July 20, 2012

A First Impression

In May I participated in a little meme that Rosamund Gregory of Shoes of Paper, Stockings of Buttermilk put together: Character Letters. My character for that round was Tip, writing a letter from the Mediterranean to his home in Pennsylvania.  The subject of this letter is still Tip, in a way, but the writer is Josiah Darkwood; he gets sadly little press around here, and I thought I should remedy that.

Note: Rosamund does not appear to have a July edition of Character Letters up, but as long as you link back to her, I'm sure she wouldn't mind participants.  Who doesn't like participants?

On to Darkwood.  Writing and reading are his two favorite pastimes, and as he does them  frequently, he is quite competent at both.  His penmanship is exceptional: bold, smooth, and flowing, as his thoughts come so quickly that he must keep his quill moving to stay a-pace.  He never draws on the edges of his letters, and his writing, unlike Tip's, is surprisingly un-blotted.

23 June, 1803
The Seagull's Nest, Boston

My dear Amy,

I wrote to you just yesterday, but while I realize that writing again so soon is little short of pitiful, I hope you will pardon me.  Is it so terrible, darling, that I want to talk with you as much as possible before we sail?  It may be a year before I see you again, and there is no knowing when I will hear from you next.  Write often, I beg, if it is not too much a burden for you.

Tomorrow Bent and I will have been here at the Seagull’s Nest three weeks.  There is but little progress on the Argus, and I don’t expect we will sail before next month is up.  I have not yet seen Lt. Decatur, although I hear he is in town, and until today, Bent and I alone of the brig’s officers had arrived in Boston.  I confess, I find it better that way; I am not, as you so well know, cut out for the communal lifestyle of the sea.

But I fear my reprieve has ended: we have had an addition to our number, a new midshipman on his first voyage—out of Pennsylvania, I think he is.  His name is Brighton, Tip Brighton, though I hope that is not his Christian name; Bent introduced him as such, however, and I smiled a little at the sound of it.  I hoped then that he did not notice; I rather hope now that he did.  At any rate, I will try to sketch an image of him for you (at the time he joined us I was more interested in my book, so my depiction may be somewhat lacking).  He is a little older than Bent, a fair few years younger than I: perhaps sixteen, or eighteen.  He struck me as being all limbs and sheer lankiness, rather like a colt that has yet to get all its legs beneath it.  His expression when Bent first introduced us was almost sullen, not quite sour, but perhaps if that were otherwise, he would not be exactly unpleasant.  You will forgive me, but my opinion of him at this particular moment is somewhat curdled.

To say where and when it started is not difficult, but how—of that, I still find myself uncertain.  It was all a flash, really.  If Brighton had not been there—but it is no good to say that, for he was, and perhaps it was just as well in the longer run of things.  But I am unclear.  I promise I shall do better.

You remember, my dear, what I have told you of Bent; and you know, too, how rash he can be.  This evening was worse than usual.  Mr. Lattimore, who runs the inn with a heavy hand, pushed Bent for his pay; he has been pushing, but until now it has been relatively subtle and I had thought him content to let Bent pay in installments, as he usually does.  It is certainly the best he can offer, and far more, I think, than Mr. L. deserves.  But it seems Lattimore thinks otherwise, and tonight he pushed too far.  (I should very much have liked, Amy dear, to put my own fist in the man’s ugly face…!)  But I fear Bent pulled a pistol on him instead.

I know Bent, and I know he meant nothing by it; he threw away his fire in a moment.  But it was a stupid, wrong, bull-headed thing for him to do!  I admit that.  And yet I cannot see, at this moment, that it was any less stupid, wrong, and bull-headed for Brighton to step up (as though he were no stranger at all) and start a fist-fight with Bent.  Of course as soon as he did the whole inn was in an uproar, and there was no chance to separate the two and smash their heads together as I would have liked.  So you see, Amy, why my opinion of Brighton is curdled.

This has been our first evening together.  What will it be like when we sail?  Perhaps, however, I am too hasty and Brighton will yet redeem himself.  I have already said that he is but a young, awkward fellow; I would hazard a guess that his upbringing has been none too good.  Now that I have vented my emotions I will try to be more lenient.

—But I pray God to give me patience, for I fail to see how I will ever manage to keep Brighton and Bent off each other’s throats after this!  It will, I think, be a very long trip indeed.

Yours ever,



  1. Op, here's the link up for July: http://merelyamaiden.blogspot.com/2012/07/character-letters-of-july.html?m=1

    Thanks so much for participating!!!

  2. Oh, wow, this was fantastic! And though I've said it before, I must say it again: I cannot wait to read White Sail's! :D

  3. Rosamund - Oh, thank you! I looked, but apparently I missed it.

    Emily - Aw, I'm glad you like it! Darkwood is always fun to write; I enjoyed scribbling out this letter for him. He's really a sweetheart, if a little taciturn at (most) times.

  4. Oh my goodness, character letters? What a great idea! I must try this. :)

    And I really want to read White Sails. You have intrigued me, my friend.

  5. Abigail, I really enjoyed reading this! And I agree with Bree Holloway - character letters is such a great idea. :-) White Sails sounds wonderful! By the way, how's the editing for it coming along? Editing definitely is not as fun as writing...at least, for some... :-)

    A Fellow writer,


  6. This was so enjoyable to read, Abigail; I have taken a liking to Darkwood already, though you have yet to reveal to us if he will take a permanent liking or disliking to Tip ^_^.

    I so want to read White Sails Shaking! (oh, did I say this before?! Never mind). One of these days it would be fun to do a character letter, but I just have to find the time, once I am really done with all the edits to A Love That Never Fails... (gritting my teeth over the word "edit" right now!!) On this cheery note, how goes the editing for White Sails at this time?

  7. Oh, Jo - you are the sort of person I would want as an older brother. But don't be too hard on Tip; he's really brilliant once you get to know him. And a fight between him and Bent should be, if anything, lively!

  8. "I like watching the game. As with other situations, the key seems to be giving Jayne a heavy stick and standing back..."

  9. Bree - I think character letters is a fantastic idea; kudos to Rosamund for coming up with it! I'm glad you got a chance to participate yourself. It's so much fun.

    Patience - The edits come along quite well, actually - thanks for asking! In the print out, I'm on chapter 27 out of 36, so fairly near the end. For the most part I'm enjoying myself, which is a nice change from the usual editing process.

    Joy - I'm glad you like Darkwood; he's a dear, and one of my favorite characters. Fortunately his good opinion, once lost, is not necessarily lost forever. Do let me know how the edits on A Love that Never Fails are going. Did you get some helpful feedback from the workshop?

    Mirriam - You make me smile. And goodness, yes: lively is an accurate, if somewhat understated, word for it. Charlie goes all beserker and Tip smashes everything like a bull in a china shop. I think Mr. Lattimore thoroughly regretted his part in the whole thing. It probably cost him more than he got out of it.

    Jenny - I chortle. 'Nough said.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
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Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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