From my recently released novel, Falsely Accused from Books We Love.
Below decks, the fetid air smelt foul with the stench of excrement, dirty bodies and unwashed monthly rags. Through the dimness filtering out from a couple of lamps her frightened eyes noticed two tiers of berths, one on either side, large enough for perhaps half a dozen people to lie side by side. She judged the heights between decks to be eighteen inches or so higher than her five feet two inches. How could she bear it? Already the confined space closed ominously around her
“Here, Libby, I saved a place for you next to me.”
“Thanks, Bridget.” Libby pushed Maryanne toward the closest berth to the hatchway.
“We’ll get more air here,” Bridget went on, as they put down their pitiful bundle of belongings.
“Maryanne meet Bridget.” They exchanged greetings as Libby rattled on. “I’ve taken this young miss from the parsonage under my wing.”
“Ah, another of your lame ducks,” Bridget said in husky, not unpleasant tones.
“Except for getting more air, the back part is better, closer to the men. There are only a few planks separating us. Some women have already worked out a signal system for communication.”
“Now harlots,” a fat guard growled. “Your leg irons will stay on till we lift anchor, hatches will remain closed, too. If I got my way, I’d keep you filthy whores chained below decks for the whole voyage.”