The Lancashire Witches eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 866 pages of information about The Lancashire Witches.
as to a place of refuge.  But before this could be accomplished, he hoped to effect her capture, and once more cheered on the hound, and plunged his spurs into Merlin’s sides.  An obstacle, however, occurred which he had not counted on.  Directly in the course taken by the hare lay a deep, disused limestone quarry, completely screened from view by a fringe of brushwood.  When within a few yards of this pit, the hound made a dash at the flying hare, but eluding him, the latter sprang forward, and both went over the edge of the quarry together.  Richard had wellnigh followed, and in that case would have been inevitably dashed in pieces; but, discovering the danger ere it was too late, by a powerful effort, which threw Merlin upon his haunches, he pulled him back on the very brink of the pit.

The young man shuddered as he gazed into the depths of the quarry, and saw the jagged points and heaps of broken stone that would have received him; but he looked in vain for the old witch, whose mangled body, together with that of the hound, he expected to behold; and he then asked himself whether the chase might not have been a snare set for him by the hag and her familiar, with the intent of luring him to destruction.  If so, he had been providentially preserved.

Quitting the pit, his first idea was to proceed to Barley, which was now only a few hundred yards off, to make inquiries respecting Mother Chattox, and ascertain whether she really dwelt there; but, on further consideration, he judged it best to return without further delay to Goldshaw, lest his friends, ignorant as to what had befallen him, might become alarmed on his account; but he resolved, as soon as he had disposed of the business in hand, to prosecute his search after the hag.  Riding rapidly, he soon cleared the ground between the quarry and Goldshaw Lane, and was about to enter the latter, when the sound of voices singing a funeral hymn caught his ear, and, pausing to listen to it, he beheld a little procession, the meaning of which he readily comprehended, wending its slow and melancholy way in the same direction as himself.  It was headed by four men in deep mourning, bearing upon their shoulders a small coffin, covered with a pall, and having a garland of white flowers in front of it.  Behind them followed about a dozen young men and maidens, likewise in mourning, walking two and two, with gait and aspect of unfeigned affliction.  Many of the women, though merely rustics, seemed to possess considerable personal attraction; but their features were in a great measure concealed by their large white kerchiefs, disposed in the form of hoods.  All carried sprigs of rosemary and bunches of flowers in their hands.  Plaintive was the hymn they sang, and their voices, though untaught, were sweet and touching, and went to the heart of the listener.

Project Gutenberg
The Lancashire Witches from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook