Today, a preamble rather than a postscript on my story:
When I see places as lovely as Portmeirion Village, Wales, I wonder what possessed my ancestors to leave such a lovely country. And then I remember there was probably some misbegotten criminal matter or some unseemly circumstance behind it. Which is how this story happened.
My grandma liked to say that the riderless horse on the family crest was because we were horse thieves from way back. And then there’s the matter of the childless fifty-something couple in Nebraska that suddenly gave birth to my great grandmother. Yes, there are all sorts of interesting things in history, I imagine.
The steward eyed her midsection as she boarded. “Yer husband be waiting in America?”
There was no husband. There was only a charming rogue and a fortnight of promises. Her hand curled to the growing curve of her belly.
She cleared her throat. Giving her surname—even in this port—was risky. Her people were vagabonds and miscreants. It was no wonder she’d taken a bad path.
She would make it in America, though. She couldn’t heft a pickaxe, but where there were miners, there were hungry men who’d pay a shilling for a hearty cawl and brown bread. She’d take care of the young one now slumbering in her belly. Raise him as a widow and turn her life around.
Her eyes shifted to the barrels on the deck. She couldn’t read, but she knew the sounds of some letters. “Rawson,” she guessed.