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                                 THE WISE GOODWIFE 
          "Gramma, I feel hot."   
          "Lands, child, on a cool fall day like this?  Come here and let me
      feel of your forehead.  Tsk!  Feels like fever.  Off to bed with you!" 
          "Gramma, I don't feel good."   
          "I know, child, I know.  I reckon it's time to ask Goody Hawkins
      to help us."   
          "Who's Goody Hawkins?"   
          "Hush, now, try to sleep.  I'll come back soon."   
          "Gramma, where did you go?"   
          "Out into the woods back of the farm, child."   
          "Why, Gramma?"   
          "To get Goody Hawkins' help."   
          "Who's Goody Hawkins?"   
          "Well, that's a long story."   
          "Tell me a story, Gramma."   
          Well, you know 'bout the pilgrim days, Thanksgiving and all. 
      Those people way back then, that first time, were giving thanks that
      they'd lived a whole year in a whole new country, without too many of
      'em dyin'.   
          Lotta times you see pictures, drawings, with lots of Indians
      standin' there to welcome them folks.  Well, 'taint so.  Weren't
      nobody there when they got off that boat, not but one Indian, all
      alone.  Hist'ry books say it was him, Squanto, as taught them first
      folks how to live through one of our winters -- ice 'n sleet 'n snow
      'n all, not like they had back in England, where they come from.  But
      that ain't rightly so, neither.  Squanto, and a few other friendly
      Indians as wandered in later, they taught the menfolk.  But the women,
      those days, well, they weren't s'posed to be important, even though
      they did most o' the work, so we don't hear 'bout them much.   
          Well, a woman come off'n that boat, not quite yet old as your
      mamma, and her name was Grace Hawkins, but ever' one called her Goody
      Hawkins.  "Goody" is short for "good wife", and it's like callin' a
      lady "Missus" today.   
          Goody Hawkins was young and pretty, though you couldn't tell that
      very well, 'cause in those days the womenfolk wore long skirts and
      long sleeves and bonnets to tuck in and hide their hair.  So Goody
      Hawkins had beautiful long brown hair, though you couldn't see it, and
      skin soft as the skin of a peach.  But she had a nice young husband
      who loved her very much, and he knew how pretty she was.   
          And Goody Hawkins was one more thing that made her very special:
      she was a wise woman, who knew plants and herbs and roots and barks to
      make sick people feel better.  They didn't have doctors like we do
      now, just a lot of men who figured if you were sick your blood was bad
      and so they'd make you bleed.  That got people sicker, more often than
      not.  They thought they were real smart, them old doctors, and maybe
      they were smart about gettin' money from folks.  But they weren't
      smart 'bout the folks themselves, mostly 'cause they were too busy
      listening to each other talking 'bout high-falutin' doctor things in
      big words than listening to the sick bodies of the sick people.   
          But Goody Hawkins was different.  She listened to the people
      talking 'bout what hurt them, and she felt of their heads and wrists
      and looked into their eyes and ears and mouths.  And sometimes she
      didn't seem to look at them at all.  She just closed her eyes and
      looked at them with her heart.  And then she'd go into big clay pots
      and little wooden boxes in her house, and pick out just the thing a
      sick person needed.  And do you know how she knew just the right
      thing, how Goody Hawkins could see with her heart and not just her
          Goody Hawkins was a witch.   
          No, not like you dress up at Halloween.  A real witch, a real wise
      woman.  No warts, no wire hair, remember I told you she was pretty. 
      And no flying broom, neither.  She didn't need to fly, 'cause she
      could see ev'rything.   
          Well, no, she didn't have a crystal ball.  But they way my granny
      told me, and her granny told her, was that she had a big silver bowl,
      a real treasure.  And she'd pour clear rainwater in that bowl, and
      look into it in the nighttime, with just a candle for light.  And they
      say she could see miles away, and even years away.  Into yesterday,
      say, or last year, or ten years ago.  And sometimes, she could see
          A cauldron?  Why of course she had a cauldron.  Ever'one did,
      those days, just like we have pots and pans today.  But she only had a
      little one at first--remember, they were poor in them first few years
      in America, and iron costed a lot of money.  Goody Hawkins had just
      the little cauldron she brought with her from home, only as big as my
      big soup pot.   
          What did she boil up in her cauldron?  Well, not babies, I can
      tell you that!  It was herbs, mostly, tree bark and roots and such. 
      Anise and coltsfoot, simmered with a little sugar or honey, as good a
      cough syrup as you can find nowadays, and even better than some. 
      That's a recipe my granny's granny knew, and likely Goody Hawkins as
      well.  Goody Hawkins made ointments from herbs and grease, she made
      soaps for fleas and lice, she brewed teas, she made mashes for cuts
      and bad hurts to make them heal clean and fast.   
          But I haven't told you the best part: Goody Hawkins could do
      magic.  Not like making scarves disappear in her fist or pulling
      quarters out of your ear.  I mean spells, oh yes, and special little
      bundles of things in little bags to keep in your pocket or put under
      your pillow.  These had herbs in 'em, yes, and besides that she could
      put in a special rock, maybe, or a little short twig from a certain
      tree, or a piece of paper with secrets written on it, or any such
      small thing.  You could wear one for good luck, sleep on one to have
      good dreams.   
          In the nighttime, often, you could see a light shining in Goody
      Hawkins' cottage, warm and bright, and if you listened real hard, you
      might hear words, strong and beautiful, or singing so soft and sweet
      it might have come out of a fairy hill.   
          And in the daytime, oh, the smells that came out of that cottage! 
      You could tell what was brewing by the smells of the herbs in the
      breeze.  Rosemary, mint, clove and cinnamon, lemon-leaf, basil,
      horehound and lavender.   
          And hanging from the ceiling in one corner of the cottage were
      always bunches of drying herbs, filling the whole room with spicyness
      and sweetness.  She brought the little boxes special from her home in
      England, but the rest she got right here, from the meadows and
          One day she was in the forest, gathering plants for medicines. 
      Some of the plants were just like at home, she knew them right away. 
      Others she didn't know, and them she would look at, and smell, and
      taste of--it was right dangerous, that, but weren't no other way to
      find out about 'em.  This spring day, after their first long hard,
      winter had passed, Goody Hawkins went to pluck a leaf off'n a plant,
      to taste it.   
          Suddenly, she heard a crashing in the bushes and a woman's voice
      crying out to her.  She turned around and who should she see but an
      Indian woman, near her own age, come runnin' toward her, talkin' words
      she couldn't understand.  This Indian woman, she snatched that leaf
      from Goody Hawkins and shooed her away from that plant quick as she
      could.  The Indian woman pulled out a thin stick, rounded at one end,
      and waved it so that Goody Hawkins thought the other woman might hit
      her with it, so she backed up, afraid.   
          But the Indian woman turned to the plant and commenced to digging
      it out of the ground with her stick, digging up the roots.  The Indian
      woman pulled off the roots and pushed them into Goody Hawkins' hands,
      keeping some for herself.  She put the roots into a deerskin bag, and
      'twas then that Goody Hawkins saw other herbs and things in that bag,
      and figured out that t'other woman was in the woods for just the same
      job as herself, namely, getting herbs.   
          Even though they didn't speak each other's language, by
      pantomiming and pointing they could understand each other, and Goody
      Hawkins learned that the leaf she'd been about to eat was deadly
      poison.  But the roots were good eating, roasted or boiled just like a
      potato.  How 'bout that!  Plants are funny that way.   
          Goody Hawkins realized she owed her life to the Indian woman, for
      warnin' her off'n them leaves.  But she didn't know just how to thank
      her new friend.  Still, they spent the rest of the day walkin' in the
      woods, an' Goody Hawkins learned more about the new world's plants in
      one day than she could've in weeks if she'd had to figure things out
      for herself.   
          And by the end of the day, Goody Hawkins knew some Algonquin, and
      the Indian woman, Namequa, knew some words in English.  Namequa saw
      Goody Hawkins back to the little town and then faded into the trees
      almost like magic.   
          Well, the seasons came and went, and Goody Hawkins had her hands
      full trying to keep people well, what with the snakes and unfriendly
      Indians and poisonous plants all around.  The folks couldn't get none
      of the plants they brought with 'em to grow very well, 'cause the
      weather was so different from England's.  That mean that folks weren't
      eatin' right, and 'specially with the children that was bad.  But
      Namequa showed Goody Hawkins plants that were good eating, and Goody
      Hawkins showed the other womenfolk, and for a time the folks there
      lived like Indians, what with the menfolk learnin' to hunt and fish
      from Squanto and the women learnin' to gather wild plants to eat from
      Goody Hawkins and Namequa.   
          That first thanksgiving feast, they didn't eat just the corn and
      squash and beans that Squanto showed the men how to grow, they also
      had roasted-seed mush and lamb's-quarters gathered by the women.  All 
      those, and the deer the neighboring Indians brought, well, that was 
      some dinner!   
          Well, little by little, them folks got settled.  Other ships came,
      with more people, and, later, with cows and other stock.  And then
      Goody Hawkins was busier than ever, 'cause she was s'posed to take
      care of sick animals, too.  Back then, if a cow didn't give milk,
      folks were apt to think the fairies had stolen the milk in the night,
      so 'twas only natural they should ask their wise woman for help.   
          Before long, there were babies, too, human and animal, and mothers
      needed Goody Hawkins' help to bring 'em into the world.  Somehow,
      though, through all of this, Goody Hawkins kept time to visit with her
      good friend, and to keep learning, and to look into her silver bowl
      every now and again.   
          Well, the years went on, and ever'body got older, and some folks
      just died from getting old.  Goody Hawkins' husband died too, and they
      hadn't any children, so Goody Hawkins should have been alone in the
      world.  But she had her friend Namequa, and every little child in the
      town called her "Aunt Grace"--she wasn't their real aunt, you know, but
      they loved her like she was, 'cause she made them things, like
      sweet-scented pillows, and spicy cookies, and she always listened to
      them when they told her things.  Goody Hawkins had learned a lot from
      Namequa's tribe, and now that she had no husband to take care of, she
      spent more time visiting with her Indian friends, and they learned
      from her too.   
          Indian magic is full of drums and dreaming.  Goody Hawkins' magic
      was full of words and wishing.  But she was careful not to let the
      rest of the folks know she was learnin' and teachin' magic.  Why not? 
      Well, folks don't like what they don't understand, is all.  People
      were afraid of lots of things in them days, 'specially in a strange
      new place.   
          And as more o' them Puritan preachers come over from England, the
      folks would be more secret 'bout visiting Goody Hawkins, not wanting
      the preachers to know they was holding to the old ways.  And the
      preachers, 'specially one Pastor Langford,  looked sidewise and never
      straight on at Goody Hawkins, bein' afraid she might hex 'em or some
      such nonsense.  Well, Pastor Langford thought she was workin' for the
      devil, but he didn't want to say it outright, 'cause folks liked her.  
          But even that was changing as Goody Hawkins spent more time with
      Namequa's tribe, and folk got to whispering about it.  There was a
      number of men interested in marryin' to her, after her husband died,
      saying it wasn't right for a woman to live alone, but she didn't care
      'bout any of 'em.  She said no to all of 'em, and some of 'em went
      away mad.  And folk got to saying things outright.   
          One lady said she seen Goody Hawkins dancing naked with all them
      Indians.  Another said there was a demon keeping Goody Hawkins
      company, which was why she wasn't wanting to marry again.  Somebody
      else said that it was that demon that killed Goody Hawkins' husband. 
      All round town words buzzed like stinging wasps.  Now, when a cow
      wasn't giving milk, it was Goody Hawkins, not the fairies, who they
      thought had stolen it.  Folks began to keep their children away from
      her.  And Pastor Langford came right out and made fiery sermons about
      witches and the devil and sin and punishment.   
          Goody Hawkins saw and heard all of this, but what could she do? 
      It was her word against the words of respectable folk, and nobody was
      going to believe her.  So she kept silent, kept to herself, and
          She didn't have to wait long.  One evening, she came home from a
      visit to her Indian friends and found her cottage in ruins.  Jars were
      smashed, boxes thrown all over.  The herb-bunches had been torn down
      from the ceiling, her cauldron overturned, Bible verses scrawled all
      over the walls with charcoal from her fireplace.  "Thou shalt not
      suffer a witch to live", they said, and Goody Hawkins felt cold in her
      heart because she knew that the people wanted to kill her.   
          And worst of all, her beautiful silver bowl was all bent and
      crushed, like someone had hit it with a hammer.  Goody Hawkins sat
      down at the table in the midst of the mess, and cried.   
          She felt helpless and angry.  She wished she really could turn
      people into toads.  She made half-hearted tries at cleaning up, but
      gave it up.  Her heart burned with wanting to hurt the people who'd
      done it, and froze with knowing her life wasn't worth a straw to 'em.  
          My granny said, that in that hour the devil did come to her,
      offerin' to kill the townsfolk for her, if she'd give up her soul to
      him, but Goody Hawkins chased him out with her broom.  I think more
      likely, she thought about putting poison in the well-water, but knew
      that not only would that poison the townsfolk, it'd poison the water
      and the earth, and the water and earth hadn't hurt her.  And she knew
      that killing all those folks would poison her soul, too, forever, make
      her sour and angry as a real wicked witch.   
          So instead, she gathered all her power to her, all her love and
      strength; she threw down her hiding bonnet, and shook out her hair,
      which was getting grey by now, and walked proud and tall out into the
      town square.  The folks began to gather round, saying hateful things. 
      But Goody Hawkins lifted up her arms and began to sing, strong and
      sweet, in the old tongue that nobody but wise folk could speak
      anymore.  And when the folks saw that their words couldn't hurt her,
      they commenced to pick up stones to throw at her.   
          But before they could throw their stones, the preachers came and
      said she'd have to have a proper trial.  So soldiers took Goody
      Hawkins away with them, away from the shouting people, and she was
      still singing as they locked her up.   
          They tried to get her to tell them things, like was she partners
      with the devil, and had she hexed people and animals, and did she have
      a demon helper, and did she change into a cat to steal milk, but she
      never did nothing but close her eyes and sing softly, smiling like she
      saw something beautiful.  So finally they gave up and took her to the
          There all kinds of people told stories about Goody Hawkins and
      things she'd never really done.  And all through it, Goody Hawkins
      stood tall, and looked straight in the faces of the folks as was doing
      the telling.  When ever'one was through with their lyin', the judge
      asked Goody Hawkins had she anything to say.   
          Goody Hawkins looked round at the folks, looking like your momma
      when she's gonna scold you, and began tellin' each one what she'd done
      for them.  This one wouldn't be alive if Goody Hawkins hadn't helped
      his mother with the birthing.  That one's daughter was deathly sick
      with fever, and Goody Hawkins cured her.  The other one's cows were
      dropping down dead before Goody Hawkins found out they were eating
      poisonous leaves.  There wasn't one person in that courtroom Goody
      Hawkins hadn't helped somehow over the years.  And folks were looking
      like you do when you're getting a scolding and you know you've been
          But Pastor Langford butted in and said that Goody Hawkins must
      have led the cows to the poison leaves, she must have made the little
      girl sick, she must have put a hex on the mother so her baby had
      trouble being born.  And even though some folks still looked
      uncertain, the rest of 'em started howling for Goody Hawkins to die,
      and that was that.   
          They took her out to the town square where there was a big oak
      tree, to hang her onto it.  Some soldiers held the crowd back, while
      two of the others tied Goody Hawkins up, tied a rope around her neck,
      and threw the other end over one of the branches of the tree.  Goody
      Hawkins wasn't scared to die, but she was scared of the pain, though
      she didn't let the people see that.  She looked out at them and
      smiled, and was glad to see some people quit their shouting and look
          Pastor Langford come up, looking nervous, and said, "Do you wish
      to confess your sins?  You may yet be forgiven and reach Heaven."   
          Goody Hawkins just smiled and said, "I have nothing to confess or
      be forgiven for, nothing I am ashamed of.  I want no part of your
          The preacher fairly threw a fit right there, choking and
      stuttering, he wanted so bad to cuss and swear at her but couldn't in
      front of the townsfolk.  So he just pointed to the soldier holding the
      end of the rope, and he commenced to hauling on it.   
          Goody Hawkins felt the rope tighten and her ears started to ring,
      and she took what she was sure was her last breath.  But suddenly
      there was a scream, and the rope went loose.  Her head cleared, she
      looked around, and saw the soldier who'd been pulling her up holding
      onto his arm, where there was an arrow sticking out of it.   
          Folks was shouting and running all over the place, and Goody
      Hawkins saw that a whole tribe of Indians had come out of the woods
      like magic with bows and arrows and spears and all.  The soldiers
      couldn't get a clear shot at none of the Indians, what with folks
      running round like ants when their hill gets kicked over.  And in the
      middle of all that hollerin' and confusion, Goody Hawkins felt a sharp
      blade between her wrists, cutting the ropes that tied her.   
          There was two Indians there, a big young man and Goody Hawkins'
      friend Namequa who held a finger to her lips to shush her.  The young
      man scooped Goody Hawkins up in his arms, and ran into the woods
      carrying her.   
          All of a sudden, the Indians disappeared like morning mist, and
      when the folks looked round, Goody Hawkins was gone too.   
          The folks never saw her again, and Namequa's tribe were never as
      friendly to them.  Goody Hawkins' cottage was just left to fall down
      and rot, and nothing in it was ever touched.  But some folks was sorry
      Goody Hawkins was gone, 'specially when they got sick, or their
      children or animals.  And one day a mother whose little baby was sick
      as could be and nobody could help her, she went into the woods by
      herself, carrying an iron pot.  She walked into a clearing, and
      waited, listening.  The woods got quiet, like they were listening too,
      and the lady commenced to talking about the baby's problem and asking
      for help of whoever was listening.   
          She put the pot down, turned around, and walked out of the woods
      without looking back.  The next day, she came back, and where she'd
      left the pot, there was a little bundle of herbs, wrapped up in a soft
      deerskin.  She ran home with it, and made it into tea for her baby,
      and the baby got better.   
          Well, word of the cure got round among the womenfolk.  Real quiet
      like, it got round, not like the lies 'bout Goody Hawkins had gotten
      round before.  They kept it a secret from the preachers, and after a
      while the preachers forgot about Goody Hawkins.   
          And ever' once in a while, a woman would slip away from the town,
      out into the woods, carrying some small thing, that she thought Goody
      Hawkins might be able to use, knowing that Goody Hawkins was out there
      somewhere, and would hear them.  And always there would be an herb
      packet there the next day, or a little charm, or some such.   
          As the years went by, the herb packets stopped appearing, but the
      woman who turned back would see a shaft of light fall on some plant,
      and would take of that back home with her.  And finally, even that
      stopped, but somehow the help always came, somebody got better.  There
      was a song, too.  My granny's granny taught her this song, and my
      granny taught it to me, to sing to Goody Hawkins when we needed help:  
          With heavy heart I come and stand   
                      The oak and bonny ivy,
                 A gift to offer in my hand.
                         The hazel, ash and bay tree.   
              How can I hope for any good 
                        The oak and bonny ivy,
                 By standing in the empty wood?           
                      The hazel, ash and bay tree.   
              But I will trust and dry my tears,   
                      The oak and bonny ivy,
                 And know that the Wise Goodwife hears.  
                      The hazel, ash, and bay tree.   
      Tsk!  Asleep already.  Good.   
          "Child, what are you doing out of bed?"   
          "I feel better, gramma!"   
          "Let me feel of your forehead.  Well, that's fine."   
          "Gramma, can I have my coat?"   
          "Where are you going, child?"   
          "Out to the woods, gramma."   
          "What's that you have there?"   
          "It's a picture, gramma, look."   
          "Well, that's right nice.  I think I can guess who that is.  And I
      see you've given her back her silver bowl!  She'll be happy.  Off you
      go, then."   
          "Bye, gramma.  I'll come back soon."   
      (c)copyright 1986, Leigh Ann Hussey.  Used with permission.
      If you enjoyed this story, send $5 to: Leigh Ann Hussey, 2240 Blake St.
      #308, Berkeley,  CA  94704, and I'll send you a nicely typeset copy for
      your  library!

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