The Witch’s Daughter – Week 1

Bess Hawksmith has a tranquil life. Her family is not wealthy, but they are not poor. They get by, and they work their farm together. Along with her father and mother, she has two other siblings, an older brother Thomas and a younger sister, Margaret. Their mother, Anne,  is a healer and she is regularly called to help in times of crisis. So while their financial standing is not large, their good standing in the community is well known. Their life is plodding along at a steady pace, and the only unknown in young Bess’s are the intentions of Master William Gould. He is from a good aristocratic family and he seems to really like Bess. She in turn likes him, and begins to wonder how long it will be before he asks to start courting her. But that dream quickly turns to harsh reality when the plague hits the small village where her family lives, and the death toll quickly rises.

In quick succession, her brother, sister and father are carried away by the plague, but they are not the only ones affected. Most of the houses in the small town are hit hard by the Black Plague. Bess herself falls ill, and seems to be on the brink of death when her mother manages to bring her back. Bess has no idea how her mother managed to save her, but does not question the event.

There have been little things in Bess’s life that seem to not make sense. During bouts of anger she can make candles burn much hotter than their normal burn, and during a small incident when she goes to sell cider at the pub, she somehow manages to make two roosters that are fighting disappear in the blink of an eye. No one, but one person seems to have any idea of what happened, and he does not seem inclined to talk to anyone. But things are quickly going to take on a life of their own. When her mother is accused and convicted of being a witch, Bess realizes that she is not going to be safe very long. These fears are driven home when her mother encourages her to go to Gideon Masters for help. Bess does not completely understand the urgency in which her mother encourages her to promise that she will accept his help, but she gives her mother the promise that is needed.

After her mother is hung, she heads off to Gideon’s home to gain his help in order to survive. All of the help he gives her seems to be in vain when the witch hunters come to his home looking for her. He leaves her with the words “at the full moon” and she makes up her mind to defy him, but at the last moment, their seems to be no choice but to do as she was instructed..

This week we are reading the section IMBOLG

Questions:

  1. Bess Hawksmith seems to be very naive about the world surrounding her. Is this normal for a girl in her time period or was she sheltered by her parents?
  2. Gideon is willing to help Bess in her predicament, but he refuses to name the price of his services. Do you think that she should have pushed harder to find out what those terms would be?
  3. Had you been arrested as a witch, what would you have done?

 

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