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1 May

Chapter V

Chapter 5 - Business
Eight happy years passed. I cannot precisely recall when Grimstone and O’Neil took over the town. Their coming was insidious, like the cholera a few years past, a slow pestilence that eventually became a plague. It was an open secret that they had had a good war, and I later discovered that their oft repeated philosophy that good business was where you found it was manifest in their company variously supplying the British Army, the Prussians, the Spanish, and the French. But nobody seemed to care. To hell with morality, loyalty, and honesty, does it make any money? That was and is the whole of the law. I swear to God that if the Great Tribulation began in...
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24 Apr

Chapter IV

Chapter 4 - Books
Lakeman had got me wrong. The world which I inhabited was far from glamorous. The literary life is rarely the path to wealth and celebrity of which ambitious young authors eternally dream, despite all our public protestations to the ideals of art and philosophy. We write because we feel we have something to say, at least in the beginning, but beyond this romantic desire to fashion something beautiful and true out of nothing more than ink and paper lays the longing for recognition, preferably critical and popular, for what use is literature if it does not sell? It is fame we crave, do not be fooled, fame and fortune, for the other dream of the writer is...
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17 Apr

Chapter III

Chapter 3 - Mermaids
To the main, I preferred the company of the lower ranks to that of their officers, although in truth I fit no better with the former than the latter. Like the ship, I was an awkward hybrid: too educated to feel comfortable with most working men, yet lacking the breeding to move freely among the so-called upper classes, despite wasting several years in a foolish and ultimately disastrous attempt to do so when I was young. I had more recently come to understand that my place in the world was with my family. I rather liked Lakeman, the condottiere. He was of my kind, although he would likely not have admitted this, being considerably richer than I (though...
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10 Apr

Chapter II

A few passengers, including myself, had embarked at Portsmouth a month earlier, on the first day of January, 1852. This gave us a day or so of relative peace in which to become acclimated to the ship and to each other, before she took on the bulk of her human cargo at Cork. The 12th Foot (the East Suffolks) were already on board, seventy-odd men and their officers, Granger and Fairtlough, as well as the mercenary Lakeman and his contingent, the Lancers Rolt and Sheldon-Bond, and about a hundred Highlanders from the 73rd, 74th, and 91st Regiments, including Major (soon to be Lieutenant-Colonel) Seton and Captain Wright, the senior military officers on the ship. With the beginning of the...
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3 Apr

Chapter I

Shark Alley - Chapter 1
  ‘I can fancy a future Author taking for his story the glorious action off Cape Danger, when, striking only to the Powers above, the Birkenhead went down; and when, with heroic courage and endurance, the men kept to their duty on deck.’ - William Makepeace Thackeray, speech to the anniversary meeting of the Royal Literary Fund Society, reported in The Morning Herald, May 13, 1852. ‘How do you like Forster’s Life of Dickens? I see he only tells half the story.’ - William Harrison Ainsworth, letter to Jack Vincent, January 25, 1872. BOOK ONE THE SHIVERING OF THE TIMBERS We were approaching the islands of Madeira, about midway in our journey, the day we lost a man and a horse. The animal belonged to Sheldon-Bond, and...
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