As most sea-tales do, my story begins with me running away from home. My sister Jeanette and I ran away from our strict, conservative French-English family when I was only 15, and she was 17 years old. After a few (mis)adventures, we ended up being part of a ship’s crew. The year was 1808, and we were aboard the HMS Jasper when tragedy struck.
As the sea thrashed, and the waves roared, our little ship was being tossed around. Lightning flashed, and our ship began falling apart.
Most people don’t realise that when a ship sinks, it acts like a whirlpool, pulling everything around it down. The only hope for survival was to keep swimming.
Jeanette was too far away to reach a lifeboat. She caught my eye and yelled, “If we survive this, Annette, let’s meet at The Cornwall Inn, 10 years from now, same time.” Then she disappeared.
I swam till I saw an empty lifeboat, which I climbed into and lay down on. I don’t know how long I slept for, but when I woke up, the sun was shining down upon the ocean, and there was nothing but water all around me. It seemed as if the storm had never happened.
Jeanette and I were originally from Devonshire. Cornwall bounded the west of good old Devon, and we used to go there once a year with our parents when we were younger. The Cornwall Inn was the only place our parents would leave us alone at. It was probably our favourite place in the whole world.
As I lay on the lifeboat I realised that my throat was parched, and with no water to drink, I was concerned. I picked up the oars and began rowing. Luckily enough, I had a compass. I went south-east, towards Cornwall.
I rowed for six days, before I saw land. My hands were cut and bleeding, and I could barely talk. It took another day to finally reach Cornwall. I must have fainted, because the next thing I knew was that I was being taken care of by a kind-hearted woman called Thala. She was a long-time resident of Cornwall, and had seen me lying by the beach.
I took two weeks to recover fully, and after that, I asked her to help me get a job. I got a job working for a woman who had recently moved to Cornwall, but almost never saw her. I only caught glimpses of her in the corridors. Rumour had it that she was a very sad woman who had no family.
Ten years had passed quickly. I walked into the Cornwall Inn very early because I did not know what time our ship sank. Only one woman was in the lobby. I didn’t have the courage to face her so I sat down near her. Just then three more women walked in and sat down as well. Now I was thoroughly confused.
One of the women started. I looked up into my sister’s face.
“Annette, I thought I would never find you! I don’t know why I said ten years. It’s been far too long. I’ve become a rich woman now, and I live in the only big white house in the whole of Cornwall with a lot of servants.”
I smiled wanly. She still talked far too much. And even worse, I had been working in Jeanette’s house all along. Neither of us had noticed the other, but something had drawn us together.
When I told her that, she looked sombre. “I wanted to be with you so much that I cut myself off, and was too foolish to see that you were before my very eyes. But now that we are together again, lets not leave or sail. We can live together in my sad white house and make it happy again.”
And Jeanette and I spent the rest of our lives together in the beautiful white house that echoed with sounds of our laughter.