7) Events in Jamestown
The very next day, rumour rapidly spread through the town that the Marshall had become terribly sick. He was bound to his bed, and not only was Doctor Priestly called but so was the Reverend Whitaker. I expected Verity to be pleased and full of glee at his pain, but it was indeed strange. The Marshall was a strong man, even for his old age, so he suddenly falling ill was strange. It seemed there was more than sickness in Jamestown however because in broad daylight in front of everyone James Read and Silas Sharrow had a fight. I had a guess at what they fighting about, and the rest of the town could do that too. Alice had two fine men fighting over her. I would be jealous if she did not already pick one of them to give her heart to. I felt sorry for her though, and James Read too in a way as the lad was one of the few who was yet to take a wife. James even accused through gritted teeth that he killed his own brother Henry so he was free to marry Alice. Their fighting, however, was ended when they saw the Governor glaring down at them. It soon stopped them and calm settled once more in the town. Many chins wagged though which made me tut and shake me head while I walked through the town with another dress of Jocelyn’s Mercy had brought for me to repair folded up in my basket. The young lass could sew herself, but Jocelyn’s status meant others would soon.
“Mistress Jones?” A young lad asked timidly making me stop at the end of a row of houses about to turn the corner to the centre of the town.
“Aye son,” I replied smiling at him.
“My master Secretary Farlow has some garments in need of being repaired and he demands you are the one to fix ’em. He is willing to pay you five shillings,” I was surprised at the Secretary’s request knew I had could have a problem on me hands as Jocelyn would probably want me to repair some more clothing from her and her husband, and I would have to make a difficult choice on who I would sew for first. My friend or one of the most powerful men of the town. Perhaps he was plotting something. I would not refuse him, but I would be wary.
“I will, of course, bring the garments to my home this evening lad,” I smiled then he rushed off probably to return to his duties in the Secretary’s home. I met with Alice and Verity just outside the Tavern seeing a cheery smile on Verity’s face as we began to discuss the Marshall’s state.
“The Marshall fell sick in the night, and d’talk is he is wasting away so fast he won’t last d’day out!” She gushed making Alice shaking her head looking away for a moment at her showing joy at a powerful man who didn’t like her suffering. “I skipped all the way to the well!” She added breaking into giggles.
“Verity, you cannot speak like this!” Alice warning her.
“She’s right, look what happened when you slandered the Marshall,” I added wagging a finger at her while Alice glanced around worried that we’d be overheard.
“I hope he spits his guts up for the dogs to feed on,” She said ignoring me and Alice.
“Why has he fallen sick? He was well enough when he spoke by the stocks when Mistress Castel...” Alice wondered frowning at Jocelyn who was just passing us by.
“And that was just yesterday, and he is the only one in the town to fall sick,” I added as there was no other talk in the town of anyone else being sick. Could it be that he was made sick, on purpose? I did not believe it was witchcraft done by Verity or anyone else. When I was a young lass there was a woman found to be a witch was burnt after her neighbour had been found dead in his home the evening after he tried courting her. My mam said various wicked things used by witches were found in her home. The Marshall could have just eaten something that made him sick, but someone could have also put something in their food to make him sick. These were eventful times in the town, and they were worrying events.
“Perhaps his own soul has turned against him,” Verity grinned.
“What kind of sickness is it?” Alice asked.
“An endless agony of retching, and shitting, and hating every breath he takes. That’s my sweet hope!” She laughed.
“You really shouldn’t hope things like that lass, these are powerful men, men that can ’ave ya sent back t’England,” I warned but she just scoffed.
“Not while they are struck down with sickness they can’t,” She replied then returned to the Tavern once again. I shook me head at her then turned to Alice who had a thoughtful look on her face. “Alice, could I ask you about somethin’ of me own that troubles me?” I asked and she nodded to me then we began to stroll together. “The Secretary has offered t’pay me for sewing, but I have dresses for Mistress Castel t’sew,”
“It will take you time to mend them?” She asked me.
“Oh aye, but the day before he asked he was speakin’ of his disgust for Verity. It is strange he is suddenly comin’ to me, one of her friends for services, the same friend who mended her apron,” I replied to her expressing my concern and suspicion.
“Did you refuse him?” She asked and I shook my head.
“I couldn’t, Mistress Castel has been good t’me, and bein’ a high-class woman of the town’ll mean others may come to ask for me to sew, but I didn’t expect the Secretary. I fear he may be trying to cause a rift, and more,” I added, worry-filled me as I spoke my mind. Alice took hold of both of me shoulders and made me look at her.
“You just do what you do best Clara, sew. It is good that you’re getting money for it,” She smiled.
“That is if they don’t take it from me for the company,” I huffed knowing that could be next, but the Secretary could look past that if I do a good job.
“You should probably start as soon as you can Clara,” Alice told me and I nodded in agreement.
“I shall sew in me home then,” I told her then we parted ways. I worked in me home, my fingers were aching and felt numb but I completed the repairs by the afternoon and had a good look at the Secretary garments, which were a few fine tunics, to get an idea of what I had to do. Me throat felt dry as a bone, so I decided to get up and fetch some water from the well. Getting the bucket from next to the door I left my home. The afternoon sun peeped through the building rooves of the town, and it was still busy as ever. I hoped there was someone at the well also getting water for me to talk to as I felt like a caged bird in me home that needed to get out and sing. I started to hum to meself as I walked through the muddy streets towards the well. I stopped near it though and not at it when I saw Mercy, talking to young Pepper Sharrow.