Identify another short story for me?
November 3, 2016 7:25 AM   Subscribe

It would be a fantasy / horror story anthologized sometime in the '70s or '80s, involving the witch-burning of a servant girl. I remember only two things about it, both horrific. (CW: gore)

One was an image of the remains of the body after the burning, a nerve popping and jumping in the embers. Another was the idea that the afterlife worked entirely according to the power of human belief, so that the condemned girl, innocent though she was, went to hell, and the judge who sentenced her went to heaven, because everyone expected that he would.

It's just possible that these are two separate stories, but I really think they are the same one. I was too young to read the anthology (which was my dad's), and got extremely spooked and put it aside, so now I don't remember what it was.
posted by Countess Elena to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Hitler Painted Roses," by Harlan Ellison?
posted by infinitewindow at 8:28 AM on November 3, 2016

Oh my goodness, I have the exact same horrible memory of the nerves sizzling and the scary anthology. I think the collection was The Penguin Book of Horror Stories. Goodreads has a list of the stories but it's not really searchable on google books -- I believe the story you're looking for is "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch" by Dorothy K. Haynes.

I think the witch was called Araminta or Arabella or some name like that? In case I'm wrong about Haynes...
posted by The Giant Rat of Sumatra at 9:48 AM on November 3, 2016

Upon further poking around, I found a preview of "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch" in this anthology of Scottish stories. I think it is the right one (a servant girl named Minty is burned as a witch and the last line is "a few veins and bones still sizzled and popped in the embers") but there doesn't seem to be a subplot about salvation.
posted by The Giant Rat of Sumatra at 10:51 AM on November 3, 2016

Giant Rat, that has to be it. I must have gotten the other idea mixed up from somewhere else. Maybe that was "Hitler Painted Roses." I'm going to look for both of those in the library. Thanks, guys!
posted by Countess Elena at 12:14 PM on November 3, 2016

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