Her mother gave up hope of ever having a child. Then, suddenly she knew a daughter was growing inside her.
The women of the town clattered about all the bad omens, black cats and ravens visiting the house, her market garden with vegetables withering on the vines. She closed her ears to their predictions. Especially those that suggest the baby would be deformed, or a dummy, or demonic such as an incubus or a witch.
Her husband, scoffed at the omens and warnings. “A perfectly fine child dwells within you. I can feel her kick when I lay my hand on your swelling belly.”
On a frosty night, with a bright full moon and a starscape blanketing the sky, a tiny baby girl was born with 5 fingers and toes, a regular sized body, no twists or humps. Beautiful, responsive eyes and an amazing smile.
She grew up alone. The other children mocked or avoided her. So she learned her letters and numbers, but was soon ahead of what her father could teach her.
He causally asked around the market and in the alehouses. If he had a son perhaps interested in the church, who best to teach him the skills?
The same name kept coming up, but with a warning he was a strange man. There were rumors he taught his daughter and servants to read and write.
Her father approached the man, whispering that he had a daughter as learned as his. Her father explained that is daughter was a quick study, and she was ready to know far more than he could teach her.
So, in the guise of a maid and cook’s assistant, she became part of the household, an the best pupil her teacher every had. “Even better than my daughter,” he said one day as she translated a text from Latin to the vernacular.
At the market to pick up vegetables and herbs, she walked behind a knot of gossipy women. She was the subject of the conversation. Her taking to books was unseemly for a woman and made her unmarryable to be sure. “I still think she is fey, she has that look about her.” “Yes, and her eyes shine too bright for me.” “her hair and dress, disgusting.”
She smiled. A year from now she could recite back their conversation, clothes they wore, stalls they stopped at, what they purchased. Their menfolk were not busy at home or in the fields. She had seen them sneak into the ale house. A witch they would cry, gathering bundles of straw and wood.
Her parents wanted her to join a troupe of performers. She could use her special gift of remembering everything she saw and read as part of an act. If accused of witchcraft, her gift came from God through the Virgin Mary. A gift she was told to use.
Such a troupe was coming tomorrow. She must gather her possessions and be ready to go.