Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Words on Wednesday

Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast. This month, prompts can be found here: Elephant's Child. Essentially the goal is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music, and/or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, using all or some, or ignoring them.

As I mentioned earlier this month and in last week's comments, my storyline is partially based on actual historical facts. My great-great-etc-great-grandfather, George Soule, came over on the Mayflower as an indentured servant and kept the log on the Mayflower. Elinor Billington did spend time in the stocks for slandering John Doane. Doane was married to a woman named Ana, but the affair is fictional (as far as I know anyway). John Billington (the elder) was in fact hung for the murder of John Newcomen, and claimed before his hanging that he was an innocent man even though there was bad blood between the two men.  This week we meet Francis Billington, son of John and Elinor Billington. The year is 1644.

Image Source: WeHeartIt.com
Francis walked slowly in the woods along the frozen river, looking for maple trees to which he could attach a bucket and collect the sweet sap that would be boiled down to make the syrup and sugar he sold to make a living.  It had been a harsh winter, and he had become disillusioned with life in the New World and had lost interest lately in doing much more than just what was necessary to keep food on their table.

His mother had passed away the winter before, and he felt lonelier than ever, with no one he could confide in.  It had been 17 years since his older brother, John [the younger], had died, and 14 since his father.  Although he had been married to Christian for ten years, she had her hands full with their six children and was pregnant yet again.  His shoulders momentarily shrugged as a sob escaped him, thinking of the three children they had lost early on in her pregnancies.

Life may have been hard if they had stayed in England, but it wouldn't have been as harsh.  They might have stayed in a city with a respectable physician or midwife, but he knew it was naive of him to think that it could have been better.  He might have been able to find work or become a tradesman, but he also might never have met Christian.  As difficult as it was to provide for his family, the highlight of each evening was coming home to his children.

He stopped as he heard the sound of something dashing through the woods just ahead of him.  In the fading light, he knew he had just one chance to possibly shoot a deer which would provide meat for them for the next month.  Dropping to one knee in the snow, he quietly drew his muzzleloader free and filled it with gunpowder and buckshot.
~ * ~
Christian jumped as she heard the sound of a gunshot in the distance, shaking hot wax onto her hand from the candle she was using to light the others in their crowded cabin.  The burning wax caused her to drop the candle, catching a rag doll on the floor that belonged to one of the younger children on fire.  She screamed and grabbed a pail of water near the fireplace, throwing it onto the flames before they could grow any larger. 

Sobbing she fell to the floor, feeling the baby within her give a superkick to her ribs as her emotions got the best of her once more that day.  She was grateful to feel the baby was still alive, but her exhaustion and emotions were beginning to wear on her.

The oldest three children came running from the one bedroom that all six of them shared.

"What is it, Mother? What happened?"

She pulled the children to her on the now muddy dirt floor of the cabin, frightening them to begin crying as well.

"Nothing, dears.  Ma just had a scare, and I dropped a candle.  It caught sissy's doll on fire.  Help me to clean up and get some hot water started for supper.  Perhaps Father was able to shoot something to put in the water for dinner tonight."

"I hope so," whined the youngest of the three, "I'm so 'ungry. If I have to eat another potato this week, I fear I shall become one!"

Laughing now, Christian pulled the children closer to her, giving a kiss to the top of each of their heads.

"Let us pray then that God will provide us with something other than potatoes for supper!"

2 comments:

  1. Francis had a hard life, but his wife's was harder.
    Loving your take on the prompts. As always.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hope he got something good. Our ancestors did not have an easy time of it when they came to their new country. I shall be eternally grateful that they made the sacrifice. Great job with the words. I am enjoying the series.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading my escaped words! I would love to hear from you, but all comments are moderated since I am not paid to advertise for sewers in Riyadh, Dubai, Saudi Arabia.