In today’s blog I would like to turn my attention once again to my horror novel ‘The Cornwall Ghost Story’ and a character study of George Avine, husband to Esmeralda. He plays a fairly leading role in the novel appearing quite regularly to Fiona Noble in the form of visions. As time moves on they make personal contact after Fiona had witnessed him from afar. Of course they exist in very different epochs of time: Fiona in the modern day, George in the early nineteenth century, but despite this it is not long before a close bond forms between them.
As I have explained in previous blogs on this novel Fiona Noble has to piece together the series of events which followed the capsizing of George’s ship and report back to Esmeralda with her findings. Esmeralda never did discover what had happened to George after receiving her letter from the admiralty informing her he had been lost at sea. She went to her death with a horrible sense of emptiness in her heart as she could never find out what happened to her darling husband.
As Fiona had discovered when experiencing one of her first visions involving George, this naval officer was possessed of amazing strength. How else would he have been able to dive off his sinking ship and swim to shore through a raging storm? But this was not the full extent of his strength. He also possessed a lot of mental toughness which was just as well when Fiona discovered all he had had to go through from the moment he swam ashore through that choppy sea.
Setting foot on French soil was not the best course George could have chosen, but he had no alternative. It was the nearest land to his sinking ship so he set his sights on that, not realising he was heading for enemy territory. It did not take Fiona long to unearth the full significance of George’s landing spot. In 1805, the year when this event occurred, Britain was at war with France. So George had unwittingly placed himself in harm’s way from the moment he climbed ashore.
Sure enough it was not long before he found himself a prisoner of war, shut up in a dingy French jail. In a later vision Fiona ‘sees’ George in his prison cell writing a letter to Esmeralda. It is an emotional letter full of sadness as he is missing her so much and telling her of his desperate straits. He tells her in the letter that if he never has the chance to see her again then he thanks her for providing him with some of the greatest moments he has ever known. Fiona is touched beyond words by his sentiments but wonders how Esmeralda will ever see the letter. It is clear she did not as she did not learn anything more about him after the other letter she received, the one from the admiralty.
Soon after, however, George has the good fortune to be saved from the French by a rescue committee. But it is not the British Navy who reclaim him. No, he is out with two French guards on one of his exercise periods when they are assailed by a gang of pirates who slit the throats of the two French guards and take George with them to their ship. It soon transpires they have discovered the French have been holding a British naval officer which has piqued their interest. They believe he would be perfect for them, providing invaluable navigational expertise which they could put to good use.
In one of Fiona’s other visions she finds herself in the West Indies where she finds the pirate ship sitting by the quayside. She looks up and sees George who is still in irons. The pirates may have saved him from the French but they are not prepared to give him any sense of freedom. So they leave him shackled up on their ship while they do what pirates do (ie drinking, womanising and gambling). Fiona steps on board and tells him he must find a way to escape from the pirates and return back to England as Esmeralda still believes he is alive and is awaiting his return.
Fiona feels it is important for George to get away from the pirates for more than one reason. She is worried they might change him, turning him into a person Esmeralda would not recognise. The longer he remains in their society he will be turned away from the correct path and be led into all manner of disagreeable choices. This is not something Fiona would wish for him. So she lets him know that time is of the essence. He simply must find a way to break free from his shackles and find a way back home to his dear wife.
Through all her experiences with him, Fiona is touched by the great love George holds for Esmeralda. She believes it is this love which is giving him the strength to overcome all of the adversity he is facing. She thinks this will provide him with the courage he will need to break free from the controlling influence the pirates have taken over him.
While Fiona is talking to George, he notices the ship’s crew are on the way back from their revelries, so tells Fiona to step off the ship before they find her. She would not want to come under the attention of a group of pirates, especially ones who would have been partaking rather readily in the local taverns.
Fiona is quick to take this advice before her presence is noticed by the returning pirates, but leaves George with the parting shot that he must do all in his power to escape from the pirates. George assures her he will do everything he can to achieve this.
This is just the opening sequence of events in George’s long journey back to Esmeralda. Of course, this is a journey with no happy ending. But how close did George get to becoming reunited with his beloved? This is all explained later in the novel. George has to endure a lot as he goes from one experience to the next. Throughout it all, however, he proves himself to be a man of real vitality who never lets any obstacle stand in his way in his desperate quest to find Esmeralda. It is little wonder that Fiona admires him so much. He is possessed of so many qualities. And let it not be forgotten he is a young man. As I explained in an earlier blog when Fiona first catches sight of Esmeralda she sees her as a young woman. I never specify how old she is, but I have always thought of her as someone in her early twenties and George is of a similar age. It is therefore highly laudable that such a young man is possessed of so many qualities. It is undeniable perhaps that it is his youth which gives him his physical strength. But not every man of such tender years would be able to call on the reserves of mental strength which he does.
George was a fun character to write. I enjoyed giving him the strength of will which serves him so well throughout the novel. In writing about him and Esmeralda I came to see how love truly can conquer all. I know this is a strange admission to make. After all, we are talking about a horror novel here! But when one is fighting against insuperable odds a love attachment can work wonders in dragging an individual through his personal travails. Before the novel draws to its conclusion it becomes apparent that the love that exists between George and Esmeralda is eternal.