It was in December of 1855 that I left Singapore. My time with James Brooke was generously rewarded and I found myself if not a wealthy man, then certainly in a position to return to England and live out my days quietly and in comfort.
I was by now approaching my middle years but I felt that I was still too young to retire to some country village. My time in the South China Seas had given me a taste for life in the Orient and James' stories of his experiences in India had left me curious about that country. So it was that when I took ship in the Swallow I paid my passage just as far as Calcutta.
We celebrated Christmas at sea. The captain served a goose at his table and the crew entertained us with an impromptu concert that combined sea shanties and some carols but otherwise there was little to mark Our Saviour's natal day. The sea looked much the same as the day before. There was a stiff breeze and, just before dark, there was a touch of rain.
I hope that all my readers enjoy a more festive Christmas in 2012.