Friday, May 17

A Letter from Baptiste

Marie, Baptiste's wife, finds an old tar to read her her letter.

16 May 1814

Dearest Marie, 

I miss you so! And the Boys! I suppose that by now they can say hole thoughts not just words. I am writing to you in English. Perhaps Mr Clark will read this for you. I have been trying hard to learn this. My friend Apple the Carpenter, and sometimes the Doctor, tutor me. I find that writing in English is much like talking in English. You no how English is almost the same as French, just pronounced incorectly? Witting is much the same. In English each letter has something to say, none of them seem to be there just to make the word more handsome. Once I became accustomed to this lack of beauty in English words it was not so difficult.

We are back on the Blockade of Baltimore and things are very dull except the times we chase after a prize. We have captured several, and I am entitled to an amount of money for each. It is called prize money. None of our captures have put up what could be called a fight, and do not fear for me in anycase, for when we come close I am safe below decks with the surgeon.

Things are so dull I find I become meloncoly. Most this is from missing you and the boys- but I find I also miss the small creatures of the land- birds in the morning and crickets in the evening. The only creatures here are rats and roaches. I do have some leeches- and they have become my friends! I won at cards them from an apothacary’s assistant when we were in Halifax. They are the good leeches from Europe. A  pressed man named Booke stole many for fishing bait. He and I later become friends and he told me he was sorry for thiefing them. He escaped in Bermuda. He offered for me to go with him, but I was afraid the risk was to great and the chance of success to small. I suppose he succeeded, for I have heard no more of him and I am sure news would have reached us if he were caught. But back to my friends the leeches. Dear old Messer Duvall once told me that their behavior changes with the weather, and I have found this to be true. Each morning I see what they are doing  and  compare it with the weather. They do more than you would thing a worm would do. Sometimes they climb out of the water and hang like grapes on the jar edge, sometimes they swim frantically and sometimes they even lay on the bottom on their backs.  The first time I saw this I thought they were dead, but now I know it is just something they do. I have found sometime I can predict a change in weather coming by what they are doing.

I have had one accident. A big pressed landsman fell down a hatch and knocked off a fellow coming down below him. I just happened to be passing below with a small oil lamp I use for cupping. Both fellows landed on me. I was nocked almost senseless with my face pressed into the oil from the lamp which caught fire! I was able to kill the fire with my cap, but it burned off almost all my side whiskers on the one side.  I shaved them off so the other fellows would not make a jest of me. I no how handsome you think they are- but I promise I will have them grown back buy the time you read these words.

I will close now. This letter will be sent out with others of the Doctor’s. He has made a friend of another natural philosopher in America, so it should not have a problem reaching you. My love to you and the boys.

Always your loving husband, 

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