MOMENT IN TIME
This novel is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
Bridget woke in the same frame of mind she been in when she’d finally fallen asleep.
Not yet ready to face the new day, she kept her eyes closed as the events of the prior day kept repeating in her tired mind. A loud knock on the room’s door startled her from her thoughts.
“Are ye dressed?”
“What?” Bridget’s eyes popped open at the odd question.
“Are ye dressed? ‘Tis wrong to keep the others waiting.”
“What?” Bridget stared at the door. The voice was male and sounded strangely familiar. “Who are you and what do you want?”
The door creaked open just enough for someone to peer inside the room but not enough for Bridget to see who it was.
“Ye are not dressed yet ‘tis almost the break of day. Are ye ill?”
Bridget started to sit up. Maybe that would help clear her muddled brain.
“Ye mustn’t,” the voice sounded panicked. “’Tis not proper for me to see ye as such. Dress quickly.”
The door was pulled shut.
Bridget pushed herself up to a sitting position, briskly scrubbing her hands though her tousled hair. The room was dark, lit only by the dawn’s faint light peaking through an uncovered window. She reached for the lamp on the nightstand. “Damn, I’m sure it was on that side.” She muttered as she reversed direction and reached to the other side of the bed. “What the hell?” Her hand again found only empty space. Throwing back the covers, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed. “What?” She grunted when someone rapped on the room’s door.
Bridget watched as the door again creaked open a few inches and a hand wrapped around a lit candle slipped through the gap. She sat mesmerized as the hand placed the candle on a holder driven into the wood planked wall. Then the hand was retrieved and the door pulled shut.
Bridget’s eyes grew wide as she took in her surroundings. She was no longer resting on a thick feather mattress in the cozy, well appointed room of the bed and breakfast. Somehow her accommodations had changed during the night and she was now sitting on a hard cot covered by a thin straw mattress with her bare feet firmly placed on a dirt floor. The room’s only other furnishing was a straight back chair over which a gray piece of cloth was draped.
Slowly, Bridget pushed herself off the cot to stand. “What the fu..?” She had gone to bed dressed in a pair of old but comfortable cotton shorts and matching t-shirt. She now wore a linen nightdress that covered all but her head, hands and feet. “What the fu..?” She repeated reaching up to slap the side of her head a couple of times. “Whatever freakin’ nightmare you’re having, wake the fuck up.”
The room’s door creaked and Bridget looked over her shoulder to see a young girl enter the room.
“I am to help ye dress if ye are not sick and in need of the village healer,” the girl told Bridget, walking across the dirt floor to the chair and lifting the cloth from it.
Bridget watched as the gray cloth was held up revealing it to be a dress of similar length as the nightdress she wore.
“Please remove thy nightdress. The men are anxious to leave.”
“What men? Who are you?” Bridget gave her head a few more slaps.
“There is not time.” The girl glanced nervously toward the door.
Confused and bewildered, Bridget did as she was told for no other reason than she was sure she was dreaming and didn’t know what else to do. With the girl’s help, she soon found herself covered from neck to feet in a heavy, long sleeve wool dress. A wide, white linen collar was fastened around her neck and a matching head covering was placed over her hair.
“Quickly, ye shoes.” The girl handed Bridget a pair of leather shoes.
Bridget sat on the cot and tried to force the stiff shoes onto her feet. It didn’t take long for her to figure out it wasn’t going to happen. “These are too small,” she said, holding the shoes out to the girl. “I need some at least a size bigger.”
The girl shook her head, confused. “’Tis ye shoes?”
“None of this is mine.” Bridget frowned as she looked around the room. What she was looking for she had no idea. “Look I’ll just go barefoot.”
“’Tis not allowed.” The girl gasped.
“Well, I can’t get my feet into these,” Bridget said, dropping the useless shoes to the floor and raising a miniature dust cloud. “So unless you have another pair of shoes handy, I don’t see much choice.”
“Tis time.” The male voice called into the room.
“Make sure none see ye feet if ye do not wish to suffer the whip,” the girl whispered just before she scurried out of the room.
“Oh, crap.” Bridget muttered. “What the hell did that mean?”
“Ye would do well to mind ye tongue.”
Bridget’s head snapped up to see a man standing in the doorway. “I don’t suppose you’re here to fill me in on what the heck is going on?”
“Ye words are strange,” the man replied. “Tis better ye speak little. Come with me.” He turned and walked out of Bridget’s sight.
“If this is Ted’s idea of a joke, I’ll kill the little bastard when I get my hands on him.” Bridget muttered as she pushed up off the cot and followed the man.
“Ye did not mention another?” A man turned to question Bridget’s escort as they approached a pair of pushcarts.
“I have promised a friend to see to her needs.”
“For what purpose?”
“He must sail to England.”
“She will be a hardship.”
“We did well at the market yesterday. The carts carry little but empty baskets. We will manage.”
“Tis not right. A chaperone must be named.”
“My wife will be look over her. She will be a welcome pair of hands in the fields until her father gathers her on his return. Shall we proceed?”
“Tis ye risk.”
Two men pushed each of the carts over a rutted path.
Bridget sat in the back of one cart wedged between empty baskets and the cart’s unyielding side. She was confused and her stomach was growling. As she squirmed about on the hard wood surface trying to find some relief for her backside her elbow knocked against a basket tipping it onto its side and spilling out a half dozen carrots. She picked one up, brushing off the loose soil that still stuck to its skin before taking a bite. As she chewed, Bridget stared at the passing country. It was both unknown to her and yet strangely familiar.
What had happened? Where was she? And why?
“We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto,” Bridget muttered as she cleaned off another carrot.
Bridget saw a few thatch roofs peeking into sight about a mile further down the path. By now she had seen and heard enough to know that somehow it was no longer the year 2007 and she was no longer in the New Hampshire she knew. She didn’t know how it had happened but Bridget knew she had somehow been transported back in time.
The man who had awakened her several hours earlier had said little as the carts bounced along the rutted path and the other men spoke even less. The few times they had stopped to rest, Bridget had been allowed little freedom to move about so she had spent the time observing her escorts who appeared to have come to life by stepping out of a painting depicting a Puritan village.
The men wore suits of gray wool pants and jackets. Under the jacket, they wore linen shirts and some wore sleeveless vests button in the front. Three of the men wore a hat with a wide brim and high crest made from a some sort of animal hide while her benefactor’s head was bare. Their feet were covered with leather boots showing the wear of hard and constant use.
Although her benefactor appeared to pay Bridget little mind, she sensed his eyes on her constantly. She had made a few attempts to ask him questions but he refused to reply, instead quietly warning her to not speak when the others could hear. She had eventually given up. But she was nagged by the feeling that she somehow knew her benefactor.
The rooftops grew larger as they came closer and Bridget watched the walls supporting them slowly take shape. From what she could see, the cluster of buildings wasn’t much bigger than a normal city block in Northbrook. As the carts drew closer to the village, she saw women wearing the same style dress as she wore working in a field divided into neat rows. Younger children worked with the women or sat quietly near them while the older children sat in a group paying close attention to a man speaking to them. Men worked about the village performing various chores.
“Tis welcome to be home,” one of her escorts said.
“Our brothers will be glad of our success at market,” another said.
As the men talked, Bridget saw a woman at the far side of the cultivated fields push herself up from where she had been kneeling. She was puzzled that the woman appeared to be working a large portion of the rows by herself.
The woman wiped at her forehead under the wide brim of a straw hat, a smile spreading across her face as she watch the carts enter the village. She dropped something into a basket at her feet then turned to walk across the field being careful to step over the tended rows.
Bridget glimpsed her benefactor’s reaction when he spotted the woman and she speculated about their relationship.
The cart in which Bridget rode was directed away from the other which was being pushed to the front of a large hut in the center of the village. Bridget waited quietly as her cart continued through the village in the direction of a hut at the end of the cultivated fields. She noticed that the woman was also walking toward the hut.
“I thank thee,” Bridget’s benefactor told the man who had helped him push the cart.
“Tis good for thee village. And for our Lord. I shall bid thee good day as thy wife approaches.”
“And thy wife awaits thee. Good day to thee.”
Unsure whether to move or not, Bridget stayed in the cart waiting to be told what to do.
“Husband,” the woman said as she walked up to the cart. “I have missed thee. Did market go well?”
“Thee has brought another?” the woman asked even as she studied Bridget.
“Her father was summoned to London on the King’s business. She will help in thy fields until his return.”
“I will not say nay to such.” The woman smiled.
“Shall we enter?” the man asked both his wife and Bridget. “We have much to thank our Lord.”
Bridget climbed down from the cart.
“Thee has no covering on thy feet.” The woman was shocked at the sight of Bridget’s bare feet.
“The shoes I was given didn’t fit. Guess someone didn’t do their homework.” Bridget frowned. She still wasn’t completely convinced that her predicament wasn’t someone’s idea of a practical joke.
“I understand not thy words.” The woman looked bewildered.
“Enter thee home, wife.” The man instructed. He gently grasped his wife’s elbow and guided her toward the hut’s door. “Please follow,” he told Bridget.
“Why do I think I know you?” Bridget asked. She was sitting on a straight back chair. Her benefactor sat in a matching chair on the opposite side of a plain wooden table while waiting for his wife to finish filling wooden bowl with the contents of a pot hanging in the fireplace.
“I know not.”
“What is your name?”
“Tis not proper to question my husband thus,” the woman said as she placed a bowl of stew in front of her husband and a second bowl in front of Bridget.
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on or why,” Bridget glared at the woman, “but when I went to bed last night it was the year two thousand seven. Somehow I get the distinct feeling it isn’t any more. So whether it’s proper or not, I want some answers. And you can start with your names.”
“What is thy’s name?” the man asked.
“Bridget Donovan.” Bridget hoped by answering it would encourage the others to do the same. She picked up the spoon next to the bowl to taste the food. She was hungry, having only eaten the few carrots she’d found in the cart all day.
“Put down thy spoon,” the man said. “We must give thanks for thy meal before we partake.”
Bridget was quickly loosing her sense of humor and her patience. “I’m starving, I wearing clothes I wouldn’t let me worst enemy see me in and I don’t know where the hell I am or why. So let’s cut the bull.”
The woman gasped, almost dropping the bowl she was carrying to the table.
“Sit, wife. We shall give thanks to our Lord. Then we will respond to thy questions.”
The man pulled the spoon from his mouth and chewed a piece of meat while he thoughtfully studied Bridget. “For what purpose has thee come?
“Excuse me?” Bridget looked up. She had been soaking a piece of bread in the gravy at the bottom of her otherwise empty bowl.
“As thee said, thee is not from this time.”
“You know, all these thee’s and thy’s are starting to make my head spin.” Bridget popped the piece of bread into her mouth. “Is it allowed to asked for seconds?”
“A refill. More.” Bridget lifted her bowl showing its lack of contents to the others.
The man nodded to his wife, who took the bowl from Bridget. “Yes, it is allowed. Thee has not answered me.”
“I guess I could say the same to you. You haven’t told me your names.”
“Tis name is Samuel Bishop. And thy wife is Harriett.”
Bridget frowned as a newly filled bowl of stew was placed in front of her.
“Does thee not like thy meal?” Harriett asked.
“Uh? Oh, no… I mean yes, I like it very much. It’s very good.” Bridget smiled at the concerned woman. “It’s just that I seem to remember meeting someone named Samuel Bishop. But I can’t quite remember where or when.”
“Tis a common name.” Samuel said.
“That may be....” Bridget let the thought go unfinished. “And where am I? What is the name of this village?”
“Tis the settlement of Maplewood.”
“And the year?”
“Tis the year of our Lord, sixteen eighty three.”
“Oh, boy, Toto. We definitely aren’t in Kansas anymore.” Bridget muttered as she dipped her spoon into the bowl of stew.
Return to the Academy