Welcome to the world of

PHILIP V.G. WALLACE

My Writing

What a privilege it is to transport a reader to another time

and place to share experiences otherwise denied them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CALL OF THE SEA        ISBN 1-41204045-0       Published by Trafford Publishing                          © copyright 2004, Philip V.G. Wallace

 

 

 

EXCERPTS FROM CALL OF THE SEA

 

Ch. 1, p. 1

From far out in the Atlantic, winds drove piles of clouds roiling the ocean waters, loading up the skies with rain, whipping the raging froth down into the New England coast. The sea hurled massive waves against shore rocks where they exploded into white foam towers against the night. It was the first nor’easter of the year. In Newburyport, sheets of cold rain crashed over the cobblestone streets. Rivers and lakes sprung from wherever the stones let them. Boats in the harbor bucked nose into the wind wrestling with their moorings.

            At the Eagle Inn, only a few customers remained. Sailors temporarily without boats. The rest stayed on board to deal with whatever that nasty mistress might bring. Captain McKeever nursed a mug of rum. McKeever was a heavy-set old man who rolled when he walked as though the ocean were under him even ashore. As a youth, he fought with John Paul Jones in the Revolution. His face was leathered by gales, his dark full beard graying and his fingers gnarled with arthritis. His ship, the Molly O, lay safe in the yard having her bottom scraped and sealed. A big black cat snoozed near the still hot embers in the stone fireplace, no longer surprised by the raging wind outside. The inn’s door was bolted against further visitors. Jubal Coyne, the owner, sat near the fireplace. He was a lanky man with a patch where his left eye had been. His sleeves rolled above the elbows, revealed tattoos on each arm, reminders of voyages to the South Seas. He hoped his guests would finish up soon. He wanted to close the bar, put out the lamps and listen to the winds howl from the comfort of his warm bed.

            Then came the pounding. Something loose in the storm? No, the pounding was too insistent. The big black cat raised her head, ears upright. The stragglers looked at each other and listened.

            “It’s the door,” one spoke up.

            Jubal called out “Closed.”

            The pounding continued. “Closed, I said!”

            More pounding. He stepped behind the bar and reached below for a belaying pin before going to the door. Drunken sailors could be trouble. Coyne slipped back the bolt and tried to open the door slightly.  KAWOOSH.  In came a rush of wind and rain and before he could push back the door again, a bundled figure staggered through. From behind a scarf, black eyes peered vacant and hollow. Rivulets poured from the bundle’s every fold. As they stared, the bundle started forward only to drop hard onto the floor. A body trembled beneath the heavy wet clothes.

            Captain McKeever, Jubal and a sailor named “Dog” dragged the soaked bundle to the hearth and unwrapped the clothes.

            “Hey, who are you? What are you doing here?”

            The eyes were closed. Wet hair plastered to a wet hot forehead. Lips moved but made no sound.

            Jubal’s wife, Maude, rushed out from the kitchen. A plump, red-faced woman with darting eyes and fidgeting hands. From a bunk under the stairs made private by a curtain, a yawning, stretching Liz Wade emerged.

            “Why, he’s only a boy, only a boy!”

            Maude put her hand to his cheek. “Hot as Satan’s pup! Get him upstairs and out of those wet clothes. Put him into a warm bed.”

            Liz helped the men pull off a blanket that was his outer wrap and then his waistcoat. “That’s enough for you, young lady. Fetch a dry blanket and hang this one up to dry. You fellas carry him upstairs.”

            The men carried him to the upper floor where Jubal pulled off the rest of his clothes. Maude dried him, wrestled one of Jubal’s shirts over his head and shoulders and helped her husband lift him into a narrow bunk. Liz brought dry blankets.

            “What do we know about him? Nothing. And now he’s wearing my shirt and laying in one of our best beds and hardly a coin in his pockets. You’re a good Christian woman, Maude, but he could be a bandit or a fugitive carrying some disease. Ever think of that?”

            Liz let out a “humpf” putting her hand to her face to hide her grin. Maude frowned but she had already turned away.

            “Remember your Bible, Jubal. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan who helped the victim lying by the road. Don’t you give me any more trouble. We don’t know but he’s been delivered into our hands for a purpose -- just like poor Liz here. Where would she be if we didn’t take her in when her parents died? An orphan begging by the road or worse.” 

            Liz groaned. “Should I make hot tea for him?”

            “Can’t you see, he’s unable to drink anything? Use your common sense girl. He’s got to sleep through the fever. Go to bed. We need you fresh for the morning.”

            Liz went downstairs to her bunk behind the curtain. Herself, now seventeen, she was taller than most, a phenomenon that brought taunts from boys and whispers behind her back from girls. She also had long straight hair, a chestnut that was almost black, and  dark brown eyes that said more than her quick tongue. True. She would be another homeless orphan if the Coynes hadn’t taken her in at the age of nine, but, she did her share to make up for it. Nothing at all like Maude, she was nevertheless, Maude’s alter ego. She cleaned, cooked, went to market, carried wood, emptied slops, did laundry and saw to it that no one cheated on the bills. She was an adult ever since she entered their home.

            The next day, the boy continued to sleep. Occasionally, he opened his eyes. They drifted across the room and soon closed again. “Try some soup,” Maude prescribed. Liz heated soup. She pulled up his head and shoulders. He muttered something and as he did, she slipped a spoonful between his lips. Some dribbled down his chin, but some stayed in. A few times during the day, Liz repeated the drill. He hardly changed position in the bed. His shirt was soaked with sweat. When she propped him to coax in food or water, his head lolled on her breast, and from time to time, pillowed itself there. She didn’t mind.

            The following day, Jubal and Maude took the wagon for vegetables at the Tompkins’ farm, a trip that took several hours. During the afternoon, Liz brought a basket of sewing to the room where the boy lay. He had kicked the covers off and sprawled face down, the sweaty shirt around his waist.

“Well, hello -- what have we here?”

Nasty welts striped the backs of his legs and his buttocks.

“My God, what did they do to you?”

Sure that no one was around, she lay her hands gently on him feeling the welts and the fever’s heat from his bare skin. The bed was damp and so was the shirt. The stale odor of sweat was overpowering. She touched his shoulder.

“Can you hear me?”

No sound.

“We’ve got to do something about this.”

She got a fresh shirt, a sheet, a pitcher of water and a towel. She rolled him over, pulled off the damp shirt and bathed him. At the touch of cool water, his body lurched and his eyes opened.

“Who are you?” he asked.

She whispered into his ear, “Well, I’m not your mother.”

His eyes rolled and he was gone again. When she jammed the cool cloth between his legs, his eyes opened momentarily, then closed.

“Ah then, still hope, eh? I suppose we mustn’t do anything to heat you up.”

His hands were large and callused. “You know something about hard work, don’t you?”

She passed the cool cloth over his feet. Raw blisters.

“You’ve come a ways on foot. A runaway, I’d say.”

When she finished the bath, he was cooler. She ran a brush through his dark hair which was long and curly. The beginnings of a beard shadowed his lip and chin. Otherwise, his body was smooth. She put the fresh shirt on him and a sheet on the bed.

“I wonder who you are, my mystery laddie. You’ve been through a lot, haven’t you? And yet, for the moment you look so sweet and peaceful lying there.”

She placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. “How old are you, I wonder? Old enough from what I’ve seen.”

She sat by him and sewed.

            Towards evening, he began tossing and speaking in his sleep,  “ . . . stop it! Lookout! Don’t . . . Don’t touch me . . . Take that! . . . uh-oh . . . I killed him! I killed him! He’s dead . . . my God, he’s dead

“So, you’ve got a terrible secret, Bucko. Well, let’s keep it between you and me. Your neck’s too dear for a hangman’s noose.”

            Maude and Jubal returned later than they wanted to. She thought the boy was sleeping more naturally and scolded Liz for being late with dinner.

 

Ch. 4, p.37.

 

            They kissed long, tender and increasingly passionate kisses, losing themselves in this new intimacy. The candlelight chased shadows about the room and across their features. Cheeks flushed. Hearts raced. Fingers trembled. Then, she drew away. Both stood, breathing hard, neither looking at the other.

            “I’m sorry, Liz.”

            “Don’t be. I’ve never felt such a feeling before. I don’t know what to make of myself.”

            “Me neither. I would never hurt you -- it’s just the very touch of you makes me wild. Things happen inside me and it’s hard to let go. Can you understand that?”

            “Oh, I can, I can. Come tomorrow night. Stay ‘til you must sail. There’s plenty of room and we’ll keep you out of the widow’s sight.”

            He moved toward her again, but she held him back flicking a light parting kiss and turning a cheek.

            “Tomorrow night!”

 

Ch, 27, p. 235.

 

Lion was firing at will, splashing shots all around and into the hull with jarring thuds.  Johnny’s eyes were cold, almost glazed. He was fighting from instinct like a cornered animal. He became aware of Middleton’s gaze.

 “What?”

His eyes led the captain’s across the scene on deck. Johnny rubbed the sweat and smoke from his brow. He looked out to where the enemy lay. He was lost in thought for a moment.

“Alright. Alright. Come about -- due west.”

“Bill of Rights creaked through the maneuver. The frigate damaged in the first engagement four nights ago was now coming up on the port beam. The man-of-war on his tail, close enough for an occasional shot from her bow chasers. To the starboard, the distant frigate was now hurrying to replace the frigate crippled by Bill of Rights. This would close off the mouth of the Delaware. The sky ahead turned brilliant as the sun moved lower. Soon it would drop behind the hills on the shore ahead. ‘Johnny, yer runnin’ out of yer nine cat lives,’ he thought to himself.

 

 

PREPUBLICATION REVIEWS

 

“MASTER AND COMMANDER fans will love CALL OF THE SEA for the early nineteenth century seafaring details and the thundering battle scenes. I loved it for the way the characters ­­-- merchants, sailors, historical giants, warriors and lovers -- embody their times with every breath, word, and emotion. It's a great vision of the men and women whose sweat and inspiration gave birth to the U.S. Navy nearly 200 years ago.”

 

Richard Hunter, Author, WORLD WITHOUT SECRETS.

 

“Anyone who has served in the U.S. Navy from Annapolis to the Persian Gulf will enjoy CALL OF THE SEA.  In Captain Jonathan Coyne, Wallace captures the bold spirit of the fledgling Navy as it  takes on the mightiest sea power of its day”.

 

William S. Norman, Captain, USN Retired.

 

“Star-crossed lovers Jonathon Coyne and Liz Wade provide a human dimension to a time in history that saw Washington burned and Baltimore besieged. The pages flew as I followed this tale of action and romance.” 

 

Mary McGahan, Historian.and Author of RAID AT RED MILL

 

 

REVIEWS ON AMAZON.COM

The Call of the Sea calls me

Reviewer:

Willis Holm (NYC)

You can hear the creak of the rigging and smell the gunpowder in this time machine of a novel that takes you back to the War of 1812. Wallace makes you understand what an important time in American history it was, and brings you near with a love story that could break your heart. Its people and times come clear in Wallace's knowledgeable descriptions of love and loss--and an important victory--in this 19th century tale.

Willis Holm, NYC

A reader of novels

Reviewer:

Peter J. Marcon (Larchmont, NY USA)

Here is a story of history, romance, suspense, and exciting battle scenes from the War of 1812. The reader is presented with a novel that is hard to put down.
Jonathan Coyne and the love of his life Liz Wade provide the reader with a humanistic love story of separation, loneliness, but never-failing love for each other. Phil Wallace ranks with many fine authors whose books I have read, including DeMille, Wood, Patterson, Sheldon and Grisham.

Should You Read Call of the Sea?

Reviewer:

Sailor Sexton (Deerfield Beach, FL)

The answer is unequivocally "indeed!" It is an easy read by an apparent Renaissance Man (read the bio). He has created a fascinating high-seas drama with a strong love interest. Fiction and actual history work especially well together as Washington burns and Baltimore is besieged during the War of 1812. The book is not just for lovers of sailing, the sea and naval history although it will appeal to them especially. It is for lovers of adventure, romance and the drama of life in general. Like Merrill Streep in my favorite movie, “Out of Africa,” Phil Wallace simply knows how to tell a good story. You will be engaged, engrossed, enchanted and entertained. Do NOT miss this one!

Romance and Rough Seas,

Reviewer:

Thomas H. Ogdon (New York, NY)

Mr Wallace has combined touching romance and swashbuckling adventure with page-turning intense momentum, and done it all in a highly accurate historical setting. A fast read but very memorable.

 

Reviewer:William E. Duke

As a sailor myself, I appreciated Mr. Wallace's expert handling of the sea scenes and work on board ship in his "Call of the Sea." The storyline was engrossing and historically interesting and the protagonist was a person you would really like to meet--I found myself pulling for him and for the eventual reunion with his fair lady. A good read.

Call of the Sea- A Classic & Salty Yarn, May 19, 2005

Reviewer:

N. Friberg "Thesailingdetective" (Norwood, New Jersey)

OK, I'm a sucker for sea stories. I've read every Patrick O'Brian novel cover-to-cover. Is Phil Wallace the American Patrick O'Brian? Probably. I would place his knowledge of the days of fighting sail right up there in that rarified company. Further, the years surrounding the formation of the United States Navy and the establishment of the country as a respectable force on the high seas is a fascinating chapter in our history, and one that Wallace captures and embraces, much to the benefit of the reader.

His characters ring true to the era; no TV soap opera stuff here. Men love their women and leave them and the women somehow carry on. But Wallace's strong suit is his narrative, particularly of battle. I would argue that this is the essence of storytelling; being able to convey the feeling of the noise and smoke and confusion and gore- all the while carrying the story forward in a gripping and enchanting way.

Three cheers for Phil Wallace and the rebirth of the American Sailing Novel!!!

Cover-to-Cover Excitement!

Reviewer:

R. Pendleton (Baltimore, MD USA)

"Call of the Sea" is a great read! I couldn't put it down and finished it in one sitting.

The action set during the United States' infancy is exciting and fast-paced. The characters are well-developed. Readers can relate to their personalities, feelings, and convictions.

After following Jonathan Coyne's development to become a first-rate sailor, we watch him become a superb commander when the War of 1812 breaks out. All the while his personal emotions are whipsawed by uncontrollable circumstances.

Anyone who enjoys naval history, especially the "Master and Commander" genre, will love "Call of the Sea."

 

 

THE HISTORIC NOVEL AS A SPRINGBOARD TO HISTORY

                                                            By

                                                Philip V.G. Wallace

 

For many of us, the history learned in school was sketchy and boring. Who thought that behind those dates and bare statements of fact lay fascinating human dramas upon which current events have been built? And yet, not knowing history leaves us vulnerable to all sorts of misconceptions about who we are and how we arrived at where we are today.

 

I have my own voyage into this genre. Several years ago, at a tag sale, I picked up the whole Time-Life MARINERS series of naval history. My education was heavily classics oriented, but I have to admit that my grasp of American history was a bit weak. I always had interest in military history and in the sea. One book in that series was THE FRIGATES. It introduced me to such names as Stephan Decatur, Richard Somers, Charles Stewart and Charles Preble. Names that previously meant nothing to me suddenly sprung to life as genuine heroes. It told of the precarious start of the U.S. Navy and how we lurched unprepared into the War of 1812, America’s Second War of Independence. The action was vivid -- almost larger than life. How come nobody ever told me about this history? From there on, I read everything I could get my hands on about that period. The British actually burned Washington! But for an ambiguous communication, they might have taken Baltimore. The Star Spangled Banner took on new meaning. The lawyer Francis Scott Key, having been with the British fleet negotiating a prisoner exchange, witnessed the relentless bombardment of Fort McHenry wherein his countrymen were entrenched. Imagine the explosion of pride he felt when dawn broke to reveal the American flag still flying.  His countrymen had prevailed!

 

My mind began to race through these perilous days. What curves did events throw at ordinary people simply trying to live their lives? What happened to impressed seamen? What about the families they left behind?

 

How did ordinary people – lovers, friends, parents and children – make it?  They were people like us, enduring in a socially harsh time when communication was slow and travel even slower. From this emerged my own historic novel CALL OF THE SEA. In one sense, it’s a crash course in early American history. In another sense, we see the time when Britannia ruled the waves from the unsung American perspective. It also spotlights the role of the sea which covers three-quarters of the earth’s surface and was critical to our economic survival. The sea: relentless and unpredictable, demanding the best of men and often bringing out the worst. The historic events are factual and the seamanship real. But most of all, we follow Jonathon Coyne and Liz Wade, star-crossed lovers caught up in the tangle of history.

 

Now, it’s exciting to hear readers of CALL OF THE SEA tell me that they too had little knowledge of this fascinating, critical period of American history. Many are now inclined to dig for more information. Some said they want to re-visit Washington and Baltimore with a new eye towards what happened in those places. I tell them not to forget Old Ironsides, the U.S.S. Constitution, still looking good at the Boston Navy Yard. Indeed, the novel can be a good springboard into history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CRASH COURSE IN EARLY AMERICAN HISTORY

 

C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian put us on the decks of British warships during early nineteenth century. Now see history through the eyes of the vastly outnumbered American sailors during the War of 1812, often called America’s Second War of Independence. In CALL OF THE SEA, read about the three days that changed the course of American history and gave birth to the Star Spangled Banner and how narrowly our country survived this struggle that saw a British expeditionary force rampage on American soil.

 

 

 

 

This is the dramatic tale of Johnny Coyne and Liz Wade who lived a love story to break your heart at a time when only a handful of American skippers faced the might of the British navy. It’s a crash course in early American history that you probably never learned in school.  Mary McGahan, Historian.and Author of RAID AT RED MILL writes: Star-crossed lovers Jonathon Coyne and Liz Wade provide a human dimension to a time in history that saw Washington burned and Baltimore besieged. The pages flew as I followed this tale of action and romance. (Read more five-star reviews when you go to CALL OF THE SEA by Philip V.G. Wallace on www.amazon.com.)

 

 


 

 

To capture a moment of beauty and preserve it for

others makes all the work worthwhile. To think that it gives pleasure over time in someone’s home is really special.

 

 

 

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