Reader: Suzanne Allard
The spring of 1634 arrives, but in the prison of Lancaster Castle it stays cold. The twenty women in the prison are dirty, hungry and cold. There are no beds or chairs and so they sleep on the cold floor. There are no windows, so it is always dark. The women want to get out of the prison; they want to go home. Sometimes the guards open the big, old door and put some bread and water on the floor. Then they close the door again.
My name is Jennet Device, and I am one of the twenty women in prison. Day after day, I sit on the cold floor and wait. I want to feel warm again; I want to see the sky again, and Pendle Hill, the beautiful hill near my home. But I am in the dark prison of Lancaster Castle, and I sit on the cold floor and wait.
One day, something happens. The guards open the big, old door.
'Jennet Device!' a guard calls. 'Come here at once, witch! Somebody wants to see you.'
I get up slowly because I'm very cold and I walk across the dark room to the door. Perhaps it's someone from Read Hall! Perhaps I'm going home!
'Jennet Device, be quick!' the guard calls again.
Someone is standing at the door with the guard. 'Jennet, 'he says quietly.
I see him then: a tall man with brown hair and tired blue eyes. He is not from Read Hall. It is Mr Webster, from the church at Kildwick. My legs stop moving and suddenly I want to sit down.
'Come on, come on,' the guard says angrily. He begins to close the door.
'Come out here for a minute, Jennet,' Mr Webster says quietly. 'Sit down and eat something.'
I sit down at a little table near the door. Mr Webster gives me some bread and some meat and I begin to eat hungrily.
'Ten minutes,' the guard says. 'After ten minutes, she goes in again.'
'Thank you,' Mr Webster says.
'How is everyone at Read Hall?' I ask at last.
Mr Webster smiles. 'Everyone is well. I was there yesterday.'
I close my eyes for a minute. 'Mr Webster, it's not true. I'm not a witch, you know.'
'I know, Jennet,' Mr Webster says. 'Last week, I brought Edmund Robinson and his father into my church, and asked them about the boy's story. Many people believed Edmund's story, but some people didn't.
Edmund Robinson is going to London tomorrow with his father, and a judge is going to question them.'
The guard comes back and begins to open the door.
'Time!' he says.
Mr Webster stands up. 'God is here with you, Jennet. Never forget that. You can be happy, when God is with you.'
I stand up too, and take the bread from the table. 'Yes, Mr Webster.
God is with me; I believe that.' But happy? How can I be happy?
I go back into the dark prison, and the guard closes the door behind me. The women run to me.
'Bread! Give us bread!' they cry.
Quickly, I put the bread in my shirt. I don't want to lose it. I walk across the room and sit down on the floor. I am crying, but I feel a little better.
Edmund Robinson, of Newchurch, is only ten years old. Edmund told lies about me and about many women: he saw us at a witches' meeting at a house called Hoarstones. It's not true, but many people believed him. What is he going to say in London? The truth? Or more lies.
But now, in the prison of Lancaster Castle, I want to tell my story.
It is a story about rich men and angry villagers; about old women and hungry children. It is a true story, and it happened to me.
I was born in 1603. My family was always very poor, and after my father died, we were poorer. In winter, I was often ill and I was always cold and hungry. In summer, I was sometimes ill and I was often cold and hungry. We lived some miles from the village of Newchurch, in an old house called Malkin Tower. It was dirty and cold. The rain came in through the windows and there were no doors. To the west, was the big hill called Pendle. Pendle Hill was beautiful. I loved Pendle Hill because it sat quietly all year and watched me.
My story begins on the eighteenth day of March in the year 1612. I was nine years old, and my life began to change on that day. My mother and my grandmother were ill and they sat on the floor, with their dogs, near the little fire.
My sister Alizon wanted to go out. 'I'm going to look for bread,' she said.
My brother James sat near the fire, his mouth open. 'Go and look for bread,' he said. 'Go and look for bread.' James often said things again and again.
Alizon ran out of the house and I followed her.
'Go and look for bread!' James called.
Alizon began to go east, up the hill and past the big trees behind Malkin Tower. Alizon walked fast. She was eighteen years old and she was tall with long, dirty brown hair and a white, hungry face. It was cold, but there was no rain. Alizon wore a coat and some shoes, but I had no coat and no shoes.
'Please wait a minute!' I called to my sister. 'I want to come with you.'
'No!' Alizon cried. 'Go back, I don't want you.'
Suddenly, a dog ran in front of Alizon.
'Good dog, good dog!' Alizon called. The dog ran to her and she put her hand on its head. It was my sister's dog and it liked her. It was a big dog with big teeth and I didn't like it because it was always hungry.
I followed Alizon and her dog along the river to Colne.
But before we arrived at Colne, we met John Law. John Law was a big fat man, about fifty years old.
'Can I have some money, please?' Alizon called. 'I'm hungry.'
John Law didn't answer. He walked slowly because he was fat and because he carried a big bag on his back. In his bag were a lot of beautiful things. He was a pedlar and he walked across the hills and visited all the villages.
'Can I have some money?' Alizon called again. 'I'm very hungry!'
John Law stopped. 'Stop following me,' he said. 'I'm not going to give you money.'
'Give me money!' Alizon said.
'I don't want to give you money,' the pedlar said. He took his hat off. There was not much hair on his head. 'I don't like you and I don't like your family. A lot of bad women, you are, and your father was a bad man, too.'
Alizon was angry. 'Don't talk about my father - he's dead now! Give me some money, old man!'
John Law's face was red. 'No!' he cried. He began to walk up the hill to the village. 'Go back to your dirty family!'
Alizon began to laugh angrily. 'A dead man! A dead man!' she called.
'Dead before dark, John Law!' She looked down at her dog and put her hand on its head. 'Go after him, dog,' she said. 'Go after him and get him!'