Salem, The trials, My Book

What evil spirit have you familiarity with?
Have you made no contract with the devil?
Why do you hurt these children?
I do not hurt them. I scorn it.
Who do you imploy then to do it?
I imploy no body.
What creature do you imploy then?
No creature. I am falsely accused.

Dialogue based on the examination of Sarah Good by Judges Hathorne and Corwin,
from The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Book II, p.355

I moved to Salem, Massachusetts during the month of October. Everyone shook their head and looked at me like I was insane. Salem. October. MADNESS! I admit, it was chaotic, what with the costumed actors and vampires walking around, my little girl asking all the witches if they were ‘a good witch or a bad witch’ and the yummy blueberry beer. (I know it sounds weird, but oh my it is good!)

I was only blocks away from The House of the Seven Gables, which as a young girl scared me, intrigued me, and as an adult, still haunts me. (Read the book, you’ll understand.) written by Hawthorne, he was forever scarred by the events of the trials. (Notice the judge’s name above? Hathorne? Yep, that’s Nathaniel’s great-great-grandfather. Nathaniel added the W to attempt to disassociate himself from his family.)

As many people know, I go for a walk every night. When I lived in Salem, those walks grew longer, and longer, until sometimes I’d see the sky lighten before making it home. I wrote the majority of my book there. It was inspiring to live in a city with such history, flaws and all. So, during one of my walks, I went to the Salem Witch Memorial. At night, when the crowds have dissipated, it’s actually very moving. (You don’t really get the same effect during the day with people drinking slushies on the stones benches.)

I walked around by myself, reading each of the names etched into granite benches, thinking about how absolutely terrified they must have been. Men and women, accused by young girls, and sentenced to death by an ignorant court have their final remembrance in that courtyard. But it’s the stones at the front that caught my attention, and have since. The threshold to the memorial is laid with stones, marking Giles Corey’s words. I read them, some are aged and faded, others are still deep and easy to recognize. Giles was not hanged like the others; he was pressed to death AFTER the death of John Proctor. Blurbs of his statement riddle my thoughts on occasion: ‘I am wholly innocent of such WICKEDNESS,’ ‘Oh, Lord, help me,’ ‘I do plead NOT guilty,’ ‘I will deny it to my dying day. I am NO WITCH!’

Mr. Corey refused to admit guilt. He was an 80 year old man, and refused to plead. Because he would not plea, he could not be tried. In order to get him to plea, he was pressed under huge stones, tortured, for two days under barbaric methods. Since he did not plea and was not found guilty, he did not lose his estate to the government. He did, however, lose his tongue as he was being pressed under stone. At times, the sheriff would stand upon the heavy stones, adding to the weight until Giles’ tongue fell from his mouth. The sheriff so nicely stuck it back in with the tip of his cane, then added even more weight.

I thought of Giles as I wrote some parts of my book, and of those girls who sentenced that man and so many others to a wicked, terrible fate. I wonder where their souls reside now.


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