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  • Writer's pictureJae Hodges

Neither Cast ye Your Pearls Before Swine

The Quaker Meeting, a painting by Egbert van Heemskerck the elder (British artist 1634-35 to 1704)

Let's talk about those first hundred days after Lidia endured, and survived, her whipping. In the book, I describe her release from the whipping post as something very similar to, or reminiscent of, her experience as she was taken up, naked and chaste, at the Newbury Meeting-house. Instead of men groping and tearing at her, there are birds, intruders, threatening her. Her mind was surely challenged at this point. She hears voices, and she cannot find rest. She succumbs to fever from the torture that her body received, and during that fever she told her sister, Rebecka, everything in her heart and her memory and together they agreed that it would never be repeated again. During those first weeks of healing, the Wardells again absented themselves from the public worship. How could they not, though once again they would shortly thereafter be fined again, though it was reduced for those Sabbaths which might have necessarily kept them at home. The irony of it. She tried to carry on as normally as possible, venturing out a little further everyday, taking back her relationship with her two young boys, and accepting her new “landscapes”, watching her one year old William as he traced his chubby hands over the developing scars on her breasts. She and Eliakim found each other once again and he made her believe it was her inner woman that carried his love, not her outer skin. By the end of August, just three months after the whip left its mark on her body, Lidia was again pregnant. One of the ideas I had about this third child, conceived so quickly, and their first daughter, was that it was a sign from God, an acknowledgement of her strength and courage as woman, and her place in the greater community of mankind. From this idea, a friend pointed me to the verse at Matthew 7:6 “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” As it turns out, the meaning of the name Margritt, the name Lidia and Eliakim chose for their first daughter, is pearl. And as they wanted not to put their pearl before the swine and dogs around them, they decided to leave Hampton as soon as Lidia and Margritt were strong enough. Lidia went on to give birth to six more daughters in succession after Margritt. I’d say that was a pretty clear sign.

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