Explain the situation in the town and surrounding country side with the cows + orphans. How have feelings in the town about the witch trials changed?
There are tons of cows (and likely other livestock) wandering about without any owners tending to them because so many people are being sent to jail as accused witches. The same is true with children... their parents are in jail and cannot attend to their needs.
It seems as if the town is beginning to feel the ridiculous nature of these trials, but the magistrates are still following the ridiculous laws that cause them to listen to any accusation of a witch, believe it's true and follow through on jail time and execution. The people are realizing the absurd is alive and active in their town.
The feeling in the town about the witch trials has definitely changed. It has changed to be a lot less supportive of the trials. This is because the life of the town is starting to be seriously disrupted. The cows and the orphans are a symbol of this.
Because so many people are being jailed or executed, there are all these holes in the society. Cows and children are not being cared for. This shows how much the trials are disrupting society. Because they are starting to hurt the people as a whole, the people are starting to rethink their support of the trials.
The witch trials have become so prevalent that many farms have gone abandoned. The crops and fields are gone to waste and the cows are roaming the fields in hunger and wildness. The children have no parents to care for them and have had to be taken in by neighbors and friends who were willing to help them.
By the end of the book the situation has become very tense. Paris explains to Davenforth that it may not be such a good idea to hang so many people for their crimes. He lets him know that there has been alternate pressure in the cities and that word of mouth has been that people are starting to stand up against the actions of accusation and consequence of being called a witch. However, Davenforth holds firm.