Marguerite: The Rebel

By Olivia Reed

 (Someone in their lesson entries said, what if Marguerite, in Calico Bush by Rachel Field, were a rebel, what would her fate be, what kind of life would she lead?  This story comes out of these questions, and takes place in the future at current year.)
 

 1743 and a fine June morning.  Blue water, wind from the southwest, and Marquerite Ledoux taking her last sight of Marblehead as she crouched at the low railing of the Isabella B.  Farther astern she could see Amos Hunt, master and owner of the Isabella B, at the tiller, with Joel Sargent and his brother, Ira, handling ropes or helping to stow their goods more compactly.  Nearer at hand Joel's wife, Dolly Sargent, was seated on an old wooden chest, her eyes also straining against the strong seas sunshine till the last familiar headland should be out of sight.  Four small children clustered about her, and a baby filled her broad lap.  In her full, brown homespun dress and scoop bonnet, Marquerite thought she looked mightily like one of the hens in their coop up forward.  But of this resemblance she said(Field,2)

 "Why should I resemble a hen?"  Marquerite jumped forward startling the children on her left.  They scuttled around her resembling the chicks, more than Marquerite wanted to admit.  She was supposed to be bound help- her family unable to keep her, and these Sargent people needing her slave labor to raise their own children.  She was a nanny.  Marquerite had grown up a native of Maine and after high school could not afford college.  Her family had lost all of their money in the stock market after 9/11/2001 when the planes had crashed through the Trade Center Towers.  She was on a boat, heading from the New York mainland to Easthampton- guaranteed wages, and a guest house, and a nightmare from here on out.  I am getting off this boat and running as fast as I can.  I will find a place to stay the night and then sort through my options.  Not letting this thought escape as it would be useless at this point, while stuck on a boat with the Sargents, she nevertheless could not keep from running the vision of Dolly screaming after her, "But who will do the morning feedings?"  Surely Dolly wouldn't-she was of too high a rank to fulfill her child's need before her own; beauty sleep definitely ranked higher than hungry bellies of young children.  The Sargents had moved from the British Isles to Easthampton because of some investment, or merge, or something similar; Marquerite had read in Money , the magazine, while waiting for the chaffeur to arrive and pick her up from the terminal in La Guardia. 
 Marquerite knew that this nanny position would lead her nowhere, but keep her safe; still unknowledgeable by the end.  She wanted excitement, she felt it as the wind rushed around her skirt at the airport.  She hated skirts, but her mother had warned her to dress appropriately in order to impress the Sargents.  Marquerite's mother, Francis, had grown up in Maine, with a rich Acadian heritage behind her.  Her family had made their money in agriculture, yet she knew, that in order for Marquerite to make it on her own, she would need to surrender herself for a few years, in hope of advancement or finding another suitable job in New York.  Francis knew that New York was the only place people could still make money these days. 
 The ferry boat captain, Mr. Poplin, called for the passengers to look ahead, and keep their hands in as they would be docking momentarily.  Marquerite looked for the bathroom sign and excused herself from Dolly Sargent's presence.  Dolly, all of a sudden awake from her daydream of herself in her sauna, basking in silence.  Her children were pulling at her from all directions, excited to be home and to introduce their new nanny to their dog, Quincy, who was at home awaiting everyone diligently, while pulling up the new petunias planted by the gardener in the backyard; really, Quincy could care less if the four children ever made it back. 
 Locking the door behind her, Marquerite decided on her plan.
 
 
 
 

     *********

"Marquerite, dear, are you all right?"  Dolly was straining to be polite, because at this point, she was ready to get off the ferry, wet her appetite with some brandy and be alone.  Currently the children were running ahead, she ran after them, forgetting about Marguerite and her position in life. 
 Marquerite opened the door so that she could see that most everyone had filed off the boat.  As the passengers were filing off, new passengers were coming on for the return trip to the mainland, to New York City.  Marquerite knew this is where the chaffeur had driven through, although having never been there herself she couldn't be absolutely sure.  Someone knocked on the door.
 "Hang on, almost done." Marquerite didn't know if these were the right words for etiquette, but her nerve was failing and with it, her brain. 
 

    **********************

Dolly looked around, having not seen Marquerite, since, o, she wasn't even sure when she had lost sight of the new nanny.  All of a sudden, the day seemed so long, and little Eva was once again asking to be picked up.  The daylight waning, and sunset filling in the shadows of her mind, she decided to phone her housekeeper and see if the new nanny had gotten her own cab there.  Dolly wasn't sure what the customs of Northern Maine were, she decided there couldn't be too many, but maybe Marquerite had gotten lost in the emptying of the Isable and now found her own way to their estate.  She had the address.  Dolly was sure she had given Marquerite the address.  Where does the name Marquerite come from after all?  It sounds so old.  Not good for a new live-in nanny- to introduce to all of our debutante friends, we'll have to change that.  She could be Margaret, or better, Maggie, or we could pick something altogether new.  I'll have to bring that up, I'm sure Marquerite hasn't thought of it. 
 "Yes, Debbie, is Maggie there?"
 "Whom, madam?"
 "Oh, the new nanny, I assumed she got her own car to the house, as I have lost sight of her.  The kids and I are a few houses out, almost home, thank god.  This day has been exhausting!"
 "I will keep my eye out for another car, but I haven't seen her yet."
With that they disconnected their cell phones and Dolly's attention was again thrown to her offspring. 
 
 

     ***********

 Marquerite stepped off the ferry, she was back on the mainland, free to go anywhere she wanted.  She had some money in her bag, and in her pockets, her mother made sure she separated her cash in case something got stolen, but no idea where she should head.  From the ferry terminal she turned left onto Wheaton Street.  She needed a job, she couldn't survive without a job.  Yet, she knew what she didn't want as a job.  Nothing with kids, that had been her mother's idea.  In truth, Marquerite hated kids. 
 She passed a Help Needed sign posted in the North End Fish Market sales door.  She had never dealt with fish before, potatoes bring more her thing, but she figured she could learn.  She talked to Joe, very briefly, he telling her that her size couldn't make the job.  As she opened the door to leave she suddenly felt alone, in a new world, aware of her differences.  She was a 18 year old girl from Maine with agricultural roots.  How was she to fit in here?  Being naïve enough to not even consider the violence of the city, she continued on, her skirt blowing around her knees.  She put on the blue Patagonia fleece jacket she had in her bag.  She walked into a boutique that looked like it sold clothing she had never even thought of wearing before, mainly because of the number on the price tag.  She inquired about a job, but the look that the woman at the counter gave her made her certain her clothing, speech, and manners were not equivalent or even close to those needed to sell clothing at "Le Fille Boutique."  Marquerite knew enough to know that their French was way off.  Unless they were trying to sound like "filly" : young horse, and such, young lady.  She didn't think New York would require this much translation. 
 The wind was really starting to blow, so much, that Marquerite felt more uncomfortable in her skirt now, then when she first met Dolly Sargent, whom she hadn't thrown a thought to the wind about since last seeing her backside on the ferry.  She ducked into a Polynesian restaurant and asked to use the ladies room.  The hostess quietly mentioned that she would need to be a customer to use their restroom, at which  Marquerite remembered that she was in fact starving and starting to feel run down.  She put her bag at a table assigned by the hostess and as the water glass was being filled and her silverware laid out, she excused herself and went into the ladies room.  Walking in, she knew she was in trouble; instead of paper towels there were real towels, and instead of automatic faucets, there were gold inlaid individual water basins.  She slipped into the bathroom and closed the door.  An overwhelming feeling came over her as she pulled on black slacks, thinking these, these pants, might make her look professional enough to get a job.  Sitting back down at the table, she opened her menu and knew that all she could afford was a small appetizer, water, and a meager tip.  At least it was something.  She got rice wrapped in grape leaves with something else in them, she couldn't discern what, and spritzer.  She hoped spritzer was water; she was also quite thirsty by this time. 
 
 
 

    *****
 Back out on the street, she turned right onto Bay Street and found a fruit stand where she bought an orange from someone, she thought, was of Cuban descent.  So many flavors, and colors, here she thought.  He asked her for her name, she called back Misty as she left, fleeting like the mist that rises around the ocean in Maine.  She missed Maine, but also knew she must make use of her opportunity at being in New York City. 
 Her one saving grace was going to be at the end of the night, she knew she could always call her cousin Caleb, whom her mother's side of the family disassociated with long ago, but Marquerite remembered that Caleb was around her age and knew through the family wire that he had made it in advertising in the city.  She carried his phone number with her. Maybe she should call him now, not save it for later.  It was Saturday, maybe he was home, and could give her some pointers on job hunting.  She felt she needed a retail job, wasn't sure selling what, but she knew she could sell people anything.  Marguerite had that kind of personality that made you want to be close to her, yet leave, feeling richer.  She wasn't sure where she got it from, but even the farmstand regulars at home left, feeling like they had just been handed their cucumbers with a bit of grace, something special.  They usually left whistling.
 "Hello" A gruff male voice answered.
 "Hi, this is your cousin, Marguerite, sorry to bother you, but I am on Bay Street, slightly lost, and wondered if you had time to help me."  Marguerite squeaked all of the words into one sentence because she knew a) she didn't have much time on the payphone, and b) if he would hang up. 
 "I don't have a cousin named Marguerite, who is this?"
 Marguerite stammered through some family geneaology and tried to bring up some childhood stories to get Caleb to remember her.  It worked, but had a twist.
 "Marguerite, where did you say you were?"
 Looking up, she sighted the number, " Bay Street, by 78th street."
 "I'll be right down, wait there, but try not to look like you're working the corner."
 Marguerite laughed, thinking he was joking, and said ok and hung up the phone.  She decided it would be better to pace and look like she was going somewhere than to just stand in one place.  What does Caleb look like? Am I  going to know him just by the way he approaches me?  How will he know me? All of a sudden, she was not so sure that she was actually going to be rescued. 
 A yellow car appeared at her side.  A young, gorgeous guy had his head out the window.  "Hop in," he said, not getting out of the cab.
 "Who's your second cousin's aunt?"  Marquerite called in response, for safety measures. 
 "Aunt Milly."  He replied without thinking.  She got in.  They gave each other hugs sitting next to each other in the back of the cab and Caleb told the cab driver where to take them. 
 Marguerite and Caleb talked a mile a minute, each knowing slightly more than the other would admit to. 
 "Why are you here?"
 "Oh, my god, I had completely forgotten about the morning! I was supposed to nanny for a  family in East Hampton, but they were horrible, and I was beginning to feel like the slaves brought over in ships from hundreds of years ago.  I bailed and walked around, then remembered you, and here I am."
 So naïve he thought, but still here she was and he wanted nothing else.  He had loved this girl since he was five, proposed to her then, in fact, giving her a ring made of flowers.  He didn't think she would remember.  He also knew that she didn't know he was not her cousin.  In fact, he was a close friend of her cousin Andrew and their family had raised him from a young age after his parents were tragically killed. 
 They walked the two flights of stairs into Caleb's apartment.  Marguerite was pleased to be welcomed into her cousin's home so quickly and fully.  Her day was ending well, even though she had no idea what she would do tomorrow.  She supposed she would have to catch a bus home with her remaining funds. 
 "Marguerite, will you come sit down so we can talk?"  Caleb asked as he handed her a glass of lemon water. 
 "Sure, what's up, oh."  Suddenly aware that she was probably a huge inconvenience to his day and sitting here in this apartment was probably inappropriate. "Hey, Caleb, I'm sorry I just showed up, I will figure out how to get home as soon as possible."
 "No, Marguerite, you know, I was just going to tell you how happy I am that you appeared today.  It made my day, really.  I have no plans, and we can just hang out, go through stories, like old times."
 A wash of warmth flooded over Marguerite's head.  Of course she remembered.  They used to have childhood crushes on each other, and chase each other around the grandparent's farm in Maine.  She looked over at him now, studying him while he turned on the stereo, to provide noise for awkward moments.  He was six feet tall, or thereabouts, dark hair, wearing glasses; good looking, after all. He had had a gawky moment in his youth that she hoped he would grow out of, but hadn't seen him in a few years. 
 "Marguerite, I'm not your cousin.  I'm only a friend of Andrew's.  Not his brother.  My real parents died when I was very young and the Dube's raised me, even though officially I was a ward of the court until I turned eighteen.  Now, I am just on my own, though with the support of the Dube's of course."  He spilled this all out and waited.  And waited.  He hoped it would  provide an immediate response on her part, in the event of a hug, he wished. 
 "So, what are you, relating to me, then?"
 " A long lost friend who asked you to marry me when you were five."
 "What did I say?"
 "You kissed me."
 The moment had been led up to and Marguerite's world had been turned around so much that her smile and lean in were all he needed.  He kissed her back, as if he were five, tentatively.  Then he felt her wrap her arms around his broad shoulders and smiled through a stronger kiss.  She had found her place÷÷÷
    ÷÷she still needed a job, but that could happen tomorrow.

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