The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice

by Kathleen Benner Duble
The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice

by Kathleen Benner Duble


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Wednesday, September 27
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689876516
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 08/28/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 662,550
Product dimensions: 7.66(w) x 5.10(h) x 0.63(d)
Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About 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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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

Reading Group Guide

By Kathleen Benner Duble
In 1692, life changes forever for ten-year-old Abigail and her family. Abigail and her sister are accused of being witches when fear and panic spread from Salem to their hometown of Andover, Massachusetts. They await trial in a prison while their mother desperately searches for some way to obtain their freedom.
Mothers and daughters; Sisters; Witchcraft; Puritans; Family life
• What beliefs of Puritan life in 1692 do you think we still hold on to today?
• Can you think of another situation either now or in the past (such as the McCarthy era), where fear has overcome reason? What were the consequences of this?
• If you had lived during that time, what entertainment might you have substituted or how might you have expressed yourself artistically to make up for the lack of theater, museums, TV, computers, movies, etc.?
• Abigail's world was one where conformity to the group was important-and yet she wanted to be an individual. Do you think this is still true today? Why or why not?
• What situations (such as riots after a sporting event) in today's world reflect a lack of reason and a "mob mentality"? What would you do if you were faced with this situation?
• Create a dramatic reenactment of the Salem witch trials.
• Design and create a memorial for the victims of the Salem witch trials. Use the information to find actual names of people involved in the trials.
• Write a feature article (with a headline) that tells the story of the book as it might be found on the front page of a newspaper in the town where the story takes place. Make sure it is appropriate for the time period.
This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Prepared by Barb Bahm
© William Allen White Children's Book Award
Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews