… Parts 18 (Mouth of Babes), 17 (Testing), 16 (Power), 15 (Knowledge), 14 (Words), 13 (Interruptions), 12 (Gifts), 11 (Punishment), 10 (Warmth), 9 (Found), 8 (Lost), 7 (Rock), 6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays…
As I marveled at the wisdom of this young child, I just caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Anna had given Tilly the slightest of nods. I turned to her, little Tilly still in my arms, and raised an eyebrow.
She rewarded me with her most mischievous smile. So, then. Not only from the mouths of babes. My tears ended, I couldn’t help but return her smile. My breast filled with hope, until stayed by my bodice.
“You see, my dear Miss Willow, we can indeed accomplish this task which is set before us.”
Anna’s confidence was as bracing as a cup of tea on a cold day. Tilly seconded that thought, nodding her head so vigorously that I had to put her down. Anna drew near, pulling us both into an embrace that no family had ever bested.
“Well, my dears.”
I looked up with a start. It was Mrs. H. She stood in the doorway holding a bundle of clothing. The doctor, however, was no longer in the room. Just how long, exactly, had I been unawares? Had I fainted?
“While the doctor is seeing to the carriage, I have brought you such apparel as our Joe Wright here has requested.” She nodded to Anna, then turned to me. “We always have diverse disguises on hand that will do for young Joe and Tilly, but nothing for this Peculiar ruse of yours. I only keep one change of fine dress and stays, Willow, for special occasions.”
That word. Does she disapprove? Tilly ran over to take the bundle from her. Mrs. H. continued across the room, stopping before a large chest. When she opened it, a scent of lavender escaped, perfuming the room. She pulled out a dress such as the mistress of a plantation would wear. I gasped, finally understanding the extent of her hospitality. Just then, a familiar sound caught my ear, somewhere outside. I looked to the window, but all was darkness, and quiet.
“Did you hear me, Willow?”
I looked back, embarrassed to have missed what she was saying. Little Tilly, already beginning to play her role, responded for me:
“If you please, Missus, my mistress is very devout, and was saying a prayer just as you spoke.”
She bowed her head and dropped into that perfect curtsy as she finished, drawing a scowl from Mrs. H. I almost thought I heard the child let escape half of a giggle.
“Willow, I fear that this dress will go a little long on you, but we’ve no time to alter it.”
That dress, I knew, would not suffice on special occasions in Virginia. But for travel, it would do.
“Mrs. H. this is the loveli-”
“You need not flatter me, young Willow. I am no Virginia Lady. Now, let us be about our task quickly, for I hear them in the courtyard now.”
This is the continuation scene in my historical fiction series Ann&Anna. I hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.
I look forward to your thoughts.
1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking. It is my personal contribution to Project Do Better.
2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.