DORCAS MILLER (14) is collecting eggs on her mother, ANNE’s farm. DORCAS’S friend SARAH KENT (15) comes over to get eggs for her father’s tavern.
SARAH shows DORCAS a trick which she learnt from her father’s black slave, HEPSIBAH. SARAH says that it is possible to see your future husband by staring into egg whites. She shows DORCAS how it is done.
DORCAS gets very upset and screams when she believes she sees a skull in the white of the egg.
ANNE hears her daughter’s screams and runs to see what the matter is. ANNE tells SARAH off for introducing DORCAS to a “devil’s game.” After her scolding by ANNE, SARAH moodily walks home along a track and slips in the mud. JESS, a traveller, walks up and gives her a hand. SARAH is impressed by JESS and he stays at her father’s tavern that night.
SARAH introduces JESS to her father, GEORGE KENT, at his tavern. HEPSIBAH fetches JESS a cider. She, too, is very impressed by JESS. SARAH likes to think that she conjured JESS up using witch craft. She tells this privately to HEPSIBAH.
REVEREND JUDD introduces himself to JESS in the street and arranges him a job and lodgings on ANNE MILLER’s farm. He says that JESS should leave KENT’s tavern as soon as possible, implying that the KENTS are less desirable than the MILLERS.
KENT is annoyed that JUDD arranged for JESS to leave. SARAH and KENT both question whether JESS going to live with two young women may lead to trouble. JESS assures them that he will be sleeping in the barn.
ANNE and DORCAS both instantly get on with JESS and he fits in well. He does a number of labouring type jobs around the farm.
One day DORCAS sees ANNE removing a splinter from JESS’ hand and overhears ANNE suggesting that JESS start sleeping in the house instead of the barn. She wonders if something is going on between JESS and ANNE.
A few days later DORCAS, entering the house, sees JESS with his arms around ANNE. She runs off, distraught and believes her worst fears have been realised. She tells SARAH that she saw ANNE and JESS “making love,” although JESS was only holding her fully clothed in the kitchen.
That night in the tavern SARAH has a violent fit, shaking and frothing at the mouth. HEPSIBAH tells KENT that she believes SARAH is being possessed. KENT calls in JUDD who attempts to exorcise the witchcraft from SARAH. He appears to succeed temporarily until she has a vision that night. In the vision she claims to see ANNE as a spectre.
ANNE is put on trial for witchcraft. DORCAS has her doubts about going through with the trial but SARAH persuades her by saying she owes it to her father.
ANNE denies all of the accusations put to her. JESS enters and also says that the accusations are false. JESS is accused of being ANNE’s evil creature.
DORCAS claims she saw JESS with his arms tight around ANNE. JESS explains saying he was simply comforting ANNE, who was missing her dead husband and deeply distressed.
The WITCH FINDER passes verdict that ANNE is not guilty and is free to go. DORCAS and ANNE put things right and start again.