It’s been a while since I posted about my latest WIP – Fall From Grace. For all of you wondering about what is going on, here is a rough copy of Chapter 13!
I would also like to remind you that the Salem witch trials were a dark and ugly period in the United States’ past. In this story I am striving for historical accuracy. My goal is to shed light on these actions and to tell a tale that leaves you thinking and wanting more.
As always, Happy Reading and feel free to leave a review!
The dying embers of the communal fire were all that could be seen in the despairing pit of the jail. The heat the fire gave off disappeared shortly after sunset leaving the multitude of prisoners lost in their own shadows and trapped in the torments that their minds played on the stone walls. Grace and Tituba sat next to each other in their tiny, rock-hewn cell; the rope that bound them together lay lax between them. They shared what little heat their bodies provided. An old woman with steel grey hair lay just outside their cell.
Tituba’s head rested on the wall as she asked, “Miss Grace, why aren’t you bitter for being held with no cause?”
Grace let out a breath and quietly answered, “Bitterness has only been known to accomplish despair; faith in God, on the other hand, is known to work miracles.”
“You can’t see God, Miss Grace. In times such as these, seeing is something we can grasp in our darkest hours.”
Grace hummed lightly and answered, “God is all around us. He created the sun to warm us and plants to nourish us. If the bounty in the earth can come back after a bitter winter, surely we can follow God’s plan without seeing him,” Grace finished serenely.
“To right you are Grace Bacon. Remember though, the bible also directs, ‘When ye thought evil against me, God disposed it to good, that he might bring to pass, as it is this day, and save much people alive,” the old woman on the other side of the cell softly croaked.
“Mrs. Nurse! You shouldn’t be awake. The least you could do is try to rest in these deplorable dungeons,” Grace quietly exclaimed.
Mrs. Nurse scoffed before replying, “Tosh Child! These hard stones do nothing for my creaky, old bones that hurt with the cold and rain. ‘Sides you’ll need to speak louder than a prayer for my failing ears to hear you. What need of sleep have I, when they’ll be deciding my fate in the dawn,” she boldly stated in her frail voice.
Grace shook her head and answered, “Mrs. Nurse they could do nothing but find you innocent of all charges. The entire town knows of your piety; your regular attendance at church shows that – as does your kindness for those in need.
“Besides, your children and grandchildren follow yours and Mr. Nurse’s generous lead in the world,” Grace insisted.
Mrs. Nurse scoffed as she began, “Good Lord child! You are naive! The curse of man is that he always has a choice. Remember, God does not force our hand; man does.”
A lightening bolt flashed outside emphasizing Mrs. Nurses’s dire words. Grace sighed loudly at the omen of the weather to come. Before she could say anything a roll of thunder shook the Dungeon and Jail.
“It seems that nature thinks we need another bath,” Grace tartly stated.
Mrs. Nurse chuckled at that before muttering, “I’d rather meet my fate clean and smelling of rain than streaked with mud from these suburbs of hell.”
Tituba and Grace chuckled at the truth in that. “The court would definitely prefer the smell of clean skin and spring blooms to the stench of human waste,” Grace assured grimly.
“I think we’d all prefer it,” another woman replied from within the cell.
“A gentle rain would be nice; it’s been awful dry this spring. They’ve not even brought us winter wine to drink,” another woman hollered from across the room.
Several of the prisoners nodded at the injustice of being denied a strong drink.
“You think we can get them to bring us some from The Ship,” the same woman halfheartedly mused.
“Doubtful, Mrs. Bishop, but it couldn’t hurt to try – especially as what they serve is the best made on Gods sprawling hills,” a man dryly answered.
“The Reverend didn’t like the fact that travelers stayed up later than curfew, gambling and a drinking; so it’s Witches Brew they accuse me of making.
“Never mind that Judge Sewell uses my winter wine for his fancy syllabub. A noble drink for a high-classed man.
With my luck they’ll post the jury summons for the trial on the doors of my own tavern,” Mrs. Bishop finished snidely.
Before the imprisoned crowd could become unruly Grace began, “Ladies and gentlemen, please calm down. If the sheriff should come in here and find us in a such an angered state, I feel God wouldn’t be able to make our stay in this Dungeon and Jail more bearable.”
“The devil himself couldn’t make our stay more vile,” a random man called out.
“You would be surprised by who and what can be forgotten. A meal or two can easily be missed as the sheriff will easily be distracted by other duties,” Grace insisted.
“They’d not miss a chance to charge us for our stay,” another woman countered, this was punctuated by another flash of lightening.
“Yet such an act has been done,” Grace tried to reason over the growing dissent as thunder rolled once more.
As the prisoners grew more restless a clinking of metal on metal rattled causing Grace and Tituba to flinch.
“Enough! Bacon if it be your wish to start a ruckus, mayhaps you should plead guilty to the courts and see us all rid of your abhorrent presence,” a rumbling male voice shouted from the front of the cell moments after Grace’s warning.
Lightening flashed outside the Dungeon and Jail, illuminating Grace’s pale, haggard features. Her stringy hair lay matted to her face while eyes flashed in anger. For the first time in months her scalp didn’t itch. Her temper on the other hand would not be stayed, “May God lay me low if any word I speak is untrue. My hand has signed no contract with the devil, your actions on the other hand suggest you have.
“Were your mother to see the way in which you treat these fair people she would bear more shame than there are leaves in the trees,” Grace finished vehemently.
The sheriff stormed over to the tiny cell, pushing the other prisoners out of the way. Thunder rocked the Dungeon and Jail with every step he took. The anger distorted his face and the dim cell light so that he resembled the creature the accused were said to follow.
The sheriff stopped at the edge of the cell and reached one hand in, tightly gripping Graces’ jaw, “ My sainted mother sits in the golden pews with God. She would have no pity for the likes of a witch serving a sinful master!”
Gasping for breath, Grace gurgled, “Than I hope God takes pity on your soul; for there is no way that your mother would.”
As the sheriff’s hand squeezed her throat tighter, Grace began to wheeze. Her vision started to gray while her arms and legs became tingly and numb. She struggled to pull the sheriffs hands away from the base of her throat. Her nails were so weak they wouldn’t leave a scratch against the sheriff’s tough, leathery skin. As bleak unconsciousness was about to claim her, Grace heard, “Let her go!”
With a whoosh of air Grace looked up to see Tituba clinging to the arm of the sheriff. On the other side of the cell the prisoners were pulling the sheriff away, forcing distance between him and the confined prisoners.
A human shield formed between the sheriff and the bars to Grace’s cell. These tired and tattered people found a cause to unite them – protecting one of their own from undue harm.
While the sheriff limped from the communal cell, Grace lay confined in her tiny cell with her head in Tituba’s lap. The filthy rags on her chest heaved as though she were drinking in the air around her. As sweat beaded her forehead and she tried to catch her breath, Grace heard, “Don’t let them forget us, Miss Grace.”