Smoke and fire...
It gagged her, choking her, sending pain through every
inch of her.
Hands reached out of the smoke. Healing hands.
"Wake now, for the time is not yet right..."
Hannah Chaffee put her hand to her aching head,
wondering who had spoken to her. The voice was familiar, but lost in
memory. Every muscle throbbed at her simple motion. Her skin burned. Oh,
no, she could not be sick. Not now. Others in the English settlement of
Kickemuit had become ill during the spring, and they had slowly recovered.
But others had families to help with the work and the planting. She had no
one to help her in the tavern.
When her hand was drawn away, she murmured a protest,
then sighed as a damp cloth was placed on her forehead. Its coolness was
heavenly. She wanted to thank Mrs. Hubbard, who must have come to check on
her. In the small settlement west of Plymouth Colony, Mrs. Hubbard was the
only woman who did not look down on Hannah for running the tavern. What
else did the rest of the women think she should do? With her father’s
death, the tavern had been his only bequest. Another pulse of dismay
racked her skull. She could not open the tavern if she was so ill. She
must keep it open. She had promised Papa at his bedside as he died that
she would. And she had, no matter how she was looked down upon by the
women of the village, even as so many of their men came to the tavern to
share gossip and a pint of ale. Or maybe the women hated her because the
men spent many evenings at the tavern.
If she had not promised Papa that she would keep the
tavern open, she would have left it and the settlement right after his
death, for she tired of being denounced by the town’s pastor and so many
others in Kickemuit. But a promise was a promise, and she could not break
"Wake slowly," a woman whispered.
The words wound through Hannah’s head, as soothing as
the cloth. She did want to wake slowly. Too many mornings, after too many
long nights serving rum and ale, she had had to force herself to rise from
bed. To linger was delicious.
"You have been very ill, but you shall be better
soon," continued the woman’s consoling voice.
Yes, she would be better soon. She must be. She must
make sure the tavern was open. Now, more than ever, when rumors of war
were whispered every night in the tavern, the men needed a place to come
and talk. Papa had told her so often that talking like that could be the
very thing to make the anger dissipate, so an uneasy peace was maintained
between the English settlers and the Wampanoag.
"Can you open your eyes?"
Hannah was certain she could. How difficult could such
a simple, commonplace motion be? She concentrated on her eyelids, silently
ordering them to rise. Even the thought added to the ache in her head.
Light struck her eyes. Dull light filtered through an
uncaulked wall. She started to frown, but halted when pain stabbed right
behind her forehead. Blinking, she tried to focus her eyes.
They widened as she lifted her heavy arm to touch the
wall beside her. Bulrushes crackled as her fingers brushed them. She
followed the woven mats up the curved wall to the top of the dome. It was
so far above her head that she knew instantly she was lying on a low bed
only a few inches off the ground.
A weeto! She had not been in one of the Wampanoag
summer homes since before Papa had become ill with the wasting sickness.
Not since before...before he died. Another beat of pain scored her, but
this came from within her heart.
"You are awake!" The woman’s voice was
filled with relief.
Hannah choked back her amazement as she realized the
woman was speaking in the language of the Wampanoag. How was this
possible? The Wampanoag village was forbidden to all the English settlers,
even to her. Yet she was within a weeto, and the woman used the words
which Hannah had learned at the same time she learned English.
Nothing made sense. She sought in her memory, but the
last thing she could recall was telling Zeke Arliss last night she would
not marry him. He had asked at least once a week since her father’s
death earlier in the spring. Dear Zeke was a friend, but she did not want
to wed the balding tanner, even though the match would have turned the
scorn in the settlement to acceptance. Or would he be ostracized as well
because his wife worked in the tavern? So often he came to the tavern,
knowing she would listen to the tales of his day. And he most definitely
needed a wife. Last night, the button on one knee of his breeches had been
undone and his stocking sagging. Another button was missing from his
waistcoat. But, if that had been last night, how had she come here?
Forcing her head to turn on the soft pile of pelts took
more strength than she had anticipated. She stared up into a wrinkled
face. The totem engraved into the old woman’s cheek was lost among lines
of age. This woman seemed no bigger than a child as she knelt by the bed.
Necklaces made of shells and beads fell across her naked chest.
Who was she? Hannah had never seen her before this
moment, and she had been certain she knew everyone in the Wampanoag
village that shared the peninsula with the English settlement of Kickemuit.
The women in that village had come to appreciate English homespun and
always wore shirts over their buckskin skirts.
"Who—?" Her voice creaked like the leather
hinges on the door to her bedroom.
A broad smile matched the joy in the old woman’s eyes
as she put her hand on Hannah’s. "Dearest child, welcome
"Home?" She moaned as the word impaled itself
in her head. No, she would not surrender to this pain. She had to know
what was going on. Nothing made sense. "This isn’t my home."
"You do speak our words."
"Yes, but where am I?"
"Do not strain yourself with questions now."
The old woman lifted the cloth from Hannah’s head. Dipping it into a
bowl by her side, she twisted the buckskin before smoothing it back over
Hannah’s forehead. Cool drips ran along Hannah’s cheek as the old
woman said, "You must rest, Seaki."
"Seaki? I am—"
"You are Seaki. Ousamequin, he whom you have come
to call brother, brought you to be my daughter." Her smile was
Hannah could not return it as she tried to sort out the
confusion in her head. Her brother was not named Ousamequin. When she and
her father had been adopted into the Wampanoag clan in thanks for helping
nurse their friends through smallpox, she had already known each of the
siblings and many cousins she gained, for they had been her friends since
she had been the first English child born in Kickemuit. Ousamequin? No,
her brother was Ashpelon.
"Who are you?" Maybe if she could be certain
of one fact, she could guess how she had come here when she should be in
her own room over the tavern in Kickemuit.
"Quiapen, your mother."
"My mother?" She had not thought this could
get any more baffling, but she had been wrong. Her English mother had died
so many years ago Hannah could no longer recall her face. Her adopted
Wampanoag mother was years younger than this bent woman. She tried to push
herself up to sit. With a groan, she fell back into the pelts.
"You are distressing yourself, daughter." Fur
tickled Hannah’s chin as the old woman tucked a bearskin around her and
smiled. "You must rest. You have been ill."
Rest? Not until she had some answers, but where to
begin? She took a deep breath, then asked, "What clan lives in this
Hannah ignored the pain that clawed at her skull as she
managed to sit up. The clan of the deer? This was all wrong. Her adoptive
family was of the clan of Mishquashin, the fox. Cradling her head in her
hands, she whispered, "Where am I?"
"The village of Acoomemeck. You—" Her kind
voice broke into laughter as light pierced through Hannah’s eyes when
the door flap opened. "Come and sit higher up while you welcome your
cousin home. Seaki is awake!"
All the questions Hannah wanted to ask went unanswered
as she was surrounded by a half dozen people, each one eager to greet her
and wish her well on her recovery. Quickly she realized she had been
brought here to replace Quiapen’s dead daughter. But why? Although it
had long been the way of the Wampanoag to take captives into their clans
to fill empty places in families, that explained nothing. She should not
be a captive. She should be welcomed as the member of an allied clan.
She looked past the women to scan each male face. They
were all too young to be warriors. Where was Ousamequin? Why had he
brought her here?
When the clatter of voices battered her head, she was
unable to silence her moan. Quiapen shooed the others out of the weeto,
then came back to the low bed platform. Hannah wanted to ask the questions
plaguing her, but she was given no chance as a bowl was held to her lips.
The luscious smell of herbs surged over her, and she drank. As sleep
enfolded her, she gave herself gladly to the surcease of pain and the
questions no one had answered.
The aroma of venison cooking and the sizzling of juices
on hot stones tempted Hannah to open her eyes. Her stomach rumbled, and
she wondered when she had last eaten. Breathing a prayer as she turned her
head on the pelts, she was astounded to discover the pain had eased. She
touched her forehead. The fever was gone. Her chemise clung to her body
with sweat. She must be getting well.
A fire pit was set in the center of the earthen floor.
It could have been the familiar weeto of her adopted family, save there
were only two bed frames along the curved walls, and the cooking pots were
piled neatly in one corner.
Her eyes widened when she saw the ceremonial mantle
hanging at the back of the weeto. The work was exquisite, for the pattern
of a fox’s face was embroidered with beads into the deerskin. Fox tails
at its hem would brush against the legs on every step. It was a handsome
garment, and only a warrior could claim it.
But what was it doing here if this was the home of the
clan of the deer? Nothing made sense.
"How do you fare, child?" Quiapen whispered
as she came to kneel by the bed frame.
"I shall be fine."
"When you have rested more."
"No, I must learn—oh!" As she struggled to
sit, cold droplets oozed down Hannah’s back, lathering her chemise more
tightly to her skin, but the weeto no longer wobbled before her eyes. She
smoothed her homespun skirt over her knees and frowned. It was tattered
and burned. She always was careful near the hearth. What had happened? She
had to know.
She placed her feet on the floor and stood. Pain raced
up her left leg, blinding her with hot tears. She leaned her hands against
the saplings beneath the curved wall and tried to catch her breath. Every
motion added to the torment.
"Seaki, you push yourself too hard. You are a
stubborn child." Compassion filled Quiapen’s voice as her gnarled
hands settled on Hannah’s shoulders. "Sit, and let me bring you
some succotash to ease your empty stomach."
"Yes..." She would agree to anything to
escape this agony. She put her hand on Quiapen’s arm and winced as
another heated blade of pain slashed up her leg.
Quiapen slid her hand over Hannah’s to steady her.
"Let me help you. I will—" Her fingers bit into Hannah’s arm
as a hint of breeze rushed into the weeto. "Maugin!"
Hannah tried to turn and collapsed onto the bed. She
stared at the man in the low doorway. His sleek black hair drifted past
his shoulders, bound only by a beaded band across his forehead. Two eagle
feathers—each a symbol, she knew, of an enemy slain in battle—hung
from the band. Draped over his left shoulder, a buckskin mantle, which was
decorated with embroidery edged with dyed porcupine quills, accented his
lean strength. Even without the feathers, she would have guessed him to be
a respected warrior, for he carried himself with pride.
His narrowed eyes twinkled like twin stars. The symbol
of a fox was tattooed on his left cheek, and she guessed the mantle with
the fox on it must be his. Muscles moved smoothly across his bare abdomen
and along his legs, which were naked from his knee-high leggings to the
cloth covering his loins. The scents of the tanned buckskin of his cloak
along with the heavy odor of bear grease in his hair washed over her, no
longer bringing the comfort of familiarity they had when she was a child.
This was the clothing of a man who traveled through the
forest. She dampened her lips when she saw the weapons in his hand and
slung across his back. If he had been hunting, why did he not carry a bag
to bring meat back to the weeto? He should be presenting it to the old
woman for her to prepare. But why was Quiapen of the deer clan in this
Nothing made sense.
Shrugging off the quiver, he leaned his flintlock
against the door. Three boys followed him in, chattering like crows
circling a cornfield. A fleeting smile teased his lips as he patted the
cheek of one of the lads, then turned to Quiapen. The old woman touched
his arm with a fondness that spoke of a long friendship.
"Do you bring good tidings?" called one of
the boys. "Are the English scurrying about like ants whose hill has
"English?" Hannah asked. "What has
The man named Maugin crossed the weeto in a pair of
steps and drew Hannah to her feet. "Who are you?"
"Hannah Chaffee." Trying to ignore the pain
in her leg and how her head spun, she whispered, "That is my English
name. Among the Wampanoag, I am called Hannah Netop."
His eyes became obsidian slits. "Hannah Netop? You
are that Englishwoman?"
Before Hannah could answer, Quiapen said, "You
mistake her for another, Maugin. You call her ‘Netop,’ but she
is not a friend. She is my daughter Seaki."
Hannah gasped when Maugin flinched. Looking from
Quiapen’s smile to his suddenly blank face, she whispered, "What is
He ignored her questions as he said to Quiapen,
"This is not She Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken."
The short woman put her hands on her round hips and
stuck her chin out at him in defiance. "This is the one who has come
to be my daughter Seaki."
Hannah studied one stern face, then the other. She had
guessed correctly. She had been brought here to replace Quiapen’s child
who had died. From the moment of death until the deceased was replaced by
one adopted into the clan, that person’s name must never be spoken. That
would be disrespectful of the dead. Hannah understood that tradition. She
just did not understand what she was doing here.
Maugin frowned at her, then at Quiapen. "You are
confused. I have heard of this woman. She is—"
"My daughter Seaki."
"—of the settlement the English call Kickemuit,"
he continued as if Quiapen had not interrupted. "What is she doing
"Ousamequin brought her to soothe an old woman’s
"Ousamequin? He brought her here?"
Hannah asked, "Will you answer my questions?"
His scowl did not waver. "I wish to listen to
Quiapen now, not to you."
"Then do not listen to me." She tried to pull
away. He held her with no apparent effort, so she added, "But I shall
speak my mind. What is happening? You carry weapons, but bring no food.
"Because I have not been hunting meat."
Hannah stared at him, not wanting to voice the
appalling, unspeakable suspicion in her head. For the past two months, men
had been coming into the tavern with only one subject on their minds—when
the peace between the English and the Wampanoag would be broken and where.
"Is there war?"
His voice remained even, but she heard the tension as
he said, "You shall remain silent, Hannah Netop."
Quiapen snapped, "Do not speak to my daughter that
way! You have always treated my family with respect."
"Your family?" He laughed tersely. "She
is of the clan of Mishquashin. Tell her, Hannah Netop."
"I thought you wished me to be silent."
Hannah winced as he released her and she put weight on her left ankle. An
ember of fiery pain burst in it. She dropped onto the bed. Tears filled
her eyes. Biting her lip and grasping her leg as if her fingers could be a
tourniquet to curb the agony, she tried to silence the sobs that would
"What is wrong, daughter?" gasped Quiapen.
"My ankle," she whispered. "It
"How did you hurt it?" the old woman asked.
"I don’t know. I—" She faltered when her
eyes were caught by Maugin’s. If he thought she was lying, he was wrong.
Putting her hand to her temple, she willed to come forth the memories of
the time between bidding Zeke good night and waking in this weeto. "I
really do not know."
"My poor child!"
"Enough," Maugin grumbled. He knelt beside
Hannah and flipped a section of her skirt aside.
She slapped his hand. Pushing her skirt back into
place, she glowered at him, her fury at this stranger’s presumption
overwhelming her anguish. He reached for her skirt again. With a curse,
she grabbed the knife from his belt. She raised it between them. Its brass
blade flashed in the light from the fire pit.
"Leave me alone," she ordered softly.
"Whatever touches me, you shall lose!"
Laughter met her words. Not from Maugin or Quiapen, but
from the young men in the weeto. She did not lower her gaze from Maugin’s
amused eyes. If she faltered, even for a moment, he might—
Her wrist was caught in a vise of flesh. She fought to
hold the knife up. It wobbled in her numb fingers. His expression did not
alter as the blade dropped to the ground beside him.
"Why do you fear help?" he asked calmly.
"I do not want you touching me." She winced,
then went on, "If there is war—"
"Why do you pretend not to know what you should
know very well, for your village bore the brunt of the attack?"
"The Wampanoag village or Kickemuit?"
She pressed her hand over her mouth. "Dear God,
"No gods can halt what men have done to claim this
land, Hannah Netop of the clan of Mishquashin."
Quiapen said, "Maugin, her name is—"
"Something we should not concern ourselves with
while we tend to her injuries." He arched a single ebony brow toward
Hannah. "Can I check your ankle without losing my fingers?"
She nodded, hoping no color marked the heat of
embarrassment across her cheeks. She had insulted Maugin. He was as
confused as she was.
The brawny length of his arm brushed her thigh as he
pushed her torn skirt aside again. Hannah heard Quiapen gasp with dismay,
but could not draw her eyes away from Maugin’s as he looked up at her.
Potent emotions stormed in his eyes. She could not guess what he was
thinking, save for his shock of discovering her here. That she understood
She recoiled when he touched her ankle, but his fingers
were gentle. Even so, her leg ached worse than her head had in the midst
of the fever.
When he turned to Quiapen, Hannah’s shoulders sagged.
She was free from his compelling gaze. She looked down at her left ankle.
It was swollen and a furious purple and black. How had she hurt it? She
must have been fleeing Kickemuit and the attack. Had anyone else needed to
escape? Again her breath caught. Had anyone there died?
Before she could ask, Quiapen said, "No, I did not
check her ankle." She wrung her hands as she bent to stare at the
discolored skin. "I thought only of easing the fire on her skin. I
will not lose her again."
"You have no need for a cripple to fill your hours
with more work." He picked up his knife.
Fear congealed within Hannah. "Maugin, don’t
"Kill you?" He laughed without humor.
"The Wampanoag do not slay their own."
She hesitated, then said, "Forgive me. I thought,
if there is war—"
"Why do you doubt the truth?"
"I do not want to believe what you say."
"That does not make it less truthful."
"Nor does it make it less truthful that the
Wampanoag do not raise their weapons against their own people."
"I thought," she whispered, lowering her
eyes, "things might have changed."
"Some things must never change."
"That can wait until your ankle is tended
to." He sliced through the piece of buckskin that Quiapen had been
using to cool her forehead. He cut it into several strips. Dipping them in
a bowl of water by the bed platform, he wrapped the pieces around her
ankle loosely, for, as it dried, the buckskin would shrink and provide
support for her ankle.
"Speak to me of what you have seen, Maugin. Tell
me of the war." Hannah almost choked on the words.
"You are lucky to be alive, for nothing remains of
your tavern but cooling ashes."
She searched her mind. No trace of memory confirmed his
words. Touching the scorched mark on her sleeve, she blinked back tears.
He slipped the knife into its sheath on his beaded
belt, then lowered her ankle carefully to the earth. "That should
"Thank you." As she looked into his eyes,
which were even with hers, she whispered, "I am sorry if I offended
you with my unthinking words."
"A warrior does not slay the innocent or the
"That," Quiapen chided, "is no way to
speak to your wife."
"Wife?" Hannah stiffened. "Whose
"Mine, Quiapen seems to believe," Maugin
said, frowning at the old woman.
"No!" cried Hannah. Suddenly she understood
what she should have from the beginning. Unsettled, and her brain slowed
by the fever, she had not seen the truth right in front of her.
Quiapen of the clan of Attuck-quoch would share the
weeto of Maugin of the clan of Mishquashin if Quiapen’s daughter had
become Maugin’s wife. Now Quiapen claimed Hannah was to replace her
daughter...and Maugin’s wife. This could not be happening! Her heart
faltered as she realized she must be sitting on Maugin’s bed, the bed he
would expect her to share with him. She would not be his wife! She could
not be his wife. They were of the same clan, prohibited to wed as if they
were brother and sister. Pushing herself to her feet, she swayed.
He stood. His arm slipped around her waist. She pushed
on his shoulders, then shrieked as she put weight onto her left foot.
Darkness nibbled at her eyes, and she fought for breath when the cool,
rough length of his bare skin brushed her. Leaning against him, for she
could not stand alone, she rode out the wave of pain like a ship tossed on
a vicious sea. The aroma of his skin flavored every breath she took, and,
beneath her ear, she could hear his heart beating more slowly than hers.
His thumb under her chin tipped her face up toward his.
She wanted to avoid his ebony eyes, but his gaze held her. She must look
away. She tried and failed, for her gaze was drawn back to his as he swept
his arm under her knees and lifted her off her aching foot.
"I wish to speak with my wife alone." Maugin
paid no attention to the jests and chuckles of his young cousins as they
bent to go out the door. If they thought he wished to be alone with Hannah
Netop—What a foolish name that was!—so he could seduce her, they were
His gaze wandered along her slender form, which was so
intriguingly revealed by her limp and torn English dress. Unrestrained,
her red hair tumbled, tangled and enticing, to pool behind her on the bed
as he set her on it again. Her left cheek was shadowed by dirt or a
bruise, but it only accented the gentle curves of her face. Although her
chin was raised in defiance, dismay and puzzlement had stolen the
brightness from her blue eyes.
She was lovely. As his fingers recalled her satiny skin
against them, desire swelled across him. How easy it would be to press her
into his bed and forget in her softness the horror of the war.
He walked away and closed the door flap. Sitting in
front of the bed platform again, he watched as a jumble of emotions flew
across her face. She was frightened and confused. The latter he understood
all too well, for not a single of the reasons he had been given for
setting off on this war was enough to bring an end to the peace the
English and the Wampanoag had enjoyed for more than fifty years.
When Metacomet, the leader of the Wampanoag, had called
his allies to his village earlier in the spring, Maugin had known the
English had been wise not to trust him. Although they once had given
Metacomet the name of King Philip as a sign of friendship, that amity had
been crushed beneath the heels of those who craved to control all the land
between the sea and the land of the Iroquois. Metacomet wanted war, so he
could reclaim the lands the English had negotiated away through treaties
with his father. The target of his fury was the small English settlement
which was only a short walk from his own village. He had wanted Kickemuit
destroyed as a warning to the rest of the English. Most especially, he had
wanted to obliterate the tavern which the English had forced its owner,
whose English name was Hannah Chaffee, to close to the Wampanoag. He had
derided her as Hannah Netop, who no longer deserved to be named
"friend" by the Wampanoag.
All of Maugin’s efforts to entreat the warriors to
heed the advice of cooler heads had been futile. The war had come. Its
first victim had been the English tavern, but that did not explain why
Hannah Netop had been brought a hard day’s walk from Kickemuit to his
He frowned. Not a year had passed since he had
blackened his face with charcoal to mourn for She Whose Name Could Not Be
Spoken as he watched her corpse placed within the ground in a grave as
barren of life as the void within him.
"Maugin, tell me what you have seen," Hannah
Netop whispered, drawing his eyes back to her baffled frown.
He was startled. He had not guessed her first words
would be of her concern for others. He had thought she would continue to
argue that she could not be his wife. "I must speak to my sachem
before anyone else."
"Did you see what happened to my tavern and my
Wampanoag family…and my English neighbors?"
Had he heard a hesitation in her voice before she spoke
of her neighbors? Why would she care less for them? She had obeyed their
edicts to close the tavern to her Wampanoag clan. "Your home is here
now, it would seem."
Her hands moved toward him, then pulled back tightly
against her breast. "You know that I cannot be Quiapen’s
"And my wife Seaki."
"I am Hannah Chaffee!"
"You have many names, Hannah Netop." He
laughed, but halted when he saw it further disconcerted her. "Soon
you will have no name but Seaki of the clan of Attuck-quoch."
"The adoption rite has not been celebrated. There
is still time to end this with the truth that I am of your clan. You know
that I am Hannah Netop of the clan of Mishquashin."
He frowned. She was right, although already Quiapen had
welcomed her as a replacement for his dead wife. Another pang of pain cut
through him as fiercely as a flintlock ball. He had spoken his wife’s
name. To interfere with the adoption would curse the memory of the woman
he had believed would sleep by his side for many years to come.
She clenched the edge of the bed platform. "Maugin,
I saw your reaction to Quiapen’s announcement. Even if we were not
members of the same clan, you wish this no more than I do. Give me a
chance to rest my ankle. Then I shall leave."
"Where will you go?"
"Home? It is gone."
"Your home was burned, I have heard."
"Burned? You must let me leave, so I can see that
for myself," she whispered, clearly distraught at the news.
"And then what?"
"My neighbors would not turn me away." She
lowered her eyes, and he wondered if she was afraid that she was wrong. No
Wampanoag warrior had boasted of torching the building. Maybe one of the
English had seen a chance to rid the settlement of the tavern that had
been the flashpoint of so much anger.
He shook his head. "Many wait in the woods who
would see you dead."
"I do not speak of them."
"Then speak of the Wampanoag. As you reminded me,
the Wampanoag do not kill their own people."
"But are you of the Wampanoag still?"
Her face blanched. "What do you mean?"
"Our leader Metacomet has decreed your adoption
into the clan of Mishquashin was a mistake. With the coming of war, he
would gladly see you dead as an Englishwoman."
She smiled coldly. "And what will he think when he
hears of me being adopted again?"
Rising, he put his hands on her shoulders. "You
were captured. A captive can be adopted or put to death. Which would you
Hannah fisted her hands at her sides. "Do you wish
me to say I would select death over being your wife? That is not so. I
would choose life. Once my ankle is healed, I shall leave you, so you may
seek another wife."
"You know the ways of the Wampanoag well."
"I know I need not do more than leave this weeto
to end this unwanted marriage between us."
"Then who will have you? Who will guard you when
so many wish you dead?" He leaned her back against the buckskin on
the bed platform. "No Wampanoag, and certainly no Englishman."
As his hands slipped along her shoulders to frame her
face, she stared up at him. She wanted to deny his words, but knew they
were true. She also wanted to deny the flush of heat rushing through her
from beneath his fingertips. It was even more impossible. Was it the fever
returning, or—No, she did not want to think that his touch could awaken
such sweet fires. He was a stranger, a man she knew nothing of, a man who
would be her husband if nothing was done to halt this adoption.
"The English settlers will welcome me home,"
"Or are they glad you have vanished? You no longer
present a voice of restraint when they want this war as much as Metacomet."
Hannah looked away from his direct gaze again. Too many
among the English would be celebrating that the tavern had been destroyed,
and she was gone along with it. Or would they? She and the tavern had been
despised by many of the English, but the Wampanoags were even more
hated...and feared. She shuddered. That she had been adopted into a
Wampanoag clan had been another reason for many to abhor her, but she
would not deny what she had been. That would mean disavowing everything
her fathers—both English and Wampanoag—had taught her about thinking
first and always of her obligation to her family.
"I cannot say with certainty what the English
thought when they discovered the tavern was burned to the ground."
His eyes narrowed, and she suspected he was well aware
of the simmering hatred toward the tavern and her from every side.
"It matters little, for you are English no longer. It would seem you
are Seaki, my wife." He stood and went to the door.
He turned, and again she saw the flash of grief in his
eyes. His abrupt anger had come from the frustration of unending
heartache, she feared. Holding out her hand to him, she whispered, "Kutchímmoke."
He flinched when she spoke the traditional phrase of
sympathy. "You know too much of our ways, Hannah Netop."
"I know I am sorry to remind you of your sadness
at the death of She Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken."
He pressed her hand to his cheek and knelt again by the
bed platform. "You do not remind me of it, for it never strays from
my heart." Glancing at the door, he murmured, "With the coming
of war, more will die. This sorrow will infect the land, stealing the joy
from every heart."
"It must be stopped. Or is it too late?"
"That I must learn. This victory was easy, but
will others be?" Again he stood. He took a deep breath and released
it slowly through his clenched teeth. "Stay here while I get an
explanation from Ousamequin." He put his hand on her shoulder.
"Do not be foolish and try to flee. Quiapen does not need to mourn
her daughter’s death again."
"I am no fool, Maugin," she whispered, but
she was unsure if he heard her, for he walked out, letting the flap fall
back across the door to leave her alone with a single question.
Why couldn’t she remember the attack on Kickemuit?