A cheerful little story to tide you over. I have many interests, and as many of you know, sewing is almost at the top of that list. At the very top of the list, is writing. I do not profess to be good at it, but what I write pleases me, and my children greatly. I often tell them stories as I brush out their hair, or through other tedious tasks. This story however, I wrote for a friend just for fun.
Jack, and the Widow Good
Jack was a stumpy little man with a very long beard who lived in a tiny little house on a big white rock in the middle of a little river. He lived there with an overly friendly goat, a fat pigeon and an even fatter rat. He kept his mother in the top rooms of the house. He kept her in the top rooms because she was a very cantankerous little person, and his goat didn’t like her.
Every morning Jack spent 25 minutes combing his luxuriant beard and mustache, making sure it was just so, before he climbed the stairs to face his Mother’s wrath over living in the middle of a river, in a little house with a goat a pigeon and a rat named Sam. She thought, and rightly so, that goats, rats and pigeons do not belong in houses on rivers with Mothers in upstairs and she made sure that Jack knew how she felt every morning and every night.
Jack loved his Mother, even though she was a shaped like a violin bow, and didn’t sing. He loved her in spite of the words that flowed from her mouth like a stream of muddy pond water. You see, Jack was uncommonly optimistic and cheerful. So when his mother hissed at his goat, Jack chuckled. When she waved her walking stick at Jack, he leapt aside with a happy snort. In many ways, Jack resembled his nimble little goat, or should we say his nimble little goat resembled his master.
So every morning as Jack climbed the stairs with his Mother’s breakfast of 1 piece of toast, two little pigeon eggs, over easy with a sprinkle of salt, a dash of pepper and a cup of very irish coffee, he giggled and danced all the way up the stairs. Jack knew that he was very clever by giving his mother irish coffee. He often thought of himself as quite the most pragmatic, problem solver he had met and it never occurred to him that keeping one’s mother in the upstairs of a house in the middle of a river with a little goat, a pigeon and a rat, was not a normal or acceptable thing to do.
One day as Jack rowed to shore to gather coffee, sugar, and the stuff that makes coffee irish, he saw a person of the female persuasion wandering along the river bank, dipping her fingers into the water. She was tall, much taller than Jack, and she had arms like a lumber-jack. Jack had a curious prickling at the top of his head, he felt his eyes water, and suddenly he did not feel clever anymore. His tongue became a heavy wooden block in his mouth and he suddenly did not know where to put the appendages at the ends of his arms. He had the odd urge to comb his beard, and so he did that while sitting in his little boat, rocking in the gentle lapping waves of the river. Feeling the stare, the woman looked up and stared back. She saw a small grizzled man, furiously combing his beard and blinking shyly at her. Being fearless and not at all bashful, she strode over in her sturdy brown boots and reached out a calloused hand. Jack took her hand and shook it while his heart pitter pattered rapidly. It’s not everyday that grizzled little Jack met what he hoped would be the love of his life.
She effortlessly pulled his boat up to the shore, a fact that was not lost on Jack, and he was greatly impressed. Why this woman was made for him! He needed her more than life itself. He would never have to work again if he managed to snare her as his very own.
And so started the love affair between the widow Good, the robust fisherwoman,and Jack the grizzled little man who lived on a rock in the middle of a river with his mother in the upstairs.
After he left the widow Good at the river, he hurried to the library to find out how to woo a woman. One book said to bring her flowers, one said chocolates, and one progressive book even recommended a mixture of the two. Jack thought this was excessive, but he had never wooed a woman, and his mother was no help in the matter. He decided to cast his trust on the author and unquestioningly follow what she said.
Off he went to the local grocery store where he carefully picked out a bouquet of daisy’s that were discounted for the inconsequential dead petals that clung around the outer edges. He gathered the supplies he needed for his home, and carefully picked out a bar of chocolate that was neither too big, nor too small. He paid for his items asked for directions to the widow Goods house before briskly returning to his boat. Leaving his groceries, he hurried inland to find his conquest, to lavish upon her the full intent of his grizzled heart. As he bounced along the road towards her house, he found himself nearly going airborne with the wonderful thought that he might have a wife soon. He had no doubt the flowers and chocolate would work quickly, like a prescription for success, and he was prepared to humbly accept when it fell into his lap.
Imagine his dismay when the widow Good was not home when he arrived. He settled down on the little stoop and waited. He waited all day, and all night. He waited all the next day, until he was forced to eat most of the chocolate to keep up his strength.Finally after the third day, he heard the gate open, and he sat up in relief and prepared his daisys that now looked quite the worse for the wear, and prepared to smile forgivingly at his future wife.
However the widow Good was not pleased at all to find a man on her doorstep, and even less pleased with the half dead brown bouquet that he thrust at her along with a quarter of the chocolate bar. Without a word she gripped his arm, and hurried the little intruder out of her gate, giving him a little shove just before she released him so that he sprawled most unbecomingly into the roadway with a undignified grunt. She dusted her hands off and disappeared into her house without a backwards glance.
Jack was dismayed. How could the book have been so wrong? He dusted himself off, and gathering the frayed edges of his self respect, he turned and stumped back up the road towards town. Back to the library, back to the drawing board. “Onward and upward”,he told himself feeling a little wiggle of optimism. Again he found a book, one that claimed to be a bestseller with important words like acclaimed, and renowned on the back of the dust cover. This book spoke of how much women loved the written word, poetry if you will. The author even sat outside his sweethearts window on a balmy spring evening and wooed her gently while she lay asleep on her feather bed.
Jack was doubtful this would work, but not to be outdone, he found a book of prose that he found deeply meaningful, and he set about his mission with renewed fervor. That evening, as the sun slipped behind the horizon, he sat outside the widow Goods open window and started to read his poetry.
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar.
Jack tried to speak confidently, but he was unsure how to pronounce some of the words, and plus the widow Goods little dog was barking so loudly, he was quite sure she couldn’t even hear him anyway. But he bravely forged on.
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture……
….and with that the widow Good had enough. She flung a heavy earthen jar out the window and right into the side of Jack’s head.
Jack felt nearly apoplectic with rage. The widow Good was proving to be much more difficult to woo then he had expected or planned for. And with that, he hurried down the road with his ears ringing and his nose stinging at the rejection. Back to his boat, to his wilted groceries, and across the river to his goat, his pigeon, his rat and his mother and no more of this women stuff he told himself with disgust.
But the next morning as the sting of rejection started to fade, he again felt a smidgeon of hope, perhaps the widow Good appreciated an honest straightforward approach, so he sat down at his little table and he penned a letter to the widow Good.
Pleze dont teer my letr up. I am a lonly man who needs a wif. I hav a gote a pign a rat and a mothr. I am not reech but I am hapy. Com cee me in my rever hous and mybe marry me.. Love sincrly Jack
Upon receiving the letter from the curious mailman who waited with her while she opened it, and even looked over her shoulder and tried to read the letter with her, the widow Good was dismayed that she had so misunderstood Jacks advances. She was very pleased that Jack wanted to marry her. She packed up her few pieces of clothing, gathered her little dog, and made haste to Jack’s little river house.
Jack was despondently talking to his overly pudgy rat when he saw a small cloud of dust far inland on the horizon. In amazement he watched the cloud get bigger until it transformed into the widow Good in her best brown frock, marching down the road with her little dog barking madly in tow. He rushed downstairs to row across the river and fetch her.
What a morning they had as he introduced her to his mother , his rat, his goat, and his pigeon. The widow Good wisely held her tongue and she married him that afternoon on the courthouse steps, because the judge was leaving and wouldn’t be back until the morning. Jack was afraid to wait until the morning because he thought the widow Good would think too much and become uninterested. The widow Good was afraid Jack would not find her as pretty on the morrow and she was no fool. She wanted that little house on the river, and she wanted a husband, so they rushed each other to the courthouse and were married at once.
The widow Good who was not a widow anymore, made some brisk changes. The rat was swept out the door, the pigeon sent fluttering inland. The dust flew as the widow Good sent Jack to dispose of the stacks of musty newspapers, and all the things that Jack had collected all those many years he lived on the river without proper supervision. Jack watched her with a mixture of adoration and horror.
Who was this woman he had married?
Would he be allowed to keep his goat?
“Yes”, she decided, the goat would stay, but not inside, the goat was banished out onto the rocks, and the little yappy dog stepped in and commandeered all his favorite spaces.
The biggest change of all happened the next time Jack went inland for more supplies. When he returned, his cantankerous little mother was settled on the veranda with a rich cup of coffee without even a hint of irish. Her eyes were sparkling and she looked happy. Happy? Yes, Jack’s mother was happy! She lived out the rest of her days getting fatter and fatter on the widow Goods fine cooking, and once a week as Jack walked past her on his way to feed his bitter banished little goat, she would reach out and whack him with her walking stick for all the years he kept her in his upstairs and fed her pigeon eggs and toast. But Jack didn’t mind. He too got so fat he needed to order some suspenders to hold up his trousers as his ever more rotund belly encroached out over his waistband.
The widow Good was happy too. She had her house on the river, her small rotund husband, and her dog. After a few months of marriage, she allowed Jack to call her Cornelia for the first time.
Jack and Cornelia never read another marriage book, and they lived happily ever after in their little house, and the goat, on the rock in the river.
The pigeon and the rat were forced to live the lives meant for pigeons and rats and they became quite thin and unhappy over the change the widow Good brought into their lives. Indeed if it were not for them, this story would end perfectly as all good stories should.