Authors: Barbara Eppich Struna
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #historical, #Romance, #Mystery; Thriller & Supsence
Seattle WA 2013
COPYRIGHT 2013 BARBARA EPPICH STRUNA
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Edited by Nicola Burnell
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.
PRINT ISBN 978-1-62015-167-9
EPUB ISBN 978-1-62015-263-8
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"Artfully weaving together historical and contemporary narratives,
The Old Cape House
conjures up the magic and mystery of Cape Cod legends, past and present. A delightful read for lovers of history and storytelling."
—James Lang, Author of
Learning Sickness: A Year with Crohn's Diseas
e (Capital Books, 2004) and
Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty
(Harvard University Press, 2013).
“Struna's novel is a beautifully written story that grabs the reader from the beginning and doesn't let go.”
—Saralee Perel, Award Winning Columnist and Author of
Cracked Nuts & Sentimental Journeys: Stories From a Life Out of Balance.
I dedicate this book
to all women of the past
who sought freedom to be themselves
and dance under the moon.
EASTHAM – CAPE COD
THE DAMP WALLS OF EASTHAM’S JAIL
felt cold to the touch. Maria Hallett was grateful that her dear friend Abigail had insisted she dress in layers. The extra clothes were warm to her back during the night as she lay on a small, narrow bench against the wall. The rough, uneven cobbles were slippery underfoot as Maria pushed her
crude bed toward the opposite wall and under a high slender
window. If she climbed atop the bench, grabbed the iron bars, pulled herself up on her toes, she could catch sight of the sky. The crisp air chilled her body more than she could stand but the sight of the soaring gulls
and billowy clouds gave her a glimpse of freedom and hope for
Two days had passed with no comforting word from anyone. The third morning’s sunrise brought with it the arrival of Abigail. Relieved to see a familiar face, Maria reached out through the tall iron bars of the door and pleaded with her, “What’s going to happen to me?”
“Be calm, my dear. I’ll tell you what I know.” Abigail held the young girl’s trembling hands. “Your trial is tomorrow. The weather is too treacherous for the magistrate of courts to come from Plymouth. Reverend Treat and the elders of the church will preside.”
“Please don’t leave me,” Maria begged.
“I’ll remain at the proceedings until a verdict is reached.” Abigail touched Maria’s cheek. “Pray, Maria! If asked, I’ll speak in favor of you as much as I can. I must go now; they have given me only minutes with you. Pray!”
Maria stretched her fingers through the bars and into the frigid air. She begged again, “Abigail, don’t leave me!” As her friend disappeared behind the heavy wooden door that led to the outside, she screamed in desperation, “ABIGAIL!”
Maria sat on the rigid bench and fixed an empty stare at the toes of her tattered leather shoes. She leaned her body over to one side and slowly dropped down onto the thin cushion of skirts that served as mattress and pillow. Her legs curled into a fetal position and as Maria’s eyes closed, she remembered when she first met Sam.
Nine Months Earlier – April 1715
EASTHAM – CAPE COD
MARIA HALLETT FEARED THE WRATH OF HER FATHER.
Afraid to disturb his sleep, she silently dropped the latch on the
weathered door. The grasses, damp with dew from the cool night, wet the leather shoes of the fifteen-year-old girl as she walked to work. She hummed a childhood lullaby through the pine grove; the gentle song was her only comfort since her mother’s death. As she stepped forward onto the dirt path that led to Smith’s Tavern, questions about her future filtered into Maria’s head like the sunlight through the trees across the foggy cart way.
“Good morrow, Mr. Smith.”
“Good morrow to you, Maria,” the tavern owner echoed back.
Descending the cellar stairs to take count of his supplies, Smith
called over his shoulder, “There’s plenty for you to do. We’ve new faces in the village and my rooms are full. Start with those dirty tankards and platters on the sideboard.”
Maria went to work cleaning the tables. She moved quietly
the local townsfolk, and travelers all mingling about the tavern,
tending to their individual business. Maria wished she was one of them.
At the noon hour, she asked Smith, “May I stop for a short while,
The tavern owner agreed but cautioned the girl. “Remember I don’t pay for sitting.”
Outside the warm spring air smelled fresh and salty to Maria as she settled under a beautiful blossomed apple tree. She pulled her coarse linen skirting around her legs and down to the grass. Beside her was a tied canvas cloth holding her mid-day meal. She opened the thick material and flattened it across her lap. Clouds drifted above her head as she took small bites of a greasy strip of beef, then a dried apple and finally a nibble of biscuit.
In the distance, a man approached. As he came nearer, Maria noticed he was older than she was, tall in height and very pleasing. His long black hair fell loose around his broad shoulders.
Maria straightened her back and hoped he would notice her.
The stranger’s face became more animated as he walked nearer. “Good day, Miss.”
Maria lowered her eyes.
He picked a blossom from a branch above her head and offered it to her.
She slowly looked up at him.
With a bow, he said, “Your beauty brings wonder to my eyes and far surpasses this delicate blossom.”
His words sounded gentle to Maria. She blushed as she reached out for his gift.
He laughed and in one bold movement sat next to her under the tree. Leaning close to her shoulder, he said, “Don’t be afraid of me, I’m on my way to seek fortune from the sea. But finding you under this splendid tree is a happy distraction–one, which I’m eager to keep enjoying.”
Maria thought him very well mannered.
“May I introduce myself?” he asked.
Maria nodded in approval and this time did not lower her eyes.