© 2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon
Sunday, August 20, 1815
At last I am able to hold a quill pen in hand and write down the pain in my heart. It is very hard to bear the loss of my family. Mother’s passing has left us all bereft, but I owe immeasurable gratitude to my dear friend, Regina Randall, who stayed by my side in my illness until I was no longer in danger of dying. The little cabin became a temporary hospital for Mother and I while she nursed us. Sadly, Mother did not survive the swamp fever* but although she refused the medicine powder** Regina expressed the opinion that Mother’s illness was too far advanced for it to have been effective. I believe Robert’s mother is perhaps attempting to salve my feelings.
I have moved back into the main house to assist Evvy. Regina believes I am on the way to complete recovery and no longer pose any danger of passing on my illness to others. Robert has been a great help to Father and Henry, aiding them in bringing in the grain harvest and Arthur has transported it to the nearest grist mill.
I must admit I dreaded going back into the house and seeing the cradles where our two little boys slept their first few months. Robert removed the cradles and stored them in the barn for me, but Evvy insisted the trundle bed stay in case Arthur brought Adam to visit from time to time. I asked Henry to burn my night clothes and the bed linens from my illness. Evvy agreed it might be for the best so I will need to employ my time in sewing new ticking and a new night dress. Evvy set up the old wash tub filled with warm water for me to bathe in the summer kitchen. It felt so good to be clean and she gave me one of Mother’s lawn frocks to wear.
“Arthur and Robert are coming by to visit this afternoon,” she said with a smile. “I am sure you want to appear at your best.” Then she added softly, “They are bringing Adam too. I hope you won’t be upset.”
My eyes filled with tears, but I shook my head. Life must go on and by then my two boys were headed over the Atlantic to their new home in England. I prayed to God they would have a safe voyage and a long, happy life in their new home. Persephone had promised they would be well-loved and cared-for and in a letter, Captain Houghton had promised he would look out for them and write often of their progress. They are young enough not to remember me as they grow and that is for the best.
I was setting the table for tea when the Randall wagon arrived. Evvy went out to greet Robert and Arthur and I heard her cry of happy surprise, but simply thought Regina might have come too.
Robert entered the house with Adam in his arms. At least, I was certain it was Adam until I heard a familiar voice calling, “Mama, mama…” I turned in utter shock to see my darling Charlie with his arms out to me. I ran to him and hugged him in Robert’s arms. Robert smiled from ear to ear as he placed my sweet little boy in my arms.
“I don’t understand,” I sobbed, “did something happen to the ship? Did Persephone change her mind? Where is Andrew?”
Arthur entered behind Robert and bid me sit down so he could explain.
“The ship is on its way to England and Andrew and Adam are on it. Persephone only knows she has two little boys with her just as you promised. Charlie was crying for you as soon as we left the house. Andrew and Adam were happily asleep. When we arrived in Prescott, William and I took the two sleeping boys while Robert tried to soothe Charlie. Persephone made the assumption that Adam and Andrew were the twins and I …” Arthur cleared his throat and continued… “well, it occurred to me that this was the solution to my concerns about the O’Meara’s getting hold of Adam, and you would still have one of your sons here with you. I hope you will forgive me, Adeline.”
Robert looked sternly at Arthur. “I was non-plussed.” he said, “and I wanted to go to Persephone and Captain Houghton with Charlie, but William, Arthur and I talked it over and we decided that perhaps it was for the best. You have lost so much, Addy, and have been so ill, I couldn’t bear the thought that you would be completely bereft. So we brought Charlie back to our home and waited until today, until we knew you were fully recovered before bringing him back to you.”
My head was reeling with the implications of what Arthur had done. Adam would be raised thinking that he was Brigadier General Houghton’s grandson and Andrew’s twin. And Andrew, would he be lost without his twin? Would he mourn him or would he grow up thinking Adam was his brother too? Charlie had been denied his birthright, and yet, Charlie was here with me and close to his father. I wrestled with my conscience for many days and then realized that no purpose would come of trying to right the wrong. I would bring up Charlie as best I could and provide him with the piece of property my parents had given me and Charles. If he worked hard, Charlie could establish himself in this new country and his father would be proud to call him his son. The only real cloud on our horizon is Jacob Bourke.
Grateful to God, but still anxious,
**Quinine (this drug was used to treat malaria until a derivative was produced in the 20th century)