An Uncertain Destiny is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692--the year of the Witchcraft Trials. I studied this period in college, drawn in morbid fascination to a time in our history when common sense took a backseat to rampant persecution. Far two many innocent women...and a few men...were sentenced to death on flimsy evidence by representatives of a society held in the grip of fear. Seems impossible to believe anything like this could ever happen again, right? Wrong. I'm afraid this wasn't the last time Americans succumbed to fear induced stupidity. Look at the McCarthy Era when thousands of US citizens were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers. Committees were set up and aggressive investigations launched. Craziness targeting innocents. In today's world, I see the same trend developing, this time directed toward Muslims with the insane assumption (in some quarters) that they're all terrorists. Have people not learned anything from history? Sadly, I'm afraid they haven't and never will.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. I promised an excerpt. This one shows Megan standing up to her accusers, showing her strength in the face of fear. I hope you'll appreciate her bravery!
Slowly, Megan came to her feet. “Can I not speak in my own defense?” Her voice rose clear and strong. Anger stiffened her spine.
“You would be well advised to admit to the charges and plead with the good Lord for forgiveness. It’s the only way to save your soul.”
“But I haven’t harmed anyone.”
The magistrate’s eyes narrowed. “We saw you remove your vile spell from the child.”
She clenched her hands together until her knuckles turned white. “Penny wasn’t under a spell. She’s just a frightened little girl…and it isn’t me she’s afraid of.”
Hathorne leaped from his chair, his eyes flashing. “Are you saying there’s another witch present? Point her out to this court.”
Megan looked around the room full of sanctimonious people who, only days ago, had howled in approval while a woman met her death. Hate burned deep inside her and fed the fire of her anger. Her gaze passed over Penny, clinging to her father, and settled on Elsa. Loathing for this mean-spirited woman welled up until she nearly choked on it. Behind her sat Hunter Caldwell, grinning in triumph. Hate ate at Megan’s soul as she stared him in the eye. It was a small victory when his pupils dilated, and he averted his gaze.
On the other side of the room, Charity, Sarah and Fern huddled close together. With pale, tear-streaked faces, they clasped hands in a show of unity. Nearby Duncan gripped the seatback in front of him, his face red with barely controlled rage. Last of all, she looked into Nicholas’ eyes, usually so full of life and confidence. Today they held only despair that tore at her heart.
She turned back to face the magistrates. “There are no witches here. I can’t name one when none exist.” She tilted her chin. “I’m no more guilty of witchcraft than you, and a lot less guilty of sin. My conscience is clean.” She swung around in her seat and raised her voice. “Can the rest of you say the same?”