Harriet entered the suite she and Daniel had been given to find him just sealing a letter. "Who are you writing?" she asked.
"An old friend in the village," he said. "He apparently heard I had returned, and sent me a note. I'm writing him back that I'm very busy getting settled in, and -"
"And that you no longer have anything to do with those 'old friends'?" she questioned.
"Harriet, I've given you my word that such things are over and done with," Daniel reminded her. "What more must I do -"
"You could stop calling his name in your sleep." Daniel's eyes grew wide. "Last night - the night before. I'm trying to understand, Daniel, I really am. I might be able to accept that you had a past if the name you kept calling was another woman's. But -"
"Forgive me, Harriet. I suppose it was the thought of returning here, where I spent so much of that time - I'll send this letter and then be done with it. Why don't you rest for awhile before dinner?"
"That sounds like an excellent idea. I wish I had brought Daisy with me. Would you mind my sending for her?"
"Not at all. I'll make the arrangements this afternoon." He had hoped not to have Harriet's maid accompany them at all. He didn't like the girl, didn't like the way she kept eyeing him whenever Harriet wasn't looking. She had even touched him one night, when she had 'accidentally' entered the room as he stood from taking a bath. She had picked up a towel and begun to dry him - He closed his eyes at the memory, wondering if Harriet would be as forgiving of his being with another woman as she implied.
He rose and took the letter downstairs to where Barnabas would be waiting.
Lucy returned from seeing Nicholas, and another reassurance that she wouldn't have to put up with Jeremiah for much longer, to find a note wedged between the door and frame. She recognized the flowery hand, and instead of going into the cottage, she walked down toward the ocean.
Breaking the seal, she read the words and smiled. So, dear Deborah wanted to meet her in the garden of Collinwood to talk. She must have realized that Lucy had been right: Ben wasn't enough. Folding the letter, she placing it in her pocket and returned to the cottage. She didn't mind going to face Jeremiah, not now.
It was nearly midnight before Lucy left the cottage, thinking that Jeremiah was sleeping. But as soon as she was gone, he rose from the bed and went to the window, watching her disappear into the darkness. Why had she put on that particular gown? It had been cut so low as to almost be indecent-even to Jeremiah's low standards. Who was she going to see? He had been on edge all day, ever since she had informed him cheerily that Daniel and his wife had arrived at Collinwood that morning.
Jeremiah had spent much of the day wondering how to arrange a meeting between Daniel and himself without anyone's knowledge. He heard a noise in his bedroom, and returned to find the double doors to the outside open, and a letter lying on his bed. He easily recognized the handwriting and tore the paper slightly as he opened it.
Daniel. It was from Daniel, and he wanted to meet with him. Jeremiah's hands shook slightly as he scanned further down the page. The old chapel on the estate - Jeremiah grinned. How appropriate. Yes. He quickly pulled on his breeches and shirt, and then drew on his boots, leaving the cottage by way of the bedroom doors. Daniel would be there already.
Deborah's eyes met Lucy's as Lucy came from the woods. "Hello, Deborah. I was pleased to get your note. I've missed you."
Deborah smiled nervously. "I wanted to know about your mother. How is she?"
"Getting better every day, thanks to my friend." She stopped only a few feet away. "She's been asking about you, wanting to know when you were coming to see her again."
"I'd like to," Deborah said honestly, "But - I -"
"You're afraid of being alone with me," Lucy finished. "Because you're afraid that you'll give in and do what you really want to do." She allowed the shawl to drop, revealing white flesh to Deborah's gaze.
"No. I'm going to marry Ben, and I won't be unfaithful to him. "
Lucy laughed. "Oh, and of course, he feels the same way. He would never look at another woman."
"He might look, but Ben's not like the type of man that you are used to, Lucy. He's special."
Lucy reached out to touch her hand. "You are so naive, Deborah. Ben's had more than his share of ladies down at the Eagle. Local girls more than willing to give old Ben a tumble simply because he's connections to the great Collins family."
"That may be," Deborah said, "but that was before. Fidelity is not a concept that you understand, is it, Lucy?"
"Why should I? When there are so many people willing to take what is offered? You should take it as well, Deborah, you wouldn't regret it." The hand moved further up Deborah's arm. Deborah didn't move. She had promised to keep Lucy here until Ben came to get her, and she would do whatever she had to in order to keep that promise. Even if it meant letting Lucy- she gasped as Lucy's fingers unfastened the top button of her dress.
The old chapel was dark, and Jeremiah paused on the threshold. "Daniel? Are you here?"
He heard a movement in front of the altar, and narrowed his eyes. There was someone there. "Hello, Jeremiah."
Jeremiah forced his legs to keep from collapsing at the sound of that voice. He sounded older, more mature, and more certain of himself. Jeremiah almost pulled him close, but at the last minute remembered that he was very angry with his friend. "It's good to see you. How is your wife?"
"Harriet's just fine," Daniel told him. "You look tired, Jeremiah."
"Yes, well, I don't have you around nagging me, do I, telling me to get some rest."
"I don't remember nagging you."
Jeremiah shook his head. "You didn't. I liked your looking after me, making sure I ate and slept -I miss that, Daniel."
Daniel looked away. He did too, in a way. But those days were over. He had promised.
"Why did you come back to Collinwood, Jeremiah?"
"You know why. Collinwood is mine. It's always been mine, and I refuse to give it up. Even to Barnabas."
"So you're willing to see the entire family destroyed to accomplish that goal?" Barnabas asked, coming from the darkness at the back of the chapel.
Jeremiah froze, his gaze moving to Daniel. "So this is why you sent that note. To trap me into meeting with Barnabas. It means nothing to you that I -"
"That's not true, Jeremiah -"
"You can go now, Daniel," Barnabas said. "Thank you."
"Go on, Daniel. Back to your little wife and the baby she's carrying."
Daniel lowered his head and moved away, out of the chapel. It took every bit of strength he possessed not to turn around and return to Jeremiah's side, to take him into his arms and hold him, as he had on so many nights - But he had promised, and he would keep that promise.
"I have no desire to see the family destroyed, Barnabas," Jeremiah said.
"You might not, but your friend Nicholas Blair does."
Jeremiah frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"Blair is here for one reason: to see the curse on the Collins family finished-and to establish a coven at Collinwood once we are gone."
"Curse? What -curse?" There was something in his memory, something that Joshua had once said, scoffing, about a curse on the family.
"It was placed upon the family of Amadeus Collins, Jeremiah, do you remember him?"
"Of course I do. He was a judge over in Bedford -he was killed -"
"As were his son and daughter in law -along with her unborn child."
"But the curse finished with them."
"No. The curse was on the entire family-including Amadeus' brother-who had settled here, at Collinwood."
"The curse was set by a warlock that Amadeus convicted and sentenced to death -" Jeremiah's eyes widened. "Judah. Judah Zachary."
"Precisely. And Blair is here to finish his curse. He offered you Collinwood, didn't he? Oh, you will have it -but you won't live long enough to enjoy it. He'll destroy you just as he has everyone else."
"You're lying, Barnabas. You'll say anything to keep Collinwood."
"You must believe me, Jeremiah. Ask Blair. He'll tell you that I'm telling you the truth."
"No. I've agreed to make a covenant with his master- to head the coven once it's established. He won't kill me."
"He must, in order for the curse to be fulfilled."
"No, Barnabas. He's not going to kill anyone. He just wants everyone else to leave Collinwood so I can return -"
"You'll see that I'm telling the truth, Jeremiah," Barnabas said. "And when you do, you know where to find me." He turned and left the chapel.
Jeremiah left the chapel as well. He had questions for his friend Nicholas Blair. And Blair was going to answer them or their deal would be ended.
Deborah didn't move as Lucy's hands moved closer to their goal. She wasn't even certain that she was still breathing. Where was Ben? She wondered. He should have been here, playing out the scene as they had agreed. "You've become so quiet, Deborah," Lucy commented softly. "You're not going to try and convince me that this is wrong? That we'll both burn in Hell for this? How can something that feels so wonderful be so wrong?" she asked, loosening the final button on Deborah's gown. Deborah shivered as the cool air touched her heated flesh, and Lucy smiled. "You'll warm soon, my lovely Deborah."
"Get away from her!"
At the sound of Ben's enraged voice, Deborah gasped and drew her gown closed. Lucy turned to face the large man who was coming toward the gazebo. "Ben," Deborah said, a catch in her voice, hoping she sounded suitable embarrassed and not relieved.
He grabbed Deborah's arm. "I know I shouldn't have trusted ya."
"I'm sorry, Ben," she said, but Lucy blocked their path as Ben turned them toward Collinwood.
"You don't have to go with him, Deborah. You can come with me. I'll see that you're taken very good care of."
"You keep away from her, Lucy. You hear me? You come near her again and so help me I'll strangle you with my bare hands. Come on, Deborah."
"She's not your little wife yet, Ben Stokes. She can still make her own choices. Deborah, it's your decision."
"Aye," Ben agreed, releasing her arm reluctantly. "You can go with me, marry me and be loved, or you can go with her to be used up and tossed aside like so many others."
Lucy's eyes narrowed. Deborah glanced in her direction, then turned to Ben. "I want to go with you, Ben. I want to marry you- if you're certain that it's what you want."
Ben took her arm again. "You leave us be, Lucy," he said again. "Or you'll pay."
Lucy watched them down the path. "Oh, someone will pay," she said to herself. "But it won't be me." She turned toward the path that would lead her back to the cottage. She had been gone for too long. If Jeremiah woke and found her gone, he would become difficult again. She would be heartily glad when she could cease pretending to care about that fop.
As she entered the cottage, she was relieved to see that there were no lights burning. She went in to check on her mother, and finding her sleeping peacefully, she entered the room she shared with Jeremiah, only to jump as he spoke. "I need to see Blair, Lucy. Now. Tonight."
Lucy turned to look at him. "I went for a walk," she told him. "I was unable to sleep-"
"You're not listening, Lucy. I don't care where you were. I want to see Blair. Now."
"That's impossible," she insisted. "I don't know where he is when he's not at the Eagle. You know that. I've checked the Inn and all the posting houses in the area, and he's not staying at any of them."
"Then I'll be at the Eagle tomorrow morning when he arrives," Jeremiah informed her.
"But- you can't. You know that Nicholas wants -"
"I don't care what Nicholas wants," Jeremiah said. "I'm not going to stay hidden any longer. I'll meet with Blair tomorrow morning, and nothing you say will stop me."
"Aren't you afraid that you'll run into your old friend Daniel?" she taunted, then backed away upon seeing the anger on his face.
"He's not my friend," Jeremiah said. "And I don't care if I never see him again."
"Something's happened," Lucy realized. "You've seen him, haven't you? You didn't go to Collinwood, did you?"
"No. He sent me a note to meet him," Jeremiah admitted. "To -to tell me that what happened between he and I was in the past and would not be a part of his future. Well, I wish him well with that little chit he married. May they both rot in Hell." He started to laugh softly. "Didn't you think that was humorous, Lucy? Daniel may not end up there, but you and I will, won't we?" He pulled her against him, began to kiss her.
"Jeremiah," Lucy objected, trying to pull away, "Let me go. I think you've had too much rum."
"Not a drop," he said, refusing to release her. "I should have concentrated on you, Lucy, not Daniel. You and I are two of a kind - a perfect match."
She struggled with him again, and heard fabric rip as the bodice of her low cut gown was torn. "Jeremiah! No."
"Why play so coy, Lucy? Afraid I'll discover that you've been with someone else? Another woman, perhaps? Even your little Deborah?"
The memory of Deborah's rebuff still stung, and Lucy found herself returning Jeremiah's caresses in a vain attempt to ease the pain of that rejection. He might be a fop, she thought as he laid her back on the bed, but he could make her forget everyone else for a time.
Trask left the Constable's office frowning. It had taken longer to convince the man that what they had to do was right than he had anticipated. He had hoped to catch Barnabas Collins on the road into the village. But it was too late for that now. He would have to take his chances on arresting the man in the village, with a town full of witnesses. He had already begun spreading the word - through Jason Greene and Lamar - that Amos had been killed by witchcraft, and that the spell had been cast by Barnabas Collins. Trask allowed himself a moment of concern that Collins might be taken by some overzealous townspeople and be denied a trial. He had seen it happen on more than one occasion. Fear of the Devil could lead people to do the Devil's work at times. Trask took up the position he had informed the Constable he would and began to wait.
Jeremiah moved through the village swiftly. The few who recognized him stared, fear in their eyes. Why would they be afraid of him? What lies had Barnabas told them? He had left Lucy still sleeping off their night of passion and come into Collinsport early.
Charlie was just opening the Eagle when Jeremiah appeared. The man stopped and frowned, then grinned. "Mr. Jeremiah Collins. As I live and breathe. I didn't hear that you were back at Collinwood."
"I'm not," Jeremiah said. "I've-only just arrived, and am supposed to meet a friend of mine here. He's been in Collinsport for a week- I told him to come to Charlie and he'd be given the best service in New England."
Charlie beamed. "Thank you, Mr. Jeremiah. You wouldn't be talking about that man who rents my back room, would you? Been seeing that little Lucy Mitchell, not that I blame him. Give her a tumble myself if she'd look my direction."
"That's the gentleman," Jeremiah confirmed. "I think I'll wait for him in the other room. And Charlie, I'd like to surprise him, if you know what I mean? He wasn't expecting me for a fortnight."
Charlie grinned. "I understand well, Mr. Jeremiah." He paused. "Does- Mr. Barnabas know that you're back in Collinsport?"
"No. And I would prefer to keep it that way for the time being. My nephew and I did not part on the best of terms, as I'm sure you've heard."
"I hear a lot of things tending this place," Charlie said. "Most of it I keep to myself. Good thing you're back, though. Mr. Barnabas is liable to be needing all of the family to help him through what's coming. Should have known there would be trouble when that Trask come into town. -"
Jeremiah frowned, and was about to ask him what he meant when he realized that it was almost time for Nicholas to arrive. He would discuss this matter with Charlie later. After he had gotten some answers from Nicholas Blair. "I'll be in the back room, Charlie. And remember-"
"Won't tell a soul," Charlie promised.
Lucy opened her eyes and rolled over, placing her hand toward where Jeremiah should have been. But he wasn't there. He had gone to meet Nicholas, she realized, and leapt out of bed. She had to be at that meeting. She retrieved a gown and started to put it on, then paused as she recalled that she was supposed to meet with Reverend Trask this morning so that she could witness the arrest of Barnabas Collins for witchcraft. She groaned loudly, and then went in to see to her mother before leaving the cottage. Perhaps the Reverend could be convinced not to force her to attend this morning -
"I simply can't face him, Reverend," Lucy said, a look of terror on her face. "He would kill me with a look. He's already killed poor Henry and Amos. What is to stop him from killing me as well? He's aware that I know enough to testify against him. Can't I wait, until the trial? Please?" she burst into tears, covering her face with a handkerchief.
Trask frowned. He had hoped she was stronger now, more able to face her tormentor, accuse him to his face of the vile things she claimed he had done to her. But apparently it was not to be. He placed a hand on her shoulder. "Very well, child. Go back to your mother and tend to her. I will inform you when the witch has been arrested and placed in jail."
Lucy sniffed, wiping her nose. "Oh, thank you, Reverend," she said, resting her cheek against his hand. Her tear-filled green eyes looking up at him. "Thank you. I don't know how I shall ever thank you for helping me."
"It is you who has helped me, child," he said, leaving his hand against her soft cheek for a moment longer than necessary. "And I am certain that we shall both be amply rewarded."
Trask looked down the street, his eyes narrowed. "You had best be on your way. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Barnabas Collins is not far from here."
Lucy turned a pale face in that direction, then lifted her skirts to run away. She slipped around a corner and doubled back to the Eagle. Would she be in time?
Nicholas Blair entered the dirty little ale house with a nod toward the man behind the bar. The man nodded back rather nervously, but Nicholas was accustomed to that reaction. No doubt the man had heard what was happening- or rather, what would happen very shortly, and was concerned for the effect on his business of Barnabas Collins' arrest on charges of witchcraft. Opening the door to the back room, Nicholas entered.
"I was beginning to think you wouldn't be here," Jeremiah said.
Nicholas frowned. "What are you doing here? We agreed-"
"No. YOU made the decision that I should remain hidden
away like a coward,
Nicholas. I want some answers. Now."
Removing his gloves, Nicholas struggled to remain cool and collected. "I shall give you all the answers you need, Jeremiah. Are you displeased with the length of time this is taking? I did try to tell you that it would not be easy to displace your nephew and his wife." His dark eyes narrowed. "Or is it your friend Daniel's return to Collinwood that troubles you? You shall see him very shortly, my friend."
Jeremiah shook off the hand Nicholas placed on his shoulder. "I don't care if I never see Daniel, Nicholas. I want to know what your connection is to Judah Zachary."
Nicholas turned away so that Jeremiah wouldn't see his anger. Hiding that fury behind a disarming smile, Nicholas faced him again. "Judah Zachary? What possible connection could I have to a man who has been dead over a hundred years?"
"Oh, come now, Nicholas. We both know that you've been around far longer than that. Did you know Zachary?"
"What if I did? He is still dead - beheaded for the crime of witchcraft."
"So sentenced by my great uncle Amadeus. Zachary placed a curse on his family for that action."
"Quite true. I was unaware that you were so well versed in your family's history, Jeremiah. In fact, I was under the impression that none of your family knew about Judah's curse."
"Are you here to see that curse to fruition?" Jeremiah asked.
Nicholas laughed softly. "Whoever told you that was in error, Jeremiah. I agreed to help you regain Collinwood, didn't I? And you agreed to give me free rein in order to make that happen. I fail to understand how my possibly connection with Judah Zachary changes that agreement."
"It does, Nicholas. I won't stand aside and watch as you destroy my family. I've made a lot of mistakes in my day, but not this one. I never wanted Barnabas dead -just for him to leave Collinwood to me. He's welcome to go back to the Old House -"
"Come now, Jeremiah. You can't be that naive. Your nephew will never give up that house as long as he's alive. Once he's gone, then Angelique will be more willing to take her sons and return to Martinique to raise them away from this place where their father died. That will leave you firmly in control of Collinwood -which is what you wanted, after all, isn't it?"
"Not on those terms," Jeremiah insisted. "And just where does Zachary's curse come into play? After you've handed Collinwood over to me? Will you destroy me then as easily as you've planned to destroy Barnabas? And what about his sons? Do you intend to kill them too?"
"So many questions. I don't care about Zachary's curse, Jeremiah. My only plan is to set up a coven at Collinwood. With you as its master. We've discussed this - I even agreed to let you bring young Daniel into the coven if you can convince him to join. What more could you want?"
"What are you planning to do to Barnabas?" Jeremiah asked. "I don't want him killed."
Nicholas laughed again. "Of course not. You would really prefer him at your side in the coven than Daniel, wouldn't you? But I don't think the lovely Angelique would agree to that arrangement. Nor would he. How can you possibly want someone who scorned you so completely, Jeremiah?" Nicholas asked. "Have you no pride at all, man?"
Jeremiah drew himself upright. "I will not discuss this subject with you, Nicholas. I asked a question."
At that moment, the door opened and Lucy entered the room, cheeks flushed, eyes bright. She glanced apologetically at Nicholas. "I'm sorry. I didn't know he would come here."
"It's quite all right, my dear," Nicholas assured her, but his eyes said something very different. "Shouldn't you be out there, helping your protector?"
"I told him that my mother needed me, and that I was too frightened to face - him. He should be in the village very soon."
Jeremiah looked from Lucy back to Nicholas. "Who are you talking about? What is going on? I'm tired of being kept in the dark, Nicholas. From now on, I want to be privy to all decisions and plans. If I'm to be master of the Collinwood coven,-"
Trask stood on the common, watching as Barnabas Collins entered the village with Ben Stokes at his side. So, he had chosen not to come alone. That might be for the best. Of course, Stokes would be difficult to control. Lamar and Jason Greene stood between Trask and the Constable's offices, waiting for the signal. As Barnabas neared the common, Trask nodded at the young men, and knew without taking his eyes from the street that they had run to the door of the office and knocked. The Constable came outside, looking uncertain as he crossed to stand with Trask. "Still not sure about this, Rev'rend," he said.
"You have no choice in this matter, good man," Trask insisted. "It is your duty to protect the good citizens of this area against harm, is it not?"
"Aye," the Constable agreed, looking to where Barnabas and Ben were dismounting before the shipyard office. "Best to wait until Stokes goes to take the horses to the stable."
"A wise idea, sir," Trask said. He had no desire
to quarrel with the big man.
Ben loosened Barnabas' saddle, glancing across the common. "Trask and the Constable are standing over there, sir, watching us like we was going to disappear, Mr. Barnabas."
"Go take my horse to the stable, Ben," Barnabas said. "Then finish your errands and return to Collinwood. I want you to stay as close as you can to Mrs. Collins and the children today. Make certain that nothing happens."
"Aye, Mr. Barnabas," Ben said, frowning. Something wasn't right. "Isn't that Amos Greene's boy over there?"
Barnabas turned. "I believe it is. I'll see you later, Ben." He watched the servant down the street, and then placed a hand on the doorknob.
"Hold up, please, Mr. Collins," Trask said, crossing to join him.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Trask?" he asked, hoping his disapproval didn't show too much.
"You can come with us across the street to the jail, sir," Trask said.
Barnabas shook his head. "Jail? What foolishness is this, Trask?"
"It is not foolishness, Mr. Collins. I am hereby charging you with the death of Henry Castle -"
"I had no part in young Castle's death," Barnabas insisted. "I did not kill him -"
"Then why was Castle's kerchief, with his mark on it, found in your office only yesterday?"
"I do not know anything of this," Barnabas insisted. "Who claims to have found it there?"
"Mr. Amos Greene brought it to me after his meeting with you."
Barnabas looked around the gathering crowd. "Apparently he is too much of a coward to confront me himself. He sends you to do his work for him."
Jason Greene burst from behind Trask to pummel Barnabas' chest with his fists. "He wasn't a coward," Jason insisted. "My father was man enough to stand up to the likes of you -"
Trask pulled the angry boy back. "There will be time for that, child," he admonished. "Do you also claim no part in the death of Amos Greene, Mr. Collins?"
"Greene is dead?"
"You pretend surprise. But he died with your name on his lips, accusing you of using witchcraft to end his life and gain his property."
Barnabas shook his head. "Witchcraft?"
"Barnabas Collins, I accuse you of the crime of witchcraft. You have taken the lives of Henry Castle and Amos Greene,-"
"You will never prove this, Trask. This is all a pack of lies-"
"I have witnesses, Mr. Collins. Witnesses who will swear that you have used the Black Arts to punish those who try to defeat you." Trask looked to the Constable. "You must do your duty, my good man."
The Constable swallowed heavily. "Sorry bout this, Mr. Collins," he said, indicating that Barnabas should follow him to the jail. Suddenly an angry roar came though the crowd as Ben Stokes pushed his way through.
Sounds of the crowd outside reached into the back room of the Eagle Tavern, and Jeremiah frowned. "What is that?"
Nicholas smiled. "Only the next part of the plan being put into action. Nothing you need to trouble yourself about."
"It sounds like a mob forming," Jeremiah said. He'd seen mobs in other villages when the word "witch" was mentioned. He tasted fear in his mouth. Fear for Barnabas. What had he started? "I can't let it happen, Nicholas. I can't." He made for the door, unaware that Nicholas and Lucy were following.
When he reached the street, he went pale at the scene of his nephew being led across the common toward the jail - iron cuffs on his hands. Ben Stokes was being forcibly restrained by several other men. Barnabas saw him and came to a stop. "Barnabas-" Jeremiah began, but found himself out of breath, unable to speak.
"This is the result of your bargain, Jeremiah,"
Barnabas told him. "It's all your fault -"
He was about to explain further, when he saw the man beside the Eagle, Lucy at his side. The man lifted his hand -simply raised it toward Jeremiah. Jeremiah crumpled, falling to his knees and then to the ground. Barnabas knelt awkwardly and bent down. "Jeremiah -"
"Forgive me," Jeremiah said, his voice audible only to Barnabas. "Wanted Collinwood for- for us. Never meant -" The constable pulled Barnabas away, and Trask turned to gloat to the crowd.
"You see? Proof of his evil. All he did was look at this man - and he dropped dead in his tracks. Do you need more proof?" The crowd surged forward. Few of them had liked Jeremiah, that was true enough. But to have him cut down in such a way-
"Am I to be given a trial, Trask?" Barnabas asked, "Or are you going to simply allow these people that you have stirred to a frenzy hang me without one?"
Trask raised his hands. "Good people of Collinsport. Hear me. Hear my words. Even with this latest proof of his guilt, Barnabas Collins deserves a trial just as any other criminal does. You must allow us to take him to the jail, to give him the day in court that he never allowed any of his enemies. God will see that he is judged as he must be -and that he is punished for his crimes."
"Hangin's too good for him," someone said.
"Struck him down like he was nothing," someone else said, rheumy eyes on Jeremiah's body as it was carried away.
Ben called out. "Mr. Barnabas!"
"I need to speak to Ben, Trask," Barnabas told him. "I can calm him down."
Trask looked uncertain, but motioned for the men holding Ben to allow him to follow them into the jail. Ben struggled to free himself, but found it impossible. "Mr. Barnabas-"
"I want you to go back to Collinwood, Ben."
"But Mr. Barnabas-"
"Go back and tell Mrs. Collins what has happened. Then I want you to ask Giles to come into Collinsport. I need to speak to him."
"You're sure, Mr. Barnabas? I don't like the idea of leaving you here -"
"I'll be fine, Ben. I'm certain that the Reverend will see that I'm well taken care of. Isn't that right, Trask?" Trask inclined his head. "Go, Ben. And hurry."
"All right, Mr. Barnabas." He turned to Trask. "If anything happens to him, you'll answer to me, REV'REND."
The Constable closed the cell door after admitting Barnabas. It was perhaps the loneliest sound that Barnabas had ever heard, he thought, sitting on the bed and placing his face in his hands. He had to get word to Angelique that she was not, under any circumstances, attempt to free him. It would only make things worse.
Lucy didn't realize that she was no longer standing at Nicholas' side at the Eagle until she looked around. She and Nicholas were standing in the middle of the main room of the cottage she shared with her mother and - until this morning - Jeremiah. She sat heavily on a chair as reality hit her.
Jeremiah Collins was dead.
She could still see him in her mind, heading toward Barnabas, about to tell him everything, when Nicholas had simply lifted his hand and clenched it slowly into a tight fist. Jeremiah had collapsed, but had still fought, struggled to remain alive and tell his nephew something of importance before Nicholas suddenly relaxed that fist - and Jeremiah ceased to breathe.
Lucy lifted stunned eyes to the man before her. "You - just lifted your hand -"
"I suggest that you remember what you saw today, my dear Lucy. Treat it as a warning about what I do to people who try to end an agreement before I'm ready for it to end." He placed a finger beneath her chin. "I thought you wanted to be free of Jeremiah?" he reminded her. "You couldn't wait to be rid of him, you said, to stop pretending -"
"I never expected - What will happen now?"
"You will go and take care of your mother. Very shortly, you will receive a visit from our friend Reverend Trask. And you will convince him that you are devastated by Jeremiah's death, and that you were afraid that something like this would happen if Barnabas Collins found out his uncle had returned to Collinsport."
"Are you really going to let them hang Barnabas Collins for witchcraft?" Lucy asked.
Nicholas' expression became grim. "That depends entirely upon someone else," he said. "But first, I want her to believe that she has no other way out but to accept my solution to the matter."
Lucy nodded, and then turned to go and tell her mother about Jeremiah's death.
"You've done very well with Collinwood, Angelique," Daniel told his hostess. "I'm quite impressed."
"As am I," Harriet commented, "I must admit that when Daniel first told me that his cousin had married a servant -"
"Harriet -" Daniel said, a thread of warning in his voice.
"Really, Harriet," Sarah sighed. "You haven't changed at all. You're still as much of a snob as you were at ten. Always forgetting that your father was only the local ship's chandler, not royalty."
"But Mama's family was one of the best families in New York," Harriet pointed out. "She made certain that I received all of the instruction I would need for my position."
"As did Angelique's mama," Natalie said. "Simply because Angelique had the misfortune to be a lady's maid and later a housekeeper, is no reason to look down on her, madame," Natalie said. "She learned much during her time as companion to Josette and myself, most of which I encouraged in the hope that she would make a good marriage and be able to rise above her station. Which she did." Her smiled was full of pride as she looked at Angelique.
Harriet frowned as she realized she was the only one in the room who agreed with what she had said. "I meant no disrespect," she hedged.
"Of course you didn't," Angelique said. "You were simply stating a fact. I will admit that when Barnabas and I first married, there were a few of the society matrons in the area and in New York who tended to look down on me, but I determined that Barnabas would never have reason to be less than proud of my accomplishments."
"She took the city by storm," Giles said, smiling. "Even my own parents - and they are very hard to please."
The front doors opened, and Ben Stokes entered the room, out of breath and unable to do more than stand before Angelique, moving his thick lips. Angelique rose, suddenly very frightened. "Ben? What is wrong?"
The servant swallowed. "Terrible. Mr. Barnabas -"
"Has something happened to Barnabas, Ben?" Angelique asked, her fear mounting higher with each passing second. Deborah came into the room to touch Ben's arm.
"Slowly, Ben. Tell us what happened."
Giles poured a glass of whiskey and handed it to the servant, who tossed it back in one gulp, then wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. "Mr. Barnabas has been arrested -"
It seemed that everyone was talking at once at his announcement.
"What has he been charged with?" Giles asked.
"Please," Angelique said, bringing the other to silence. "Let Ben speak." She led him over to the divan. "What happened, Ben?"
"We arrived in the village and noticed that everyone was looking at us, watching us. Mr. Barnabas said to ignore it, but I wasn't so certain. He sent me to the stable with his horse, and while I was gone, he was set upon by Trask and the constable."
"Trask?" Daniel repeated. "What had he to do with this?"
"He accused Mr. Barnabas of causing the death of Henry Castle and Amos Greene. They say he's a witch."
"They can't hold him -"
"When did Greene die, Ben?" Angelique asked.
"Last night. He was in his shack when he had a seizure. His boy says his last words were that Barnabas was killing him."
Angelique rose. "I have to go to him -"
"There's more, Mrs. Collins," Ben said, swallowing again. Angelique sat back down. "They were starting to take him across the common to the jail when Mr. Jeremiah appeared." Harriet's eyes found Daniel. "He seemed about to tell Mr. Barnabas something. Mr. Barnabas reached out toward him, and Mr. Jeremiah fell to the ground. He was dead almost immediately."
Daniel went pale. "Jeremiah is- dead?" Ben nodded, and Daniel moved to the drink cabinet to pour himself a glass of whiskey, fully aware that Harriet's eyes were fixed on him, taking note of his reaction.
"Aye, Mr. Daniel. He is. The mob got ugly after that, saying that Mr. Barnabas had killed Mr. Jeremiah just by lifting his hand. I tried to get to him, Mrs. Collins, but they stopped me. I would have torn that jail apart with my bare hands if I'd of thought it would do any good."
Angelique put a hand on his arm. "You did fine, Ben. Did you speak to him?"
"I did. They let me see him for a minute."
"I want you to take me into Collinsport, Ben," Angelique said.
"I can't," he said. "Mr. Barnabas said that he didn't want you anywhere near that jail -"
"Well I'm going -" Angelique began, only to have Natalie grasp her arm.
"No, chéri. You must do as Barnabas wishes you to do. For the sake of the children, if for no other reason."
Ben looked at Giles, who was trying to comfort a tearful Sarah. "He did say he wants you to come in to see him, Mr. Giles."
"I'll leave right away." He turned to Sarah. "Will you be all right?"
She nodded, wiping her face. "I'll stay here with Angelique. Tell him that I love him, Giles."
"He knows, Sarah. But I'll tell him anyway. Do you have a message as well, Angelique?"
"Do you think you could get a note to him, Giles?" she asked, unwilling to put her feelings into words with everyone watching.
"I can make an attempt," the young man told her.
"Then I'll be right back." She left the room, to go to the study.
"I was just so - shocked when a neighbor came and told me that Mr. Collins had killed Jeremiah," Lucy told the Reverend Trask. Her green eyes were rimmed with red from crying, and she had practically torn the linen handkerchief in her hands to ribbons. "I just knew that if Jeremiah came back that Mr. Collins would do something like this. I hoped that he would be arrested and tried before Jeremiah decided to return."
"You were quite - fond of Mr. Collins' uncle, then?"
Lucy nodded. "We planned to marry when he came home. But Barnabas - Mr. Collins was against it. It was fine for him to marry a servant, but he wouldn't hear of his uncle doing likewise. And when I threatened to tell everyone the truth about just how the first Mrs. Collins died -"
"Tell me, child," Trask asked, "is there anyone at Collinwood who might be able to confirm your story? To confirm that Mr. Barnabas Collins used witchcraft to bring about his first wife's death so that he could marry another?"
"Mrs. Burns was in the house with them. So was Ben Stokes. But Ben would lie for Barnabas -say anything Barnabas tells him to say. Mrs. Burns would as well, I think. He's woven such a tight web around everyone in that house, Reverend. I was lucky to have been able to escape."
"Yes," Trask agreed, placing a hand on her arm. "God spared you for a purpose, Lucy. A higher calling than you knew before. You are still willing to testify against Barnabas Collins?"
"Yes. But- I'm afraid he'll try to kill me as he did Jeremiah. He's so powerful -"
"Not more powerful than the Almighty," Trask proclaimed. "You will have the mantle of the Lord's protection over you as you speak the truth that puts an end to the Devil's work."
Lucy nodded. "My mother asked to meet you," she told him. "If you have a moment?"
"I am always available to visit those in ill health and pray for them."
Indicating the bedroom behind them, Lucy stepped aside. "She will appreciate your prayers, Reverend."
Giles left Ben outside the jail in a staring contest with some other villagers and entered to find the Constable bent over a plate at a table, eating. "Hello, my good man. I am -"
The man scowled. "I know who you are. Come to see Mr. Collins, I wager."
"He sent for me," Giles said. "And I would appreciate privacy when we speak."
"Reverend Trask told me I wasn't to let anyone be alone with him."
Giles fixed the man with a look. "I wasn't aware that Reverend Trask was in charge here, sir. I was under the impression that the good people of Collinsport paid your wages. Including the Collins family." The man's eyes fell. He picked up the iron ring which contained his keys and led the way to the cells.
"Barnabas?" Giles asked, seeing the man lying on the narrow cot against the back wall of the dark cell.
Barnabas sat up. "Giles." He came forward to grasp his brother in law's hand through the bars. "I was hoping you would come. Ben told everyone what happened?"
Giles nodded, and then realized that the constable was still in the room with them. At Giles' expression, the man shook his head, and then left them alone. But Giles knew that he was standing on the other side of the door, listening. As a result, Giles kept his tone low. "He told us about Jeremiah and your arrest. They haven't any proof, Barnabas."
"I know that. But Trask seems to believe he does. How is Angelique?"
"Worried and furious. The Countess very nearly had to tie her up to keep her from accompanying me here."
"I don't want her involved in this, Giles. In fact, I want you to convince her that it would be best if she and the children returned to Martinique with the Countess until I can come and retrieve them."
Giles shook his head. "She won't go. You have a
very stubborn wife, Barnabas. The Countess herself suggested
just that course of action before I left. Angelique refused to
leave you to Trask's less than tender mercies. She seemed to
feel that she could be of some help -"
"No. But you can be - if you are willing to take on my case."
"You don't have to ask," Giles said. "But you should remember that I haven't actively practiced the law since I took my degree. Father's business matters are not the same as defending a man against charges of witchcraft."
"I have every confidence in you, Giles. How is Sarah?"
"She was trying to keep Angelique's spirits up when I left, as well as trying to keep Harriet away from her."
"Daniel's wife is not happy that he has closeted himself in the study with a bottle of whiskey ever since hearing about Jeremiah's death. What happened, Barnabas?"
"I don't know," Barnabas admitted. "But I do know that Lucy Mitchell had something to do with the person who WAS responsible for it. I looked up to see Jeremiah coming towards me. I'm certain he was about to denounce Trask and tell everyone exactly what had been happening this last week. I knew that if I made a full move toward him, the Constable would hold me back, so I extended a hand - and at that same moment, Jeremiah fell. As he did, I saw a man standing with Lucy near the Eagle. His arm was out, but his hand was clenched into a fist. I knelt beside Jeremiah to hear his final words and then he was - gone."
"What did he say?" Giles asked.
A shadow crossed Barnabas' face. "That he was sorry for all the trouble he'd caused."
"What else?" When Barnabas lifted his face, Giles' lips tightened. "Look, Barnabas, if I'm to defend you, I have to know everything."
"Jeremiah said he'd wanted Collinwood for - himself and for -"
"You?" Giles guessed. When Barnabas nodded quickly, Giles shook his head. "I don't know if we can keep Jeremiah's- friendships out of this, Barnabas. He was such a complicated person. Daniel, Lucy - who knows how many others. And all convinced that he loved them. I'll see if I can find Lucy and speak to her, find out who her friend is -"
"I've no doubt that his name is Nicholas Blair," Barnabas said. "Ask Angelique about him."
"Angelique?" Giles drew a folded paper from his pocket and slipped it through the bars. "She sent this, by the way. I promised to try and get it to you."
"Thank you," Barnabas said, unfolding the paper and moving toward the small window that poorly lit the cell. He quickly read the words and then folded the paper to place it in his own coat. "Tell her that -" He frowned. "I want her to cooperate with you on this, to let you handle everything. That I don't want her to do anything that might make things worse."
"What could be worse?" Giles asked. "You're in jail, Barnabas. Charged with killing two people by witchcraft. Are you aware what the penalty for that crime is?"
"Hanging," Barnabas said tiredly. "But, as you say, Trask has no evidence with which to convince the judges -"
"Do you really want to take that chance? If Angelique can help -"
"The only help she can be is to keep out of it, Giles," Barnabas insisted.