"Then you do not deny thy shameful sin, child?" Reverend Sample queried, his eyes like dark flint set in his nearly morbidly thin face.
"I...I do not, but surely I meant no harm in-"
"Silence!" Sample thundered, pounding his fist against the table.
Seconds passed in the church with not even the rustle of woolen clothing. No one dared to even move or shift their body for comfort's sake. Standing alone before the three men at the table - Reverend Sample and two elders of the community of New Abbottsford in the colony of Massachusetts - Amity Whiting could feel the heat of the eyes of everyone present upon her.
A strand of straw-colored hair had escaped from under the front of the coif on her head but she dared not push the scandalously exposed lock in place for fear of appearing vain. She was in enough trouble as it was without another sin being added to her burden.
Already, her recently orphaned state had placed her in ill-repute among the Puritan enclave. Surely a child saddled with the loss of both parents (neither of whom was held in particularly high esteem to begin with) was receiving a deserving punishment from God.
By contrast, the Prescotts, a couple seated in the front row of the congregation, were considered all the more pious in light of the repeated tragedies that had put every one of their four children into the earth during infancy. Silas Prescott, the town blacksmith, was a rock in the community and only for his lack of years was he not seated with Reverend Sample as one of the elders. And gentle Goodwife Sally Prentiss was a paragon of virtue. Even now, she was deep in prayer; distraught over the imperiled soul of Amity Whiting.
After her parents' deaths in the fire that destroyed their home, a neighboring family, the Smythes, had taken the eleven year-old in. They treated her no better than a maidservant while conveniently incorporating her late father's meager plot in with their larger farm.
Yesterday evening, Amity had a brief respite as her chores were complete. Taking a walk, she lost herself in the brief moment of freedom and sang a song that had been one of her mother's favorites. She was overheard and received a beating with a switch for her transgression. Then she was brought before the tribunal the next day, Monday, to be properly shamed as her sins were exposed before the entire community.
"Amity Whiting," Reverend Sample intoned with cold righteousness. "For willfully defiling the Sabbath with song, you are sentenced to one day and one night in the pillory."
Two men of the church immediately took the sobbing girl outside where the wooden structure stood. Amity's neck and wrists were placed in the crescent cutouts of a wooden board before another similar board with the cutouts on the bottom was lowered into place above her, trapping her as she stood bent over at the waist. Wooden pins were hammered into place to keep the boards secured together and Amity was left to her humiliation.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Mr Double's Palisade
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Changes last made on: Monday, May 15, 2017