Which Witch
By: Dawn DeBraal

Imprisoned, accused. Selma was now facing a trial that was a sham. The girls she used to be friends with were jealous of her and feigned illness whenever she walked by. They fainted to the ground, pointing fingers and accusing Selma of being a witch.

Salem, Ma. was a dangerous place to be accused of being a witch. Selma felt the girls chose her because Jacob Lautry had his eyes on her. She had feelings for him, but Cassandra Weller grew jealous and started hyperventilating when Selma walked by.

"I can't breathe. Selma Turner is taking my breath away." Cassandra shouted as she fainted on the ground.

"Cassie, stop it. Do not make a joke of this. It is dangerous." Selma tried to pull her friend from the ground, but Cassie played it up, struggling to breathe. Cassie's sister, Amanda came walking by seeing her sister. She, too, dropped down to her knees, clutching her chest. The Reverend Wilson walked by, seeing the display pulling Selma away, and the girls miraculously recovered. When he walked toward them, they both fell to the ground gasping.

"Selma, it would seem you are possessed," the Reverend said to her. "I must take you in."

"Reverend, those girls are acting. They are jealous of me because Jacob Lautry has professed his love for me."

"Nonsense, you are too young to marry anyone. You must have put him under a spell." The Reverend pulled her to the town hall.

"Reverend?" The magistrate looked up from working on the papers at his desk.

"We have here a witch, your honor. Or so the Mandel sisters say."

"Selma?" the magistrate moved his glasses down his nose to look at the girl. He did not see a witch, only a frightened girl.

"Your Honor, I am no witch. The sisters are play-acting. They are jealous of me because Jacob Lautry has expressed his interest in me when we come of age."

"Interesting. Reverend? What do you say to this?"

"Your Honor, I took Selma away, and the girls recovered, but when we walked by, their breath was again taken from them. They fainted on the spot. When I took this girl away again, they recovered."

"Do you think the Mandel sisters could be acting? We've had many witches infest our little town of late. Are people finding a way to get back at each other by claiming someone is a witch? We must get to the bottom of this."

"Your Honor, this young girl has swayed you. You take her side against two fine young ladies that claim she has taken their breath."

"Then we must have a trial to get to the bottom of this,"

"Agreed, your honor," he then turned to Selma. "I will release you to your mother for the time being. In three days, we will hold a trial."

"Yes, your honor." Selma bowed deeply and left the hall. She was petrified, for Selma was all her mother had after her father died. They were seamstresses and launderers, which is how they made their money.

"Selma, where have you been?" Her mother scolded when she got back to her home.

"I have been accused of being a witch by the Mandel sisters. The magistrate is holding a trial in three days." Her mother burst into tears.

"I am returning their mending. I will take none of the Mandel's blood money."

"Mother, we need to eat. I will think of something.

On the day of the trial, the Mandel sisters showed up in clean clothes that were newly mended. Selma was told to seat herself next to the judge.

"Selma, are you a witch?"

"No, your honor, but I feel the Mandel sisters are, and to detract from their practice, they have named me." Just then, Jacob Lautry came into the hall with a bloodhound.

"What is the meaning of this!" The magistrate stood up, reprimanding Jacob.

"I have a trained hound from the next village. He can sniff out the witch!" A titter of excitement ran through the crowd.

"Alright, Cassie and Amanda Mandel, as well as Selma, stand before this judgment.

The sisters looked frightened as they walked meekly to the magistrate's bench. Selma stood up from the chair and lined up with the sisters.

"Alright Jacob, how does the dog determine someone is a witch."

"He has been trained by a well-known hunter of witches and will bark at the one who is possessed. Duke, root out the true witch." Jacob took the dog off its leash. Duke sauntered up to Selma first, sniffing her, and walked by. Next, he sniffed Cassie and barked menacingly at her and again at her sister, Amanda. The crowd gasped.

"You see, your honor, Selma is not the witch. It is Cassie and Amanda who are the witches."

"I hereby order the witches to be burned at stake immediately." The Mandel's begged for their daughters. The crowd, stirred by the convincing evidence, dragged the girls to the town square where the wood had been piled high in anticipation of Selma Turner's burning. The sisters begged for forgiveness that they hadn't meant to accuse their former friend. It was a joke.

Selma couldn't watch. She left the chanting townspeople and went home to resume washing and mending. Jacob came by, and Selma smiled at him.

"I don't know how you did it, but you were able to convince the magistrate. How did you know that Duke would choose those two and not you?

"I sewed a bit of meat in the hems of their dresses." Selma laughed. Thank you for finding that dog. He is a lifesaver. Jacob hugged his intended.

"I need to get him back. I will come to see you later."

"Goodbye, Jacob. Thank you." Selma saw him off and then stirred the cauldron with the boiling water meant to clean clothes. Instead, she put a hair from her beloved into the hot water, dumping a few other potions into the mix.

"Let Jacob Lautry see; he only has eyes for me," she incanted. The potion needed to be stronger. This time she had a lock of Jacob's hair.

A whoosh of flames shot out from beneath the cauldron, with a puff of smoke rising to the little cottage's ceiling. Selma sighed in resignation.

Jacob Lautry had a roving eye. The Mandel sisters were just one of many Selma would have to deal with if she were to keep him as her man.

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