COLORS OF THE WIND
Rose looked around to see if anyone was watching, then whispered, “A real party?”
Jack nodded. “Yes, with dancing, wine, and…real conversation.”
She masked a smile. “You mean, you didn’t find the talk at dinner to your liking?”
Jack hesitated, hoping he hadn’t offended her. “Erm…I would prefer to withhold judgment on the ‘savages’ until we actually meet them. If you go expecting trouble, you’re sure to find it.”
Rose smiled, surprising him. “I must agree. None of us have ever met the people of Virginia. While it’s wise to be prepared, we must also not assume they are going to harm us. They have never met us before, either…we may be a great shock to them.”
Jack nodded. “I’ve traveled quite a ways, and what I learned was that people hardly ever match the expectations formed for them beforehand. Who would have thought that fine nobles would be so bloodthirsty?”
Rose raised an eyebrow at him, her expression clearly saying that this was nothing new to her. Her face softened after a moment, however, as she remembered that he hadn’t spent much time around the nobility.
“That is true,” she replied after a moment. “Mother always told me that commoners were uneducated and untrustworthy, and while some certainly do fit that description, there are many who do not…and there are some nobles who do.”
She glanced around the room, but no one was left but a greasy young nobleman who had abandoned civility and was drinking the last of a flask of wine straight from the pouch. He was so deep in his cups that she doubted he would notice if she stripped off her clothing and danced about the room naked.
“So,” she asked, “where is this ‘real party’?”
Jack grinned, offering her an arm and leading her toward the bow.
Rose heard the music, voices, and stomping feet long before they reached the area where the common men relaxed in the evenings. Only a few candles were lit, their flames flickering in the stiff sea breeze in spite of being set in semi-protected spots, but her ears identified the sounds of a lute and a violin, both instruments she had enjoyed listening to in England. There was a rhythmic, metallic pounding sound from near the railing, and when she squinted her eyes in the darkness, she thought she recognized the tub she had attempted to wash her clothing in. She had heard the music before from within her room, and even seen the faint glow of the candles and the shadows of the men moving about, but had never had an opportunity to join in the merriment before.
A number of men were dancing, either alone or with each other, but the music and the sound of bare feet stomping on the wooden deck came to a halt as Jack brought Rose into the faint candlelight. Men gawked at her, some with resentment and more than a few with interest. Several men pounded Jack on the back as though congratulating him.
“She wanted to see what the rest of us do at the end of the day,” he explained.
There were a few whistles and ribald remarks. Rose stood stiffly, staring coolly at the men who gawked at her, most of whom had seen no more than brief glimpses of the two women on board the ship—the only women any of them had seen in the six weeks since the ship had left England.
Jack tightened his hold on Rose’s arm, causing a few of the men to glance at them speculatively. He looked at her, asking silently if she wanted to stay. She looked uncertain for a moment, then straightened her back and raised her chin. She knew what some of the men were thinking, but if any tried to touch her wrongly, they would soon learn that she knew a thing or two about defending herself—any young noblewoman who slipped away from her servants on the streets of London needed to know how to take care of herself.
“Why is everyone staring at me?” she asked. “I am no different from anyone else here, and I wish to hear more of that lovely music. Perhaps someone could even show me your dances…I think they are quite different from what I know.”
The men continued to stare at her for a moment. Finally, Fabrizio, who had teased Jack incessantly about his interest in Rose, came to her rescue.
He clapped his hands at the three musicians. “What the lady said! Come on, bastardos!” He blushed slightly as Rose gave him a shocked look. She didn’t speak Italian, but the word he had used was close enough to the matching English term that she knew what it meant. Then, taking a deep breath, he went ahead boldly. “Ah…perhaps I could have ’a the first dance?”
Jack started to protest, glaring at him, but stopped when Rose smiled and curtsied. “Of course, good sir. I would be happy to dance with you.” She gave Jack an apologetic look as Fabrizio swept her into an Italian peasant dance, both of them laughing at her mistakes.
As the evening wore on, Rose was much in demand as a dance partner. Although some men would have liked to go much farther than a simple dance, many were happy just to be that close to her. Rose was pretty, energetic, and a good dancer, even if she didn’t know the steps to most of the peasant dances. She was a quick learner, though, and soon knew the basics of several of the dances…especially the ones that she was asked to dance more than once.
Rose occasionally caught a glimpse of Jack’s face in the candlelight, looking annoyed…he had brought her to the party, but now, it seemed, she was dancing with everyone but him.
Finally, at the end of a dance and before anyone else could claim her, Jack pushed through the crowd and took her arm. Several men who had been waiting to dance with her protested, but Jack just gave them a proprietary look and led her over to where the dregs of a barrel of wine were sitting, open to the night air. He found his cup and polished it quickly with his sleeve, then filled it and handed it to her.
Rose looked at him gratefully. She was thirsty, but she hadn’t known if there was anything to drink. She took a quick sip of the wine, then grimaced, glancing at the nearly-empty barrel. The wine was sour, nearly gone to vinegar. Still, it was wet, and she was thirsty. Quickly, she gulped it down, then handed the cup back to Jack, ignoring the remarks of a few of the men as they watched her drink.
“What?” she asked as he stared at her. “Do you think a noblewoman cannot drink?”
Jack grinned, setting the cup down, and pulled her into an open spot as the musicians began again, this time playing the tune for an Irish jig. “Watch me,” he told her, demonstrating the steps.
Rose watched him for a moment, then joined in, lifting her skirts so she could more easily follow his moves. He laughed, casting a quick glare at the men who were crowding close, admiring the sight of Rose’s slim ankles, and increased the pace of the dance. Laughing, Rose followed him, tossing her high-heeled slippers to Tommy Ryan, who was standing nearby.
When the dance ended, Rose went to retrieve the slippers from Tommy, her eyes lighting on the forbidden cigarette he was smoking. Before he could say anything, she snatched it from his mouth and took a long drag, blowing the smoke out slowly and trying not to cough as she gave it back to him.
“I have something to show you,” she announced to everyone present. A few men cheered. “Not that,” she informed them coolly, then went to stand at the very point of the bow. Clearing her throat, she launched into one of her favorite scenes from her favorite play.
Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
[Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
man art thou that thus bescreen'd in night
So stumblest on my counsel?
I know not how to tell thee who I am:
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee;
Had I it written, I would tear the word.
ears have not yet drunk a hundred words
Of that tongue's utterance, yet I know the sound:
Art thou not Romeo and a Montague?
Neither, fair saint, if either thee dislike.
camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here.
love's light wings did I o'er-perch these walls;
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do that dares love attempt;
Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me.
If they do see thee, they will murder thee.
there lies more peril in thine eye
Than twenty of their swords: look thou but sweet,
And I am proof against their enmity.
I would not for the world they saw thee here.
have night's cloak to hide me from their sight;
And but thou love me, let them find me here:
My life were better ended by their hate,
Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.
By whose direction found'st thou out this place?
love, who first did prompt me to inquire;
He lent me counsel and I lent him eyes.
I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore wash'd with the farthest sea,
I would adventure for such merchandise.
know'st the mask of night is on my face,
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek
For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night
Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke: but farewell compliment!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say 'Ay,'
And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear'st,
Thou mayst prove false; at lovers' perjuries
Then say, Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully:
Or if thou think'st I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse an say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world.
In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,
And therefore thou mayst think my 'havior light:
But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.
I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou overheard'st, ere I was ware,
My true love's passion: therefore pardon me,
And not impute this yielding to light love,
Which the dark night hath so discovered.
by yonder blessed moon I swear
That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops--
swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
What shall I swear by?
not swear at all;
Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
Which is the god of my idolatry,
And I'll believe thee.
She spoke both the woman’s role and the man’s, reasoning to herself that if a man could play a woman’s part, why could a woman not play a man’s? Even if it wasn’t on a real stage, even if she would never be allowed on a real stage, she still had an audience and could still enact a scene from her favorite play.
The men applauded when she finished, some glancing at Jack and making ribald remarks, having noted that Rose’s gaze strayed to Jack at the declarations of love.
Rose bowed, enjoying the applause and wishing she really could go on the stage. She smiled at Fabrizio when he shouted, “Bravo! Bravo! You should ‘a be on the stage!”
Several men turned from teasing Jack to teasing Fabrizio.
“A woman cannot be on the stage,” one commented.
“Yes,” added another. “’Tis hard enough to make women know their places as it is. If they were to go on stage, there would be no controlling them.”
“You think a woman’s place is under your skinny body,” Jack told him, coming to Rose’s defense and drawing laughter from most of the men within earshot.
“He’s never had a woman,” Tommy added, bringing more laughter from the gathered men.
Rose, whose ears were not nearly so innocent as her mother and betrothed believed, joined in the laughter. “And Lady Rose will not be his first!” she exclaimed. Some of the men cheered, a few raising their cups appreciatively.
“I would watch her on the stage any day!” Fabrizio added.
“As would I,” Jack said, raising his cup. “To Lady Rose!”
There was a chorus of cheers from the men. “To Lady Rose!”
Rose continued to stand at the bow, basking in the glow of appreciation.