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A Mistake of Consequence by Terri Evert Karsten

Life was much harder in 1754 in the American Colonies than it is today.  This was

very true for Callie, kidnapped and sold as an indentured servant.  Callie thinks she will be be free when she escapes her grandfather’s matchmaking, but instead is dumped unceremoniously into the hold of a ship bound for Philadelphia in the American Colonies. Transforming from an upper class young woman in Edinburgh, Scotland to that of an unwilling indentured servant gives her no rights, no escape and little hope for improvement. “Some mistakes are minor, forgotten the next day. Others are calamitous, disrupting the whole patter of life. Mine were of the second sort,” Callie thinks.


Callie is imprisoned on the ship voyage to Philadelphia.  Her stubbornness keeps her going during the long, difficult voyage. “Grandfather always said nothing could keep me down for long and in that at least, he was right.”

Terri Evert Karsten wrote to me, “Callie's stubbornness definitely gets in her way frequently, but that same tenacity also

serves her well in driving her to keep going and not give up. Actually I have found my own stubbornness/tenacity the same sort of double-edged sword. It can get in the way of rational decisions, and make it terribly hard to compromise, but it can also provide the drive to accomplish goals.”


In this historical romance set in 1754, Terri has a serious look at freedom. She told me, “In her Grandfather's home, Callie is free from want, her needs being met easily, but she is not free in her choices. Most women (and even most men) of this time period did not expect to have the freedom to choose, whether it was a job, a spouse, or a place to live.” 


On board the ship, there is no one to monitor her behavior or even to care about her. As an indentured servant, she has more freedom of movement than in Edinburgh but she must obey her master and the work is grueling, the food limited and the clothing inadequate. “Of course, no one in the 18th century had the kind of freedom we think about today,” Terri commented.


Not all is grim, with a romantic captain, heroic rescues and for Callie, a future in which she gets to choose the direction of her life (with the romantic captain? No spoilers here!)


Food is a hidden topic throughout. After leaving her grandfather’s house, Callie is frequently hungry, given poor quality food during her indenture. No doubt, she would dream of delicacies from her home days in Scotland—scones would be a dreamed of breakfast or for tea in 1754 and today. It’s pretty good today! Here’s is Terri’s recipe.

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