Jiddy Vardy : Full Sail

2024 Young Or Golden Writer
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Logline or Premise
Book 3 The two men in Jiddy's life have left. Defiant, she resolves to find choices for local girls battered by poverty. Inland, love beckons. The North Sea entices with dreams of foreign shores, but smuggling is all Jiddy has known. A brutal, breathtaking and brilliant conclusion to the trilogy!
First 10 Pages

Jiddy Vardy: Full Sail

Chapter One

London, England

Maria Vardarelli sat cross-legged on the rug with a mound of jewellery in her lap. The weight of sparkling gems made her skirt sag. They’d weighed even heavier in the pockets of Gregory’s jacket. She’d thought they’d drag her down to the bottom of the sea, but here she was. Even two weeks later, she could still see the bristle of the pirate’s cheeks and smell the stale tobacco of his breath.

She wiped away a tear. The smell of brine and cold lingered. She looked down at the jewels and untangled a diamond bracelet. It glistened in sunbeams streaking through the window, making the bedroom dance with rainbows. Spreading an emerald necklace in front of her, she admired the intense green stones against the brown floorboards. As she raised a dazzling ruby brooch, she heard voices from the other side of the door. Footsteps halted in the corridor outside. Grabbing the necklace along with the rest of her treasure, she pushed them into the pockets of the officer’s jacket she wore.

“Is she awake?”

Maria recognised John Ryethorpe’s voice but not the strange lilt of a female who spoke next.

“I’m not keen to go in, sir,” the woman said. “She doesn’t like me.”

A gentle tap made Maria scramble to her feet. She scurried to the window and stepped behind the drape. The door creaked open. The sound of one pair of heavy footsteps told her the woman had remained outside. Shoving her hands in her pockets and clutching the jewels tightly, she stepped into view. “What do you want?” Maria demanded, her words laden with her Neapolitan accent.

The door closed and John strolled towards her in his unhurried way. “We were worried,” he said, plucking at the ripped shoulder of her jacket. “We need to get you out of this uniform.” He rubbed his fingers, looking at them with disgust. “You may borrow some of my wife’s clothes.”

Maria glanced through the window at the blue sky. “When can I meet Gregory’s parents?” she asked. “They are my family now he is dead, and they must meet me.” John touched her shoulder, but shrugging him off, she reached the bed and held onto one of the corner posts. “You keep making excuses for them.”

“Maria, they are grieving their son and they know nothing about you. Come downstairs. You must be hungry. It’s past eleven o’clock.”

“Tell them!” she shouted, making him flinch. “Tell them their son has a baby daughter!”


“Tell them we planned to be married. Tell them I will marry their other son if that is what they want! Tell them I am here!” She pressed her face into the bed drapes. “Tell them,” she mumbled into the thick cloth.

John strode to her side. “Let’s get rid of this coat,” he said. “Get you looking like a lady again. You want to look like a lady, don’t you?”

Pushing him away and returning to the window, Maria shook her head, her dark hair tumbling in matted curls. John followed her and they stood side by side, looking at the velvet lawn and neat borders of clipped hedge.

Absentmindedly, John tapped the glass with one finger. “Catherine says you can stay here as long as you need before taking a ship home to Naples.”

She turned sharply to face him. “I am never going back to Naples. I am going to find where the family of Gregory live.”

John sighed. “Lord and Lady Hartshorn may not admit you.”

Dragging a handful of jewels from her pocket, Maria held them out. “They will want to see these.”

John’s eyes widened. “Where did you get those?”

Shoving them back into her pocket, she faced the window again.

“Are they the old woman’s? Did she give them to you? I thought she had family near Paris?”

The jewels dug their hard edges into Maria’s palms. “They are mine now,” she said.

“Maria, these are not any jewels. These are worth a great deal of money. You should return them to the lady’s family.” He paused, waiting for her to answer, but when she remained staring at the garden below, he shrugged. “We will talk about this later.”

Maria swung around, jacket flaring, her grip on the gems tighter still. “They are all dead!” she shouted. “That pirate killed my baby. He killed Gregory and Madame Popineau—that’s the old woman’s, my companion’s name. She died of fever as we set off from France. In the ship, leaving me alone! Everyone has gone and these jewels are all I have left!”

John reached out his hand. “I am here.”

Her eyes sparkled dark. “Your wife does not want me in the house. She is worried you will fall in love with me. I see it in her face, and you have a son, and we are not the same blood.” She pressed her lips together to hold in the upsurge of emotion. “Please ask Catherine if I may have one of her gowns. I want to look like a lady when I meet Lord and Lady Hartshorn.”

John exhaled. “I am so sorry, Maria, but they can’t meet you.” He looked down, embarrassed to witness the pain on her face.

“How do you know?” she asked.

“I went to visit them, but they had already left the house for Yorkshire. They spend every summer in the north.”

Her eyes brimmed with tears, and she blinked them away. “Then we must go back to Yorkshire.”

John waited for a few moments. “Stay with us,” he said. “You like little Samuel, and he likes you.”

Dragging off Gregory’s coat that she’d refused to discard ever since they’d emerged wet and battered from the North Sea, she threw it on the floor and, crouching, dragged diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and threads of pearls from the pockets. Glaring at him, her face a battleground of emotion, she fought to steady her voice. “If that is true, I cannot give these up,” she said. “If these are as precious as you say, they are my fortune, and I need to know what they will buy me.”

John knelt on the floor by her side. “Maria, they are not yours to sell. As I said, stay here, or if you really want, return home to your family.”

“Gregory’s family are not humane,” she shouted, leaning on his arm as she struggled to her feet. “I am not a devil. I am me. I am a person. I have feelings. I have needs! Why do they shun me? It is not a crime to want to survive!” She sobbed, no longer able to hold in the surge of tears. “You will take me to meet his family,” she said. “And they will see me!”

Chapter Two

Robin Hood’s Bay, England
Spring 1796 – Seventeen years later

Lines of rock reached their gnarled tentacles out to sea. Jiddy longed for the waves to cover them again yet feared the lick of water over the causeway and pounding depth of unbreathable grey.

She’d barely slept since clawing her way off the beach, wet and battered, and now she was back on the slipway, both hoping and dreading finding Samuel’s corpse spewed onto the shingle. Either way, Deputy Staincliffe and the preventives would come searching for him when he didn’t appear soon. And if, by some miracle, he was alive, what would Samuel do when he realised she was part of the smuggling ring that had left him for dead in the dock?

Baytowners would never understand why she’d even tried to save a captain of the Dragoons, and she couldn’t bear the thought that her closest friend Annie might look at her in disbelief.

She shivered. One positive was people were staying away from the shore with its dangerous spring tides. She meandered over stones, jumping off the rocky, bladderwrack-strewn ledges onto sandy stretches, pacing to the water’s edge and scrutinising the swell. She couldn’t spy a jellyfish, never mind a dead body.

The tide had turned and already advanced, one surge at a time. She scuttled sideways as a wave reached further than the rest, soaking her boots and hem. Looking along the beach, she pulled her shawl tighter around her head before pressing along the shore, looking for the shape of a body, a piece of clothing, anything that might belong to Samuel.

She reassured herself there was little likelihood she would find him. After she, Betsie and Annie had removed their old friend Nellie from the gibbet, and Jiddy had taken the body out to sea, Nellie had never reappeared. Samuel had been swept away when that same sea had gushed up the causeway and swallowed his corpse, and in all likelihood, his body wouldn’t reappear either. The difference was nobody cared about a dead Ashner lass’s corpse, but plenty of people cared about the head of the Dragoons. Deputy Staincliffe was known for being tenacious. He needed a body to catch a culprit, and he would believe someone had done his leader in, and that culprit couldn’t possibly be the high tide. As far as Jiddy was concerned, nobody, not Abe Storm nor Sandy Killock nor any other Baytowner must be punished.

She glanced towards the cave used for storing contraband during a raid. She’d have to use all her strength to drag Captain Samuel Ryethorpe’s corpse there if, by a hand of bad luck, he did wash up on the beach.

On top of that, and as pressing, Mrs. Farsyde would need to be told gently because the lady of Thorpe Hall wouldn’t be able to hide her agony at Samuel having gone for good. Someone there was bound to guess this was the man she loved, whether it was from her outpouring of misplaced grief or when her baby was born blonde-haired and blue-eyed, the image of Samuel rather than Squire Farsyde.

Veering back along the beach, Jiddy shook her skirt. The damp folds clung together. In another hour or so, the light would begin to fade and she’d not see her own feet in the sand let alone a body.

The cliff loomed dark, topped by waving grass and bleating sheep. It was a lonely sound, and she couldn’t get used to it, even though she’d heard it all her life. Turning again to take one last look at the sea, she almost wished she was on the other side of that huge expanse of water, warm, dry, and smelling the scents of a hot climate rather than having the cold weight of Samuel’s death on her shoulders. If a ship had been anchored offshore, she’d have swum out to it and not looked back.

It was what she’d yearned for as a child. Another place. A place to belong when the other Bay children said she was odd and different and even some of the grown-ups had been suspicious of her tanned skin and jet-black eyes. Samuel’s father, Lord Ryethorpe, had said she belonged in a place called Naples, but Jiddy couldn’t understand. If she belonged in such a distant city, why had her mother come to England? Why would her mother have rejected her family and the paradise of home for these unknown shores? Arriving here to the brutality of Captain Pinkney ransacking the ship she travelled on, to a freezing sea, near death on being thrown overboard, and then what? The female companion she’d travelled with had died; her lover, the father of her child, had drowned; she’d been severed from her family. The emporium hadn’t sprung up overnight, so the time until it did must have been difficult.

Why had she stayed? If it had been her, Jiddy would have caught the next ship back to France and returned to Naples and the bosom of her family without a second thought. Yet her mother had gone to London with Lord Ryethorpe and stayed there. And Jiddy had grown up, the adopted child of an aging couple, in Robin Hood’s Bay. She’d loved Thomas and Mary, and even cantankerous Rebecca, who’d been more an aunt than a neighbour, but now they all were dead. She took a deep breath. Don’t think about it.

Trudging over the shingle, she could still make out gulls swooping in the dusk, landing on rocks, and taking on human shapes in the dull light. An evening breeze nipped colder, and she quickened her pace. Shadows altered the crevices in the cliff face, and deepening lines began to spread across the sand.

“There’s no-one here,” she repeated over and over, heading for the causeway and trying not to think about the creeping waves. She’d almost reached the slipway when she looked up and gasped.

A figure, standing at the edge of the dock, forced her to stop. She hadn’t anticipated anyone being there in the fading daylight. She narrowed her eyes. It couldn’t be Silas, crouched and crabby, or Abe, taking double the space of any other man. He and Sandy would be in hiding if Big Isaac had anything to do with it. The dull light made it difficult to tell who it could be. It was a man, that was certain, and a shapely figure made apparent by the taut jacket, long boots, and breeches.

Jiddy couldn’t bring herself to move.

“Oh, stop being silly! Andrew, you barnpot, is that you?”

It would be typical of Annie’s brother to want to scare her. She took a few strides. A red jacket caught the fading light and she stopped again. It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. She waited. The scaurs lurked underwater now, and the sea crept up the promontory. She’d be cut off if she didn’t hurry. The figure moved. She recognised the gait. She knew that turn of head.

“Samuel!” She broke into a run, holding her skirt so she didn’t trip.

She couldn’t think about the consequences, only that by a freak of luck, he hadn’t drowned. Balancing on the rocks, alert to avoid slipping, she jumped onto the causeway.

Her heart pounded, and a prickle of fear furred her neck. He stood so silent. Ominous. Was he angry? Injured? She waited for him to approach.

It was almost dark. His breath sounded heavy. She’d called to him, but now she didn’t know what to say. Why didn’t he speak? Why didn’t he yell out for an arrest? Something. Dripping sounds from wet clothes. Waves lapping against the rocks. She shivered and pressed her nails into her palms.

The sea rippled darker. The beach was lost in night. Her own breath now fretted the cold air. She tensed at Samuel’s silence. Foaming brine. She clenched her hands tighter. Stepped forward. She’d no reason to be afraid of Samuel. It wasn’t her fault the high tide had swept them away.

Waves splashed the causeway. Clouds billowed dark, and the sea, a swamp of black, seethed where the beach had been. She shivered again, pushing straggles of hair off her face.

“Samuel?” she whispered.

The officer stepped forward. “Good evening,” he said. Jiddy immediately recognised Deputy Staincliffe. “Why are you calling out that name, Miss Vardy?”