Marti and the Doppelganger - Prologue

Marti and the Doppelganger

By Portia Bennett

Introduction: This is another story in the Cynthia Chronicles series. Other stories in the series are An Incremental Journey, Cynthia and the Reluctant Girlfriend, Cynthia and the Dumpster Diver, Cynthia and the Moment of Truth, Cynthia and the High School Years - Part I, Cynthia and the High School Years - Part II, Charli and the Girl Cave, Bobbie and the Glass Ceiling, Randi and the College Professor, Adam and the Three Wishes, Lisa and the Culinary Quest (aka Howard and the Completed pass), Cynthia and the Solicitous Sisters-in-Law, Cynthia and the Queen of the Knight, and Cynthia and the Dropped Ball. The time frame of this story follows about three to four years after Charli and the Girl Cave. This story takes place a little more than a year after Bobbie Anderson wins the (British) Open and about ten years after Simoné and the Second Time Around.

This brings me around to that last story. I thought it was a nice little story full of romance, love and a bit of magic. The story bombed! It had absolutely the worst reception of anything I’d posted at this site. Part of the problem had been a very poor first choice for a title. We won’t go into that. About this story: In Cynthia and the High School Years we learn that Cynthia’s mother was adopted. She’d never taken the time to find out anything about her origin. We learn some other unanswered questions in Simoné and the Second Time Around. I thought I’d try to answer some of those questions; however, I may have left more questions to be answered at a later date. Someone asked me to write a bit more about Marti Lewis, Cynthia’s youngest sister. I thought this was as good an opportunity as any. Marti makes an appearance in Randi and the College Professor


 

This work is copyrighted by the author and any publication or distribution without the written consent of the author is strictly prohibited. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is coincidental.


 

Marti and the Doppelganger

 

Prologue

As years went, 1877 wasn’t starting out much better than the last few years had. At least that was what was going through Aleki Vaeaolesau’s mind as he scanned the beach. The afa (typhoon) had passed to the south of the island, but regardless, the winds had been strong and the rains torrential. Some of the villagers’ huts in tiny Lauliifou were already being reconstructed. He was far luckier in that respect. He lived with the Reverend Matthew McDonald and his wife Mary. Well not exactly, he had his own room that was quite adequate. It had a separate entrance to the parsonage, and it was next to the large kitchen and dining hall where the McDonalds fed a dozen orphans. The orphans lived in separate houses, girls and boys, a few yards away.

The islanders were well off for the most part, and most orphans usually found a permanent home in a relatively short time. That was not the case for Aleki. His cleft palate and hare lip were an immediate turn off for any prospective parents, mostly islanders, who came looking for an addition to their family. Aleki had been abandoned very early in his life; left at the orphanage when he was only a day or two old. Fortunately, one of the women who worked with the orphanage was able to nurse the baby Aleki. That was a strange thing: the abandoned baby. Stuffed within the blanket found with him was a note with his name spelled out. The last name wasn’t that uncommon; however, a search didn’t turn up any family that was missing a child. The thoughts were that the name may not have been the baby’s true name; that it was just a diversion.

Some thought that the baby may have come from the islands to the west that were governed by the Germans. Or perhaps, the mother had concealed her pregnancy, given birth in secret and had abandoned the baby there at night. That behavior certainly wasn’t typical among the Samoans; however, the Scottish missionaries didn’t really understand the customs of the people they were rapidly converting to Christianity.

Regardless of Aleki’s origin, he grew up at the orphanage. He was quite intelligent, and had no problem learning about the Western World and its wonders. Had there been a university, he certainly would have been qualified to attend. Unfortunately, there was not money enough to send him to a true university. Instead, he read voraciously any books and literature he could come across. Several years before, after an afa had struck he’d found a trunk washed ashore. The especially well made trunk had leaked only slightly, and the contents were wrapped in several layers of waterproof material. There were nearly 50 books and novels: everything from The Origin of Species to Ivanhoe, from Cooper and Hawthorn to Poe. It would prove to be quite a treasure. The McDonalds suggested that some of the books were not proper reading material for someone so young. Aleki immediately donated them to the new library operated by a more liberal American couple. The proviso was that that for the donation, he had unlimited access to the library. The Johnsons gladly gave him access.

Aleki was 25, and due to his disfigurement hadn’t come even close to being kissed by someone of the opposite sex. Anyone else his age would have long ago been married and be raising a family. If he ever found someone he liked, he was usually rejected on the spot. Now he was combing the beach while feeling a bit sorry for himself. Then he saw her.

At first she looked more like a driftwood log, but as he got closer he realized it was a body; the body of a young woman. Her waterlogged apparel appeared to be quite fine. She was a white woman, and he determined very quickly that she was alive. She’d been struck in the head and there was a rather nasty looking wound on her temple. Aleki quickly checked her for other injuries, but other than a few minor scrapes, he couldn’t find any. He gently picked her up, she moaned softly, and carried her back to the mission.

Mrs. McDonald had him place her on a bed and then had him leave the room. She was a nurse, but there wasn’t a qualified doctor on the island. There might be in a few years.

“She’s resting comfortably. I gave her some morphine for the pain and to allow her to sleep. The head wound is not as bad as it looked at first. It took eight stitches to close it up. I used alcohol on the wound. That woke her up a bit. Hopefully we can avoid an infection. She doesn’t seem to be in shock and all her vital signs are pretty good. She was calling for someone: somebody named Douglas. I imagine it was her husband. She is wearing a wedding ring. I’ll keep an eye on her. Hopefully she can tell us more the next time she wakes up.” Mary returned to the room.

Their patient was awake and eating the next morning. She was able to use the chamber pot without a problem. It was too soon to have her try walking to the one of the privies located a few yards away.

“Dear, I’m Mary McDonald. My husband and I are Anglican missionaries. You are on the island of Tutuila, Samoa. You’ve had a pretty rough time. We’re assuming you were shipwrecked somewhere south of here and were washed ashore. One of our residents found you yesterday morning. He brought you to us.

“Can you tell us your name and where you’re from? Do you remember?”

“I was on a ship. That much I know. We were going somewhere, obviously, but I’m not sure where.” She looked at the ring on her finger. “I think my husband drowned. The ship was foundering, taking on water. A huge wave turned the ship on its side and we were swept into the ocean. I saw my husband go under. I never saw him again. I remember calling for him. I don’t remember much else.”

“Aleki, the man who found you, said you were calling for Douglas. Does that name mean anything to you?” Mary asked.

“I think he was my husband.”

“You are so young. Were you on your honeymoon?”

The woman was silent for quite a while as if she was mulling over what she remembered, what she didn’t remember, or what she didn’t want to reveal. “I don’t think so. I think we’d been married for a while.”

“Do you remember your name?”

“Before he went under, he called me Margaret. I think that’s my name.”

“How about your last name?”

“My husband was of Scottish ancestry, but he was born in the United States. We both were. My name is Simard; Margaret Simard. I think we are from Atlanta, Georgia. I think we wanted to start a family. I guess that’s not going to happen now.”

They were interrupted by a polite knocking on the door.

“Do you mind?” Mary asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Please come in,” Mary addressed the closed door.

“Margaret, this is Aleki. He’s the one who found you.

“Aleki, this is Margaret Simard. Apparently, she’s from the United States.”

“Hello, I am so glad you are feeling better. I was very worried yesterday,” Aleki said while standing very erect at the foot of the bed.

“Mary, would you please leave Aleki and me alone for a while. Please do not let anyone disturb us,” Margaret asked.

“Certainly,” Mary said. She quickly turned, exited, and closed the door behind her.

Aleki was a bit surprised because Mary would never leave a single man and woman alone together behind closed doors.

“Aleki, please come here and sit beside me.”

“Yes Ma’am.” Aleki sat at the edge of the bed.

“You may move closer. I won’t bite. Besides, I want to be able to touch your face.

“Aleki, I can see you are a very good man. You have stood up against a lot of ridicule and hateful talk. Well, that stops now. You must never tell anyone about what I’m going to do. If you did, we could get in a lot of trouble.”

“Ma’am, you want me to have sex with you?”

“Not now, although I think that will come later. I think we should get to know each other first. I have lost my husband. That I know for sure, and I guess there should be an appropriate amount of mourning. We were going to New Zealand to start a new life. Well, things have definitely changed.” There were other things she needed to tell him, but they would have to wait. Their fortune lay at the bottom of the sea. They would have to get that if at all possible.

They, Margaret and Douglas, had left New Haven, Connecticut to essentially start over where they wouldn’t be recognized. They’d taken a ship to Panama where they took a coach over the isthmus to join another ship that was going to Australia. Margaret sent letters to their daughters explaining they had changed their minds about Australia and had decided to go to New Zealand instead. It wasn’t a problem as New Zealand was a scheduled stop. The letters never made it to the addressees and there was another problem. There was a hole in Margaret’s memory: a 30 year hole. She knew something was missing, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

“I need to fix this for you,” Margaret said while touching his misshapen jaw line and lip. “It may feel a bit funny for a while, but you will look and feel the way you should have from the beginning.”

She gently ran her fingers over his face. It felt as if she were molding him. The opening in his pallet and upper jaw gradually closed, and the gash in his lip followed suit. His teeth were aligned perfectly. “No one will know what I have done for you. I cast a little spell that will erase the memory anyone had of how you were before. As far as the world is concerned that defect never existed.”

“What are you?” the incredulous Aleki asked.

“That should be obvious. In just about any language I would be called a witch, or as they say in your native language, faʻataulāitu. I am not evil. I am a human being just like you. It’s just that I am able to do some special things. My husband and I worked to help people over the years. We were very wealthy. Now that he’s gone, it will be a little while before it’s time for me to get back into the doing good mode. I can start here as well as I could have in New Zealand, and I would like very much for you to help me. I think we will make a great team.”

Within a few months, Aleki moved into the Assistant Mission Director’s position. He found himself genuinely attracted to the dark haired American, and although interracial relationships with non-native men and native women weren’t frowned upon. The fact that a white woman was carrying on a romance with a native man, although a very handsome one, was frowned upon. That attitude seemed to change over the months.

Reverend McDonald performed their wedding ceremony in November 1877. Margaret was very patient with the totally inexperienced virgin. She turned out to be a very good teacher. By the turn of the century they had six children. In 1918 they were instrumental in helping establish the blockade that prevented the introduction of influenza to the area. Their neighbors to the west suffered greatly under the onslaught.

Aleki died in 1957 at the age of 105. Shortly after his death, Margaret disappeared. She was 133 years old.

***

That’s it for now. The story is complete, and at this time I’m not too sure how frequently I will be posting. You might want to read some of the background stories. There are quite a few characters to keep track of.



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