“She cannot be utterly lost,” continued the young girl. “Were I near her, I would show her that heaven is merciful to the greatest sinner who repents; and teach her how to regain the lost path to salvation.”
“Peace!” thundered the witch, shaking her huge hand at her, and stamping her heavy foot upon the ground. “Such words must not be uttered here. They are an offence to me. Thy mother has renounced all hopes of heaven. She has been baptised in the baptism of hell, and branded on the brow by the red finger of its ruler, and cannot be wrested from him. It is too late.”
“No, no—it never can be too late!” cried Alizon. “It is not even too late for you.”
“Thou know’st not what thou talk’st about, foolish wench,” rejoined the hag. “Our master would tear us instantly in pieces if but a thought of penitence, as thou callest it, crossed our minds. We are both doomed to an eternity of torture. But thy mother will go first—ay, first. If she had yielded thee up to-night, another term would have been allowed her; but as I hold thee instead, the benefit of the sacrifice will be mine. But, hist! what was that? The youth again! Alice Nutter must have given him some potent counter-charm.”
“He comes to deliver me,” cried Alizon. “Richard!”
And she arose, and would have flown to the window, but Mother Demdike waved her staff over her, and rooted her to the ground.
“Stay there till I require thee,” chuckled the hag, moving, with ponderous footsteps, to the door.
After parleying with Richard, as already related, Mother Demdike suddenly returned to Alizon, and, restoring her to sensibility, placed her hideous face close to her, breathing upon her, and uttering these words, “Be thine eyes blinded and thy brain confused, so that thou mayst not know him when thou seest him, but think him another.”
The spell took instant effect. Alizon staggered towards the table, Richard was summoned, and on his appearance the scene took place which has already been detailed, and which ended in his losing the talisman, and being ejected from the tower.
Alizon had been rendered invisible by the old witch, and was afterwards dragged into the arched recess by her, where, snatching the piece of gold from the young girl’s neck, she exclaimed triumphantly—
“Now I defy thee, Alice Nutter. Thou canst never recover thy child. The offering shall be made to-night, and another year be added to my long term.”
Alizon groaned deeply, but, at a gesture from the hag, she became motionless and speechless.
A dusky indistinctly-seen figure hovered near the entrance of the embrasure. Mother Demdike beckoned it to her.
“Convey this girl to the vault, and watch over her,” she said. “I will descend anon.”
Upon this the shadowy arms enveloped Alizon, the trapdoor flew open, and the figure disappeared with its inanimate burthen.