Grace Bacon stood behind her father's bakery counter. The smells of fresh baked breads and pies surrounded her. On top of the counter were several pieces of paper; the uppermost sheet was partially filled with neat rows of writing – a legible account of the sales. The far corner of the counter held a bowl full of dried apple slices. Off to the side was a bible. Her brother, Abraham, was helping a woman load a wagon for Reverend Parris. Only one customer was in the bakery at the moment and he was Ephraim Millson. Ephraim's family owned the largest mill in town.
Ephraim stood a head taller than anyone else in the village and his green eyes always seemed to sparkle. A wide brimmed hat hid his closely shaven head. When he smiled quietly, Grace couldn't help but to return the small affection.
As Ephraim approached the counter he greeted, "Miss Bacon, how are you this sunny day?"
Grace smiled and replied, "Quite well, Mr. Millson. How about yourself?"
"It looks like we will be having a busy season. Father just had a load of rye arrive at the mill," Ephraim genially replied.
"Looks like God has blessed you with work this fall day," Grace serenely stated.
"That he has. The crisp, clean air of spring will make it more enjoyable in the mill as well.
"How do you intend to cope with the warmer months ahead," Ephraim asked inquisitively.
"The way God intended, Ephraim. By keeping my hands and mind busy; thus denying the devil a foothold in my heart," Grace authoritatively answered.
The door to the bakery opened, admitting a dark skinned woman wearing a thin white bonnet and tan dress. Wisps of dark hair escaped her bonnet giving the appearance of exhaustion. She had brown eyes with dark bags underneath them.
Grace looked up from her conversation and greeted, "Good morrow, Tituba! How fares the Reverend and Mrs. Parris?"
"The Reverend is looking forward to morning services and Mrs. Parris is afflicted again," Tituba meekly informed.
"God will surely see her well soon," Grace promised before asking, "Was there something the Reverend was looking for?"
"The Reverend was wondering if there was any of Mrs. Bacon's bread to be had. "It always makes Mrs. Parris feel shades better than the gloomy night," Tituba quietly informed.
"Several are fresh from the beehive. I'll have a package ready for you shortly," Grace helpfully informed.
Tituba bowed her head in thanks as Grace stepped away from the counter.
"How fares the Reverend's youngest," Ephraim sternly asked Tituba.
"After seeing two doctors she's still afflicted," Tituba replied docilely.
Ephraim frowned at Tituba. "As God wills it," Ephraim ended the conversation as an awkward silence filled the little bakery. A grey cloud passed over his face at the thought of a child suffering.
Tituba bowed her head once more as the rustling of Grace's petticoats could be heard. With a content smile on her face Grace handed Tituba a small bundle. Before Tituba could walk away Grace reached into one of the baskets on the counter and grabbed a handful of dried apple slices.
Handing the slices to Tituba, Grace quietly blessed, "May God ease your sufferings even the tiniest bit."
Tituba gave a tremulous smile of thanks before hurrying out of the store.
"You've done her a far kinder service than she probably deserves," Ephraim stoically complimented.
"God loves us all; even the Unchosen. Perhaps one day she will walk with us on His path," Grace reasoned.
"What will your father say to the loss of profit," Ephraim questioned.
"Father loves a good deed as much as God does. Blessings will come in one form or another," Grace assured.
"Your faith is a model for all of Salem Towne to follow," Ephraim complimented warmly. "Are you not afraid though for the children in her care?"
"The Reverend would not have her about were Tituba to harm their immortal souls," Grace reasoned.
"True, though God tells us that the Devil can blind the best of us," Ephraim admonished.
"The Reverend would never be blinded by such as that foul creature! Besides, I have it on high authority that he sent for another reverend from the village to see if any sense could be made of Miss Betty's affliction," Grace stridently informed.
"Let us pray that you are right," Ephraim stated with concern.
"Ephraim, we are all God's children. It is up to those of us who are chosen to lead others to the Righteous Path. Compassion is needed for all people who walk this test with us," Grace implored of a doubtful Ephraim.
"Though you are right, I fear there is no saving the ignorant," Ephraim observed.
Grace shook her head in dismay as her brother, Abraham, walked into the family owned bakery.
"How fare you this chilly day, Ephraim," Abraham cordially asked with a smile.
"With God's blessing the afternoon harvest of winter rye will be ready for the mill; by morning it should be ready for sale," Ephraim cheerily informed.
"Our thanks Ephraim. Father will always be willing to pay a fair price for God's bounty," Abraham assured.
Ephraim nodded and thanked Abraham as he took his leave of the bakery.
Abraham turned to look at his sister and gently teased, "He seems like a pleasant sort."
"He is polite enough," Grace returned with a smile.
Abraham chuckled at his sister before asking, "If he asked father for a courtship, would you consider it?"
Grace cocked her head to the side and with a sly smile replied, "That depends. Has he?"
Abraham chuckled lightly as he responded, "Father was going to say something to you this evening. Fortunately, I know that you loathe surprises as much as God despises Hell."
"Surprises do me no good," Grace calmly stated as fire lit her eyes.
"Are you going to accept," Abraham asked insistently.
Grace raised an eyebrow and stared into space for a moment before answering, "I do believe I shall. After all, life is a blessing; learning to love another is part of that blessing," she finished serenely.
"Sister you truly do understand God's will. Remember, father will not be upset if you find that you cannot learn to love him. Being honest and truthful is the first law," Abraham reminded.
"Of course he wouldn't. One cannot learn if one does not try though," Grace insisted.