Fall From Grace – Chapter 14

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Here is the next installment of Fall From Grace. As Always feel free to tell me what you think and Happy Reading!

The blazing midday sun turned the Dungeon and Jail into a humid oasis of pain and displeasure baking in a cramped beehive. Grace and Tituba sat in the shadows of the window bars with their backs to the stone wall.

Grace’s bloodshot eyes glowed as brightly as hot embers in the dim lighting of the cell as they overlooked the roaming prisoners, her throat and jaw were a mottled mass of bruises resembling the garish makeup worn by the royal court.
Just after dawn the two guards came and whisked Mrs. Nurse away to her trial, leaving Tituba and Grace alone in the confines of the cell. Tituba quietly sat up with Grace after the sheriff departed from the communal cell last night, whispering prayers that no one could hear; every so often she would wake Grace to make sure that the young woman didn’t leave the cell in the company of the grim reaper – the king of terrors frightened all who resided on earth. After the sheriff stormed out in a rage the other prisoners settled down to rest as best they could in these hellish conditions.
The heat of the sun signified that it was almost time for the afternoon meal. The accused in the large, communal cell took turns walking in the walled off courtyard, while Grace watched them as her head rested on Tituba’s bony shoulder.
The bruising on her neck resembled the vibrant hues of autumn leaves with some patches being as dark as freshly tilled soil. The dim lighting of the cell may have hidden her bruises, but it couldn’t hide the ominous glow of bloodshot eyes leaking murky tears.

Those same eyes widened when the door separating the cells from the sheriff’s office opened with a thud. Four men rushed into the midst of the prisoners. Grace could hear metal clanking as the shackles that hung at the deputies waists moved about. Their hands were filled with rough, heavy rope.
Each of the deputies had full beards and enough scars on them to frighten the devil himself. They wore no hats, leaving their shaved scalps, glistening with sweat, for all the world to see. As the grit built up in her eyes and her vision continued to burn and blur Grace watched the deputies roughly seize the prisoners and bind them together with shackles.
Shrieks and cries resounded in the Dungeon and Jail as multiple people were crammed into the remaining solitary cells – four at a time. The prisoners rained curses down upon the jailers as though it would make them see reason. They tripped over each other as their bindings caught and landed in piles of arms and legs. Apparently, the sheriff had not taken the prisoners show of solidarity lightly.
The cacophony of terror that the prisoners were shouting resembled horses stampeding down a dusty road in a deluge of rain. The only thing clearly heard over the noise was the foul insanity that the deputies were growling. Once the last of the restricted cells were slammed shut, the deputies stomped out to the courtyard and rounded up those that were still free.
Those outside were pulled into the communal cell in pairs of two, bound by rope. More than one of the prisoners had fresh cuts that stung as sweat and dirt mixed into them. Of all the prisoners only one was escorted in by herself.
Her proud head was bent while her steel grey hair was streaked bright with blood, but the strength in her shoulders was not to be denied. As the guards drug the middle-aged woman between them, her head flopped from one shoulder to the next. When Grace caught a look at the limp face on the rough body that the guards were dragging towards her cell, she paled allowing her blood shot eyes to glow in horror at the sight of an abused human being.
Bruises formed on Mrs. Bishop’s blood soaked body. Two deputies roughly pulled the unconscious form of Mrs. Bishop in front of the cell Grace and Tituba inhabited.
One deputy roughly held the still body of the tavern owner and the other unlocked the cell. Mrs. Bishop was roughly thrown to the floor in a limp heap as the cell door slammed shut.
Grace looked upon Mrs. Bishop with pity and took a deep breath while glancing at Tituba before gruffly asking, “Why are we the ones accused of witchcraft, when they are the people that go against God’s Law?”
Even though prisoners were still wailing and groaning about their fate, Grace’s gravelly voice carried. Tituba looked at her friend as though Grace had lost her wits. The other prisoners were muttering in agreement with Grace’s statement and the guard that had thrown Mrs. Bishop around like a rag doll had the decency to blush apple red in shame.

The other deputy on the other hand, sneered at Grace and spat, “Were you Godly citizens we wouldn’t have to be teaching you your place.” The grey eyes of this deputy were colder than a sunless day in the dead of winter, showing Grace all she needed to know about this so-called creature of God.
“Were the Reverend Parris not so greedy, we wouldn’t be here. He wanted more firewood and stricter laws to curtail our small earthly pleasures away from the Town and thus reigned this evil down upon us. Now he and the judge believe the mouths of babes who have naught enough to do during the day,” Grace boldly stated.
The deputy with the cold grey eyes turned an angry shade of purple. Rather than open the cell to rain down another punishment on Grace for her stubbornness , the deputy stood as close to the cell door as he could and spat on Grace.
The man’s spittle landed on Grace’s chin and was a mix of slimy mucus and day old tobacco. Grace angrily bestowed a glowering glare on the guard as his spittle dripped onto her already tattered and filthy dress adding another stain to the mix; she refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her clean his filth from her face. Pride may be a high offense to God, but Grace would not give this soulless creature the pleasure of seeing her break.
“We shall see how prideful you are the day you swing lifelessly from Gallow’s Hill as God condemns your soul,” the deputy sneered as he turned from the cell in a cloud of dust.
“Should that day arrive I will meet God with a heart full of devotion. Can you say the same,” Grace retorted. This bold statement caused only one of the guards to hang their heads in front of the prisoners; though none of them could face the accusation honestly.

Rather than face the truth, the deputies did the only thing left to them. They strode from the communal prison leaving only a mouse to scurry around looking for crumbs of a meal not yet served.

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.