The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Summary
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle opens in Liverpool during the summer of 1832 where Charlotte, accompanied by Mr. Grummage, is about to board a ship called the Seahawk. The other two families who were set to join her on the voyage don't show up, for whatever reason. Against her gut feeling, and the warnings of a couple of the crewmembers, Charlotte makes the journey anyhow. Also important: before the boat leaves the dock, Charlotte sees a shadowy figure steal aboard the ship. (Never a good sign.)
On board, Charlotte meets Captain Jaggery, a fastidiously dressed man with impeccable manners. She likes him immediately, and he asks her to be his eyes and ears (read: he wants her to spy for him, not undergo complicated surgery). She also meets Zachariah, a lowly black cook who's generous and kind, but whom Charlotte doesn't think she should associate with, as she believes him to be her "inferior" (5.1). Zachariah tells Charlotte about Captain Jaggery's misconduct on the Seahawk's last voyage. Apparently he beat one of the crewmembers until the poor guy lost his arm. Harsh? Yes. But Charlotte doesn't really believe it. Around this time, Zachariah gives Charlotte a knife called a dirk, a weapon with which to protect herself. He also gives her a set of sailor clothes (a miniature pair of pants and a shirt), which she doesn't wear, but stows in her cabin nonetheless.
One day on the boat, Charlotte has an adventure when she's attempting to retrieve her trunk of clothes from the steerage. All alone in the top cargo of the ship, she spies a grinning head at the foot of the ladder. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it's a grotesque face carved into a brown nut. Who put it there? Was it the stowaway she saw climbing onto the ship? She convinces herself it was probably nothing.
As the voyage continues, Charlotte spends her time in her cabin or sometimes reads to the crew. One day, though, Charlotte overhears plans for a mutiny amongst the crew. She immediately alerts Captain Jaggery. Grabbing his guns, Jaggery heads for the deck where he and the crew dramatically face off. The mutinous crew is led by Mr. Cranick, the one-armed man who's back for revenge. (He was the stowaway Charlotte saw climb onto the boat that night.) Captain Jaggery shoots Cranick (ouch!), and then picks a scapegoat from the crew to punish for the mutiny. Jaggery chooses Zachariah, who is the only one of the crew who stands up to Captain Jaggery and tells him he's a cruel guy. For this, both Mr. Hollybrass (the first mate) and Captain Jaggery beat Zachariah mercilessly. When Charlotte attempts to intervene, she accidentally flicks the captain with a whip. He's so not thrilled about this, to say the least. Also a bummer? Zachariah appears to be dead. The crew holds a funeral for him and throws a tied up hammock out to sea, which Charlotte assumes contains Zachariah's body.
As the first part of the novel draws to a close, Charlotte attempts to apologize to the captain for hitting him with the whip, but he flat out rejects her. Feeling forlorn and abandoned, she decides she must take responsibility for herself and atone for her actions. Charlotte then dons the trousers and blouse that Zachariah gave to her and sets out to join the crew.
As the second half of the book opens, Charlotte is now a member of the crew. She climbs the masts and learns to use her knife just like the rest of the sailors. Meanwhile, Captain Jaggery harasses the poor girl to no end. He also begins to steer the ship toward a hurricane so that the ship can take advantage of the strong winds and make better time. Dangerous? Um, a resounding yes.
Eventually the hurricane strikes the ship head on. During the storm, Charlotte loses her balance in the rigging. As she is about to fall, she gets saved by someone who looks just like Zachariah… Is it a ghost? An angel? She isn't sure. After the storm, the drama builds even more as Mr. Hollybrass is discovered face down on the deck with a knife in his back. Yikes. No one knows who killed the first mate, but Captain Jaggery accuses Charlotte of the murder and sends her to the brig.
As Charlotte awaits trial, Zachariah visits her in her cell. He's not dead after all, but has been hiding down in the hold. (The hammock thrown into the ocean was a decoy.) Charlotte is sure happy to see Zachariah alive! The good times, though, are short-lived. Charlotte is taken from her cell, tried, and found guilty by the captain and a jury made up of the crew. Jaggery calls her an "unnatural" girl and uses a chain of faulty logic to convict her. The men on the jury don't speak up because they're protecting Zachariah, who they assume is the one who killed Mr. Hollybrass. The captain sentences Charlotte to death by hanging.
After the trial, Charlotte awaits her execution. She and Zachariah put their heads together and realize that it must have been Jaggery who murdered Mr. Hollybrass. They try to stage another mutiny, but Keetch, the second mate, rats them out. Apparently, he was Jaggery's spy all along. (Dang!) Charlotte and Jaggery then have an epic showdown on the deck. In the end, Jaggery falls into the sea due to the swaying motion of the ship. Zachariah declares Charlotte the new captain. (Though in name only – Zachariah really does most of the captaining. Sweet gesture nonetheless.)
The ship lands in Rhode Island, and Charlotte returns home where her family are completely shocked by her appearance and manner. She tries to befriend the servants, but with no luck. Charlotte's father reads her journal but doesn't believe any of the contents. He's most appalled by the spelling. (Seriously? Yes.) Soon after, Charlotte sees an advertisement for the Seahawk's latest departure in the newspaper. Deciding that she can't live in the stifling world of her spelling-sensitive family, Charlotte sneaks out of her house and rejoins the crew of the Seahawk. The first person she sees when she gets to the docks is, of course, Zachariah.
An Important Warning
- The preface to the novel, entitled "An Important Warning," is an introduction to the novel written by an adult version of Charlotte Doyle.
- Charlotte warns the reader that her tale is not a conventional one. Among other things, she's "accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty" (preface.1).
- Looking back on her life, the adult Charlotte sets the scene for the tale that will follow.
- The Following Are Things Adult Charlotte Wants You to Know:
- The year of young Charlotte's voyage was 1832, and she was a happy girl who wanted nothing more than to be a lady.
- Though she's American by birth, Charlotte grew up in England from the ages of six to thirteen.
- Charlotte's father was a cotton manufacturer working in England for an American company.
- Charlotte's father had been summoned to America and returned to the family's home in Providence, Rhode Island, along with his wife and Charlotte's younger brother and sister.
- Charlotte stayed behind in England to finish her school term at Barrington School for Better Girls, run by Miss Weed.
- Charlotte's parents made arrangements for her to return to America on a separate ship. All of this was done with the utmost judgment and planning.
- The voyage of one or two months was to occur during the summer months so that Charlotte wouldn't miss school.
- The ship's captain was reputable and known for his quick passages across the ocean.
- The ship also happened to be owned by Charlotte's father's firm, and she was to travel with two families who were to act as her guardians during the voyage.
- Given the precautions taken by her parents, Charlotte looked forward to the trip as an exciting vacation.
- Charlotte's father gave her a blank journal in which to record her journey. Her father thought this exercise would be educational. He promised to read and comment on the journal at the end her trip.
- On June 16, 1832 Charlotte finds herself on the docks of Liverpool England accompanied by one of her father's business associates, Mr. Grummage. Mr. Grummage is a somber gentleman dressed in black with a stovepipe hat.
- Charlotte bids a tearful adieu to Miss Emerson, her female traveling companion.
- The sights and sound of the dock fascinate Charlotte, especially the exotic commodities like silk, tea, tobacco, monkeys, and parrots. She calls the scene "delicious chaos" (1.13). We'd agree.
- Charlotte learns from Mr. Grummage that she's going to set sell on an American merchant ship called the Seahawk run by a man named Captain Jaggery.
- The porter carrying Charlotte's trunk overhears Mr. Grummage mention Captain Jaggery and appears to be repulsed by the name. The man refuses to carry the trunk any farther and marches off.
- When the second porter attempts to carry the trunk, he sees the Seahawk, drops the trunk and hightails it out of there too. What's the deal?
- Mr. Grummage goes on board while Charlotte surveys the ship from the dock. The Seahawk is a two-masted ship known as a brig. There's a figurehead of a seahawk carved beneath the bowsprit.
- While gazing at the ship, Charlotte sees a man shimmying up the mooring ropes from the dock to the Seahawk.
- Mr. Grummage returns to inform Charlotte that the two families who were to act as her guardians have pulled out.
- Charlotte voices concern over continuing the journey alone, but Mr. Grummage insists that she follow her parents' orders and board the ship.
- Charlotte and Mr. Grummage board the Seahawk and meet the second mate, a dark and shifty-eyed man named Mr. Keetch.
- Since Captain Jaggery and the first mate are ashore, Mr. Keetch is the man in charge, and he strongly advises Charlotte not to take the ship to America. Mr. Grummage, however, believes Charlotte's only choice is to take the trip. He leaves her, defeated and resigned to the voyage, on the ship.
- Mr. Keetch leads Charlotte to her stuffy and confined quarters. Charlotte is disgusted by the furnishings (and the lack thereof).
- Barlow, one of the other sailors, knocks at Charlotte's door with her trunk. He tells Charlotte that he has been elected by the other sailors to urge her to leave the ship. Charlotte is insulted that a man of Barlow's lowly status would talk to her in such a way. She refuses his help and immediately regrets it.
- Alone in her cabin, Charlotte has a nice big cry. She feels alone, angry, afraid, humiliated – the whole nine yards. Meltdown ensues.
- Yet another man knocks at her door, and this time it turns out to be Zachariah: cook, surgeon, carpenter, preacher, and the ship's only black sailor. Though his appearance is decrepit, his voice is sweet and, to Charlotte's surprise, he offers her tea. Charlotte is stoked because teatime reminds her of home and polite society.
- Over tea, Zachariah offers to be Charlotte's friend since the two have much in common, at least in his mind. He's the only black person, and She's the only woman. Zachariah is also the oldest, and Charlotte is the youngest. Despite Zachariah's sincerity, Charlotte finds his suggestion improper and tells Zachariah she doesn't need a friend.
- Zachariah offers Charlotte a small knife called a dirk for her protection, but she refuses to take the weapon. Zachariah insists and makes her take the knife.
- Charlotte returns to her cabin where she carefully stows the knife under her mattress.
- As Charlotte is drifting off to slumber land, she overhears a bit of an interesting conversation between Mr. Keetch and an unidentified man. Keetch says that "the Doyle girl" is the only one he could get to come onto the boat (2.102). The other voice calls Charlotte "the trump" and claims that with her on board, "they" will not dare to move (2.103).
- Not understanding what she just heard, Charlotte falls fast asleep.
- Charlotte wakes up the next morning determined to leave the ship; however, when she reaches the deck she sees only sky and ocean. Mr. Hollybrass, the first mate, tells her they're now in the Irish Sea.
- Mr. Hollybrass rings the bell three times and all of the sailors appear on deck, followed by Captain Jaggery. Charlotte is impressed by the captain's dignified appearance and assumes he is a trustworthy gentleman, much like her father.
- Mr. Hollybrass tells the captain that he could not get the men to sign the articles (whatever that means). He then takes roll call: Dillingham, Grimes, Morgan, Barlow, Foley, Ewing, Fisk, Johnson, and Zachariah are all present.
- The captain inquires after a Mr. Cranick, but he's not present, nor does Hollybrass recognize the name.
- Captain Jaggery issues orders to the men to work hard and obey his commands. This is not a democracy, he declares (a democracy being a kind of representative government). Nope, he is the master of the ship, no question. Captain Jaggery then gives them an extra issue of rum (generous!), and dismisses the crew.
- Captain Jaggery greets Charlotte with the greatest politeness. She requests to be let off the boat, but he, in a very genteel fashion, denies her request. He then promises her his protection and friendship, and invites her to tea in his cabin.
- Charlotte returns to her cabin where she falls into a swoon and takes ill. She experiences feverish dreams. Zachariah tends to her and Captain Jaggery visits from time to time.
- In the midst of her delirium, she sees a rat eating at her journal. She takes the dirk from underneath her mattress and throws the knife at the rat.
- Charlotte wakes to find the dirk on the floor. She grabs the knife, hoping to return it to Zachariah, and heads for the deck.
- One of the sailors, Dillingham, sees the dirk in Charlotte's hand. The next time Charlotte looks around, he has left the deck.
- Charlotte heads for the galley where she finds Zachariah and offers him the dirk. He won't take it, but instead offers her tea (again) and hard tack (a hard cake that functioned as sailors' bread). Zachariah reveals that she has been asleep in her cabin for four days.
- As Charlotte eats, Zachariah tells her why he's so insistent upon her keeping the knife: the crewmembers on the Seahawk have an ax to grind with Captain Jaggery. On a previous voyage, the captain beat a man called Mr. Cranick so badly that he lost his arm. The crew thinks Jaggery is a tyrant. Not being able to obtain justice with the admiralty courts on land, they now want revenge on the sea.
- Charlotte doesn't initially believe Zachariah's story, though she recognizes the name of Mr. Cranick from the roll call the first day on deck.
- Zachariah tells Charlotte that the same crew from the previous voyage is on board the ship because Captain Jaggery couldn't get any other sailors to work for him. Charlotte recalls her experience with the two porters on the dock in Liverpool on the day she boarded the Seahawk.
- Zachariah reminds Charlotte that the crew knows that Captain Jaggery is an employee of her father.
- Mr. Hollybrass, the first mate, appears suddenly and invites Charlotte to tea in Captain Jaggery's quarters.
- Charlotte doesn't believe Zachariah's story and is outraged that someone of his station would dare to say such things to her.
- The captain's quarters are stylishly decorated with handsome furnishings and pictures of England. Captain Jaggery is also finely dressed with a copy of the Bible on his knee. His manners are impeccable. Needless to say, Charlotte thinks he's just the bee's knees.
- The captain, apparently a family man, shows Charlotte a picture of his five-year-old daughter, Victoria. He advises her to read to the crew from her moral books and preach the gospel.
- Charlotte tells Captain Jaggery he reminds her of her father. The two agree to be friends.
- Captain Jaggery warns Charlotte that she may see him say or do things that seem cruel, but that punishments are necessary to maintain order on the ship. He shows her his gun cabinet, and tells her that these are the only guns on the ship.
- The captain asks Charlotte to be his eyes and ears among the men. He then shows her a drawing of a round-robin, two circles that look kind of like a life preserver inside of which are written the names of four men. To see the image, he warns her, means "dangerous trouble" (5.73).
- Charlotte shows Captain Jaggery the dirk and tells him that Mr. Grummage gave it to her. (Zachariah gave her the knife, but Charlotte senses that she should protect Zachariah.)
- Charlotte tries to give the dirk to the captain, but he suggests that she keep it for her safety and protection.
- The captain hands Charlotte over to Mr. Hollybrass, though before he does so, he bids her farewell by kissing her hand in front of the crew. What a gentleman! (Yeah, right.) Charlotte, however, is stoked.
- Mr. Hollybrass takes Charlotte to Mr. Barlow, who's supposed to lead Charlotte to her trunk that's stored in the ship's top steerage.
- Charlotte and Mr. Barlow enter the ship's top cargo, and he takes her to her trunk.
- Mr. Barlow leaves Charlotte in the darkness of the top cargo to go through her things, and leaves his lit candle near the ladder for her.
- Charlotte, though alone, begins to feel a presence. She thinks someone is watching her.
- Charlotte looks to the left and right and sees nothing. She finally turns around toward the ladder, and there she sees a grinning head with eyes staring at her.
- The candle goes out and all is dark.
- Charlotte reaches for the dirk which, thankfully, she has on her. She calls out into the darkness around her, but no one answers.
- Charlotte moves closer to the ladder, and she realizes that the grotesque grinning head is actually a face carved into a large, brown nut.
- A little rattled, Charlotte begins to climb the ladder to get out of there, but realizes she has forgotten her books and clothes. She boldly returns, fetches them, and finally climbs out of the hatch.
- Charlotte suspects Barlow of planting the head but, then again, Barlow seems too submissive to do something like that. That's when Charlotte realizes that there must have been a second person hiding down there. She thinks that she did, in fact, see two faces. The first one was a human's.
- The mystery proves too confusing for Charlotte, so she decides the candle must have been blown out by a draft and that the fake head was probably sitting there all along. (Denial, Charlotte, denial!)
- Charlotte decides not to tell Captain Jaggery about the nut head since she doesn't want to seem like a silly schoolgirl.
- Charlotte then begins comparing and contrasting the captain and Zachariah in her mind. She decides the two are "courting" her – well, at least courting her friendship (7.31). Weird, right? What's up with that, Charlotte? She resolves to stay on the good side of both men, but to be nicer to the captain.
- Charlotte wraps the knife (dirk) in her handkerchief and puts it under her mattress.
- Charlotte gains her sea legs and settles into life on the boat.
- Each morning she wakes and prepares to present herself to Captain Jaggery on deck. Her clothes are by this point pretty filthy, so she puts one of her dresses away and saves it so at least it will be clean for the ship's landing in Providence.
- Charlotte also takes breakfast in the morning served by Zachariah. Weak coffee, hard bread, and molasses. The breakfast of champions! Dinner (the second meal) consists of the same, and supper (the last meal of the day) is a bit of meat, rice, beans, and more gross coffee. Bon appétit.
- On Sundays, Charlotte reads to the men from the Bible. All of the guys also shave and wash their clothes on this day.
- Charlotte's bright point of the day is her daily 30-minute tea with Captain Jaggery where she reports to him about all the activities on the ship.
- To pass the time, Charlotte listens to the men's tales of faraway places and fantastic journeys. She fancies that her contact with them improves them.
- The crew gradually accepts Charlotte and soon she takes on the role of the "ship's boy" (8.15).
- Charlotte begins climbing up into the rigging.
- She also becomes friends with Zachariah who's often the butt of the jokes by the crew, since he is the only black person on board. The sailors do, however, admire his cooking.
- Charlotte reveals some of Zachariah's history. First, turns out he's the oldest on board at 50, though Charlotte thinks he looks older. He doesn't know how to read or write. He knows nothing of Christianity.
- Zachariah gives Charlotte a pair of trousers and a shirt, a set of clothes that looks like the crew's clothing. Charlotte is offended at first, though she later tries on the clothes in her cabin.
- Feeling kind of weird about putting on the sailor suit, Charlotte composes an essay on the proper behavior for young women and reads it to Captain Jaggery at tea.
- Captain Jaggery never allows the crew to be idle. He sometimes hits them with things or threatens to confine them to the brig, dock their salary, take away their meals, lash them, or dunk them in the sea (this is called keelhauling – no, thank you).
- All of a sudden the wind stops and the ship stands still in the sea. The crew tries to tow the boat, but with no luck.
- As the boat drifts along, Jaggery pushes the crew harder and harder. Charlotte warns him that the crew is growing tired of the treatment but he pays her no mind.
- The chapter ends with Charlotte hinting that there might be a storm coming soon, though not one from the sea: one from the crew.
- The ship continues to drift.
- One afternoon, Charlotte is on the deck reading to Ewing, a young Scottish sailor.
- Ewing is patching an old canvas jacket when he accidentally snaps his needle. Charlotte offers to get him a new one from his box in the forecastle (the crew's quarters).
- At the forecastle door, Charlotte hears men discussing putting down "their marks" (9.20). She hears herself referred to as "always spying" (9.23).
- Knocking and entering the cabin, Charlotte sees three men in hammocks. Fisk, who opens the door, directs her to Ewing's chest. Going through it, she sees a pistol.
- Charlotte grabs a needle from the chest and starts to exit, but as she does, she stumbles over a chest and knocks a sheet of paper to the floor. There's a round-robin on it. Uh oh.
- Charlotte acts like nothing is wrong and bolts out of there, though she immediately runs into Mr. Keetch who, she thinks, pays her no mind.
- Charlotte delivers the needle to Ewing and returns to her cabin.
- Charlotte does some quick arithmetic and realizes she's seen one too many people. There should only be four people off the watch: Ewing, Morgan, Foley, and Fisk. Ewing was sewing on deck, and Fisk opened the door the forecastle. But there were three other men asleep in the hammocks. Two of them were Morgan and Foley. Who was the third man? The stowaway?
- Charlotte decides to tell Captain Jaggery of what she has seen. She runs into Morgan on the deck and the two have a stare off. She then sees Foley spying on her.
- Charlotte is unnerved but, after some hesitating, goes directly to the captain's quarters.
- Charlotte relates to Jaggery, and to the first mate Mr. Hollybrass, what she has seen.
- The captain tells Mr. Hollybrass to summon the crew to the deck. Why? So he can crush the mutiny, of course.
- Captain Jaggery retrieves the key to the gun safe from the back of his daughter's portrait. He and Mr. Hollybrass arm themselves heavily.
- Captain Jaggery forces Charlotte to follow him (and Mr. Hollybrass) to the deck to confront the crew.
- The crew appears on deck: they're whooping wildly and fully armed. Well, all except for Zachariah.
- The crew sees Captain Jaggery and his muskets, and they freeze instantly.
- Charlotte notices an extra member among the crew: a man with one arm. The stowaway! Yes, true, but more precisely, it's Mr. Cranick, the man who Jaggery abused on the last voyage.
- Jaggery immediately recognizes Cranick, and the two face off. Cranick pulls out a round-robin and declares Jaggery unfit to captain the ship.
- In turn, Captain Jaggery pulls out his gun and shoots Cranick in the chest.
- With the crew in shock, Captain Jaggery is able to get them all to drop their weapons. Mr. Hollybrass collects the guns as well as the round-robin.
- The captain orders Zachariah to throw the body overboard without any Christian burial. Zachariah protests, so Jaggery orders Mr. Hollybrass to do so. He protests as well, but eventually does so.
- Captain Jaggery demands that the second in command to Mr. Cranick be punished. When no one speaks, he asks Charlotte to pick someone. She merely shakes her head. Captain Jaggery, then, calls for Zachariah to take the punishment.
- The captain asks Zachariah if he has anything to say or if the crew has anything to say on Zachariah's behalf. None of the crew speak, but Zachariah defends himself in a speech in which he calls Jaggery "the worst" captain he has ever served under (11.16).
- Jaggery takes Zachariah's speech as a confession and dares anyone from the crew to second the slander. Though it's clear that the crew hates Jaggery, they all remain silent. (Guns can sure be intimidating, can't they?)
- Mr. Hollybrass strings up Zachariah and pulls out a whip.
- Charlotte feels ill and attempts to leave, but Jaggery makes her witness the beating.
- The captain orders Mr. Hollybrass to give Zachariah fifty lashes.
- Charlotte cannot take the cruelty she is witnessing. She lunges at Mr. Hollybrass, grabs the whip, and gets to her feet. In defense of herself, she flicks the whip. It cuts Jaggery's face.
- Captain Jaggery grabs the whip from Charlotte and beats Zachariah mercilessly. He appears to be dead.
- The crewmembers cut down Zachariah's lifeless body and carry it to the forecastle.
- Charlotte throws up over the side of the ship. She is left alone.
- Charlotte returns to her cabin and cries. She blames herself for everything.
- Charlotte determines that, even though the captain's actions were cruel, she must take responsibility and apologize to him for cutting his face.
- Charlotte finds Captain Jaggery in his cabin and apologizes for her interference.
- The captain is not a happy camper: he says Charlotte insulted him before the crew and deserves a horsewhipping. He also withdraws his protection of her.
- On the deck, Charlotte sees the crew gathered around a bulky canvas hammock. She assumes that it holds the body of Zachariah. The men conduct a kind of funeral and then heave the hammock into the ocean.
- Charlotte apologizes to the crew. Fisk advises her to go back to the captain. She declares her hatred for the captain, but they only stare at her.
- Heartbroken, Charlotte returns to her cabin and cries some more.
- A bell summons all hands on deck, and Charlotte sneaks up to observe what's going on.
- The captain is giving orders to the men: Fisk is to take Zachariah's place, Mr. Keetch is demoted from second mate, and Mr. Johnson (who didn't sign the round-robin) will take Keetch's place.
- Captain Jaggery says that even though the crew is short one mate, each watch must be fully manned.
- Morgan objects, saying that this means that someone will have to work an extra shift and that no captain can ask this of a crew, except in an emergency. The captain tells Morgan that this is an emergency.
- Charlotte makes her way to the galley where she finds Fisk and asks him about what happened on deck. Fisk tells her that the captain is trying to work them until they drop by requiring extra shifts.
- Charlotte offers to help with the workload, but Fisk scoffs and says that she is the "lady passenger, Miss Doyle. The informer" (12.92).
- Charlotte returns to her cabin. She puts on the seamen's clothes that Zachariah had given her.
- Dressed in her trousers and blouse, Charlotte returns to the galley where she tells Fisk that she's come to lend a hand as one of the crew.
- Fisk advises Charlotte to lay her request before the rest of the crew.
- The crew decides that if Charlotte can climb to the top of the royal yard (the highest sail on the main mast, 130 feet up), then she can sign on for duty.
- Fisk suggests Charlotte either shimmy up the mast or use the ratlines (the ropes connecting the sails) as a kind of ladder. Charlotte chooses the ratlines.
- Barlow wishes Charlotte luck and Ewing advises her to not look down – or up for that matter.
- Charlotte proceeds to climb from the main yard to the topsail to the topgallant to the royal yard. With a little difficulty along the way, she finally reaches the top, utterly exhausted.
- Charlotte begins her descent. At one point her foot slips and she falls, becoming tangled in the lines hanging downward. She's able to right herself with the help of a rope.
- As she nears the deck, Barlow urges her to jump into his arms, but she's determined to do the whole climb all by herself.
- Upon successfully reaching the bottom on her own, the crew cheers Charlotte. She's filled with joy, when suddenly Captain Jaggery appears.
- The captain confronts Charlotte about her clothing and about climbing in the rigging. She admits to him that she has joined the crew. He orders her back to her cabin, but she resists. The captain tells Charlotte that he will drive her as hard as any other member of the crew.
- The captain orders Charlotte to take up residence in the forecastle with the rest of the crew. She is also entered into the books as "Mister Doyle" rather than "Miss Doyle."
- As soon as the captain leaves, the crew cheers. Hooray, Mister Doyle!
- Charlotte takes up her duties on the ship and works daily alongside the crew. The captain drives her just as hard as the men, if not harder.
- Charlotte keeps up with the pace but is always physically exhausted. Her skin changes colors, turning into a rough hide.
- Charlotte sleeps in the quarters with the men, and they swear a solemn oath to treat her as a brother. She's given a hammock in the corner around which a sail is drawn for privacy.
- Charlotte loves her new life and even begins to curse like the men. She feels she has been liberated.
- One afternoon the flying jib becomes entangled by some twisted line and Charlotte is forced by Captain Jaggery to climb out to the end of the bowsprit (that's the pointy thing on the end of the ship) to cut the line.
- During the task, Charlotte falls, but is able to grab onto the bowsprit, her feet hanging above the sea. She hauls herself up and climbs back onto the deck.
- Captain Jaggery reprimands Charlotte since the men changed the course of the ship during her climb out on the bowsprit so that she'd have calmer waters.
- Charlotte calls the captain a coward and threatens to take him to the courts when they arrive in Providence. She spits by his boots. (Brave!) The captain turns on his heel and leaves the deck.
- Grimes gives Charlotte lessons in handling a knife. She clearly needs no lessons in talking back, though.
- One day, Charlotte and Barlow see a blue bird from the Caribbean on a branch floating in the water. She thinks it means land, but Barlow tells her it means that there's a hurricane coming.
- Charlotte learns that the captain is driving the ship straight for the hurricane in the hopes that they can use the wind as momentum for the last of the journey. Gulp.
- On the morning of Charlotte's forty-fifth day at sea, the hurricane strikes. Captain Jaggery commands that the ship sail through the storm.
- Captain Jaggery gives Charlotte the task of cutting down the foreyard sail so that it won't pull the mast down. He gives her a knife.
- Charlotte climbs into the rigging with the knife between her teeth. Her long hair gets in her way, so she stops and hacks it off with a knife.
- After much struggle, Charlotte reaches the top of the mast and begins cutting the ropes holding the sail. At one point, Charlotte slips, drops the knife, and is dangling from a great height.
- Charlotte loses the grip of one hand but right before she can fall, a figure appears and grabs her, yanking her back onto the spar. It's Zachariah!
- Charlotte hears an explosion as the foreyard rips away. When she looks back, Zachariah is gone.
- As the crew clears the deck, they find Mr. Hollybrass with a knife in his back. Charlotte recognizes the knife as the dirk Zachariah gave her.
- The captain approaches Mr. Hollybrass's body and takes something from the corpse's fingers. It is Charlotte's handkerchief.
- The captain orders the crew to take the body below, clear the deck, and man the pumps. Charlotte helps pump the water.
- Finally, the storm is over and Charlotte sleeps.
- Charlotte sleeps for fourteen hours and then wakes.
- She reflects upon seeing Zachariah in the rigging. Was he a ghost? An angel? It must have been a miracle.
- When Charlotte hits the deck it's oh-so-quiet. Have the crew forgotten her? She notices that both watches of the crew are on deck.
- Charlotte asks Ewing and Keetch if they had forgotten to call her to the watch. They admit to her that they were told not to call her.
- The men keep calling Charlotte "Miss," much to her dismay, and eventually confess that the captain told everyone that Charlotte murdered Mr. Hollybrass to avenge Zachariah's death.
- Charlotte starts to say that she has seen Zachariah, but stops herself.
- The captain is claiming that Charlotte is guilty because the dirk used to kill Mr. Hollybrass was hers.
- Captain Jaggery charges Charlotte with the murder of Mr. Hollybrass and says that she'll stand trial that day before a jury of her peers.
- Captain Jaggery commands Barlow to take Charlotte to the brig. He leads her down the hatch, through top cargo (where the head adventure took place), and into the hold.
- Barlow locks Charlotte into a cage of iron bars, taking his light with him.
- Before he goes, Charlotte asks Barlow if he thinks she killed Mr. Hollybrass. He says he doesn't know.
- All alone, Charlotte reflects on the trial that's to take place. She then hears footsteps approaching. She calls out.
- All of a sudden, a light appears, and Charlotte sees a vision: it's Zachariah again.
- Charlotte realizes that the apparition is not at all a ghostly vision from the grave, but in fact, Zachariah himself.
- Zachariah reveals that the hammock the men threw into the sea was a decoy to protect him from Captain Jaggery. He's been hiding out in the hold ever since.
- Charlotte wants to know why she wasn't told about this, and Zachariah tells her point blank that it's because she was a snitch about the mutiny. (Burn!)
- Zachariah admits to helping Charlotte on the rigging during the hurricane. He also tells her that there's no way the captain knows he's in the hold – otherwise, he wouldn't be alive still.
- Zachariah tells Charlotte of his plan to expose Captain Jaggery to the authorities once they land in Rhode Island.
- Charlotte tells Zachariah that it is highly unlikely that, as a black man and a common sailor, his word would be taken over Captain Jaggery's.
- Zachariah tells Charlotte that he'll appeal to her father for help and that if her father is anything like her, they have nothing to fear. Um, yeah. Charlotte is not so sure about that.
- Charlotte tells Zachariah about the murder of Mr. Hollybrass and that the captain has accused her. Zachariah had been told nothing about it by the crew. Charlotte tells him that she thinks the crew is on the captain's side this time.
- Zachariah goes to get food and water. In the meantime, Charlotte entertains the possibility that perhaps it was Zachariah that killed Mr. Hollybrass, perhaps to scare the captain. The crew would of course let her be accused in order to protect Zachariah if they think he really did it.
- Zachariah returns with water and hardtack. The two sit together and eat.
- They try to determine who killed Mr. Hollybrass, Charlotte still suspecting that maybe it was Zachariah. Almost everyone on the crew knew about the dirk, but only Zachariah and the captain knew it was under the mattress.
- The candles go out and Zachariah tells frightening tales about the whole crew. Charlotte takes this as a sign of his possible guilt. She cannot, though, bring herself to accuse him.
- Suddenly, there is a noise and a light. Charlotte hurries back to the brig. It's Captain Jaggery, and he's come to take Charlotte to her trial.
- Charlotte is taken to the deck where the captain has set up a makeshift courtroom: the crew sits in place of the jury and the captain has a cabin chair where he presides as judge.
- The captain uses a Bible to swear in the whole crew.
- The captain asks Charlotte how she pleads (innocent) and if she wishes to withdraw her claim to being a member of the crew (she doesn't). The trial proceeds.
- The captain asks Charlotte if she wishes to accuse someone else of murdering Mr. Hollybrass. She doesn't. He then asks if any man is willing to defend Charlotte. (Nope.)
- Captain Jaggery determines that the dirk belonged to Charlotte and that when he originally asked who gave it to her she lied and said it was Mr. Grummage, instead of Zachariah. So now the court establishes that Charlotte is a liar. Great.
- Captain Jaggery asks if anyone saw Charlotte with the knife. After much cajoling involving the Bible, almost everyone says that they saw Charlotte with the knife.
- Captain Jaggery states it is "unnatural" for a girl to carry a knife (18.92).
- Charlotte objects, arguing he was the one who gave her a knife to cut away the rigging during the storm. Captain Jaggery says that's only because it was an emergency.
- Captain Jaggery starts asking misleading questions about why Charlotte would have a knife, and she becomes confused.
- Grimes comes forward and admits to having taught Charlotte how to use a knife. The captain gets Grimes to agree that it's unnatural for a girl to use a knife.
- Captain Jaggery begins a line of argument in which he accuses Charlotte of being unnatural for being a girl working aboard a boat. He states that he and the crew have an obligation to protect "the natural order of the world" (18.159).
- The captain asks Charlotte what happened to Zachariah. She testifies that he was flogged to death by the captain and Mr. Hollybrass.
- The captain gets Charlotte to admit that she was angry that he flogged Zachariah, establishing motive.
- Through a few rhetorical tricks, the captain argues that Charlotte is unnatural, not unusual. And so it comes as no surprise that she committed an unnatural crime: murder.
- No one on the crew will defend Charlotte. Confused and frightened, she's unable to speak for herself.
- The captain declares a verdict of guilty and that Charlotte is to be hanged.
- The captain locks Charlotte back in the brig.
- Zachariah appears and releases Charlotte from her cage. She tells him what has just happened, and that she has 24 hours until she gets hanged.
- Charlotte finally confesses that she thinks Zachariah killed Mr. Hollybrass. She also says that the rest of the crew thinks it's him too, and that they're protecting him with silence.
- Zachariah says he did not kill Mr. Hollybrass.
- Zachariah mentions that Jaggery saw him on deck during the storm. The captain was in the middle of arguing with Mr. Hollybrass. Zachariah assumed Jaggery thought he was a ghost – especially when the captain didn't start looking for Zachariah after the storm.
- The two realize that Captain Jaggery had kept his knowledge of Zachariah secret so that he could convict Charlotte without any objection from the crew.
- Zachariah and Charlotte then conclude that it must have been the captain himself who killed Mr. Hollybrass.
- Zachariah says that the only way to deal with the captain is to rise up against him as the crew did before. He suggests breaking into the captain's cabin and getting his muskets from the safe.
- Charlotte says she knows just where to find the key.
- Charlotte tells Zachariah about the key to the gun safe hidden behind the portrait of Captain Jaggery's daughter.
- Zachariah leaves to fetch one of the crew and Charlotte, for the first time in a very long time, thinks of her family. She hopes they'll be proud of her.
- Zachariah returns with Keetch, and the three hold a "council of war" (20.42). Zachariah and Charlotte tell Keetch it was the captain who murdered Hollybrass. Keetch tells them that the men had assumed it was Zachariah.
- Keetch says that the ship will reach Providence in just a few days, hence the captain's haste with the hanging.
- They plan the following: Keetch will lure the captain out of the cabin, and Charlotte will grab the key and hand it off to Zachariah. The men will then lead an uprising against the captain.
- At 1am, they put the plan into action. Keetch sends word that he has detained the captain at the helm.
- Charlotte heads for the captain's quarters, but as she goes, she stops by the door of her old cabin. Hearing the door swinging on its hinges, she's reminded of the conversation she overheard on her first night on the Seahawk. What was the significance?
- Charlotte opens the door to Captain Jaggery's cabin to find the captain himself seated at his table.
- Charlotte enters Captain Jaggery's cabin. He has been expecting her since, as he reveals, Keetch has been his spy all along. (Keetch was the one she overheard talking outside of her cabin that first night on board.)
- The captain gives Charlotte a speech about how she disrupted the order of the boat. He then admits that he was the one who killed Mr. Hollybrass, because the man had threatened him.
- Jaggery tells Charlotte that since she's the unnatural one, she shall be held responsible.
- The captain lights a candle and Charlotte sees that the fine furnishings have cracks in them from the storm. The captain rants again about keeping things in order.
- Charlotte realizes the captain has gone mad.
- The captain gives Charlotte three choices:
- 1. He will give her the keys to the gun cabinet and let her stage a mutiny, in which case infamy will ensue and her family will be shamed.
- 2. She can put on her girl's clothes again, beg him for forgiveness, and then everything will be back in its proper order.
- 3. She can be hanged.
- Hm, can' there be a fourth option?
- Charlotte rejects all of the choices and rushes out onto the deck where she finds the crew gathered around Zachariah, who has been bound by Keetch. The conspiracy has turned against them.
- The captain tells the crew that Charlotte was trying to murder him. She yells out that he's lying and that he killed Mr. Hollybrass.
- The crew doesn't do anything.
- The captain fires at Charlotte and, as the boat takes a plunge, misses.
- Charlotte retreats to the bowsprit where Jaggery follows.
- The Seahawk takes another plunge and Jaggery is tossed overboard.
- Charlotte asks the crew for a knife and Grimes gives her one. She cuts the restraints from Zachariah.
- Zachariah suggests that since Charlotte defeated Jaggery, she should be made captain.
- Charlotte is entered into the log as captain, though in name only. Zachariah assumes most of the command. The captain is entered into the log as being lost at sea during the hurricane.
- As the ship approaches Rhode Island, Charlotte becomes melancholy. What will become of her?
- Zachariah tells Charlotte that he's originally from the east coast of Africa, but was never a slave.
- The Seahawk arrives in Rhode Island on August 17, 1832, two months after departing from Liverpool, England.
- Charlotte is met by her prim and proper family. She's happy to see them.
- In the family carriage, Charlotte's brother Albert and sister Evelina comment on her dirty clothes. Charlotte's dad reminds her that he will be reading her journal (thank goodness the rat didn't eat it, eh?).
- At the family home on Benevolent Street, Charlotte reveals her short hair to her family. She tells them it was cut because of lice. Charlotte's mother is horrified by her daughter's hard brown hands.
- As the family eats at the table, Charlotte lets it slip that she associated with the men during the voyage. Her family is again taken aback.
- Charlotte's father dismisses her from the table, suggesting that she get some rest.
- In her room, the maid, Bridget, attempts to bathe and dress Charlotte and calls her "Miss." Charlotte objects, but the maid tells her that she must address her properly or the master will be upset. Charlotte is sad.
- A second maid, Mary, comes to destroy Charlotte's old clothes and collect the journal so her father can read it. Charlotte asks if Mary will call her "Charlotte" but the second maid also declines out of fear of the master.
- Charlotte takes her sailor's outfit from the trunk so that it will not be destroyed.
- Charlotte is called to the parlor where she finds her mother and father, and her journal blazing in the fireplace.
- Charlotte's father says her journal is filled with "unnatural" tales (22.158). He criticizes her spelling, and says she's forbidden to talk about the voyage with her brother and sister.
- Charlotte is confined to her room where her only visitor is Bridget the maid. Even Bridget, though, resists Charlotte's attempts at friendship.
- Charlotte bribes Bridget to bring her newspapers without her father's knowledge. Eventually she finds what she's looking for: a listing for the Seahawk, which will be departing on September 9th with Fisk as captain.
- Charlotte is on good behavior for the next few days so that she's finally let out of her room. Her father suggests that she keep studying so as to have an orderly life.
- That night, Charlotte steals out of her window. Once at the docks, she's met by Zachariah. She tells him she has decided to come home.
- The appendix of the book contains detailed drawings of the ship: the Deck, the Bowsprit, and the Mainmast. Each are labeled with the ships' parts. Be sure to check it out in your book!
- This section explains how time works on a boat and how the crew's shifts are divided.
- The first watch was commanded by Mr. Hollybrass and the second by Mr. Keetch (then later Mr. Johnson).
- The watches are divided into two- or four-hour shifts.
- On a typical day, a sailor would work alternating shifts. This is known as "watch and watch."
- The "watch and watch" schedule meant that no one on the ship would have more than four hours of sleep at once.
- Time was tracked by a bell that rang every 30 minutes.