#Excerpt 4 - Through the Meadow
And that was it! Since returning, James had been faithful, pious and kind, and I could not help but wonder if he truly committed a crime. As my husband, he protected my interests and the children’s (although I do not think he saw them more than an hour a week). His days inside were spent laughing in his rooms and helping me with the papers he could touch.
he nagging did not go away. I had to ask James! I found my chance. We were in bed together, with only Pelkey barking in the other room. James laid beside me, tired. As he panted from behind and promised me another son, I asked him if he did it.
James vowed to me that he did not wrong. “I was drugged,” he claimed as he finished. “The woman charmed me.”
“You were drinking, I was told,” I replied carefully. “How could you know she was giving you anything?”
James shuddered. He moaned. He kept shaking behind me. On the other side of the door, Pelkey barked louder. His little claws scratched.
James slapped me on the hip and pulled out. Blood and seed dribbled. Dizzy, I collapsed on the bed. I looked up at my husband and hoped that he gave me the right answer.
Do you want the truth, or do you want him to lie and say he was good?
I did not know.
“Of course, I was drinking,” James argued softly. “But it was not like that, Miranda! There is a point where I knew where I was and what I was doing. I was thrown off of my horse. I landed in the woods before her home. She was above me. Someone was holding me down.”
He told a story about being bound by powers that were not of this world. A cup of bitter liquid was forced down his throat. He blacked out and remembered being tortured by powers God swore no human should have. There, the woman and many others danced around him and chanted the words of Satan.
James swore that this woman was a true witch!
“She could not touch the Word of God,” he finished. “I tried praying, but she stopped me by choking me.”
It was unreal. James’s side of things sounded so silly! Witches did not exist. I almost giggled. It pointed out to me that James was guilty. Then, horror washed over me. It means that I was married to a rapist!
What will I do?
After that night, I told myself: I did not want to be a wife and mother that runs away from her duty. I had two handsome, healthy sons, against all of the odds, and both of them will be the heirs to two towns. It is the ultimate dreams of every woman to have such a luxury, I reasoned to myself. I could not ruin my marriage.
What other choice did I have?
When the cooling season started, Poppa Henry walked around Jennie House, disappointed. Then, he left and remained in Brenton for some weeks. He claimed that there was business he had to tend to, but I knew better. He had to get away from James. Brenton and the Earls need answers and Poppa Henry had to take care of it.
They were disappointed in Poppa Henry’s answers. His speeches and letters about “justice running its wheels” was not very well received. On his way back to Shaeriden, people threatened him. He was ambushed many times. At the Shaeriden border, some of the Army challenged him. Poppa Henry could report it all he wanted, but it was not going to do any good. No matter what was said or done, nobody believed that James was innocent.
It all changed for us too. In the last days mourning for Poppa, our letters of condolences turned into threats and dirty pictures. I ignored them until some of them showed James being lynched. The next ones were of me burning in a pyre next to him. I hid in my rooms all day, but I knew that it would not solve anything. Poppa Henry suggested using the means we had. I had to tell the Elmwood.