9 March 319
The next stage of the causeway is nearly finished; already the dirt causeway, while slightly unstable, is allowing Mr. Tyler's hunting parties to roam much further into the mainland. Without the necessity of fording the water, they can carry make much more with each expedition as well. Our larder is becoming well-stocked and everyone is eating well, despite the fact that there are more of us than there have ever been before.
Some of the other women and I spent much of the last few days preparing the garden for planting, once we can find enough seeds. The soil here seems good and fertile, and a harvest of vegetables and grains would certainly be welcome, as we seem to have picked most of the best plants from the surrounding countryside already. The fact that much of the northern land is desert has not helped matters.
With the help of Duncan, we dug a number of irrigation channels and filled them with water, which will hopefully help whatever we plant along. All that remains now is to actually collect enough seeds to make a go of things. Mr. Tyler has promised to keep an eye out for anything he thinks we might be able to use.
Duncan and I spent some time talking on the roof of the fort last night. Perhaps the most flattering thing about these chats for me is that he is genuinely interested in what I think about the direction of our tiny outpost. Despite the kindness and even respect I feel from the other men of the Dunsany Star, I do not think most of them -- especially Mr. Tyler -- see me as an equal. Duncan seems comfortable using me as a sounding board, though, and I cannot help but feel a bit of pride when something we discuss comes up in larger discussions of the what to do next.
12 March 319
With the causeway serviceable and the paving underway, attention has turned towards making our conditions here a bit more livable. Aside from Mr. Fellows, who has quartered in his smithy, most of the residents of the island still live in the tiny space of the fort. While it is at least safe, it is also quite cramped, and tensions can sometimes flare when there are this many of us kept so close together.
Our next project, then, is to build some small homes, especially for the families here on the island. Though there is not much space to build, along with everything else we must be concerned with, there is space enough for a number of small homes, each sufficient for one family to live in relative comfort -- certainly better than crammed into the fort with dozens of others! The first such home will be for Mr. Cavendish and his wife, and progress has been swift. Clearing the hill on the island has given us plenty of stone to work with, which should provide a sturdy defense against any incursions by the monsters that surround us at night.
The Weatherbys, as well as another colonist couple, the Shackletons, have also begun work on their own dwellings, across the road from Mr. Fellows' smithy, right up next to the fort. Progress is not going quite as fast on those, but within a week they should all be able to move out of the fort and into proper homes. With more people moving out of the fort, construction of the wall around the island will also need to be stepped up; Duncan and Mr. Fellows have already begun planning how to extend it out from the fort in such a fashion to provide us the most living space without compromising our safety.
20 March 319
The last few days have been a flurry of activity, with the completion of the Cavendish, Weatherby, and Shackleton homes; it was quite the event for the women of the camp, who did most of the work to help them out of the fort and into their new homes. With the help of Mr. Shackleton, who is a carpenter, we built the three families each some simple furniture, including beds, and I and a number of the other women spent two days sewing and stuffing mattresses for them. When we finally helped the families into their new homes, I could see that they were all greatly relieved to be out of the cramped quarters of the fort. The housewarming activities gave all of us here on the island a nice distraction from the everyday toil that makes up our daily lives.
24 March 319
Now that the island is shaping up to be a bustling little village instead of simply an isolate fort, it is beginning to feel more like home than ever. This only adds to the distress I feel each night, however, when we can see all manner of creatures lurking at the edges of the settlement. Each day, however, progress continues on the walls around the village, which will hopefully end that threat once and for all.
The walls now secure most of the southern and eastern shoreline, extending towards the beach where we still keep our signal fire lit and around our garden, which is now planted with some wild grains Mr. Tyler helped us gather.
27 March 319
With the walls continuing their progress around the island and more buildings outside the fort planned for construction, Duncan has decided it is safe enough to begin bringing more of the colonists from their camp to the island. Mr. Tyler has already begun preparing an expedition to bring as many more of them as possible here in one go. He thinks he may be able to bring all of them here in one trip, but I am concerned that the fort would be rather cramped accommodating more than fifty people! Still, considering the conditions it seems that they face, I hate to leave them out there in the cold. Duncan assures me that the work of extending the walls will go much faster with more hands, though, and I cannot disagree; once the wall is up, we can begin building more homes to give everyone a bit more space.
Building the gates for the walls has been quite a task. Most of the wall was finished in day, but the actual gate mechanism, which has been the task of Duncan and Mr. Fellows for the most part, has been more difficult. Mr. Shackleton has fashioned a sturdy portcullis from thick oak timbers, but Mr. Fellows has been having trouble constructing a proper chain to haul its weight up and down. For now, a temporary solution has been worked out by using spider-silk ropes to lash the gate up; should the situation warrant, we can cut the ropes and the gate will fall into place, blocking the gate.
30 March 319
Mr. Tyler and a half dozen other men left for the colonist camp today, while the rest of us continued to work on the walls and buildings of the camp. One of the colonists, Mr. Teasdale, and his wife suggested that a guesthouse would be an excellent next construction here, as it would provide more living space in a smaller area than houses could fit. Evidently his brother runs a similar business in Westabbey, and he was familiar with the layout and method of construction, having helped his brother with it.
He even suggested that it could even have baths, which I must admit seem rather decadent at the moment. Bathing in the waters of the bay here is a bit uncomfortable at times, and privacy is quite nonexistent! A warm bath in water not filled with all manner of fishes would be a welcome change. Duncan agreed to his suggestion, though he pointed out that the guesthouse would not be much of a business for now, as we do not exactly have much in the way of money. Mr. Teasdale assured us that it would simply be more housing for now, and Duncan assured him that if the situation changed he would be more than welcome to run it as a business. With that decided, he and some others have already begun laying the foundation, so that it will be ready as soon as possible after Mr. Tyler's return.
2 April 319
It seems as if the Teasdales' guesthouse has captured the attention of the camp, and for the past few days, most of the work around camp has been geared towards helping them get the work started. A great deal of lumber has been collected for the construction, while others have been building laying in the walls. By yesterday, most of the floor had been laid in, and today, the floor had been largely finished and the walls were beginning to be built up. At this pace, it may be finished in just a few weeks.
7 April 319
Mr. Tyler's party has returned, bringing with him the rest of the colonists from their camp, along with a great deal of supplies from their shipwreck. Most of the new arrivals look to be in decent health, and Mr. Tyler told Duncan that they had held out quite well, building a palisade around some makeshift houses and tents they were using for shelter. I was happy to hear that they had been able to avoid the worst of this land's many terrors, but it also sounds like they were beginning to run low on food and other vital supplies, so it is probably for the best that Mr. Tyler brought them back when he did.
For now, most of them have taken residence in those same makeshift tents in the courtyard of the fort or elsewhere on the island, inside what exists of the walls. Many of the men who arrived with Mr. Tyler have already begun to help with the guesthouse and other construction projects, while most of the women and children are taking a well-deserved rest.
Duncan and I have not had much time together lately -- both of us have been so busy lately. When we aren't busy, we are both so tired from the events of the day that it is hard for either of us to have a conversation without one of us falling asleep! With the guesthouse and walls coming along nicely, hopefully we'll soon have more time to spend together, but already I can tell he is worried about what we will all do once mere survival is no longer the one goal everyone is focused on.
17 April 319
With the extra help of the new arrivals, the guesthouse has been finished and the village walls are nearing completion finally. Mrs. Teasdale gave me a short tour of the guesthouse today and I could not help but be impressed.
Compared to the small homes that were built for the other families so far, the guesthouse is considerably larger and better appointed, with wood in place of cobblestone for the floors and much larger windows. She showed me the baths, which are already a hot topic of conversation around the village; everyone is looking forward to the opportunity for a hot bath for the first time in many months.
Right across the hall from the baths is the kitchen; Mrs. Teasdale proudly displayed the larder, which should be able to hold much more food than we can fit in the makeshift storage in the fort. I am sure that Mr. Tyler's hunting parties will be able to keep it nicely stocked if they continue to be as successful as they have been.
On the second floor of the guesthouse, the central area of the floor is dominated by a large fireplace and sitting room, with a pair of large tables; I suspect it will become a popular place for people to take meals.
The second floor also has five guest rooms, which have already been parceled out to colonist families. While not large, they provide a bed and plenty of comfort compared to the cramped quarters of the fort. I admit to being a bit jealous, as I would like to have a bit more privacy than I have right now, but I understand why Duncan decided it would be best for families to take them.
Above the second floor is the attic, which, while a bit cramped and not divided into rooms, Mrs. Teasdale plans to put beds in as well, just to provide more living space. I suspect when they are finished they will be similar to the quarters in the fort, which would at least be an upgrade for those colonists still sleeping in tents.
The whole experience made me a bit homesick; it was the first place, here on the island, hundreds of miles away from home, where it almost feels like it could almost be in Knightsport. I could not help but long for a slice of mother's apple pie or a night spent in front of the fireplace catching up with friends. Someday, I hope to have such things again, and perhaps share them with Duncan -- but for now, it seems so far off, I cannot help but feel a bit of despair.
23 April 319
Everyone has pulled together over the last week and finished the walls and the north gate; Duncan and Mr. Fellows have still not been able to work out a usable mechanism to manipulate the portcullis, so the north gate remains lashed up like the west gate, but it has given us a great deal more security than we enjoyed before. Plans are already being made for the last few houses we'll be able to fit inside the walls, and by the summer, we will need to think about where to expand to for new construction.
Again, it feels like the spectre of "what comes next" is drawing closer and closer. Soon, we will be able to begin thinking more than a few days ahead -- and I fear the divisiveness that existed among the survivors of the Dunsany Star in those early days after our shipwreck, many months ago, will return. I have told Duncan that I think we should find some way of making contact with home, or at the very least the Oestrian colonies, and he agrees, though making a boat to sail safely hundreds of miles would be a major undertaking -- and there's no assurance that it would succeed. As cramped as things are, there are only a little over sixty of us, and a third of those are women and children.
I know Duncan is thinking of these things, and I trust his judgement, but I cannot help but worry for the future. All the while, we still need to remember that there are hostile creatures lurking right outside the gates who will try to kill every one of us if they get the chance. Still, nights like these, when we can celebrate our accomplishments, and when I feel Duncan's arms around me as we look over the quiet village from the top of the fort, I can take some comfort that whatever happens we will not be confronting alone.