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 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.”

Paper Love

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What is a piece of paper?

Paper. Parchment. Carta. Papyrus. These are among the many different ways to say paper, an invention that has arguably (depending on who you ask) made the world a better place. Thanks to the ancient Egyptians weaving strips of the papyrus reed together, even the lowliest amongst us can record their words for posterity.

It is true that without paper much of history would be lost – after all, knowledge became extinct when Alexandria first burned. It has taken us years to rediscover what was lost on those precious scrolls. But, what does it truly mean to those of us that live day to day in a modern and ever more complicated world?

As an author it is my means of creation and communication. Painters use it to paint and readers to read. Some people roll it up and smoke it while others use it to wrap dishes on moving day. It makes great paper-mache for pinatas. Kids use it to make paper airplanes. The Japanese even use it to make delicate works of art called origami. All in all paper is a wonderfully useful tool invented by the ancient Egyptians.

As someone living in this world it also means so much more and less. Why do I need a piece of paper to tell me I am married to the man I love, my best friend? He and I both feel that it isn’t necessary to prove our love by obtaining a piece of paper made by man – a near decade together should be enough to prove that. Common law marriages have been around since time immemorial and were often used when a priest couldn’t be found. Yet others around us seem to think that we are temporary or nothing without it.

I know of couples that couldn’t stay together with a piece of paper and vows. I also know of couples that never should have gotten married in the first place. For one reason or another they went after a piece of paper that they didn’t respect and all the legalities in the world couldn’t keep them together.

While true that couples do grow apart, if a couple decides they don’t want to be together, that piece of paper will not keep them together. Just like a child can’t keep a couple together, neither can a sheet of paper.

What keeps people together is people and their love are respect for each other, not paper. People and what they want and believe are what counts. Just because you believe in something, doesn’t mean everyone else does though.

Reading this, you might think that I am against legal marriage. I’m not. I’m all for it when the time and person is right for those involved. My situation is perfect for me, don’t tell me it is wrong just because you don’t believe in it. If a common law marriage was good enough for Benjamin Franklin (yes the founding father – don’t believe me, Google it), then it is more than good enough for me.

If we want to take a historical look at marriage, lets use the Puritans as an example. They believed that a marriage was a contract between two people to care for and help one another that was separate from religion. I, personally, don’t need a sheet of paper to do that. I know where my heart lies and a piece of paper won’t change that. It can’t.

Traditionally marriages were used to make alliances between families or countries. More than one war was averted by an arranged marriage. People even married to keep crowns out of other peoples hands. They married to make sure children were taken care of and to lessen a burden at home. They married to share chores on a homestead. Very rarely were they about love. Something I am glad about for the modern age – I love that my marriage (be it on paper or not) is about love. Because love is what matters and nothing else.

I realize that for many people, religion states that marriage in a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple is the only way to signify that you are married before God – I won’t even get into the fact that in the time of Jesus a marriage was consummated in a church (ewwww). While I do not personally believe this to be true, I do respect your point of view. Note that I did not say that I don’t believe in God, I wholeheartedly do – those are another set of beliefs that I keep to myself.

What keeps my husband and I (as well as many other common law couples) together is choice. We choose to be a couple. We choose to communicate. Above all, we choose to love. A piece of paper cannot guarantee any of those choices being made. As human beings we can.

It is our choices that define whether paper is even necessary to a given situation. So why do so many people define a situation by something that isn’t necessarily relevant to those involved?

That is an answer that I don’t have. I wish I did.

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.”

 

Book Suggestions For You…

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I had a review on Chapter 1 for Fall From Grace that was less than appropriate. Rather than discuss the subject matter, the reviewer chose to denigrate me and my lineage; he followed this up by wishing death and damnation upon me. Not once did this person say  what upset them about the chapter. They went on to violate the dead with such profanity that I fail to see how they can see the joy in life. I pity that person.

While I do give props for combinations of words, there is no reason to use such distasteful words to attack an author just because you are uncomfortable with the subject matter. Whether you agree with a person on politics, religion, or any other subject, there is no need to spread vile hate because you have nothing better to do.

Now I realize that we all have different opinions on this, but this should be common sense – yes I realize that common sense is in short supply for some folks.

I am an author. It is my job to entertain with words. If you don’t like what I write, might I suggest that you read a work by someone else?

In fact, if you like horror, quirky romance or a form of erotica I invite you to read any of the works by PM Barnes. The reviews she’s gotten for her work are stellar. Five out of Five stars. Point of fact, she has a great deal going on for reviews that comes with the ability to win a FREE SIGNED COPY. You can find her books here: https://www.amazon.com/PM-Barnes/e/B00LKPYTCE

pm-deal

David Moon is also a great author of the horror and erotica genres. His work is also highly rated. Again five stars. If you didn’t care for the writing style of 50 shades, you’ll want to read The Wife’s Wicked Weekend. The quality is better by a magnitude of 100, minimum. You can find his work here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HOLVSRW

In fact, I have an author friend in Indonesia who knows how to tell a tale. Jayedi Reiji has written a novel called Nigella. You can find his work here http://www.larc-nigella.com/ He is also on Instagram – Nigellanovel.

These are not the genres I write in, but they are great authors who would love to entertain your mind in ways that you may not have explored yet.

Each and every one of these authors can be found on Facebook. You can find their work on Amazon for purchase. I truly hope you enjoy their works in ways that you may not be able to mine.

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.