"Come, my pretty young gent, and I'll tell you your fortune true."
I thought it rather mercenary, but, having spent an hour or so at the Farmers' Arms, I went and sat on my heel in front of her, since she didn't rise. She took my wrist in her bony hand, which seemed startlingly white, like a skeleton one, but it may have been a play of moonlight or daylight through a hole in the hedge. Her hair was grey under the hood, a dirty grey, her face was hollow, but the lower half squarish, in thin lines, like her mouth. But her eyes! I hadn't noticed them so much in daylight—perhaps they had contracted like a cat's—but now they seemed the blackest and most piercing I had ever seen. Piercing, but like a shining black wall when you tried to look into them. And they were fastened on mine. I thought of cheap mesmerism or hypnotism, and all the old tricks and patter, as she repeated in a harsh, cracking voice—
My pretty young gent, you may laugh your last,
"Oh, I've heard that before," I said; "tell me something new, granny? "
"The old before the new," she said; "the old before the new." Then, after a pause that seemed no pause, and with a distant humming in my ears and a sudden feeling of helplessness and heaviness, came a voice, or voices—they didn't seem hers—as of a hundred imps singing round in a great mile wide circle—