Chapter 24. Hannah’s Courtship
Cowell Estate 1667
I arrived at the Cowell's estate and was greeted by John's father, Edward and John. John's twin Edward Jr passed from yellow fever 5 years ago, and his mother passed a few years ago, so it was only the two of them.
We went into the dining area, and there was a dinner of chicken soup, fresh baked bread, butter, and cornbread with strawberry preserves for dessert. They offered cider, milk or ale to drink.
We sat down to eat, and his father asked me lots of questions. They even asked me about my father's drinking. I said, "My Papa had a very difficult decade in the late 1640's and 1650's. He dealt with the loss of three friends and 5 children. I am the second born. My brother Junior, born a year before me passed away a month before my brother John Jr was born. Then three babies died between Joseph and Benjamin, and my baby sister died in infancy after Jacob was born. His business is stressful, so he tends to seek comfort and relaxation from drinking. Now it seems to be a habit for him. He tries to stop, but it is hard. He is a man who loves God, his wife, and kids. We have learned not to follow his drinking habits.
John's father said, "I never knew that he has had so much loss. I can understand his frustration and stress. I am glad you kids learned not to do those behaviors." I said, "Well, my mother is very strict with us. We have been raised well. My father has always viewed his relationship with my mother as an equal partnership. They do not make any decision without discussion. He even includes my mother in land purchases. Their marriage is based on love and mutual respect. All of us want this kind of marriage.
John added, "I witnessed that one day when I came over to play with your brothers. Your parents were very respectful toward one another. You could tell that they love each other deeply, and even sew together. Did your father teach you his trade like the boys?"
Hannah said, "He taught me how to measure, hem and make my own clothing. My mother taught me embroidery and quilting. I even learned how to spin thread and weave cloth. My mother taught me nursing, and about healing herbs. My parents sent me to primary school to learn to read, write and arithmetic. I also learned how to care for children and to cook. I baked many cakes for my mother's birthing team for at least 7 of her labors."
They sat at the table in awe. Their mouths were agape when I finished my talk. John was speechless.
After a few moments of silence, John's father gave his approval of me as John's potential spouse. They agreed that a marriage based on love and mutual respect is best. John asked me why he hadn't seen me when he played with my brothers. I said, "I was the oldest child and a girl, so I spent lots of my time in the home helping Mom, doing my chores, reading my Bible, praying and sewing. The golden needle is used daily. I am working on a quilt with it right now. You might have been in the yard, but I was inside. I was in my room writing to my friends who moved away. When I came into your shop last month, it was the one and only errand my father sent me on. It was a matter of fate that we met then."
John replied, "That makes sense. I agree that it was fate." We looked at each other, and smiled. His father stated, "Man John, I hope fate is as good to me again as its has been to you! You both are so connected you can see the electricity from here." We all laughed! After a slight pause, Edward told John that he would like to remarry again. He wanted to get John's opinion about that. John said, "Man was not meant to be alone, and his mom was dead, so he can remarry if that would make him happy." Edward also stated, "My plan is to give you this estate, the shop and land as a wedding gift. I am moving to start fresh and marry again. I would also like to have another child too." John gave Edward a surprised look, and said, "Wow! Thank you Dad! I will let you know when I plan to wed. Right now, we just started courting." Hannah was astonished. She looked at Edward and said, "This meal was delicious. Do you have someone to cook for you since your wife passed?" He said, "Yes, I hired a few indentured servants to cook and clean for us. Their contracts are done soon, so by the time you both marry, you will have limited helpers." Hannah responded, "Well, my mother started out alone, then my father hired a three maids to help her. Having lots of children to care for takes up your time, so she needed help. I would hire help when the time comes. I definitely gained lots of skills to be a good wife. When I come over again, I will cook a meal for you. "John, What are your favorite foods?"
"I love all foods except for the taste of squirrel and rabbits." I squished my face up in disgust at those animals. I said, "I never cook those meats, so we are good. Are there any vegetables you dislike? He told me no. I said, "Oh Good, then I will make a stew for you two.
When we finished the cornbread and preserves, John gave me a tour of his home, and showed me what he was working on in his shop. He was making new horseshoes for a client. He told me that blacksmithing was dirty, but fun to do. He had some time free, so we went for a walk in the gardens. Even though it was winter, you could still see the layout. I asked him if they grew flowers. He said that there are a couple Rose bushes because his mother was an avid gardener and loved roses. I stopped and looked in John's blue eyes, and told him. "Your mother had good taste." He said, "I'm glad you approve. Hannah, if it was summer, I would give you a whole bouquet of them. He raised his hand and moved a couple stray bangs from my eyes. I am falling for you." I looked into his eyes and told him, "Ditto". He kissed my cheek and said, "You look cold. Let me walk you home. I noticed it was starting to get dark, so I said, "Sure. Do not forget to grab a weapon to keep your person safe." He grabbed his weapon, and walked me to my home. I told him I had a great time. He gave me a look of longing. "I really do not want to leave, but I have to."
I said, "I will see you tomorrow. Come over with your father for dinner tomorrow here at 1 PM." He accepted my invitation, kissed my forehead and bid me goodbye.
The following day at the Hurd's
John C. POV
I arrived at Hannah's house and was greeted by her father, John, her mother, Mary, Joseph and his wife, Sarah, John Jr, Benjamin, Jacob and finally Hannah. She just finished cooking dinner. She cooked with some help, Beef stew, homemade bread, butter, ale and cookies for dessert. We ate it all and it was delicious. After dinner, the parents were talking. Hannah brought me to the sewing room. She showed me the quilt she was sewing. She showed me her embroidery, and the weaving projects she has done. She gave me a tour of her father's shop. Then we put on our winter cloaks and went to the gardens. She told me about the herbs her mother has grown and about nursing. I think I fell for her more.
These visits happened daily and we alternated them for months. Three months after Joseph gets married, his wife, Sarah announces she's with child. The family was ecstatic about the news. The baby is estimated to come in October. Hannah has been very busy with her projects and sometimes brings them over during her visits.
I decided to finally propose marriage, so I visited her father one morning in his office. He offered me a beverage. I decided to have tea to drink. While we had tea, I asked him, "John, I would like to take the next step with Hannah. May I have your blessing to have her hand in marriage?" John gave me a serious look and responded, " John, you have followed all of my courtship rules. I have watched your love for each other grow deeper every day. You have an excellent source of income to support her. Therefore, you have my blessing!
This is the process. Once she accepts your proposal, you will have a betrothal ceremony. This is a promise to marry. Then we set a date, submit banns three Sundays. Once your betrothal and marriage is approved, you will marry. The week before your wedding, you will face a massive test. You will be asked to sleep in Hannah's bed with a board dividing you. During this test, you must resist temptation to be intimate. You have to stay dressed. You may hold hands, hug and kiss, but no intimate touching. You know my stance about that."
I replied, " I understand and agree. We will wait for our wedding night for that activity."
I left the office feeling like I was on a cloud. I went over to Hannah and asked her to accompany me to my mother's garden. She agreed, and stopped what she was doing. We walked down the street and into my yard. I had cut some roses from a bush. I stopped, looked into her eyes, and said, "Hannah, I love you so much. You give me your light daily. I want to know if you could give your light forever and be my wife?" She kept her gaze on my eyes and replied, "Yes, I will." I gave her the roses, and then I planted my lips on hers. The kiss was our first, and it was perfect. Her kiss tasted sweet like syrup, and it was full of passion. We both were weak in the knees and when we stopped, we had to catch our breath......
The betrothal, birth of grandchild, Hannah finally gets married.
I realize these chapters are long, but I wanted to cover each child's stories because it is part of John and Mary's life. Hannah is the only daughter, so her story is covered more for many reasons. She has a role to play. She is a nurse, so she will be at births, and sicknesses. She even outlives all of her brothers except John Jr. There is a chance that Hannah and her offspring will have their own book. I'll decide later.
Next chapter: First Grandchild and Hannah's Wedding
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