Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Union

Remember awakened to the sound of Nightfeather making his subsong of coos, rattles, and clicks, none of which seemed alarmed.  Nevertheless, she was somewhat alarmed at the possibility of Smoke's access to the healing bird and hustled into the hall to check on him.  Relieved, she saw their bandaged feathered guest was still in his enclosure, safe and sound by the fireplace...but to her surprise, Smoke was lying next to the box, curled up beside it, sleeping.  Apparently the small feline found pleasing company with Nightfeather, and he with her, the crow continuing his soft sounds to the slumbering Smoke.  Remember stood smiling at the wonder when in walked Goody Prymm telling her that she must get dressed in haste, for they had an important event to attend in the village.  The old woman refused to say anything else until they were walking to their destination, which was to be the Ipswich Meetinghouse.


On the pathway leading to the village, a trail which originated with the Pawtucket, Goody Prymm quietly and gently explained that Remember's surrogate mother, Goody Minter, was to be married this day to Goodman Cooper.  This news quite stopped Remember in her tracks.  Looking at Goody Prymm, completely unable to find words, her expression revealed the shock and alarm she felt.  Was she now to return to Goody Minter and take her place as daughter of Goodman Cooper and sister to little Longing?  This prospect did not please her in the least, as this would be a fourth home for her...and just as she had found what she considered to be her true home!  To have to adjust yet again would be too much to bear!  They spoke no further after that, the silence oppressive, and soon arrived at the Meetinghouse.

There stood Goody Minter and Goodman Cooper with his little daughter, the casual ceremony about to begin.  It lasted but a few moments, as Puritans did not consider marriage a religious rite (the Bible did not designate it as such), but rather was considered a civil affair officiated by the local Magistrate.  This union would be one of economic and mutual interests, as so many often were in these days...Goody Minter having been widowed and---except for taking in Remember---childless for over seven years...and Goodman Cooper having lost his wife and four children to the fever, leaving only him and his little daughter, Longing, who desperately needed a mother figure and feminine guidance.
Remember stood speechless next to Goody Prymm, who continued looking forward, her old hand reaching down and taking the young girl's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

Following the ceremony, those who wished walked to Goody Minter's home for cake, rum and sack, a heady wine, to mark the union.  All chattered pleasantly, Remember and Goody Prymm also visiting with the guests, most of whom they knew through midwifery or healing, and some through bartering.  Soon it was time to go and Goody Prymm, wishing the couple a fortuitous marriage, started to leave.  Not knowing what was expected of her, Remember just stood there, lost.  At the door, though, Imagination turned and looked at Remember as if saying, "Are you coming?"  Wasting not a moment, Remember ran to Goody Minter and embraced her lightly, wishing them all well and then joined Goody Prymm.  It seemed as though she had escaped her destiny, at least for the time being.

On their stroll back home, Goody Prymm proceeded to explain to Remember everything she needed to know.  Years before, Goody Minter's husband had been a sailor and, while he was away, she was deputy husband, meaning she ran his affairs in his absence.  This was no small feat, as Goody Prymm could well attest and, like Goody Prymm, this distinction eventually served her well as he left her everything in his will, as opposed to the customary one-third, their not having had any children of their own yet.  When Goody Minter had learned of Remember's losing her parents at such a tender age, she took her in, needing a helpmeet, and though she was not what would be called loving and affectionate, she had done her best, Goody Prymm then turning to the young girl, gently and firmly grasping her shoulders, stating that Remember must know this.  The young girl looked squarely in Goody Prymm's old eyes, taking in every word that issued from her lips, beginning to see things in a very, very different light.  Still, she needed to know what was to be her future.  Understandingly, Imagination continued, explaining that, as Remember was not truly Goody Minter's daughter, she had not set aside a trust for her---and all would now be going into their combined marriage, while she was still young enough to bear a child of her own.  Hearing this left Remember feeling more abandoned than ever...but Goody Prymm was quick to explain about the day that she went into town to attend to some business, Remember privately recalling reading Goody Prymm's writings found in the old slope desk and blushing now deeply at the intrusion.  Imagination had heard of the impending marriage and intended to ask Goody Minter if Remember could stay with her.  After much discussion and alleviation of mutual concerns, Goody Minter had finally agreed to allow Remember to stay with Imagination.  Upon hearing this, Remember stopped in the path, closed her eyes, squealed, and breathed the most profound relief of her life, hugging Goody Prymm as hard as she could without knocking the old woman off her balance.  The two embraced, laughed, and wept right there on that Indian path that they had so often trod together.


Then, Goody Prymm, quite worn out from the day, linked arms with Remember and the two strolled slowly home, never to part.  The cool Spring evening was quite remarkable as they walked their garden path and over their threshold, entering and smiling to see Nightfeather by the warming fire in his twiggy box and Smoke leaning against it, each side by side, comforted by each other's company.


***With a nod to David Freeman Hawke's Everyday Life in Early America; Richard Middleton's Colonial America:  A History, 1607-1760; and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 (love this book!)

***Note:  The embroidery of Goody Prymm's house was designed and done by me.  :)

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

6 comments:

  1. so very happy that Remember is staying with Goody ~ ....you scared me there for a moment!
    I had a 'feeling; Smoke and Nightfeather would become fast friends, and glad to know it is sooner than later. Your embroidery is perfection and is just as your words made it seem to be.....
    blessed be,
    Lori

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  2. It was destined to be so. They belong to one another, Goody Prymm and Remember...
    Thank you so much, Lori...

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  3. Lovely embroidery! Lots of texture! I am surprised that Puritans didn't institute and religious marriage ceremony. Goody and Remember have a union of the souls...

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  4. Thank you, Mary A. What you see there isn't quite the finished piece...there's also a little black rabbit skipping near it :). The layering of threads was what I focused on...it seemed to take forever, as I recall! As for the Puritans, I was surprised in my research, too, but they acknowledged that anyone could get married, Puritan or no. There is one historical note in which two people were stopped by the Magistrate, right there in the road, and declared "married" because there were rumors that they were already enjoying marital relations. And, yes, there were all kinds of unions in this episode! I'm tying up the loose ends at this point. I intend the next two episodes to be loving and joyful ones...

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  5. Love the embroidery work you did on the little cabin.

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