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 8

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As many of you know I am in the midst on writing a novel that takes place against the bloody backdrop of the Salem Witch Trials. Previously I have given you the first seven rough chapters. Without further ado I give you the eigth chapter. As always feel free to tell me what you think of the story thus far.

Happy Reading!

The days dried out as Grace sat with her back to a wall and her wrists and neck locked in a pillory. Her wrists and neck were chafed and her hair looked as though it were crawling of its own free will.

The frail Mrs. Osbourne sat on one side of her and Tituba on the other. All three women were shackled at the ankles. Mrs. Good hadn’t been seen in the jail for more than a day.
It had taken a couple of days for Grace to sit upright, rather than lay hunched over in her own waste; now, though, she gingerly sat with her back to the harsh stone wall. Mrs. Osbourne and Tituba had managed to move her away from the far wall and closer to the middle of the cell. All three of them may have been covered in their own filth, but none of them wanted to sit closer to the five gallon buckets that their waste was supposed to go in, than they had to.

The tiny cell reeked of human waste and stale, coppery blood that turned black as it dried. There hadn’t been a single soul to visit the jail in the last day. The jailer himself served their dinner – and that was naught but a bowl of stew with stale, crusty bread.
The women sat in silent, miserable camaraderie as the morning sun dimly illuminated the cell. Tituba looked over at Grace and gasped, “Miss Grace, your hair is crawling!”

“I had hoped that the itching was merely my mind trying to escape from this brutal prison,” Grace whispered tearily as the room descended into encompassing silence.
The deafening silence was broken by the steady clank of metal on metal. The hardened voice of the sheriff derisively called out, “Supper time you foul creatures.”

As the sheriff arrogantly strode into view the ladies could see that he was accompanied by a woman who was carrying a loaf a bread and tray with three bowls of steaming stew on it.
The woman that accompanied the sheriff was of moderate height. She had a round oval face. “If you’ll unlock the door, sheriff, I will leave this bountiful meal for them to eat. These bowls won’t be missed overnight,” she serenely stated.

Grace gasped as she heard that familiar, jovial voice. Abraham’s wife, Hope, had delivered dinner this evening!

The sheriff bowed his head at the woman as he replied, “As you wish Mrs. Bacon. Are sure you husbands mother won’t run short of food for her Godly household,” the sheriff inquired.

“She’s the one who sent the food to them all,” Mrs. Bacon informed.

“How does only one of her children turn to the devil’s charms?”

“Abraham is a saint sheriff,” Mrs. Bacon agreed, “So is Nathaniel.”

The sheriff chuckled and complimented, “Hope Bacon, you are indeed a saint to always find the good in even the worst of people.

“Alright, I’ll open the cell for you, after which we’ll tally up what these pathetic creatures owe you.”

“Nonsense, sheriff! Mrs. Bacon wouldn’t dream of charging for such a simple meal. She believes, as all of us do, that even the smallest kindness can cause a person to consider repenting their sins.”

“These creatures deserve no kindness from you,” the sheriff coolly informed as he opened the door to the cell.

Once Hope darted into the tiny cell to lay the bowls of stew at the feet of the prisoners. The sheriff brusquely informed, “I’ll be waiting out front for you Mrs. Bacon.”

“Thank you sheriff, and may God bless you,” Hope answered as she knelt to place the still warm bowls of stew at the feet of the prisoners.

The sheriff shrugged dismissively as he walked back to the front of the jail. The heavy wooden door slammed shut after the sheriff.

“Grace what happened,” Hope exclaimed with eyes the size of dinner plates.

Grace couldn’t look at her sister-in-law, but she could hear the horror in her voice.
“Tis been a long few days, Hope. I refuse to confess to something that I haven’t done,” Grace hoarsely replied.

“This is inhumane! To be lashed for refusing to confess is abominable! As for the pillory there is no reason to shame you.

“As for the cell bars no jail in the colony has those. None would dare to escape,” Hope declared.

Grace snorted inelegantly at Hope’s indignation before answering, “Methinks that our jailors don’t have a worry for our well being; the jailers don’t trust us to meet our fate,” Grace finished grimly.

“Your brother will be extremely upset.”

“Pray that he does nothing rash,” Grace implored.

Hope shook her head and gave all three ladies in the cell a warm bowl of stew. Tituba and Mrs. Osbourne reached for the bowl as Hope attempted to feed Grace as though she were a newborn.

The women ate in silence, relishing the warm stew that was coating their hungry stomachs. Grace was eating with her eyes closed; trying to forget her misery for a moment.

After a few bites Grace asked, “How are mother and father?”

“Your father is stubborn in the fact that if you are accused than you must be guilty. He doesn’t show it, but this is breaking him.

“Your mother refuses to believe that you are capable of such a thing. Nazareth has heard them viciously arguing over the matter. He doesn’t believe these charges other.

“You already know Abraham doesn’t believe them,” Hope quietly informed.

Tears flared behind Graces’ eyelids forcing her to open them and look into the spoon that

Hope held in her hand. Grace gasped sharply causing Hope to question, “What?”

“It’s the stew. It’s black and purple,” Grace exclaimed. Tituba’s face turned ashy and Mrs. Osbourne set her bowl down with a thud.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying Grace,” Hope softly stated.

“St. Anthony’s fire. It’s the reason the children are acting up. The grain crops are rotting with St. Anthony’s fire,” Grace insisted.

“Grace, I’ve never been out of Salem. I literally don’t know what you’re saying,” Hope informed.

Grace took a breath and whispered, “Father and I went to Stamford a while back and there was talk of the grain crops being tainted. They had symptoms just like the girls. They called it St. Anthony’s fire,” she finished desperately as thunder rolled across the darkening sky.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 3

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As many of you here know, I have been working on Fall From Grace. So far the word count is 13,217 – not too bad a start I think.

Fall From Grace is the story of Grace Bacon. Grace is a bakers daughter in Salem Towne, Massachussettes, 1692. Grace has been accused of Witchcraft, a crime akin to treason in the Puritan way of life. How will she survive the atrocious conditions in the Dungeon and Jail? More importantly will she hang because of these unthinkable accusations?

Without further ado, I give you the rough form of Chapter 3 in Fall From Grace.

Happy Reading!

The next morning dawned cold and damp for the unfortunate women in the cell. The floor was nothing more than ice encrusted mud and the three had huddled together for warmth throughout the frozen night. Ratty hair and near blue lips were the only features that distinguished themselves in the pale morning light. The vapor from their breath provided a hazy halo that highlighted their miserable state.

 
The hems of their dresses were caked in mud and Graces’ left cheek was dark purple and swollen. All three women sat with their backs to the stone wall while water began to seep onto the floor. They huddled on the floor shivering until the sheriff brazenly walked to the cell.

 
“On your feet, all of you,” he brusquely demanded.

 
The three women swayed and bumped into each other as they struggled to their numb feet. The rattling of metal against metal screeched in the air as their bound legs moved together. The sneering face of the sheriff looked as though he were smelling cow manure as he gazed upon the miserable women.

 
Mrs. Good sneered back at the sheriff while Mrs. Osbourne looked on him with pity, while she placed a frozen hand on Graces’ back. Grace flinched at the harsh tone. When the women steadied themselves, a door at the end of the hall opened and the women could see a huddled figure between two men.

 
The two men drug the huddled figure towards the cell where the other prisoners stood. From where they stood the women could hear the huddled figure whimpering. When the three newcomers approached the cell, even though the huddled figures face was hidden from view, Grace recognized the caramel colored skin of Tituba. The two guards stopped outside of the cell and waited for the sheriff to open the iron door.

 
Slowly the rusty hinges creaked and the door swung open. The sheriff held the door as the guards shoved Tituba into the cell with the others. One guard held Tituba up and the other knelt down to shackle her to the other prisoners. Once the guards stepped out of the cell the sheriff locked the door securely behind them.

 
Four cold, sore women now stood looking out from the bars of a cell. The breath that escaped their mouth provided a hazy cloud that obscured their features from the jailors.
As the sheriff was walking away from the near broken women he informed, “Your Investigators will be here in the next few days. Until then, in here you’ll stay. With luck your dark master will take you off our godly hands.” The malice in his voice made all four women shudder.

 
The echoing of the footsteps faded as a heavy wooden door closed leaving the women alone once more. While they were still standing Grace looked over at Tituba and exclaimed, “Tituba! What happened?”

 
Tituba raised her head revealing swollen cheeks and cracked lips. As she struggled to blink, bloody tears escaped bloodshot eyes. “I’m sorry Miss Grace. Master Parris beat me until I blacked out. I’m sorry Miss Grace,” Tituba desperately sobbed as she sank to the floor.

 
That collapsing act saw Tituba pull the others down with her. “Harrumph. May as well get settled so we can find the extent of our troubles,” Mrs. Good muttered darkly.

 
“Oh hush, Mrs. Good. God knows we’re in enough trouble as it is. Your bitterness isn’t needed for our morning libations,” Mrs. Osbourne chastised.

 
“He knows we’re in trouble, maybe he can do something about it,” Mrs. Good sniped back.
“Ladies, please! We have trouble aplenty and at the moment bickering isn’t helping anyone. Tituba isn’t well, perhaps we should be concentrate on her at the moment,” Grace suggested from her place on the floor.

 
Mrs. Good grumbled under her breath while Mrs. Osbourne bowed her head at the admonishment.

 
Grace carefully reached across Mrs. Good to grab Tituba’s trembling hand. “It’ll be alright Tituba. God will see us through this,” Grace weakly assured the bruised woman.

 
“I’m sorry Miss Grace. You were the only one I could think of,” Tituba moaned pitifully.

 

“What do you mean Tituba,” Grace gently implored.

 
“Miss Betty and Miss Abigail were awfully sick, Miss Grace. The healers tried everything and so did Mr. Parris. Mistress Elizabeth prayed as hard as she could.

 
“Finally Mr. Parris sent for another priest to look at the girls. He said the girls were bewitched. You were always so kind to me at the store.

 
“I thought they would ask you if I was witch, Miss Grace. I didn’t mean for you to get in trouble,” Tituba desperately explained.

 
“Why would he think the girls are bewitched,” Grace asked quizzically.

 
“That’s what the girls said,” Tituba quietly whispered.

 
“Mr. Parris is a man of God! Surely he wouldn’t believe such nonsense,” Grace insisted.

 

“I’m sorry Miss Grace, I only thought you would be able to help. When the priest said the children were bewitched Mr. Parris became enraged. He kept insisting I bewitched them.

 

“I desperately pleaded with him that I didn’t do it. I kept saying I was innocent and the more I insisted the madder Mr. Parris became. He started beating me.

 
“I know I blacked out a couple times Miss Grace. I said anything to get him to stop! I’m sorry Miss Grace!

 
“I swear to you and God though Miss Grace, I didn’t hurt those girls,” Tituba wailed through her cracked lips.

 
“Hush now, Tituba. God will help us through this nightmare,” Grace quietly assured.