Old Saint Paul's
William Harrison Ainsworth
Part 3 out of 12
The grocer shook his head.
"Good day, Mr. Bloundel," said Hodges. "I shall visit you to-morrow, and
hope to find your son as well as I leave him. Chowles, you will be
answerable for the safe custody of Mrs. Malmayns."
"I have no desire to escape, sir," replied the nurse. "You will find
everything as I have represented."
"We shall see," replied the doctor. "If not, you will have to tend the
sick in Newgate."
The trio then proceeded to Saint Paul's, and descended to the vaults.
Hodges carefully examined the body of the unfortunate sexton, but though
he entertained strong suspicions, he could not pronounce positively that
he had been improperly treated; and as the statement of Mrs. Malmayns
was fully borne out by the vergers and others, he did not think it
necessary to pursue the investigation further. As soon as he was gone,
Judith accompanied the coffin-maker to his residence, where she
remained, till the evening, when she was suddenly summoned, in a case of
urgency, by a messenger from Sibbald, the apothecary of Clerkenwell.
After Parravicin's terrible announcement, Disbrowe offered him no
further violence, but, flinging down his sword, burst open the door, and
rushed upstairs. His wife was still insensible, but the fatal mark that
had betrayed the presence of the plague to the knight manifested itself
also to him, and he stood like one entranced, until Mrs. Disbrowe,
recovering from her swoon, opened her eyes, and, gazing at him,
cried--"You here!--Oh Disbrowe, I dreamed you had deserted me--had sold
me to another."
"Would it were a dream!" replied her husband.
"And was it not so?" she rejoined, pressing her hand to her temples. "It
is true! oh! yes, I feel it is. Every circumstance rushes upon me
plainly and distinctly. I see the daring libertine before me. He stood
where you stand, and told me what you had done."
"What did he tell you, Margaret?" asked Disbrowe in a hollow voice.
"He told me you were false--that you loved another, and had abandoned
"He lied!" exclaimed Disbrowe, in a voice of uncontrollable fury. "It is
true that, in a moment of frenzy, I was tempted to set you--yes, _you_,
Margaret--against all I had lost at play, and was compelled to yield up
the key of my house to the winner. But I have never been faithless to
"Faithless or not," replied his wife, bitterly, "it is plain you value
me less than play, or you would not have acted thus."
"Reproach me not, Margaret," replied Disbrowe; "I would give worlds to
undo what I have done."
"Who shall guard me against the recurrence of such conduct?" said Mrs.
Disbrowe, coldly. "But you have not yet informed me how I was saved."
Disbrowe averted his head.
"What mean you?" she cried, seizing his arm. "What has happened? Do not
keep me in suspense? Were you my preserver?"
"Your preserver was the plague," rejoined Disbrowe, in a sombre tone.
The unfortunate lady then, for the first time, perceived that she was
attacked by the pestilence, and a long and dreadful pause ensued, broken
only by exclamations of anguish from both.
"Disbrowe!" cried Margaret, at length, raising herself in bed, "you have
deeply--irrecoverably injured me. But promise me one thing."
"I swear to do whatever you may desire," he replied.
"I know not, after what I have heard, whether you have courage for the
deed," she continued. "But I would have you kill this man."
"I will do it," replied Disbrowe.
"Nothing but his blood can wipe out the wrong he has done me," she
rejoined. "Challenge him to a duel--a mortal duel. If he survives, by my
soul, I will give myself to him."
"Margaret!" exclaimed Disbrowe.
"I swear it," she rejoined. "And you know my passionate nature too well
to doubt I will keep my word."
"But you have the plague!"
"What does that matter? I may recover."
"Not so," muttered Disbrowe. "If I fall, I will take care you do not
recover. I will fight him to-morrow," he added aloud.
He then summoned his servants, but when they found their mistress was
attacked by the plague, they framed some excuse to leave the room, and
instantly fled the house. Driven almost to his wits' end, Disbrowe went
in search of other assistance, and was for a while unsuccessful, until a
coachman, to whom he applied, offered, for a suitable reward, to drive
to Clerkenwell--to the shop of an apothecary named Sibbald (with whose
name the reader is already familiar), who was noted for his treatment of
plague patients, and to bring him to the other's residence. Disbrowe
immediately closed with the man, and in less than two hours Sibbald made
his appearance. He was a singular and repulsive personage, with an
immense hooked nose, dark, savage-looking eyes, a skin like parchment,
and high round shoulders, which procured him the nickname of Aesop among
his neighbours. He was under the middle size, and of a spare figure, and
in age might be about sixty-five.
On seeing Mrs. Disbrowe, he at once boldly asserted that he could cure
her, and proceeded to apply his remedies. Finding the servants fled, he
offered to procure a nurse for Disbrowe, and the latter, thanking him,
eagerly embraced the offer. Soon after this he departed. In the evening
the nurse, who (as may be surmised) was no other than Judith Malmayns,
arrived, and immediately commenced her functions.
Disbrowe had no rest that night. His wife slept occasionally for a few
minutes, but, apparently engrossed by one idea, never failed when she
awoke to urge him to slay Parravicin; repeating her oath to give herself
to the knight if he came off victorious. Worn out at length, Disbrowe
gave her a terrible look, and rushed out of the room.
He had not been alone many minutes when he was surprised by the entrance
of Judith. He eagerly inquired whether his wife was worse, but was
informed she had dropped into a slumber.
"Hearing what has passed between you," said the nurse, "and noticing
your look when you left the room, I came to tell you, that if you fall
in this duel, your last moments need not be embittered by any thoughts
of your wife. I will take care she does not recover."
A horrible smile lighted up Disbrowe's features.
"You are the very person I want," he said. "When I would do evil, the
fiend rises to my bidding. If I am slain, you know what to do. How shall
I requite the service?"
"Do not concern yourself about that, captain," rejoined Judith. "I will
take care of myself."
About noon, on the following day, Disbrowe, without venturing to see his
wife, left the house, and proceeded to the Smyrna, where, as he
expected, he found Parravicin and his companions.
The knight instantly advanced towards him, and, laying aside for the
moment his reckless air, inquired, with a look of commiseration, after
"She is better," replied Disbrowe, fiercely. "I am come to settle
accounts with you."
"I thought they were settled long ago," returned Parravicin, instantly
resuming his wonted manner. "But I am glad to find you consider the debt
Disbrowe lifted the cane he held in his hand, and struck the knight with
it forcibly on the shoulder. "Be that my answer," he said.
"I will have your life first, and your wife afterwards," replied
"You shall have her if you slay me, but not otherwise," retorted
Disbrowe. "It must be a mortal duel."
"It must," replied Parravicin. "I will not spare you this time."
"Spare him!" cried Pillichody. "Shield of Agamemnon! I should hope not.
Spit him as you would a wild boar."
"Peace, fool!" cried Parravicin. "Captain Disbrowe, I shall instantly
proceed to the west side of Hyde Park, beneath the trees. I shall expect
you there. On my return I shall call on your wife."
"I pray you do so, sir," replied Disbrowe, disdainfully.
Both then quitted the coffee-house, Parravicin attended by Rochester and
Pillichody, and Disbrowe accompanied by a military friend, whom he
accidentally encountered. Each party taking a coach, they soon reached
the ground,--a retired spot, completely screened from observation by
trees. The preliminaries were soon arranged, for neither would admit of
delay. The conflict then commenced with great fury on both sides; but
Parravicin, in spite of his passion, observed far more caution than his
antagonist; and, taking advantage of an unguarded movement, occasioned
by the other's impetuosity, passed his sword through his body.
"You are again successful," he groaned, "but save my wife--save her."
"What mean you?" cried Parravicin, leaning over him, as he wiped his
But Disbrowe could make no answer. His utterance was choked by a sudden
effusion of blood on the lungs, and he instantly expired. Leaving the
body in care of the second, Parravicin and his friends returned to the
coach, where the major rejoiced greatly at the issue of the duel; but
the knight looked grave, and pondered upon the words of the dying man.
After a time, however, he recovered his spirits, and dined with his
friends at the Smyrna; but they observed that he drank more deeply than
usual. His excesses did not, however, prevent him from playing with his
usual skill, and he won a large sum from Rochester at hazard.
Flushed with success, and heated with wine, he walked up to Disbrowe's
residence about an hour after midnight. As he approached the house, he
observed a strangely-shaped cart at the door, and, halting for a moment,
saw a body, wrapped in a shroud, brought out. Could it be Mrs. Disbrowe?
Rushing forward, to one of the assistants in black cloaks--and who was
no other than Chowles--he asked whom he was about to inter.
"It is a Mrs. Disbrowe," replied the coffin-maker. "She died of grief,
because her husband was killed this morning in a duel; but as she had
the plague, it must be put down to that. We are not particular in such
matters, and shall bury her and her husband together; and as there is no
money left to pay for coffins, they must go to the grave without them.
What, ho! Mother Malmayns, let Jonas have the captain as soon as you
have stripped him. I must be starting."
And as the body of his victim was brought forth, Parravicin fell against
the wall in a state almost of stupefaction.
At this moment Solomon Eagle, with his brazier on his head, suddenly
turned the corner of the street, and stationing himself before the
dead-cart, cried in a voice of thunder, "Woe to the libertine! woe to
the homicide! for he shall perish in everlasting fire! Woe! woe!"
BOOK THE SECOND.
PROGRESS OF THE PESTILENCE.
Towards the middle of May, the bills of mortality began to swell greatly
in amount, and though but few were put down to the plague, and a large
number to the spotted fever (another frightful disorder raging at the
period), it is well known that the bulk had died of the former disease.
The rigorous measures adopted by the authorities (whether salutary or
not has been questioned), in shutting up houses and confining the sick
and sound within them for forty days, were found so intolerable, that
most persons were disposed to run any risk rather than be subjected to
such a grievance, and every artifice was resorted to for concealing a
case when it occurred. Hence, it seldom happened, unless by accident,
that a discovery was made. Quack doctors were secretly consulted,
instead of the regular practitioners; the searchers were bribed to
silence; and large fees were given to the undertakers and buriers to lay
the deaths to the account of some other disorder. All this, however, did
not blind the eyes of the officers to the real state of things.
Redoubling their vigilance, they entered houses on mere suspicion;
inflicted punishments where they found their orders disobeyed or
neglected; sent the sound to prison,--the sick to the pest-house; and
replaced the faithless searchers by others upon whom they could place
reliance. Many cases were thus detected; but in spite of every
precaution, the majority escaped; and the vent was no sooner stopped in
one quarter than it broke out with additional violence in another.
By this time the alarm had become general. All whose business or
pursuits permitted it, prepared to leave London, which they regarded as
a devoted city, without delay. As many houses were, therefore, closed
from the absence of the inhabitants as from the presence of the plague,
and this added to the forlorn appearance of the streets, which in some
quarters were almost deserted. For a while, nothing was seen at the
great outlets of the city but carts, carriages, and other vehicles,
filled with goods and movables, on their way to the country; and, as may
be supposed, the departure of their friends did not tend to abate the
dejection of those whose affairs compelled them to remain behind.
One circumstance must not be passed unnoticed, namely, the continued
fineness and beauty of the weather. No rain had fallen for upwards of
three weeks. The sky was bright and cloudless; the atmosphere,
apparently, pure and innoxious; while the heat was as great as is
generally experienced in the middle of summer. But instead of producing
its usual enlivening effect on the spirits, the fine weather added to
the general gloom and apprehension, inasmuch as it led to the belief
(afterwards fully confirmed), that if the present warmth was so
pernicious, the more sultry seasons which were near at hand would
aggravate the fury of the pestilence. Sometimes, indeed, when the deaths
were less numerous, a hope began to be entertained that the distemper
was abating, and confidence was for a moment restored; but these
anticipations were speedily checked by the reappearance of the scourge,
which seemed to baffle and deride all human skill and foresight.
London now presented a lamentable spectacle. Not a street but had a
house in it marked with a red cross--some streets had many such. The
bells were continually tolling for burials, and the dead-carts went
their melancholy rounds at night and were constantly loaded. Fresh
directions were issued by the authorities; and as domestic animals were
considered to be a medium of conveying the infection, an order, which
was immediately carried into effect, was given to destroy all dogs and
cats. But this plan proved prejudicial rather than the reverse, as the
bodies of the poor animals, most of which were drowned in the Thames,
being washed ashore, produced a horrible and noxious effluvium, supposed
to contribute materially to the propagation of the distemper.
No precautionary measure was neglected; but it may be doubted whether
any human interference could have averted the severity of the scourge,
which, though its progress might be checked for a few days by attention,
or increased in the same ratio by neglect, would in the end have
unquestionably fulfilled its mission. The College of Physicians, by the
king's command, issued simple and intelligible directions, in the mother
tongue, for the sick. Certain of their number, amongst whom was the
reader's acquaintance, Doctor Hodges, were appointed to attend the
infected; and two out of the Court of Aldermen were required to see that
they duly executed their dangerous office. Public prayers and a general
fast were likewise enjoined. But Heaven seemed deaf to the supplications
of the doomed inhabitants--their prayers being followed by a fearful
increase of deaths. A vast crowd was collected within Saint Paul's to
hear a sermon preached by Doctor Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury,--a
prelate greatly distinguished during the whole course of the visitation,
by his unremitting charity and attention to the sick; and before the
discourse was concluded, several fell down within the sacred walls, and,
on being conveyed to their own homes, were found to be infected. On the
following day, too, many others who had been present were seized with
A fresh impulse was given to the pestilence from an unlooked for cause.
It has been mentioned that the shutting up of houses and seclusion of
the sick were regarded as an intolerable grievance, and though most were
compelled to submit to it, some few resisted, and tumults and
disturbances ensued. As the plague increased, these disturbances became
more frequent, and the mob always taking part against the officers, they
were frequently interrupted in the execution of their duty.
About this time a more serious affray than usual occurred, attended-with
loss of life and other unfortunate consequences, which it may be worth
while to relate, as illustrative of the peculiar state of the times. The
wife of a merchant, named Barcroft, residing in Lothbury, being attacked
by the plague, the husband, fearing his house would be shut up, withheld
all information from the examiners and searchers. His wife died, and
immediately afterwards one of his children was attacked. Still he
refused to give notice. The matter, however, got wind. The searchers
arrived at night, and being refused admittance, they broke into the
house. Finding undoubted evidence of infection, they ordered it to be
closed, stationed a watchman at the door, and marked it with the fatal
sign. Barcroft remonstrated against their proceedings, but in vain. They
told him he might think himself well off that he was not carried before
the Lord Mayor, who would undoubtedly send him to Ludgate; and with
other threats to the like effect, they departed.
The unfortunate man's wife and child were removed the following night in
the dead-cart, and, driven half-mad by grief and terror, he broke open
the door of his dwelling, and, plunging a sword in the watchman's
breast, who opposed his flight, gained the street. A party of the watch
happened to be passing at the time, and the fugitive was instantly
secured. He made a great clamour, however,--calling to his neighbours
and the bystanders to rescue him, and in another moment the watch was
beaten off, and Barcroft placed on a post, whence he harangued his
preservers on the severe restraints imposed upon the citizens, urging
them to assist in throwing open the doors of all infected houses, and
allowing free egress to their inmates.
Greedily listening to this insane counsel, the mob resolved to act upon
it. Headed by the merchant, they ran down Thread-needle-street, and,
crossing Stock's Market, burst open several houses in Bearbinder-lane,
and drove away the watchmen. One man, more courageous than the others,
tried to maintain his post, and was so severely handled by his
assailants, that he died a few days afterwards of the injuries he had
received. Most of those who had been imprisoned within their dwellings
immediately issued forth, and joining the mob, which received fresh
recruits each moment, started on the same errand.
Loud shouts were now raised of--"Open the doors! No plague prisoners! No
plague prisoners!" and the mob set off along the Poultry. They halted,
however, before the Great Conduit, near the end of Bucklersbury, and
opposite Mercer's Hall, because they perceived a company of the
Train-bands advancing to meet them. A council of war was held, and many
of the rabble were disposed to fly; but Barcroft again urged them to
proceed, and they were unexpectedly added by Solomon Eagle, who,
bursting through their ranks, with his brazier on his head, crying,
"Awake! sleepers, awake! the plague is at your doors! awake!" speeded
towards the Train-bands, scattering sparks of fire as he pursued his
swift career. The mob instantly followed, and, adding their shouts to
his outcries, dashed on with such fury that the Train-bands did not dare
to oppose them, and, after a slight and ineffectual resistance, were put
Barcroft, who acted as leader, informed them that there was a house in
Wood-street shut up, and the crowd accompanied him thither. In a few
minutes they had reached Bloundel's shop, but finding no one on
guard--for the watchman, guessing their errand, had taken to his
heels--they smeared over the fatal cross and inscription with a pail of
mud gathered from the neighbouring kennel, and then broke open the door.
The grocer and his apprentice hearing the disturbance, and being greatly
alarmed at it, hurried to the shop, and found it full of people.
"You are at liberty Mr. Bloundel," cried the merchant, who was
acquainted with the grocer. "We are determined no longer to let our
families be imprisoned at the pleasure of the Lord Mayor and aldermen.
We mean to break open all the plague houses, and set free their
"For Heaven's sake, consider what you are about, Mr. Barcroft," cried
the grocer. "My house has been closed for nearly a month. Nay, as my son
has entirely recovered, and received his certificate of health from
Doctor Hodges, it would have been opened in three days hence by the
officers; so that I have suffered all the inconvenience of the
confinement, and can speak to it. It is no doubt very irksome, and may
be almost intolerable to persons of an impatient temperament: but I
firmly believe it is the only means to check the progress of contagion.
Listen to me, Mr. Barcroft--listen to me, good friends, and hesitate
before you violate laws which have been made expressly to meet this
Here he was checked by loud groans and upbraidings from the bystanders.
"He tells you himself that the period of his confinement is just over,"
cried Barcroft. "It is plain he has no interest in the matter, except
that he would have others suffer as he has done. Heed him not, my
friends; but proceed with the good work. Liberate the poor plague
prisoners. Liberate them. On! on!"
"Forbear, rash men" cried Bloundel, in an authoritative voice. "In the
name of those you are bound to obey, I command you to desist."
"Command us!" cried one of the bystanders, raising his staff in a
menacing manner. "Is this your gratitude for the favour we have just
conferred upon you? Command us, forsooth! You had better repeat the
order, and see how it will be obeyed."
"I _do_ repeat it," rejoined the grocer, firmly. "In the Lord Mayor's
name, I command you to desist, and return to your homes."
The man would have struck him with his staff, if he had not been himself
felled to the ground by Leonard. This was the signal for greater
outrage. The grocer and his apprentice were instantly assailed by
several others of the mob, who, leaving them both on the floor covered
with bruises, helped themselves to all they could lay hands on in the
shop, and then quitted the premises.
It is scarcely necessary to track their course further; and it may be
sufficient to state, that they broke open upwards of fifty houses in
different streets. Many of the plague-stricken joined them, and several
half-naked creatures were found dead in the streets on the following
morning. Two houses in Blackfriars-lane were set on fire, and the
conflagration was with difficulty checked; nor was it until late on the
following day that the mob could be entirely dispersed. The originator
of the disturbance, Barcroft, after a desperate resistance, was shot
through the head by a constable.
The result of this riot, as will be easily foreseen, was greatly to
increase the pestilence; and many of those who had been most active in
it perished in prison of the distemper. Far from being discouraged by
the opposition offered to their decrees, the city authorities enforced
them with greater rigour than ever, and, doubling the number of the
watch, again shut up all those houses which had been broken open during
the late tumult.
Bloundel received a visit from the Lord Mayor, Sir John Lawrence, who,
having been informed of his conduct, came to express his high approval
of it, offering to remit the few days yet unexpired of his quarantine.
The grocer, however, declined the offer, and with renewed expressions of
approbation, Sir John Lawrence took his leave.
Three days afterwards, the Examiner of Health pronounced the grocer's
house free from infection. The fatal mark was obliterated from the door;
the shutters were unfastened; and Bloundel resumed his business as
usual. Words are inadequate to describe the delight that filled the
breast of every member of his family, on their first meeting after their
long separation. It took place in the room adjoining the shop. Mrs.
Bloundel received the joyful summons from Leonard, and, on descending
with her children, found her husband and her son Stephen anxiously
expecting her. Scarcely able to make up her mind as to which of the two
she should embrace first, Mrs. Bloundel was decided by the pale
countenance of her son, and rushing towards him, she strained him to her
breast, while Amabel flew to her father's arms. The grocer could not
repress his tears; but they were tears of joy, and that night's
happiness made him ample amends for all the anxiety he had recently
"Well, Stephen, my dear child," said his mother, as soon as the first
tumult of emotion had subsided,--"well, Stephen," she said, smiling at
him through her tears, and almost smothering him with kisses, "you are
not so much altered as I expected; and I do not think, if I had had the
care of you, I could have nursed you better myself. You owe your father
a second life, and we all owe him the deepest gratitude for the care he
has taken of you."
"I can never be sufficiently grateful for his kindness," returned
"Give thanks to the beneficent Being who has preserved you from this
great danger, my son, not to me," returned Bloundel. "The first moments
of our reunion should be worthily employed."
So saying, he summoned the household, and, for the first time for a
month, the whole family party assembled, as before, at prayer. Never
were thanksgivings more earnestly, more devoutly uttered. All arose with
bright and cheerful countenances; and even Blaize seemed to have shaken
off his habitual dread of the pestilence. As he retired with Patience,
he observed to her, "Master Stephen looks quite well, though a little
thinner. I must ascertain from him the exact course of treatment pursued
by his father. I wonder whether Mr. Bloundel would nurse _me_ if I were
to be suddenly seized with the distemper?"
"If he wouldn't, I _would_," replied Patience.
"Thank you, thank you," replied Blaize. "I begin to think we shall get
through it. I shall go out to-morrow and examine the bills of mortality,
and see what progress the plague is making. I am all anxiety to know. I
must get a fresh supply of medicine, too. My private store is quite
gone, except three of my favourite rufuses, which I shall take before I
go to bed to-night. Unluckily, my purse is as empty as my phials."
"I can lend you a little money," said Patience. "I haven't touched my
last year's wages. They are quite at your service."
"You are too good," replied Blaize; "but I won't decline the offer. I
heard a man crying a new anti-pestilential elixir, as he passed the
house yesterday. I must find him out and buy a bottle. Besides, I must
call on my friend Parkhurst, the apothecary.--You are a good girl,
Patience, and I'll marry you as soon as the plague ceases."
"I have something else to give you," rejoined Patience. "This little bag
contains a hazel-nut, from which I have picked the kernel, and filled
its place with quicksilver, stopping the hole with wax. Wear it round
your neck, and you will find it a certain preservative against the
"Who told you of this remedy?" asked Blaize, taking the bag.
"Your mother," returned Patience.
"I wonder I never heard of it," said the porter.
"She wouldn't mention it to you, because the doctor advised her not to
put such matters into your head," replied Patience. "But I couldn't help
indulging you. Heigho! I hope the plague will soon be over."
"It won't be over for six months," rejoined Blaize, shaking his head. "I
read in a little book, published in 1593, in Queen Elizabeth's reign,
and written by Simon Kelway, 'that when little children flock together,
and pretend that some of their number are dead, solemnizing the burial
in a mournful sort, it is a certain token that a great mortality is at
hand.' This I have myself seen more than once. Again, just before the
great sickness of 1625, the churchyard wall of St. Andrew's, Holborn,
fell down. I need not tell you that the same thing occurred after the
frost this winter."
"I heard of it," replied Patience: "but I did not know it was a bad
"It is a dreadful sign," returned Blaize, with a shudder "The thought of
it brings back my old symptoms. I must have a supper to guard against
infection--a slice of toasted bread, sprinkled with, vinegar, and
powdered with nutmeg."
And chattering thus, they proceeded to the kitchen.
Before supper could be served, Dr. Hodges made his appearance. He was
delighted to see the family assembled together again, and expressed a
hearty wish that they might never more be divided. He watched Amabel and
Leonard carefully, and seemed annoyed that the former rather shunned
than favoured the regards of the apprentice.
Leonard, too, looked disconcerted; and though he was in possession of
his mistress's promise, he did not like to reclaim it. During the whole
of the month, he had been constantly on the watch, and had scarcely
slept at night, so anxious was he to prevent the possibility of any
communication taking place between Rochester and his mistress. But, in
spite of all his caution, it was possible he might be deceived. And when
on this, their first meeting, she returned his anxious gaze with averted
looks, he felt all his jealous misgivings return.
Supper, meanwhile, proceeded. Doctor Hodges was in excellent spirits,
and drank a bottle of old sack with great relish. Overcome by the sight
of his wife and children, the grocer abandoned himself to his feelings.
As to his wife, she could scarcely contain herself, but wept and laughed
by turns--now embracing her husband, now her son, between whom she had
placed herself. Nor did she forget Doctor Hodges; and such was the
exuberance of her satisfaction, that when the repast was ended, she
arose, and, flinging her arms about his neck, termed him the preserver
of her son.
"If any one is entitled to that appellation it is his father," replied
Hodges, "and I may say, that in all my experience I have never witnessed
such generous self-devotion as Mr. Bloundel has exhibited towards his
son. You must now be satisfied, madam, that no person can so well judge
what is proper for the safety of his family as your husband."
"I never doubted it, sir," replied Mrs. Bloundel.
"I must apprise you, then, that he has conceived a plan by which he
trusts to secure you and his children and household from any future
attack," returned Hodges.
"I care not what it is, so it does not separate me from him," replied
"It does not," replied the grocer. "It will knit us more closely
together than we have yet been. I mean to shut up my house, having
previously stored it with provisions for a twelvemonth, and shall suffer
no member of my family to stir forth as long as the plague endures."
"I am ready to remain within doors, if it continues twenty years,"
replied his wife. "But how long do you think it _will_ last, doctor?"
"Till next December, I have no doubt," returned Hodges.
"So long?" exclaimed Amabel.
"Ay, so long," repeated the doctor. "It has scarcely begun now. Your
father is right to adopt these precautions. It is the only way to insure
the safety of his family."
"But----" cried Amabel.
"I am resolved," interrupted Bloundel, peremptorily. "Who ever leaves
the house--if but for a moment--never returns."
"And when do you close it, father?" asked Amabel.
"A week hence," replied the grocer; "as soon as I have laid in a
sufficient stock of provisions."
"And am I not to leave the house for a year?" cried Amabel, with a
"Why should you wish to leave it?" asked her father, curiously.
"Ay, why?" repeated Leonard, in a low tone. "I shall be here."
Amabel seemed confused, and looked from her father to Leonard. The
former, however, did not notice her embarrassment, but observed to
Hodges--"I shall begin to victual the house to-morrow."
"Amabel," whispered Leonard, "you told me if I claimed your hand in a
month, you would yield it to me. I require the fulfilment of your
"Give me till to-morrow," she replied, distractedly.
"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."
"I have a stout heart, and a firm reliance on the goodness of Heaven,
which will enable me to bear up against most evils," returned the
grocer. "But on this point I ought, under any circumstances, to have
been consulted. And I am greatly surprised that Doctor Hodges should
advise the contrary."
"He was influenced, like myself, by the kindliest feelings towards you,"
sobbed Mrs. Bloundel.
"Well, well, I will not reproach you further," returned the grocer,
somewhat moved by her tears. "I have no doubt you conceived you were
acting for the best. But I must caution you against such conduct for the
future." After a pause, he added, "Is it your opinion that our poor
deluded child still entertains any regard for this profligate nobleman?"
"I am sure she does," replied Mrs. Bloundel; "and it is from that
conviction that I so strongly urge the necessity of marrying her to
"I will never compel her to do anything to endanger her future
happiness," returned the grocer. "She must not marry Leonard Holt
without loving him. It is better to risk an uncertain evil, than to rush
upon a certain one."
"Then I won't answer for the consequences," replied his wife.
"What!" cried Bloundel; "am I to understand you have no reliance on
Amabel? Has all our care been thrown away?"
"I do not distrust her," returned Mrs. Bloundel; "but consider whom she
has to deal with. She is beset by the handsomest and most fascinating
man of the day--by one understood to be practised in all the arts most
dangerous to our sex--and a nobleman to boot. Some allowance must be
made for her."
"I will make none," rejoined Bloundel, austerely. "She has been taught
to resist temptation in whatever guise it may present itself; and if the
principles I have endeavoured to implant within her breast had found
lodgment there, she _would_ have resisted it. I am deeply grieved to
find this is not the case, and that she must trust to others for
protection, when she ought to be able to defend herself."
The subject was not further discussed, and the grocer and his wife
shortly afterwards retired to rest.
On the following morning, Bloundel remarked to the apprentice as they
stood together in the shop, "Leonard, you are aware I am about to shut
up my house. Before doing so, I must make certain needful arrangements.
I will not disguise from you that I should prefer your remaining with
me, but at the same time I beg you distinctly to understand that I will
not detain you against your will. Your articles are within two months of
expiring; and, if you desire it, I will deliver them to you to-morrow,
and release you from the rest of your time."
"I do not desire it, sir," replied Leonard; "I will remain as long as I
can be serviceable to you."
"Take time for reflection," rejoined his master, kindly. "In all
probability, it will be a long confinement, and you may repent, when too
late, having subjected yourself to it."
"Last month's experience has taught me what I have to expect," remarked
Leonard, with a smile. "My mind is made up, I will stay with you."
"I am glad of it," returned Bloundel, "and now I have something further
to say to you. My wife has acquainted me with the daring attempt of the
Earl of Rochester to carry off Amabel."
"Has my mistress, also, told you of my attachment to your daughter?"
demanded Leonard, trembling, in spite of his efforts to maintain a show
Bloundel nodded an affirmative.
"And of Amabel's promise to bestow her hand upon me, if I claimed it at
the month's end?" continued the apprentice.
"No!" replied the grocer, a good deal surprised--"I heard of no such
promise. Nor was I aware the matter had gone so far. But have you
"I have," replied Leonard; "but she declined giving an answer till
"We will have it, then, at once," cried Bloundel "Come with me to her."
So saying, he led the way to the inner room, where they found Amabel and
her mother. At the sight of Leonard, the former instantly cast down her
"Amabel," said her father, in a tone of greater severity than he had
ever before used towards her, "all that has passed is known to me. I
shall take another and more fitting opportunity to speak to you on your
ill-advised conduct. I am come for a different purpose. You have given
Leonard Holt a promise (I need not tell you of what nature), and he
claims its fulfilment."
"If he insists upon my compliance," replied Amabel, in a tremulous
voice, "I must obey. But it will make me wretched."
"Then I at once release you," replied Leonard. "I value your happiness
far more than my own."
"You deserve better treatment, Leonard," said Bloundel; "and I am sorry
my daughter cannot discern what is for her good. Let us hope that time
will work a change in your favour."
"No," replied the apprentice, bitterly; "I will no longer delude myself
with any such vain expectation."
"Amabel," observed the grocer, "as your father--as your wellwisher--I
should desire to see you wedded to Leonard. But I have told your mother,
and now tell you, that I will not control your inclinations, and will
only attempt to direct you so far as I think likely to be conducive to
your happiness. On another point, I must assume a very different tone.
You can no longer plead ignorance of the designs of the depraved person
who besets you. You may not be able to forget him--but you can avoid
him. If you see him alone again--if but for a moment--I cast you off for
ever. Yes, for ever," he repeated, with stern emphasis.
"I will never voluntarily see him again," replied Amabel, tremblingly.
"You have heard my determination," rejoined her father. "Do you still
adhere to your resolution of remaining with me, Leonard?" he added,
turning to the apprentice. "If what has just passed makes any alteration
in your wishes, state so, frankly."
"I will stay," replied Leonard.
"There will be one advantage, which I did not foresee, in closing my
house," remarked the grocer aside to the apprentice. "It will
effectually keep away this libertine earl."
"Perhaps so," replied the other. "But I have more faith in my own
vigilance than in bolts and bars."
Bloundel and Leonard then returned to the shop, where the former
immediately began to make preparations for storing his house; and in the
prosecution of his scheme he was greatly aided by the apprentice.
The grocer's dwelling, as has been stated, was large and commodious. It
was three stories high; and beneath the ground-floor there were kitchens
and extensive cellars. Many of the rooms were spacious, and had
curiously carved fireplaces, walls pannelled with fine brown oak, large
presses, and cupboards.
In the yard, at the back of the house, there was a pump, from which
excellent water was obtained. There were likewise three large cisterns,
supplied from the New River. Not satisfied with this, and anxious to
obtain water in which no infected body could have lain, or clothes have
been washed, Bloundel had a large tank placed within the cellar, and
connecting it by pipes with the pump, he contrived an ingenious machine,
by which he could work the latter from within the house--thus making
sure of a constant supply of water direct from the spring.
He next addressed himself to the front of the house, where he fixed a
pulley, with a rope and hook attached to it, to the beam above one of
the smaller bay windows on the second story. By this means, he could let
down a basket or any other article into the street, or draw up whatever
he desired; and as he proposed using this outlet as the sole means of
communication with the external world when his house was closed, he had
a wooden shutter made in the form of a trap-door, which he could open
and shut at pleasure.
Here it was his intention to station himself at certain hours of the
day, and whenever he held any communication below, to flash off a
pistol, so that the smoke of the powder might drive back the air, and
purify any vapour that found entrance of its noxious particles.
He laid down to himself a number of regulations, which will be more
easily shown and more clearly understood, on arriving at the period when
his plans came to be in full operation. To give an instance, however--if
a letter should be conveyed to him by means of the pulley, he proposed
to steep it in a solution of vinegar and sulphur; and when dried and
otherwise fumigated, to read it at a distance by the help of strong
In regard to provisions, after a careful calculation, he bought upwards
of three thousand pounds' weight of hard sea-biscuits, similar to those
now termed captain's biscuits, and had them stowed away in hogsheads. He
next ordered twenty huge casks of the finest flour, which he had packed
up with the greatest care, as if for a voyage to Barbadoes or Jamaica.
As these were brought in through the yard an accident had well-nigh
occurred which might have proved fatal to him. While superintending the
labours of Leonard and Blaize, who were rolling the casks into the
house--having stowed away as many as he conveniently could in the upper
part of the premises--he descended to the cellar, and, opening a door at
the foot of a flight of steps leading from the yard, called to them to
lower the remaining barrels with ropes below. In the hurry, Blaize
rolled a cask towards the open door, and in another instant it would
have fallen upon the grocer, and perhaps have crushed him, but for the
interposition of Leonard. Bloundel made no remark at the time; but he
never forgot the service rendered him by the apprentice.
To bake the bread required an oven, and he accordingly built one in the
garret, laying in a large stock of wood for fuel. Neither did he neglect
to provide himself with two casks of meal.
But the most important consideration was butcher's meat; and for this
purpose he went to Rotherhithe, where the plague had not yet appeared,
and agreed with a butcher to kill him four fat bullocks, and pickle and
barrel them as if for sea stores. He likewise directed the man to
provide six large barrels of pickled pork, on the same understanding.
These were landed at Queenhithe, and brought up to Wood-street, so that
they passed for newly-landed grocery.
Hams and bacon forming part of his own trade, he wrote to certain
farmers with whom he was in the habit of dealing, to send him up an
unlimited supply of flitches and gammons; and his orders being promptly
and abundantly answered, he soon found he had more bacon than he could
possibly consume. He likewise laid in a good store of tongues, hung
beet, and other dried meats.
As to wine, he already had a tolerable stock; but he increased it by
half a hogshead of the best canary he could procure; two casks of
malmsey, each containing twelve gallons; a quarter-cask of Malaga sack;
a runlet of muscadine; two small runlets of aqua vitae; twenty gallons
of aniseed water; and two eight-gallon runlets of brandy. To this he
added six hogsheads of strongly-hopped Kent ale, calculated for keeping,
which he placed in a cool cellar, together with three hogsheads of beer,
for immediate use. Furthermore, he procured a variety of distilled
waters for medicinal purposes, amongst which he included a couple of
dozen of the then fashionable and costly preparation, denominated
As, notwithstanding all his precautions, it was not impossible that some
of his household might be attacked by the distemper, he took care to
provide proper remedies, and, to Blaize's infinite delight, furnished
himself with mithridates, Venice treacle, diascorium, the pill rufus
(oh! how the porter longed to have the key of the medicine chest!),
London treacle, turpentine, and other matters. He likewise collected a
number of herbs and simples; as Virginian snakeweed, contrajerva,
pestilence-wort, angelica, elecampane, zedoary, tormentil, valerian,
lovage, devils-bit, dittany, master-wort, rue, sage, ivy-berries, and
walnuts; together with bole ammoniac, terra sigillata, bezoar-water, oil
of sulphur, oil of vitriol, and other compounds. His store of remedies
was completed by a tun of the best white-wine vinegar, and a dozen jars
Regulating his supplies by the provisions he had laid in, he purchased a
sufficient stock of coals and fagots to last him during the whole period
of his confinement; and he added a small barrel of gunpowder, and a like
quantity of sulphur for fumigation.
His eatables would not have been complete without cheese; and he
therefore ordered about six hundredweight from Derbyshire, Wiltshire,
and Leicestershire, besides a couple of large old cheeses from
Rostherne, in Cheshire--even then noted for the best dairies in the
whole county. Several tubs of salted butter were sent him out of
Berkshire, and a few pots, from Suffolk.
It being indispensable, considering the long period he meant to close
his house, to provide himself and his family with every necessary, he
procured a sufficient stock of wearing apparel, hose, shoes and boots.
Spice, dried fruit, and other grocery articles, were not required,
because he already possessed them. Candles also formed an article of his
trade, and lamp-oil; but he was recommended by Doctor Hodges, from a
fear of the scurvy, to provide a plentiful supply of lemon and lime
To guard against accident, he also doubly stocked his house with glass,
earthenware, and every article liable to breakage. He destroyed all
vermin, such as rats and mice, by which the house was infested; and the
only live creatures he would suffer to be kept were a few poultry. He
had a small hutch constructed near the street-door, to be used by the
watchman he meant to employ; and he had the garrets fitted up with beds
to form an hospital, if any part of the family should be seized with the
distemper, so that the sick might be sequestered from the sound.
* * * * *
THE QUACK DOCTORS.
Patience, it may be remembered, had promised Blaize to give him her
earnings to enable him to procure a fresh supply of medicine, and about
a week after he had received the trifling amount (for he had been so
constantly employed by the grocer that he had no opportunity of getting
out before), he sallied forth to visit a neighbouring apothecary, named
Parkhurst, from whom he had been in the habit of purchasing drugs, and
who occupied a small shop not far from the grocer's, on the opposite
side of the street. Parkhurst appeared overjoyed to see him, and,
without giving him time to prefer his own request, inquired after his
master's family--whether they were all well, especially fair Mistress
Amabel--and, further, what was the meaning of the large supplies of
provision which he saw daily conveyed to the premises? Blaize shook his
head at the latter question, and for some time refused to answer it. But
being closely pressed by Parkhurst, he admitted that his master was
about to shut up his house.
"Shut up his house!" exclaimed Parkhurst. "I never heard of such a
preposterous idea. If he does so, not one of you will come out alive.
But I should hope that he will be dissuaded from his rash design."
"Dissuaded!" echoed Blaize. "You don't know my master. He's as obstinate
as a mule when he takes a thing into his head. Nothing will turn him.
Besides, Doctor Hodges sanctions and even recommends the plan."
"I have no opinion of Doctor Hodges," sneered the apothecary. "He is not
fit to hold a candle before a learned friend of mine, a physician, who
is now in that room. The person I speak of thoroughly understands the
pestilence, and never fails to cure every case that comes before him. No
shutting up houses with him. He is in possession of an infallible
"Indeed!" exclaimed Blaize, pricking up his ears. "What is his name?"
"His name!" cried Parkhurst, with a puzzled look. "How strange it should
slip my memory! Ah, now I recollect. It is Doctor Calixtus Bottesham."
"A singular name, truly," remarked Blaize; "but it sounds like that of a
"Doctor Calixtus Bottesham is a wonderful man," returned the apothecary.
"I have never met with his like. I would trumpet forth his merits
through the whole city, but that it would ruin my trade. The plague is
our harvest, as my friend Chowles, the coffin-maker, says, and it will
not do to stop it--ha! ha!"
"It is too serious a subject to laugh at," returned Blaize, gravely.
"But are the doctor's fees exorbitant?"
"To the last degree," replied Parkhurst. "I am afraid to state how much
"I fear I shall not be able to consult him, then," said Blaize, turning
over the coin in his pocket; "and yet I should greatly like to do so."
"Have no fear on that score," returned the apothecary. "I have been able
to render him an important service, and he will do anything for me. He
shall give you his advice gratis."
"Thank you! thank you!" cried Blaize, transported with delight.
"Wait here a moment, and I will ascertain whether he will see you,"
So saying, he quitted the porter, who amused himself during his absence
by studying the labels affixed to the jars and bottles on the shelves.
He had much ado to restrain himself from opening some of them, and
tasting their contents.
Full a quarter of an hour elapsed before the apothecary appeared.
"I am sorry to have detained you so long," he said; "but I had more
difficulty with the doctor than I expected, and for some time he refused
to see you on any terms, because he has a violent antipathy to Doctor
Hodges, whom he regards as a mere pretender, and whose patient he
conceives you to be."
"I am not Doctor Hodges' patient," returned Blaize; "and I regard him as
a pretender myself."
"That opinion will recommend you to Doctor Bottesham," replied
Parkhurst; "and since I have smoothed the way for you, you will find him
very affable and condescending. He has often heard me speak of your
master; and if it were not for his dislike of Doctor Hodges, whom he
might accidentally encounter, he would call upon him."
"I wish I could get my master to employ him instead of the other," said
"I wish so too," cried Parkhurst, eagerly. "Do you think it could be
"I fear not," returned Blaize.
"There would be no harm in making the trial," replied Parkhurst. "But
you shall now see the learned gentleman. I ought to apprise you that he
has two friends with him--one a young gallant, named Hawkswood, whom he
has recently cured of the distemper, and who is so much attached to him
that he never leaves him; the other, a doctor, like himself, named
Martin Furbisher, who always accompanies him in his visits to his
patients, and prepares his mixtures for him. You must not be surprised
at their appearance. And now come with me."
With this, he led the way into a small room at the back of the shop,
where three personages were seated at the table, with a flask of wine
and glasses before them. Blaize detected Doctor Bottesham at a glance.
He was an ancient-looking man, clad in a suit of rusty black, over which
was thrown a velvet robe, very much soiled and faded, but originally
trimmed with fur, and lined with yellow silk. His powers of vision
appeared to be feeble, for he wore a large green shade over his eyes,
and a pair of spectacles of the same colour. A venerable white beard
descended almost to his waist. His head was protected by a long flowing
grey wig, over which he wore a black velvet cap. His shoulders were high
and round, his back bent, and he evidently required support when he
moved, as a crutch-headed staff was reared against his chair. On his
left was a young, handsome, and richly-attired gallant, answering to the
apothecary's description of Hawkswood; and on the right sat a stout
personage precisely habited like himself, except that he wore a
broad-leaved hat, which completely overshadowed his features.
Notwithstanding this attempt at concealment, it was easy to perceive
that Doctor Furbisher's face was covered with scars, that he had a
rubicund nose, studded with carbuncles, and a black patch over his left
"Is this the young man who desires to consult me?" asked Doctor Calixtus
Bottesham, in the cracked and quavering voice of old age, of Parkhurst.
"It is," replied the apothecary, respectfully. "Go forward," he added to
Blaize, "and speak for yourself."
"What ails you?" pursued Bottesham, gazing at him through his
spectacles. "You look strong and hearty."
"So I am, learned sir," replied Blaize, bowing to the ground; "but
understanding from Mr. Parkhurst that you have an infallible remedy
against the plague, I would gladly procure it from you, as, if I should
be attacked, I may not have an opportunity of consulting you."
"Why not?" demanded Bottesham. "I will come to you if you send for me."
"Because," replied Blaize, after a moment's hesitation, "my master is
about to shut up his house, and no one will be allowed to go forth, or
to enter it, till the pestilence is at an end."
"Your master must be mad to think of such a thing," rejoined Bottesham.
"What say you, brother Furbisher?--is that the way to keep off the
"Gallipots of Galen! no," returned the other; "it is rather the way to
invite its assaults."
"When does your master talk of putting this fatal design--for fatal it
will be to him and all his household--into execution?" demanded
"Very shortly, I believe," replied Blaize. "He meant to begin on the
first of June, but as the pestilence is less violent than it was, Doctor
Hodges has induced him to defer his purpose for a few days."
"Doctor Hodges!" exclaimed Bottesham, contemptuously. "It was an
unfortunate day for your master when he admitted that sack-drinking
impostor into his house."
"I have no great opinion of his skill," replied Blaize, "but,
nevertheless, it must be admitted that he cured Master Stephen in a
"Pshaw!" exclaimed Bottesham, "that was mere accident. I heard the
particulars of the case from Parkhurst, and am satisfied the youth would
have recovered without his aid. But what a barbarian Mr. Bloundel must
be to think of imprisoning his family in this way!"
"He certainly does not consult my inclinations in the matter," returned
"Nor those of his wife and daughter, I should imagine," continued
Bottesham. "How do _they_ like it?"
"I cannot exactly say," answered Blaize. "What a dreadful thing it would
be if I should be attacked by the plague, and no assistance could be
"It would be still more dreadful if so angelic a creature as Bloundel's
daughter is represented to be--for I have never seen her--should be so
seized," observed Bottesham. "I feel so much interested about her that I
would do anything to preserve her from the fate with which she is
"Were it not inconsistent with your years, learned sir, I might suspect
you of a tenderer feeling towards her," observed Blaize, archly. "But,
in good sooth, her charms are so extraordinary, that I should not be
surprised at any effect they might produce."
"They would produce no effect on me," replied Bottesham. "I am long past
such feelings. But in regard to yourself. You say you are afraid of the
plague. I will give you an electuary to drive away the panic;" and he
produced a small jar, and handed it to the porter. "It is composed of
conserve of roses, gillyflowers, borage, candied citron, powder of
_laetificans Galeni_, Roman zedoary, doronicum, and saffron. You must
take about the quantity of a large nutmeg, morning and evening."
"You make me for ever your debtor, learned sir," rejoined Blaize. "What
a charming mixture!"
"I will also add my remedy," said Furbisher. "It is a powder compounded
of crabs' eyes, burnt hartshorn, the black tops of crabs' claws, the
bone from a stag's heart, unicorn's horn, and salt of vipers. You must
take one or two drams--not more--in a glass of hot posset-drink, when
you go to bed, and swallow another draught of the same potion to wash it
"I will carefully observe your directions," replied Blaize, thankfully
receiving the powder.
"Of all things," said Bottesham, claiming the porter's attention by
tapping him on the head with his cane, "take care never to be without
vinegar. It is the grand specific, not merely against the plague, but
against all disorders. It is food and physic, meat and medicine, drink
and julep, cordial and antidote. If you formerly took it as a sauce, now
take it as a remedy. To the sound it is a preservative from sickness, to
the sick, a restorative to health. It is like the sword which is worn
not merely for ornament, but for defence. Vinegar is my remedy against
the plague. It is a simple remedy, but an effectual one. I have cured a
thousand patients with it, and hope to cure a thousand more. Take
vinegar with all you eat, and flavour all you drink with it. Has the
plague taken away your appetite, vinegar will renew it. Is your throat
ulcerated, use vinegar as a gargle. Are you disturbed with phlegmatic
humours, vinegar will remove them. Is your brain laden with vapours,
throw vinegar on a hot shovel, and inhale its fumes, and you will obtain
instantaneous relief. Have you the headache, wet a napkin in vinegar,
and apply it to your temples, and the pain will cease. In short, there
is no ailment that vinegar will not cure. It is the grand panacea; and
may be termed the elixir of long life."
"I wonder its virtues have not been found out before," observed Blaize,
"It is surprising how slow men are in discovering the most obvious
truths," replied Bottesham. "But take my advice, and never be without
"I never will," returned Blaize. "Heaven be praised, my master has just
ordered in three tuns. I'll tap one of them directly."
"That idea of the vinegar remedy is borrowed from Kemp's late treatise
on the pestilence and its cure," muttered Furbisher. "Before you enter
upon the new system, young man," he added aloud to Blaize, "let me
recommend you to fortify your stomach with a glass of canary."
And pouring out a bumper, he handed it to the porter, who swallowed it
at a draught.
"And now," said Bottesham, "to return to this mad scheme of your
master's--is there no way of preventing it?"
"I am aware of none," replied Blaize.
"Bolts and bars!" cried Furbisher, "something must be done for the fair
Amabel. We owe it to society not to permit so lovely a creature to be
thus immured. What say you, Hawkswood?" he added to the gallant by his
side, who had not hitherto spoken.
"It would be unpardonable to permit it--quite unpardonable," replied
"Might not some plan be devised to remove her for a short time, and
frighten him out of his project?" said Bottesham. "I would willingly
assist in such a scheme. I pledge you in a bumper, young man. You appear
a trusty servant."
"I am so accounted, learned sir," replied Blaize, upon whose brain the
wine thus plentifully bestowed began to operate--"and I may add, justly
"You really will be doing your master a service if you can prevent him
from committing this folly," rejoined Bottesham.
"Let us have a bottle of burnt malmsey, with a few bruised raisins in
it, Mr. Parkhurst. This poor young man requires support. Be seated,
With some hesitation, Blaize complied, and while the apothecary went in
search of the wine, he observed to Bottesham, "I would gladly comply
with your suggestion, learned sir, if I saw any means of doing so."
"Could you not pretend to have the plague?" said Bottesham. "I could
then attend you."
"I should be afraid of playing such a trick as that," replied Blaize.
"Besides, I do not see what purpose it would answer."
"It would enable me to get into the house," returned Bottesham, "and
then I might take measures for Amabel's deliverance."
"If you merely wish to get into the house," replied Blaize, "that can be
easily managed. I will admit you this evening."
"Without your master's knowledge?" asked Bottesham, eagerly.
"Of course," returned Blaize.
"But he has an apprentice?" said the doctor.
"Oh! you mean Leonard Holt," replied Blaize. "Yes, we must take care he
doesn't see you. If you come about nine o'clock, he will be engaged with
my master in putting away the things in the shop."
"I will be punctual," replied Bottesham, "and will bring Doctor
Furbisher with me. We will only stay a few minutes. But here comes the
burnt malmsey. Fill the young man's glass, Parkhurst. I will insure you
against the plague, if you will follow my advice."
"But will you insure me against my master's displeasure, if he finds me
out?" said Blaize.
"I will provide you with a new one," returned Bottesham. "You shall
serve me if you wish to change your place."
"That would answer my purpose exactly," thought Blaize. "I need never be
afraid of the plague if I live with him. I will turn over your proposal,
learned sir," he added, aloud.
After priming him with another bumper of malmsey, Blaise's new friends
suffered him to depart. On returning home, he proceeded to his own room,
and feeling unusually drowsy, he threw himself on the bed, and almost
instantly dropped asleep. When he awoke, the fumes of the liquor had, in
a great degree, evaporated, and he recalled, with considerable
self-reproach, the promise he had given, and would gladly have recalled
it, if it had been possible. But it was now not far from the appointed
hour, and he momentarily expected the arrival of the two doctors. The
only thing that consoled him was the store of medicine he had obtained,
and, locking it up in his cupboard, he descended to the kitchen.
Fortunately, his mother was from home, so that he ran no risk from her;
and, finding Patience alone, after some hesitation, he let her into the
secret of his anticipated visitors. She was greatly surprised, and
expressed much uneasiness lest they should be discovered; as, if they
were so, it would be sure to bring them both into trouble.
"What can they want with Mistress Amabel?" she cried. "I should not
wonder if Doctor Calixtus Bottesham, as you call him, turns out a lover
"A lover!" exclaimed Blaize. "Your silly head is always running upon
lovers. He's an old man--old enough to be your grandfather, with a long
white beard, reaching to his waist. He a lover! Mr. Bloundel is much
more like one."
"For all that, it looks suspicious," returned Patience; "and I shall
have my eyes about me on their arrival."
Shortly after this, Blaize crept cautiously up to the back yard, and,
opening the door, found, as he expected, Bottesham and his companion.
Motioning them to follow him, he led the way to the kitchen, where they
arrived without observation. Patience eyed the new-comers narrowly, and
felt almost certain, from their appearance and manner, that her
suspicions were correct. All doubts were removed when Bottesham,
slipping a purse into her hand, entreated her, on some plea or other, to
induce Amabel to come into the kitchen. At first she hesitated; but
having a tender heart, inclining her to assist rather than oppose the
course of any love-affair, her scruples were soon overcome. Accordingly
she hurried upstairs, and chancing to meet with her young mistress, who
was about to retire to her own chamber, entreated her to come down with
her for a moment in the kitchen. Thinking it some unimportant matter,
but yet wondering why Patience should appear so urgent, Amabel complied.
She was still more perplexed when she saw the two strangers, and would
have instantly retired if Bottesham had not detained her.
"You will pardon the liberty I have taken in sending for you," he said,
"when I explain that I have done so to offer you counsel."
"I am as much at a loss to understand what counsel you can have to
offer, sir, as to guess why you are here," she replied.
"Amabel," returned Bottesham, in a low tone, but altering his voice, and
slightly raising his spectacles so as to disclose his features; "it is
"Ah!" she exclaimed, in the utmost astonishment.
"I told you we should meet again," he rejoined; "and I have kept my
"Think not to deceive me, my lord," she returned, controlling her
emotion by a powerful effort. "I am aware you are not Maurice Wyvil, but
the Earl of Rochester. Your love is as false as your character. Mistress
Mallet is the real object of your regards. You see I am acquainted with
"Amabel, you are deceived," replied Rochester. "On my soul, you are.
When I have an opportunity of explaining myself more fully, I will prove
to you that I was induced by the king, for an especial purpose, to pay
feigned addresses to the lady you have named. But I never loved her. You
alone are the possessor of my heart, and shall be the sharer of my
title. You shall be Countess of Rochester."
"Could I believe you?" she cried.
"You _may_ believe me," he answered. "Do not blight my hopes and your
own happiness a second time. Your father is about to shut up his house
for a twelvemonth, if the plague lasts so long. This done, we shall meet
no more, for access to you will be impossible. Do not hesitate, or you
will for ever rue your irresolution."
"I know not what to do," cried Amabel, distractedly.
"Then I will decide for you," replied the earl, grasping her hand.
While this was passing, Furbisher, or rather, as will be surmised,
Pillichody, had taken Blaize aside, and engaged his attention by
dilating upon the efficacy of a roasted onion filled with treacle in the
expulsion of the plague. Patience stationed herself near the door, not
with a view of interfering with the lovers, but rather of assisting
them; and at the very moment that the earl seized his mistress's hand,
and would have drawn her forward, she ran towards them, and hastily
whispered, "Leonard Holt is coming downstairs."
"Ah! I am lost!" cried Amabel.
"Fear nothing," said the earl. "Keep near me, and I will soon dispose of
As he spoke, the apprentice entered the kitchen, and, greatly surprised
by the appearance of the strangers, angrily demanded from Blaize who
"They are two doctors come to give me advice respecting the plague,"
stammered the porter.
"How did they get into the house?" inquired Leonard.
"I let them in through the back door," replied Blaize.
"Then let them out by the same way," rejoined the apprentice. "May I ask
what you are doing here?" he added, to Amabel.
"What is that to you, fellow?" cried Rochester, in his assumed voice.
"Much, as you shall find, my lord," replied the apprentice; "for, in
spite of your disguise, I know you. Quit the house instantly with your
companion, or I will give the alarm, and Amabel well knows what the
consequences will be."
"You must go, my lord," she replied.
"I will not stir unless you accompany me," said Rochester.
"Then I have no alternative," rejoined Leonard. "You know your father's
determination--I would willingly spare you, Amabel."
"Oh, goodness! what _will_ become of us?" cried Patience--"if there
isn't Mr. Bloundel coming downstairs."
"Amabel," said Leonard, sternly, "the next moment decides your fate. If
the earl departs, I will keep your secret."
"You hear that, my lord," she cried; "I command you to leave me."
And disengaging herself from him, and hastily passing her father, who at
that moment entered the kitchen, she rushed upstairs.
On hearing the alarm of the grocer's approach, Pillichody took refuge in
a cupboard, the door of which stood invitingly open, so that Bloundel
only perceived the earl.
"What is the matter?" he cried, gazing around him. "Whom have we here?"
"It is a quack doctor, whom Blaize has been consulting about the
plague," returned Leonard.
"See him instantly out of the house," rejoined the grocer, angrily, "and
take care he never enters it again. I will have no such charlatans
Leonard motioned Rochester to follow him, and the latter reluctantly
As soon as Bloundel had retired, Leonard, who had meanwhile provided
himself with his cudgel, descended to the kitchen, where he dragged
Pillichody from his hiding-place, and conducted him to the back door.
But he did not suffer him to depart without belabouring him soundly.
Locking the door, he then went in search of Blaize, and administered a
similar chastisement to him.
THE TWO WATCHMEN.
On the day following the events last related, as Leonard Holt was
standing at the door of the shop,--his master having just been called
out by some important business,--a man in the dress of a watchman, with
a halberd in his hand, approached him, and inquired if he was Mr.
Before returning an answer, Leonard looked hard at the newcomer, and
thought he had never beheld so ill-favoured a person before. Every
feature in his face was distorted. His mouth was twisted on one side,
his nose on the other, while his right eyebrow was elevated more than an
inch above the left; added to which he squinted intolerably, had a long
fell of straight sandy hair, a sandy beard and moustache, and a
complexion of the colour of brickdust.
"An ugly dog," muttered Leonard to himself, as he finished his scrutiny;
"what can he want with me? Suppose I should be Mr. Bloundel's
apprentice," he added, aloud, "what then, friend?"
"Your master has a beautiful daughter, has he not?" asked the
"I answer no idle questions," rejoined Leonard, coldly.
"As you please," returned the other, in an offended tone. "A plan to
carry her off has accidentally come to my knowledge. But, since
incivility is all I am likely to get for my pains in coming to acquaint
you with it, e'en find it out yourself."
"Hold!" cried the apprentice, detaining him; "I meant no offence. Step
indoors for a moment. We can converse there more freely."
The watchman, who, notwithstanding his ill-looks, appeared to be a
good-natured fellow, was easily appeased. Following the apprentice into
the shop, on the promise of a handsome reward, he instantly commenced
"Last night," he said, "I was keeping watch at the door of Mr. Brackley,
a saddler in Aldermanbury, whose house having been attacked by the
pestilence is now shut up, when I observed two persons, rather
singularly attired, pass me. Both were dressed like old men, but neither
their gait nor tone of voice corresponded with their garb."
"It must have been the Earl of Rochester and his companion," remarked
"You are right," replied the other; "for I afterwards heard one of them
addressed by that title. But to proceed. I was so much struck by the
strangeness of their appearance, that I left my post for a few minutes,
and followed them. They halted beneath a gateway, and, as they conversed
together very earnestly, and in a loud tone, I could distinctly hear
what they said. One of them, the stoutest of the two, complained
bitterly of the indignities he had received from Mr. Bloundel's
apprentice (meaning you, of course), averring that nothing but his
devotion to his companion had induced him to submit to them; and
affirming, with many tremendous oaths, that he would certainly cut the
young man's throat the very first opportunity."
"He shall not want it then," replied Leonard contemptuously; "neither
shall he lack a second application of my cudgel when we meet. But what
of his companion? What did he say?"
"He laughed heartily at the other's complaints," returned the watchman,
"and told him to make himself easy, for he should soon have his revenge.
'To-morrow night,' he said, 'we will carry off Amabel, in spite of the
apprentice or her father; and, as I am equally indebted with yourself to
the latter, we will pay off old scores with him.'"
"How do they intend to effect their purpose?" demanded Leonard.
"That I cannot precisely tell," replied the watchman. "All I could hear
was, that they meant to enter the house by the back yard about midnight.
And now, if you will make it worth my while, I will help you to catch
them in their own trap."
"Hum!" said Leonard. "What is your name?"
"Gregory Swindlehurst," replied the other.
"To help me, you must keep watch with me to-night," rejoined Leonard.
"Can you do so?"
"I see nothing to hinder me, provided I am paid for my trouble," replied
Gregory. "I will find some one to take my place at Mr. Brackley's. At
what hour shall I come?"
"Soon after ten," said Leonard. "Be at the shop-door, and I will let you
"Count upon me," rejoined Gregory, a smile of satisfaction illumining
his ill-favoured countenance. "Shall I bring a comrade with me? I know a
trusty fellow who would like the job. If Lord Rochester should have his
companions with him, assistance will be required."
"True," replied Leonard. "Is your comrade a watchman, like yourself?"
"He is an old soldier, who has been lately employed to keep guard over
infected houses," replied Gregory. "We must take care his lordship does
not overreach us."
"If he gets into the house without my knowledge, I will forgive him,"
replied the apprentice.
"He won't get into it without mine," muttered Gregory, significantly.
"But do you not mean to warn Mistress Amabel of her danger?"
"I shall consider of it," replied the apprentice.
At this moment Mr. Bloundel entered the shop, and Leonard, feigning to
supply his companion with a small packet of grocery, desired him, in a
low tone, to be punctual to his appointment, and dismissed him. In
justice to the apprentice, it must be stated that he had no wish for
concealment, but was most anxious to acquaint his master with the
information he had just obtained, and was only deterred from doing so by
a dread of the consequences it might produce to Amabel.
The evening passed off much as usual. The family assembled at prayer;
and. Blaize, whose shoulders still ached with the chastisement he had
received, eyed the apprentice with sullen and revengeful looks.
Patience, too, was equally angry, and her indignation was evinced in a
manner so droll, that at another season it would have drawn a smile from
Supper over, Amabel left the room. Leonard followed her, and overtook
her on the landing of the stairs.
"Amabel," he said, "I have received certain intelligence that the Earl
of Rochester will make another attempt to enter the house, and carry you
"Oh! when will he cease from persecuting me?" she cried.
"When you cease to encourage him," replied the apprentice, bitterly.
"I do _not_ encourage him, Leonard," she rejoined, "and to prove that I
do not, I will act in any way you think proper tonight."
"If I could trust you," said Leonard, you might be of the greatest
service in convincing the earl that his efforts are fruitless."
"You _may_ trust me," she rejoined.
"Well, then," returned Leonard, "when the family have retired to rest,
come downstairs, and I will tell you what to do."
Hastily promising compliance, Amabel disappeared; and Leonard ran down
the stairs, at the foot of which he encountered Mrs. Bloundel.
"What is the matter?" she asked.
"Nothing--nothing," replied the apprentice, evasively.
"That-will not serve my turn," she rejoined. "Something, I am certain,
troubles you, though you do not choose to confess it. Heaven grant your
anxiety is not occasioned by aught relating to that wicked Earl of
Rochester! I cannot sleep in my bed for thinking of him. I noticed that
you followed Amabel out of the room. I hope you do not suspect
"Do not question me further, madam, I entreat," returned the apprentice.
"Whatever I may suspect, I have taken all needful precautions. Rest
easy, and sleep soundly, if you can. All will go well."
"I shall never rest easy, Leonard," rejoined Mrs. Bloundel, "till you
are wedded to my daughter. Then, indeed, I shall feel happy. My poor
child, I am sure, is fully aware how indiscreet her conduct has been;
and when this noble libertine desists from annoying her--or rather, when
he is effectually shut out--we may hope for a return of her regard for
"It is a vain hope, madam," replied Leonard; "there will be no such
return. I neither expect it nor desire it."
"Have you ceased to love her?" asked Mrs. Bloundel, in surprise.
"Ceased to love her!" echoed Leonard, fiercely. "Would I had done
so!--would I _could_ do so! I love her too well--too well."
And repeating the words to himself with great bitterness, he hurried
"His passion has disturbed his brain," sighed Mrs. Bloundel, as she
proceeded to her chamber. "I must try to reason him into calmness
Half an hour after this, the grocer retired for the night; and Leonard,
who had gone to his own room, cautiously opened the door, and repaired
to the shop. On the way he met Amabel. She looked pale as death, and
trembled so violently, that she could scarcely support herself.
"I hope you do not mean to use any violence towards the earl, Leonard?"
she said in a supplicating voice.
"He will never repeat his visit," rejoined the apprentice, gloomily.
"Your looks terrify me," cried Amabel, gazing with great uneasiness at
his stern and determined countenance. "I will remain by you. He will
depart at my bidding."
"Did he depart at your bidding before?" demanded Leonard, sarcastically.
"He did not, I grant," she replied, more supplicatingly than before.
"But do not harm him--for mercy's sake, do not--take my life sooner. I
alone have offended you."
The apprentice made no reply, but, unlocking a box, took out a brace of
large horse-pistols and a sword, and thrust them into his girdle.
"You do not mean to use those murderous weapons?" cried Amabel.
"It depends on circumstances," replied Leonard. "Force must be met by
"Nay, then," she rejoined, "the affair assumes too serious an aspect to
be trifled with. I will instantly alarm my father."
"Do so," retorted Leonard, "and he will cast you off for ever."
"Better that, than be the cause of bloodshed," she returned. "But is
there nothing I can do to prevent this fatal result?"
"Yes," replied Leonard. "Make your lover understand he is unwelcome to
you. Dismiss him for ever. On that condition, he shall depart unharmed
"I will do so," she rejoined.
Nothing more was then said. Amabel seated herself and kept her eyes
fixed on Leonard, who, avoiding her regards, stationed himself near the
By-and-by a slight tap was heard without, and the apprentice cautiously
admitted Gregory Swindlehurst and his comrade. The latter was habited
like the other watchman, in a blue night-rail, and was armed with a
halberd. He appeared much stouter, much older, and, so far as could be
discovered of his features--for a large handkerchief muffled his
face--much uglier (if that were possible) than his companion. He
answered to the name of Bernard Boutefeu. They had no sooner entered the
shop, than Leonard locked the door.
"Who are these persons?" asked Amabel, rising in great alarm.
"Two watchmen whom I have hired to guard the house," replied Leonard.
"We are come to protect you, fair mistress," said Gregory, "and, if need
be, to cut the Earl of Rochester's throat."
"Oh heavens!" exclaimed Amabel.
"Ghost of Tarquin!" cried Boutefeu, "we'll teach him to break into the
houses of quiet citizens, and attempt to carry off their daughters
against their will. By the soul of Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of
London! we'll maul and mangle him."
"Silence! Bernard Boutefeu," interposed Gregory. "You frighten Mistress
Amabel by your strange oaths."
"I should be sorry to do that," replied Boutefeu--"I only wish to show
my zeal for her. Don't be afraid of the Earl of Rochester, fair
mistress. With all his audacity, he won't dare to enter the house when
he finds we are there."
"Is it your pleasure that we should thrust a halberd through his body,
or lodge a bullet in his brain?" asked Gregory, appealing to Amabel.
"Touch him not, I beseech you," she rejoined. "Leonard, I have your
promise that, if I can prevail upon him to depart, you will not molest
"You have," he replied.
"You hear that," she observed to the watchmen.
"We are all obedience," said Gregory.
"Bless your tender heart!" cried Boutefeu, "we would not pain you for
"A truce to this," said Leonard. "Come to the yard, we will wait for him
"I will go with you," cried Amabel. "If any harm should befall him, I
should never forgive myself."
"Remember what I told you," rejoined Leonard, sternly; "it depends upon
yourself whether he leaves the house alive."
"Heed him not," whispered Gregory. "I and my comrade will obey no one
Amabel could not repress an exclamation of surprise.
"What are you muttering, sirrah?" demanded Leonard, angrily.
"Only that the young lady may depend on our fidelity," replied Gregory.
"There can be no offence in that. Come with us," he whispered to Amabel.
The latter part of his speech escaped Leonard, but the tone in which it
was uttered was so significant, that Amabel, who began to entertain new
"You must come," said Leonard, seizing her hand.
"The fault be his, not mine," murmured Amabel, as she suffered herself
to be drawn along.
The party then proceeded noiselessly towards the yard. On the way,
Amabel felt a slight pressure on her arm, but, afraid of alarming
Leonard, she made no remark.
The back-door was opened, and the little group stood in the darkness.
They had not long to wait. Before they had been in the yard five
minutes, a noise was heard of footsteps and muttered voices in the
entry. This was followed by a sound like that occasioned by fastening a
rope-ladder against the wall, and the next moment two figures were
perceived above it. After dropping the ladder into the yard, these
persons, the foremost of whom the apprentice concluded was the Earl of
Rochester, descended. They had no sooner touched the ground than
Leonard, drawing his pistols, advanced towards them.
"You are my prisoner, my lord," he said, in a stern voice, "and shall
not depart with life, unless you pledge your word never to come hither
again on the same errand."
"Betrayed!" cried the earl, laying his hand upon his sword.
"Resistance is in vain, my lord," rejoined Leonard. "I am better armed
"Will nothing bribe you to silence, fellow?" cried the earl. "I will
give you a thousand pounds, if you will hold your tongue, and conduct me
to my mistress."
"I can scarcely tell what stays my hand," returned Leonard, in a furious
tone. "But I will hold no further conversation with you. Amabel is
present, and will give you your final dismissal herself."
"If I receive it from her own lips," replied the earl, "I will instantly
retire--but not otherwise."
"Amabel," said Leonard in a low tone to her, "you hear what is said.
Fulfil your promise."
"Do so," cried a voice, which she instantly recognised, in her ear--"I
am near you."
"Ah!" she exclaimed.
"Do you hesitate?" cried the apprentice, sternly.
"My lord," said Amabel, in a faint voice, "I must pray you to retire,
your efforts are in vain. I will never fly with you."
"That will not suffice," whispered Leonard; "you must tell him you no
longer love him."
"Hear me," pursued Amabel; "you who present yourself as Lord Rochester,
I entertain no affection for you, and never wish to behold you again."
"Enough!" cried Leonard.
"Admirable!" whispered Gregory. "Nothing could be better."
"Well," cried the supposed earl, "since I no longer hold a place in your
affections, it would be idle to pursue the matter further. Heaven be
praised, there are other damsels quite as beautiful, though not so
cruel. Farewell for ever, Amabel."
So saying he mounted the ladder, and, followed by his companion,
disappeared on the other side.
"He is gone," said Leonard, "and I hope for ever. Now let us return to
"I am coming," rejoined Amabel.
"Let him go," whispered Gregory. "The ladder is still upon the wall; we
will climb it."
And as the apprentice moved towards the house, he tried to drag her in
"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
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
It was a bright moonlight night, and the reverend pile looked so
beautiful, that, under any other frame of mind, Leonard must, have been
struck with admiration. The ravages of time could not now be discerned,
and the architectural incongruities which, seen in the broad glare of
day, would have offended the eye of taste, were lost in the general
grand effect. On the left ran the magnificent pointed windows of the
choir, divided by massive buttresses,--the latter ornamented with
crocketed pinnacles. On the right, the building had been new-faced, and
its original character, in a great measure, destroyed by the tasteless
manner in which the repairs had been executed. On this side, the lower
windows were round-headed and separated by broad pilasters, while above
them ran a range of small circular windows. At the western angle was
seen one of the towers (since imitated by Wren), which flanked this side
of the fane, together with a part of the portico erected, about
twenty-five years previously, by Inigo Jones, and which, though
beautiful in itself, was totally out of character with the edifice, and,
in fact, a blemish to it.
Insensible alike to the beauties or defects of the majestic building,
and regarding it only as the prison of his mistress, Leonard Holt
scanned it carefully on either side. But his scrutiny was attended with
no favourable result.
Before resorting to force to obtain admission, he determined to make the
complete circuit of the structure, and with this view he shaped his
course towards the east.
He found two small doors on the left of the northern transept, but both
were fastened, and the low pointed windows beneath the choir, lighting
the subterranean church of Saint Faith's, were all barred. Running on,
he presently came to a flight of stone steps at the north-east corner of
the choir, leading to a portal opening upon a small chapel dedicated to
Saint George. But this was secured like the others, and, thinking it
vain to waste time in trying to force it, he pursued his course.
Skirting the eastern extremity of the fane--then the most beautiful part
of the structure, from its magnificent rose window--he speeded past the
low windows which opened on this side, as on the other upon Saint
Faith's, and did not pause till he came to the great southern portal,
the pillars and arch of which differed but slightly in character from
those of the northern entrance.
Here he knocked as before, and was answered, as on the former occasion,
by sullen echoes from within. When these sounds died away, he placed his
ear to the huge key-hole in the wicket, but could not even catch the
fall of a footstep. Neither could he perceive any light, except that
afforded by the moonbeams, which flooded the transept with radiance.
Again hurrying on, he passed the cloister-walls surrounding the
Convocation House; tried another door between that building and the
church of Saint Gregory, a small fane attached to the larger structure;
and failing in opening it, turned the corner and approached the
portico,--the principal entrance to the cathedral being then, as now, on
Erected, as before mentioned, from the designs of the celebrated Inigo
Jones, this magnificent colonnade was completed about 1640, at which
time preparations were made for repairing the cathedral throughout, and
for strengthening the tower, for enabling it to support a new spire. But
this design, owing to the disorganised state of affairs, was never
carried into execution.
At the time of the Commonwealth, while the interior of the sacred fabric
underwent every sort of desecration and mutilation,--while stones were
torn from the pavement, and monumental brasses from tombs,--while carved
stalls were burnt, and statues plucked from their niches,--a similar
fate attended the portico. Shops were built beneath it, and the
sculptures ornamenting its majestic balustrade were thrown down.
Amongst other obstructions, it appears that there was a "high house in
the north angle, which hindered the masons from repairing that part of
it." The marble door-cases, the capitals, cornices, and pillars were so
much injured by the fires made against them, that it required months to
put them in order. At the Restoration, Sir John Denham, the poet, was
appointed surveyor-general of the works, and continued to hold the
office at the period of this history.
As Leonard drew near the portico, he perceived, to his surprise, that a
large concourse of people was collected in the area in front of it; and,
rushing forward, he found the assemblage listening to the denunciations
of Solomon Eagle, who was standing in the midst of them with his brazier
on his head. The enthusiast appeared more than usually excited. He was
tossing aloft his arms in a wild and frenzied manner, and seemed to be
directing his menaces against the cathedral itself.
Hoping to obtain assistance from the crowd, Leonard resolved to await a
fitting period to address them. Accordingly, he joined them, and
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