“Indeed!” exclaimed Blaize, angrily. “I’ll go and acquaint my master with the trick directly.”
“Do so,” replied Patience, “and the house will be shut up to-morrow. Our only chance of averting that calamity is in the earl.”
HOW THE GROCER SHUT UP HIS HOUSE.
Placed in a warm bed, and carefully tended by the humane physician, Leonard Holt slept tranquilly for some hours, and when he awoke, though so weak as scarcely to be able to lift an arm, he was free from all ailment. Feeling ravenously hungry, he made known his wants; and, provisions being set before him, he was allowed to eat and drink in moderation. Greatly revived by the meal, he arose and attired himself in habiliments provided for him by Hodges, who, finding him fully equal to conversation, questioned him as to all that had occurred prior to his seizure.
“You have acted nobly,” observed the doctor, at the close of his recital; “and if Amabel had a spark of generosity in her composition, she would worthily requite you. But I do not expect it. How different is her conduct from that of the piper’s pretty daughter. The latter really loves you; and I would advise you as a friend to turn your thoughts to her. She will make you happy: whereas the indulgence of your present hopeless passion—for hopeless it is—can only lead to wretchedness.”
“Would I could follow your advice!” replied Leonard; “but, alas! I cannot. Amabel does not love the Earl of Rochester more blindly, more constantly, than I love her; and I could as soon change my nature as transfer my affection to another.”
“I am truly sorry for it,” rejoined Hodges, in a tone of deep sympathy. “And you still desire to return to your master?”
“Unquestionably,” replied Leonard. “If I am banished the house, I shall wander round it night and day like a ghost.”
“I will accompany you there this evening,” rejoined Hodges, “and I trust I shall be able to arrange matters without compromising Amabel. I wish I could forward your suit more efficiently; but I see no chance of it, and, to deal plainly with you, I do not think a marriage with her would be for your happiness. The brilliant qualities of your noble rival at present so dazzle her eyes, that your own solid worth is completely overlooked. It will be well if her father can preserve her from ruin.”
“The earl shall die by my hand rather than he shall succeed in his infamous purpose,” cried Leonard, fiercely.
“No more of this!” exclaimed Hodges. “If you would have me take an interest in you, you will never give utterance to such a sentiment again. Amabel has another guardian, more powerful even than her father—the plague. Ere long the earl, who has a sufficient value for his own safety, will fly the city.”
“I hope the pestilence will number him among its victims,” observed Leonard, in a sombre tone.