" Stone is visited the next day by a stranger, who later identifies himself as "Mr. It goes poorly for Webster, since the signature and the contract are clear and Mr. We fought England for that in '12 and we'll fight all hell for it again! Scratch insists on his citizenship, citing his presence at the worst events in the history of the U.
Scratch", and makes such an offer in exchange for seven years of prosperity. S., concluding, "though I don't like to boast of it, my name is older in this country than yours." Webster demands a trial as the right of every American. Scratch agrees after Webster says that he can select the judge and jury, "so long as it is an American judge and an American jury." A jury of the damned then enters, "with the fires of hell still upon them." They had all done evil, and had all played a part in the formation of the United States: After five other unnamed jurors enter (Benedict Arnold being out "on other business"), the judge enters last – John Hathorne, the infamous and unrepentant executor of the Salem witch trials. He is ready to rage, without care for himself or Stone, but he catches himself: he sees in the jurors' eyes that they want him to act thus.
He calms himself, "for it was him they'd come for, not only Jabez Stone." Webster starts to orate on simple and good things – "the freshness of a fine morning..taste of food when you're hungry..new day that's every day when you're a child" – and how "without freedom, they sickened." He speaks passionately of how wonderful it is to be human and to be an American.
He admits the wrongs done in the course of American history but points out that something new and good had grown from them and that "everybody had played a part in it, even the traitors." Mankind "got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey," something "no demon that was ever foaled" could ever understand.
Webster takes the predictions in stride and asks only if the Union will prevail.
Scratch reluctantly admits that, although a war will be fought over the issue, the United States will remain united.
Scratch or the stranger—were both used around New England and other parts of the pre-Civil-War United States: "Perhaps Scratch will do for the evening.
I'm often called that in these regions." These terms are taken primarily from "The Devil and Tom Walker" (1824) by Washington Irving, who usually calls the devil Old Scratch.
Scratch underlines this definition by saying of the jury "Americans all". Earlier, he states flatly "A man is not a piece of property." Later, there is this description "And when he talked of those enslaved, and the sorrows of slavery, his voice got like a big bell." Benét acknowledges the evil by having the devil say: "When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there.
When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood on her deck." As for Webster, "He admitted all the wrong that had ever been done.