God bless you, my friends for joining me this morn. For those new, I am Nathaniel Griffith of Newport in the colony of Rhode Island, 1670. I see you noticed my lame leg. Aye, the Lord gave it to me to remind me of my folly. I was not always the God-fearing man I am now.
Come now, though. Sit by the fire. 'Tis cool this May rain. Not uncommon for Newport this time of year, but I'll be glad to see the summer warmth. Through the winter my hip aches with sharp pains radiating down me legs like burning knives. But at least I have my legs and my life.
Nigh thirty years ago I had an affinity for all things contrary to my father's Puritan ways. Me tad thought I might reform if I went to Harvard. I believe he hoped I'd be a clergyman when 'twas clear I had no taste for the sea or the shipping company. But the strict rules and teachings of Harvard only strengthened my resolve to rebel.
On break one winter I set out from the college to return home a different way, to my shame. I set out to find a wench at Mount Woolaston (renamed Merry Mount by Thomas Morton for a time and later the town was called Braintree). Martin Saunders kept a house of entertainment there where a young man such as myself could enjoy a drink of wine. Aye, Mount Wollaston, er, Braintree could soothe my conscience as well for there resided the notable Anne Hutchinson. I also met the respectable William Coddington with whom I would join here in Newport in later years.
Who is Anne Hutchinson, you ask? She was a woman who dared to stand against the Puritans for their works-driven faith. Aye, but she also did not correct me in my wayward ways. Perhaps if she had . . . but I stray from my story.
'Twas late when I finally said goodbye to my wench. Martin Saunders had kept my glass full through the night so as to keep me from being cold on my ride. Folly, that be. I mounted my horse and swayed a top it. It staggered under my weight but steadied itself and turned home. An ice storm had come through and the roads were slippery. The horse slid. I felt the fall would never end as he scrambled to get his footing, tossing me about the saddle. Then as though the hand of God swatted it, the horse fell to its side, catching my leg beneath it and wrenching my hip. In my drunken stupor I hardly felt the pain, but I must have cried out for Reverend John Wheelwright found me and helped me to his home.
Not for several weeks did I return to my father's house, and that in shame. My father could not stand the sight of me. I had ruined my chances of ever being a clergyman and marred his stature in our town. I was ruined. Like Jacob in the Bible, I would spend the rest of my life walking with a halt. By God's mercy, He stopped my folly and soon after my sweet wife, though at the time she was my sister's handmaid, showed me a better way.
That story shall wait for another day. My goodwife, Sarah, has been encouraging me to write my story down. I should say our story, for her role is equal to, and perhaps greater than, mine. Suffice it to say for now the slipping of that horse changed the course of my life, and I am a better man today for it.
Lynn Squire here. Mount Wollaston did exist at what is now Qunicy, MA. Though the name changed several times through the years, the first half of the 1600's the area had a reputation for 'unholy' living. Martin Saunders did receive permission from the Puritans to have a house of entertainment in 1639 where he could sell wine (1640). As to a wench? Well, the reputation of the area was one of loose morals.
Braintree, MA and the surrounding area was home to many well-known characters, not only of the 17th century, but of later individuals, like John Adams and John Hancock.
As to the horse falling and injuring Nathaniel...can I have Nathaniel tell a story without me having a similar one? I also had a horse slip, fall on its side, and trap my leg beneath it. My ankle was seriously injured. After a great deal of physical therapy in an attempt to restore its strength, my doctor concluded I would spend the rest of my life wearing a brace. I spent perhaps a month in that brace. The Lord had a work for me to do, and I would be hindered if I were to wear the brace. One morning I decided to toss the brace aside and go about my business as the Lord deemed necessary. I praise the Lord that today I walk well without a brace or crutch of any sort. No one would know of the injury (except perhaps via x-ray or to look closely at the shape of the ankle and the scars). And I must add that when the horse fell on me I was of sound mind--not drunk or otherwise. To God be all glory.