Page images

went to the church that afternoon. The place was thronged. Parris, with the triumphant gleam of a devil on his hypocritical features, was in the pulpit with the elders. The deacons presided below. The sheriff and his officers brought in the witch and led her up the broad aisle, her chains clanking as she stepped, and her poor old limbs scarcely able to bear their weight. As she stood in the middle of the aisle, the Reverend Mr. Noyes pronounced her sentence of expulsion from the church on earth and from all hope of salvation hereafter. Having freely given her soul to Satan by a seven years' service for diabolical powers, she was delivered over to him forever. In conclusion, Reverend Mr. Noyes said:

“And now, vile woman, having sold yourself to the Devil, go to your master amid the hottest flames of hell!”

She was aware that every eye regarded her with horror and hate, unapproached under any circumstances; but she was able to sustain it. still calm and at peace that day, and during the fortnight of final waiting. When the fatal day of execution came, she traversed the streets of Salem, between the houses in which she had been an honored guest, and surrounded by well-known faces, and then there was the hard, hard task, for her aged limbs, of climbing the rocky and steep path

She was

[ocr errors][merged small]



on Witches' Hill to the place where the gibbets stood in a row, and the hangman was waiting for her. Sarah Good and six others of whom Salem chose to be rid that day went with her.

It was the 19th of July, 1692, when, at a signal, all eight swung off into eternity, and Reverend Mr. Noyes, in his zeal, pointing to the swaying bodies, said:

“There hang eight fire-brands of hell!”

Mr. Parris, unable to conceal his triumph, declared these the most holy words ever uttered by lips not divine.

The bodies were put away on the hill like so many dead dogs; but during the silent watches of the night, Charles Stevens and the sons and grandsons of Rebecca Nurse disinterred her and brought her remains home where a coffin had been prepared. Mrs. Stevens and Cora Waters dressed the body in most becoming robes. All kissed the cold dead face of one they loved, as she lay in a rear room, the windows blinded and a guard outside. Then the body was hurriedly buried in a grave prepared in the field, where soon after the afflicted husband slept at her side.

Considering such horrible events, one can but conclude that superstition was having full sway.



'Tis a bleak wild, but green and bright
In the summer warmth and the mid-day light,
There's the hum of the bee and the chirp of the wren,
And the dash of the brook from the older glen.
There's the sound of the bell from the scattered flock,
And the shade of the beach lies cool on the rock,
And fresh from the west is the free-wind's breath.
There is nothing here that speaks of death.


SHORTLY after the arrest and incarceration of Goodwife Nurse, Reverend Deodat Lawson, an eminent Boston divine, came to Salem village. All land travel at that time was on horse-back. He lodged at the house of Nathaniel Ingersol near the home of the minister Mr. Parris. The appearance of a foreigner in the village was at once the signal for making a new convert, and the afflicted put themselves on exhibition to convince him that evil spirits were abroad. He had been but a short time at the house of Ingersol, when Captain Walcut's daughter Mary came to see him

« PreviousContinue »