes. Out of impulse she put her hand on Maddalena’s arm.

“Come with us! The governor will see Ettore safely to your father, but you can come with us. If you don’t want to live with us, my mother will take you in. You will be free.”

To say Maddalena was shocked was an understatement. She looked at Ellen with an open mouth whilst she tried to digest the words. Ellen saw a cloud of doubt on her face.

“What do when with you?”

“Whatever you want. First, you will have to learn English of course. We will help you find a place in life.”

“Why you do that?”

Yes, why did Ellen want to help this girl? Was it because she was already accustomed to pick up strays? Was it because life had dealt a bad hand to the girl? Or was it because the young girl’s dark beauty appealed to her? The last thought was unsettling, but she dismissed it quickly. In the end, she thought she had an answer.

“When I was your age, I was alone in the world and miserable. My parents were dead, and I had to run from my stepfather just as you ran from that merchant. But I found a wonderful woman who took me in and a wonderful man to marry me. I’ve had so much good fortune that I want to give back some of it to those who are in need.”

She had spoken slowly, waiting after each word for understanding to show in Maddalena’s eyes. When she was finished Maddalena nodded in response.

“I wanta come with you.”

Ellen felt a big relief and hugged the girl spontaneously. For the first time, Maddalena hugged her back.

Ellen spoke to Lady Hornblower on the next morning and explained the gist of what she had found out and what she planned to do. Her hostess agreed emphatically that the girl deserved better than to be locked away in a monastery. Together they went to his Excellency’s office and presented the case. Lord Hornblower was easily persuaded (he wisely followed his wife’s counsel in all social matters) and he promised to organise transportation for Ettore to Cagliari. Lady Hornblower suggested that he sent his young cousin, Lt. Jonathan Hornblower, who served as aide-de-camp to the governor, to accompany the boy and to deliver him into his father’s care.

Next, the two women went to speak to Maddalena and her brother and found them together in the boy’s room. Both had been crying apparently and their eyes were downcast as Lady Hornblower explained her offer. The siblings looked at each other and after an encouraging nod from the boy, Maddalena consented.

A few days later everything was arranged. HM sloop Clotho, 22 guns, under orders from the port admiral, sailed for Cagliari with the boy and with letters from the governor and from Maddalena to the Viceroi. She had spent days over her letter explaining her motives and what had happened to her in Cairo. Assuring him of her love, she asked for forgiveness for her failure to return.

Ellen held Maddalena’s shoulders from behind as they watched the sloop leaving the harbour under her white sails. Ellen felt the silent sobs that shook her young charge and hugged her more tightly, assuring the girl of her friendship and support.

Three days later, they boarded the regular steam packet, the Hermes, owned by the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company. Lord Hornblower and his wife personally saw them off. Lady Hornblower and Ellen parted as friends and they planned to meet once the governor returned to England. They lived on a manor house near Maidstone in Kent, not too far away from London, where they had a town house in Bond Street.

Eight days after leaving Valetta, they reached Gibraltar where they took coal. The Hermes was a better ship than the Hugh Lindsay, with more room and more efficient engines. The top heavy construction was the same however, and she rolled heavily in the seas. After leaving Gibraltar, where they took a few more passengers, the next stop was Oporto. They took leave from the ship for a day, strolling the narrow streets of the city and enjoying the food in a tavern overlooking the harbour.

Two days later found them on their last leg, 1100 nautical miles from Oporto to London. The mood changed. They had been gone for more than a year. More than a year, they had not received news from family members and friends. Suddenly Harriet began to fret over whether Eleanor was all right. A lot of things can happen in sixteen months, including pregnancy and child birth, illness and death. They all grew nervous as the Hermes plowed her way across the Bay of Biscayne and into the English Channel.

Reaching the Thames estuary, the Hermes once more proved her superiority over sailing ships in that she steamed upstream against the running tide. It was a Sunday, March 21, 1831, when the Hermes reached her berth in the Pool of London. Billets were sent to Cavendish Square and to Boscombe Drive to inform Harriet’s mother and Eleanor of their safe return. Then a number of rented cabs were procured. Whilst Sir Anthony and Harriet drove for their own house and John Little headed for his home, the rest of the party piled into three cabs and gave Cavendish Square as their destination.

Driving through London’s streets was almost unreal after the last months, Ellen found. And two people were missing, Mabel was dead, and Millicent would not return to England for another half year or more. The new additions, Neeta and Maddalena, looked about with wonder in their eyes. Never had either of them seen the like of this capital.

When the cabs drew up in front of their house, old Lady Lambert was already standing at the top of the stairs. Ellen rushed up the steps to hug her and was shocked to feel bones under the fabric of the dress. Lady Lambert had become terribly thin, almost emaciated. She saw the shock and worry in Ellen’s eyes.

“Thank God you are back safely, my darling girl. Richard too. I was worried that I would not see you again. Let me see my great-grandson!”

Ellen motioned to Neeta and the black haired young woman with the strange features and clothing hesitantly approached the old woman, Little Anthony on her arm. A peaceful smile showed on the old woman’s face.

“What a strong boy! Hello, Anthony!”

Little Anthony decided to be graceful and smiled. Lady Lambert looked at Neeta who bowed in her fashion.

“Greetings, Memsahib! I am Neeta. Memsahib Ellen told me of you. I am your servant too.”

“Neeta is a treasure, grandmother,” Ellen hurried to explain. “She will be my confidential servant, as Millicent had been.”

“Where are Millicent and Mabel?”

The pain showed in Ellen’s eyes.

“Mabel died of a snake bite in Calcutta. Richard and I have taken her daughter in. But Millicent is married to a young doctor. She’ll return to England in a few months.”

Lady Lambert shook her head. “The poor Mabel! Some people never have the luck they deserve. And who is the black-eyed beauty with you?”

“Another girl who has not yet found the happiness she deserves. Her name is Maddalena and we rescued her from slavery. Grandmother, we have so much to tell, let us come in and get changed.”

“Of course! Here I stand in the cold keeping you from coming in.”

Ellen showed Neeta in whilst Richard hugged his grandmother. He too was shocked at her appearance and sad. Once they were in, Ellen called for the coach to be readied. With an apologetic smile she asked to be excused for an hour. The coach quickly brought her to the steps of the Wilkes’ house. Ellen ran up the stairs and knocked on the door. A young girl of perhaps fifteen years, with brown hair and a fresh face, opened the door and stared at Ellen. Then, she obviously recognised the visitor and curtseyed.

“I am Ellen Carter, Sir Jonathan’s and Lady Wilkes’ daughter. Are they in?”

“Yes, Milady, please come in.”

“I don’t think that I know you?”

“I’m sorry, Milady,” the girl answered, quite flustered. “I am Violet. Sir Jonathan and his wife adopted me last year.”

Ellen raised an eyebrow whilst different emotions washed over her in quick succession. First came surprise, then jealousy, then relief, and finally, understanding. She, Ellen, had moved on and Lucy wanted to fill the void. A smile formed on Ellen’s lips.

“I suppose this makes us sisters. I am happy to meet you, Violet. Please call me Ellen.”

Violet nodded a little dumbfounded and led the way to the living room.

“This way please, Mil ... Ellen.”

“Thank you, Violet,” Ellen smiled as if she did not know the way herself.

But then she stood in the familiar living room and saw the faces so dear to her. Before Lucy was able to get up from her chair, she had an arm full of Ellen. Tears of joy formed in their eyes and they could not get enough of each other’s feel. Finally, Jonathan Wilkes cleared his throat and Ellen let go of Lucy, throwing herself in her stepfather’s arms instead. Finally, when Ellen had her emotions under control, Lucy pushed Violet forward.

“We decided to find another daughter, Ellen. This is Violet.”

Ellen smiled mischievously. “I know, she told me. So I have a sister now? I did not cure you of having daughters?”

“Close, but not quite,” Sir Jonathan quipped. “Did you all return safe and sound?”

“I have so much to tell you, but today’s not the time. I promise, I’ll come with Richard and Tony, and then we’ll tell you all the things we saw. Would you believe me if I told you that I climbed the Great Pyramid and the Great Sphinx? I, Ellen Wilkes? I saw elephants in India and camels in biblical lands! Wait until I bring my gifts!”

“I can’t wait to hear of your adventures, Ellen,” Sir Jonathan smiled. “So I take it that everybody returned safely?”

The words permeated Ellen’s brain and the exuberant mood left her.

“No, we had to bury poor Mabel in Calcutta. She was bitten by a King Cobra. Father, that was terrible. The good Dr. Donovan did what he could, but she still died within hours. Richard and I have adopted Mabel’s little daughter. She is ours now. And Millicent stayed in Calcutta. She married Dr. Donovan. They will be back in England later this year. But I brought one of our Indian servants with me, Neeta. And then we helped an Italian girl escape from slavery in Egypt and we brought her with us, too. This was so frightening! We had to smuggle her out of the country.”

“You must tell me about this snake accident later. Or perhaps we can meet this Doctor Donovan when he returns to England.”

“Oh Father, he knows you! He heard your lectures in Glasgow a few years ago. You are his hero.”

“Oh! Perhaps it’s not a good idea then to meet him.”

“But I promised already that you would see him! And I promised to ask you to consider him for your staff. He is a very nice and able young physician. And compassionate with his patients.”

Sir Jonathan sighed. “I hope you did not get his hopes up too high. There is a lot of competition for the staff positions.”

“You’ll find him an excellent addition, of that I am sure,” Ellen smiled, her optimism maintaining the upper hand.

“You don’t give up easily, do you,” Sir Jonathan laughed.

“Think of it, Father – would I be married today if I was prone to give up easily?”

“And since you are happy, you want all the people around you to be happy too,” Lucy stated.

“That’s not a bad thing, is it?” Ellen protested.

“No,” Lucy laughed, “ but it makes life difficult for your relatives and friends. Not everybody has the potential to be as happy as you want them to be.”

“That’s something to think about,” Ellen conceded with a slight frown.

She found Richard and his grandmother in the salon when she returned.

“Richard just told me of your performance in Rosetta. You shouldn’t have taken such a risk.”

“It was the only way. I know men by now and I know my effect on them. It was a calculated risk, but you are right. I felt bad afterwards, like a trollop, for leading them on.”

“Be that as it may, I would have liked to see it all the same,” Lady Lambert smiled.

“You are right, it was funny too.”

They talked a bit more about the people Ellen had met in Calcutta and in Bombay. Some of them Lady Lambert knew, of others she had heard, and she was eager to hear about the Yorks.

“Samuel York is a coming man, mark my words, Richard. Yet, his poor wife will face a lot of prejudice. Be her friend, Ellen, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

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