The Witch Bridle

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Chapter 51

Not a single living creature remained at the house. Oona, KC and her children were all gone. “My beloved Great Book is gone as well, and with the Willing Child-Witch, the necessary instruments by which I shall return to the world of the living!

“For so long as my spirit form exists, my material presence is proscribed; and can only occur through the hands of the Willing Witch laid on the pages of the Great Book.

“Where is the child-witch? I was nearly material!” the Dark Witch thundered. Crucial to her continued existence in any form, Lucia had drawn energy off the child-witch for months. Unable to feed off Thankful, now even the powers of her Great Book were deprived. “And the Great Book, now packed into the sanctuary of a Papist church! How could I have let them get away? A church I knew well.” Lucia, radiantly evil, floated through the air like a gazelle, inside and out of doors. Outdoors, the surrounding dwellings were all covered in silence and blackness, and had settled down from the night’s earlier disturbances.

“And through the child-witch, the devices of the Great Book may be fully executed; my return to flesh and blood assured.” Lucia’s presence had a sickly effect on the house. “Or, should I search for another Willing Witch?” she considered. Lucia’s form went in circles now. “Ah, to find a Willing Witch from whom I would draw strength. I would send the Five Blasphemies crashing that Popish bastion like lightning bolts, were it not for my weakened state.”

Though her spirit had been considerably diminished since the night of Oona’s disappearance and all that ensued, the Evil One glided with little effort from room to room and out of doors, in close proximity to the house. Strangely, there are no callers, not even constables.

But as the days passed, Lucia felt hobbled and was increasingly isolated at the house. She rummaged through the virtual prison of the barren house – the spoils of her Pyrrhic victory.

For so long as the Dark Witch was detached from the Great Book, Lucia knew she would neither complete her transition nor her mission.

“I should wait for the child-witch. Surely I am doomed unless I remain patient. That is my only option to conserve my well-being. For now I must wait, and stay strong for when my strength is most needed.” The child-witch must return here with the Book!

“Witch Oona!” Lucia called. “I curse thee! You shall never defeat me! Be doomed to the Past! The Time Trick foretells that the Great Book is necessary for a Traveler’s safe return. You will only fail!” In truth Lucia was uncertain whether Oona would fail. Her own options were limited. Lucia needed the Book to replenish, to continue her mission of death and retribution.

“That requires prolonged nourishment, and without my Great Book, nor might I pursue that witch into my time, to make sure that she fails!” The final battle. “I would kill thee in the past or the present for I am the Great Witch Lucia!” Can I occupy two places in time at once? “I should not diminish my strength unless my powers are devoted determinedly against my enemies.” May I follow the witch Oona to a place where I already exist?

Oona and Louis drew ever-closer to the man near the farmhouse. Once he withdrew to his dwelling and quickly emerged with what was a weapon of some sort, they knew he spotted them. As they approached they noticed his land seemed to comprise only a few acres, including pasture land.

Then as the man approached them cautiously, Oona was relieved to see it was only a pitchfork in his hands. And once they were within twenty feet of each other, Oona called to the farmer, “Kind Sir: We travel to Boston, and we seek rest and shelter. Dost thou knowest of an inn nearby where we may find peaceable lodging?”

“I know of no inn nearby, woman.” The man gave each of them a long and obvious glance. “I am sorry.”

“Oona fixed her eyes on his, and slowly passed her hand over her heart. “No need for sorrow, kind sir.” The gesture drew the attention of the tall, broad shouldered man. “We have no credit and scarcely anything to pay for it. We were waylaid along the way north.”

Young Louis looked on in silence; and his jaw dropped as he absorbed the strange words coming from both grown-ups’ lips. Culture shock and the weird language sent shockwaves through the boy, and an extreme sense of excitement took hold of him. If it weren’t so real, young Louis would feel as if he were on a stage set or in a movie. We really are in the past! Louis’ “real” world back home in modern day Westbridge was on indefinite pause while the strange man continued to speak in a strange way.

And the man deliberately kept his eyes on the visitors. He said,

“You are strange ones for this place, Fair Maid,” the unbearded yeoman observed. “You canst not be of our people.”

Louis reacted slightly to the man’s words, and maintained his absolute silence.

The man drew closer and now stood only a few feet away. He looked at Louis with some aversion. “And this boy who bears you company?” He shook his head slightly, as if for the sad-looking, trembling child who stood before him.

“The boy is deaf and dumb, kind sir,” Oona said.

Louis winced slightly at mere mention of the word, “dumb.” Oona had never used offending words, and in school even “dumb” was a “Bad Word.” In silent distress, the boy secretly and defiantly mouthed, “I’m not dumb!” to Oona.

The man’s expression had changed to one more telling of sympathy. “And how didst yonder mute come to be with thee? Surely he canst not be of your making.”

“No kind sir.”

He regarded the two travelers with a particular scrutiny, and finally asked, “Wither goest thou?”

“This boy is a lost child who must return to his mother, thereabout in Boston.” Oona looked on at the man; he was, no doubt, a late seventeenth century farmer.

“And whence comest thou?” The man drew even closer to Oona. Strong hands; bare knuckles.

Louis sensed the subtle seduction: Oona’s intense powers of persuasion.

“It is strange to behold you in this place…in this hour…kind maid.”

“My name is Oona, from the Iroquois Nation, charged with the safe delivery of this young one named Louis. Because of my knowledge of English, I am tasked with this charge, to deliverest the boy back to his poor widowed mother. Good sir, this pitiful deaf and dumb child must go thither.”

Oona hoped that odd pronunciations or inflections could be explained away by her supposed derivation from a distant Indian Nation, and that her tale of woe would garner sympathy for her stated purpose and even absolve her from local customs. Oona trusted her strong and seducing presence would entice the man to inattentively believe her story.

“Thine costume is of a European cloth,” he noted, “not the attire of your own clan.”

“We are fortunate to have escaped with our lives and the clothes on our backs,” Oona said appealingly.

“And what manner of dress is this?” he asked as his eyes moved around them both, draped in what seemed layers of rough cloth and not much else.

She thought for a long moment, and again used her charcoal eyes to capture his attention. “Men descended on our travels a few miles back near Taunton Town. We were left only with these,” she said, and gestured with her hands to their soiled and torn coverings. “With us we carry no supplies.”

There was a pause in spoken words.

The farmer was quite handsome in a historical kind of context, thought Oona. He had medium-length dark hair spread unevenly around his piercing blue eyes, and his deeply creased face offered the mien of someone well beyond his natural years. Oona noticed the odor of clothes, obvious to her and, she presumed, to Louis as well. Clothes soaked in sweat from days’ worked in them, saturated with perspiration, and caked with soil and whatnot even in this early hour of morning. Oona could see now the man’s clothes were well worn, for weeks and perhaps months.

“I pity your circumstance and the paupers’ garments you wear, kind maiden.”

Oona suddenly felt vulnerable. She feared she had brought added attention to her garments and cast doubt not only on their crude coverings but also on themselves in general. Oona took pause to regard the man more fully now, and then she said, “Thou hadst a sorrow of thine own?”

“Aye,” he responded. “I am a recent widower, kind maid. My goodwife passed of disease and so did our only progeny, my son.”

Louis’ eyes rose slightly in reaction to the word “disease.” “Was it contagious?” he thought. He shriveled his nose then quickly recovered a blank demeanor so not to betray his deception. Louis recalled that this farmer’s story of loss was similar to Anton’s loss in a different century, when his beloved son, Longin, and his wife died. “Maybe it’s a sign,” the boy hoped. “Maybe Anton can help us now.”

As if lost in a perpetual sadness, the farmer drifted off to the time when “There was not a thing I could do. My wife and our only offspring died within days of each other. My son was about the age of the dumb one there, and his wears will serve yours well.” The farmer took a step in the direction of his small farmhouse, sided with rough clapboards. He added, “I have retained their clothing still and will gladly bestow these articles to you and the dumb boy. I have also a wool blanket to give you.” The farmer looked deeply at Oona. “Come maid, come into my home. Here in this world, I have no progeny; no heirs. I am all alone.”

The trio entered the man’s small cottage through a roughly hewn iron and wood door. Imperfect as it was, Oona noted the fine examples of simple, functional early American architecture. The single unceiled room was beamed, with wood walls and rough pine floors. On ceiling beams above them hung a number of crude essential implements for a seventeenth century farmer. There were water skins, farm tools, and weaponry among them. A fieldstone fireplace consumed the east-facing wall which was opposite the doorway. There were two small bare and undraped windows. She noticed the sparse furnishings: the crude table and chairs, a cupboard and a lumpy bed with animal skins thrown over it with whatever lay beneath them. On the walls there were candles and farm implements on several shelves which were placed haphazardly. Oona breathlessly observed several items of glazed pottery and what looked like a broken piece of fine porcelain china. Then, with more somber reflection, the raven haired beauty grew concerned for her own family: KC and the kids. With great sadness and longing, the good witch glimpsed their Westbridge home.

The farmer handed his son’s clothes to Louis, with gladness it seemed, and then he turned to Oona and presented her the remaining items in his hands: his wife’s shoes, several gray dresses and undergarments.

Oona shifted her mind back to her current surroundings, and she was deeply touched by the man’s tragedy and his unconditional generosity. She was drawn to him completely. Here was a poor and miserable farmer who offered clothes and the few pennies he possessed, probably his life’s savings. For provisions he gave them hard bread and a few mementoes.

On behalf of both travelers, Oona gratefully accepted the articles and acknowledged (again) the man’s kindness and generosity. She looked very closely at the man and his surroundings. Quite pleased with the colors and textures of the time, and especially with the farmer’s clothing, everything so far suggested a good match by her friend, Heida, whose period forgeries had seemingly passed the man’s close inspection. Now Oona believed they could pass unnoticed through the countryside, and move freely, though cautiously, in the daylight. And she was pleased for Louis, who had easily evaded discovery.

Then Oona fell to the floor. Yet again she profoundly accepted the articles given them by the farmer, and while she moved about on her knees, Oona furtively swiped away the alien footprints on the wet floor boards. She silently commanded Louis not to move.

“Rise, squaw,” the farmer said. “Had I mules or horses or animals to help with your passage, I would do so. But I am a poor man with little to share. Please, rest here for the journey ahead.” And with those words the farmer extended his callused hands – bare knuckles – to assist Louis with his garments.

“Not his feet!” Oona shouted, and the farmer recoiled. The witch took a deep breath and said in a more measured tone, “The boy is very sensitive to his body, kind sir. And Louis is especially sensitive to his poor, unfortunate feet.” Then with her eyes and generous warmth, Oona stated calmly, “Please leave the clothing with us now, and thank you again for your kindness.”

The man bowed his head slightly and said, “My name is Samuel. My surname is unimportant for I have no heirs.” He turned and took a broad step toward the cottage door and added, “I shall take my leave to stack hay and tend to other business. I toil from dawn until dusk, haymaking – cutting, drying, raking and curing to put up for a couple of cows.” A small smile creased the corners of his mouth. “Shout for me should you require anything.”

“What wouldst thou have us do this day to assist thee, kind sir? Surely we cannot rest here in this fair lodging without offering some recompense in return.” Oona glanced downward and could quite clearly see the outline of his manhood which swelled against his loose, farm-soiled galligaskins, with each smile or expression she offered him.

The man took one short moment before he turned to face Oona. “I am sorry,” he finally said. Then with his head he bowed once again to Oona and to the boy. “Come then, and milk my cows.” With a small smile, he turned and left the cottage with the great door left open behind him.

The dead boy’s clothes were more than adequate replacements for all Louis’ things. The shoes Samuel had given Oona were a good fit and the clothing was reasonably dirt-free. There were a dark gray dress, with buttons up the front and a whitish blouse, and layers of undergarments which were authentic enough to repel her. The witch stifled more than a few gasps as she looked over the man’s wife’s clothes, none of which she planned to wear. Oona thought of body lice and cold bathes. Lice are not afflicted by magic. “You need a bigger mind.”

Outside the morning sky brightened the landscape. A soft breeze brought forth bold fragrances of the farm and of nature. They could see gentle hills and dales with a few large boulders left here and there. Along one side of the property, there flowed a steady stream, spanned with a fallen-log bridge which led north to the unknown.

“My cows are yonder.” The yeoman’s voice interrupted Oona’s more quiet reflection. “Everyone knows a cow will not give properly for men.” He smiled and winced. “Only women and children can milk a cow well.” Samuel looked over to Louis and he motioned the boy and Oona to walk over to the crude lean-two structure.

“Come. I pray they will give much milk this fine morning.” As he turned again, he added, “Be in no hurry,” and he respectfully took his leave to go about his own business.

“Where’s the bathroom?” Louis whispered. “I have to go.”

“You didn’t go before now?” she quietly snapped back. “Go in the woods! We are nearly surrounded by woods; I am certain you can find a place. Go and do not say a word!”

“What am I supposed to use?”

“For what?”

“For paper.”

“Toilet paper?” she asked. “Uh, of course,” she acknowledged. “And please use leaves, Louis. Find some leaves, alive or dead, and use those.” In the distance Oona could see the farmer was with his back to the boy who soon found a ditch marked for the obvious purpose. The hole smelled awful enough for the boy to have no doubt.

Neither cow was happy to see Oona or Louis, so the pair returned to the dim, warm shelter of the cottage. Oona supposed the cows could wait for a while longer, and Louis transformed into a contemporary farm boy. At the large welcoming hearth, perhaps five feet across, Oona thoughtfully poked the embers of what had been last night’s fire while she waited for Louis. He rustled with his new clothes behind Oona who felt quite fortunate to have come upon such a treasure trove the first day of their mission.

Still they managed to get some milk for breakfast. The witch and enchantress toasted the bread given them and Oona scanned her eyes around the cottage for anything else they might use or eat, whether warm or cold. They would wait and see what else the farmer could offer.

Oona used the store of dry wood left inside the cottage and stoked up a great new fire. She commanded Louis, still in the process of changing his clothes, to hand over his Nikes, his Under Armour, his underwear, and his gym socks. “Everything,” she said.

Louis offered no objections; it was the iPhone he most missed.

Oona drew two blazing sticks from the great fire and incantated mysterious words accompanied with odd motions. In time with a few unseen casual nods, the boy pitched his twenty first century clothing over to his nanny one by one. And as Louis looked on, the witch placed each article onto the two burning sticks and then placed it into the large blazing hearth. Flicks of orange crackled upwards, among waves that shimmered with yellow and blue light.

Louis, the seer and medium, could hear Oona speak softly to her goddess, Erzulie. Her name she repeated with every swipe of the burning sticks. The atmosphere became heavy with fragrance and powered by her invisible presence. Conjured images appeared, followed by rumbling sounds.

The warmth was delicious for Oona and for Louis, but the witch grew concerned the unpleasant smells of the twenty-first century would not all dissipate quickly enough to completely exit through the cottage’s short chimney. She swirled her poker at the objects which disintegrated in the fire before her increasingly concerned eyes. She knew she had made a mistake.

How could my judgment be so bad?

The smell of burning rubber was awful and, even worse, rubber was virtually unknown in North America at the time. And anything unknown was a strong magnet for witch hysteria. Oona was relieved that some measure of her magic survived the journey, but the suffocating odor remained after time had quelled the flames.

We are dead.

“Whence cometh the smoke of Satan!” they heard when the door burst open and Samuel entered his home.

“Fear nothing, kind sir.”

“You woman bringest a foul and disgusting demonic stench! What sorcery is this?”

“We seek only to render the boy’s old rags into the flames.”

“Then begone paupers! Take leave now!”

“No, no, no kind sir.”

“Both of you: Go!”

“Tis only a harmless charm to bid us good fortune.”

“Go!” he insisted.

Nay,” she said and rose to her feet. Oona looked Samuel straight in the eyes.

“You dare say ‘Nay’ to me, in my own home?” he thundered.

“Please, sir” she said calmly and deliberately. “Tis only the odors of rags and turf, waste in the fire, which have befallen thee.”

“Nay! I know the smell of turf and this is surely not so! Such must be the work of the devil!”

“Pray thee forthwith, lest the Dark One heareth thy speech.” she warned.

“I pray to Him no longer! He turned His back on me thrice: took my goodwife and then my son, and my own parents before them.” Samuel stood motionless in a paralyzed reflection of his losses. Then he took careful notice of Oona and she raised her eyes to his. Though his better senses cautioned him to look away, Samuel looked into Oona’s black bottomless eyes and declared, “Methinks you are a witch.”

“Nay. Nay. Thou thyself wilt see,” she pledged. “We mean thee no harm, kind sir.” Oona looked imploringly up at the tall rugged figure of the man. A heavy hand had carved the deep lines of a hard life into his face. Oona’s natural charms were fully adequate to bring the tall and rugged man eventually onto his knees. The “demonic stench” submitted to the far sweeter smell of seduction.

“Goest now boy,” Oona said to Louis. She gestured the necessary tasks for the boy to obey: “And milk Samuel’s cows.”

Louis’ wide eyes widened with helpless exasperation.

“The boy is truly an idiot,” Samuel said of Louis. “And a poor one indeed.”

“Fetch now a bucket and go wrench a teat,” Oona gestured and said.

Had the whole affair not been so numbingly bizarre to him, Louis might have gone to pieces. Instead the boy calmly turned for the door while he played his feigned disabilities well.

Ever mindful that their interactions were all carefully observed by Samuel, Oona gestured again and spoke succinctly to usher the boy outside of the house.

Louis quietly exited the cottage, where he retreated into his soul.

What other animals are kept at the farm?

Louis walked to the lean-two, open on one side which, in spite of the wall-mounted sundial, barely fit the boy’s definition of a shed. Stored here and there were animal fodder – a cut and dried assortment of plant leaves, stems, and grassy legumes. There Louis stayed and tended to the two cows, witnessed by a small bull calf and a few noisy chickens. And if Louis had had any doubt of his present surroundings, that first morning bared the full picture of his new world.

Inside the cottage, Oona loosened her braids and moved over to the uneven bedding which occupied the corner of the cottage nearest the hearth. “Do not all children seem a bit strange when they enter this age?” she asked. “Dost thou think they are more vulnerable and yet more mysterious, and more private about what goes on in their inner life?”

Samuel looked blankly at her.

“Kindest sir, I tell thee with all honesty, we come from a foreign place with no friends and no family betwixt this farmstead and our final destination. Whilst I canst not tell thee all the particulars of my mission, I pray thee that thine kind quarters may lend us shelter this day and night, so we may adjust ourselves to this place, and replenish our stores before moving on with our journey.”

He saw her as a suitable and beckoning squaw. His grown organ pulsed for her. Many months had passed with no marital relations thenceforth, after Samuel’s wife slowly died. Now the simple man and widower saw Oona as neither a witch nor a whore. And whether a witch or a whore, or neither or both, Samuel was ready to bed her now, even if it be by some spell or some magical attraction to her which drove him. He loved her helplessly.

“I believe it is God’s will for us to have met thee,” she said. “Please, continue your kindness,” she whispered softly. Her deep black eyes never left his.

He moved and grasped her by the shoulders. Oona could plainly see how Samuel’s body responded to her voice. She prayed to Erzulie: “Have mercy on me and help me overlook this fine man’s failings.” She thought especially of his smell and his hygiene; and also the lack of a suitable setting for whatever her wandering preferences might suggest. This frontier cottage was not it. “Help me gain strength and wisdom, Erzulie, That through this oftentimes act, I may enjoy what I need, and take what this kind meaning man may offer me now.”

“Seek thee now thine temptation,” she said.

And before he could act, Oona gently took Samuel by the hands. She guided Samuel outside where the student of Medieval Herbalism and Homeopathy pressed a freezing cold oat straw bath.

“Are you mad?” he asked.

And along with the necessary supplies, Oona led him to the stream which abutted the farm, with an icy cold natural pool, perfect for a “Pilgrim Bath.” And as much as she disliked the cold, Oona joined Samuel and they bathed together and rubbed themselves clean.

“Didst thou pluck thine arm-holes?”

“Aye,” she said with a smile.

“And thine notch as well?” He shyly pointed to Oona’s most private parts.

“Thou seest with ease to entereth into mine home.” Again she smiled.

“Methought you were mad. Now I know so!”

Chilled to the bone and bitter cold, their bath was pleasing but not easy. They emerged numbingly cold and were fully refreshed when they reached the cottage.

“Let thine temptation take me now,” she said.

Samuel pushed her onto the bed, firmly and not roughly, and lay beside her with one arm around her waist. They kissed with a burst of passion. The yeoman had all his teeth, or nearly all. As the muscled man mounted her, and she felt his hard sex enter her soft and welcoming body, Oona prayed:

“Goddess Erzulie: Help me to look past this man’s benign and generally boring nature, and enjoy at this time and moment his warmth and his passion, and the kindness he may extend to us both.”

Oona had purposely not brought condoms over the obvious fear of discovery. And in spite of the diseases of the time, syphilis among them, the libidinous enchantress discounted the cruder aspects of her encounter with Samuel, and it became a close and loving experience for her and him alike.

“Your breath, your mouth, your very teeth are arranged with the greatest perfection,” he said.

“Everything is so very perfect.” He moved his hands from place to place. “You are perfection. How is it that your teeth and the young one’s too, are so perfectly arranged?”

“Man, do not hold back. Let thyself free in me.” Yes, yes! Now!” she sighed.

“Woman you are a whore or a witch,” he scowled, and he stammered unconvincingly when he came inside her warm silken body.

Perhaps every woman’s fantasy: To be paid for sex. “I am a witch indeed and, at times, a bit of a whore,” she silently conveyed with a smile.

When they were through, she lay there for a moment with Samuel still on her. They rested for a while and the feeling was not uncomfortable. And please Erzulie: do not have Louis know of this encounter.

“Samuel,” she finally started. “My daze and exhaustion is attributable to our encounter with the brigands. Tell me: What is the date on the calendar?”

“Why it is certainly the twenty-sixth of March,” he said.

“Please, show me thine patience and not think mine questions daft,” she said. “And the year?”

“Woman you surely play with my senses. It is the year Sixteen Hundred and Ninety Two.” He was not angry although he sounded it. “Surely you are a strange, strange squaw,” he said. How the Indian maiden gripped him completely with her natural charms, and how she surrounded him with her presence. Not since my son’s passing have I had visitors in this home. And now, as if by Providence, the woman and child appeared in place of his own.

Time passed and a silent Louis finally returned to the sleepy cottage, wrapped in the wool blanket Oona had first given him, with the clothes Samuel handed down, underneath. As he, Oona, and the farmer drew closer as the day wore on, Oona gladly prepared supper for everyone. “All carbs” to herself she vowed more than once. There were plenty of hooks and hangers around the fireplace to get everything warm and ready. Kettles for soup and potatoes were handy and a clean well outside the door was most convenient. Once the farmer washed his hands and face, as he said he did before each meal, Oona and Louis followed suit. With a basin of warmed water and no soap, the pair washed up and joined Samuel. And with no ill effects, the three had a filling supper of hard bread and pea soup.

In the low light of the cottage, Oona noticed more than a few medicaments to take along on their journey. There were angelica, anise, and garlic among the things she would bring along with the secret substances already tucked away in her cloak. With the herbs and roots she gathered since their arrival only hours ago, Oona collected a reasonable inventory of magical substances. She placed these in a wicker basket given to her by Samuel. Oona also procured a staff and a good sized knife for the wilderness.

Well blanketed on the cold pine floor, they were drawn up to the great blue flames of the fireplace, as a family would do. While the wind howled outside, Oona and Samuel alternately made quiet love and spoke by lantern light while Louis seemed content – and kept his silence – a few feet away.

Oona wondered what the next day would bring and she reminded herself that her imminent departure would likely break the man’s heart. Still, the two spoke candidly of their separation. Samuel recited directions to the Abington settlement, which Oona committed to memory, of roads and pathways through what was mostly Indian land. Both agreed that an Indian maiden and a helpless child could be subject to great abuse and must be very discreet in their travels.

The night finally came upon them and the three slept in a lumpy bed of straw and down. Oona reckoned the time at dusk to be about six o’clock. They had been with Samuel for about twelve hours, and in that time they had burnt Louis’ belongings and fought with Samuel. They made love while Louis milked cows and did whatever else he found to do outside. They prepared food around the fireplace and enjoyed a full dinner. For the first stop on the way to Old Salem, they had plenty to do since their arrival at the farmstead. Oona took a place in the middle of the “marriage bed” as Samuel called it, and where they all remained until the morning calls of the rooster.

While Louis had the look of a boy who pleasantly daydreamed, the farmer and Oona remained close for a little while longer until Samuel asked to marry her.

“I will care for the dumb boy together with thee,” he said. Clearly enamored by her, Samuel’s appeal was more than enough to rouse Oona off the bed. And with Oona’s silent response an unequivocal “No,” Samuel then asserted, “I shall come along with ye, to assist and defend thine interests.”

While that offer was more tempting, Oona firmly declined after careful consideration, though not without great temptation. The witch simply could not bring anyone else on their travels without adding greater risk to their mission, and with variables enough in her present calculus. Their mission depended on herself and Louis, and their eventual success should be of no lasting impact to the local people of the time.

“You bid me begone?” he finally said. Samuel wore and expression of great pain.

“Aye,” she answered, “Though you are surely a kind and just man.” Oona hoped her magic would keep him at bay. Then, with a wink of her eye, Oona cast a simple Spell of Bravery on Samuel, and in doing so, she hoped to spare him the most severe pangs of his inevitable emptiness. She went outside. Louis and then Samuel followed.

Oona gave Samuel a soul filled kiss, then turned and walked away from him, with Louis at her side. She would not look back and only look forward.

“As there should be no travel this cold, crisp Easter Sunday morning, pray thee to stay another night here,” the farmer urged her. The morning frost receded around his booted feet, planted firmly on the rough, tall grass.

“What did you say?” Oona demanded. She knew exactly what he had said. “Today is Easter?” she asked in fake disbelief. Of course: Easter is the first full moon that follows the March Vernal Equinox!

“Aye,” he nodded. And with a glimmer of hope in his pleading blue eyes, he warned, “Thou shalt seest in the settlements no celebrations on this day, and only strict observances.” He came nearer.

“We must go,” she said. Oona reached out and by this time they were close enough for her to put her hand on Samuel’s shoulder.

“Then be most careful and courteous good woman,” he said. He leaned toward Oona and they kissed again. “Go now into the deep woods and travel yonder to Abington,” he pointed.

As they embraced, she felt the trail of salty tears on his face. The truth was that her spirit had been swiftly assaulted by unforeseen complications, and in spite of her most careful planning. Nowhere had Easter Sunday factored into Oona’s thinking. Their Julian calendar pushed the vernal equinox behind the new style calendar by eleven days! How could I not have seen that?”

More than a bit disappointed with herself, she asked him mockingly, “Are we doomed this Easter as walking heathens?” Even so, had I realized it was Easter, it would not have significantly altered my plans.

“Aye. In this place and time, for heathens to do unholy acts on Easter would be severely punished. A woman would be put to death.”

“We must lay low.” Oona knew they had to leave without Samuel.

“Easter is not a popular holiday with the Puritans to the north. Their obligation to God is constant worship,” he said.

“And we need to move on, Samuel.” Oona took Louis by the hand and they resumed their walk north.

“Aye,” he helplessly agreed. Samuel was astounded by the squaw’s assertiveness,

Yes, we must lay low. Oona recalled that celebrations, even among the Pilgrims in the south, were banned. Every Sunday was strictly observed; there was no festive mood on Easter Sunday. Oona cast her eyes down and slowly shook her head in feigned disbelief. She feared she and her young cohort would be held to account if by some stroke of bad luck, some person discovered them not in deep solemnity.

“Be most careful,” Samuel called.

Oona had prepared for the moment and had long since hardened herself to their inevitable departure. Regrettably, Oona mouthed an, “I’ll call you,” gesture of thumb and pinky pointed close to her right ear. As quickly and reflexively as she had done it, perhaps hundreds of times before, Oona deeply regretted her insensitivity toward the man who stood at the edge of his farm, somewhere between old Westbridge and Abington.

As the travelers moved away, Samuel was confounded by her odd behavior and he nodded in blank agreement. “What speaketh the squaw?” he asked himself. “Call me?” The man was truly puzzled.

“Whence? From yonder hilltops?” The hapless farmer descended into his deep thoughts and resigned himself to stay on course with his hard life on his small farm, at least until Oona returned or until such time as another Godsend should visit him. And though not yet fully restored, Samuel’s relationship with God was, if even for only a short time, buoyed by that mysterious someone worthy of his rekindled love.

“We have overcome another challenge my dear boy,” said Oona. “And Samuel said we are less than ten miles to Abington.” As Oona and Louis walked to the northeast, as instructed, Oona felt relieved and liberated, and replenished, with ample enthusiasm to resume their journey in earnest.

“Come let us have some fun now, Louis.”

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