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DEAR FRIENDS: LETTERS FROM ABROAD


‘The day has been a strange one’ thought Mary as she walked up the steep gangplank of the ship; her long skirt making it difficult to climb.  Reaching the half way point she stopped and turned to face the dockside.  She allowed her eyes to slowly search until they fell upon the carriage she had just alighted from.  She was glad to see it still waiting; raising her hand she gently waved.  Suddenly a small gloved hand appeared from within the carriage and began to slowly wave back.  No face appeared, not that it was necessary, for Mary knew who was waving to her.  Watching for a few seconds she raised her hand once more before dropping her arm, then turning she continued up the gangplank to finish boarding the ship.

The journey Mary was about to undertake would be a long and arduous one but hopefully it would lead her to a new and exciting life. And yet she was filled with trepidation at what the future held. After all she had just said goodbye to the only people she really knew in the whole world and it filled her with such sadness. As she thought about her predicament she knew she was pleased that Lizzie had come to the docks with her, even though her friend could stay only a short while. ‘We have spent so little time together but it has helped settle my mind’ she thought.

As Mary waited to meet the Captain she looked around the vessel.  The ship appeared quite large; being approximately 200 feet in length.  Having been built to carry goods it had room for 6 passengers as well as the Captain and crew, a contingent of some 25 men and boys. The ship was a carrier for the collecting and delivering of an assortment of goods but it also acted as a passenger liner and postal carrier, sailing between the Homeland and the smaller British Colonies in the Americas.  In all the ship would remain at sea for about fifteen weeks before returning and docking once more in its home port.

Captain Morrison proved to be a welcoming soul, personally greeting each passenger boarding the ship. Giving him her name, Mary found herself being warmly welcomed onboard.  The Captain introduced her to a young boy called Adam who would be her attendant during the journey.  He immediately showed her to the small cabin which would be hers throughout the sea voyage.

Entering the cabin Mary thought, ‘What a clean little room it is. I think I shall be quite comfortable.’

Looking around she was pleased to note that her luggage had already been brought on-board but decided to leave her unpacking until after the ship had sailed knowing it would occupy both her time and thoughts.  As she examined the cabin she began to wonder where she would stow what little she had for space appeared limited.  Fortunately she was glad to note a small chest of drawers which would suffice her needs.

Happy with her quarters Mary returned to the upper deck, once more searching out the carriage to wave one last time to its occupant.  As she watched the small gloved hand reappeared at the window; waving gently before finally withdrawing inwards forever. At that moment the driver took up the reins and Mary watched with sadness as the carriage left the docks. Once it had disappeared from view she turned and wiped a small tear from the corner of her eye; leaving the ship’s side she returned to her cabin.

Once back in her room Mary sat at the small table and from her case took out a small book covered in lavender silk. It was a journal, a gift from her dear friend Lizzie who had placed in her hands as Mary left the carriage.

Surprised she had thanked Lizzie warmly telling her, “It is so beautiful Lizzie dear and so perfect to keep a record of my adventures in. Whenever I look at it I will think of you. Oh how I shall miss you dear one.”


Copyright: Ann Brady 2012