Read CHAPTER XIV of Dulcibel A Tale of Old Salem , free online book, by Henry Peterson, on

Bad News.

The blow fell at last, and where they might have expected it. As Joseph Putnam said afterwards, “Why did I not bring them out to my house? They would not have dared to take them from under my roof, and they could not have done it if they had dared.”

One of his servants had been sent to the village on an errand; he had not performed his errand, but he had hurried back at once with the news. Dulcibel Burton had been arrested the previous evening, about nine o’clock, on the charge of being a witch. Antipas Newton had also been arrested. Both had been taken to prison, and put in irons.

A desperate, determined look came into the faces of the two men as they gathered every word the servant had to tell. Young Mistress Putnam burst into tears. But the men dashed a tear or two from their eyes, and began to collect their thoughts. It was not weeping but stern daring, that would be needed before this thing was through.

The prisoners were to be brought up that afternoon for examination. “I have my two men, who will follow wherever I lead them,” said Master Putnam. “That makes four of us. Shall we carry her off from under their very eyes?” And his face glowed the fighting instinct of his race was very strong within him.

“It might not succeed, those men are neither cowards nor babies,” answered his guest. “Besides, it would lead probably to your banishment and the confiscation of your property. No, we must have the wisdom of the serpent, as well as the boldness of the lion.”

“The result of the examination may be favorable, so young and good and beautiful as she is,” said Mistress Putnam.

“They lap their tongues in the blood of lambs, and say it is sweet as honey,” replied her husband, shaking his head. “No, they will show no mercy; but we must try to match them.”

“Yes, and with as little hazard and cost to you, my noble friend, as possible,” said Master Raymond. “Let me act, and take all the risk. They cannot get hold of my property; and I would just as lief live in New York or Philadelphia or England as among this brood of crazy vipers.”

“That is wise counsel, Joseph,” said his wife.

“Oh, I suppose it is,” he answered emphatically. “But I hate wise counsel.”

“Still, my good friend, you must admit that, as Dulcibel betrothed herself to me only two days ago, I am the one to take the greatest risk in this matter.”

“Indeed!” said Mistress Putnam. “I knew it would be so; and I told Joseph it would be, only yesterday.”

“I give you joy of such a mistress!” cried Master Putnam, grasping his friend’s hand. “Yes, I grant now your right of precedence in this danger, and I will follow your lead yes, to the death!”

“I hold you to that,” said Master Raymond. “Remember you are pledged to follow my lead. Now, whatever I do, do not wonder, much less express any wonder. For this is war, and I have a right to meet craft with craft, and guile with guile. Depend upon it, I will save her, or perish with her.”