Girls target Tituba and others

With the Parrises frequently away from home, Tituba spent most of her time alone with the children. After long, tedious days they would often gather by the hearth to relax and tell stories. Tituba was a fascinating storyteller, and the children were fascinated by her tales of Barbados. The only other stories they ever read or heard were from the Bible (the Christian holy book), so these sessions by the fire were especially unique experiences for them. By late February 1693 several girls were being afflicted by hysterical fits and hallucinations. It is likely that their parents, and Samuel Parris in particular, urged or forced them to name certain people who were responsible for their behavior. Historians speculate that the pious and troubled Parris was eager to deflect the roots of this strange behavior out of his own household and onto others. Tituba and two village women, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne, were the first three accused of being witches in the

Salem trials. Within days they were taken to the village for questioning by magistrates (judges) John Hathorne and Johnathan Corwin. This was a major event in Salem Village. Almost everyone took the day off to witness the court proceedings. The accused were brought through the village in a formal procession before being taken into an overcrowded, makeshift courtroom at a village inn. There was not enough space for everyone, however, as people had come not only from the village but also from the surrounding areas of Tops-field, Ipswich, Beverly, and Salem Town. The size of the audience forced local leaders to find a larger building, so they decided to use the church meetinghouse instead.

The officials and the girls were brought in first, then the church filled with people until every space was occupied. The room quieted as the first accused witches were brought to the front to be examined. Good and Osborne both spoke before Tituba and helped set the stage for her testimony. According to the court report, when Osborne was on the witness stand she spoke of possibly being bewitched (being under a spell) rather than being an actual witch. As described in The Devil in Massachusetts, she described seeing or dreaming "A thing like an Indian, all Black . . . [which] pinched her on her neck and pulled her by the back part of her head to the door of the house." By trying to deflect attention from herself onto the black man, Osborne inadvertently implicated herself as a witch (see Chapter 4).

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