A fascinating blend of little known history and compelling fiction.
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The Writings and Resources of Ann Bell
Katy Crossing Press
Katy Crossing Press
Convicted by the Puritans in 1660 for being a Quaker, Mary Dyer courageously faced the gallows on the Boston Commons.
Often misunderstood by her husband and six children, she turned her back on those who loved her for the higher principle of protesting the anti-Quaker Laws. What must it have been like to stand beneath the gallows and watch a loved one make the ultimate sacrifice for something you do not fully understand? Mary Dyer's sacrifice helped pave the way for our first amendment rights of the freedom of religion and speech and pointed out the need for the separation of church and state.
Chapter One - Disillusionment
Boston in Lincolnshire, England, 1633
Martha Clarke lifted her skirts from the mud and trudged toward the city market. The unfamiliar streets confused her, but she did her best to cope with her new environment. One advantage of living here is that I will never get lost. The church spire can be seen for miles throughout the countryside; I can always get my sense of direction by locating the spire. Randall claims the church has control over whoever lives within the view of it, but I do not understand how that can be.
Suddenly, the pounding of horses’ hoofs and the creaking of wheels behind her interrupted her thoughts. She glanced over her shoulder and much to her surprise a passing horse and carriage were heading straight toward her with little regard for her presence. She jumped aside while mud splattered her skirt and sleeves. Are people going to be as rude here as in London? At least in London I had my family and friends. I do not know a soul here. Randall has no idea how lonely this move has been for me.
The number of women and children on the street increased, and the stench of rotting meat indicated the marketplace was nearby. Trying to avoid the jostling of the crowd, Martha went from booth to booth examining the vegetables and inquiring about the prices. I try to cook the best meals possible for Randall, but with limited money, market day is extremely difficult. With any luck, I will find a good, inexpensive chicken and cauliflower for supper tonight that will please him. He is working too hard trying to set up his woodworking shop, but I am afraid he is also getting discouraged. Good food always seems to lift his spirits.
Still having mud on her skirt from the last horse and wagon, she heard the thundering of hooves and creaking wheels approaching her once again. Martha whirled toward the sound. Horror gripped her. Her muscles tightened and a gasp escaped her lips. A curly-haired child had followed a calico cat into the street and had fallen facedown into a puddle in front of a team of draft horses and wagon that had rounded a corner a few feet away.
Martha threw her wicker-shopping basket onto the ground and raced toward the little girl. She grabbed the child’s arm and jerked her aside only seconds before the horses raced by them, casting mud onto their faces and clothing. Picking up the child, Martha hugged her tightly against her chest and patted her on the back to comfort her while the little girl continued to scream with terror. Mud from the sobbing child’s clothing smeared Martha’s dress and apron.
“The Lord be praised,” a woman behind her shouted. “You saved my child.”
Martha turned as a plain woman in a grey dress and bonnet rushed toward her carrying an infant. The woman’s white apron could not hide her expanding waistline.
With her free hand, the mother stroked her older child’s hair and wiped the tears from her eyes while she cradled the infant in her other arm. The little girl reached for her mother, but pulled back and cried louder when she realized her mother could not take her.
“Please, let me hold your baby.” Martha reached for the infant. “I think your daughter needs assurance from her mother and not a stranger.”
Carefully, the two women exchanged children. The frightened toddler clung to her mother and sobbed while her mother rubbed her back and stroked her hair. Gradually, the child relaxed and the sobs became further and further apart until they stopped completely. Martha cradled the infant in one arm while she stooped to retrieve her wicker basket.
“How can I ever thank you for saving my child’s life?” the mother asked. “Let me at least buy you a chicken for supper.”