A "hideous screech and noise" poured from the open windows of the meetinghouse. Inside, the young accusers who said they had been bewitched by their neighbors twisted their bodies and cried in pain. Frail and weak, Rebecca Nurse, the most unlikely to be in league with the devil, stood to be questioned.
From the moment on that cold January day when the specter of a coffin appeared during a childish game, Salem Village convulsed with fear, finger pointing and suspicion, and the normal hierarchy of Puritan life was turned upside down. In an age when children were seen and not heard, the "afflicted girls" behaved outrageously "by getting into holes, and creeping under chairs and stools," their bodies contorted into "odd postures and antic gestures." Seventeen-year-old Mary Wolcott, in the presence of a visiting minister, ran into the room crying "Whish! Whish! Whish!" and pulled burning logs from the great fireplace, tossing them about the room. During an anti-witch ser...