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.

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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.”

Fall From Grace – Chapter 5

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Hi all,

As you know my current WIP – which I am planning to have out by Oct. 31st at the latest – features Grace Bacon. The back drop for this book is the horror of the Salem witch trials. The men and women who were charged with these crimes were victims of class warfare.

Some one else wanted what they had and chose to use a serious medical that many suffered from to persecute these men and women.

While I would like to think that men and women of the modern era would not go on a witch hunt in the name of religion I also know that mass hysteria can happen at any time.

Also, in this chapter I have brought in the Geneva Bible which is the one that the Puritans would have used in the seventeenth century. By attempting to study this bible I have gained several insights on the ways that time and people have changed.

So Please be conscious of what you say and how you act, for you never know when something will change.

Without further ado I give you Chapter 5 of Fall From Grace.

As always,

Happy Reading!

p.s. Don’t forget to tell me what you think!

The sun had set long ago and Grace laid her head upon her hands. The fire pit at the end of the hall had died hours before, leaving cool embers to emit what little warmth they had left. The moon sporadically peaked through the clouds above; giving infrequent illumination to the cell. Supper would be soon and the four of them had huddled together for warmth. Grace held the bible that Abraham had given her earlier next to her chest as she prayed silently.

 
Her hazy breath surrounded her face in the dark cell. The clothes she wore were muddy; loose threads frayed at the seams of her skirt. Her once bright skirt was now stained with mud as urine began to reek in the cell. Mice began to scurry on the floor as the ladies settled into an odd form of comfort.

 
Their jailers refused to let them out to relieve even the most basic of human needs.

 
Sitting on the ice encrusted, mud floor in the midst of three other women, Grace let out a sigh as her stomach grumbled. Dinner should have been served when the sun had set. Apparently there would be no dinner today.

 
“Perhaps it’s for the best that they forgot to serve dinner. Whether they stretch our necks or dismiss the charges there is no way the doormen will let us leave here without paying our due,” Mrs. Good dourly informed.

 
“Very true, Mrs. Good. They will charge us for use of our shackles and the meals we eat. Though I don’t think they forgot to feed us,” Grace grimly replied.

 
“Forget not our lodging as well, child,” Mrs. Good sourly reminded.

 
“Hmm,” Grace answered in quite reply. “Mrs. Good, what is it you are always muttering when you walk away from someone?”

 
Mrs. Good snorted sharply before responding, “A prayer for patience. Some of those I beg food and work from are less humble than they should be. Why? Are you so lost in God that you leave your fate to the villainous man he created?”

 
“Peace, Mrs. Good. Twas only a question asked in friendship, no offense was meant,” Grace beseeched.

 
“Besides,” Grace continued primly, “Tis a known fact that God helps those who help themselves. Could I entreat you to take the Prayer of the Lord with me?”

 
“I suppose it couldn’t hurt,” was the sour, defeated reply.

 
Quietly the two began, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever, Amen.”

 
When Mrs. Good and Grace finished their prayer, Tituba and Mrs. Osbourne whispered in unison, “Amen.” Both voices were broken, one from illness and the other from abuse.
Grace raised her head and quietly apologized, “Ladies forgive me. I had not meant to disturb your rest.”

 
“Worry not m’girl,” Mrs. Osbourne assured, “A prayer is sometimes the only recourse we have.”

 
An inelegant snort escaped from Mrs. Good. Grace shook her head as she listened to the two elderly women butt heads once again. As the women spoke harshly to one another Grace looked over and whispered, “How are you feeling Tituba?”

 
“A bit sore Miss Grace. What are we to do now,” she asked plaintively.

 
“Had I a direct ear to God, Tituba, I would know. Barring that unlikely happening, all we can do is to pray that He knows what is best for us,” Grace murmured as tears welled up in her eyes.

 
“Miss Grace, I’m scared,” Tituba whispered.

 
Grace trembled where she sat as salty tears began to fall. Wincing from the weight of something so small Grace sobbed, “We all are.”

 

Fall From Grace – Ch 2

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Here I present to you the rough draft of Chapter 2 in Fall From Grace. What do you think? As always enjoy and Happy Reading!

A dying fire kept the little apartment above the bakery warm. The sturdy table had an oil lamp in the middle of it. A half full pitcher of beer sat next to the lamp. Bowls of half-eaten stew surrounded the table. A partially sliced loaf of bread glowed in lamp light.

 
Grace, her parents, and younger brother Nazareth, sat around the table. “Grace, Mother has agreed to take your place at the bakery tomorrow after church,” her father declared.

 
“Surely there is no need Father. The bakery on a Saturday is a slow enough day to work,” Grace stated.

 
“Any other Saturday and I would agree with you Grace. However young Mr. Millson has asked to Court you. I feel that if you were to spend time with him at the Commons it might be possible for you to love him. If you are amenable that is,” Grace’s father finished with a slow smile.

 
Grace smiled brightly at her father before chirpily replying, “If God wills it than that would be a most welcome outcome.”

 
“Then I shall tell Mr. Millson that you would be glad to spend the afternoon with him under the watchful eye of Reverend Parris,” her father informed.

 
Grace turned to face her mother and gratefully expressed, “Mother, I thank you for this joyous opportunity.”

 
“Thank me not Grace. Thank the Lord for he would see us all happy,” her mother finished serenely as a loud rapping sounded at the door.

 
“Who would be calling at this hour that the Lord reserves for family,” Father asked as he rose to answer the door.

 
Grace and her mother shared a look of concern as father crossed the little room.
“Mother, why would people call in the evening when the Lord says that this is family time,” Nazareth curiously asked from his seat.

 
“I don’t know my son,” Mother answered calmly.

 
While Father was at the door the small family sat and waited with almost baited breath. Callers in the evening were unheard of, most people needed their rest for morning. Church and work were all important to the people of town.

 
Before another word could be said the family heard father exclaim, “There must be some mistake! God would not allow this to happen!”

 
A deep rumbling could be heard as father was seen to bow his head in submission. Father stepped to the side admitting a stocky man who had dried stains on his breeches and iron manacles in his hands.

 
The man walked over to the table and roughly grabbed Grace by the shoulder before stating, “Grace Bacon, you are hereby charged with the treasonous crime of witchcraft.”
As the man finalized his statement he roughly pulled Grace from her chair and placed a set of heavy iron manacles around her wrists.

 
Grace looked around the room in horror before pleading, “Father, I swear with God as my witness I have had no dealings with the devil!”

 
As the man was pulling her from the room Mother was crying while Nazareth sat there with his jaw dropped. Father hung his head in shame as he replied, “We raised you with God, Grace. How you could have dealings with such a creature as the devil is beyond my mortal soul,” Father told her scornfully.

 
“Father, as God as my witness, I did not do this,” Grace pleaded once more as she was forcefully drug out into the chilly night air. She could hear her mother’s tears as the door slammed shut.

 
The sheriff practically shoved her down the stairs, causing Grace to stumble into a bare, waiting wagon. He then climbed in behind Grace and shackled her next to the other women in the wagon.

 
Grace found herself seated next to two other women. Both of which were older than she was by a fair few decades. On one side of the wagon sat a pregnant and bitter looking Mrs. Good; the opposite held pale Mrs. Osbourne. Both women had tears staining their confusion etched faces. Once the shackles were tightened the Sheriff jumped out of the wagon and headed to the front. Within moments he was driving the cold, wooden wagon to the north side of town.

 
As the wagon started to move, Grace gingerly sat next to Mrs. Good. The woman was muttering harshly under her breath causing Grace to wrap her arms around herself. Bowing her head, Grace closed her eyes and began to silently recite psalms from the bible she had read since childhood.

 
As the wagon bounced along the bumpy road, Grace hit her head on the covered back causing her to cry out in pain more than once. Before Grace knew what was happening the wagon came to a halt.

 
Two burly men in dark clothes rushed into the back of the wagon and loosened their shackles. One of them furiously spat, “Out you foul creatures!” The dark tone in which they were ordered saw all three women to flinch in their seats.

 
Rough hands grabbed Grace by the shoulders and shoved her out of the wagon, causing her to land on her knees. As tears leaked out of Grace’s eyes, she cried out, “Ow!”

 
“You’ll get no pity from me, witch,” one of the men spat scornfully.

 
As tears streamed down her face, Grace looked from where she had fallen and stated, “I am no more a witch than your own mother is.”

 
The guard turned an angry red as he towered over her. As the guard yanked on Grace’s arm, she cried out once more.

 
“My mother walks with God,” he snarled as spittle came flying out of his mouth.
“She would be ashamed to know that you are treating a woman of God in this manner,” Grace argued back as she tried to free her arm from the guard’s tight grip.

 
“A witch has no place at God’s table,” the Guard spat in her face.

 
Grace opened her mouth to retort only to be feel a sharp pain where the guards hand struck her face. Standing in shock Grace felt a gentle hand on the small of her back. “It’s not worth it at the moment girl.

 
“If these people want the devil to confuse them, they are more Godless than those they accuse,” Sarah Good whispered.

 
Grace flinched at the often sour woman’s voice, but did as advised.