Immediately upon disembarking, Andrew and Molly along with others not already engaged were escorted to warehouse lodgings and given beer and a heartening stew of squash, beans, corn, yams, and meat, their first meat in seven weeks. The men and women were separated and instructed to choose clothing from a pile of castoffs before bathing and delousing with some herbal concoction whose noxious odor was helpful in warding off mosquitoes. When the men were led off to be locked away for the night, Molly wept and clung to Andrew, fearing she’d never see him again. She had no faith in the agent’s assurance that they’d be placed together. Despite her grief, she slept hard in the deep hay that served as bedding for the exhausted women. For the first night in months, she didn’t fear assault.
The next morning, the colonists gathered just after daybreak to choose among servants. Molly, along with the other women, ate a hasty breakfast of beer and bread, made a hasty toilet, and prepared for selection, praying Providence would be kind. As the men turned out, Andrew hurried to Molly’s side. As the selection began, the agent presented the bonded, praising their health, intelligence, and skills, real or concocted on the spot. Some were labeled distillers, others as cabinet makers, or boat-builders. True to his word, he proclaimed Andrew and Molly must go to the same master. To their surprise, they heard the agent confide to Master Wharton that Andrew was a skilled blacksmith and that Molly could weave and spin. The colonists were legally forbidden to forge their own tools and ironwork, so this would have to be a clandestine operation. Like most forbidden practices, smithing was made more attractive.
Encouraged to think he was engaging a blacksmith and a woman who could weave and spin, Master Wharton spoke directly to Andrew. “You look right, enough. My blacksmith will be soon work free, but might have long enough to teach you some. Do you think you can pick it up fast? I’ll not tolerate a slacker. If you give me your pledge, I’ll take you and your wife. Should you fail, I’ll sell your bond.”
“I’ll not fail if you take us both, that I swear.” Andrew asserted, looking him in the eye. “My wife never learned weaving nor spinning. I’d not have you expect that. She tended the dairy and is skilled at butter and cheese-making, nothing more.”
“I have no need of a weaver, just a housekeeper. I’ll bond you. You’ll get lodging, food, and a new suit of clothes now and once a year. You will work dawn to dusk every day with Sunday for worship and rest. Give me value and we’ll have no trouble.” Their new master strode off to tend his business, leaving them to wait together.
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