Chapter 26: Land!

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"Monsieur, I am sorry – I did not anticipate that Mrs McaAdam would want me to teach her children!"

"Mon dieu Charlotte, just as we were making real progress! Nearly there even!"

"Yes Monsieur, we are nearly there, which is why I think the work will be completed before we arrive at Sydney Cove even were I to help the MacAdams."

"Humpf!" the Frenchman sulked as he stared out of the porthole of their cabin. "You should have heard that nouveau riche, Douglas MacAdam! You know he is not keen on the idea of having you near his children. It's his meddlesome wife that is insisting on it. And her husband, like a well-heeled dog besotted with her, even after five children I am told, pants to make her every wish come true! Imbecile! You know she has got him obsessed with this idea . . . . "the Frenchman's arms flourished through the air ". . . . with this idea terrible, of farming this new kind of sheep from Spain. They call it . . . the . . the . . "

"Merino sheep", Charlotte provided for him.

"Oh oui! The merino sheep! They have them on board with us! He actually asked me for my thoughts on them as a provider of wool having been told I am a naturalist and botanical scientist. ME? My thoughts on a commercially bred farm animal! How offensive! How utterly ignorant!"

"O come now Monsieur, you are ranting. The MacAdams did not mean to make offence. They were actually honouring you – seeking your opinion, on what I understand from Mrs MacAdam sounds likely to be a very rewarding business venture for the new colony."

"More like, for the MacAdam family Charlotte! Mark my words that MacAdam is a cunning and ruthless man!"

"What, because he has asked you to surrender some of my time each day for his family?"

"Don't be impudent Charlotte!"

"Monsieur, I remind you of the circumstances that led me to become a convict in the first place. I remind you also of your promise to do everything in your power to ensure that I do not remain a convict. The MacAdams can provide me with an opportunity for freedom and paid work in the future. My independence Henri – for me, that is priceless and for that, I would swim all the way back to England if required! DO NOT STAND IN MY WAY."

Henri Le Bas turned and stood abashed beside her. "Of course. I am sorry Charlotte. I forget that you are a convict. To me, you are the girl who makes my dreams possible and I grow selfish and cantankerous at the thought of losing you. But you are absolutely right. I owe you everything. You may work on the manuscript around the hours you are required with the MacAdam brats!"

"The MacAdam children, Monsieur and, thank you." Charlotte's attention was attracted by the sight of colour beyond the blues of sky and ocean through the cabin porthole. What's that?" she pointed.

"O, that would be land Charlotte! The Cape of Good Hope to be exact. We are calling in for supplies and for some necessary repairs apparently on a couple of the convict ships. Not for too long will we be landed, but it will be good to stretch our legs again on good solid earth, will it not?"

Charlotte's face cracked into a joyful grin. "Why Monsieur, it will be very good indeed!" 

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