What Happened to Selina Smith.
Last night I finally uploaded this novella on Smashwords. Thanks to Phill Evans, who designed the cover, and other people who filled me in on the lives of Victorian showmen.
Selina, 13, and the eldest of four children, lives in a cottage near Market Drayton. Her father works on the canal, unloading barges and seeing to the needs of the bargees and their horses.
Her mother is expecting another child and is unwell and not able to work. Selina leaves school to attend the annual Hiring Fair and is chosen to work at the Rectory as a laundress, where she shares a room with Molly, the parlor maid. Life becomes even harder when Selina’s mother dies in childbirth, and to comfort herself she visits Bostock and Wombwell’s Travelling Menagerie, which has just arrived in town…
This Menagerie did visit Market Drayton and there is a photograph of the procession, led by a camel and an elephant pulling the lead wagon. Anyone who know camels will tell you this was no easy achievement. Back to the story.
You’ve guessed it. Selina leaves the Rectory after avoiding the advances of Mr Rodney, the son of the house, who feels she should be his property, and goes off with the Menagerie, becoming part of the circus family with Betty, the Python Handler, Marcus Orenzo, the lion tamer, Wallace the lion, Major Mite Tiny and a dozen more showmen and women.
This book, drawn closely from contemporaneous accounts in newspapers of the era, tells of one young penniless girl’s adventures and how she uses her wits and skill to survive, thrive and support her younger siblings.