There was much they said about the new world. I had heard one of my friends back in England call it the "land which dark men flew about at all hours of the night, waiting to strike you", but I knew that she was wrong.
Papa gracefully cleaned his gun while I stood with baby Jenny in my arms. Papa put great trust in me, allowing me to hold my sister. I was no more then twelve, and a slight girl, ready to be thrown into the sea by some gale at any moment. That had been what Ruth had said. I thought that my sister was silly to say such, though no matter, I could not help but wonder if she spoke the truth.
Was that it? That slender piece of land that shown over the horizon just now? That couldn't be it. Within my sight it was no larger then an island. Mayhap that Beth was right when she said such about the dark men that flew, for I could just make out a boat coming out to greet us. Within the boat, there wasn't more then four men, but one of them was a dark man.
This dark man though, was like the ones that I had seen before in England. He was a slave. The owner of him, I supposed would be staying on the main land. This slave was most likely owned my Mr. Christopher Wood, the man that hired my father to come to the new world, to lead an already failing colony. They would not give us the name of the colony, but I was sure that it had some wild Indian name. That was something else that I had heard tell of, the Indians.
Papa said that it was the Indians that Beth had been talking about, but I figured that it couldn't be. When I had been very little, before Papa had moved us to Scotland, he had had an Indian slave. Figaro. A man of peace and tranquility, who had adopted the Catholic faith, in service to my papa.
"Hold on to Jenny, Providence," Papa told me as he made his way toward the side of the ship. I knew that it was no use for him to have his gun out, but I figured that it made him look grand. All the powder had been damaged by a swell, though with the thick fog that had carried us on our journey that I suspected that it would not make any difference since it would have already been void before that. "Who goes there?" Papa asked the men in the dingy.
"We come from the mainland to receive the ship and it's goods sir. Pray sir what is your name?" the man, not above thirty asked Papa. He was from England I could tell, though most likely had lived much of his life here.
"Matthew Garnett," Papa replied. Still shouting down into the dingy. I went toward the side to join Papa. "I must quickly go to the mainland to meet with Christopher Wood." The black man stood.
"I am Christopher Wood, Matthew," he said with a distinction all his own. Papa became much more chipper, masking his shock to see that this was the man that had requested him to lead the colony. Although I knew that Papa knew nothing of Mr. Wood's origins, this was not how he had pictured him. Mr. Wood, I had guessed, would have been a man not above fifty, with cold blue eyes, graying about the sides. But instead, this man was no more then thirty-five, with dark black hair, curly and cropped short. This was a man who had seen the world.
Although I was, at first, a bit taken back at Mr. Wood, I soon grew to be found of him, or at least feigned being fond, in order to save my papa's wealth that he had invested in the man. I wondered for a bit what my sister Ruth would say about the man we were to call "sir". 'Disgraceful' I supposed, Ruth was never one to criticize the given rule.
Papa lowered baby Jenny and I into the boat first, then he jumped in, as a learned sail man would do. Papa had been in the navy when he was young, but was discharged when they learned that he had fathered a child. It had not been him but instead another man they thought was him. But by that time, Papa didn't mind leaving, and it was a welcomed relief to be given the chance out. Papa told us that he was in love with our mother, and married her within two days of leaving the navy. He told us that her parents didn't like it, so Mama and Papa just left without telling anyone. She had to leave her family just because of that. But she didn't mind, she was happily accepted as part of Papa's family. Papa's mother, then became her own mother, his father, her father.
I wonder what grandmother and grandfather would say about Mr. Wood. I'm sure that they would have the same reactions as Ruth, since Ruth spent much of her childhood in their care, while Papa and Mama traveled the world with Kevin and I. Jenny had only been born once Papa and Mama had returned from France. France had been where I had been born. That was why I had my true name of Féminin. When I returned to England with Mama and Papa, they had changed my name, since the French were still largely hated. It was my grandmother really who changed my name more then any thing. She believed the English "Providence" was much prettier then the French "Féminin". At times I believed so as well, but never acted upon it.
I wondered what Michelle would think over Mr. Wood. Michelle had been a friend of mind in Lyons, when I was little. He'd left Lyons though, when I was six or so, and I never saw him again. I was sure that it was for the best, though. Michelle had been ten years older then me, and I followed him around, his every move his every step. How dearlr I wanted to be like him, all because I was a little girl and he braided my hair for me. I was sure that Michelle would know better then to disapprove of him, as so many I supposed did. Michelle knew those kinds of things, when to like things, when to dislike. Surely Mr. Wood's situation with my family could not be disapproved by any member.
Jenny would grow up in this land, I now realized. She was now all but a baby lamb, but this was the place she'd call home, just as I had called France my home until just four years ago. Mayhap even one day, I would call this land home. But could I ever truly call myself a girl from the New World?
What name would be given to them? New Worlder's? The people of the strange and wild country. Or mayhap would they give the people from the New world, the name that they gave it's original inhabitants? Would I become an Indian, just like Figaro? I would like that I suppose, Féminin Providence Garnett the Indian. 'Oh yes,' I could imagine one saying of me. She was a young girl, only twelve when she left England with her father and baby sister, a slave to a black man for ten years, then falling under the spell of love to find herself with some man, the dashing, handsome leader of the lands… Yes that was what they would say.
I thought over the words as the three boat men took us back to shore. I was about to set foot in a new land. I Providence Garnett, I would be the first of my family. Of course Jenny would be the last, since she could not yet walk. My brother would stay behind in the ship until he felt well enough to disembark. He had become sick half way though the journey. He said that he was better now, though they didn't wish to take any chances with his health.
What would be my fate? This land would own me, I imagined, something about this land, would be the end of me. Somewhere around the bend, an adventure was waiting for me, some where behind a tree, I would find the journey that would lead me to find my place. I would find my way here, and it would come much easier then it ever did in England or France.
I had had many adventures in France, none so much in England. But I suppose part of that was just being that age, at which everything was an adventure. I thought coming to this world, that it was not so much the adventure but the struggle getting there. No. The adventure would meet me there, if I was to find it.
At the age of six, I gathered, everything is an adventure. I believed that me and Michelle running off trying to hide from Papa or Mama, running about the towns, or make-believing that I was in one of Vieux Maurice's stories. That was where I was.
Michelle had been nice enough that before he went he gave me a book, of all of Vieux Maurice's stories. They were full of adventures and odysseys. No one here would be able to read them, only I, since it was not only in French, but in code as well. The ink was well worn now, though was still readable.
I still imagined me and Michelle in the stories. Running about, deserted on small islands, or left to burry the dead after a long battle, Vieux Maurice had been at many battles. His father had fought, and so had he. Michelle at one time said that he would join the army, so he might be like Vieux Maurice. I thought that it be foolishness that you might follow your hero, but Michelle was one to do that.
Maybe that had been where he had gone. When Michelle left, he had joined the army, of course! This is what Michelle had dreamed about; what he had wanted since he was but a child. Vieux Maurice had shown Michelle the way, and I was sure now that Michelle had followed.
I wondered now for a bit, as the shore was still far off, at what adventures that Michelle had had, since he had left us. I was sure that he was defeating some madman, saving France and giving his own life to someone else. This had always been what happened in Vieux Maurice's stories. The hero would never get credit for what he had accomplished. I thought this to be very noble.
I knew that Papa and Mr. Wood were talking now about the settlement, but I cared not of that. I wished for him to be here with me. The book was still on board, but I would have swam back just then to retrieve it, had it not been for my modesty, cowardice and Jenny clinging to my arms.
Mama was watching over me. I knew it. I could always tell when Mama was looking down on us. This was a time of triumph for us, and it was something that she wanted us to know that she was there. And I did. Baby Jenny did as well, since she finally stirred a bit in my arms, though quickly and quietly fell back asleep. Yes, this was Jenny's new county. And I knew that my sister would someday be very proud to call her self an Indian.