« PreviousContinue »
years of age, he demanded the names of the devil's instruments, who bewitched the band of the afflicted,' and then became at once informer and witness. In those days, there was no prosecuting officer, and Parris was at hand to question his Indian servants and others, himself prompting their answers and acting as recorder to the magistrates. The recollection of the old controversy in the parish could not be forgotten; and Parris, moved by personal malice as well as blind zeal, “stified the accusation of some,' such is the testimony of the people of his own village, and, at the same time, 'vigilantly promoting the accusation of others,' was 'the beginning and procurer of the afflictions of Salem village and country.' Martha Corey, who, on her examination in the meetinghouse, before a throng, with a firm spirit, alone, against them all, denied the presence of witchcraft, was committed to prison. Rebecca Nurse, likewise a woman of purest life, an object of special hatred of Parris, resisted the company of accusers, and was committed. And Parris, filling his prayers with the theme, made the pulpit ring with it. 'Have not I chosen you twelve,'—such was his text,—“and one of you is a devil?'
At this, Sarah Cloyce, sister to Rebecca Nurse, rose up and left the meeting-house, and she, too, was cried out upon and sent to prison.”
Mrs. Stevens, her son and Cora Waters tried to soothe the fears of the poor young maid, who, in her hour of affliction, childlike, had flown to her friends with her tale of woe.
“I will go at once and denounce Mr. Parris for the part he has played in this!” cried Charles, starting from the house. At the little gate, he was overtaken by Cora, who, laying her hand on his
“Don't go, Charles. Don't leave the house while in this heat of passion."
“Cora, I cannot endure that hypocrite longer. He is a devil, not a man, to carry his malice so far."
“But reflect, Charles. What you might say in the heat of your anger can do poor Goody Nurse no good.”
“It will be a relief to me.”
“No; it may engender future trouble. This is a trying hour; the danger is great; let us take time for deliberation."
He was persuaded by Cora to say nothing at that time and returned to the house.
To the sorrowing daughter had been administered such consolation as faithful, loving friends could offer, and she went home hoping that her unfortunate mother might yet escape the wrath of Mr. Parris.
"It is all the work of Samuel Parris," declared
Mrs. Stevens. “Because Goody Nurse opposed his ministry, he seeks revenge.
“Parris is an unworthy man,” Charles declared.
Before he could say more, Cora Waters, who had posted herself as a sentry at the door said:
“Here comes Ann Putnam."
At mention of this woman's name, both Charles and his mother became silent. She was the mother of one of the afflicted children, and was herself of high nervous temperament, undisciplined in mind, and an absolute devotee to ber pastor. She was at this time about thirty years of age, with blue eyes, brown hair and face fair and round. As she entered the door, almost out of breath, she cried:
“I come, Goody Stevens, to be the bearer of what I trust will be welcome tidings. Goody Nurse hath been arrested and sent to prison for her grievously tormenting the family of Mr. Parris and myself.”
“Can you suspect that such news will be welcome tidings in this home?” cried Mrs. Stevens. “ Ann Putnam, truly you must believe that I am unworthy to be called woman, if you think I can rejoice at the downfall of that good woman."
“Good woman!” shrieked Ann Putnam, stamping her foot on the floor with such force as to make the house quiver. “Good woman! She is a witch! She opposed our beloved pastor his stipend;
she wished to remove him, and because she failed, she now assails his household with her witchcraft. Oh, vile creature, I would I had never seen her!”
“Ann Putnam, you are deluded.”
“Deluded!” shrieked Ann Putnam, her eyes flashing with fire. Could
all but see me in my sore afflictions, could you but know the fits I have, and witness the suffering of her victims, you would not call it delusion."
“Ann Putnam, Mr. Parris has so wrought upon your imagination, that you are insane."
At the attempt to impute anything evil to her beloved pastor, Ann Putnam's rage knew no bounds, and, in a voice choking with wrath, she declared that Mr. Parris was the most saintly man living.
“His zeal for the cause of Christ hath brought down upon him the wrath of the worldly minded. He is a saint—a glorious saint, and because he denounced Cora Waters for being the child of a player, you would malign him.”
“Ann Putnam," interrupted 'Charles Stevens, "you have no right to impugn the motives of
my mother, nor to assail our guest. The zeal of Mr. Parris has made a monster of him.
He is a wicked, cruel, revengeful man, rather than a follower of the meek and lowly Lamb of God.”
“I will not stay where my blessed pastor is
spoken so ill of!” declared Ann Putnam, and she bounded out of the door, shaking the dust off her shoes. At the gate, she paused and held her fist in the air, and at the height of her masculine voice screamed:
“I denounce you! I cry out against you, Hattie Stevens! I will to do no more with you!” and having performed that wonderful act of discarding a former friend, she turned about and hurried over the hill.
“Charles, I am sorry you and your mother angered her,” said Cora.
“Why, Cora ?” he asked. " She can do us ill."
“Ann Putnam is an evil woman and a fit follower of such a man as Parris," declared Charles. "My mother did a noble act in denouncing him."
“It is time, Charles,” interrupted Cora. “I feel, I know that if evil befalls you, I am the cause. I must go away.
I cannot remain here to prove the ruin of those who befriended me. away.
“Where would you go?”
“I know not where; but I will go anywhere, so that I may not prove the ruin of my friends. The wild heathen in the forest could not be more cruel than these people.”
“Cora, you shall not go!” cried Charles. “No,
I must go