Monday, June 13, 2011

Farewell Dinner

It was a beautiful Spring day. The air was light and cool with hints of Winter lingering on the wind. The sounds and smells of the busy city were all around them. The bustling streets were busy with merchants and businessmen. The chimney sweeps and livery workers were busy at their jobs as the young couple made their way towards the docks of London.
He was a young gentleman and his friend, a beautiful young woman who was recently widowed. Surprising to us but not uncommon in their day that a lady of only 13 years would have already been married and widowed by this tender age.
 I imagine their conversation was light and happy as they walked to the dock that day since the evening held such promise. Such a gay event. How exciting. They had been asked to have dinner aboard ship that was set to sail very next morning for the new colony in Virginia. Their friends, who were bound for the New World and a life of adventure and excitement, had asked them to have dinner aboard ship to celebrate the last supper in their homeland.
The noon bell had sounded from the hill in Greenwich to signal the ships several hours ago and the sun was setting. The seagulls flew around and above them and the ship pitched and rolled at the dock as the ropes creaked at the moorings.
The young couple was happily greeted by friends and crew as they climbed aboard ship. The party was given the tour of the packed and readied vessel. All the supplies and cargo had been securely stowed as everything was in its place and ready for the long voyage.
As the tour ended in the Captains quarters the group made their way to the table and sat down to sumptuous meal and, probably, a little more wine than they should have had. The conversation was happy and full of hope, the wine was sweet and the hours seemed to pass unnoticed.
They had heard the bells in the sound and the seagulls and the lapping of the waves against the ship’s hull. The dinner was at an end and the conversation was winding down. It was time to say their farewells and make their way to their respective homes.
Rising and walking to the door they may have stumbled a little with the wine and the movement of the ship but something was not right. As they opened the door something was definitely not right.
Where was the dock? Where was the city? Where were all their family and friends?
In one quick, painful realization only one word came to mind – “shanghaied”.

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