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land are here; the eleventh hour is at hand; and I have not yet entered into the vineyard!"
"If you please, Elder Noyse," said a little voice interrupting him, "the breakfast is ready."
It was Sarah Carrier standing in the partly-open door, her bright black eyes wandering curiously over the books, papers, and other objects scattered around that awful sanctum, the study. "Child," said the minister, "how often have I told you never to enter here without having knocked, and been bidden !"
"If you please, Elder Noyse,” replied the girl, with a ready lie, I knocked once, and never heard you say nothing."
"It might well be," muttered Noyse. "I was in a meditation, it is true."
He passed into the hall, and thence into the sitting-room, while Sarah ran before him to open the doors, and then ran back to close them. The minister found his breakfast-table set, and Martha Carrier standing beside it with folded arms. "Good morning, Elder Noyse," said she kindly. "I hope you have slept well."
"Ill, Martha," he replied, examining the expression of her eye, "but thanks to you equally."
He felt more humble than usual, from a consciousness that he had lately been inefficient in his duties, and that, before night, Elder Parris would stand far ahead of him in the estimation of his people, as a faithful and energetic pas
He, therefore, accompanied these words with a smile of kindly fellowship. Martha seemed grateful for it, and hushed Sarah, who was making some noise with her chair against the tablelegs. The meal was a short one, and passed for the most part in silence. Little Sarah had a mind to talk half-adozen times, but invariably checked herself by a look at the serious elder; for even she, bold and ill-corrected as her little temper was, had learned to be afraid of ministers. Very glad, therefore, was she, when Noyse left the room, and she could rattle on boisterously to her unanswering mother.
Noyse took his hat in silence, passed out of the parsonage, and walked rapidly to the house of Justice Hawthorne. He wanted to learn the final arrangements for the trial, and whether he was to have any part in conducting it. But
the justice was not at home, and nobody knew where he had gone. Noyse sought him in various directions, and finally hurried to the residence of his faithful Deacon Bowson. He passed through the yard without being noticed, scraped his feet on the step, and was about to enter without rapping at the half-open door, when he was arrested by a murmur of conversation from the sitting-room, in which he distinguished the sound of his own name. The inner door, like the outer one, was ajar, so that, although he could not see the speakers, he could recognize their tones. He paused irresolutely, and his heart vibrated; for the voice which had spoken of him was Rachel's. Somewhat to his surprise, it was Martha Carrier who responded. The minister listened, almost against his will, moveless with astonishment and anger. "Rachel," said Martha, "mind ye it well. Never marry that Noyse! Never love him! He has a traitor spirit, and will break any heart to please his whim for change. I told your father so; but. lest he should forget it, I came to tell it you, also. Remember."
"I have no need to remember it, Martha," responded that voice, which was the sweetest in the world to the poor minister. "I never shall love him; never can love him. He will never be my husband so long as the sun shines."
While the listener's head whirled, and the light grew dim around him in the doorway, Martha walked suddenly into the hall, and confronted him. She started back, repeated his name in a tone of consternation; seemed as if she were about to fall on her knees to him; but, suddenly recovering herself, hurried by him into the street. Wordless and gestureless he let her go, and only turned to look after her when she had reached a considerable distance. Then, with an agitated start, he hurried to the inner room, in hopes of finding Rachel, and telling her something-no matter what-anything to make her think better of him; anything to make her revoke that sentence of death which she had passed upon his heart. The room was empty; he rapped on the door; no one responded; he rapped again, and called aloud. After two minutes of precious time had elapsed, Hannah made herself visible in the kitchen, cautiously, and with round eyes
peering into the shadowy keeping-room, Oh, lawk! dear me, Elder Noyse!" she exclaimed, dropping a courtesy. "Lawk! I thought praps t'was a witch, beggin yer pardin. I seed Mistress Rachel scootin away through the gardin to Master Stanton's, lookin dreadful scary like. I thought praps there was a witch, and I didn't like to come in, beggin yer pardin.”
So! Mistress Rachel is gone?" he said angrily.
"Yes, sir, I just seed her scootin away through the garden, dreadful scary like; and I thought, praps-"
"Where is Deacon Bowson ?" he asked, interrupting her.
"Oh, sir, that's jist what I was goin to ask you, sir. He's gone away; and Teague-what's a name, he's gone arter him, sir; and mistress Bowson, she's gone arter 'em both, sir; and I was jist about to ask you, if so be, as praps you'd seen any on 'em. Mistress Rachel was a stayin with me, waitin for her father, but she's gone, too; and bein here all alone, in these conjurations times, it's dreadful scary like, sir."
Hannah seemed to be rather in hopes that the minister would stay with her, until the return of the family, and so prevent her from being scared any further. But she was disappointed, for he turned short on his heel, hurried out of the door, and made for his own dwelling. He met Master Hawthorne, and would have passed him without a recognition, had not the deep-chested justice vociferously arrested his attention. "Hold, Elder Noyse!" he said. "I have been seeking for you all the morning. I have beenspecially requested, by the honorable judges, to entreat you that you would open the court with a suitable prayer. "
"Master Hawthorne, excuse me," returned Noyse. "Ask the honorable court to excuse me. Let Elder Parris, or any one else, perform the function. I am in no fit mood for edifying public prayer to day. Pray for me, brother: my temptations are grievous, though I may not mention them."
And he hurried away, leaving the magistrate to wonder what could be the nature of those spiritual assaults which so perplexed and harassed the soul of the minister. Noyse continued his course without looking back, and, entering his kitchen, confronted Martha Car
rier. She paused in her housework, and tried to face him with her unsteady eyes; but her neck flushed into red spots, and her lips quivered in spite of all compression. "Good-wife Carrier," said he, and he was surprised at the hoarseness and weakness of his voice, "the hour has come for us to part. I have discovered a serpent in my bosom ; and no one can blame me if I cast it out. Unwittingly and unwillingly this morn, I was led to where I could not help hearing your slanders against me. Is it not a shame, that you, a seeming member of Christ, should seek to defile the garments and weaken the hands of a minister of Christ? Remember, too, that for these weeks now, that minister has harbored you, although you are accused of witchcraft. Go! get together your worldly goods, and pass out of his door once again and forever!'
"I will do so, Elder Noyse," replied Martha, struggling to assume an air of scorn, and to speak firmly. "I only answer one thing, and that is, that you have talked very differently to me more than once, in this very room. You have harbored me against liars, it is true, but you owed me as much as that, and more also."
She sprang out of the kitchen, before he could reply, and hurried to her chamber under one of the gables. There, sometimes laughing to herself fiercely, sometimes changing into quick angry tears, she put her few clothes into a large basket, and dressed herself and her child to go. Carrying the basket in one hand, and leading Sarah by the other, she went down stairs. Tho tears had dried on her burning face, and Noyse saw only a smile of insolent bravado, as she passed him in the hall, and made him her last courtesy. Not a word was spoken, except by the little girl, who said: "Are we going away, mother? Oh, I am so glad! I don't like Elder Noyse. Do you, mother? I don't."
As Noyse sat there alone, his passion at Martha gradually fell, and be remembered only the words of Rachel. Ever and ever, they hatefully repeated themselves: "He shall never be my hus band so long as the sun shines.” It was she then, she herself, who rejected him; and at moments he felt even furious to wards her. Once, in the vibrations of his spirit throught many thoughts, it struck him that he ought to pray; but
he repulsed the impression, with a feeling of rebellion at that heaven which seemed to be crossing his purposes. Finally, the shrill clamor of the bell, ringing for court, startled him from that weary round of sullen and purposeless reveries. He locked his doors, turned away from the deserted dwelling, and walked alone toward the First Church. Numbers of people, who passed or met him, saluted him, and he returned their salutations, but with a feeling of impatient irritation at being thus disturbed. He tried to collect himself now; tried to be resigned to the dispensation that was upon him; but the effort was always lost in a new reverie, which swept him into another angry whirlpool. It was still the religious element in his character which chiefly contributed to his confusion; for he noticed, over and over again, that nothing so stirred up his rage, shame, and anguish as the consciousness that he was striving against Providence. Vexed and mortified, he reached the crowded broadening of the street in front of the meeting-house.
THE tumult in the unlucky minister's mind, was not greater than the exterior tumult into which he entered. The trial of Goody Bishop had filled the little town with a murmuring, uneasy tide of strong excitement. Scores on scores of citizens had left their occupations; women had run away from their housewifery and their spinning-wheels; farmers had ridden in from the country and the surrounding villages; elders, magistrates and social_magnates, had arrived from as far as Boston; and all these people were drifting in currents and eddies of eager curiosity before the door of the Salem meeting-house. Noyse had to take his eyes out of his wretched heart, and look around perforce on the strenuous little world which caught him by his reverend button-hole. Yet the crowd which hoped and feared, narrated and listened, asserted and contradicted, on every side of him, was not visibly in a state of feverish agitation. It was full of earnest, bronzed faces, strong in feature, zealous and resolute in expression; but these faces were grave and composed also, devoid of all mercurial and fretful vehemence-stoical, imperturbable, statuesque, with devout conviction. The talk of each of these Pu
ritans was like his visage; equally incomplete as an utterance of his fervent credences; equally reserved, considerate and tranquil in its phraseology; its very tones slow, nasal, and quiet.
"Are we certain of Deputy Governor Stoughton?" said one old gentleman, with a peculiarly orthodox cut to his solemn face, and his prim, low collar, "I hope that he hath no taint of Sadducism."
"I can answer for Master Stoughton." replied that tall, hawk-nosed, sharp-chinned, gray-eyed, slow-spoken patrician of Salem, Justice Corwin. He is Israel's stoutest judge; he is no fainting Eli, but a true Samuel, as our Agags in Essex county will soon discover."
"God grant the others may be like him," said a strong, bull-necked man, chiefly noticeable for heavy jaws, highcheck-bones, and in general a rather Indian style of figure-head. "But what do we know of all these Winthrops, and Sewalls, and Saltonstalls? There be too many Boston men, I say, to judge Salem's affairs rightly. Who's going
to tell me that they be justly sensible of the awful state of our town? I wish we could hang our own witches without asking their opinions."
"Let us have confidence, Goodman Herrick," struck in a small, thin elder, whose name, it seems, was Hale, and who was the pastor of Beverly. “We may cheerfully expect a good issue. God will not suffer our judges to be blinded with regard to this prestigious sinner. She is an ancient, notorious, cognoscible offender."
Ay, ay," replied Herrick; "charged with witchcraft twenty year agone. Ought to been hung then. Magistrates always too milk and watery. I'm one of your root-and-branch men.'
“Wal, so I say," mumbled a toothless, pinch-nosed old farmer. "I say ought'er been hung up ever s'long 'go. I say hang 'er up now. That's what I say. Ole popish witch done harm 'nuff. Done harm 'nuff to Salem cattle and craps. Spoiled any crap last year.__ Illluck ever sen she come here. Done harm 'nuff, I say. Ole popish witch."
"What's that you say, Good-man Peabody?" broke in More, who had come up at the moment. "What's that about ill-luck in Salem since old Bridget came here? What do you mean? Does nothing happen wrong except when old
folk are about? Why, three weeks agone, I heard Elder Samuel Parris lay all our misfortunes to altogether another root. Said he: 'The calamities among us, have been very much for that abominable sacrilege wherein the ministers of Christ, almost all the land over, have been defrauded of their dues.' Those were his very words, look you. So, there you are at loggerheads. He says that our cattle die, and our crops fail, because we give short commons to our elders; you say it is all of Goody Bishop. Put that and that together, if you can, neighbor. Who's right, and who's wrong?"
"Dunno nothin' bout it," muttered Good-man Peabody, with a look of sulky obstinacy. "Ill-luck ever sen she come here. Done harm 'nuff, I say. Ole popish witch."
Meantime, Justice Corwin smoothed his long chin with his bony hand, and frowned solemnly upon the defender of Bridget, as if about to demolish him by one mighty reproof. "Hold there, Master More," said he. "Let us not speak lightly of sacred things. I opine that our troubles may very well come as providences, from both those causes; heaven, as it were, hitting two birds with one stone. But we must distinguish between the judgments of God and the mischiefs of the devil; and the plagues inflicted upon us by this old wrinkled hag are, doubtless, of this last, order and come straight from the pit."
"There you go again," retorted More ; 66 always judging this poor Bridget for being old and wrinkled, as if those were hanging matters. Suppose we hang Good-man Peabody here; suppose we hang Elder Higginson; haven't they wrinkles enough? I have read of a barbarous people in the Indian seas who eat their fathers and mothers when they get aged and helpless. Suppose we eat ours; it were more profitable than hanging them."
"Stand not in the way of heaven's justice, or it will crush you," cried Corwin, indignantly. "There is no use of wearying yourself, to save this besotted creature. She hath confessed, and will surely be hung, whether you fret against it or no."
"Yes, yes; that's what I say," struck in the old farmer. "Done harm 'nuff aready. No use to fret. Surely be hung, I say. Ole popish witch."
"Not so surely, not so surely," persisted More. "How can any jury fail to see that she is only a poor, ignorant granny, who is in her dotage? She will certainly be cleared; and so this delusion will be arrested in its outset. I am glad that the first trial has fallen upon her; for if the first silly old sheep leaps the fence, the others will easily follow."
"She won't leap it. No, no. Not unless the devil boosts her," shouted several voices at once. "God have mercy upon us, if such hags are to go unhung!"
Thus opinions succeeded and were contradicted; yet the believers in Bridget's guilt were ever loudest and longest; they reasoned better because they were more positive and numerous; they had with them all the ministers, physicians and magistrates; the mere fact of a commitment and trial, argued in favor of their opinions; more than that, prosecutions and convictions for witchcraft had happened many times before; sorcerers had been tried and condemned and hung in all Christendom, if not among the very infidels.
In the midst of one little squad of debaters, which included some of the staunchest and loudest-mouthed trackers of Beelzebub in all Salem, stood Deacon Bowson, listening with the whole length of his ears, and turning from one to another of those persuaded and reso lute dogmatists in a perfect cramp of credulous terror. Their goblin narratives and sulphurous arguments, trickled down to the bottom of his soul, and seemed to scent his poor brain with fumes from the lake of fire and brimstone. He broke out of the dreadful circle on seeing his brother-in-law, and, sidling up to him with a scared grin, made fast to his coat-skirt. "Oh, brother More! these are woeful tales, woeful tales!" said he. 66 Oh, this is a fearful time for a poor man like me to fall upon. Lord have mercy upon me! though I say it as should not say it. Here I was, attending to my business, and trying to get through the world as I best could, without harm to any one, when all of a sudden these witcheries break upon us; and who knows who will be taken next? I don't, no more nor the dead. Oh, brother More, it is a sore warning to poor fellows and cold professors like me, who have neglected secret prayer and the like."
"May the devil fly away with you!" roared More, in a burst of profane im
patience at Bowson's credulity and cowardice. "If you have neglected your duty, go home and do it; don't stay here whining about it, and making a public spectacle of your poltroon spirit." And, releasing his button-hole without much ceremony, he marched off in haughty indignation. While the forlorn. deacon stared open-mouthed after his unsympathizing relative, a young gentleman in broad-skirted clericals came up and addressed him. He was a very noticeable man, although a young one; for he had a fine mien of calm stateliness and authority; a face not more than thirty years old, indeed, but marked with earnest thought and hard study; a high forehead, dark piercing eyes, aquiline nose, and thin lips, mobile yet resolute. The only particular which detracted from his dignity was an air of conceit, chiefly perceptible in a precise pronunciation, as if he thought his words worthy of the most minute notice, and wished to mark them off, as it were, by vocal italics and capitals. "Yes, my friend, you do well to be troubled," said he. This is, indeed, a time for each one of us to blow afresh the flames of prayer upon his altar. If the fire of holiness hath grown cold in your heart, warm it up quickly by prayer. Better have the soul warmed thus, even at the price of many a night's sleep, than have it scorched by these firebrands of Satan that are hidden among us. Better have the soul warmed in this world, at no matter what cost of groans and tears, than have it heated up hereafter in the lake of fire and brimstone. Prayer, brother, hath an incredible potency. I have read of a good man who, for a long time, was grievously tempted of an obstinate devil, and, in general, could find no relief. But whenever he went to his ordinary place of devotion, the devil was used to say to him, 'Well, if you are going to pray, I will take a turn in the street. Pray thus, my friend. I would plead with you, also, to vomit all sin with a very hearty detestation. And I will tell you, that I verily believe the unpardonable sin, itself, is most usually committed by professors of the Christian religion falling into witchcraft."
After a few more remarks, in the same strain of fanciful, though solemn, rhetoric, the elder shook hands with the abashed deacon, and walked away. As soon as Bowson could recover his di
"Oh, Good-man Peabody, is that truly Elder Cotton Mather!" exclaimed Bowson, with the air of a man who had lost a great opportunity. "Would that I could have his prayers. I will ask him for them, as he desires to save a cold professor."
And away he went through the crowd, with a sidling haste, and a simple, anxious expression, like that of a scared sheep, as pitiable as it was ludicrous. A minute afterward, the judges, six grave, dignified men, clad in black robes, and browed with a fine air of authority, swept through the multitude. The church door was flung open for them, and they passed in, followed by a sturdy rush of eager, heavy-limbed colonists. Presently came the prisoner, her form bent under the burden of eighty-five years, as under a weighty cross, and each of her manacled hands grasped by a stout constable. Her bleared, lustreless gray eyes were almost constantly fixed on the ground, as if watching where she could plant least painfully her feeble, uncertain footsteps; and, if once in a while they glanced sidelong and furtively at the crowd, it was with a vague and glazed regard, which expressed no clear comprehension of the scene, no interest beyond that of silly curiosity. One side of her mouth twitched incessantly, as if her whole frame were convulsed by the effort of keeping pace with her jailers. As she neared the doorway, More came up, accompanied by Rachel, and said, with characteristic boldness: "God be with you, Bridget."
She recognized her foster-son, and strained towards him with a piteous whine and a sudden sidelong motion, like a chained dog trying to reach his master. "Bless ye, darlint," she whimpered, "I'd like to kiss yer hands; but they won't let the owld woman go."
And away she was hurried, mumbling some incoherence about her darlint, her dolls, and her prince. Rachel looked after her with large troubled eyes; and halting there, said that she did not wish