It had taken months for the trip to be organized, but we were growing in our excitement about it. When Sean Kelley had heard of our plans, he jumped at the opportunity to come along. He had not been able to find any steady work due to his bad leg, and he needed a way to survive. His wife had left him for another sailor she met when he was on the Intrepid. He was more than ready to leave England for a new start in life. Kelley was grateful for the opportunity to work, and to be reunited with old friends. He was indeed, a friend of the first rate.
We sailed out of London on a bright August morning in 1623. The sun was rising slowly and brilliantly, as we tacked toward the Atlantic from the Thames. Our crew of 22 men, captained by aging Captain William Braden, recovered well from his last dangerous voyage, was a veteran crew, unlike the ill-fated Intrepid crew. The Merriweather was not a new ship, but she had only 5 or 6 voyages under her belt. Loaded with barrels and casks of provisions for our new settlement at Cape Ann, as well as some refreshed supplies for Plymouth, we felt well stocked. Further, Shepherd had asked Harvey for help with medical supplies, and we had a veritable hospital on the ship, including Harvey’s latest medical equipment, graciously given to us for the trip to America. Shepherd had made the case that the New World offered a potential supply of new medicinal plants and herbs which could benefit both England and America if properly developed and tested. He had heard of the dreadful diseases which had decimated Plymouth in the past two years, and he was firm in his resolve to make America a healthy place for people seeking a new way of life. He had also heard of the native people of America, savages really, but Shepherd never called them that. He felt that they could benefit from the scientific advances we had seen in England also.
“Captain Braden” I said as I walked into his cabin, “how has your health been since our last adventure”. I was once again named ship’s physician so I felt that I had reason, even the duty, to open our dialogue in this way. “Dr. Greene” he said, “I cannot tell you when I have felt better than I do at this moment!” I smiled at him, “That is certainly good for a passenger to hear from his ship’s captain!”
We both had a good laugh as we went into a reverie of our last voyage together. Both of us could have died on that voyage, and we were both close to it, although in different ways. We talked about some of the old crew as Kelley joined us in our casual discussion. “Whatever happened to old Dooley?” I asked. Kelley joined in, “Dooley is in Bethlam Asylum”. “He seems almost sane these days I think, but when you are in a place like that, nobody seems sane” he said matter-of-factly. When he killed Swailes and North, I thought that to be the sanest thing a man could do”, he said. The judge in the case as much as said that when he sent Dooley to Bethlam instead of hanging him. I was on trial then too, for mutiny on a Royal ship. Old Dooley said that there were only about three or four people on the ship who were not insane, and he named Braden, Greene, me and Shepherd as the ones who saved the ship. I think Dooley did too, but when he told the judge that the angels and the demons were fighting in his head all the time, and that he heard God talk to him sometimes, the judge thought it would be easier to just put him in Bethlam than to hang him. It was easier to just put that whole thing of the Intrepid away by saying that a mad man had killed some of the crew. No one cares now what really happened on that ship, so we are all better off now. I got off charges mostly because Dooley was the one who the judge says was out of control. Nobody told of my “incident” with Mr. Kent. For that I am grateful. Truth is, that whole ship was out of control!” We came away from that conversation sad for Dooley, but glad it was behind us. In fact, had it not been for the Intrepid disaster, I would not be where I am today. I felt blessed.
The days melted away for me in reading, and discussions with Shepherd, Kelley, Braden and Adams. As I looked out over the port side one day, I saw spout of water rise out of the sea, followed by hundreds of jumping dolphins. What a sight! I thought. Tacking to deal with the prevailing “Westerlies”, we had drifted much farther south than intended and we were experiencing some warmer water and weather. Braden seemed unconcerned, and we became accustomed to the hot days, and enjoyed the evening light shows of “falling stars”.
Shepherd told me that Galileo had told him of these “falling stars” a few years ago while we were in Italy. Galileo did not think them to be stars, but likely some heavenly bodies which raced through space in a predictable way, since he could plot their appearance year after year. In fact, this is part of why he had said that the earth too was a wanderer through space around the sun. Mathematics could predict these patterns, but the Church seemed too threatened to consider these ideas. Shepherd was saddened by this, not really angered like some of the great minds of the day. Truly, I felt that Shepherd was one of the great minds of the day.
Shepherd spent time with Henry Adams on the voyage, discussing his politics, religion, and views of farming science. Adams was an independent sort who seemed to embody a non-conformist, perhaps contrarian world view. Fiercely independent, he was convinced that America could become a new chance for the English people. Shepherd and Adams talked a great deal about the Dutch philosopher Hugo Grotius who seemed to have the idea that natural laws did not contradict God’s laws since God was the author of all, including natural law. He believed that the rule of law should govern any human disputes, and that men should be free to establish governments which represented this natural approach to human coexistence. The idea that a sort of social contract” should exist between those who govern, and those governed, was a very radical kind of thought. This flew in the face of the arbitrary type of ruling which existed all over the civilized world. It certainly refuted the Divine Right of Kings which was the hallmark of monarchy. If such thinking could somehow be implemented in America, the world indeed would be turned upside down!
Captain Braden told us that we were making great progress. This, I believe, was due to the favorable winds and his savvy tacking maneuvers. At this rate we would be in America in the next two weeks, a swift 6-week journey. What a start to our adventure. It seemed to bode well for our brave group of travelers.
As Braden had predicted, in the next 10 days, we began to see signs of land. Gulls began to be sighted almost daily. Passengers grew restless as we neared land. Anticipation and wonder ruled the day. The Dorchester Company had designated a leader for the new community at Cape Ann. His job would be to establish the settlement, make a relationship with the native people, to help with favorable deals for trading goods, as well as learning about this new place from them. This leader was John Levine, a very cunning, no-nonsense man whose job it was to not only make a settlement, but to make money for his investors at The Dorchester Company. He was generally respected by most in the company of travelers, but their goals differed from his somewhat. Most had come wanting a new start in a new world. Levine wanted to make money for his employers. In order to do that, he had to make sure the settlement was successful. The trade-off seemed to be fair and understood.
We landed on September 26, and we immediately held a service of thanksgiving for the providence God had given to the voyage. Not one death, not even significant illness, despite the privation of a treacherous ocean voyage in the most challenging of circumstances. Levine was unfolding his plans for building structures which would sustain us through a winter which we anticipated might be as difficult as that faced by the Plymouth group. We had, he reckoned, about 6-8 weeks before we could expect cold temperatures, perhaps snow, and even blizzards of some type as William Bradford had discussed in his pamphlets published in 1622.
We had provisions for the winter on board the Merriweather, and in the Spring, we would plant the seeds which we brought along. We hoped also to learn of new crops to plant, including tobacco, which was of particular interest to Levine, though not a prominent incentive for the trip. Levine had his own ideas about the role of tobacco, but no one was sure that it would grow as well in a cooler climate like Plymouth settlement as it did in the relative warmth of the Virginia area. Immediately, he assigned several men to scout the area for game so that we could begin to get some meat for the winter. Bradford had talked about how American native people had smoked meat to preserve it. The country teemed with deer, beaver, turkey, fish in fresh water rivers, otters, and a host of other creatures which could be hunted. Surely, food should not be a problem.
Andrew Kensington was still seething about the voyage to America that was taken away from him. He had done all the work on arranging to have his voyage underwritten by the East India Company. Shepherd, Harvey and I had gone over his head and called in the favor from King James who made our voyage possible by having us added on to the Cape Ann settlement voyage, which had both economic and now scientific purposes. Kensington’s plan for a tobacco, slave, rum triangle as part of his financial empire beginnings would have to wait for another investor, or for the East India Company to endorse it- something they had not yet been persuaded to do. We had convinced the King and The Dorchester Company that a settlement and a medical/scientific voyage would be more beneficial in the long run for England, especially as an increasing colonization of America held out huge potential as a new market for goods, and a raw material bonanza.
King James was not fond of tobacco as a crop, and that seemed to help sway our argument as well. Besides, it was becoming increasingly clear that the country that could populate the new American settlements with the most people would have an advantage over the others- the Dutch, Spaniards, and French. Finally, though Kensington was not aware, King James had wearied of Kensington’s poor reputation, and the King did not want any more connection with him than necessary.
Kensington decided that his revenge would come in several ways. First, he would put together another company to finance his plan for trade to America. The London and Western Trading Company thus came to be. He had contacts all over Europe, and he had already discussed his plans with a number of financiers. He had, of course, many contacts also in the shipping world, and it did not take him long to put this plan together, even without royal help or protection. Further, he came to believe that King James’ power was weakening, and he was going to continue to hasten that weakness with other mischief as he could.
His other revenge would be more personal. He would find ways to hurt Joseph Shepherd and me in any ways that he could. As for me, he would simply find ways to ensure, through his shipping contacts, that I would never again find employment on a ship as a ship’s physician. Whatever reputation I may have had would be ruined, or at least downgraded, if Kensington could have any say in it.
For Shepherd, it would be more sinister.
Late one evening, Oliver Craft and James Bidwell walked around the Franciscan mission asking if they could locate an old friend who, the morning before, had come up missing after a night of drinking. One of the senior friars bid them to come in from the crisp evening and warm themselves by the fire as he tried to locate a newcomer from that day. There had been several since the weather was turning cold in the evenings and nights, and the drinking always seemed to increase.
They were alone in a receiving room used to house overnight transients, and since it was still early in the evening, there were no occupants. Bidwell followed after the old friar, engaging him in conversation, and Craft took that opportunity to throw a flagon of oil into the fire. He trailed out a line of oil into a pile of rags, which he had soaked with the oil, and soon flames were snaking through the room. Craft then followed where Bidwell and the friar had gone into the main great room of the Mission. In the room he saw some children playing innocently in a corner. Some people began drifting into the room from their meager supper to prepare for the evening prayers and Bible story.
Craft caught up to Bidwell and the friar and said, “I found old Jack Merton just outside the Mission, we can be leaving now”, said Craft. With that Craft and Bidwell thanked the friar and hastily made their exit.
They had expected only to make some mischief for now. Had they wanted to burn down the mission, they would have done things differently. However, they did not know that the friars had just laid in a supply of brandy and had placed it in the receiving room until they could later bring it into the kitchen. The brandy, in wooden crates, caught fire quickly, and fire accelerated wildly into the adjoining room. One of the children smelled smoke and instinctively yelled “Fire!!” Some friars came running to find smoke and fire pouring into the great room. As Bidwell and Craft were walking down an adjacent alley, they saw the glow of a growing fire- something well beyond what they expected. The walk turned into a trot, then a full run as they slipped into the darkening evening.
At the mission chaos prevailed. Screaming children began to run. Some ran right into the receiving room, thinking it to be the fastest exit. Alarms rang out and townspeople began to get into a well-known drill for putting out fires. The residents of the mission began to run in all directions. Jacob Carr ran down the steps from his room and began to lead the children and the sickest residents out of a safe exit in the building rear. He then thought about Albert Adams. Albert had just had another of his fits, and he was fast asleep in the hospital ward. Carr grabbed a blanket from the storage area and soaked it in water. He threw the blanket over himself and went back in to the hospital ward. Patients who could walk were shuffling to the exit he pointed out to them. He saw one patient, an elderly man who was paralyzed, screaming for help. Fire was his worst nightmare, and it was happening right now to him. Carr grabbed the man up and slung him over his shoulder with a quick heave. He moved toward the exit, laid the man safely out of the way, and went back in. By now, smoke was enveloping the building. It was hard to see, and the smoke began to choke Carr. He went back in to the ward, and he saw Albert writhing on the ground in another fit. The noise, smoke and confusion must have set off another of those dreadful episodes.
Carr reached down and tried to lift Albert who was simply dead weight. With fire now closing in, and the smoke choking and blinding him, Carr decided to drag Albert out of the building. Carr saw flames lapping at his blanket, and he felt immense heat under it. The water had turned to steam and it was scalding Carr as he dragged Albert to safety.
Once outside, he asked if all had made it to safety. Margaret was tending to some children who had been burned. Many others were choking with smoke inhalation. Jacob doused his blanket once again for a return trip into the Mission. “No!” screamed Margaret, “you cannot go back in there”.
Jacob ignored her pleas. He knew that there were other people still trapped in the inferno that was rapidly no longer a mission but now crumbling rubble. He soaked the blanket in fresh water and went back in the building. The crowd comprising a bucket brigade was now concentrating on nearby buildings. They had learned that, at a certain point of a fire, saving the burning building was no longer the goal, but containment of the fire from spreading through the city.
Carr could barely see now inside the building which he had re-entered. He went to the hospital ward, believing that they were the most vulnerable at this point. He heard, somehow, the high pitched wail of a baby. He remembered that they had taken in an abandoned child just last week. A baby boy who had been left in the chapel, wrapped in a ragged blanket with a note that was nearly illegible that simply said “SAVE ME”
Carr made his way to the sound of the baby and scooped the boy up. He took off his blanket, wrapped the boy inside and stumbled his way to an exit. He dropped to the ground as he passed off the child to Margaret. Margaret screamed in terror. “He is on fire!” she screamed. A man with a bucket threw the full contents on Jacob and he smoldered as the flames went out.
Had he not passed out at that point, he would be screaming in pain as the crowd saw his burning flesh cling to the bits of clothing that remained on him. Two friars lifted him gently and moved him away from a gawking crowd. They were sickened as they smelled the burnt flesh of his back and legs. Other friars gathered around him and began to pray for his soul.
The mission continued to burn for another hour, but buildings nearby had been saved. Jacob Carr would not be saved.
London was stirred by the remarkable tragedy at the Franciscan Mission. Word quickly spread about the heroics of Jacob Carr in saving three people from the fire. There had been a growing awareness of the ways that the mission had expanded its role in caring for people, especially with the hospital which took in the sickest and poorest in London.
Kensington was outraged. Not so much because of the horrendous loss, but because it had been done in such a clumsy and reckless manner. A little fire in part of the building to disrupt and send a message was one thing, but being possibly tied to deaths, and destruction of a “poor house” would not be good for him or his new business.
Bidwell and Craft met with Robert “Red” Locker just outside the city, near a little hideaway they used to meet secretly, drink, and occasionally take a woman. Bidwell was shaken as he talked with Locker. Locker was a gruff, angry man who simply took care of what his boss, Andrew Kensington told him to take care of. Fiercely loyal to Kensington, he would make sure that Kensington would not be tied to this disastrous crime, no matter what it took.
“Did anybody see you other than that old friar?” Locker asked. “Maybe some kids in that great room” said Bidwell, but I don’t think they was really lookin’ at us” he said hesitantly. Craft added, “The one we need to worry about is that old friar” he said matter-of-factly. “I’ll take care of him” said Locker. “Now, you two scum need to get out of here”. “Where do we go?” they asked. Lord Kensington is putting you two on a ship next week headed to America. You will be deck hands on the trip, then when you get to America, you are on your own. You are lucky that he didn’t tell me to just kill you right now.”
Bidwell was chilled to the bone as he heard this. He knew that such things could, and had, happened before, so he indeed did feel lucky. Craft on the other hand was not as grateful. “We was just doing what he wanted us to do, now he wants to send us to a strange land to let us rot!” he said. “You are too stupid to even know what you did wrong” countered Locker. “If you don’t want the deal just let me know now” Locker said. Craft was silent, recognizing that resisting this deal would indeed be fatal. “Just tell us where to meet the ship” said Craft in a resigned tone. “You’ll stay here until next week”, said Locker. “We will send someone for you.”
Margaret was devastated in her grief over the loss of Jacob Carr. She had, of course known him for several years, but in the past year, she came to know the new Jacob Carr- a man transformed. He was kind, loving, selfless, and dedicated to his new mission in life. He and Margaret had cared for the poorest of London’s rabble together, and in the process, fell deeply in love. Margaret did not know where to turn. The Franciscan Mission was gone, and people who were cared for there seemed to vanish back into the streets of London. The friars, demoralized, decided to return to their home province in Ypres, France. The atmosphere in France was much more welcoming than England, and they saw that, perhaps, God was calling them back to a more receptive land, even though all would agree that God had worked through them to serve the people of London. That time was now apparently passed, and they voted to return to Ypres.
Margaret felt responsible for Albert Adams. Jacob had lost his life saving Albert and that little baby from the fire. Margaret decided that she would give a legacy to Jacob by providing for Albert and that baby. How she would do that, she did not know, but she felt deeply that this was her mission now. Margaret had prevailed upon an old friend from the Boar’s Head Pub to provide a place to stay for her, Albert, and the baby, now renamed Jacob. She had heard that there was a ship leaving for America in the next few weeks. She decided that, since many people were deciding that a new start in America was possible, she would do just that, despite the tremendous challenges it posed. She also had no idea how this trip could possibly happen, but she trusted that God did, so she prayed a simple prayer- “God, if you want me to go to America, and if you want me to take care of Albert and Jacob, please find a way for me.”
Edwin Carr sought out Margaret. He knew that she loved his late brother, and he felt that he needed to speak with her. She had been the last person to talk with him, and he really did not know much about his brother after his conversion. He wanted to know.
Friar Theodore, the elder friar who had brought Craft and Bidwell into the Mission, was preparing to move the Franciscans to Ypres in the next few weeks. He went to the Boar’s Head and inquired about Margaret, Albert, and Jacob. He was directed to the home of Emma Stone. Emma seemed to be the person whom everyone knew. She was aware of people, places and things that others had no idea about. “If you want to know, ask Emma”, seemed to be the wisdom among people of London’s East side.
“Sure, I know where Margaret is” said Emma. “Staying at Mother Rose’s. She takes in the girls when they get old or tired or sick. Margaret is a fine young woman, I don’t care what people says!” “I just directed Edwin Carr there, do you know him?” Friar Theodore began to weep. “I knew his brother, Jacob. I would love to see him.” “Well, hurry along!” said Emma and you’ll see them both.
Friar Theodore headed to Mother Rose’s place. As he was walking up the alley to her door he was accosted by a red haired man. Locker walked quickly behind the old friar, took out a knife and jabbed it into Theodore’s back. Friar Theodore stumbled and fell down quickly- so quickly that his feet tangled with Locker and Locker fell heavily on top of him. Just then, Edwin Carr turned a corner and saw the scene. The old Friar was moaning, with blood oozing from his back. Locker scrambled to his feet intent upon raining a death blow on the old friar. Carr picked up a loose cobblestone and hurled it at the attacker. He at least wanted to distract the attacker until he could get closer to intervene. In fact, the stone caught Locker on his shoulder and he screamed in pain. By now Carr was at Locker and he jumped straight at him. Locker was stunned by the stone and in obvious pain. He was no match for the enraged Edwin Carr. Carr punched him in the wounded shoulder to knock him down. He then made quick work of him with a kick to the face, then a kick to his mid-section, and a final kick to his head. Locker was not moving after the final kick.
Carr moved to the wounded friar. He had been fortunate that the stab in his back was high and to his upper right back. While it was indeed painful and bloody, if was not fatal. Given the old man’s age however, it was serious. Carr took him to Mother Rose’s house where he met Mother Rose, Margaret, Albert and little Jacob. Mother Rose knew what to do. She had dressed much worse wounds in her day, and she had seen plenty of street fights. “I will care for the friar” she said. I know you want to talk with Margaret”, she said to Edwin Carr.
Margaret talked at length to Edwin about his remarkable brother, his selfless acts of heroism, and finally of her love for him. Edwin was moved and he sat silent for a long while. He felt guilt over not knowing his changed brother. His only memories were of the man people knew as a schemer and thug. While Edwin never saw much of the criminal traits of Jacob- he did not want to see them- he also felt cheated out of knowing this wonderful person his brother had become. He finally spoke. “Margaret”, he said “I am sailing for America in the next two weeks. I am sure this is probably a shock for you, but I would like to take you, Albert and little Jacob on that trip. I can make all the arrangements. It would be a new start for you”
Margaret was stunned. She quickly composed herself and said simply, “I accept your kind offer”. She then asked Albert Adams about this large decision. Albert was alert this day, having one of his good days where he had some energy. He smiled at Margaret and said simply, “There is a verse from the book of Ruth which states ‘whither thou goest, I go also’”.