Never had she owned anything except for her raggedy clothes andoccasional turnips, and now the comb with the cat was hers. The wink andthe comment about her curls, though Beetle didn't know it, were also giftsfrom the generous merchant, and they nestled into Beetle's heart and stayedthere. Beetle settled the pack on her back and started for the village.
In front ofthe Church of Saints Dingad and Vigor she stopped to pull the comb throughher bait. Were these tangles then curls! Beetle leaned over the horse troughand examined her hair in the still water. Definitely curls. Surrounding a thinlittle face with big eyes and a pointed chin. Big nose and big ears and thecurliest hair at the fair.
And looked again. Shelooked about for this Alyce. She blinked and looked at him. These here marks are supposed to show my winning on the horse race, and Ineed you to read them to be sure Cob the Groom is not cheating me. Whatdo it Say? You looklike Alyce. Where is Alyce? Beetle stood perfectly still.
What a day! She had been winked at,complimented, given a gift, and now mistaken for the mysterious Alyce whocould read. Did she then look like someone who could read? She leaned overand watched her face in the water again. And has curls. And could have a lover beforenight- fall. And this is me, Beetle. Beetle was no name for aperson, no name for someone who looked like she could read.
Frowning, she thought a minute, and then her face shone as though a torchwere fired inside her 'Alyce,' she breathed. Alyce sounded clean and friendly and smart. Youcould love some- one named Alyce. She looked back at the face in the water. So the newly called Alyce shifted the pack on her shoulders, and with herhead back and bare feet solid on the ground, she headed back to themidwife's cottage and never noticed when it grew cool and dark, for the heatand Light within her.
The Naming The midwife had lost another tooth, and was hobbling about on her brokenankle, throwing copper pots and cooking spoons about the cottage in heranger at age and teeth and life. My name is Alyce. You look more like a Toad or a Weasel or a Mudhen than an Alyce. Out was no punishment. Out was where there were no kettles to stir; nobottles to fill, no smoky cooking fire. Out was where the air was cool, thissummer morning, although the sun was warm. Out was where Beetle hadspent most of her life. Out was where the cat was. She wanted to tell him about her new name. She had not dared yet say it aloud, but now that she had said it to themidwife, she wanted to tell everyone.
I will say somenames, and you tell me when I have found the right one. The cat sat and stared at her. Gypsy Moth? Beetle stood and walked towards the river, one hand across her belly, theother stuck in her mouth. Beetle was thinking. Who Alyce? Or a sheep. Beetle sighed. This business of having a name was harder than it seemed. A name was of little use if no one would call you by it. The cat woundhimself around Beetle's ankle and purred.
And that was that. While Beetle and Purr walked in the sunshine, waiting for the midwife'stemper to cool enough for them to beg bread and cheese and an onion ortwo, the villagers brought in the last sheaves from the field and, hay harvestover, sat down to eat and drink and give thanks the rain had held off. Severalof the village boys, with too much ale and too few wits, left the celebrationlooking for trouble to cause.
And they found Beetle. Thinks you're a girl or a fine lady down fromthe manor. You friends with the dung beetle, Lady Alyce! Beetle took advantage of Will's distraction to duck beneath his arm, loopher skirts between her legs, and take off down the road to the river. The boyswere faster, but they were drunk, and Beetle reached the river before theydid.
She looked for safety. An open field lay to her right. They could catchher there; they were not that drunk. Straight ahead was the river, but she. No one could. Water was for horses to drink and anoccasional quick bath before weddings and such. A sudden breeze rustled the leaves of a willow, as if it were calling toBeetle.
Up she climbed into the branches, treed like a fox, waiting for whatwould happen next. Pushing and shoving each other, the boys encircled the tree. More ale swigging and chanting and pushing and shoving. Suddenly theboy with red hair lost his footing on the slippery bank and tumbled into thechurning river. Throw me somethin' tograb. But the water pulled Will under for a moment and the boys, grown soberand scared, knocked one another aside in their attempts to get Out Of thereto a place they could claim they had never left when poor Will's drownedbody was found.
So that when Will surfaced again, still spitting andfloundering no one was there but Beetle in the tree, looking down at himwith her eyes great in her white face. Throw me somethin'. Beetle shook her head. Sputtering, up he came, too full of water to call her name or beg for help,only looking at her as his arms slapped the water around him. Beetle crept farther out on her branch. It dipped towards the river, Veryslowly, inch by inch, as the boy struggled not to sink, she crept out until thetip of the branch nearly touched the water.
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And he grabbed it. Slowly, slowly he pulledhimself along the branch until, from his pulling and Beetle's weight, itcracked, and they both fell onto the riverbank. Will lay there while Beetle watched to see was he alive or was he dead. Then he spat river water all over her skirt and she knew he lived to bedevilher again. I did it for else you'dhave drowned and gone to Hell, a drunken loudmouth bully like you, and Iwould have helped send you there and I could not have that, now, could I!
They looked at each other, pretended they hadn't, and went home. Thatnight Beetle had a dream. The pope came to the village and called her Alyceand the king married the midwife and the cat laughed. The Devil If the world were sweet and fair; Alyce she must be called Alyce now and Will would become friends and the village applaud her for her braveryand the midwife be more generous with her cheese and onions.
Since this isnot so, and the world is just as it is and no more, nothing changed. Most ofthe villagers still paid no attention to Alyce at all. Some were mean, likeGrommet Smith, near as big as a dozen Alyces, who would sit on top of thegirl so Jack and Wat could rub chicken manure into her hair; or the miller;who pinched her rump when she brought grain to the mill to be ground. Andsome were kind, or nearly so, like the baker's wife, who always asked Alycehow she fared on this fine day, and the redheaded Will, who threw fewerstones at her since her saving of him and sometimes stopped the tauntingaltogether, saying, 'Aw, this wag grows boresome.
Dick's granny is hangingout the wash. Let's go tie knots in his breeches. It started with the two-headed calf born to Roger Mustard's cow, 'Molly. And then a magpie landed on the miller's barn and would not be chasedaway. Suddenly the whole village saw witches and devils everywhere, andfear lived in every cottage. Alyce, who had slept alone outside in the dark for most of her years, evenat fearful times like All Hallows' Eve and Walpurgis Night, had never yetseen the Devil and had nothing to fear from the night. It was she, then, whowas sent to fetch and carry and deliver messages after dark, while thevillagers stayed in their smoky cottages.
So it was that she saw much of whatwent on in the village and how people lived their lives and spent their time. It was so quiet for a few days, with all the villagers inside and idle, thatAlyce even had a little time to herself, to wander and think and plan, towatch and learn from old Gilbert Grey- Head about the carving andpolishing of wood, and to ask questions of the priest about sin and evil andthe Devil, humming to herself all the while. Then, one damp autumn morning, Robert Weaver found strange footprints,which wound about the village and stopped suddenly at the door of thechurch.
He called Thomas At-the-Bridge, who knew the ways of the woodsand the tracks of the animals, to help him discover what sort of beast hadbeen prowling about while they slept. A weasel has toes. Never a boat, Robert. What has hoofs, is larger than a goat, and moredelicate than a boar, and walks our village by night but stops outside thedoor of the church?
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It only took a few incautiouswords and fearful whispers to convince them that the Devil had found theirvillage and was looking for souls to lead into sin. The next day, the strange delicate hoofprints were found walking aroundDick's granny's cottage and through the barley field. Robert and Thomas andthe priest, whispering paternosters, followed the prints all the way to the millwhere, crossing themselves, they unlatched the door.
The startled millerlooked up, caught in the act of putting some of Dick's granny's grain into hisown sacks. But let us deal with this thief mercifully, for which of uscould withstand the Devil! The next day all was quiet and it was hoped that the Devil had moved onto tempt another village, but as day passed into evening, Kate the weaver'sdaughter ran to the priest with her tale of seeing the Devil's prints leading toWaiter Smith's barn.
The priest and a brave band of villagers armed withrakes and pitchforks and sticks tied into crosses hurried to the barn. Thepriest sprinkled the door with holy water and threw it open. There, cuddledin the haymow, were Grommet, the smith's lardy daughter; and thepockmarked pig boy from the manor. The boy gathered his breeches andflung himself out of the barn window.
Grommet, being larger, moved moreslowly and was caught. For listening to the Devil, Grommet was made to spend the night in prayerand fasting. She wept, though for loss of pride or loss of supper none couldsay. As the villagers sat down to their dinners the next day, Wat with the runnynose hurried down the road, calling, 'I have seen him, a hairy demon withhorns and claws and a great thrashing tail.
He is on the road to the manor;looking for souls to take to Hell. There was no sign of the Devil on the manor road or in the woods on eitherside. Finally the villagers started home, and there near Roger Mustard'scottage were the Devil's prints, marching down the road, past Dick's granny'scottage, around Waiter Smith's barn, and up to the door of William theReeve's cottage.
Again the villagers flung open the door and again found theDevil had been at work, for there was Wat finishing off William Reeve's leg-of-mutton dinner. The priest decided that Wat's gluttony and deceit were the fault of theDevil and not of the boy, so Wat's face was not branded, but William peeve'sbad-tempered pigs were in his care from that day on. The next morning it was a larger group of villagers who followed thehoofprints to the woods where the broken-toothed Jack and his friends wereclearing brush from Roger Mustard's field.
Likely the Devil had tricked theboys into laziness, for they were found asleep and given a sound beating.
Two days went by with no sign of the Devil. The villagers grew calmer,thinking themselves fortunate not to have been tempted by the Devil andthen found out in so public a fashion. Then, on a misty morning, the Devil walked the village again. By this timeno one expected to catch him, but they were eager to see whom they wouldfind in what sin, so all the village followed the prints, except for themidwife, who was called to the manor at the last minute, and Alyce, whowas elsewhere.
The parade of villagers laughed and gossiped out of the village and alongthe Old North Road. As they followed the prints through a field, they grewquiet. The prints stopped near a large tree and so did the villagers. Frombehind the tree came the call, 'Is that you, Jane, my dove' and out leaped thebaker, holding a bunch of Michaelmas daisies and a basket of bread beforehim. All was quiet. The baker's wife stepped forward and took the flowers asthe villagers turned and walked away, leaving her to sort out what was theDevil's work and what the baker's.
After the departing villagers passed the river, at a spot where the water ranswift and deep, Alyce stepped out of the woods. She took something fromunder her skirt, threw it into the river, and followed the crowd home. And soit was that all except the fortunate midwife who had taunted or tormentedAlyce were punished for their secret sine. After this, the Devil was neverseen in the village again, and no one but Alyce knew why. Several days later, in a village where the river meets the sea, there washedup on the banks two blocks of wood carved in the shape of the hoofs ofsome unknown beast.
No one could figure what they were or where they hadcome from, so eventually Annie Broadbeam threw them into her cookingfire and enjoyed a hot rabbit stew on a cool autumn night. The Twins. There being few babies born that September Alyce and the midwife spenttheir days making soap and brewing cider and wine.
The Midwife's Apprentice
The first occupationstank up the air for miles around, what with goose grease and mutton fatboiling away in the kettle, so that Roger Mustard in the manor fields and themiller at his wheel near the river sniffed the air and said, 'Someone bemaking soap today. Alyce was greatly relieved when enough soap was made to wash all thelinen in England, and brewing could begin. First they cooked parsnips with sugar and spices and yeast and poured thisinto casks, where the fermenting mixture sang loud and sweet as it turnedinto wine.
And the same they did with turnips.
Then Alyce, with baskets tied to each end of a pole, walked with the cat tothe abbey gardens to gather fallen fruit. There, lying on the ground as ifscattered by God just for Alyce, were apples, red and yellow, large andsmall, sweet and tart, firm and juicy. She tried a few, but unable to saywhether she liked best the crisp, white-fleshed Cackagees, the small, sourFox-whelps, or the mellow, sweet Rusticoats and Rubystripes, she tried afew more.
The cat, not finding that apples were good to eat, batted the smallones across the yard, imagining they had ears and tails and other parts thatmade things worth chasing. Returning to the village late in the day, with her baskets and belly full ofapples, Alyce cut through the manor field, near where the villagers had dug apit for the quarrying of gravel.
From inside the pit came the cries of somefearsome thing - a beast or a witch or a demon - so she crossed herself andhurried her steps. The demon was calling, 'Come here to me, here to me. Then stopped. The demon sounded mighty like Will, the boy with tad hairwho used to torment her and now did not so much. Cautiously she crept to the edge and looked over It was redheaded lout,and with him his cow.
Tansy has fallen into the pit and I cannot get herto climb out, for she is about to have her calf and will not move. Come andhelp me. This is Tansy's first calf but not mine. Alyce could not bear to leave her like that, so she put down her baskets ofapples and slid into the pit. Will grinned at her. Here, hold her head. Keep herquiet. Sing some- thing soft. Just make sweet noises. And perhaps the cat, who lay above, where Alyce hadleft him, carefully licking the soft pink pads of his feet.
Rub her head and belly. If we can but calm her, God willtell her and the calf what to do. Alyce sang and rubbed, calling the cow Sweetheart and Good Old Girl asshe heard Will do, and the boy pushed and pulled and worked as hard as thecow. Several times they near gave up, but Alyce always found one moresong or one more rub inside her; and Will loved Tansy like she was his babeand not his cow, and so the tired pair kept on. Finally, as day darkened into evening, there came the feet of a calf.
Thenmore feet. And more. Once Alyce and Will took the calves upon their shoulders and scrambledfrom the pit, so too did Tansy, not willing to stay alone in that hard, dark and.
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Like a holy procession they returned to the village, the boyand the girl and the newborn twins and the cow and the cat. Will, so happy with twice the bounty he expected from Tansy, made sureto tell everyone of his luck and of the great help Alyce had been to him, andAlyce felt her skin prickling with delight, although she got in a muck oftrouble for being so long about apple gathering and then losing the basketsas well as the fruit, for in the excitement of the twin calves they were forgot-ten and left behind and never seen again.
As September turned to October and October to November, through allthose days, Alyce grew in knowledge and skills. The midwife, busy with herown importance, did not notice. Alyce, grown accustomed to herself, did notnotice. But the villagers noticed, and as October turned to November and theghosts walked on All Hallows' Eve, they began to ask her how and why andwhat can I. Sometimes for her help or advice someone would pay her aribbon or an egg or a loaf of cheese or bread, which she always gave to themidwife, as if Alyce herself were just the midwife's hand or arm, doing thework and receiving the pay but taking no credit for the task.
One morning as they sat under the old oak tree eating their breakfast bread,Alyce told the cat again about the birth of Tansy's twins. I did not even know them, but I loved them somuch. This sounded to her like a song, so she made singing sounds as shehad that day in the gravel pit, and then sang her words to the tune: All shiny they were, And sticky to touch.
I did not even know them, But I loved them so much. And so it was that Alyce learned about singing and making songs. Hersong brightened the cold grey day so that a cowbird thought it was springand began to sing in the old oak tree. The Bailiff's Wife's Baby A good nut year means a good baby year' the midwife said as she sentAlyce and her nutting basket to the woods to see what kind of a year itwould be.
All day Alyce shook the young trees, climbed into the old ones,and gathered the hard-shelled bounty that fell. Hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts,almonds mounded in her basket and stirred her hunger with thoughts of hotroasted nuts on cold winter nights. That was the limit of her imaginings, fornever had she heard of almond cream, pickled walnuts, or eels in chestnutsauce, such as they ate at the manor or the homes of rich merchants inLondon and York. Coming back from the woods, she saw the boys teasing the cat. She took ahandful of nuts, the biggest and hardest and heaviest in her basket, andheaved them at the boys.
The boys were toostartled by her out- burst to move. And so purr the cat escaped and Alycereached the midwife's cottage unharmed, and until they were quite old theboys in the dark of night sometimes were afraid that the midwife's bottleactually had the power to make them into women. It was fortunate that theboys never tested Alyce's magic, for the bottle she shook so fiercely at themwas naught but blackberry cordial she was to deliver to Old Anna on herway home from nutting in the woods, and although it would have made theboys purple and sticky, no harm would have befallen them and never wouldthey have been able so give birth like a woman.
That night Joan the bailiff's wife sent for the midwife. Alyce lighted Jane'sway through the gloomy night with a rushlight that hissed and sputtered inthe mist. The midwife chased Joan's husband, her young son, two pigs and apigeon out of the cottage, bade Alyce wait for her in the yard, and slammedthe cottage door. Alyce dozed there in the wet through the long hours of the night.
Shortlyafter dawn, when the sky turned not rosy and welcoming as it does insummer but merely a lighter shade of grey, the midwife kicked her awake. By theFourteen Holy Helpers, Joan will have to sneeze this baby out! You goin and wipe Joan's face and I will be back as soon as I can. Lady Agnes atthe manor has started her labour and wishes me to attend her.
They will payme in silver, and the bailiff in chickens and beans. God and the babieswilling, I will have it all. Do not leaveme. You can change your ad preferences anytime. Upcoming SlideShare. Like this presentation? Why not share! Embed Size px. Start on. Show related SlideShares at end. WordPress Shortcode. Full Name Comment goes here. Are you sure you want to Yes No. Be the first to like this. Rife with captivating details of survival in an icy wilderness, this reimagining of the famous expedition to the South Pole, told in Cherry's voice, is an unforgettable tale of courage and camaraderie.
The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. Juli says, "My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss. Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men set off from England aboard the ship Endurance , intending to cross Antarctica from one side to the other.
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Written in collaboration with critically acclaimed National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick, Malala tells her story - from her childhood in the Swat Valley to the shooting, to her recovery, and to new life in England. Ever since running away at the age of fourteen, Paul-Edward, the son of a white landowner and a black slave, has had one dream: to own land every bit as good as his daddy's. While growing up, Paul-Edward loved, and feared, his father, but he loved the land unconditionally. Then, after a rash act of youthful rebellion, he leaves his family behind and vows to succeed on his own.
However, for anyone black coming of age in 's Mississippi, this is no simple goal. The CliffsNotes study guide on Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment supplements the original literary work, giving you background information about the author, an introduction to the work, a graphical character map, critical commentaries, expanded glossaries, and a comprehensive index, all for you to use as an educational tool that will allow you to better understand the work.
This study guide was written with the assumption that you have read Crime and Punishment. Brat has no name, no home, and no shelter against the 14th-century English winter except the foul warmth of a dung heap. So when Jane the Midwife wakes her with a kick and takes the half-starved creature to her cottage, a curious relationship begins. Jane teaches Brat to gather herbs and make the poultices used to ease the pain of childbirth for the village women. The skinny young girl quickly learns to obey the sharp-tongued midwife, and secretly watches Jane practice her art whenever she can.
But Jane is also teaching Brat unspoken lessons that will take longer - maybe a lifetime - to master. A short but good book with a good moral.
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That is not to say there is anything in it that would not be appropriate. I think it is very appropriate. Still, I would want to read this book with my child because it has the potential to open up a lot of questions for discussion. An imagined glimpse at ordinary life in medieval Europe—a bold endeavor in itself. The story of a girl's struggle for survival and socialization in a society which is largely indifferent, and sometimes harsh, although there are pockets of human warmth and hope.
If you are looking for adventure, romance or great historical detail, you will probably not find them here.
There is not even that much dialogue. BUT--those are not the only attributes of a good story, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this in the end. What this story does very well is give an intimate view of the gritty side of life from the perspective of an underprivileged girl well, homeless vagrant, really who gets plucked from her warm dungpile and is thrust into the role of apprentice to a very stern, cold and critical midwife. I found myself pitying the situation of the apprentice, even while the character herself is grateful for this unexpected boon in her life--regular meals and a clean place to sleep.
The crushing comments of the midwife seem purposely cruel, and the apprentice's self-esteem is just about non-existent.