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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

It flatters me to have you ask. Yes, I was married for a goodly number of years – 62, to be exact. My wife was a sweet thing, Mary Ann. She made my life a joy.

Well I remember our wedding day. As I told you, in our time the bride often meets her husband for the first time at the altar. It was not so with us. But we had no such a thing as you describe with your bride. My father, may God give him peace, arranged all.

How I remember her approaching the altar! A mouse in a cat’s mouth – that is how I felt. I think it God’s own grace that the priest says most of the words at a wedding.

Your question on our virginity does not embarrass me. We were both such. It is much preferable, for then one knows that trust is possible. We take such matters with great sobriety.

What puzzles me is this: you plan to take your bride to an inn on your wedding night! Surely your parents have a home of suitable size? But perhaps the inns of your time have grown in stature. Ours are little better than sewers and whorehouses. No man would stay at an inn if he had a friend or family near.

As to training in the manner of sexual relations, there is little need for that for a boy who has lived on a manor. The animals there are school enough. The difficulties of marriage usually lie outside the bedchamber. I suppose there is some art to this – but I never bothered my head with it. Mary Ann saw to that.

To answer your final question: I suppose our greatest hours of difficulty came when I was absent from the home. She was greatly tested then, and none too pleased with the experience. My duty lay elsewhere. Though all of us who fought still consider it a glorious adventure, there can be no denying it. I was lonely then too.

She has been in the grave some years now. I miss her greatly. Life is very lonely. By God’s grace I have many grandchildren, and they fill my life with laughter. But there is a void in my heart.

Wishing you many years of joy, I remain

Isaac, the alchemist

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