April 1 (March 22, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Early in the morning Ann Carr Putnam, the wife of Thomas Putnam and mother of the afflicted girl Ann Putnam, sees the specter of Rebecca Nurse, wearing her nightshift, bringing a little red book for her to sign to dedicate herself to Satan’s service, much as she had seen Martha Corey’s apparition do on March 18 when she first began to suffer afflictions. Nurse’s specter threatens to tear her soul out of her body if she will not sign, and she argues with it for two hours, citing various biblical verses to make it go away, after which she is tormented for most of the day.

Meanwhile, a group of concerned residents of Salem Village goes to Goodwife Nurse’s house to inform her that she has been accused of witchcraft. When they arrive she is ill but in fairly good spirits, and she brings up the topic of the afflictions being suffered by the girls (and some grown women) in the village. She has not been to see them, but she is very sympathetic to their suffering, which sounds awful and reminds her of some fits she has had in the past. She also says that she suspects that some of the women accused of witchcraft are as innocent of it as she is.

The visitors then tell her that she has, in fact, been accused herself. She reacts with stunned silence, then says “If it be so, the will of the Lord be done.” She states firmly that she is innocent, and wonders aloud what sin she has committed to make God punish her like this in her old age. The visitors then depart, struck by how, unlike Martha Corey when Ezekiel Cheever and Edward Putnam visited her for a similar purpose on March 12, Nurse seemed to have no idea in advance what they had come for.

Published in: on April 1, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on April 1 (March 22, o.s.)  
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