“She has seen Rochester,” muttered the apprentice, turning away.
IN WHAT MANNER THE GROCER VICTUALLED HIS HOUSE.
Leonard Holt was wrong in his suspicions. Amabel had neither seen nor heard from Rochester. But, if the truth must be told, he was never out of her mind, and she found, to her cost, that the heart will not be controlled. Convinced of her noble lover’s perfidy, and aware she was acting wrongfully in cherishing a passion for him, after the exposure of his base designs towards herself, no reasoning of which she was capable could banish him from her thoughts, or enable her to transfer her affections to the apprentice.
This conflict of feeling produced its natural result. She became thoughtful and dejected—was often in tears—had no appetite—and could scarcely rouse herself sufficiently to undertake any sort of employment. Her mother watched her with great anxiety, and feared—though she sought to disguise it from herself—what was the real cause of her despondency.
Things were in this position at the end of the month, and it occasioned no surprise to Mrs. Bloundel, though it afflicted her deeply, to find that Amabel sedulously avoided the apprentice’s regards on their first meeting. When Doctor Hodges was gone, and the rest of the family had retired, she remarked to her husband, “Before you shut up the house as you propose, I should, wish one important matter settled.”
The grocer inquired what she meant.
“I should wish to have Amabel married,” was the answer.
“Married!” exclaimed Bloundel, in astonishment. “To whom?”
“To Leonard Holt.”
Bloundel could scarcely repress his displeasure.
“It will be time enough to talk of that a year hence,” he answered.
“I don’t think so,” returned his wife; “and now, since the proper time for the disclosure of the secret has arrived, I must tell you that the gallant who called himself Maurice Wyvil, and whom you so much dreaded, was no other than the Earl of Rochester.”
“Rochester!” echoed the grocer, while an angry flush stained his cheek; “has that libertine dared to enter my house?”
“Ay, and more than once,” replied Mrs. Bloundel.
“Indeed!” cried her husband, with difficulty controlling his indignation. “When was he here?—tell me quickly.”
His wife then proceeded to relate all that had occurred, and he listened with profound attention to her recital. At its close, he arose and paced the chamber for some time in great agitation.
At length he suddenly paused, and, regarding his wife with great sternness, observed, in a severe tone, “You have done very wrong in concealing this from me, Honora—very wrong.”
“If I have erred, it was to spare you uneasiness,” returned Mrs. Bloundel, bursting into tears. “Doctor Hodges agreed with me that it was better not to mention the subject while you had so many other anxieties pressing upon you.”