The Sailor’s Diary
As I left home this morning I felt so proud to have become the new cabin boy of the White Lady. My mother was there to see me off, so was my brother.
It was this morning that my mother gave me this diary and told me to write in it as often as possible, though I imagine that the life of a cabin boy will not offer many opportunities to do so, so my entries will not be consistent. I will find out tomorrow what my job entails.
I was so excited when the ship raised anchor. It is my first time on a ship of this size (I am used to the small fishing boats we use at home) and as we pulled out of the harbour I just knew I was going to have a wonderful time. I am about to settle down in my hammock for the first night of my first voyage.
I woke to the gentle rocking of the boat and the bright morning sunshine forcing its way through my tiny grimy porthole.
I jumped up eager to start my first day of work. It turned out to be a long day of errands and hard tack, but I enjoyed it. The rocking of the waves are lulling me to sleep and so I must listen.
I have not written for a while because I have been so tired at night. I really have no time to write. But I feel I must write today for I have discovered how unpleasant sea sickness is.
This morning I woke to a rough sea, not the sea I was used to, but sea that has been whipped up by the wind, sea that crashed against the side of the ship, sea that tossed the ship from side to side and wind that whistled through the many masts and drove us south.
We have been travailing in the storm since then. Every day the wind pushing us further south. (There has been a lot of work for me and I have not had much time to write).
We have reached a sea of mist and snow, and ice as high as the masts floated by as green as emerald. Ice was everywhere and, when it is quie,t I can here it crack and growl and roar and howl. The ice scares me more than the storm did. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. And the cold, I have never felt so cold. I now huddle under my blankets praying that when I wake up the ice will be a dream and I will see the sun.
Today we saw an albatross, the only living thing we have seen since we came to this cold land of ice. We fed him and he stayed with us all the time. He is probably there now. I hope he is. He has given us all hope, hope that we can escape from the ice.
A miracle has happened. Today the albatross flew round the ship and with a clap like thunder, the ice split. The helmsman steered us through. A good south wind has pushed us along and the albatross is still following us.
I was up in the crows’ nest on lookout when I saw something so terrible that all on the ship say we shall be cursed. One mariner came up from below deck and took his cross bow. The albatross flew round and round. The mariner raised his cross bow and aimed it at the albatross. I screamed at him to stop but he did not hear me or, if he did, he took no notice. There was nothing I could do. He pulled the trigger and the albatross fell down into the black night’s sea and with him went all our hopes.
By Violet Elworthy