Well, just got finished writing this chapter. I haven’t done much proofreading, so please, if you feel so inclined, assist me. 😀 Also, in this chapter Nathaniel and Elaina have a confrontation, sort of make up, then Elaina gets upset again. Katherine remains as mysterious as ever, and Charles, the new character is introduced. Overall (totally not biased here) this is a neat chapter and I hope you enjoy. 🙂
I never foresaw this – Giving in to the very person I dislike – yet perhaps there is reason behind my madness.
“We’re going to need a guide,” Nathaniel said, as the three bumped along in a weathered jeep headed in the direction of the rainforest.
“Why? I’m sure you could just deduce where you needed to go from invisible marks on tree bark.” Elaina said acidly.
Nathaniel’s face contorted sharply and he said nothing. He was very proud– Yes– Nathaniel was very proud, and his mother had tried to correct him in that. As a young person he had always been unusually observant, and this had led him to believe that he was above all others. As he meditated on this painful subject, he recalled a confrontation between him and his mother:
“Nate, could you come here for a moment?”
“Now what is this I hear about your boasting at school?”
“It’s not boasting. I was just telling the truth. I see what others are blind to. It’s a fact.”
“Have you read the Bible today?”
“No Mom, why should I? I don’t have any questions a thousand-year-old book could answer.”
“Oh and I suppose you could just deduce moral values and what is right and what is wrong?”
A shadow of pain passed across Nathaniel’s face. That had been the beginning of the widening gap between him and his mother, and then, despite her Christian moral values, she had fallen to the seduction of money. He shook his head disgustedly, and was jerked completely out of his reverie as the derelict vehicle they had entrusted their lives to skidded to a violent halt and they were thrown forward in their seats.
After paying the driver, the three exited their ramshackle transport and began looking around for a prospective guide. They were standing at the edge of the Amazon, and the green fronds of numerous trees seemed to be beckoning them into its dark depths. Elaina could not repress a shudder. She had heard there were all sorts of strange things in the Amazon, and most she did not want to lay eyes on. Seeing a boy about his age standing around, Nathaniel headed over.
“Excuse me?” Nathaniel said, eyeing the old clothing and dirty countenance of the person he was addressing.
“Yessir?” the boy said, straightening with a sloppy military salute.
“We need a guide into the Amazon. Do you take people in?”
“Yup.” Then, after staring at Katherine closely, he said. “‘ave I seen ye afore ma’am?”
Katherine studied the boy carefully, then she said gently, “I believe you must be mistaken. I don’t think I’ve seen you before. What is your name?”
“Charles. War wuld ye like t’go sir?” the last part being directed to Nathaniel.
“I don’t think we’ll hire you after all,” Nathaniel said, all refined dignity and gravitas as he turned away. Then he heard something that at first, in its complete and utter absurdity, made him doubt whether or not his aural organs had actually perceived it.
Elaina herself did not know why she said what she did. Perhaps it was because of the downcast look that had crossed Charles face at being rejected so brusquely by Nathaniel, and his skin-and-bones appearance. Perhaps it was because she too knew the fear of rejection, and her heart ached deep inside. Either way, she said impulsively, “He means you’re hired.”
The relieved smile that Charles flashed her was so rewarding that she felt herself ready to weather anything Nathaniel could throw at her. Nathaniel himself was stunned at Elaina’s audacity. He turned on his heels sharply, and after watching Charles dash off to prepare a boat that resembled its owner in every aspect of decorum, he turned to face Elaina.
“You just hired him.”
“So what if I did?” Elaina asked, putting on the most confident air she could manage and giving Nathaniel a smile that was anything but.
“After I said ‘no’.”
“What are you going to do about it?” Elaina asked, while looking at Nathaniel through her eyelashes almost teasingly.
Nathaniel raised an eyebrow.
“Are you flirting with me Miss Cara?”
“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, but I believe that we have to get supplies,” and turning, Elaina left Nathaniel trying to wrap his head around the fact that she had just defied him.
They were floating down the river on Charles’ boat. Nathaniel had, in all manner of trepidation, decided to give in tamely to Elaina’s temerity for the time being, and after haggling slightly with Charles over a price for his services, they set off.
“War ye ‘eaded sir?” Charles had asked as they pushed off from the dock and began moving down the Amazon.
“There is a campsite about three miles down the river, you know about it?”
“Yessir,” Charles said, his face lighting up with a crooked grin. “Ye n’expeditioner I take it?”
“Adventurer,” Nathaniel said shortly. “And no, I’m not.”
“Wat bae ye then?”
“Amateur detective,” Nathaniel told him, and Charles seemed stumped at the terminology.
Nathaniel, finding the current company lacking, went forward to join Elaina who stood at the bow. Katherine was in the small cabin in the center of the boat. Charles had asked her to come out and enjoy the nature, but she had declined, saying she felt better inside the cabin.
“So how did you get into this detective stuff anyway?” Elaina asked.
“Proving at court that my mother had cheated my father of his money,” Nathaniel said quietly. “People were impressed. At the end of it, one of them approached me and asked for my help with a certain problem they were having. News spread. I liked the challenge, people liked my silence, both sides profited.
“Why do you blame yourself for your mother’s death?”
Elaina started violently at the question, and tripping, would have fallen over the side of the boat had not Nathaniel caught one of her flailing arms.
“What?” she asked. “How did you–”
“You’re an overachiever. You are the most popular person in school, and you work too hard to keep it that way. Yet despite this, you are almost tomboyish in your manner. Not only that, I’ve seen your false smiles and your flirtatiousness. You have a fear of acceptance. Why would you have this fear? You are afraid somebody will find out about something you did a long time ago. Why are you afraid of that? You’re afraid that if they found out, you would lose everything. What is so big that could possibly ruin your life? Your mother’s death.
“Why do you blame yourself?”
“It’s none of your business!” Elaina said, running to the security of the stern. Nathaniel looked after her, his arms crossed and one eyebrow raised slightly. Just what had he said wrong now?
I sticked with the limit. Yay! ‹— Ladies and Gentlemen, an example of the worst English ever!