Did you miss a letter? Need to catch up? Here are all of Eleanor’s letters so far.
August 23, 1717
Hiktoka, Spanish Florida
How I miss you already! You’ve just set sail with your lovely bride and I pray this message finds you well once you arrive back in England.
This letter is to inform you I will not be sending you any letters after this one.
I think it’s unacceptable in a time where the ships are getting faster and faster that it could still take two months to reach you, then another two months after you decide to dictate a response to receive a reply. Five or six months of waiting will lead me to worrying if you’ve gone down in a storm or have been killed by actual pirates or many other instances of terrifying death I have told my imagination to forget about.
So instead, I am planning to fill the journal Leda brought me from the future with
words stories of my adventures here on the island, and gift it to you both when we meet again. A brilliant idea, I know!
It is truly a beautiful book, with a watercolor painting of a building on the cover. Moon Mist Manor. It looks most tranquil and impressive. Is that the place she was staying at when she crossed time? Have you been there? You didn’t have much to say when you returned to our time, and I was so caught up
in with Nekosi and our wedding and after the wedding…
I almost regret not asking my usual incessant questions. Imagine, the ground I’m walking on now, one day home to this massive, magnificent structure! I close my eyes and dream of it.
Adrian says I should spend less time with my imagination and more time learning to survive. He will not be here forever, he keeps reminding me. I am not sure about that—there is a lovely widow from the mainland he has been “helping” at every opportunity. I met her recently when he took me into town for supplies. The poor dear. Five children, and she is not yet thirty! Hers was not a love match, either, so I think Adrian’s chances are good. She feeds his ego and what man doesn’t like that? “Oh, Captain Alonso, what would we do without you?” It is amusing, really, because she has a full staff. She’s completely hands-on with the children, though. No nannies or governesses. I rather like that idea.
Speaking of, how is my dearest ladies’ maid, Delia? Does she miss me? I’m sure Leda doesn’t keep her nearly as busy as I was prone to. I hope she is enjoying her idle time. She deserves it.
That is all for today. It is bedtime. I have never looked so forward to retiring as I have now, with a husband to keep me warm at night. Did I make you blush? Ha!
All my love,
P.S. Those special Avalon roses you gave us are thriving! Neko is confident he can duplicate the potion Leda gave me once he has enough petals. He said it will take three times the amount we have now to steam distill the same yield of potion you gave me. Until then, we will use what we have sparingly.
September 12, 1717
Darling Brother and Sister,
I have been told to sit down
for the thousandth time AGAIN, so it seemed as good a time as any to write to you and catalogue the last few weeks.
The roses are doing well. Their growth is remarkable; it is as if they were made for this soil! Neko and I stroll out to check on them at twilight and have lovely walks home guided by the stars.
The island is larger than I first surmised, and I’m learning how to find my way. Landmarks such as particular clusters of trees, a freshwater stream, and a hidden lagoon within the forest on the south side of the island have been charming places to discover. We spend several hours each week gathering plants for his vocation. I enjoy assisting him when a patient arrives with a wound or ailment. It’s fascinating to me how bodies seem to mend themselves under his watchful eye and tender hands?
I am envious of the Native women my age. The manner in which they care for their children and attend to their tasks is, by English standards, shockingly hands-on and community-driven. They dress comfortably for the climate and dance with joy and purpose. When have I ever danced with purpose? I suppose finding a husband during the Season is purpose enough, but it never brought me joy the way it lights up these ladies.
Adrian has purchased all of the necessary building materials for the cabin, and the land has been cleared. I have approved the plans, though I am still reluctant. However, gazing at the cover of this journal does inspire me to picture the grand resort that will one day grace this land. Will our cabin stand the test of time and become a part of Moon Mist Manor? Leda, I know you will not indulge me by telling me if it is so, but I do dream of laying the cornerstones for a grand legacy before I leave this earth.
This land…oh, this land! Truly a lush paradise, and I love it deeply. Our reverence for the land is something that connects Neko and I on a deeper level. We both emigrated here to escape, he from persecution, and I from a future that could never bring me happiness. Sometimes, I catch a glimmer of sadness in his eyes, and I know he’s thinking about the loved ones they lost in the wars. I truly believe freedom is worth any sacrifice. Life is all too fleeting to bear living it in servitude.
There is a storm coming. I can feel it. The wild animals have gone into hiding, and the wind is eerily still. I’m worried for our precious roses. Adrian suggested planting some on the mainland against the manor house, but I’m reluctant to let them out of my control. One of the fairies who seems a bit disgruntled has offered to guard them and curse anyone who tries to take them and use them for nefarious purposes. What is someone discovers their secret? I suppose safeguarding them in a place where they’ll blend is wise. Hiding them in plain sight, indeed!
Neko wants me to shelter on the mainland. As if I’d leave him! I am part of this family now, and if his family is to take me seriously, I am going nowhere. I would rather perish than admit defeat. I am anxious to prove I am not a liability. There is more to Eleanor Mckenzie Reid than what meets the eye! We come from a long line of strong Scottish men and woman who lived off the land. I may never have had the time you did with Grandmother Mckenzie, but Mother taught me everything I needed to know. Plus, after that storm on the Santa Sofia, I’m feeling confident I can handle anything Aeolus throws at me.
I’ll write more later. Your
delightfully deliciously blissfully happy sister,
September 14, 1717
Dearest far-away siblings,
The storm left the entirety of our island community in shambles. As the water receded at sunrise, I was shocked to see the state of it all. Homes destroyed, trees uprooted, drowned animals littering the beach…and Neko said this wasn’t the worst he had seen!
The waves surged for hours, and there was simply nowhere to go but up. Into the trees, I tell you! We spent the night tied to a wobbly palm. I felt sure I was going to drown as I pressed my face to Neko’s chest, my tears mixing with rain.
Sadly, I fear I am not the right sort to thrive in this climate. Besides the terrifying nature (pun not intended) of the swirling, soaking wall of water, we now face the loss of many of our food sources, and it is so terribly humid I find even the shortest exertion to be too taxing.
Could a cannon assault from your ship have done much worse? Save the blood and fire, I think not.
I am grateful to you, brother, for insisting I stay in my cabin when we encountered the hurricane on the journey here. Had I seen the full force it, I likely would not have had the courage—or stupidity?—to decide to stay here. The experience was nothing short of traumatizing.
The bravery of you and your sailors risking their lives, fighting the keep the Santa Sofia upright on the tumultuous sea astounds me. Visions of you being swept into the sea or knocked in the head by a mast or impaled on a splintered rail that shimmied loose—well, like I said, I’m glad I had the good sense to follow your orders as it kept me safe. Much preferred to being tied to a tree with my husband, no matter how romantic I shall spin that tale in the future.
The men and women here are hard-working and resilient. I am not. I try, really I do, but I am a disappointment to myself and surely to Neko and his family as well. It troubles me so. I have had to take more breaks than all the others combined. And it’s not that I am lazy, no, simply and dreadfully tired—and I’m overheating. Overheating! ‘Tis extraordinarily embarrassing.
I do think I will end this missive here, as it is all negative and filled with complaints. Perhaps I will even tear it out so that your eyes shall never see it. I am certainly not my best self right now.
But it feels satisfying in some cathartic sort of way to have written it down. Perhaps even a little healing. I shall resign myself to keep my thoughts more agreeable after this, even if I must recite it aloud as I go about my day.
I feel a smidge better.
All my love,
September 20, 1717
Dearest D and L,
My hand shakes as I scribe this entry from a makeshift lounge chair in the outdoor area where the youngest and oldest are cared for.
I am being cared for like a babe!
‘Tis truly dreadful. I know I resigned myself to staying positive, but I am so ill I could be dying, and they have me nearest their most vulnerable? Adrian has gone off to the mainland to fetch the doctor, he is so fraught with worry for my health. I can’t seem to keep anything down, the smell of roasting meat makes me gag, and I am plagued with constant fatigue as though I have participated in strenuous chores all day long.
Neko, on the other hand, has not shown the same level of concern. In fact, he tells me to “rest” and then consults with his mother and they discuss me in low voices. Today, he was smiling! Smiling! As if he were excited about my impending doom. ‘Tis maddening, and hurtful. I bet her regrets marrying me. I’m much more trouble than I’m worth.
Perhaps they are hopeful of my demise. One fewer fussy mouth to feed!
In other news, the cleaning up form the storm has concluded. All wigwams have been rebuilt and food supplies are on their way to being restored. ‘Tis truly a miracle what these men and woman have been able to accomplish in just a few days. When I am feeling better, I assist with keeping the younger children entertained. I can perch on my lounger with them all gathered around and tell them stories or teach them English names for things. They are teaching me, as well, so ‘tis a wonderful partnership of sorts.
Yesterday, a half dozen or so of children in the five-to-seven-year-old ranges followed me to collect firewood. We traded names for much of the flora and fauna. ‘Twas delightful, and I do think I would like to make this a twilight tradition.
Neko’s mother was able to save some items from the storm that they have now traded for lumber. She has decided she would also like a cabin for the winter months. Winter! I cannot even imagine such a thing right now. Mrs. Barnwell tells Adrian there is not usually snow, but many mornings of frost. How lovely and fresh a crisp chill would feel right now!
I do say I will feel better not being the only ones living in a permanent structure. Neko shared that his mother has always expressed interest in the homes of the settlers on the mainland. She finds them practical and functionable.
I must leave you here while I empty the contents of my stomach. If I am alive when you read this, thank the good Lord for His mercy.
October 8, 1717
Dear Drake and Leda,
Well, if you had received an actually letter from me, you may have fretted and worried and wondered if your dear sister had recovered or was at death’s door.
I’m happy to share that my illness is one hundred percent curable.
It seems that everyone but I was in on the secret, and when poor Neko realized I didn’t know, he laughed.
Which did not seem out of the ordinary because the sicker I got, the happier he acted. He’s been a dear, tending my every need, holding my hair back when I expel the contents of my stomach, rubbing my feet when they hurt at the end of the day.
Yesterday, I asked why he thought my misery was so funny. I really hadn’t the foggiest notion of what was really happening.
I blame Mother.
I should know these things.When your husband has to tell you that you are with child, your first reaction is embarrassment.
Surely, I should have known this. I should have felt something.
I suppose I had, but it wasn’t something I’d considered. Of course, I know deep within my soul and my brain and my heart it could happen, but so soon?
I suppose it could happen anytime, of course, but…oh dear! I’m going to be a mother!
Can you imagine, me, your accident-prone, head-in-the-clouds baby sister raising a child of my own without a nanny or governess? I suppose I shall have to figure it out as I go, so please do please pray for the poor dear.
Then again, your potential children are to be pitied as well. Have you shared with my darling sister-in-law your remedy for stomach ailments? I’ll never forget that concoction you brewed me on my seventh Christmas. I’d had to many sweets and you said the only way to fix my achy insides was to counter it with a nasty concoction of ale and whisky! I did sleep well, but it was from drunkenness, not medicinal healing!
How the good Lord blesses us with the ability to procreate is beyond my comprehension. However, I do expect a niece or nephew, post-haste!
My second thought was sheer and utter terror at the prospect. What do I know about mothering? Neko has assured me not to worry and that his family will help in every way. I’ve seen that. They don’t banish the children to a nursery until they are fit for society.
How different it is here! I do hope I won’t be a disappointment. Our child will be the grandson or granddaughter of the chief. He or she will have many cousins and aunts and uncles and dozens of relatives to play with and count on. It isn’t very different from your stories of Grandmother Mckenzie’s home, Drake. I’m excited for the childhood my children will have here, away from the pressures of London, and even the mainland.
Our little island is its own world, and I am truly blessed to be in it.
All my love,