They blamed it on witchcraft. They always did.
Wallace came home to an empty home, or at least, what seemed to be. It had been ransacked; the windows were shattered, books thrown from the shelves, furniture toppled over and splintered on the floor and his wife’s makeup case spilt across the hardwood. Unmistakably, witchcraft.
Wallace was nervous, for though he had spent the day in the company of a woman, it had not been his wife. For a moment, he wondered if the devil had come to dance with his adulterous soul and found the home vacant.
“Hello?” He cried out, his voice shaking. There came no answer. His mind switched from thoughts of the devil to kidnappers, a devil of a different sort. His sidearm, a six-shot revolver was clenched in his fist.
“Hello?” He tried again, and as before, no answer.
Dear God, don’t let them have taken Anna, he prayed. Would God hear him in his wretched state. A whimper drifted down the stairs.
Wallace rushed up the stairs to find his wife slumped over on the floor. What had happened to her? Tears spilled onto a tattered rug. The thought of witchcraft still rung in his mind, those devil worshippers might have come back to town, but they would not leave.
No sir, they would hang.
“Why are you crying?” Wallace asked. “Why is the house a mess?”
Anna gave no answer. Wallace wondered if she were able. There were spells out there that could make a man spit out his own tongue, they said. A witch could dry one’s voice up like a streambed in a drought.
They would hang, indeed, for what they did.
Anna choked back a bitter cough and tried to stand. A glimpse of red drew Wallace’s attention to his wife’s right hand.
Wallace grew hot with anger; against the witches, against kidnappers, against anyone who might hurt his beloved wife. All this was despite the fact that only an hour prior, he had held hands with another woman.
“Anna?” Wallace asked, “Who hurt you? I swear I’ll make them pay!” His voice was gruff and gravelly. It was the voice of a madman. He slammed his fist down on the only upright piece of furniture in the room; a dresser.
“Who did this? Can you talk to me? Can you write it down?”
In his mind, Wallace imagined the sixty deaths to be visited upon whoever caused his wife to shed tears. To bleed. To become mute with fear.
Anna turned to her husband and leaned against the wall; her hair was disheveled and knotted from a struggle. She looked blankly across the room, but did not say anything.
“I’m going to go and fetch the parson,” he said. “He’ll know what to do.”
Witches, Wallace thought. May the Devil take them all. No woman deserves such pain, such agony, such…
“Wallace.” It was Anna.
Wallace whipped around and saw his wife, a stream of red, flowing from her hand.
Blood. No, a scarf.
One that did not belong to his wife, but to his mistress.
No witch was needed to cause such pain, no kidnapper or robber; only an unfaithful husband. Moments ago, Wallace had held the bow of husbandly anger firmly in his grip. A taut string was pulled back and nestled in a notch at the tail of an arrow. The only thing that had changed in the scene was the target.
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