“Title!” exclaimed Leonard.
“Ay, title!” echoed Thirlby. “The title I once bore was that of Lord Argentine.”
“I am glad to hear it,” said Leonard, “for I began to fear Sir Paul Parravicin was your son.”
“Sir Paul Parravicin, or, rather, the Lord Argentine, for such is his rightful title, is my son,” returned Thirlby; “and I lament to own I am his father. When among his worthless associates,—nay, even with the king—he drops the higher title, and assumes that by which you have known him; and it is well he does so, for his actions are sufficient to tarnish a far nobler name than that he bears. Owing to this disguise I knew not he was the person who carried off my daughter. But, thank Heaven, another and fouler crime has been spared us. All these things have been strangely explained to me to-night. And thus, you see, young man, the poor piper’s daughter turns out to be the Lady Isabella Argentine.” Before an answer could be returned, the door was opened by Hodges, and both starting to their feet, hurried towards him.
THE TRIALS OF AMABEL.
It will now be necessary to return to the period of Amabel’s abduction from Kingston Lisle. The shawl thrown over her head prevented her cries from being heard; and, notwithstanding her struggles, she was placed on horseback before a powerful man, who galloped off with her along the Wantage-road. After proceeding at a rapid pace for about two miles, her conductor came to a halt, and she could distinguish the sound of other horsemen approaching. At first she hoped it might prove a rescue; but she was quickly undeceived. The shawl was removed, and she beheld the Earl of Rochester, accompanied by Pillichody, and some half-dozen mounted attendants. The earl would have transferred her to his own steed, but she offered such determined resistance to the arrangement, that he was compelled to content himself with riding by her aide. All his efforts to engage her in conversation were equally unsuccessful. She made no reply to his remarks, but averted her gaze from him; and, whenever he approached, shrank from him with abhorrence. The earl, however, was not easily repulsed, but continued his attentions and discourse, as if both had been favourably received.
In this way they proceeded for some miles, one of the earl’s attendants, who was well acquainted with the country, being in fact a native of it, serving as their guide. They had quitted the Wantage-road, and leaving that ancient town, renowned as the birthplace of the great Alfred, on the right, had taken the direction of Abingdon and Oxford. It was a lovely evening, and their course led them through many charming places. But the dreariest waste would have been as agreeable as the richest prospect to Amabel. She noted neither the broad meadows, yet white from the scythe, nor the cornfields waving with their deep and abundant,