The Witch Bridle

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Chapter 53

“My Algic is not the same as yours,” she started. The words softly rolled off her full red lips. She winked and smiled innocently enough and motioned to the boy beside her. She stumbled with her words and spoke of her mission with friendliness, to reunite the deaf and dumb boy to his mother. And with a mix of Algic sprinkled with even less English, Oona was able to engage the man. More difficult to pronounce the brave’s true name, here was a man Oona came to call the “Angry Indian.”

The man’s visage was anything but friendly, and he looked at her as if to say, “Bull shit!” He stood close to a full six feet tall, Oona’s preferred height for men, with rich buckskin boots about knee-high. He was quite handsome and rugged in his embroidered deerskins, through which she could quite clearly see the distinct outline of his manhood. Above that, Angry Indian wore a wampum belt and was armed with crude weaponry: a stone headed spear and bow and arrows. He sported a few feathers and reddish ochre paint on his head and face.

Oona needed to be careful with how she played her identity. She looked pleasantly at the dark skin Indian brave with his jet-black shoulder-length hair. And with all her strength and determination, Oona attempted to say she belonged to the Western Abenaki tribe, an occasional enemy of the Massachusett tribe to which the tall and muscular man most likely belonged.

Oona hoped her ruse would seem authentic enough for the suspicious brave. For Oona, she was uncharacteristically nervous as she tried to pitch her “Indian-ness” to a real Indian, and await his reaction. With the holes in her story and her likely atrocious speech, it was through their “tribes” they were distantly related Algonquin cousins, she reminded the brave who just stood there and looked at herself and at Louis, complete with his attitude. Through her innate powers of persuasion, Oona usually got what she wanted. Still she was prepared to use any means necessary to survive.

“And where exactly do you come from?” he finally asked.

Oona wanted most not to appear dishonest or otherwise unworthy of him. It was also critical not to insult the brave in any way. Oona understood the man’s words and meaning with the additional help of her paranormal skills. Oona stumbled with her words at first, and explained she was from a Western tribe, Algonquin cousins of the Massachusett, and a tribe far enough away to account for her uneven speech. Only a few words were enough to send the Indian brave – who stood like a boulder between themselves and Abington Town – into a rampage.

Angry Indian railed against the white man and, at times, looked threatening enough to Oona and the boy, who somehow remained silent and “dumb.” Oona prepared for the worst. But then his tone and his temperament changed to one of unsolicited sympathy.

“Who on earth are these people who call us Savages?” he said. “My family and my ancestors have lived on this land for a thousand hot summers and for as many cold winters. I was exiled from my own tribe because I raised my hand to the settlers. Now I am a wandering spirit of sorts, well known in the woods south of the Shawmut.”

Oona smiled softly. She understood Angry Indian perfectly while Louis looked down to the ground, likely unable to follow anything said between the two adults.

“Is Cotuhikut nearby this place kind brave?” Behind Oona’s cool words, the witch’s piercing black eyes sent the Angry Indian a clear warning.

“Cotuhikut was known once as a 'Praying Town' for 'good Indians'.” Angry Indian spit on the ground. “Its ruins are not far from this place. They – the Praying Towns – have all been disbanded. You should know that.” He looked distrustfully at her.

Oona did not deny his assertion.

“Closed by the white men,” he continued, “and abandoned many seasons ago.” Now Angry Indian’s words were void of emotion. His mind was cautiously fixed upon the strong mysterious maiden and the strange boy who stood behind her. “They made us worship their God.”

“Is there another?” she asked good-naturedly, and drew closer to the brave. Her eyes moved all over him.

“From where do you really come?”

“I told you.”

Her smile and wink are friendly enough, even inviting.

“I saw you and the boy, with your strange gait, cast glowing green dust into the air and the stream, and into the cracks and crevasses along the way.” He showed them a few of the glittering flakes in his hand. “From what strange object are these?” he asked briskly.

Oona had nothing to say.

“The work of the devil!” he exclaimed and he pointed accusingly at her and said, “You are a witch!” He went on to recount what he had witnessed at the stream.

Angry Indian was cold, at least on the outside. Oona edged slightly closer to him and stood strong in his shadow. She let her presence slowly consume him. She saw his manhood swell.

The brave stood as if paralyzed. In a much softer voice he finally said, “You have good teeth.”

“Do you know of the Dark Princess named Lucia?”

Angry Indian shuddered more than slightly, his passion deflated and he then blandly regained his strength. He took a deep breath. “The Great Foundress of the North Country, whose name is known to all, yet no one dares speak her name.”

“I dare speaketh her name!” Oona sent a stern warning with her eyes. “Please friend, continue,” she said.

“The All-Powerful One haunts the forest lands there beyond the Shawmut.” Named so by the locals, the Angry Indian waved in the direction of Boston.

“She faces a mortal’s death,” Oona said. Then the enchantress turned to Louis and gestured for the boy to take leave and not to stray. “Yes, boy,” she motioned him. “Go yonder while I speak in private with this strong, angry man.”

Louis looked away and as he did he was absorbed by the sounds of native birds on their flights to and from the bare branches and bushes through which beaming rays of sunlight broke apart the glorious monotony of the forest.

“And 300 years ago,” the young boy fawned, “it was all here just like this.” Westbridge seemed bleached away now – overtaken with what was comic book lushness painted on whatever objects he gazed upon. It was nearly too much for young Louis to calmly consider, whether the language or the people he met who died hundreds of years ago.

Oona used her natural charms and Angry Indian was soft like jelly in her hands. He would no doubt dance to her tune. And no ice bath was necessary. She plainly saw how his manhood recovered and responded over and over to her soft, inviting voice. She rid him of his anger and frustration, and in the end, Oona squeezed every last drop from Angry Indian, and then more.

Sometime later, Oona announced “We must be moving on.”

“Tell me great brave: is this forest safe for me and the young boy?”

He nodded his head and, as if he were pulled from a pleasant dream, smiled slightly and did not say a word. He stirred from his place on the soft, dry ground.

Then for a while Oona and Louis proceeded with the Indian along the forest paths and finally to the first of the relatively few pock marks of human settlement they saw that day, whether Indian or European, all sprinkled about the Indian lands. There was a small house in the middle of surrounding woods. In between the farmlands were the Indian lands. In the end Oona dismissed Angry Indian’s noteworthy efforts to stay with them for any longer, and they parted.

The travelers walked on, past rings of dead oaks that marked off spots of wetland. Rotten stumps with hallowed out cores embraced new life which sprang out of the old. Finally they reached a small road which eventually gave way to a larger street. This brought them to a main artery of the “new” settlement of Abington, by contemporary accounts still a young town. With awe and always from a safe distance, they viewed the living breathing town square and a few fine houses. There were black willow trees with their furry yellow catkins that adorned the town center, with tree lined streets on all sides. Though few were in view this Easter Sunday, Colonists spent their pastimes here, after long days of draining swamps and clearing forests. The earliest buildings seemed to be thirty years old at most.

There was a big part of Oona that wished they could enter the settlement and stay, but given the solemnness of the “holiday,” and with three more days’ journey still ahead, she was scared by the unsavory human beings they had seen so far on this most special of days, all homely and weather worn.

They continued north well into the afternoon when Oona spotted a body of fresh water which she recognized as Lake Holbrook in her own time. Hearty elms were plentiful and wildflowers galore covered the lowlands. By this time, a brilliant blue sky had peeled back the last masses of white clouds.

“I think this 300 year old air is good for us, Oona,” said Louis unexpectedly. “And we still have to go to Church,” Louis added. Years of catholic school education kept the boy’s spiritual requirements of the Church front and center at all times, past and present.

“Certainly not!” Oona shot back. “We will not be attending Church this Easter. Our mission will be laid bare to careful scrutiny in any meeting house of their Puritan Church. My boy: you are fortunate we will miss Church this week.” She looked Louis over. He looked authentic, hair and all, exactly as she would have wanted him to look. His big eyes and inquisitive nature were warm and appealing; his silence could be accepted by locals, in all its wonderful simplicity. “We will save time and perhaps even ourselves by avoiding Church this week my boy, and that would include a three hour service! We have no Sabbath-Day clothes anyway, and we would surely be suspected if found to be not strictly observant. Doing anything outside of church and home on any Sunday is practically unthinkable. And here we are walking casually across the state.”

“That’s okay. I don’t mind Oona. It’s all pretty cool anyway. I’m sure God will understand. It’s like camping without having stuff to camp with…and like meeting Samuel who was alive but he isn’t really.”

“As with your favorite TV zombies?” Oona quipped. Privately the witch was much more serious. Nevertheless, with feigned cheeriness, Oona continued to break the monotonous sounds of their journey. “We will cautiously follow the Sun by day as we must follow the stars by night, and once we are in Boston, Louis, we are half way to Salem. I estimate one more day’s walk to Boston from here, and two days to Salem after that.” There was time only to notice they were wet, ragged, and filthy by that leg of the journey. And most seriously the good witch added, “I am afraid it will be more of the same stuff getting there, dearest boy.”

The boy’s spirit buoyed them, though their increased fatigue was testimony to the difficulties which still lay ahead on their way to Boston, and ultimately Salem.

How much I miss my Blue Mountain blend.

Easter Sunday wore on to become the classic cold and gray of early springtime in New England: cloudy, rainy, and cold. Their feet grew tired and numb. The going was slow and wet when the wounded trekkers passed the fringes of the older settlement at Braintree.

Oona recalled there had been a bad winter of 1691-92 which delayed Colonial planting that spring. But here and there they noticed more than a few winter trees had given way to garden plots, with freshly turned earth to begin the new fruit-bearing cycle of life. The early grass of spring was awake from its long winter’s sleep all along the margined sides of the main road, and rich clusters of high grass were in sight all around them. And given the gray day, the manmade European-style structures which dotted the road north to Milton looked especially dreary, though their construction displayed a comic-book richness. Off to their sides spots of unmelted snow still dressed some areas.

As they walked on and on in virtual silence, the pair more closely noticed there were unkempt people with shaggy hair and dirty faces, and some even without shoes. Oona was not entirely comfortable with her surroundings; and preferred the relative isolation of the forests. They unassumingly drew water from the town well and continued on in silence and solemnity. They needed nothing but rest, really, and they still needed to move on to Milton before they would break for the night.

Oona sensed insecurity and wondered if danger followed them in the likeness of Lucia. She feared that the unguarded Gran Liv would be taken from her, and if Lucia took hold of the Book – more vulnerable now that Louis had followed her – she might follow them into the Past. Weary and bedraggled, Oona forged on. She reasoned that her senses were unlikely to detect the Evil One, given that she sensed no danger when she ignored Lucia’s black spirit. For so long it went unchallenged in her midst, in her own home.

At a time when he thought they were safe to talk aloud, Louis cheerfully confided, “This is kinda like what they have at Plimouth Plantation…only newer.”

Oona nodded. “Was Plimouth Plantation a school outing?”

“Well, it was a field trip,” Louis gently corrected.

“Oh, I see,” Oona said and flashed her broad white smile. In truth she was very low.

“It looked like they were making a movie back there,” Louis said as he pointed the way back toward the last settlement. And though he was wet and exhausted and stank with sweat, the youngster was fortified by the museum quality and the eye opening images he had seen lately.

“We must be quiet boy. Stop talking! Only whisper!”

In a quiet awestruck way, he whispered that he would whisper.

Oona was far more focused on confronting their many challenges, both behind them and still ahead, most of which had been or surely would be enormous. Oona still felt drained from time travel and the certainty that her powers had in some ways been diminished. Oona wondered whether she really would have the power and the good fortune to destroy Lucia, and return to the future of her own time. And she also considered this time, the era of the witches, and the likelihood she would eventually be identified as one.

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