Accordingly, the young man turned aside, but took care to watch his
companion, who advanced softly along the road, until he had come within
a staff's length of the old dame. She, meanwhile, was making the best of
her way, with singular speed for so aged a woman, and mumbling some indistinct
words, a prayer, doubtless, as she went. The traveller put forth his staff,
and touched her withered neck with what seemed the serpent's tail.
"The devil!" screamed the pious old lady.
"Then Goody Cloyse knows her old friend?" observed the traveller, confronting
her, and leaning on his writhing stick.
"Ah, forsooth, and is it your worship, indeed?" cried the good dame.
"Yea, truly is it, and in the very image of my old gossip, Goodman Brown,
the grandfather of the silly fellow that now is. But--would your worship
believe it?--my broomstick hath strangely disappeared, stolen, as I suspect,
by that unhanged witch, Goody Cory, and that, too, when I was all anointed
with the juice of smallage and cinque-foil and wolf's-bane--"
"Mingled with fine wheat and the fat of a new-born babe," said the
shape of old Goodman Brown.
"Ah, your worship knows the recipe," cried the old lady, cackling aloud.
"So, as I was saying, being all ready for the meeting, and no horse to
ride on, I made up my mind to foot it; for they tell me, there is a nice
young man to be taken into communion to-night. But now your good worship
will lend me your arm, and we shall be there in a twinkling."