For those who survived the early years, life spans were usually brief by today's standards, and life was sometimes
harsh. In addition, many of the early settlers themselves preyed upon their less protected fellows: widows and
children, without money or protectors, were often victims; as were many servants and Indians. For some, it was a
brutal life. Elite planters would unlawfully impose various forms of corporal punishment on indentured servants
in the privacy of their isolated plantations (2). In addition, few women dared to take the risks involved in the
perilous passage to the New World when compounded by the rough and rustic lifestyles and short life spans of the
Eastern Shore in the early 1600s. To obtain protection for herself and children, to maintain the benefits of their
social class, and to forestall marriage proposals from younger men "without prospects,"
many widows of the elite would quickly re-marry an available suitable widower.
The more fortunate colonists were able to acquire land holdings, which were continuously increased. With the increasing financial well-being of some of the landholders, a hierarchical social fabric or "class system" began to emerge. With it came a "family consciousness" among the landholding families in which many chose to live near other relatives or close friends, and increased intermarriage among the emerging "upper class." In addition, there were informal titles which acknowledged one's social standing; such as "Mr." or "Esquire" or "gentleman" for men of high social standing; and "good wife" for women of similar status.
For a planter whose estate was beginning to "pay off," it was essential to have a wife who was knowledgeable about, and could assist in, the operations of the plantation. Travel was slow and dangerous, and there were times when a trip might take the planter as far away as Jamestown or Williamsburg if he were involved in litigation; or was a Commissioner, Burgess, land judge or similar office. The ability of a wife to oversee the plantation when the planter was gone is sometimes evident in the few depositions, wills and other records that remain from the early days. Frances Burdett (Alicia's predecessor) was one such knowledgeable wife.
What was perhaps the most powerful socializer on the Eastern Shore in those days is probably the most ubiquitous factor in such knowledge as we now have of the lives of our Eastern Shore ancestors: the General Court or the "Commissioners." The court seems to have been part of everything important that happened. In all research concerning the original settlers, the court records are among our best sources. The small amounts of information we have of the 1600s comes primarily from court records relating to mortality (Last Wills, accountings, inventories, etc.) and domestic or business affairs (depositions, suits, Court orders and the occasional sanctions and penalties).
The Court was such a factor in English colonial records that few people recognize that many of its decrees related to the church and its prerogatives; including compelling people to publicly recant or repent during church services, or imposing sanctions against parishioners for church-related offenses. But, as we shall see, the Court was not just judicial - it was also legislative and executive. Its members were the elite of the community, not learned jurists (3).
It is the intent of this paper to glimpse some of these social patterns as they were experienced by a woman originally known as Alice Traveller (and later as 'Alicia' or 'Alisha' Walker or Custis), one of the many truly remarkable women who came to these shores in the early 1600s (Perry calls her "controversial"). Women were scarce during the early colonial days, and multiple marriages and "May-December" marriages were not uncommon. The stories of the lives of these women are replete with fascinating research possibilities (4).
George Traveller and Alice Traveller
Very little is known of the European antecedents or maiden name of Alice Traveller, for her name was "Alice Traveller" when she booked passage to the new world (probably from the "English colony" in Holland); indicating that she was already married to George Traveller. She would have been sixteen or seventeen years of age when she arrived on the Eastern Shore in 1630 (5). It would be a fair statement to say that she chanced the perilous ocean voyage, marriage to an older man, and the knowledge that few life on the Eastern Shore would be harsh - because for her it was exceedingly preferable to her existing situation.
According to one historian of the eastern shore, George Traveller was a very prominent man at the time of his marriage to Alice. He was a highly respected member of the elite and a member of a small and prestigious group known as the "ancient planters." He was appointed Sheriff in 1633, and a member of the Coroner's Jury in 1640; was chosen many times to be a witness in Court matters, and was entrusted by other planters to be an overseer of their estates (which often also included the welfare of their orphaned children) (6).
Not much is known of George Traveller's land holdings, but he did receive a patent in 1636 for 500 acres on the peninsula situated on Old Plantation Neck between Old Plantation Creek and the Chesapeake Bay (7). That the Traveller manse was but a short distance from the creek is evident from several depositions. Although Traveller also owned two other parcels (one on the ocean side), he preferred to reside on the "Plantation Creek" property. Part of this land would become the Town of Cape Charles. The Travellers were neighbors of William and Frances Burdett; William and Elizabeth Roper; and William and Mary Bibby.
William and Mary Bibby died within a year of each other. William Bibby died in September 1937 survived by his wife Mary and their two children, Edmund and Elizabeth, who were now orphans. Worse yet, Mary Bibby died a few months later and now the children were totally homeless. Orphanage was commonplace on the Eastern Shore in the early days. On his deathbed, William Bibby made George Traveller and William Roper overseers of his estate and guardians of his orphaned children (Traveller and Roper were also appointed administrators of the estate)(8). The Ropers assumed guardianship over Edmund, and the Travellers assumed guardianship over Elizabeth. It would not be long before the Travellers' own children would also become orphans.
Elizabeth Bibby was only ten months old when she came to live at the Travellers. There are depositions which indicated that Elizabeth was suffering from what is now known as primary enureses (bed wetting). Enuresis is a childhood dysfunction (with an incidence of 1% among adults); is involuntary, and has many causes, both physical and emotional. The chief physical causes include urinary tract infections, or a small or slowly developing bladder. Present day emotional sources include domestic stress, such as the divorce of the child's parents. Life was harsh in the early days of the Virginia peninsula for those with special conditions, especially children. To be an innocent child, to be separated from your family, to suffer from enureses, and also be under the "tender mercies" of Alice Traveller made survival problematical, at best.
In 1639 Alice was accused of child abuse. There were several depositions, including the following by Zarah Hart, a neighbor:
Averreth That Alice Travellor after shee had whiped Elizabeth Bibby took the said Byby and hoysted her upp by a Tackle which they use to hang deare withall And that the sayde Alice hath throwne the sayde Bibby soe farr into the Creeke that she could very hardly crawle out And that shee hath shooke the said Bibby over the fyre threatening that shee would burne her, And often tymes her husband and shee had some words concerning her abuseing and beateing the said Child, and then the said Alice would runn in a fury to her and beate her and whipp her and further saith not (9).
Unfortunately for Elizabeth, she was a child who liked to follow older children. One such older child was Isabell Shedd, a maidservant, who gave the following deposition:
This deponent was sent into the Feild to gather waterMillions and the said Child with mee, And my dame called the said [child] but still she followed mee, And when the Child Returned home shee strocke her and Brocke her head in so much that the bloud came through her capp, And my dame bidd mee to take her capp and wash it saying that shee would not have goodie Browne to see it. And further sayth not.
In 1641, Alice's reputation suffered another set-back when it was alleged by one George Vaux that Alice was having a sexual liaison with Captain Francis Yardley. The Travellers and Yardleys were neighboring plantation owners, and thus members of the "upper class." The matter was not possible to prove or disprove, since there were no other witnesses to the alleged sexual relations. Another problem was the rule that should Alice or Captain Yardley sue to clear her "good name," the burden of proof would be on the plaintiffs. The matter was suddenly cleared up when George Vaux recanted in open court, asking the forgiveness of both Alicia and Captain Yardley. What transpired in the background to produce this turn of events is not known, but public recanting appears to have been the "sanction of choice" for the Court in matters of this kind. It seems pretty clear that the requested forgiveness, even where imposed by the Court, would not be forthcoming (10).
Soon thereafter, however, Court records show depositions from two youths (18 and 20 years of age), alleging indiscretions between Alice and one Robert Wyard. The surviving court records do not indicate how the matter was tried, but do contain the court's Order that Robert Wyard is to stand before the Church congregation at some time during the Survices and ask for Alice's forgiveness. It seems pretty clear that such forgiveness would not be forthcoming.
Nor did Alice herself escape her turn to ask forgiveness in public. In a deposition, Mr. Livinge (Lewin) Denwood testified that Alice said of Mr. Severne that Severne "was a thief, and accounted as such on the other side of the bay (11)." Alice was ordered to ask forgiveness not only in Court, but also in Church (12).
George Traveller, gentleman, died February 3, 1642 leaving his wife (referred to as "Alice" in the will) and their children, George and Elizabeth, as his heirs. He appointed "my friends Argoll Yardley, Esq., John Rosier, Clerk, Captain Francis Yardley, and John Seaverne to act as overseers"(13). In conformance with primogeniture, the large tract and manse on Old Plantation Neck (sometimes called "Indian Field") went to his son George (with Alice retaining widow's rights). Elizabeth received the 200 acre tract on the ocean side (14).
The death of George Traveller also illustrates the closeness and class-consciousness of the plantation families, not only in the names of those who witnessed Traveller's Last Will and Testament and served as appraisers; but also in the subsequent marriages of Elizabeth and Alice. Elizabeth married Major William Andrews, the son of William Andrews, an established planter who was a "next door neighbor" in that his property shared a common boundary line with the Travellers ("on the first gut on the north side of Old Plantation Creek"). Alice married another neighbor, William Burdett.
William Burdett and Alice Traveller Burdett
William Burdett was born in England in 1590 according to one account, and born in 1596 according to another account. He was one of the "ancient planters," having arrived on the Eastern Shore aboard the Susan in 1615. He started life in the colonies as an indentured servant in the household of Captain Epes (the "Accowmacke Commander")(15). William Burdett had done very well for himself since those early days. At 53 years of age, he was probably one of the older residents of Northampton County when he married Alice Traveller (16).
Burdett and Alice were married within the same year that George Traveller died. He was a widower, his wife Frances having died two years previously. Most likely the marriage to Alice occurred at Hungars Church, the official Anglican church of the Lower Parish of Northampton, and sometimes called the "Lower Parish Church." In 1635 upon the petition of William Cotton, the General Court ordered that a church (the Magothy Bay Church) be built in Accawmacke. The Court appointed the original twelve Vestrymen, one of whom was William Burdett, who held this position until his death (17). Upon his death he made at least one expensive gift to the church (18). Although Burdett received two patents totalling 500 acres near the Traveller plantation in 1639, he apparently chose to live with Alice in the Traveller manse.
Frances Lake Burdett, Alicia's predecessor, was very similar to Alice. Frances Lake was born in England, and shortly after her arrival on the Eastern Shore she married John Blower, and upon his death she married Roger Saunders. Upon Saunders' death, she married Burdett in 1633. She was rough and sometimes crude, but she could run the plantation in Burdett's absence. She apparently treated the menservants roughly. In one case before the General Court, she was accused of beating some "at the morter" (19). The instant case involves an accusation by one Anne Moyes that servants of Burdett found a hog belonging to Moyes, killed it, roasted it, and ate it. Frances meted out punishment, although one of the servants pointed out that the accused were still aboard ship when the offense was alleged to have occurred:
The deposition of John Allen taken in open Court. This deponent saith that about three yeares agoe being servaunt unto Mrs. Burdett Mrs. Burdett came into the Quartering House and Asked Arthur Rayman saying art thou a true men whereunto the said Rayman replyed saying I am, noe body cann saye the contrary whereunto the said Mrs. Burdett told him saying I am glad of it and I will give thou a spell therefore soe immeadiately turned her about saying I will hang you all if you had seaven yeares to serve and went into the Dwelling House, soe this deponent sayde come Tom lett us make the morter ring for if my mistress hangeth us shee will want two or [of] her beaters"
The deposition of Arthur Rayman taken in open Court. This deponent saith that about three yeares agoe about Christmas being then servaunt unto Mrs. William Burdett Mrs. Burdett came into the Quartering house belonging unto the said Mr. Burdett his dwelling house and asked this deponent saying Art thou a true Man? And this deponent answered saying I am whereupon the said Mrs. Burdett tooke the pestle from this deponent perforce and told him saying I will give you a spell and shee haveing made an end of the sayde beateing imedeately turned her body and told John Allen Thomas Lawson Thomas Browne and Patrick the Irishman saying I will hang you all if it cost me Forty pounds And further saith not.
In 1641 there was a somewhat confusing matter before the Court in which one Robert Warder, who had been indentured to William Chandler, apparently tendered full payment of the debt due on the remaining four years of his indenture - but Chandler refused payment on the grounds that Warder's services had been sold ("put off") to Burdett. Chandler apparently felt that once Warder's time had been sold to another, the chance to redeem had passed. Burdett however, acquiesced, and permitted Warder to redeem, and the Court formally declared Warder to be free (20).
William Burdett was a man of high status on the Eastern Shore in the early 1600s. In written materials he is often referred to by the title of Gentleman. He was an Ancient Planter, a Burgess, a Commissioner (member of the General Court)(21), a Justice of the Peace, a Vestryman, Godfather, tobacco inspection Commissioner, and a land patent Commissioner. His manse was large, even by plantation standards. When he was a Commissioner, the General Court would sometimes meet at his house (22).
William and Alice Burdett lived together in apparent harmony until his death in July, 1643. Although his real and personal estates appeared to be significantly large at the time of his death, debts consumed a substantial part of the land he possessed. But he was nevertheless a wealthy man for his day and time, because in addition to his large and gracious manse, he was possessed of a large amount of personalty which could produce an income almost as well as tobacco, including a large herd of breeding cattle (23). In his Last Will and Testament, he specifically provided that Alice was to keep those lands which she had received from George Traveller. Otherwise, with the exception of a personal bequest, Thomas (Burdett's son by Frances) received the entire estate (24). Unfortunately, the administration of the estate resulted in a great many claims brought before the General Court (25),
Thomas was placed under the guardianship of Burdett's good friend William Stone, Governor of the State of Maryland; and later married Verlinda Cotton (daughter of Rev. William Cotton). The Will and the observance of its requests are further examples not only of the sense of obligation and community shared by the elite of the Eastern Shore; but also of intermarriage and family relations. Upon Burdett's death, Alice married yet another member of the Old Plantation "inner circle:" Peter Walker.
William Burdett's funeral must have been quite an affair. There is a record of "one hogshead of Wyne spent at the funerall of the sayde Burdett." It can be fairly assumed that the funeral arrangements were made by the widow Burdett (26). As a charter member of the church, a Vestryman, and donor of communion silver, it can be assumed that Burdett was buried on church property (27).
After Burdett's death rumors of drinking and social gatherings at the Burdett house continued. Beginning with the 1630's ships arriving from England brought word of increasing civil unrest against the rule of Charles I (the well-meaning but inept son of James I), who seemed to make a series of ill-advised moves, each worse than the last. It all resulted in civil war in 1642, pitting the Cavaliers of Charles against the Roundheads of Parliament. The loyalties of the planters and upper class (some of them knights) are easy to guess. Alice got into "hot water" when, according to an allegation, she was not "politically correct." It took the intervention (and counter deposition) of a family friend, Captain William Roper, to get her out of trouble:
"This deponent saith That whereas there is a Rumor that there was a health druncke Att the house of Mrs Alice Burdett widdow To the damnation of Pymms God, and the confusion of Parliament There was not any such health drunck in this deponent's heareing and to the best of his Knowledge by any of those who were there..."(28).
Peter Walker and Alicia Traveller Burdett Walker
Peter Walker and Alicia Burdett were probably married in 1645, since this is the date he first comes into possession of land within the old Traveller-Burdett holdings (29). Since Walker was only 28 years old at the time (30), this represents a dramatic change in Alicia's marriage preferences. Walker's patent was for 150 acres, and appears to be the former estate of John Blower, which was left to Frances Burdett, then to William Burdett, then to Alicia Burdett (31). This land would later go to John Custis II, on which the magmificent Arlington plantation would be built. Arlington would then become the capital of the State of Virginia during Bacon's Rebellion.
Not much is known of Peter Walker prior to his claim in 1635 of 200 acres about six miles away from the Burdett estate, except that he appears to have had no previous experience in the management of a large farming operation. He was born in 1617, in London, where his father, Andrew, earned a living as a tallow chandler. Walker has previously been described as a "merchant of London."
Shortly after William Burdett's death, Walker and Captain William Stone were summoned to the "Poynt House," the meeting place of the General Court at that time, for the ending and determining of all differences between them. In actuality, the differences were too many and too deep; and the friends of each appear to have been mutually exclusive.
There were, for instance, a series of events which seem to have affected relationships between Walker and others. They do not appear to be misunderstandings so much as "sharp trading" of the type detested by the planters and other elite, whose transactions often were based on oral promises and a handshake. One such transaction was the fish partnership between Walker and John Grymesditch in which the proceeds were to be divided equally. The Court ordered "that Mr. Peeter Walker shall paye and satisfie unto John Grymsditch the one halfe of the fish which have beene taken in Copartnership betweene them..."
In a couple of instances, Walker was accused of stealing cattle which had been left by the Last Wills of neighbors for children who were not yet of age. The first was a deposition to the Court by Robert West, "That at Mr. Peter Walker's house there was a Browne oxe killed which was formurly Choosen for Mr. [Thomas] Burdett's Estate." And on another occasion, the Court held that Peter Walker had a heifer and calf belonging to Edmund Bibby, a minor, and has marked them for his own (32).
At times Alicia had accusations of her own. On one occasion, she accused Capt. Stone "saying you have sold one of Tom Burdett's cowes." On another occasion Randall Revell was quoted as accusing one Thomas Peake of stealing a "Holland shirt" from the Walkers (and that Peake's wife "cutt it out into capps and workcloathes"(33).
Walker had a history of verbal abuse, and sometimes it went further than just words. Even as a public official (Walker became a Commissioner in 1649) the Court fined Walker for insulting the undersheriff, Thomas Hatton. A few months later, he "confronted the Commissioners" in open Court and disrupted the business of the Court that "business could not bee performed in such peaceable manner as it ought to have been." It was too much, even for the Court, so his fellow Commissioners suspended him from office; "committed him into the sheriff's custody;" and reported him to the Governor and Governor's Council (34).
The incident which most illustrates Walker's capacity for violence following a verbal flare-up is found in the account of a confrontation with Captain Stone in which Stone appears to have tried to initiate a duel:
"Whereupon the said Walker rising upp from the table sayde 'God's Wounds I am as good a man as thee and better to, better borne and better bredd" whereupon the sd Capt Stone stept upp to him haveing his Rapier in his hands and put the hilt of the Rapier toward the brest of the sayde Walker and the sd Walker sayde 'God's Wounds doe ye strick mee in myne own house' and thereupon Struck the sd Capt Stone in the face with his fist And Capt Stone in his own defense put his hands into the haire of the sayde Peter Walker and keept him out..."(35)
Now into her third marriage, had Alicia mellowed? The following is the Order of the Court, upon the petition of Elizabeth Haucrafte:
Upon the complt of Elizabeth Haucrafte And by showeinge to this Cou't of Cuell [cruel] blowes given her by Mris Walker. And yt she the sd Elizabeth have made oath that she goeth in feare of her life by the sd Mris Walke. It is therefore ordered that ye said Mris Walker shall forthwth put in suffict security for the keeping of his Mates [Magesty's] peace toward the sd Elizabeth Haucrafte (36).
There is one incident which illustrates not only the potential for violence of one person; and not only the power to inflict injury and death at will upon others; but also the unseen ties that bound the Eastern Shore elite in the 1600s. It is an example where honest men and true, who detested the act, and perhaps the person responsible; but who in their acquiescence acknowledged the overriding mandates of class, status and power. It is a story of depositions and conflicting counter-depositions. It is the story of little Thomas Wood, seven years of age.
We don't know much about little Thomas Wood, or how or why his family would permit him to become indentured, or why anyone would accept his indenture (except perhaps a Good Samaritan) which unfortunately for Thomas was not the case. To the adults involved, he wasn't a child - he was "Walker's man." We can infer from the depositions, and what we know of his actions, that he had only recently arrived on the Eastern Shore; he was confused, alone and scared, with no adult counsel; that he was trying to escape from a bad situation, but didn't know where to go; and that when he died he died alone, and there was no one to tell his story.
We know that he ran away, but did not know the area. He found his way to a neighboring farm ('Mr. Walker's man being run away and lyeinge at night in Mr. Neales Calfe howse, and milkeing the Cowes this Deponent with Samuell Lucas one night took him and brought him to his Master"). It was late Wednesday night, and Wood was brought before Peter Walker, just recently awakened. Walker began to question him with William Fisher, Lucas and others looking on. Walker asked him why he ran away, but the 7-year old could give him no answer. Whereupon he determined that Wood should be whipped. He was then taken to the morter, where two witnesses (William Hopley and Zacheus Turner) saw the whipping. It is at this point that the depositions begin to conflict.
In his deposition, Fisher states that Walker himself made the whip, and others (Hopley and Turner) testify that the whip was a "roapes End about the bignes [thickness?] of a Finger." At least two counter-depositions state that there was no whip, but only "a little twigg," Fisher further testified that Wood was whipped by both Lucas and Walker. Assuming there was a whipping, Hopley brings the story to a close:
And they Both went into Mr. Walkers and [there they say] the said Wood beatinge at the Morter, and Samuel [Lucas] beatinge him the said Wood.....And [this deponent saw the said Lucas strike him about five or six strokes or thereaboutes.....And the [words missing] Morter the said Wood tould him that he could not [words missing] Morter But rather he would goe into the woodes and [missing] Dye, and [Further] saith not (37)
After the whipping Wood was advised "have a care thou doest not sitt, But keepe thy selfe walkinge." After Wood went into the woods that night, the story apparently ends. George Traveller testified that he heard about the death of Woods from one Thomas Demmer the Tuesday or Wednesday following. Yet there is testimony by John Severne that he "cupped" Wood eight days after the whipping, and that he and Thomas Cooke examined Wood and found no signs of a whipping. In his deposition, Severne stated that "after revieweing the corpes" found it "being much swelled" and concluded that Wood had scurvy and died of scurvy (38).
Some time later, there was a small entry in the Northampton County Record Book: Wood, Thomas - 3 Aug. 1640 - Died from scurvy aged 7. Servant of Peter Walker (39).
Peter Walker, rich and with many honors, died in 1655 at 39 years of age. His survivors included five children and his widow, Alicia. The sons: Peter, Henry, James and Daniel did well. The daughter, Elizabeth, married William Andrews, a member of the planter elite. Alicia married John Custis, better known to genealogists as John Custis II, the builder of Arlington (40).
John Custis and Alicia Traveller Burdett Walker Custis
John Custis was born in 1628 in Rotterdam, Holland and grew up as part of the "English colony" which fled England upon the fall of Charles I. His father was the owner of an inn which was very popular with exiled royalists. This English colony in Holland generated a great pool of new immigrants to the American colonies. John had already married Elizabeth Robinson Eyre when he met Colonel Argoll Yardley. Yardley had arrived in Holland from the Eastern Shore to sell a cargo of tobacco. But in a very short time, like George Traveller years before, he was married. He married Ann Custis, John's sister.
John Custis was twenty-one years of age, and married, when he and his wife arrived at the eastern shore with the newly-married Yardleys. His father and brother William also immigrated at the same time. But by 1656 Elizabeth Custis had died. With Yardley's help, Custis' star was rising rapidly. In 1655 he was appointed to be an Appraiser of Estates, one of the many "political plums" he would hold during a long and varied career in public office; and in the same year as Elizabeth's death, Custis had married Alicia (41). The Burdett house was apparently a true mansion, and John, like Peter Walker before him, chose to move into the Burdett house (42).
In 1658 Custis was sworn in as High Sheriff of Northampton County, and in that same year John and his brother William became naturalized citizens.
Alicia, now at the pinnacle of Eastern Shore plantation society, was appointed to the the Pregnancy Commission, which was surely one of the many unusual consequences of an established State religion. Where the Court wanted to know if a particular woman was pregnant, or had just given birth, it would call upon the Pregnancy Commission. Alicia, along with some other elite women (including Mary Selby, and Bridgit Charlton Vines) would then examine the private parts of the designated woman and report back to the Court (43).
Alicia Custis died before 1665, probably in 1660 at approximately 45 years of age (44).
Who could have guessed that the story of a very young girl who to the best of our knowledge made the crossing alone to live with an older man she hardly knew would have so many twists and turns. Her story is sometimes bleak (life in Europe); sometimes cruel (Elizabeth Bibby); sometimes hazardous (crossing the Atlantic); and sometimes a mystery (why was her story so different from that of little Tommy Wood?). So many unexpected turns, that there are no surprises left. It's about this time that Paul Harvey might say: "And now for the rest of the story!" But in this case, "the rest of the story" is circumstantial - a matter of trying to read between the lines. And here it is.
Tucked into this astonishing tale of survival of the fittest is a love story in the unlikeliest place. It is the story of Alicia's improbable marriage to a man people knew very little about, except that he had an explosive temper. But in Peter Walker she found the love of her life. At this time on the Eastern Shore there were less than 400 families; church attendance on Sunday was compulsory; and the flow of depositions to the General Court indicated that everyone knew everything about everyone. And yet...
And yet, although Walker's penchant for violence never seemed to fade, there were never any indications that Alicia was mistreated in any way. They had five children (45). So, as Paul Harvey might say…"That's (probably) the rest of the (inferred) story!"