Interview with Samson from In the Aerie of the Wolf by Leonora Pruner
I was typing on my computer in my rented room in a Maldivian household on the capital island, 4% north in the middle of the Indian Ocean, when Samson shuffled in and bowed, saying in a raspy voice, “Bein’ tha sent fer me, I’ve cum.” He sat on my lumpy bed (the mattress was filled with coconut husks) and looked at me expectantly.
Although the man was garbed in brown livery trimmed in gold braid typical of the mid-18th century, he was very unattractive. I could not tell just where he was looking for the shaggy grey hair hanging over and around his face. The tip of a silvered scar on his left cheek protruded just below his dangling hair. He might have been of average height except for his hunched back.
Turning from my computer, I asked, “I sent for you?”
“Aye. Tha’s been thinkin’ o’ Mistress Anne Crofton, ‘asn’t tha? So I’ve cum ter tell ye what tha wants ter know.”
“Oh.” I blinked, wondering what he could possibly tell me I didn’t already know about that young woman who had sprung from my mind. She was pretty, but not like her older beautiful sister. Since her father was the youngest son of a youngest son, they had aristocratic blood, but little money. “First, please tell me of yourself. Who are you?”
“They calls me Samson. I’m from t’ Aerie up there i’ Yorkshire. It’s t’home o’ Lord Wolverton.”
“I see. You work for him?”
“’E calls me t’ mos’ trusted ‘un.”
“And you know Miss Crofton.”
“Aye. ‘E sent me ter bring her ter t’ Aerie.”
“Why? For what purpose?”
“Ter be ‘is bride o’ course. Sir Andrew, ‘is godfather told ‘im she were kind an’ beautiful an’ ‘er hair were like silver.”
“She was an old woman?” I hadn’t meant to make her like that.
“Nay. ‘Er were just about twenty.”
“And this Sir Andrew thought she would make a good bride for Lord Wolverton.”
“Aye. ‘Im ‘s be a wise ‘un. An’ ‘es known t’ Wolf fer donkey’s years.”
“Wolf? Donkey’s years?” I was puzzled. “Do you mean ‘a long time?’”
“Aye. They calls Lord Wolverton t’ Wolf. ‘Im ‘s t’ Wolf o’ t’ Aerie. It’s up I’ Yorkshire below t’ Devil’s Drop.”
I felt a cold chill. This sounded ominous. “The Devil’s Drop?”
“That’s wot they calls t’ waterfall, o’ course.”
“Oh. How did Miss Crofton respond to this?
“’Er were grizzled, surely, on account o’ leavin’ ‘er ‘ome in t’ south an’ goin’ up ter t’ north. She’d never bin there.”
“Did she know Lord Wolverton?”
“Nay. I brung a miniature o’ ‘im an’ a purty picture o’ t’ Aerie. An’ I brung a bag o’ gold fer Mr. Crofton. ‘Im were most ‘appy from that.”
“So you brought her up to the Aerie. By yourself?”
“Nay. Dere was sum men o’ t’ Aerie wi’ me. It were worth me life ter bring ‘er safe an’ well there.”
“Well, I hope Lord Wolverton will be kind to her, bringing her so far from home. He must be a proud person just to send for a woman to come and be his bride.”
Samson’s voice became very earnest. “Nay. ‘E ‘s not a proud ‘un. Ms. Crofton, her’s like a queen in t’ Aerie. Everun be tol’ ter giv’ ‘er whatsumdever she asks. Lord Wolverton, ‘e be most certain ter make ‘er ‘appy. She’s a good ‘un fer t’ Aerie, surely.”
I could not share the old man’s certainty. But he did seem to know his master well. I felt uneasy about this young woman journeying to the “far north.”
He rose, bowed and moved towards the door. “Tha’s no need fer concern about Ms. Crofton. ‘Ers in good ‘ands.”
I turned back to my laptop. Clearly, I needed to work out some of these relationships. Anne Crofton’s future was not going to be a simple “happy ever after.”
At least nearly all the other characters spoke more normal English.