“What you tell me is by no means satisfactory,” rejoined the king; “but since you have chosen to trust to yourself, you can no longer look for protection from me.”
“I beseech your majesty to consider the strait into which I was driven,” returned Amabel, imploringly.
“Summon the Earl of Rochester to the presence,” said the king, turning from her to Chiffinch.
“In pity, sire,” cried Amabel, throwing herself at his feet.
“Let the injunction be obeyed,” rejoined Charles, peremptorily.
And the chief page departed.
Amabel instantly arose, and drew herself proudly up. Soon afterwards, Rochester made his appearance, and on seeing Amabel, a flush of triumphant joy overspread his features.
“I withdraw my interdiction, my lord,” said the king to him. “You are at liberty to renew your suit to this girl.”
“Hear me, Lord Rochester,” said Amabel, addressing the earl; “I have conquered the passion I once felt for you, and regard you only as one who has sought my ruin, and from whom I have fortunately escaped. When you learn from my own lips that my heart is dead to you, that I never can love you more, and that I only desire to be freed from your addresses, I cannot doubt but you will discontinue them.”
“Your declaration only inflames me the more, lovely Amabel,” replied the earl, passionately. “You must, and shall be mine.”
“Then my death will rest at your door,” she rejoined.
“I will take my chance of that,” rejoined the earl, carelessly.
Amabel then quitted the king’s presence, and returned to her own chamber, where she found Nizza Macascree in a state of indescribable agitation.
“All has happened that I anticipated,” said she to Nizza Macascree. “The king will no longer protect me, and I am exposed to the persecutions of the Earl of Rochester, who is here.”
As she spoke, an usher entered, and informed Nizza Macascree that the king commanded her presence. The piper’s daughter looked at Amabel with a glance of unutterable anguish.
“I fear you must go,” said Amabel, “but Heaven will protect you!”
They then tenderly embraced each other, and Nizza Macascree departed with the usher.
Some time having elapsed, and Nizza not returning, Amabel became seriously uneasy. Hearing a noise below, she looked forth from the window, and perceived the king and all his train departing. A terrible foreboding shot through her heart. She gazed anxiously after them, but could not perceive Nizza Macascree. Overcome at last by her anxiety, she rushed down stairs, and had just reached the last step, when she was seized by two persons. A shawl was passed over her head, and she was forced out of the house.
* * * * *