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duty of some one to care for the widow. She is
“Hold, Mr. Parris! If you are going to propose that I shall wed Sarah Williams, spare your words; I will not."
“Charles Stevens, do you seek death ?”
“None should wed where the heart is not. That bold, unscrupulous woman has already won my contempt.”
“ Have a care!”
“Go tell her that Charles Stevens prefers death on the gibbet to becoming her husband.”
Mr. Parris gazed on the helpless prisoner for several minutes, his thin lips curled with a sneering smile.
“Charles Stevens," he said in low measured tones, "you are a fool. Do you know what it is to die? Have you counted the cost of a leap in the dark?”
“No sane man courts death; yet to the Christian, who hath kept God's commands, the monster is robbed of half his terrors. God has wisely constituted us so that we dread death. If we did not, we would not be willing to endure the misfortunes, disappointments and ills which afflict us from the cradle to the grave; but the Christian can say welcome to death in preference to dishonor. I thank my God, Samuel Parris, that I can, with the
prophets of old, say, 0, grave, where is thy vic
“Charles Stevens, have you ever thought that, after all, this, too, may be a delusion? That the Bible may be only the uninspired work of man, and that there may be no beyond—no God, save in nature?"
“So you have turned atheist?” cried Charles. “Perhaps you have been one all along?”
“Charles Stevens, one cannot help their doubts."
“One need not be a hypocrite, Mr. Parris. One can even drive doubts away. The true Christian never doubts and never fears. Pray for faith, have faith in your prayers, believe and ask God to help your unbelief, and doubts will disappear.'
Charles, you are too young, too wise to die. Accept Sarah Williams and live.”
“Never! Away, hypocrite! Schemer, begone!"
The pastor, quite humbled, turned and went from the prison. There was a malignant gleam in his great wicked eyes, which boded the unfortunate prisoner no good.
For several weeks longer, Charles Stevens languished in prison. Cora, her father and mother came to Salem and visited him. When Cora Waters gazed on the young man, from whom she had parted a few weeks before in the full vigor of his young life and strength, and saw him emaci
ated, weak and pale, so that she scarcely knew him, she broke down and wept. The two were left alone in the cell. Then Charles told her how uncertain were his chances of life, and how impending his prospects of death. He could not quit this life without telling her that he loved her, and that he wished to live to make her his wife. Though that pleasure was forever denied him, it would make his last days more agreeable to know that his love was returned. What answer could she make?
could she make? She, whose fondest hope this had been, said nothing; but, with heart overflowing, she threw her arms about the prisoner and burst into tears. Had she won him only to lose him? Was he to be snatched from her side at the very moment that she found him her own?
“No, no, no! they shall not! they shall not!” she sobbed.
From that day, Cora shared the imprisonment of her lover, so far as the jailer would permit. She added to his comfort and assured him that her undying love would follow him to the grave. Their hopes rose and sank as the day of trial drew near.
The fatal day came at last, and Charles was arraigned before the court of oyer and terminer on charge of the murder of one Samuel Williams.