After Salt left me, I couldn’t rest. I was up pacing around the room and looking
out of the windows. I saw him leave and walk down the street with his steward. I
sat down at the dressing table again and looked at the woman in the mirror. I
felt through my hair and found the rest of the pins. I must have left a trail up
Oh, what was I going to do? Here he was trying to get out of the country and I
appear quite unbidden on his part to create an obstacle for him. I supposed I
could stay in his house…for what…forever? The reason for being here would be
gone. No, that was out of the question. I needed to get back to my own time and
leave him in peace to go about his business of leaving Savannah.
twisted my hair up again, securing it as firmly as I could then went back
downstairs and out into the garden. I paused several times in places I’d seen
him through the gate before arriving at the garden gate. I reached out to open
it and it didn’t budge. I shook it and felt around for a lock but I couldn’t
feel anything through the ironwork that would cause it to stick or be locked. It
simply would not open.
turned around and leaned on the gate. I was trapped inside this time warp…for
him. I saw a movement at the far side of the garden, a glimpse of a blue skirt.
It was the blue skirt of Salt. I frowned. Was this woman somehow responsible for
this? I set out to find her.
She was in the kitchen building talking to an old black man who was peeling
potatoes. He nodded toward me and she turned around.
“Salt, the garden gate will not open.”
just tried it and it’s stuck shut.”
“De gate she open.”
“Okay, you come and open it then.”
She moved out of the kitchen and I followed close behind her. She pulled the
gate and it opened.
“It wouldn’t do that when I tried. If you have anything to do with this, with my
being here, you need to stop. Captain Treadwell is trying to leave and he
doesn’t know what to do with me. I don’t know what to do with me.”
She chuckled, “De gate open if yo got sum’ers to go.”
narrowed my eyes, “I haven’t anywhere to go out there now. What have you done?”
don’ do nuthin’. God got de plan.”
hope he sees fit to reveal it soon!” I whirled around and made a dramatic exit.
I just knew she was working something…some kind of magic, probably voo-doo or
such. I thought I might check around for tale-tell chicken feet.
With my dander up so went the temperature. It’s warm and humid in May and this
May was no different. I went upstairs to what I was now thinking of as my room
and found the fan I’d seen on a table. Too many layers of clothes! How did the
women live and stand it? I fanned away at an open window, leaning out, hoping to
see him coming back.
didn’t come back. I had my dinner at a small table in the front living room.
Afterwards I carried the glass of wine to a piano and sat down and began to
play. It had been a long time since I played and I never played well but it kept
me from biting my nails and worrying myself into a fit.
didn’t hear him come in. It was after nine o’clock because I’d heard the clock
chime in the hallway. By then I’d been through the better part of the decanter
of wine. I was just finishing up a Scott Joplin piece. He lounged in the doorway
and must have made a sound for I turned on the seat and looked at him. He looked
even better by candlelight.
“What strange music you play.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
smiled, came over to the piano and leaned on the top of it, looking at me for a
moment before he spoke.
“You have me at a disadvantage. Not only do I not know the half of it, I do not
know the whole of it.”
don’t know anything anymore.”
His eyes traveled to my bosom where I’d sunk down in the staves and left the
soft bits pushed up as far as they could go without popping out completely. Yes,
Captain, I am a woman. He met my eyes for a moment.
have some news.” He straightened up and moved away. “I have arranged passage out
“Tomorrow night…midnight to be exact.”
“No.” I stood up.
“It may be the last chance I have.”
bit my lip to keep from turning into the blubbering mess I was earlier in the
day. I picked up the glass of wine and moved out into the room not far from him.
“You mean to leave me here.” It was a statement.
rubbed his eyes and moved closer, taking my glass and emptying it in one
“Against all sensible thinking I’m going to take you with me. It will not be a
pleasure trip. If it be true, Madison is going to declare war on England.” He
set the glass down on a table.
cannot, as an officer, take a woman on board a ship lest she be my wife. We will
be married in the morning at 10:00.”
staggered into a chair and sat down.
“You may divorce me when we reach England.”
“Oh, married…divorce.” I looked up at him, flabbergasted.
“It is…the only way I see out of Savannah. You were correct. I cannot leave you
here. Some force has brought you here to me and I mean to the best of my ability
to take care of you.”
head was spinning…too much wine. “So is this your idea of a proposal of
“It is not my idea at all. It is a solution to a problem.”
“Ah…you are a romantic, aren’t you? Yes sir, you really know how to win a girl’s
raised a brow and glanced at the wine decanter. “It will be a marriage in name
only to protect you aboard ship.”
boldly rose from my chair. “How convenient, but who is going to protect you from
me? Once I have that ring on my finger I just might demand conjugal rights…as
your wife. Jack, I suppose I can call you that since we’re to be married, you
have no idea what mental anguish I’m in. If I said I wasn’t attracted to you I’d
be lying. That may very well be why I’m here. So don’t think you have to spare
me the marriage bed.”
do believe I shocked him.
“I’m not a virgin. Given time I’ll tell you all about myself. There hasn’t been
any time to do that yet. Don’t think I’m the kind of woman who jumps into bed
with just anyone, because I’m not. I come from a different time where morals are
a bit looser…I guess you’d say. People do live together without the benefit of
marriage. I was one of those non-benefited people. Five years I gave to a man
who treated me like a piece of furniture…he did, after all is said and done. I
don’t know why I stayed with him.” I shut up because I was in danger of becoming
a crying drunk and that is most unattractive. I turned to leave.
That stopped me.
“It is a marriage of convenience that I am proposing. I was only thinking of you
and how to get you away from here. We are not acquainted with each other. A few
hours are not enough to…it can be whatever you wish it to be.”
“I’m probably not suitable for you, not the kind of woman a man in your position
would marry had he a choice in the matter. For all I know you already have
somebody in mind. I appreciate your concern and what you’re willing to do for
me. Forgive me; I’ve had quite a go at your wine decanter tonight.”
did not mean to offend you, Ella.”
“No, I know you didn’t. I should go to bed. I’ll be more sensible in the morning
when the wine has worn off.”
“What you said about me having someone…I don’t.”
didn’t really think you did. Good night.”
weaved my way to the staircase and sat down. That was the last thing I
remembered until I woke just before daylight in bed, in a nightgown, alone.
sat up on the side of the bed, holding my head and trying to move the cobwebs
around to where I could think. I was embarrassed to think of what I’d said to
him the night before. Oh, God.
made for the ewer and scooped water up in my hand to drink. By daylight I was
feeling a little better and with a mostly clear head, his plan to get us out of
Savannah made sense. He wasn’t in love with me; he didn’t even know me. Of
course it had to be a marriage of convenience.
Salt brought me breakfast in bed.
Around 9:30 she finished buttoning me up into an altered ball gown that would
serve as my wedding dress. It was pale pink silk adorned with heavy cream lace
about the elbows and around the bodice. I wore my own diamond stud earrings. A
cab awaited me downstairs and, trying not to think at all, I was on my way to
the church to be married.
Jack was there waiting a few paces from the church steps. He looked resplendent
in full dress uniform. Regardless of the circumstances of our marriage we made a
fine looking couple as we entered the church with me holding his arm. This
momentous event was witnessed by the minister’s wife and Killick. We took our
vows and he placed a gold ring set with rubies on my finger. His kiss was soft
and moist. We were married.
less than an hour we were back at the house. In just a little over 24 hours I’d
traveled 200 years back in time, married a man I didn’t know and was now
preparing for a sea voyage in a sailing ship. I stood at the window overlooking
the garden and gazed toward the gate. There would be no going back now. For
better or worse, in sickness and in health, honor and obey…had I actually
promised to obey?
heard his footsteps behind me and turned.
“Mrs. Treadwell, have I told you that you look beautiful today?”
“No, Sir, you haven’t said much of anything to me except the repeat after me
stuff.” I smiled up at him and he touched my arm, letting his fingers slide over
the heavy lace before dropping his arm at his side.
“Salt and Bill have prepared a feast for us.”
“Did you carry me upstairs last night?”
“Ah, yes, I did but it was Salt who undressed you.”
owe you an apology for my smart mouth and for drinking too much. You’ve been
nothing but kind to me.”
took my arm, guiding me toward the dining room. “We’d better sup well while we
have the chance. You will not see such food again for some time.”
“How long does it take to get to England?”
“Four weeks, in peacetime and smooth sailing.”
month? Wow! Someday I’ll tell you how it was in my time.”
“200 years hence? I’m not sure my mind would be able to grasp it.”
“You’ve accepted me and my time travels.”
looked down at me, standing by my chair. “I have indeed accepted you.”
Did I feel my heart swell? I was looking for little things, anything really that
I could grasp onto. I needed something from him, something that said he cared
beyond a sense of duty. He held himself away from me where I would fall into him
in a heartbeat. I’d come 200 years for him and patience was not a virtue I
possessed. Still, I reminded myself, I only met him yesterday.
“You’re going to have to guide me, Jack, because I’m lost here. I don’t know
what is expected of me. I don’t know if I’m supposed to stand at your side as
your wife or if you expect to keep me confined to the bowels of the ship until
we reach England.” England was another thing but I wasn’t going to bring it up
smiled a little as he took up his knife and fork. “I will not keep you confined
to the bowels. Weather permitting and circumstance, you will be allowed on deck
but only where you are allowed to walk. There is danger for someone who is not
familiar with the workings of a ship.”
“I’m a little frightened at the whole prospect of crossing the ocean under
will keep you safe.”
looked at him a moment. “I believe you will.” I believed what Salt had said
about him. He was a ‘gud mon’.
filled my stomach with as much food as I could, considering the limitations of
the damned corset. Jack was a hearty eater, I’d noticed, but there was nothing
soft about him. That I’d determined from the brief moments I’d been against him
and that brought up another thought. Did he mean to consummate our marriage?
gazed at him across the table until I caught his eye. I then demurely dropped my
eyes. Had he any idea where my mind was at the moment?
Obviously not. “Salt has brought in some help to get your wardrobe in order. We
will be leaving for the ship as soon as it is dark. You might lend a hand if you
“I’ll do what I can but I’m not very good at hand stitching.” I forked a piece
of chicken, feeling my face flush.
cleared his throat. Perhaps he did know.
spent my wedding day letting out the hems in petticoats. Salt found me some
boots that more or less fit if I wasn’t walking very far. Old Bill had tried to
stretch them and had polished them to a brown glow. They would do and do better
than the slippers I’d been wearing. As garments were finished they were folded
and placed in the bottom of a trunk. I got out of my wedding dress and placed it
in the trunk myself. I dressed in a ‘traveling costume’ which to my delight
required no more than three petticoats and I secretly ditched the corset under
the bed. There wouldn’t be anyone to do up the laces anyway. Unless of
was amazed at how fast the women stitched. They measured me with their hands and
their fingers would fly over the mounds of dresses. Did I need all
this…evidently I did. I left Salt in charge and she was getting plenty of advice
from her helpers.
The clock in the hallway said 4:15 when I finally emerged from the heated
confines of my room. I walked out into the garden and looked toward the gate.
Never again would I pass through it. Everything I’d known was gone from me. I
tried to conjure up some regret but it wasn’t coming. Tom would raise a hue and
cry for awhile but he’d go on with his life. What friends I had would discuss my
disappearance for awhile until something else came along to dispel it. Life
would go on without me. I mattered that little to anyone left behind. My father,
whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years, wouldn’t even know I was gone.
Whatever or whoever had stepped into my life and brought me here must have known
what they were doing. The only thing that bothered me was that I felt I was a
burden to Jack. He hadn’t wanted this, hadn’t asked for me to appear here in
this garden. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time for him. Now he was
shackled with a wife that he had to drag across the ocean.
What lay beyond the ocean I didn’t know. He may discard me like a hot coal once
we reached land. If that happened I’d disappear for there was no way I could
make it on my own without him. The quietness of the garden soothed my troubled
mind. How quiet it was without the sounds of machinery and the noise of the 21st century.
I could hear bees at work in the jessamine.
heard his footstep on the gravel walk.
“There you are. Bill’s made tea if you’d like to come in for a cup.”
would like a cup of tea.”
paused at my side and looked toward the gate. “Are you having regrets?”
“No. I tried to but I haven’t any regrets. For better or worse I’m with you
His eyes softened and he walked with me back into the house.
Women know when a man is attracted to them and I was no different. I think if he
wasn’t he wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to marry me. He’d have left me there
in his house with Salt and Bill. There was something there between us that
needed time to grow. Right now he was feeling responsible for me and the fact
he’d taken on that responsibility gave me hope.
He’d been in his study writing letters and making preparations for our trip
while I had been in a cloud of silks and cottons. He told me stores of
foodstuffs had been taken by Killick to the ship.
“Do not expect meals as you’ve had here but you will not go hungry if you’re
willing to eat what is provided.”
was curious about life aboard and asked him about accommodations.
“Ah, I don’t know what you are used to but you may find the space small and
“I’m not used to anything as far as a ship goes.”
looked at me. “We have a cabin with a small bunk. We may have to sleep in
The rest of the day went by quickly. My room looked bare for the women had
packed the dressing table ornaments. The wardrobe was empty except for a few
items that were considered unsuitable. A bonnet lay on the bed with long pale
blue ribbon streamers along with the tight fitting jacket that completed my
ensemble. The trunk was ready to be carried to the ship.
was becoming anxious about it now. A little coil of fear had settled in my
stomach. Walking around the room I touched everything solid and real and safe.
In the last vestiges of daylight two men with a wagon came for my trunk and
Jack’s. I watched them from my window. Killick was down there on the street with
them, ordering about. I smiled a little at him; what an unlikely man, but he
looked after Jack and his needs.
gathered up the bonnet and the jacket and came downstairs. The rooms were not
lit with candlelight as they had been the night before, only a small room off
the hallway. I stopped at the door. Jack was donning his coat and looked up at
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“As ready as I can be.” He was busily putting things into an oilskin bag. “I…I
feel like I’m an anchor dragging you down.”
picked up his bag and walked over to me. “Perhaps I am in need of an anchor. I
have been adrift for many years. Come, the cab should be arriving.”
took my arm and walked me to the door. There he put down his bag and took the
bonnet from my hands and placed it on my head, tying the ribbons under my neck.
All the while I searched his face but he wouldn’t meet my eyes.
The docks looked like a beehive of activity. The sloop that awaited us was lit
up with lanterns. Jack handed me down from the cab and left me while he went to
search out someone he knew. There were other passengers boarding and there were
children among them. He’d told me there were other English families that wished
to leave Savannah before the hostilities began.
was certain there was to be a war.
wasn’t long before he was back with a tall handsome gentleman that he introduced
to me as Dr. Stephen Maturin.
“Stephen, may I present my wife, Ella.”
saw the shock and direct look Stephen gave Jack but he bowed over my hand.
“How good to meet you. I had no idea Jack even knew a woman.”
took one last look at the cobbled street before I was lifted down onto the dock
and guided onto the ship. He stayed beside of me, taking my arm when I was meant
to move from one place to another on the deck. It occurred to me that I’d never
been on the ocean in anything larger than a blow-up float.