Martha was a childless middle-aged widow who lived in the only company of a lot of cats in an isolated house on the hill. She didn’t have many friends, only two women of her age, Anne and Samantha. Little was known about her. No one had ever known her husband because when she arrived in the village she was already a widow. Her husband was said to have been a Protestant pastor.
Martha was a humble-looking woman of few words. There were those who claimed she was not a widow but a divorcee or a spinster.
The first rumors that had been circulated about Martha said that she with her predictions with the tarot cards and the Ching frightened people who came to her for advice. They said that they couldn’t understand why people continued to consult her….Then it began to be said that Martha prepared precious and expensive amulets for those she had predicted bad events. And those people were induced to buy her amulets, which they paid dearly, to protect themselves from misfortune. The rumors had continued to circulate and after some time it was said that Martha was even a sorceress if not quite a witch and that it was she who caused the misfortunes that had befallen some of her customers, namely those who did not buy her precious amulets. There were those of them who had had serious accidents, those who had suffered robberies, those who had died, and those who had been killed.
“ That woman is a witch, she made a pact with the devil and is ready to sacrifice anyone who refuses to be plucked by buying her amulets,” they said. Even the people who had bought Martha’s amulets and who had no misfortune began to fear her. Since they felt as if Martha held their lives in her hands, in her power, they thought they had to buy who knows how many other amulets from her to avoid disasters. “ That woman should be exorcized, the devil had entered her,” they said. There were also those who claimed that she should be sentenced to death for her spells. But it was 1999 and now for centuries witches no longer were condemned to the stake.
Even Don Basilio, the parish priest, had heard the rumors about Martha. Even though Martha never went to church, and never attended the Mass he decided to go to visit and talk to her.
He wanted to realize what kind of person she was, if she was an atheist or a believer, although as a Christian she should have known that the Church and the Christian religion condemned the belief in amulets and also the use of divining the future.
Martha, even if surprised and taken aback, gladly welcomed the visit of Don Basilio, who soon told her what was said about her. Martha, with nonchalance, said that she too was aware of those rumors which were all gossip. “ But how?! Don’t you predict the future with tarot cards? Don’t you sell expensive amulets to people who consult you to protect themselves from the misfortunes you announced them?” The priest asked, who was almost disconcerted. Oh, the only truth among those rumors ___said Martha ___ was that yes, she predicted the future by reading tarot cards and the Ching. Because she believed it was possible to know the future in advance and whoever turned to her asked for it. She only read the response of the cards…they were, the cards to predict the future. And then the amulets, on, she gave them as gifts to her customers, other than selling them at an exorbitant price as the rumors wanted.
As for the rest, she was a believing Christian, devoted to Jesus Christus, she would never have wanted or done harm to anyone. And she was certainly not capable nor would she have wanted to be capable of witchcraft and spells.
Martha gave Don Basilio the feeling of being a good person and he was convinced that the rumors circulating about her were all gossip or, worse, slander. He promised himself to tell about his feeling to his parishioners at Sunday Mass.
Of course, Martha sinned by reading the future in the tarot cards, just as those sinned who resort to her to have their future predicted by reading cards. But to Don Basilio, it seemed even a graver sin the rumors circulating about her.
Yes, he had to tell about the matter to his parishioners, who expected harsh words of condemnation from him against that witch!
Don Basilio unfortunately did not have time to speak to his parishioners. Although he was young and in good health he died the day after he met Martha. Then the rumors arose about the woman. It was she, it had to be she, who had caused Don Basilio’s death with one of her spells. Not only, people began to say that she had to have been also the one who had caused the death of her husband. She really was a villain, a witch!
Martha’s friends, Anne and Samantha seemed very concerned about the mounting guilty rumors about her. In reality, it was they who had given rise to those rumors, which had gradually increased. In fact, they had started to speak of Martha as a strange, shady, and moody person, obsessed with tarot cards and amulets that she built at night, by the light of a candle. Certainly, Anne and Samantha didn’t think speaking of Martha in those terms would give rise to an avalanche of rumors that came more and more distressing to them and to Marha too.
But the worst had yet to come. Three children of a few years disappeared from the village. While no trace was found of two, the third was found dead on the hill, near Martha’s house.
The child’s body was ripped open and emptied of all internal organs, including the heart.
Of course, it was that witch of Martha who made the children disappear and killed them, people of the village said and surrounded Martha’s house waiting for her to come out to kick her. There were those who said that Martha had killed the children to eat their hearts and some people also insinuated that the bad witch was involved in kidnapping children to be killed to harvest their organs to be used for transplants.
Martha was locked up in the house with the windows and the doors barred. When the angry people broke into her house they found her dead, surrounded by tarot cards and her amulets.