Harold's Drift

Updated: Jan 21

Twas as the little steamer rounded a bend, later called as Harold’s drift, a tricky manoeuvre for even a most experienced captain, that the dutchess collapsed. I remembers distinctly, the cool river breeze, the noise from the fellows hooting and haggering on the deck below. They said, much later, that she had been taken by the sour river vapours but I didn’t believe’m. I done see the knife’s wet blade, as it tumbled and toiled across the deck ‘n rolled silently o’verboard. I saw that crimson bloom blossom under her left arm on that fine white dress, which must’ve cost a king’s ransom. It’s the parasol that I remember most vividly, all tightly bound and frilly, trampled and scuffled under urgent feet. I was probably only thirteen at that time and my father would have remarried shortly before. It was a terrible tragedy ...I’d loved that knife.

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147 words


Just playing with openings to novels.


My tutor author Menna van Praag, kindly said '... this is excellent, I really enjoyed reading it - very evocative atmosphere and strong, individualist voice. Unique style and lovely use of language too - well done!'


I then did a longer version for the following weeks homework.


Harold's Drift v2


T’were as the little steamer rounded the bend, later called as Harold’s drift, a tricky manoeuvre for even the most experienced captain, that the Dutchess collapsed. I remembers distinctly, that cool river breeze, the noise from the fellows hooting and haggering on the deck below. They said, much later, that she ‘ad been tak’n by them sour river vapours but I didn’t believ’m. I done seen the knife’s wet blade, as it tumbled and toiled across the deck, ‘n slipped, silently o’erboard. I saw that crimson bloom blossom, under her left arm on that fine white dress, a king’s ransom in fabric no doubt. It’s her parasol that I remember most vividly, all tightly bound and frilly, trampled and scuffled under urgent feet. I was probably only thirteen at that time and my father would’ve remarried shortly afore. It was a terrible tragedy ...I lov’d that knife.

It were given to me by my brother for just such an occasion. He said t’ me, ‘If you e’er get close enough, it’s your duty. Mark you, your duty, to avenge the family. She must die before she crosses the border if we are e’er to hold our heads high in this county again. Our honour’s in yon scales, balancing, could tip either way, either way, mark you. You had t’be a man at some point, an’ you’re older than I was when I stepped up.’

With these words, he set me spinning, on a course that led me to this day and this end. I didn’t much care what they said, how they bowed and scraped to explain their loss. So long as she didn’t reach that border before justice were deliver’d.


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281 words



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