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

Mistress Ann Putnam’s Fair Warning.

In the course of the next day the removal of the three prisoners became known to everybody. Master Raymond wondered when he heard it, whether it was a check-mate to the plan of escape, with which the magistrates, in some way had become acquainted; or whether it was a mere chance coincidence. Finally he satisfied himself that it was the latter though no doubt suggested by the rather loose threats of Master English’s many sailors.

When jailer Foster returned, he found means to inform Master Raymond that it had been entirely impossible so suddenly was the whole thing sprung upon him to let anyone in their secret know of what was going on. He had not even taken the assistant jailer, his own son, into his confidence, because he did not wish to expose him to needless danger. His son was not required to afford any help, and therefore it would be unwise to incur any risk of punishment. Besides, while Uncle Robie had made up his mind to do some tall lying of his own for the sake of saving innocent lives, he saw no reason why his son, should be placed under a similar necessity. Lying seemed to be absolutely needful in the case; but it was well to do as little of it as possible.

From his conversation with Master Herrick, Uncle Robie concluded that nothing had been divulged; and that the magistrates had acted only on the supposition that trouble of some kind might result from the sailors. And, looked at from that point of view, it was quite sufficient to account for the removal of two of the prisoners. As to why Dulcibel also should be sent to Boston, he could get no satisfactory explanation. It seemed in fact to be a matter of mere caprice, so far as uncle Robie could find out.

They had pushed on through the night to Boston about a four hours’ slow ride and delivered the three prisoners safely to the keeper of Boston jail. Uncle Robie adding the assurance to Goodwife Buckley who acted as Master Raymond’s confidential agent in the matter that he had spoken a word to his old crony who believed no more in witches than he did, which would insure to her as kind treatment as possible. And Robie further said that he had been assured by the Boston jailer, that Mistress Phips, the wife of the Governor, had no sympathy whatever with the witchcraft prosecutions, but a great deal of sympathy for the victims of it.

The game was therefore played out at Salem, now that Dulcibel had been transferred to Boston; and Master Raymond began to make arrangements at once to leave the place. In some respects the change of scene was for the worse; for he had no hold upon the Boston jailer, and had no friend there like Joseph Putnam, prepared to go to any length on his behalf. But, on the other hand, in Boston they seemed outside of the circle of Mistress Ann Putnam’s powerful and malign influence. This of itself was no small gain; and, thinking over the whole matter, Master Raymond came to the conclusion that perhaps the chances of escape would be even greater in Boston than in Salem.

So, in the course of the ensuing week, Master Raymond took an affectionate leave of his kind young host and hostess, and departed for Boston town, avowedly on his way back to his English home. This last was of course brought out prominently in all his leave-takings he was, after a short stay in Boston, to embark for England. “What shall I send you from England?” was among his last questions to the various members of the “afflicted circle.” And one said laughingly one thing, and one another; the young man taking it gravely, and making a note in his little notebook of each request. If things should come to the worst, he was putting himself in a good position to influence the character of the testimony. A hundred pounds in this way would be money well employed.

Even to Mistress Ann Putnam he did not hesitate to put the same question, after a friendly leave-taking. Mistress Putnam rather liked the young Englishman; it was mainly against Dulcibel as the friend of her brother-in-law that she had warred; and if Master Raymond had not also been the warm friend and guest of Joseph Putnam, she might have relented in her persecution of Dulcibel for his sake. But her desire to pain and punish Master Joseph, who had said so many things against her in the Putnam family overpowered all such sentimental considerations. Besides, what Dulcibel had said of her when before the magistrates, had greatly incensed her.

“What shall you send me from England? And are you really going back there?” And she fixed her cold green eyes upon the young man’s face.

“Oh, yes, I am going back again, like the bad penny,” replied Master Raymond smiling.

“How soon?”

“Oh, I cannot say exactly. Perhaps the Boston gentlemen may be so fascinating that they will detain me longer than I have planned.”

“Is it because the Salem gentlewomen are so fascinating that you have remained here? We feel quite complimented in the village by the length of your visit.”

“Yes, I have found the Salem gentlewomen among the most charming of their sex. But you have not told me what I shall send you from London when I return?”

“Oh, I leave that entirely with you, and to your own good taste. Perhaps by the time you get back to London, you will not wish to send me anything.”

“I cannot imagine such a case. But I shall endeavor, as you leave it all to me, to find something pretty and appropriate; something suited to the most gifted person, among men and women, that I have found in the New World.”

Mistress Putnam’s face colored with evident pleasure even she was not averse to a compliment of this kind; knowing, as she did, that she had a wonderful intellectual capacity for planning and scheming. In fact if she had possessed as large a heart as brain, she would have been a very noble and even wonderful woman. Master Raymond thought he had told no falsehood in calling her the “most gifted” he considered her so in certain directions.

And so they parted the last words of Mistress Putnam being, the young man thought, very significant ones.

“I would not,” she said in a light, but still impressive manner, “if I were you, stay a very long time in Boston. There is, I think, something dangerous to the health of strangers in the air of that town, of late. It would be a very great pity for you to catch one of our deadly fevers, and never be able to return to your home and friends. Take my advice now it is honest and well meant and do not linger long in the dangerous air of Boston.”

Thanking her for her solicitude as to his health, Master Raymond shook her thin hand and departed. But all the ride back to Joseph Putnam’s, he was thinking over those last words.

What was their real meaning? What could they mean but this? “You are going to Boston to try to save Dulcibel Burton. I do not want to hurt you; but I may be compelled to do it. Leave Boston as soon as you can, and spare me the necessity that may arise of denouncing you also. Joseph Putnam, whom I hate, but whose person and household I am for family reasons compelled to respect, when you are in Boston is no longer your protector. I can just as easily, and even far more easily, reach you than I could reach Captain Alden. Beware how you interfere with my plans. Even while I pity you, I shall not spare you!”