Author's Note: I'm not sure how accurate this is. I wanted to capture the thoughts of a young woman who was a victim of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Events are actual events that happened. The two main character are not historical figures.

Bold: Arabella's dream

Chapter Four

The hangman and the hanging tree are waiting for me. Ropes cover my body and a black cover is about to place over my head. The end of my life is near. The end of my time on this earth is near. Soon, I will be united with my Maker.

The people have gathered to witness my end. They wish to see the witch dead. I am no witch. I am a hard working woman and a loving wife. I have never been involved with the black arts. I have never harmed those girls.

I have not done anything that the claimed that I did.

I cannot believe that it had come to this. Are they learned men really going to believe a bunch of young attention seeking girls? It appears so.

They are approaching me carrying the black cover. It looks rough and uninviting. I wish to look the hangman in the eye as he lets me swing from the ladder. I wish to look as the wonderful sky as I die.

I can hear the whispers of the crowd. They asking what I have done. I want to ask them what have you done. How could these people have turned into my worst enemy and carry hate that I do not carry? How could they? I did not understand.

There is a curse on this little town. There is no one to show any mercy on us now. Those who have been named face the ultimate punishment. Those who confessed suffered less than those who did not.

I refuse to confess to crimes that I did not commit.

The black cover is placed over my head and with one rough move, I am thrown over someone's shoulder. The person walks very quickly toward the hanging tree.

I can hear the girls as they pitch one of their false fits. They are screaming and crying claiming that they see the Devil in my soul. They claim that I am biting them. All of this gets the crowd stirred up. They all want me dead.

It pains me. These people are my neighbours and my friends. They know that I would never harm anyone. Yet, they want me dead.

The hangman climbs up the ladder and places a rope around my neck. It digs into me, but I know it will get tighter.

"Hang the witch!" someone screams. Others join in.

"What have you done?" another shirks.

"You cursed me!"

The girls are claiming that the Devil is on my shoulder.

My heart is racing. I bit my lip to keep the tears from falling. Though they cannot see me, I will not give them the joy of my tears. I will not.

I can feel the hangman's hands on my back. I know what is about to happen. I feel the push and feel my feet slip from underneath the ladder. The rope is getting tighter and tighter around my neck. It is getting harder and harder to breath.

My air is being cut off.

Overall, a flock of birds call out their beautiful song. It is just noticeable over the cries of the villagers. I can hear cries of both joy and horror.

The rope is closing in. Soon, it will all be over.

God, have mercy on my soul.

Have mercy on this people.

I am fading and fading fast. To the town of Salem, what have you done?

Darkness swam around me. I was not sure when I would wake up or if I even wanted to. I did one of those poor victims who were left to swing from a tree while the townspeople jeered at them. I did not want to become another lost soul because of this madness.

I would not let that become my fate. I will be stronger than that.

Lying here surrounded in darkness was not going to get anywhere. Lying here buried deep in my own personal misery was not going to get me anywhere either. I needed to wake up and be a strong person. I could get myself out of this mess. The odds were almost against, but there was still a chance. There was still hope.

A little bit of hope was all I needed. That little sparkle could carry me a great distance.

I will not run away. I stand my ground and get myself out of this.

I will not rely on love or any man. It was love and men that put me in this situation. To make matters would, it was the love of my life who accused me of witchcraft. James was supposed to protect from all of this madness and he failed his job. I was happy that I had learned this about him before I actually married him. I was happy that he had betrayed my heart now. This allowed me to see him as the man he was. I will not be the love sick girl who marries him. I just feel sorry for the poor soul who will marry him down the road.

I managed to pull myself back into the real world. I needed to get it together for my questioning. I was not sure when that would happen, but I knew it would be soon. I wanted to be at my best for it.

I heard heavy footsteps outside my door and I gulped. Well, here goes nothing.


A Break With Charity by Ann Rinaldi