blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Monday, December 17, 2012

ROAN ROSE (Excerpt)

Rose is a survivor. Having survived a regime change and the death of both her Master and Mistress, deserted by her husband, she is living life as a peasant again.

 Pease porridge hot, Pease porridge cold.  Pease porridge in the pot nine days old…

            Here it was again, the grimy three-legged pot and the peas, oats or cracked wheat, with whey and a drop of honey to dress it up. A thin slice of sheep's milk cheese and maybe a boiled egg, washed down with a swig of bitter ale, was, these days, a feast. As winter came on, I hungered for meat.

Ah, I’d been born at Master Whitby's house--and, lo, and behold--here I was again! Living under the thatch which dripped in a hard rain, cold feet treading a floor of broken flags and packed earth, the border of my plain rough dress ragged and stained, the barnyard smell from the shed behind filling my nostrils.

            When I was feeling very sorry for myself, I'd recall what I'd seen at Bosworth--all those brave comrades of mine, lying blue and bled. At least I’d avoided that.

            At butchering time, I went to Naseby Manor to assist, though it had been years since I'd been near such work. The blood and guts and sorry bawling of the poor cattle made me weep and puke, but I kept at it. In the icy dark, I struggled home with my reward, offal, in a dripping basket.

            Though ready to faint with weariness, I roused Bet and got her to help in slicing the best of our trophy, half a heart and a veiny chunk of liver. That same night, Bett and I and the children sat and gorged, mopping up the juice from a drippings pan. The taste of beef in my mouth made the day of suffering I’d just spent easier.  Overhead, we hung another prize, an ox tail, which, tomorrow, we'd reduce to a fatty, marrow laden soup. It would improve the endless porridge.


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  1. I'm looking forward to reading Roan Rose -- it sounds wonderful! Well, except for this excerpt. Makes me very glad that I live in an era of grocery stores.

  2. Yes, here are women's voices we all know must have existed, in a life none of us would chose. Thanks for the window, Juliet.

    Judith Schara