Jiddy Vardy : High Tide

2024 Young Or Golden Writer
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Logline or Premise
Book 2 in trilogy. Jiddy returns to the Bay and immerses herself in smuggling. But her sweetheart wants to make an honest living, The obsessed Captain of the Dragoons is more determined than ever to capture wrong-doers like Jiddy. She has to choose doing what she loves or losing Jonas forever.
First 10 Pages

Jiddy Vardy: High Tide

Chapter One

Robin Hood’s Bay, England

Three figures stared up at the rigid corpse hanging from the gibbet. A gust of wind made the wooden structure creak, and the girls, rounded by thick shawls, stood still. Beyond, moorland disappeared into darkness. A lone cloud released a bright cusp of new moon, and the structure revealed itself at the sandy crossroads.

Jiddy handed her lantern to Betsie. “Hold it up.”

Betsie raised it with both hands.


“What if someone comes?”

Jiddy looked over her shoulder, then in every direction. Face shrouded in wool and shoulders hunched, Annie whimpered.

“No-one’s coming,” Jiddy said. She pushed down her shawl and, hoisting her skirt, clambered onto the platform.

Annie gasped. Betsie stepped closer and the light fell on shrivelled black feet. Betsie promptly retreated, and the dangling limbs disappeared as the light dropped to the ground, leaving Jiddy lit like a ghost.

“I can’t do this,” Betsie said.

“We agreed.”

“I’ve changed my mind. Here.” The light swung into Jiddy’s face, glowing in her dark eyes.

“Annie, you hold it,” Jiddy said, swivelling to reveal Annie, who shook her head. For a second time, the wind rippled their skirts.

“You should have got Jonas to help,” said Betsie.

“We’re Nellie’s friends,” said Jiddy. “This isn’t for lads to do. It’s our job to set her free.”

“We can’t reach. This is stupid! We need someone tall.”

“I can reach.” Jiddy drew a knife from under her skirt. It gleamed in the moonlight. “One of you hold the lantern so I can see the rope, other get ready to catch her.”

Betsie raised the lantern higher. “You heard her, Annie. I’m holding the light. You get ready to catch.”

Hugging the post with one arm, Jiddy straddled the supporting blocks and reached up, her other arm at full stretch to saw through the rope. The figure twisted, and straggling hair brushed Jiddy’s face. She stared into two rotting holes, greened by sea frets, a gristle of nose and a lopsided leer of a mouth.

Retching, she dropped the knife with a clatter and released her grip. Her foot slipped. Annie screamed. The light bobbed, revealing tattered clothes and the shiver of part flesh, part skeleton. Jiddy reached for a hold again, grabbing the slime of rope, and pressed inadvertently close to the corpse. Screwing up her eyes and turning her head, she held her breath against the damp odour of mould and rot. The gallows groaned.


The others scurried, light bouncing, hands outstretched, as Jiddy grappled to reach the wooden beam.

Wind gusted, and she and Nellie shifted. She pushed the body away with her feet and the wood splintered with a loud crack. Still holding the rope, she fell.


She landed on the block with Nellie’s remains in her arms. The broken beam hit her back, and she half scrambled, half fell onto the ground, shoving away the decaying body. Annie squealed.

“Look what you’ve done!” said Betsie, skipping further away.

Jiddy pushed against the wooden block to stand and, grabbing the lantern from Betsie, she held it up to look at the jumble of tatters and shapes that remained of Nellie.

“It’s disgusting.” Betsie gagged.

“I want to go home,” sniffled Annie.

Jiddy swung the lantern into their faces. Annie squinted in the glare and Betsie covered her eyes.

“We’ll be arrested,” Betsie said. “Wait ’til preventives see this. Wait till my mam and da hear about it. They’ll kill us.”

“They’ll think we’re traitors, they’ll think—”

“They’ll think we’re good friends,” said Jiddy, “and we take care of friends.”

“Didn’t think you were Nellie’s friend.” Betsie scowled.

“We grew up together, didn’t we?”

“I’m scared,” said Annie.

“Preventives’ll want to know who took her down.”

“That’s why we’ll leave scraps of her skirt,” said Jiddy. “Wolves took down Bob Slater. They’ll think same has happened to Nellie.”

“He were fresh.”

“Nobody asked questions. They’ll not now.”

They studied the skeleton folded over on itself and the curve of skull under a whimper of hair.

“I’m not touching it,” said Betsie.

Jiddy crouched to look closer. “She won’t be heavy. Annie, have you got the sacking?”

Jiddy and Annie lay the withered corpse on the blanket and looked down again at the more recognisable shape of a young woman.

“She’s shrunk,” said Betsie.

Jiddy swept up the knife and looked around. Satisfied they had left nothing, she took the lantern from Betsie and blew out the flame.

“Hey! We can’t see.”

“We can see enough, but we must keep quiet.”

Their figures shifted in the high moonlight. Without the lantern, the crossroads snaked quickly into darkness.

“We’ll soon hear the sea,” Jiddy said.

“There’s four corners,” said Betsie. “Told you we should have brought Jonas.”

“We should wrap blanket around her,” suggested Annie.

Jiddy crouched by the figure on the ground. “Nellie should have an open coffin for one last catch of Bay. I’ll take the front two. You grab a corner each at the back.”

They shambled slowly, their silence crackling the air as they approached Main Street. Rooftops tumbled all the way down to the sea and the sharp spring moon illuminated the shoreline.

“We’ll never get down without someone seeing,” said Betsie. “Let’s bury her in woods.”

“D’you want dogs digging her up? And we’re struggling even now, we’ll never make it all way back there.” Silence. “Well then, just keep quiet, and we’ll be fine.”

Betsie and Annie exchanged glances, but Jiddy set off, pulling them to follow. The hill dropped steeply, and Nellie’s feet pressed against Jiddy’s buttocks. She held her corners tight against her hips, anxious all the way down the slope of the Bay that Nellie’s corpse would topple and the shriek of her bones, hitting the ground, would awaken the entire neighbourhood.

“Lift her a bit,” she whispered when she feared the corpse would be so vertical it would walk over her head.

The stretcher wobbled and Jiddy halted. In the dark, with the wind drawing up the hill and the waves crinkling over shingle, it would be easy to believe that Nellie would rise. Halfway down, they crept around the bend of road and listened. A rat shot across their path and scampered into the Bolts, making Jiddy jump and the stretcher tipple. Annie didn’t utter a word, but Betsie swore as they righted themselves and waited until Jiddy tugged the blanket so that they shuffled forward again.

Jiddy’s heart pounded but she couldn’t let on how jittery she felt. She could only imagine how close Annie was to letting out a scream and she’d never known Betsie so quiet, but they were almost at the slipway, and the flat beach would be a relief. Finally, they reached the dock and, exposed in the open space, Jiddy sped up, tottering with the effort. The clatter of Betsie’s clogs ricocheted around the buildings. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw their white faces bobbing behind. They couldn’t stop now, and they half jumped, half fell onto the beach. where they almost tipped the body.

“Let’s wrap her up now,” Annie suggested.

“Should have done this straight away,” said Betsie.

Jiddy pulled a knot tighter and didn’t answer. Soon, they were carrying Nellie between them, slipping and sliding and popping bladderwrack under their boots. Jiddy kept her eyes on the goal ahead and let the crash of waves be her guide.


When they rested near the promontory of Boggle Hole, catching their breath, Jiddy walked towards the water.

“How are we going to get her out there?” said Annie.

“Why, more like,” said Betsie. “We should have buried her in the woods like I said.”

“Nellie didn’t like the woods,” said Jiddy.

“She didn’t like the sea, neither.”

“She didn’t like Robin Hood’s Bay!”

Nellie didn’t like anything!”

They exploded with laughter, bending and giggling with the relief of it.

“Nellie should be laughing with us,” said Betsie. “She liked to laugh.”

If Nellie had been standing on the beach, Jiddy would not have been with them. She knew that. Betsie was right: she and Nellie weren’t friends, but they had understood each other, and the memory of Nellie’s desperation haunted her.

“We should say some words,” she said.

“Annie reached for Jiddy’s hand. “Yes, say something.”

“I’ll say something,” said Betsie. “I were closest to Nellie.”

“Go on, then,” said Jiddy, putting her arms around Annie’s shoulders.

Betsie cleared her throat and clasped her hands together. She nodded to them. “Do same.”

They stood, Betsie on one side and Jiddy and Annie on the other, hands gripped tight, eyes closed.

Jiddy would have been happy if no-one spoke. The crumble of foam on the pebbles and the deeper sense of waves lifting and the wind catching their skirts seemed all that was needed. A sea burial. A warrior’s grave. That’s what she’d want for herself.

Betsie’s feet shifted. The cold night air chilled their faces and Jiddy’s hair fluttered free. She hoped Betsie would realise that there were no words to say and they could instead listen to the ebbing tide.

Betsie cleared her throat again.

“I wish Nellie were here,” she said.

They waited. Jiddy opened her eyes. Betsie had turned her back to them. Taking Annie’s hand, Jiddy led her to stand by Betsie.

“Shall we all hold hands?”

They stood in a circle, looking at each other, then away, then over each other’s shoulders, unable to maintain eye contact.

“I love Robin Hood’s Bay,” said Jiddy. “I love the sea and the woods.”

Annie glanced sideways. “I’m scared of them all, but I don’t know owt else. Except Whitby, and I didn’t like Whitby.”

Jiddy smiled. “What about you, Betsie?”

“I dunno.”

“Do you want to leave Robin Hood’s Bay like Nellie did?”

“If Nellie can’t leave, no-one can.”

“Jiddy tugged Annie’s hand. “Is that what you think?”

Annie stared at Betsie.

“I think we should have left Nellie on gibbet,” she said.

“Nellie’s spirit has already left Bay,” said Jiddy, “but we can make sure her body goes as well.” She looked from one to the other. “If Nellie could be, she’d be as far from here as she could. That’s what she wanted. We understand that, don’t we?”

Annie and Betsie nodded.

“So, we do this for her? We set her free?”

“It’s not fair,” said Betsie. “You can try and go off with a soldier when he leaves Bay or find some fisherman or whaler if you’re lucky, but it’s not fair you’re killed for it.”

Jiddy held her tongue. She couldn’t say Nellie was a traitor and that she’d tried to push the blame on others. Now wasn’t the time. Nellie had left herself no more choices, and that was the tragedy of it.

“Nellie could have walked away on her own two feet,” she said instead. “We can all do that.”

“With nothing in her hands or belly and all alone? What choice do lasses like us have?”

They fell silent again, listening to the tide. Jiddy had chosen smuggling, but that could also have you swinging from the gibbet.

“You two go,” she said. “I’ll take Nellie out.”

“No, we’ll stay,” said Annie. “We’ll wait for you.”

“Won’t Nellie come back when sea turns?” asked Betsie.

“I’ll get her into slipstream,” Jiddy said. “Current’ll carry her down coast, and she’ll not be recognisable if anybody does find her, will she?”

“Don’t say that.”

“We only know who she is because we took body down.”

“Stop it.”

“What I want is for tide to take her out. That’s what I’m counting on. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I get her out far enough.”

Jiddy pulled off her boots and handed Annie her shawl. Together, they dragged the body into the shallows until Jiddy waded out alone, pulling Nellie with her. As the water deepened, the waves lifted so that Jiddy had merely to guide the body while the other two watched from the shore. With water lapping at her thighs, she pushed the shrouded body in front, so she could swim and then, with a final goodbye, Nellie drifted out to sea.

Chapter Two

Spring 1796

The sea rasped with the shadow of a schooner. White foam roared against the headland, and spray fizzed in the night air. Jiddy tucked stray curls back under her shawl, watching the water. The wind had picked up, and a spring tide swept into the Bay. They’d not seen Nellie’s body since they’d taken her out, but this was a rough sea, and they all knew corpses could wash up months after being lost. She tried not to think about it but rather about the task in hand and trusting Nellie would stay away.

Shrouded figures stood knee-high in the bitter water, tense and waiting. Jiddy stumbled as the shingle dragged under her boots.

Movement. Andrew splashed towards her, holding an oilcloth parcel. No-one spoke. It took all their effort not to drop the precious packages into the foam.

“Tek it,” Andrew spat through his teeth, face a pale, dripping scowl. “And stand closer to me. You’re wasting us time.”

Jiddy grabbed at the parcel, but he let go before she had a proper grip. He turned his back, striding a few paces into the dragging backwash. Knees bent to hold the weight, she adjusted her grasp, wet fingers slipping.

She’d be damned if she dropped it. She was the only lass trusted on being tough enough for this lark, and she’d not let any of lads think they were better than she.

Passing the waxy package, she made sure the lad behind her had a good hold before turning back to the sea and whatever Andrew presented next. Wiping a hand over her eyes, she blinked away the fine mist whipped by wind off the water.

A package jabbed her side, and she startled. Andrew again. She grabbed the parcel.

“Don’t do that, you frig pig.”

He shoved the package into her arms. “Then be ready.”

The lad behind was ready, standing so close she bashed into him and they swapped an anxious look. She’d have to buck up. They couldn’t afford mistakes. This time, she was prepared and took the next parcel and passed it on even though her arms and back were aching and she shivered, damp under her clothes.

Glancing past Andrew, she checked to see if the schooner had started to pull away, but its shape still loomed near and its groaning tilt snuck through the dark.

It has to be finished soon. Please let it be soon. With three lines of folk passing goods, they’d surely be reaching the end of the cargo and be done and gone before preventives got word of the run.

Big Isaac was right. The howl of the wind and crashing of sea against the promontory round at Boggle Hole and along at the causeway meant no-one could reach them from either end. Soldiers could come over the tops, of course, and down to Stoupe Beck, but who’d risk that with a sky threatening a torrential downpour? They’d never think villagers would be out on a night like this or that a ship would risk a battering on Yorkshire rocks. But Baytown folk had to be out helping whether they wanted or not. Goods would have to be stacked at the back of the cave here at Stoupe Beck, and next day, those snug in their beds right now would retrieve the Valenciennes lace, rum and salt packages and take them up the tunnels, out over the moors and into rich folks’ homes.

Carrying an oilskin parcel, she shook her head to clear her face of spray. This was madness, even for them. It was too hard in this weather, wind squalling and knocking them all sideways. In truth, if she wore breeches like men, she’d not be gusted like a ship at full sail. She’d like to see Andrew trussed up in mounds of material. Maybe she should borrow a pair of breeches; that was worth thinking about. She’d not dropped anything she’d been passed, though, even with skirts to battle, while others had dropped boxes and barrels, a couple even in the sea, splashing up water and curses from lads already numb-fingered.

“Let it be done,” she wished. “Let it be done and we can be off up tunnels and home to our beds.”

And then, in a flurry of activity, they were done. Big Isaac, Andrew and others emerged from the water and strode past her and up the beach. Still others followed. On the cusp of waves, the Dutch schooner turned, taking its rasping wood and snapping sails into the gloom. She’d not be a sailor tonight, not for all the silk and lace she could cram under her bed.

She envied Jonas, who’d be tucked up warm at the farm. Rightly, he should be out, waiting on the clifftop with his horse and cart to load and disperse goods inland, but it was too wild a night for carriers to be out, getting wheels stuck in mud and sodden ruts on the moor. Never mind; she’d soon be snug in her bed too, and tomorrow, when they met on the sand to check on each other, they’d kiss and cuddle and hopefully more besides, and she’d tease him for being a soft nicky-ninny.

Catching her skirt, she hurried up the beach, jostling with others as they neared the cave entrance. They were all eager to be out of the biting wind.

Once inside, people’s anxieties and complaints of the night’s conditions spilled into the dim space, lit by lanterns that hung on the back wall. Already folk had disappeared in the crack that hid a winding tunnel up to the cottages. Big Isaac organised the stacking and hiding of the night’s contraband, and Jiddy, relieved to be done, slipped into the tunnel.