The clouds of smoke were lit by vivid flame, and when we went outside, we found ourselves choking, gasping for breath, the air thick with smoke-borne fragments.
I heard an explosion and saw a sudden uprush of fire - as high as a house. It was followed by screaming and the appearance of frightened people struggling up the lane toward us with horses, carts, children, bundles of belongings. The roar and crackle of the fire, screaming and shouting and rumble of carts, brought me to a state of panic.
Will turned to me. "Thou should go, Susanna. I'll come later."
"I will not go!" Tears stung my eyes, but they were half of rage. My voice rose. "Don't ask me to leave thee! I will not go!"
"Do not brawl with me in public! It is unseemly -"
"I care not if it is! I won't leave without thee!"
"There is danger -"
"If there's danger, we'll share it."
He seized me by the shoulders. "Thou'll do as I say! I want thee to be safe. Our Friends are waiting."
He was right. I knew it. And I knew I must give way in the end. But my heart was against it. I had such fear for him: of the fire itself, the desperate crowds, the great mass of people at the gates.
I made a last stand. "They say thousands are fleeing. We'll never find each other again!"
"Of course we will. Friends will help us."
"I don't want to leave thee," I said. But my voice was small now; he knew he'd won.
Excerpted from Forged in the Fire by Ann Turnbull. Copyright © 2007 by Ann Turnbull. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.