The Stranger

1 – Lucretia Crossman (November 13, 1699)

"Who are you?"

"I'm no one. I'm just a stranger."

With those words, time traveler Richard Daniels got into what should have been the best-secured place in history – North Field, where the Enola Gay was parked. He and a historian got on, and watched, as the bottom dropped out and Little Boy destroyed Hiroshima.

When he returned to the Temporal Integrity Commission, he was damaged, but not by radiation. He was stunned by the massive destruction and more than a little depressed. His boss, Admiral Carmen Calavicci, remarked, "I can ground you if you like, but there's still plenty to do. If you, let's just say, enjoy yourself while on a mission, but you accomplish your task, and it's not a large historical change, I shan't report it."

The next trip was to 1699 Penn's Woods, and he and the historian were disguised as surveyors. William Penn's next-door neighbor spotted them after a day. She had freckles and a ready smile, her face hidden a little by a sun bonnet.

Penn then introduced them to the widow Crossman. The historian stayed on target and got his observations. Daniels got something else entirely. The young redheaded mother was merry, sweet, kind, and willing. "Lucretia?" Daniels asked one day, as they lay in bed together.

"Yes?"

"I really appreciate this." They kissed. "But why?"

"I will never see thee again, yes? We shall go our separate ways. Thou will survey elsewhere, I am certain. There is much on this great continent. I shall remain behind and care for my son, and may wed Squire Allgood. Prithee, tell me, who art thou, Daniels?"

"I'm no one. I'm just a stranger."