The rays of the sun gently made its way into the room. Cold winds followed it, waking Ingram up from a deep sleep. It was his proper sleep in decades. Well, he was almost home. He gently opened his eyes, there was a lot of chatter outside. He tried to hear what was going on outside. He closed his eyes, children shouting and screaming playfully whilst the housewives hustled and bustled and haggled over the price of various fruits, vegetables and other merchandise. He got up, put the picture away and got out of the room. He walked up to the table and saw a note “breakfast is ready I went down to receive Clarice from the docks” it said with Bennet’s sign underneath. He washed his face and made a run for the docks to receive Clarice. A lot of emotions ran through his head. How would Clarice feel when she sees him? How would he feel when he sees her? Will Clarice accept him? Will she be angry? It was a barrage of questions. One thing he knew for sure, he would be delighted to see Clarice no matter how she thinks of him.
Ingram half ran and half walked, his body had given in halfway to the docks. He stopped for a while to catch his breath. He could see the sea now and the peak of the mast. He walked a few feet and saw Clarice and Bennet walking towards him. Ingram stopped in his tracks looking at Clarice. Clarice was a typical classical beauty, flowing golden curls, ivory skin and beautiful eyes of blue. She finally noticed Ingram, she stopped in shock. Her eyes teared up, she looked at Bennet and he gave a quiet node. Clarice lifted her gown and ran towards Ingram she hugged him so tight he almost fell over. The hug lasted a long time after all Clarice saw Ingram like her own brother. The crying didn’t stop till they reached home, both Bennet and Ingram calmed her down and sat down to have breakfast.
Clarice did not let go of Ingram’s all through breakfast. Ingram told her about all the torture he faced at prison and how he forgot all about the past from the mental torture, he told her how his family was his anchor in surviving the years of prison.
“Ingram, I promise you we’ll find Elia and Daisy even if it costs me my life” said Clarice. Ingram didn’t know what to say, he gave her a soft hug and walked to the backyard. He sat down for a while, Clarice came by and whispered in his ear “come on, let’s go” and she left. Ingram did not know what she meant but he followed her outside into the streets.
“Where are we going?” Ingram asked. Clarice did not answer. She held his hand as though Ingram was going to get lost again. Ingram followed in silence. “Where is Bennet?” She still didn’t answer. They walked for a few minutes and reached a house, she knocked the door and waited for it to be answered.
An old woman opened the door. Face entranced, the morning light reflected off her tanned and wrinkled skin and the eyes that belie her eighty years. “Hi Clarice” she said in a soft stammering voice. Clarice looked stunned, she had never spoken to this woman just occasionally smiled when they saw each other on the street.
“Come in come in. Sit down. Do you want tea my dear? And who’s this young man?” she asked in a soft loving tone.
“This is my brother” said Clarice and smiled at Ingram.
“Who is she? Why did we come here” Ingram whispered in Clarice’s ear.
“My name is Bathilda. How can I help you Clarice?” she stammered and smiled at Ingram. Ingram was surprised she heard the whisper.
“I’m sorry to come in so unannounced. Ingram just got released from prison and came to Hauyne to find his family” Ingram squeezed Clarice’s hand signalling her to stop. Clarice looked and Ingram and gave him a soft blink and nod. Ingram trusted Clarice.
“Yes, he was tortured a great deal in prison. He lost all his memories and now all he’s left with is the memories of his beloved family. He came back here a few days ago but he did not find his family. Bennet and I thought Elia and Daisy would be with Ingram and one day they would come back to Hauyne looking for us. So I stayed back in Hauyne waiting for my family” Clarice’s tears were unstoppable. Ingram hugged her and comforted her. She took a sip of her tea and continued on.
“Ingram came back and saw Hauyne completely changed. He searched the whole village but couldn’t find a sign of his wife and child, he spoke to the villagers a bit but couldn’t understand anything that had happened. I heard that you shifted here from Vesuvanite, could you please tell us what happened after the blaze? Where did everyone go? Please help my family.” Clarice pleaded.
Bathilda got up and put her hand on Clarice’s head. “everything is going to be alright dear”.
Ingram held Bathilda’s hand and helped her to her chair. His eyes showed the respect he had for Bathilda.
“No matter what happens even if I break down, do not ask me to stop. I lost my family in the blaze, I want to save yours at least. So no matter what! Do not stop me.” She said quite sternly.
Ingram looked at both these women. He had no idea how strong both of them were. He felt a rush of love and respect for Clarice, even though he always respected her this was totally different. He was almost close to a complete family. Almost.
Bathilda had started her story. It was time to know what had happened to Elia and Daisy.
For the next chapter: Chapter 7: The Blaze.
For Chapter 1: Chapter 1 : Emancipation