Seen here is the stash of limes in the larder of the towers that are A Word with You Press. Common knowledge that a slice of lime on the rim is the ONLY way the editor-in-chief will consume a pint. Literati! Posting here is the second chapter of Wendy Joseph’s recovered journal: The …
Seen here is the stash of limes in the larder of the towers that are A Word with You Press. Common knowledge that a slice of lime on the rim is the ONLY way the editor-in-chief will consume a pint.
Posting here is the second chapter of Wendy Joseph’s recovered journal:
The Diary of Bobbie MacBride
As discovered by Wendy Joseph
Being the Journal of
Robert MacBride, née Barbara Brigid MacBride,
The original leather bound manuscript
of this diary appears to have been written
with pine tar ink and a feathered quill pen.
For those new to the site, our contest Once Upon a Lime–oops! TIME–required each author to submit a prologue of a novel-in-progress, followed by a fist and second chapter as they worked their way up the ranks. Our five semi-finalists each had such superb work and of such divergent styles that after and extended conference of the entire Moscow office (moi, aka His Moiness) that it seemed only fair that each be considered a finalists, and entitles to compete for the $250 first prize.l All our semi-finalists have been issued a gift card to Barnes and Noble, as advertised, but now are competing for the cash, or, at their option, lunch with the editor-in-chief at the MacDonald’s of their choice in the land of thee double-entundra. (going Dutch).
But let’s first enjoy this sea-flaring tale by Wendy Joseph
The Diary of Bobbie MacBride – Chapter Two
by Wendy Joseph
Monday, 24 Sept.
I found Davy fingering my quill with a pensive air in the foc’sle today, and wondered what his interest in it was; assuring him I was not offended by his picking up something of mine, and thinking that he might wish to pen a letter or work out the ciphers of his pay, I offered him the use of the quill, and was drawing ink and parchment out of the bees-waxed canvas bag I keep them in (wax being an excellent hindrance to damp and mold), when he spoke to me sadly.
“‘Tis no use your offerin’ me these, Bobbie me lad; I’ve naught in the way of schoolin,’ and ’twas only a wish I had to—” Here he broke off, and for the first time since I have known him he seemed most uncertain and forlorn. I ventured to ask cautiously what the matter was, thinking he might be ill, and it was some while before he answered, in this wise, “Ah Bobbie, if ye knew what it is I be goin’ through inside—have ye anyone behind at home, ‘a waitin’ for ye?”
When I replied in the negative (hoping my face held no giveaway of the awkwardness of the question, or my answer) he went on, ‘Tis me Maggie I be thinkin’ of, and more it seems the further way we gets from Kinvarra. Aye, if you could see her, Bobbie, with her black eyes bold and shinin’, ‘twould make yer knees give out under ye. Two years I’ve been at sea, ‘a hopin’ to put enough together to come back to her with a proper purse to start a life with, for her da says ’tis no way under the scorchin’ sun he’d allow to have his daughter marry with a common road boy, with no more family than the stone of a cherry, and no learnin’ in any school but that of workin’ with me hands.
“Twas yer quill that put me in the mind of writin’ to me Maggie girl, not but what I could only tell her she’d have to be in the mind of waitin’ still more for me, and worried I am that some fine jack with lace on his shirt and a crown in his pocket will ride up and take me Maggie away with him. Aye, Bobbie, ’tis me earnest hope that ye have no such matter in yer heart, for ’tis a thing that can scarcely be borne!” And with that he put his head in his hands and turned quite away, leaning against the bulkhead.
I have no experience in the woes of men over a love, but know right well what it does to a woman, and Davy has become the only true friend I have on this ship, or indeed the world. “Davy?” I asked, not knowing whether he would reply.
He turned to me in an unwilling way, trying to hide the redness of his eyes. “Aye, Bobbie?”
“It would be no difficulty at all for me to write what you would wish to tell your Maggie, if you can give me the words. We can send off the letter with the next ship we meet, with a course set for Ireland.”
His eyes brightened considerably with that, and he said, “Ye would, Bobbie? Ah, sure, you’re the saints’ own angel come to lend assistance. But ye’re sure t’would be no trouble, are ye?”
“It would be only in the way of returning the favor of all the things you’ve taught me about right sailing.”
“Ah, but ’tis only a sailor’s job to show a new lad how to reef and haul and coil proper, so as the ship will stay upright and not be headin’ to Davy Jones,” and his eyes had regained their customary twinkle. “I have me own skin to think about, ye see, in this matter.”
After dinner and before our afternoon watch commenced, we found time to put his letter down, and the comfort it gave Davy even caused my own continual dismay over the thought of never seeing my John Donnelly again to alter somewhat, and that to the better.
Wednesday, 26 Sept.
A jolt of apprehension came close to marring this day. I showed the short splice I had been working on with all diligence to Davy, and asked him if I had mastered it.
“Aye, me lady—” and upon my astonishment and horror his eyes crinkled with a mischief. “T’was not three weeks out we were that I spied ye were no right lad, and I’ll wager the better part of the crew know, too. But ye needn’t worry; ye’ve proved your worth as a sailor sure, and one that can be counted on in a gale. I’m thinkin’ ye’ll have no troubles with the others aboard, especially seeing as how good ye’re with a marlinspike, as well as havin’ me to back ye up. T’was only the voyage before last we had a lady aboard as ye are, for all the world a buckin’ to be Mate. And a right good hand she was, too.”
Saturday, 29 Sept.
Today I had determined to cut my hair, it having grown very long indeed so that even braided, it flopped about overmuch and was in danger of tangling with the lines, which would surely and in short order have had the Mate put me in for a flogging. Davy finding me thus about to engage myself, he responded, “Aye, me lady, if it were meself, I would be sad indeed to see such fine and lovely hair go to Davy Jones’. Me Maggie has raven black hair, oh so long and lovely, and shattered I’d be if she cut it all off.” He then went and fetched some pine tar. “Here, me Bobbie lad. A little bit o’ this’ll keep it in place in a gale—” and as he reached out with it I flinched away in horror. “Ah, ’twill wash out well enough with turpentine.”
With much reluctance, I allowed him to braid up and bind my hair with the stuff, which is most excellent for water proofing canvas and clothes, as well as sustaining and extending the life of a backstay, but is most foul indeed when applied to hair. I despair that this now stiff red snake coiled about my head will ever be the full rich tresses that my Johnnie admired so, but it does stay in place well enough, and does not get tangled in the rigging.
All the ship appears to now know my sex, yet none of them have seen fit to reveal this, and none have compromised me. I wonder at it, and admire them.
Sunday, 30 Sept.
I was engaged in trying to wash away a sore and sad itching on one of my lower limbs when the cook saw this and approached.
“Here, me Bobbie lad,” he said, handing me a queer-looking, small green fruit with a leathery shell, very like a large goose dropping. “’Tis the scratch a’ scurvy ye have. A taste ‘a this often enough ’twill keep the scurvy away and the teeth in your head. ‘Twas an old salt what sailed with Cook himself as told me so; and ’twas never a man of his crew as ever got the scurvy. The cabbage in brine ye picked up in Galway would do too, but that, aye that ‘tis for the officers.”
“And what sort of fruit is this?” I queried.
“‘Tis a lime, lass, from old Spain. Close by Gibraltar we were, and nigh where Nelson gave Napoleon his comeuppance at Trafalgar, and met a skiff sailing limes to market. Three barrels full we have, so clean your teeth on one of these every day and you’ll not be losin’ ’em.
Thereupon I bit into the odd green rind, and was met with a taste that can only be described as a bitterish blight on the world of edible flora. In a few days, however, my itching and redness did go away.
I had not believed until now that nature was capable of producing such a phenomenon as that which we witnessed this day. For the past week the weather had been growing increasingly warm and close, a condition to which I was not accustomed and found hard to bear. It increases the burden of one’s work, and makes one readily disposed to irritation and darkness of mind. Yesterday a veritable wall of dark clouds advanced upon us from the south-southeast, seeming to stifle the little energy the crew had left. During the night, which began at three in the afternoon due to the clouds, the wind began to pick up, growing and growing until a hollow whistle rose from the rigging, low at first, but always rising, till the entire ship screamed like a flock of seagulls afire. The ocean changed. Instead of a chop, or rough rolling waves, it swelled into huge hills which seemed bent on slamming right into us. But each time, we rose up with the water until at the top we seemed about to leap into the sky, and then plunged down the back of the wave like a falcon stooping for its prey.
Then the wind started taking the tops of the waves right off and turning them to a white raging froth, that seemed bent upon taking the rigging right off the spars, and unwary sailors off the deck. I have never seen a fury like it, even the great winter storms off the coast of Galway.
We doused all sails, though the foretops’l took a serious tear from one of the reef points, and will need substantial mending.