This is my magic, my ability to see spirits, or to feel them. But is it evil? Is it harmful to anyone? I think not. None of us were of the devil, and Reverend Parris’s slave knew it. Yes, Tituba knew it. The children knew it too. I begged Father to take me to New York to escape the madness of murders around us, but we could not leave the farm, and Father did not believe that any harm would ever come to me. My brothers swore they would protect me, but I knew better. I knew I would be named a witch and taken to the tree. I could not sleep at night or enjoy the sun as it burst upon me in the mornings.
Soon enough, they served me my warrant as I lay in the field praying that God would see fit to help me. Ann Putnam had accused me. She hardly knew me, but she had seen me in Andover buying wheat and grain for the farm. My brother James tried to shield my face from hers when she fell on the ground before me and writhed at my feet. She pointed and held her side in pain.
“She torments me!” she screamed.
I fell into my brother’s arms and wept.
“Look into her eyes,” she called to all who listened. “They are of the devil, green as evil’s slime.”
I turned from her accusations, but she would not desist.
“Begone, witch,” she called.
And the townspeople came and stood around me. They looked into my eyes and said, “Yes, it must be so.”
“She accuses everyone that comes to mind,” I pleaded.
“She is weak and stupid,” I heard my brother say.
I took his hand. I knew that I could not prevent my fate, surrounded as I was by fools.
I hated the insidious evil that had inflicted the village. God, cure them, I prayed. They have surely gone mad.
I knew the truth and tried to speak it, yet none would hear it. There was only one other that knew as much as I did: the Reverend’s slave girl, Tituba. Yes, Tituba knew. She recognized the darkness and made a pact with the devil, and the devil saved her from the tree. I made no pact with the devil; I swayed by my neck in the August sun.
You might as well know the truth. It was the slave girl that told the children stories of witchcraft. That is true. The stories came with her from the slave ships. They were a part of her heritage. But it was Thomas Putnam that used the Arawat to incite the children.
“Give them your magic,” he told her. “I will see you safely removed from Salem when the time is right.”
And why should she not survive in a land that sold her kind like meat at the village square?
“What will you have me do?”
He bent down close and held her face firmly in his hand. “Fill their heads with the nonsense that is in yours.”
So Tituba planted the seed in the minds of the children because Thomas Putnam bade her to do so. The ignorance and cruelty that surrounded her was fuel for the devil’s fire. Do not blame the slave girl. She believed she would save her own soul by recognizing evil when she stood in the presence of it.
I will tell you where the evil thrived in Salem. It was in the child, Abigail Williams, and in the deviousness of the town leaders. They should have destroyed the girl right off and recognized the vindictive plan behind Thomas Putnam’s perfidious handshake.
What wickedness there was. Surely, both were the devil’s prey. Tituba knew this. She also knew that none would accept that evil could dwell in a child’s soul. Yes, Tituba knew better, and she saw the devil’s presence in the child the day she followed the girl out to Crane River.
It was an afternoon in late spring. I learned of it as I sat in jail awaiting my trial.
Tituba had watched as Abigail Williams held a child’s puppy, a sweet thing named Lark, under water, despite the poor dog’s struggle for freedom. Tituba had fallen to her knees in fear as Abigail held poor Lark down by his neck and sang a church song as she did. The puppy yelped and whined for air, but Abigail continued to sing and to giggle and to hold the poor dog down until it was silent.
Tituba watched quietly as the child dragged the dog’s poor limp body from the water and poked it with a stick. The sweet brown hair was matted and wet, the eyes still open in fear. Then Abigail sat by the dead puppy and sang. Certainly, the child was the devil’s own, and Tituba knew it. Anyone who was not of the devil would have known it.
Later that evening, Tituba went out to Porter’s Hill with fresh chicken blood and called forth the witches of light. She asked for protection against the white man’s evil. She called forth the witches, but it was the devil who answered her call.
The next morning, when Tituba awoke, she began to tell Abigail tales of witchcraft.
“Drink this potion,” she told the child. “And the devil will come to you. You will have the power of Satan’s sword.”
Quickly, Abigail drank the chicken blood.
Soon, under Thomas Putnam’s instruction, Abigail, believing herself infused with the power of Satan, convinced the other children to follow her lead, and they pointed their fingers at Putnam’s enemies.
“There is the presence of the devil in this town,” Thomas Putnam told the courts. “We must cleanse our streets.”
“Nay, we must cleanse our souls,” they cried.
The entire town fell under Thomas Putnam’s control. Under the name of God, Putnam served the devil. Abigail was only possessed with her own meanness. She was a perfect vessel for the devil’s insidiousness. The other children were only pawns in Urbain’s game to upset the pious and sacred God-fearing village of Salem. Yes, Urbain Grandier, the devil’s own disciple, was having his day once again. Urbain had a perfect conduit for his plan. But Abigail Williams had no real power. She was no better a witch than Tituba. You must remember that once the devil’s servant was through with Abigail and Putnam’s insatiable hatred, he cast them all aside and left Salem.
I thought that the devil came to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 because there was too much of God to be found there. I thought he came because Tituba called him and the child Abigail could receive him. But he did not come because of God or Tituba…or even the demented Abigail. He came because of me. For many of your centuries, I did not know that. But I know it now. The devil rejoiced in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. But the devil always rejoices. Your world is shrill with the devil’s laughter. He continues to make fools of us. Perhaps he always shall.