“I do not want vengeance—I want to be with him,” she replied, frantically embracing the body.
“Thou wilt soon be with him,” said the phantom, in tones of deep significance. “Arise, and come with me. Thy mother needs thy assistance.”
“My mother!” exclaimed Alizon, clearing the blinding tresses from her brow. “Where is she?”
“Follow me, and I will bring thee to her,” said the monk.
“And leave him? I cannot!” cried Alizon, gazing wildly at the body.
“You must. A soul is at stake, and will perish if you come not,” said the monk. “He is at rest, and you will speedily rejoin him.”
“With that assurance I will go,” replied Alizon, with a last look at the object of her love. “One grave—lay us in one grave!”
“It shall be done according to your wish,” said the monk.
And he glided on with noiseless footsteps.
Alizon followed him along the terrace.
Presently they came to a dark yew-tree walk, leading to a labyrinth, and tracking it swiftly, as well as the overarched and intricate path to which it conducted, they entered a grotto, whence a flight of steps descended to a subterranean passage, hewn out of the rock. Along this passage, which was of some extent, the monk proceeded, and Alizon followed him.
At last they came to another flight of steps, and here the monk stopped.
“We are now beneath the pavilion, where you will find your mother,” he said. “Mount! the way is clear before you. I have other work to do.”
Alizon obeyed; and, as she advanced, was surprised to find the monk gone. He had neither passed her nor ascended the steps, and must, therefore, have sunk into the earth.
CHAPTER XII.—THE LAST HOUR.
Within the pavilion sat Alice Nutter. She was clad in deep mourning, but her dress seemed disordered as if by hasty travel. Her looks were full of anguish and terror; her blanched tresses, once so dark and beautiful, hung dishevelled over her shoulders; and her thin hands were clasped in supplication. Her cheeks were ashy pale, but on her brow was a bright red mark, as if traced by a finger dipped in blood.
A lamp was burning on the table beside her. Near it was a skull, and near this emblem of mortality an hourglass, running fast.
The windows and doors of the building were closed, and it would seem the unhappy lady was a prisoner.
She had been brought there secretly that night, with what intent she knew not; but she felt sure it was with no friendly design towards herself. Early in the day three horsemen had arrived at her retreat in Pendle Forest, and without making any charge against her, or explaining whither they meant to take her, or indeed answering any inquiry, had brought her off with them, and, proceeding across the country, had arrived at a forester’s hut on the outskirts