Excerpt from Stowaway by Karen Hesse, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Stowaway

By Karen Hesse

Stowaway

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The storm, at last, is blown out and Endeavour
floats easy in the sea again. The servant boy, John Charlton, comes past when he can, leaving bits to eat. He also brings with him good cheer with that kind face of his and that beaming smile. I don't know much about him but that he is from London, has a friendly nature, and at fifteen years of age has spent his last three years at sea. He says my red hair reminds him of his mother. He knows his way about, John Charlton does, and he knows the men who brought me aboard. They can be trusted, he said. They're good men.
The men at night sing songs of Spain, and John Charlton says soon we are passing there. He brought me the latitude and longitude readings so I might enter them in my journal and has promised to do so whenever he can. I asked John what I should do about coming out.
"Stay hidden," he said. "If you are discovered now," he said, "Captain may yet put you off on land and see you returned to England."

FRIDAY 2nd [Between Cape Finisterre and Cape Ortegal]
Spain! I cannot see it from my hiding place, but I heard the cry. The Gentlemen brought their casting nets out and fetched in such creatures I can only imagine. Great were their exclamations of wonder. Their excitement makes my hiding so much more difficult to bear. That and the dampness of it all.

SATURDAY 3rd [Off the Coast of Spain]
Saw little of the Gentlemen on deck today. At times they are careless and leave a morsel, spiced meat or cheese. Mr. Parkinson, one of the artists Mr. Banks brought aboard to draw the plants and animals we shall see on this voyage, is particularly forgetful with his food. He is a young man with a woman's hands. I am always interested to hear his observations. He speaks in a clear, light voice unlike any other on board.
I have seen much in my imagination, listening to Mr. Parkinson's reflections.

SUNDAY 4th [Off the Coast of Spain]
As the sun was setting, the Gentlemen spied an endless field of little crabs feeding upon the surface of the sea. They cast their net and brought in a dripping lot of the little scuttlers. On deck the crabs glistened in the last rays of sunlight, clicking and slipping over one another. The Gentlemen exclaimed excitedly, and Mr. Banks could not gather the creatures fast enough.

MONDAY 5th [Off Cape Finisterre]
Mr. Banks received a bird from one of the sailors this morning. It had been tangled in the rigging. The bird died in Mr. Banks's hands. He had one of his servants rush it to Mr. Parkinson to be drawn. I like all animals, but birds are my favourites. The year after Mother died, when I lived with Grandmother, I would climb trees and watch the birds in their nests. I learned to imitate their calls, so that they would come almost to my hand.

Mr. Banks has two greyhound dogs aboard. They sniff at my hiding place in the shelter of the Pinnace. Ordinarily the sight of them would gladden me, but I fear the bad turn they could do me now if they should give me away. But with the pens of livestock around me, no one questions their excitement. Must be the pigs making them act so, Mr. Banks says.
TUESDAY 6th [Off the Coast of Spain]
Spain retreats and the Gentlemen gather species from the sea with a wonderful worship. They exclaim at their finds, calling them sparkling jewels. Could these creatures possibly be as rich as my mind imagines? Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Buchan, the other artist aboard, must be very busy men, to draw all the creatures Mr. Banks discovers. He says no sailor has ever troubled before to make such a record. Now his discoveries are forever recorded in Mr. Parkinson's and Mr. Buchan's pictures. I listen and imagine what everything looks like.

WEDNESDAY 7th [Lat. 40°29' N, Long. 10°11' W]
Captain and crew sailed with a spirit of happy speed. Mr. Banks looked out to sea a good part of the day. His posture suggested he was prepared to walk directly upon the water. I think he would ask Captain please to slow down so he might not miss a single fish swimming in his path. But John Charlton says Captain would not listen to such a request. Endeavour

Copyright © 2000 by Karen Hesse

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