November 17, 2018
“See, I’m reading by candle light, like they did in the 1700’s,” I told Marnell the other day. Marnell looked at the electric light falling onto my book from the ceiling and at the flickering candle flame on the book shelf.
“You are by the candle,” he said. “That’s about it.”
Research has a strange way of getting into your head.
Early on in my book project, I told Marnell that Captain Garrison was going to drink coffee.
“But what if he didn’t like coffee?” he asked.
“Oh, he did,” I said, desperately searching for proof that people in the 1700’s drank coffee.
Then, one morning, a letter arrived from Germany.
I had been emailing the Moravian Archives in Germany, and I knew it must be afternoon there–Friday afternoon–and the archivists were likely about to leave. I desperately wished to access some of the letters and diaries described in their online database, but I was having trouble ordering. Further, most of the Moravian documents were written in German, so even if I did get them, I would have to find a translator. About this time, my printer quit working and so I was unable to quickly access the document descriptions I had sent to print, and I began to seethe.
It’s ridiculous to get bent out of shape before 8am.
I really need to step away from my computer and go spend some time in prayer, I told myself.
A short time later, I came back to my computer. An email from Germany had landed in my box with the brief and slightly cryptic English, “I just have this one on my desk.”
At the bottom of the email, I saw the miniatures of the attachments. They looked like actual script. Could this be the captain’s handwriting? Shaking, I clicked on them and drug them to my big screen.
It was, indeed, a letter written by Captain Garrison. In English! His own handwriting, as far as I can tell, ink pen on paper, complete with the 1700’s flourishes, varied letter formation, and misspellings. It was written to the Moravian church about the “remarcable” events of dreadful storm at sea in which their masts snapped off like toothpicks and they lost four fine horses overboard.
It was signed, at the end, Your Loving Brother Garrison.
“I am filled with gratitude and praising the Lord over here,” I replied to the people in Germany who had sent me the letter.
I searched through the letter eagerly. The English script of the 1700s is not a breeze to read. I was still trying to sort through it when I came to a passage that made me shiver with delight.
After the awful storm described, they met another ship that provided them with “Some __________ Sugar & Sundry Nessessaryes”. In return, they provided the other ship with water. There was a word before sugar that I could not read. I thought maybe it was saying what kind of sugar they gave them. Cane sugar, maybe?
I looked at the C-word again.
Some Coffy, Sugar & Sundry Nessessaryes.
Now, doesn’t that warm your heart? I can just hear the captains calling between ships. You don’t have any coffee over there on your ship, do you? You do? We can trade you for a few barrels of water!
Not only did they take it on board, but Captain Garrison lists it with the “nessessaryes”.
That’s all the proof I need to know that Captain Garrison was a coffee drinker.
And the letter from Germany, at the very time I was praying for it, is all the reminder I need to remember that God answers prayer.
Well, my candle is burning low, so I had better sign off!