“While Metcalfe was pouring forth his rage, and menacing me with uplifted hand,” pursued the familiar, “I seized him by the throat, dragged him from his horse, and in spite of the efforts of his men, whose blows fell upon me thick as hail, and quite as harmlessly, I bore him through the garden to the back of the house, where my shouts soon brought Nicholas and others to my assistance, and after delivering my captive to them, I dismounted. The squire, you will imagine, was astonished to see me, and greatly applauded my prowess. I replied, with the modesty becoming my assumed character, that I had done nothing, and, in reality, the feat was nothing to me; but I told him I had something of the utmost importance to communicate, and which could not be delayed a moment; whereupon he led me to a small room adjoining the hall, while the crestfallen knight was left to vent his rage and mortification on the grooms to whose custody he was committed.”
“You acted your part to perfection,” said Mistress Nutter.
“Ay, trust my sweet Fancy for that,” said the hag—“there is no familiar like him—none whatever.”
“Your praises make me blush,” rejoined Fancy. “But to proceed. I fulfilled your instructions to the letter, and excited Nicholas’s horror and indignation by the tale I told him. I laughed in my sleeve all the while, but I maintained a very different countenance with him. He thought me full of anguish and despair. He questioned me as to my proceedings at Malkin Tower, and I amazed him with the description of a fearful storm I had encountered—of my interview with old Demdike, and her atrocious treatment of Alizon—to all of which he listened with profound interest. Richard himself could not have moved him more—perhaps not so much. As soon as I had finished, he vowed he would rescue Alizon from the murtherous hag, and prevent the latter from committing further mischief; and bidding me come with him, we repaired to the room in which Nowell and Potts were confined. We found them both fast asleep in their chairs; but Nicholas quickly awakened them, and some explanations ensued, which did not at first appear very clear and satisfactory to either magistrate or attorney, but in the end they agreed to accompany us on the expedition, Master Potts declaring it would compensate him for all his mischances if he could arrest Mother Demdike.”
“I hope he may have his wish,” said Mother Chattox.
“Ay, but he declared that his next step should be to arrest you, mistress,” observed Fancy, with a laugh.
“Arrest me!” cried the hag. “Marry, let him touch me, if he dares. My term is not out yet, and, with thee to defend me, my brave Fancy, I have no fear.”