Haddam Enchantments





When witchcraft went rampant through New England the Connecticut town of

Haddam owned its share of ugly old women, whom it tried to reform by

lectures and ducking, instead of killing. It was averred that Goody

So-and-So had a black cat for a familiar, that Dame Thus-and-Thus rode on

a broomstick on stormy nights and screeched and gibbered down the

farm-house chimneys, and there were dances of old crones at Devils' Hop

Yard, Witch Woods, Witch Meadows, Giant's Chair, Devil's Footprint, and

Dragon's Rock. Farmers were especially fearful of a bent old hag in a red

hood, who seldom appeared before dusk, but who was apt to be found

crouched on their door-steps if they reached home late, her mole-covered

cheeks wrinkled with a grin, two yellow fangs projecting between her

lips, and a light shining from her eyes that numbed all on whom she

looked. On stormy nights she would drum and rattle at windows, and by

firelight and candle-light her face was seen peering through the panes.



At Chapman Falls, where the attrition of a stream had worn pot-holes in

the rocks, there were meetings of Haddam witches, to the number of a

dozen. They brewed poisons in those holes, cast spells, and talked in

harsh tongues with the arch fiend, who sat on the brink of the ravine

with his tail laid against his shoulder, like a sceptre, and a red glow

emanating from his body.



In Devils' Hop Yard was a massive oak that never bears leaves or acorns,

for it has been enchanted since the time that one of the witches, in the

form of a crow, perched on the topmost branch, looked to the four points

of the compass, and flew away. That night the leaves fell off, the twigs

shrivelled, sap ceased to run, and moss began to beard its skeleton

limbs.



The appearance of witches in the guise of birds was no unusual thing,

indeed, and a farmer named Blakesley shot one of them in that form. He

was hunting in a meadow when a rush of wings was heard and he saw pass

overhead a bird with long neck, blue feathers, and feet like scrawny

hands. It uttered a cry so weird, so shrill, so like mocking laughter

that it made him shudder. This bird alighted on a dead tree and he shot

at it. With another laughing yell it circled around his head. Three times

he fired with the same result. Then he resolved to see if it were

uncanny, for nothing evil can withstand silver--except Congress. Having

no bullets of that metal he cut two silver buttons from his shirt and

rammed them home with a piece of cloth and a prayer. This time the bird

screamed in terror, and tried, but vainly, to rise from the limb. He

fired. The creature dropped, with a button in its body, and fell on its

right side. At that moment an old woman living in a cabin five miles

distant arose from her spinning-wheel, gasped, and fell on her right

side-dead.





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