Elizabeth chapter one

To whoever may find this,
      I realize I was fairly naive. I believed the world would change for me. I thought I would be able to do anything. I know better now. I should have known then. I ask that you reserve your judgments until my tale is finished. It is the year of our lord fourteen ninety-eight. I had thought that in the reign of Henry the VII that England would be civilized. I was born to a noble house and having always had plenty of money. I never abused my wealth, Tis against my nature. I was simply myself, nothing more.                  
           I started healing various ailments. Having a small talent for herbal craft, but having little patience for the training the doctors went through. The idea of using leeches disgusted me. The church endorsed their use, thus it became the accepted way to deal with all illness, but I did not see where it helped some of the ill at all. I oft healed those the doctor’s thought to be hopeless . Simple herbal remedies that brought comfort to the ailing and aged. Arthritis to madness, there was no one I would not treat. And I expected naught in return. If I had paid heed to the tongues that wagged, I would have been prepared. I gave freely to the poor and to the wretched. I spent much time with the ill and insane. I spoke of acceptance to those who had sinned. For why would God not forgive, when it is what was promised?
          My father begged me to hold my tongue about such matters. He said my flaming hair would garner accusations and my shrewish tongue would prove them. I was beautiful then, of this I have no doubt. Though then it mattered so little. Vanity was not a sin I have ever committed.  Most of  the accused committed no other crime than that. A lord’s daughter should not be so reckless. I suppose now I should have heard clearer what he said. You understand, of course, I knew it all then. I had no shame, only pride.
            I ignored the witch hunters. I was no witch, so I saw no need to pay them mind. The whispers around town were of torture and of evil things being done to the accused; the whispers spoke of jealousies and false accusations as well. None of this touched me, It should have. The accusation was made a week ago. I assumed the wealth and power my father had would free me or the magistrate would dismiss on the clear fact that it was nonsense. When the hunters came, I was unafraid. I stood up against the mob and the jeers. For what could hurt me? I had the truth, and I had God. I would soon find out how little that was.
          I was stripped of all my clothes and belongings. I was allowed no modesty. Nor any comfort was I given. I was even denied all traces of humanity. The magistrate and his helpers searched for the mark of the beast that would prove me false. A mark that did not ever exist. They looked for a symbol or a brand, even a mole or blemish. I am sure any mark would have sufficed. For this would prove their accusations, at least in the eyes of the court. I did not cry then. The exam was embarrassing and long.  I was made to stand the entire time. I was pinched and poked. Then prodded with cold metal to see that I yet bled. Yet, even then I was unafraid. I was stretched on a rack and told to admit myself the witch. I was left for hours pulled taught and in pain. I would not lie. My jailers refused to believe anything I said. The days got worse as each passed. I found torture to be too kind a description for the cruelty I endured. Forced to endure thumbscrews, and hot pincers that left me weak. I have felt the health flee me as the days have gone on.  For the last two days I found myself left alone with my thoughts. That was the worst of torments, as it can easily drive one mad. I was given naught except moldy bread and dirty water every evening. After a time I ate, and was thankful for it.                                                 
     As the seventh day dawns, I find fear in my heart and prayers on my lips. I have never broken the covenant with God nor man, but find that my death approaches faster than I ever thought it would. I write this on the parchment left for my confession, one I will write naught. Although I do suppose it will be seen as such regardless. My flaming hair hangs matted now, as bathing has not been allowed me.  I fear the filth has caused fever to set in. I hear whispers at night of a young man’s voice. The voice speaks of possibilities and freedom. I am sure the voice is a sign that my mind is cracking, or my will breaking. Either way, I cannot remain here.
                 Come the dawn I will try escape, and perhaps the voices who whisper of aid they will lend me are more than just my fever speaking. Either that or the attempt will mean my life; it will be an ending to my torment. I pray god is with me.
Elizabeth

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