The next morning when he entered the kitchen he was disappointed to see that Anna was not there.
"Meg, I hop you have a big breakfast for me for I am starved," he had become accustomed to and looked forward to each morning having his breakfast with the two women here in the kitchen. He knew that his neighbors would have been appalled at the mere mention of eating with one's servants.
He wanted to know more about these people but he knew that all the indentured people were trying desperately to start new lives in a new place and he could only imagine how hard it was for some of them. Meg's papers actually gave a little more information than Anna's. Anna's paper only listed one crime---theft. It was obvious that she was well educated. He had observed her several times scanning his books in the library as she dusted them and there was that look of yearning to open the covers. He must remember to tell her that she was welcome to do so.
"Meg, is Anna not joining us for breakfast this morning?"
She set a big plate of eggs and ham in front of him, before answering. "Sir, she is a little late this morning for she did not sleep well. It seems that she is having a difficult time getting use to ye heat here in this country.
A moment later she appeared in the door. "Oh I am so sorry for being so late," she said. Hoping he would not reprimanded her for neglecting her duties.
"Now Anna, the only problem we have here is that I might eat all your share of breakfast," he said and added that alarming smile.
She tried to keep her eyes focused across the room on Meg. "That would not be a problem because I really do not have an appetite when it is this warm," she replied.
Meg placed a big slice of bread and butter laden with jam and a large glass of milk in front of her and shook her finger at her with a silent meaning that meant for her to eat it all.
He grinned as he watched these two women. Yes again, he thought to himself that he had made a wise choice when he bought their papers. He waited until they had eaten and Meg had refilled his coffee cup.
"There are several things that I want to do and I need both of you to help me with. They both leaned forward. "Anna I know that you are oboviously educated to some degree and I think that it would be better for the families if there children had a chance to learn to read and write. Do you think that you could teach them?"
She was almost speechless, as she again looked at this man with more respect than just being her employer.
"Yes I,--I." She really did not know or what to say.
He then turned to Meg. Now the other thing that I need both of you to help me with is to find out if some of the women know the skills of spinning and weaving fabric for there are several old spinning wheels and a loom stored in the old barn. We have the wool from the sheep and the cotton from the fields. This is work that could be done in the winter time when the fields are dormant." He went on to explain that he would have asked them himself but thought that they might be more comfortable just talking to women.
"I believe that these people probably came from that kind of background and they can not only help me with their skills but it will help them. You see I know so little about what they or you did to make a living except what little was on their papers. They don't seem to talk about it---at least not in front of me. You were on the ship for a long time and maybe you got to know them better?"
There was a long period of silence before anyone spoke and then it was Meg.
"Sir, all those women can do those skills and I know that they will be so pleased to hear that they will be able to do what they were taught at their mums knee." She stood and then turned back to him.
"There is also a man amongst us that is a cobbler and he might want to make shoes for we are all in need for a proper sole on our feet."
It was then that he looked down at Meg's feet and he could see only her bare toes which she was trying to hide beneath her skirt. He cursed under his breath for not seeing this need before. Yes, he too had a lot to learn about all of these people that he had taken on.
He then instructed Anna to add to the list that she was preparing for the house to also include the supplies of what the people need most of all. He reminded them that it would not be until the fall before he could make the trip into Baltimore to acquire the items. Finally he headed for the door but not before he told them that he would again be at the stable at noon.
The two women talked excitedly about their new duties, each planning on how they would carry them out. It seemed that a day did not go by that she did not see the many changes that were now happening in her life. This new way of living was totally different than what she had ever experienced in London. How many times she had simply walked past that person on the street that begged her for a coin or even really seen the hunger in their eyes---how could she have been so callously blind?
John had several men working on the old building that previously had been used for drying excess tobacco leaves. He planned on making it warmer for the women to weave and spin in. Also for Anna to teach the children. His plan was to have them use it in the morning until noon and then they would be in need of returning to their own houses to carry out their every day chores.
He was very concerned that if any of his neighbors found out that the children were going to be taught to read and write that there would be trouble. When he presented this plan to the families. He was overwhelmed by their disbelief and emotions. Some of the women cried with their gratitude and all the men stepped forward and shook his hand and thanked him repeatedly. He sternly cautioned them on keeping this plan a secret from his neighbors and explained why. He then headed toward the stables.
Before he got to the door of the stable he could here the big stallion even though he was out in the fenced area. He was racing around an around the perimeter as if to be drawing a deeper line of ownership into the dirt. He smiled as he thought at that moment of how he could be a devil in disguise. Maybe that would be a good name for him, that is if he could ever get close enough to call him that.
He asked MoJo if he had been successful yet with enticing him with an apple? MoJo only shook his head, while they watched the animal suddenly come to a sliding halt and pitched his ears forward and he focused on Anna as she made her way from the house to the stable. John had decided that he would not mention the fact that he had observed her with the stallion that night. Actually he had to admit to him self that he wanted to see more of her in that white gauze night shirt.
She stepped into the shade of the stables and took a moment to let her eyes adjust to the dimness. Then she saw them standing at the other end and watching the stallion for now he was facing the door waiting for her to appear.
"Sir, I brought your meal," she said as she walked forward.
"I look forward to Meg's meals now and your company also."
He reached for the small basket that she was holding. "Now come and lets share this meal under the tree but first grab an apple from the barrel and lets see if the beast wants one or does he just want to take a bite out of me?" he laughed.
When they both stepped out of the door together the big stallion charged at the fence. He stopped and looked some what hesitant seeing Anna so close to the man that he considered an enemy. It was obvious that he was not happy to see John.
"Sir, maybe I will wait and give him this apple later," she said.
As they sat there eating he asking about what she thought about teaching the children and was enjoying her enthusiasm on the subject. Yet, all the time they talked she never diverted her eyes from the horse as he now was just standing there calmly watching her also. It was like the eye contact was all the communication that they needed. This fascinated him almost as much as the woman.
"Anna, what do you think would be a good name for that beast?" He had seen her talking to him, so maybe she had given him a name already. It was a long moment before she answered, and then he had to lean forward to hear her.
"He reminds me of a hot summer night when there is a storm coming. He is as black as the clouds and has all the power to lash out at what ever is before him---I would call him---Storm!"
"You have described him perfectly, so let his new name be---Storm from now on." He handed her the empty basket and started to give her a helping hand up from the grass but when he reached for her the big stallion raised up and pawed the air with his front hoofs.
"Sir, I better get back on my own and help Meg."
Again he stood back and watched the woman and the horse walking slowly side by side with only a pole fence between them. She was talking softly to him until she got close to the stable door and then she reached out with the apple in hand and he gently reached over the rail and took it.
To be continued: