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by PamFord Davis
9/11/2014 / Short Stories
Our ship sways as I white knuckle a deck railing. In search of land, I am disappointed to see only billowing waves and decide to return to Margaret, my wife of ten years. Ravaged by seasickness, she stays below.
A shipmate's call, from high above in the crow's nest startles me.
"Land ahoy, Land ahoy!"
With rapid eye movement, I scan the amber horizon.
"Land, I see land!"
Jubilant, I take several steps at a time, in route downward to my beloved. Weathered wooden stairways creak under the pressure of my lumbered feet. Reaching our shared quarters in the hold of the ship, I spot Margaret by her flaming red hair. Though ailing, she is meticulous in her grooming.
"Margaret! Margaret! I saw land!"
Pale and puny she manages to smile and saunters towards me. Hearing my news of nearing land, passengers rise from resting places and jostle Margaret on their way up to deck. Wishing to protect her from their rambunctiousness, I proceed to her side. Reunited, she reads concern in my eyes and gently strokes my forehead with the trembling palm of her hand.
Always the logical one she says, "Roger, we should begin gathering our strewn possessions. There is apt to be a great deal of confusion when we leave ship and I do not want to leave precious items behind."
"Right, the crew will handle large trunks; yet, all we have kept with us during the journey is our responsibility. I know you cannot predict when an attack will hit you but I do hope the good Lord will have eased your discomfort before we go ashore."
"It will subside."
Eying our family Bible, scattered clothing and bedding, I feel her tugging on my coat sleeve.
"Roger, are you sure that you securely packed Mother's treasured china and tea set? Yes, you did we did. I wrapped each plate, cup and saucer separately in linen; then, you painstakingly placed all inside a protective wooden crate. Sorry, I am such a worrier."
Placing my index finger on the tip of her pug nose, I say, "If our future was as certain as the condition of Mother's china I would not have a care in the world!"
What I think will shortly come to pass, takes all day. The stern ship's captain pours over reams of cargo paperwork before allowing any passengers to disembark. I am grateful that we both can rest in Charleston for a month before joining our wagon train heading west."
Fair weather with clear skies has turned to foreboding dark clouds followed by steady downpours. When finally given permission to leave the Liverpool ship liner, one of Margaret's high top shoes becomes unlaced. She catches the heel of her shoe in the hem of her frock and lands in rushing water.
"Margaret! Wait, don't move!"
Both drenched, I try to lift her to her feet and she moans."
"Oh bother, I have wrenched my ankle!"
"Are you able to walk on it?"
Nodding she agrees but her countenance reveals pain with each grueling step.
"Cabby! Cabby! Are you for hire?"
"Betcha', where ya' bound?"
"My wife is injured and I need to get her to an affordable place for lodging. Is there one nearby?"
"Yes mate! I detect Liverpool in yer' accent, a London man ma-self. I'll get ya' ta' Mother Mc Standish's boardin' house in a jiffy!"
Beside me, Margaret shivers. The cabby stops before a small but presentable clapboard home on a side street. Like an angel, unawares he refuses to take any payment for his services.
Greeting us, Mrs. Mc Standish insists we call her Mother and hovers over Margaret as if she were one from her own brood.
"Ya' best be fetchin' the doc fer' yer' misses. That ankle is swellin' and turnin' black n' blue too."
Upon my return with the doctor, he thoroughly examines Margaret and relieves our fears. No bones are broken.
Closing his medical satchel, Doc says, "I recommend bed rest for a few days. Then, with Mother Mc Standish's good cooking, I expect no foreseeable problems to develop in the pregnancy."
Pregnancy? I'm befuddled.
What we brushed aside as seasickness is in reality signs of pregnancy.
"We, uh' we did not know," stammers Margaret.
Mother Mc Standish chuckles, saying, "Glory be! I'll be putin' on the kettle to celebrate ya' bein' with chile,' I'll bring out me finest!
It was me blessed Granny Mc Standish' favorite cup and saucer.
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