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she was sure she could have him punished if he continued obstinate, and she would not be exposed to witchcraft and sorcery; for she did not know to what length he might carry it.
To bring the story to a conclusion; she got the better of him to such a degree, that he offered to refer the thing to indifferent persons, friends on both sides ; and they met several times, but could bring it to no conclusion. His friends said there was nothing in it, and they would not have him comply with anything upon the pretence of it; that he called for his son, and somebody opened the casement and cried, Here; that there was not the least evidence of witchcraft in that, and insisted that she could make nothing of it.
Her friends carried it high, instructed by her: she offered to swear that he had threatened her before with his son's ghost; that now he visibly raised a spectre; for that calling upon his son, who was dead to be sure, the ghost immediately appeared ; that he could not have called up the Devil thus to personate his son, if he had not dealt with the Devil himself, and had a familiar spirit, and that this was of dangerous consequence to her.
Upon the whole, the man wanted courage to stand it, and was afraid of being exposed; so that he was grievously perplexed, and knew not what to do.
When she found him humbled as much as she could desire, she told him, if he would do her justice, as she called it, (that is to say, settle his estate upon her son,) she would
up, on condition that he should promise to fright her no more with raising the Devil.
That part of the proposal exasperated him again, and he upbraided her with the slander of it, and told her he defied her, and she might do her worst.
Thus it broke off all treaty, and she began to threaten him again; however, at length she brought him to comply, and he gives a writing under his hand to her, some of her friends being by, promising that he would comply if his son did not arrive, or send an account of himself, within four months.
She was satisfied with this, and they were all made friends again, and accordingly he gave the writing; but when he delivered it to her in presence of her two arbitrators, he took the liberty to say to her, with a grave and solemn kind of speech :
Look you, says he, you have worried me into this agreement by your fiery temper, and I have signed it against justice, conscience, and reason; but depend upon it, I shall never perform it.
One of the arbitrators said, Why, sir, this is doing nothing; for if you resolve not to perform it, what signifies the writing? why do you promise what you do not intend shall be done ? This will but kindle a new flame to begin with, when the time fixed expires.
Why, says he, I am satisfied in my mind that my son is alive.
Come, come, says his wife, speaking to the gentleman that had argued with her husband, let him sign the agreement, and let me alone to make him perform the conditions.
Well, says her husband, you shall have the writing, and you shall be let alone; but I am satisfied you
will never ask me to perform it; and yet I am no wizard, adds he, as you have wickedly suggested.
She replied, that she would prove that he dealt with the Devil, for that he raised an evil spirit by only calling his son by his name; and so began to tell the story of the hand and the casement.
Come, says the man to the gentleman that was her friend, give me the pen ; I never dealt with but one devil in my life, and there it sits, turning to his wife; and now I have made an agreement with her that none but the Devil would desire any man to sign, and I will sign it; I say, give me the pen,
but she nor all the devils in hell will ever be able to get it executed ; remember I say so.
She began to open at him, and so a new flame would have been kindled, but the gentlemen moderated between them, and her husband setting his hand to the writing put an end to the fray at that time.
At the end of four months she challenged the performance, and a day was appointed, and her two friends that had been the arbitrators were invited to dinner upon this occasion, believing that her husband would have executed the deeds; and accordingly the writings were brought all forth, engrossed, and read over; and some old writings, which at her marriage were signed by her trustees, in order to her quitting some part of the estate to her son, were also brought to be cancelled : the husband being brought over, by fair means or foul, I know not whether, to be in a humour, for peace' sake, to execute the deeds, and disinherit his son ; alleging that, indeed, if he was dead it was no wrong to him, and if he was alive, he was very unkind and undutiful to his father, in not letting him hear from him in all that time.
Besides, it was urged that if he should at any time afterwards appear to be alive, his father (who had
very much increased, it seems, in his wealth) was able to give him another fortune, and to make him a just satisfaction for the loss he should sustain by the paternal estate.
Upon these considerations, I say, they had brought over the poor low-spirited husband to be
almost willing to comply; or, at least, willing or unwilling, it was to be done, and, as above, they met accordingly.
When they had discoursed upon all the particulars, and, as above, the new deeds were read over, she her husband took the old writings up to cancel
I think the story says it was the wife, not her husband, that was just going to tear off the seal, when on a sudden they heard a rushing noise in the parlour where they sat, as if somebody had come in at the door of the room which opened from the hall, and went through the room towards the garden door, which was shut.
They were all surprised at it, for it was very distinct, but they saw nothing. The woman turned pale, and was in a terrible fright; however, as nothing was seen, she recovered a little, but began to ruffle her husband again.
What, says she, have you laid your plot to bring up more devils again?
The man sat composed, though he was under no little surprise too.
One of her gentlemen said to him, What is the meaning of all this?
I protest, sir, says he, I know no more of it than
What can it be then ? said the other gentleman.
I cannot conceive, says he, for I am utterly unacquainted with such things. Have you heard nothing from
Not one word, says the father, no, not the least word these five years.
Have you wrote nothing to him, says the gentleman, about this transaction ?
Not a word, says he ; for I know not where to direct a letter to him.
Sir, says the gentleman, I have heard much of apparitions, but I never saw any in
life, nor did I ever believe there was anything of reality in them; and, indeed, I saw nothing now; but the passing of somebody, or spirit, or something, across the room just now, is plain ; I heard it distinctly. I believe there is some unseen thing in the room, as much as if I saw it.
Nay, says the other arbitrator, I felt the wind of it as it passed by me. Pray, adds he, turning to the husband, do you see nothing yourself?
No, upon my word, says he, not the least appearance in the world.
I have been told, says the first arbitrator, and have read, that an apparition may be seen by some people and be invisible to others, though all in the same room together.
However, the husband solemnly protested to them all that he saw nothing.
Pray, sir, says the first arbitrator, have you seen anything at any other time, or heard any voices or noises, or had any dreams about this matter?
Indeed, says he, I have several times dreamed my son is alive, and that I had spoken with him ; and once that I asked him why he was so undutiful, and slighted me so, as not to let me hear of him in so many years, seeing he knew it was in my power to disinherit him.
Well, sir, and what answer did he give?
I never dreamed so far on as to have him answer; it always waked me.
And what do you think of it yourself, says the arbitrator, do
think he's dead ? No, indeed, says the father, I do believe in my conscience he's alive, as much as I believe I am alive myself; and I am going to do as wicked a thing of its kind as ever any man did.
Truly, says the second arbitrator, it begins to shock me, I don't know what to say to it; I don't