If you had told me I would spend my days in dancing and laughter with a gallant sea captain – well, I daresay I would have looked at you in disbelief through the lorgnette I affected, shaken my head and moved away.
I was the eldest – and plainest – of seven orphaned sisters, of limited means. I dreamed of romance and adventure, but I knew my duty. I became a governess and watched as my sisters in turn secured positions or husbands. When Louisa, the youngest of us, married the Reverend Coulter and travelled with him to Kettering, I seized my opportunity.
English governesses were all the rage in Russia, I learned, and I secured myself a position in St Petersburg. Such excitement! I took a berth on a small vessel, mainly carrying cargo, but also myself and three commercial travellers .This was the adventure I had dreamed of, and the warm glances I exchanged with Captain Aaronovitch were my own secret romance.
And then – disaster! An ice-berg! Imagine the maelstrom of emotions I experienced – fear of doom, then delight as I felt the Captain’s strong arms around me and knew I would not die unkissed.
And then the unexpected joy of this spirit form, and this sense of freedom – what freedom! – as I and the Captain frolic and cavort in these icy seas, through the long Arctic summer days, and the starlit nights of winter.
The prompt is from Jane Dougherty, and the image is by Ilya Repin – it’s called What Freedom!