網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

able to say.

as the coast was clear, “of course you her foolish passion so far as to be faithunderstand what turn things have taken. ful to a man attainted of communion with I need not tell you that young Stanton Satan. Be faithful to him? But did there expects to be my son-in-law. I she love him now ? Noyse could not make no doubt, either, that you have believe it sometimes, and insisted to ceased, altogether, to regret my answer himself that she was only acting under to your own courteous motion of mar the coercion of her father. Then riage. You see that Rachel is much bet- what if More himself should be acter suited to a youth like Mark than to a cused should be condemned-should man like yourself, in full maturity, and be hanged? That would be awful, inladen with many cares and labors. Let deed; but it would be a great obstacle young folk begin the world with young

out of the way: folk, should be the maxim of us, who Thoughts like these went to sleep are much more than grown up. Beside, that night in his heart, awoke there in it appears that these children have been the morning, and lived there perpetualin love with each other for some time ly. They became a part of his life; back; so that it would have been down. he grew accustomed to them; they right cruelty and sin to separate them. were his familiars—his devils. He fult It was not so easily done, either. My that he was wicked; that he was a philosophy teaches me that we can hypocrite ; that he was committing a divide bodies, but not spirits."

great sin; perhaps the unpardonable “You surely will not unite them in sin. He looked at himself in the glass, such an awful time as this?” Noyse was and wondered if that face concealed a

demon; if it would look up in endless “Very soon,” replied More. " Why torments. At times he tried to console not? All the greater need of haste. I himself with the idea that, having cershould like to bo present at my only tainly been renewed once, he was now child's marriage; and who knows how one of the elect, and, therefore, could soon I shall be spirited away ?

not perish eternally. He spent hours Noyse had no longer any wish to in thinking over his earlier experiences, offer the bunter his friendship and pro and weighing the probabilities as to tection; nor did he even shake hands whether they were a reality or only a dewith bim, as be passed, for the last time lusion of his fancy. What was particuin his life, over that threshold. It was larly noticeable in all these condicts is, the second occasion on which he had the sensitiveness, and, at the same time, left the cabin in an anguish of disap- the weakness, of the man's conscience. pointment; but now, jealousy mingled It writhed under an evil thought as unwith bis other painful emotions, color. der an evil deed, and stood aghast being his grief with a poisonous tint of fore a sin of omission as before a sin of rage. He had a wretched opportunity commission; yet it could not restrain of noting how greatly, in three months, bim from rushing blindly on in the path his religious character had declined in of his sinful imaginations-could not fervor. He felt little inclination, now, bend him to any lowliness of submisto pray, although conscious that bis sion, nor elevate bim to any sublimity need of prayer had never been greater. of pious aspiration. Horrible thoughts, too, entered and But, ob ! how beautiful Rachel seemranged through his spirit, which seemed ed to him all this time!' How she apinclined to entertain them rather than peared to float, like an angel, above his to eject them with instinctive aversion. abyss of hopelessness! Only, she He began to wonder, with a vague con

would not deliver him when he reached sciousness of pleasure in the idea, toward her, but forever flew, unheedwhether Mark would not be accused of ingly, away into her own heaven. How witchcraft. If so, and even if he were outrageous it was, that Mark Stanton, found innocent, the marriage would be & more boy, a farmer, who could not put off for a while, and might never appreciato such a being, should come happen. But what if Mark should, in with his coarse hands and drag her reality, be a secret wizard? Then down, to abide in his fleshly heart! would his condemnation be just; and, Yes, it was an insult to the poor miniswhoover anmasked him, would do ter-an unexpected insult, and intolRachel the greatest of kindness. At erably personal; for, were not the all ovents, she surely would not carry elders the choosers of all the hand

VOL. IX.-20

ance

somest, richest, maidens of the coun for Elder Higginson. From this time, try?

tho serious part of the community Whenever he encountered Mark, frowned upon gymnastics, and charachowever, he was graciously civil to terized them as “one of the presente him; for he would not have had it im- temptations of the old serpent to youth agined that such a youth as that could and vanity." Still, there were a few make him suffer. Sometimes he was a heedless youngsters, such as Mark Stanlittle wolfish to Deacon Bowson, who, ton, who persisted in aiding and abetif not remiss, had certainly been very ting Master More in his attempted reunsuccessful, in recommending his suit vival of the Olympics. One pleasant to Rachel; and, as for the poor witchos, summer twilight, this unthinking crew be was from that day doubly severo on were amusing themselves with Alinging them, pouring upon their devoted heads a sledge-hammer on the comthon, and, the dregs of a secret bitterness, which of course, in sight of Master Noyse's flowed out naturally, in sermons full of dwelling. In the height of their sport, denunciation, and prophecies of wrath. that troubled elder rode by, returning,

Before long, be found an occasion for perhaps, from some solemn pastoral discharging his ministerial duties in duty, in which he had bad a severe such a way as to take a slight venge- struggle with the demons of darkness. on More.

That utopian indi. Steering his horse through the squad of vidual was bent upon inoculating de- children, Indians, and negroes, who had vout, practical New England with a gathered as lookers-on, he pulled up in taste for May-days, out-of-door gay- front of the symnasts and gave them eties, and athletic sports. He lost no the severest lecture that he could frame opportunity of gathering the Salem against "such a foolish waste of time youth around him, and setting on foot a in unprofitable and light-minded amusestrife at running, jumping, wrestling, ments." or something of the sort. Very likely, More suffered himself to be provoked he thought, that by thus quickening to no bitter reply, and stood, with foldthe blood and aiding the digestion of ed arms, gazing rather pitifully, than these ponderous lads, he was gradually otherwise, on the baggard face of the sweating out of them those bilious doc- minister. People began to slink off, as trines of witchcraft, election, and ori soon as the philippio was over; and ginal sin. Or, perhaps, as he saw Bil- Noyse, touching his horse, moved on dad Hewit and Medad Jewet scuffling, with dignity toward the parsonage. As in a perspiration, round the common, he passed More, he glanced stealthily he reveled in thoughts of the Olympian at his face, and read its expression of games, and saw, in fancy, the new dawn scornful forbearance - an expression uf Spartan days. His own prodigious which must have soured him to the strength gained him great admiration bottom of his feelings; for be scarcely and influence among the young fellows replied to the hunter's salutation. At of that hale and active generation. They that moment, a yelping younker, who applauded his feats with boisterous had better have hold his tongue, but gayety, and did their best to win his whose ten-year-old enthusiasm was too approbation of their own springy legs much for his prudence, was distinctly and stiff backbones. The fellow who heard saying to a comrade : "I wish I could show a mighty biceps muscle, was could throw a hammer as far as Master something of a hero, in those old times More-by George, I do !" of band-to-hand warfare with forests Here was another pastoral duty to and Indians.

perform, also very well suited to the The rustic trials of strength on the elder's present frame of spirit. Riding common, excited no animadversion from round the thicket from behind which either the clergy or magistrates, until the voice proceeded, he caine upon a the arrival of the witch excitement. group of garrulous urchins, and exThen, Justice Curwin observed that, claimed, with his whip uplifted, "Whore

Our young men had better be wrestling is that profane boy? Which is he?". in prayer against Satan, than wrestling • That's him. It's Jim Bowen, sir,' with their legs against each other;" said a little coward, pointing to a broad. while Cotton Mather made a " lengthy backed minor of about three-feet-six, and reproving extemporary" on the who looked very red in the face, but subject, one Sabbath that he preached said nothing. The minister dismount

ed, and, making one of the other boys chel bravely. “Martha Carrier is no hold his horse, proceeded to give Jim witch." Bowen a most memorable flogging;

“ That remains to be found out," reafter which, still holding the sore younker plied Daunton. Anyhow, what I've by the collar, he lectured the small got to tell you, mistress, is all the same, crowd on the sinful folly of profane lan- which is, that you ain't to come here guage. Suddenly, he caught sight of any more, unless, porchance, old HerMore, listening, with his hat off, in evi- rick fetches you." dent mookery, his lips twitching, with The girl's face flushed up at this an expression of amused contempt. The coarse and threatening personality, but elder's face was very much flushed, as

she bade the man a civil good-morning be mounted his horse ; he struck the and walked away, wondering in no lit. animal a sharp blow, and pushed on to tle uneasiness what might be those his own gate.

curious reports concerning her father. That is the way boys were served in She beard soon enough that he had at the good old days of New England; last been cried out upon vehemently by their parents hided them, the ministers several of the afflicted. She went homo hided them, and the magistrates some- crying, and tried to persuade him to times hided them. I do not say that leave the colony for a while. Ho Tothey were, in general, any the worse fused resolutely, and asked her if she for it; I am inclined to sustain, very wished her father to show himself a decidedly, the contrary opinion. Young coward by running away from his duty America had a more disagreeable time as soon as it became dangorous. This of it than dow; but, on the other hand, duty, as he understood it, consisted in Young America was a good deal better arguing on all occasions against the behaved. As for Master More, I think doctrine of witchcraft, criticizing the he was quite to blame for counteracting proceedings of the courts, and denouncthe salutary manual advice of Eldering without stint those who urged on Noyse, by his scornful smile and his the prosecutions. He carried on this irreverent air. I charitably hope, how. warfare almost alone; and his adversaever, and do really believe, that what ries were by this time more provoked drew forth his mute sarcasm was not at him than at any other person in the the whipping, nor the very proper sen- village; but such was the general respect timents of the minister in regard to pro- for his talents, learning, and family, that fanity, but the spiteful, unworthy spirit, the magistrates were unwilling to comwhich he detected at the bottom of all mit bim, except on grounds which would that seeming zeal for good morals and insure his condemnation. I must do religion.

them the justice to say that, before pro

ceeding to violence, they tried their best CHAPTER XIV.

to effect his conversion. In imitation

of Deacon Bowson, Cotton Mather visRACHEL made one more attempt to ited him at his cabin ; and the two dissee Martha Carrier; but Daunton, the puted all night there, taking occasional jailer, refused her admittance. “And sips of cider and bites of venison to supI must tell you, pretty mistress," he port over-fatigued nature. The elder added, " that it'll be waste time for you left in the morning, bis eyes red with to come here any more for the visitin' watching, and his patience quite fretted of prisoners."

out by the hunter's skeptical obstinacy. Why so ?" asked Rachel, a good But all that More could say or do, deal surprised; for she thought herself retarded not one particle the progress on friendly terms with the official. of the murderous delusion ; and the

“ Your father's in bad repute among great car of superstition rolled on the elders and justusses. "Don't you steadily, its wheels dripping redder and know! There be some curous reports redder with the blood of New England. about, as to his havin' to do with these John Willard, who had fled as far as 'ere sorcerers. And, furthermore, I'll Nashua, forty miles distant, was arjest tell you a piece of my mind. I rested by the town authorities there, don't choose to let folk in here who've and sent back to Salem for the satisfacgot the stomach to go a kissin' of tion of Juggernaut. The great greedy, witches."

gory-mouthed idol also screamed loudly “She is no witch," asserted Ran for the blood of Elder Burroughs, Giles

Cory, Martha Carrier, and othor persons testimony, and with the pain of draw. not so well known to us. Deputy Gov. ing it from these poor afflicted creaernor Stoughton and five brother judges, tures. Your child's confession comes such men as the Winthrops, Saltonstalls, before us properly attested. It is Sewalls, and Sergeants, of Boston, per. enough." sons of the highest respectability and " It is a trick to destroy me," shriekmost exemplary piety, met in the First ed the half crazed woman. “ Sarah Church of Salem, listened to the sbrieks would take all back if she were here of the possessed ones, and decided that to look me in the face.” a great sacrifice should be made to Jug “Yes, I see through it all,” roplied gernaut on the nineteenth of August. Stoughton. “You think that the magical Admirablo indeed was the bearing of power of your eye would twist ber and Willard and those new sufferers, Proc- turn her at will. But have done now tor and Burroughs, through all the with these unseemly interruptions, and agonizing suspense of that trial, and suffer the deposition to be read.” through the fearful shock of condem He glanced with no amiable expresnation. What Christian patience, what sion at Saltonstall, who the next day unostentatious courage was theirs, as threw up his post and retired from the they answered not again their revilers, court in disgust. “Thank God, brother but professed their innocence before Mather, thank God, I say," chuckled God, and accepted death, bringing no Parris, as, rubbing his hands with glee, angry accusation against their accus he walked out of church after the last ers! “I blame no man,” said Willard, trial had closed in a conviction.

" We still as honest, credulous, and kind- have great reason to praise the Lord. hoarted as ever : “I do myself yet It appears that not even the defection believe there be witches; and I justify of rulers can weaken our cause.

Bethe jurymen for condemning me on the hold, Major Saltonstall retired; and yet evidence they have had.”

the cart will carry as full a load as ever Not thus beautifully did poor Martha to the gibbet. Truly may we sing, The Carrier listen to the railing testimony face of the Lord is against them that do against her, and face those who pressed evil, to cut off the remembrance of them her relentlessly toward the grave with from the earth.' Is not his faco against an array of grotesque yet deadly false- them that do evil? I am sure that none bood. She was vexed to extremity at but an atheist would deny it.” ber persecutors, and would ask none of " I hold it to be a great mercy that their mercy, nor hardly deign affirm we have brought about the conviction to them her guiltlessness. Imprison- of that Martha Carrier,” replied the ment bad emaciated her face, but there author of tbe Remarkables. "I take was still an undaunted flush on each her to be the most dangerous bag of sunken cheek, and in her dark eyes a them all. I should say that she was sparkle of speechless anger. Once only, one of the very carrier pigeons of the a few tears shot to her eyelids, when pit.”. she found that her child was not to be “ Yea," continued Parris, with a brought before her, and that Newton, coarse relish of the grim pun, the king's attorney, would simply read & pigeon who will shurtly be roasted its confession as drawn up by Parris. before a hotter fire than any in our

May it please the court !" she ex kitchens." claimed, in a loud, sbrill, unnatural It was while still unreconciled to her tone. “Peace, woman!” said Justice fate, still in fierce bitterness of spirit Curwin in a boarse whisper, pinching toward her accusers, that Martha Čarher arm.

“What does the prisoner rier was led, a Sabbath afternoon, in want ?" asked Saltonstall, who had chains, to the First Church of Salem. observed Martha's effort to speak. She was placed on a lofty stool in the • I want to see my child," she cried. main aisle, with a paper cap on her

Why shouldn't she come before me, head, whereon was written in great letlike the other witnesses ? If she has ters, A WITCH. And then, before the anything to say against me, her mother, whole congregation, Elder Noyse sollet her say it to my face.”

emnly excommunicated her from the “ Woman !" answered Stoughton, church of Christ, and consigned her harshly, “we cannot be thus delayed over to Satan as an apostate and a sorThe court is oppressed already with

How could she be gentle, and

* and

ceress.

humble, and penitent, with such hot of heaven than the workings of his wrongs heaped like coals of fire on her disturbed visage ; for be issued from soul? It was with amazement, and the prison, ghastly, shaken, downcast, almost with anger, that she looked on and looking fearfully round, with the the resigned face of Elder Burroughs, air of a haunted murderer. and beard him talk, with a hope that It was strange that the devotions of a seomed ecstatic, of that world where the man so harassed by a remorseful conweary are at rest. So peaceful was science could act as the consolation of this condemned man, so forgiving, that one condemned to die. Yet so it was. he did not even say, "the wicked sball All that evening Martha repeated pascease from troubling," lest he should sages of his prayer to herself. At midseem to speak harshly of those who night she still murmured them, mingled had sentenced him to die. “Let the with her own petitions. At that bour, whole world count me vile,” said he, suddenly-without warning-the prison " or what they will : I matter it not: I seemed to be filled with a light which shall be blessed. The Saviour bas kept drowned ber in inexpressible calmness. the best wine until the last. I have She felt as if its unearthly splendor heretofore thought it an hard thing to must penetrate the adjoining cell and die ; but now I find that it is not so. the surrounding night. She wondered If I might have my choice now, I if the other prisoners saw it; if the senwould choose to go.".

tinels without saw it; if the villagers “Sir," said John Willard, “the Lord were rising to gaze at it. She felt hath enlarged your faith."

nothing like avger now toward her ac“ Friend,” replied Burroughs, " this cusers—nothing toward them like foris sense; the Lord bath oven satisfied giveness even—for she had lost the my sense. I am sensibly satisfied of sense that they had ever wronged her. everlasting glory."

She regarded them with affection—sbe Over the wronged, resentful Martha thought of her very judges with beneCarrier oven, there soon came a change dictions. She would go to the gallows of gentleness. With that inconstancy fearlessly; ay, more, with a joy that of sentiment which had always marked was unspeakable. Before she was her, she, in the first place, forgave Noyso, aware, she had sunk to sleep amid this who had certainly not thought of asking serene radiance. a reconciliation. The very day after the It was with a calm and resigned look excommunication she spoke of him with that she rode in the execution-cart, beno ill-will, but rather with a warm kind- side Willard and Burroughs, to Gallows ness. She listened seriously to Elder Hill. As she glanced unsteadily around Higginson, when he talked and prayed the crowd which had gathered before with her; but her last request to him the prison, she saw Rachel looking at was, that he would send his colleague her with eyes fascinated by pity and to aid ber in preparing for death; and horror. She nodded mechanically in 80 Noyse camo, pale, haggard, embar- farewell, and saw the girl hide her pale rassed, and for a while almost speech. face against her father's shoulder. less. Martha kissed his hand, wept, More led Rachel into the house of and begged his forgiveness for all that his brother-in-law, and then hurried she had ever done to offend or injure after the awful procession. His strong him. I cannot conceive what his feel. hands clenched, and his brave face ings were, as he knelt down to commend white with anger, he saw the five conher to the shriving mercies of heaven. demned ones lifted from the abominable But his petition was appropriate and cart on to a ladder whose summit, as fluent; for he was too much accustomed he hoped, was invisible and pierced the to that duty to falter in it; and words of heavens. To each one, as he stood on piety had become a habit of his utter the terrible verge, Sheriff Herrick cried, ance. After that, the condemned woman bidding him use this last opportunity to whispered long in his ear; detained him confess his misdeeds, and pray for forwhispering until he almost struggled to giveness. "Friends," said John Wilget away from her. When he finally lard, " I led others here, and it's right I quitted her, she gazed after him with a should come bere myself. I pray God passion of tenderness, abasement, and I may be the last who shall be unjustly despair; an expression painful to be executed for witchcraft. But I conhold, but which gave a better promise demon no one—the evidence was against

« 上一頁繼續 »