"I profess, madam," answered the clergyman, with a grave
obeisance, such as the lady's rank demanded, and his own good
breeding made imperative--"I profess, on my conscience and
character, that I am utterly bewildered as touching the purport
of your words! I went not into the forest to seek a potentate,
neither do I, at any future time, design a visit thither, with a
view to gaining the favour of such personage. My one sufficient
object was to greet that pious friend of mine, the Apostle
Eliot, and rejoice with him over the many precious souls he hath
won from heathendom!"
"Ha, ha, ha!" cackled the old witch-lady, still nodding her high
head-dress at the minister. "Well, well! we must needs talk thus
in the daytime! You carry it off like an old hand! But at
midnight, and in the forest, we shall have other talk together!"
She passed on with her aged stateliness, but often turning back
her head and smiling at him, like one willing to recognise a
secret intimacy of connexion.
"Have I then sold myself," thought the minister, "to the fiend
whom, if men say true, this yellow-starched and velveted old hag
has chosen for her prince and master?"