The Seven Sisters Rose Romance
When Josiah's Aunt Em was a girl of 14 she had a beau as many girls did then and some were even married that young. This was a young country and then too, people didn't live as long as they do now so they had to grow up early.
Anyway, Em's family didn't approve of her young man. Will's father had been a drifter and had deserted his mother within a year of their marriage, leaving her with a baby coming for her family to support. Naturally with a father like Will's they thought the son couldn't be good enough for their girl.
Will had fought in the last year of the Civil War and planned to go west to lay claim to some of the land the government was giving to veterans. If Will had been going to farm with his grandfather, they might have let the sweethearts marry, but since he was going so far from home they made Em's tender years an excuse to prevent it. So Will promised Em he'd return in a year with a home all ready for her.
Before Will left he gave Em a Seven Sisters rose bush to remember him by. Together they planted it where she could see it from her chamber window and the next day he left by train for the west, promising to write as often as he could.
Well, the year went by slowly. There were a few letters at first and then nothing. Nothing but Em's family speaking slightingly of Will and praising the older man they wanted her to marry. She was encouraged to go buggy riding with "Joe" and to let him escort her to socials. As the year reached its end with no word from the young man, Em grew discouraged. Remember now, she was only 15 years old.
The date set for Will's return came and passed. Em's family made life miserable for her until finally, to get some peace and because he was the only one who seemed kind to her, she agreed to marry Joe. He had met Em after Will left and no one had made it his business to tell Joe about their romance. He thought Em was just shy and never dreamed she had given her young heart to another man.
The rose bush put forth one small blossom on the morning Em and Joe were married. Before they drove off to his farm she insisted that it be dug up so she could take it with her. Everyone told her it would die but she persisted until it was done and the bush, with a great deal of dirt left around it, was placed in burlap sacking in the back of Joe's buggy.
The first thing they did when they reached the farm was to plant the rose by the kitchen window. When it was safely in the ground Em burst into tears and for the first time Joe heard the whole story. It must have been a very unpleasant shock for a bridegroom, but Joe was a remarkable man even then when he was young.
Joe was so kind and loving that Em just couldn't help loving him back. It was a different kind of love, much different from that which she had felt for Will. Joe and Em learned to be happy together and worked to make their farm a good one.
Nearly a year later than he had promised, Will came home. He had gone farther than he intended and waited till he had thngs just the way he wanted them before coming for Em. Letters he had written had been lost. Will had been ready to come months earlier but had fallen ill and had been unable to travel. When his mother told him Em was married and how it had happened, Will took the next train back west without seeing her. Em didn't even know Will had been home till years later.
The rose bush bloomed every summer and Em started other bushes from it till the house was surrounded with them.
"Keeps the barn smell where it belongs." she'd say.
Uncle Joe and Aunt Em were happy except that they had no children. When Josiah was born, seventh and last boy in a family of 12 children, they began "borrowing" him for weeks at a time till finally, when he was 12, Jos went to live with them altogether.
There was a bunch of Seven Sisters roses in our room when Jos brought me home as his bride. Aunt Em and I used to tuck them in our hair when we wanted to be pretty for our men folk. Every summer we made a rose bowl from the petals.
In the morning we'd snip the full blown roses and spread the petals to dry on a table in the yard. Then they were put in layers with salt between and stirred each day before the new layers were added. When the jar was full, Aunt Em put in other spices and stirred it all together before she covered it and left it to ripen. Part of the potpourri went in a bowl in the parlour and the rest we made into sachet bags for the linen chest and bureau drawers.
When Aunt Em died, we planted a Seven Sisters rose on her grave. We had to replace it a couple of times when it winter killed, but Uncle Joe wanted her to have it there so Jos and I saw to it as long as we could.
Well, that is the romance of the Seven Sisters rose bush. I guess every family has a real romance in it somewhere whether it is a happy one or a sad one, or one like this which is some of both.