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The Colony

Chapter Text

June 3, 1790

The colonists watched from the shore as the frigate Scarborough sailed into the bay. They had been long awaiting news from home, supplies, and most of all, the doctor they were told would be coming. It would be the first doctor they ever had and he was desperately needed. Among the female prisoners there were midwives, women who could stitch a wound, and those who claimed to be healers by way of homemade remedies and magical touches. Today, however, marked the arrival of a real medical doctor. He would have real instruments and could attend to broken bones and serious illnesses of which both the prisoners and their captors suffered regularly.

When the first row boat finally arrived on the shore, it was piled high with crates which the prisoners were ordered to unload and take to the quartermasters hut. Lizzy watched from a safe distance as James and Tommy were enlisted to haul crates. The quartermaster supervised as he checked the provisions against the list that he'd sent back to England almost a year ago. He looked out toward the frigate where a second rowboat was being loaded - this one with people. Most likely they were new prisoners and additional personnel.

"You'd better hurry about, then," he told the ship's mate who captained the rowboat. "I want the rest of my supplies unloaded and brought ashore before dark."

"They's ain't no more," the mate told him in a thick cockney accent.

"What are you talking about?" the quartermaster demanded. "This is less than half the provisions I requested."

The first mate shrugged. "Tha's wot the King sent," he pointed to the crates. "Tha's wot you's gettin'!"

James sidled up to the quartermaster after having returned from bringing the first crates up to the storage area. "Is that all we're getting? They sent us to this godforsaken place as punishment and now they're going to starve us, too?"

The quartermaster turned to James with derision. "Quiet!" he hissed at James. "Keep your voice down or you'll start a riot. That happens and yours will be the first rations reduced."

James and Tommy eyed each other in fear. They knew what it meant. It meant that everyone's rations would be reduced anyway. James was already hungry. Marston had been stealing his food. With rations reduced, who would Marston be after next? And how long would he survive with his own rations in Marston's stomach?

Lizzy saw the look of fear in both their eyes and asked what it was. The three of them kept their heads close and their voices low as they discussed the situation and began hatching a plan to ensure that none of them would go hungry - at least not starving anyway.

When the next rowboat came in to shore, Governor Phillip and Sergeant Timmins came down to await its arrival. They wanted to be present when their long-awaited doctor first set his feet on the shores of the new colony. The new doctor was deserving of a proper welcoming. The two men, stood waiting in their polished dress uniforms. They wanted the doctor to get the best impression as he arrived. They knew that soon after his arrival, he'd know the truth about the conditions of the colony. They were worried that the doctor, upon seeing the colony, might change his mind and prefer to take his chances by returning to the sea and to England.

The ship's first mate and his crew dragged the rowboat farther onto the beach. The Governor and the Sergeant craned their heads expectantly, examining the faces on board the row boat. This boat however, was filled only with the ragged and dirty faces of prisoners. Closer to the front were a group of twelve men, and near the back were five women. Of the women, only one was clean and properly dressed. It was this woman who was first ushered off the rowboat. The first mate offered his hand and made sure that she did not fall or get her petticoats wet as she stepped ashore.

"Why is this woman not shackled?" Major Ross demanded as he pushed his way between Phillip and Timmins.

"This is the doctor's sister," the first mate explained as the thin, delicate woman approached them. The woman removed her bonnet to reveal her dark auburn hair and blue eyes. Her skin was alabaster and smooth, free of the blemishes of poverty.

Governor Phillip stepped forward and offered his hand. The woman held hers out to him. Phillip took it and kissed the back of it tactfully and properly, bowing to her in greeting.

"Sansa Stark," she offered.

"Mistress Stark," Phillip addressed her bowing his head slightly. "Will Doctor Stark be brought to shore on the next rowboat?" he inquired, double-checking the faces amongst the prisoners who were still waiting to be allowed on shore.

Sansa took a deep breath and lifted her chin with an air of dignity and strength. "I'm afraid my brother will not be joining us," she declared. "Robb's health faltered in the voyage. We buried him at sea more than three months ago."

Governor Phillip tried to hide his expression of disappointment and replace it with something resembling sympathy. Of, course he was sorry for this woman's loss, but the colony desperately needed a doctor. With the words locked in Phillip's throat, Sergeant Timmins stepped forward and offered his condolences.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Mistress Stark." He nodded to her curtly. "But why have you come ashore to tell us this? Would you not have preferred to stay aboard the Scarborough and returned to England?"

Mistress Stark took a deep breath and fortified her emotions. "Gentlemen, it has been a long and difficult voyage. Perhaps we could discuss this in a more comfortable setting?"

Sansa dabbed at the little bit of her exposed skin in as lady-like a manner as she could. At least while at sea there had been ocean breezes by which to cool herself. In the stifling confines of Governor Phillip's accommodations, the amount of perspiration she was producing was very unlady-like. She was offered a glass of what she supposed was meant to be cold tea, but Sansa couldn't imagine anything ever being cold in this place.

"Believe me, sir, if I had better options, I would most certainly choose them," she explained to the officers. "I shouldn't imagine anyone wanting to be here of their own accord." Sansa fanned herself.

"Then why don't you return?" Timmins asked. "Surely the sea is a better option than for a young woman of breeding to remain in a place like this? Would you rather not go back to England?"

"If you could conjure the saints to whisk me away and ensure my safe arrival on England's shores in a week's time, I would be eternally grateful. However, you and I both know of the journey. We were at sea for 252 days, sir. It is a hardship I'd prefer not to endure again so soon." Sansa shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Her layers of skirt and petticoats were making her legs sweat and chafe.

"Even if I did have a mind to return, that would not be possible. The Scarborough is not returning directly to England. She has been chartered for exploration to the east. To a place I believe they are referring to as New Zealand?"

Timmins and Phillip looked at each other uncomfortably. "What are we to do with her, sir?" Timmins asked the Governor. Phillip eyed the young girl with concern. He would not be able to guarantee her safety here, not in this place among these sorts of men. She might not be safe even from the soldiers and other officers.

"We'll have to find an appropriate use for her, but -" Governor Phillip began.

"I will be your new doctor," Sansa suddenly declared. The officers looked aghast.

"You?!" Major Ross proclaimed with distaste.

"Yes, me," Sansa insisted as she stood in defiance before the men. "My brother Robb took care of me since I was very young when our parents were stricken with the pox. Because of their illness, Robb was determined to be a doctor, to find cures for illnesses, to find remedies, and to heal the sick and broken," Sansa explained. "As he learned and advanced in his practice of the healing arts, I worked as his assistant. As a result, I learned everything that he did. Perhaps a woman cannot legally be called a doctor, but I have the same knowledge and skills. My brother also schooled me in the identification of herbs and plants. He taught me to make salves, plasters, teas, and medicines. Robb taught me how to test the merits of unidentified species of flora and fauna."

The officers in the room gazed at each other in wonderment before returning their gaze to the young woman before them.

"You need a doctor and I need a home," she told them. Her voice made it clear that they weren't being given much say in the matter.

"This is a rough place, Mistress Stark. We may not be able to guarantee your safety or your ..." The Governor lowered his eyes with the discomfort of having to discuss such an improper topic in front of such a proper woman, but she needed to understand the vulgar facts of the situation. "Of your innocence."

"I am the only doctor in this place," Sansa informed them. "If any harm comes to me, you will not have a doctor for very long. Make sure your men know that. Make sure your prisoners know that and I will treat all of them equally and respectfully."

Sansa hoped in her heart that that would be enough, but she feared that it wouldn't. Not by far.