“Is he any connexion of hers?” asked the knight, sharply.
“None whatever,” returned Judith, with a significant smile. “But he may possibly be so.”
“I thought as much,” muttered the knight.
“He never shall recover,” said Judith, halting, and speaking in a low tone, “if you make it worth my while.”
“You read my wishes,” replied Parravicin, in a sombre tone. “Take this purse, and free me from him.”
“He will never more cross your path,” replied Judith, eagerly grasping the reward.
“Enough!” exclaimed Parravicin. “What has passed between us must be secret.”
“As the grave which shall soon close over the victim,” she rejoined.
Parravicin shuddered, and hurried away, while Judith returned at a slow pace, and chinking the purse as she went to the vault.
She had scarcely passed through the door, when Nizza Macascree appeared from behind one of the massive pillars. “This dreadful crime must be prevented,” she cried—“but how? If I run to give the alarm, it may be executed, and no one will believe me. I will try to prevent it myself.”
Crossing the channel, she was about to enter the vault, when Chowles stepped forth. She shrank backwards, and allowed him to pass, and then trying the door, found it unfastened.
HOW LEONARD WAS CURED OF THE PLAGUE.
Nizza Macascree found Judith leaning over her intended victim, and examining the plague-spot on his breast. The nurse was so occupied by her task that she did not hear the door open, and it was not until the piper’s daughter was close beside her, that she was aware of her presence. Hastily drawing the blankets over the apprentice, she then turned, and regarded Nizza with a half-fearful, half-menacing look.
“What brings you here again?” she inquired, sharply.
“Ask your own heart, and it will tell you,” rejoined Nizza, boldly. “I am come to preserve the life of this poor youth.”
“If you think you can nurse him better than I can, you can take my place and welcome,” returned Judith, affecting not to understand her; “I have plenty of other business to attend to, and should be glad to be released from the trouble.”
“Can she already have effected her fell purpose?” thought Nizza, gazing at the apprentice, whose perturbed features proclaimed that his slumber procured him no rest from suffering. “No—no—she has not had time. I accept your offer,” she added, aloud.
“But what will your father say to this arrangement?” asked Judith.
“When he knows my motive, he will not blame me,” answered Nizza. “Here I take my place,” she continued, seating herself, “and will not quit it till he is out of danger.”
“Your love for this youth borders upon insanity,” cried Judith, angrily. “You shall not destroy yourself thus.”
“Neither shall you destroy him,” retorted Nizza. “It is to prevent the commission of the crime you meditate, and for which you have been paid, that I am determined to remain with him.”