Chapter – 21
Wow! Khushi thought. Willow was a rebel and very forward for her times! She mused, and turned to see that the clock said it was still an hour to go.
She looked at the transcripts. There were very few pages left and still there was nothing mysterious about the story at all that hinted at it being a legend. It was like any other story. She shook her head and thought better off it.
What was it that made the simple romantic story of Governor Arnav Simha and Ms. Willow Feathers a legend?
Why was it referred to so often?
Why did people always regard her warily?
What did Anne Mac’Pherson write so elaborately, and then jump to her death?
Why was it cursed and what was the curse?
She looked at the ceiling and thought of her own life. She happened to set foot in the Whisper Valley, when things started taking a very bizarre turn. It was evident that some one was trying to kill her, while someone else was trying to protect her. But the million dollar question was, who were they? And now that Arnav Simha II was married to her, and she recognized him to be her savior, then…. Who was it that was trying to harm her and wait a minute? She abruptly stood up and froze.
Just before she got married, her savior had met her, but he looked so different and was very angry with her. But Arnav was in Mumbai by then! How could he be there and in Mumbai too? She smarted…
Ok…where was Arnav?
She looked at the clock and she found that it was almost time…But, he did not turn up! Khushi quickly got up and washed her face.
Why did the legend nag at her so much?
What was her connection to it?
She felt so restless. It was as if her entire life was divided into two parts. One before she visited Whisper Valley, and the other after she did.
As she came out and rang for some tea, she heard the intercom buzz, and took the call. It was Aman. He introduced himself, and said that Arnav was delayed and he sent him so that if she wanted to go out, he would take her out.
Delayed? For what? Khushi thought. She asked the same.
Aman was very evasive as he said that since the wedding was a hurried affair, he left many loose ends at Mumbai and so was sorting them off.
It was strange coz Arnav had already planned for a trip. And he could have called her! Khushi thought.
She declined the offer for an outing, and went back to reading. There were a few pages left of the cursed legend and she was eager to finish it before Arnav returned. And whom was she kidding! She felt nervous at the thought of him, as he made her all jittery. She would go crazy waiting… so it was better she did that reading the transcripts.
Captain William Feathers looked through the window and it was absolutely foggy. Nothing could be seen.
Where was this girl!
Was he too lenient coz her mother was not alive.
He must have a word with Lowey before it was too late! Off late he found her to be very erratic in her behavior.
However he found her to like her new role as the Governess to His highness Suraj.
The door chime clanked and he opened the door to find the Governor standing at his doorstep. He was flabbergasted, and did not know how to react. Arnav Simha wished him saying, “Good evening Captain! May I come in for a minute?”
“Sure sir!” He moved aside, and closed the door as Arnav Simha stepped in.
The Governor stood near the fireplace, gazing into the fire, and William Feathers panicked a little.
His daughter! Oh GOD!
“Sir! Lowey… is she…?” He tried to ask Arnav Simha.
“No sir! Lowey is alright. I just wanted to speak to you in confidence.” Aranv Simha said.
“But Governor…sir…she did not return yet and…” he was still talking when Arnav Simha said, “She is with me.”
“May I get her?” Aranav Simha’s question threw the old English man off balance.
“What do you mean get her sir? Is she hurt or something? Good Lord! Mrs. Pollock is also not in town and…”… he was going on…when Arnav Simha stalled him by showing his hand and said,” I am afraid Captain, that your daughter is a ….er….a…little tipsy!”
“Tipsy…as in…drunk?” Captain William’s eyes popped out of their sockets!
“But she doesn’t even taste my fine collection of wine… “He gestured towards his bar.
“No! No Sir… It was by accident! She happened to…er… drink some by mistake and …” he shook his head and said,” Please let me get her in.”
“Oh! Where is she?” Captain William’s asked agitatedly.
“In my coach. Jonas is with us, and he wouldn’t say a word captain! I assure you.” Arnav Simha said to a very embarrassed Williams.
They both walked out and Willow was almost about to conk off.
“Who is this old coot?” She bellowed.
She bit her lower lip and then smiled recognizing her father and said, “Papa! How nice! You see! Me and the Governor went on a world tour and we rode on high waves….zooooooommm….” She showed it by moving her hands to right and left and suddenly stopped, and looked at her father who tried to lift her up in order to get down the coach and said in a stage whisper, “We are going to make four babies,” …and giggled….
Arnav Simha went stiff, while Captain Williams went red with rage!
“What ever had been happening at the Casa Governor?” He pulled up Arnav Simha right there!
“Shhhhhhhhh! No! The baby would wake up!” Willow went on…
“What? “Captain William’s was beyond himself.
“Captain! First let us move her inside, I promise you I will…er…explain.” Arnav Simha assured the captain.
As they put a tipsy willow to bed and finally came down into the den, Williams pulled up Arnav Simha, asking him,” So! Do I take it that you have…”
Arnav Simha raised his hand and said,” I was about to call you for this Captain, but it’s just as well! He shrugged and said,” I and Lowey er…. We want to get married.”
He again stalled an agitated Williams saying,” I know there are many implications of this sir, but I feel she would be a very good wife to me and most importantly, a very befitting First Lady for The Valley.
William gasped at his declaration.
“I mean it sir! She is very loyal, and she is dedicated to the land and its cause.”
“You mean, you want a face to wean the residents towards your movement, don’t you?” William spat and went on… “Now look here your Highness! My daughter shall not marry a person who would use her as a trump card for appeasing the settlers here so that he could balance the locals and the settlers and…
“I love her Captain!” Arnav Simha said quietly.
There was silence with only the crackle of the firewood to be heard.
“You…’ Captain Williams looked at him incredulously.
“Yes I love your daughter Willow Feathers! Would you allow me to make my home with her?” Arnav Simha asked.
“But she…” Williams was still in shock.
“She loves me too.” Arnav Simha said smiling and added “…but God knows what she sees in me that she opted for a man like me!”
William Feathers flopped in the easy chair and looked at the fire crackling away.
Arnav Simha said softly. “I know! I know of all the consequences and repercussions, but I would take them head on. Your community, mine, The Church! The locals! I know it’s going to be tough! Also, I thought about it a lot and just kept quiet but not anymore. Actually the Honour Bound Soldiers of the Valley… have given me the tip off for an insurgency, and I just want Lowey to be safe too. However, I thought a lot! We just have one life to live Captain, and I don’t want to loose the precious gift of true love that nature bestowed on Lowey and me.
My humble request to you is to consider this alliance. I shall wait for your decision. I promise you, I wouldn’t go forward without your consent sir. I wouldn’t want you to feel overwhelmed by me, as I am the Governor of the Valley. Please think it over! However, I wish to request you to keep this with you, as Lowey’s security will be compromised if anyone knows about all this. I hope you understand. Please let me know in the earliest, as I would make the arrangements to seek permission from the council.” He said looking at Captain Williams expectantly.
“Also let her come to the Casa as she used to, whatever your decision be. I swear upon my honour that I would protect her honour above mine! It is important people don’t get a whiff of it before it actually happens.”
Captain Williams who was dazed nodded and Arnav Simha left after taking leave.
The Whisper Valley
“ Then why did you come Lowey?’ Suraj wailed.
“Why?” Coz I need to see your Periyappa and smash his head! Willow thought but said, “…Coz we need to finish the assignment we started yesterday Suraj,” she said as she nursed her head that was splitting.
“But, you seem to be in pain.” Suraj mused…
“I am child, but this pain is nothing when compared to the bigger one” she said.
“Which one…??” Suraj asked her.
Your Periyapa …she muttered and smiled saying “Nothing.”
“My Periyappa is a pain but a sweet one at that!” Suraj Chuckled.
“Oh! He heard it,” she muttered under her breath.
“Of course I do!” He said, and it made him look like Arnav Simha suddenly.
“Lowey, will you select my dress for the Annual Fair?” Suraj asked suddenly.
“Oh! They have announced it already?” Willow asked.
“Of course they do.” Suraj said and Willow corrected him, “Of course they did child…”.
“Oh! Whatever Lowey! You will be there. Won’t you?” He asked Willow.
“Dunno child!” Willow suddenly felt wary.
She got up all groggy and with a heavy head, and did not remember much but for the fact that she kissed Arnav Simha!
How very embarrassing and what would he be thinking of her! Goodness Gracious!
She actually went and kissed the Governor of the Valley!
Her father was very odd in the morning, and was asking her several questions and she literally ran away to the Casa to avoid him. But how would she face the Governor now!
She closed her eyes saying,” You know what Your Highness? Lowey is in big trouble! VERY BIG TROUBLE!”
“Indeed Ms. Feathers!” Said a very deep voice.
“Periyappa! See, Lowey doesn’t want to go to the Annual Fair.” Suraj jumped on to Arnav Simha.
“She need not Suraj!”… was Arnav Simha’s reply, which made Willow make an ‘o’ with her mouth and say,” Ask His Highness why Your Highness.”
“Well tell her Suraj that she is enough entertainment herself, and nothing much is needed from outside for any kind of entertainment.” Arnav Simha chuckled much to Suraj’s amusement.
“What will you wear for the great Governor’s procession Lowey?” Suraj asked Willow, oblivious of the undercurrents.
“The Governor just said that I am not required Your Highness, so you know that I am not coming.” She said peeved about the whole thing.
“Periyappa! What is this? Ain’t Lowey coming with us to the Masani Amman Temple?” Suraj asked trying wink but failing miserably that made Arnav Simha’s lips twitch.
“OK, let me talk to Lowey. You go ahead, and ask Mangamma to set places for lunch ok?” Arnav Simha said.
Willow looked at the badge that Arnav Simha wore on his dress shirt, and the lions intimidated her. No way! She wouldn’t let them!
“So, how is your headache Ms.Feathers?” Aranv Simha asked a shocked Willow.
“How do you know sir?” She asked frowning at him.
“When you empty a bottle of premium vintage wine, and three fourths of the best of the Champagne of the Governor of Whisper Valley, you wake up with a headache Ms. Feathers,” he said amusedly.
“Me? Who? Me?” She stared at him.
He walked to her and said “Yeah, You! Ms. Lowey Feathers!”
She moved back mumbling,” And here I thought I just kissed you!”
“You just didn’t just kiss me Miss. You also made four babies up!” Arnav Simha said mock seriously, “and you happened to tell Captain Williams about our baby plan.”
“ I did what?” She widened her eyes so much that Arnav Simha smiled o himself.
“OH NO!” She sat down on the chair holding her head.
“Yes! Oh Yes!” Arnav Simha teased her.
“You are lying! Your Highness,” she said suddenly getting up.
“The nerve of the woman!” Arnav Simha admired her guts, but said,” You are calling the Governor of the Valley a liar! Had it been a man, I would have called him for a dual and killed you too.”
“Then let us go the Whisper Rocks for a dual!” She got up.
“What? Are you…?” He almost laughed at her antics.
“I am not! If what you are saying is true then, my father would have blown you out with his shotgun.” She said stoically.
“Aaarrggh! Not when his daughter was drunk!” Arnav Simha said.
“But how did he not do anything?” Willow was confused…
“Coz I told him I love you!” Arnav Simha said standing before her.