And as the apprentice moved towards the house, he tried to drag her in that direction.
“I cannot—will not fly thus,” she cried.
“What is the matter?” exclaimed Leonard, suddenly turning.
“Further disguise is useless,” replied the supposed Gregory Swindlehurst. “I am the Earl of Rochester. The other was a counterfeit.”
“Ah!” exclaimed Leonard, rushing towards them, and placing a pistol against the breast of his mistress? “Have I been duped? But it is not yet too late to retrieve my error. Move a foot further, my lord,—and do you, Amabel, attempt to fly with him, and I fire.”
“You cannot mean this?” cried Rochester. “Raise your hand against the woman you love?”
“Against the woman who forgets her duty, and the libertine who tempts her, the arm that is raised is that of justice,” replied Leonard. “Stir another footstep, and I fire.”
As he spoke, his arms were suddenly seized by a powerful grasp from behind, and, striking the pistols from his hold, the earl snatched up Amabel in his arms, and, mounting the ladder, made good his retreat.
A long and desperate struggle took place between Leonard and his assailant, who was no other than Pillichody, in his assumed character of Bernard Boutefeu. But notwithstanding the superior strength of the bully, and the advantage he had taken of the apprentice, he was worsted in the end.
Leonard had no sooner extricated himself, than, drawing his sword, he would have passed it through Pillichody’s body, if the latter had not stayed his hand by offering to tell him where he would find his mistress, provided his life were spared.
“Where has the earl taken her?” cried Leonard, scarcely able to articulate from excess of passion.
“He meant to take her to Saint Paul’s,—to the vaults below the cathedral, to avoid pursuit,” replied Pillichody. “I have no doubt you will find her there.”
“I will go there instantly and search,” cried Leonard, rushing up the ladder.
THE BLIND PIPER AND HIS DAUGHTER
Scarcely knowing how he got there, Leonard Holt found himself at the great northern entrance of the cathedral. Burning with fury, he knocked at the door; but no answer being returned to the summons, though he repeated it still more loudly, he shook the heavy latch with such violence as to rouse the sullen echoes of the aisles. Driven almost to desperation, he retired a few paces, and surveyed the walls of the vast structure, in the hope of descrying some point by which he might obtain an entrance.