The Lancashire Witches eBook

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

“Take him a glass of aquavitae, Bess,” he said to the hostess.  “He is evidently a cup too low, and will be the better for it.  Strong water is a specific I always recommend under such circumstances, Master Sudall, and indeed adopt myself, and I am sure you will approve of it.—­Harkee, Bess, when you have ministered to poor Baldwyn’s wants, I must crave your attention to my own, and beg you to fill me a tankard with your oldest ale, and toast me an oatcake to eat with it.—­I must keep up my spirits, worthy sir,” he added to Roger Nowell, “for I have a painful duty to perform.  I do not know when I have been more shocked than by the death of poor Mary Baldwyn.  A fair flower, and early nipped.”

“Nipped, indeed, if all we have heard be correct,” rejoined Newell.  “The forest is in a sad state, reverend sir.  It would seem as if the enemy of mankind, by means of his abominable agents, were permitted to exercise uncontrolled dominion over it.  I must needs say, the forlorn condition of the people reflects little credit on those who have them in charge.  The powers of darkness could never have prevailed to such an extent if duly resisted.”

“I lament to hear you say so, good Master Nowell,” replied the rector.  “I have done my best, I assure you, to keep my small and widely-scattered flock together, and to save them from the ravening wolves and cunning foxes that infest the country; and if now and then some sheep have gone astray, or a poor lamb, as in the instance of Mary Baldwyn, hath fallen a victim, I am scarcely to blame for the mischance.  Rather let me say, sir, that you, as an active and zealous magistrate, should take the matter in hand, and by severe dealing with the offenders, arrest the progress of the evil.  No defence, spiritual or otherwise, as yet set up against them, has proved effectual.”

“Justly remarked, reverend sir,” observed Potts, looking up from the memorandum book in which he was writing, “and I am sure your advice will not be lost upon Master Roger Nowell.  As regards the persons who may be afflicted by witchcraft, hath not our sagacious monarch observed, that ’There are three kind of folks who may be tempted or troubled:  the wicked for their horrible sins, to punish them in the like measure; the godly that are sleeping in any great sins or infirmities, and weakness in faith, to waken them up the faster by such an uncouth form; and even some of the best, that their patience may be tried before the world as Job’s was tried.  For why may not God use any kind of extraordinary punishment, when it pleases Him, as well as the ordinary rods of sickness, or other adversities?’”

“Very true, sir,” replied Holden.  “And we are undergoing this severe trial now.  Fortunate are they who profit by it!”

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The Lancashire Witches from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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