The key to their futures lies in the hands of John's father. But as Henry Hudson's obsession to find the Northwest Passage to Asia grows, so does the unrest of those around him both at sea and at home. Letters, diary entries, and personal narratives spill mutinous and surprising secrets, while revealing a struggle of hope, heartbreak, and survival.
Through the use of four alternating viewpoints, Kathleen Benner Duble brings historical and fictional personalities to life, showing the widespread waves of one real-life and unpredictable voyage.
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|Publisher:||Margaret K. McElderry Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Lexile:||820L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||10 - 14 Years|
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By Kathleen Benner Duble Margaret K. McElderry Copyright © 2008 Kathleen Benner Duble
All right reserved.
At last, we are off! Lord, it is good to have the feel of a ship beneath my feet again. It has been too long!
I have climbed the mast, swinging myself into the air. Twenty feet below, things wheeled and rolled beneath me. I felt my stomach heave. What a glorious feeling!
Father yelled for me to come down before I killed myself. But as usual, I have ignored him. I love these heights. I love the feeling of the boat, rolling side to side with the wind. I love the feeling that I may fall to my death. For how can one ever really enjoy life if you are not always living constantly at its edge? That's the place I most want to be.
Already I am thinking on what we may see this trip. How my heart goes out to all those poor boys left behind in London: farmers who must rise each day to milk the same infernal beast, butchers who spend their days bloody with dead carcasses, blacksmiths who must pound over and over the same shape into their iron. Other than being a prince, there is nothing I would rather be than an explorer. It is a grand life. One never knows what to expect -- white bears with huge fangs, fish as big as my own vessel, savages that cannot speak my tongue. These are the wonders I have seen on my last voyages, and God willing, there will be more thistime around.
Before we left today, I was forced to attend church with the rest of the crew and their families at St. Ethelburga's. (Father feels God should be on our side before we leave the harbor, but I would say the crew below me is more godless than God-fearing.) My mother sat near me, expecting as always for me to provide a good long snore in the midst of that blasted priest's long-winded prayers. Truly, the man must take lessons on how to bore a person to death. But today, I did not sink into a stupor. No, today, I spent the hour recalling each and every minute of last night.
This is the first time I can ever remember that I have actually been a little sad on leaving London. I know it is all due to Isabella. I have wooed many a girl before, but never one quite like her. Mostly, I find girls mere distractions, but there is something wonderfully wild about Isabella. And so today, I am praying that she will be waiting for me at the end of this voyage. Who could have ever guessed that I may be longing more for the kiss of a girl than the good company of my mates after those many long months at sea?
Lord, I hope it is a cheerful crew this time around, for a serious lot can make a voyage dreadful dull. Already I have been aboard ship, making mischief. I have hidden a cask or two of ale from the cook. He will roar when he thinks we are short, and give it good to Henry King, who is responsible for loading provisions. Oh, how it will delight me to watch them argue -- with Henry insisting he brought the required number of casks aboard and Cook insisting that he did not. I hope the others will join in the fun when I let them in on the secret.
Below me, I can see Nicholas Syms trying to go about his work. His face seems a bit green -- not used to the seas, from the looks of it. I wonder who he truly is. I have sailed with the crafty Nicholas before, and the man below me is not he. It will be good sport spending this journey on a mission of discovery. His story must be interesting to have to pretend to be another. Of course, Father will never notice. He hardly pays the crew any mind, so intent is he on the voyage itself.
Aha, I can see the spires of Westminster Abbey far in the distance. The shore is rolling away from us quickly, and the smell of salt is strong in the air. The seagulls circle our boat, sending out their insistent cries. The wind is in my face. And I am satisfied by my kiss from Isabella last night. A drink of ale tonight, a good night's sleep in my hammock rocked by the waves, and the look on impostor Nicholas's face when he finds I have sewn all his shirtsleeves and necks together. Lord, what more could a seventeen-year-old boy like me want?
Copyright © 2008 by Kathleen Benner Duble
April 27, 1610
Yer probably wondering right about now where I might have gotten off to. I know ye've been used to me disappearing a day or two, but nothing like I've been gone this time out.
Well, Mama, don't faint. I'm on a boat to find Asia! But Mama, if I'd known what "going to sea" would mean, I'd never have gone.
Now ye know I ain't what ye'd call religious or anything, but that first night on this here boat, I actually prayed -- and mighty hard, too -- that we'd have to turn back for London.
I prayed for some problem 'cause Mama, this boat don't do nothing but roll and roll and roll. Me stomach ached, and I retched something fierce all those first few days, even though there was little left to cough up after the first hours of heaving.
As it is, I am fixing on beating cousin Nicholas to a pulp on me return! Nicholas hadn't mentioned the sickness, only the feeling of freedom and adventure, when he convinced me to take his place on board the Discovery. But who can feel freedom and adventure when ye ain't even able to climb from yer bunk, but must cower and crawl to puke yer guts out in some bucket already filled to overflowing with other men's puke?
And if that weren't enough to set yer stomach on edge, the rocking and rolling of that boat and no land in sight, the smells of unwashed bodies and unclean clothes, of seawater and salt, of mutton cooking over a fire, those would surely send any healthy man to the bucket too.
And yet, believe it or not, there are those who seemed unbothered by it all. The youngest one, John Hudson, son of the captain, he's been out and about, even with the storms we hit the second and third days. He was able to run from one end to the other, to swing from the lines, to fall asleep like a dead man in his hammock only to rise and run again the next day. He was like some monkey with no end of energy. His stomach must be made of iron.
Not me. Ye know I was never strong like that. Ye always kept me well out of harm's way. Never have I liked hardships or discomforts. But I had no choice in this matter. Leaving London is what I had to do and fast. Ain't much room in a town where lover and husband are on different sides of seeing the same issue.
Still, cousin Nicholas's solution wasn't all he cracked it up to be. And by the second night with all that storming about, and the seawater seeping in with each big wave and roll the boat took, I was sure me cousin was sitting pretty now in some smoke-filled pub in London, women on both knees, laughing at me in this most awful of places.
Still, Mama, much as it must come as a shock that I'm gone on a sailing ship, I know ye'll be happy knowing I am alive at all, especially seeing how Elizabeth's husband meant to challenge me to a duel. Ain't no way I was sticking around to see that one through! Heard her husband's a pretty good swordsman, and I ain't never even picked up a sword. It weren't the odds I liked. So I went searching for some way to leave the country without anyone taking much notice. Just wish now it hadn't been Nicholas that I had run into that day, looking for some way out. He up and says to me, "I got just the thing for ye, Seth. I got meself a place on Henry Hudson's boat. It's to set sail this afternoon, but to save yer skin, I'll give up me place to ye. Ye just show yerself up at the dock at two o'clock and say yer me. They won't take no notice that yer not. Yer on and good as gone."
"What kind o' work I gotta do on this boat?" I'd thought to ask. Ye know I ain't big on work.
"Whatever's called for," Nicholas had answered smoothly. "Ain't nothing much. Tying lines, patching sails. It's the adventure and freedom that's the wonder of the sailing world. All the places and things ye'll see. That's why ye go."
I see now why some schooling might be a good thing. I never thought to ask Nicholas how long it'd be before I saw the shores of good old England again. Didn't think to ask until we'd set sail, and me stomach took to rising up to me mouth. And when I did think to ask, I picked the wrong guy to consult -- Robert Juet, the mate. Now I'd been told he'd traveled with Captain Hudson before, old as he was. But that man has got a mean streak to him. I ask him just how long we were sailing for, and he answers with a snarl.
"A few months, or however long it takes. So ye'd best be about getting yerself feeling used to this boat, sailor. Ye keep up this weak stomach of yers for a month or two, ye'll be dead before we ever see the spires of Westminster Abbey again." Then he'd turned on his heel and was gone.
If I'd thought me stomach was weak, me heart grew weaker still at those words -- a few months! I was to be on this horrible ship for a few months? I sank back in me bunk, too sick for words.
Mama, I know you won't be getting these here letters, not until I return. But I'll write them anyway 'cause I feel so bad about leaving you for so long without a word. And I swear here and now, when I get back, I will search out Nicholas first thing. I will not rest until I've found him. That scoundrel cousin of mine is going to regret having put me on this stinking boat!
Yer loving son, Seth
Copyright © 2008 by Kathleen Benner Duble
Excerpted from Quest by Kathleen Benner Duble Copyright © 2008 by Kathleen Benner Duble. Excerpted by permission.
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