Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Welcome to Sally's book-a-day-for-2017 blog. If unfamiliar with the blog, scroll down.

Dolphin (Post 116)

Dolphin (2002), is developed from a fragment of a real story, but also owes something to the tales of resourceful serving girls. Ten-year-old Cathie is disconcerted when her father comes back from the docks with a maid servant to replace the one who left to be married. Dolphin, named because she born on a ship of that name, is three years older than Cathie, but smaller; a waif transported for stealing a horse. As Cathie tells the story, her mother at first insisted Dolphin should be returned and an older and experienced maid should be brought, but Cathie intercedes, asking that the child should at least have a cup of milk. Mother says she may stay until morning... but of course Dolphin immediately sets to to prove her worth.
   She is industrious, insouciant and never can remember to call Mother, Ma'am, preferring the more homely Missus. Sean Casey, rather than Master, is Mister to Dolphin. Treated well and properly fed, Dolphin develops into a happy and capable girl, admiring Cathie's good fortune of receiving a gold brooch without envy. Cathie is the one who feels the injustice.
   One day when Cathie and Dolphin are alone in the house, Bad Jack, an escaped convict, pays them a visit. Dolphin hides Cathie and puts her brooch in the bread she is about to bake.  Mister's guineas go into the syrup, and Missus's new vase into the flour crock. Cathie, listening to Dolphin helping Bad Jack to food and chatting on about her employers, goes cold. Will Dolphin betray them?
   Of course Dolphin doesn't, and it devolves she added Epsom salts and syrup of figs to Jack's meal. Mister is so pleased Dolphin kept Cathie safe (and his guineas) he offers her a gift. The wily Dolphin asks for a cow and by the time she earns her Ticket of Leave, she is well on her way to becoming a colonial success story.  Years later, Cathie reports that Dolphin comes to visit sometimes, bring her children to play with Cathie's.
   Dolphin gives a fairly rosy picture of a waif's fortunes, but there were convicts who were did well. Some were placed with decent families and some, once freed, married into local families and ended up at a higher social level than their one-time employers.
   Dolphin is named after a real woman of the era, who was named after the ship on which she was born. Cathie is named after an old friend in the writing business. As for the tale of the jewellery baked in a loaf of bread...maybe the original source was true and maybe it wasn't. Who knows?

About the Blog 

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. She runs and Prints Charming Books. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. If you enjoyed a post, or want to ask about any of my books or my manuscript assessment service, post a comment and I'll get back to you.

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