“Sailing Away – Chapter One – Dec.12, 2019

This is the follow up novel to “The Adventures of the Smith Family.”

You will recognize some of the characters and there will be letters sent to some of them from abroad.

This story takes place on a voyage from England through the Mediterranean and down the west coast of Africa to the Cape during the American Revolution. It is filled with history and adventure and romance. You will learn a few things along the way and you will be entertained.

This is Chapter One

Chapter One

Sam could see Zachary and India walking back up the stairs to the office as he was rowed out to his ship in a small, hard used skiff. He had packed all that he needed for this voyage in a small, cloth wrapped parcel. It was March the 1st, 1780. It was a cool morning. He looked forward to his new life at sea. He felt sad for what he was leaving behind him but going to sea was all that he had wanted to for the last five years. He hadn’t expected it to take this long to get on a ship, but he had no control over the behavior of Zachary, and Sam’s future had been tied to him.

No one could have ever had guessed that an innocent conversation between Lawrence and Father Magnus would have delivered Sam to London a few years later, and into the protective hands of Father’s sister, India. But that is just what had happened.

Sam’s freedom from London had taken longer to obtain than he had hoped. Sam thought that he would be joining their firm as an assistant to India. He had no idea that he was to become Zachary’s boss and would also have to help India find a wife for her wayward son. Zachary had to be settled down with a proper wife before Sam could leave their employ and go to sea.

Once a potential wife had been found, after too many parties to mention, and a wedding, Sam was a free man. It was hoped that the proper woman would turn Zachary into the kind of man that could run Clark and Cook.

India now wanted more time for other matters. Sam saw the change come over Zachary as his love for his new wife grew, and matured. It didn’t take long for Zachary to become accustomed to the bit and bridle.

The future of Clark and Cook would now be under the watchful eyes of India and Zachary’s new wife. He would be under constant supervision and would slowly become dependable and remain out of trouble, at long last.

The fact that Father Magnus and his sister, India, were estranged had been hurting Father for a few years now. He had reached out to her a few times after he had had to leave London, but she had been unwilling or unable to respond to him.

She felt that her brother, Magnus, had abandoned her. Since Lawrence was like a son to Father Magnus, Father Magnus began to vent to vent to Lawrence, and explained the entire story ti him. In the end, Lawrence knew that the only way to resolve this situation was to have them meet face to face and talk through their disapointments in person.

Lawrence suggested that Father Magnus write a final letter to India, which Father agreed to do. In it, he set the date for them to meet at her home, and made it clear that he would stay until they spoke. Father Magnus left no escape route for India.

When the meeting was held, it was as Lawrence had expected. Their differences were settled after much discussion, soul searching, and crying by both parties. Their relationship was restored again to the delight of all concerned.

Father Magnus soon got to know his nephew Zachary, and rekindle his relationship with his sister, after several visits to London. India knew that she had to forgive her brother for what he had done in the past. She now realized that he had no choice at the time of his supposed crimes, but to leave.

She soon came to Oak Junction on a regular basis, when she was able to. She owned one of the largest import-export firms in London now, and had little spare time for herself. This was how Lawrence and then Sam had become acquainted with India.

Sam was invited to come to London when his schooling was finished to join the firm. India had been very taken with Sam’s personality and intelligence when they had first met. She needed someone like Sam to help train her wayward son in the habits of being a gentleman and a reliable employee.

Her import-export business was a large success now, even without the help of her brother. When her husband died, India wanted her brother, Magnus, to step in and help her. But by then, he was already gone, and no searching in her part could find him.

He had started a new life under a new name to escape the gallows in London. If he had contacted India, he knew that he would be hung for the death of his family. He was not the culprit. But he knew that under the circumstances he would be blamed. He felt that he had no choice but to run for his life and create a new identity, far away from his beloved home in London.

After many years of struggle, Father Magnus had finally placed himself, in a position in society where he would never be accused or suspected of murder. He was now a priest and he had his own church and flock in Oak Junction. It had been a long journey for him, and he hoped that God would continue to protect him. Now, after all these years of service to God, he was sure that God had made all of his new life possible.

So as Sam now floated out to this wondrous ship in front of him, all of these thoughts were flying through his mind. He wondered if he would ever see Ralph again, the driver and butler from India’s home who had become his best friend and mentor in London.

Ralph had been a sailor in the Royal Navy and on merchant ships for years as well. Sam didn’t have the heart to ask him to come on this journey with him. Sam had wanted him to come, but Ralph’s life was now settled and pleasant. He lived ion a beautiful house with India as his boss and had a fine and easy life. Why would he ever want to go to sea again, and suffer the hardships of a sailor, when he had a soft bed waiting for him every night in London?

Ralph had taught Sam all that he knew about life at sea. He had shown him the ropes, the knots, and everything else that he would need to be a success as a sailor.

Ralph had fired cannon in battle and seen men torn apart and smelled the terrible odor of burning flesh and gunpowder. He had tried to pass his knowledge on to Sam, and had done a fine job of it considering that they had not sailed anywhere.

Sam had read everything that India had in the house about navigation, seamanship, and adventures off in foreign ports and countries. He had read “The Adventures of Marco Polo,” and many other books written by adventurers and sailors.

He knew more about the ships that came into Clark and Cook to drop off their cargo and to pick up new shipments than the sailors who sailed in them.

He walked those ships when they were empty, and studied their construction. He had helped to load most of them and knew how to do it correctly so that the ships would sail safely balanced on the sea.

He had helped to build the family home in Themstead with his brother Lawrence, and had learned some building skills himself, but building a great ship was a different matter all together. He could see that as he studied their construction.

He knew that his brother would be sending his vast supplies of timber to London in the near future. Lawrence had talked with India about a joint venture several times over the years since they had become friends. India had all of the connections in London that Lawrence needed, and Lawrence had all the timber, just waiting to be cut and shipped.

Sam had climbed the rigging of most of the ships that sailed into his shipyard and he had made himself very familiar with them. He had forever lost his natural fear of heights that most men posses. He had also watched the shipyards around his office build several ships over the last few years below him on the river.

He hadn’t built a ship yet, but he had seen it done many times through the large windows of his office. he hadn’t sailed on a ship yet, but he had done everything on ship that one can do without going to sea. Most importantly, Sam wanted to be the best sailor that one could be.

As Sam reached the moored ship, he could see the the name on the stern. She was the “Ever Ready.” She hd three masts and was one hundred and thirty feet long at the water line, with a thirty-six-foot beam. She was two-hundred tons of beautiful wood and iron. She carried all of the sails that her designer and God had given her, including top gallants and royals.

“This is a ship a man could learn to sail on, if given half a chance,” Sam thought to himself as he looked almost straight up into her furled white sails, high above him.

Just then, the little skiff that he was in, pulled up to the Ever Ready and bumped her with a thud. The men in the boat were forced forward in the little boat by the inertia of the small skiff hitting the Ever Ready. The ship was as solid as a mountain.

“O.K. boys, haul yourselves out of here, and be quick about it, I’ve got more things than you to bring on board this scow.” Sam tossed his bundle up to a man who had landed on board the ship ahead of him and climbed the long rope ladder that hung down over the port side.

The first mate was standing at the rail as the new men came on board the ship.

“Is any of you a Mister Sam Smith?” The captain’s looking for you if you’re among us.”

“I’m Sam Smith sir, what have I done?”

“Nothing son, but the captain wants to set eyes on you for some reason, so follow me down the companionway to his quarters. Be quick about it, there’s no time to lose.”

Sam followed the thin young man without question.

In just a few short moments, Sam had climbed down the steep, stairs to the captains room through the narrow hallway and waited in front of the captain’s narrow white door to to his quarters.

The first mate, a Mr. Ben Williams, knocked on the captain’s door and announced, Sam.

“Send him in then Williams.”

“Yes Captain Lewis.”

Williams opened the door and Sam entered slowly.

“Sit down then Mr. Smith, we need to talk.”

Sam sat down in the bright room and waited. The captain was a big man. He was tall with wide shoulders from all the years that he had worked as a sailor, Sam presumed. He had a cool look about him. It seemed to Sam that, that the captain might be one who kept his feelings close to his vest and didn’t get ruffled easily.

His skin was still tan form working out of doors, and he had a fine deep voice. “It could be heard from a great distance,” Sam thought. He was immaculate in his dress, and Sam could see that he was a man to be taken seriously. He seemed to be a sober man, and not affected by opium or drink.

Unknown to Sam at this time was the fact, the the captain had a wife, and lived in a home not too far from, or unlike India’s. It had a third level however, where he could sit and see the river and the ships sailing up and down upon it.

This third floor was his hideaway, and it was full of items and secrets that he had brought back from all over the world. Some of these secrets were in small or large boxes placed in cabinets around him. Some of those secrets were locked away in his head and in his heart.

There were many things that he had done in his sailing life that his wife’s tender aspects would not understand, and so they were left unspoken between the two people who lived in this fine, tidy, house. It was not as grand as India’s, but it was well furnished, and Sam would have felt quite at home there.

“I have a letter here from the owner of this ship, who gives you high marks on your interest in learning the sailing life. I have been told to teach you all that I can in regard to this dangerous and lonely life. I will do that if I cannot talk you out of this venture.

It seems that you have some means, and that you are the brother of the renowned if not famous Lawrence Smith.”

“Yes sir, that is all true.”

“Why on God’s earth would you want to go to sea then, son?”

“I have always wanted it sir.”

“Is there anything that I can say or do to, to change your mind?”

“I don’t think so sir.”

“All right then young man, I will put you up in the main mast, staring today, and see what you’re made of. Most of the men on this ship are good sailors and good men. But we have a few who were bound for prison, and ended up here instead. Keep an eye on your belongings and on your back. Make a good friend, if possible, as soon as you can, that will help.

You have a good reputation from what this letter says, so I am you a chance. Don’t disappoint me, I hate disappointment.”

“Yes sir, I will do my best, sir.”

“Go then, and keep your secrets close. When these men find out who you are, it might mean trouble due to your wealth and privilege.”

“I am just a common farmer sir, my brother is the one who is rich and famous. I’m just trying to become a sailor, sir.”

“Get started then, clear out of here and go to work.”

With that said, the captain dismissed him and he left the captain’s office and headed back up to the main deck.

As Sam left the captains quarters, he saw four narrow doors on each side of the companionway. These were the rooms of the of the captain, the Master, the first mate, the purser, the second mates room, and the map room. There were two more rooms for extra passengers. Sam passed all of them in a few steps as he came up on deck again.

“Take your belongings into the forecastle, stow them away, and get back up here. We leave with the tide in a couple of hours,” the first mate said sternly, as Sam reached the main deck again.

Sam went below through the hatch in the main deck and walked, slightly bent over, to the front of the ship where it was dark and crowded. He found a small, dry space for his belongings and where he might be able to sleep. It would not be comfortable, but Sam was used to discomfort. His life in London had only been an interlude between hardships. First his difficult life at Oak Junction, and no, his crowded and uncomfortable life at sea.

Sam was back on the deck in just a minute, when he was told to climb up into the sails with the rest of the men in the main mast. He climbed without hesitation and was soon as far up as was needed to release the topgallant sail.

The first mate was surprised by Sam’s skill and quickness when he climbed the rigging, to say the least. He had no idea of what sam was capable of or where if ever, he had sailed before.The captain had just told him to ‘send the man up into the main mast, and see what he has in him.”

Sam wad at ease in the wind around him and the other men. There was a mat far behind him, and a mast far out in front of him. The foremast was where the older men worked. The sails were smaller there, and the work was a little easier, but there is no easy work on a sailing vessel. Behind him was the mizzenmast. It was covered in four spars and four sails that had been reefed and tied off. All the sails on the ship were set in the same manner.

Sam could see India and Zachary still standing on the landing at the second floor doorway, which led back into the office of Clark and Cook. They were waving to Sam, and he waved back at them, hoping that they might see him, high up, in all of the rigging. Sam could see all of the buildings around him now on the waterfront that he had seen from the ships that he had loaded, unloaded, and climbed upon.

As he stood on the walking ropes, Sam could feel the wind picking up, and swirling all around him, and then stop. It was that time of year when you could be freezing one moment and then quickly be removing your jacket, the next.

He could see the choppy, murky green river under him and the reflection of the sky and all of her clouds broken into a thousand pieces upon it, as it was reflected back to him. He saw the surface of the water moving in all directions at once, and thought that it was the most complicated and most beautiful puzzle on earth.

He had been rowed across the river a few times when he worked at Clark and Cook, but he had never sailed on it. He was in awe of all the beautiful buildings that lined the shore on both sides of him, but he knew that he would not miss the city. He would miss India and Zachary, but most of London was still unknown to him and a mystery.

He had only traveled on a few streets and avenues after all of the time that he had spent here. For the most part, Sam had sat at his desk and done his work as these tall ships in front of him, sailed off to all the different parts of the world. Perhaps that was what made him want to sail way and see the rest of the world that he knew he was missing.

As he turned his back to the stairs where India stood, and he looked out to the front of the ship, he thought that he heard his name being called faintly in the wind. He heard it again as he was looking around and trying to find the source of the seemingly, familiar voice.

Finally, he looked down one row of spars and saw Ralph standing there, looking at him from the foremast.

“What in the world Ralph, why are you here on board?” he shouted.

“You thought India and I would let you leave London on your own? Not a chance Sam, you’re still wet behind the ears.”

“But I thought your days at sea had come to a happy end, Ralph?”

“I will always be a sailor, and will look for any chance to get back to sea Sam, you of all men should know that.

My chest is down in the forecastle as we speak. By the way Sam, you forgot your sword and your foil. They’re packed in my chest.”

“Thank you Ralph, I was just in such a hurry to get away from here, that I must have forgotten them. When India told me about this ship, I didn’t want to waste a second. She helped get me passage on her for the voyage.

MY skills are not up to the rest of these sailors, but I’ll learn quick enough.”

“I know you will Sam, but don’t count yourself short. You have more skills than most new sailors, so you should be fine.

The first mate yelled an order and the boatswain blew his whistle.

“Weigh the anchors men.”

Several men instantly ran to man the capstan and began walking in a slow, deliberate, circle as the anchors were slowly weighed.

“The wind is up, set the sails,” the first mate yelled.

As the sails were released and then tied down to their spars, they filled with the cold spring wind and the ship heaved and then slowly, began to move forward, down the great river.

Sam could hear the water splashing against the bow of the ship as she picked up speed and headed into the middle of the river, and away from the shoreline.

The mud larks were out this morning, walking on the edge of the Thames, looking for anything of value that might have fallen off of the ships that sailed by here daily. They would either sell what ever they found or use those items in their own pitiful lives.

Sam could see The Noose and Stool up the river from his office where he and Zachary had drank a few pints over the years. Those days were now behind the both of them. Zachary was now happily married with no time for that kind of nonsense and Sam was going away for a few months if not longer.

The Prospect of Whitby was even further down the river from the Noose and Stool, and Sam saw it as the ship slowly sailed past it in silence. Zachary had gone there often, looking for the girls of his most recent dreams. Sam could see the dome of India’s church, where he had met so many of her wealthy and influencial friends.

Sam finished tying off his bit of the line, and then looked out into the distance ini the direction that they were now sailing. He saw more ships coming his way than he could fathom.

“It would take a highly skilled crew and master to get through all of these ships and out into the Atlantic Ocean,” he thought.

There were ships, of all different types and sizes coming toward Sam and the Ever Ready. Sam didn’t know it at the time, but Captain Lewis had sailed this ship many times before. He first saw her twenty years before, in her original colors of blue and gold. Now she proudly wore black and yellow as her colors.

The men who had sailed with Captain Lewis knew him to be a hard but fair captain. The crew knew that many captains cared little for the health or the safety of their crews. Captain Lewis was different, like the newest ships that now sailed up and down the mighty Thames.

The captain knew that he get more out of his men when they were well treated than when they they were unhappy due to some real or imagined slight by the captain or the officers.

The officers still had a large supply of muskets and shot if the crew grew unruly, but that had never happened under this captain before, and he didn’t fore see it happening on this voyage.

He knew that men would die on this trip, but it wouldn’t be at his hands. The sailors life is a dangerous one. One false step and you could fall to your death onto the deck below or even into the ocean and drown. Few men on board this ship knew how to swim.

Sam knew all of this as the other men did, and yet they chose tis life, over the the life in the cities or on farms. All of them knew for certain that they wouldn’t fall from the rigging, and that they would live to a ripe old age.

This was the mental game that they had to play with themselves to keep their sanity while they were sailing around the world. Their bravery however, was never questioned by anyone.

As the Ever Ready picked up speed, Sam wondered how she would manage to slip through the crowd of ships that lay before her. Then he saw how she would manage it.

All of the ships coming up river under sail, moved as quickly as they could, out of her path. Those sailing in her direction gave her a wide berth. She was a mighty ship, and it was difficult to change direction quickly when sailing at a slow speed as she was now. But she was a sound ship and built of a good design. When she would reach her optimum sailing speed of of seven or eight knots, she was agile, and easy to manage.

As the Ever Ready picked up speed, Sam could see all of the great buildings that his countrymen had built, passing before him along the banks of the great river from his vantage point in the top of the main mast.

London was a beautiful city, even as many of her inhabitants lived in dire poverty and ill health. There was never enough housing for the men that came to the great city to make their fortune, nor were there enough good paying jobs for them.

Crime in the city was a problem a Sam had seen that day he and Zachary tried to walk to the offices from India’s home. They had decided to take the short walk while India was out of town, and those two men accosted them near the riverside.

If Sam hadn’t had the skills of self-defense that he had learned in Oak Junction and Themstead and his knife at hand to defend the two of them, they would have ended up robbed, injured, or worse. Thankfully, Sam was able to render their foes, unconscious with his quick thinking, his fist and the butt of his knife.

India had made them promise never to walk to the office again when she heard the gossip from the office staff about their adventures, “down near the river.”

Sam, like Ralph, was a humble man with finely honed skills of many different types. Sam could work on a farm, or hunt with the best of them. His skills with a bow, were only surpassed by his now , famous brother, Lawrence.

Sam had fought in “the battle of Themstead,” where many men had died, some, sadly by his own hands, and where many many men had tried to kill him. He now also had the skills of an office manager, and a common sailor in training. He never talked about his past to anyone.

If he hadn’t been the brother of Lawrence Smith, his past would have remained a secret to al who came to know him.

Ralph was Sam’s closest friend in the world, and yet there was still much that Sam didn’t know about Ralph. He knew that he had been married once, but that it hadn’t worked out. He knew that he had sailed the world for years, and that he had fought from the deck of a man o’ war.

Sam knew that there was one woman who had captured Ralph’s heart in a far away port that he had had to leave behind. Sam knew that she was beautiful and that she was black, but Sam didn’t know much else about her or his friend Ralph.

He knew that Ralph was completely trustworthy. India had made that very clear to him , that first night when he arrived in London. “Nothing that is said in this house will ever be repeated out in the world Sam, on that you can be sure. Ralph is a member of this family as sure as you are now. He will keep our secrets safe.”

Sam knew that Ralph had lived a long life on the sea and then moved on to the land. He knew that he had become the butler and the driver for India’s family, and Sam knew that Ralph loved his horses more than most anything else in the world.

Sam could now see Ralph in the rigging on his mast, down below him. He still wasn’t completely sure why Ralph had come on this voyage. Ralph quickly climbed up to the same level as Sam and stood across from him on the foremast. Ralph started to talk to him as he smiled.

“It was India’s wish that I should come with you and protect you if needed,” Ralph said as he climbed up to Sam’s level in the rigging. Sam still wondered why Ralph was on the Ever Ready after his explanation. Sam thought there might be much more to the story than what Ralph was telling him. Only time would answer some of those questions questions that Sam had, and perhaps bring up more.

Sam had little idea where this ship was sailing, and he didn’t care. He only knew that they were headed south to trade their cargo for goods in Spain and with many other countries farther away. Sam was pleased with those prospects. He knew that he would learn new skills and that he would meet men on this ship, some good, and some bad.

There were several men on board the Ever Ready that had been on their way to prison, and who had been placed on the ship instead. Sam would keep his distance from those men until he was clear on what they had done, and if they could be trusted. Those who weren’t interested in following orders on this ship would learn to do their jobs or soon disappear.

These hardened sailors were not going to take any guff from the criminals and lowlifes that had been placed on board.

All of the landmarks that reminded Sam of his new life in London were slowly vanishing behind him, as he sailed further south, down the Thames. He was completely unfamiliar with this area of the river south of “the pool,” where most shipbuilding and docks were, and where his office of Clark and Cook had been for almost one-hundred years. That was the part of London that he had become accustomed to.

As they sailed further down the river, the wind picked up, and the sails had to be slackened. Too much sail in this narrow, busy river could spell disaster. The ship eventually slowed down as the sails were released some and sam could see where the river entered the Atlantic Ocean.

The green Thames and the blue Atlantic mixed at the mouth of the river and the water changed colors as the two bodies mixed together and became one mass of tumbling water.

The surface quickly became rougher, and in a few moments the river was behind them in a mist of salt air and the sails were hauled in once more. The river was soon hidden in the distance behind the large swells that passed under the ship.

The ship started to pick up speed again, and headed southeast with a brisk wind at her port side. She leaned away from the wind a bit and turned toward Spain. The rising and falling of the bow quickened as the ship moved faster across the sea.

A voice yelled down from the main mast at the very top of the gallants.

“There’s a storm off to the southwest, coming this way I think sir.”

The first mate was not happy about what he heard. He had a crew of unknowns at his feet, and had no idea how they would react to this oncoming danger, so he quickly went down to consult with the captain.

“There’s a blow coming sir, what would you have me do?”

“Reef the sails man and drop the anchors, we’ll ride it out here close to shore. No use getting caught to far out at sea.”

“She doesn’t look like much sir.”

“Well, I hope you’re right, but you know what cab happen out her Williams.”

“Yes sir, will batten everything down sir and ride her out then.”

The first mate left the captain and was soon on the main deck again yelling orders to his men.

“Reef the sails men, double quick, all hands on deck. Fasten down everything that you can, and wait for further orders.”

There was much movement in the rigging and on the deck and soon all the sails were reefed and the men up in the spars stood and waited for more orders from the first mate, as the rain began to fall and the wind picked up.

The first mate pointed to a spar on the mizzenmast and yelled at the men near there to tie it tighter, though nothing was amiss. It was just his way of making sure that his men followed his orders to a tee.

“Have the men come down and get below decks,” the first mate yelled to the boatswain.

“Bring up a proper coat for myself and the helmsman,” the first mate yelled at a young deck hand standing near by, as the wind grew stronger. He was quickly sent down below, and soon returned with proper raincoats.

“All right men, get down below to ride out the approaching storm of unknown strength and duration.

Several of these men had not been through storm before, including Sam. Ralph was at his side in the forecastle seated next to his well traveled wooden chest that he had brought with him, as always. That chest had been everywhere with Ralph. In the chest were all of Ralph’s worldly possessions.

Sam was seated on a pile of folded sail cloth. It wasn’t soft, but it was more comfortable than sitting on the wooden planking of the decking. There was another floor below them with cannon, and below that was another deck where all of the crates and goods were stored in tuns and larger barrels.

Sam had overseen the loading of many ships and was satisfied that it had been done correctly on the Ever Ready. He had gone down below to check on the cargo himself, several times, though he was not in charge of that work on this, his first voyage. The ship sat level in the water after all of the cargo had been stored on board, properly.

The barrels, crates and small tuns were all in order down below when they were finished with the loading process. It was a large load of cargo, but nothing a ship of this size couldn’t carry safely.

The cargo consisted of fine china, guns, gunpowder, rope, iron fittings, beer, cheese and all of the food that the men would need for several months. There was bread, wine, cheese, dried meats, rum, dried fish, hard tack, and even some fresh fruit just for the crew.

Also on board were several spare parts, miles of rope, extra sails, wood to be used for many different things, pieces of masts, and the tools needed to repair most everything on board or to make new replacements if things went badly.

As the storm came closer to them, the seas began to increase in height and power. Soon there were waves crashing across the deck and from all sides. The rhythm and movement of the ship had changed from a gentle dipping of the bow, to a constant rolling and pitching in all directions at once. Or so it seemed to many, of the men on board.

Those men that hadn’t been to sea before were soon calling for their mothers for solace, and for God’s forgiveness. The man up in the main mast had been sent below. The mast had been pitching too violently for a man to remain there. Only the helmsman and the first mate were left on deck, as the storm’s power increased.

Soon there were several sick men with their heads stuck deep into any bucket or container that they could find. Many of the men thought that they were doomed as the thunder and lightening crashed down around the ship and sometimes sounded as if it had hit the deck itself.

The flashes of lightning could be seen through the edges of the hatch covers thick glass that lined their sides. The flashes lit up the entire second deck as the light flashed through the small pieces of thick glass. The thunder was as bad as the lightning, and many of the men knew that they were well on their way to meet their maker.

Sam was uncomfortable, but he had faced death before, and he had Ralph next to him for companionship. If he were to die tonight, he surely wouldn’t die alone. There would be hundreds of men on this ship that would that would accompany him to “Davey Jones” Locker,” some better than himself and perhaps less deserving of this. They would all go down together to whatever fate awaited them, if the ship went under.

As the night passed, many of the men on board were changed in ways that they would never have thought possible. Some of those men that were criminals, now wished for that they had gone to the gallows or prison, rather than to face this storm. Others vowed to change their ways, and some surely would, if they survived this voyage.

Some were just content to curse the God that they blamed for putting them in harms way. Still others cried and prayed silently until they knew the ship would break in half and sink to the bottom of the deep ocean.
The night passed slowly and was filled with fear and terror for most of the crew.

In the morning the storm had passed over the Ever Ready and she was still in one piece. There were some spars that had the ropes frayed on them, but for the most part, the ship was in fine shape. Some of the men were not as fortunate. Many had been sick and mentally and physically beaten by the storm. Few had slept through the storm, thinking that they surely were going to die.

It would take a few days for them to become themselves again. Time would heal all of them as best it could. Most of the men were grateful to be alive, and were on their best behavior for several days. But as with children, the men soon reverted to their sinful ways after God and luck had saved them.

Time and time again, this was the thanks that the Lord was given by these creatures of his own creation.

On the next day as Sam and Ralph sat atop the forecastle hatch to eat their lunch, a man came up to them. He was thin, still a boy actually, perhaps sixteen or seventeen years of age. He had long black, wavy hair, and green eyes sunk deep into his white, oval face. He looked as if he had never had enough to eat in his whole life.

“May I sit with you men and eat my lunch?

“Of course young man,” Sam said to him with a sweeping gesture of his hand, which welcomed the fellow to join them.

“I am Charles Dixon from Manchester.”

“Well, you’re a long way from home.”

“Yes I am sirs. I was on my way to prison but ended up here instead.”

“Why were you going to prison young Charles?” Sam asked.

Ralph sat silently and listened.

“I was born with nothing and no one. MY mother died, and eventually I had to come to the city, looking for work, but I could find none for a long spell. I had to do any number of things to survive.

Finally, I was caught picking a gentleman’s pocket, and was being sent down to prison when I was placed here instead. I still don’t know which would have been worse.”

“That’s the first truthful thing you have said,” Ralph added, and then went back to eating his meal of meat and potatoes.

“No sir, it’s all true, I swear to you. I know who you are, and I would not lie to you.”

“Who are we then?” Ralph asked.

“Well, you are Ralph, the protector of Sam here, who is the brother of Lawrence Smith. Every one knows who Lawrence Smith is, of course.”

“Your facts are off target Charles,” Sam answered quickly.

“Ralph is my friend. I need no protection from any man. I have my knife, and have survived the attack of men far stronger than any man on board this ship.

My family had nothing until my brother happened to save the life of Prince George. That one good deed made it possible for us to receive some land from the king, and we became farmers. We have worked for every morsel of food that we have put into our mouths. I have no money, and am just a sailor like you. I am going out into the world to make my own fortune or die trying.

You have as much a chance at success as I do , or the that the next man has.”

“Oh, I don’t think so Sam. I am from the gutter and will die there.”

“Only if you believe that rubbish,” Sam said with scorn.

“My own family history proves you wrong, Charles.”

“You have me all wrong gentlemen, I am not lying to you. I just want to be your friend.”

“How can your friendship benefit us then Charles?” Sam asked.

“I know things and could tell you things that might be helpful on this voyage, things that are being said and planned below decks. Perhaps even things that might even concern the two of you.”

“I think you should change your ways Charles,” Sam said as he scooped up some more food o to his spoon.

“Oh, I’m going to Sam Smith, I’m going to try.”

Ralph looked at Charles with a stern gaze, and spoke.

“I have tried to change my ways several times Charles, but the men that I have killed are still dead, and they still come to visit me each and every night. In the end, I have failed, as you will.”

Charles finished his meager meal as a beaten man and soon left the company of Ralph and Sam. He had heard about Sam’s wealth and thought that he might befriend him on this voyage and benefit from that friendship. He had hoped to get close to the both of them so he could find out if they had anything of value with them.

He had thought that Sam might be weak and an easy victim. He had seen that chest that Ralph had brought on board and dreamed that it was full of gold and silver coins that belonged to Sam. He now knew that these men were not to be trifled with, but that chest still interested him. He couldn’t change completely over night, after all.

When Sam and Ralph finished their meal, they climbed back up into the sails. As soon as Sam and Ralph were headed up into the two masts, Charles headed down below to look at Ralph’s chest. Sam saw Charles go below decks as he climbed his way back up into the sails and his work, but thought nothing of it. Sam couldn’t have been happier. Ralph saw Charles as well, and wondered what he might be up to.

Good morning. It’s Friday in America on the west coast. I’m finished. I hope
this first chapter of “Sailing Away,” gives you some idea of the first book, “The Adventures of the Smith Family and shows you some of the main characters in both books. Does this make you want to read “The Adventures of the Smith Family?” I hope so!!