That’s right. Even if I could send an invite to him and his wife, back in time about 335 years and translated into the Wampanoag language, I’m pretty sure that the man and “the proud gossip” would have no interest in the type of food we eat.
The first order in explaining myself here is to share a bit of vocabulary that I just learned. We all know the celebrity chatter concept behind the word gossip, but do you know the archaic usage? Let dictionary.com enlighten you:
|.||archaic a close woman friend|
Archaic . a friend, especially a woman.
Word Origin & History
gossipO.E. godsibb “godparent,” from God + sibb “relative”. Extended in M.E. to “any familiar acquaintance” (mid-14c.), especially to woman friends invited to attend a birth, later to “anyone engaging in familiar or idle talk” (1560s). Sense extended 1811 to “trifling talk, groundless rumor.” The verb meaning “to talk idly about the affairs of others” is from 1620s.
The writer was Mary Rowlandson, and the excerpt below is taken from A Narrative of the Captivity. In 1676 Rowlandson was taken from her home in Lancaster (about 30 miles west of Boston) during a Wampanoag raid as part of what has become known as King Philip’s War. Throughout the writing she uses the term master to refer to Quanopin, who was “a secondary chief in the hierarchy of several Native American peoples” (Notes from Elements of Literature, Fifth Course: Literature of the United States, (c) 2000 by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston). So, I guess, he was the vice chief of the Wampanoag Indians.
“During my abode in this place, Philip spoke to me to make a shirt for his boy, which I did, for which he gave me a shilling: I offered the money to my master, but he bade me keep it: And with it I bought piece of horseflesh. Afterward he asked me to make a cap for his boy, for which he invited me to dinner. I went, and he gave me a pancake, about as big as two fingers; it was made of parched wheat, beaten, and fried in bear’s grease, but I thought I never tased pleasenter meat in my life. There was a squaw who spoke to me to make a shirt for her sannup [(husband)], for which she gave me a piece of bear. Another asked me to knit a pair of stockings, for which she gave me a quart of peas: I boiled the peas and bear toether, and invited my master and mistress to dinner, but the proud gossip, because I served them both in one dish, would eat nothing, except one bit that he gave her upon the point of his knife.”
Note: I’m having fun with this piece, but please do not understand my lightness in a condescending manner. The whole Native American/Early American history thing is an ugly time for many reasons; I certainly don’t make light of that. Food is scarce for many people, and we try hard to show gratefulness for every bit we get. I’m just playing around with the humor that is available.