The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison. A small flock of sheep interrupted their grazing to raise their heads and mutter their surprise in his direction.
The sun spread rose-colored waves across the evening sky as it lowered itself behind the trees. A pale half moon was already visible, just poking over the shingled roof of Benjamin Pier’s two-story house.
The day had gone by in a haze for William. Mary Halsey had brought him his midday meal, but it had gone untouched. He had intended to mend the fence around his wife Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison’s small kitchen garden but hadn’t the strength.
Time had stood still, and William Goode frozen with it.
Only when the sun had begun to sink and evening approached had William sprung to life. Now he moved quickly past squawking chickens and a lowing herd of scrawny cows, eager to be reunited with his beloved family.
Eager to hug them, to touch them. Eager to share the warm tears that would flow, the happy tears that would wash away the terror, erase all of the nightmares. Eager to bring Martha and Susannah home.
As the low, gray prison Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison building came into view, William’s heart began to pound. So much joy! So much relief! Panting loudly with excitement, he slowed his pace. Then he stopped to catch his breath.
A yapping hound ran across his path. William looked up to see a crowd in front of the prison entrance.
They’ve come to share my joy, he realized.
Their faces were hidden from him, hidden by dark hats and hoods. But he knew they were his neighbors, his friends, grateful for the reversal of the unjust verdict, grateful for the Goodes’ change of fortune.
As Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison he approached them his knees felt weak, his legs trembly. He forced himself to take a deep breath and hold it. He could hear their murmuring voices as they huddled near the prison doorway.
This is the happiest day of my life, he thought.
And then the door swung open. An officer appeared.
Another officer stepped out in front of the murmuring crowd.
Susannah came next, her head lowered as she walked through the doorway. Martha Goode followed close behind, her shadow blue against the hard gray ground.
“Susannah! Martha!” William called, pushing eagerly through the crowd of well-wishers.
They both Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison raised their eyes and searched for him.
“Here I am! Martha! Over here! Susannah!” William called happily. He stepped to the front of the group of onlookers, breathing hard, his face red, his vision already blurred by happy tears.
He watched for them to be released.
But to his surprise, their hands were tied behind their backs.
William gasped as one of the officers turned and shoved Martha from behind, pushing her hard, causing her to stumble forward.
“Martha!” William cried.
She saw him finally and called out to him, a mournful expression on her Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison face.
“Do not worry!” he called. “They are releasing you now!”
“Father!” Susannah cried shrilly, her face also twisted in anguish. “Help us, Father!”
“Do not worry—” William started. But his voice caught in his throat as he saw the officers force his wife and daughter toward the low mounds of straw.
“Father—!” Susannah pleaded.
“William! William! Help us!” Martha cried.
“Wait!” William shouted.
Someone tried to restrain him. “It is all in the hands of the Maker,” he heard someone mutter. “Let us pray for their souls.”
“No!” William screamed. He pulled away, jerked himself free, and began Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison running toward them. “Stop! Stop!”
To William’s horror, Susannah and Martha had already been marched to the straw piles and were being tied to tall wooden stakes.
“Nooooo!” William’s scream of protest raged in the evening air like the howl of a desperate animal.
His vision blurred by angry tears, he burst forward, howling his rage, a frantic wail of protest. He stopped short when he saw Benjamin Fier at the edge of the crowd, overseeing the proceedings, hands on the sides of his long black cloak, his face hidden in the shadow of his wide-brimmed hat Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison.
“Benjamin—!” William screamed, grabbing the magistrate from behind by the shoulders. “Benjamin—you must stop this now! Free them! Your brother promised me—!”
With a desperate sigh William spun him around by the shoulders … and gazed into an unexpected face.
“Giles!” William croaked, his voice a shocked whisper. “Giles Roberts!”
“William, please let go of me,” the deputy magistrate said softly.
“Giles? But … but …” William stammered breathlessly, too astonished to think clearly.
Susannah and Martha were now tightly secured to the stakes. The two officers were moving forward with lighted torches.
“Stop them, Giles!” William demanded. “Stop them Chapter 9. The next evening William Goode hurried across the commons toward the prison at once. Where is Benjamin? Where is Benjamin Fier? I must speak to him before … before …”
Giles Roberts took a step back, freeing himself from William’s grip.
“William, have you not heard?” he asked, staring into William’s tear-filled eyes. “Benjamin and his brother, Matthew, fled the village before dawn this morning.”