The Witch Bridle

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 55

Tuesday morning started with Oona and Louis both upbeat and okay – refreshed, informed, and more determined than ever to get to Salem. Outside white clouds were prominent in the blue sky while beneath them, low gray clouds rapidly moved south.

Louis had played the deaf-mute boy rather well and concealed his private struggle to maintain silence. And the boy had clearly regained his strength after falling ill on Easter Sabbath. It was Easter Tuesday, March 29, 1692, and the locals did not seem to care in the least. On foot, they traveled cautiously and unobtrusively in the open, though usually on the fridges of roadways and civilization which existed all around them. They scanned other people, and closely guarded their business.

“I will only interact when necessary,” she said.

And with borrowed wealth from last night’s cajoling, Louis and Oona left Boston’s future North End and headed to Hudson’s Point for the short ferry ride northwest, across the Charles River to Charlestown. It was on the ferry boat that Oona glimpsed her first crude map of the times.

“I had no idea there was so much water between here and Lynn,” Oona commented. Then, privately to Louis she whispered, “Over the last 300 years, the times have surely changed. And the geography of the Boston area has surely changed as well.” Oona feared all her careful planning had somehow fallen short.

Louis could see in Oona’s face that there was trouble.

We should have taken a ferry to Chelsea, not Charlestown. I am sorry Louis,” Oona said with honesty. “There is far less land north of Boston these days than there was – is – in our own time. And far fewer roads.”

With the help of the ferryman who owned and operated the small flat bottom craft, Oona was presented with two options. She could either wait for a ferry from Charlestown to Chelsea or she could return to Hudson’s Point and board the Chelsea Ferry there.

Once they moored in Charlestown, Oona inquired about the ferry to Chelsea, and to her delight, learned there was one which, fortunately, left the harbor at noontime. There would be a few hours wait, so Oona aimed to lighten their elevated anxiety.

“Is this not reminiscent of modern day travel?” she asked with a whisper.

Louis cracked a smile.

Before she could continue, the boy interrupted her.

“There’s not much here is there?” he innocently asked his nanny.

“Surely you jest, my boy.” She reached deep down to her soul to pull forth humor and warmth.

“Here we are in the oldest neighborhood of Boston. And Charlestown is a bustling seaport town in sight of Boston Harbor!” She pointed back toward Boston. “Look around you boy! We are at the confluence of the Mystic and Charles rivers! Come, Louis let us ‘kill’ some time.”

With a bit of a slow start from Louis, the pair then casually passed blacksmiths and workshops in the streets and lanes around the ferry station. The sky was bluer in Charlestown than it had been in Boston that morning. Each made touristy use of the living history which surrounded them during their unintended “layover.”

This miscalculation can doom our mission. Delay can kill.

“It is a long way to Lynn,” Oona said. And as best as she could, Oona carried the boy and his imagination through the picturesque setting and from time to time she offered him her wisdom with impunity, from one subject to the next.

“The spoken word is far more appealing than the written word, and no less important.” Oona was ready to move from that epigram to some other random subject of personal debate.

Louis was not very talkative. The lopsided conversation continued for a while longer, along with random strolls among the public until, finally, a larger Chelsea bound ferry, about twenty feet long, departed the harbor around midday and crawled through the difficult waters of the Charles before it reached the more pilotable “Mistick” River.

They were less than five miles downstream to Chelsea. The current was slow that day and, while precious hours were regrettably lost, good fortune got in their way once they disembarked. Tuesday’s sky had turned deep blue, with only a few fair weather clouds.

Just ashore in Chelsea, Oona caught the eye of a traveling schoolmaster. With great sympathy for the “dumb boy” named Louis, the tall, lean man offered Oona and the child a short ride, about half way to Lynn. The travelers found places among stacks of children’s primers called “Hornbooks.” Louis was fascinated by the paddle of sorts, on which was a parchment sheet protected by a layer of what Oona enunciated was “transparent horn.”

With complete kindness and innocence, the good man offered one Hornbook to the “idiot boy.” Louis graciously, though silently accepted the gift. Thoroughly numb to the unintended insults to his abilities, Louis was no longer offended. And at that moment, Louis’ eye was fixed on the value of that book once he returned home.

At the crossroads, the schoolmaster pointed the way to Lynn. “Beware of the Hostiles in these woods,” he said. “Those savages lurk behind every tree between this place and Lynn. I am sorry I can take you no further.”

“The infernal regions are snares of the demon’s malice,” Oona said. “My prayers of the humble are with me and the boy, and with thee.” She smiled at the man and wished there was more time. “Kindness and good fortune,” she said and turned away. Louis followed in her path.

The earth was brown under their feet, and Oona appreciated the buds which had recently sprung to life on the tree branches. There was some foot traffic, people on horseback and in carriages, and which traveled in both directions. Along the way, there were home fields and crop fields some already with green buds of vegetation. She and Louis stayed on course for well over an hour. Oona reckoned they would reach Lynn with some daylight to spare.

Then there appeared on a lonely stretch of road, two vagabonds between themselves and the Town of Lynn.

“Be on your way. We mean you no harm,” Oona said with purpose.

The two brigands walked toward them and quickened their pace. One man was bareheaded and wore a long leather coat. The other was tall with shoulder length hair.

“Come no closer!” Oona commanded. “You have no idea who I am.” Louis trembled near her side.

One man reached for Louis while the other one stepped right up to Oona.

“I warn thee,” Oona said with a shrill.

Both men laughed.

The one man had taken hold of Louis by this time. Oona drew great strength from her inner mind, and cast her Spell of Instant Death and stopped cold one man’s cruel heart. Myocardial infarction. He dropped dead at her feet by the same effect as Freeze Spell had on the small animals.

Once he noticed what had happened, the man who held Louis threw the boy to the side, and lunged at Oona. She swiftly plunged the knife Samuel had given her deep into the robber’s lower torso. Then, with a hard twist, Oona withdrew the weapon. She had severed her attacker’s aorta, and the man fell to the ground. He bled freely and, for the moment, still breathed.

Louis stood paralyzed with terror, shocked by the blood and death around him. He looked at the dead man’s body, frozen in open-mouth death. The boy slowly backed away from the gruesome scene but as he did he spied a gleaming knife secured at the dead man’s side. He looked away from the bad man and watched Oona drag the bleeding man to the side of the road.

Oona Neeci was quite upset with the blatant attack on herself and the boy. Never in her life had she been threatened so. Angrily, she pulled the full grown man off the road and out of site. She evenly stepped down the incline toward a small though fast moving stream. Oona was careful not to bloody her own clothes or body in the process.

“Louis,” she called.

There was no immediate response from the boy.

Oona was nearly sapped from her use of the powerful Spell of Instant Death. With the help of gravity Oona finally reached the edge of the waterway. “Louis,” she called again. Here she replenished her water skin as she looked down at the bloody, battered man with no pity – only stone-faced disdain. Oona took a long breath and a good swig of ice cold water. Then she purposely maneuvered the unconscious, dying man to take his final breaths face down in the stream. When Louis finally arrived at her side, Oona reached out to embrace the boy.

“Don’t touch me!” he shouted. Louis saw what he saw.

With piercing black eyes Oona calmly told Louis: “Your help is necessary, boy. We need to move the other man quickly, and then be on our way. There is no time for delay, Louis.”

Oona and the boy ascended the embankment and returned to the roadway. There they reached down to the dead man. Oona took one arm and motioned for Louis to do the same. They struggled together and did the best they could with the man’s body until Louis was finally, fully engaged. Together they kicked and pushed the body with alternating feet, and the two managed to move the man beside the other one whose head was face down in the stream. Here both men were dispatched, but not before Oona pulled several pouches of coins tucked in the men’s pockets, and unfastened the knife which Louis noticed earlier. Oona handed the knife over to the boy, along with some of the coins.

Oona was so depleted by her actions, she needed Louis’ assistance to return up to the main road. There they obscured what they could of the blood and other signs of the confrontation. They covered their tracks and footprints in the soil and on patches of snow as best as they could, and they took a collective breath to “refuel” once they were done. After a few moments the two travelers were once again on their way to Lynn. They would take a longer rest once they reached the town, Oona thought, “but not here and not now.”

Once Louis regained his usual deportment he asked Oona, “Why’d we have to move the bad guys?”

“We cannot bring such attention to ourselves. We must continue to move on to Lynn, quietly and unnoticed.”

“But they’re bad guys, Oona. Why didn’t we just leave them where you killed them, and just let the cops clean them up? And you’ll be a hero!”

“I am not so sure of that, boy. Once those two are discovered there will be questions. And let us pray we are in Salem by that time. We can risk no further delays.”

“So you murdered them?”

“You can say that, though I prefer you not say ‘murder’.”

“I’m only nine.”

“It was self-defense. And you are almost ten.” She struggled for the right words and there were few. “Harden yourself to this,” she said. “Killing is murder and we also robbed them of their valuables, which makes us robbers. These actions can get both of us killed.” Oona paused in her steps and faced the boy. “There was really nothing else I could do. And both men have killed before. I am sure of it and I have no doubt these two would have killed again.”

Though thoroughly exhausted, the pair silently and relentlessly proceeded in earnest on their way. The blue skies had by now given way to overcast, and they found themselves, once again, on an expanse of road less traveled. They reset their bearings occasionally and continued quietly through the lessening light of standard time.

“Even if we do succeed in our mission in Salem, there is still a long way back,” Oona said, and then just as quickly regretted those words and wished she had not said them.

“Don’t say that, Oona. I wanna see Mom and Charley and my friends again.”

“Oh, I know you do my darling. And please let me apologize. I did not mean what I said. Please, forgive me.”

Without a missed step, Oona and Louis proceeded down the “highway” to Lynn. The dry road soon turned into a cow path which twisted this way and that to stay clear of the swamplands and marshes that dotted the landscape. From time to time Louis noticed the smell of wood fires and visualized the bright lights of farmsteads in the distance.

True signs of civilization.

Oona was pleased that by dusk they had breached the first crossing of the Lynn River tributaries.

To the west, three dimensional clouds splattered the firmament from the dark blue heavens to the pale blue and down to the whitish sky at the horizon. Low stratus clouds were stacked flat and obscured the horizon while black, gray, and white clouds above mixed with the dust of the land to patch a luxuriant array of reddish-yellow colors on nature’s warm blanket.

After some serious consideration, Oona chose to walk the Lynn Beach for as far as possible, and before they made one final crossing of the great river at its mouth. First they needed to find Lynn Beach, but not until they came upon a spectacular orange and gold sunset.

“Why didn’t we just take a boat from Boston?” Louis suddenly asked.

“We would never have made it. To go by ship is too dangerous and too expensive. And we must reach Salem Village overland, before we travel on to Salem Town.”

The boy did not fully understand Oona’s rationale, but had little opportunity to question her. They eventually passed into deeper woods where they noticed hexes and other signs of Indian activity. This was a bone chilling experience for the young boy. A short time later he heard noises from out in the distance – man-made noises no doubt. “Is it civilization?” he nervously asked.

“Quiet boy,” Oona commanded. “These sounds are from the Northwest. You heard them boy?”

He nodded.

Oona’s seriousness further scared Louis to his bones. “These may be noises of witches – settlers or Indians – or even a devilish mixture of fiends in the night.”

“You’re not funny! You’re scaring me!” He began to whimper.

“Silence! I am serious, boy. Harden yourself to what lies ahead,” she said most seriously. “You assumed this mission quite willingly, and quite foolishly I might add. Now, together we must exercise great strength of purpose and even greater caution. And fear not my boy!” she encouraged. “No less terrifying than a coven of savages are the sounds of great bears…or wolves of the forest.” And she looked at Louis as best as she could in the dimness of night and smiled wearily. There were guttural sounds – invocations – which were not in English. With extreme caution Oona urged the boy on in an easterly direction.

“This is creepy,” Louis whispered. “Where’d the road go?”

In the dark light of the Moon, less than half full, they proceeded warily along the edge of a path. Once the monotony of darkness fully set in, their movement was as if blindfolded in a black box. Out in the void Oona saw glimmers of light that poked through the night sky and tree tops. She suddenly stopped and cautioned Louis to do the same. And through the blackness of their surroundings they clearly saw a small party garbed in black, with hooded gowns like Spanish Inquisitors. Their long garments unduly restricted their movement, but their chants and words went on unabated. They droned on and on and grew steadily louder in their incantations.

They moved on with the greatest of care not to disturb the dark cabal under the night sky which had managed to shake off the clouds. The winter runoff from higher ground swept away what little pathway there was left for them. And with still no sign of Lynn Beach, they saw mostly the black outlines of rotted trees which stood upright in even blacker pools of swamp water.

“What are we gonna do, Oona. I’m scared.”

“Go east, young man, to the beach!” And they walked east and then east by northeast. They stopped to reflect now and then, but had so little time.

Louis didn’t notice Oona’s face. Then he quietly shrieked, “What’s that?”

“Nothing to be concerned with, boy.”

“What are they?” he demanded. It was an awful cry.

“Those are only the sounds of the ravens.” Oona could tell that the casualness of her remark was not well received by Louis. So she pushed him then, a little further. “As I said, boy, toughen up! Ravens are glorious creatures of the night and, I might add, are the same color as my long, sometimes unruly, hair.”

The night sky remained clear and their spirits eventually rose. Their day’s long journey was near its end when they finally beheld what could only have been the evening lights of the Town of Lynn, squarely in the northerly direction in which they had so laboriously headed.

Civilization?

The pair could go no further. They pitched themselves on a narrow path in the patchwork of terrain they traversed. Lack of movement immediately made them cold, and they huddled for as much warmth as possible without a fire. Eventually they sheltered on the leeward side of a fallen tree, reasonably dry, roots and all, and in sight of Lynn.

Relief!

“Get ready my boy, for the last leg of our journey approaches. Of this I promise you: We will complete the mission and we will return home!”

He nodded in her arms. “Goodnight Oona.”

“Good night,” she said.

The land awoke before the two travelers arose from their sleep, about one hour past the unseen sunrise. The air was windy and heavy with water, and dewdrops covered the earth. The morning was gray; gray again. Still the dawn brought the promise of a new day and, Erzulie willing, a day which would take them to Salem Village. They ate several leaves of herb and dried carrots from the farmer, and with much needed relief they took care of their personal business and were quickly on their way.

Once they crossed the Lynn River, again by lazy ferry, the pair noticed how swamps had been drained for agriculture and how much land had been cleared of forest to expose rich farmlands. A patchwork of small farms blanketed the rural community. The last leg of their journey was truly upon them.

Whether it was the bug on the ground or the fish in the stream, or the butterflies in the air, everything was alive for Louis, with deep color and purpose. Even the puddles of mud were rich and deep, and clean. There were wild flowers all over and blue ones were plainly seen among the scattered debris of mud and melting snow.

Oona felt the moisture heavy on her face. Thankfully there was no rain. The Town of Lynn beckoned and they did indeed need supplies for the final sprint to Salem. The pair avoided scrutiny. They replenished their stores meagerly, filled the water skin, and passed inconspicuously through the streets of Lynn.

“It is like being in a museum,” Louis discreetly mused.

“A museum cannot kill you,” Oona replied with a small smile.

While they traveled with great caution and discreet secrecy, their modus operandi had evolved. They tried to stay close to well-trodden paths, and to be more wary of creepy trails and rough forests.

“We go yonder to Salem, kind sir,” Oona said more than once. There were a few kind souls who they encountered and who assisted them in their travels.

They skirted the blustery and expansive marshes of Salem and Marblehead, and mostly avoided the picturesque views of coastal New England which Oona had strongly desired to see. Within the typical solitude of their walk, Oona thought of the Evil’s One’s last days on earth, forever! Have I done all the right things? “Do we have the right week?” she said aloud to rouse Louis. “I suppose we will soon find out.” Frazzled but not despondent, Oona more cheerily remarked, “I checked the calendar date’s three month change. Remember?” And when exactly was she hanged?

“I told you: Opa said it was Thursday,” Louis said, as if he had heard Oona speak those words.

“Yes, but did your Opa confirm the date? The thirty-first of March?”

“I don’t remember Oona. Can we just keep walking?”

Well on their way to Salem Village, it was much the same along the expanses that resembled thoroughfares. They noticed many of the same familiar plants and foliage that grew in their own time, and the two travelers walked along forest paths thick with the needles of the great white pines of New England. They passed at a brisk pace over the reddish-brown pine needles, wet and dulled by the bleakness of the spring weather. Even so, the cushiony ground cover of pine was far richer in color than those so familiar in their own time and place.

The gray and the cold gradually gave way to blue sky and warmth. With the help of a drying breeze, their pine trails turned sparkling golden yellow.

If he hadn’t stayed so hungry – they had just dined on dry meat and fruit – Louis otherwise enjoyed the emerging spring day which surrounded them. They followed the stones and signposts to Salem Village. There were naked stumps of trees, bark fallen from their sides haphazardly, their battle lost to the steady pools of dark bluish-black water which consumed them.

Eventually the mud crept onto the paths and deepened. They passed unspoiled brooks and, at times, wider streams, crisp and clean and over which there were sometimes rope bridges and other means by which Indians and settlers could traverse the waterways, both small and large. When there were not, it was necessary for Louis and Oona to make crude bridges of their own, often fallen trees, in order to cross. Louis’ feet dampened. They started to ache and to bleed, “a big part of the endless roller-coaster of trials and tribulations,” as Oona would tell him on the way to complete their mission. Whatever that meant.

’We shall end this day in Salem Village, my boy.” Oona looked at Louis who was silent and kept up his pace beside her.

Finally the trekkers saw a stone turret placed with care to warn away the Indians. There were settlers’ graveyards nearby with fair numbers of prominent stones that mingled uneasily with Indian burial grounds scattered around the dark open landscape. They passed through as respectfully as they could; they dared not desecrate spirits’ memories upon any Indian burial place, lest they incur the intense wrath of the natives or worse, of the awakened spirits themselves.

Bitter cold shot into Louis’ soggy feet once the sun went down in the pinkish sky. He walked with Oona all day and for what seemed like an eternity, and they finally reached the fringes of Salem: called Salem Farms then and in their own time would become the Town of Peabody. An hour later they saw a light in the darkening distant sky over the Village of Salem.

Oona was certain they would make it if only they continued with purpose. And with their unintended experiences so far, Oona knew the sooner they reached Salem, the better their chances were of success. Dusk was upon them already and it was critical that the pair call on someone whom they could trust before it was too deep into the night.

“Louis, what are the names of those people we can trust?” Oona suddenly asked.

The boy stopped and conducted a totally useless search of his garments. “I think it was –”

“Louis?”

“Uh, I think I burned them with my pants.” He looked lost for words. “I think it was a ‘P’ name…and someone else too.”

Oona swallowed. Neither walked nor moved. There was a tired panic and she sheepishly asked, “John Proctor?”

“Yup, that’s him. I’m sure it is.”

“And who is the other person,” she asked with a deepening breath.

“Mary?”

“Okay then. Child: we must keep moving.” And they did.

“Do not beat yourself up over this, Louis. It is my fault for not asking you sooner.”


Without words they trudged north, up an unnamed road. The open farmers’ fields were much preferred to the branches and bracken of the woods. Here there were short walls of loose stones and ordinary split rail fences. Sometimes hedges or stacked hay stood in their way. Oona was careful to stay due north. They would eventually reach cow fields which belonged to John and Elizabeth Proctor and the homestead where, thanks to Louis’ spiritual friends and family, Oona hoped the pair could rest and refurbish, quite close to their final destination.

The man Oona would trust was John Proctor, farmer and yeoman of Salem Village. Everywhere white settlers encroached and the proud farmers of Salem Farms penetrated the area’s forests in all directions. They leveled the ground and opened their plowed fields to the Great Creator’s sun-kissed sky. They lived beside Salem’s streams.

Oona and Louis eventually came upon a short ride of trees at the end of which stood the form of a half-timbered house with diamond-paned windows which glowed dully against the last light of day. The two felt like walking dead as they approached the front door of the picture book house.

This must be the place.

A young woman who looked deranged but docile answered the door. Behind Oona Louis stood shaken by the sight of the indentured servant to the Proctors. Oona knew it was Mary Warren, refugee from the frontier wars and afflicted only weeks ago by the witch frenzy. Among the first afflicted. Now her seeming docility gave way to obvious suspicion.

Just behind Mary, Goody Proctor, John’s wife of nearly 20 years, and his third, greeted Oona and Louis. She stood about Oona’s height and wore a simple white bonnet on her head. But it was John himself, behind his wife, who welcomed them in. Their looks lingered and without further delay the comely woman, who preferred her Christian name Elizabeth, invited the strangers through the arched door of oak and into their home. Oona spoke volumes with her eyes. The maidservant took her leave. John, joined by his wife motioned for the visitors to take places near the fireplace in the Great Room. Onto perfectly worn wide pine floors the travelers set their numb and bitter cold feet. Soggy and wet they glimpsed an array of museum-like furnishings around them. The four sat in chairs around the open hearth.

They talked like unacquainted family (save for the deaf-mute Louis), and truth be told, they were. After family introductions, crafted by Oona when necessary for their time, there were no shortage of words from John to his guests. His children roamed freely at the hour inside and even outside the house.

John’s wife ‘Betty,’ Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor, was the granddaughter of ‘An’ (Holland) Burt and also a sister -in-law to Mary (Goodberry) Dalyber. Her half dozen children with John were similarly related by blood and marriage. An or Goody Burt, was the Great Lynn Healer, blood ancestor of young Louis, who was tried and acquitted of charges of witchcraft thirty years before 1692.

Once Elizabeth departed for the kitchen to help prepare a meat and soup dinner, John rose and bid his guests to follow him. John always thought himself a good judge of character and he surprisingly had no doubt of Oona’s essential decency, no matter how mysterious her purpose might be. In private with John, Oona and Louis were made to feel quite at ease in what could otherwise have been a most surreal setting. A bearded man of good build and white hair, John was about 60 years old. Once they were alone with him, they conferred. There were few words which they could not speak.

John had hunted for game that day. Oona was fatigued and at the same time anxious to get to the point of her visit. She appeared worn and tired, and still determined to stifle the witch. So little time.

“There is a rising mood of witch hysteria,” John calmly stated. “The accusations and those accused are spread across the entire Essex County. The gaols will fill with them,” he added fatefully. “Everywhere there is poison in the air. There is similarly the ferocity and fanaticism of the Indian-haters and the free people who fight over land: settlers against Indians and against themselves.”

“Kind Sir: I am here to destroy the Evil One named Lucia.” With her steely black eyes, Oona demanded, “Have you heard of her?”

“Aye.” John leaned in closer to Oona’s ear. “She will hang in the morning.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

Oona silently and elatedly squeezed Louis’ hand. They had made it. Oona smiled a smile of great relief, so much so that John looked surprised by her evident joy over a matter of such grave consequence.

“Lucia escaped from hell and to the fires of hell she shall go,” she said with all seriousness. Her eyes met John’s. Oona believed he understood.

John then spoke freely of the scheduled hanging and was careful to frame Lucia as a murderess, and not as Lucia the witch. And John’s words continued to flow from his mouth:

“Only a few weeks back afflicted girls speaking gibberish fell ill with convulsions and contortions. And so it was at the Village Parsonage where Samuel Parris and his daughter and niece live, together with their thoughtless slave girl. Aye, where the accusations and the suffering began. He shook his head slowly, from side to side. “May God give me the fortitude to resist those cries of witch hysteria which will otherwise destroy Salem.”

Oona knew the Village Parsonage; the original stone foundation still survived on Centre Street, Salem where, she recalled quite clearly, the suffering began in the winter of 1692. Tituba was the slave girl to whom John referred; legend said she was Lucia’s first student. Lucia the slave girl escaped to the Indians; Tituba stayed behind. The execution of Lucia, though for crimes of murder, foreshadowed the notorious events of the Salem Witch Proceedings which John Proctor treated with utter contempt. Oona waited for him to go on.

“Accusations and treachery and unneeded suffering has come down upon us,” he said. “Tis the cruel lash of aggiornamento.” John Proctor spoke in a finely tuned Early Modern English. He was a farmer and sometimes a tavern keeper, a good and trusted man, outspoken at times. “She must die for her crimes,” John said. “After she poisoned and castrated her master, she bludgeoned her mistress to death, and mutilated their four small children and unborn baby. When Lucia was captured, it took six grown men to subdue her with a witch bridle and chains.”

Oona saw in his eyes that John Proctor knew of Lucia’s antics in the forest, where she practiced the craft. “They frog marched the murderess to the village Watch House where she stayed before she was taken to the gaol in Salem Town.”

“A witch bridle?” Oona asked.

“Aye. Used to prohibit the murderess from ‘casting spells’ I suppose; her black magic gibberish. Following her apprehension, Lucia was put on trial in the assizes which are run by the religious establishment.” John showed his displeasure in his eyes. “She was condemned not as a witch but as an escaped slave and murderess, as if even the ‘Godly’ establishment are frozen in fear of her supposed witchery.”

Oona nodded continually and supposed that Lucia’s role with the witches, known and believed at the time, were buried deep in the back pages of history. “So evil,” she thought, “they would not speak of her.” Still Lucia’s presence was felt at the Trials.

“Does she wear it still? The bridle?” asked Oona.

“I think not though the bridle commonly hangs in the gaol. The murderess is chained at the neck. I know that to be true. May she not choke on her blood or vomit until justice sees her hang. Aye, she should breathe for one more night.”

Oona nodded. “Please continue Kind Sir. My mission here is to ensure her destruction.”

“In the gaol there is an iron ring in the wall to which the militant is chained. As no one wants to deal with her, the worst of the worst were charged with her care. The Watch, the communal guard for the Town, imposes itself on the people.” John breathed a long sigh. “And its men are not supervised by Constables. The Night Watchmen, an even more sorry lot, are in charge of the gaol where Lucia is kept…till the morrow.”

Oona recalled the Night Watchmen were an imperfect lot. Many volunteered to avoid military service; a few were conscripted by the Town of Salem, with some of those men to serve out their own punishments. They fulfilled, or tried to fulfill various law enforcement and other functions and watched over the Town, the Village and the wilderness. She noticed Louis was thoroughly immersed in the rather blunt history lesson. Oona was saddened over John Proctor who, in less than one month, would himself be imprisoned. But for the moment, the good man continued to tell an incredible tale of what he knew of the Evil One and of their times. Oona listened carefully to John’s every word.

“John,” she finally said. “Before dawn the boy and I must go thitherward to Salem Town and upon the gaol in which the Evil One is restrained.” said Oona.

“Wouldst thou be serious?” asked John. “And assuredly risky passage before dawn,” he offered.

Oona was silent.

“Aye,” John continued. “Couldst be dangerous in the dark.” John regarded Oona with Louis at her side. “Rest here with us, and leave when you must. Go straight then to the Town. Follow the road with Fox Hill to your right, then on past Gallows Ledge, also on your right side. Salem Town lay just beyond the Ledge, about three miles. The Village Meeting House should be avoided. There are Inquests there at the Meeting House, nearby the Watch House, and both nearby the Parsonage of Samuel Parris. God’s guiding hand points north to these places, past Felton’s Hill, two miles. You dear lady, must go east, three miles.”

The trio was jolted by Elizabeth, and a short time later the group moved on to the dining room for dinner. At the table they talked for hours it seemed, mostly the adults, and mostly of familial affairs and pleasantries. There was ample supply of “Adam’s Ale” and cider. Finally John rose from the dinner table, followed by Elizabeth, their children, then Oona and Louis.

Oona knew that John Proctor, who spoke so freely to her now, would be arrested and, though obviously innocent, found himself among those accused of witchcraft. He was imprisoned in Boston and would lose all his property before he was hanged at Gallows Ledge – Gallows Hill as she knew it – on the cusp of Salem Village, the coming August, 1692. It was a ridge actually which lay west of Salem Town and harbor. Oona precisely recalled the long procession of the condemned who followed Lucia to the grave: nineteen hanged, one crushed by stones, and five who died in jail. How by the time the period had passed, 150 had been accused. Goody Proctor, John’s beloved wife was also so shamefully condemned though her sentence was reprieved.

Always deeply saddened by the Hysteria which swarmed around the Town of Salem and Salem Village (so known until 1752, and later to become Danvers), Oona recalled a memorial which stands in her own time across from the Salem Village Meeting House. She visualized the burial ground she knew so well, in the area that contains the graves of some of those accused of using magic.

Oona wanted to reach the old gaol before midnight and execute her plan then and there to destroy the witch. Basic witchcraft instructed her that in order for a witch to present her most powerful self, midnight was best but not required. Whether at or after midnight, Oona’s opportunity to condemn Lucia to eternal hell fire would come in only a short time.

Oona’s conversation practically confirmed the presence of a witch bridle. They needed to get to the gaol to assemble her assortment of what she had collected along the way. Oona was anxious to concoct her potion, with new confidence her plan could really work.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.