It was the wind. There’s no one in the passage.
O Absalom, my son! I feel the world
Sinking beneath me, sinking, sinking, sinking!
Death knocks! I go to meet him! Welcome, Death!
Rises, and sinks back dead; his head failing aside upon his shoulder.
O ghastly sight! Like one who has been hanged!
Endicott! Endicott! He makes no answer!
Raises Endicott’s head.
He breathes no more! How bright this signet-ring
Glitters upon his hand, where he has worn it
Through such long years of trouble, as if Death
Had given him this memento of affection,
And whispered in his ear, “Remember me!”
How placid and how quiet is his face,
Now that the struggle and the strife are ended
Only the acrid spirit of the times
Corroded this true steel. Oh, rest in peace,
Courageous heart! Forever rest in peace!
GILES COREY Farmer.
JOHN HATHORNE Magistrate.
COTTON MATHER Minister of the Gospel.
JONATHAN WALCOT A youth.
RICHARD GARDNER Sea-Captain.
JOHN GLOYD Corey’s hired man.
MARTHA Wife of Giles Corey.
TITUBA An Indian woman.
MARY WALCOT One of the Afflicted.
The Scene is in Salem in the year 1692.
Delusions of the days that once have been,
Witchcraft and wonders of the world unseen,
Phantoms of air, and necromantic arts
That crushed the weak and awed the stoutest hearts,—
These are our theme to-night; and vaguely here,
Through the dim mists that crowd the atmosphere,
We draw the outlines of weird figures cast
In shadow on the background of the Past,
Who would believe that in the quiet town
Of Salem, and, amid the woods that crown
The neighboring hillsides, and the sunny farms
That fold it safe in their paternal arms,—
Who would believe that in those peaceful streets,
Where the great elms shut out the summer heats,
Where quiet reigns, and breathes through brain and breast
The benediction of unbroken rest,—
Who would believe such deeds could find a place
As these whose tragic history we retrace?
’T was but a village then; the goodman ploughed
His ample acres under sun or cloud;
The goodwife at her doorstep sat and spun,
And gossiped with her neighbors in the sun;
The only men of dignity and state
Were then the Minister and the Magistrate,
Who ruled their little realm with iron rod,
Less in the love than in the fear of God;
And who believed devoutly in the Powers
Of Darkness, working in this world of ours,
In spells of Witchcraft, incantations dread,
And shrouded apparitions of the dead.