Remember wondered when Goody Prymm would return from her errand in the village...she did not want to be caught reading such private thoughts of hers. Nevertheless, after glancing through the leaded diamond panes and seeing no one yet approaching, she proceeded to turn another page of Goody Prymm's past.
I dare not tell Samuel of my experience today. If he knew, I would never be allowed to go into the woods alone again. Working on our house, they did not notice me slip away. I have no fear of the woods. I freely roamed the forests of Lancashire and had always felt at home. But these woods are different from those in England. They seem more raw, and fresh. There are worn footpaths throughout and, given the wildness of this area, I wondered who...or what...could have made them. I decided to follow one and soon found myself deep in the forest, surrounded by great oaks and all manner of wild plants. Some I recognized from back in the old country, but there were many unfamiliar ones that piqued my curiosity, and so I picked samples of them as I went and placed them in my pocket tied to my skirts for more careful evaluation later. At some point I came upon a black pool of water. It ran clear and pure and deep and, having walked in the heat, I found myself thirsty and sat down on a nearby fallen log to take a drink. It was beautiful in that spot...and so quiet that it felt almost sacred, with nothing but the twitter of birds and the wind swishing through the tops of the great pines. I breathed in my surroundings and closed my eyes, reveling in my aloneness, until my thoughts became the very breeze that blew.
I don't know how long I remained in that state, but when I opened my eyes, standing there before me was a very tall man---taller than any of the English I knew---tawny-skinned with long, straight, black hair. His clothes were scant, he wearing naught but what looked to be animal skins wrapped about his waist and legs. His own skin was coated with a strong-smelling grease, the purpose of which I do not know. His face was young looking but had carved or burned within in it the image of a wolf, darkened with some sort of ink or stain. He wore elaborately carved stone and shell pendants, and carried on his shoulder a graceful bow, and in his waist belt, which appeared to be some sort of papery skin, a stone knife and leather purse. I did not flinch, but rather looked him directly in the eyes, his being black and yet having an amberness from the sunlight that shafted through the trees' branches. He spoke but one word. It sounded like "qway." And, as quietly as he appeared, he left me.
As foolish as it may sound, I saw truth in those eyes...and will never forget it as long as I live.
Remember tried to imagine what it must've been like for Goody Prymm to have met such a stranger, she having come from worlds away...and she marveled yet again at her courage and spirit. It was no wonder then that Goody Prymm still held an abiding fondness for the Indian people, whose numbers had so sadly dwindled now. Remember stood and walked slowly over to the hearth where sat the basket given her last autumn on the day Goody Prymm took her to the tribal campsite and all had feasted together. She smiled at the memory, her slight fingers gently tracing the painted figure of a wolf on the basket's surface.
***With a very special nod to Jack E. Hauck, from his article "A History of the Original Settlers," June 1, 2014
***Note: "Kwey" (pronounced "qway") is an Algonquin friendly greeting...
© 2017 Nancy Duncan