A short struggle took place between him and Leonard, in which the hitter strove to break away; but the earl, drawing his sword, held it to his throat.
“Deliver up your mistress instantly,” he cried, in a menacing tone, “or you are a dead man.”
Leonard returned a peremptory refusal.
“Hold!” exclaimed Amabel, springing from the horse; “I will not be the cause of bloodshed. I implore you, my lord, to desist from this outrage. You will gain nothing by it but my death.”
“Let him touch you at his peril,” cried John Lutcombe, rushing towards them, and interposing his stalwart person between her and the earl.
“Stand aside, dog!” cried Rochester furiously, “or I will trample you beneath my horse’s hoofs.”
“You must first get near me to do it,” rejoined the keeper. And as he spoke he struck the horse so violent a blow with a stout oaken cudgel with which he was provided, that the animal became unmanageable, and dashed across the downs to some distance with his rider.
Meanwhile, Parravicin having ridden up with Pillichody (for they proved to be the earl’s companions) assailed Blaize, and commanded him to deliver up Nizza Macascree. Scared almost out of his senses, the porter would have instantly complied, if the piper’s daughter had not kept fast hold of him, and reproaching him with his cowardice, screamed loudly for help. Heedless of her cries, Parravicin seized her, and strove to drag her from the horse; but she only clung the closer to Blaize, and the other, expecting every moment to pay another visit to the ground, added his vociferations for assistance to hers.
“Leave go your hold,” he cried, to Pillichody, who had seized him on the other side by the collar. “Leave go, I say, or you will rend my jerkin asunder. What are you doing here? I thought you were to help us to escape.”