The problem, Acacia reflected, was that her family had not always been prosperous, nor where they English, or even Scottish, which might have been forgiven. The Carlisles were, in fact, Irish, and Acacia remembered what it was like to skirt the edge of poverty while her father sought his fortune. And found it in Australia of all places, in the emerald and coal mines. That had funded his first expedition, and it had all been roses and wine from there. Captain Robert Carlisle had been too successful, and too generous in the right places—and too popular with the Queen—to be entirely ignored or treated like an outsider. The peerage wanted her father to invest in their business ventures and help them raise capital, so they were forced to treat him as an equal, at least to his face.
Thankfully for Acacia, their father had definite Views about rearing daughters. Becca had only had a governess and presentation because she’d insisted upon it. But that governess, still with Becca as a ladies’ companion, had a mind that defied description in addition to her feminine accomplishments.
Acacia had gravitated to Archie’s tutor, and to Jock. While a largely indifferent student, she had been fascinated by history and anthropology, and possessed a keen ear for languages. And even her father had to admit she was a natural-born navigator. Maps had enthralled her from an early age. When persuaded by Becca to attempt at least one artistic accomplishment, Acacia had taken to drawing and paintings her own maps, at which point Becca had given the whole thing up as a bad job.
Lucia had started toddling around their grandfather’s laboratory and never left. Her favorite toy as a child had been his tools, so Grandpapa had made her a child-sized set for her fifth birthday. They’d been inseparable since.
Becca’s elbow burying itself in her side brought her forcefully back to the present, and just in time. The Hamiltons had arrived.
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