Columbian Historical Novels
By JOHN R. MUSICK
With Reading Courses
Being a Complete History of the United States from the Time of Columbus to the Present Day
ONE HUNDRED PHOTOGRAVURES, HALF-TONE PLATES, MAPS OF THE PERIODS AND NUMEROUS PEN-AND-INK DRAWINGS, BY F. A. CARTER
THE R. H. WHITTEN COMPANY New York Los Angeles
Copyright, 1906, by FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
Printed in the United States of America
COLUMBIAN HISTORICAL NOVELS VOLUME VII
THE WITCH OF SALEM or Credulity Run Mad
JOHN R MUSICK
Illustrations by FREELAND A. CARTER
THE R. H. WHITTEN COMPANY New York Los Angeles
Copyright, 1893, by the FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
[Registered at Stationers' Hall, London, Eng.]
Printed in the United States
It is a difficult task to go back to ages by-gone, to divest ourselves of what we know and are and form a clear conception of generations that have been, of their experiences, objects, modes of life, thought and expression. It is a task better suited to the novelist than the historian, and even the former treads on dangerous ground in attempting it. One of the prime objects of the Columbian Historical Novels is to give the reader as clear an idea as possible of the common people, as well as of the rulers of the age. The author has endeavored at the risk of criticism to clothe the speeches of his characters in the dialect and idioms peculiar to the age in which they lived. In the former volumes, sentences most criticised are those taken literally as spoken or written at the time. Though it would seem that a few critics grow more severe the nearer an author approaches the truth, yet the greater number of thinking men and women who review these books are students themselves, and the author who adheres to the language of a by-gone age has nothing to fear from them.
The "Witch of Salem" is designed to cover twenty years in the history of the United States, or from the year 1680 to 1700, including all the principal features of this period. Charles Stevens of Salem, with Cora Waters, the daughter of an indented slave, whose father was captured at the time of the overthrow of the Duke of Monmouth, are the principal characters. Samuel Parris, the chief actor in the Salem tragedy, is a serious study, and has been painted, after a careful research, according to the conception formed of him. No greater villain ever lived in any age. He had scarce a redeeming feature. His religion was hypocrisy, superstition, revenge and bigotry. His ambition led him to deeds of atrocity unsurpassed. Having drawn the information on which this story is founded from what seem the most reliable sources, and woven the story in a way which it is hoped will be pleasing and instructive, we send this volume forth to speak for itself.
JOHN R. MUSICK.
Kirksville, Mo., Oct. 1st, 1892.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER I. THE MAN WITH THE BOOK, 1
CHAPTER II. PENNSYLVANIA, 23
CHAPTER III. THE INDENTED SLAVE, 43
CHAPTER IV. MR. PARRIS AND FLOCK, 65
CHAPTER V. A NIGHT WITH WITCHES, 81
CHAPTER VI. THE CHARTER OAK, 101
CHAPTER VII. TWO MEN WHO LOOK ALIKE, 116
CHAPTER VIII. MOVING ONWARD, 134
CHAPTER IX. CHARLES AND CORA, 152
CHAPTER X. CHARLES AND MR. PARRIS, 172
CHAPTER XI. ADELPHA LEISLER, 191
CHAPTER XII. LEISLER'S FATE, 216
CHAPTER XIII. CREDULITY RUN MAD, 234
CHAPTER XIV. THE FATE OF GOODY NURSE, 256
CHAPTER XV. "YOUR MOTHER A WITCH!" 276
CHAPTER XVI. ESCAPE AND FLIGHT, 290
CHAPTER XVII. OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE, 306
CHAPTER XVIII. SUPERSTITION REIGNS, 327
CHAPTER XIX. THE WOMAN IN BLACK, 346
CHAPTER XX. CONCLUSION, 364
HISTORICAL INDEX, 383
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
William Penn making his treaty of peace and friendship with the Indians (See page 32), Frontispiece
"Take it away!" 1
"Cannot rise! Prythee, what ails you, friend?" 11
Seizing a firebrand, he searched for the print of the cloven foot, 21
William Penn, 27
"We all rose in the air on broomsticks," 95
Charles Stevens, at one sweep, snuffed out every candle on the table, 108
The Charter Oak, 113
The sturdy wife assailed him with her mop-stick and drove him away, 147
"Then you may both go down—down to the infernal regions together!" 189
"Which of the twain shall it be?" 213
Eight men, bearing litters, were at the door. All were dripping with water, 233
At every stroke he repeated, "I do this in the name of the Lord," 239
"Its motions were quicker than those of my axe," 250
The sheriff brought the witch up the broad aisle, her chains clanking as she stepped, 274
The jail trembled to its very centre, 301
Nought was to be seen, save massacre and pillage on every side, 310
The resolute father continued to fire as he retreated, 320
Lieut.-Gov. Stoughton, 330
George Waters cut two stout sticks for crutches, 353
"Charles Stevens, do you seek death?" 371
Cotton Mather, 380
Witches' Hill, 382
Map of the period, 306
THE WITCH OF SALEM.
THE MAN WITH THE BOOK.
Through shades and solitudes profound, The fainting traveler wends his way; Bewildering meteors glare around, And tempt his wandering feet astray. —Montgomery.
The autumnal evening was cool, dark and gusty. Storm-clouds were gathering thickly overhead, and the ground beneath was covered with rustling leaves, which, blighted by the early frosts, lay helpless and dead at the roadside, or were made the sport of the wind. A solitary horseman was slowly plodding along the road but a few miles from the village of Salem. In truth he was so near to the famous Puritan village, that, through the hills and intervening tree-tops, he could have seen the spires of the churches had he raised his melancholy eyes from the ground. The rider was not a youth, nor had he reached middle age. His face was handsome, though distorted with agony. Occasionally he pressed his hand to his side as if in pain; but maugre pain, weariness, or anguish, he pressed on, admonished by the lengthening shadows of the approach of night. Turning his great, sad, brown eyes at last to where the road wound about the valley across which the distant spires of Salem could be seen, he sighed:
"Can I reach it to-night? I must!"
Salem, that strange village to which the horseman was wending his way, in October, 1684, was a different village from the Salem of to-day. It is a town familiar to every American student, and, having derived its fame more from its historic recollections than from its commerce or industries, its name carries us back two centuries, suggesting the faint and transient image of the life of the Pilgrim Fathers, who gave that sacred name to the place of their chosen habitation. Whatever changes civilization or time may bring about, the features of natural scenery are, for the most part, unalterable. Massachusetts Bay is as it was when the Pilgrim Fathers first beheld it. On land, there are still the craggy hills, with jutting promontories of granite, where the barberries grow, and room is found in the narrow valleys for small farms, and for apple trees, and little slopes of grass, and patches of tillage where all else looks barren.
The scenery is not more picturesque to-day, than on that chill autumnal eve, when the strange horseman was urging his jaded steed along the path which led to the village. His garments were travel-stained and his features haggard.
Three hunters with guns on their shoulders were not half a mile in advance of the horseman. They, too, evidently had passed a day of arduous toil; for climbing New England hills in search of the wild deer was no easy task.
They were men who had hardly reached middle age; but their grave Puritanic demeanor made them look older than they were. Their conversation was grave, gloomy and mysterious. There was little light or frivolous about them, for to them life was sombre. The hunt was not sport, but arduous toil, and their legs were so weary they could scarcely drag themselves along.
"Now we may rejoice, John Bly, that home is within sight, for truly I am tired, and I think I could not go much farther," one of the pedestrians remarked to the man at his side.
"Right glad will I be when we are near!" answered the fatigued John Bly. "This has been a hard day with fruitless result."
"We have had some fair shots to-day," put in a third man, who walked a little behind the others.
"Verily, we have; yet what profits it to us, Samuel Gray, when our guns fail to carry the ball to the place? I had as many fair shots to-day as would bring down a dozen bucks, and yet I missed every time. You know full well I am not one to miss."
"You are not, John Louder."
Then the three men looked mysteriously at each other. They were all believers in supernatural agencies, and the fact that such a faultless marksman should miss was enough to establish in their minds a belief that other than natural causes were at work. There could be no other reason given that John Louder should miss his mark, than that his gun was "bewitched." It was an age when the last dying throes of superstition seemed fastening on the people's minds, and the spasmodic struggle threatened to upset their reason. The New Englander's mind was prepared for mysteries as the fallow ground is prepared for the seed. He was busied conquering the rugged earth and making it yield to his husbandry. His time was divided between arduous toil for bread and fighting the Indians. He was hemmed in by a gloomy old forest, the magnitude of which he did not dream, and it was only natural, with his fertile imagination, narrow perceptions and limited knowledge, that he would see strange sights and hear strange sounds. Images and visions which have been portrayed in tales of romance and given interest to the pages of poetry were made by him to throng the woods, flit through the air and hover over the heads of terrified officials, whose learning should have placed them beyond the bounds of superstition. The ghosts of murdered wives, husbands and children played their part with a vividness of representation and artistic skill of expression hardly surpassed in scenic representation on the stage. The superstition of the Middle Ages was embodied in real action, with all its extravagant absurdities and monstrosities. This, carried into the courts of law, where the relations of society and conduct or feelings of individuals were suffered to be under control of fanciful or mystical notions, could have but one effect. When a whole people abandoned the solid ground of common sense, overleaped the boundaries of human knowledge, gave itself up to wild reveries, and let loose its passions without restraint, the result was more destructive to society than a Vesuvius to Pompeii. When John Louder said his gun was bewitched, there was no incredulous smile on his companions' faces.
The political complexion of New England at that time no doubt had much to do with the superstitious awe which overspread that country. Within the recollection of many inhabitants, the parent government had changed three times. Charles II. had lived such a life of furious dissipation, that his earthly career was drawing to a close.
The New England people were zealous theologians, and Massachusetts and Plymouth hated above all sects the Roman Catholics. Charles II. could not reign long, and James, Duke of York, his brother, would be his successor, as it was generally known that Charles II. had no legitimate heir. It was hoped by some that his illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, a Protestant, might succeed him. Some had even hinted that Charles II., while flying from Cromwell, had secretly married Lucy Waters, the mother of the duke; but this has never been proved in history.
The somewhat ostentatious manner in which the Duke of York had been accustomed to go to mass, during the life of his brother, was the chief cause of the general dislike in which he was held. Even Charles, giddy and careless as he was in general, saw the imprudence of James' conduct, and significantly told him on one occasion that he had no desire to go upon his travels again, whatever James might wish. When it became currently reported all over the American colonies that this bigoted Catholic would, on the death of his brother, become their ruler, the New Englanders began to tremble for their religion. There was murmuring from every village and plantation, keeping society in a constant ferment.
The three hunters were still discussing their ill luck when the sound of horse's hoofs fell on their ears, and they turned slowly about to see a stranger approaching them on horseback. His sad, gray eye had something wild and supernatural about it. His costume had at one time been elegant, but was now stained with dust and travel. It included a wrought flowing neckcloth, a sash covered with a silver-laced red cloth coat, a satin waistcoat embroidered with gold, a trooping scarf and a silver hat-band. His trousers, which were met above the knees by a pair of riding boots, like the remainder of his attire, was covered with dust.
The expression of pain on his face was misconstrued by the superstitious hunters into a look of fiendish triumph, and John Louder, seizing the arm of Bly, whispered:
"It is he!"
"I know it, Bly, for he hath followed me all day."
"Then wherefore not give him the ball, which he hath guarded from the deer?"
"It would be of no avail, John. A witch cannot be killed with lead. He would throw the ball in my face and laugh at me."
The three walked hastily along, casting wary and uneasy glances behind as the horseman drew nearer. Each trembled lest the horseman should speak, and once or twice he seemed as if he would; but pain, or some other cause unknown to the hunters, prevented his doing so. He rode swiftly by, disappearing over the hill in the direction of Salem.
When he was out of sight the three hunters paused, and, falling on their knees, each uttered a short prayer for deliverance from Satan. As they rose, John Louder said:
"Now I know full well, good men, that he is the wizard who hath tampered with my gun."
"Who is he?"
"Ah! well may you ask, Samuel Gray, who he is; a stranger, the black man, the devil, who hath assumed this form to mislead and torment us. One can only wonder at the various cunning of Satan," and Louder sighed.
"Truly you speak, friend John," Bly answered. "The enemy of men's souls is constantly on the lookout for the unwary."
"I have met him and wrestled with him, until I was almost overcome; but, having on the whole armor of God, I did cry out 'Get thee behind me, Satan!' and, behold, I could smell the sulphur of hell, as the gates were opened to admit the prince of darkness."
The shades of night were creeping over the earth, and the three weary hunters were not yet within sight of their homes, when the horseman who had so strangely excited their fears drew rein at a spring not a fourth of a mile from the village of Salem and allowed his horse to drink. He pressed his hand to his side, as if suffering intolerable anguish, and murmured:
"Will I find shelter there?"
Overcome by suffering, he at last slipped from his saddle and, sitting among the rustling leaves heedless of the lowering clouds and threatened storm, buried his face in his hands. Two hours had certainly elapsed since he first came in sight of Salem, and yet so slow had been his pace, that he had not reached the village; but on the earth, threatened with a raging tempest, he breathed in feeble accents a prayer to God for strength to perform the great and holy task on which he was bent. He was sick and feeble. In his side was a wound that might prove fatal, and to this he occasionally pressed his hand as if in pain.
He who heareth the poor when they cry unto Him, answered the prayer of the desolate. A farmer boy came along whistling merrily despite the approaching night and storm. Not the chilling blasts of October, the dread of darkness, nor the cold world could depress the spirits of Charles Stevens, the merry lad of Salem. In fact, he was so merry that, by the straight-laced Puritans, he was thought ungodly. He had a predisposition to whistling and singing, and was of "a light and frivolous carriage." He laughed at the sanctity of some people, and was known to smile even on the Lord's Day. When, in the exuberance of his spirits, his feet kept time to his whistling, the good Salemites were horrified by the ungodly dance.
Charles Stevens, however, had a better heart, and was a truer Christian than many of those sanctimonious critics, who sought to restrain the joy and gladness with which God filled his soul. It was this good Samaritan who came upon the suffering stranger whom the three Puritans had condemned in their own minds as an emissary of the devil.
"Why do you sit here, sir?" Charles asked, leaving off his whistle. "Night is coming on, and it is growing so chill and cold, you must keep moving, or surely you will perish."
"I cannot rise," was the answer.
"Cannot rise! prythee, what ails you, friend?"
"I am sick, sore and wounded."
"Wounded!" cried Charles, "and sick, too!"
His sharp young eyes were enabled to penetrate the deepening shades of twilight, and he saw a ghastly pallor overspreading the man's face, who, pressing his hand upon his side, gave vent to gasps of keen agony. His left side was stained with blood.
"You are wounded!" Charles Stevens at last declared. "Pray, how came it about?"
"I was fired upon by an unseen foe, for what cause I know not, as, being a stranger in these parts, I have had no quarrel."
"Come, let me help you to rise."
"No, it is useless. I am tired and too faint to go further. Let me lie here. I will soon be dead, and all this agony will be over."
At this, the cheerful mind of Charles Stevens asserted itself by inspiring hope in the heart of the fainting stranger.
"No, no, my friend, never give up. Don't say die, so long as you live. It is but a few rods further to the home where I live with my mother. I can help you walk so far, and there you can get rested and warmed, and mother will dress your wound."
"Can I go?" the traveller asked.
"Men can do wonders when they try."
"Then I will try."
"I will help you."
The boy threw his strong arm around the man and raised him to his feet; but his limbs no longer obeyed his will, and he sank again upon the ground.
"It is of no avail, my good boy. I cannot go. Leave me to die."
Charles turned his eyes about to look for the stranger's horse; but it had strayed off in the darkness. To search for him would be useless, and for a moment the good Samaritan stood as if in thought; then, stripping off his coat and wrapping it around the wounded man, he said hopefully:
"I will be back soon, don't move," and he hurried away swiftly toward home. On reaching the threshold, he thanked God that he was not a wanderer on such a night.
The New England kitchen, with its pewter-filled dresser, reflecting and multiplying the genial blaze of the log-heaped fire-place, its high-backed, rush-bottomed chairs, grating as they were moved over the neatly sanded floor, its massive beam running midway of the ceiling across the room, and its many doors, leading to other rooms and attics, was a picture of comfort two hundred years ago. The widowed mother, with her honest, beautiful face surrounded by a neat, dark cap border, met her son as he entered the kitchen and, glancing at him proudly, said:
"The wind gives you good color, Charles."
"Yes, mother," rubbing his cheeks, "they do burn some;—mother."
"I heard you tell Mr. Bly, the other day, that you could trust me with all you had. Will you trust me with old Moll and the cart to-night?"
"What do you want with Moll and the cart?"
"To go to the big spring under the hill for a poor man who is sick and wounded."
"It is a freezing night."
"Yes, mother, and he may die. He is unable to walk. Remember the story of the good Samaritan."
After a long pause, the widow said, "Yes, you may have old Moll and the cart. Bring him here, and we will care for him; but remember that to-morrow's work must be done."
"If you have any fault to find to-morrow night, don't trust me again!" and the boy, turning to the cupboard beneath the dressers, buttered a generous slice of bread, then left the room with a small pitcher, and returned with it brimming full of cider, his mother closely noting all, while she busied herself making things to rights in her culinary department. Charles next went out and harnessed the mare to the cart, then returned to the kitchen for his bread and cider.
"Why not eat that before you go?" queried the mother.
"I am not hungry, I have had some supper, you know. Good night, mother. I will be back soon; so have the bed ready for the wounded stranger."
"God bless you, my brave boy," the mother exclaimed, as he went out and sprang into the cart. She now knew that he had taken the bread and cider for the sick man, under the hill.
Charles hurried old Moll to a faster gait than she was accustomed to go, and found the stranger where he had left him. Leaping from the cart, he said:
"I am back, sir! You said you were faint. Here's some of our cider, and if you will sit up and drink it and eat this bread, you will feel better, and here is old Moll and the cart ready to take you home where you will receive good Christian treatment until you are well enough to go on your way rejoicing."
So he went on, bobbing now here and now there and talking as fast as he could, so as not to hear the poor man's outpourings of gratitude, as he ate and drank and was refreshed. With some difficulty, he got the stranger into the cart, where, supported by the boy's strong arm, he rode in almost total silence through the increasing darkness to the home of the widow Stevens. He was taken from the cart and was soon reclining upon a bed.
His wound, though painful, was not dangerous and began to heal almost immediately. Surgery was in its infancy in America, and on the frontier of the American colonies, every one was his own surgeon.
The widow dressed the wound herself, and the stranger recovered rapidly. Charles next day found a horse straying in the forest with a saddle and holsters, and, knowing it to be the steed of the wounded stranger, he brought it home.
As the wounded man recovered he became more silent and melancholy. He had not even spoken his name and seldom uttered a word unless addressed.
One night this mysterious stranger disappeared from the widow's cottage. He might have been thought ungrateful had he not left behind five golden guineas, which, the note left behind said, were in part to remunerate the good people who had watched over and cared for him so kindly. Charles Stevens and his mother were much puzzled at this mysterious stranger, and often when alone they commented on his conduct.
Their home was outside the village of Salem, and for days they did not have a visitor; but two or three of their neighbors had seen the stranger while at their house, yet they told no one about him. His mysterious disappearance was kept a secret by mother and son. Little did they dream that in after years they would suffer untold sorrow for playing the part of good Samaritans.
John Louder and his friends had almost forgotten their day of hard luck in the woods. Their more recent hunts had proven successful, for the witches had temporarily left off tampering with their guns. The stranger whom they had met on that evening was quite forgotten.
A fortnight after the stranger disappeared, John Louder was wandering in the forest, his gun on his shoulder. The sun had just dipped below the western hills and trees, and he was approaching a small lake at which the deer came to drink.
It was a dense forest through which he was pressing his way. In places it was so dense he was compelled to part the underbrush with his hands. Centuries of summer suns had warmed the tops of the same noble oaks and pines, sending their heat even to the roots. Though the early frosts of October had stricken many a leaf from its parent stem, enough still remained to obscure the vision at a rod's distance.
Night was approaching, and John Louder, brave as he was to natural danger, had a strange dread of shadows and the unreal.
He pressed his way through the wood, until a spot almost clear of timber was in sight. This little area, which afforded a good view of the sky, although it was pretty well filled with dead trees, lay between two of those high hills or low mountains into which the whole surface of the adjacent country was broken.
Dashing aside the bushes and brambles of the swamp, the forester burst into the area with an exclamation of delight.
"One can breathe here! There is the lake to which the deer come to drink. Now, if Satan send not a witch to lead my bullets astray, perchance I may have a venison ere an hour has passed."
He gathered some dry sticks of wood and, with his flint and steel, quickly kindled a fire.
His fire was to keep off the mosquitoes, which were tormenting in that locality. The fire did not alarm the deer, for they had seen the woods burn so often that they would go quite close to a blaze.
Hardly had he lighted his fire, when he was startled by the tramp of feet near, and a moment later a horseman rode out of the woods and drew rein before him.
Louder was surprised, but by no means alarmed. A man in the forest was by no means uncommon, yet he felt a little curious to know why he was there. He reasoned that probably the fellow had lost his way, and had been attracted by his camp fire; but the stranger's question dispelled that delusion.
"Are you John Louder?" he asked.
"You live at Salem?"
"Are you a Protestant?"
"You do not believe in the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Christ into the bread and wine of the Sacrament?"
John Louder, who was a true Puritan and a hater of the Papists, quickly responded:
"I do not hold to any such theology."
"Nor do you believe in the infallibility of the pope?"
"I believe no such doctrine."
"Then there can be no doubt that you are a true Protestant."
"I am," Louder answered with no small degree of pride.
"So much the better."
The stranger dismounted from his horse and slipped his left hand through the rein, allowing the tired beast to graze, while with his right hand he began searching in his pockets for something.
"Would you have a Catholic king?" he asked while searching his pockets.
"You prefer a Protestant."
"I knew it," and he continued, "King Charles is nearing his end. But a few months more must see the last of this monarch, and then we will have another. The great question which appeals to the heart of every Englishman to-day is, shall it be a Protestant or a Catholic?"
"A Protestant!" cried John Louder, in his bigoted enthusiasm.
"Then, John Louder, it behooves the English people to speak their minds at once, lest they have fastened upon them a monarch who will wrench from them their religious liberties."
Louder was wondering what the man could mean when the stranger suddenly took from his pocket a book. It was a book with a red back, as could be seen from the fire-light. The stranger drew from another pocket a pen and an ink horn and, in a voice which was solemn and impressive, said:
John Louder was astonished at the request, or command, whichever it might be, and mechanically stretched out his hand to take the book. At this moment the camp-fire suddenly flamed up, and he afterward averred that the face of the stranger was suddenly changed to that of a devil, and from his burning orbs there issued blue jets of flame, while the whole air was permeated with sulphur. With a yell of horror, he started back, crying:
"Take it away! take away your book! I will not sign! I will not sign!"
"Sign it, and I promise you a Protestant king."
"Away! begone! The whole armor of God be between me and you."
Quaking with superstitious dread, Louder sank down upon the ground and buried his face in his hands. For several minutes he remained thus trembling with fear, and when he finally recovered sufficiently to raise his eyes, the stranger was gone.
He and his horse had vanished, and John Louder, seizing a firebrand, searched the ground for the print of a cloven foot. He found it and, snatching up his rifle, ran home as rapidly as he could. It was late that night when he reached his house and, rapping on the door, called:
"Good-wife! Good-wife, awake and let me in!"
"John Louder, wherefore came you so early, when I thought you had gone to stalk the deer and would not come before morning?"
"I have seen him!"
"Whom have you seen?"
"The man with the book."
This announcement produced great consternation in the mind of good-wife Louder. To have seen the man with the book was an evil omen, and to sign this book was the loss of one's eternal soul.
"Did you sign it, John?" she asked.
"God be praised!"
I had a vision: evening sat in gold Upon the bosom of a boundless plain, Covered with beauty; garden, field and fold, Studding the billowy sweep of ripening grain, Like islands in the purple summer main, The temples of pure marble met the sun, That tinged their white shafts with a golden stain And sounds of rustic joy and labor done, Hallowed the lonely hour, until her pomp was gone. —Croly.
Religious fanaticism is the most dangerous of all the errors of mankind. A false leader in religion may be more fatal than an incompetent general of an army, therefore ministers of the gospel and teachers have the greatest task imposed on them of any of God's creation. When once one's religion runs mad, barbarity assumes the support of conscience and feels its approval in the consummation of the most heinous crimes. The Pilgrims and Puritans who had fled from religious persecutions across the seas, and had come to the wilderness to worship God according to their own conscience were unwilling to grant the same privilege to others. For this reason they banished Roger Williams and persecuted other religious sects not in accordance with their own views.
They whipped Quakers, bored holes in their tongues, branded them with hot irons, and even hung them for their religious views. Why need one blame Spain for the infamous inquisition, when the early churches of Protestantism did fully as bad? Religious fervor controlled by prejudice and ignorance is the greatest calamity that can befall a nation.
The Quakers appeared first in England about the time Roger Williams procured his charter for Rhode Island. The term Quaker now so venerated and respected was given this sect in derision, just as the Puritans, Protestants and many other now respectable sects were named.
Their founder and preachers were among the boldest and yet the meekest of the non-conformists. Their morality was so strict that by some they were denominated ascetics, and this strictness was carried into every habit and department of life. Extravagant expenditures, fashionable dress, games of chance, dancing, attending the theatres and all amusements, however harmless, were forbidden by this sect. Even music was discouraged as a seductive vanity. The members of this church were forbidden to own slaves, to take part in war, engage in lawsuits, indulge in intemperance or profanity, which, if persisted in, was a cause for the expulsion of a member from the society, and the whole body was in duty bound to keep a watch upon the actions of each other. Their practices so generally agreed with their principles, that society was compelled to admit that the profession of a Quaker or Friend, as they usually styled themselves, was a guaranty of a morality above the ordinary level of the world.
The founder of this remarkable sect was George Fox, a shoemaker of Leicestershire, England, who, at the early age of nineteen, conceived the idea that he was called of God to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He attacked the coldness and spiritual deadness of all the modes and forms of religious worship around him, and soon excited a persecuting spirit which marked his ministerial life of about forty years as a pilgrimage from one prison to another. When, in 1650, he was called before Justice Bennet, of Derby, he admonished that magistrate to repent and "tremble and quake before the word of the Lord," at the same time his own body was violently agitated with his intense emotions. The magistrate and other officers of the court then and there named him a "Quaker" out of derision, a term which the society have since come to use themselves.
William Penn, the son of a distinguished English admiral, became an early convert to this religion. At an early age, while at college, he embraced the doctrines and adopted the mode of life of George Fox and his followers. When his father first learned that his son was in danger of becoming a Quaker, he was incredulous. The admiral was a worldly, ambitious man and had great plans in view for his son, which would all be blasted if the precocious youth adopted the new religion. The struggles of young William Penn with his ambitious father, were long and bitter. He was beaten and turned out of doors by his angry parent, then taken back by the erratic but kind-hearted father and sent to France to be lured with gayety and dazzled with promises of wealth and distinction; but William Penn had the courage of his convictions and yielded not one whit of his religious ideas. Conscious of being right, he was unmoved by either promises or threats, and he even withstood the fires of persecution.
On one occasion he and another were tried on a charge of preaching in the streets. The jury, after being kept without fire, food, or water for two days and nights, brought in a verdict of "not guilty," for which they were each heavily fined by the court and committed to Newgate prison. Penn and his companion did not wholly escape, for they were fined and imprisoned for contempt of court, in wearing their hats in the presence of that body. At this time William Penn was only twenty-four years of age.
A great many Friends had emigrated to America, and two had become proprietors of New Jersey. The first event that drew Penn's particular attention to America was when he was called upon to act as umpire between the two Quaker proprietors of New Jersey. Having the New World thus thrust upon his attention, the young convert to the new religion began to look with longing eyes across the Atlantic for a home for himself and his persecuted brethren. Shortly afterward, he obtained from the crown a charter for a vast territory beyond the Delaware. This charter was given in payment of a debt of eighty thousand dollars due to his father from the government. The charter was perpetual proprietorship given to him and his heirs, in the fealty of an annual payment of two beaver skins. In honor of his Welch ancestry, Penn proposed calling the domain "New Wales;" but for some reason the secretary of state objected.
Penn, while endeavoring to think up an appropriate title, suggested that Sylvania would be an appropriate name for such a woody country. The secretary who drew up the charter, on the impulse of the moment, prefixed the name of Penn to Sylvania in the document. William Penn protested against the use of his name, as he had no ambition to be thus distinguished, and offered to pay the secretary if he would leave it out. This he refused to do, and Penn next appealed to the king—"the merrie King Charlie," who insisted that the province should be called Pennsylvania, in honor of his dead friend the admiral. Thus Pennsylvania received its name. The territory included in William Penn's charter extended north from New Castle in Delaware three degrees of latitude and five degrees of longitude west from the Delaware River. William Penn was empowered to ordain all laws with the consent of the freemen, subject to the approval of the king. No taxes were to be raised save by the provincial assembly, and permission was given to the clergymen of the Anglican church to reside within the province without molestation.
The charter for Pennsylvania was granted on March 14, 1681, and in the following May, Penn sent William Markham, a relative, to take possession of his province and act as deputy governor. A large number of emigrants in the employ of the "company of free traders" who had purchased lands in Pennsylvania of the proprietor, went with him. These settled near the Delaware and "builded and planted."
With the assistance of Algernon Sidney, a sturdy republican, who soon after perished on the scaffold for his views on personal liberty, Penn drew up a code of laws for the government of the colony, that were wise, liberal and benevolent, and next year sent them to the settlers in Pennsylvania for their approval.
William Penn soon discovered that his colony was liable to suffer for the want of sea-board room. He coveted Delaware for that purpose, and resolved if possible to have it. This territory, however, was claimed by Lord Baltimore as a part of Maryland, and for some time had been a matter of dispute between him and the Duke of York. For the sake of peace, the latter offered to purchase the territory of Baltimore; but the baron would not sell it. Penn then assured the Duke that Lord Baltimore's claim was "against law, civil and common." The duke gladly assented to the opinion, and the worldly-wise Quaker obtained from his grace a quitclaim deed for the territory, now comprising the whole of the State of Delaware.
As soon as William Penn had accomplished his purpose, he made immediate preparations for going to America, and within a week after the bargain was officially settled, he sailed in the ship Welcome, with one hundred emigrants, in August, 1682. Many of his emigrants died from small-pox on the voyage; but with the remainder he arrived, early in November, at New Castle, where he found almost a thousand emigrants. In addition to these, there were about three thousand old settlers—Swedes, Dutch, Huguenots, Germans and English—enough to form the material for the solid foundation of a State.
There Penn received from the agent of the Duke of York, and in the presence of all the people, a formal surrender of all that fine domain. The Dutch had long before conquered and absorbed the Swedes on the Delaware, and the English in turn had conquered the Dutch, and it was by virtue of his charter, giving him a title to all New Netherland, that the duke claimed the territory as his own. The transfer inherited for Penn and his descendants a dispute with the proprietors of Maryland, which might seem incompatible with the views of Quakers. William Penn, in honor of the duke, attempted to change the name of Cape Henlopen to Cape James; but geography is sometimes arbitrary and refuses to change at will of rulers, and Henlopen and May preserve their original names given them by the Dutch.
It was the earliest days in November when William Penn, with a few friends, set out in an open boat and journeyed up the river to the beautiful bank, fringed with pine trees, on which the city of Philadelphia was soon to rise.
On this occasion was made that famous treaty with the Indians, with which every school-boy is acquainted. Beneath a huge elm at Shakamaxon, on the northern edge of Philadelphia, William Penn, surrounded by a few friends, in the habiliments of peace, met the numerous delegations of the Lenni-Lenape tribes. The great treaty was not for the purchase of lands; but, confirming what Penn had written and Markham covenanted, its sublime purpose was the recognition of the equal rights of humanity, under the shelter of the forest trees, barren of leaves from the effects of the early frosts. Penn proclaimed to the men of the Algonkin race, from both banks of the Delaware, from the borders of the Schuylkill, and, it may have been, even from the Susquehannah, the same simple message of peace and love which George Fox had professed before Cromwell, and which Mary Fisher had borne to the Grand Turk. He argued that the English and the Indian should respect the same moral law, should be alike secure in their pursuits and their possessions, and should adjust every difference by a peaceful tribunal, to be composed of an equal number of wise and discreet men from each race. Penn said:
"We meet on the broad pathway of good faith and good-will. No advantage will be taken on either side; but all shall be openness and love. I will not call you children, for parents sometimes chide their children too severely, nor brothers only, for brothers differ. The friendship between me and you, I will not compare to a chain, for that rains might rust, or the falling tree might break. We are the same as if one man's body were divided into two parts. We are all one flesh and blood."
The sincerity of the speaker, as well as his sacred doctrine, touched the hearts of the forest children, and they renounced their guile and their revenge. The presents which Penn offered were received in sincerity, and with hearty friendship they gave the belt of wampum.
"We will live," said they, "in love with William Penn and his children, as long as the moon and the sun shall endure."
Mr. Bancroft says: "This agreement of peace and friendship was made under the open sky, by the side of the Delaware, with the sun and river and the forest for witnesses. It was not confirmed by an oath; it was not ratified by signatures and seals; no record of the conference can be found, and its terms and conditions had no abiding inscription but on the heart. There they were written like the law of God. The simple sons of the wilderness, returning to their wigwams, kept the history of the covenant by strings of wampum, and, long afterward, in their cabins, would count over the shells on a clean piece of bark and recall to their own memory and repeat to their children or to the stranger the words of William Penn. New England had just terminated a disastrous war of extermination. The Dutch were scarcely ever at peace with the Algonkins. The laws of Maryland refer to Indian hostilities and massacres, which extended as far as Richmond. Penn came without arms; he declared his purpose to abstain from violence; he had no message but peace, and not a drop of Quaker blood was shed in his time by an Indian.
"Was there not progress from Melendez to Roger Williams? from Cortez and Pizarro to William Penn? The Quakers, ignorant of the homage which their virtues would receive from Voltaire and Raynal, men so unlike themselves, exulted in the consciousness of their humanity. 'We have done better,' said they truly, 'than if, with the proud Spaniards, we had gained the mines of Potosi. We may make the ambitious heroes, whom the world admires, blush for their shameful victories. To the poor, dark souls around about us we teach their rights as men.'"
After the treaty, Penn again journeyed through New Jersey to New York and Long Island, visiting friends and preaching with his usual fervor and earnestness. Then he returned to the Delaware, and, on the seventh day of November, he went to Uplands (now Chester), where he met the first provincial assembly of his province. There he made known his benevolent designs toward all men, civilized and savage, and excited the love and reverence of all hearers. The assembly tendered their grateful acknowledgment to him, and the Swedes authorized one of their number to say to him in their name that they "would live, serve and obey him with all they had," declaring that it was "the best day they ever saw." He informed the assembly of the union of the "territories" (as Delaware was called) with his province, and received their congratulations. Then and there was laid the foundation for the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
One matter still remained to be adjusted, and that was some satisfactory arrangement with the third Lord Baltimore, concerning the boundary lines. This at last having been amicably adjusted, Penn went up the Delaware in an open boat to Wicaco, to attend the founding of a city, to which allusion had been made in his concessions in 1681. Before his arrival in America, Penn had thought of this city he was to found, and resolved to give it the name of Philadelphia—a Greek word signifying brotherly love—as a token of the principles in which he intended to govern his province.
Near a block-house constructed by the Swedes, but which had since been converted into a church, he purchased lands extending from the high banks of the Delaware, fringed with pines, to those of the Schuylkill. There his surveyor laid out the city of Philadelphia upon a plan which would embrace about twelve square miles.
The surveyor who aided William Penn in laying out Philadelphia was Thomas Holme. It was at the close of the year 1682, that the town was surveyed, and the boundaries of the streets marked on the trunks of the chestnut, walnut, locust, spruce, pine and other forest trees covering the land. Many of the streets were named for the forest monarchs on which these inscriptions were cut, and still bear the names. The growth of the town was rapid, and, within a year after the surveyor had finished this work, almost a hundred houses had been erected there, and the Indians daily came with the fruits of the chase as presents for "Father Penn," as they delighted to call the proprietor.
In the following March, the new city was honored by the gathering there of the second assembly of the province, when Penn offered to the people, through their representatives a new charter. The new charter was so liberal in all its provisions, that when he asked the question:
"Shall we accept the new constitution or adhere to the old one?" they voted in a body to accept the new charter, and became at once a representative republican government, with free religious toleration, with justice, for its foundation, and the proprietor, unlike those of other provinces, surrendered to the people his chartered rights in the appointment of officers. From the beginning, the happiness and prosperity of his people appeared to be uppermost in the heart and mind of William Penn. It was this happy relation between the proprietor and the people, and the security against Indian raids, that made Pennsylvania far outstrip her sister colonies in rapidity of settlement and permanent prosperity.
It was late in 1682 that a small house was erected on the site of Philadelphia for the use of Penn, and only a few years ago it was still standing between Front and Second Streets, occupied by Letitia Court.
There he assisted in fashioning those excellent laws which gave a high character to Pennsylvania from the beginning. Among other wise provisions was a board of arbitrators called peace-makers, who were to adjust all difficulties and thus prevent lawsuits. The children were all taught some useful trade. When factors wronged their employees, they were to make satisfaction and one-third over. All causes for irreligion and vulgarity were to be suppressed, and no man was to be molested for his religious opinions. It was also decreed that the days of the week and the months of the year "shall be called as in Scripture, and not by heathen names (as are vulgarly used), as ye First, Second and Third months of ye year, beginning with ye day called Sunday, and ye month called March," thus beginning the year, as of old, with the first spring month. Pennsylvania was first divided into three counties—Bucks, Chester and Philadelphia, and the annexed territories were also divided into three counties—New Castle, Kent and Sussex—known for a long time afterward as the "Three Lower Counties on the Delaware."
Penn returned to England in the summer of 1684, leaving the government of the province during his absence to five members of the council, of which Thomas Lloyd, the president, held the great seal. William Penn's mission in America had been one of success. In 1685, Philadelphia contained six hundred houses; schools were established, and William Bradford had set up a printing press. He printed his "Almanac for the year of the Christian's Account, 1687," a broadside, or single sheet, with twelve compartments, the year beginning with March.
William Penn could look with no little degree of pride upon his work. If ever man was justified in being proud, he was. Looking upon the result of his work, he, with righteous exultation, wrote to Lord Halifax, "I must, without vanity, say I have led the greatest colony into America that ever man did upon private credit, and the most prosperous beginnings that ever were in it are to be found among us."
Penn bade the colonists farewell, with the brightest hopes for the future, saying, "My love and my life are to and with you, and no water can quench it, nor distance bring it to an end. I have been with you, cared for you, and served you with unfeigned love, and you are beloved of me and dear to me beyond utterance. I bless you in the name and power of the Lord, and may God bless you with his righteousness, peace and plenty all the land over." Then of Philadelphia, the apple of the noble Quaker's eye, he said, "And thou, Philadelphia, the virgin settlement of this province, my soul prays to God for thee, that thou mayest stand in the day of trial, and that thy children may be blessed."
He stood on the deck of the ship which was anchored at the foot of Chestnut Street, when he delivered his farewell address, and on that bright August day, when the good ship spread her sails and sped away across the seas, he bore away with him to England the blessings of the whole people.
Four months after Penn's return to England, Charles the Second died, and his brother James ascended the throne. A period of theological and political excitement in England followed, in which William Penn became involved. William Penn and the new king had long been personal friends, and through the influence of the honest Quaker, twelve hundred persecuted Friends were released from prison, in 1686. As James was under the influence of the Jesuits, his Quaker friend was suspected of being one of them, and when the revolution that drove James from the throne came, Penn was three times arrested on false charges of treason and as often acquitted, his last acquittal being in 1690. There had meanwhile been great political and theological commotions in Pennsylvania, and in April, 1691, the three lower counties on the Delaware, offended at the action of the council at Philadelphia, withdrew from the union, and Penn yielded to the secessionists so far as to appoint a separate deputy governor over them.
In consequence of representations which came from Pennsylvania, the monarchs William and Mary deprived Penn of his rights as governor of his province, in 1692, and the control of the domain was placed in the hands of Governor Fletcher of New York, who, in the spring of 1693, reunited the Delaware counties to the parent province. Fletcher appeared at the head of the council at Philadelphia on Monday, the 15th of May, with William Markham, Penn's deputy, as lieutenant governor.
The noble Quaker, however, had powerful friends who interceded with King William for the restoration of Penn's rights. He was called before the Privy Council to answer certain accusations, when his innocence was proven, and a few months later, all his ancient rights were restored.
Penn's fortune had been wasted, and he lingered in England, under the heavy hand of poverty, until 1699, when, with his daughter and second wife, Hannah Callowhill, he sailed to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, his colony, under his old deputy, William Markham, had asserted their right to self-government and made laws for themselves.
They were prosperous, but clamorous for political privileges guaranteed to them by law. Regarding their demands as reasonable, Penn, in November, 1701, gave them a new form of government, with more liberal concessions than had been formerly given. The people of the territories or three lower counties were still restive under the forced union with Pennsylvania, and Penn made provisions for their permanent separation in legislation, in 1702, and the first independent legislature in Delaware was assembled at New Castle in 1703. Although Philadelphia and Delaware ever afterward continued to have separate legislatures, they were under the same government until the Revolution in 1776.
Shortly after Penn's arrival in America, he received tidings that measures were pending before the privy council, for bringing all of the proprietary governments under the crown. Penn located in Philadelphia, declaring it his intention to live and die there. He erected an excellent brick house on the corner of Second Street and Norris Alley.
Disparaging news from his native land determined him to return to England, which he did in 1701, where he succeeded in setting matters to rights. He never returned to America. Harassed and wearied by business connected with his province, he was making arrangements in 1712 to sell it for sixty thousand dollars, when he was prostrated with paralysis. He survived the first shock six years, though he never fully recovered, then he died, leaving his estates in America to his three sons. His family governed Pennsylvania, as proprietors, until the Revolution made it an independent State, in 1776. During that time the great province of Pennsylvania had borne its share of troubles with the French and Indians.
THE INDENTED SLAVE.
Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate, All but the page prescribed, their present state: From brutes what men, from men what spirits know; Or who could suffer being here below? The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food, And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood. —Pope.
That which was most dreaded in New England and all the American colonies came to pass. Charles II. died, and his brother James, Duke of York, was crowned King of England. On ascending the throne, the very first act of James II. was one of honest but imprudent bigotry. Incapable of reading the signs of the times, or fully prepared to dare the worst that those signs could portend, James immediately sent his agent Caryl to Rome, to apologize to the pope for the long and flagrant heresy of England, and to endeavor to procure the re-admission of the English people into the communion of the Catholic Church. The pope was more politic than the king and returned him a very cool answer, implying that before he ventured upon so arduous an enterprise as that of changing the professed faith of nearly his entire people, he would do well to sit down and calculate the cost.
The foolish king, who stopped at nothing, not even the mild rebuke of the holy father, would not open his eyes, and as a natural result he was soon cordially hated by nearly all his subjects. His brother had left an illegitimate son called the Duke of Monmouth, who was encouraged to attempt to seize the throne of his uncle. At first the cause of the duke seemed prosperous. His army swelled from hundreds to thousands; but, owing to his lack of energy and fondness for pleasure, he delayed and gave the royal armies time to recruit. He was attacked at Sedgemore, near Bridgewater, and, owing to the perfidity or cowardice of Gray, his cavalry general, the rebels were defeated. Monmouth was captured, and his uncle ordered him beheaded, which was done.
Then commenced the most barbarous punishment of rebels ever known. An officer named Kirk was sent by the king to hunt down the Monmouth rebels, or those sympathizing with them. His atrocious deeds would fill a volume, and are so revolting as to seem incredible. Another brutal ruffian of the time was Judge Jeffries. The judicial ermine has often been disgraced by prejudiced judges; but Jeffries was the worst monster that ever sat on the bench. He hung men with as much relish as did Berkeley of Virginia. His term was called the "bloody assizes," and to this day the name of Judge Jeffries is applied in reproach to the scandalous ruling of a partial judiciary.
The accession of James II. made fewer changes in the American colonies than was anticipated. Perhaps, had his reign been longer, the changes would have been greater. The suppression of Monmouth's rebellion gave to the colonies many useful citizens. Men connect themselves, in the eyes of posterity, with the objects in which they take delight. James II. was inexorable toward his brother's favorites. Monmouth was beheaded, and the triumph of legitimacy was commemorated by a medal, representing the heads of Monmouth and Argyle on an altar, their bleeding bodies beneath, with the following: "Sic aras et sceptra tuemur." ("Thus we defend our altars and our throne.")
"Lord chief justice is making his campaign in the west," wrote James II. to one in Europe, referring to Jeffries' circuit for punishing the insurgents. "He has already condemned several hundreds, some of whom we are already executed, more are to be, and the others sent to the plantations." The prisoners condemned to transportation were a salable commodity. Such was the demand for labor in America that convicts and laborers were regularly purchased and shipped to the colonies where they were sold as indented servants. The courtiers round James II. exulted in the rich harvest which the rebellion promised, and begged of the monarch frequent gifts of their condemned countrymen. Jeffries heard of the scramble, and indignantly addressed the king:
"I beseech your majesty, that I inform you, that each prisoner will be worth ten pound, if not fifteen pound, apiece, and, sir, if your majesty orders these as you have already designed, persons that have not suffered in the service will run away with the booty." Under this appeal of the lord chief justice the spoils were divided and his honor was in part gratified. Many of the convicts were persons of family and education, and were accustomed to ease and elegance.
"Take all care," wrote the monarch, under the countersign of Sunderland, to the government in Virginia, "take all care that they continue to serve for ten years at least, and that they be not permitted in any manner to redeem themselves by money or otherwise, until that term be fully expired. Prepare a bill for the assembly of our colony, with such clauses as shall be requisite for this purpose."
No legislature in any of the American colonies seconded such malice, for the colonies were never in full accord with James II. Tyranny and injustice peopled America with men nurtured to suffering and adversity. The history of our colonization is the history of the crimes of Europe, and some of the best families in America are descended from the indented servants of the Old World.
In Bristol, kidnapping had become common, and not only felons, but young persons of birth and education were hurried across the Atlantic and sold for money.
Never did a king prove a greater tyrant or more inhuman and cruel than James II. After the insurrection of Monmouth had been suppressed, all the sanguinary excesses of despotic revenge were revived. Gibbets were erected in villages to intimidate the people, and soldiers were intrusted with the execution of the laws. Scarce a Presbyterian family in Scotland, but was involved in proscription or penalties. The jails were overflowed, and their tenants were sent as slaves to the colonies. Maddened by the succession of murders; driven from their homes to caves, from caves to morasses and mountains; death brought to the inmates of a house that should shelter them; death to the benefactor that should throw them food; death to the friend that listened to their complaint; death to the wife or parent that still dared to solace husband or son; ferreted out by spies; hunted with dogs;—the fanatics turned upon their pursuers, and threatened to retaliate on the men who should still continue to imbrue their hands in blood. The council retorted by ordering a massacre. He that would not take the oath should be executed, though unarmed, and the recusants were shot on the roads, or as they labored in the field, or stood at prayer. To fly was admission of guilt; to excite suspicion was sentence of death; to own the covenant was treason.
Sometimes the lot of an indented slave was a happy one. Hundreds and thousands of fugitives flying from persecution came to the New World, while thousands of others were sent as convicts.
Virginia received her share of the latter.
One bright spring morning a ship from England entered the James River with a number of these indented slaves to be sold to the planters. Notice had been given of the intended sale and many planters came to look at the poor wretches huddled together like so many beasts in an old shed, and guarded by soldiers. Mr. Thomas Hull, a planter of considerable means, and a man noted for his iron will, was among those who came to make purchases.
"Well, Thomas, have you looked over the lot?" asked another planter.
"No, Bradley, have you?"
"Yes, though I am shortened in money, and unable to purchase to-day."
"Well, Bradley, what have you seen among them?"
"There are many fine, lusty fellows; but I was most interested and grieved in one."
"He is a man who has known refinement and ease, is perchance thirty-five and has with him a child."
"Yes, a maid not to exceed ten years, but very beautiful with her golden hair and soft blue eyes."
"Is the child a slave?"
"Then wherefore is it here?" asked Hull.
"His is truly a pathetic story as I have heard it. It seems he was a widower with his child wandering about the country, when he fell in with some of the Duke of Monmouth's people and enlisted. He was captured at Sedgemore, and condemned by Jeffries. The child was left to wander at will; but by some means she accompanied her father, managed to smuggle herself on shipboard, and was not discovered until the vessel was well out to sea. Then the captain, who was a humane man, permitted them to remain together to the end of the voyage. She is with her father now, and a prettier little maid I never saw."
"By the mass! I will go and see her," cried Hull. "If she be all you say, I will buy them both."
"But she is not for sale."
"She was not adjudged by the court."
With the cold, heartless laugh of a natural tyrant, Hull answered:
"It will be all the same. He who purchases the father will have the maid also."
He went to the place where the slaves were confined and gazed on the lot, very much as a cattle dealer might look upon a herd he contemplated purchasing. His gaze soon fastened on a fine, manly person in whose proud eye the sullen fires were but half subdued. He stood with his arms folded across his broad chest and his eye fixed upon a beautiful girl at his side.
The captive spoke not. A pair of handcuffs were on his wrists, and the chains came almost to the ground; but slavery and chains could not subdue the proud captive.
Hull delighted in punishing those whom he disliked. He was a papist at heart and consequently in sympathy with James II., so for this indented slave he incurred from the very first a most bitter dislike. When the slave was brought forth to be sold, he bid twelve pounds for him. This was two pounds more than the required price, and he became the purchaser.
"You are mine," cried Hull to the servant. "Come with me." The father turned his great brown eyes dim with moisture upon his child, and Hull, interpreting the look, added, "Hold, I will buy the maid also."
"She cannot be sold," the officer in charge of the slaves answered, "unless the master of the ship sees fit to sell her for passage money."
The master of the ship was present and declared he would do nothing of the kind.
"I will take her back to England, if she wishes to return," he added.
The child was speechless, her great blue eyes fixed on her father.
"What will you do with the maid?" asked Hull, who, having the father, felt sure the child would follow.
"I will return her to England free of charge, if she wills it."
"Who will care for her there?" asked Hull. "Do you know her relatives?"
"No; all are strangers to me."
The father, with his proud breast heaving with tumultuous emotion, stood silently gazing on the scene. He was a slave and he remembered that a slave must not speak unless permission be granted him by his master; but it was his child, the only link that bound him to earth, whose fate they were to decide, and, had he been unfettered, he might have clasped her to his bosom.
"Speak with the maid," suggested a by-stander, "and see if she has a friend in England who will care for her."
The master of the ship went to the bewildered child and, taking her little hand in his broad palm, said:
"Sweet little maid, you are not afraid to trust me?"
She turned her great blue eyes up to him and, in a whisper, answered:
"I am not."
"Have you a mother?"
"Have you any friends in England?"
"None, since my father came away."
"Where did you live before your father enlisted in the army of Monmouth?"
"We travelled; we lived at no one place."
"Have you no friends or relatives in England?"
The captain then asked permission to talk with the father. The permission was given by Hull, for he saw that his slave had the sympathy of all present, and it would not be safe to refuse him some privileges. The master of the vessel and the magistrate who had superintended the selling of the slaves for the crown found the slave a very intelligent gentleman. He said he had but one relative living so far as he knew. He had a brother who had come to America two or three years before; but he had not heard from him, and he might be dead.
"Do you know any one in England to whom your child could be sent?"
"I do not."
"What were you doing before you entered the duke's army?"
"I was a strolling player," the man answered, his fine tragic eyes fixed firmly on the officers. "My company had reached a town one day, in which we were to play at night, and just as I was getting ready to go to the theatre, the Duke of Monmouth entered. He was on his way to Sedgemore, and I was forced to join him. My child followed on foot and watched the battle as it raged. When it was over I could have escaped, had I not come upon Cora, who was seeking me. I took her up in my arms and was hurrying away, when the cavalry of the enemy overtook me and I was made a prisoner."
The simple story made an impression on all who heard it save the obdurate master. The magistrate asked the slave what he would have done with his child.
"Let her stay in the colony until my term of service is ended, then I will labor to remunerate any who would keep her."
At this Hull said he would take the maid, and she might always be near the father. All who knew Hull looked with suspicion on the proposition.
A new-comer had arrived on the scene. This was a young man of about the same age as the prisoner. He was a wealthy Virginian named Robert Stevens, noted for his kindness of heart and charity. He did not arrive on the scene until after the indented slave had been sold; but he soon heard the story of the captive from Sedgemore and his child. Robert Stevens' heart at once went out to these unfortunates, and he resolved on a scheme to make the father practically free.
"Has the slave been sold?" he asked.
"He has, and I am the purchaser," answered Hull.
"How much did you give for him?"
"I will give fifty."
"He is already sold," repeated Hull exultingly. He despised Robert Stevens for his wealth and popularity. To have purchased a slave whom Robert Stevens wanted, was great glory for Hull.
"Fear not, good man," said Robert to the unfortunate slave. "I have money enough to purchase your freedom."
Unfortunately those words fell on the ears of Thomas Hull, and he answered:
"It is the order of the king that all serve their term out, and none be allowed to purchase their freedom."
"I will give you one hundred pounds for the slave," cried Robert.
"Robert Stevens, for some reason you want this slave restored to liberty."
"No. Sell him to me, and he shall serve out his term."
"I understand your plan. You would make his servitude a luxury. You cannot have the slave for a hundred times the sum you offer. By law, the convict is fairly mine until he hath fully served his term. I am not so heartless as you deem me. His child can go to my house, where she will be cared for."
"No, no, no!" cried the captive, his eyes turned appealingly to Robert Stevens. "You take her; you take her. Go with him, Cora."
The child sprang to the side of Robert Stevens, for already she had come to dread the man who was her father's master. Hull's face was black with rage. He bit his lips, but said nothing. With his slave, he hurried home.
The name of the slave was George Waters, and he was soon to learn the weight of a master's hand.
Thomas Hull was the owner of negro slaves, as well as white indented servants, and he made no distinction between them. George Waters, proud, noble as he was, was set to work with the filthy negroes in the tobacco fields. The half-savage barbarians, with their ignorance and naturally low instincts, were intended to humiliate the refined gentleman.
"You is one of us," said a negro. "What am your name?"
"George—George, dat am my name, too," said the negro, leaning on his hoe. "D'ye suppose we is brudders?"
"Well, why is we bofe called George?"
"I don't know."
The overseer came along at this moment and threatened them with the lash, if they did not cease talking and attend to their work. Again and again was the proud George Waters subjected to indignities, until he could scarcely restrain himself from knocking Martin, his overseer, down, and selling his life in the defence of his liberty; but he remembered Cora, and resolved to bear taunts and indignities for her sake, until his term of service was ended. His only comfort was that his child was well cared for.
He had been a year and a half on the upper plantation of Thomas Hull, and though he had demeaned himself well, and had done the labor of two ordinary men—though he had never uttered a word of complaint, no matter what burdens were laid upon him, his natural pride and nobility of character won the hatred of the overseer. The fellow had a violent temper and hated George Waters.
One day, from no provocation at all, he threatened to beat Waters. The servant snatched the whip from his hand and said:
"I would do you no harm, sir. I have always performed my tasks to the best of my ability, and never have I complained; but if you so much as give me one stroke, I will kill you."
There was fire in his eye and an earnestness in his voice, which awed the cowardly overseer; but at the same time they increased his hatred. He resolved to be revenged, and reported to Hull that the slave was rebellious. Hull permitted George Waters to be tied to a tree by four stout negroes, whose barbarous natures delighted in such work, and the overseer laid a whip a dozen times about his bare shoulders. No groan escaped his lips. For three days he lay about his miserable lodge waiting for his wounds to heal, and meanwhile made up his mind to fly from the colony.
He had heard that a society of Friends, or Quakers, had formed a colony to the north, which was called Pennsylvania; and he knew that they would succor a slave. As soon as he was well enough, he stole from a cabin a gun, a knife and some ammunition, and set out in the night to find the plantation of Robert Stevens, where Cora was. His escape was discovered and the overseer, with Thomas Hull, set out in hot pursuit of the fugitive. At dawn of day they came in sight of him in the forest on the Lower James River and, being on horseback, gave chase.
"Keep away! keep back!" cried the fugitive, "or I will not answer for the consequences," and he brandished his gun in the air. The overseer was armed with pistols and, drawing one, galloped up to within a hundred paces of the fugitive and fired, but missed. Quick as thought, George Waters raised his gun and, taking aim at the breast of his would-be slayer, shot him dead from the saddle.
The body fell to the ground, and the frightened horse wheeled about and ran away. Thomas Hull, who was a coward, awed by the fate of his overseer, turned and fled as rapidly as his horse could go.
Horrified at what he had done, and knowing that death, sure and swift, would follow his capture, George Waters turned and fled down the James River. Some guardian angel guided his footsteps, for he found himself one night, almost starved, faint and weak, at the plantation of Robert Stevens. George was driven to desperate straits when he accosted the wealthy planter and asked for food. Robert recognized him as the father of the little maid whom he had taken to his home as one of his family.
"I have heard all; you must not be seen," said Robert. Then he conducted him to an apartment of his large manor house. "Are you hungry?"
"I am starving."
Robert brought him food with his own hands and, as he ate, asked:
"Do you want to see Cora?"
"I am a slave and a—a——"
"I know what you would say. Do not say it, for you slew only in self-defence."
"But I will be hanged if found."
"You shall not be found. Heaven help me, if I shield a real criminal from justice; but he who strikes a blow for liberty is worthy of aid."
After the fugitive had in a measure satisfied his hunger, Robert said:
"You will need sleep and rest, after which you must prepare for a long journey."
"Whither shall I go?"
"To Massachusetts. I have relatives in Salem, where you will be safe."
He repeated the word as if it were a glorious dream—a vision never to be realized.
"Yes, you will be safe; but as you must make the journey through a vast forest, you will need to be refreshed by rest and food."
The wild-eyed fugitive, with his face haggard as death, seized the arm of his benefactor and said:
"They will come and slay me as I sleep."
"Fear not, my unfortunate brother, for I will put you in a chamber where none save myself shall know of you."
"And my child?"
"She shall accompany you to Salem."
The fugitive said no more. He entrusted everything to the man who had promised to save him. He was led up two flights of stairs, when they came to a ladder reaching to an attic, and they went up this attic ladder to a chamber, where there was a narrow bed, with soft, clean sheets and pillows, the first the prisoner had seen in the New World.
"You can sleep here in perfect security," said Robert. "I will see that you are not molested by any one."
The wayworn traveller threw himself on the bed and fell asleep.
Stevens went below and told his wife of the fugitive. Ester Stevens was the daughter of General Goffe, the regicide, who had been hunted for years by Charles II. for signing the death warrant of the king's father and serving in the army of Oliver Cromwell, and Mrs. Stevens could sympathize with a political fugitive. They ran some risk in keeping him in their house; but as a majority of the colonists had been in sympathy with the Duke of Monmouth, for James II. had few friends in Virginia and Thomas Hull none, their risk was not as great as it might seem.
The fugitive late next day awoke, and Robert carried his breakfast to him. The colony was wild with excitement over the escape of an indented slave and the killing of the overseer. Thomas Hull represented the crime to be as heinous as possible, to arouse a sympathy for himself and a hatred for the escaped slave. Some people were outspoken in the belief that the escaped slave should be killed; others were in sympathy with him. They reasoned that Hull had been a hard master, and that this poor fellow was no criminal, but a patriot, for which he had been adjudged to ten years' penal servitude.
Many of the searchers came to the mansion house of Stevens; but he managed to put them off the track.
For five days and nights George Waters remained in the attic. On the sixth night Robert Stevens came to him and said:
"You must now set out on your journey."
"But Cora—can I see her?"
"She will accompany you. Here is a suit of clothes more befitting one of your rank and station, than the garb of an indented slave." He placed a riding suit with top boots and hat in the apartment. When he had attired himself, Robert next brought him some arms, a splendid gun and a brace of pistols of the best make.
"You may have need of these," said the planter. "You will also find holsters in the saddle."
"And does Cora know of this?"
"I have told her all."
The father shuddered. In the pride of his soul, he remembered that he was a slave, had felt the lash, and was humiliated.
Under a wide-spreading chestnut near the planter's mansion, stood three horses ready saddled. A faithful negro slave was holding them, and the little maid, clothed for a long journey, awaited her father's arrival. A fourth horse was near on which were a pack of provisions and a small camping outfit.
The father and child met and embraced in silence, and, had she not felt a tear on her face, she would hardly have known that he was so greatly agitated.
"We will mount and be far on the journey before the day dawns," said Robert.
"Do you go with us?" asked George Waters.
"Certainly. I know the country and will guide you beyond danger."
They mounted and travelled all night long. At early dawn, they halted only to refresh themselves with a cold breakfast, and pushed on.
Three days Robert journeyed with them, and then, on the border of Maryland, he halted and told them of a land now within their reach, where the Quakers dwelt. There they might rest until they were able to go to Massachusetts. He gave a purse of gold to the father, saying:
"Take it, and may God be as good to you as he has been to me."
The fugitive murmured out some words of thanks; but his benefactor wheeled his steed about and galloped away, lest the words of gratitude might fall on his ears.
"Let us go on, father," said Cora.
For days, Cora Waters could never tell how long, they journeyed, until at last, on the banks of the Delaware, they came upon a small town where dwelt a people at peace with all the world—the Quakers, and the tired child and her father were taken in, given food and shelter, Christian sympathy, and assured of safety.
MR. PARRIS AND FLOCK.
And false the light on glory's plume, As fading hues of even, And Love and Hope, and Beauty's bloom, Are blossoms gathered for the tomb,— There's nothing bright but Heaven. —Moore.
The last expiring throe of a mighty superstition was about to convulse the little society at Salem, and, as usual in such cases, ignorance and prejudice went hand in hand for the destruction of reason and humanity. The last of the great religious persecutions was to begin, when eminent divines were to stand and point with pride to the swaying bodies of their victims, hanging from the gibbet, and call them "fire-brands of hell."
In the village of Salem, there was a strife between Samuel Parris the minister and a part of his people; a strife so bitter, that it had even attracted the attention of a general court. We all know, even in these modern days, what a furor can be created in a church, when a part of the organization is arrayed against the pastor. Sometimes the divine shepherd loses his temper and says ugly things against his flock, and thinks many which he does not utter.
Parris was a man filled with ambition and prejudice. He was a fanatic and easily driven to frenzy by opposition. An unfavorable criticism upset his highly nervous organism, and he set out to find some proof in the Scriptures for condemning his enemies. It never entered into his mind to love those who hated him.
Mr. Parris had lived in the West Indies for several years before going to Salem, and had brought with him some slaves purchased from the Spaniards. Among them were two famous in history as John and Tituba his wife. Historians disagree as to the nationality of these slaves. Some aver they were Indians, others call them negroes, while some state they were half and half. Whatever may have been their nationality, their practices were the fetichism of western Africa, and there can be no doubt that negro blood predominated in their veins. All their training, their low cunning and beastly worship, their deception and treachery were utterly unlike the characteristics of the early aborigines of America, and were purely African.
John and Tituba were full of the gross superstitions of their people, and were of the frame and temperament best adapted to the practice of demonology.
In the family of Samuel Parris, his daughter, a child of nine years, and his niece, a girl of less than twelve, began to have strange caprices. During such a state of affairs the pastor actually permitted to be formed, with his own knowledge, a society of young girls between the ages of eight and eighteen to meet at the parsonage, strangely resembling those "circles" of our own time called seances, for spiritualistic revelations. There can be no doubt that the young girls were laboring under a strong nervous and mental excitement, which was encouraged rather than repressed by the means employed by their spiritual director. Instead of treating them as subjects of morbid delusion, Mr. Parris regarded them as victims of external and diabolical influence, and strangely enough this influence, on the evidence of the children themselves, was supposed to be exercised by some of the most pious and respectable people of the community. As it was those who opposed Mr. Parris, who fell under the ban of suspicion, there is room to suspect the reverent Mr. Parris with making a strong effort to gratify his revenge.
Many a child has had its early life blighted and its nerves shattered by a ghost-believing and ghost-story-telling nurse.
No class of people is more superstitious in regard to ghosts and witches than negroes. Whatever fetich ideas may have been among the Indians of the New World, many more were imbibed from the Africans with whom they early came in contact.
Old Tituba was a horrid-looking creature. If ever there was a witch on earth, she was one, and as she crouched in one corner, smoking her clay pipe, her eyes closed, telling her weird stories to the girls, no one can wonder that they were strangely affected.
"Now, chillun, lem me tell ye, dat ef ebber a witch catches ye, and pinches ye, and sticks pins in ye, ye won't see 'em, ye won't see nobody, ye won't see nuffin," said old Tituba.
"What should we do if a witch were to catch us, Tituba?" asked Abigail Williams, the niece of Mr. Parris.
"Dar but one thing to do, chile. Dat am to burn de witch or hang 'em."
"Are there witches now?"
"Yes, dar be plenty. I see 'em ob night. Doan ye nebber see a black man in de night?"
The children were all silent, until one little girl, whose imagination was very vivid, thought she had seen a black man, once.
"When was it?" asked Abigail Williams.
"One night, when I waked out of my sleep, I saw a great black something by my side."
The little blue eyes opened so wide and looked with such earnestness on the assembled children, that there could be no doubting her sincerity.
"Can we catch witches?" Abigail asked Tituba.
Then she proceeded to tell of the various charms by which a witch might be detected, such as drawing the picture of the person accused and stabbing it with a knife of silver, or shooting it with a silver bullet.
"Once, when a witch was in a churn," continued Tituba, "and no butter would come, den de man, he take some hot water an' pour it in de churn, an' jist den dar come a loud noise like er gun, an' dey see er cloud erbove de churn. Bye um bye, dat cloud turned ter er woman's head an' et war an ole woman wat lib in der neighborhood and war called a witch."
"Is that true, Tituba?" asked one of the little girls.
"It am so, fur er sartin sure fact, chile."
Nothing is more susceptible than a young imagination. It can see whatever it wills, hear whatever is desired, and like wax is ready to receive any impression one chooses to put on it. A child can be made to believe it sees the most unnatural things, and in a few days Tituba and John had thoroughly convinced the children that they saw spirits and witches in the air all about them.
One evening, a pretty young woman, not over twenty-one or two, came to the parsonage, where the witches and ghosts had been holding high revel. She was a brunette with a dark keen eye and hair of jet. Her face was lovely, save when distorted by passion, and her form was faultless.
"Sarah Williams, where have you been, that we have seen nothing of you for a fortnight?" asked Mrs. Parris as the visitor entered the house.
"I have been to Boston, and but just came back yesterday. What strange things have been transpiring since I left?"
At this moment a door opened and Mr. Parris, a tall, pale man, entered from his study. The new-comer, without waiting for the pastor's wife to answer her question, rose and, grasping the hand of her spiritual adviser, cried:
"Mr. Parris, how pale you are! but then I cannot wonder at it, when I consider all I have heard."
"What have you heard, Sarah?" he asked.
"I have heard you are having trouble in your congregation."
"Who told you?"
"The rumor has gone all over the country, even reaching Boston. And they do say that the evil spirits have visited Salem to defame you."
Mr. Parris pressed his thin lips so firmly that the blood seemed to have utterly forsaken them, and his cold gray eye was kindled with a subdued fire, as he answered:
"I am far from insensible that at this extraordinary time of the devil coming down in great wrath upon us, there are too many tongues and hearts thereby set on fire of hell."
"To whom can you trace your troubles?"
"To Goodwife Nurse," answered the pastor. "It is that firebrand of hell who seeks to ruin me."
"I saw Goody Nurse," cried one of the smaller children.
"When?" asked Mr. Parris.
The pastor, the visitor, and the wife exchanged significant glances, and the father asked:
"Where did you see her?"
"She came with the black man to my bed."
"What did she do?"
"She asked me to sign the book."
"I don't know; but it was a red book."
The anxious mother, in a fit of hysterics, seized her child in her arms and cried:
"No, no, no! don't you sign the book and sell your immortal soul, child!" and she gave way to a fit of weeping, which unnerved all the children, who began to howl, as if they were beset by demons. When the hubbub was at its height, the door to an adjoining room opened, and Tituba and John stuck their heads into the room.
"She am dar! she am dar!" cried old Tituba. "I see her! I see dem bofe!"
"Yes, I see um—see um bofe, Tituba," repeated John.
"Who do you see?" asked the pastor.
"See de black man and Goody Nurse."
They pointed along the floor, then up the wall to the ceiling, where they both avowed that they saw Goodwife Nurse and the black man, or demon, dancing with their heels up and heads down.
The negro clapped his hands, patted his foot on the floor and cried aloud:
"Doan yer see um, Marster? doan yer see um, chillun?"
One little girl, who fixed her eyes on a certain dark corner of the room, thought she could see a shadow moving on the wall, but was not quite certain. The pastor was overcome by the presence of the prince of darkness in his own house, and, falling on his knees, began to pray. As a natural result, when all minds were directed to one channel, as they were by prayer, the superstitious feeling which possessed them passed away, and the household, which a few moments ago was on the verge of hysteria, became more calm, and when all rose from their knees, Mrs. Parris asked her visitor to spend the evening with them.
"I fain would stay; but I dread the long walk home."
"Samuel will accompany you, unless Charles Stevens comes, as he promised. In case he should, he can go with you."
At the mention of Charles Stevens, the young woman's eyes grew brighter, and her face became crimson.
"Sarah, have you not heard from your husband?" asked the minister.
"No; he is dead."
"Did you never hear of the pinnace?"
"No; but it was no doubt lost."
"How long since he left?"
"A year. He went to New York, was seen to leave that port, and has never been heard from."
"It is sad."
"Verily, it is," and Sarah tried hard to call up a tear, and wiped her eyes with the corner of her apron.
John and Tituba had retired to their domain, the kitchen, to conjure up more demons and plan further mischief.
Mr. Parris could not keep his mind long from the rebellious members of his flock. "I will be avenged on them," he thought. "Verily, I will be avenged for every pang they have made me suffer."
He had forgotten the command, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."
Sarah Williams proceeded to further delve into the trouble with Mr. Parris and his church.
"Is Rebecca Nurse your enemy?" she asked.
"Verily, she is; so is her sister Goodwife Corey."
"Why are they your enemies?"
"They want another pastor, and have done all in their power to ruin me."
"Why do you endure it?" asked Sarah.
"How can I help myself? I retain my charge and shall retain it, despite Goody Nurse."
At this the youngest child said:
"Goody Nurse was at church last Lord's day with a yellow bird."
"A yellow bird?" cried all.
"Yes; I saw a yellow bird fly into the church and light on her shoulder."
Tituba had told the poor deluded child that if Goodwife Nurse were a witch, she would be accompanied by a yellow bird.
"Surely you saw no yellow bird last Lord's day."
"Verily, I did, and it came first and sat on her shoulder, and then on her knee, and, while father was preaching, it whispered in her ear."
"Could you hear what it said?" asked the pastor.
"No, for I was not near enough."
Then the pastor and his wife and visitor exchanged glances. Foolishly credulous and blindly superstitious, as well as prejudiced, their minds were like the fallow ground ready to receive any impression, however silly.
Before more could be said, there came a rap at the door, and Charles Stevens, the lad who succored the wounded stranger that had so mysteriously disappeared, entered. Charles was almost a man, and bid fair to make a fine-looking fellow. He was tall and muscular, with bold gray eyes and a face open and manly. He had lost none of his mirth, and his merry whistle still shocked some of the staid old Puritans.
As soon as Charles entered, the young widow rose, all blushing, to greet him. She was not more than one or two years his senior, and, being still beautiful, there was a possibility of her entrapping the youth.
The pastor greeted him warmly and assured him that his visit was most opportune; but he regretted very much that he had not come an hour sooner.
"Wherefore would you have had me come an hour sooner?" asked the merry Charles.
"That you might, with your own eyes, behold some of the wonderful manifestations of the prince of darkness."
With a laugh, Charles answered that such manifestations were too common to merit much comment; but as a matter of course he asked what the manifestations were.
"An example of witchcraft."
At this Charles laughed, and Mr. Parris was shocked at his scepticism.
"Wherefore do you laugh, unregenerated youth?" cried the pastor.
"A witch! I believe there are no witches," he answered.
"Would you believe your eyes, young sceptic?"
"I might even doubt my own eyes."
"Wherefore would you?"
"Nothing is more deceptive than sight; optical delusions are common. Did you see a witch?"
"Not myself; but others did."
"John, Tituba and Ann Parris saw the witches dancing on the ceiling, with their feet up and their heads down."
At this Charles Stevens again laughed and answered:
"Verily you are mad, Mr. Parris, to believe what those lying negroes say. They have persuaded the child into the belief that she sees strange sights."
Mr. Parris became greatly excited and cried:
"The maid sees the shape of Goody Nurse and the black man at night. They come and choke her, to make her sign the book."
"The devil's book. Do you not remember some time ago a stranger was at your house, who mysteriously disappeared?" Of course Charles remembered. He had never forgotten that mysterious stranger, and often wondered what had been his fate.
"The same shape appeared before John Louder in the forest, where he had gone to stalk deer, and asked him to sign the red book in which is recorded the souls of the damned."
This was the frightful story told by Louder on his return from the night's hunt, and many of the credulous New Englanders believed him. Mr. Parris, having become warmed up on his subject, resumed:
"Charles, Charles, shake off the hard yoke of the devil. Where 'tis said, 'the whole world lies in wickedness,' 'tis by some of the ancients rendered, 'the whole world lies in the devil.' The devil is a prince, yea, the devil is a god unto all the unregenerate, and, alas, there is a whole world of them. Desolate sinner, consider what a horrid lord it is you are enslaved unto, and oh, shake off the slavery of such a lord."
Charles was unprepared for such a sermon, and had no desire to be bored with it, yet he was left without choice in the matter.
The young widow came to his relief and took him off under her protection and soon made him forget that he had ever been rebuked by the parson. Certainly, he had never met a more agreeable person than Sarah Williams. Her husband was a brother of Mrs. Parris, and she wielded a great influence in the minister's family. Gradually she absorbed more and more of Charles Stevens' society, telling him of her recent visit to Boston, and of the latest news from England, inquiring about his mother, and talking only on the subjects which most interested him. He thought her a charming woman.
The hour was late ere they knew it, and Puritanic New England was an enemy to late hours. Sarah declared she must go home.
"Come again, Sarah," said Mrs. Parris.
"I will. Verily, I must go; but see, the moon is down, how dark it is."
Charles was not slower to take the hint than a young man of our own day. Humanity has been the same since Eve first evinced her power over Adam in the garden. Ever since, men have been led by a pretty face often to their ruin. Charles, in a bashful, awkward way, informed the young widow that he was going the same road, and it would not be much out of his way to accompany her to her very door. Of course she was pleased, and Charles and the young widow went away together.
"Have you never learned the fate of your husband, Sarah?" he asked.
"No; poor Samuel is dead," she answered.
"It is sad that you know not his fate. Was he drowned at sea, killed by the Indians, or murdered by the pirates?"
"I know not. I am very lonely now, Charles."
"I pity you."
"Verily, I do."
"Thank you, Charles."
"Your parents are in Boston, are they not?"
"Do you intend to live always thus alone?"
"Oh, I trust not," and the darkness concealed the sly glance which Sarah cast from her great dark eyes on the unsuspecting youth at her side. The conversation was next changed to Mr. Parris, his quarrel with his flock, and the strange phenomenon developing at his house.
"What think you of it, Charles?"
"It is a sham."
"Oh, no, no! John, the negro man, is bewitched, and has fits."
"A good flogging would very quickly bring him out of his fits."
By this time they had reached the door of Sarah Williams' house. She turned upon the youth and, seizing his arm, in a voice trembling with emotion, said:
"Charles, I beseech of you, as you love life and happiness, do not say aught against Mr. Parris or witchcraft. We stand on the brink of something terrible, and no one knows what the end may be."
As Charles wended his way homeward, he pondered over the strange words of Sarah Williams, and asked himself:
"What does she mean?"
A NIGHT WITH WITCHES.[A]
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke When plundering herds assail their byke, As open pussies mortal foes, When, pop! she starts before their nose, As eager runs the market crowd, When, "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud, So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi' monie an eldritch skreech and hollow. —Burns.
[Footnote A: The incidents narrated in this chapter were gathered from Cotton Mather's "Invisible World," and legends current at the time. Strange as it may seem, these narratives were believed, and some are from sworn testimony in court.]
Most people are superstitious. In fact, we might put it stronger and say, all people are superstitious. Superstition is natural, and so long as there are great mysteries unrevealed to man, there will be superstition. So long as the great mysteries of life and death and a future existence are shrouded in the unknown, there will be believers in the supernatural. So long as there are powers and forces not understood, they will be attributed to unknown or unnatural causes. Most people are unwilling to admit, even to themselves, that they are superstitious, yet somewhere in their nature will be found a belief in some odd and ludicrous superstition. Many have a dread of the unlucky number; some will not commence a journey on Friday; they feel better when they have seen the new moon over their right shoulder, and when the matter is well sifted, we find lurking about all a strange, inexplicable superstition.