|Algonquin Village in what is now North Carolina, c. late 1600's.|
Arbella knows that no man will ever want her, remaining unaware of the attentions of one fine-upstanding Boston merchant and the frank admiration of his brother, an uncaring sailor with his own ship. But Arbella doesn't dream of husband and marriage. Her goal? To dig up her dead family's chest of silver, hurriedly buried before the Indians attacked.
These Boston Puritans, thinks Arbella, speak loudly of God, but really value money. With her family's reclaimed hoard, she will be beholden to no one. Her white foster mother among the Algonquin, also missing life with the tribe, is now a ward of the Puritans. With funds, Arbella can buy her foster mother's freedom. Together, they will build a home and a life.
|Puritan children, raised as tiny adults, lives filled with prayer and fear of damnation|
Gradually, she begins to pry away the religious terrors that imprison him, giving him strength and confidence through a purported magic red stone.
|This is Ann Hutchison on trial, |
but it might as well be Arbella.
There's a lame book-end front and back, about a wimpy poor 1950's girl who hates her silly first name (Arbella) and thinks she's not good enough for the wealthy boy who loves her, but any silliness there is overwhelmed by the 1700's Arbella's story. The lessons here are about self-reliance and interdependence, in a lovely mix.
It's delicious, also, to remember that this novel was written by one Dorothy Butters, a shy, bookish young woman, married to someone who nearly engulfed her--
--until she divorced him and became best-selling author Dorothy Gilman, writing, among other things, the Mrs. Pollifax series, about a sixty-year-old widow ready to end her life until she offers up her services to the CIA and becomes the world's oldest, and most competent, and crazily-hatted spy.
Original book copy for Witch's Silver:
"It was in puritanical Boston town of 1703 that Arbella Hewitt, once tribal sister to an Indian, set heads to wagging and tongues to clucking when with singlehearted zeal she set out into the north woods with a frail little boy cousin as her only companion and a worn red stone as a make-believe talisman. She was seeking, not confidence, for she had plenty of that, but a buried chest of heirloom silver that could give her freedom from her patronizing relatives."