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

Master Raymond Also Complains of an “Evil Hand.”

Master Raymond had everything now prepared upon his part, and was awaiting a message from Captain Alden, to the effect that he had made a positive engagement with the Danish captain.

He had caught a serious cold on his return from Boston and, turning the matter over in his mind for it is a wise thing to try to get some good result out of even apparently evil occurrences he had called in the village doctor.

But the good Doctor’s medicine did not seem to work as it ought to for one reason, Master Raymond regularly emptied the doses out of the window; thinking as he told Master Joseph, to put them where they would do the most good. And when the Doctor came, and found that neither purging nor vomiting had been produced, these with bleeding and sweating being the great panaceas of that day as perhaps of this he was naturally astonished. In a case where neither castor oil, senna and manna, nor large doses of Glauber’s salts would work, a medical man was certainly justified in thinking that something must be wrong.

Master Raymond suggested whether “an evil hand” might not be upon him. This was the common explanation at that time in Salem and its neighborhood. The doctors and the druggists nowadays miss a great deal in not having such an excuse made ready to their hands it would account alike for adulterated drugs and ill-judged remedies.

Master Raymond had the reputation of being rich, and the Doctor had been mortified by the bad behavior of his medicines for if a patient be not cured, if he is at least vigorously handled, there seems to be something that can with propriety be heavily charged for. But if a doctor does nothing neither cures, nor anything else with what face can he bring in a weighty bill?

And so good Doctor Griggs readily acquiesced in his patient’s supposition that “an evil hand,” was at work, and even suggested that he should bring Abigail Williams or some other “afflicted” girl with him the next time he came, to see with her sharpened eyes who it was that was bewitching him.

But Master Raymond declined the offer at least for the present. If the thing continued, and grew worse, he might be able himself to see who it was. Why should he not be as able to do it as Abigail Williams, or any other of the “afflicted” circle? Of course the doctor was not able to answer why; there seemed to be no good reason why one set of “afflicted” people should have a monopoly of the accusing business.

Of course this came very quickly from the Doctor to Mistress Ann Putnam for he was a regular attendant of that lady, whose nervous system indeed was in a fearful state by this time. And she puzzled a good deal over it. Did Master Raymond intend to accuse anyone? Who was it? Or was it merely a hint thrown out, that it was a game that two parties could play at?

But then she smiled she had the two ministers, and through them all the other ministers of the colony the magistrates and judges and the advantages of the original position. Imitators always failed. Still she rather liked the young man’s craft and boldness Joseph Putnam would never have thought of such a thing. But still let him beware how he attempted to thwart her plans. He would soon find that she was the stronger.

Joseph Putnam then began to answer inquiries as to the health of his guest, that he was not much better, and thought somewhat of going up to Boston for further medical advice as the medicines given him so far did not seem to work as well as they should do.

“Could he bear the ride?”

“Oh, very well indeed his illness had not so far affected his strength much.”