Story of the day: Triskillien
The annual festival of Pfollyen had come to Gallei, and though the town of Eirannean was now part of the Frewyn annex, the inhabitants of the town were obliged to observe this particular commemoration for the sake of all the young and unwed. It was the object of every young creature of marriageable age in Gallei to be wed before the bloom of youth and first beauty was gone and the time of middle age and childrearing was to begin. There was little encouragement on the male’s side to search for a wife until he was well settled in the ways of business and fortune but as the handsomeness of men must last until forty years of age, the pressure of making a match was on the side of the female. In Gallei, it could be said there were young girls a plenty but one must to well to find an astonishing one before they should be snatched up by affluence. Fortune was enough to tempt most Galleisian women with no prospects and paucity of renown, but even the most desperate of men would not propose if beauty were deficient. All the cricks of personality and unkindliness could be smoothes away by the presence of prosperity or children, as both were certain to distract most women, but the kinks of a poor family and depreciated status could not. Many men chose women of their level or of elevated consequence to increase their position in Galleisian society, and though women would do the same they had the increased difficulty of bringing nothing to the negotiation but themselves, their family and the possibility of continuation thereof. All of the generosity was on the man’s part and therefore it was the duty of everyone you Galleisian woman to look as exquisite as possible when Pfollyen came around.
The festival was celebrated with the usual stomping dances and whirring music of key and wheel fiddles, but the item most prevalent and concerning for the holiday was the exchanging of roses. White roses were given to the women and red to the men to be exchanged between one another. Attached to the roses was a ribbon with the name of the young man or woman to whom one would promise themselves, if not for courtship than for the space of the three days the festival was to be sat out. The garden in the town square was adorned with white and red roses, all of them meant for young men and women to take, inscribe names and avowals on the ties about the stems, and exchange them for oaths of constancy. Several young men and women lauded this festival as a necessity, for it was considered eminent that men and women in the lower classes of decent society should have the occasion to mix as often as possible to keep the populace of Gallei in a healthy state, but there were numerous young women who found this festival to be a degradation to themselves and a cheapening to the tradition of allowing attachment to blossom over time. Those women who were repeatedly rejected or considered to be too old to participate in the selective festival were not pleased to enjoy the coming of such a day and Triskillien Pfartuuvfan was one such woman.
She had just recently taken employment as a wench in the beer hall, and after having served a party of forthcoming and prominent Frewyns, among whom was a farmer who taught her the traditional method of countryside appreciation, she was told that she was being given the following three days off as were all the young men and women of the annex to engage in high revel and hopefully become engaged herself. This invitation would not have been so disagreeable to her had it not come with the price of being forced to leave an occupation she very much enjoyed for the better part of three days merely to be rejected. She had no hope of supposing her situation would be otherwise. She was poor and disposed to refusal due to her lack of rank and fortune. She had youth and beauty on her side but all the accoutrements of an open character and affected temper that was usual for a girl of twenty she had not. She did not mean to be coy but she found speaking to others whom she did not know whether in Galleisian or Frewyn a difficult charge. She had liked the farmer and the company he kept. They spoke for her and included her where necessary, there had been no need for her to fill the conversation with idle banter, and she enjoyed making the farmer’s acquaintance immensely. Aiden was his name: a Frewyn name of fine country fervor that would carry her through the day, and of all the men she was to meet in the town square, it would be the brusque and kindhearted Aiden whose face she would search for.
She went that morning to the garden in the square. The music and dancing had already begun when she came to the rose beds to choose her flower. She chose one of moderate size, wrote her name on the ribbon with the chalks lying beside the fountain, and was prepared to exchange with the rose of a man of tolerable handsomeness and kind person, as the one she had set her heart on finding was nowhere to be seen. She found many amiable men walking about, stalking the edges of the dance in search of either a partner or a mate. She made a quiet and careful approach to those whom she believed were at her level but all of her polite smiles were greeted with shakes of the head and the cold civility of obligatory questions before she was compelled to choose another. She approached many and asked that they oblige her with their company, but those who judged her appearance to be more than agreeable observed that her garments betrayed her monetary position: an old linen chemise, threadbare gathered skirts and worn slippers did not recommend her fortune. Various men assumed she was a beggar attending the festival in hopes of finding a young man of desperation to accept her, and though they were incorrect in their assumptions, even her claims to the contrary could not undo what her impoverished state had already done. They presumed her destitute, and although her family was not far from such a condition, there was no reversing their ideas of her. She owned herself defeated for the day and told herself to ask her superior at the beer hall if she were allowed to wear her work outfit for the second day, as a shirt of fine linen and a ribboned cinch would do the world of good.
Triskillien went home and was met with her father’s dissatisfied stares when she walked through the door of their two-roomed apartment. She was applied to for an affirmative answer on the matter of her selection but could give none. She was ridiculed for being too introverted, for harboring the wrong approach and saying the improper words, and when she asserted otherwise, she was told that she would be given away to an old widower with seven children if she returned with nothing to show for her search at the end of the festival. She wished to remonstrate, to tell him that Eirannean was Frewyn now and not Gallei, that her ability to work would improve their situation without the need for a prudent marriage that could never make her happy, but she realized such retaliation though fitting was useless and wasted on a father whose old habits would not die with the mere changing of kingdom.
“Yin, Pfappa,” was her obedient contribution to the discussion. She turned to her mother, who was chiding the old and ill man for being harsh with their daughter, and she apologized to her. “Vfakhomsa, Momma,” she whispered, asking for clemency for the barren manner in which she had returned. She reached into her pocket and handed over her wages with the aspiration that evidence of her worth would be found in their abundance. She gave the white rose to her mother who seemed weary of her husband’s condition, and as she passed into the other room, her mother placed a hand on her daughter’s cheek with the promise that she would find someone to elevate their family. She could not be so beautiful for nothing and soon someone must see her brilliancy beneath her frayed vestments.