Run Along

"Run along, girl," Tituba said to me.

Run along. That's all I ever did. Run along. When the Parrisses came home – I'd run along. When Ann Putnam or one of the other girls came by – I'd run along. When church services ended, when children came outside to play, when men went into the woods to hunt or cut firewood – I'd run along. When my friend in Boston was hanged – accused of witchcraft – I ran along. I ran all the way to Salem Village.

I was an orphan and had long been living with Goody Glover, the woman who was accused of causing the Goodwin children to fall into a strange illness. "The Witch Glover" they called her. She was the only one who knew about me, and she took care of me as if I were her own daughter. Until she was hanged, that is.

So I ran along for the second time (the first was from the Boston orphanage to Goody Glover's house), and found myself in tiny Salem Village. I arrived just in time to see the first Sunday church service, with Reverend Deodat Lawson, and then I watched as the villagers stood outside and talked, waiting for the next service. Some of them went to Ingersoll's ordinary, but it was such a lovely day that most stayed outside.

"I heard Goody Cory and Goody Putnam arguing," confided one little girl to another. "And Goody Cory called Goody Putnam 'Satan's toad'!"

The girls giggled together at this, but I shuddered. Witchcraft was common knowledge, and spoken of often. Usually, as in Goody Cory's case, accusations weren't taken seriously and weren't really meant seriously. However, the remark was a painful reminder of Goody Glover.

I kept silent watch over the village for four years, scavenging food, and stealing it when I could do nothing else. I trusted to confide in no one. I watched as the growing population of hormonal adolescent girls grew tense and restless in their strict Puritan environment. They, as I, wanted badly to begin their own family lives. The unrest worsened throughout the entire village while waiting for King William to send a governor to Salem.

At the end of four years, Reverend Parris, from Boston, agreed to take over the church of Salem Village. His servant, Tituba, caught me sneaking around, and promptly took hold of my ear.

"Who you?" she asked, but I could only stare at her, my heart falling to the pit of my stomach.

I confided in her, knowing I had no other choice, and she began to watch out for me and sneak me food. I watched her tell stories to Reverend Parris's daughter, Betty, and his niece, Abigail. She showed them a small bit of magic once and there was no turning back; Abigail kept begging her to show more. Gradually, another girl was let in on the fun. Then another, and another . . .

They all wanted to know about their love lives, their men – except for little Ann Putnam, who was all seriousness, and Betty, who felt in the depths of her heart that something was wrong with the divination that was occurring. Only her love for Tituba and fear of Abigail kept her from telling anyone about it.

She started staring off sometimes, pale and unmoving. Her gaze would shift to the window and she would catch me looking in. The first few times, she squeezed her eyes shut tight and opened them again to see nothing out of the usual, and she put it to the back of her mind. Then, though, she began to feel weaker and guiltier as the days went on, and her stare shifted endlessly.

One day, when no one was home but the two girls and Tituba, Betty fell into a strange fit, with that wide, unseeing, unmoving stare. Tituba could do nothing for her, and I could see in her eyes that she was about to cry.

"Run along, girl," she said. "Come back midnight."

I gave her a nod and turned to leave, but when she turned away I snuck back.

Betty was constantly sick, and nothing could be done for her. She even had an outburst during one of her father's sermons. I could see in her a genuine sickness. Abigail, on seeing the attention and leniency her younger cousin was shown, began to unleash her viciousness. I believe it was not entirely of her own mischief, but, thinking back to when we both lived in Boston, I believe it was mostly her need for attention, love, and freedom. Her eyes were oftentimes cold and hard.

The Parrisses did their best to keep the children's fits a secret, but Abigail's barking like a dog and Betty's outbursts in church could not long be overlooked. Soon, the other girls that had often met with Tituba began having similar fits. Fits just like John Goodwin's normally well-behaved children had – right before they hanged Goody Glover. When I watched one of them have an outburst, I found myself on the ground hugging my knees, squeezing shut my eyes, and miserably trying to close my ears as well. I could see the next events coming, but I had no idea how far those "bitch witches" (as George Jacobs called them) would take their accusations.

Each time one of the eighteen taken to trial were questioned or tortured into confessing I had to keep myself from screaming. They would have taken me, too; I was no one to them. After a while, no one was "someone" to them.

Giles Cory was one of those questioned. When he refused to plead innocent or guilty, they tried to get him to confess by pressing him (piling large stones on his back). He still refused to plead, and they ended up pressing him to death.

All eighteen were eventually hanged, though Goody Procter (John Procter's wife) got her execution postponed because she was with child. I refused to watch the hangings, but even in my wooded hideout I heard an echo of the cracking rope that killed Goody Glover, Tituba, and seventeen others.

The snap of a twig, the crack of a whip, the grating noise of stones being walked upon. None would ever be the same to me again.

Bibliography:

Hoffer, The Devil's Disciples, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland – 1996.

Starkey, The Devil in Massachusetts, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., NY, NY – 1949.

Starkey, The Visionary Girls, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, MA – 1973.