Fall From Grace – Chapter 13

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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.”

Puritans

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I am in the midst of writing a historical fiction novel in which I am striving for accuracy. Luckily for me I love history and research

.

At any rate, my current work in progress (WIP) is titled Fall From Grace. It is a story of an accused witch’s survival during the Salem Witch Hangings.

 
The more I learn about the Puritan’s and their daily life, the more I realize how much the history books in school left out.

 
Normally when we think of the Puritan’s we think of all black clothes, highly religious, and down to earth. Not to mention reserved and dour. In my research (thank you Google), they were so much more than that. The Puritans took their religious beliefs from the Geneva bible which was written in 1658.

 
Let’s start with clothing and jewelry. Yes, jewelry was seen as adornments that weren’t to be worn for fear of you forgetting your place before God. Their clothing on the other matter was a whole different matter. Very rarely was black worn. As colorful as their clothing was it was simple in design so as not to forget one’s station in life. The Puritan’s wore every color they could derive from natural dyes. It being that cloth was expensive they would mend their clothes until the couldn’t any longer.

 
Those natural dyes were boiled down wood, berries, grasses, and vegetables. Woad was used for blue dye and madder root for red bases. Weld was used to produced the color yellow.

 
The colors in their wardrobe had meaning. Servants wore all blue which denoted servitude and heavenly grace. Black and brown stood for humility. Orange and red represented courage while yellow and green meant renewal.

 
Among the many laws that the Puritans had were sumptuary laws. These laws forbade poorer people to dress like ladies and gentlemen of means.

 
The reason that they puritans didn’t have grand celebratory feasts was that they believed that everyday was reason for a feast. History may have recorded the Puritans as a somber group, but their food was anything but. They tended to eat three meals a day.

 
They were a highly religious group of people who felt that one shouldn’t dress above their station in life less it lead to corruption of the immortal soul. Attendance at Church was mandatory twice a week. Anything less and you risked being excommunicated or worse – accusations of witchcraft were known to happen to those who abstained from attendance. For the Puritans their soul was the most important part of their lives. They believed that there were two groups of people, the Chosen and the Unchosen. It was the job of the Chosen to lead the others to God’s Grace.

 
Amongst the many reasons that the Puritans left England was that they didn’t agree with the Anglican/Catholic stances in the church. The Puritans felt that the earthly church was to decadent and heavy handed, they also despised Rome as it was the embodiment of the ecclesiastical church and therefore far too rich and bold for their tastes.

 
The church in England felt that the Puritans were to harsh in their thoughts and manners. The Church even had insults for the Puritans. One of these insults was the term “round-head”. They were called this due to the fact that the Puritan males shaved their heads bald. They shaved as a way to keep head lice under control.

 
Upon arrival in the “new world” the Puritans wished to found a “shining city on the hill” – a city that would be admired by all. While the Puritans wished to outlaw drinking it was realized that they couldn’t. This was due to the fact that the tavern was essential to their survival in this new land. In fact the first building to be raised in any new city was the tavern. On colder days when the church wouldn’t warm up enough the tavern often substituted as a place of worship.

 
On a side note all legal business was handled in the tavern until the capitol building of a city was built. After the capitol building went into use it was acceptable to put a jury summons on the door of the tavern for jury duty. It was thought that since everyone went to the tavern they would see the summons and appear.

 
Another side note is that Puritans tended to accept their fate if they went to jail and most often would not try to escape.

 
Though drinking was legal, drinking in excess was illegal and frowned upon. Alcohol and the tavern were considered a necessary evil. Then as now, the more money you had the more you can get away with.

 
Many researchers feel that the Witch Trials were used as a form of retribution on those who had too much money or were too far removed from the daily life of the church – the tavern owners. This is, in part, born out by the fact that one of the first accused witches was Sarah Bishop who owned “The Ship” tavern. Of the many side notes in this article, I should mention that the songs sang in the taverns were as raunchy as anything we could come up with today. *insert full body blush*

 
A member of her husband’s family married into the powerful Putnam family and felt that she was owed some of the profits of her late brother’s business. The Putnam family was a prominent member of the Puritan Church and was a main accuser in the Trials.

 
Another reason for the Trials was that the Pastor in Salem, Samuel Parris, was persecuting those that had voted against his becoming the leader of their church and were therefore not paying their portion of his salary.

 
Other researchers believe that what started the accusations was ergot of rye. Ergot is known to cause hallucinations and body contortions that the original accusers were noted as having.

 
These accusations also occurred in a particularly cold winter which is, historically, when most accusations of witch craft and trials happened. These trials were more than likely the darkest period in Puritan history.

 
When it came to education the Puritans were truly a society to marvel at. If a village had more than eighty residents they were to establish a school that was funded by the taxes collected. Both sexes were taught to read – primarily so they could read from the bible or help in the house hold, but at least they were all literate. This puts them ahead of many other societies at the time.

 
They were also the ones to print the first bible in the New World. The first was actually written in Algonquin by John Eliot. After taking the time to learn the language in hopes of converting the Natives, Mr. Eliot realized that certain words did not exist in the Algonquin language. This can be seen in the passages regarding the birth of Christ.

 
Though their clothes were bland and they were a reserved bunch of people one thing about them that was neither, was food. Much of what they ate would be on par with some of today’s top chefs. Food was prepared in the European or African styles and was enjoyed by all.

 
Meals were served three times a day with breakfast usually being stew and bread, lunch being a left over with some type of fruit and dinner was usually bread and cheese. All of this was accompanied with either cider or beer.

 
To get an idea of the type of foods they ate, the first “Thanksgiving” consisted of eel, mussels, lobster and other assorted meats. Squash, potatoes, corn, asparagus and other greens were also on the menu. And lest I forget the sweet aspect of nature strawberries, blackberries, and sweet grapes were also to be had. This type of meal would have been eaten on any day of the week as the Puritans didn’t need a particular reason to hold a feast since being alive was celebration enough.

 
On a side note I should mention something about lobster. It was considered cruel and inhumane to feed it to a prisoner – there are records of a jailer asking that it not be sent to the prisoners for this reason. This was because at the time lobster was piled up to two feet high on the beeches and could be picked up easily. When they did cook the lobster it was already dead. Therefor when it came out of the pot it was disgusting. The only reason they ate it at all is because it was so plentiful a food source. That is a massive change from what lobster is considered today.

 
Their beliefs on marriage came as the largest surprise to me. Puritans did not believed in arranged marriage. Men tended to marry by the age of twenty-six and women at twenty-three. A marriage was based on love. There were courtship rules and men would often by small gifts for the family of the girl he was courting. A woman was free to turn down an offer of courtship.

 
Obviously sex was reserved for marriage but it was not frowned upon. Puritans believed that sex was an act of love and a healthy part of a marriage.

 
Women were expected to be obedient and be able to be a help to the husband in his daily life. Women were expected to be what they are by nature, a help mate.

 
While frowned upon, a divorce was granted in certain circumstances. Those circumstances were abuse and neglect. A man convicted of either was often fined, imprisoned, or executed. Women were also allowed a divorce if a man proved impotent. In this last way, the views of Puritans seem extremely modern.

 
While children were a blessing, they were also essential to keeping a colony afloat. Aside from life older children were also able to contribute to the work force – a thought that makes many modern minds shudder.

 
All of this research leads me to wonder how far removed we are from the beliefs of our ancestors. In one way, I would say not very. In another, drastically so. If the only way to understand the modern world is through religion than maybe we should ask ourselves why we still believe that an institution has more sway over our lifestyles than we as humans do. I personally don’t believe that an institution of any sort should dictate what I, or you, can do. I do believe that we should all respect one another. But my beliefs are not what I am questioning; and that doesn’t make me different from anyone else.

 
In conclusion I would say that in one form or another the Puritan beliefs still exist to this day, what we see in reference to them is up to us. They have different names, but as a whole are generally classified as the Religious Right. They are often considered old-fashioned in their views and beliefs but they aren’t necessarily wrong. Just different and in my personal opinion, close minded.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 12

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Hi folks!

Aside from the deplorable review that had nothing to do with Chapter 1 of Fall From Grace, nothing much has happened in my own little world. On the other hand I have been diligently working on Fall From Grace. I’m currently at almost 34,000 words and I’ve got to say, my characters have a mind of their own! lol

At any rate, in honor of All Hallow’s Eve, I  thought I would share the rough draft of Chapter 12 with you. So without further ado, here is the next installment of Fall From Grace!

Happy Reading, and as always feel free to tell me what you think!

As Grace sat taking in the news that her father believed her, Abraham turned to Tituba and asked, “Tituba, I have no right to ask this of you, but will you continue to care for Grace until the day you are both released from the suburbs of hell?”

“You don’t have to ask that of the likes of me Mr. Bacon. Were I not a slave I would still care for thy sister. Though my state be lonely, Miss Bacon is one of the few that have always shown me kindness and mercy. It would be a disgrace to me and God were I not to help in any way I can. Specially with all the trouble I’ve caused,” Tituba answered sincerely.

“You’ve caused no grief, Tituba,” Grace gently rebuked.

“Miss Grace if I hadn’t asked for thee, you wouldn’t be sitting here with an open wound on your foot,” Tituba insisted.

“Tituba, you didn’t force them to use a whip, you weren’t even in the cell, when it happened. You did nothing except to call a witness to your character,” Grace reasoned.

“Had I left you out of my pleas, you wouldn’t be suffering in the suburbs of hell,” Tituba countered.

“Man has a choice as well, in the acts that he partakes of. The way of God does not include the atrocities that are being committed in his name,” Grace reasoned.

“We’ll not agree on this, Miss Grace,” Tituba stated with a grim smile.

Abraham snorted before interjecting, “Grace is as stubborn as the sun is hot, Tituba.”

Grace chuckled at the description that her brother had given. “The warmth of the sun feels like heaven on my skin. Especially in comparison to the hellishly frozen caverns of the dungeon,” Grace whispered.

“Truthfully it is,” Tituba quietly intoned.

Grace looked up from her seat and tentatively asked, “Has the Millson family said naught of this whole fiasco?”

Abraham shook his head, creased his brow and solemnly replied, “I would not hold thy breath for fear of turning blue when this ordeal is at an end. It seems they are as believing of these trumped up charges as God was in creating the earth in six days.”

Already tired shoulders sagged even further as moisture gathered in Graces’ eyes. Tituba reached over and pulled Grace tightly to her. “Twill be all right, Miss Grace. You’ll see. Let’s enjoy the sunshine that God has provided,” Tituba comforted.

The two women sat close for several minutes while Abraham shook his head at the quiet pleasure that the ladies took in breathing clean air. A man clearing his throat broke the quiet serenity in the exercise yard, “Time’s up. Back into your cell.”

“Sheriff, I see you’ve returned from your duties. Perhaps you could find it in your soul to allow the ladies to sit here for a bit longer,” Abraham dourly asked.

“That I have and with one less witch to feed. Those same duties also state that prisoners are only allowed a short stint in the courtyard at a time,” the sheriff retorted.

Abraham bit his lips while his face turned tomato red, a vein at his temple pulsed. Grace reached a hand up to rest on his forehead as she shook her head. “God will see us through,” she insisted.

“You shouldn’t have to rely solely on God. Man should know when they are crossing the line into hysteria and nonsense,” Abraham growled.

Grace sighed as she struggled to her feet, “Trust in God, Abraham. He is the only surety we have in this life and the next.”

The sheriff stood in front of Grace and Tituba and tied a heavy hemp rope to each of their waists, there were no shackles to bind their ankles. He then grabbed the rope between the two and pulled them forward, leaving Abraham to bring up the rear of the party with a scowl on his tan face.

The sheriff led the small party out of the afternoon sunshine into the dark, humid Dungeon and Jail. The air was thick enough that Grace could reach out and almost grab the air. The stones that made up the walls were warm enough to blister a carelessly placed hand. Grace slowly limped onto the wooden floor with Tituba’s support. The sheriff escorted both women to the tiny cell they occupied. Once the door was locked and the sheriff gone, Abraham promised, “I shall see you in the future, Grace.”

 

Fall From Grace – Chapter 11

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Hi all!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last update, but things have been a bit hectic. The more that I read and learn about the Puritans and the form of Christianity they practised the more I understand them. I also find that I can empathize with them.

I encourage you to study them more. You would honestly be amazed by how much you can relate to their struggles and fears.

I promise that I have multiple chapters written in this upcoming novel. Without further ado, I give you Chapter 10 of Fall From Grace.

As always feel free to tell me what you think of Grace Bacon’s journey so far!

Happy Reading!

 

The humidity in the prison gave the mirage of life to Mrs. Osbourne’s body. Grace and Tituba sat huddled in a corner, as far from the rancid scent of decay as their shackles would allow.

Mrs. Osbourne lay peacefully while Grace whispered a final prayer, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter:

“Nevertheless, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Amen,” a male voice answered when the prayer was over.

“Abraham,” Grace gasped as she looked up.

“Offering holy guidance to your fellow accused, Grace,” Abraham asked with a smile.

“Were the priest to do his duty I wouldn’t attempt to take a place that God reserved for man. Either way last rites had to be given,” Grace tiredly stated.

A grey storm cloud passed over Abraham’s features as he darkly rumbled, “Truthfully?!”

“Barely a soul has crossed this threshold since the day of my interrogation,” Grace confirmed.

“The doctor for your foot was here then?”

“Nay. Tis the handiwork of Tituba that you see.”

“Then who called upon you after the interrogation?”

“Mother’s father.”

Abraham shook his head in denial. “The accused should not be held in such deplorable conditions. This is not our way.

“I’ll see you shortly,” Abraham coldly stated as he turned on his heel and stomped away.

“He didn’t sound too happy, Miss Grace,” Tituba mumbled.

Grace smiled grimly when she replied, “Abraham takes God very seriously. A more devout person you’d be hard pressed to find. He knows that God would frown upon this.”

As Grace finished she heard quick and heavy footsteps coming through the communal cell. Being accused of witchcraft saw the privilege of that cell denied to Grace; the walled off courtyard was another luxury that had been denied. All because people listened to the word of children rather than reason.

When Abraham returned the sheriff was with him. Both of their faces resembled the ripe apples used to make pints of apple jack; although the sheriffs skin resembled that of a shriveled apple. “What have you Godless creatures done to one of your own,” the sheriff growled.

“That is not the way one speaks to a lady,” Abraham warned.

“These creatures lost the protection that God gave them when they signed the Devil’s Book.”

From inside of her cell Grace snapped, “We signed no such book!”

The sheriff’s eyes blazed in anger as he glared at Grace with all the power of a storm.

Before the sheriff could say another word, Abraham warned, “Sheriff unless you want to be held accountable for plague spreading in our village, you had best remove Mrs. Osbourne’s body, before decay sets loose a pandemic.

“Were I to write to the governor about your treatment of a lady, you might find yourself at the receiving end of His Excellency’s pleasure,” Abraham ended with enough derision to curdle milk.

The sheriff’s face turned pale as he demanded, “I’ll need your guarantee that the prisoners won’t leave the jail.”

“Neither myself or the ladies will stray from the prison. We shall stray no further than the bench in the courtyard,” Abraham assured.

On that assurance the sheriff unlocked the cells and demanded, “Stay next to Mr. Bacon he’s better than either of you deserve.”

Once the shackles were off Grace leaned on Tituba as the two women hobbled out of the cell; Grace had her bible clutched tightly in her arms as her foot throbbed with each step. By the time they were out of the cell salty tears streaked clear streams down Grace’s cheeks.

Abraham wasted no time in helping Tituba to hold Grace up so that her weeping foot would touch the ground as little as possible. Once they were in the sunshine, Abraham directed both women to the bench that sat along the outer wall. When he had them seated, Abraham asked, “How long were the two of you shackled to her body?”

“Barely quarter of an hour, though it seemed forever,” Grace answered truthfully.

“Spring planting has begun and the shop is busier than one would think, otherwise I’d have been here sooner, “Abraham apologized.

“There is no need for an apology when the land calls, Abraham. I know mother is taking my place at the counter. I pray that you and Hope have had luck with a child?”

“God has not blessed us yet, though thanks to you, Hope is helping mother more and more,” Abraham stated grimly.

“Prithee, why am I the reason?”

“Dearest sister, you’re the one that noticed the stew. Father had been furious thinking you would turn your back to God, until reason lit the problem as bright as day. Father has been over at Stamford for the last couple of weeks,” Abraham explained.

Grace sagged in the bench as though someone had removed a waterwheel from her shoulders.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 10

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything from my latest work. I apologize for that, but I have been working further on Fall From Grace.

Without further ado, I give you Chapter 10 of Fall From Grace.

As always feel free to let me know what you think of this rough endeavor!

Happy Reading!!

Slowly the frigid icicles melted into sunshine and fragrant spring blooms. With earlier sunrises and later sunsets visitors were few and far between. The last visitor to appear was Grace’s dour grandfather. Grace lost count of the days since her arrival; sadly, conditions had only worsened since the beginning of her incarceration.

As the days passed, Mrs. Osbourne’s cough seemed to rack her frail body more and more, while people rotated through the cell like a millstone over grain. As people came and went their body heat often made the cell feel like the inside of a beehive oven at midday. The stone walls no longer wept with moisture; the sweat between her toes played havoc with the leather shoes on Grace’s feet.

After the midnight interrogation split the bottom of her shoes, blood saturated the leather. As the leather dried out, the shoes ended up encrusted and allowed sores to form between her toes. Fearing rot, Tituba peeled the leather off of Graces skin only to find that the flesh was growing over leather flaps .

They had been out of the Dungeon and Jail once when the sheriff had shackled them together in order to take a cart down to the river to wash. The pillory was removed prior to the river trip allowing Grace to stand fully upright for the first time in a month. The only reminders of that humiliating device were the bruises that surround her wrists and ankles. A fleeting smile flashed across Grace’s face as she remembered the rush of water running over her urine soaked body.

The water soaked her dress chilling her to the bone, but she was clean. The only other bright moment in this foul circumstance was the bible that Abraham provided. The three women had taken turns reading aloud. The back cover of the bible held the names of every soul who entered this jail written in blood. The comfort that this simple act brought them was immeasurable.

Currently, Mrs. Osbourne was reading the Prayer of the Lord from the bible. Grace was breathing heavily while biting her lips. Tituba was tugging at the stiff leather removing layers of skin the size of crabapples.

Mrs. Osbourne gently ran her fingers through Grace’s hair, giving the young woman some form of comfort for this painful ordeal. Strips of dead skin drenched in blood littered the floor as mice made their way into the cell chittering in excitement. The metallic smell of blood mixed with the nauseous fumes of tobacco combined to produce something far more foul than cow manure.

Grace flinched and bit through her lips as a flesh coated piece of leather joined the dead skin on the muddy floor. “Just a little bit more, Miss Grace, I promise. I’m sorry I got you into this mess. I just wanted them to stop,” Tituba softly apologized.

A lung racking cough from Mrs. Osbourne punctuated Tituba’s apology. Grace looked up from her position to see a trickle of blood escaping Mrs. Osbourne’s lips. With a shake of her head, Grace admonished, “You should be at home with your children and husband – not stuck in this oven-like, rat infested prison that smells worse than a tannery on a hot day.”

“‘Twould do me little good. My sons dispute my husband at every turn, and this affliction has been at my side for a number of years. I’ve gotten more rest in this damp dungeon than my ears would ever hear in my own home.

“Besides, if you can hold to your integrity and beliefs, so can I,” Mrs. Osbourne offered.

“But I’m not ill Mrs. Osbourne. If this affliction takes you to God’s waiting embrace, then at the very least you should greet him in your own bed with your family by your side,” Grace insisted.

“You and I may see that as a reasonable request, Grace, but methinks that our jailers would have something to say about that.”

Grace growled as she hissed low.

“Sorry Miss Grace, but that’ll be the last of it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep it semi-clean so the doctor won’t have to amputate it,” Tituba glumly informed.

“Somehow Tituba, methinks, the doctors would prefer to have to amputate. At this point, they would seek out the farthest seas of pain to press from us a confession to a crime that is not our doing,” Grace sadly stated.

“You’re positive it’s the grains, Grace,” Mrs. Osbourne questioned.

“I am as sure of that, as I am that God loves all his children. When father and I were in Stamford to see about some business, the same afflictions were occurring. Though they took a scientific approach and refused to believe the ramblings of a bitter person,” Grace whispered as she sat up.

Grace leaned heavily on the wall behind her so that she wouldn’t feint as violent coughing racked Mrs. Osbourne again. Tituba and Grace watched as Mrs. Osbourne stiffened as her affliction turned her face tomato red.

Grace pulled Mrs. Osbourne into a hug, “Rest your head on my shoulder, for now, Mrs. Osbourne. Should God call you home this evening, know that at least one person will miss you in this world.”

“May God bless your future, child,” Mrs. Osbourne blessed as her eyes closed.
Once Grace was sure that Mrs. Osbourne was asleep, she turned to Tituba and sadly smiled, “Thank you Tituba.

“Thank you Tituba. You’ve the steadiest hands in Salem.”

“Thank you, Miss Grace. Twas the least I could do after getting you in this mess,” Tituba whispered.

Grace shook her head before answering, “You’ve no reason to apologize when all you did was ask for succor. The beatings you received should never have been done in Gods name.”

“That’s kind of you to say, Miss Grace, but truth is, I’m the reason you’re here,” Tituba stubbornly insisted.

“We’ll agree to disagree then,” Grace fondly told her.

Tituba smiled before asking, “How’s Mrs. Osbourne doing?”

Grace looked at the older woman. The wrinkles on her forehead were relaxed and jagged breaths had ceased. Mrs. Osbourne’s jaw was ajar and crimson blood stained her chin. Her pallid skin held a bluish tint as lice jumped between hosts.

A tear fell down Grace’s face as it appeared that Mrs. Osbourne had cheated the residents of Salem. The citizens would no longer be able to see a neck stretched for a false accusation; for she was in God’s embrace now.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 9

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I have been working slowly but surely on Fall From Grace. The amount of research that I have already put into this is staggering – and to think, I’m still not done. One thing I have found is a new sympathy for the Puritans.

Other things I have noticed are the severe inaccuracies that we are taught in school. There are quite a few of those. A fascinating fact is that  the colonies were known as the land that spawned grandparents. Less industry in the so-called new world meant people could live longer and for the first time, parents were seeing their grandchildren being born.

Another fact is that contrary to popular belief, Puritans married for love. The median male age for marriage was 26, while the females tended to marry at 23.

Before I continue on the amazing and wondrous facts that I have learned, I give you Chapter 9 in Fall From Grace.

As always feel free to share your thoughts and Happy Reading!

The three prisoners stayed up well into the night as there was no way for them to get comfortable. The full moon lit up the little cell illuminating the haggard looking prisoners.

Though thunder rolled through the sky promising to let loose a downpour that could flood the crops – and their cell, there wasn’t a cloud in sight.

“What happened to Mrs. Good,” Grace whispered.

“She was sent to Ipswich Jail on account of her being with child. They’ll probably try to charge her newborn with witchcraft as well. Lord above knows that they charged her four-year-old with it,” Mrs. Osbourne bitterly informed.

Grace sighed and managed to look angry rather humiliated. With her neck bent, the moonlight made the lice in her hair sparkle and crawl at the same time. “They’re charging children,” Grace exclaimed in horror.

“That has been our way since the beginning. You know well how children are expected to act, Grace,” Mrs. Osbourne sternly reminded.

“I realize they are held to adult standards but, at four a child’s mind is filled with whimsy and imagination. Young Dorothy Good wouldn’t be able to speak intelligently enough to answer the interrogators,” Grace confirmed with muffled tones.

“What they’re doing’s not right, Miss Grace. They even sent Miss Dorothy to Ipswich with her mother,” Tituba whispered.

“Why do they have the right to hold a child in shackles,” Grace asked plaintively.

“Those are the rules. Besides, she claimed that a snake spoke to her,” Mrs. Osbourne insisted.

“Rules or not, they aren’t right. A talking snake is nothing more than her own imagination. There aren’t many ways for a girl to occupy her time. It’s not like we could go out and learn a trade,” Grace insisted with her bent head.

“We shouldn’t be here accused of crimes that weren’t committed, Grace,” Mrs. Osbourne stated to a flash of lightning and roll of thunder.

Rain poured from the sky in bucket loads obscuring the once bright moon. The fire in the hearth across on the other side of the jail did nothing to warm the cell as rain leaked through the window above them.

***

The mid-day sun was turning the cell into a sauna. Bodily waste baked in the scorching heat of the sun. Water from last night’s down pour had long since evaporated. An incessant clanking of metal on metal reverberated around the room.

It wasn’t long before long the clanking stopped and the women gave a sigh of relief as their shoulders sagged. Their semi-relaxed air was not to last as stomping feet made their way closer to the cell.

The women gazed at the cell bars from the floor. Tattered and stained clothes only enhanced the bruises and lacerations that adorned their faces. A short, thin man stopped in front of the cell. The thick blue haze of tobacco smoke that surrounded the man smelt vaguely nutty.

His leather boots were worn in such a way to blend in with the drab wooden floor. He was bald except for a white ring of hair around the base of his skull. He looked upon the prisoners with enough disgust to wither a crop field. He shook his head and sharply stated,

“I hadn’t thought to believe that the daughter of a baker would stoop so low as to sell her soul to the devil’s fiery furnace.”

Grace tried to look up to glare at the man only to find herself staring at her soiled skirt. “I will tell you like I have told the interrogators, Grandfather. I am no witch; nor would God allow me to sign the Devil’s Book,” Grace snapped.

“I told your mother she was marrying the wrong man. She was of age and wouldn’t listen to me though. She could have had a wealthier suitor and more comfortable life, but she chose your father. Now look what she has to deal with. A daughter that would dare go against all that is holy,” Grandfather spat.

“At least she has love. Unlike you she didn’t dishonor herself and God,” Grace venomously spat back.

“Instead, she gets a daughter whose neck won’t bend from stubborn pride,” he shot back.

“I am not guilty of turning my back to God. If my faith costs me my life, than so be it; but I’ll not confess to something that I didn’t do,” Grace forcefully stated.

“And break your mother’s heart while your at it, no doubt,” Grandfather sneered.

“Man breaks my mother’s heart for bearing false witness,” Grace snapped from her bound position.

“You are naught to my family. The next time I will see you is the day you swing on Gallows Hill for your treachery,” Grandfather fumed as he stormed away from the cell.
Grace took a calming breath as her grandfather arrogantly strode away from the cell and implored, “Pardon the disgraceful scene, ladies; unfortunately, grandfather has always been a bitter man.”

“I’m no lady Miss Grace, but to me that sounds like ones dirty laundry blowing in the breeze – and were always taught that God frowns on that,” Tituba said dismissing Grace’s apology.

“Bah, child. No need to apologize for someone else,” Mrs. Osbourne firmly informed as she began to cough.

Tituba tried to reach around Grace to comfort Mrs. Osbourne as hacking coughs racked her body. The only comfort that she could give was to hold the older woman’s hand.

What is Wrong With You??

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As promised in the site description I tend to give the occasional rant. Keep in mind this has nothing to do with any of my works. This is a personal opinion piece. Happy Reading!

We all have people in life that will consistently come to us with their problems. They never seem to know what to do with themselves, and it’s often amazing that they can even feed and dress without guidance. I honestly have no general problem with these people, we all have our own issues from time to time. Unfortunately I cannot always help you with your life as I often have a life of my own to deal with.

Without trying to be unduly harsh, I have a few steps you might consider before hollering for help.

Do not bring your problems to me. I am not a witch from a fairy tale. I do not have a magic wand to wave that will make all of your issues disappear. Take responsibility for your own actions and watch how your life is better. You will find that stress will often disappear and arguments decrease. No one ever promised that everything would be fair, so accept it and move on, because whining doesn’t really help the situation.

If someone boils over like a volcano at you, ask yourself what YOU did to upset them. Think about what you may have said or done. Own whatever it was you may have said or done and strive to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’m not saying that whomever is getting mad has a right to; I am just saying that you may have played more than a minor part in upsetting them.

Even superheroes screw up from time to time; no one is perfect. If you make a mistake acknowledge it. Afterwards strive to ensure it doesn’t reoccur. Life isn’t always without weeds, but you can help to control the weeds that you spread if you watch yourself.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, so quit always thinking it is. Just because your neighbor uses non-GMO products, doesn’t mean you have to. It’s not always a good thing to copy the monkeys. When you wonder why someone else’s life isn’t as difficult, find what you are doing wrong in your own life and see where YOU need to make changes. What YOU do makes the waves in your own life.

Oceans are exhausting to cross. When someone travels 4500 miles to do something for YOU, the only thing you should be is grateful. If you complain about something that person’s partner conceivably may or may not do, than the problem lies with you. If the only things you see are negative than you have an issue; not the rest of the world.

People are not ants in a colony. They have their own thoughts, emotions, and views. If you consistently tread on them and treat them like they don’t matter, resentment is the only thing that grows from it. Part of life is acknowledging other people are different and not sneering upon them because you don’t like it. Accepting these differences, is only going to enhance your own quality of life.

Just as plants need nurturing to grow, so do people. When YOU consistently degrade and humiliate another person, that tells them that they don’t matter to you. By dismissing other people you are doing yourself a grave injustice; and that travesty is allowing yourself to grow as a person. If you can’t grow how will you become the happy and capable person that you want to be?

The winners in life are the ones that are truly human. If you show true gratitude, own what you have done, and acknowledge your mistakes, I can almost guarantee you that your life will improve ten fold.