Story for the Day: Gods' Day in Tyfferim
Though every municipality practices a different level of worship, Frewyn upon the whole is a religious kingdom. Many Frewyns keep family shrines to their patron deities and have little time to spend in the throes of church. Come Gods' Day, their Sunday, some find reason enough to gather in prayer:
|St. Stephen's Church, the parish that inspired the|
look of the Churches in Frewyn.
Gods’ Day in Tyfferim brought an abundance of volubility and liveliness to the town square: vendors came with their carts, merchants erected their stalls, shoppekeepers opened their doors early, all of them inviting those who would not otherwise visit town as often as they should like, that they might enjoy their wares and avail themselves of their one day away from the reaping and planting and repairs of their land. While the sermon at the Church might hold some interest to those willing to listen, the calls from the town square just beyond the Church doors were far too engaging to allow anyone to attend the Reverend Mother’s dissertation on the importance of charity or the Holy Brother’s sonorous chanting of the Old Frewyn hymns. The bitter frosts of a Frewyn winter with the promise of a warm meal and mulled cider after the proceedings might be incentive enough to cull a few farmers from the town square, but with the varying colours of the autumn leaves, the brisk gales of spring, and the warmer and brighter hues of summer, there was little chance the Church had of success with regard to filling the vacuous nave. A wedding or a funeral might cultivate a few more parishioners than usual, but as many on the Tyfferim farms were disposed to thank Chune and Aoidhe many times a day in the comfort of their own homes and upon their freshly reaped fields, attending Church more than once or twice a year was hardly requisite for redemption.
Women championed in filling the Church pews, for though singing the hymns, maintaining their piousness, and receiving the Reverend Mother’s blessing was mildly provoking, even more reason to endure the frigid winds and billowing snows was not for the warmth and sanctity the Church promised but for the scandal. Anything that was to happen on a farm, regardless of how secluded, was certain to have been seen by a woman, and the instant a morsel of gossip was obtained, it must as a matter of course be spread. All items of interest were saved and stored and hidden away until Gods’ Day was upon them, and then every luscious secret might be safely unpacked and presented by the pecking order of pews: the gossip was dispersed by the young maids who were sat in the back rows, wearing their fine pelisses and screening their ceaseless mouths with their books and husiffs, and then travelled by way of a few audible whispers forward wither the mothers and middle-aged women sat, staring at the handsome Brothers with smiling eyes and amiable nods while their minds were all alive with the rumours their ears were catching. The older women were a bit more decorous and waited until the given hymn was ended to spread the reports to the higher rows, and the old ladies, whose hearing had failed them selectively, were silent and receptive when there was anything good to be heard. The grandmothers and old widows of the countryside may have been artless in their desire to listen and glean the lessons from the oration, but while their ears were open, their eyes were forward, their mouths were hushing the young girls giggling and passing their sibilating and aspirating whispers to one another, their minds were carefully considering which of the Brothers and members of the choir would do for their granddaughters: the concern of which boy appeared to greatest advantage must be distinguished, and the comparing and contrasting of whose son was more successful, more sensible, and handsomer than the other must be deciphered if any husband was to be chosen from amongst them and Church was to be deemed a triumph.
The Gods’ Day sermon was not so much heard as it was used as an effective concealment for those who wished to speak by way of note or look, but as the morning hours advanced and the lectures and hymns endured, forbearance became a virtue rather than a suggestion. Hands fidgeted, feet tapped impatiently, women shifted in their seats: they must tell their secrets or they should wallow in agonizing disconcertion, and the instant that the ending benediction was given and the bells were rung, the women flocked to the back of the nave where the tale for the poor was set, and while the less fortunate of the countryside feasted on bread, the women inhaled the scandalous crumbs of delicious rumours, carefully discussing and finicked over and expatiating upon all the delectable minutiae of the business. Those morsels not worthy of being repeated must then be embellished, for they must leave the Church feeling that they had done well in the course of the morning, that they had hear all the very latest news, and might now reenter the society of the square ready to improve it by their improved knowledge, and that they might create a sensation in the town by going from shoppe to shoppe and perusing various ornaments and garnishings while spreading their nonsenses with equal fervor.