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Ere they separated the morning dawned high above the
grey hills. Many rites and incantations were performed,
of which we forbear the disgusting recital. The instruc-
tions he received were never divulged ; — the secrets of
that night were never known : — but an altered man was
Lord William when he came back to Hapton Tower.
M 2


On All-Hallows' day, with a numerous train, he went
forth a hunting. His hounds were the fleetest from
Calder to Calder ; and his horns the shrillest through the
wide forests of Accrington and Rossendale. But on that
morning a strange hound joined the pack, that outstripped
them all.

" Blow," cried Lord William, " till the loud echoes
ring, and the fleet hounds o'ertake yon grizzled mongrel."

Both horses and dogs were driven to their utmost
speed, but the strange hound still kept a-head. Over
moor and fell they still rushed on, the hounds in full cry,
though, as yet, guided only by the scent, the object of
their pursuit not being visible. Suddenly a white doe
was seen, distant a few yards only, and bounding away
from them at full speed. She might have risen out of the
ground, so immediate was her appearance. On they went,
in full view, but the deer was swift, and she seemed to
wind and double with great dexterity. Her bearing was
evidently towards the steep crags on the east. They
passed the Tower of Bernshaw, and were fast approaching
the verge of that tremendous precipice, " The Eagle
Crag." Horse and rider must inevitably perish if they
follow. But Lord William slackened not in the pursuit ;
and the deer flew straight as an arrow to its mark, — the
very point where the crag jutted out over the gulf
below. The huntsmen drew back in terror ; the dogs
were still in chase, though at some distance behind ; —
Lord William only and the strange hound were close upon
her track. Beyond the crag nothing was visible but cloud
and sky, showing the fearful height and abruptness of the
descent. One moment, and the gulf must be shot : —
his brain felt dizzy, but liis heart was resolute.


" Mause, my wench," said he, " my neck or thine !

Hie thee ; if she's over, we are lost !"

Lord William's steed followed in the hound's footsteps
to a hair. The deer was almost within her last spring,
when the hound, with a loud yell, doubled her, scarcely a
yard's breadth from the long bare neb of that fearful peak,
and she turned with inconceivable speed, so near the
verge, that Lord William, in wheeling round, heard a frag-
ment of rock, loosened by the stroke from his horse's hoof,
roll down the precipice with a frightful crash. The sud-
den whirl had nearly brought him to the ground, but he
recovered his position with great adroitness. A loud shriek
announced the capture. The cruel hound held the deer
by the throat, and they were struggling together on the
green earth. With threats and curses, he lashed away
the ferocious beast, who growled fiercely at being driven
from her prey. With looks of suUenness and menace, she
scampered off, leaving Lord William to secure the victim.
He drew a silken noose from his saddle-bow, and threw it
over the panting deer, who followed quietly on to his
dwelling at Hapton Tower.

At midnight there was heard a wild and unearthly
shriek from the high turret, so pitiful and shrill, that the
inmates awoke in great alarm. The loud roar of the wind
came on like a thunder-clap. The tempest flapped its
wings, and its giant arms rocked the turret like a cradle.
At this hour Lord William, with a wild and haggard eye,
left his chamber. The last stroke of the midnight bell
trembled on his ear as he entered the western tower. A
maiden sat there, a silken noose was about her head, and
she sobbed loud and heavily. She wrung her white hands
at his approach.

M 3


" Thy spells have been o'ermastered. Henceforth, I
renounce these unholy rites : — I would not pass nights of
horror and days of dread any longer. Maiden, thou art in
my power. Unless thou wilt be mine, — renouncing thine
impious vows, — for ever shunning thy detested arts, —
breaking that accursed chain the enemy has wound about
thee, — I will deliver thee up to thy tormentors, and those
that seek thy destruction. This done, and thou art free."

The maiden threw her snake-like glance upon him.

" Alas," she cried, " I am not free. This magic noose !
remove it, and my promise shall be without constraint. "

" Nay, thou arch-deceiver, — deceiver of thine own
self, and plotter of thine own ruin, — I would save thee from
thy doom. Promise, renounce, and for ever foi'swear
thy vows. The priest will absolve thee : — it must be done
ere I unbind that chain."

" I promise," said the maiden, after a deep and un-
broken silence. " I have not been happy since I knew their
power. I may yet worship this fair earth, and yon bound-
less sky. — This heart would be void without an object and
a possession ! "

She shed no tear until the holy man, with awful and
solemn denunciations, exorcised the unclean spirit to
whom she was bound. He admonished her, as a re-
pentant wanderer from the flock, to shun the perils of
presumption, reminding her, that He, of whom it is
written, that he was led up of the Spirit into the wilder-
ness to be tempted of the devil, — He who won for us the
victory in that conflict, taught us in praying to say,
" Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
She was re-baptized as one newly born, and committed


again to the keeping of the Holy Church. Shortly after-
wards were united at the altar Lord William and Lady
Sibyl. He accompanied her to Bernshaw Tower, their
future residence, — becoming, in right of his wife, the
sole possessor of those domains.

M 4)



XwELVE months were nigh come and gone, and the feast
of All Hallows was again at hand. Lord William's bride
sat in her lonely bower, but her face was pale, and her
eyes red with weeping. The tempter had been there ;
and she had not sought for protection against his snares.
That night she was expected to renew her allegiance
to the prince of darkness. Those fearful rites must now
bind her for ever to his will. Such appeared to be her
infatuation, that it led her to imagine she was yet his by
right of purchase, without being fully conscious of the im-
piety of that thought. His own power had been promised
to her : true, she must die ; but might she not, a spirit like
himself, rove from world to world without restraint ? She
thought, — so perilously rapid was her relapse and her
delusion, — that his form had again passed before her,
beautiful as before his transgression : — " The Son of the
Morning!" — arrayed in the majesty which he had before
the world was, — ere heaven's Ruler had hurled him from
his throne. Her mental vision was perverted. Light and
darkness, good and evil, were no longer distinguished.
Perhaps it was a dream, — but the imagination had become


diseased, and she distinguished not its inward operations
from outward impressions on the sense. Her husband was
kind, and loved her with a lover's fondness, but she could
not return his affection. He saw her unhappy, and he ad-
ministered comfort ; but the source of her misery was in
himself, and she sighed to be free !

" Free ! " — she started — the voice was an echo to her
thought. It appeared to be in the chamber, but she saw
no living form. She had vowed to renounce the devil and
all his works, in her re-baptism, before she was led to the
altar — and how could she face her husband ?

" He shall not know of our compact."

These words seemed to be whispered in her ear. She
turned aside ; but saw nothing save the glow of sunset
through the lattice, and a wavering light upon tlie floor.

" I would spare him this misery," she sighed. " Con-
ceal but the secret from him, and I am again thine ! "

Suddenly the well-known form of her familiar was at
her side.

The following day was All-Hallows-een, and her alle-
giance must be renewed in the great assembly of his sub-
jects held on that fearful night.

It was in the year 1632 ; a period well known in history,
as having led to the apprehension of a considerable num-
ber of persons accused of witchcraft. The depositions
of those miserable creatures were taken before Richard
Shuttleworth and John Starkie, two of his Majesty's jus-
tices of the peace, on the 10th of February, 1633 ; and
they were committed to Lancaster Castle for trial.

Seventeen of them were found guilty, on evidence sus-
picious enough under ordinary circumstances, but not at


all to be wondered at, if we consider the feeling and excite-
ment then abroad. Some of the deluded victims themselves
confessed their crime, giving minute and connected state-
ments of their meetings, and the transactions which then
took place. Justices of the peace, judges, and the highest
dignitaries of the realm, firmly believed in these reputed
sorceries. Even the great Sir Thomas Brown, author of
the book intended as an exposure of " Vulgar Errors,"
gave his testimony to the truth and reahty of those diabo-
lical delusions. But we have little need to wonder at the
superstition of past ages, when we look at the folly and
credulity of our own.

It may, perhaps, be pleasing to learn, that the judge who
presided at the trial respited the convicts, and reported
their case to the King in council. They were next
remitted to Chester, where Bishop Bridgeman certifying
his opinion of the matter, four of the accused, Margaret
Johnson, Frances Dickisson, Mary Spencer, and the wife
of one Hargreaves, were sent to London and examined,
first by the King's physicians, and afterwards by Charles I.
in person. " A stranger scene can scarcely be conceived,"
says the historian of Whalley ; "and it is not easy to imagine
whether the untaught manners, rude dialect, and im-
couth appearance of these poor foresters would more
astonish the King ; or his dignity of person and manners,
together with the splendid scene by which they were sur-
rounded, would overwhelm them."

The story made so much noise, that plays were writ-
ten on the subject, and enacted. One of them is en-
titled, " The late Lancashire Witches, a well-received
Comedy, lately acted at the Globe on the Bank-side, by
the King's Majesty's Actors. Written by Thomas Hay-


wood and Richard Broom. Aut prodesse solent, aut
delectare, ISS^."

But our element is traditiot^, especially as illustrating
ancient manners and superstitions ; we therefore give the
sequel of our tale as tradition hath preserved it.

Giles Dickisson, the merry miller at the Mill-clough,
had so taken to heart his wife's dishonesty, that, as we
have before observed, he grew fretful and morose. His
mill he vowed was infested with a whole legion of these
" hell-cats," as they were called ; for in this shape they
presented themselves to the affrighted eyes of the mi-
serable yoke-fellow, as he fancied himself, to a limb of
Satan. The yells and screeches he heard o'nights from
these witches and warlocks were unbearable ; and once or
twice, when late at the mill, both he and Robin had re-
ceived some palpable tokens of their presence. Scratches
and bloody marks were plainly visible, and every hour
brought with it some new source of annoyance and alarm.

One morning, Giles showed himself with a disconsolate
face before Lord William at the Tower — he could bear
his condition no longer.

" T'other night," said he, " the witches set me astride
o' t' riggin' o' my own house.* It was a bitter cold time,
an' I was nearly perished when I wakened. I am weary of

* " Riggin " or ridging. The hills which divide the counties of
York and Lancaster are sometimes called " th' riggin," from their
being the highest land between the two seas, forming part of what is
called the back-bone of England. An individual, residing at a place
named " The Summit," from its situation, was asked where he lived.
" I live at th' riggin o' th' warld, I reckon," says he ; " for th' water
fro' t' one side o' th' roof fa's to th' east sea, an' t' other to th' west


my life, and will flit ; for this country, the de'il, I do think,
holds in his own special keeping ! "

Then Robin stept forward, offering to take the mill on
his master's quittance. He cared not, he said, for all the
witch-women in the parish. He had " fettled " one of
them, and, by his Maker's help, he hoped fairly to drive
them off the field. The bargain was struck, and Robin
that day entered into possession.

By a strange coincidence, this transaction happened on
the eve of All Hallows before mentioned ; and Lord Wil-
liam requested that Robin would, on that night, keep
watch. His courage, he said, would help him through ;
and if he could rid the mill of them, the Baron promised
him a year's rent, and a good largess beside. Robin was
fain of the offer, and prepared himself for the strife ;
determined, if possible, to eject these ugly vermin from
the premises.

On this same night, soon after sunset, the lady of Bern-
shaw Tower went forth, leaving her lord in a deep sleep,
the effect, as it was supposed, of her own spells. Ere
she departed, every symbol or token of grace was laid
aside ; — her rosary was unbound. She drew a glove from
her hand, and in it was the bridal ring, which she threw
from her, — when the flame of the lamp suddenly expired.
It was in her little toilet-chamber, where she had paused,
that she might pursue her meditations undisturbed. Her
allegiance must be renewed, and revoked no more ; but
her pride, that darling sin for which she risked her soul,
must first suffer. On that night she must be guided by
the same laws, and subjected to the same degrading in-
fluence as her fellow-subjects. At least once a year this
condition must be fulfilled : — all rank and distinction being


lost, the vassals were alike equal in subordination to their
chief. On this night, too, the rites of initiation were
usually administered.

The time drew nigh, and the Lady Sibyl, intending to
conceal the glove with the sacred symbol, passed her hand
on the table where it had lain — but it was gone !

In a vast hollow, nearly surrounded by crags and pre-
cipices, bare and inaccessible, the meeting was assembled,
and the lady of the Tower was to be restored to their
communion. Gliding like a shadow, came in the wife of
Lord William, — pale, and her tresses dishevelled, she
seemed the victim either of disease or insanity.

Under a tottering and blasted pine sat their chief, in
a human form ; his stature lofty and commanding, he
appeared as a ruler even in this narrow sphere of his do-
minion. Yet he looked round with a glance of mockery
and scorn. He was fallen — and he felt degraded ; but
his aim was to mar the glorious image of his Maker, and
trample it beneath his feet.

A crowd of miserable and deluded beings came at the
beck of their chief, each accompanied by her familiar.
But the lady of Bernshaw came alone. Her act of
renouncement had deprived her of this privilege.

The mandate having been proclaimed, and the pre-
liminary rites to this fearful act of reprobation performed,
the assembly waited for the concluding act — the cruel
and appalling trial : one touch of his finger was to pass
upon her brow, — the impress, the mark of the beast, —
the sign that was to snatch her from the reach of mercy !
Her spirit shuddered ; — nature shrunk from the unholy
contact. Once more she looked towards that heaven
she was about to forfeit, — and for ever !


" For ever ! " — The words rung in her ears ; their
sound was hke the knell of her everlasting hope. She
started aside, as though she felt a horrid and scorching
breath upon her cheek, as though she already felt their
unutterable import in the abysses of woe !

Conscience, long slumbering, seemed to awake ; she
was seized with the anguish of despair ! It seemed as
thougli judgment were past, and she was doomed to
wander like some rayless orb in the blackness of darkness
for ever. One fearful undefined form of terror was before
her ; one consciousness of offence ever present ; all idea
of past and future absorbed in one ever-during now, she
felt that her misery was too heavy to sustain. A groan
escaped her lips, but it was an appeal to that power for
deliverance, who is not slow to hear, " nor impotent to
save." Suddenly she was roused from some deep and
overpowering hallucination ; the promises of unlimited
gratification to every wish prevailed no more, — the
tempter's charm was broken. All was changed ; the
whole scene seemed to vanish ; and that form, which
once appeared to her like an angel of light, fell prostrate,
writhing away in terrific and tortuous folds on the
hissmg earth. The crowd scattered with a fearful yell ; —
she heard a rush of wings, and a loud and dissonant
scream, — and "The Bride of Bernshaw" fell senseless to
the ground.

We leave the conscience-stricken victim, whilst we
relate the result of Robin's watch-night at the mill.

He lay awake until midnight — but there was no dis-
turbance — nothing was heard but the plash of the mill-
stream, and the dripping ooze from the rocks. His old
enemies, no doubt, were intimidated, and he was about


commencing a snug nap on the idea — when, lo ! —
there came a great rush of wind. He heard it booming
on from a vast distance, until it seemed to sweep over the
building in one wide resistless torrent that might have
levelled the stoutest edifice ; — yet was the mill unharmed
by the attack. Then came shrieks and yells mingled with
the most horrid imprecations. Swift as thought, there
rushed upon him a prodigious company of cats, bats, and
all manner of hideous things, that scratched and pinched
him, as he afterwards declared, until his flesh verily
" reeked " again. Maddened by the torment, he began to
lay about him lustily with a long whittle which he carried
for domestic purposes. They gave back at so unexpected
a reception. Taking courage thereby, Robin followed,
and they fled, helter-skelter, like a routed army. Through
loop-holes and windows went the obscene crew, with such
hideous screeches as startled the whole neighbourhood.
He gave one last desperate lunge as a parting remem-
brance, and felt that his weapon had made a hit. Some-
thing fell on the floor, but the light was extinguished in
the scuffle, and in vain he attempted to grope out this
trophy of his valour.

" I've sliced off a leg or a wing," thought he, " and I
may lay hold on it in the morning."

All was now quiet, and Robin, to his great comfort, was
left without further molestation.

Morning dawned bright and cheerful on the grey battle-
ments of Bernshaw Tower ; the sun came out joyously
over the hills ; but Lord William walked forth with an
anxious and gloomy countenance. His wife had feigned
illness, and the old nurse had tended her through the
night in a separate chamber. This was the story he had


learnt on finding her absent when he awoke. Early pre-
senting himself at the door, he was refused admission.
She was ill — very ill. The lady was fallen asleep, and
might not be disturbed : — such was the answer he received.
Rising over the hill, he now saw the gaunt ungainly form
of Robin, his new tenant, approaching in great haste with
a bundle under his arm.

" What news from the mill, my stout warrior of the
north?" said Lord William.

" I think I payed one on 'em, your worship," said
Robin, taking the bundle in his hand : — " not a cat said
mew when they felt my whittle. Marry, I spoilt their
catterwauling : I've cut a rare shive ! "

" How didst' fare last night with thy wenches?" en-
quired the other.

" I've mended their manners for a while, I guess. As
I peeped about betimes this morning, I found — a paw !
If cats are bred with hands, and gowden rings on their
fingers, they shall e'en ha' sporting-room i' the mill ! —
No bad luck, methinks."

Robin uncovered the prize, and drew out a bleeding
hand, mangled at the wrist, and blackened as if by fire ;
one finger decorated with a ring, which Lord William too
plainly recognised. He seized the terrific pledge, and,
witJi a look betokening some deadly purpose, hastened to
his wife's chamber. He demanded admittance in too
peremptory a tone for denial. His features were still, not
a ripple marked the disturbance beneath. He stood with
a calm and tranquil brow by her bed-side ; but she read a
fearful message in his eye.

" Fair lady, how farest thou ? — I do fear me thou art
ill ! "


" She's sick, and in great danger. You may not disturb
her, my lord," said the nurse, attempting to prevent his
too near approach : — "I pray you depart ; your presence
afflicts her sorely."

" Ay, and so it does," said Lord William, with a strange
and hideous laugh. " I pray thee, lady, let me play the
doctor : — hold out thy hand."

The lady was still silent. She turned away her head : —
his glance was too withering to endure.

" Nay, then, I must constrain thee, dame."

She drew out her hand, which Lord William seized
with a violent and convulsive grasp.

" I fear me 'tis a sickness unto death ; small hope of
amendment here. Give me the other, — perchance I may
find there more comfort."

" Oh, my husband, I cannot : — I am — I have no

" Why, thou art grown peevish with thy distemper.
Since 'tis so, I must e'en force thy stubborn will."

" Alas ! I cannot."

" If not thy hand, show me thy wrist ! — I have here a
match to it, methinks. Oh, earth, — earth, — hide me
in thy womb ! — let the darkness blot me out and this
blasting testimony for ever ! — Accursed hag, what hast
thou done ? "

He seized her by the hair.

" What hast thou promised the fiend ? Tell me, —
or "

" I have — oh, I fear I have consented to the compact ! "

" How far doth it bind thee ? "

" My soul — my better part !"



" Thy better part ! — Thy worse, — a loathsome ulcer,
reeking with the stench from the pit ! — Better have
given thy body to the stake, than have let in one un-
hallowed desire upon thy soul. How far does thy con-
tract reach ? "

" All interest I can claim. His part that created it I
could not give, not being mine to yield."

" Lost — lost ! Thou hast, indeed, sold thyself to per-
dition. I'll purge this earth of witchery : — I'll make their
carcasses my weapon's sheath. Hence, inglorious scab-
bard ! " — He flung away the sheath. Twining her dark
hair about his fingers, —

" Die — impious, polluted wretch ! — This blessed
earth loathes thee, — the grave's holy sanctuary will cast
thee out. Yon glorious sun would smite thee, should I
refrain ! "

He raised his sword, — a gleam of triumph seemed to
flash from her eye, as though she were eager for the
blow ; but the descending weapon was stayed, and by
no timid hand.

Lord William turned, yet he saw not the cause of its
restraint. The lady alone seemed to be aware of some
unseen intruder, and her eye darkened with apprehension.
Suddenly she sprung from the couch ; — a shriek from no
human agency escaped her, and the spirit seemed to have
passed from its abode.

Lord William threw himself on her pale and inanimate

" Farewell ! " he cried : " I had thought thee honest !
— Nay, lost spirit, I must not say farewell ! "

He gazed on his once-loved bride with a look of such
unutterable tenderness, that the heart's deep gush burst


from his eyes, and he wept in that almost unendurable
anguish. The sight was too harrowing to sustain. He
was about to withdraw, when a convulsive tremour passed
across her features, — a trembling like the undulation of
the breeze rippling the smooth bosom of the lake ; — a
sigh seemed to labour heavily from her breast, her eyes
opened ; but as though yet struggling under the influence
of some terrific dream, she cried, —

" Oh, save me, — save me ! " She looked upwards : it
was as if the light of heaven had suddenly shone in upon
her benighted soul,

" Lost, saidst thou, accursed fiend ? — Never until His
power shall yield to thine ! "

Yet she shuddered, as though the appalling shadow

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