It's June and time for the Court of Oyer and Terminer to get crackin.
The first person up is Bridget Bishop. She's a gal who sports a red bodice (that's a wee bit too saucy for the Puritans), and she's found guilty. Susanna isn't at the trial, but Joseph tells her the totally tragic tale.
It only gets worse for poor Bridget, and on June 10, she is hanged on Gallows Hill. (Sadly, this is actually what happened to the real Bridget Bishop back in 1692.) Susanna watches and is super upset.
As they are leaving, Susanna runs into Goody Bibber. (For a refresher, Goody Bibber is the lady Susanna chatted with outside the parsonage at the start of the book. Hop back to Chapter 1 to check it out, and then come right on back.) These days, Goody Bibber is sort of part of the circle of lying girls, keeping close but not really part of the inner clique.
And Goody B has a warning for Susanna: she points to Bridget hanging and asks our gal: "How many others will swing on it, hey?" (18.42). Can you say creepy?
Goody B also admits that she's lying about the so-called witches, but she says that the judges have given the afflicted girls power to say whatever they want. Now that's a scary thought.
Susanna doesn't know what to do. She remembers Mary Warren and how her attempt to tell the truth totally went down the toilet; another girl, Sarah Churchill, tried to do the same thing and failed.
So Susanna figures her best bet is to tell Joseph and Elizabeth and gets all set to spill the beans, but chickens out. She learns that the judges are getting pretty confused by all this witch stuff, so figures it's not a huge deal if she's confused too.
One of the big issues on the table these days in Salem is spectral evidence (a.k.a. evidence of ghosts and shapes that only the supposedly afflicted girls can see). A bunch of ministers in Boston decide that it's not cool to take spectral evidence too seriously.
But back in Salem, five more gals are tried and all found guilty. Looks like spectral evidence is still all the rage in this town.
One of these guilty ladies is Rebecca Nurse, but she gets off the hook for now. Susanna realizes she better hurry up and tell Joseph what she knows before the others are killed.
But it's not Susanna's lucky day. Joseph is spending a lot of time in Andover because there's a witch craze starting there now too. Good grief, right?
And just in case you need another downer, some folks tell Governor Phips that Rebecca Nurse was sending devils to kill the afflicted girls, so now she's set to hang again.
On July 19, all five of the so-called witches are hanged: Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Sarah Wild, Susannah Martin, and Elizabeth How. You can bet that Susanna feels just awful at this point.
That night, when Joseph comes home, Susanna says they need to talk.