Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/357
PHILIPPA GARY AND ANNE EVANS
Churchwardens and overseers of Charles parish, being then about twelve or thirteen years old."
The poor child Anne, on being questioned by the mayor, allowed that she bought "a pottle of girts" in the market, and that when they had been cooked she had noticed "some yellow thing in the girts," and the family were afflicted by incessant tortures after they had partaken of it. There had been a dispute between Mrs. Weeks and the nurse, and the latter had asked Evans whether she knew where she could get some rat's-bane. Cary admitted that there had been words between her and the old lady, and said that it arose over the frying of some pilchards. She added that Anne Evans was on bad terms with her mistress, and that the girl had threatened to run away and join "the mountebanks."
The mayor plied one witness against the other. Next Evans said that as she was gathering herbs she found a packet of rat's-bane, and on showing it to Cary the latter exclaimed that was just the very thing needed to "fit" Mrs. Weeks, and that a little dose of it would soon "make work." Next the girl mentioned that Cary abused her for removing a great spider from some beer that Mrs. Weeks was about to drink. A spider was, according to popular belief, a concentration of deadly poison. Cary had said, "Thou shouldst have let it alone, thou Fool, and not have taken it out, but shouldst have squatted it amongst the beer." When Cary was taxed with this, she denied having said any such thing, but asserted that Evans had threatened to do away with her mistress "on Saturday week was fortnight."
The mayor continued his interrogations of each witness separately, playing the statements of one against the other. Then Evans improved her story by