Natalie was sitting with Angelique, having agreed to wait for Barnabas' return before hearing about the man Judah, a man whose name had been enough to send Angelique into a faint. He must have been someone quite powerful, Natalie thought to herself. Even now, Angelique spoke very little, her thoughts apparently turned inward. There was a knock on the door, and when a second one came, Natalie despaired of the housekeeper's answering the summons. She crossed the foyer and opened the door.
The man who stood there was quite handsome, she decided, in dark way. Certainly he had a most charming smile. "May I help you?"
"I hope so. You're-not the housekeeper." It was a statement, Natalie realized.
She smiled, amused that anyone would even ask. "But of course not."
"You are French. I simply adore the French. I've spent many years in that country. But I cannot place your accent, Madame."
"Perhaps because I have spent most of my life in Martinique, sir."
"I see. Well, would you be so kind as to inform Mrs. Collins that I would like to see her? To renew our acquaintance."
"And who shall I tell her is calling?"
The man drew a calling card from his vest. "Give her this."
Natalie took the card. The name was unfamiliar, and it was not Judah, so she smiled at the man again. "Wait here." She let him into the entryway, then closed the door and turned to the drawing room. She noticed that he moved to study the portrait of Barnabas that hung beside the door.
"Angelique, there is a man here who wishes to renew your acquaintance."
Angelique looked up at her. "Who is it, Natalie?"
She held out the card. "His card."
Angelique took the white rectangle and read the name. For a moment, Natalie feared that she was going to faint once again, as she closed her eyes. "Show him in, Natalie."
Natalie frowned. "But who is he?"
"Someone who can answer some questions," Angelique responded, and then rose slowly to her feet as Natalie began to protest. "No, Natalie. This I must do without fear. For to show fear will be my undoing." She went to the doorway, aware that Natalie was hovering like a mother hen. The thought brought a smile to her lips that she might normally not have had as she saw her visitor. "Hello, Nicholas."
"Angelique. Excuse me. Mrs. Collins. You are as lovely as ever," Nicholas Blair said, taking her hands in his. "You were always the most beautiful creature, don't you agree, Madame?"
"But of course," Natalie said. "How can I think otherwise about my own child?" Something about this man brought Natalie's protectiveness to the fore.
"You are this enchanting creature's mother?" He stood back to examine them.
"You have no need for false flattery, sir. I am fully aware that she does not resemble me in the slightest. She is apparently more her father's child than she is mine."
"Nicholas knew- my father, Natalie," Angelique informed her. "He knew Belle also."
"In fact, I was always under the impression that Belle was your mother, my dear."
"It is a long story. And one I think you already knew about," Angelique said. "Would you care for something to drink, Nicholas?"
"No, thank you. You are looking quite well," he commented. "May we speak privately?"
"That might be a good idea," Angelique agreed. "Natalie, could you go and keep an eye on Rebecca for me?"
"Are you certain, chéri?" Natalie asked, her gaze on the man who stood by the fireplace. "I do not trust this one."
"Your instincts are very accurate, mama, but it will be best if he and I speak alone." She watched Natalie to the top of the stairs, and then returned to the drawing room, closing the doors behind her. "Why are you here, Nicholas?"
"You've been gone too long, Angelique. Charles is dead, and it is time that you take your place in the coven."
"I want no such place," she insisted. "And keep your voice down. If any of the servants overhear you- there is a witch hunter in Collinsport -"
"I know. The Reverend Trask. But surely you are not frightened of that puny little man. You could break him with a thought, if you wanted to. Which brings me to another question: Why haven't you already done so?"
"Because my husband asked me not to use my powers," she told him. "He is afraid of Trask, afraid that someone will accuse me of witchcraft and that Trask will come after me. In fact, he tried to convince me to take the children and go back to Martinique for a time -"
"You really should, you know. Of course, the children can't come along - after all, they are Collinses, aren't they?"
"What do you mean?"
"Surely you of all people haven't forgotten-" He saw the confusion in her eyes and laughed softly. "Judah's trial, my dear. Have you forgotten so quickly his last words after you betrayed him?"
"I testified because you asked me to. You said it was my duty to bring him down, that he believed himself more important than the Master himself."
"Very true. And you did such an excellent job. You've forgotten, haven't you? Surely you can remember the name of the head judge in Judah's trial, Miranda."
Angelique placed her hands over her ears. "Don't call me that. I'm no longer Miranda. I'm Angelique Collins-" she stopped, eyes wide, as realization struck with full force. "Collins. Amadeus Collins. But - he wasn't part of this family-"
"Oh, but he was. He was a cousin to your husband's grandfather."
"But they had nothing to do with Judah's trial," she insisted. "I doubt that Barnabas would even know who he was if I asked him. You can't mean -"
"I'm afraid I do. In order for Judah's curse to be fulfilled, the Collins family must be destroyed."
He said it so calmly, so matter of fact, that Angelique remained silent for a long moment. "I won't let you do it, Nicholas. I'll fight you."
"And risk being exposed as a witch by the pious Reverend Trask? I don't think so. You have a destiny to fulfill yourself, my dear," he said, lifting her chin with a gloved hand. "It's a pity that Belle was never able to tell you about that. She died before the time came. And once you were in the du Pres household, continuing your training became nearly impossible."
"Then I am glad she died when she did. And the du Pres household was where I belonged. Not in a small little shack. Did- he know he was my father?"
"Of course he did. Belle told him all about it. You see, her child was never intended to survive. It was all carefully planned that she would take you to raise as her own, to teach you all the things you needed to know, to restore your memory of your previous life."
"To what purpose? To control Charles' coven one day?"
"To be the bride of our Master, of course."
Angelique recoiled in horror. "Never. I would never agree-"
"It's fate, my dear. And you cannot outrun fate. No matter how hard you try."
"You're working with Jeremiah, aren't you? And you've promised Lucy Mitchell everything she's ever wanted if she helps you, I should think."
"Lucy is a dear little thing. Quite an apt student. Jeremiah and I have a bargain."
"A Devil's pact, more likely."
Nicholas shrugged. "As you say. He's agreed to let me regain Collinwood for him in exchange for something I want."
"But, he's a Collins. And you just said that the Collins family has to be destroyed."
"I never told him that he would live to enjoy it," Nicholas told her, that smile back on his face. "Only that he would get it back. You see, Collinwood will be mine. Dedicated to my Master. The sight of a major coven. It was always intended to be. Judah was to have moved his coven out of Bedford before you ever joined, moved it to this hill. But he insisted on remaining in Bedford, where he felt secure. His delay gave Joshua Collins' father the chance to come here and settle the area. And then the fool refused a covenant that would have insured the survival of the family."
"What if a member of the family were willing to accept a covenant now?" Angelique asked.
Nicholas looked thoughtful. "I would have to take it up with my Master. Do you have someone in mind?"
Angelique looked away. "No. I was just-curious. You sent me a message earlier-what did it mean? I saw Judah beheaded, saw his head put on hideous display. He can't possibly be alive."
"Judah's spirit lives, my dear Angelique. It will never rest-not until all of the descendants of those who executed him are destroyed. Especially the Collins family."
Barnabas stood at the window of his office, not seeing the yards beyond, his thoughts on Jeremiah. They had been such good friends as boys, growing up together. He wished he knew where everything had gone awry. When had they begun to drift toward such opposing positions? Or had they always been where they are now and he had simply never realized it? Sighing, he turned - and stopped, upon finding Amos Greene in the doorway, watching him. "Have you reconsidered my offer, Greene?" he asked.
"Not likely, Collins," Greene said. "I came to tell you that I've found someone else to testify. I'll get my price yet - and more."
"Who have you convinced to lie for you now, Greene?" Barnabas asked.
"Miss Lucy Mitchell." Greene smiled as Barnabas showed his surprise at the announcement. "She came into town, telling everyone that you little wife had let her go for no reason."
"There are reasons, Greene," Barnabas said. "Lucy Mitchell is no more a good witness for your case than young Castle was. Both were released under less than ideal circumstances. Castle was a bully and drunkard, and Lucy -"
"Have a care, Collins," Greene warned, his eyes taking on the glow of a man preparing to defend a woman he cared deeply about. "Or I'll have you on charges of defamation as well. Miss Mitchell has informed me that she was released simply because she was too fond of your uncle Jeremiah, and happened not to inform you or your wife of that fact when you took possession of Collinwood."
"There is a great deal more to the story than that, Greene, but I shall not go into it with you. Now, unless you are willing to take the amount I offered-"
"Not in this lifetime," Greene said.
"Then I suggest you be on your way," Barnabas said, turning back to the window, signaling the end of the interview.
Greene turned to leave the office, and then paused as his eye was caught by the bright red of a kerchief laying on the floor, as if it had been pushed into a corner. Greene bent to pick it up. He'd seen that kerchief. In fact, he had teased the owner only last evening about carrying such a loud scrap of fabric merely to wipe his brow.
"That will be all, Greene," Barnabas said again.
Greene quickly stuffed the kerchief into is pocket and left the office. He needed to find the Reverend Trask.
As Barnabas left the office a few minutes later, he was surprised to find Ben Stokes waiting for him. "Why are you in the village, Ben? Has something happened at the house?"
"Aye, Mr. Barnabas. Mrs. Collins let Lucy go this afternoon. She sent me into the village to keep a watch on where the girl went."
"I know she met with Amos Greene," Barnabas said. "She's agreed to identify the handwriting on that letter as mine unless I meet his price."
"Aye. She went from there to her mother's cottage. She's been there ever since."
"Good work, Ben. Have you heard anything about young Castle's death?"
"Only that there's something kinda strange about it."
Barnabas turned to look at him as he mounted his horse. "Strange? In what way?"
"There was no marks on him. No sign of a struggle. He was just-dead. Like his heart had stopped beating. Greene's been telling everyone that it might be witchcraft."
"Witchcraft? Why would he say such a thing? Castle most likely had too much to drink and simply fell and hit is head."
"Not according to the Constable." He mounted the other horse. "I was wondering, Mr. Barnabas, if - well, I asked Deborah to marry me-"
Barnabas smiled. "I was wondering when you might work up the courage to do something like that. And what was the lady's response?"
Ben's smile was wider. "She said yes. But I was hoping that you would talk to the Countess about it for me. When she goes back to Martinique -"
"I don't think we need worry about that for some time, Ben, but I'll speak to her. I'm certain that she will be as pleased for you and Deborah as I am." And then he would convince Angelique to take the children to Martinique, sending Ben along to protect them.
Jeremiah watched as Lucy paced the cottage like a caged tiger he had once seen in the Far East. She had entered the cottage to inform him that Angelique had let her go, and when Jeremiah had made the mistake of asking if Deborah had been sorry about her departure, Lucy had ignored him. He smiled, fully certain that dear Lucy had been thoroughly rebuffed by the object of her obsession. She had been muttering for hours about Ben Stokes, and that she would make certain Deborah was never happy with such a lout.
"Where IS he?" she wondered. "I left a message for him at the Eagle. He should have at least sent for me by now."
"Who are you talking about now?" Jeremiah asked.
"Nicholas, of course. He was going out to Collinwood - Oh, you should have seen her face when I gave her his message, Jeremiah."
"What message?" She had apparently forgotten her earlier anger, because her features were again aglow with that particular fire that had always set Jeremiah to wanting her.
"Two little words. Just two little words and the colour drained from her face, and she fell into a swoon."
"What words, Lucy?"
"'Judah lives'," she told him.
Judah. Where had he heard that name, Jeremiah wondered. And why did it instill fear in him? "What did she say about it?"
"Nothing, really. But she was furious. I wish I could have stayed to see her face when Nicholas arrived. Why hasn't he sent for me?"
"He told me that he would possibly stop here on his way back to tell us about his visit," Jeremiah told her, coming to put his arms around her as she looked out the window.
Lucy turned into his arms. "You shouldn't be so close to the window," she admonished. "Someone might see you."
"I doubt it. Tell me what happened with Deborah." She became stiff and unyielding once again, her eyes flashing green sparks. "Did she turn you away?"
"Not only did she turn me away, but she insists that she is going to marry that oaf Stokes. He wouldn't know the first thing about making a woman happy. Especially the way I can make her happy."
"Old Stokes might surprise you, Lucy. From what I've heard, he's not as loutish as you seem to think. Now. Forget about little Deborah, and concentrate on me. Then, when Nicholas arrives, he might be tempted into joining us."
Lucy relaxed, a bright smile on her face. "Then let's not waste any more time," she agreed, leading him into the other room.
Barnabas left Ben to lead the horses around the corner of the house. Once he was out of sight, Ben found himself set upon by a trembling Deborah. "Oh, Ben. I am so glad that you're back. Lucy -"
"She's up to no good, Deborah," he told her, putting an arm around her shoulders. "She's agreed to lie for Amos Greene against Mr. Barnabas." He looked down at her. "You all right?"
"I am now. I was afraid that she might harm you somehow, if she found out that Angelique had sent you after her. She's threatened to keep us from marrying, Ben."
"Ain't no way she can do that," Ben assured her, stopping to hold her against him for a moment. "Mr. Barnabas agreed to speak to the Countess about it."
"Right now, I think the Countess has other things on her mind," Deborah commented.
Natalie met Barnabas as he entered the house. "I have been waiting for your return, Barnabas," she said. "I am concerned for our Angelique."
His eyes found hers, and he frowned. "Is she ill?"
"She has not had a good day, but she is not ill physically, no. First she had a scene with that dreadful creature Lucy -"
"How did she come to dismiss Lucy?" Barnabas asked. "We had agreed to wait -"
"After Lucy returned, she delivered a message to Angelique from the gentleman she has been seeing at the Eagle. She tried to tell us a story about this man, that he had promised to help her mother in exchange for other favours, but -"
"What was the message, Natalie?"
"Two words. Judah lives."
"Judah lives?" Barnabas repeated. "I've heard the name somewhere."
"It is not a common name, I should think. But Angelique's reaction was most alarming. She fell into a faint, and when she woke, she accused Lucy of being in league with this man to harm the Collins family, and dismissed her."
"Yes. And she went directly to Amos Greene to offer her testimony about the handwriting on that letter," Barnabas told her.
"But what of that young man who worked here? I was under the impression that he was going to help Mr. Greene."
"Henry Castle died last night- under mysterious circumstances. Ben tells me that there is talk of witchcraft in the village."
Natalie gasped. "No. If anyone is tried for witchcraft it should be that creature Lucy. Do you think that they will suspect Angelique?"
"I don't know," Barnabas said. "But I do not want to take that chance. I want you to help me convince her to take the children to Martinique for a visit. Immediately."
"She will not go. Especially after the visitor she received this afternoon."
Angelique was in her room, Rebecca in her arms. No one could take her children, her husband from her. She was determined that not even her master would succeed in such a goal. She had made her choice, to ally herself with this family. Perhaps she had meant to do exactly that. To find some way to defeat Judah's curse - She closed her eyes. Judah. Such a long time ago, and yet - she could still remember how eagerly she had followed him, all for the promise of things she had never known in her poor existence. To return to Martinique and do what would be expected of her there - She shuddered at the thought and placed the sleeping infant in her cradle as the door opened.
Looking up, she found her husband there, and with a soft cry, she ran into his arms, burying her head against his chest. "Oh, Barnabas. I thought I would never get through this day."
"Natalie has told me about Lucy. And about your visitor."
"But she does not know everything," Angelique admitted, feeling safe for the first time since Lucy had spoken those words. "I promised to tell her the story when you returned." Her eyes searched his face. "What is wrong, darling? You look troubled as well."
"Castle is dead. And there is talk of witchcraft being responsible."
"You don't think that I -? Barnabas, I gave you my word not to use my powers without your knowledge."
He shook his head gently, touching her face. "No. I never considered that you might be responsible. For all we know, Jeremiah might have done this. Or Lucy. Or your visitor. What was his name? Blair?"
"Yes. Nicholas Blair." She shuddered again, and Barnabas' arms tightened around her. "But to tell you about him, I must tell you about Judah as well."
"Judah. That name is familiar to me. I have heard it before, spoken with fear."
"No doubt as a child. Do you remember a relative named Amadeus Collins?"
"Amadeus? Of course. He was Father's great uncle, I believe. His son, grandson, and the grandson's wife were all killed in a fire which no one knew the cause of. I was quite young when it happened. Why would I have heard the name Judah then?"
"Because, my darling Barnabas, my darling husband, the Collins family is under a curse set by Judah Zachary."
"You little fool," Nicholas hissed at Lucy as they stood in the front room of the cottage. "You should never have mentioned that name in front of Jeremiah."
"How was I to know that?" Lucy asked. "You never told me not to. Who was this - Judah?"
"You have no need to know that just yet, my dear. You had best hope that Jeremiah does not remember where he has heard it before, either, Lucy."
"What if he does?" she asked.
"Then Jeremiah might become expendable sooner instead of later."
`Barnabas and Natalie listened carefully as they sat in the study after dinner that evening, listening to Angelique's story about her former life as Miranda Duvall, and her entanglement with the warlock, Judah Zachary. She had been a poor girl, brought up by her maiden aunt, and had been impressed by the power Judah wielded over the small community of Bedford. When he had approached her, she had resisted him at first, until her aunt had forbidden her to see him. Barnabas smiled as he thought about what the reaction of the woman he knew would have been to such an order. She would have gone out of her way to see Judah.
Which is exactly what Miranda had done. She had sought him out and ultimately become one of the members of the warlock's coven, believing his promises of power and riches. But the only power in the coven had been held by Judah himself, and he had been extremely jealous of it. He made powerful enemies in the village, and in Hell as well, apparently.
Miranda was approached by a man who informed her that he had been sent by their master to bring judgment upon Judah - to make him an example for others that would follow - and he wanted Miranda's help. That man had been Nicholas Blair.
Judah had been a part of his coven, once, Blair had told her. Until he had convinced their master to grant him the Mask of Baal. Now, he tended to forget easily where that power came from, that he owed everything to his master. So Judah would have to stand trial and be judged by those people whom he held in such contempt. Blair asked Miranda to offer to testify against Judah.
But Miranda was tired of the coven, tired of always having to answer her master. And her agreement to help Blair was hinged on her being free to leave Bedford, to go her own way without interference from anyone else. To do what she wanted, when she wanted.
After some discussion, Blair had returned with a compromise: Miranda would testify against Judah Zachary, and in return, be granted safe passage anywhere she wanted go, where she would be free to live her life untouched by their master's demands. But at some point in the future, her soul would return in another, and that person would be dedicated to their master as a bride, ruling over a powerful coven. "And that coven would be at Collinwood," she told Barnabas and Natalie now.
"Why Collinwood?" Barnabas wondered. "What is so special about this place?"
"It was chosen long ago as a site for a coven. But for various reasons, the coven was never started. Then your grandfather came here, built the Old House, and settled the area. Judah's curse on Amadeus was a help, it was thought, because once the Collins family was gone, then the land could be re-claimed in the name of Satan."
"So Blair intends to use Jeremiah to get destroy the family - and then destroy Jeremiah," Barnabas mused. "Jeremiah must be told of this. If he knew, I am certain that he would not continue to help Blair with his plans."
Angelique looked at him. "You can't mean to go and seek him out, Barnabas. He's already in Nicholas' power. He won't listen to or believe you."
"He must. I know he's done some things that are reprehensible, Angelique," he said, kneeling before her, "But he's a Collins. And I will not simply stand by and allow him to be used in this way by Blair."
"But you do not know where he is, Barnabas," Natalie pointed out.
"I think I do," Barnabas told her. "No one goes to the Mitchell cottage without Lucy's invitation. She could be hiding him there."
"Deborah did not see him," Natalie remarked.
"No. But it is still possible. She did not search the cottage, nor was she looking for anyone else. Jeremiah is in that cottage. The problem I have is getting inside without anyone knowing about it."
"Then we shall have to come up with a plan," Natalie said. "I shall consider all of the options and some up with something," she told them. "Right now, I am going up to my room." She gave Angelique a kiss, and then turned to leave them. "We shall find a way, chéri. Have no fear of that."
Angelique was frowning as her mother left the room. "Barnabas, what are you going to do about Amos Greene? If Lucy is truly going to testify for him, -"
"Greene's cause will come to nothing," Barnabas said, dismissively. "There's nothing he can do that I can't fight. Presenting Jeremiah would go far in defusing his claim that I wrote that letter. If I can convince Jeremiah to renounce his agreement with Blair and help fight him, then he can testify that it was he who wrote that letter and not me."
"You're depending on Jeremiah to be rational, Barnabas. And I will not allow that man back into this house with my children."
Barnabas took her hands and drew her up into his arms. "Before anything else is done, Angelique, I will have to speak to him. I'll find him a place," he promised. "Go upstairs and I'll join you in a few minutes."
"You're not coming up with me?"
"I have some papers to look over - I won't be long," he told her, kissing her. "And try not to worry."
"You won't go over to the cottage tonight," she said. "Not without some assurance that Lucy isn't there, waiting to warn Nicholas."
"I won't leave the house," he said. He closed the door behind her and allowed himself a moment of doubt. What if Jeremiah refused to help? No, he wouldn't. Beyond everything else, Jeremiah was a Collins. And he would never stand by and allow someone to destroy the entire family, much less be a part of such a scheme. He would have to find out what Blair had told Jeremiah, and then convince Jeremiah that he had lied.
Sitting at the desk, Barnabas began to read the papers he had brought from the office.
Amos Greene staggered into the hovel that he shared with his son. "Jason!" He sat heavily in a chair, staring at his boots. It would be too much trouble to reach down a pull them off. "Jason!" Confound it, where was that boy? Probably out mooning over some little twit in the village, he decided. He grinned, thinking about Lucy Mitchell. Now there was a twit to moon over. He closed his eyes, recalling her visit here, when she had told him what was really going on up at Collinwood. Wouldn't all these people be surprised when the truth came out? The high and mighty Collins family needed to be brought down a few pegs. "Jason!!"
The door opened, and Jason entered, out of breath. "I heard you calling, Father," he said, apologetically. "I ran as fast as I could -"
"I need a drink, boy," Greene said.
Jason sighed, finding the bottle of rum and a glass. "Here."
"Where were you, boy?" Greene asked, pouring the rum. "You've been gone a long time."
"I was with a friend," Jason told him. "He's new in the village. You don't know him."
"I might. Know most people. What's his name?"
"Lamar." He saw his father frown. "I'm going up to my bed, Father -"
Greene didn't respond, so Jason climbed the ladder against
the wall and fell into his loft of straw. With his hands behind
his head, he recalled the plans he and Lamar Trask were making
to leave Collinsport. Lamar assured him that his brother Gerald
would take them both in, and that they would never have to see
either of their fathers ever again. Jason had some money put back,
money he had earned doing odd jobs, money that his father knew
nothing about. He just needed a little more to have enough to
Greene picked up the bottle to pour another glass, but it slipped from his fingers, falling onto the floor where it shattered, the liquid darkening the floor. Greene's lips thinned in drunken frustration. He started to rise from the chair, but a pain in his chest brought a groan from him, made him stay right where he was.
"Amos Greene," a voice said. Greene turned around.
"Who -Who's here? What's happening to me?"
"You know who this is," the voice said again. "You surely can't have forgotten the voice of your worst enemy."
"Collins. Barnabas Collins?" It didn't sound like Collins' voice, but he'd been drinking, and the pain in his chest - "Where are you?"
In his loft, Jason frowned and looked over the side. He could see his father, sitting at the table, a hand to his chest, talking, but there was no one else in the room. "Father?" he asked. "Are you all right?"
"Collins! You show yourself!" Greene said.
"I don't need to," the voice said. "I simply have to wait. Do you feel the pain, Greene?" he asked.
Greene gasped as the pain intensified. He clutched his chest. "Aye. What are you doing to me?"
"I'm killing you, Greene," the voice said. "Once you're dead, I'll be able to get the land back for nothing."
Jason leapt from loft and went to his father's side. "Father, can you hear me? Are you ill?"
Greene grasped the boy's arm. "Barnabas Collins," he managed. "Witchcraft. Must tell-" he had another, deeper pain. "Tell Reverend Trask. Must be- destroyed." He looked past the boy, and his eyes widened in terror as he saw something there.
Jason looked behind him, but there was nothing. "Father-" he said, turning back. But Amos Greene was dead.
Jason backed away from the body, frightened. What had his father told him to do? Trask. Lamar's father. The black clad cleric frightened Jason almost as much as the scene before him, but if Barnabas Collins had somehow caused this- then his father had been right. Barnabas Collins would have to pay for his crimes. He turned and ran from the house, toward the village.
The Reverend Trask held the red kerchief to the light once again. If it had indeed belonged to young Castle, then the discovery of it in Barnabas Collins' office was most intriguing. It lent credence to the story Lucy Mitchell had told him. He and Greene had agreed to search Castle's cottage the next morning to see if they could find the kerchief that the young man always carried. But Trask was certain that he was holding that item in his hands. He needed more proof. Accusing a poor serving girl of witchcraft was usually a simple matter. But to accuse someone of Barnabas Collins' standing - one had to be very careful to have all of the evidence necessary to convince the judges -
There was a banging on the door. "Reverend Trask!"
Trask opened the door to reveal a dirty, obviously terrified young man. "Can I help you?"
"I'm - I am Jason Greene, Reverend. My father is -was - Amos Greene."
"Was? What do you mean, was, child?"
Lamar came from his room, wearing a dark robe over his nightshirt. "Jason? What are you doing here?"
More at ease with the son, Jason turned his attention there. "Father's dead, Lamar."
"Amos Greene is dead?" Trask repeated. "What happened, young man?"
"I don't know," Jason said. "But before he died, he told me I was to come to you and tell you something."
"What did he want you to relay to me?"
"He - he accused Barnabas Collins of witchcraft."
Trask's eyes glowed brightly. Could this be what he had been praying for? "Sit down, young man. And tell me everything you remember."
Barnabas was about to leave for the village the next morning when he sighted a carriage on the road. Tossing the reins to the groom, he waited for the coach to draw to a halt. The driver got down and opened the door. "Daniel!"
The young man grinned rather sheepishly. "Cousin Barnabas. I feared that you might have already gone into the village."
"I was about to. I did not expect you for another two days."
"I convinced Harriet to hurry the trip," he confided. "Reminded her that she would be much more comfortable at Collinwood than in an Inn along the way."
There was a flurry of motion in the coach, and Harriet Collins appeared in the door. "Daniel, are you going to help me out, or not?"
Daniel grinned at Barnabas, and then turned to offer his wife a hand. She was as tall as Daniel, with dark blonde hair, brown eyes, and a determined chin. She patted her hair into place, not that it needed it, Barnabas thought. "Cousin Barnabas, may I introduce my wife, Harriet? Harriet, my cousin, Barnabas."
"We've met before," Harriet told him, smiling. "When I was a child."
"Yes," Barnabas confirmed. He turned to the coachman. "Put their cases here, and I'll have someone take them into the house," he said. Then, to Daniel, "Shall we go inside?"
Angelique had seen the coach as well, and had immediately ordered Mrs. Hester to prepare a suite of rooms for the new arrivals, then made herself ready to greet them herself. She was coming downstairs as the door opened and Barnabas entered, followed by Daniel and his new bride. "You can wait in the drawing room while I find my wife," Barnabas was saying.
"That won't be necessary, Barnabas," Angelique told him. Harriet glanced up at her, and Angelique smiled a welcome. "I saw their coach from upstairs. Hello, Daniel."
"Angelique. You look quite well."
"I am, thank you." She turned her attention to Harriet, who had watched her husband's greeting of Angelique carefully.
"This is my wife, Harriet," Daniel said. "My cousin's wife, Angelique."
"Mrs. Collins. Thank you for letting us stay. Daniel was so insistent that we come back here -"
"You didn't want to?" Angelique asked.
"I wasn't certain I could adjust again to living in such an isolated place," Harriet confessed as she moved into the drawing room at Angelique's side. "I've spent most of the last few years in London, with my grandparents. That's where I met Daniel."
Daniel nodded. "I took one look at her, and knew I wanted to marry her," he said. He looked at Barnabas. "If you will excuse me, dearest," he said to Harriet, "I need to discuss some matters with Cousin Barnabas."
Inside the study, Barnabas watched Daniel for a moment. "What happened between yourself and Jeremiah, Daniel?"
"I wish I knew, Cousin," Daniel said, his voice revealing that it was still a painful subject.
"We went directly to London from Boston. He was angry, furious about having to give up Collinwood. He felt that it was his house, that Cousin Joshua should have left it to him, not to you. He insisted that he would find a way to get it back. That is when he fell in with a crowd that I felt uncomfortable with. There were rumors about them, especially the one that promised Jeremiah Collinwood."
"Do you remember the man's name?"
"Nicholas Blair," Daniel said. "Why?"
"Because he's in Collinsport," Barnabas told him, watching his face. "And so is Jeremiah."
Daniel frowned deeply. "Jeremiah - is - in - Collinsport?" He sat down. "Forgive me, Cousin. I hoped never to have to see him again."
"Because you still -"
Daniel sighed heavily. "I will always have those desires, Cousin. But I have chosen to live a more normal life. To have a family, to deny free rein to something that would have eventually destroyed me. Jeremiah was furious with me for choosing this path. He insisted that I would live to regret it, that Harriet was not the woman for me. But I knew that the path Jeremiah was choosing would lead to something - wrong, and turned away from him."
"Then I have nothing to worry about on that subject?"
"I have left that way of life behind me, Cousin," Daniel assured him. "Right now, all I want to do is dedicate my future to my wife and child.-" He looked up. "Did Giles tell you about that?"
"He did. And I can understand your desire that the child be born at Collinwood. But I have other questions, Daniel. About Lucy Mitchell."
Daniel paled. "What about her?"
"Exactly what was her relationship with my uncle?"
"I never really knew what Lucy's feelings were, Cousin. She appeared to dote on Jeremiah - doing whatever he told her to do, never questioning him, but there were times when I wondered who was in charge. Jeremiah -or Lucy. She certainly tried to play at being the mistress of Collinwood for awhile after Cousin Naomi died. And I thought he might take her along when we left. But he told me that he had tired of Lucy-and he needed her here, to keep him informed of what was going on until he could find someway to return to Collinwood."
"Would you be willing to help me lure Jeremiah out of his hiding place, Daniel?" Barnabas asked haltingly. "It could be the difference between his living - or dying."
Daniel frowned yet again. "What do you mean?"
Jeremiah looked at Lucy as she dressed. "Where are you going?"
"I have to meet with Amos Greene," she reminded him, placing a drop of scent on the curve of her breast that was visible above the bodice of her gown. "We are taking his case to the constable."
"I still don't know what Nicholas hopes to gain by this. Greene won't win anything- and this can't hurt Barnabas."
"You think not?" She paused as a knock came on
the door. "Who could that be?" she wondered. "Stay
here," she reminded him.
"Reverend Trask," Lucy said, quickly pulling her shawl across the expanse of skin revealed by her gown. But he had seen the motion, and she thought she saw a glimmer of quickly hidden appreciation in those dark eyes. "I've been forced to take a position at the Eagle Tavern," she explained. "I have to make money to buy medicine for my mother."
"I know this is quite irregular," Trask said, "But I need to speak with you, Miss Mitchell. May I come in?"
Lucy stepped aside. "Has something happened, Reverend?"
"Yes. Would you be willing to testify to the things you told me in court?"
"I don't know, Reverend. Even though I am no longer employed by the Collins family, they could still make it impossible for me to find any work in the area -"
"My dear girl, if you do as I ask, you will find help for yourself and your mother from people grateful that you helped to remove the evil from their midst."
Lucy hesitated. "Has something else happened, Reverend?"
"Of course you would not have yet heard the news," Trask said. "Amos Greene died last evening."
"Mr. Greene? What happened?" she asked, feigning fear. "Was it-"
"His last words accused Barnabas Collins of witchcraft," Trask confirmed. "And I have reason to believe that he was responsible for the death of Henry Castle as well."
"You knew young Castle?"
"We spent some -time together," she admitted. "He was a nice man -"
"Then perhaps you would recognize this -" Trask said, holding out the kerchief.
Lucy gasped. "May I -" She took the red fabric in her hands, held it to her face. "It's his. I recognize his scent on it. And here -" she showed him a corner in the candle light. "His mark. I used to laugh at him about putting it on everything he owned."
Trask took the kerchief and examined the mark, wondering how he could have missed it before. "Would you be willing to testify, Miss Mitchell?" he asked again. "Once we have the witch in custody, you will be safe."
Lucy nodded. "Yes, Reverend Trask, I'll testify."
"Excellent. You will be amply rewarded for your testimony, child," he assured her.
Lucy smiled, aware that he was right. She would be rewarded, but not in the way he meant.
Once Trask was gone, Jeremiah came from the bedroom. "I understand now. Nicholas plans to have Barnabas stand trial as a warlock and be hanged."
"No, Jeremiah, of course not. Nicholas intends that Barnabas will escape from his imprisonment and have no choice but to leave Collinwood for regions unknown, taking his dear wife and children with him."
Jeremiah looked at her. "You're lying to me."
"No, I'm not. Don't you think that Nicholas knows that you don't want anything to happen to Barnabas? Don't you want Collinwood, Jeremiah? Don't you want to be back where you belong?"
"You know I do, Lucy. And you'll be there with me," he said, pulling her against him. "As my wife, I hope."
"Mistress of Collinwood," she sighed. "I have to go."
"Greene's dead," he reminded her. "Where are you going now?"
"To see Nicholas. I have to tell him what's going
Sarah shook her head as Harriet walked away on her husband's arm. "She hasn't changed. She's still as haughty as ever. Imagine telling me that I need polish before attending a London Season. And she only a chandler's daughter!"
Giles laughed softly. "It's Daniel I pity. He's never going to make her happy, I should think. Even Collinwood isn't enough for her. And when that child is born, he will no doubt never get close to her again if she doesn't regain her girlish figure."
Sarah laughed too. "You're right about that. Poor Daniel." She looked up at him. "Giles, what did Barnabas want to talk to you about earlier?"
"Nothing. He's simply concerned about this matter with Mr. Greene -and the complications that could ensue due to your Uncle Jeremiah's return."
"I wish he would give up this plan to get Collinwood back," she said. "I think I feel sorriest for Uncle Jeremiah than anyone else."
"Don't," Giles admonished. "Jeremiah has
brought everything on himself."
Barnabas, feeling that the house was too full, found himself out on the grounds, walking. Looking up, he saw that he was near the Old House. Smiling, he neared it, only to pause upon seeing a glimmer of movement on the porch. Josette. She was beckoning to him, beckoning him to the Old House.
He took a step, and then came to a halt as he heard someone on the path behind him. "Barnabas?"
She took his arm. "You disappeared from the house and I couldn't find you. If it hadn't been for Ben and Deborah seeing you go this way -"
"I just needed a few minutes away from things, to think," he told her, his gaze on the Old House again.
Angelique saw his distraction, and followed his gaze. "What's wrong, Barnabas?"
"I thought I saw -" he stopped. "Never mind."
But Angelique looked again. "She is there," she told him. "Still beckoning."
"Would you mind-"
"Not alone," she told him. "I don't want you to go in there alone, Barnabas."
"Then I won't," he told her, taking her hand in his to move forward.
Inside the old mansion, Barnabas felt Josette's presence immediately. And so did Angelique. She moved into the parlour and stood there. "Why did you send for us, Josette?" she asked.
"To warn you," Josette said, appearing at last.
Angelique whirled, as did Barnabas. "Warn us?" Barnabas asked.
"There is great danger - to all who bear the Collins name."
"Yes. We know of the danger," Angelique told her. "A curse -"
"A curse that will be fulfilled," Josette said. "Protect the children. Keep them safe."
"You know I will," Angelique assured her. "Can't you tell us more, Josette?"
"I know only that the danger will separate you from each other. Perhaps for eternity."
"Never," Barnabas said. "Can you name the danger, Josette? Tell us -"
She shook her head, her image fading. "I cannot say more. I cannot -" she was gone.
Angelique found herself held tightly in Barnabas' arms. "Let's go home," he said. "And then I will find somewhere to send you and the children until this is over. Perhaps London -"
"No, Barnabas," she insisted. "I will not leave. Do not worry about me. No one suspects what I am. Trask will leave Collinsport soon, and then we will find a way to deal with Nicholas and his bargain with Jeremiah."
They started back toward Collinwood. "Daniel has agreed to help me lure Jeremiah out."
"What about Lucy? She isn't going to let him leave."
"That's where Deborah comes in," Barnabas told her.
"What do you mean you're going to send a note to Lucy?" Ben asked, watching Deborah seal the letter.
"The Countess told me that they need to get to Mr. Jeremiah," Deborah explained. "And to do that, they need to get Lucy out of the way. So I asked Mr. Barnabas if I could be of any help. He asked me if I had a way to Lucy out of the cottage for a while."
"You're gonna meet her somewhere?"
"In the garden," Deborah said.
"I'm going to ask if we can be friends, because I'm worried about her mother."
"She won't leave it at that," Ben insisted. "She'll try to do something."
Deborah placed a hand on his cheek, smiling at him. "I shall keep an image of you in my mind," she told him. "And she'll have no hold on me. Please trust me, Ben. It is important that I do this."
Ben pulled her into his arms for a kiss. "Just so you don't forget," he mumbled.
"I would never forget you, Ben," Deborah assured
him. "I love you."