There were six boats out of Southampton sailing together when the storm clouds began to gather. Five turned for home.  Only the Persephone chanced the gale, running hard in front of it, hoping it would blow itself out. Though it nearly knocked us down we made it through and onward to Madrid with patched sails and damaged rigging.

There we unloaded. With the holds empty we saw how the waves had weakened the planks as the bow crashed through. We’d be a fortnight making repairs. More days away from Elizabeth and little Henrietta.

You can imagine my despair when we at last returned home—my room taken, my lovely girls nowhere to be found. Our ship, it had been said, had gone down in the tempest and all of us had perished. My sweetheart, in false mourning, had fled.

I fell into a desperate melancholy, hoping only that some day she’d hear of the redemption of the Persephone and come in search of me.

I counted off each month without them by carving another little boat. Now I have a whole flotilla, but still no little one with whom to play.

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