The Sacrificeby Kathleen Benner Duble
In the year 1692, life changes forever for ten-year-old Abigail Faulkner and her family. In Salem, Massachusetts, witches have been found, and widespread fear and panic reign mere miles from Abigail's home of Andover. When two girls are brought from Salem to identify witches in Andover, suspicion sweeps the town as well-respected members of the community are accused of witchcraft. It isn't long before chaos consumes Andover, and the Faulkners find themselves in the center of it all when friend turns themselves in the center of it all when friend turns against friend, neighbor against neighbor, in a desperate fight for the truth. At the heart of this gripping story are Abigail and her sister, Dorothy, who together must find a way to persevere during a period marked by terror, adversity, and ignorance.
Told from Abigail's point of view and based on actual events in the author's own family histoy, The Sacrifice offers a unique perspective of the Salem witch trials by delving into the devestating effects the trials had not just in Salem but throughout Massachusetts.
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- SIMON & SCHUSTER
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- File size:
- 187 KB
- Age Range:
- 10 - 14 Years
Read an Excerpt
They will not see me move. They will not see me move," Abigail whispered to herself, although her whole body cried out to shift her legs and ease the pain as she sat straight and still in the stocks. Her legs burned and her backside ached, but she remained determined. She kept her head held high, even when a cold mist developed, sending shivers through her body. Even when her cousin Steven, who had teased her into lifting her skirts and racing him in the first place, came and grinned at her. Even when Goody Sprague walked past and stared at her with disdain. Abigail did not move. She did not even blink an eye. She wouldn't.
Abby did not for an instant believe it was evil for a girl to take pleasure in running and having her legs free. If she wasn't meant to race, why had the Lord given her those legs in the first place?
Her right thigh begin to twitch. She tightened the muscles with all her might and gritted her teeth.
"They will not see me move. They will not see me move," she continued to whisper to herself.
Rain was now dribbling down her back, snaking its way between her shoulder blades, cold and wet. Abby sat up straighter.
The parchment paper sign, sinner, that hung about her neck grew damp and clung to her bodice. Cold crept into her hands, which lay clasped in her lap. With her feet locked into place and her legs stretched straight out in front of her with no support, Abby felt strained beyond enduring. She willed herself to see her limbs in the wooden holes as if they were someone else's, removed from the pain.
It felt as if days had passed, though Abigail knew her sentence was only six hours. She was hungry, yet this made her more determined. She lifted her head higher and peered out into the growing darkness, watching lights appear as each house in the village lit its candles.
At last, just when she felt as if she couldn't stand it any longer, they came: four of the town elders and Abigail's grandfather, Reverend Dane.
Abigail looked straight into Grandpappy's eyes. She regretted having shamed him, but she was not sorry for the racing. Surely he had mistaken the words of the Lord if he believed that she was a sinner. Abby knew that she flew like the angels when she ran.
"Your punishment is complete, Abigail Faulkner," Justice Bradstreet said. "Release her."
The others lifted the bar of the stocks. Abby stared at the men, and left her legs there. She would not move until they had left. She was not about to let them see her shake and perhaps fall as she attempted to stand on her stiff and weak legs.
"Are you not yet repentant, Abigail?" asked Elder Stevens in wonder.
Abby saw Grandpappy's face turn scarlet at her refusal to move. She knew he would not like how she was about to answer Elder Stevens. Abigail thrust forth her chin and prepared to speak.
But she was saved from saying anything by the arrival of her mother. Mama came from the shadows and descended upon them, her face stern and drawn.
"Please, good sirs, leave me to tend to her," she said. "The child will sicken if we leave her here much longer. Can you not discuss saving her soul in more tolerable weather? Let me take her home now."
The elders grumbled but finally turned and left for their own homes, warm fires, and suppers.
"You are too easy on her, Hannah," Grandpappy said.
"Not now, Father," Mama said. "We can discuss this at a later time."
Grandpappy grunted. He gave Abby one last look, then headed off into the darkness.
Mama turned toward her daughter. Her eyes searched Abigail's, but she said nothing. Quickly, she leaned down and began to rub Abby's legs until Abby began to feel them again. The sensation was painful, and Abigail had to bite her lip to stop from crying out.
Mama leaned over and put her arms around her daughter. "Can you move your legs?"
Abigail lifted first one leg, and then the other to the ground. Pain tore through each one as she moved them from the stocks.
"I fear I may not make it home, Mama," she whispered.
Mama lifted Abigail slightly. "I'll wager you'll do it, Bear. But rise slowly now."
At the sound of Mama's nickname for her, Abby blinked back tears. She remembered the day her mother had first called her that. She was only five years old, and a big black bear had wandered into their garden. Abigail had just finished her daily weeding when she saw the bear rooting around, tearing up the garden she had just put in order.
"Get out of here!" Abigail had yelled, bringing her mother to the door.
"Abby," her mother had said softly, gesturing furiously at her. "Come slowly here, child. Back away from him."
"I will not," Abby had replied angrily, picking up a stick. "Get out, you old bear!"
"Abigail, stop," her mother whispered. "You'll make him angry."
But Abigail would not stop. She banged that stick against the wooden gate of the garden, attracting the bear's attention, then moved slowly toward him. She hit the stick again, continuing to move toward the bear and the garden gate. Finally, the bear backed away, then fled into the woods.
"Abby," her mother said, running forward and clutching her daughter to her. "Are you mad? Don't you ever do that again!"
"I will," Abby had said fiercely. "I'm not about to hoe this garden twice for any old bear."
Her mother had laughed and kissed her daughter. "You are fierce enough to be part bear yourself, child," she had said.
Thinking of this memory, Abigail willed herself to be courageous now. But her legs ached terribly, and the tears threatened.
"Steady," Mama whispered. "'Tis not seemly to cry here, Abigail. Let us get you back home. You have withstood this most bravely. Do not let them see you weaken now."
Abby nodded and began to take her first steps, leaning upon her mother. Her legs shook and her feet felt numb, but she felt more confident with Mama's arm strong and sure around her.
"Slowly, Abigail," Mama whispered.
Abby did not glance up at the steep climb ahead of them to their home. Instead, she looked down at the muddy road, concentrating on every step, placing each foot carefully before adding weight
to it. Slowly they walked up the hill until at last, Mama stopped.
"We're home, Bear," Mama said. "Dorothy!" she called.
The door swung open, and Abigail sighed with relief at the sight of her sweet home stretched out in front of her. She took the last few steps inside and collapsed onto a stool, weak and weary.
She had made it. She was home.
"Drink this," Mama said, handing Abby a warm mug of steaming cider.
Abigail, who lay in bed with several coverlets over her, took the pewter mug and drank deeply. The warmth of the cider ran through her. Still, she shivered.
Outside, the night watch called the hour.
"Take your ease, Bear," Mama whispered. "I want you abed this evening. Tomorrow is the Sabbath, and you'll be wanted at the service. So rest now."
Abby scowled. Already, she could feel the stares of the congregation and the fiery sermon her grandfather would deliver for her benefit alone. She could feel the aches in her bones as she tried to sit still for the four hours of service on the hard wooden pew of the meetinghouse. After a day in the stocks, she knew this would be no easy task. It angered her to think that she would have to withstand a long sermon on top of today's punishment.
Mama smiled and stroked Abigail's cheek. "Stop fussing, Abby. You'll face tomorrow bravely. You proved today that you're stouthearted enough."
"Mama, what Abby did was wrong," Dorothy whispered. Abigail's older sister stood at the door with a bowl of stew and a piece of corn bread.
Abigail could smell the stew, and her mouth watered.
"Dorothy, come," Mama said. "Bring Abigail's food here and take her soiled garments downstairs with you."
"But Mama," Dorothy continued, as she handed the bowl to Abigail, "it's wrong for her to race. Shouldn't we be telling her not to do it?"
Mama sighed and reached out to rest her hand on top of Dorothy's head. "I know they say it is wrong, daughter, but I fear I am as uncertain as your sister as to why lifting one's skirts and racing is against the Lord."
"It's sinful, Mama," Dorothy said. She turned and looked at her ten-year-old sister. "I fear for Abigail's soul."
Mama laughed. "It seems anything that is pleasurable is sinful, dear one, and as for Abby's soul, she is as innocent as you are. Do not take things so seriously, Dorothy. Life is hard enough without some joy at times. Perhaps I shall have you join Abigail here, and let you race with the devil for a fortnight."
"Mama!" Dorothy said, her eyes wide.
Mama laughed again.
Then Dorothy, too, began to laugh. "I would never race, Mama," Dorothy said, making a face, "as I do most truly hate to run."
Mama and Dorothy laughed all the harder. Mama hugged Dorothy and then gave her a little push. "Take the garments, Dorothy. We will speak more on this matter later. Tonight I am weary, as is Abigail."
"Are you all right, Abby?" Dorothy asked, turning to her sister.
"Aye," Abigail answered with a weak smile. "I shall be fine on the morrow."
Dorothy picked up the wet clothes and left the room, looking back uncertainly at Mama and Abigail.
"So, daughter, pray, tell me. Was the race worth the result?" Mama asked.
Abigail swallowed her stew before answering. She was well aware of what her family would suffer because of her behavior. But then she thought of the run, of the race across the field this morning, of the way she'd let her legs fly. It was worth it, she thought fiercely. It was worth every minute.
"Say it not, Bear," Mama said, smiling. "I see the answer in your face."
Then Mama's smile dimmed. "Still, I fear life will not be easy for you should you always insist on doing things in your own fashion." She rose from the feather mattress, taking the bowl from Abigail's hand.
"Mama," Abby said, "I am sorry for the trouble I cause you."
Mama bent and kissed her daughter. She stroked her cheek. "Oh, Abby," she said. "I truly don't mind if it means you are happy."
There was a noise in the doorway. Abby's father was there, shuffling back and forth. He cleared his throat as he shifted from foot to foot. "How fare you, Abigail?" he asked, not looking at her.
"Well," she replied. Her impatience rose at the sight of him. He had not come to check on her once while she was in the stocks. She had known he wouldn't. He never could face anything unpleasant, and that fact irritated Abby.
Her father nodded. "All right, then."
He turned and was gone.
Abby's mother sighed. "If only happiness for others in this house could be so easily won," she said.
Abigail knew Mama loved Papa, and so she understood her mother's sadness. Abby loved him too, but she hated his weakness and sometimes lost patience with him, even when she tried her hardest not to.
"Good night, Abigail," Mama whispered, then blew out the candle in the room.
"Good night, Mama," Abigail whispered back. She turned on her side and stared into the darkness. Her legs ached from having been held so straight and stiff in the stocks. She knew the pain would keep her from sleep. And too, Abby wished tomorrow was any day but the Sabbath.
Copyright © 2005 by Kathleen Benner Duble
Meet the Author
Kathleen Benner Duble is the author of such books as Hearts of Iron, The Sacrifice, Bridging Beyond, and Pilot Mom. She lives in Boxford, Massachusetts with her family. You can visit her online at www.kathleenduble.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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My 5th grade teacher read this book and it was so exciting and conpelling !The author also visted our school! BUY THIS BOOK NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:) ;) :0 AWESOME BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:) ;) :0
My 5th grade teacher read this book to the class and at tbe end of every chapter the kids begged to have her read another chapter. This book is 6.99 but it is totally worth the money! My teacher picked this book because and socail studies we were larning about the puriton and thier punishments. And again the best book ever! And tbis review is getting long so im going to just sum it all up. This is just a comment or maybe two but i wish this thing has spell check on it! And i think the other thing was about blueberrys and george washington....never mind. Ok back tp the review, the author of this book acually lives on the same property as Abigail and her family! Creepy!!! This story takes place in Andover Massacusettes. And you will be hearing about the Salem witch trials. And back then people acually belived in witchs! I know this is getting long but just hang in there. Its been about 3 minutes to erite this. Ok just get the book and read it. Its sooooo good! Ok peace you all! This review is over and tune into other review by me! PEICE! No i daid that wrong. PEACE!
This book is a great book to read. It takes a historical matter and makes it interesting. The story is captivating. While reading you get reallly into the story and everything that is going on within the story. It makes you think about what life must have been like for people who were there and had to experience things such as those in the book but it tells you about that life through other peoples family life. Wonderful book!
This book was perfect for a historical fiction assignment. It gave my son a greater appreciation for modern inventions and his chores.
i think this is a outstanding book if you like to learn about the salem withes and even though you dont i think you would love this book
Dorthoy is 12 abigail is 10 ur welcome ps great book
I want to know how old abigail and Dorothy are because im 10 right now and if theyre 10 i want to know if theyre hot But the book is awesome *SPOILER ALERT* But i think that when theyre in the jail cell the rats should all get killed Also my teacher reads this to our class every day and its awesome
Great book!! Every word was like a puzzle all leading up to the big suprise of the chapter. Love this book!!
I read this with my language arts class a few years ago. I think it was sixth grade. I fell in love with it and I plan to buy it as soon as I can!
I love this book! My class did a historical ficrion project and for my project i chose the witch trials and i chose this book and loved it
I got this book from my school librarian as a reccomendation and I was like okay... I read it and was like what? This book was very poorly written in my standards. The plot was really good but details please! There's practically none that pulled me completely in. The conflict was unclear, and the resolution was just a plain, sad cliffhanger. If you like historical fiction novels, I reccomend for you to read The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Unlike this book, that book actually has interesting details.
I just finished, and it was a great read! The only problem was the cliff hanger at the end. Im a full blown history nerd and this book taught me some things i didn't even think about before!!
This book is touching and exciting at the same time you just can't put it down!
If you want historical info, how families and friends dealt with the Salem Witch Trials, this is the perfect book for you! I've read this book about 3 times and it pulls you into so it feels like your actually there. I felt bad about everything that happens to the main character Abigail and her family. This book offers wonderful insight to life in 1692 and how if you can't believe your family, then who can you believe?
The best book ever. It tells a story from the "guilty" ones.
wow. i have read this book befor and though it is a tear crying book it is worth the read!
My literacy teacher recommended the sacrifice after my historical books. And I loved it! It was so suspenseful, I could not put it down I read it in two days. It¿s about a real time in history, the Salem witch trials. In this book the mothers love and dedication to her two daughters (Abigail and Dorothy) is amazingly strong when the two girls are accused of witch craft! I recommend this book to everyone, but mothers and daughters would especially like this book. GO, THE SACRIFICE!