The Georgia Belle slipped her moorings, separating Julia and Abraham.
|[Introduction] Letters exchanged between Abraham, a sea captain on a voyage on the Georgia Belle, and his young wife, Julia, who awaits his return. The year is 1863.|
I find myself, and the Georgia Belle, in calm waters and so I will take this time to write to you. As I look at the ocean that separates us, I see your eyes in the azure waves, eyes I miss already, and I have been gone only two days. Yesterday, the Georgia Belle slipped into the swift, warm waters of the Gulf Stream, the strong southerly current shall bring us swiftly to Jamaica, where I will post this letter to you. I pray it finds you well.
I have not forgotten our discussion on the morning of my departure, no, in fact I have mulled it in my mind from the moment we parted. When I awoke in our bedroom that morning I listened to your soft voice as you sang that sad song, and I knew it was not a happy time for you. My love, leaving you behind when I go to sea is a sad time for me as well. Watching you as you packed my sea trunk, your soft, lovely form barely hidden beneath your night dress, reminded me of how much I would miss you during the five months of my absence. I decided right then that this would indeed by my last voyage
Walking arm in arm to the wharf that morning I saw the Georgia Belle as she lay at anchor in the harbor, her tall masts darkened against the grey dawn sky. For the first time ever I did not want to board because it meant leaving you. I watched the thin glimmer of the coming sunrise edge the horizon as it beckoned a new day, a day I would not spend with you. Knowing I would depart from you so soon caused my heart to beat furiously against my chest in confirmation that I could not leave you again after the completion of this voyage.
I remember feeling your warm breath on my cheek as we hugged, and the warmth in your eyes as you pulled my coat tight across my chest to keep out the cold. It is those small things that I will miss more than any other while I'm away from you. I will miss not knowing the result of our little secret until such time as a post from you finds me. I want to look ahead in wonder and awe of what we may have done, what our love may have created. But I fear the strong disappointment if we are wrong, or too earlier with our hopes. I pray for a happy surprise.
As the Georgia Belle slipped her birth and rode the tide into the rising sun, I looked back and watched your solitary figure as you returned home, a home I would not see for many days. I will count the days until the Georgia Belle sets sail with a westerly heading.
Be well my dear Julia.
|Abraham, my love,|
What longing I have for you. Your letter brings warmth as it softens the sadness I feel in your absence. Not a minute passes during the day that you are not in my thoughts, so often I can at times feel you by my side. I imagine you being here as I read your words in our special place. Though we are far apart at present, my heart is with you every moment.
I cannot get our last night together out of my mind. I remember your gentle caress and loving embrace, holding me as if you would never let me go. My dearest, I prayed the night would have no end keeping you here by my side. Alas, a hint of daylight peeked through the window dressing and my prayer had gone unanswered. I pray now for your secure return and have no fear the Georgia Belle with her angels will guide you safely home.
My darling husband, the sea came before me and it will always be in your heart. It is a part of who you are your passion, your first love. It was your passion and your desire that attracted me and shall be henceforth. I do not feel the sea your mistress, due your devotion to me, our marriage and our future. To hold you daily and feel your sweet tenderness knowing you are safe on dry ground, would delight me indeed. Though please know it is your happiness I wish.
To help ease your mind, it will gratify you to know that my cousin Martha and her husband, John frequently check on me. It is reassuring to have support from family and friends. Others drop by now and again to share a meal sometimes and companionship other times. Please take comfort knowing I am well cared for while you are away at sea.
My apology as this post does not bring with it any news regarding our secret, good or bad. Only time will tell my love and we have time.
I pray calm and happy seas for you, my dearest husband and the crew of Georgia Belle throughout this journey. I look forward to your homecoming and the possibilities that await us.
Be safe my beloved,
|My dear Julia,|
The Georgia Belle stood at anchor for two days in Port Maria in Jamaica. It was by good fortune that I met Captain Oracle James of the Southern Star, which he sails from our home port of Savannah to Port Oracabessa in Jamaica. He has agreed to carry back with him my last letter, as well as a gift I purchased for you in Trinity Town. I pray you will like it. I saw your eyes sparkle in the palms of my hands as I held the blue sapphires; the gems held even the same soft moistness that I see in yours. I look forward to seeing them dangle from your delicate ears.
Our stay in Jamaica proved profitable. Our hold is filled with coffee beans, the finest in the world, I’m told. If the aroma that stains the air is an indication, then it is indeed so. I journeyed into the Blue Mountains where the coffee is grown on large, lush, plantations. The owners live in exquisite mansions cooled by the salted, sea air that rushes through deep valleys.
One night as I stood at one of those magnificent mansions I looked back at the ships dancing at anchor in the darkening water of the bay far below me. Their torch lights shimmering in the darkness appeared as if pearls had been strung in the ships rigging. I look forward to the day when we will share these scenes, holding tight to each other, as we gaze upon the beauties of the world. I look forward to when you will take my hand and follow me to the places I’ve seen.
As night falls I am ensconced in my cabin on the Georgia Belle. Loneliness fills my heart tonight, Julia; it is heavy as if encased in lead. As I watch the mountains of Jamaica recede, now a jagged, dark scar against the grey dusk, I feel the distance between us growing further. I look forward to the day my window provides a view that brings me nearer to you, my love.
As darkness gathers in my cabin I think of you, at home, preparing for bed. I imagine your soft skin still warm and pink from the hot water of your bath, the lavender scent of your perfume swirling around your soft body, the whisper of silk as your night gown falls over your warm flesh and hints at the sensual secrets that you save for me. I wait eagerly to take your hand and follow you into the intimacy of the private world we share—into the sublime.
Until that day comes, my dear Julia, I have the image of you etched into my heart. Your soft blue eyes, the curly tendrils of your chestnut hair as it flows to your shoulders, the flawless softness of your skin, and of course the satin smoothness of your lips pressed softly to mine, your wrists crossed behind my neck hugging me to your warmth.
Good night my sweet Julia, sleep well.
|My dearest, Abraham,|
As the war draws near Savannah, I fear for your safety. This is certain to be old news by the time you receive this post but I would not feel I have done right if I did not mention the details. My love, with the war near, it appears the Union blockade is strangling every port and large ports like Savannah are heavily manned by the Union. To get in, many ships dock in the dark of night with only moonlight as their guide. It is so very dangerous, Abraham. It would be dreadful that you could make it to Jamaica and back only to be harmed so close to home. My prayers are with you for a safe voyage back into my loving arms.
Twice daily, at dawn and dusk, I make my way to our sanctuary under the grand oak tree that overlooks the beautiful blue sea you love. It is peaceful here, Abraham, allowing me to imagine you in faraway places. The only sounds are those of the crashing waves as they break on the jetties down below, while seagulls sing and delicately hang in the salty sea air. Sitting under the old oak overlooking the sea is where I feel your presence most, remembering the many deep passionate moments we have shared here. It is here, my love, I wait for the day to see the Georgia Belle on the horizon, carrying you safely home to me.
My love, I, too know the depths of loneliness you expressed in your letter. I share the anguish you feel and the break in my heart. As I lay alone in bed, I place my head upon your pillow, where the scent of you still lingers, I imagine the pillow is your chest and feel your heart beat near my face. I can feel you here with me, our bodies warming the bed. Under the glow of candle light, I close my eyes and hear you whispering to me; I feel your trail of moist kisses down the nape of my neck and décolletage, as your strong arms gently but with force pull me closer to your desire.
The day will soon arrive when we will walk the wharf, arm in arm, to our home, my dear Abraham and the deep pit of loneliness we feel will be but a distant memory. Until then, I, too, have an image of you etched in my heart. Your mysterious brown eyes, your light brown curls that frame your attractive face with your strong loving arms that swoop me up and carry me to our home.
Be well, my love,
|My darling Julia,|
I had hoped, no I prayed, that news of the blockade would not reach you. You last letter was filled with a fear I had hoped you would never feel. The news in Jamaica is sometimes nothing more than bravado of those blockade runners who have successfully made their way to southern ports with needed cargo. Sadly, the reports of the blockade runners who have been caught are filled with anguish.
I have been told that not only the ship’s crew is taken prisoner, but also any passenger that cannot prove English citizenship is arrested as well. The conditions in the northern prisons, especially Fort Hamilton, in New York Harbor, are deplorable. Typhoid, dysentery, and dehydration have taken many prisoner’s lives.
The Georgia Belle is fast, the keel has been altered to make her more maneuverable than most ships her size. You should see her slide through the water when we practice tacking, a maneuver we will use often during our crossing. Union boats will not keep up with the Belle. But I won’t fill you with false bragging. We will need to be careful, very careful, on our return to Savannah. My many years of experience on the sea will be tested.
In two days we sail for the Bahamas where we will take on a cargo of medical supplies for our brave soldiers. The need is strong and worth the danger. I will meet an experienced blockade runner in a small village there. His name is Fletcher Rowe, an Englishman who has strong feelings against Lincoln. I believe English wounds remain raw even after so much time has passed since the Revolutionary War. I’m told it is Rowe's wish that the south succeed in this horrid affair so than an end to America’s independence can be celebrated by the English. My efforts are directed more at helping soldiers that need medical help than in the political side of this war.
My darling, Julia, do not worry over the danger I will face when I cross into the coast of America. I have the greatest reason to be safe and make it through, the reason is you. I imagine seeing you, arms outstretched, ready to draw me to you bosom, your shining blue eyes, your beautiful smile. That you are there, waiting, is all I need. Our love will serve as a beacon to guide me to you. My breath quickens when I think of you lying next to me, the world held at bay for the longest moment, as our love is reignited again. The thought of your softness pressed to me excites me beyond words.
You have not mentioned our secret, am I to think it is not to be? God has chosen our course, my love. We must be content with two sets of foot prints until He decides the time is right. The fruit of our love will come at the proper time. Until then it will be you and I, together, held in tight embrace by our love.
I know that soon I will join you at home. I have been away far too long, and I have no desire to leave you behind again.
I long to walk next to you, side by side. I hunger to lay with you, our hearts beating together in wild rhythm. At night I look into the heavens and see the same moon that hangs above you. I imagine you at our home, your long chestnut hair flowing to your shoulders. I imagine the beauty of your smile, and the warmth of your love.
Forgive me if I am too forward, but I can’t help but be brazen when I think of you.
Sleep well my love, and prepare for my return to you.
Please forgive my manners as I failed to acknowledge the stunning gift Captain Oracle James delivered with your last post. My darling, the sapphire earrings are dazzling and I understand why you were drawn to them as the color of my eyes is a near perfect match. They dangle from my ears each day, a beautiful reminder of the handsome Captain who takes my breath away and fills my life with joy.
My dearest, as for our secret, I am afraid it will not remain ours much longer. Cousin Martha has questioned me recently but I am reserved and do not give a straight answer. Upon your return, you will see a change in my silhouette, one I hope that pleases you. Oh, Abraham, I am bursting with joy and at the same time I am weighted with sadness as I had hoped you would be holding me in your arms upon hearing this news.
Please forgive me for neglecting our secret in my last post but at that time, I was not certain. Recently however, Dr. Roux has confirmed I am enceinte but, most important he believes this to be more promising than the last and feels certain to be carried to term. This time, there will be another set of footprints in the sand, Abraham. Isn’t this wonderful? How I long to see your expression right now and get lost in your warm embrace as we enjoy this gift. Emotions swell as I imagine you alone; tears fill my eyes, staining this letter as they roll from my cheeks. It pains me, dearest, to be so far from you, unable to comfort you, hold you and kiss away your sadness. I imagine you reacting to this wonderful news in much the same way I am, joyful but with a heavy heart. I pray this news will lift your spirits and fill the gap between us with a renewed happiness. We made a life, Abraham, a life we will nurture and love, a tie that binds us forever.
You are so kind to think of our soldiers and transport the much needed medical supplies from the Bahamas to their need. Your compassionate and thoughtful heart, your ability to think of others before yourself and your passion for the sea are just a few of the many reasons why I fell deeply in love with you. You are a good man, Abraham, a genuine, kind soul, a rare find among men. It makes me proud to call you my husband, my friend and, shall I be so bold to say, my lover, too. It is your turn, now, to forgive my brazen words however true love is unbridled, so shall be my feelings.
It consoles me to know that you are an experienced Captain, a master at your craft. It consoles me to know the Georgia Belle is fast, however, there is little consolation knowing the conditions you would be subjected to should the Georgia Belle dance, unsuccessfully with the Union boats. This is my earnest plea, Abraham. I am begging you to please, please be ever so cautious and vigilant. I need you to come home to me, Abraham; I need you, now more than I have ever needed you, safe and sound in my loving arms, beside me every day and night.
My love, preparing for your return began the day the Georgia Belle sailed into the sea with you in command. My thoughts are consumed with little else except, of course, baby Abraham. I look forward to our home being alive with untamed passion and captivating conversation, drowning the silence and eliminating the loneliness I experience every day you are not here.
I miss your laughter and your mischievous, school boy smile that bears just a hint of devil in your beautiful brown eyes, giving away your intentions. I miss your gentle touch on my bare skin, tracing every inch of me as if it were the first time. I imagine your hand as it glides tenderly over the roundness of my belly feeling the life move within. I miss and ache for your strong body pressed firmly against mine. But mostly, my dear Abraham, mostly I just miss you, all of you.
My love, I patiently wait your return,
|My dearest Julia,|
My tears fell as I stood on the aft deck of the Georgia Belle and read your letter. If ever a man had reason for God to return him home, I am that man, and you are the reason. The news that you are with child has swelled my heart with pride and love, I have never been happier. That the child be blessed with your beauty, your warm, loving heart, is all that would make me happier.
Luckily, my crew did not witness my tears. What would they think of a Captain that cries over a letter, especially as we prepare for the danger ahead.
With your letter firmly in hand I looked to the east, toward to rising sun. I watched as the sun’s golden ray’s danced on the ripples of the warm, azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. It struck me that as I stood there watching the sun rise, I was also witnessing a new day unfold before me. The words in your letter made me witness to a new life unfolding before me. How can anyone not believe there is a God that guides our lives, our very destinies?
As I write to you, dear Julia, the Georgia Belle sits heavy in the water. We are loaded with the supplies needed by our brave troops. The last two days have been busy with the work of loading and storing the very supplies that will bring life to the suffering. My days have been filled with the noise of men at labor, my nights have been filled with the loneliness of being alone in my bed with only my memories of you filling my thoughts. I hurry to sleep knowing I will dream of you. I dream of the day when we will stand side by side and I will touch your swollen belly and feel the life you nurture there.
Someday, Julia I will bring you here, to the Bahamas, the jewels of the Caribbean. We will tend to our young one during the warm days, and love during the sultry nights. My contact here, a man named after one of the Apostle's, Bartholomew, has offered his home to us when we return together. Imagine a thatched roof house nestled in the sun along the sandy shore with a view of the azure sea, the lush surroundings giving us food as well as shelter. I would consider staying here to raise our family.
The Georgia Belle sets sail tomorrow at dusk. The dangerous crossing is the last obstacle to my being by your side, but if God is witness to the cargo she holds, we will make it across without delay. The Union ships are vigilant, but the Belle is stealthy, we must prevail. Imagine, a half day after setting sail I will be with my beloved…never to leave your side again. The cargo is stored, our sails are in good repair, our keel is clean and smooth, only fate can decide the outcome now.
I long to see you again, your arms outstretched in welcome, your belly growing with our love, and your smile as warm as a summer day. Until then, my love, I am at the mercy of the memories I cherish of you and our time together.
I must end this letter now. A ship leaves for Savanna in an hour, with the outgoing tide, and this letter will be part of her cargo. Good night my love, sleep well, only one more day separates us for all of eternity.
May God be with the Georgia Belle,
Julia asked that I post her letter as she cannot at this time. It is enclosed. I will take this opportunity, then, to inform you of current events. Although I have not read her letter, I fear she, without intention, has left this information unattended. She is unaware I am writing you, but, I feel you need to know in order to hasten your trip home. Your beautiful, loving relationship with my cousin is admired by many and it would not be fair if you were unaware of your loved ones plight. John and I have been keeping her company since you left Savannah and it was fortunate I made an impromptu visit a few days ago as I found Julia to be very ill.
I do not wish to alarm you, however, Julia’s condition has taken a turn for the worse and she has been ordered to rest in bed until the end of her term. As I write this, she is still with child, but I am afraid, Abraham, that this will not have a happy ending, although I pray that it will. I am not exactly sure when it began but Julia started feeling very weak and tired; her pale skin became paler if that is even possible. Her appetite dwindled and when she did consume food her body rejected it. She has been losing weight instead of steadily gaining as a woman in her condition is prone to do. The good news, however, is she is now consuming broth with success.
Dr. Roux had offered high hopes that this time would be different than the last. I pray that stands true. Since Julia informed me of your secret, she has been very, very happy, singing joyful songs and dancing around the grounds. John and I have loved seeing her like this and it has made us happy too. This has helped to alleviate the sadness of missing you so deeply. The child growing within is giving her a smile again.
I pray she recovers, that the baby survives and that you make your way swiftly and safely to your wife’s side. Only time will tell. I feel certain, should you return sooner than planned, it would lift her spirits enough to harness the strength she needs to endure.
I wish you a safe return,
We have been apart far too long now and the sea is wearing on you as I felt how very tired and sad you were in your last post. I had hoped the news of our future would breathe new life in to your weary body but I fear it has brought more sadness due to our being separated. How I long to be there with you, to kiss your salty tears and bring a smile to your gorgeous face, to run my fingers through your light brown locks that are certain now to be golden by the sun.
My love, your journey is soon to end and your focus needs to be a safe arrival home. I will be at the overlook waiting with my eyes on the horizon, to catch the first glimpse of the Georgia Belle’s tall masts as she carries you home to me. My heart quickens with excitement knowing we will be embracing and loving each other in a few days. The long lonely months have whittled away and shortly we will be together again, my darling.
As our child grows I find myself excited with the changes, apprehensive with the future and so very, very tired. Dearest, I am afraid rest comes more often now and, as our child grows, I will rest even more. I have considered bringing Miss Nettie in to our home to help with the daily chores as I am certain to lag in the coming months.
Oh my goodness, Abraham. Your descriptions of the islands and the people you have met have me desiring to experience the same. I want to live it with you, my love. We could make a wonderful life in the Caribbean raising our child and hopefully, a few more. I envision moonlit walks under star filled skies as a tropical breeze blows gentle against our backs carrying the lingering scent of jasmine and hibiscus, swirling around us inciting passionate kisses and desires. I can feel the sandy beach as it seeps between my toes; hear the oceans waves’ crash against the shore as you wrap your arms around me and your lips search, with hunger, for mine. Yes, Abraham. This is the life I dream to share with you.
Now, my darling, I will take these dreams with me as I lay down to rest. I will dream more about our life in the Caribbean and even more about my handsome Captain that will arrive home in a few short days. I will post this letter soon or have another do it for me as I have been unable to stray far from home these days. Not to worry you, but I tire easily and do not wish to endanger our child.
Please know that you are forever on my mind and always in my heart. I love you, Abraham. I look forward to the day the Georgia Belle docks and you are running with open arms to me, carefully swooping me up and carrying me to our home.
Be safe, my love,
|My dear Julia,|
I have never known fear like that which grips me now.
We are separated still, even while I am at your side.
Your letters have sustained me during those times that we have been separated by miles and you awaited my return. Now, writing a letter to you will sustain me while I await your return to me.
The Georgia Belle has returned both crew and cargo safely home to Savannah, her gallant performance can be described as nothing less than a miracle. We left the Bahamas in the dark of night with barely a breeze ruffling our sails. Soon the Union Frigates caught sight of us and made chase, then something miraculous occurred. Suddenly our sails filled with a strong gust of wind that pushed us past the Union Navy, and then propelled us safely home. I cannot think of an explanation for the good fortune of the sudden wind, except to think of it as the breath of God.
Only moments ago I watched you sleep as the light of dawn crept through the window and edged your frail body in silver.
I watched as the sheets covering your body moved with your shallow breaths. It was for me a great cause of comfort. My heart was lifted when I took your hand and felt your fingers squeeze mine in response. The nearly transparent skin of your forehead felt cool against my lips as I leaned over and kissed you.
A kiss to begin the day…remember?
Martha has been a joy. She tends to you like a mother hen and refuses to return home until she is sure you are out of danger and can get along without her. John takes care of the chores that need doing. I sit by your bed and wait for you to awaken. We all have our duties. Your duty, your only duty, is to get well and come back to me.
I sit at your bedside and watch the fluttering of your eye lids. I long to see your eyes open so I can once again look with wonder at the beauty I see in them. The deep blue color, their soft kindness, their look of love. I pray for the smile that will light up the room, and I long for your arms to pull me to your bosom. Your awakening will be like the re-awakening of our love.
As I sat with you in the dark of night I spoke to you of our future together. I look forward to showing you the places I’ve been, the wonders I’ve seen, and the miracles I’ve beheld. With you at my side the beauty of these far off lands will be made more beautiful. I ask only that you take my hand and follow me.
As I watch the slow, rhythmic rise and fall of your breathing, I remember the places you told me of, the places of your youth, your family, your heritage. I remember your desire to show me these places so that I would better know you. Get well my love and I will take your hand and follow you.
Doctor Roux has just left, and I pray that the hope I saw in his eyes was not merely a reflection of the hope in my eyes. He seemed pleased that you are resting comfortably and that the fever has broken. I think about every word he spoke, and each time I replay his words in my mind I hear more hope in them. You must return to me, Julia, you simply must, I cannot imagine a life without you in it.
For now my dear Julia I lay pen and paper aside so that I may stroke your chestnut hair, kiss your brow, and speak to you of my love. I hope those words bring you as much comfort as they bring me. I cannot help but believe that my words of love and longing are heard by you.
Julia, I cannot believe that God brought me home safely only to take you from me. He cannot be that cruel. So I wait with you until you are well and return to me so that the remainder of our lives will be lived with the burning love we share.
I’m here, Julia, waiting for you, just as you have waited for me.
Come back to me.
|My dearest cousin, Martha,|
I hope this finds you and John in good health.
Time has not stood still and it amazes me that nearly a year has passed since you helped us bring our child in to this world and nursed me back to health. In this past year, Abraham and I have begun a new chapter in our life, with many more chapters to fill the book I pray will have no ending. For so long, it has been his desire to show me the stunning sights and places the Georgia Belle carried him and he now lives this dream with immense enthusiasm. Martha, you should see how he lights up when he shares a memory, as it is as bright as the sun on a dark night.
It is magnificent here and not as crowded as Savannah. Martha, you and John must plan to visit and stay a while on this beautiful paradise island and allow me to return the favor of caring for you as you did for me the final weeks of my term. And on that note, I feel the need to profusely thank you once again, for everything you and John did for Abraham and me. My gratitude extends far beyond what words can convey. Your impromptu visit was fortunate and most likely saved mine and William’s lives. Speaking of William, he is thriving now and the sunshine and fresh air are doing wonders for his health. He is soon to be walking around the island, making life a little more difficult, I’m afraid.
On his last visit to the Caribbean, Abraham was fortunate to meet up with Bartholomew and procure a home for us, a home we have grown to love and do not plan to leave. The fresh scent of the turquoise sea is intoxicating and relaxes you in much the same way an exquisite sherry wine will do, if I am so bold to say. Many a day we have spent whiling away the hours watching the tall, slender palm trees full of coconuts dance gracefully with the breeze. The rustling sound of the sea grass has a calming effect on the soul and a hypnotic effect on the brain. Many a day I have sat mesmerized by this sound and if it weren’t for William’s cries, I’m afraid my trance would have lasted all day.
After much discussion, Abraham has decided to stay on dry ground and will not be sailing off to lands so very far away, at least for now. I know the sea is his first love and sailing beautiful ships through its placid waters is where he longs to be. The loneliness of his last sail was nearly intolerable and with a son to rear, he longed to be near home. The sea laps the grounds of our home and is only steps from our door, allowing moon lit walks and frequent daytime outings, both of which we do quite often. I believe he is content for now, as the Import/Export business keeps him occupied.
Martha, I do have exciting news to share with you. In a few months time, God will bless us with another child. Abraham and I are happy & excited but feel much apprehension due to the past. With that said, it will be wonderful to have Abraham at home, with this child forming in my womb and another to care for; he will be an enormous comfort to me. We are excited to know that William will have a sibling to grow up and share secrets with.
My dear cousin, please consider a journey to visit soon. You are my only family and I desire to share this experience with you, one I hope would sway you and John to move to the Caribbean. You are in my heart and my prayers.