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England elder more hopelessly in love than the young pastor of Salem. How he could wish to marry such a mere chit of a girl, who had not even been sobered by the solemn vows of church membership, was more than the serious and somewhat matter-of-fact people of the village could understand. However, none of them liked to interfere in the matter by remonstrance; for the elders of that time did very nearly what was right in their own eyes, like the Hebrews, when there was no judge in Israel, and so for a while the lovelorn minister went on very quietly and zealously in his courtship. But one evening of late May, when the air was half daylight and half moonlight, he was seen in front of the cabin, talking with a very sad earnestness of manner to Master More.
Nay, hear me out, sir," he said, with a slight tremor in his voice. "I propose not to have her shoulder at once such a grave responsibility. She shall have full time to prepare herself, for thus bearing, in a peculiar manner, the yoke of holiness. If you choose, let her enter some devout family in the village, and there abide a year, or two years, if needs be, in expectation and in preparation. I would recommend for that purpose the household of your sister's husband, the devout Deacon Bowson."
"Worse and worse, reverend sir," replied More. "One would imagine, from your proposition, that I am not fit to fashion the mind of my own child. It is no compliment. But I pass that by, and return to my objection. She is too young-too young to marry a gentleman of your profession; too young to be betrothed to any one."
"Master More," interrupted Noyse, with a growing vehemence of emotion, "I cannot be answered thus-truly I cannot. This agonizes my heart-indeed it does. I did not expect it, and it overcomes me. Let me plead with you, not to despise my affection. It is no frail-fangled fancy that you are opposing-no sudden freak of flighty desire; but, the most earnest feeling that ever I had, with regard to the things of this world. I have prayed over it, sir —yes, with groans and tears seeking direction from above, and I do believe that I have a far higher blessing than even yours on the design. Oh, sir, do not stand in the way of it."
"Elder Noyse, if I must tell you,” answered More, slowly, but very resolutely, "I do not wish her to marry an elder. Her character is not fitted for such a union as that; it would crush her nature, and make her whole life unhappy! No, she shall not marry an elder."
The face of Noyse, which had passed successively through the phases of hope, surprise, disappointment and grief, now flushed with an expression very similar to anger. "Master More," said he, "are you dealing justly by your daughter, to sit in judgment on her whole future, without in the least consulting her pleasure?"
"Hold there, sir," responded More, in a tone of decided sharpness. "No man shall say that I put fetters on my child's will. I will call her; and you shall hear what she wishes from her own mouth."
He started toward the door of the cabin, as if to summon Rachel; but Noyse followed him, and, gazing earnestly in his eyes, stopped him; for it was visible in More's face that he knew, and had exactly repeated, his daughter's mind. "No," the elder murmured; "do_not call her. I could not hear it from her. Forgive my insistance. I am sufficiently answered, at least for the pres
His voice trembled, and was almost inaudible; but he steadied it again with a firmness inspired by habits of selfcontrol and a sense of priestly dignity. He observed that the shadows of evening were falling, and that he must go to his home in Salem; even as the Christian, when the shadows of death gather about him, must go to his home in heaven. He shook hands with More, turned away abruptly, and disappeared in the hazy moonlight..
"Is he gone, father?" presently asked a timid voice, almost a whisper, from one of the little front windows of the cabin.
"Ah, you are there, Rachel. Yes, he is gone. Come here and talk to me. Do you know what he wanted?"
"N-no, father," stammered Rachel, very much as if she knew all about
He wanted to marry you, and I told him no. Are you sorry ?" "No, father." "Are you glad?"
Meantime, the elder went homeward in a whirl of emotions which carried him on wings, as it were, insensible of distance. He had been taken unawares: he had not prepared himself for such a humiliation; and in his surprise Satan gained an advantage over him, so that his spirit, lately so loving, reeled sharply into a reaction, which all his conscientious efforts could not free from a jar of anger. He was astonished to find himself at his own gate; still more astonished at the sinful frame of mind in which he stood there. "Elder Noyse, Elder Noyse, mamma wants to see you," screamed little Sarah Carrier from the kitchen door as he entered the hall; but the poor, disconsolate man heard her not, or minded her not, in his whirlwind of affliction; and, hurrying to his chamber, he knelt down and prayed with an anguish which would have made Rachel herself pity him, could she have been its witness. At what hour he went to sleep-how much he slept-how much he prayed-he never could have told, not to save his life. His last thought was that he should feel better when he woke; that the edge of his annoyance would be in a measure blunted; but the first dull, hopeless, unforgetful moment of consciousness harshly undeceived him. Theu came day after day of changeful unrest; incessant, painful revolvings around his disappointment; eager tides of hope, ebbing quickly in troubled revulsion; and, over all, driving storms of shame and repentance at his lack of Christian resignation.
"Truly," observed Elder Higginson, on the very next Sunday, "what a new gift my young colleague seems to have! What remarkable enlargement he exhibited to-day!"
"Yes," replied the old minister's tidy wife, "I did indeed observe in him an unusual earnestness of humility, penitence, and holy desire.”
Very little, indeed, do we mortals know of each other's hearts, even when we stand in the distinctest manner before each other's faces. Elder Higginson and his wife saw nothing of the wretchedness which stirred up the depths of Noyse's nature, and which was the cause, rather the very being, of that seemingly new vehemence of Christian emotion.
THROUGH azure mornings, barred and spotted with clouds, through slanting rains lighted up with noontide, through gorgeous sunsets of many variegations, the spring had drifted by and sailed into past eternities. The splendid noon of a New England year was rising toward its zenith, flinging over Puritandom the last gloss of an emerald verdure and the deepest flush of desert flowers. An air musky with leaves and blossoms swayed in and out of the open doors and windows of Salem village, on a stainless day of early June. The dew was still on the grass, and glittered through the countless cobwebs spun along the roadside like diamonds through fairy mantles.
What did the reverend Elder Parris think of the morning, as he stared out upon it through his study-window? Not much, if one might judge by the abstracted, ungenial, and almost rancorous expression of his features. Ugly as the comparison is, his face looked like a malignant cancer in that broad glow of healthful nature. Evidently he drew no joy from the inexhaustible ocean of sunlight; felt no sympathy with the sweet bird-hymns, trilling a happiness beyond human utterance. Other things occupied his spirit; subjects more akin to his gloomy character; persecutions of witches and temptations of devils; an array of witnesses and judges, closed by a creaking gibbet. In sad truth, he had weightier affairs to attend to than the gay melodies of birds and the humanizing smile of summer. He had depositions to arrange, authorities to collate, and legal arguments to examine. That day Bridget Bishop was to be put upon capital trial for arts of sorcery practiced against persons of his own household and blood; and if the accusation were not sustained, Sadducism would triumph, Satan would rage unchecked, Gallios would be more careless than ever of the church, and, worse than all, his own character and position might suffer.
So, having thrown his window open, and drawn a breath of fresh air, he sat himself down to a table covered with books and manuscripts, many of which were confessions drawn up at the great examination of witches which took place on the eleventh of April in the First Church of Salem. Opening one after
another of the dingy quartos and octavos, he examined and reinforced his previous marginal references to important and appropriate passages. In the absence of the royal charter, the court which had been called was a hasty and informal one, the best that could be had in Salem's pressing necessity. It was destitute of any prosecuting attorney, and this deficiency Parris had been called on to fill, not only by letters from men in authority, but also, as he felt, by the voice of God. He worked hard and zealously, therefore, rewarded even as he went by the congenial nature of his occupation.
In an hour his work was completed, fit, as he hoped, to stand any atheistical trial; and, leaving his study, he passed into the sitting-room, also used as a dining-room. The table was set, but as yet bare of eatables. "Mistress Parris," he exclaimed, in a loud grating voice, "is not the breakfast prepared? I commanded it at seven of the clock. What is the reason of this delay? Is not the time short? Must we not work while it is day? So say the scriptures. Will any one answer that they are false?" A stout, dumpy woman of about forty, with a fat flabby and vulgar face, rushed into the room, her hands lifted in a gesture of deprecation. "Spouse," continued the minister, with his most gravelly harshness of accent, "is this your worthy diligence? Must the servant of the Lord be kept from his work for lack of food to give him strength? Is this an occasion to waste precious hours? No, certainly, I deny it. It is not a time to waste them. At nine of the clock I must stand before rulers and men in authority. But haste, haste, I say. and no more tarrying!"
"O Elder Parris, forgive me!" exclaimed his weaker half, with a smile of the most unctuous and pleading affection. Oh laws and testimonies! Oh, who'd ever thought it was half so late? But, laws and testimonies! you don't know how them witches and spirits has rabbled us this morning. First, they upset the gridiron, and got the pork in the ashes; and then they upset the spider, and spoiled the cake; and then dear little Elizabeth had fits; and then Abigail had fits; and then Tituba had fits; and then John had fits; and, oh laws and testimonies! we've had such a time! such prestigerous manufestations."
Nefardous fiends !" exclaimed Parris. "O Lord! cannot these unseen furies be forced to leave my household in peace ?"
"No, no!" shrieked the girl; “ thoy will not leave me in peace. They say I shall not go to the trial. They say they will kill me if I go."
They shall let you go !" roared Parris. They shall not prevent your evidence. Rise up! rise up, I say, and struggle against them. There must be a stop to this. We can lose no more time."
"No!" persisted Elizabeth, bringing her voice up to its sharpest pitch; "I cannot go, I shall die if I do." And she kicked and struggled with all her strength, in downright resistance of his efforts to raise her and hold her quiet.
Away, thou invisible demon !" cried the minister, striking furiously about the girl, and in so doing giving her, as if by accident, two or three hearty cuffs. "God forgive me for hitting my poor afflicted child!" he exclaimed; but, at the same time he held her up firmly with a grasp of iron. Elizabeth looked in his stern eyes, and suddenly became quiet. "The spectre is gone," she said; and, falling back into her mother's arms, began to cry loudly and excitedly. "Laws and testimonies, Elizabeth," exclaimed the fat, good-natured woman, don't twitter so; yer father's here by, and the Lord's above all."
"I don't want to go to the court," sobbed the girl, beginning to kick again; "and Abigail don't want to go. We're afeard to go." And here she broke into a timid spasm of squeals and struggles, looking furtively meantime at her father. "Oh laws!" gasped Mrs. Parris. "Oh, here's another manufestation! Who ever heard of a family so tormented? Surely, this is the fore end of the runner.
"The forerunner of the hend, you mean, spouse," said her husband, going
to the mantel-piece, and taking down a rawhide. We must, at all events, ave an end of this unseemly interruption," he continued, coming up to Mercy. "Child, tell me if you see any spectres, and let me smite at them."
"I don't see any," said the girl quickly, fixing her eyes on the whip with a slight shiver.
"Do you feel better now?" he asked in the same hard, steady tone. Yes, I feel better.
It is all over
I don't see 'em any more." "Are you sure that they are quite gone?" he persisted without softening his manner.
"Oh, yes! Oh dear! yes. I don't think they will come back soon. Yes, I heard them say that they dared not come back now."
With a menacing frown, which, whether meant for the spirits or not, evidently had a terrifying effect on the child, he turned away and replaced the cowhide. 66 Now, spouse," said he, "let us see that breakfast quickly, and let the girls be ready to eat it with us."
Mrs. Parris made no response, and toddled Elizabeth hurriedly into the kitchen. In three minutes more the table was smoking with pork steaks, baked beans, fried turnips, clam chowder, and hot corn-cakes. The family, Elizabeth and Abigail included, stood while Parris said a grace of remarkable brevity and crustiness. Then, sitting down, he rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to help all hands with astonishing celerity. It was wonderful what an appetite the entire household was blessed with, and its head had certainly been favored in this respect with a double benediction. It seemed as if he must be furnished with such a bag as Jack the Giant-killer made use of to slay his Brobdignagian captor by plethora, so immense was the capacity of deglutition that he exhibited. The perspiration stood on his forehead, the veins of his throat swelled, and he looked like a man in the first stages of choking. Not a word was spoken, and the meal was down in fifteen minutes. Then, taking a prodigious draught of cider, Parris wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and rose at a jerk from the table. “Spouse," said he, "get those girls ready for court, and call me if the demons hinder."
"Father," whined Elizabeth, as her
mother hauled her away, "will they
surely make us swear on the Bible? I don't want to take oath, and Abigail don't want to either."
"Child," replied Parris grimly, "give not way to notions of the devil. Be not afraid to utter testimony against his servants. Will not God look down to protect you? and will not I, your father, be there by your side? Yea, as God liveth and as my soul liveth."
He took down the cowhide again, and slapped it against his heavy riding boots, with such meaning that Mercy gave her cousin a look of whimpering despair, and suffered herself to be quietly led away. Parris now went to the stable, and hurried up John Indian, who was saddling the gray mare. In a few minutes, old Grizzle, and another horse, borrowed from Nathaniel Putnam, stood before the parsonage waiting for their riders. The whole family came out to the gate; Tituba was ordered to march ahead on foot; John was to mount Grizzle, with Abigail behind him; Parris reserved good-man Putnam's more showy charger for himself and Elizabeth. The saddle-bags were crammed with manuscripts and quartos; and the broad skirts of Parris's coat stuck out bulkily with smaller volumes. Now, whether Putnam's bony Bucephalus felt the potency of these weird publications drawing like a blister through his saddle, or whether the devil took occasion to enter into him for the annoyance of our devout minister, at all events, suddenly, and without the least apparent reason, he broke out in a most diabolical and outrageous demonstration. Giving a fierce scream, he reared high in the air, and then came down on his fore-feet, throwing out his hind ones with amazing quickness and energy. Parris tried to scramble out of the way; but, those devil-directed heels just reached him in the rear, with a force that would have done him irreparable damage, but for the satanic literature which stored his pockets; and, even as it was, he was kicked a yard or two, straight forward, falling on all fours with his nose in a bed of thistles! "Oh lawk, suz!" screamed Mrs. Parris, throwing up her hands, "was that a manufestation?"
John Indian picked up his master, and then ran to hold the mischievous quadruped. But there was no need of his interference; the animal's uraccountable excitement had passed as
quickly as it came; and he hung his head as meekly as if he had never tasted oats in his life; which, indeed, was very likely. The elder came up to him, pale (except his nose) with fright and, perhaps, rage; but, he repressed any outburst of violence, to avoid scandalizing a group of approaching parishioners. After some cautious hesitation, and a good many whos! and soothings, the interesting family all mounted and paced soberly off toward Salem. All the way Parris harangued wayfarers, on foot and on horseback, bound in the same direction; related awful manifestations, thundered against Goody Bishop, and denounced the prevailing unbelief of the times.
Very different was the manner in which Elder Noyse approached the momentous event of this summer day. Enveloped in the trancing haze of love, the early incidents of the delusion wandered by him half unnoticed, like meteors passing the eyelids and only in part shaking the sleep of one wrapped in delicious dreams. And when his cruel disappointment came, it so entangled him in misery, that, for some days, he thought of scarcely any other thing in the world. Presently his religious sentiments mingled with it; he began to hope that Providence was using this cross for his spiritual benefit; and that, when its object was accomplished, it would be withdrawn. Therefore, he pleaded passionately that it might purify him; yet with a miserable half consciousness that he only desired this purity for the sake of its expected reward-Rachel. It was noticeable that he never asked for a final disappointment to his hopes, provided they were evil in their nature or object. That was an abyss of resignation to which his conscience often pointed, but into which his heart could never find courage to plunge. Often he was violently impressed, as if from above, that he ought to give up this girlish idol, and then a terrible struggle took place between his sense of earthly love and his sense of spiritual duty; the result of which was that he felt tempted to cast out Christ from his heart, as a deity whom it was too hard to propitiate.
But there was one theme on which his supplications were not only fervent from the uttermost depths of a sensitive passionate nature, but to their very marrow sincere. This was the well
being of Rachel; that she might be blessed in this life; that she might be sanctified for futurity; that she might be fitted for the responsibility he longed to share with her; that heaven would please to give her to him as his comforter in this vale of sorrow. "I wonder what ails the elder, to keep so much to himself," muttered Martha Carrier, as she walked about the house, scrubbing and brushing in a dissatisfied bumor of low spirits. "I don't expect him to court me any more-I don't want to have him court me-I hate him; but I think he might just speak to
once in a while. He won't let Sarah into his room either. She caught him on his knees once."
Thus it must not be supposed that Noyse's feelings were easily visible in his outward life, or that they interfered with the discharge of his ordinary public duties. He preached as earnestly as usual, presided at his ordinary weekly prayer-meeting, and, to most eyes, appeared like his previous self. deed, it is probable that he would not have been so inwardly disturbed, but for that sense of religion which forever mingled with the emotions of his strongly emotional character, and gave them a fearful significance as bearing upon eternity as well as upon time. This it was that intensified the struggle, and spread it out over all the capacities of his nature.
He could not diminish his love at the bidding of his conscience; but he could be keenly miserable as he gazed on the contest between these two mighty conflicting influences.
Thus, while godly children were afflicted, church members were cried out upon, and the devil roared day and night through Salem, Elder Noyse remained the most indifferent of Gallios. He had, it is true, occasional twinges of conscience at his selfish, slothful inactivity; but it was not until the light of this morning of trial broke in upon him, that he was startled into a vividly keen sense of duty unfulfilled, and duty impending. He also, like Elder Parris, looked out of his window, upon this regal morning, at the glorified spectacle of birds, flowers, dew-drops, sunlight and shadow. But he saw them very vaguely and dimly, as one sees the mingled images of half-remembered dreams. Suddenly he struck his hand on the window-sill, and muttered: "Yea the trial is upon us; the great of the