The pressgang pillaged our hamlet. We women, we thought we would be safe. We thought our men would be safe.
We were wrong.
I could not let them take him, my brother. he was too weak, too young, too necessary to keep Mother company. I could be spared, I could adapt. Dickon could not. He was Mother’s favourite, she and I were too different. Not a day would pass when we did not bicker, when I tended the crops one way, and she would undo all my handiwork. I could not stitch or spin or weave to her satisfaction. Dickon – he knew how to manage her, he could do all the things that I failed at so miserably.
I dressed as a boy, looked like a man, and the men of the impressment took me.
I am here now, aboard HMS Magnanime, about to go into battle with the French, yet again. I am slight, I am nimble, I can ascend to the very top of the highest mast and not succumb to the pull of the sea. I am the youngest, the best, so says the captain.
I am homesick. I am seasick. But I am glad.
Her’s this week’s entry into the lovely Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, where she has asked us to use the word ‘press’, either on its own or as part of a word beginning or ending with press as our inspiration.
The British Royal Navy was in the habit of using pressgangs to forcibly recruit people into service. For non-officers, there was no real concept of choosing a life at sea in service as a career, so the pressgangs (formally the Impress Service) would scour the country to select suitable men. Contrary to popular legend, they did not have the power to recruit anyone other than seafarers. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story!
Please do take part in Linda’s weekly prompt – you never know what will come into your mind! Please also pop along to read other entries – they will be many and varied!