Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Chantel

Sarafina's story begins


          Sarafina Smith could easily forget Southampton's busyness when she was caged inside the absolute silence of her Aunt Dorothy’s house. But now as she stepped out onto the busy streets, on a package-delivering errand for her aunt, she instantly remembered--and smiled.
          I’m free! she thought. If only for a little while.
          Ever since her parents had died eight years ago, when she was five, Sarafina had lived under the watchful eye of her widowed Aunt Dorothy, who specialized in finding fault in everything Sarafina did. But here, Aunt Dorothy couldn’t look down her long nose at Sarafina, sniffing at her dreams and scoffing at her curiosities. Out here, Sarafina could be alone.
          What was so wrong about being curious about a mysterious ring you’d had your whole life? Sarafina glanced down at her ring as she prepared to cross the street. Strange symbols were engraved in the ring’s silver, and no matter whom she asked, no one seemed to know what the writing meant or where the ring had come from. Sarafina’s father, when he’d been alive, had sometimes joked that Sarafina had been born with the ring on her finger. If Sarafina ever asked Aunt Dorothy about it, she just waved Sarafina away and told her to “stop daydreaming and make yourself useful.”
          A gentle breeze blew strands of Sarafina’s straight, blonde hair in her face, and her blue eyes scanned her surroundings while she walked. Horses pulling carts crowded the streets and people rushing in all directions filled the rest of the space, bumping into each other as they went about their various errands. Paperboys and merchants yelled at the top of their lungs, all trying to shout louder than the others in order to gain the coins of the passerby. Street performers did tricks or played instruments. Young children laughed and chased each other around their parents. All sorts of smells filled the air: horses, chickens, freshly baked bread from the bakery, flowers from flower stands, fish, and salt carried on the wind from the ocean nearby. But nothing pointed Sarafina in the direction of Mr. T.W. Strott’s house, where she was supposed to deliver Aunt Dorothy’s package.
          “Paper! Daily paper! Two pence!” a paperboy yelled. He had short, black hair and hazel-green eyes, and wore a beat-up tricorn hat and ripped, dirty clothes that were way too big for him. He was yelling a little too loudly for his voice to handle, and his poor voice squeaked and cracked as he tried to out-scream his competitors. He caught Sarafina’s eye, smiled, and hollered, “You there! Want a newspaper? Only two-pence a copy!”
          Sarafina smiled and shook her head. “No, thanks!” she called back.
          “You sure?” the boy called, his voice squeaking every so often. “Only two-pence a copy! To know what’s happening--that’s priceless! Your pop would want one, I’m sure!”
          “I’m sure it is priceless, but I don’t have a father, and anyway, I don’t want a newspaper…I have to go somewhere.”
          “Oh, but it doesn’t take much time to buy a paper!”
          “I guess not, but I don’t think I’ll buy one anyway. Thanks for the offer, though.” Sarafina started off down the street again.
          “Wait! Wait!” the boy squeaked. He pushed through some groups of people and ran to Sarafina, who was walking quickly away. “Where are you going?”
          “Why should I tell you?” Sarafina snapped, suddenly annoyed. So much for freedom. She endured enough of this at home.
          “’Cause I can take you there, that’s why--I know all the places in Southampton.”
          “I know where it is, thank you very much.”
          “Do you? Which direction is it from here, then?”
          “It’s…uh…it’s…” Sarafina’s voice faltered as she searched around her for some clue to the whereabouts of the Strott mansion.
          The paperboy laughed. “You don’t know where it is, do you?”
          “I suppose I should pay two-pence and find it in the paper?” Sarafina said sarcastically.
          The boy grinned. “Nah. A penny and I’ll take you there.”
Sarafina sighed. “Fine. I’m looking for Mr. Strott’s house. But I’m not paying you till after you bring me there.”
          “Fair enough. Let’s go.” The paperboy picked up his cart and started walking in the exact direction Sarafina had assumed Mr. Strott’s house wasn’t. Sarafina sighed again and followed.
          After some time, and quite a bit of chattering on the paperboy’s part, they came to Mr. Strott’s huge mansion. “Well, here we are,” said the paperboy. “Mr. T.W. Strott. Gets the paper every day, he does.” He looked up and down the house. “And he’s filthy rich.”
          Sarafina took one look at the Strott mansion and couldn’t help but silently agree.
          “Here’s your money,” she said, handing him a penny from the small bag she wore on a ribbon around her waist. “Thank you for taking me here.”
          “Hey, no problem, no problem at all.” The paperboy smiled and waved as he began walking away. “And if you ever need a newspaper, find me, alright?”
          “I will,” said Sarafina, though she doubted she would. She turned back to the house they had come to and made her way up the long, tree-lined driveway to the great Strott mansion.
          The entryway alone was twice the size of Sarafina's bedroom. Large stone pillars stood on either side of the doorway, making Sarafina feel especially small as she lifted the golden knocker and knocked on the heavy, mahogany door.

          A butler answered. “What do you want?” he snapped when he saw that only a common 13-year-old girl had knocked.
          Sarafina swallowed. “I’ve come to see Mr. Strott.”
          The butler raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “Why?”
          “I’m delivering this package to him. It’s from my Aunt Dorothy.”
          The butler disappeared for a few minutes, then returned and sighed, “You may enter.”
          Even from the outside of the mansion, anyone could see that Mr. Strott was a very rich man, but the inside displayed even more extravagance. Numerous tapestries hung from the walls and valuable vases held large bouquets of flowers. Sarafina was so amazed that she gasped upon entering the house. She must have followed the butler past twenty doors before reaching Mr. Strott’s office.
          “Good afternoon, Miss Smith,” Mr. Strott said when Sarafina entered the room. Mr. Strott wore a white wig and looked to be somewhere in his sixties. “I trust you have met my granddaughter, Rose.” He gestured toward a richly-dressed girl about Sarafina’s age. She stood next to the desk where Mr. Strott was writing, looking very uncomfortable in her stiff, hot clothing.
          “Yes, sir.” Sarafina had only met Rose once before, on another errand for her Aunt Dorothy, but she had heard of her many times from some of the boys she could sometimes hear talking as they passed through the streets outside her window. Many boys dreamed of someday marrying Rose, and although Rose apparently enjoyed the attention, she made sure they knew she didn’t want to actually marry any of them.
          “As you may know,” Mr. Strott continued, “she is pledged to be married to Samuel L. Schulker next year.”
          Rose grimaced as she heard these words. 25-year-old Samuel L. Schulker was stuck-up and mean. He cared for no one but himself, and wasn’t quite as rude to Rose only because of her wealth. And although some people who didn’t know him might have considered Samuel handsome, to Sarafina, Rose, and anyone else who really knew him, he seemed as ugly on the outside as he was on the inside.
          “Congratulations,” said Sarafina, but she really felt sorry for Rose.
          Mr. Strott cleared his throat. “Now, about that package.”
          “Oh, yes. Here it is.” Sarafina handed him the package. “From my Aunt Dorothy.”
          “Ah, yes, yes, indeed.” Mr. Strott said, turning the parcel over and over in his hands to examine it. “Give her my thanks--and this money.” He handed Sarafina a small sack of coins, gave a little smile, and nodded toward the doorway. “Off you go, then.”
          Sarafina was no longer needed. She curtsied and left.

          For some reason, though, Sarafina didn’t go directly home. She felt as if something was pulling her toward the docks. Unable to resist, she started walking that way, even though that course only took her farther from home. She pushed through crowds of people as she made her way to the sea. Rich people, poor people, middle class, merchants…the paperboy waved at her but she ignored him…sailors. She was getting closer. She started running. Oblivious to what was happening around her, her mind being only on the docks, she ran right into the path of a horse-drawn cart coming her way. The horse whinnied and reared, sending apples rolling off the end of the cart. The driver yelled, “Hey, watch where you’re going!” But Sarafina just kept running.
          She ran until she reached the edge of a dock--and abruptly stopped. Suddenly, she was acutely aware of what was happening. The water lapped the dock. The tips of Sarafina’s shoes hung off the edge. People whispered all around her.
          “What’s she doing?”
          “Crazy girl.”
          “She almost fell off! Did you see her swaying?”
          “Now she’s just…standing there…looking down…”
          “Do you think she’s going to jump?”
          “Good heavens! I should hope not!”
          But something inside Sarafina was telling her to jump off the dock.
          No! she thought. That would be crazy! I don’t even know how to swim!
          “Excuse me?” A man tapped her on the shoulder. “Is everything quite alright? Do you need some help or--”
          Splash! Sarafina jumped off the dock. The cold water enveloped her for a few panicked seconds as she sank downward into the sea, lashing helplessly with her arms and legs for some way out. Then--and she didn’t quite know how she did it--she swam upward. She gasped for air and thrashed violently at the water to stay above the surface.
          “Oh-ho! She’s gotten atop the water!” someone exclaimed from the docks. “Somebody, toss her a line!”
          A sailor standing on the dock threw a rope in her direction. Sarafina wanted desperately to take it, but something wouldn’t let her. She turned away from the docks and started swimming in the opposite direction, toward a ship anchored in the bay. Her dress weighed her down heavily, but she swam anyway, although she still had no idea how she did it. Most grown men didn’t know how to swim, much less any women, and even less any 13-year-old girls. But Sarafina kept swimming, and soon she was close enough to see the ship more clearly. The ship bore no name on her side, but her flag said it all: a black flag with an hourglass on it. Two swords were crossed beneath the hourglass and a pistol was aimed at it.
          Sarafina knew what it meant. She had heard enough about pirates to know that this was the flag of Captain Brutus Larkurr--the worst pirate since Blackbeard.
          Captain Larkurr owned only one ship, because he believed that a fleet lead to chaos. So this ship could only be…
          The Bloody Mary.

© 2010 Chantel

Author's Note

The story is set in 1763 in Southampton, England. I have this written on a title page but didn't post that on here...
Does anyone know how much a newspaper actually cost back then? I haven't been able to find that in my research. :/
I've edited and re-written this chapter so many times, but I still never feel like it's good enough...please let me know what you think of it.

My Review

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You have quite a story here. You don't have to worry about what newspapers costed, you got it right with two pence. I really like the way the story is going so far, except there's one part that is really unrealistic. Piracy was a serious crime back then, especially in Europe. If a pirate ship were to show up at the port in Southampton it would be sunk and the crew would be hung in a matter of minutes. Other than that I think you have an awesome story here and you must look into getting it published. Your chapter here is perfect, I think it's absolutely astonishing that this novel is'nt on the shelves already

Posted 13 Years Ago

Ha, interesting first chapter :)
I love pirates, so I can't wait to see where this one goes!!
I've got my skull and cross bones necklace on right now.
Great job.

Posted 14 Years Ago

Best idea is just to research. Google the year etc. This was a well written piece and as I like pirate stories do send more.

Posted 14 Years Ago

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3 Reviews
Added on April 12, 2010
Last Updated on November 28, 2010
Tags: sarafina, pirates




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