“Mama, why must we,” Emma twitched at her crinoline with a scowl in an attempt to keep it clear of the mud and manure in the middle of the main thoroughfare, “wear the height of London fashion in this God-forsak—”
“Emma!” Mrs.Wyndham-Smyth hissed. “Ladies do not use that sort of language.” She flicked glances over both shoulders, her face paling.
Her daughter continued like she hadn’t heard her. “I thought we were moving to the wilderness when we came all the way to New Zealand and we’re still stuck in this filthy town. At least if we went to the provinces we could have some fun and not dress like trumped-up—”
“That really is enough, young lady.”
Emma took a deep breath to steady herself before she went on. “Tūī says we wear too much clothing. I agree. It’s steaming hot in these woolen dresses. We should dress like—”
“Heathens!” her mother declared. “You pay no mind to what the servants say. They are servants and we are their masters.”
She stared at her mother. “Tūī is my friend. She works for us, even though New Zealand is their land. The Māori’s land. I’m not sure why you treat them with the disdain you and so many others do.”
“It’s just the way it is.” Her mother tried to look indignant, but she seemed to be losing ground and stole more looks around her. As if her friends might be nearby.
“Anyway, I want to go live in the provinces. Coromandel Town seems a nice place.”
“The mines?” Mrs. Wyndham-Smyth’s eyes goggled and she turned a shade whiter. “Wherever did you hear that claptrap?” Her knuckles whitened on her shopping basket and she walked faster toward the market.
“From that nice Prussian newspaperman, ummm…”
“You mustn’t say ummm, my—”
Emma went on. “That Mr. von Tempsky whom Papa invited to supper last month.”
Her mother’s lips tightened. “He’s not a newspaperman any more. He’s leading our colonial troops into the bush… against the Māori. To ensure the successful invasion of the Waikato.”
“But…” Emma froze, then finally slapped her mouth shut a full half minute later. “That can’t be true.”
“True it is,” the woman said, turning back toward her. “And don’t let your father hear you say that. He’s the one who secured the commission for ‘The Prussian’ to help our army.”
“But we can’t…” Emma whispered. “It’s their land. They have all the land south of the—”
“Not any more.” Her mother gritted her teeth. “Seems the land in the Waikato has already been offered to the Australians and mercenaries who are coming to help fight.”
“Clear the way, prisoner coming through!” shouted a burly man. It was the jailor, bundling along a tall, dark man who would’ve been as handsome as Mr. von Tempsky if only he wasn’t so dirty and wearing manacles.
“Do you know who that is?” Emma whispered to her mother.
“It must be that Spaniard—Xavier Argolli or something, I think they said. The constable just caught him. He’s been running free after murdering his ship’s captain on the voyage to New Zealand.” She sniffed. “Imagine that.”
The prisoner looked up then and his eyes met Emma’s. He shook his head and just had time to whisper something before his captor dragged him past.
“Find von Tempsky,” had been his words.
Emma stared after the prisoner. He must’ve heard her mention the Prussian’s name. “Excuse me, Mama, I’m not feeling well,” she said as she spun on her heel and raced for home, already planning what to pack in her saddlebags. She’d find him.
Excerpt from A Sea of Green Unfolding:
December 1863, Auckland
Crowned by a spired white church, a high, rocky headland jutted out of the coastline to their port side. The captain of the whaler steered wide of the breakwater extending from the point and headed his ship into the next big bay.
“Auckland,” the captain said, nodding his head at the sprawling city behind the ships filling the inlet and docked at the wharves.
Upon the headland ranged several cannon and many one- and two-storied stone buildings. A Union Jack, flying from a flagpole, presided over the site.
“Complete with fort?” Xavier said.
“Fort Britomart, on the point of the same name.” Thompson nodded at the cluster of buildings. “Built on an old pā site.”
“Big ditches around the outsides and all,” Xavier said, staring up at them as they passed.
“They’d be the original Māori trenches,” the captain said, never taking his eyes from the rocks to their port side. “We’ll dock at Queen’s Wharf,” he added.
The city of Auckland spread out before them, rising up the gradual slope beyond the bay. The fort was sizable, but the church dominated the skyline behind Point Britomart. Warehouses and stores lined the road running along the water’s edge and houses covered the hills in the background.
“That’s a bit grand for this little place,” Xavier said, pointing to the church.
“Eh? Oh, that’s St. Paul’s Anglican. It was the first one here. It’s been there for twenty years, already. And up there,” he jutted his chin up the hill a little further, “is St. Patrick’s. Take your pick. They’re both grand.”
“I think I’ll find Aleksandra before I start looking around at churches,” Xavier said, with a grin.
The sounds and smells of port hit him when they edged up to the wharf and threw out their hawsers to the waiting men. As soon as the boat was moored, Xavier grasped the hand of the captain and thanked him profusely, then climbed down the rope ladder to the dock.
“Von Tempsky shouldn’t be too hard to find,” the captain called down after him. “Just ask at Fort Britomart. They’ll know where to find him.”
“Thanks again,” Xavier said, waving, as he headed for the point.
The rough scoria of the road surface grated on the soles of his boots as he passed the church. With its tall spire and elegant lines, it was truly beautiful. Certainly a finer building than he’d expected to find here. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a backwater, after all.
His legs were proving a bit unsteady from his time at sea, so he stretched them out as he walked, nodding to passers-by, many of whom turned their faces away as he neared them. He grinned, despite himself. He must smell like a fiend after being on ship for three months, and the last of that on a whaler. Once he set the wheels in motion to find von Tempsky and Aleksandra, he’d get a room and a bath. He could almost feel the warm water of a scented bath enveloping him.
“Hold there,” the guard at the entrance to the fort challenged.
He held up his hands and stood still, coming out of his daydream.
“Hello,” Xavier said. “De veras, of course.”
“State your name and business,” he barked.
“Xavier Argüello, looking for Captain Gustavus von Tempsky. I understand he may be near Drury?”
Several men looked up at his comment, brows narrowed.
“Right this way,” the guard said, giving him a sideways glance, his hand on his sword hilt.
The other men melted away, then the guard stood aside for him to precede him into a stone building.
The door slammed behind him and metal scraped upon metal.
Xavier turned, but the guard was nowhere to be seen.
He surveyed the waiting room. A five by five room, with only a wooden bench against one wall and a high, barred window.
If they were trying to discourage visitors, they were doing a good job. He knocked on the door. A shiver ran up his spine when no one replied. He tried to lift the latch, but it wouldn’t budge. Even when he shook it. “Hey, you’ve locked me in! Guard!”
Only silence, then retreating footsteps on the boardwalk outside the door.
It finally clicked.
This was a gaol cell. But why? Had von Tempsky disgraced himself?
Xavier sat down to wait patiently, but eventually he rose to prowl from one wall to another. He pulled the bench before the grilled window, but it didn’t give him enough height to see out, so he put it back and continued to walk the walls.
There must be some mistake.
A Sea of Green Unfolding
When you’ve already lost everything, the only place left to go is up…
Tragedy strikes in Aleksandra and Xavier’s newly-found paradise on their Californio Rancho de las Pulgas and newspaperman Gustavus von Tempsky invites them on a journey to a new life in New Zealand—where everyone lives together in peace.
Unfortunately, change is in the wind.
When they reach Aotearoa, they disembark into a turbulent wilderness—where the wars between the European settlers and the local Māori have only just begun—and von Tempsky is leading the colonial troops into the bush.
About the Author
Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in the Gold and Pony Express Country of California before emigrating to New Zealand.
Busy raising two boys, farming, and running her own equine veterinary practice, she never thought she’d sit down long enough to write more than an article. A serious injury, however, changed all that, and planted her in one place long enough to jump-start her new career as an author!
With Lizzi’s debut historical romance, A Long Trail Rolling, she was: Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings; Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award for the best unpublished full manuscript; Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel and third in the 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel section; and Finalist, 2015 Best Indie Book Award. She’s working on her eighth story!
When she’s not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding or driving a carriage, playing in the garden on her hobby farm, singing, cooking, practicing as an equine veterinarian or teaching high school science. She is multiply published and awarded in special interest magazines and veterinary periodicals.
Lizzi loves the friendships she’s developed with the rest of the Belles. She adores how they’re so progressive, organized, and fun. Best of all, they are all willing to put themselves out there, together, to achieve more, create more, than would be possible going it alone.