“There is a witch amongst us. Husbands, control your women. Watch when they go out at night. Don’t let three or more gather together. As Saul consulted a witch and his authority was cursed by God, so have we fallen under the ill fate of the Almighty.”
Jonathan Albright looked at his Elizabeth. Did a man really know his wife? Who did she talk to when he was out in the fields? She hadn’t born any children; was that the mark of a witch? She had a mind of her own, ideas and questions and learning from books; she knew what he didn’t because of her unhinged curiosity.
“You’d better stick close to home and don’t go out at night. No picking of mushrooms or card games with friends.”
“Yes Jon,” Elizabeth said. She followed him and he followed God; their house was safe.
“A witch turns nature upside down; crops will die; babies are still-born, wives’ rule over their husbands; and God becomes a superstition. Our town is in your hands. Find the witch and we will purify her with fire. Otherwise, the way to heaven is shrouded in darkness.”
“Look, the church is on fire! There’s smoke in the steeple. A witch.”
“Fan out and find her,” the pastor said.
“We have her; the charwoman; she never married. Pastor, what do we do?”
“Place stones on her chest and call out the demons.”
“Come out of her.”
“Pastor… the demons don’t answer.”
“More stones then and use the name of the Lord.”
“Come out in the name of the Highest.”
“She’s trying to speak.”
“Let her speak then.”
“I am not a witch.”
“Then why didn’t you marry?”
“I don’t know; it just never happened.”
“You have a rebellious spirit. Build the bonfire.”
“No. No. No.”
“It is the only way.”
“Jon, why don’t you say something. She can’t be a witch. She doesn’t know anything but a broom and a mop.”
“If I say something, it might cast suspicion on you.”
A torch lit the sticks and the flames jumped higher.
“Ahhhhhhhh. Ah.” Screaming.
“Residents of New Plymouth, our town is safe. Remember, if you suspect a witch, look for the signs. They tempt with sensuality. They know obscure facts. And they always wander in the counsel of the moonlight.”
“We’ve seen enough; let’s go home,” Jonathan said. Elizabeth nodded.
She held her husband’s hand.
“What’s that smell?” Jonathan asked.
“Oil. I lit the lamp at the end of our lane before we left.”