Proctor, angrily, bewildered: And what signifies a needle!
Cheever, his hands shaking: Why, this go hard with her, Proc-tor, this - I had my doubts, Proctor, I had my doubts, but hereNs' calamity. To Hale, showing theneedle: You see it, sir, it is a needle!
Hale: Why? What meaninN has it?
Cheever, wide-eyed, trembling: The girl, the Williams girl, Abi-gail Williams, sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend ParrisNs house tonight, and without word nor warninN she falls to the floor. Like a struck beast, he says, and screamed a scream that a bull would weep to hear. And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out. And demandinN of her how she come to be so stabbed, she - to Proctor now - testify it -were your wifeNs familiar spirit pushed it in.
Proctor: Why, she done it herself! To Hale: I hope youNre not takinN this for proof, Mister!
Hale, struck by the proof, is silent.
Cheever: NTis hard proof! To Hale: I find here a poppet Goody Proctor keeps. I have found it, sir. And in the belly of the poppet a needleNs stuck. I tell you true, Proctor, I never warranted to see such proof of Hell, and I bid you obstruct me not, for I -
Enter Elizabeth with Mary Warren. Proctor, seeing Mary War-ren, draws her by the arm to Hale.
Proctor: Here now! Mary, how did this poppet come into my house?
Mary Warren, frightened for herself, her voice very small: What poppetNs that, sir?
Proctor, impatiently, pointing at the doll in CheeverLs hand: This poppet, this poppet.
Mary Warren, evasively, looking at it: Why, I - I think it is mine.
Proctor: It is your poppet, is it not?
Mary Warren, not understanding the direction of this: It - is, sir.
Proctor: And how did it come into this house?
Mary Warren, glancing about at the avid faces: Why - I made it in the court, sir, and - give it to Goody Proctor tonight.
Proctor, to Hale: Now, sir - do you have it?
Hale: Mary Warren, a needle have been found inside this poppet.
Mary Warren, bewildered: Why, I meant no harm by it, sir.
Proctor, quickly: You stuck that needle in yourself?
Mary Warren: I - I believe I did, sir, I -
76 The Crucible Proctor: to Hale: What say you now?
Hale, watching Mary Warren closely: Child, you are certain this be your natural memory? May it be, perhaps, that someone conjures you even now to say this?
Mary Warren: Conjures me? Why, no, sir, I am entirely my-self, I think. Let you ask Susanna Walcott - she saw me sewinN it in court. Or better still: Ask Abby, Abby sat beside me when I made it.
Proctor, to Hale, of Cheever: Bid him begone. Your mind is surely settled now. Bid him out, Mr. Hale.
Elizabeth: What signifies a needle?
Hale: Mary - you charge a cold and cruel murder on Abigail.
Mary Warren: Murder! I charge no -
Hale: Abigail were stabbed tonight; a needle were found stuck into her belly -
Elizabeth: And she charges me?
Elizabeth, her breath knocked out: Why - ! The girl is mur-der! She must be ripped out of the world!
Cheever, pointing at Elizabeth: YouNve heard that, sir! Ripped out of the world! Herrick, you heard it!
Proctor, suddenly snatching the warrant out of CheeverLs hands: Out with you.
Cheever: Proctor, you dare not touch the warrant.
Proctor, ripping the warrant: Out with you!
Cheever: YouNve ripped the Deputy GovernorNs warrant, man!
Proctor: Damn the Deputy Governor! Out of my house!
Hale: Now, Proctor, Proctor!
PRoctoR: Get yNgone with them! You are a broken minister. Hale: Proctor, if she is innocent, the court -
Proctor: If she is innocent! Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as GodNs fingers? INll tell you whatNs walking Salem - vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrantNs vengeance! INll not give my wife to vengeance!
Elizabeth: INll go, John - Proctor: You will not go!
Herrick: I have nine men outside. You cannot keep her. The lair binds me, John, I cannot budge.
Proctor, to Hale, ready to break him: Will you see her taken? Hale: Proctor, the court is just -
Proctor: Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your hands of this!
Elizabeth: John - I think I must go with them. He cannot bear to look at her. Mary, there is bread enough for the morning; you will bake, in the afternoon. Help Mr. Proctor as you were his daughter - you owe me that, and much more. She is fighthing her weeping.To Proctor: When the children wake, speak noth-ing of witchcraft - it will frightenthem. She cannot go on.
Proctor: I will bring you home. I will bring you soon. Elizabeth: Oh, John, bring me soon!
78 The Crucible
Proctor: I will fall like an ocean on that court! Pear nothing, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, with great fear: I will fear nothing. She looks about the room, asthough to fix it in her mind. Tell the children I have gone to visit someone sick.
.She walks out the door, Herrick and Cheever behind her. For a moment, Proctor watches from the doorway. The clank of chain is heard.
PRoctoR: Herrick! Herrick, donNt chain her! He rushes out the door. Fromoutside: Damn you, man, you will not chain her! Off with them! INll not have it!I will not have her chained!
There are other men's voices against his. Hale, in a fever of guilt and uncertainty, turns from the door to avoid the sight; Mary Warren bursts into tears and sits weeping. Giles Corey calls to Hale.
Giles: And yet silent, minister? It is fraud, you know it is fraud! %hat keeps you, man?
Proctor is half braced, half pushed into the room by two deputies and Herrick.
Proctor: INll pay you, Herrick, I will surely pay you!
Herrick, panting: In GodNs name, John, I cannot help myself. I must chain them all. Now let you keep inside this house till 1 am gone! He goes out with hisdeputies.
Proctor stands there, gulping air. Horses and a wagon creak-ing are heard.
Hale, in great uncertainty: Mr. Proctor - Proctor: Out of my sight!
Hale: Charity, Proctor, charity. What I have heard in her favor, I will not fear to testify in court. God help me, I cannot
judge her guilty or innocent - I know not. Only this consider: the world goes mad, and it profit nothing you should lay the cause to the vengeance of a little girl.
Proctor: You are a coward! Though you be ordained in GodNs own tears, you are a coward now!
Hale: Proctor, I cannot think God be provoked so grandly by such a petty cause. The jails are packed - our greatest judges sit in Salem now - and hanginNs promised. Man, we must look to cause proportionate. Were there murder done, perhaps, and never brought to light? Abomination? Some secret blasphemy that stinks to Heaven? Think on cause, man, and let you help me to discover it. For thereNs your way, believe it, there is your only way, when such confusion strikes upon the world. He goes to Giles andFrancis. Let you counsel among yourselves; think on your village and what may havedrawn from heaven such thundering wrath upon you all. I shall pray God open up our eyes.
Hale goes out.
Francis, struck by HateLs mood: I never heard no murder done in Salem.
Proctor - he has been reached by HaleLs words: Leave me, Francis, leave me. Giles, shaken: John - tell me, are we lost?
Proctor: Go home now, Giles, WeNll speak on it tomorrow. Giles: Let you think on it. WeNll come early, eh?
Proctor: Aye. Go now, Giles. Giles: Good night, then.
Giles Corey goes out. After a moment:
Mary Warren, in a fearful squeak of n voice: Mr. Proctor,
80 The Crucible
very likely theyNll let her come home once theyNre given proper evidence.
Proctor: YouNre coming to the court with me, Mary. You will tell it in the court,
Mary Warren: I cannot charge murder on Abigail.
Proctor, moving menacingly toward her: You will tell the court how that poppet come here and who stuck the needle in.
Mary Warren: SheNll kill me for sayinN that! Proctor continues toward her. AbbyNll charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor!
Proctor, halting: SheNs told you!
Mary Warren: I have known it, sir. SheNll ruin you with it, I know she will.
Proctor, hesitating, and with deep hatred of himself: Good. Then her saintliness is done with. Mary backs from him. We will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court what you know.
Mary Warren, in terror: I cannot, theyNll turn on me -
Proctor strides and catches her, and she is repeating, SI cannot, I cannot!T
Proctor: My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me!
Mary Warren, struggling to escape him: I cannot do it, I cannot!
Proctor, grasping her by the throat as though he would strangle her: Make your peace with it! Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped away - make your peace! He throws her to the poor, where she sobs, "I cannot, Icannot...T And now, half to himself, staring, and
turning to the open door: Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what wealways were, but naked now. He walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky.
e, naked! And the wind, GodNs icy wind, will blow!
And she is over and over again sobbing, SI cannot, I cannot, l cannot,T as
THE CURTAIN FALLS*
*Act II, Scene 2, which appeared in the original production, was dropped by the author from the published reading version, the Collected Plays, and all Compass editions prior to 1971. It has not been included in most prodluctions subsequent to the revival at New YorkNs Martinique Theatre in o 1958 and was dropped by Sir Laurence Olivier in his London production in 1965. it is included here as an appendix on page 148.
The vestry room of the Salem meeting house, now serving as the anteroom of the General Court.
As the curtain rises, the room is empty, but for sunlight pouring through two high windows in the back wall. The room is solemn, even forbidding. Heavy beams jut out, boards of random widths make up the walls. At the right are two doors leading into the meeting house proper, where the court is being held. At the left another door leads outside.
There is a plain bench at the left, and another at the right. In the center a rather long meeting table, with stools and a con-siderable armchair snugged up to it.
Through the partitioning wall at the right we hear a prosecutorLs voice, Judge HathorneLs, asking a question; then a womanLs voice, Martha CoreyLs, replying.
Hathorne's Voice: Now, Martha Corey, there is abundant evidence in our hands to show that you have given yourself to the reading of fortunes, Do you deny it?
MARTHA CoREyNs Voice: I am innocent to a witch. I know not what a witch is.
84 The Crucible
HATHoRNENs Voice: How do you know, then, that you are not a witch?
Martha CoreyNs Voice: If I were, I would know it.
HATHoRNENs Voice: Why do you hurt these children?
Martha CoreyNs Voice: I do not hurt them. I scorn it!
GilesN Voice, roaring: I have evidence for the court!
Voices of townspeople rise in excitement.
DanforthNs Voice: You will keep your seat!
Giles Voice: Thomas Putnam is reaching out for land!
DanforthNs Voice: Remove that man, Marshal!
GilesN Voice: YouNre hearing lies, lies!
A roaring goes up from the people.
HathorneNs Voice: Arrest him, excellency!
GilesN Voice: I have evidence. Why will you not hear my evi-dence?
The door opens and Giles is half carried into the vestry room by Herrick.
Giles: Hands off, damn you, let me go! Herrick: Giles, Giles!
Giles: Out of my way, Herrick! I bring evidence - Herrick: You cannot go in there, Giles; itNs a court!
Enter Hale from the court.
Hale: Pray be calm a moment.
Giles: You, Mr. Hale, go in there and demand I speak. Hale: A moment, sir, a moment.
Act Three Giles: TheyNll be hanginN my wife!
Judge Hathorne enters. He is in his sixties, a bitter, remorseless Salem judge.
Hathorne: How do you dare come roarinN into this court! Are you gone daft, Corey?
Giles: YouNre not a Boston judge yet, Hathorne. YouNll not call me daft!
Enter Deputy Governor Danforth and, behind him, Ezekiel Cheever and Parris. On his appearance, silence falls. Danforth is a grave man in his sixties, of some humor and sophistication that does not, however, interfere with an exact loyalty to his position and his cause. He comes down to Giles, who awaits his wrath.
Danforth, looking directly at Giles: Who is this man?
pARRIS: Giles Corey, sir, and a more contentious -
Giles, to Parris: I am asked the question, and I am old enough to answer it! ToDanforth, who impresses him and to whom he smiles through his strain: Myname is Corey, sir, Giles Corey. I have six hundred acres, and timber in addition. It is my wife you be condemning now. He indicates the courtroom.
Danforth: And how do you imagine to help her cause with such contemptuous riot? Now be gone. Your old age alone keeps you out of jail for this.
Giles, beginning to plead: They be tellinN lies about my wife, sir, I -
Danforth: Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside?
Giles: Your Excellency, we mean no disrespect for - Danforth: Disrespect indeed! It is disruption, Mister. This is
86 The Crucible
the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know it?
GiLES, beginning to weep: Your Excellency, I only said she were readinN books, sir, and they come and take her out of my house for -
Danforth, mystified: Books! What books?
Giles, through helpless sobs: It is my third wife, sir; I never had no wife that be so taken with books, and I thought to find the cause of it, dNyNsee, but it were no witch I blamed her for. He is openly weeping. I have broke charity with the woman, I have broke charity with her. He covers his face, ashamed. Dan-forthis respectfully silent.
Hale: Excellency, he claims hard evidence for his wifeNs de-fense. I think thatin all justice you must -
Danforth: Then let him submit his evidence in proper affidavit. You are certainly aware of our procedure here, Mr. Hale. To Herrick: Clear this room.
HERRiCK: Come now, Giles, He gently pushes Corey out.
Francis: We are desperate, sir; we come here three days now and cannot be heard.
Danforth: Who is this man?
Francis: Francis Nurse, Your Excellency.
Hale: His wifeNs Rebecca that were condemned this morning.
Danforth: Indeed! I am amazed to find you in such uproar; I have only good report of your character, Mr. Nurse.
Hathorne: I think they must both be arrested in contempt, sir.
Danforth, to Francis: Let you write your plea, and in due time I will -
Francis: Excellency, we have proof for your eyes; God forbid you shut them to it. The girls, sir, the girls are frauds.
Danforth: WhatNs that?
FRANcis: We have proof of it, sir. They are all deceiving you.
Danforth is shocked, but studying Francis.
Hathorne: This is contempt, sir, contempt!
Danforth: Peace, Judge Hathorne. Do you know who I am, Mr. Nurse?
Francis: I surely do, sir, and I think you must be a wise judge to be what you are.
Danforth: And do you know that near to four hundred are in the jails from Marblehead to Lynn, and upon my signature?
Francis: I -
Danforth: And seventy-two condemned to hang by that signature?
Francis: Excellency, I never thought to say it to such a weighty judge, but you are deceived.
Enter Giles Corey from left. All turn to see as he beckons in Mary Warren with Proctor. Mary is keeping her eyes to the ground; Proctor has her elbow as though she were near collapse.
Danforth: Ah? And the other girls? Susanna Walcott, and - the others? They are also pretending?
Mary Warren: Aye, sir.
Danforth, wide-eyed: Indeed. Pause. He is baffled by this. He turns to studyProctorLs face.
Parris, in a sweat: Excellency, you surely cannot think to let so vile a lie be spread in open court!
Danforth: Indeed not, but it strike hard upon me that she will dare come here with such a tale. Now, Mr. Proctor, before I decide whether I shall hear you or not, it is my duty to tell you this. We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment.
Proctor: I know that, sir.
Danforth: Let me continue. I understand well, a husbandNs tenderness may drive him to extravagance in defense of a wife. Are you certain in your conscience, Mister, that your evidence is the truth?
Proctor: It is. And you will surely know it.
Danforth: And you thought to declare this revelation in the open court before the public?
Proctor: I thought I would, aye - with your permission.
Danforth, his eyes narrowing: Now, sir, what is your purpose in so doing?
90 The Crucible
PRoctoR: Why, I - I would free my wife, sir.
Danforth: There lurks nowhere in your heart, nor hidden in your spirit, any desire to undermine this court?
Proctor, with the faintest faltering: Why, no, sir.
Cheever, clears his throat, awakening: I - Your Excellency.
Danforth: Mr. Cheever.
Cheever: I think it be my duty, sir - Kindly, to Proctor: YouNll not deny it, John. To Danforth: When we come to take his wife, he damned the court and rippedyour warrant.
Parris: Now you have it!
Danforth: He did that, Mr. Hale?
Hale, takes a breath: Aye, he did.
Proctor: It were a temper, sir. I knew not what I did.
Danforth, studying him: Mr. Proctor.
Proctor: Aye, sir.
Danforth, straight into his eyes: Have you ever seen the Devil?
Proctor: No, sir.
Danforth: You are in all respects a Gospel Christian?
Proctor: I am, sir.
Parris: Such a Christian that will not come to church but once in a month!
Danforth, restrained - he is curious: Not come to church?
Proctor: I - I have no love for Mr. Parris. It is no secret. But God I surely love.
Cheever: He plow on Sunday, sir.
Danforth: Plow on Sunday!
Cheever, apologetically: I think it be evidence, John. I am an official of the court, I cannot keep it.
Proctor: I - I have once or twice plowed on Sunday. I have three children, sir, and until last year my land give little.
Giles: YouNll find other Christians that do plow on Sunday if the truth be known.
Hale: Your Honor, I cannot think you may judge the man on such evidence.
Danforth: I judge nothing. Pause. He keeps watching Proctor, who tries to meethis gaze. I tell you straight, Mister - I have seen marvels in this court. I haveseen people choked before my eyes by spirits; I have seen them stuck by pins and slashed by daggers. I have until this moment not the slightest reason to sus-pect that the children may be deceiving me. Do you 'understand my meaning?
Proctor: Excellency, does it not strike upon you that so many of these women have lived so long with such upright reputation, and -
PARRis: Do you read the Gospel, Mr. Proctor? Proctor: I read the Gospel.
PARRIs: I think not, or you should surely know that Cain were an upright man, and yet he did kill Abel.
Proctor: Aye, God tells us that. To Danforth: But who tells us Rebecca Nurse murdered seven babies by sending out her spirit on them? It is the children only, and this one will swear she lied to you.
Danforth considers, then beckons Hathorne to him. Hathorne leans in, and he speaks in his ear. Hathorne nods.
92 The Crucible
Hathorne: Aye, sheNs the one.
Danforth: Mr. Proctor, this morning, your wife send me a claim in which she states that she is pregnant now.
Proctor: My wife pregnant!
Danforth: There be no sign of it - we have examined her body.