“‘Thou art mine,’ he cried, in accents graven for ever on my memory; ’but I am a generous master, and will give thee a long term of freedom. Thou shalt be avenged upon thine enemy—deeply avenged.’
“‘Grant this, and I am thine,’ I replied, a spirit of infernal vengeance possessing me. And I knelt before the fiend.
“‘But thou must tarry for awhile,’ he answered, ’for thine enemy’s time will be long in coming; but it will come. I cannot work him immediate harm; but I will lead him to a height from which he will assuredly fall headlong. Thou must depart from this place; for it is perilous to thee, and if thou stayest here, ill will befall thee. I will send a rat to thy dungeon, which shall daily devour the provisions, so that the monks shall not know thou hast fled. In thirty and one years shall the abbot’s doom be accomplished. Two years before that time thou mayst return. Then come alone to Pendle Hill on a Friday night, and beat the water of the moss pool on the summit, and I will appear to thee and tell thee more. Nine and twenty years, remember!’
“With these words the shadowy figure melted away, and I found myself standing alone on the mossy roof of the dormitory. The cold stars were shining down upon me, and I heard the howl of the watch-dogs near the gate. The fair abbey slept in beauty around me, and I gnashed my teeth with rage to think that you had made me an outcast from it, and robbed me of a dignity which might have been mine. I was wroth also that my vengeance should be so long delayed. But I could not remain where I was, so I clambered down the buttress, and fled away.”
“Can this be?” cried the abbot, who had listened in rapt wonderment to the narration. “Two years after your immurement in the cell, the food having been for some time untouched, the wall was opened, and upon the pallet was found a decayed carcase in mouldering, monkish vestments.”
“It was a body taken from the charnel, and placed there by the demon,” replied the monk. “Of my long wanderings in other lands and beneath brighter skies I need not tell you; but neither absence nor lapse of years cooled my desire of vengeance, and when the appointed time drew nigh I returned to my own country, and came hither in a lowly garb, under the name of Nicholas Demdike.”
“Ha!” exclaimed the abbot.
“I went to Pendle Hill, as directed,” pursued the monk, “and saw the Dark Shape there as I beheld it on the dormitory roof. All things were then told me, and I learnt how the late rebellion should rise, and how it should be crushed. I learnt also how my vengeance should be satisfied.”
Paslew groaned aloud. A brief pause ensued, and deep emotion marked the accents of the wizard as he proceeded.