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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 135

Goodman Dalton sighed as he looked into the worn, scowling face of his wife; then, laying his hands on her head, he prayed to God that she might be led out of the shadow and made to love her child again. As he prayed a gleam of sunset shone in at the window and made a halo around the face of the smiling babe. Mistress Dalton looked at the little thing in doubt; then a glow of recognition came into her eyes, and with a sob of joy she caught the child to her breast, while Dalton embraced them both, deeply happy, for his wife had recovered her reason. In the midst of tears and kisses the woman started with a faint cry: she remembered that a poor old creature was about to expiate on the gallows a crime that had never been committed. She urged her husband to ride with all speed to justice Sewall and demand that Goody Cole be freed. This the goodman did, arriving at Newbury at ten o'clock at night, when the town had long been abed and asleep. By dint of alarms at the justice's door he brought forth that worthy in gown and night-cap, and, after the case had been explained to him, he wrote an order for Mistress Cole's release.

With this paper in his hand Dalton rode at once to Ipswich, and when the cock crew in the dawning the victim of that horrible charge walked forth, without her manacles. Yet dark suspicion hung about the beldam to the last, and she died, as she had lived, alone in the little cabin that stood near the site of the academy. Even after her demise the villagers could with difficulty summon courage to enter her cot and give her burial. Her body was tumbled into a pit, hastily dug near her door, and a stake was driven through the heart to exorcise the powers of evil that possessed her in life.





GENERAL MOULTON AND THE DEVIL

Jonathan Moulton, of Hampton, was a general of consequence in the colonial wars, but a man not always trusted in other than military matters. It was even hinted that his first wife died before her time, for he quickly found consolation in his bereavement by marrying her companion. In the middle of the night the bride was awakened with a start, for she felt a cold hand plucking at the wedding-ring that had belonged to the buried Mrs. Moulton, and a voice whispered in her ear, "Give the dead her own." With a scream of terror she leaped out of bed, awaking her husband and causing candles to be brought. The ring was gone.

It was long after this occurrence that the general sat musing at his fireside on the hardness of life in new countries and the difficulty of getting wealth, for old Jonathan was fond of money, and the lack of it distressed him worse than a conscience. "If only I could have gold enough," he muttered, "I'd sell my soul for it." Whiz! came something down the chimney.


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