In the year 1692, life changes forever for ten-year-old Abigail Faulkner and her family. In Salem, Massachusetts, witches have been found, and widespread fear and panic reign mere miles from Abigail's home of Andover. When two girls are brought from Salem to identify witches in Andover, suspicion sweeps the town as well-respected members of the community are accused of witchcraft. It isn't long before chaos consumes Andover, and the Faulkners find themselves in the center of it all when friend turns themselves in the center of it all when friend turns against friend, neighbor against neighbor, in a desperate fight for the truth. At the heart of this gripping story are Abigail and her sister, Dorothy, who together must find a way to persevere during a period marked by terror, adversity, and ignorance.
Told from Abigail's point of view and based on actual events in the author's own family histoy, The Sacrifice offers a unique perspective of the Salem witch trials by delving into the devestating effects the trials had not just in Salem but throughout Massachusetts.
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August 26, 2007
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Excerpt from The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble
They will not see me move. They will not see me move," Abigail whispered to herself, although her whole body cried out to shift her legs and ease the pain as she sat straight and still in the stocks. Her legs burned and her backside ached, but she remained determined. She kept her head held high, even when a cold mist developed, sending shivers through her body. Even when her cousin Steven, who had teased her into lifting her skirts and racing him in the first place, came and grinned at her. Even when Goody Sprague walked past and stared at her with disdain. Abigail did not move. She did not even blink an eye. She wouldn't.
Abby did not for an instant believe it was evil for a girl to take pleasure in running and having her legs free. If she wasn't meant to race, why had the Lord given her those legs in the first place?
Her right thigh begin to twitch. She tightened the muscles with all her might and gritted her teeth.
"They will not see me move. They will not see me move," she continued to whisper to herself.
Rain was now dribbling down her back, snaking its way between her shoulder blades, cold and wet. Abby sat up straighter.
The parchment paper sign, sinner, that hung about her neck grew damp and clung to her bodice. Cold crept into her hands, which lay clasped in her lap. With her feet locked into place and her legs stretched straight out in front of her with no support, Abby felt strained beyond enduring. She willed herself to see her limbs in the wooden holes as if they were someone else's, removed from the pain.
It felt as if days had passed, though Abigail knew her sentence was only six hours. She was hungry, yet this made her more determined. She lifted her head higher and peered out into the growing darkness, watching lights appear as each house in the village lit its candles.
At last, just when she felt as if she couldn't stand it any longer, they came: four of the town elders and Abigail's grandfather, Reverend Dane.
Abigail looked straight into Grandpappy's eyes. She regretted having shamed him, but she was not sorry for the racing. Surely he had mistaken the words of the Lord if he believed that she was a sinner. Abby knew that she flew like the angels when she ran.
"Your punishment is complete, Abigail Faulkner," Justice Bradstreet said. "Release her."
The others lifted the bar of the stocks. Abby stared at the men, and left her legs there. She would not move until they had left. She was not about to let them see her shake and perhaps fall as she attempted to stand on her stiff and weak legs.
"Are you not yet repentant, Abigail?" asked Elder Stevens in wonder.
Abby saw Grandpappy's face turn scarlet at her refusal to move. She knew he would not like how she was about to answer Elder Stevens. Abigail thrust forth her chin and prepared to speak.
But she was saved from saying anything by the arrival of her mother. Mama came from the shadows and descended upon them, her face stern and drawn.
"Please, good sirs, leave me to tend to her," she said. "The child will sicken if we leave her here much longer. Can you not discuss saving her soul in more tolerable weather? Let me take her home now."
The elders grumbled but finally turned and left for their own homes, warm fires, and suppers.
"You are too easy on her, Hannah," Grandpappy said.
"Not now, Father," Mama said. "We can discuss this at a later time."
Grandpappy grunted. He gave Abby one last look, then headed off into the darkness.
Mama turned toward her daughter. Her eyes searched Abigail's, but she said nothing. Quickly, she leaned down and began to rub Abby's legs until Abby began to feel them again. The sensation was painful, and Abigail had to bite her lip to stop from crying out.
Mama leaned over and put her arms around her daughter. "Can you move your legs?"
Abigail lifted first one leg, and then the other to the ground. Pain tore through each one as she moved them from the stocks.
"I fear I may not make it home, Mama," she whispered.
Mama lifted Abigail slightly. "I'll wager you'll do it, Bear. But rise slowly now."
At the sound of Mama's nickname for her, Abby blinked back tears. She remembered the day her mother had first called her that. She was only five years old, and a big black bear had wandered into their garden. Abigail had just finished her daily weeding when she saw the bear rooting around, tearing up the garden she had just put in order.
"Get out of here!" Abigail had yelled, bringing her mother to the door.
"Abby," her mother had said softly, gesturing furiously at her. "Come slowly here, child. Back away from him."
"I will not," Abby had replied angrily, picking up a stick. "Get out, you old bear!"
"Abigail, stop," her mother whispered. "You'll make him angry."
But Abigail would not stop. She banged that stick against the wooden gate of the garden, attracting the bear's attention, then moved slowly toward him. She hit the stick again, continuing to move toward the bear and the garden gate.