Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Women's Genre Fiction Project

The Witch, an electronic edition

by Mary Johnston [Johnston, Mary, 1870-1936]

date: 1914
source publisher: Houghton, Mifflin and Company
collection: Genre Fiction

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THEY lay for a month in prison in London. Then, all procedures having been met, the law would return them to the county where they had offended and the gaol from which they had broken and the gallows field which had waited six years.

They rode from London in company of a sheriff and a dozen horsemen, and they went by the road which Aderhold had travelled years before. He recognised this place and that. Where the ways were bad—and they were often bad—they dismounted and went afoot. So many were with them and so no danger at all was there of escape, that they were left unshackled, were even let to draw a little to themselves. At first the guard was rough of tongue, ready with frequent, unneeded commands, ready with coarse gibes. But the two answered quietly, or were silent without sullenness, and there was something in them that gave check. . . . At last the men conveyed them without insult, without much further speech to them direct. At night, when they came to town or village, they were lodged in the gaol. When they passed where there were people, and if it became known what manner of felons were here, they met with savage jeers and execrations. Sometimes | | 421 mud was thrown, sometimes flints. But it was not the guard's cue to tell names and offence—and England was not as populous then as now—and there were long miles of lonely peace. To Joan and Aderhold they seemed at times miles of a beautiful, a sunny peace. They knew how to talk together with few words, with a glance of the eye. And there were many times when, some space allowed them and the guards talking among themselves, the road became as it were their own. Then they spoke freely, though with low voices.

It was late summer, with autumn well in view upon the slope of the year. The landscape was growing russet, and none the less fair for that. And it was England—England after the blue plains of the sea and the low, coral isles. And it was country and pure air after the fetid London prison. And it was the land where they were born—it was home, seen after years away. These green fields and spreading trees—this English sky—these birds and flowers and crystal streams—these were no foes of theirs. These had never cast them out. Here as elsewhere, the great round earth had its own orthodoxy, but took scant heed of man's. . . . They saw England after long absence; and for all that they were to be slain here, they could find it beautiful, and for all that they knew where ended this road, they played with the happenings upon it.

Twenty miles out from London the sheriff's horse cast a shoe, and at the next smithy all must halt | | 422 until Grey Dick was shod. The smithy stood in the pleasant shadow of an oak so great that it must have been growing when the Conqueror came over. The hot smithy fire glowed within, iron struck rhythmically against iron. Beyond the tree was a well, and all were thirsty. They had not drawn bridle for several hours. The men dismounted—the two prisoners were given leave to do likewise, even to rest upon the earth beneath the oak.

The four children of the smith sat upon a log and watched with an intensity of interest horses and men and all their movements, and the man and woman half sitting, half lying beneath the oak. The smithy dog came up to these two, snuffed around them, and then lay down at their feet. Clink! Clink! and the trees began to wave in an afternoon breeze, and the voices of the men about the well and the smithy door sounded cheerful and hardy. The two had no misliking for the bright world. They sat watching the children. . . . The youngest child, a yellow-haired mite of three, would make an excursion of its own from the log, past the oak, to the door. In the course of the journey it came upon a protruding root, stumbled over it and fell. Joan sprang forward and lifted it to its feet. "There, there! You 're not hurt—Look at the pretty flower you fell against!" The child decided not to cry, laughed instead. Joan's arm curved about the sturdy small form and pressed it to her. "Ah, what a good baby!"—The child was willing to stay and play, | | 423 but with suddenness found herself released, given a gentle push back toward the three upon the log. Joan took her seat again upon the turf. "It was n't wise to touch her. It's strange that it should be so, but if any saw they might bring it against her when she is grown."

She spoke without any pain for herself in her voice, but with yearning and tenderness for the child. "Now she's there and happy! She's got a stick to play with."

"Joan, Joan!" said Aderhold. "There will come a day—"

The horse was shod, the well-water drunk, guard and prisoners took again the road. The smith and his man had, at the last, their curiosity satisfied. "Witches and wizards!—Nay, if I had known that—"

The road presented its stream, here full, here very thin, of autumn travel. Little pictures and the whole picture had a clear, a vivid interest. Market people went by, drovers with cattle, sturdy beggars, children, country girls and swains, carters and their carts, mounted travel of merchants or justices or churchmen or country gentlemen. The mounted travel would always, authoritatively, have its curiosity gratified. "A ward with prisoners!—Who are your prisoners, sheriff?" The second morning it was a party of young gallants who would know this. They wore feathered hats, fine riding-clothes, boots of soft leather, their hair somewhat long and | | 424 curled. They were for King and Church—would all live, perhaps, to fight on that side. "Prisoners! What are your prisoners, sirrah!" Then, when they knew,—"Witch! Witch! A young witch, too! Let's see her—Zounds! Who's the man? . . . The Hawthorn two who fled! Gilbert Aderhold—Joan Heron!". Certain of these gallants had been in London and knew of the recapture. It had been common talk. The king had learned of it. "Joan Heron!—Joan Heron! Let'see—let's see! Grey eyes—gold hair—no, hair like bronze, pale bronze. . . . Would you dare to kiss a witch?"—"No!"—"Yes!"—"No!"—"Yes, I would!"—"To make the Devil jealous—that were a parlous thing!"—"Parlous or not, if she hath grey eyes and red lips—"—"Kiss her—clip her in thy arms and tonight she will come as succuba and kiss and clip thee! Then hark to thy roar, ' Avaunt, thou hag! Will none save me from the foul fiend?'"—"Joan Heron! Rememberest the ballad, THE DEVIL AND JOAN HERON?"—"But thou'rt not called 'Daredevil' for naught!"—"Do you dare me?"—"Yes, yes! We dare you!"—"Kiss her hard, clip her fast—No, no. Master Sheriff! Fair play—make a ring! . . . Now! Now!" . . . "Well, thou hast courage!" . . . "She did not struggle,—as do honest women or those who would be thought honest!" "Tonight, tonight, when thou hast put out the light, look to find her!"—"Ha, ha! ha, ha! JOAN HERON—"

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They won away from those of the feathered hats. Space widened between the two cavalcades, the voices of the gallants died from the ear. The road lay bright and sunny, the morning air blew fresh and sweet. The great earth swept calm to the horizon, the sky sprang, a pure and cloudless arch. For a long way the road ran lonely of travellers other than the sheriff, his men, and the prisoners. Joan and Aderhold, riding together, talked in low tones. After a time they were passing through a forest. They loved the brown earth and the bracken, the boughs overhead, the purple distances.

"I remember this wood," said Aderhold. "I lay and rested under these trees and wondered what was before me. . . . And I could not see thee.—I did not know the lovely thing that was before me."

And that night, at home, I slept and dreamed—and saw not thee."

"There are glories in our lives. With every pain and sorrow counted in, we have not been unhappy."

"No. Pain did not win. And the light was brighter yesterday than the day before, and brighter today than yesterday. . . . Look at the bird flying up!"

The third night the troop did not arrive, in time for rest, at any town or village. A heavy rain had fallen and delayed progress. They came at dark to three or four mean houses, clustered around one of better proportions, an inn by the sign just made out through the dusk and the autumn mists. There | | 426 was not much to eat, but it might be made to do—straw could be shaken down—there was a great fireplace where blazing warmth might be had. . . . To Joan and Aderhold, accustomed to the sun, good was this warmth! There was one great stone-flagged room, large as a baron's hall. When the dozen men of their guard disposed themselves, there was yet space where the ruddy glow might reach them, dry their clothing wet with the rain, warm their bodies. Where there was not overmuch for any, their portion of supper was small, indeed, but it sufficed. When all would sleep, lying about the fire upon the straw which the inn's servitors brought in, the two were thrust to a corner at the far end of the place, farthest from the door. A watch was set—a stanch man relieved each two hours by another. The sheriff meant no slipping of the wizard and witch out of his fingers. But sleeping time was not yet come. The two sat to one side, watched, but no more closely than was thought necessary.

Beside the sheriff and his men there were the host and hostess, three or four uncouth servingmen and maids, and one other traveller, belated like the rest. This was a gentle-faced old man, the parson, it was learned, of a parish a dozen miles away. . . . The night before, in a town of fair size, the names of his prisoners becoming known, the sheriff had had trouble to rescue them from the mob that gathered. This day, therefore, he would keep secret the full heinousness of the pair—along the way and here it | | 427 was said only that they were a man and woman accused of witchcraft and apostasy, being transferred from one gaol to another.

Under this description the inn folk looked aside at them with great curiosity and fear. At supper time none could be found willing to carry to them from the kitchen their bit of coarse bread and pitcher of water. The host was busied elsewhere; the hostess put down her foot that she would not; the men and maids laughed vacantly and stared, but would not budge in that direction. The old man, the parson, who chanced to be by, uttered a word of gentle chiding, then, as all still hung back, himself picked up the bread and water and carried them to the two. They thanked him. He stood looking at them with a gentle, pained face. Called to supper at the long table where the sheriff and his men were noisily taking places, he went away. But presently, his own frugal meal quickly made, he came back. Theirs, too, was made. They were seated on the stone flooring, shoulder against the wall, hand touching hand. They had no look of wicked folk.

The old man found a stool, brought it and sat down beside them. "You look worn and tired. The roads have been bad today."

He spoke to Joan. "Bad here and there," she said. "We are a little tired."

The old man sat looking from one to the other. Then he spoke with simplicity. "Is it true that you are apostates from religion?"

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"What," said Aderhold, "is religion?—Is it love of good? Then, with our hand in death's, I dare aver that we are not apostates!" He smiled at the old man. "Since we entered this room you have shown us a piece of religion."

"I would show you truly," said the old man earnestly. "I would show you Jesus."

Aderhold answered gently. "You do so, sir. Believe that all of us know Jesus when we meet him."

The old man looked from one to the other. "You do not seem to me wicked people. I know not how it is, but you seem—" The sheriff and his men rose noisily from table. There immediately ensued a bustle in the place—boards and trestles being taken away—bundles of straw brought in—men going forth to look after the horses—men coming in with the breath of the wet night. One came and called the old parson, drew him away toward the small inner room where he was to rest. Going, he said but one word more to the two. "Good-night. I wish you good sleep."

The host who had called him held up his hands. "Reverend sir, I marvel how you can stand to talk with such miscreants—"

Joan and Aderhold lay upon the stone floor and slept. . . . Night passed, the rain ceased, the clouds broke, dawn came with magnificence. The old parson, approaching, too, in the course of nature, his death hour, slept on like a child in the inner room. But Joan and Aderhold went forward with the | | 429 guard. The inn sank from sight, the road stretched before them.

This day, riding into a village, they found there, the centre until their arrival of excited interest, no less a matter than an officer of the law with three or four subordinates, come from the town to which they were bound—despatched thence by the authorities with orders to meet upon the way the party known to be bringing from London that witch and sorcerer, join themselves to it, and so give touch of that town and county's importance, assuming charge, as it were, even leagues away, of their own sinful ones. . . . Aderhold and Joan recognized the head figure—across the years they saw him again at the Hawthorn trials—a tall, lean, saturnine minor piece of the law's machinery who had herded the prisoners in and out of that hall of judgement. He was so tall and lean and lantern-jawed and grim that he might have been a prize man for the rôle of Death in a mystery play. For his part he came and looked at them, threw back his head and laughed. "Ha, ha!" he said. "We've got you back! The wicked do not prosper!" With that he returned to the sheriff with whom he would ride. . . . This village was of the places where stones and other matters were flung, together with whatever epithet came to the lips. Joan and Aderhold opposed a quietness. Both were bleeding when at last the law persuaded or threatened down the raised hands and bore them away for its own blows. Out even upon the open | | 430 road came, borne by the wind, "Witch—Witch—Witch! Vile Witch!"

There was a man with the added party who proved to be of kin to the Hawthorn end of the county. He knew Hawthorn and Hawthorn Forest. Riding near to the two prisoners and discoursing with his fellows, the two heard mention of many a familiar name. He had a body of great bulk and a round, good-humoured face, and a liking for his own speech which he delivered—so as not to disturb his superiors—in a monotone of low pitch. The two heard him talk of the Hawthorn crops and fields and weather, of the times good and bad, of the stock, the sheep and cattle, of the streams and woods, of the people. . . . This day was a high, cool autumn day with a tang in the air. The sun shone, but there was a wind and whirling leaves. Joan and Aderhold knew that now there were not many miles. . . . At dusk they halted within a hamlet where the folk were too few to do more than stare and talk. There was no gaol. The two were thrust into a damp and dark place where firewood was piled. Bread and water were given them, but no straw for sleeping upon. When the heavy door was shut and barred, and those without and the hamlet's self sunk into sleep or silence, all was as black, as cold and still, as the grave is supposed to be.

The two knew that next day they would reach the town and the prison from which, six years and more ago, they had fled away. There they would be | | 431 separated. . . . Probably they would die together—would be brought forth together to die—might then each reach the other's hand, might clasp it until nearly the last. But not again in this life would they be together like this, alone together, free, shut from the world. . . . Tonight, at first, all things flowed away save the fact that they loved, save human passion and sorrow and clinging. They lay in the space left by the heaped firewood, in the intense dark, and they held each other in their arms, close, close! as if to defy all parting, and there were broken words and sighs and tears. The last night—the last night—

The higher mood returned, though slowly, slowly. With the bending of the night toward dawn, it was here. They lay with clasped hands, and when they spoke they spoke of love. All things else flowed away, or did not flow away, for it was now as though love tinted all, made the vast whole warm and vital. . . . They spoke of their child, and of their island life and home; they spoke of the old chief. They spoke of people they had known and loved—of old Roger Heron, of Master Hardwick of many, of all people. The draff and dross, the crooked and bent, all came into the glow, the solvent. Love—love—love! . . . Love took this form and took that form, and now it flew with these wings, and now with other wings—and it was love of the body and the earth and all nature, and it was love of wisdom—love of knowledge—love of the search—love of love— | | 432 love of truth! It was love that was not afraid—that rose on splendid wings—that outwatched the night and saw the morning coming. . . .

Outside began, faintly, a stirring. A cock crew and was answered. A dog barked—the cock-crow came again. A grey light stole in at the keyhole and under the door of the windowless place they were in. It strengthened until they could make out each other's face and form. The dog barked again, men's voices were heard.

Joan and Aderhold rose to their knees, to their feet, steadying each other, holding by the firewood. The place, through the night, had had the chill of the sepulchre. They knew it to be their last moment together; hereafter, to the end, there would be others by. They stood locked in each other's arms, their lips meeting. . . . Steps were heard without and the fall of the chain from across the door. They released each other, they stood apart. The door swung open, light rushed in. "Come forth, you wicked ones! Time to ride on—and tonight we'll lodge you in the nest you flew from!"

There could not have been a fairer autumn day. And now as they rode the country grew more and more familiar. . . . While the day was yet young, all were halted for a few minutes before a tavern set among trees, its sign a great rose painted on a black ground. While ale in jacks and tankards was brought forth for the guardians of the law, the two prisoners had brief speech together.

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"The Rose Tavern," said Aderhold. "It was in this place that I first met Master Hardwick. It was here that came the turn toward Hawthorn."

"We have not far to go now."

"No, not far."

In the doorway stood the tall hostess that Aderhold remembered. She stood with arms akimbo, regarding the prisoners with a mien so hostile as to approach the ferocious. "Aaah!" she said. "I'd like to help bring straw and wood!'' She spat toward the two. "Have n't I had things bewitched?—a gold earring taken from under my eyes, and our ricks burned, and ill luck for a year running—and a bat this summer came flapping through the house every eve, and none could beat it down!" She was speaking to the constable's man who knew Hawthorn. "Wherever that vile witch has been this weary time, be sure she's sent her word out over all these parts to do us harm—"

"And that's very possible," said the round-faced man.

"Are n't you going to take them by Hawthorn?"

"Yes," answered the other. "Turn off this side of town—go round by Hawthorn Wood—then through Hawthorn, and so back to town and the prison. It's miles out, but Hawthorn wants it done. There's a murmur of more witches—and it's good warning to see how such folk fare!"

Joan and Aderhold, startled, exchanged glances. They had not thought of that—of coming to their | | 434 prison from the Hawthorn end. They would be longer together. Joan's lips parted. "And Haw-thorn Forest—Ah, maybe we shall see Heron's cottage—"

The sun and shadow on the road, the waving trees, the white fleets of clouds in a blue, blue sky. . . . They came to the crossroads with the suicide's grave—they came to the rise of earth where stood the gibbet with its swinging chains—they came to a view of the castle wood and the castle and the town beyond. One of the men asked a question of the round-faced man. "Who lives up there?"

"The earl," said the round-faced man. "But he's away now. It used to be that if he was n't there his cousin, Sir Richard, was. But Sir Richard went to France, and they say he married there and has a son.—I used to know Gervaise his man. But Gervaise has gone too."

The sun made of the castle woods golden woods. Joan could see the Black Tower—see where deep among the trees would be the huntsman's house. A great bird rose above the gold-green and sailed away. . . . Here, a mile from the first outlying house, was the narrow and little-used road that, curving aside from the town, led through some miles of country, tilled and untilled, to Hawthorn Forest; then, with a half turn, came at its leisure to Hawthorn, and so touched again the highway. They took this road.

Until they came to a stream, in size between a | | 435 brook and a river, the country was to the two as the other familiar country. But this was the stream that murmured past the Oak Grange. They were riding by its shore, they were going toward the Grange—now indeed it grew to be known land. Aderhold knew every winding. . . . The two rode as in a dream. Before them, in the distance, in a golden haze, rose a forest. "Hawthorn Wood"—and Joan's voice made the words dreamy music. The sun was warm now, the sky was blue, the leaves were falling, but without sadness, ready to go, to return once more to the elements, build again. The stream bent and the road with it. There came a long reach of murmuring water, sliding by a pebbly strand. Across it now were fields that once had gone with the Oak Grange. . . . A little farther, and they saw the old house, and before it the fairy oak.

Just at the footbridge across the stream sounded an order to halt. The lean, grim man whom the town had sent spoke in a harsh and rattling voice. "This is where he made gold and practised sorcery.—Thou God-denier! behold thy old lair, how accursed it looks!"

To the two it did not seem accursed. It stood an old, deserted, ruinous house, but the ivy was green upon it, and the sunshine bathed it, and the swallows circled above the roof. The oak tree in front lived, and from its acorns were growing other oaks. . . . Joan and Aderhold looked long and earnestly. The air was thronged with memories and there | | 436 seemed a weaving music. They were not unhappy—the artifex within them was not unhappy. But those that were with them thought that they must be so.

The horses were in motion again. And now the road turned and became Hawthorn Forest road that ran to Hawthorn. The Oak Grange passed from sight, the murmur of the stream left the ears. They were within Hawthorn Forest. The great trees rose around; there fell gold shafts of light; there came the odour, damp and rich, of the forest mould deepening, deepening since old time. Down a purple vista they saw deer moving—a faint wind was blowing—there was a drifting, drifting down of leaves. . . . To Joan and Aderhold this forest breathed music.They were glad to be here once again. They knew the single trees and the groups of trees, they knew each picture within a picture: loved the detail and loved the whole. It was sweet, before death, to have been in Hawthorn Wood again.

Heron's cottage. When they were forth from the forest they would see that plainly, riding by. Perhaps they would draw rein there too. The red crept into Joan's cheek, her grey eyes grew bright and wistful. . . . The forest stopped; the grassy road brought them out into full sunshine, a high blue sky arching the open, autumn country. Heron's cottage. . . . There was yet the green path from the road, yet the fruit trees, bronze now and trembling in the wind—but there was no thatched cottage. "Vile | | 437 witch!" said the tall man, "Hawthorn burned your house."

Hawthorn—there was no great distance now to Hawthorn. There had never been much passing on this road, little human life going up and down. This day there seemed none; moreover, a cot or two by the wayside showed no folk about the doors, appeared shut and left to care for themselves. At dawn a man had been sent forward on a fresh horse—the loneliness of the road now connected itself with that. "Everybody's gone to Hawthorn," said the round-faced man.

Hawthorn Church, stone amid stone-like yew trees, Hawthorn roofs showed over the rim of the fields. Out of a coppice rose a lark and soaring high sang up there in the blue. The Hawthorn Forest road joined the highroad; guard and prisoners coming upon this turned now to Hawthorn village. Carthew House—they passed Carthew House—they passed the outlying cottages, among them that of Alison Inch—they came into Hawthorn and to Hawthorn Church and Master Clement's house. Here were the people. . . .

A bench had been placed by the churchyard gate, and upon this stood Master Clement, raised as by a pulpit over Hawthorn. Near him stood Squire Carthew and his brother, and the latter stood grim and grey as granite. It was his intention to rise in church the coming Sunday and before all Hawthorn acknowledge that six-years-past sin. He owed that | | 438 to God. The confession might or might not put in jeopardy his future in England, but, however that might be, he would make it—make it publicly! So he might have peace and could go on with the great work, assured that God had forgiven. . . . For today he had made himself come hither, taking it as part of his duty. Master Clement had urged that it was his duty. With a stern face he gazed upon the two, but they, after one glance, looked at him no more.

All around, packed in the churchyard and the street, were the people of Hawthorn and its neighbourhood. How many familiar faces they saw—but how few out of which superstition had not razed kindliness! Heretofore on this journey, where they had been set in the eye of a gathered crowd, the two had met with physical blows no less than with hard words. But the Hawthorn throng was held in hand. No stone or clod or refuse was thrown. The hard words arose, broke over them heavily, a sordid and bitter wave. But this, too, the minister checked. He raised his arms and flung them wide, he shook his lean and nervous hands. Thrust to the front of the throng stood the tinker with whom Joan had once walked on the road from the town. "Hist, hist!" said the tinker. "Now will they hear their last sermon!"

"'And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged according to their works. . . | | 439 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire!'

"'And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Hawthorn drew in its breath and shivered with that sermon. They said that it was the greatest that Master Clement had ever preached, and he had preached a-many great ones! Some of the simpler folk almost looked for fire to come down from heaven and consume the wicked leech and that vilest witch where they stood. It would have been a wonderful sight and lesson! But doubtless God wanted the forms of the law carried out—though they could not but still think how wonderful would have been a visible sign. . . .

Joan and Aderhold were an hour in Hawthorn. . . . It passed; all hours passed, though some, and this among them, went on wounded feet.

It passed. They were in motion again. The Hawthorn folk that cried bitter words behind them, the narrow street, the small, familiar houses with dooryards where the flowers were fading, the alehouse, the green, the sexton's house, other houses, the elms and willows that marked the village end—all were overpassed, left behind. Here at last was the open road, and they had six miles to ride together. . . . Hawthorn faded from the mind.

It was afternoon. The gold light lay softly over | | 440 the country that had always seemed to them a very fair country—that seemed so still. The wind had fallen. They rode side by side. Those that guarded them were tired with the long day and its various excitements. These rode in silence or talked among themselves in voices somewhat subdued, and for a time let the prisoners go unmarked. When they came within sight of the town it would be different. Then all would straighten in their saddles and closely surround the two, assuming the proper air of vigilance. But now they allowed them to ride side by side and gave no heed to what words they might speak to each other.

They were simple words that Joan and Aderhold spoke—old, old words of love and tenderness. They spoke of courage. And they spoke of Truth, the Origin and Goal. And they loved each other, and the light of all suns, and they found song and sweetness, promise and fulfilment even in this autumnal day. . . .

The miles fell away like the leaves from the trees. The ground rose; they had a great view bathed in the amber light. There flowed a gleaming crescent. "The river!" said Joan.

The town that they had seen from the south, now they saw from the north. They saw the river and the arched bridge, the climbing streets and many roofs; they saw the great church and near it the dark prison, and above the town the castle and the castle wood. The sun was sinking, the light was reddening; | | 441 above, the sky sprang pure, without a stain, for the fleets of clouds had sailed away.

The tall, lean man spoke. "Witch and blasphemer! do you see yon ragged field sloping down? That is where we will hang you."

Joan and Aderhold, going toward the river, looked upon the ragged field with steadfastness, but gave but few moments to that sight. Before them was the arched bridge, and they saw, even on this side of it, people gathering. Presently the sheriff's men would come between them, surrounding each, making one go before the other. Now they had these last few moments side by side. Their hands might touch, their eyes be eloquent. Farewell—and farewell—and oh, fare you well, love—my love! . . .

The road descended to the river and the bridge. There arose the sound they knew from the crowd they knew. The sheriff's men pushed between them; they must go one before the other. So each might be better seen as well as better guarded. They crossed the river; they mounted the steep street; they came to the town square, past the great church's sculptured portal. . . . The two had been ordered to dismount, were now afoot. . . . Here was the pillory—here was the black prison's frowning front, the prison steps, the open door. . . . The setting sun flooded the place with red light. A flint, flung by some strong arm, had cut Aderhold's forehead. With his hand he wiped the blood away and looked to see Joan. She was upon the prison steps, lifted so | | 442 that the roaring crowd might see her. That great light from the sun beat strongly upon face and form. The form was drawn to its height, the face was high, resolved, and beautiful. But the crowd shouted, "The witch! The witch! Look at the light as of fire! The fire has her already! Witch—Witch—Witch!"

Joan mounted the last step, the black prison gaped for her, she entered. Aderhold, mounting, met also that great shaft of light. The voice of the crowd swelled, grew phrensied, but he heeded it not, and with a face lit from within followed Joan into the prison.

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