“Some people are born to be a burden on the rest.”
– U.S. eugenics poster c.1926 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States)
Grace Browne, 1605: she sees things, she gets lost in herself, she talks to sprites and can’t think in a straight line. She might have made a half-decent nun but all the convents have been closed, there are no nuns. Grace with her visions and phantasies could be tolerated under Elizabeth but James brings a new mood: now there is God and His True Church on one side, devilry and deceit on the other; now all spirits are evil spirits. We will have to find ways to make this girl not have visions, not have phantasies.
“HA HA!” she says but they’re not amused: these are serious men, they’ve formed militias and fought in wars and may yet have to fight again, they’ve lost friends, they’ve lost lots; they don’t laugh.
One of them can read, he reads: “The Devil leaves marks upon their bodies, sometimes like a blue spot, or a red spot, like a flea-bite, which for a time may be taken away but will come again to its old form: and these the Devil’s marks are insensible and being pricked will not bleed; and be often in their secret parts, and therefore require diligent and careful search.”
Grace wishes she is book.
Grace tries to look as far from them as she can, she twists her head all the way to the left and when they wrench it back she turns all the way right, she wishes should could unlook these men away. Some animals can make their head go in their inside but Grace isn’t an animal except when they say she is. They let her sit down now for the first time in a couple of days: no sleep and no stay-still. She finds it funny in a notfunny sort of way that they kept making her feet go even though there’s nowhere to go! There’s only this room so she could just be here by just being here, they didn’t need to make her walk here!
Her feet hurt.
They said me I’m which?
Her her hurts. “I saw your imp,” says one of the soldiers. “I saw your imp in your house.”
“That’s a cat!”
“I saw it.”
Grace been sawn.
They come forwardser: “I hate your imps.”
“I know their names. Your imps names are Suckin and Greedigut and Jarmara…”
“And Boneless and Sugarsack and Hob the Gobblin…”
“And Tom Thumber and Puckle and Kit with the canstick.”
Sometimes I wish I no.
“Your imps come to visit you here in the shape of spiders and flies.”
“Your imps hang in a bag in your secret parts and some people saw it.”
“They come likewise invisible; keep your imps away from me you stinking whore,” someone says or said that to her, she doesn’t always know the difference.
You try me! I used to like.
“Everyone saw it…”
“Noooo,” deepvoice, she turns and turns her head.
They’ve sinned the Holy Spirit, I think they actually have!
But they yes her over and over: “You put a pig up a tree.”
“You did. You injured a goose and made Mrs. Smythe fall in brambles.”
“Did. You turned a daughter into an owl.”
“You just said you did!”
“You made a man’s bed rock like a ship at sea. Confess it!”
“I, I, I…”
“I believe you. You did, didn’t you.”
“You eat babies.”
“You induce abortions, you cut off men’s members.”
Her head is spinning in actual circles as she confesses: “Once on a Sunday I felt a thing come on my legs and go in my secret parts and nip me in my secret parts.”
“Another time I felt things like butterflies in my secret parts with witchings and dancings and sucking and I felt them with my hands and rubbed them and killed them.”
She hurls the words out of her mouth: “I had temptation by Satan to drown myself in a pond!”
“I… I killed Mummy, I did. I wished she would die and one day she died.”
“The Devil! The Devil in the shape of a man made me lay with him, he carried my body into a bush and afterwards he scratched my hand with the bush.”
If I am a wish I’m wish this not happen.
They’ve heard enough.
I watch faraway they take my clothes off.
They hold her down, they test her virginity and find it wanting.
They break my rules.
I’m their puppet.
They teach her filthy lessons.
It’s hurts me. I’m a ruins.
Kneescrape. They touch her in places she didn’t know she had.
Forgivens: I am good.
They say they want to red-hot-poke her.
I make me sick, I only sick now. “HA HA!”
Blood of little lamb: she thinks she understands now, allbout blood of little lamb that they told but didn’t tell her allbout. What is “conquest” mean? I’m their toilet.
They spin her round and round in circles, round and round.
One of them outs my tooth two times.
“But Jesus said it will all be all right!” she screamcries at him. She knows with notwords she never have babesies now.
The me shann’t inherit the earth.
In her it the earth. They cut off her hair and paint her black and stick things to her. They tie her up in strange ways, they bind her left foot to her right hand, her left hand to her right foot, they make her into shapes.
They say they will take me to Doom Pond and they will swim me there, says: “I have seen witches lay upon the surface of a body of water, striving to submerge lest they betray themselves; too late. Neither will water enter their accursed mouths: for they have blasphemed against their Baptism. These things I have seen with my own eyes.”
Candles in that dark room burn down to the stonecold ground and now it’s all dark, no room. They will do this to her. Grace knows God, God, God’s gone mad.