Chapter Four

"Now show her the petition, Johnathan." Mary Bradbury pulled away from me. She wiped invisible tears from her eyes.

Johnathan unrolled a scroll of paper. "Ninety-three people signed this paper declaring that Mary Bradbury was a stout woman of Christ and a loyal wife of Thomas Bradbury, honestly raising eleven children."

I looked at the sheet. Names were scrawled in every corner and every size. They filled all the columns save for one line at the bottom. "Johnathan do you have a bottle of ink and a quill?" I asked.

"Susanna," he warned, "we must leave."

"No." Mary Bradbury raised a warning hand. "Let us hear what she has to do."

Johnathan handed me a quill and a half-used bottle of black ink. I dipped the quill in, then by the light the lantern threw onto the paper, I signed my own name in my messy scrawl: Susanna English. It was squat and short and ill shaped compared to the fancy flourishes of full-grown adults, but I felt good, I felt proud. I stopped the bottle and handed the quill back to Johnathan. "There," I said, rolling up the scroll. My cheeks were flecked with tears of gratitude. I had truly seen the light in the shadows.

Handing the parchment back to Johnathan, I welcomed the fierce hug Mary Bradbury bestowed me with. "Oh, child," she cried, patting my back. "You have seen…"

"No," I said, tears all the while raining down in rivulets, "you must forgive me."

Her hands gripped my arm in forgiveness and joy. "We have another one in our midst." She kissed me, a gentle, leathery kiss on my cheek. Her lips were firm, gentle, pure. "Child, ye do remember." Johnathan was helping her into the cart now. "The crow's nest, all right? When your brother takes ye to sea, don't ye forget the crow's nest." Her hand rested one more time on me. "Would ye do it for me?"

"I promise," I whispered.

"I know ye would." Mary Bradbury's eyes sparkled. "Ye will do it, but not for me. Ye will do it because…" The cart jolted off with an awakening start and her words faded into the night. I waved at their retreating backs. I waved until my arms were sour with waving.

And it was only years after that her words finally came back into mind. "Ye will do it because…" I was standing on he crow's nest then, Johnathan on deck below with our child on his shoulders. I did it; I climbed onto the crow's nest abroad the William and Susanna. And Tibuta predicted right. William came home after something tragic occurred, but that is where the prophecy ends. Happiness replaced tragedy after the witch hysteria ended.

Standing here in the crow's nest now, I recollect all Johnathan and I had gone through: tragedies and happiness both. I stand here now as a grown woman, knowing that in truth, it was the tragedies that truly made our shells crusty hard. Through this hysteria we have battled, and now, through another hysteria we will battle again. But I know this: There will always be one telltale light in the shadows.