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A King's Daughter by Margaret Jennings

Posted: 1/11/2017

Student Essays 2017

Each year, Regina Caeli showcases great samples of student essays from around the United States. Our next essay exemplar for 2017 is “A King's Daughter”, by Miss Margaret Jennings. Margaret is in 9th grade at the Fairfield County, CT, center.

A King’s Daughter

    One morning I woke up to the sound of a cock crowing in the yard.  It was 1663 and I, Marie Bonheur, lived on a farm in Northern France, never guessing that before the year was out I would be on a ship to the New World.  I got dressed and went out to milk the cow.  As I walked toward the door I was surprised to hear my aunt talking to a stranger about me.    

 I had been adopted by my aunt and uncle seventeen years ago after my parents died in a carriage accident when I was just one year old.  She was explaining this and other details about me to him.  Embarrassed and curious, I stepped into the main hall to find a government official talking to my aunt.

    Quickly enough things were arranged.  I was to be sent to the New World as a Kings’ Daughter.  This was a plan of King Louis the fourteenth to populate New France.  Lots of young girls, mostly orphans or farm girls, were being sent to marry the French soldiers stationed and colonized there.  At first I was shocked and upset at the prospect of going to the New World, but the benefits were great.  The king promised me and the other girls a much larger dowry than I ever would have been able to scrape up, including all sorts of things like needles, thread, money, and dresses.

    The voyage was so miserable I still cannot find the courage to describe it.  The arrival was also terrifying but in an exciting and exhilarating way.  Think of it, a whole new world left undiscovered for thousands of years!  It was very cold, the coldest place I had ever been.  We were taken to a hall where we would stay while the officials got things organized.  There were so many women, around a hundred and fifty, that three halls ended up being filled.  I must admit I was scared and lonely but on the voyage I had made friends with one girl named Charlotte Martin.  She was a pretty, cheery girl with curly hair that bounced and shone in the light.  I myself am not a great beauty and had never really been around pretty women, so I reveled in her beauty.  We became good friends on the long voyage, talking to each other on the deck ‘till the stars came out.

    So I was very upset when they separated us, putting her in one hall and me in another, and though I tried to stay positive I became bored and worried over the next few days as we sat about waiting for the men to come.  Finally everything was set and the French men began to come in.  I must say this would have been somewhat of an awkward procedure if they had not made it out like we were performing a business contract.  The men would come and we would question them and they us.

    The first few men who talked to me seemed little interested in me and I was even less interested in them.  I began to worry that I had made a horrible mistake to come here, that no one would want me or that I’d end up with some awful man who didn’t care a bit for me.  But then on the second day a suitable man came.

 His name was Antoine Dubois and he was 24 years old from a respectable family back in France.  He was average height and had blonde curly hair and twinkling blue eyes.  He had a nice farm and a sufficiently but not extravagantly large house and the only thing he needed, he said, was a wife.  He was kind and funny and after we’d talked a bit he said he’d take me “without a doubt” if I would accept.  I was frightened at this idea of being married so soon but I knew that was what was expected of us King’s Daughters.  And so I said yes.  

    We were married quickly and unceremoniously by a catholic priest, who was a friend of Antoine, not because we wanted that but because hundreds of other couples were waiting for their nuptials too, and thus the marriage was brief.  We moved into our house and immediately started cleaning it up and organizing the items given to me from the king for my dowry.  I loved being a wife and a mistress of a household, and when you are taking care of a man who loves you, cooking and cleaning suddenly become a joy instead of a burden.  I often helped him with the farming since I myself had grown up on a farm, and through both of our efforts our estate began to flourish.

I am now pregnant for the third time with my first two little children scurrying about the house, one a girl, Marie, with curly blond hair just like her father’s and Charlotte’s. Charlotte also married and has become my best friend here in this cold new world. And the other one is a little boy, Jacques, only a year old with my dark eyes and hair.  Each half year I send my aunt and uncle a long letter telling about my progress here, and then they reply telling me how things fare for them in France.
 

Bibliography

L’Heureux, Juliana; Filles-Du-Roi(King’s Daughters) www. Mainewrier.com;  copyright  1994-2000, viewed 9/13/2016; 

Carrol, Anne, Christ and The Americas, Charlotte, North Carolina: TAN books, 1997. Print.

Cather, Willa, Shadows on the Rock, New York:  Vintage Books a division of Random House, 1931-1959. Print.

 

 








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