(This will very likely be the next book – tentatively called The Quivera Trail – which follows the experiences of Dolph Becker’s English bride, Isobel. They have married in haste, for all the wrong reasons. She was desperate to escape from her mother, and another endless Season on the marriage market, and he felt sorry for her. But she likes dogs and horses, so they might well make it work … if and when they come to know each other better. And what about Isobel’s loyal young ladies maid, Jane? Will Jane find a life and a love of her own, following her mistress to life on a Texas cattle ranch?)

From Chapter 7 – The Voyage

“’Ere’s the last of the Big Smoke, then!” exclaimed the boy Alf with an enormously satisfied air, as he and Jane followed their employers onto the boat train at Waterloo Station early the next morning. The boat-train platform was awash with departing passengers, many of them bidding such tearful farewells, and burdened with so many trunks and carpet-bags that it was clear to Jane that they were immigrants. Now she sniffed, and Alf added, “Say, Miss G. – ain’t you happy, too? Now, the Missus, she looks like a cat who been at a bowl o’cream this morning!” he nudged Jane with his elbow, and leered suggestively, an expression which set very oddly on his thin little face, “Marriage agree w’er, wot say?”
“You are a disgusting little guttersnipe, Alf,” Jane returned, equably. She had come to know Alf rather better than she would have liked to, being alternately horrified yet somewhat grudgingly sympathetic to the plight of a boy only a little older than her brothers, who never seemed to have had a proper bath, slept in a bed or sat at a table for a good meal until Mr. Becker took him into employment. “And you would never have been allowed to polish the boots in a good household. The only reason the Master hired you is that we’re going to Texas where it doesn’t matter.”
“’E promised horses,” Alf answered; very little of what Jane said to him had the capacity to dent his scrappy self-possession. “Good ‘ousehold, Miss G? I don’t care none for a good ‘ousehold. Wotever the Sir says, that’ll do for Alf Trotter.” Now his countenance practically glowed, the face of a worshipper at a shrine. Jane reflected that of Alf’s qualities, the only remotely endearing one was that his adoration of Mr. Becker was absolute and unswerving. Of all the adults who had passed through Alf’s grubby and chaotic world, Mr. Becker appeared to have been the only one ever to have been kind and generous to him. Now Alf repaid that kindness tenfold with dogged and dog-like devotion.
“To the ends of the earth,” Jane remarked, almost to herself. “He and m’lady have seats in First Class, Alf – we’ll be in Second, of course. When we reach Southampton Station, Alf – you must fetch a porter . . . most of the luggage has already been sent ahead to the Wieland. Oh, I wish they had chosen to sail on a British ship, but the passage had been booked months ago on Hamburg-America . . . Try and behave like a proper servant, Alf. Keep your hands clean; don’t blow your nose on your shirt-sleeve, and only speak when you are spoken to.”
“’Ere, Miss G – is that wot a proper servant does?” Alf looked as if that question had never before occurred to him
“Yes, Alf,” Jane answered, with sudden insight and calculation. “That’s what the Master would want, I think; for you to be a credit to him and to reflect well on his household and m’lady, too.”
Up ahead, Jane could see Mr. Becker’s wide-brimmed hat and fair, wheat-pale hair, bending attentively towards Lady Isobel’s plain brown traveling bonnet. Jane’s heart lifted – her ladyship had appeared quite happy this morning, in fact, rather dazed with it, as if she had returned from a good day in the hunting field. They had not talked much, as Jane ministered to her. But of course Jane had not expected that: Lady Isobel appeared rosy and flushed – and she looked at her husband much as the boy Alf did, which Jane found quite reassuring. In a way, Mr. Becker had rescued Lady Isobel as surely as he had rescued Alf. Her ladyship had a strong protector now, Jane realized with a twinge of unease … would she still continue to rely on Jane herself so much? Now Jane took a deep breath, upon realizing that it was really happening. She and her lady, and Alf were going to go from England, to travel far – and like so many other of the passengers on that platform – they would never return. Never return to the land of their birth . . . Jane hesitated, as the enormity of it suddenly yawned before her, like an open pit, but then she straightened shoulders. The steamship ticket had already been paid for, her trunk sent ahead, and the farewells made – and where would Lady Isobel be, without Jane to rely on? Now there was a train-conductor, showing the newlyweds towards their compartment, and Jane quickened her footsteps. The crowd lessened slightly around the first class carriages. As the conductor made as if to close the door, Jane darted forward. She held Lady Isobel’s jewel-case in one hand, her own small carry-all in the other. Lady Isobel was just settling herself on the horse-hair padded seat, looking starry-eyed at Mr. Becker, as he courteously took her fur-lined mantel from around her shoulders.
“Your jewel-case, m’lady,” Jane set on the seat next to her, and Isobel took Jane’s hand in hers.
“Are you excited, Jane?” she asked, “It doesn’t quite seem real, doesn’t it – and yet it is! We are on our way at last!”
“Yes, m’lady,” Jane answered, and Mr. Becker smiled at them both,
“You’ll believe it well enough, once the ship is well enough out in the open sea.”
“Surely we will not feel the motion too badly . . .” Lady Isobel suddenly looked anxious, and her husband reassured her,
“No, the First Class staterooms are towards the middle of the ship. Coming over, we found such to be very comfortable. The steamship only seems to roll a little, with the motion of the waves.”
The slamming of compartment doors, farther down the train recalled Jane to the present.“I will join you on the platform, as soon as we arrive in Southampton, m’lady,” she said hastily, “And Alf will fetch a porter to the van for your luggage – I have already told him so.”
“Thank you, Jane,” Lady Isobel released Jane’s hand, and Mr. Becker smiled also,
“A clever woman who thinks ahead,” he remarked approvingly, as Jane bobbed a curtsey to them both and fled. It was curious, she thought, as she settled herself into a Second-Class compartment, how Mr. Becker seemed to see herself – not as some kind of automaton in a black maid’s dress and white cap. He noticed her as a person, in a way that many of the gentry who had been guests at the Hall, or at the Belgravia house did not. Jane briefly wondered if she would be seen in the same way by Americans, or was this just peculiar to Mr. Becker.
“Sit down,” She reproved Alf, who fidgeted restlessly in his own seat before getting up and standing before the carriage window. The train lurched once, twice, and the platform slid past, gradually faster and faster. “We’ll be there soon enough.”
“I ain’t never bin out o’ Lunnen.” Alf replied. He did not sound particularly regretful. He sat down, though he still looked rather peaked and pale. “Wot’s Texas like, Miss G? Sir tole me it were like a bit o’ garden.”
“I don’t know, Alf,” Jane answered, “I’ve never been there either.”
Platform and columns holding up the glass canopy overhead went by, followed by the tangle of the rail-yard, under a cloud-speckled blue sky. Close-crowded terraces of soot-stained red-brick houses gave way to villas standing in tree-shaded gardens, and then to hedgerow-surrounded fields and pastures dotted with slow-moving cows. Now and again a church spire rose from a huddle of slate or thatched roofs, there and gone in a minute; the train seemed to advance speed. Goodbye to England, Jane thought with just a tinge of sorrow. I shall try very hard to remember the look of all this. I don’t know if I will ever return; somehow, I think not.

“Think on how this will appear all in reverse, when we return!” Isobel said merrily to her husband. They stood side by side on the First Class promenade, watching the last of the Wieland’s immigrant passengers board below. She was glad of the warmth of her furs, against the crisp, salt-smelling breeze, and the shelter of him with his arm possessively around her waist, standing close beside. But for that she was venturing into the unknown – that starkly beautiful and violent land on the other side of the ocean – Isobel could have shouted aloud for the sheer joy of it. She was out from under Mama’s inflexibly iron rule at last; no more to fear her curt displeasure or even crueler indifference. She had escaped, as free as any of the sea-birds, wheeling overhead. Behind them, the ships’ steam-whistle shrieked, once and once again. Free. Isobel savored the word, as sweet as honey on her lips. She looked sideways at him, again savoring the quiet satisfaction of possessing such a man for herself and herself alone. It did not escape Isobel’s notice that other women looked upon him with covert admiration, so tall and well-formed, so confident but gentle-mannered. And he had chosen her, and she him! In one night, she had learned more about him than she had during all the weeks of their courtship. He was that much less a stranger now and Isobel had confidence that every passing day would reveal more of him to her. So much for the terrors of the marriage bed – and how very wise Fa had proved to be in his judgment, in permitting his courtship of her!
“Bell,” he said in reply, and his eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled at her. Isobel felt as if her heart had suddenly become as malleable as warm butter. Last night he had announced, sleepily, “The cap’n called you Izzy – I don’t like the sound of that for you. It’s an ugly sounding name. I’d rather nip a bit off’n the other end, and call you Bell.” “Of course you may,” Isobel had answered, “But then, what shall I call you, when we are alone?” “Most folk call me Dolph,” he had said, and Isobel had turned that over in her mind. Dolph. She expected that she would get used to it. Now he said, “It’ll be a bit, before we see this – my life is in Texas and my business in cattle. This last year, it was just a fancy of my Uncle Hansi, to come traveling. I’ll need to get back to work for a good few seasons. Years, mebbe.”
“We’ll bring our children, then!” Isobel exclaimed, and her exuberance was a little dimmed by the fact that he seemed to hesitate for a moment, before his embrace of her tightened a little.
“We shall do that, Bell darlin’,” he answered at last, and Isobel thought no more about it, for the ship-whistle blew again. There seemed to be a clanging, as of great iron doors within the ship, and on the dock, a handful of sweating men pulled away the gang-way, and let it drop with a clatter. The deck beneath their feet seemed to tremble slightly, but regularly. The motion intensified; the mooring lines holding the Wieland to the dock loosened and dropped. The band of open water between the Wieland’s dark-painted hull and the dockside widened and widened again. “We’re away.” Dolph Becker said, “We’re away home, Bell.”

By evening, the Wieland had left Southampton Water far behind. After supper, Isobel and Dolph took a walk around the deck, watching the faint lights from land fade and drop away. The rolling of the ship did not particularly affect them – although Jane seemed particularly white-faced, when she attended Isobel that evening.
“You are feeling the motion?” Isobel asked with concern. “Dear Jane, then just unbutton my dress and loosen my corset. I can see myself into my night things just as easily. I fear that it may take a few days for you to become accustomed to it.”
“Thank you, m’lady,” Jane answered. She unfastened Isobel’s dress, and suddenly made the most extraordinary gagging sound. “I am sorry, m’lady . . . I am very unwell, just now!” She fled in considerable haste, gasping out an apology to Isobel, and to Mr. Becker – to Dolph as she ran past him, come from smoking a last cigar in the First Class salon. Even a First Class Cabin – a sitting room and sleeping room together – left little privacy. He had settled onto one of the comfortable chairs, with a German newspaper in his lap, courteously waiting for Isobel. Poor Jane, Isobel thought, with just a touch of smugness; even the poor girl’s lips looked grey from the mal-de-mer. Such a paragon, as a ladies’ maid, at least there was some small weakness in her – but now she would have to cope with her corset herself. Isobel twisted, reaching up her back with one arm, trying to reach around for the ends of the corset-ties. She could not – her fingertips brushed the ends of the strings – and then her husband – Dolph – he appeared in the tiny dressing-table mirror.
“May I be of assistance to a lady?” He drawled, and Isobel met his mirrored amusement with her own.
“Oh, please – yes, untie my corset. Loosen the strings for me, I am perishing for not being able to take a breath . . . And poor Jane is feeling the first effects of a sea journey.”
“My pleasure, Bell,” He answered. Provokingly, he kissed her bare shoulder first, and Isobel shivered at the touch of his lips on her skin. Why, oh, why had no one ever told her how delightful it was to be married, to enjoy such intimacies freely, without censure or limitation? Gravely, he untied the knots which kept her so tightly laced, and Isobel gasped at the loosening of those stiff and unyielding bonds. She could breathe deep once again, and in the release of that, she did not notice at first, that her husband – that Dolph, as she reminded herself was the name that he liked to be called by – was looking speculatively at her hair. “Would you like me to find your hairpins, also?” he offered, as she unhooked the now-loosened front of her corset. “I don’t think Miss G will be any good to you, for a couple of days, at least. Not if Alf is any indication. I left him with a chamber-pot in his arms – and swearing that Texas had better be worth such a considerable misery. I assured him on that account.” He smiled at her again, in the mirror. “The trouble with sea-sickness is that first you are afraid you are going to die – and then, that you will not. My Ma and uncles told some stories of how miserable it was when they came over from Germany on a sailing ship . . . but Bell, it is good that you have a stout stomach for this; think of it as a good omen.”
“I shall,” Isobel breathed deeply once and again. She set the corset aside, taking up the wrapper that Jane had brought, and laid close at hand, “And yes, you would be welcome . . . to venture on an expedition for my hairpins. Jane is a marvel – I can hardly think how she does it, hairdressing is a mystery to me.”
“And to myself, also,” her husband answered, with dry good humor. “I confess, all of women’s dress is a mystery . . . what you wear and why you do it, was always perfectly impenetrable to me, and I speak as a man with sisters and female cousins. Still,” he flashed a smile at her in the mirror, as he began search out the hairpins from her wealth of demerara-sugar colored hair. “I must confess, Bell – it’s better fun than I first imagined, finding out!”
“La, my dear . . . husband,” To her surprise, Isobel felt such flirtatious words now come easily to her lips – why had she never been able to jest with such confidence, ever before? Mama had been so severe on this lack in her – and now it came so easily! “Are you speaking as one who has had many adventures in the lists of deep affections?”
“No,” her husband replied, “No, not many at all.”
“How drear – were you never in love at all? Was there ever anyone of the fair sex who had engaged your amorous interests?” Isobel spoke lightly, but watched her husband in the mirror, as he studiously plucked hairpins from the wealth of her hair, and laid them one by one on the dressing-table. Soon the wavy length of it lay around her shoulders, and unbidden, he took up her hairbrush, answering at last,
“Oh yes – but fleeting things. A little flirting at a dance, and my uncles now and again telling me that I should settle down with one girl or another – I have another uncle, not of blood, but who was a friend of my father’s – who counseled me to have particular care, on selecting the woman whom I should honor with my name, and the care of my household and the upbringing of my sons. I must have taken his advice to my heart, deeper than I ever thought at the time. I might have been taken just once before, by a woman . . . but she was cruel.”
“La belle dam sans merci?” Isobel laughed, just a little. Her husband did not relish cruelty; any attraction that he felt would have felt towards that woman, whoever she was. This she knew, and it gave her no little confidence in his affections. “Who was she, then? I am only curious because if chance should take us into the same circles. I would like to have some subtle revenge on her, in showing that we are happily matched in marriage.”
“Oh, you might meet her, in some manner,” Dolph replied, “She is a connection by marriage – a widow, for her husband was a cousin of mine and died in the War. She has gone ever about since then, beautifully in mourning for him . . . and making cow-eyes at every man of property around. When I was a boy about the age of Alf, I thought her – after one other – the most beautiful woman in the world. Your mother put me in the mind of her, sometimes. Cousin Amelia never seemed to have any particular affection for me until after Uncle Hansi and Uncle Freddy and Cuz and I had made a fortune in trailing cattle to the North.”
“Such is the way of the world,” Isobel replied, and almost choked on the words. “A substantial income makes the meanest of men appear to such advantage.” How many times had Mama pushed her in front of this or the other, who had nothing in charm, wit or ability – no other quality than their wealth or ancestry to recommend them! She might, in desperation, have had to marry one of them, instead of the one considerate and thoughtful man whom had chosen her, in spite of all obstacles.
“Uncle Hansi used to say that it was gold-plating on a pile of cattle-turds,” Her husband replied, wryly and Isobel laughed. He had found the last of her hairpins, and now her own wealth and particular beauty fell about her shoulders.
“I think I could like your Uncle Hansi,” she said, as he picked up her hairbrush unbidden. “You have a gentle hand, my love.”
“Years of experience with horses,” He answered, with such a droll expression that Isobel laughed again, and turned to throw herself into his embrace, confidant of it being welcomed and returned tenfold.

Jane continued to be wretchedly sick for the first two days and nights of their voyage, tended in her misery by her cabin-mate, a robust Irishwoman in her forties who was traveling to America to live with her brother’s family in Boston. Bridget O’Malley was a well-traveled woman – she had gone to India and back on a troop-ship, having been married out in India, but her soldier husband died, and his widow declined to marry another soldier.
“I was only sick the once, on the first time out,” Bridget said comfortingly, as she held a basin for Jane to be sick into, “an’ then niver again. Which is well, because there was a storm the like of which I had niver seen, it fair made all but mysel’ an’ the sailors unwell … an’ I think the captain of the ship, he was a fair green color. Y’ll be as right as rain in a day or so, niver ye worry about yer lady.”

Jane, sunk deep in misery for two days, had no energy for any worries outside the confines of the cramped second-class cabin, but she did wonder how Lady Isobel was managing. Mr. Becker was kind to her, and loving, too; her ladyship did seem to glow with happiness during the brief journey from London to Southampton. But the uncomfortable thought did intrude on Jane’s mind: Texas was a new land, a far land – so very different from Acton Hall. In the sunshine and shelter of her husband’s regard … would Lady Isobel still have such need of Jane’s unstinting support and companionship? An unmarried daughter was a pitiable, vulnerable being in need of any allies she could find – even a humble seamstress promoted to ladies’ maid, but the young wife to a man of standing and wealth – that was altogether different. Jane pushed the thought away as unworthy. That very day, she was able to drink a cup of broth and nibble on some dry biscuits which the cheerful Widow O’Malley urged upon her, and keep them where they belonged after they had passed through her teeth and over her tongue. The very next morning, she was able to rise from her bed, dress herself in her plain respectable travel dress and put up her hair, and hasten to the First Class suite which the Beckers had for themselves. She let herself in without knocking, for that was the purview of a trusted servant. She found Lady Isobel and Mr. Becker at a private breakfast in their stateroom, her ladyship in dishabille, a dressing-gown over her nightdress, and Mr. Becker in his shirtsleeves and waistcoat.

As Jane came in through the door, he pulled out his pocket watch and opened it, observing as he did so, “Eight-twenty, Bell darlin’. You owe me a forfeit.”
“You are a horrible man,” Lady Isobel flashed a fond and bright smile at them both. “Truly, Jane – you were so ill with the mal-de-mer, I was afraid you would be indisposed for days, yet! My dear wicked husband engaged in a wager with me – that you would be fit for duty before we had been three days abroad on the breast of the ocean. I am happy to see that I was wrong! His own manservant is still indisposed, so we have been looking after each other …” Lady Isobel smiled again at her husband, and Jane reflected that there was something of the adoration of a dog in it, a dog adoring a pleasant and indulgent master, and she chided herself for yet another unworthy thought. Lady Isobel was a good and considerate mistress; Mr. Becker was the husband who had rescued her from an intolerable situation. Jane should rejoice in her good fortune, and accommodate herself to whatever Lady Isobel should require in her new life … for it would be a new life, far from the cramped confines of what Jane had known in her parent’s little village store, and even in the wider realms of Acton Hall. And Lady Isobel seemed to have gotten along very well in Jane’s absence, even if it were only for the space of two days. But still, Jane had a feeling about that – her lady had managed to get along without her; two days without being cosseted and dressed and reassured, two days without evidence of being cherished and cared for by any other than her wedded husband. She is going so far from us; the words of Sir Robert whispered in Jane’s memory, take care of her. Now, Jane thought – She may go so far enough that she will not need care. And what of me – shall I be free to sort out a life for myself, then? A life without my lady – but I cannot. I am bound to look after her; she will be alone in a far land. And the rebellious thought whispered in the back of her mind. I am alone, too – who shall look after me?

Resolutely, Jane put those disloyal thoughts aside; she was cheered through having passed through the dreadful wretchedness of seasickness at least as much as she was cheered by the evident happiness of her mistress. They whispered and giggled together that evening like a pair of giddy schoolgirls, as Jane brushed her hair and arranged it in a simple style before the tiny mirror in the stateroom, while Mr. Becker interjected remarks from the next room, sounding – so Jane whispered to her mistress – just like an elder brother or a schoolmaster. The Beckers were to sit at the captain’s table in the main salon for supper, a supper held in as much state as could be achieved on a packet-steamer in the mid-Atlantic.
“It’s all very quaint – and very cozy,” Lady Isobel giggled. “With a white cloth and silver candlesticks and all – but in a heavy sea, they bolt a gallery-railing around the edge of the table so that the plates and wineglasses don’t fall off … and the steward who serves us … oh, my – to watch him move across the salon with a full tray as the ship rolls in an especially heavy sea … it is like watching the most marvelously comic ballet. He goes on his tip-toes and positively swoops across the room, while the tray seems to float across the salon, and his feet … dear Jane, his feet are positively everywhere and in every attitude imaginable…” she burst into a peal of giggles, and Mr. Becker called from the sitting room,
“We’ll be late, Bell – the two of you sound as silly as my sisters, dressing for one of Auntie Liesel’s parties.”
“We’re nearly ready!” Lady Isobel answered, then frowned briefly in concentration, holding her head nearly still as Jane fastened in her hair ornament – a modest jeweled agliette. “Your sisters; Lottie is the youngest – sixteen and very pretty, and Anna is married to your cousin Peter.”
“Hannah,” Mr. Becker corrected. “Hannah is my other sister – she’s the one married to Christ and the care of the orphans of Galveston. Anna is my cousin; Uncle Hansi’s oldest daughter – she has two little boys and may have another one by now, for all I know. She was in foal when they all sailed home after Christmas.”
“Dearest, don’t be so agricultural!” Lady Isobel answered, and in a softer tone, she continued, “Jane, can you have thought it – my husband has a sister who converted and took the veil! What would my parents have thought of that, if they had known! Perhaps she was …” Lady Isobel paused as she searched for a word, “Unfortunate in her looks.”
“Perhaps a harelip, m’lady,” Jane whispered, and Lady Isobel laughed merrily. “If women are so short in number as my husband tells me – perhaps it is a worse disfiguration than a harelip, so that she must take refuge in the life of a religious.”
“No,” said Mr. Becker mildly, and both of them jumped for surprise; he had appeared so very silently, on near silent feet in the stateroom. “My sister Hannah – she is not unlovely. She is merely very … very good. I think,” he added, as he took Lady Isobel’s lace evening wrap from where Jane had let it lie across the foot of the bed. “She may be released from her novitiate and be able to receive visitors when we return. I might take you to meet her, when we are in Galveston, on our our way home. You would like her, I think.” And he looked in the mirror, in a way that met both Isobel’s and Jane’s eyes and held a mild reproof in his own. “She has a way of knowing her own mind, and being resolved to follow in the path of her own choosing.”
“I am sure that I will, dearest.” Lady Isobel answered, while Jane kept mum. “I want to know your family even before I meet them. I want them so much to think well of me; your sisters, your cousins and your aunt. Especially your mother … she must be such a formidable woman … I would like to know them before I meet them, so that we will be at ease when we reach your home … that is, our home. I expect that as a stranger,” she added, and Jane thought that some of the old unhappiness and dread showed in Lady Isobel’s face. “I will be the object of much curiosity.”
“Not to worry,” Mr. Becker assured her, with an easy smile. “Mama is very down-to-earth. She accepts folk as they are at face value. Now that I am finally wed, she will think of you as another daughter, without a second’s thought. Auntie Liesel will be all of a twitter, telling all her friends that I have married a lord’s daughter. She’s an awful snob, but a silly one, and she could not say a hurtful word to anyone if you held a six-shooter at her head. Now, my Cousin Anna might be called formidable … but she is a one like Lady Lynley – a woman with a man’s way of seeing things. She says things straight out and honest, to your face. She doesn’t go in for …”and he stopped and thought for the right word, “Malice dipped in honey and false friendship. That would be Cousin Amelia, but she’s a Stoddard. Only a Vining by marriage and you’ll probably go for years without meeting her.”
“It sounds like a terribly large family,” Lady Isobel mused, and her husband laughed. “No, not when you get right down to it. Onkel Hansi and Aunt Liesel are the largest part of it. They have – they had nine children… and Cousin Anna is their oldest daughter.”
“Like Her Majesty?” Lady Isobel wondered, while Jane attended. During the long months when her ladyship had seemed to be courted by Mr. Becker, they had often discussed what little Mr. Becker had vouchsafed about himself, and wondered about his family, his connections and his life in Texas. Now, it seemed that their mutual curiosities were about to be rewarded, as Mr. Becker nodded.
“I have only one brother; Sam. He’s younger than me by four years. My father’s oldest sister Margaret married twice; she bore four sons, but all save Cousin Peter were killed in the Gettysburg fight, during the war. He was the only man in the county around with the nerve enough to marry Cousin Anna. You’ll like Sam … he’s good at the business, good with cattle and good at managing the hands, but he’s not interested in it. He’d rather be daubing little bits of paint around with brushes. Sends Mama and Onkel Fredi into conniption fits, when he talks about how he’s like to be a proper artist. He did some nice paintings for Onkel Hansi’s house, and folk are always asking him to do a painting of prize livestock or a nice bit of scenery, so mebbe he could at that. Onkel Fredi – he’s Mama’s brother. He manages one of our biggest properties. He’s the best herd-boss there is … the first long drive we did north to Kansas, he was the only one among us who had ever done the like before. He went out to California with a big herd once before the war, stayed to look at the gold-mines and came back, shaking his head. Said after that, he’d just as soon stay in Texas … you sure you can keep this all straight in your head, Bell?” Jane adjusted the final strands of Lady Isobel’s coiffure, and stood back, mutely awaiting approval. It was not long forthcoming, for Lady Isobel smiled at her in the tiny mirror and said,
“Perfection, Jane – I am fortunate indeed that you are recovered! I could put myself together with my husband’s assistance just well enough that I could step outside this cabin, but your skills lend me strength sufficient to face dining at the Captain’s table.” Lady Isobel flashed another confident smile over her shoulder at her husband. “I can, indeed, my dearest Dolph. I was made to study and recite the smallest details of Burke’s Peerage. Names of those titled families, their properties, titles and heirs, their connections and strengths of their breeding … My recitations on the subject were, I believe, the only aspect of my debut which pleased my mother.”
“It’s not a thing you’ll have much use for in Texas,” Mr. Becker said, with a grave face, and an eyebrow quirked in amusement, as he carefully draped Lady Isobel’s lace wrapper around her shoulders and dropped a brief kiss on her forehead. “But if you can be brought to pay mind to the breeding qualities of cattle and dogs … then there might be a use for it!”
“You are awful!” Lady Isobel’s face sparkled with laughter and affection, and in a moment the outer cabin door fell to, leaving Jane by herself in the suddenly quiet stateroom. She tidied away Lady Isobel’s day dress, the shoes and underthings she had worn with it, feeling a little as if her life had returned to something like normal, within the confines of the Wieland … of course, nothing like the Hall, or the Lindsey-Groves’ London house. But Jane had every confidence that Mr. Becker’s home, where her ladyship would have authority over her own establishment, would be ordered much along the same comfortable lines. Her ladyship had said so often enough; it would just be a smaller establishment, and not so rigidly ordered. How many times had Lady Isobel sighed and told Jane that she would love a cozy little house of her very own, no larger than Dale Farm, not a great echoing barrack like the Hall. But in a new country, which Jane had been led to believe was far from entirely settled and civilized … ‘Well, then,’ Jane told herself, ‘It will be an adventure, at least.’ Having laid out Lady Isobel’s nightgown across the foot of the stateroom bed and turned the covers invitingly down, Jane went to seek her own supper in the 2nd Class Dining room, aware of a pleasant sense of anticipation.

That was what she said to the boy Alf, five days later, as the Wieland approached the port of New York City. It was mid-morning, and the light of the sun crept in golden fingers between the clouds, touching now and again on the prospect before them, as they stood at the rail of the 2nd Class promenade deck. The coastline seemed to be nothing but low-lying islets of sand, yet there was a smudge of smoke on the horizon, and little white triangles and oblongs of white sails dotted the blue-grey breast of the sea.
“It will be an adventure,” Jane said confidently, and Alf answered.
“Hit don’ look like much at all, Miss G.”
“Our ship is still far from land, Alf.” Jane observed, and for a time they both were silent, as the Wieland’s great steam engine belched clouds of coal smoke into the air at their backs. The vibration of it under their feet seemed to lessen slightly, and now Jane perceived that they were actually in a great bay of water; for there was land on either side of the Wieland, that to their right being closer, and more distinct. That to their left was barely visible, a dark-blue shadow lining the horizon. The sky suddenly was alive with sea-birds, swooping down to the waves and spiraling upwards again. “It looks very green, there,” Jane added, casting her mind back to everything she had heard or read about America … which was not all that much. “Not much like a city at all, more like the Island of Wight, I think.”
“Is it true that the streets are really paved w’ gold, Miss G?” Alf craned his neck and stood on tiptoes, as if that would aid him in getting a clearer view of the near shore, which seemed to be lined with a promenade, and many gaily-painted buildings.
“No, I don’t think that is true,” Jane said, but Alf persisted.
“But it is true, Miss G – that summon can get as rich as a lord, just by working hard in America? Sir, he says his uncle hadn’t nothin’ much when ‘e came from Germany; now ‘e’s a baron.”
“A cattle baron,” Jane explained. “Not a real baron.”
“But ‘e is as rich as a baron, innt ‘e?”
“Yes, I expect so,” Jane looked out at the landscape slipping past the Wieland’s bows. Now the great ship was turning, the shadows cast by her stacks and rigging sweeping across the deck. “We’re going north, now … New York is supposed to be the largest city in America, but it’s odd that we can’t see anything yet.”
The waterway narrowed presently, hemmed in on either side by wharves and lines of ships tied up to them, buildings that loomed up, closer and closer, interspersed with parks of trees and grass and crowned with ornate spires and towers. The fresh salt-sea smell of the air was mixed with less-pleasant odors – of sewage and wood-smoke, of wood rotting at the edge of the water. Flags fluttered everywhere in the light breeze, from the masts of ships at anchor or under way, making splashes of bright color against the cloud-curdled sky and the blue-gray water. The Wieland slowly approached a narrow point of land where the buildings seemed to be the most closely huddled together. Above their heads, the great steam whistle shrieked, once, and once again. The Wieland’s railings were crowded with her passengers, some of them silent with apprehension or cheering lustily. Jane took in a deep breath.
“I believe we are arrived in America, Alf.”
Alf’s pinched little street-urchin face was pale and thoughtful, as he surveyed the docks, the wharves and the ships, with the city looming beyond them. Finally he said,
“Ain’t a patch on Lunnon, Miss G.”