“Nice work, boys! That was a close one–too close! The little tramp! Ugh, she’s better than I thought. Well, at this rate, he’ll be kissing her by sunset for sure. Well, it’s time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles! Triton’s daughter will be mine, and then I’ll make him writhe: I’ll see him wriggle like a worm on a hook!”
She knew him for what he was the moment she saw him, ambling along the dusty, rutted road that led up from Town. It didn’t matter that he’d clad himself in the proper attire of the settlement, nary a stitch out of place – the rich tan of his skin gave him away in an instant. No proper gentleman of Salem would reveal himself to the sun with enough regularity to attain such a rich, caramel coloring to his skin. There was also his manner of walking, as though he expected the dirt to shift below his feet with each step he took.
What he was doing in Salem village, so far from Town and the harbor, was anyone’s guess.
Emma kept her head down as she hurried back to her cottage, dust kicking up over her boots and skirts. Dangerous times were afoot, and for a woman like her, widowed but still young and pretty, being seen alone was an invitation for trouble. The gaol already held a half-dozen or more women who would swing before the month was out, and Emma was not keen on joining them.
Especially since if anyone was a witch, it was her.
Not the sort of witch being whispered about with fearful glances at the neighbours – Emma could no sooner induce a fit in the herbs drying from her rafters than those poor young girls that the whole mess had started with. And while they were certainly afflicted with something, she sincerely doubted they had been cursed.
After all, she’d never met another of her kind, and if there were such a creature in Salem, she would know. And if Emma herself were powerful enough to do such a thing, well, she’d be more interested in bringing mothers through childbirth alive and whole than causing a bunch of silly teenagers to foam at the mouth.
It was a relief to reach her cottage and close the door behind herself, the hot summer sun left outside. She set down her basket, now empty after delivering the various remedies and medicines she supplied to the village. Not everyone could afford to be attended by the doctor in Town – Emma couldn’t – so they came to her instead.