“Ha! does she so?” exclaimed Mother Chattox. “I am glad of it.”
“The solid floor resounds with the stamping of the enraged witch,” pursued Mistress Nutter. “She tells Alizon she will take her to Pendle Hill at midnight, and there offer her up as a sacrifice to the Fiend. My child replies that she trusts for her deliverance to Heaven—that her body may be destroyed—that her soul cannot be harmed. Scarcely are the words uttered than a terrible clangour is heard. The walls of the dungeon seem breaking down, and the ponderous columns reel. The demon statue rises on its throne, and a stream of flame issues from its brow. The doors of the cells burst open, and with the clanking of chains, and other dismal noises, skeleton shapes stalk forth, from them, each with a pale blue light above its head. Monstrous beasts, like tiger-cats, with rough black skins and flaming eyes, are moving about, and looking as if they would spring upon the captive. Two gravestones are now pushed aside, and from the cold earth arise the forms of Blackburn, the robber, and his paramour, the dissolute Isole de Heton. She joins the grisly throng now approaching the distracted girl, who falls insensible to the ground.”
“Can you see aught more?” asked the hag, as Mistress Nutter still bent eagerly over the caldron.
“No; the whole chamber is buried in darkness,” replied the lady; “I can see nothing of my poor child. What will become of her?”
“I will question Fancy,” replied the hag, throwing some fresh ingredients into the chafing-dish; and, as the smoke arose, she vociferated, “Come hither, Fancy; I want thee, my fondling, my sweet. Come quickly! ha! thou art here.”
The familiar was still invisible to Mistress Nutter, but a slight sound made her aware of his presence.
“And now, my sweet Fancy,” pursued the hag, “tell us, if thou canst, what will be done with Alizon, and what course we must pursue to free her from old Demdike?”
“At present she is in a state of insensibility,” replied a harsh voice, “and she will be kept in that condition till she is conveyed to the summit of Pendle Hill. I have already told you it is useless to attempt to take her from Malkin Tower. It is too well guarded. Your only chance will be to interrupt the sacrifice.”
“But how, my sweet Fancy? how, my little darling?” inquired the hag.
“It is a perplexing question,” replied the voice; “for, by showing you how to obtain possession of the girl, I disobey my lord.”
“Ay, but you serve me—you please me, my pretty Fancy,” cried the hag. “You shall quaff your fill of blood on the morrow, if you do this for me. I want to get rid of my old enemy—to catch her in her own toils—to send her to a dungeon—to burn her—ha! ha! You must help me, my little sweetheart.”
“I will do all I can,” replied the voice; “but Mother Demdike is cunning and powerful, and high in favour with my lord. You must have mortal aid as well as mine. The officers of justice must be there to seize her at the moment when the victim is snatched from her, or she will baffle all your schemes.”