Late winter 1635
"Sarah? Just what do you think is going to happen when your father finds out?" Rivka asked as they left the grade school. She was one of those precocious little girls who behave like they were born twenty years old and started aging from there.
"Finds out what?" Sarah replied. Snow was falling in large wet flakes all around them.
"You know what! I saw you kissing that boy. It wasn't the first time you kissed him either. If I saw you, others have too. Someone will tell and it will get talked about down at the shul. What do you think your father will do when he finds out?"
Rivka was not allowed to walk the two blocks home from school without an escort; which was usually her brother Chaim and their cousin Yudl. When Chaim sat detention, Rivka waited in the library with Yudl until they could walk her home. On those detention days her brother and Yudl needed to go to the shul after school for Hebrew lessons; Yudl could not wait without being late. So Rivka waited until Sarah came after the high school let out to walk with her.
Sarah traveled to and from school without a chaperone. At first she left for school with other children in the family on the trolley, which was contracted to move school children so the buses could handle the areas not yet serviced by a rail line.
When she landed a before school job at a bakery, an escort for form's sake was discussed, even though she had to leave the house at four in the morning. It was agreed Grantville was safe, so the escort was foregone. When there is not a Jewish quarter where the boundary is set and behavior changes, a family must decide what is and is not allowable.
Sarah's boyfriend Hans accompanied Sarah as far as the grade school and said goodbye there. Eventually Rivka saw them saying good bye.
"I'm going to marry Hans!" Sarah told her young cousin.
"No, you're not. You tried to bring it up with your father and he wouldn't even hear you out. There's no way you're ever going to get him to give his consent."
"I don't need his consent. This is Grantville. He does not own me. I do not have to have a dowry. I do not have to have his permission. When we've graduated Hans will get a job, we will get a place of our own and get married, and there is nothing my family can do to stop us."
"Until you're eighteen you can't get married without parental consent." The age of consent had been hashed out by the government. It used to be even lower in some places back up-time. Some down-timers wanted it higher still and others thought no girl or women should be allowed to marry without the consent of a guardian, for their own protection.
"We might not have to wait that long!" Sarah said in a dreamy voice.
"What do you have planned, little bird?" Rivka asked, translating a family endearment into English.
"Oh, nothing really."
"'Fess up, Faygeleh." Rivka saw nothing odd about the hash of languages.
"Hans is checking on something. He knows a boy who was fighting with his parents over how much of his paycheck they got and how much he could keep. The father wanted the whole thing. Well, they yelled at each other so loud and so often the neighbors called the police. The police told the boy if he had an income and a place to stay he could get the court to declare him an emancipated minor and he could move out. So he did.
"I've got an income from the bakery. All I need is a place to stay and then I can do what I want and I don't have to wait to get married."
Sarah!" Rivka was truly shocked. "Do you want them to sit shiva for a dummy and declare you dead to the family? I'd never be allowed to speak to you again!"
"They won't do it unless I convert."
"You're getting married by a priest. You will have to convert."
The conversation ended right there for the time being. Chaim, out of ear shot, was heading straight and fast for three boys who were waiting on the corner, snowballs in hand. They would get off one shot and then they would have to run or Chaim would be all over them.
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- The Grantville Gazette Staff