Blue Water Blue
Denver remembered how his hand shook as he read the letter for the second, third, and forth time.
“I am bound for England on the 25th May this year.”
Rupert Stillwood-Hamilton had given the departure date though frustratingly not the the name of the ship. The letter was dated 1669 and had been posted from Surat. From his studies of the British East India Company, Denver knew that the town of Surat was north of Bombay and under British Governorship at the time.
Denver had wondered at that, according to East India records Rupert Stillwood-Hamilton was wanted by the Honourable Company on several charges of “interloping and other nefarious deeds,” The only way that Rupert could have travelled on an East Indiaman ship would be in leg irons. There was, according to Denver’s research into the East India Company records, no mention of that happening. Rupert must have booked his passage on a foreign vessel or a British interloper masquerading as a foreign vessel. After another visit to East India House to check for any record of Rupert Stillwood-Hamilton’s transportation back to England. Denver turned his attention to the port of Surat and scoured all the records he could find relating to it. His search confirmed Surat had been the main headquarters of the English along the West Indian coast. However in 1668, a year before Rupert’s departure date, the East India Company had relocated its head office to Bombay. Later, in 1703, Surat itself fell under Bombay’s Governorship. Denver meticulously searched through the British East India archives but it was in the cloistral silence of the reading library that he finally had an amazing stroke of luck a true breakthrough. Lost in an obscure batch of notes was the journal of Gerald Augier.
(An extract from Blue Water Blue)
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