Colonial Dreams

    “Colonial Dreams,” Friend, July 1985, 8

    Colonial Dreams

    “Stop daydreaming, Abigail,” Mother scolded, “and get the table ready for supper. Your father will be along any minute, hungry and tired after working all day in the fields.”

    Abigail hurried; she had been daydreaming about her old home. She knew Mother needed her help, but it was hard not to think about the friends and fun she had left in England before they had come to the New World.

    On her way to the well for the milk and butter, Abigail stopped. Gazing at the cornfield and then at the shadow-laden hills beyond increased her loneliness.

    Mother hadn’t let her go to see her friend Bess today because there had been too much to do. Bess had a doll and some doll dresses she had sewed, and Abigail had wanted to go and help make another costume for the doll. Abigail’s own doll had been left behind in England when they’d come to the colony.

    Abigail drew the pail with milk and butter from the well, where it stayed cool between meals, and took it back up the path and into the cabin. Mother was putting hot bread on the table beside a steaming bowl of stew.

    Father came in from the bench where he had just washed up, and they sat down to supper together. This was the best part of the day for Abigail. She liked it when Father was in the cabin. He usually sat by the fireplace and carved things after supper until he went to bed.

    He had carved their spoons and Mother’s big stirring paddle. He said there were other things he wanted to carve as soon as the long winter evenings began. During the summer Father worked late in the fields and only had time to do a little carving after Mother and Abigail were in bed.

    Tonight he seemed very tired, but he smiled when he called Abigail to him by the fireside. He held out some carved pieces for her to see.

    “Why, Father!” Abigail cried. “I see feet and arms, and that must be a head and body!” She looked at her father, and his eyes were twinkling. To think that Father has been carving a doll for me after working so hard all day! she thought. Hugging her father as hard as she could, she said, “Oh, Father, I didn’t know you knew how much I missed my doll! But how will those pieces go together?”

    “You’ll see,” he said as he got up and brought some cords from a peg in back of the door. He began to make knots and fasten the pieces to the body of the doll. Soon the doll’s arms and legs were attached and they could be moved!

    “It seems like magic.” Abigail chuckled as she spoke. “Now I can make dresses for her and sing to her when I am lonely, just as I did in England.”

    “You surely can,” Mother said, “when your work is done. Remember, you still need to knit stockings for us. We all need new ones for the cold weather that is coming soon.”

    “I thought no one knew how lonely I was and how much I missed our old home,” Abigail said, walking over to hug her mother. “I will be good and help all I can. Father shall have the first new socks; they are almost finished. Yours will be next, Mother; you work so hard for all of us.”

    “Your mother and I could never forget about you, Abby. It’s good to work hard together. Someday this will be a very dear home, as dear as the one we left in England. And you will like it all the better because you helped to make it so.”

    Photos by Wes Taylor; illustrated by Shauna Mooney