“And how shall we accomplish this?” asked Mother Chattox.
“I will tell you,” said Mistress Nutter to the hag. “Let him put on the form of Richard Assheton, and in that guise hasten to Rough Lee, where he will find the young man’s cousin, Nicholas, to whom he must make known the dreadful deed about to be enacted on Pendle Hill. Nicholas will at once engage to interrupt it. He can arm himself with the weapons of justice by taking with him Roger Nowell, the magistrate, and his myrmidon, Potts, the attorney, both of whom are detained prisoners in the house by my orders.”
“The scheme promises well, and shall be adopted,” replied the hag; “but suppose Richard himself should appear first on the scene. Dost know where he is, my sweet Fancy?”
“When I last saw him,” replied the voice, “he was lying senseless on the ground, at the foot of Malkin Tower, having been precipitated from the doorway by Mother Demdike. You need apprehend no interference from him.”
“It is well,” replied Mother Chattox. “Then take his form, my pet, though it is not half as handsome as thy own.”
“A black skin and goat-like limbs are to thy taste, I know,” replied the familiar, with a laugh.
“Let me look upon him before he goes, that I may be sure the likeness is exact,” said Mistress Nutter.
“Thou hearest, Fancy! Become visible to her,” cried the hag.
And as she spoke, a figure in all respects resembling Richard stood before them.
“What think you of him? Will he do?” said Mother Chattox.
“Ay,” replied the lady; “and now send him off at once. There is no time to lose.”
“I shall be there in the twinkling of an eye,” said the familiar; “but I own I like not the task.”
“There is no help for it, my sweet Fancy,” cried the hag. “I cannot forego my triumph over old Demdike. Now, away with thee, and when thou hast executed thy mission, return and tell us how thou hast sped in the matter.”
The familiar promised obedience to her commands, and disappeared.
Parson Holden, it will be remembered, left Rough Lee, charged by Potts with a message to Sir Ralph Assheton, informing him of his detention and that of Roger Nowell, by Mistress Nutter, and imploring him to come to their assistance without delay. Congratulating himself on his escape, but apprehensive of pursuit, the worthy rector, who, as a keen huntsman, was extremely well mounted, made the best of his way, and had already passed the gloomy gorge through which Pendle Water swept, had climbed the hill beyond it, and was crossing the moor now alone lying between him and Goldshaw, when he heard a shout behind him, and, turning at the sound, beheld Blackadder and another mounted serving-man issuing from a thicket, and spurring furiously after him. Relying upon the speed of his horse, he disregarded their cries, and accelerated his pace; but, in spite of this, his pursuers gained upon him rapidly.