Chapter 2: Gayla


I knew him at once from the photograph I had memorized, despite the daguerrotype depicting an expressionlessly stern visage, lacking the animation of the pipe he puffed as he walked, or the polite nod to the innkeeper’s wife as he stepped out the door. A moment later he more closely resembled his photo, having adopted a distinct expression of disapproval when I greeted him. Truly, if you relied on photos to tell history, you would think New Englanders had no life or humor in them at all. This one had no evident humor that morning, but plenty of life, harumphing around his pipestem as I explained my connections.

I had in my head a list of the mile-markers I must meet over the next several years, first among them to attach myself to this man, whom I found not a little intimidating—though I was determined not to let on. I stepped out to match his pace, silently cursing the unaccustomed heeled boots buttoned around my ankles, and set myself to overcome his disgruntled reaction.

I had little enough time in which to accomplish my ends, knowing that Obedience was set to sail in little more than a month, and that I would have to recalibrate this man’s reaction to me in short order if I were to be aboard. So much time had already elapsed since my summer solstice arrival, time necessarily devoted to the machinations of the my faked involvement in the ship’s investment scheme and my own journey from New York to New Bedford. Hopping from one ship to another as passenger was a ridiculous way to travel, and I could have made the journey overland at less expense—but traveling by ship would record my name on passenger rolls for myself to find later.

I had as a guide these things I knew already, but I didn’t yet know how certain a predictor my knowledge of the past would be when the past was my own future. I was determined to follow what “script” I had, and to lay the very trail that had led me to here, to now… but I had no real idea of how to accomplish some of what was needed. Beginning with bewitching a confirmed bachelor and superstitious sailor not only enough to marry me in short order, but to agree to take me with him. For this, I had no plan.