Grace Rostoker presents this very short story for your enjoyment, with best wishes for the Holiday Season.
The Courtship of Mary Jenkin
by Grace Rostoker
"Water be bright, water be clear,
He who will marry me, let him appear"
Sarey gripped my hand tight as we gazed into the dark waters of Bride's Pond,but only the full moon was reflected there; no apparition of a future husband. it was as I had expected, for I set no store by such superstitions.
"Come, Sarey, let's go now. It is too cold the carry on with this nonsense."
But she would not be persuaded. "No, Mary. It will work, I tell you. My mother swears she saw my father's face in the pond and they were married within the year, so we must try again. Scatter more seeds now, do."
I sighed, for Sarey's mother was apt to swear to many a thing when she'd taken a glass or two of cider, but I reached into my pocket for a few of the apple seeds I had brought and strew them onto the water. As the ripples spread we chanted the rhyme once more.
Looking down at the moon's reflection, a small part of my mind did hope that this silly practice might have truth to it.
"I know you like the lad, Mary," my father had said just yesterday, "but if he wants you he must act properly and speak his mind to me. I'll not have you gallivanting with him else."
I knew Father meant what he said. Either William must court me with his blessing or I should have to look elsewhere.
Sarey's scream jolted me from my thoughts. "Oh Lord Above, Mary. Look! Look!"
I froze in horror, all desire for an outcome to our spell vanished, as I saw a face take shimmering form in the water. Then my fear fled and I jumped to my feet as I heard a familiar voice.
"Why, is this Mary Jenkin looking for her husband in Brides' Pond on All Hallows'? I'm surprised at you, Mary. Such a sensible, God-fearing girl as you are supposed to be."
"How dare you creep up and scare us so, William Hull." I tried to sound angry but feared my delight at seeing him must have shown. "And why are you here at all, five miles from your home at this hour?"
"Did I not hear from a little bird that you were coming to the pond to cast your charm tonight? I could not have you seeing any face but my own, could I now? But Mary, we'll have no more of this foolishness when we're wed. I'm to take over the farm come spring, and you'll have no time to spare for witchery."
He paused and looked at me so softly I felt myself begin to tremble.
"Are you willing, Mary?"
Even if I did not already favor him, how could I deny a man who walked five miles on a winter night to ask for me in marriage? And he so tall and handsome. I would not let him know my loving thoughts, however. Not yet.
"If that is your desire then you had best be speaking to my father, William Hull, and as soon as you may for he's impatient to hear my suitor's declaration."
"And you had best be sewing your bride clothes, Mary Jenkin. And be sure you ply a fast needle, for I'm impatient also and I have a fancy to marry on Christmas Eve."
Then did he lean toward me and kiss me on the lips. I heard Sarey's gasp and felt the blood rush to my cheeks.
"Until tomorrow, Mary," he laughed, and ran back to the path to begin his journey home.
I stood quite still for several moments, gazing at the bright moon in the water. The spirits of All Hallows' had favored me tonight; my heart was filled with love and joy. William Hull had kissed me and wanted me for wife.
No doubt my future life will be too full to give time to journal keeping but I have written of these events, for they are precious memories, so that I may revisit them in years to come.
And so this is my story: I Mary Jenkin who will become Mary Hull on Christmas Eve.
A note from the author: Mary and William were married on Christmas Eve in the parish church of Lady's Oak, Dorsetshire, England. Mary became the mistress of Abbot Orchard Farm and for several years her life was busy and - but for one thing - fulfilled. It was on another Christmas Eve that the series of strange events began that caused Mary to take up her pen once more.
If you would like to read more about Mary, please download The Dream of Mary Hull, a 4,000 word short story that is available for FREE from 21 December to 24 December 2014 from Amazon.com.
You can read the story on your Kindle, Kindle app or Kindle program on your computer.