He encourages her. The moon has risen above the edge of the horizon, and she sees a noble old castle. Its summit of tower, watchtower and battlement, glimmers faintly in the moonlight. This is their destination.
She feels on a sudden all but overpowered by sleep; but although she nods, she is quite conscious of the continued motion, which has become even rougher.
She makes an effort, and rouses herself. What has become of the coach, the castle, the servants? Nothing but the strange forest remains the same.
She is jolting along on a rude hurdle, seated on rushes, and a tall, big-boned man, in rags, sits in front, kicking with his heel the ill-favoured beast that pulls them along, every bone of which sticks out, and holding the halter which serves for reins. They stop at the door of a miserable building of loose stone, with a thatch so sunk and rotten, that the roof-tree and couples protrude in crooked corners, like the bones of the wretched horse, with enormous head and ears, that dragged them to the door.
The long gaunt man gets down, his sinister face grimed like his hands.
It was the same grimy giant who had accosted her on the lonely road near Deadman’s Grike. But she feels that she “must go through with it” now, and she follows him into the house.
Two rushlights were burning in the large and miserable room, and on a coarse ragged bed lay a woman groaning piteously.
“That’s Lady Lairdale,” says the gaunt dark man, who then began to stride up and down the room rolling his head, stamping furiously, and thumping one hand on the palm of the other, and talking and laughing in the corners, where there was no one visible to hear or to answer.
Old Mall Carke recognized in the faded half-starved creature who lay on the bed, as dark now and grimy as the man, and looking as if she had never in her life washed hands or face, the once blithe and pretty Laura Lew.
The hideous being who was her mate continued in the same odd fluctuations of fury, grief, and merriment; and whenever she uttered a groan, he parodied it with another, as Mother Carke thought, in saturnine derision.
At length he strode into another room, and banged the door after him.
In due time the poor woman’s pains were over, and a daughter was born.
Such an imp! with long pointed ears, flat nose, and enormous restless eyes and mouth. It instantly began to yell and talk in some unknown language, at the noise of which the father looked into the room, and told the sage femme that she should not go unrewarded.
The sick woman seized the moment of his absence to say in the ear of Mall Carke:
“If ye had not been at ill work tonight, he could not hev fetched ye. Tak no more now than your rightful fee, or he’ll keep ye here.”
At this moment he returned with a bag of gold and silver coins, which he emptied on the table, and told her to help herself.