By Thomas D’Agostino
Jacob Hurd lived in Ipswich around the time New England was in the throes of battle with witchcraft and demons. He was a staunch Puritan, holding no course for anything out of his ordinary mundane puritan lifestyle, so when his only son took to fancying the finer arts of poetry, picking flowers, talking to the birds and daydreaming, Jacob became quite concerned.
Such acts in the 1600s were scandalous and extremely not puritan. He soon came to the conclusion that his son had fallen under some sort of bewitchery and perhaps had even become possessed by a demon. This became quite evident when his son came to him and told him of a dream he had. The excited lad described his vision of a golden horse with a silver tail and mane on which he rode. They raced over land and sea, climbing the highest mountains and forging the deepest rivers. To the boy it was a wonderful fantasy but to the strict puritan father, it was a sure sign of witchcraft. Jacob screamed at the boy, “Thou knowest not, Thou art lying!” and struck the boy with a force that would exorcise any demon he feared may be in possession of his son.
That night the boy became ill with a fever. In his delirium he raved about his golden horse and the adventures they were yet to share. His father, overcome with guilt and grief for his actions sat quietly by his bedside listening to his son’s stories. Hours would pass before the boy sat up and cried that he heard his horse pawing outside in the road for him. Jacob looked out the window and it may have been the fog or dust lifting from the wind but he could have sworn for a moment that he actually saw the horse standing there in the road. His son then gave an exclamation of joy and expired.
A few months passed and one day Jacob Hurd departed his home in the very early morning hours to witness the hanging of three witches. He never returned. As evening befell the land, Jacob’s wife heard his steed galloping toward the home. She threw open the door and to her horror she saw the horse covered with blood and some kind of foam. As for Jacob, she would soon learn that he was dead on the side of the road with an arrow through his heart and an axe wound to his head. His wife stared in disbelief at the horse as it began to change color. It turned from brown and bloodied to a glistening gold with silver tail and mane. The blood on the saddle began to take shape as well. It was the shape of their son. He materialized in front of his mother as he sat in the saddle of his golden horse. He then threw her a kiss and rode off into eternity to fulfill his adventures.