A small upper bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, Salem, Massachusetts, in the spring of the year 1692

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Mary Warren, with greater impatience with him: I told you the proof. ItNs hard proof, hard as rock, the judges said.

Proctor, pauses an instant, then: You will not go to court again, Mary Warren.

Mary Warren: I must tell you, sir, I will be gone every day now. I am amazed you do not see what weighty work we do.

Proctor: What work you do! ItNs strange work for a Christian girl to hang old women!

Mary Warren: But, Mr. Proctor, they will not hang them it

Act Two


they confess. Sarah Good will only sit in jail some time - recall-ing - and hereNs a wonder for you; think on this. Goody Good is pregnant!

Elizabeth: Pregnant! Are they mad? The womanNs near to sixty!

Mary Warren: They had Doctor Griggs examine her, and sheNs full to the brim. And smokinN a pipe all these years, and no husband either! But sheNs safe, thank God, for theyNll not hurt the innocent child, But be that not a marvel? You must see it, sir, itNs GodNs work we do. So INll be gone every day for some time. INm - I am an official of the court, they say, and I - She has been edging toward onstage.

Proctor: INll official you! He strides to the mantel, takes down the whip hanging there.

Mary Warren, terrified, but coming erect, striving for her au-thority: INll not stand whipping any more!

Elizabeth, hurriedly, as Proctor approaches: Mary, promise now youNll stay at home -

MARY Warren, backing from him, but keeping her erect pos-ture, striving, striving for her way: The DevilNs loose in Salem, Mr. Proctor; we must discover where heNs hiding!

Proctor! INll whip the Devil out of you! With whip raised he reaches out for her, and she streaks away and yells.

Mary Warren, pointing at Elizabeth: I saved her life today!

Silence. His whip comes down.

Elizabeth, softly: I am accused?

Mary Warren, quaking: Somewhat mentioned. But I said 1 never see no sign you ever sent your spirit out to hurt no one, and seeing I do live so closely with you, they dismissed it.

Elizabeth: Who accused me?

60 The Crucible

Mary Warren: I am bound by law, I cannot tell it. To Proctor: I only hope youNll not be so sarcastical no more. Four judges and the KingNs deputy sat to dinner with us but an hour ago. I - I would have you speak civilly to me, from this out.

Proctor, in horror, muttering in disgust at her: Go to bed.

Mary Warren, with a stamp of her foot: INll not be ordered to bed no more, Mr. Proctor! I am eighteen and a woman, how-ever single!

Proctor: Do you wish to sit up? Then sit up.

Mary Warren: I wish to go to bed!

Proctor, in anger: Good night, then!

Mary Warren: Good night. Dissatisfied, uncertain of herself, she goes out. Wide-eyed, both, Proctor and Elizabeth stand staring.

Elizabeth, quietly: Oh, the noose, the noose is up!

Proctor: ThereNll be no noose.

Elizabeth: She wants me dead. I knew all week it would come to this!

Proctor, Without conviction: They dismissed it. You heard her say -

Elizabeth: And what of tomorrow? She will cry me out until they take me!

Proctor: Sit you down.

Elizabeth: She wants me dead, John, you know it!

Proctor: I say sit down! She sits, trembling. He speaks quietly, trying to keep his wits, Now we must be wise, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, with sarcasm, and a sense of being lost: Oh, indeed, indeed!

Act Two 61 Proctor: Fear nothing. INll find Ezekiel Cheever. INll tell him she said it were all sport.

Elizabeth: John, with so many in the jail, more than CheeverNs help is needed now, I think. Would you favor me with this? Go to Abigail.

Proctor, his soul hardening as he senses... : What have I to say to Abigail?

Elizabeth, delicately: John - grant me this. You have a faulty understanding of young girls. There is a promise made in any bed -

Proctor, striving against his anger: What promise!

Elizabeth: Spoke or silent, a promise is surely made. And she may dote on it now - I am sure she does - and thinks to kill me, then to take my place.

ProctorLs anger is rising; he cannot speak.

Elizabeth: It is her dearest hope, John, I know it. There be a thousand names; why does she call mine? There be a certain danger in calling such a name - I am no Goody Good that sleeps in ditches, nor Osburn, drunk and half-witted. SheNd dare not call out such a farmerNs wife but there be monstrous profit in it. She thinks to take my place, John,

Proctor: She cannot think it! He knows it is true.

Elizabeth, SreasonablyT: John, have you ever shown her some-what of contempt? She cannot pass you in the church but you will blush -

Proctor: I may blush for my sin.

Elizabeth: I think she sees another meaning in that blush.

Proctor: And what see you? What see you, Elizabeth?

62 The Crucible

Elizabeth, SconcedingT: I think you be somewhat ashamed, far I am there, and she so close.

Proctor: When will you know me, woman? Were I stone 1 would have cracked for shame this seven month!

Elizabeth: Then go and tell her sheNs a whore. Whatever promise she may sense - break it, John, break it.

Proctor, between his teeth: Good, then. INll go. He starts for his rifle.

Elizabeth, trembling, fearfully: Oh, how unwillingly!

Proctor, turning on her, ripe in hand: I will curse her hotter than the oldest cinder in hell. But pray, begrudge me not my anger!

Elizabeth: Your anger! I only ask you -

Proctor: Woman, am I so base? Do you truly think me base?

Elizabeth: I never called you base.

Proctor: Then how do you charge me with such a promise? The promise that a stallion gives a mare I gave that girl!

Elizabeth: Then why do you anger with me when I bid you break it?

Proctor: Because it speaks deceit, and I am honest! But INll plead no more! I see now your spirit twists around the single error of my life, and I will never tear it free!

Elizabeth, crying out: YouNll tear it free - when you come to know that I will be your only wife, or no wife at all! She has an arrow in you yet, John Proctor, and you know it well!

Quite suddenly, as though from the air, a figure appears in the doorway. They start slightly. 1t is Mr. Hale. He is different now - drawn a little, and there is a quality of deference, even of guilt, about his manner now.

Hale: Good evening.

Act Two


Proctor, still in his shock: Why, Mr. Hale! Good evening to you, sir. Come in, come in.

Hale, to Elizabeth: I hope I do not startle you.

Elizabeth: No, no, itNs only that I heard no horse -

Hale: You are Goodwife Proctor.

Proctor: Aye; Elizabeth.

Hale, nods, then: I hope youNre not off to bed yet.

Proctor, setting down his gun: No, no. Hale comes further into the room. And Proctor, to explain his nervousness: We are not used to visitors after dark, but youNre welcome here. Will you sit you down, sir?

Hale: I will. He sits. Let you sit, Goodwife Proctor.

She does, never letting him out of her sight. There is a pause as Hale looks about the room.

Proctor, to break the silence: Will you drink cider, Mr. Hale?

Hale: No, it rebels my stomach; I have some further traveling yet tonight. Sit you down, sir. Proctor sits. I will not keep you long, but I have some business with you.

Proctor: Business of the court?

Hale: No - no, I come of my own, without the courtNs author-ity. Hear me. He wets his lips. I know not if you are aware, but your wifeNs name is - mentioned in the court.

Proctor: We know it, sir. Our Mary Warren told us. We are entirely amazed.

Hale: I am a stranger here, as you know. And in my ignorance I find it hard to draw a clear opinion of them that come accused before the court. And so this afternoon, and now tonight, I go

64 The Crucible

from house to house - I come now from Rebecca NurseNs house and -

Elizabeth, shocked: RebeccaNs charged!

Hex,a: God forbid such a one be charged. She is, however - mentioned somewhat.

Elizabeth, with an attempt at a laugh: You will never believe, I hope, that Rebecca trafficked with the Devil.

Hale: Woman, it is possible.

Proctor: taken aback: Surely you cannot think so.

Hale: This is a strange time, Mister. No man may longer doubt the powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack upon this village. There is too much evidence now to deny it. You will agree, sir?

Proctor, evading: I - have no knowledge in that line. But itNs hard to think so pious a woman be secretly a DevilNs bitch after seventy year of such good prayer.

Hale: Aye. But the Devil is a wily one, you cannot deny it. However, she is far from accused, and I know she will not be. Pause. I thought, sir, to put some questions as to the Christian character of this house, if youNll permit me.

Proctor, coldly, resentful: Why, we - have no fear of ques-tions, sir.

Hale: Good, then. He makes himself more comfortable. In the book of record that Mr. Parris keeps, I note that you are rarely in the church on Sabbath Day.

Proctor: No, sir, you are mistaken.

Hale: Twenty-six time in seventeen month, sir. I must call that rare. Will you tell me why you are so absent?

Proctor: Mr. Hale, I never knew I must account to that man

Act Two


for I come to church or stay at home. My wife were sick this winter.

Hale: So I am told. But you, Mister, why could you not come alone?

Proctor: I surely did come when I could, and when I could not I prayed in this house.

Hale: Mr. Proctor, your house is not a church; your theology must tell you that.

Proctor: It does, sir, it does; and it tells me that a minister may pray to God without he have golden candlesticks upon the altar.

Hale: What golden candlesticks?

Proctor: Since we built the church there were pewter candle-sticks upon the altar; Francis Nurse made them, yNknow, and a sweeter hand never touched the metal. But Parris came, and for twenty week he preach nothinN but golden candlesticks until he had them. I labor the earth from dawn of day to blink of night, and I tell you true, when I look to heaven and see my money glaring at his elbows - it hurt my prayer, sir, it hurt my prayer. I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetinN houses.

Hale, thinks, then: And yet, Mister, a Christian on Sabbath Day must be in church. Pause. Tell me - you have three chil-dren?

Proctor: Aye. Boys.

Hale: How comes it that only two are baptized?

Proctor, starts 'o speak, then stops, then, as though unable to restrain this: I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of God in that man. INll not conceal it.

66 The Crucible

Hale: I must say it, Mr. Proctor; that is not for you to decide. The manNs ordained, therefore the light of God is in him.

Proctor, flushed with resentment but trying to smile: WhatNs your suspicion, Mr. Hale?

Hale; No, no, I have no -

Proctor: I nailed the roof upon the church, I hung the door -

Hale: Oh, did you! ThatNs a good sign, then.

Proctor: It may be I have been too quick to bring the man to book, but you cannot think we ever desired the destruction of religion. I think thatNs in your mind, is it not?

Hale, not altogether giving way: I - have - there is a softness in your record, sir, a softness.

Elizabeth: I think, maybe, we have been too hard with Mr. Parris. I think so. But sure we never loved the Devil here.

Hale, nods, deliberating this. Then, with the voice of one ad-ministering a secret test: Do you know your Commandments, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth, without hesitation, even eagerly: I surely do. There be no mark of blame upon my life, Mr. Hale. I am a covenanted Christian woman.

Hale: And you, Mister?

Proctor, a tripe unsteadily: I - am sure I do, sir.

Hale, glances at her open face, then at John, then: Let you re-peat them, if you will.

Proctor: The Commandments. Hale: Aye.

Proctor, looking off, beginning to sweat: Thou shalt not kill.

Hale: Aye.

Act Two


Proctor, counting on his angers: Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet thy neighborNs goods, nor make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain; thou shalt have no other gods before me. With some hesitation: Thou shalt remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Pause. Then: Thou shalt honor thy father and mother. Thou shalt not bear false witness. He is stuck. He counts back on his fingers, knowing one is missing. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

Hale: You have said that twice, sir. Proctor, lost: Aye. He is failing for it. Elizabeth, delicately: Adultery, John.

Proctor, as though a secret arrow had pained his heart: Aye. Trying to grin it away - to Hale: You see, sir, between the two of us we do know them all. Hale only looks at Proctor, deep in his attempt to define this man, Proctor grows more uneasy. I think it be a small fault.

Hale: Theology, sir, is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small. He rises; he seems worried now. He paces a little, in deep thought.

Proctor: There be no love for Satan in this house, Mister.

Hale: I pray it, I pray it dearly. He looks to both of them, an attempt at a smile on his face, but his misgivings are clear. Well, then - INll bid you good night.

Elizabeth, unable to restrain herself: Mr. Hale. He turns. I do think you are suspecting me somewhat? Are you not?

Hale, obviously disturbed - and evasive: Goody Proctor, I do not judge you. My duty is to add what I may to the godly

68 The Crucible

wisdom of the court. I pray you both good health and good fortune. To John: Good night, sir. He starts out.

Elizabeth, with a note of desperation: I think you must tell him, John. Hale: WhatNs that?

Elizabeth, restraining a call: Will you tell him?

Slight pause. Hale looks questioningly at John.

Proctor, with difficulty: I - I have no witness and cannot prove it, except my word be taken. But I know the childrenNs sickness had naught to do with witchcraft.

Hale, stopped, struck: Naught to do - ?

Proctor: Mr. Parris discovered them sportin' in the woods. They were startled and took sick.


Hale: Who told you this?

Proctor, hesitates, then: Abigail Williams. Hale: Abigail!

Proctor: Aye.

Hale, his eyes wide: Abigail Williams told you it had naught to do with witchcraft!

Proctor: She told me the day you came, sir.

Hale, suspiciously: Why - why did you keep this?

Proctor: I never knew until tonight that the world is gone daft with this nonsense.

Hale: Nonsense! Mister, I have myself examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and numerous others that have confessed to dealing with the Devil. They have confessed it.

Act Two


Proctor: And why not, if they must hang for denyinN it? There are them that will swear to anything before theyNll hang; have you never thought of that?

Hale: I have. I - I have indeed. It is his own suspicion, but he resists it. He glances at Elizabeth, then at John. And you - would you testify to this in court?

Proctor: I - had not reckoned with goinN into court. But if I must I will.

Hale: Do you falter here?

Proctor: I falter nothing, but I may wonder if my story will be credited in such a court. I do wonder on it, when such a steady-minded minister as you will suspicion such a woman that never lied, and cannot, and the world knows she cannot! I may falter somewhat, Mister; I am no fool.

Hale, quietly - it has impressed him: Proctor, let you open with me now, for I have a rumor that troubles me.' ItNs said you hold no belief that there may even be witches in the world. Is that true, sir?

Proctor - he knows this is critical, and is striving against his disgust with Hale and with himself for even answering: I know not what I have said, I may have said it. I have wondered if there be witches in the world - although I cannot believe they come among us now.

Hale: Then you do not believe -

Proctor: I have no knowledge of it; the Bible speaks of witches, and I will not deny them.

Hale: And you, woman?

Elizabeth: I - I cannot believe it.

Hale, shocked: You cannot!

70 The Crucible

Proctor: Elizabeth, you bewilder him!

Elizabeth, to Hale: I cannot think the Devil may own a womanNs soul, Mr. Hale, when she keeps an upright way, as I have. I am a good woman, I know it; and if you believe I may do only good work in the world, and yet be secretly bound to Satan, then I must tell you, sir, I do not believe it.

Hale: But, woman, you do believe there are witches in -

Elizabeth: If you think that I am one, then I say there are none.

Hale: You surely do not fly against the Gospel, the Gospel -

Proctor: She believe in the Gospel, every word!

Elizabeth: Question Abigail Williams about the Gospel, not myself!

Hale stares at her.

Proctor: She do not mean to doubt the Gospel, sir, you can-not think it. This be a Christian house, sir, a Christian house.

Hale: God keep you both; let the third child be quickly baptized, and go you without fail each Sunday in to Sabbath prayer; and keep a solemn, quiet way among you. I think -

Giles Corey appears in doorway.

Giles: John!

PRoctoR: Giles! WhatNs the matter? Giles: They take my wife.

Francis Nurse enters.

Giles: And his Rebecca!

Proctor, to Francis: RebeccaNs in the jail1

Francis: Aye, Cheever come and take her in his wagon. WeNve

Act Two


only now come from the jail, and theyNll not even let us in to see them.

Elizabeth: TheyNve surely gone wild now, Mr. Hale!

Francis, going to Hale: Reverend Hale! Can you not speak to the Deputy Governor? INm sure he mistakes these people -

Hale: Pray calm yourself, Mr. Nurse.

Francis: My wife is the very brick and mortar of the church, Mr.. Hale - indicating Giles - and Martha Corey, there cannot be a woman closer yet to God than Martha.

Hale: How is Rebecca charged, Mr. Nurse?

Francis, with a mocking, half-hearted laugh: For murder, sheNs charged! Mockingly quoting the warrant: KFor the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody PutnamNs babies.M What am I to do, Mr. Hale?

Hale, turns from Francis, deeply troubled, then: Believe me, Mr. Nurse, if Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothingNs left to stop the whole green world from burning. Let you rest upon the justice of the court; the court will send her home, I know it.

Francis: You cannot mean she will be tried in court!

Hale, pleading: Nurse, though our hearts break, we cannot flinch; these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court - the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!

Proctor, angered: How may such a woman murder children?

Hale, in great pain: Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.

GiLES: I never said my wife were a witch, Mr. Hale; I only said she were reading books!

72 The Crucible

Hale: Mr. Corey, exactly what complaint were made on your wife?

Giles: That bloody mongrel Walcott charge her. YNsee, he buy a pig of my wife four or five year ago, and the pig died soon after. So he come dancinN in for his money back. So my Martha, she says to him, KWalcott, if you havenNt the wit to feed a pig properly, youNll not live to own many,M she says. Now he goes to court and claims that from that day to this he cannot keep a pig alive for more than four weeks because my Martha bewitch them with her books!

Enter Ezekiel Cheever. A shocked silence.

CHEEvER: Good evening to you, Proctor. Proctor: Why, Mr. Cheever. Good evening.

Cheever: Good evening, all. Good evening, Mr. Hale. Proctor: I hope you come not on business of the court.

Cheever: I do, Proctor, aye. I am clerk of the court. now, yNknow.

Enter Marshal Herrick, a man in hi" early thirties, who is some-what shamefaced at the moment.

Giles: ItNs a pity, Ezekiel, that an honest tailor might have gone to Heaven must burn in Hell. YouNll burn for this, do you know it?

Cheever: You know yourself I must do as INm told. You surely know that, Giles. And INd as lief youNd not be sending me to Hell. I like not the sound of it, I tell you; I like not the sound of it. He fears Proctor, but starts to reach inside his coat. Now believe me, Proctor, how heavy be the law, all its tonnage I do carry on my back tonight. He takes out a warrant. I have a warrant for your wife.

Proctor, to Hale: You said she were not charged!

Act Two


Hale: I know nothinN of it. To Cheever: When were she charged?

Cheever: I am given sixteen warrant tonight, sir, and she is one.

Proctor: Who charged her?

Cheever: Why, Abigail Williams charge her.

Proctor: On what proof, what proof?

Cheever, looking about the room: Mr. Proctor, I have little time. The court bid me search your house, but I like not to search a house. So will you hand me any poppets that your wife may keep here?

Proctor: Poppets?

Elizabeth: I never kept no poppets, not since I were a girl.

Cheever, embarrassed, glancing toward the mantel where sits Mary WarrenLs poppet: I spy a poppet, Goody Proctor.

Elizabeth: Oh! Going for it: Why, this is MaryNs.

Cheever, shyly: Would you please to give it to me?

Elizabeth, handing it to him, asks HaLe: Has the court discov-ered a text in poppets now?

Cheever, carefully holding the poppet: Do you keep any others in this house?

PRocvoa: No, nor this one either till tonight. What signifies a poppet?

Cheever: Why, a poppet - he gingerly turns the poppet over - a poppet may signify - Now, woman, will you please to come with me?

Proctor: She will not! To Elizabeth: Fetch Mary here.

Cheever, ineptly reaching toward Elizabeth: No, no, I am for-bid to leave her from my sight.

74 The Crucible

Proctor, pushing his arm away: YouNll leave her out of sight and out of mind, Mister. Fetch Mary, Elizabeth. Elizabeth goes upstairs.

Hale: What signifies a poppet, Mr. Cheever?

Cheever, turning the poppet over in his hands: Why, they say it may signify that she - He has lifted the poppetLs skirt, and his eyes widen in astonished fear.

Why, this, this -

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