Book Title: The Heron
Author: Jean M. Roberts
Publication Date: 15 April 2021
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Page Length: 252 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Slip
The past calls to those who dare to listen…
An invitation arrives; Abbey Coote, Professor of American Studies, has won an extended stay in an historic B&B, Pine Tree House. The timing is perfect. Abbey is recovering from an accident which left her abusive boyfriend dead and her with little memory of the event.
But her idyllic respite soon takes a terrifying turn. While exploring the house, Abbey comes face to face with Mary Foss, a woman dead for 350 years. Through a time/mind interface, Abbey experiences the horrors of Mary’s life, living at the edge of the civilized world in the 1690’s New England.
As Abbey faces her worst fears, she struggles to free them both from the past.
Abbey studied the creature as it waded in and out of the water, ignoring them. After a few minutes, she laughed. “This is crazy. I’ve convinced myself that a bird can read my mind.” She turned her head to see Jeremiah’s response. She was alone.
Gone too were the trees, the land cleared from shore to shore. A squat garrison house with its surrounding wooden fence stood in the center of the tip, the gates wide open. Smoke curled from its chimney and a dog barked at the new dawn sun. Mary walked beside the water’s edge, scouring the shoreline for shells. She stopped and stared across at her home, square and stout, like every other dwelling along the river.
Her sister, Catherine, called to her from the gate. “Mary love, come eat. You will need your strength for the trip back.” She and Miriam planned to row across that morning. They had gathered several buckets of berries that needed preserving before they spoiled.
She entered the gloomy house and found Miriam dressed and attending to Abraham. Mary carried him outside to nurse, sitting at a table set up inside the stockade. Catherine brought her a wooden trencher of food and a mug of watered cider. “Here you are.” She sat beside her and scanned the sky. “No clouds this morning. Looks to be a glorious day. Praise God.”
Mary smiled at her sibling, enjoying her companionship. “I love this time of year. Springtime is so pleasant. You must come and visit us soon. I miss you and Elizabeth so much. And once the second story is complete, we shall have ample room for all.”
Her sister opened her mouth to answer, but a shout stopped her short. She scrambled to her feet. “Who is that? Someone is making an almighty ruckus.”
As Catherine started for the gate, a girl stumbled inside, taking them by surprise. Winded, the child bent to catch her breath then raised her frightened tear-stained face to the women. Her words were faint, but they struck terror in Mary’s heart. “Indians. Indians are attacking Fox Point.”
Catherine’s panicked screams rousted her husband, who bolted outside, boots in hands. The sound of musket fire echoing down the point stopped him in his tracks. Mary’s eyes flared in alarm as her stomach churned. She wrestled with the fear that kept her frozen in place. Abraham, oh God, I must protect my son. “Get inside now.” Thomas’ voice jolted her into movement. Clutching her child, she scrambled into the fortified house.
Women and children from nearby houses streamed into the stockade, seeking protection from attack. Thomas and a neighbor shouldered the heavy wooden gates closed and barred them with a stout iron rod. Catherine counted heads to ensure all the children were safe and accounted for.
Thomas stuck his head in the darkened house. “Smoke coming from the Thompson’s place. Where is the girl?” Mary led her forward, a comforting arm draped around her shoulders. Thomas gave the frightened child a slight smile and a pat on the head. “There now, child. Nowt to be afraid of now. Sarah, is it not? Sarah Winslow?”
She nodded, her face stained with tears. “Yes, sir.”
“Can you tell me what happened this morn? What did you see? Take your time.”
Sarah sniffed and wiped her nose on her linen sleeve. “My ma sent me to the barn with a message for Pa. He was milking the cow. We ran outside when we heard shots. I could hear men yelling and war-whooping.” A shudder shot through her thin body, but she continued. “Pa told me, ‘run for your life and do not stop for nothing’. He was behind me, but he had a hurt leg and was limping bad. I stopped, but he hollered ‘run’, so I did. I ran, I left him.”
“You did right, girl. You are very brave. Tell me, Sarah, did you see the enemy? Any idea how many?”
She stared at him with luminous eyes, tears threatened. “White men and painted Indians. I do not know their number, lots.”
Thomas swore under his breath. “Damnable French, they stir up the Abenaki against us.”
“Do you think my family is safe, sir?” Sarah’s lip quivered as her courage failed, and tears streamed down her cheeks.
The girl’s pained expression broke Mary’s heart. She combed gentle fingers through her hair, loose and wild from her harrowing run. “I am sure they are, child.
With a passion for history, author Jean M. Roberts is on a mission to bring the past to life. She is the author of three novels, WEAVE A WEB OF WITCHCRAFT, BLOOD IN THE VALLEY and THE HERON. After graduating from the University of St. Thomas, Jean served in the United States Air Force, she has worked as a Nurse Administrator and is currently writing full-time. She lives in Texas with her husband.
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