Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Young Matron Monthly, October 1848

Copyright 2009 Stuart Koblentz

Lonely was the woman who gave her heart (and surrendered her life for that matter) to a man under the employ of the whaling industry.  Average voyages could last up to eight years at sea looking for whales, following whales, throwing harpoons at whales, only to kill the things and then slice the whales apart for a tepid couple gallons of whale oil, and it just could on and on.  During the time that your husband was out looking for Moby Dick, the womenfolk stayed at home and waited and waited some more.  IF, and it was a big IF at that, the whaling vessel encountered a friendly ship she just might get a letter every now and then, but that was a rarity because many of the men manning the ships couldn't read or write.  While they spent their days at sea waiting, their wives were expected to remain chaste, up beat and only have eyes for "Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the All Mighty".  Heaven forbid that Mister came home after a four year stint to find that his brood had grown from three to four, and the youngest a hair past two years old.  

Well until such time that he bobbled into the dooryard laden with presents - the likes of which no person could do without - all in miniature and all carved out of whale bone, or whale tooth.  Yippee.  And if didn't return, her only recourse was to have the lout declared dead and hope some man of means would marry her so she wouldn't become the fifth wheel at her in-laws home.  After all, no one wants to spend the rest of their life as a reminder of someone else's death.

No comments:

Post a Comment