I do not know when I will have the time to post my letter back home to my cousins, but I pray I will arrive safely to see this rich, new land Papa has promised. There is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of seasickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply-salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably.
Thanks to the Almighty God, Papa has many years' service to the King in his army. We secured a small room on the same level as the captain's quarters. Had we been forced to become indentured to a colonist in order to pay for our passage, I fear the threat of being separated would have broken Mar's heart. But so many on this ship have that fate awaiting them when we reach land once again, if they are still alive when we do.
Already, we have seen no less than twenty-six passengers forced through a loophole and dropped into the sea. Parents are watching their little children suffer from disease and sickness and grieving all the more when they see them buried at sea, no resting place on this earth to be had, but devoured by the monsters of the water.
I have heard Papa talking with other men about what will happen when we reach Philadelphia. No one is permitted to leave the ship except those who pay for their passage or can give good security from a promise of indentured service; the others must remain on board the ships till they are purchased and are released from the ships by their purchasers. The healthy are naturally preferred and purchased first, so the sick must remain on board in front of the city for two or three weeks, and frequently die. Those who can pay their debt and are permitted to leave the ship immediately, might recover and remain alive.
It is thankful, I am that I will not have to serve until the age of twenty-one. Papa has already purchased land in one of Pennsylvania's lower three counties. We have a carriage awaiting us in Philadelphia to take us to New Castle. It is there where we will open a candleshop and work until Papa can build our house on our land. Then, we will live and work the land and make of it a beautiful place to be.
I only pray these dreams of Papa are right. So much sorrow and sadness and broken dreams are here on this ship. I long to walk on dry land again and see the smiles of those who are living carefree once more. Let this journey end soon.
Palmetto Leaves by Harriet Beecher Stowe
1 hour ago