In 1908, on a mission to find a new breed of ape in central Africa, an unfathomable thing is discovered - a wild, white man, living amongst gorillas. Local villagers call him matokeo ya utafutaji kwa, the untamed one. In England, renowned photographer, Sullivan Vinson, investigates and discovers the likely explanation, that the man is Sebastian Shaffer, the six year old boy who somehow escaped the massacre of Bishop Hannington's ill-fated party more than twenty years previous. Sullivan and his spirited twenty-one year old niece and ward, Arianna Day, journey to Africa to join the team tracking the man. They do not find him but, unbeknownst to anyone, the untamed one watches Arianna day and night. Believing she is meant for him, he steals into her tent at night and captures her. When Ari is rescued, the man is taken into protective custody. Against their will, they are sent separate ways, Sebastian to the care of esteemed anthropologist John Emerson to be retaught language and learn social skills, Ari back home to England to try to fit back into her old life. An advantageous marriage proposal awaits, but thoughts of Sebastian haunt her.
Amidst the backdrop of London in the summer of 1908 as the Olympic Games are hosted and the Franko-British Exhibition is held, Sebastian 'Zan' returns to a London he does not remember with one goal in mind, being reunited with Arianna. As a member of Lord Dalton Bluford's household, he has no worries over day to day survival, but he struggles to fit into his new life. When a private agent of inquiry finds Zan's relatives, he regains memories and a sense of belonging. Ari is forced to accept another man's proposal while Lord Bluford proposes a union between his beloved granddaughter Vanessa and Zan, but Zan's goal has never altered. Again and again, he and Ari are drawn together only to be ripped apart by circumstances, social convention and Marshall Derringer, the man determined to have her as his wife. But Zan is not the only one with an untamed heart.
'Brilliant, thought provoking and addictive reading.' -Affaire de Coeur Magazine
|Product dimensions:||5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.69(d)|
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Birth of a Legend
By Jane Shoup
Shoup-Super BooksCopyright © 2013 Jane Shoup
All rights reserved.
April 18, 1908 Northampton, England
Far beneath a mackerel sky of whitish cloud and bright blue beyond, two young women walked toward a country house through softly blowing, knee-high grass with tennis rackets in hand. Patience Caldwell, the pretty, fair-headed one, normally had flawless, ivory skin, although now it was blotchy and pink from the exertion of the game. "Your man needs to mow," she remarked critically.
"Where's the adventure in that?" Arianna Day teased, brushing back strands of her coppery brown hair that had come loose. "Then you could actually see what we were walking through. Snakes and such."
Patience squealed at the thought of snakes and began hacking the grass in front of her with her racket.
Arianna laughed with delight. "Yes, that should do it! You've put them on alert."
Patience broke into a mad dash for the cut part of the lawn. Once she reached it, she turned back, breathing hard. "You are so mean! You didn't have to say that, knowing how I loathe the things. In fact, it's the only reason you did say it. Admit it!"
Arianna jerked to a halt and looked down in horror.
"What's wrong?" Patience demanded suspiciously.
"S-something has me," Arianna cried as she went lopsided and then fell dramatically.
"So amusing," Patience retorted, folding her arms. "First you frighten me with talk of poisonous snakes and then you mock me."
Arianna popped back up with a smirk on her pretty face. "I never said poisonous."
"Oh, honestly, Ari!"
"Oh, honestly, Ari," Arianna repeated, mimicking Patience's British accent perfectly. After more than ten years in England, she could fool even the most discriminating ear.
Patience turned and started toward the house. "I don't know why I bother."
Arianna bounded back to her feet and ran to catch up, throwing her arm around Patience. "Because you're my dearest friend in all the world and you love me beyond all good sense."
"That's an excellent way to put it. The beyond all good sense part, I mean." When they neared the house, a sharp rap at a window above made both girls look up to where Sullivan Vinson, Arianna's uncle, gestured for Ari to come up. Ari waved back and the girls walked on, arm in arm. "Did you speak to him about going home yet?" Patience asked in a confidential tone.
Ari groaned. "This is my home, not Charleston. And, no, I have not brought the subject back up because he thinks I should go. For a visit, he says." She huffed. "I have no desire to visit my father or brother ever again. Do you know we haven't so much as exchanged a letter in nearly three years?"
"It is a terribly long way to go for a visit," Patience commiserated. They walked in the back door and Patience followed Ari into a back parlor where she spied a covered pitcher of iced lemonade and two glasses. "Wonderful! I'm parched."
They set their rackets aside and Ari walked over to pour.
"Has it really been three years since you exchanged a letter?" Patience asked as she walked to a chair and sat.
Arianna followed and handed her a glass. "Not counting the letter he just wrote saying he felt it was time I returned home? Yes. Can you imagine the nerve of the man?"
Ari drank half the glass of lemonade before plopping down on the settee. "How much of a sin is it to wish your own father would go jump in a lake?"
Patience frowned as she considered the question. "I suppose that depends. Do you wish him to merely get wet or do you actually hope he'll drown?" She grinned, pleased by her little jest and Ari rolled her eyes at her. "You should go see your uncle. I have to go, anyway."
"Because I have a fitting this afternoon for my new gown."
"I thought you had all your gowns for the season."
"This one will be specifically for the Harvest Ball. Mama has finally consented to the new Empire styling," she added gleefully.
"That is exciting," Ari said comically.
"Scoff if you will, but I love the new styles. And I love the Harvest Ball, really above all others, because it's ours, you know? Northampton's own traditional Harvest Ball."
Arianna jiggled her glass, making the ice chips clink against the side of the glass. "I know. I love it too. It's set apart from the others. It's after the season and it's here."
Suddenly, Patience pouted. "Oh, Ari, I don't want you to go to America. You just got back from India."
Ari shook her head at her friend who'd never been further away than the city. "We got back six months ago. In fact, closer to seven."
"Do you want to know what I think? I think your father's learned of all the traveling to wild places and —"
"He hasn't cared in all these years, but suddenly what I do and where I go is disturbing to him? No. I am not going back to Charleston. I've made up my mind."
"What? Just now?"
"That's right. It's my life and I'm not going. As a matter of fact, I too want to enjoy the full season."
Patience cocked her head, a pained expression on her face. "You'll have to come up with a better excuse than that. It won't fool anyone who knows you."
"Well, my father doesn't know me."
"He's your father. I don't believe you've changed that much in all the time you've been here."
"Of course I have! People change and I'm older."
Patience frowned worriedly. "That is true. You're nearly twenty-two. Honestly, do you never worry about getting too old?"
"For what?" Ari asked with an ingenuous fluttering of her eyes.
"You know what."
"Oh, you know I'll probably marry Marshall and have two or three sons who look exactly like their father."
Patience giggled. "Oh, I really think you should. He's handsome and rich and very proper."
"Yes, yes. I can see it now," Ari said drolly. "We'll attend all the right functions and I'll wear the latest fashion, no matter how ghastly I find it. We'll have scores of servants. Will I even know all their names, do you think?"
The smile vanished from Patience's face. "You really don't have those sort of feelings for him, do you?"
Ari hesitated, considering the right answer. "Your mother would say those sort of feelings were of no importance."
"Yes, she would," Patience said slowly. "That's exactly what she says." Even now in this room just between the two of them, Patience would not come any closer to a defiance of her mother's beliefs than the merest hint that she felt otherwise.
"No, I don't have those sort of feelings toward him," Ari admitted. "But I suppose I do see the sense in it."
"Well, that's something," Patience replied uncertainly. "Although —"
"I think the idea of marrying with one's head rather than one's heart is more English than American, really. I think you would be miserable stuck with someone you don't truly love."
Ari drew back. "You're saying you wouldn't?"
"No," Patience replied earnestly. "I expect it."
It was a terrible thought. "You do not!"
"I do," Patience replied apologetically with a shrug. "I already know my parents will have to approve. Besides, I think I may not be capable of those sort of feelings. You know, where your knees go weak and your heart pounds out of your chest at the sight of a man. I never feel that. I've never felt anything close to it." She sipped her drink. "Honestly? I think some of us might truly fall in love, but some of us won't. You will, or you should, and I think Nan will. At least, I hope she will. She has such a soft heart. But I won't," she continued with a resigned shrug. "Delia won't. It's a matter of," she considered, "I don't know. Passion?"
"You have the best heart in the world," Arianna rejoined. "So I cannot imagine why it wouldn't happen for you."
Patience smiled sweetly. "It won't. One just knows some things and I know that. But it's fine. Really! It doesn't bother me."
"It bothers me!"
"You know, if you really are going to stay," Patience said, changing the subject, "you'll need someone to start on more gowns straight away. The whole season is before us."
Ari was about to give a sardonic reply when Mrs. Herbin, their housekeeper, appeared at the door. "Ari, your uncle's asking for you," she said before walking on.
Patience set her glass down. "And I must go." She rose. "We could play again tomorrow if the rain holds off. But at my house. The lawn is mowed."
"No sense of adventure," Ari said sadly, also rising.
"Shall I invite Delia and Nan?" Patience asked as they walked to the door.
"Yes, do. It will be fun."
"Let's meet at ten and after our game, we'll have lunch."
After Patience left, Ari continued upstairs knowing it was high time she broached the subject of Charleston. About Charleston, she'd begin. You know, Uncle Sully, it's my life. Or what about, I've been thinking and I've decided I really do not want to leave home this summer. Yes. She would be blunt and get right to the point.
It was true. This place, Somersly Manor, was her home. It was rather a quirky old place, although, since arriving, she'd never wanted another. Built some seventy years ago as a hunting lodge for a wealthy tycoon, it was comfortable with spacious rooms and large, many-paned windows. It had a smoking room, a trophy room and an enormous billiards room. In short, it was a bachelor's paradise, which made sense, since her uncle was a bachelor. A bachelor with a niece he'd taken in and cared for well and lovingly – something her father had not been capable of after the death of her mother.
She stopped in the open door of her uncle's study and watched him biting on the stem of his pipe, completely absorbed in something he was reading. As always, the room smelled of rich tobacco and leather. She suddenly experienced a surge of emotion at the thought of leaving him. He'd taken her in at nine years of age when her mother, his only sister, had passed on and her own father had felt unable to cope. Sully had been a wonderful guardian and she loved him so dearly. She didn't want to leave him.
Of course, she had other reasons for not wanting to go back to Charleston, reasons she'd kept secret from him since her one and only other visit home three years ago.
She cleared her throat as she walked into the room. "You summoned?" He looked up at her and his eyes were positively alight. "Yes! I've received the most remarkable correspondence."
"From whom?" she asked as she sat across from him.
He set his pipe aside. "North."
"Ah." Charles North was a renowned zoologist and a close friend. "What's he up to?"
"He is in Central Africa, part of an expedition to find some new breed of gorilla."
She grinned, amused by the thought. "A new breed of gorilla?"
"Indeed. Apparently some German fellow discovered some unusual gorilla skulls a few years ago."
"Unusual in what way?"
"I really don't know, but the British Museum got their hands on them and determined they were the skulls of an unknown breed. So the Royal Society got involved and off a group went in search of the beasts with North leading the way."
"So what does he say? Have they had any luck?"
"Not in locating the new breed of gorilla," he said haltingly.
She cocked her head, sensing something of significance by the gleam in his eye. "But they had luck elsewhere?"
Sully leaned forward. "When they first arrived, they settled in, middle of the jungle now, and began observing the wildlife around them, concentrating on the great apes. You may not know this, but gorillas move around all the time. They don't stay in one place."
"I didn't know that."
He gave a nod. "So North and the others observed several bands of gorillas. They took notes and calculations and they kept watching and comparing."
"But no new breed."
"No. To their best of their knowledge, they've seen nothing but plain old mountain gorillas."
"What's the excitement then? You can hardly contain yourself."
"It's just this; in watching the gorillas, they saw something amazing. Beyond amazing, really. There is a man who occasionally lives among them. Interacts with them. North says he seems more animal than human, but he's definitely a man."
She blinked. "A man who lives amongst gorillas?"
He nodded. "A white man."
She nearly burst into laughter. "Uncle Sully! He's pulling your leg."
Sullivan shook his head. "Charles North is capable of many things but humor has never been among them."
Sullivan held up his hand. "Hear me out."
"But it's impossible!"
"No. It may be illogical and unlikely and incredible but not impossible."
She considered him a moment. "Alright, then. Go on."
"After the sighting, North began querying local tribes, and they know of the man. They've known of him for years! They call him matokeo ya utafutaji kwa, which means the untamed one."
Ari's expression changed from wry amusement to one of confusion.
"He's believed to be in his late twenties based on sightings throughout the years," he continued. "Furthermore, it is believed he's lived in the jungle most his life."
She shook her head. "But ... but how? How could he have survived? Moreover, why would a white man be there ... and for almost the whole of his life?"
"That's what North asked me to dig into," he said calmly. "Which I have done." He smiled a sly smile. "And I think I have found the answer. In fact, I feel it."
"I can hardly wait to hear," she said earnestly.
"Twenty-three years ago, a bishop by the name of James Hannington traveled to Africa with a group of men, fellow missionaries, porters and a few surveyors. Their plan was to find a new route into Uganda. Eventually, to build a road."
"Everything was fine until they left Mombasa, but then, for some reason, King Mwanga gave orders to stop them. They were set upon, put into a filthy rat and vermin infested hut and held for over a week until they were executed one by one. The last to die was Bishop Hannington."
A cold shiver ran up her spine. "How terrible."
"Yes it is, but it's well documented. It got me wondering, so I dug up the list of men who'd been traveling with Hannington and ... guess what I discovered."
"Two of the men's wives went along. One of them, Mary Fuller, wife of Joshua Fuller, became gravely ill and stayed behind in Freretown, but the other, Catherine Shaffer went further. It's not known how much further, but presumably, all the way, eventually meeting her death with the others."
Goosebumps rippled on Ari's arms. "What else?"
"Whatever do you mean, what else?" he asked teasingly.
"I mean that I know you and you're holding something back. So, what is it? What haven't you said?"
"What else is this, my dear. Only in one place did I find mention of the six- year-old son of Tom and Catherine Shaffer who accompanied his parents to Africa."
She exhaled a rush of breath. "Oh no! You think ... I mean you honestly think that child survived and lives today amongst gorillas?"
"He's the right age, in about the right location. It fits with what the locals believe, and they would know."
She shook her head slowly, aghast at the thought of it.
"Not only has matokeo ya utafutaji kwa been sighted on numerous occasions, but the locals sometimes leave him gifts of food and clothing, and they have done so for years. I'm telling you, Ari, North has seen the wild man with his own eyes."
Her eyes grew round. "You're going, aren't you?"
"Well, of course I'm going! Never in my life will something like this occur again. To be the first to photograph the poor creature if they manage to capture him? I simply have to go."
"I want to go too!"
He looked regretful. "Under normal circumstances, perhaps —"
"I'm not going back to Charleston, no matter what," she interrupted.
"I thought we decided that a visit was for the best," he said gently.
"Everyone decided except for me. And it's my life!"
"It is your life, dearest, but your father will be most displeased."
"I don't care! I am sorry if that makes me sound hard and unfeeling, but it's true."
"Don't be silly. There is nothing hard or unfeeling about you. I'm not sure your father will understand, however. His letter was rather insistent."
Arianna raised her chin and held his gaze stubbornly.
He shrugged slightly. "What will you tell him?"
"The truth! He knows that my life is here. He agreed to the arrangement a long time ago when it suited him. He only wants me back now because he wants something from me!"
Excerpted from Zan by Jane Shoup. Copyright © 2013 Jane Shoup. Excerpted by permission of Shoup-Super Books.
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