Emma

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

Sailing became more monotonous and relentless as they moved along into the Atlantic Ocean and started to feel the true nature of Poseidon. The ship Ocean was not small, but it wouldn’t have mattered what size the ship was, you would feel the waves of the Atlantic rolling. While it felt close to the end of the world to the land loving passengers when the wind cracked and the rain came pouring down, the sailors laughed at the mildness of the crossing and the overreaction of the passengers. There were minor reprieves but felt few and far between.

One morning after it felt like they had been sailing for most of their adult lives, there was some momentary reprieve in the relentlessness of the wind and the swell of the waves. It was still obvious they were out on the open ocean, but it was calm enough to have a conversation that didn’t end in seeing ones last meal.

The passengers counted off and were sad to find many had perished almost in secret. There was so much stench it was hard to tell right away who had passed. Now in the lull they were put to rest in the tradition of seaman – dumped overboard.

I’m one such sequence of sea burials, Jose found himself standing next to the woman Emma, who had so strongly argued with Thomas Clinch together with her companion, Lily. Emma was alone now. Jose nodded to her a solemn nod, inviting conversation if she wanted it.

Emma lowered her head to consider her friend’s fate and what might come of her. She fidgeted with her fingers at the end of her limp arms. She had acquainted herself with Lily on the hope filled journey over on the kennersley castle so many months ago that it felt like a lifetime. They weren’t close friends so to speak but had a friendship forged by the utter hardship and suffering that came in Poyais. Lily had lost everything in Poyais, so, Emma thought, perhaps this was a joyous occasion if one really inspected it.

What did Lily have to live for in London after all? She was from Scotland and her family, her immediate family at least, we’re all dead. There was still an untold amount of suffering to endure on the journey back and more suffering to endure on arrival. This death was a great release, an end to a painful time rather than something cut short. It was a relieving thought, all of this, for Emma, but it didn’t really alter her mood much. The sorrow simply shifted to her own situation. She wondered whether she needed a release of her own.

Then she met eyes with Jose. He certainly wasn’t a reason to live. One can’t know that at a glance. Still, maybe there was something interesting in it to stave off the inevitable.

For McGregor

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

Noemi surfaced above decks as needed to get fresh air and relief from the heat below decks as necessary, but she still had very little interest in communicating with anyone abroad the Ocean, including Jose. Nonetheless, Jose stayed by her side. After all, it was his fault to a certain extent that they were where they were.

The days continued to be relatively droll, uneventful affairs of monotonous forward bouncing motion. They had no real sense of direction, so only assumed they were heading towards London. So far there had been no bad weather or incident, just plain sailing. Neither Noemi nor Jose thought it was quite plain sailing, but it was their land locked souls that caused that particular course of thought.

Jose grew restless after a couple of weeks. They had stopped at a Caribbean island for a short time to resupply, but there wasn’t precisely time to jump off and explore. It had been different to Belize Town, but it was another port in the same part of the world. It was not so different as to intrigue Jose too much. It didn’t even cross Noemi’s mind as something interesting. What it did push Jose to do was listen in on some of the conversations the other passengers were having and see if he could get involved somehow.

One day after they left the Caribbean island, Noemi and Jose were catching some air above decks on a particularly pleasant day, when they heard two women speaking about the tragedy that befell them in Poyais.

“Lily, dear, I know it’s so awful to think of, but I curse my dearly departed husband for dragging me halfway around the world like this only to be dragged back when the dream of a new life turned to ash before our eyes.”

“Don’t be cursing him alone my dear Emma. He’s not the main person to blame.”

“Who then? He dragged me along with him!”

“That Gregor McGregor, that’s who. He swindled all of us out of our hard earned savings and sold us a patent lie.”

“He was that charming gentleman was he not, who spoke to us in the town hall and saw our boat off?”

“Exactly, that is the man you should direct your anger at. He did knowingly and fully swindle us my dear.”

A thin, middle aged man of distinctly below average build and character was within earshot of Emma and Lily, as was Jose. Most people were, but most only focussed on their own thoughts as Noemi did. He had been shaking his head at the conversation for some time when he finally interjected, “You can’t fault the honourable Sir Gregor McGregor ladies!”

Emma looked at Lily for a rebuttal which duly cane, “is that so? Well, surely he is at fault. It’s not as though he had never been to this part of the world! He spent considerable time there. How can he not have known it was an awful swamp of a place?”

“He was simply a figurehead, a man spreading hope and happiness! It was that Colonel Hall and Sir McGregor’s other agents whose was at fault. They mislead him and us!”

Emma looked dumbfounded at the man, “what’s your name?”

“Thomas Clink, at your service.”

“Well, explain to me, Mr Clink, how it is that Colonel Hall is responsible? From my view, he did all he could to help us survive the misery we were dumped into.”

“But his agents my dear woman – they stood to profit most. The bankers who sold us those worthless bonds and helped in part, but not to their detriment on the whole, to fund so many an expedition over to the ill fated Poyais.”

Exasperated Emma now joined the fray, “you didn’t even answer her question! You blame Colonel Hall yet all he did was try to help us.”

“Lies! He was a half witted leader working on behalf of the trading companies down there. They didn’t want a Poyais that flourished as it would have ruined their profits from trade in the area.”

“So now we move on to the truly fanciful,” Emma said, no longer as shy as she seemed at first.

“You women, what would you know. You call an honourable man a swindler. Awful. You wretches should be ashamed of yourselves. Are your husbands not hear to teach you proper?”

“My husband died because of what that monster McGregor put us through! Now I have no choice but to take my own counsel,” screeched Lily, ending the conversation.

Thomas Clink would surely bring it up again on this long voyage as it was clear he had supporters amongst the Poyais sufferers. This who had solemnly nodded along to his every word.

Jose, watching and listening to all this wondered most what it was that had driven the woman called Emma to speak up. He also pondered what had caused her suffering and shyness. Was it a lost husband as well?