More research – and hitting jackpot!

I decided this week that it was about time I headed back to the history and library centre to see what other records were available regarding the workhouse. I drove through rain and sleet to get there, and this time parked in the railway station car park, which allowed me to stay for longer in the day but provided a short walk through the foul weather. I paid £10 for the privilege of taking photos of the records as I worked, but sadly the copyright rules prevent me from publishing them at this point, as the licence is for personal research use only.

Apprenticeships and employment

My first request was for a set of books that promised records of apprenticeships and visits to children who had been found work from the workhouse. The first only contained three entries, and left me feeling rather disappointed, but the second had a few more records and the third was much more useful still, containing not only details of children who had been found employment but further information; I was touched to learn that someone, probably around 1900, had carried out their own research into the children, and had recorded details of what had happened to them. Entries ranged from “died at sea” through “did exceedingly well at apprenticeship but died of consumption shortly thereafter” to “Did well during apprenticeship and went on to Australia, doing well there when last heard of.”

Here I found some important information about Edwin Newing, the oldest of the orphans – aged 12 at the time of his parents’ death, at the age of 16 he was apprenticed to a builder in Eddington, Herne until the age of 21. Next to his name the note said “Left apprenticeship and went to America – married Mary Curtis. Did well – returned to England and is doing very well indeed as a Painter etc.” I was interested in this casual mention of his wife, and was rewarded a couple of pages later with an entry for Mary Curtis herself, who was employed in a private household in Kensington, her note saying “Did well and stayed some years afterwards going to America got married to Edwin B Newing returned and keeping lodging house Herne Bay & doing well.” A quick check revealed that in fact Mary Curtis was in the workhouse at the same time as Edwin during that 1881 census, so although they apparently married in Canada they had already known each other since childhood.

I was, however, curious about Edwin leaving his apprenticeship, since he was already in Canada by the age of 20.

Punishment book

My next request was for the Punishment Book. This proved to be a wonderful source of information, if not for “my” people then for life in the workhouse generally. The one person I was familiar with who did show up a few times was Sarah May, the charwoman who seemed to have spent her entire life in and out of the workhouse. She was recorded with transgressions such as obscene language, indecent behaviour in the wash-house, and going to a ward where an able bodied man was at work contrary to orders given by the matron. Punishments tended to be withdrawal of butter for the day and substitution of bread or potatoes for the main meal. I found this quite amusing until I realised that she was around the same age as I am now and was being punished like a child. I also learned that she had a teenage daughter in the workhouse with her, as at one point they were both in the punishment book together, with an entry that appears to read “striking her mother”/ “striking her daughter”.

John Hearnden (the lunatic) was also in the punishment book, for leaving the premises without permission instead of going to work in the garden, or staying out longer than permitted – in fact this seemed a common transgression, particularly amongst one or two of the men, who were regularly reported as returning late and drunk, occasionally returned by the police!

At this point, from 1860ish to around 1880ish, punishments seemed to be mainly withdrawal of food and/or free time, but there are very few punishments recorded in the 1880s and there appears to be a sharp change in the 1890s onwards with punishments recorded including caning, birching and solitary confinement, or a specific “disorderly diet” for 24 hours.

At this point in my research I headed for lunch in the small cafe round the corner, and returned refreshed and ready to tackle the next set of documents.

Emigration records

Knowing that some of the Newing children had journeyed out to the States and Canada, I had requested what was listed as emigration records, and discovered this consisted of a large but slim envelope containing various papers. The first couple of papers were records showing agreements to transport various children, dated around 1862, including information on what dietary allowance would be made for them and assurance that they would be given a place to sleep no smaller than 6ft long and 18 inches wide. All very interesting, but not directly related to my orphans, so I held out little hope as I turned to the next document, a small handwritten letter. I was getting used to deciphering handwriting by now, so the words “little Newings” jumped out at me. Checking records when I reached home confirmed my first belief – this letter, written in 1892, was from the couple who ran the boarding house where Charlotte and Nathaniel Newing were recorded as living in 1891, and was addressed to the clerk at the workhouse, confirming that Mrs Heaven would be happy to escort the little Newings up to London. I had to laugh at this – the “little Newings” were 13 years old (Charlotte) and 15 years old!

Having transcribed this letter into my records, I turned to the next document – and that’s when I found myself unable to believe my eyes: it was a letter written by Edwin Newing himself! The oldest of the orphans, he had travelled to Canada and was now writing to the clerk of the workhouse asking for his brother and sister to be sent out to him so he could care for them. Here I discovered more about this failed apprenticeship, as he said in his letter: “We are orphans, and was brought up in the Blean Union Workhouse until I became old enough to earn my own living, when I was apprenticed and owing to ill treatment on the part of my master, I absconded before I served my time and went to live at Wallington, Surrey where after being out of work for a long time, I made an application to the Croydon Guardians for assistance in emigrating to this country, which after due consideration they awarded me £5 which I understood came from the government grant, awarded annually for assisting emigration. Since I have been in this country I ordered my little sister and brother’s discharge then inmates of the B. Union, and have paid for their maintenance ever since, which has been a very great strain on my purse, so much so, that I cannot afford to continue it any longer. If I had them out here, they could live with me, and the expense for their maintenance would not be an inconvenience to me.”

This, then, was the cause of the letter from the Heavens arranging escort, and the rest of the folder was taken up with a series of memorandums from passenger, shipping, insurance, commission & general agents in London, arranging for transport for the Newing children up to Liverpool and then onto a ship over to Nova Scotia. It appears they had to travel second class, as the ship would not carry steerage due to problems with quarantine for cholera, and 15 shillings was paid to the stewardess on board to take care of them on the journey. They duly boarded the Carthaginian on October 25th 1892.

A copy of an emigration document explains: “These children will be met by their older Brother on landing at Halifax in which Town he resides and is an assistant station master on a Railway. He will maintain the children at his own home until suitable situations are provided for them.” It provides an account of the expenses involved, a grand total of £7.

At this point it was time for me to head for home, through brilliant sunshine, taking a detour to avoid the motorway where a 15ft deep sinkhole had opened in the central reservation since I had travelled up on it this morning. Remember that rain?

I’ll be going back to the library next week, to continue my look through the archives. I’ve now learned that what looks promising sometimes isn’t, while treasures can lurk in the least likely of places, and I’m getting much more of a feel for the people who lived there and those who were responsible for their care.



Learning to read

I first learned to read when I started school, many years ago, and I’ve always found it easy. I remember one afternoon when I was around seven years old I read two Enid Blyton books in one afternoon. By the time I was ten I was reading books written for adults, and I chose my secondary school on the basis of the books in the school library.

So it was a shock today to experience problems reading.

To be fair, it wasn’t that surprising I was finding it difficult: hubby and I had gone on a one day course with the local library service, introducing palaeography, or reading old handwriting, with the idea of showing how to access old archives.

There were nine of us plus the tutor, and with her assistance we worked our way through a variety of documents, from wills to stocktaking to personal letters, dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some were easier than others, but in just about all the documents there were unfamiliar ways of forming the letters, strange flourishes that were sometimes for decoration and sometimes significant and we even came across one writer who dotted his Cs!

The most entertaining was a letter from a man to the woman he was supposed to be marrying that day, expressing his deep sadness at being unable to marry her – from what we could gather, he had lost his voice and would be unable to say his vows, but he hoped that remedies of sugar candy would restore his voice and allow the marriage to go ahead at a later date (“From your dearest husband to be. Give my love to your maid Susan”!).

I found it frustrating to have the writing in front of me but struggle to make out the letter forms, or to put the letters together and understand what word was made. Sometimes letters were left out, sometimes the spelling was non-standard and sometimes it was simply a word that was unfamiliar in modern times. A P with a line underneath it, for example, was usually short for PAR or PER, while a P with a line over it was PRA or PRE. W and V were interchangeable, and a W with a flourish over meant VER, so EVERY looked a little like EWY. One document spelt TOWN as TOWEN throughout. Often if a word was abbreviated there was a line over the top – I guess that was the origin of the apostrophe to show omitted letters in the abbreviations we commonly use, such as ISN’T.

The whole experience brought home to me how dependent we are on reading to help us in our everyday lives, how we take the skill for granted and how tough it must be for someone who does struggle with literacy. I wondered what people would think in years to come, trying to decipher some of the writing people do these days, such as B4 U GO and TY, and how consistent they would consider our spelling and letter forms to be.

I’ve just completed a writing challenge, to put 50,000 words together. I enjoy words. I enjoy the stories they can tell. I’m grateful that I can complete such a challenge, and that reading is not normally an issue for me.

And I’m looking forward to the time when I manage to get back to the library again to get back to the workhouse records, because maybe I’ll be tackling the handwriting in the documents with a little more confidence because of my experience today.

Look out for learning experiences at your local library – well worth the effort!


New books, old books, so many books

I headed into Canterbury just before lunch today, and started by wandering around the city. I bought a cute notebook from Paperchase that’s two books in one, one half plain paper and the other half lined paper, and then I ended up in the Costa Coffee in Waterstones, making up stories about the people I saw in the city and admiring the number of books. There are loads of books. All looking very readable. All written by authors eager to have people read them. And those are just the books that make it to publication by publishers who sell them to bookstores. There are far more books available that never even make it as far as hard copies, and they’re all looking for readers.

Are there too many books and not enough readers? Or is it a case that in this new world where it is so easy for anyone to publish their own book the market for bestsellers, read by many people, is dying out, to be replaced by a market where many people each publish to a much smaller audience? But do we have more creators than consumers? Can the market survive in this way? Will there always be a place for a few high quality products, or is that being replaced by the many of possibly lower quality? Or can you maintain the quality while increasing the variety? And if so, how do you choose, if there’s not the gateway of the established publishers to go through, but just an online catalogue where everyone screams out, “Pick me! Pick me!”?

The world of reviews is becoming more and more important, I feel, as people add their views of books to places like Amazon and Goodreads, and help others to pick through the choices available, and this has the dual role of making readers just as important as writers, and then of making those readers writers in their turn, as they express their opinions of what they have read.

I’ve been pondering for a while what right I have to feel I have anything worth saying in print, any idea that’s worth the effort of making available to readers. In short, what point there is in me adding to the many many books already available. At this point in the coffee shop I was beginning to feel there was little point in even trying.

Then I headed to the Cathedral in the middle of the city, via a very pleasant walk along by the theatre and river (must go on a river tour by boat sometime in the summer!). I made my way to the Cathedral Lodge, a very imposing building in the Cathedral Precinct that serves as a hotel and conference centre. There I joined with about 20 others who had booked for afternoon tea and a tour of the archives.

Smoked salmon sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, fruit cake and tea or coffee were on offer, along with a very pleasant chat with some of the other visitors and the Cathedral Conservator, and then we made our way through the Cathedral itself to a room through a mysterious door. This proved to be a very long room full of bookshelves, which was the collection of a previous Archbishop, I do believe – a typical Victorian library with bibles and prayerbooks mixed in with books on natural history, the abolition of the slave trade and many other topics that we were told were the standard Victorian gentleman’s fare.

Set out on display in that room were some real treasures – a charter signed by William the Conqueror and Queen Matilda, for a start, plus books and other charters dating from around the 11th century onwards. We admired these for a while and heard about some of their history, and then moved on through the reading room upstairs to the conservator’s room, where we saw some of the projects she was working on and heard about some of the work she carries out to help preserve the ancient documents and books that form the library. Apparently there are enough books in the archives that if the bookshelves were laid in one line they would reach 2 kilometres – I can imagine that distance from parkrun, it’s a lot of books!

So my musings about the books available these days were mixed with musings of all these ancient books, and what they contain, and how often they are looked at, but the focus on the tour at the cathedral was definitely on the hardware rather than the software, so to speak – preserving the documents themselves and their historical significance, rather than the information they contain. It was a very interesting debate between preserving and restoring documents, between their content and their physical presentation, and made me think of both the flimsy design of modern paperbacks and the difference between preserving physical books and their electronic equivalents.

So did I come to any conclusions? I think what I decided in the end was that it was the act of creating that matters. That someone at some point considered them important, so the books and documents came into being. As for my own writing, it’s no good writing because I want to sell lots of books. I need to write because I love it, because I want to get my own ideas down. If I get something worth printing at the end that’s a different topic altogether, but it should never be the first focus.

Oh, and I came to a decision about my workhouse book, I think, at least for now. I’ll be picking groups and individuals who are maybe archetypes of the workhouse inmates, exploring their lives and using them as illustrations for life generally for them and the role the workhouse played in their lives.

I’ve got the Newings, who ended up in there as orphans (although they went in previously with their mother, but that story is for another day), there’s John Hearnden, who went in there as a lunatic, but was in and out of there in the decades preceding the census as well, there’s the Goodwins who ended up in there for their final years, and there’s two more groups to start researching: the Curds, who ended up in there as a young single mother with children, one of whom was born in the workhouse, and Sarah May, bless her, whose name cropped up so many times in the admissions/discharges book over the years that she kind of wormed her way into my heart and so the book.

Altogether it was a fascinating afternoon in the cathedral archives, with lots of food for thought, even though we got to see a very small part of the massive store of resources they actually possess. And now it’s up to me to continue my search through archives to pull a story together from what I find, to preserve that story for generations to come. That project, at least, I am confident is worthwhile.


Serious research time

Goodwin, Mary, aged 74, died 24th January 1882, body taken by friends

Goodwin, Mary, aged 74, died 24th January 1882, body taken by friends

After saying yesterday that the response from the historical records centre should be received within 20 days, I did receive a prompt reply, advising me how to book a desk at the centre. A couple of emails later I had a place booked from 10am, and so set out this morning happy in the knowledge that by the end of the session I would at least know what I was facing, research-wise.

I found a parking space just down the road, paid for four hours, then wandered round the library for half an hour just looking – they have a substantial section of local history books for loan and for reference use, as well as the records.

Then I approached the desk, had my ID checked and explained what I was after. A librarian (I assume that’s what she was!) sorted me out with a computer and some microfilm to start with, having briefly shown me a  ringbinder that served as an index to the records. She also gave me a lanyard containing a swipe card to get into the search room, a desk number and a locker key, and some pink sheets that I could fill in to request other records.

It’s been many years since I last used microfilm, but a quick lesson later I was searching documents for sight of my inmates. The microfilm was threaded onto a machine that was linked to a computer for easy viewing – four buttons drive the film, fast forward and back and slow forward and back, but the slightest tap of the slow button could shoot on further than I wanted at first. It was also tough to read the handwriting, and zooming in on the image was no help as it just pixellated. Most of the books had been photographed with one landscape page per shot, but one of the books I tried to look at had been photographed as a double page spread, which in landscape orientation made for a much smaller image that proved more or less impossible to read. It also took me a while to realise that the microfilm contained several books, each one starting and ending with a title shot giving details of what it contained, e.g. Blean Union Workhouse Deaths 1866-1890. Linear searching, with no central index – how quaint!

After an hour or so on the microfilm, I decided it was time to venture into the search room itself, so I put everything except my papers, mechanical pencil and ipad (with bluetooth keyboard) in the assigned locker and used the swipe card to enter a large room with huge flat desks. The room itself had a glass wall and door dividing it from the main library, and was air-conditioned. I assume it was for the protection of the books, but I wasn’t complaining! There were a few other people in there, all looking very studious with laptops and huge tomes in front of them. A bookshelf lined one wall, another, smaller, bookshself contained the ringbinder indexes, and there were a couple more computers and microfilm viewers against other walls. A librarian sat at a desk by the door and she took my library card. I found my desk and the resource I’d asked for was brought to me – a big, heavy old ledger that the librarian arranged on a foam pad with wedge shapes to hold it open comfortably.

I found what I wanted in there with little trouble, and then wandered round to look at the books along one wall – these ranged from general history/reference books to things like lists of marriages.

With some more help I located the index to the records again, and by now the system was starting to make more sense. I carefully wrote down some of the references that I thought might be useful, and attempted to order one, using the pink cards on the desk. When it was brought over, however, I’d managed to order the microfilm again! I soon spotted my mistake, but by this time it was only half an hour before my parking ticket ran out, so I arranged to visit again next week, returned resources, collected my belongings and left.

One problem I found at first was that between requesting the records and receiving them I’d forgotten what each reference was for and so wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be looking for inside, so I’ll be more careful next time to take notes. I did find some useful information – it was strangely moving to find the names I’d researched handwritten in the records – but there’s definitely a lot more to find out, and I’m looking forward to next week, when I’ll be much more efficient right from the start. I’ve also gone back to the online index, and now that I’ve thought to look beyond the first five results (!) I see there is indeed a long list of the different resources available, alongside their finding number. What I’m not sure of is what happens if they’re available on microfilm – on the paper copy of the index in the library there is a pink dot and a number written next to those available on microfilm, but the online version seems to carry no reference to this. (Note to self: the number only refers to the entries with pink dots – don’t look at ordinary entries and then look up the page for the nearest number!)

Goodwin, Edward, aged 77, died 28th May 1844, buried in Blean.

Goodwin, Edward, aged 77, died 28th May 1844, buried in Blean.

What did I find out? The death register for the workhouse confirmed that Mary Goodwin did indeed die in the workhouse, and gave the date as Jan 24th 1882. Under Burial, the entry says “body taken by friends.” Two years later, on May 28th 1884, Edward Goodwin also died, and he was buried in Blean.

I also found out from the Lunatic Asylum records that John Hearnden was admitted there on 7th January 1882, and was listed as “removed” on 28th August 1895, with no indication of where he was removed to. I found it interesting that in my notes I referred to the place as St A’s (St Augustine’s), finding it very difficult to use the words “lunatic asylum”, but I suppose I should get used to referring to it as such. Again, there are more records to be searched, so my research on John Hearnden will continue.

I didn’t find any trace of the Newing family, but I wasn’t really looking at the right records for them this time round, and I think I’ll also try to add one more inmate or group of inmates to the research list for next week’s visit. Right now I need to add the screenshots I took of the death entries to the Goodwin tree on – and then get on with some other outstanding work.


Six sentence Sunday?

I was searching for a file on my computer the other day and one totally irrelevant option it came up with was an old nano novel I started in 2006.  (Several options, actually – I think I have around 21 incremental versions of the story!).  I can’t even remember if I finished the story, but the latest version I have is 50,138 words long and 118 pages.  The big question now is: is it worth going back through it and trying to do something with it?  Can I even do that, bearing in mind all I have is the story itself and no planning notes that I can find (I know it’s nano, and so more or less stream of consciousness, but I have so many characters it’s going to be fun keeping them all straight!)?

The opening of the story:

I looked around me in satisfaction: all these problems, and I was going to be the one to save them.  A whole world, grateful to me.  One of the babies cried, and I stooped to pick it up.  One of the girls, I think it was; it’s difficult to tell, when they’re all dressed in these white suits.  Really, white isn’t a good colour for babies; grey would have been better, or maybe vomit green,  but you have to do things right, don’t you? As future saviours of the human race, they had to wear white – even if it was smeared with food and grimy from crawling around on the floor.

Okay, I confess, I had to juggle it a little to make it six sentences long 🙂

So, I’ve added technical writer to my resume for the summer – do I add aspiring novelist as well?  Whatever I do, I think I need to get back into the habit of writing regularly either on here, in my hand written notebook or possibly both.  I miss the stimulus of putting words together in an imaginative way.

Into the depths

door to the depthsYesterday I decided it was about time I went through the files I rescued from my old poorly laptop, to see what was actually worth keeping.  In there I found a folder called stories.  Inside was some interesting stuff including drafts/plans for three novels (none of which are my current WIP).

I’ve no idea what state they’re in – I haven’t read through yet – but two were complete first drafts I believe, for nanowrimo.  The third is started but not very far in.  It served as a reminder that at a couple of points I have been fairly active in writing.  On rereading, I don’t think it’s too bad at all, although the main weakness of my writing is glaringly obvious – the main stuff I’ve written has been fanfiction, where there’s been no demand to draw characters or basic settings well because any reader will be very aware of them already.  As a result my writing tends to be bare bones action, with very little description or scene setting.

One in particular I believe is a story well worth persevering with, although in fact all three could well be continued further.  I’d sort of been forgetting about them, because of the lack of current work/notes for them, but now that excuse is gone.

With the realisation that writing needs to tap a nerve if it is to be really effective, I feel there’s going to be more venturing into the depths of hidden areas in the months to come.

As a side note, has anyone tried writing collaboratively?  Either as in co-authoring or as a group effort?  I’m also wary of writers’ circles – in my mind they tend to be groups of people who sit around reading their work to each other and telling each other how wonderful it is.  Am I wrong?  Are there truly supportive circles out there, with authors who seek constructive criticism rather than constant praise?  Am I just being grossly unfair to writers’ circles?

I would love to be involved with a group whose aim is to improve writing, but not very good at going out and joining things, and not sure how they would work anyway.  Surely there’s something similar that’s web-based, where people can post their writing to be reviewed in a constructive, supportive, positive atmosphere and share with each other?


The Stuff of Fairytales

I dug out some of the really old stories, the first fanfics that I wrote.  I’ll post them here over the next few weeks.  Don’t think I’ll bother editing them, they stand as they are; just remember that they were written around 12 years ago!

These stories are based on characters from Stargate SG1. Enjoy.

The Stuff of Fairytales

Disclaimer: I don’t own them, I’m not making any money out of this.  I just enjoy playing with them for a while, and hope you enjoy reading the result.

AUTHOR: loopy
CATEGORY: Action/Adventure
SPOILERS: Children of the Gods
WARNING:  Character Death.  But it’s Daniel, so you know how it’s going to end, right??

“Wow,  this is amazing!”  Daniel moved his fingers excitedly over a small wooden box he had found hidden in the ruins of the old temple they had discovered.

“If this inscription is true, then maybe even the fairy tales on Earth are based on real events!”  He lifted up the small tape recorder he had been recording his observations onto.  “The language appears to be some combination of Goa’uld, Babylonian and something I’ve never seen before.”  He continued to talk to the machine about the inscription on the top of the box, trying to analyze exactly what language he was dealing with.   He lifted his head and looked around briefly.  Sam was still not in sight.  Probably exploring the other half of the temple, which seemed more or less intact.  Daniel was much more interested in the artifacts to be found amongst the ruins, while Jack and Teal’c had gone to look around the forest that surrounded them.

Daniel bent his head to his work again.  The inscription seemed to talk of some poison.  Daniel wondered if it was within the box.  Maybe the box itself was poison – but if that were so then he would surely be dead already.   Daniel shook the box gently.  It was about the size of a shoebox, made of some kind of dark wood, and with a tight fitting lid.  Curious to know what was inside, and vowing to be very careful, he took his knife out of his pocket and began to prise gently at the lid of the box.

Suddenly a noise startled him, and the knife slipped, cutting his hand.  He muttered something under his breath, then sucked his hand and looked round.  He had thought Sam was behind him, but all he saw was some kind of animal slipping back into the forest.  Daniel cursed again, and stood up to look for the first aid kit, then staggered suddenly and fell back to his knees.  His head came up abruptly as he looked at the box, and then his hand.  Frantically he grabbed for the tape recorder.  “Th-th-the b-b-box was p-p-poison,” he stammered.   “Pins and apples, Sam, pins and apples,” then he fell forward amongst the rocks and lay horribly still, the tape recorder at his side still turning, recording the noises of the forest and the sounds of Daniel’s last breaths.

About forty minutes later Sam returned from the temple, where she had been taking notes of a new set of cartouches on the wall.   “Daniel,” she called, then spotted her friend slumped over a pile of rocks.  As she moved closer, she spotted the box that she had left him working on, now with a smear of what looked like blood on the corner.  That and the knife lying beside Daniel’s blood-covered hand told its own story.  The top of the box contained some sort of inscription, which Daniel had been trying to translate, but the box itself was empty.

Sam bent over Daniel, then dropped to her knees as she took in her friend’s blue-white face.  “Daniel?” she whispered, and felt for a pulse on his neck.  Even as she did so, she took in from the cold flesh that she was far too late.

As Jack and Teal’c returned to the temple even Teal’c was out of breath from the steep climb.  “I’m glad we traveled light on this mission!” Jack gasped as they finally reached the ruins.  As they turned the corner past the largest pile of rocks, Jack became aware of Carter sitting on the ground, cradling Daniel in her arms.  As she stroked Daniel’s hair gently the Colonel cleared his throat.  “Not interrupting anything, are we?” he began cheerfully, then dropped to his knees beside them as he saw the tears which ran down Sam’s face.

Sam looked up at him.  “Daniel’s dead.”

“What? How? Were you attacked?”  Jack looked around quickly, looking for signs of disturbance, of anything which might be responsible for his friend’s death.  He saw nothing except a wooden box with a smear of blood, and a knife lying open on the ground.

“I left Daniel working on translating the inscription on this box.  I was working in the temple, but when I got back I found him like this.   He’s dead, Jack.  He was already cold when I found him.”  Sam took a deep breath and tried to hold back the tears that had flown unbidden. 

“How long were you away?”  Jack knelt down beside them.   A quick check of Daniel’s pulse confirmed Sam’s story.

“About an hour.”  Sam looked down at Daniel, who other than being a strange blue-white colour looked as if he might wake up at any moment.  “I don’t understand it, Sir, there seems to be nothing wrong with him other than that cut on the hand.”

Teal’c bent over the box without touching it.   “That is very similar to goa’uld writing,” he reported.  “I am unfamiliar with most of it, but I can see the symbol for poison, and that symbol there is similar to that for the word death.”

“Well, that would explain why he would apparently die from a small cut on the hand,” Jack grunted.  “I’m certainly not going to touch it.”

He looked down at Daniel in despair.  To have gone through all the adventures, all the battles they had faced together, and then for Daniel to be overcome by a goa’uld poison! He shook his head, erasing all thoughts of the courageous way Daniel had faced up to Ra, just when Jack had written Daniel off as a useless geek, and the innumerable times since then that they had fought for each other – and the times Jack had had to drag Daniel out of some kind of trouble.  Jack shook his head sadly.  “I’m sorry, old friend,” he whispered quietly.   “I wasn’t around this time to keep you out of trouble.”

Sam reached for tape recorder lying by Daniel’s side.   She found it had run to the end of tape, so she rewound it and pressed play.    “Maybe there’s some kind of clue on here,” she suggested.

It was painful listening to the archaeologist as he muttered to the tape about the origins of the language on top of the box.   Then they heard Daniel stammering about the poison being on the box, and Jack’s face grew grim.   “What was that last part?”  he asked. 

Sam shook her head.  “It sounded like ‘pins and needles’, Sir,” she replied.  “I guess that’s how the poison felt to him.”.

Slowly the team packed up ready to leave.  Teal’c lifted the box gingerly and packed it in a plastic bag.  Maybe the scientists on earth could find some kind of clue as to what the poison was.  Jack somberly split Daniel’s load between him and Sam, while Teal’c slung his comrade’s body over his shoulder.  He had mentioned that it was Jaffa custom to bury the dead where they fell, but Jack gave such a scowl that it had not been mentioned again.

They set off down the hillside, helping Teal’c steady his load.  Teal’c strode on in silence, remembering the time when he had first met Daniel, the time when they had entered the palace at Chulak and found Sha’re, now taken over by a Gou’ald.  She had used her goa’uld weapon to knock Daniel unconscious, and it had been Teal’c’s job to carry the sleeping archaeologist to the dungeons.  At that point he had no idea that his burden would one day be one of his closest friends.   Since then he had carried him other times, but always before there had been hope.   Now there was no hope, and the burden seemed the heavier for it.

Sam carried Daniel’s glasses in her pocket;  she checked them to make sure they were still safe, then remembered that there would be no need for them anymore.  The number of pairs of glasses Daniel had got through in the time she had known him!  However had he managed on Abydos, with no optician in the nearest town?  She smiled at the thought, then the smile faded rapidly, as she helped Teal’c over a rock.  It was hard to believe that Daniel was really gone, that he would never come into the room bounding in excitement as he made a wonderful new discovery.   Daniel was the one who had made the gate work, and had always seemed central to the project.  Now the project would continue without him, and if they ever did manage to rescue Sha’re, there would be nothing for her.  Sam shook the thoughts from her head and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.

For the most part Jack walked a few paces in front, checking the path.  He looked through the forest at a small clearing, where there was an abandoned hut, and remembered how Daniel had shot over there, while Jack stood helplessly, his M16 in his hand, still checking the area was clear.  Would he ever learn to think first?  But it was too late for him now, his chance had gone, and Jack would never again have to worry about what his friend was doing, whether he was putting himself or someone else in danger.  His life would be much simpler now, he supposed – but he would give anything to have Daniel back, pain in the ass that he was!

When they stopped for camp that night they all sat eating silently, not looking at each other, and all pointedly avoiding the heap that lay at the edge of the clearing.  It was still another day and a half back to the Stargate, and all of them were dreading the return to Earth, and the questions that would follow.

Sam dreamed that night of Daniel, lying calling out to her.   “Sam, help me, please, come back!”  She woke up in a sweat, and stood up, looking round at her friends’ sleeping forms.  Then she noticed Jack rolling over to look at her.

“Problems, Sam?”  he asked.

Sam sat down beside him.  “I can’t help feeling responsible,” she admitted.  “If I’d have stayed nearby, I would have heard him call, maybe I could’ve helped – “

Jack sat up.  “Sam,” he said gently, “don’t go beating yourself up over all this.  If the silly bastard hadn’t tried forcing the box open – the one thing I learnt after Charlie died was that it’s useless to keep going over and over what might have been different.  You can’t change anything, you just have to learn to accept it and go on from there.  That’s one thing Daniel taught me…” his voice trailed off.

Teal’c joined them.  “I too learned from Daniel Jackson,” he said.  “I learned that it is possible to forgive, and to be forgiven.  I never thought that I could be forgiven for the crimes I committed in the service of Apophis, and Daniel should have been the last to forgive, but instead he became my friend, and trusted me with his life, and I trusted him with mine.”  He sighed deeply.  “And now he is no more.”

The three friends sat in silence for a while, together in body but each alone with their memories of Daniel, then Jack slapped his knees.   “Come on guys,” he said in an attempt to sound normal.  “We have a long walk ahead of us tomorrow, we need to sleep.”

The day on P3X878 was longer than that on Earth, so not wanting to stop while it was still light, it was nearly 24 hours later that the team stood at the DHD.  Jack stood beside it, his hand hovering over the controls.  This was usually Daniel’s job.  He looked around him at the others.   “Ready?” he asked.  They nodded, and he took a deep breath.   “Here goes.”

The General was shocked at the sight of the team coming back through the Gate.  “What happened?” he asked grimly, as he accompanied them to the Infirmary.  Teal’c lowered his burden onto a gurney. 

“It’s Daniel, Sir,” O’Neill said shortly, as Dr Frasier hurried over to them.  “He’s dead.”

Dr Frasier examined the body.  “How long ago?” she asked.

“About two days ago.  It was a long walk back,” O’Neill replied.  “As for what happened, we don’t know.  He was on his own for about an hour, and he cut his hand trying to get a box open.   Apparently the box contained poison.”  Jack shook his head, “he was already cold by the time Sam found him.”

He sat down heavily on a chair nearby, and put his head in his hands.

A few hours later, after some rest, Sam sat in the lab, waiting for the test results on the box.  She looked up at her team mates.   “It shows up as remarkably similar to our puffer fish poison,” she told them.  “Its result would be to paralyze the body completely.  Being unable to breathe, he would have simply suffocated, unless his heart stopped beating first.   Either way it’s deadly.  And there’s more to it, as well.  I can’t figure out what effect the other ingredients would have.”

“Dr Frasier is doing the post-mortem now,” Jack replied.  “Maybe she can give us some idea.”  Just then the phone rang.  Sam answered it.  “Carter.   Okay, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”  She turned to the others.   “Dr Frasier wants me in the infirmary.”

Frasier was frowning over Daniel’s body when Sam arrived.  “Tell me again, how long ago did he die?” she asked. 

“Two days ago, why?” replied Sam.

“I’m not sure.  It’s strange.  I can find no evidence of decay in the body, It’s like – I can find no signs of life, but I can find no signs of death either.”

“How is that possible?” Sam asked, looking down at her friend’s white face.  Daniel lay as if asleep, his blond hair surrounding his face like a halo.  In death, Daniel seemed even more vulnerable than in life, although Sam knew from experience that he was much more capable of taking care of himself than people gave him credit for.

“I don’t know.  It’s not possible.  But all I do know is, I’m not happy about cutting him open to find out why he died if I can’t find signs that he’s definitely dead.”

They gathered around the briefing table.  General Hammond was frowning, not liking the uncertainty surrounding Daniel’s death.   “Well, Doctor, is he dead or isn’t he?” he demanded.  Frasier shrugged.  “Sir, I can find no signs of life.  There is no brain activity, no heart activity, everything about him says he is dead.  And yet – Colonel, how long did rigor mortis last?”

O’Neill opened his mouth, then closed it again.   “Uh – I don’t think I noticed any – ” he looked around at the others, who shook their heads. 

“Well, that’s worrying, but means nothing on it’s own.”  Frasier looked round at the others.  “I need to know everything about where you were.  Anything, however small, that could give a clue as to what happened to Daniel.”

O’Neill cleared his throat.  He ought to have known that the archaeologist would be as awkward in death as in life.  “Carter, you were the last to see him alive.  What was he doing?”

Sam frowned.  “He was looking at that box.  I think he was trying to translate the inscription on it.”

“Do you know if he had any success in translating it?”

“He didn’t say.  Wait a minute, we have his tape recorder.  There might be some clue on that.”  This time they rewound the tape fully and listened to Daniel firstly recording his impressions of the temple from the outside, then looking at various artefacts.  Every time Daniel turned his attention to something new he gave a brief description, so it was easy to work out when he came to the box that had caused his death.  Daniel’s comment about fairy tales caused Teal’c to raise an eyebrow enquiringly.

“What is a fairy tale?” he asked.

Jack turned to look at him.  “Well you know, Teal’c, it’s – ah – ” he looked to Sam for inspiration.  “It’s the kind of story you tell your kid at bedtime, ” he finished.  “You know, the kind that start ‘once upon a time’ and end ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’  I used to love listening to that kind of story.  It was always the type of thing that would never happen in real life.”

“So what did Daniel Jackson mean when he said fairy tales were based on real life?”

“Ah hell, how should I know?” asked Jack impatiently.  “You know – knew – the man.  Always with his head in the clouds.”

Teal’c looked at Sam, who shook her head.  “If this is a fairy tale, then I guess Daniel must be Sleeping Beauty,” she commented, trying to raise a smile.

As Teal’c’s eyebrow raised again, Jack explained,   “In one fairy story, a princess called Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on a pin and fell asleep for a hundred years.”

“That certainly describes him,” agreed Frasier slowly.  “It’s just as if he’s going to wake up at any minute.”

Sam went pale, and stood up so abruptly her chair shot back.   “Or Snow White,” she whispered.  “Holy, Hannah, Janet, it wasn’t pins and needles he said after all.  It sounded like it, but maybe he really said ‘pins and apples’.”

As she looked at the blank faces around her, she repeated, “Pins and Apples.  Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on a pin and slept for a hundred years.  Snow White ate a poisoned apple and lay as if dead.  That’s what Daniel was trying to tell me.”

Now Dr Frasier had turned white as well.  “That’s incredible,” she said.  “You mean the fairy stories are based on truth?”

Sam spread her hands.  “I found that part of the poison is like one on earth that mimics death. If the other ingredients work to preserve the body so that it needs no oxygen – the Goa’uld were on this planet thousands of years ago.  I can just about picture a scene where the stories are handed down and turned into fairy tales, but with a basis in real events.”

Jack looked from one to the other.  “Does that mean you can revive him?” he asked cautiously, getting to the heart of the matter.

“I don’t know.  Anything’s possible, I suppose.   I would have said it was impossible for him to be in this state, but the number of times you’ve all found something new to amaze me…”

Teal’c stood up.  “Shall we move to the infirmary, then?”

A few moments later, O’Neill, Teal’c, Sam and Dr Frasier were all gathered around the bed on which the body of their friend lay.  “Any ideas?” asked Frasier.

“I suppose you’ve thought of trying the obvious,” Jack commented.

“How were the victims revived in the fairy tales?” asked Teal’c.  Frasier and Sam looked at each other.  “With a kiss”, they said simultaneously.

“Then should you not try that first?”

Jack snorted.  “I suggest that one of you ladies tries it.  I’m not sure what Daniel would think if it were one of us…”

Sam nodded.  “Janet, you try.”

Frasier looked at her, then stepped forward.  She bent over Daniel, imagining she could feel the cold radiating from him.  This was not the usual treatment for patients who were brought into the infirmary dead.  Slowly she moved her head down, then pressed her warm lips onto Daniel’s cold ones and kissed him.

She took a step back.  Nothing.

O’Neill frowned.  “I hope it doesn’t have to be his only true love that wakes him,” he commented.  “Otherwise we’re stuck unless we find Sha’are.”

Sam shook her head.  “No, Sleeping Beauty was woken by someone she’d never met before.” 

“I thought she’d already met the prince?”

“Only in the Disney version,” Sam grinned, feeling that the situation was now completely unreal.  Here they were, gathered around the body of the colleague and friend who only an hour ago they had been mourning, but now they were discussing fairy tales and Disney films.

Teal’c stepped forward.  “Is there anything else in these fairy stories that would help?” he asked.

Sam shook her head.  “I can’t think of anything, ” she replied, looking round at the others for assistance.  “They were both woken up by princes who fell in love with them and kissed them.”

“Then maybe the kiss should be a little more passionate?” suggested Teal’c.

Sam looked at him, then at Daniel.  To think of kissing her friend’s dead body – and yet Teal’c’s suggestion did make sense.  And after all, if they were just clutching at straws, if there was no hope of reviving him – at least she would have had the chance to say goodbye properly.  With this thought, before she could change her mind she stepped over to the bed, gathered Daniel’s limp body in her arms, and kissed him passionately.  Holding him for a couple of seconds, she searched his face for any kind of response, then laid him down again despondently.

Sam rubbed her hands over her face, then turned to the others.  “Any other ideas?” she asked.  But they were busy staring past her, at the bed.

Slowly, Sam turned round.  Daniel had opened his eyes, and was staring around him in surprise.  “How did I get here?” he asked weakly.  Dr Frasier moved over to him. 

“You were taken ill, Daniel,” she said briskly, taking his pulse.  “But now you’re going to be just fine.”  She busied herself checking him over, to hide the tears that were welling up in her eyes.  Of all her patients, Daniel was the one who managed to cut things finest…

Jack gave a broad grin.  “Space monkey,” he said affectionately.  “I oughta have known they couldn’t kill you off.”

Daniel looked from one to the other in complete amazement.   “What’s going on?” he asked. 

“That’s a long story, Daniel,” replied Jack.

Even Teal’c broke into a smile as he replied “It will make a good bedtime story, Daniel Jackson.”