“I must make the attempt, however,” he said to himself; “the only means of reclaiming this lost—this miserable—this still most lovely and most unhappy girl, must rest in her father’s appeal to the broken laws of his country. I must haste to apprise him of this heartrending intelligence.”
As Tressilian, thus conversing with himself, approached to try some means of opening the door, or climbing over it, he perceived there was a key put into the lock from the outside. It turned round, the bolt revolved, and a cavalier, who entered, muffled in his riding-cloak, and wearing a slouched hat with a drooping feather, stood at once within four yards of him who was desirous of going out. They exclaimed at once, in tones of resentment and surprise, the one “Varney!” the other “Tressilian!”
“What make you here?” was the stern question put by the stranger to Tressilian, when the moment of surprise was past—“what make you here, where your presence is neither expected nor desired?”
“Nay, Varney,” replied Tressilian, “what make you here? Are you come to triumph over the innocence you have destroyed, as the vulture or carrion-crow comes to batten on the lamb whose eyes it has first plucked out? Or are you come to encounter the merited vengeance of an honest man? Draw, dog, and defend thyself!”
Tressilian drew his sword as he spoke, but Varney only laid his hand on the hilt of his own, as he replied, “Thou art mad, Tressilian. I own appearances are against me; but by every oath a priest can make or a man can swear, Mistress Amy Robsart hath had no injury from me. And in truth I were somewhat loath to hurt you in this cause—thou knowest I can fight.”
“I have heard thee say so, Varney,” replied Tressilian; “but now, methinks, I would fain have some better evidence than thine own word.”
“That shall not be lacking, if blade and hilt be but true to me,” answered Varney; and drawing his sword with the right hand, he threw his cloak around his left, and attacked Tressilian with a vigour which, for a moment, seemed to give him the advantage of the combat. But this advantage lasted not long. Tressilian added to a spirit determined on revenge a hand and eye admirably well adapted to the use of the rapier; so that Varney, finding himself hard pressed in his turn, endeavoured to avail himself of his superior strength by closing with his adversary. For this purpose, he hazarded the receiving one of Tressilian’s passes in his cloak, wrapped as it was around his arm, and ere his adversary could, extricate his rapier thus entangled, he closed with him, shortening his own sword at the same time, with the purpose of dispatching him. But Tressilian was on his guard, and unsheathing his poniard, parried with the blade of that weapon the home-thrust which would otherwise have finished the combat, and, in the struggle which followed, displayed so much address, as might have confirmed, the opinion that he drew his origin from Cornwall whose natives are such masters in the art of wrestling, as, were the games of antiquity revived, might enable them to challenge all Europe to the ring. Varney, in his ill-advised attempt, received a fall so sudden and violent that his sword flew several paces from his hand and ere he could recover his feet, that of his antagonist was; pointed to his throat.