Ok, I have started my writing project. It’s a little different from what I originally was thinking but as Elizabeth Gilbert would say, you have to take what you get at the moment. Sometimes an idea slips off to someone else and a new one comes to you. So, the new story is started and I am writing little bits at a time. I am not at all implying that this is a great literary work. Feel free to comment, just be constructive if you criticize.
Mary stood looking out at the water as the ship sailed northward toward Scotland. She thought it was strange that she felt more at home on the ship than she did on land but as the family had moved three times in as many years, perhaps it wasn’t surprising. She had no close friends to leave behind in Ireland and she liked the adventure of a new place. Perhaps this time she would get her new life.
Mary Rodgers was the daughter of Captain John Rodgers. Her father was from a well off family with a proud tradition of serving the crown. Her father was no exception. In his quest for perfection, he went to wherever his commanders asked him to, whenever they asked. His wife, Elizabeth, simply went where her husband went with her six children in tow. Mary was the third child and the only girl, a fact her father never let her forget. He had never wanted a daughter and Mary was a source of irritation. He generally pretended that she didn’t exist when they were at home. Only out at parties did he speak of his daughter and pretend that he was excited to think of her marrying some well off gentleman.
Mary, however, was steadfastly uninterested in marriage. Most girls her age were sent to governesses to learn how to be proper wives. Since her father took no interest in her, he hadn’t thought to send Mary and she was fine with that. She spent her morning doing the chores her mother set her and after dinner she would take her notebook and sketch plants and animals. She then took those drawings to people who knew about plants and took copious notes about them. Her notebook was her greatest source of pride. She hoped that the knowledge in it would be useful to her someday. At fifteen, she had grand dreams of running off with a young man who would appreciate her mind and love her.
Her father’s new command was at Fort William and since Inverlochy was nearby her father decided to move the family there. Several times when she was younger, the family had returned to England when her father went to a new command but this time he decided to take them with him. Mary was vaguely confused by her father’s decision since he often referred to the people that lived there as savages but she was also sure that part of his decision had to do with his eldest two sons. George was soon to be eighteen and Stephen was sixteen and she knew that her father expected both boys to join the army. George would be joining his father at his command when they arrived and had already done training with the troops in Ireland. Stephen could hardly wait to join and the two boys followed their father around excitedly learning everything they could.
The wind changed slightly and Mary could tell they were close to land. Sure enough, when she looked out over the rail and squinted she could make out the coastline. Tom came up beside her and looked out over the railing.
“We’re nearly there now,” he told her.
She nodded. Tom was also fifteen but he was a seaman on the boat, a member of the Royal Navy. He had been aboard a boat since he was eleven, as a servant. When he was old enough, he was allowed to move up in rank. He was never going to have a high rank but he simply wanted to be on the water so he was happy. The moment he saw Mary he was enchanted by her. To the other men on the boat he referred to her as his own personal mermaid and he often had to be reminded by the other men to make sure her father never heard him say that. Mary knew that she didn’t like Tom. She enjoyed listening to his stories but she had no interest in a husband and Tom didn’t make her think any differently.
“How much longer until we get there?” she asked him.
“Couple of hours, probably,”
She smiled at him.
“Then I should probably get below and get the little boys together. I’ll say goodbye before we go,” she told him politely.
She didn’t see the wistful look he gave her as she walked away.
Below deck, the younger boys were excited to hear that they were almost there. They had been confined to the ship overnight and it was making them crazy. Mary helped her mother gather the boys together and got them sitting so they would be out of the way. Her father came in with the older two boys.
“Elizabeth, you’ll have to set up the house on your own. We’re going straight to Fort William. I’ve gotten a young man to help you with the large pieces.”
“Of course, thank you,” she replied to her husband.
He scowled a bit at Jacob, the youngest, who had started to fidget.
“Do I need to whip you boy?” he asked.
“No sir,” replied the little boy quietly.
“I can’t hear you,” barked Captain Rodgers.
“No sir!” he replied more firmly this time.
“Good. Now sit still and do as you’re told.”
Jacob promptly sat up straight and stared straight ahead. All of the boys were aware of what Captain Rodgers meant when he asked if he needed to whip them. He meant exactly that. He intended for all of his boys to do exactly as they were told, when they were told to do it, without question, just as a good soldier would. Mary sat down quietly at the end of the bench and tried not to attract her father’s attention. She sat stiffly with her hands folded in her lap trying to make no expression. Her father looked at her, scowled and turned away.