The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Witch of Blackbird Pond Chapter 19 Summary
- The sun comes up and the constable’s wife visits the shed. She has at least a little pity for Kit’s situation, saying that “’tis no place for a female, witch or no” (19.2). She brings mush and helps Kit get cleaned up for the trip to the Town House where she will be examined.
- A little later Kit is walked to the Town House by the constable and a few other men where she finds a room full of people a table where the magistrate (Captain Samuel Talcott) is seated with a group of men, including Uncle Matthew. Also present are Reverend John Woodbridge and Gersholm Bulkeley.
- Captain Talcott calls the room to order and reads the charges against Kit: she is accused of consorting with Satan and for this she must die. Specifically, she has befriended a witch (Hannah Tupper) and brought illness to the children of the town.
- Having read the formal charges, Captain Talcott addresses Kit with a series of questions. Does she know Hannah? Yes. Does she know Hannah’s cat? Yes. Has she cast enchantments? Um, no.
- A list of various spells and enchantments that she has cast on the townspeople are then are brought up. There is the spell she cast on Goodman Whittlesley’s cattle, the evil eye she gave a woman that ruined her sewing, and an accusation that she had danced around a bonfire with Hannah and “a great black man,” presumably the devil himself (19.31).
- As the increasingly ludicrous (ridiculous) evidence mounts, Uncle Matthew objects. He vouches for Kit’s character, though admits that she has been disobedient. He blames this on her education. He swears, though, that she is no witch.
- Dr. Bulkeley is consulted, and he says that the “legality” of the accusations is pretty questionable (19.44).
- At this point Goodman Cruff, prodded by his wife, produces a piece of evidence that actually bears some weight. He presents the little copybook that Prudence copied her name in repeatedly at Hannah’s house.
- The magistrate is taken aback. He asks Kit about the book and she says that she is the one who copied the name over and over, so as not to get Prudence in trouble. He asks her why, but she refuses to tell him. Again, she is protecting Prudence.
- Kit’s refusal to answer sends the room into a frenzy. Some yell that she should be put to the water test. Captain Talcott calls for order and says that the case will be sent to Hartford before the General session.
- Just then, a surprise witness enters the courtroom. Who could it be? It’s Nat! Kit feels a wave of relief. And who is walking in with him? Little Prudence! The relief is gone. Kit cries out that she (Kit) is guilty, and to leave the child alone. Kit is shushed by the magistrate who wishes to hear what Prudence has to say.
- With Captain Talcott questioning her, Prudence tells the magistrate that Kit is her teacher and taught her to write at Hannah Tupper’s house in the Meadow. Prudence copied her own name in the book over and over.
- Goodwife Cruff exclaims that the child must be bewitched, but Prudence proves herself by copying her name for the magistrate. Goodman Cruff watches on in awe.
- Goodwife Cruff again questions that Prudence can even read – and if she can it’s probably spells. When asked what she can read, Prudence says the Bible. She then reads a few passages selected by Bulkeley.
- Goodwife Cruff insists that it’s some kind of trick, but Goodman Cruff finally stands up for his daughter. He’s happy she can read and tells his wife to hold her tongue.
- Goodman Cruff withdraws the charges against Kit. Still angry, Goodwife Cruff sets her eyes on Nat and says that he should be whipped since he was banned from the town already. The magistrate considers remitting the sentence, but Nat has already slipped out the door.
- Prudence tells Kit that Nat had a little pinnace (boat) hidden on the riverbank – and that he told Prudence to say goodbye to Kit if he had to make a quick exit.
- Kit tells Prudence how grateful she is. Goodman Cruff tells Kit that he’ll send Prudence to her school next year. The magistrate offers to press charges of slander against Goodwife Cruff in Kit’s name, but Matthew Wood, wishing to put an end to the ordeal, declines the offer.