*The Mercer Bride

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is historical fiction based on the story of the Mercer Brides who were brought to Seattle, WA to marry and soften the North West Frontier.

My Dearest Sarah,


I was your age when I set out on an adventure of my own. At times it will be exciting and other times it will be lonely. Let this journal be your confidant. Remember all you have been taught. Always do your duty with a heart full of song.




Mother and Father


March 13,1864


New York is nothing like I pictured from fathers tales. It is full of people and intolerably congested. The hotel Mr. Mercer has reserved for us constantly smells of fish as we are so close to the water. The smell of the water is different than the Minnesota lakes. It is saltier and burns my nose. Mr. Mercer told me that I will get used to the smell once we are on the ship. This causes me great trepidation at the thought of this intolerable odor for weeks.


The other girls are nice enough. Most are from Lowell like me, but few are my age. Mr. Mercer says we are to meet some more girls once we board the ship. They are from New York and coming to Seattle with the rest of us.  Mr. Mercer asked me to play the piano in the lobby this evening. For a small while it felt like home with the fire burning brightly. I think I might become fast friends with Ann Murphy. She has a talent for sewing and helped me mend my skirt when it tore on the porch this morning. She promised to help me work on a new pattern for the fabric I bought for the trip while we are sailing. We have spent the few days here purchasing fabric and thread as Mr. Mercer warned us these are still difficult to come by in the Washington Territory.


We watched the S.S Illinois pull up this afternoon. It is a grand ship and I can not wait to continue on our way. We leave early in the morning and I still have to arrange my trunk. What an adventure this will be.


March 25, 1864


It feels good to be on land again. The journey to Panama was smooth although it is unbearably warm here. The flies buzz about my head making me dizzy. I don’t think I could stand it here if it wasn’t so beautiful. The different languages dance around me. The food that they have here is like nothing I have ever seen. We have had fruit at every meal since we disembarked. I will remember the taste of pineapple forever as it melts in my mouth.


The other girls and I quiz Mr. Mercer about the Puget Sound every day at supper. It is no wonder it is the only time we see him as there are so many voices at once.  The eleven of us can be overwhelming for a man of the frontier.  Most of the girls want to know what the men are like. What kind of husbands will be available. I want to know what my students are like. Mr. Mercer eagerly answers my questions first. He is an educator first, matchmaker second. I admire how he always looks me in the eyes when speaking, even when he is answering another girls question.  I know he expects me to be the example although I am not the oldest.


March 30, 1864


We are still in Panama because the S.S. America is delayed.  I am growing to love this tropical paradise and I am in no hurry to leave. I was able to finish my new dress today and I am eager to wear it but it is not suitable for this weather. I suppose I will save it for my first day of teaching. We went bathing in the warm water along the beach this afternoon. Mr. Mercer joined us and walked with me along the beach. We talked quietly about poetry and art. Mr. Mercer is a brilliant man. He asked me to call him Asa, but I can not. I could feel the other girls watching me. Especially Ann with her intense eyes. Annie May is the only one who doesn’t mind because she is not going all the way to Seattle. She wants to stay in San Francisco to find a suitable husband there. She is younger than the rest of us and has yet to teach a class of her own.


I am finding that I am hesitant to continue on to Seattle as well. Mr. Mercer assures me that it is beautiful. The temperature is mild and I will find willing students. This is the whole purpose of my journey. Bringing art to an uncivilized territory.


April 20, 1864


San Francisco is bustling with activity and we are to go shopping for supplies tomorrow. Asa is working on transportation for the final leg of our journey. We missed the ship we were supposed to take into Seattle and the next one is not for another month. The past few weeks have had exciting developments. The delay of the journey has allowed me and Asa to spend much time together. We have spent hours sitting on the deck reading our favorite passages from beloved stories. We often dine together. He is only a few years my senior and quite charming. Catherine and Lilli are envious of the time we spend together. It has made our rooming quarters uncomfortable. This has led me to spend more time with Asa in our comfortable rhythm.


Asa has promised me a dinner at a fine restaurant before we leave. I will wear my new dress before we arrive in Seattle after all.


April 22, 1864


What a glorious day it has been. Asa took me to the Academy of Music. I was able to play an organ for the first time in months. We sang De Camptown Races with a group of students. I haven’t laughed so much in years. We watched as painters stood high on scaffolding detailing the glorious chapel. I imagine that it would have been the same for Michelangelo. Danger from height must produce great inspiration.


As we walked back to the hotel, Asa kissed me. It was not a school boy kiss. It was passionate and tender. His whiskers tickle but are comforting. I think I shall never forget his lips. They are as sweet as Panama pineapple on my lips. His hands were forceful as they pulled me close. The tips of his fingers slid through the gaps between buttons on my dress just above my bottom. I pushed him away as I should but I didn’t want the kiss to end.


Tonight I shall fall asleep humming Camptown Races and dreaming of his face.


April 24, 1864


Asa came to my room last night. He brought me a daisy ring for my hair.   I was sitting at the vanity brushing my hair when he knocked. I thought it was Ann and called for her to enter. I saw it was him in the mirror and refused to turn around. I didn’t cover my sleeping gown. I just kept brushing my hair. He came in and placed the daisy ring gently on my head. He brushed my hair aside and kissed my neck. The sigh that escaped my lips startled me. I turned around and kissed him on the lips.


Asa pulled away this time and left without saying a word. The solitary hours that followed were painfully solitary.


April 26, 1864


Today I am quite melancholy. It has been several days since I have spoken to Asa. He has been distracted and is still trying to get us passage to Seattle. His rush is my fault. He wants to get married as soon as possible but we can’t tell anyone. I never want to be without my dear Asa. He is the most unexpected surprise on this journey. I have written several letters to mother and tossed them into the fire for she will not understand. It is not something I can explain in a letter. I have read her entry in my journal a hundred times since I left Minnesota. I can not disappoint her but not seeing my love is devastating. Knowing that we will soon be together forever is my only delight.


May 15, 1864


Today we finally arrived in Puget Sound. This last leg of the journey has been difficult. The Torrent was not designed for passengers and we suffered for our impatience.  The other girls and I took over the cooking just to eat something edible.  My only surprise was when Asa brought me an orange. Nothing tasted so sweet. He promised that we would be married within  a few months. I can only imagine a summer wedding as we sit here waiting for the kidder that will take us into Seattle. I am happy that Annie May continued on the journey with us though I am sure it was her father who made the decision. The other girls are miserable and complaining about the wet weather. They do not have Asa whispering to them about the blossoms that will begin to bloom shortly, telling them it will be okay.


May 17, 1864


The welcome we had into Seattle was magnificent. There was dancing and food. I must have been asked by twenty men to dance. I feel like my feet will never recover. Everything is as I expected. Muddy and wet but full of jovial, hardworking people excited for a good time. My host family is sweet and is helping me find my way around. Tomorrow they will take me to the local church for Sunday services.  In a few days time I will begin teaching art and music at the church as it is the closest building with a piano. I am hopeful there will be a classroom full of eager students.


Asa has been busy since we arrived. He has to organize the students and teachers. At the party he would smile at me everytime I swung in his direction. He cut in on the last minute of the last dance. I tingled with excitement when his lips softly brushed my hand and we said good-night. I shall never wash my hand again.


May 20, 1864


I have only three pupils and they only wish to learn piano. They have no musical training so we are working from the beginning. I have chosen De Camptown races as my first song to teach. The simple note sequence is easy for my pupils to learn, but mostly it brings a smile to my face.


I have spent the majority of my time exploring my new home. Seattle is still wet and the sun refuses to shine which makes it difficult to walk around. There is a new building going up everyday. Most businesses are run out of tents. I walk with the hope that I will see Asa. He seems to have disappeared along with the sun.


I received my first letter from Mother. She urged me to marry as soon as possible. I hope that I will soon be able to tell her Asa and I are to be wed in my next letter. I miss her dearly and I would love to share my excitement with her. Everyday I tell myself, Soon.


July 12, 1864


Asa left me a vase of wild flowers on the church piano this morning. I kept missing notes during the Prelude because I kept looking for him in the pews. He has invited me on a picnic the first day of summer break. I am so elated at the possibility of seeing him. The notes he slips me leaves me longing for him and do nothing to ease the separation. This will be the first time we are alone since I arrived.


I am eager for summer break. I know it will mean that we can announce our courtship. I am certain that we will discuss our wedding plans. Soon Sarah, Soon. Patience is not a virtue I posses. I wish I had the patience Mother has. I wish she could be here to guide me.


July 21, 1864


Today was the day of our picnic. Asa met me at Pioneer Point for lunch. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shimmering over the water. It was everything I wanted it to be. Asa brought more food than I could have ever imagined a bachelor could come up with. Cold fried chicken, potato salad, biscuits and  fresh picked blueberries we picked on the way. It was the best meal I have eaten since I left home.


After the meal we waded in the water. I reached over to pick up a sea shell and lost my balance. I fell into the water and was completely soaked in the bitter cold water.  Asa picked me up and carried me to our blanket. He kissed me passionately as I layed my head in his lap. I didn’t push him away as I should. I wanted him to hold me forever as the afternoon sun warmed us.


I have a bucket of blueberries and I must get one of the girls to help me make a pie for Asa. He mentioned how rare it is to get a sweet treat as a bachelor. I will make him a pie every week once we are wed.


July 27, 1864


I was supposed to meet Asa to officially declare our courtship today. He didn’t come as originally planned. He sent one of my students with a note. He would not be able to meet me as he had meetings planned with the community leaders. He is constantly preoccupied.

I did not set out on this journey to get married but now that is all I can focus my attention. There is not much for me out here. No pupils, no art, no husband. There is to be a dance in a fortnight and I believe I shall attend. Perhaps I will meet someone less preoccupied, or perhaps Asa will come around.

August 2, 1864


Asa walked me home from class today. At first I thought it was sweet and to ask me to the dance. He has some terrible news. He will be leaving shortly to get new brides for the men. The men are paying three hundred dollars a piece to bring women to marry them. He will be gone for some time and does not wish to marry before he leaves. There are no more kisses from my sweet Asa.


He left me at the front gate with a squeeze of the hand and a  Goodbye Mrs. Cheney. The words hung in the air, leaving me utterly alone. The pain I feel for my failure is greater than I could have imagined. I can no longer do my duty with a heart full of song. Goodbye Mr. Mercer.


August 10, 1864


The town is bustling with excitement because of the dance. I too am busy. There was a posting for a teaching position in Pt. Townsend. There is a military post and they have many students, I was hired immediately. It is on the other side of the state and several days travel. I will be slipping out quietly as the town sleeps. I said my goodbyes to the girls. Annie May asked me to reconsider my quick decision. Her tears were hard to take but I know I can not continue to avoid Asa. I sat on the pier the other day and watched him as he gave instructions for the crew as he prepares to leave next month. He turned and looked right through me. I was invisible in the afternoon sun. He quickly turned back to focus on the crew and his new journey. My tears were caught in my throat as I ran back to the house.


I will have no tears as I leave. My well is dry and I am exhausted. I begin this new journey void of hope as I push on. Goodbye my dearest confidant. I shall leave you behind as I only look towards the morrow.  


Submitted: January 08, 2015

© Copyright 2021 Amberly Sue. All rights reserved.

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Jonah Ryan

this was remarkable from start to finish, easily the best thing I have read on this site in a long, long time. It grabs you right from the beginning and it doesn't let go and I legitimately did not want this story to end because it was so wonderful to read it. All the little details you added were amazing and brought everything to life. I cannot say enough good about this piece. This was a perfect short story and I am so happy that you shared it and that I was able to read it.

Wed, June 3rd, 2015 3:33am

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