“If I could be astonished at any thing in you, madam, I should be at your audacity,” rejoined Nowell, “but I am glad that you have presented yourself before me; for it was my fixed intention, on my return to Whalley, to cause your arrest, and your unexpected appearance here enables me to put my design into execution somewhat sooner than I anticipated.”
Mistress Nutter laughed scornfully.
“Sparshot,” vociferated Nowell, “enter those gates, and arrest the lady in the King’s name.”
The beadle looked irresolute. He did not like the task.
“The gates are fastened,” cried Mistress Nutter.
“Force them open, then,” roared Nowell, dismounting and shaking them furiously. “Bring me a heavy stone. By heaven I I will not be baulked of my prey.”
“My servants are armed,” cried Mistress Nutter, “and the first man who enters shall pay the penalty of has rashness with life. Bring me a petronel, Blackadder.”
The order was promptly obeyed by the ill-favoured attendant, who was stationed near the gate.
“I am in earnest,” said Mistress Nutter, aiming the petronel, “and seldom miss my mark.”
“Give attention to me, my men,” cried Roger Nowell. “I charge you in the King’s name to throw open the gate.”
“And I charge you in mine to keep it fast,” rejoined Mistress Nutter. “We shall see who will be obeyed.”
One of the grooms now advanced with a large stone taken from an adjoining wall, which he threw with great force against the gates, but though it shook them violently the fastenings continued firm. Blackadder and the two other serving-men, all of whom were armed with halberts, now advanced to the gates, and, thrusting the points of their weapons through the bars, drove back those who were near them.
A short consultation now took place between Nowell and Potts, after which the latter, taking care to keep out of the reach of the halberts, thus delivered himself in a loud voice:—
“Alice Nutter, in order to avoid the serious consequences which might ensue were the necessary measures taken to effect a forcible entrance into your habitation, the worshipful Master Nowell has thought fit to grant you an hour’s respite for reflection; at the expiration of which time he trusts that you, seeing the futility of resisting the law, will quietly yield yourself a prisoner. Otherwise, no further leniency will be shown you and those who may uphold you in your contumacy.”
Mistress Nutter laughed loudly and contemptuously.
“At the same time,” pursued Potts, on a suggestion from the magistrate, “Master Roger Nowell demands that Alizon Device, daughter of Elizabeth Device, whom he beholds in your company, and who is likewise suspected of witchcraft, be likewised delivered up to him.”
“Aught more?” inquired Mistress Nutter.