"I'm running away, Imperia-lass." Nick called her that in the way Father used to before he'd gone missing at sea. It made the coal-glimmer of courage inside Nick flare to say it, so he spoke again: "Imperia-lass, I'm running away."......Thus starts the newest of my stories and one that I think will stick to me and I to it. I have told you before that I can write in many many styles, but the best and bonniest and most natural of them all tastes of Edith Nesbit and Louisa May Alcott. It's the style that runs in my blood. It is my voice. My voice is best suited to children's fiction and thus I feel lost as a writer without some story for the young ones kerbobbling about it. Ever since finishing my Gypsy Song I've been toying with "grown-up" stories and feeling out of it. But as soon as I fastened on this plot everything felt right again. :D
They were silent for a moment more, then Imperia released his hand and sat up. "And will I stay here?"
"Do you mind so very much, Peria?"
"Not so very much, Nick. Not if you promise to come home to me by and by."
I don't have a name for this tale yet, (The working title just so we know of what I speak is Scuppernong Days) but I will introduce you to the characters and a bit of the plot.
First off we have Nicodemus and Imperia Murdoch: Ten years and eight years old respectively. Then comes The Blackbird Woman--a nasty, wicked old woman who has the keeping of the children since their parents died. The other character I have so far (yes--she's a character) is the ship: Scuppernong. She is a 3-masted merchant ship boasting 12 guns and 12 sailors (besides the captain, ship's cook, and cabin-boy.) with a burden-rating of 240 tons.
Imperia and Nick are the children of a sailor and his wife, living in New England at some point in the mid 1700's before the war with England. (haven't fastened on an exact date) When their mother dies and their father is lost at sea they are scrapped to The Blackbird Woman's home where they are put to hard labor and cruel treatment. Nick decides to run off to sea to make their fortune so he may come home and rescue Imperia, and so he sets out to do. But little does Nick realize the long, hard road it'll be to getting home, let alone making a fortune. Still, with the image of little Imperia trapped in the sooty cottage with the Blackbird Woman nothing--not forty Spanish galleons, not pirates, not fever, not hurricanes--will keep Nick from fulfilling that dream.
Imperia snuggled close to him one last time before the blinding light of a June morning blazed through the darkness.
The Blackbird Woman's face was painted with shadows, but her voice was clarion-clear and cracked as parched wheat kernels. "The cockroaches' company is too decent for you. Come hither and fetch me the water or there'll be the devil to pay for it."
Nick jumped to his feet and pulled Imperia up beside him. The bright light whitened her peaked face until she appeared less like her seven years than ever. He patted her shoulder lightly, careful not to touch where the bruises showed through her torn sleeve, and followed the Blackbird Woman into the upper-world.