“What are you about to do?” gasped Rochester, struggling ineffectually to get free.
“Bid Stephen bring a cord,” cried the grocer.
“You are not going to hang him?” inquired Mrs. Bloundel.
“Do as I bid you,” rejoined her husband, “and lose no time.”
As she was about to leave the room, the door opened, and Doctor Hodges entered, followed by Leonard and Stephen.
“Mercy on us! what’s the matter?” cried the former, in astonishment.
“You are just arrived in time to prevent mischief,” replied Mrs. Bloundel. “Pray interfere between them. My husband will attend to you.”
“Arise, my lord,” said Mr. Bloundel, removing his foot from the prostrate nobleman; “you are sufficiently punished by being found in this disgraceful condition. Remember that your life has been at my disposal.”
Thus liberated, Rochester sprang to his feet, and regarding the group with a menacing and disdainful look, walked up to Amabel, and saying to her, “You shall yet be mine,” strode out of the room. He then marched along the passage, and called to Pillichody, who instantly answered the summons. Accompanied by Hodges, the grocer followed them to the shop, where the bully not departing so quickly as he desired, and refusing to be more expeditious, he kicked him into the street. This done, and the door fastened, he tarried only till he had received all needful explanations from the friendly physician, and then returning to the inner room, warmly greeted Leonard, and congratulated him on his extraordinary recovery from the plague.
Happiness was thus once more restored to every member of the grocer’s family, except Amabel, who still continued downcast and dejected, and entreated permission to retire to her own room. A cheerful evening was then passed by the others, and the doctor did not offer to take his departure till the clock struck eleven.
“It is the last night I shall spend here for some months,” he said; “perhaps the last I shall ever spend here, and I have stayed longer than I intended, but I did not like to abridge my enjoyment.” After shaking hands cordially with the whole party, he added in an under tone, as he took leave of Leonard, “Do not forget Nizza Macascree.”
On the following day the grocer nailed up the shutters, and locked and barred the doors of his house.
BOOK THE THIRD.
THE IMPRISONED FAMILY.
The first few days of their confinement were passed by the grocer’s family in a very uncomfortable manner. No one, except Mr. Bloundel, appeared reconciled to the plan, and even he found it more difficult of accomplishment that he had anticipated. The darkness of the rooms, and the want of ventilation caused by the closed windows and barred doors, gave the house the air of a prison, and occasioned a sense