The rest of the evening Jenkins and Edward got along well. Edward learned that Thaddeus Jenkins, his wife Isabel, and their daughter Sarah moved to Wilmington just a few years earlier from Annapolis, Maryland. Jenkins was successful in Annapolis as a merchant. He said that competition from other businesses in town was getting stiff as Annapolis’ popularity grew, so he decided he would do well by being one of the first merchants in Wilmington. Isabel, he told Edward, was not keen on the idea of moving to “the backwoods,” knowing that Wilmington lacked culture and fashion and the grand parties for which Annapolis was famous. But she soon grew to like the idea of being one of the grand dames of Wilmington’s burgeoning society, and within a few years, was as busy as ever with activities that helped make the town a more delightful place to live – and a more profitable town for her husband, Jenkins winked.
Jenkins was not as forthcoming about his daughter as Edward would have hoped over supper, but he did not discourage Edward, either. By the end of the evening, Edward was at least sure that Sarah was not betrothed to anyone. He escorted Jenkins back to the wharf and to his schooner. A dim light could be seen hanging on deck, and one down below glowed through a porthole. Aboard were two men, one man in a pale shirt and tattered pants working on repairing the torn sail. The other lounged against an oak barrel. His wide-brimmed hat was tilted on his bowed head, and his arms were crossed over his burley chest. He offered no help to his companion, and despite his apparent advancing years, his physique was that of a strong man.
“Many thanks to you Edward, for the meal. We shall set sail with the tide, which the man there tells me is at dawn,” Jenkins pointed to the man who rested against the barrel. “Surely you know the tides here better than I do, so I will expect you to join us early to guide us up the river.”
“I assume your man knows these waters well. I will be here to offer any assistance I can,” Edward said, bowing slightly. “King Moore’s plantation is off the main river and the passage is narrow. It is an easy sail from here. I will see you at dawn.”
Edward watched Jenkins totter up the wooden ramp to his schooner, and then board with a little help from the man in the wide hat. Edward then headed back toward home. From the looks of the man Jenkins suggested was the captain, Edward was more settled in his answer as to why Jenkins thought better to not bring Sarah along.
Laura S. Wharton has been a freelance writer since 1990. She has published over 500 magazine feature articles, CD-Roms for the travel industry featuring fictitious characters who help tell the stories of historic coastal cities such as Charleston, New Orleans, St. Augustine, and Savannah, and numerous articles and columns for newspapers. Her debut novel, The Pirate’s Bastard is published by Second Wind Publishing. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Visit her blog, http://laurawharton.blogspot.com/, for more information.