On Wilder Seas
194 pages

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'A thrilling historical novel.'
David Nicholls

'In this gripping tale of true feminine courage, strength and spirit of adventure, Nikki Marmery gives voice to a woman who, like so many others, has been written out of history.'
Martine McDonagh

'On Wilder Seas is a gripping adventure story of an extraordinary journey half way around the world by a woman who was almost completely written out of history. Nikki Marmery brings Macaia (Maria) vividly to life along with a tremendous crew of compelling and believable characters, including Drake himself.'
Mandy Haggith

'This is a lively, spirited account of the epic voyage made by Maria, a woman who was a mysterious passenger on Francis Drake’s Golden Hind…thoroughly researched and vividly written, with a host of colourful characters. The brutality, horror and discomfort of life on board a 16th century galleon and the wonders and dangers that the crew experiences are skilfully evoked.'
Sally O’Reilly

April 1579: When two ships meet off the Pacific coast of New Spain, an enslaved woman seizes the chance to escape.

But Maria has unwittingly joined Francis Drake’s circumnavigation voyage as he sets sail on a secret detour into the far north.

Sailing into the unknown on the Golden Hind, a lone woman among eighty men, Maria will be tested to the very limits of her endurance. It will take all her wits to survive – and courage to cut the ties that bind her to Drake to pursue her own journey.

How far will Maria go to be truly free?

Inspired by a true story, this is the tale of one woman’s uncharted voyage to freedom.



Publié par
Date de parution 16 mars 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781789551143
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0200€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Legend Press Ltd, 51 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HJ
info@legend-paperbooks.co.uk | www.legendpress.co.uk
Contents Nikki Marmery 2020
The right of the above author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available.
Print ISBN 978-1-78955-113-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-78955-114-3
Set in Times. Printing Managed by Jellyfish Solutions Ltd
Cover design by Simon Levy | www.simonlevyassociates.co.uk
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, and place names, other than those well-established such as towns and cities, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
Nikki Marmery has been shortlisted for the Myriad Editions First Drafts Competition and the Historical Novel Society s New Novel Award. She previously worked as a journalist at Incisive Media.
Nikki lives in Amersham with her husband and three children.
Follow Nikki @nikkimarmery

Book One
MARCH - MAY, 1579
MARCH, 1579
16 50 N
On the day the treasures of the East are unloaded in the harbour of Acapulco, the feria begins. When the cloves, cinnamon and nutmegs, musky sandalwood and camphor oil, the silks, porcelains, ebony-wood and elephants -teeth carvings - when all has been weighed, taxed and released to the merchants, the husks of the galleons inspected for contraband and sent on to the shipyard for repairs - when the scurvy-sore crew are released at last to pray thanks for their lives: only then can the Fair of the Manila Galleons begin.
Now, the scorched and dusty town doubles in size. Here come the arrieros, three-legged with their staffs, leading mule-trains down the treacherous mountain path. In iron-wheeled carts come the merchants of M xico and Jalapa, shaded under rich awnings. Soldiers to protect the cargo, and the Viceroy s officials to inspect, oversee and record. On foot come the Indio hawkers and begging friars, the gamblers and the whores. By sea, the masters of the Lima ships come to fill their holds with silks to cover the calves and perfumes to scent the temples of lusty Lime os.
And here too, come I, borne here on a Lima ship, unwilling and unasked. I slip through the crowd, among these knaves and sinners, past prodding elbows and bony knees, squeezing myself wherever there is space, to bid and barter, as they do, for the cargo laid out upon tables, rugs and stalls.
Yes, I will fight for these treasures too, because only a fool sees the sun and does not ask why it is there. My grandmother was right in this as in most things. I know the sun is there to warm and delight me, as I know what can be bought here for ten pesos may be sold in the ports of Guayaquil, Paita and Lima for twenty.
If I am careful, that is. For it is not permitted. Everything I earn belongs by right to Don Francisco, since all that I am, my labour and my body, are his, may the Virgin spit on his sword and the Devil shit in his face. But if I am not discovered, it gains me some few pesos to put with the little I have in my pouch. One day it will be enough to pass to an agent to buy my freedom.
And I must be quick about it, for soon we sail. The bell of the Cacafuego rings out from the harbour. Already, her banners and pennants are raised and kicking at the wind. The red and white cross of the King of Spain flutters from the topmast. The marineros leap like monkeys about the rigging.
I run. To the back of the plaza, beyond the Hospital de Nuestra Se ora de la Consolaci n. I push past merchants snatching, haggling, outbidding - past porters and slaves stumbling under the weight of their parcels, the painted women weaving their way, bold-eyed, through the crowd. Past the children squealing with delight at the acrobats tumbling on the wooded hill, and the Indio musicians, whose song of harps and flutes floats above it all. But the scaffold stops me. Two slaves await there today. Both men at least - not children. Chained by collar and cuffs, ready for boiling fat to be poured upon their naked flesh. Runaways, then. Caught running for their freedom in the hidden places of the mountains. Their eyes are fixed there now: on the steel-grey rock rising behind the town and beyond; to the unseen narrow passes and secret valleys that would have shielded them.
I will not look. I fly. Past the torture of the slaves, to the alley where the meanest merchants linger. To the stall of the mestizo Felipe, who will keep some offcuts for me. I see him through the crowd from afar. Fuller in the belly than when I saw him last: he prospers. Bales of Chinese silks, cottons of Luzon and muslins from India overflow from three full barrel tops.
Maria! He welcomes me with outstretched arms and I fold into him. He still smells of the long voyage from Manila: the sour sweat crusted into his linen and the pitch that can never be got out of canvas.
I pull away from the stench of his armpit. What have you for me?
Nothing, moza, I thought you dead. Where were you last year?
I do not wish to think of where I was last year. I reach out to feel a beautiful silk of emerald green. God has been good to you, Felipe.
I have been good to me.
How much for a piece of this?
He snatches it away. I cannot discount that, he shakes his head. I have a family. He raises his brow and I realise I have not asked.
How is Nicol s?
Well, he nods. He misses you. He looks both ways to see who is about.
Come back with the ship, he urges. Give your master the slip.
I fold my arms. Four times I have made the crossing to or from Manila and four times I made my peace to die. Twice I sailed in a fleet that lost a ship and all who were in it. Twelve weeks or more of the eternal grey sea and unblinking horizon. And what is the point? Nicol s is all very well. He is a dear sweet child but he is not my own. And Manila is no different from Acapulco, or M xico, Veracruz or Valperizo. I am a slave in every corner of this New World.
Felipe shrugs. This one I can give you for eight pesos. He offers me a bolt of black silk. A little embroidery, make a mantle of it. You can sell it in Lima for fifteen.
I scowl at him. Four.
Five, he smiles. And this - for your hair. He shows me a length of calico.
I eye it greedily. My hair has been uncovered, at the mercy of every marinero who would tug and grab at it, since Gaspar the cooper pulled off my silken wrap and threw it in the sea.
I take it and gather up my salt-stiff curls into a fine double-knot at my forehead. Such relief. I fish out five coins from the pouch at my waist, poking about to check how many remain. Some forty, or thereabouts. One hundred and twenty I will need, this far from the North Ocean ports - and that is if Don Francisco will take the money for my freedom, which I cannot think likely. I fold the silk and put it inside. On second thoughts, I tuck the pouch inside the waist of my skirt and arrange my camisa to hide it.
The bell rings out again from the Cacafuego and I embrace Felipe. I hold his head to my breast as if he were dear Nicol s, and I run. Into the back alleys, between the crude fishermen s huts of mud and straw. Past the marineros waiting outside the whorehouse. Around to the harbour - battling through the soldiers on patrol and the custom-men signing off each bale and package that leaves the port - to where the ship sits, laden and heavy in the water.
I watch her awhile. She rides close to the harbour wall, moored to an ancient ceiba tree. A tall ship: so high is the forecastle she looks like she will fall into the sea. Don Francisco is on the maindeck - I can tell his gait anywhere. He walks slowly, head down, as if he picks his way through a mess of dripped tar. Every now and then he raises his eyes to look about: behind the gallery, down the hatches. He is looking for me.
If I had the courage of the men on the scaffold, I would race the other way. Up the path to the mountains. To find the Cimarrones who live out their lives freely in hidden jungle forts. Or I would sail with Felipe, back to Manila, where there is at least dear Nicol s to caress and spoil. But I am short on courage, as I am of most things.
Well there, negra! I freeze as I am pulled back into the alley from behind. A filthy hand over my mouth, and the stench of fish-breath and wine in my face. By all God s whores, it is Pascual, the pilot of the Cacafuego .
What do you here? he sneers. He releases my mouth to push my head back sharp by the chin, searching with his other hand inside my skirts. He cannot resist the opportunity to force his fingers hard inside me, bending me double with the pain. I close my eyes and bite down on my tongue. Ay! he brings out my pouch. You keep two treasures inside your skirts.
Pascual takes out the silk, and pours the coins into his palm. I wonder, he says. Does Don Francisco know of this? Is it possible you trade on his account? For these small and paltry sums?
I hum to block out his noise. I know what is coming.
Or, more likely, you steal from him. Withholding from your owner his rightful earnings. He pockets my forty pesos, folds the silk inside his doublet and hands me back my empty pouch.
But do not fear. I will save you the whip, negrita. I will not tell him.

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