Indentured servants and orphans were prominent in the story of the Port Tobacco River, but who were they? In this painting I have sought to capture a young indentured woman nearing the end of seven-year tenure of servitude in the early 1700s. She might have arrived in Maryland on a ship that sailed from Dunbar, Scotland after she had been seized on the streets of the port of Leith near Edinburgh during one of the routine roundups of homeless children. No one knew how old she really was at the time she was sent to the colonies, maybe she was eight. She was probably sold in Annapolis by the captain of the ship who transported her to Maryland. Eventually she arrived in the Port Tobacco Hundred with her family. Now, on a warm day late in November, as she is nearing the time she will be eligible for her freedom, she tends the young boy entrusted to her care. He is completely occupied in the present with the stones on the beach near Deep Point. He has not known any other home, but she has, and her thoughts are further away. Past memories of starving on the cold wet streets of Leith, of fleeing her would-be captors, the voyage, sea sickness, and her years of being a servant are all fresh in her mind. The family she has served have provided a year of education and will give her some clothing before she leaves. Then what? The far-away sail faintly visible on the horizon has captured her attention. Where is it going? What will her furure hold? Does she dream; what of? Or are such dreams even possible?
Oil on canvas 24x36 inches