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‘Now, now, good people,’ returned Miss Ingram, ‘don’t press upon
me. Really your organs of wonder and credulity are easily excited:
you seem, by the importance you all-my good mama included-
ascribe to this matter, absolutely to believe we have a genuine
witch in the house, who is in close alliance with the old gentleman.
I have seen a gipsy vagabond; she has practised in hackneyed
fashion the science of palmistry and told me what such people
usually tell. My whim is gratified; and now I think Mr. Eshton will
do well to put the hag in the stocks to-morrow morning, as he

Miss Ingram took a book, leant back in her chair, and so declined
further conversation. I watched her for nearly half an hour: during
all that time she never turned a page, and her face grew momently
darker, more dissatisfied, and more sourly expressive of
disappointment. She had obviously not heard anything to her
advantage: and it seemed to me, from her prolonged fit of gloom
and taciturnity, that she herself, notwithstanding her professed
indifference, attached undue importance to whatever revelations
had been made her.

Meantime, Mary Ingram, Amy and Louisa Eshton, declared they
dared not go alone; and yet they all wished to go. A negotiation
was opened through the medium of the ambassador, Sam; and
after much pacing to and fro, till, I think, the said Sam’s calves
must have ached with the exercise, permission was at last, with
great difficulty, extorted from the rigorous Sibyl, for the three to
wait upon her in a body.

Their visit was not so still as Miss Ingram’s had been: we heard
hysterical giggling and little shrieks proceeding from the library;
and at the end of about twenty minutes they burst the door open,
and came running across the hall, as if they were half-scared out of
their wits.

‘I am sure she is something not right!’ they cried, one and all. ‘She
told us such things! She knows all about us!’ and they sank
breathless into the various seats the gentlemen hastened to bring

Pressed for further explanation, they declared she had told them of
things they had said and done when they were mere children;
described books and ornaments they had in their boudoirs at
home: keepsakes that different relations had presented to them.
They affirmed that she had even divined their thoughts, and had
whispered in the ear of each the name of the person she liked best
in the world, and informed them of what they most wished for.
Here the gentlemen interposed with earnest petitions to be further
enlightened on these two last-named points; but they got only
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