Molly and Andrew Part 17

Molly was stunned to see Andrew standing before her.  She’d long ago given him up. He was emancipated and scarred, little resembling the healthy man she’d last seen.  He dropped to the ground at her feet, wrapping his arms around her legs. “Molly, Molly, I thought I’d never see you again.”

Overwhelmed at his unexpected return after so long, she was bewildered and confused.  As he wept and buried his head in her skirts, she dropped to her knees and held him.  The little girls clung to their mother as she called to Jamie,  “Go get Pap and Gran!  Run! Run!”

Jamie whirled and ran, shrieking, “Pap!  Gran!  Ma wants you!  Hurry!”

Molly felt no connection to the poor wretch she was trying to comfort. Her crying girls added to the confusion by pulling at her.  Amid all this, she heard the weak cries of an infant coming from his pack.

“”Feed him, please.  He’s had nothing since yesterday morning.”  With this, Andrew struggled to work a pack off his back.  He lay it on the ground, tenderly unwrapping it to reveal a starving baby boy, bound in a malodorous blanket.  The child could have been no more than a few weeks old.  “Help please,” he beseeched her.  “He may yet die.”

“God in Heaven!  Poor baby!  Hurry girls.  We have to feed him!”  Forgetting Andrew, she scooped up the wailing baby and ran for the house, pulling Hannah by the hand. Aggie kept up the best she could.  She couldn’t see Will, Aggie, and Jamie reaching Andrew behind her.  With the baby in one arm, she heated milk in a pan over the fire.  As it warmed, she hastily washed the baby, wrapping it snugly in a towel.  Dipping a clean cloth in warm milk over and over, the baby sucked. Meanwhile, Will and Addie supported Andrew between them, seated him at the table, and got him food and drink.  Afterward, Will helped him bathe and get into James’ nightshirt then into bed in spare room.

In the meantime, Molly and Addie bathed and dressed the baby, settling it in the cradle.  Once it was full, warm, and dry, the baby gave them no trouble.

As the excitement settled and the children played at their feet, Molly, Will, and Addie tried to piece the story together.  Apparently, Andrew and a few others had been enslaved by the Powhatan tribe, since his capture.  They had been able to escape after a recent trader brought measles, decimating the village, leaving no one to pursue them.  They’d been traveling several days and he the baby were the only survivors.

Molly had no idea what to make of Andrew’s return with the baby.  She’d married Andrew in England and then, thinking him dead, married James in Jamestown.,  She had no idea where this left her, but today there was business to tend.  At Addie’s suggestion, she sent Will to pay to fine and bargain for the indenture of a sixteen-year-year old girl who was sitting in jail for the crime of having had a bastard child.  It had been stillborn yesterday, so she should still be able to nurse this baby.

She would just deal with what had to be done today and let tomorrow take care of itself.  For now, everyone under her roof was fed and safe.

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