"Do you confess?"
The question broke through the haze that fogged up his mind. He opened his eyes, blinking slowly at the figure outlined by the sunrise, a bloody red and beautiful sunrise. It could only be that cursed Sheriff, come to pester him again.
He didn't believe it. They took Martha. He watched, speechless, as Thomas and Peter escorted her out the hickory doorframe and into the mule-drawn wagon, to take her to the jailhouse. Orders from the court, they said.
On what charges, he had protested. Witchcraft, they replied. Something 'bout reading the future. Those girls testified against her and others. They had to get Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor next.
And then he was alone, by himself in a quiet cabin. Anger burned over his initial shock, leapt around and danced in his chest like the flames in the fireplace. He tried to think, but it was difficult to focus.
His thoughts were scattered. How could these people believe it? Surely the whole world has lost its head, to fool themselves with lies procured by childish fancies. What was wrong with those children?!
But he knew it wasn't just the children. It was something deeper, hiding stealthily behind the faÃÂ§ade of people concerned about the public welfare. Salem had been in a state of social stratification. Much of the problem came from the lack of available land in the village. All the best plots had been claimed long ago. Nobody wanted to live on the border plots, for fear of Indian attacks. Therefore, without a supply of land, the townspeople were not allowed very much social mobility. In addition, there was an increasing generational gap. It was the older, more established families who held the power, wealth and land in Salem, and kept it. Tension between...