Thus they parted, the priest to return to his self-sacrificing labors among the Indians, at no distant period to end in that crown of martyrdom after which his soul panted, and the Knight to his post of observation near the English colony.
“So full of passion were his amorous
So artfully the wicked jade dissembled,
So well each sighed ridiculous romances,
That for them both, I vow, I fairly trembled.”
During the absence of the Knight and his young friend, events had occurred which require us to shift the scene of our theatre to Boston and its environs.
The indefatigable Spikeman continued to prosecute his intrigues with his accustomed audacity. The evil passion which he had conceived for the pretty Prudence, so far from being checked by the repulses he received from the wily maiden—repulses which left room for hope—only stimulated to redoubled exertion. He was like a sportsman, whose eagerness in the pursuit of game is only heightened by its shyness and difficulty of capture; and, with no disparagement of the virtue of the coquettish girl, it must be admitted that, for the want of something better to exercise her active faculties, (the difficulties of her interviews with Philip having increased since his banishment,) she found a mischievous delight in the power she possessed over Spikeman, and in playing off her caprices at his expense. So far, indeed, by her blandishments, had she succeeded in blinding his eyes and subjecting him to her power, that she herself wondered at her success. The path which she was treading was dangerous, but her youthful presumption, and the pleasure she derived from the influence which the insane passion of the Assistant gave her over him, stopped her ears to the warnings of prudence and the suggestions of propriety. If Philip Joy, whom with no divided affection she loved in her own way, had known all, he would scarcely have been so contented at the dwelling of Sir Christopher. Yet, as we have seen, did Prudence make no secret to Philip of the admiration of Spikeman; and, after the first conversation in which she disclosed it, had more than once laughed with him at the advances of her antiquated lover. But her disclosures were made in such a manner—with such a half-telling of the truth—with such a revelation here, and a concealment there, as to provoke more merriment than apprehension.
Nor, while indulging a feeling which cannot be called love, was Spikeman regardless of his hatreds. He strove by every means to excite distrust and ill-will against Sir Christopher and Arundel. As for the humble Philip, he hardly looked upon him any longer as a rival, such had been the success of the deceitful Prudence. With these preliminary observations, the reader is prepared for what follows.
It was at the house of the Assistant Spikeman, and there were no persons in the room save himself and Prudence. The door was closed, and the girl was standing with a besom in one hand, while the Assistant, who was seated, had hold of the other, and was looking up into her hazel eyes. He drew her down with a force which was not resisted, and imprinted a kiss on the cheek she half averted.