Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jacob's Journey

This is the record of Jacob Wolf, a fictitious character from the sixteen hundreds. This is his journey.


Well, here I am. Sitting on the dock with my shovel, saw, and axe in my pack. The boat in front of me is tiny when you think about all the people that will be on it. I think about my fields. I wonder what will happen to them when that person takes them. What was his name again? No matter. I'm almost completely alone. Almost all my family died two months ago, the day after my 25th birthday. The only one that didn't besides me was my sister, Mary. The others passed away because of the sickness from the rats. Now I will be departing from England, to escape the sickness and because I am so poor I will soon die too. The New World will give me enough to sustain myself if I survive the journey.
Suddenly my two laborers appear behind me, pushing through the throng.
"Jacob! Hope we have enough to board!"
I reply so softly I do not know if they hear me.
"Yes. I do too."
I wonder if the natives in the New World are friendly. I hope they are. Perhaps we will make peace with them. Last night I dreamed of my life in the New World. I had a hundred acres of every plant imaginable, and the year was so good I always had enough. But then in my dream the plants turned black and twisted into dark-skinned natives, and my family was alive, only for me to watch them die again at cruel rock-tipped arrows. Then a call jars me out of my reverie.
"All Aboard! We're off!"


It is now eleven of the clock, one month into our journey. I am feeling homesick. Though I have almost no family, I miss the open fields I once had, the old house I once lived in, even the constant roar of the waterfall behind my home. Now I have nothing but the bunk below decks I sleep and my bedbug, Johann, that I have adopted as a pet. I also have nothing to do but play with him. Oh, and vomit over the side. I have yet to become used to the constant roll of the boat upon the waters. I have become frightened of the storms now. I am worried we will completely overturn, which has almost happened several times. At least I know God will protect me. The food is minimal here on The Silver Swan. We have been reduced to a single slice of stale bread a day. At least I am used to this from that oh so distant time before, a month ago. I wonder. Will me and Mary ever get there?

Suddenly I hear a harsh call.

"Severe storm ahead!"

I am running. What will happen now?


The Silver Swan has now landed. All the Gentlemen and Ladies depart first, trying to appear dignified while screaming and splashing water everywhere, kissing the ground. Then me, Mary, and Johann barrel through the throng who have clustered at the door like the infernal sea we, the colonists, had been on, that some had died on, and had starved on. The sea spawned by Satan that had finally washed us on these beautiful shores. And they were beautiful. The pure white sands tasted sweet on our tongues as we flung ourselves to the ground. I suddenly felt landsick. Where was the reassuring roll beneath my feet that I had so despised? Oh, God truly loves us. We had survived! Then I remembered my dream, that long long two months ago. My smile withered instantly. What will happen when we meet the natives?

It begins to rain. Amazing timing. We sprint to a low, bending tree. As we sit under the branches, my dream and my doubts forgotten, I feel the kind of happiness that even rain cannot extinguish. We are back on land again. Thank you oh mighty Lord. Thank you!

My one laborer dashed up to me. The other had perished on the journey.

"We nearly crashed there, when we were entering the bay."

"But that's good, I suppose,"I reply. "The Spanish Conquistadors will have trouble coming in here also."


Finally me and my sister find enough strength to dig a small holes in the ground, one for me and one for her and brush up little piles of leaves. I wonder what will happen on the morrow.

I must sleep. It has been a busy day.


This is my fourth entry of my journal. I have never had a chance to write one in two long, frightening, and wonderful months. The New Worlds has beauty and danger that has never been seen by honest settlers afore. The food is short and the winter will be long. My sister is working hard beside me to harvest enough but our crops do not grow as well as they did back in England. I wonder why...

We have had no sight of the natives, and the winter has been mild too. What luck! Still, many of us have died, and and my poor pet bedbug Johann is dying! He doesn't like the cold. But our life has been moderately good for a winter in a timber brush. We have changed our beds from wet holes to holes filled with dead leaves. It is terrible because it is so bitterly cold. And, Mary might be getting sick. I hope we survive. It will be good in a few years, I am reassuring myself. But my hopes are not high. I do not think we will survive.


It is two weeks later. This is the record of the frightening incident that has just occurred. I was doling out the meager rations when I saw a dark shape in the trees. I jumped as I realized it was a black-skinned, tall man with a bow at his side. My worst fears had come true. It was the natives! I thought about all the things that had happened to the colony in the last few weeks. The cabinetmaker had had an argument with the carpenter. Our water supply froze. All of us together had to work to mash the ice into water again. The town hall was now established as a gigantic hollow tree. Our rations were tiny.

But nothing was worse then this. Would he kill me on the spot? I hope he only came to talk, or trade. But surely that could not happen. He was so frightening and the arrow at his side was cruelly sharp. Why had he brought it unless to kill us? Surely he wasn't frightened of us killing him?

Oh yeah.

"Excuse me."

His voice was calm but had a twinge of amusement.

"We have come to speak with your chieftain."


"We don't have one." My voice came out as a squeak.

"I see..."

"I mean, everyone is equal here. Uhhh, kind of. I mean, we are equal if you think about those guys over there. Yeah."

He shrugged and strode into our cluster of holes and makeshift shelters. Thank goodness it wasn't snowing, or he might have taken offense or something. Oh, God help us. What shall we do? I brought him to the meeting place where a gentleman was shivering.


The gentleman jumped a foot in the air.

"H-h-h-h-hello. W-w-why are y-y-you h-h-ere?"

I was pretty sure the waver in his voice wasn't totally from the cold.

"I am here to discuss your presence here. What gives you this right?"

As I hurried away I wondered vaguely how he knew our language. Then their voices were lost on the wind, and I prayed that all would be well.


It is the summer now. We have begun to build little huts to live in. It's quite nice. However, Mary's sickness had been getting worse throughout the spring and I worry about her. She is, after all, my sister. The Native Americans have gotten higher in our esteem but we are still leery of them. Still, I am grateful of the crops they have given us. Many we have never seen before. Some of them have strange names like "astukasquash" and "maize". We have changed the former to simply "squash". It is delicious.

My farming job is going well. I have a field of sorts to plant in. I am growing maize near the big town hall tree. The conditions for planting are terrible for the plants we are used to but these plants grow well.

Speaking of town hall trees, our town hall meetings have now created a compact. It heightens freedom and creates common defense and general welfare. We are quite proud of it and the cabinetmaker has built a cabinet to place it in. The best part is that I now have wonderful opportunities. I am trying to help people by letting young men into my service. It will benefit all, and it makes up for poor Mary's sickness. She usually works alongside us all.

Oh, I hope God has it in his plans to keep her alive. I would feel so much pain if she died, but we can do nothing for her.

Yesterday the natives introduced us to a man called Akecheta. He has taught us many things of farming and clam fishing. He is also very wise in the ways of men and he is a favorite among the children.

My life is good and prosperous here. That was not so in England.

I came here to have a better life.

I have that now.

--So ends the journey of Jacob Wolf.