“Curses on thee and thy cunning,” cried Demdike; “but I will not be outwitted by a hind like thee. I will have the child, and yet not be baulked of my revenge.”
“Yo’n never ha’ it, except os a breathless corpse, ’bowt mey consent,” rejoined Hal.
“We shall see,” cried Demdike, rushing forth, and bidding the guards look well to the prisoner.
But ere long he returned with a gloomy and disappointed expression of countenance, and again approaching the prisoner said, “Thou hast spoken the truth. The infant is in the hands of some innocent being over whom I have no power.”
“Ey towdee so, wizard,” replied Hal, laughing. “Hoind os ey be, ey’m a match fo’ thee,—ha! ha! Neaw, mey life agen t’ chilt’s. Win yo set me free?”
“Harkee, wizard,” cried Hal, “if yo’re hatching treason ey’n dun. T’ sartunty o’ revenge win sweeten mey last moments.”
“Will you swear to deliver the child to me unharmed, if I set you free?” asked Demdike.
“It’s a bargain, wizard,” rejoined Hal o’ Nabs; “ey swear. Boh yo mun set me free furst, fo’ ey winnaw tak your word.”
Demdike turned away disdainfully, and addressing the arquebussiers, said, “You behold this warrant, guard. The prisoner is committed to my custody. I will produce him on the morrow, or account for his absence to the Earl of Derby.”
One of the arquebussiers examined the order, and vouching for its correctness, the others signified their assent to the arrangement, upon which Demdike motioned the prisoner to follow him, and quitted the chamber. No interruption was offered to Hal’s egress, but he stopped within the court-yard, where Demdike awaited him, and unfastened the leathern thong that bound together his hands.
“Now go and bring the child to me,” said the wizard.
“Nah, ey’st neaw bring it ye myself,” rejoined Hal. “Ey knoas better nor that. Be at t’ church porch i’ half an hour, an t’ bantlin shan be delivered to ye safe an sound.”
And without waiting for a reply, he ran off with great swiftness.
At the appointed time Demdike sought the church, and as he drew near it there issued from the porch a female, who hastily placing the child, wrapped in a mantle, in his arms, tarried for no speech from him, but instantly disappeared. Demdike, however, recognised in her the miller’s daughter, Dorothy Croft.
CHAPTER VIII.—THE EXECUTIONER.
Dawn came at last, after a long and weary night to many within and without the abbey. Every thing betokened a dismal day. The atmosphere was damp, and oppressive to the spirits, while the raw cold sensibly affected the frame. All astir were filled with gloom and despondency, and secretly breathed a wish that, the tragical business of the day were ended. The vast range of Pendle was obscured by clouds, and ere long the vapours descended into the valleys, and