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.
“What do you say we go over there and sit for a while?” Bridget pointed across the wide cultivated field to a line of trees and the inviting shade beneath them. It was almost mid-day and she had been helping to pull weeds since dawn. “I could use some time out of the sun,” she said wiping the sweat off her brow using the sleeve of her dress.
“Tis not allowed.” Harriett did not bother to pause from her work.
“Seems like that’s all I ever hear from you.” Bridget grumbled, tossing aside a dirt clod with a weed clinging to it before pushing herself up from the ground. “Whether it’s allowed or not, I’m going. Haven’t you people every heard of sunstroke?” she asked as she brushed her hands together to rid them of some of the dirt covering them. “Not to mention skin cancer. I haven’t been out in the sun for this long since I was a dumb kid in college.”
Harriett looked up. Pushing her hat back a few inches, she wiped at her sweaty brow and studied Bridget. “Ye speaks many words that are unknown to thee. Why is that so?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you live four hundred years before my time or maybe because I just like to aggravate you. Now are you coming or not? It’s hotter than Hades out here and I need some shade. Not to mention something to eat. Don’t you ever get hungry?”
“Aye, but thy toils must be finished first. Thy row is almost done and thy husband will want thy midday meal soon.”
“Seems to me he could have taken care of that himself.” Bridget had noticed that Samuel spent the morning hours sitting in the shade of the village buildings talking to other men.
“A man is of no use trying to cook.” Harriett laughed as she returned to her work.
“Seems they’re not much use in the fields either.” Bridget looked down the ruler straight row trying to judge the distance to the end and how long it would take Harriet to reach the end of it compared to the length of time required if both women worked together. “Damn, I always hated those math problems.” She mumbled, dropping to the ground.
“I know not what thee speaks.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Bridget said as she resumed her position opposite Harriett. “Let’s get this done so we can eat.”
“Thy wife speaks well of thy work.”
Bridget was behind the house leaning over a wash bucket trying to scrub her hands and arms clean. “She could use some help.”
“Is that not what ye is providing?”
While working, Harriett had explained that though shared by all members of the village, the large rectangle of cultivated ground was separated with certain rows belonging to each male landowner in the village. The rows that Harriett tended accounted for almost a tenth of the total area of the field.
“I was thinking for when I’m not around.” Bridget frowned. “Why do the other women not help with your rows?”
“A fair question, Brother Bishop.”
Hearing the strange voice, Bridget straightened. Reaching for a small piece of cloth to dry her arms, she warily watched as a man haughtily approached.
“Brother Wellesly.” Samuel acknowledged the visitor, a hint of distrust in his voice. “What matter of business brings ye to my home?”
“There is talk in the village of an un-chaperoned virgin ye welcomed into thy house.”
“Thy wife sees to thee.” Samuel said as he gave Bridget a quizzical look.
“Aye, tis well and good then. Thy wishes only to assure thee is properly attended.”
Harriett opened the rear door of the house intending to call her husband and Bridget inside for the meal she had prepared. Seeing Wellesly, she hesitated.
“Good day to thee,” Wellesly said to Harriett.
“Good day, Brother Wellesly. Will thee share our midday meal?”
“I thank thee but no. Brother Dolan has asked that I share his meal. Brother Dolan’s virgin sister is a fine cook, is thee not?”
“Enjoy thy meal, Brother Wellesly. And thanks to God for providing,” Samuel said, motioning for Bridget to join Harriett inside.
“Thanks to God.” Wellesly waited until Bridget had entered the house before turning to Samuel. “Counsel meets in a fortnight, Brother Bishop. Will ye attend?”
“I have no business to bring before counsel.”
“Thy woman spoke truth. Ye has more field than hands to break thy soil. Is not…?”
“Thy wife waits, Brother Wellesly. As does Brother Dolan.” Samuel turned away to walk to the house.
Wellesly reached out, grabbing Samuel’s arm and stopping him from moving away. “Ye would be wise to attend counsel.”
Samuel looked down at the hand restraining him then up at Wellesly. “Good day, Brother.” His voice was calm but his jaw was clenched and his hands shook at his sides.
Wellesly loosened his grip and let his hand fall free. He glared as Samuel entered the house and closed the door. But he said nothing. After a few moments, he turned and walked away.
“Husband, are thy hurt?” Harriett asked as soon as Samuel shut the door.
“Who is that gorilla?” Bridget asked as she peeked out a window at the front of the house.
“Gorilla?” Harriett looked questioningly at Bridget.
“Oh. I supposed they haven’t been discovered yet, have they?”
“Come away from thy window.” Samuel instructed Bridget then smiled at Harriett. “I am unhurt, wife. Let us give thanks for God’s blessings.”
“So do you plan to tell me what Samuel wouldn’t?” Bridget asked as she and Harriett walked to the far end of another row needing weeding. Samuel had refused to allow any conversation as they ate their meal.
“I know not.”
“Damn.” Bridget kicked at the ground. The dry dirt exploding under the force of the toe of the boot she wore, borrowed from Samuel.
“Hush.” Harriett looked over her shoulder to see if any of the men moving about the village had heard. “Ye must not speak as such. Ye might be thought of a witch.”
“A witch.” Bridget laughed but quickly sobered as she remembered the tragic events surrounding the Salem witch trials. “Shit.” She bit off the word as she too looked over her shoulder. “I forgot you believe in those.”
“Ye does not?”
“I guess we all have some sort of demon to believe in. We just call it different names. You call it witchcraft.”
Bridget thought before answering. “I call it the Republican party.” She smirked.
Harriett studied her companion. “Ye is different,” she said seriously.
“That I most certainly am.” Bridget grinned.
“Aye.” Harriett smiled.
When they reached the end of the row and began their task of pulling out the unwanted sprouts, Bridget noticed a handful of women had moved to a row not too far away. She hadn’t needed Harriett’s whispered warning not to speak while the women were near, something about the way the women pretended not to notice them called to attention all her internal warning systems.
The women shadowed Bridget and Harriett all afternoon, retreating back to the village only when the pair prepared to return to the house. Bridget was more than a little frustrated at being prevented from questioning Harriett further.
“Praise to God,” Harriett said as she walked away from the house. “He has provided thee clouds to shield as thy toils.”
“Looks like those might be carrying some rain.” Bridget looked skyward at the dark grey clouds, the morning much cooler than the day before.
“A blessing of rain,” Harriett smiled, “for thy crops.”
The women turned in the direction the call had come from.
“Sarah?” Harriett dropped her basket and began running across the field.
“Sarah?” Bridget repeated as she watched the women embrace. “Where have I heard that name? And why the hell is everything here so familiar yet so strange? Where the heck are we, Toto?”
“Sister Bridget,” Harriet said as she returned with the other woman. “This is my dear friend, Sister Sarah.”
Bridget couldn’t help but smile at the friendly face gazing at her. “Hi.”
Sarah looked at Harriett, confused by the greeting.
“I told you she was…,” Harriett whispered.
“Different.” Bridget offered an explanation. “Good day to thee.” She tried again.
Sarah smiled. “Good day to thee.”
“Now that we got that out of the way, don’t be expecting me to speak your way too often. My tongue gets all twisted up when I try and I sound stupid.”
“Come. Thy rows will not weed themselves,” Harriett commanded. “Sister Sarah what reason for thy visit?” She asked as they settled to the ground.
“Since thee stands by Brother Samuel’s side, thy days seem empty,” Sarah said as she pulled a weed free.
“I have missed thee too,” Harriett whispered.
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