Clinking and Clanking was her way of spelling out D-I-N-N-E-R, and Charles loved her for it.
"Supper is ready!" Emma called out to the children. They were covered in snow, head to toe, with red noses and askew bonnets. All of Charles's little girls made sure to ruffle their dresses and erase the presence of any white goodness left in their hair. Giggles and squeaks filled the small living room's atmosphere, as well as the smell of Pork Roast drowned in white gravy, stuffing, corn, squash, carrots and beans; brewed potatoes and the smell of delicious pumpkin crisp escaped the kitchen with such a complex joy, that Charles felt as if his nose was being kissed by the delectable goodness.
"Momma, there's so much food!"Charles's younger daughter, Alma, looked to be in heaven as she nudged a darker skinned girl next to her. Maya.
Annabell nodded her consent as she followed her oldest sister's example and crossed her arms for a prayer. Anna smiled and looked towards Charles and Emma for a beginning prayer.
Emma smiled and untied the apron from her waist. She sat at the far end of the table, smiling fondly at Charles. "It is tradition. Charles, you get to lead the Thanksgiving prayer."
"A mighty thankful prayer at that." Charles took in one long sniff and leaned forward, holding his two hands into a fist. "Oh Lord, upon this day is the merry mood of thanks. A good harvest has been brought up these new lands, and we pray thanks. God bless our family back home, that the journey here in the spring will be safe and satisfying. The waters proved horrendous at first, but we thank you for the save arrival, and the birth of your new daughter this winter. And once again, the thanks towards our beautiful guest, Maya, for her family has been kind to let her stay with us…"
"Daddy! Is Abigail going to eat too?" Alma asked immediately after opening her eyes.
Emma smiled, "Abigail is a little baby. She drinks milk."
Charles nodded, "Dig in everyone!"
Pandemonium hit as the four girls began reaching for the same food or drop butter and honey. Rolls hit the floor in haste, making an excellent meal for the family pet, Judd.
"Girls, girls, settle down," Charles called over them. "Now, mommy and I will dish you out."
Complaints circled the table, but everyone was happy; not hearing the howling wind or seeing the blizzard outside, for once.
1708, One Year Before
"Have you heard the news, Charles? I think those injun's gone running back where they belong." A bit of laughter. Silence.
"Charles?" The gruff man looked at Charles worriedly, but he merely shook his head and wrapped his scarf tightly around his neck.
"Emma has supper a brewin'. The kids will be wondering where I am. I should hit the road before this storm picks up any faster."
"Well alright, Charles, see you on the ships tomorrow." Frank waved a hand as Charles set out. He knew the snow was gathering and it would be hard to get past the bridge, but he had left early, so he figured he'd miss the worst of it.
"Howdy Charles!" Several other greetings came around and went as the young man trudged. He was thankful his house wasn't too far. He heard about men who relocated their families deeper into the wilderness because settlements were filling to the brim. They had to hike so far out there, that by the time they got there, hunters would be on their land, bugging the family about taxes.
Charles's cold fingers wrapped around the metal knob and twisted. Inside warmth greeted him along with a whirlwind of beautiful young girls in dirty dresses.
"Let's see here." He crouched to look into their excited faces. He had three little girls, and at here month old fetus in his wife's womb. His oldest was only seven, and her name was Anna. She had her mother's beautiful red hair, and her father's bright blue eyes. Annabell was next, only five years old and still learning her words. Alma was two with dark brown hair like Annabell and blue eyes. They all inherited the blue eyes.
Studying their faces, he said, "This time it was Annabell who helped mommy."
"Wrong!" Anna beamed and pointed at the beautiful fresh loaves of bread sitting on the counter. "We all did." She said matter-of-factly.
"Well I'll be darned." Charles stood and embraced his wife with a hug and tender kiss.
"Hello dear, have you brought home any mail?" Emma asked hopefully, but he shook his head. Anytime now a letter should be coming back from England about their families they had left behind.
"I'll come," He assured her, "Now I think it's time for bed."
Groans floated around the room as the girls began to pick up anything that was left out. Charles helped them clean up, and then tucked all three into bed. Each little princess got a kiss from both mommy and daddy, and then let loose to explore their dreams.
"What did Mr. Smith tell you?" Emma sat down in a chair, and handing Charles a hot cup of goat milk. He studied the glass before answering.
"We aren't completely insured for the trip. The officials are still withdrawing money because the navy needs the taxes."
"Won't they think of us?" Emma asked sadly. "Here we are in a new world full of disease and unknown plants. We need money to pay for food, clothing."
"Emma darling, I know." He took her hands in his. "No one said the American Dream was going to be easy."
She only nodded.
"What has happened with the Indians?" She finally asked.
Charles shook his head, "Frank told me the parliament is finding new ways to drive them back. Mostly I've heard the Indians are hostile and we need to be careful."
Sighing, Emma nodded. "Well come now, let the fire die down, and let us two get to bed."
The land was covered in a snowy wonderland when Charles and the girls set out to town. He brought Anna and Annabell with him, Alma being too young. Emma appreciated Alma staying, however, so everyone won except Alma. She wanted to come with daddy and her sisters, but Charles didn't have enough room in the wagon anyway.
"Daddy? What are we going to buy in town?" Anna asked him as he hooked their horses in place.
"Are you all bundled up? Because we're going to buy tea and sugar." Charles jumped up and grabbed the reins.
"Sugar!" Annabell exclaimed excitedly.
"Yes ma'am, we're stocking up for Christmas." Charles led the horses into a leisurely trot towards Boston.
All around them icicles and glittering snow made the two girls excited and jittery, several times Anna told Charles that they wanted to get out and play games, but every time Charles would tell them, "Not until we get to town."
"Ho Mr. Williams!" Frank called to Charles as the wagon rolled past the village's dock.
"Who was that, daddy?"
"That was my friend, Frank." Charles explained.
"He yelled!" Annabell accused.
"He's okay," Charles pulled the horses to a stop at the grocer's market. "Alrighty girls, watch closely now." He helped them both jump down and held each hand as he walked over to the flours and grains.
"A pound!" Charles called over to the grocer.
"Daddy! Look over yonder!" Anna was jumping up and down, pointing at a deer in the nearby woods.
"Yes I see," Although he wasn't. He took the sugar and asked for his usual package of tea. By the time Charles was done loading the wagon, Anna was climbing up by herself and Annabell was nowhere in sight.
A double take. A flood of panic. "Annabell!" He called out. "Anna, stay with the wagon." He plunged into the crowd in a desperate attempt to save her if need be.
Instead, Annabell was pointing at the woods with a set expression. Charles didn't understand what she was staring at.
"Oh sweetheart! You scared daddy!"
"Girl!" Annabell insisted, pointing into the woods again.
"What girl?" He crouched to see what she was seeing, just as leaves rustled and something took off into the forest.
Charles had to pick Annabell up and bring her back to the wagon.
"Oh good, it'd be nasty business if you lost the girl to the savages." Miss Crawford, a plump old woman, had stayed with Anna.
"I agree." A sinking feeling filled his heart as he set Annabel lint he wagon. "I thank you," He told Miss Crawford as he climbed up.
"Daddy, what did Annabell see?"
"A girl," Annabell told Anna.
"There are a lot of girls, silly." Anna said snidely, and looked away.
"Now, now girls, it was probably an animal." Charles reasoned as he fixed Annabell's scarf. "You can tell mommy when we get home."
"OTAY!" She grinned widely.
"But, until then, I don't want you getting lost when we're here. It's very crowded."
Both girls nodded to his satisfaction and he started the wagon back towards home, rearing the bridge to cross soon.
When they had driven across, Annabell exclaimed and jabbed a finger in front of them, startling Charles into yanking on the reins. The horses skidded to a jarring halt in front of a trembling brown lump.
"Oh no, stay here girls." Charles instructed. He scrambled off the wagon and pulled out his gun from the back of the wagon. Slowly he approached the animal and pointed his gun at it. He waited for it to move, but it didn't. Charles kicked a clump of snow at it to get a reaction.
He got one.
But instead of attacking or fleeing, it merely raised its head to reveal a tear streaked face. Charles was startled once again. An Indian?
"Daddy! It's a girl!" Annabell crowed. She jumped off the wagon and ran tot eh cowering Indian girl. Throwing her arms around the girl, Annabell began to cry. "Don't kill!"
"Oh baby, I wasn't going to shoot her," Charles lied. He knelt in the snow and reached out for her, "we need to go now."
"But daddy! She's hurt!"
He stuttered over his own words, "I'll be okay, we need to go."
Annabell watched the Indian girl, and slowly let her go, much to Charles's relief. "Okay, now get into the wagon."
"Are we going to bring her home?" Anna's brow furrowed.
"No…the girl can find her family." Charles stepped away from the Indian, dragging Annabell with him.
Personally, Charles didn't know what to do with the redskin. Leave it/ Sounds like the only thing to do.
His two girls were silent in the wagon, all three of them staring at the Indian. She had creamy chocolate skin and big brown eyes. Something Charles didn't expect. Worse, they were full of misery. Her bloody hands stained the white snow as the tiny thing crawled quickly into the forest.
"You see? She's going home…" But for once, Charles wasn't sure.
"An Indian?" Emma asked quietly as she set the table with beans and broccoli and chicken.
"Yes, I d know what to do." He explained in hushed tones.
"I doubt we'll ever see her again." Emma said shortly.
Charles merely nodded.
But over the course of two weeks, the Indian girl had been seen in his dreams. The taunting face never left the back of his mind. For some reason he felt that what he did was very wrong. Over and over he apologized to God.
One night, while on his lap, Annabell asked Charles a question about the Indian girl. "Would big Daddy in the sky let the girl come home?"
"What do you mean, baby?"
"Home. Here. I sawed the girl today."
"You did?" Charles asked, eyes growing wide. Was she still here?
"Yes. She looked sad. I want her to come home."
"Maybe someday." Charles said shortly.
Annabell wasn't satisfied, but she didn't say anything more. Charles blew out a breath and decided to get the girls ready for bed. Emma helped him and together the wild girls were put into their warm beds.
"Do you think momma and pa will get here safely?" Emma asked Charles worriedly. Two months more and Emma's parents would be docking straight from England.
"I know they will, darling. God is watching over them."
Emma smiled and nodded gratefully towards the ceiling.
Charles kissed her and went to get ready for bed. He set his gun under his bed and ruffled his hair sleepily. He took off his jackets, boots, and was halfway in taking off his pants when he heard a cry from Annabell in the other room.
Charles stumbled out of his trousers and made for his gun.
"Charles! Come quick!"
His hand reached under and wrapped around the barrel of the gun. He spun around, dragging the gun with him as he charged out of his room and to the girl's room.
There, the little Indian girl stood, shivering and watching Annabell with wide eyes through their small window.
"Charles, we need to bring her inside—PUT THAT GHASTLY THING DOWN CHARLES!" Emma glared at the gun.
Charles looked down at the gun with wide eyes, then up at the Indian girl. The gun dropped from his hands, and he ran to get his pants and boots from his room. Once outside, he circled the house and found the girl still staring inside. Blinking against the falling snow, Charles approached slowly. "Um…would you like to come inside?"
He girl merely stared at him with wide, fearful eyes.
He pointed inside.
She looked away and into the window again. He bit his lip and approached further. She cried out and tumbled backwards into the snow, scared for her life.
"No no no! I want to help. Can you speak English? I want to HELP."
Annabell, against Emma's demands, ran out in her tiny brown coat, "Come on girl!" She piped up, reaching for the girl's hand. The girl nodded and stood, following Annabell, but not Charles. Was he too scary?
Charles stood a little bit longer in the cold snow, before finally gathering his wits and ducking inside the warm house.
Alma sat, playing with a bead necklace the Indian girl had made for her. In fact, all the girls got some form of jewelry, and Emma was given a woven shawl. Charles had made a point to stay out of the house more often, because the girl was still scared of him, no matter how hard he tried.
The girl's name was Maya, yet she showed no interest in learning the girls' names. Nor did she feel like leaving anytime soon. It was hard for Charles to accept this girl, but Emma insisted. She wouldn't let the girl leave. Hours were beginning to turn into days, and days into weeks. After two weeks, however, Charles still wasn't accepted my Maya, just as she wasn't completely accepted by him.
After two weeks, the town felt like they weren't accepting either of them. Charles couldn't talk to anyone at the docks, and people began to question him when he bought more food than normal. People thought that Emma had had her baby already, but she wasn't quite there yet.
After two weeks, the girls were beginning to get squirrelly and wanted to show Maya to everyone, but Charles wouldn't allow it. He thought it was because he wanted to protect his family. It made sense to want to.
So he used that excuse when Annabell and Maya wanted to go to town with him. They weren't happy, but Charles knew they wouldn't be happy anyway. Town was getting crowded, and Indian sightings were getting more popular.
After a month of keeping Maya, Sheriff Richards came by to talk with Charles. It was early April by now, and spring was beginning to take place.
Charles was so worried about Maya, that when Richards gave him the note, Charles felt like he was being slapped into reality.
"I'm sorry." Richards bowed his head and took his hat off before going back to his horse.
Emma was devastated by the news of her parent's death. A night of mourning overwhelmed the household that night, and Maya didn't understand.
"Ho Charles! Wait up!" Frank was barreling through the crowds to catch up with Charles. He was in no mood to talk though, so he just listened.
"Indians have been getting angry," Frank whistled, "Sheriff says to be careful in that forest you live in."
"Thank you Frank."
"He's also planning on getting a few guys and forcing the redskins back by force. How do you feel about that?"
"I knew it. What happened?" He eyed him, "How many months is Emma now? Or is the baby still born now?"
"Six, almost seven." Charles ignored that last part.
"Wow, getting closer." Frank whistled again, "How many does that make, five?"
"Four…" Technically Frank was correct, but Maya was still a secret.
"I get it. You've got at on."
"Yes, I know. I need to go."
"Why you leaving so soon? We should go hunting tonight. Haven't hung out in a while, if you ask me."
"No thank you, Frank."
Charles hopped up and picked up the reins. He was lost in his thoughts about the Indian girl at his house. Was she so different? She had eyes, ears, a nose and brain. She's capable of learning their language. She wasn't so different. So why did people make a big deal about Indians?
He realized then, that he wasn't just protecting his family. He was protecting Maya too. Charles looked up at the approaching house and smiled. He had a question that needed answering.
Hopping down, and not bothering to tie up the horses yet, he ran inside to greet everyone. "Where's Maya?" he asked after five minutes of kisses and hugs.
Emma looked miserable, "She left."
"Wait…what?" Charles frowned, his excitement dropping like a roller coaster.
"She said she had to go back to her family." Anna sat down in a chair and pouted. "We were having fun too."
"Is Annabell okay?"
"Oh…" Charles went into their room and found Annabell curled up, sniffling and sobbing. "Oh baby." Charles said softly, sitting down next to her. "I'm sure Maya will come back."
"I miss her already." Annabell looked up sadly at Charles.
"Well you know—"
"Charles! Annabell!" They both looked up at their names.
In the other room, Maya was there, holding up a big basket of vegetables and fish. Clean and ready to be cooked. Emma was hugging Maya gently, and Maya commented in gibberish on the baby before setting it on the counter and hugging Annabell. "I brought food." She murmured.
"FOOD!" Alma giggled and spun around in excited twirls.
"Maya," Charles smiled at her, and she regarded him wearily. "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?"
She seemed confused on some words, but she nodded at the "sorry". He beamed and reached for the food when there was a sudden, harsh knock at the door.
Emma jumped up, looking at Charles with wide eyes. Charles looked at Maya and told her to go with Anna and Annabell into the bedroom while the door was opened. He turned towards the door and held a finger up to Emma. Slowly he opened it and looked curiously at the two men at the door. One was the sheriff, another man he didn't know.
"Charles, we've gotten word from a few resources that you are housing a redskin."
"No sir, that's not true." Charles shook his head, "Who told you that?"
"I'm not allowed to name them for their sakes." Richards's gruff voice was very angry now, "You know that housing Indians is un-holy and un-saintly."
Charles wet his lips, "No…I do not know that, but it wouldn't matter, because I am not."
"Charles." Richards was getting angrier. "Don't lie to me."
He did lie, and he lied very well, for the next several months until the baby was born. Little Abigail took immediate liking to Maya, and Maya liked Abigail. It wasn't until late September when Maya began to act a little weird. She was out a lot more, busy with supplying the family that took care of her. She also was with her real family every once in a while, which made her attitude much more humble. Charles had many run-ins with the sheriff and other men who had clear proof Charles was housing an Indian girl, but by then, people began to be more dormant and let it go. Charles had children, and he had to feed them. If he wanted to be unholy and feed an Indian, then let him. That was their attitude for a while.
But Charles was thankful, no matter what. And with that thankful air, came October, where their family had a small feast and prayed thanks to their God.