On his knees, in the bedroom of his home in Salem, Reverend Parris prays over his ten-year-old daughter, Betty, who lies asleep. His niece, seventeen-year-old Abigail Williams, enters the room to tell him that Susanna Walcott, another young girl, has arrived with news from the doctor. Susanna informs Parris that Doctor Griggs cannot find a diagnosis for Betty’s illness in any of his books, and that he should, perhaps, look to “unnatural causes.”
Parris orders Susanna out, and confronts Abigail. Parris is concerned about the faction of the town that is looking for any reason to oust him from his pulpit -- even more so now, since he discovered Abigail and other girls dancing “like heathens” in the woods. He presses Abigail to confess if they had conjured spirits.
A woman from the village, Ann Putman, bursts into the room, quickly followed by her husband, Thomas. As they examine Betty and interrogate Parris about his daughter’s strange behavior, the Putnams reveal that their daughter,