Such a promise proved hard to adhere to. The lives of the poor were very hard in the Puritan England of Elizabeth I. With the dissolution of the monasteries and convents went the aid to the poor that those houses provided. When power mad landlords oppressed and even abused their tenants, Bess was unable to refuse to help her lifelong friends, even if it meant delving into the black magic that shook her very soul.
Still, she and her family and friends were left alone for many years. She wielded her own sort of power, so that most were afraid to cross her. As her granddaughter Alizon grew, Bess was thrilled to see the family power passed down. Alizon was not, she wanted nothing to do with the family "gift". She only wanted a normal life.
With Queen Elizabeth's death came King James...and he was far less tolerant of Catholics than Elizabeth had been. Catholics became nearly synonymous with witches, making it easy for those in control to rid themselves of those that were unwanted or troublesome. And so, finally, Bess and her family and friends found themselves accused and imprisoned.
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