"You have had a happy dream, daughter," he observed.
"A blessed dream, reverend sir," she replied. "I thought I saw my children, Richard and Alizon, in a fair garden-oh! how angelic they looked-and they told me I should be with them soon."
"And I doubt not the vision will be realised," replied the clergyman. "Your redemption is fully worked out, and your salvation, I trust, secured. And now you must prepare for your last trial."
"I am fully prepared," she replied; "but will you not go to the others?"
"Alas! my dear daughter," he replied, "they all, excepting Nance Redferne, refuse my services, and will perish in their iniquities."
"Then go to her, sir, I entreat of you," she said; "she may yet be saved. But what of Jennet? Is she, too, to die?"
"No," replied the divine; "being evidence against her relatives, her life is spared."
"Heaven grant she do no more mischief!" exclaimed Alice Nutter.
She then submitted herself to the executioner's a.s.sistants, and was led forth. On issuing into the open air a change came over her, and such an exceeding faintness that she had to be supported. She was led towards the stake in this state; but she grew fainter and fainter, and at last fell back in the arms of the men that supported her. Still they carried her on. When the executioner put out his hand to receive her from his aids, she was found to be quite dead. Nevertheless, he tied her to the stake, and her body was consumed. Hundreds of spectators beheld those terrible fires, and exulted in the torments of the miserable sufferers. Their shrieks and blasphemies were terrific, and the place resembled a h.e.l.l upon earth.
Jennet escaped, to the dismay of Master Potts, who feared she would wreak her threatened vengeance upon him. And, indeed, he did suffer from aches and cramps, which he attributed to her; but which were more reasonably supposed to be owing to rheum caught in the marshes of Pendle Forest. He had, however, the pleasure of a.s.sisting at her execution, when some years afterwards retributive justice overtook her.
Jennet was the last of the Lancashire Witches. Ever since then witchcraft has taken a new form with the ladies of the county-though their fascination and spells are as potent as ever. Few can now escape them,-few desire to do so. But to all who are afraid of a bright eye and a blooming cheek, and who desire to adhere to a bachelor's condition-to such I should say, "BEWARE OF THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES!"
« Previous My Bookmarks Chapters Next»