Mr. Bloundel then entered into conversation with the youth, who informed him that his name was Flitcroft, that he was without a home, all his relations having died of the plague, and that he was anxious to serve as a watchman in place of the poor wretch who had just been removed. Leonard remonstrated against this arrangement, but Mr. Bloundel was so much pleased with Flitcroft’s conduct that he would listen to no objection. Accordingly provisions were lowered down in a basket to the poor youth, and he stationed himself in the hutch. Nothing material occurred during the day. Flitcroft resigned his post to Dallison, but returned in the evening.
At midnight, Leonard took his turn to watch. It was a bright moonlight night, but though he occasionally looked out into the street, and perceived Flitcroft below, he gave no intimation of his presence. All at once, however, he was alarmed by a loud cry, and opening the shutter, perceived the youth struggling with two persons, whom he recognised as Sir Paul Parravicin and Pillichody.
He shouted to them to release their captive, but they laughed at his vociferations, and in spite of his resistance dragged the youth away. Maddened at the sight, Leonard lowered the rope as quickly as he could with the intention of descending by it. At this moment, Flitcroft turned an agonized look behind him, and perceiving what had been done, broke suddenly from his captors, and before he could be prevented, sprang into the basket, and laid hold of the rope. Leonard, who had seen the movement, and divined its object, drew up the pulley with the quickness of thought; and so expeditiously was the whole accomplished, that ere the knight and his companion reached the spot, Flitcroft was above their heads, and the next moment was pulled through the window, and in safety by the side of Leonard.
HOW FIRES WERE LIGHTED IN THE STREETS.
Nizza Macascree, for it is useless to affect further mystery, as soon as she could find utterance, murmured her thanks to the apprentice, whose satisfaction at her deliverance was greatly diminished by his fears lest his master should disapprove of what he had done. Seeing his uneasiness, and guessing the cause, Nizza hastened to relieve it.
“I reproach myself bitterly for having placed you in this situation!” she said, “but I could not help it, and will free you from my presence the moment I can do so with safety. When I bade you farewell, I meant it to be for ever, and persuaded myself I could adhere to my resolution. But I was deceived. You would pity me, were I to tell you the anguish I endured. I could not accompany my poor father in his rambles; and if I went forth at all, my steps involuntarily led me to Wood-street. At last, I resolved to disguise myself, and borrowed this suit from a Jew clothesman, who has a stall in Saint Paul’s. Thus equipped, I paced backwards and forwards before the house, in the hope of obtaining a glimpse of you, and fortune has favoured me more than I expected, though it has led to this unhappy result. Heaven only knows what will become of me!” she added, bursting into tears. “Oh! that the pestilence would select me as one of its victims. But, like your own sex, it shuns all those who court it.”