But the devil when he purports any evil against man, first perverts his mind
I sit in a small dirt-crusted cell, my ear pressed against a wall, listening. The others, they did not resist, but neither were they repentant. They were asked one last time to confess. Then they were dragged out of our keep, one by one. Taken to Gallows Hill. Hung like thieves and murderers.
These are the dark days of Salem.
I touched my bloodied hand to a book, a conceit of will and foolishness. It meant nothing, I know that in my heart, but it is proof enough. I am marked by the Devil, damned from this earth. I do not question the madness - how can I even call it that, when all discern sense from it? - but I, too, will not confess. I must go in chains to my fate.
Secretly I wonder if such vengeance is the true face of God. If mercy is not a gift, but a weakness. But I know that this is the work of the Devil - like a trick of light, a pickpocket's practiced hand. Only in his stead Mephisto deftly places hate inside their hearts. Give and ye shall receive.
Now I hear them whispering, conspiring against me, fortifying themselves against my pleas for justice. They do not trust me; they have seen all there is to see. A night prior I prayed for redemption, for salvation; my heart compels me to it. I fear my prayers cannot escape these thick walls and iron bars.
They enter my room, bring to me up from my knees, read my warrant aloud. They do not look at me. Now I am being led to a thin-skinned slope. It is a long gray march to the gallows. The gathered crowd laughs at my worn appearance. I was known for my fine things, my vanity - all gone now.
My family stands near Reverend Hale, their eyes cast on my long shadow. I walk up the stairs, my head held high. In my hands, I carry a crucifix, a gift of compassion from Elizabeth, who bears a child and will be spared. I am not afraid of death - but my soul still doubts. Doubts of piety, of humility, of nobility.
As they bind my feet and place the noose about my neck, I begin to weep quietly, and then I am lost, I am shouting, the crowd is shouting. "I am no martyr! I am not righteous! I am not absolved!" The crowd merely yells louder, crying "Witch!" and "Heathen!" and, worst of all, "Sinner!" A bitter truth too scalding to swallow.
Now I turn to my family. "You must save yourselves from this. You must turn away, and not let this take on you, too! It is too late for me! Pray for me! Pray for my soul! Save me!" My father looks up then, into my eyes, and sees my tears. Now he weeps, too, clenching his fists tightly together in prayer. The executioner grasps the lever with intentful fervor. The crowd surges forward in want of action. I wonder what darkness lies ahead for me, those days before I rise again -
It is no small irony that monsters will save my soul. Yet I wonder still: who will save theirs?