Superstitions Ch. 05byBlack Tulip©
Chapter 5: Primroses
Have you ever wondered about the birth of words, their history? 'Endless' for instance; without the end. Or 'breakfast'; from breaking your fasting. And a very interesting one, the 'primrose'. Exactly: a prim Rose. No, not the flower, the girl.
Once upon a time there lived a hunter deep in the forest. His wife died when giving birth to his precious daughter, so he had to raise his child on his own. He did a good job and the babe grew into a healthy girl and then into a serious young woman.
Since she grew up in the woods, she learned a lot about the plants and trees, the berries and the flowers. Over the years the girl earned herself a reputation for healing and if someone needed a potion, a salve or a poultice, they went to the hunter's daughter. Well, not exactly.
Ever since his wife died the hunter had been a little odd. At first people told each other he was grieving for his wife. Then they whispered he wanted to spare his daughter the fate of her mother. Whatever his reasons, the hunter made sure his daughter never mingled with the children from the villages nearby and when she was older he never allowed her to meet young men. He guarded his little girl as if she were the most valuable possession in the world. And she was precisely that, to him.
Whenever someone needed her services they could leave a note with the teacher who gave it to the hunter who gave it to his daughter. The remedies traveled the same way backwards, from the daughter to the hunter to the teacher to the person who needed them. Of course, there was a lot of speculation but all the villagers ever found out was her name, Rose.
Over the years people got used to the strange ways of the hunter and they even seemed to forget the young woman in the forest until, one day, the teacher waited for the hunter in vain. He waited one day, then a second day and finally on the third day he decided to search for his messenger. Not sure what he could expect, the teacher asked the son of the smith to go with him.
This Hugh was big and strong but not the brightest of men. He had been a kind and friendly child, but gullible too and the other children in the village had often teased him mercilessly. It had made him wary and afraid of people, and the only thing that had saved him from further harassment was his size. Hugh had grown into a man with broad shoulders and a wide chest, legs like tree trunks and lungs like bellows.
Hugh was a bit afraid to go to new places, but he had learned to keep that kind of feeling secret. Besides, what would be the point of telling the teacher he didn't want to go into the forest? The man had never listened to what Hugh wanted or not wanted. Not once had he protected the slow boy from his cruel peers, so there was no reason for Hugh to expect something better now.
The teacher was a tall gaunt man, slowly turned sour over the years spent in teaching the children of backward villagers instead of the sons and daughters of noble folk. He secretly thought Hugh was just a walking lump of clay and he merely wanted him along for the use of his muscles if the need arose.
Thus the two of them set off in silence, the teacher not wanting to talk with such a dumb-witted hulk and the young man mistrustful of the teacher and life in general. As the hunter had always called on the teacher, the latter was not sure where the hunter lived. Therefore he asked Hugh to lead the way. Hugh was barely able to read and write, but he knew all there was to know about following tracks. His father had at one time wondered aloud if he really was his son and not the son of the hunter. His wife's cursing and screaming had put his mind at rest on that one though. Besides, Hugh was the spitting image of his father with his dark hair and brown eyes.
As they had to search their way it took them all day and half of the second as well to reach the house deep in the forest. It stood in a clearing, in the middle of a beautiful garden filled with all kinds of flowers and herbs. The fruit trees at the back of the house looked like blushing brides with their limbs covered in bloom and the air was full of fragrant smells. A few birds sat twittering on the rooftop and a small wisp of smoke swirled from the chimney.
For a moment the teacher watched the peaceful scene but his reverie was interrupted the door of the fairytale house opened and the hunter's daughter stepped out. Both men held their breath as they saw her emerge into the sunshine. Her long blond hair shone like gold and her arms and legs were the color of honey, a lovely contrast with the pale blue dress that clung to her curves.
Hugh felt as if his chest had shrunk to half its size, crushing his heart and leaving his lungs hardly room to breathe. Never in his life had he seen such a beautiful girl. He was used to ridicule but he never expected the girl to dash inside the house with a scared look on her face.
It took the teacher the rest of the afternoon to calm her down enough so she came out of the house again. She told them the hunter had died in his sleep and she had buried him behind the cherry trees. Hugh sat to one side and listened to the teacher and Rose talking. All he did was drink in her beauty and every time her blue eyes looked his way he felt his face turn hot and red.
After a while Hugh noticed how the teacher was looking at Rose and he felt a little uncomfortable. He had never liked the thin man and he thought his ogling was gross. To his own surprise he heard himself say he would be the messenger from now on. The teacher frowned but could not think of a good reason to protest and Rose's face lit up as she sent Hugh a grateful smile.
So, from that day on, Hugh traveled into the woods once a week to bring Rose messages and supplies and to bring back the salves and potions for the sick. Since he and the teacher were the only ones who knew the way, the villagers even started to treat Hugh with a little more respect and as a result he straightened his spine and held his head high.
One day, maybe two months later, Hugh arrived at the house to hear the sound of panting and muttering from the back. With a frown on his broad face he rounded the house and saw Rose trying to lift a heavy axe. He never said a word but stepped forward, took the axe from her slender hands and worked till there was a respectable pile of logs and kindling.
When he was finished Rose pointed to the pump wrinkling her nose and both laughed as he pulled his shirt off and sluiced the sweat from his body. They were both surprised though by the effect his naked torso had on Rose. The only man she had ever known was her father and now she looked at a healthy, muscled man only a few years older than her.
Her breath caught in her throat and Hugh could see the color rise in her cheeks. His dark eyes full of wonder he reached out and touched the soft skin, tracing her lips with his fingers. For the first time in his life, he touched a girl without her mocking him and he felt a warm glow starting to spread through his entire body.
Without really thinking about it, he used both hands to feel her face, her throat, her arms. Rose just stood there, enjoying the feel of another human being touching her. After a few moments she caressed the broad chest and the muscled arms and how it happened neither of them knew, but suddenly they embraced and the slender girl nearly disappeared in the clasp of the big man.
The touching and kissing led to exploring more skin which led to more kissing and finally they found themselves on the soft grass, their clothes a few colorful patches in the shadow of the cherry trees. Hugh reached out and touched the pink tips on her breasts, surprising Rose and himself as she gasped with the pleasure of it. Rose in turn was fascinated with the hard member between his legs that was so soft to the touch.
Like they were the first people on earth they explored each other, enjoying the warm sun on their backs, savoring the smell of the other, the taste of skin and eventually the pleasure of making the other sigh and moan with desire. Hugh had heard the other boys snickering and whispering of course, and Rose knew how animals mated. Neither of them had expected the joining of their bodies to be filled with so much pleasure however and the rest of that day was spent in kissing and stroking, touching and moaning.
From that day on, Hugh spent more and more time with Rose till he finally decided to go live with her. His father could miss him easily as there were more sons to take over the smithy and Hugh had always liked being outdoors. Rose was happy with the kind and strong man that worshipped the ground she walked on and Hugh was forever amazed that such a beautiful creature could love him. They were very happy for a while and they never gave another thought to the people of the village.
The same could not be said the other way around. The people of the village talked plenty about Rose and Hugh. Among them the teacher, who kept saying it was sinful to let them live together like that. They were not even properly joined by a priest. Mainly because of his carping the town elders finally gave in and decided to have a talk with the young couple.
By now it was the end of the summer and they set out with the teacher to lead the way into the flaming forest. None of the men had eyes for the riot of colors, the lush brambles or the tiny delicate mushrooms adorning a fallen tree. They grumbled and frowned and clumped through the woods on their way to an unpleasant encounter.
Since the teacher guided them they arrived at the hunter's house some time in the afternoon. At first it looked as if there were nobody there, but the teacher urged them to look behind the peaceful cottage. The sour man was the last to round the corner and like the two pompous men before him he stood rooted to the spot.
The sun was over its zenith and the light slanted through the trees, painting yellow and dark-green stripes on the grass and the young woman who was bathing by the pump. For a moment the scene was frozen in time. Then Rose noticed the three men leering at her and with a squeal she snatched her dress and tried to hide her body behind the thin material.
It was no use however. They had all seen the firm little breasts, the swell of her hips and the tempting golden curls between her legs. And each of those virtuous men felt himself respond to her beauty. Rose saw their eyes and recognized the look her Hugh had when he wanted to plunge deep inside her. But these men were strangers and their faces did not show any love or respect for her.
With a sob Rose stepped back, looking for a way out but there was none. The teacher was the first to step further into the garden, licking his thin lips. His hands were already busy loosening the strings on his trousers and he seemed unhindered by the presence of the two village elders at his back. Ever since the day he first saw her, he had been dreaming of her and the thought of that big ox having her had been eating at him almost constantly.
Suddenly he saw the eyes of the girl grow wide and her mouth opened without a sound. As his trousers dropped to his ankles it was a bit awkward to turn around, but over his shoulder he saw the two elders huddling against the wall of the little house. Their faces turned white from fear as they watched a furious Hugh.
In a few steps Hugh was beside the teacher and without giving him the chance to come up with some tale or another, he lifted the miscreant by the neck and shook him in rage. They all heard the bones snap and when Hugh dropped the body to the ground the teacher was already dead from a broken neck.
It took only one murderous look from Hugh's dark eyes to chase the frightened elders away. Hugh calmed his Rose down and afterwards buried the teacher in front of the house. As a reminder to other evil doers he said.
All autumn and winter they were left alone in their little paradise. Since the teacher was no longer there Hugh stopped to act as go-between and the people in the village could no longer ask Rose for help. By the end of the winter they had had enough. They realized they needed Rose or at least her healing skills so they send a few young men to go fetch her.
It was the first day of spring and Rose and Hugh were standing in front of the cottage when Rose suddenly pointed to the grass in front of the house. Right on the spot were Hugh had buried the teacher there sprouted a few unknown flowers, their faces golden like Rose's hair and with a dark heart.
The two lovers were still wondering about this when the young men from the village turned up. They had been part of the pack that had always bullied Hugh as a kid, but their bravado soon disappeared at the sight of the broad chest and muscled arms and legs. It was obvious they would never be able to win a fight so they tried to win through cleverness.
Talking to Rose they came up the path to the house, but as soon as they came abreast the unknown flowers it seemed as if they had run into a wall. No matter what they did, they could not go further. For a while Rose and Hugh watched their antics and then Rose thought of an explanation for the mystery.
The teacher had wanted to harm her so he was doing penance by protecting her from evil spirits. Hugh smiled and nodded. His Rose was a smart woman and no doubt she was right. For once in his life he felt utterly clever as he told the men from the village that they were stopped by prim flowers protecting Rose. The villagers tried to get rid of Hugh on a few other occasions but every time they were stopped by some unseen barrier and every time he laughed at them and pointed at the yellow flowers bordering the path.
Over time the villagers started to call the flowers prim roses and till this day the little yellow blooms protect you against evil spirits. Do you want a safe haven? Plant some primroses in your garden.
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