“God be praised!” exclaimed Bloundel, falling on his knees.
Hodges then gave minute directions to the grocer as to how he was to proceed, and told him it would be necessary for some time to keep his family separate. To this Bloundel readily agreed. The doctor’s next inquiries were, whether notice had been given to the Examiner of Health, and the grocer referring to Leonard, the latter acknowledged that he had forgotten it, but undertook to repair his omission at once.
With this view, he quitted the room, and was hastening towards the shop, when he observed a figure on the back stairs. Quickly mounting them, he overtook on the landing Maurice Wyvil.
* * * * *
THE GAMESTER AND THE BULLY.
Before proceeding further, it will be necessary to retrace our steps for a short time, and see what was done by Maurice Wyvil after the alarming announcement made to him by the apprentice. Of a selfish nature and ungovernable temper, and seeking only in the pursuit of the grocer’s daughter the gratification of his lawless desires, he was filled, in the first instance, with furious disappointment at being robbed of the prize, at the very moment he expected it to fall into his hands. But this feeling was quickly effaced by anxiety respecting his mistress, whose charms, now that there was every probability of losing her (for Leonard’s insinuation had led him to believe she was assailed by the pestilence), appeared doubly attractive to him; and scarcely under the governance of reason, he hurried towards Wood-street, resolved to force his way into the house, and see her again, at all hazards. His wild design, however, was fortunately prevented. As he passed the end of the court leading to the ancient inn (for it was ancient even at the time of this history), the Swan-with-two-Necks, in Lad-lane, a young man, as richly attired as himself, and about his own age, who had seen him approaching, suddenly darted from it, and grasping his cloak, detained him.
“I thought it must be you, Wyvil,” cried this person. “Where are you running so quickly? I see neither angry father, nor jealous apprentice, at your heels. What has become of the girl? Are you tired of her already?”
“Let me go, Lydyard,” returned Wyvil, trying to extricate himself from his companion’s hold, who was no other than the gallant that had accompanied him on his first visit to the grocer’s shop, and had played his part so adroitly in the scheme devised between them to procure an interview with Amabel,—“let me go, I say, I am in no mood for jesting.”
“Why, what the plague is the matter?” rejoined Lydyard. “Has your mistress played you false? Have you lost your wager?”
“The plague is the matter,” replied Wyvil, sternly. “Amabel is attacked by it. I must see her instantly.”
“The devil!” exclaimed Lydyard. “Here is a pretty termination to the affair. But if this is really the case, you must not see her. It is one thing to be run through the arm,—which you must own I managed as dexterously as the best master of fence could have done,—and lose a few drops of blood for a mistress, but it is another to brave the plague on her account.”