Wendy Joseph has long defied stereotypes, at least, in the ten years that I have known her. She takes her vast experience as a merchant sea(person) to create a most credible story here. I scrolled to the end, and suddenly!… No more words! Yes, I wanted to read more. How about You?
So far, I know most of the people who have entered our First Annual Award for Literary Excellence, A thou$sand Reasons to Write, so I remind everyone that the judging will be conducted independently. Simply submit 1,000 words (exactly!) of your unpublished fiction manuscript, or memoir, screenplay or poetry. We’ll post your entry, bio, synopsis and link to your website, and post on Facebook as well to give you the most mileage towards building your platform and garnering the attention of agents. Details are on the home page. And do leave comments for the author below.
Here is Wendy’s excellent beginning:
Nobody writes like Jane Austen anymore.
The Diary of Bobbie MacBride
As discovered by Wendy Joseph
Being — the Journal of Barri MacBride, sailing as Robeárd MacBride, called Bobbie
(Most of the original leather-bound manuscript of this diary was written with ink and a feathered quill pen.)
Friday, 2 Sept., 1814
My Johnnie has not, as he promised, returned in the fortnight he said would see our reunion; I therefore am taking some pains, and no little expense, to find out his whereabouts. It is indeed a hard task to find one man in a city of many hundreds, yet I shall persist until my goal is accomplished, for my heart will not allow me to rest till I have determined the fate of the one who is my reason for being. May God grant he is still alive, and failing that, may He give me the fortitude to withstand the worst.
Sunday, 4 Sept.
My inquiries have met with repeated answers in the negative, the bleakness of which increases the weight on my heart daily. The journey here was more costly than my ciphers had taken account of, and that, plus the amount for food and lodging, added to the cost of the advertisements I have placed in several papers here, has seriously drained my resources. Having taken leave of my dear home without permission, not to mention having stolen some of Auntie O’Shea’s jewelry to pay for the journey here, I cannot now return home without some misgivings. But how could I stay there when every thought goes with my dear John Donnelly, whose loss far outweighs every person or thing of value in my life?
I pray my family forgives me. I doubt that they can, or will.
Tuesday, 6 Sept.
I am resolved, having come to the end of my fiscal resources, to cut every link with my past and start anew. I have determined to ship aboard a brig here, bound for Boston. To this end I have bought all the necessary materials to fit myself out as a ship’s boy, trusting that this disguise will suffice to maintain and uphold my virtue. The ship is an American privateer, moored quietly for provisioning in a cove nearby, as we are at war with that country. She would seem safe enough, as there are no English warships here. I think they are all in France, fighting Napoleon, or to the war in America.
In four days this ship, the Freedom, leaves this port for the New World, and a new country, barely thirty-eight years in being. Lately His Majesty’s colonies, they are now the United States of America, or perhaps it is States of United America, I am not sure. Still, it is a wonder to me, after having declared their independence, that they have survived so long without the King’s protection. What manner of people will they be? Will Red Indians wait to attack us as we approach shore?
I have spoken to the Master of this vessel, Captain Deerfield, who seems a decent sort, though his accent, which I later learned was of Boston, is unaccountably strange, no nearer to an arrogant English snap than to a sweet Irish sound. He appears to know his business, though I, with but holiday voyages in smaller boats manned by others, would be a poor judge of that. There is a berth available for a novice sailor, however, since good hands who indulge in not many vices, as drinking, gambling, fighting and debauchery, are rare and hard to find. Indeed, among all walks of life, I have seen few men more representative of these vices than the seafaring men I have encountered here in Galway. May the Holy Virgin protect me!
Wednesday, 7 Sept.
I have now shipped aboard this vessel, and have been given a berth in what is called the forecastle, or ”folk-sul,” without having my sex discovered. Thankfully I do not have to share a hammock. There is precious little room here, but then my belongings are few and my person of slight build and stature, so I am not in the way. The smells aboard would not, I am sure, be tolerated in a royal residence, but are really no worse than a stable that has not seen a cleaning in some months.
I am told we will be here re-provisioning and readying the ship for the western seas for some days before setting sail, and have already been assigned my watch for sea. This is to be the four to eight. When I ventured to ask whether that meant the morning or the afternoon four o’clock, I was met with laughter from the rest of the crew, and was told that it was both, sea watches being four hours each with eight hours in between to do the chores of the ship, sleep, mend clothing or attend to other personal duties. But as long as we are tied up ashore, all working hours are from sunup to sunset.
It seems the British have taken no notice yet of this American ship in their waters, but spies are said to be about and one can never be sure. I have made some inquiries aboard and ashore, as discreetly as possible, of the whereabouts of my Johnnie, but no one seems to have heard of him. I am not daunted yet, as I have not yet asked of everyone on board, nor inquired at every public house. Mayhap I shall find some news soon.
Thursday, 8 Sept.
I have made my debut in the rigging. The Bosun, a rather sinister looking man by the name of Noah Sparhawk, took me aloft today, in order to tar the foretop shrouds and ratlines. These last are ropes woven across other lengthwise ropes in what looks to be a long piece of spider webbing, and upon which we climb to the higher parts of the masts. The foremast is the shorter one, closest to the bow or front of the ship, and the foretop is the middle section of this mast. The shrouds go up and down, the ratlines are horizontal, and we coated them with a mixture of tar and tallow, which left my hands brackish brown.
Wendy is the author of
The Witch’s Hand: The Thinking Person’s Sword & Sorcery
published by All Things That Matter Press
Print and Kindle: www.amazon.com
Signed copy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author website: www.wendyjosephwrites.com