Scene I.—Salem Village. Living-room in Giles Corey's house. Olive Corey is spinning. Nancy Fox, the old servant, sits in the fireplace paring apples. Little Phœbe Morse, on a stool beside her, is knitting a stocking.
Phœbe (starting). What is that? Oh, Olive, what is that?
Nancy. Yes, what is that? Massy, what a clatter!
Olive (spinning). I heard naught. Be not so foolish, child. And you, Nancy, be of a surety old enough to know better.
Nancy. I trow there was a clatter in the chimbly. There 'tis again! Massy, what a screech!
Phœbe (running to Olive and clinging to her). Oh, Olive, what is it? what is it? Don't let it catch me. Oh, Olive!
Olive. I tell you 'twas naught.
Nancy. Them that won't hear be deafer than them that's born so. Massy, what a screech!
Phœbe. Oh, Olive, Olive! Don't let 'em catch me!
Olive. Nobody wants to catch you. Be quiet now, and I'll sing to you. Then you won't think you hear screeches.
Nancy. We won't, hey?
Olive. Be quiet! This folly hath gone too far. [Sings spinning song.
SPINNING SONG.“I'll tell you a story; a story of one,'Twas of a great prince whose name was King John.A great prince was he, and a man of great mightIn putting down wrong and in setting up right.To my down, down, down, derry down.”
Nancy. Massy, what screeches! [Screams violently.
Phœbe. Oh, Nancy, 'twas you screeched then.
Nancy. It wasn't me; 'twas a witch in the chimbly. (Screams again.) There, hear that, will ye? I tell ye 'twa'n't me. I 'ain't opened my mouth.
Olive. Nancy, I will bear no more of this. If you be not quiet, I will tell my mother when she comes home. Now, Phœbe, sing the rest of the song with me, and think no more of such folly. [Sings with Phœbe.“This king, being a mind to make himself merry,He sent for the Bishop of Canterbury.‘Good-morning, Mr. Bishop,’ the king did say.‘Have you come here for to live or to die?’To my down, down, down, derry down. “‘For if you can't answer to my questions three,Your head shall be taken from your body;And if you can't answer unto them all right,Your head shall be taken from your body quite.’To my down, down, down, derry down.”
Nancy (wagging her head in time to the music). I know some words that go better with that tune.
Phœbe. What are they?
Nancy. Oh, I'm forbid to tell.
Phœbe. Who forbade you to tell, Nancy?
Nancy. The one who forbade me to tell, forbade me to tell who told me.
Olive. Don't gossip, or you won't get your stints done before mother comes home.
Phœbe (sulkily). I won't finish my stint. Aunt Corey set me too long a stint. I won't. Oh, there she is now! [Knits busily.
Enter Ann Hutchins.
Olive (rising). Well done, Ann. I was but now wishing to see you. Sit you down and lay off your cloak. Why, how pale you look, Ann! Are you sick?
Ann. You know best.
Olive. I? Why, what mean you, Ann?
Ann. You know what I mean, in spite of your innocent looks. Oh, open your eyes wide at me, if you want to! Perhaps you don't know what makes them bigger and bluer than they used to be....