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Wehad been at sea almost four months. Swallows swooped near the railings, indicating land nearby. Mrs. Cavendish likened these busy, twittering creatures to the dove with its olive branch. She was right, and within another day villages were spotted along the coast. The water became noisy with dozens of tiny rocking boatloads of Indians. Bumboat men, Mrs. Cavendish called them, shouting to be heard over the cries of the villagers as they boasted of their merchandise, hoping to sell coconuts, bananas, or tamarinds. I hung over the railing, watching as the natives threw ropes with baskets attached over the ship's side. Some of the crew called down to them in a strange tongue that I couldn't identify, putting coins into the baskets. The baskets were lowered, and then came up again, filled with whatever the sailors had requested. I longed to try the strange-looking fruit, but Mrs. Cavendish, with a slight shake of her head, indicated that it would be beneath us to purchase anything in this way.
During the last few days, as we grew ever closer to our destination, excitement grew in me. At first I attributed it to the beauty of the water and sun, the flying fish sending little droplets of water onto the smooth sea, but then realized it was something else. I detected a difference in the atmosphere, and whether it was the air itself or the degree of heat I couldn't say. Perhaps the smells carried in the wind contributed to the unexplained breathlessness I experienced. My nose filled with the strange smells of an unfamiliar populace, the scents of unknown vegetation. I felt as heady as I had when twirled in my first quadrille. --from The Linnet Bird
"From the Hardcover edition.
Linda Holeman has been a writer-in-residence, editor, and teacher of creative writing. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada.
"Spellbinding . . . The Linnet Bird is a highly satisfying story of the triumph of will over circumstances." --Orlando Sentinel "A once-in-a-lifetime read. Holeman is a master of dramatic tension and of seducing a reader's attention." --The Toronto Globe and Mail