Salem, Massachusetts 1685
[Bells tolling] Isaac: I, Isaac Walton have gazed upon the nakedness of Abigail Cook [Voice breaking] and did kiss her.
George: And did commit the sin of self-pollution.
Isaac: And committed the sin of self-pollution.
George: 10 hard ones. On this glorious day, our brave boys muster to face the devil's shock troops... French and Indian savages massing in the woods right outside our doors. And what are you going off to defend? Not Sodom, but Salem. We cannot expect God to be on our side if we tolerate abominations or those who commit them. You two will remain in the stocks overnight. And you, boy, will bear the mark of your sins the rest of your life.
Isaac: [Groaning] No, please. Please!
Mr. Hale: For God's sakes, Sibley. The stocks and the lashings are punishment enough.
John: Judge not... Lest ye be judged.
George: Who said that?
John: Jesus. You might have heard of him.
George: John Alden. [Scoffs] My respect for your father's memory can only shield you so long. Giles: It's a good thing you're mustering out tonight. Like it or not, Sibley's in charge. He tolerated your father, but he won't be happy till he sees you swing.
LATER, AT NIGHT. SALEM CEMETERY.
Mary: Didn't you learn anything today?
John: Yes, yes, if I have to spend one more night under the same stars as that bastard George Sibley, I will gut him like the pig that he is.
Mary: If... talking like that will land you in the stocks.
John: No day soon. I'd rather die fighting the French and the Indians than get pissed on by the good souls of Salem.
Mary: So, you're really leaving.
John: Mary, trust me. I will come back for you. Hey. Look. This is all that I have. And I swear on my parents' grave. This is my vow. This war will not last a year.
NEXT MORNING, MAIN STREET.
Man: Forward! Stay in formation, gentlemen. [Horse neighs] Isn't but a half-day's ride.
Mary: I can't make it. I think I'm gonna be sick again.
Tituba: Shh. As soon as you sit down inside, it will settle.
Man: Wait your betters, girl. Peace be upon you.
George: And upon you.
Mary: Peace be upon you.
George: And upon you. Though there are things to be said for war. Gives a certain kind of man someplace to end up other than the end of a brand... Or a rope. You'll thank me one day.
Tituba: Stay strong. After tonight, it will all be over.
LATER, AT NIGHT. SALEM WOODS.
Mary: [Breathing heavily] Tituba, wait. I've changed my mind. I want to go back.
Tituba: There is no place for that child in Salem. George Sibley drove John Alden off to die in the war. What do you think he's gonna do to you when he finds out you're pregnant with John's baby? Do not fear the woods. The woods are gonna take care of that little soul... And you.
Mary: What is this place?
Tituba: You want to live? Lie still.
Mary: [Gasping] Please. It's all that I have left of him.
Mary: No, wait. I don't want to do this.
Tituba: You don't have a choice, Mary.
Tituba: This is what you want.
Mary: [Weakly] No... Please.
Tituba: Let him in.
Mary: [Chuckles] No, please. [Whimpering] Stay there! [Screams] John. John. John, help me. Help me!
Tituba: Now tell him. Say it. This is what you want.
Mary: Yes. Yes! Yes! Aah! [Screams] [Sobbing]
Tituba: All the world shall be yours in return. All the world.
Salem, Massachusetts, September 1692
[Indistinct conversations] Man: From heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance upon all those who know not God, who have disobeyed the gospel!
Man 2: Read for yourself the truth. The terrible truth: witches among us, the devil in Salem. For you, sir.
Man 3: No. [Men grunting]
Man: Easy. [Lock clicks] [Rifle cocks] Giles: This is the Alden house, and there ain't any Aldens left. So you are either a ghost, or you're about to be one.
John: That's a harsh way to say "welcome home."
Giles: Johnny? Can't be. I heard you was dead Killed in the war.
John: I wished I was a couple of times.
Giles: Ah, well, they can't keep a good man down.
John: Saw three men strung up on the way into town and a new gallows being built in the heart of the common. What the hell is that?
Giles: Precious Salem caught up in a stinking witch panic.
John: Witch panic? Who did the bigwigs send in to put out the fire, the almighty Increase Mather?
Giles: No, his son... Cotton. And not a chip off the old block... barely a splinter.
John: I remember when we were kids he used to dress like a girl. Fought like one, too.
Giles: Well, he's all grown-up now. A fine fool in fine silk clothes, and not just any fool, the most dangerous kind... the kind that thinks he knows everything. But you didn't come back for all this horseshit. You come back for one thing and one thing only. Truth told, she's finer than ever. And she's the richest woman in Salem. And why not? She's Mary Sibley now.
John: Sibley? George Sibley. But his wife...
Giles: Died a few years ago. You've been gone a long time, John. Keep your powder in your bag. One day, your Mary will be the richest widow in the country.
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES.
Nathaniel: The driver's at the door with some packages for you, ma'am.
Mary: Send him in. And, Nathaniel, take Mr. Sibley with you. Time for his bath. [Enter Isaac] Now, Isaac, tell me some news of the world.
Isaac: Saw a dusty fella walking into town today. I couldn't believe my eyes.
Isaac: It was John Alden.
[Indistinct conversations] Lamb: Welcome back, Reverend Mather. Rum, gin, ale?
Cotton: Yes. I need three strong men. I can pay.
John: For what?
Cotton: To subdue a girl.
LATER, AT LEWIS HOUSE
Reverend Lewis: Please help my daughter. And be careful.
Cotton: [entering in Lewis'daughter bedroom] Tie her down! Tie her down!!
Mercy: [Groaning, screaming] Please, I beg you, sir. Please, make this stop.
Cotton: I can do nothing, mercy, unless you tell me... Who is it torments you?
Mercy: S-she's right there.
Cotton: "She"? Who is here? Mercy, you must tell me! Who is in this room with us?!
Mercy: The hag! The old woman! She's standing right there! Please. [Sobbing]
Cotton: A simple physic. To sleep.
Mercy: [Stammers] Please. Please. [Stammers]
Cotton: We call it a spectral attack... the work of witches. Pray for her.
John: I call bullshit. She's clearly touched in the head. She needs a doctor, not your prayers.
MAIN STREET, STRAIGHT TO THE CHURCH
Mrs. Hale: Don't dawdle, child. I want you in the front row where Cotton Mather can't help but be dazzled by your charms.
Anne: For heaven's sake, mother, why not just wrap me in silk and parade me on the auction block?
SALEM CHURCH. INSIDE.
Cotton: Fear no man's war. For only a war from hell could destroy Salem. The devil was never going to let a promised land be built here without a fight, without a battle! And witches armed with deadly malice are the most malignant and insidious weapons in that battle... In that war. Even a single witch in Salem is enough to destroy everything we have built and ever hope to build here! Now, we have already killed three of them, and yet their malice continues unabated. Why? Because there are still witches here among us! [Gasping, murmuring] Perhaps in this very hall! Imagine a foe you can't see armed with weapons unknown and the ability to appear as any one of us!
Mr. Hale: Then how can you hope to identify the correct culprit?
Cotton: Have you seen the girl, sir? Even now, Mercy Lewis bleeds from 100 wounds... some impossible to self-inflict. She is the one who will tell us who does this.
Mr. Hale: I see. The ravings of a poor, sick girl will help you identify what your reason fails to deliver.
Cotton: My father...
Mr. Hale: Yes, of course. Your father. Did your father, whom we all so respect, offer you any advice when he sent you in his stead to our aid?
Cotton: He... Advised caution.
Mr. Hale: Caution? And are we to take three people hung as the measure of Mather junior's caution? There could be nothing worse for Salem, for the country, than a witch hunt.
George: [Gagging] [Murmurs] Witches. Witches.
Mary: Indeed. As my beloved husband, the head of your selectmen, reminds me, there is something worse than a witch hunt... a witch.
John: A witch? [Congregation gasps] Sure, that's bad. But why not an ogre... Or a goblin? Why not a dragon, long as we're talking about fairy tales?
Mary: John Alden. We all welcome Captain Alden home from his long, long service in our defense.
Giles: Puritans know their sun is setting. Nothing like a new enemy or a new old enemy to get people behind you.
Mary: Captain Alden.
John: Mrs. Sibley.
Mary: Mr. Sibley and I are hosting a small dinner tomorrow night. We'd be honored if you'd join.
John: Why are you staring at me? I don't even know you. Isaac?
Isaac: Isaac the fornicator. Hide your wives. Hide your daughters. Hell, your sheep!
John: All right, look. So, what do you want from me?
Isaac: Listen to me, John Alden. Coming home to Salem to get out of the war is like jumping in the ocean to get out of the rain. Truth hides. They could be anyone.
John: Oh, they who? Who's they?
Isaac: Witches! Ain't no fairy tale. They're real. All these years, your Mary's the only one who's ever done me a good turn.
John: She's not my Mary now.
Isaac: You left once before. Look what happened. Don't walk out on us again.
MEANWHILE AT LEWIS HOUSE
Lewis: Is this really necessary?
Cotton: A witches' familiars; demons, usually in the form of an animal. Cat, rat, a bird, or a toad... they perform all sorts of useful tasks as long as they're fed. You heard what she told us. She was forced to feed their familiars. She must be searched for the marks... teats where she suckled them.
Lewis: Please help her. [Door closes]
THE DIVINING ROD. NIGHT.
Cotton: [Breathing heavily] [Tapping] [Pounding] "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil has come down unto you with great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." [Sighs] Revelations 12:12.
Gloriana: I see the end of the world urges you onto greater efforts.
Cotton: Mm, as it must us all.
Gloriana: Our granny used to scare us silly with those witch stories. But she'd really terrify my brothers. She told them witches could steal a man's...
Cotton: Aah! [ Both laughs] Cotton: Would you like that, Gloriana, without the bother of the man attached?
Gloriana: Not this man.
THE DIVINING ROD, OUTSIDE.
Man: My darling.
Mab: See you next time, Governor.
Cotton: [Sighs] Just attending to the poor.
John: No doubt... and the poor in spirit.
Cotton: Captain Alden, right? I haven't seen you since we were children. I expected to see you up at Harvard. Surprised to hear that you'd run off to join the militia... like a servant.
John: I would have loved to spend four years counting angels on the heads of pins, but there was a war on.
Cotton: Pity. I owe everything to my education.
John: Taught you everything about hunting witches?
Cotton: No. But my father burnt scores back in Essex, and I've read every book there is on the subject... in eight languages.
John: So, you learned your hunting from books. Well, that's a bit like learning the facts of life from your maiden aunt. But never mind. You're here now, and you're the expert on witches, so let me ask you. What do these awful witches want, huh?
Cotton: The same thing we all want... a country of their own.
John: And here I've been wasting my time fighting mere Indians. Good night, Harvard.
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, MARY'S BUDOIR.
Mary: Time for your feeding. [Stomach gurgling] Yes. Yes. [Clicks tongue] Yes.
George: Someone, help me! [Weakly] Help me.
George: No. Help me! Help! Help! [Gagging]
Mary: George, don't fight it. You know it only hurts more.
Mary: You took away everything I had, George Sibley... Everything I loved. Can you imagine how good it feels to take everything you have, destroy all you've built, and devour your very soul?
Mary: All done.
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, DINING ROOM.
Mr Hale: I would like to make a toast to our hostess Mary Sibley, who has shown us that true piety and true beauty amount to the same worship.
Cotton: Indeed. Beauty is the last miracle allowed in an ugly... Fallen world.
Mrs. Hale: Magistrate Hale and I are concerned about our daughter's inner beauty, Reverend Mather. Perhaps you could suggest a tutor for her, a Harvard man like yourself?
Anne: I believe there is only so much you can learn from books. Experience is our true teacher. Don't you agree, Captain Alden?
John: Well, that depends on the experience.
Anne: Yours must have been fascinating... with the Indians. They're so mysterious, so... Natural.
Mrs. Hale: Natural? [Scoffs] "Unnatural," I'd say. Soulless savages.
John: I assure you, ma'am, the Indians do have souls, if any of us do.
Mary: And what about witches? Do they have souls, too?
Cotton: They do. But they have deeded them to the devil himself in exchange for powers and all that they desire.
Mary: A contract?
Mary: Ironic, as I believe, by law, a woman's not allowed to enter a contract but through the agency of their husband.
George: [Coughs, gags]
Nathaniel: Yes, ma'am.
Cotton: Not all witches are women.
Anne: And what do you think, Captain Alden?
John: I don't know. [Sighs] I think some things just beggar belief, like an honest frenchman or a faithful woman, things that I'll believe in if and when I see one.
Mr. Hale: I find I worry more about the French and the Indian attacks than I do witches. What's your opinion, Captain Alden? Just how vulnerable are we?
Mary: Are you all right, Captain Alden?
John: I think this rich food doesn't agree with me.
Mary: Some fresh air might help.
OUTSIDE THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES
[Door opens, closes]
Mary: I was told you were killed.
John: Was that before or after you married Sibley?
Mary: I remember being told once that the war wouldn't last a year.
John: That wasn't up to me.
Mary: I waited for you. Years and years without a word.
John: I couldn't write.
Mary: No, of course not. Too busy saving the country.
John: Not exactly. I was captured. Their priest man told the others not to take this away from me. He said the universe itself was made out of vows, and breaking them carries consequences. I know that this is just half a silver coin, and you have... no shortage of silver now. Mary, come with me. Now... Tonight. I have money in a bank in New York. It's different there. There's not a puritan in sight. It's not too late. We can be together Anywhere. Anywhere but here.
Mary: New York?
Mary: Is that before or after you were captured? You walk out of here one night, and you come back years later. A-and you think that...
John: Mary. Come here.
Mary: No. I can't. It's impossible. He'd never let me. [Door opens]
Mr. Hale: Now, now, Mrs. Sibley. Even you have no right to monopolize a guest as fascinating as Captain Alden, for whom I have a rare gift, a cigar of tobacco from Guyana with some Brandy.
John: I'm afraid all this... Civilized eating and drinking has laid me out, Magistrate.
Mary: [Sniffles] You told me he was dead!
Tituba: It's not like counting sheep, honey. More like counting shadows. But it don't change a thing. What's John Alden compared to all that lies before you? Stop your weeping, woman. That boy don't deserve those tears.
Mary: They're not for him. They're for the girl I once was.
Tituba: That girl belongs to somebody else now.
Mary: [Screams, gasps]
Tituba: Was it he that left you to the wolves? No, child. It was he that saved you from the wolves and raised you up to all of this. You have a grand vision. Don't lose sight of it. Tomorrow, the moon is with us. Tomorrow, it begins. Leave your anger and your pain for the Kenaima to feed on. Has he not been true to his vow? Are not your enemies now your slaves? Do you not have everything that you desire... wealth, power?
Mary: Almost everything. [Knock on door] Man: Pardon me, ma'am. A gentleman to see you.
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, SITTING ROOM
Mary: Mr. Corey. To what do I owe the pleasure?
Giles: I was wondering if I might talk to you, ma'am. I had a small farm. First, it broke my heart. Then it broke my back. As you and I both know, the heart heals. The back never does. I took up trapping. It's a meager living Ruined the Indians. Now it's ruining me. Thing about trapping is you get your good catch at night. But by morning, it's someone else's meal. Me, I stay with my traps.
Mary: Fascinating, Mr. Corey, but...
Giles: That's why I was there... The night you did it... You and your cinnamon girl.
Mary: You waited a long time.
Giles: Nobody's business till now. But that was John Alden's baby that you buried out there. And the way he feels about you, he has a right to know. So, are you gonna tell him? Or am I?
Anne: Oh, blast this wretched thing. [Bells tolling]
John: That's not bad.
Anne: Reverend Lewis says drawing is idolatry, like worshiping nature or something.
John: Well, there might be worse things to worship. Anne: I'd like to draw you sometime.
John: I'm not sure I'd like to see a portrait of me.
John: [Chuckles] Besides, I have no time to sit. I'm on way out of town.
Anne: So soon? Afraid of witches... Or being taken for one?
John: It's a long way to New York. Good day.
Mary: Oh, I didn't mean to frighten you.
Anne: Oh, I'm not frightened. [Sighs] Just surprised.
Mary: Yes, of course... a girl brave enough to sketch in a graveyard.
Anne: I'm not afraid of the dead, nor the living for that matter.
Mary: That's because you know nothing of death and less of life. I could teach you about life... And death. And many things in between. Do you know what killed nearly every woman buried here? Love. Most died in childbirth. So, love is to a woman what war is to a man... the most deadly thing they'll do. Only a fool runs quickly to war or love. You'd best watch yourself.
Anne: Thank you... Mrs. Sibley. I can only aspire to your happy wisdom.
Cotton: Where do the witches meet?
Mercy: In the woods.
Cotton: How many?
Mercy: I don't know.
Cotton: Who are they?
Mercy: I ... [Sighs] I can't see their faces. Like there's these heads of animals like a stag and a pig and a wolf.
Cotton: But you know who they are?
Mercy: [Whimpering] Yes. Yes.
Cotton: Their names. Why won't you tell me their names?
Mercy: [Crying] She won't let me.
Cotton: Who? Who is she? Tell me. Tell me the names!
Mercy: [Screams] [People screaming] [Growling, barking]
Man: My God, mercy.
Cotton: Though she cannot speak a name, she will show us the witch.
Woman: Oh, no!
Mercy: [Screams] [People murmuring] [Growling] [Screaming] [Indistinct shouting] [Screams]
Cotton: [Grunts] [People gasp, scream]
Isaac: Sorry, Captain. You can't leave Salem just yet. Something you've got to see.
Mary: Is this him, the witch?
Cotton: I think so. All the books say if the victim...
Mary: Never mind your books. Is this the witch?
Cotton: He won't plead either way.
Mary: Is that so?
Giles: Won't dignify the accusation. If you can call a young girl's spit an accusation. What I have to say, I'll say to Captain John Alden. You just find me Captain Alden. I'll have plenty to say.
Cotton: I have sent men for Captain Alden, but I'm told he's left town.
Mary: Just obtain a plea.
Cotton: And if he remains silent?
Mary: You've been granted power. Use it. Press him for an answer. Let the same devil that holds his tongue hold the stones. [Door opens, closes] [Metal clangs]
Tituba: Hurry. The Sabbath is about to begin.
Tituba: [apply oil on the face of Mary] One, two, three, and four. Raise the devil to our door. Call the pig, the wolf, the ram. Come to the circle, all who can. Make him walk on floor to roof. Drink to him with horn and hoof. One, two, three, and four. The devil is here. Now sleep no more. And all the world shall be yours in return.
Mary: [Inhales deeply] [Sighs] [Breathing heavily]
John: If your witches meet here, they got better night eyes than I do.
Isaac: [Scoffs] They don't need night eyes. The night is their eyes.
John: What the hell is this?
Isaac: Gifts to the devil himself... the unborn.
[Moaning] Woman: Cruour innocentia. Maleficarium pestilentia Walpurgisnacht consummatum est. Now it begins.
Mary: [Sighs] [Panting] The circle was broken.
Tituba: By who?
Cotton: Please, sir. I don't want to to do this.
Giles: Then don't.
Cotton: Be reasonable, man. I have the power to press you for an answer. All you have to do is say the words "guilty" or "not guilty," and we can stop all of this.
Giles: If I say "guilty," you'll hang me before dawn. And if I say not, my fate is still in the hands of you bastards. I'll hold my peace and trust in the lord. [Indistinct shouting]
Cotton: Lower the stones!
Cotton: I ask you again. Are you guilty... Or not?
Isaac: We're dead.
John: No, we are not.
Isaac: Good as.
John: I thought you've seen them before. You wanted me to see them, and I saw them.
Isaac: And they saw us. And I told you they could be anybody.
John: Okay, just... Calm down. [Indistinct shouting in distance]
Giles: [Groans] Cotton: Have you something to say?
Giles: More stones. [Indistinct shouting] [Grunts]
John: Giles! Get the hell off of him! [Grunts]
Woman: He's dead! [Cheers and applause]
Cotton: "Woe to the inhabitants... Of the earth and of the sea. For the devil has come down unto you."
John: Son of a bitch. Son of a... No! No! Get!
John: My father's boots were the very first in Salem. And I'm warning every goddamn one of you murdering, hypocritical puritan bastards that these boots will be the last!
Mary: I will ask you once again. Who was there? Who saw us?
Mr. Hale: I will tell you again. I do not know. It is difficult to see past a muzzle flash.
Mary: Then I suggest you find out, Mr. Hale. There's no turning back. The witch hunt has begun, and we will be running the trials. You understand that, don't you, George? You best of all. We will use the trials to turn the puritans against each other. They will hunt and kill and drown in their very own blood till there's no puritans left standing... And Salem is ours.