The Diary of Pearl Farrell


Chapter 3

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

I must confess, my dear descendant, that my initial encounter with Taine was not what I would have termed a genial one.  My arduous journey combined with the disturbing sight of my gravely ill husband had left me more than a little harried. Taine’s manner, which I had foolishly misinterpreted as both boorish and unfavourable, did little to improve my disposition.

And yet, I recalled how impressive Taine appeared in his long cloak, profuse with bright red feathers, his hair pulled high into an impeccable topknot and his face marked with a tempest of graceful black spirals.

“Dr Hanley broke tapu,[1]” Taine said in a voice devoid of any inflections.

I gripped onto the mother-of-pearl handle of my small parasol and swiftly glanced at Mrs Dunstan. “Tapu?”

“A little like our laws,” she said with an dismissing shrug.

Dr Hanley breaking a law? I immediately vented my vexation at such a preposterous idea.

Mercifully, Taine appeared unperturbed by my outburst.

Mrs Dunstan took my hand. “The good doctor may have simply pulled a leaf from a tree where the native’s ancestors sleep; a seemingly innocent act to us but one of great wrong-doing to them.”

“The Doctor is very good,” Taine said. “I can make the doctor whakanoa[2]”.

Again, Mrs Dunstan enlightened me. Taine was a Maori priest and wanted to purify my husband from a supernatural entity.

The proposition troubled me.  How could a Tohunga help my dying husband, an acknowledged practitioner himself? With little choice, I acquiesced, not ignoring my own urgent prayers to The Lord Almighty. After many long hours of perpetual incantations, Dr Hanley was bathed on the banks of the Wairoa River. Taine touched him with a karamù[3] leaf, then allowed the river’s gentle ripples to set the leaf free.

“It takes away bad spirits,” Taine said. “The doctor is better now.”

I waited for the morrow and prayed.


Wairoa, 12th December, 1873

My dear descendant,

Dr Hanley has made a remarkable recovery and has returned to his doctoring although I fear his medicines are doing little to cure the Maoris. I do not profess to understand the cause of Dr Hanley’s own odd illness or the unorthodox nature of his healing. But, I remain much obliged to Taine.

Several families have settled in newly built whares – comfortable gabled cottages constructed from reeds and flax of all things. Dr Hanley’s home is not unlike them, a little less distinguishable but just as restful.

I have learnt much about the Māori people since my arrival to this peaceable settlement, shedding my voluminous petticoats to join them in their daily lives. The other English wives declared it wasn’t my station to mingle with the Maoris as I did. I didn’t care.

Oh, I have much to tell you.

More importantly, I need you to know the truth surrounding the unjust acquisition of Maori land.

And I pray that in your lifetime, you can make it right.

[1] Spiritually sacred, prohibited

[2] Free of tapu…

[3]…the takutaku, involved touching the patient with a karamū leaf, which was then floated downstream. The malevolent spirit would be carried to sea and then to Te Waha o te Parata (a huge whirlpool, caused by a great monster), and finally to the underworld. Freed of the spirit, the patient was then sprinkled with, or immersed in, water.

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I can’t deny this is a challenge.
Hi Rosemary
I found your piece to be very cinematic in its execution. Well done.
Kind Regards
That’s a great chapter, Rosemary. Well done. Full of drama and interwoven with Te Reo. This serial just keeps getting better and so does our protagonist. She is very likeable and I love how she is taking up the new culture that she is becoming immersed in.
Rosemary, you have done yourself proud!! This serial is really becoming interesting. I love your description of the Maori rituals and their inherent beliefs. Great research and great piece of writing.
Thank you Ken, Mike, Angela and Hemali. This was one the hardest chapters I have done and I wasn’t sure if I pulled it off. Your comments are much appreciated. 🙂
Rosemary, you can be sure you pulled it off. I am really enjoying the amazing depth of research that is going into this serial. Writing demands so many skills of the writer and I am in awe of the writers of this serial. The standard is incredibly high, which is really exciting. I love the fact that not is the research superb but so it is the voice giving us a genuine colonial feel. Marvellous!
Totally agree with Suraya. I don’t want to wax lyrical but I thought of Ken Follet when I read this. His capture of the Colonial voice is perfect and yours was very much there. What I also liked was the ‘mature’ language… After many long hours of perpetual incantations, Dr Hanley was bathed on the banks of the Wairoa River… The first paragraph was so good I read it twice – what a real puller that is. Terrific work, Rosemary
Thank you to all of you. I am beaming!



Ghost Ship


Chapter 3

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

The first thing that hit Adam as he stepped off the sloped companionway and into the Mess was the god-awful stench, like rancid salted pork and seriously spoilt rum.

One of the drunken men lay sprawled out on a nearby bench-seat.  His short, chubby arms hung like sausages in a butcher’s chill-room. He was snoring, throaty, erratic snores trumpeting in short bursts. Drool dribbled from his thin, cracked lips, landing in a chunky, pasty-coloured puddle.

Adam shoved his hand hard against his nostrils and cringed.  “What the….”

From his immediate left, Gerard appeared wearing an impressive look of confusion, all wide-blown eyes and crinkled frowns. “That’s Shark-tooth Sal,” he said, “spewed his guts out… tried getting him to the Head, clean him up, but he just keeled over.” Gerard then motioned to the slumped figure by the far wall. “The other one is Squid-Lips Pete… prefers being called Squiddly.”

Adam stilled, found Gerard’s matter-of-fact tone highly disturbing.  “Tell me you are joking.”

“I wish I was, Sir. But it gets even stranger when you listen to what Squiddly has to say.”

They wove through several wooden tables, all perfectly aligned like well-seasoned soldiers, strong and dependable. Squid-Lips Pete however, appeared anything but.  His green eyes rolled in true groggy style as he clumsily stroked his long, wiry beard, an ambush of grey and black hairs and who knows what other less desirable visitors. Tattoos coated his sun-baked arms, most noticeably the clichéd image of skull and crossbones. He wore loose pants roughly cropped just below the knees and a long, dirty-white sleeveless shirt.

Squiddly managed a short stare.  “Why be ye lookin’ at me slops like that?”

Adam attempted to speak, but couldn’t.

Thankfully, Gerard stepped in. “Squiddly, this is Adam Sheffield. He wants to know what you’ve told me.”

Did he? Adam was beginning to wonder.

Squiddly’s wobbly gaze oscillated between the two men. “I be a pirate,” he slurred. “True blooded… right back to me great granddaddy days. We be all pirates, even them righteous scum who marooned us here, just for takin’ a few pieces of eight.”

Adam avoided looking in Gerard’s direction, afraid what he’d see in his expression. Instead, he breathed deeply and squatted on his haunches.

“You’re trying to tell me that you and the men on the African Star, including your Captain, are bona-fide, old-world pirates.”

Squiddly cocked a lop-sided, toothless grin. “Aye.”


Adam whipped off his cap, used the back of his hand to wipe his hot, moist brow. This was crazy stuff, surely nothing more than some pathetic farce to gain control of the African Star. Something cold, unfriendly brushed his neck. He shivered, imagined time slow to a mere crawl. What the hell was going on?

“I be thinkin’ ye want your ship back.” Squiddly said. “I be thinkin’ ye want me help.”

“And you’d be thinking that, why exactly?”

Squiddly rubbed his hands together. “For them doubloons, of course, plenty of them pretties for all of us.”

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What a fun chapter, Rosemary! I love your descriptive writing (arms like chubby sausages) and how you’ve shown Adam’s lost demeanour. I didn’t need to see Gerard’s face either. I can totally imagine his expression 😉
Thanks so much, Donna. 🙂
Well, me be a-thinkin’ them thar doubloons are gonna’ be a-causin’ a lot of trouble but I won’t be trippin over me tongue too much. Great chapter and fun to follow.
Thanks Ray 🙂
I smiled all the way through this. It was clever, witty and those characters were just amazing to imagine. I loved Shark tooth Sal’s arms whose chubby arms hung like sausages in a butcher’s chill room. This is very clever! Loved it!



Chapter 2

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

I don’t like landing either.

That hiccupping thump of the landing gear, that initial jolt when touching down and the final, loud rumbling slide that follows. I slam my eyes shut, press my small feet hard into the floor, as if that alone will help stop the plane sooner.

And then… just like that, it’s over.

I sigh, a bit too heavily.

“I don’t know why you do this job, Lasiandra.” The voice is controlled, well intentioned and belongs to my older co-flight attendant, Aolani. She is flawless with her honey-coloured skin, her sleek, auburn hair and large, wide-set eyes that remind me of my grandmother’s prized muffins, all round and chocolaty. She slowly shakes her head while removing her seatbelt. Not a single hair falls out of place.

I throw her a feeble smile and pry my traitorous body out of its death grip. When I stand, my legs feel like sun-worn rubber. “You know why.”

“Because of what’s out there?” Aolani hooks a levelled thumb over her shoulder. I follow it to the aircraft window.

Out there is exotic Tahiti.  “Of course,” I say.

“Oh… Lasiandra.” She says it as if my best friend had just died.  I didn’t much care for those sorrowful, downturned eyes of hers either.

“It’s just another glamorous playground,” she says.

And I, for one, am ready to play.

I say nothing more. I straighten my shoulders, put on my best plastic smile and follow Aolani into the throng of eagerly awaiting passengers.


The crew meets later at the Intercontinental Bar. It is a view-lover’s haven, with its crystal waters and red-hot sunsets.

Aolani falls into one of the high backed rattan chairs. She sighs with about as much zest as a geriatric rat. Her hair is wet like mine.

“What have you girls been up to?” This question comes from Matt, a middle aged, very married co-pilot.  He is ogling me with those big come on eyes of his. I shiver, recalling the last time he did the same, when he partnered it with a horribly clichéd, Want me to show you how a real pilot flies?

“We snorkelled in the ‘Lagoonarium’,” I say.  I thought the whole, unblemished ocean pond amazing. But, Aolani appeared strangely indifferent.

I ask Aolani if she wants her usual drink. She nods and I stroll to the bar. It’s all glossy, local wood, palm-scented thatching and fragrant smells of fresh frangipanis. I order and wait, mentally plan tomorrow’s agenda. A mandatory workout at the gym is first, I think. Later, a spa… perhaps a long massage, and even another swim.

The cocktails arrive and I indulge in its fruity rum-laced tang. It immediately melts my muscles and I relax.  This is when I realise that every agonising bump of the flight is worth it.

“I’m thirsty,” shouts a disturbingly familiar voice. “I want a drink. I… want… it… now.”

I turn in its direction and instantly freeze.

It is the same boy from the plane.

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Submitted by Suraya Dewing on Sat, 2016-01-30 11:28

This chapter was such a lot of fun. I loved the twist at the end and loved this line, “I shiver, recalling the last time he did the same, when he partnered it with a horribly clichéd, Want me to show you how a real pilot flies?”
Great chapter.
Oh Roseyn, I looooved this chapter!

Probably too late to admit that I’m the mother with those 3 kids 😀
They are 10, 8 and 6. The 8 year old boy is the one with the penetrating voice (so add ADHD and you know what I’m going through :-D) He is also a soprano in the school choir where the other two are Alto’s (?) The choir teacher says he sings super high!

I have never been with them on an airplane and don’t believe I’ll ever do until they are teenagers and willing to be sullen 😀

But I would love to go to Tahiti!
Haha!!! I haven’t been to Tahiti either. But after researching the Intercontinental Hotel, it’s now on my list.
Yes, have taught many, many ADHD children. Love them as I do, don’t think I could be on a plane with them. School camps were enough!!
So Happy you enjoyed the chapter. 🙂
Nice work Rosemary, I so want to be in that bar with those ladies. It sounds like heaven – children and all! I confess I have a two year old and will take our first long haul flight with him later this year – eek!