"The Water Is Wide" by writerforever

(Based on a True Story)




The water is wide I cannot get o'er

And neither have I wings to fly

Give me a boat that will carry me

To my love o'er the sea



Ireland 1682

Twenty-year-old Joseph Sparks sat on the coast of Ireland. He stared out across the open sea and he listened to the sea gulls cries. He loved this place that he lived in. Although life was hard and full of pain there was also joy and happiness. He had lived here all of his life and he did not wish to leave. As he sat there pondering on how much he loved Ireland, Mariana strolled up to him. Mariana was his sweetheart or so everyone said. She was a beautiful eighteen-year-old girl with black hair and dancing green eyes. "Hello Joseph. What are you doing way up here?" she asked as she sat down beside him onto the green grass. Never taking his eyes of the sea he said, "I was just coming up here to get some peace. Every time I come up here I feel so peaceful and happy." Mariana smiled and said, "Yes, I know it is peaceful up here. It almost feels like I am in another world when I come up here." Joseph reached over and took Mariana's hand in his. The two sat staring off into the distance for a moment but they were suddenly interrupted by the sound of approaching hoofbeats. They watched as a horse and rider approached them. It was Kenton O'Riley. Kenton was the son of a rich and powerful landowner. He was in love with Mariana. He wanted her for his wife and he had always been jealous of her and Joseph. Kenton rode up beside of them and pulled his horse to a stop. He stared down at Joseph and Mariana, "Well, isn't this lovely!" he said mockingly. He then asked, "Mariana I came to see if you wanted to go for a ride? I'm sure you would enjoy it more than sitting and watching the sea." Joseph glared up at Kenton when he said these words. Kenton only chuckled. "Thank you Kenton for the kind offer but I. . .think I want to stay here," Mariana said. Anger filled Kenton's eyes and he glared down at Mariana, "Very well then. Sit and enjoy the sea together. But you'd better enjoy it because it may be your last." He turned his horse around and galloped away. Mariana sighed, "I hope he doesn't do anything to us. I suppose I should have went with him but I get so tired of him bothering me." Joseph reached out and touched her cheek, "Don't worry about it. I don't think he will do anything to us."

That night Joseph walked Mariana home. As they stood there in the moonlight Joseph kissed Mariana goodnight. She smiled and said, "Promise me that no matter what may happen that you will always keep me in your heart." Joseph nodded, "I promise you will always be in my heart." They said goodnight then parted.

The next morning Mariana went for a walk to pick some wild flowers. With a basket in the crook of her arm she walked across a large field of tall green grass. The wind blew through the tall grass causing it to ripple and sway. With her long black hair blowing loose about her, Mariana stood staring our across the field taking in all of the beauty. As she stood there she wished Joseph could be there with her but he was working with the other men in the fields. If they didn't work the landowners wouldn't buy the land. Without the money from the land all of the village people would starve and die or worse be sent to the Americas as slaves. That was what every Irishman feared. Those who were sent as slaves to the Americas had to work until they bought back their freedom. None of them ever returned. Mariana prayed that nothing like that would ever happen to Joseph. At that moment she saw Joseph walking towards her through the tall grass. She smiled and ran to him. She flung his arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. "What are you doing here? I thought you were working." "I'm taking a break and when your mother said you were up here I decided to come to you," Joseph said. Mariana reached up and touched a lock of his brown hair. Joseph took her hands in his and they stood there just staring into each other's eyes. Suddenly they heard a voice call out to them. It was Kenton and he looked angry. When he had reached them he glared at Joseph, "Why aren't you working in the fields!?" he asked angrily. "I was taking a break like the other men. We need a break every now and then," Joseph said. "You just wanted to be with Mariana. I know you. Now I want you to go back to work now!" Kenton said. Joseph was growing angry now, "Who are you to tell me what I am to do!?" "Because I am the landowner's son and what I say goes!" Kenton said. He then grabbed Mariana by the arm and pulled her to him. Mariana cried out and tried to pull away, but Kenton gripped her arm tighter and he said, "Right now I'm going to tell you something while I'm in the mood. Mariana is mine and we are going to be married whether you like it or not!" When Joseph saw Kenton grab Mariana he grew very angry. He reared back his fist and struck Kenton in the face. Stunned by the blow Kenton released Mariana and he fell to the ground. Joseph jumped on top of him and shouted angrily, "Don't you ever touch her again!" He began to punch Kenton and as he did Mariana watched in horror. Finally she reached down and grabbed Joseph's arm, "Joseph stop! He's had enough." Joseph stood and stared down at Kenton who lay unconscious. Mariana clung to Joseph and whispered, "Oh Joseph why did you do it!?"

That night someone pounded on the door of Joseph and his parents house. With a candle in his hand and dressed only in his nightgown, Mr. Sparks, Joseph's father, went to the door. As soon as he opened the door Kenton and his father, Jamieson O'Riley stepped into the house. They were both angry and Jamieson grabbed Mr. Sparks by the collar and asked, "Where is your boy!? I want to see him now!" Joseph stepped into the room and when he did Kenton punched him in the face. But before he could strike again his father stopped him. Jamieson glared at Joseph and said, "You beat up my son did you not?" Joseph nodded and said, "But only because he was treating Miss Mariana badly." "That still does not give you any excuse!" Jamieson said angrily. "And now that you have done this you will be punished. You are going to be sent to the Americas," Jamieson said. "You can't do that!" Joseph said. "Oh but I can and there is nothing you can do about it. You are coming with us now. You will be shipped to the Americas as a slave tomorrow morning," Jamieson said. Kenton smiled wickedly at Joseph and Joseph reared back his fist to strike Joseph but Jamieson said, "I wouldn't do that if I were you. You're in enough trouble already." By this time Joseph's mother and father were in tears. His father grabbed Jamieson's arm and begged, "Please Sir don't send our boy away! Please we beg you!" Jamieson shrugged off him, "Your son has committed a great crime and now he must be punished." Jamieson then ordered two of his armed men to get Joseph. They dragged him out of the house and through the village. Candles were lit in all of the houses as the people glanced out their windows to see what all of the commotion was. Mariana watched from inside her house and when she saw Joseph she ran out the door and to him. She stood in front of the men blocking the way. "Let him go! What has he done!?" she said. When she saw Kenton and Jamieson anger filled her and she ran to them. "Sir why are you treating him this way!?" she asked Jamieson. Jamieson smiled, "So, this is the young Mariana that you are so taken up with Kenton?" Kenton nodded, "Yes father." "Don't you worry my dear. You will not have to worry about that Joseph fellow any more. He won't be causing any trouble for a long time," Jamieson said to Mariana. Tears filling her eyes Mariana asked, "Where are taking him? Why are you doing this to him?" "He is being shipped to the Americas and I'm sure you know why he is being shipped to the Americas," Jamieson answered. Mariana felt as if she were going to faint. Desperate she knelt down onto her knees and grabbed Jamieson's arm, "Sir I beg you please let him go. If he leaves then I will surely die for I cannot live with him. He is my one and only love." Jamieson stared at her for a momen then he said, "My dear you do not need him. My son will give you everything you've ever needed. Now please move aside for we must hurry and get this criminal in locked quarters." Mariana finally stepped aside and watched helplessly as they drug Joseph away.

Early the next morning Mariana made her way to the jail where they kept the "criminals". As she approached, the guard held up his hand, "Miss you cannot go in there. Not without the lord's permission." As she tried to get the guard to let her in Jamieson came strolling up. "Miss Mariana, what are you doing up and about so early?" he asked. Mariana turned to him, "Oh Sir if you have any heart at all please let me say one last goodbye to my one and only love. I beg you!" Jamieson finally nodded to the guard and he let her in. Inside the jail Mariana felt faint by the horrible smell. The guard led her to the cell where Joseph lay. He opened the door and she stepped into the cell. When she saw Joseph chained to the wall, Mariana thought her heart was going to break. His face was swollen and he had cuts on his arms and face. It was obvious he had been beaten. She ran over and knelt down in front of him. She reached up and touched his face lovingly. Joseph jerked away not knowing who it was. "It is me, Mariana, Joseph," she said. At the sound of her voice Joseph opened his eyes and found himself staring into the beautiful face of Mariana. Her long balck hair hung loose about her shoulders and she wore a hooded cloak over her dress. He tried to reach out and touch her face but he couldn't for his hands were chained to the wall. "Mariana?," he said huskily. Tears filled Mariana's eyes as she touched his face, "Oh Joseph! They cannot do this to you. How can I live without you?" Joseph smiled, "Do not cry for it is not the end. We will see each other again. I will work in the Americas until I buy my freedom back. Then I will come back for you." As tears escaped down her cheeks Mariana lay her head against his chest and cried. Reaching out as far as he could Joseph placed his arm on her shoulder and said, "There's a place for us somewhere. A place where we can live freely and love. Someday, somewhere we'll find a new way of living. Somewhere." At that moment the guard came back and told Mariana it was time to go. She hugged Joseph one last time then turned and left the cell. Outside the cell Mariana lifted her skirts and ran to the cliff where she and Joseph had sat so many times. Just as the ship that carried Joseph, along with the other 'criminals', saliled off Mariana reached the edge of the cliff. With the wind blowing about her, Mariana watched as the ship sailed off into the open sea. "The water is wide I cannot get o'er. And neither have I wings to fly. Give me a boat that will carry me to my love o'er the sea," she whispered.

On the ship Joseph sat in shackles in the brig of the ship. He was surrounded by other 'criminals'. But as he sat there all he could think of was Mariana. He would buy his freedom back and he would come back for her. Of this he was sure.


Seven Years later

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was a sunny day in Ireland but a dark cloud hung over Mariana's heart. She was now Mrs. Kenton O'Riley. Kenton had threatened her saying that if she didn't accept his proposal that he would send her parents to the Americas as slaves. So she had been forced to marry him. She lived a miserable life now. Kenton was a very cruel man at heart. But all these years she had been waiting for Joseph to come back from the Americas a free man. But he had not turned up yet and she didn't think he ever would. She knew he was probably dead. At these thoughts tears sprang up in Mariana's eyes. She turned and ran out of the house. She ran to the cliff where she and Joseph had sat looking out into the horizon. It seemed as if it had been millions of years ago since that time. Mariana breathed in the fresh sea air and sighed. She looked down over the edge of the cliff. The ocean waves splashed up onto the pointy rocks that lay below the cliff. As she stood there she knew what she must do. Walking to the very edge of the cliff she jumped off the cliff to her death with only thoughts of Joseph in her mind.


A month later

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joseph stepped off the ship as it reached Ireland, his homeland. It had been seven years since he had lived here. In the Americas he had had to work all day and sometimes at night. It was hard but he was finally able to get back his freedom. As the ship docked Joseph stepped off with only a small bundle of clothing under his arms. He walked up the path to the small village. When he stepped up to his house he was greeted by his mother and father. The threesome stood hugging one another for what seemed like forever. Joseph smiled and held his mother at an arm's length. "I can't wait to go see Mariana. She will be so surprised," he said excitedly. At the mention of Mariana Joseph's mother covered her face and began to cry. "Mother what's wrong? Why are you crying?" Joseph asked. His father took him by the arm and spoke slowly, "She married Kenton O'Riley. But she was never happy. Just a month ago they. . .found her in the sea. She was. . .dead." Joseph stood in silence for a moment. Then finally he shook his head angrily, "No! No she's not dead! She can't be!" He turned and ran to where Mariana had once lived. The house was empty and locked up. Frantically Joseph ran to the cliff where Mariana had jumped. He fell to his knees and cried.


Joseph never married. For he had given his heart to one and one only. And that was Mariana. He died at the age of eighty-one years-old.


The End