Devising a plan by which they might rid themselves of the girl’s distracting influence, at her next opportunity Renee secretly followed Antoinette through the woods to her home. Hiding near the cottage and taking note of the girl’s predilection for witchcraft, a conspiracy was born. At her next meeting with Claudette and Elizabeth, between the three women they formed a plan that would rid them of their concerns. Choosing both the moment and course of action, they conspired in secret to kill the imagined contender for their husbands’ affections. Once ready to implement their plan of vengeance, the night they chose to engineer the girl’s undoing was Midsummer’s Eve.
Assigned the task of gathering wood for the balefire, this duty was part of ‘setting the watch’ for the celebration of Saint John’s Eve. As part of her initiation ritual, another might have found the work a drudgery, but for Antoinette the activity gave her pleasure and she went joyfully about it.
With the evening being warm and her skin dampened with sweat, she removed her clothing and lay them aside as not to soil the fabric. Upon returning to the task, with arms fully loaded she was set upon by the vindictive Claudette and her fellow conspirators. Outnumbered and surprised, Antoinette was readily overpowered and pushed to the ground. Before she could again rise, she was subdued by the three vexed women, suffering repeated blows from the hands and feet of her tormentors.
Having made her scratched and bruised, after initially venting their anger by striking at the girl, the trio was not yet finished with their plan. Lifting the girl up from the ground by her arms, they drug her half-conscious body to a sapling where they bound her with twine. Fueled by envy, the wives of Malzieu were determined to carry out a ritual of their own.
It was known to them that the burning of a witch had been banned by the court of King Louis, even so, the fire scorching their jealous hearts could only be quenched with flames. Afterwards, without the fair girl to dote over, surely the straying attention of their husbands would return where they belonged. At the same time they would be ridding themselves of a sorceress. To the reasoning of the three women it seemed a just and fitting solution to their problems.
Fully aware that if their actions should be found out, they would be punished, perhaps even hanged, the women knew this secret must be eternally keep between them. But such was the awful passion that drove them, that the danger incurred was not enough to dissuade them. So powerful was their unreasoning hate that each in turn agreed to a solemn pact.
While Renee and Elizabeth set about repositioning the wood Antoine had gathered around the bound girl’s feet, Claudette produced a tool of reaping from the pocket of her apron. Brandishing the steel with spiteful taunts, she began to nick at the skin of the naked girl with its sharp and cutting point. Upon seeing the blood well and trickle in response to her aggression, a dark and insidious passion took hold of the woman’s mind.