There was an expression of mockery about this person’s countenance which did not please the miller, and he asked him, sternly, what he wanted.
“Leave off grinnin, mon,” he said, fiercely, “or ey may be tempted to tay yo be t’ throttle, an may yo laugh o’t wrong side o’ your mouth.”
“No, no, you will not, Richard Baldwyn, when you know my errand,” replied the man. “You are thirsting for vengeance upon Mother Demdike. You shall have it.”
“Eigh, eigh, you promised me vengeance efore,” cried the miller—“vengeance by the law. Boh ey mun wait lung for it. Ey wad ha’ it swift and sure—deep and deadly. Ey wad blast her wi’ curses, os hoo blasted my poor Meary. Ey wad strike her deeod at my feet. That’s my vengeance, mon.”
“You shall have it,” replied the other.
“Yo talk differently fro’ what yo did just now, mon,” said the miller, regarding him narrowly and distrustfully. “An yo look differently too. There’s a queer glimmer abowt your een that ey didna notice efore, and that ey mislike.”
The man laughed bitterly.
“Leave off grinnin’ or begone,” cried Baldwyn, furiously. And he raised his hand to strike the man, but he instantly dropped it, appalled by a look which the other threw at him. “Who the dule are yo?”
“The dule must answer you, since you appeal to him,” replied the other, with the same mocking smile; “but you are mistaken in supposing that you have spoken to me before. He with whom you conversed in the other room, resembles me in more respects than one, but he does not possess power equal to mine. The law will not aid you against Mother Demdike. She will escape all the snares laid for her. But she will not escape me.”
“Who are ye?” cried the miller, his hair erecting on his head, and cold damps breaking out upon his brow. “Yo are nah mortal, an nah good, to tawk i’ this fashion.”
“Heed not who and what I am,” replied the other; “I am known here as a reeve of the forest—that is enough. Would you have vengeance on the murtheress of your child?”
“Yeigh,” rejoined Baldwyn.
“And you are willing to pay for it at the price of your soul?” demanded the other, advancing towards him.
Baldwyn reeled. He saw at once the fearful peril in which he was placed, and averted his gaze from the scorching glance of the reeve.
At this moment the door was tried without, and the voice of Bess was heard, saying, “Who ha’ yo got wi’ yo, Ruchot; and whoy ha’ yo fastened t’ door?”
“Your answer?” demanded the reeve.
“Ey canna gi’ it now,” replied the miller. “Come in, Bess; come in.”
“Ey conna,” she replied. “Open t’ door, mon.”
“Your answer, I say?” said the reeve.
“Gi’ me an hour to think on’t,” said the miller.
“Agreed,” replied the other. “I will be with you after the funeral.”
And he sprang through the window, and disappeared before Baldwyn could open the door and admit Bess.