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 is this important gathering that Harriett had to attend?” Bridget asked Sarah.
It was early morning and the pair was working along a row pulling out weeds and looking for bugs that fed on the growing sprouts. They had been walking to the field of crops with Harriett when a young boy had run up to them with a message that Harriett was required to go immediately to the meeting hut.
“Tis a meeting of the women that stand beside a husband. They have been asked to give counsel to Sister Faith.”
“She’s Brother Dolan’s sister?”
“Why does she need counsel?”
“Brother Wellesly has requested she stand beside him. She must decide.”
“He wants to marry her?”
“But she can say no?”
“And the meeting?”
“She will be counseled as to the wisdom she should agree.”
Bridget concentrated on pulling weeds for a few minutes. “I take it Sister Faith isn’t too keen on marrying Wellesly.”
“He is an over-bearing man.”
Bridget chuckled. “That is one way to describe him. It seems that most in the village are afraid of him, which I don’t understand. He doesn’t own very much land. He doesn’t sit on the council. So why does anyone care what he does or thinks or says? He has no power that I can see.”
Sarah did not pause in her weeding as she answered. “Brother Dolan represents the King.”
Bridget leaned back, stretching her tired back. “Brother Dolan is the village Selectman?”
“No wonder Wellesly wants to marry his sister.” Bridget twisted around to look toward the village buildings. “Think they’ll talk her into it?” she asked.
“It is my wish… for Harriett’s sake.”
Rested her arms, Bridget set down the buckets of water she had carried from the creek. It was late afternoon and she would be very glad to see the last row of crops watered so she and Sarah could return to Samuel’s and Harriett’s hut and get out of the hot sun. She watched as Sarah carefully ladled water around each individual plant.
“Looks like the meeting is finally over,” Bridget said bending over to lift a bucket and carry it to Sarah.
“The bell is not rung. Tis not bode well.”
“What?” Bridget set the bucket down beside Sarah.
“The church bell is not ringing.”
“And that means?”
“There is no news to celebrate.”
“Faith turned down the proposal?”
“Wellesly won’t like that.”
Sarah dipped the ladle into the bucket, filling it with the cool creek water. Lifting the ladle, she offered it to Bridget.
“Thanks.” Bridget drank slowly, keeping her eyes on the village where Harriett and the other married women of the village were exiting the meeting hut. “Uh, oh,” she handed the ladle back to Sarah, “here comes Wellesly. And he doesn’t look happy,” she said as she spotted the man rapidly approaching the women.
“Tis no bell I hear,” Wellesly said disbelieving as he marched up to the meeting hut to confront the woman he was expecting to marry. “Am I to believe thou has failed to find me acceptable?”
Faith Dolan looked around, hoping desperately that some of the women would come to her defense. When none stepped forward, she turned to face the angry man before her. “I mean thee no contempt.”
“Yet thee spurns me.”
“Brother Wellesly, tis forbidden to question thy choice.” Brother Dolan had been summoned from the church.
“Thy sister disgraces my offer.”
“As is her right.”
“Thee condones such insult?”
“Tis no insult to speak thy heart. Ye must ask another to stand beside thee.”
Wellesly glared at Dolan. “Ye promised her hand.” He said angrily. “Thou should force council to continue.”
“Brother Wellesly.” Samuel had been speaking quietly to Harriett. “Sister Faith listened to council and chose to say nay. Ye shall respect…”
Wellesly spun around. “Tis you’re doing.” He shouted at Samuel. “Ye fail to share thy land which thee has no hands to toil.”
“I pray that has no bearing on Sister Faith.” Samuel said.
“Tis simple to say when thy grant is large but unused.”
“Brother Wellesly, ye must not speak such.” Dolan tried to calm the angry man. “To do so, doubts the King.”
“Tis a family trait.” Richard Calvin muttered. He and several other men had now joined the crowd outside the meeting hut.
“Tis true.” Another man added.
“What are thou saying?” Wellesly asked, surprised but not shocked by the accusations that had dogged his family for years. “I am steadfast to our King.”
“Tis family banner does not grace the King’s wall.” Calvin answered. “Tis good reason for Sister Faith to question thy worth.”
“Do not speak such lies.” Wellesly threatened.
“Please. Give pause to thy words,” Dolan said to both men.
“I shall not.” Calvin crossed his arms over his chest and stood his ground.
“Ye shall regret…” Wellesly took a step toward the other man.
“Pause.” Samuel stepped between the two men. “Tis not right to speak thus. Brother Dolan, ye are the King’s man.” He implored the Selectman to intervene.
“Brother Samuel speaks true. Tis wrong to make conflict between us. Sister Faith has chosen. Brother Wellesly, ye must accept. Tis other maidens to stand beside thee.”
Wellesly glared at Dolan. Then, without speaking, he turned and stormed away.
“Nightfall approaches.” Dolan spoke to the villagers. “Return to thy homes.”
“And Brother Wellesly?” Calvin asked. “Thee spoke of violence against another.”
“I shall pray with Brother Wellesly,” Dolan said. “May he bear witness to thy wrongs.”
“It is a matter for council,” Calvin continued. “Thy grant is forfeit.”
“Thee speaks too soon,” Samuel interjected. “No violence was actually spoken. And none acted.”
“Brother Samuel speaks truth. The matter shall drop. Return to thy homes and give blessing for thy day.”
As the villagers followed Dolan’s instructions, Samuel walked back to Harriett.
“Darkness descends,” Harriett whispered when Samuel rejoined her.
“Wake.” Harriett gently shook Bridget from her dreams.
“What’s wrong?” Bridget asked groggily.
“Hush. Speak not.” Harriett continued in a whisper. “Tis time.”
“Time for what?” Bridget asked, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. It was pitch black in the small room where she slept on the floor, a lumpy grass filled mattress and threadbare blanket her only protection against the cold.
“Speak not. Come quickly.”
Unable to see in the dark, Bridget allowed Harriett to pull her up and lead her across the room. She heard the familiar squeak as the hut’s door opened and she felt a cool blast of night air rush into the building. She looked at the rectangular opening which, unblocked by the door, appeared a lighter shade of black from the walls surrounding it. As she watched, the shadowy shape of a man filled the opening.
Bridgett felt Harriett’s fingers entwine with her own.
“John Carpenter Wellesly, you have invaded the home of another.” Harriett’s voice announced in the darkness.
“Who defies me?”
“It matters not. You have come to do harm and I will not allow that.”
Bridget felt a strange sensation where her hand was clasped by Harriett’s. Confused, she stood frozen in place as the sensation moved up her arm.
“I seek only what is thy due.”
“The soul of my husband shall no longer suffer your fate.”
Bridget was frightened. Not by the presence of Wellesly but by the odd feeling that somehow her body was merging with Harriett’s.
“Shall a woman keep me from my due? I think not.” Wellesly laughed.
Bridget heard Wellesly’s words. Then she felt her own lips move to reply. “I have lived without my husband long enough. It is time I returned to his side.”
“What are you talking about?” Wellesly asked. “Who speaks?” The dark night prevented him from witnessing the bodies of Bridget and Harriett merging.
The strange sensation Bridget was experiencing had now spread throughout her body and was traveling down her other arm to cover her hand all the way to her fingertips.
“It is past the time for flight. You have come to take my husband’s life. I shall take yours instead.
“Wellesly laughed nervously. “How can thee know my thoughts?”
“Do you deny your deadly intentions?” The words were coming from her mouth but Bridget was powerless to stop them.
“Samuel would have done well to bow to council. Thy rows are untended and fallow. Thy grant is large but thy need is small.”
“So you come to take what is not yours?”
“I come to take my due.”
“And you would have me stand by you after you murder my husband?”
“Others share thy house.”
“You would blame another for your deed?”
“No,” Bridgett said. “This time you shall pay with your life.”
“Thou but a fool if ye seek to stop me.” Wellesly raised his arm, starlight reflected off the head of the axe he held. “Ye have no weapon to stop me.”
“I need none.”
Wellesly surged forward. He swept at the darkness in front of him with the axe, determined to cut down the woman who stood between him and his intended victim.
Bridget moved at Harriett’s command and sidestepped out of Wellesly’s path.
Unable to see, Wellesly tripped over the box that had mysteriously been placed directly in front of him. He landed on the floor with a heavy thud.
Bridget reached down. Picking up the axe that had been knocked free from Wellesly hand, she lifted it high above her head. “May your family be scorned for eternity.” She swore the oath then swung the axe down with all her strength on the head of the man that lay at her feet.
Bridget passed out.
Sarah waved her hand over the wick of a candle. A bright flame flickered, dispelling the darkness. “Is she harmed?”
“She is well.” Harriett smiled.
“Time is short,” Sarah said as she peeked out the window toward the village.
“What happened?” Bridget moaned. She shook her head, attempting to clear her thoughts. Slowly, her memory of the night’s events returned. She looked around the room. “Oh, shit,” she said when she saw the axe sticking out of Wellesly’s head. “I killed him.”
“No.” Harriett said, calmly.
“That’s right.” Bridget’s head whipped around to face Harriett. “You killed him. But…? How…? Why…?”
The sounds of worried voices shouting in the night were heard coming from the village.
“There’s no time. They’re coming.” Sarah turned away from the window.
“No time for what? Who’s coming?” Bridget tried to push herself off the floor but her hand slipped in something warm and wet. She looked down. “Oh, double shit with cherries on top!” Her hands were red with blood and the sticky liquid was seeping into her nightshirt.
The voices were getting closer and even in her confused and muddled state of mind, Bridget heard the sound of boots striking the hard-packed dirt on the path leading to the hut.
“It is done.” Sarah said as she faded from sight.
“Trust in love,” Harriett told Bridget.
Bridget watched as the woman faded into nothing. “I think our goose is cooked, Toto,” she said as Dolan and Calvin burst into the hut.
Bridget sat on the hard cot that was the only furnishing in the otherwise empty room. Her bare feet rested on the rough floor, shackles encircling both ankles. A thick chain connected the shackles to an iron ring bolted to the log floor. “Oh, boy.” She muttered.
Dolan had ordered her arrest after discovering Wellesly dead and Bridget covered in blood. In the days since, she had been escorted each morning to the meeting hut where her punishment was debated. All assumed her guilt and none had spoken in her defense. Even Harriett and Samuel denied any knowledge of the night’s events, claiming they had awakened to the grisly scene only after hearing Wellesly fall.
Bridget waited. She could hear the angry voices of the villages on the other side of the cell’s walls and more than a few were discussing her impeding death. She thought back over the events of the previous days. How had she ended up in this place? And why?
“Dismal, isn’t it?”
Bridget turned to see Sarah materializing beside her. “Are you for real?”
“As real as you are.”
“Sorry.” Bridget shook her head. “I don’t fade in and out.”
“No. You don’t.”
“I don’t suppose you’re here to explain what the hell is going on,” Bridget asked, scooting back on the cot to lean against the wall.
“You’re about to die.” Sarah scooted back to copy Bridget’s more comfortable position.
“Swell. We’re definitely in deep doo-doo, Toto. Well, I’ve been meaning to lose a few pounds.”
Sarah smiled. “It’s not that bad.”
“Easy for you to say.”
Memories flooded Bridget’s mind. “The diary. Why couldn’t I remember before?”
“We didn’t want you to.”
“Ah.” Sarah squirmed about on the hard cot then settled. “It’s a little complicated.”
“I think I can handle it.”
“Yes.” Sarah smiled. “That is why you were worth waiting for.”
“Samuel’s murder was unexpected.”
Bridget looked questioningly at Sarah.
“Let’s just say we’ve learned a lot in the past three hundred years,” Sarah shrugged.
“You didn’t know Wellesly would do anything to gain Samuel’s land?”
“We knew he wanted Samuel’s land. We didn’t know he would actually act upon that.”
“Not even after Faith turned down his proposal?”
“No. There were others in the village that would have suited him for a wife.”
“But the feud between the Welleslys and Bishops?”
“It had been hoped that it was left behind in England.”
“False hopes, uh?”
“But aren’t you.... And Harriett…. Witches?”
“Yes. But that doesn’t allow us to see into another’s heart. Besides… Like I said, it’s complicated.”
“So uncomplicated it.”
“Three hundred years ago, Harriett and I were new to the coven. Our powers were not strong.”
“So you weren’t able to invade another’s body back then?”
“No.” Sarah sighed. “You know?”
“I generally don’t go around burying axes into people’s heads. No matter how much I dislike them.”
“I’m sorry. It was necessary.”
“I’m sure.” Bridget frowned.
“Harriett was devastated when Samuel was killed.”
“She must love him very much to wait three hundred years to get him back.”
“But you were pressed to death. Are you saying you didn’t really die? I’ve seen your grave.”
“No. I died. But….”
“I know, it’s complicated.”
“Harriett visited me the night before my….”
Bridget reached out and placed her hand over Sarah’s. “You don’t have to say it.”
“So Harriett came to see you?”
“Yes. We knew that I could survive my punishment but to do so would prove me a witch.”
“Guess that wasn’t something you wanted to do back then, uh?”
“Not if we could avoid it. Harriett said it would be best for me to die and wait.”
“Wait for what?”
“This is the complicated part?”
Sarah grinned. “Love.”
“Harriett loved Samuel.”
“I loved Harriett.”
“It was a love never to be.”
“Especially not at that time.”
“Did… Does Harriett know?”
“Yes. But as she knew my love for her would never be fulfilled, she knew someday I would meet a woman I could love.”
“And that would be?”
“You.” Sarah lifted Bridget’s hand to her heart. “You didn’t save Samuel’s life when you allowed Harriett to kill Wellesly. You saved mine.”
“Oh, boy. Now you’ve really got me confused.” Bridget twisted so she could face Sarah, but she left her hand firmly in the grasp of the other woman. “Let me get this straight… You somehow found me three hundred years from now and transported me back in time so that I could save your life. And in the process, I also save Samuel’s life and help kill another man so Harriett and Samuel can be back together. Now, I’m about to be put to death for committing murder. Just how does this work out so that you can fall in love with me and we can live happily ever after?”
“Do you trust me?”
Sarah laughed. “Guess I had that one coming.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Ok. Trust me or not. You have to face your punishment in the morning.”
“All I can say is-- we will meet again.”
“You have to trust me.”
“No I don’t.”
“This is a beautiful ring.” Sarah studied the piece of jewelry on Bridget’s finger.
“It’s a family heirloom.” Bridget smiled, remembering the day her mother had placed the ring on her finger.
“How old is it?”
“We’ve never been sure but the family has always guessed that it was at least a couple hundred years old.”
“You’re very lucky to have it.”
Sarah wrapped her arms around the trembling woman. “I promise you won’t feel any pain.”
“Will you be there?”
“If you want.”
Bridget’s eyes popped open. She was surprised to be lying on the cot, covered by a blanket. Sarah was gone. She wasn’t too surprised by that. Her eyes drifted to the door as it was pushed open and two men entered.
Bridget did as she was instructed.
One of the men knelt to unlock the shackles around her ankle. The chain clanked loudly as it was pulled free of the iron ring.
Bridget was led outside.
Bridget’s heart was beating so fast she was sure it would burst out of her chest at any moment. She heard a thud as another stone was added to the board pressing her into the ground. “Sarah?”
With difficulty, Bridget rolled her head to see who had spoken. She felt warm arms wrap protectively around her and a sense of calm chased away the panic that had gripped her just seconds before. Soft lips kissed her forehead and she sighed.
“Do you trust me?” Sarah asked.
“We will meet again.”
“I believe you.”
“How will I know you?”
Sarah reached down for Bridget’s hand and pulled it up to her lips. “You’ll know.” She lovingly kissed each finger.
“Take my ring.”
“I trust you but I want to be sure.”
Sarah laughed. “You are everything Sam said you were and more.”
“Harriett and Samuel’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson. The one you met in the graveyard.”
“The one who took me to your grave?”
“So he did know more than he was willing to tell me.”
“He knew to watch for you.”
“We have much to talk about.”
“Take my ring.”
Sarah pulled the ring free and placed it on the ring finger of her right hand.
Sarah leaned forward and pressed her lips to Bridget’s.
As she returned the kiss, Bridget tapped her heels together. “Time to go home, Toto.”
“It is done,” Dolan pronounced.
Bridget groaned. She rolled onto her side to escape the bright sunlight shining in her eyes.
Bridget shot up in the bed. The hard cot was gone. She was back in the room at the bed and breakfast sitting on a thick mattress and covered in warm quilts. “Hot damn, Toto. I think it worked.”
A soft tapping was heard from the door.
“I’m sorry to bother you, Miss Donovan, but it’s much later than you usually get up. I was concerned you might not be feeling well.”
“I feel fine, Mrs. Nolen. Great, actually. I’ll be down for breakfast in a few minutes. Um, that is, if it’s not too late.”
“No, not at all. I’ll put a fresh pot of coffee on.”
Bridget bounced down the stairs, enjoying the smell of fresh bacon, eggs, toast and coffee coming from the dining room. She sat in the first chair available and reached for the platter in the middle of the table.
“You must have slept well.”
“Yes, I did.” Bridget answered without looking up. “Had the strangest dream though.”
“Oh? I guess that explains why you called me Mrs. Nolen.”
“What do you mean? You are Mrs. Nolen, aren’t you?” Bridget saw a cup of coffee being place beside her. The hand that held the cup was adorned with a ring. Her grandmother’s ring. She dropped the platter. “Sarah?” she asked, grabbing the hand.
“The one and only.”
Bridget looked up at the woman standing beside her. “It is you.”
“Yes. It’s me.”
Bridget walked beside Sarah as they made their way through the forest to the copse of trees that protected the grave. She was unsure what they would find when they arrived but Sarah had been insistent that they go. She led Sarah to the narrow opening between tree trunks. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes. Quit worrying.”
“Well, it has to be strange to see you own grave.”
“It’s not mine anymore,” Sarah said as she ducked under a branch and entered the tree tomb.
“It’s theirs.” Sarah was standing by the grave, a smile on her face as she gazed down at the carefully tended mound of dirt.
Bridget stepped beside Sarah and read the tombstone.
Samuel and Harriett Bishop.
May their love last an eternity.
“Samuel was mortal. Harriett chose to stay with him.”
“She really loved him.”
“Why couldn’t she just kill Wellesly herself?”
“I know, I know. It’s complicated.”
Sarah chuckled. “No, not really. She wasn’t sure she could do it herself. She needed your strength.”
“To send you back in time three hundred years took all the power we both possessed. Harriett was weakened by that and needed your strength. Your hand struck the blow but it was Harriett’s will that caused it.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“No. But as time passes, the memories will fade and soon you won’t remember anything about those days.”
“What about you?”
“We build memories starting today.”
“Shall we go back? Sam will be here soon to tend the grave.”
“All right. But explain one thing to me. When I left, Mrs. Nolen owned the bed and breakfast. What happened to her?”
“Wellesly never had children, hence…”
“No Mrs. Nolen.”
“So the bed and breakfast?”
“Belongs to the Bishop family. Sam owns it and I run it.”
“What else has changed because of all this?”
“Oh, not much. We can talk about it on our way back.”
“Uh, oh, Toto. Why do I get the feeling I may not like what you have to say?”
“I haven’t a clue.” Sarah smirked as she pulled Bridget into an embrace. “Don’t you trust me?”
“Quit worrying and kiss me.”
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