For England, man, regardless of colour or ethnicity was inherently free. Also, during the early 19th century, Great Britain was at war with Spain, one of two nations who initiated and primarily profited in this trade for centuries. Great Britain had already established the prohibition against the international slave trade as the foundation of international custom. The Crown of England had not only done this in name, but upheld its position within its borders when cases involving slaving schooners that continued to participate in the slave trade made claims within the British courts arising from disputes within territorial waters under maritime law. One young woman, who was already free, would travel among the high seas, seeking the consummation of her destiny—and she would find it in England.
It all began with a young maiden sheltered under the roof a plantation mansion in the North Carolina colony during the 18th century. Emmeline understood that her future could no longer be in the very place that she had known all her life. She holds on to the clue from her dying mother that she may find where she belongs. She accepts what has been ordained for her, wherever she must go. Emmeline tells no one of her plans. Late one night, when all the candles are no longer lit, the footsteps of the household servants can no longer be heard, and the watchful eyes of others have shuddered for slumber, Emmeline leaves the mansion. She decides that she must sail to England. Her resources are limited. Emmeline becomes a stowaway in a schooner set to sail the tumultuous tides of the Atlantic Ocean. A seaman discovers her on board and brings her to the captain. The captain demands to see her travel papers. Emmeline is reluctant to respond. The captain and his crew show mercy and allow her to pursue her voyage though she must earn her keep. Upon her arrival at the shantytown of Liverpool, England, she must decide where she may now take refuge and keep the purpose of her visit secret. Emmeline’s destiny calls for an opening as she is able to rely on the kindness of strangers. Some provide her with food and scraps of shelter. A benevolent society helps her uncover the truth about her heritage. Emmeline seeks her own ‘freedom’, but has to ensure her efforts aren’t thwarted, even by a handsome duke, John, who attempts to befriend her. Though she was born a free person in the North Carolina colony, she was truly free once she landed at the docks of Liverpool, England. No one could force her return, no one had a right to claim her as they never had before. The natural law of England is clear and so is Emmeline’s determination. Though she had yet to know it, the courtier she encounters is sheltered as well and seeks his own sort of freedom. Duke John endeavours to chart his own path, to be his own man, free from the influence of his mother and father. Emmeline accepts the duke as her suitor. He asks for Emmeline to accompany him to a social gathering his mother is to host in his father’s honour. Duke John explains that he will take care of everything, her dress, jewelry, whatever is necessary, but most of all, her. She agrees. It is here that Duke John announces his engagement to Emmeline, sending the envious maidens into a noticeable disarray. Among the gentry are a few who connived against John and Emmeline. A duchess by the name of Lady Edna, the very woman that Emmeline noticed had kept track of her whereabouts. The same courtier who happen to be in her presence when she had left the benevolent society. Emmeline was correct in her suspicions. Despite what she and John had been searching for and found in each other, they had to take care. Their felicity was the envy of so many others. Their joy somehow insulted the eyes and minds of those who could never experience what Emmeline and John naturally shared. Lady Edna was one of those who despised John and Emmeline’s relationship. Had Lady Edna lived, she would have also loathed Duke John and Emmeline’s marriage. Lady Edna was aware that John had no interest in her. Perhaps this fueled her insecurity and her vitriol against the innocent Emmeline. Nonetheless, she would work with another to cause harm to Emmeline and John. Lady Edna was beyond reproach. An irredeemable vessel in which only death could save her from her insanity. Yet, Lady Edna would not be the only one whose rage would blind her to her wickedness. Envious maidens sought to hurl never-ending obstacles to their newfound happiness. Despite this, eyes from above watched. Destiny would always be stronger and Providence would be Emmeline and John’s guarantee. Duke John’s servant, Nathaniel, warned John to be careful. The duke decided that if he would not allow for his mother and father to take hold of his future, than surely he would not let the superficial of the ennobled to do the same. John and Emmeline continued to secure their relationship, their safety and their intended marriage. Emmeline is shocked to learn that she has become the center of undesired attention as several maidens have learned of her presence in England and of her relationship with Duke John. As a result, Emmeline is kidnapped. John is able to find her, but he is attacked as well. Once they are rescued, they convalesce in the mansion. Emmeline resumes her pursuit to have the answers which set her on this path. The benevolent society is able to secure a solicitor on her behalf. John accompanies Emmeline to the King’s Bench. The case is presented on her behalf. Emmeline is declared a citizen of England. It further issued that since she was deprived of her due rights, that she has been granted the title of duchess and is to present herself before the royal king’s court. A conspirator in her kidnapping and Duke John’s assault was to have their charges adjudicated before the king. His Majesty noted that some matters, especially involving the ennobled remained under his sole authority. Envy and hatred failed. Emmeline and John captured each other’s heart. They both find their freedom within one another.
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