April 16, 2015

Redhead Duck

Readhead Duck-8555

The Redhead Duck (Aythya americana) is a fairly rare sight in my neck of the woods. Redheads are far more common in Western Canada where they breed. They are seen here (north-west corner of Lake Ontario) during the winter and early spring months. This was the first time I’d gotten close enough to get a nice clear photograph of one.

Redheads feed mainly by diving, but sometimes by dabbling, eating aquatic plants, molluscs, insects and small fish. They can be identified easily by their bright red head and gray back. Many Redhead hens lay their eggs in the nests of other ducks.

 

About this image:

  • Nikon D300 digital SLR with AF-S VR Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED + 1.7X Nikon teleconverter
    on a Manfrotto 055XB tripod with a Black Widow HD Mark 2 Gimbal Head.
  • 1/800 sec at f/4.8, ISO 200 RAW image processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.6

April 14, 2015

Times of My Life – Family Background

Jamaican Campbell Family

Ispent my first 15 years on the West Indian island of Jamaica. Those were the years 1940 through 1955. My time there ended just about 300 years after the island had come under British rule and about seven years before Jamaica achieved full independence from the United Kingdom.

My family roots go deep into Jamaica’s past, with the residency of one branch possibly predating the English conquest in 1655—that being the Jewish line of my paternal great-grandmother.

When I began to trace my roots, I decided to concentrate on identifying as many second cousins as I could. So this gave me eight core Jamaican family names on which to concentrate: Campbell, Brandon, Ramsey, Bogle, Reynolds, Binns, Stephenson and Nash. These, of course, are the surnames of my great-grandparents.

I’ll have more to say about these families as we go along, but first I’ll begin with a summary of my dad’s family to start us on our journey.

Generally speaking, family research predominantly follows male lines as these are more easily tracked through government records and are the names that usually survive throughout a person’s lifetime. For me, that meant finding my earliest Campbell ancestor. He turned out to be Alexander Campbell of Scotland and Jamaica.

The First of my Campbell Line in Jamaica

Alexander was likely from the Greenock/Glasgow area of Scotland. His mother was Agnes McKinlay who lived at Glasgow at the time of Alexander’s death in 1826. He died at sea on the ship Glasgow while returning home to Jamaica, to which he had immigrated several years earlier. Though not officially documented, I believe Alexander was closely related to May/Marjory who may have married Thomas Crawford. May and Thomas lived at Collander and Greenock in Scotland and had four children: Mary, Agnew, Arabella and May—these names are mentioned in Alexander’s will.

Alexander owned Robin’s Hall, in Manchester, Jamaica and Turnsbull Pen, in St Catherine, Jamaica, estates which he left in trust to Marie Louise Sabate (later Darling) as guardian of

Note, for more about Alexander Campbell and Marie Louise Sabate see Campbell-Kenny, Donna. A Journey Through Time in Jamaica: The Story of AC Campbell & His Ancestors. Toronto: Stewart Publishing & Printing, 2003. ISBN 1-894183-41-X
their children, including their infant son Donald Binnie Campbell (1825-1855), my 2nd great-grandfather. Alexander never met this son of his since baby Donald was born during Alexander’s last trip overseas.

Though most of his estate was left to Marie Louise Sabate and his illegitimate children in Jamaica, Alexander also left legacies to Misses Arabella and Marion Crawford, both of whom lived in Scotland. Their brother Agnew Crawford was named as one of the executors of Alexander’s will. Alexander’s will gave no indication as to the nature of his relationship with the Crawfords, but they  probably were close relatives for their mother’s maiden name was Campbell and, from a Canadian source, I heard speculation—based on an 1814 letter from a George Campbell to Agnew Crawford—that George Campbell was Agnew’s cousin.

And that’s about all I know of my Scottish connection, at least as far as traditional genealogy goes. I have, though, had my DNA tested and used to connect to deeper roots in that country. The results are intriguing, but more about that at another time.

Marie Louise Sabate was born abt. 1780 in St. Dominique (Haiti) and, apparently, immigrated to Jamaica as a refugee. By all indications, she was an educated and cultured woman who spoke both French and English. She was, apparently, Alexander’s “housekeeper” as common-law wives in Jamaica were often called in those days.

Marie Louise bore Alexander Campbell five children: Agnes, Alexander, John, Jane and Donald. They all had the surname, Campbell, but were illegitimate. Marie had children by three other men without benefit of marriage. In all, she bore 11 children.

On 8 Sep. 1836, Marie married Robert Darling, a magistrate in St Catherine, Jamaica and the proprietor of several properties. At the time of Robert’s death in 1854, he lived at Malton Plantation, Manchester, Jamaica.

Marie Louise died in 1851 as a woman of substantial property, leaving in her will jewellery, chaise and carriage, livestock, furniture and other household items.

According to the Jamaica Almanac (1833), Marie Louise Sabate had been listed as proprietor of Turnbull estate in St Catherine, with 35 enslaved persons and 101 stock. She was also listed as a beneficiary of compensation for enslaved persons on Robin’s Hall estate, Manchester, Jamaica, and Turnsbull Pen, St Catherine, Jamaica, as guardian of her son Alexander Campbell, jr when slavery ended. (About 4,000 British slave owners were compensated by the British government in 1833 for the emancipation of their slaves.)

Maria Louise also owned or had an interest in a tavern called the Ferry Inn, which is mentioned in her will. (I have a copy of her will, but it is difficult to read due to age, ink “bleeding”, etc.)

Slave ownership

Slave ownership has been part of my Jamaican family history from the beginning, with many members of the family being listed in government records of the time as owners of slaves. In fact, it is not likely that a Jamaican of European descent can delve into his family background and not be confronted with the reality of slavery, a cruel institution by which sub-Saharan Africans lived a lifetime in harsh bondage and were too often worked to death, assuming they did not first succumb to one of the diseases that ran rampant through their communities.

But slavery was a fact of life and has influenced too much of Jamaican demographics and that island’s history and culture to be easily ignored. Mercifully, the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in Jamaica and the rest of the British Empire on 1 Aug. 1834. Bondage lingered on in Jamaica in the form of “apprenticeship,” which too came to an early end on 1 Aug. 1838.

Over the years I have read extensively on the subject and I found especially informative accounts that were written before emancipation and so were without the influence of modern values, novels and movies. I hope, as part of this project, to document my research with my own thoughts and interpretations.

Donald Binnie Campbell

Alexander and Marie Louise’s youngest son Donald Binnie Campbell—my 2nd great-grandfather—married Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman (born 1826) and fathered my great-grandfather Alexander James Campbell (1848-1917).

Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman’s father was Thomas Penny Kellerman (abt. 1789-1834) who was the proprietor of Bloxburgh Estate, a coffee plantation in the Port Royal Mountains. Her grandfather was Jacob Kellerman, who was known as “John.” He was of Prussian birth and had arrived in Jamaica in the 1750s where he was naturalized on 1 Oct. 1762.

The author Charles John Samuel Thompson, in his book Alchemy and Alchemists (first published as The Lure and Romance of Alchemy 1932)said that John Kellerman was:

a man of gigantic stature who, in order to avoid being pressed into a regiment of giants formed by Frederick the Great, fled to the West Indies [Jamaica] where he married.”

In 1764 John Kellerman was granted 300 acres of land, which became the Bloxburgh Plantation in the Port Royal Mountains. Bloxburgh was on top of a hill north of Bull Bay. It was a coffee estate with about 300 slaves, which also grew limes, oranges, cinnamon, cocoa, cotton and tamarind.

Bloxburgh Estate

In Benjamin M’Mahon’s book—Jamaica Plantership: Eighteen Years Employed in the Planting Line in that Island. (London, Effingham Wilson: J. Matthew Printer. 1839)—the author from Ireland tells of working as a bookkeeper on the Bloxburgh Estate. He writes that slaves were very badly treated and was shocked by many of the things he saw. He describes how the slaves were shackled together whilst they worked in the fields, and flogged to force them to work harder. The practices on the estate eventually caused him to leave to look for work elsewhere on the island. (The full text of M’Mahon’s book can be found at this link.)

Here’s an excerpt from Planters and Slave Resistance: Two Original Accounts, by Erin Hodge:

M’Mahon’s experiences at Bloxburgh Estate also enabled him to describe the ways in which the interactions between various plantation managers influenced the treatment of the resisting slaves. When the proprietor, T.P. Kellerman, formed a relationship with Charles Austin, a neighboring plantation overseer described as ‘a monster in human shape,’ Kellerman rapidly became just as merciless. As for the ‘good natured’ overseer, Henry P. Roberts, he was dismissed and replaced by Daniel Wait, described as ‘crafty and cruel.’ M’Mahon pointed at the following as the reason for this rapid change in administration: ‘No man could succeed in the planting line, but one whose heart was hard and adamant; he must have no pity for the Negro….’’’

By the way, the Charles Austin mentioned above is one of my 4th great-grandfathers from a female line—we don’t get to choose our ancestors do we. Family research is not for the squeamish!

By the time of Jacob’s death, Bloxburgh had grown to just over 1,200 acres, and he owned several other properties as well, including the nearby New Ramble Plantation and a house in London, England.

Thomas Penny Kellerman, one of John (Jacob’s) sons, married his neighbour, Charles Austin’s daughter Mary Ann Austin (1801-?).

The Alchemist

Thomas Kellerman’s older brother John Kellerman (1775-?)—the other son of  Bloxburgh’s founder—made wealthy by the wills of his grandfather and father, acquired some notoriety in England as a man of fashion with a passion for horse racing who became an eccentric and lived in a dilapidated mansion with high walls around it in the village of Lilley in Hertfordshire.

C.J.S. Thompson devoted several paragraphs to him in his book Alchemy and Alchemists under the topic of The Last of the Alchemists. And according to Richard Alfred Davenport’s Sketches of Imposture: Deception and Credulity, this John Kellerman “was a singular character, who shunned all society, carried six loaded pistols in his pockets, barricaded his house and filled his grounds with spring-guns [to discourage would-be intruders].” He claimed he could make as much gold as he pleased and even offered to pay off Britain’s national debt. The memory of John Kellerman, my 3rd great-grand uncle, still lives on in the village of Lilley where he is known as “the alchemist, Johann Kellerman.

At this link is a record of an 1828 interview with John Kellerman done by Sir Richard Phillips as part of his, A Personal Tour through the United Kingdom.

On that note I’ll end this section and pick it up again in my next post starting with my great-grandfather, Donald Binnie and Elizabeth Matilda’s son, Alexander James Campbell.

April 12, 2015

The Times Of My Life – Preface

Mine has been an ordinary life. Why then, some may challenge, do I chroni­cle it? Let me explain.

Some years ago, Donna Campbell Kenny, a cousin who lives in Australia, asked for information about my family—she planned to publish a book about our Jamaican branch of the Campbell family. After sending her some basic information, I began to wonder at how few mem­bers of my large and geographically dis­persed family I had kept in touch with over the years. That led me to use the Internet to locate some of those with whom I had lost touch. Within only a few weeks I found several relatives, some of whom I have never met in person. And, as the months passed, my interest in my family roots grew.

During that period, some stories I had heard about my Campbell family’s history turned out to be myths, which got me wondering about my true family origins? This question nagged at me, and over time I developed an increasing need to fill the void in my personal history. It was then only a matter of time before I launched a project to trace my ancestors.

As I gathered names and dates, it struck me as sad that so little knowledge about people’s lives remained for only a generation or two after their deaths. I found that few of my family and acquaintances even knew the names of their great-grandparents. 

This seemed especially true of Jamaicans who descend from British or European families and who have, to a significant extent, immigrated to far-away places such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

How delighted I would have been had I uncovered diaries or other personal journals describing their trials and tribulations, their politics, their ambitions and their descriptions of everyday life. How sad that the sum of one’s life should be a few words chiselled into the face of a tombstone?

Now rather than seeking justification for writing my memoirs, I am hard-pressed to find an excuse for not doing so, for I believe I owe it to my grandchildren to tell them something of their family roots.

This narrative will cover my recollection of my first 15 years, i.e., the years I spent in Jamaica and will include a lot of what I know about that island. This will be done in several parts beginning with a summary of my family background. As I write the individual sections, I’ll post them rather than waiting to publish until all have been documented. In time too I will append detailed family tree data for the genealogists out there who might find something useful from among my family records.

Perhaps in the future I will write something about my time in Canada, but that will have to wait for another time.

Family history research continues to be a hobby and open project, but I thought I’d better summarize and document what I’ve collected to date and include it in this record.

Let me now add a few words about truth.

Truth is a relative term. And while I plan to tell my story truthfully, my truth may not match that of others. Each one of us sees the past from a unique perspective. Like the English novelist Anthony Powell said, “Memoirs can never be wholly true, since they cannot include every conceivable circumstance of what happened.”

I cannot vouch one hundred percent for the chronology in the earliest parts of my story. And, although the events happened more or less as I describe them, some of their timeframes may be off a bit. Besides, while I want my story to be historically accurate (names, dates, etc.), I make no apology for my interpretation of events, some of which may very well differ from the recollection of others.

Moreover, I came from a middle-class Jamaican family, which meant more in the Jamaica of the 1940s and 1950s than it does in the Canada of today. Colonial Jamaica did not cause me the hardship and disadvantages suffered by many less fortunate Jamaicans. As such, I was a product of my time and saw things and interpreted events from a specific perspective.

 

Russ Campbell
April 2015

 

• Coming Next: Family Background…

 

Previous page: Front Matter

The Times Of My Life – Front Matter

 

The Times Of My Life
A Private Narrative

by Russell Garth Campbell

© 2015 by Russell Garth Campbell,
All rights reserved.

 

No part of this journal may be reproduced in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Parts of the section entitled Jamaican History and Culture was previously published in different form on the World Wide Web (WWW) as Jamaica, The Land We Love ©1996–2002 by Russell G. Campbell. All rights reserved.

Grateful acknowledgement is made for permission to reprint from “A Journey through Time in Jamaica: the Story of AC Campbell & His Ancestors” ©2003 Donna Campbell Kenny. All rights reserved; used by permission.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Russell G. Campbell
632 Belvenia Road
Burlington, Ontario, Canada L7L 4Z4

Internet: www.cycroft.net

 

DEDICATION

For

My dear wife Denisé Ann

My son David and his wife Michelle
My son Anthony and his wife Jeanette

My grandsons Brent and Aidan

and

My grand-daughters
Melissa, Danielle and Sarah

 

Persevere , Success is a journey,
not a destination

 

 

PART I CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Preface

Family Background

Pre-school Years

Port Royal

Kingston

Holy Cross School

Elise

Campion Hall School

Saint Ann

St. Ann’s Bay

Discovery Bay

St. Georges College

We Leave for Canada

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This narrative and the appended family trees could not have been possible without the contributions of several persons, notable my sister and brother-in-law, Diane and Vernon Vaz, and my cousins Rosie Corrigan, Jennifer Godfrey and Lister Reynolds who share my interest in family history. Fellow family researchers Cheryl Pinto, Angela duQuesnay Garcia, Dorothy Kew and Madeleine Mitchell also made valuable contributions.

Special thanks to another cousin Donna Campbell Kenny, for generously allowing me to use material from her book, A Journey Through Time in Jamaica: The Story of AC Campbell & His Ancestors
© 2003 Donna Campbell Kenny.

I am indebted to all of you.

 

Coming Next: Preface …

April 10, 2015

Double Jeopardy

doubleJeopardyA work of short fictionby Russ Campbell
© 2015 by Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved

Ian powell missed a date with the gallows because of a quirk of fate.
I’d followed the daily newspaper accounts of his trial and been incredulous when fate interceded on his behalf. At the final hour, despite evidence against him that had seemed overwhelming, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. I’m always looking for story ideas so, by the time closing arguments had been made, I’d accumulated a thick file of clippings for future reference.
According to published reports, Scotland Yard had charged Powell with the killing of his married lover. In his defence, he had pointed the finger at the victim’s husband, but after weeks of damning testimony and unfavourable cross-examination, there developed a general expectation that the jury would return a guilty verdict.
On the very day that the jury had retired to consider its verdict, however, the victim’s husband had been fatally injured in a motorcar crash, and reports of a deathbed confession circulated, casting doubt on Powell’s guilt. And while it isn’t supposed to happen, the sequestered jury learned somehow of the reports and voted not to convict Powell.
As it turned out, though, the victim’s husband had not really made a deathbed confession for, although he had said that he “took responsibility” for his wife death, he had not actually admitted to killing her. It seems that a journalist who had heard a second-hand account of the confession had leaped to a faulty conclusion and had sensationalized the supposed confession in his London tabloid.
Within days of Ian Powell’s release from custody, it slowly dawned on the public consciousness that an injustice had occurred. Ian Powell, it was generally believed, was almost certainly guilty as charged, but had gotten away with murder. Moreover, the principle of double jeopardy barred the Crown from seeking a retrial.
I spent the three months that followed the murder trial revising and proofing the manuscript of my most recent novel. That done, I embarked from Southampton on a voyage to visit my New York publisher.
###
At dinner on that first night at sea, I found myself sharing a table with, among others, a pretty widow from Vermont and a familiar-looking young man, who introduced himself as Brian Howell.
I hadn’t recognized Howell that first night. Besides, had I not later browsed through the notes I had made while in London—notes that included newspaper clippings about the Powell trial—I doubt I ever would have connected my congenial dinner companion, Brian Howell, with the notorious Ian Powell. He had, of course, changed his appearance—new moustache, shorter hair and eyeglasses—but I made the connection as soon as I saw his picture among my clippings.
As the days passed, my fascination with Howell grew. I’m a novelist, after all, and have, hopefully not too unhealthy, a fascination for the macabre—the more gruesome the event the more eager I am for all the lurid details.
Moreover, during the course of covering the Second World War for a newspaper, I had met several men who had taken human life. But this was different. Brian Howell, as I now knew the man, was the first person I’d met who had apparently taken a civilian’s life in cold blood.
A combination of morbid curiosity on my part and Brian’s disarming charm and self-deprecating humour drew me to him. Perhaps three grinding years of covering the bloody war had numbed my sensibilities, or maybe I was just a hack who smelled a good story and could rationalize befriending a murderer so I could sniff out enough details to interest one of the London newspapers for whom I sometimes wrote.
So, by the time I met Cordelia, a casual friendship had developed between Brian Howell and I.
###
She had said that her name was “Cor.” We had met before on one of my frequent strolls around the deck and had exchanged pleasantries.
But this, late on our second day at sea, was the first time we had chatted at any length. She was obviously much younger than I, but seemed so reluctant to talk about herself that I could only guess at her age. I hadn’t pressed her, for I find that not knowing too much about those you meet at sea adds “spice” to shipboard relationships—it gives them something of an air of mystery.
For the next couple of meetings, I contented myself with casual chitchat and quietly admired the pale beauty of her fine-boned features.
As we chatted, Cor struck a pose that I found rather provocative, but did it so guilelessly and with apparent disregard of the effect it had. She leaned backwards against the starboard rail, her hair trailing out behind her in the breeze like thick red smoke, her pale skin making a pleasing contrast to the indigo backdrop formed by the North Atlantic Ocean.
Her one-piece swimsuit was obviously damp, but whether from an earlier swim in the pool or from the ocean spray I could not tell. She wore the garment with poise and without self-consciousness—rather like a second skin. She appeared very fit, like someone who’d spent a great deal of time outdoors. Yet, the pallor of her skin seemed at odds with such a premise.
By our third meeting, we were chatting away like old pals. I find that people act differently on shipboard than they do at home—they are less formal or inhibited. They strike up friendships more easily. Or so it seems to me.
Cor chuckled at something I said, and as she did so, she leaned far back against the rail. Her movement made me apprehensive, and I reached automatically for her arm.
At my touch she said, “Don’t worry. I won’t fall, you know.”
She said this in a voice that sounded subtle different, a touch of intimacy, a hint of breathlessness. I found the change enchanting yet unsettling for the difference in our ages was too great for the sort of feelings I was experiencing.
“There’s a gale blowing up,” I said, responding to the mocking twinkle in her green eyes. “Didn’t you hear the warning on the public address?”
“Do you always do as you’re told?” She teased.
“When it’s the sensible thing, yes,” I said, immediately regretting my school-masterly tone. I had not wanted her to think of me as the “sensible kind.”
The weather continued to worsen. The wind snatched at our words, forcing us to move closer so we could hear each other better.
A spray of water broke over the ship’s rail and I said, “Come, we’d better go in.” Just then, a unexpected roll of the deck prompted me to clutch the railing.
Cor, though, rode the liner’s deck like a sailor.
“If you’re afraid, we can ride this out in one of those,” she said, motioning at the lifeboats lashed to the deck, her mocking smile still in evidence.
“I’d prefer to go inside where it’s dry,” I said.
Yet Cor stood her ground. Standing with her hands on her hips and her face tilted up at me, she offered a wordless challenge.
Oh, what the heck, I thought. At my stage of life—I was in my fifty-first year—romantic encounters are rare, though not unprecedented. Still Cor, although she was as attractive as any woman I’d met, had too recently crossed the threshold that separated women from girls.
When the deck pitched again, I almost lost my footing.
Instantly, Cor was at my side. First steadying me, then leading me away from the rail towards the lifeboats. And when she began loosening the lashing that secured one of their canvas covers, I did not help. Neither did I try to stop her, however. Although the improbability of the situation wasn’t lost on me, I was prepared to rationalize the unlikely circumstances as being an example of shipboard madness: that strange malady that strikes even the most doughty traveler.
With Cor lying at my side on a makeshift bed of life preservers, my lingering inhibitions dissolved. Wind snapped at the boat’s lashings; rain drummed on the taut canvas above us, seeming to keep time with the throbbing in my temples. The salty taste of Cor’s mouth intoxicated me. Even the smell of mildew and stale seawater within our enclosure could not dampen my passion.
“‘ey! What the ‘ell are you two about?” a voice demanded roughly. The words were accompanied by the rapid hauling away of the boat’s cover, and the privacy we had sought beneath it.
Chagrin. Utter humiliation. Words are inadequate to describe how I felt when, half-naked and in the heat of passion, I looked into the face of that seaman. My first concern was for Cor, of course. I needn’t have worried, though. She reacted with a blaze of savage defiance.
With a fierce cast to her features and with her eyes giving off a peculiar green glow, Cor squirmed from my embrace, and getting to her knees, beat back the intruder with a stream of loud invective.
Meanwhile, I made clumsy attempts at screening her naked torso, while at the same time, fumbling with the rolls of swimsuit bunched round her midriff. She reached back and shoved me away forcefully, leaving me to feel like such an ass—totally ineffective and irrelevant.
Further rebukes withered unvoiced on the sailor’s lips as, agape at Cor’s tensed figure, he visibly flinched and backed away, as if to counter the leap she seemed about to execute as a climax to her verbal barrage.
Unexpectedly, the tension, so evident in her just an instant before, evaporated. The glow in her eyes softened. Then, standing in the boat without a trace of self-consciousness, Cor slipped her arms through the straps of her swimsuit and adjusted the garment so it covered her breasts then, nimbly as a cat, she leaped onto the deck and strode towards the superstructure of the bridge.
By the time I composed myself and climbed from the lifeboat, she had disappeared.
“Sorry, mate,” the sailor said. He seemed to have regained his bluster. “You needn’t worry, mate,” he continued with a leer, “that one’ll be waiting for you; but I wouldn’t keep ‘er—” The remainder of his gratuitous advice was lost in the storm as I followed Cor.
I never did catch up with her. So, back in my stateroom, I showered and dressed. Then, before touring the public areas of the liner in search of Cor, I fortified myself with two fingers of Canadian Club. After an hour without so much as a glimpse of her, I gave up my search and, returning to my stateroom, I read until it was time for dinner.
As had become customary, I dined nightly with a group that included Brian Howell. All about were signs of opulence. Crisp white linen covered our table. Places were set with elaborately engraved silver-plate, Royal Dalton china and Waterford crystal. As well, we were served by stewards dressed in starched, white uniforms.
My choice of Lobster Thermidor and chilled Montrachet proved to be an excellent one, the food and wine improving my mood immensely.
As we ate, I gave Brian a brief, though censured, account of my encounter with Cor.
He listened attentively, occasionally interjecting in a discrete tone, “Why, you old dog.” Or he would say, “Good for you, old boy.”
When I concluded my account, Brian advised—with an encompassing sweep of his hand indicating the several unescorted women in the room and including the attractive widow from Vermont, “I’d write her off to experience, old son. Look about. There are lots of available and—if you don’t mind my saying so—more appropriate company to choose from.”
I’m sure he meant, “of a more suitable age,” for he added a soft rebuke, “Really, old boy. And at your age!” At this, he raised his napkin to his mouth and chuckled good-naturedly behind it.
Sound though it had been, Brian’s advice proved difficult to follow. The memory of Cor’s pale skin and the musky aroma inside the lifeboat lingered. Although my hunger for her grew, nevertheless, I could not escape a feeling that there was something unwholesome about the affair. Perhaps it was merely a result of our age difference.
Or, I wondered, had it more to do with the mortification I felt from being discovered by the deckhand? Without question, that had been a unique experience for me: an aberration in what, other than during the war, had been an orderly, rather routine life.
Overnight, the enigma that Cor had become impregnated my dreams and cost me a proper night’s sleep.
The gale of the previous evening had developed overnight into a storm, but had blown itself out by sunrise, leaving the ocean glassily calm and the air unseasonably warm.
Taking advantage of the weather, Brian and I played deck tennis for a couple of hours, ending up lounging shirtless on deckchairs near the swimming pool.
The following day, Cor reappeared.
We were again encountering heavy seas, but Brian and I were on the open deck, having chosen to defy the elements. For how long she had been watching us before Brian brought her presence to my attention, I don’t know.
“There you go, old boy,” Brian said to me, beaming boyishly. “That one’ll do very nicely.” He made no effort to disguise his interest in our spectator.
Cor’s reaction—for she must certainly have overheard his words—was curious. Clad in the same swimsuit she had worn at our previous meetings, she struck one of her poses: long legs planted apart, hips thrust slightly forward, arms hanging loosely at her sides. With each motion of the ship, she moved fluidly, shifting her weight to counter the roll of the deck. Her skin, pale almost to the point of translucency, showed none of the effects of the sunny weather. This I still found strange for she certainly did exude an aura of the outdoors.
As she approached, Cor had eyes only for Brian, barely acknowledging my presence. I introduced them, and as I did, that green light reappeared in her eyes—but only fleetingly. Brian was an instant conquest.
After an hour of being ignored, I rose to leave. Neither did they notice my movement, nor did they offer so much as a polite protest. They were like magnets of opposite polarity that had become locked in each other’s field of influence. I was more annoyed than I care to admit. After all, Brian and I had spent a great deal of time together since leaving port, and only hours before, Cor had seemed eager to seduce me.
That evening, still nursing a bruised ego, I dined at the captain’s table. At one side of me sat the purser, an American who I gathered had recently joined the ship’s company. At my other side sat the widow from Vermont.
The purser mentioned that he hoped to become a writer someday, and because of my recently publicized success, he sought encouragement. He was an engaging young man, and it was evident that everybody at the table enjoyed his company.
Part way through the meal, the captain was summoned to the bridge, leaving the purser to assume his duties as our host.
“I’m on my way home,” said the widow from Vermont in answer to my attempt at polite conversation. “To Manhattan, that is, then on to Montpelier from there.”
She told me she had been visiting her husband’s grave in France. This trip was a final obligation to a five-year marriage to a man she had known in person for a period totalling less than four months.
Her obvious interest in me helped salve my wounded pride. And, by the time a steward served desert—pink Champagne and Angel Food’s Cake with whipped cream and strawberries—I had warmed to her considerably and had decided she would make a charming partner for an evening in the ship’s grand saloon.
At one point, I described Cor to the purser and asked if he knew of anyone on board who fit her description?
The widow joined in. “Might not her name be a shortened form of Cora?”
“Or Cordelia,” I suggested.
“Well, I can assure you that she’s not a member of the crew,” said the purser.
This would have explained how easily she had ridden the pitching deck.
“And, frankly,” the purser added, “none of the passengers I’ve met fit your description of your mystery woman.”
“Of course, she could be from second class,” he suggested. At which point the widow seemed to lose interest and gave her strawberries and cream her full attention.
On reflection, the purser’s suggestion seemed self-apparent. Recalling the line-up of passengers I had observed on the docks at Southampton, I felt foolish for not having thought of it before. Immigrants taking passage to New York, I had overheard someone say.
I also recalled Cor’s swimsuit being a bit shabby—although, truth be told, until that moment I had not remembered it as being so. There was also her habit of appearing on deck during the worst weather conditions. In poor weather, crewmembers might be less likely to notice her trespass on the first class deck.
I could see now how obvious the explanation had been. It now occurred to me that Cor might have hoped to seduce a passenger from first class thereby improving the comfort of her trans-Atlantic crossing. But I quickly dismissed that thought as unlikely, for why had she then avoided me?
Perhaps, though, it was not so much that she had avoided me, as it was that she had been unable to make contact until bad weather again overtook the ship. Besides, when we did meet again Brian Howell had been with me. Cor certainly had wasted very little time switching her attention to him.
Whatever her motives, the important thing was that Cor had lost her mystery. I could now dismiss her from my thoughts.
Feeling pleased with myself, I turned my attention to the happy task of cultivating a relationship with the well-turned-out widow from Vermont. If only I could have foreseen the future.
###
The widow and I entered the dining saloon—we had become something of an item. Brian sat alone at a table eating breakfast. As we approached, he rose from his place and offered the widow the chair next to him.
“Brian, I’m surprised to find you eating alone,” I said. “Where’s your friend?”
He smiled. “I expect she’s still asleep, old boy. I haven’t seen her since last evening.” He spread fruit preserves on a piece of toast. “I made an early night of it; I was pretty well done in by midnight.” He smiled sheepishly.
From the corner of one eye, I noticed the widow blush and fidget with her napkin. “Still on for tennis?” I asked.
“Afraid not, old boy. As it happens, I’m to meet Cor in about twenty minutes.”
“It’s a wonder she hasn’t caught cold by now,” I teased.
“She is amazing, isn’t she?” he said, ignoring my taunt.
The poor fellow was obviously besotted with the girl. Not that I blamed him. To be candid, I viewed the affair with more than a little envy. Or was it outright jealousy?
“Brian, look. Is this … this involvement wise? I mean she …”
He stemmed my words with a stern look. “Listen, old boy, with all due respect, what Cor and I do is our own affair.” His admonition drew raised eyebrows from the widow and a hasty apology from me. We drank the remainder of our coffee in silence.
The widow excused herself. “Well, gentlemen, I’m off for my appointment with the hairdresser.” She looked at me and asked, “Will I see you later?”
“Try to avoid me,” I said as I stood up and kissed her cheek. “Let’s have lunch.”
After she was gone, Brian Powell and I strolled out onto the open deck. I’d reached a point where I looked upon Brian as a friend. Despite earlier misgivings about his past, his friendliness and disarming ways had quite won me over. After days at sea with him, I’d just about convinced myself that the jury had got it right and that, in fact, he was innocent. The man seemed as unlikely a killer as anyone I knew. 
A morning on the North Atlantic can be glorious, and this was one of those days. The ocean was a deep blue color and the wind formed low swells with smudges of contrasting white foam along their crests. Off in the distance, though, we could see we were approaching what looked like a thick bank of fog.
We chose our usual chairs near the edge of the swimming pool and sat down. There we passed the time discussing the state of professional soccer in England. England’s team had been a disappointment at the World Cup tournament, which had been played during the past summer. England’s side had failed to progress beyond the preliminary round. We agreed that the loss to the Soviet Union was especially galling, and that England’s only consolation had been a goalless draw with Brazil, the team that, inspired by a 17-year-old youngster called PelĂ©, had gone on to win the trophy for the first time.
As time passed, the weather worsened and, with no sign of Cor, so too did Brian’s mood. He became uncharacteristically taciturn. By noon, when fog threatened to envelope us, I was carrying the conversation with only the odd interjection on his part.
Noting that the temperature had fallen somewhat, I left Brian on the deck while I went below to exchange my windbreaker for a warmer jacket. By the time I returned to the deck, Brian was no where to be seen.
I looked towards the bow and I saw movement in the distance. Through a break in the fog, I could just discern Brian and Cor standing in an obvious embrace. With an involuntary pang of envy, I went back to my cabin.
### 
Later that day, the widow from Vermont and I were sitting and chatting in one of the smaller saloons. She agreed with me that Cor’s name was probably Cordelia. She remarked on how old-fashioned yet romantic the name Cordelia was. As she spoke, I thought how well the name suited Brian’s new companion, even though her morals were anything but old-fashioned.
Over the widow’s shoulder, I saw the purser standing in the doorway and waved him over to our table. As soon as he sat down he asked, “That girl you were asking about?” I responded with a quizzical look. “You were leading me on, weren’t you?” he added. “I guess I owe you one.”
“What for?” I said.
“Ah, come on,” the purser said, “I’ve already gotten into hot water over … what was her name? Cor?”
I nodded. “Yes, that’s her name. But why would you get into hot water?”
“Well,” he said fixing me with a sombre expression, “you’d better warn whomever told you about her that the captain will have his head on a platter if he doesn’t keep his trap shut and his nose out of the captain’s business. Rumours of that sort are bad for ship’s morale.”
“What rumours?” I asked intrigued.
“Rumours involving the captain’s wife, of course.”
“You’ve lost me, pal,” I said. “What are you going on about?”
The purser paused and studied my face. “Are you seriously trying to say that  you have not heard about the captain’s wife, Cordelia, or about her supposed love affairs with passengers?”
I shook my head. “The girl I saw was young… too young to be the captain’s wife. And, as a matter of fact, I didn’t know the captain was married.”
The purser said, “Well he is and to a very  young wife.
“When I couldn’t find her name in our records, I mentioned her to the first officer. What the hell? For all I knew she could be a stowaway. Jesus! did he ever get mad; damn near took my head off. Accused me of not respecting our captain … claimed I was spreading nasty rumours.”
So, the captain’s wife’s is a bit of a tramp, I mused. Poor bugger. Where does this leave Brian? As it was, the captain’s dislike of Brian had already become obvious. The widow from Vermont had only recently remarked on the captain’s snub when he had invited us to dine with him, but had not included Brian in the invitation. Eyebrows had been raised because all the others who formed our regular dinner group had been invited. Brian had been the only exception.
I said, “So you couldn’t find Cor’s name on the passenger list because she is the captain’s wife?” I cut him off before he could reply. “Then why haven’t we seen her at the captain’s table, and why didn’t you recognize her name?”
“Because, my friend, whoever told you about her did not tell you that our captain is a widower.”
At first, the significance of the purser’s words failed to register. When finally they did, I said, “But how is that possible? How … when did she …?”
“Die? She was swept overboard on one of our crossings. At least that’s the prevailing theory.”
“Theory?”
“Yes,” the purser said, “there were no witnesses, you see. There was also a missing passenger.”
Bloody hell! I thought, as I waited to hear more.
“Since then, at least once on every crossing, someone claims to have seen the captain’s pretty young wife on the forward deck. According to the myth, she seduces a passenger on every crossing.
“But come on, you already know all this. You must. Do you plan to write a story about this? You are! Aren’t you? Tell me the truth.”
I really was confused. Before I could reply, however, the purser made a face and continued, “Can you imagine how the captain must feel when he hears these tales?”
“I swear to God, this is the first time I’ve heard any of this,” I said. “How weird is this? Was there a formal police investigation? There must at least have been an inquest.”
“Oh yes, there was an inquest—death by misadventure. The captain did come under some suspicion at the time. Apparently, he was insanely jealous of his pretty wife and very sensitive about their age difference.
“Apparently, there was speculation that he had caught her with a passenger and chucked them both overboard. But that was just gossip. I’m sure no one took any of that too seriously.
“She died accidentally; the authorities all agreed on that,” he added. 
“Now just a minute,” I said. Somehow, I had begun to confuse past with present. It dawned on me finally that the purser could not be referring to Brian’s Cor, for the captain’s wife had, apparently, gone overboard several voyages in the past. But what a coincidence, I thought, as chills rippled up my spine. If the captain’s wife is dead, however, who then is Cor?
I must admit that the purser’s story unnerved me. Also, for some unknown reason, I felt compelled to pass it on to Brian—to give him a warning of sorts.
“You’ll have to excuse me, my dear,” I said to the widow as I stood up abruptly. “I know it’s none of my business, but I’m going to find Brian.”
Not waiting for her to respond, I turned to the purser. “Be a good fellow and see the lady back to her stateroom, would you?” Then I hurried from the saloon.
The deck felt slippery as I headed towards the bow. I was looking for Brian. Frankly, I was not at all sure what I would say once I found him. In spite of anything I might think, his relationship with Cor was a private affair. What right had I to interfere? Still, some inner voice urged me to find him.
Forward on the deck, partially obscured by wisps of fog, I saw three figures in some sort of confrontation.
“Christ! it’s the captain,” I hissed aloud. I could see a uniformed man was standing with two others. I stopped so abruptly that I skidded and almost fell. The captain was cursing loudly and gesturing violently at the other two—Brian and Cor.
I edged closer. Leaning forward and peering through the fog, I saw Cor’s face and immediately recoiled from the seawater-green glow of her eyes. She looked like an evil goddess, galvanized by the jagged streaks of lightening that intermittently lit up the grey sky behind her.
As though dumbstruck, I watched as her skin took on an unnatural, almost translucent quality. In the eerie light, she seemed to crystallize before my eyes. The effect was chilling and, for the first time since the war, I experienced fear.
Suddenly, Cor lunged at the captain. She raked at his face with both hands.
Warding her off with one arm, the captain grabbed her hair with his free hand. Cor fought like a possessed tiger. Kicking, scratching, biting, she backed the older man up against the rail.
Brian now intervened. He tried to get between the couple. I joined in to help him, but a moment later, an elbow crashed into my right temple and sent me sprawling.
I viewed the remainder of the struggle through a pink haze. Something I’ll never forget, though, was seeing both the captain and Cor go over the rail.
Somehow, at the last possible instant, Brian reached over the side and blindly grabbed the captain’s uniform. Then with both hands, he began to pull the captain to safety.
At this point, several members of the ship’s crew arrived on the scene. Brian, showing impressive strength, hoisted the captain so that his shoulders could be seen above the top of the rail. The captain’s face was contorted.
Still too dazed to help, I could only watch the scene unfold. It looked almost as though the captain was resisting Brian’s efforts to save his life, but I couldn’t be sure.
Two members of crew reached Brian’s side. I didn’t know this until later, but, apparently, they thought Brian was trying to force their captain over the side. They were too late, however, for Brian lost his grip on the captain and the older man slipped backwards into the ocean.
Boats were lowered and the ship circled the area for the remainder of the night, with the search continuing through the following day.
The authorities on the U.S. mainland were notified, and they sent search planes to help. They found no traces of the captain or of Cor, however.
During the search, the purser again checked the passenger list—no one was missing. He also accounted for every member of the crew. Only the captain was missing.
Of Cor, there was no evidence. Obviously, she had been a stowaway. Apparently, Brian and I were the only ones who had seen her go over the side. Moreover, we seemed to be the only ones who had ever met her.
The purser doubted that Cor even existed. He told me that. He said that he believed she was a figment of my imagination. He knew that I wrote about the supernatural and accused me of wanting to write about the “legend” of the captain’s dead wife. He even implied that I was lying to assist Brian. He said that I would do anything to sell my books.
Later, when we were less than a day’s sailing from New York, the widow from Vermont and I were again sitting in the one of the ships saloons. Quite unexpectedly she said, “Well, at least she had a fitting name.”
“Oh? Who is that?” I asked.
“Do you remember the first night you mentioned that girl’s name and we wondered what it might have been short for?” she said. “Well, the next day, I found a book about names in the ship’s library and looked up Cora and Cordelia. I immediately settled on Cordelia.”
“I remember that,” I said. “You remarked on how romantic you thought that name was.”
“Yes, and do you know what the name means? What Cordelia means?”
“What?” I asked.
“Daughter of the sea. Cordelia means daughter of the sea,” she said.
Before I could respond, the purser approached our table. “What a mess,” he said as he sat down.
Then, after some talk about the weather, I asked, “What do you think will happen to Brian?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. He’s obviously in a great deal of trouble. After all, several witnesses saw him throw the captain overboard. He’ll not be able to dispute that. Then, of course, there’s his personal history. That certainly won’t help. What a shocker that was.”
“Brian claims the captain went over the side during a struggle with a woman,” he said. “No offence, but that makes no sense to me at all.”
“According to Brian,” I said, “he pulled the captain to the edge of the rail, but the girl still had a hold of him. The Captain tried to shake her off, but he couldn’t. Brian said they were too heavy for him so he had to let them go or be pulled over the side with them.”
“Oh please, not that again,” the purser said. He sounded out of patience. “The captain’s wife’s been dead for years.That’s a fact. So please leave her out of this. You may want to work her ghost into this story so you can have a juicy plot for your next book, but it just won’t fly with me, or anyone else for that matter.
“What is this man Howell—or is it Powell—to you anyway? Why are you so determined to fabricate this tale to protect him?” The purser turned to the widow. “Have you seen this ghost of his?”
The widow from Vermont lowered her gaze and shook her head.
The purser glared at me, yet when he spoke his voice was calm. “See here. You know the man’s a murderer. Why are you trying to help him?”
I said, “I’m not making her up, damn it! I saw her with my own eyes. I’ve … I’ve touched her! And if you’re so sure Brian killed the captain, tell me why he would do it. What reason has he to kill the captain?”
“I don’t know his reason,” the purser said. “but I do know there was no love lost between them. Maybe it’s simply that the captain threatened to tell everyone who Howell really is. That would ruin his chances of starting a new life in the States and landing a descent job. That’s motive enough for some.”
“Well,” I said, resigned to be the odd man out, “I’ll testify to what I know, assuming there is a trial.”
“Oh, there’ll be a trial all right,” the purser said, “and Brian Howell will be found guilty of murdering the captain. The only question is whether he’ll hang for it.”
The ocean liner was British and, if found guilty, Brian would be facing a date with the gallows. “Not if I can help it!” I said.
“Dear,” the widow patted my hand. “He is right, you know. Think about it. You’ll be Brian’s only witness. Can you see the headlines in The Times? Best selling author of three books about the supernatural testifies that his friend was seduced by a ghost.”
###
For the second and final time, on May 12, 1959, Ian Powell stood on trial for his life. Only I testified on his behalf. Neither his nor my accounts were believed, however.
Ian Powell was executed On July 4, 1960.
THE END
____________ 
Nota bene:
A version of this work was originally published in 1980 under the title,
Cordelia,
© 1980 by Russell G. Campbell.

April 7, 2015

Waterfowl on a warm March day

This is the first entry in my new journal. I’ll start things off with images I took while on a walk in early March of 2010. That day, I took about 800 photos of some of the waterfowl that we typically see in the colder months here in Burlington.
Some of these birds live here year-round, but most have wintered here or are just visiting our area on their way to higher latitudes. It was a beautiful warm March day—very un-typical weather for Burlington at this time of year.
For those interested in the technical aspects of photography, these photos were taken with a Nikon D300 DSLR and an AF-S VR Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED mounted on a Manfrotto 055XB tripod with a Black Widow Heavy Duty Mark 2 Gimbal Head.
The master copy of all my shared images are stored at Flickr.com and can be viewed here.

Ring-billed Gull juvenile (Larus delawarensis)
Ring-billed Gull-7626

Bufflehead Duck (Bucephala albeola)Bufflehead-7558
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Ruddy Duck-7874
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)Red-breasted Merganser-7665
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Red-breasted Merganser-7885
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
Greater Scaup-8086

April 6, 2015

Site undergoing a facelift

The Cycroft Omnibus, the latest version of my online journal (formerly Cycroft Photography), is undergoing a complete facelift. My objective is to move from a narrow photography orientation to a more general one.
In this revised version,  I plan to continue with articles and essays related to my photography and to add a variety of topics covering my other interests, including fiction, non-fiction, topics covering Jamaica and my memoirs.

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