Flies buzzed around Mariana's face as she sat outside the Hemstra family's house drinking tea. She batted at the flies with her gloved hand and sighed. It was a usual hot day for July. There hadn't been any rain in a long time and it wasn't helping the plantation owners' crops any. Many of the plantation owners had already lost many of their crops to the heat. But crops and plantations was not on Mariana's mind. It really never was because she had no need to worry about crops. Her father, Reverend Isaac Williams, did not own a big plantation but instead he and his nineteen-year-old daughter Mariana lived in a small simple white house. The Williams family had never been rich because most of the men of the family had been called to preach the word of God. As many people knew, men of God did not believe in being 'filthy' rich and having slaves.
Born a true Kentuckian, Mariana, or Ana (who everyone referred to her as), was not very independent. Perhaps she had been too sheltered from the reality of life. Being the daughter of a preacher was a rather hard task. When Ana's mother had passed away from scarlet fever, Ana and Reverend Williams had been devastated. The most difficult thing after Rosanna Williams death was getting used to not having Rosanna there. Ana found it hard to believe that it had only been a year since her mother's death.
1859 (A year earlier)
Rosanna had fallen ill on a cold winter night. She and Ana had just come home from Mrs. Thompson's quilting party. "Gusty wind tonight isn't there?" Rosanna commented as she stepped into the house. Ana had noticed her mother's wavering steps but thought nothing of it at the moment. Stepping into the little kitchen, Rosanna suddenly fell to her knees and finally lay on her side. Ana threw her bonnet and shawl down and rushed to her mother's side. "Mama!" she cried out.
Reverend Williams and Ana got Rosanna into her bed. Then Ana pulled on her bonnet and shawl and made her way to Doctor Kenton's house. It was only a few minutes to the doctor's house. Ana lifted up her long skirts and quickened her pace as she made her way to the doctor's house. The snow crunched under her black pointed boots. It was a cold bleak night and it seemed to take forever to get to the doctor's house.
Hours later Ana stood beside Doctor Kenton in the bedroom of her mother. Rosanna was lying on the bed and her eyes were opened. Her skin had suddenly turned chillingly pale. "Doctor what's wrong?" Isaac Williams asked. Doctor Kenton who was a kind elderly gentleman with thin white hair, found his job very hard. Being a doctor was not an easy task but the worst part of the job was telling the family members of their loved one's death. Although in that case both Reverend Williams and Ana knew that Rosanna was dead.
Ana could tell by just looking at her mother's cold pale face that Rosanna had gone on to be with the Lord. As soon as the words left Doctor Kenton's mouth that Rosanna was dead, Ana covered her mouth with her hand to restrain a sob. Fleeing the room with her skirts brushing, Ana ran out of the house. Without a shawl or bonnet and with her blonde tendrils blowing in the cold wind, Ana ran. She ran to a cluster of woods just next to the town.
The tree branches tore at her dress and many caught in her hair. With tears in her eyes Ana ignored the pain and pulled through the branches. White sparkling snow covered the ground and a full moon lit up the night sky. Despite the peacefulness of the winter night Ana was troubled and hurting inside. Her mother was gone and it was hard to believe such a thing had occurred. Rosanna had always been there to guide and help Ana. Without her existence Ana suddenly felt so very alone.
Although she was a young woman of nineteen, Ana sometimes appeared to many people as a 'child minded' young woman. All of her life Ana had been sheltered from the reality of life. Perhaps it was because her father was afraid to let his little girl go, or perhaps it was because Ana was afraid of life itself, whatever the reason it had made Ana very naive and sometimes foolish.
Unlike all of the other young woman, Ana had never been courted nor betrothed to anyone. It wasn't because she wasn't attractive for she was a very beautiful young woman with a fair complexion and long golden hair which she kept braided or piled up on top of her head. Many young men had once wanted to court her but she refused every one of them. She had been afraid to leave the safety of her parents' home and perhaps except her womanhood.
Now as she ran, Ana had never felt so alone in her life. With the passing of her mother she felt as if a part of her passed away with Rosanna. Suddenly Ana's pointed black boot caught on a tree trunk and she fell to the ground. Her hands, cold and stiff, went into the snow and the sharp ice crystals cut her right hand. Golden and a strewn in the moonlight, Ana's hair was. Gasping for breath and sobbing Ana lay her head down onto the cold snowy ground. It was there lying on the cold ground that Ana felt like a child needing her mother's comforting arms to embrace her. Fear gripped her heart tightly and she found it hard to breathe when she thought of her mother being gone.
"Mama how could you leave me and Papa!" she cried out into the still cold night air. Although deep inside she thought that perhaps her mother would come back, Rosanna never did.
The months passed by slowly for Ana and Reverend Isaac. Both spent most of their time in silence when together. It was not because they were cross at one another, on the contrary, Ana and Reverend Isaac were very close and had a good friendship. But both found it hard to express their feelings about Rosanna's passing.
Ana spent most of her days in her room of lavender colored wallpaper and satin sheets. The satin sheets had descended down the William's family and they now belonged to Ana. Her room was quite comfortable but somewhat plain. Ana had taken after her mother in many ways but the one main thing was her love for flowers. That is she never grew them nor worked in them, that was the job for the yard worker, but she loved to study and smell them. She found flowers to be comforting and peaceful in some strange way. Roses were her most cherished and favorite flower, as they were her mother's. Anyone who stepped into Ana's bedroom could tell she loved flowers for that was what her room was made up of.
A Sweet smelling bouquet of white roses were stuck down in a simple white vase that sat on Ana's cedar hope chest. Their delicate scent filled the room and surrounded everything within sight. It was the fragrance of the roses that reminded Ana of her mother. Rosanna had always smelled of roses and saccharine peppermint.
During the summer Ana would open the windows in her room to let in the warm breeze and the fragrance of the flower garden out in the back yard. The flower garden had been her mother's and Ana went out to look upon the flowers almost every day. Often times when she would go outside to the flower garden, Jacob, the yard worker that Reverend Williams had hired, would speak to Ana. Jacob was a very talkative young man and very kind. Ana had never been known to talk very much. She felt embarrassed and uncomfortable when people talked to her. But she enjoyed the history of plant life that Jacob would tell her on her visits to the flower garden.
The most enjoyable thing Ana did was read. She loved to read books of all sorts of genders. Also she enjoyed doing some fine needle work. Her mother had taught her how to sew and although she wasn't very good at it, Ana enjoyed doing it. This was how she spent most of her time within the walls of the house.
Two months after the demise of Rosanna the women of the neighborhood began talking and gossiping about the naive Ana and her elderly father. Mrs. Edith Johansson was in all probability the worst of the women. "That Ana Williams is going to have to grow up if she's going to survive in this world," Edith Johansson commented while at a local quilting party.
Quilting parties took place a lot in the Kentucky neighborhood. All of the local women attended them. It was a time of finding out the latest gossip and news. Ana and her mother attended the quilting parties but when Rosanna passed away Ana stopped attending them.
On that summer day all of the neighborhood women sat in a circle at Martha Hemstra's house working on a large quilt. It was then and there that Edith Johansson spoke of Ana. "Oh Edith! You mustn't speak that way about Ana," Fifty-two-year-old Martha Hemstra said rather harshly. "Martha you're too kind. We all know how Ana is. That girl acts as if she doesn't have a brain in her head," Edith said. "instead if criticize the poor girl, we should all lend her a hand. We could cook her and her father some food or perhaps do something else," Martha said. Edith sighed and continued on with her sewing. It was very well known about Ana and her personality. Everyone in the community found her a bit peculiar. Peculiar was in all probability the best word to describe her.
It was on one of the last days of summer that Martha Hemstra paid a visit to the Williams' house. Ana was hard at trying to cook in the kitchen but without success. Leaning over the table, Ana stood kneading the bread dough. She pushed back a wisp of her blonde hair that had come loose from the tight braid that hung down her back. In doing so she got a splotch of flour on her forehead. "I'll never have lunch fixed by the time Papa gets home!" she mumbled to herself. Taking the palm of her hand Ana pressed down on the dough. The floured dough was soft and rather cold against the palm of her hand.
At that moment Ana heard a tap at the door. Taking the edge of the white apron that was tied around her waist, Ana wiped the flour off of her hands. Gripping the cold silver door knob, Ana swung open the door. She was surprised to see Martha Hemstra standing outside the door. In Martha's arms was two dishes of chicken salad and sour dough bread.
"It is good to see you Mrs. Hemstra," Ana said smiling. Martha returned a smile, "I've brought you and your father some chicken salad and some sour dough bread." "Oh thank you so much! But you really didn't have to do that," Ana said feeling rather embarrassed, but yet overjoyed that Martha had brought food.
"Won't you come in?" Ana asked. Martha stepped into the welcoming house and smiled. The house was small and charming. The entire house was filled with the fragrance of flowers and Martha breathed it in. "Come into the kitchen I'll fix us some tea," Ana said as she led the way into the kitchen.
The kitchen was small but it had a sense of loveliness. Rays of sunlight streamed through the window that looked out at the backyard where the flower garden was. "Oh dear let me clean this up," Ana said as she picked up the raw floured dough. "I don't have to stay if you were busy," Martha said taking notice of Ana's nervousness. "No, no that's fine. I was just trying to make some bread for Papa. To be perfectly honest you have saved me! I'm not all that good at cooking," Ana said with a hint of embarrassment in her voice. "It was to my understanding that your father hired a housekeeper," Martha said puzzled.
"Oh he did but she had to see her sick father today. But thank goodness she'll be back tomorrow," Ana said.
After she had cleaned the table of the assorted flour and dough, Ana motioned for Martha to sit down.
Ana went to the wooden cabinet where all of the food supplies were. Her eyes scanned through the packages and boxes trying to find the tea. She finally found the tea and she got out the blue tea pot and filled it with water. Placing the tea leaves in the tea pot as it sat on the stove, Ana grew nervous. She had never been a very good tea maker nor a good cook. She was rather surprised that Martha Hemstra had stopped by. None of the women of the neighborhood had never done such a thing before.
With the tea pot brewing on the stove, Ana and Martha sat at the kitchen table. Ana did not really know what to say. But soon Martha broke the silence. "I hope you and your father have been getting along well. It was terrible loss when Rosanna passed away," Martha said. "Yes, we both miss her very much. But we're trying to make do," Ana said clasping her hands together in her lap.
"I understand what pain you are going through my dear for I lost my mother when I was very young and," Martha seemed hesitant to say what she wanted to say, "I just want you to know that I will be here for you whenever you are in need of a friend."
Martha's words touched Ana very deeply and for a moment she thought she was going to cry. The tea pot began whistling and Ana jumped up and took it off the stove burner. The two women sat in the silence of the beautiful summer evening sipping on tea.
That night Ana sat with her father at the oak table in the kitchen eating the chicken salad and the sour dough bread Martha had brought. The bread was delicious and so soft that it melted in Ana's mouth. "Mrs. Hemstra and I had a lovely day today," Ana said smiling. "That's wonderful," Isaac said smiling at his daughter. It pleased Isaac very much to hear that Martha had stopped by. He worried about Ana often and he blamed himself for the way she was. He hoped that in time she would change and be more independent.
Now sitting in the Hemstra's yard in the summer of1860 Ana had not changed at all. She was still the shy and peculiar girl that she had always been. But on that day with her satin blue dress and golden hair piled up on top of her head underneath the beautiful white wide brimmed hat, Ana looked like a sophisticated and beautiful young woman. Martha Hemstra kept commenting on how beautiful she looked that day. Ana would only blush and never say a word.
From where she sat in the white whicker chair out in the backyard of the Hemstra's house, Ana watched her father and Mr. John Hemstra. They stood a ways off talking, but about what Ana didn't now. Martha sat across from Ana at the little whicker table.
"Would you like some more tea my dear?" Martha asked. "Oh no thank you," Ana said as she sipped the remaining last drop of ginger tea in her tea cup.
In the distance Ana heard an approaching wagon or buggy coming down the dirt road that went by the Hemstra's house. She placed her tea cup down on the table and stood. Crossing the yard with wisps of her golden hair and skirts blowing in the wind, Ana went to stand under the large willow tree in the yard. She placed her gloved hands against the bark and peered through the blowing willow branches at the road as the wagon (as it turned out to be) came passing by at a slow pace. She couldn't see the people who sat in the wagon but she did recognize a young man sitting on the back of the wagon. The people were unfamiliar to Ana and curious to see who exactly they were, she moved around the tree until she stood in the long willow branches. "That's much better," she muttered to herself.
The wagon suddenly picked up a more faster pace and was disappearing in the distance. Lifting her skirts just enough so they wouldn't drag the ground, Ana walked hastily to the edge of the little picket fence that surrounded the Hemstras' yard. Placing her gloved hand on the pointed top of the picket fence, Ana watched as the wagon passed by.
As she looked on the young man sitting on the back of the wagon with his feet dangling down, caught her stare. He was a rather rough looking young man who appeared to be in his twenties at least. A tan wide brimmed hat covered his jet black hair. He wore brown trousers and a blue short sleeved shirt. When his piercing blue eyes met Ana's, it caught her breath, which of course she found very odd.
Rather embarrassed Ana lowered her eyes but found it hard to not look up again into the young man's face. Raising her head slowly, Ana met the young man's gaze again.
She watched until the wagon disappeared out of sight. When the wagon could no longer be seen Ana turned and made her way back to the table. She sat down in the chair and straightened out her long skirts as best as she could.
"There you are! What made you go off in such a hurry?" Martha asked. "Oh I just wanted to. . .see who it was that was in that passing wagon," Ana said fanning herself with her hand. "It is dreadfully hot isn't it?" Martha commented. Ana didn't really hear her for her thoughts were on the young man in the wagon. Who was he? she wondered to herself. He seemed so mysterious and so. . .
"Ana will you be attending the quilting party this Friday? We would very much like it if you would come," Martha said smiling. Ana was brought back to reality and she jerked her head around. "I'm sorry," she apologized, "Perhaps I will attend."
Sunday morning soon arrived and all the neighborhood came to the little white church. Reverend Isaac Williams had been pasturing the little church for almost fifteen years. Standing on the pulpit, Isaac sighed.. How life has changed, he thought to himself. So many memories were in that church. A lot of good memories.
When everyone had arrived at the church were seated on the hard wooden benches, Reverend Isaac Williams stood before them and they had a word of prayer. Then pulling out the worn church hymnals, they all began to sing. Most of the songs were uplifting and soon everyone in the church were stomping their feet in tune with the music, or clapping their hands a little.
From where she sat on the second pew to the front, Ana glanced around the room hoping to catch sight of the young man she had seen yesterday. Her heart leaped for joy when she saw the young mysterious man sitting across from her. "Is it fate?" she wondered to herself. Such a foolish thing to think, she thought after a few moments.
The church service seemed to last a very long time. The heat was so suffocating that Isaac finally motioned for Ana to raise some of the windows. But even with the windows open it still did not help. Ana had brought with her a small fold open fan. She flipped it open and began waving it. A small breeze blew from the fan and onto Ana's flushed face. She took a deep breath and shifted in the hard wooden pew. She could feel beads of sweat forming on her forehead but she ignored them.
Soon the church service ended and everyone went outdoors to talk and gossip. Ana went to stand away from the crowd. Removing her 'Sunday' hat, as she called it, Ana breathed in the fresh air. As she stood there she could feel someone's eyes upon her. Shifting her eyes, Ana glanced around to see whose eyes were upon her.
She could see the young mysterious man through the corner of her eyes. He stood staring at her. A blush rushed into Ana's face and she turned back around until her back was to him.
A cool breeze blew down from the mountains and blew the hem of Ana's long, full, white dress. She gripped her little Bible with her gloved hands, suddenly feeling nervous. "Should I go and speak to him?" Ana thought to herself. "No, it wouldn't be the right thing to do. I will wait for him to come and speak to me," she finally decided.
But to her dismay the young man never spoke to her. When everyone was leaving the church yard she turned to see where the young man was. His eyes met hers as he walking out of the churchyard with an elderly man and woman. Ana clutched her Bible to her chest and for a moment couldn't breathe. There was something about his eyes that took her breath away. Never in all of her life had she felt such a feeling.
When all the people had gone Reverend Isaac Williams shut the doors of the church, after Ana had closed all the windows. Turning to face his daughter, Isaac smiled and offered his arm to her. She smiled and put her gloved hand in his forearm.
As the two walked along the street to their house Ana decided to ask her father about the young man. "Papa, did you get to meet that young man and the two elderly folk? They're new in town aren't they?" she asked.
"Yes they are my dear. They moved here from South Carolina, for what reason I do not know. Mr. and Mrs. Jameson, the elderly couple, are the grandparents of the young man," Isaac said.
"You didn't happen to catch the young man's name did you Papa?" Ana asked trying not to appear suspicious.
"No, I'm afraid I didn't catch his name. If I recall rightly, Mr. Jameson didn't even mention the boy's name. Why the sudden curiosity?," Isaac asked with a hint of a smile on his bearded face.
Ana blushed and turned her eyes forward. She thought herself very foolish about the whole situation with the young man. She would very much like to talk to him but tradition was that the young man must first speak to the young woman.
Noticing his daughter's peculiar mood, Isaac never said anything else about the young man.
The next day while her father was away visiting a sick member of the church, Ana got dressed. She went outside to where Jacob, the gardener, knelt pulling weeds out of the flower garden.
"Jacob could you do me a favor please?" Ana asked.
"Why sure Miss!" Jacob said smiling as he jumped up and dusted off the knees of his breeches.
"I want to go into town and I wanted to ask you if you could hitch up Romeo to the buggy for me," Ana said.
Jacob of course said he would. He went and got Romeo, the big and gently, black draft horse, out of the small paddock that was in the Williams' back yard. He hitched the horse to the small buggy.
When he had finished hitching up Romeo to the buggy, Jacob said, "If you want I can take you to town." "That's very kind of you Jacob but I'll be fine," Ana said smiling. Lifting the hem of her dress, Ana climbed up into the buggy. Taking the reins in her white gloved hands, she made a clucking noise with her tongue and Romeo stepped forward.
She was nervous and a little afraid for she had only driven the buggy once. For some odd reason though, that morning she had wanted to go to town. Her excuse, if she had been asked, would have been 'To go to the General Store' but the bona fide explanation was that she was hoping to see the young man in town.
When she drove into town many of the people walking along the streets stared at her. It shocked them to see Ana Williams driving a buggy into town. For, as everyone knew, Ana stayed secluded.
Stopping in front of the General Store, Ana pulled on the reins and climbed out of the buggy. With her head lowered no one could see Ana's face because of her large hat. She felt uncomfortable and clasped her gloved hands together tightly in front of her.
Stepping into the small General Store Ana raised her head up and looked around. She had been for certain that she would see the young man that day. But her heart sank when she saw that he wasn't in the General Store. Walking over to the paper section of the store, Ana scanned her eyes down the rack of books and writing utensils. She spotted a brown covered book. She picked it up and opened it. The book was a filled with blank pages, obviously a journal and/or diary. Ana kept it and took it to the counter where the store keeper, Mr. Hensley, stood. She lay the book on the counter and pulled out some money from her small pouch purse.
"What brings you out on this day Miss Ana?" Mr. Hensley asked smiling.
"No particular reason," Ana said.
Taking her book, Ana stepped outside the General Store. Trying not to be noticed, Ana looked down the street hoping to catch a glimpse of the young man. But she didn't see him. Determined, Ana lifted the hem of her skirt with one hand and with her other hand she gripped the new book tightly.
Perhaps if she had been paying more attention to where she was going, Ana might not have run into Mrs. Edith Johansson. With a pile of hat boxes in her arms, Edith Johansson couldn't see very well for the boxes were blocking her view. The two women collided and Mrs. Johansson's hat boxes all fell out onto the dusty street. Ana's new book fell from her hand and into a nearby mud puddle left from the recent rain they had had.
"Oh my goodness! Watch where you are going girl!" Mrs. Johansson cried out.
People passing around the two women watched with curious eyes. Tears formed in Ana's eyes as she knelt down to pick up Mrs. Johansson's hat boxes.
"I am terribly sorry," Ana said
"Oh never mind! Please get out of the way and let me get those boxes. You'll only do more damage. It would be better off for me and you if you'd stay home and never come to town," Mrs. Johansson said sharply as she knelt down to pick up her precious hat boxes.
Ana reached down and picked up her dripping wet book. Not bothering to lift the hems of her skirts, Ana hastily made her way to Romeo and the buggy. Throwing the book in the seat, Ana climbed up into the buggy. Slapping the reins, Ana clucked for Romeo to go.
When she arrived home Ana left Jacob to unhitch Romeo. Turning and running inside the safety of the walls of the house, Ana cried. She felt like a little girl for crying so. But Mrs. Johansson's words had hurt her very much. "I shouldn't have been such a fool and went to town. I didn't even see him," Ana said to herself as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
Ana picked up her new book and tried to wipe as much of the mud off the cover. Soon the book was in better shape, except for a few pages where the water had gotten onto them and turned them into a strange color.
After she had eaten supper with her father Ana decided to go to her room to retire. She hadn't spoken very much at supper but Isaac didn't seem to notice her discomfort.
In her bedroom Ana sat on the window seat and looked up at the moon. Darkness had already crept over the countryside and all was quiet. A shining full moon hung out in the night sky.
Her thoughts were on the events of the day. But then they turned to the young man. She longed to know his name and to hear his voice. But she had no way of knowing who he was or what his voice sounded like.
She turned her gaze upon the new book she had bought that day. It lay within the moon's rays on her small cedar desk. Standing up and sitting down at the desk, Ana opened the book. She stared at the blank page, which was water stained. She pulled out her pen and this is what she wrote.
I no not who you are nor do I know why you are here in this town that has been my home for years. When I first saw you on that hot summer day you were in a wagon. Our eyes met and I have never forgotten that moment.
On Sunday after the church service I stood outside and I saw you staring at me. Your ice blue eyes seemed so. . .so mysterious and I longed to come to you. But fear and tradition held me back. I waited for you to speak to me but you never did.
Today I went into town hoping to see your face just one more time. But, with much dismay, I never saw you. I was deeply saddened.
Do you feel what I am feeling for you? Perhaps not because it is so absurd that I, myself cannot explain it nor can I understand it. I find my mind filled with your face and movements. I do not know what word would describe what I am feeling.
I live with the fear that I may never know you. If I never know you then my life will be meaningless. Every night I pray that God will bring you and I together somehow, if it is His will. Papa says that if you believe in something long enough then it will come to pass. I shall keep on believing that you and I will one day be. Sincerely,
Ana read over the letter and smiled. Writing the letter had made Ana feel better. Finally she closed the book and blew out the nearby lamp.
To Be Continued. . .