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Adalene glared as she stepped closer to me. Her body trembled as she squeezed my shoulders tighter. “Thou better bite thy tongue and beseech upon deaf ears to thy words. Only peril awaits those who speak ill of the persuasive in this town.”
I shrugged off her warning. “I care not for the judgments of anyone in Salem. Not but antipathy has risen with my bereavement for the wrongful accusations charged against an innocent woman.”
“However, you still should keep thy thoughts to thyself.” She nodded toward the mourners glancing in our direction. Their staring eyes pierced through my pain and loathing, stirring those emotions into my blood.
“I care not for whoever hears, or their foolish whispered prayers and belief in their superiority over me through hushed tones. They feared the wicked, and yet, they are wicked in their own right.”
Adalene opened her mouth to argue, but I continued before she spoke a word.
“I am plagued by the daily burden of living amongst the accusers in Salem–the men and women who judged and taunted my mother. Screaming vile words at her as the Magistrates sought their proceedings of justice. Why should I hold concern for what they think of me?”
“You should not mean such malicious words, however warranted.” Adalene’s voice hardened into a sharp tone. “No one defies the authority in this town as you do now, speaking such spite with their tongue. You might find yourself condemned as she.”
I retreated away from her. Her fingers slipped from my shoulders and she heaved a troubled breath as she clutched her throat.
Did she think me a fool for not entertaining the same thought?
“I hold no regard for my malice, Miss McCarven.”
“And, why not?”
“Why not? Ha. Forced to oblige a life with evils and duties, I nearly call upon death myself.” My eyes traced a headstone in the distance. A simple block of stone, etched with a name of someone no longer suffering, a lucky one who I now envied. “Sickness, old age, the warrants of some unforeseen event in ones’ life, each breath inhaled and exhaled was one breath closer toward our death bed, and yet, not drawing near close enough.”
“Thy mother would perish all over again, hearing you speak of death as you are. You need to pray, Miss Hawthorne, pray for strength and courage, pray for thy mother, and for happiness to rise through thy sadness.”
“Do you not understand? Not even comforting prayer bestows me reprieve from my sorrow and anger.”
“Then those who accused her hath prevailed.”
Her words hurt more than the blade of a knife ever could. To give power to the one in the wrong was never right.
“Good day, Miss McCarven.”
I stepped around her, but she grasped my arm.
“Miss Hawthorne, wait.” She cocked her head to the side. Sadness pierced through the blue hue of her eyes as she exhaled a deep breath. “I shall leave you to thy thoughts, and I shall keep you in my prayers.”
With her final words, she lowered her gaze, and scurried away down the pathway with her face concealed behind a traveling cloak.
“I did not need prayers from another,” I whispered after her. “I did not need anything from anyone.”