Years passed on, Yorkshire Jack was never the same man as before, his whole bearing was altered. His bold, his dashing air deserted him. He walked, or rather wandered, slowly about the streets of the town, or the lanes of the country. He constantly moved his head from side to side, looking first over one, and then over the other shoulder, as though dreading that someone was following him.
The stout man became thin, his ruddy cheeks more pale, and his eyes sunken.
At length he disappeared, and it was discovered—for Yorkshire Jack had made a confidant of some Ludgvan man—that he had pledged himself, “living or dead, to become the husband of Sarah Polgrain, after the lapse of years.”
To escape, if possible, from himself, Jack had gone to sea in the merchant service.
Well, the period had arrived when this unholy promise was to be fulfilled. Yorkshire Jack was returning from the Mediterranean in a fruit-ship. He was met by the devil and Sarah Polgrain far out at sea, off the Land’s End. Jack would not accompany them willingly, so they followed the ship for days, during all which time she was involved in a storm. Eventually Jack was washed from the deck by such a wave as the oldest sailor had never seen; and presently, amidst loud thunders and flashing lightnings, riding as it were in a black cloud, three figures were seen passing onward. These were the devil, Sarah Polgrain, and Yorkshire Jack; and this was the cause of the storm.
“It is all true, as you may learn if you will inquire,” said the old woman; “for many of her kin live in Churchtown.”
ELEANOR COBHAM, DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER
GODWIN’S “Lives of the Necromancers”
This was a period in which the ideas of witchcraft had caught fast hold of the minds of mankind; and those accusations, which by the enlightened part of the species would now be regarded as worthy only of contempt, were then considered as charges of the most flagitious nature. While John, Duke of Bedford, the eldest uncle of King Henry VI., was regent of France, Humphrey of Gloucester, next brother to Bedford, was Lord Protector of the realm of England. Though Henry was now nineteen years of age, yet as he was a prince of slender capacity, Humphrey still continued to discharge the functions of sovereignty. He was eminently endowed with popular qualities, and was a favourite with the majority of the nation. He had, however, many enemies, one of the chief of whom was Henry Beaufort, great-uncle to the king, and Cardinal of Winchester. One of the means employed by this prelate to undermine the power of Humphrey, consisted in a charge of witchcraft brought against Eleanor Cobham, his wife.