Page images
[ocr errors]

get his clutches on the vile actor, who had dared enter the consecrated village of Salem.

One evening Mr. Waters returned as mysteriously as he had disappeared. His daughter was greatly rejoiced to see him and, after the joy of the first greeting was over, told of all that was transpiring and of the threats of Mr. Parris.

“You must go away,” he said.
" When?" she asked.
“On the morrow."

Charles had a short talk with Mr. Waters, and arrangements were made for the departure of Cora on the morrow. Mr. Waters retired late that night to his room. As he was in the act of undressing, he became conscious that a face was pressed against the window. He stood in the dark corner where he could scarce be seen. He held a pistol in his hand until the face disappeared from the window, and creeping to it, looked out. There stood a man in the broad glare of the moon. He had only to glance at his tall form and his ruffian features to recognize him as the brother of the overseer whom he had shot in Virginia. For ten minutes Mr. Waters did not move, but kept his eyes riveted on the man, who, instinct and reason told him, was an enemy.

At last the man retired down the path under the hill. Mr. Waters hurridly wrote a few lines on a scrap


paper, with

only the moon for his candle, and, folding the letter, addressed it to his daughter and laid it on his pillow. Then he opened the window and leaped out to the ground.

He followed the man under the hill, where he found him in conversation with three other men, Mr. Parris, John Bly and Louder.

He was near enough to hear what they said and catch their plans; but he did not wait to listen. As he was creeping among the bushes, a man suddenly rose before him. His dark, tawny skin, his blanket and features indicated that he was an aborigine. He had seen the white men under the hill, and he told Mr. Waters that he had ten braves at hand.

“Tell them to do no one harm, Oracus,” said Mr. Waters. “I have never harmed mankind, save in defence, and, God willing, I never will. I am going away.

The Indian silently bowed and disappeared into the forest. Mr. Waters paused under a large oak tree and gazed at the house where his daughter was sleeping so peacefully; then he went away to the great north woods.



Oh! lives there, Heaven, beneath thy dread expanse,
One hopeless, dark idolator of chance,
Content to feed, with pleasures unrefined
The lukewarm passions of a lowly mind?


CHARLES STEVENS was sleeping soundly, dreaming of Cora and peace, when there came a rap at the outer door. He rose and, but half-dressed, proceeded to open it. Four tall, dark men stood without. By the aid of the moon, he recognized Mr. Parris, Bly and Louder.

“Is Mr. Waters here?” asked Mr. Parris. “He is asleep in his room,” Charles answered.

“Awake him. This good man from Virginia wants to see him."

Charles turned away and went to Mr. Waters' room. The door was ajar, and, entering, he found the apartment vacant. An open window showed by what means Mr. Waters had made his escape. Charles hastened to inform the nocturnal visitors, and a scene ensued that can be as well imagined as

described. Charles was upbraided for aiding a criminal to escape. Mr. Joel Martin, the brother of the overseer shot in Virginia, was enraged that his brother's slayer should, after years of search, be discovered only to escape his clutches, while Mr. Parris, with assumed piety declared:

“It is ever thus, when one covenants with the devil. An actor in the theatres taken to the home and family of those claiming to be Christians. Verily, I am not surprised that he is also a murderer. When one lets go his hold on the Lord, there can be no crime to which he will not descend,”

The household was roused, and Cora was informed of her father's narrow escape.

Mr. Martin from Virginia had a requisition from that colony for his arrest. She wept, but said not a word. When the disappointed officers went away, Charles sought to comfort her; but she answered:

“Cruel fate seems to have doomed me to misery, Charles. Father cannot return; I cannot escape, and I feel that Mr. Parris is drawing a net about me, which will entangle my feet.”

“Trust in God, and all is well!” Charles answered. Often, in their darkest hours, her pious father had offered the same advice, for he was a firm believer in divine intervention in human affairs.

Next day a daughter of Goody Nurse came to the house, weeping as if her heart would break.

“What is the matter, Sarah ?" asked Mrs. Stevens.

“Mother is arrested!” sobbed the young woman. “Arrested!” “Yes." "For what charge?” Charles asked.

“For being a witch. A warrant has been sworn out against her, and she was taken away this morning.

Here the unfortunate young woman broke down and sobbed in silence.

“Where was she taken?" asked Mrs. Stevens.

“To jail and put in irons, for a witch must be put in irons. It is charged that she hath bewitched Abigail Williams and the other children of Mr. Parris' circle."

Were Mr. Parris a creation of fiction and not a real character of history, no doubt the critic would say he was overdrawn; but Samuel Parris was a living, breathing man, or a fiend in human form. He had a large following, and was spoken of as our beloved pastor. Mr. George Bancroft, America's greatest historian, says:*

“The delusion, but for Parris, would have languished. Of his own niece, the girl of eleven

* Bancroft's "History of the United States”, vol. ii., p. 256.

« PreviousContinue »