|Posted by [email protected] on May 1, 2014 at 2:20 PM|
The next morning was met with a bitter cold that froze the ground and the icy wind felt like knives against the skin of the townspeople who gathered on the hillside. Despite the cold, most were quiet as they faced the tree where the noose swayed. Sadness on their face as they knew they were losing a friend, but felt powerless against the church. For them, Marie St. James would be deeply missed. A few of Edward’s faithful followers preached the death of the witch was a blessing.
Inside her cell, Marie stood and looked out the small window into the morning sky. She was not afraid of what was to come. She would accept her fate without guilt for who she was. She would die with her head held high.
A guard approached her cell door and opened it. Marie turned and allowed him to bind her hands and ankles. Edward stood at the opening of her cell and as she was lead past him; he placed a gag in her mouth and tied it behind her head. He read from the Bible as Marie was lead from her cell out into the cold morning.
Marie was lead to the steps outside the jail where Edward paused to allow the townspeople to view the accused witch. There were mixed reactions from the crowd. Most were expressing sadness and remorse. Edward’s followers were spitting at her and continued their fear based preaching.
Edward pushed Marie forward into the crowed and she was lead up the hill to the tree which held the noose that would end her life. As Marie passed Cordelia, her eyes fell to the newborn baby she’d helped deliver. Bridgette stood beside Cordelia and wept as Marie was lead past them.
“This is wrong,” she whispered, her voice full of fear.
Cordelia patted her arm. “There is nothing we can do to stop it.”
“We have to try.”
Bridgette lunged forward and grabbed Edward by the arm. “This is wrong! She doesn’t deserve to die!”
Edward pushed her to the ground and looked to the people who gathered around her. “Anyone who supports this witch will feel the noose around their neck as well.”
Bridgette regained her footing and took her place next to Cordelia, her eyes burning with hatred.
Marie reached the top of the hill and stood in front of the hanging tree. She turned to face the crowd and saw William and Frances standing together. William took a step forward, but Marie turned away. Edward grabbed her by the arm and pushed her toward the horse-drawn wagon. She was lifted onto the wooded crates in the back of wagon and the noose was placed around her neck.
Edward stood in front of the wagon and looked up at Marie. “Marie St. James, you are here-by accused of practicing witchcraft. Let it be recorded, that on this day, October 25, 1685, you will be hanged by the neck until dead. May God have mercy on your soul.”
Marie looked out at the crowd and locked eyes with William. Frances stood beside him, tears streamed down her cheeks. Frances turned and spoke to William.
“May you live with your conscious forevermore.”
William lowered his head to the ground; remorse showed on his face. “I’m bound by the laws….”
Frances cut him off with a wave of her hand. “She carries your child.”
William looked at Frances, his eyes full of shock and turned toward Marie, still standing on the wooden crates. Before he could respond, the horse was slapped and charged forward, pulling the wooden crates out from under Marie’s feet. Within seconds, Marie’s body jerked as the noose took hold. Frances closed her eyes, turned, and walked away. The crowd slowly disassembled.
William stood, frozen, watching Marie’s body sway back and forth. He caught Edward out of the corner of his eye as he was leaving. William blocked his path.
“Aren’t you going to cut her down?”
Edward smiled and turned toward Marie’s hanging body. “She will hang here for the remainder of the day, as a lesson to others.” Edward walked over and stood by Marie’s hanging feet. “I’ll be spitting on your grave tomorrow.” He turned and walked away, patting William on the shoulder. William stood alone, watching Marie’s body sway back and forth at the end of the rope. He lowered his head again.
In the darkness of the forest, Marie ran. Her thoughts were frantic. She had to escape, but she didn’t know why or from whom. She only knew she had to get to her cottage. She’d be safe there…or would she? She didn’t know. She was so confused. Her cottage came into view and she charged through the front door, breathless. She saw Frances seated by the fireplace. Saint was in her lap, but jumped down and went to Marie. She reached down to pet him and looked to Frances.
There was no response. Marie walked to her and touched her shoulder. Frances shuttered and turned. No one was there. She turned back around, confused, and gazed into the fire. Saint let out a loud meow. Frances turned and saw the cat walking in circles, his attention drawn to something Frances couldn’t see. Marie became anxious and touched Frances’ shoulder again.
The front door burst open and William rushed in. Frances pushed to her feet and attacked him. William held her by the arms, but took a few good blows to the face. He pushed her out at arms length.
“I’m so sorry!”
Marie stood by the wall and watched.
Frances continued her assault. “She’s gone! You could have stopped this!”
William shoved her away, angry. “I couldn’t stop it! I tried to get her to…..”
Frances collapsed on the floor and wept. “Her body is still hanging out there. She was carrying your child.”
“Why wasn’t I told?”
“She hadn’t known for long. She told me the child would die with her.”
Marie’s eyes widen in horror. She turned and fled the cottage.
Marie ran through the forest, low tree branches gripped her clothing.
She increased her speed until she reached the tree where her body hung. She grabbed the clover pendent hanging from her neck.
She stepped closer to the tree and dropped to her knees, her face in her hands. She raised her arms and head to the sky and screamed, “Why?” Birds scattered. Her breathing increased as a wind began to stir the leaves around her. Her hair began to lift and blow. Slowly, she lifted her head and her hair turned black as the wind whipped through it. Her breathing was heavy and controlled. She stood slowly and raised her arms and head to the sky. The wind increased and whipped her dress and hair. Her eyes turned black as night. Her lifeless, hanging body swayed in the gusts from the creaking tree branch. She stood before her swinging body as the wind swirled out of control. She turned to face the town below, took a few steps and raised her arms to the sky once more. In a voice of controlled anger and intent, she spoke.
“This grass will die. This tree will twist. I cover all of you in mist. The ones responsible soon will pay. Their beating hearts I take away.”
A violent storm engulfed the town and hillside. Marie slowly made her
way down the hill into town. Back at the cottage, William and Frances
noticed the sudden storm brewing. Frances rushed to the front door and
opened it; wind and rain pushed through the opening. Frances stepped out
on the porch. William joined her and Frances turned to him.
“It’s Marie. She’s returned.” The eerie feeling she felt earlier in the cottage made sense to her now and explained why Saint had acted strangely.
William looked out at the growing storm. “What is she capable of?”
Frances shook her head. “It depends on how angry she is. I would be
more worried about the people she may seek revenge on.”