Old Saint Paul's
William Harrison Ainsworth
Part 4 out of 12
listened to the discourse of the enthusiast.
"Hear me!" cried the latter, in a voice of thunder. "I had a vision last
night and will relate it to you. During my brief slumbers, I thought I
was standing on this very spot, and gazing as now upon yon mighty
structure. On a sudden the day became overcast, and ere long it grew
pitchy dark. Then was heard a noise of rushing wings in the air, and I
could just discern many strange figures hovering above the tower,
uttering doleful cries and lamentations. All at once these figures
disappeared, and gave place to, or, it may be, were chased away by,
others of more hideous appearance. The latter brought lighted brands
which they hurled against the sacred fabric, and, in an instant, flames
burst forth from it on all sides. My brethren, it was a fearful, yet a
glorious sight to see that vast pile wrapped in the devouring element!
The flames were so vivid--so intense--that I could not bear to look upon
them, and I covered my face with my hands. On raising my eyes again the
flames were extinguished, but the building was utterly in ruins--its
columns cracked--its tower hurled from its place--its ponderous roof
laid low. It was a mournful spectacle, and a terrible proof of the
Divine wrath and vengeance. Yes, my brethren, the temple of the Lord has
been profaned, and it will be razed to the ground. It has been the scene
of abomination and impiety, and must be purified by fire. Theft, murder,
sacrilege, and every other crime have been committed within its walls,
and its destruction will follow. The ministers of Heaven's vengeance are
even now hovering above it. Repent, therefore, ye who listen to me, and
repent speedily; for sudden death, plague, fire, and famine, are at
hand. As the prophet Amos saith, 'The Lord will send a fire, the Lord
will commission a fire, the Lord will kindle a fire;' and the fire so
commissioned and so kindled shall consume you and your city; nor shall
one stone of those walls be left standing on another. Repent, or burn,
for he cometh to judge the earth. Repent, or burn, I say!"
As soon as he concluded, Leonard Holt ran up the steps of the portico,
and in a loud voice claimed the attention of the crowd.
"Solomon Eagle is right," he cried; "the vengeance of Heaven will
descend upon this fabric, since it continues to be the scene of so much
wickedness. Even now it forms the retreat of a profligate nobleman, who
has this night forcibly carried off the daughter of a citizen."
"What nobleman?" cried a bystander.
"The Earl of Rochester," replied Leonard. "He has robbed Stephen
Bloundel, the grocer of Wood-street, of his daughter, and has concealed
her, to avoid pursuit, in the vaults of the cathedral."
"I know Mr. Bloundel well," rejoined the man who had made the inquiry,
and whom Leonard recognised as a hosier named Lamplugh, "and I know the
person who addresses us. It is his apprentice. We must restore the
damsel to her father, friends."
"Agreed!" cried several voices.
"Knock at the door," cried a man, whose occupation of a smith was
proclaimed by his leathern apron, brawny chest, and smoke-begrimed
visage, as well as by the heavy hammer which he bore upon his shoulder.
"If it is not instantly opened, we will break it down. I have an
implement here which will soon do the business."
A rush was then made to the portal, which rang with the heavy blows
dealt against it. While this was passing, Solomon Eagle, whose
excitement was increased by the tumult, planted himself in the centre of
the colonnade, and vociferated--"I speak in the words of the prophet
Ezekiel:--'Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine
iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic. Therefore will I bring forth
a fire from the midst of thee, and will bring thee to ashes upon the
earth, in the sight of all them that behold thee!'"
The crowd continued to batter the door until they were checked by
Lamplugh, who declared he heard some one approaching, and the next
moment the voice of one of the vergers inquired in trembling tones, who
they were, and what they wanted.
"No matter who we are," replied Leonard, "we demand admittance to search
for a young female who has been taken from her home by the Earl of
Rochester, and is now concealed within the vaults of the cathedral."
"If admittance is refused us, we will soon let ourselves in,"
"Ay, that we will," added the smith.
"You are mistaken, friends," returned the verger, timorously. "The Earl
of Rochester is not here."
"We will not take your word for it," rejoined the smith. "This will show
you we are not to be trifled with."
So saying, he raised his hammer, and struck such a tremendous blow
against the door, that the bolts started in their sockets.
"Hold! hold!" cried the verger; "sooner than violence shall be
committed, I will risk your admission."
And he unfastened the door.
"Keep together," shouted the smith, stretching out his arms to oppose
the progress of the crowd. "Keep together, I say."
"Ay, ay, keep together," added Lamplugh, seconding his efforts.
"Conduct us to the Earl of Rochester, and no harm shall befall you,"
cried Leonard, seizing the verger by the collar.
"I tell you I know nothing about him," replied the man. "He is not
"It is false! you are bribed to silence," rejoined the apprentice. "We
will search till we find him."
"Search where you please," rejoined the verger; "and if you _do_ find
him, do what you please with me."
"Don't be afraid of that, friend," replied the smith; "we will hang you
and the earl to the same pillar."
By this time, the crowd had pushed aside the opposition offered by the
smith and Lamplugh. Solomon Eagle darted along the nave with lightning
swiftness, and, mounting the steps leading to the choir, disappeared
from view. Some few persons followed him, while others took their course
along the aisles. But the majority kept near the apprentice.
Snatching the lamp from the grasp of the verger, Leonard Holt ran on
with his companions till they came to the beautiful chapel built by
Thomas Kempe, bishop of London. The door was open, and the apprentice,
holding the light forward, perceived there were persons inside. He was
about to enter the chapel, when a small spaniel rushed forth, and,
barking furiously, held him in check for a moment. Alarmed by the noise,
an old man in a tattered garb, and a young female, who were slumbering
on benches in the chapel, immediately started to their feet, and
advanced towards them.
"We are mistaken," said Lamplugh; "this is only Mike Macascree, the
blind piper and his daughter Nizza. I know them well enough."
Leonard was about to proceed with his search, but a slight circumstance
detained him for a few minutes, during which time he had sufficient
leisure to note the extraordinary personal attractions of Nizza
In age she appeared about seventeen, and differed in the character of
her beauty, as well as in the natural gracefulness of her carriage and
demeanour, from all the persons he had seen in her humble sphere of
life. Her features were small, and of the utmost delicacy. She had a
charmingly-formed nose--slightly _retrousse_--a small mouth, garnished
with pearl-like teeth, and lips as fresh and ruddy as the dew-steeped
rose. Her skin was as dark as a gipsy's, but clear and transparent, and
far more attractive than the fairest complexion. Her eyes were luminous
as the stars, and black as midnight; while her raven tresses, gathered
beneath a spotted kerchief tied round her head, escaped in many a wanton
curl down her shoulders. Her figure was slight, but exquisitely
proportioned; and she had the smallest foot and ankle that ever fell to
the lot of woman. Her attire was far from unbecoming, though of the
coarsest material; and her fairy feet were set off by the daintiest
shoes and hose. Such was the singular and captivating creature that
attracted the apprentice's attention.
Her father, Mike Macascree, was upwards of sixty, but still in the full
vigour of life, with features which, though not ill-looking, bore no
particular resemblance to those of his daughter. He had a good-humoured,
jovial countenance, the mirthful expression of which even his sightless
orbs could not destroy. Long white locks descended upon his shoulders,
and a patriarchal beard adorned his chin. He was wrapped in a loose grey
gown, patched with different coloured cloths, and supported himself with
a staff. His pipe was suspended from his neck by a green worsted cord.
"Lie down, Bell," he cried to his dog; "what are you barking at thus?
Lie down, I say."
"Something is the matter, father," replied Nizza. "The church is full of
"Indeed!" exclaimed the piper.
"We are sorry to disturb you," said Leonard; "but we are in search of a
nobleman who has run away with a citizen's daughter, and conveyed her to
the cathedral, and we thought they might have taken refuge in this
"No one is here except myself and daughter," replied the piper. "We are
allowed this lodging by Mr. Quatremain, the minor canon."
"All dogs are ordered to be destroyed by the Lord Mayor," cried the
smith, seizing Bell by the neck. "This noisy animal must be silenced."
"Oh, no! do not hurt her!" cried Nizza. "My father loves poor Bell
almost as well as he loves me. She is necessary to his existence. You
must not--will not destroy her!"
"Won't I?" replied the smith, gruffly; "we'll see that."
"But we are not afraid of contagion, are we, father?" cried Nizza,
appealing to the piper.
"Not in the least," replied Mike, "and we will take care the poor beast
touches no one else. Do not harm her, sir--for pity's sake, do not. I
should miss her sadly."
"The Lord Mayor's commands must be obeyed," rejoined the smith,
As if conscious of the fate awaiting her, poor Bell struggled hard to
get free, and uttered a piteous yell.
"You are not going to kill the dog?" interposed Leonard.
"Have you anything to say to the contrary?" rejoined the smith, in a
tone calculated, as he thought, to put an end to further interference.
"Only this," replied Leonard, "that I will not allow it."
"You won't--eh?" returned the smith, derisively.
"I will not," rejoined Leonard, "so put her down and come along."
"Go your own way," replied the smith, "and leave me to mine."
Leonard answered by snatching Bell suddenly from his grasp. Thus
liberated, the terrified animal instantly flew to her mistress.
"Is this the return I get for assisting you?" cried the smith, savagely.
"You are bewitched by a pair of black eyes. But you will repent your
"I shall never forget your kindness," replied Nizza, clasping Bell to
her bosom, and looking gratefully at the apprentice. "You say you are in
search of a citizen's daughter and a nobleman. About half an hour ago,
or scarcely so much, I was awakened by the opening of the door of the
southern transept, and peeping out, I saw three persons--a young man in
the dress of a watchman, but evidently disguised, and a very beautiful
young woman, conducted by Judith Malmayns, bearing a lantern,--pass
through the doorway leading to Saint Faith's. Perhaps they are the very
persons you are in search of."
"They are," returned Leonard; "and you have repaid me a hundredfold for
the slight service I have rendered you by the information. We will
instantly repair to the vaults. Come along."
Accompanied by the whole of the assemblage, except the smith, who
skulked off in the opposite direction, he passed through the low doorway
on the right of the choir, and descended to Saint Faith's. The
subterranean church was buried in profound darkness, and apparently
wholly untenanted. On reaching the charnel, they crossed it, and tried
the door of the vault formerly occupied by the sexton. It was fastened,
but Leonard knocking violently against it, it was soon opened by Judith
Malmayns, who appeared much surprised, and not a little alarmed, at the
sight of so many persons. She was not alone, and her companion was
Chowles. He was seated at a table, on which stood a flask of brandy and
a couple of glasses, and seemed a good deal confused at being caught in
such a situation, though he endeavoured to cover his embarrassment by an
air of effrontery.
"Where is the Earl of Rochester?--where is Amabel?" demanded Leonard
"I know nothing about either of them," replied Judith. "Why do you put
these questions to me?"
"Because you admitted them to the cathedral," cried the apprentice,
furiously, "and because you have concealed them. If you do not instantly
guide me to their retreat, I will make you a terrible example to all
such evil-doers in future."
"If you think to frighten me by your violence, you are mistaken,"
returned Judith, boldly. "Mr. Chowles has been here more than two
hours--ask him whether he has seen any one."
"Certainly not," replied Chowles. "There is no Amabel--no Earl of
Rochester here. You must be dreaming, young man."
"The piper's daughter affirmed the contrary," replied Leonard. "She said
she saw this woman admit them."
"She lies," replied Judith, fiercely. But suddenly altering her tone,
she continued, "If I _had_ admitted them, you would find them here."
Leonard looked round uneasily. He was but half convinced, and yet he
scarcely knew what to think.
"If you doubt what I say to you," continued Judith, "I will take you to
every chamber in the cathedral. You will then be satisfied that I speak
the truth. But I will not have this mob with me. Your companions must
"Ay, stop with me and make yourselves comfortable," cried Chowles. "You
are not so much used to these places as I am, I prefer a snug crypt,
like this, to the best room in a tavern--ha! ha!"
Attended by Judith, Leonard Holt searched every corner of the
subterranean church, except the vestry, the door of which was locked,
and the key removed; but without success. They then ascended to the
upper structure, and visited the choir, the transepts, and the nave, but
with no better result.
"If you still think they are here," said Judith, "we will mount to the
summit of the tower?"
"I will never quit the cathedral without them," replied Leonard.
"Come on, then," returned Judith.
So saying, she opened the door in the wall on the left of the choir,
and, ascending a winding stone staircase to a considerable height,
arrived at a small cell contrived within the thickness of the wall, and
desired Leonard to search it. The apprentice unsuspectingly obeyed. But
he had scarcely set foot inside when the door was locked behind him, and
he was made aware of the treachery practised upon him by a peal of
mocking laughter from his conductress.
OLD LONDON FROM OLD SAINT PAUL'S.
After repeated, but ineffectual efforts to burst open the door, Leonard
gave up the attempt in despair, and endeavoured to make his situation
known by loud outcries. But his shouts, if heard, were unheeded, and he
was soon compelled from exhaustion to desist. Judith having carried away
the lantern, he was left in total darkness; but on searching the cell,
which was about four feet wide and six deep, he discovered a narrow
grated loophole. By dint of great exertion, and with the help of his
sword, which snapped in twain as he used it, he managed to force off one
of the rusty bars, and to squeeze himself through the aperture. All his
labour, however, was thrown away. The loophole opened on the south side
of the tower, near one of the large buttresses, which projected several
yards beyond it on the left, and was more than twenty feet above the
roof; so that it would be certain destruction to drop from so great a
The night was overcast, and the moon hidden behind thick clouds. Still,
there was light enough to enable him to discern the perilous position in
which he stood. After gazing below for some time, Leonard was about to
return to the cell, when, casting his eyes upwards, he thought he
perceived the end of a rope about a foot above his head, dangling from
the upper part of the structure. No sooner was this discovery made, than
it occurred to him that he might possibly liberate himself by this
unlooked for aid; and, regardless of the risk he ran, he sprang upwards
and caught hold of the rope. It was firmly fastened above, and sustained
his weight well.
Possessed of great bodily strength and activity, and nerved by
desperation, Leonard Holt placed his feet against the buttress, and
impelled himself towards one of the tall pointed windows lighting the
interior of the tower; but though he reached the point at which he
aimed, the sway of the rope dragged him back before he could obtain a
secure grasp of the stone shaft; and, after another ineffectual effort,
fearful of exhausting his strength, he abandoned the attempt, and began
to climb up the rope with his hands and knees. Aided by the inequalities
of the roughened walls, he soon gained a range of small Saxon arches
ornamenting the tower immediately beneath the belfry, and succeeded in
planting his right foot on the moulding of one of them; he instantly
steadied himself, and with little further effort clambered through an
His first act on reaching the belfry was to drop on his knees, and
return thanks to Heaven for his deliverance. He then looked about for an
outlet; but though a winding staircase existed in each of the four
angles of the tower, all the doors, to his infinite disappointment, were
fastened on the other side. He was still, therefore, a prisoner.
Determined, however, not to yield to despair, he continued his search,
and finding a small door opening upon a staircase communicating with the
summit of the tower, he unfastened it (for the bolt was on his own
side), and hurried up the steps. Passing through another door bolted
like the first within side, he issued upon the roof. He was now on the
highest part of the cathedral, and farther from his hopes than ever; and
so agonizing were his feelings, that he almost felt tempted to fling
himself headlong downwards. Beneath him lay the body of the mighty
fabric, its vast roof, its crocketed pinnacles, its buttresses and
battlements scarcely discernible through the gloom, but looking like
some monstrous engine devised to torture him.
Wearied with gazing at it, and convinced of the futility of any further
attempt at descent, Leonard Holt returned to the belfry, and, throwing
himself on the boarded floor, sought some repose. The fatigue he had
undergone was so great, that, notwithstanding his anxiety, he soon
dropped asleep, and did not awake for several hours. On opening his
eyes, it was just getting light, and shaking himself, he again prepared
for action. All the events of the night rushed upon his mind, and he
thought with unutterable anguish of Amabel's situation. Glancing round
the room, it occurred to him that he might give the alarm by ringing the
enormous bells near him; but though he set them slightly in motion, he
could not agitate the immense clappers sufficiently to produce any
Resolved, however, to free himself at any hazard, he once more repaired
to the summit of the tower, and leaning over the balustrade, gazed
below. It was a sublime spectacle, and, in spite of his distress, filled
him with admiration and astonishment. He had stationed himself on the
south side of the tower, and immediately beneath him lay the broad roof
of the transept, stretching out to a distance of nearly two hundred
feet. On the right, surrounded by a double row of cloisters, remarkable
for the beauty of their architecture, stood the convocation, or
chapter-house. The exquisite building was octagonal in form, and
supported by large buttresses, ornamented on each gradation by crocketed
pinnacles. Each side, moreover, had a tall pointed window, filled with
stained glass, and was richly adorned with trefoils and cinquefoils.
Further on, on the same side, was the small low church dedicated to
Saint Gregory, overtopped by the south-western tower of the mightier
It was not, however, the cathedral itself, but the magnificent view it
commanded, that chiefly attracted the apprentice's attention. From the
elevated point on which he stood, his eye ranged over a vast tract of
country bounded by the Surrey hills, and at last settled upon the river,
which in some parts was obscured by a light haze, and in others tinged
with the ruddy beams of the newly-risen sun. Its surface was spotted,
even at this early hour, with craft, while innumerable vessels of all
shapes and sizes were moored, to its banks. On. the left, he noted the
tall houses covering London Bridge; and on the right, traced the
sweeping course of the stream as it flowed from Westminster. On this
hand, on the opposite bank, lay the flat marshes of Lambeth; while
nearer stood the old bull-baiting and bear-baiting establishments, the
flags above which could be discerned above the tops of the surrounding
habitations. A little to the left was the borough of Southwark, even
then a large and populous district--the two most prominent features in
the scene being Winchester House, and Saint Saviour's old and beautiful
Filled with wonder at what he saw, Leonard looked towards the east, and
here an extraordinary prospect met his gaze. The whole of the city of
London was spread out like a map before him, and presented a dense mass
of ancient houses, with twisted chimneys, gables, and picturesque
roofs--here and there overtopped by a hall, a college, an hospital, or
some other lofty structure. This vast collection of buildings was girded
in by grey and mouldering walls, approached by seven gates, and
intersected by innumerable narrow streets. The spires and towers of the
churches shot up into the clear morning air--for, except in a few
quarters, no smoke yet issued from the chimneys. On this side, the view
of the city was terminated by the fortifications and keep of the Tower.
Little did the apprentice think, when he looked at the magnificent scene
before him, and marvelled at the countless buildings he beheld, that,
ere fifteen months had elapsed, the whole mass, together with the mighty
fabric on which he stood, would be swept away by a tremendous
conflagration. Unable to foresee this direful event, and lamenting only
that so fair a city should be a prey to an exterminating pestilence, he
turned towards the north, and suffered his gaze to wander over
Finsbury-fields, and the hilly ground beyond them--over Smithfield and
Clerkenwell, and the beautiful open country adjoining Gray's-inn-lane.
So smiling and beautiful did these districts appear, that ha could
scarcely fancy they were the chief haunts of the horrible distemper. But
he could not blind himself to the fact that in Finsbury-fields, as well
as in the open country to the north of Holborn, plague-pits had been
digged and pest-houses erected; and this consideration threw such a
gloom over the prospect, that, in order to dispel the effect, he changed
the scene by looking towards the west. Here his view embraced all the
proudest mansions of the capital, and tracing the Strand to Charing
Cross, long since robbed of the beautiful structure from which it
derived its name, and noticing its numerous noble habitations, his eye
finally rested upon Whitehall: and he heaved a sigh as he thought that
the palace of the sovereign was infected by as foul a moral taint as the
hideous disease that ravaged the dwellings of his subjects.
At the time that Leonard Holt gazed upon the capital, its picturesque
beauties were nearly at their close. In a little more than a year and a
quarter afterwards, the greater part of the old city was consumed by
fire; and though it was rebuilt, and in many respects improved, its
original and picturesque character was entirely destroyed.
It seems scarcely possible to conceive a finer view than can be gained
from the dome of the modern cathedral at sunrise on a May morning, when
the prospect is not dimmed by the smoke of a hundred thousand
chimneys--when the river is just beginning to stir with its numerous
craft, or when they are sleeping on its glistening bosom--when every
individual house, court, church, square, or theatre, can be
discerned--when the eye can range over the whole city on each side, and
calculate its vast extent. It seems scarcely possible, we say, to
suppose at any previous time it could be more striking; and yet, at the
period under consideration, it was incomparably more so. Then, every
house was picturesque, and every street a collection of picturesque
objects. Then, that which was objectionable in itself, and contributed
to the insalubrity of the city, namely, the extreme narrowness of the
streets, and overhanging stories of the houses, was the main source of
their beauty. Then, the huge projecting signs with their fantastical
iron-work--the conduits--the crosses (where crosses remained)--the
maypoles--all were picturesque; and as superior to what can now be seen,
as the attire of Charles the Second's age is to the ugly and disfiguring
costume of our own day.
Satiated with this glorious prospect, Leonard began to recur to his own
situation, and carefully scrutinizing every available point on the side
of the Tower, he thought it possible to effect his descent by clambering
down the gradations of one of the buttresses. Still, as this experiment
would be attended with the utmost danger, while, even if he reached the
roof, he would yet be far from his object, he resolved to defer it for a
short time, in the hope that ere long seine of the bell-ringers, or
other persons connected with the cathedral, might come thither and set
While thus communing with himself, he heard a door open below; and
hurrying down the stairs at the sound, he beheld, to his great surprise
and joy, the piper's daughter, Nizza Macascree.
"I have searched for you everywhere," she cried, "and began to think
some ill had befallen you. I overheard Judith Malmayns say she had shut
you up in a cell in the upper part of the tower. How did you escape
Leonard hastily explained.
"I told you I should never forget the service you rendered me in
preserving the life of poor Bell," pursued Nizza, "and what I have done
will prove I am not unmindful of my promise I saw you search the
cathedral last night with Judith, and noticed that she returned from the
tower unaccompanied by you. At first I supposed you might have left the
cathedral without my observing you, and I was further confirmed in the
idea by what I subsequently heard."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Leonard. "What did you hear?"
"I followed Judith to the vaults of Saint Faith's," replied Nizza, "and
heard her inform your companions that you had found the grocer's
daughter, and had taken her away."
"And this false statement imposed upon them?" cried Leonard.
"It did," replied Nizza. "They were by this time more than half
intoxicated by the brandy given them by Chowles, the coffin-maker, and
they departed in high dudgeon with you."
"No wonder!" exclaimed Leonard.
"They had scarcely been gone many minutes," pursued Nizza, "when, having
stationed myself behind one of the massive pillars in the north aisle of
Saint Faith's--for I suspected something was wrong--I observed Judith
and Chowles steal across the nave, and proceed towards the vestry. The
former tapped at the door, and they were instantly admitted by Mr.
Quatremain, the minor canon. Hastening to the door, which was left
slightly ajar, I perceived two young gallants, whom I heard addressed as
the Earl of Rochester and Sir George Etherege, and a young female, who I
could not doubt was Amabel. The earl and his companion laughed heartily
at the trick Judith had played you, and which the latter detailed to
them; but Amabel took no part in their merriment, but, on the contrary,
looked very grave, and even wept."
"Wept, did she?" cried Leonard, in a voice of much emotion. "Then, there
is hope for her yet."
"You appear greatly interested in her," observed Nizza, pausing, in her
narration. "Do you love her?"
"Can you ask it?" cried Leonard, passionately.
"I would advise you to think no more of her, and to fix your heart
elsewhere," returned Nizza.
"You know not what it is to love," replied the apprentice, "or you would
not offer such a counsel."
"Perhaps not," replied Nizza; "but I am sorry you have bestowed your
heart upon one who so little appreciates the boon."
And, feeling she had said too much, she blushed deeply, and cast down
Unconscious of her confusion, and entirely engrossed by the thought of
his mistress, Leonard urged her to proceed.
"Tell me what has become of Amabel--where I shall find her?" he cried.
"You will find her soon enough," replied Nizza. "She has not left the
cathedral. But hear me to an end. On learning you were made a prisoner,
I ran to the door leading to the tower, but found that Judith had locked
it, and removed the key. Not daring to give the alarm--for I had
gathered from what was said that the three vergers were in the earl's
pay--I determined to await a favourable opportunity to release you.
Accordingly I returned to the vestry door, and again played the
eaves-dropper. By this time, another person, who was addressed as Major
Pillichody, and who, it appeared, had been employed in the abduction,
had joined the party. He informed the earl that Mr. Bloundel was in the
greatest distress at his daughter's disappearance, and advised him to
lose no time in conveying her to some secure retreat. These tidings
troubled Amabel exceedingly, and the earl endeavoured to pacify her by
promising to espouse her at daybreak, and, as soon as the ceremony was
over, to introduce her in the character of his countess to her parents."
"Villain!" cried Leonard; "but go on."
"I have little more to tell," replied Nizza, "except that she consented
to the proposal, provided she was allowed to remain till six o'clock,
the hour appointed for the marriage, with Judith."
"Bad as that alternative is, it is better than the other," observed
Leonard. "But how did you procure the key of the winding staircase?"
"I fortunately observed where Judith had placed it," replied Nizza, "and
when she departed to the crypt near the charnel, with Amabel, I
possessed myself of it. For some time I was unable to use it, because
the Earl of Rochester and Sir George Etherege kept pacing to and fro in
front of the door, and their discourse convinced me that the marriage
was meant to be a feigned one, for Sir George strove to dissuade his
friend from the step he was about to take; but the other only laughed at
his scruples. As soon as they retired, which is not more than half an
hour ago, I unlocked the door, and hurried up the winding stairs. I
searched every chamber, and began to think you were gone, or that
Judith's statement was false. But I resolved to continue my search until
I was fully satisfied on this point, and accordingly ascended to the
belfry. You are aware of the result."
"You have rendered me a most important service," replied Leonard; "and I
hope hereafter to prove my gratitude. But let us now descend to the
choir, where I will conceal myself till Amabel appears. This marriage
must be prevented."
Before quitting the belfry, Leonard chanced to cast his eyes on a stout
staff left there, either by one of the bell-ringers or some chance
visitant, and seizing it as an unlooked-for prize, he ran down the
steps, followed by the piper's daughter.
On opening the lowest door, he glanced towards the choir, and there
before the high altar stood Quatremain in his surplice, with the earl
and Amabel, attended by Etherege and Pillichody. The ceremony had just
commenced. Not a moment was to be lost. Grasping his staff, the
apprentice darted along the nave, and, rushing up to the pair,
exclaimed in a loud voice, "Hold! I forbid this marriage. It must not
"Back, sirrah!" cried Etherege, drawing his sword, and opposing the
approach of the apprentice. "You have no authority to interrupt it.
Proceed, Mr. Quatremain."
"Forbear!" cried a voice of thunder near them--and all turning at the
cry, they beheld Solomon Eagle, with his brazier on his head, issue from
behind the stalls. "Forbear!" cried the enthusiast, placing himself
between the earl and Amabel, both of whom recoiled at his approach.
"Heaven's altar must not be profaned with these mockeries! And you,
Thomas Quatremain, who have taken part in this unrighteous transaction,
make clean your breast, and purge yourself quickly of your sins, for
your hours are numbered. I read in your livid looks and red and burning
eyeballs that you are smitten by the pestilence."
It will now be necessary to ascertain what took place at the grocer's
habitation subsequently to Amabel's abduction. Leonard Holt having
departed, Pillichody was preparing to make good his retreat, when he was
prevented by Blaize, who, hearing a noise in the yard, peeped cautiously
out at the back-door, and inquired who was there?
"Are you Mr. Bloundel?" rejoined Pillichody, bethinking him of a plan to
turn the tables upon the apprentice.
"No, I am his porter," replied the other.
"What, Blaize!" replied Pillichody. "Thunder and lightning! don't you
remember Bernard Boutefeu, the watchman?"
"I don't remember any watchman of that name, and I cannot discern your
features," rejoined Blaize. "But your voice sounds familiar to me. What
are you doing there?"
"I have been trying to prevent Leonard Holt from carrying off your
master's daughter, the fair Mistress Amabel," answered Pillichody. "But
he has accomplished his villanous purpose in spite of me."
"The devil he has!" cried Blaize. "Here is a pretty piece of news for my
master. But how did you discover him?"
"Chancing to pass along the entry on the other side of that wall about a
quarter of an hour ago," returned Pillichody, "I perceived a rope-ladder
fastened to it, and wishing to ascertain what was the matter, I mounted
it, and had scarcely got over into the yard, when I saw two persons
advancing. I concealed myself beneath the shadow of the wall, and they
did not notice me; but I gathered from their discourse who they were and
what was their design. I allowed Amabel to ascend, but just as the
apprentice was following, I laid hold of the skirt of his doublet, and,
pulling him back, desired him to come with me to his master. He answered
by drawing his sword, and would have stabbed me, but I closed with him,
and should have secured him if my foot had not slipped. While I was on
the ground, he dealt me a severe blow, and ran after his mistress."
"Just like him," replied Blaize. "He took the same cowardly advantage of
me last night."
"No punishment will be too severe for him," rejoined Pillichody, "and I
hope your master will make a terrible example of him."
"How fortunate I was not gone to bed!" exclaimed Blaize, "I had just
taken a couple of rufuses, and was about to put on my nightcap, when,
hearing a noise without, and being ever on the alert to defend my
master's property, even at the hazard of my life, I stepped forth and
"I will bear testimony to your vigilance and courage," returned
Pillichody; "but you had better go and alarm your master, I will wait
"Instantly I-instantly!" cried Blaize, rushing upstairs.
On the way to Mr. Bloundel's chamber, he met Patience, and told her what
he had heard. She was inclined to put a very different construction on
the story; but as she bore the apprentice no particular good-will, she
determined to keep her opinion to herself, and let affairs take their
course. The grocer was soon aroused, and scarcely able to credit the
porter's intelligence, and yet fearing something must be wrong, he
hastily attired himself, and proceeded to Amabel's room. It was empty,
and it was evident from the state in which everything was left, that she
had never retired to rest. Confounded by the sight, Bloundel then
hurried downstairs in search of the apprentice, but he was nowhere to be
found. By this time, Mrs. Bloundel had joined him, and on hearing
Blaize's story, utterly scouted it.
"It cannot be," she cried. "Leonard could have no motive for acting
thus. He had our consent to the union, and the sole obstacle to it was
Amabel herself. Is it likely he would run away with her?"
"I am sure I do not know," replied Patience, "but he was desperately in
love, that's certain; and when people are in love, I am told they do
very strange and unaccountable things. Perhaps he may have carried her
off against her will."
"Very likely," rejoined Blaize. "I thought I heard a scream, and should
have called out at the moment, but a rufus stuck in my throat and
"Where is the person who says he intercepted them?" asked Bloundel.
"In the yard," answered Blaize.
"Bid him come hither," rejoined his master. "Stay, I will go to him
With this, the whole party, including old Josyna and Stephen--the two
boys and little Christiana not having been disturbed--proceeded to the
yard, where they found Pillichody in his watchman's dress, who related
his story more circumstantially than before.
"I don't believe a word of it," cried Mrs. Bloundel; "and I will stake
my life it is one of the Earl of Rochester's tricks."
"Were I assured that such was the case," said the grocer, in a stern
whisper to his wife, "I would stir no further in the matter. My threat
to Amabel was not an idle one."
"I may be mistaken," returned Mrs. Bloundel, almost at her wit's end
with anxiety. "Don't mind what I say. Judge for yourself. Oh dear! what
_will_ become of her?" she mentally ejaculated.
"Lanterns and links!" cried Pillichody. "Do you mean to impeach my
veracity, good mistress? I am an old soldier, and as tenacious of my
honour as your husband is of his credit."
"This blustering will not serve your turn, fellow," observed the grocer,
seizing him by the collar. "I begin to suspect my wife is in the right,
and will at all events detain you."
"Detain me! on what ground?" asked Pillichody.
"As an accomplice in my daughter's abduction," replied Bloundel. "Here,
Blaize--Stephen, hold him while I call the watch. This is a most
mysterious affair, but I will soon get at the bottom of it."
By the grocer's directions, Pillichody, who very quietly entered the
house, and surrendered his halberd to Blaize, was taken to the kitchen.
Bloundel then set forth, leaving Stephen on guard at the yard door,
while his wife remained in the shop, awaiting his return.
On reaching the kitchen with the prisoner, Blaize besought his mother,
who, as well as Patience, had accompanied him thither, to fetch a bottle
of sack. While she went for the wine, and the porter was stalking to and
fro before the door with the halberd on his shoulder, Patience whispered
to Pillichody, "I know who you are. You came here last night with the
Earl of Rochester in the disguise of a quack doctor."
"Hush!" cried Pillichody, placing his finger on his lips.
"I am not going to betray you," returned Patience, in the same tone.
"But you are sure to be found out, and had better beat a retreat before
Mr. Bloundel returns."
"I won't lose a moment," replied Pillichody, starting to his feet.
"What's the matter?" cried Blaize, suddenly halting.
"I only got up to see whether the wine was coming," replied Pillichody.
"Yes, here it is," replied Blaize, as his mother reappeared; "and now
you shall have a glass of such sack as you never yet tasted."
And pouring out a bumper, he offered it to Pillichody. The latter took
the glass; but his hand shook so violently that he could not raise it to
"What ails you, friend?" inquired Blaize, uneasily.
"I don't know," replied Pillichody; "but I feel extremely unwell."
"He looks to me as if he had got the plague," observed Patience, to
"The plague!" exclaimed the latter, letting fall the glass, which
shivered to pieces on the stone floor. "And I have touched him. Where is
the vinegar-bottle? I must sprinkle myself directly, and rub myself from
head to foot with oil of hartshorn and spirits of sulphur. Mother! dear
mother! you have taken away my medicine-chest. If you love me, go and
fetch me a little conserve of Roman wormwood and mithridate. You will
find them in two small jars."
"Oh yes, do," cried Patience; "or he may die with fright."
Moved by their joint entreaties, old Josyna again departed; and her back
was no sooner turned, than Patience said in an undertone to
Pillichody,--"Now is your time. You have not a moment to lose."
Instantly taking the hint, the other uttered a loud cry, and springing
up, caught at Blaize, who instantly dropped the halberd, and fled into
one corner of the room.
Pillichody then hurried upstairs, while Blaize shouted after him, "Don't
touch him, Master Stephen. He has got the plague! he has got the
Alarmed by this outcry, Stephen suffered Pillichody to pass; and the
latter, darting across the yard, mounted the rope-ladder, and quickly
disappeared. A few minutes afterwards, Bloundel returned with the watch,
and was greatly enraged when he found that the prisoner had got off. No
longer doubting that he had been robbed of his daughter by the Earl of
Rochester, he could not make up his mind to abandon her to her fate, and
his conflicting feelings occasioned him a night of indescribable
anxiety. The party of watch whom he had summoned searched the street for
him, and endeavoured to trace out the fugitives,--but without success;
and they returned before daybreak to report their failure.
About six o'clock, Mr. Bloundel, unable to restrain himself longer,
sallied forth with Blaize in search of his daughter and Leonard.
Uncertain where to bend his steps, he trusted to chance to direct him,
resolved, if he were unsuccessful, to lay a petition for redress before
the throne. Proceeding along Cheapside, he entered Paternoster-row, and
traversed it till he came to Paul's Alley,--a narrow passage leading to
the north-west corner of the cathedral. Prompted by an unaccountable
impulse, he no sooner caught sight of the reverend structure, than he
hastened, towards it, and knocked against the great northern door.
We shall, however, precede him, and return to the party at the altar.
The awful warning of Solomon Eagle so alarmed Quatremain, that he let
fall his prayer-book, and after gazing vacantly round for a few moments,
staggered to one of the stalls, where, feeling a burning pain in his
breast, he tore open his doublet, and found that the enthusiast had
spoken the truth, and that he was really attacked by the pestilence. As
to Amabel, on hearing the terrible denunciation, she uttered a loud cry,
and would have fallen to the ground but for the timely assistance of the
apprentice, who caught her with one arm, while with the other he
defended himself against the earl and his companions.
But, in spite of his resistance, they would have soon compelled him to
relinquish his charge, if Solomon Eagle, who had hitherto contented
himself with gazing sternly on what was passing, had not interfered;
and, rushing towards the combatants, seized Rochester and Etherege, and
hurled them backwards with almost supernatural force. When they arose,
and menaced him with their swords, he laughed loudly and contemptuously,
crying, "Advance, if ye dare! and try your strength against one armed by
Heaven, and ye will find how far it will avail."
At this juncture, Leonard Holt heard a musical voice behind him, and
turning, beheld Nizza Macascree. She beckoned him to follow her; and,
raising Amabel in his arms, he ran towards the door leading to Saint
Faith's, through which his conductress passed. All this was the work of
a moment, and when Rochester and Etherege, who rushed after him, tried
the door, they found it fastened withinside.
Just then, a loud knocking was heard at the northern entrance of the
cathedral, and a verger answering the summons, Mr. Bloundel and Blaize
were admitted. On beholding the newcomers, Rochester and his companions
were filled with confusion. Equally astonished at the recounter, the
grocer grasped his staff, and rushing up to the earl, demanded, in a
voice that made the other, despite his natural audacity, quail--"Where
is my child, my lord? What have you done with her?"
"I know nothing about her," replied Rochester, with affected
carelessness.--"Yes, I am wrong," he added, as if recollecting himself;
"lam told she has run away with your apprentice."
Pillichody, who had changed his attire since his escape from the
grocer's dwelling, thought he might now venture to address him without
fear of discovery, and, setting his arms a-kimbo, and assuming a
swaggering demeanour, strutted forward and said, "Your daughter has just
been wedded to Leonard Holt, Mr. Bloundel."
"It is false," cried Bloundel, "as false as the character you just
personated, for I recognise you as the knave who recently appeared
before me as a watchman."
"I pledge you my word as a nobleman," interposed Rochester, "that your
daughter has just descended to Saint Faith's with your apprentice."
"I can corroborate his lordship's assertion," said Etherege.
"And I," added Pillichody. "By the holy apostle to whom this fane is
dedicated! it is so."
"To convince you that we speak the truth, we will go with you and assist
you to search," said Rochester.
Attaching little credit to what he heard, and yet unwilling to lose a
chance of recovering his daughter, the grocer rushed to the door
indicated by his informant, but found it fastened.
"You had better go to the main entrance," said one of the vergers; "I
have the keys with me, and will admit you."
"I will keep guard here till you return," said another verger
Accompanied by Rochester and Etherege, Bloundel then proceeded to the
chief door of the subterranean church. It was situated at the south of
the cathedral, between two of the larger buttresses, and at the foot of
a flight of stone steps. On reaching it, the verger produced his keys,
but they were of no avail, for the door was barred withinside. After
many fruitless attempts to obtain admission, they were fain to give up
"Well, if we cannot get in, no one shall get out," observed the verger.
"The only key that opens this door is in my possession, so we have them
The party then returned to the cathedral, where they found Blaize,
Pillichody, and the two other vergers keeping watch at the door near the
choir. No one had come forth.
Rochester then walked apart with his companions, while Bloundel, feeling
secure so long as he kept the earl in view, folded his arms upon his
breast, and determined to await the result.
By this time, the doors being opened, a great crowd was soon collected
within the sacred structure. Saint Paul's Churchyard, as is well known,
was formerly the great mart for booksellers, who have not, even in later
times, deserted the neighbourhood, but still congregate in
Paternoster-row, Ave-Maria-lane, and the adjoining streets. At the
period of this history they did not confine themselves to the precincts
of the cathedral, but, as has been previously intimated, fixed their
shops against the massive pillars of its nave. Besides booksellers,
there were seamstresses, tobacco-merchants, vendors of fruit and
provisions, and Jews--all of whom had stalls within the cathedral, and
who were now making preparations for the business of the day. Shortly
afterwards, numbers who came for recreation and amusement made their
appearance, and before ten o'clock, Paul's Walk, as the nave was termed,
was thronged, by apprentices, rufflers, porters, water-carriers,
higglers, with baskets on their heads, or under their arms, fish-wives,
quack-doctors, cutpurses, bonarobas, merchants, lawyers, and
serving-men, who came to be hired, and who stationed themselves near an
oaken block attached to one of the pillars, and which was denominated,
from the use it was put to, the "serving-man's log." Some of the crowd
were smoking, some laughing, others gathering round a ballad-singer, who
was chanting one of Rochester's own licentious ditties; some were buying
quack medicines and remedies for the plague, the virtues of which the
vendor loudly extolled; while others were paying court to the dames,
many of whom were masked. Everything seemed to be going forward within
this sacred place, except devotion. Here, a man, mounted on the carved
marble of a monument, bellowed forth the news of the Dutch war, while
another, not far from him, on a bench, announced in lugubrious accents
the number of those who had died on the previous day of the pestilence.
There, at the very font, was a usurer paying over a sum of money to a
gallant--it was Sir Paul Parravicin--who was sealing a bond for thrice
the amount of the loan. There, a party of choristers, attended by a
troop of boys, were pursuing another gallant, who had ventured into the
cathedral booted and spurred, and were demanding "spur-money" of him--an
exaction which they claimed as part of their perquisites.
An admirable picture of this curious scene has been given by Bishop
Earle, in his _Microcosmographia_, published in 1629. "Paul's Walk," he
writes, "is the land's epitome, or you may call it the lesser isle of
Great Britain. It is more than this--it is the whole world's map, which
you may here discern in its perfectest motion, jostling and turning. It
is a heap of stones and men, with a vast confusion of languages; and
were the steeple not sanctified, nothing could be liker Babel. The noise
in it is like that of bees, a strange humming, or buzzing, mixed of
walking, tongues, and feet: it is a kind of still roar, or loud whisper.
It is the great exchange of all discourse, and no business whatsoever,
but is here stirring and afoot. It is the synod of all parts politic,
jointed and laid together in most serious posture, and they are not half
so busy at the Parliament. It is the market of young lecturers, whom you
may cheapen here at all rates and sizes. It is the general mint of all
famous lies, which are here, like the legends of Popery, first coined
and stamped in the church. All inventions are emptied here, and not a
few pockets. The best sign of the Temple in it is that it is the
thieves' sanctuary, who rob more safely in a crowd than a wilderness,
while every pillar is a bush to hide them. It is the other expense of
the day, after plays and taverns; and men have still some oaths to swear
here. The visitants are all men without exceptions; but the principal
inhabitants are stale knights and captains out of service, men of long
rapiers and short purses, who after all turn merchants here, and traffic
for news. Some make it a preface to their dinner, and travel for an
appetite; but thirstier men make it their ordinary, and board here very
cheap. Of all such places it is least haunted by hobgoblins, for if a
ghost would walk here, he could not."
Decker, moreover, terms Paul's Walk, or the "Mediterranean Isle," in his
"Gull's Hornbook"--"the only gallery wherein the pictures of all your
true fashionate and complimental gulls are, and ought to be, hung up."
After giving circumstantial directions for the manner of entering the
walk, he proceeds thus: "Bend your course directly in the middle line
that the whole body of the church may appear to be yours, where in view
of all, you may publish your suit in what manner you affect most, either
with the slide of your cloak from the one shoulder or the other." He
then recommends the gull, after four or five turns in the nave, to
betake himself to some of the semsters' shops the new tobacco office, or
the booksellers' stalls, "where, if you cannot read, exercise your
smoke, and inquire who has written against the divine weed." Such, or
something like it, was Paul's Walk at the period of this history.
The grocer, who had not quitted his post, remained a silent and
sorrowful spectator of the scene. Despite his anxiety, he could not help
moralizing upon it, and it furnished him with abundant food for
reflection. As to Rochester and his companions, they mingled with the
crowd--though the earl kept a wary eye on the door--chatted with the
prettiest damsels--listened to the newsmongers, and broke their fast at
the stall of a vendor of provisions, who supplied them with tolerable
viands, and a bottle of excellent Rhenish. Blaize was soon drawn away by
one of the quacks, and, in spite of his master's angry looks, he could
not help purchasing one of the infallible antidotes offered for sale by
the charlatan. Parravicin had no sooner finished his business with the
usurer than he strolled along the nave, and was equally surprised and
delighted at meeting with his friends, who briefly explained to him why
they were there.
"And how do you expect the adventure to terminate?" asked Parravicin,
laughing heartily at the recital.
"Heaven knows," replied the earl. "But what are you doing here?"
"I came partly to replenish my purse, for I have had a run of ill luck
of late," replied the knight; "and partly to see a most beautiful
creature, whom I accidentally discovered here yesterday."
"A new beauty!" cried Rochester. "Who is she?"
"Before I tell you, you must engage not to interfere with me," replied
Parravicin. "I have marked her for my own."
"Agreed," replied Rochester. "Now, her name?"
"She is the daughter of a blind piper, who haunts the cathedral,"
replied Parravicin, "and her name is Nizza Macascree. Is it not
charming? But you shall see her."
"We must not go too far from the door of Saint Faith's," rejoined
Rochester. "Can you not contrive to bring her hither?"
"That is more easily said than done," replied Parravicin. "She is as coy
as the grocer's daughter. However, I will try to oblige you."
With this, he quitted his companions, and returning shortly afterwards,
said, "My mistress has likewise disappeared. I found the old piper
seated at the entrance of Bishop Kempe's chapel, attended by his
dog--but he missed his daughter when he awoke in the morning, and is in
great trouble about her."
"Strange!" cried Etherege; "I begin to think the place is enchanted."
"It would seem so, indeed," replied Rochester.
While they were thus conversing, Pillichody, who was leaning against a
column, with his eye fixed upon the door leading to Saint Faith's,
observed it open, and the apprentice issue from it accompanied by two
masked females. All three attempted to dart across the transept and gain
the northern entrance, but they were Intercepted. Mr. Bloundel caught
hold of Leonard's arm, and Rochester seized her whom he judged by the
garb to be Amabel, while Parravicin, recognising Nizza Macascree, as he
thought, by her dress, detained her.
"What is the meaning of all this, Leonard?" demanded the grocer,
"You shall have an explanation instantly," replied the apprentice; "but
think not of me--think only of your daughter."
"My father!--my father!" cried the damsel, who had been detained by
Parravicin, taking off her mask, and rushing towards the grocer.
"Who then have I got?" cried Rochester.
"The piper's daughter, I'll be sworn," replied Etherege.
"You are right," replied Nizza, unmasking. "I changed dresses with
Amabel, and hoped by so doing to accomplish her escape, but we have been
baffled. However, as her father is here, it is of little consequence."
"Amabel," said the grocer, repulsing her, "before I receive you again, I
must be assured that you have not been alone with the Earl of
"She has not, sir," replied the apprentice. "Visit your displeasure on
my head. I carried her off and would have wedded her."
"What motive had you for this strange conduct?" asked Bloundel,
Before Leonard could answer, Pillichody stepped forward, and said to the
grocer, "Mr. Bloundel, you are deceived--on the faith of a soldier you
"Peace, fool!" said Rochester, "I will not be outdone in generosity by
an apprentice. Leonard Holt speaks the truth."
"If so," replied Bloundel, "he shall never enter my house again. Send
for your indentures to-night," he continued sharply, to Leonard, "but
never venture to approach me more."
"Father, you are mistaken," cried Amabel. "Leonard Holt is not to blame.
I alone deserve your displeasure."
"Be silent!" whispered the apprentice; "you destroy yourself. I care not
what happens to me, provided you escape the earl."
"Come home, mistress," cried the grocer, dragging her through the crowd
which had gathered round them.
"Here is a pretty conclusion to the adventure!" cried Parravicin; "but
where is the apprentice--and where is the pretty Nizza Macascree? 'Fore
heaven," he added, as he looked around for them in vain, "I should not
wonder if they have eloped together."
"Nor I," replied Rochester. "I admire the youth's spirit, and trust he
may be more fortunate with his second mistress than with his first."
"It shall be my business to prevent that," rejoined Parravicin. "Help me
to search for her."
* * * * *
As the grocer disappeared with his daughter, Nizza Macascree, who had
anxiously watched the apprentice, observed him turn deadly pale, and
stagger; and instantly springing to his side, she supported him to a
neighbouring column, against which he leaned till he had in some degree
recovered from the shock. He then accompanied her to Bishop Kempe's
beautiful chapel in the northern aisle, where she expected to find her
father; but it was empty.
"He will be back presently," said Nizza. "He is no doubt making the
rounds of the cathedral. Bell will take care of him. Sit down on that
bench while I procure you some refreshment. You appear much in need of
And without waiting for a reply, she ran off, and presently afterwards
returned with a small loaf of bread and a bottle of beer.
"I cannot eat," said Leonard, faintly. But seeing that his kind provider
looked greatly disappointed, he swallowed a few mouthfuls, and raised
the bottle to his lips. As he did so, a sudden feeling of sickness
seized him, and he set it down untasted.
"What ails you?" asked Nizza, noticing his altered looks with
"I know not," he replied. "I have never felt so ill before."
"I thought you were suffering from agitation," she rejoined, as a
fearful foreboding crossed her.
"I shall be speedily released from further trouble," replied the
apprentice. "I am sure I am attacked by the plague."
"Oh! say not so!" she rejoined. "You may be mistaken."
But though she tried to persuade herself she spoke the truth, her heart
could not be deceived.
"I scarcely desire to live," replied the apprentice, in a melancholy
tone, "for life has lost all charms for me. But do not remain here, or
you may be infected by the distemper."
"I will never leave you," she hastily rejoined; "that is," she added,
checking herself, "till I have placed you in charge of some one who will
watch over you."
"No one will watch over me," returned Leonard. "My master has dismissed
me from his service, and I have no other friend left. If you will tell
one of the vergers what is the matter with me, he will summon the
Examiner of Health, who will bring a litter to convey me to the
"If you go thither your fate is sealed," replied Nizza.
"I have said I do not desire to live," returned the apprentice.
"Do not indulge in these gloomy thoughts, or you are certain to bring
about a fatal result," said Nizza. "Would I knew how to aid you! But I
still hope you are deceived as to the nature of your attack."
"I cannot be deceived," replied Leonard, whose countenance proclaimed
the anguish he endured. "Doctor Hodges, I think, is interested about
me," he continued, describing the physician's residence--"if you will
inform him of my seizure, he may, perhaps, come to me."
"I will fly to him instantly," replied Nizza; and she was about to quit
the chapel, when she was stopped by Parravicin and his companions.
"Let me pass," she said, trying to force her way through them.
"Not so fast, fair Nizza," rejoined Parravicin, forcing her back, "I
must have a few words with you. Have I overrated her charms?" he added
to Rochester. "Is she not surpassingly beautiful?"
"In good sooth she is," replied the earl, gazing at her with admiration.
"By the nut-brown skin of Cleopatra!" cried Pillichody, "she beats Mrs.
Disbrowe, Sir Paul."
"I have never seen any one so lovely," said the knight, attempting to
press her hand to his lips.
"Release me, sir," cried Nizza, struggling to free herself.
"Not till I have told you how much I love you," returned the knight,
"Love me!" she echoed, scornfully.
"Yes, love you," reiterated Parravicin. "It would be strange if I, who
profess myself so great an admirer of beauty, did otherwise. I am
passionately enamoured of you. If you will accompany me, fair Nizza, you
shall change your humble garb for the richest attire that gold can
purchase, shall dwell in a magnificent mansion, and have troops of
servants at your command. In short, my whole fortune, together with
myself, shall be placed at your disposal."
"Do not listen to him, Nizza," cried Leonard Holt, in a faint voice.
"Be assured I will not," she answered. "Your insulting proposal only
heightens the disgust I at first conceived for you," she added to the
knight: "I reject it with scorn, and command you to let me pass."
"Nay, if you put on these airs, sweetheart," replied Parravicin,
insolently, "I must alter my tone likewise. I am not accustomed to play
the humble suitor to persons of your condition."
"Perhaps not," replied Nizza; "neither am I accustomed to this
unwarrantable usage. Let me go. My errand is one of life and death. Do
not hinder me, or you will have a heavy crime on your soul--heavier, it
may be, than any that now loads it."
"Where are you going?" asked Parravicin, struck by her earnest manner.
"To fetch assistance," she replied, "for one suddenly assailed by the
"Ah!" exclaimed the knight, trembling, and relinquishing his grasp. "My
path is ever crossed by that hideous spectre. Is it your father who is
"No," she replied, pointing to Leonard, "it is that youth."
"The apprentice!" exclaimed Rochester. "I am sorry for him. Let us be
gone," he added to his companions. "It may be dangerous to remain here
With this they all departed except Parravicin.
"Come with us, Nizza," said the latter; "we will send assistance to the
"I have already told you my determination," she rejoined; "I will not
stir a footstep with you. And if you have any compassion in your nature,
you will not detain me longer."
"I will not leave you here to certain destruction," said the knight.
"You shall come with me whether you will or not."
And as he spoke, he advanced towards her, while she retreated towards
Leonard, who, rising with difficulty, placed himself between her and her
"If you advance another footstep," cried the apprentice, "I will fling
myself upon you, and the contact may be fatal."
Parravicin gazed, furiously at him, and half unsheathed his sword. But
the next moment he returned it to the scabbard, and exclaiming, "Another
time! another time!" darted after his companions.
He was scarcely gone, when Leonard reeled against the wall, and before
Nizza could catch him, fell in a state of insensibility on the floor.
After vainly attempting to raise him, Nizza flew for assistance, and had
just passed through the door of the chapel, when she met Judith Malmayns
and Chowles. She instantly stopped them, and acquainting them with the
apprentice's condition, implored them to take charge of him while she
went in search of Doctor Hodges.
"Before you go," said Judith, "let me make sure that he is attacked by
the plague. It may be some other disorder."
"I hope so, indeed," said Nizza, pausing; "but I fear the contrary."
So saying, she returned with them to the chapel. Raising the apprentice
with the greatest ease, Judith tore open his doublet.
"Your suspicion is correct," she said, with a malignant smile. "Here is
the fatal sign upon his breast."
"I will fetch Doctor Hodges instantly," cried Nizza.
"Do so," replied Judith; "we will convey him to the vaults in Saint
Faith's, where poor Mr. Quatremain has just been taken. He will be
better there than in the pest-house."
"Anything is better than that," said Nizza, shuddering.
As soon as she was gone, Chowles took off his long black cloak, and,
throwing it over the apprentice, laid him at full length upon the bench,
and, assisted by Judith, carried him towards the choir. As they
proceeded, Chowles called out, "Make way for one sick of the plague!"
and the crowd instantly divided, and gave them free passage. In this way
they descended to Saint Faith's, and, shaping their course to the vault,
deposited their burden on the very bed lately occupied by the
"He has come here to die," observed Judith to her companion. "His attack
is but a slight one, and he might with care recover. But I can bargain
with the Earl of Rochester for his removal."
"Take heed how you make such a proposal to his lordship," returned
Chowles. "From what I have seen, he is likely to, revolt at it."
"Every man is glad to get rid of a rival," rejoined Judith.
"Granted," replied Chowles; "but no man will _pay_ for the riddance when
the plague will accomplish it for him for nothing."
"With due attention, I would answer for that youth's recovery," said
Judith. "It is not an incurable case, like Mr. Quatremain's. And so
Doctor Hodges, when he comes, will pronounce it."
Shortly after this, Nizza Macaseree appeared with a countenance fraught
with anxiety, and informed them that Doctor Hodges was from home, and
would not probably return till late at night.
"That's unfortunate," said Judith. "Luckily, however, there are other
doctors in London, and some who understand the treatment of the plague
far better than he does--Sibbald, the apothecary of Clerkenwell, for
"Do you think Sibbald would attend him?" asked Nizza, eagerly.
"To be sure he would," replied Mrs. Malmayns, "if he were paid for it.
But you seem greatly interested about this youth. I have been young, and
know what effect good looks and a manly deportment have upon our sex. He
has won your heart! Ha! ha! You need not seek to disguise it. Your
blushes answer for you."
"A truce to this," cried Nizza, whose cheeks glowed with shame and
"You can answer a plain question, I suppose," returned Judith. "Is his
life dear to you?"
"Dearer than my own?" replied Nizza.
"I thought as much," returned Judith. "What will you give me to save
"I have nothing," rejoined Nizza, with a troubled look--"nothing but
thanks to give you."
"Think again," said Judith. "Girls like you, if they have no money, have
generally some trinket--some valuable in their possession."
"That is not my case," said Nizza, bursting into tears. "I never
received a present in my life, and never desired one till now."
"But your father must have some money?" said Judith, inquisitively.
"I know not," replied Nizza, "but I will ask him. What sum will content
"Bring all you can," returned Judith, "and I will do my best."
Nizza then departed, while Judith, with the assistance of Chowles,
covered Leonard with blankets, and proceeded to light a fire. Long
before this, the sick youth was restored to animation. But he was quite
light-headed and unconscious of his situation, and rambled about Amabel
and her father. After administering such remedies as she thought fit,
and as were at hand, Judith sat down with the coffin-maker beside a
small table, and entered into conversation with him.
"Well," said Chowles, in an indifferent tone, as he poured out a glass
of brandy, "is it to be kill or cure?"
"I have not decided," replied Judith, pledging him.
"I still do not see what gain there would be in shortening his career,"
"If there would be no gain, there would be gratification," replied
Judith. "He has offended me."
"If that is the case, I have nothing further to say," returned Chowles.
"But you promised the piper's daughter to save him."
"We shall see what she offers," rejoined Judith; "all will depend upon
"It is extraordinary," observed Chowles, after a pause, "that while all
around us are sick or dying of the pestilence, we should escape
"We are not afraid of it," replied Judith. "Besides, we are part of the
plague ourselves. But I _have_ been attacked, and am, therefore, safe."
"True," replied Chowles; "I had forgotten that. Well, if I fall ill, you
Sha'n't nurse me."
"You won't be able to help yourself then," returned Judith.
"Eh!" exclaimed Chowles, shifting uneasily on his seat.
"Don't be afraid," returned Judith, laughing at his alarm. "I'll take
every care of you. We are necessary to each other."
"So we are," replied Chowles; "so we are; and if nothing else could,
that consideration would make us true to each other."
"Of course," assented Judith. "Let us reap as rich a harvest as we can,
and when the scourge is over, we can enjoy ourselves upon the spoils."
"Exactly so," replied Chowles. "My business is daily-hourly on the
increase. My men are incessantly employed, and my only fear is that an
order will be issued to bury the dead without coffins."
"Not unlikely," replied Mrs. Malmayns. "But there are plenty of ways of
getting money in a season like this. If one fails, we must resort to
another. I shall make all I can, and in the shortest manner."
"Right!" cried Chowles, with, an atrocious laugh. "Right! ha! ha!"
"I have found out a means of propagating the distemper," pursued Judith,
in a low tone, and with a mysterious air, "of inoculating whomsoever I
please with the plague-venom. I have tried the experiment on Mr.
Quatremain and that youth, and you see how well it has answered in both
"I do," replied Chowles, looking askance at her. "But why destroy the
poor minor canon?"
"Because I want to get hold of the treasure discovered by the help of
the Mosaical rods in Saint Faith's, which by right belonged to my
husband, and which is now in Mr. Quatremain's possession," replied
"I understand," nodded Chowles.
While they were thus conversing, Nizza Macascree again returned, and
informed them that she could not find her father. "He has left the
cathedral," she said, "and will not, probably, return till nightfall."
"I am sorry for it, on your account," observed Judith, coldly.
"Why, you will not have the cruelty to neglect the poor young man till
then--you will take proper precautions?" exclaimed Nizza.
"Why should I exert myself for one about whose recovery I am
indifferent?" said Judith.
"Why?" exclaimed Nizza. "But it is in vain to argue with you. I must
appeal to your avarice, since you are deaf to the pleadings of humanity.
I have just bethought me that I have an old gold coin, which was given
me years ago by my father. He told me it had been my mother's, and
charged me not to part with it. I never should have done so, except in
an emergency like the present."
As she spoke, she drew from her bosom a broad gold piece. A hole was
bored through it, and it was suspended from her neck by a chain of
"Let me look at it," said Judith taking the coin. "Who gave you this?"
she asked, in an altered tone.
"My father?" replied Nizza; "I have just told you so. It was my
"Impossible!" exclaimed Judith!
"Have you ever seen it before?" inquired Nizza, astonished at the change
in the nurse's manner.
"I have," replied Judith, "and in very different hands."
"You surprise me," cried Nizza. "Explain yourself, I beseech you."
"Not now--not now," cried Judith, hastily returning the coin. "And this
is to be mine in case I cure the youth?"
"I have said so," replied Nizza.
"Then make yourself easy," rejoined Judith; "he shall be well again in
less than two days."
With this, she set a pan on the fire, and began to prepare a poultice,
the materials for which she took from a small oaken chest in one corner
of the vault. Nizza looked on anxiously, and while they were thus
employed, a knock was heard at the door, and Chowles opening it, found
the piper and one of the vergers.
"Ah! is it you, father?" cried Nizza, rushing to him.
"I am glad I have found you," returned the piper, "for I began to fear
some misfortune must have befallen you. Missing you in the morning, I
traversed the cathedral in search of you with Bell, well knowing, if you
were in the crowd, she would speedily discover you."
His daughter then hastily recounted what had happened. When the piper
heard that she had promised the piece of gold to the plague-nurse, a
cloud came over his open countenance.
"You must never part with it," he said--"never. It is an amulet, and if
you lose it, or give it away, your good luck will go with it."
"Judith Malmayns says she has seen it before," rejoined Nizza.
"No such thing," cried the piper hastily, "she knows nothing about it.
But come with me. You must not stay here longer."
"But, father--dear father!--I want a small sum to pay the nurse for
attending this poor young man," cried Nizza.
"I have no money," replied the piper; "and if I had, I should not throw
it away in so silly a manner. Come along; I shall begin think you are in
love with the youth."
"Then you will not be far wide of the mark," observed Judith, coarsely.
The piper uttered an angry exclamation, and taking his daughter's hand,
dragged her out of the vault.
"You will not get your fee," laughed Chowles, as they were left alone.
"So it appears," replied Judith, taking the pan from the fire; "there is
no use in wasting a poultice."
Shortly after this, the door of the vault again opened, and Parravicin
looked in. He held a handkerchief sprinkled with vinegar to his face,
and had evidently, from the manner in which he spoke, some antidote
against the plague in his mouth.
"Nizza Macascree has been here, has she not?" he asked.
"She has just left with her father," replied Judith.
Parravicin beckoned her to follow him, and led the way to the north
aisle of Saint Faith's.
"Is the apprentice likely to recover?" he asked.
"Humph!" exclaimed Judith; "that depends upon circumstances. Nizza
Macascree offered me a large reward to cure him."
"Is he any connexion of hers?" asked the knight, sharply.
"None whatever," returned Judith, with a significant smile. "But he may
possibly be so."
"I thought as much," muttered the knight.
"He never _shall_ recover," said Judith, halting, and speaking in a low
tone, "if you make it worth my while."
"You read my wishes," replied Parravicin, in a sombre tone. "Take this
purse, and free me from him."
"He will never more cross your path," replied Judith, eagerly grasping
"Enough!" exclaimed Parravicin. "What has passed between us must be
"As the grave which shall soon close over the victim," she rejoined.
Parravicin shuddered, and hurried away, while Judith returned at a slow
pace, and chinking the purse as she went to the vault.
She had scarcely passed through the door, when Nizza Macascree appeared
from behind one of the massive pillars. "This dreadful crime must be
prevented," she cried--"but how? If I run to give the alarm, it may be
executed, and no one will believe me. I will try to prevent it myself."
Crossing the channel, she was about to enter the vault, when Chowles
stepped forth. She shrank backwards, and allowed him to pass, and then
trying the door, found it unfastened.
HOW LEONARD WAS CURED OF THE PLAGUE.
Nizza Macascree found Judith leaning over her intended victim, and
examining the plague-spot on his breast. The nurse was so occupied by
her task that she did not hear the door open, and it was not until the
piper's daughter was close beside her, that she was aware of her
presence. Hastily drawing the blankets over the apprentice, she then
turned, and regarded Nizza with a half-fearful, half-menacing look.
"What brings you here again?" she inquired, sharply.
"Ask your own heart, and it will tell you," rejoined Nizza, boldly. "I
am come to preserve the life of this poor youth."
"If you think you can nurse him better than I can, you can take my place
and welcome," returned Judith, affecting not to understand her; "I have
plenty of other business to attend to, and should be glad to be released
from the trouble."
"Can she already have effected her fell purpose?" thought Nizza, gazing
at the apprentice, whose perturbed features proclaimed that his slumber
procured him no rest from suffering. "No--no--she has not had time. I
accept your offer," she added, aloud.
"But what will your father say to this arrangement?" asked Judith.
"When he knows my motive, he will not blame me," answered Nizza. "Here I
take my place," she continued, seating herself, "and will not quit it
till he is out of danger."
"Your love for this youth borders upon insanity," cried Judith, angrily.
"You shall not destroy yourself thus."
"Neither shall you destroy him," retorted Nizza. "It is to prevent the
commission of the crime you meditate, and for which you have been
_paid_, that I am determined to remain with him."
As she said this, a singular and frightful change took place in the
nurse's appearance. A slight expression of alarm was at first visible,
but it was instantly succeeded by a look so savage and vindictive, that
Nizza almost repented having provoked the ire of so unscrupulous a
person. But summoning up all her resolution, she returned Judith's
glance with one as stern and steady, if not so malignant as her own. A
deep silence prevailed for a few minutes, during which each fancied she
could read the other's thoughts. In Nizza's opinion, the nurse was
revolving some desperate expedient, and she kept on her guard, lest an
attack should be made upon her life. And some such design did, in
reality, cross Judith; but abandoning it as soon as formed, she resolved
to have recourse to more secret, but not less certain measures.
"Well," she said, breaking silence, "since you are determined to have
your own way, and catch the plague, and most likely perish from it, I
shall not try to hinder you. Do what you please, and see what will come
And she made as if about to depart; but finding Nizza did not attempt to
stop her, she halted.
"I cannot leave you thus," she continued; "if you _will_ remain, take
this ointment," producing a small jar, "and rub the plague-spot with it.
It is a sovereign remedy, and will certainly effect a cure."
"I will not touch it," returned Nizza.
"His death, then, be upon your head," rejoined Judith, quitting the
vault, and closing the door after her.
Greatly relieved by her departure, Nizza began to consider what she
should do, and whether it would be possible to remove the apprentice to
some safer place. "While occupied with these reflections, the object of
her solicitude heaved a deep sigh, and opening his eyes, fixed them upon
her. It was evident, however, that he did not know her, but as far as
could be gathered from his ravings, mistook her for Amabel. By degrees
he grew calmer, and the throbbing anguish of the tumour in some measure
subsiding, his faculties returned to him.
"Where am I?" he exclaimed, pressing his hand forcibly to his brow, "and
what is the matter with me?"
"You are in a vault, near Saint Faith's," replied Nizza, "and--I will
not deceive you--the disorder you are labouring under is the plague."
"The plague!" echoed Leonard, with a look of horror. "Ah! now I
recollect. I was attacked immediately after Amabel's departure with her
father. Heaven be praised! she is safe. That is some consolation amid
all this misery. Could my master behold me now, he would pity me, and so
perhaps would his daughter."
"Heed her not," rejoined Nizza, in a slightly reproachful tone, "she
does not deserve consideration. To return to yourself. You are not safe
here. Judith Malmayns has been hired to take away your life. Are you
able to move hence?"
"I hope so," replied Leonard, raising himself on his arm.
"Wrap a blanket round you, then, and follow me," said Nizza, taking up
the lamp and hastening to the door. "Ah!" she exclaimed, with a cry of
anguish--"it is locked."
"This building is destined to be my prison, and that treacherous woman
my gaoler," groaned Leonard, sinking backwards.
"Do not despair," cried Nizza; "I will accomplish your deliverance."
So saying, she tried, by knocking against the door and by loud outcries,
to give the alarm. But no answer was returned, and she soon became
convinced that Judith had fastened the door of the charnel, which, it
will be remembered, lay between the vault and the body of Saint Faith's.
Hence, no sound could teach the outer structure. Disturbed by what had
just occurred. Leonard's senses again wandered; but, exerting all her
powers to tranquillize him, Nizza at last succeeded so well that he sunk
into a slumber.
Almost regarding his situation as hopeless, she took up the lamp, and
searching the vault, found the pan containing the half-made poultice.
The fire smouldered on the hearth, and replenishing it from a scanty
supply in one corner, she heated the poultice and applied it to the
tumour. This done, she continued her search. But though she found
several phials, each bearing the name of some remedy for the pestilence,
her distrust of Judith would not allow her to use any of them. Resuming
her seat by the couch of the sufferer, and worn out with fatigue and
anxiety, she presently dropped asleep.
She was awakened after awhile by a slight noise near her, and beheld
Judith bending over the apprentice, with a pot of ointment in her hand,
which she was about to apply to the part affected. The poultice had
already been removed. Uttering a loud cry, Nizza started to her feet,
and snatching the ointment from the nurse, threw it away. As soon as the
latter recovered from her surprise, she seized her assailant, and forced
her into the seat she had just quitted.
"Stir not till I give you permission," she cried, fiercely; "I wish to
cure this young man, if you will let me."
"You intend to murder him," replied Nizza; "but while I live you shall
never accomplish your atrocious purpose. Help! help!" And she uttered a
prolonged piercing scream.
"Peace! or I will strangle you," cried Judith, compressing Nizza's
slender throat with a powerful gripe.
And she would, in all probability, have executed her terrible threat, if
a secret door in the wall had not suddenly opened and admitted Solomon
Eagle. A torch supplied the place of his brazier, and he held it aloft,
and threw its ruddy light upon the scene. On seeing him, Judith
relinquished her grasp, and glared at him with a mixture of defiance and
apprehension; while Nizza, half dead with terror, instantly rushed
towards him, and throwing herself at his feet, besought him to save her.
"No harm shall befall you," replied Solomon Eagle, extending his arm
over her. "Tell me what has happened."
Nizza hastily explained the motive of Judith's attack upon her life. The
plague-nurse endeavoured to defend herself, and, in her turn, charged
her accuser with a like attempt. But Solomon Eagle interrupted her.
"Be silent, false woman!" he cried, "and think not to delude me with
these idle fabrications. I fully believe that you would have taken the
life of this poor youth, and, did I not regard you as one of the
necessary agents of Heaven's vengeance, I would instantly deliver you up
to justice. But the measure of your iniquities is not yet filled up.
Your former crimes are not unknown to me. Neither is the last dark deed,
which you imagined concealed from every human eye, hidden from me."
"I know not what you mean," returned Judith, trembling, in spite of
"I will tell you, then," rejoined Solomon Eagle, catching her hand, and
dragging her into the furthest corner of the vault. "Give ear to me," he
continued, in a low voice, "and doubt, if you can, that I have witnessed
what I relate. I saw you enter a small chamber behind the vestry, in
which Thomas Quatremain, who once filled the place of minor canon in
this cathedral, was laid. No one was there beside yourself and the dying
man. Your first business was to search his vestments, and take away his
"Ha!" exclaimed Judith, starting.
"While securing his keys," pursued Solomon Eagle, "the owner awakened,
and uttered a low, but angry remonstrance. Better he had been silent.
Dipping a napkin in an ewer of water that stood beside him, you held the
wet cloth over his face, and did not remove it till life was extinct.
All this I saw."
"But you will not reveal it," said Judith, tremblingly.
"I will not," replied Solomon Eagle, "for the reasons I have just
stated; namely, that I look upon you as one of the scourges appointed by
"And so I am," rejoined Judith, with impious exultation; "it is my
mission to destroy and pillage, and I will fulfil it."
"Take heed you do not exceed it," replied Solomon Eagle. "Lift a finger
against either of these young persons, and I will reveal all. Yes," he
continued, menacingly, "I will disclose such dreadful things against
you, that you will assuredly be adjudged to a gibbet higher than the
highest tower of this proud fane."
"I defy you, wretch!" retorted Judith. "You can prove nothing against
"Defy me?--ha!" cried Solomon Eagle, with a terrible laugh. "First," he
added, dashing her backwards against the wall--"first, to prove my
power. Next," he continued, drawing from her pockets a bunch of keys,
"to show that I speak the truth. These were taken from the vest of the
murdered man. No one, as yet, but ourselves, knows that he is dead."
"And who shall say which of the two is the murderer?" cried Judith.
"Villain! I charge you with the deed."
"You are, indeed, well fitted for your appointed task," returned Solomon
Eagle, gazing at her with astonishment, "for sometimes Heaven, for its
own wise purpose, will allow the children of hell to execute its
vengeance upon earth. But think not you will always thus escape. No, you
may pursue your evil course for a while--you, and your companion in
crime; but a day of retribution will arrive for both--a day when ye
shall be devoured, living, by flames of fire--when all your sins shall
arise before your eyes, and ye shall have no time for repentance--and
when ye shall pass from one fierce fire to another yet fiercer, and
As he concluded, he again dashed her against the wall with such violence
that she fell senseless upon the ground.
"And now," he said, turning to Nizza Macascree, who looked on in alarm
and surprise, "what can I do for you?"
"Bear this youth to a place of safety," was her answer.
Solomon Eagle answered by lifting up the pallet upon which Leonard was
laid, with as much ease as if it had been an infant's cradle, and
calling on Nizza to bring the torch, passed with his burden through the
secret door. Directing her to close it after them, he took his way alone
a narrow stone passage, until he came to a chink in the wall commanding
a small chamber, and desired her to look through it. She obeyed, and
beheld, stretched upon a couch, the corpse of a man.
"It is Mr. Quatremain, the minor canon," she said, retiring.
"It is," returned Solomon Eagle, "and it will be supposed that he died
of the plague. But his end was accelerated by Judith Malmayns."
Without allowing her time for reply, he pursued his course, traversing
another long, narrow passage.
"Where are we?" asked Nizza, as they arrived at the foot of a spiral
"Beneath the central tower of the cathedral," replied Solomon Eagle. "I
will take you to a cell known only to myself, where this youth will be
in perfect safety."
Ascending the staircase, they passed through an arched door, and entered
the great northern ambulatory. Nizza gazed down for a moment into the
nave, but all was buried in darkness, and no sound reached her to give
her an idea that any one was below. Proceeding towards the west, Solomon
Eagle arrived at a small recess in the wall opposite one of the
broad-arched openings looking into the nave, and entering it, pressed
against a spring at the further extremity, and a stone door flying open,
discovered a secret cell, on the floor of which his brazier was burning.
Depositing his burden on the floor, he said to Nizza, "He is now safe.
Go in search of proper assistance, and I will watch by him till you
Nizza did not require a second exhortation, but quitting the cell, and
noticing its situation, swiftly descended the winding staircase, and
hurrying along the northern aisle, proceeded to a small chamber beneath
the tower at its western extremity, which she knew was occupied by one
of the vergers. Speedily arousing him, she told him her errand, and
implored him to remain on the watch till she returned with Doctor
Hodges. The verger promised compliance; and, opening a wicket in the
great doorway, allowed her to go forth. A few seconds brought her to the
doctor's dwelling, and though it was an hour after midnight, her summons
was promptly answered by the old porter, who conveyed her message to his
master. Doctor Hodges had just retired to rest; but, on learning in
whose behalf his services were required, he sprang out of bed, and
hastily slipped on his clothes.
"I would not, for half I am worth, that that poor youth should perish,"
he cried. "I take a great interest in him--a very great interest. He
must not be neglected. How comes he at Saint Paul's, I wonder? But I can
obtain information on that point as I go thither. No time must be lost."
Ruminating thus, he swallowed a glass of sack, and providing himself
with a case of instruments, and such medicines as he thought he might
require, he descended to Nizza. On the way to the cathedral, she
acquainted him with what had befallen Leonard during the last
four-and-twenty hours, and the only circumstance that she kept back was
Judith's attempt on his life. This she intended to reveal at a more
fitting opportunity. The doctor expressed somewhat emphatically his
disapproval of the conduct of Mr. Bloundel, but promised to set all to
rights without loss of time.
"The only difficulty I foresee," he observed, "is that the poor youth is
attacked by the pestilence; and though I may succeed in curing him, his
master will probably have shut up his house before I can accomplish my
object, in which case, all chance of his union with Amabel will be at an
"So much the better," rejoined Nizza, sharply; "she does not deserve
"There I agree with you," returned Hodges. "But could you point out any
one who does?" he added, with a slight but significant laugh.
No answer was returned; and as they had just reached the portico of the
cathedral, they entered the sacred structure in silence.
As they ascended the winding stairs, loud outcries resounded along the
ambulatory, and echoed by the vaulted roof of the nave, convinced them
that the sufferer was again in a state of frenzy, produced by fever and
the anguish of his sore; and on reaching the cell they found him
struggling violently with Solomon Eagle, who held him down by main
"He is in a fearfully excited state, truly," observed Hodges, as he drew
near, "and must not be left for a moment, or he will do himself a
mischief. I must give him a draught to allay the fever, and compose his
nerves--for in this state I dare not have recourse to the lancet."
With this he dressed the tumour; and pouring the contents of a large
phial which he had brought with him in a cup, he held it to the burning
lips of the apprentice, who eagerly quaffed it. It was soon apparent
that the dose produced a salutary effect, and a second was administered.
Still the sufferer, though calmer, continued to ramble as
before--complained that his veins were filled with molten
lead--entreated them to plunge him in a stream, so that he might cool
his intolerable thirst, and appeared to be in great agony. Doctor Hodges
watched by him till daybreak, at which time he sank into a slumber; and
Solomon Eagle, who had never till then relinquished his hold of him, now
ventured to resign his post. The doctor was then about to depart; but at
the urgent solicitation of Nizza, who had stationed herself at the door
of the cell, he agreed to remain a little longer.
Two hours after this, the doors of the cathedral were opened, and a
large crowd soon assembled within the nave, as on the preceding day. The
tumult of voices reached the cell and awakened the sleeper. Before he
could be prevented he started from his bed, and dashing aside the feeble
opposition offered by Nizza and the doctor, ran along the ambulatory,
uttering a loud and fearful cry. Finding the door of the winding
staircase open, he darted through it, and in a few seconds reappeared in
the aisle. Hearing the cries, several persons rushed to meet him; but on
beholding his haggard looks and strange appearance--he was merely
wrapped in a blanket,--they instantly recoiled. Mean-time, Doctor
Hodges, who had run to one of the arched openings looking on the nave,
called out to them to secure the fugitive. But all fled at his approach;
and when he reached the door of the southern transept, the verger,
instead of attempting to stop him, retreated with a cry of alarm. As he
passed through the outlet, one man bolder than the rest caught hold of
him, and endeavoured to detain him. But, leaving the blanket in his
hands, and without other covering than his shirt, the apprentice dashed
across the churchyard--next shaped his course down Saint
Bennet's-hill--then crossed Thames-street,--and finally speeding along
another narrow thoroughfare, reached Paul's Wharf. Gazing for a moment
at the current sweeping past him--it was high-tide,--he plunged head
foremost into it from the high embankment, and on rising to the surface,
being a strong and expert swimmer, struck out for the opposite shore.
Those who beheld him were filled with amazement; but such was the alarm
occasioned by his appearance, that none ventured to interfere with him.
He had not crossed more than a fourth part of the stream when Doctor
Hodges arrived at the wharf; but neither promises of reward nor threats
could induce any of the watermen to follow him. The humane physician
would have sprung into a boat, but feeling he should be wholly unable to
manage it, he most reluctantly abandoned his purpose. Scarcely doubting
what the result of this rash attempt would be, and yet unable to tear
himself away, he lingered on the wharf till he saw Leonard reach the
opposite bank, where an attempt was made by a party of persons to seize
him. But instead of quietly surrendering himself, the apprentice
instantly leapt into the river again, and began to swim back towards the
point whence he had started. Amazed at what he saw, the doctor ordered
his servant, who by this time had joined the group, to bring a blanket,
and descending to the edge of the river, awaited the swimmer's arrival.
In less than ten minutes he had reached the shore, and clambering on the
bank, fell from exhaustion.
"This is a violent effort of nature, which has accomplished more than
science or skill could do," said Hodges, as he gazed on the body, and
saw that the pestilential tumour had wholly disappeared--"he is
completely cured of the plague."
And throwing the blanket over him, he ordered him to be conveyed to his
THE PEST-HOUSE IN FINSBURY FIELDS.
Not a word passed between the grocer and his daughter, as he took her
home from Saint Paul's. Amabel, in fact, was so overpowered by
conflicting emotions that she could not speak; while her father, who
could not help reproaching himself for the harshness he had displayed
towards Leonard Holt, felt no disposition to break silence. They found
Mrs. Bloundel at the shop-door, drowned in tears, and almost in a state
of distraction. On seeing them, she rushed towards her daughter, and
straining her to her bosom, gave free vent to the impulses of her
affection. Allowing the first transports of joy to subside, Mr. Bloundel
begged, her to retire to her own room with Amabel, and not to leave it
till they had both regained their composure, when he wished to have some
serious conversation with them.
His request complied with, the grocer then retraced his steps to the
cathedral with the intention of seeking an explanation from Leonard,
and, if he saw occasion to do so, of revoking his severe mandate. But
long before he reached the southern transept, the apprentice had
disappeared, nor could he learn what had become of him. While anxiously
pursuing his search among the crowd, and addressing inquiries to all
whom he thought likely to afford him information, he perceived a man
pushing his way towards him. As this person drew near, he recognised
Pillichody, and would have got out of his way had it been possible.
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