Circles in Time is the first novel by Diane Adams Taylor. It is being published by Tate Publishing Company and was released in early 2012.
The heroine, Faith Lucas, finds her self trapped in an abusive marriage. When an on-going nightmare of being choked to death threatens to destroy her very existence, she begins her personal quest for answers. Guided through several past lives by her spiritual advisor from the Other Side, Faith discovers many ancient secrets and buried memories. Through this journey of abuse, love, suffering, redemption and enlightenment, Faith is able to find her true purpose in life and to begin again.
Some people believe that time is only measured in a linear manner. They believe that it stretches along the horizon like a ribbon, unwinding from a roll down slopes and up hills, until the roll of ribbon finally ends. Time always has a specific beginning with each birth and a definite ending with each death while various milestones occur along its path. They believe that death is the end of all human existence and a person only has one opportunity to learn a particularly difficult life lesson. Based on the actions of a single lifetime, a person is judged on their merits or their mistakes.
Some others believe that time has no specific beginning and no definitive ending but rather forms a series of perfectly connected circles. These circles rise in a vertical motion towards the heavens in a never-ending pattern of intertwined rings. Life and death are the same and these are the circles in time in which you are born and you die many times. Each of your many lives is spent in trying to fulfill your commitment to perfect your spirit and to grow in God’s love. This is the story of one woman who has lived many lives on earth in her quest for love, redemption and enrichment of her soul.
She was startled awake by the familiar choking feeling of hands wrapped tightly around her throat, stealing her breath away from her. Struggling to open her eyes, she turned to look at the clock to check the time. It was 5:00 a.m., time to get up. She groaned as she thought of the long day ahead of her after one more night of interrupted sleep. Each night before she fell asleep, she prayed that some of her questions might be answered in her dreams. Another night was over, yet she still had no new clues to help her solve this mystery. The choking sensation had come to her many times. As she neared her fiftieth birthday, the sensations grew stronger and occurred more often with the new emotion of overwhelming fear.
She tried to bring herself back to reality by repeating her usual grounding litany. “My name is Faith Lucas. I am a school administrator. I am married and I have one child – a daughter in college. I live in the year 2003, and it is time to get up and go to work. I have many responsibilities that I must tend to before I even go to work. I am alive and well, and no one is trying to choke me to death. The sensation I have felt is just part of a nightmare.”
She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, being careful to be quiet so as not to disturb her husband who still lay sleeping in the next room. As usual, he was totally oblivious to the panic Faith was feeling. Thinking aloud, Faith said, “I wonder if you are the one choking me during the night?” A voice in her head responded “Maybe”. No time to explore that thought right now. Once again, too much work and too many responsibilities faced her in the coming hours. She would just have to put these thoughts away until the end of the day when she might have a few moments to herself.
As she dressed and applied her makeup, she noticed the dark circles under her eyes. She thought to herself “This is becoming ridiculous. The lack of sleep is going to kill me before I am choked to death in a dream.” She returned to her jewelry box to find something to lighten her mood. She pulled a favorite antique necklace from the box and placed it around her neck. The sensation of hands around her throat immediately overwhelmed her. Faith grabbed the necklace from her neck and placed it back carefully in the jewelry box. The sensation stopped. Faith then chose a brightly colored pin instead of the necklace and fastened it to her suit jacket. She checked her reflection in the mirror and, once satisfied by her appearance, walked down the stairs into the kitchen.
Turning the coffee pot on to brew, Faith put some bread into the toaster while she started packing lunches. The strong scent of burning toast caught her by surprise, and she threw the bread away. The acrid smell from the trashcan brought a memory from deep inside her brain. A vision flashed into her mind of lying at the bottom of a staircase, unconscious with a fire raging around her. The picture in her mind was so vivid she started shaking uncontrollably. Thinking she was having a mental breakdown, Faith silently asked God for help. Her shaking subsiding, she completed a few moments of deep breathing to quiet and calm her thoughts. Once she was breathing normally, she returned to the tasks at hand.
With her morning routine complete and her husband off to work, Faith drove away from her house and turned the car toward her building where she was employed as a school administrator. With a few moments in the car alone, she had time to reflect on the ongoing nightmare. She tried to remember what she felt during the dream and analyze what it all meant. The choking sensation was similar to fingers wrapping around her throat. Then after a time, the fingers seemed to loosen from her neck, but her lungs could not extract any oxygen from a stifling scent. Faith had never been able to recreate the sensation as she had this morning when she put the necklace around her throat. The vision of the fire raging around her was a new addition to the nightmare, but it had occurred while she was totally awake. In her mind, things were progressing rapidly and getting much more dangerous. She had to get some help to figure out the meaning of these sensations that had tortured her for so long. She resolved to stop at the library before going home this evening to do some research. For once, she resolved to stop procrastinating and try to get some assistance to solve this puzzle.
Her day as principal of an elementary school was spent in its usual routine – children requiring attention, parents requiring information, and teachers requiring direction. The day sped by, as was the normal pattern. There was no time to think or reflect on her concerns. As the school buses filled with children slowly pulled away from the building, a thought popped into her head. “Past lives.” someone or something whispered to her as she walked back to the office. Faith walked into her office and shut the door. The many questions the teachers usually had at the end of the day could wait until tomorrow.
She logged on to the Internet and put in the words “past lives”. A number of hits came up on her computer screen. Faith scanned the list of possibilities. Several sites caught her attention while a handful of authors came up numerous times. She jotted down four names that appeared the most frequently in the search. She decided to make a stop at the bookstore on her way home from work.
As Faith pulled into the parking lot at the bookstore, a thought came to mind. “What if this nightmare is a manifestation of something that happened to me in a former life? How am I going to figure this out so that the nightmare stops? What is this new information about a fire?” She hurried into the store and immediately went to a clerk for assistance. After the clerk directed her to the area of the store with the books on past lives, Faith started to peruse the shelves to scan the titles. Several titles caught her attention, and she pulled them out to check the contents. Because she was completely new with this topic, she had to depend on her gut instinct. Checking the time on her wristwatch, Faith realized she must hurry, so she quickly chose three titles and took them to the cash register to pay.
Driving home, a feeling of satisfaction rushed over her. Finally she felt that she was being proactive rather than waiting patiently for the dream to end. She resolved to start reading as soon as dinner and the housework were completed. Faith pulled into the driveway, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes for her last moment of calm. She climbed out of the car, now ready to start the second shift of all working women.
The evening passed uneventfully – no work problems, no husband issues, and no college traumas from her daily phone call to her daughter who often needed a mother’s wisdom – so Faith was able to go to her bedroom early. She immediately picked up Many Lives, Countless People, the title which seemed to have the most information on past lives from the books she had purchased.
A fast reader, she typically skimmed a book the first time and then reread the book a second time if it caught her interest. Following this pattern, Faith started reading. Midway into that book, a section on getting information on trauma in a past life slowed her reading. It detailed a meditation technique to calm the mind and ask for help from the other side in order to understand events or exit points. She mouthed a silent prayer and gave thanks to God for providing her a glimmer of hope. Faith read and reread the passage, all the while memorizing the sequence of the mediation. Eager to begin, she showered and prepared for bed. Since the choking feeling usually came to her during the night, it seemed to make sense to meditate lying in bed with the lights off, so Faith climbed into bed.
She began by doing some yoga relaxation exercises to cam her mind and body. Visual images from the memorized passage easily came into her brain as she progressed through the meditation. Feeling her body growing lighter and lighter, she seemed to slip into a twilight sleep. Suddenly she opened her eyes to find herself in a field filled with multicolored wildflowers. A dusky sky streaked with the colors of purple, dark blue, red and pink was overhead. Someone called her name and she turned to face the direction of the sound. Once her eyes adjusted to the change in light, she saw a young, beautiful woman holding the reins of a chestnut-colored horse. The woman had silky blonde hair flowing freely down the middle of her back. She had large, blue eyes with long, dark eyelashes. She was dressed in a pale-blue, Grecian-style gown with her arms bare. Her skin was light in tone with hints of pink in her cheeks and lips. Slowly Faith walked toward the woman who was now reaching out her hand to her. As she approached, the young woman indicated she wanted Faith to mount the horse. Doing as requested, Faith seated herself on the horse. Then the woman started walking with the bridle in her hand, leading the two. Faith’s mind immediately filled with questions, and she impulsively blurted several of them out. The young woman turned to her, smiled, and made a gesture to indicate wait. Patience while waiting for answers had never been one of Faith’s virtues, and her mind was racing with all the possibilities there were to ponder. However, she did as she was requested, and a great wave of peace descended upon her.
The gait of the horse was hypnotic, so when the motion ceased, Faith slowly looked around her. A massive, white marble building with tall, fluted columns gleamed in the early-morning light. The atmosphere around the structure seemingly beckoned her to enter. She dismounted the horse and walked up the steps alongside her beautiful guide. Standing at the entrance of the building was another woman who immediately greeted her and called her by name. This woman appeared to be older than her guide yet just as beautiful. Faith understood instinctively that the woman wanted her to follow into the building. Once inside, the older woman spoke, “We have been waiting for you, Faith. We have heard you praying, questioning various events, and asking for help. We knew you would come to seek the answers in your own time. It is now time to begin. We are inside the Hall of Records, which contains all the information you seek regarding your past lives. What do you want to know first?”
Faith considered her words carefully but immediately went to the source of her most pressing concern – the feeling of being choked to death that had infiltrated her dreams for such a long time. “Why am I awakened from sleep due to this strange sensation as if I am being choked to death?” she questioned.
The older woman did not respond but instead led her into an enormous room filled with numerous rolls of paper. Walking quickly to a section, she stopped and said, “These are your life charts for your current life on earth and your many past lives that have gone before. This is where you will find your answers, but not all will be revealed at once. You must learn patience and wait for the time to be right for each question to be answered. You must also know that nothing will be foretold that pertains to future events in your current life. We will never violate the precept of free will given to you by God. If yuo were given information about what may be it would influence your free will, which is forbidden. You need to know this so you will not ask about your future. Now walk with me.”
Faith was torn by her desire to read the life charts and her desire to obey this woman. She turned to walk with the older woman and followed her outside. No words were spoken until they reached a small granite bench set in a grove of trees. Situated in the center of this wooded area, a flowing brook tumbling over some rocks provided them with a soothing background noise.
Once seated, the older woman spoke. “You have witnessed something tonight that very few people experience during their lifetime. You do not remember, but you have seen this place many times before between your lifetimes on earth. Life and death are the same. This is where you come to rest and revive your soul for another lifetime on earth if and when you decide you want another experience. People choose to return to another lifetime on earth because that is where the greatest growth for your soul can be obtained. Suffering in a lifetime always has a specific purpose – great suffering may bring much spiritual enrichment. You choose the time, the place, the events, and the circumstances of your next life before you leave this side to return to earth. The people on this side help you make decisions to hasten your spiritual growth and development, but you use your free will to make the choices. Think about what you have learned tonight, and we will talk again.” With that said, the older woman was gone.
Faith saw nothing but blackness and felt a huge thump as if she had fallen from a great distance. Her eyes opened and she saw that she was in her own bedroom once again. The clock on her bedside table flashed 4:49 AM and the alarm would soon ring to start another busy day. Although Faith thought she had been awake all night, she felt strangely rested and at peace for the first time in a long time. She now knew for certain she was not alone. Answers to these pressing concerns would be provided as the time was right. She smiled to herself, said a few silent prayers, got out of bed and went into the bathroom to start her morning routine.
Once again her work day rushed by at its typical frenzied pace. Being the principal of an elementary school in a suburb of a large city in Ohio meant that there was always plenty of work to be done. Today there were teacher observations to complete, a school assembly to oversee and a district wide administrator meeting to attend. Running a school was always hectic and full of challenges but Faith loved the children and they returned her love.
A tall woman with shoulder length auburn hair, she had a quiet strength about her that made parents trust her and teachers turn to her for help. She was not considered beautiful in the conventional sense of the word but her eyes were large, emerald green in color and very expressive. Her smile was disarming, genuine and heartfelt so that her face became luminous when she smiled. She treated all who came to her with kindness and with respect. She tried to be fair and equitable in all her dealings with parents, students and staff. She was never too busy to answer a question, provide assistance or give support.
Faith could not imagine doing any other job and her enthusiasm was contagious. The achievement of the students in her building was always in the highest category for the entire school district and the state. Students who had long since moved on to other schools would frequently return to visit her. She felt her true purpose was here with the children and she had always been grounded in the here and now. What would others think of her if they knew of her research into past lives?
Faith realized that her inquiries would have to be done at home and privately so that no one, not even her husband, found out about it. Being a public figure also made you a public target and any hint that Faith was exploring past lives could bring her up before the Board of Education for censure. The school day ended, children went home, teachers left the building and Faith sat down alone in her office. Her mind started to recall the older woman’s words. What was this terrible event or events that had her choking to death with someone’s hands wrapped around her throat?
Why did a necklace trigger the sensation? What did this vision of seeing a woman lying on the floor with a fire raging all around her mean? Why did the smell of burning toast summon this vision? Faith became anxious for the day to end so she could recreate the meditation and hopefully find some answers.
Refocusing her thoughts on school business, she completed some paperwork, planned a teachers’ meeting, read her emails and returned phone calls. Several hours later pleased with her accomplishments, Faith left her office for the day. On the drive home, she remembered that her husband, Jake, had mentioned he would be home late this evening. Inwardly, she smiled at this reprieve. Jake had control issues and being with him was always very stressful. This was her second marriage; her first marriage to the father of her daughter had ended in divorce after nine years. Her current husband and she had been married for almost sixteen years but they had always been very difficult times.
Jake was tall with a strong muscular build even though he did not choose to exercise. He had piercing cold blue eyes and prematurely white hair, beard and mustache. He rarely smiled and when he did it appeared to be more of a sneer than a smile. His skin was marked with acne scars from his adolescence. Jake was not a handsome man but his presence was commanding and he kept himself meticulously groomed. He tended to be arrogant, conceited and pompous. When Faith first was introduced to Jake she did not realize his shortcomings. Over time she came to realize his nature was that of a bully, with a cruel demeanor and a cowardly nature. When Jake and Faith first met, he behaved as if he was a considerate, kind and loving man. Once they married, Faith found that his wonderful treatment of her was all just an act. He had used any means necessary to trap her so he could own her as a slave rather than a wife and companion. Many times over the past sixteen years she had contemplated divorcing Jake. For some reason, which Faith was never quite able to understand, someone or something always stopped her.
Suddenly, feeling a sense of freedom and feeling almost giddy from it, she realized she could go home without worrying about cooking dinner and completing other necessary housework. That meant she was free to read her books on past lives with no interruptions.
Her evening had gone exactly as she had planned with a quick frozen dinner to eat and no housework to finish. Faith had managed to skim all three of the books she had purchased from the book store on past lives. Some of the information did not seem to fit her situation while some of it did. She marked sections in the books for future consideration but mentally she planned to complete the same meditation again tonight.
She did not want to change techniques and be unsuccessful in her attempt to talk to the older woman. One thing she thought she would add to her new routine was to ask about exit points. Her readings stated that it might be necessary to find out how she had died in a previous life if a severe trauma had occurred in that lifetime. Only by asking to see this death could she put these dreams to rest. She felt as if her very life depended on finding the point with the horrible choking sensation, making contact with the older woman again and getting some of her many questions answered. Preparing for bed, she reviewed the meditation which had given her a sense of peace and comfort the previous night. Faith climbed into bed and started the relaxation exercise to begin her quest for answers.
Faith opened her eyes to find herself seated on the bench in the same small glade of trees with the babbling brook running next to her. At her side was the beautiful older woman she had met at the grand marble building the previous evening. The older woman was holding a scroll of paper in her long, tapered hands. The woman was dressed in a flowing caftan of pale, greenish-blue silk with her long hair braided down her back. Her demeanor could only be described as stately. She had an air of elegance and a regal quality about her. Her gaze seemed to indicate a serene acceptance of all things. Her eyes were dark brown and seemed to be filled with love and compassion for Faith.
Faith smiled at the woman and said, “I am so happy to see you again. You know my name, but I do not know your name. I’m sorry I forgot to ask your name when we last met.”
The older woman returned the smile and said, “I am Galadriel. I am happy to see you again. Let us get right to your questions so we can try to put your mind at ease, as your time with me is limited.”
Faith replied, “Please tell me why I have this choking sensation and this feeling that I can not get any oxygen in my lungs. This sensation constantly disturbs my sleep. Is this dream a piece of an exit point from a previous life?”
Galadriel slowly unfurled the scroll and started to read. She hesitated a moment before speaking. “The choking sensation and the feeling of your body not getting enough oxygen that you describe are part of your cell memories. Your cells are remembering a different life and the event that led to your death. Yes, it was your exit point from that lifetime on earth when you were fifty years of age. You and your husband had a fight because he was trying to steal your family jewelry so he could pay his debts. You refused to allow him to do that and started up the staircase to return your jewelry to another hiding place. Your husband grabbed at your throat, catching your necklace in his hands. He pulled you backward down the steps, and you hit your head on the newel post. The blow to the head stunned you for a moment, and when your head cleared, your husband was using your necklace and then his hands to strangle you. You tried to fight him, but he was too strong. You were unconscious for a time, and when you awoke, you were surrounded by fire. You were too weak to save yourself. Your husband set fire to the house to cover up your murder. You died after being strangled and suffering smoke inhalation.”
Faith whispered weakly, “I saw all of those events in my mind very clearly while you were telling me about them. It is as if I was reliving that death. Do I know this husband from my previous life in this current life?”
Galadriel nodded yes.
“May I ask who he is?” said Faith.
The older woman said, “This may be a shock to you, but he is your current husband. You are married to him in this lifetime again.” Faith turned pale and grasped Galadriel’s arm for support. Galadriel paused before asking, “The only way to free you from these nightmares is to understand all the events from that lifetime. Are you sure you are ready to hear the whole story?” Faith, too numb to speak, slowly nodded her head.
“Take my hand now. You will become part of the past to see all you need to see in order to answer your questions. I will continue to narrate your story so that you may fully understand the past,” Galadriel replied. Faith did as she was requested. The scene blurred around them as if they were walking through a tunnel. As they continued onward, the tunnel became a kaleidoscope full of constantly changing colors swirling by them. They stepped out to discover another time and another place.
Faith looked in wonderment at the beautiful young woman seated at her dressing table in a bedroom decorated with Victorian furniture and antiques. Faith asked, “Is that me in a former life?”
Galadriel responded, “Yes that is you when you were Margaret.”
“Can she hear me talking to you? Can she see me?” queried Faith.
“No, she can neither hear you nor see you. You can walk around and explore but she will not know that you are here,” Galadriel said.
Margaret Sullivan McNamara Hinton
1811 — 1861
Galadriel turned to Faith and said, “This is your wedding night, and you are waiting for your new husband to come to you. You have been married before but you were widowed so you are well aware of your wifely duties.” Faith watched as Margaret prepared for bed. Margaret was taking extra care to look her best. She pinched her cheeks to make sure her skin showed some color and bit her lips to make them red. She let her beautiful, long, thick auburn hair flow down her back freely but added a ribbon to keep her hair off her face. She wore a new, pale-green cotton lawn nightgown and dressing gown that showed her figure to the best advantage. As she glanced in the mirror, she gave herself a quiet nod of approval.
Several hours went by with no husband coming to her bedroom to claim his bride on their wedding night. Worried that something was wrong, Margaret left her bedroom to go to the bedroom of her husband. Knocking on the door, she entered after he ordered, “Come in.” Benjamin obviously had been drinking very heavily, and he was in a foul humor. “Why are you here?”
“I thought you might be in ill health. I’ve come to see if you need aid.”
Benjamin threw a decanter filled with whiskey at her and yelled, “Get out! I’ll call for you when I want you.”
Paralyzed with fear, Margaret started to cry. This outburst of emotion from Margaret met with cold fury from Benjamin. He raised his hand to her and slapped her across the face. She immediately stopped crying, too stunned to move. Margaret had never been a victim of any physical violence, let alone violence from her husband, a man who claimed to love her not many hours before when he said his wedding vows. Before he could raise his hand to her again, she left the room and ran back to her own bedroom.
Once there, she locked the door and considered moving a dresser in front of the door but found it to be too heavy for her to move alone. She walked to her dressing table to look in the mirror at her face. There was a large hand-shaped welt mark on her cheek, which was going to become a nasty bruise. Margaret poured water into the china basin, added a wash cloth to soak, wrung out the cloth, and applied it to her cheek. Why had she been so stupid and blind? It was as if Benjamin were two different people—one kind and considerate and the other one vicious and controlling.
Margaret considered her situation for several minutes but could not think of any way out of this dilemma. She needed some advice from a trusted friend, but how could she get out of the house unnoticed? She devised a plan to go next door to the home of her best friend, Grace. Margaret and Grace had been inseparable since childhood, and only Grace could help Margaret now. Margaret reasoned that Benjamin was drinking heavily, so he should fall asleep soon. She would then be able to go next door to seek assistance and solace.
Margaret pulled on a heavier robe and slippers for the night air was very chilly. She tiptoed to Benjamin’s door to listen. She heard loud snoring, so she believed he would not wake again until morning. Quietly, she walked down the staircase and slipped down the hallway to the kitchen. Just as she had many times when she was a young girl, she walked through the fence gate which separated the two yards and right into her friend’s home.
Grace met her as she walked down the hallway. For some reason, Grace did not seem surprised to see Margaret at this late hour and on her wedding night. The two women hugged, and Margaret started to cry. Grace guided Margaret into the small parlor and rang for a servant to bring tea. Grace waited patiently for Margaret to regain her composure. Once the tea was served, Margaret calmed down.
Grace asked many questions: “I thought I heard yelling coming from your house. What is this all about? What has happened? Why is your face bruised?”
Margaret touched her face before answering, “Benjamin hit me in the face, and he threw a whiskey decanter at me. I think he was drunk but that is no excuse. You should have seen how he looked at me with such hatred and contempt. It was as if he were a different person.”
“Why would he do that?” Grace queried.
“Because he is just like everyone said before we married, and I would not believe them. He is cruel and he is manipulative,” Margaret replied.
“What will you do to escape this man?” Grace asked.
“But what am I to do? I am married to him now. Does that mean I have to stay married to him, Grace? You know more about the law than I do. What advice can you give me?” continued Margaret.
Grace looked at her in a sad manner and slowly shook her head before answering, “You know that the law does not protect women from their abusive husbands. You will not be able to even ask for a divorce. You are only property, and you have no rights. Maybe it is possible that you can have the marriage annulled, but I am not certain. I do know that the law is on Benjamin’s side for he is a man. I am so sorry I did not give you the answer that you wanted to hear. Maybe you should talk to your lawyer in the morning. He will be able to advise you better in this matter.”
Margaret thought for a moment and then agreed that this was the logical course of action to take. She had made a terrible mistake by marrying this man so she would go see her lawyer first thing in the morning before Benjamin was out of bed.
Margaret said, “Thank you Grace for your counsel. Pray for me tonight as I need all the help I can get. Good night.”
Grace replied, “Good night, be careful and be quiet going back into the house so that you do not rouse the monster.”
Margaret left her friend’s home and was able to reach her bedroom unnoticed. She was careful to lock her bedroom door before getting into bed.
After a sleepless night, the morning finally dawned. Margaret quietly summoned her maid to help her dress and fix her hair. She wanted to be out of the house before Benjamin was up and ready to start his day. Having no previous experience with heavy drinkers, Margaret did not know if he would still be asleep or still drunk, even though it was hours since the altercation of the last evening. Just as she reached the front door, Benjamin appeared beside her. He barked an order at her to stop, stunning her into compliance. He grabbed her arm, swinging her around to face him, and he wanted to know where she was going so early in the morning. Margaret hesitated, not wanting to tell him the truth, but she was not good at lying. “I think I know what you are up to, and you are not leaving this house on my orders,” growled Benjamin.
Benjamin grabbed her by her waist, picking her feet off the floor. He half-dragged, half-carried her into the parlor. He threw her down on the couch and started pounding her with his fists. Margaret tried to protect her face, but he was too powerful. She started screaming, hoping that someone in the house would come to her rescue. There were only other women in the house, and they would not have been able to help her, nor would they have wanted to lose their jobs, so no one intervened. Her screaming seemed to have a strange effect on Benjamin. He now seemed to want from her what he did not want last night and tore at her clothes while she continued to fight him. She realized what he was trying to do and started scratching at his face. He laughed at her as he pinned her hands to her sides. He then took her against her will.
While the brutal act was over quickly, it would forever change the way Margaret thought of this man. He was nothing more than a monster, a bully, a beast—only the vilest of men would rape a woman and enjoy it. Benjamin seemed to calm down as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. He said to her, “Go get cleaned up. I will not have my wife looking like you do, all disheveled with your hair falling down. What will the servants think?” In disbelief, Margaret got up, straightened her clothing as best as she could, and went upstairs to her bedroom to change.
Waiting in her bedroom and obviously very frightened was her maid, Ellen. Ellen said, “The master ordered me here before you rang for me. Are you badly hurt?” Margaret answered no, but it was not really the truth. Several of her ribs felt bruised, one of her wrists might have been broken, and her insides were throbbing with pain. The pain she felt at that moment was just the physical pain; the emotional pain would soon come and reach far deeper into her soul. She had been betrayed by a man she thought she loved and who she thought returned her love. Apparently she was a very big fool to trust a man when others thought poorly of him. Her maid helped her dress, fix her hair, and dress her wounds. After Ellen had finished, she left Margaret alone in her room. Shortly a knock came at the door, but Benjamin did not wait for an invitation to enter, just walking in as if he owned her home.
Benjamin sneered at Margaret and stated, “Now that we are married and our marriage has been properly consummated, there are some rules you will follow. I have many rules, but since you are merely a stupid woman, I will only tell you a few rules each day. I expect you to remember these rules and never break them, or you will suffer the consequences. Do I make myself clear?”
Too terrified to speak, Margaret nodded her head in assent. Benjamin grabbed her by the throat and said, “That is rule number one. When I speak to you, I expect a civil verbal response, not a head nod, and you will at all times address me as ‘sir’ or ‘Mr. Hinton.’ You will only speak to me if I speak to you first, and you will never question me regarding any of my business.”
With his hands still around her throat, Margaret gasped out a response. “Yes, sir.” Reluctantly he let go of her throat, as it was obvious that he enjoyed using physical violence and was strangely stimulated by the fear that this violence incited in her.
Benjamin continued. “Rule number two: you will never, and I do mean never, verbally disagree with me at any time or in any place, but especially not in front of others. You have no opinions except the ones I permit you to have. Do you understand?”
Margaret started to nod but quickly caught herself and added, “Yes, sir.”
Benjamin said, “Maybe you are not as dull and stupid as I previously thought. Maybe you are trainable like a dog, but of course you are of less use than a dog. They at least can earn their keep. You bring no income into this household. You are worthless, and you will always be worthless. Now for the final rule for today, as I do not want to tax your miniscule brain. I expect you to be at breakfast with me every morning, presenting a loving front to the servants. Today is no exception. Any problems that you have with me will stay with you. They are never to be discussed with anyone. Trust me, you do not want to know what the consequences of breaking this rule would be. Again, have I made myself totally clear?”
Margaret said, “Yes, sir.” Wincing in pain, Margaret followed Benjamin down the stairs to the dining room for breakfast.
Margaret was in too much pain to eat anything at breakfast. She did not know if she was breaking a rule or not by being unable to eat, but she was afraid to ask, as he did not speak to her. Benjamin’s eyes never left her face, as if he was willing her to make a mistake so he could have a reason to punish her. At the end of the meal, Benjamin rose from the table to leave for the day. He leaned over his wife, whispering in her ear, as there were servants present. “Remember the rules, or you will suffer the consequences.”
Since he had spoken to her, she felt fairly safe in asking if she could have a doctor come to the house to take care of her injuries. He took her hair in his hand, twisting it cruelly while wrenching her head back at an awkward angle, stating, “Now why would I not permit my wife to receive medical treatment? You must think I am some kind of monster. Of course you may seek the attentions of a medical doctor. Just be careful [of] what you say to the esteemed doctor.” He kissed her on the lips, gave her bruised cheek a subtle slap and left the room. Margaret sat, not moving until she heard the front door slam shut. She put her head in her hands and started weeping quietly.
With the rape, Margaret’s fate was sealed. No judge would permit her an annulment knowing that the marriage had been consummated, and no judge would accept that her husband had raped her. There were no laws to protect a woman from her own husband, and as a wife, it was her duty to submit to his physical needs. Divorce was almost unheard of and very difficult to obtain, especially if the wife started the proceedings. The physical, emotional, and mental abuse continued as the days turned into years.
Margaret went from being a beautiful young woman confident in love, to a shadow of her former self. There would occasionally be periods of calm when Benjamin would ignore her, but all the while, Margaret felt as if she were walking on eggshells. She was constantly on edge, constantly worried that something she did would arouse Benjamin’s insane wrath and she would suffer the consequences. She was afraid to eat, afraid to sleep, afraid of any unexpected noise, even afraid to ever leave the house. She lost so much weight that her skin sagged, and she had terrible dark circles under her eyes. Her face looked old before its time, filled with lines from all her stress and worry. She was continually monitoring her behavior to try to suit his mood. Her life held no joy, no love, no laughter, nor companionship—only constant terror. Daily she prayed to be released from this life that had become so unbearable.
Benjamin’s excess drinking, gambling losses, and carousing with prostitutes was becoming the main topic of conversation in many circles. There was also gossip that he was keeping mistresses, and he had beaten one of them so badly she had nearly died. Had Margaret ever gone out of the house, she would have been met with contempt or pity by other wives. Benjamin rarely came home in the evening and often stayed out all night. She never questioned him, as was his rule, and most days she ate breakfast alone. His bad behavior was acceptable to Margaret, as it gave her a few precious moments of peace in her nightmarish life.
Nearly sixteen years after her marriage to Benjamin, her family lawyer, Oscar Dengate, came to the house for a visit. Mr. Dengate had sent a courier with a message the previous day, asking to see her on urgent business but preferably when her husband was not at home. Intrigued by this request, Margaret wrote a quick response naming the date and time. She could not help but wonder what the urgent business was all about, but since her father had trusted Mr. Dengate, so did Margaret. She prayed that Benjamin would not come home early and find out about this meeting, or she would be in serious danger.
Punctual as always, Oscar Dengate was shown into the front parlor by a servant. After the usual exchange of pleasantries, Mr. Dengate started to speak. “Mrs. Hinton, you know I considered myself a friend of both your father and your late husband. I would not be honoring their memory by refusing to come to your assistance. I have always been entrusted with your financial affairs. With that in mind, I feel compelled to speak to you of some very serious business. Last week your husband, Mr. Hinton, came to my office to remove your fortune from my financial oversight. He said he was going to change attorneys and my services were no longer required. I asked him if you, Mrs. Hinton, had agreed to this change, as it was also part of your parents’ last will and testament that I would remain as legal counsel for all financial aspects for your lifetime. You must also know that when I brought his extravagant spending habits to his attention over the past few years, he totally ignored my advice and increased his spending. If your husband does not change his ways, you will soon be bankrupt.”
Margaret listened to him speak, not totally comprehending all of the ramifications of this newest problem. She simply bowed her head and started to speak. “Mr. Dengate, I thank you for telling me, and I appreciate your great friendship with both my father and my late husband. Unfortunately, I have no control over my husband, and he does not listen to me for any reason but especially not in business affairs. I am sure there are many women who share my problem, but women are not given any rights in this society, and the law totally supports the husband to do exactly as he wishes. I am sorry you have been released as my counsel, but there is nothing I can do to change it. I wish that I had some way to curtail my husband’s spending and reemploy you as my financial advisor, but I am powerless. Now if you will excuse me, I cannot offer you tea, as my husband may be returning home earlier than I anticipate.” With that said, Margaret stood up to leave the room. Mr. Dengate sadly shook his head, took his hat from the servant, and left the house.
With this new information, Margaret started watching for evidence of money problems. After a few months of waiting for the inevitable, the cook stated that the butcher would no longer deliver the ordered meat because of unpaid bills. Soon the grocer and the produce man were also at the door demanding payment. Margaret had a small amount of cash put away for household emergencies, so for the time being, these bills were paid, and the merchants were satisfied. The next problem came when the household staff complained of not being paid. Her staff had been with her for many years, and some of them had even worked for her parents before she was born. Margaret started looking for items of value in the house that would not be readily missed but that could be easily sold for cash. She was forced to pawn family heirlooms in order to keep her house in order. She was sure that if Benjamin found the missing items, she would pay dearly, but at the same time, she could not let the debts continue to pile up.
As Margaret neared her fiftieth birthday, the financial pressure mounted. Men that could only be described as thugs of the most unsavory type were coming to her door, looking for Benjamin both day and night. It was obvious that they did not believe her when she said he was not home, and she was very frightened. Her servants, no longer able to take the additional pressure of working for such a household, one by one found other employment. Only two servants, both left from the days of her parents, remained with her.
The night before she would turn fifty years old, she heard noises coming from a room upstairs, perhaps even from her bedroom. Margaret went to the staircase to listen and try to locate the source of the sounds. It was becoming dark in the hallway, and no candles or lamps had yet been lit. She moved into the shadows as she saw a large figure start down the steps. She gasped as she saw him carrying her case filled with her family jewelry. The sound of her gasp alerted the man, and he quickly found her hiding place. It was Benjamin carrying her case down the stairway. He just laughed when he saw it was her. Margaret lifted a heavy candelabra made of sterling silver to use as a weapon. She said in a calm, cool voice to Benjamin, “Give me my jewelry case, and you will not be harmed.”
Again, Benjamin just laughed at her before saying, “You will not stop me. You are nothing to me, you fat, obnoxious pig. Go ahead, show me some fear, you worthless doormat.” With that statement, Margaret swung the candelabra at his head, just making contact. He started to sway with the force of the blow, dropping the jewel case at Margaret’s feet. She hit him again, and he fell to the floor.
All the years of abuse released her pent-up hostilities. Margaret started screaming at Benjamin, “You are a despicable bully, a cruel coward, a vicious rapist. You are not a man. You think you can control me and destroy me, but I will not allow you to touch me ever again. Go to your whores, your mistresses, your whiskey. You will get nothing more from me. You never worked a day in your life—talk about not earning your keep. You once compared me to a dog. I would rather be a dog than be anything like you. You are a parasite. Everything you have owned came from my family. You never loved me. You are incapable of loving anyone other than yourself. I finally talked about your business, and I made comments about you to your face. Where is that nasty rule book? It appears I have broken two rules. What are you going to do about it, you coward? ”
Margaret leaned over to pick up the jewel case to return it to her bedroom. She was going to barricade herself in her room until morning. Her heart and soul felt lighter than they had in years by finally telling Benjamin what she thought of him. She had just started up the steps when she felt Benjamin grab at her neck from behind. He caught her necklace and pulled her back down the steps with such force that her head hit the newel post. She became unconscious with Benjamin on top of her, choking her with both of his hands wrapped around her throat. What seemed like hours later, a burning acrid taste in her mouth slowly revived her. When she regained consciousness, Margaret was surrounded by flames. The air, even on the floor where she lay, was stifling with the smell of smoke and burning fabric. Margaret tried to pull herself upright to crawl to the front door. She could not move her legs. Obviously something was very wrong—possibly her neck had been broken by either the choking she had suffered or the fall she had sustained. She knew that death would come very soon.
She welcomed death as a release from her hellish life. Margaret knew she would soon be reunited with her beloved husband, Thomas, and her parents. Her last thought was that she hoped her two faithful servants were able to save themselves from the fire. She prayed for mercy for herself, her servants, and her murderer, Benjamin Hinton. She closed her eyes and died.
With those last words, Galadriel slowly rolled up the scroll as the scene faded from sight. Neither she nor Faith said anything for a few moments. When Galadriel was ready, she quietly asked Faith, “Did this answer all your questions?”
“Not quite,” responded Faith. “What happened to Benjamin?”
Galadriel said, “He stole your jewels after he set fire to the house. He wanted to cover up your murder. He went to his club so he would have an alibi. After selling all your jewels and spending all the profits, there was no money left to live his expensive lifestyle. He died from cirrhosis of the liver, totally destitute, almost three years after you died. He was never tried for your murder since the medical examiner ruled that your death was accidental due to smoke inhalation.”
“One more question please. What was the lesson I was to learn from this tragedy?” said Faith.
Galadriel answered. “Remember I told you not all your questions would receive answers immediately. You need to think about this lifetime you have just seen and then consider how it impacts your current lifetime. Go back to earth and reflect on the events I have recounted for you. Be assured that the choking sensation will now be gone since you have discovered its origin. There may be much more for you to learn with other lives, and I will be waiting for you to ask.” With that, Galadriel disappeared, and Faith found her self back in her bedroom with the alarm clock ready to signal the start of a new day.