"God preserves his with his angels."
~ Spoken by Joseph Parsons while defending his wife,
Mary Parsons, who was accused of witchcraft.

For Thou Art with Me

By Jenni

Adam, Lady JenniAnn, Bunny, and Lady Beth sat three rows back in the Roseate Theatre in Dyeland City.  They stared intently at the figures on the stage, JenniAnn madly scribbling notes as the angel of death spoke.  Occasionally she whispered something to her assistant director, Bunny.

“I’d adjust the lighting, Nadia/Abigail looks washed out as it is,” Adam suggested.

“I agree,” Lady Beth nodded as she jotted notes for the program.

JenniAnn relayed the message into a headset and the lighting instantly changed.  “And her dress.  Burgundy.  Is that little too colorful for the Puritans?  I thought it might be but then I wasn’t there so…” JenniAnn looked expectantly at Adam who tilted his head as he considered this.

“Right now it looks okay.  Not too vibrant.  I think it’s good.  Besides, the red hue hints at…” Adam grew a little red himself.

“Passion?” JenniAnn grinned and the other two smirked and looked expectantly at the angel of death.

Adam smiled back.  “Yes.  So, let’s see what it looks like all together now, you think?”

JenniAnn stood up and approached the actors.  “Okay, let’s start with Elizabeth’s arrest.  It involves several players on stage so we can see the light’s effect on them all.  Then we’ll switch to Proctor and Abigail’s scene in the meeting house to be sure Nadia’s lighting is set.  Sound good?”

“A fine idea.  And a very dramatic part,” Margherita, playing Elizabeth, agreed.  As she did Nadia left the stage and several of the male cast members appeared. 

JenniAnn retook her seat beside Adam and the two watched patiently.  Margherita’s eyes brimmed with tears and Gerald, Dyeland’s lawyer, and current “John Proctor” turned away from her, pained.  “Elizabeth” gave directions for maintaining the household as her jailers hovered near.  “John” made vows to come for “Elizabeth.”

“I will fall like an ocean on that court!  Fear nothing, Elizabeth.”

“I will fear noth…” Margherita stopped cold in delivering her line and stared out at the house.

“Margherita, are you feeling sick?” Lady Beth asked with concern.

Margherita continued to stare to the very back of the house and everyone on stage joined her.  Curious, the four members of the audience turned around and saw the angel who had just entered.  His gaze was fixed on the stage and he looked troubled.

“Andrew!” Lady JenniAnn gasped, stood, and took a few steps towards him.  “I had no idea you’d be back tonight.  Please come…”

There was a scraping noise from on stage then.  Danny, Nadia’s boyfriend, was huffing and puffing as he dragged a scaffold onto the stage.  He was apparently unaware of the real life drama unfolding in the theatre.  “Well, here it is… Does it look horrible enough?”  Danny looked up and surveyed the faces of those around him, only then realizing something was amiss.

Andrew stood stock still at the back of the theatre for a moment more, staring at the gallows, his face suddenly pale.  Then he turned his back and fled the theatre.
“Why didn’t you tell me this would upset him!?!?” Lady JenniAnn hissed at Adam.

Adam stared at where Andrew had just been, brows furrowed, then back at the apparently ill-timed play’s director.  “I had no idea.  He never said anything about it.”

“I’m going after him,” Lady Beth announced, resolute. 

“Me too.  I should apologize.  I should have made absolutely sure everyone would be okay with this play.” JenniAnn shook her head.  “I… I just didn’t think he’d be here.”

“I should go… be there too,” Bunny added, looking at JenniAnn.  She hoped to quell any over-the-top reaction her friend might launch into.

Adam grabbed his suit coat and followed them.  “I’ll go also.”

Then the entire assembly of faux-Salemites followed the four out of the theatre and began to search for their friend.

“There!” Gerald called, spotting a lone figure through the branches of a willow tree that sat in front of Andrew’s house.

“Well, I don’t think all…” Miss Miriam, who had been playing Mary Warren, took a quick head count before continuing.  “Fifteen of us should come upon him all at once.  Especially those of us looking like this!”  The woman gestured to her coif and Gerald’s breeches. 

Lady Beth nodded.  “Yes, we don’t know what exactly set him off.  Perhaps you should go change.”

“Sounds good,” Danny agreed.  “Then we’ll come right back here.  Gesture us over if you think we should be there.”

Everyone agreed with the plan and left Lady Beth, JenniAnn, Bunny, and Adam to decide what to do next. 

“So who approaches him first?  Maybe I should go apologize,” JenniAnn suggested in a hushed voice, casting a longing, sorrowful look at the tree.

The other three exchanged a glance. 

“Oh stop it!” JenniAnn laughed but quickly sobered.  “I’ll have you know I can apologize in a calm and undramatic fashion.  However…”  She nervously twisted her ring about her finger for a moment then looked at Adam.  “Maybe you should go.  You’ve known him longest and can relate best if he does want to talk.”

Adam considered this while staring at the willow tree that nearly hid his friend.  “But Andrew’s had centuries to speak of that dark period with me if he wanted.  Maybe he just doesn’t want to speak with me about it.  Lady Beth, maybe you could speak to him?”

“I’d like to but maybe we…”  She, too, had been staring at the willow and noticed movement.  Andrew poked his head out from the swaying branches.

“It’s okay.  All of you can come.  And anyone else who wants to.  I guess it’s time for this story to be told.  The more people that hear it the better and I… I’m not sure I’ll want to tell it again.”  Andrew gave a slight, sad smile and held back the branches so the others could duck in.

Everyone sat down on the soft grass.  “The others, our uh cast, will be here soon.  They wanted to change first,” JenniAnn explained.  Then she reached across and squeezed Andrew’s hand.  “I am so very sorry about this.  It was all my idea.  See, when you’d been gone so long I got… well, melancholy and bored and so I thought a play would be a good idea and so many seemed to love ‘The Crucible.’  But please know if I’d had even an inkling that you might be upset… I would have picked something else.  I would have,” she stressed.

“And I had no idea you were there in Salem.  I figured you would have told me and so I didn’t dissuade them,” Adam added.  His bluish gray eyes softened when his proximity to his fellow angel enabled him to see the sorrow Andrew was trying to mask.

“Really, none of us would ever want to upset you, Andrew,” Lady Beth picked up just as Adam stopped speaking.  Bunny nodded in ready agreement.
Andrew chuckled at their steadfastness.  “I know that.  Please don’t think I’m upset at any of you.  And Adam you’re right, I was never in Salem but… well, I’ll explain when the others come.”

Everyone nodded and then sat quietly.  The silence was eventually ended by Adam.

“Why are we here under this tree, anyway?  It makes me feel like a little kid in a fort.  Like I should have sandwiches my mom packed and a walkie-talkie.”

Andrew smirked and JenniAnn began to stand.  “I can go get you sandwiches if you want,” she offered

Adam laughed and motioned for her to sit.  “Oh no, I’m fine.  It’s just funny.”

“I guess when I ran out of the theatre, something made me want to hide but…” Andrew blushed a bit.  “I suppose part of me wanted to be found, too.  And this tree…”  His voice drifted off and he hung his head back and stared through the branches, up to the heavens.

“It’s cozy here, closed in.  Like a room.  But people can see into it,” Lady Beth finished for him.

“Yes.”  Andrew smiled appreciatively at her.  Lady Beth returned the smile then they grew quiet again.  From somewhere nearby an owl hooted.  The other four looked with concern at Andrew who seemed suddenly far away.  The three women kept gazing at him while Adam peeked out from the tree.  Several of the others were clustered together by the theatre.  He gestured for them to come over and then caught the women’s gaze as they sat on either side of his fellow angel. 

“The others are headed over,” Lady Beth informed Andrew.  “Are you sure you’re okay to tell this right now?  Perhaps you need to rest first?  You came off of a very lengthy and trying assignment.”

Andrew shook his head.  “No, it’s time.  Over three hundred years is a long time to carry this around.”

“Andrew, are you okay?” Miss Miriam asked as she and the others took their places beneath the massive willow. 

Andrew forced a smile that seemed almost painful to exhibit.  “I hope to be soon.  There’s something I want to tell you all.”

“Andrew, I’m really sorry if I scared you with those gallows.  We just… I mean, it’s in the script.  We definitely weren’t doing anything needlessly grim,” Danny apologized, worried that what ever was going on was his doing.

Andrew sensed the man’s feelings of guilt and shook his head.  “I know that, Danny.  I do.  To tell you the truth, I admire you all for wanting to bring a story like that to life.  Those days… they shouldn’t be forgotten.  Ever.  And I wasn’t scared.  It just… it brought back memories.  Not all good ones.”  Andrew’s control was weakening and his voice cracked as he spoke the last two sentences.  He cleared his throat and soldiered on.  “I was never in Salem.  I wasn’t there when the people who became famous or infamous like John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, Danforth, Hale, Hathorne, and the others lived and died.  But it wasn’t just Salem.  Things, terrible things, happened before…”

Adam bowed his head and nodded.  Everyone’s eyes were on either himself or Andrew.  Sad, curious, pitying eyes. 

“It was late September of 1651.  I’d been a caseworker for sometime.  Thinking back…  You know, I sensed something in Sam’s tone when he told me my next assignment was in Shiloh, a small town in Massachusetts.”  Andrew frowned but then brightened.  “But, on the surface, it seemed like it was going to be a really great assignment.”  Andrew laughed then.  “After all, how could it not be when it began with an unexpected, joyful reunion?”

As Andrew told his story his avid listeners found themselves pulled in by his vivid imagery and animated storytelling.  It was unlike hearing any story before.  They all felt as if they were actually there with their friend.  


Andrew looked around as his horse, Starling, brought him down the dusty, ill-kept trail that passed as a road in Shiloh.  On either side of him were fields of corn dotted with the occasional house.  His eyes lit up with pleasure as he soaked in the pastoral beauty.  Boston, where he’d been most recently, had its charms but this partly untamed land reminded him of his Home.  From a distance he could see farmers and their families laboring amongst the stalks.  As he continued the fields gave way to Shiloh’s center where the meetinghouse, mill, tavern, and other important buildings were situated.  Andrew smiled and nodded at each person he passed.  They nodded back out of politeness but nothing more.  Andrew frowned.  He was used to a less than warm welcome, however.  The people in these small settlements were in constant fear of attacks and suspicious of outsiders.  But something more was at work there.  Andrew sighed, wishing Sam had given him a little more to go on.  Starling began to hang back, wary of continuing. 

“There, there boy,” Andrew murmured.

Suddenly, a young boy of about ten came running at Andrew. 

“Might you be Dr. Godman from Boston, sir?” he asked.

Andrew realized then that that would serve as his name for this assignment. Godman.  He smiled at the appropriateness of it and then nodded to the boy.  “I am, yes.  And your name?”

“Noah, sir.”

“A good name and a great man.  Noah, could you show me to where Dr. Elias Grady is?”

“Aye, sir.  He’s at the Harding place now.  Their daughter’s doing poorly.”

Andrew dismounted his horse and led the now skittish creature after the boy.  As they walked Andrew wondered what exactly he’d happened upon.  For a doctor to be sent for meant something very serious was happening.  The village doctor was usually regarded as the end-all of medicine.  He thought back through history to all the various plagues and outbreaks.  He hoped it wasn’t one of those.  He looked around for any of the angels of death but saw none and took heart at that.

Noah stopped at the door of one of the larger homes.  He motioned for Andrew to enter then burst in himself.  Andrew could hear the boy excitedly telling of his arrival.  After tying up Starling and stroking his mane to console him, Andrew entered the building.  An aged man leaning on a cane neared him. 

“Dr. Godman, so glad you could come, sir.  It is the little girl.  She is taken with catalepsy but naught I do brings her out of it,” Dr. Grady explained, his face grave.

“I pray I can help, doctor.  Where is the child?” Andrew asked, his eyes all ready exhibiting deep compassion.

Dr. Grady led him to another room where a child lay on her bed, her expression vacant.  On either side knelt one of her parents.  “Hugh Harding and his wife, Susannah,” Grady introduced.  Andrew shook the father’s hand and nodded politely to his wife.  “And this here is their daughter, Rachel.”

“How long has your daughter been unwell?” Andrew asked.

“Tis been a week, Dr. Godman, since she took sick.  She only stares.  It is all her mother can do to get her to eat,” Hugh answered.

Andrew glanced at Susannah.  She looked very worn and worried.  He gave her a brave, sympathetic smile.  “I will do my very best to help her.  Be comforted that God watches over your child.  She is his very own, after all.”

The couple nodded and Andrew proceeded with his examination.  To his surprise the girl showed no signs of fever.  In fact, save her lack of movement, she seemed very healthy.  He could think of no reason for her present state. 

Just then there was the sound of heavy footfall in the hall. 

“Doc!  Doc!  James!  An accident at the mill, sir!  He needs ye!”  A man of about fifty ran into the room, frantic.  He glanced at Andrew but then right back at the village doctor.  “Make haste!  Please, Grady!”

Grady looked to Andrew. 

“Go to him.  I will see to things here,” Andrew encouraged. 

Dr. Grady rushed out then as best as he could with his bad leg.  The newcomer stuck around, curious.

“And you have no explanation for what brought this condition on?  No change in her diet or activity?” Andrew questioned.

Hugh shook his head.  “No, sir.  It just came upon her and the others sudden.”

“The others?”

“Aye sir, my wife’s sister’s children took sick the same and some others.”

“Yet others?”  Andrew was growing more troubled.  He glanced at the man who had come for Dr. Grady.  He stood shaking his head. 

“Four children besides my own Rachel, Dr. Godman.  My brother-in-law’s maid and his sister, a widow, also sicken.”

“And all behave the same as your Rachel?”

Susannah answered.  “They do, sir.  I cannot bear to lose my child and beloved nieces and nephew.  I cannot!”  She began to weep.  “Tis not natural… not natural.”

Andrew took in a deep breath.  Something was horribly amiss here.  “I do not know what causes your child’s illness.  I will need to think on it and see the others.”

Hugh nodded.  “We wish you to do so, but night draws near, sir.  I thank you for your attention to our child.  Could I show you to the lodging house?”

“Yes, please, Mr. Harding.”  Andrew patted Rachel’s head and said a silent prayer for the wisdom to help her.
The other man cleared his throat.  “Dr. Grady spoke to me about hosting his visitor.  I will take him with me, Hugh.”

Andrew thought he saw a hint of annoyance and anger flash across Hugh’s face but the man only nodded.

“If that is what Grady wishes, Josiah.  Dr. Godman was called here by him.”

“Aye and it is as he wishes,” Josiah responded, his face stern and humorless.  He turned to Andrew then.  “Please, sir, come with me.”

“I will speak with you tomorrow, Mr. Harding.  My prayers are with your child and her cousins and the others.”  Andrew bowed his head slightly and then followed Josiah.  The man was silent until they were outside.  Andrew was still unclear on what exactly was his purpose and wondered if this man were his assignment.  Certainly he seemed as if he needed some joy in his life.  Josiah waited patiently as Andrew untied Starling.  As Josiah did not seem to have a horse, Andrew chose to walk and lead Starling.  The man was silent until they were some distance from the Harding house.

“I am sorry, sir, if that exchange were awkward.  Hugh’s brother, George Harding, owns the lodging house.  A tavern.  He was anxious to have your business for his brother.  Elias and I thought a learned man such as yourself might prefer a quiet place.  If you would prefer the tavern I will harbor no ill-will, Dr. Godman.  Though I will fear for your health, sir, as I would not feed Goody Harding’s meals to a dog.”  Josiah smirked and his eyes crinkled beneath his gray brows.  Andrew at once saw the good humor in the man and chuckled himself.

“I will take your word for it, sir, and gladly accept your hospitality.  Please, call me Andrew.”  He held his hand out.

Josiah readily took it.  “Josiah Lewis.  If you would please call me Josiah.  And your horse?  Does he have a name?”

“This, Josiah, is Starling.  I apologize if he seems skittish.  He has been unwell today.”

“I do not blame him.  Something strange is afoot, I am sure.”  Josiah frowned but then brightened.  “My Hope will be pleased.  She adores horses.”

“Your wife?”

“No, my daughter.  She is nineteen and the Lord’s greatest blessing to me.  My wife, Mary, has gone to Heaven these past ten years.”

“I am sorry to hear of your loss.”

Josiah gave a tender smile.  “Ah but she is well there.  I comfort myself with that.”

Andrew clapped the man’s shoulder.  “Yes, she is.”  They continued on in companionable silence.

“Here we are.  And looks like Hope is preparing dinner.”  He looked up at the smoking chimney and inhaled the aroma of fish and freshly baked bread.  “I hope the preacher has returned.  She was making his favorite last I heard,” Josiah beamed with pride as he led Andrew into the cozy kitchen.  When they entered they found Hope busying herself with dinner.  A few of the young woman’s raven curls poked out from beneath her coif.   Her blue eyes sparkled as she talked animatedly with the man seated at the table.  The man’s back was to the door and at first all Andrew could tell was that he had light blonde hair.

“I have someone I would like to introduce,” Josiah announced.

Hope and the man turned to face the door.  The woman smiled shyly at Andrew and the man did his best to suppress something between a gasp and a cry of joy.  Andrew tried to cover his own surprise and happiness at seeing a fellow angel, one he counted as a dear friend even.  Hope hugged her father then looked expectantly at him.

“This is Dr. Andrew Godman of Boston.  Dr. Grady sent for him and he will be with us for however long he wishes.  Andrew, this is my daughter Hope and Reverend Eben Bridges.  He is also fairly new to our village having been here but two weeks Thursday.”

“I am very pleased to meet you both and thank you heartily for welcoming me among you,” Andrew smiled brightly and bowed his head to Hope and shook Eben’s hand.  As soon as Josiah and Hope had left the room to make sure Andrew’s room was ready, Andrew and Eben began to talk.

“Eben!  Sam didn’t tell me you would be here!”  Andrew couldn’t keep the smile off his face.  Eben was one of his closest friends amongst the angels.  They were very much alike though different enough to keep each other interested and amused.  Even physically they were strikingly similar.  Tess had once remarked that they looked very much like brothers.  Andrew’s hair was just a shade or two darker than Eben’s.  While Andrew had soft green eyes, his friend’s were a striking cornflower blue.  Right then both sets were lit with pleasant surprise.

Eben hugged his friend.  Then he pulled away and chuckled at Andrew’s wardrobe, knowing full well his own was not really to his taste either.  “No one told me you were coming either.  So a doctor, eh?  And from Boston!”

Andrew nodded.  “Maybe not as impressive as a reverend, but yes I am.  Though I think we both know where I’m really from.”  He winked but then bit his lip in thought.  “Usually when we have a profession on Earth we’re given the necessary knowledge to accompany it.  But I find myself really confused by the symptoms of the girl I’ve seen.  I’m not even sure why I’m here.  Do you know why you are, Eben?”

“Hmm…  Possibly to keep you in line?” Eben joked.

Andrew faked an indignant expression.  “I highly doubt that!”  He grinned.  “Really, though, do you know?  Sam told me so little about this case.”

“I know Josiah’s my assignment.  I’m afraid his heart is failing though he refuses to acknowledge it.  I’m just here to bring him peace in his remaining days and lessen his burden.  And unless something changes count yourself lucky to be here, my friend, you couldn’t find a better sort than Josiah and Hope and her apple pie…”

Andrew laughed.  “You’re easily pleased.  I remember when you practically wept when we had to leave Italy because you couldn’t imagine life on Earth with out your daily dose of risotto with mushrooms.  Now you’re won over by apple pie.”

“You’ve not tasted the apple pie, Andrew…” Eben sighed dreamily then his face broke into a wide smile.  “Maybe Hope is your assignment!  It would make me feel better to know she had someone to help her grieve and heal when her father’s gone.”

Andrew considered this and at once felt as if his real purpose in being there had been struck upon.  He’d felt a stirring of recognition upon first hearing the girl’s name and even more upon seeing her.

“You know, I think you’re right.  I’m sorry that Josiah will be leaving her.  I can all ready sense how much love is in this home.  But I’m glad to have you here to help them.”

“As am I to have you here.  It’s wonderful to be working together again!”

The two angels hugged then and soon Josiah and Hope returned and the four sat down to fish and warm bread and… apple pie.


Andrew paused in his story, gearing himself up for what came next.  Gathered closely round him, his listeners were shaking their heads.  Lady Beth recovered her power of speech first.

“Eben… the demon?  The one that caused all the trouble at your murder trial last May?” she asked.

“Yes, but he was once one of the kindest and warmest among us.  He was a good angel.  One of the best.  My friend.”  Andrew was nostalgic and looked up through the branches to the sky again.

“I think maybe we should take a break.  Some people haven’t even eaten.  Some people meaning myself.  And you don’t want to see me when I’ve missed dinner,” Adam tried to inject some humor into the situation. 

“You shoulda let me get you some sandwiches,” JenniAnn told him, smiling a bit though clearly shaken by all she’d just heard.

Adam grinned.  “But I wasn’t hungry *then*.  Let’s go make some now.  Anyone else care for some?”  He did a quick count as hands shot up.  Then everyone began to walk around and stretch after sitting still for so long while Adam, JenniAnn, and Lady Beth left to go get some food and drinks.

Once inside the three got to work making the sandwiches, talking as they did.

“I’m not sure what’s coming but I know it can’t be good.  Poor Andrew.  What an awful situation to be in.  You don’t suppose Eben fell during that assignment?” Lady Beth mused.

Adam struggled to remember.  “I don’t remember when he fell.  I never really knew him very well.  I was all ready an angel of death by then.”

“Can you pass me the lettuce?” JenniAnn asked and Adam handed it to her.  “Oh, hey, I’m sorry for snapping at you earlier.  I was just taken aback at seeing Andrew there and thinking we’d upset him.”

Adam shrugged.  “It’s okay.  I know how you get concerned for Andrew sometimes,” he responded with an understanding smile.  “Swiss, please?”

Lady Beth handed him the slices of cheese and looked at Lady JenniAnn whose face had clouded.

“It’s not that I don’t get concerned about you, too,” JenniAnn muttered.  “I just… I can’t think about that.”

Adam looked at her with surprise then back at Lady Beth who offered no answer but didn’t seem startled by the statement.  Adam found himself searching for some smart-aleck comment to make but came up blank.

“I’m sorry, I’m not following…” was all he said.

JenniAnn focused on shredding lettuce and didn’t look up as she spoke.  “Okay, it’s not like I really think anything is ever gonna happen to any of you angels.  Eben not withstanding you’re a solid bunch but… if…  I mean back during Andrew’s trial… you kept everyone focused.  You got us where we needed to be.  You kept people laughing.  If… if you went away… who would take care of us?  Who could we count on to make us laugh?  You’re… you’re…  Okay, I’ll level with you, Adam.  There’s a few people out there with crushes on you.  Not sure if you know that or not.  But maybe you should.   I mean, I don’t cause… ya know… Andrew…”

Adam stared at the flustered, weepy-eyed woman with bafflement but also an increasing sense of tenderness.  Despite the serious turn the conversation had taken, all three continued making sandwiches. 

“I do care, a lot.  You’re like… the dad that makes sure everyone is as happy as can be and… and… properly dressed and… and that’s why I can’t worry about you often.  Cause…” JenniAnn’s rambling was cut off by a sob.

“Because it’s too scary?” Lady Beth offered, sympathetic.  She’d actually heard this from JenniAnn before and was just glad Adam was finally going to hear it for himself.

JenniAnn nodded then, at last, looked up at Adam.  “I don’t wear strapless dresses any more because of you!”

Adam was somewhere in between a chuckle and an emotional moment.  Lady Beth saw that Danny, Miss Miriam, and some others were drawing near the castle, probably to help carry the sandwiches back.  So before JenniAnn’s declaration of  assumed-filial regard turned into an off-key rendition of “Butterfly Kisses” or, considerably more likely, “Sunrise, Sunset” she hurried up with the sandwiches and the other two caught on and followed suit. 

“Nothing’s going to happen to me, JenniAnn.  I’m here for the long-haul.  With my turkeys.” Adam tried to cheer her while the three packed up the sandwiches and went to meet the others.  “And thanks, for telling me all that.  It means a lot.”

She nodded and nothing more was said of the exchange while everyone milled about the willow tree and ate and shared in some light conversation.  But eventually everyone grew quiet and looked expectantly at Andrew.  They all knew that, for whatever reason, his past had come to play some part in their own lives and they needed to see it through.  With out considering any other alternative, they all sat beneath the willow tree. 

Andrew began again.  “I only wish the rest of that time had been as pleasant as that first evening with Josiah, Hope, and Eben.  But even by that next morning so much had changed…”


When Andrew came down the stairs he could hear that Josiah and Eben were all ready up and about.  He guessed that they were praying and hung back in the hall for a moment.  Their voices drifted to him.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

When they’d finished, Andrew entered.  He could tell at once something had happened overnight.  Something bad. 

“Andrew, I hope you slept well.  Please, sit and eat,” Josiah greeted him.

Andrew did as requested but then looked up at his host.  “Josiah, are you unwell?” he asked with concern.

Josiah nodded.  “Nay but James Jenkins, the mill owner, passed in the night.”

“I am very sorry, I know he was your dear friend, Josiah,” Andrew was sympathetic. 

“That he was and he is with the Lord now as he longed to be,” Josiah added then inhaled deeply and changed the subject.  “I do not wish to rush you but Dr. Grady has all ready been past for you.  Shortly after he left James he was called to the house of some of the afflicted.  They have taken a bad turn it seems.  Hope is all ready seeing to your Starling.”

“Do you know where he is now?”

“The Small place.  I can show you where it is after your breakfast.” 

“You should rest yourself, Josiah.  I can help Andrew around.  Perhaps even be of assistance to those who are ill,” Eben interrupted, making his determined offer.  “Stay home with Hope.  This is a time to hold family near.”

“I could do with some rest, after I tend to the crops.”

“We can take care of that when we return.  Josiah, you must rest,” Andrew urged in between bites of corn pone and jam.  “I say this as a doctor,” he added with a smile.

Josiah returned it and nodded.  “If a doctor insists then I will.”

Assured of this, Andrew and Eben went outside. 

“There you are, boy.  Fed and watered.  Sweet boy…” Hope was murmuring to Starling who nuzzled her affectionately.

“Good morning, Hope.  Thank you for caring for Starling.  He is taken with you.  Poor thing has been out of sorts since we arrived but he seems perfectly content with you,” Andrew mused, smiling pleasantly at the young woman.

“Twas my pleasure.  He is a fine beast.  Are you both headed to the Small place?”  Hope stroked Starling’s mane a few more times then stepped away for Andrew to mount the horse.

“We are.  Is it very far off?”

“One of the nearest to this one actually,” Eben answered and pointed in the direction the other homestead lay.

“I see.  Perhaps since Eben is with out a horse we had best both walk.  Would you mind watching Starling for me today, Hope?” Andrew asked her.

Hope’s eyes grew wide with happiness at the prospect.  “I would be pleased to do so, sir.”

“I thank you very much and for breakfast, as well,” Andrew tilted his head politely.

“Yes, thank you, Hope.  Andrew and I have ordered your father to rest today.  We will tend the fields upon our return.  Do not let him tell you otherwise.”  Eben peered into her eyes, his words emphatic.  She nodded and he smiled with relief. 

“Have a good day, Hope!” Andrew wished then squeezed her hand.  He pet Starling before Eben led him away and toward the Smalls’. 

“God be with you both!” Hope called after them.  Andrew turned back towards the Lewises’ home and waved to her.  He turned back again after a few paces and smiled to see Hope again speaking to Starling.  


When Andrew and Eben made it to the Smalls’ they found a whirlwind of activity.  Andrew expected to find more cases like what he and Dr. Grady had witnessed with Rachel Harding the previous day.  However, what he really found was a highly bothered Grady and pandemonium.  As soon as he arrived, Andrew was urged to examine Rachel’s cousin Hannah Small, twelve, her sister Esther, eleven, and the youngest of the Small children, nine-year-old Ephraim.  In none did he find a hint of a fever or other physical ailment.  While Eben prayed with the distraught parents, Ezekiel and Rebecca, Andrew looked in on Judith Paine.  Judith was Ezekiel’s widowed sister who lived in a smaller abode on the same plot of land with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Martha.  Mother and daughter both writhed around, hissing, and howling like wild creatures.  At one point Judith leapt to her feet and screamed “Take back your spirit!  Do not hurt me, take back your spirit!” 

Meanwhile, the Smalls’ maid Mary Thorpe stood in a corner muttering, “I will not give myself to you.  Nay, I will not, Devil.”  The nonsense was punctuated every so often by her whirling around, pointing to something unseen, and screaming.

Increasingly troubled, Andrew and Eben departed the Smalls’ homestead with Dr. Grady as soon as they could and headed back to the Hardings.  But they found no relief from the “fits” there.  Gone was Rachel’s trancelike state.  She, too, displayed the loud, thrashing convulsions. 

“I must admit, Dr. Grady, I have no idea what might have brought this on.”  Andrew shook his head as he spoke to the local doctor.  “Their parents testify they have experienced no change in routine, that they were perfectly healthy until very recently, and that they have never behaved so before.”

Dr. Grady seemed to be struggling with whether to say something.  At last he seemed to decide but did not meet Andrew’s eyes.  “There is talk in amongst the townsfolk, Andrew.  That James Jenkins’ death was no accident.  Twas the work of a witch.  Perhaps these children are witched.  Then there would be no natural explanation for their condition.”

Andrew stared aghast at the supposedly learned man.  “A… a witch?”

“Might even be a whole coven,” Grady answered haltingly.  To Andrew’s sensitive ears, he seemed to be forcing each word. 

Eben had finished praying over Rachel and, approaching Andrew, heard Grady’s last remark.  He looked in shock at his friend then back at the village doctor.  “I would not think you would want to make a diagnosis based on village gossip, sir.”

Grady’s face burned red and he glared at the preacher.  “I do not say this based on village gossip, Reverend, but the Bible attests to the existence of witches and my medical knowledge gives me no natural explanation for this child nor the others’ conditions!”

“Our knowledge is limited, doctor, and there may be other explanations beyond medical ones or witchcraft,” Andrew pressed.  It had begun to dawn on him that it seemed very odd all the afflicted were related to each other in one way or another.  Just then Hugh Harding passed through the room.  Andrew caught a glance pass between him and the doctor.  Grady’s change in demeanor began to make sense to him.  Some plot was at work and Grady had been drawn into it.

Dr. Grady stood as tall as he could and showed Andrew a proud, stern glare.  “Perhaps, I made a mistake in appealing to you for aid, Dr. Godman.  Are you a man of faith, sir?”

Andrew was taken aback at this sudden change of tone.  Only the day before the man had seemed steeped in gratitude that he’d come!  Andrew snapped out of his musings and answered in a tense voice.  “I do only the will of God, sir.”

Eben looked from his friend to the doctor and noted the resolve on their faces.  “Come now, let us not let the sad state of this child nor the others cause troubles amongst us, gentlemen.”

“Yes, well I will tend this child and the others.  Good day, Dr. Godman.  Reverend.”  With those words Elias Grady turned and entered the room Hugh Harding had only moments before.  Andrew and Eben were left alone. 

“Let’s get back to Josiah and Hope.  At least they have some sense.  And we have some work to do in the fields.  We’ll talk then,” Eben pulled Andrew, still standing in bewilderment, towards the door.  As they walked back to the Lewises’ they were keenly aware of the paranoia and whisperings of every villager they passed.  Clearly the assumption of witchcraft was widespread.


An hour later Andrew and Eben arrived back at the Lewis place.  Hope fixed them a quick snack but then, despite her protests, they insisted upon doing work in the fields as they’d promised Josiah.  They had hoped for that time to talk freely about the goings on in the village. 

“I’m worried, Eben.  I was never around it much but… I remember the witch trials in Europe.  Innocent people… murdered.  Thousands.  Maybe even millions.  It just seems like we should be doing something more than being here, sequestered with the two people in this village who least seem to need guidance.”  He rested the cart he’d been dragging and began to pull some corn from the stalks.

Eben frowned.  Despite Andrew’s attempts to hide it, Eben noted the worry in his ever-expressive green eyes.  “Troubling, yes, but it’s not as if names have been mentioned.  Maybe what we’re witnessing is just the games of very bored children and a couple repressed women.  All that energy has to come out at some point.  I’m telling you, I really think we’re here simply to bring some peace to Hope and Josiah as their days together grow fewer.”

“I pray it’s only that.  I just wish Sam could have told me more.  It’s not normal for me to see him so seldom during an assignment.  I’ve been here a full day now and not a single word.”  Andrew bit his lip and ran his fingers through his hair.

Eben shrugged then tossed some corn into the cart.  “I’m sure he’s just busy with his own cases or checking in on some of his other protégés.  He’s been with you for some time.  He knows you’re dependable and don’t need to be constantly watched over.”

“I suppose.  I’m just really glad you’re here, Eben.  Something about this…” Andrew shook his head.

“Fear not, my friend.”  Eben winked at Andrew.

Andrew returned a genuine smile.  “Thanks for the reminder.  Now let’s finish this up.  Looks as if Hope’s started dinner.”  He tilted his head to the smoke rising from the chimney.


During dinner Andrew told both Josiah and Hope of Dr. Grady’s dismissal of him.  He didn’t wish to continue staying with them under false pretenses.

“I am surprised at Elias’ unkindness.  But I hope you still feel you can stay with us, Andrew.  Just in the day you have been here you have been of great help to me.  And Hope has been so happy having Starling around.”  Josiah smiled gently at his daughter who blushed but smiled back.  “And it seems the Reverend enjoys your company.  I am sure he enjoys the conversation of a man his own age, not an old codger like me!”

Eben shook his head and grinned.  “That is nonsense and you know it, Josiah.  You’ve a mind as sharp as anyone I know.”

“Yes, Papa, do not speak so.  But he is right, sir,” she looked at Andrew, “we do very much wish you would stay on with us.  Both of you.”  She indicated Eben, as well.

Andrew beamed and took both their hands.  “Then I would like to very much.  I thank you both for your generosity and hospitality.  Especially having only just met me.”

Josiah peered at Andrew.  “‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’”

Andrew tried to mask his amazement at hearing that passage applied to him.  He wondered if Josiah had somehow come to know his identity.  Meanwhile, Eben nearly choked on his fish in surprise. 

“Reverend!” Hope cried and rushed to his chair.

Eben was turning bright red but finally regained his speech.  “Aye, just fine.  You would think at my age I would know how to eat properly.”

Once assured his guest was all right Josiah began to chuckle.  “That reminds me of a story of your mother, Hope.  The time she near killed me at the dinner table.”

Hope looked at her father with raised eye brows.  The two angels, too, looked at him curiously.  Thus assured he had a rapt audience, Josiah told in vivid and amusing detail of the time Mary Lewis had accidentally baked her thimble into corn pone during the first year of the marriage, nearly causing him to choke when he found it in his piece.  Then they all took turns sharing stories from their lives until late into the evening.


A week passed and the madness in the village grew.  The four inhabitants of the Lewis homestead stayed near the farm, hoping to wait the frenzy out.  Their only routine venture into Shiloh was for Sunday services each week.  They drew closer to each other and adopted the behavior and manner of speaking as befit a family. Nonetheless, they couldn’t avoid news from the village coming to them.  The day after Andrew’s dismissal, Eben walked into town to retrieve some medicine for Josiah from Dr. Grady.  It was then he learned that the Small children had cried out that Anna Jacobs’ specter assaulted them at night.  The forty-five year old woman who lived alone in a cottage on the outskirts of the settlement was speedily arrested.  The next day Judith Paine accused Sarah Anderson, twenty, of appearing to her and bidding her sign the Devil’s book.  By week’s end five women, one man, and, worst of all, one child sat in the village jail.

This news increased Josiah’s resolve to keep his daughter and his two guests close to home.  While he could not imagine anyone turning on his daughter nor his guests, he still feared.  Nonetheless, Eben refused to let him go alone when he insisted upon visiting his friend James’ widow.  Claiming he wished to minister to the bereaved woman, Josiah relented and the two left after breakfast one morning. 

Hope had designated the day as washing day and was in the yard wringing out and hanging the bedclothes.  Andrew had offered help but she had declined it, instead asking him to read from the Bible aloud as she worked.  At her bidding he read the Beatitudes.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you,” Andrew read.  He looked up from the text then and noticed Hope was looking preoccupied. 

“Hope, what is it that troubles you just now?” Andrew asked with concern.

Hope bit her lip and hung up another sheet to dry before answering.  “Only the news from the village.  Those poor people!  Andrew, I know them!  I never heard nor saw any hint that they had given themselves to the Devil.  Never.  And little Alice!  She is but 6 years old, Andrew!  Brought in with her mother!”  Hope’s voice rose with impassioned anger.

Andrew bowed his head.  “The accusations are false.  The ‘affliction’ imagined.  I only wish I could have prevailed upon Dr. Grady to consider this…”

“You cannot fight a feeling of dread that has been so long with them.  We have a reverend whose sermons…  they instill only fear.  We profess to believe in a loving Father but the reverend preaches only damnation and now… tis no wonder some have come to see only evil.  And Papa keeps us safe here but it hurts to do nothing as people suffer!”  Hope began to cry.  Andrew sat down the Bible and went to her.

“Hope, you have a good heart.  Your father and mother raised you well.”  Andrew sighed then.  “I suppose it is left to us to try to demonstrate God’s love with our own lives.”  He took one of her hands in his.  “Then we hope they see that and are moved.”

Hope considered this and seemed encouraged by it.  She finished hanging her laundry, this time with Andrew’s help.  Then she went inside and began to bake every treat that came to her mind.  When Josiah returned home she pleaded with him to let her go amongst the families of the accused and bring them food and comfort.  Josiah feared for his daughter but he was proud of her and relented.  That night when Hope went to bed it was with a lighter heart.  She had a mission and a purpose.


Andrew was deep in prayer as the sun rose the next morning.  He was surprised when he felt a hand on his shoulder.  He turned around and found himself facing Eben who was wearing the baggy beige pants and short-sleeved shirt he favored in Heaven. 

“Henry’s here in town.  I saw him, Andrew,” his fellow angel told him, his tone grave and low.

Andrew looked at Eben, aghast.  “Why was Henry here?”

Before Eben could answer, Sam appeared in the room.  “Things have taken a complicated turn, Andrew.”

“Sam!  I’ve wondered where you’ve been!  What’s going on?  Why have you stayed away?” Andrew questioned.

Sam grimaced.  “Because if I was seen speaking to you, you might find yourself where Anna Jacobs and Sarah Anderson now are.  They’re being put on trial, Andrew.  You were originally sent here, both of you, to provide solace to this little family.  That remains your task but it’s been complicated.”

Andrew realized then his own garb had changed to far more comfortable, lighter attire.  “What does this mean, Sam?”

“You and Eben will go, unseen, into town.  You’ll watch the proceedings.  You have to know what you’re up against.  You won’t see me again until this assignment is finished.  But remember God is with you both and with every person in Shiloh.  Both of you must remember that.  Understand?”  Sam peered at them both.  Andrew and Eben nodded.  “Go then, a note will be left for Josiah and Hope explaining your absence.”

Andrew nodded, shaken but intent on doing his best on this assignment.  Then he turned to Eben and at once they were gone.  Next thing he knew they were standing at the back of the meetinghouse.  It was packed with people.  In the first row sat the three Small children, Mary Thorpe, Judith and Martha Paine, and Rachel Harding.  To the angels’ dismay, George Harding, the tavern-keeper, his wife, Ruth, and their seventeen-year-old daughter, Leah, were also there.  They had been added to the ranks of the afflicted.  At the front sat three judges with Dr. Grady hovering near them, explaining something to them.  The Reverend Benjamin Baker sat near them also, his stern gaze traversing the crowd.  Into this hostile crowd was led Anna Jacobs. 

As soon as she set foot inside the meeting house the occupants of the first row began to cry and writhe about.  The judges shot questions at Anna Jacobs who tried her best to hear them over the din. 

“Have you consorted with the Devil, Anna Jacobs?” a judge demanded.

Anna met his gaze.  “No, sir, as I am a Christian I have never sought the Devil!”

“So you say you have never harmed any of these you see in such agony here?”

Anna shook her head.  “I have not!  What is it plagues these poor souls?”

Hannah Small let out a great yelp then.  “I see him!  I see a… a dark man!  He stands beside Goody Jacobs and whispers into her ear!  No… no…”  Hannah screamed then and brought her arms to her stomach as if she’d been struck there. 

“I see Goody Jacobs’ specter striking Hannah!  Draw it back, Goody Jacobs!” Leah Harding demanded, terror in her eyes.

“This is… it’s craziness, Andrew!  Her specter?”  Eben turned to his friend, his face wan and eyes flashing with anger.

Andrew looked from the shrieking afflicted to the proud but increasingly worried Anna Jacobs.  He didn’t know what to say to Eben.  He could barely believe his eyes.  Suddenly Andrew felt someone grip his left shoulder.  It wasn’t Eben, who stood at his right.  Andrew turned.  “Henry…”

“Andrew, Eben,” Henry tilted his head in greeting but seemed as unhappy to be there as the other two, if not more. 

“Henry, why are you here?” Andrew asked.

Eben scoffed.  “You know why he’s here.  There is murderous intent here.  I saw our friend here walking about the place earlier.  Waiting.”

Henry was taken aback by Eben’s bitter tone.  “You know I’d rather not be here, Eben.  But it’s my duty.”  Henry waved his arm in the direction of the alleged afflicted.  “God wouldn’t leave any one that these sorry souls betray to suffer and die alone.  And so neither will I.”  His voice softened then.  “But, please, pray it doesn’t come to that.  I don’t want…” 

The din at the front of the church grew louder.  Eventually Anna Jacobs was removed in hopes that her absence might give relief to the poor girls she allegedly tormented.  Andrew and Eben watched as she was hauled out.  Henry stepped away from them and followed her. 

Eben was seething.  Andrew’s own righteous anger was kept in check only by a wash of pity he felt as the next of the accused was brought in.  She was barely more than a girl.  Her face was pinched for want of food and she cowered as she was led in. 

The judges looked sternly at her.  “Sarah Anderson, a charge of witchcraft has been put against you.  What say you, are you guilty of this charge?”

The young woman shook with nerves.  “I am clear, sir.  I never practiced witchery.  I know nothing of it.”

“Why then do these poor people cry out against you?”

“I… I do not know, sir.  Perhaps they are just very ill and have no sense.”

“Have no sense…  have no sense…” Mary Thorpe began to mimic Sarah.  Soon the others joined in.  When Sarah brought her arms about herself to ward off the cold, the afflicted followed.

“Woman, why do these people do as you do?”

Sarah looked at her accusers, bewildered.  “I swear I do not know!”

“I swear I do not know!” came the echo.

“Sarah Anderson, stop this at once!” the reverend ordered.

“I cannot!  I have no control of it.  Tis not me, sir!” she cried.  Terrified, she crumpled to the ground and began weeping.  This threw the Harding-Paine-Small contingent into more severe convulsions and yelping.

“He tells her to torment us!  He is with her now!  I see the Devil beside her now!” Judith Paine shouted, scratching at the air. 

“Just as he was with her last night when she came and scratched upon my arm!” Mary Thorpe bellowed and pushed up her sleeves to indicate scratch marks.
Eben was practically shaking.  “This… it’s an abomination.  Look at that poor girl!  She looks half-starved.  They’ve clearly paid her no attention until now.  Not enough to help her and now this!  I can’t just stand here, Andrew.  I can’t!”

“Eben!” Andrew reached for his friend who was headed to the front of the meetinghouse.  But Eben shrugged him off and continued.  He knelt beside Sarah and put his arm around her.  “Take heart, Sarah.  Do not give in.  God is on your side.  He knows you speak the truth and He will be with you.  You are His dear child and He will not… He will never abandon you.”

Sarah seemed to sense Eben’s words, even if she could not see him.  “I am clear!  I am clear!” she cried and stood up.  She looked the judges directly in the eye.  “I am with God and so I am clear!”

There was a great scream from George Harding then.  Everyone turned to see him staring, aghast, at his wife who remained huddled on the floor.  “Look here!  She hath stabbed my wife!  My wife is bleeding!”

Ruth Harding stood then and indicated a slash in the fabric at her shoulder.  Beneath it was a thin line of blood.  “Your specter hath done this!” she pointed to Sarah and then swooned into her husband’s arms.

The judges were visibly moved by this demonstration.  “Sarah Anderson, you have one last chance to declare your guilt and seek repentance or you will hang!”

Sarah began to shake again.

“Have courage, Sarah.  Disregard their accusations and focus on God’s love, dear,” Eben bid her.  His voice was at its most soothing and he willed strength and love to her.  Andrew looked on, proud of his friend’s kindness.

“The Devil speaks to her now!  He is at her side!  His arm is about her!  She is his!” Hannah Small cried out.

Eben went cold and dropped his arm from around Sarah.  Had the girl seen him?  How?  He looked for Andrew’s face and saw the same shock and horror he felt there.

Sarah was weeping profusely.

“Answer!  Now!” one of the judges bellowed.

The woman again fell to the ground.  She had seen a hanging once.  She could not bear the thought…  She moved to her knees.  “Aye, I am a witch.  God forgive me!  God forgive me!  God help me!”

The crowd cheered.  They had their proof now.  And, they thought, a soul ripped back from Satan’s grasp.  Further, Sarah began to name other witches as the judges demanded them.  The courted adjourned then and everyone exited the meetinghouse.  Save two.

Andrew made his way to Eben who knelt near where Sarah just had.  He was a picture of defeat and anguish as he cried.  “What have I done?”

Andrew sat beside him.  “You were trying to help her, the Father knows that.”

“That girl saw me!  She must have!  Saw me as proof!  She may have played along to suit her parents as you surmised but now…”

“You don’t know that, Eben.  She cried similar before.  This isn’t your fault,” Andrew consoled.  “It’s not!” he added, trying to convince his friend.

Eben gave no sign whether he agreed or not.  “I’ve had enough of this.  I don’t want to see any more.”

Andrew nodded and bowed his head in prayer.  Then the two were back outside the Lewis place.

Hope saw them first from the window and came running to them.  “Praise God!  Papa and I were so worried.  Goody Jenkins was by and said two men had been arrested.  We prayed it was not you!”  She hugged them both then noticed Eben’s long face and reddened eyes.  “Dear Eben, what has happened?”

“Sarah Anderson hath confessed.  It… it will make it more difficult for the others.  Anna Jacobs… she would not.  I fear…  I fear she will hang,” Eben related tearfully then walked a few paces off and into the field.

Hope looked to Andrew for confirmation.  He nodded gravely. 

“He is unwell,” she spoke quietly to Andrew. 

“Aye, he is very shaken by this.”  Andrew wiped his hand across his eyes, not wanting to further upset the girl with the tears that were forming there.

Hope nodded.  “I will start an apple pie.  I know he favors it.”

Andrew gave an appreciative half-smile.  “He does.  I will go speak to him.”

Andrew walked into the field where he found Eben staring up at the sky, tears pouring down his face.  Andrew tried again to talk his friend out of his unwarranted guilt.  He counseled him as they began to work in the fields until Hope called them in to join her and Josiah.


Andrew again paused in his story.  His throat had gone dry in the telling and Lady Beth and Adam went off to fetch ginger ale, bottles of water, and assorted other drinks.  When they returned Andrew did not seem anxious to return to his memories.  However, he readily answered questions from his friends.

Miss Miriam, who had been portraying one of Salem’s accusers in the play, was very moved by Andrew’s recollections.   She considered what light his experience might shed on Mary Warren’s character.  “Andrew, why did those people act as they did?  Why did they accuse innocent people?”

Andrew sipped his ginger ale then slunk back against the willow’s trunk again.  “I suppose the reasons weren’t the same every where.  In every town.  But in this case it seemed to be so coldly calculated.  That became more obvious to me as time passed.  At first the ‘afflicted’ accused those who had little power in the society.  Anna and Sarah were single women.  Anna was, for that time, of advanced age and Sarah was ill.  They had no one to defend them.  The accusers used them to gain the support of the village.  Once assured they had that… they set about fulfilling their plan.  They accused land-owners and their wives and children.  What no one seemed to realize was that the accused lived on plots bordering the Harding and Small residences.”

“It was all about land.  I had heard that,” Margherita interjected.

“Mostly, I think.  There were other motives, too, I’m sure of that.  And to this day, I don’t blame those younger children.  They were pawns and victims in this, too.  Children were taught unflinching obedience to their parents.  So when Hugh or Ezekiel or Rebecca told them to cry out someone’s name… they did.  And most of them would struggle with guilt for a long time.”  Andrew shook his head.

“Poor Eben…” Lady JenniAnn murmured.  She couldn’t quite believe she found herself saying it.  A little over a year ago she’d wished to wring his neck when he’d tried to have Andrew jailed for murder.  “Why did Hannah see him?  Did she?”

Andrew shrugged.  “I was never sure.  I think she might have based on something that happened some weeks later.  I’ll get to that.” 

“Andrew, are you okay to continue?  We could pick this up tomorrow or some other time.  I know how draining it sometimes is to remember past assignments.”  Adam looked with concern at his friend.

“Yes, of course.  There’s no reason it all has to be told tonight,” Lady Beth seconded.

Andrew shook his head and smiled at their concern.  “I’m okay.  But I can delay the rest until another time if the rest of you want me to.  It can’t be easy to hear.”  He surveyed the faces of everyone else, looking for signs of distress or exhaustion.

“I think everyone’s fine, Andrew.  If you are,” Nadia spoke gently, moved like the others that Andrew thought of their comfort when it was him who was dredging up unpleasant memories.

“I am, thanks.  Well, a couple weeks passed.  Josiah got more protective so our journeys into town became even more infrequent.  Eben had grown more withdrawn and I did my best to cheer him and to be there for Hope.  She still insisted upon visiting those in need…  She was exactly what she had been named: hope.”  Andrew smiled in fond remembrance.


Andrew set down the hammer he’d been using to mend Josiah’s cow’s pen and waved to Hope who came riding towards him.  She had been off on one of her charitable visits with Starling.  Andrew had given her free use of the horse since he seldom needed him.  Also, he had to admit, Starling seemed to prefer the young woman. 

“Hello Hope, how is everyone?” Andrew asked once she drew near.

“As well as can be expected.  There are children with out mothers… wives and husbands with out spouses…”  Her eyes brimmed with tears as she related the sad state of the villagers.

“I pray this madness stops soon before…”

“Hope!  Andrew!” Josiah’s call interrupted their conversation.  Andrew and Hope moved towards the man who leaned heavily on Eben’s arm as they came in from one of the rare visits into town.

“Papa!” Hope was alarmed at her father’s state.

“Do not worry, daughter.  I am well but very saddened.  They have…” his voice broke off.

“They have hung Anna Jacobs,” Eben finished gravely and bowed his head.

The declaration was met by stunned silence.  Andrew had hoped that the situation would not come to that.  Hope, raised a happy and optimistic child, struggled to believe that such a thing could happen.  She whispered a prayer for the poor woman then helped Josiah inside.  The two angels followed them in, Andrew looking with concern at his friend whose countenance had grown more troubled.


The news of Anna Jacobs hit others hard, as well.  Shortly after Josiah and Eben had returned home, Nathan Wilkens was at their door.  Nathan was the twenty-year-old only son of a widowed mother, Constance.  He was among Hope’s charges and understandably troubled by the news as his mother currently sat in the jail, accused of witchcraft.  He was prevailed upon to stay for dinner.  During the meal it became obvious to Josiah, Andrew, and Eben that the young man was quite taken with Hope.  Watching him shyly speak to her, praise her meal as even Eben could not, and help her in every way he could manage proved a needed diversion for the three men.  Hope pretended not to notice the knowing smiles exchanged between her father and two friends. 

After Nathan left, having been assured of the support and prayers of all four inhabitants of the house, everyone set about doing the evening chores.  When Andrew came in from a final check of the fields, he noticed some movement between the branches of the willow tree that was beside the home. 

“Hope, is that you there?” he called.

“Aye, tis,” she answered. 

“Are you all right then?”

“As best as I can be given it all.  Only thinking to myself,” she answered, poking her head out from the branches.

Andrew nodded and smiled sympathetically.  “Would you like to talk about it or no?”

“I would, I think.”  Hope held some branches back for Andrew.

“This is a calming spot,” Andrew commented, looking about.

Hope smiled.  “My mother used to sit with me here and sing and tell stories from Ireland.  She was not from here.  My father met her during a journey to Boston once.”

“He told me of it.  I can tell he loves her very much.”

“He does.  I come here when I need to think because it makes me think of her.” 

Andrew could see Hope’s eyes twinkling even in the fading light as she thought of her beloved mother.  But then her eyes grew sad and he put a hand on her shoulder.

“I feel for Nathan.  He is so worried that he will lose his mother.  Oh Andrew, you could never meet a more charitable woman.  I cannot see how…”  She began to cry.

Andrew frowned.  “It is very troubling and I pray it passes before any more are killed.  For the sakes of the accused and their families.  At least Nathan has a good friend in you.  It comforts him, that much is clear.  Further, your father, Eben, and myself cannot help but think Nathan is smitten with you, Hope.”  Andrew looked kindly at the young woman, his own eyes twinkling then.

Hope managed a smile.  “Nathan is a very good man but I love Papa and would like to stay with him.  I know others think it odd to not want to marry, especially at nineteen but… I am happy here, Andrew.  I do… care for Nathan but see no need to hasten anything.”

“I admire and understand that, Hope.  I do,” Andrew beamed at her.  She returned his smile and then they both went back into the house.


As the weeks wore on Nathan became a fixture at the Lewis homestead.  It was one afternoon on his way there that he was spotted by Leah Harding.  She was out walking with her younger cousins.  The teenager watched him head towards the Lewis place and bristled.  Her parents had tried to orchestrate a marriage between their daughter and the Wilkens heir.  The Wilkens’ land bordered the Smalls’ and would have added several acres to the Harding-Small compound.  However, Nathan had little interest in the vain girl nor her proud parents and the engagement never took place.  George Harding’s pride had been stung and that was why Constance Wilkens now stood accused of witchcraft.

“Where is Nathan going, Leah?” Martha Paine asked.

“Looks like he is going to the Lewises’,” Hannah Small piped in.

Martha smirked.  “I hear Hope Lewis has taken to comforting the families of the accused.  No doubt Nathan among them.”

Leah’s face turned red at the insinuation.  “I feel weak, cousins.  Let us make haste back to the meetinghouse.”  The girls quickly made their ways back to the village and there began their performances again.


Later that evening there was a pounding at the Lewises’ door.  Josiah had not been feeling well that day and so everyone had retired to their rooms early.  Nonetheless, Josiah got up and went to answer.  He prayed as he made his way there, hoping it was not young Nathan with sad news of his mother.  By the time he was there Hope, Andrew, and Eben were also up and stood behind him in a cluster.

Josiah opened the door and gasped.  At the door stood the sheriff, an official of the court, and a couple men from the village.  The sheriff was looking particularly haggard and as if he wished to be any where but there.

“Josiah, a charge has been called against Hope.  She must appear before the court.  We have come to arrest her,” he told, not meeting the man’s eyes.  The two men behind him drew closer.

“That is nonsense!  You will not enter my home and take my child!  You go and tell the court that!” Josiah yelled.  Behind him Andrew and Eben had stepped in front of Hope, blocking her. 

“Sirs!  One woman has all ready died and many suffer and all for what?  Based on the evidence of some children and their parents?  Evidence you can neither see nor hear?” Andrew questioned, hoping to appeal to their reason.  “Do you not think it strange all the accusers are related?” he added, boldly.

“Watch yourself, doctor,” the clerk warned, his merciless glare falling on Andrew.

“Is that a threat, sir?” Andrew stood taller and stared back, unflinching.

“Ignore him, get the girl,” the official ordered. 

“You will not have her!” Eben roared.

Heedless, the two men shoved Josiah out of the way as he barred the door.  All ready unwell, the man fell limply to the ground.

“Papa!” Hope cried and moved from behind Andrew and Eben and knelt beside her father.  She kissed his forehead.  “Papa…” she murmured.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too, my child,” Josiah’s eyes filled with tears.  Eben darted at the two henchmen while Andrew stepped towards the sheriff but Hope stood and raised her hand.  She looked from Andrew to Eben, moved by their attempts to defend her.

“Show God’s love,” she told them softly.  “They will see it.”  Andrew’s eyes filled with tears as she echoed his words to her.  Hope cast the two angels and her father a brave but teary smile and let the two men lead her outside and to the waiting wagon.

Josiah sobbed and yelled.  Andrew and Eben took a place on either side of him and did their best to comfort him as they heard the sound of the jailer’s horses’ hoof beats fading.  They got him to his bed and then Andrew set off on Starling, who was in an agitated state, towards Nathan Wilken’s house.  The man wept at hearing the news and readily returned to the Lewis place with Andrew.  Once there, Nathan did his best to take the part of the woman he loved and comfort her father.

“I have all ready started an appeal to the governor for my mother, sir.  I will do the same for Hope.  Unceasingly.  Until she is free,” Nathan vowed.  “Until they all are.”

Eben stood at the window of Josiah’s room.  Andrew went to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

He began to speak softly to him.  “Eben, don’t grieve.  Not yet.  Hope has a very powerful ally in her corner.  God.  Further, she has a passionate defender in Nathan.  True love… it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all…”

Eben shook off Andrew’s hand.  “Don’t quote that to me now.  Don’t.  There is no love in that meetinghouse, Andrew.  And that is where Hope will be.”  Eben left the room then and Andrew saw him appear a few moments later on the ground outside.  He wandered into the fields.  Andrew considered going to him but Eben didn’t seem to want his company then.  Seeing that Josiah and Nathan were planning amongst themselves, Andrew walked across the hall to his room.  He sat on the bed, head in his hands, and looked up.

“Father, why did you send me here?  I thought it was for Hope but now they’ve taken her away and I’m still here!  How do I just sit here as this town destroys itself?  As they try to destroy her, Father!” Andrew cried out.  “Please, make them see… make them see the truth.  And until that is accomplished… use me.  Use me to do your will, Father.”

As he finished his fervent prayer, a great peace washed over Andrew.  The room around him faded and he found himself in a cramped, dark, cold cell.  His heart ached for the people crammed into the room.  Men, women, and, worst of all, children.  Some wept, some yelled, some sat in stunned silence.  He prayed for each of them, resting a hand on their heads as he passed.  He made his way to the back corner where he saw Hope.  She knelt in prayer.  Andrew settled beside her.

She looked at him and her eyes grew wide.

Andrew smiled softly.  “Neither say nor do anything, Hope.  The others should not see you speaking to me.”  He read the question in her eyes.  “I am an angel, Hope.  That is why I can be here unseen.  And that is why you must not speak to me.  It will raise suspicion against you.  God loves you so, Hope.  And He is greatly proud of you.  When all around you were hate and suspicion you… you showed love, Hope!  When even myself and Eben, an angel sent to aid your father, felt anger welling in us… you called us to show love.”  Tears filled Andrew’s eyes as well as Hope’s.  The angel rested his hand over hers as she bowed her head and her tears fell.  “I cannot tell what will happen.  But we all pray for you.  Nathan, also.  He is with your father now.  Dear Hope, remember God is with you through this all.  And know I will be here all this night and every night that you are here.  Tomorrow, during your hearing, I will resume my human form.  I will be there with your father, with Nathan, and with Eben.  Know that we are, all four of us, there to support you.  We love you, each in our own ways.  Believe, Hope, that no matter what happens God’s love will carry you home.”  Andrew smiled through his tears and wrapped his arms around the young woman as she grew peaceful and fell asleep.


With dawn break, Andrew parted from Hope and reappeared back in his room at Josiah’s.  He heard noise in the kitchen and went downstairs.  There he found Eben slicing some pumpkin pie Hope had baked the previous day.  He was turning back to the stairs when he saw Andrew.

“Good, you’re back.  Could you please take this to Josiah for me?” Eben requested.

Andrew nodded and held his hand out to accept the plate.  “Of course but where are you going?”

“I have business in town.”  Eben did not meet Andrew’s curious gaze.

Andrew grew concerned.  He worried for his friend who had kept silent the previous evening and now seemed to have some secret task in mind.  “I think Josiah, your assignment, would prefer we all go into town together later.  A show of support for Hope during her hearing.”

“I’ll support Hope in my own way,” Eben answered shortly.

Andrew stood up to his full height.  “Hope is my assignment and I’d like to know what you intend…”

“To give her my name!  And yours, too, if you’ll allow it!  That is the way of it, isn’t it?  Give names, you’re safe.”  Eben’s mouth twisted into a grim smile.  “Of course, we’ll be safe regardless thus she can have our names.  They can haul us through hearing after hearing, a proper trial, hang us from those gallows!  They want a supernatural experience?  We’ll give em one when our necks fail to snap as their cruel will desires!”

Andrew was horrified by Eben’s macabre suggestion.  “You, an angel of God, intend to induce a good girl like Hope to lie?  Eben that’s…”

“It’s a better suggestion then bidding her go about to the accused families!  You put your assignment at risk.  She sits in that cell because of you!  And if it takes a lie to get her back here to Josiah…”

“At what cost, Eben?!  Every name they get only encourages their pursuit!  Your plot will undoubtedly bring us into that cell but who else?  Josiah?  Nathan?  Each cry of witch only encourages more such accusations!” Andrew cried, hot tears burning his eyes. 

Something of the fire in Eben’s eyes began to die.  He grabbed Josiah’s breakfast from Andrew and with out another word tore up the staircase.  Andrew heard him greet their host.  He breathed a sigh of relief.  Eben had been stalled at least.  Andrew hoped and prayed it was a plot dreamed up in a moment of weakness and pain and that his friend would not speak of it again.  But his words rang in Andrew’s mind and tore at his heart.

“She sits in that cell because of you!”


That morning the judges heard several accusations.  Around noon they took an hour long break.  Hope’s case was the first heard afterwards.  The meetinghouse was filled with on-lookers, jurymen, court officials, the accusers, and the two men and two angels who were there to support Hope.  When she entered there were hisses and angry cries from the crowd.  Tears stung her eyes as she heard the hateful words.  But above them all she heard one gentle, soothing voice.

“Remember God loves you and we are here, Hope,” Andrew’s voice drifted to her ear.  Hope felt warm and comforted as her gaze fell on her angel, Eben, Nathan, and her father.  They all looked proudly and lovingly at her.  Heartened by this, she was able to look directly into the judges’ eyes as they began to question her.
“Hope Lewis, Leah Harding charges that she hath seen you with the Devil.  That you signed his book and now align yourself with him and practice witchcraft against the good people of Shiloh.  Do you follow the Devil?”

Hope stood tall.  “For what reason would I follow the Devil?  God has so richly blessed me with His love.  Why would I desire any master but our beloved Father, sir?”  Her face shown as she spoke and the judges seemed moved by her words. 

One of the judges shuffled in his seat, ill-at-ease then.  “So you say you have not harmed any of those here who suffer?”

Hope looked with compassion at the Hardings, Smalls, and Paines.  “I vow I have not.  I am innocent of these charges and pray only that they will soon be well.”

Leah Harding noted the judges being swayed by Hope’s words.  She nudged her cousin Hannah who sat beside her.  At once both girls began to writhe in agony.  Soon the whole section was. 

“It is so cold!  She makes it cold!” Leah cried.  Then her eyes grew wide and she stared at something no one else could see.  “No, Hope… please no Hope.  Do not have your specter kill me!  You cannot want that truly!”  Leah began to gag as if being choked.

Hannah screamed and began thrashing about.  Then suddenly the girl swooned to the floor.

Andrew and Eben watched in horror as Henry materialized beside the fallen girl. 

“What is going on?” Eben whispered frantically to Andrew.

Andrew shook his head, unable to answer.  The din grew quiet.  Leah Harding stooped beside her cousin.  She cried out and for once Andrew sensed no artifice in it. 

“She is dead!” Leah screamed and jumped away.

Andrew and Eben looked on as Henry took the girl’s hand and departed with her spirit. 

Rebecca Small began to weep and wail and clung to her child.  Dr. Grady rushed forward to examine the girl.  He felt for a pulse and heart beat.  He shook his head and then nodded to the judges. 

They turned a harsh eye on Hope then.  For her part, she just looked sadly at the small, still body and the grieving family.  It hadn’t occurred to her to think of herself then.  

Leah, red-faced and shaking, stood and pointed to Hope.  “The witch hath killed poor Hannah!  You all saw it!  You cannot deny it!” 

“No!” Josiah jumped up and yelled.  “Twas your shameful performance!  You exhausted the poor child!”

The crowd roared and spit curses at Hope.  Eben and Nathan caught Josiah before he fell back onto the bench.  Andrew focused on Hope, willing kind words to her.

“Do you still deny you are a witch?” a judge demanded.  “Do you deny you murdered that child who lays there now?”

Hope turned to face them.  “I am a Christian and would never kill nor torment nor align myself with the Devil!  I am innocent!  I know not what killed poor Hannah but it was not I!  It was not!”

The judges and jury spoke briefly as Hannah’s body was carried out and her wretched parents followed.  Their decision came rapidly and was decisive. 

“We have declared this no longer a hearing but a trial.  Hope Lewis, we find thee guilty of witchcraft and the supernatural murder of young Hannah Small.  Thou art sentenced to be hung tomorrow at dawn.”

The words hung in the air and were met with riotous cheers from the crowd.  Hope began to faint but was caught by one of the jailers and dragged out of the room.  Amidst the morbid jubilation, two angels and two men sat devastated.


As he finished telling of that harrowing day, Andrew’s facade broke at last.  Tears rolled down Andrew’s face and he made no attempt to hide his pain from his friends.  Some of them were crying also.  Those near him reached out to him, hoping to bestow some consolation.  Adam, long since grown accustomed to the emotions of the Dyelanders, pulled packets of tissues from the pockets of his jacket and passed them around. 

JenniAnn looked up at him as he handed her one.  “This is what I meant,” she whispered and attempted a smile but it faltered. 

“Thank you, Adam,” Andrew’s cracked voice came as he wiped away his tears.

Lady Beth still sat beside him, shaking her head.  “How… what was really wrong with Hannah?”

Andrew took a deep, steadying breath.  “Josiah had guessed right.  The girl had a hole in her heart.  Of course no one knew that then.  The stress of their charade… it eventually proved too much for her.  She died doing her parents’ horrible will.  And yet they cried out against Hope for it…  Poor, good Hope.”  Andrew bowed his head and his shoulders began to shake.

“Andrew… please, I think you need to rest,” Lady Beth urged him gently and put an arm around his shoulders.

Andrew sat up and shook his head.  “It must be told!  And I’m the only one left to tell it.”

There was the sound of approaching footsteps then.  The willow branches parted. 

“No, you’re not.  I was there, Andrew.  I can tell the rest if you’ll let me,” Henry offered, ducking inside.  Adam looked up at him with relief.  He knew Andrew would not let the story go unfinished but he also could see he could hardly bear to tell it.

Andrew nodded.  “Thank you, Henry.”

“You’re welcome.”  He gave Andrew a kind smile then turned to his listeners.  “I was there and heard and saw much of what I’ll tell you for myself.  The rest I have on Highest Authority.”

The group nodded, accepting this. 

“Andrew, Eben, Nathan, and Josiah had no choice but to return to the homestead.  They supported each other as best they could.  When nightfall came, Andrew returned to the cell.  He was… he was everything an angel should be then,” Henry smiled proudly at his friend and continued.


Hope sat alone at the rear of the cell.  While all the rest were cramped together in the small cell, she had an abundance of room.  After word of Hannah’s death came to them, they shunned Hope.  The few who had still spoken to her, Constance Wilkens among them, she urged not to.  Her fate was set and in speaking to her they only risked their own.  She was cold, tired, lonely, and terrified.  She rallied a bit when she saw Andrew approaching her.  He was bathed in light and wearing the breeches he had when he’d first arrived and a shirt she’d mended for him many times since his arrival.  Her worried countenance melted into a fond smile and she reached up to him.  She craved a gentle touch from someone she loved after her day of abuse and neglect.

“Andrew!” she cried happily and hugged him when he knelt beside her.

Andrew shook his head.  “Shh…”  He indicated the other prisoners, briefly making eye contact with Henry who moved amongst them.

Hope gave a bitter laugh.  “What can they do to me now, Andrew?  Kill me a while earlier than dawn?”

Andrew bowed his head.  A tear rolled down his cheek and to the dirt below.

Hope lifted his chin and peered into his eyes.  “Please, Andrew, let me speak freely with you.”

Andrew nodded and returned her gaze.  “Yes, of course, Hope.”

“Thank you,” Hope answered.  “How is my father?  And Nathan and Eben?”

Andrew took in a deep breath and took her hand in his.  “I wish you could hear them, Hope.  Right now they are pleading your case to the court.”

“It is of no use,” Hope interjected sadly.

Andrew frowned, he could not deny it.  “They need to try, for their own sakes.  Your father speaks so proudly of you.  He tells about how you help him around the house and the farm.  About your joyful and considerate spirit.  How you can always cheer him.  Eben is telling them about… about your apple pie.”  He grinned and Hope laughed quietly then she shook with a sob she held inside.

“Your words hurt because I know I will soon leave my father but they also make me feel loved.  Go on, friend, please.”

Andrew listened for a moment then continued.  “Nathan…  Nathan is telling them how he wishes to marry you.  That he’s known only sweetness and love and charity from you.”

Hope bowed her head and allowed the tears to fall then.  “Andrew, will you carry my words to them?”

“I will, Hope.  It… it would be an honor to do that for you.”

Hope closed her eyes for a moment and thought of exactly what words she wanted to send them.  “Tell Eben that, as long as Heaven allows it, I will bake him an apple pie as soon as we are both there.  Tell him I am so grateful for the care he has shown to my father.”  Andrew nodded and she continued.  “Tell Nathan… it is my prayer that he go on to live a happy life.  And that he know…  I loved him, too, and would have liked to have said yes, I would marry him.”  She began to cry harder then and leaned against the angel.  “And please, Andrew, tell my father I will always be his little girl and I am so very grateful for our life together.”

Andrew was crying openly then, too.  “I promise, Hope, I will tell them these things exactly as you have told me.”

“Please, stand by my father and Nathan and Eben tomorrow.  I see all ready another of your friends will be with me.”  Hope looked across the room at Henry who gave her a friendly smile.  Andrew looked also at his fellow angel then back at Hope and nodded.  Hope took another deep breath, steadying her voice.  “I have one more message.”

“Tell it to me and I will deliver it,” Andrew answered, unsure of who else she would want to send a message to. 

Hope hugged him once again then drew back to look into his gentle eyes.  “I just want you to know your presence has been a comfort since you arrived, Andrew.  I… I can see in your eyes that you feel as if you have failed me.  You have not, my friend, you have not.  I pray that you know that.”

Fresh tears brimmed in his eyes and Andrew held Hope to him.  “I am trying…”

“Believe it, it is true,” she murmured.

“I will believe it because you have always spoken the truth,” he responded, his voice husky with emotion. 

Hope was growing weary and snuggled into his doublet.  “I am glad then.  Andrew?”

“Yes, Hope?”

“Tell me about Heaven, please.”

And so Andrew told her about all the wonder, beauty, and most of all love that awaited her.  He poured out all that he loved best about his Home and his Father.  As Hope listened to his soothing voice and assuring words, she drifted to sleep.  Andrew kept beside her the whole night.


Hope woke to the hoot of an owl and then the ominous sound of the cell being unlocked.  She turned to Andrew who hugged her once more.

“Tis time.  Come along,” the jailer barked and yanked Hope up.  Andrew still kept beside her.

“Do not forget, you will be Home soon.  Home with your Heavenly Father and your mother.  There is so much love awaiting you, Hope!” Andrew encouraged. 

Hope was very calm.  “Thank you,” she whispered, not wanting to alarm the jailer, and looked softly at Andrew.  Then the jailer pulled her away and into a small building to await the arrival of the executioner and the others who needed to be on the scene for the hanging to proceed.

Henry appeared beside Andrew then and put an arm around his shoulders.  “I heard how you comforted Hope last night, Andrew.  God couldn’t have chosen a better angel to be with her.”  He could see the anguish on Andrew’s face and tried to comfort him in at least a small way.

“Thank you, Henry.  Could you… could you do one thing for me?”

“I’ll try.  What is it?”

“Wait here, please.”  Andrew disappeared then.  When he returned it was with Starling.  Andrew brushed at tears as he made his request of Henry.  “When you take her Home… take Starling, too.  She loves him and… and I want her to have him with her then.  And always.”  Andrew stroked the horse’s mane and whispered in his ear that he would be Hope’s now.  Starling seemed to sense the import of this moment and nuzzled Andrew then went to Henry.

Henry was very moved by this request and readily nodded in agreement.  He hugged his friend then led the horse away.

Andrew tried to calm himself and then walked towards the gallows.  Soon he was joined by the sad party of Nathan, Josiah, and Eben.  The four huddled together as the crowd grew and stood expectantly waiting beneath the dreary sky.  Josiah wept profusely and leaned on Nathan who only stared ahead, his heart broken.  An angel stood on either side of them, guarding them from the curious, disrespectful onlookers. 

Hope was led out.  Josiah cried out as if in pain when the rope was put around her neck.  The reverend called for her last words. 

Serene, Hope looked out to the crowd.  Her gaze fell on the Hardings and Paines and Smalls.  She looked at them, especially the children, with sadness and her voice did not waver as she said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  Then she looked to her father, Nathan, Eben, and Andrew.  She said nothing to them but her eyes spoke of more love than words ever could.  Then, last of all, she recited the Lord’s Prayer perfectly.

The crowd began to grow nervous.  Some began to cry.  But the end came anyway. 

Andrew bowed his head and prayed.  When he looked up he saw Hope astride Starling, with Henry also on horseback at her side, disappearing into Eternity.


Josiah aged a decade on that day.  Nathan practically carried him back to the house.  He was put to bed, delirious with grief.  Andrew, Eben, and Nathan hovered over him.  At noon Eben tried to prepare lunch.  When he was a long time in returning to Josiah’s room, Andrew went to the kitchen to check on him.  He found him with his head on the table, staring.

Andrew immediately sat beside him and rested one hand on his friend’s shaking shoulder.  “Eben, please speak to me.  You’ve hardly said anything since Hope was arrested.  It’s not good to keep it inside.”

Eben laughed darkly and sat up.  “And what about any of this is good, Andrew?” 

“Hope is safe and happy.  That’s good.”  Andrew’s own face betrayed sorrow but he clung to that fact.  Hope was in Heaven.  “Eben, you can’t forget that!”

“She should be safe and happy here, Andrew.  I can’t even make a decent porridge to feed her father!”  Eben gestured to a simmering pot.

Andrew sighed.  “I feel great sadness, too, Eben.  We all do.  Now let’s go upstairs.  There are some things I need to tell you all.  Things Hope wanted me to.”

The two angels went upstairs where Andrew revealed himself to be an angel.  He related Hope’s last messages to them.  They cried and spoke of her together.


Once the sun had set, Andrew and Nathan made their way back to the village while Eben stayed with Josiah.  Nathan followed Andrew who knew exactly where they were headed.  He had been there before, the night of Anna Jacobs’ hanging.  Her body had been flung in a ditch in the woods.  Andrew had went there to bury her and now went again with Nathan for Hope’s sake.  Nathan moaned and cried when they found her.  They gently set the body into the cart they had brought and took a path through the woods back to Josiah’s.  Eben helped Josiah to come outside.  He wept and prayed over his child then asked Andrew, Nathan, and Eben to bury her beneath the willow tree.  They did, wanting to do whatever they could to ease Josiah’s pain and honor Hope.  When they were finished they stood around the grave. 

Andrew began to pray.  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…”  The others joined in and then carefully brought Josiah back into his home.  The three prayed unceasingly for him through that night.


Shortly after dawn Andrew looked up from his prayers.  He looked at Josiah whose eyes were closed.  His breathing was labored.  Eben got up from his chair and knelt beside his assignment and took his hand.

“Hope…” the old man’s voice called.

Nathan began to cry and shook his head, hurt to think the man was calling for someone who could not answer.

“Hope!” Josiah cried again, this time his voice lighter.

“She is here,” Andrew whispered then smiled up at Hope and Henry.  Hope set a comforting hand on Nathan’s shoulder then moved to her father. 

“Papa,” she spoke softly and caressed his face.  “It is time.  Oh Papa, it is so beautiful and Mama is there and so many people eager to see you!”

“Are you ready, Mr. Lewis?” Henry asked with a bright smile.

“Aye, very ready.”  Then Josiah breathed his last.  Nathan bowed his head and wept grateful tears along with Andrew.  When they looked up, Eben was no where to be found.


Though his assignment was finished, Andrew returned to the village a week later.  It pained him to be there with Josiah and Hope now gone but he wanted to check on Nathan.  He went to his house and smiled when Constance met him at the door.  Hope’s execution had not set well with the villagers after they had witnessed her final prayers.  The tide turned against the accusers and those imprisoned were set free.  Andrew heard all this from Nathan and thanked God for it. 

After he left the Wilkens, Andrew found himself walking the path to the Lewises’.  Once there he walked through the house, recalling all the good times there.  He made his way to the room that had been his and thanked the Father for the kindness and the love of Josiah and Hope.  He exited the house and made his way to the willow tree.  He offered up a prayer of thanksgiving at Hope’s grave for the end of the madness and hoped it would not soon be repeated elsewhere.  Andrew was walking away from the tree and about to return Home when he was pushed to the ground.  Stunned, he looked up and found himself facing Eben.

The other angel looked frightful.  His clothes were ragged, his eyes rimmed in red, and his face gaunt.

Andrew got to his feet then held his hand out.  “Eben, you need to go Home.  It’s not good for you to stay here.” 

“To think I was happy when you came here!  I thought I’d have help.  I wish you’d never come!” Eben shouted and ran at Andrew.

Andrew braced himself and held the other angel back.  “Eben, I don’t know what…”

“You’re the reason she was gallivanting around to people’s homes!  You’re the reason they killed Hope!” 

Andrew shook his head.  “Eben, no…  She was discouraged.  She wanted a way to help others.  She needed to help others.  She told me that.” 

“It shouldn’t have happened!  He… He shouldn’t have let it happen!” Eben glared up at the heavens, his fists clenched.

“Oh Eben, the Father didn’t want it to but He gave humanity free will and…  and… sometimes they do evil with it.  Eben, please come Home with me.  Hope would hate to think you were doing this to yourself for her sake.”

Eben shook his head and moved away from Andrew.  He cast one final defeated look at Andrew then darted away.  Andrew started after him.  Eben’s eyes were burned into his memory.  Andrew tried to deny what he saw there.  Not even anger had flickered in those blue eyes in that last moment.  Not pain.  Nothing.  Andrew moved to run after his friend but a strong hand kept him in place.

“No Andrew, where he’s chosen to go you don’t want to follow,” Sam’s melancholy voice sounded from behind him.

Andrew turned around, his eyes rapidly filling with tears.  “You mean he’s…  No Sam…”

“Don’t blame yourself, Andrew.  Eben had chance after chance to reach out and accept your help.  The Father tried to comfort him but Eben wouldn’t listen to Him, either.  He’s made his choice, Andrew, sorry as it is,” Sam explained sympathetically.  “Don’t let his hopelessness and confusion consume you.”

Andrew nodded tearfully and looked up to the calm, clear sky.  He closed his eyes and said a prayer for his friend and then returned to Heaven with Sam.


There was silence as Henry finished speaking. 

“Thank you,” Andrew leaned over and told him quietly.

Adam recovered his speech next and shook his head.  “I can’t believe neither of you ever told me this.”

Henry shrugged.  “We all have assignments we’d rather not talk about.  But I guess it was time to make this one known.”

Adam nodded, he well understood that.

“What happened to everyone?” Bunny asked Andrew.  “I mean, if you can tell us.”

Andrew had slumped further against the tree as Henry had finished telling Hope’s story but he sat up.  “The accusers had a hard time of it after that.  They were forced out of the village once everyone realized what their intent had been.  The adults lived out the rest of the lives in bitterness and shame.  The children, thankfully, realized after some time that they had been used as pawns and made peace with themselves.  Which was good because it was what Hope and Anna wanted.  Another of Hope’s prayers came true also.  Nathan did go on to have a happy life.  He mourned her for over two years, eventually leaving the town to escape the painful memories, taking his mother with him.  He met a thoughtful young woman, Elizabeth, in the town they settled in.  They married and had several children.  The first was a girl whom they named Hope.”

“And Eben?  Why…” JenniAnn’s voice left off.

Andrew sighed.  “With Hope’s arrest he lost his faith in me as a friend,” Andrew sensed JenniAnn was about to object but he continued.  “I know it wasn’t my fault.  I promised Hope I would try not to think that and, with time, I no longer did.  But when she was killed, Eben lost his faith in humanity.  It wasn’t much time after that he lost his trust in their Creator.  In his Creator.  And in that state… he saw no other choice but to fall away.”

“I’m sorry, Andrew,” Lady Beth patted his arm. 

“Thanks.  So that’s why I acted the way I did when I saw your set.  It just… it brought a lot back.”  Andrew smiled sadly at each of them.

Miss Miriam responded with a sympathetic smile.  “We could always choose a different play.  Something light, perhaps!”

Andrew adamantly shook his head.  “No, even though the play isn’t historically accurate it still speaks to the issues the witch trials involved.  And those are important issues that everyone needs to know about.  Questions that everyone needs to ask.  And now that I’ve finally spoken of this I hope I can watch your play.  Thank you, all of you, for listening.”

JenniAnn moved to hug him.  “No, thank you for telling us.  Not only am I glad that now, in some way, I know Hope and Josiah and Nathan but… it made me appreciate more my friends and my family and my friends who are like family.”  She looked over her shoulder at Adam who smiled back.

“And it made me realize not to take the time we have for granted.  To not put things off because you never know how long you have with someone you love.”  Nadia cast a meaningful look at Danny who took her hand in his.

Lady Beth added, “It’s also made me see how wonderful it is that we have each other to talk to about things that trouble us.”  The crowd nodded in agreement and smiled at each other.

It was nearly midnight then and everyone had grown weary.  Though sorry to part, the group eventually dispersed, several people stopping to hug the angels of death for whom they now felt an even greater appreciation.  Adam, Andrew, and Henry lingered beneath the willow tree a while longer, keeping silent company as they each remembered assignments that had touched them.  But eventually they, too, said their good byes.  Adam headed Home, Henry to an assignment, and Andrew back to his Dyeland residence, Serendipity.  He took off his jacket and flung it on a chair then plopped down onto his couch.  His dog, Lulu, leapt up beside him and curled up on his chest.  Andrew smiled and pet the dog’s head then closed his eyes and thought about those happy evenings amongst Josiah, Hope, and Eben.  Suddenly Andrew began to wonder if at some point in the emotional telling of the story his wits had left him.  He could swear he could smell Hope’s apple pie.  Andrew sat up and followed the scent.  He stared in amazement at the apple pie that sat on his kitchen table.  Beside it was a note. 

“Just for you, my friend.  Of course… if you’re inclined to share… a certain equine friend and myself are waiting beneath your willow tree.  With love, Hope.”

Andrew grinned from ear to ear, grabbed the pie, coaxed Lulu off the couch, and returned back to the willow tree.  Sure enough, beneath its swaying branches stood Hope with Starling beside her.  The young woman was dressed in jeans and a sweater, a style she found she enjoyed.  She hugged Andrew and stooped to pet Lulu.  Then Hope gave her attention back to Andrew.

“Thank you for telling our story.  Yours, mine, Papa’s, Eben’s…  I wish he were here.”  She frowned but then again hugged her remaining friend.

“Maybe some day he’ll be back with us.  There’s always hope,” Andrew encouraged.

“Yes, always hope.”  Hope smiled then the two dug into the pie, sharing with both Lulu and Starling.

Andrew offered up a prayer of thanksgiving to his Father for that wondrous moment.  A moment later, he and Hope smiled at each other when they heard a dove coo then fly from the willow’s branches up to the starry sky.


~The lines from The Crucible were taken from this edition: Miller, Arthur.  The Crucible.  New York: Penguin Books, 1981.

~All Bible passages are from the King James version of the Bible at BibleGateway.com.

~Adam, Andrew, Henry, Sam, and Tess are owned by Martha Williamson, Moonwater Productions, and the various people that brought you Touched by an Angel

~The Dyelanders are owned by their various creators (Miriam, Liz, Jess, and myself). 

~Eben is my own creation as is everyone from Shiloh.

~Special thanks to Liz for proofreading this and for her much-appreciated feedback.

~I will be working on Jenni’s Comments on “For Thou Art With Me”.  I didn't have time to finish it but you can see what I have all ready written there.  I explain some of the decisions I made in writing this story and list all the stuff I watched/ read/ skimmed for research. 

~If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.  I do allude to some past events (i.e. Andrew's murder trial) that may not make sense to newer readers of JABB.  You might also want to check out the JABB Encyclopedia for clarification.

Thank you and God bless,

JABB 195

(Photo Credits: The dove photograph used on this page is from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  It is not being used to seek profit.  The willow photograph was taken by Jenni.)