10) Indians In The Night
The nights in Virginia were usually calm, with a tad bit of mystery that lurked in the darkness. I would normally pay no attention to it and just sleep safe in me bed. But I couldn’t sleep tonight, after the talk of witches. That and I needed to go relieve meself, so I put on me shawl and shoes then left me home. I swear I am seeing things, lurking in the shadows.
“Clara?” I let out a gasp and nearly jumped out me skin at the sound of Verity’s voice.
“Christ almighty!” I sighed with me hand on me chest.
“Y’alright?” She asked chuckling slightly while she held up a small lantern.
“Aye, when I catch me breath. What you doin’ out ’ere?” I asked resting me hands on me hips.
“My drunk o’ a husband,” she sighed. “He’s probably passed out in the long grass,” she added looking out into the dark wilderness outside the town. “Meredith?!” She shouted impatiently. “Meredith!” She started walking further away from the gate and me. I swiftly went to relieve meself. “Where are ya?!” She shouted just as I stood up once more and began slowly striding through the long bits of grass back to the gate. A sudden scream made me stop dead in me tracks just before the gates, and it made Verity look back towards the town where it came from. “What was that?!” Verity exclaimed, me wondering the same as I looked back at her.
“A bloody loud scream,” I replied as the same person screamed again even louder, making me back up before I looked at me friend again. “We need to get back t’safety and get help!” I told her picking up the skirt of me nightdress about to run to the Marshall’s home for help.
“CLARA LOOK OUT!” In the same moment, Verity screamed, I turned the corner of the wall about to run back to the town and something, or rather someone, collied with me. I gasped, feeling the air be knocked out of me when I landed on me back in a heap, with the person who knocked into me landing on top of me. I felt the person’s limbs tangled up with mine, their cheek brushing against mine and their breath on my skin making it go goosy. I saw out of the corner of me eyes a musket near the hand of the person on top of me, but when I looked up the strong red-painted arm to the shoulder then the face, I felt pure shock and horror when I realized I had been quite literally knocked off me feet by an Indian. He looked as surprised as me, but he would not stop staring at me face with his mouth wide open. “MEREDITH! MEREDITH HELP!” Verity shouted. I felt like screaming for the Lord to help me and I probably resembled a timid wee mouse that just fell into a wolf’s den. As other Indians dashed out the gates, he pushed himself up so his hands were on either side of me hips. I couldn’t speak or move, all I could do was stare back at the Indian completely stunned. Despite the darkness, and him having jet black and blood-red paint on his face, I could see his watchful brown eyes. He tilted his head slightly at me, his eyes going down looking at more than he should’ve making me begin to breathe heavily. The position we were in, was one more for lovers and not strangers. As the Indian slowly brushed the back of his fingers against my cheek, someone tackled him off me violently and pinned him down. It wasn’t Meredith Rutter, it was James Read.
“Stay down, STAY DOWN!” He growled stopping the Indian from struggling. Two other men from the town ran out to help him after Meredith failed to help himself.
“Clara, are ya hurt?!” Verity gushed coming to me side. I still could not talk. I could just watch the three men drag the Indian up to his feet. Meredith stumbled forward still mumbling about the Indians being cowards before he punched the captive right in the gut.
“Hey! He’s surrendered!” James Read snapped shoving Meredith back before he picked up the musket that lay on the ground as meself and Verity stood up, me trembling with her arm wrapped around me as I couldn’t even stand on me own for shock. They bound the Indian’s hands and Meredith took the musket, then they dragged him through the town for everyone to see. They cheered for James and Meredith who was gloating about what had happened making the folks of the town boo and shout at the Indian all the way to the garrison. Some stared at me when I walked sheepishly into the town, but they looked at me in shock and some of the women in disgust. I frowned before Verity tapped me on the shoulder.
“You’ve got paint on your face, Clara, from...” She trailed off when I looked at the Indian once more. Oh, Christ, they’ll be thinking all kinds of horrid things, and none of it’ll be the truth.
“Jesus,” I huffed then started striding back to me home, Verity calling me name as she followed me. When I got into my home, I got a cloth to clean me face, scrubbing it to get the paint off. Verity came in closing the door behind her then she slowly walked over to me.
“Clara, calm down, take ya time, love,” She cooed gently putting both hands on me shoulders. I stuttered, unable to speak words and only look from her to the cloth stained with black paint. Tears welled up in me eyes, that I couldn’t help as what just had happened to me. I let her pull me into a hug as I let the tears fall down my face. I did not sob, I just let them fall as Verity rubbed me back. Eventually, I told her I’d try to sleep, but morning came quickly and the town rose early eager to talk about the Indian and him trying to steal from the town. I discovered while changing that me nightgown was stained with red and black paint also. No wonder some of the town’s women looked at me liked they did. The paint was on chest part, legs and...stomach part of me nightgown. Christ almighty me mother would say I look like a whore. That needed to come out as soon as, so after eating a wee bit I went out to fetch some more water to use to clean me nightgown. Unlucky for me some of the women were nearby talking away, and when they saw me the glared and started talking about me. I couldn’t stand there and listen to their words so I rushed back to me home slamming the door while they sniggered at me. I dumped the bucket down near the table, tears forming once more in me eyes as I sat down in the chair heavily holding me head in me hands. There was a knock at the door making me sob and look at the door.
“Clara?” I heard the soft concerned voice of Jocelyn followed by Verity opening the door.
“How are you, Mistress Jones?” Mercy asked as came in after Jocelyn.
“Not well,” I replied, tears trickling out of me eyes. Verity embraced me into a warm hug. “Have y’ heard what they’ve been sayin’ out there?!” I cried pulling away from Verity to point towards the outside.
“Vicious rumours, the Indian forced himself on you, you were meeting him as you were lovers, you are possessed, but seeing how distressed you were and from what Verity said none of it is even slightly true,” Jocelyn dismissed firmly but with a look of sympathy on her face while holding her hands in front of her elegantly. Verity scoffed outraged shaking her head.
“What happened d’that strong determined Yorkshire lass we met on that boat?” She asked resting her hands on her hips. “Huh?!”
“Verity’s right Clara you can’t let this defeat you,” Jocelyn added. “The Indian didn’t hurt you, and even if he wanted to he cannot, he’s in the garrison,” They all had a point, but before I could gather meself or respond there was another frantic knock on the door.
“Clara!” The voice of Lady Yeardley made Verity open the door to let her in. “I just heard the news from my husband,” She rushed past Jocelyn and Mercy to me side. “You poor child, are you hurt?!” She asked grasping hold of me hands, much like a worried mother would when their child hurt themself.
“No ma’am, just...shocked,” I sighed.
“There are many rumours Clara, but I know that this is a sign from the Lord,” She began rubbing her thumbs across me hands. “You must marry Clara. That Indian may already be thinking of doing unspeakable things to you, and if he learns you are a woman yet to marry it may give him the courage to take you by force,” She stressed making me eyes go wide.
“H-Has that happened ma’am?” I stuttered.
“I have heard stories from other settlements, and Clara these are people that do not have God in their lives and are capable of doing horrifying things to women,” She warned
“But the Indian will not be able to harm Clara while he is in the garrison, yes Lady Yeardley?” Jocelyn questioned stepping in, clearly seeing the panic on me face.
“Yes, my husband, the Marshall and his men will not let the Indian escape,” she nodded to her then turned to me once more. “But you marrying a man soon is what you should focus on dear Clara, and when you are ready my husband would like to speak to you. He is at the garrison,” She added making me frown. “He just wishes to speak to you about what happened,” She reassured and I nodded then thanked her and she left. When she did I let out a heavy sigh then collapsed once more in the chair.
“I’ll can’t keep the Governor waitin’ can I?” I sighed rubbing me face with me hands.
“Don’t be afraid lass,” Verity said encouragingly, Jocelyn nodding in agreement. They all left and I did also walking slowly towards the garrison. The door was shut, but I heard the voices of the Marshall shouting at the Indian. Swallowing me nerves I knocked on the door.
“Mistress Jones,” Recorder Castel answered the door and I bowed me head respectfully to the company man.
“The Governor wished to speak t’ me?” I stated then saw the Governor appear behind him.
“Clara, you are here,” The Governor stated, a little surprised.
“Do y’ want me t...” I stuttered pointing to gesture to the inside of the garrison.
“We can discuss what you witnessed outside,” He replied then called to Marshall before stepping outside with him and Recorder Castel.
“Please tell us what you saw Clara,” He asked as the door closed behind them.
“I went out in the night t’ relieve meself just outside the gate. Verity was out there lookin’ for ‘er husband, and after I was done we were stopped just before the gate by a scream comin’ from the town,” I began to explain recalling the events clearly.
“Which was Mercy, she saw the Indians run past my home,” said Recorder Castel. I’m glad I wasn’t the only lass that had a scare that night. “Continue Clara,”
“I looked at Verity wonderin’ what it was, then we heard the second scream and I said to Verity we needed to get back and possibly find you Marshall Redwick,” I went on looking at the Marshall who nodded approvingly.
“You were right to do that Clara, did the Indian harm you? Witnesses say he had you on the ground,” He spoke gruffly with some bitter venom in his voice.
“No sir, I rushed out about to run into the town at the same time he ran out o’ the town. He did not touch me at first, he just stared. I believe he was just as surprised as me,” I told them remembering the look on the Indian’s face, and the way that he stared at me.
“Did you see him holding a musket?” The Governor asked.
“Yes sir,” I nodded then the three men exchanged a look.
“A definite witness gentlemen, now we needed to find out how the Indians got the weapon and what they wanted to do with it,” The Governor stated before turning to smile gratefully at me. “Thank you, Clara, I know that what you went through was eventful, to say the least, but you have been most helpful and brave,” He phrased then went back into the garrison.
“If you know what’s good for you Mistress Jones, stay far away from the garrison. That beast may be provoked by your, dainty presence,” the Marshall warned and I nodded.
“Yes sir, Lady Yeardley warned me about Indians possibly kidnappin’ English women. I might just go live in the back room of the Tavern until he is gone,” I promised making the Marshall snigger.
“I am sure you will not have to take measures that drastic, the Marshall’s men would give life and limb to protect all the women from such a thing,” Recorder Castel reassured and I nodded saying I was most thankful for that. They then excused themselves and went back into the garrison and I turned to walk back to me home, no longer feeling as afraid as I once did. I would still stay far away from the garrison.