Category Archives: Regency

Charity begins at Home, Sweet Home or A Regency Music Collection

Readers of my blog will know that I am an enthusiastic explorer of Charity Shops, having made several very interesting discoveries in them. Yesterday was, perhaps, my best days hunting so far. I had stopped in Bridport, after a mornings exploration of several churches, with the intention of buying a pasty for lunch. Walking up the High Street towards the bakers I passed the Sue Ryder shop, glancing in I was delighted to find an original fashion plate of 1828. Very happy with this purchase I debated with myself whether to enter the Oxfam shop or not. Fortunately I did.

Lying on a shelf was a battered volume with a card label ‘Ancient Sheet Music £5”, I idly opened it expecting a collection of, at best, Victorian parlour songs. Immediately I knew it was much more interesting, the paper was soft linen paper, the ink brown with age (and because it was made with oak gall), the title pages printed from copper plates. It was what the label had said, a collection of individual printed pieces of music, songs, dances and instrumental pieces mostly for the piano, though a few were for the harp. None were dated though the dedications gave clues. There were references to the Duke of Clarence (who became William IV in 1830) and the Duchess of Kent, but no Duke he died in 1820. Then I saw one of the most infamous pieces of music of the period, naturally I didn’t hesitate but bought the book straight away. I never got a pasty as I wanted to head home and examine my prize in more detail.


The book is a large quarto volume, not in very good condition as the front cover is detached. It contains 54 separate items, each with an elaborate title page. It was an expensive collection as none of the music sheets were cheap, some are priced, and the prices range from 1/6 to 5 shillings (a farm labourers weekly wage was 7 shillings).


On the front is a label, Susanna Buck, who was the original owner. Miss Buck seems to have begun the collection when she was at school, as several sheets have the faint pencil inscription Mrs Waterhouse’s School – Music Prize – Miss Buck clearly she was a talented girl. Other pieces also bear Miss Buck’s name, I suspect that these may have been lent to her friends to copy, because of the cost it was normal to exchange music in this fashion. The volume was bound in Burnley, according to a paper label stuck in the back, so perhaps Susanna was a Lancastrian, other than that I can find no more about her from the book.


The collection begins with songs, old and new, older ones by Dr Arne as well as modern examples such as Home! Sweet Home! which was written in 1823.


Then there are a series of instrumental pieces, works by Mozart and Rossini to versions of songs such as Old Lang Syne.




These are followed by a series of dances, all described as ‘New’ or ‘The Latest’, which doubtless gave Miss Buck and her friends a great deal of pleasure.


Then tucked in the back is a piano manual, full of exercises, which this talented young lady may have used when she began to play.


This collection is typical of those that were made by musical people and families in the early nineteenth century. As musical tastes changed they fell out of use and it is rare for them to survive. I was therefore delighted to add the volume to my collections illustrating Georgian and Regency life.


Now at the beginning of the piece I mentioned that one piece was very notorious, this one, The Battle of Prague


The piece was very popular, it depicts a fictitious battle in which the various armies Prussian, Austrian, English and Turkish are all depicted in different styles which gives a skilled pianist a great opportunity to show their skill. What is unusual at this time is for the name of the composer, Frantisek Kotzwara (František Kocžwara ) to appear on the music. He was a Czech composer, and while his life wasn’t particularly scandalous, his death was.


In 1791 he visited a prostitute Susanna Hill, and after a heavy drinking session tied a ligature around his neck to ‘raise his passion’ – afterwards – he was dead! Susanna Hill was tried for his murder, and acquitted, both judge and jury believing her story that his death was accidental. The judge tried to suppress any account of his death as he feared it might encourage copycats, but one was published, and his death is now regarded as the first known case of auto-erotic asphyxiation.


And all that from a remarkable find in the Oxfam charity shop in a small Dorset town.


Filed under Georgian, Regency

The Christmas Spinner – A True Tale for Christmas

Christmas 1821

“Where’s my husband?” She asked, “Dinner has been ready for ages.”

“Sorry Mam,” the maid replied, “I think he is in the workshop.”

Sarah shook her head, their first Christmas together and he was working. He had seemed distracted all though the service that morning and had left her as soon as they returned home.

She walked down the narrow stairs to his workshop. He was seated on a tall stool by his workbench, watching something. Curious she approached, there was a strange buzzing, like a trapped fly. Then she saw what he was looking at, in front of him a wire was spinning round rapidly.

“Michael,” he didn’t seem to hear her, “Michael Faraday.” She said much louder and tapped him on his shoulder, he seemed to wake out of a trance.

“Oh, Sarah, I’ve done it.” For a moment he smiled at her, then turned again to the spinning wire.

“What have you done?”

“You see, the current flows through this wire and creates a magnetic field which works against the field in this magnet ….”

“And makes the wire move.” She completed.

“Yes.” He was watching his invention dreamily again.

“Will it keep moving if you leave it for an hour or so?”

“Yes, the motive force will last as long as there is power in the battery.”

“Then come and have dinner, it is Christmas after all.”

She took his hand and led him, reluctantly, from the room, behind them the first electric motor, another Christmas baby with an amazing future, kept on spinning.


Michael Faraday, when he invented the motor

And that, more or less, is the tale I was told many years ago.

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Filed under Christmas Musings, Georgian, Historical tales, Regency

The Most Remarkable Georgian Invention

The Georgians were an inventive lot, not as much as the Victorians who invented everything that hadn’t previously been invented, but they didn’t do too badly. I am fascinated by their ingenuity and have already written about their development of steam power, high speed travel, electric light and fair trade products.


However I have just come across details of what is, perhaps, their most unusual invention and one which still invites comment when it is used two hundred years later.


The London Chronicle, October 21. 1809 reported how contemporary (male) fashion was being influenced by the actions of the Peninsular War.


We were surprised some time since, by observing many young men of ton with the dusky hue of the Spanish Indies on their visages. Many of these Petits Maitres never exposed their faces to the rays of Sol out of the smoke of London; but it seems they wish to be considered heroes of Talavera, Corunna, and Portugal. To support their pretensions, they procure an artificial tinge with ochre


So there it is, the Georgians invented the fake tan!  


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Shooting at Shipwrecks (Help #flashprompt #hurricanerelief #flash4storms)

Sarah Brentyn has created a super-short flash prompt and asked her fellow bloggers to join in; by so doing she will commit to give money to the hurricane relief funds. 50 words using the prompt ‘Help’. Go on, pop over and have a go. My contribution is (as might be expected) an historical tale.


Yarmouth 1808
Captain Manby aimed the cannon at the ship, they desperately needed help and he was going to shoot at them. The cannon fired, the ball hurled high over the shipwreck – taking a line with it.
The crew of the Elizabeth grabbed the line, an hour later they were all safe.


In 1808 the Manby mortar was used for the first time to rescue the crew of the Elizabeth, near Great Yarmouth. Captain Manby’s invention involved firing a small cannon ball over a shipwreck carrying a line with it. Before it was superseded by line carrying rockets it had saved over a thousand lives.



Filed under Georgian, Historical tales, Regency

Making an Acorn Snake – A Vanishing Toy

When did you last see an Acorn Snake? Do you even know what one is or how to make it? I recently realised that very few people seemed to know about this ancient toy, so here it is.


First take a good handful or two of acorn cups, one or two large acorns, and some string.


Drill a small hole in the base of each acorn cup.


Sort them by size from the smallest to largest.


Thread the cups on a length of length of string, stick a tiny cup over the knot at the small end, stick a large acorn into the biggest cup. Add a face and there you have it.

Pseudophidius quercii The Acorn Snake


Filed under Acorn Snake, Georgian, Historical Reconstructions, Reconstructing the Regency, Regency

Captain Bennett – The Hero of Lyme

This year seems to be producing terrible storms, so it seems the right time to tell this tale, of the brave Captain Bennett – The Hero of Lyme.


November 23rd 1824
Captain Charles Bennett stood on top of Church Cliff and watched the destruction of Lyme Regis. Around him stood a crowd of men, women and children, some still dressed in nightgowns, having just managed to escape from their houses before they collapsed. Every so often there was a cry as another house fell before the pounding waves.

Suddenly there was a scream, worse than the others, Captain Bennett raised his telescope and gasped, the Fox cutter had broken from its moorings, there was a man still clinging to the mast, for a moment it seemed to run before the wind, then the waves covered it.

“Poor Fellows!” He shook his head, he had seen men die in battle but this was somehow much worse.

“Was it the Fox?” He turned to see William Porter, the Lyme Pilot and an old friend.

He nodded, Porter tried to look straight into the wind and failed.

“How does Pierce ride?”

Captain Bennett raised his telescope and focussed it on the Unity, he knew the ship well, every six weeks it sailed for London and was the best way of bringing heavy goods to Lyme Regis, Captain Pierce was popular in Lyme and all his crew were local men. She had been due to sail the next day and there were a number of men on board. Now she was straining on her moorings, tied to the Cobb, the ancient harbour of Lyme Regis, invisible under the pounding waves.

Unity 2

The Destruction of Lyme Regis

“She rides well.” He replied, “And will hold I think – as long as the Cobb stands.”

The sun rose, the sky cleared with fast scudding clouds, but the storm didn’t abate. Then, Captain Bennett estimated about seven o’clock, the worst happened. The Cobb collapsed!

There was a terrible scream from the crowd as the Unity seemed to shoot across the bay, for a moment it seemed that she was going to be wrecked under their feet, at the bottom of Church Cliff, but she was swept past and along the shore.

“She’ll strike at Charmouth no doubt.” Said Porter, “And no hope for them.” Added John Freeman, a local fisherman.

“No, I’ll be damned it I watch more men die.” Shouted Captain Bennett. “I think there is hope for them, if you are with me.” He held out his hand, first Porter then Freeman grabbed it.

“Ay Ay Captain – we’re with you.”

Captain Bennett turned and ran down the slope, “I always thought it was nuisance that I had to keep my gear well away from the shore, now I am glad, very glad indeed.”

He pushed open the door to his store, the gear for his boat, now smashed by the storm, filled the shed. He loaded a small cart with ropes, hooks and grapnels, then they dragged it up, onto the rutted coast road, chasing the Unity.

They passed several groups of weeping women struggling against the weather, he recognised the wives of two of the men on board the Unity, then there were two women who were screaming at each other.

“Jim’s mine!” screamed one, “No you whore, he’s mine!” screamed the other.

“I think Jim’s in trouble.” Laughed John Freeman.

“Only if we get him to shore.” Replied William Porter.

Onward they struggled, helped by other men they met, until they dropped down towards Charmouth where the masts of the Unity were visible over the cliff top. Here William Freeman tied hooks to the ends of light ropes and, again and again, the men tried to throw them to the ship. Every time they fell short, it was impossible to throw into the gale. Captain Bennett held onto the cart and shut his eyes, he couldn’t look at the men on the Unity, he had failed.

Unity 1

The Wreck of the Unity – showing what the rescuers had to face

The crowd watched in horror, waiting for the end, then the miracle happened, the Unity was swept off the sand, it was moving again! A few moments later it grounded on another sandbank, it hadn’t moved far, but far enough.

Now there was a way down to the beach where there was just enough room to stand. The three men scrambled down, tied ropes round their waists and handed the ends to other men who had followed them. Captain Bennett had just finished tying his rope when there was a cry from above, one of the men of the Unity had tried to climb down off the ship and had fallen. Captain Bennett ran, straight into the surf. As the water swirled round the stern he glimpsed the fallen man, diving forward he grabbed him then shouted for the men to pull him back. To his horror he saw that no one had held the end of the rope as he ran into the water, he struggled up the beach, but knew it wouldn’t make it, then to his relief a man ran forward, grabbed the rope and pulled him back.

He recognised the man, Joshua Knight another fisherman. Joshua grabbed the sailor and handed him to one of the other men, then he pointed at the ship. Captain Bennett saw that John Porter was standing by the side of the vessel with a grapnel in his hand, he threw it up and it caught on the railing, then he was hit by the next wave and pushed back. As the water receded Captain Bennet ran forward, reaching the rope just at the same time as John Porter, who smiled and allowed him to go first up the thin rope. On the deck he saw that William Freeman was already there, he had grabbed a man, then they held on as another wave broke over them. As the water flowed out though the scuppers they all grabbed a man, tied him to their rope, cut them free from the ropes they had used to stop them falling overboard, and ran for the side.

The next wave hit them as they were dropping onto the sand, they ran with it towards the shore, helped by the men pulling on the ropes, Joshua Knight had organised them now and it didn’t take long before the three men, and their precious cargo, were safe.

They rested for a few seconds, then Captain Bennett pointed to the Unity’s rigging, there were three men hanging from the ropes, they had climbed into the rigging out of the waves and tied themselves there, they weren’t moving, they were either dead or unconscious. They all knew that if they were unconscious then they would be dead soon, if they got no help.

“One more time lads!” Shouted the captain, they didn’t reply but both turned back to the ship, as the next wave pulled back they ran. Holding on tight as the water broke over them, then up the side of the ship and into the rigging. They were all experienced sailors, used to climbing rigging in all weathers, but none had climbed in such conditions. They reached their men, in Captain Bennett’s case it was a boy, then came the problem of first tying the unconscious man to their waist then cutting them free.

John Porter reached the deck just before Captain Bennett, as he was about to try and climb down a wave hit him and pulled him overboard. The Captain ran forward and without thinking jumped, with the boy in his arms, into the surf. It cushioned his fall and he was able to grab his friend. Together they dragged the last of the crew back to safety, finally, above the surf he dropped to his knees and collapsed. He had done it, the crew were safe.


This story is completely true, the storm, the rescue, the named characters, the squabbling women and even some of the dialogue.

In 1824 the National Institute for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck had been formed, it is now the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The first gold medal it presented was to Captain Bennett, the first silver medals to John Porter and William Freeman.


Filed under Historical tales, Regency

Inspired by the Google doodle – Jane’s other language.

Today’s ‘Google Doodle’ celebrates British Sign Language and its development. This gives me the opportunity to re-blog something I wrote a little while ago in the series, Five things you might not know about Jane Austen.


Like most educated women of her time Jane Austen knew some French and Italian. But she knew another language, a far more unusual one. What was it?

She tells us in her own words, in 1808 she was living in Southampton and on December 27 she wrote to her sister, who was staying with their brother in Kent. In her long letter she mentions a visit they had made.

‘We spent Friday evening with our friends at the boarding-house, and our curiosity was gratified by the sight of their fellow-inmates, Mrs. Drew and Miss Hook, Mr. Wynne and Mr. Fitzhugh; the latter is brother to Mrs. Lance, and very much the gentleman. He has lived in that house more than twenty years, and, poor man! is so totally deaf that they say he could not hear a cannon, were it fired close to him; having no cannon at hand to make the experiment, I took it for granted, and talked to him a little with my fingers, which was funny enough. I recommended him to read “Corinna”.’

So there it is, Jane Austen could sign, she knew what was probably an early version of British Sign Language which had been developed in the late eighteenth century, and was already being taught to deaf people of all classes through several schools. The question then arises, how did she come to know sign language?

V0016541 The Dumb Alphabet. Coloured aquatint, W.T. Annis 1819.

One possibility is that she learnt, as do many hearing people do today, to communicate with a relative. In her case her brother George, little is known about him. He was born in 1766, ten years before Jane, and like her and her other siblings, was placed with a wet-nurse in the village of Steventon immediately after birth. However he never returned to live with his family and the majority of references to him are concerned with his care. He was clearly mentally or physically disabled and the fact that Jane Austen could sign suggests that he was either deaf or couldn’t speak.

What is perhaps less surprising than Jane Austen holding a conversation in sign language, is that she takes the opportunity to suggest something to read!


Finally, if anyone doubts that sign language is a real language, British Sign Language was officially recognised as a minority language in 2003.


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Filed under Georgian, Jane Austen, Regency

Monday’s child

Another poem illustrated by Regency pictures (and later genre pictures). A classic nursery rhyme.


Charles Amable Lenoir - The Pink Rose

Monday’s child is fair of face,

Eugene von Blaas — Feeding the Pigeons

Tuesday’s child is full of grace;

Frédéric Soulacroix Dissapointment

Wednesday’s child is full of woe,

Emil Brack - Planning the Grand Tour Emil Brack

Thursday’s child has far to go;

Leslie, George Dunlop, 1835-1921; The Gardener's Daughter
Friday’s child is loving and giving,

Marie-Denise Villers Self-portrait Young Woman Drawing
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;

Charles Haigh Wood - The Time of Roses

But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.



Filed under Georgian, Poems, Regency, Victorian

Mrs Bennet – The First Female Diver

Part 7 The Diving Belle


Sunlight poured in through the portholes, then the Bell broke the surface and cool, fresh air poured in. Charlotte took a deep, thankful breath as they were swung across and settled on the raft, Captain Braithwaite climbed down first then helped her descend, two men climbed in and helped carry the unconscious man out.

As Charlotte stepped upright in the sunlight she heard the noise, the cheering. Susan came running over to wrap a shawl round her shoulders and hug her. Looking around she could see several crowded boats nearby, the men were waving their hats, the women their parasols and handkerchiefs and everyone was cheering.

“Oh dear, it that for me.” Said Charlotte weakly.

“Yes madam, you are famous.” Replied Susan happily.

“Help me to the cabin, I think I am going to faint.”

Susan helped her mistress up the ladder and swiftly across the deck, Charlotte had no idea where she was going until Susan lowered her onto a bench where she fainted.


Half an hour later she woke up, Susan was folding her wet bathing dress, she realised she was not only dry but dressed.

“Good madam, you are recovered, I will get the Captain.”

Before she could protest Susan had left the cabin and returned with him a few minutes later.

“Madam, I must apologise for the dangers you were subjected to.” He paused then continued, “And to thank you for what you did. I don’t know of anybody who could have done what you did.”

“I don’t know how I did what I did.” She replied weakly.

An hour later the boat rowed them away from the Endeavour, the Diving Bell still looked terrifying but she felt no fear of it now.

As they rowed alongside the quay there was a crowd waiting, as she stepped onto dry land she heard a shout then the crowd started cheering. Susan helped her into the chaise and they were swiftly driven back to the Circus. As they did so she turned to her maid.

“Susan, did you hear what they shouted, it sounded as if they were cheering the Diving Bell.”

“No madam, it is you they were cheering. They are calling you the Diving Belle now.”

“Oh dear, well it can hardly get worse.”

A few days later she discovered it could. Captain Braithwaite called to both tell her that the sailor was recovering well and to present her with a silver tray, it had been part of the cargo recovered from the Abergavenny but he had had it engraved as a memento of her descent to the wreck. As he left he said with a smile.

“If you should ever want to go down again I would be happy to take you. Everything should be perfectly safe now, anyway my crew are sure you can do anything in the water, they think you are a mermaid.”

“Not a mermaid as well.” She said to Susan, “I wasn’t frightened swimming around at the bottom of the sea, but I don’t think I can bear all this. At the end of the week we leave for Lyme to see my brother in law and give my nephew his telescope.”


So Mrs Charlotte Bennet left Weymouth, whether she returned or not I don’t know. Someone, perhaps one of the Endeavour’s crew retired from the sea and settled down as a publican on Portland, naming his public house The Mermaid. As for young Lieutenant Bennet, he rose to become Captain Bennet and one of the heroes of Lyme, but that is another story.


This tale was suggested by a press cutting of 1806;

DIVING BELL.—By means of this ingenious contrivance, a Mr Braithwaite has been so successful as to recover, in the months of June and July last, the whole specie from the Abergavenny Indiaman, which was lost off Portland in Feb. 1805. He was down frequently at the rate of six hours a-day. The specie was contained in 60 boxes of dollars, and amounted to £34,000. A great number of valuable articles have also been recovered. A Mrs Bennet of Colchester had the courage to descend in the machine on one occasion, and remained forty minutes. She was greeted on her ascent by the cheering plaudits of a very numerous concourse of people. Mrs Bennet is now generally known as the Diving Belle.


Other accounts say that Mrs Bennet came from Cornwall, so I have blended these accounts in the (completely fictitious) backstory I gave her. She was also described as a strong swimmer, an unusual talent for anybody, especially a woman at this time.

The Abergavenny Store where goods were kept was real, and it wasn’t far from Weymouth’s Assembly Rooms.

The Nothe peninsula is still a favourite place to go for a walk and look out to the sea, it was as I described in 1806.

Commander John Wordsworth’s Patriotic Fund sword was raised from the wreck and returned to his brother William the poet, it is now in the museum at Dove Cottage.

Captain Darcy was an engineer who repaired the Cobb, the ancient harbour at Lyme Regis.

There were no swimming costumes at the time, ladies wore Bathing Dresses but couldn’t swim in them.

The accident didn’t happen to Mrs Bennet, but similar things did happen to other early divers. John Braithwaite made a small fortune from diving on the shipwreck, which his son made into a larger one by becoming one of the first builders of marine steam engines.

As for Captain Bennet of Lyme Regis, he probably wasn’t related to our Mrs Bennet but I couldn’t help making the connection because of his name. Nearly twenty years after the date of this story, in 1825, he became one of the great heroes of Lyme – perhaps one day I will retell his story.



Filed under Historical tales, Regency

Mrs Bennet – The First Female Diver

Part 6 The Gallant Lady


She stood up, and began to unfasten the front of her bathing dress.

“Then I will have to try, he may die if we cannot get him to a surgeon.”

 “No, you cannot, it is impossible!”

“Captain Braithwaite, you should have learned by now that there is no point in using those words to me.” She smiled and continued, “I grew up in Cornwall, and I was taught to swim as a child. I have swum across the cove by my father’s house underwater and that is more than twenty four feet across. Now can you help me get out of this dress?” She grimaced slightly, “One day someone will invent a costume for swimming in, but at the moment there is nothing, and that it what I will have to wear.”

Reluctantly he helped her as she dropped into the water and pulled the dress up over her head. She dipped her head under and vanished for a few moments, then she reappeared.

“You are right, there is a baulk of timber on the side of the Bell. It has two copper bolts sticking out if it which will make a good grip for the grapnel. Goodbye.” She took a deep breath and vanished.

Looking out of the porthole he had a glimpse of her pale shape as she kicked hard upwards. He then sat by the unconscious man and shook his head.

“Impossible, she is Impossible.”

A Regency lady swimming

Charlotte opened her eyes as she ducked her head underwater, it stung for a moment but she could see clearly. It was darker than the Cornish coves where she had learned to swim, and dive, as a child. But she felt no fear. The surface didn’t seem so far away and the ropes, leading from the Bell to the Endeavour, made an easy pathway to follow upwards. She kicked up and swum strongly towards the light. As she near the boat her chest hurt, it was as though the air inside her lungs was expanding, for a moment she was shocked, then breathed out a little and felt better. Bubbles trickling from her mouth she broke the surface a few yards from the raft. She took a deep breath, the air here was colder than that in the Bell, much less stuffy.

No one saw her rise, so she swum the few yards to the side of the ship and shouted. Faces appeared over the gunwale, including Susan.

“Madam – are you all right?” she shouted.

“Yes girl, now get the Young Captain.”

She didn’t need to as a few seconds later young John Braithwaite’s face appeared over the rail.

“What has happened, is my father all right?”

“Your father is well, the other sailor has been injured. The Bell has been trapped by a fallen timber, he needs a grapnel to free it. The signal line has also been lost. So get me a grapnel and line.”

“Why, you cannot take them down, no one can do that.”

“Your father told me I couldn’t swim up with a message. You Braithwaites need to learn that I am not to be spoken to like that. Now get me the line.”

He gasped, then turned to his crew and snapped a series of orders. The thin signal line was dropped to Mrs Bennet, who wrapped it round her wrist, then the grapnel was lowered over the side.

“If you drop it there, will that take it to the north side of the Bell?” She called.

“Should do Mam” Shouted the sailor. “We will let it down nice and gentle like.”

“No.” She called, “Count to three and let it down fast, I am going with it.”

“Oh Madam.” Screamed Susan, “Please don’t go.”

“On three then.” Called the young captain and began to count. “One – Two – Three.”

Charlotte Bennet had been breathing deeply, on two she grabbed hold of the line just above the grapnel, on three the hook was released, there was a pale flash as she twisted in the water, and vanished.

Susan stopped screaming and looked straight down.

“I hope your lady will be safe miss.” Said the sailor standing beside her, suddenly Susan felt calm, she knew her mistress was amazing, now she knew she could do anything.

“Oh yes, I remember before she was married she loved to swim in the coves near her father’s house, she could always swim well.” She paused, and started a legend. “My grandmother said that one of her ancestors had married a mermaid.”

The sailor nodded, soon the rumour had spread and the crew were confident, waiting for the order to hoist. If their captain was being rescued by a mermaid then all would be well.

A Dorset Mermaid

A Dorset Mermaid

Below them, Charlotte Bennet was less confident, she had felt her lungs expand as she had risen, now they were being squashed, it hurt, worse than anything she had ever felt. Her eyes were painful now, she knew that if it didn’t stop in the next few seconds she would faint. Her cousin was prone to faint, usually in a drawing room with a comfortable sofa to fall on, not at the bottom of the sea with a wrecked ship to lie in. She wondered, why was she was thinking like this? Her lungs were in agony now, but she could see the Bell, she released the grapnel and with her last strength dipped under the rim and up, into the stuffy, but wonderful, air.

Captain Braithwaite bent and grabbed her shoulders, he would have lifted her up onto the bench, but she shook him off, panting she handed him the signal line.

“In a moment I will go outside again and make sure the grapnel is on the timber, then I will return. Your first signal to hoist will be to lift the timber, then as soon as you think the Bell can be freed you are to give the second signal. And up we will go.”

He took the line and was about to say something, when she took a breath and dipped under the water again. She was surprised to find it was harder this time than it had been before, her chest hurt, her head hurt and flashing lights kept distracting her. She knew where to go and swum round the Bell to the timber that was trapping them. Thankfully the grapnel was almost in the right pace. It seemed heavier than it had before as she pulled it over to the timber, she didn’t think she could do it, she was about to return to the Bell when it suddenly slipped, a hook caught under the timber, just by the bolt. She didn’t even look back at as she swam gratefully back to the Bell. She hung onto the edge gasping for air, Captain Braithwaite bent and gently pulled her up, she smiled and grabbed her dress then slipped it over her shoulders.

“There I’m decent now, try the line.”

She sat back and suddenly felt very tired, she wanted to sleep but knew she shouldn’t. She watched as the Captain gave a gentle pull on the line to tighten it, then gave three sharp tugs. He held it firmly and then, with relief, felt the answering pulls.


Above, John Braithwaite felt relief at the tugs. He shouted to the men on the grapnel line.

“Haul away, gently now.”

The men pulled, the weight they felt on the end of the line indicating that they were pulling on the timber.

Below, the Bell tipped upright as the timber slid to one side. The Captain watched through the porthole until he saw it was clear, then gave another three tugs. Almost immediately they felt the Bell move, there was a terrible scraping noise on one side as the timber slid off the Bell, then there was silence, looking down Charlotte saw the wreck drift away. They were rising quickly now, back to the surface, air and safety.


To be continued



Filed under Historical tales, Regency