2024 Young Or Golden Writer
Manuscript Type
Logline or Premise
A foolish young American caught during the 1837 Canadian Rebellion, is sentenced and transported to Van Diemen's Land, endures unspeakable hardships in different penal stations, has a disastrous love affair, and makes a daring escape on a whaling ship, leaving him a saddened changed man .
First 10 Pages

Chapter One

Rebellion and Punishment

On a clear crisp December morning 1837, the St-Eustache church bells began tolling and did not stop. In the far distance, to an accompanying brrrap—brrrap—brap-brap-brap of drums and the trill of pipes, English troops in long dark-blue winter coats, marched up the King’s Road toward the village on the Rivière des Milles Îles thirty miles northwest of Montréal. Infantry, artillery and cavalry, all officers in full dress regalia, filed past farms and houses at an imperious yet leisurely pace while anxious farmers warily watched out of their small windows.

In the dingey upstairs room of the house not far from St-Eustache Church, William Durrow sprang from the bed, pulled his fur coat over his nakedness then hurried to the window and peered out. Below, he could see grey-clad Patriots running into the houses either side of the snow-covered street, while others aimed toward the church and presbytery.

The tolling continued, fast and urgent. Rounds of gunfire echoed from the outskirts of the town.

Above the din, someone banged on the door and yelled ‘Adelie—come on!’ Shivering, William turned to the woman sitting amid the rumpled bedding. ‘Who’s that? What does he want?’

Ignoring him, she tugged her clothes on, raked her unruly hair atop her head then reached for her scarlet leather boots.

‘You’re not going out there—you can’t!’

She shook her head. ‘I am a Patriot, William, and I swore to fight—you know this.’

‘No—the English won’t care that you’re a woman. They’ll just shoot you down like a dog.’ He strode over, hand outstretched for hers. ‘If we leave now, we’ll have time to get to the mountains then make for the American border.’

She went to push past him but stopped and stared him in the eyes. ‘You said you supported us, so prove it—join our fight!’

William faltered. Yes, he had said that, but being an American, it might not go well for him if he was caught.

With a dismissive puff, Adelie stormed to the door and slammed it after her.

Muffled voices resonated on the landing then William heard a clunk outside the door. He ran over and tried the latch; it was jammed. His temples began to throb—had she deliberately locked him in? Would she come back? If she didn’t, and the English found him, they would presume he was a Patriot and possibly shoot him. Churning, he went to the bed and huddled into the comfort of his coat. Holed up in this Patriot lair, he was caught as effectively as a trapped rat.

Arriving in Montréal two months ago, his one bag containing the few clothes he’d thought to pack before fleeing his parents’ house, he quickly found Canada far colder than New Jersey. It wasn’t just cold, it was bitter, which meant buying a warmer hat, gloves, and coat. This led to meeting Adelie Càron, alias La Rouge.

Sashaying along the street in red boots, vivid red scarf, and red-plumed hat, she’d looked like an exotic bird compared to the dour Montréalers from whom he’d asked directions. “Come with me,” she’d said in her whispering French. “I know the perfect shop”. She did, yes, but the cost was more than the purse he’d brought with him, and when she insisted that she pay the difference, he was too embarrassed to argue.

The epitome of a gentleman in a thick fur coat and hat, the gorgeous Adelie on his arm, he soon found himself in fashionable salons and giving piano recitals. When asked about his background, he lied in saying he was a trained pianist; he didn’t want anyone to know he’d left home because of arguments with his father over his failure at West Point Academy. And what could he say? Since childhood, he’d wanted to be a pianist like his mother, not follow a rigid, mind-numbing military career.

Apart from salons, Adelie led him to secluded houses on the outskirts of the town where her friends often gathered. Surprised at his command of French, these members of their Société des Fils de la Liberté plied him with questions about American democracy and its republic. In turn, he heard their grievances against Great Britain and their hopes for change, for representation in parliament, and recognition as citizens with equal rights. Farmers, shopkeepers, tradesmen, politicians, and others, some said they would negotiate with the government. The more forceful argued that the British repression of French Canada was purely designed to destroy French culture and religion.

Although understanding the Sons of Liberty’s desire for change, when they chose rebellion, William doubted their chances of success, despite that nearly three weeks ago at St-Denis in the Richelieu Valley, a force of 800 Patriots made a stand against several British regiments and won. Two days later, however, at St-Charles nine miles away, they suffered a devastating defeat. Knowing the English would exact brutal revenge, Adelie and her friends fled Montréal for the Patriot stronghold of Saint-Eustache in the mountains.

Now, glancing at the depression beside him, William choked up. What a fool he was to believe he’d been in love. Lust—and it had to have been lust—had blinded him to the fact that all Adelie had wanted was another recruit for her Patriot cause.

The steady and aggressive beat of drums broke his thoughts. He hated the sound of drums. Every day at West Point it was drums—morning, midday, evening. He would even hear them in his sleep.

The staccato crack or weapons erupted outside. Hurriedly dressing, he went back to the window and looked out. With the acrid powder smoke everywhere, the whole town appeared under siege. Then the church bells stopped, and he heard the stamp of boots and rumble of wheels. The rumble ceased, someone shouted orders and in but minutes, the deafening roar of cannons shook the walls of the house.

Between salvos, he heard a woman yell “Cochons anglais! Barbares!” Despite the danger, he craned to see. English pigs? Barbarians? It was Adelie—he knew it! Rifles cracked then a man shouted, ‘Up there!’ Bullets thudded into the shutters and outside wall. William dropped below the windowsill and huddled there. As the shooting went on, he smelt smoke. Wisps began curling under the door—had the soldiers set the house on fire? He had to get out, but if he jumped from the second storey, he could break his bones, be shot, or both.

Panicking, he ran to the door and tried to force the handle. Whatever was jammed under the outer latch seemed stuck tight. Grabbing the heavy chair near the wall, he repeatedly slammed the lock-plate until the obstruction dislodged. He gave one mighty push, the door swung open, and acrid smoke billowed in.

Covering his nose and mouth with his coat lapel, he dashed into the corridor, descended the staircase to the lower landing only to find flames licking up from below. His eyes smarting, he ran along the landing to the nearest room, pushed inside, went to the small window, and wrenched the stiff casement open. He climbed onto the sill to jump out and heard ‘There’s one—get him!’

The balls missed. He landed in a mucky drift and lay there, momentarily winded. Shooting erupted around him. Climbing to his feet, he saw bodies sprawled in ugly configurations. Further, men were being pursued, and some shot at close range. He spotted another body. Despite the thick, hooded grey coat, red knitted hat, and waist sash, typical to the Patriots, the boots were what caught his attention. He stumbled through the slushy snow to her side.

‘Adelie? Adelie? He turned her over. Half her face was gone.

Soldiers appeared from the smoke. One snarled ‘French bastard!’ aimed straight for Adelie and viciously bayoneted her abdomen.

In a fit of rage, William sprang at the man. He vaguely heard ‘No—take him!’ He did not see an oncoming rifle butt.

Chapter Two


In late February 1839, Defence Counsel, John Roebuck, entered London’s Newgate Prison then followed the turnkey to the section reserved for those condemned to hang. The smell of urine, excrement, sweat, and vomit wafted along the dank corridor, and Roebuck pressed his kerchief to his nose.

Ahead, the turnkey stopped outside a heavy, ironbound door, set his lantern down then grappled his key into the lock. He pushed the door wide, stuck his head inside the cell and yelled ‘Hoy! You got a visitor.’ He gestured for the lawyer to enter.

Roebuck bent under the massive lintel then straightened and gazed into a cell approximately eight feet long by six feet wide. A Bible and prayer book lay on the narrow shelf embedded into the left wall. The iron sconce above it contained a stubby half-melted candle. Below this was a smelly uncovered waste pail. The only place to sit being a stained straw mattress atop a rickety bedframe, Roebuck knew he would have to conduct the meeting standing.

He focused on the grim-faced young man outlined in sallow light filtering through the upper barred window. Twenty-three-years old, educated, and from a good family, William Durrow could not have fallen further from grace if he tried. The court found it hard to believe that someone of intelligence would get involved in another country’s affairs, especially a rebellion. What mainly convinced them of his culpability was that as a cadet of West Point Military Academy, he’d been trained in armaments and their use, making him an ideal recruit for the Patriot cause. ‘No doubt you’ve been expecting me, Mr Durrow?’

William eyed the half-open door. After a year’s imprisonment in Montréal, arguing, hoping, and praying for release, the only difference between Canada and Newgate was the cold. He fixed on Roebuck, his last hope in this hell. ‘I’ve been hoping you’d come, sir.’

An avid supporter of legal reform, last December, when Roebuck got word that thirteen of the several hundred American and Canadian Patriots caught after the recent armed rebellions had arrived in England, he chose to act as their Defence Counsel. Lacking creditable evidence against nine of the group, and despite the intervention of the former Governor-General of Canada for the other four, the wrangling between the Upper and Lower Canadian courts prevented an acceptable verdict. Thus, the accused were shipped to England for judgement.

With the London trials taking the most of January, Roebuck recalled how the judges laughed when he read out William Durrow’s testimony about following a woman to St-Eustache; typical American stupidity, being one of their comments. But Roebuck did not give up. His client was young, impressionable, and just because he’d been overcome with passion for the woman—a known Patriot, it did not mean he was involved with their cause. He was not caught in possession of arms, he did not actually fight, and he only attempted to assault a soldier because of his grief at the woman’s death. Despite this, the Crown was not disposed to mercy: Durrow was guilty by association.

‘William, my colleagues and I have done everything we can to get you off the charges—’

‘Have I been acquitted?’ William interjected.

‘Your compatriots are on their way to Portsmouth to board the Marquis of Hastings. You are to join them directly.’

William stared, incredulous. ‘We’re being sent home?’

Roebuck had to clear his throat. ‘The Marquis of Hastings is a convict ship.’

‘Convict? But Mr Roebuck—what happened with my petitions? And my parents’ petitions to Lord Durham?

‘William—your father did not submit a petition.’

‘What? But when in Montréal, they said they would write to the Governor asking for my release.’

‘Your mother did, but after reading the charges, your father could find no excuse for your behaviour.’

His temples pounding, William fell onto the bed, thinking of the day he last saw his parents—his mother in tears and his father grim-faced and fuming. ‘But wasn’t my country’s ambassador going to intervene on my behalf?’

‘We tried, but because the Crown is determined to prevent further rebellions in Canada, they want to make an example of those involved, especially Americans.’

William spoke but his words were so faint, Roebuck leaned close. ‘Sorry . . . what did you say?’

Bleak-eyed, William mumbled ‘Where are they sending me?’

‘Van Diemen’s Land I believe.’

From his lessons at West Point, William recalled that Van Diemen’s Land was a splodge at the bottom of Australia. It was also thousands of miles away. His stomach churning, he clenched the edge of the grimy straw mattress, the crackle loud in the silence. Not only had his father rejected him, so too had his country. There seemed no hope for him now.


Loraine Sat, 03/02/2024 - 10:26

The below is a copy of what I received as recognition that I've entered. However, there seem to be some mistakes.

1: I'm sure I didn't choose "Screenwriter" as a role. It should be writer.

2: Somehow, I have been ascribed the wrong sesames; it should be "Female".

Sorry about this, but it wasn't easy filling in all the details, so I probably made mistakes.

Hope this can be amended.

Membership Fee

ItemFeeMembership Start DateMembership Expiration Date

Select A Submission Package - Bronze Submission Package 2024£40.00February 1st, 2024August 31st, 2024

Amount £40.00

Date February 3rd, 2024 7:41 AM

Transaction # 8TD492750J724442X

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Submission Signup

First NameLoraine

Last NameAnderson



State, County or ProvinceVIC

Choose a RoleScreenwriter

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How did you hear about the awards?Have entered in the past

Age Range55 Plus