The Devil’s Glove
by Lucretia Grindle
Northern New England, summer, 1688.
Salem started here.
A suspicious death. A rumor of war. Whispers of witchcraft.
Perched on the brink of disaster, Resolve Hammond and her mother, Deliverance, struggle to survive in their isolated coastal village. They’re known as healers taught by the local tribes – and suspected of witchcraft by the local villagers.
Their precarious existence becomes even more chaotic when summoned to tend to a poisoned woman. As they uncover a web of dark secrets, rumors of war engulf the village, forcing the Hammonds to choose between loyalty to their native friends or the increasingly terrified settler community.
As Resolve is plagued by strange dreams, she questions everything she thought she knew – about her family, her closest friend, and even herself. If the truth comes to light, the repercussions will be felt far beyond the confines of this small settlement.
Based on meticulous research and inspired by the true story of the fear and suspicion that led to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, THE DEVIL’S GLOVE is a tale of betrayal, loyalty, and the power of secrets. Will Resolve be able to uncover the truth before the town tears itself apart, or will she become the next victim of the village’s dark and mysterious past?
Praise for The Devil’s Glove:
“From its opening lines this historical novel from Grindle (Villa Triste) grips with its rare blend of a powerfully evoked past, resonant characters, smart suspense, and prose touched with shivery poetry.”
~ BookLife Reviews Editor’s Pick
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Universal Link: The Devil’s Glove
Enjoy an excerpt:
There has never been a time when I have not known Captain Alden. When they first came from Jersey, my parents settled near his people. My parents’ name then was Hamon, Rachel and James. Understanding that in this new world it was best to rid themselves of any whisper of French, they became Hammond, which was what I was born. Susannah Hammond, in the Year of Our Lord, 1671. The first shell inside a shell.
Later, when my parents decided we would come north to the Eastward, my mother scented the wind again and decided that our path might be smoothed if she took the Puritan name Deliverance, and gave me Resolve. With no ordained minister so no baptism, who was to know we had not always been so? Even Judah Lablanc, as she was when she set sail from Jersey, turned herself into Judah White when she came here. Ridges of change rise and close around us. In this new place, we became new again, and my father became a trading partner of Captain John Alden.
Suddenly, I am gripped by the idea that this is why he has come. That there are letters. Or even news that my father is on his way back to us. But one moment standing in the doorway, the sun warm on my back, my hand resting on the jamb, tells me this is not so. My mother’s face is grave and, unusually, Captain Alden’s is even graver. Neither of them look at me. I am not even sure they notice me.
“Madockawando,” my mother says.
It’s only half a question. Captain Alden shakes his head, then nods, as if he cannot make up his mind, or both things are true at once. Sighing, he slumps into a chair. His long legs in their scuffed boots stretch almost to the ashes of last night’s fire.
“No,” he says. “But, yes. And Andros bears his part in this as well.” He smiles, but his smile is tired. “He’s stubborn, our good Governor Andros. Try as I might to convince him that he is not the biggest spider, and is in fact facing a master-spider, and a web he may not see but will soon feel is being woven around him, I cannot. So, yes. This is an answer. A slap for a slap.”
I know now what he is talking about, or at least part of it. This past spring, before he left for New York where he has been all summer, Governor Andros raised men and sailed north. The French hold Acadia, and one of them, Saint Castin, lives with the sachem Madockawando’s people and, John Alden says, is married to Madockawando’s daughter. Which makes Saint Castin both things, French and ‘savage’ at once. Seeing an opportunity to teach France a lesson and to deal a blow to Madockawando at the same time, last spring Andros attacked The Pentagoet.
Said to be built on a bluff above a steep passage guarded by winds and currents that make it difficult, if not impossible, to sail into, Madockawando’s stronghold is legendary. Some say it is guarded by a sea monster the Indians can summon, or by vapors they command – a shield of mist that drops down and swallows the Pentagoet, or bears it away on a cloud.
“I told him it was foolish,” John Alden says. “I told Andros at the time. No man likes to have his house attacked, and Saint Castin is both a man and France.”
“What? What has happened?”
My voice is sharper than I mean it to be. John Alden turns as if he has just noticed me, which, for all I know, is true.
“Ah,” he says.
And then he tells me the news. How, barely a day ago, raiding parties moved down the Connecticut river valley from New France, and now, in Northfield, five settlers are dead. It is, he guesses, Saint Castin and Madockawando’s answer to Andros. Reprisal for his spring raid.
“So, you are saying that this is their answer? You are saying France has done this?”
“Well,” John Alden runs a hand through his hair. His hat sits on the floor, its rim bent and grubby. “The attackers at Northfield were Mohawk. At least some of them, if reports can be believed. Which they can. So the answer comes from France, or those who love the French. Which is one and the same. I think it’s clear enough. If you shove a hornets nest, sooner or later the hornets, or the hornets’ friends, will come out and sting. Certainly, it will cause a panic.” He fishes his hat off the floor and pushes himself to his feet. “I wanted to let you know.” He looks at my mother. “Warn you. The mills are safe enough,” he adds, pulling a leather purse from his pocket and placing it on the table.
This will be our share of the profits from the sawmills. My mother does not look at it. Her hand taps the oiled wood that I have scrubbed and scrubbed, but that is still stained with the sap of plums. Her cap is untied, as if she pulled it on in a hurry, or never straightened it after crossing the cove and being caught by the wind. Escaped tendrils curl on her shoulder. In this morning light that falls through the wide open casements, she looks like a girl. Like she must have when Captain Alden, and perhaps even my father, first knew her.
“And Madockawando?” She asks, “what will he do next?”
I know that what she is really asking is if we should be prepared to be attacked. If we should leave. Or seek sanctuary.
John Alden shakes his head. “Nothing,” he says. “If I can help it. Castin has his ear, and Castin’s no fool. No one wants another war.” He smiles and jams his hat on his head. “It’s bad for business.”
John Alden’s hair is blonde. There’s a shade of gray in it now. But when he was a babe it must have been almost gold. His eyes are bright blue. His smile comes easily, and his laughter runs before him. He has a dimple on one cheek. I see it, and remember the rumors I have heard, and all the things I know without knowing. That the trade in furs is richer the farther north you go. That my father, and for that matter my mother, like everyone from Jersey, and for all I know John Alden too, speaks more than a word of French. As does Judah, who has more than once leaned close to me as we have watched Captain Alden’s sloop come in and asked me if I do not think him handsome? And told me the whispers she has heard in The Ordinary. That John Alden only married his wife for her father’s sawmills, and that there are children in the north, even at The Pentagoet, who have dark skin and blue eyes.
My mother and I do not walk with him to the harbor. John Alden says he would call on Edward Tyng, our magistrate, to try to head off the panic that will come as night follows day with the news of Northfield, if it would do any good. But it would not as, like Captain Blackman, the man is both stubborn and stupid. Instead, John Alden says, he will spend his words where they will be heard. And for that, he must hurry to catch the tide.
We watch from the garden gate as he strides away up the meadow, passes through the side yards, and is lost in the marching and wheeling of the militia. Then, a bare half hour later, we watch again, this time from the edge of the birch grove above our beach. The tide is spilling, rushing to get wherever it goes when it goes out. A fair wind is building from the southwest. Out beyond the mouth of the cove, we see cats paws dabbing the open water as John Alden’s sloop comes into view, her red sail raised as she rounds the point and catches the wind.
When I turn, I expect to see my mother starting back towards the house. But instead, she is stepping down the bank. By the time I join her on our beach, she has removed her shoes and is hitching her skirts into her belt.
“Quickly,” she says. “We must also catch the tide.”
I do not have to ask. Even as I ruck my own skirts and we slide the canoe down the plank and into the cove, I know where we are going. While John Alden sails north to try to stop a war, my mother and I will rush to deliver a warning in case he fails.
Lucretia Grindle grew up and went to school and university in England and the United States. After a brief career in journalism, she worked for The United States Equestrian Team organizing ‘kids and ponies,’ and for the Canadian Equestrian Team. For ten years, she produced and owned Three Day Event horses that competed at The World Games, The European Games and the Atlanta Olympics. In 1997, she packed a five mule train across 250 miles of what is now Grasslands National Park on the Saskatchewan/Montana border tracing the history of her mother’s family who descend from both the Sitting Bull Sioux and the first officers of the Canadian Mounties.
Returning to graduate school as a ‘mature student’, Lucretia completed an MA in Biography and Non-Fiction at The University of East Anglia where her work, FIREFLIES, won the Lorna Sage Prize. Specializing in the 19th century Canadian West, the Plains Tribes, and American Indigenous and Women’s History, she is currently finishing her PhD dissertation at The University of Maine.
Lucretia is the author of the psychological thrillers, THE NIGHTSPINNERS, shortlisted for the Steel Dagger Award, and THE FACES of ANGELS, one of BBC FrontRow’s six best books of the year, shortlisted for the Edgar Award. Her historical fiction includes, THE VILLA TRISTE, a novel of the Italian Partisans in World War II, a finalist for the Gold Dagger Award, and THE LOST DAUGHTER, a fictionalized account of the Aldo Moro kidnapping. She has been fortunate enough to be awarded fellowships at The Hedgebrook Foundation, The Hawthornden Foundation, The Hambidge Foundation, The American Academy in Paris, and to be the Writer in Residence at The Wallace Stegner Foundation. A television drama based on her research and journey across Grasslands is currently in development. THE DEVIL’S GLOVE and the concluding books of THE SALEM TRILOGY are drawn from her research at The University of Maine where Lucretia is grateful to have been a fellow at the Canadian American Foundation.
She and her husband, David Lutyens, live in Shropshire.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lucretiagrindle