Sunday, 28 April 2013

Tuesday 4th October, 1836

Editors Note: On this day the Buffalo finally arrived in Rio de Janeiro, 3 days later than they might have without the detour towards the Cape. Over the following week the ship was restocked with fresh food, including fresh supplies ofthe Governor's hated sauerkraut,  and fresh water. The Hindmarshes are recorded as visiting the Museum, the Botanic Gardens and, as promised, went shopping. It was during this time that the Governor first made contact with a woman who would come to cause a disruption between Governor and Mrs Hindmarsh.

Most pleasant time ashore in Rio, marred only by a slight tiff when my wife got her heart set on two little donkeys that would "be so dear to us" in the new colony and, I am assured, "so useful".

I pointed out two objections to her buying these dear little useful donkeys. First, if we add donkeys to the cows, the pigs, the chickens, the dogs, the cats, the ducks, the geese and the turkeys on board already we would look less like a colony and more like a toy Noah's Ark. My second objection was that the Buffalo is not a large ship and if we try and make room for her donkeys we might have to throw several emigrants overboard, something with which my wife seems able to reconcile herself.  I have said "no" to the donkeys, but I suspect I have not heard the last of it.

After the pleasures of the past few days, this evening a most curious thing occurred.

The local Governor had thrown a supper for Mrs Hindmarsh, myself and some of the better class of passenger. During the evening there was entertainment in the form of a troupe of local dancers, followed by a festive collation of the local greasy, spicy food (though no sauerkraut thank God!)  and then dancing.

I am not, perhaps, the most naturally outgoing of social companions and soon found myself sitting alone in the drawing room while other members of the party danced on until all hours in the assembly room.

As I sat alone and, I thought, unnoticed, I heard a low, exotic voice at my ear.

" You are Governor 'indmarsh?"

I swung round on my chair to see who addressed me is such an aspirated fashion..

It was a raven haired beauty: her black eyes blazing like burning embers; her features containing more than a hint of gypsy; her mouth full, sensual and scarlet red.

She was a picture in old Spanish lace and her decolletage revealed, perhaps, more of her charms than might be acceptable in the best London salons. She carried a handpainted silk fan that she used to refreshing effect. I recognised her as one of the dancers who had performed earlier.

She spoke again.

"My name is Leopoldina Concepcion Iphigenia Branquinho. I am a dancer."

I told her that I had seen her dance the tarantella earlier and had enjoyed it greatly.

She smiled and flashed a dark eyed look at me. "Ah," she purred. "If that is so then you must see my fandango."

Severely, I told her that I was an English gentleman and such Latin liberality was not for me. She was silent for a moment, then spoke again.

"Governor 'indmarsh I must ask if you can 'elp me. It is of the imperitive that I leave Rio as soon as possible. I must leave the Empire of Brazil. I fear my life depends upon it."

"My dear woman," I said,  "I am sure you exaggerate. And besides, I am simply passing through this city on my way to a new colony. What could I do for you to help, even if your assertion proved to be true?"

She fluttered her long eyelashes at me in a provocative fashion.

"Oh Governor, if only my story was not true. How simple it would be then. But it is a story of dark desires, of forbidden love, strange lusts and hideous revenge. Also money. Oh, and of promises broken and vendettas sworn."

"Well," I said, "No doubt it is all terribly romantic and exciting, but really, there is little I can do, and I can hardly place myself in a position where my standing as Governor might be compromised...."

But before I could say more she threw herself at me, her arms around me, her heaving bosom pressed against my face.

"Governor 'indmarsh, do not say no to me! Do not condemn me to a fate worse than death itself! I implore you! I beg of you! I throw myself at your feet and grovel asking for your aid!"

And so saying she did just that! I was nonplussed.

"Please madam. Contain yourself. Literally so, in that dress. Arise from this recumbant position."

"I may only rise with your hands to assist me!"

I can take a hint as well as the next man and I helped her to her feet.

"Will you help me, Governor 'indmarsh? May this poor simple woman rely on the 'elp of an English milord?"

To get rid of the woman before I was discovered by my wife I said that there was little I could do there and then, but if she came to the villa where I was staying tomorrow at three, I might hear her story out and see if there was anything I could do. She seemed overjoyed.

"Oh thankyou, thankyou Governor. You may have saved my life tonight."

"Oh, surely not."

"And I will be grateful, Governor 'indmarsh." She gave me a meaning look. "Most grateful indeed!"

She fluttered her fan at me. What she was doing with her dango I was unable to see.

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