Wandering for hours from one street to the next, they soon pressed through crowds when approaching a bazaar of huge proportions. A labyrinth of crowded streets, surrounded by crumbling buildings, were overwhelmed by those buying and selling an abundance of goods.
“My commanding officers have warned of this place,” Casper mumbled under his breath. “They refer to this bazaar as the thieves market. Stolen goods have found their way here.”
“Many of these people do not seem to be Hindu,” Clarissa remarked.
“They are said to be mostly Muslim here,” Casper responded.
Holding hands, they pressed through the crowds. They stopped often to look at linens, curios, and trinkets. Shopkeepers urged them to buy clocks, statues, and lamps, attempting to bargain with them.
“I am told one should offer half the price as the shopkeepers are asking for insane amounts, especially from foreigners,” Casper commented when she was looking at a small white statue of an elephant. The shopkeeper urged her to buy it, but she declined politely.
A number of times, Clarissa turned around, feeling as if being watched. Other than the shopkeepers competing for her attention, she saw no one watching her. I am just being a fool. My father’s warning must be playing tricks on my mind. All here have welcomed us. I feel no threat from anyone I have met.
Later, when returning to the Taj Mahal Hotel, they found Mrs. Fenwick’s carriage and driver waiting patiently for them. Again, Casper helped her up into the carriage and took his seat next to her.
“This is the finest birthday I can recall having since I was a young boy,” Casper said, smiling at her.
“I failed to wish you a happy birthday! She fretted. “Happy birthday, Casper.”
“I am beyond happy to share this with you,” Clarissa added.
“You are the reason it has been so special,” he remarked. She felt her skin flushed and warm, believing she was blushing. Emboldened when he took hold of her hand, she leaned over and kissed his lips softly. A second kiss, brimming with passion followed until their lips parted, their chests heaving for breath.
Clarissa rested her head against his shoulder as their fingers entwined. Looking toward the sky, the brilliant blue began to fade to lighter hues. The perfect morning and afternoon could not last forever. Were I ever to escape this place, it would be with you, Casper. I choose you. No one holds dominion over my heart as you do. Someday I will speak words of love to you and will wait breathlessly for you to say them back. Already, they burn your tongue. I see this when you try to speak, yet your voice holds these words hostage. Soon there will be no restraints, only love.