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Rev. Mr. Lawson, unaccustomed to these interruptions, was greatly annoyed and had to pause frequently in his sermon. Goodwife Corey was present at the time, and Abigail Williams, in the midst of the sermon, cried out:
“Look! look, where Goodwife Corey sits on the beam, suckling her yellow bird betwixt her fin
At this, Ann Putnam, the daughter of Thomas Putnam, said:
“There is a yellow bird sitting on Mr. Lawson's hat, where it hangs on the pin in the pulpit.”
Those who sat nearest the girls tried to restrain them from speaking aloud; but it was in vain; for, despite all precaution, they would occasionally blurt out some ridiculous nonsense, which the people attributed to the results of witchcraft.
“Charles Stevens, what say you, now that your eyes have witnessed these abominations?” said John Bly.
“I if I had my way, I would cure them,” answered the youth.
“How would you, pray?" Bly asked.
“Beware, Charles Stevens, how you speak so lightly of these afflictions, lest you bring on yourself the same condemnation of those on Witches' Hill.»
There are some spirits so bold, that they overawe and intimidate even an enraged populace. Martin Luther's very audacity saved him, on more than one occasion, and something like the same spirit enabled Charles Stevens to overcome or overawe the deluded populace of Salem.
A few days after the execution of Goody Nurse, he was passing the meeting house, when he was accosted by the West Indian negro, John.
“You not believe in witches?” said John.
“John, I believe you lied. I believe you have perjured yourself and sent your soul to endless torment," answered Charles Stevens. John was a cunning rascal and thought to give him a proof positive of the powers of witchcraft. He fell down in a fit, and Charles applied his cane to him until he ran howling away effectually cured, while Charles, disgusted with the black-skinned African, left him and hurried out of the village.
Charles Stevens' favorite walk was across the brook and among the great old oak trees beyond. His mind was greatly harassed and, like all great minds when perplexed, sought solitude. He went farther and farther into the woods and sat down upon a large stone. The recent trial of Goody Nurse, her conviction and execution moved his
soul. He could not understand how people, civilized and enlightened, could be so deceived by what, to him, was so apparent.
Charles knew that all were not dishonest in their belief. He even believed that some of the actors in this tragedy were sincere, but had been overpersuaded by Mr. Parris, whom he set down as the prime mover in it all.
He sat for a long time, much longer than he supposed, reflecting on the past, and planning for the future, when he was startled by hearing footsteps coming toward him. He raised his head, and saw a young Indian brave, with his blanket wrapped about his shoulders, carrying a bow in his hand. His head was ornamented with a bunch of feathers, and his face was painted with all the gorgeous hues of savage barbaric art. nized Charles Stevens, for, advancing toward him with a smile, he extended his hand saying:
“My white brother is not happy. What has made him sad?”
The Indian was a good judge of human character, and in the face of the young white man he read a look of sorrow.
“The white men of Salem are very wicked, Oracus,” said Charles. “Not only are they wicked to their red brothers, but to their white brothers, as well. They have taken the old and
helpless, the weak and forlorn, and put them to death."
The young savage folded his arms across his massive chest and stood for a long time in silence. His eyes were upon the ground, and his stolid features were without show of emotion. His people had suffered wrongs at the hands of the white men; but in this one he had ever found an earnest, true friend.
There existed between Charles and the brave a bond of brotherhood as enduring as life. The young chief inquired what had been done at the village, and Charles proceeded to tell him all, in as few words as possible, of the arrest, trial and execution of Goody Nurse and others. When he had completed the terrible story, the young chief drew his blanket about his shoulders and said:
“I am your friend, and if your white brothers prove false, remember your red brother will be
“I believe you, Oracus."
“I have shown one white brother through the paths, away from his enemies, and you will always find Oracus in his forest home ready to befriend you."
“The time may come when I will need your aid,” said Charles Stevens.
After a long interview, he rose and started home.
He was near the great bridge which spanned the brook, when he suddenly came upon a tall, powerful man,
whose sallow face and cavalier-like manner showed him to be a citizen of the southern colonies. Charles instantly recognized him as Mr. Joel Martin, the man whom he had seen on that night with Mr. Parris, Bly and Louder, coming to arrest Cora's father.
“You are Charles Stevens?" the Virginian said, halting before the youth.
“I have no desire to deny my name, for it is that of an honest man; I am Charles Stevens," he answered.
“Do you know who I am ?”
“I suspect you are one whom I saw at my house, though your name I have not learned.”
“I am Joel Martin, and by profession an overseer on a Virginia plantation. There were but two of us, my brother and I. He was an overseer of an adjoining plantation, when one day a slave escaped. He pursued him and was slain.”
“I have heard the story," interrupted Charles. “You have? and from his own lips?”
“I have; and I do not blame the man who was seeking liberty. He was a white man, as you yourself are. He had committed no crime, save that he was arrested as one of Monmouth's insurgents and had been captured while in the ranks of the rebel.”