Edith, Only Daughter

by Sandra Davies

Edith, named for a centuries-ago queen, had been carried unborn into the parish by a mother who understood the power women wield and who forbade any use of the diminutive of her daughter’s uncommon name.

Assuming that she was no different to the rest of the children she ran around with, until reminded by the occasional exclusion from family gatherings, she had been given strength by a mother who met the suspicion of a close-knit community with amusement and exasperation, wryly relating anecdotes of occasional ostracism. She came to see that her lack of siblings and of cousins enabled her to be seen more clearly and later still she knew that her height and the black abundance of her hair set her apart, caused her on occasion to be regarded as potentially threatening.

Formally addressed and standing tall, Edith grew into her individuality and when she had made her choice – a youngest son of a long-established family, attractive and well set up – she used her faintly exotic reputation to gain his attention and thereafter her self-confidence to maintain his respect.

Not without inconsiderable competition but a further advantage of being a single daughter was the quality of her training and the size of the portion she brought to the marriage although, when it came to it, neither she nor he had needed the reminder of the appropriately-named Robert Paternoster that marriage was for the ‘comfort that the one ought to have of the other’ and at the first marriage of that year, on the 4th June 1559, each wholeheartedly vowed ‘to love and to cherish’ the other.

Edith was the grandmother of the man Joan Unknown married.

Sandra Davies is a printmaker born in Essex and living in Teesside. She has just completed 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo but has not yet finished the novel…

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  1. #1 by Gita on December 15, 2010 - 6:31 pm

    I truly enjoyed the images of a straightbacked, black-haired woman and the confused parishioners who didn’t know what to make of the mother and daughter. One can be threatening to some but exotic to others, and no woman should forget that!
    Maybe it’s my North American ear, but I had trouble with the syntax of the sentence starting
    “Not without inconsiderable competition but a further advantage.” I worked it around to mean (I think) that she had considerable competition.

  2. #2 by Sandra Davies on December 15, 2010 - 7:13 pm

    Thanks Gita – that last sentence could have done with splitting, but yes,you did get the meaning correctly – I intended a certain formality, but not confusion.

  3. #3 by Paul D. Brazill on December 15, 2010 - 8:56 pm

    Yep, this is a tasty piece of writing. I’ll be hovering around.

  4. #4 by Ed Dean on December 15, 2010 - 10:56 pm

    Your sense of history and syntax always amazes me Sandra. I never walk away from one of your pieces without learning something.

  5. #5 by Mike Handley on December 18, 2010 - 2:34 pm

    I love the strong women in your worlds. But what’s the diminutive of Edith?

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