Month: June 2014
“Hey, look!” Eliza nodded to the large black ship looming just a few feet from their tiny boat. Sebastian turned quickly, following her gaze to the Marianna. It floated gently on the rippling ocean, despite its cumbersome size.
“Faster!” Sebastian urged, pushing the oars behind him with more force. The boat groaned forward, resisting the pull of the waves. “We’re almost there!” Eliza paid no attention to the blonde strands of hair whipping about her face, instead she stared intently at the vessel ahead. The closer they came to ship, the more they could make out the people waving at them from the deck.
Suddenly a flash of green eyes caught her eye, was that? It couldn’t be…
Eliza leaned further in her seat, trying to study the robust young woman with green eyes. “Hello! Hello!” Sebastian was standing now, waving to the people standing on the deck. He then turned and lifted the blanket off the children, who were of course eager to get away from the cramped space.
Eliza herded the children up the tiny ladder, and then took the babies from their place underneath the seats, wrapped in soft fleece. She handed the very youngest to Rebecca and her two sisters, Mariella and Connie. Finally, after all the children were placed but Asher, she took the little handsome boy by the hand to someone she knew would take care him very well.
The young woman whirled around, her green eyes sad. Once she recognized who she was looking at, she screeched. “Oh Eliza!” Olivia wrapped her in a tight hug, eyes brimming with happy tears. “Olivia,” Eliza smiled, her face resting on her friend’s shoulder. “I brought you someone.”
Olivia looked over her shoulder, “Where are the others?”
Eliza’s expression must’ve gave her away because Olivia cried out, “Not them too?”
“What do you mean?” It was Eliza’s turn to ask a question.
Olivia sighed before putting her face in her hands, “When I went missing, I was kidnapped by a soldier. This soldier took me to the headquarters, where I was interrogated for a day. It was terrible. The living conditions, the men. However, a kind lady, a cook, smuggled me out using her food wagon. So then I traveled to the shore, where I found this ship docked. I decided to try and see if the people would take me, and they did, telling me that they didn’t really care what religion I had. That’s when I realized some of the people from our village were here. “
“Liv…” Eliza hugged her again, “Lily went looking for you, but Jane was taken, along with Rebekah and Levi.”
“Dear Lily? The poor girl is probably lost, maybe even in prison!”
“She wanted to find you, Jane tried to talk her out of it, but I told Lily she was old enough to make her own decisions. So she went, but I gave her a switch blade, for protection.” Eliza shook her head, remembering the night.
“Well hopefully she hasn’t gotten far.” Olivia looked wistful, her red waves floating about her pale freckled face.
“I’m going to look for her, which is why…” Eliza leaned down and picked up Asher, handing him to Olivia. Asher giggled and patted Olivia’s cheek, settling nicely in her arms.
“Ohhhh!” Olivia grinned at the little boy, who now lay his head on her shoulder. “I love you, baby boy.”
Eliza smiled at the two of them, so safe and protected from the troubles of the world. “I must be going now, goodbye Olivia and Asher.”
“Goodbye Eliza.” Olivia grabbed her arm, “Remember, Yahweh is stronger than you are hon.
Eliza smiled, “Thank you.”
The sky was nearly dark as the small boat pulled ashore. “There, we’re back, miss–” Sebastian paused and looked Eliza in the eye.
“Eliza.” She thought to tell him her surname but decided against it. The corners of Sebastian’s lips curved into a slight smirk as he realized she wasn’t going to tell him her last name.
“Alright then, Eliza, we’re back.”
Eliza pursed her lips and stared at the purple-gray sky and nodded as the small boat bobbed near shore. The man stepped out and onto the dry land just ahead, pulling the tether of the boat toward him and extending a hand to Eliza, guiding her onto stable ground. The two shared a smile for a second before awkwardly looking away, letting go of each other’s hands.
“Err, thank you kindly, Sebastian.” Eliza gushed. She gathered the skirt’s of her dress and climbed a little ways up the hill, turning abruptly. “May the Father bless you greatly for your bravery.” She bowed her head slightly and Sebastian nodded, though his eyes were serious. “Be safe, Eliza.” He turned his back to her but secretly he was smiling widely.
The cold forest air whipped around Eliza’s hair, tossing loose strands in the wind as she tucked down the edges of her dress, pressing forcefully forward as the turbulent wind shoved her back. Rain pelted down on the trees, causing her to shiver. Though the girl had her shawl pulled tightly about her shoulders, she couldn’t help but feel the frigid air in her bones. “Please, Father, keep me safe.” She whispered, pleading to the angry black skies.
“Eliza! Eliza, wait!” Came a sudden shout from behind her.
The young woman’s heart nearly stopped in her chest as she stopped suddenly and turned around. “Who’s there?” Her voice was shaky and could barely be heard above the storm. What if it was a solider?
But, they wouldn’t know my name, she reasoned. Eliza saw a figure approaching quickly, running toward her.
“Eliza, thank goodness.” Sebastian breathed, brushing his wet hair away from his face, smiling at her, “I thought you were lost.”
“You…chased me here?” The curiosity in Eliza’s voice was poignant, she was utterly surprised the young man had followed her through the storm all this way.
“Well…something like that,” Sebastian chuckled, scratching the back of his head, “More like followed you.” He shrugged, “I was worried about you when it started raining.”
Eliza didn’t quite know what to say but she nodded, laughing a little under her breath. “Well then, I’m grateful for your concern.” She smiled. Sebastian frowned, looking worried, “You’re going to send me back now, aren’t you?”
“Nonsense!” Eliza was laughing now. “The storm was scaring me as well, and as much as I would be obliged to go on my own, obviously you were sent here for a reason.” She tucked her hair behind one ear and nodded to the sky, “I’m thankful you came then.”
Sebastian didn’t know what to make of her little rant, so he nodded. “Shall we go? I know a place we could wait out the storm.”
It was a cave. A dark, wet cave. Eliza looked around for a stream but saw none. “Cold isn’t it?” Sebastian questioned, folding his arms as he stood in front of Eliza, staring at her.
“Certainly.” Eliza agreed, “Is there water in here?”
“I do believe so.” The man nodded, gesturing toward a dry spot to sit in the darkness of the large rock formation.
Eliza could see icicles hanging dangerously low from the roof of the cave but she ignored the thought to break them off as she used to as a child, knowing that a piece of ice that heavy could hurt someone.
“Do you come here a lot?” She asked Sebastian, cautiously sitting down on the chilly ground with her legs close to her body, pulling down her skirt. He nodded, leaning against the rock, still standing, “Very much so. It is a very nice place to think. In the summer it’s better, still wet but not so cold as during winter.”
Eliza nodded, slipping off her gloves and breathing warm air onto her hands. “Could you not just live here?” Sebastian seemed wistful as he gestured to the empty cave. Eliza raised her eyebrows uncertainly and glanced around. What he found comforting about a cold cave, she was unsure but maybe, just maybe, Eliza felt it too, the serene quality of being at one with nature. Nothing to distract you but the sound of the wind.
“I could.” Eliza nodded. She smiled. In her mind, the young woman could picture sitting here on a cold night, just pondering life and asking questions of her Father. “Most certainly.”
Sebastian glanced over at the girl and chuckled. She was staring into the cave with a thoughtful look crossing her pale face, hair blowing across her bright eyes.
There was definitely something different about this young woman, he thought to himself. Her intriguing faith was certainly one of great interest to him. Someday when they weren’t shivering in a dark cave, he would ask her in greater detail about this religion her people called their own. Someday, he thought to himself, what if I never see her again? But that was something Sebastian did not resign himself to. He was sure that, if this Father that she prayed to was in control, he would surely see the beautiful girl again.
Eliza was thinking about her friends, her community. She wondered about Jane and Lily, dear Leandra and kind, sweet Olivia.
It had been so long, yes, since she last saw Leandra. She knew that the girl was far away in the care of the king’s soldiers. Still, Eliza had a sure faith that she would most certainly see her friend again. And the children, they would be just fine, right? She couldn’t promise but she knew that she had a promise she could count on.
1John 5: 3-4 For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy, because everyone having been born of Elohim overcomes the world. And this is the overcoming that has overcome the world: our belief.
At that, a smile covered Eliza’s face. Remembering ever she had been brought through, Eliza knew it was true. Without her belief, where would she be?
“Looks like the rain stopped for now.” Sebastian’s voice brought Eliza from her thoughts. He was standing near the entrance of the cave, looking back at her.
“Already?” It had seemed like merely a few minutes since they had arrived her, when the rain had just began.
“It would seem so.” Stepping outside, Sebastian reached a hand out and turned back inside. Nodding, he spoke, “Yep, clear and dry out there, it is.” Eliza stood and she too looked outside. The raindrops had stopped by now and the only noise was that of the wind blowing calmly, knocking the occasional shower of water of a tree branch.
“Should we continue on or stay here the night?” Eliza questioned, unsure of which to choose. “Stay here is what my choice would be, unless that is, you would know of another place to sleep nearby.”
“No, no, you’re right, this is the closest thing to a shelter I can think of near here.” Eliza nodded. Sebastian stood at the opening of the cave for a moment more before turning back. “Well.” He spoke, “I’ll sleep here. Keep watch. You should stay farther back.” Eliza smiled gratefully as he offered the girl his coat. “Here,” he nodded, “You can sleep on this.”
“Thank you ever so much for this, Sebastian,” Eliza said earnestly, “I mean it. You’ve gone out of your way to help me and I’m very grateful.”
“Of course.” The young man smiled, he nodded slightly to her. Eliza walked back toward the further corner of the cave and laid down the coat, pulling her shawl to wrap around her. Thankful for the coat and her warm clothes, Eliza closed her eyes and laid her head on the soft fabric, sleep taking over her swiftly.
The sun glowed a light ivory, a glimmer of hope in the dawn. It sat hovered between the horizon and the immense sky. The large ship floated in the distance, a large silhouette against the clouds.
Eliza smiled and pushed her oars a little harder, sending a cobalt splash behind her. Feeling the sudden speed change, Sebastian looked up quickly, his lips curving into a smile.
“In a hurry?”
“Yes.” Eliza looked past him and set her eyes on the ship, its immense size becoming more and more apparent with the distance.
“Are we there yet?!” asked a little voice from underneath the skins. “Shhh, my dear. We are almost there though.” Eliza continued to stare at the horizon, afraid of pointing her eyes to the children.
Sebastian laughed quietly, staring at the distant shore behind Eliza. “What?”
He smiled at Eliza, eyes twinkling, “It’s just that in all my twenty years I never imagined I would be smuggling a boat full of children disguised as blankets to America.” She laughed with the man. It was true, but Eliza never imagined that she would be doing the same.
“I agree,” Eliza couldn’t help the grin covering her face despite the circumstances. “And how old are you?” Sebastian asked, his face inquisitive.
Eliza nodded, “There’s a girl even younger than me in our group. She’s seventeen. She’s the one trying to find Olivia, the one who disappeared.”
“I was wondering…why does the king persecute you? I mean, what faith do you have that he doesn’t want you to possess?”
She began to tell him the beginning of their faith, a small sect in the middle of all England.
Liam Jacob Westington was a confused man as he walked out of Wonutherton College on a brisk Friday evening. A drawn out discussion with Professor Berisk had left him doubting the very reason he lived. Walking on the icy streets of downtown London, he had reason to believe that maybe he had everything wrong. For all of his life he had felt empty at the church he went to with his family, a beautiful cathedral that employed the Pope as the head teacher.
Maybe the Savior’s name wasn’t really Jesus? Or that his mother was to be worshipped with Hail Mary’s? Should the Sabbath be kept on Sunday or Saturday? What was Communion really about?
At only twenty-two years of age, Liam had not yet been tasked with a wife or children, nor a laborious job. However, he still felt as if he was older than his grandfather at times, with a complex, thoughtful mind.
As Liam approached the affluent section of town, Brisbane Avenue, he was filled with a quiet peace. Even though it seemed his faith was being turned upside down, he somehow knew everything was okay. However cliché that sounded.
Liam smiled to himself and looked up into the sky, seeing that nearly all the stars were out. It certainly was late, but it was all for the enlightenment of his mind, as far as he was concerned.
However late it was though, the Westington mansion still glowed, set aflame by hundreds of beautiful candles. By this, Liam knew that Father and Mother were holding a dinner party, as this was their code. Too many times Liam and his sister burst in to the parlor with loud voices or dirty clothes, sometimes with friends or food. So they decided to institute an obvious (and beautiful), warning.
Walking up to the gate, Liam said hallo to the guards and went inside, stopping to admire the vast structure.
The mansion was an unusual white marble streaked with black, cut into a pristine square shape. It was tall, at nearly ten stories high, with many windows cut into the facade. There was a fancy embellished stone archway to enter into the mansion’s doorway, through which many wealthy aristocrats had walked.
Spreading out from the entrance was a roundabout cobbled driveway, in which buggies exited and entered. A large marble waterfall sat in the middle, surrounded by a tiny green.
The waterfall glowed a beautiful aqua, illuminated by candle light all around the marble enclosure. It’s comforting pitter-patter sound rang with Liam as he slowly walked past, heading inside.
He decided to go in the side door, which was more discreet. There was little traffic and offered an easy way to get upstairs. Even after living in the mansion for fifteen years, Liam could not understand why the bedrooms were on the fifth floor.
Still, he was just grateful to get to sleep after being up all night. He opened the ornate wood doors and made his way quickly through the corridor to the stairs.
“Liam? Is that you?!” His mother swished into the room, her black hair swept up into a chignon. A feathery white stole draped over her shoulders, dragging on the ground.
“Yes mother, how are you? I was just—”
“Oh Liam! You must go talk to Eliza, her father just became administrator!” She grabbed him by the arm, leading him out of the corridor into the ballroom.
His mother left him standing there with Eliza Marianna Grey, a pretty young socialite from Brisbane. She smiled at him, her blonde head cocked to one side, “Good evening, Liam.”
“Good evening to you as well, Eliza.” He smiled, “How is the ball?”
“Oh simply magical! Your parents have the most impeccable taste.” She grinned, swishing her white dress to one side.
“Thank you, they try.” Liam bowed, “Now if you would excuse me, I must retire. I am extremely tired.”
“Oh then, goodnight!” Eliza called cheerily, practically floating away.
Liam had to laugh to himself, that girl was so kind, but a bit dreamy. Still, he wondered why his parents wanted so anxiously for him to marry and build a house. Weren’t there farther more important things to attend too? He thought so, and spent many long nights studying the Bible to try and answer the many questions that crossed his brain.
What is the meaning of life? Why are we commanded to do all the things that we are? What is the meaning of the threshold? Why were some things stated in the Bible not acted upon?
This and many other questions were the things that plagued Liam at night, not marriage or having money. He resolved his best, though, to obey his father in all means and be dutiful. However, the great mystery of the Bible remained, and Liam was determined to figure it out.
Sorry everyone for the delay, we’ve been busy. How’s your Shavuot weekend going? Isn’t wonderful fellowshiping with others? I do believe so 🙂
I hope you all have a good day!
“Rebekah. Rebekah.” Eliza gently shook the young girl awake, “It’s time to leave. And remember to whisper.”
“It’s too cold,” complained Rebekah sleepily, pulling her woolen blanket over her head. “Mhmm. Come on.” Eliza pulled off her blanket and picked up the ten-year-old.
“Let go!” Rebekah quietly squirmed out of her grasp to the ground. “Put on your cloak.” Eliza handed her it, and then turned to help baby Eli.
“Liza!” Levi whisper-shouted and pulled her dress, looking anxious.
“I can’t find my hat!”
“Oh…” Eliza surveyed the camp, looking for his knitted green tam o’ shanter. “There,” she pointed to a far off rock, where his hat sat. “Thank you!” The little boy ran off, waving to his friends.
“Where’s my momma?” Levi’s little sister Hannah was whispering, her blue-green eyes round with confusion.
“She’s gone right now, Hannah.” Eliza quickly buttoned a shirt here, tied a shoe there.
“Why are we leaving when it’s dark?!” A little boy called out from somewhere in the crowd.
“Shhhh!” The reprimand came from both women.
“Alright children, hurry along!” Jane said quietly, herding them toward the woods. Eliza let her companion take charge and speedily grabbed the food supplies.
They began walking quickly down a predetermined path, heading toward a small port. All around was pre-dawn light, a cold drift in the air, not unlike Sukkot. The children buzzed with a quiet excitement, walking, running and trying to look ahead. Eliza smiled as they came closer to the site, smelling the salty ocean waves spraying on the sand.
“Is that the ocean?” Hannah was holding her hand, looking somewhat afraid. “Yes dear.” Eliza picked her up, walking faster now.
“Come, come!” Jane had found the shore and was heading in that direction. The children bounced and started to shout as they came closer.
“What’s going on here?”
Eliza whipped around to the left, where three soldiers stood in front of Jane. She and most of the children were hidden behind the trees, but Jane, Rebekah and little Levi were unprotected.
“I am just going back to my home sir,” replied Jane calmly, her cloaked back rippling softly in the dawn air.
“In the middle of the night? With no men to protect you?” The tallest soldier looked suspicious, studying her expression.
“No sir. We have just come back from trading and the trek took longer than we expected.”
The soldiers exchanged glances, speaking silently with their eyes. The leader nodded and turned back to Jane, “Come with me ma’am, and bring your children.”
“Of course, sir.” Jane took Rebekah by the shoulder and gripped it, also taking Levi’s hand. She gave them a stern look and followed the soldiers as they walked away from the forest.
Eliza watched them walk away, her palms growing sweaty. What would she do? There were over 15 children to take care, not to mention 3 babies. Grimacing, she looked over her charges, scanning the faces.
“Lilly!” She whispered for the ten-year-old, who looked quickly at her, large eyes solemn. “Yes ma’am?”
“Take Jonathan and Ruth’s hands, and stand right there.” Eliza pointed to a large mossy tree just a few feet away, “Do not move from it.” The young girl nodded and took the little one’s hands, doing as she was told.
“Alright now, Ryan, your turn. Take Noah by the tree next to Lilly’s. Trevor, take Danielle. Katelyn—Hannah & Jacob, good girl. Olivia, baby Joselyn. Becky, you get Abby. Patrick, you take baby Eli. And I…” Eliza hoisted baby John onto her hip, “…will take Johnny & Asher.”
Standing at their respective places, she surveyed the children. “Alright now, no one make any noise.” Eliza crept among the tall fir trees, watching for the boat.
As she watched the ocean, a sudden feeling of dread came upon her. In the back of her mind, she wondered if the man who owned the boat betrayed them. Could it be? She narrowed her eyes and scanned the dusky waves, breaking with the first dawn of light.
A cool breeze was coming in, letting Eliza draw her shawl closer. She hadn’t been able to grab a warmer cloak, which she regretted as she saw dark storm clouds obscuring the sky. Groaning as she swiveled, crouched down on the sandy floor, she called to the children.
Lily walked slowly forward, looking the part of an angel with her wispy blonde hair and aquamarine eyes. Jonathan and Ruth grasped tightly onto her hands, stumbling a little over the uneven ground. The other children followed suit, unusually solemn.
“Over here,” Eliza whispered, leading them along a sheltered path. She spotted a medium sized, obsidian boat bobbing in the waves, a tall young man next to it.
She remembered that the boat owner was a older man, a simple farmer who lived in the country. “Now, nobody move,” Eliza whispered again, turning back around to the boat. “I’ll go see if it’s safe, then come back to you.”
Eliza gathered up her skirts and wrapped her cloak tighter. Walking closer to shore, she tried to stay as calm as possible, trying not to look nervous. The young man stood close to the boat, his curly brown hair flying slowly in the wind, a serious look on his face.
“Hello.” The graveness of his voice struck Eliza, making her feel unsafe. Was this man an enemy?
“Sir? Is this boat for sale?” She racked her brain, trying to think of a clever story. The young man looked at her, “No.”
How could she tell him who she was without endangering the children?
Eliza sighed, looking at the rope the young man held in his hands. Narrowing her eyes, she concluded that the man was probably sent by the elder owner of the boat. “Do you know John Winston?”
A light dawned in the young man’s eyes, “Yes, he is the owner of this boat. He asked me to watch over it.”
Grinning now, Eliza called for the children, who came scurrying out of the forest. “I thought for sure John would come himself. I was quite confused.”
The young man shook his head, “I’m his nephew, Sebastian. He had to go to town at the last minute because his wife was sick. By the way, weren’t there supposed to be three women with you?”
Eliza’s face became solemn, “Yes, one of our group went missing. Then another went after her. She said she would come here if she didn’t find her. Finally, our third member got taken, along with two children…” she leaned closer to him, “I need to find all of them.”
Sebastian stroked his chin in deep thought, “What are you saying?”
“Can I trust you to keep everything I say in confidence?” Eliza stared into his eyes, fixing him with an honest glare.
He leaned back a little, “Yes, I will.”
“Alright. I will come with you to the ship. However, once I entrust them in care of Rebecca Jonwill, I am going back to shore to find my friends. Nevertheless, they need to not know anything of this plan. Rebecca is a wonderful young lady, and I know she has friends who will protect these little ones.”
“I will do everything in my power to make sure they are not betrayed and safe.”
“Can you row?”
“Good.” Sebastian pointed to the other set of oars, “Those are yours.”
She nodded, turning to the boat, “Alright children, you are going to America!”
“YAY!” The small group shouted and smiled at each other. “Shhhhh…” Sebastian quickly hushed the children. He instructed them to lay on the floor of the boat, which was covered in warm deerskin. This would lessen the chance of discovery, making it seem as if they were just taking blankets to be transported to America.
Sebastian and Eliza pushed the boat off, then jumped in to began rowing. The boat groaned underneath the weight of the children, but soon glided beautifully over the dawn ocean.
Eliza gripped the rough fir oars firmly, pushing the paddle smoothly into the water. Her hands were calloused from rowing her father’s boat, as he had no sons. All her life she had spent time in the ocean, rowing fish to and fro the shore. This was not much different, since her cargo was in much more danger if they fell.
Watching the sky as she rowed, Eliza basked in the beauty of the colors, even if they were grey, white and black. A hint of rain was in the air, smelling of freshwater and dewy grass. It was the calm before the storm.