Sarah the Bold
By: Eileen Lettick
“Wake up, child,” came a loud voice. “Are you dead?”
Is it morning already? Sarah wondered. Why is Daddy waking me? I didn’t hear the alarm.
“I don’t want to get up,” Sarah rolled over.
“On your feet, child!” Startled at the sound of an unfamiliar voice, Sarah opened her eyes. Looming above her stood a burly man in a strange outfit. A tri-cornered black hat covered his full white wig, and he wore a tattered, long, dark coat. On his feet were a pair of scuffed black shoes with tarnished brass buckles. In one hand he held a glowing lantern that illuminated his face. In his other hand, he held a thick stick. He poked her.
“On your feet, child!” the man shouted.
“W-W-What?” Sarah stared up at the man. “Who are you?”
“I’m Jacob Dredge, the town watchman, and this settlement does not tolerate runaway servants. Now, where are your quarters?”
“I-I-I don’t understand. What’s going on?” She shivered and reached for her jacket pockets. There were no pockets. “Where’s my jacket? What’s this?” she said, looking at her clothes and finding herself dressed in a blue, calf-length, aproned dress and a scarlet cloak. She lifted the front panel of her outfit. “I’m dressed like that doll! Where’s my bedroom? Where am I?”
Frantic, she raised her hands to her head. Her fingers slid over a tight cloth cap. “Ouch!” She winced when she discovered a large bump on the crown of her head. “What’s going on, mister? Why are we dressed like this?” Sarah said, motioning to their outfits.
“Do not be rude to me, girl, I’ll—”.”
“But I didn’t mean to—”
Dredge grabbed Sarah’s arm. “I’ll find your master and have you thrashed!”
Sarah twisted and pulled her arm free. “My master? I don’t have a … Where’s my bedroom? Where are my parents? Where am I?” Sarah whimpered.
“Where are your quarters, child!” Dredge bellowed.
Sarah’s body stiffened as her eyes darted in every direction. Am I dreaming? she wondered. She stared at Dredge.
“Well, child, are you going to tell me where your quarters are or not? Out with it! I have my rounds to make!”
“W-W-Where am I? I was in my bedroom, and now…and now you’re here. This can’t be happening. Stuff like this doesn’t happen.” Sarah shook her head back and forth in disbelief. “If this is a dream, I need to wake up, now!”
Dredge threw back his shoulders and put his hands on his hips. “In the name of King George and all the good settlers of Guilford, I command you to declare your quarters!”
“Huh?” Sarah rose, unsteady on her feet. “My quarters? I don’t have any money, mister,” she said as she backed away from him and held out upturned palms. Dredge leaned forward and gave her a menacing look.
“Now wait, mister, we can figure this out. There’s no need to—” Sarah said, backing up. “Just keep away from me.” A dark scowl crossed the watchman’s face.
“Stubborn, eh? I’ll waste no time with a runaway. Your master will deal with you on the morrow, and I will enjoy seeing you thrashed. Now move!” he shouted, grabbing her collar and shoving her forward. Sarah stumbled.
“Stop it! Get your hands off me! Somebody, call the police! Ahhhh!” Sarah screamed at the top of her lungs and began to run. The watchman lunged, dropped his club, scooped her up with one hand, and planted her firmly on his hip.
“Put me down! Somebody, help me!” Sarah kicked and screamed. She grabbed at the watchman’s face and hair and pushed his wig down onto his forehead. When his right hand came up to protect himself, Sarah sunk her teeth into it.
“Ooh!” Dredge yanked his hand away. “So, you want to be treated like a dog, eh!” Dredge smacked her across her right ear and flung her onto the ground. After tugging his hair back into place, he grabbed his club and charged at her.
Thwack! Crack! Dredge smashed Sarah’s shoulder. She jumped backward and he swung again. She ducked and covered her head. “Help! Someone, help me!”
The watchman sneered. “No one is going to help you! No one would dare!” Dredge scrunched up his face and tore Sarah’s cap off her head. He grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked hard. Sarah screamed louder.
“Now, you’ll be coming with me,” he said through clenched teeth. Dropping his lantern, he grabbed Sarah’s hair with his left hand. With his other, he jabbed and prodded her forward with his club.
Special thanks to Eileen Lettick for providing us this excerpt from her wonderful book.