The Dream Begins by Catrin Collier by Catrin Collier - Read Online

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Summary

In 1840s Cornwall, 25-year-old Sarah Govier supports herself and her illegitimate son, Jory, on the income from Talvan, the granite quarry she inherited from her father. But businessman Kinser Landry has good reason for wanting Talvan and will stop at nothing to get it. Her problems mounting, Sarah turns in desperation to James Crago, a gunpowder manufacturer whose land adjoins hers. After twenty years as soldier and diplomat in India, Crago, 37, has returned home, his face horrifically scarred, a wound sustained during his attempt to help the girl he loved escape a despotic raja. Local reaction to his appearance has turned him into a recluse. Rejected by society, emotionally bruised and deeply wary, neither James nor Sarah is prepared for the powerful attraction that draws them ever closer. But as others plot against them, can they overcome the past and find the courage to love again?
Published: Accent Press on
ISBN: 9781681466446
List price: $2.99
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The Dream Begins - Catrin Collier

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Chapter One

Oakleigh, Dr Edwards’ rented house

High Street, Merthyr, June 1870

Richard woke when someone tapped his bedroom door. He croaked, ‘come in.’

‘I thought you might like company. But I see I’ve disturbed you. I’ll go.’

‘Please don’t, Mrs Edwards.’ Richard moved restlessly in the bed. ‘I’m spending so much time sleeping in the day I’m not sleeping at night.’

‘If you’re lying awake, Peter can give you a draught. Every doctor and nurse knows the best medicine is unbroken sleep.’

‘Thank you. You and the doctor are very kind. All the Mr Edwardses have done so much for my family. Taking care of Anna and my brothers as well as me and arranging my mother’s funeral. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.’

‘Edward, Glyn, and Peter saw to everything for your mother’s sake. If their brother Tom hadn’t been killed a few weeks after he’d married her, you, your brothers, and Anna would be their nephews and niece. As for Peter and me, we’ve enjoyed having our personal patient to practise on. You helped us keep our hand in while our travel arrangements are being finalised.’ She straightened the bed cover. ‘I’m sorry,’ she apologised when Richard gritted his teeth. ‘It’s the nurse in me. I can’t get used to caring for a patient without Matron checking my bed making.’

‘What’s the time, Mrs Edwards?’

‘The clock’s just struck six. The funeral service will begin any minute.’ She opened the curtains wide enough for him to see the sun hanging low over the rooftops across the road.

‘I can’t believe Mam’s dead.’

‘It won’t be easy for you to come to terms with her loss, as you’re in no condition to attend her funeral. But your mother would have been more concerned that you conserve your strength than go to the ceremony. Do you want to pass urine or open your bowels?’

Richard blushed.

‘Both are perfectly natural functions, Richard.’

‘I didn’t mind you doing everything for me when I was helpless, but I’m getting stronger.’

‘Not strong enough to look after yourself quite yet. But as you’re coming to Russia with us we should get you out of bed tomorrow, if only for an hour.’ She folded back the bedclothes, handed him a glass urine bottle, and left him in privacy.

She returned five minutes later, disposed of the bottle, and brought him a bowl of warm water, soap, and a towel so he could wash his hands. She frowned when she saw him bring his knees up in pain.

‘The bruise in your groin?’

He nodded.

‘I hoped it would heal without rupturing. The last thing we want is an open wound that will attract infection. Do you mind if I take a look?’

He was grateful for her tact in asking, but he was in too much pain to refuse.

She untied the string on his pyjama trousers, took a pad of clean gauze, and pressed the ugly black and purple wound in the crease between his thigh and abdomen.

Richard was grateful for Sarah’s gentle touch but to his mortification, on this occasion, he found it too gentle. The more he tried to divert his thoughts from Sarah the larger and harder his erection.

‘This will hurt.’ Sarah made a fist and punched his penis at the base.

It had the desired effect.

‘I’m sorry you had to do that, Mrs Edwards.’

‘No need to apologise.’ She dressed the wound and retied his pyjamas. ‘I’ll clear this bowl and dressings and bring you a snack.’

Sarah returned five minutes later with a tray that held a plate of biscuits and two glasses of lemonade. ‘You’ve recovered from my poking and prodding?’ She pulled a chair up to the bed.

‘Yes.’

‘Liar, I see pain lines at the corners of your mouth.’ She handed him a glass.

He looked past her to the window.

‘Dr Edwards was right when he said your mother’s death wasn’t your fault, Richard. You do believe him, don’t you?’

‘If I hadn’t gone up the mountain to meet Alice Perkins, her father wouldn’t have been angry with me, and none of this would have happened.’

‘Your mother fainted and hit her head. It could have happened any time.’

‘It happened because she was told I was hurt.’

‘Or for one of any number of reasons, Richard. Had she fainted before?’

He didn’t give her a direct answer. ‘She would never eat enough. Always tried to keep most of our food for my brothers, me, and Anna because she thought we needed it more than her.’

‘She was right, Richard, growing children do need more food than adults. She’d be horrified at the thought of you feeling guilty about the way she died. If you want to honour your mother and her life, the best thing you can do is to live as she would have wanted you to, in an honourable way. What would she have thought of you going to Russia with Mr Hughes’s expedition?’ Sarah deliberately moved the conversation on.

‘I think she would have been pleased. None of us thought of leaving Merthyr after we came here but only because we didn’t have enough money to buy a train ticket to go as far as Pontypridd, let alone leave the country.’

‘Mr Hughes will be paying the travelling expenses of everyone who’s going with him.’

‘I hoped he would from what Mr Edwards said. It’s not just travelling to a whole other country, it’s the idea of helping build a new works and town. I never thought I’d be part of anything like that. The way Mr Edwards talked, it seems so exciting. Starting a new life and a new job where I’ll be able to work my way up. Perhaps become a foreman and in time even a manager.’

‘It is exciting, Richard. That’s why the doctor and I decided to join Mr Hughes. We want to be part of his dream.’

‘Do you know him?’

‘Peter and I met Mr Hughes in London when he interviewed Peter for the post of medical advisor to his company. He’s a remarkable man who cares for his employees and not only by paying decent wages. He organises lectures and concerts for the workers in his shipyard in London. Not many men intent on constructing a new ironworks in a foreign country would think about medical facilities. Mr Hughes is building a twelve-bed hospital there that Peter will oversee and I will manage as matron. For us it’s the chance of a lifetime. Neither the doctor nor I expected we’d ever be in charge of our own medical facility.’

‘Will you stay there – in Russia?’

‘We’ve no intention of travelling all that way to return within a year or two. The journey will take weeks, possibly months.’

‘Months?’ Richard echoed.

‘How were you at geography at school?’

‘Not as good as I was at mathematics and science.’

‘I’ll get the atlas. Then you can see for yourself how far we have to go. Right across the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. We’ll dock in Taganrog. Glyn said the new works are being built about sixty-five miles as the crow flies inland from the port.’

‘Taganrog,’ Richard repeated.

‘You’ve heard of it?’

He shook his head. ‘It sounds as though it should be in a country full of jungles, lions, and elephants.’

‘There won’t be any jungles or lions. Although Glyn said there are wolves, bears, boar, deer, and elk as well as the foxes and badgers we have here. There’ll also be freezing cold snowy winters, wet springs, and hot dry summers. As soon as you get out of bed we’ll have you measured by the tailor and order you a new winter wardrobe.’

‘I’ve no money for clothes, Mrs Edwards.’

‘Mr Hughes will be taking a stock for all his workers to purchase when needed. I’ll make sure some are in your size.’ She left her chair. ‘I’ll get that atlas.’

After Sarah walked out Richard