Jamie said, “I’m told the countryside around here is interesting. Would it be an imposition to ask you to let
your daughter show me around a bit tomorrow?”
Margaret felt her heart stop for a second.
Van der Merwe frowned. “I don’t know. She—”
It was an iron-clad rule of Salomon van der Merwe’s never to permit any man to be alone with his daughter.
In the case of Mr. Travis, however, he decided there would be no harm in making an exception. With so
much at stake, he did not want to appear inhospitable. “I can spare Margaret from the store for a short time.
You will show our guest around, Margaret?”
“If you wish, Father,” she said quietly.
“That’s settled then.” Jamie smiled. “Shall we say ten o’clock in the morning?”
After the tall, elegantly dressed guest left, Margaret cleared away the table and washed the dishes, in a
complete daze. He must think I’m an idiot. She went over and over in her mind everything she had
contributed to the conversation. Nothing. She had been completely tongue-tied. Why was that? Hadn’t she
waited on hundreds of men in the store without becoming a stupid fool? Of course they had not looked at
her the way Ian Travis had. Men all have the devil in them, Margaret. I’ll not let them corrupt your innocence.
Her father’s voice echoed in her mind. Could that be it? The weakness and trembling she had felt when the
stranger had looked at her? Was he corrupting her innocence? The thought of it sent a delicious thrill
through her body. She looked down at the plate she had dried three times
and sat down at the table. She wished her mother were still alive.
Her mother would have understood. Margaret loved her father, but sometimes she had the oppressive
feeling that she was his prisoner. It worried her that he never allowed a man to come near her. I’ll never get
married, Margaret thought. Not until he dies. Her rebellious thoughts filled her with guilt, and she hurriedly
left the room and went into the store, where her father sat behind a desk, working on his accounts.
“Good night, Father.”
Van der Merwe took off his gold-framed spectacles and rubbed his eyes before he raised his arms to
embrace his daughter good-night. Margaret did not know why she pulled away.
Alone in the curtained-off alcove that served as her bedroom, Margaret studied her face in the small, round
mirror that hung on the wall. She had no illusions about her looks. She was not pretty. She was interestinglooking.
Nice eyes. High cheekbones. A good figure. She drew nearer to the mirror. What had Ian Travis
seen when he looked at her? She began getting undressed. And Ian Travis was in the room with her,
watching her, his eyes burning into her. She stepped out of her muslin drawers and camisole and stood
naked before him. Her hands slowly caressed the swell of her breasts and felt her hardening nipples. Her
fingers slid down across her flat belly and his hands became entwined with hers, moving slowly downward.
They were between her legs now, gently touching, stroking, rubbing, harder now, faster and faster until she
was caught up in a frantic whirlpool of sensation that finally exploded inside her and she gasped his name
and fell to the bed.
They rode out in Jamie’s carriage, and he was amazed once more at the changes that had taken place.
Where before there had been only a sea of tents, now there were substantial-looking houses, constructed of
timber with roofs of corrugated iron or thatch.
Novel Book: MASTER OF THE GAME
Copyright © 1982 by Sheldon Literary Trust