DANFORTH: Then you tell me that you sat in my court, callously lying, when you knew that people would hang by your evidence? (She does not answer.) Answer me!
MARY WARREN, almost inaudibly: I did, sir.
DANFORTH: How were you instructed in your life? Do you not know that God damns all liars? (She cannot speak.) Or is it now that you lie?
MARY WARREN: No, sir—I am with God now.
DANFORTH: You are with God now.
MARY WARREN: Aye, sir.
DANFORTH, containing himself: I will tell you this—you are either lying now, or you were lying in the court, and in either case you have committed perjury and you will go to jail for it. You cannot lightly say you lied, Mary. Do you know that?
MARY WARREN: I cannot lie no more. I am with God, I am with God.
DANFORTH: These will be sufficient. Sit you down, children. (Silently they sit.) Your friend, Mary Warren, has given us a deposition. In which she swears that she never saw familiar spirits, apparitions, nor any manifest of the Devil. She claims as well that none of you have not seen these things either. (Slight pause.) Now, children, this is a court of law. The law, based upon the Bible, and the Bible, writ by Almighty God, forbid the practice of witchcraft, and described death as the penalty thereof. But likewise, children, the law and Bible damn all bearers of false witness. (Slight pause.) Now then. It does not escape me that this deposition may be devised to blind us; it may well be that Mary Warren has been conquered by Satan, who sends her here to distract our sacred purpose. If so, her neck will break for it. But if she speak true, I bid you now drop your guile and confess your pretense, for a quick confession will go easier with you. (Pause.) Abigail Williams, rise. (Abigail slowly rises.) Is there any truth in this?
ABIGAIL: No, sir.
DANFORTH, thinks, glances at Mary, then back to Abigail: Children, a very augur bit will now be turned into your souls until your honesty is proved. Will either of you change your positions now, or do you force me to hard questioning?
ABIGAIL: I have naught to change, sir. She lies. (III.256-263; 266-269)
Mary asserts that she is telling the truth, but without Abigail’s confirmation, it is one person’s word against another’s. The court had assumed all along that the girls were telling the truth, and now it has too much invested to take only one girl’s word over all the others. Its justice rests upon the fact that Abigail and the other girls are telling the truth. It has, in effect, given over its power to Abigail.