“Hence! off! set me free!” shrieked Dorothy; “you have bewitched me. I heard it this moment.”
“Do not believe the false suggestion,” cried Alizon.
“It is true,” exclaimed all the other witches together. “Alizon has bewitched you, and will kill you. Shake her off—shake her off!”
“Away!” cried Dorothy, mustering all her force. “Away!”
But Alizon was still too strong for her, and, in spite of her efforts at liberation, detained her.
“My patience is wellnigh exhausted,” exclaimed the voice.
“Alizon!” cried Mistress Nutter, imploringly.
And again the witches gathered furiously round the two girls.
“Kneel, Dorothy, kneel!” whispered Alizon. And forcing her down, she fell on her knees beside her, exclaiming, with uplifted hands, “Gracious heaven! deliver us.”
As the words were uttered, a fearful cry was heard, and the weird troop fled away screaming, like ill-omened birds. The caldron sank into the ground; the dense mist arose like a curtain; and the moon and stars shone brightly down upon the ruined pile.
Alizon prayed long and fervently, with clasped hands and closed eyes, for deliverance from evil. When she looked round again, all was so calm, so beautiful, so holy in its rest, that she could scarcely believe in the recent fearful occurrences. Her hair and garments were damp with the dews of night; and at her feet lay Dorothy, insensible.
She tried to raise her—to revive her, but in vain; when at this moment footsteps were heard approaching, and the next moment Mistress Nutter, accompanied by Adam Whitworth and some other serving-men, entered the choir.
“I see them—they are here!” cried the lady, rushing forward.
“Heaven be praised you have found them, madam!” exclaimed the old steward, coming quickly after her.
“Oh! what an alarm you have given me, Alizon,” said Mistress Nutter. “What could induce you to go forth secretly at night in this way with Dorothy! I dreamed you were here, and missing you when I awoke, roused the house and came in search of you. What is the matter with Dorothy? She has been frightened, I suppose. I will give her to breathe at this phial. It will revive her. See, she opens her eyes.”
Dorothy looked round wildly for a moment, and then pointing her finger at Alizon, said—
“She has bewitched me.”
“Poor thing! she rambles,” observed Mistress Nutter to Adam Whitworth, who, with the other serving-men, stared aghast at the accusation; “she has been scared out of her senses by some fearful sight. Let her be conveyed quickly to my chamber, and I will see her cared for.”
The orders were obeyed. Dorothy was raised gently by the serving-men, but she still kept pointing to Alizon, and repeatedly exclaimed—
“She has bewitched me!”
The serving-men shook their heads, and looked significantly at each other, while Mistress Nutter lingered to speak to her daughter.