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while the citizens were at church. Mothers carried their babes to the meeting-house in preference to remaining at home in the absence of husbands and neighbors. The Sabbath patrol was not only for the purpose of looking for Indians, but to mark the absentees from worship, note what they were doing, and give information accordingly to the authorities. These patrols were chosen from the leading men of the community—the most active, vigilant and sensible—and one can easily perceive that much ill-will might have accumulated in the hearts of those whom they saw fit to report. Such ill-will had its day of triumph when the Salem tragedy reached its climax.
Levity, mirth and joy were condemned by the Puritans, and nearly all amusements were discarded. The merry whistle of the lad was ungodly in their eyes, and Charles Stevens had come in for his share of the reproof because God had given him a light heart. Life to them was sombre, and, usually, sombre lives lead to bloodshed, crime and fanaticism.
Charles sought to instil some of his joy into the sad life of the unfortunate maid. To him the sun shone brightly, the flowers bloomed radiantly, and the birds sang sweetly for the pleasure of man. Life was earnest, but not austere, and religion did not demand gloom.
“Have no care for what Mr. Parris may say," he said. “His congregation is divided against him, and he cannot harm you.”
“Only a little longer, just a little longer, and I, will be gone where they can torment me no more,” answered Cora. “In the forests of Maine, I will be hidden from the eyes of my enemies and be alone with God.”
They rose and wandered down the path on either side of which the densest of thickets grew. Both were lost in thought. A shadow had come over the face of Charles Stevens the moment Cora spoke of going away.
He had never admitted even to himself that he loved her; yet, ever since that stormy night when he volunteered to brave the tempest and conducted her home, he had been strangely impressed with Cora.
The mystery of her early life was somewhat repugnant to one of his plain, outspoken nature; yet, with all that, he was forcibly impressed by her sweet, pure and sad disposition.
They were wandering pensively hand in hand toward his mother's home, when a voice called to them from across the brook. The sound of the voice broke the spell, and, looking up, he saw Sarah Williams coming toward them.
“Hold, will you, Charles Stevens, until I speak to the one who accompanies you."
The young widow was greatly excited, and her voice trembled with emotion.
'Who is that woman ?” asked Cora, trembling with agitation.
" At church. She was the one who upbraided Goody Nurse for being a witch.”
Cora was greatly agitated, as she saw Sarah Williams, with demoniacal fury, hastening toward her. Surely she would do her no injury, for Cora was not conscious of ever having given her offence.
“Have no fears, Cora, she will not harm you. I trow it is some commonplace matter of which she would speak.'
Thus assured, she had almost ceased to dread the approach of the woman, when Sarah Williams suddenly cried, in a voice trembling with fury:
“Cora Waters, have you no sense of shame? Are you wholly given up to the evil one?”
“What mean you?” Cora asked.
“False tool of Satan! Did not your shape come at me last night?"
“ Assuredly not.”
“Oh woman, woman! why will you speak so falsely? I saw you.”
“Last night, as I lay in my bed, you came and choked me, because I would not sign the little red book which you carried in your hand.”
Filled with wonder, Charles Stevens turned his eyes upon Cora, whose face expressed blank amazement, and asked:
"What does this mean?”
“I take God to be my witness, that I know nothing of it, no more than the child unborn,” she answered.
"Woe is the evil one, who speaks falsely when accused!” cried the enraged Sarah Williams. Then she closed her fist and made an effort to strike Cora, who, with a scream, shrunk from her.
“Hold, Sarah Williams! Don't judge hastily, or you may judge wrongly.”
“Go to! hold your peace, Charles Stevens, for, verily, I know whereof I speak, when I charge that the shape of Cora Waters does grievously torment me."
“Are you mad?” "No." “Then of what do you accuse her?” “She is a witch." At this awful accusation both Charles and Cora
shrunk back in dismay, and for a moment neither could speak; but Sarah Williams was not silent. She continued upbraiding the unfortunate girl, heaping charge upon charge on her innocent head, until Cora felt as if she needs must sink beneath the load.
“You have bewitched my cows; my sheep and swine die mysteriously. Your form is seen oft at night riding through the air. My poultry die strangely and mysteriously, and my dog has fits. Even my poor cat hath fallen under the evil spell which you cast on all about me. Alas, Cora Waters, you are bold and bad. Charles Stevens, beware how you are seen about her, lest the wrath that will fall upon her head involve you in ruin.”
Cora Waters, leaning against a tree, covered her face with her hands and murmured:
“Oh, God! wilt thou save me from the wrath of these misguided people?"
“See how she blasphemes! For a witch to call on the name of God is blasphemy of the very worst kind. Away, witch!” and Sarah stamped her foot in violence upon the ground.
“Stay, Cora!” Charles interposed, very calmly. Then he turned upon Sarah Williams, and added:
“You accuse her falsely, Sarah. Beware how you charge her of what the law makes a crime, or you may have to answer in a court for slander.”