Wendy Jospeh’s sublime entry into our contest Once Upon a Lime

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,

called Bobbie


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


At Sea

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.


At Sea

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.”


At Sea

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.


At Sea

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.


At Sea

6 Oct.

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.


3 thoughts on “Wendy Jospeh’s sublime entry into our contest Once Upon a Lime

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    Aye, lads and lasses, we have before us Chapter Two of “The Diary of Bobbie MacBride” and a full winded, set of sails, it is. I sensed a deeper human interaction in this set of date entries comprising Ms. Joseph’s finalist entry. My heart embraces the sweet, innocence and goodness of Davy along with the gentle transition of Bobbie’s outing as female.

    The lyrical quality which I had not seen or overlooked in Wendy’s prologue and chapter one is very present within the “6 Oct” last date page. Excellent writing, knowledge of your subject, differentiation of characters and historical time are found within this novel in progress.

    In the semi-finals I placed this novel second only to the one submitted by Robert F. Marazas. At present I believe there is no reason to change my voting order, but I will say Wendy that the quality of your chapter two lessened the gap for me between first and second. With three more finalists to go this is a sea worthy competition so batten down the hatches and trim the sails. The waves of broth are foaming as we ride out a most windy finals.

    Be heartened Wendy and fellow finalists that I am not the judge nor envy their eventual decision. It is an honor to be aboard the journey with the likes of such excellent writers to the shores of the new world named Decision-landia, Mast-a-chusetts.

  2. Michael Stang says:

    Yes indeed, chpt-2 takes on a lyrical that Parisianne was quick to find: a friendly face in Davy, a quiet confidence in Bobbie after proving herself, and the noise of the ship slipping into the backness of things where one could think for a change. As I have stated, I do love my Galway, and yearn to run the cliffs of Sky Road once more before I die (by that time I’m counting on a jet powered wheelchair). Your story gives heart to memories kept close to that which I hold dear, and a hope to the writing art of the future.

    Best-best of luck with the contest, Wendy.

    Carry on Sailor, carry on.

  3. Laura Girardeau says:

    I love the diary format…With the modern day interest in confessionals, this form can be more interesting to read. We get into the private thoughts of the main character as well as their daily lives. It is a challenge to write about others than ourselves, and even more to write about other times and settings. You seem to have mastered this challenge. I especially like your use of language…there is some alliteration that is slipped in almost effortlessly…maybe unconsciously, and it makes the writing more lyrical.

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