Torture isn’t allowed under English law –
but some folk still get pressed to death by the peine forte et dure!
“he will lie upon his back, with his head covered and his feet, and one arm will be drawn to one quarter of the house with a cord, and the other arm to another quarter, and in the same manner it will be done with his legs; and let there be laid upon his body iron and stone, as much as he can bear, or more …“
(from the Curiosities of Cowel’s Interpreter)
Torture isn’t allowed under English Law
but some unfortunates fall prey to The Strappado . . .
“They tied my hands behind my back. Then they hung me from a door. It feels like they are stretching you from all sides. My torso was twisted and my shoulders were dislocated from their joints from time to time. The pain cannot be described. The [Inquisitor] was shouting, ‘Confess or you will die here.'”
The Wise Woman’s Bedtime Prayer:
“Four newks in this house, for haly Angels,
A post in the midst, that’s Christ Jesus,
Lucas, Marcus, Matthew, Joannes,
God be into this house, and all that belongs us.”
They call this test Swimming the Witch or Trial by Water.
Thou shalt be bound up and thrown in the water while the townsfolk watch to see what happens.
If thou sink and drown – thou proves innocent.
If thou float it’s the sign of the witch – so thou shalt hang or burn!
There’s ten ways folks use to determine if thou be a witch ’round here. The first is CAUSING FITS.
If a villager behaves moonstruck and odd whenever close by,
then the finger will point at thee!
I first met Tibb nigh-on twenty years ago, near Gouldshey stone-pit. He came to me in the shape of a lad, dressed up all fancy in a black and brown coat. I thought he was some young master who’d got himself lost ’til he beckoned me over and demanded, “Give me thy soul!”
“Why would I do that?” I asked him, staring at the face of a fallen angel.
“If ye do, thou can have all thy wants,” says he.
I thought on his words and requested he utter his name.
“Tibb,” he told me – and I knew then it was a spirit or devil stood afore me.
I pondered the offer. Such a promise was mighty tempting indeed – and so I verily agreed.
Most folk don’t know much about my best mate Kate Hewitt. Everyone round here calls her Mouldheel’s Wife as she’s wed to John Hewitt of Colne. He’s a weaver in Waterside – a slippery knave, and not much to look at either. I know he bulks out his cloth with tallow. You can tell from the shine, even afore the mould starts growing. And each time there’s an official complaint they’ve to pack up shop and move on.
For a while they lived here, in Barley. It was years ago, when all our bairns were just scraps. That’s when Kate came and asked me to cure her rabbits. She raises them like chickens until they’re firm and plump and then wrings their necks for market. But that year summat made the whole bunch sick, and it was a couple of weeks afore I worked out a cure. Then she was that glad I’d saved the kits she invited our lot to supper – treated us more decent than anyone outside of the clan ever had – and we became friends.
When me and Ali were arrested, Lizzie invited Kate (and her neighbor Alice Gray) to the Good Friday gathering at Malkin Tower, to see if they’d any suggestions for getting us free. They came on Alice’s ponies, which is likely why she was asked along in the first place. I don’t know much about Goodwife Gray, except for the rumor a while back that she fell out with some lot at Folds Farm and was accused of putting their young lass in hanck. Now I’m told both women have been arrested, I’ll warrant on account of some old scores that needed settling.
I hope they put Kate in the Well Tower so we can find out what’s been going on out there. It won’t seem quite so grim if my mate’s in here with us too.