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.