The Salem Journal: The People

Witches' Remise

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Slave Accused of Witchcraft

By Madeleine W-S

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Last night, Reverend Parris's slave was accused of witchcraft by his daughter and her cousin. The slave, by name of Tituba, had told the girls lots and lots of stories about magic, fortune-telling and spirits. Reverend Parris's daughter, Elizabeth (Betty) Parris, and her cousin, Abigail Williams, were at first intrigued with the stories, but later fell into mysterious fits of hysterics. They would fall into random trances and stare at the wall, scream, yell and sob whenever somebody touched them, or even throw the Bible. Elizabeth Parris was the first to be exposed to what everyone says was the Devil's hand. As soon as Abigail Williams became bewitched as well, Reverend Parris began questioning the girls. After days and days of questioning, finally, in annoyance, Betty Parris accused Tituba. Tituba was carried off to prison.

In the wee hours of the morning, the judge, Samuel Sewall, asked Tituba if she practiced witchcraft. She denied the charge and was beaten until confession. When she confessed, she said that a few years ago, the Devil came to her and asked her to sign a book (which she concluded to be the Devil's Book). She said "I felt like if I didn"t sign his book, he would kill me. So I signed the book." When Samuel Sewall asked if she saw any other names, she replied, "Yes, I saw nine other names. We all went around flying on brooms at night together. I only remember two of them, though. Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne." Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne were also carried off to prison.

Sarah Good was confronted first. She had a trial, unlike Tituba, who did not. Good denied being a witch. She was pressed further. It turns out that Sarah Good had a horrible life before coming to Salem, Massachusetts. Her father committed suicide when Good was in her teens and a little while after she married, her first husband passed away. She remarried, to William Good, but they have a sour relationship. They are both homeless and have to beg for food, and in Good's trial, even her husband (William Good) spoke against her. They have a daughter (age five) who was also accused of Witchcraft. After showing the court a red mark on her finger, Good's daughter, Dorothy (Docras) Good, said it was a snake bite that her mother had given her. Docras Good joined her mother in prison soon after, though it appears that that is what she wanted. The majority of the judges said that the snake bite is the piece of information that is the key to Sarah Good's hanging. But some of the other judges want more evidence because in Good's trial, the name Sarah Osborne came up in the court discussion. Good said "Oh, yes. Sarah Osborne is more of a witch than I am."

Sarah Osborne has not been attending Church. When her husband died several years earlier, she allowed a manservant to live with her. A few years later, they married. Several people thought this choice was scandalous, and Sarah Osborne said "I am not going to Church because of all the gossip." Sarah Osborne is likely to be accused of witchcraft because she is a quite elderly lady and looks somewhat like a witch.

Sarah Good will be hung on July 19 unless she confesses to being a witch.

Sarah Osborne has not yet had a date of execution set; she will need to be pressed further.

Tituba's profile is more complicated than those of Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. Tituba's life before coming to Salem is mainly unknown, except that she was born in Barbados, in the Caribbean, and brought to Guiana to be sold. Reverend Parris bought her and her husband (John Indian), and they were shipped to Boston, Massachusetts. When she came to Salem, she adapted to her new environment well. She took care of Reverend Parris's daughter and her cousin (who lived with them), along with doing many other chores. Some say that when the two girls began having mysterious fits, Tituba really wanted them to get well. Some also say that a neighbor, Mary Sibley, told Tituba and her husband, John Indian, that if they made a cake of rye flour and the two girls's urine, and fed it to a dog, the dog would lead them to the culprit, the person who bewitched the girls. Tituba and John Indian thanked Mary Sibley greatly and went to make the cake. The cake turned out horribly wrong. When they fed it to the dog, it just got dreadfully sick. Reverend Parris found out about the cake, and he was furious. Making the cake was taken as a clue that Tituba was a witch. Not everybody believed this was a true sign, and they thought that perhaps when Tituba confessed, she just did it because she was worried that the judges would accuse her husband, John Indian, next.

Tituba is still in prison, and will not be let out any time soon. Hundreds and hundreds of people are being accused of being witches day after day; men, women, and children alike. People are wondering throughout the world if this will ever stop. It is pretty early in the trials, but hundreds of people throughout the New World are worried that some of their relatives are going to be accused, or that their neighbor will be accused, or that their neighbor is a witch and that they cannot know whom to trust. People in the future will look to this period of time and marvel over how two girls started the whole thing.

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