"I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am"
and a picture of the stained glass in the church in Domrémy-La-Pucelle titled "Joan of Arc presented to the Virgin Mary and the Infant Christ".
So martyrs this week. It's a heavy topic, no matter which likeness the word embodies.
I'm returning to Deliverance Redd, recently accused of witchcraft. She is now before the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
I offer this week's response: The Devil's Tactic
Esther took the stand with the stature of a frightened doe. Shackled at attention, Deliverance was forced to listen while her cousin spoke her mind.
“And after your supper had been cleared?” Magistrate Stoddard questioned. Deliverance heard a quill scratching behind her, recording her damnation. She willed her heart still, aware of the hundreds of eyes locked onto her back in judgment. It would not serve her case to yield to her anger.
“My cousin rose like a woman possessed. It was only recently that her adultery was brought to light and I was concerned for her well-being. I felt compelled to follow her.” Esther twisted her handkerchief, as if it was a talisman.
“And where did she go?”
There were tears in Esther’s eyes. “She walked down to the shore.”
Deliverance caught a look. Her accuser blanched. No words sounded from her moving lips. The courtroom air thickened in the silence.
“Mrs. Lovejoy? I understand that it is difficult to image your cousin to be guilty of crimes so heinous, but you must speak for her soul, and for the soul of the unborn baby. What did you witness?”
Her voice echoed. “Deliverance called out to the fiends of Hell to sink her lover’s ship.”
Gasps of horror surged from the gathered crowd. The magistrate pounded his wooden gavel thrice, sending an unexpected shiver through Deliverance’s spine. She closed her eyes against the taste of rising bile at the back of her throat. Lord, God Almighty, grant me the strength of Christ before the cross and bring my cousin to heel before Your Throne.
“And was her lover on the Goodship September? We found the wreckage a few days after the storm.”
Esther frowned, “I do not know, Sir.”
The grim magistrate looked over the rim of his spectacles. “But you said she summoned the storm with a rod and sank her lover’s ship.”
Deliverance felt the climate in the courtroom shift. Doubt flashed in her cousin’s eyes. The magistrate repeated his statement and Esther shook her head, “Never did I say she summoned the storm. I do not know her lover’s name, nor do I know what ship she found him on. Melancholy consumed her so that I feared Satan would twist that, to use her somehow.” She paused to take a breath. “I feared for her immortal soul.”
Shock or anger colored the magistrate’s features. “Without your testimony, all evidence left is merely spectral.”
Discussion erupted among the jury as hope crept into Deliverance’s heart. Magistrate Stoddard applied the gavel again, silencing the courtroom. “What is the recommendation of the court?”
A juror stood. “Put the accused to the question, Magistrate.”
And with that, hope was gone.