The Lord in Heaven has already given me the greatest gift of all, my beautiful daughter, Paulinka, but it breaks my heart every time I see one of these girls who can’t bake or sew or sweep standing beside a man under the marriage palm instead of my darling girl. Although my eyes get all foggy with tears to say it, these are four simple women from the village who have found a groom before my sweet Paulinka.
Henrietta is the cobbler’s daughter. Certainly marrying the cobbler’s daughter seems like a good idea because of all the free shoe repairs, but Henrietta could not patch up a worn-out heel to save her life. This girl just stares out the window all day, even as her own father begs her to help him in his shop, and yet, somehow, someway she has found a husband! My own Paulinka helps me on the farm every day, and while her hands may be calloused from toil, it does not make her any less the lady. And when one considers that Henrietta was rendered facile by a donkey’s kick to her temple last harvest, it fills me with the rage of Hades that my Paulinka, who doesn’t soil herself every day as a result of a beast’s hoof scrambling her head, remains unbetrothed.
Paulinka deserves a sensible husband who will put food on her table, like Elijah, who married Mildred last week, even though Mildred’s not once read a book and my wonderful Paulinka’s read all three books in the village library, twice each. Mildred’s dowry is only four more chickens than what I can offer, so it’s not riches that found her a groom. And I once saw her knock over the baker’s stand as she ran through the town square making wretched screeches on her lute; the baker’s loaves fell to the ground, and she did not help him pick them up or dust them off. This is something my Paulinka would never do. One time she baked bread for the baker. What is not to love about my girl? She goes to church every evening and knows the cure for blacksmith’s wrist. I know the Lord has a plan, but my Paulinka’s already 20 years old and she’s running out of time before she’s sent to the spinster shed.
Surely Adeline’s blond hair (straw color) and blue eyes (puddle color) might be fairer than dear Paulinka’s brown hair (swamp color) and green eyes (swamp color), but when you hear my Paulinka’s beautiful voice as she sings “Stiddle Stiddle—Lo! How The Fields Weep,” it is like there’s no other girl in the world. I’ll admit my darling daughter is slightly bowlegged from her childhood rickets affliction, but she can move those legs like the devil when she’s chasing a coyote that got one of our hens by the neck, let me tell you. If there weren’t laws and good decency against it, I’d have half a mind to marry Paulinka myself.
4. Mabel the Cursed Widow
All six men Mabel the Cursed Widow married died. This is because she is cursed. Now, you’d think the men in the village would understand this by now, but one just became Mabel’s seventh husband. I do not understand why a man would choose a life with Mabel (cursed, cannot shuck corn) over a life with Paulinka (uncursed, loves shucking corn). The only curse in my family is the one on me, because there is no reason why God blessed me with such a kind, thoughtful daughter if He was going to refuse her a husband. I am at the end of my rope. I wake up with my nightcap soaked in sweat from nightmares of Paulinka living a life without having ever skipped a stone across the bride’s pond. How can I undress in the father’s baths knowing that I’m the only one whose daughter has yet to be married? Please, Lord, answer my prayers and send my delightful daughter a man.