The Lancashire Witches eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 866 pages of information about The Lancashire Witches.

From this half-painful, half-pleasurable retrospect he was aroused by the loud blast of a trumpet, thrice blown.  A recapitulation of his offences, together with his sentence, was read by a herald, after which the reversed blazonry was fastened upon the door of the hall, just below a stone escutcheon on which was carved the arms of the family; while the paper mitre was torn and trampled under foot, the lathen crosier broken in twain, and the scurril banner hacked in pieces.

While this degrading act was performed, a man in a miller’s white garb, with the hood drawn over his face, forced his way towards the tumbrel, and while the attention of the guard was otherwise engaged, whispered in Paslew’s ear,

“Ey han failed i’ mey scheme, feyther abbut, boh rest assured ey’n avenge you.  Demdike shan ha’ mey Sheffield thwittle i’ his heart ’efore he’s a day older.”

“The wizard has a charm against steel, my son, and indeed is proof against all weapons forged by men,” replied Paslew, who recognised the voice of Hal o’ Nabs, and hoped by this assertion to divert him from his purpose.

“Ha! say yo so, feythur abbut?” cried Hal.  “Then ey’n reach him wi’ summot sacred.”  And he disappeared.

At this moment, word was given to return, and in half an hour the cavalcade arrived at the abbey in the same order it had left it.

Though the rain had ceased, heavy clouds still hung overhead, threatening another deluge, and the aspect of the abbey remained gloomy as ever.  The bell continued to toll; drums were beaten; and trumpets sounded from the outer and inner gateway, and from the three quadrangles.  The cavalcade drew up in front of the great northern entrance; and its return being announced within, the two other captives were brought forth, each fastened upon a hurdle, harnessed to a stout horse.  They looked dead already, so ghastly was the hue of their cheeks.

The abbot’s turn came next.  Another hurdle was brought forward, and Demdike advanced to the tumbrel.  But Paslew recoiled from his touch, and sprang to the ground unaided.  He was then laid on his back upon the hurdle, and his hands and feet were bound fast with ropes to the twisted timbers.  While this painful task was roughly performed by the wizard’s two ill-favoured assistants, the crowd of rustics who looked on, murmured and exhibited such strong tokens of displeasure, that the guard thought it prudent to keep them off with their halberts.  But when all was done, Demdike motioned to a man standing behind him to advance, and the person who was wrapped in a russet cloak complied, drew forth an infant, and held it in such way that the abbot could see it.  Paslew understood what was meant, but he uttered not a word.  Demdike then knelt down beside him, as if ascertaining the security of the cords, and whispered in his ear:—­

“Recall thy malediction, and my dagger shall save thee from the last indignity.”

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The Lancashire Witches from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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