These past seven months I have mostly spent at Shelter Island, walking on the shore and listening to the waves hit the sand and watching the greedy gulls scratch and peck at each other.
I returned to Boston without telling a soul. Once again I am jailed and condemned. Once again, all I need do is vow to stay out of Boston, and home to my family and Friends I go. (she takes a few steps toward the cell door, stops.)
I’ll hang today or I’ll sleep in my husband’s arms.
(thinking it through, working it out) Our point of faith, we Friends, is that the Truth makes men tender. Here is my choice, then. Either I expose the immediate truth – that the powerful in Boston who wield the sword will strike me down for defying their banishment decree – or I return to Rhode Island and let the mean world sort itself out. My banishment is imposed because of my thoughts and words. I have broken no commandment. I have taken nothing away from anyone, but refused to bow to that human authority I cannot recognize.
(gaining steam) These men hold our lives in their hands. We have condemned our children and their children, by our cooperation, to lives of obedience and servitude to indefensible oaths and creeds to which their hearts have no natural allegiance. (a realization) How dare we?! Our children don’t belong to us, they belong to God!
They must be given the chance to feel the Light in their own ways, in their own time.
Heresy! Yes! I joined a new religion, and for that I will be hanged, unless I choose to leave Massachusetts and never return. (pause)
How can I? Is it not a sin, once I know the Truth, to keep it to myself? Is it not my duty to mankind to share the Truth so they may be made tender? Is my one little life so precious that I cannot offer it in sacrifice for the lives of the multitudes of souls that follow me?
(pause – the decision is made) The killing of a mother at the hands of the state will make a mark. I am guilty of thought. I am guilty of speech. If I don’t do this, free thought will die here, before it’s born. That men have gone before me is not meaningless, but less compelling only because they were men, and somehow more dispensable than we who carry water and bear children. (pause)
Boston will see me climb the ladder alive and they will watch the life go out of me. My grave will be unmarked and my family will have no claim to my body. (pause)
I stand before history today.