1693: End of the Trials

Not once had I imagined that I would be arrested for witchcraft. I had always seen women bandying words at each other of such an act, calling each other “‘Satan’s wiles and devices,’” but I could not begin to imagine that someone would ever speak such a way about me (Schiff). Had I not followed the code of our town? Our neighbor, sweet Old Tabitha, surprisingly accused me of witchcraft. What could have brought this action about, I have not the slightest clue.
In the beginning of this year, Old Tabitha declared that my spirit had sent her farming attempts into a deathly demise. Not but a day after she said this, I found the sheriff had followed my husband John in the house.
“Primrose Wilcox, you are being arrested for witchcraft,” is all he had to say.
As of this moment, I am resting, rather uncomfortably, in the courthouse of Salem, faced with Judge Hawthorne and Reverend Parris. Old Tabitha is spatting nonsense about how she saw my spirit killing her plants and pigs, and “disassembling the house next door” (Schiff). Not once am I given the chance to defend myself, the jury quickly ruling me out to be guilty.
The court house is not just for court cases, but is also a place of worship. With crosses and statues elaborately stationed about, it is almost as if they are trying to protect the people inside the building. With musty air and hard old wooden isles, the jury had risen for a break as I find my wrists being chained in cold iron. Glancing over my shoulder, I spot John standing in the crowd, his words are inaudible over the overwhelming dread.
* * *
Time passes slower than a snail taking baby steps when your ironed to the concrete floors of a jail cell. I had heard whispers in the halls about other women who have been hanged, it unsettles my innards to think that is my future, however distant or soon it is. The walls around me hang over, dripping with thoughts and memories of the past inhabitants who of which are long gone in the current times. Shrill shrieks echo through the corridors, reminding me of my inevitable fate in rope.
My gut churns as someone walks by to give me nothing more than a cold stare, I knew my time would be near. I am not well, I’ve noticed, as my head becomes more thoughtless and my sight becoming skewed. Not sure what to make of this, I can only conclude that I am being overwhelmed with a lack of sleep and an overabundance of fear and anxiety.
I know I am well, as I show no signs of fever. I can only wonder if John and my attempts were finally coming about with a success, after our many failures. Only time will tell.
* * *
I have no way of knowing how much time has passed since I found myself in such a place, but my time has come to leave. The sheriff has returned, grasping my chains and dragging me out, into the dim corridor. My eyes have become accustomed to the lack of light in my cell, so I am able to see the innumerable amount of other cells, however empty or filled they may be.
A cacophony of sound hits my ears as I am lead out of the building, blinking the painful sight of bright light out of my eyes. Finding myself confronted with a platform that which leads upwards toward a sturdy, old looking pole, that is surrounded with the makings of a grand fire. Harrowing emotion overflowing me, I can’t but loose my grip on the water ducts under my eyes.
Whilst being tied to the pole, I hear a depressed cry from the crowd, “You can’t! You mustn’t! Can’t you see, she is pregnant!” It was John speaking, his words silencing the people, the only thing left to permeate the air was the soft crackle of fire on the executioner’s torch. After an eternity had passed, it feels as if the world is crashing over me.
How could I have not noticed my stomach was getting round, that my so called sickness was the creation of a new human being. My vision is blurring as I turn and see the pale faces of the judges and jury. I am standing not but a few steps away from my death, and I turn to find a doctor is walking up to investigate. Anxiously I watch and wait as he feels over my rounded belly, pressing his ear on it as if to hear for a heartbeat.
Moments pass until I find myself confronted by Judge Hawthorne, my husband John pushing through the crowd to meet me. “Mrs. Wilcox, I find this rather surprising, and I suspect you should think the same,” the man would pause then only to turn and glance as John shouldered past him to stand next to me, “I shall grant you one year in your home with your husband. That is enough time for you to deliver your child and ween it. The day your year is over, you will return to this stake.”
* * *
Time could not have passed any faster for me and John. He has done everything humanly possible to stop the witch trials and eventually an order was given to stop arresting and accusing, though the executions still continued for those who had been arrested before hand. With many months and planning, John and I have decided that we wish to save up our money (after many arguments as to what kind) so that when our child has grown older, they may attend the new College of William and Mary Other things have also happened in the five months that I have had at home. Such things include the designation of North Carolina. Those Indians have been attacking more and more settlements now as well.
“Primrose, we must raise our child in the way of the Lord, not the customs of others,” John explained to me as we conversed as to how we should raise our child.
“John, you know full and well that I have little to no reason to believe in such a thing as God after what he has put me through.”
Grasping my hands, he looked me in the eyes and whispered in a heavy tone, “My dear, if it not for him, you would not be here today. Let alone having the chance to see our child grow up.”
“Whatever do you mean John, you know that I have no chances of such. They gave me a year, and only a year, not my life.”
His lips softly curled into a smile, “You have not heard? An order has gone out that the trials are over, all those accused have been set free. There are to be no more executions. You may live your life to it’s fullest, alongside our child, my dearest flower.”
Works Cited
Schiff, Stacy. The Witches. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2016. Hardcopy book.
Blumberg, Jess. “A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials.” smithsonianmag.com.
October 23, 2007. Website. February 12, 2018.
Brooks, Rebecca Beatrice. “History of the Salem Witch Trials.” HistoryofMassachusetts.org.
August 18, 2011. Website. February 7, 2018.
Johnson, Claudia. Colonial New England: Second Edition. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, LLC, 1938. Hardcopy book.
Michener, Ron. “Money in the American Colonies”. EH.Net Encyclopedia. June 8, 2003, revised
January 13, 2011. Website. February 5, 2018.