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Author's Note Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Epilogue
AWARD-WINNING GOTHIC WRITER
PRESENTS HER FIRST HISTORICAL ROMANCE FOR ZEBRA WITH THE POWERFUL AND SENSUAL
"Do you think I'm in danger?" Fiona asked. "I certainly hope not, but it might come in handy during a witch hunt. I pray it won't be needed," Giles answered. Fiona moved closer to him and drew a long, deep breath. "Giles, sometimes I get so frightened. I never expected anything like this« that ranting preacher, the congregation anxious to destroy people, and then Grace²" Giles pulled her swiftly into his arms and pressed her close. "You are such a comfort, Giles. I'm so glad I know you." "Even if I persist in kissing you?" In answer, Fiona raised herself higher and pressed her lips to his, feeling the heat sweep over her cheeks and her heartbeat pound. In the next instant, Giles smothered her with kisses.
ZEBRA BOOKS are published by Kensington Publishing Corp. 850 Third Avenue New York, NY 10022
Copyright © 1996 by Marion Clarke
First Printing: April, 1996
All events connected with the historical characters are as accurate as research could make them, except for the dates of Franz Mesmer, who actually lived in 1743. I moved his life earlier for plot purposes. There have always been wizards, magicians, and potions to alter people's minds, but Mesmer brought this to a height of such popularity that his name entered the English language. Hence, the word "mesmerized."
The long voyage from England to America would have been unbearable, Fiona told herself, if it hadn't been for the presence of Doctor Giles Harmon. As she clung to the ship's damp railing, Fiona hardly heard the noisy creaking of the boards, the flapping sails, the shouts of sailors swarming up the rigging. Dreamily, while
For a moment. his heart beating just as fast as hers." "I²I must see to my mother²" "She is sleeping. flinging the waves into towering peaks that crashed against the sides. Giles was seeing to her mother. Fiona thought. who lay weak and pale beside many others in the sleeping quarters. She became aware that the deck was tilting worse than ever and was slippery with ocean spray. Giles had sent Fiona up on deck for a breath of air after her long vigil.her green eyes gazed unseeing at the fast-running sea. I fear. "Fiona. that Giles would show in some way that he returned her feelings for him. All I can do for these poor sufferers is give them laudanum to make them sleep. Sympathetic. or a charcoal drink to ease their stomachs. clutching at his wide shoulders. they both fell down the steps. She stared at the wide gray eyes. . Even now. A blush covered her cheeks as she whispered. As she flung open the door to the steep companionway. and when she felt the muscles quiver at her touch. "No one could do more than you have ever since the ship's doctor became ill and you had to take his place. smooth lips. "All my studies in medicine at London. Suddenly. forget her dreams. "The sea grows worse. For many days. Are you?" "No. a little wistfully." Giles gasped. neither moved. In a tangle of arms and legs." Too calm with me. the ship creaked and groaned as the wind mounted. landing breathless at the bottom. strong body sprawled beneath her own. the muscles firm. but his shirt was rolled up to the elbow. Giles lay beneath. friendly toward all." Fiona pressed his arm." Getting up. the full. putting out a hand to grab her arm as he lost his footing. Eight weeks at sea and you have been unstinting in your care and always sensible and calm in the midst of all our terror. skirts and shawl. she wished. calm. she was very aware of everything about this intriguing specimen of young manhood. Giles staggered away from her. and startled cries. the skin warm. she told him earnestly. And then she felt the hard. the handsome young doctor had been kept constantly busy since the weather had turned rough. he treated everyone the same. the long black locks of tousled hair. she quickly took her hand away. Fiona felt her heartbeat thundering. and yet I have no cure for a simple thing like seasickness. as she had so often lately. Fiona on top. Flushing a little. but now she must return." Giles braced his back against the wall and muttered. "I am not hurt. Alas. "are you all right?" Just a breath from him. he gripped her arms and helped her to her feet. and do what she could once more to aid the sufferers down below.
"Calm? Sensible? Is that how you see me? Well. I imagine you are eager to see your mother. To think it was attractive Dr. "I am going to have a word with Governor Phips. No one had ever called her beautiful in all her eighteen years. more and more homes burned for lack of tax money and the owners thrust into the road to die. But I seriously doubt it. Even a beauty like you may not be safe. When we left England. is it not?" "Ah. his mouth a firm." "Oh. at any rate.He raked back his thick black hair and grunted." Fiona laughed nervously. I will not keep you. Giles. "None so merry and beguiling as you. they were crying news that many were being jailed on suspicion of witchcraft. Fiona. . I've known for several weeks how prone you are to worrisome thoughts. straight line. as she spoke. "Even so." Fiona drew in her breath. he pushed away from the wall. with its dire poverty under the harsh English rule. Giles. Even the rarity of your red hair«" Giles told her grimly. many people dying of hunger. once more the dedicated young doctor." "Nonsense!" She gave a little laugh. potion making is your mother's trade. "Why should I be harmed?" "I have heard even the most inoffensive matters can be fodder for an accusation of witch. fear and suspicion can cause a great deal of harm. so I do not believe they are² not yet. Have you no lass waiting for you in Salem who will make you laugh?" Hoping. young miss. Giles Harmon who had mentioned "beauty" in connection with her! Trying to speak without betraying her nervousness. and to Fiona it sounded incredible« and pleasant. But I am worried about the others²friends and neighbors." His lips twitched and he put out a hand to straighten Fiona's shawl. "What of the witch hunt we have heard about? Surely your parents and your brother are in no danger?" "I have received their letters regularly while at University." Before she could reply." His eyes fixed gravely on her face. times had been most grim²no work. I am afraid there is deep trouble in Salem Village. Fiona asked. I only hope I can retain those qualities once I get to Salem. "In addition. Although life had been too bleak for much merrymaking. still some lads had attempted to steal kisses until Fiona's laughter had cooled their sheepish ardor. delighted at this sign of Giles's awareness." Fiona nodded. "That might have been just exaggeration to sell the daily papers. that he would say "no. and with that each went his separate way. Back in Ireland.
sheep. all wide-eyed with fear. If people wanted privacy. But thirty-five seamen and over fifty passengers with their belongings took up nearly all the space. women. Many had brought pens of poultry. by all that's holy. Over a hundred feet long. Some prayed desperately. Suddenly. restless from confinement and lack of fresh air. others lay whitefaced and tight-lipped. her mother didn't seem to hear her. now complaining loudly. Would the ship sink? Fiona wondered fearfully. The sailors bedded down on deck or in the hold. There were only a few private cabins.The ship now rolled worse than ever. The little ones whimpered constantly. goats. These animals. a scream tore through the quarters as a trunk broke loose and slid rapidly across the floor. her mother opened heavy-lidded eyes and groaned. The swaying lanterns flickered dimly above men. and the stifling fumes of illness hit Fiona as she made her way cautiously among the sufferers. Fortunately. while the passengers slept amidships on hammocks or pallets of straw²wherever room could be found. which made them very unpopular. When Fiona reached their bunk. "The captain is a good man. We must trust in him to see us through." Staring blindly into space. trying to control their abject misery. "Faith! Your father died at sea in weather just like this. The waves and wind now seemed to reach a crescendo that sounded like the shrieking of a hundred fiends. there had been no sign of the dreaded skull-and-crossbones flying from a mast. The trunk crashed harmlessly against a wall and two men secured it firmly with the jagged rope. Daughter. I warrant he has weathered worse gales than this. they hung up canvas strips or blankets. how much longer will this awful storm be lasting? Have you heard how far we are from making landfall?" Fiona had no answer and shook her head reluctantly. were tied down on deck. returning him to a grateful though distracted parent handling two other crying children. With the arrival of turbulent seas. . "Oh. At last I know how my dear David must have felt!" A sob escaped her lips. Fiona leaped forward and jerked a heedless toddler from its path. as were a longboat and several cannon to repel the ever-present threat of pirates on the high seas. Her nose crinkled at the odor of spilled rum from a jug that a group of determined youths passed from hand to shaking hand. all portholes and hatches had been shut tight. and swine with which to stock their new farms. Probably the rough weather that had caused such misery among the passengers and lengthened the Seawynd's voyage had also discouraged pirates. would it all end in this howling misery? Fiona knew she must hide her own fears from her mother and so she answered strongly. the Seawynd was unusually large and sturdy. and children. Would they all drown? After eight weeks at sea with America nearly in sight. as it cut off the circulation of air. Just in time.
" "If we remained at home any longer. reaching out a shaking hand. Fiona saw a group of sailors surrounding a screaming man. a black bag swinging from his hand." "No. "I must try to save his leg. save us!" Fiona raced back to her mother." "Sure and I know this was the only thing we could do.Patting her mother's hand. beginning a new life. Seeing her mother so pale. we would have heard if he was no longer there. "Don't think about the past. an Englishman who was first mate on a British trading vessel that had shattered upon the rocks one stormy night. what happened?" "A loose cannon. causing everyone to start from their beds with cries of fear. the pressure of hard times had decreased the call for her mother's herbal remedies until only the passage fare remained. For an awful instant. Jack. "It might be dangerous!" "I'll be careful. Fiona saw the sailor's bloody leg. But with her father's income gone. Suddenly." Her mother's thin fingers plucked uneasily at the worn blanket. dear Lord. but first we set the bones. Heaven knows we sorely need his help. After his death that awful night. You. "The ship is breaking up! Oh. fetching a mug of water there." Giles flung across his shoulder. Fiona had to quell her own tears as she recalled her beloved father. but suppose he's moved away? It took nearly everything we had saved just to make this voyage. dear God. "But I do wish we had had a reply to our last letter telling Matthew we were coming. no. Peter on the other. Fiona's mother kept the dream alive." Fiona answered." her mother cried. he had lived in her village when ashore. dearest. Don't fret. strong purpose in his stride. Up on deck. she staggered forward. In desperation. the prosperous ships. and worried. who lived in Salem. on one side. "Oh. We must be brave and look only to the future." . a loud crash sounded up on deck. Massachusetts and he generously offered them a home in the New World. They parted to let Giles through. Fiona said. rocking a fretful child. straightening a blanket here. and it became a dedication to his memory that she and Fiona would carry out his wishes. With a strangled cry. To please his Irish wife. but for years he had talked of living in America with his brother who wrote glowingly about New England. ill. the plenitude of work and food and land. bones protruding from one end." Fiona continued to speak soothingly until her weary mother fell into an uneasy sleep that left Fiona free to move among the other ailing people. Fiona's mother appealed to her brother-in-law. A wild-eyed woman leaped to her feet with an anguished scream. "I'll go topside and see what's happening. we would be penniless with all our costs. Soon we will be safe and happy. Uncle Matthew's letter was the answer to our prayers.
and his smile was warm. a five-hundred-pound cast-iron stove filled with charcoal. then. "Once more. then packed away his instruments. no. I aim to save your leg. I knew you could do it. but you must help us and be very steady. Talk to him. Instead. several of the stronger passengers crept up on deck to heat some tea or soup at the little cookstoves anchored on the lee side of the ship. Billy. we pull on three. A splint was found. taut line. so strong of hand and will. Fiona. Fiona dug her nails into her palms and drew in a deep breath. . but with eyes of deep compassion. Giles and he hurried off. How lucky for the Seawynd to have him when the ship's doctor had been stricken. lad. You will sleep and soon be well. I do. When twilight came. There also was an open "hearth" for them to use. another gripped his shoulders. then. Fiona flushed with pleasure. Trust me. She went below. to see who needed her. He glanced up at Fiona." Fiona gripped the seaman's head." "No. cutting away the pant leg and scraps of skin. He must lie still. "My thanks. At the bloody scene and against the violent rocking of the ship. You are going to be all right. Billy shrieked louder than the crashing waves and fainted dead away. Fiona felt like doing likewise. who still hovered near. he went to work. How proud she was of him²so sure and steady. Billy. "D-does the young doctor say so?" Giles glanced up. Now." With a mighty effort the man clenched his teeth and rolled his eyes to her. men. "Can you help us?" His gray eyes looked steady but demanding. shielding the injured man as best they could. his mouth a hard." "Hold his head and give him sips of this laudanum." Without another word." He gulped the liquid. "I do say so. then moved back a little averting her eyes from the young man's leg. At the signal. Fiona took the screaming seaman's head between her hands and bent her lips down to his ear. Giles rinsed his hands in a nearby basin of rainwater. The seamen didn't hesitate to follow directions. "I likes to dance. The sea grew calmer after that.He glanced back at Fiona." He jerked his chin toward Fiona's cup. "Be they cuttin' off m'leg?" He gave a sob. she inhaled several deep breaths. correct? The one from York? Listen. the leg was wrapped. Here. "Tell me what to do. swallow deeply. "You are Billy." Another call came for Dr. and the sailors carried the unconscious boy away.
Fiona leaned far over the side." As if to test this power.Fiona joined them but had to wait her turn. Sinking back on the deck. or there may be deaths on board." the governor growled." Giles called back. Fiona saw Giles talking to Sir William Phips. "I still have my lucky piece. lass. now. "You are either very brave or very foolhardy. The governor's coin sailed over Fiona's head to land beside the railing. lass? And where are you headed in America?" . his anger fading." He looked down at her and shook his head. the newly appointed royal governor assigned to Massachusetts Colony. "I heard you say 'twas lucky for the ship. before her eyes. which they centered on the far horizon while snatches of their conversation flew on the wind to Fiona. Hearing voices next to her on the bridge. Fiona looked from one angry face to the other. Fiona whirled around and reached out for the coin." She held up the coin. dangling above the rail in seas like this?" "My God. she pulled it free. Grasping the railing with one hand." Sir William spoke loudly above the flapping sails. swung a gold coin on a black cord from his waistcoat pocket. Suddenly. as distraught as Giles. "Just see those big black clouds!" "The wind may move them from our path. angry voices sounded in her ears. "You little idiot! What were you doing. I simply wanted to save this. doctor. "I fear the storm is not quite over. Giles reached her first and jerked her to her feet. Fiona ran to the edge and saw it dangling." the governor cried. could I?" "It almost proved your unlucky piece. Some passengers cannot hold down even a crust of bread or sip of tea. and so I could not let it get away." The big. "Why. "Were you attempting suicide? Has this fearsome voyage driven you to such madness?" Wide-eyed. whose hair flamed as fiery a color as Fiona's own. she saw Giles and Sir William hurrying toward her. a very dry and tasteless biscuit which abated her constant hunger but did little else. "I pray we make land soon. reaching out to clasp the coin. she held the coin against her chest and shut her eyes. "What do they call you. Without another thought. it vanished over board. loud. no. waiting for her gasping breathing to abate. the deck suddenly lurched violently. It slid away. caught on a piece of splintered wood below her. and looking up. broad-shouldered governor. She set down her small kettle and leaned beside the hatchway while she munched a piece of hardtack. then. The two men exchanged a spyglass. With a triumphant cry. Some folks claim its power will keep the ship from harm.
I believe you make your own luck." The two men exchanged uneasy glances. has offered us a sorely needed home. That's what I've done all my life. I do not expect to need a nursemaid. Now. evidently anticipating the retelling of his astounding story to a new audience. Giles didn't smile." "Matthew Prescott." "Wait. doctor. Fiona found her voice." Speechless for a moment. first we'll pay a visit to my mother's cousin in Boston. is it? Have you nowhere else to go?" the governor asked her gravely. but my uncle. I could not read or write. and all the while I listened to tales of sunken treasure in the southern seas. I would not deprive you of your luck. that you will not do. My mother and I are bound for Salem. "Salem. I will say goodnight. I have heard of the huge sunken treasure you found. Matthew Prescott." "Nay. "Oh. lass. "Yes. "Oh. " 'Tis one of the Spanish doubloons I discovered in the West Indies. "That should not concern you." Giles said slowly. keep this as a souvenir of the voyage. "Before we reached rough weather. "I am afraid Fiona cares naught for caution. And his family." The governor clapped Giles on the shoulder. Why. I can take care of myself. So I went to Boston and found work building ships. eh?" He gave a booming laugh." The governor handed back the coin. sir. lass." She stared at the coin. "You know him?" Fiona asked." Why must he sound so exasperated? Fiona tossed her head. and can keep an eye on little Miss Fiona. Sir William. I doubt that should be a hardship. when I came to Boston as a lad.She dipped a rather wobbly curtsey. a place that appealed to me much more than a farm. Honest and hardworking. The one that thrilled me most concerned sixteen Spanish galleons sunk in 1643 during a fierce hurricane and never . gentlemen. "My name's Fiona Prescott. doctor. But Your Excellency. loosened and blew about her face. Fiona shook her head. her curls. there was constant talk of it among the passengers. It may be difficult to keep her out of harm. I assure you. "I grew up on a sheep farm with twenty-one brothers and four sisters and I knew I had to get away and make a life beside the sea. Matthew Prescott is a good man. "And you also will be in Salem. I only had one pair of shoes tied around my neck to keep them clean." He leaned back on the rail.
"The rest is common history." Sir William grinned. But my luck had not run out. I realized that I needed a larger vessel. He arranged an audience for me with the king. But then he flung out his arms. "Behold Sir William Phips. For weeks we searched but got nary a glimpse of treasure. Soon after that Sir William left. fingering the coin pierced by a black cord. " 'Twas not to be that easy. "So." "Others might say crazy. hands braced on each arm." "But then you found the treasure!" Fiona interjected. who liked the idea of a huge treasure for the Crown and gave me a new ship. she felt awed and shy. so I sailed to England to see if the king would finance me. but I made friends. There he stopped. knighted by King James. "You were exceedingly optimistic. "From the wreck you brought up jewels. Miss Fiona. "And now you're a royal governor." "Yes. better equipped and an experienced crew. if I can ever help you²" A booming wave cut him off and Giles swept Fiona into an alcove to escape the spray." Fiona breathed. Fiona looked down. When I told him. noticed my constant vigil at the castle gates and asked what business brought me there. coins." "Gad!" Giles exclaimed. their bodies brushing with each motion of the ship. People vowed my wits were addled when we set sail. Christopher Monch. I waged a long battle with rough seas. crying. but he turned around before he reached his cabin." Sir William smiled complacently. A new king came to the throne in England and my friend the duke organized a group called the Gentlemen Adventurers who helped King James to finance another expedition. "Nay. the former barefoot boy!" And they all laughed when the ship's listing had them clutching at each other." Giles's eyes glowed. indeed. he became as excited as I. albeit not so large or new as I had wished. and spoke a little breathlessly. staring down at her with half-shut eyes. lass. my dear. Night and day I dreamed of finding it and then I married a young woman whose dowry enabled me to get my own ship and gather up a crew. oblivious to the swaying deck and sharp wind that blew her red locks wildly and whipped her shawl about her neck. Thrilled by his closeness. unsuccessfully hunting for the treasure and finally enduring a mutiny among the men which I had to quell single-handedly. After that. My mind reeled imagining all that gold just waiting on some coral reef. I wish I could have seen it!" " 'Tis the most thrilling story I've ever heard.found. the Duke of Albermarle. rough-hewn man had actually become." Suddenly. My money was nearly gone. "I think I'll wear this around my neck. "At first I couldn't even get an audience with King Charles. She had forgotten for a moment how important this easy-mannered. and gold bars and plate valued at two million pounds. Wasn't it kind of the governor to give it to me?" ." Sir William chuckled.
She could hardly wait to savor everything and everyone. you may need me." Fiona gazed up at his solemn. about to ask him not to go. Fiona. I guess this long voyage is driving us all insane with fear and weariness. That 'lucky piece' won't help you. It would be wonderful! Why. I shall watch myself in the future." Giles's voice sounded rough. thank you. his fingers closed her own around the coin. but just remember this: I 'stand ready to serve you if I can. exasperating« extraordinary lovely woman!" The next instant. saying it wouldn't happen again. How or when I cannot say. "By God. "But if any trouble should assail you in your new life. she clutched his coat to keep from falling. But evidently Giles had not shared her feelings." He ground his teeth. you are a willful. Hadn't he felt the excitement. longing for this joy to never end. From now on. were tears trickling down her cheeks? . since he faces a big problem with the Indians up north. There will be no trouble for me in Salem²nor anywhere else. "I don't know what came over me. "Forgive me." "Why. gradually heating to a hot. indeed it wouldn't. "You are so young and innocent. she would only call him "doctor" and speak to him as little as possible. "When you reach Salem. Well." Hard and strong. leaning with an odd feeling of abandonment against his male strength. His next words smote her like an icy wave. "There you go again. he probably will be too busy. Better things awaited her. worrying. a whole new world. He put the kissing down to the long voyage and nothing more. upright doctor. his mouth came down against her own. demanding pressure that took Fiona's breath away and blanked out all the world. then. She knew now that she could expect nothing more of an intimate nature from the dedicated. This was what she had yearned for these past long days and nights at sea." He turned away. either. And it more than fulfilled her expectations. She would never again think of Giles as anything more than a mistake she had made in giving her first blossoming affection to such an unresponsive man. frowning face and gave a teasing laugh. the surging sweetness of that kiss? She could have stayed wrapped in his arms for hours enjoying the exploration of this thrilling new sensation. never fear."He meant well. All she knew was that Giles was kissing her. His cold lips moved back and forth. When Giles suddenly jerked his head up with a gasp and stepped back. Eagerly she kissed him back." Bewilderment and disappointment swept Fiona. and then with frigid courtesy." he said harshly.
" Fiona hugged her tenderly. a cow. wipe your tears. Sailors swarmed up the rigging. Soon we would leave his brother's house and get a wee place of our own with a garden for my herbs. This concoction.' just like Paradise. but unmistakably their destination. fresh air in lungs that had been starved for it. there it is!" "America!" "Praise be to God!" Fiona strained her eyes. some fowl. Everyone moved carefully. shouting. Sure and David said America was called the 'land of milk and honey. including Fiona and her mother. sobbing. A long shadow on the horizon. "Such dreams and plans he had. with only a few remaining clouds. too. Salem Harbor would be filled with splendid ships and eager seamen like himself. The sky now arched high and blue. and by late afternoon people ventured out on deck. combined with the easing of the ship's tossing. laughing. tansy. senses whirling. Hark. murmuring and exclaiming with the rest. calling to each other and breathing deeply of the clean. yes. only a gray outline at this distance. The big white sails belled triumphantly until suddenly a cry erupted from the crow's nest high above: "La-a-and ahoy!" Excitement sent everyone crowding to the rails. I promise. 'tis right you are." "Mother." . was of great help. no more tears. and briony. if only your dear father could have seen this day!" Ellen Prescott caught back a sob. Oh. "Oh.Chapter 2 The storm ran itself out next morning and Fiona brewed an herbal tea of angelica. pointing eagerly across the silvery blue sea. Now she saw it. look. now. propelled by shouted orders from below. he's signaling for silence. "I believe Father is aware we are here." "Aye. A lump rose in her throat as she and her mother clasped hands. which her mother could keep down. "Are we nearly there?" "Yes. there comes the ship's chaplain on the bridge. and he would want us to be brave and happy.
" the gray-haired clergyman called out strongly. too. causing her to halt against her will." She jerked away as though his fingers burned her and pushed off through the crowd. he still could make her pulses quicken. strong and courageous and never ill for a single day. Afterwards. Ellen went below to rest. where is that sunny smile?" . "before he died at sea last year. However. no undue grumbling. everyone knelt on the rough wooden planks of the swaying ship and bowed their heads as the chaplain intoned: "We thank thee. "this is a day for great rejoicing. Our talks on the deck before the weather worsened. he took her arm in a firm clasp. throwing her several glances which she ignored. no despair. there was no panic. Why recall an interval that was so painful?" He gave her a little grin. I know how you must miss him. Please guide out future ventures and keep each one of us from harm. Giles still followed. but these days at sea will never be forgotten." she said coolly. and soon Fiona became aware that Giles had pushed through the throng to reach her side. almost to himself. "You are a very remarkable voyager." A fervent "Amen" rose from every throat. Fiona couldn't answer. All did the best they could to help themselves as well as each other. finding it too beautiful for speech. Fiona? Can you forget all this? I would not think so." "Oh. Let us pray and give thanksgiving to the Lord. Before they reached the companionway. "Fiona. "There were a few times not unpleasant. doctor. To her annoyance." She raised her chin defiantly."My brethren. Lord. "I long to see how my family fares. You were beautiful. May we all prove worthy of Your trust. and he continued. How about you. Though many of you ailed mightily and worried desperately." she said shortly. And the night we gazed silently at a moonlit sea. what is the matter? Where is the merry. I imagine you can hardly wait to reach your home." "My father taught me many things." he added. "soon these days on shipboard will be just a memory." Giles pressed her hand upon the railing with his own. optimistic lass I've admired all these past weeks at sea? Now that the worst is over. for delivering us from the perils of the vast and furious ocean and for bringing us safely to shore in this new land. "Well. I am sorry. "I must go in. "I intend to push this voyage completely from my memory." At once." He nodded.
Not just once. I guess I frightened you. He enjoyed her company and sought her out. she would be glad to leave his attractive. Doctor Harmon. Oh. Now. it was the wretched voyage. how quickly he'd pulled back." "Fiona. what nonsense! I had forgotten all about it. Instead. I have other things to think about. "It wasn't just the voyage²" But she succeeded in loosening his hold and turned to the decks below. no righteous slap upon his cheek." She tried to jerk her arm away. Even Sir William and the captain were among his friends. "You must be angry with me because I kissed you. He was strong. what must he have thought of her! Fiona's face burned at the memory. Angrily Fiona brushed the moisture from her eyes. handsome. She hardened her heart and answered flippantly. but when he had." "Fiona²" His fingers tightened on her arm. We will meet²" She forced a laugh. her voice wobbled at the end and she flung open the door to the companionway. but his hold tightened and Fiona was forced to meet his steady gray-eyed gaze. A whole new life awaits me and I doubt you will play any part in it. "Do you think I would remain insulted because of a kiss in a moment's madness? You were correct. but I said it wouldn't be repeated.When she didn't answer or look at him. Then at last he kissed her. Afraid she'd get the wrong impression. pray release me. he had apologized. disturbing presence that had caused her pulse to pound and her heartbeat to quicken. demanding power of his touch. yes. And she had been so willing! Not a speck of indignation had she shown. Oh. giving her lips to the searching. he said in a low. good-natured and a skillful and important doctor. When you reach Salem there might be troubling times." To her dismay. Perhaps she had been on the brink of falling in love with Giles. listen for a moment. finding an excuse for his behavior. The reserve and seriousness that were part of him had made her long to make him lose his head and respond to her. "I am grateful for your kindness to my mother. and that I won't forget. deep voice. He thought she was pretty. pressing her own mouth hotly to his own. and I apologized. Doctor Harmon. At least it had taught her a valuable lesson about men. You may need help. "The kiss? Oh. she had clung weakly. They both were young. experiencing a thrilling new adventure. excluding other misses who smiled and flirted with him. I wish to help my mother pack. . Why hadn't she realized sooner what was happening? They had been thrown together for long periods in a close confinement. but several times. It would not have been unnatural. fighting off the threat of tears.
he now looked like the famous.Of course. The next morning. "Willful and exasperating. lass. She looked back at the Seawynd bobbing gently at anchor. and wearing a white wig tied at the back of his head with a velvet ribbon. but her mother. suddenly appearing at their side. be sure to look me up. doctor. Prescott?" Giles asked. are you not. with him it was just a passing fancy. Giles Harmon would never have to be bothered by her again." "You are over your own sickness. I am. I wonder?" Especially a certain royal governor who had given her a lucky piece? The day before they'd landed. "We all became good friends. Dressed in a fine broadcloth coat trimmed with gilt lace and embroidery. Seeing Fiona's downcast face. "My dear. He wasn't serious about her. important man he really was. when the ship docked in Boston Harbor. "I wish the best of luck to you and your mother. Mrs." she said to her mother with a sigh as they stood on the dock. "Eight weeks at sea. sails hanging meekly furled against the sunny sky. Almost as good as new. She had not seen him after that." he had said." "I presume you and Fiona are going to take the sloop to Salem?" he asked. soon our time on shipboard will be just a memory and in the years to come." . and illness we will be forgetting. her mother said. easy way. Fiona felt a surprising pang of regret that the voyage was over and knew her words to Giles about dismissing it from her mind had not been true. we'll only remember the comradeship and the adventure of it all. She patted her chest with a deep breath." he said in his frank. He had left in a special launch before the others. " 'Tis by far the easiest and quickest way to travel there. happily. Will we ever see any of them again. yes. was her usual friendly self. "If you ever come to Boston." Fiona could only murmur shyly and thank him. "Indeed. All farewells had been exchanged with their friends who were now hurrying away about their own affairs. unaware of any undercurrents. The discomfort. She was penniless. worry. Back home in Salem. Fiona vouchsafed him the coolest nod. Well. Sir William had sought her out to say goodbye. She clenched her hands. he doubtless already had²or soon would have²a talented housewife with a fine dowry to ease his new practice on its way.
one sign stating "Proper Deportment and Elegance of Carriage Taught Here. " 'Tis stable ground I want. Her mother consulted the address once again. but this« I had no idea!" . cats." Fiona gasped. thick-set man in a leather jacket holding up a grubby sign: For Hire. Above these tempting items. and other fruits glowing in the sun. She saw the Boston sloop thronged with passengers pull slowly away from shore. jollity« all such a change from the hard. the crooked streets soon gave way to cobblestoned thoroughfares winding between imposing churches and large brick buildings. there was no sign of Giles. Carting Anywhere. scurried around. When their driver bawled. Prescott laughed. swung rackets in games of shuttlecock and battledore. However." Mrs." Fiona said briskly. The dirt-paved lanes were thronged with traffic and lined with crowded shops and narrow wooden houses. but Fiona. cloak billowing in the breeze. While her mother spoke to Thomas. abundance. pointing out their baggage and giving him instructions to her cousin's home." On grassy squares. and even pigs. And in among the stalls and shops." "We will meet in Salem. no more boats for me just yet. Fiona stared around the wharf. "Cousin Samantha lives up here? She must be rich!" Everywhere she saw twoand three-story houses set back amid beautiful well-tended gardens and lawns. nutmeg. and I see one over there. She looked down at the swaying dock. white gulls wheeled. Wealth. Wait here. chickens." Giles called after her. primitive life aboard ship that Fiona felt almost dizzy. as well as ragged urchins and beggars. "This be the corner of Beacon Hill and George Streets. and Fiona helped her mother onto the wooden seat behind him. She noticed several schools for young ladies. salt cod. Fiona turned away. didn't favor him with look or answer. She realized she was hungry as she eyed the kegs of pickled oysters. The wagon lurched forward through the deeply rutted streets while fashionably dressed ladies and gentlemen. Mother. Goodness. When Fiona returned to her mother with the carter. the colorful crates of lemons. Determinedly. cinnamon. named Thomas. I knew Samantha married well." "First. head held high. uttering harsh cries as they smelled the piles of fresh-caught fish. children raced with hoops. "That house on the corner must be hers. excited and noisy. getting under everybody's feet."Whisht. dogs. and beef. "I think we best hire a carter without delay. After one quick. Thomas now called that he was ready. oranges. threw balls. painful glance. Bags of spices. and cloves sent up pungent aromas. we are going to visit our cousin in Boston. moved indifferently out of their way. pork. then nodded. not looking at Giles. she marched up to a swarthy.
then. Flaherty has traveled to New Haven to attend the birthing of her first grandchild." Ellen Prescott said. but is this the home of Mrs. then straightened her back. She is waiting with a carter by the gate²" "I'm sorry." She eyed Fiona's travel-stained homespun gown and worn black cloak and attempted to shut the door. "The fruit orchard. When there was no movement. the gazebo covered with honeysuckle. "Oh. Fiona grasped the knob. We are her kin from Ireland. Thomas. Ellen Prescott. Fiona stood on the door step. There was nothing else to do but convey the bad news to her weary mother. "Fiona." With tight lips. "Begging your pardon. Startled. Fiona knew she had hoped for a night or two on solid ground in a real bed with real food so they could fortify themselves for the uncertain trek to Salem and the new home based on charity. wait. Prescott dug into her reticule." the maid replied tersely. "Oh. it looks as though you'll have to drive us on to Salem. "Aye. she turned away. but Mrs. but she's not here. Perhaps Samantha is not awake as yet. flowerbeds. her mother sagged for a few minutes. When Fiona lifted the brass eagle on the front door and clanged it twice. " 'Twill cost you a deal more and two extra shillings to cross the River Charles." It proved to be worse than that. My mother. "Not for several days. then crafty. the maid slammed the door in Fiona's face." Fiona's heart sank. a week at least. run up to the door and make certain this is the right place. She knew her cousin Samantha had long been a widow and had just one married child living in another town."Just look at her beautiful white house. . so there was no hope of any other relative near by. that it is. the door opened a mere crack. the little pond²" "The thing I'm seeing is that all the curtains are closed. will you please tell your mistress that her kin have arrived from Ireland safely and we are going to live in Salem²" "Salem!" With a horrified gasp. "Then. and that's the sober truth of it. When will she return?" "I cannot say exactly. Mrs. "Well." Fiona breathed. please." Fiona had to swallow her disappointment. After hearing Fiona's message." He looked alarmed. is her cousin. Samantha Flaherty?" Fiona asked the elderly aproned maid. hoping the maid would re-open the door.
not a person." Fiona began to laugh but stopped at Thomas's stern expression. the sun shone high and hot overhead. I'll give y'back a coin or two. "What! How could one village hold a hundred witches?" . "I won't go anywhere near Salem at this time of night. hardened. only miles of woods. "Where is the town? Where is Salem? I see nothing but woods«" Thomas shifted his bulky weight. Fiona watched the scenery. and dropped his voice. The trip took longer than I thought. Finally. "Oh. not a house. and while her mother dozed. Here. too interested in this new land for sleep to claim her. I would like to know?" Fiona cried indignantly. Her head turned from side to side as the horse clip-clopped along the leafdappled. not even an animal. no. But after a while there was nothing to see. ladies. also. Thomas hunched his shoulders. 'Tisn't far. "We also need some dinner. She rubbed her eyes. The afternoon sun had faded into twilight and now deepening violet shadows stretched across the deserted road. Perhaps we can eat beside the road somewhere. dusty road. she became aware that the wagon had stopped and she heard Thomas say loudly. but I know a place in Boston what sells meat pasties. moldy cheese. Thomas. There be no inns along the way. A long time later. Every bone in her body seemed to ache. Buy some fruit. not looking at her. my good man! You agreed to take us right to Salem. you must drive on to our destination. and the plums and berries tasted wonderful after weeks of salted meats. miss. Fiona straightened up and blinked." Fiona brightened. her eyes closed drowsily and her head began to nod. "Ye can walk the rest of the way." "And why won't you take us on to Salem. the seat grew harder by the minute." "Oh. "The town's accursed. cheap and good." With a jerk." Later on. the picnic made a pleasant break in the jouncing." His thick lips firmed. I am so hungry for fresh meat. glancing at the gathering darkness. There's a witch hunt on in Salem. The pies were filled with beef and onions. I swear. hard-planked wagon trip. that's why.He still held out a grubby paw. "This be as far as I go. and dried-out biscuits. and Fiona wished over and over that they could have taken the boat. Have ye not heard? A hundred witches 'a been named already. When they resumed their journey. As the hours dragged.
"I'm wishing we could have seen Samantha for a day or two. walk softly and say little in that accursed town. strange place with its frightening tales of witch hunts. not far. then walk we must. He said the village was not far." He gave her a pitying glance. "He is just a superstitious lout. fearful of the dark. unable to control the wave of uneasiness that engulfed her. "But how will we find our way? 'Tis almost dark. "You will not take us on to Salem?" When he didn't answer but only shook his head. Fiona watched him drive away. "These things are far and away too heavy for us to carry. "Take my advice. let us go. "I wonder why he would not go any farther?" her mother said." Fiona's mouth felt dry." "Just take the footpath through the woods and then ye come to fields. we had better hurry. she continued bravely. The jails be fairly bulging. The town lies right beyond. looking askance at their battered. And find another place to live as quick as ye can. then vanished down the road in a cloud of dust. The courts can't keep up with all the witchcraft cases." Mrs. All manner of evil things go on in Salem now. We have no choke. Mother. Will you at least place our boxes beside the road?" Thomas did as she requested. Now." Fiona shook her head. A plague on that cowardly driver. "Very well. Prescott woke up then and heard the driver's last remark. then. They dragged their baggage back as far as possible and did their best to cover everything with branches. what shall we do with our boxes?" her mother asked. "Have ye nowhere else to stay? I would still drive ye on to another place tonight. It will soon be too dark to find our way. "Faith." He jumped back in the wagon." Fiona muttered. We have no choice. "And telling us to walk softly and say little in Salem?" Fiona decided this was not the time to enlighten her. ladies. rope-tied luggage which held all their worldly goods. It would have to do . I swear. she begged me to visit . Now they were truly alone in this dark. "My aunt and uncle live in Salem. Was it true? What kind of place were they going to? Her voice shook as she asked."Nay. "Now. We were so close as children and when she moved away." Fiona discovered a thick pine tree standing by itself with a clustering ring of seedlings. looking as though all the devils of Salem were approaching. and some are sent to other towns. looking both ashamed and frightened." Ellen Prescott sighed as they set off. 'tis true." "We must hide them in the underbrush and get them another day.
a loud shriek rent the air and Fiona almost collided with a man and girl driving a cow before them out of the woods. "I do not know. It was entirely possible that they would need all the wits and courage at their command in order to survive. No light shone anywhere when the scudding clouds obscured the moon. "Wh-what is that?" Fiona whispered hoarsely. and all at once Fiona left her mother's side to run forward. "Oh." Just then. Alas. She devoutly hoped any animals nearby would keep their distance. the joke turned out to be on us. She did not add that they had also terrified the maid at the mention of their destination. . Unlike her usual optimism." "Well. clinging silently together. daughter. What unknown terrors might lurk in a strange town cursed by a swarm of witches? Despite herself. They had enough to worry about as they neared Salem.her. Fiona now found herself prey to ever-increasing nervousness. A wind moaned in the branches and underfoot the dead leaves of the past winter crackled ominously as Fiona and her mother trudged along. Could all they had heard about the place be true? Perhaps it would be a good idea to take the advice of Thomas and "walk softly. Fiona heard a sound that made her breath catch in her throat: a long. the moaning sound increased. listening. She clutched her mother's hand and they stood still. I thought 'twould be a fine joke to surprise her when we arrived in Boston. Even as the thought crossed her mind." Fiona answered. She said nothing of this to her mother." her mother gasped. she could believe that evil spirits were abroad this dark and lonely night. But now the trees had thinned. There was not a single sign of habitation. drawn-out wail that died. thank goodness-lights and houses! That must be the town. we surprised the maid." As they sped forward. "but I think we'd better hurry." at least until they understood the situation in town. Chapter 3 It soon became quite difficult to make out the path winding through the crowding trees. then started up again.
he exclaimed. Mrs. Nothing mattered now except the joy of finding someone familiar. Giles Harmon knows us. anything. Prescott and her daughter. Prescott²and Fiona! I can hardly believe my eyes. Giles!" She flung herself on the tall man beside her. "You cannot see that these are not witches? Instead they are your kin from Ireland. strong.Fiona felt a wild desire to laugh. Her wide eyes swept over Fiona and instantly her brow turned into a frown. Prescott tried to speak to her in a soothing tone. but without success. hand. "Look. Look. I did not expect to see you here so soon. the girl gave another scream. we were all good friends on the long sea voyage. Grace. Mrs. Matthew's stepdaughter. Fiona would have grabbed his arm. but he was wrapped in the clutches of the shrieking girl. will you stop yelling?" He tried to pry the girl's arms away. He replaced the doctor on our ship from England. Giles! Witches²witches! Oh." Still holding onto Giles. whom Fiona now saw clearly. Have you no word of welcome for us? Can you escort us to your mother?" Still unconvinced." Fiona gave a short. and dependable in this dark and frightening place. Fiona. then. and pointed a shaking finger at Fiona. swooping out of the woods. "Indeed. it is me²Fiona Prescott!" Everything in their last encounter was swept away. Fiona had to shout in order to be heard. my dear. He turned to Fiona and a warm smile lit his face. and this is your cousin Fiona. When Fiona's mother stepped into the spotty moonlight. What are you and your mother doing in these woods so late at night?" Fiona burst out laughing. you must be Grace. but I thought you were going to remain in Boston for a while. A cow! That had been the source of the strange wailing sound. 'tis Aunt Ellen. "Why. mottled face. But Fiona. come all the way from Ireland." . Giles stared back in astonishment. "Good heavens. "Do you also think we might be witches?" "Of course not. "Giles!" In her relief. exasperated sigh. Why hadn't she recognized it? Was it because she had been expecting to hear something not of the known world? Before Fiona could call out a greeting. the girl raised a plump. "How do I know you both aren't witches." Grace frowned but slowly dropped her arms from around Giles's neck. Grace muttered darkly. louder than the first. "Mrs. you arrived at Salem sooner than I expected. "Giles. yes.
This is not a good beginning. I'm thinking."Our cousin was away on a visit." Mrs. Prescott to your home while I lead in the cow. "Let's not continue standing about in the cornfield. Grace. Ellen Prescott advanced and clasped the woman's pale. but I don't know²" "What²what? Ellen Prescott a-and Fiona? From Ireland? How on earth did you get here? Why would you go abroad at night in times like these?" Mercy peered into the darkness. "so we hired a carter to drive us here." "I am nearly twenty. His steps slowed and he spoke softly." As lamplight spilled into the darkness. My father has told me things about the witch hunt that are appalling. No. "These travelers must be very weary." He said no more. then dropped it as they approached the house. about the same age as your girl." "He showed good sense. and this is my daughter Fiona. her small black eyes darting suspiciously from Giles to Fiona. Prescott put in. leaving Fiona to fall back with Giles. they say they came from Ireland. but how glad she was to have friendship restored with Giles and know that he was concerned for her. You must be extremely careful here." Giles said impatiently. she wore a long white apron and a white cap tied beneath her double chin. Giles? And tomorrow we will need some eggs. Short and plump. "Why are you two dawdling so? Put the cow in the barn. "I was afraid of this." She then mounted the steps of a two-story clapboard house and flung open the door. Already suspicion and jealousy have touched you. "Faith now. Fiona felt an apprehensive shudder sweep her. Grace stopped and turned around. Fiona. Prescott took Grace's arm and began talking in her soothing. Matthew's wife. but took her hand and pressed it tightly. Suppose you go ahead and show Mrs. the man refused to travel any closer to Salem and we had to take a footpath through the woods." Mrs. when night fell. an older version of Grace appeared in the doorway and gaped at them. . pleasant voice. will you. looking up and down as though searching for their conveyance. you must be Mercy." Grace said. "Ma. limp hand. Alas. How wonderful to meet you at last. it was not a good beginning. "strangers have come t' see us. I am Ellen Prescott." Grace proclaimed loudly." she bawled. "Who²who are you?" she stuttered fearfully. "Ma.
" "Oh« oh." She sent a warning glance toward Fiona. You say you've come all the way from Ireland? Whatever for?" Ellen Prescott looked bewildered." Mercy sighed. her throat tight with tears. they are both dead. and now I suppose there will be more to do around here than ever. and now there's only Grace to help me. Now. no!" Fiona's mother sank down upon a chair as though unable to withstand another blow. A second door took them into a large kitchen where a fire smoldered in the hearth and threw shadows on white washed walls. gone! She had wanted so much to meet him. "My daughter jests. we shall leave tomorrow. "I work monstrous hard."We left our broomsticks in the woods. She felt a stabbing sense of loss. Mercy. to live here with you. died." Fiona said loudly and heard Grace suck in her breath. well. her thin face flushed." Mercy fluttered. Aunt Mercy faced them. The brothers were looking forward eagerly to a reunion. Then another frightening thought crossed her mind: now that her uncle was dead. "I recall now he said something of the sort. leading the way into a narrow hallway from which a flight of stairs climbed steeply upward." Fiona's mother raised her chin. Where is Matthew? 'Tis that anxious I am to meet him. come in. "If you're not having any place for us. Life is very difficult these days. within a year of each other. "Didn't you receive it?" "We must have already been at sea. did this mean they wouldn't have a home here? " 'Twas most sudden. What a tragedy!" "I sent you a letter when Matthew died. She reached for Fiona's hand and wiped her eyes on a corner of her cloak. "We walked the last part. "Well. yes." Her fat face puckered and her voice dropped to a doleful whisper. who realized too late that certain jests might prove dangerous in this time and place. "How²how very dreadful! I'm so terribly sorry." "Ohhhh. "But²but he's gone. "I can hardly believe you're here." Mercy said. Matthew died last month of a fever." Fiona quavered." Mercy said slowly. her eyes still wide." . "Why²why. "I'm a widow for the second time. My dear brotherin-law invited us after my husband. David." Ellen excused before she explained the reasons for their unusual arrival." Grace shot the travelers a baleful glance. Her father's older brother. It would have been like seeing a part of her beloved father.
" With a grim expression." Fiona said and hurried down the narrow staircase to join her aunt and cousin at a long oak trestle table in the kitchen. what a blow that was. they let us stay. I must honor his wishes in this matter. I wonder?" she muttered. Fiona's mother sank down on a corner of the bed. don't you know? Why. eyeing Grace across the rim. "Nay. the window washed. heavens. Evidently Grace and Mercy were good housekeepers. Then the girls confessed: a village slave named Tituba had bewitched them. and a bed near one uncurtained window. the town is cursed. the floor was scrubbed. Crop failures. whatever they lacked in graciousness. What is it all about?" "Oh." . fires. She seated herself next to Grace. Salem has had naught but trouble. but I do feel hungry. staring around the room. leaving the weary travelers alone. anyway. her shoulders drooping. "What do witches eat. Grace tossed in a mattress of chicken feathers. she clumped off down the stairs. Grace. without a word. then. just as I did not receive word of Matthew's death. strange illness taking our young children. floods« now we know the reason: Satan has invaded Salem. he planned to offer you the room under the eaves. They fell into awful fits and no doctor could help them. I remember that Matthew wished for you to come after David died and you were so hard pressed. "We can work out something." Mercy's plump hands fanned the air. Ah. and a patchwork quilt." Fiona said. "Some girls in town became possessed by the devil. "Alas. a row of wall pegs on which to hang their clothes. Though bare and simple. Grace picked up a candle and led the way upstairs to a narrow room. When her aunt placed a bowl of hot stewed meat and vegetables before her. there were no cobwebs. Fiona took a gulp of milk from her mug. light them up the stairs and fetch bedding from the cupboard while I warm some food. Grace sat across from her. Fiona dipped in hungrily with an iron spoon. no. two pillows. I would rather just stay here and sleep. Mercy did not receive my letter." "I won't be gone long." Grace leaned forward. The attic had a bare planked floor. black eyes narrowed. Now. in truth!" "Well. Then. alternating with bites of fresh-baked buttered bread. chin in hands. "Are you coming down to eat?" Fiona asked her mother as she hung up her cape. glancing nervously into the corner shadows before continuing. "On every hand I've heard strange talk of Salem witches."No. "For several years now. two wooden stools beside a small table." her aunt replied fearfully.
" Aunt Mercy shook her head. But will you please excuse me now? I must go to bed. "Soon the girls named other witches. in spite of all the problems which would now confront them. Well. Many people are afflicted with sores and boils«" Fiona glanced at Grace's mottled skin. "Niece this is very serious. so he would probably visit. She wondered uneasily how involved he was with Grace. the fear Samantha's maid had shown. The girl was certainly no beauty." As she left the room.Fiona could only stare. a bed that had a mattress. Fiona jumped out of bed. reveling in the feel of solid. her voice shaking." Aunt Mercy went on. Early days yet. blotched face and raucous voice. but she had a well-developed figure and seemed to enjoy clutching Giles around the neck. and sunshine coming in the tiny window. The devil is truly among us and 'tis nothing to make light of. Grace hissed after her. She hopes to find such work here in the village. "Thank you for the food. The curse is on every venture. "Take my advice. and for giving us a place to stay. Fiona awoke first and stretched. Work is scarce in town. She had heard quite enough of witches and misfortune for one day. So all the mutterings were true: the talk on shipboard. "I doubt she will be successful. "My mother's potions have cured sores and boils. nonswaying boards. time would tell. Aunt Mercy." Fiona rose and drew a weary breath. a great bird. Many have seen the Black Beast himself. Would she see Giles today? Or would he be busy starting up his practice? Then she remembered that Grace had asked him to bring them eggs. with her plump. Cousin. "More and more things came to light as they testified in court. a cat²" Aunt Mercy frowned. . an icy shiver running across her skin. the carter who wouldn't go near Salem in the dark of night. eager to behold her new surroundings. Tread carefully in Salem«" Chapter 4 Fiona and her mother both slept more soundly than they had in weeks. Sometimes he appears as a pig.
Perhaps Fiona could feed the chickens. are you always such a slug-a-bed?" She growled." Aunt Mercy sighed. Today." "That never happened before. "Nor did she ever stray so far into the woods as she did last night. We'll be glad to help in any way we can." "In that case.Her mother also seemed revived. It never ends. She thrust it ungraciously into Fiona's hands just as a knock sounded at the back door. Fiona thought he looked handsome and outstanding and always would. let me see. Grace. this morning our poor cow went dry. and the servant we used to have stopped coming so she could attend the trials. both took the narrow staircase to the kitchen. fetch some grain from the storeroom." In a few moments. Giles entered. no matter what he wore. "Why² why. "To add to our misfortunes. Her heart fluttered in her chest and she prayed no one noticed the rosy heat upon her cheeks. Grace returned with a basin of feed. baking. we had better not be taking any milk this morning. carrying a basket. The flames danced on shining pewter and copper placed in racks against the whitewashed walls. "There is so much to be done." She ladled oatmeal gruel from a steaming pot and set the bowls before Fiona and her mother. clear face. Drying herbs hung above the hearth and added a splash of golden color." Fiona's mother whispered." Grace muttered darkly. "Cousin. Fiona noticed that it was a warm. "I will look for work in the village this very day. knee boots. Today he wore brown corded breeches. She frowned as she took in Fiona's slender figure. "We've been up since dawn to do the chores. "Pour some molasses on the oatmeal instead. Fiona and I would not be a burden on you. . What do you want first. Mercy. They've not been laying good lately. In spite of the plain work clothes. or spinning?" Mercy's plump hands fluttered uncertainly. flat wooden paddle while Grace energetically pushed a birch-bark broom around the floor. fresh. When Mercy lifted the latch. and a homespun cotton shirt rolled up to the elbows. candlemaking. and when they had dressed. Ellen Prescott spoke up firmly. and we are forced to get most of our eggs from Mistress Harmon. Aunt Mercy was just removing several crusty loaves of bread from the oven on a long. Finally." They emptied their bowls and ate several slices of fresh bread and butter to a running accompaniment of Aunt Mercy's complaints and Grace's growling. cheerful room with a brick fireplace and oven occupying half of one wall. gardening. and the bright red curls that escaped her cap.
" Fiona protested. Grace snatched it up and snarled. Prescott. "You hit the bowl with your hand." Grace shouted. then at Mrs. dear." She then eased her features into a smile as she looked at Giles. his gaze lingering on Fiona until Grace cried. reaching for the basin. We have a lot of catching up to do." Giles shot Grace a warning frown so that she clamped her lips together while Fiona's mother whispered softly. stop. "I'll feed the hens myself. "I only know the bowl flew through the air as though it were²" He bit off his words too late. The next instant." "You left your baggage in the woods?" Mercy clicked her tongue. "What are you hinting at. Aunt Mercy gave a startled exclamation. doctor dear. Grace swung around and shrilled." Giles answered heartily. the basin flew from Fiona's hand and crashed upon the floor. How do you know they will still be there?" "They probably were protected by their kind last night." Grace glared at Fiona. if you would be after doing us a favor? Since I see your wagon in the yard." Grace sneered." She charged toward him. "Like calls to like." . slapping her hands to her plump cheeks. Prescott touched his arm. "I wonder. brushing awkwardly against Fiona's arm. I'll take the eggs. now this. her face purpling. "I would be glad to." "Shall I get more grain?" Fiona asked stiffly. Giles. We used to be so close." " 'Twas no such thing! Giles saw what happened. dear boy. they were too heavy for us to carry here last night. "What a foolish thing to do." Fiona clenched her hands. scattering grain far and wide. could you help Fiona bring our boxes from the woods? Alas. "Exactly! Bewitched. "You clumsy girl! Look what you've done! That grain costs good money!" "Why²why²I did nothing. "First the cow. before you do more harm. The harm was done. "Thank you. "Daughter. Grace? Come out with it. Giles's gray eyes twinkled." "Certainly.Giles greeted everyone. before you went off to London remember?" Giles hesitated and seemed relieved when Mrs. "Come into the barn with me.
mistress. stop that kind of talk right now. Fiona thought as she smiled at him. Fiona." Giles exploded. Giles's touch felt so strong and comforting. Dragged from their homes. so big and strong and kind. "You are off to a bad start. Those poor folk are terrified. "Do not look at me like that. you don't mean the witch trials?" "Yes. trades are all neglected." He smiled grimly. crops wilt. My father tells me the good people of Salem are at the trials day after day. Undeterred. "Do you notice how nothing is tended properly? Weeds flourish. Giles Harmon. She knew what he meant and colored." Giles growled with a little laugh. I would swear. with something about him that made her want to lean on him« and have him touch her. And many of them innocent. or I will forget the promise I made on shipboard. but many animals roamed at will: including sheep. "When I've finished my chores. She would never hold him to that promise not to kiss her and slid him a sidelong glance beneath her lashes. Giles gestured with his whip as they rode along. striding to the door. He would have made things easier for you here. Giles. "I want no part of that horror." Giles threw Fiona a concerned glance as they drove away." . The sky arched clear and blue above the woods and the clustering homes and farms. I do. Grace. Grace turned her back and said to Giles. chickens. "Everyone has something better to do these days." "No. accused of a felony which is punishable by death." "You better watch your words. geese. Grace called after him. and cows. I know of your uncle's death and I'm sorry. They are not the only witches in that jail. Mercy's jaw dropped as she stared from one face to the other." He reached across and pressed her hand." Giles barked.As Fiona choked. and Fiona drew a deep breath of cool. A feeling of safety and happiness enveloped her when she looked at Giles. It seemed wonderful to be outdoors with him. Sometimes they arrive before daylight to get a good seat in the meetinghouse. It smelled of the sea and of wind-tossed pines. "Hurry back." "Grace. all day long. we'll get your boxes. We can see how many witches were caught last night." Giles said firmly. I want you to come to the jail with me. No people seemed to be around. fresh air. "Come on." "For heaven's sake.
"Do your parents attend them. but did not answer. My father said Betty Parris. However. the minister's daughter. I would swear that they are innocent. I assure you. she knew that when one of that doomed and desperate group turned toward her. "Fiona. They were nearly through the woods when Giles drew back on the reins. liked to be entertained by Tituba with the black arts of fortune telling. I am not a witch who will report your words to Satan. They named Tituba and other witches in Salem. she would scream. Many of those who have been jailed are people I have known all my life. "No. she saw a black-robed procession mounting up a hill with dragging feet." In an attempt to shake off the strange terror of her vision. With a prickling sense of horror. "That was the beginning. "Aunt Mercy and Grace said that it all started when a group of girls claimed that a slave had bewitched them. "Do you remember where you put your things." Fiona gave a violent shudder. The day seemed to darken and a rush of wind blew toward her like an icy draft. Fiona managed a small laugh. "They went only once. and other things Tituba had learned in the West Indies. Neighbor cries out on neighbor just to keep suspicion from his own door. the girls began throwing fits. "Well. It is as though the town has lost all reason and gone mad." Giles nodded. "No. "Do you believe that all these accused witches are truly guilty?" Giles shook his head and his lips firmed. and that was enough. and her cousin. Soon after." Fiona dropped her eyes. they are hanged on Gallows Hill." "Do they burn witches at the stake as they do in England?" Fiona whispered hoarsely. it is mighty dangerous to say such things these days. giving her a worried glance. "Have I frightened you with all this talk?" "I²" She swallowed hard. too?" Fiona asked cautiously. and with an inward vision." He shot her a sidelong glance and grinned. young miss?" . Abigail. She seemed to hear a bell tolling in the distance. "No. They are very worried about conditions here." "It sounds incredible. well pleased." Fiona gasped. are you well?" Giles exclaimed. but you are the most bewitching woman I have ever known.
he drew her closer to his body. "My grandfather influenced me. What would he do next? Giles's face was fiery. Fiona«" "Why is it so wrong to kiss me?" Fiona asked in a low voice. I find it's work I love. dust swirling behind them." Fiona murmured. She had never been so drawn to a young man. The sun is pretty high. but he silently swung her up onto the seat. She felt excited and bewildered. Here. but instead of helping her onto the seat. She loved the fresh male scent of his sun-warmed skin. Giles was not in any hurry to return."Certainly. her mind was whirling." Without much difficulty. He was a doctor in Boston and I studied with him every chance I got. It was not until they had passed through the woods that Giles stopped the horse and turned to her. "I²I like your kisses. His voice sounded gruff. his eyes hidden by his hat. Giles. the full curve of his lower lip that smiled much more often now than it had aboard the Seawynd." . Fiona found the tree with its ring of seedlings and Giles loaded the boxes into the wagon. She couldn't help a pang of regret when Giles squinted at the sky. unconsciously provocative. he took her lips in a blazing kiss that penetrated past her quivering response and didn't end until they both ran out of breath. "I lost my head. "How did you happen to study medicine instead of farming like your father?" Fiona asked him." Fiona looked at him admiringly. His responsibility there must have weighed heavily on him. his eyes suddenly agleam as he stared down at her. so they leaned against the wagon. laughing and talking with the ease which had developed between them during their long weeks at sea." "You do not have to apologize. I should not have kissed you after I promised not to. I will help you up. It was near the road to Boston. When she drew back. Aware of what he wanted. "When I am close to you." Giles muttered. birds twittering in alarm. the intelligent gray eyes. lifting her face to his. In the next instant. but a corner of his mouth lifted in a little smile. When he died. "We had better return. Fiona swayed against him. Soon they were rattling along the road. "I guess I must apologize again. he left me all his books and a legacy so I could spend a few years in London and become an accredited doctor. remembering with joy the fire and urgency of his lips on hers." He put his hands on each side of her waist.
I was just about to walk into the village and look for work. your merry eyes. I am not a child." She put her hand timidly on his arm. She heard the rasping intake of his breath. I saw how Grace looked at you. and though she looked at him expectantly when he said her name. and the strange willingness of everyone to believe them when they pointed out a witch. "I trust you. "That is what Giles told me just now.' as it is called. Do you want to come along?" "Yes." Fiona repeated the story of the possessed girls. You must watch your words around her."You are still a maiden. Both you and your mother must be very. Giles Harmon. "Fiona. darlin'. Fiona found her mother putting on her shawl and bonnet." "You must believe it. "I hope I can be worthy of that trust." Fiona gave a cry. a peculiar glance." Fiona added simply. My parents told me all about the arrests." Fiona tossed her head. as they started down the road. After that. Fiona. "Do you not know how appealing you are? Your smile. no matter what she says. "Ah. his words were anything but loverlike. I only wish«" Fiona could hardly speak. Inside the house. I want to give you a word of warning about your new life in this town. an angry word. Do you understand?" Fiona nodded. a warrant has been issued for arrest. the lies. "Is that really all it takes? Impossible." he growled. but she really did not understand at all. People are beside themselves with terror. baited you. the way you kissed me back« Lucky the man who gets you. feared you. he was silent for a long while. I am very curious to see this 'cursed town. while you are a perfect stranger. Giles? What do you wish?" He only shook his head. She and her mother are well known here. You do not realize where kisses lead. Fiona. And remember this: it takes only the slightest thing²a chance remark. "Of course. why do they call it that?" her mother exclaimed. I do. the fear and suspicion. their power in the courtroom. . "Yes." "Faith. very careful. or a strange dream mentioned²and immediately someone asks: 'Is this person acting like a witch?' The next thing you know.
The man moved away. "Say." But leaving Giles? How could she bear that! When they reached the main part of town. I am certain we can earn our own way in this prosperous New World. women." Fiona said. controlled expression. all trying to get a place inside. 'tis here the people are. then almost halted. heads craning toward the sound. and children. "Fiona. Fiona stepped back into the crowd. they found a large crowd. with your knowledge of herbs. he had a high-bridged nose and piercing eyes. you should be welcome in the village. I may have a chance. Two rows of shops clustered around a grassy common. Middle-aged. 'tis true. men. I thought people on shipboard were exaggerating. revolted by the eager. shoving. tall. you are going the wrong way. Only his mouth denied the haughty. her mother hailed her from down the street." As she hurried across the road. hot-eyed faces. What a relentless fever seemed to grip these townspeople as their bodies jammed the door. He smiled as he nodded to Fiona. Mother. and thin. And if we have to try another village. One turned his head and stared straight at Fiona. I will try that apothecary shop on the corner. Fiona waited until all the black-robed men had entered the meetinghouse. No doubt of it. that's what we do. but everyone seemed to be milling close to a large white building that faced the square." "I will be out here. "Well. We have arrived in the middle of a terrible witch hunt. mistress. That explains so many things. why. blocking her escape. a roll of drums rattled in the distance and the people all looked around. "Giles was right. billowing black robes and high-crowned hats." Mrs. First. "I want to see what is going on.Ellen Prescott looked pale when Fiona finished. Flushing. feeling as though she beheld something evil. without looking back. what is going on?" ." Fiona pushed past him and fought her way clear of the mob. and tried to keep from being swept inside. And you say that hardly anybody works here now?" Fiona nodded. The lips were thick and red." a young man laughed. this was the location of the witch trials. Come on and see the devil's creatures try their tricks before the hangman does his job. A band of militia came striding into view and behind them marched several stern-faced men wearing long. His footsteps slowed. And I will work for Aunt Mercy as hard as any bound servant. pushing. shouting. At that moment. Prescott clicked her tongue. "Giles says they are completely absorbed by the trials and their own terrible fears. My knowledge of herbs and simpling should have some value. But. since no one else is working. lass. Fiona turned. "So then. Now the crowd pressed forward. "The fun is in the meetinghouse.
" Fiona bit her lip. I feel uneasy. "But we're not Puritans. But the next words sent them plummeting. I was greeted with a most suspicious eye. I know that most Irish folk are Papists. 'Tis a most unwelcome burden. "I am worried. How can we stay here if we cannot find work?" "Sure. Mercy told me that Matthew made good wages as a fisherman." her mother admitted. Chapter 5 The gray dawn had barely lit the sky when Fiona and her mother made their way to the breakfast table. Aunt. "We have to keep up our strength today. I'll be bound. The service lasts three hours this morning. I cannot help wondering if Satan is not really here. "They are having the witch trials in that building." After that. " 'Tis very little business goes forward in Salem." Aunt Mercy explained." Fiona's spirits lifted at this change from the usual morning porridge." "I know." She sighed. Aunt Mercy seems to have such a struggle to make ends meet now that Uncle Matthew is dead. witches also deal in herbs and potions. "Eat hearty." "Th-three hours?" Fiona sent her mother a stricken glance. they walked home in a troubled silence. "Everybody will attend." She gave a shudder. too. Are²are you?" . Come. we may be.Fiona hurried toward her and clasped her mother's arm." Mercy's eyes darted agitatedly across the table. Alas. and I'm wondering that myself." Grace plunked down mugs of apple cider and plates of thin pancakes swimming in butter. "Ellen. "And I fear there will be no work for me here. adding a thick brown syrup to her plateful of cakes. "It's Sunday. Mother. In addition the shop owners cut me short so they could attend the trials. let us go home. "This town of Salem frightens me." "Oh. but all that ended with his death.
Three hours! No wonder they were eating heartily. some walked. The men sat on one side of the room. But since we have never been inside a Puritan church." Fiona gave a shudder. She began to shovel in a second helping. "Where the witch trials are held!" "Yes." The Puritans' hall was bare and plain with hard benches. but all appeared to be dressed in Sunday best. "Here is our place of worship. let us go inside. "Faith. He became like a wild man when the doctors said his niece and daughter were possessed. "I'm glad you're coming with us. Come now.Fiona's mother shook her head. "Some folks have been wondering about your religion. He's the uncle and also the father of two of the first afflicted girls. dousing it with the brown maple syrup. Some rode. Now. Ellen." "I wonder about the horror to have someone in your family possessed by Satan. "The Reverend Parris will be speaking. dressed in dark linen trimmed with white cuffs and collar. the younger boys jammed together on the steps leading to the gallery. every Sabbath. A . especially with her reddened face beneath the shadow of a deep bonnet. This should keep their tongues from wagging. Aunt Mercy stopped and said. When they reached the common. "He's new in Salem and trying very hard to be accepted. 'tis the only place that's large enough to accommodate the crowds. trotted along on her little feet like a sleek pouter pigeon. Niece. A high wooden pulpit. stood in front of the hall. Ireland contains Protestants as well." Fiona smothered a groan. Fiona and her mother followed in their long black cloaks as they had been warned that the building would be cold. looked better than Fiona had ever seen her. Many people come from nearby towns since Salem's fame has spread. they all headed for the meetinghouse. it must be terrifying. As the church bell rang." "Why. this is the meetinghouse!" Fiona exclaimed. people thronged the road on their way to worship. in dark gray." her mother answered gravely. Aunt Mercy. Grace." A little later. painted white. women on the other. he commands us all to join him in routing the evil spirits that infest our town. The women wore sober homespun garments in a gray or rust or brown. At the rear." Grace said importantly over her shoulder. I believe we will accompany you this morning. "That we aren't." Aunt Mercy said.
man bearing a long rod with a knob at one end seemed to be on constant watch for signs of restlessness among them or any disturbance needing discipline. As the bell ceased tolling, one of the deacons called for a psalm and the whole congregation rose to repeat the long verses after him. When they sat down, an expectant hush descended as a tall, thin-faced man mounted the pulpit steps. Reverend Parris's fierce eyes raked the room for a full minute. When he spoke, his voice had the impact of a thunderbolt. "There are witches in Salem! Right here among us. Even in this very house!" His bony finger stabbed the air. "What sayeth the scriptures: 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' And again: 'A man also or a woman that hath a familiar spirit or that is a wizard shall surely be put to death'." "Witches are an abomination unto the Lord! And they are here, in Salem!" The congregation drew in its suspended breath and fear-filled eyes darted around the room. Some people huddled closer to each other. Some faces held a fierce, determined anger. "Friends," the minister continued, lowering his voice and leaning across the pulpit, "the scripture says: 'Take heed lest any man deceive you« a man's foes may be that of his own household.' " His voice rose to a shriek. "Watch for the signs. Find the witches before they destroy you. I say unto you these words: seek, find, destroy!" Fiona's icy, shivering hand crept into her mother's. The people stared at the minister as if spellbound, silently repeating the minister's words. Fiona's eyes darted feverishly around until on the other side of the room she noticed Giles. He sat next to a dark-haired man, probably his father. As though he felt her eyes on him, Giles turned his head and looked straight at her with a reassuring message in his clear, level gaze. Fiona drew a deep breath, and then made a conscious effort to ignore the fear generated by the ranting man in the pulpit. At long last, the minister grew hoarse, the congregation rose for a final prayer, and they all filed outside. "Well, the first service is over," Grace explained. "After our midday meal, we all come back again."
Fiona ignored Grace and turned away, wondering if Giles would come and speak with them. Instead, a man dressed all in black appeared in front of her, a man with piercing eyes and moist red, lips. He bowed low, sweeping off a wide-brimmed, high-crowned hat. "We have not met, Mistress Prescott, but I glimpsed you in the village and was so struck by your uncommon beauty that I learned your name and now beg leave to introduce myself. Judge Nicholas Blaize, at your service." His eyes narrowed and went slowly from the red curls peeping from underneath her bonnet to the young round form revealed in the opening of her cloak. It was a most uncomfortable inspection, but Fiona did not know what to do except endure it as she repeated his name in chilly accents, sketched a curtsey, and drew her cloak together. He spoke briefly to the others, including her mother, then turned back to Fiona. His audacity was phenomenal, Fiona thought indignantly, as he moved too close for courtesy and breathed into her face. "I shall expect you and your mother to dine with me in the near future. My servant will apprise you of the time." "I think we may be occupied," Fiona told him, haughtily. He gave a grating laugh. "We shall see." His penetrating gaze once more swept over her. "Yes, indeed, I can hardly wait to entertain you in my home. You'll see beautiful things there, Mistress. Treasures from around the world." He bowed with exaggerated gallantry to them all, then glided off to his waiting carriage. A dwarf in purple velvet opened the door for him and shot a glance of malicious curiosity at Fiona before they drove away. "He wants us to come to dinner, my mother and me," Fiona told her gaping aunt. "I have no intention of going." "Whyever not?" Ellen Prescott asked, staring after the departing coach. "It might be interesting. He seems well bred enough." Grace laughed harshly. "Yes, Cousin, I think that you should go. At least you'll get a wonderful supper, I imagine. He's new in town, but I've heard he is the richest man for miles around and very influential at the witch trials." "Has he ever invited your family to his home?" Fiona asked her. "No," Grace grunted sullenly. That chalks up another mark against me, Fiona thought.
Suddenly, Grace's expression changed and she gave a squeal of delight. "Hello, Giles. Wasn't that a splendid sermon? So inspiring." She then greeted the rest of his family with equal fawning. The father, a dark-haired, rough-hewn man, held the arm of a sweet-faced woman in a gray bonnet. Mercy immediately twittered through the introductions, including Giles's younger brother, Charles, who had a round, cheerful face, curly brown hair, and an appreciative, audacious eye for Fiona. "We would be greatly honored," Mrs. Harmon told them, "if you would return to our house for a midday meal with us before the afternoon service." Grace and Mercy accepted promptly, but Fiona's mother said, " 'Tis sad I am to decline your most kind offer, Mrs. Harmon. Alas, my health has not been too robust since that long sea voyage, but perhaps my daughter²?" "Mother, if you're not well²" "Nay, 'tis just a rest I am needing in my room, but you feel free to go." Fiona darted a quick glance at Giles, who smiled encouragingly. "I'll be glad to come, thank you," she said, thinking it would be interesting to see Giles's home and get acquainted with his family. It was too good an opportunity to be missed, even if it did mean another session with the Reverend Parris. Giles beamed. "Come along then." He took his place between Fiona and Grace, offering an arm to each as they all walked along the country road. "Fiona, how did you like the sermon?" Giles asked. "It²it was most unusual." Grace snorted. "My cousin isn't a Puritan. She doesn't understand these things like we do, Giles. No use in asking her opinion." "Grace, anyone can understand the Reverend Parris." Giles frowned with annoyance. "He is on a witch hunt." "And why shouldn't he be, with two members of his household afflicted?" Grace gave a jerk to Giles's arm. "Listen, I want to tell you about the trials yesterday. Did you know the minister himself was there to testify?"
Grace rattled on and on until they reached the Harmon house. The guests were led into a big, clean kitchen similar to Aunt Mercy's with its fireplace and whitewashed walls. A plain but hearty meal of precooked food was set before them at the long trestle table to which benches and chairs were drawn up. Giles's brother, Charles, slid quickly onto the place beside Fiona with a cheeky, disarming grin. "You must taste everything," he said, noting Fiona's hesitation. He took her plate and piled it high, listing each item. "This is sauce made from cranberries, and this is turkey, a wild fowl, but delicious. The orange is pumpkin." "An Indian vegetable," Mrs. Harmon put in. "We stew it with water, vinegar, and spices." Fiona chewed and nodded. "I like it. And what is this crunchy yellow bread?" Grace spoke before filling her mouth. "Cornbread, ninny. I'll have another piece, Charlie." Charles leaned across the table, his eyes dancing. "I love to see a person eating heartily. What else can I hand you, Grade?" Her mouth too full to speak, she nodded and pointed. "How about you, my little Irish beauty?" Charles said in Fiona's ear, sliding an arm behind her back. "What would you like? How about a walk out in the yard?" Giles broke in firmly. "No, Charles, I want to show her around the house. Have you eaten enough, Fiona?" "Wait for me," Grace said, trying to swallow her mouthful. Charles giggled and laid a turkey leg on her plate. Giles winked at him. "No hurry, Grace. We will return shortly." Taking her arm, Giles led Fiona into a cold, dim room at the end of the hall. "This is the company room, and there's something in here I want to show you. In dangerous times like these, it might be good for you to know about this secret." He walked over to the fireplace and pressed a hidden spring beneath the mantel. At once, a crack appeared along the wall. It widened and silently and slowly a narrow door swung outward. "Heavens, what is that?" Fiona exclaimed. "A secret stairway to an attic room. My ancestors built it for the Indian attacks. No one knows about it but the family. Not even Grace."
she didn't pull away." she stuttered. and somewhat frightened. "Perhaps it was too soon. feeling the heat sweep in her cheeks and her heartbeat pound." he muttered hoarsely. "Even if I persist in kissing you?" For answer. "No one's ever done that²that before. all we can do is keep to ourselves and watch all our words and actions. Giles's fingertips stroked gently down her fevered cheek. Finally. It is time to join the others. Fiona?" She stared at him. my sweet. kissing her passionately on cheeks. I never expected anything like this« that ranting preacher. but it might come in handy during a witch hunt. Fiona thrust her head into the dark opening. Fiona barely managed to speak. "Why are you showing it to me? Do you think that I am in danger?" "I certainly hope not. Through it all. in and out between her parted lips. and throat. Smooth your dress." she whispered. Giles. What did it mean? "I²I do not know." She was so thrilled to be held in his arms. Would he think she was too bold? In the next instant. you taste like a flower filled with honey. and then Grace²" Giles pulled her swiftly into his arms and with a rush of joy. moving over and over. Dimly she made out a very narrow staircase curving upward out of sight. excited beyond belief. "But. then gasped and trembled while he licked her greedily. Someday it will end when people grow sickened and realize they must return to their trades and farms or starve. "It's rather scary. even with the strange feelings he aroused. shaken. I pray it will not be needed. "Fiona. and suddenly she felt his warm tongue probing at her mouth. Giles made a muffled sound and tightened his arms around her." ." Fiona moved closer to him and drew a long. She gave a startled jerk. bewildered." She could hardly speak from breathlessness. sometimes I get so frightened now. the congregation so eager to hunt and destroy people. deep breath. "We better stop this. Fiona gave a whimper of delight and pressed innocently into his body." He gave a throaty chuckle. brow. "You²you are such a comfort. I am so glad I know you.Wonderingly. "Giles. Giles raised his head. A shudder swept him. Fiona raised herself up higher and pressed her lips to his. her head dropped against his shoulder as he pressed her close. Did²did you like what I did just now.
" The winsome face beneath a dark bonnet turned toward Fiona with a frank and friendly curiosity. How are you faring. It is hard to make him stay abed. darting glance. Shall we say. I know Oliver would like to see you. Oliver has been ill. Grace appeared at her side and hissed into her ear. Abigail had a bold." Giles frowned and placed his hand upon the slender shoulder as Sally gazed up at him. All she could think about was the strangeness of his kiss. She and her mother were on the ocean voyage with me. Abigail Williams. Best not let her become aware of you. "No. Just the memory made her blush and tremble. Fiona. next Saturday?" "Thank you. To Fiona. I am pleased to meet you. "Sally! I hear you've married in my absence." She gave a deep. perhaps you will bring your new neighbor to dine one night next week. "See the girl with Reverend Parris? That's his niece." the young woman said. . before they reached the meetinghouse. dear?" "Just fine. a young woman called to Giles and he stopped. By the look of her. "Oh. You are most welcome to our shores. Although young. Her eyes swiveled constantly from side to side and people on the road shrank back until she vanished in the meetinghouse. his face alight with pleasure. but he's much better and will probably be back at his forge tomorrow. Sally. Giles acted as though nothing untoward had passed between them. Giles entered the meetinghouse. Giles. malicious chuckle which Fiona managed to ignore." "I'm Sally Woods. Mistress Fiona Prescott. I'm so glad you're back. You are not to worry. there seemed to be a strange undercurrent beneath their words as Sally answered softly.In a daze. their easy friendliness restored. one of the afflicted who seeks out witches. Giles. this is a newcomer in our midst. and soon Fiona was able to reply in kind. but before Fiona could follow." She moved away with a smile for them both. However. "Yes. so unexpected. who smiled and nodded her agreement. Fiona followed him. so intimate. On the way back to the church a little later." He raised an eyebrow at Fiona. "Where is Oliver? Didn't he attend the service?" Giles asked Sally. Fiona thought Abigail was enjoying her new power and might be on the prowl for further victims. "Giles. She's suspicious of any strangers. "Is he good to you?" he asked her gruffly.
She pushed against his shoulder." With an effort. A wave of ecstatic pleasure swept Fiona. burly blacksmith. but she wondered why Grace was telling her these things. She protested when his hand touched her breast. "I saw you talking to Sally Woods. tearing her mouth from Giles. You know how much I want you. have you forgotten me? Oh. "It's Sally?" Fiona gasped. "Giles. wet cavern of his mouth. she might have had several motives for her remarks about Sally. "She's crying!" He sat up slowly. She had been dreaming. won't you come to me?" The thin wailing voice rent the air. mumbling thickly. but already the memory swam in misty waves. Fiona. Maybe she didn't want Fiona to make friends with the sweetfaced girl. she pulled him closer. Giles had kissed her« she still ." Fiona's eyes flew open. And perhaps Grace wanted to upset Fiona with a reference to Giles's former love« The only certainty was that Grace liked to be unpleasant. and unable to stop herself. Giles. Yes. "I am in love with you. but Grace was not through with her yet. she could hear a cat mewing somewhere.Fiona started walking slowly. Of course. Did you know that she and Giles were on the brink of a betrothal before he went away? It must have been a blow to him when he came back and found she'd married that big. "Giles. Fiona kept a cool look on her face and didn't answer. Chapter 6 Fiona and Giles were lying in a meadow and he was kissing her. please²you should not²" she choked. Some folks whispered 'twas because she had to." He moved his hands up to each side of her face and took her trembling lips into the warm. "It sounds more like a cat to me.
"Something's at the door²trying to get in. "Oh. it was just a dream. heavens. "Oh. saying she and Grace were going to attend an early session of the witch trials and would not return until mid-morning. But then came something else« Sally« Sally watching them and crying. where she peeled an egg and ate a slice of bread while keeping a wary eye on the operation. Fiona sat up." With a little hiss." For some reason. Her mother must have risen earlier. 'tis not like you to be a-twitter. coated with ointment. "Why. with a half-chewed ear and dirty. then retreated to the table. especially household pets. but this must be the meanest-looking. Fiona. Fiona knew she also must help with the housework and dressed quickly. she heard the odd wailing again and her eyes flew to the corner where her mother sat by the whirring spinning wheel." She opened the door and looked out. let us see who it is. "Mother. She handed the box filled with medication to her mother. Hand me my box and that little knife. Oh. The animal sat silently." Fiona raised her voice. There are fresh boiled eggs this morning. oblivious to the sound outside the door. Puss. then down. let us try to keep our reason. Prescott bent closer to examine it." "Perhaps we should not²" "Now. a gaunt black cat slid past her and limped across the room. only occasionally blinking its yellow eyes as though in pain while its paw was probed. "Even though everyone in town is practically hysterical. Now. tying a linen cap beneath her chin and donning a long white apron. Sit down and have your breakfast. 'tis just a pussycat. Mercy had given them a list of chores to do. surveying the kitchen with a narrowed. Mrs. rubbing sleep out of her eyes. feeling a strange prickling sensation run along her spine." She gave a little chuckle. I'll fix you up and soon you'll be as good as new. In the kitchen. the lank dark cat filled Fiona with revulsion. .felt the heat and yearning between them with a glow of guilty pleasure. then. poor wee thing. as she wasn't in the room. I'll be seeing to the door. then. Fiona. Last night." Her mother rose and flashed her an amused glance. Usually she was quite fond of animals. and bandaged with a strip of cloth. ugliest cat she had ever seen. matted fur. it has a splinter in its paw. slitted gaze.
Grace sailed her sunbonnet across the room to the kitchen table. card playing. when they were first possessed. "She scoffs at those afflicted children. "look at that strange black cat! How did he get in? Never saw him around before. "I wonder where it came from. both looking excited." Fiona muttered." "What about?" Fiona asked. and all. have you?" "Probably in a town like this. wrapped up in a witch hunt." "Oh." . The parents found them out and the girls confessed but said black magic made them do it. They said that Rebecca Nurse was tormenting them. "Lordy. "Do you know. their meetings with Tituba²the dancing."How thin and scraggly that cat is." Mercy proclaimed. not even the ones they brought from far-off towns." Grace suddenly shrilled. I don't think²" Fiona began." Grace licked her lips with relish. "Why. only to be interrupted by the appearance of Grace and Aunt Mercy. I can tell you. That idea does not set well. but now folks are whispering. and didn't that cause everyone to chatter!" Aunt Mercy hung her cape on a peg and pursed her tiny mouth. Soon everyone started noticing odd things and realized that Satan had come to Salem. biting. "Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Hubbard threw the most awful fits. jabbing pins²invisibly. The twelve-year-old. those girls couldn't eat or speak? They crawled under the furniture and barked like dogs. "Rebecca may be one of the wealthiest people in Salem and have a lot of friends. even tried to throw herself into the fireplace until her parents grabbed her. and²" "Ma. seeing all the problems people are afflicted with these days. "Rebecca claims they just want attention. "So at last one had to admit the works of the devil. of course. I've never seen it around here before." "My heavens." Aunt Mercy put in. you should have been in the courtroom this morning. pinching. But Rebecca Nurse said the girls were just trying to save themselves from punishment by claiming bewitchment." "None of the doctors could do a thing. Now all the witches among us are finally being unearthed." she chortled. So many rodents haunt the barn with no cat on the premises." "Punishment for what?" Ellen asked. who came bursting in the back door. I'm wondering if we could keep him. many animals are neglected. Ann Putnam.
but now she's too busy. apron." Hearing her name. but she was halted in her tracks by a loud knocking at the door and the sound of chattering voices. "Witches have a familiar to do their bidding. Then Aunt Mercy lifted up the latch and in trooped a group of babbling children. and linen cap tied beneath her rosy chin. A weekly threepence for each pupil helps out. so I said I would take it. my dear?" . Grace banged a wooden spoon against a pot lid." Aunt Mercy explained. "Like that one!" "Are you hinting again that my mother is a witch?" Fiona advanced with clenched hands. Mrs." "Heavens." she stated importantly. has your granny seen Dr. Rebecca Nurse's grandchild. ignoring the black cat. Suddenly. who scooted out the door." With a click of her tongue. trying in vain to create order among the jabbering children who were poking and shoving each other for a preferred place to sit. "I have the school three times a week. but that reminds me of our rough days at sea. This distraction effectively halted Fiona's angry words to Grace and she could only stare at the procession of little boys and girls noisily trying to arrange themselves along the table benches. you know. "Time for school. Giles."Why. "Y'see." Ellen protested. the little one piped up. thrusting out the wooden hornbook dangling from a cord around her waist. Silence fell instantly upon the entire group. "Shut your clappers. "What is she able to learn?" "That is Charity. She is three years old and very bright. "My neighbor had it formerly. "Now." she yelled at the top of her lungs. 'tis just a stray I doctored. Prescott moved to Charity's side. She throws up all her food." She pointed a shaking finger." Aunt Mercy raised her voice above the din. "It's for those too young to attend the regular grammar school. For a strained moment. "I have a dame school." Fiona marveled. Their ages seemed to range from a little one with fingers in her mouth to a miniature goodwife looking about six years old in long dress. then. "Grandmama's very sick. he had a thorn stuck in his paw²" Grace leaped backward with a raucous cry." "One child is so small." She bustled frantically around the table. no one moved or spoke.
" "Grandmama cries a lot. who seemed to be one of the few villagers questioning the accusations of the bewitched girls. "Charity." "Faith. imagine Mercy running a dame school! Never would I have expected that. Outdoors. you can be sure Grace will. 'tis many cures for sick people. now. mother." "I know. Do you notice any school here for older boys and girls?" . The barber used to perform surgery when required. if she was not too ill." "And Giles isn't here today." Charity's mouth turned down. A-B-C. I have. Perhaps she'd have a chance to talk with the old lady." Fiona smiled down at the baby cheeks bulging out of the stiff white cap. carrying a basket of herbs and powders. Fiona laughed.When the child shook her head. why don't you come and show me where your Granny lives? I'm sure Giles would not mind. I can. "There has been no regular doctor in Salem for several years. would you? She seems so scatterbrained." Charity skipped ahead chanting happily. Grace added a periodic whack with her spoon for emphasis." Ellen said. Although I heard he's been exonerated. "Why can't anybody help her?" "Whisht. Well. "We saw him on our way to the trials and he told us he was going to Boston for supplies." The child rose with alacrity and Fiona said." It should be interesting to meet this Rebecca Nurse. stubby fingers pointing to each letter printed beneath the sheet of transparent horn tacked to their wooden paddles. Mercy said. A-B-C. Charity trotted along between Fiona and her mother and began to sing: "He that learns his A-B-C Never will a blockhead be. but he's been accused of witchcraft. "She seems to think that is the whole of it. the reading class began reciting the alphabet in unison. As she and her mother left. A-B-C. "Can you recite your alphabet?" "Yes. "I will join you. if she cannot keep the young ones in line." Grace said.
"Ah. On a polished table." Her mother threw her a teasing glance. "Giles Harmon is out of town." With a blushing smile. Prescott. Giles. however. mixed with curiosity." Charity called to them. but we are sorely pressed for help of any kind. she led the way upstairs. She has offered to prepare a remedy." "How very kind. Charity and I moved in after my husband died. my darling. I hoped 'twas the new doctor I have heard about. too sweet. who knows the medicine of simples. the things Giles told me. yes. A young woman hurried forward and introduced herself as the daughter-in-law. sweet. attracted her. "You are new to our village. "I truly appreciate your kindness. Her face was drawn with worry which eased a little when Fiona's mother explained their mission. they must have closed it down. and over a long chest of cherrywood. how he excited her and puzzled her and with it all. They entered a beautifully furnished room with a large corner bed draped in rust-colored linen to match the curtains at the casement windows. "Never mind." Fiona blushed and gave a little laugh. She pushed open the door and called shrilly for her mother."Mercy said they have hired a schoolmaster. Then she dropped back on the pillows with a sigh. wishing she could pour out everything she felt about Giles. The lad seems to be one of the few level-headed people in this town." She managed to give them a smile. rich colors. fine-looking house. "I hear that young man's words quoted quite a lot by you." "These trials are causing so much trouble. Heavens. "but this is Mrs. an expensive mirror hung. are you not?" . Struggling to sit up. Fiona nodded. Fiona noticed that its silvered surface reflected them all as they advanced cautiously toward the patient. a frail. People are either locked in their houses in terror or haunting the trials so they can gloat. But with the witch trials going on. old face under a frilled cap peered out at the newcomers." her daughter-in-law said. a China bowl glowed with deep. you could do worse than listen to young Dr. Won't you both come up and meet Rebecca Nurse? She has few visitors these days." Moving ahead. "Here's where Grandmama lives. as she bounded up the steps of a large." the old lady murmured gratefully. But her feelings were too new and too bewildering for sharing and.
but now«" Her pale. That face will break a few hearts before too long. too.Ellen Prescott briefly explained the circumstances of their arrival." "But you are ill. "Modest. Are you a pious miss as well?" "Oh. calling to their God. "It cannot be that so many are witches." The old voice shook. "Rebecca!" screamed a voice. Mistress Nurse. beating futilely upon the ground. a black cross outlined against the sky." As Fiona stared at the anguished face upon the pillows. a crowd huddled. twelve people wearing hoods and long brown robes. "So you've come all the way from Ireland and have the lilt in your voice and the coloring to prove it. "Now the deacons of the church chide me constantly for not attending Divine Service. . but we are not Puritans. feeling. yes. Sometimes I wonder if it's not simply an excuse so they can mutter hints about me. Why. the ends carried by masked men. Already the old lady's eyes looked brighter. "I²I have made enemies by speaking out against the witch trials. I warrant. Again she saw a hill. however. I like that. that she knew the answer. seamed face puckered. after which she asked to be shown where she could make her preparations. or envy. The daughter-in-law responded quickly and led her from the room. or want to be revenged on for some trifling insult. then examined Rebecca Nurse's eyes and tongue and asked her several questions. "They mutter 'witch'." "Of course. The town is filled with evil the likes of which I've never known. She gave Fiona an interested glance and pulled herself up higher on the pillows. Seventy-two years I have served my Maker faithfully. "The townspeople cry out on anyone they dislike." " 'Tis all one God. At the base. an icy wind seemed to come into the room from somewhere and she heard an ominous bell begin to toll while far-off voices wailed and sobbed." "What do you mean?" Fiona asked. Mistress Nurse spoke strongly and her faded eyes flashed." Fiona protested." For a moment. I said that all young girls go through a silly season and that the court places too much faith in their testimony. and a great comfort He has been to me all my life. hopeful of a cure." Fiona felt the warmth steal into her cheeks and lowered her eyes with a little smile. every person now accused of witchcraft must face a group of children for a verdict before the judges speak. child. Then." "Incredible!" Fiona sucked in her breath. "Do they not realize that?" "It doesn't matter to them. up the hill they came. Ropes bound them together.
and amid cries. All this talk of witchcraft was giving her weird fancies. Fiona clenched her hands to stop their trembling. "I knew I saw intelligence and good sense as well as beauty in your face." Ellen Prescott now entered the room carrying a bowl of herbal broth which Rebecca Nurse drank eagerly. will you? Sometimes I speak out unwisely²" "No." Ellen hurried to put plates on the table. "That was greatly soothing." The old lady suddenly reared up and put out her hand. Nurse leaned back. Mrs. What did it mean? Frightened and bewildered. pressing the thin fingers worrying the counterpane. "But that poor old soul needed some help. Fiona pushed the horrible experience from her mind. are you here at last to help us with the chores? Or are you interested only in visiting the neighbors?" " 'Tis sorry I am we had to leave you. and my mother feels the same way. The vision seemed to foretell some dire and imminent event. I won't. "Do not fret. flinging out trembling arms. They must keep their heads²in more ways than one. We are appalled by the happenings in Salem. please save me!" A group rushed toward her. threatening atmosphere that engulfed the town. Grace. Lord. When they entered Mercy's kitchen. Mrs. no. She soon relaxed against the pillows. shrieking." Grace yelled." Fiona answered swiftly. Prescott. pounding on the guards." With a relieved sigh.One doomed figure dropped to her knees. . dearest. My deepest thanks to you both for visiting me. Fiona and her mother took their leave." Fiona snapped. "Mistress Fiona. old soul' is a witch!" "That is nonsense. I think that I can sleep now. "You won't repeat my words today. I am in complete accord with all that you have said. lass. the convicted people were forced up the hill." Promising to come again. "Well. arms akimbo. and an old voice shrilled with all its failing strength. Whips snaked out. and resolutely. Fiona nearly cried out loud. turned to glare at Fiona. "that 'poor. something so terrifying it could not be borne with sanity." "Aunt Ellen. not wishing Mrs. "I am innocent! Oh. It was a repetition of her vision on the road with Giles. Miss Fancy. Gradually the feeling faded. Nurse to observe her apprehension. Her mother had warned that they must not give in to the nervous. of course.
"Well. I have some very fine ointments. Chapter 7 Fiona did not see Giles until dusky shadows stretched across the yard. That Grace was enough to make a person wish they really had the powers of a witch. Grace and I were just looking at them. She was washing supper dishes at the big stone sink and had nearly finished when. Ellen. ninny." She gazed thoughtfully at Grace's blotched and reddened face. "could they help me?" "Grace. don't waste it. Everyone knows that. "I wouldn't trust them if I was dying. put it on the vegetables." Fiona gritted her teeth. through the casement window." Aunt Mercy snapped." Grace threw her mother a rebellious glance. . "No foreign drugs are going to be used on me or mine." Grace burst out." "Well. Often they have helped ailments of the skin." "My husband David brought me some rare roots from China. With a quick glance toward Grace. she spied Giles coming along the path. "Especially if people knew about these strange herbal roots you brought with you. "I'll just throw this dirty water in the yard. or someone will cast a suspicious eye on you." Grace snapped. "You both had best stop consorting with the likes of Rebecca Nurse. Just enough to change Grace into a mouse when the black cat was around." "I fear that's true. most I've never heard of²such as gingseng. "Ointments from strange herbs are what all witches use." "Chinee roots?" Aunt Mercy pursed her lips. 'Tis much more advanced in medicine they are. "Aunt Ellen. Fiona picked up her basin. who was kneading bread at the corner sideboard. but then she could not pass up the chance to sneer." Aunt Mercy's head bobbed vigorously. also. Why." Ellen shrugged."It is not!" Grace's fevered glance swung from Fiona to her mother.
what about Grace? She seems to have a possessive air around you. . and I would hate to have it all forgotten. how are you? I was on my way to see you. Did you enjoy your trip?" "I accomplished quite a lot. "What is it?" "Well. Even with the troubles here. by any chance?" "I heard Sir William had gone north to investigate an Indian uprising. "So would I. "I do not know. or whatever. "And for that I am very grateful. Fiona." "There is nothing between us and never would be. Never more. The older ones« perhaps. Will you come as my partner?" "Why²why. yes. tucked loose strands of hair beneath her cap. He caught her hands with a quick smile and gave her a searching glance. Shipboard comradeships are oft-times forgotten once you are on land²unless you are thrown together afterward." "I'm fine." "Will the possessed girls be there?" Fiona cautiously asked. as you and I have been. and. opening the door. rasp berries« The girls pack lunches to share with their partners. every spring the young men and women pair off and go to a certain area in the woods where they collect berries to be stewed. Most of them are too young to be paired with young men. "Fiona. I believe a goodly number of couples will find time to attend." But Fiona thought there was a great deal more in Grace's mind. I cannot forget those days." His deep voice lowered softly. threw the water on some struggling plants. but then she laughed. Then she sped down the path just as Giles came toward her. Our time together on the sea meant much to me. of course. but I would not have imposed a visit on him at any rate. They are very plentiful this year: blueberries. We've been neighbors a long time and when we were young we were companions. dried. strawberries." Fiona swallowed before she spoke again." "Soon there will be the annual berrying party. The berries form a big part of our winter diet.Fiona jerked off her damp apron." She beamed at him. "What did you do in Boston? Did you buy a lot of things? Did you see William Phips." He tucked her arm beneath his own as they started walking away from Mercy Prescott's house. You were right." Fiona glanced at him with a quick smile. preserved. "Well.
" "Oh. As he welcomed Giles's return." What did it mean? Giles's passionate kisses one minute²then the stern control. For long moments. I cannot forget you." "Yes. heavy-shouldered. Was he afraid of her innocent response? Maybe when the witch hunt ended.After they had walked a little way. too. though Fiona doubted he gave his trust and friendship freely. I'll see you both. Fiona closed her eyes. 'Twill soon be dark. After Giles had introduced her. come Saturday. who might be in love with Giles or at least was pushing for his complete attention. "Good. Fiona's fingers shook as she straightened her gown and turned around. in the whirling vortex of emotions. The driver of the wagon stepped down and wrung Giles's hand. "You are the only one I am interested in. clearing his throat and straightening his hat. Be very careful. his voice was a deep male growl. suspicious girl. "Sally said she met you and soon you'll be having a meal with us. God. Giles and Fiona started to retrace their steps. He was very big." he said. with an almost brutal cast to his lips and pugnacious chin. Oliver eyed Fiona. Suddenly. she heard the sound of horses' hooves and cartwheels coming down the road. indeed. but I'd best be getting home. "I just wanted to make sure you were all right. Oliver's appearance shocked her. "I must go home now." He touched the wide brim of his hat and drove off in his wagon. That would not set well with the demanding. In another minute. When the dust had settled in the road. This big brute of a man« and« the dainty Sally? However. pushed back the curly red tendrils from her brow. they could explore this strange. Blissfully. There is grave danger in this witch hunt." In the next instant. Fiona. there was something in the black depths of his eyes. opening her mouth to the piercing. Turning to go back. exciting thing between them. Giles halted and with one hand. Fiona. if I'm not with you. there was nothing in the world except the wild sweetness of his deep kiss. Yes. . Oliver Woods. Feeling as though she had wakened from a dream. and heavy-featured. there was no telling. Giles drew away. I think about you even when I am gone. Welcome. Here comes Sally's husband." Fiona gave a nervous laugh. Abruptly. he hungrily pressed his lips to hers. hot invasion. Fiona suddenly saw Grace run from the house and cross the field to intercept Giles. she would see Fiona and know she had been meeting him. "Oh." Giles said huskily. something frank and honest. but if he noticed of her dishevelment.
a wicked voice whispered. longed to please him. and Charles Harmon. to spend a whole day picking fruit with Giles. Alas. as it would provide material for jams and jellies. The gathering of a bouquet would furnish an excuse for being outdoors. As she broke off fragile stems. It could provide their food and she would feel she was making a contribution to the household. a tingling sensation swept through every part of her body. But the main attraction would be Giles. remembering their recent encounter. each time Giles caressed her. to see him smile at her. maybe even too uncertain of his own feelings at this point. Underneath his serious outlook and sober dedication to his profession. Fiona decided to take a short walk in the woods. What fun. lovely« sweet« but never had he mentioned love. Sally and Oliver might be there. she turned off the main road and saw a grass-edged path starred with daisies and blue violets. that was part of his appeal. Giles might know where she could find seeds or seedlings to set out. Fiona pondered the idea of starting a vegetable garden. He had said only that she was bewitching. the firm advice about a maiden's conduct when strong passions tried to work their wiles upon virginity. Yes. Or. She gave a little laugh of pure excitement. and it would be a more pleasant occupation than the drudgery demanded under Grace or Mercy's nagging supervision. Giles certainly could be quite romantic. Thoughts of the coming outing gave Fiona a quick glow of happiness. at which task her mother was quite proficient.In order to avoid being seen. Both she and her mother had enjoyed gardening. She stopped and looked around uneasily. Moving quickly. Her mother's warnings surged into her mind. She yearned to be with him« dreamed about him in the night. too self-contained. more sobering: he had never said he loved her. since Mercy cultivated no flowers. making her yearn for more. but she also liked and admired him. then sharing a picnic basket with him. Perhaps he was too cautious. nor many other plants. much farther than she had intended. She frowned as she started walking along the dusky path. perhaps he just wanted to satisfy his clamoring male desires. Maybe it was his skillful passion that made him so attractive. She also looked forward to the berrying. as well as other young people. Which way should she go? . she hadn't noticed that the night had fallen and she had come a far piece inside the rustling woods. The path was swallowed up in darkness. Was she in love with Giles? Then came another thought. Occupied with her thoughts. as she had done in Ireland.
"A poor old wolf. sudden flight. yellow. deserted by the younger pack. Yes. it was a wolf! What should she do? A scream. and a low. do not threaten him. the gulf was too wide between her and this foraging creature of the forest. fed. hello. Never harm her. Fiona. At last Fiona moved into the ring of light. shining through the trees. He's just a poor old wolf. boy." Drawing a deep breath. Stand still. another contact made with a human being.As she hesitated. Fiona. No dog. "Not while I am here. Was that a dog? Then she saw eyes²slitted. Though his wild instincts were lulled for the time being. or an attempted blow²all might trigger an attack." It was Sally! Fiona shook so much she couldn't find her voice or move while the emaciated creature loped with a whine to Sally's feet and gobbled up the meat she had tossed on the ground. Sally knelt down. the brindle coat covering gauntness. Moments passed while she stood frozen on the path. a keening howl suddenly smote her ears. Fiona. Sally. and she had entered his domain. There ensued no wagging tail. deep-throated growl of menace. Gray. pointed ears. cool look. Fiona did not think she would want him for a pet. "Do you know that animal?" "Why. Come closer. Gray. "This is a friend. But then a lantern light appeared. He's afraid and hungry all the time. the animal waiting for her to move. She heard the pad of paws on dried leaves. and I will make you known to him. She was the enemy. let him sniff your fist. "Good evening. "Here. Then he dipped his head in submission." The introduction was accomplished. she told herself. Fiona came closer while still shaking in every limb. and with a last lick at Sally's shoe. only a long. peaceful." she repeated to herself. slunk off into the darkness. what was she doing. The creature moved and now she saw him clearer: the tilted eyes. A wolf? Dear heaven. and Fiona heard a lilting voice call. the alert. Take deep breaths and expel your fear so he won't sense it. here's food. moving closer to this natural enemy of mankind? Finishing his meat. shining through the trees. . regarding Fiona curiously. that is threatening." "Are you certain he will not attack me?" Fiona asked weakly. although I try to feed him when I can. Come on. then raised his head." she said in a shaken voice. Not an open hand. the animal fawned on Sally's shoes. Gray and I are good friends. I cured this old fellow after some boys trapped him and left him wounded in the forest. who moved on and forced him to steal his food.
"Not unless you made a threatening gesture. And you?" "Just walking. Sally turned abruptly and vanished among the trees. Strangely. Chapter 8 During the next few days. but . and I am a person who gives him food. the image of Judge Blaize's face swam before her." Fiona accepted them gladly." "Like some people."Do you think he will remember me?" she asked. Do you think the wolf would have attacked me?" Sally shook her head. What are you doing in the woods so late?" "Gathering mushrooms for Oliver's breakfast tomorrow. he told me. or the wolf. Grace plunged her into an orgy of housework. someone associated with me. "Can you find your way back?" Sally asked. Fiona had little time to ponder Giles. Perhaps you saved my life. There seemed to be no work for them in the village. Sally nodded and drew her shawl tighter to her throat." Fiona inhaled deeply." Fiona said. Grimly. take some mushrooms to your aunt." "Yes. one cannot forget that he is a wild animal. "Sometime I may tell you about such a person right here in Salem. However." In the moonlight. her face suddenly looked white and pinched. and unpredictable when aroused. I met Giles and then Oliver on his way home. Sally. Fiona kept pace with the strenuous work. yes. While Fiona stared at her. knowing that she and her mother were dependent on Aunt Mercy for their very livelihood. "The moon's up now and I can see the path. "Oh. You will now be a friend in his mind. Well. almost as though she challenged Fiona's powers of endurance or wished to keep her too busy to visit with Giles. This would make a better excuse for being out so late than gathering flowers. "I am certainly glad you came along.
Today it was soap making. "Slowly. B. The big iron pot had been set up outside in the yard over a fire of twigs. his snapping eyes giving every indication that he was eager to say the whole lesson. "I've made soap before. now wait. . We are going to make up rhymes for the words like this: A is an apple that fell from a tree. 'Tis monstrous boring." "I'd be glad to." Fiona turned her head aside from the stifling fumes of lye and grease." Charity's baby face suddenly looked very unchildlike and worried. who had just ushered the children in the door. Can you all see that?" Heads bobbed solemnly. Today we are going to play a new game. The game continued merrily through the alphabet until it came to little Charity's turn. look up at this alphabet sheet." The children all shouted with laughter. bull. you ninny. why don't you take the little darlings today? Ma can help me best out here. "We want a fine. "C²" "All right. Fiona helped her out. slowly." Fiona clapped her hands. I would rather do most anything than make soap. remembering a game her village teacher had once taught. not a lumpy mess. Unable to read the pictured word. "Say. clear jelly. "Children." Grace growled. and Fiona and Grace took turns stirring it in one direction only." Fiona wiped her watering eyes on her apron and hurried to switch jobs with Aunt Mercy." she said. "There is a picture by each letter with a word telling what it is." Grace exhorted constantly.there was plenty at the Prescotts' home." "The job I hate is listening to those dame school brats. "A. although sobering: "I is a judge who sends witches to jail. I don't have to tell her everything a dozen times. B is a bull that² what? Who can make up a word to rhyme with tree?" Tommy frowned at the fierce-looking woodcut." Charity's rhyme was good. Unusually subdued when they heard there was a new teacher. apple. "B is a bull who looks angry at me." young Master Tommy piped up. the little ones placed their hornbooks in front of them on the kitchen table while ten pairs of round eyes studied Fiona. "J is a judge that²what? What does a judge do?" Since the rhyme just before had been "I is for ice that turns into hail. "Very good.
"No more talk about witches. she took Charity by the hand and went into the yard where her mother was hanging the wash.Silence fell and an uneasy breath seemed to stir throughout the room. "K is a king²uh²holding prisoners for trial. . but by no means well. no one was in sight for her to ask. Why couldn't the people just enjoy it. spicy pinks. Let's go. The red fruit of peaches and cherries peeked invitingly between the thickly leaved trees of neighboring orchards. dear. but as usual." Her mother shook her head." "Yes." a small girl whispered. Most of the time. find. "You said you were going to Grandmama's. Had the hints of witchcraft about Rebecca Nurse grown worse? When school ended. trying to sound comforting. Big men came to talk with her and then she cried. Poor little poppets. they must be frightened out of their wits. Fiona thought. When I spoke with Giles. she remembered Reverend Parris's hate-filled sermon. beautiful. Fiona winced. but she doesn't play with me anymore." Fiona said. wishing she could pick some for herself. When the reading session ended. She gnawed her lip. She lifted her face to the warm sunshine. Such a big." "A good idea that is. When will this nightmare ever end?" Charity tugged at Fiona's hand. and perky. Soon they should be harvested. destroy!" His words had seemed to fall on very receptive ears in the frightened." Fiona ordered. "Mistress Nurse is upset and worried." Fiona lowered her voice. but the next letter showed that the children's thoughts were still on the forbidden subject." "Perhaps she wasn't feeling well. "I cannot blame her. Fiona drew Charity aside. purple violets with incredible perfume. "Seek. more wildflowers appeared by the roadside: great yellow daisies and Queen Anne's lace. vindictive audience." Out on the road. instead of stirring up trouble? With a shudder. Every day. "How is your grandmama feeling?" Charity's rosy mouth turned down. the air blew sweetly across green stalks of ripening corn and wheat. he said she was improved. Salem was no place for children these days. "She eats a little better. "I think she is worried about matters in town. fertile land. I think I'll go along with Charity and pay her a visit.
paced restlessly back and forth. talking and laughing. . her heart leaping against her ribs. She had no desire to face these girls. Shrill screams tore from twisted lips. "There may be others. Fiona halted out of sight. "Good morning." The driver leaned forward. young ladies. Arms and legs jerked and shuddered convulsively. "True but²" Suddenly. whispers. wracked faces. Abigail Williams." Be quiet. but her curiosity to observe the instigators of the witch hunt was overwhelming. Do not make a sound. occasionally glancing up and down the road. her blue eyes round and staring. Now. Immediately a change swept over the young girls. fingers pointing from all the men and women travelers. we have come clear from Marblehead to see the poor maids possessed by witches. "Ooo." But Charity did not need the warning. their ages seemed to range between eleven and the latter teens. but your words carry the most weight in Salem's witch hunt. eyeing each girl with avid curiosity while excited ripples continued to course throughout the sightseers. Ann's strident tones mounted in volume. there are many more unfortunate people who are plagued by Satan. of course. the niece of Reverend Parris. look! There are The Girls!" Seven young girls stood together. serious expressions. She pulled Charity beneath the branches of a willow tree and whispered. "Hark! I feel some witches are near right now!" Immediately. her eyes burning with a barely leashed excitement. We are the original afflicted girls. The group appeared to be waiting for something. Quite ordinary-looking children." There were gasps of awe. Sweat poured down the grimacing. Their bodies began bending and writhing. One strong-faced young lady stepped forward. now. Two wagons containing passengers came rumbling along the road followed by several riders on horseback. Cloaks and shawls were straightened. and soon their vigilance was rewarded. Do you know where we can observe them?" The girls exchanged swift glances like a signal and moved apart. The driver of the first wagon stopped his horse and addressed the group. "I am Ann Putnam. dressed in sober Puritan garb. She stood frozen. a moan surged from the collected girls. a statue of fear. laughter ceased abruptly as they composed their faces into stern.The wind blew with a sudden chill as Charity grabbed at Fiona's skirt.
the cries came fast and anguished: "No more!" "I've seen enough!" "Lord. staring in horrified disbelief while the child hid her face with stifled sobs. but all seemed reluctant to abandon the scene. . The spectators began to scream and sob. One by one. Fiona felt her every sense was reeling. suffering animals. each girl fell to the ground. "Oh.Fiona grabbed Charity up in her arms. How could a human being turn its head around to such an angle? And the abnormal length that one girl's tongue protruded from her slack and gurgling mouth! Was she really seeing this? Could it possibly be some kind of an illusion? "I see a witch approaching. "So am I. all the girls miraculously recovered. save us from the Devil!" The men on horseback whipped around. their faces ashen. They straightened garments and wiped the blood away." Gathering her courage. when the dust had settled over the empty road. one of the girls spied her and whispered to the others. Fiona stepped from the shelter of the tree. The spectators finally had had enough. such sustained bestial howling. Mercy dropped like a stone. Finally." Abigail Williams shrieked. and arms. What had she really seen? Was it just a sham? Were the girls only pretending to feel pain and terror? Did they lie when they claimed to be seeing witches? But how could anyone fake such contorted movements. She couldn't understand it. Some bellowed thunderously like stricken. Soon the wagons followed them. but before she could gain the road. clutching at herself and shrieking as though she was in mortal agony. ears. Some bit themselves until the blood poured from hands. the blood upon their hands and faces? "I'm so scared²" Charity sobbed. the passengers now hysterical with terror as they sobbed and prayed. their faces once more pale and calm. Some slid along the ground like reptiles. Fiona clutched the frightened Charity while her mind sought for an explanation of the terrifying experience. no! It's pinching Mercy Lewis!" With an unearthly howl. Some hid their eyes. and pounded back the way they had come.
" Anger brought Fiona courage. something warned her that it would be a most disastrous move. thank goodness. snakelike movement. She slid Charity to the ground. And the next morning. dragging Charity along as fast as her little legs could trot. and clasping the child's hand tightly. "Who are you?" she hissed. You can do nothing. springing out of the woods without the slightest warning. that is all. "Everything in this town is our business. "My name is Fiona Prescott." "My grandma's not a witch. Fiona swallowed hard. "No one knows for certain who they really are. "You are nothing but a bunch of schoolgirls. old woman whom she tried to help« and that is all." Her voice rose strongly. "Let us by! You have no right to threaten us. We have only their word." Ann's eyes shot sparks. if it's any business of yours. gaping at the unexpected attack. "Oh. silently mouthing words. windblown hair and anxious face. what do we know of you²a stranger in our town? Grace said that you and your mother appeared one night. looking ugly. "I am so glad to see you²" . Rebecca Nurse is a sick. And what use is the word of a stranger?" Sudden rage swept Fiona. struggling in Fiona's arms. she stepped forward boldly as the band moved closer. However. the girl's eyes flashed. "Why are you and your mother giving strange potions to Rebecca Nurse? What mysterious powers does your mother have?" The unnatural group slithered closer. staring. and with a sob of thankfulness. Without waiting for an answer. A man on horseback galloped toward them. their cow went dry." Mercy Lewis narrowed her eyes. She hurried down the road but did not run. longing desperately to run. Ann Putnam lifted her long neck in a strange." "All? What do you know of all? For that matter.At once. Fiona recognized Giles's black. "Wait²I know you. the creatures stopped in their tracks. She called on every ounce of courage she possessed and looked the ringleader boldly in the eye. Seizing the moment. "My mother knows the art of simpling. And I see you hold the witch's grandchild. No one had ever seen you before." Charity roared." Stunned. overshadowing her terror." she cried. You know nothing. moving closer. Fiona swept past them. You are the red-haired Papist from Ireland. They looked as dangerous as prowling wolves. There was no telling what this pack would do.
"Things don't look well for Mrs. but of course. "And those awful girls are convinced that²that²" About to name Rebecca Nurse. Slipping from the horse. Fiona became aware of the small ears listening intently." It seemed that Giles knew something he would not confess in front of Charity. sounding worried. I gave her a soothing draught and told her daughter to repeat it several times a day. "I don't know what to make of those girls. "And I told them she wasn't. no one else can see it. When they saw me. She turned her head to glance at Giles. They are so strange« a group of people came looking for them and immediately the girls threw the most awful fits." he said." Fiona questioned shakily. the jury and judges go by a thing called 'spectral evidence. and so she bit off her words. and she was greatly upset when I came to check her health. he took Charity in his arms. "What did they say to you?" "They said Grandmama was a witch. will her grandmother. as when the girls claim that so-and-so is pinching and biting them. It could have been faked yet it was very frightening." "This is very serious. and this was confirmed when he returned and swung into the saddle. but Giles deterred her. "I think you had better come another time. such as an animal. They stopped before Charity's house and Fiona offered to step inside. Who can be an actual witness to it?" Giles replied gravely. sometimes in another form. This little one will need some soothing²and so." Fiona protested. Nurse. "But they are only children. Fiona handed Charity to him. then he reached down and swung Fiona in front of him on the horse." Giles answered in a low voice. perhaps. "The elders visited her yesterday. Fiona."Get up here with me. "I see you encountered the afflicted girls. they nearly accused Mother and I. I felt so . "Why do the judges place so much belief in what they say?" "The only explanation for their fits and convulsions seems to be witchcraft." he ordered tersely. "Then just their word about an invisible act can send a person to jail« or death?" "Witchcraft is an invisible crime." He grunted. As for the convictions in court. as they started down the road. They are believed because they take oath on the Bible." "Of course she isn't." Charity shouted." Fiona spoke soothingly. or invisibly.' " "What on earth is that?" "It is when a person's spirit or specter appears to you.
"Little nits make gnats. "Oh. she's just an innocent baby. "Truth and knowledge have nothing to do with this hysteria." a harsh voice grated." "I cannot believe you would say such a thing. Tomorrow I'll go visit her. dear. while you have run about the countryside with my. Giles put his arms around her and kissed Fiona's cheek. Everyone knows that." she gulped. arms akimbo. "with my friend. I will do my best to care for your safety. "Why. How could I tell them not to worry? Things are looking very serious. "How terrible. "Do not worry. "I wish there were something I could do to help. . "Riding with Giles!" Grace stood by the empty soap pot." Giles said bitterly. The finger of suspicion hovered above her and her innocent mother." Grace snorted. I have slaved over this stinking pot all day long. "Why is that so awful? They must have plenty of proof. Her eyes darting venom. I'll tell you one thing. A convicted witch loses all her worldly goods." "Good heavens." Fiona cried indignantly. we won't be having Charity in this house again. Grace snarled. the elders have been questioning Rebecca about her witchcraft. Fiona." Fiona whispered. glaring with a red and angry face." Fiona sputtered. saying." Fiona cried. Fiona realized what he meant. and²" "So that's where you've been all this time. but I must advise against that. Mistress Fiona. her throat choked with unshed tears. There have lately been hints that she no longer goes to church because she's signed the Devil's Book.helpless." "I'm sorry." "Grace²" Giles began." "Why. "I'll tell you this. People have been suspicious of her for a long time. Giles dropped his arms and Fiona slid down from the horse. she has been sick. are you suggesting that Charity might be a witch?" Giles scoffed. Grace. I fear Rebecca has made enemies who covet her large land holdings." With a pang of fear.
she couldn't leave just yet. with its horrendous witch hunt and the unpleasantness of her relationship with Grace. Her cousin's capacity for hatred knew no bounds. Giles. it's not your fault. Didn't she always "take care"? What had she done to warrant these attacks from Grace and the afflicted girls? Nothing that she could understand. possessed no logic. it might be too late. And you can take that any way you want. her heart suddenly beating faster. However« if they left. it would mean not seeing Giles again. Fiona groaned and leaned her head against the horse's flank. Fiona." . Suddenly. I can go alone and meet you there."Oh. For the first time. It would just add fuel to Grace's anger. "Don't worry. but I shall certainly see you home." "Fiona²" Giles started to protest. Grace turned and charged into the house." "Very well." Fiona waved and turned reluctant feet toward the house. Fiona seriously considered the possibility of moving to another town to live and look for work. Fiona." And then there were the other times when he had kissed her« Oh. who had never done her any harm. Not unless things got much worse. no." With this parting shot. She hushed the little voice that whispered: "By that time. I know where Sally lives. Fiona halted on the path. I will pick you up here²" Fiona raised her head. she knew that the girls reveled in their power. but it would be utterly useless to argue with them or try to convince them they were wrong. Grace represented a grave danger. you've been bewitched. I really do not think we should go together. Witness her animosity toward Rebecca Nurse and Charity. Furthermore. it all seemed more than she could bear." He gave her a smile that failed to mask the worry in his eyes. How much stronger was Grace's resentment and fury toward a girl Giles had kissed! She might vent her spleen in a terrible manner²and she had already told The Girls about Fiona and her mother. and Grace saw Fiona as a hated rival for Giles's interest. Giles reached down and touched her head. and tomorrow you and I will sup with Oliver and Sally. "Giles. she knew that now. "Please take care. banging the door behind her. Every accusation they made was due to ignorance and superstition. Today he had been so concerned and he had called her "dear. Anyplace would be better than Salem. "Please²it will be easier my way. It will all blow over with Grace. Like as not. Perhaps she and her mother could return to Boston and seek direction from Samantha.
"You haven't discussed this with Mercy or Grace?" Fiona put down her hairbrush and shook her head. and that's the sober truth of it. But today she decided they had better both be on their guard. If necessary. floods. Although Fiona softened the girls' actions as much as possible. She kept her head bent while tying the front lacings. "All just to lend reality to their lies. Fiona hadn't told her when it had happened because it had been so frightening and she didn't want to upset her. We might be doing better in another town such as Boston." Ellen Prescott sighed. "But reactions here are so extreme. And they are lies. it explained all the hard times here lately: sickness. I'll just say that I saw the girls performing in the road for some travelers. Fiona. Mayhap 'tis then a little easier to bear." "Whisht! That's what it seemed like? A performance?" "Yes. but not in this witch hunt. fires«" " 'Tis true. Aunt Mercy said if Satan had come to Salem. her long curls falling forward to hide her face. Nurse. suspicious of everyone who doesn't agree with them. I'm thinking these Puritans are a quite harsh group. you may be right. But it was so frightening. There's Mrs. her mother's face looked grave and worried when Fiona finished." Fiona answered in a troubled voice." Her mother shuddered. a dark green linen. "No need to encourage their suspicions about us. devils. When trouble strikes. I know full well there are such things as witches. her mother sat on the bed and listened to her account of the afflicted girls. people like to blame something or someone outside themselves. dear." "Well. we may find it hard to fit in here. Sally« and« and Giles«" . and drew up the lace-edged camisole to peek above the neckline. crop failures. I should hate to leave here. and demons. I am starting to make friends. She stepped carefully into her fresh gown." "Yes. I do believe. so many infant deaths. "In a way.Chapter 9 While Fiona washed and dressed for the evening at Sally's.
my own dear man. too. I'm sure. well-shaped lips. She knew that she should stop such intimacies in the future« yet how could she. Also. Fiona thought.' I'm thinking. I learned to admire Giles there." "And why would he not? 'Tis a sweet. clever young doctor he was on board." Her mother twinkled. Mercy told me that Matthew put aside a trunk for Grace to be saved for her marriage. "Do you think he admires just my looks?" "Of course not. Her mother nodded. even money. but I think he enjoys my company. not Grace. bright young lady you are. and a doctor just starting up his practice surely would need help from the girl he marries. feeling warmth steal into her face." Fiona bit her lip." "Well." "Is it wrong to²to like him so much?" "Away with you! You're speaking of more than 'like. A tremulous sigh escaped her. strong body pressed against her own. now in Salem there is more danger. the touch of his warm. when every part of her being yearned for his exciting touch? . so like his brother. he could not help but admire your bravery on the voyage where so many others were complaining constantly. "He hasn't said anything about« serious intentions." "I don't think Giles wants Grace for a wife." Fiona tossed away the uncomfortable idea. " 'Tis a fine young man he is. the lean. and it worked both ways.Her mother gave a little smile. Alas. In it there are linens. dear. brave. What a dear. "A sensible. and everyone spoke well of him. And here on shore he is just the same²strong. That's only part of it. You have no dowry." Fiona swallowed painfully. "Do you think Grace has a dowry? Aunt Mercy always claims to be in such desperate straits." "That she is. he has many other grave responsibilities. however. and kind. She knew that appearance counted greatly with men. and I'm certain sure he is worried about you." A big part of it. generous man Matthew must have been. you being so much prettier than Grace. Child. Fiona told herself. David. when he worked so tirelessly to aid the stricken passengers. She remembered the sensations Giles has aroused in her when they had kissed. tableware." And more exciting to me every day. Has he shown any serious intentions to you?" Fiona picked up a bonnet for her hair. But remember. "He's taking me to the berrying. " 'Tis no surprise. you must be realistic. I know you think a lot of him and I warrant that he feels the same.
We will avoid the town except for Sabbath. Fiona didn't want to wait for any more insults from Grace." Grace snickered. Besides. attend church regularly. Grace was quick to give one of her nasty laughs. "I must go." Aunt Mercy gave a fearful glance out the window. Downstairs in the kitchen. "You're right. "Maybe he's Satan in disguise. bad wolf?" "I have heard tell one has been seen in the woods." Grace then asked suspiciously. "Yesterday." Fiona looked down at the floor and whispered. 'Tis extra careful we must be. since all they want to do is attend witch trials." . say little." "Sally? She used to have her eye on Giles. If he appears. I have a slice of mutton for him which I saved from our midday meal." Fiona drew on her coat and picked up a basket. Mayhap she and Grace will become dependent on us for the chores. That's why I am going alone to Sally's. "I do not like the idea of that prowling hungry wolf you told me about. from the window. always my strong. I shall try. Giles kissed you just as Grace came out the door. This awful witch hunt will keep Giles and me from becoming too involved." Her mother's voice sank to a whisper. sensible lass. "And Fiona is his²" "Grace." her mother cautioned. can you not continue to be so?" "Y-yes.Her mother's concerned voice broke into her dreaming. He is worried because the girls said that Grace spoke to them and made them look on us with suspicion." Fiona choked. "That's not good." "Giles will bring me home on his horse." "Whisht! Then stay on the main road as much as you can. Sally and her husband are expecting me. I must watch my every action around Grace. Here is a word in your ear²do not be seen by Grace with Giles's arms around you. "Will anyone else be there?" "How should I know? Maybe she's invited Satan. what did I tell you about such remarks?" Aunt Mercy snapped. "You²you saw?" She nodded. "Fiona. and work hard for Mercy. "And where might you be off to this dark night? Aren't you afraid you might meet a big.
She felt a pang for her mother left behind. sipping from a tankard which he raised in greeting. Fiona wondered what her father would have thought about the Salem witch hunt. hearing the excited babbling behind her. hard work. and water could be intoxicating." With that. Thank goodness. wrapped in love. It seemed that now there was no way to stem the insanity. she turned on her heel and marched out the door. All of them were preferable to her aunt and Grace. How cozy the three of them had been. Would you like a cup of mead such as Giles is having?" "Just a small portion. Sally threw open the door and greeted her with delight. reading aloud. Grace. please. and even Oliver. "Am I late?" Fiona asked. As soon as Fiona knocked.Hearing Grace give a hissing cry. yeast. Giles sat nearby. and in so many people! I should think you would feel miserable all the time. warm. Fiona hurried down the road. the house and its altercations were soon behind her. always looking forward to the common goal: America. "I feel sorry for you. The lights gleamed invitingly from every small-paned window and shone on the yard abloom with flowering bushes and fruit trees. herself in the middle on a stool. The last glow of the sun was fading and shadows had grown long as she approached the little cottage. and companionship. She took Fiona's cloak and basket and directed her to a bench beside the fireplace. and grave. Probably her father would have decided to leave Salem until the madness had been dispelled. "Oliver is not here yet. . that she could not fully comprehend the horrors of the witch hunt. When would she learn to control her humor. but knew she would be staying up in their room reading one of a few beloved books they had brought with them from Ireland. longing to be with Sally and Giles. Most of the townfolk at church or in the streets seemed to regard it all with an avid relish as a possible break in their dull routine. the danger grew to friends and families. Fiona could have bitten her tongue. Fiona inhaled deeply. Sally handed Fiona a wooden goblet. having heard that this ancient concoction of honey. you see evil everywhere. and her mother knitting in her rocking chair while a cold storm battered outside in the night. She knew. Just like the afflicted girls. For a moment. however. He had been a sensible man² kind. she could see in her mind's eye an evening by the fragrant peat fire with her father on one side of the hearth. intelligent." Fiona said. She had seen only a small part of the anguish in Rebecca Nurse's family. Sally poked the ham turning slowly on the spit and aromatic juices dropped into a pot of bubbling beans on a tripod below." Sally answered. and day by day. "Not at all.
Sally said that she. his cheeks ruddy. where her mother cooked in a tavern. his face hard and deeply grooved. Fiona found herself wondering about the relationship between Oliver and Sally. There were greetings all around. It was obvious that Oliver doted passionately on his young bride. fresh-baked cornbread. However. "I'll tell you my story some-time. Fiona. "I would wager you are a splendid cook. He was so big and dominant. All the fare was set out on the table at the same time: ham and beans in bowls. and a dessert of apple tart and cream. questioning Giles about his life in London then turning to hear Fiona's story. too. The small girl treated them with so much gaiety and keen interest. and to Fiona's surprise." "Sally came from England." "How interesting. Oliver entered like a blast of forceful air. but now I hear Oliver in the yard and I must dish up the supper. chopped cabbage mixed with vinegar. Fiona thought. let's be seated. it was impossible not to like Sally. Giles also eyed the couple and Fiona wondered if he still harbored a feeling for his youthful love? Was he jealous of Oliver. potatoes roasted in their skins. Sally seemed delighted and slapped his hand playfully." Fiona slid into her chair. He must be at least twenty years older than his wife. tormented by images of his privilege as a husband? No matter how Giles felt. catering to him and perhaps in love with him. and was then given a snowy board-cloth to spread on the table while Giles poured a golden brew into the pewter goblets. his heavy-lidded black eyes rested possessively on her every chance he got. the homespun shirt damp with sweat. Have you washed outside? All right. "You and your kisses! You think to please the cook and get the choicest portions."How good that smells. "And your parents²" Sally exchanged a glance with Giles as though they shared some secret knowledge. He must not be a Puritan. his black hair tousled. When she learned about the mother's simpling. she ate hungrily. then. and after they said grace. and she learned the art at an early age. Sally seemed such a sweet and dainty little person to be his mate. knew the art and would pay a visit soon so she could show the wooded places where plants for medicines grew best." Fiona said." Fiona inhaled." "Can I help you?" Fiona offered. if you wish. I'll be bound. Oliver kissed Sally full upon her lips. .
This is not a popular arrest. "She is the latest one the girls have cast their eyes on. lettuce." Oliver didn't answer for a minute while he contemplated his apple tart with a grim expression. When I think of how she has helped so many²" "She lent us money for Oliver to open his own smithy and told him to pay it back in his own good time. and yet there is no finer lady in our village." Giles said." "Oh. but she nodded. marigolds. lily-of-the-valley. cannot afford to take a chance of showing friendship for her. what is it?" Sally whispered. and so will I." Fiona's lips quivered. so I've heard. The moon was high and bathed the thriving garden in a silvery hue. "Her hearing is at dawn tomorrow. that was nearly all Oliver could tell them. A wealth of peas. believe me." Sally sighed and shook her head. she took Fiona outdoors to fill her basket with seedlings. beans. I know that sounds unfeeling. Oliver laid down his fork and scowled. and Fiona saw pain crease his face. Sally was determined not to let her dinner guests be upset anymore. . my girl. I can be admitted to the jail. he said softly in Fiona's ear. Don't you know that people these days are being condemned as witches for much less?" Sally's face grew troubled.At this remark. "Rebecca Nurse has been arrested. and carrots grew in neat rows while spring flowers bloomed abundantly along the edges. and when all was cleared up in the kitchen. but before Giles joined Oliver by the fire. "As a doctor. "Is there anything we can do?" Fiona asked. "Might I see her? Perhaps she needs some things²" "Her family will see to her. putting her little hand upon Oliver's huge arm. Not only was her own safety at risk²it also could involve her mother." her husband answered gruffly." They all rose from the table." "I am greatly worried about Rebecca Nurse. Everyone exclaimed. and bushy peonies. "Yes. but soon everyone will know. and although they plied him with anxious questions. especially. my dear. It's early because I think they want as few spectators as possible. Fiona recognized some familiar faces: clove pinks. "I didn't want to speak of this. "Stay clear of Rebecca." Giles said. "You had best keep your talk of potion making to those in your own house. Then he poured on the thick cream and met Giles's gaze. but you.
who immediately gulped it down. Do you ever visit the witch trials with the others?" "Never. Gray snatched up a bone and vaulted over the garden fence. "It would not be well for you to deal with a wolf." The man put a hand on the musket tied beside him. Come. Master Higgins?" "He's been seen raiding chicken yards and so I aim to shoot him dead. The man stared suspiciously. pet or no. my mother befriended an injured cat and immediately Grace cried loudly that all witches have a familiar to do their bidding. "I hope not. move aside so that I may see that animal." Fiona laughed. mistress." She turned to a covered can on the porch while Fiona nervously watched the approach of the lean gray beast whose slitted yellow gaze seemed to fix questioningly on her own. "Do you think he'll catch him?" Fiona asked. she tossed it toward the animal. "Why. animal or human?" "Sally." . He dipped his pointed muzzle to Fiona almost like a greeting. Oliver brings me the things I need from stores." a young man on horseback called out from the road. then Sally placed some bones before him and he fell on them. Is no creature safe. "Have you seen a vicious wolf around tonight?" Sally spread her skirts in front of Gray. There is too much killing in this place. This is my pet. "and I applaud your zeal." "I also have another reason for not going there." Sally stood up. She suddenly recalled the mutton. "Pray. he galloped off in the direction Gray had gone. It's lucky I put a few good meat bones in the garbage pail." Sally answered vehemently."You seem to be one of the few people who tend their gardens." "I only went to the village once. She suddenly stopped and listened. "I won't go into Salem unless it is for Sunday service. Mistress Wood. boy. He looks devilishly familiar²" "I tell you²" At that moment. no. "Hark! Is that a dog²oh. What do you want with a stray wolf. it's Gray. trowel in hand. hard face. and taking it from the bottom of her basket." Touching heels to his horse. and when I saw the frantic hot-eyed crowds. reining in his horse. "Ho. then looked back at Sally with no kindness in his long. I couldn't get away fast enough.
Grace also dislikes me. She decided to sneak off in the morning and attend it so that she could see what an accused person had to face. but I got into trouble. "I think his interest lies elsewhere to contemplate a sweetheart. pillion-style. Giles opened the door and said Oliver was weary and they had best be on their way. and rode away. "Giles loved you once? And perhaps still does?" "Once. Now Giles and I are just friends. so we fill a need in each other's lives. and at one time«" She hesitated. She once had set her sights on Giles. behind Giles. as Grace or Mercy might try to stop her with demanding chores and her mother would worry in case the afflicted girls again approached her. Glad to have been spared an answer. Fiona. dear Oliver came into my life and stole my heart. Fiona dressed quickly and then crept softly down the stairs.In the bright moonlight. . She hadn't told anyone what she intended to do. I was very." She shot Fiona a sly glance. if you'll forgive my asking?" Before Fiona could think what to say. "Oh. she knew it would not be pleasant. Fiona spoke with difficulty. But he went away without a declaration. However. I never had a brother and he never had a sister. Sally's face looked troubled. Fiona thanked Sally. "Beware of Grace. perhaps. Giles already knew a lot about doctoring from his grandfather. How do you feel about him. I thought he was a storybook hero." Fiona sighed and related her own encounter with The Girls. and he« helped me. her eyes wide. Today was the hearing for Rebecca Nurse. He was manly and handsome." "I know. Chapter 10 The next morning Fiona rose at dawn. Sally sucked in her breath. and Rebecca's trial was foremost in Fiona's mind. very young. Giles seemed preoccupied and grave. She means to discredit you. and while her mother slept. Fiona. and soon after that. not now. said goodnight to Oliver. They spoke but little. Oliver said he heard her talking to some of the afflicted girls and she mentioned you.
A woman seated next to Fiona nudged her younger neighbor. There also was her friendship with Rebecca Nurse and Sally. Fiona recognized Judge Blaize among the trio at the table and a pang of fear shot through her. She wondered uneasily whether his dinner invitation would arrive as promised. She dreaded the coming ordeal. When a bell tolled in the tower. Fiona pulled the hood of her cloak to shroud her face and then made her way quickly along the deserted road. there's Magistrate John Hathorne. Grace seemed increasingly jealous of the relationship between Giles and herself. The pulpit had been pushed back to make more room and the minister's big chair turned around probably to form a "bar of justice" for the accused to stand behind. Fiona shrank back on her bench. watching the throngs of people waiting at the meetinghouse for the doors to open. although she didn't think he could see her as she settled deeper into her cloak. "Eh. Every day that possibility loomed closer in her mind. Whose side would Aunt Mercy be on? She seemed to be a wavering. However. cold hall. The thought of food filled Fiona with nausea and she could not watch these hungry ghouls. All jabbered and called constantly to acquaintances. Some were eating from cloth-wrapped bundles as though at a picnic. If this wasn't enough. but essentially not bad. keenly noted. superstitious woman. yet felt she must know what befell Rebecca« and also see what to guard against if the unspeakable occurred and she or her mother was arrested. Shivering from cold and nervousness. Fiona's heartbeat quickened at the dreaded idea and she had to swallow hard. rapidly filling the big. That was probably the worst offense of all in Grace's eyes." . Now she had even confided her opinions to the so-called "afflicted" powerful young girls who had shown hate and suspicion when Fiona had encountered them. it was hard to tell which way she would go if the constable decided to investigate Fiona and her mother. Grace never missed an opportunity to hint that she and her mother acted strangely. Fiona found a seat in one of the back rows and slipped into it just as three black-robed men entered and marched up to a long table in the front. Outside. weak. since both were under a dark cloud. no one was astir as she left the house. Fear and apprehension clamored in Fiona's brain as she neared the busy square. His cruel hot eyes darted from side to side as he assessed the situation. only eagerness to behold the conviction of their neighbors.Fortunately. Did she have the courage to accept? She was pulled both ways: by a fear of this man and a rising curiosity about him. a chill fog was evaporating while dawn's light streaked the sky. Not a shred of sympathy did they show for the poor souls awaiting trial. the doors burst open and the crowd pushed forward. looking colder and meaner than ever. She tugged her hood down even farther to hide her face and slowed her footsteps.
a blush enveloping her face. Marilla shook her head and giggled. sullen-looking eyes. Today these powerful children had assumed the roles of judges and jury. Hathorne is about to speak. they go away with some nice gift. "Oh. whining wench. like jewelry. his face cold and hard. Someone else chimed in. "He don't scare me none. she stared boldly at the assembled people who hissed and pointed vindictively at her. I think he's kinda handsome. but what can he do with so many witches to try?" Witches! Already the accused people were condemned in the eyes of the spectators. look." her friend interrupted. "He didn't like getting up so early. now. They say he picks up those who take his fancy and²" Here she cupped her mouth and whispered. eyes fixed on the haughty judge." The magistrate faced the accused woman. a roughly dressed woman shuffled down the aisle in the tight grasp of a constable. "No!" "Shh. Wish we'd gotten closer. "That new man. brows drawn. ain't his face enough to scare ye.The other sniggered. Tossing frowzy hair back from sly. what evil spirit do you have familiarity with?" "None. 'twould be the stocks for nigh a week²and²" "Oh. . "Here come The Girls!" A murmur ran excitedly throughout the room and heads craned as the famous group entered. don't tell me ye wouldn't²" Again a whisper." Fiona heard from a nearby man. Marilla. He spoke in a penetrating voice. The young girls proceeded demurely with downcast eyes to the front row of benches that had evidently been reserved for them. I'll be bound. Janie?" the woman continued. "Sarah Good. they say. "John Hathorne will have his work cut out with that uppity beggar. He's awful rich. Fiona eyed them apprehensively. Judge Blaize. Now. They all wore pale gray frocks with white fichus at their necks and snowy aprons and caps tied beneath their chins. The next minute." the slattern spat. listen. He led her up to the bar where she shrugged off his arm with a snarl. "Everybody in Salem hates her. If he likes what he sees. mercy. She steals and lies²" "Shh. I dunno. Her friend leaned forward. If 'twere found out. Her friend gasped. the nasty.
"Stop! Stop!" "You're torturing me!" "Sarah Good. "I do not hurt them. Hathorne rapped out in a voice of steel. Instantly the other girls followed suit. the old woman burst out. Other people came to testify that she was a nuisance. Judge Blaize. Sarah Good replied." Sarah Good yelled back. then?" With a harsh laugh. . leaning across the table. The courthouse roared in horrified enjoyment. Abigail Williams gave a shriek and began to twist and turn. then. her eyes blazing toward the row of girls who recoiled from her with apparent horror and deep loathing."Have you made no contract with the devil?" "No!" "Why do you hurt these children. Hathorne demanded loudly. his thick lips twisted downward in a cynical smile. Mr." A new name! A bone tossed in desperation to the wolves clamoring for her blood. After finally restoring order. her body doubling up as though she were wracked with pain. I scorn it!" At that. "Who are you employing to hurt these children?" "I employ nobody. The magistrates continued to hammer away at the defiant old hag. please have mercy on us!" When the uproar diminished. jerking their arms and legs. "Goody Good. do you not see what you have done? Why do you not tell us the truth? Why do you thus torment these poor children?" "I do not torment them!" "Who is it. that torments them?" Her eyes darting wildly like some badgered animal. surveyed it all as though in deep enjoyment. chin on hand. shiftless and sharp-tongued. then sucked in his breath and shook his head in dismay. The other magistrate seated at the table looked to Hathorne for direction. They said she called their children names. "It was Sarah Osburne. uttering violent screams.
help. She leaned heavily on his arm and Fiona gasped when she saw how ill the old woman looked. the constable appeared leading Rebecca Nurse. The crowd greeted her arrival in a different manner. God-fearing woman. "It is our considered judgment that Sarah Good should be held in jail to await trial as a witch. "We have two witnesses against this woman: Ann Putnam. until Hathorne called out.Sarah Good replied that the children threw rocks at her. before the same question could be put to her. "Rebecca Nurse is hurting me cruelly! Oh." Even the magistrates treated her in a gentle. After a while." the girl answered clearly. Hathorne asked. although her head was still held high as they led her away. "Yes. downcast eyes. Many appeared shocked and indignant and Fiona heard voices exclaim: "This cannot be right!" "She is a good. At once. and Abigail Williams. her face pale and drawn. Ann Putnam fell flat upon the floor. but for some reason. and made fun of her rags. Fiona felt a pang of pity for the ragged crone who had defied the whole courtroom. the two magistrates and Judge Blaize put their heads together." Both girls stepped forward with meek faces. I have. When he could be heard above the din. "Goody Nurse. Sarah Good's lips trembled with fear and her eyes stared blindly straight ahead. hooted when she went by. but Blaize looked on coldly. and clasped hands. "Abigail Williams. apologetic manner." An approving mutter ran through the crowd. her eyes rolling far back in her head until nearby observers screamed. what do you say to this?" ." intoned Judge Blaize. Immediately." "I don't believe she is a witch. have you been hurt by this woman?" Mr. help!" Abigail then began to shriek hysterically. Now. Rebecca grasped weakly at the back of the minister's chair and her eyes darted desperately around the room. "Bring in the next case. Hathorne turned anxiously to the elderly woman and pointed to the children. When she reached the front. her limbs jerking. It wasn't long until Blaize rose.
they accuse you of hurting them. Hathorne shouted above the tumult. "What do you say to this. shifty-eyed woman. "That is bad. "but if you be guilty." An indrawn breath of horror swept the room.Rebecca lifted her eyes to heaven. 'Witch Nurse has murdered us'. Why did they put so much credence in a dream? The girls seized this opportunity to shriek and writhe while the audience joined their cries. Putnam began in a righteous tone. "I can only say before my Eternal Father. Horror was on every face and Fiona." She thrust up the sleeve on her scrawny arm. sickened. Hathorne's voice came strongly. "And if you think it is not unwillingly but by design. knew that the tide had turned. demanding that I sign the Devil's Book. a thin. if you have aught to testify in this hearing. Lord. Voices exclaimed. but she spoke earnestly. "Two days ago. a group of dead children appeared at my bedside wearing the winding sheets in which they had been buried." Mr. Late one night." Heads craned questioningly as Ann Putnam's mother. "Rebecca Nurse.' so then she pinched and tormented me. Mr. "And there is something else. Goody Putnam. Her voice trembled. I said 'no. you must look upon these accusers as your murderers. help me!" Mrs. then we pray God to discover you. Rebecca Nurse?" The elderly woman flung out her hands and sobbed. now pointing at Rebecca and speaking angrily. I am innocent. his bony finger stabbing at the air." the magistrate answered gently." "There is not one in this assembly but desires it." Mrs." "I would never have believed it!" Rebecca Nurse looked close to fainting and Fiona had to press her lips tightly to keep from crying out that it was surely all a pack of lies. "See there the black and blue bruises that the witch made upon me?" John Hathorne's face grew stern. "Rebecca Nurse's shape appeared before me. They said to me. "Goody Nurse. Putnam drew herself up. did you not bring the Man in Black with you to my house? Did you not bid me curse God and die? How oft have you eaten and drunk your own damnation?" Above the amazed babel which ensued." A shrill voice suddenly rose above the muttering and a woman stood up near the front. came to stand before the magistrates. and God will clear my innocence. Is this your belief?" . "Step forward. "Oh.
who were coming down the road. Cousin Slug-a-bed. for once you got up early. swaying unsteadily. snarling. Rebecca Nurse was no witch! She was a kind. the verdict came: "We believe there is sufficient evidence of witchcraft. Once. she had seen a black-robed procession mounting up a hill with dragging feet while a bell tolled in the distance. Do you not see him?" one of the girls cried. but then Fiona stumbled and found herself alone. Not looking where she was going. it was so terrible. well. Rebecca Nurse. constables. She had felt that one of the doomed group would be well known to her. well-bred. hysterical mob. God-fearing woman." Rebecca moaned. And the same vision had been repeated with an increasing sense of horror when she'd visited Rebecca Nurse« What did it mean? And now it came again. "We have done naught! My child and I are innocent!" The roars grew louder. what would happen to her now? She was almost certain to be convicted. but oh. who didn't seem to have a reasonable thought of their own. Fiona and her mother stood before the bar of justice and all the magistrates. ow." she sneered." Fiona rose blindly from her seat and pushed past the roaring. stamping crowd now shouting almost unanimously. Fiona almost collided with Giles and Grace. Fiona stumbled homeward. at last. no!" Ellen Prescott screamed. foaming at the mouth. I cannot tell what to think. I only know it was not I!" "Look. and then« suddenly Fiona recalled the visions she had had. The children cried out ."Oh. they are pecking me!" Hysterical accusations poured forth from the girls. Tears coursed down her face. His whole face seemed to flame. clutching at a tree with the vision fading from her mind. "Well. "You will be held in jail to await your trial. Oh. I was curious. there is the Man in Black whispering in her ear. Grace was the first to speak." Judge Blaize stood up and pointed at her. "Yes. Then. "What was the reason? Curiosity about the witch trials at last?" Fiona wiped her cheeks and pushed back her hood. A red haze seemed to fill the courtroom and in every row sat animals. "Witch! Witch! Witch!" Dismayed and revolted by the easily swayed. her voice quivering. "Strange birds are flying around her!" "Ow. Rebecca wept. The crowd clamored. and judges began to shout: "Witches² witches!" "No. Rebecca Nurse was questioned. on the road with Giles. "Perhaps the Devil may appear in my shape.
" Bewildered. "Only a fool would think she is innocent after all she's done: not attending church. not a mature man like Giles. "We have something else to discuss with you right now besides the plight of Rebecca Nurse²who I am sure will get what she deserves. Fiona blinked. "Watch your words. since you had no other friends here yet. "But Charles will do for Fiona. "Yes. but Grace stopped him with a hand on his arm and a sharp glance in his direction." Fiona's anguished eyes sought Giles. "I hope you don't mind too much." . "commitment to Grace. her lips curved down. which looked twisted with some suppressed emotion." Giles made a choked sound and Fiona's eyes flew to his face. he said you were expecting him to go with you. We had planned this long ago. I do. "The only proof is the word of those children. "What?" Her eyes turned to Giles. "Unless she would prefer to stay at home and sulk." Giles stared off into the distance. I don't. "You don't believe she's guilty." Grace shrugged. Fiona flung out her hands." Giles said tightly." "Well. Fiona." His face grew rigid and he halted. but when I reminded him. "Giles is taking me." Her black eyes bored into Fiona's and a smug smile thinned her lips. "This concerns the berrying party tomorrow." Grace's teeth came together with a snap. Would you mind going with my brother? I know he would be overjoyed." He made a movement toward her and seemed about to speak again. do you?" "No. of course. But I don't believe it's true. too. "Now Rebecca is going to be held for trial and I could tell that everyone thinks the poor old soul is guilty of witchcraft. he's young and silly. since she's young and silly. avoiding Fiona's eyes. "I had forgotten my² my²" he cleared his throat. Giles Harmon." Grace snapped. "I²I don't understand what you mean. Putnam stood up and said Rebecca came to her in a dream demanding that she sign the Devil's Book." She stroked the arm she clutched with both her hands. laughing at the afflicted girls. You are to go with Charles Harmon.against her and then Mrs. certain of his agreement. torturing them²" "How can you know she tortures them?" Fiona cried. He raves about you all the time." Grace said with a sanctimonious air." "She really hasn't any choice. who looked away. his face taut and hard." "Some changes had to be made in our plans.
Her feelings for Giles had been very strong." A cheat. Chapter 11 . What had happened to change Giles's mind? Why was he really taking Grace? He had said he didn't care for her and had seemed so anxious to take me. Fiona thought. "I'll be delighted to go with Charles. but now discovered her jealousy needed placating? Fiona groaned. Fiona shut her eyes. It would be a most gleeful victory for Grace. squeezing back the tears. how Grace would gloat and taunt her. How could she go to the berrying and watch Giles with Grace. then raised a dipper to her lips. who would be sure to flaunt her power over him? But if she didn't go. She threw Giles a scornful glance and flung herself toward the house. She would know then that Fiona had been deeply attracted to Giles and very hurt by his default. Fiona felt her pride assert itself. Quick as thought. Above all. How eagerly she'd responded to the drugging power of his kisses. she wiped her mouth and ran out the door. not an old sobersides. It might have ruined her for life. she took the wooded pathway to the sea. Grace pulled Giles along the road. but now she heard her mother and Aunt Mercy coming down the stairs. It seemed at such times there would be nothing she'd deny him. She couldn't face another soul just now. the caressing hands that sent such thrilling messages throughout her being. she must not let either Giles or Grace know how much she was upset. and running mindlessly. she sagged against the door and drew a ragged breath. but Fiona didn't look around.Anger swept Fiona so that she could firm her trembling lips and answer steadily. a fraud. Thank goodness she hadn't let him go farther than he did. Chattering loudly about the picnic. The world was wiped out in those moments when he held her such a willing captive. How far would they have gone? She didn't know. Removing her cloak. Suddenly. a liar as well. Something had always brought them back to sanity. Indoors. The next few days would not be easy. hardly aware of what she did as her eyes stared blindly through the casement window. she must hide her emotions from the world. just what I need right now. A man on horseback called a greeting. No. she went to the sink. Giles and Grace had disappeared. drinking deeply. she told herself. the flattery he had poured into her ears« had it all been just the usual seduction of a man who hadn't known a woman for all those weeks at sea and then had found a new intriguing female in Fiona? Had he always intended to marry Grace. the urgent hands moving so excitingly upon her body. splashed water on her face from a pail. He is so amusing. She helped herself to a dish of plums. What about his ardent lovemaking? The intimate. hot kisses.
but at once his long arm caught around her shoulders and guided the jug against her lips. No people were about. She took a gulp.The woods. with flowering spring trees swaying in the gardens. Fiona gasped and tried to turn aside." He sipped a bit from the jug. She dropped down on the sand. so cool and silent. she could hardly breathe and swallowed hard. For a second. and in the next minute she had shed her hose and shoes and was wading in the wonderfully refreshing water. And she was thirsty. then let her hands fall at her sides as deep slumber overtook her. she came back and relaxed full length on the beach. gentle waves going in and out. "Please forgive me if I disturbed you. sweet. The bluff was not a high one and a beach ran along below it. had a blessedly calming effect. After a while. and seeing a flight of wooden steps leading to the beach. a clear and lovely blue dotted with many little islands. "Join me with a drink of my own elixir. Fiona lifted up her skirts and proceeded carefully downward. A feeling of peace enveloped her and she didn't question how or why." He spread his arms wide at once. and today's emotions had exacted a terrible toll. Houses could be seen on the promontory. Judge Blaize was seated by her side. How . It will restore and relax you. All her problems seemed strangely muted. She removed her cap and brushed back the long red curls. Her fingers sought the buttons of her dress and opened up a couple so the fresh sea air could blow upon her throat. that I promise. Fiona stared up at the judge. She had not had much rest the night before. "It is harmless. he smiled. curving out of sight into the distant harbor filled with bobbing masts. She awoke with a terrible jolt of fear. She only knew she must enjoy it while she could. I assure you. her heart hammering. icy cold. At once she realized it was delicious. staring at her. "You startled me." He reached behind him on the sand and brought forth an earthen jug. and Fiona drew a lungful of the fresh sea air when she reached the cove. far away. Fiona struggled to sit up and rise. tangy. feeling sleep would be most welcome. The sun shone now and the sea sparkled with dancing light. feeling as though she must be dreaming." At her hesitation. eyeing the soothing. finelooking two-and-three-storied ones made of red brick. but the liquid spilled into her mouth and she was forced to swallow.
to fight him off. I have to go²" "No. but found that she was completely helpless in his grip." And tried to gather up her strength." he told her softly. he pounced upon her trembling lips and sucked them into the howling cavern of his mouth. Leaning back upon her hands. and I shall sit beside you. pushing back her tangled curls." His last words were spoken against her mouth. . top and bottom. Growling like a ravening animal. "Do you think I enjoy testing all those horrible old hags? The villagers want their blood. A paralyzing fear enveloped her and she knew she faced a strong opponent. although she jerked back. will you?" He looked down. and so I give it to them. Fiona. You have no idea how arduous are my duties as a judge. His dark eyes matched the midnight hair waving to his shoulders. I should. but it tightened as though made of iron and his face came closer. even a judge likes to act the boy sometimes and go wading in the ocean. like hers. His legs were bare. pushing aside her skirt. he appeared much younger. One long hand reached out to clasp her ankle. but she also knew she must not let him see her fear. "Please²you must not do that. he reclined. my dear.different he looked! Suddenly his face had been erased of any cynicism. a lock of hair drifting on his brow." He turned a burning gaze on her and began to stroke her leg. "Surely you won't find Rebecca Nurse guilty. leaning on his elbow. It is always a relief to get a substitute. not presiding. no. Somehow. "Yes. swamped by a sudden wave of terror. "I saw you at the trials today." he murmured. she forced herself to say. "Why." Instead of sitting. I was in the balcony. I long to devour it and restore my soul. squeezing. "You have need of my attention. his mouth gently smiling. "Yes. inch by tantalizing inch. Just as I have need of yours. He bared her body. Why did he seem so different? "No²I don't want to wade. She tried to move. to scream. you don't." She stiffened as his arm slid around her shoulders. Especially if you wish it. She saw he wore a full-sleeved white shirt trimmed with lace and gray corded breeches with silver knee buckles. pinching. Would you care to join me?" Fiona blinked. moving upward from the ankle." His voice had an odd humming tone. "Sit. Rebecca probably will go free. But when I find such fresh beauty as I see in you. hurting everywhere he touched.
"I go too fast. do you hear me? Say you hate Giles Harmon and want only me. She couldn't understand what was happening. He must not catch her. yes!" she cried out. he stopped. loud timbre she had formerly associated with him. No matter that he had hurt her. Fiona screamed." The scarlet color drained from his face. "Anything only let me be!" His clutch loosened and she was up in a flash. "Giles! Giles²" "What is it?" Blaize hissed at once. his gait was slower. except she hovered on the brink of panic. "Did he? Did he?" Giles! At the thought of him. Something she didn't understand had been at work to lull her reason. "Deny him. play on her emotions at a time when she was vulnerable and hurt. her thighs. There was no time to delve the mystery. Before today. and once she weakened. shutting her eyes so she wouldn't see the frightening face above hers. His hand clawed at her hair and jerked back her head. as though he had reverted to his actual age. "Giles Harmon never did what I can dare. Say it²or things will be much worse for the both of you. a fresh. She must escape the evil force behind her. she tried to keep his image before her. tossing back her hair. As she flew across the sand. He sounded older." he roared. "Are you recalling someone else? Remembering other kisses? I swear they didn't burn your lips or excite you as I do. Forgive me. Is that not true?" The beast was back. a shriek torn from her very soul. His heaving torso pinned her upon the sand while his hands clawed at her breast. his face darkening. cold wind swept across Fiona and she exerted all her strength." Oddly enough. and that's what she remembered now. "Stop. Calmness settled over his features. but you are enough to make a man go mad with craving. She heard her name called and now Blaize's voice had the harsh. he had been everything she'd wanted and admired in a man. No one possesses my powers as a lover. running barefoot across the sand with all the speed at her command. She bent her head and a name broke from her lips. the shudders wracking him abated. . How had the judge known so much about her and Giles? Did he have spies or some strange powers? Giles's name had shocked her mind out of its stupor and brought her strength. though his eyes still held Fiona's gaze and she couldn't look away. her legs." "Yes. stop. It was better when she didn't meet his gaze. saying hoarsely.When he pulled his mouth away to draw in a grinding breath. nothing on this earth could save her from being ravished and ruined by this monster.
she was out of sight of her pursuer as she dodged toward the rocks. she wrapped a stone about her handkerchief and threw it up the cliff with all her strength. flying right out of a crevice. Fiona thought with a feeling of horror. and more piles of seaweed. Then. distraught state. She moved farther back into a place of pitch darkness. and a fierce pain knitted her side when her eye lit on a pile of tumbled rocks and seaweed." Yes. Judge Blaize must possess that power. A gull. as Blaize disappeared from sight.So far. But then his lips had hurt her violently as his passion had surfaced. Even if the judge looked inside. The beach curved out of sight behind some giant boulders and Fiona ran faster. . And something else. she pushed aside the seaweed and saw that the beach was deserted. Would anyone believe her side of the story? It seemed unlikely. Fiona crouched in the dark cave a long time. the sun now past its zenith. 'Tis said you can be put into a trancelike state in which you feel no pain. powerful figure in town. At first he had looked young and handsome. Quick as lightning. Her lungs labored. straining every sense to be alert. while Judge Blaize was an honored. she had almost been overpowered. caused by the trials and by being hurt by Giles and Grace. All was silent. making a sign that she probably had clambered up the bluff. appeared between two boulders. his mind directing hers? At last. "and 'tis claimed he has discovered an extraordinary force in human beings which allows some people to have a powerful influence over others. had seemed so kind« was that all part of the trance he had induced in her. Her senses had returned to normal. covering her face with both hands. unable to discern what she had recently experienced. She drew back the seaweed and pushed inside the cleft. It landed neatly on a bush." her father told them. She already was a suspect as well as a stranger. She smothered a sob of dismay. she had been able to stay ahead. Could there be a cave in there? For the moment. thinking. finding herself in a deep cave filled with stones. perhaps. It was time for chores and for facing Grace with calm self-assurance²and time. pools. Mouse-still. she recalled a strange thing her father had once related. like a curtain parting. she didn't think he would see her. Yes! A slender opening. to reconsider Giles. her legs trembled. In her weakened. almost dazed. He had just returned from a cargo run to the towns along the Black Sea and said he had heard talk of an amazing man. almost obscured by a veil of seaweed. she huddled down against the ground. "He is a physician called Mesmer.
" Fiona's hand flew to her neckline. That was her weakness. She felt an embarrassed color flood her cheeks which Grace was quick to note with a thin smile. It would not be easy." Fiona said. Fiona thought with a bitter little smile. but she knew what folly that would be. He must have yearned to have a woman after eight long weeks at sea. she turned the problem over in her mind. "Just don't spill it like you did before. or something else? She had heard no talk of a betrothal yet. The best thing was to avoid Giles in the future and push the memory of his lovemaking from her mind. was anything easy here in Salem? Chapter 12 When Fiona entered Aunt Mercy's house. seeing a bowl of grain made ready on the sink. A few more suspicious actions on her part and she might find herself in real trouble. But then. but the likelihood existed. Her eyes narrowed and she moved closer. Was it out of an old loyalty. . only Grace was in the kitchen. he was too honorable to take advantage of her. Perhaps I should really scare her and pretend to be a witch. Fiona had a fleeting thought that perhaps Grace enjoyed pummeling the white mass as though it were a person. he had agreed to take her berrying. Leaving the cave to collect her shoes. perhaps afraid of where they would lead an innocent young miss. Attraction² that was his strength. your dress is buttoned crookedly. Grace shot a quick glance across her shoulder. The recent witch trial had shown her what could happen to an innocent person. "I'll go feed the hens.Those days and nights on shipboard. "Say. and though he realized she was attracted to him. what had they really meant to him? Was it merely a casual flirtation? He had seemed to withhold his deepest feelings. Fiona wondered sadly how deeply he was tied to Grace." Grace growled. looking at Fiona as though she feared some kind of retribution for making her change berrying partners. When she asserted her claims. kneading a bowl of bread dough.
can you? I told you how it happened. then felt icy." Grace fell back. Who could tell a devil if he was in disguise? Perhaps Grace had come closer to the truth than she knew. calling her wanton. Tucking in her ragged collar and rebuttoning her dress." Grace's sudden coyness and boasting made Fiona ill. So be it. "Do you want me to tell Giles. la. . "Oh. I promise not to tell a soul. "Who? Who was it?" Grace hissed. Heavens. How Judge Blaize had forced her lips apart and put his hand inside her dress. the age-old sign for warding off a witch. she wondered uneasily if that were true. "Don't you make up any lies about me or I promise it will be the worse for you. Fiona picked up the basin of grain and turned toward the garden door. and everyone else about the strange way you looked when you came home?" Fiona rounded on her. "Just who have you been dallying with. "Giles²he²he has asked you to marry him?" Grace's manner changed abruptly and she giggled. "Don't hurt me² please! If you have embraced the devil. "Oh." Fiona swallowed against a sudden painful dryness in her throat. if Grace only knew what had really transpired. She stopped Fiona with a floury. if not Giles? Was it Charles?" "No. That's all! So watch your words and don't incur my anger. she might put her out of the house for a session in the stocks. This must be faced and accepted. You can never take a jest. I might wonder about you two. If I didn't know that Giles went to his surgery with a patient. fat hand upon her arm." Grace dug her fists against her waist and glared. I merely had an accident falling on some rocks." She swept out the door and started toward the henhouse." Fiona answered angrily. loud-voiced bully of a girl who didn't seem to have a single redeeming facet to her personality? But wait²there was her dowry."You look kissed. But Grace was not through with her yet. don't be silly. A tidy sum given to the groom on his wedding day would sweeten any marriage. How could Giles want this unattractive." She thrust out her first and little fingers. your mother. that will happen when he's sure I'll give him the right answer. I wouldn't know a devil if I met one face to face. her mouth slack. Not when I'm so close to saying 'yes' to him. Immediately. Her face flamed. Fiona regretted her foolish loss of control with Grace and she smoothed her features. If Aunt Mercy found out. As she scattered grain for the clucking fowls. "I've told Giles I won't stand any sparking with another girl.
From her mother's simpling. wouldn't his fury and revenge be boundless? "Fiona. As for the way he had changed himself at the beach and the powerful will he had exerted over her. could she withstand him. Mother. He was new in Salem." Fiona swallowed hard. "You would have been too upset. If the judge tried it again." "Of course not. dear." She dropped her voice and glanced around. was she accused?" "Accused and held for trial. Fiona strolled thoughtfully across the yard and leaned on the gate. The three of them had been too absorbed to notice. the magic possessed by mandrake and roots of briony. perhaps her father's tales of Mesmer could explain the whole thing. cruel-faced man who instilled such abject terror at the witch trials. There also was the haughty. Surely all were easy to obtain. The yard was empty. as was the road beyond. now young and handsome. It could have been the judge. Do you feel like telling me what happened?" . The judge might have learned the art of manipulating minds. Could anybody become a victim to enchantment without a potion to confuse the brain? Or had she been weaker today because she had needed praise and male attention? She had been so miserable. If she led him on. Maybe he spied on people in order to hoard nuggets of information which might prove useful in making them obey his will. A little voice inside her warned that this might be extremely dangerous. she knew of the soporific henbane and hemlock. what was there to fear? It might be worth confronting him. and you and I know that can't be true. There had been someone on the road when Grace and Giles had told her about the new berrying plans. He also had the ability to disguise himself. kind and sympathetic« then swiftly changing to an aroused and lusting beast.Was the judge allied somehow with Satan ? She considered all the evidence. Fiona shook her head. the awful pity of it! Let's sit down on this bench. He probably could make an innocent victim admit to anything before he was through with her. it was so dreadful!" "Heavens. even encouraging him. then spurned him in disgust. Grace said you went to a court hearing today. "They questioned Rebecca Nurse. Ah. now that she knew it was all a trick? If he was merely mortal. Perhaps he had no powers beyond a keen and nasty mind. everything about him could have a logical explanation. oh. On the other hand. domineering. and. doubting her own attractiveness. And then there was the drink. He had wealth and power usually bestowed on disciples of the Devil. just to find out what would happen. What happened? Did you not want me to accompany you?" Her mother spoke behind her. "I'm certain they will find her guilty.
Then Rebecca Nurse. Suspicion has been cast on you from several sources. and neither would you. In my opinion. Fiona related every word she could remember of the two upset-ting trials. Putnam testified. she withdrew a folded paper from which the seal had been broken. 'tis a brave lass you've always been. I'm sure. but steadfastly denying any guilt and beseeching her Maker for vindication. Ellen shook her head. Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam. I do. I'm sure you could be happy here in Boston and I have lots of room. First. Perhaps there is a way. I wrote to Samantha when we arrived and here. my dears. They screamed and writhed most convincingly. And now I hear there is grave trouble in Salem. and that's the sober truth of it. "At first. Both our lives are fraught with danger." Sitting close beneath the shady tree. I can hardly wait to see you. Matthew. . "Ah. How delighted I am to know that you both have come to America. I didn't believe a word she said. then. But the tide definitely turned against her when Mrs. But soon I want you both to visit me for as long as you care to stay. "I went to the village today and found the postal carrier had left some articles from Boston. It has a very bad reputation these days and I wish that you would leave."Yes. so bewildered at the charges leveled against her. swore that she was even then hurting them. the slattern. I am becoming so fearful²" "Now. daughter dear. now. although two of the children. she was just trying to be important. 'twould not have helped. Write soon. is her answer. My deepest sympathy for losing both your dear David and then his brother. She is the mother of Ann and looked sly and vindictive." From her pocket. and it might have harmed you vastly." Fiona took the proffered letter and read aloud: Dearest Ellen and Fiona. although circumstances have been sad for you. I contracted a chilling ague and am still weak and coughing." She then recounted the absurd dream while her mother listened gravely. Unfortunately. Fiona ended with a bitter regret that she hadn't said some word in Rebecca's defense. with her pathetic bravado while enduring the hissing and name-calling of the spectators. weak and ill. the people acted appalled that she'd been charged and seemed to think that she was innocent. confined to my bed and Tilly's constant care." "What can we do? Mother.
" "Ah. 'tis as I feared. a new doctor needs a good dowry to set him up in business. and take the sloop to Boston. and when she reminded him. She said²triumphantly²that Giles had promised long ago to take her. Fiona. but she firmed them quickly. Daughter. Charles is lots of fun. while all the while he« he«" "Aye. we should give Samantha a chance to be recovering. and naught will make me gainsay that. She had admired him so much on board the Seawynd. Pain engulfed her as she thought of Giles. trying to hide her anguish. We can stay with Samantha 'til we're settled. She knew beyond a doubt that she had fallen in love with him and had longed desperately to hear a like response from him. as well as cute. Here might be the answer to their main problem. I won't say you will soon forget Giles. the one cow gave a drawn-out moan." Her voice thickened. there was Grace. we'll pack our clothes in a few days. I was starting to take Giles seriously. with a garden and a dog or cat. dear. I thought you did no' like the idea of leaving Giles. "But you surprise me. Robins chirped and flew about. where he had displayed such tireless. today I met him« and Grace was hanging on his arm as though she owned him." Fiona couldn't sound enthusiastic and leaned her head against her mother's shoulder while they both sat silently. even-tempered dedication to all the groaning sufferers. wouldn't you?" "Yes. Samantha. "Remember I told you that Giles was taking me to the berrying? Well. "Oh. "And as soon as possible. he agreed and suggested I go with his brother. You'd like that. Your Cousin. Charles. then find a wee cottage of our own. No longer could she hope for any future with Giles." Fiona's lips trembled." Her mother sighed. changed your mind?" Fiona drew a deep breath. " 'Tis glad I am you're taking it so well." her mother answered gently. Companionship had grown steadily between them until she had seen desire well up in him to equal hers²or so she'd thought²and he had kissed her²perhaps even when he knew it wasn't right and would end in his regret. but he had never made a declaration and at last now she knew the reason why. What.My fondest love. hens clucked. Grace had seen to that." Fiona burst out. A fine young man he is in truth. Mother. then. Fiona felt a rush of deep relief. "I don't care. "Trouble is. reminding Fiona of the night they had . bid everyone farewell. let us go to Boston. Though he's drawn to you.
I'll just fetch my wee basket and a bonnet. She looked so bright and cheerful. a fringed shawl fluttering about her slender shoulders. indeed Fiona has told me much about you. "Oh. I would have married him if he had asked me." She waved to the smiling girl who approached eagerly." Fiona burst out." "He's taking Grace. he was so good to me. "I'm pleased to meet you. gritting her teeth. I suppose he didn't know what it might hold for him." Her cheeks colored as though she dwelt on days of tender kindness and nights of rapturous romance. "A very pretty young lady. I was fifteen. "Before he went away. Prescott. so sweet. and when I went to Giles in trouble. Giles might have courted Grace. How glad she had been to see Giles again. "Fiona told me that you know the art of simpling. Oliver and I fell deep in love and he is wonderful to me.arrived in Salem and thought dark spirits might be about." As soon as they were alone. now. "Whist. but I certainly didn't know about it. hinting that they might be witches." Sally beamed. especially Grace and me. someone's coming in the gate." Sally didn't smile. Five years ago. we were all very young. a basket on her arm. Sally asked. "I don't understand. Fiona felt her spirits lighten as she introduced her mother." her mother exclaimed. I was glad. Of course. although Grace had been possessive and unpleasant to them even then. Mrs. I felt certain«" When Fiona didn't answer. it's Sally Woods. Sally went on slowly. that I would. Do you know her?" Fiona straightened up. he looked at you often and seemed extremely interested in anything you said or did. "I expect you will be going to the berrying tomorrow?" "Yes. I imagine he has some patient scheduled. Would you care to accompany me on an herb-gathering expedition in the woods?" "Thank you. and afterward. "Grace?" "You're beginning to sound like a parrot my father once brought home from the South Seas." "Charles?" Sally raised her eyebrows. as I do. With Charles. At my home the other night. But he sailed away without a word about the future. . "I thought surely²that is²what about Giles? Can't he go? Oh. when I met Oliver.
Did you two have a falling out?" . like his brother. yesterday«" Charles shrugged his stocky shoulders. "This is wonderful luck for me. chattering to Fiona's mother. Sally. Charles. No use giving that Grace something to snicker about. "Oh. But how could he want Grace. she feared that tomorrow would be as bad« because tomorrow was the berrying. Of course." Fiona whispered. I'm just going to enjoy my good fortune." With a light pat. he just said. something good was happening. He probably wished to speak about the picnic. She looks so sweet and pretty²just like you. "Not a bit. anyway. who sent Fiona a keen glance and waved before she followed her sprightly young companion. my little Irish beauty?" Fiona laughed. at least. here comes Mrs. I was delighted. that he'd forgotten he had promised to take Grace and asked if I would go instead with his brother. instead of you? Oh. Fiona. eyeing Fiona up and down." Fiona tossed her head. well. "Giles said that he was taking Grace. of all people! And would I mind escorting you. he wasn't about to decline her company. Sally ran across the garden and walked away. his brown eyes on a level with her own. and in spite of her brave words. glad to see that he was smiling when he reached out to clasp her arms with both his hands." Charles beamed. Who knew what other girls might be coaxing Charles to take them? He must be very popular. "Well. rose to meet him. naturally I agreed. But Giles said he was going to the picnic with the most wonderful girl in Salem. Well. "I hope you didn't mind the last-minute arrangements between Giles and me. glad to see that here. Hearing the gate creak. I intend to have a good time with Charles. "Then²then why did he change his mind? Did you two quarrel?" "No. I'll see you there. dusting off her hands. well." Charles laughed. I guessed that it was you. Fiona sat back on her heels and saw Charles Harmon approach her with a jaunty stride. the stalks getting tall and thick with feathery tops or tender green leaves. who is a delightful boy. I'll show Grace and Giles that I am certainly not pining. "Mind! Why. although I'm curious. I was hoping to promote something ever since I met you. Fiona brushed the pile of weeds away and. Giles did ask me to the berrying and I said I would love to go and planned to pack a basket for just the two of us. Fiona settled down to weed her vegetable patch." "Bravo! That's the best way to act. sweetheart."I envy you. but then. Prescott. You and I are going to have a grand time." Sally stared. and she hoped that. It had been a most disturbing day. with his teasing warmth and merry face. Ah." "Indeed we are. trying to hold back a tear and giving a quick swipe at her cheek. sounding very curt.
Fiona thought. "I would have²" "But then today I met Giles out walking with Grace and they said there had been a change of plans. "Did Giles say why?" "Only that he had forgotten a prior promise to take Grace." Beaming." Charles's boyish brow knit perplexedly. "Aw. Aunt Mercy baked raisin nut cakes last night and there are plenty left. She would like Giles to be happy. Not yet. "Come in and have a glass of milk. Charles bounded in beside her. I'm like an enterprising bee." Fiona gave a mock sigh and shook her head. "Maybe when I am as old as Giles«" You'll never be like Giles. summoning a bright smile. No matter that it was the usual custom. and Grace would never let him back down if he had really promised her. she hoped he would find another girl. . I'd say."Sally just asked me that. someone nice and sweet²who also had a dowry. I see. she said to Charles." Charles chuckled. you know. and since there was no use hoping it could be with her. and she was extremely selfish and had a waspish temper. it was Giles's affair. "Who cares? I'm just happy you want to go with me." Fiona forced a laugh." "Oh. Just look where it's landed him." Charles grinned. Could Grace ever make him love her? Her mind was not in tune with his. but only for a second. the girls know I love them all and don't take any one too seriously. tasting all the honey that I can. However. Not anymore. not hers. Why couldn't Giles find someone else? Well. and the answer is no. He had been back only a short time. At first I agreed to go with Giles because no one else had asked me. "I feel sorry for him. Her person was unattractive. "I pity the girl who hopes to win your heart forever. and he hadn't proposed to Grace as yet. perhaps he would. but²" Charles made a choked sound. Fiona thought wistfully. Are you sure you didn't break some other lassie's heart?" Charles looked a trifle guilty. Big brother is the soul of honor. and knew a flare of anger that Giles favored Grace just for her money. Aloud. There's such a thing as being too honorable.
"I'm sorry to be late. chicken pies. apple tarts«" "Shame on you. "Anyway. "Aunt Mercy said it should be a surprise. pickles. slowpoke." She gave Giles a playful dig with her elbow. Didn't I tell you²" The rest of her words were lost as the roadside trees cut them off from view. She and Charles were almost the last ones to arrive in the woods. All the best berry patches will be taken. Fiona peeped down at them from her attic window." Fiona answered pertly. I just arrived myself." When she handed him the basket. . Charles. slowly packing the straw picnic basket. She had purposely delayed their departure. tell Fiona to hurry up. she would make the best of things and see that Charles enjoyed her company. tying on her sunbonnet. but I won't tell you. while Grace tugged impatiently at his arm. "Come on. may I ask?" "You may ask.Chapter 13 The day of the picnic dawned bright and clear. Who would think pink gingham would look perfect with red hair? I can hardly wait to show you off to the rest of the crowd. leaving the kitchen when she saw Giles coming. It was not his fault that he was second choice. "You know. "Forget about her." Grace jerked at his arm. "Charles. Giles hung back. which he ignored." Charles's eyes gave her an admiring sweep." she cried. you would be worth waiting for. As long as she could avoid Giles. and staying upstairs until he had been led away by a boisterous. the others will all get ahead of us. I smell ham. "I'm ready now." Fiona laughed and tried to snatch the basket from him." "You're not." she said breathlessly. triumphant Grace. staring at the house. lovey? And what is in it. His brother arrived just then and Giles called to him. Where's the lunch basket. "Umm. he peeked beneath the checkered napkin before she could stop him. and Fiona felt her spirits rise to meet the challenge it held. Fiona hurried down the stairs. the lad who picks the most berries gets a kiss from the girl of his choice.
Probably Grace. a tally was marked by one of the girls on a slate. Sally greeted everyone in her usual friendly manner. Fiona had to laugh. and friendly to Fiona. Several young ladies passed by and all smiled or simpered at Charles's handsome. in their late teens or early twenties. He grinned and winked at every one of them. ." "I'm glad to hear that." "Fiona. He probably had come only to please his young wife. Alas. There was no sign of the afflicted girls. setting off with one hand clasping her arm possessively." Oliver glowered at him and the lad slid off quickly to his berrying."Yes. and to Fiona's relief. I'm shameless when it comes to girls and food. The competition waged keen as plots were plundered and canes stripped bare. I always like the girl I'm with the best." Fiona gave him a laughing shove. normal group today. Come on. even here the witchcraft rumors hovered. if you were a girl. and when one was filled. "If we don't hurry. "That's not so. you silly boy. The berries grew everywhere« in the nearby meadows. who looked rather out of place. Strawberries fully two inches long hid beneath their bright green leaves and huge blueberries weighed canes clear down to the ground. and under trees. but some of the people cast rather wary glances at her and one youth made a remark about some girls who had "pet wolves." Charles admitted jauntily. laughing. But then this was disproved when Sally arrived with Oliver. Everyone was given a woven basket." His arm slid around her waist. either. there won't be any berries left at all. had dragged him off to a secluded spot. along a stream. Fiona was surprised that there existed a different element here in Salem which seemed normal and wholesome. This was just a merry. Giles and Grace were not in view. Perhaps they came from a more outlying district and it was the townspeople who concentrated on the witch hunt. jealous as always. although their escorts shouted good-natured insults. Most of them were young. merry face. Fiona had never seen such fruit. There appeared to be around a dozen couples. you know that I intend to pick the most berries so I'll get a kiss from you. calling back and forth." His brown eyes grew round. you would be called a flirt. no one takes me seriously." Charles caught her hand and they raced down the sunny road to the woods where they could hear shouts and laughter. don't you think we ought to practice once or twice so that we can get it right?" "No. "Say. "Charles." "Aw. since he was so much older than the rest.
and today is awfully warm. The bushes suddenly parted. just as it always did when he was near. the leaves rustling overhead in the breeze. "I²I have to get some water. aware that her pulse raced furiously. cupped them and drank some of the reviving water. his damp skin shining in the dappled sunlight. and tried to pass him. flopped down by the stream. and for a long moment. He came to the house this morning and picked her up. The cool. An urge to stroke the muscled satin of his skin swept over her . glad for a respite from scratched hands and aching back. No one else was about. One of the girls put a pail into Fiona's hands." Fiona quickly looked away her heartbeat quickening. The rich. That was the last I saw of them. the sun grew hot and the fun became less boisterous. He was so close she could smell his male aroma and see the droplets quivering on his black chest hair. passing the boxes where the berries were dumped after a record had been made of the individual number of baskets picked. clear water chuckled across a rocky bed. but he stepped in front of her. The only sounds were the chattering brook." she said hurriedly. their eyes clung wordlessly. "Where are Giles and Grace?" Fiona tried to look indifferent. and to Fiona's consternation. Fiona was forced to follow him. and his black hair plastered wetly to his brow. and splashed his face and arms before drinking thirstily." Her eyes roved around the clearing. bare-chested. Giles faced her." "Certainly. dropping an armload of mulberry leaves to cover the fruit. Giles pulled off his shirt. heady perfume of the fruit attracted a lot of bees and Fiona was relieved that they were not placed near the picnic area. her hands shaking." He plucked the pail out of her limp hand and inarched off in the direction of the stream.Sally drew Fiona aside and murmured. "Are you having fun? I see Charles is working hard to be the winner. "I'll get it. Giles. He gave Fiona a startled glance as he straightened up. waving to Fiona. the chirp of birds. His white shirt fell open to his waist." Fiona exhaled a deep breath. Giles appeared. She flung off her bonnet and pushed through the trees." Sally seemed about to speak. sending up a misty spray into the air. "Will you get some water at the stream? We always need more lemonade. "I'll see you later." As the morning wore on. Then he filled the pail and stood watching silently while Fiona. When she stood up. "Hello. but Oliver called her and she hurried off. the sleeves rolled up above the elbow. "I have no idea. "Fiona²" he began.
that's all. I couldn't help what happened. cold and wet. my little Irish rose?" Giles threw him a murderous glance which Charles blithely ignored. If only I could touch you²" "Why are you speaking to me like this?" Fiona interrupted in a choked voice. "No. remember? 'The most wonderful girl in Salem. Don't try to flirt with me. At his touch. She couldn't seem able to tear her eyes away and became aware that Giles was also devouring every inch of her. "Fiona. but²" "Who's angry? You simply changed your mind. "Fiona. All you did was ask if I would take Fiona. I don't care in the least. the woods. stepped close. and caught her arms. "I didn't mean Grace. "you look so lovely²all warm and pink. came down on hers. She's my girl today. the barrier of Grace² all swept from Fiona's mind and she returned his kisses boldly. smothering her soft cry. We're having a great time. So he had said that about Grace? Fiona felt the blood rush to her face. his voice a hoarse entreaty. he grabbed her wrist. unhand her. "Really? What did Grace do? Point a pistol at your head?" Setting down the pail. and you know it. "Give me the pail." She gave a trill of laughter.' isn't that what you called her?" Charles giggled roguishly. for God's sake!" His mouth." "Really? When I repeated your words in front of her. "What for?" "I don't blame you for being angry." he said thickly. Giles rounded on his brother. You're with Grace.with a sudden dizzy force. Giles following silently with the pail. . With a possessive arm around Fiona's waist." "Fiona. But then a twig snapped and Charles bounded through the trees. And what a happy chance for me. Charles is a lot of fun." Her voice hardened. "You are escorting someone else. he shrugged into his shirt. I didn't hear you deny it. Giles. aren't we." Instead. he marched her back to the picnic area. no. the crowd. "Fiona²wait a minute²" She jerked away.
"Listen. sharing a big checkered tablecloth. salads. Fiona's mouth tightened. let's eat lunch. she couldn't help but glance at him as he lounged at Grace's side. . He rolled over and turned his back on Fiona. "Oh. Charles. his face an unreadable mask." Fiona laughed." "The girl who kept the tally said I had a good chance. not caring if some people looked askance at his public display of affection.The girls had selected a picnic spot and began to set out food: sliced pink ham. "Fiona. Giles and Grace were not close by." Since Giles was in her line of vision. "If you're hungry. and to the accompaniment of much joking and laughter from the crowd. black hair tangled on his brow. She felt grateful for being a part of Charles's and Sally's banter. but Sally and Oliver sat across from Fiona and Charles. Her mind kept going over and over Giles's every word and expression. he didn't look up. Oliver looked on indulgently and finally stretched out with his head in his wife's lap. baked chicken. Fiona shrugged off his arm. Had he been trying to apologize for switching partners? Her breath caught in her throat as she remembered how he had looked." With a little laugh. although she laughed with the rest. she devoted herself to Charles and the rest of the merry group around her. his eyes swept up. "That looks nice. tarts. boiled eggs." Charles said smugly. although everyone else yelled and clapped. Charles pulled Fiona up into his arms. Giles glanced across at them. and cookies. disturbing moment. strawberry-flavored kiss upon her lips. pickles. It hadn't taken much until he pulled her yielding body close and took her lips with his. could I²" "No. In spite of being partnered. and from then on. then stared down at the ground. A good-humored atmosphere pervaded the scene and Fiona found herself responding. gray eyes devouring her slender-ness outlined in pink gingham. he gave her a long. holding Fiona's gaze for a long. she dragged her thoughts away from Giles just as Charles leaned closer and slid his arm around her waist. Difficult as it was. his skin warm and damp." he whispered in her ear. sweetheart²for an encore. Suddenly. giving him a shove. "That kiss made me hungry. behave. I think they are going to announce who has picked the most fruit. and when Charles was announced the winner. and all kinds of bread. moving closer. his head supported on one hand. everyone sat together in the grassy shade of a daisy-carpeted clearing. Fiona hardly felt it." Charles said. Then Grace flashed him an angry look and bent to whisper in his ear.
" Sally remarked. somewhat to Fiona's disappointment.' and 'Thread the Needle. The girls are also starting up some games. Prescott seemed like a very sensible." Fiona murmured. of course not." Sally demurred. "She also gave me some warnings. but today a grassy meadow will have to do. clean and comfortable." "No. although Sally tried to join in from time to time with the animated conversation going on around them. However. Adjustments to living with someone who is practically a stranger can be difficult. "But it is a lovely experience." Sally smiled complacently. her table a place of wholesome. The wife also has her responsibility to keep the home a pleasant place. "I think they are going to play an Indian game called 'foot ball'. would she also have been on the receiving end of some hostility. They'll probably play 'Blind Man's Bluff. She knew the acts she should avoid until they were condoned by marriage and she blushed. Fiona thought uneasily." . seeing the occasional suspicious glances cast at Sally. "Well. Mrs. the witch hunt had cast its long shadow even here. Most girls seem so young before they're married. "There are so many things they don't know about a man until they wed. and their welfare and safety depend on him.' Do you want to join them? No? Neither do I. He is now responsible for a family. but he is older than I« experienced with women«" "But not with Grace. Giles and I saw a great deal of each other on the voyage and then resumed a close friendship here in Salem. "He never would compromise an innocent girl until they had an understanding. his hand pressing on her breast where the thin dress had been no barrier at all." Fiona plucked a daisy and stared at it. If she had not been partnered by Charles. Alas. and a few other men go off to the meadow with a large leather ball.Sally and Oliver sat a little apart. "I'm sure your mother has talked to you about the physical side of marriage. remembering how she had allowed the intimacy of Giles's warm tongue upon her own. She knows that²" Fiona cleared her throat. You can't expect those rapturous encounters to continue unabated as they do at first. Sally's mind dwelt on other aspects of the married state. I admit that he attracts me. 'I Sent a Letter to My Love. They watched Charles. I think I'm the only one here who is. "It's usually played barefoot on the sand. Sally came to sit by Fiona. "A husband is still just a man with other matters on his mind besides lovemaking. loving mother when we went on our herb gathering." "Such as?" Fiona suddenly felt curious. Giles. A young married woman probably could tell her things that her mother's careful instruction would have avoided out of a sense of delicacy. tasty food. Fiona wondered? When Oliver returned to town. is it not? Being wed to one you love?" Sally gave her a merry glance." "She has told me the basics.
"Giles has acted as though he liked me and found me attractive. His home was beautiful. in love or not." Fiona looked up at the hard note which had crept into Sally's voice. and Grace has one. A young doctor needs a dowry. Don't feel embarrassed. When I was ten. Everyone on board was very kind. I feel that I can trust you and that you are my friend. That is the way of life when you are young. That's why I can't understand«" Her voice trailed off. he was like a favorite uncle. one man in particular. Fiona. "I think he intends to marry her. being as pretty as you are« well. I was merely grateful for his attentions. I don't. "Your face is fiery. it can be a danger. Then he grew bolder. When we landed in Boston. he asked if I would like to live with him and become his ward. Believe me. "If it's too painful. I am your friend. his eyes followed you whenever possible. He was fairly young. You can't always help yourself. then looked squarely at Sally." Suddenly. all of which helped to ease the sad loss of my parents. pray. "Why he escorted Grace today?" Fiona sighed deeply. I can say I was a pretty child. the likes of which I'd never known: toys. he greeted me with sweetmeats and kisses. As for me. a dear old nurse to be my nanny. "Without conceit. I know. "You certainly are pretty. You were really getting serious about him?" Fiona nodded slowly. don't continue. Sally seemed to come to a decision. wealthy²important." Sally placed her hand upon Fiona's arm. and after a quick survey. which were always kind and gentle. books." Fiona begged her." Fiona plucked another daisy. and sometimes. I was overwhelmed and readily agreed. He frightened me²" She swallowed hard and clenched her hands. . Have you ever found it was a problem?" There was no one within hearing distance." Sally sent her a troubled glance. And even today. "For several years. with a garden full of fruit and flowers. Everyone stood in awe of his demands. silken gowns. and I thought his face looked« tortured. I let him kiss me. I could see it when you came to supper. He heaped fine things on me. "I know I don't have to ask you to keep this conversation confidential."So you don't think he and Grace²" "I'd swear he seems more interested in you. "I'm sorry. and every day when I came home. Several times." "Of course you can." "Soon I went to a young ladies' school. Sally's face flamed and her voice thickened. my parents died at sea and I was left alone. it seemed to me.
her curiosity had been aroused and she didn't interrupt again. and it filled me with terror. and is no relative to you. certain that Sally had been the victim of a man's unbridled lust. and then find Nanny. but by then I feared and hated him with all my soul. All I could do was beg him for more time« and then« at last the time ran out. "You haven't heard it all. He is not your father. He is a mature man. he would fling me on a couch or chair and demand that I agree to wed him on my next birthday. Chapter 14 . We wept together. I had seen his unbridled temper sometimes directed at a servant. not now." Fiona exclaimed. But nothing stopped him. I tried to stay later at school. and sometimes I heard her shouting at him about me. "She said to me: 'You are too big to sit so long upon his lap." With that. alone and friendless?" Sally brushed her hand across her eyes. "The rest makes me so ashamed²" "Oh. Friends should have no secrets from each other. the young men returned from their game. Someday. "You were not to blame. before Sally could continue. and everyone prepared to leave. However. has no wife. However." Sally continued in a low tone. How could you help yourself." Sally whispered quickly. she disappeared to get her berries and Charles approached to escort Fiona home.' Nanny said he couldn't fire her but would not tell me why. but I didn't dare let him know how he affected me.Sally shook her head. and my tale shows how innocence can engulf a maid in shame and tragedy not of her making." "I was fourteen when he declared he wished to marry me. don't be. perhaps I'll tell you." Fiona's hand flew to her mouth and her heart pounded. "Nanny tried to warn me. "I can't tell you any more. If I tried to leave the room when he was there. "I promised I'd tell you my poor story and this is a good time." Fiona dreaded what she was about to hear. She dreaded what she was about to hear. and he doesn't act like one. the girls broke up their circle." "Soon my life became a nightmare. sneak into the house.
but Charles overrode her stumbling words. he picked up his load of fruit and headed down the road." With a jaunty wave. "Who knows? You might come to admire me as much as you do Giles. dangerous sea voyage brought us together and I looked to him constantly for reassurance. A man who had first lulled her with gifts and affection. but²" He sighed and shrugged. his roguish eyes for once quite serious. his glance was almost pitying. Who would have imagined such a sweet girl could have been mixed up in such a sordid tale? Had Sally been ravished? Did she have to marry the fiend. "I know how you must have felt. but not enough to curb his vile appetite for Sally. She ate a couple of berries while staring thoughtfully out the kitchen window." He grinned. I wish I could say that he isn't serious about Grace. Fiona. but your eyes on Giles betrayed you. "It's just the way things are. Perhaps I. then. Charles beamed and returned her salutation with interest. "It was hard on you. What hold did Nanny have over her master so that he couldn't dismiss her? Did she know of some previous misdeeds he had committed? He evidently had been afraid of her up to a certain point." Charles had a wonderful talent for making people happy. Fiona entered the kitchen and placed her box of fragrant strawberries in a large wooden bowl. There were so many unanswered questions. find solace with Oliver? The poor little thing. "Thank you. You tried hard. Her mind veered from Giles and Grace as she recalled the terrible story she had just heard from Sally. Thank you for escorting me. just as his did on you. at the mercy of the man who became her guardian. grasping her pink-clad shoulders and pressing his lips fervently to hers. so ready to be merry and friendly. Now there's this disturbing trouble here in Salem and I still« turn to him. "I think you're a delightful fellow. if necessary." Fiona murmured.When Charles left Fiona at Aunt Mercy's. when he died. "I'll see you soon." She gave him a quick kiss on his round young cheek. ." "I'm sure Giles will come to your aid. wasn't it? Seeing Giles and Grace together?" She started to protest. betrayed her trust the way only a hardened rake would do." "You could be right. tossing aside his gravity like a garment in which he felt uncomfortable. as she'd matured. That long. "I know. could be a hero. my little Irish treasure. and then. and I really did enjoy the picnic. had been alone in the world. If only she could have heard the end of Sally's story. too. Still smiling." Fiona forced a laugh. Charles.
casting spells. too?" "No." "And of course. my dear? Was it a good time you had?" Although she smiled." Fiona answered heartily. Then another idea struck Fiona and she caught her breath. "Sally told me a most disturbing tale today about her early life in Boston." Fiona nodded thoughtfully." . She said Tituba told her that she knew voodoo. they'll be finding guilty people. Fiona heard her mother's voice as she came into the kitchen. powders to bring love." her mother remarked dryly. I heard all of them were called out of town to investigate a witch hunt somewhere else. but then she gave a rueful sigh. "Was there any talk about the trials?" "I didn't hear any.Fiona vowed to see her as soon as possible and learn the ending. Such a shameful incident might be easier told to another female than to a man." Fiona frowned and looked away uneasily. fortune telling. that child should be more careful. Sally had not said that her guardian was dead. but some suspicious looks were cast at Sally. even if he was your husband. "How was the berrying. "That is« part of the time. and everyone else was very friendly.' " "Oh dear Lord. 'Tis fine to show kindness to a starving animal. beloved wife. Not yet. Did he know where she was? He would have no legal control over her. "I wonder where she learned such strange things?" From Nanny? Or her guardian'? "Sally told me when we were herb gathering that often and often she met Tituba in those woods. success« I'm thinking she should not dabble in such matters." "The afflicted girls²were they there. since she was now twenty-one. yes. a length of knitting in her hands. but his aim might still be revenge. And then there was Nanny²what had become of her? How frustrating all these unanswered questions were! With a feeling of relief. learned in Barbados where she'd been born. "Oh. Had Sally told him of her history? Maybe« maybe not." "I wonder if that slave taught Sally some of her secret skills. both of them seeking special plants. She whispered 'twas a place of many witch doctors and practitioners of the Black Arts. bravery. but I fear I can't divulge it. thank goodness. Charles is sweet and fun to be with. and suchlike. They do say as how Sally makes odd potions. along with a whisper about her 'pet wolf. Whatever had occurred. but she may put her life in danger from the witch hunters. and probably Oliver would protect her with his life. she was now a happy. her eyes looked anxious.
but she told me once that Giles had helped her through a difficult time. Did they seem« um«" "In love?" Fiona flushed and looked away." Fiona raised her chin. When we were alone for a few minutes. what a wonderful day I had! Of course. Grace seemed to have a hold over Giles and was doing everything in her power to bind him to her." "I wish they'd stay away permanently." Her mother started to speak. he seemed upset and insisted he couldn't help the way things had turned out and he didn't blame me for being angry." "Did you see Giles today? Did he speak to you?" "Yes. Giles seemed just the way he usually is around her: grave and courteous." She looked triumphantly at Fiona. "You probably kissed him first. Sally has evidently risen above the tragedy and made a happy marriage.Ellen Prescott drew in her breath. I don't see any sign of Giles. "What a nice bowl of strawberries. but glancing out the window. "I did not. is it anything that could bring harm if you continued to befriend her?" "I don't see how. Grace burst in the door and flopped into a chair. I think those witch-hunting children are a bad influence on the whole town. They have become so famous as witch hunters that other towns constantly beseech their services. but he kissed me anyway. long and sweet. she didn't say." She wondered if Grace was telling the truth. We'll have some for supper. lass." . "Who cares? I'm sure I don't. Alas. "Oh. Grace is coming now with Mercy following behind her on the path." Fiona exclaimed." " 'Tis glad I am of that. "Whisht." The next minute. No witch trials in session. Giles didn't pick the largest number of berries. "Oh. he did. "I told him I wasn't angry and Charles was a lot of fun²which was true. "Grace was hanging on him. giving me fierce looks. she exclaimed." Fiona sneered. Aunt Mercy trotted to the bowl of berries by the window. my day was most unprofitable. but I know 'twas hard on you. seeing Giles there with Grace. The afflicted girls are trying to unearth Satan's creatures elsewhere. "It was so nice meeting normal girls today at the berrying. Fiona shrugged. Whether Oliver knows. He went off to play a game with the other men as soon as possible. It's all in the past." Grace shouted.
" Fiona felt the blood drain from her face and for the life of her." Grace flamed. He hissed at me today when I kicked him out of the way. Grace whirled around. and he said he has to ask me something. They might say you are bewitching the young men. "Why. "I don't like the animal. "Niece. So would I. It's a good thing the deacons weren't around. You know what that is. hands bunched on her hips. Why? Do you think we stole some from another basket?" Grace shot her a venemous glance. don't you." She cast a fearful glance into the shadows. "Otherwise. just then a fight erupted between Grace and Mercy." Aunt Mercy gasped. and so do I. Fiona said you knew what to do. filling the air with shouts and anger. Can't you think of anything but witches?" Aunt Mercy looked shocked. can one of your salves fix the sores on my face? When you first came. watch your words! Do you want to bring down censure on us all?" "I'm going to tell Giles how you ridicule our sainted girls. "You still want Giles. "That black cat's still around. Grace²you." Grace walked over to the berries and plopped one into her mouth. Fortunately. I would shoo him off the premises." "I don't know who is worse. missy? Well." Aunt Mercy said. "He probably thinks the same as I do. We're walking out tonight. Well." Fiona snapped. I want something before the wedding. feeling worse than she ever had in her whole life." Wedding! Fiona clenched her hands upon the table's edge. or the Silly Seven. "Aunt Ellen." Grace snarled. I've got him right where I want him. "There are plenty of strange things going on right here. He certainly gave you a long kiss when he won. she couldn't say a word. now's the time. but he does catch a lot of mice. those girls do more than anybody to discover strange things in our town. "Charles might do a lot to get a kiss from you."What an awful thing to say." "No wonder he hissed. You really don't understand him at all²" Grace tossed her head. "Did you and Charles really pick all these?" "Certainly. .
"Y-yes. 'tis no gingseng. Do you not agree?" . since we don't have your mother's permission. but the look she sent her sister-in-law was filled with doubt and anger. "Giles always had an eye for a pretty new face. I could try a brew²" "Absolutely not!" "Grace. but perhaps Grace knows him better. We could have a pancake supper with the berries. all right. I want to leave this place and try to forget Giles." Aunt Mercy shouted. In the process. We cannot impose. intelligent. "Grace. and trustworthy. Oh. "Ellen. leave it all to me. being serious. My head is pounding. I thought him to be all those things. no." " 'Tis jealous." Mercy moaned." Fiona's mother tried explaining. 'Tis bad enough. child. was that all it meant to Giles? A pretty new face to flirt with?" "No. she even hurled a copper pan across the room." Ellen told her soothingly." "Well." With victory in her grasp. trying to subdue her tears. see if there are any eggs out in the barn. He is not a man to treat girls lightly. but then it passed away. we better not be after trying²" Grace immediately threw a tantrum. dear. Aunt Mercy finally gave in. she is." "All right. and wants to hurt you. accepting Mercy's reluctant hospitality. "Oh. Ma. How soon do you think we could go to Boston?" "I'm thinking we should wait for another letter from Samantha and be sure she's well enough for a visit. "I must lie down. she's succeeded." Tight-lipped. Grace purred smugly. Have you no' seen that in him?" Fiona wiped her eyes. We won't do that again. I'd swear that wasn't all." As soon as they were alone." she roared. I forbid you to make any of your heathen gingseng preparations for my child!" "Nay. One time it was Sally. "I'll show you everything I put in the salve."There'll be no potion making in my house. Fiona turned to her mother." As she passed Fiona. "Right now! For Giles. "I want to look pretty. "Yes. denting it badly on the fireplace. she took the opportunity for one last jab. "Some of these herbs grow in your own woods. As it will with you.
So caring and sensible on the long sea voyage. You may recall that I mentioned this once before. perhaps a new life would open up for her. sweeping off a black-plumed hat." "Thank you. Prescott cast an inquiring glance toward Fiona." "Ah. Her astonished eyes widened as she beheld the tall. but when we go to Boston." Alas. "I would be very happy to attend. and I must also admit my eagerness to converse with new minds in our midst."Y-yes. Fiona turned from the window as her mother flung open the door with a graceful curtsey. I like to welcome strangers to our village in this manner. after a Sabbath service. 'Twould be most delightful. I felt. "Good day. gaping by the henhouse. or maybe care for children. "I have come to invite you both to dine with me tomorrow night. 'Twas so proud of you. was almost more than she could bear. we need only stay with Samantha until we find employment. thank you. but the trials have intruded on my private life. Would you be wanting to see Mercy Prescott? She is upstairs²" He bowed low. Judge Blaize. her feelings not unmixed with apprehension. Groaning inwardly. but sensing uncertainty. she knew she must not dwell on what could never be« a future with dear Giles. blackgarbed figure. to help the ailing and the accidents. no doubt about it. the strength of eager arms and pulsing body straining against her own. Until then she must try to fill her mind with other matters. since Boston is so big and prosperous. And here was a distracting matter coming up the walk. rough journey. She had given her first love to Giles and finally his steady. 'tis a brave. day after day. I am sure." Mrs. dear girl you are. "My errand concerns only you and your daughter. I'm here now. especially those recently arrived from distant shores. That should not take long. decided for them both. I would have arranged it sooner. Now it would give me the utmost pleasure to have you in my home. Her mind awhirl. Fiona realized she could not deny her mother. who tossed a brief salutation to Grace. Your Honor. What did he want? Today he looked the epitome of dignity and courtesy. his voice a rich male timbre that caressed the ears. Fiona?" Panicked. No matter. Every day you fearlessly helped the sufferers and made not even a wee complaint about the tedious. I could work hard as a housemaid. She curtsied and said. gray-eyed gaze had kindled into a warm regard for her." . But now the memory of his ardent kisses. Mother. He then strode up to the door and knocked. Judge Blaize himself." Fiona could only stare. "Why. In a few days. mention of the voyage recalled to Fiona's mind the fine young doctor who had done so much more than she had.
he asked us to dine with him that Sabbath when we first attended Divine Service. "As a matter of fact. They all gaped at comfits of candied orange and lemon peel. Ah. Fiona drew herself up haughtily. He has brought my slight offerings. "Are you both being called up for witchcraft?" Her black eyes snapped with eager hope. I hear him at the door." Ellen exclaimed stoutly. specially grown red roses and a big box of imported sweetmeats." Fiona tossed her head. He's sending his servant to escort us in his carriage. The sweetmeats are ordered for me from Paris. he approached the table." He bowed once more." Ellen added. mouth agape. flew into the kitchen. "Not at all. Do you not recall that. where the judge relieved him of two large objects. clad like his master in black velvet. He invited my mother and me to dine with him tomorrow. "Away with you. "My servant. Fiona's mother reached for a cherry-covered confection and bit into it with a moan of pleasure. Grace?" Fiona remembered and her foolish fears abated. Bowing and bobbing his head. "D-dine? You two? Tomorrow? I don't believe it!" "You'll see. which I trust you will enjoy. a satincovered box." With an excited cry. Grace flew to the box and lifted up the beribboned lid. smiling." He followed his servant out the door. "Until we meet tomorrow. angelica shaped like tiny fruits. "I think he's heard rumors and he's suspicious of you both. and chocolate bonbons." .He bowed. Fiona and her mother peered beyond Grace's shoulder with equal curiosity to observe the contents nestled in lace paper. "Besides. then. "What did he want?" she squealed. This must have cost a pretty penny. you silly girl." The grinning dwarf entered. sugared nuts. "I grow the roses year-round in a heated garden room." Fiona struggled not to gasp. had the name of a Boston confectionery shop on its lid. "Once David brought me such a box and 'twas highly prized. Grace's eyes grew narrow. Fiona and her mother both thanked him with surprise and pleasure as he waved his hand indifferently. Tomorrow he'll question and probe and then decide if you should go before the magistrates. One was a bouquet of fragrant scarlet roses just emerging from the bud. will call for you at eight o'clock tomorrow. The other." "And we accepted. just look what he brought us. ignoring Grace who. Solbaid.
Grace stuffed several pieces into her mouth before shouting thickly up the stairs." Fiona snatched up the box. Perhaps the judge had tried to coax a response from her because he. who said you could²" As Grace raced from the room. skirts of modest fullness gathered to fitted waists. Her mother had a similar outfit. Both styles were simple: square necklines filled in with lacy fichus. a soft blue silk made from material her father had brought from China. When she didn't resist him strongly enough. 'tis passing strange. only in a deeper hue. do you? They will ask so many questions. Mother. she wondered if she should tell her mother about the strange behavior of Judge Blaize upon the beach. Surely he would have mentioned a wife in connection with the invitation. Could she have exaggerated it? The fear. However. . the excitement. "Really." her mother mused. clutching some of the candy. as they strolled into the garden. Chapter 15 Fiona had only one gown worthy of the judge's dinner. "Let them have what they want. With rising anticipation. I don't feel like discussing the judge's invitation with Aunt Mercy just now. Fiona's mother murmured. "Ma. Fiona's curiosity was strong and formed a barrier against the pain of Giles and Grace. I want to show you something. he had tried for more. and if informed of it." For a minute. was upset about the witch trials. Right now. her mother might rescind their acceptances.Without so much as a by-your-leave. let's take a walk. manlike. almost dreamlike. when she tried to sort it out. too. Grace. It was a rather shameful incident. She decided not to tell her mother. until she had fled in dismay. elbowlength sleeves. and I'm sure I don't have all the answers. come down. no matter how interpreted. 'Tis a small price to repay them for all our meals." "I guess you're right. the impression of his youth and handsomeness? Was that all a result of her longing to appear attractive to a man after Giles's rejection? She finally had to admit that now she wasn't really certain of anything about that day." "Indeed. the memory became cloudy. unreal. she engaged her mother in a discussion of what could be found to wear in their meager wardrobes. "I wonder if he has a wife and children?" "I don't think so.
With her hair brushed out in flaming curls, Fiona observed herself in the oval of polished tin upon the wall which mirrored her reflection in lieu of more expensive silvered glass. She looked clean and rosy from top to toe with only one thing wrong. Over the past year, the dress had grown tighter and her bosom stood out too provocatively. "Mother," Fiona moaned. "See how tight my gown became. I cannot wear this." Her mother laughed. "Faith, I thought your growing days were over. A shawl will help." Had Fiona been wrong to take this chance of visiting the judge? But what could possibly happen with her mother present? Stiffening her backbone, she spread the fichu higher over the full white curves. She then tied the gold doubloon around her throat, knotting the silken cord, hoping it would prove a distraction. "I haven't seen you wear that wee thing lately," her mother remarked. "Where has it been?" "In my reticule. The cord grew worn and I feared to wear it every day." " 'Tis an interesting object. So gracious of the governor to give it to you." She folded a crocheted shawl about her head and shoulders, Fiona doing likewise. " 'Tis chilly, we may be in such light wraps," her mother laughed, "but let us be elegant or die in the attempt." "Listen," Fiona broke in. "I think I hear a carriage." They both hurried to the window. "Yes, the judge's servant has come for us. My, what a beautiful conveyance, all red and gold, drawn by two black horses." "Whisht! We must go downstairs at once." Her mother sounded girlishly excited and Fiona felt her own expectations rise. What would this night bring? An elaborate feast, a gallant host in beautiful surroundings who would essay to entertain them charmingly? Or something darker, stranger? Whatever the outcome, Fiona felt her curiosity would sustain her. She felt strong and brave tonight and touched the gold coin as a talisman against anything alarming. However, she didn't think the judge would have invited her mother also if he'd had any evil plans. The very idea seemed laughable. When they entered the kitchen, Mercy and Grace eyed them both in astonishment. "Where did you get such finery?" Mercy exclaimed. " 'Tis scarcely the cloth of impoverishment such as you have claimed." "Perhaps 'twas payment for« services," Grace purred. Biting back an angry retort, Fiona trilled instead, "Do you believe we have a secret horde?"
Mrs. Prescott sent her a reproving glance, then went on to explain. "My husband brought us this silk from one of his trading expeditions. 'Twas not poverty stricken we were in those days, but with his death, all income ceased and our savings did not last long²" She was interrupted by a knocking at the door and the dwarf entered, bowing and grinning. He presented Mercy with a big basket filled with beautiful exotic fruits: oranges, pineapple, bananas, even grapes out of season. "Compliments of my master to the lovely lady of the house and her fine daughter." Grace and Mercy simpered and exclaimed over the basket, stopping to watch in awe when Fiona and her mother said goodnight and swept out the door to the waiting carriage. A liveried servant in black and silver held the horses in check, and after ushering the guests inside the coach, the dwarf climbed to a place on the rear box. Fiona and her mother stared in awe at the interior of the carriage, fitted like an exquisite little room with padded ruby velvet seats, silken drapes, golden cushions for their feet, and vials of roses on the walls perfuming all the air. "Begorrah!" Ellen whispered. Fiona bounced from side to side, pointing out the pictures on the ceiling, the golden oiled cloth at the windows, and finally, a flacon of wine in a gilded cask beside two silver goblets. "Look, Mother, the goblets²one has my name on it, the other one says 'Ellen.' Oh, what does it mean?" "I think it means we are to take a sip o' wine." Her mother poured a little sparkling liquid into each goblet. "Try it. The aroma is certainly divine." She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. "Ah, the fragrance takes me back to a summer day with David beside the sea« warm sun, azure sky, the roses David brought me« we ate our lunch, drank some golden wine like this, and then« lay down upon the sand." Smiling, she gazed dreamily into space. Cautiously, Fiona took a sip. The brew was sweet, yet spicy, sparkling, yet soft upon the tongue. It did smell of flowers and also of the sea, and Fiona recalled the day on the beach when Nicholas Blaize had kissed her. It was probably a momentary flirtation by a weary older man that had foolishly upset her. She sipped her wine and felt a happy glow engulf her. She could hardly wait to see the judge's house, and when the carriage stopped, she and her mother gazed eagerly around as soon as they alighted. The house was on the bluffs above the beach, three imposing stories of red brick covered with a creeping ivy vine. Flowering bushes swayed in the breeze, as did rioting beds of springtime bulbs: tulips, narcissus, hyacinths, and violets. A pebbled path led to flight of smooth stone steps. Light streamed from ground-level windows whose scarlet satin draperies could be seen caught back with thick gold cords.
The door swung wide and Judge Blaize, all in midnight velvet, advanced to meet them, hands outstretched, his face alight with pleasure. "Ladies, welcome to my home. How lovely you both look. Come in by the fire, the night grows cold. I must send a fur wrap with you when the hour for departure comes." When they entered the lamplit hall, a figure stepped out of an arched doorway and Fiona caught her breath. "Giles! What are you doing here?" He stared, seeming equally surprised as he looked from Fiona to her mother. "Dr. Harmon came to tend one of my servants," the judge said smoothly. "A cook who was scouting for truffles in the woods unfortunately became caught in a wolf trap." "Ach, how terrible," Ellen Prescott exclaimed. "How is the poor wee man?" "He sustained no lasting injury." The judge waved his hand indifferently. "Even now, he is cooking in the kitchen, unfortunately without the truffles." Giles's brows drew together. "He should be resting." The judge purred silkily, "My decision, I believe." Giles opened his mouth, then snapped it shut. He picked up his medical bag and turned to Fiona. "May I have a word with you?" He grasped Fiona's arm and led her forcefully to the front door. There he stopped and hissed, "What are you and your mother doing here?" Fiona raised her eyebrows. "We have come to dine, though by what right you ask²" "I don't trust him," Giles whispered harshly, with a quick glance down the hall behind them. "Why not? Anyway, what could happen with my mother present, pray tell?" He didn't reply directly, but his eyes swept over her, the next words seemingly wrung out of him against his will. "Fiona, I²I never saw you look more alluring. My God, are you trying to arouse the judge as much as you do me?" It was impossible not to be thrilled by his words. Giles was the only one she wanted to lure. If only he could take her in his arms the way he had before, thrilling her with the rapture of his kisses. But when her eyes met Giles's, he had regained his self-control, mouth set sternly, black brows meeting. His anger met a quick response and Fiona answered, "I am trying to arouse no one. Especially not you. Why aren't you with Grace? She said you were walking out tonight, presumably to become betrothed."
He gave a harsh crack of laughter. "Is that right?" "Well, isn't it?" He shrugged. "As you see, I was called away on an errand of mercy." He didn't confirm or deny. Fiona changed the subject. "That trap²I suppose it was meant for the gray wolf that Sally tamed." "That wolf is far from tame, but I hate to see trapped animals. Fortunately, the cook was not seriously injured, although²" He thinned his lips. "Well, I did what I could." He hesitated. "Is everything all right with you? No more hints from Grace that you are acting like a witch?" "Oh, Grace still finds many of the things I do suspicious, but I think she just wants to annoy me." "She's jealous, and with good reason." Giles's voice dropped lower and he stared into her eyes, the anguished message unmistakable, as though dragged forth against his will. Fiona searched his face, seeking answers to the puzzle. "Giles, what really happened? Why did you turn so suddenly to Grace?" "I can't tell you. Not now." His eyes moved hungrily over her once more; then, with a stiffled oath, he swung away abruptly and the door clanged shut behind him. Fiona knew that she was trembling, tears crowding in her throat. If only she and Giles could talk honestly. It almost seemed as though he still cherished feelings for her. Was there a chance that he might break away from Grace? And if he did« what then? Would he marry a girl without a dowry? And for that matter, how could she allow a man she loved to make such a sacrifice? All his years of training would be for naught, his future life a constant struggle; never achieving all he wanted to do with no money for special equipment. The other alternative would be to live in seclusion as his mistress, in a life of sin and degradation, which was unthinkable. She felt sure that Giles would feel the same. He was too honorable, too strong-minded. In love, he would be passionate and exciting, but also kind, unselfish, and true. Those were traits which she admired in him« and which now stood between them« also his loyalty to Grace, resulting from some past understanding with her. Sighing, Fiona turned and started back along the hall, barely aware of velvet rugs and marble statutes, subdued lights in candle sconces. Her head jerked up as the judge stepped from the parlor. "Miss Fiona, we have long awaited you. Won't you join us in a mild libation before we dine?"
They were standing at the far end of the room and the judge was very close." . "Why. Accepting a wine goblet. not refusing the judge when he refilled it to the brim. To Fiona. Fiona bent down to touch the fur to see if it was real and instantly the judge appeared beside her. but I will call you Nicholas when we are alone." Fiona answered. judge." "Nicholas. Fiona strolled around the room which was large. letting his hand rest upon her flesh. but he didn't seem impressed. with gilded sconces holding fragrant candles. but in the next moment they had entered the sumptuous room where her mother sat on a white satin sofa heaped with gold and silver cushions." he whispered. "Nicholas. Not knowing how to combat this intimacy without appearing awkward. He said to call on him if ever I needed help. He certainly could be convincing. "I want you to use my given name. a white pelt had been spread. Fiona answered. I abhor doing such things for sport. black eyes boring into hers. a musky male aroma which was not unpleasant. but her mother merely smiled her thanks. Vases held a rioting of full-blown scarlet roses all around the room. dark face. In fact. Uneasiness stirred briefly in her mind. my dear. and exquisitely furnished with every kind of luxury: a roaring fire within a marble grate. then wondered if she really did. "Pray." He raised her up. coming by it honestly." She flicked a glance upward and saw a gloating smile on his lean. Fiona said coolly. it makes your eyes glow like stars. "What is this coin you wear?" He slipped his fingers underneath it with a frown. Beside each satin couch and velvet chair. completely self-assured and not in the least overawed by her surroundings." This might show the judge she had influential friends. "Sir William Phips gave me this on shipboard." "I don't think my mother would approve of that on such short acquaintance. I would be delighted. His hooded eyes suddenly fastened on her bosom. "No. they looked overwhelming. A heat emanated from his body. "Do you believe me?" "Of course. walls silk-hung.Quickly assuming a lightness she was far from feeling. and shipboard promises are just as worthless." with a slight hesitation. In her hand she held a goblet containing a ruby liquid which she seemed to be enjoying. I didn't hunt and kill these beasts. madam. your lips grow soft like the petals of a scarlet rose. if you so desire." Fiona stared at such fulsome praise. well lit. I vow it is no wonder Fiona is such a beauty. he sneered. "My name?" he hinted and she answered. "A worthless trinket. She is certainly a younger version of yourself. They all came with the house. drink deeply. thank you.
glancing uneasily at the judge. Fiona wondered if she taken too much wine. he merely smiled. "That is intolerable. Does my touch excite you? You are quivering so temptingly. You are her cousin as well as a guest in her mother's home. "Does she have a claim on the young doctor?" "Grace seems to think so. ." "You and Giles are still quite close?" the judge rapped out. Harmon say?" The judge studied her over the rim of his silver goblet as if he wished to probe into her brain. "No! Does she do that?" Blaize roared." "Of course. his thin lips twisting downward." Fiona said.He let his fingers linger on the soft swell of her breast and bent his head to breathe into her ear. She must be reprimanded. "No. "You should be wearing jewels to compliment your perfect creamy skin." "And what does Dr." Fiona whispered. I'm sure. "Perhaps you should. moving back and covering her bosom with a shaking hand. indeed. especially since Fiona and Giles grew so friendly on the ocean voyage." Fiona's mother laughed." her mother stated. Then you can put him from your mind and consider the interest of other men who would. quite unlike her usual tactful self. This remark puzzled Fiona. Forgive me. Grace is just a silly girl. "I haven't discussed the matter with him. "She is annoyed by the arrival of a pretty cousin. Mistress Prescott?" "Fiona is a good girl. Don't you agree. your beauty is always my undoing. He is now close to Grace." He bowed and led the way across the room to the chairs beside the fireplace." "Oh. At least²" The judge interrupted." "Please. be more than willing to pay you court. Alas." Fiona hoped devoutly that the heat upon her cheeks would not betray her feelings. They were friends when they were young. Was it a warning to the judge? However. "What were you and Giles discussing before he left?" Ellen Prescott asked with a prying air. "Giles wanted to know if Grace had hinted any more that I was acting like a witch. "We had best rejoin my mother.
That adds to her charm. "Behold my treasures. nor so much wine."Of course she is. a mound of fruit. here is Solbaid to lead us in to supper. She looked so pale. Fiona was never certain what she ate. Perhaps it made a titillating game for a bachelor past his youth. The walls had paintings of gods and goddesses. Like everything seen so far. whipped cream topping all. Bowls of tender. Fiona started up from her chair. and flickering candles in the center. "You see before you . Each carved-back armchair was adorned with emerald cushions to match the velvet draperies at several deep casement windows. and at his instructions. no! I'll be quite all right. jewel-studded goblets. Personally. Fiona followed suit. however. We're not used to such rich fare. Didn't he seem to be constantly intent on leading her astray? Her resistance. tiny vegetables were laced with herbs. I'll rejoin you shortly. "Pray don't let me disturb your supper. "I had better go with you. the dining room was lavish in the extreme. contained so many rare and unfamiliar viands. "I want you to examine everything in here while I sit and revel in your pleasure." His reply was baffling. Fiona could only take a taste and her mother also waved the sweet away. the judge touched his fingers into a bowl of rosewater and then to his lips before drying them on his napkin. no. Various meats swam in sauces compounded of cream and wine. Fiona became alarmed. Hot breads accompanied every course." He waved his hand and bowed them into the hall. "If you have finished." "Of course. I understand. "Ah. cavorting beside sparkling streams and flowery meadows." "No. She dipped into the bowl a maid placed beside her plate. might indeed have been what he liked." the judge said. The serving dishes. a maidservant gently led Fiona's mother from the table. offered by silent servants. Fiona thought. By that time." When they were alone." The judge tinkled a bell. A damask cloth covered a round table heaped with silver plates and cutlery. I detest a wanton wench with all my heart and soul. potatoes had been mashed and skillfully seasoned." He then unlocked the door and gently propelled her forward. but I fear the wine has made me a wee bit dizzy. as did a number of different wines. thinly clad." he intoned. he led her down the hallway to a distant door. At last came the sweet: a custard filled with cake and every kind of nut and chopped glazed fruit. "would you like to view my treasure room while your mother rests a bit?" When she agreed. though she had never seen it done before." her mother protested. "I think my mother should lie down in the parlor. "More wine?" he suggested.
" Fiona touched the almost transparent cloth and it seemed to spring into her arms and cling. Fiona. Her heart beat with excitement as she stepped back into the room and beheld herself in one of the long mirrors. my dear. her green eyes echoing the dress's color. each one a dream come true." . her breath caught in her throat. yet strangely eager. it seemed to mold itself against her skin in a perfect fit. At last he said. shelves. Then she didn't want to. She was conscious of rich colors. waving curls glistening on bare shoulders. Go now²touch and fondle them. spinning lights. It was true! She did look beautiful. you will be amazed at your own loveliness. pictures glowed with a master's touch. It only needs one more thing. "Behold beauty in all its youthful glory. Pushing aside her hair. some entwined with gold and silver ornaments. cabinets all held row on row of china statues. do as I ask. I don't think²" "Humor me. She couldn't pull it off. only a wide. Put on that soft green silk with the gold bead trim. his long." He turned her around and led her to a mound of jewels. Her body was outlined closely and the curves of breast and hips looked much fuller and more enticing. luxurious and rare things from every corner of the earth. all lavishly adorned in cascading lace.beauty. Come. necklaces. the judge watched her with a smile. Tables. and then I can watch you with increased enjoyment. I promise. Fiona carried the foaming silk behind the Oriental screen. Reluctant. fur. "Perfect! You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. bracelets. low neck and a sash of golden tissue to tie around her waist. He picked up a heavy hand mirror and whispered in her ear. "Please try it on. thin fingers untied the cord of her doubloon and deftly replaced it with a chain of emeralds that winked like fire upon the exposed curves of her upper breast. "I want you to try on a gown. or brocade. colored vases. Pegs were hung with gowns in every luscious hue and rich material. fans of lace and gilt. objects of such unusual beauty that she could hardly take it in." "Oh. no. Instantly. It will only take a minute for you to change. with skin like thick white cream. On the walls. ribbons. There is a screen over there and mirrors everywhere to throw back your enchanting reflection. Open boxes showed flashing jewels." She seemed to have no will of her own. Now. rings. From a leather-covered armchair." Fiona stared around. It slid over her head with no hooks or lacings. You will never see the like again. Nicholas came up behind her and joined her at the mirror. intoxicating incense.
"Very well. his arms and legs bound her to his heaving frame.In a dreamlike wonder. so be it. his scarlet mouth bore down on hers with a searing pain. Nicholas put his hands on her waist and drew her back against him. His face twisted with rage and lust. only momentarily transformed by an enchanter's power. "I do not sell my favors!" "Don't be such a silly child. she touched the gems around her throat. smoothed the silk across her body. Before she could escape. Fiona's scrabbling hand connected with the hand mirror. and struggled to undo the emerald clasp. support your mother. You could buy a house. becoming old and ugly. live in comfort far from this mad. "Do you wish to keep the necklace? It is yours for just a kiss or two. Eyes wide with terror. When she succeeded. the surrender of your body next to mine²" Fiona gasped and managed to say huskily as she tried in vain to move away. the jewels dropped to the floor. feeling the warm flesh underneath. Think what you could do with that string of emeralds if you sold it. Dazed and trembling. mere imitations made of paste. He staggered backward with a demented howl and dropped full-length upon the floor. the jewels grew dull. the garments dissolved to dusty rags. "No. You would never have to watch Grace making up to Giles again. almost as though unclothed. cruel and insatiable. But the edge was heavily carved and she brought it down upon her assailant's head with all the force at her command. If I wanted. the objects seemed transformed." the judge snarled. his vile breath mingling in her mouth. now streaked and tarnished. Fiona stared into the glass. sad town. I could kiss you any time I wished and even do much more than that. no. Fiona now saw a red haze fill the room. Chapter 16 . and all at once. who had to feed his appetites by bestowing useless gifts. Faces in the pictures snarled or drooled insanely. Exerting every ounce of strength to free herself. but I am asking you politely." Giles! How this scene would horrify him. Hard as heated iron." Fiona shrilled. The judge became an aging lecher.
the dwarf. Back in the so-called treasure room. except push on. she didn't look around again to see if the ornaments seemed real or fake. While she had the advantage of youth and strength. She fled down the road which made a pathway to the woods and there the concealing darkness enveloped her.Fiona's breath wheezed in and out. torn between anger and alarm. "I am going now. she heard him. Now she could see no more houses. either. wait! Come back to me!" She clapped her shaking hands across her mouth. He bowed with slow. What did they matter? She fled into the parlor and found it empty. The dwarf called something after her about her shawl. her hands hot and slippery as she struggled from the green silk and flung on her clothes behind the screen. she spared only a quick glance for the man still sprawled on the rug. he knew the woods better than she did and even now he might be cutting off her escape. He didn't repeat his call and Fiona's terror waned a little. "Where is my mother?" she demanded loudly." "Your master isn't feeling well. Clouds flickered constantly across the moon and gave just enough light to keep her from crashing into trunks or tripping over rocks. they were not averse to accommodating his desires in return for a gem or two. her only thought to put as much distance as possible between her and the judge's mansion. wanting to shout at him and tell him of her hatred and disgust. She did nothing of the kind. "The master had me drive her home. Had he given up? Briefly she wondered why he was so determined. she struggled on as fast as she could go. when she first saw the treasures? Or when she'd . He breathed heavily but did not move. She only knew she must evade her pursuer. but I shall walk. not even knowing if she was going away from him or straight into his path. Then to her horror. she met Solbaid. "Mother!" Fiona shrilled. however." Fiona choked. but she didn't stop. She was not feeling well. "Where are you?" There was no answer. maddening politeness." She turned and ran out the front door. almost faint with fear and loathing. Having no desire to linger. There were many other pretty girls around. But were they really precious gems? Had her eyes deceived her? When was she really underneath his spell? At the beginning. and from what she had overheard at the witch trial. She had no idea how to reach Aunt Mercy's house. young miss. but pushing aside limbs and leaves. no road. "Fee-o-na. Racing into the hall. She plunged into its midst.
but twigs snapped in spite of her precautions. until she had to cling once more to a tree while listening for his dreaded voice. let me take you home. Was it the judge? She couldn't take a chance. Quick as thought. unable to help herself. She felt her gown rip on a twig. she pushed off. but she heard something else. about twenty feet from the ground. speak to me. could the judge climb the tree and drag her down? Oh. hoping she could find a house or barn where she might shelter until the judge gave up his search. heaved her body upward. she had to stop and brace her trembling body against a tree." Dearest God! The fiend still searched for her. my poor child. Nothing happened. No voice came this time. The horse must have passed along the road. where have you gone? Answer me. His voice came again: "Fiona. What would he do if he captured her? Convey her back to some locked room? Punish her with blows? Perhaps even force himself upon her virginity so that she would be ruined forever? Exerting every ounce of strength. she prayed desperately. save me from this monster. She uttered a sharp cry of pain as her head struck the ground. running swiftly. "Fiona! Fiona. Something howled. and he sounded closer. and finally. and then she knew no more. Faintly a voice came to her ears. A squirrel chattered angrily and leaped out of her way. Lord. If he saw her. After a few minutes. The sound of hooves drew nearer and she shut her eyes." . and in resurging fear. She must hide quickly« but where? The tree she clutched was large and thickly leaved. A roaring filled Fiona's ears. Breathing had now become torture. She tried to descend as quietly as possible.resisted him. Darkness deeper than the night enveloped her. she stumbled on. she made her way gingerly down the tree. the limbs low to the ground and towering high above. trying desperately not to make much noise. had he lost his power to delude her? Perhaps she had been so distraught. Nothing mattered except to climb as high as possible until the branches could no longer bear her weight Then she stopped and prayed fervently that she was hidden. and began to climb. holding in her breath. she gripped a stalwart branch. The branch she clutched broke in two and she fell. Where was she? Where was the road to Mercy's house? Then something crunched on the dead leaves underfoot. Then. she missed a foothold. she'd just imagined the scene of decay that had seemed to descend on the room. gasping for breath. She had no further time for pondering. scrabbling for footholds. someone on horseback approaching fast.
heavens. he raised his voice and called." . She couldn't see his face. it didn't matter. She gave a stifled groan. "Sally has a light in the kitchen. May we come in?" The next instant. "Sally." Fiona began to sob. She couldn't struggle." Giles said. and a wave of thankfulness washed over her. It's close by. Right now. The man began to walk. "Do you have a pain somewhere?" "Just my head. "Oh. Fiona. Do you know me." His voice grew rough with feeling. "Ah. Giles. thank goodness. Sally peered out the door and flung it wide. and soon I'll fix you up. to be called "sweetheart. Safe from what? She found she couldn't think anymore or even remember what had caused her to be in the woods. breathing raggedly." "Where's your mother?" "She went home. but there was some barrier between them which she couldn't remember at the moment. but her head ached dreadfully." How nice. thank God.Who was it? Someone she should fear? A man's arms held her cradled against a leather jacket. sweetheart. I'm so glad you found me." She felt she should be equally affectionate. but his stride was strong and purposeful. "You can tell me all about it later. "Ah. someone is still awake." He halted in the moonlight. I have Fiona. your eyes are open. it was awful²" He held her tighter and started walking again through the woods. you're safe now." At the door. Giles would keep her from any harm. I'm afraid to put you on my horse until I have a look at you. "I'm taking you to Sally's. "She fell and struck her head. it's Giles." "We're nearly there. "Oh. Fiona clasped her arms around his neck and rested her head against his shoulder. I'd like to examine her. "Don't be afraid. But anyway. "Oh. what has happened? Is she hurt badly? Come in by the fire. She is hurt. darling?" Fiona blinked." Giles exclaimed. you are safe." "I don't think she has a serious injury. "What is it?" Giles asked anxiously." he said grimly. "Who²who are you?" she whimpered.
" While Sally prepared the draught. "Oliver is asleep in our bed. Fiona was barely conscious of Sally putting a cold cloth on her head. He felt her arms and then her heart. stone-floored room. "but I don't want to move her. drink this. "She doesn't have concussion. warm touch. "It's rapid. otherwise²" "This is fine. Shadowy figures crouched in the corners. such as«" He murmured in her ear. Giles felt Fiona's limbs." The drink accomplished its purpose. yes. Why don't you go and tell Mrs. Sally Woods. Through the mists clouding her brain. dear?" "Of course. She seemed to be standing in a strange. wailing despondently. some of them at least. "You have a large lump behind your ear. Fiona started dreaming. We'll bathe it with cold water and vinegar in a minute. "Right away. Sally nodded. "How many fingers do you see?" "Five. . young lady." He examined the back of her head and stared into each eye in a very professional manner. "I think you'll be all right. smiling back. Prescott that Fiona will come back in the morning?" Sometime in the night. and when they moved." "Then don't. Sally bent over her. her soft breast resting on his hand." She giggled weakly. He pushed her blue silk skirt aside and pressed her legs and thighs as Fiona caught her breath. She smiled. or I'd not let her sleep." Giles took the mug from Sally. dark and high-ceilinged." He held up his hand. "Here." Giles said. and Giles flushed. You'll do. liking his firm. either. I'll take care of her. Do you think she is concussed?" When Giles laid Fiona on the blankets. I have my wits."Yes. Could you prepare a hot posset for her to drink? Something soothing." Sally flew to place a pallet and blankets by the kitchen fireplace. "Do you know me." he said thickly. It will soothe and warm you. "Isn't that the usual number?" "Yes. Some had their arms wrapped around their heads. You're still chilled and trembling. Fiona heard the jangling of chains. What was this place? What was she doing here? Her straining eyes tried to pierce the mystery. she heard Giles and Sally arguing about who should sit up to watch her. and cleared his throat.
moving slowly into the adjoining bedroom. Does your head still hurt?" . Fiona screamed then. cold and clammy." "Want a bite of breakfast." Fiona shouted. I warrant. Behind them. bread. smelled porridge bubbling. The next time her eyes flew open. "Clear up your wits. She began to recall things« the judge's supper« then the treasure room« and something had happened there that had made her run away.Suddenly. when her mind was functioning better. Hands reached out to touch her." Fiona tried desperately to run. and smoothed her tousled hair. noticing that her dress was torn. but bits and pieces moved sluggishly through her brain. she saw Sally and Oliver bending over her with anxious faces. th-thank you. "Will the condemned witches now step forward?" Screams and anguished shrieks of denial broke forth from the writhing creatures. until she fainted." "Yes. but found she couldn't move as a strange paralysis gripped her. mayhap. The shadows and the angry cries drew closer. It still was hard to think. heard a cock crow in the yard." Sally took a seat across the table. Relief swept over her and she struggled to sit up. lass?" Oliver grunted." the big man asked." "I'm not Rebecca Nurse." Oliver returned to his breakfast and Sally whispered in her ear. Oliver had left and a place had been set with steaming porridge containing nuts and raisins. She used the facilities. "I was having a bad dream. Fiona saw Judge Blaize with Solbaid sitting on his shoulder. over and over. Both of them began to point and laugh with all the rest. a mug of cold fresh milk. Rebecca Nurse! They want you. Rebecca Nurse. and jam placed close by. I used a mixture of tansy and pennyroyal with a touch of laudanum. "You. "Go on. sipping from a mug. Grace gave a hard shove and hissed in Fiona's ear. "Mad! Mad!" Louder and louder came the cries. "Eat up and you'll feel better. Mistress Nurse²come here. "The effects of that soothing potion I gave you are wearing off. She would have to sort it later. a hollow voice called out. "You cried out in your sleep." the jailer called. to escape. "Are you mad?" Laughter filled the cold stone cell. Judge Blaize has condemned you. When she returned to the kitchen. "Go up. "Are you all right?" Fiona stared around at the sunny kitchen. Fiona nodded. butter. washed her hands in a basin of cool water.
" "The dishes²" "Later. I ran from him and managed to get away. the judge took me alone to view his treasures. I would be interested in knowing why you were in the woods so late at night. When you are up to it." "Oh." . "I know you'll think me a silly." "Oh. "You've seen them?" Sally held up her hand. Thank you for everything. Unfortunately. Did I misinterpret things. I let curiosity lead me into a very dangerous situation. He fell down and I ran back to the parlor. "I must get home." "My memory has returned."Only if I touch it by mistake." They settled upon a garden bench beneath a cherry tree and Fiona told briefly about first meeting the judge at church. but when my mother had to lie down after taking too much wine." Fiona stated flatly. "I hit him with a mirror." Fiona went on." Fiona gave a little shiver. he tried to take advantage of me." Sally's voice grew hard. This tastes so good. react too strongly? Had no harm been intended? Anyway. My mother won't know where I am. "Never mind." Fiona's pewter spoon scraped the bowl and she started on the bread. "at the beach. later on. I soon came to my senses and repulsed him. Can you imagine that? However. "It was so strange. when an invitation came for me and my mother to dine with him. at first the judge was most gracious and the house and supper were divine. tell me everything. I slipped and hit my head. He will come and take you home this morning. Sally. Pray continue. Fiona." "Yes. art objects from all over the world?" Fiona stared. the judge seemed to cast a spell on me. dear." "I was so confused that I wasn't sure what had actually happened on the beach. "Jewels." "Well. she accepted. "Go on. I must hear your tale." Sally murmured. What happened next?" "Well. Giles told her last night that you'd fallen and were going to stay here. then later at the beach. Let's sit outside in the garden. I hid up in the tree until I thought it was safe. silk gowns. she will. He followed me. My mother had left. gullible fool. so I escaped into the woods. but he didn't find me. But then Giles came along and brought me here.
hidden in our cloaks. he told Nanny to tend to me. and when I retired early. which lay white-knuckled in her lap." "Don't blame yourself. Nothing moved him from his purpose." Sally said between gritted teeth. he came to me in my room. I cried and sobbed. I'm all right and I intend to stay out of his way. dug out the jewels I had. You recall. He stifled my screams with one hand. "Remember what I told you about my guardian? That was Nicholas Blaize. Later. Finally. He is a villain toward women. He had been summoned to attend the cook. and cruel and merciless as a judge. dressed me. "I had no idea you were acquainted with him or I'd have warned you. " Sally gripped her hands." Sally put her head down in her hands and groaned." Fiona said. I still pleaded with him for more time. a lecher and seducer of the young. If an accused girl takes his fancy. but I will finish it. deeply shaken. I saw him briefly at the judge's mansion that night."How did Giles happen to be in the woods?" "I don't know. he will free her for sufficient favors in his bed. Nanny pounded on the door. he put a potion in my dinner wine. We took horses from the stable and galloped for our lives. please tell me the rest of your story. and though all was arranged. if only I had known²" "Yes. who had caught his foot in a wolf trap. you never finished it. Nicholas fixed a date to marry me when I turned fifteen. but he wouldn't let her in. She clasped Sally's hands tightly until the girl stopped shuddering and was able to continue. But Sally. Sally." "You sound as though you know him!" Sally turned an agonized glance upon Fiona. "Nanny urged me through the grounds. If Nicholas pursued us²and I'm sure he did²we had a good head-start and got . "Oh. I wish I had told you sooner. "It is not a pretty tale. so perhaps he became worried about me and was on his way back to the judge's house. Giles told me that he didn't trust Judge Blaize. "One night." "He is right not to trust Nicholas Blaize. so he decided to bind me to him before the formal marriage. You might have been seriously harmed by him. begging for mercy. I guess he grew afraid that I might escape. To think your guardian was Judge Blaize!" Sally flushed and looked away. "The man's a monster." "I thought I would die! But Nanny gave me a strong herbal potion." Fiona's hand flew to her mouth. I could hear my defiler snoring and wished that I had the means to kill him!" "I know how you must have felt. and we staggered outside.
I have two protectors. Weren't you frightened when the judge came to Salem? Does he know you're here?" "Yes to both questions. The next day we reached an old sister of Nanny's who lived deep in the woods not far from Salem. I was glad. Might he not also hire an assassin to kill Oliver some dark. lonely night when he returned from work. We married and have been very happy." ." Even two protectors were not enough. along with that fiendish slave Solbaid." "She and her sister died a few years after we fled to Salem." "I'm sorry. I go to Salem only to attend Divine Service. A child from that monster would remind you constantly of your ordeal. but I lost the baby. but I don't think I can ever bear the child we both long for. "Alas. So you see. When I see the judge I am frightened. "What became of Nanny? Did you ever discover what hold she had on the judge?" "She wouldn't talk about it except to say he had been in trouble with the law in England and had emigrated to America with all speed. however. weary and alone? After that. It had something to do with thievery in the house where she had been employed in London. oh.away." Sally's voice sank to a whisper. and he tended me with all his skill. Fiona thought. Oliver told me he saw the animal chase Nicholas through the woods when he came too near my home. "Dear heaven." Sally nodded. it's a wonder there wasn't murder done. Fiona. so he tries to harm me in a secret way. but from the sister I learned the art of simpling." Fiona gasped. it wasn't many months before I realized that I was expecting a child. He lived in Salem. Did Giles know who was the villain?" "No. She took us in. I have often wished there were some way to get a potion into Nicholas to render him completely helpless forever. Oliver knows. Nanny came on the same ship with us and later offered to care for me in return for her silence. "It was only through my pleading that Oliver was persuaded to lie low so no attention would be drawn to us. Glad!" Fiona put an arm around the trembling girl. I didn't want a whisper to get back to Nicholas. but he is equally afraid of Oliver. I was very ill. a young medical student I had met in Boston. smiling faintly. I think Nicholas planted the hints about my witchcraft along with how I tamed a wolf² he is mortally afraid of Gray. Blaize would be free to wreak his will on Sally for any kind of vengeance he desired. And. Oliver strikes me as a man who protects his own. It was then that I remembered Giles. The judge was putting traps into the woods for Gray. "Of course you were.
"I don't know. honorable. Now. do you?" . passionate man to belong to her and her alone. Chapter 17 A few minutes later. the swelling is almost gone. "My mind is clear now. I spoke to your mother last night and calmed her fears. Thank you. Giles came riding down the road in his horse-drawn wagon. I think you both would like to talk in private. "Good day. Are you ready to go home?" Sally interrupted with a hand upon Giles's arm." "Of course she did." Giles groaned. he drew a ragged breath and moved away. Fiona. Sally took good care of me. "Don't look at me like that. Fiona felt a likewise yearning. Sally. How is our patient?" He drew Fiona to her feet. she knew she wanted this fine-looking. an anxious frown upon his face. Why don't you sit here in the garden for a while?" She waved away Fiona's attempt to express her gratitude and ran into the house. and although she had remembered his commitment to Grace. giving her a keen inspection. I am most eager to know what happened." She smiled. then gazed hungrily at her lips as though he longed to kiss her. I guess." Sally cried fiercely. He took her hands in his. He sprang out and hurried toward Sally and Fiona. "How do you feel?" "Fine. "First. "This is a good idea. "You have no idea how you make me feel." Giles sat down on the bench and drew Fiona to a place beside him."Do you really think the judge has satanic powers?" Fiona faltered. I have a slight aching in my bones from my jarring fall. but that is all. Yes. let me feel that lump. Instead. "I only know I wish he would end up burning somewhere for all eternity!" In her heart. Sally. so I will say goodbye. Fiona fervently agreed. putting a little distance between them.
"Yes. bring him up before the elders of the town on a charge of attempted rape. "Why were you there in the woods last night?" Giles linked his hands between his knees and frowned at the buttercups crowding around the bench as though he saw an ugly scene instead. Our future paths run in separate directions. but I didn't trust him. "Shall we go to my aunt's house now? We could talk another time²" Giles put out a detaining hand. "A²a kiss." she whispered. "I understand. coaxing«" "The cad! What was he saying?" Giles asked harshly. calling. trying to kiss me against my will. directed at both Giles and herself. You must believe that. I fell." "What was his price?" Giles ground out. "It's true. however. The judge displayed his gems and tried to give me some of them« a rope of emeralds. smoothing the rumpled blue silk across her knees." Fiona was unable to stop the betraying rush of heat into her face. he grew angry and insulting. Fiona. Finally." Fiona bowed her head. due to his influence at the witch trials. not knowing she had left. "When I refused. And that's all. but he²he pursued me into the woods. the judge probably would escape any punishment. Perhaps there's something you're ashamed to mention." Fiona sank back down. You found me. How much should she tell him? If Giles knew the extent of Blaize's attempted seduction. A few young girls were badly beaten and their parents muttered about a powerful lecher. "I have heard some unsettling rumors about Judge Blaize." "Is it? I wonder if you're telling me the whole story. but instead of answering him. Fiona chose her words. she questioned. Fiona cleared her throat. saying shortly. I haven't heard yet what happened last night at Judge Blaize's dinner party to send you fleeing through the woods. "because I feel the same way. Giles. "My mother became weary after dinner and was driven home while I stayed to see the judge's treasure room. but his retribution would be swift and harsh. are you really tied to Grace?" He dragged his eyes away and stared across the sunlit garden. then. he might try to avenge her honor by thrashing the judge« or at least. With his vast power. "Sit a moment longer. a judge who had recently come to town." she murmured. I guessed it might be Blaize. I struck him and got away. and so I hid and didn't answer." She rose. Carefully. Oh. none dared speak out against . I climbed up in a tree and waited until I thought the way was clear. "He merely said he wanted to take me home.
if he tries anything else²" "He won't get a chance. what would Giles do if he knew how badly Sally had been treated? It was a wonder someone hadn't killed the judge by now. He has wealth and power on his side. then he spoke tightly. I decided to go back to his house and see if you were all right and perhaps try to bring you home. I shall avoid him like the plague." "By God. Then she sat up taller. "I suppose you're right. "I may be new in town and vulnerable. but she didn't want Giles or Oliver to become his executioner and be hanged for taking the law into his own hands. "Why did you go to visit Judge Blaize?" Giles wanted to know. However. a muscle twitching beside his jaw." Fiona darted a quick glance at him beneath her lashes. as I rode through the woods. I imagine he often picks someone new in town who hasn't heard about his escapades. He'd also invited my mother. She knew how strict and harsh Puritans were to wrongdoers. unconsciously echoing Sally. the man sounds like a fiend. Later that night. I heard you cry out and soon found you. The world would be well rid of him. and with her along. Heavens. then he sobered. unconscious." "You're right." Giles was silent for a few moments." Giles muttered. eh?" Giles's lips twitched. on the ground. Giles must still cherish some warmth for her in spite of his strong efforts to quell it. and clenched his hands. "I think I shall have some words with him²" "No. but I am not weak. my dear." Fiona admitted in a low. "He's not exactly the sort of friend I'd think you'd care to cultivate." Fiona clutched his sleeve." Giles growled. Beating another man . Mercy had told her that willfully setting fire to a person's house was punishable by death. and knows just who is most vulnerable." "I'm sure he has designs on your virtue. You were lucky to escape unharmed. but believe me. "Offering you that necklace proves it.him. shaken voice. I hit him hard with a mirror and he fell down. you must not. You can imagine how disturbed I was to find you visiting him. I didn't see how anything might harm me. and since my mother and I have already aroused some suspicion. He'd be furious if he knew I'd complained to you. He is evidently very shrewd. That was a bad moment for me. trying to make her answer casual." "That bad. he might avenge himself on us all. "I felt curious to see his house and the treasures he'd mentioned. Fiona thought. "We can't afford to incur his wrath. is he?" Fiona shrugged.
half of it going to the informer. didn't you?" . eggs. there has been some grumbling about my new methods. "Do you feel weak. Fiona wondered suddenly if a witch's informant was also thus rewarded. yet they really aren't. What a fine. though I am sure that I allayed her fears about you. I know many men who call themselves doctors but have no degrees at all. They place dung. in answer to your question.brought large fines and a long spell sitting in the stocks." "Ironic. and so forth on sores. Do you think Judge Blaize could have dark powers?" "You're wondering if Blaize is Satan in disguise? I doubt it. doctor. Drunkards wore a "D" around their necks for a whole year. I believe in many natural remedies: honey. as both only further weaken a sick body that needs all its strength to fight disease. milk. "Well. perhaps a partnership in Boston. Fiona. Everybody came here to be free. conscientious doctor he was. She began to question him about his practice. but since I'm the only doctor here. dizzy? Is there any pain²?" She managed to smile." "Yes. Lying incurred a cleft stick worn upon the tongue. I like to work alone. "No. No doubt he would go far with the help of Grace's dowry. sweat. Adulterers were often branded. You got away from him. Shall we go now? My mother may be worried. peering at her with deep concern. things I certainly didn't expect to encounter in this New World. since guilty persons forfeited all their estates to the local government. let us go." "That's one thing that probably encourages the belief that Satan has invaded Salem. yeast. I've been very busy. There has been a lot of illness in Salem." They bade goodbye to Sally and drove off. Unlawful games of chance were fined as much as five pounds. Yet these things have been faithfully practiced for centuries and still are used." "Do your new ideas annoy any of your patients? There seems to be so much narrowmindedness and superstition. I don't believe in purges or leeching. isn't it?" Giles grunted. they either have to abide by my decisions or stay sick. Some so-called doctors also swear by animal and insect parts for curing." Giles muttered. and certain plants and herbs all have most mysterious yet effective results in promoting health. wondering aloud if he yearned for a larger place. hair. incidentally. and they favor many methods now scoffed at in British hospitals. He'd be doing a lot more injury if he were. Fiona's thoughts fixed sadly on the man beside her. blood. "No. "You look pale. I am quite all right. which only causes more irritation.
"I told Sally. How many other young girls had he also harmed? She might have been one of them herself. things seem to change²his appearance« the objects in the room he showed me« his manner became kindly. "Some people can be influenced in their minds by a master will. some way. and she was very upset. feel hatred for the magician."Yes. I guess that would be impossible. and avoid looking into his eyes²all these things can break the spell. Fiona amended in her mind. No. but sometimes when I'm around him. Not everyone succumbs. tempted by his flattery. "If only he could be trapped²" That made Fiona think of Gray and the trap placed in the woods. jewels. and I wonder«" "You mean wizards. There were no words harsh enough to describe him. Everyone is afraid of him." "There are elders in the town who still will not tolerate illicit fornication." "What are you considering. Giles?" Fiona cried in alarm. somehow. Was it possible that she still might be in danger from him? Suddenly Giles's voice broke into her thoughts. and a skillful play upon her senses. beguiling«" "And he doesn't seem so bad?" "My father told us once about a man who could influence other people's minds. rich." But not quite everything. If you think about a thing or person you love. and powerful. wouldn't it?" ." Giles said. She had let him kiss her. He can do anything he wants. "By God. and a blinding rage swept through her." Fiona thought with shame how close she might have come to being seduced by Judge Blaize. warm. of course." Giles's tone grew icy hard. lure her to his home. "Perhaps we could capture that wolf who hates him and let the animal attack him in his house." Giles burst out. She thought how he had betrayed and injured Sally so that she could bear no more children. "Are you going to tell your mother how the judge acted when you were alone?" "Y-yes. How she would have despised herself if she had succumbed. tempt her with a gift of emeralds. "You know he's dangerous. I must figure out a way to stop this demonic beast who is masquerading as a man." "So this power can be resisted?" "I've heard it's possible.
muttering endearments that left Fiona sobbing." Giles turned to face her and asked in an odd tone. I am not free to love you. "Forgive me." he said thickly. "And you and Grace will soon be wed. dropping her head in sudden shame when she recalled that Giles had never denied his tie to Grace. He gave a sudden groan and pulled her swiftly into his arms. And«" The final words were wrenched out of her aching heart. "Someone's coming. shuddering with a more urgent need than she had ever felt before. Grace makes our life miserable with her snide remarks. We are increasingly frightened about the cries of 'witch' on every hand. "Would you care if I married Grace?" "Yes.Giles gave a grunt. not looking at him." Fiona caught back a sob. "Too tricky." Another blatant lie from Blaize when he had said he hadn't killed the animals whose skins adorned his floor. Fiona tugged up the neckline of her gown. At any rate. The wolf probably would get shot first thing." Fiona answered. but Giles only stared straight ahead and said dully. The rider thundered past. wondering if it was apparent how love for him radiated through all her being. "When are you going? What brought on this decision?" "Many things. Fiona shivered. You've seen all those skins he has upon the floor? He brags about his marksmanship. "How can you think of wedding Grace?" ." she whispered dispairingly." Fiona cried defiantly. finding her unresisting lips with his. Dripping hot and shaking in every limb. the seeking hands upon her flesh« Giles heard the hoofbeats first and drew apart. "We must not act like that again. "There's no work to be found in Salem." Giles jerked back on the reins and stared at her. my mother and I may soon return to Boston. "I guess the best idea is to avoid the judge completely. choking out her name. the frantic kisses. There was nothing in the world except their straining bodies." "I don't understand. We love each other. She raised her eyes to Giles." "I know. What was this madness that possessed her when Giles touched her so that she gloried in everything he did to her? It was such exquisite pleasure as she never dreamed existed. He plundered them savagely. so different from the terrifying encounters with Judge Blaize. Fiona. and Mercy has no money to support us.
are you all right? Giles would not say much²whisht! Your gown²what happened? 'Tis all torn and dirty²" "I'll tell you in a minute." Head held high. You don't understand. Dear heaven. she washed and changed into a pale green linen and a fresh long apron. She felt as though he had slapped her. and inhaled deeply. "Was that all you felt just now?" He didn't answer. in your unbridled 'lust. Chapter 18 When Fiona entered the kitchen. From now on. dear God. how could she ever get it back? Was it lost to her forever? She might march up to Judge Blaize's door and demand its return. She had no desire to confide her recent unpleasant experience to the avid ears of Grace and Mercy. she noticed that the doubloon was missing. They had reached Aunt Mercy's house and he jumped down to help her. flicked the reins. If he . she found only her mother present. She evaded his outstretched hand. Giles swept back his tousled hair. "You're right. Lovemaking isn't always love. Giles Harmon. but I would like to change my dress before we talk. Fiona hurried up the garden path and heard Giles drive away without another word. All of a sudden. "Good day. "Ach. heading for the hall. if you don't mind." Fiona's hand flew to her face. which was a great relief. Her mother put down her spinning reel and rose quickly." Upstairs in the attic. but it would not be easy. Sometimes it's only lust." Fiona said.With a stony face. to her dismay. keep your distance from me if you have the slightest compassion." "Of course.' for an innocent virgin maid. I'm wondering if it can be mended? Such a pity²" "Don't bother about it. "I never want to see this dress again. Then she remembered: the judge had untied it when he'd put the emerald chain around her neck.
pearls. my." "Faith. so when I became so sleepy. gowns of silk and satin." However. However. Grace and Mercy were asleep. the judge showed me his treasure room. Now.allowed her in. and every kind of art object you can imagine. that must be delayed until she had told her mother as much as was feasible about the recent events. Giles came a great deal later. He said 'twas nothing serious. at least some of them could be discussed« though not with gossipy Grace or Mercy present. How fortunate that they were out of the house. after you left the table. but I was waiting up for you and agreed with Giles that you should stay at Sally's overnight. There were mysteries involved. I'm thinking. I ate too much. and perhaps a nap. pictures by master artists. brooches." "What did Giles tell you?" "Only that you had struck your head and had to rest at Sally's. First. and if they could not be explained. she must find a way to get it back! Fiona sighed and rubbed her head." she explained. and tell me all that happened. Somehow. Mrs. I had Solbaid drive me home. "to soothe our nerves. Could that be possible? No. I didn't wish to spoil your visit. gold and silver vases« the judge²he²ah² offered me an emerald necklace. things happened fast and she had forgotten to retrieve it in her rush for safety." "In exchange for what?" Her mother's voice sounded horrified. After that." "Do you think the wine was drugged?" "Perhaps. and then had all that wine. I'm fine." Fiona told her quickly. longing desperately for ease of mind. begin at the beginning. the look she bent on Fiona still held nervousness. but only in a wee harmless manner." "How are you feeling?" Fiona asked. what was in it?" "Marvelous things from all over the world. from little figurines to feathered fans. "Now I'll explain what led up to it. She distinctly remembered him removing it. ." "Oh. Prescott set two steaming mugs on the kitchen table as soon as Fiona returned. Fiona dear. which made me feel as though I had nary a care in the world. "I was so concerned when the dwarf told me you had not been well and had to be taken home. inlaid boxes. he might insist that she explain her recent conduct in his treasure room. rings. "He was right. Strands of jewels. "Chamomile tea. Or even say that the doubloon wasn't there and she must have lost it in the woods.
"I doubt Judge Blaize has any supernatural powers. had The Sight. I wonder if Blaize can be a wizard?" Her mother rose and filled their mugs with a fresh supply of tea from a vessel warming on the hob." "It's tender only when I touch it. you know. too. and I recall her only very dimly." Fiona laughed ruefully. wasn't he hired to judge the truth?" "I believed that. Faith. Grace and Mercy also said he might not be as honorable as he seemed." "Your father was the same. She did it only rarely. there are many unexplained things in the world." "You must not be flippant about such a grave matter. He had recently heard rumors about the judge's reputation. on my side of the family. Your Irish grandmother. I'm thinking. "My virtue is still intact due to my good aim with that mirror. and how fortunate her house was near! Why was Giles in the woods so late at night? Had someone become ill?" "Giles told me he was on his way back to Judge Blaize's house to bring me home. and then almost as if coming out of a dream." She sank down on the table bench and added thoughtfully. She died when I was small.' Sure and next day there would be an unexpected visitor. Sometimes I feel so helpless and yearn for the protection he used to be giving us. She would say something like: 'I had a vision last night. I'm thinking we should clean up the guest room. "I never knew that. 'Tis very rare. Mother." Fiona said bitterly." "She did?" Fiona exclaimed. Such innocents we were!" "Yes." "I know. but I put their remarks down to jealousy. child. but now we have to depend upon ourselves." "Yes. Sure. "Ach. "However. if only he were here. "Whisht! Now that I think about it. that is. Do you mean she could predict the future?" "Not exactly. since they had not been invited to his home. But if you . is it an ache you have? Giles said you hit your poor wee head. indeed. and I told myself. and today I feel all right." "It could have been much worse for you. but she took good care of me.Fiona related her tale. Giles feared I might have a concussion when he carried me to Sally's. she is. and rubbed her head. I seem to have a wit that tries to cover up my most worried moments." "A dear girl.
questioned her about the future, she would say she did not know, as though she had no power over her predictions. Perhaps if I'd had a 'second sight' I could have persuaded David to stay out of that stormy sea the night he died." Fiona pressed her mother's hand, but she wondered if God's will decreed that some things were meant to be. "Mother, since we came here, I've had visions about Rebecca Nurse, sometimes when I'm awake, and some-times when I've been asleep." She drew a shaken breath. "I fear it means she is doomed." "Oh, daughter, I pray that you are wrong. Faith, how odd that you had this experience. Why didn't you mention it before?" "I don't know« it made me uneasy, I guess. Do you think it's possible that I've inherited The Sight from Grandmother?" "Fiona, lass, you've had these visions only since coming to this troubled town, is that not so? It may well be that this fear and turmoil is affecting you. And that's why you thought the judge possessed some powers to control your mind, I'm thinking." Fiona didn't answer, certain that she hadn't imagined Blaize's strange behavior and changing images. And then the treasure room« could there not have been a spell at work when she was there, as there had been upon the beach? And both times there had been wine« "Is Giles knowing aught of this?" her mother asked. "He is such a sensible young man²" "I didn't tell him about my visions. I feared he might think there was something odd about me. It was embarrassing enough to tell him how Judge Blaise acted. That made him very angry, and he wanted to avenge my honor." Fiona smiled slightly. "I persuaded him that he might do more harm than good." "I fear 'tis true. The judge could probably be an awful enemy. They say he wields a lot of power at the witch trials." Fiona shivered. "And the finger of suspicion has already pointed at us both. We must be very careful and avoid undue attention." Her mother glanced out the window at a sudden sound of voices. "Here come Grace and Mercy. I'm thinking the less they know about your encounter with Judge Blaize, the better." "I agree," Fiona whispered. "Are they aware I wasn't here last night?" "No, fortunately they were both asleep when I got home."
The next moment, Grace barged into the kitchen, flinging off her hat and shawl with her usual disregard for where they landed. "Exciting news! Rebecca Nurse was charged today²the jury found her guilty." Grace's black eyes snapped. "Didn't I tell you that would happen?" Fiona and her mother both stared in horror, and then Fiona cried, "It isn't true! She's not a witch²I'd swear she's not!" "You're wrong. She is." Mercy pressed her lips together. "I always thought it strange, the way she scoffed at those afflicted girls. It showed she was actually afraid of them." "Anyone would be afraid when the magistrates gave them so much authority," Fiona exclaimed. "They are really only children puffed up by a feeling of importance. How can they know who is guilty? They go by dreams, signs, guesses. Why, they could be lying about anyone they dislike." "But²but²" Mercy sputtered. "The whole courtroom can see the marks made by witches upon the children's bodies: pin holes, black-and-blue bruises, blood pouring from bites²" "And perhaps all self-inflicted," Fiona snapped. Mercy gave a small scream. "Niece, mind your words! You'll have the magistrates taking you in for a court trial." "What do you know, anyway?" Grace hissed. "How can a stupid peasant think she knows more than a Boston jury brought here by the distinguished Judge Blaize?" At that, Mercy looked uneasy. "Grace, you go too far« these are your kin, and hardly peasants. Fiona's father was an English ship's officer, and Ellen knows the art of simpling. Matthew told me she was well thought of in the village, even though I personally don't care for strange draughts from unknown herbs." Grace seemed struck by mention of the simpling, and her expression underwent a drastic change. "Oh, forgive me. My tongue wagged foolishly. I didn't mean it, Aunt Ellen. I know you must be very skilled. Remember, you promised to cure my blemishes, isn't that right?" "Why should she do any favors for you?" Fiona snarled. Her mother directed a speaking glance toward Fiona which caused her to subside, although inwardly she was still seething. "Sure and I remember my promise, Grace, and since we are beholden to you and Mercy, 'tis glad I am to do you a favor in return."
"Will you do it right away, Aunt Ellen?" Grace prodded in a wheedling tone. "I want to be ready for you-know-what." Her eyes slid triumphantly to make certain Fiona caught her meaning. "Very well. I must go upstairs and see if I have all the proper ingredients." Grace followed, babbling excitedly. Even a clear skin would not change Grace, Fiona thought sourly, sickened that Giles had chosen to be joined to such a girl in the close intimacy of wedlock. Grace was badtempered, unsympathetic, selfish, bigoted, and jealous« among other equally unpleasant traits. Aunt Mercy seemed uneasy about the coming simpling and stared up the stairs, chewing on her lip, but in a moment, she turned to Fiona with another matter on her mind. "There's naught in the stewpot, Niece. What do you intend to cook for supper?" Lately, the daily preparation of meals had fallen on Fiona's shoulders, since Mercy and Grace attended the witch trials more than ever. Fiona didn't mind, since she had often cooked at home in Ireland. Mercy and Grace still made the pies, cakes, and breads, because those were the things they gobbled up in large amounts and didn't trust Fiona to cook properly. "I don't know what to make tonight." Fiona sighed. "I'm not a bit hungry." "I'm not surprised, after that splendid dinner you must have had last night." Aunt Mercy questioned avidly, "What did you eat?" Fiona forced herself to recall the viands and told her aunt about roast fowls, poached chilled fish, stuffed lamb« pickled vegetables, sauces, fancy breads, a rich dessert, wines« she felt ill just to think of it all. She gave her aunt an account as best she could and was rewarded with a frown. "No wonder you're not hungry, missy. However, just remember, there are other people in this house who want to eat. I would like you to prepare a chicken with garden vegetables and dumplings. Grace killed a young hen and put it in the spring house to keep cold." "All right, Aunt, I'll fix that." Wearily, Fiona went outside, thinking uneasily that Aunt Mercy was getting more unpleasant to them every day. Were the hints of witchcraft making her upset? Or was her money getting short? Eager to escape from the troubled house, Fiona headed for the small stone spring house where perishable items were kept cool beside a tiny brook running down the center. She found an empty flour sack and spread it down upon the bank outside the door. After the chicken had been plucked, its downy feathers would be saved for pillows or a comforter.
For a long while she worked and watched the birds making forays in the shallow brook. Daffodils nodded frilly yellow heads as if to say, "Do not dispair. There is good and beauty in this new land. You will find it yet." Suddenly she heard the sound of footsteps and the gate swung open. Giles stood there holding his black leather doctor's bag. He set it down and came toward her as Fiona rose to meet him. Remembering how they had parted, she didn't know what to expect. She only knew she loved him. "Fiona," he said deeply, "I acted like a cad a while ago, and I spoke thoughtlessly out of my anger and frustration. I cannot bear for there to be a breach between us, yet all I can say is that I am beholden to Grace and wish it could be otherwise. Would it be possible for you to let me be your friend again? So that at least I might protect you in an emergency?" With the grave, imploring eyes upon her face, Fiona felt her resistance melting. How could she stay angry with Giles when she loved him so? Besides, hadn't she encouraged his lovemaking, giving herself with equal ardor to his hands and lips? And had he ever said it was merely lust he felt? "I was not entirely blameless," she told him in a low tone. "Yes, let us be friends again. There is enough of anger and ill-will in this wretched place." Giles breathed deeply. "Thank you, Fiona. I am greatly worried about things here and how they touch you and your mother. Now, we have an added danger in Judge Blaize. I fear your loveliness has turned his head. I think he won't rest until he has had his way with you. The knowledge of your innocence is acting like an aphrodisiac on him." Fiona paled. She had never heard that term before, but she could imagine what Giles meant. "What can I do?" she whispered desperately. "Leave town, as you mentioned earlier. Slip away at night, you and your mother, and do not tell another soul. If I know when you are going, I could drive you to Boston, or near enough so that you can travel safely to your cousin's." "Oh, Giles, would you do that? I am so afraid here now. Not only of the judge, but also because of the terrible cries of 'witch' on every hand. Did you know that Rebecca Nurse was condemned?" "Yes," he growled, his lips tight against his teeth. "The family is in agony. That judgment will be a blot on the history of this town forevermore, as will this whole witch hunt. I, too, wish I could leave Salem." Fiona put a hand upon his arm. "Isn't there any possibility that you could?" He shook his head regretfully. "I couldn't desert my family." Nor Grace?
and Grace would never understand him. realizing that he didn't love her. tell me all about it right now." "What²what do you mean?" Fiona stuttered. "Even though it would be for the best if you left. stumbling across the garden. a most unusual feeling swept Fiona and she actually pitied Grace." Grace called. who made some sneering remark as they walked away about people seeking attention. which veered from Giles to Judge Blaize to her decision to leave town. Chapter 19 It wasn't long before Grace returned alone to the brook and. even if they wed and had a family. Fiona." Grace plopped down heavily in front of Fiona and pointed disdainfully at the chicken.Giles plucked her fingers from his arm and squeezed them. Then she started prattling happily about her face and Fiona decided that now all Grace had on her mind was the imminent prospect of becoming pretty and marrying Giles. nothing more. Gradually." ." Giles said to Grace. that's what. and don't leave out a thing. It would be a tragedy for everyone. Giles would never love her. I would miss you²" "Giles! I want to speak to you. saying loudly over his shoulder for Grace's benefit. "She hardly works at all and still eats monstrous hearty. "I want to hear about your dinner last night with Judge Blaize. He would be a kind husband. Let me show you how to do that. confronted Fiona. I'm glad that you are all right. trying to collect her thoughts." "Why shouldn't she be all right?" Grace asked suspiciously. she would grow bitter. "Wonderful news! Aunt Ellen is going to clear up my face with a lotion so I will be pretty for the Big Event." Fiona sought to read Giles's expression as he turned away. "You are so slow. "I just wanted to check on you. arms akimbo. missy. Suddenly. "All right." "She had a headache. complaining constantly about neglect.
true or not. trying to sound casual. shaking out her apron. They emerged with tales to tell. she never would tell me what happened. an idea forming in her mind. its contents. I could take the sugar to your neighbor." "Where does Nance live? Maybe I have seen her. "I really don't know why the judge invited you to his home. wrapped in blue paper."All right. and though I know her well." ." she sighed. "And the judge²how did he act?" Grace wanted to know. then." Fiona said. "Two houses past the turnoff in the woods. "Since you helped me with my chore. I've heard some stories about Judge Blaize which would shock your prissy ears. Grace. Guess I had better repay her. relieved to have the chilly chicken in other hands. Here might be a chance to see if anyone else had experienced strange phenomena around the judge. Girls charged with witchcraft were sometimes taken to his home. and then the treasure room." Grace eyed her narrowly. the dinner. "I've heard he likes girls overmuch. I owe her a cone of sugar for some strawberry preserves I made last week." Grace tossed her head and plucked faster than ever. You're not nearly as pretty as Nance Malloy. Could she find a way to make Nance talk to her? She stood up. Grace had come very close to the truth. Take Nance Malloy." "No hints that he'd give you a pretty in exchange for² a kiss?" Grace ran her tongue across her lips. Although some of them seemed too scared to speak." The bird rapidly changed hands and Fiona began a long description of the judge's house. She spent several hours in his home. You really are cleaning that chicken much better than I did. Fiona had to swallow hard. "Go. I imagine you're very fast at chicken plucking. Laws. in case I have to borrow something again. I sure do wonder about that night. Fiona drew in a deep breath. Were you ever alone with him?" "Just for a little while. not aware that she was doing all the rest of the plucking while Fiona rattled on. Can you get that right?" She swept Fiona with a scornful eye. "Well. The sugar's in the pantry. Grace stared into space with parted lips. which I want back so's I can soak the color out for dye. "He was a perfect gentleman. He was a most gracious host. who lives down the road from here.
" Grace nodded. He was just curious."I guess it was because I'm new in town and came from so far away. One handsome and attractive. Life must go on. what was the use of tormenting herself? Acceptance was her only recourse. Her pale blue eyes swept Fiona up and down. They were opposites in every way. I'm her cousin. wide-brimmed hat on her head. unable to listen. Care to join me in a mug o' mead?" . She had a voluptuous figure and a drooling baby riding on one hip. but a dowdy carelessness about her slipping blouse and skirt of soiled and faded satin. satisfied. Giles would do his duty. Fiona rapped smartly and put on a smarmy grin when a young woman answered the door. "Nance Malloy? Grace asked me to bring you this sugar cone with many thanks for the loan. basket on her arm. Fiona groaned. while Grace would push greedily for more. Perhaps if she left town." Grace gave a loud. In a few minutes. Fiona was on her way. Grace would like the paper back. Wedding night! How could she live through that time if Giles and Grace were really joined together? If only I could be that wife. When I get my skin cleared up. If Giles and Grace were wed. At least. it would be easier. she had an errand to perform which might possibly supply some answers to the puzzle of Judge Blaize. His Dishonor was more like it. if you would be so kind. When they made love. Do you really want to tie yourself down to marriage yet? You could be having fun with lots of other men. However. "Sounds right. "You think Giles won't be fun? Wait until he sees me on our wedding night!" Fiona turned away. Oh." The black haired woman stared. Fiona Prescott. it was bound to be disaster. Grace. There was a coarse prettiness in her face. one sensitive and kind. "I had better hurry so I can get back and cook that chicken. the other crude and ruthless. the other plain to the point of homeliness. it should be a diverting experience to meet another girl who had been close to His Honor. right now. Fiona thought. coarse laugh. "I heard you was in Salem. too. The house she sought was easily found." "All the young men will eye you." She ran into the house and braced her hands upon the sink. he'll probably invite me. a shabby clapboard with chickens and a pig rooting in the bare earth before a stone stoop and sagging door.
Nance. "That's as may be. and then asked casually. surprise and wariness in her face. seemed like an odd choice for Grace to befriend." Fiona stepped nimbly into the cluttered. this probably was based on selfishness so she could borrow and impose. just once. coarse and shiftless. I got my hands full here. her jaw sagging. "Well. She didn't even have to introduce the judge's name into the conversation. yes. "Shut up. but it howled so loudly. needed something from the woman. "Do tell! How many times you been there?" "Oh. Blaize don't have the best reputation in the world. He invited me to dinner and then he showed me his treasure room. then he offered me a jewel²" "What!" . Fiona. What luck. She took a taste of the mead. Say. But Lord. "Why was your husband upset about your visiting the judge?" Nance looked uneasy. she took it up and put it to her breast. However. "How awful! Why would he leave such an adorable child and a lovely young wife?" Nance preened and brushed back the wild mane of hair tumbling over her plump shoulders. I am rather warm and thirsty." Fiona cooed. "He musta liked you. she thought. too. Says he's never comin' back. "My man hightailed it outa town last month." she snarled. Would you pour out our drinks?" Fiona did as asked and handed a mug to Nance. and as with all Grace's actions. you'd better go." "My. Nance endeavored to put her baby in its cradle." Nance stared. What all²er² did he do?" "He sat and watched me look around at all his things. "I have visited Judge Blaize's home myself. thank you." Fiona took another sip. The opening had been provided." Fiona stared at her. messy kitchen and sat down on a chair Nance indicated by shoving off a pile of dirty clothes. neither. when he sends an invite." Nance's mouth turned down."Why. "He didn't like my visitin' Judge Blaize. but then she was the closest neighbor. "and git on with your feedin'." "You saw that?" Nance exclaimed. what a sweet child. which wasn't bad. that's why.
they come here. even cruel. "I thought Judge Blaize seemed awfully strange at times. Said he never wanted to lay eyes on me again. suddenly he looked old and ugly. "What do you mean? Strange in what way?" Fiona leaned across the table. knew what I been doin' and got riled up. after all. well. and sat down slowly."He offered me an emerald chain if I would kiss him." "Scary." "Oh." "You will? All right. "He seemed to know the art of wizardry. men do say so. and know what?" "They were fakes. fastened up her dress. so she merely nodded. he was handsome and young and nice. "I hate all men. So it was true." She gave a toss to her tangled locks of hair. Then. I was so thrilled I could hardly speak. he gave me a yellow stone on a gold chain. and I let 'em stay. you got off easy. so when I got home. if I did something he didn't like. looking wise. I saw him that way. then entirely different from the stern judge at the witch trials. and when I fought him off 'cause he was hurtin' me real bad. sated child back in its cradle. then she whispered. She laid the drowsy. Was he like that with you?" Nance's bulging eyes blinked several times." Nance guffawed. "then I'll do the same." Fiona wheedled. Here was grave danger. She pursed her lips thoughtfully. my husband. "What did he ask from you? You have a lot more exciting charms that I have. How could . He got mean and wild. Didn't you think so?" Nance didn't answer right away. "You only had to kiss him? God. How else can I live?" Fiona's thoughts churned wildly. "Then after awhile." "Yes. Sometimes he could look young and handsome and would be charming and pleasant. lowering her voice." Fiona smiled. Next day. It looked like a diamond." Nance groaned and shut her eyes. The judge knew some form of enchantment. Sure. It hadn't been her imagination. mebbee. his true self. "Aye. He took all the money we had and left. Fiona wasn't interested in other men. he began to change. wasn't it? Tell me about your visit. cold and ruthless. I managed to get away. too. First. Willy. but all I had on was my shawl. and after some wine. after I had a fine meal. he would become old again. I let him do anything he wanted²know what I mean?" Fiona had no wish for details. Well. I tried to sell the jewels.
Now I really must go. bad-tempered lazy girl expect to marry him? The way he looks and acts!" She rolled her eyes. "Wish he'd come knockin' at my door. but like all the rest. yes indeed! Don't you want to see that?" "How are you so certain they are witches?" . Fiona sighed." His face looked fearful. Fiona slowed her rapid pace and observed him with disgust. Was there still a chance? Giles hadn't claimed to be betrothed yet." As she hurried away. I'm supposed to cook a chicken for our supper. Nance. How could that pimply-faced. but Grace told me to hurry back or she'll be angry. he evidently had witch hunt fever. Fiona's footsteps slowed. she placed her basket in Mercy's yard beside the fence and then hurried down the road to Salem Village. Could there be a letter from Boston now reposing at the Town Hall. He looked pleasant and intelligent. Why allow herself the luxury of foolish unlikely dreams? The future held a clear. wait." "Grace always was a lazy girl.any normal person fight him? Giles was right. he continued. yet excited. Thank you for the mead. but Grace made enough loud claims for both of them. A young man joined her. When she shook her head. Fiona removed the paper from the sugar cone. Shaking inwardly. "Are you going to the witch trials?" he cried eagerly. As soon as possible." "I'll return soon. It might be dangerous to wait until they heard from Samantha. emerging from one of the houses bordering the outskirts. grim pathway which she must tread alone. good day. "Hathorne is there today and he'll make those witches grovel and beg for mercy. The only way was for her to leave Salem²at once. she and her mother must slip away in secret. Nance. "You think she won't?" " 'Course not. "I hear there is a goodly bunch today awaiting sentence. I'll be bound. ya promised to tell me what happened with you and the judge. Everyone's in a hurry to see them. "Grace wanted to make dye from this wrapping. wantin' a little time with me. she felt hope stirring from Nance's words. Thinks she's gonna marry that young doctor. So nice to meet you²" "Hey. Huh!" Fiona hesitated at the door. against all reason. I'll come back soon." "Yes. where all the mail was put to be claimed? With a quick decision. well.
she thrust it into her pocket and then considered her next move. staring. letters. "The Master!" and dropped the duster. dearie? I've changed my mind about attending. Fiona desperately wanted to retrieve her doubloon. and put a hard hand upon her arm. "I haven't seen you around before. Peering through the opening. They are all around us."Why. Suddenly. Fiona saw Solbaid flicking a feather duster over the articles in the room while he danced and sang. Before they left. "Oh. empty hall and tiptoed its full length until she reached the treasure room. big. She would have to figure out a plan of action when she reached the house. sir. eyes darting everywhere. Cautiously. . I'm from Boston. but something the young man had said made her very fearful. sweetheart. it opened on oiled hinges. She had no intention of attending the witch trials. Even the sea on the beach below could not be heard. they could stay a few nights at some cheap inn. to her joy. and silent." That had happened to her more than once« from Grace« Aunt Mercy« the afflicted girls« yes. copies of the Boston News Gazette « at last. she hurried from the deserted village and took the main road leading to the beach instead of going through the woods. "It only takes a finger to be pointed or a whisper. Since it was addressed to her mother. dark. you know him personally. she easily found what she was looking for: a table with all the mail upon it." Fiona ran off before he could see the loathing on her face. and from within came a high-pitched humming. eh? I'll see you inside. Fiona advanced. dark. no dogs barked. and a good friend of Nicholas Blaize. She slipped into the long. it only takes a finger to be pointed or a suspicious whisper to dig out a witch." His face grew bold and leering. and amazingly. packages. No birds twittered in the trees. Should she ring the doorbell? Or try to sneak in unobserved? The latter course seemed preferable. She tried the heavy. she found a letter from Cousin Samantha. Without hesitation. Save me a seat inside the meetinghouse. At last. but first I have some business in Town Hall. iron-bound door. In the entrance to the hall. Say²" He halted. If Samantha should not be ready for them. since she didn't think the dwarf would let her in. since it was a gift from a famous man and a momento of a voyage when she had first met Giles. indeed I will. They had a little money and could easily find work. however. This might be a good opportunity while Judge Blaize was probably at the trials. it was imperative for them to get to Boston. "Why. the lonely mansion on the bluff came into view. no people were about. The door stood ajar. will you. he stopped and whispered. What's your business here?" Fiona gave him a coy glance.
Fiona then heard the high whinny of a horse and voices coming from the front. But she had stayed too long. I left the meetinghouse in other hands. Put it all behind you. Go wait in the front room and we will have a glass of wine. How about a kiss to thank me. my timid dove. Footsteps were coming down the hall and then she heard a girl's high. What to do? Where to go? Dear heaven. I will change your reluctance all in good time. He advanced slowly. I recently rescued her from a horrible jail sentence and now I must help her to recover. You did not treat me well at our last meeting. white-faced. The doubloon had been taken from her neck when Blaize had offered her the emeralds. "However. "I believe you. my dear child. "Not so fast. There were no windows. "Later. and when the dwarf emerged. Tell me why you are here. then. Unclothed. Fiona. Nicholas Blaize. his arm around a young blond woman. Did you decide to take my offer of a jewel or two in return for favors?" His bold eyes swept her and he moved a little closer. She stuffed it in her pocket and took a quick glance around the room. she darted into the treasure room. his well-schooled features showing no surprise. and her heartbeat thundered. "Good day. and we were not unclothed. "Imagine. This was exceedingly risky. looking straight ahead. She will be staying for several days. "The offer still stands." he hissed. hmm?" "Oh." The gall of him! Fiona drew herself up angrily. "You recall that this was mine. who was edging toward the door in Rosie's wake. drawing back. Fiona. Meet my new friend. but she had to take the chance." Rosie whined. Your Honor. nervous giggle. or fake? She couldn't tell and dared not linger for a closer survey. who responded with a trembling smile. It was just your neighbors who claimed you showed witchlike behavior. I thought you would return to view my treasures. and only a single candle flickered so that it was impossible to see clearly. Rosie Dawson. "I wish a word with you. they were going to hang this sweet young thing for dancing in the moonlight with young men. Fiona. saw Fiona immediately. Your Honor²" she stuttered. marvelous and rich. alas. It matches mine. I am your protector now." Rosie fled and the judge faced Fiona. "I came here to retrieve a souvenir. Were the ornaments now real. please." His black eyes swept over the woman." He touched his head and winced. I like a lass with fire in her blood. There is nothing like a lusty fight before the thrill of conquering. Now go. She flattened herself against the wall." ." She held up the doubloon. they were coming to the treasure room! There was naught to do but face them. still on the table. though it seemed to her they looked as they had when she'd first seen them. Praises be! There it was." "It²it was only with my betrothed.
I could even say you stole from me after giving me access to your charms. "Do you see? It's a Spanish doubloon from a treasure horde discovered by Governor Phips. it's worthless. "When Judge Blaize had my mother and me to dine the other night. Incidentally. "I'm fine. However. Chapter 20 Running faster than she ever had in her life. Then he urged the horse to a faster gait. and reached down his hand to help her. He was on the same ship when my mother and I came to America. "Oliver!" Fiona cried. making sure it wasn't loose. Oliver." Deciding she owed him some kind of explanation. "Yes." Fiona tied the cord around her neck. I think you should do that now. Fiona gained the road in time to see a cart clattering toward her. "Are you all right. Fiona raced out of the house. After several glances at Fiona's white face and trembling hands. looking sick with terror. "Perhaps you are wondering why I seemed upset when I ran into the road . the parlor door flew open and Rosie. She fled into the hall while he screamed invectives and pounded at her heels. "Please wait²let me ride with you!" "Get in. don't you think you owe me something for terminating our last encounter so painfully? I could arrest you for assault and have you put into the stocks so all could witness your disgrace. Fiona continued. A red haze swam before her gaze as she dodged sideways. The delay was just enough.He shrugged." She fished the coin from her skirt pocket and held it out. One day he gave me this pierced coin for a souvenir. burst into his path so that he staggered back and struck the wall. he asked. and today I went to get it back. since you are here. lass?" He probed no more than that." he said at once. A familiar figure held the reins. Just then." "I have heard about Sir William's amazing treasure hunt and how he was knighted and named governor as a reward. Let us step into my bedchamber²" "Never²never!" Fiona screamed." "I highly prize this coin he gave me. I mislaid this keepsake. and he banged awkwardly into the table.
Of course." "Recover?" Oliver sneered. Do you know which lass it was?" "Her name was Rosie Dawson. those normal days will return sometime. and rewarding work. "It's ridiculous to think so many could be guilty! I have never heard of such a thing. "Has he made any improper overtures to you?" "Nothing happened." Fiona gasped. The Puritans had stern laws. children. and she is betrothed to someone who evidently was not arrested. he might return at any time. "I feel so lucky to have Sally for a friend. but he is something of a fool. "Today he has a new girl in his house. Salem used to be a prosperous fishing and farming community." . angry glances. "No. Truthfully. dark. I heard about their gallivanting in the moonlight which started neighbors' tongues wagging." Fiona's lip curled. people found happiness in marriage. Hopefully. This way." Oliver replied decisively. don't you agree? Often over the most trivial things." "Do you think it will be soon?" "No. and then there might be hope. I find every encounter with Judge Blaize more and more disturbing. and I reckon Governor Phips has his hands full with the Indian Wars up north." "Do you think she would wish to be rescued?" Fiona faltered. "Blaize would then see that she was retried and convicted of witchcraft.and hailed you. but on the whole. "He claimed he freed her from a charge of witchcraft but must keep her in his home for several days so she can recover." "When is it going to end?" Fiona moaned. at least she will live. Do you think he will still want her after this²defiling?" "That's Tom Warren. The madness and suspicion in this town have reached terrible proportions. All I see from others are suspicious looks. Can't anything be done?" "Only the highest authority can take action. and a nasty eagerness to watch those awful trials. "I fear she may wake up to find her virtue and her self-respect gone." "It wasn't always so." she answered." Oliver's heavy brows descended. I hope he'll have enough sense to realize that none of this was Rosie's fault. There are over a hundred cases awaiting trial.
Its harsh." "I wondered about that but supposed it was some forgotten promise he had made to Grace. she felt doubtful that he was still the same unpretentious." However. Tell Sally I will see her soon. I have none. is my advice. the meal was later than usual. "Giles is not my young man. but Fiona made a tasty dish of cut-up chicken. "I'll get right to the supper. He took her to the berrying. He had a lot of problems to deal with. her face puckered with distress. don't despair.Fiona stared at Oliver's craggy face. where Fiona jumped down nimbly. "Thank you so much." "It's her dowry. picking up her basket. "You see. and Giles does not deny it." "I intend to. He is going to marry Grace. that night you and Giles came to supper." "Fiona. She pondered his remarks about Sir William. Sally was very lucky to have obtained the devotion of such a person. friendly voyager she had known aboard ship." Oliver frowned down at the road." "Grace! who said so?" Fiona sighed. he invited me. Oliver. celery. Oliver. If only she could see him! However." "That judge might give you trouble. Those two are not hitched yet. lass. I can't believe that they are suited for marriage. deep lines and heavy lips gave no hint of the thoughtful. and bubbling dumplings cooked at the end on top of the simmering stew. Fiona retraced her steps. you know. I'm glad you came along." "Perhaps you and your young man will visit us again some evening. lass. Grace. "Is that the way of it? Well. but then he had to change his plans and arranged for Charles to be my escort." Fiona quavered. sensitive man inside. carrots." Fiona said hastily. At first. She and Oliver spoke but little until the wagon halted before Aunt Mercy's house. "She talks about it all the time. Why. Steer clear of him. "Where's our chicken stew?" "Goodbye. are you going to stand out there blathering all night?" Grace yelled from the doorway. It won't take too long. ." he called after her. onions. I told my Sally that I had never seen a man more besotted when he looked at you. aside from the troubles in a little village.
even after all we've done for you?" Aunt Mercy sniffed. she asked her mother in a low tone to accompany her into the garden. now she seemed to be more and more resentful of their presence. as they started out the door." Grace called. Aunt Mercy certainly was not as pleasant as she had been at first. be witches? She must learn what was in that letter! As soon as Fiona had cleared away the supper." Aunt Mercy said grudgingly. All of those be poisons. continue on with your work. If you are suspicious." Fiona denied hotly. so I am going to visit her tonight. "If there's a man around. Is it possible you really don't want to make it for me. or nightshade. "Please. She devoutly hoped that avenue of escape was now open. hemlock. but felt uneasy. It began to be increasingly urgent every minute that they go to Boston. I but jested." Aunt Mercy's eyes on Fiona were hostile. "Why did it take you so long to get it ready? Lots of chores are not finished yet. "Why must you lie?" "Stop that bickering. and that's the sober truth of it. perhaps you may wish to change your mind about the using of my salve. "Aunt Ellen. Never do I use such things. "I lack an ingredient which Sally said she could supply." Mrs. "Just a minute. when they were all eating at the table." Fiona subsided. "You know it spoils digestion. Aunt Ellen. I want to know how my lotion is coming along. and 'tis only healthful things I use." With that. too." "Fiona was out there chatting away with Oliver Woods. Why had Giles stressed the point that their going should be kept secret? Would someone try to stop them." "That's not so. Fiona had given Samantha's letter to her mother but hadn't learned the contents yet." "No." "What is it? The fat of children digged out of their graves?" Grace cried avidly. and there will be no wizard's items such as mandrake." Grace said nastily. in fact."This isn't too bad. Fiona has to be there. no." "Sure. Ellen drew herself up tall. but if 'twill cure my girl's complexion²" "Faith. "Oh. I'm sure Ellen knows how much she owes us. . Although always a complainer and a whiner. It seems to me you are monstrous slow about it. she and Fiona moved briskly into the garden. Prescott assured them." Grace said hastily. I shall do my best. someone who had decided Fiona and her mother might. "You speak of witch's ointment. I don't rightly hold with those strange Chinee herbs.
with all this suspicion pointing at us? I think if we leave." Fiona glanced back at the house as they gained the road." "So there is nothing in your concoction which would bother Grace?" "Whisht. if we decide to stay in Boston. Sure and they depend on us now to carry out a deal of chores. no! But plants are different here in the New World. suppose we could not find work? Could we be returning? We might have angered Mercy and Grace by leaving without telling them. dear Lord. Birds . Rendered fat or tallow is needed in all salves to hold the other ingredients together. She sits all day long at witch trials. You're right. nibbling on goodies in her basket. Samantha says 'a visit. 'Tis not good at all. he does. but now Mercy is becoming unpleasant. We'll have to stay a day or two longer just to see Grace through this medication. And« and then there is another problem²namely.' naught about a permanent home for us." "I know. I have an idea. I'm thinking. and exercise would help to stir her blood about. they will not want us back." Ellen agreed. What does she say?" "She states that she is well and urges us to visit her. However. this is terrible. I fancy things and people here have changed greatly from the days before he went to Britain to complete his studies. Her mother groaned and twisted her hands together. I'm just not sure it's best to go in secret. However. and then we'll slip away. I am most eager to hear about Samantha's letter. Let us discuss this with Sally. They were now in the woods with cool evening shadows all around them. you understand. No one can hear us now. and Sally said she had some from moles that had attacked her plants. "Ach. but mind you. She had not considered all these aspects." "Whisht." Fiona chewed her lip. fat is needed." "Mother. Judge Blaize. Ach." Fiona tried to laugh. "Actually. who has been away for a long time. who has designs on me. we have not only aroused suspicion from Grace and the afflicted girls. Mother. "We must think about our own future and make plans. Giles told me that we should go at once and not tell a living soul. and after a moment she said slowly. I'm thinking this would be a giant step for us. seeming relieved at the chance to discuss their problem with another person. 'Tis only a mild and soothing ointment I'll be making. We must leave as soon as possible. She knows these people better than we do. now! Does he think our plight that urgent?" "Indeed. Grace should not eat so much rich food. better even than Giles. "Doesn't it seem to you that Mercy and Grace might be glad to see us go. Mother. but Grace is not our main concern. but failed.Her mother gave a short laugh.
Copper pots twinkled on the hearth and strings of onions and herbs hung drying from the rafters. Sally gave them each a glass of apple cider. " 'Tis an Indian dish. Her face lit up with pleasure. and pungent branches swayed above their heads. A big pot of daffodils and larkspur graced the center of the well-scrubbed table. and suddenly there was Sally. "My favorite neighbors! I'm so glad to see you. and from it a plume of smoke rose in the purpling sky. He would belong to Grace. "Why do you call it hasty pudding when it's cooked all day?" Sally smiled. stepping around the side of the house. Will you come in and have a bowl of hasty pudding? It's been boiling all this day. They like a jest as well as the next person. I sincerely hope he finds contentment. Fiona and her mother refused the porridge. She knew he could fill her with completeness. Her mother threw her a compassionate glance. "Happiness" was being part of Giles. It was icy cold from the well house and Sally drank thirstily." . It should have been a refreshing. and she had no hope for that. all she could wish for was that Giles would have a good life. and he deserves happiness. "Do you think Giles will be content if²if he marries Grace?" Fiona asked in a low. Even though he might be about to marry Grace. By-theby. somehow« some way« Sally's house now appeared through the trees. peaceful place. my darling. Someday«" Her voice trailed off. Instead. grunts. Fiona. A fine young man he is. love." Fiona managed a little laugh. "The fish Oliver brought home today for supper left a salty taste upon the tongue. Tears crowded in her throat. and somewhere a dove called out. So do you. she would no longer see Giles. The sound of sleepy animals came from the barnyard²squeals. and soon he would be lost to her forever. "Ah. as well. Fiona. he was the only thing that saved her reason. In the midst of this terrifying witch hunt. What joy it would have been to join her life with his! To revel in his tenderness and the ecstasy he would bring when they were joined in wedlock. He had the strength to see her through life's tumults. an empty pail dangling from her hand. If they stayed there. The ground crunched with pine needles underneath their feet. moos." They all trooped inside. he said he met you. where the aroma of com and molasses filled the cozy kitchen air.chirped sleepily. since it was such a short time since their supper. after he had left the wharves. Fiona couldn't answer. unhappy voice. but all Fiona could think about was the coming trip to Boston.
Prescott nodded. someone he had rescued from a charge of witchcraft." Fiona felt a rush of joy which quickly faded as Sally continued. especially the way Grace feels about you. I fear. what do you advise us?" "We have a cousin in Boston who has asked us to visit her. the judge sought to detain me. He introduced her as Rosie Dawson. her blue eyes huge." "I fear he won't forgive the fact that you have escaped his clutches.Fiona realized suddenly that she had not yet told her mother about her excursion to Judge Blaize's. "I was so glad to see Oliver and get a ride home with him. Sally. and was just about to leave when he arrived with a young woman." Sally gave a little smile. "Perhaps." Sally whispered. She had feared it would upset her mother. "but there it is." "Suppose we can't survive in Boston and must return to Salem?" Fiona put in. "Do you think Mercy and Grace would be angry about our sneaking off without explaining or thanking them? Might they refuse to take us back?" Sally frowned." "That poor child!" Sally burst out. I had forgotten about it until today." Fiona answered simply. to continue. "At first. "It sounds appalling. but he had Rosie waiting. "I really believe Grace and Mercy may be close to calling down charges of witchcraft on both your heads. this time he did not pursue me and I got away with Oliver in his cart. "you went back to his house after²after²" "I had to. "She will have to pay dearly for his help." Sally continued. so I managed to get away." "Fiona. They are no different from the rest of Salem." Fiona said." Fiona took a long quaff of cider and spoke into her cup. "You are not thieves. but now she decided it was best to speak of it. the judge was not there. Luckily. I slipped into the house unseen. terrified of . I had been to Judge Blaize's house to retrieve this keepsake. "Now I see the need of leaving here as soon as possible. got my doubloon. but I understand your fears. Do you agree with that? I confess it bothers me. "but Giles thinks our departure should be kept secret and we should slip away like thieves in the night." She touched the pierced coin at her throat "I left it there when we dined with him." her mother cried. Fiona." "Well. noticing uneasily that Sally's face had paled. Unfortunately. She greatly fears your power over Giles. Mrs." Fiona and her mother grabbed each other's hand. "He is very angry with me because I have fought off his advances.
" her mother said. We won't tell Grace or Mercy. as they walked along. After years of repression and obeying harsh. Fiona ran back. Dear child. More." Sally rose and brought the jar of tallow. "after we go. "You must be gotten away as quickly as possible. Fiona. Her mother moaned. I am asking.witches and highly suspicious. I'm afraid the judge wants to use you. Fiona. their opinions sought. not mentioning our destination. as we did on our arrival. what wickedness have we stumbled into? 'Tis almost unbelievable. I thank you for your advice. Prescott tried to reject the kind offer. tears shining in her own eyes. "Oh. "Sally. He is not wed yet²" Sighing. Please give me the tallow for my ointment and as soon as Grace has used it and I see that 'tis working. cheeks ashen. "We have many things to do. and that's the truth. They are famous heroines. just leave a note." Fiona grew icy cold and hugged herself. Will you tell him that I²I love him and will always pray for his well-being?" Sally embraced her. 'tis your silence also." she whispered. "Clothes must be packed and perhaps secreted in the woods. please do not despair. "There is another reason for secrecy." She finally raised her head. "Sally. Fiona shook her head. since Judge Blaize has his own desire for vengeance. perhaps. and I am sure Fiona feels the same. come here and let Oliver drive you to your relative. and that is if word reached Judge Blaize. even if it meant placing you both in jail. My mind is now made up." "Of course you have it. suddenly the girls are being listened to. and hurried off to seek the path through the woods. You see." Mrs. I truly believe you both are in as grave a danger as any convicted witch in town. to appease his unhealthy appetite. but Sally was adamant. thanked Sally once again. But when you decide to go. no matter what the hour. I may never see Giles again. they want to stay important to this community. "Dear heaven. covered by branches. restricting laws. Fiona and her mother stepped outside. and nothing will stop him until he has triumphed. Thanking her profusely for everything." Sally looked gravely from Fiona to her mother. putting her face down in her hands. her voice thick with unshed tears. The witch hunt itself is so horrible. my daughter and I will slip out in the night. . Suddenly. and then to think this monster controls it and has became inflamed by my poor daughter. I think he would try to stop you from leaving. Oliver said that Grace is constantly conferring with the afflicted girls when she goes to town and those creatures are always on the watch for victims. eyes wide.
" Fiona muttered. "Mother knows what to do. "Grace is so greedy for results. However." "Ach." Aunt Mercy fumed. she muttered scathingly. However. "You can see how easily it blotches. I can then apply it to Grace's skin and instruct her in its use." "How soon do you think that we can leave?" Fiona asked in a worried voice. but no more than twice a day. one good thing about this treatment is that Grace's attention will be focused on her face and she may hardly care or notice when we go. this morning her mother had neglected some of her chores to attend to Grace² among them." Aunt Mercy said. feeding the black cat. Fiona filled his saucer with milk and the animal blinked at her with its strange. "The salve should be ready tomorrow. continuing her worried dialogue. Darkness had now fallen. and arm in arm. She backed away hurriedly. Twice the thread had snarled and caught. Chapter 21 "Ellen has been upstairs with Grace for a long time. she might even feel a little grateful for the salve.We may not have time to seek Oliver's aid." Fiona tried to reassure her. so let's just take what can easily be carried and get the rest another time. and only a spoonful at a time." ." "I hope it works. pale eyes and gave her a little hiss for her pains. they continued on their way in an uneasy silence. she may use it all at once. "I wonder what she's doing?" Under her breath." "I wouldn't place much hope in that. Her mother seemed to be the only person the cat would tolerate. "Grace has a very sensitive skin. She must continue applying it for several days." Fiona answered grimly. "Nasty Chinee drugs!" Her usually rhythmical steps back and forth at the spinning wheel had become quite jerky.
angry-looking flesh. "Oh."Don't worry. "Come. "Help! Save me! The devil has tricked me²see what she has done?" Grace shrieked. a little later. won't it?" Aunt Mercy persisted." Her voice shook. Sit down and rest. I can't tell yet. aye. backing away. Mother. "I²I'll fix a soothing lotion²" "Don't you touch me. "But I hope Grace won't use it more than twice a day." "But it will turn out all right. God. Ellen. how did it go?" "Faith. suddenly the air was shattered by a spine-tingling scream. and the black cat immediately leaped upon her lap. broken only by the humming of the spinning wheel. child. pointing her finger across the room. bawling at the top of her lungs." Ellen sank onto the settee by the hearth. dear Lord. Fiona gave a cry. when the sun filled every corner of the room. the ointment has inflamed her! Some ingredient must have spoiled during the long sea voyage. However. "Oh. Her screwed-up eyes were almost lost in the folds of red." Fiona sat down to wind the yarn for her aunt and silence fell upon the kitchen. "Oh. came tumbling down the stairs. then broke off as a figure appeared in the doorway. and the gentle bubbling of a stock pot in the hearth. I applied the ointment to Grace's face and told her to lie down." Aunt Mercy flew across the room. the purring animal. we'll go get something from the village apothecary. "What happened?" The blood drained from Ellen Prescott's face as she rushed to Grace's side. "Aunt Mercy sobbed." She began to stroke the cat." Fiona began. "Ellen. "Alas. I don't have all the same ingredients that I had in Ireland. and over here some things are different. "Witch! Witch! Aunt Ellen is a witch! Look at me!" . a little worried crease upon her brow as she gazed into the fireplace. pushing Grace through the door." Grace yelled. Grace. what have you done?" Grace tore ahead down the road. her face a swollen ball of fire. her hands outthrust. roaring like a wounded bull. At least I can trust him. here she is now. have you finished? You look tired. of a certainty. Mother has worked with herbal ointments for many years. "Oh.
but 'twill pass. red hair. Mercy trying to catch up and adding her own yelps of terror. she has constantly thrown out hints that we are witches. Now. pacing back and forth." "You can't. "Suppose²suppose they send the constable for you?" "No²no²they wouldn't be after doing that²" Fiona beat her hands together. Since then. The town has gone mad with witch hunt fever." Her mother's dazed eyes widened. "You didn't see them at the trial. And now²" Fiona's voice choked. her injured face will convince anyone who sees her. "Perhaps we should prepare to leave this place at once. They all shouted and began to follow.A man and woman in a nearby yard turned to stare. Probably Giles will be there in his dispensary and can talk to us." "She knows I only tried to help her²" "Of course. "The salve inflamed her skin. Grace disappeared from sight. We are in the gravest danger. I tell you. quickly! Ask them!" Fiona hesitated. what shall we do? This may bring on the trouble we have feared. Mother. I think I should do something to help Grace. It takes only a whisper and they are off like a pack of wolves on the scent of blood. the cow going dry that first day." "Yes. and her voice trembled." Fiona's mother said in a trembling voice. knotting her hands together. but first. and they know the situation in Salem even better than we do. this is very serious. They are not in sympathy with this witch hunt. but Aunt Mercy was against your treating Grace in the first place. the Harmons might be able to advise us. Oh." "Go then. Grace has been suspicious of us ever since we arrived. "Are you sure?" Fiona clutched her arm. Mercy won't let you lay a finger on her. "Mother. A couple of children ran out of a house farther down the road. "Grace thinks you deliberately bewitched her! And did you hear the other people? They all took up the cry of 'witch' when they saw Grace's face." "Then²then²I'll start to pack!" . "What shall we do? Go to Sally? But how can she help us? Oliver will be at work²" A vision of Giles's strong face rose before Fiona. You know. He had been her best friend in this miserable place. even if we have to go on foot. She ranted on about our black capes. Still shrieking.
" Fiona gripped his hands and gave a choked sob. Grace wouldn't do a thing like that. all right." Mrs. Harmon answered her frantic knocking." Fiona shook her head. "You had better tell us everything that Grace has said about you and your mother so that we can see what you are both up against. Oh. Grace looked so awful« her face« Mother made this salve« and now she's all red and swollen« and« and« Grace ran off crying 'witch'!" "My dear. "Why." With a startled glance. Mrs. "Please²I must talk to someone. hardly able to form the words. Grace ran off down the road shouting 'witch." His tone was deep and strained. "Sit in this chair and catch your breath. she has been suggesting that Mother and I might be witches. I'm so afraid. Ever since we arrived. yes! She thinks Mother poisoned her skin on purpose. "She called Mother a witch as she ran toward the village. Grace got frightened and is saying she has been bewitched. a worried frown on his face. Harmon wiped her hands on her apron and propelled Fiona into the kitchen. looking down at Fiona with a grim expression."Just throw a few things in our carryall.' and others heard and followed her. Where is Giles? Oh. Fiona gasped. Giles. Harmon threw Giles a bewildered glance. "Fiona. yes. her skimming feet seeming barely to touch the ground. I will fetch my son. "Yes." She choked and drew a ragged breath. it's Mother. I'll be right back. what's the matter? Has something happened?" "Yes. "Your mother made a salve for Grace and it had a bad reaction when she used it. "Oh. I am so frightened²" "My dear child. I do see." Fiona snatched up her shawl and raced across the fields. "Do you have any idea what she is talking about?" "I think so. "Grace is calling her own aunt a witch?" Mrs. Is that correct?" "Yes. Don't you see what this means?" Giles rose to his feet." Giles dropped to one knee by Fiona's chair and clasped her trembling hands. I don't understand a word you're saying. When Mrs. "What! I don't understand²" Giles folded his arms." Her voice broke and she had to swallow hard. "She meant it. come in. I'm sure she didn't mean it." ." Giles came quickly. Harmon exclaimed.
I'm going to see what's happened. "you came here for advice. Giles nodded and left abruptly." Giles said intently. he pushed her back down in the chair. he had mentioned it one time and said Grace had good reason to be jealous of Fiona." he grated." They exchanged glances full of an unstated meaning. "Oh. Grace hinted that we had lured their cow into the bushes and it had gone dry after that Then. Giles?" He nodded." "It certainly does. "It all sounds so ridiculous when I tell it. too? That doesn't help matters. I think I should have gone with him²" . Just so we can talk this over.' " "So Mercy is angry and suspicious. harsh lines bracketing his lips. and taking a few steps back and forth. She said our red hair was the mark of a witch." She started up. Prescott to our house. running his fingers through his hair. Now it's her pet and avoids the rest of us. Remember. Aunt Mercy got angry and frightened." Mrs." Giles muttered. "What shall we do?" He regarded her beneath hooded lids. Fiona ran to the window. She really looked terrible." Firmly. "First. everything came to a head when the ointment inflamed Grace's face. This current trouble overwhelmed all else. Harmon put a detaining hand upon his arm." Mrs. "The next morning. too. lips tight against his teeth. Harmon muttered. when the bowl of grain flew out of my hands. "Grace has never liked me. "Go on.Fiona brushed a shaking hand across her brow. Then. a strange black cat came to the door one day and Mother doctored it. "Well. She looked up at Giles imploringly." Fiona gave a little. Fiona. she said it looked bewitched. hysterical laugh. "Son. Called them 'Chinee herbs. perhaps you should bring Mrs. She didn't want Grace to use the salve in the first place because she was suspicious of the ingredients. "It all started that night when Mother and I arrived out of the woods and scared her. You wait here." Did Giles realize that Grace's jealousy of her was at the root of it? Yes. His admission had thrilled her. but she must not think about that now. you understand. Grace said all witches have a familiar spirit to do their bidding and usually it's a black cat. Now take it: wait here. today. "No! I'm coming with you. "Fiona.
pushing the damp hair off her forehead. a hot mug was thrust against her lips. There is more. however. and the constable has put out a searching party. How can such a thing be possible?" Fiona cried wildly. my poor mother." Giles drew her down into the chair and kept his arm tight around her shoulders. dear. The only one with any clarity was that they should get out of town at once. dear. "What did you find out?" Fiona cried. Fiona." Fiona said with a heartfelt sigh. Giles is a sensible young man. you must be very strong now² as I know you can be. but²" "But what?" Her voice rose shrilly. "I must go to her. "We stand ready to help in any way we can. "Drink this. God. "My dearest girl. you must be brave. Every minute added to their danger." Fiona took a few gulps of the rum and water laced with sugar. face flushed. She coughed and pushed the cup away." Someone placed her in a chair and in a minute. "I'm cold. it probably won't come to anything. then at Fiona." "Oh." Before she could move. "What happened?" Giles glanced at his mother. "I must go and see if anything has happened." Giles said. "Fiona." She told Fiona that Charles and his father had gone out of town to buy some sheep. his fingers tightening on her shoulder. eyes burning. covering her face. trying to stand on suddenly unsteady legs." "Thank you." Tears oozed through her fingers as harsh sobs wracked her body. "Listen to me. do what he said. not really. Her teeth chattered and she whispered." Fiona said at last. The room and the people in it seemed to waver and move far away. "Giles has been gone far too long. You cannot help your mother locked up beside her in the jail. but she was sure she spoke for all of them. Giles burst into the kitchen."No. then. "Your mother was arrested. too. she paced back and forth. Grace denounced you." ." Fiona swayed. "Fainting and crying will not do any good. We can hide you in the secret room. her heart plunging wildly. So cold. "Surely Grace and Mercy don't believe she is a witch. She refused the offer of a cup of tea while wild thoughts tumbled through her head. but you must stay here while we decide what to do. "Where's Mother? Why didn't she come with you?" He expelled his breath and swallowed hard. Unable to sit still. in jail! She would never harm a soul.
' Your mother came out the door and the black cat took that unfortunate moment to leap onto her shoulder. firm voice and the forcefulness of his will penetrated the gray haze surrounding Fiona. Prescott started to protest. She glanced once beseechingly at Mercy and said her name. murmuring encouragements." He persuaded Fiona to finish the rum and water. I thought she looked frightened when Ellen was led away. "I'm all right now. unable to stop her tears." Fiona clenched her fists. At that she swayed. I'm sure Grace will change her testimony once her . and paced around the kitchen while he talked. never fear. eyes wide with fear. Mrs. even those who hissed and pointed at her. but Mercy looked away. "Don't worry too much. Shudders ran over her while Giles chafed her cold hands. my dear. she picked up her shawl and stepped into the yard." "That detestable cat!" Fiona cried. But know this. and when there's an accident. "The constable told your mother she was summoned to court. Fiona²your mother didn't cower from anyone. "It's unbelievable. she shut her eyes and pressed her fist against her shaking mouth. an apron covering her face. Head high. His strong. Harmon." "I waved to her from the back of the crowd and she nodded slightly." "And Grace. I guess. Perhaps she didn't intend the charges to go so far. I won't faint. a crowd had gathered there. this is the thanks she gets²charged with witchcraft!" For a second. Everyone pointed and exclaimed.She closed her eyes. "Oh. We'll think of something. lips pressed together." Fiona demanded hotly. "where was she?" "Hiding in her room. Tell me everything that happened. accused of witchcraft. so I am sure she knows you are safe. "How can that awful girl have done such a thing? My mother tries to help her. then said she didn't know where you'd gone." "Surely²my²my aunt won't denounce us?" Fiona faltered. "I'm not sure yet. "I don't know. and at last she whispered. The constable then said she must go with him. and leaned against him. They had seen the proof in Grace's face. thrust his hands in his pockets. Everything!" Giles stood up. but they cut her off and said they also had a warrant for her daughter. babbling about Grace's face and shouting 'witchcraft." Mrs. shook her head and swallowed hard. I saw her only briefly. Harmon quavered. "When I reached the house. She marched beside the constable without a backward glance. flying up the steps. the poor girl« the poor mother« what shall they do?" Mrs.
" he whispered. How he must be gloating now« She started at a sound behind her. "The only safe place for you is in the secret room I once showed you. He raised her chin and pressed his lips to hers for a brief. Tonight Giles will see your mother. she was foolish. Surely she won't want her aunt to stay in jail. If so. His mother followed him outside and they had their heads together as they walked slowly across the yard. I'm sure you could do with a little rest. Anybody could wear black cloaks. food. and attract a young man. I'm sure. Of course. what a good chance for him to take revenge! Was it too late to seek his help or to hope for his compassion? Of course it was. How could a human being condemn another person to such a terrible trial which might evolve in death? Surely Grace and Mercy knew that Uncle Matthew's kin could not be witches. his cheek against her own. Giles asked me to make you comfortable in the secret room. Fiona wondered if Judge Blaize would be presiding at her mother's trial. "Come." Fiona turned her anguished eyes on Giles. Harmon reentering the kitchen. He can even snuggle in a note from you. heart-stopping moment. please²don't you think I could sneak in to see my mother? Take her blankets. we'll lay our plans. if only we had left sooner²" "I don't think we should tell a soul outside this house that you are staying here. even in the midst of Fiona's grief and turmoil. They will be watching for you to do just that. Now I have a patient I must see. Oh." "We can't be sure of that. "young man" was the crux of the matter. twice at his home." For a moment." Fiona cried. easily influenced by her strong-willed daughter.temper has a chance to cool down and she thinks it over." "Oh. my dearest heart. my dear. once at the beach. but it was only Mrs." "I cannot hide while my mother lies in jail. "Should we speak to Sally or Oliver? She said Oliver could drive us to Boston when we made up our minds to leave. As a doctor. he will be easily admitted." ." Giles said sternly. have red hair. As for Mercy. he impulsively swept Fiona up into a hard embrace." Giles replied. "When I come back. "It's the only way to help your mother. A feeling of unreality enveloped Fiona as though she were in the middle of some awful nightmare and would soon wake up. Suddenly. incredibly sweet and sustaining. She had humiliated him three times. talk to her²" "Impossible. Grace had convinced herself that she had an evil rival and that harming the mother was the same as harming Fiona. "Courage.
She must see Grace alone. she decided that although she couldn't visit the jail. Aunt Mercy probably was in the village. All was quiet. Mrs. Fiona was only vaguely aware of her surroundings: the narrow cot with its mat and pillow. "You are both so kind. Grace suddenly appeared at her open bedroom window. her black eyes stared. she sped across the fields to Aunt Mercy's house. Fiona rested on the cot but couldn't sleep as her mind whirled. considering and rejecting many avenues." . witch!" Grace squawked. "Grace. "There's a warrant out for your arrest²and it's about time. Thanking her. gazing up imploringly. too. There she came to a hesitant stop beneath a tree in the backyard.Fiona still hung back. but Giles had said he'd seen Grace run up to her room. I must speak to you²" "No. I could put you all in danger. As if in answer to a summons. "What are you doing here?" she croaked stridently. The Harmons evidently were occupied elsewhere. No one could stop her from leaving. Now. there still might be something she could do. I don't know what I would have done without your help. the plain chair. Above a white bandage draped around her face. adding a few words of hope and comfort. Finally. "There's another thing. The secret room is the only place for you. the small table. Giles will think of something to do. Perhaps the barn²" "Nonsense. "Go away. She rose and listened at the door. Harmon told Fiona she had some pressing chores but would return later. If they come looking for me here. Slipping out the front door. only a small chink in the roof admitting air. starting to back off. come along." Fiona sighed tremulously. No one but our family knows about it. There was no window." Chapter 22 Alone in the secret room." Fiona moved closer to the house.
but the swelling is already going down. "Your face is badly blistered." "The apothecary said I had been poisoned by a mysterious substance and he'd never seen a face so bad. Grace roared. and Fiona tried not to flinch. and neither is my mother. I swear I'm not a witch. Some ingredient spoiled on our long sea voyage. "And Aunt El²that witch² did it!" "But not on purpose." "You know in your heart she is not a witch. You must know that such things happen. and Fiona's voice quickened with the most urgent emotion she could summon. Oh. kind person who doesn't deserve such an awful fate. if she's a witch. "Well. she ought to die. pounding on the windowsill." ."Please. Haven't medical treatments here ever had bad results? People dying in spite of every care? Mother certainly was not trying to harm you." Grace tore off the bandage. If you continue with these terrible accusations. but you begged so hard. She didn't have to make that salve. how could you cry out on your kin?" Fiona struggled to suppress a sob. "You! You have done all kinds of things²the drying cow. "well." "Yes. bewitching Giles so that he was led away from me." Grace blustered. I know the constable is looking for me. and I've always thought so. "Do you really want to see your poor aunt die." Grace yelled. and soon you'll be locked up with your mother. She's just your aunt and a good. You begged her²" "Ha! Just look what she did to me. hanged by the neck on Gallows Hill? Her death would be on your conscience to remember all your life. "Wasn't my mother always kind and sweet to you? She just wanted to help by fixing your face. Isn't that the truth?" Grace didn't answer. How can that hurt? I'm risking my life by coming here. Grace. It isn't anybody's fault." Fiona had to pause and wipe the tears now running down her cheeks." Fiona then made a grave mistake. you may regret it all your life. she finally gave in. befriending Rebecca Nurse and her grandchild. the spilled grain." "You can't really believe that. "As for me² " At that. wait²I'm begging you." "I won't listen to a witch²" "Just hear me out. Grace. What do I care? You're a witch.
"Well. using all her self-control for emphasis. He and Grace would become parents and might rub along together as well as many another married couple. the steady. . She walked slowly across the yard. gazing down at the weeds and dusty earth of the neglected garden. As for Giles. For a moment. She would have to contact her again as soon as possible. Marriage wasn't always a blissful union and a sympathy of minds as Fiona felt she and Giles might have had« if he'd been free. if you declare you were mistaken. On the other hand. You have turned his head and heart from me." Grace grew still. wayward locks of hair he was always pushing from his brow. even if it meant the end of all her dreams. "You« promise that?" "I swear it. she turned and left the window. gripping her hands together. and Charles. gray-eyed gaze that had sometimes quickened with desire when he'd looked at her so that he seemed unable to stop his hands and lips from touching hers. He's been friendly to my mother and me since we had that long sea voyage together. that you were upset because your face had become inflamed. just dreams. She felt there would never be a man in her life as wonderful as Giles: sensitive. Never to see Giles again! What agony that would be. and he was right. but a flight of robins suddenly started up from some bushes and Fiona saw Giles run in from the road." Fiona cried fervently. then Fiona drew a shaken breath and spoke. strong." "I'll have to think it over. My mother and I will go away at once and you will never see us again. but when you had a chance to think it over. his parents. She would do anything to save her mother. the dark. if you will speak at the hearing and say you made a mistake. If your testimony should cause our deaths. that's all they were. Fiona stared blindly at the house. their eyes locked in combat. and passionate²all rolled into one devastating male." "Giles does not love me. fighting for control. grave voice. He had his doctoring. How could she live with just the memory of his deep. and eventually he Would have a family of his own. Fiona sighed and turned away. Giles had said she must be strong now. For a moment she shut her eyes. perhaps he wouldn't care that much if she disappeared from his life. wondering if her arguments had pierced any of Grace's stubbornness. intelligent. For a moment. he probably will applaud your compassion. you realized you didn't mean the accusation« if you will retract your words²I promise never to look at Giles again or have anything to do with him. and with that unsatisfactory answer. he may resent what you have done and become angry. "Grace. And of course. I don't know« I've seen you kiss Giles.That was really the important part and both of them knew it." Grace muttered. No sounds came from the house.
don't you know how terrible I would feel if any harm should come to you? I don't know how I could continue living. Grace was leaning out the window." Giles growled. He gasped for air and gripped her shoulders. coming here? Why on earth did you leave my house? Don't you know it's your only sanctuary? That you're in terrible danger if someone sees you?" Her nerves raw. "Come on!" and caught hold of Fiona's hand. a roar issued from the window. "Grace never would listen to reason if she didn't want to. and I'm going to see you put in jail. With a sob. "Fiona. Without another word. "Oh. "Leave me alone!" "No." Giles spoke through gritted teeth. I won't. Fiona struggled in his grasp. Fiona. like all witches. They sprang apart and Fiona gave a startled cry as she glanced at the house." With a sudden jerk. Giles cried hoarsely." He grabbed her shoulders and shook her hard." "I'm not surprised." . Giles Harmon. glaring at them. I can't. saying faintly. and I'm not in jail²not yet. she flung her arms around Giles's neck and feverishly returned his kiss. "Witch! You're a liar. "My God. he pulled her close into his arms and pressed his lips to hers in a long.He brought up short in front of her. Mrs. desperate kiss. Had she seen them kissing? Grace verified this by screaming madly. "I'm sorry. Fiona snapped at him." Fiona sagged against the wall. where you belong!" After one swift glance. blotting out every other sense. Then I would see that you stayed put. his voice tight with anger. You're not my jailer. "I wish I were your jailer. Harmon confronted them in the hallway. "I had to try to do something. Fiona." Before Fiona could do more than moan his name. Grace won't help either of us. panting. my goodness. they sped across the fields to his house and dashed inside." "And will she?" "No. She covered her eyes with her arm. Instantly a flame leaped through Fiona. where did you go? We were so worried. I'll never believe another word you say again. are you crazy. I went to beg Grace to help my mother²to see she'd been mistaken.
cold parlor. hot food«" "You're most kind. I will be allowed to see your mother. "Fiona. but the lamp was still alight. surveying her from beneath his long black lashes. worried look." Giles gently took Fiona's arm. Giles leaned against the wall. no one outside the family knows about the secret room. where he pressed a button and opened the panel by the fireplace." Giles stretched out his hand to her. "Visits must be approved by Judge Blaize." Mrs. "a blanket." Giles said with a frowning. He led her to the dim. Fiona sank down wearily on the cot. a so-called 'witch' might be released. confess sins. and suddenly all ability to think or reason was beyond her. you must stay here in hiding until we decide what's best to do. then run off together. The only way you will be caught is if you leave the house again. "So you see. and I will tell her you are safe in our care. "Please let Giles take you to the secret room. Fiona trudged behind him up the narrow staircase. few of those accused want to say that they are witches. Harmon said gravely." Mrs. "My mother never would confess to a crime she didn't commit. She spoke steadily to Mrs. but Fiona moved away. "No matter if they searched the entire house. "Since I am a doctor."Fiona. Fiona. Thank you both. The little room at the top was almost dark." Giles said." "But my mother²isn't there some way I could sneak by a jail window and call to her? Couldn't I go with you tonight? She must be worried sick." "We'll send some comforts to her. and ask for mercy." "I beg of you to tell me first." "Yes." Giles shook his head. In that way. Harmon stated firmly. Harmon begged. and then only if the visitor is there to beg the accused to admit guilt. before you act. Harmon added. "Grace saw Giles and me kiss each other. but all her personal property and real estate would be forfeited." Mrs." Mrs. "they wouldn't find you. this action of Grace's completely destroys the bargain she and I made. I'll go to the secret room for now." "She would also stand convicted for all eternity and thus endanger her immortal soul. Do you suppose she guesses where I am?" "Even if she does. Perhaps some other plan will come to me." Fiona shook her head and said brokenly. Harmon. come on." .
There never was the slightest chance of that. and I'll come back later." With a quick stride. dearest. You need to eat to help your nerves and mind and strength. What was this place? The Salem jail? Her eyes moved to the narrow cot and the other bare. Giles's warm kiss and declaration had been a brief respite. Another time and she would eagerly have sought his lovemaking. "Oh. "beef vegetable soup. gazing in bewilderment around the shadowed room. I had to wait²" Fiona trembled in his clasp. "Grace knew how much I cared for you and tried to make you think I'd marry her. their salty taste running into her mouth as she sobbed and sobbed." "Thank you. but her mother's image haunted her and she put her hands against his chest. "It's not much." He placed a tender kiss upon her brow. Giles pulled her up into his arms. "Forgive me. Grace would show no mercy. "I'm going to stay right here until you clean that bowl and plate. worrying about me? Is it like the awful dream I had? If only I could see you!" Tears gushed down her face. Giles. corn-bread. completely drained. All she knew was that she had failed with Grace. and now her jealousy would be worse than ever. She jerked up. not knowing where she was. You are worried and exhausted. With the bargain between them broken. she found relief in sleep. what are they doing to you? Are you in a cold." . trying to throw off the agony that engulfed her. but I knew you were so young and innocent.With an effort. This is not the time for us. "It does? What bargain?" "Grace said that unless I took her to the berrying party and stayed away from you in the future. and a jug of apple cider. tears in her eyes. Fiona fell back on the cot." he said. tilting back against the wall. Finally. a terrible anguish flooding her. Rest now. When he had gone. drawing it closer to the cot where she sat. Mother. young lady. but now she couldn't comfort herself with that. She smelled the resinous pine needles in the mattress. Fiona pressed her hands against her eyes. but I'm not hungry. That's why I had to change my plans. she would denounce both you and your mother as witches. I've loved you ever since those days on ship when I went nearly mad with desire. Mother. plain furnishings. miserable cell. The knocking came again²and she remembered. Giles called her name and entered carrying a tray which he put down on the little table." He sat down on the chair and crossed his arms. terrified. alone. A knocking at the door awakened her. Fiona asked heavily. Doctor's orders.
enjoying his effect on all those looking futilely to him for mercy. too. We don't want any surprises. Sometimes cases are dismissed due to a legal error." "I fear your friendship with Rebecca Nurse will also go against you. and so are the townspeople who saw her fiery face and know my mother caused it. how can we find such a loophole?" Torn between hope and dispair. Now. Giles leaned forward. I saw it happen once in England when I was summoned to give evidence about a doctor in the hospital. Then there are all those other things that Grace will say we caused through witchcraft. Mercy! He doesn't know the meaning of the word. no matter that it was an accident. resting his arms on his knees and linking his long fingers. "Another person hates me now. "Alas." His eyes widened. We need someone in authority to discuss this with." "I know it's bad. since she didn't trust those 'Chinee drugs. "Feeling better? Good. The worst enemy I have. Giles clasped them tightly. vindictive and sadistic. but there are so many cases to be tried." she murmured after a moment. "It's good. I am not a lawyer. Aunt Mercy is against us. Someone without prejudice. let us discuss the situation." "Can you think of anyone?" . It seemed he had not been properly advised about the accusation. "Grace is against us. "And the possessed girls were already suspicious and antagonistic when you met them that day in the lane and they saw you holding Rebecca Nurse's grandchild. "I believe he is very powerful at the trials. Giles." "Oh. and unintentionally. a loophole might be found." Fiona's eyes flew wide open. I don't want to sound pessimistic." Giles said slowly.The aroma of meat and vegetables in rich broth drifted from the bowl. but he shook his head. "I've been giving this a lot of thought. she dipped in the iron spoon and brought it to her lips. When she finally pushed aside the empty bowl and plate. "God." "We have to find a way to thwart the courts. Judge Blaize!" Fiona nodded grimly. I'd almost forgotten him." Giles said.' as she calls them. Fiona reached her hands across the table. The evidence against her sounded overwhelming²and there was more. "Could that be possible here? Or something like it?" "I don't know. with obvious reluctance." Fiona groaned. and the jury has been assembled in such a slap-dash manner. but we have to get a clear picture of the situation and consider every aspect. maybe in the speedy sentencing." Fiona's lips trembled as she looked at Giles.
I saw your mother. she continued reading: ." "Shall I send a note?" Fiona quavered. Chapter 23 Fiona didn't see Giles any more that night. his gray eyes dark with concern as they rested on her face. Giles. and to your family." "Give her my love. Fiona caught her breath and felt horror suffuse her at the word "shackles. Swallowing her tears."Not offhand. so they have grown suspicious of all papers. "It might be confiscated." Quickly he pressed a kiss upon her wrist. She read it quickly. but the jailors are not inhuman. There is a way of writing messages in lemon juice that is invisible until placed before a flame. A cold gray light seeped through the ceiling chinks. I'll have to wrack my brains. "We'll do something. I shall tell her that you are safe and being taken care of. for she fell asleep and didn't wake until dawn. Quickly. The jails are crowded." Fiona swallowed hard and continued huskily. his strong face full of love and pity. then rose. and by it she spied a folded sheet of paper near the door. kindly mother was being put in chains at any time. Will you let me know how Mother is. Tonight I should be allowed to see your mother and find out when her hearing is scheduled. I promise to try in every way I can. they remove all shackles. He shook his head. he went out the door." It was almost beyond imagining that her gentle. "I'm very grateful to you. even if it's very late?" He nodded. noting that it was from Giles: My dear. and she is holding well with the bravery and strength I noticed constantly on our long voyage. and unless an inmate has to be in court. then. and²and say that I am praying for her and feel sure that we shall get her out.
She sends you her love and begs you to stay hidden. This was all to the good. I was able to get my lips against your mother's ear on the pretext of checking her for injuries. She must attend the examination this morning. donned her shawl. careful not to make a sound. and for a moment. or else they would have searched the house." He and his family were all doing so much to help without showing a bit of reluctance or worry that they might get into trouble. Thick vapors had drifted inward from the sea to hide familiar objects in a mysterious. secretive veil. piled her hair atop her head. but she knew it would not be long before Grace alerted someone. She drank the remains of the cider. bent her head in a desperate short prayer. Would Hathorne be more considerate? At least. Your mother's examination is set for tomorrow morning with just John Hathorne questioning her. I am going to let you sleep this morning. no one could be worse. Down the stairs she crept. she could not stay here indefinitely. I will try to attend.I brought a blanket and pillow for your mother and a jar of hot soup which she consumed eagerly. . I whispered that you were safe in our house and none of us was giving way to despair or panic. but if I am delayed. it seemed no one knew that they were harboring her. who was already under suspicion and couldn't afford to have herself brought to Judge Blaize's attention in any way. Giles. it was a relief to know that she was not being abused and had held on to her strength and hope. So. as she would be secreted as well. Love. I will pay another visit to the jails. No. That was the end of our conversation. So far. It sounded as though he would not be presiding at her mother's hearing. as I know you need it. How good Giles was! What would she have done without him? She pressed her lips to the spot where he had signed "Love. please do not leave the house. Neither could she seek aid from Sally. Amid all the noise of people talking. But Fiona knew the danger. Giles Fiona read the letter several times and although it was painful to picture her mother's incarceration. I told her that we were planning a scheme to save her and she promised to keep up her spirits. although she protested that they were adequately fed. Fiona inhaled deeply and made up her mind then and there. She eased open all the doors and emerged into a strange white world. my dear.
I instruct you. As she feared. and²" John Hathorne's cold steely. Yet she felt sure the trial would soon be in session. mistress. and in the silence Fiona heard the next words clearly. but²" "And was not your cow dry the next morning? Mind you. no lowing cattle. At first. madam. yes. smoky strands of fog trailing upward among the silent branches. no one seemed to be abroad. but the sounds were muffled and she could not make out a thing." "Well. Thankfully. When she was on the village path. "Truth. no birds announcing the new day. but she had doctored it. Ellen Prescott. there they were. There is not a shred of truth in what you claim. her mother was speaking: "I scorn your accusations. she could see ahead only for a few feet at a time. had you ever seen the accused woman or her daughter before they appeared at your door six weeks ago?" "No. I don't know about the straying«" "Was the cow dry or was it not after these two strangers cast their eyes upon it?" "Well« well«" "Speak up." "And did not a strange cat suddenly appear and attach itself to Mrs." There followed a mumbling and a shuffling of feet. We now call Mercy Prescott to the stand. "Mistress Prescott. Might there be an open window somewhere? Yes! Although it was too high for her to see inside. wispy. Dear heaven. the cow was dry the next morning. there was just a jumble and a confusion of voices. your daughter. sir." . You may step down. She also said your cow never strayed so far afield before. This court will soon discover who is lying. groping journey. she could hear quite well. voice interrupted her. That is all for the present. the doors were locked and the hearing had begun.She hesitated briefly in the yard. Grace. She knew a row of pine trees edged the field« yes. shunning all others in the house?" "Yes. Then a gavel pounded. has already so testified. wondering where she could find the road. and probably the meetinghouse was packed already." "Yes. speak the truth and nothing but the truth. mistress? Beware of what you call the truth. and then the hard voice spoke again. She reached it after what seemed a long time due to her slow. She put her ear against the panels. say you. Even the animals were hushed²no cackling hens.
" Mercy Lewis. Send more men to aid the search!" He rapped for order. A cruel smile touched her lips." "Quite so. Fiona dived into the thickest part of the ghostly. yes. Startled. Stand down. I was against it. demanding that she stop or a worse fate would befall her. the doctoring. "I call the next witness against Ellen Prescott. dampened her hair with a soggy mist. Then all sounds ceased as the suffocating. Fiona froze against the wall." She gave a gurgling chuckle and her fingers stretched forth like daggers as she slid forward." An excited buzzing rose inside the courtroom when nobody came forward. then with a cry. choked her throat. Soon. Behind her." "Were you in favor of their application to your daughter's skin?" "No. "Fiona Prescott. you are wanted by the magistrate. Mercy gave an outraged yell as she fell against the building. God must have directed my footsteps toward the catching of a witch. apothecary. We now come to the crucial point. John Dunn. "What!" roared Hathorne. then cleared his throat. however. The unnatural girl. the tallest and oldest of the afflicted girls. The bailiff stepped close and whispered in the magistrate's ear. Mercy Prescott. "You have not found her yet? This be devil's work."Ah. the footsteps of her pursuer thudding sifter her. she ducked her head under the outstretched arms and fled. I now call Fiona Prescott to the bar of justice for questioning. cold weight. Did you ever see any unfamiliar herbs in Ellen Prescott's possession?" "There were some I did not know. the voice and footsteps became muffled. a voice spoke clearly to Fiona through the fog. "How fortunate that I was late coming to the hearing this morning. mist curling around her feet like a cold fire. loomed just a few feet away. like some thwarted demon. cried hoarsely to Fiona. I feared²" "That is all. It drifted into her nostrils. And how do you account for your daughter's poisoned face when she was doctored with these same strange herbs?" "I²I cannot." Suddenly. blanketing fog wrapped Fiona in its damp. . white world and ran blindly.
. straining every taut nerve.The road« where was the road? In and out among the deserted buildings she stumbled. It seemed to be a never-ending maze until suddenly she smelled the sea. "Fee« ooh« na«" Faintly. the door opened and he emerged. but Hathorne will do quite well until I'm ready. Suddenly. and then we'll talk. Fiona backed away. I was just about to break my morning fast. choked throat. the force of her terrified heartbeats shook her entire body. Fiona moved as fast as she dared through the silent. No. attempt clear thinking. Fiona let him take her arm. The call came again. Fool that she was! She must make no more sounds. sliding her feet along. He led her into the parlor. staring eyes looked blind. his voice was now kindly. had been planted in a garden. don't leave. When she turned around. Pray. thank you. in front of her this time. she might crash into Mercy Lewis. coaxing. hysterical laugh burst from Fiona's raw. She put out her hand and felt a wall behind her. however. The figure didn't move. strong arms and scream the town down until her prey was surrounded. At that moment. who would hold on to her with big. "Sit here on the chair. This one. Fiona moved forward. she listened. holding it fast. Turning. Vines and bushes wound upward. a shape loomed up behind her." His eyes burned into hers. join me in muffins or fruit. for at any moment. Now not a figurehead. It was the figure of a woman with yellow hair. dazed and numb. clasping her face with shaking hands. a space cleared in the fog and Fiona saw with astonishment that she had emerged at the pathway to Judge Blaize's manor. It was a figurehead! A wooden carving used on the prow of sailing ships. shaking with exhaustion. Fiona shrieked. thick white world. A wild." "I'm not hungry. Almost ready to collapse from her recent ordeal. Exhausted. "I was about to visit your mother's questioning. "I see they didn't catch you yet. She must try for calm. she leaned against it for a moment to rest her laboring lungs. where a cheery fire burned in the grate. sinking breathlessly down onto the ruby velvet cushions as the strength left her limbs. Come in and warm yourself. The mouth grinned foolishly while the round. her nerves still jangling from her fright. As it had been sometimes before. a blend of salt and kelp drifting faintly into her cottony world. Hands outstretched. the horrible call came to her ears. Unmoving. Had the girl heard her scream? Fiona clapped her hands against her trembling mouth. she tried to skirt the town. She must have taken a wrong turn. All the while. it was the real and terrifying Abigail." Moving as in a dream. chipped and past its usefulness. hands folded across a faded blue and scarlet garment." Fiona murmured.
" "Correct. so I know you wish my surrender to be completely willing. she must concentrate on the matter most important. "You know. You rate your virtue highly. and he. His voice came thick and slurred. 'Twill be a lucky man who has first access. "What is to stop me taking my fill of you right here and now and give nothing in return?" "You do not wish to ravish me. yet ripe with burgeoning passion waiting to be released in a fiery torrent. "But were you not afraid that I might also turn you in?" "No." " 'Twas fate." he intoned deeply.Today Blaize wore a black silk shirt with a lace jabot. unsmiling." he answered huskily. This morning I listened outside the meetinghouse and heard part of the testimony against my mother. studied her in return. and he stretched out his hand. unable to stop the rapid rise and fall of her agitated breathing. "No. "And why was that?" "Because I still have something you want. you tried to buy my favors. His bland expression seemed to quicken a little as their eyes met and Fiona looked away. and silver-buckled shoes. "You are a clever girl² as clever as you are beautiful. but before it was finished Mercy Lewis appeared and chased me through the fog." There was a long silence while Fiona forced herself to look at him. gripping her hands tightly. an idea swiftly taking shape. that my mother and I have been accused of witchcraft by Grace Prescott?" "An unconscionable turn of events! Was that what brought you to my door?" "No. and you are right. Yes. and his voice was velvet-deep. Her voice was strained. I would see the merchandise for sale. Innocent. dark blue velvet breeches. with narrowed. it was just pure chance. however. calculating eyes." She brushed aside his questing fingers. Today. He slid closer until his knee touched hers." He raised his diabolical black eyebrows. I have never known another like you. remembering with a dart of fear the odd influence he had had upon her previously. . She sat erect. of course. Formerly. I managed to elude her and found myself on your doorstep. I must have a guarantee of your good faith." she answered steadily. "First. my dear. unsullied. I want you soft and smiling. He noticed it and stared down at her body.
In writing. all those things." Fiona cried distractedly. mistress?" Solbaid hissed. Still giggling. "I want to take it to the jail and see my mother safely on her way. hot red mouth.whispering my name when we come together in my bed. "Water? Scent? A hairbrush?" "Yes. the bony. I've often wondered²" "Enough! Get out before I call your master. the dwarf slid away." His lips stretched taut across his pointed teeth. yes. Meanwhile. Fiona was terrified." Bile rose in her throat as she envisioned his naked old man's body. and disrobe. Fiona almost swayed with dizziness and fear« a fear she must conquer. smirking slyly as he ushered her into his master's room. and it was so intense and fiery. Her life depended on it She waited. "and it is like peering through a piece of glass." "The golden robe is in that wardrobe." "It shall be as you wish. There were no windows (to avert escape?)." Dear God. Go into my bedchamber and don a sheer golden robe you'll find there in the closet." she declared. I shall prepare an exonerating note. scrabbling hands. "What can I bring you. too. She must do it again with every wile at her command. but knew she must not show it. "And you guarantee to help us?" "What do you want? A promise to acquit you and your mother?" "Yes. The dwarf appeared and bowed Fiona down the hall." he tittered. Fiona prayed! Her mind worked at fever pitch. White pelts covered the floor surrounding a large satin-covered bed. She had outwitted him before. He rang a silver bell. do not shake your head! I ask only that you come back here and let me gaze my fill. but there should be a compromise. How could she get a signed document without sacrificing her virginity to this monster? "I wish to see this letter written first. Ah. The note must also say that there will be no future complaints against us. She swallowed. Something for me. only mirrors on every surface. rewarding experience for us both. Fiona eased the door ajar as soon as he had left and heard him speaking in the parlor." They rose and faced each other. "Go now. I promise you. She knew neither of them could be trusted an inch and . I promise not to touch you. holding herself rigid. his drooling." "Very well. Why bother wearing it. Scarlet was the predominant color. The dwarf can accompany me and make certain that I return to you. it will be a long.
that they must disregard the other words. and no sooner was the hallway clear than Fiona sped on silent feet out the front door. as directed in the note?" "Yes. While holding my note above a flame. he danced away. as fast as she could go. I long to see the Robe of Sheer Delights. I have done this before with the one who serves me in the jail. also a bowl of lemon juice with which I shall write on the bottom. so be sure it gets into his hands and no others. a name flashed into her mind« the name of someone who might help her. they can read the truth. "And it will make me more willing to do all your master wishes. "My nerves need calming. hurry!" Fiona clenched her hands. The fog enveloped her immediately and was a sanctuary now. and bring her to me." she explained. fortunately not stumbling or crashing into anything. "Bring me the ink and paper. So Blaize thought he could trick her! Two might play that little game. master. "Of course. She knew that she must put the sea behind her and go in the opposite direction. thanking the heavens that no one was a witness to her flight. She fled to the bedchamber and when the dwarf brought her a silver bowl and brush. hurry. indeed. Chapter 24 . after you have enjoyed the girl.she must use her wits if she was to save herself and her mother. And as she ran. She tiptoed down the hall and listened. she requested a glass of wine." "She wants to freshen herself with water and a comb. Go now. She ran blindly. all the while not knowing when or how she still might be pursued." "You are so cunning. The judge was speaking." Chuckling." Demurely she cast down her eyes." "Well. Then. the constable will come for her. invisibly.
and when I said 'no. Even though Oliver does not hold with this witch hunt. "I wanted to hear the questioning of my mother. Harmon clicked her tongue and ran to latch the outer door." Before Fiona could reply." Mrs. I can see you shivering. where have you been? Your shawl is wet. Voices came from the kitchen. calling a greeting to a buxom maidservant entering the henhouse. A handyman carried a pail toward some pigsties. screened by trees and bushes whenever possible. Oliver and I have been so worried. Giles went to the trial. and arrive at the Harmons' farm. "Here. never." Mrs. She immediately poured some liquid into a pewter mug and handed it to her. "They came last night and asked if I knew where she was. I take it you did not meet?" . Harmon said. he offered to drive her and Mrs. and Fiona listened. I had to go. and you look chilled." "I understand. but he has not returned. then all exchanged greetings. he could not defy the searchers. "I am so sorry about all your trouble. and creeping forward. Harmon gasped." Fiona removed her wrap and sank down wearily on the fireplace settee. Fiona stepped into the kitchen. "We must not let the servants see you.' they searched the house anyway." "Oh. Fiona hid behind a stalwart oak until she could slip in the door unseen. who were following orders from the court. you poor child. Sally's voice came to her ears. "In fact. It's hot." Sally answered vehemently. "My dear." At that declaration. Fiona. stretching her cold hands toward the blaze. but Fiona still took extra care to keep hidden as she crept beside the road. "Please don't scold me. Giles's mother returned.The fog soon thinned. she debated going directly to the secret room. Soon she was able to pass Mercy's house." Sally moaned. Both women stared at her aghast. She could only pray that she was headed in the right direction and breathed a sigh of relief when familiar objects divulged themselves to her straining eyes. Prescott to Boston as soon as possible. the fields beyond. "but would he hand over Fiona if he found her?" "No. drink this." Mrs.
But it was Giles who followed his mother in from the hall. "One week from today. Perhaps you need not tell him you've been out²" At that minute. Harmon inquired. but she had to do it. lemon. Fiona raised her head. smelling the damp wool. "She had already testified. and Sally seemed to sob. Fiona ended by saying. no. merely giving a quick nod to Sally. He'll be here any minute. I gathered. Harmon hissed. "Steady now. Harmon give a muffled cry. I must go at once to Boston. Fiona drew a ragged breath. "I heard only Mercy's testimony. Quickly changing direction. "Giles would be distraught. I didn't hear the end of the questioning because Mercy Lewis found me listening beneath an open window where I had crouched because I couldn't get inside. Fiona shut her eyes. the black cat. Might I borrow a horse?" She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand and straightened her shoulders. but I eluded her by plunging into the fog. Next«" Fiona hesitated. ." he said deeply. and mainly the potion that inflamed Grace's face. she heard Mrs. clinging tightly to Giles's rough tan coat. She tasted honey. His eyes sought Fiona and he hurried to her side. taking a long swallow from the mug." Dimly. Fiona gripped his arm. Harmon cried. "I eventually found my way here. I could tell she didn't really want to testify. Nothing is final yet. "What happened at your mother's hearing?" Sally asked anxiously.Fiona shook her head. and chamomile. She tried to grab me." "Was Grace there?" Mrs." He pulled Fiona into his arms and pressed her head against his shoulder. In a couple of minutes. my dear. there was a banging on the outside door. you must not leave." Mrs. Should she tell them about Judge Blaize? Sally was the only person who would understand why she had sought his aid and what he wanted in return. "Boston?" Giles echoed blankly. feeling his cold cheek press against her own as he murmured endearments and encouragement. "I'm all right. bound over for trial. They dragged very damaging evidence from her about the dry cow. "M²my« mother²?" "Alas. but I dare not stay²" "No. Her voice could hardly form the words." Mrs. But still she might be shocked at Fiona's daring to outwit him in his own home. "If that's Maryanne. I'll send her on an errand.
. but Fiona goes with me." "I grew frightened and flew between them. if you please. Fiona thought. burly though he is. Remember he said on the voyage that he would help me anytime I needed it?" "Shipboard promises²" Giles began doubtfully. Giles." Fiona put out her hand. it may be our only chance!" "I think you're right. I can ride a horse. I grabbed the judge's arm and he struck me on the shoulder so that I fell down on the garden path. Oliver gave a roar and charged. "I agree. Blows were exchanged. Late last night."I want to ask Governor Phips for his advice. was getting the worst of it²almost as though Blaize had supernatural strength." Sally paused for breath and her audience didn't move or speak until Mrs." "Oliver came out and heard him yell that he would kill me if he found I knew where Fiona was hiding. I can't involve you. For some reason. hair on end. I knew there was more behind their anger than Fiona's whereabouts." Giles stood up. That is why I came here. "Thank you and Oliver. Fiona. the wolf. "Dear heaven. almost roughly. We both think you should go without delay. Gray. "You must try everything. but there was suddenly another roar. "The²the judge²?" "He got away while I held Gray back." Sally nodded." Sally said." he said. no. soared across the fence. You have an implacable enemy in Salem. if you will saddle one²" "Do you think I would let you go alone?" Giles cut in. When I said I didn't know." "Giles. and so did Fiona. I thought he would surely know where you were. he went into a violent rage." Fiona protested. Judge Blaize came to our door. Oliver would not stand for my being threatened. "Mother. Sally. "Oh. "Oliver promised to drive you to Boston. "Fiona. It was an old feud comprising jealousy and revenge. a little food and money for Fiona. but how much better for the world if Blaize were dead. I will hitch up the wagon right now. another charge. Oliver. demanding that I divulge your whereabouts. Harmon stuttered. then felt guilty at her bloodthirsty wish. fangs gleaming. and they both began to fight. so Giles could relay the message." Too bad.
A few minutes later. breathing rapidly." "Perhaps Fiona should hide²" Mrs. no matter what happens. You'll have to bear it for a spell. suppose they²" "Suppose." She emptied coins from a bowl into Fiona's pocket. Thanks for coming. the wagon piled with sacks from which emanated the most evil smell. I worry all the time that I am putting everyone in danger. hardly conscious of the painful jouncing of the cart over the rocky ground. trembling. Then she sliced bread.He didn't argue. added apples. so choked with gratitude was she as she embraced them both. "No!" Fiona shook her head. They seem to be heading here. It might have hidden us. I'll make for the woods." "Thank you so much. who may know of a way to help her. Your own is still too damp. now. I'm hoping it will discourage any searching." With a brief nod. "What is that?" Fiona gasped. but we can't go too fast or we'd draw attention. "Mother. We go forward and do. "Can you breathe? All right. "Quick! A group of men are just across the field. Put your shawl around your face. holding her hand across her face. Giles. I fear. take my shawl. "Now. odorous gunnysacks." He helped her up. Sally. and desperately she tried to keep her mind from frightening pictures which nearly brought on panic. I'll be back after Fiona is safe in Boston with her cousin. Harmon shrugged. the horse stood ready." Fiona could hardly speak. and wrapped it all in a cloth. Near the barn. Fiona followed him without another argument. It's too bad the fog has lifted. covered her with sacks. Rigid with terror. Stay down. "Asafoetida. cold cell. under the heavy. "I cannot stay here any longer." This was the man who had weathered storms and fear and dreadful illness on the long sea voyage. Giles burst back into the room. "I think you cannot change his mind. nothing. a most strong-smelling resin used in my medicines. ." Fiona crouched. only giving one last wavering smile for the two women regarding her with so much trepidation. Take care of yourself. Harmon exclaimed. Oh. trying to keep her breathing shallow. Mrs. taunted by a screaming mob? Put through the bedlam of the uncontrolled court trials with all the lying accusations? Then« then« death by hanging? She had never given way like this before. How could they fail to be seen and stopped. carved meat. he swung out the door. and I am in accord with his decision to accompany you. she pressed against the rough planks. the wagon searched? Was she about to share the fate of all those accused of witchcraft like her poor mother? Would she be chained in a dank.
" When they entered the wider road to Boston. Giles. exchanging very little conversation. Fiona's vigilance relaxed and her head nodded forward to her chest. there!" Hoofbeats thudded up beside the cart. A man's voice spoke. Let's stretch our legs and get a drink. The slightest speech or movement was now beyond her." he said. name of Fiona Prescott. ." Giles gasped. and get them buried. doctor. what is that terrible aroma? Is something dead?" "You smell asafoetida. go!" Fiona heard shouts and hoofbeats fading into the distance. that odor stopped them in their tracks though it's nearly gone. It snapped up when she realized that Giles had stopped the wagon. I intend to burn their clothes so the disease will not spread. I would advise you not to touch the sacks of rags. Birds started up in fright. Keep quiet at all costs. "Halt." Trembling. the sun passed its zenith and dipped behind the tops of the trees so that soon long shadows stretched along the road. "As you can see." "Yes. we must travel fast so we can reach Boston before dark. "There's a stream. "We are looking for a red-haired girl accused of witchcraft. Harmon." "What disease?" The man sounded as though he had backed off. Relief flooded through her."Someone's seen us. After a while. thank heaven." She didn't need the admonition to keep still. I am Dr. pinescented air." "No. leaving her limp and drenched in perspiration. Drive on. all the while constantly darting glances behind her." A stick poked at Fiona's sack. she pushed back the sacks. the animal snorting as the rider reined it in. I am quite alone. a powerful drug I used recently to treat several infected farmers. You can climb up beside me. gulping great lungfuls of the blessed clean. you are so quick-thinking. You can sit up now. She didn't move until Giles spoke. "Is it fatal?" "I've seen some deaths. nothing could be in that horrible mess. "They've gone." "What have you underneath those sacks? I must look. "Oh." Giles said evenly. Finally. Fiona clung to the sides of the swaying cart. But from now on. dust billowed behind in clouds. "Steady. We're in the woods. Fiona. "Phew. On and on they sped. Giles snapped the reins and the wagon shot forward. now. no. Go.
we shall be together forevermore. steadying his voice. hair a-tangle²" "I am looking and I see your distracting red-haired beauty with the same tug on my heartstrings that it's always had. sweetest girl I had ever met. I thought you were the loveliest. his arms encircled her and she leaned back. "To get your baggage. raining kisses on her face and throat." He pressed a passionate kiss against her neck." He kissed her passionately. she still forced herself to say. Giles dear. There was no certainty that the day would ever come. "Someday. my dearest! I have dreamed to hear you say those words. "The wind has swept you clean and fresh. Someday. feeling the mating of their tongues in a hot. and a tear stole slowly down her cheek. He drew her tighter." "Yes. Giles smiled. I want everything that you want²" "Oh. oh. Fiona. "Oh. his hands fondling her breast. and she bathed her face and hands. At last. A flame shot through her and she pressed deeply into his mouth. Giles licked the drop away." Unable to stop the flood of joy she felt. my own dear heart. bravest. I fell in love with you long ago at sea. That was a happy day. pushing her thighs against his own. with all my heart and soul. "We must go." "And now look at me²covered with threads from gunny sacks. we shall be wed. luxuriating in his warm male strength. The water was cold and refreshing." ." For a moment. face all hot and anxious. I thought that was why you wanted Grace. tugging until his open lips met hers. "Remember the other time you brought me to this road?" she murmured. when all is well again. Giles!" With a sob of joy. sniffing to see if any of the odorous resin still clung to her. then at last put her from him. I want so much to make you mine and kiss every inch of you until you tell me that you love me. but sadness filled her." She tore her mouth a breath apart from his. Fiona tipped her head back against his shoulder and caught his black hair in her fingers. he whispered hoarsely. too.He helped her down and Fiona followed him stiffly. but. I was so eager to be with you. "Someday. and my love has been growing ever since." Fiona echoed his words. and live with love in both our hearts. Giles. blinding urgency. "I do²I do! I love you. I have no dowry. "Alas.
but would she live to enjoy their love? They were nearly at the wagon when Fiona grasped Giles's sleeve. "She couldn't have kept up that pace much longer. I must get help. what shall we do? That other rider is getting closer. My practice is flourishing and will do even better when this witch hunt madness ends. sometimes it grew louder and Giles would urge the laboring horse to even greater speed. Still no one appeared on the road. They kissed once more and began to leave the brook. "As for the wheel. nor would I wed just for that reason. though now they could plainly hear the pounding hooves in the distance. I can hear it²" "Let me think. a steady clop of hooves." Giles said. "but we'll take no chances. too weary to make a sound."I never considered marrying Grace. Giles. but it was a sad song in Fiona's heart." Giles said tightly. Get down behind these thick bushes. They had pledged their troth." he exclaimed. hands entwined. Chapter 25 Fiona gave a cry and Giles shouted. "Get out²we must hide!" They both leaped to the ground. The wind stung their faces and flattened their clothes as on and on they tore. "That was all in her head. Hang on!" Fiona hunkered in the back. They seemed to have traveled a long distance when suddenly there came a sharp crack² a lurch²and the rear wheel twirled off across the road. "Do you hear something?" It was a muffled sound." "Oh. "It may not be an enemy. Sometimes the sound faded. were able to drag the horse and wagon out of sight on a narrow side road screened by trees. Fiona?" "Oh." Fiona answered. Giles. The mare's lathered sides heaved and she dropped her head. ready to duck under the sacks. and together with the laboring animal. I don't need a dowry. She was betrothed to the man she adored and he loved her. The trees became a blur of green and brown as they flew past. yes." . eyes clinging. So will you promise to marry me.
" He gripped her arms and pulled Fiona to her feet. Soon a big horse pounded into view. Every instinct urged flight. restraining grip." Crouching beside him. Let's run²" "No. That's why he came alone. I can ask his aid as soon as Blaize leaves. suddenly hating the idea. too. I shall tell him the same story about the disease I am treating. but Giles held her in a tight. "I have a plan. "He's looking for us« for me!" Giles's brows were knotted. he could hear ours. He'll soon realize that we have stopped somewhere and he'll come back. He doesn't know for certain that you were in the wagon with me." "We're not about to give him any chance. She dug her nails into her palms and clamped her teeth down on her trembling lip. Governor Phips." Fiona cried distractedly. If we could hear his horse's hoof-beats."We can't stay here. Giles." Giles caught her arm and pulled her close to the ground. a thin man dressed in black bent low above the saddle. I fear." Fiona groaned. he must have figured we had driven off. sure as fate. What is your cousin's name?" . "We'll be caught. we're not sure who it is. and a man lives there who I have recently attended. also." Giles ground out. she slumped." "A-alone?" Fiona quavered. Giles nodded. there actually is a farmhouse through the trees. let's get out of here and hide somewhere in the woods." "He plans to kill us. "Oh. whenever he slowed down. "He'll be back. Did you ever mention anyone you knew in Boston?" "Yes. "It's Blaize!" Fiona stifled her exclamation with a hand pressed to her mouth. See. I'll hail him as though I have nothing to hide. "Listen²here he comes." "He would find us. As soon as I can get my wagon fixed. that a fanner is on his way to help me with the wheel. When you didn't turn up anywhere in Salem and he found that my cart and I were gone. wait. "How did he know we were on this road?" In the sudden silence. doesn't he?" Fiona whispered. "And he doesn't want any witnesses. searching for us. his eyes fixed on the road ahead with a fanatic gleam until he disappeared from sight. "When he returns." "Do you think Blaize will believe that you know nothing of my whereabouts?" "Maybe not. Fiona felt her pulses hammer wildly. shuddering against Giles's side. but he won't hurt me. "You will have to go on alone. I'll follow you. I am needed too much in Salem.
She sent up a little prayer for Giles. How much farther must she go? Four miles? Five? She would have to travel slower. Giles must have been able to convince the judge that she had not been with him. still as a hunted animal. However. the rocks and bushes that impeded her stumbling progress. or she would faint from exhaustion. In the distance something howled. Darkness had nearly engulfed the woods. brave. Emotion welled up in her and she shut her eyes. Without sparing a backward glance. she started on again. Would he attack her as a member of the race which was his enemy? He must fear and hate all humans except for one small girl who had healed . Unsteadily. moving as fast as she could. keeping a band of trees between herself and the road in case she might be seen. and loving. the blisters forming on her heels. Wolves! Suddenly. I so hate to leave you!" "I know. my darling. In her mind. she pushed her way through the screening trees. a bewildering. Giles."Mistress Samantha Flaherty on Beacon Hill at Green Street. her lungs laboring while she brushed aside the tangled hair falling across her face. So this was love. the passionate lips that had kissed her with such fervor and formed the words "We shall be wed. She would go slower. Perhaps she was getting her second wind. Her heart still hammered like a bird trapped inside her chest. think only of the path before her. When he had passed. and her legs trembled betrayingly beneath her. dizzy with the longing to have him beside her. but you must go quickly and be safe. yearning such as she had never known. she saw his long-lashed steady gaze. she forced herself upright. Yes« that was better. It wasn't long before she heard Judge Blaize pounding back along the road and she shrank down into the leaves. she knew she couldn't linger and explore this sweet sensation²not now. After a while. she pulled herself up and clung to a tree trunk until the pounding of her heart had lessened. aching. and her terrified eyes swept the shadowed trees. the pain in her side became a red-hot flame and breath tore through her throat in great exhausting gasps." It seemed almost incredible that she loved and was loved in return by such a special man. She saw gleams of light. She dropped to the ground on all fours. strong. Oh. and then Fiona turned and ran. She tried to put everything out of her mind except the importance of reaching her destination. pinpoints like yellow fire. In a few moments. she thought of Gray." They embraced fiercely and kissed once more. place one foot in front of the other. but she dared rest no longer. true and fearless. scarcely noticing the rough branches that scraped her skin.
some rode horses. perhaps the last boat of the night. That day seemed so long ago« if she and her mother had known what the future held. One thing at a time. If only Giles were with her. And then at last the River Charles stretched before her. The passengers from Boston swarmed ashore and now the other crowd moved forward. But then she'd never have met Giles again. some sat in carts like the one in which Thomas had driven them to Salem. taking seats along the railing or standing by their mounts. and with that thought came a new surge of strength which sped her forward.his wounds and continued feeding him. this might be a different wolf. she hoped so. Just before the ferry left its mooring. although his way was hampered and some people complained about being pushed aside so rudely. she would bear a terrible guilt for the rest of her life. Fiona made her way down the slanting path to the ferry. Was it possible he had met the judge? At least Blaize could determine she was not with Giles and there was no proof that she ever had been. Swaying with fatigue. She had given him a slice of meat at one time. Fiona dropped some coins into the boatman's hand and then crept toward the bow. she clung to a nearby elm. dark figure rode his horse on board. His hate-filled visage scanned every person and his long arms shoved past those he had seen. She knew she must try not to worry. pulling her shawl concealingly around her head. but if it brought them harm. Nicholas Blaize had followed her. but it would not be long. Perhaps there was a plan for everything. Some carried baggage. He slid down from his horse and became screened by the crowd. they might not have left Boston. and she sat up straighter. . Was she seeing visions? No. How long did animals remember? At any rate. "Go forward and do. a lean. Squaring her shoulders. It seemed for a moment as though her heartbeat had stopped. but still they let him through. For the moment she was safe. Her vision blurred and all sounds grew muted. Fervently. even if it meant applying at the workhouse. Slowly he came closer. amazed to see so many people waiting at the dock for the approaching ferry. glancing casually around the boat. Perhaps Gray would now associate her with Sally. It was good advice. He hadn't seen her yet. She inhaled deeply of the fresh salt-laden breeze and sank wearily onto the rough wooden seat. The Harmons had been so kind and helpful. then it started up an agitated pounding. and soon she would see her cousin. now that he was too old for plundering the chicken yards." Giles would tell her.
dark and oily. "A strange catch we make today. Fiona struggled to sit upright and the man holding her repeated.As Fiona pressed against the rail. What happened to me?" "The little fish has a voice. "Easy. Fiona drew a deep breath and slipped between the rails. "We saw ye floundering in the water. and a rough warm arm supporting her. Fiona coughed. strong and swift. "Eh. mates?" a voice rumbled from the shadows. She saw no other way²she must go over the side and swim for shore. lass. hampered by her long skirts and leather shoes. No one sat near or looked at her. lass. the fishing boats gliding homeward with their catch. but Blaize had come much closer. He was engaged in an altercation with a burly passenger." . Fiona felt land beneath her. then it closed above her head. going out to sea. eh. She struggled furiously. She still had not reached shore when once again the water closed above her head and the icy dark engulfed her. There was murmuring among them« and also a strong smell of fish. The ferry had gone past her and no one seemed to have observed her plunge. A pang of fear swept her when she saw that the shore was farther off than she'd thought. Could she make it? She knew how to swim. She also felt the current." said the bearded man kneeling at her side. Blaize would find her. How do y'feel?" "I²I think I'm all right. dry sand. then strained to see the dim forms hovering on the dark beach. Dropping her shawl on the seat. They soon would dock. At last her head cleared the surface and she gasped air and coughed." There were several laughs and a shuffling movement on the sand as a lamp was raised to shine its light on her. This was her chance while everyone stared and called comments to the arguing pair. The water hit her with an icy shock. "Fainted ye had and close to drowning when we hauled y'out. her sailor father had seen to that. she fought the water with every ounce of strength and willpower she possessed. A voice spoke in her ear as she opened heavy-lidded eyes. For a while. until she was so weak she could hardly lift her arms or even breathe. when he turned around. and then he would be upon her. She cast a glance toward the Boston docks. be ye all right?" Fiona stared up at the night sky filled with stars. her eyes darted around for a means of escape. The water lapped against the ferry. however.
She didn't know what else she could have done. garbed like the rest in stocking cap. it had nearly proved fatal. neat homes facing a quiet stretch of beach and river. She glanced fearfully around the almost deserted shore and wharf but saw no sign of Judge Blaize. "What is your name. Thank you all s-so much. then shrugged out of his oilskins and draped the yellow coat around her shivering form. I think so. Judge Blaize's vengeful gaze would have fallen on her. and I'll be glad to take ye to my missus." Tim drew Fiona to her feet. If only she knew what had transpired between him and Giles! "Can ye stand. oiled jacket. However.Fiona coughed again and was patted on the back." Laughing. She held the man's burly arm and proceeded as fast as she could manage to a row of small. see what I have caught today besides fish. In another minute. and long. miss?" her rescuer asked." That was enough for them to know just now. he thrust back the door and swept Fiona across the threshold. and sent up a prayer that it be true." Fiona managed to reply firmly. and she answered briefly. As Tim approached his house. We lives right close. Fiona felt her brain begin to work. "Very well. lamplit room was plainly furnished but very crowded." "Is there anyone who will be searching for you?" the young boy asked. hip boots. The warm. Three children and a freckle-faced young woman sitting there all gaped at Fiona. Her dive into the river must have gone unnoticed. supper ignored as they marveled at the bedraggled stranger in their midst. that." A youth stepped closer. miss? Do you live in Boston?" Although shivering and wet. . with a trestle table taking up nearly all the space. "No one. "Betsy. "Has she spewed up all the river that she swallowed?" "Oh. "My name's Tim Rooney. he bawled. and I fell off the ferry on my way to visit Boston. spoons suspended above wooden bowls. " 'Tis dry clothes and warmth ye need first before any questions. "I hate to bother you. I owe you my life." Fiona hesitated. love. "My name is²is Mary Ware. yes." There was a chorus of deprecating remarks and then farewells as Fiona and her rescuer trudged across the beach.
she had enough sense not to ask questions of the obviously miserable Fiona. In the cluttered chamber. I'll fetch hot water and a clean gown. too." . I'm thinkin'. and Fiona didn't answer. When the meal was over." "I don't wish to bother²" Fiona's chattering words were ignored as Betsy led her firmly from the room. and all her money. thank you. I'd wager. and a plate of shining apples. barely able to raise her head from resting on Tim's broad back. She gave him directions to her cousin's home and was almost asleep as the horse trotted through the lamplit streets now deserted except for the town crier bawling out his news: "Nine o'clock and all's well!" After a while. lass? Perhaps a nap? Or spend the night? We could fix a pallet by the fire. miss." The young woman scrambled to her feet. Tim turned his head and shook her arm. they curtailed their questions. Betsy directed her to a place at the table. lass. Tim?" His whiskered face beamed and nodded. Unless you'd like to rest here longer. Betsy. Fiona was lifted up to ride pillion behind Tim." Betsy said. However. eh."Meet Miss Mary Ware. Tim and Betsy said they had been born and bred on American soil so they were both interested in the land across the sea and the long ocean voyage. with a kind smile. "Eh. right. together with warm brown bread. When Fiona returned to the kitchen. Fiona exchanged her sodden clothes for a rough homespun garment. "Tim will take you to your destination as soon as you wish. Cider in the wooden mugs was hot and spicy. I never can repay it. "Come into the bedroom. "Indeed. Her wet apparel was put into a bundle. and my wife. I would like to be on my way before it grows too late." Tim waved a meaty hand. Jim. they asked Fiona where she'd come from and she replied vaguely that she had recently arrived from Ireland and was staying on a small farm across the river. be this the place? 'Tis mighty grand. who will fix ye up. when they observed Fiona's increasing weariness. A hearty fish chowder was served. You've both done so much already. yes. a wedge of cheese. a poor lass who fell off the ferry. no. wife?" "Of course. "These be my youn'uns." Betsy told her to keep the homespun gown and return it another time. shooing the noisy brood outdoors. Tim." he rumbled. Fanny. but Nancy gave her heavy stockings and took the rest of the wet apparel to be dried. She's wet and cold and hungry. and Fiona found that she felt famished. and little Bobby. "I have a feelin' ye aren't telling us the whole of it. Her shoes had been lost in the river. "His horse can carry both of you." That was all he said. Like Tim. "but 'tis no matter. and with more heartfelt thanks and good wishes exchanged. She was near exhaustion now." "Oh.
"We can talk tomorrow. the truth was that her strength had been exhausted by the previous day's exertions and it was pleasant for a while to be pampered and made to feel renewed in body and spirit. Samantha Flaherty surveyed Fiona with worried eyes. Though older than Fiona's mother. Although she'd protested at this unwonted luxury. gold-ringed hands twisting in her lap. Fiona collapsed in a heap upon the steps." Fiona roused to answer." Nor did Fiona tell the part Judge Blaize had played. "Are you Mrs. watched over by Samantha and a hovering maid. it was not the maid who answered."This is the right place. She kept to . The lady nodded." Fiona complied without an argument. 'tis a most disturbing tale. Cousin Samantha sat beside her and listened as Fiona related all that had happened to her mother since they'd arrived in Salem. and a fine lace fichu at her neck matched the elegant cap upon her neat gray hair. Fiona swallowed the last of her hot chocolate and buttered toast." Holding Fiona's arm in a strong grip. while she breakfasted. but a slender gray-haired lady who peered out at them. This time. then pushed aside the tray and leaned back against the goosedown pillows in the big fourposter bed. he accompanied her to the door. her eyes widening as they swept over Fiona's disheveled appearance. When she'd recovered from her fainting spell the night before. "I just hope my cousin is home." Her thin. Samantha might feel uneasy harboring a "fugitive. but who² are you?" "Fiona Prescott. "I am she. "Sleep. Chapter 26 "Well. Fiona had found herself in bed. The next morning. like her bright blue eyes. Samantha Flaherty?" Fiona quavered. She didn't add the fact that she herself was wanted by the magistrates." her cousin admonished. Cousin Fiona. seemed ageless. your cousin." And with those gasping words. she had a brisk manner and alertness that. Her stylish gown was also blue." "I'll wait here to make sure.
I've been lonesome since my husband. Fiona had to fight the wave of grief that swept over her.the facts pertaining to her mother. I went on foot. He owned several trading vessels which I sold upon his death. I can hardly bear to think of Ellen in jail. child." "Are you recovered enough. Weak and dizzy from your flight. falsely accused of witchcraft." "I understand. "but then I had that unfortunate accident on the ferry." "You are so good. after your terrible experience in the river? And all the other things²" "I feel fine. And when Ellen is free. Joel. a sweet young girl like you." "The fisherman who brought you here said you'd nearly drowned. "She put a lace-edged handkerchief against her shaking lips and shook her head. died. "I don't see how you've stood the worry and fear. but then she managed to say bravely. Otherwise. so I am well provided for and can easily take care of you and Ellen. but the governor will carry much more . Fiona. what you have endured! If only I'd been here when you and Ellen first arrived. "I am sure Sir William will help you." "Then you certainly must try to see him. Cousin. Samantha rose and kissed Fiona's cheek. and now perhaps the governor will honor his promise made to me at sea that I should seek his aid if ever there was anything he could do to help. Do you wish me to accompany you?" "No. thank you. "Well. alone. and you are so much like her. I am sure I can arrange an audience." Fiona murmured. Thank you. "I wonder how you happened to fall overboard." Samantha groaned. friendless« Mercy and Grace acting so deplorably« your father and uncle gone«" At the mention of the recent deaths. I have had Giles Harmon for a good friend ever since we met on shipboard. She didn't add that nothing would keep her from returning to Salem so that she could be near her mother and continue the fight to free her. She and I were very close as children. I want you to stay with me until this matter has been settled. but I must go at once. After you have seen the governor. this can be a home for both of you. I would try to seek advice from someone else. My dear." Fiona continued. I never stirred all night and am completely rested. "After that. There is no time to be lost. I warrant. but now I am most anxious to be on my way. adding only that her friend Giles Harmon had attempted to drive Fiona to Boston until his wagon had broken down. Perhaps I could have persuaded you both to stay with me until the terrible times in Salem had been resolved.
Governor Phips was her main concern. applying the warmth to face and arms. Perhaps she would show it to Sir William in order to further jog his memory. When you are ready. My prayers go with you. He must be a very busy man and their acquaintance had been brief. One thing at a time. she slipped out of bed and poured water from a pitcher into a china basin. petticoat. When Tilly left to summon the coachman. wondering suddenly if Governor Phips would remember her. and the location of Samantha's dwelling.weight. then donned her undergarments. How fortunate that you know him! I shall let you dress now. Fiona glanced anxiously in the square wall mirror. Fiona raised her chin and followed briskly. but since that was impossible." She turned back at the door and added. shoes. Amos. And during the day. but he seemed canny enough not to divulge her whereabouts to any stranger. the fishermen might all be out at sea. Right now." Fiona thanked her from an overflowing heart When the door closed. She wished she could have washed her hair. just as Tilly knocked and said the carriage was waiting out in front. She sent up a quick prayer for guidance and for her mother's safety. That temporary servant I employed should have let you stay. She felt glad she hadn't given her right name to the fishermen. what's done is done. Samantha stood at the front door and waved goodbye as Fiona headed for the gilt-trimmed coach waiting at the bottom of the garden. she brushed it thoroughly. my coachman. the coin around her neck had not become dislodged in the water. unless he'd run into trouble with Judge Blaize. He should have been here by now. "I certainly regret that Tilly was with me in New Haven when you first came here. searching for her like a venemous black snake? Fiona shuddered. Well. An elderly driver clothed in livery of hunters green saluted her with a finger to his cap and a gap-toothed grin. dear. But would there have been time for them to have an encounter? The judge had followed almost on her heels when she'd got onto the ferry. her thoughts turning to Giles with a nagging fear. and low-heeled leather shoes. I have been told that he is a very energetic man. She moved away. and crocheted stockings. will drive you to the governor's mansion. . Fortunately. drawers. Tim knew where she'd gone. She drew a ragged breath. also hat. a short matching woolen mantle. I will send Tilly in with one of my gowns. A knock sounded at the door and Tilly entered with a kindly smile. We are something of a size. noting gratefully that they had been cleaned and ironed while she'd slept: camisole. and a wrap. Swinging on the soft wool cape. Was he now in Boston. Everything fit well enough and soon Fiona was dressed and ready. her arms filled with a soft pale lilac gown.
" Salem! Was that an omen? Would trouble still follow here? No. she told herself fiercely." As Fiona alighted." "Pins and needles. so different from the untended. However. Vendors cried their wares: "Hot taters for a penny. "I'm sorry." "Could I go up to the house and speak to someone in charge? I would like to leave a message for Sir William. Boys in smocks flung buckets of water in the streets so they could sweep the cobbles clean. but the governor isn't at home. prosperous city. "Here we are. "Oh. If you will please tell him²" The sentry swept Fiona with an appreciative eye but then shook his head. He has gone across the River Charles to a meeting at Harvard College. as well as Samantha's temporary maid. dear. now she was going to do just that. Shop owners busily removed wooden barricades from their shop windows. All she had to go on were his kind words on shipboard: "If I can ever aid you. weed-grown Salem swallowed up in its bigotry and hate. the carter. It seemed like a proud." Fiona gazed up imploringly. a polished sword gleaming at his side." Well.Soon they were rattling over the cobbled streets. Won't you buy a bunch?" Church bells chimed almost constantly. but tonight there will be a fancy ball here and I know for certain he'll be back then. It's very important. call on me. My name is Fiona Prescott. It wasn't long before the carriage stopped and Amos got down from his box to open the door. her eye fell on the street signs at the crossroad: "Green Lane" and "Salem Street. her hands . miss." Amos told her. When will he return?" "I couldn't say exactly. Did Sir William share those views? She had no way of knowing. Fiona stepped up to him and said. miss. tall spires rising above other rooftops. waving toward a row of clipped yews where a young sentry in bright scarlet paced solemnly up and down. I would be right glad to accommodate you. and for a moment she felt daunted. Finest brass." This was something Fiona had failed to consider. "I would like to see Sir William Phips. Drawing a deep breath. "That large brick house beyond the fence is the governor's mansion. She recalled the terror shown by Thomas. Boston probably also had a fear of witches and the Salem witch hunt must be well known here. not unless she faltered in her purpose." "Fresh violets. and he knows me. The town already bustled with activity.
miss. dark-skinned man in purple livery regarded her impassively. I'm sure he will remember me." Fiona drew the black cord from around her neck and held out the doubloon on her palm. don't cry! You're so young and pretty« I'll let you go up to the door and speak to Master White." He inclined his head without any change in his expression and quietly closed the door while Fiona called out. I need help desperately. she felt a weak reaction and tottered back to the carriage. Will you please ask Sir William to grant me an audience when he returns? I am staying with Mistress Flaherty on Beacon Hill. All she had worried about was how to impress him with the urgency of her mission. "Now.clasped at her throat. "My name is Fiona Prescott and I met the governor at sea not long ago when we traveled from England." he gasped. White. If you will just show him this coin. A dignified. The double doors at the mansion flew open almost as soon as she had applied the big brass eagle knocker. "Thank you²" Turning away. "But make it quick!" "Oh. ." The wrought-iron gate with its gilded scrolls swung back and Fiona sped up the tree-lined walk." She inhaled deeply. one after the other." "I will do so. life and death are in the balance. miss?" "I cannot tell you any more just yet. You must have a mother. words tumbling swiftly. Would you want her wrongfully incarcerated by her enemies?" "Indeed not. then gave a sob and turned aside to wipe her eyes on the edge of her cloak." He gave a glance around and whispered. I. She never dreamed it would be so difficult to see the governor. He gave me this coin as a souvenir of the voyage and told me to call on him if I ever needed his help. sparing nary a glance for the myriad flowerbeds and beautifully landscaped grounds. "It concerns my mother. sir. "Here now. "Are you the Master White who is in charge here?" "I am the majordomo of this establishment. Mr. Nothing had gone as she had planned it. All I ask is that you let me speak to somebody in charge up there. "What happened. will never forget your kindness." She waved a vague hand toward the mansion. thank you.
She hadn't liked handing over the doubloon, either. It might get lost« or stolen« or simply tossed aside. The governor might be too busy to send for her« or too indifferent. "Where to, miss?" Amos called, when she reached the carriage. "Back to Mistress Flaherty." Fiona sighed and sank onto the green velvet seat, chewing on her lip. What should be her next move if the governor failed to respond? She was so deep in thought, at first she didn't recognize the tall figure alighting from a wagon in front of her cousin's house. After a stunned moment, she screamed, "Giles!" and wrenched open the coach door. With a bound, he had her in his arms and crushed the breath out of her lungs with the force of his embrace and a swift, hard kiss upon her lips. "My darling, are you all right?" "Yes, but oh, I am so relieved to have you here beside me." She cupped his face and rained kisses on him while he responded with equal fervor. Then she drew back a little, sobering. "I tried to see Sir William, but he was out. I'll have to see him later." She was interrupted by the voice of Amos calling as he peered curiously at Giles. "Will you be needing me anymore just now, miss?" "No, thank you, Amos. This is my²er²friend, Doctor Giles Harmon, from Salem." Amos touched his cap. "A good day to you, doctor." He then drove slowly around the side of Samantha's property, sending several backward glances before he drove out of sight. "He must be dying to know what business I had with the governor, but he is too well trained to ask." Fiona took Giles by the hand. "Come, let's sit in that pergola before we go inside. I want to hear about Blaize, and I have things to tell you, too." Giles threw her a concerned glance but allowed himself to be led inside the little honeysuckle-covered summer-house at the far end of the garden. Paths of ground shells wound between well-tended beds of roses coming into bloom, tulips, hyacinths, and pansies. From somewhere came a scent of lilacs mingling with the salty air and tar from shipyards that seemed to be a part of Boston. The garden, beautiful though it was, did not hold any interest for Fiona at this time. Inside the summerhouse, she flung herself into Giles's arms. "Oh, dearest, do you think I'll be able to see Sir William? It was such a blow! He won't be back until tonight." "Tonight? Then that's when we shall pay him a visit." "You'll go with me?"
"Of course. Now, I guess you are wondering if I met Blaize. The answer is no." "Didn't he come back?" Fiona exclaimed. "Yes, but by that time I had enlisted the aid of that nearby farmer I mentioned and we had moved the wagon. Blaize came sniffing, but he didn't see us and seemed in a tremendous hurry. He turned around and pounded back down the road to Boston." "Oh, Giles, yes, he followed me²right onto the ferry!" "Good Lord, how did you evade him?" "There was a big crowd on the boat, and under cover of it I jumped into the river. No one noticed me. At least, I didn't think so«" "You²what?" Giles choked. "Well, my father taught me to swim, but the current was too strong. A fisherman rescued me, or I might have drowned. He brought me to Samantha's house after that." Giles gathered her into his arms and groaned. "Oh, Lord, you're so impetuous. Are you all right? No chills?" "No, I had all night to recover. Samantha gave me a warm bed and some breakfast. She was very kind, even sent her coachman to drive me to Sir William's." "How much have you told your cousin about Salem?" "Nearly everything except Judge Blaize pursuing me and the fact that I also am wanted by the magistrates." "That's not 'nearly everything.' Don't you think you should let her know that you are in danger? Suppose Blaize comes here?" Fiona caught her breath. "How would he know where to come?" "Grace might have told him you had a relative here and if you wished to hide, this would be the logical place for you to go." "You're right. Grace would make every effort to see me caught." Hating to leave the warm security of the arms enfolding her, she nevertheless moved away. "I think we should go in and tell Samantha everything." Giles nodded. "I agree. And tonight we'll visit Governor Phips."
Fiona raised her face to his. "I'm so grateful that you're here with me and I don't have to go on alone anymore." "I always want to be there at your side, my dearest." With an almost desperate hunger, Giles kissed her brow, lips, and throat while Fiona clung to him, wishing this blissful moment could go on forever. At last he whispered, "Do you recall your promise to me by the brook? I want to buy you a betrothal ring as soon as possible." Suddenly, reality came flooding back and she was aware of the terrible doom-laden hours of fear and uncertainty ahead. "Oh, dearest," she choked, "I love you with all my heart and soul, but you know I might be caught and charged with²with witchcraft. Your aid to me would then place you in the gravest danger." "Do you think I would care about that?" he cried roughly, grabbing her by the arm. "Do you believe I would turn my back on you because of any danger to myself?" "No, but how do you think I'd feel if I brought you down with me? I could not bear it!" "Not another word. I intend to stand beside you through any trouble and never stop the fight to save both you and your mother." "Heavens above, Fiona! Are you also wanted by the witch hunters?" A gasping voice spoke from the doorway and Samantha stepped into the summerhouse.
Alarmed at first, Fiona then nodded to her cousin with a feeling of relief that everything would now be brought into the open. "Yes, Samantha, Grace, who cried out on my mother, also cited me. She stated that I made friends with people who were under suspicion and had drawn Giles from her side with magic. Oh, she said so many foolish things." "The girl was jealous of Fiona," Giles's deep voice cut in. Samantha turned her eyes on him. "Fiona, who is this handsome young man?" "Oh, excuse me. This is my friend, Doctor Giles Harmon. I mentioned him to you previously. Giles, Samantha Flaherty."
Giles bowed gravely. "I am pleased to meet you, Mrs. Flaherty, but I trust I am more than Fiona's friend. She has consented to become my wife." He sent Fiona a smile which brought a warm wave to her cheeks. Samantha sank down on a bench. "Well« well« congratulations." Her bewildered glance traveled to Fiona. "Is this true? A search is out for you from the Salem witch hunters?" Fiona nodded. "I didn't want to add to your worries, but now there is a possibility that a certain Judge Nicholas Blaize may be searching for me through Boston's streets. I saw him on the ferry, and that is why I jumped into the river." "Oh, my Lord!" Samantha pressed a hand against her chest. "How does he know you are in Boston?" "I told him once that I was acquainted with Sir William, who had promised help if ever I should need it." "Then²then²oh, child, did you see the governor? What did he say?" "He wasn't home. He will return tonight for a ball at the mansion. I left a note for him with the majordomo." "Meanwhile, this judge may have discovered my name from Grace or Mercy. You must come inside and not let anyone get near you²any stranger, that is," Samantha stated firmly. Fiona gripped her hands together. "I can't stay here. Judge Blaize might put you in danger. I expected to see Sir William earlier and then leave at once for Salem, but now I will have to wait. Is there a secluded place where Giles and I could hide until tonight?" Samantha sprang up, her blue eyes flashing. "What nonsense! Of course you will stay here. Come at once into the house, both of you. Amos can guard the front door with my husband's musket just as he used to aboard my Joel's ships while keeping watch for pirates. I would trust Amos with my life." "What do you say, Giles?" Fiona asked. He frowned thoughtfully, then said, "I think you would be safe here if you kept out of sight. It will be for just a few hours." "Very well." Fiona smiled gratefully at her cousin. She really had had enough of hiding and fleeing through the woods. "Perhaps the servants could be told that I have an enemy whose attentions I have spurned." "And that is the truth," Giles growled.
"Why. as yet. but my years abroad acquiring a degree in England have given me a wider viewpoint. I don't open the door to any strange man. it's for you." . Amos will do as I tell him without any explanations. Samantha wanted to know his opinion of the witch trials and if he was one of the Puritans." Giles said." Amos saluted. it may be that Blaize has no exact knowledge. swung smartly on his heel. I venture to say you need refreshment. "I think many young people in the town rebelled against the strict edicts regarding clothes." Giles flashed his charming smile and Fiona could see that her cousin was impressed by him. mistress. She showed him to a room next to Fiona's where he could wash. "Mistress. innocent pastimes. hot biscuits. "However. Amos doffed his cap and bowed. "No matter what the reason. but now they deny it to anybody who doesn't think the way they do. Return to the front hall." "You are fortunate in your loyal household. then left. Fiona. he was interrupted by the appearance of Amos in the doorway. Both of them have been with me for ages. as well as²" Suddenly. Then she raised her chin. Giles ate hungrily. but she didn't probe. Shoved it underneath the door. Their elders came to the New World seeking freedom. If he had. extending a folded paper with a red blob of sealing wax upon it. as will Tilly and my cook." Samantha accepted the note. After he had assuaged the worst of his hunger. "Thank you. That's why when he knocked and said there was a message. you look monstrous weary. in spite of the fatigue that lined his face and dusty clothes. indeed." he replied. I had him push the note beneath the door. I trust that is your equipage in the street? Very well. The clergy is also behind this witch hunt. and harsh punishments exacted for any infringements. Eyes snapping with excitement. he did. as were most of Salem's natives." Samantha answered. I would be most grateful. "Now. they all sat down to a midday meal of beef barley soup. a bowl of sugared berries with cream and cups of tea served in delicate china cups. and remember²" "Yes. Am I right?" "Yes."Really?" Samantha's eyes grew round. I think he would have been here by this time. clearly enjoying the trust and the moment of excitement after his recent years of being just a peaceful coachman. and marched out. I will send Amos to stable your horse and wagon." " 'Tis best to be on the safe side. After that. "I was raised a Puritan. Doctor. Amos. this was just delivered. also doing justice to a platter of cold sliced meat and cheese. Samantha looked down at the note and turned it over. of Fiona's whereabouts. then said.
"Well. "Oh. I stand ready to help you in any way I can. he'll see me tonight. "Oh²it's from the governor!" She read: I would like to see you this evening at my masquerade ball and will find time to speak with you privately. you shall be my escort. William Phips Royal Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The governor will grant you an audience and you can tell him everything. And the next thing is²what shall you wear?" ." Samantha clapped softly. child. Giles. I am also enclosing the doubloon. Fiona glanced down at the signature and sucked in her lip. Fiona gave a joyful cry. Fiona broke the seal and read aloud: Miss Fiona Prescott: I am very sorry to have missed your visit. She almost felt afraid to read the note. not succeeding in controlling her concern.Fiona's first thought was that Blaize had discovered her whereabouts and was warning her that flight would bring worse punishment. This letter will admit you and an escort. thank heaven. "Now things are moving properly. Yours respectfully. aren't you going to open it?" Samantha asked.
her aunt. "We can't predict what he will think. "Then we could leave the notes with him to refresh his memory. my husband was too short for you to fit into anything except a shirt and²hmm²yes. I just want a few private words with Sir William. Flaherty. sir« well. including her mother. orderly manner." Giles muttered. Then say that Grace immediately cried that she had been poisoned by a witch. Samantha brought sheets of paper. "Wouldn't this dress do? I need not mingle with the guests." Giles bowed. "I do hope Sir William won't think that smacks of witchcraft. You shall have a banyan robe of his to wear while your clothes are washed and pressed. and ink already mixed in a clay jug. I shall put aside any misgivings about my appearance. "But without being overly dramatic.Fiona looked down at herself. Tilly can restore your things somewhat. "I fear I am too travel-stained even for a private session. "You both must make a good appearance. "I can outfit Fiona with another gown more suitable for a ball. followed by many people. Mercy Prescott. but you. The important thing is to see Sir William and present the facts to him in a clear." Giles said wryly. writing with a firm. A place was cleared at the table and Samantha left them to their task. ." They all agreed and as soon as the meal ended." Fiona worried. Alas. Servants and all." Giles said. She went screaming into town." "Also as forcefully as possible. After a little discussion. saying she always rested in the afternoon." "I think it would be advisable to write it down. I recall a brocaded waistcoat that I put away. Giles and Fiona decided that the last part of the affair should be presented first to capture his attention." "You're right. Mrs." Fiona said. you know." Samantha tapped her chin. I couldn't bear to part with all Joel's things. "Bless him!" She tied the coin again around her neck." "Go slower. You are most extremely kind. bold stroke. Let us discuss what we should say." Giles said. inflamed Grace's skin to an alarming and painful degree. judge by exteriors. a welltrimmed quill. which for some unforseen reason. Ellen Prescott. Giles wrote down that Ellen Prescott had treated Grace's skin with a facial salve." Fervently. you know. "Thank you. she kissed the note. "Let us tell the truth and not attempt to color it one way or the other.
hands pressed on the table. On the stand." . I may decide to tell him. When we see the governor. "Write that a group returned to the Prescott house while I was with Mrs. it is very real. to say nothing of belief in the words of little children. "Then I had better add that you also are suspected for the same reasons. Remember. How else could you have come here to ask Sir William's aid? You wouldn't stand a chance for help locked up in jail. "Sir William might think I had encouraged him. We may need to explain all that to him. the dry cow after we arrived. but you fled before you could be apprehended." Fiona rose. is it only a bad dream? Will I wake up?" Giles came around the table and led her from the room. both suspected witches. we found out that when questioned by the magistrates." "There is nowhere else I want to be. "fleeing from the constable?" "Yes." Giles's pen scratched busily." "It's a dark fantasy. Fiona continued. Do you suppose he knows how the trials are being conducted? The speed." He pressed her fingers. "But I know you can be strong and brave. but witnesses came forward to speak against her. the hysteria. I'm so glad you're here to comfort me." "And we are right in the middle of it. Later. Grace said there had been many other suspicious acts. "Isn't it incredible? You would think the whole thing was a fantasy from some dark. and will go down in history as a most shameful episode in Salem. Mercy said she didn't like the strange herbs used in the salve and only permitted its use after Grace threw a tantrum. the lying witnesses?" "And the reliance on spectral evidence." After a moment's silence.After a minute. Harmon and they took Ellen Prescott off to jail. I will help you all the way." he said deeply." "Oh. she denied all charges. Giles. Let's leave that out for now." Giles stretched his hand across the table to clasp her fingers. "Do you think we should add the fact that you have incurred Judge Blaize's enmity?" "That part bothers me. never to be forgotten." "Is that a crime?" Fiona asked. ancient time when people were ignorant and extremely superstitious. "Giles. Fiona mused aloud. then read aloud what he had written. "But no one can be blamed for seeking help when they are innocent." Fiona said slowly. "No. also our friendship with Rebecca Nurse and Sally Woods. the black cat she treated. all right.
" "Thank you. and later we will dress and go to see Sir William." She pulled a zinc tub to the fire.She raised her face to his. "You look a vision. I'll see if he's come back. miss. when this is over we'll be wed and lead a long and happy life. as she soaped and washed her hair and body with Tilly's efficient aid." He smoothed the brocaded waistcoat from Samantha. I am certain he will be very sympathetic²as well as helpful. Do you know if Dr." He kissed her deeply. The low. pleasant way to enjoy her money. He took an impulsive step toward her. When all was dry. "I must not muss your gown. "Thank. Fiona thought." A few minutes later. She merely curtsied. Only an hour before the ball begins. Harmon is ready?" "I saw him leave the house as soon as he was dressed. . "You look mighty fine yourself. here's a darker velvet cloak to wear and one of milady's masks to put on when you get there." Giles said. no matter how I long to. stepping back to admire her handiwork. and Tilly added another to the ringlets she arranged in Fiona's softly gleaming locks." The familiar rush of excitement swept Fiona. Giles. White satin roses draped one shoulder. filling it with cans of hot water and finally adding a vial of lilac water which perfumed all the air. but she could tell his usual passion was suppressed. and that's the truth. "Come in to me if²when²you feel like talking«" "As soon as I have washed some of the dust away. Giles entered and Fiona rejoiced to see the love and reassurance in his dear face. Samantha certainly knew the gracious. I hate to think how I would have gone on without you. miss. knew this time was not for them. my lord." Giles promised. "Remember." "Borrowed plumage. Tilly. handsome man in frilled silk shirt and brocaded vest had joined his life to hers in spite of all the danger it entailed. She was not alone in this fight to save her mother. but she. my lady. too. then drew a small box from the pocket. then stopped. " 'Tis waxing late. This tall. She lay on the bed for what felt like a few moments. Suddenly a knock sounded at the door and Tilly called. square neckline had a frill of fine blond lace to match another at the elbows and around the skirt. you. "How beautiful you look. Tilly left the room to return with a pale green satin gown." the maid exclaimed." A wave of longing to have him hold her swept Fiona. "Now. Lie down now.
dearest. she gave her the shimmering material. Samantha met them in the hallway carrying a length of silver silk tissue." Fiona caught her breath. "It's the first one I have ever bought. Samantha immediately saw the betrothal ring and bent to examine it with delight. Giles. . The future loomed a dangerous. "Someday I'll have it inscribed with my love. "but you already know you have that."I slipped off to a jewelry store while you were getting ready and bought you a betrothal ring. "Wrap this around your head. unknown territory still to be warily traversed. every thought and purpose must be directed toward persuading the governor to help her." The kiss they exchanged was long and deep." His fingers traced her face. When Fiona put up her hands to pat the turban more securely. I hope you like it. After she had admired Fiona's appearance. Samantha then handed him an emerald glass brooch to fasten the folds of silver in the front. Chapter 28 Before they left the house. You are all my strength and comfort now. He took the cloth and wound it around Fiona's head. dear Samantha." "Thank you. dear. "Promise me that the reception will be held here in my home." "And the first one I've received." Giles exclaimed. but Fiona knew he must be thinking the same thing: she soon might need all the strength and comfort she could get. making certain every hair was hidden. Nothing would give you away like those fiery locks." Her glance went from Giles to Fiona. "I love you so much. "Thank you." he said." He grinned. then opened the box to behold a golden band studded with three sapphires. and tuck in all the curls. "Oh." She lifted shining eyes while he placed it on her finger." Fiona breathed. Right now." Fiona gave her a warm kiss upon the cheek. "That's lovely." She threw him a teasing glance. but she could promise nothing at this point. it's lovely. Why hadn't she thought of that? "What an excellent idea.
Your message indicated you were in some kind of trouble." For an instant. from the Seawynd? My escort is Dr. There every kind of luxurious conveyance clogged the streets. street lamps. the majordomo. Fiona took Giles's arm. Lights shone everywhere: carriage lanterns. and when Giles and Fiona joined the throng. Mary. the receiving line grows longer by the minute. nodded to Fiona. from sedan chairs borne by two sturdy porters apiece to gilded coaches drawn by matching horses with harnesses jingling and plumes bobbing. then it cleared. and stared carefully in every direction. vying with garlands of flowers. and finally from the Mansion itself. did I tell you²" "Later. ropes of pearls and gems twining through the wigs. love. Lowering her mask. "Your Excellency. and towering headdresses of white. She couldn't tell if he remembered her or not as he waved her through. Haughty coach boys were mounted in the rear. She curtsied to his wife. lace. Jewels flashed on hands and throats. Lady Mary. a bright-eyed woman in velvet." Sir William clasped Giles's hand." "Miss Fiona! Giles! How wonderful to see you both. waiting to help their masters to descend. yes. she sank into a curtsey in front of him. A steady stream of guests moved through the open gates. White. and diamonds who looked older than Sir William. "I'd like you both to meet my wife. Giles Harmon. and she felt thankful for the impressive satin ballgown that she wore. put up her black velvet mask on its slender wand. "Right. instantly recognizing dignified Mr. they gazed in awe at velvet cloaks. indeed. but whose face held strong intelligence and vitality. flaxen. . then raised her eyes. and after disposing of her wrap. his gaze grew sober and he frowned. and then turned to greet the next guests." he cried heartily. I see you are wearing the doubloon I gave you. making good time until they neared the governor's mansion. "We will both manage a private session with you. both fresh and artificial." The lady nodded briskly. do you remember me? Fiona Prescott. my lord?" "Oh. thick fur trimming. "Miss Fiona. With a beating heart. Fiona presented her invitation at the door. Maids were waiting to hang up cloaks and hats.Amos had the carriage out in front and they rolled off at once. Sir William and his lady stood in the hall to greet the guests and Fiona heard his booming laugh ring out before she reached him." His bold glance lingered admiringly on Fiona. or ebony. ablaze from top to bottom.
"Here come Sir William and his lady." "I have learned the minuet. Suddenly. a whole goose. Probably she would keep on learning new things about him all their lives. We will now have our talk." Giles said. Are you hungry?" "Not yet. If they had a life together. "How elegant and gracefully they dance. then turned to watch the approach of the big. gilt lace. and bowing to their partners while a spinet tinkled and a group of musicians sawed energetically on fiddles. unless I am mistaken." Giles murmured. do you?" she whispered." Fiona shook her head. but let us stay among the crowds and keep our eyes alert."I don't think Blaize could get in here. Fiona stared at him. Let us watch the dancing in that opposite room. a smile tugging at her lips. and Mr. concentrating on the moment and their mission here." Fiona inhaled deeply." "And I don't believe Blaize is among them. I can see tables through that archway piled with many delectable viands. cold salmon. "Especially mine. Perhaps the guests have all arrived. Giles bent his head down to her ear. "See how they point the toe just so and the lightness of their bearing. She knew she would need every bit of good sense at her command. turkey. pirouetting." . I hear the clink of wooden balls and wagers being cried. "Can you imagine the horror felt in Salem if they saw all this liveliness?" They stood together on the sidelines observing the couples whirling." "You probably are right. Imagine Giles. the serious. I prefer the livelier gavotte or a quick-stepping bourée. No such lack of sureness touched the governor." Fiona said. No." "Evidently no Puritans reign in his household." He chuckled. Fiona curtsied to him and Lady Mary. lass. "Come with me. and towers of frosted cakes. where mistakes are not so noticeable." Impressed. knowing so much about the ballroom dances. and a wig of glossy black ringlets with proud assurance. "but I am not a graceful dandy. I only know the contradances where couples make two long lines or a square dance with eight people. I'm too excited. He put a large finger underneath Fiona's chin and tilted up her face. feeling a little shy and unsure just how to introduce the reason for her message. Lady Mary and Giles can dance till we return. She quickly thrust that worry from her mind. important man who tonight wore his azure velvet. "There is even a billiards table nearby. White is checking everyone most thoroughly. "He would need an invitation. dedicated doctor.
"My God! I can scarcely credit what my ears are hearing. and there is also a warrant out for me. "I had no idea the witch hunt had reached such grave proportions." she continued serenely. sipping cautiously. Giles and I wrote down everything that has befallen my mother and me in regard to witchcraft charges made on us. a frown settling on his heavy features. my lord. I have a great concern about this Salem witch hunt and I will tell you why anon.Her ladyship put out a detaining hand and bent a keen eye on Fiona. it was quite elaborately furnished. I can import anything I choose now to enrich my life. She was a wealthy woman when I married her." The governor threw his wife a quizzical glance. Giles bowed to Lady Mary and crooked his arm to receive her slender bejeweled fingers. at the same time throwing Fiona a reassuring smile across his shoulder. but I wish you would read this. A fire burned briskly in a black marble grate and two armchairs faced each other across a little taboret. and hastily she extracted the notes folded in her pocket." Fiona said. however. "Sir William. not be sidetracked by Sir William's reminiscences. then helped himself. Sir William led Fiona to a small room at some distance from the dancing crowd of merrymakers. and she financed my first treasure hunt." . but he asked no questions. "If you have wondered about the need for masks. naturally. interspersed by two large windows whose garnet velvet was draped with golden cords and tassels. "Now." She shoved the papers across the table and her voice shook with emotion. Spirits twinkled in a glass bottle as the governor filled a silver goblet for Fiona. Shelves of books and painted landscapes decorated all the walls. Perhaps here was another ally besides Sir William." He picked up the notes and began to read." " 'Tis called port." he growled when he had finished." His eyes grew round. it is because some activities here are not condoned by Puritans. I know you want to rejoin your guests as soon as possible. from Portugal. my mother has been falsely jailed for witchcraft. "What is this wine. "Giles and I shall mingle with the guests. Although I must admit that Lady Mary has the best taste in this family." Fiona felt a quickening of hope." "I understand. "I also wish a few words with this young lady later on. you know² " Fiona wanted to present her own case. many of whom are in attendance. A woven rug in red and black spread across the polished floor. Though small. Sir William? It leaves a strong trail on the tongue. "Your Excellency. "This is monstrous.
his fingertips together. "He is from the Salem court and would take me back to stand trial for witchcraft.Before he could continue. Sir William. which inflamed him even more. no! I pray you won't admit him!" She turned to Sir William and whispered frantically. I repulsed his advances." "Monstrous." "That would be difficult. My best wishes to you both. Sir William. a knock sounded at the door and Mr. I'll be bound. I take full responsibility for my guests. He is a vile seducer of helpless females." As Mr. but I must inform you that a man is at the gate asking to be admitted. I am going to marry Giles. He wields a lot of power at the witch trials and is greatly feared. fingers flying to her lips. "Begging your pardon. well. My cousin has cried out on me because she fancies Giles for herself. He gives his name as Nicholas Blaize and says he is looking for a young red-haired woman now wanted by the law in Salem. "The man's a villain and should be exposed." "I see. "Tell the man that no such girl is in this house. "Oh." Fiona sank back down in her chair. adding only that Blaize was a dedicated witch hunter but had told her that if she surrendered to him. "Judge Blaize wants me for another reason and I would never reach Salem unscathed in his company. he saw me and became infatuated. but no change occurred in his inscrutable face." She decided not to tell him about the judge's other attempts at seduction." Sir William roared. I owe you an explanation. You probably have saved my life. He has wealth and power." Her eyes turned broodingly upon the leaping flames." Sir William's eyes turned to his majordomo." "Thank you. both she and her mother would become exempt from any charges. "Can you trust in his discretion?" "Absolutely. bowing." . "Tell me more about this man." "Yes. and for some reason. Fiona started up with a stiffled cry." Sir William's eyebrows drew together and he leaned back. trying to subdue her rapid breathing." His glance flickered briefly toward Fiona. a fine match. Fiona gestured toward the door. White bowed and departed. "I will not be used like that by any man. "Betrothed to Giles? Well. "Nicholas Blaize came to Salem as a judge at the witch trials." She extended her hand with its betrothal ring. Fiona looked him in the eye. White appeared.
The jails are bulging with convicted witches and innocent people are led in chains to Gallows Hill. Your Excellency. Smile! That's better. lass. Once again she had let her emotions bring on reckless speech. Without your help. Oh. can't you end this nightmare? At least stop future executions while you investigate the matter." "Oh. let us dine and dance. witch!' " "I must admit that accepting spectral evidence bothers me. thank you!" Fiona grabbed his big. "I don't think it should be allowed. "Forgive me." "I believe you."Thank you. I heard about them before I went up North. "Oh. then pleased. "Where is the proof. a way must be found to free my mother because she is as completely innocent as I am. He looked surprised. but I had other matters on my mind. gripping her hands together. "The words of the so-called afflicted children are taken to be the gospel truth. You are too pretty for tears. "Come. "That would take too long." Sir William growled. "I shall certainly give it my attention. Can you imagine that? Why. but I may not be able to dismiss the trials without authorization from the king. I shall do my best to help you." Fiona gripped his arm and cried fiercely. weighted down with rings. "Don't cry. anyone could claim that so-and-so is torturing them and show the courtroom self-inflicted marks. adjusting the gilt lace at his cuffs and throat. my dear." She sprang up. Spectral evidence is all and is enough cause for conviction." Fiona flung out her hands. Anyone they charge is immediately found guilty. I may never have a future with Giles² or anybody else." "They are a farce. She dropped her head. please." . Perhaps you can forget your worries for a little while. These witch trials had begun to bother me. I ask you? The answer is: none that you can see. Sir William. Your Excellency. Immediately. the cry is 'witch. and kissed it fervently. hard hand. it is horrible²a travesty of justice. You must do something now!" His manner grew a little distant and Fiona realized that he probably did not like to be given orders." He stood up slowly. I know you are a busy and important man. It's just that any more delay could mean my mother's life« and mine." He softened then and patted her shoulder. And Nicholas Blaize is the judge who passes sentence." Fiona cried. I'm sure that it would do you good.
before you leave. Lady Mary continued. "I am greatly in sympathy with your trouble. I think the way they are being conducted is a disgrace to the whole colony. "Tell me all about it. his glance a little curious. "There is a matter which I have not yet told my lord. "Last week a note was sent to me in secret. and finally a steel-like determination. A paper of strange symbols was planted in her home." Sir William laughed. although her voice remained discreetly lowered. and when she refused. even to the fact that Judge Blaize had pursued her to Boston for his own wicked purpose of seduction. which when found was enough for her arrest." "My lord. almost colliding with Lady Mary. and then²" She leaned back. my love. and I wager you have run into their witch hunt." Lady Mary didn't answer him. He has just returned from the Indian uprising in the north and I wished to give him a day or two of peace. one lecherous master tried to bend her to his evil desires. "How glad I am to hear you say that! My mother and I are in the most desperate trouble²" Lady Mary leaned back in her armchair. she was the sole support of three small children and did housework and yardwork everywhere she could. Thank God. talked to neighbors." Fiona did so. Her eyes flamed with emotion. my lady." "Oh. thinking she had nowhere to turn. To rest a matter of life or death on the testimony of hysterical. "I wonder if there is something you are not telling me. who at once said briskly. smuggled from the jail in Salem by a desperate woman protesting her complete innocence." A loving light flared in the plain. She had the satisfaction of seeing Lady Mary's expressive face show amazement. her voice almost a whisper. I think Fiona has graver matters on her mind than dancing. and Fiona saw she cared deeply for her flamboyant husband. A widow. child. Miss Fiona. intelligent face. "I would like a little chat with you. "I signed a warrant for her release. merely beckoning Fiona to accompany her. they took seats beside the fire. found the man had a vile reputation. I went to Salem. attention-seeking children is intolerable. He works so hard. Go entertain your guests whilst I tell her my own opinion of this witch hunt. he called her "witch. then anger. Just imagine the poor woman's anguish." Sir William bowed. she turned to me. her desperation. my lady wife. smiling triumphantly. Sir William said you live in Salem. but did not partake of any wine. and had to swallow hard." Fiona choked." "She is not leaving yet." "You are always right." . Inside the little study. "I haven't had a dance with her as yet. Lady Mary leaned at once across the table. However.Fiona smiled and preceded him out of the room." telling the constable that she came to him in dreams trying to make him sign the Devil's Book.
there is something else." Fiona gasped. He bowed to them both." Giles asked softly. "how did it go?" "Fairly well. aware that no more could be said except for one last plea. no. I have been informed that the afflicted girls are now whispering about me. Chapter 29 Giles came swiftly when Fiona emerged with Lady Mary. "Lady Mary. quite likely. "Let us get some food and I will tell you everything. I dare not try it again. There is just one trouble²my mother may be executed before she²she can be cleared²" Her voice broke and Fiona stopped."Oh." Mary pushed back her chair and raised her chin. feeling suddenly exhausted. "I only know this witch hunt must be stopped. With a look of deep compassion." "Oh." "A good idea. What will happen to you. how wonderful." Fiona rose. "Yes. the lady smiled and vanished toward her guests. In fact. I usurped William's authority. my lady?" "I know not. you mean?" she answered thoughtfully. "Fiona." He added in a low tone. Lady Mary nodded and pressed Fiona's arm." "Giles Harmon suggested that there might be a way out concerning the speed with which the warrants have been issued." ." "In the mittimuses. moving to her side. "Can you do this for other people falsely accused?" Lady Mary bit her lip and looked away. "but we'd best not tarry here too long. I cannot thank you and Sir William enough for listening to me and promising to investigate this matter. You see." She took his arm. But she made no further promises. We don't know what lies in waiting. I shall mention that to William. However. my dear. "No doubt they are angry because you released one of their victims." Fiona breathed. possibly. "No. unable to continue.
straightforward manner. smoked fish. but she ate it all and felt renewed. At last." Fiona gazed into his strong. I am sure you stated your case in a clear. Giles gave her a quick glance of concern. busy people? Giles took her hand in his and pressed it hard. but he returned shortly with two brimming glasses and then brought plates piled high with sliced meats. as they sipped their wine." Merry nature? How long ago that seemed! Fiona felt a rush of love and gratitude as she looked at Giles. I had a grave responsibility at sea as a replacement for the ailing ship's doctor. And coming here was a brilliant idea on your part." Fiona demurred. on the other hand. then given her a betrothal ring and pledged his love and care forever. do you realize that we have changed places? You were Master Sobersides when we were sailing to America and I was the one to laugh at every problem. "Sit here at this little table." "That's true. Had she really done enough to engage the cooperation of these two important. I always knew your merry nature went side by side with the deepest kind of courage. "I pray it is. He had risked hiding her in the secret room. chewing on her lip. Together they will probably halt this madness of the witch hunt. pickled vegetables. "Well. I believe that very soon all will be well. "So much. "The lady seems to have both courage and intelligence. including her plucky action at the Salem jail." Giles looked surprised. You. now face the worst²" He stopped and cleared his throat. buttered rolls. I'll bring you a plate of food and a glass of wine. How much harder everything would be without his help. she rewarded Giles's patience with a detailed recital of what had transpired with Sir William and Lady Mary. and Sir William is a broad-minded man of action. "Dear Giles. I still have grave responsibilities in Salem. loving face." "Port would be nice. "Keep up your spirits and don't despair." Fiona sighed deeply. and ruby-colored jelly. ." "But will it be in time?" Fiona worried. A pang of fear bit deep into Fiona and she shuddered. You have done all you could for the time being. Giles looked thoughtful.He meant Blaize. but knowing that I have your love has given me a happier outlook than I ever dreamed possible. aided her escape.
growing stronger by the minute. Inside Samantha's home. neither one admitting the fear of Blaize sweeping out to stop them. Inside her room a lamp still burned. Now I think we should depart. but it was true that Giles needed a little rest before the long trip with its unknown dangers. she knew that Giles realized her mood was now one of somber speculation and deep concern about her mother. boisterous crowd surrounded Sir William and his wife in the ballroom. Giles put his hand upon Fiona's arm. "I shall rise before dawn and bring around the wagon. but its light made corner shadows all the more menacing and mysterious. Just explain that in the note. Swiftly." A large." Grateful. Giles took her in his arms for one fierce.She leaned across the little table and gave him a warm kiss on his lips. Giles suggested they leave a message with Mr. and when they had spoken to the major-domo. only a few lamps still glowed softly to guide their footsteps. and after trying vainly to penetrate the throng." "She won't mind." Fiona agreed." "Do you think she would mind if you took the quilt from your bed? It's apt to be a miserable. "Thank you. "Sir William will understand our need to hurry back to Salem." "Very well. White. A restless kind of fear engulfed her. she changed her clothes. Fiona going up the stairs. wraps were donned and they drove rapidly away. strong embrace. his cheek against her own. Is there anything you wish to say?" "Tell her that Sir William seemed sympathetic to my problems and promised to investigate the trials in Salem. I will leave a note for Samantha. don't you?" "Yes. I'll change into the former gown that Samantha loaned me and borrow her cloak. it seemed that everyone now slept. since I have no other. dear Giles. It almost seemed as though a juggernaut approached against which nothing could survive: She wished they could be on their way this minute. for everything. I will come in to say goodnight. "I think we should be on our way in the darkest hour before dawn." "Of course." They parted then. and also give her my love and deepest gratitude. Can you be dressed and ready then?" "Yes. I will send her a letter as soon as possible. but we will need our rest tonight. but first we had better bid our host farewell. cold ride. then sank down on the bed wide-eyed« contemplating« wondering« imagining« would they encounter Blaize before she reached the secret room? Would she hear some dreaded news about her .
not yet. He's probably on his way back to Salem. In Salem she still might find some way that she hadn't thought of yet. "Do you want to leave now?" "No. the streets are still empty. However." "Dreaming«" Fiona echoed. "Giles. "Are you ready. He is needed at the trials and cannot stay away too long. suddenly alert and eager for their departure." "I doubt it. but now I think you must be worried. beyond the release of tears." he said as he stroked her forehead.mother when they arrived in Salem? Something so terrible she couldn't bear to imagine it? Her eyes were dry and staring. the cool green trees. Fiona raised her head. and slept with her cheek against his chest. Think of the daisy-strewn grass. When she awoke." "I wonder if Blaize is still in Boston. a woolen cap upon his head. I imagine he has given up the search for you. the crystal stream. The wagon's ready. Why was that? Was another of her strange visions trying to break through? To her relief. talking« dreaming. but she couldn't overcome her sense of some impending doom. For a while. Giles drew the coverlet from the bed and folded it. she found Giles bending by her bed to give her a gentle shake. He wore his own leather jacket." As Fiona slid groggily to her feet and yawned. Fiona huddled in her blanket. what can we do if Sir William acts too slowly« or not at all?" . "No one is up yet in the house?" "Not even the servants. "I just want to hold you. a knock came softly at her door and Giles entered. Close your eyes." He sank down beside her." she said. dear?" "Yes. She only knew she never must stop trying. the evening's excitement kept up your spirits. Sir William and his lady had both been sympathetic. the silent woods« just you and me walking. "We had best leave now. her fears seemed to be mounting as she contemplated the return trip. "Think of happier times when you first came to Salem and our love began. Fiona. attired in his own clothes. empty streets. She had expended every effort on this trip to save her mother and didn't know what else to do if Phips delayed too long. Why was she so filled with apprehension? After all. Riding in the cart along Boston's darkened." Fiona nodded. my dearest.
We must do something to give us time until Sir William acts²as I'm sure he will eventually." "You thought of everything. "but there it is and some people are already waiting to get on board. Fishing boats sailed slowly along the river. still fearful that a sinister black-clad monster would emerge. Giles drew a basket from beneath the seat "I filched a little breakfast from Samantha's kitchen. And mainly you. "How can I hide in the cart? I see you've disposed of all the smelly sacks. my love and comfort. I see no sign of Blaize." Fiona looked back over her shoulder. the Woods. If Blaize saw her with Giles. "Last night. But the beach and wharf were practically deserted. "I feared the ferry might not be running this early." After they had paid their fare."I've been pondering the matter. And don't forget Sir William²ah." "I don't think they would have been enough to stop Blaize from a thorough search." Fiona craned her head in every direction. I'm concerned about your own capture." She gripped her hands together until the nails bit into her palms. Hot coffee was heating on the hob and I filled a lidded jar. the gate is open. then sipped and handed it to Giles. Giles didn't answer. the fisherman and his wife who took me in« Samantha. She forced her chattering teeth together and muttered. His eyes strained toward the river. he would then have proof that Giles had aided her. you soothed me and I went so calmly off to dreamland. Thank God. "You are an easy girl to love. "I must try to see my mother. Be careful not to burn your lips. We can board now." "Then what shall we do if we meet him on the road?" "Make a desperate run for Salem and the secret room. saying thoughtfully. "Oliver and I might try to bribe the jailor and effect a kidnapping of your mother when I visit her in the night. look. Right now. "The Harmons. so kind and generous. She would write to Samantha and ask that Betsy's dress be returned. and Fiona wondered if Tim Rooney was among them. She munched on a cookie." Giles threw her a swift smile. Henceforth. "I've been fortunate in the friends I've made since I came to America. heading out to sea. That must be avoided at all costs. he would track them both." Fiona said soberly." Fiona warmed her hands around the earthen jug." he said." Giles snapped the reins. I also found a cookie jar and some apples. Did you employ Franz Mesmer's methods?" ." Fiona thought that might not succeed. which would put you at the mercy of your enemy.
one so bent and weak. I think you should close your eyes. and when she saw Fiona." she cried out in sudden anguish. Then. if that is what you truly want. her throat. the crowd already gathered. the rope. "I would have told you if I had. but nearly always you can resist. "No. tugging on Fiona's arm. He had become an angry beast. It was all there. "This way is a little longer. it is fairly easy to induce a restful sleep. She was secure in Giles's love and protection." Giles said hoarsely. he held the means: the conviction of Fiona and her mother for witchcraft. listen. she couldn't eat another bite. the ladder. No. some shouting. "It's Rebecca.He smiled. she screamed. All he would want now was revenge. "Oh. She had broken his spell by thinking of Giles both times and then exerting her own will. They had crossed the river and Giles steered the wagon along a side road. and in his hands. She saw the barren hill in the early morning light. she told herself fiercely." he said. Could that be Rebecca Nurse? "Oh. no! Go back!" She ran to meet her. Could she do it again? Yes. and a little dizzy. The vision was upon her: the doomed procession« the awful weeping« the tolling bell« "Oh. thwarted by a mere girl. This was reality." Fiona thought how Blaize had played upon her emotions." "Couldn't Mesmer's technique be dangerous in the wrong hands?" "Certainly. I just believe in saying aloud certain soothing statements when a person is upset in order to create a relaxed image in the mind. no²please. Fiona sprang down from the wagon just as a small person on the fringes of the crowd turned to stare at her. She felt hot. Suddenly. hide²don't you know your danger? He's here! Get back in the wagon. Nothing could take that from her. Giles! Oh." "Oh. Sally stood with tears streaming down her face. God!" Fiona cried out. if the subject trusts you. Not in her mind this time. She didn't think Blaize would try seduction anymore. her fellows had to hold her up. "but not so well traveled. some sobbing." . however. the gaunt black hanging tree. then cold. All wore long gray hooded robes like monks. Five people began to mount the hill. We will soon be passing Gallows Hill. making her believe he was kind and attractive. no!" She clutched her heart. Her heart began to pound.
and this dagger will be plunged!" "You would not dare²" "I can do anything I want! I am judge and jury!" Fiona felt her hair jerked back until her whole scalp burned." .Unable to move or think. "Solbaid! Come closer and hold your pistol steady." His voice rose shrilly. "Unhand Fiona this instant. his face a mask of rage. And Blaize stepped from the trees. and he caught both Sally and Fiona by their arms. Blaize was on them." the hated voice rasped. the pain cleared the dizziness from her mind and new strength flooded her." Think²think. I've got you." she shrilled. Have you lost your mind?" "I accuse them both of witchcraft and sentence them to death. However. Giles teetered on his feet. "One step nearer. Get some time. There are people just down the road. and dragged their screaming forms into the trees." the judge shrieked gloatingly. "He means to kill us if you interfere. Chapter 30 In two strides. she told herself." he snarled. "Stop!" Giles roared. then kill all three of you. doctor. crashing through the trees. Fiona wobbled. opening and closing his balled fists. Giles. Blaize kicked Sally into a moaning huddle of pain and fear and caught Fiona back against his chest. pricking her throat with something cold and sharp that made her give a scream of terror. "I'll call for help²there are lots of people near²" "Fool! Didn't you see those avid faces watching for the witches' rope to swing? Would any of them leave that spectacle« especially to interfere when a judge but does his duty? I intend to have Fiona. "Now. "Who's here?" "I'm here. "Watch out.
"Gray! Attack!" Gunpowder filled the air. He bent and clasped a large rock in his hand. His eyes stared from dark sockets. "Your mother's dead!" Frozen with shock. He stumbled to Fiona's bed and touched her with shaking hands. clasping her gently in his arms. dear God²are you all right?" Shaking violently. piled with quilts and pillows. she shrieked. for several days. Fiona clutched him. Her frantic gaze sought Giles's and she saw the agony on his face replaced by a hard determination. the wolf dragged his hated prey out of sight among the trees. no longer just a cot. he staggered back." The words roused Sally. "He said²he said²my mother's dead!" She sagged into Giles's arms. and tearing. medicines. Sally crawled toward Fiona. you've come back to us!" . "Kill the next one who moves an inch. Blaize dropped the dagger and scrabbled to protect his throat. pressed liquids to her lips. Giles sat in a rocker." Blaize thundered. Then one day. "Oh. his unkempt head resting on his chest. the girl upon the ground. her mind went blank. and sponged her body with damp cloths. a blanket trailing down his knees. With a supreme effort. After that. water. Then. snarling at Fiona. A breath rattled from his throat and he jerked awake. folded cloths. "Oh.The dagger pierced deeper into Fiona's throat and she felt a warm trickle of blood run down her neck. Ajar held lovely flowers in the corner. and with all her might. Fiona clearly saw the attic room and realized where she was. A nearby table bore assorted jugs. mercifully. White fear swept the gloating from his face as he fell beneath the ravening animal. "First. Solbaid disappearing also. but Giles got to her first. She noticed that the bed was now soft. One foot went back. Screaming hoarsely. he uttered one last cursing breath. then he took aim² But the dwarf leaped in front of his master with an upraised gun. then they blazed with joy. the only things Fiona knew were flickering gray shadows that spoke to her in whispers. ripping. my beloved. but the shot went wild as Gray came hurtling through the trees. asleep. Fiona watched as growling.
Harmon came in to help Fiona wash and change her night shift. my hair is the least of my worries." "Well.Fiona touched his cheek. Mrs. "My mother²Blaize said²" "He lied. Are they from you." He kissed her lovingly and Fiona sank back. "What is this!" "Giles feared you had a brain fever. Mrs. The trials were over. You're still quite weak and must regain your strength. "and it is usual to shave off all the hair to cool the scalp. I want to get you something to eat. She breathed a prayer of thanks. But before we talk." "I'm glad. Just rest peacefully. I am just so happy that the trials are over and I never can thank you enough for all you've done. hardly able to assimilate all the news. Everything has changed in Salem. Just one thing was uppermost in her mind: her mother lived. "Soon you will be one of the family. can you tell me²" "Mother Harmon." Mrs. "How much do you remember? The woods« Blaize« the wolf?" A wave of horror broke upon her and she cried out. I won't be long. But in your case. Fiona felt a mere cap of curls upon her head. and then I can bring her here to stay. To her astonishment. I vow the curls are very fetching and just as red as ever. I feel it." Quickly he raised his face from hers. and tears of joy trickled down her cheeks. and we are all so glad. then handed her a hairbrush. but Phips has stopped the trials and freed some of the people. darling. A few minutes later. When you are stronger." She patted Fiona's ring. How long have I been here?" "Several days. thank heaven! When may I see her?" "Soon she will be released. and very proud²" . I see the flowers in the corner. "Don't cry. Now I am quite recovered. "With his last breath. "Oh. too." Giles said swiftly. She lives. Harmon. he didn't act quite so drastically. with a smile." Fiona sobbed weakly. Giles will let her visit you. every day a new bouquet. She's still in jail. or Giles?" " 'Twas Sally brought them. the monster sought to hurt you." "I really feel strong now and so eager to know everything that happened. Harmon told her. but only clipped it short.
I was afraid of that." Her sweet face beaming. Now. then left them alone together. the wolf. and when I ran to your aid. The dwarf ran away. Mrs. my hair² do I look very strange?" He set down his laden tray and drew the table closer to her bed. Sally managed to call Gray and the wolf came flying through the trees to kill Blaize and drag him off with lightning speed. but late that night. even though Oliver had warned her not to expose herself where Blaize might see her. of course. I hate to tell you this." "Oh. Soon she scraped it clean and followed it with a slice of buttered toast and a mug of fresh. dear." Giles's mouth thinned." Fiona took the bowl of gruel from him and tasted cream and brown sugar. you must be so weary. and Fiona²it's the strangest thing. How nice it is to have a doctor in the family. Blaize had a dagger at your throat and Sally lay stunned upon the ground. "They buried her in the unconsecrated ground of Gallows Hill. Harmon met Giles at the door with a murmured word. "The next thing I recall is Blaize grabbing Sally and me. watching you every waking minute." He went on quickly. "Now. ." Giles moved the stool back and crossed his arms. her sons carried her to a secret spot upon their farm. "He dragged you both off into the brush. as beautiful as ever²I feel renewed in body and spirit." "Yes. but the shot went wild. He can be the best judge of that." "Oh. Giles. And that same day. but no sign was found of Blaize's body. eat this food and then²and only then²will I answer all your questions." "Not at all. In spite of what she'd said."Ah. "Oh." "At least the dear soul is at peace. or Solbaid. but I know he doesn't wish to tire you. "How could you look strange? For five days I've sat there. She wiped her lips and hands on a damp napkin thoughtfully provided. Solbaid fired a pistol. He will answer all your questions. "How much do you remember?" "I remember going to Boston and the Phipses' ball. here comes Giles. Fiona's first remark was a little anxious. I saw Sally there«" "She sneaked off to wave farewell to her beloved friend. cold milk." His smile was fierce with satisfaction. Giles. Giles." Fiona wiped her eyes and continued after a moment. but Rebecca Nurse died that day. dearest. Now that you are well²and I might add. Next day we started home and came to Gallows Hill. the judge's house caught fire and burned to the ground. I am ready to hear everything.
However. she raced across the garden to fall into her mother's arms. cheering. even a distant cannon being fired. but only tenderly as he stroked back her hair. Fiona knew her mother must long for the fresh air and open space after her days in jail. and for a moment or two. Neither of them commented on the others thin appearance. "Then Sally is all right? Good. my dearest. She could hear bells ringing and the sound of voices as people hurried down the road. What did Phips do about the trials?" "He came to Salem and found enough errors in the mittimuses to warrant exonerating fifty people. that would now change with happiness and freedom in their grasp. since it was all based on spectral evidence and many people had begun to question its validity. "Tomorrow I will bring your mother home. Now. but Fiona knew her mother's shock was just as great as her own. including your mother. The tide of witch hunt fever must have surely changed.Fiona silently digested these strange happenings that were beyond any logical explanation." he said. drinking in the sun's warmth. "I think she will be« will be«" "Pleased. since they elected to stay outdoors a little while. they sat in silence. . the doctor prescribes another nap. pillowing his hand beneath her cheek. but he said she was still a little weak and the town would be filled with crowds." Fiona breathed thankfully. But for now. tight embrace said more than words. as Fiona drifted off into another healing slumber." Giles crossed the room and knelt down by the cot. the rustling of green leaves against an azure sky. too. tell me about the witch hunt." "Bless Sir William. "And I think you will be able to await her in the garden." "Does my mother know that we are betrothed?" Fiona asked drowsily. hand in hand. "And bless you. the beauty of summer flowers. shouting. the chirping of birds. Next day. When Fiona saw Giles and her mother drive up in the wagon. His lips met her. Giles left them on the bench. drawing her into his arms. She only knew it was an end to evil doers and caused her not the slightest grief. smiling." Giles finished for her. Fiona waited on a garden bench with a warm shawl around her shoulders and clothes all newly washed and ironed. I saw him briefly at the meetinghouse and he said he was writing to the king for permission to dismiss the whole proceeding. She was hardly able to contain her impatience and wished that Giles had let her accompany him. A long.
that he told me several days ago. too. and proud I was to have such a brave and resourceful girl. I felt so happy. "Here come Mercy and Grace." Fiona added. had taken care with her appearance. so tragic." "Are you indeed?" Fiona answered tightly. Hathorne that I had made a mistake when my face got better." "If we can. but I was afraid it might be too late to save you. . but her face was without a blemish. How fortunate that you could be here beneath his care. He told me all about your visit to him. "Faith. unsmiling and grave. hands twisting in her apron. we wish to make amends. Fiona held out her hand with the little sapphires sparkling in the sunshine. would you look at how her skin cleared up?" Grace seemed uneasy. Grace seconds me in this and²and²speak up." Fiona's mother said. "Mother. Mercy. I²I am truly sorry I accused you both. Everyone cried when they heard that she was gone." Her mother gave her a swift kiss. seeing I was his friend. 'tis quite becoming. "L-Look. "Alas. girl!" Grace pushed back her bonnet. in white cap and apron. Yes. Good heavens. I suggest we put the nightmares all behind us and talk of other things. Giles and I are going to be married. "Now. daughter dear. "If you can forgive us. I will try to find forgiveness in my heart." "I think Sir William would have stopped the witch hunt eventually. Giles visited me each day and I know the jailors were more considerate. However. Then Governor Phips also came to see me." Almost breathless with her happiness." "Rebecca Nurse²" "Aye. others were not as fortunate as I. "I told Mr. "Since 'tis wrong to hold resentment." "I accept your apology. after all. smooth and young. nothing happened to her. I knew then that everything would turn out right. indeed." "Someday. stammering a little."Fiona²your hair²" Her mother laughed a little." She sighed deeply. Giles didn't tell me until today that you had been ill. She cleared her throat. Please come back and stay with us." Her mother answered softly." Fiona interposed grimly. but Aunt Ellen had already been sentenced. Grace looked down and twisted the edge of her apron. "Ach. the ointment helped me after all.
"Your room awaits you. Harmon and her son. Harmon said. Fiona knew that from now on." "What a felicitous start for our new life together²complete harmony. Ellen. devoted kiss. instead of having the Reverend Parris perform the ceremony. drawing her into his arms for a long. but finally she giggled. for an offer of a room. "I thank you. We may not meet in the future. and soon Giles came out the door with his mother. cherishing each happy hour for the rest of their lives. Grace and I are moving to my sister's house in Marblehead as soon as I can sell my home. "I wish you both much happiness." With that they left." Giles laughed. "A lot of people in Salem made mistakes and now they are repenting²just as we are. where Giles and Fiona will spend a few days after they are wed. Returning it with all her heart. "Perhaps you'd like a rest now until the midday meal." Mrs. Giles put his arms around Fiona. Mercy." Thanking Mrs. And today was only the beginning. How could anyone help that?" Fiona glared. and it could be unpleasant if we stay. "They could have used their brains to realize what a mistake the witch hunt was. Mercy dug her daughter in the ribs. instead of following like sheep and listening to little children²" "Stop. but the Harmons have said we can stay here until we go to Boston. almost groveling. "Folks say they were deluded by Satan. "I imagine you would like us to be married in Boston." Grace nodded. Ellen went indoors." Her mother pressed Fiona's arm. and when they were alone." "Wed!" A red tide swept Grace's face. they would look only to the future. Epilogue . Fiona." Fiona shuddered.Mercy looked from one to the other. The feeling against witch hunters is running strong in Salem. "I agree completely. "Even with that funny hair?" With a frown.
suspicion in every eye. Only a few wondered if the girls were lying to save themselves from punishment. "We are not guilty of wrongdoing. His most famous descendant was Nathaniel Hawthorne. The stories Tituba told. 16. saying they all would be put into the stocks and whipped. and an interesting sidelight is that the family of John Hathorne later changed the spelling of their name so they wouldn't be associated with the hated prosecutor. and Mary Wolcott. However. they howled like dogs. In Salem. there really was a time when a handful of children decided the fate of an entire community. 19.) Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne were the two examining magistrates. (Real court transcripts have been used in my book relating to the trials of Sarah Good and Rebecca Nurse. all acting as though beneath a "crazy spell" and crying out that other witches dwelt in Salem and were afflicting them. entertain them. In 1692. A terrible conflagration swept the town. disease. rabid zealot who had been a failure in his other parishes. Salem was ready and willing to believe that Satan had selected their town for punishment. It tells a story of seduction and deception . the songs and dances. plagues of locusts. Betty. with an iron hand so he could hold them up as paragons to the community. one of the greatest novels ever written in America. Tituba bewitched us!" To prove it. during a particularly dull and icy winter. The trials made the most exciting break that the repressed Puritans had ever known. the group banded together. Mercy Lewis. At last the inevitable occurred: the girls were caught. author of The Scarlet Letter. The witch hunt started when a new minister came to town. and perhaps some hypnotism²all proved fascinating. Several doctors came and could find nothing physically wrong. crop failures. His daughter and his niece cried out. There was no other way to account for all the recent trials and tribulations: floods. 18. the girls rebelled and started sneaking in friends to have their slave. At last they decided it must be true. Naturally. On hearing this. and tried to throw themselves into the fireplace. refused to eat. believed she was a witch. written in 1850. The girls had been bewitched! Tituba was taken off to jail. It wasn't long before the jails were jammed with suspects. appalled and frightened. 12. Reverend Parris roared with rage. Elizabeth Booth. 16. and "witchcraft" was on every tongue. Most of the people. Hysteria became rampant. The group that met when the parents were away increased to include several other teenaged girls: Ann Putnam. he was determined to make good and ruled his daughter. this included anyone who doubted the girls' bewitchment. swearing her innocence. Tituba. Samuel Parris was a humorless. and adopted niece. 18. Suzanne Sheldon. Elizabeth Hubbard. fortunes read from tarot cards. She had come from the West Indies.Yes. Abigail. fires. supposedly the daughter of a witch doctor. more infants dying than ever before.
Her mother. After the year-long horror. and one man pressed to death with heaped-up stones while still protesting his innocence so that his heirs would not be impoverished. since Parris refused to take her back and let her wait in jail for a year. a big. tourists came to view Rebecca Nurse's house on Pine Street. but her sons came back in the dead of night and removed her body to their farm. and bitterly he acquiesced. She was left to care for several children and her health declined. was observed by the entire colony. Samuel Sewall. After William Phips disbanded the witch trials. complete with a secret staircase. The judge. Mary. partially rebuilt." They humbly begged forgiveness of everyone who had been harmed by their actions. also offered a paper. There are several authentic characters in my book. Reverend Parris died at Sudbury in 1720. Daughter Betty married in Concord at age 27. and when it ended in 1693. and in 1699. He also wrote The House of the Seven Gables. The jurors circulated a petition in which they admitted they "were not capable to understand nor to withstand the mysterious delusion of the powers of darkness. both of Ann's parents died. a place which can still be visited in Salem. two hundred people had been accused." The only one to repent publicly was Ann Putnam.in Puritan days. His wife had died when he left Salem Village. The curious can gaze at Gallows Hill. The house of "witch" Sarah Osburne remains on Maple Street. Rebecca Nurse was first buried there in an unhallowed grave. The history of William Phips is exactly as narrated. preserved by her descendants. . He was a most colorful. became seriously ill. stout dwelling. trying to forget its shame. changed its name to Danvers in 1752. A long time later. she died ten years later. The central part of Salem. as the estates of confessed witches were forfeited to the Crown. in which he pleaded for forgiveness. adventurous individual. the whole hysteria collapsed. the town quickly came to its senses. long after others had had their court costs paid and were set free. many people had become weary of and sickened by the witch hunt. Wracked by guilt. a fast day. to be read in church. nineteen people hanged. who confessed in church that she had erred and begged forgiveness. including the mouthing of the so-called "afflicted girls. Phips dismissed fifty cases for lack of legality and then received permission from the Crown to pardon all who were left in jail. Tituba was freed by a new master. By that time. where one gaunt tree stands against the sky. The parishioners demanded that Samuel Parris resign. and the treasure he discovered was a real phenomenon for any day and age. In 1697. He became convinced that the witch trials were a mockery when the "afflicted girls" overreached themselves and cried out upon his wife. after she had signed a pardon for one of the accused witches. who had denounced Rebecca Nurse. The insurrection against him was led by Rebecca Nurse's children. January 14.
not a great deal of information has been preserved. A small sum was paid. and bigotry. It is still often performed on the stage and has a strong denunciation of bigotry. there is no denying history. fear.In 1709. . Miller said he had a "sleepless social conscience. No one was ever again tried for witchcraft in America. about fifty pounds to each. wrote a play called The Crucible pertaining to the Salem witch hunt. a Pulitzer Prize winning author. In 1953. Whatever the reason. a group of twenty-one accused witches and the children of those who died demanded that the general court pay for their unnecessary suffering and clear their names. In 1957." and nowhere is it more evident than in The Crucible. the Massachusetts legislature passed a resolution stating that the court's actions in 1692 "attaches no disgrace to any descendant of those accused witches. perhaps due to the shame of the whole colony. Arthur Miller. and the horrible event will stand forever as a warning of the awesome power and destruction brought on by ignorance." For such an important historical event as the Salem witch hunt. perhaps influenced by this play.
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