Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 573
Anna recalls a poem about the sea that Elinor once showed her. But having traveled across the sea, Anna thinks that the poet knew nothing at all about the sea. Anna now spends her days in her own room, a circular dwelling in the great house that overlooks the garden and the sea. From her window, she can see boats from Venice and Marseilles and distant ports. Anna’s journey over the rough swells of the sea had not been an easy one, and she feared that she and the baby would not make it to shore.
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After leaving the village, Anna is supposed to meet Mr. Pulfer in Bakewell, and Anteros carries her safely to this destination. But when Mr. Pulfer pulls his cart of ore to the road that will lead Anna to Elinor’s family’s home, Anna does not want to go—she does not want to walk in Elinor’s footsteps and longs for a life of her own. So she rides with Mr. Pulfer to the port, where she hires a wet nurse for the baby, and rents a room at a portside inn. But soon the innkeeper comes to tell her that a man has been running through town raving that he must find her as she is a jewel thief and he wants to know the whereabouts of the baby. The innkeeper thinks her a kindly and trustworthy woman, so he tells her that the safest way to escape the port would be on the next boat no matter where it is bound.
So, Anna boards a boat loaded with pigs that is bound for Venice. After the rough seas pass, the water becomes smooth, and Anna goes up on deck to breathe in the warm, spiced air. She asks the captain for the name of port that they approached, and he tells her that it is Oran, the home of the Andalus Arabs. Anna thinks of the book she has with her, Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine, and she resolves to disembark at the port so that she might find her way learning more about medicinal craft. The captain tries to dissuade her, but Anna stands firm, so he directs her to Ahmed Bey, the most famous doctor in Barbary.
Bey takes Anna into his home, and she becomes one of his wives in name. He and his other wives train her in healing practices. She has served as midwife to many laboring mothers and has shown them how to keep themselves and their children strong.
It has taken time for Anna to get used to her new home. Everything is so bright in color, but the place lacks the color green. When she admits this to Bey, he sends her a silken carpet colored in the rich green hues of the Anisa tree. And Anna has had to get used to the noise—funny to think that she once feared the silence she longs for now.
Anna had taken long to name the Bradford baby, fearing that she might die while they crossed the sea. But when they arrived in Oran, Bey suggested that she name the girl Aisha, which means “life.” Anna likes this. When her own baby is birthed, Anna already knows what she will name the baby who has the gray eyes of her father. Anna takes Aisha and Elinor by the hand as they go forth into their city.