I have a thing for obscure films that no one's heard of. This vignette is an alternate universe/combination of the book and 1966 film epic Hawaii starring Julie Andrews and Max von Sydow. It's an old piece, and I had intentions of adding onto it, but we'll see. It's been several years. I recommend both the book (penned by the fabulous James Michener) and film if you ever have a spare moment. Enjoy! :)
Rocking, crashing, shaking. Pounding, roaring. Constantly, in a never-ending cycle of rugged inconsistancy. This was how Jerusha Bromley Hale had spent the first three months of her marriage. Aboard an abominable ship driving towards a heathen, uncivilized land. The land of Hawaii.
Normally, the twenty-two-year old wouldn't complain. She was eagerly anticipating the task which God had set to her as the wife of an ordained missionary- she would be teaching the native children how to read and write in their own language, as well as reading, writing, and speaking in the English language. Jerusha had always loved children and always had gotten on well with them; because of this, she'd been given such an assignment.
Clutching her hand to her mouth and rolling to her side, Jerusha inwardly groaned. The boat gave a great lurch as it fought against clashing, monstrous waves. What she would give to be able to stand on her feet and go to the upper deck to get some fresh air, even if it meant listening to the filthy mouths of the sailors as they jeered and cat-called at her husband's Sunday sermon.
When Abner had come to fetch her and she'd lain their motionless, trying to keep the bile down her throat, how she'd desperately wished she could explain to him what was causing this. He'd been thoroughly confused and rather adamant, but gave up when she turned away from him at his mention of food. She knew plainly why he was confused: A week ago, Jerusha had been among the healthiest aboard the ship, and now, here she was, unable to move an inch. He didn't understand her sudden onset of seasickness.
Jerusha knew the reason, though. At first, she had been just as baffled as everyone else. Then, something seemed to click in her mind several days into this plague: she was with child. She hadn't gotten Dr. Whipple's confirmation yet, for he was one of those suffering seasickness, but Jerusha knew her body better than any doctor ever could.
Wondering if she could find some kind of peace in a short passage of scripture, Jerusha groped around her cramped bunk and then the floor beneath her, searching aimlessly for her Bible. She didn't care if she was too dizzy to read anything; just holding the worn, leather-bound Book was a comfort to her. Not finding anything, she remembered with a jolt that she had given her Bible to one of the sailors a few months back. She'd just taken to using Abner's.
Wearily she pulled at the bodice that Abner had tightened around her slim waist a short time ago; her skin was screaming for some breathing space. But in these cramped confines, there was none. Only two dozen other miserable, sick passengers.
She attempted instead to recite Psalm 121 silently to herself, bracing her body against the violent rocking of the ship, but her mind instantly snapped to the first argument she and Abner had ever had. He'd been greatly upset to find that she had given away her Bible to what he considered a "hopeless, lost soul." Jerusha still grimaced at the memory of those words coming from the mouth of the man she loved- yes, loved. She loved Abner Hale deeply.
"But Mrs. Hale- why?"
"Abner," she responded patiently, "he needs to understand somehow. If he won't listen, he can read it for himself." Abner was stuttering. "But Mrs. Hale, how can you place something so precious into the hands of one so corrupted?" She replied simply, "What other resort is there?"
"Abner," she responded patiently, "he needs to understand somehow. If he won't listen, he can read it for himself."
Abner was stuttering. "But Mrs. Hale, how can you place something so precious into the hands of one so corrupted?"
She replied simply, "What other resort is there?"
Abner attempted to answer, but was easily tongue-tied as his wife crept closer to him, brushing his blond hair from his forehead. Her lips gently brushed his and his troubles melted away as she pulled him to their small bed.
One might think that Jerusha's marriage to the Reverand Abner Hale was simply because she'd taken pity on him and wished to help to fill the man's requirements so he could venture to Hawaii. Maybe it had started that way, in a small way. But Abner's clumsiness and lack of self-confidence when around her, and only her, had unlocked something in her heart, and she'd fallen for him. And she knew that he loved her back, despite his refrain from saying so verbally.
Yes. He loved her in return. It was written in his eyes, in his face. Jerusha had learned to read it well during their courtship. If only something could justify this belief. Something in her heart told her that something would solidify between them permanently if she could see his dedication. Just a small thing to concrete it...
With this last thought fading from her mind as she dozed into a fitful slumber, a small smile, ever so small and just barely noticeable, graced her lips. With time.
The ship sailed into a harbour in the late afternoon a month later, boasting many small damages from wear and tear across thousands of miles that needed repairing. Its passengers wanted proper food and fresh air. A proper place to bathe and sleep overnight was a welcome amenity as well.
By the start of the next week, everything was repaired, restocked, and all passengers very much refreshed and replenished. They were all ready to face the task ahead of them with renewed vigour. It wouldn't be much longer until the ship reached the main island of Hawaii.
With an awkward tenderness that both pleased and amused Jerusha, Abner helped her up the ramp. It was when they heard Jerusha's name being called that both turned to see who was shouting her name with urgency.
Jerusha immediately recognised the figure and her deep blue eyes instantly widened to the size of saucers. "Rafer..."
Abner jerked to look at his wife. "What? Who?"
Before Jerusha could explain a thing, Rafer had run up to her and grabbed her tightly, clutching her to him and smothering her with kisses. "What the bloody hell are you doing here, my love, my Jerusha?" he demanded as he stepped away to look into her eyes.
For a moment, Abner could only gape at the exchange, as one-ended as it was. Then he suddenly found himself swinging at the strange man's face. The blow knocked Rafer off balance, causing him to swear profusely. He attempted to advance on Abner.
Jerusha stepped slowly away from Rafer, watching him stagger, some sort of hidden, defying air about her now becoming manifest. "Don't you dare lay a hand on my husband, Rafer."
Rafer stopped dead in his tracks. "Husband?" He was incredulous. "You chose this scraggly man over me?"
"I never said I was yours where marriage was concerned."
"Never- never where marriage was concerned?" he stuttered, enraged. "I wrote you, declaring my love for you, more than once! Honolulu, Santiago-" Rafer broke off and lunged at Jerusha. "You are mine, you filthy whore!"
Before the whaler could lay another hand on Jerusha though, he found himself crashing to the ground once again, but with a much more forceful impact than before. The tall, skimpy reverand was hitting and punching with all of his might, saying between, "Don't- ever- call- my- wife- a- a..."
In this moment of vulnerability, Rafer took his chance and fought back, administering as much pain as he possibly could to this piece of varmint. It was only Jerusha's cries that stopped him.
"Rafer! Rafer, please," she sobbed, "Rafer, I'm expecting, I'm with child!"
The whaler looked up at the gorgeous woman before him, glanced down in disgust at her bloody-nosed, black-eyed husband, spat on the ground, stood up, and began to back away from the couple. He said vehemently, "May God strike me dead if I ever pass up another virgin as long as I live!"
Jerusha ignored the angry whaler and instantly dropped to her husband's side, cradling his head in her arms, frightened and loving tears streaming down her cheeks into his hair. He'd shown her his love. The strong bonds of love were forever complete in her heart and soul.