- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Ships from: Geneva, IL
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
In 1676, having survived a tempest at sea, Catherwood and gentleman husband Gabriel, originally destined with a group of kin for Virginia, find New York's wilderness to their liking and obtain land in the Albany region. A busy round of clearing, planting, and building ensues, so that before two years pass a substantial house and gardens have been hewn out of the woods—and Cath has a one- year-old, Elizabeth, to share her days. The idyll is shattered one afternoon in May, however, when Cath misses the trail home after visiting a nearby cousin, and she and Elizabeth wander ever farther away from home while desperately searching for some sign of civilization. A knowledge of herb lore and the presence in her pack of flint, steel, and a knife keep away hunger and cold, but as spring gives way to summer, and summer to fall without any alteration in their fortunes, survival becomes less certain. Elizabeth catches a fever and dies, leaving her mother so bereft that she cannot leave her body behind. Cremating the child allows Cath to carry away a few bones, but her own mental and physical state swiftly deteriorates. In her final despair she stumbles at last on a settlement (Westfield, Mass.), where she collapses and is nursed slowly to health. The Puritans keep apart from her as a nonbeliever, but send for Gabriel at her request, and as winter arrives he appears to take her home.
The tender moments between mother and child are evoked most powerfully, but the farther one moves from this intimate sphere, the less satisfying the novel becomes.
As the tide began to ebb, the ship's cannon fired, skeins of white smoke unreeling into the brisk March air. An answering cloud of smoke from shore tumbled across the crowd on the docks. At the ship's rail, Cath gripped Gabriel's arm, a cold wind dashing the tears from her eyes.
"Farewell, Lacey and Jamie!" Catherwood called.
The wind poured past the ship, hurling her words toward St. George's Channel and Cornwall, then on into wide spaces of ocean. Jamie rode high on Lacey's shoulders, waving a tin horn tied with ribbons, blowing on it to attract Cath's attention, although from so far she could hear nothing, the piping drowned in the weeping and cries of the other passengers. St. George's cross, scarlet as bloodstains on a field of snow, reared up the mast, rippling noisily as if it too would be hurtled toward the sea. The great sails, streaked and faded with salt, caught the wind with a series of sharp retorts, and the bluff-bowed ship rocked forward, bound for the Atlantic Ocean and the far country of Virginia.
"A sad beginning," said Gabriel. With Gabriel and Catherwood Lyte stood their own small family of servants, along with two de Bruton families, cousins to Gabriel. Standing and seated about them on deck were several hundred passengers, mostly boys and young men bound to Virginia as servants, many of them having been spirited from their homes by strangers. There were thirty-seven girls and women, one bartered away by her own husband, several transported for petty crimes or trepanned and sold for servants against their wills.
"Thank God ours is otherwise," said Cath. She knew her fortune might have been the same as theirs if Lacey's motherhad not adopted her. The lot of such women would be very different from her own case, safely married with a dowry, tied to those whose Church of England relatives had migrated to Virginia decades before. The moment her adopted mother died, the way was determined for her, a busy, crowded route; after the funeral she would have to marry— after a hasty period of mourning, after banns, but be fore the prohibited time of Lent began. Now the months ahead of her lay like a great emptiness but one secure in its end, for the de Bruton and Lyte families would find Virginia connections from England, friends of their parents and grandparents.
Copyright ) 1996 by Marly Youmans