Merry stood in the tall Indian grass, just able to see over the
feathery green heads. They tickled her cheek as a soft breeze stirred,
and she smiled as she pushed them away.
Until the townspeople regained their collective sanity, she and
William had to meet in secret. The same whispered accusations that
had put her life in peril had saved her from an ill-matched marriage.
She’d been promised to another in childhood who no longer wished
to pursue the betrothal amidst all the scandal. To Merry’s mind, this
was just as well. She didn’t dislike Jonathan Parrish, but she loved
From her vantage point at the top of the hill, she saw the grass
separating below, indicating William’s arrival. He moved fast in her
direction. She wondered at his urgency though she also felt it in her
own heart. He waved, arms flailing as though he were drowning. She
ran towards him, her eagerness replaced with alarm as she neared and
He shouted her name, his voice hoarse and panicked. “Run,
Merry! To the woods! Quickly! Run!”
Merry stopped and stared. Many men followed William into the
meadow. Her heart raced at the realization that they were coming for
her. She shook her head in denial, but when several men cried,
“Witch!” her denial turned to fear.
Gathering her skirts, she hurried toward the woods. Those gentle
feathered heads that had tickled her only a short time ago whipped
mercilessly at her face as she sped by. William shouted for her to run;
her pursuers shouts grew closer as well. She didn’t dare look back. A
thick copse of trees lined the horizon ahead. If only she could make it
to their shelter, perhaps she’d have a chance of escape. She pushed
onward, her breath harsh and fast. Her skirts tangled around her legs.
She stumbled, shrieked, and ran harder.
At last, she came upon the wood at the edge of the field. The
thickly threaded trees presented a challenging route, forcing her to
leap over raised roots and dodge low branches. As she made her way
deeper into the wood, silence prevailed. A lone yellow bird twittered
from a low-hanging branch. She paused, her heart racing.
Merry’s face filled with heat as she recognized John Indian’s
booming baritone. She ran blindly. Her lungs burned. Her legs tired.
She broke through the tree line into a small clearing, the ocean
beyond. Merry screamed and flailed as her momentum nearly sent
her over a cliff. She teetered on it’s edge for a moment before falling
backwards to the ground, then scrambled to her feet and ran back
As she neared the trees, Jonathan Parrish burst into the clearing.
Both halted, shocked at the sight of one another. Merry stared into
Jonathan’s widened eyes. Despite the fact that he’d never held her
heart, she’d never treated him with anything but respect and
kindness. Was it too much to hope for the same from him
Merry took a step backwards. “Jonathan.”
He shifted his eyes from her pleading gaze. Merry took another
step back. Then, a hand that had once held hers with gentleness,
clamped painfully around her shoulder. The barest hint of remorse
flitted across Jonathan’s face before he shouted, “I’ve got her!”
His words were cut short as William hurtled into the clearing,
crashing his shoulder into Jonathan’s chest and wrenching his grip
from Merry’s shoulder. Both men went down with a loud thud. The
sounds of men running through the woods grew louder.
William shouted for her to run. The woods were no longer an
option. The cliff lay before her. She looked back. Jonathan sat up,
holding his head. William rose from the ground and locked eyes with
her for what seemed an eternity. She ran.
“Merry! No!” William shouted as she raced toward the cliff.
Anger fueled her movement. She didn’t deserve this fate. None
of the accused did. Forced to decide between the noose or the ocean
was no choice at all. But she was a good swimmer, and if she could
get enough speed to make it beyond the rocks, she might have a
Tears blurred her vision, and she fought the urge to run back to
William. Then just beyond the cliff, a woman in robes of black
appeared, standing on nothing but air. A bright light infused with
what appeared to be a swirling rainbow framed her against the blue
Either she was losing her mind, or an angel had come for her.
Rather than finding comfort at the thought, her head tingled with
“Don’t stop! Hurry! Or all will be lost,” the angel commanded.
Merry glanced at the fierce bunch of men who were nearly upon
her, then looked at William’s tormented face. She turned to the
woman again. She knew of no angel who wore black, but the
The angel smiled. “You will be safe.”
Merry took one last look behind her, the imminence of capture
forcing her to make the only decision she could. Then, she leapt
over the edge into the spiraling mass of colors.