By Kathy Warnes
William married my sister Rebecca. I adjusted the corset of my life looking to loosen the laces that bit painfully into my heart. At the market I heard that The Colony Company wanted “Young maids to make wives” in Jamestown, Virginia. I went to their offices and they gave me a berth aboard the Godspeed.
"Sally, you can’t go to that barbarian place!” Mama sobbed. “It’s across the ocean. I’ll never see you again.”
“I don’t want to see them together.” My eyes were as dry as Mama’s skin.
“Time will soften you,” Mama sniffed.
I loved William during the salt water waves washing over the decks and the rolling and pitching of my stomach, when the waves tossed the Godspeed like a dandelion seed in the wind. I loved him when I stepped on the solid Virginia shore into tangled brush and wild leafy trees. I heard his voice in the constant cries of birds and crickets.
I saw the wooden plank houses surrounded by a wooden fence and I heard Mama’s sobbing and her voice begging me to make the return voyage to England with the Godspeed. A young woman with long black hair and blue eyes the color of a dream took my arm. While she told me her name was Aldetha her brown cloak billowed in front of me like a sail.
I told her my name was Sally and her blue eyes reminded me of the sky when she smiled at me.
“Come to the house for the night and tomorrow morning we will be displayed in the marketplace.” She pulled her cloak down over her modest white dress and shivered. “I fear what tomorrow brings, but we have no choice.”
Aldetha opened the door to a cabin made of planks. A wooden table and chairs and a chest in the corner were the only furnishings. There were two pallet beds in another corner. The mattress smelled of hay and I tossed on the hay mattress all night, remembering a night in a hayloft with William.
“We must make ourselves beautiful,” Aldetha told me the next morning.
I adjusted my corset, pulled on a plain gray dress and combed my hair. Then I helped Aldetha fit herself into a green gown with blue flowers and a low neck line. I loaned her my white knitted shawl to cover her shoulders and I then I loaned her a pair of my best earrings with a necklace to match. I bade her twirl around in front of me.
“You will be chosen like a crisp corn cake,” I said.
I heard the town crier’s voice in the distance. Aldetha shivered. “It’s time to go,” I said, setting my chin firmly.
“Step carefully,” Aldetha warned me as we walked along. “There is a big mud puddle.”
We went to the square and there they were gathered waiting for us, men of all shapes and sizes. Some were well dressed, others in earth stained clothes. They studied us like we were prize chickens or hogs.
A man in a gentleman’s coat and soft manicured hands choose Aldetha and she walked away with him. A man wearing ragged trousers and a shirt without two buttons smiled at me and beckoned. I turned my head. Another man wearing a long merchant’s coat and a powdered wig walked purposefully toward me. I turned my head but he kept advancing.
I flung myself face down in the mud puddle and rolled around like I was bathing. Then I got up and tossed my head like a spirited mare. Drops of mud flung themselves on the man’s merchant’s coat and I shook myself all over like a dog to provide more drops of mud. I walked past the man in the merchant’s coat and took the arm of the man who had smiled at me.
“I am with child,” I said.
Thomas Fain paid twenty pounds of tobacco for me. Thomas and I made a bargain. He took me outside of the fort to his log house. I, keeping my part of the bargain, cooked, baked, brewed, preserved and pickled. I made soap and candles and sewed, mended, quilted and embroidered. When our children-three of them- came, I cared for them, taught them their letters. I loved them.
Who is William? Where is England?
Time will soften the features of Thomas Junior that so resemble William’s.
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I am a fiction-non-fiction writer from Michigan.
Labels: Kathy Warnes