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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: The Good Witches
By Joanne Sher


"I don't like it one bit! My mama ain't a witch." Dorothy Good put her hands on her hips and gritted her teeth.

Her father, William Good, rapped her on the head and put his finger over his lips. "You watch your tongue in public, girl. And you get started on dinner. You got to be the woman of the family for a while now."

"Yes, papa."

Dorothy bowed her head and walked away from the Salem town square toward a small campfire in the abutting woods. There she started a couple onions and a potato boiling in a stew pot over the fire. Despite being only four years old, her mother had already taught her how to prepare a hearty meal out of anything she could get her hands on. The onions were growing alongside the edge of the woods, and she'd snagged the potato off the ground in front of Samuel's Grocer, where a customer had likely dropped it.

"Just because mama gets mad sometimes and talks to herself don't mean the devil's got her," Dorothy mumbled, stirring the meager provisions with a stick she'd picked up. "Do I ever miss her."

Her father approached the fire and sat beside it.


"What, child?"

Dorothy stopped stirring the vegetables and looked straight into her father's eyes. "Are they ever gonna let mama outta that jail?"

He sighed. "I dunno. If she's guilty of witchcraft they sure won't."

Dorothy's eyes were afire. "But she isn't, papa. She isn't!"

Her father shrugged.


Dorothy, accustomed to joining her mother begging for food and shelter from the locals, had given up on seeking assistance from the townsfolk more than a week previous. Whenever she approached anyone, it seemed they gave her disapproving looks or called her a witch. Papa had warned her to stay away from the locals, lest she be arrested as well.

Instead, she spent much of her time in the woods, venturing into the town square only to get food or some other necessity.

"Look! It's the devil's spawn!" A girl in her early teens walked toward Samuel's Grocer, where Dorothy was scanning the walk in front of the shop for dropped goods.

"Am not, Miss Ann Putnam. And my mama is NOT a witch." Dorothy kicked dirt at her accuser.

Gasping, Ann wagged her finger at the girl. "How dare you. I'll make sure you're sorry you even spoke to me, you little witch."


"An apple!" Dorothy picked the shiny piece of fruit off the ground and brushed it off with the edge of her ragged skirt. "Papa will be pleased."

Inspecting the apple closely as she ambled down the street, the girl bumped her shoulder against a man about as tall as her father.

"'Scuse me," she mumbled under her breath, trying to hurry back into the woods.

"Come here, little lady." The gentleman put out his hand.

Dorothy paused and glanced about, debating whether to approach the man or run away. His smile convinced her to do the former.

"Yes sir?" she asked in her most polite voice.

The man's smile quickly turned to a smirk as he grabbed the girl and began carrying her toward the Salem courthouse.

"Dorothy Good, you are under arrest for afflicting another with witchcraft."

Dorothy kicked and screamed, but was unable to wiggle out of the man's grasp.

"Just like her mother," the officer growled as he placed her in a holding cell. "Just like her mother."

Author's note: Dorothy Good was arrested and interrogated in late March of 1692 and held in a Boston prison for 9 months in chains. She was the youngest person arrested for witchcraft during the Salem Witch trials, and, according to her father William, was permanently damaged from her ordeal. Her mother, Sarah Good, was one of the first women arrested for witchcraft in Salem in early March of 1692, and was executed by hanging in mid-July of the same year.

Honest critiques appreciated!

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This article has been read 1380 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Teri Wilson05/10/07
Whoa! This is excellent. I loved the way you chose to go with the genre. I thought the story was marvelous and then I read the footnote and liked it even more. I like the addition of the apple - the forbidden fruit - I knew as soon as the shiny red apple made an appearence we were in for trouble. I enjoyed this immensely. Excellent work!
Chrissi Dunn05/10/07
Well done. I love the topic that you chose. Very original and well written.
Leigh MacKelvey05/10/07
I love this subject and have always wanted to learn more. I knew about Sarah Goode, but not her daughter. Well written and authentic. I wish there could be more to read, but word count! This presents the hysteria of that time and the evil involved in condemnation of innocent people.
Kaylee Blake 05/10/07
Loved this! How you wrote it from the little girl's perspective was spot on. I too, knew about Sarah Goode, and I even knew she had a daughter that was arrested, but I wasn't aware that she didn't die and that she was so young.
Betty Castleberry05/10/07
Interesting read, and I learned something. I had not heard of the daughter before. You did a good job of placing the reader in the story. Well done.
Jeffrey Snell05/11/07
I agree with comments above--an outstanding tale. You had me hoping against hope she wouldn't take the man's hand! Nice job making history live for us today.
dub W05/11/07
I have taught the information about the Salem Witch trials. Nineteen women and one man were executed during that time, just in Salem, many more along colony road.
You have captured much of the personality of the events. An interesting read.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/11/07
This brought back memories - in high school, I played Mary Warren in "The Crucible." This piece is equally exciting (although quite a bit shorter LOL) Great writing and a creative take on "historical." Loved it! :-)
Catrina Bradley 05/12/07
An excellent story set during this horrible time in America's history. I've always been fascinated by the Salem witch trials, and wasn't disappointed by this sad tale. Well done!
Patty Wysong05/14/07
I loved your POV, and I was torn, along with Dorothy whether or not to trust the man. You captured things so well my heart broke. Good job!! :-)
Jan Ackerson 05/14/07
The character that affected me the most was that father--how dare he just shrug! You captured a whole personality in that one gesture--well done!
Benjamin Graber05/14/07
Excellent job bringing this story to life!
Rita Garcia05/14/07
I love reading history, and you brought this period alive with your strong characterization. Mastercrafted!
Bonnie Way05/14/07
Well done! Very interesting topic here. I'd like to see it turned into a novel about how this event in her life affected Dorothy (as hinted at in the footnote). I particularly liked the child's innocence and insistence upon her mother's.
Henry Clemmons05/14/07
From a males perspective, I too was amazed at the father's reaction. A very eye opening account. Quality writing as well.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/14/07
This is yet another example of man's inhumanity to man. Sad, yes, but the stories need to be told and retold so we don't forget. And you did it so well!
william price05/14/07
Excellent job, Joanne!
This couldn't have been easy to write. It was hard to read, not because of the masterful way you wrote it, just the subject, which as has been commented on earlier, needs to be retold. Superb writing. Great skill. God bless.
Pat Guy 05/14/07
You did such a good job on this! It was scary and sad and so infuriating how man could be so unjust.

Great writing Joanne!
Mariane Holbrook 05/14/07
Tremendous! I'm so glad I got to read this !!! Very, very well done. Kudos!
Myrna Noyes05/15/07
Very ironic and appropriate title! This is a frightening and sobering story about how rumors and falsehoods can infect a community and destroy people. Important message and good writing! :)
Jacquelyn Horne05/15/07
This is very good. Good writing. Of course, it's too short, but that's how we have to work with the challenges. Good job.
LaNaye Perkins05/16/07
You had me from the first sentence. This was really good!
Sara Harricharan 05/16/07
You've done a good job here. Excellent writing and well done. I do wish that she'd been able to prove that none of them were 'witches'.
Dara Sorensen05/16/07
I remember hearing this story when I learned about the Salem witch trials. Good job on the research here--it's hard to believe that something like this could happen.

I liket the POV of the little girl too--good characterization there.
Loren T. Lowery05/16/07
You said you wanted honest critique, well, all I can say is ditto to all of the above comments! Wow what tremendous story telling. Reminds me of the play "The Crucible"
Ed VanDeMark05/16/07
This is apparently a true story. If it wasn't a true story I would challenge the age of the child whose maturity exceeded that of the four year olds I've known. I guess circumstances influence our development as human beings. Good job.
Donna Howard05/17/07
Wow! Joanne, I feel like I just stepped off a page of history. My 9th great grandfather (Isaac Perkins)was a grand uncle to Mary (Perkins) Bradbury, who was tried and convicted for witchcraft in Salem, Mass. on Sept. 9, 1692. Fortunately, she was not executed. According to the court papers, she was held in high estimation. The agony of the families of those women comes through loud and clear in your story. Wonderful job of research and writing!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/18/07
Joanne, What a great story you created from history! I really enjoyed it.