Chapter Thirty-One

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Benjamin could not sleep a wink knowing they approached Good Hope Cape. Soon they would dock. Thinking that Clara may be at this very moment somewhere in Cape Town made him want to leap from the deck and swim the rest of the way to reach land.

"Do you really believe she'll be there?" Captain McCullen asked, as his First Mate called out instructions to those in the rigging to adjust the sails, so he could turn the ship to port.

Benjamin's eyes were bright with excitement. "The Queen sent letters to the Cape and our ports in India, it would make sense that Redgrave should, at this point in their journey, need to resupply and if they have, then yes, there is every possibility she may be waiting for me at this very moment."

"And if she's not?" Captain McCullen asked his friend. He did not wish to dampen Benjamin's mood but he did not have the same feeling about this meeting. This woman of Benjamin's has gone through great lengths not to be found, he hoped his friend was not too disappointed today.

"Then I push on to India. I must find Lord Fitton and learn of Clara's whereabouts. If she is no longer in Redgrave's care then I must find where she was last seen."

"But do you not have to escort Lord Fitton back to England?"

"Yes, but I must also know if she has survived this ordeal. My last accounts of her were disturbing, to say the least."

"Tell me," Captain McCullen asked intrigued.

Benjamin informed him of the impressed men and how Clara had managed to get all Redgrave's men and the others to safety but not before being shot by the Lieutenant.

McCullen looked upon him with awe. "You know every time you speak of this woman she sounds more like a myth. You're certain you have not imagined her just to fill your lonely nights?"

Benjamin laughed at this. "I assure you she is very real. I never knew her to be so capable. I have sorely underestimated her."

"Why is that?" McCullen wondered aloud. "Was it not you who trained her? Made certain she was proficient in defense of herself no matter the situation?"

"I couldn't have prepared her for this," Benjamin said but he guessed McCullen had made a valid point. Perhaps he hadn't completely failed her.

"You should have taken her with you. She sounds as if she would have made a rather daring operative for the Queen." McCullen stated breezily before patting his friend's shoulder and getting back to the duty of running his ship.

Benjamin frowned, his hands pressed against the rail. Had he it done it all wrong? Should he have shared his life with her? She has shown herself capable, daring and brave. Would he have any more reason to be concerned for her well being if she were at his side as opposed to how he felt every time he had to leave her behind?

All good questions for which he had no answers.

_______

By noon they had docked and Benjamin ordered himself a carriage, to be brought to Het Nieuwe Kat, the house of the Governor, located at the Castle of Cape Town. Although called a castle, it is more of a fortress and not nearly as grand as say Windsor Castle but it was formidable. Its defensive system at the Cape did well to discourage attacks. Actually, Benjamin was uncertain if the Castle was ever attacked.

The Governor would be entrusted with the care of the Queen's letter. Meeting with him would be vital in discovering the whereabouts of Lord Fitton and if he stayed behind as requested.

He exhaled slowly, trying to calm his racing heart knowing he was now just moments away from getting his answer. He silently prayed it would be the answer he was looking for. He closed his eyes and drifted to sleep as the carriage gently swayed dreaming as always of his Clara.

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