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

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by Karen Hesse

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  • First Published:
    Aug 2000, 302 pages
    Jun 2002, 320 pages

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goes with the wind.

I asked Francis Haite as he coiled rigging nearby if I might come out soon. He swung his old head no.
I shall rot here. It smells as if I've already begun.

THURSDAY 8th [Off the Coast of Spain]
John Ramsay says, "We are pulling away from Cape Saint Vincent, lad, the last of Europe. And soon you shall come out."
It's difficult deciding what to do first. A wash -- what with the fleas and a coat of saltwater on my skin, I itch like mad -- or dinner. I think it shall be dinner.

FRIDAY 9th [Off the Coast, North Atlantic]
We are fairly flying over the sea.

SATURDAY 10th [Off the Coast, North Atlantic]
In the night I dreamed of the Butcher and woke with a start. My back burned, remembering the bite of his whip. Silently, I slipped out of the Pinnace and crept over to Goat. She nodded, looked me over with a single golden eye, and leaned her weight comfortingly against me.

SUNDAY 11th [Lat. 34°1' N, Long. 14°29' W]
John Charlton says, "Wait until we leave Madeira, Nick. Only that much longer."
I don't wish a quick end to our voyage. In fact, I'd like to go on a very long time. The men assure me we shall, as they did that first day I approached them in Deptford Yard. But how much longer can I last in hiding?

MONDAY 12th TO TUESDAY 13th [Isle of Madeira]
I've wondered how John Charlton knew so much about Captain. Well, it seems John is the Captain's own underservant and has sailed with him before. The bits he brings me to eat come from the Captain's own table.
John Charlton checked on me as he tended the livestock pens. "We're heading from here to Brasil, Nick. Then round Cape Horn to King George's Land. We've orders from the Lord High Admiral himself. We're to observe the Planet Venus whilst we're there. It's very important, this observation, Nick. Captain says it will tell us how far the Earth is from the Sun and help all men who go to sea ever after."
I only wanted a long voyage. I did not know I had stowed away on such an important one.

WEDNESDAY 14th [Isle of Madeira]
A terrible accident today. Captain moved Endeavour
to a new berth this morning. The anchor did not hold fast on the first attempt and required to be set again. It was brought up and hove out, but this time Mr. Weir, the Quartermaster, found his leg entangled in the anchor rope. In a heartbeat Mr. Weir was over the side along with the anchor. It was a desperate work to bring him back up. The men hove up the line with the greatest urgency. But despite their efforts they were too late. Mr. Weir was drowned.
I want only to sleep, but when I close my eyes, I see the Butcher at work on Mr. Weir.

Copyright © 2000 by Karen Hesse

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