Algebra

Tramway

Issue 3

The Goode Daughter

by Andrea Mullaney

Listen to this piece in audio form

Andrea Mullaney

Dorcas Goode, aged four, was the youngest person accused of witchcraft in the Salem trials of 1692 and testified against her mother Sarah, a beggar with a reputation as a nuisance around the town. Sarah's execution was delayed due to pregnancy, but she lost the child in prison and was hung, still insisting on her innocence. Dorcas was released but suffered from periodic insanity throughout the rest of her life.

Every body betrays there Ma, thats the truth of it. They make us from there bodys and they feed us with there blood. The lucky of us git carryd and fed even after we git bornt, for a time. But even if we dont, we got no cause to feel aggrievd, for nine month free lodgin is fair enough by any bodys standrds.

Yet we al say they dont do us rite. Shes to strick, shes to loose, shes gon away, shes to much here. I guess boys aint so bad, but girls spen there lives tryin not to be like there Mas and thats a betrayl in its self.

My Ma werent much of a muther, but then I werent much of a dawter. It took me a long whiles to know that.

Onner thy Pa and thy Ma says the good book, a struction that causd me much confusion as I grew. How do you onner one who has been castit owt by He who gave that commandmnt, wen she coudnt never speak His laws, nor even wen her life dependit on it? She kep sayin she new them, but wen they put her to it, the words came owt wrong. Thou shalt not kill thy neybours ox. Thou shalt not bear false witnes that the Lord is a jealus God. Thou shalt not worship idols on the Sabbathday.

The worse of it were, she kep tryin. I think they might of not been so angry if shed stoppt sayin she knew them, wen any one coud here she was jus hopin to hit the rite words soonr nor later. It soundit like cheek to them, like she was sayin that words was al they were anyway.

Not long after Id come owt of her I knew she warnt liked in Salem town, my Ma. Pa didnt mind her, I guess, but Pa dont mind much. He sayed at the trial that he seen a wart appeard on her shulder afore she were taken but I dont kno how he coud tell wen I kno for fact that he didnt look at her from one month to next. They startit of badly, he tole me after, and somehow they never got rite.

Most he kep owt of her way, for shed a tonge on her coud strip your feelins rite of. She was angry al the time and you coud think it was you made her that way, till you saw her showt as vilent at a bird that lef its mark on her cote or a cat that crossd her path. I mind being draggd thru the town with her wen I was nee high, watchin the legs scattr over to the othr side of the strete owt her road, wondrin how they was alowd to git away from her tempr and I werent.

She were angry at life, at the town, at the world. Shed been ment for bettr things, shed say, raisd with expectashuns, servin ale and meat wen she were my age in a fine inn, set for a good match til her Pa the bastert – thats wat I took as his ful name back then – killt himsel. His wife the bitch took the state, so Ma marryd her first man only he werent no good and they lost such mony as they ever had. Then he died and Pa came and I came, but the dett kep comin to.

And as I grew, Mas anger grew biggr. Why shoud people have what shed losst? Why shoud she have to beg and chap doors askin for bred or a bed or a coin or too? Some times theyd keep her there for awhiles, tellin her she awt to do this and do that, she awt to atone for her sins and kep cleen and lowr her eyes, and then aftr al that, these goodly wives woud haul up there chests and fold there arms, noddin like theyd givn her somethin but meanin that was al she was goin to git. And shed git mad and showt and kick at there doors till they got there man to chase her of.

Thing is, I new even then she were goin abowt it wrong. If shed noddit and duckd her eyes and sayed yes Mistres Gadge and no Mistres Bibber and kep her tonge in, theyd have given her somethin, most like. Id try to stand aside her, holdin my hed as meek as I coud, smilin and makin my eyes big, but most times Ma woud be carryin on so that they couden hardly notice.

They got to hatin her, you see. No body wants to be showtd at and cald al the names. And once you hate some body you git to thinkin that them just appearin is a torment to you and then you start gittin angry yourselfs.

I warnt that surprisd wen they came for her, seemd pretty natral to me evn tho I didnt undrstan the ins and owts of it. Funnyst thing to me were that they said she were in it with these too others, as if my Ma evr coud have stood makin nice with any one evn in a wickd busness like that. I dont kno what they others done to git takn but I bet it were somethin.

Wen they brung her in, I laughd, for the girls what namd her startit shakin there heads and fallin abowt. It were like a contest to show who coud act maddest and I thot for sure my Ma woud win. Pa husht me on his knee to stop me cheerin her on. One of the girls sayed Ma had came at her with a nife, which soundit like the sort of thing she woud do, but an other sayed shed flew in the air, which didnt so much. I werent al the way sure, but it didnt seem like her.

Pa had to talk, which was somethin rare, and he sayed one thing and an other thing and I didnt follo it al but it came owt bad for her. I member thinkin, dont let her talk, dont let her rage at them, cause I knew what it woud do. But they did and tho she startit of pretty calm, by the end she were shoutin and I coud feel the hate buildin up in that room till it broke.

But nothin happend and I thot that was it. I didnt undrstand that it were a cold anger they had, not like hers wich burnd it self quick and then was forgot. They were able to keep there anger for months as she got biggr and biggr, kep in a cel that was bettern some of the places wed stayd afore so that wen Pa took me to see her I thot shed not done to badly after al. It was funy how she kep getting biggr and biggr.

And owtside, the town was stil angry. You coud feel it cracklin as you passt thru the streets, see it in tite faces that lookd at you suspishus. They were waitin for somethin else to happn, you coud tell, cause what had happent so far warnt enough.

Wen they come for me, I duckd my head and made my eyes big and said yes Rev Noys to evrythin I were askd and felt like a clevr girl: nothin here to make them hate me.

Even wen they put me in aside her, I thot it were goin well. Like a reward. I were the yungst one they took and they sayed I was wickd.

Wen I saw Ma, she warnt angry tho. She didnt showt or rage at me, she just sighd and sayed, ah, not this one to? And then stoppd talkin at me, just turnt her back and sat lookin at the wal. I sayed, Ma, Ma, you arnt as big as afore, where did yer belly go, but she sayed nothin.

It were funy, her doin that; it were like the anger had to go some wheres and with her not showin it, it went into me. Wen they come to see me after a bit, I startit to screem and showt. I tole them al sort of stuff, I dont kno where it come from, I tole abowt her and snakes and divils an such, I sayed everything they sayed was true. I was that mad, I think may be I was possesst like they sayed, but not with what they sayed.

Awhiles later they took her away. They say she curst them at the last and I hope its true, for I dont like to think of her dyin in that quiete way. Pa was let come for me awhiles aftr that and as soon as I were owt in Salem town agen, I coud tell the air warnt cracklin no more. Evry body was draind lookin and tired.

A long whiles aftr they gave him mony, to say sorry I guess, and Pa took it the way he took evrythin else. And I were brung up with expectashuns, of a sort, and watchd the town become ashamd of itselfs as I grew.

Theres that shame in me now for what I done to my Ma, but mostly the anger and evry once in a whiles it burns up ferce. They put me away in a place wen it hapens and they say its no wonder, with a muther like that. And if I had a nife I woud cut them, if I coud fly I woud haunt them, if I knew a divil I woud consort him till he killt them al. But al I can do is curse, so I curses them, over an over.

Andrea Mullaney

Andrea Mullaney is a journalist, tutor and writer who lives in Glasgow. Her stories have been published in Gutter, Fractured West, the Cargo Publishing anthology A Thousand Cranes and For Every Year. She is currently a TV Critic for The Scotsman while working on a novel, The Ghost Marriage. andreamullaney.wordpress.com