Joanna Sprague's last link with her happy, gracious life in England was broken on a bleak and stormy day in 1650 when her father was buried at sea. He had died on the voyage that was to take them, refugees from Cromwell's persecution of the Royalists, to a new life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Now, at the age of 16, penniless and alone, Joanna faced life as a bond servant, for her father had been unable to pay the full cost of their passage, and the captain of the ship Unity was permitted by law to indenture his passengers to recover the debt. She found a little comfort in the fact that a group of her fellow passengers, Scotsmen taken prisoners at the battle of Dunbar and sold to the Company of Undertakers of the Iron Works in New England, were going to the same settlement of the Saugus River where she herself was taken as a kitchen maid in the household of John Gifford, the Iron Master.
But there was little to comfort her in the austere Puritan way of life at Hammersmith. The moment she arrived her velvet cloak (the only warm garment she possessed) caused her to be taunted as a "peacock," and the coldness of the Iron Master's family and the dourness of Huldah, the housekeeper, were hard for her to bear.
Gradually, however, her intelligence and perseverance gave her skill in her unaccustomed work and helped her build lasting relationships in her new country. She found love and laughter during a time in her life when she felt she was alone in the world.
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