I barely heard Proctor's mad cries, for the sound of the blood thudding in my ears. The whole room seemed to swim before me as the Deputy-Governor shouted orders to the marshal. These people had gone insane and I could not help but feel responsible. In the beginning they had been so willing to accept my counsel that there were witches in Salem. Yet, now, they were too blinded by the hysteria to discern the truth in what was happening and were deaf to my pleas to see sense. What was I to do? I could stand it no longer. Without thinking, I strode across the room to the door.
"I denounce these proceedings!" I cried as I pushed through the crowd of people gathered in the sparse wooden room.
"You are pulling Heaven down and raising up a whore!" Proctor roared as the marshal seized his arm.
This whole place had clearly gone mad and I refused to be a part of it any longer.
"I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!" I slammed the door to the vestry room behind me to emphasise my disapproval.
Outside, the skies had opened as though God Himself were crying at the wretchedness happening in Salem. The icy rain stung my face like fingers tearing at my flesh and I could hear the Deputy-Governor calling out to me in a fury, but I did not turn back. I hastened to my lodging, quickly gathered my belongings and packed them into my cart. I was repulsed by the books I had once believed were weighted with truth and authority. Now I felt that they, as well as I, were laden with the responsibility for causing the condemnation of so many innocent souls.
As I readied my horse, I could hear the shouts of the villagers and the commotion they caused as they moved from the meeting house to the jail. I tried to block my ears to the sound as I steered my cart along the muddy road out of Salem. Even the slightest indent in the road seemed to be filled with dark puddles of water whose blackness was only matched by the darkness on my soul. I prayed that my cart would not catch in one of the holes, leaving me stranded in the desolation of Salem. Thankfully my horse was sure-footed as I travelled past the outlying farms. The rain pelted down upon the open fields waiting to be harvested. I tried not to think about whose fields they were and whether they would be harvested soon or left to rot.
I was grateful when the wayside gradually began to look less and less like Salem and more like the well tended farms of Beverly. I halted my cart as a lone cow ambled onto the road. I wondered if it had come all the way from Salem as I had. It stopped in the centre of the road and turned to me, staring forlornly back at Salem with its large brown eyes. The sound of its lamentful low struck at my heart. I waited for the animal to move on as tried to push the memory of Salem from my mind. However it didn't move, it just stood in the middle of the road staring blankly at me as the rain trailed down its glossy coat. The creature seemed intent on preventing me from continuing on to Beverly. I shouted at it in a vain attempt to make it move. If I was honest with myself, I was not as angry with it as I was with myself. I slumped in my seat and pulled my coat tighter around me as the wind and rain whipped at my face. The cow would move eventually.
My horse anxiously pawed at the sludge beneath its feet. I felt a moment of pity for it, but my pity was overshadowed by the sorrow I felt for the people who were to hang in Salem. In my heart I knew that I should go back and try to help them. In a moment of arrogance it crossed my mind that this troublesome cow was sign from God telling me to return to Salem. But I quickly quashed the thought. It had been my damned arrogance that had caused this mess in the first place. Had I not believed that I was some high authority on witchcraft then perhaps this never would have happened. There was nothing I could do if I returned to Salem anyway. The court was beyond reason and would not listen to me. The Deputy-Governor was resolved to hang all the accused unless they confessed their crimes and turned back to God. But how could they confess to something they had not done? They could of course lie, but had God not forbid them that in no uncertain terms? Though, did God not value life above all else? Would He damn a liar less than he who throws his life away needlessly? Yet, it was not as though I had any right to counsel them to do so, even when it would save their lives.
I looked up into the black sky, letting the rain fall onto my face and mingle with my tears of disgust. What was I to do?
With a heavy sigh I alighted from my cart and unhitched my horse. I knew I could not continue on to Beverly, but nor was I ready to face Salem so soon. I reached into my cart and uncovered my belongings, carefully collecting my well-thumbed Bible and wrapping it in cloth so it would not be damaged by the rain. As for the rest of my once beloved books, I no longer cared if they were ruined. If anything, I was irate for having bought into their false truths. I let myself be overcome with the rage I felt at them, at Salem, at myself. One by one I picked up each book and hurled them into the mud-laden ditch by the side of the road. When the last one had been thrown I had little else to do but to fall to my knees in the mud and weep as I clutched my Bible to my breast. What was I to do?
I raised my head and looked out at the fields sprawling out into the distance. Through the rain and haze I could just see the outline of the forest stretching across the horizon. I clambered to my feet and began trudging towards the silhouetted trees. I prayed God would show me the path I should take if I did as my Lord had done and went my way into the wilderness.