I didn't have any work at the docks today as The Red Admiral had been fixing problems during their voyage, it looked almost brand-new. That was good I suppose, this Dimitri guy must run a very tight ship.
So I went back to my room and picked up my letters
The first was from Hephzibah
To my dearest Paethos,
I'm so glad you decided to write to me! When I recieved your letter I was heavily pregnant. My father has insisted upon my marriage to Henry, the greengrocer from the high street. The amazing sum of money you sent me has been used to pay for my coming wedding and has bought many clothes for our baby which is due soon.
I am sorry to hear you haven't yet found your mother and I wish you the best of luck.
Your loyal friend, Hephzibah x
So I found out that she was lost to me, forever and to raise our child with another man. It didn't hit me until much later, but it still felt like a knife to my heart. I didn't even love her! I was sure I didn't! How could news of her getting on with her life make me upset! Was it that my own life hadn't moved on? I'd just changed the scenery. It was so confusing. I picked up the next letter, also from Hephzibah:
Yesterday I was married. I thought that your friend who gave me your letter would have left by now but I saw him in the tavern and decided to write this and give him this letter. I am now very close to giving birth and the prospect seems quite scary. I am hoping for a boy as he would eventually be very helpful at the grocers shop. A girl would also be nice I suppose.
I hope that these letters find you well,
Your loyal friend, Mrs Hephzibah Johnson x
So it was too late to change anything - I had guessed as much but the reality was not comforting. I could do nothing, I hadn't been able to swallow my stupid pride and stay in Louisiana, stay with the mother of my child and my dearest friend. I picked up yet another letter. It seems John had arranged them so the top ones were from Hephzibah:
It seems your friend is still in Louisiana, told me about his captain going missing. Anyway, I thought another, more up to date letter would be in order.
Last week I gave birth to our son. Henry insisted on having a Junior so his name is Henry Johnson Jr. Henry is aware that it is not his son and doesn't seem to mind. He only shows the slightest of sadness about it when drunk. But your son is as handsome as you are, he has your ringletted hair and deep brown eyes. He is chubby as a baby should be and is fond of his milk, myself and seems to have a fascination with watching the butchers cross the street chop up the meat. I think he might work there one day! But that is a long way off.
I hope you are well and that these letters arrive soon.
Your loyal friend Hephzibah x
I couldn't bring myself to read her last letter and tossed it out of sight behind my desk. It seemed with every letter she was happier, her life was moving on and she was well. I didn't need anymore confirmation of that fact. I picked up the last letter which was from my father:
Can you not reconsider moving back? The whole congregation misses you, I miss you and I suspect that your friends here miss you too. I find your attempts to locate your mother to most probably be in vain. The only knowledge I have of her whereabouts are actually in the port. I wrote her a few letters and recieved only one reply, it is likely that she either moved or unfortunately has gone to live with our lord.
The address I wrote to is No. 7 Jupiter Street in Portsmouth. So hopefully when you get there you will have finished your search and be able to return home.
I hope your courtship is going well and that you are not exploring the pleasures of the flesh whilst not married. If you are to be married then I would prefer that you returned as I always wished to be able to perform your wedding ceremony. If you are then you have my blessing as you can most probably pick the right girl for yourself.
Either way, I hope to see you soon and hope you are well, from your father.
So now I had an address. I had something to do! I could stop wasting my time and start moving on with my life as Hephzibah obviously had. I picked up my bag to meet with John as previously planned. Tomorrow would be the day I found my mother.