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Author Topic: For money, love and commitment  

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For money, love and commitment

I am nothing else than a money bag. A round drawstring bag with dome-shaped base, made of linen and cotton, with braided tassel, meant to keep a small fortune. But, at the same time, I have always been special.

A loving young wife has made me and embroidered me with coloured glass beads somewhere in a town by the sea, because I was meant as a souvenir of love. I have two entwined hearts embroidered in the middle, and the colourful flowers around are meant to proclaim the beauty of mutual love. Under the drawstring, the green leaves are also hearts, actually. It was a labour of love, done in lonely evenings, by a sailor’s wife, so that the one who sailed at sea, far away from her, to have with him always a piece of her heart. Other money purses are made of silk, but she wasn’t as rich as to afford it.

Time passed, and the sailor got to embark for the Colonies, taking me, the cherished purse, with him. When misfortune struck, the pirates attacked the ship and looted everything. The money and I had the same fate. Fortunately, the sailor wasn’t killed, though. Without any money, but without any reason to fight and die, he listened to the call “Who wants to drop the weapons, join us and live freely?” and joined the pirates. Of course, that time he got no shares from the prey… so I had been given to the pirate boatswain as part of his share.

My new owner gambled me in Tortuga, hoping that the wheel of fortune would turn his way at the last minute. Wrong move! A Spanish smuggler captain gained me. He liked me, and he didn’t want to use me every day. The beaded embroidery in general looked more fascinating to him than the hearts in the middle. Probably he waited to give me to a special woman some day… and yes, I arrived to be in such beautiful hands ultimately, but not exactly his woman’s.

One sunny day, the smuggler captain got persuaded by a lovely innkeeper to help a young French pirate get his sweetheart. Well, the smuggler’s reward for getting him to a village in Santo Domingo at dawn and taking him at dusk was consistent too, he didn’t do it just for the innkeeper’s beautiful eyes. He didn’t know all the details either, otherwise he might have thought twice and denied doing it. But when the young lover brought his sweetheart aboard the smuggler’s ship, he understood more. The girl was coloured, and most likely kidnapped from her master. Too late to change his mind, so he had to help them. Their love could be read in their eyes, they looked so innocent for the world they were living in!

The smuggler captain wondered how much their love will resist, and what would happen to the poor girl when he’d find himself a white wife, as most men he knew did. His questions, though, got a sudden answer: the young pirate came to his cabin, asking kindly that the captain marry them at sea, because they wanted to arrive to Tortuga already married, to be sure that nobody can take his beloved from him.

The smuggler captain understood that the young man had taken the decision in an impulse, afraid not to lose her. He tried his best to dissuade the pirate from marrying a coloured girl, but the young Frenchman was adamant he would do it… until he got puzzled at the idea that he had no ring. Of course he had none, it hadn’t been planned!

The smuggler took pity of him. If he was determined to get married to his beloved, he mused, he would help them, for the sake of the lovely innkeeper who had pleaded their cause to him.

“Do you have thirteen pieces of eight, or thirteen dubloons?” he asked the Frenchman.

He answered affirmatively.

“Then, I’ll perform the marriage ceremony in half an hour, in front of the whole crew. You’ll have this purse as a wedding gift from me.”

He took me out and opened me to receive the thirteen arras or, how people have translated them, bridal wealth or union coins. I felt well to have money inside again. Then, he explained to the Frenchman the Spanish tradition of the bridal wealth.

“If you have no ring now, you can buy one once you arrive to Tortuga. The marriage vows are equally valid if you give her las arras now and the ring later. The thirteen wedding coins, specific to our Spanish culture, symbolize Jesus and the twelve apostles. The groom gives them to the bride after saying the vows, as a promise to provide for his family, and also that she will be the one to manage the household. His earthly goods will become hers too, because these coins are to be kept by the bride, not to be spent. They are her home’s prosperity”, I heard the explanation and I felt excited for my new mission in the world.

I was meant to symbolize love and commitment again, so I was happy to witness the wedding from the groom’s hand, while the smuggler captain said what he had to say, towards the end of the short marriage ceremony:

”In exchanging these coins, Jean-Baptiste tells Carmen What is mine becomes yours, and what is yours is mine too. I call upon God and your patron saints to bless these coins knowing that they are also the symbol of the home prosperity and all good the Heaven has in store for this loving couple – love, joy, peace and wealth. So, please repeat after me: I give you these gold dobloons as bridal wealth.” he asked the Frenchman.

I witnessed both these words, and the ones the groom had said in continuation:

"With las arras I thee wed, with my body I thee honor, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow."

The new bride was beaming while holding me in her hands and caressing me shyly, while praying silently for a prosperous home for them two, to rejoice in their love, happiness, peace and wealth - something she could never dream of happening to her.

Ten years later, I am still full with the thirteen coins, kept in honour in the happy couple’s home. The lady of the house has a wedding ring too, received in Tortuga, upon their arrival, but I am still the most cherished token of their love and commitment. They have been blessed with seven children, and, unlike the smuggler captain feared, none of them had ever regretted the decision to marry.



  • Sailor
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  • Posts: 133
  • a seadog looking for crewmates
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  • Date: 31/08/13
  • Time: 08:47 PM
  • Number of visits: 1101
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