Once again, owing to the virtues of cyberspace, I am able to travel back in time to 1886 to interview Lewis Franklin’s best friend; retired merchant seaman Abraham “Abe” Fleming.
Me: It’s good of you to spare me some of your valuable time Mr Fleming.
Abe: I don’t stand on ceremony lass. Tha can call me Abe. Only my landlady, Mrs Merrick, ever called me Mr Fleming.
Me: I understand that you have no children of your own?
Abe: Aye, that’s true. I was married a long time ago but she died of childbed fever and the bairn died too. I only just made it back for the funerals. It was a boy.
Me: I’m very sorry to hear that. I know from personal experience how hard it is to lose the person you love.
Abe: Aye, it was difficult and what made it worse is that I was not here for her. Lewis is a remarkable young man and just the kind of young man I would have liked my son to be had he lived.
Me: How did you meet Lewis?
Abe: He came to lodge at Mrs Merrick’s in 1881. A young man who was away from home for the first time. He had not long lost his family and was vulnerable so I kind of took the lad under my wing.
Me: From what I understand you have helped him through some tough times.?
Abe: Aye, the lad got set upon a few years back and was lucky not to have died. He also recently left a situation in trying circumstances owing to the suicide of a young lad who looked up to him and the cowardly suicide of his employer who had a dark secret. I shudder to think about it now. Lewis was devastated by it all but he has such a strong moral fibre and resilience to difficulty.
Me: You think very highly of him?
Abe: (Smiles). Aye, Lewis is a fine lad and I’m very fond of him. I love him like a son and there isn’t owt I would not do for him. He will make some lucky lass a fine husband one day.
Me: I believe you met your current wife, Joan, through Lewis?
Abe: Aye. In 1881 we spent Christmas in Scarborough with Joan, her daughter, Alice and Lewis’s nephew Daniel. She had a hard time for her late husband was abusive towards her but we reached out to each other and fell in love.
Me: I understand you have a sea-faring background?
Abe: Aye, I had an uncle who was a sailor and he seduced me with tales of the sea. I joined the merchant Navy at seventeen (laughs). I still can’t believe they took me considering I cannot swim a stroke.
Me: Are you content?
Abe: Aye. I have my wife, Joan, who has reminded me what love is all about. I have Lewis, who is the best friend any man could wish for, and I have my pipe. Does tha mind if I smoke?
Me: Go ahead! We have ridiculous laws about smoking in public back in my time. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Abe: Finding love at my time of life. I feel rejuvenated.
Me: Any regrets?
Abe: (puffs at pipe) Not learning to swim and not being there when my wife and child died.
Me: What are your plans for the future?
Abe: To just be content with my new life here in Scarborough and to be a good husband. It would be good to see Lewis find love and get married too for no one deserves that more than he but that is out of my hands.
Me: Well, thank you for your time and I wish you and Joan many happy years together.
Abe: Tha is welcome and thank you for the good wishes.
Abe Fleming is featured in Eye of the Storm: Lewis Franklin’s Story available as a Kindle ebook.
You can buy a paperback edition at
Thanks to Raymond McCullough for permission to use his image to represent Abe.