“Farewell, sir,” returned Pillichody, raising his hat. “A merry watching, and a good catching, as the sentinels were wont to say, when I served King Charles the First. Sir Paul, I attend you.”
Maurice Wyvil, as his friends conjectured, had found his way into the house. Creeping through the window, and entering a passage, he moved noiselessly along till he reached the head of the kitchen stairs, where, hearing voices below, and listening to what was said, he soon ascertained from the discourse of the speakers, who were no other than old Josyna and Patience, that it was not the grocer’s daughter, but one of his sons, who was attacked by the plague, and that Amabel was in perfect health, though confined in her mother’s bedroom.
Overjoyed at the information he had thus acquired, he retired as noiselessly as he came, and after searching about for a short time, discovered the main staircase, and ascended it on the points of his feet. He had scarcely, however, mounted a dozen steps, when a door opened, and Blaize crawled along the passage, groaning to himself, and keeping his eyes bent on the ground. Seeing he was unnoticed, Wyvil gained the landing, and treading softly, placed his ear at every door, until at last the musical accents of Amabel convinced him he had hit upon the right one.
His heart beat so violently that, for a few seconds, he was unable to move. Becoming calmer, he tried the door, and finding it locked, rapped with his knuckles against it. The grocer’s wife demanded who was there. But Wyvil, instead of returning an answer, repeated his application. The same demand followed, and in a louder key. Still no answer. A third summons, however, so alarmed Mrs. Bloundel, that, forgetful of her husband’s injunctions, she opened the door and looked out; but, as Wyvil had hastily retired into a recess, she could see no one.
Greatly frightened and perplexed, Mrs. Bloundel rushed to the head of the stairs, to see whether there was any one below; and as she did so, Wyvil slipped into the room, and locked the door. The only object he beheld—for he had eyes for nothing else—was Amabel, who, seeing him, uttered a faint scream. Clasping her in his arms, Wyvil forgot, in the delirium of the moment, the jeopardy in which he was placed.
“Do you know what has happened?” cried Amabel, extricating herself from his embrace.
“I know all,” replied her lover; “I would risk a thousand deaths for your sake. You must fly with me.”
“Fly!” exclaimed Amabel; “at such a time as this?—my brother dying—the whole house, perhaps, infected! How can you ask me to fly? Why have you come hither? You will destroy me.”
“Not so, sweet Amabel,” replied Wyvil, ardently. “I would bear you from the reach of this horrible disease. I am come to save you, and will not stir without you.”