Dear Mrs Gillies (a story)

Dear Mrs Gillies

There was an old lady, down by the waters, that every woman in town knew, by name and by mien, Handy with an herb for lady pain and troubles, and one to call when birth or death knocked.

She cast no spells, she called no gods or demons. But she knew just by looking how a girl fared and what she needed. And when a woman’s time had come.

Mrs Gillies was only called for the ladies. And no man would chase her down. He’d send a child or a neighbour to bring her to his home. And step well away from her skirts when he had the misfortune of meeting her in town.

Mrs Gillies carried her bag of herbs for pain and such wherever she went, in case she was called. She knew just how fast things could turn. And sent a neighbour girl for her shopping and down to the river to do her laundry. Just to be sure it got done. And while she had her attention, she’d show her the story of the herbs, just in case she had need of them one day as payment.

Past the day of marriage and childbirth, she had her bag and experience to fortify her trade. So all the village women trusted her. Not pretty enough either to be a threat. And having heard little gossip, so did the men.

And unlike a witch, the church was open to receive her when she was free on a Sunday. So Mrs Gillies could say her prayers for the women and girls under her care.

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