Lois the Witch HTML version

Chapter III
'The Sin of Witchcraft.' We read about it, we look on it from the outside; but we
can hardly realise the terror it induced. Every impulsive or unaccustomed action,
every little nervous affection, every ache or pain was noticed, not merely by
those around the sufferer, but by the person himself, whoever he might be, that
was acting, or being acted upon, in any but the most simple and ordinary
manner. He or she (for it was most frequently a woman or girl that was the
supposed subject) felt a desire for some unusual kind of food - some unusual
motion or rest - her hand twitched, her foot was asleep, or her leg had the cramp;
and the dreadful question immediately suggested itself, 'Is any one possessing
an evil power over me; by the help of Satan?' and perhaps they went on to think,
'It is bad enough to feel that my holy can he made to suffer through the power of
some unknown evil-wisher to me; but what if Satan gives them still further power,
and they can touch my soul, and inspire me with loathful thoughts leading me
into crimes which at present I abhor?' and so on, till the very dread of what might
happen, and the constant dwelling of the thoughts, even with horror, upon certain
possibilities, or what were esteemed such, really brought about the corruption of
imagination at last, which at first they had shuddered at. Moreover, there was a
sort of uncertainty as to who might be infected - not unlike the overpowering
dread of the plague, which made some shrink from their best-beloved with
irrepressible fear. The brother or sister, who was the dearest friend of their
childhood and youth, might now be bound in some mysterious deadly pack with
evil spirits of the most horrible kind - who could tell? And in such a case it
became a duty, a sacred duty, to give up the earthly body which bad been once
so loved, but which was now the habitation of a soul corrupt and horrible in its
evil inclinations. Possibly, terror of death might bring on confession, and
repentance, and purification. Or if it did not, why, away with the evil creature, the
witch, out of the world, down to the kingdom of the master, whose bidding was
done on earth in all manner of corruption and torture of God's creatures! There
were others who, to these more simple, if more ignorant, feelings of horror at
witches and witchcraft, added the desire, conscious or unconscious, of revenge
on those whose conduct had been in any way displeasing to them. Where
evidence takes a supernatural character, there is no disproving it. This argument
comes up: 'You have only the natural powers; I have supernatural. You admit the
existence of the supernatural by the condemnation of this very crime of
witchcraft. You hardly know the limits of the natural powers; how, then, can you
define the supernatural? I say that in the dead of night, when my body seemed to
all present to be lying in quiet sleep, I was, in the most complete and wakeful
consciousness, present in my body at an assembly of witches and wizards, with
Satan at their head; that I was by them tortured in my body, because my soul
would not acknowledge him as its king; and that I witnessed such and such
deeds. What the nature of the appearance was that took the semblance of
myself, sleeping quietly in my bed, I know not; but, admitting, as you do, the
possibility of witchcraft, you cannot disprove my evidence.' The evidence might