Ch. 8: A Friendship & a Name
Kristen S. Sandoz
Besides the Witch Hazel’s nasty hens there were plenty of other animals at the cottage who had less pernicious stories to tell. But I will save that for another day. For now let me just give you a roll call of the others. There were two majestic roosters who did not always get along, the older rooster having one blind eye which made him all the more cocky. Then there was the sweet old Jersey cow who gave her milk faithfully and without complaint each morning. Her name was Blue and everyone loved her. She had tender doe eyes with long lashes and she listened with a mother’s ear to anyone who talked to her. Brother was the old mutt, who mainly slept on the hearth until he was kicked off by the cat. Then he would move to the sunny cottage step where he could keep an eye on the comings and goings as he dozed.
Pearl and Hazel also kept a sow and her fella. Here and there they would produce a litter of piglets all rosy pink and full of squeals. There was a team of smoky carrier pigeons who lived in the loft of the cottage. Hazel used these pigeons to communicate with Pearl when she was called away on various healing journeys. They were truly amazing birds and once in a blue moon or so Hazel’s birds would arrive home with a message from a far off land in which she had left them for that purpose. Those days were exciting ones at the cottage. A message from a distant friend was always welcome. Lastly there was a young yet stubborn mule whom Hazel understood completely. She never made him work when he didn’t want to, but then she only fed him if his work was done. In this way the two got along perfectly. Oh, yes! I mustn’t forget the cottage cat, Bloom, a grey puffball of a thing, who thought she was a queen. She would be incensed if she knew I had left her for last. As far as she is concerned the cottage is hers and all who lived there existed in order to do her bidding.
So there you have it the lively cast of characters who lived at the Witch Hazel’s cottage. But they are not what today’s story is about. Today Justly meets Pearl. If you remember Justly had swung his pup on his shoulders and with a stick in his hand was making his way toward Pearl.
Now I must confess that I have greatly inflated the excitement of this first encounter. I have perhaps led you to believe that some great and amazing thing or conversation took place on this first meeting when in fact the greatest thing that came from it was a friendship and a name. A relatively commonplace conversation took place between the two and it went something like this.
“Good morning, Princess,” Justly called from a little distance.
“It is a good morning, but I’m afraid that your eyes must be bad or you would see that I am most definitely not a princess,” Pearl answered back with a good humored laugh not realizing at first that Justly was indeed blind. Justly continued toward the sound of her voice and came into a patch of sunshine near the well where he set his pup down to play.
“Oh, how your pup shines like a copper penny in the sunlight! Where did you get such a fine animal?” she asked in awe.
“My eyes are truly dark but my arms are quite strong.” And to prove this point he flexed his left arm and asked, “May I help you draw water and I’ll tell you my story?”
Pearl snickered at the sight of this strange boy with dark handsome eyes flexing a rather limp looking muscle mass before her. But she agreed and was happy for the company.
At this point Justly, while helping Pearl with her chores, proceeded to tell her the whole story of who he was and how he acquired the pup and why he was at her cottage. The story amused Pearl very much, being an orphan herself. She was also impressed with the sensitivity this boy show toward a helpless little animal and his capable attitude despite his handicap. He was most definitely the kind of person she wanted to be friends with.
When his story ended the chores were pretty much done and all that was left was milk for the cat and cream for the butter.
“Please, for all your help, come in and meet my aunt and have breakfast with us. I will get your pup a bowl of milk as well, for he looks famished!” remarked Pearl.
This was not an invitation Justly could turn down for he, too, was famished. “Indeed my lady. We would be honored,” said Justly tipping an imaginary hat and bowing the best gentlemanly bow he could imagine.
“Come on then, Court Jester. I’ll race you to the front door!” Pearl challenged as she bumped Justly’s bowing hip bone with hers throwing Justly off balance and tumbling him to the ground. This may seem unfair or malicious to you, considering the state of Justly’s eyes, but it was all in good fun and he scrambled to his feet and made a decent effort at racing Pearl. He was a boy, after all, and I have not met a boy yet who can pass up a chance at competition.
Of course Pearl won, but when Justly arrived at the door she was just setting down a bowl of milk for Bloom, who was not pleased at sharing her throne with a rascally pup. As she set a second bowl down for the pup she patted his head and scratched his ears and said, “There you are little shiny Copper. Enjoy!”
There you have it, both the story of how Justly and Pearl became friends and how Copper got his name. I do hope you weren’t too disappointed in this first encounter. I know it is rather ordinary, but then, Pearl was an ordinary girl. She had no particular good looks or special intellect. She was just like any other girl, and just like other girls she had a few talents: she could sing to soothe the soul and a bit of wisdom when she chose to use it. Otherwise she could have been you or me, if you are a girl, that is.
What’s that? Oh yes! There is that. She was also a princess, but remember, she does not know this, so it doesn’t really count.
This part of my story finally comes to an end. But don’t be gloomy for, as the Witch Hazel has remarked, “One chance meeting is sometimes the beginning of a beautiful story.”
1…My story is done.
2…I love you!
3…Please kiss me.