The Lancashire Witches eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 866 pages of information about The Lancashire Witches.

Down—­down they went, destruction apparently awaiting them; but the abbot, though sometimes quite under the water, and bruised by the rough stones and gravel with which he came in contact, still retained his self-possession, and encouraged his companion to hope for succour.  In this way they were borne down to the foot of the hill, the monks, the herdsmen, and the men-at-arms having given them up as lost.  But they yet lived—­yet floated—­though greatly injured, and almost senseless, when they were cast into a pool formed by the eddying waters at the foot of the hill.  Here, wholly unable to assist himself, Assheton was seized by a black hound belonging to a tall man who stood on the bank, and who shouted to Paslew, as he helped the animal to bring the drowning man ashore, “The other half of the abbey is gone from thee.  Wilt thou baptise my child if I send my dog to save thee?”

“Never!” replied the other, sinking as he spoke.

Flashes of fire glanced in the abbot’s eyes, and stunning sounds seemed to burst his ears.  A few more struggles, and he became senseless.

But he was not destined to die thus.  What happened afterwards he knew not; but when he recovered full consciousness, he found himself stretched, with aching limbs and throbbing head, upon a couch in a monastic room, with a richly-painted and gilded ceiling, with shields at the corners emblazoned with the three luces of Whalley, and with panels hung with tapestry from the looms of Flanders, representing divers Scriptural subjects.

“Have I been dreaming?” he murmured.

“No,” replied a tall man standing by his bedside; “thou hast been saved from one death to suffer another more ignominious.”

“Ha!” cried the abbot, starting up and pressing his hand to his temples; “thou here?”

“Ay, I am appointed to watch thee,” replied Demdike.  “Thou art a prisoner in thine own chamber at Whalley.  All has befallen as I told thee.  The Earl of Derby is master of the abbey; thy adherents are dispersed; and thy brethren are driven forth.  Thy two partners in rebellion, the abbots of Jervaux and Salley, have been conveyed to Lancaster Castle, whither thou wilt go as soon as thou canst be moved.”

“I will surrender all—­silver and gold, land and possessions—­to the king, if I may die in peace,” groaned the abbot.

“It is not needed,” rejoined the other.  “Attainted of felony, thy lands and abbey will be forfeited to the crown, and they shall be sold, as I have told thee, to John Braddyll and Richard Assheton, who will be rulers here in thy stead.”

“Would I had perished in the flood!” groaned the abbot.

“Well mayst thou wish so,” returned his tormentor; “but thou wert not destined to die by water.  As I have said, thou shalt be hanged at thy own door, and my wife shall witness thy end.”

“Who art thou?  I have heard thy voice before,” cried the abbot.  “It is like the voice of one whom I knew years ago, and thy features are like his—­though changed—­greatly changed.  Who art thou?”

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The Lancashire Witches from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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