The Sweetest Rum
Chapter 6I sat up in bed all night trying to think of a way to get out of calling on Taylor that did not involves knives or bullets, I could not think of a single one. I thought of invoking Shakespeare but then remembered that he enjoyed killing off main characters. I decided that would not be good for my current mental state.
I tried the bible instead. I knew that Eli probably was reading his bible too on that ship his was traveling. In my gut I knew he was thinking of me. I tuned to the book of the bible that would shed the most light on our situation, Song of Songs.
Where has you over gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your lover gone that we may seek him with you? (Song of Songs 6:1)
I wept silently to myself. Where had my lover gone? I missed him so much, and everything we where meant to do to be together was being ripped from me, taken against my will. It was all being given to someone else. I thought of the previous verse from church and how it had compared the young men with deer. It seemed that Taylor had the more powerful antlers and had driven Eli from
the field. I read on, soaking in and devouring the little comfort the verses gave me. I pictured Eli sitting alone on the ship reading these verses to himself.
How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter Your body is a heap of wheat encircled with lilies.
I smiled thinking once again of how Lily became involved in my life. I was encircled by her but not in the the way the scriptures portrayed.
Your neck is like a tower of ivory, Your eyes like the pools in Heshbon (Song of Songs 7:4)
I snapped shut the book vanishing the perturbed images from my mind. I hoped Eli thought more of my dignity. I touched my wet eyes and cracked open the bible again wondering at what else Eli thought of me. I knew he knew these verses by heart because he had said the similar ones along with the pastor, he had said them to me in church sitting just behind me he had whispered them to my ear. I read another set of verses but this time is was like words from my mouth to Eli.
Oh that you were like a brother to me Who nursed at my mother’s breasts. I would lead you and bring you Into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me; I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.
Let his left hand be under my head And his right hand embrace me. (Song of Songs 8:1-3)
I finally managed to drift off after those short words, sleeping with Eli’s left hand under my head and his right hand in a brotherly embrace, like the one he gave me before he left.
On a typical day I am woken by the footsteps of my father leaving to go survey and oversee his fields. Yesterday, I was awoken by my mother in a hurry to see the British soldiers. Today the same instance occurred. My mother woke me in a bustle telling me to hurry over to the Rhode’s home and invite my ‘friend’ for supper. I really hoped her waking me was not going to become routine. I rolled over and pulled the covers over my head with a groan, Eli’s embrace had committed mutiny just like its owner.
Mother lit my lamp and went to my wardrobe picking out a dress and hat for me to wear. She nudged me again and I did not respond. She pulled the blankets from my body and a brief morning chill hit me and woke me. I shivered and sat up in my night gown. Mother quickly worked me into my shift and then somehow managed to secure me into a very smashing dress that showed off my figure. I sighed pretending she was not here, I shut my eyes pretending she was not leading me down the stairs to my death and eternal doom. My pretending was not working, reality was way to vivid. My reality was like staring into the sun for a painfully long time. I was beginning to see spots from all this reality shining in my face.
I fed myself porridge, and was handed my
purse, that was empty and only attached to my arms for looks. I was then shoved out the door into the morning light that burned my eyes along with all the reality. I tried to face my feet in the wrong direction but they did not listen. To my pleasure they did carry me past the blacksmith’s shop on my way to Taylor’s.
I paused outside the door. It was mostly understood that any letter for me from Eli would be left with his uncle, who was quite a taboo in society and would not mind us exchanging letters. The things was you could not send letters from a ship and I was also pretty sure Africa and the West Indies did not have postal services. I knew there should not be any letters for me, but I was still compelled to knock on the door.
Mr. Commondew opened it.
“Ah... Trinity, Eli told me you might drop by today, of course he failed to warn me it would be this early. Please excuse my beard I have not shaved yet today.
I laughed, Mr. Commondew always wore a beard another thing that struck him out as different from the rest of the men.
“Sorry it is early, my mother just shoved my out of the house today.” I said wondering how Eli would know I was going to stop at his house if he was not even going to be there.
“Well here you are Miss Smith. Eli said to give you this letter. Just make sure your father does not catch you reading it.” He winked tossed the letter into my hands and shut the door.
I ripped the envelope open quickly giving myself a paper cut on my index finger. I stuck the finger in my mouth and began to read the letter.
Dear Trinity, I hope you did not open this letter so quickly you cut
yourself. Even if you did I am sure you can remedy that small problem and read my letter at the same time. I hope your family is as well as they were yesterday when I left your house. You I hope though are in better spirits then that fateful hour I spent at you house. I hope that Taylor has not been to much of an ass to you. Trinity, you must not let him get to you, he is a fine man. I would hate to see you given to any other, except maybe someone like myself.
I am planning to spend my first night on the ship reading the bible praying for a quick safe journey, and thinking of you.
I am sorry about the way I had to tell you I was leaving. I had planned to tell you and spend several more minutes with you crying into my shoulder, but then Taylor had to show up at your bloody door and take those moments away. Sorry I could not get out of your house faster, I can only pray he did not see me. You of course already know if he knew I was there but I will be left sitting on this bloody ship biting my fingernails and worrying about all the ways he could blackmail you if he did. The worst one being a forced marriage. I know you are strong Trinity, strong enough to resist him throwing himself at you, but if he blackmails you or gets his father and yours involved I fear reality will be too much for you too bear. Stay strong for me Trinity.
Do not miss me too much. Say hello to my uncle every now and then..
I folded up the letter and stuck it in my previously empty purse. Eli knew me so well, even down to the fact that I would cut my finger opening his letter.
I missed Eli so much and he had not even been gone for an entire day yet. I felt the paper that his words were written on inside my purse before pulling the strings tight. My feet had by now dragged me to Taylor’s house. Taylor lived in a very large house, with paid servants an d curtains on every window. It was very intimidating to all the other smaller homes near it. I was not intimidated though, I was brave, and staid strong for Eli. I picked up the large brass knocker and pounded it into the door. The butler answer the door and I gave him my name. He smiled at me as if we shared some secret and I turned my head as he disappeared to fetch Taylor. I waited in the walkway admiring all the paintings on the walls and the other various items that caught my attention. I was investigating an interesting lamp when Taylor walked into the small cubby room and said my name. I jumped at the sound and blushed when I turned from studying the lamp.
“It is a nice lamp.” I commented not meeting Taylor’s eyes.
“It was my grandfather’s” he said shortly, being very gut with me.
He sighed and beckoned for me to follow to one of many sitting rooms. Suddenly nervous I took three short steps across the floor and he offered me his arm. I took it but both of us were very tense and stiff. I might as well have been escorted by a
I took a seat on a two person seat and still could not look at Taylor’s eyes. He sat in the adjacent spot on the couch. I noticed a faint remnant of the old exciting Taylor when he left his hand linger on mine a bit longer than necessary.
“So, you came to except?” he asked staring straight ahead.
“No,” I paused choking on the words I was expected to say next. Taylor interrupted, turning to look into my eyes and her took hold of both my hands and would not let go even though I tried to jerk them away.
“That is great Trinity!” he exclaimed having either a change of heart or a mental relapse.
“It is?” I asked temporarily confused and put off by this sudden behavior.
“Yes, I was hoping you could hold it out even with all those letters and everything coming at you from all sides. I love you Trinity. But I do not want to force you to marry me. I want you to choose it. I am not going to ask you to take my hand and come down the aisle to me until I know you want to. I am going to make you want to Trinity, or die trying.”
I gaped then shut my mouth. That heroic speech actually made something in me want to invite Taylor to dinner, but for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to prove to him that he would never capture the aspect of my heart he wanted, I wanted to make him try and prove him wrong. I felt so evil that I scared myself thinking I could ever want to inflict that sort of emotional pain on a person.
“Oh, well in that case you can get started when you come to my house for dinner tonight, I
think my mother would prefer you came on foot” I smiled and stood mumbling something about showing myself out.
When I was out of ear shot I finished my sentence. “I don’t think Mother would appreciate having to keep your horse in the stable over night.” with a short growl.
I walked through town on my way back instead of back past the blacksmith’s shop. I saw the whipping post again and those terrible images flashed through my mind. There had been a whipping yesterday, but Lily had not gone to watch it. Eli’s whipping had put an end to any enjoyment she had ever gotten out of them. The ground around the whipping post was a red mud color from some wrongdoer’s blood. There were flies eagerly buzzing around it and they made me wonder if this time the person had not survived. Eli had had an easy punishment with just 13 strokes. This man or woman may have been sentenced too many for them to bear. I shook my head and covered my nose with my hand. The smell of blood and death was intoxicating. I knew that some people deserved to be whipped, and even Eli had, but it still punctured some part of my conscience.
Mother was thoroughly surprised when I came home.
“But, you could not have been been there for half an hour.” she protested.
“You are right. I am pretty sure it was less than a half hour.” I retorted taking off my hat.
I went to remove my purse too but I remembered the letter tucked away inside it. I turned my back on Mother and secretly removed it, tucking it down the front of my dress so no one
would notice. “Well what did you tell him? And then what
did he say?” she rattled on, throwing my apron and pointing to some bread dough that had already risen.
“I told him to come over for dinner and he agreed.” I paraphrased our conversation slightly. I shaped the door put it in a pan and put it in
the oven for baking. I glanced over at mama and saw that she was preparing a pig for supper.
“Where did you get a pig?” I whispered some what in awe and some what worried that she spent a fair share of money on something that would come to nothing.
“The neighbors were butchering today and I traded them a couple chickens for it.”
“Really?” I said in disbelief that someone would trade a nice meaty pig for some chickens.
“I do not lie.” Mother said adding the pig into the oven with the bread. The oven could barely support both but we made do, with the limited space, if our bread came out a bit smashed I was sure Taylor would understand.
After two hours of cooking what would probably be the most delicious meal of my life Lily’s head appeared in the door her nose twitching and mouth watering from all the delicious scents.
Mother and I instinctively looked to the clock wondering why Lily was home so early already. “British Soldiers showed up to look around
the tutor’s house, so he sent us home early” She said nonchalantly picking at the apples I was peeling for pie.
Mother and I both stared at her and she
shrugged obviously not knowing anything else, obviously not caring either.
“So is Taylor coming over?” she asked licking her fingers after getting them in the honey.
“Yes.” I muttered, unfortunately.
Lily clasped her hands together. “That will be so much fun! Does he read well?” Lily had been wanting someone to read to her, and Eli just did not have the kind of voice she was looking for. I liked Eli’s voice just fine but apparently it was not smooth enough, it did not drip with venom as Taylor’s did she had once told me.
I had wondered if dripping venom meant that he was a liar or if he just had a dripping voice and venom was the only think she could think of that dripped.
“I have yet to hear him read, you could ask him after supper.” I said glad someone was getting some cheer out of his visit.
I forced Lily into helping with supper and Mother disappeared to take her nap. I let her go she had been cooking and baking and frying and everything all day. I would prefer her well rested when Taylor came. Of course she could just as well be making a bundling bag since father was not her to make a bundling board to put on my bed.
I shuddered thinking of having Taylor lying next to me in a bed that had only ever been occupied by myself and my dreams.
I was happy to know that Lily was concerned or at least nervous for me. I could tell by her incessant amount of speech. When ever she became nervous or anxious or worried, she would either not talk at all or talk with out end. For her this was unexciting nervous so she kept up a stream of
words that at least managed to keep me occupied and kept my thoughts away from all the awkwardness I knew would later occur.
I knew I was hiding what I actually thought from myself though. In all honesty with myself I was scared, terrified, of what would happen. This emotion had been building up in me since I read Eli’s letter. He had said he was not afraid to let me be with Taylor, he had said Taylor was a good choice, and that was what scared me. Eli knew me better that I knew myself, and if he thought I would be okay with Taylor I was scared of the fact that I actually might be reasonably fine with him. I did not want that to happen. The only person I wanted to be happy with was Eli, but Eli of course had abandoned me with nothing but words I did not want to hear.
I was interrupted from my thoughts and Lily from her words by mother calling me to put on a handsome dress and get rid of my apron. I sighed and set down the ladle from the soup I was stirring, and gave Lily explicit directions not to cook it wrong or add in to much onion, before untying my apron and trooping up the stairs to find a dress that would be suitable for my mother.
Mother stopped me in the middle of my climb and redirected me towards her room where she had heated a tub of water at her fireplace. She had set out some home made soap and some linens. I exhaled, she was taking this all to far. I was done protesting however, I knew I could no longer win, everything was settled. I stuck a toe in the water and shivered. It was a reasonable temperature and taking a bath next to the fireplace would keep me warm, so I did not shiver because of cold I shivered
because I knew that baths were saved for special occasions.
I finished cleaning myself and Mother came to help me put on my dark red crimson colored gown that complemented my now clean and creamy colored skin very nicely. She curled up my hair and then left to set dinner out on the table. I took several deep breaths before opening my eyes in the mirror. I stunned myself. It had been ages since I had been able to see my own skin this clean beautiful. The difference between me and all the other ladies at the table would be like the difference between an African and the queen of England herself, who I had heard bathed every night. I cursed my mother but some part of me also praised her in secret and fearful that the rest of me would find that part it cut it off.
I tied a necklace that Eli had given me one christmas around my neck. I had told Mother and Father that it had come from my cousin, but everyone knew only a blacksmith could work with metal in this way. It was a black rose shape, made entirely from metal, Each line of the petals had been carefully etched into it in a way that took patience that only blacksmiths could have. It was very heavy but also very beautiful and it matched the tone of my crimson dress.
I admired myself once more in the mirror before stepping out of the room. I heard voices in the dining room one of them too deep to belong to Lily or Mama. I shut my eyes swallowed and tried to prepare myself for the reaction. I imagined Taylor’s face from when he had taken me to barn dance, and tried to picture that reaction doubled. I knew that Lily’s would react simply with her mouth
dropped open and her green eyes turning into a reflection of myself. I stepped into the dining room and a faint hush turned three pairs of eyes silently on me. My cheeks colored but I held up my head. I gave a smile to Lily who reacted exactly how I imagined she would. Taylor’s reaction was more subtle but still noticeable. He would not remove his eyes from me through out the entire meal. He even stared when he had bowed his head to say grace, and give thanks for the neighbors pork. I ate with all the manners I had ever been taught, and with all the most graceful things to say that a hostess could ever want. Of course also I had to behave the best I could, or else mother might have gotten violently sick and died in the middle of dinner, at least she told me she would. Lily spent the entire meal giggling. I was beginning to wish that mother had sent her away for the evening, but if she had then I knew I would have regretted it. Lily was my only chance at making the night drag on and keeping Taylor occupied and running him out of energy. Dinner finished and Mother had a hired girl take the dishes away. She was trying to make our family and its stature up to be more than it was.
We never had had the luxury of servants, Lily and I did the majority of the cooking cleaning and sewing and other housework. I often wondered where I found the time for the other things I managed to do.
I led the way to parlor. The most common pastime that occurred after dinner was supposed to be talking in the parlor. The entire part of my life had never been dictated by this fact. After we cleaned up supper dishes Lily was often sent to bed and Mother, Father, and I would sit in the
parlor, however we rarely spoke. We each entertained ourselves in our own ways. Tonight was supposed to be different though. I was supposed to come up with some clever way to keep Taylor entertained, even though I had never had that responsibility ever in my life. We each took a seat and Lily reached for a recitation book she had borrowed from school.
“Trinity said you could read.” Lily said wishing the book into Taylor’s hands.
“I have done so it the past, but it has been some time.” he replied “That is fine you can not be worse than Father.” She grinned.
I was glad she left out the fact that Eli sometimes read to her in his boring sermon-like voice. Taylor accepted the book and looked over the cover. It was a copy of Aseop’s Fables in Caxton’s collection. Taylor selected a page it appeared at random and began to read.
“Of the comyn and folysshe wymmen Esope reherceth to vs suche a fable / Of a woman whiche had a name Tahys / the whiche was cause by her feyned loue of the dethe and losse of many yonge men / to one of the whiche she had be bete ofte before that tyme / she sayd to hym in this wyse / My ryght dere loue and good frende / I suppose that of many one I am wel byloued and desyred / Neuertheles I shall sette my loue on thy self alone / wherfore I pray the that thow mayst be myn / and I shalle be thyn / for alle thy goodes I retche not / but only I desyre thy swete body / And he that knewe the feyntyse and falsheed of the woman / ansuerd to her / ryght benyngly and swetely / thy wyll and
the myn ben both but one alone / For thow arte she whiche I moost desyre / and the whiche I shall loue alle the terme of my lyf / yf thow deceyue me nomore / For by cause that thow hast deceyued me in tyme passed / I am euer aferd of the / but notwhithstondynge this / thow arte now moche playsaunt and fayr to the syghte of me / And thus the one begyled that other /
For the loue of a comyn woman is not to be trusted / For thow oughtest to knowe and thynk within thy self / that the comyn and folyssh woman loue the not / but she loueth thy syluer”
Lily clapped her hands together in admiration. “Marvelous!” she cried delighted.
Eli fixed his on me again. He smiled showing he clearly had meant to grace me with the reading and it was my graces he wanted to please not my younger sister that had not recently bathed.
“That was wonderfully performed” I seconded Lily praise. “Please do please us with another.
Mother also nodded her head in agreement. Taylor turned to another page in the book and began to recite in his skilled, dripping voice.
“Before the goddess and the goddesses men must euer preyse chastyte / for it is a worshipful & an honest thyng to a woman to hold hyr contente with a man alone / but Venus for her disporte & for to dryue aweye the tyme / wold Interprete the sayenge of the hennes / wherfore she demaunded a henne whiche was in her hows / but at this tyme I shal kepe my tongue / and no ferther I shall speke therof / For many wyse men whiche haue sene and redde alle this book vnderstanden wel alle the
nature of hit / And by cause it is lycyte & honest / And that we alle ben bounden to kepe the ladyes in theyre worship and honour / also that in euery place where hit shalle be possyble to vs we ought to preyse them / we shalle now cesse to enquere ferther of this matere / and Historye / whiche we shalle leue in latyn for the grete clerkes / & in especial for them that wylle occupye theyr tyme to studye and rede the glose of the sayd Esope”
“If only men learned by the smae virtues now.” commented as he finished.
“I agree” sang Lily. “We women love to be praised.” she fluttered her eye lashes.
I tittered. “There is a such thing as too much praise. Sometimes it becomes tedious and repetitive.” I chimed in looking towards Taylor trying to betray a small insult.
“When I go to dances and have men visiting me everyday I shall never tire of compliments and pretty words that they should bestow on me.” Lily pronounced disbanding any thought that it should be otherwise.
“We will see.” I told her.
When I looked in Mother’s direction I saw her eyes were focused out the window on the setting sun. I saw her brow clenched willing it too set, willing it to be to dark to travel on foot. My eyes grew wide I could end the visit now and there might be time for Taylor to make it home. I would have to be subtle though, or else mother would know what I was up too. I fingered Eli’s black rose necklace planning. I decided to convince him to leave with ending conversation comments.
“I hope you enjoyed dinner Taylor.” I smiled
with clenched teeth. I was forcing the sun up as my mother pushed
it down. Mother Nature of course was siding with the mother as she always did and the sun continued to sink. I was forced to use a more obvious tactic.
“I suppose you will have to begin walking home before it turns in to night.” I said in a low whisper pretending to be disappointed. I wondered if it was possible for mother’s hearing to be fading if I spoke softly.
Taylor twisted in his seat closing the book and setting it in Lily’s lap.
“Oh, it is getting dark I will have to get going.” He stood from his chair and I went to fetch his hat and coat. Mother was on her feet in seconds. “No, for heavens sake, you will never make it home before dark.”
Taylor looked at her questionably. “I do not see how I have a choice ma’am.” I grinned, normally Taylor was a pretty bright man, but now his wit was failing him just when I needed it too.
“Of course you have a choice, you can stay here.” Mother said in that way that mothers have of putting there foot down.
Taylor’s mouth stretched and his teeth gleamed in a smile as he began to understand what she was saying.
I moaned inwardly.
“It is a little dark, If it is not any hassle or anything I suppose my mother would not mind an extraordinary amount if she has the house to herself for a night.” he pretended to puzzle over his answer but I could tell was an easy yes.
“It will be fine.” mother brushed off any hassle that I could protest with. “ We do not have an extra room so you will have to stay in Trinity’s room. The floor is a bit too cold at night though so I guess you will have to share the bed. I am sure I have a bundling bag around somewhere.” she smiled graciously.
Lily was watching the whole ordeal wide- eyed from position in the parlor doorway. Mother led the way up the stairs toward my room Lily quickly caught up with me.
“In your bed?” she hissed in awe that Mother would ever allow that.
“That is sort of the point of bundling Lil.” I told her rolling my eyes.
“Oh” she commented lightly falling into silence pondering this new wonder of courting.
Mother sent me to change into my nightgown and Lily still followed at my heels. I took off the dress and slipped into my nightgown before turning to answer all the questions I knew Lily would have.
“What is a bundling bag?” she asked.
“It is a bag you sew the boy up in when you have a-” I searched for a correct word and only came up with, “situation like this.”
“That is so queer” Lily distrusted. “How many times does sort of thing happen that it actually needs a name?” she rolled her eyes and crossed to my door. “Well, good night Trinity tell me all about it in the morning, a girl needs to learn these sort of things and the tutor and school does not like to share, he tells us to ask our parents.”
She left the door open so Mother could walk in with Taylor. She was carrying a bundling bag
that did not look old or used in the least, it look too fresh for my liking.
Taylor had already removed his coat and neck tie. His feet were also clad in only his stockings. His eyes went wide when he saw me standing in my night gown. I was confused over the expression until I recalled he did not have any sisters.
I pulled the cover to the foot of the bed and mother spread the bundling bag out with a caress. Taylor laid on it and mother folded it over him. She began to make large stitches that she knew and I knew would not hold very tight, and it also did not help that she was not stitching very tightly. I turned my head not being able to bear the sight of that awfully stitching coming from my mother who was one of the most accomplished cross stitchers most people knew. With the terrible stitch she was performing it was not long before she was finished.
“Sleep tight” she cooed shutting my door. She left, and with that click my worst nightmare stared at me from the light of an oil lamp.
“Are you afraid of the dark.” Taylor asked.
I was still siting on the bed knees hunched to my chest, my hair falling in its locks around my face.
“No, but I am afraid of those stitches my mother put in that bag.”
“It was awfully kind of her to make it lose so my fingers can breathe was it not?” he asked poking his finger between stitches and touching my foot.
I jerked away.
“Taylor do you remember what you told me before about making me want to love you?”
He nodded. “Well this is not helping.” I said slinking further
to the edge of the bed where he could not reach me.
“I am sorry, forgive me?” he asked in the exact same way Eli would.
I bit my lip trying to imagine this situation with Eli. I could not resist such a resemblance between the two, my soft spot protected with rock for Taylor was going to fall through if he began to talk to me like Eli.
“Fine, I forgive you, but do not think about getting out of that bag!” I said harshly with a cold stare.
He chuckled and I laid down in the bed beside him pulling the covers to my chin. I extinguished the oil lamp. and lay on my back staring at the dark relentless ceiling. I felt a small tickle on my arm and fingers brushing across my arm. I began to shift away but the fingers lingered. I tried to ignore them and not get to upset over it. Taylor was a touching sort of man he had reached for my hand on countless occasion in the buggy, and one time he had reached for my lips, except I refused to let this be a replay of that terrible night.
“Trinity will you marry me yet?” he asked in a very silly voice that made me wonder if he had drunk to much champaign at supper.
“No” I said plainly into the dark.
“Can you give me a time when I might get a maybe?” he asked still drunk sounding.
“When Eli gets back” I murmured shifting over to my side so I could see his face.
“I still do not know what he has got to do with bloody anything.” he wondered almost to himself.
“He is like my personal army and makes sure I do not go kill myself or jump off a cliff, and I do the same for him on my job is a lot harder.” I stopped, wondering how much I could really say.
“He is like a brother right?” Taylor asked, he was hiding his real thoughts but I knew that he really wanted to know if I loved him.
“I do not know right now things are different then when we were little.” I rolled over ending the conversation and leaving Taylor to himself.
Taylor was blowing gently on my neck and twirling my hair in the hand he had worked free. I wanted to roll over and smack him but I could not find the urge to do it. I had given up caring about him any more, I had begun to think of him as my shadow.
I woke once in the middle of the night to find Taylor’s arm wrapped around me. I squirmed gently trying to free myself but he had felt me wake up and was restraining me. I could feel him laughing his chest vibrating lightly up and down. I gritted my teeth and twisted myself from his hold.
“The answer is still no.” I told him before he could even ask me.
I felt and heard his sigh as he wrapped his arms back around to his own body. I could feel him stiffen as he made himself as small as possible so he did not touch me. I tried go back to sleep but the glare of his eyes always watching me, waiting for me to fall back asleep was to much. I rolled over back face to face with him.
“What do you want, Taylor?” I was exasperated with him always being disappointed like a small child. “I can not give you anything else. I gave you what I could.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Have you? Is there not still more I could borrow from Eli?”
“Why are you so jealous of him?” I questioned
“Because you speak of him when you sleep, and when I wrapped you in my arms you snuggle closer and murmur his name. I want you to say my name, I want you to dream of me, I want to be your every thought.” He looked at me eyes wide. “Is that too much to ask?”
“Of course it is I could never grant that request to anyone.”
“You gave it to Eli and he did not even ask.”
“That is why I gave it to him.” I said holding Taylor’s eyes for a few seconds before shutting mine, and shutting out Taylor’s face. I did not awake anymore in thru the night and early morning. I woke in the same position I had last slept in so I felt safe enough to assume I had not tossed or turned very much and that could mean that I did not dream as much and that would give Taylor less reason to be jealous of Eli.
I had never been very conscious before of how many of my thoughts were occupied by him, but ever since Taylor mentioned it I knew that he was right. I also knew that I was going to change that. I was not going to perpetually think of a man that began that created a mutiny against me, of him and all his imaginary friends.
When real sun light hit my face I knew that I should crawl from my bed sooner than later. I would have to help Taylor out of his mostly already destroyed bundling bag and then dismiss him from the room so I could dress. I rubbed my eyes and stretched, one of my arms colliding mildly with Taylor’s face. I laughed, a jerky sour tasting
morning laugh and apologized. “I would return the favor if I was allowed to
move from this concealment” He said pretending to be angry.
He had curled himself back inside his bag where he had belonged.
“I could leave you there all day if I wanted to.” I said not in a very teasing mood.
“Bah.” he growled pulling at his constraints of poorly placed stitches popping each one with an arrogant smile.
“Less work for me.” I shrugged touching my bare feet to the cold wooden floor.
He was also moving to his feet and I tiptoed across the chilled floor to the door, which I opened and gestured for him to leave.
He sauntered out with no argument.
I edged toward my wardrobe fearing that my mother had already hung a dress up in the front that she wanted me to wear. To my surprise and my happiness nothing seemed more prudent and encouraging to me so I picked my favorite red and yellow flowered dress with many ruffles and a comfortable fit. I let most of my dirty blonde curls and locks hang loosely about my shoulders. I pulled the rest of it in a clip in the middle of my head with curls jumping from it.
I smiled at myself feeling pleased that I had survived the night in a better way than I thought I would have. I cracked open my door an peeked out wondering where Taylor was since he needed close to only a fourth of the time that I did to ready myself. He was standing just to the left of the door. I yearned for him to tire of waiting and go downstairs by himself.
I waited nearly five minutes longer standing inside my cold and dreary room waiting to hear his booted steps trip down to the sweet smell of fresh ears of corn for our morning meal. I had to give him some credited he had quite a bit of patience, or maybe he was just as nervous about presenting himself to the other two ladies in the house as I was. I opened the door.
“Women.” he grumbled offering me his arm. “I was waiting by your door for nearly a half of an hour.
“I am dreadfully sorry that I like to look lovely and handsome every day, and I do not just dress myself in the same general drab every morning.” I lectured him taking his arm unwillingly.
“Of course, how could I ever even think of wearing a drab coat.” he teased.
I ignored him concentrating on each step in front of me. I felt me cheeks flare as the kitchen grew quiet from Lily’s incessant chatter as she caught sight of me making my way to the dining room on Taylor’s arm.
“Good Morning.” Taylor smiled cheerfully never at a loss for words.
Lily choked on her corn. Mother stood there just looking at me a secret pompous smile encroaching on her face.
Taylor pulled out a chair for me, not any different than any normal gentleman-like man would do. Mother some how managed to interpret the gesture as some sign of unrequited undying love between us and her eyes lit up. I mused over the possible places that Father might store his extra pistol. It would be easier for me to kill myself or even mother or even Taylor with a pistol than
the spare rifle that hung above the doorway. Taylor finished off his morning corn swiftly. I
think he could tell I was beginning to get irritated with my mother and he was the cause of that irritation. He left quickly after he finished eating with a tip of his hat and a short comment about having things to take care of and a household to run.
As soon as the door clipped shut behind him two pairs of eyes shifted to me. I paid no attention and continued chipping at my corn. Mother cleared her throat. I looked up and met Lily’s gaze. Her corn was halfway to her mouth and her eyebrows were so high I could only barely see them amongst all her other fiery hair. I continued eating. I remembered the day of the week, wednesday. I usually helped the little old widow in town on the middle day of the week. She had given me the rest of spring off though and had told me to come back when it begun to snow. I contemplated other possible things I could today. I was disturbed from my thoughts by another cough from my mother and a eager wild nodding of the head from Lily.
“What?” I asked wishing they could voice their exact questions and not just make rude vocal noises.
“What time did you fall asleep last night dear?” Mother asked.
“I am not sure.” I answered truthfully, I would not have even been able to tell her the time we left the parlor.
Mother tried to share a knowing glance with Lily but Lily did not know what she was supposed to be knowing about.
“Are you not tired today?” Mother asked trying
to hint at something. I shook my head slowly. “Should I be?” I
asked with a dumb look and a ignorant tone in my voice.
“Well if you did not fall asleep until late-” Mother continued to hint.
“I never said that.” I said trying to be confusing “Yes you did.” Mother was attempting to get me to help construct her little fantasy.
“No, I said I did not know what time I fell asleep, it was not too long after you left.” I gave her a cheeky smile
Mother snorted. “You are an impossible daughter Trinity. Impossible.” she flipped a dish rag at me.
I shrugged. “I have to write a letter today.” I stood up.
“Who ever could you have to write to?” Mother asked suspicious.
I shrugged again. “A person.”
“Well, be gone” she flipped her towel at me again and I went to the parlor to write my letter. All the pens were broken with many thanks to Lily who was practicing her calligraphy. I spent more time mending my pen than I did writing the letter.
I was most impressed by your letter, you know me better than I know myself, I did cut my finger while opening and you will discover the truth of it by my signing this letter in blood.
I am in better spirits since I last saw you and I hope I can manage to keep my spirits high, although it has been quite a pain.
I will leave my letter with you uncle when I visit him today so that it will be the very first thing placed in your grubby hands when you come back home to us.
I must tell you how dreadful the tuesday night after you left was. But first I will tell you how dreadful the few minutes after you left was. As you will undoubtedly remember Taylor was knocking on my door as you were leaving from he back. Well that ‘fine’ fellow brought with him a letter containing consent from his father and mine for him to wed me. Of course that would not typically be an issue, I could just ignore him, but of my father had come to show that he is smarter than we previously expected. He also sent a letter to my mother which contained the same sort of information that Taylor’s did. It also contained a suggestion to bundle. I understand your shock and I accept any sympathy you have for me. This will now lead me to let you guess at what possibly could have happened that was so terribly dreadful on tuesday night. You suppose correctly sir.
Now it is Wednesday morning and I am going to deliver this letter to you dearest uncle and offer him another proposition that will be most delightful and if the proper outcome is
achieved from that request than the statement I made previously about this letter being the first thing in your grubby hands will be a lie.
Yours Always Trinity Smith
I sealed the letter and tucked it away in the many folds of my dress. I released myself from the house without a sound, my footsteps soft and kind on the floorboards of home.
Minutes later I was knocking on the door of the blacksmith’s shop for the umpteenth time in as many days. I knocked several times and received no reply. I considered leaving my letter under the door but my hand refused to release it to such a unconcealed untrustworthy place. I glanced about my head on a swivel checking for anyone that was watching me. Then I discreetly scurried around to side of the door. I placed a listening ear to the door, and I caught a whisper of a noise that I expected, a faint snore. I pounded my fist in to the wood as hard as I possibly could drowning out the snores of the sleeping man inside. I paused my fists as I heard the creak of a rocking chair and then footsteps coming in the direction I was waiting and then a click as a bolt was drawn from the door. A familiar large hairy face showed in mine.
“Good day sir” I curtsied, curious as too why I had to wake Mr. Commondew. “I brought this letter for you to give to Eli when he comes home.” I brought forth the letter suddenly watchful of any sneaking eyes that might catch sight of my disastrous deed.
Mr. Commondew took the letter and swung
his arm around motioning me to come in to the house. I grasped up my skirts and stepped up inside. I licked my lips wondering what he could want with me. I was eager to present my proposition but I wanted to do it just before I left.
“What can I do for you today Miss Smith?” He asked his solemn eyes landing on the black rose at my neck.
My hands flinched with tingling fingers. I reached to the base of my neck touching it and covering it over.
“Where did you get that?” he asked reaching out his raw blacksmith hands.
“It was a gift” I said my hand shielding it protectively. I stared cautiously at Mr. Commondew his hand still out stretched.
“From Eli?” he asked shifty.
“Yes.” I whispered unhooking the necklace and with ginger fingers placing it in his hands. “It is beautiful” I said trying to defend Eli in case this would make his uncle angry.
“I know, everything that bloody boy does always is, but he will not apply himself and take up the art, he is worth hundreds of pounds.”
“Hundreds?” I said shocked at the amount of money I carried around on my neck.
“If he took up the profession in England everyone would flock to him he could be the most talented man in all of London. That is not just a common trinket you are wearing.” Mr. Commondew lowered his eyes taking in a professional examination of the necklace.
“Oh.” I said realizing why Eli would never take up the profession, or at least not in a decorative way that would aid his talent. It would mean he
would have to go to England, the place he so hated.
It took a lot for Eli to grudge against something for a long time. England was one of the few things he would actually admit to hating. The only other thing was gypsies. I extended my hand wanting the necklace back. Mr. Commondew reluctantly obliged me.
“I have another item I want to ask you.” I said restringing the necklace to the back of my neck.
“What is that?” he asked still watching my necklace.
“When will Eli’s ship dock?” I asked hoping for a beneficial answer.
“These voyages could take up to six months, miss. You had better continue on with your life, it could be sometime before he indulges us with his looks again.”
I was stunned, the same emotions were sweeping over me as when I had heard that Eli was being whipped.
“6 months?” I had to choke down the urge to swear, the dangerous compulsive words like a battering ram against my teeth.
I ticked off months inside my head and on my fingers, it was the middle of April so I still had, May, June, July, August, September, October. He would probably be returning around the end of October. It would not be too cold yet so I could still go through with my plan. Of course Father would be home by then which could really be a problem, especially if he found out I was not yet married.
I groaned inwardly. Mr. Commondew gave me a confused look. “Is that the end of your question?”
“No. but I have to think about this for a minute.”
I thought about it. It took me about a one millionth of a second to decide I could go through with it, they could hang me later.
“I want to be there when they pull in, I want to see Eli as soon as he gets back. I want to watch.”
Mr. Commondew blinked several times. He coughed trying to grasp the full effect of my proposition. “That is very dangerous, and recommending that a woman be there would probably be the last thing that I do.” he spoke very slowly as if I was a small child that wanted to go lion hunting.