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Title: Jack Sheppard
       A Romance
Author: William Harrison Ainsworth



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corrected in this etext. If they are not obvious errors, they are left as
in the original.

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---------------------------------

English Library

_VOL. XII_

JACK SHEPPARD A Romance

BY W. Harrison Ainsworth

Internationale Bibliothek G M B H Berlin

1922

"Upon my word, friend," said I, "you have almost made me long to try
what a robber I should make." "There is a great art in it, if you did,"
quoth he. "Ah! but," said I, "there's a great deal in being hanged."

_Life and Actions of Guzman d'Alfarache._

Printed In Germany

CONTENTS.

EPOCH THE FIRST, 1703.
JONATHAN WILD.

CHAPTER I. The Widow and her Child             1
       II. The Old Mint                       13
      III. The Master of the Mint             28
       IV. The Roof and the Window            34
        V. The Denunciation                   42
       VI. The Storm                          51
      VII. Old London Bridge                  63


EPOCH THE SECOND, 1715.
THAMES DARRELL.

CHAPTER I. The Idle Apprentice                75
       II. Thames Darrell                     88
      III. The Jacobite                       95
       IV. Mr. Kneebone and his Friends       99
        V. Hawk and Buzzard                  103
       VI. The first Step towards the Ladder 119
      VII. Brother and Sister                131
     VIII. Miching Mallecho                  135
       IX. Consequences of the Theft         147
        X. Mother and Son                    154
       XI. The Mohocks                       160
      XII. Saint Giles's Round-house         167
     XIII. The Magdalene                     177
      XIV. The Flash Ken                     191
       XV. The Robbery in Willesden Church   198
      XVI. Jonathan Wild's House in the Old  201
              Bailey
     XVII. The Night-Cellar                  211
    XVIII. How Jack Sheppard broke out of    218
              the Cage at Willesden
      XIX. Good and Evil                     224


EPOCH THE THIRD, 1724.
THE PRISON-BREAKER.

CHAPTER I. The Return                        231
       II. The Burglary at Dollis Hill       249
      III. Jack Sheppard's Quarrel with      254
              Jonathan Wild
       IV. Jack Sheppard's Escape from the   258
              New Prison
        V. The Disguise                      261
       VI. Winifred receives two Proposals   278
      VII. Jack Sheppard warns Thames        284
              Darrell
     VIII. Old Bedlam                        291
       IX. Old Newgate                       302
        X. How Jack Sheppard got out of the  310
              Condemned Hold
       XI. Dollis Hill revisited             324
      XII. The Well Hole                     336
     XIII. The Supper at Mr. Kneebone's      346
      XIV. How Jack Sheppard was again       367
              captured
       XV. How Blueskin underwent the Peine  377
              Forte et Dure
      XVI. How Jack Sheppard's Portrait was  385
              painted
     XVII. The Iron Bar                      397
    XVIII. The Bed Room                      400
      XIX. The Chapel                        401
       XX. The Leads                         405
      XXI. What befell Jack Sheppard in the  408
              Turner's House
     XXII. Fast and Loose                    415
    XXIII. The last Meeting between Jack     419
              Sheppard and his Mother
     XXIV. The Pursuit                       425
      XXV. How Jack Sheppard got rid of his  429
              Irons
     XXVI. How Jack Sheppard attended his    435
              Mother's Funeral
    XXVII. How Jack Sheppard was brought     441
              back to Newgate
   XXVIII. What happened at Dollis Hill      449
     XXIX. How Jack Sheppard was taken to    454
              Westminster Hall
      XXX. How Jonathan Wild's House was     458
              burnt down
     XXXI. The Procession to Tyburn          462
    XXXII. The Closing Scene                 472




EPOCH THE FIRST.

1703.

JONATHAN WILD.






JACK SHEPPARD.




CHAPTER I.

The Widow and her Child.


On the night of Friday, the 26th of November, 1703, and at the hour of
eleven, the door of a miserable habitation, situated in an obscure
quarter of the Borough of Southwark, known as the Old Mint, was opened;
and a man, with a lantern in his hand, appeared at the threshold. This
person, whose age might be about forty, was attired in a brown
double-breasted frieze coat, with very wide skirts, and a very narrow
collar; a light drugget waistcoat, with pockets reaching to the knees;
black plush breeches; grey worsted hose; and shoes with round toes,
wooden heels, and high quarters, fastened by small silver buckles. He
wore a three-cornered hat, a sandy-coloured scratch wig, and had a thick
woollen wrapper folded round his throat. His clothes had evidently seen
some service, and were plentifully begrimed with the dust of the
workshop. Still he had a decent look, and decidedly the air of one
well-to-do in the world. In stature, he was short and stumpy; in person,
corpulent; and in countenance, sleek, snub-nosed, and demure.

Immediately behind this individual, came a pale, poverty-stricken woman,
whose forlorn aspect contrasted strongly with his plump and comfortable
physiognomy. She was dressed in a tattered black stuff gown, discoloured
by various stains, and intended, it would seem, from the remnants of
rusty crape with which it was here and there tricked out, to represent
the garb of widowhood, and held in her arms a sleeping infant, swathed
in the folds of a linsey-woolsey shawl.

Notwithstanding her emaciation, her features still retained something
of a pleasing expression, and might have been termed beautiful, had it
not been for that repulsive freshness of lip denoting the habitual
dram-drinker; a freshness in her case rendered the more shocking from
the almost livid hue of the rest of her complexion. She could not be
more than twenty; and though want and other suffering had done the work
of time, had wasted her frame, and robbed her cheek of its bloom and
roundness, they had not extinguished the lustre of her eyes, nor thinned
her raven hair. Checking an ominous cough, that, ever and anon,
convulsed her lungs, the poor woman addressed a few parting words to her
companion, who lingered at the doorway as if he had something on his
mind, which he did not very well know how to communicate.

"Well, good night, Mr. Wood," said she, in the deep, hoarse accents of
consumption; "and may God Almighty bless and reward you for your
kindness! You were always the best of masters to my poor husband; and
now you've proved the best of friends to his widow and orphan boy."

"Poh! poh! say no more about it," rejoined the man hastily. "I've done
no more than my duty, Mrs. Sheppard, and neither deserve nor desire your
thanks. 'Whoso giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord;' that's my
comfort. And such slight relief as I can afford should have been offered
earlier, if I'd known where you'd taken refuge after your unfortunate
husband's--"

"Execution, you would say, Sir," added Mrs. Sheppard, with a deep sigh,
perceiving that her benefactor hesitated to pronounce the word. "You
show more consideration to the feelings of a hempen widow, than there is
any need to show. I'm used to insult as I am to misfortune, and am grown
callous to both; but I'm _not_ used to compassion, and know not how to
take it. My heart would speak if it could, for it is very full. There
was a time, long, long ago, when the tears would have rushed to my eyes
unbidden at the bare mention of generosity like yours, Mr. Wood; but
they never come now. I have never wept since that day."

"And I trust you will never have occasion to weep again, my poor soul,"
replied Wood, setting down his lantern, and brushing a few drops from
his eyes, "unless it be tears of joy. Pshaw!" added he, making an effort
to subdue his emotion, "I can't leave you in this way. I must stay a
minute longer, if only to see you smile."

So saying, he re-entered the house, closed the door, and, followed by
the widow, proceeded to the fire-place, where a handful of chips,
apparently just lighted, crackled within the rusty grate.

The room in which this interview took place had a sordid and miserable
look. Rotten, and covered with a thick coat of dirt, the boards of the
floor presented a very insecure footing; the bare walls were scored all
over with grotesque designs, the chief of which represented the
punishment of Nebuchadnezzar. The rest were hieroglyphic characters,
executed in red chalk and charcoal. The ceiling had, in many places,
given way; the laths had been removed; and, where any plaster remained,
it was either mapped and blistered with damps, or festooned with dusty
cobwebs. Over an old crazy bedstead was thrown a squalid, patchwork
counterpane; and upon the counterpane lay a black hood and scarf, a pair
of bodice of the cumbrous form in vogue at the beginning of the last
century, and some other articles of female attire. On a small shelf near
the foot of the bed stood a couple of empty phials, a cracked ewer and
basin, a brown jug without a handle, a small tin coffee-pot without a
spout, a saucer of rouge, a fragment of looking-glass, and a flask,
labelled "_Rosa Solis_." Broken pipes littered the floor, if that can be
said to be littered, which, in the first instance, was a mass of squalor
and filth.

Over the chimney-piece was pasted a handbill, purporting to be "_The
last Dying Speech and Confession of_ TOM SHEPPARD, _the Notorious
Housebreaker, who suffered at Tyburn on the 25th of February, 1703._"
This placard was adorned with a rude wood-cut, representing the unhappy
malefactor at the place of execution. On one side of the handbill a
print of the reigning sovereign, Anne, had been pinned over the portrait
of William the Third, whose aquiline nose, keen eyes, and luxuriant wig,
were just visible above the diadem of the queen. On the other a wretched
engraving of the Chevalier de Saint George, or, as he was styled in the
label attached to the portrait, James the Third, raised a suspicion that
the inmate of the house was not altogether free from some tincture of
Jacobitism.

Beneath these prints, a cluster of hobnails, driven into the wall,
formed certain letters, which, if properly deciphered, produced the
words, "_Paul Groves, cobler;_" and under the name, traced in charcoal,
appeared the following record of the poor fellow's fate, "_Hung himsel
in this rum for luv off licker;_" accompanied by a graphic sketch of the
unhappy suicide dangling from a beam. A farthing candle, stuck in a
bottle neck, shed its feeble light upon the table, which, owing to the
provident kindness of Mr. Wood, was much better furnished with eatables
than might have been expected, and boasted a loaf, a knuckle of ham, a
meat-pie, and a flask of wine.

"You've but a sorry lodging, Mrs. Sheppard," said Wood, glancing round
the chamber, as he expanded his palms before the scanty flame.

"It's wretched enough, indeed, Sir," rejoined the widow; "but, poor as
it is, it's better than the cold stones and open streets."

"Of course--of course," returned Wood, hastily; "anything's better than
that. But take a drop of wine," urged he, filling a drinking-horn and
presenting it to her; "it's choice canary, and'll do you good. And now,
come and sit by me, my dear, and let's have a little quiet chat
together. When things are at the worst, they'll mend. Take my word for
it, your troubles are over."

"I hope they are, Sir," answered Mrs. Sheppard, with a faint smile and a
doubtful shake of the head, as Wood drew her to a seat beside him, "for
I've had my full share of misery. But I don't look for peace on this
side the grave."

"Nonsense!" cried Wood; "while there's life there's hope. Never be
down-hearted. Besides," added he, opening the shawl in which the infant
was wrapped, and throwing the light of the candle full upon its sickly,
but placid features, "it's sinful to repine while you've a child like
this to comfort you. Lord help him! he's the very image of his father.
Like carpenter, like chips."

"That likeness is the chief cause of my misery," replied the widow,
shuddering. "Were it not for that, he would indeed be a blessing and a
comfort to me. He never cries nor frets, as children generally do, but
lies at my bosom, or on my knee, as quiet and as gentle as you see him
now. But, when I look upon his innocent face, and see how like he is to
his father,--when I think of that father's shameful ending, and
recollect how free from guilt _he_ once was,--at such times, Mr. Wood,
despair will come over me; and, dear as this babe is to me, far dearer
than my own wretched life, which I would lay down for him any minute, I
have prayed to Heaven to remove him, rather than he should grow up to be
a man, and be exposed to his father's temptations--rather than he should
live as wickedly and die as disgracefully as his father. And, when I
have seen him pining away before my eyes, getting thinner and thinner
every day, I have sometimes thought my prayers were heard."

"Marriage and hanging go by destiny," observed Wood, after a pause; "but
I trust your child is reserved for a better fate than either, Mrs.
Sheppard."

The latter part of this speech was delivered with so much significance
of manner, that a bystander might have inferred that Mr. Wood was not
particularly fortunate in his own matrimonial connections.

"Goodness only knows what he's reserved for," rejoined the widow in a
desponding tone; "but if Mynheer Van Galgebrok, whom I met last night at
the Cross Shovels, spoke the truth, little Jack will never die in his
bed."

"Save us!" exclaimed Wood. "And who is this Van Gal--Gal--what's his
outlandish name?"

"Van Galgebrok," replied the widow. "He's the famous Dutch conjuror who
foretold King William's accident and death, last February but one, a
month before either event happened, and gave out that another prince
over the water would soon enjoy his own again; for which he was
committed to Newgate, and whipped at the cart's tail. He went by another
name then,--Rykhart Scherprechter I think he called himself. His
fellow-prisoners nicknamed him the gallows-provider, from a habit he had
of picking out all those who were destined to the gibbet. He was never
known to err, and was as much dreaded as the jail-fever in consequence.
He singled out my poor husband from a crowd of other felons; and you
know how right he was in that case, Sir."

"Ay, marry," replied Wood, with a look that seemed to say that he did
not think it required any surprising skill in the art of divination to
predict the doom of the individual in question; but whatever opinion he
might entertain, he contented himself with inquiring into the grounds of
the conjuror's evil augury respecting the infant. "What did the old
fellow judge from, eh, Joan?" asked he.

"From a black mole under the child's right ear, shaped like a coffin,
which is a bad sign; and a deep line just above the middle of the left
thumb, meeting round about in the form of a noose, which is a worse,"
replied Mrs. Sheppard. "To be sure, it's not surprising the poor little
thing should be so marked; for, when I lay in the women-felons' ward in
Newgate, where he first saw the light, or at least such light as ever
finds entrance into that gloomy place, I had nothing, whether sleeping
or waking, but halters, and gibbets, and coffins, and such like horrible
visions, for ever dancing round me! And then, you know, Sir--but,
perhaps, you don't know that little Jack was born, a month before his
time, on the very day his poor father suffered."

"Lord bless us!" ejaculated Wood, "how shocking! No, I did _not_ know
that."

"You may see the marks on the child yourself, if you choose, Sir,"
urged the widow.

"See the devil!--not I," cried Wood impatiently. "I didn't think you'd
been so easily fooled, Joan."

"Fooled or not," returned Mrs. Sheppard mysteriously, "old Van told me
_one_ thing which has come true already."

"What's that?" asked Wood with some curiosity.

"He said, by way of comfort, I suppose, after the fright he gave me at
first, that the child would find a friend within twenty-four hours, who
would stand by him through life."

"A friend is not so soon gained as lost," replied Wood; "but how has the
prediction been fulfilled, Joan, eh?"

"I thought you would have guessed, Sir," replied the widow, timidly.
"I'm sure little Jack has but one friend beside myself, in the world,
and that's more than I would have ventured to say for him yesterday.
However, I've not told you all; for old Van _did_ say something about
the child saving his new-found friend's life at the time of meeting; but
how that's to happen, I'm sure I can't guess."

"Nor any one else in his senses," rejoined Wood, with a laugh. "It's not
very likely that a babby of nine months old will save _my_ life, if I'm
to be his friend, as you seem to say, Mrs. Sheppard. But I've not
promised to stand by him yet; nor will I, unless he turns out an honest
lad,--mind that. Of all crafts,--and it was the only craft his poor
father, who, to do him justice, was one of the best workmen that ever
handled a saw or drove a nail, could never understand,--of all crafts, I
say, to be an honest man is the master-craft. As long as your son
observes that precept I'll befriend him, but no longer."

"I don't desire it, Sir," replied Mrs. Sheppard, meekly.

"There's an old proverb," continued Wood, rising and walking towards the
fire, "which says,--'Put another man's child in your bosom, and he'll
creep out at your elbow.' But I don't value that, because I think it
applies to one who marries a widow with encumbrances; and that's not my
case, you know."

"Well, Sir," gasped Mrs. Sheppard.

"Well, my dear, I've a proposal to make in regard to this babby of
yours, which may, or may not, be agreeable. All I can say is, it's well
meant; and I may add, I'd have made it five minutes ago, if you'd given
me the opportunity."

"Pray come to the point, Sir," said Mrs. Sheppard, somewhat alarmed by
this preamble.

"I _am_ coming to the point, Joan. The more haste, the worse
speed--better the feet slip than the tongue. However, to cut a long
matter short, my proposal's this:--I've taken a fancy to your bantling,
and, as I've no son of my own, if it meets with your concurrence and
that of Mrs. Wood, (for I never do anything without consulting my better
half,) I'll take the boy, educate him, and bring him up to my own
business of a carpenter."

The poor widow hung her head, and pressed her child closer to her
breast.

"Well, Joan," said the benevolent mechanic, after he had looked at her
steadfastly for a few moments, "what say you?--silence gives consent,
eh?"

Mrs. Sheppard made an effort to speak, but her voice was choked by
emotion.

"Shall I take the babby home with me!" persisted Wood, in a tone between
jest and earnest.

"I cannot part with him," replied the widow, bursting into tears;
"indeed, indeed, I cannot."

"So I've found out the way to move her," thought the carpenter; "those
tears will do her some good, at all events. Not part with him!" added he
aloud. "Why you wouldn't stand in the way of his good fortune sure_ly_?
I'll be a second father to him, I tell you. Remember what the conjuror
said."

"I _do_ remember it, Sir," replied Mrs. Sheppard, "and am most grateful
for your offer. But I dare not accept it."

"Dare not!" echoed the carpenter; "I don't understand you, Joan."

"I mean to say, Sir," answered Mrs. Sheppard in a troubled voice, "that
if I lost my child, I should lose all I have left in the world. I have
neither father, mother, brother, sister, nor husband--I have only
_him_."

"If I ask you to part with him, my good woman, it's to better his
condition, I suppose, ain't it?" rejoined Wood angrily; for, though he
had no serious intention of carrying his proposal into effect, he was
rather offended at having it declined. "It's not an offer," continued
he, "that I'm likely to make, or you're likely to receive every day in
the year."

And muttering some remarks, which we do not care to repeat, reflecting
upon the consistency of the sex, he was preparing once more to depart,
when Mrs. Sheppard stopped him.

"Give me till to-morrow," implored she, "and if I _can_ bring myself to
part with him, you shall have him without another word."

"Take time to consider of it," replied Wood sulkily, "there's no hurry."

"Don't be angry with me, Sir," cried the widow, sobbing bitterly, "pray
don't. I know I am undeserving of your bounty; but if I were to tell you
what hardships I have undergone--to what frightful extremities I have
been reduced--and to what infamy I have submitted, to earn a scanty
subsistence for this child's sake,--if you could feel what it is to
stand alone in the world as I do, bereft of all who have ever loved me,
and shunned by all who have ever known me, except the worthless and the
wretched,--if you knew (and Heaven grant you may be spared the
knowledge!) how much affliction sharpens love, and how much more dear to
me my child has become for every sacrifice I have made for him,--if you
were told all this, you would, I am sure, pity rather than reproach me,
because I cannot at once consent to a separation, which I feel would
break my heart. But give me till to-morrow--only till to-morrow--I may
be able to part with him then."

The worthy carpenter was now far more angry with himself than he had
previously been with Mrs. Sheppard; and, as soon as he could command his
feelings, which were considerably excited by the mention of her
distresses, he squeezed her hand warmly, bestowed a hearty execration
upon his own inhumanity, and swore he would neither separate her from
her child, nor suffer any one else to separate them.

"Plague on't!" added he: "I never meant to take your babby from you. But
I'd a mind to try whether you really loved him as much as you pretended.
I was to blame to carry the matter so far. However, confession of a
fault makes half amends for it. A time _may_ come when this little chap
will need my aid, and, depend upon it, he shall never want a friend in
Owen Wood."

As he said this, the carpenter patted the cheek of the little object of
his benevolent professions, and, in so doing, unintentionally aroused
him from his slumbers. Opening a pair of large black eyes, the child
fixed them for an instant upon Wood, and then, alarmed by the light,
uttered a low and melancholy cry, which, however, was speedily stilled
by the caresses of his mother, towards whom he extended his tiny arms,
as if imploring protection.

"I don't think he would leave me, even if I could part with him,"
observed Mrs. Sheppard, smiling through her tears.

"I don't think he would," acquiesced the carpenter. "No friend like the
mother, for the babby knows no other."

"And that's true," rejoined Mrs. Sheppard; "for if I had _not_ been a
mother, I would not have survived the day on which I became a widow."

"You mustn't think of that, Mrs. Sheppard," said Wood in a soothing
tone.

"I can't help thinking of it, Sir," answered the widow. "I can never get
poor Tom's last look out of my head, as he stood in the Stone-Hall at
Newgate, after his irons had been knocked off, unless I manage to
stupify myself somehow. The dismal tolling of St. Sepulchre's bell is
for ever ringing in my ears--oh!"

"If that's the case," observed Wood, "I'm surprised you should like to
have such a frightful picture constantly in view as that over the
chimney-piece."

"I'd good reasons for placing it there, Sir; but don't question me
about them now, or you'll drive me mad," returned Mrs. Sheppard wildly.

"Well, well, we'll say no more about it," replied Wood; "and, by way of
changing the subject, let me advise you on no account to fly to strong
waters for consolation, Joan. One nail drives out another, it's true;
but the worst nail you can employ is a coffin-nail. Gin Lane's the
nearest road to the churchyard."

"It may be; but if it shortens the distance and lightens the journey, I
care not," retorted the widow, who seemed by this reproach to be roused
into sudden eloquence. "To those who, like me, have never been able to
get out of the dark and dreary paths of life, the grave is indeed a
refuge, and the sooner they reach it the better. The spirit I drink may
be poison,--it may kill me,--perhaps it _is_ killing me:--but so would
hunger, cold, misery,--so would my own thoughts. I should have gone mad
without it. Gin is the poor man's friend,--his sole set-off against the
rich man's luxury. It comforts him when he is most forlorn. It may be
treacherous, it may lay up a store of future woe; but it insures present
happiness, and that is sufficient. When I have traversed the streets a
houseless wanderer, driven with curses from every door where I have
solicited alms, and with blows from every gateway where I have sought
shelter,--when I have crept into some deserted building, and stretched
my wearied limbs upon a bulk, in the vain hope of repose,--or, worse
than all, when, frenzied with want, I have yielded to horrible
temptation, and earned a meal in the only way I could earn one,--when I
have felt, at times like these, my heart sink within me, I have drank of
this drink, and have at once forgotten my cares, my poverty, my guilt.
Old thoughts, old feelings, old faces, and old scenes have returned to
me, and I have fancied myself happy,--as happy as I am now." And she
burst into a wild hysterical laugh.

"Poor creature!" ejaculated Wood. "Do you call this frantic glee
happiness?"

"It's all the happiness I have known for years," returned the widow,
becoming suddenly calm, "and it's short-lived enough, as you perceive. I
tell you what, Mr. Wood," added she in a hollow voice, and with a
ghastly look, "gin may bring ruin; but as long as poverty, vice, and
ill-usage exist, it will be drunk."

"God forbid!" exclaimed Wood, fervently; and, as if afraid of prolonging
the interview, he added, with some precipitation, "But I must be going:
I've stayed here too long already. You shall hear from me to-morrow."

"Stay!" said Mrs. Sheppard, again arresting his departure. "I've just
recollected that my husband left a key with me, which he charged me to
give you when I could find an opportunity."

"A key!" exclaimed Wood eagerly. "I lost a very valuable one some time
ago. What's it like, Joan?"

"It's a small key, with curiously-fashioned wards."

"It's mine, I'll be sworn," rejoined Wood. "Well, who'd have thought of
finding it in this unexpected way!"

"Don't be too sure till you see it," said the widow. "Shall I fetch it
for you, Sir?"

"By all means."

"I must trouble you to hold the child, then, for a minute, while I run
up to the garret, where I've hidden it for safety," said Mrs. Sheppard.
"I think I _may_ trust him with you, Sir," added she, taking up the
candle.

"Don't leave him, if you're at all fearful, my dear," replied Wood,
receiving the little burthen with a laugh. "Poor thing!" muttered he, as
the widow departed on her errand, "she's seen better days and better
circumstances than she'll ever see again, I'm sure. Strange, I could
never learn her history. Tom Sheppard was always a close file, and would
never tell whom he married. Of this I'm certain, however, she was much
too good for him, and was never meant to be a journeyman carpenter's
wife, still less what is she now. Her heart's in the right place, at all
events; and, since that's the case, the rest may perhaps come
round,--that is, if she gets through her present illness. A dry cough's
the trumpeter of death. If that's true, she's not long for this world.
As to this little fellow, in spite of the Dutchman, who, in my opinion,
is more of a Jacobite than a conjurer, and more of a knave than either,
he shall never mount a horse foaled by an acorn, if I can help it."

The course of the carpenter's meditations was here interrupted by a loud
note of lamentation from the child, who, disturbed by the transfer, and
not receiving the gentle solace to which he was ordinarily accustomed,
raised his voice to the utmost, and exerted his feeble strength to
escape. For a few moments Mr. Wood dandled his little charge to and fro,
after the most approved nursery fashion, essaying at the same time the
soothing influence of an infantine melody proper to the occasion; but,
failing in his design, he soon lost all patience, and being, as we have
before hinted, rather irritable, though extremely well-meaning, he
lifted the unhappy bantling in the air, and shook him with so much good
will, that he had well-nigh silenced him most effectually. A brief calm
succeeded. But with returning breath came returning vociferations; and
the carpenter, with a faint hope of lessening the clamour by change of
scene, took up his lantern, opened the door, and walked out.




CHAPTER II.

The Old Mint.


Mrs. Sheppard's habitation terminated a row of old ruinous buildings,
called Wheeler's Rents; a dirty thoroughfare, part street, and part
lane, running from Mint Street, through a variety of turnings, and along
the brink of a deep kennel, skirted by a number of petty and neglected
gardens in the direction of Saint George's Fields. The neighbouring
houses were tenanted by the lowest order of insolvent traders, thieves,
mendicants, and other worthless and nefarious characters, who fled
thither to escape from their creditors, or to avoid the punishment due
to their different offenses; for we may observe that the Old Mint,
although it had been divested of some of its privileges as a sanctuary
by a recent statute passed in the reign of William the Third, still
presented a safe asylum to the debtor, and even continued to do so until
the middle of the reign of George the First, when the crying nature of
the evil called loudly for a remedy, and another and more sweeping
enactment entirely took away its immunities. In consequence of the
encouragement thus offered to dishonesty, and the security afforded to
crime, this quarter of the Borough of Southwark was accounted (at the
period of our narrative) the grand receptacle of the superfluous
villainy of the metropolis. Infested by every description of vagabond
and miscreant, it was, perhaps, a few degrees worse than the rookery
near Saint Giles's and the desperate neighbourhood of Saffron Hill in
our own time. And yet, on the very site of the sordid tenements and
squalid courts we have mentioned, where the felon openly made his
dwelling, and the fraudulent debtor laughed the object of his knavery to
scorn--on this spot, not two centuries ago, stood the princely residence
of Charles Brandon, the chivalrous Duke of Suffolk, whose stout heart
was a well of honour, and whose memory breathes of loyalty and valour.
Suffolk House, as Brandon's palace was denominated, was subsequently
converted into a mint by his royal brother-in-law, Henry the Eighth;
and, after its demolition, and the removal of the place of coinage to
the Tower, the name was still continued to the district in which it had
been situated.

Old and dilapidated, the widow's domicile looked the very picture of
desolation and misery. Nothing more forlorn could be conceived. The roof
was partially untiled; the chimneys were tottering; the side-walls
bulged, and were supported by a piece of timber propped against the
opposite house; the glass in most of the windows was broken, and its
place supplied with paper; while, in some cases, the very frames of the
windows had been destroyed, and the apertures were left free to the airs
of heaven. On the groundfloor the shutters were closed, or, to speak
more correctly, altogether nailed up, and presented a very singular
appearance, being patched all over with the soles of old shoes, rusty
hobnails, and bits of iron hoops, the ingenious device of the former
occupant of the apartment, Paul Groves, the cobbler, to whom we have
before alluded.

It was owing to the untimely end of this poor fellow that Mrs. Sheppard
was enabled to take possession of the premises. In a fit of despondency,
superinduced by drunkenness, he made away with himself; and when the
body was discovered, after a lapse of some months, such was the
impression produced by the spectacle--such the alarm occasioned by the
crazy state of the building, and, above all, by the terror inspired by
strange and unearthly noises heard during the night, which were, of
course, attributed to the spirit of the suicide, that the place speedily
enjoyed the reputation of being haunted, and was, consequently, entirely
abandoned. In this state Mrs. Sheppard found it; and, as no one opposed
her, she at once took up her abode there; nor was she long in
discovering that the dreaded sounds proceeded from the nocturnal gambols
of a legion of rats.

A narrow entry, formed by two low walls, communicated with the main
thoroughfare; and in this passage, under the cover of a penthouse, stood
Wood, with his little burthen, to whom we shall now return.

As Mrs. Sheppard did not make her appearance quite so soon as he
expected, the carpenter became a little fidgetty, and, having succeeded
in tranquillizing the child, he thought proper to walk so far down the
entry as would enable him to reconnoitre the upper windows of the house.
A light was visible in the garret, feebly struggling through the damp
atmosphere, for the night was raw and overcast. This light did not
remain stationary, but could be seen at one moment glimmering through
the rents in the roof, and at another shining through the cracks in the
wall, or the broken panes of the casement. Wood was unable to discover
the figure of the widow, but he recognised her dry, hacking cough, and
was about to call her down, if she could not find the key, as he
imagined must be the case, when a loud noise was heard, as though a
chest, or some weighty substance, had fallen upon the floor.

Before Wood had time to inquire into the cause of this sound, his
attention was diverted by a man, who rushed past the entry with the
swiftness of desperation. This individual apparently met with some
impediment to his further progress; for he had not proceeded many steps
when he turned suddenly about, and darted up the passage in which Wood
stood.

Uttering a few inarticulate ejaculations,--for he was completely out of
breath,--the fugitive placed a bundle in the arms of the carpenter, and,
regardless of the consternation he excited in the breast of that
personage, who was almost stupified with astonishment, he began to
divest himself of a heavy horseman's cloak, which he threw over Wood's
shoulder, and, drawing his sword, seemed to listen intently for the
approach of his pursuers.

The appearance of the new-comer was extremely prepossessing; and, after
his trepidation had a little subsided, Wood began to regard him with
some degree of interest. Evidently in the flower of his age, he was
scarcely less remarkable for symmetry of person than for comeliness of
feature; and, though his attire was plain and unpretending, it was such
as could be worn only by one belonging to the higher ranks of society.
His figure was tall and commanding, and the expression of his
countenance (though somewhat disturbed by his recent exertion) was
resolute and stern.

At this juncture, a cry burst from the child, who, nearly smothered by
the weight imposed upon him, only recovered the use of his lungs as Wood
altered the position of the bundle. The stranger turned his head at the
sound.

"By Heaven!" cried he in a tone of surprise, "you have an infant there?"

"To be sure I have," replied Wood, angrily; for, finding that the
intentions of the stranger were pacific, so far as he was concerned, he
thought he might safely venture on a slight display of spirit. "It's
very well you haven't crushed the poor little thing to death with this
confounded clothes'-bag. But some people have no consideration."

"That child may be the means of saving me," muttered the stranger, as if
struck by a new idea: "I shall gain time by the expedient. Do you live
here?"

"Not exactly," answered the carpenter.

"No matter. The door is open, so it is needless to ask leave to enter.
Ha!" exclaimed the stranger, as shouts and other vociferations resounded
at no great distance along the thoroughfare, "not a moment is to be
lost. Give me that precious charge," he added, snatching the bundle from
Wood. "If I escape, I will reward you. Your name?"

"Owen Wood," replied the carpenter; "I've no reason to be ashamed of it.
And now, a fair exchange, Sir. Yours?"

The stranger hesitated. The shouts drew nearer, and lights were seen
flashing ruddily against the sides and gables of the neighbouring
houses.

"My name is Darrell," said the fugitive hastily. "But, if you are
discovered, answer no questions, as you value your life. Wrap yourself
in my cloak, and keep it. Remember! not a word!"

So saying, he huddled the mantle over Wood's shoulders, dashed the
lantern to the ground, and extinguished the light. A moment afterwards,
the door was closed and bolted, and the carpenter found himself alone.

"Mercy on us!" cried he, as a thrill of apprehension ran through his
frame. "The Dutchman was right, after all."

This exclamation had scarcely escaped him, when the discharge of a
pistol was heard, and a bullet whizzed past his ears.

"I have him!" cried a voice in triumph.

A man, then, rushed up the entry, and, seizing the unlucky carpenter by
the collar, presented a drawn sword to his throat. This person was
speedily followed by half a dozen others, some of whom carried
flambeaux.

"Mur--der!" roared Wood, struggling to free himself from his assailant,
by whom he was half strangled.

"Damnation!" exclaimed one of the leaders of the party in a furious
tone, snatching a torch from an attendant, and throwing its light full
upon the face of the carpenter; "this is not the villain, Sir Cecil."

"So I find, Rowland," replied the other, in accents of deep
disappointment, and at the same time relinquishing his grasp. "I could
have sworn I saw him enter this passage. And how comes his cloak on this
knave's shoulders?"

"It is his cloak, of a surety," returned Rowland "Harkye, sirrah,"
continued he, haughtily interrogating Wood; "where is the person from
whom you received this mantle?"

"Throttling a man isn't the way to make him answer questions," replied
the carpenter, doggedly. "You'll get nothing out of me, I can promise
you, unless you show a little more civility."

"We waste time with this fellow," interposed Sir Cecil, "and may lose
the object of our quest, who, beyond doubt, has taken refuge in this
building. Let us search it."

Just then, the infant began to sob piteously.

"Hist!" cried Rowland, arresting his comrade. "Do you hear that! We are
not wholly at fault. The dog-fox cannot be far off, since the cub is
found."

With these words, he tore the mantle from Wood's back, and, perceiving
the child, endeavoured to seize it. In this attempt he was, however,
foiled by the agility of the carpenter, who managed to retreat to the
door, against which he placed his back, kicking the boards vigorously
with his heel.

"Joan! Joan!" vociferated he, "open the door, for God's sake, or I shall
be murdered, and so will your babby! Open the door quickly, I say."

"Knock him on the head," thundered Sir Cecil, "or we shall have the
watch upon us."

"No fear of that," rejoined Rowland: "such vermin never dare to show
themselves in this privileged district. All we have to apprehend is a
rescue."

The hint was not lost upon Wood. He tried to raise an outcry, but his
throat was again forcibly griped by Rowland.

"Another such attempt," said the latter, "and you are a dead man. Yield
up the babe, and I pledge my word you shall remain unmolested."

"I will yield it to no one but its mother," answered Wood.

"'Sdeath! do you trifle with me, sirrah?" cried Rowland fiercely. "Give
me the child, or--"

As he spoke the door was thrown open, and Mrs. Sheppard staggered
forward. She looked paler than ever; but her countenance, though
bewildered, did not exhibit the alarm which might naturally have been
anticipated from the strange and perplexing scene presented to her view.

"Take it," cried Wood, holding the infant towards her; "take it, and
fly."

Mrs. Sheppard put out her arms mechanically. But before the child could
be committed to her care, it was wrested from the carpenter by Rowland.

"These people are all in league with him," cried the latter. "But don't
wait for me, Sir Cecil. Enter the house with your men. I'll dispose of
the brat."

This injunction was instantly obeyed. The knight and his followers
crossed the threshold, leaving one of the torch-bearers behind them.

"Davies," said Rowland, delivering the babe, with a meaning look, to his
attendant.

"I understand, Sir," replied Davies, drawing a little aside. And,
setting down the link, he proceeded deliberately to untie his cravat.

"My God! will you see your child strangled before your eyes, and not so
much as scream for help?" said Wood, staring at the widow with a look of
surprise and horror. "Woman, your wits are fled!"

And so it seemed; for all the answer she could make was to murmur
distractedly, "I can't find the key."

"Devil take the key!" ejaculated Wood. "They're about to murder your
child--_your_ child, I tell you! Do you comprehend what I say, Joan?"

"I've hurt my head," replied Mrs. Sheppard, pressing her hand to her
temples.

And then, for the first time, Wood noticed a small stream of blood
coursing slowly down her cheek.

At this moment, Davies, who had completed his preparations, extinguished
the torch.

"It's all over," groaned Wood, "and perhaps it's as well her senses are
gone. However, I'll make a last effort to save the poor little creature,
if it costs me my life."

And, with this generous resolve, he shouted at the top of his voice,
"Arrest! arrest! help! help!" seconding the words with a shrill and
peculiar cry, well known at the time to the inhabitants of the quarter
in which it was uttered.

In reply to this summons a horn was instantly blown at the corner of the
street.

"Arrest!" vociferated Wood. "Mint! Mint!"

"Death and hell!" cried Rowland, making a furious pass at the carpenter,
who fortunately avoided the thrust in the darkness; "will nothing
silence you?"

"Help!" ejaculated Wood, renewing his cries. "Arrest!"

"Jigger closed!" shouted a hoarse voice in reply. "All's bowman, my
covey. Fear nothing. We'll be upon the ban-dogs before they can shake
their trotters!"

And the alarm was sounded more loudly than ever.

Another horn now resounded from the further extremity of the
thoroughfare; this was answered by a third; and presently a fourth, and
more remote blast, took up the note of alarm. The whole neighbourhood
was disturbed. A garrison called to arms at dead of night on the sudden
approach of the enemy, could not have been more expeditiously, or
effectually aroused. Rattles were sprung; lanterns lighted, and hoisted
at the end of poles; windows thrown open; doors unbarred; and, as if by
magic, the street was instantaneously filled with a crowd of persons of
both sexes, armed with such weapons as came most readily to hand, and
dressed in such garments as could be most easily slipped on. Hurrying in
the direction of the supposed arrest, they encouraged each other with
shouts, and threatened the offending parties with their vengeance.

Regardless as the gentry of the Mint usually were (for, indeed, they had
become habituated from their frequent occurrence to such scenes,) of any
outrages committed in their streets; deaf, as they had been, to the
recent scuffle before Mrs. Sheppard's door, they were always
sufficiently on the alert to maintain their privileges, and to assist
each other against the attacks of their common enemy--the sheriff's
officer. It was only by the adoption of such a course (especially since
the late act of suppression, to which we have alluded,) that the
inviolability of the asylum could be preserved. Incursions were often
made upon its territories by the functionaries of the law; sometimes
attended with success, but more frequently with discomfiture; and it
rarely happened, unless by stratagem or bribery, that (in the language
of the gentlemen of the short staff) an important caption could be
effected. In order to guard against accidents or surprises, watchmen, or
scouts, (as they were styled,) were stationed at the three main outlets
of the sanctuary ready to give the signal in the manner just described:
bars were erected, which, in case of emergency; could be immediately
stretched across the streets: doors were attached to the alleys; and
were never opened without due precautions; gates were affixed to the
courts, wickets to the gates, and bolts to the wickets. The back windows
of the houses (where any such existed) were strongly barricaded, and
kept constantly shut; and the fortress was, furthermore, defended by
high walls and deep ditches in those quarters where it appeared most
exposed. There was also a Maze, (the name is still retained in the
district,) into which the debtor could run, and through the intricacies
of which it was impossible for an officer to follow him, without a
clue. Whoever chose to incur the risk of so doing might enter the Mint
at any hour; but no one was suffered to depart without giving a
satisfactory account of himself, or producing a pass from the Master. In
short, every contrivance that ingenuity could devise was resorted to by
this horde of reprobates to secure themselves from danger or
molestation. Whitefriars had lost its privileges; Salisbury Court and
the Savoy no longer offered places of refuge to the debtor; and it was,
therefore, doubly requisite that the Island of Bermuda (as the Mint was
termed by its occupants) should uphold its rights, as long as it was
able to do so.

Mr. Wood, meantime, had not remained idle. Aware that not a moment was
to be lost, if he meant to render any effectual assistance to the child,
he ceased shouting, and defending himself in the best way he could from
the attacks of Rowland, by whom he was closely pressed, forced his way,
in spite of all opposition, to Davies, and dealt him a blow on the head
with such good will that, had it not been for the intervention of the
wall, the ruffian must have been prostrated. Before he could recover
from the stunning effects of the blow, Wood possessed himself of the
child: and, untying the noose which had been slipped round its throat,
had the satisfaction of hearing it cry lustily.

At this juncture, Sir Cecil and his followers appeared at the threshold.

"He has escaped!" exclaimed the knight; "we have searched every corner
of the house without finding a trace of him."

"Back!" cried Rowland. "Don't you hear those shouts? Yon fellow's
clamour has brought the whole horde of jail-birds and cut-throats that
infest this place about our ears. We shall be torn in pieces if we are
discovered. Davies!" he added, calling to the attendant, who was
menacing Wood with a severe retaliation, "don't heed him; but, if you
value a whole skin, come into the house, and bring that woman with you.
She may afford us some necessary information."

Davies reluctantly complied. And, dragging Mrs. Sheppard, who made no
resistance, along with him, entered the house, the door of which was
instantly shut and barricaded.

A moment afterwards, the street was illumined by a blaze of torchlight,
and a tumultuous uproar, mixed with the clashing of weapons, and the
braying of horns, announced the arrival of the first detachment of
Minters.

Mr. Wood rushed instantly to meet them.

"Hurrah!" shouted he, waving his hat triumphantly over his head.
"Saved!"

"Ay, ay, it's all bob, my covey! You're safe enough, that's certain!"
responded the Minters, baying, yelping, leaping, and howling around him
like a pack of hounds when the huntsman is beating cover; "but, where
are the lurchers?"

"Who?" asked Wood.

"The traps!" responded a bystander.

"The shoulder-clappers!" added a lady, who, in her anxiety to join the
party, had unintentionally substituted her husband's nether habiliments
for her own petticoats.

"The ban-dogs!" thundered a tall man, whose stature and former
avocations had procured him the nickname of "The long drover of the
Borough market." "Where are they?"

"Ay, where are they?" chorussed the mob, flourishing their various
weapons, and flashing their torches in the air; "we'll starve 'em out."

Mr. Wood trembled. He felt he had raised a storm which it would be very
difficult, if not impossible, to allay. He knew not what to say, or what
to do; and his confusion was increased by the threatening gestures and
furious looks of the ruffians in his immediate vicinity.

"I don't understand you, gentlemen," stammered he, at length.

"What does he say?" roared the long drover.

"He says he don't understand flash," replied the lady in gentleman's
attire.

"Cease your confounded clutter!" said a young man, whose swarthy visage,
seen in the torchlight, struck Wood as being that of a Mulatto. "You
frighten the cull out of his senses. It's plain he don't understand our
lingo; as, how should he? Take pattern by me;" and as he said this he
strode up to the carpenter, and, slapping him on the shoulder,
propounded the following questions, accompanying each interrogation with
a formidable contortion of countenance. "Curse you! Where are the
bailiffs? Rot you! have you lost your tongue? Devil seize you! you could
bawl loud enough a moment ago!"

"Silence, Blueskin!" interposed an authoritative voice, immediately
behind the ruffian. "Let me have a word with the cull!"

"Ay! ay!" cried several of the bystanders, "let Jonathan kimbaw the
cove. He's got the gift of the gab."

The crowd accordingly drew aside, and the individual, in whose behalf
the movement had been made immediately stepped forward. He was a young
man of about two-and-twenty, who, without having anything remarkable
either in dress or appearance, was yet a noticeable person, if only for
the indescribable expression of cunning pervading his countenance. His
eyes were small and grey; as far apart and as sly-looking as those of a
fox. A physiognomist, indeed, would have likened him to that crafty
animal, and it must be owned the general formation of his features
favoured such a comparison. The nose was long and sharp, the chin
pointed, the forehead broad and flat, and connected, without any
intervening hollow, with the eyelid; the teeth when displayed, seemed to
reach from ear to ear. Then his beard was of a reddish hue, and his
complexion warm and sanguine. Those who had seen him slumbering, averred
that he slept with his eyes open. But this might be merely a figurative
mode of describing his customary vigilance. Certain it was, that the
slightest sound aroused him. This astute personage was somewhat under
the middle size, but fairly proportioned, inclining rather to strength
than symmetry, and abounding more in muscle than in flesh.

It would seem, from the attention which he evidently bestowed upon the
hidden and complex machinery of the grand system of villany at work
around him, that his chief object in taking up his quarters in the Mint,
must have been to obtain some private information respecting the habits
and practices of its inhabitants, to be turned to account hereafter.

Advancing towards Wood, Jonathan fixed his keen gray eyes upon him, and
demanded, in a stern tone whether the persons who had taken refuge in
the adjoining house, were bailiffs.

"Not that I know of," replied the carpenter, who had in some degree
recovered his confidence.

"Then I presume you've not been arrested?"

"I have not," answered Wood firmly.

"I guessed as much. Perhaps you'll next inform us why you have
occasioned this disturbance."

"Because this child's life was threatened by the persons you have
mentioned," rejoined Wood.

"An excellent reason, i' faith!" exclaimed Blueskin, with a roar of
surprise and indignation, which was echoed by the whole assemblage. "And
so we're to be summoned from our beds and snug firesides, because a kid
happens to squall, eh? By the soul of my grandmother, but this is too
good!"

"Do you intend to claim the privileges of the Mint?" said Jonathan,
calmly pursuing his interrogations amid the uproar. "Is your person in
danger?"

"Not from my creditors," replied Wood, significantly.

"Will he post the cole? Will he come down with the dues? Ask him that?"
cried Blueskin.

"You hear," pursued Jonathan; "my friend desires to know if you are
willing to pay your footing as a member of the ancient and respectable
fraternity of debtors?"

"I owe no man a farthing, and my name shall never appear in any such
rascally list," replied Wood angrily. "I don't see why I should be
obliged to pay for doing my duty. I tell you this child would have been
strangled. The noose was at its throat when I called for help. I knew
it was in vain to cry 'murder!' in the Mint, so I had recourse to
stratagem."

"Well, Sir, I must say you deserve some credit for your ingenuity, at
all events," replied Jonathan, repressing a smile; "but, before you put
out your foot so far, it would have been quite as prudent to consider
how you were to draw it back again. For my own part, I don't see in what
way it is to be accomplished, except by the payment of our customary
fees. Do not imagine you can at one moment avail yourself of our
excellent regulations (with which you seem sufficiently well
acquainted), and the next break them with impunity. If you assume the
character of a debtor for your own convenience, you must be content to
maintain it for ours. If you have not been arrested, we have been
disturbed; and it is but just and reasonable you should pay for
occasioning such disturbance. By your own showing you are in easy
circumstances,--for it is only natural to presume that a man who owes
nothing must be in a condition to pay liberally,--and you cannot
therefore feel the loss of such a trifle as ten guineas."

However illogical and inconclusive these arguments might appear to Mr.
Wood, and however he might dissent from the latter proposition, he did
not deem it expedient to make any reply; and the orator proceeded with
his harangue amid the general applause of the assemblage.

"I am perhaps exceeding my authority in demanding so slight a sum,"
continued Jonathan, modestly, "and the Master of the Mint may not be
disposed to let you off so lightly. He will be here in a moment or so,
and you will then learn his determination. In the mean time, let me
advise you as a friend not to irritate him by a refusal, which would be
as useless as vexatious. He has a very summary mode of dealing with
refractory persons, I assure you. My best endeavours shall be used to
bring you off, on the easy terms I have mentioned."

"Do you call ten guineas easy terms?" cried Wood, with a look of dismay.
"Why, I should expect to purchase the entire freehold of the Mint for
less money."

"Many a man has been glad to pay double the amount to get his head from
under the Mint pump," observed Blueskin, gruffly.

"Let the gentleman take his own course," said Jonathan, mildly. "I
should be sorry to persuade him to do anything his calmer judgment might
disapprove."

"Exactly my sentiments," rejoined Blueskin. "I wouldn't force him for
the world: but if he don't tip the stivers, may I be cursed if he don't
get a taste of the _aqua pompaginis_. Let's have a look at the kinchen
that _ought_ to have been throttled," added he, snatching the child from
Wood. "My stars! here's a pretty lullaby-cheat to make a fuss about--ho!
ho!"

"Deal with me as you think proper, gentlemen," exclaimed Wood; "but, for
mercy's sake don't harm the child! Let it be taken to its mother."

"And who is its mother?" asked Jonathan, in an eager whisper. "Tell me
frankly, and speak under your breath. Your own safety--the child's
safety--depends upon your candour."

While Mr. Wood underwent this examination, Blueskin felt a small and
trembling hand placed upon his own, and, turning at the summons, beheld
a young female, whose features were partially concealed by a loo, or
half mask, standing beside him. Coarse as were the ruffian's notions of
feminine beauty, he could not be insensible to the surpassing loveliness
of the fair creature, who had thus solicited his attention. Her figure
was, in some measure, hidden by a large scarf, and a deep hood drawn
over the head contributed to her disguise; still it was evident, from
her lofty bearing, that she had nothing in common, except an interest in
their proceedings, with the crew by whom she was surrounded.

Whence she came,--who she was,--and what she wanted,--were questions
which naturally suggested themselves to Blueskin, and he was about to
seek for some explanation, when his curiosity was checked by a gesture
of silence from the lady.

"Hush!" said she, in a low, but agitated voice; "would you earn this
purse?"

"I've no objection," replied Blueskin, in a tone intended to be gentle,
but which sounded like the murmuring whine of a playful bear. "How much
is there in it!"

"It contains gold," replied the lady; "but I will add this ring."

"What am I to do to earn it?" asked Blueskin, with a disgusting
leer,--"cut a throat--or throw myself at your feet--eh, my dear?"

"Give me that child," returned the lady, with difficulty overcoming the
loathing inspired by the ruffian's familiarity.

"Oh! I see!" replied Blueskin, winking significantly, "Come nearer, or
they'll observe us. Don't be afraid--I won't hurt you. I'm always
agreeable to the women, bless their kind hearts! Now! slip the purse
into my hand. Bravo!--the best cly-faker of 'em all couldn't have done
it better. And now for the fawney--the ring I mean. I'm no great judge
of these articles, Ma'am; but I trust to your honour not to palm off
paste upon me."

"It is a diamond," said the lady, in an agony of distress,--"the child!"

"A diamond! Here, take the kid," cried Blueskin, slipping the infant
adroitly under her scarf. "And so this is a diamond," added he,
contemplating the brilliant from the hollow of his hand: "it does
sparkle almost as brightly as your ogles. By the by, my dear, I forgot
to ask your name--perhaps you'll oblige me with it now? Hell and the
devil!--gone!"

He looked around in vain. The lady had disappeared.




CHAPTER III.

The Master of the Mint.


Jonathan, meanwhile, having ascertained the parentage of the child from
Wood, proceeded to question him in an under tone, as to the probable
motives of the attempt upon its life; and, though he failed in obtaining
any information on this point, he had little difficulty in eliciting
such particulars of the mysterious transaction as have already been
recounted. When the carpenter concluded his recital, Jonathan was for a
moment lost in reflection.

"Devilish strange!" thought he, chuckling to himself; "queer business!
Capital trick of the cull in the cloak to make another person's brat
stand the brunt for his own--capital! ha! ha! Won't do, though. He must
be a sly fox to get out of the Mint without my knowledge. I've a shrewd
guess where he's taken refuge; but I'll ferret him out. These bloods
will pay well for his capture; if not, _he'll_ pay well to get out of
their hands; so I'm safe either way--ha! ha! Blueskin," he added aloud,
and motioning that worthy, "follow me."

Upon which, he set off in the direction of the entry. His progress,
however, was checked by loud acclamations, announcing the arrival of the
Master of the Mint and his train.

Baptist Kettleby (for so was the Master named) was a "goodly portly man,
and a corpulent," whose fair round paunch bespoke the affection he
entertained for good liquor and good living. He had a quick, shrewd,
merry eye, and a look in which duplicity was agreeably veiled by good
humour. It was easy to discover that he was a knave, but equally easy to
perceive that he was a pleasant fellow; a combination of qualities by no
means of rare occurrence. So far as regards his attire, Baptist was not
seen to advantage. No great lover of state or state costume at any time,
he was generally, towards the close of an evening, completely in
dishabille, and in this condition he now presented himself to his
subjects. His shirt was unfastened, his vest unbuttoned, his hose
ungartered; his feet were stuck into a pair of pantoufles, his arms into
a greasy flannel dressing-gown, his head into a thrum-cap, the cap into
a tie-periwig, and the wig into a gold-edged hat. A white apron was tied
round his waist, and into the apron was thrust a short thick truncheon,
which looked very much like a rolling-pin.

The Master of the Mint was accompanied by another gentleman almost as
portly as himself, and quite as deliberate in his movements. The costume
of this personage was somewhat singular, and might have passed for a
masquerading habit, had not the imperturbable gravity of his demeanour
forbidden any such supposition. It consisted of a close jerkin of brown
frieze, ornamented with a triple row of brass buttons; loose Dutch
slops, made very wide in the seat and very tight at the knees; red
stockings with black clocks, and a fur cap. The owner of this dress had
a broad weather-beaten face, small twinkling eyes, and a bushy, grizzled
beard. Though he walked by the side of the governor, he seldom exchanged
a word with him, but appeared wholly absorbed in the contemplations
inspired by a broadbowled Dutch pipe.

Behind the illustrious personages just described marched a troop of
stalwart fellows, with white badges in their hats, quarterstaves, oaken
cudgels, and links in their hands. These were the Master's body-guard.

Advancing towards the Master, and claiming an audience, which was
instantly granted, Jonathan, without much circumlocution, related the
sum of the strange story he had just learnt from Wood, omitting nothing
except a few trifling particulars, which he thought it politic to keep
back; and, with this view, he said not a word of there being any
probability of capturing the fugitive, but, on the contrary, roundly
asserted that his informant had witnessed that person's escape.

The Master listened, with becoming attention, to the narrative, and, at
its conclusion, shook his head gravely, applied his thumb to the side of
his nose, and, twirling his fingers significantly, winked at his
phlegmatic companion. The gentleman appealed to shook his head in reply,
coughed as only a Dutchman _can_ cough, and raising his hand from the
bowl of his pipe, went through precisely the same mysterious ceremonial
as the Master.

Putting his own construction upon this mute interchange of opinions,
Jonathan ventured to observe, that it certainly was a very perplexing
case, but that he thought something _might_ be made of it, and, if left
to him, he would undertake to manage the matter to the Master's entire
satisfaction.

"Ja, ja, Muntmeester," said the Dutchman, removing the pipe from his
mouth, and speaking in a deep and guttural voice, "leave the affair to
Johannes. He'll settle it bravely. And let ush go back to our brandewyn,
and hollandsche genever. Dese ere not schouts, as you faind, but jonkers
on a vrolyk; and if dey'd chanshed to keel de vrow Sheppard's pet lamb,
dey'd have done her a servish, by shaving it from dat unpleasant
complaint, de hempen fever, with which its laatter days are threatened,
and of which its poor vader died. Myn Got! haanging runs in some
families, Muntmeester. It's hereditary, like de jigt, vat you call
it--gout--haw! haw!"

"If the child _is_ destined to the gibbet, Van Galgebrok," replied the
Master, joining in the laugh, "it'll never be choked by a footman's
cravat, that's certain; but, in regard to going back empty-handed,"
continued he, altering his tone, and assuming a dignified air, "it's
quite out of the question. With Baptist Kettleby, to engage in a matter
is to go through with it. Besides, this is an affair which no one but
myself can settle. Common offences may be decided upon by deputy; but
outrages perpetrated by men of rank, as these appear to be, must be
judged by the Master of the Mint in person. These are the decrees of the
Island of Bermuda, and I will never suffer its excellent laws to be
violated. Gentlemen of the Mint," added he, pointing with his truncheon
towards Mrs. Sheppard's house, "forward!"

"Hurrah!" shouted the mob, and the whole phalanx was put in motion in
that direction. At the same moment a martial flourish, proceeding from
cow's horns, tin canisters filled with stones, bladders and cat-gut,
with other sprightly, instruments, was struck up, and, enlivened by this
harmonious accompaniment, the troop reached its destination in the best
possible spirits for an encounter.

"Let us in," said the Master, rapping his truncheon authoritatively
against the boards, "or we'll force an entrance."

But as no answer was returned to the summons, though it was again, and
more peremptorily, repeated, Baptist seized a mallet from a bystander
and burst open the door. Followed by Van Galgebrok and others of his
retinue, he then rushed into the room, where Rowland, Sir Cecil, and
their attendants, stood with drawn swords prepared to receive them.

"Beat down their blades," cried the Master; "no bloodshed."

"Beat out their brains, you mean," rejoined Blueskin with a tremendous
imprecation; "no half measures now, Master."

"Hadn't you better hold a moment's parley with the gentlemen before
proceeding to extremities?" suggested Jonathan.

"Agreed," responded the Master. "Surely," he added, staring at Rowland,
"either I'm greatly mistaken, or it is--"

"You are not mistaken, Baptist," returned Rowland with a gesture of
silence; "it is your old friend. I'm glad to recognise you."

"And I'm glad your worship's recognition doesn't come too late,"
observed the Master. "But why didn't you make yourself known at once?"

"I'd forgotten the office you hold in the Mint, Baptist," replied
Rowland. "But clear the room of this rabble, if you have sufficient
authority over them. I would speak with you."

"There's but one way of clearing it, your worship," said the Master,
archly.

"I understand," replied Rowland. "Give them what you please. I'll repay
you."

"It's all right, pals," cried Baptist, in a loud tone; "the gentlemen
and I have settled matters. No more scuffling."

"What's the meaning of all this?" demanded Sir Cecil. "How have you
contrived to still these troubled waters?"

"I've chanced upon an old ally in the Master of the Mint," answered
Rowland. "We may trust him," he added in a whisper; "he is a staunch
friend of the good cause."

"Blueskin, clear the room," cried the Master; "these gentlemen would be
private. They've _paid_ for their lodging. Where's Jonathan?"

Inquiries were instantly made after that individual, but he was nowhere
to be found.

"Strange!" observed the Master; "I thought he'd been at my elbow all
this time. But it don't much matter--though he's a devilish shrewd
fellow, and might have helped me out of a difficulty, had any occurred.
Hark ye, Blueskin," continued he, addressing that personage, who, in
obedience to his commands, had, with great promptitude, driven out the
rabble, and again secured the door, "a word in your ear. What female
entered the house with us?"

"Blood and thunder!" exclaimed Blueskin, afraid, if he admitted having
seen the lady, of being compelled to divide the plunder he had obtained
from her among his companions, "how should I know? D'ye suppose I'm
always thinking of the petticoats? I observed no female; but if any one
_did_ join the assault, it must have been either Amazonian Kate, or
Fighting Moll."

"The woman I mean did not join the assault," rejoined the Master, "but
rather seemed to shun observation; and, from the hasty glimpse I caught
of her, she appeared to have a child in her arms."

"Then, most probably, it was the widow Sheppard," answered Blueskin,
sulkily.

"Right," said the Master, "I didn't think of her. And now I've another
job for you."

"Propose it," returned Blueskin, inclining his head.

"Square accounts with the rascal who got up the sham arrest; and, if he
don't tip the cole without more ado, give him a taste of the pump,
that's all."

"He shall go through the whole course," replied Blueskin, with a
ferocious grin, "unless he comes down to the last grig. We'll lather him
with mud, shave him with a rusty razor, and drench him with _aqua
pompaginis_. Master, your humble servant.--Gentlemen, your most
obsequious trout."

Having effected his object, which was to get rid of Blueskin, Baptist
turned to Rowland and Sir Cecil, who had watched his proceedings with
much impatience, and remarked, "Now, gentlemen, the coast's clear; we've
nothing to interrupt us. I'm entirely at your service."




CHAPTER IV.

The Roof and the Window.


Leaving them to pursue their conference, we shall follow the footsteps
of Jonathan, who, as the Master surmised, and, as we have intimated, had
unquestionably entered the house. But at the beginning of the affray,
when he thought every one was too much occupied with his own concerns to
remark his absence, he slipped out of the room, not for the purpose of
avoiding the engagement (for cowardice was not one of his failings), but
because he had another object in view. Creeping stealthily up stairs,
unmasking a dark lantern, and glancing into each room as he passed, he
was startled in one of them by the appearance of Mrs. Sheppard, who
seemed to be crouching upon the floor. Satisfied, however, that she did
not notice him, Jonathan glided away as noiselessly as he came, and
ascended another short flight of stairs leading to the garret. As he
crossed this chamber, his foot struck against something on the floor,
which nearly threw him down, and stooping to examine the object, he
found it was a key. "Never throw away a chance," thought Jonathan. "Who
knows but this key may open a golden lock one of these days?" And,
picking it up, he thrust it into his pocket.

Arrived beneath an aperture in the broken roof, he was preparing to pass
through it, when he observed a little heap of tiles upon the floor,
which appeared to have been recently dislodged. "He _has_ passed this
way," cried Jonathan, exultingly; "I have him safe enough." He then
closed the lantern, mounted without much difficulty upon the roof, and
proceeded cautiously along the tiles.

The night was now profoundly dark. Jonathan had to feel his way. A
single false step might have precipitated him into the street; or, if he
had trodden upon an unsound part of the roof, he must have fallen
through it. He had nothing to guide him; for though the torches were
blazing ruddily below, their gleam fell only on the side of the
building. The venturous climber gazed for a moment at the assemblage
beneath, to ascertain that he was not discovered; and, having satisfied
himself in this particular, he stepped out more boldly. On gaining a
stack of chimneys at the back of the house, he came to a pause, and
again unmasked his lantern. Nothing, however, could be discerned, except
the crumbling brickwork. "Confusion!" ejaculated Jonathan: "can he have
escaped? No. The walls are too high, and the windows too stoutly
barricaded in this quarter, to admit such a supposition. He can't be far
off. I shall find him yet. Ah! I have it," he added, after a moment's
deliberation; "he's there, I'll be sworn." And, once more enveloping
himself in darkness, he pursued his course.

He had now reached the adjoining house, and, scaling the roof,
approached another building, which seemed to be, at least, one story
loftier than its neighbours. Apparently, Jonathan was well acquainted
with the premises; for, feeling about in the dark, he speedily
discovered a ladder, up the steps of which he hurried. Drawing a pistol,
and unclosing his lantern with the quickness of thought, he then burst
through an open trap-door into a small loft.

The light fell upon the fugitive, who stood before him in an attitude of
defence, with the child in his arms.

"Aha!" exclaimed Jonathan, acting upon the information he had obtained
from Wood; "I have found you at last. Your servant, Mr. Darrell."

"Who are you!" demanded the fugitive, sternly.

"A friend," replied Jonathan, uncocking the pistol, and placing it in
his pocket.

"How do I know you are a friend?" asked Darrell.

"What should I do here alone if I were an enemy? But, come, don't let us
waste time in bandying words, when we might employ it so much more
profitably. Your life, and that of your child, are in my power. What
will you give me to save you from your pursuers?"

"_Can_ you do so?" asked the other, doubtfully.

"I can, and will. Now, the reward?"

"I have but an ill-furnished purse. But if I escape, my gratitude--"

"Pshaw!" interrupted Jonathan, scornfully. "Your gratitude will vanish
with your danger. Pay fools with promises. I must have something in
hand."

"You shall have all I have about me," replied Darrell.

"Well--well," grumbled Jonathan, "I suppose I must be content. An
ill-lined purse is a poor recompense for the risk I have run. However,
come along. I needn't tell you to tread carefully. You know the danger
of this breakneck road as well as I do. The light would betray us." So
saying, he closed the lantern.

"Harkye, Sir," rejoined Darrell; "one word before I move. I know not who
you are; and, as I cannot discern your face, I may be doing you an
injustice. But there is something in your voice that makes me distrust
you. If you attempt to play the traitor, you will do so at the hazard of
your life."

"I have already hazarded my life in this attempt to save you," returned
Jonathan boldly, and with apparent frankness; "this ought to be
sufficient answer to your doubts. Your pursuers are below. What was to
hinder me, if I had been so inclined, from directing them to your
retreat?"

"Enough," replied Darrell. "Lead on!"

Followed by Darrell, Jonathan retraced his dangerous path. As he
approached the gable of Mrs. Sheppard's house, loud yells and
vociferations reached his ears; and, looking downwards, he perceived a
great stir amid the mob. The cause of this uproar was soon manifest.
Blueskin and the Minters were dragging Wood to the pump. The unfortunate
carpenter struggled violently, but ineffectually. His hat was placed
upon one pole, his wig on another. His shouts for help were answered by
roars of mockery and laughter. He continued alternately to be tossed in
the air, or rolled in the kennel until he was borne out of sight. The
spectacle seemed to afford as much amusement to Jonathan as to the
actors engaged in it. He could not contain his satisfaction, but
chuckled, and rubbed his hands with delight.

"By Heaven!" cried Darrell, "it is the poor fellow whom I placed in such
jeopardy a short time ago. I am the cause of his ill-usage."

"To be sure you are," replied Jonathan, laughing. "But, what of that?
It'll be a lesson to him in future, and will show him the folly of doing
a good-natured action!"

But perceiving that his companion did not relish his pleasantry and
fearing that his sympathy for the carpenter's situation might betray him
into some act of imprudence, Jonathan, without further remark, and by
way of putting an end to the discussion, let himself drop through the
roof. His example was followed by Darrell. But, though the latter was
somewhat embarrassed by his burthen, he peremptorily declined Jonathan's
offer of assistance. Both, however, having safely landed, they
cautiously crossed the room, and passed down the first flight of steps
in silence. At this moment, a door was opened below; lights gleamed on
the walls; and the figures of Rowland and Sir Cecil were distinguished
at the foot of the stairs.

Darrell stopped, and drew his sword.

"You have betrayed me," said he, in a deep whisper, to his companion;
"but you shall reap the reward of your treachery."

"Be still!" returned Jonathan, in the same under tone, and with great
self-possession: "I can yet save you. And see!" he added, as the figures
drew back, and the lights disappeared; "it's a false alarm. They have
retired. However, not a moment is to be lost. Give me your hand."

He then hurried Darrell down another short flight of steps, and entered
a small chamber at the back of the house. Closing the door, Jonathan
next produced his lantern, and, hastening towards the window, undrew a
bolt by which it was fastened. A stout wooden shutter, opening inwardly,
being removed, disclosed a grating of iron bars. This obstacle, which
appeared to preclude the possibility of egress in that quarter, was
speedily got rid of. Withdrawing another bolt, and unhooking a chain
suspended from the top of the casement, Jonathan pushed the iron
framework outwards. The bars dropped noiselessly and slowly down, till
the chain tightened at the staple.

"You are free," said he, "that grating forms a ladder, by which you may
descend in safety. I learned the trick of the place from one Paul
Groves, who used to live here, and who contrived the machine. He used to
call it his fire-escape--ha! ha! I've often used the ladder for my own
convenience, but I never expected to turn it to such good account. And
now, Sir, have I kept faith with you?"

"You have," replied Darrell. "Here is my purse; and I trust you will let
me know to whom I am indebted for this important service."

"It matters not who I am," replied Jonathan, taking the money. "As I
said before, I have little reliance upon _professions_ of gratitude."

"I know not how it is," sighed Darrell, "but I feel an unaccountable
misgiving at quitting this place. Something tells me I am rushing on
greater danger."

"You know best," replied Jonathan, sneeringly; "but if I were in your
place I would take the chance of a future and uncertain risk to avoid a
present and certain peril."

"You are right," replied Darrell; "the weakness is past. Which is the
nearest way to the river?"

"Why, it's an awkward road to direct you," returned Jonathan. "But if
you turn to the right when you reach the ground, and keep close to the
Mint wall, you'll speedily arrive at White Cross Street; White Cross
Street, if you turn again to the right, will bring you into Queen
Street; Queen Street, bearing to the left, will conduct you to Deadman's
Place; and Deadman's Place to the water-side, not fifty yards from Saint
Saviour's stairs, where you're sure to get a boat."

"The very point I aim at," said Darrell as he passed through the outlet.

"Stay!" said Jonathan, aiding his descent; "you had better take my
lantern. It may be useful to you. Perhaps you'll give me in return some
token, by which I may remind you of this occurrence, in case we meet
again. Your glove will suffice."

"There it is;" replied the other, tossing him the glove. "Are you sure
these bars touch the ground?"

"They come within a yard of it," answered Jonathan.

"Safe!" shouted Darrell, as he effected a secure landing. "Good night!"

"So," muttered Jonathan, "having started the hare, I'll now unleash the
hounds."

With this praiseworthy determination, he was hastening down stairs, with
the utmost rapidity, when he encountered a female, whom he took, in the
darkness, to be Mrs. Sheppard. The person caught hold of his arm, and,
in spite of his efforts to disengage himself, detained him.

"Where is he?" asked she, in an agitated whisper. "I heard his voice;
but I saw them on the stairs, and durst not approach him, for fear of
giving the alarm."

"If you mean the fugitive, Darrell, he has escaped through the back
window," replied Jonathan.

"Thank Heaven!" she gasped.

"Well, you women are forgiving creatures, I must say," observed
Jonathan, sarcastically. "You thank Heaven for the escape of the man who
did his best to get your child's neck twisted."

"What do you mean?" asked the female, in astonishment.

"I mean what I say," replied Jonathan. "Perhaps you don't know that
this Darrell so contrived matters, that your child should be mistaken
for his own; by which means it had a narrow escape from a tight cravat,
I can assure you. However, the scheme answered well enough, for Darrell
has got off with his own brat."

"Then this is not my child?" exclaimed she, with increased astonishment.

"If you have a child there, it certainly is not," answered Jonathan, a
little surprised; "for I left your brat in the charge of Blueskin, who
is still among the crowd in the street, unless, as is not unlikely, he's
gone to see your other friend disciplined at the pump."

"Merciful providence!" exclaimed the female. "Whose child can this be?"

"How the devil should I know!" replied Jonathan gruffly. "I suppose it
didn't drop through the ceiling, did it? Are you quite sure it's flesh
and blood?" asked he, playfully pinching its arm till it cried out with
pain.

"My child! my child!" exclaimed Mrs. Sheppard, rushing from the
adjoining room. "Where is it?"

"Are you the mother of this child?" inquired the person who had first
spoken, addressing Mrs. Sheppard.

"I am--I am!" cried the widow, snatching the babe, and pressing it to
her breast with rapturous delight "God be thanked, I have found it!"

"We have both good reason to be grateful," added the lady, with great
emotion.

"'Sblood!" cried Jonathan, who had listened to the foregoing
conversation with angry wonder, "I've been nicely done here. Fool that I
was to part with my lantern! But I'll soon set myself straight. What ho!
lights! lights!"

And, shouting as he went, he flung himself down stairs.

"Where shall I fly?" exclaimed the lady, bewildered with terror. "They
will kill me, if they find me, as they would have killed my husband and
child. Oh God! my limbs fail me."

"Make an effort, Madam," cried Mrs. Sheppard, as a storm of furious
voices resounded from below, and torches were seen mounting the stairs;
"they are coming!--they are coming!--fly!--to the roof! to the roof."

"No," cried the lady, "this room--I recollect--it has a back window."

"It is shut," said Mrs. Sheppard.

"It is open," replied the lady, rushing towards it, and springing
through the outlet.

"Where is she?" thundered Jonathan, who at this moment reached Mrs.
Sheppard.

"She has flown up stairs," replied the widow.

"You lie, hussy!" replied Jonathan, rudely pushing her aside, as she
vainly endeavoured to oppose his entrance into the room; "she is here.
Hist!" cried he, as a scream was heard from without. "By G--! she has
missed her footing."

There was a momentary and terrible silence, broken only by a few feeble
groans.

Sir Cecil, who with Rowland and some others had entered the room rushed
to the window with a torch.

He held down the light, and a moment afterwards beckoned, with a
blanched cheek, to Rowland.

"Your sister is dead," said he, in a deep whisper.

"Her blood be upon her own head, then," replied Rowland, sternly. "Why
came she here?"

"She could not resist the hand of fate which drew her hither," replied
Sir Cecil, mournfully.

"Descend and take charge of the body," said Rowland, conquering his
emotion by a great effort, "I will join you in a moment. This accident
rather confirms than checks my purpose. The stain upon our family is
only half effaced: I have sworn the death of the villain and his
bastard, and I will keep my oath. Now, Sir," he added, turning to
Jonathan, as Sir Cecil and his followers obeyed his injunctions, "you
say you know the road which the person whom we seek has taken?"

"I do," replied Jonathan. "But I give no information gratis!"

"Speak, then," said Rowland, placing money in his hand.

"You'll find him at St. Saviours's stairs," answered Jonathan. "He's
about to cross the river. You'd better lose no time. He has got five
minutes' start of you. But I sent him the longest way about."

The words were scarcely pronounced, when Rowland disappeared.

"And now to see the end of it," said Jonathan, shortly afterwards
passing through the window. "Good night, Master."

Three persons only were left in the room. These were the Master of the
Mint, Van Galgebrok, and Mrs. Sheppard.

"A bad business this, Van," observed Baptist, with a prolonged shake of
the head.

"Ja, ja, Muntmeester," said the Hollander, shaking his head in
reply;--"very bad--very."

"But then they're staunch supporters of our friend over the water,"
continued Baptist, winking significantly; "so we must e'en hush it up in
the best way we can."

"Ja," answered Van Galgebrok. "But--sapperment!--I wish they hadn't
broken my pipe."

"JONATHAN WILD promises well," observed the Master, after a pause:
"he'll become a great man. Mind, I, Baptist Kettleby, say so."

"He'll be hanged nevertheless," replied the Hollander, giving his collar
an ugly jerk. "Mind, I, Rykhart Van Galgebrok predict it. And now let's
go back to the Shovels, and finish our brandewyn and bier, Muntmeester."

"Alas!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, relieved by their departure, and giving way
to a passionate flood of tears; "were it not for my child, I should wish
to be in the place of that unfortunate lady."




CHAPTER V.

The Denunciation.


For a short space, Mrs. Sheppard remained dissolved in tears. She then
dried her eyes, and laying her child gently upon the floor, knelt down
beside him. "Open my heart, Father of Mercy!" she murmured, in a humble
tone, and with downcast looks, "and make me sensible of the error of my
ways. I have sinned deeply; but I have been sorely tried. Spare me yet a
little while, Father! not for my own sake, but for the sake of this poor
babe." Her utterance was here choked by sobs. "But if it is thy will to
take me from him," she continued, as soon as her emotion permitted
her,--"if he must be left an orphan amid strangers, implant, I beseech
thee, a mother's feelings in some other bosom, and raise up a friend,
who shall be to him what I would have been. Let him not bear the weight
of my punishment. Spare him!--pity me!"

With this she arose, and, taking up the infant, was about to proceed
down stairs, when she was alarmed by hearing the street-door opened, and
the sound of heavy footsteps entering the house.

"Halloa, widow!" shouted a rough voice from below, "where the devil are
you?"

Mrs. Sheppard returned no answer.

"I've got something to say to you," continued the speaker, rather less
harshly; "something to your advantage; so come out o' your hiding-place,
and let's have some supper, for I'm infernally hungry.--D'ye hear?"

Still the widow remained silent.

"Well, if you won't come, I shall help myself, and that's unsociable,"
pursued the speaker, evidently, from the noise he made, suiting the
action to the word. "Devilish nice ham you've got here!--capital
pie!--and, as I live, a flask of excellent canary. You're in luck
to-night, widow. Here's your health in a bumper, and wishing you a
better husband than your first. It'll be your own fault if you don't
soon get another and a proper young man into the bargain. Here's his
health likewise. What! mum still. You're the first widow I ever heard of
who could withstand that lure. I'll try the effect of a jolly stave."
And he struck up the following ballad:--

SAINT GILES'S BOWL.[A]

[Music: Transcribers note See HTML version for music]

    I.

    Where Saint-Giles' church stands, once a la-zar-house
    stood; And, chain'd to its gates, was a ves-sel of wood; A
    broad-bottom'd bowl, from which all the fine fellows, Who
    pass'd by that spot, on their way to the gallows, Might
    tipple strong beer, Their spirits to cheer, And drown, in a
    sea of good li-quor, all fear! For nothing the
    tran-sit to Ty-burn beguiles, So well as a
    draught from the Bowl of Saint Giles!


    II.

    By many a highwayman many a draught
    Of nutty-brown ale at Saint Giles's was quaft,
    Until the old lazar-house chanced to fall down,
    And the broad-bottom'd bowl was removed to the Crown.
        _Where the robber may cheer_
        _His spirit with beer,_
      _And drown in a sea of good liquor all fear!_
      _For nothing the transit to Tyburn beguiles_
      _So well as a draught from the Bowl of Saint Giles!_


    III.

    There MULSACK and SWIFTNECK, both prigs from their birth,
    OLD MOB and TOM COX took their last draught on earth:
    There RANDAL, and SHORTER, and WHITNEY pulled up,
    And jolly JACK JOYCE drank his finishing cup!
        _For a can of ale calms,_
        _A highwayman's qualms,_
      _And makes him sing blithely his dolorous psalms_
      _And nothing the transit to Tyburn beguiles_
      _So well as a draught from the Bowl of Saint Giles!_

"Singing's dry work," observed the stranger, pausing to take a pull at
the bottle. "And now, widow," he continued, "attend to the next verse,
for it consarns a friend o' yours."


    IV.

    When gallant TOM SHEPPARD to Tyburn was led,--
    "Stop the cart at the Crown--stop a moment," he said.
    He was offered the Bowl, but he left it and smiled,
    Crying, "Keep it till call'd for by JONATHAN WILD!
        "_The rascal one day,_
        "_Will pass by this way,_
      "_And drink a full measure to moisten his clay!_
      "_And never will Bowl of Saint Giles have beguiled_
      "_Such a thorough-paced scoundrel as_ JONATHAN WILD!"


    V.

    Should it e'er be _my_ lot to ride backwards that way,
    At the door of the Crown I will certainly stay;
    I'll summon the landlord--I'll call for the Bowl,
    And drink a deep draught to the health of my soul!
        _Whatever may hap,_
        _I'll taste of the tap,_
      _To keep up my spirits when brought to the crap!_
      _For nothing the transit to Tyburn beguiles_
      _So well as a draught from the Bowl of St. Giles!_

"Devil seize the woman!" growled the singer, as he brought his ditty to
a close; "will nothing tempt her out? Widow Sheppard, I say," he added,
rising, "don't be afraid. It's only a gentleman come to offer you his
hand. 'He that woos a maid',--fol-de-rol--(hiccupping).--I'll soon find
you out."

Mrs. Sheppard, whose distress at the consumption of the provisions had
been somewhat allayed by the anticipation of the intruder's departure
after he had satisfied his appetite, was now terrified in the extreme by
seeing a light approach, and hearing footsteps on the stairs. Her first
impulse was to fly to the window; and she was about to pass through it,
at the risk of sharing the fate of the unfortunate lady, when her arm
was grasped by some one in the act of ascending the ladder from without.
Uttering a faint scream, she sank backwards, and would have fallen, if
it had not been for the interposition of Blueskin, who, at that moment,
staggered into the room with a candle in one hand, and the bottle in the
other.

"Oh, you're here, are you?" said the ruffian, with an exulting laugh:
"I've been looking for you everywhere."

"Let me go," implored Mrs. Sheppard,--"pray let me go. You hurt the
child. Don't you hear how you've made it cry?"

"Throttle the kid!" rejoined Blueskin, fiercely. "If you don't stop its
squalling, I will. I hate children. And, if I'd my own way, I'd drown
'em all like a litter o' puppies."

Well knowing the savage temper of the person she had to deal with, and
how likely he was to put his threat into execution, Mrs. Sheppard did
not dare to return any answer; but, disengaging herself from his
embrace, endeavoured meekly to comply with his request.

"And now, widow," continued the ruffian, setting down the candle, and
applying his lips to the bottle neck as he flung his heavy frame upon a
bench, "I've a piece o' good news for you."

"Good news will be news to me. What is it?"

"Guess," rejoined Blueskin, attempting to throw a gallant expression
into his forbidding countenance.

Mrs. Sheppard trembled violently; and though she understood his meaning
too well, she answered,--"I can't guess."

"Well, then," returned the ruffian, "to put you out o' suspense, as the
topsman remarked to poor Tom Sheppard, afore he turned him off, I'm come
to make you an honourable proposal o' marriage. You won't refuse me, I'm
sure; so no more need be said about the matter. To-morrow, we'll go to
the Fleet and get spliced. Don't shake so. What I said about your brat
was all stuff. I didn't mean it. It's my way when I'm ruffled. I shall
take to him as nat'ral as if he were my own flesh and blood afore
long.--I'll give him the edication of a prig,--teach him the use of his
forks betimes,--and make him, in the end, as clever a cracksman as his
father."

"Never!" shrieked Mrs. Sheppard; "never! never!"

"Halloa! what's this?" demanded Blueskin, springing to his feet. "Do you
mean to say that if I support your kid, I shan't bring him up how I
please--eh?"

"Don't question me, but leave me," replied the widow wildly; "you had
better."

"Leave you!" echoed the ruffian, with a contemptuous laugh; "--not just
yet."

"I am not unprotected," rejoined the poor woman; "there's some one at
the window. Help! help!"

But her cries were unheeded. And Blueskin, who, for a moment, had looked
round distrustfully, concluding it was a feint, now laughed louder than
ever.

"It won't do, widow," said he, drawing near her, while she shrank from
his approach, "so you may spare your breath. Come, come, be reasonable,
and listen to me. Your kid has already brought me good luck, and may
bring me still more if his edication's attended to. This purse," he
added, chinking it in the air, "and this ring, were given me for him
just now by the lady, who made a false step on leaving your house. If
I'd been in the way, instead of Jonathan Wild, that accident wouldn't
have happened."

As he said this, a slight noise was heard without.

"What's that?" ejaculated the ruffian, glancing uneasily towards the
window. "Who's there?--Pshaw! it's only the wind."

"It's Jonathan Wild," returned the widow, endeavouring to alarm him. "I
told you I was not unprotected."

"_He_ protect _you_," retorted Blueskin, maliciously; "you haven't a
worse enemy on the face of the earth than Jonathan Wild. If you'd read
your husband's dying speech, you'd know that he laid his death at
Jonathan's door,--and with reason too, as I can testify."

"Man!" screamed Mrs. Sheppard, with a vehemence that shook even the
hardened wretch beside her, "begone, and tempt me not."

"What should I tempt you to?" asked Blueskin, in surprise.

"To--to--no matter what," returned the widow distractedly. "Go--go!"

"I see what you mean," rejoined Blueskin, tossing a large case-knife,
which he took from his pocket, in the air, and catching it dexterously
by the haft as it fell; "you owe Jonathan a grudge;--so do I. He hanged
your first husband. Just speak the word," he added, drawing the knife
significantly across his throat, "and I'll put it out of his power to do
the same by your second. But d--n him! let's talk o' something more
agreeable. Look at this ring;--it's a diamond, and worth a mint o'
money. It shall be your wedding ring. Look at it, I say. The lady's
name's engraved inside, but so small I can scarcely read it.
A-L-I-V-A--Aliva--T-R-E-N--Trencher that's it. Aliva Trencher."

"Aliva Trenchard!" exclaimed Mrs. Sheppard, hastily; "is that the
name?"

"Ay, ay, now I look again it _is_ Trenchard. How came you to know it?
Have you heard the name before?"

"I think I have--long, long ago, when I was a child," replied Mrs.
Sheppard, passing her hand across her brow; "but my memory is
gone--quite gone. Where _can_ I have heard it!"

"Devil knows," rejoined Blueskin. "Let it pass. The ring's yours, and
you're mine. Here, put it on your finger."

Mrs. Sheppard snatched back her hand from his grasp, and exerted all her
force to repel his advances.

"Set down the kid," roared Blueskin, savagely.

"Mercy!" screamed Mrs. Sheppard, struggling to escape, and holding the
infant at arm's length; "have mercy on this helpless innocent!"

And the child, alarmed by the strife, added its feeble cries to its
mother's shrieks.

"Set it down, I tell you," thundered Blueskin, "or I shall do it a
mischief."

"Never!" cried Mrs. Sheppard.

Uttering a terrible imprecation, Blueskin placed the knife between his
teeth, and endeavoured to seize the poor woman by the throat. In the
struggle her cap fell off. The ruffian caught hold of her hair, and held
her fast. The chamber rang with her shrieks. But her cries, instead of
moving her assailant's compassion, only added to his fury. Planting his
knee against her side, he pulled her towards him with one hand, while
with the other he sought his knife. The child was now within reach; and,
in another moment, he would have executed his deadly purpose, if an arm
from behind had not felled him to the ground.

When Mrs. Sheppard, who had been stricken down by the blow that
prostrated her assailant, looked up, she perceived Jonathan Wild
kneeling beside the body of Blueskin. He was holding the ring to the
light, and narrowly examining the inscription.

"Trenchard," he muttered; "Aliva Trenchard--they were right, then, as
to the name. Well, if she survives the accident--as the blood, who
styles himself Sir Cecil, fancies she may do--this ring will make my
fortune by leading to the discovery of the chief parties concerned in
this strange affair."

"Is the poor lady alive?" asked Mrs. Sheppard, eagerly.

"'Sblood!" exclaimed Jonathan, hastily thrusting the ring into his vest,
and taking up a heavy horseman's pistol with which he had felled
Blueskin,--"I thought you'd been senseless."

"Is she alive?" repeated the widow.

"What's that to you?" demanded Jonathan, gruffly.

"Oh, nothing--nothing," returned Mrs. Sheppard. "But pray tell me if her
husband has escaped?"

"Her husband!" echoed Jonathan scornfully. "A _husband_ has little to
fear from his wife's kinsfolk. Her _lover_, Darrell, has embarked upon
the Thames, where, if he's not capsized by the squall, (for it's blowing
like the devil,) he stands a good chance of getting his throat cut by
his pursuers--ha! ha! I tracked 'em to the banks of the river, and
should have followed to see it out, if the watermen hadn't refused to
take me. However, as things have turned up, it's fortunate that I came
back."

"It is, indeed," replied Mrs. Sheppard; "most fortunate for me."

"For _you_!" exclaimed Jonathan; "don't flatter yourself that I'm
thinking of you. Blueskin might have butchered you and your brat before
I'd have lifted a finger to prevent him, if it hadn't suited my purposes
to do so, and _he_ hadn't incurred my displeasure. I never forgive an
injury. Your husband could have told you that."

"How had he offended you?" inquired the widow.

"I'll tell you," answered Jonathan, sternly. "He thwarted my schemes
twice. The first time, I overlooked the offence; but the second time,
when I had planned to break open the house of his master, the fellow who
visited you to-night,--Wood, the carpenter of Wych Street,--he betrayed
me. I told him I would bring him to the gallows, and I was as good as my
word."

"You were so," replied Mrs Sheppard; "and for that wicked deed you will
one day be brought to the gallows yourself."

"Not before I have conducted your child thither," retorted Jonathan,
with a withering look.

"Ah!" ejaculated Mrs. Sheppard, paralysed by the threat.

"If that sickly brat lives to be a man," continued Jonathan, rising,
"I'll hang him upon the same tree as his father."

"Pity!" shrieked the widow.

"I'll be his evil genius!" vociferated Jonathan, who seemed to enjoy her
torture.

"Begone, wretch!" cried the mother, stung beyond endurance by his
taunts; "or I will drive you hence with my curses."

"Curse on, and welcome," jeered Wild.

Mrs. Sheppard raised her hand, and the malediction trembled upon her
tongue. But ere the words could find utterance, her maternal tenderness
overcame her indignation; and, sinking upon her knees, she extended her
arms over her child.

"A mother's prayers--a mother's blessings," she cried, with the fervour
almost of inspiration, "will avail against a fiend's malice."

"We shall see," rejoined Jonathan, turning carelessly upon his heel.

And, as he quitted the room, the poor widow fell with her face upon the
floor.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: At the hospital of Saint Giles for Lazars, the prisoners
conveyed from the City of London towards Tyburn, there to be executed
for treasons, felonies, or other trespasses, were presented with a Bowl
of Ale, thereof to drink, as their last refreshing in this
life.--_Strype's Stow._ Book. IX. ch. III.]




CHAPTER VI.

The Storm.


As soon as he was liberated by his persecutors, Mr. Wood set off at full
speed from the Mint, and, hurrying he scarce knew whither (for there was
such a continual buzzing in his ears and dancing in his eyes, as almost
to take away the power of reflection), he held on at a brisk pace till
his strength completely failed him.

On regaining his breath, he began to consider whither chance had led
him; and, rubbing his eyes to clear his sight, he perceived a sombre
pile, with a lofty tower and broad roof, immediately in front of him.
This structure at once satisfied him as to where he stood. He knew it to
be St. Saviour's Church. As he looked up at the massive tower, the clock
tolled forth the hour of midnight. The solemn strokes were immediately
answered by a multitude of chimes, sounding across the Thames, amongst
which the deep note of Saint Paul's was plainly distinguishable. A
feeling of inexplicable awe crept over the carpenter as the sounds died
away. He trembled, not from any superstitious dread, but from an
undefined sense of approaching danger. The peculiar appearance of the
sky was not without some influence in awakening these terrors. Over one
of the pinnacles of the tower a speck of pallid light marked the
position of the moon, then newly born and newly risen. It was still
profoundly dark; but the wind, which had begun to blow with some
violence, chased the clouds rapidly across the heavens, and dispersed
the vapours hanging nearer the earth. Sometimes the moon was totally
eclipsed; at others, it shed a wan and ghastly glimmer over the masses
rolling in the firmament. Not a star could be discerned, but, in their
stead, streaks of lurid radiance, whence proceeding it was impossible to
determine, shot ever and anon athwart the dusky vault, and added to the
ominous and threatening appearance of the night.

Alarmed by these prognostications of a storm, and feeling too much
exhausted from his late severe treatment to proceed further on foot,
Wood endeavoured to find a tavern where he might warm and otherwise
refresh himself. With this view he struck off into a narrow street on
the left, and soon entered a small alehouse, over the door of which hung
the sign of the "Welsh Trumpeter."

"Let me have a glass of brandy," said he, addressing the host.

"Too late, master," replied the landlord of the Trumpeter, in a surly
tone, for he did not much like the appearance of his customer; "just
shut up shop."

"Zounds! David Pugh, don't you know your old friend and countryman?"
exclaimed the carpenter.

"Ah! Owen Wood, is it you?" cried David in astonishment. "What the devil
makes you out so late? And what has happened to you, man, eh?--you seem
in a queer plight."

"Give me the brandy, and I'll tell you," replied Wood.

"Here, wife--hostess--fetch me that bottle from the second shelf in the
corner cupboard.--There, Mr. Wood," cried David, pouring out a glass of
the spirit, and offering it to the carpenter, "that'll warm the cockles
of your heart. Don't be afraid, man,--off with it. It's right Nantz. I
keep it for my own drinking," he added in a lower tone.

Mr. Wood having disposed of the brandy, and pronounced himself much
better, hurried close to the fire-side, and informed his friend in a few
words of the inhospitable treatment he had experienced from the
gentlemen of the Mint; whereupon Mr. Pugh, who, as well as the
carpenter, was a descendant of Cadwallader, waxed extremely wrath; gave
utterance to a number of fierce-sounding imprecations in the Welsh
tongue; and was just beginning to express the greatest anxiety to catch
some of the rascals at the Trumpeter, when Mr. Wood cut him short by
stating his intention of crossing the river as soon as possible in order
to avoid the storm.

"A storm!" exclaimed the landlord. "Gadzooks! I thought something was
coming on; for when I looked at the weather-glass an hour ago, it had
sunk lower than I ever remember it."

"We shall have a durty night on it, to a sartinty, landlord," observed
an old one-eyed sailor, who sat smoking his pipe by the fire-side. "The
glass never sinks in that way, d'ye see, without a hurricane follerin',
I've knowed it often do so in the West Injees. Moreover, a souple o'
porpusses came up with the tide this mornin', and ha' bin flounderin'
about i' the Thames abuv Lunnun Bridge all day long; and them
say-monsters, you know, always proves sure fore runners of a gale."

"Then the sooner I'm off the better," cried Wood; "what's to pay,
David?"

"Don't affront me, Owen, by asking such a question," returned the
landlord; "hadn't you better stop and finish the bottle?"

"Not a drop more," replied Wood. "Enough's as good as a feast. Good
night!"

"Well, if you won't be persuaded, and must have a boat, Owen," observed
the landlord, "there's a waterman asleep on that bench will help you to
as tidy a craft as any on the Thames. Halloa, Ben!" cried he, shaking a
broad-backed fellow, equipped in a short-skirted doublet, and having a
badge upon his arm,--"scullers wanted."

"Holloa! my hearty!" cried Ben, starting to his feet.

"This gentleman wants a pair of oars," said the landlord.

"Where to, master?" asked Ben, touching his woollen cap.

"Arundel Stairs," replied Wood, "the nearest point to Wych Street."

"Come along, master," said the waterman.

"Hark 'ee, Ben," said the old sailor, knocking the ashes from his pipe
upon the hob; "you may try, but dash my timbers if you'll ever cross the
Thames to-night."

"And why not, old saltwater?" inquired Ben, turning a quid in his mouth.

"'Cos there's a gale a-getting up as'll perwent you, young freshwater,"
replied the tar.

"It must look sharp then, or I shall give it the slip," laughed Ben:
"the gale never yet blowed as could perwent my crossing the Thames. The
weather's been foul enough for the last fortnight, but I've never turned
my back upon it."

"May be not," replied the old sailor, drily; "but you'll find it too
stiff for you to-night, anyhow. Howsomdever, if you _should_ reach
t'other side, take an old feller's advice, and don't be foolhardy enough
to venter back again."

"I tell 'ee what, saltwater," said Ben, "I'll lay you my fare--and
that'll be two shillin'--I'm back in an hour."

"Done!" cried the old sailor. "But vere'll be the use o' vinnin'? you
von't live to pay me."

"Never fear," replied Ben, gravely; "dead or alive I'll pay you, if I
lose. There's my thumb upon it. Come along, master."

"I tell 'ee what, landlord," observed the old sailor, quietly
replenishing his pipe from a huge pewter tobacco-box, as the waterman
and Wood quitted the house, "you've said good-b'ye to your friend."

"Odd's me! do you think so?" cried the host of the Trumpeter. "I'll run
and bring him back. He's a Welshman, and I wouldn't for a trifle that
any accident befel him."

"Never mind," said the old sailor, taking up a piece of blazing coal
with the tongs, and applying it to his pipe; "let 'em try. They'll be
back soon enough--or not at all."

Mr. Wood and the waterman, meanwhile, proceeded in the direction of St.
Saviour's Stairs. Casting a hasty glance at the old and ruinous prison
belonging to the liberty of the Bishop of Winchester (whose palace
formerly adjoined the river), called the Clink, which gave its name to
the street, along which he walked: and noticing, with some uneasiness,
the melancholy manner in which the wind whistled through its barred
casements, the carpenter followed his companion down an opening to the
right, and presently arrived at the water-side.

Moored to the steps, several wherries were dancing in the rushing
current, as if impatient of restraint. Into one of these the waterman
jumped, and, having assisted Mr. Wood to a seat within it, immediately
pushed from land. Ben had scarcely adjusted his oars, when the gleam of
a lantern was seen moving towards the bank. A shout was heard at a
little distance, and, the next moment, a person rushed with breathless
haste to the stair-head.

"Boat there!" cried a voice, which Mr. Wood fancied he recognised.

"You'll find a waterman asleep under his tilt in one of them ere craft,
if you look about, Sir," replied Ben, backing water as he spoke.

"Can't you take me with you?" urged the voice; "I'll make it well worth
your while. I've a child here whom I wish to convey across the water
without loss of time."

"A child!" thought Wood; it must be the fugitive Darrell. "Hold hard,"
cried he, addressing the waterman; "I'll give the gentleman a lift."

"Unpossible, master," rejoined Ben; "the tide's running down like a
mill-sluice, and the wind's right in our teeth. Old saltwater was right.
We shall have a reg'lar squall afore we gets across. D'ye hear how the
wanes creaks on old Winchester House? We shall have a touch on it
ourselves presently. But I shall lose my wager if I stay a moment
longer--so here goes." Upon which, he plunged his oars deeply into the
stream, and the bark shot from the strand.

Mr. Wood's anxiety respecting the fugitive was speedily relieved by
hearing another waterman busy himself in preparation for starting; and,
shortly after, the dip of a second pair of oars sounded upon the river.

"Curse me, if I don't think all the world means to cross the Thames this
fine night," observed Ben. "One'd think it rained fares, as well as
blowed great guns. Why, there's another party on the stair-head
inquiring arter scullers; and, by the mass! they appear in a greater
hurry than any on us."

His attention being thus drawn to the bank, the carpenter beheld three
figures, one of whom bore a torch, leap into a wherry of a larger size
than the others, which immediately put off from shore. Manned by a
couple of watermen, who rowed with great swiftness, this wherry dashed
through the current in the track of the fugitive, of whom it was
evidently in pursuit, and upon whom it perceptibly gained. Mr. Wood
strained his eyes to catch a glimpse of the flying skiff. But he could
only discern a black and shapeless mass, floating upon the water at a
little distance, which, to his bewildered fancy, appeared absolutely
standing still. To the practised eye of the waterman matters wore a very
different air. He perceived clearly enough, that the chase was moving
quickly; and he was also aware, from the increased rapidity with which
the oars were urged, that every exertion was made on board to get out of
the reach of her pursuers. At one moment, it seemed as if the flying
bark was about to put to shore. But this plan (probably from its danger)
was instantly abandoned; not, however, before her momentary hesitation
had been taken advantage of by her pursuers, who, redoubling their
efforts at this juncture, materially lessened the distance between them.

Ben watched these manoeuvres with great interest, and strained every
sinew in his frame to keep ahead of the other boats.

"Them's catchpoles, I s'pose, Sir, arter the gemman with a writ?" he
observed.

"Something worse, I fear," Wood replied.

"Why, you don't think as how they're crimps, do you?" Ben inquired.

"I don't know what I think," Wood answered sulkily; and he bent his eyes
upon the water, as if he wished to avert his attention forcibly from the
scene.

There is something that inspires a feeling of inexpressible melancholy
in sailing on a dark night upon the Thames. The sounds that reach the
ear, and the objects that meet the eye, are all calculated to awaken a
train of sad and serious contemplation. The ripple of the water against
the boat, as its keel cleaves through the stream--the darkling current
hurrying by--the indistinctly-seen craft, of all forms and all sizes,
hovering around, and making their way in ghost-like silence, or warning
each other of their approach by cries, that, heard from afar, have
something doleful in their note--the solemn shadows cast by the
bridges--the deeper gloom of the echoing arches--the lights glimmering
from the banks--the red reflection thrown upon the waves by a fire
kindled on some stationary barge--the tall and fantastic shapes of the
houses, as discerned through the obscurity;--these, and other sights and
sounds of the same character, give a sombre colour to the thoughts of
one who may choose to indulge in meditation at such a time and in such a
place.

But it was otherwise with the carpenter. This was no night for the
indulgence of dreamy musing. It was a night of storm and terror, which
promised each moment to become more stormy and more terrible. Not a bark
could be discerned on the river, except those already mentioned. The
darkness was almost palpable; and the wind which, hitherto, had been
blowing in gusts, was suddenly lulled. It was a dead calm. But this calm
was more awful than the previous roaring of the blast.

Amid this portentous hush, the report of a pistol reached the
carpenter's ears; and, raising his head at the sound, he beheld a sight
which filled him with fresh apprehensions.

By the light of a torch borne at the stern of the hostile wherry, he saw
that the pursuers had approached within a short distance of the object
of their quest. The shot had taken effect upon the waterman who rowed
the chase. He had abandoned his oars, and the boat was drifting with the
stream towards the enemy. Escape was now impossible. Darrell stood erect
in the bark, with his drawn sword in hand, prepared to repel the attack
of his assailants, who, in their turn, seemed to await with impatience
the moment which should deliver him into their power.

They had not to tarry long. In another instant, the collision took
place. The watermen, who manned the larger wherry, immediately shipped
their oars, grappled with the drifting skiff, and held it fast. Wood,
then, beheld two persons, one of whom he recognised as Rowland, spring
on board the chase. A fierce struggle ensued. There was a shrill cry,
instantly succeeded by a deep splash.

"Put about, waterman, for God's sake!" cried Wood, whose humanity got
the better of every personal consideration; "some one is overboard. Give
way, and let us render what assistance we can to the poor wretch."

"It's all over with him by this time, master," replied Ben, turning the
head of his boat, and rowing swiftly towards the scene of strife; "but
d--n him, he was the chap as hit poor Bill Thomson just now, and I don't
much care if he should be food for fishes."

As Ben spoke, they drew near the opposing parties. The contest was now
carried on between Rowland and Darrell. The latter had delivered himself
from one of his assailants, the attendant, Davies. Hurled over the sides
of the skiff, the ruffian speedily found a watery grave. It was a
spring-tide at half ebb; and the current, which was running fast and
furiously, bore him instantly away. While the strife raged between the
principals, the watermen in the larger wherry were occupied in stemming
the force of the torrent, and endeavouring to keep the boats, they had
lashed together, stationary. Owing to this circumstance, Mr. Wood's
boat, impelled alike by oar and tide, shot past the mark at which it
aimed; and before it could be again brought about, the struggle had
terminated. For a few minutes, Darrell seemed to have the advantage in
the conflict. Neither combatant could use his sword; and in strength the
fugitive was evidently superior to his antagonist. The boat rocked
violently with the struggle. Had it not been lashed to the adjoining
wherry, it must have been upset, and have precipitated the opponents
into the water. Rowland felt himself sinking beneath the powerful grasp
of his enemy. He called to the other attendant, who held the torch.
Understanding the appeal, the man snatched his master's sword from his
grasp, and passed it through Darrell's body. The next moment, a heavy
plunge told that the fugitive had been consigned to the waves.

Darrell, however, rose again instantly; and though mortally wounded,
made a desperate effort to regain the boat.

"My child!" he groaned faintly.

"Well reminded," answered Rowland, who had witnessed his struggles with
a smile of gratified vengeance; "I had forgotten the accursed imp in
this confusion. Take it," he cried, lifting the babe from the bottom of
the boat, and flinging it towards its unfortunate father.

The child fell within a short distance of Darrell, who, hearing the
splash, struck out in that direction, and caught it before it sank. At
this juncture, the sound of oars reached his ears, and he perceived Mr.
Wood's boat bearing up towards him.

"Here he is, waterman," exclaimed the benevolent carpenter. "I see
him!--row for your life!"

"That's the way to miss him, master," replied Ben coolly. "We must keep
still. The tide'll bring him to us fast enough."

Ben judged correctly. Borne along by the current, Darrell was instantly
at the boat's side.

"Seize this oar," vociferated the waterman.

"First take the child," cried Darrell, holding up the infant, and
clinging to the oar with a dying effort.

"Give it me," returned the carpenter; "all's safe. Now lend me your own
hand."

"My strength fails me," gasped the fugitive. "I cannot climb the boat.
Take my child to--it is--oh God!--I am sinking--take it--take it!"

"Where?" shouted Wood.

Darrell attempted to reply. But he could only utter an inarticulate
exclamation. The next moment his grasp relaxed, and he sank to rise no
more.

Rowland, meantime, alarmed by the voices, snatched a torch from his
attendant, and holding it over the side of the wherry, witnessed the
incident just described.

"Confusion!" cried he; "there is another boat in our wake. They have
rescued the child. Loose the wherry, and stand to your oars--quick--quick!"

These commands were promptly obeyed. The boat was set free, and the men
resumed their seats. Rowland's purposes were, however, defeated in a
manner as unexpected as appalling.

During the foregoing occurrences a dead calm prevailed. But as Rowland
sprang to the helm, and gave the signal for pursuit, a roar like a
volley of ordnance was heard aloft, and the wind again burst its
bondage. A moment before, the surface of the stream was black as ink. It
was now whitening, hissing, and seething like an enormous cauldron. The
blast once more swept over the agitated river: whirled off the sheets of
foam, scattered them far and wide in rain-drops, and left the raging
torrent blacker than before. The gale had become a hurricane: that
hurricane was the most terrible that ever laid waste our city.
Destruction everywhere marked its course. Steeples toppled, and towers
reeled beneath its fury. Trees were torn up by the roots; many houses
were levelled to the ground; others were unroofed; the leads on the
churches were ripped off, and "shrivelled up like scrolls of parchment."
Nothing on land or water was spared by the remorseless gale. Most of the
vessels lying in the river were driven from their moorings, dashed
tumultuously against each other, or blown ashore. All was darkness,
horror, confusion, ruin. Men fled from their tottering habitations, and
returned to them scared by greater dangers. The end of the world seemed
at hand.

At this time of universal havoc and despair,--when all London quaked at
the voice of the storm,--the carpenter, who was exposed to its utmost
fury, fared better than might have been anticipated. The boat in which
he rode was not overset. Fortunately, her course had been shifted
immediately after the rescue of the child; and, in consequence of this
movement, she received the first shock of the hurricane, which blew from
the southwest, upon her stern. Her head dipped deeply into the current,
and she narrowly escaped being swamped. Righting, however, instantly
afterwards, she scudded with the greatest rapidity over the boiling
waves, to whose mercy she was now entirely abandoned. On this fresh
outburst of the storm, Wood threw himself instinctively into the bottom
of the boat, and clasping the little orphan to his breast, endeavoured
to prepare himself to meet his fate.

While he was thus occupied, he felt a rough grasp upon his arm, and
presently afterwards Ben's lips approached close to his ear. The
waterman sheltered his mouth with his hand while he spoke, or his voice
would have been carried away by the violence of the blast.

"It's all up, master," groaned Ben, "nothin' short of a merracle can
save us. The boat's sure to run foul o' the bridge; and if she 'scapes
stavin' above, she'll be swamped to a sartainty below. There'll be a
fall of above twelve foot o' water, and think o' that on a night as 'ud
blow a whole fleet to the devil."

Mr. Wood _did_ think of it, and groaned aloud.

"Heaven help us!" he exclaimed; "we were mad to neglect the old sailor's
advice."

"That's what troubles me," rejoined Ben. "I tell 'ee what, master, if
you're more fortinate nor I am, and get ashore, give old saltwater your
fare. I pledged my thumb that, dead or alive, I'd pay the wager if I
lost; and I should like to be as good as my word."

"I will--I will," replied Wood hastily. "Was that thunder?" he faltered,
as a terrible clap was heard overhead.

"No; it's only a fresh gale," Ben returned: "hark! now it comes."

"Lord have mercy upon us, miserable sinners!" ejaculated Wood, as a
fearful gust dashed the water over the side of the boat, deluging him
with spray.

The hurricane had now reached its climax. The blast shrieked, as if
exulting in its wrathful mission. Stunning and continuous, the din
seemed almost to take away the power of hearing. He, who had faced the
gale, would have been instantly stifled. Piercing through every crevice
in the clothes, it, in some cases, tore them from the wearer's limbs, or
from his grasp. It penetrated the skin; benumbed the flesh; paralysed
the faculties. The intense darkness added to the terror of the storm.
The destroying angel hurried by, shrouded in his gloomiest apparel. None
saw, though all felt, his presence, and heard the thunder of his voice.
Imagination, coloured by the obscurity, peopled the air with phantoms.
Ten thousand steeds appeared to be trampling aloft, charged with the
work of devastation. Awful shapes seemed to flit by, borne on the wings
of the tempest, animating and directing its fury. The actual danger was
lost sight of in these wild apprehensions; and many timorous beings were
scared beyond reason's verge by the excess of their fears.

This had well nigh been the case with the carpenter. He was roused from
the stupor of despair into which he had sunk by the voice of Ben, who
roared in his ear, "The bridge!--the bridge!"




CHAPTER VII.

Old London Bridge.


London, at the period of this history, boasted only a single bridge. But
that bridge was more remarkable than any the metropolis now possesses.
Covered with houses, from one end to the other, this reverend and
picturesque structure presented the appearance of a street across the
Thames. It was as if Grace-church Street, with all its shops, its
magazines, and ceaseless throng of passengers, were stretched from the
Middlesex to the Surrey shore. The houses were older, the shops
gloomier, and the thoroughfare narrower, it is true; but the bustle, the
crowd, the street-like air was the same. Then the bridge had arched
gateways, bristling with spikes, and garnished (as all ancient gateways
ought to be) with the heads of traitors. In olden days it boasted a
chapel, dedicated to Saint Thomas; beneath which there was a crypt
curiously constructed amid the arches, where "was sepultured Peter the
Chaplain of Colechurch, who began the Stone Bridge at London:" and it
still boasted an edifice (though now in rather a tumbledown condition)
which had once vied with a palace,--we mean Nonesuch House. The other
buildings stood close together in rows; and so valuable was every inch
of room accounted, that, in many cases, cellars, and even habitable
apartments, were constructed in the solid masonry of the piers.

Old London Bridge (the grandsire of the present erection) was supported
on nineteen arches, each of which

    Would a Rialto make for depth and height!

The arches stood upon enormous piers; the piers on starlings, or
jetties, built far out into the river to break the force of the tide.

Roused by Ben's warning, the carpenter looked up and could just perceive
the dusky outline of the bridge looming through the darkness, and
rendered indistinctly visible by the many lights that twinkled from the
windows of the lofty houses. As he gazed at these lights, they suddenly
seemed to disappear, and a tremendous shock was felt throughout the
frame of the boat. Wood started to his feet. He found that the skiff had
been dashed against one of the buttresses of the bridge.

"Jump!" cried Ben, in a voice of thunder.

Wood obeyed. His fears supplied him with unwonted vigour. Though the
starling was more than two feet above the level of the water, he
alighted with his little charge--which he had never for an instant
quitted--in safety upon it. Poor Ben was not so fortunate. Just as he
was preparing to follow, the wherry containing Rowland and his men,
which had drifted in their wake, was dashed against his boat. The
violence of the collision nearly threw him backwards, and caused him to
swerve as he sprang. His foot touched the rounded edge of the starling,
and glanced off, precipitating him into the water. As he fell, he caught
at the projecting masonry. But the stone was slippery; and the tide,
which here began to feel the influence of the fall, was running with
frightful velocity. He could not make good his hold. But, uttering a
loud cry, he was swept away by the headlong torrent.

Mr. Wood heard the cry. But his own situation was too perilous to admit
of his rendering any assistance to the ill-fated waterman. He fancied,
indeed, that he beheld a figure spring upon the starling at the moment
when the boats came in contact; but, as he could perceive no one near
him, he concluded he must have been mistaken.

In order to make Mr. Wood's present position, and subsequent proceedings
fully intelligible, it may be necessary to give some notion of the shape
and structure of the platform on which he had taken refuge. It has been
said, that the pier of each arch, or lock of Old London Bridge, was
defended from the force of the tide by a huge projecting spur called a
starling. These starlings varied in width, according to the bulk of the
pier they surrounded. But they were all pretty nearly of the same
length, and built somewhat after the model of a boat, having extremities
as sharp and pointed as the keel of a canoe. Cased and ribbed with
stone, and braced with horizontal beams of timber, the piles, which
formed the foundation of these jetties, had resisted the strong
encroachments of the current for centuries. Some of them are now buried
at the bottom of the Thames. The starling, on which the carpenter stood,
was the fourth from the Surrey shore. It might be three yards in width,
and a few more in length; but it was covered with ooze and slime, and
the waves continually broke over it. The transverse spars before
mentioned were as slippery as ice; and the hollows between them were
filled ankle-deep with water.

The carpenter threw himself flat upon the starling to avoid the fury of
the wind. But in this posture he fared worse than ever. If he ran less
risk of being blown over, he stood a much greater chance of being washed
off, or stifled. As he lay on his back, he fancied himself gradually
slipping off the platform. Springing to his feet in an ecstasy of
terror, he stumbled, and had well nigh realized his worst apprehensions.
He, next, tried to clamber up the flying buttresses and soffits of the
pier, in the hope of reaching some of the windows and other apertures
with which, as a man-of-war is studded with port-holes, the sides of the
bridge were pierced. But this wild scheme was speedily abandoned; and,
nerved by despair, the carpenter resolved to hazard an attempt, from the
execution, almost from the contemplation, of which he had hitherto
shrunk. This was to pass under the arch, along the narrow ledge of the
starling, and, if possible, attain the eastern platform, where,
protected by the bridge, he would suffer less from the excessive
violence of the gale.

Assured, if he remained much longer where he was, he would inevitably
perish, Wood recommended himself to the protection of Heaven, and began
his perilous course. Carefully sustaining the child which, even in that
terrible extremity, he had not the heart to abandon, he fell upon his
knees, and, guiding himself with his right hand, crept slowly on. He had
scarcely entered the arch, when the indraught was so violent, and the
noise of the wind so dreadful and astounding, that he almost determined
to relinquish the undertaking. But the love of life prevailed over his
fears. He went on.

The ledge, along which he crawled, was about a foot wide. In length the
arch exceeded seventy feet. To the poor carpenter it seemed an endless
distance. When, by slow and toilsome efforts, he had arrived midway,
something obstructed his further progress. It was a huge stone placed
there by some workmen occupied in repairing the structure. Cold drops
stood upon Wood's brow, as he encountered this obstacle. To return was
impossible,--to raise himself certain destruction. He glanced downwards
at the impetuous torrent, which he could perceive shooting past him with
lightning swiftness in the gloom. He listened to the thunder of the fall
now mingling with the roar of the blast; and, driven almost frantic by
what he heard and saw, he pushed with all his force against the stone.
To his astonishment and delight it yielded to the pressure, toppled over
the ledge, and sank. Such was the hubbub and tumult around him, that
the carpenter could not hear its plunge into the flood. His course,
however, was no longer interrupted, and he crept on.

After encountering other dangers, and being twice, compelled to fling
himself flat upon his face to avoid slipping from the wet and slimy
pathway, he was at length about to emerge from the lock, when, to his
inexpressible horror, he found he had lost the child!

All the blood in his veins rushed to his heart, and he shook in every
limb as he made this discovery. A species of vertigo seized him. His
brain reeled. He fancied that the whole fabric of the bridge was
cracking over head,--that the arch was tumbling upon him,--that the
torrent was swelling around him, whirling him off, and about to bury him
in the deafening abyss. He shrieked with agony, and clung with desperate
tenacity to the roughened stones. But calmer thoughts quickly succeeded.
On taxing his recollection, the whole circumstance rushed to mind with
painful distinctness. He remembered that, before he attempted to
dislodge the stone, he had placed the child in a cavity of the pier,
which the granite mass had been intended to fill. This obstacle being
removed, in his eagerness to proceed, he had forgotten to take his
little charge with him. It was still possible the child might be in
safety. And so bitterly did the carpenter reproach himself with his
neglect, that he resolved, at all risks, to go back in search of it.
Acting upon this humane determination, he impelled himself slowly
backwards,--for he did not dare to face the blast,--and with incredible
labour and fatigue reached the crevice. His perseverance was amply
rewarded. The child was still safe. It lay undisturbed in the remotest
corner of the recess.

So overjoyed was the carpenter with the successful issue of his
undertaking, that he scarcely paused a moment to recruit himself; but,
securing the child, set out upon his return. Retracing his steps, he
arrived, without further accident, at the eastern platform of the
starling. As he anticipated, he was here comparatively screened from the
fury of the wind; and when he gazed upon the roaring fall beneath him,
visible through the darkness in a glistening sheet of foam, his heart
overflowed with gratitude for his providential deliverance.

As he moved about upon the starling, Mr. Wood became sensible that he
was not alone. Some one was standing beside him. This, then, must be the
person whom he had seen spring upon the western platform at the time of
the collision between the boats. The carpenter well knew from the
obstacle which had interfered with his own progress, that the unknown
could not have passed through the same lock as himself. But he might
have crept along the left side of the pier, and beneath the further
arch; whereas, Wood, as we have seen, took his course upon the right.
The darkness prevented the carpenter from discerning the features or
figure of the stranger; and the ceaseless din precluded the possibility
of holding any communication by words with him. Wood, however, made
known his presence to the individual by laying his hand upon his
shoulder. The stranger started at the touch, and spoke. But his words
were borne away by the driving wind.

Finding all attempts at conversation with his companion in misfortune in
vain, Wood, in order to distract his thoughts, looked up at the gigantic
structure standing, like a wall of solid darkness, before him. What was
his transport on perceiving that a few yards above him a light was
burning. The carpenter did not hesitate a moment. He took a handful of
the gravelly mud, with which the platform was covered, and threw the
small pebbles, one by one, towards the gleam. A pane of glass was
shivered by each stone. The signal of distress was evidently understood.
The light disappeared. The window was shortly after opened, and a rope
ladder, with a lighted horn lantern attached to it, let down.

Wood grasped his companion's arm to attract his attention to this
unexpected means of escape. The ladder was now within reach. Both
advanced towards it, when, by the light of the lantern, Wood beheld, in
the countenance of the stranger, the well-remembered and stern features
of Rowland.

The carpenter trembled; for he perceived Rowland's gaze fixed first
upon the infant, and then on himself.

"It _is_ her child!" shrieked Rowland, in a voice heard above the
howling of the tempest, "risen from this roaring abyss to torment me.
Its parents have perished. And shall their wretched offspring live to
blight my hopes, and blast my fame? Never!" And, with these words, he
grasped Wood by the throat, and, despite his resistance, dragged him to
the very verge of the platform.

All this juncture, a thundering crash was heard against the side of the
bridge. A stack of chimneys, on the house above them, had yielded to the
storm, and descended in a shower of bricks and stones.

When the carpenter a moment afterwards stretched out his hand, scarcely
knowing whether he was alive or dead, he found himself alone. The fatal
shower, from which he and his little charge escaped uninjured, had
stricken his assailant and precipitated him into the boiling gulf.

"It's an ill wind that blows nobody good," thought the carpenter,
turning his attention to the child, whose feeble struggles and cries
proclaimed that, as yet, life had not been extinguished by the hardships
it had undergone. "Poor little creature!" he muttered, pressing it
tenderly to his breast, as he grasped the rope and clambered up to the
window: "if thou hast, indeed, lost both thy parents, as that terrible
man said just now, thou art not wholly friendless and deserted, for I
myself will be a father to thee! And in memory of this dreadful night,
and the death from which I have, been the means of preserving thee, thou
shalt bear the name of THAMES DARRELL."

No sooner had Wood crept through the window, than nature gave way, and
he fainted. On coming to himself, he found he had been wrapped in a
blanket and put to bed with a couple of hot bricks to his feet. His
first inquiries were concerning the child, and he was delighted to find
that it still lived and was doing well. Every care had been taken of it,
as well as of himself, by the humane inmates of the house in which he
had sought shelter.

About noon, next day, he was able to move; and the gale having abated,
he set out homewards with his little charge.

The city presented a terrible picture of devastation. London Bridge had
suffered a degree less than most places. But it was almost choked up
with fallen stacks of chimneys, broken beams of timber, and shattered
tiles. The houses overhung in a frightful manner, and looked as if the
next gust would precipitate them into the river. With great difficulty,
Wood forced a path through the ruins. It was a work of no slight danger,
for every instant a wall, or fragment of a building, came crashing to
the ground. Thames Street was wholly impassable. Men were going hither
and thither with barrows, and ladders and ropes, removing the rubbish,
and trying to support the tottering habitations. Grace-church Street was
entirely deserted, except by a few stragglers, whose curiosity got the
better of their fears; or who, like the carpenter, were compelled to
proceed along it. The tiles lay a foot thick in the road. In some cases
they were ground almost to powder; in others, driven deeply into the
earth, as if discharged from a piece of ordnance. The roofs and gables
of many of the houses had been torn off. The signs of the shops were
carried to incredible distances. Here and there, a building might be
seen with the doors and windows driven in, and all access to it
prevented by the heaps of bricks and tilesherds.

Through this confusion the carpenter struggled on;--now ascending, now
descending the different mountains of rubbish that beset his path, at
the imminent peril of his life and limbs, until he arrived in Fleet
Street. The hurricane appeared to have raged in this quarter with
tenfold fury. Mr. Wood scarcely knew where he was. The old aspect of the
place was gone. In lieu of the substantial habitations which he had
gazed on overnight, he beheld a row of falling scaffoldings, for such
they seemed.

It was a dismal and depressing sight to see a great city thus suddenly
overthrown; and the carpenter was deeply moved by the spectacle. As
usual, however, on the occasion of any great calamity, a crowd was
scouring the streets, whose sole object was plunder. While involved in
this crowd, near Temple Bar,--where the thoroughfare was most dangerous
from the masses of ruin that impeded it,--an individual, whose swarthy
features recalled to the carpenter one of his tormentors of the previous
night, collared him, and, with bitter imprecations accused him of
stealing his child. In vain Wood protested his innocence. The ruffian's
companions took his part. And the infant, in all probability, would have
been snatched from its preserver, if a posse of the watch (sent out to
maintain order and protect property) had not opportunely arrived, and by
a vigorous application of their halberts dispersed his persecutors, and
set him at liberty.

Mr. Wood then took to his heels, and never once looked behind him till
he reached his own dwelling in Wych Street. His wife met him at the
door, and into her hands he delivered his little charge.


END OF THE FIRST EPOCH.





EPOCH THE SECOND.

1715.

THAMES DARRELL.







CHAPTER I.

The Idle Apprentice.


Twelve years! How many events have occurred during that long interval!
how many changes have taken place! The whole aspect of things is
altered. The child has sprung into a youth; the youth has become a man;
the man has already begun to feel the advances of age. Beauty has
bloomed and faded. Fresh flowers of loveliness have budded, expanded,
died. The fashions of the day have become antiquated. New customs have
prevailed over the old. Parties, politics, and popular opinions have
changed. The crown has passed from the brow of one monarch to that of
another. Habits and tastes are no longer the same. We, ourselves, are
scarcely the same we were twelve years ago.

Twelve years ago! It is an awful retrospect. Dare we look back upon the
darkened vista, and, in imagination retrace the path we have trod? With
how many vain hopes is it shaded! with how many good resolutions, never
fulfilled, is it paved! Where are the dreams of ambition in which,
twelve years ago, we indulged? Where are the aspirations that fired
us--the passions that consumed us then? Has our success in life been
commensurate with our own desires--with the anticipations formed of us
by others? Or, are we not blighted in heart, as in ambition? Has not the
loved one been estranged by doubt, or snatched from us by the cold hand
of death? Is not the goal, towards which we pressed, further off than
ever--the prospect before us cheerless as the blank behind?--Enough of
this. Let us proceed with our tale.

Twelve years, then, have elapsed since the date of the occurrences
detailed in the preceding division of this history. At that time, we
were beneath the sway of Anne: we are now at the commencement of the
reign of George the First. Passing at a glance over the whole of the
intervening period; leaving in the words of the poet,

    --The growth untried
    Of that wide gap--

we shall resume our narrative at the beginning of June, 1715.

One Friday afternoon, in this pleasant month, it chanced that Mr. Wood,
who had been absent on business during the greater part of the day,
returned (perhaps not altogether undesignedly) at an earlier hour than
was expected, to his dwelling in Wych Street, Drury Lane; and was about
to enter his workshop, when, not hearing any sound of labour issue from
within, he began to suspect that an apprentice, of whose habits of
industry he entertained some doubt, was neglecting his employment.
Impressed with this idea, he paused for a moment to listen. But finding
all continue silent, he cautiously lifted the latch, and crept into the
room, resolved to punish the offender in case his suspicions should
prove correct.

The chamber, into which he stole, like all carpenters' workshops, was
crowded with the implements and materials of that ancient and honourable
art. Saws, hammers, planes, axes, augers, adzes, chisels, gimblets, and
an endless variety of tools were ranged, like a stand of martial weapons
at an armoury, in racks against the walls. Over these hung levels,
bevels, squares, and other instruments of measurement. Amid a litter of
nails without heads, screws without worms, and locks without wards, lay
a glue-pot and an oilstone, two articles which their owner was wont to
term "his right hand and his left." On a shelf was placed a row of
paint-jars; the contents of which had been daubed in rainbow streaks
upon the adjacent closet and window sill. Divers plans and figures were
chalked upon the walls; and the spaces between them were filled up with
an almanack for the year; a godly ballad, adorned with a rude wood-cut,
purporting to be "_The History of Chaste Susannah_;" an old print of the
Seven Golden Candlesticks; an abstract of the various Acts of Parliament
against drinking, swearing, and all manner of profaneness; and a view of
the interior of Doctor Daniel Burgess's Presbyterian meeting-house in
Russell Court, with portraits of the reverend gentleman and the
principal members of his flock. The floor was thickly strewn with
sawdust and shavings; and across the room ran a long and wide bench,
furnished at one end with a powerful vice; next to which three nails
driven into the boards served, it would appear from the lump of
unconsumed tallow left in their custody, as a substitute for a
candlestick. On the bench was set a quartern measure of gin, a crust of
bread, and a slice of cheese. Attracted by the odour of the latter
dainty, a hungry cat had contrived to scratch open the paper in which it
was wrapped, displaying the following words in large characters:--"THE
HISTORY OF THE FOUR KINGS, OR CHILD'S BEST GUIDE TO THE GALLOWS." And,
as if to make the moral more obvious, a dirty pack of cards was
scattered, underneath, upon the sawdust. Near the door stood a pile of
deal planks, behind which the carpenter ensconced himself in order to
reconnoitre, unobserved, the proceedings of his idle apprentice.

Standing on tiptoe, on a joint-stool, placed upon the bench, with his
back to the door, and a clasp-knife in his hand, this youngster, instead
of executing his appointed task, was occupied in carving his name upon a
beam, overhead. Boys, at the time of which we write, were attired like
men of their own day, or certain charity-children of ours; and the
stripling in question was dressed in black plush breeches, and a gray
drugget waistcoat, with immoderately long pockets, both of which were
evidently the cast-off clothes of some one considerably his senior.
Coat, on the present occasion, he had none, it being more convenient, as
well as agreeable to him, to pursue his avocations in his shirtsleeves;
but, when fully equipped, he wore a large-cuffed, long-skirted garment,
which had once been the property of his master.

In concealing himself behind the timber, Mr. Wood could not avoid making
a slight shuffling sound. The noise startled the apprentice, who
instantly suspended his labour, and gazed anxiously in the direction
whence he supposed it proceeded. His face was that of a quick,
intelligent-looking boy, with fine hazel eyes, and a clear olive
complexion. His figure was uncommonly slim even for his age, which could
not be more than thirteen; and the looseness of his garb made him appear
thinner than he was in reality. But if his frame was immature, his looks
were not so. He seemed to possess a penetration and cunning beyond his
years--to hide a man's judgment under a boy's mask. The glance, which he
threw at the door, was singularly expressive of his character: it was a
mixture of alarm, effrontery, and resolution. In the end, resolution
triumphed, as it was sure to do, over the weaker emotions, and he
laughed at his fears. The only part of his otherwise-interesting
countenance, to which one could decidedly object, was the mouth; a
feature that, more than any other, is conceived to betray the animal
propensities of the possessor. If this is true, it must be owned that
the boy's mouth showed a strong tendency on his part to coarse
indulgence. The eyes, too, though large and bright, and shaded by long
lashes, seemed to betoken, as hazel eyes generally do in men, a
faithless and uncertain disposition. The cheek-bones were prominent: the
nose slightly depressed, with rather wide nostrils; the chin narrow, but
well-formed; the forehead broad and lofty; and he possessed such an
extraordinary flexibility of muscle in this region, that he could
elevate his eye-brows at pleasure up to the very verge of his sleek and
shining black hair, which, being closely cropped, to admit of his
occasionally wearing a wig, gave a singular bullet-shape to his head.
Taken altogether, his physiognomy resembled one of those vagabond heads
which Murillo delighted to paint, and for which Guzman d'Alfarache,
Lazarillo de Tormes, or Estevanillo Gonzalez might have sat:--faces that
almost make one in love with roguery, they seem so full of vivacity and
enjoyment. There was all the knavery, and more than all the drollery of
a Spanish picaroon in the laughing eyes of the English apprentice; and,
with a little more warmth and sunniness of skin on the side of the
latter, the resemblance between them would have been complete.

Satisfied, as he thought, that he had nothing to apprehend, the boy
resumed his task, chanting, as he plied his knife with redoubled
assiduity, the following--not inappropriate strains:--

    THE NEWGATE STONE.

    When Claude Du Val was in Newgate thrown,
    He carved his name on the dungeon stone;
    Quoth a dubsman, who gazed on the shattered wall,
    "You have carved your epitaph, Claude Du Val,
        _With your chisel so fine, tra la_!"

"This S wants a little deepening," mused the apprentice, retouching the
letter in question; "ay, that's better."

    Du Val was hang'd, and the next who came
    On the selfsame stone inscribed his name:
    "Aha!" quoth the dubsman, with devilish glee,
    "Tom Waters _your_ doom is the triple tree!
        _With your chisel so fine, tra la_!"

"Tut, tut, tut," he cried, "what a fool I am to be sure! I ought to have
cut John, not Jack. However, it don't signify. Nobody ever called me
John, that I recollect. So I dare say I was christened Jack. Deuce take
it! I was very near spelling my name with one P.

    Within that dungeon lay Captain Bew,
    Rumbold and Whitney--a jolly crew!
    All carved their names on the stone, and all
    Share the fate of the brave Du Val!
        _With their chisels so fine, tra la_!

"Save us!" continued the apprentice, "I hope this beam doesn't resemble
the Newgate stone; or I may chance, like the great men the song speaks
of, to swing on the Tyburn tree for my pains. No fear o' that.--Though
if my name should become as famous as theirs, it wouldn't much matter.
The prospect of the gallows would never deter me from taking to the
road, if I were so inclined.

    Full twenty highwaymen blithe and bold,
    Rattled their chains in that dungeon old;
    Of all that number there 'scaped not one
    Who carved his name on the Newgate Stone.
        _With his chisel so fine, tra la_!

"There!" cried the boy, leaping from the stool, and drawing back a few
paces on the bench to examine his performance,--"that'll do. Claude du
Val himself couldn't have carved it better--ha! ha!"

The name inscribed upon the beam (of which, as it has been carefully
preserved by the subsequent owners of Mr. Wood's habitation in Wych
Street, we are luckily enabled to furnish a facsimile) was

[Illustration: Jack Sheppard (signature)]

"I've half a mind to give old Wood the slip, and turn highwayman," cried
Jack, as he closed the knife, and put it in his pocket.

"The devil you have!" thundered a voice from behind, that filled the
apprentice with dismay. "Come down, sirrah, and I'll teach you how to
deface my walls in future. Come down, I say, instantly, or I'll make
you." Upon which, Mr. Wood caught hold of Jack's leg, and dragged him
off the bench.

"And so you'll turn highwayman, will you, you young dog?" continued the
carpenter, cuffing him soundly,--"rob the mails, like Jack Hall, I
suppose."

"Yes, I will," replied Jack sullenly, "if you beat me in that way."

Amazed at the boy's assurance, Wood left off boxing his ears for a
moment, and, looking at him steadfastly, said in a grave tone, "Jack,
Jack, you'll come to be hanged!"

"Better be hanged than hen-pecked," retorted the lad with a malicious
grin.

"What do you mean by that, sirrah?" cried Wood, reddening with anger.
"Do you dare to insinuate that Mrs. Wood governs me?"

"It's plain you can't govern yourself, at all events," replied Jack
coolly; "but, be that as it may, I won't be struck for nothing."

"Nothing," echoed Wood furiously. "Do you call neglecting your work, and
singing flash songs nothing? Zounds! you incorrigible rascal, many a
master would have taken you before a magistrate, and prayed for your
solitary confinement in Bridewell for the least of these offences. But
I'll be more lenient, and content myself with merely chastising you, on
condition--"

"You may do as you please, master," interrupted Jack, thrusting his hand
into his pocket, as if in search of the knife; "but I wouldn't advise
you to lay hands on me again."

Mr. Wood glanced at the hardy offender, and not liking the expression of
his countenance, thought it advisable to postpone the execution of his
threats to a more favourable opportunity. So, by way of gaining time, he
resolved to question him further.

"Where did you learn the song I heard just now?" he demanded, in an
authoritative tone.

"At the Black Lion in our street," replied Jack, without hesitation.

"The worst house in the neighbourhood--the constant haunt of reprobates
and thieves," groaned Wood. "And who taught it you--the landlord, Joe
Hind?"

"No; one Blueskin, a fellow who frequents the Lion," answered Jack, with
a degree of candour that astonished his master nearly as much as his
confidence. "It was that song that put it into my head to cut my name on
the beam."

"A white wall is a fool's paper, Jack,--remember that," rejoined Wood.
"Pretty company for an apprentice to keep!--pretty houses for an
apprentice to frequent! Why, the rascal you mention is a notorious
house-breaker. He was tried at the last Old Bailey sessions; and only
escaped the gallows by impeaching his accomplices. Jonathan Wild brought
him off."

"Do you happen to know Jonathan Wild, master?" inquired Jack, altering
his tone, and assuming a more respectful demeanour.

"I've seen him some years ago, I believe," answered Wood; "and, though
he must be much changed by this time, I dare say I should know him
again."

"A short man, isn't he, about your height, Sir,--with a yellow beard,
and a face as sly as a fox's?"

"Hem!" replied Wood, coughing slightly to conceal a smile; "the
description's not amiss. But why do you ask?"

"Because--" stammered the boy.

"Speak out--don't be alarmed," said Wood, in a kind and encouraging
tone. "If you've done wrong, confess it, and I'll forgive you!"

"I don't deserve to be forgiven!" returned Jack, bursting into tears;
"for I'm afraid I've done very wrong. Do you know this, Sir?" he added,
taking a key from his pocket.

"Where did you find it!" asked Wood.

"It was given me by a man who was drinking t'other night with Blueskin
at the Lion! and who, though he slouched his hat over his eyes, and
muffled his chin in a handkerchief, must have been Jonathan Wild."

"Where did _he_ get it?" inquired Wood, in surprise.

"That I can't say. But he promised to give me a couple of guineas if I'd
ascertain whether it fitted your locks."

"Zounds!" exclaimed Wood; "it's my old master-key. This key," he added,
taking it from the boy, "was purloined from me by your father, Jack.
What he intended to do with it is of little consequence now. But before
he suffered at Tyburn, he charged your mother to restore it. She lost it
in the Mint. Jonathan Wild must have stolen it from her."

"He must," exclaimed Jack, hastily; "but only let me have it till
to-morrow, and if I don't entrap him in a snare from which, with all
his cunning, he shall find it difficult to escape, my name's not Jack
Sheppard."

"I see through your design, Jack," returned the carpenter, gravely; "but
I don't like under-hand work. Even when you've a knave to deal with, let
your actions be plain, and above-board. That's my maxim; and it's the
maxim of every honest man. It would be a great matter, I must own, to
bring Jonathan Wild to justice. But I can't consent to the course you
would pursue--at least, not till I've given it due consideration. In
regard to yourself, you've had a very narrow escape. Wild's intention,
doubtless, was to use you as far as he found necessary, and then to sell
you. Let this be a caution to you in future--with whom, and about what
you deal. We're told, that 'Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own
soul.' Avoid taverns and bad company, and you may yet do well. You
promise to become a first-rate workman. But you want one quality,
without which all others are valueless. You want industry--you want
steadiness. Idleness is the key of beggary, Jack. If you don't conquer
this disgraceful propensity in time, you'll soon come to want; and then
nothing can save you. Be warned by your father's fate. As you brew so
must you drink. I've engaged to watch over you as a son, and I _will_ do
so as far as I'm able; but if you neglect my advice, what chance have I
of benefitting you? On one point I've made up my mind--you shall either
obey me, or leave me. Please yourself. Here are your indentures, if you
choose to seek another master."

"I _will_ obey you, master,--indeed I will!" implored Jack, seriously
alarmed at the carpenter's calm displeasure.

"We shall see. Good words, without deeds, are rushes and reeds. And now
take away those cards, and never let me see them again. Drive away the
cat; throw that measure of gin through the window; and tell me why
you've not so much as touched the packing-case for Lady Trafford, which
I particularly desired you to complete against my return. It must be
sent home this evening. She leaves town to-morrow."

"It shall be ready in two hours," answered Jack, seizing a piece of wood
and a plane; "it isn't more than four o'clock. I'll engage to get the
job done by six. I didn't expect you home before that hour, Sir."

"Ah, Jack," said Wood, shaking his head, "where there's a will there's a
way. You can do anything you please. I wish I could get you to imitate
Thames Darrell."

"I'm sure I understand the business of a carpenter much better than he
does," replied Jack, adroitly adjusting the board, and using the plane
with the greatest rapidity.

"Perhaps," replied Wood, doubtfully.

"Thames was always your favourite," observed Jack, as he fastened
another piece of wood on the teeth of the iron stopper.

"I've made no distinction between you, hitherto," answered Wood; "nor
shall I do so, unless I'm compelled."

"I've had the hard work to do, at all events," rejoined Jack, "But I
won't complain. I'd do anything for Thames Darrell."

"And Thames Darrell would do anything for you, Jack," replied a blithe
voice. "What's the matter, father!" continued the new-comer, addressing
Wood. "Has Jack displeased you? If so, overlook his fault this once. I'm
sure he'll do his best to content you. Won't you, Jack?"

"That I will," answered Sheppard, eagerly.

"When it thunders, the thief becomes honest," muttered Wood.

"Can I help you, Jack?" asked Thames, taking up a plane.

"No, no, let him alone," interposed Wood. "He has undertaken to finish
this job by six o'clock, and I wish to see whether he'll be as good as
his word."

"He'll have hard work to do it by that time, father," remonstrated
Thames; "you'd better let me help him."

"On no account," rejoined Wood peremptorily. "A little extra exertion
will teach him the advantage of diligence at the proper season. Lost
ground must be regained. I need scarcely ask whether you've executed
your appointed task, my dear? You're never behindhand."

Thames turned away at the question, which he felt might be construed
into a reproach. But Sheppard answered for him.

"Darrell's job was done early this morning," he said; "and if I'd
attended to his advice, the packing-case would have been finished at the
same time."

"You trusted too much to your own skill, Jack," rejoined Thames. "If I
could work as fast as you, I might afford to be as idle. See how he gets
on, father," he added, appealing to Wood: "the box seems to grow under
his hands."

"You're a noble-hearted little fellow, Thames," rejoined Wood, casting a
look of pride and affection at his adopted son, whose head he gently
patted; "and give promise of a glorious manhood."

Thames Darrell was, indeed, a youth of whom a person of far greater
worldly consequence than the worthy carpenter might have been justly
proud. Though a few months younger than his companion Jack Sheppard, he
was half a head taller, and much more robustly formed. The two friends
contrasted strikingly with each other. In Darrell's open features,
frankness and honour were written in legible characters; while, in
Jack's physiognomy, cunning and knavery were as strongly imprinted. In
all other respects they differed as materially. Jack could hardly be
accounted good-looking: Thames, on the contrary, was one of the
handsomest boys possible. Jack's complexion was that of a gipsy;
Darrell's as fresh and bright as a rose. Jack's mouth was coarse and
large; Darrell's small and exquisitely carved, with the short, proud
upper lip, which belongs to the highest order of beauty. Jack's nose was
broad and flat; Darrell's straight and fine as that of Antinous. The
expression pervading the countenance of the one was vulgarity; of the
other, that which is rarely found, except in persons of high birth.
Darrell's eyes were of that clear gray which it is difficult to
distinguish from blue by day and black at night; and his rich brown
hair, which he could not consent to part with, even on the promise of a
new and modish peruke from his adoptive father, fell in thick glossy
ringlets upon his shoulders; whereas Jack's close black crop imparted
the peculiar bullet-shape we have noticed, to his head.

While Thames modestly expressed a hope that he might not belie the
carpenter's favourable prediction, Jack Sheppard thought fit to mount a
small ladder placed against the wall, and, springing with the agility of
an ape upon a sort of frame, contrived to sustain short spars and blocks
of timber, began to search about for a piece of wood required in the
work on which he was engaged. Being in a great hurry, he took little
heed where he set his feet; and a board giving way, he must have fallen,
if he had not grasped a large plank laid upon the transverse beam
immediately over his head.

"Take care, Jack," shouted Thames, who witnessed the occurrence; "that
plank isn't properly balanced. You'll have it down."

But the caution came too late. Sheppard's weight had destroyed the
equilibrium of the plank: it swerved, and slowly descended. Losing his
presence of mind, Jack quitted his hold, and dropped upon the frame. The
plank hung over his head. A moment more and he would have been crushed
beneath the ponderous board, when a slight but strong arm arrested its
descent.

"Get from under it, Jack!" vociferated Thames. "I can't hold it much
longer--it'll break my wrist. Down we come!" he exclaimed, letting go
the plank, which fell with a crash, and leaping after Sheppard, who had
rolled off the frame.

All this was the work of a minute.

"No bones broken, I hope," said Thames, laughing at Jack, who limped
towards the bench, rubbing his shins as he went.

"All right," replied Sheppard, with affected indifference.

"It's a mercy you both escaped!" ejaculated Wood, only just finding his
tongue. "I declare I'm all in a cold sweat. How came you, Sir," he
continued, addressing Sheppard, "to venture upon that frame. I always
told you some accident would happen."

"Don't scold him, father," interposed Thames; "he's been frightened
enough already."

"Well, well, since you desire it, I'll say no more," returned Wood. "You
hay'n't hurt your arm, I trust, my dear?" he added, anxiously.

"Only sprained it a little, that's all," answered Thames; "the pain will
go off presently."

"Then you _are_ hurt," cried the carpenter in alarm. "Come down stairs
directly, and let your mother look at your wrist. She has an excellent
remedy for a sprain. And do you, Jack, attend to your work, and mind you
don't get into further mischief."

"Hadn't Jack better go with us?" said Thames. "His shin may need
rubbing."

"By no means," rejoined Wood, hastily. "A little suffering will do him
good. I meant to give him a drubbing. That bruise will answer the same
purpose."

"Thames," said Sheppard in a low voice, as he threw a vindictive glance
at the carpenter, "I shan't forget this. You've saved my life."

"Pshaw! you'd do as much for me any day, and think no more about it.
It'll be your turn to save mine next."

"True, and I shan't be easy till my turn arrives."

"I tell you what, Jack," whispered Thames, who had noticed Sheppard's
menacing glance, and dreaded some further indiscretion on his part, "if
you really wish to oblige me, you'll get that packing-case finished by
six o'clock. You _can_ do it, if you will."

"And I _will_, if I can, depend upon it," answered Sheppard, with a
laugh.

So saying, he manfully resumed his work; while Wood and Thames quitted
the room, and went down stairs.




CHAPTER II.

Thames Darrell.


Thames Darrell's arm having been submitted to the scrutiny of Mrs. Wood,
was pronounced by that lady to be very much sprained; and she,
forthwith, proceeded to bathe it with a reddish-coloured lotion. During
this operation, the carpenter underwent a severe catechism as to the
cause of the accident; and, on learning that the mischance originated
with Jack Sheppard, the indignation of his helpmate knew no bounds; and
she was with difficulty prevented from flying to the workshop to inflict
summary punishment on the offender.

"I knew how it would be," she cried, in the shrill voice peculiar to a
shrew, "when you brought that worthless hussy's worthless brat into the
house. I told you no good would come of it. And every day's experience
proves that I was right. But, like all your overbearing sex, you must
have your own way. You'll never be guided by me--never!"

"Indeed, my love, you're entirely mistaken," returned the carpenter,
endeavouring to deprecate his wife's rising resentment by the softest
looks, and the meekest deportment.

So far, however, was this submission from producing the desired effect,
that it seemed only to lend additional fuel to her displeasure.
Forgetting her occupation in her anger, she left off bathing Darrell's
wrist; and, squeezing his arm so tightly that the boy winced with pain,
she clapped her right hand upon her hip, and turned, with flashing eyes
and an inflamed countenance, towards her crest-fallen spouse.

"What!" she exclaimed, almost choked with passion,--"_I_ advised you to
burthen yourself with that idle and good-for-nothing pauper, who'm you
ought rather to send to the workhouse than maintain at your own expense,
did I! _I_ advised you to take him as an apprentice; and, so far from
getting the regular fee with him, to give him a salary? _I_ advised you
to feed him, and clothe him, and treat him like his betters; to put up
with his insolence, and wink at his faults? _I_ counselled all this, I
suppose. You'll tell me next, I dare say, that I recommended you to go
and visit his mother so frequently under the plea of charity; to give
her wine, and provisions, and money; to remove her from the only fit
quarters for such people--the Mint; and to place her in a cottage at
Willesden, of which you must needs pay the rent? Marry, come up! charity
should begin at home. A discreet husband would leave the dispensation of
his bounty, where women are concerned, to his wife. And for my part, if
I were inclined to exercise my benevolence at all, it should be in
favour of some more deserving object than that whining, hypocritical
Magdalene."

"It was the knowledge of this feeling on your part, my love, that made
me act without your express sanction. I did all for the best, I'm sure.
Mrs. Sheppard is--"

"I know what Mrs. Sheppard is, without your information, Sir. I haven't
forgotten her previous history. You've your own reasons, no doubt, for
bringing up her son--perhaps, I ought rather to say _your_ son, Mr.
Wood."

"Really, my love, these accusations are most groundless--this violence
is most unnecessary."

"I can't endure the odious baggage. I hope I may never come near her."

"I hope you never may, my love," humbly acquiesced the carpenter.

"Is my house to be made a receptacle for all your natural children, Sir?
Answer me that."

"Winny," said Thames, whose glowing cheek attested the effect produced
upon him by the insinuation; "Winny," said he, addressing a pretty
little damsel of some twelve years of age, who stood by his side holding
the bottle of embrocation, "help me on with my coat, please. This is no
place for me."

"Sit down, my dear, sit down," interposed Mrs. Wood, softening her
asperity. "What I said about natural children doesn't apply to _you_.
Don't suppose," she added, with a scornful glance at her helpmate,
"that I would pay him the compliment of thinking he could possibly be
the father of such a boy as you."

Mr. Wood lifted up his hands in mute despair.

"Owen, Owen," pursued Mrs. Wood, sinking into a chair, and fanning
herself violently,--"what a fluster you have put me into with your
violence, to be sure! And at the very time, too, when you know I'm
expecting a visit from Mr. Kneebone, on his return from Manchester. I
wouldn't have him see me in this state for the world. He'd never forgive
you."

"Poh, poh, my dear! Mr. Kneebone invariably takes part with me, when any
trifling misunderstanding arises between us. I only wish he was not a
Papist and a Jacobite."

"Jacobite!" echoed Mrs. Wood. "Marry, come up! Mightn't he just as
reasonably complain of your being a Hanoverian and a Presbyterian? It's
all matter of opinion. And now, my love," she added, with a relenting
look, "I'm content to make up our quarrel. But you must promise me not
to go near that abandoned hussy at Willesden. One can't help being
jealous, you know, even of an unworthy object."

Glad to make peace on any terms, Mr. Wood gave the required promise,
though he could not help thinking that if either of them had cause to be
jealous he was the party.

And here, we may be permitted to offer an observation upon the peculiar
and unaccountable influence which ladies of a shrewish turn so
frequently exercise over--we can scarcely, in this case, say--their
lords and masters; an influence which seems not merely to extend to the
will of the husband, but even to his inclinations. We do not remember to
have met with a single individual, reported to be under petticoat
government, who was not content with his lot,--nay, who so far from
repining, did not exult in his servitude; and we see no way of
accounting for this apparently inexplicable conduct--for which, among
other phenomena of married life, various reasons have been assigned,
though none entirely satisfactory to us--except upon the ground that
these domineering dames possess some charm sufficiently strong to
counteract the irritating effect of their tempers; some secret and
attractive quality of which the world at large is in ignorance, and with
which their husbands alone can be supposed to be acquainted. An
influence of this description appeared to be exerted on the present
occasion. The worthy carpenter was restored to instant good humour by a
glance from his helpmate; and, notwithstanding the infliction he had
just endured, he would have quarrelled with any one who had endeavoured
to persuade him that he was not the happiest of men, and Mrs. Wood the
best of wives.

"Women must have their wills while they live, since they can make none
when they die," observed Wood, as he imprinted a kiss of reconciliation
on the plump hand of his consort;--a sentiment to the correctness of
which the party chiefly interested graciously vouchsafed her assent.

Lest the carpenter should be taxed with too much uxoriousness, it
behoves us to ascertain whether the personal attractions of his helpmate
would, in any degree, justify the devotion he displayed. In the first
place, Mrs. Wood had the advantage of her husband in point of years,
being on the sunny side of forty,--a period pronounced by competent
judges to be the most fascinating, and, at the same time, most critical
epoch of woman's existence,--whereas, he was on the shady side of
fifty,--a term of life not generally conceived to have any special
recommendation in female eyes. In the next place, she really had some
pretensions to beauty. Accounted extremely pretty in her youth, her
features and person expanded as she grew older, without much detriment
to their original comeliness. Hers was beauty on a large scale no doubt;
but it was beauty, nevertheless: and the carpenter thought her eyes as
bright, her complexion as blooming, and her figure (if a little more
buxom) quite as captivating as when he led her to the altar some twenty
years ago.

On the present occasion, in anticipation of Mr. Kneebone's visit, Mrs.
Wood was dressed with more than ordinary care, and in more than ordinary
finery. A dove-coloured kincob gown, embroidered with large trees, and
made very low in front, displayed to the greatest possible advantage,
the rounded proportions of her figure; while a high-heeled, red-leather
shoe did not detract from the symmetry of a very neat ankle, and a very
small foot. A stomacher, fastened by imitation-diamond buckles, girded
that part of her person, which should have been a waist; a coral
necklace encircled her throat, and a few black patches, or mouches, as
they were termed, served as a foil to the bloom of her cheek and chin.
Upon a table, where they had been hastily deposited, on the intelligence
of Darrell's accident, lay a pair of pink kid gloves, bordered with
lace, and an enormous fan; the latter, when opened, represented the
metamorphosis and death of Actæon. From her stomacher, to which it was
attached by a multitude of glittering steel chains, depended an immense
turnip-shaped watch, in a pinchbeck case. Her hair was gathered up
behind, in a sort of pad, according to the then prevailing mode; and she
wore a muslin cap, and pinners with crow-foot edging. A black silk
fur-belowed scarf covered her shoulders; and over the kincob gown hung a
yellow satin apron, trimmed with white Persian.

But, in spite of her attractions, we shall address ourselves to the
younger, and more interesting couple.

"I could almost find in my heart to quarrel with Jack Sheppard for
occasioning you so much pain," observed little Winifred Wood, as, having
completed her ministration to the best of her ability, she helped Thames
on with his coat.

"I don't think you could find in your heart to quarrel with any one,
Winny; much less with a person whom I like so much as Jack Sheppard. My
arm's nearly well again. And I've already told you the accident was not
Jack's fault. So, let's think no more about it."

"It's strange you should like Jack so much dear Thames. He doesn't
resemble you at all."

"The very reason why I like him, Winny. If he _did_ resemble me, I
shouldn't care about him. And, whatever you may think, I assure you,
Jack's a downright good-natured fellow."

Good-natured fellows are always especial favourites with boys. And, in
applying the term to his friend, Thames meant to pay him a high
compliment. And so Winifred understood him.

"Well," she said, in reply, "I may have done Jack an injustice. I'll try
to think better of him in future."

"And, if you want an additional inducement to do so, I can tell you
there's no one--not even his mother--whom he loves so well as you."

"Loves!" echoed Winifred, slightly colouring.

"Yes, loves, Winny. Poor fellow! he sometimes indulges the hope of
marrying you, when he grows old enough."

"Thames!"

"Have I said anything to offend you?"

"Oh! no. But if you wouldn't have me positively dislike Jack Sheppard,
you'll never mention such a subject again. Besides," she added, blushing
yet more deeply, "it isn't a proper one to talk upon."

"Well then, to change it," replied Thames, gravely, "suppose I should be
obliged to leave you."

Winifred looked as if she could not indulge such a supposition for a
single moment.

"Surely," she said, after a pause, "you don't attach any importance to
what my mother has just said. _She_ has already forgotten it."

"But _I_ never can forget it, Winny. I will no longer be a burthen to
those upon whom I have no claim, but compassion."

As he said this, in a low and mournful, but firm voice, the tears
gathered thickly in Winifred's dark eyelashes.

"If you are in earnest, Thames," she replied, with a look of gentle
reproach, "you are very foolish; and, if in jest, very cruel. My mother,
I'm sure, didn't intend to hurt your feelings. She loves you too well
for that. And I'll answer for it, she'll never say a syllable to annoy
you again."

Thames tried to answer her, but his voice failed him.

"Come! I see the storm has blown over," cried Winifred, brightening up.

"You're mistaken, Winny. Nothing can alter my determination. I shall
quit this roof to-morrow."

The little girl's countenance fell.

"Do nothing without consulting my father--_your_ father, Thames," she
implored. "Promise me that."

"Willingly. And what's more, I promise to abide by his decision."

"Then, I'm quite easy," cried Winifred, joyfully.

"I'm sure he won't attempt to prevent me," rejoined Thames.

The slight smile that played upon Winifred's lips seemed to say that
_she_ was not quite so sure. But she made no answer.

"In case he should consent--"

"He never will," interrupted Winifred.

"In case he _should_, I say," continued Thames, "will _you_ promise to
let Jack Sheppard take my place in your affections, Winny?"

"Never!" replied the little damsel, "I can never love any one so much as
you."

"Excepting your father."

Winifred was going to say "No," but she checked herself; and, with
cheeks mantling with blushes, murmured, "I wish you wouldn't tease me
about Jack Sheppard."

The foregoing conversation, having been conducted throughout in a low
tone, and apart, had not reached the ears of Mr. and Mrs. Wood, who
were, furthermore, engaged in a little conjugal _tête-à-tête_ of their
own. The last observation, however, caught the attention of the
carpenter's wife.

"What's that you're saying about Jack Sheppard?" she cried.

"Thames was just observing--"

"Thames!" echoed Mrs. Wood, glancing angrily at her husband. "There's
another instance of your wilfulness and want of taste. Who but _you_
would have dreamed of giving the boy such a name? Why, it's the name of
a river, not a Christian. No gentleman was ever called Thames, and
Darrell _is_ a gentleman, unless the whole story of his being found in
the river is a fabrication!"

"My dear, you forget--"

"No, Mr. Wood, I forget nothing. I've an excellent memory, thank God!
And I perfectly remember that everybody was drowned upon that
occasion--except yourself and the child!"

"My love you're beside yourself--"

"I was beside myself to take charge of your--"

"Mother?" interposed Winifred.

"It's of no use," observed Thames quietly, but with a look that chilled
the little damsel's heart;--"my resolution is taken."

"You at least appear to forget that Mr. Kneebone is coming, my dear,"
ventured Mr. Wood.

"Good gracious! so I do," exclaimed his amiable consort. "But you _do_
agitate me so much. Come into the parlour, Winifred, and dry your eyes
directly, or I'll send you to bed. Mr. Wood, I desire you'll put on your
best things, and join us as soon as possible. Thames, you needn't tidy
yourself, as you've hurt your arm. Mr. Kneebone will excuse you. Dear
me! if there isn't his knock. Oh! I'm in such a fluster!"

Upon which, she snatched up her fan, cast a look into the glass,
smoothed down her scarf, threw a soft expression into her features, and
led the way into the next room, whither she was followed by her daughter
and Thames Darrell.




CHAPTER III.

The Jacobite.


Mr. William Kneebone was a woollen-draper of "credit and renown," whose
place of business was held at the sign of the Angel (for, in those
days, every shop had its sign), opposite Saint Clement's church in the
Strand. A native of Manchester, he was the son of Kenelm Kneebone, a
staunch Catholic, and a sergeant of dragoons, who lost his legs and his
life while fighting for James the Second at the battle of the Boyne, and
who had little to bequeath his son except his laurels and his loyalty to
the house of Stuart.

The gallant woollen-draper was now in his thirty-sixth year. He had a
handsome, jolly-looking face; stood six feet two in his stockings; and
measured more than a cloth-yard shaft across the shoulders--athletic
proportions derived from his father the dragoon. And, if it had not been
for a taste for plotting, which was continually getting him into
scrapes, he might have been accounted a respectable member of society.

Of late, however, his plotting had assumed a more dark and dangerous
complexion. The times were such that, with the opinions he entertained,
he could not remain idle. The spirit of disaffection was busy throughout
the kingdom. It was on the eve of that memorable rebellion which broke
forth, two months later, in Scotland. Since the accession of George the
First to the throne in the preceding year, every effort had been made by
the partisans of the Stuarts to shake the credit of the existing
government, and to gain supporters to their cause. Disappointed in their
hopes of the restoration of the fallen dynasty after the death of Anne,
the adherents of the Chevalier de Saint George endeavoured, by sowing
the seeds of dissension far and wide, to produce a general insurrection
in his favour. No means were neglected to accomplish this end. Agents
were dispersed in all directions--offers the most tempting held out to
induce the wavering to join the Chevalier's standard. Plots were hatched
in the provinces, where many of the old and wealthy Catholic families
resided, whose zeal for the martyr of their religion (as the Chevalier
was esteemed), sharpened by the persecutions they themselves endured,
rendered them hearty and efficient allies. Arms, horses, and
accoutrements were secretly purchased and distributed; and it is not
improbable that, if the unfortunate prince, in whose behalf these
exertions were made, and who was not deficient in courage, as he proved
at the battle of Malplaquet, had boldly placed himself at the head of
his party at an earlier period, he might have regained the crown of his
ancestors. But the indecision, which had been fatal to his race, was
fatal to him. He delayed the blow till the fortunate conjuncture was
past. And when, at length, it _was_ struck, he wanted energy to pursue
his advantages.

But we must not anticipate the course of events. At the precise period
of this history, the Jacobite party was full of hope and confidence.
Louis the Fourteenth yet lived, and expectations were, therefore,
indulged of assistance from France. The disgrace of the leaders of the
late Tory administration had strengthened, rather than injured, their
cause. Mobs were gathered together on the slightest possible pretext;
and these tumultuous assemblages, while committing the most outrageous
excesses, loudly proclaimed their hatred to the house of Hanover, and
their determination to cut off the Protestant succession. The
proceedings of this faction were narrowly watched by a vigilant and
sagacious administration. The government was not deceived (indeed, every
opportunity was sought by the Jacobites of parading their numbers,) as
to the force of its enemies; and precautionary measures were taken to
defeat their designs. On the very day of which we write, namely, the
10th of June 1715, Bolingbroke and Oxford were impeached of high
treason. The Committee of Secrecy--that English Council of Ten--were
sitting, with Walpole at their head; and the most extraordinary
discoveries were reported to be made. On the same day, moreover, which,
by a curious coincidence, was the birthday of the Chevalier de Saint
George, mobs were collected together in the streets, and the health of
that prince was publicly drunk under the title of James the Third;
while, in many country towns, the bells were rung, and rejoicings held,
as if for a reigning monarch:--the cry of the populace almost
universally being, "No King George, but a Stuart!"

The adherents of the Chevalier de Saint George, we have said, were
lavish in promises to their proselytes. Posts were offered to all who
chose to accept them. Blank commissions, signed by the prince, to be
filled up by the name of the person, who could raise a troop for his
service, were liberally bestowed. Amongst others, Mr. Kneebone, whose
interest was not inconsiderable with the leaders of his faction,
obtained an appointment as captain in a regiment of infantry, on the
conditions above specified. With a view to raise recruits for his corps,
the warlike woollen-draper started for Lancashire, under the colour of a
journey on business. He was pretty successful in Manchester,--a town
which may be said to have been the head-quarters of the disaffected. On
his return to London, he found that applications had been made from a
somewhat doubtful quarter by two individuals, for the posts of
subordinate officers in his troop. Mr. Kneebone, or, as he would have
preferred being styled, Captain Kneebone, was not perfectly satisfied
with the recommendations forwarded by the applicants. But this was not a
season in which to be needlessly scrupulous. He resolved to judge for
himself. Accordingly, he was introduced to the two military aspirants at
the Cross Shovels in the Mint, by our old acquaintance, Baptist
Kettleby. The Master of the Mint, with whom the Jacobite captain had
often had transactions before, vouched for their being men of honour and
loyalty; and Kneebone was so well satisfied with his representations,
that he at once closed the matter by administering to the applicants the
oath of allegiance and fidelity to King James the Third, and several
other oaths besides, all of which those gentlemen took with as little
hesitation as the sum of money, afterwards tendered, to make the compact
binding. The party, then, sat down to a bowl of punch; and, at its
conclusion, Captain Kneebone regretted that an engagement to spend the
evening with Mrs. Wood, would preclude the possibility of his remaining
with his new friends as long as his inclinations prompted. At this
piece of information, the two subordinate officers were observed to
exchange glances; and, after a little agreeable raillery on their
captain's gallantry, they begged permission to accompany him in his
visit. Kneebone, who had drained his glass to the restoration of the
house of Stuart, and the downfall of the house of Hanover, more
frequently than was consistent with prudence, consented; and the trio
set out for Wych Street, where they arrived in the jolliest humour
possible.




CHAPTER IV.

Mr. Kneebone and his Friends.


Mrs. Wood was scarcely seated before Mr. Kneebone made his appearance.
To her great surprise and mortification he was not alone; but brought
with him a couple of friends, whom he begged to introduce as Mr.
Jeremiah Jackson, and Mr. Solomon Smith, chapmen, (or what in modern
vulgar parlance would be termed bagmen) travelling to procure orders for
the house of an eminent cloth manufacturer in Manchester. Neither the
manners, the looks, nor the attire of these gentlemen prepossessed Mrs.
Wood in their favour. Accordingly, on their presentation, Mr. Jeremiah
Jackson and Mr. Solomon Smith received something very like a rebuff.
Luckily, they were not easily discomposed. Two persons possessing a more
comfortable stock of assurance could not be readily found. Imitating the
example of Mr. Kneebone, who did not appear in the slightest degree
disconcerted by his cool reception, each sank carelessly into a chair,
and made himself at home in a moment. Both had very singular faces; very
odd wigs, very much pulled over their brows; and very large cravats,
very much raised above their chins. Besides this, each had a large black
patch over his right eye, and a very queer twist at the left side of his
mouth, so that if their object had been disguise, they could not have
adopted better precautions. Mrs. Wood thought them both remarkably
plain, but Mr. Smith decidedly the plainest of the two. His complexion
was as blue as a sailor's jacket, and though Mr. Jackson had one of the
ugliest countenances imaginable, he had a very fine set of teeth. That
was something in his favour. One peculiarity she did not fail to notice.
They were both dressed in every respect alike. In fact, Mr. Solomon
Smith seemed to be Mr. Jeremiah Jackson's double. He talked in the same
style, and pretty nearly in the same language; laughed in the same
manner, and coughed, or sneezed at the same time. If Mr. Jackson took an
accurate survey of the room with his one eye, Mr. Smith's solitary orb
followed in the same direction. When Jeremiah admired the Compasses in
the arms of the Carpenter's Company over the chimney-piece, or the
portraits of the two eminent masters of the rule and plane, William
Portington, and John Scott, Esquires, on either side of it, Solomon was
lost in wonder. When Mr. Jackson noticed a fine service of old blue
china in an open japan closet, Mr. Smith had never seen anything like
it. And finally, when Jeremiah, having bestowed upon Mrs. Wood a very
free-and-easy sort of stare, winked at Mr. Kneebone, his impertinence
was copied to the letter by Solomon. All three, then, burst into an
immoderate fit of laughter. Mrs. Wood's astonishment and displeasure
momentarily increased. Such freedoms from such people were not to be
endured. Her patience was waning fast. Still, in spite of her glances
and gestures, Mr. Kneebone made no effort to check the unreasonable
merriment of his companions, but rather seemed to encourage it. So Mrs.
Wood went on fuming, and the trio went on laughing for some minutes,
nobody knew why or wherefore, until the party was increased by Mr. Wood,
in his Sunday habiliments and Sunday buckle. Without stopping to inquire
into the cause of their mirth, or even to ask the names of his guests,
the worthy carpenter shook hands with the one-eyed chapmen, slapped Mr.
Kneebone cordially on the shoulder, and began to laugh as heartily as
any of them.

Mrs. Wood could stand it no longer.

"I think you're all bewitched," she cried.

"So we are, Ma'am, by your charms," returned Mr. Jackson, gallantly.

"Quite captivated, Ma'am," added Mr. Smith, placing his hand on his
breast.

Mr. Kneebone and Mr. Wood laughed louder than ever.

"Mr. Wood," said the lady bridling up, "my request may, perhaps, have
some weight with _you_. I desire, Sir, you'll recollect yourself. Mr.
Kneebone," she added, with a glance at that gentleman, which was meant
to speak daggers, "will do as he pleases."

Here the chapmen set up another boisterous peal.

"No offence, I hope, my dear Mrs. W," said Mr. Kneebone in a
conciliatory tone. "My friends, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Smith, may have
rather odd ways with them; but--"

"They _have_ very odd ways," interrupted Mrs. Wood, disdainfully.

"Our worthy friend was going to observe, Ma'am, that we never fail in
our devotion to the fair sex," said Mr. Jackson.

"Never, Ma'am!" echoed Mr. Smith, "upon my conscience."

"My dear," said the hospitable carpenter, "I dare say Mr. Kneebone and
his friends would be glad of a little refreshment."

"They shall have it, then," replied his better half, rising. "You base
ingrate," she added, in a whisper, as she flounced past Mr. Kneebone on
her way to the door, "how could you bring such creatures with you,
especially on an occasion like this, when we haven't met for a
fortnight!"

"Couldn't help it, my life," returned the gentleman addressed, in the
same tone; "but you little know who those individuals are."

"Lord bless us! you alarm me. Who are they?"

Mr. Kneebone assumed a mysterious air; and bringing his lips close to
Mrs. Wood's ear, whispered, "secret agents from France--you
understand--friends to the cause--hem!"

"I see,--persons of rank!"

Mr. Kneebone nodded.

"Noblemen."

Mr. Kneebone smiled assent.

"Mercy on us! Well, I thought their manners quite out o' the common. And
so, the invasion really is to take place after all; and the Chevalier de
Saint George is to land at the Tower with fifty thousand Frenchmen; and
the Hanoverian usurper's to be beheaded; and Doctor Sacheverel's to be
made a bishop, and we're all to be--eh?"

"All in good time," returned Kneebone, putting his finger to his lips;
"don't let your imagination run away with you, my charmer. That boy," he
added, looking at Thames, "has his eye upon us."

Mrs. Wood, however, was too much excited to attend to the caution.

"O, lud!" she cried; "French noblemen in disguise! and so rude as I was!
I shall never recover it!"

"A good supper will set all to rights," insinuated Kneebone. "But be
prudent, my angel."

"Never fear," replied the lady. "I'm prudence personified. You might
trust me with the Chevalier himself,--I'd never betray him. But why
didn't you let me know they were coming. I'd have got something nice. As
it is, we've only a couple of ducks--and they were intended for you.
Winny, my love, come with me. I shall want you.--Sorry to quit your
lord--worships, I mean,--I don't know what I mean," she added, a little
confused, and dropping a profound curtsey to the disguised noblemen,
each of whom replied by a bow, worthy, in her opinion, of a prince of
the blood at the least,--"but I've a few necessary orders to give
below."

"Don't mind us, Ma'am," said Mr. Jackson: "ha! ha!"

"Not in the least, Ma'am," echoed Mr. Smith: "ho! ho!"

"How condescending!" thought Mrs. Wood. "Not proud in the least, I
declare. Well, I'd no idea," she continued, pursuing her ruminations as
she left the room, "that people of quality laughed so. But it's French
manners, I suppose."




CHAPTER V.

Hawk and Buzzard.


Mrs. Wood's anxiety to please her distinguished guests speedily
displayed itself in a very plentiful, if not very dainty repast. To the
duckling, peas, and other delicacies, intended for Mr. Kneebone's
special consumption, she added a few impromptu dishes, tossed off in her
best style; such as lamb chops, broiled kidneys, fried ham and eggs, and
toasted cheese. Side by side with the cheese (its never-failing
accompaniment, in all seasons, at the carpenter's board) came a tankard
of swig, and a toast. Besides these there was a warm gooseberry-tart,
and a cold pigeon pie--the latter capacious enough, even allowing for
its due complement of steak, to contain the whole produce of a dovecot;
a couple of lobsters and the best part of a salmon swimming in a sea of
vinegar, and shaded by a forest of fennel. While the cloth was laid, the
host and Thames descended to the cellar, whence they returned, laden
with a number of flasks of the same form, and apparently destined to the
same use as those depicted in Hogarth's delectable print--the Modern
Midnight Conversation.

Mrs. Wood now re-appeared with a very red face; and, followed by
Winifred, took her seat at the table. Operations then commenced. Mr.
Wood carved the ducks; Mr. Kneebone helped to the pigeon-pie; while
Thames unwired and uncorked a bottle of stout Carnarvonshire ale. The
woollen-draper was no despicable trencherman in a general way; but his
feats with the knife and fork were child's sport compared with those of
Mr. Smith. The leg and wing of a duck were disposed of by this gentleman
in a twinkling; a brace of pigeons and a pound of steak followed with
equal celerity; and he had just begun to make a fierce assault upon the
eggs and ham. His appetite was perfectly Gargantuan. Nor must it be
imagined, that while he thus exercised his teeth, he neglected the
flagon. On the contrary, his glass was never idle, and finding it not
filled quite so frequently as he desired, he applied himself,
notwithstanding the expressive looks and muttered remonstrances of Mr.
Jackson, to the swig. The latter gentleman did full justice to the good
things before him; but he drank sparingly, and was visibly annoyed by
his companion's intemperance. As to Mr. Kneebone, what with flirting
with Mrs. Wood, carving for his friends, and pledging the carpenter, he
had his hands full. At this juncture, and just as a cuckoo-clock in the
corner struck sis, Jack Sheppard walked into the room, with the
packing-case under his arm.

"I was in the right, you see, father," observed Thames, smiling; "Jack
_has_ done his task."

"So I perceive," replied Wood.

"Where am I to take it to?" asked Sheppard.

"I told you that before," rejoined Wood, testily. "You must take it to
Sir Rowland Trenchard's in Southampton Fields. And, mind, it's for his
sister, Lady Trafford."

"Very well, Sir," replied Sheppard.

"Wet your whistle before you start, Jack," said Kneebone, pouring out a
glass of ale. "What's that you're taking to Sir Rowland Trenchard's?"

"Only a box, Sir," answered Sheppard, emptying the glass.

"It's an odd-shaped one," rejoined Kneebone, examining it attentively.
"But I can guess what it's for. Sir Rowland is one of _us_," he added,
winking at his companions, "and so was his brother-in-law, Sir Cecil
Trafford. Old Lancashire families both. Strict Catholics, and loyal to
the backbone. Fine woman, Lady Trafford--a little on the wane though."

"Ah! you're so very particular," sighed Mrs. Wood.

"Not in the least," returned Kneebone, slyly, "not in the least. Another
glass, Jack."

"Thank'ee, Sir," grinned Sheppard.

"Off with it to the health of King James the Third, and confusion to his
enemies!"

"Hold!" interposed Wood; "that is treason. I'll have no such toast drunk
at my table!"

"It's the king's birthday," urged the woollen draper.

"Not _my_ king's," returned Wood. "I quarrel with no man's political
opinions, but I will have my own respected!"

"Eh day!" exclaimed Mrs. Wood; "here's a pretty to-do about nothing.
Marry, come up! I'll see who's to be obeyed. Drink the toast, Jack."

"At your peril, sirrah!" cried Wood.

"He was hanged that left his drink behind, you know, master," rejoined
Sheppard. "Here's King James the Third, and confusion to his enemies!"

"Very well," said the carpenter, sitting down amid the laughter of the
company.

"Jack!" cried Thames, in a loud voice, "you deserve to be hanged for a
rebel as you are to your lawful king and your lawful master. But since
we must have toasts," he added, snatching up a glass, "listen to mine:
Here's King George the First! a long reign to him! and confusion to the
Popish Pretender and his adherents!"

"Bravely done!" said Wood, with tears in his eyes.

"That's the kinchin as was to try the dub for us, ain't it?" muttered
Smith to his companion as he stole a glance at Jack Sheppard.

"Silence!" returned Jackson, in a deep whisper; "and don't muddle your
brains with any more of that Pharaoh. You'll need all your strength to
grab him."

"What's the matter?" remarked Kneebone, addressing Sheppard, who, as he
caught the single but piercing eye of Jackson fixed upon him, started
and trembled.

"What's the matter?" repeated Mrs. Wood in a sharp tone.

"Ay, what's the matter, boy!" reiterated Jackson sternly. "Did you never
see two gentlemen with only a couple of peepers between them before!"

"Never, I'll be sworn!" said Smith, taking the opportunity of filling
his glass while his comrade's back was turned; "we're a nat'ral
cur'osity."

"Can I have a word with you, master?" said Sheppard, approaching Wood.

"Not a syllable!" answered the carpenter, angrily. "Get about your
business!"

"Thames!" cried Jack, beckoning to his friend.

But Darrell averted his head.

"Mistress!" said the apprentice, making a final appeal to Mrs. Wood.

"Leave the room instantly, sirrah!" rejoined the lady, bouncing up, and
giving him a slap on the cheek that made his eyes flash fire.

"May I be cursed," muttered Sheppard, as he slunk away with (as the
woollen-draper pleasantly observed) 'a couple of boxes in charge,' "if
ever I try to be honest again!"

"Take a little toasted cheese with the swig, Mr. Smith," observed Wood.
"That's an incorrigible rascal," he added, as Sheppard closed the door;
"it's only to-day that I discovered--"

"What?" asked Jackson, pricking up his ears.

"Don't speak ill of him behind his back, father," interposed Thames.

"If _I_ were your father, young gentleman," returned Jackson, enraged at
the interruption, "I'd teach _you_ not to speak till you were spoken
to."

Thames was about to reply, but a glance from Wood checked him.

"The rebuke is just," said the carpenter; "at the same time, I'm not
sorry to find you're a friend to fair play, which, as you seem to know,
is a jewel. Open that bottle with a blue seal, my dear. Gentlemen! a
glass of brandy will be no bad finish to our meal."

This proposal giving general satisfaction, the bottle circulated
swiftly; and Smith found the liquor so much to his taste, that he made
it pay double toll on its passage.

"Your son is a lad of spirit, Mr. Wood," observed Jackson, in a
slightly-sarcastic tone.

"He's not my son," rejoined the carpenter.

"How, Sir?"

"Except by adoption. Thames Darrell is--"

"My husband nicknames him Thames," interrupted Mrs. Wood, "because he
found him in the river!--ha! ha!"

"Ha! ha!" echoed Smith, taking another bumper of brandy; "he'll set the
Thames on fire one of these days, I'll warrant him!"

"That's more than you'll ever do, you drunken fool!" growled Jackson, in
an under tone: "be cautious, or you'll spoil all!"

"Suppose we send for a bowl of punch," said Kneebone.

"With all my heart!" replied Wood. And, turning to his daughter, he gave
the necessary directions in a low tone.

Winifred, accordingly, left the room, and a servant being despatched to
the nearest tavern, soon afterwards returned with a crown bowl of the
ambrosian fluid. The tables were then cleared. Bottles and glasses
usurped the place of dishes and plates. Pipes were lighted; and Mr.
Kneebone began to dispense the fragrant fluid; begging Mrs. Wood, in a
whisper, as he filled a rummer to the brim, not to forget the health of
the Chevalier de Saint George--a proposition to which the lady
immediately responded by drinking the toast aloud.

"The Chevalier shall hear of this," whispered the woollen-draper.

"You don't say so!" replied Mrs. Wood, delighted at the idea.

Mr. Kneebone assured her that he _did_ say so; and, as a further proof
of his sincerity, squeezed her hand very warmly under the table.

Mr. Smith, now, being more than half-seas over, became very uproarious,
and, claiming the attention of the table, volunteered the following

    DRINKING SONG.

    I.

    Jolly nose! the bright rubies that garnish thy tip
      Are dug from the mines of canary;
    And to keep up their lustre I moisten my lip
      With hogsheads of claret and sherry.

    II.

    Jolly nose! he who sees thee across a broad glass
      Beholds thee in all thy perfection;
    And to the pale snout of a temperate ass
      Entertains the profoundest objection.

    III.

    For a big-bellied glass is the palette I use,
      And the choicest of wine is my colour;
    And I find that my nose takes the mellowest hues
      The fuller I fill it--the fuller!

    IV.

    Jolly nose! there are fools who say drink hurts the sight;
      Such dullards know nothing about it.
    'T is better, with wine, to extinguish the light,
      Than live always, in darkness, without it!

"How long may it be since that boy was found in the way Mrs. Wood
mentions?" inquired Jackson, as soon as the clatter that succeeded Mr.
Smith's melody had subsided.

"Let me see," replied Wood; "exactly twelve years ago last November."

"Why, that must be about the time of the Great Storm," rejoined Jackson.

"Egad!" exclaimed Wood, "you've hit the right nail on the head, anyhow.
It _was_ on the night of the Great Storm that I found him."

"I should like to hear all particulars of the affair," said Jackson, "if
it wouldn't be troubling you too much."

Mr. Wood required little pressing. He took a sip of punch and commenced
his relation. Though meant to produce a totally different effect, the
narrative seemed to excite the risible propensities rather than the
commiseration of his auditor; and when Mr. Wood wound it up by a
description of the drenching he had undergone at the Mint pump, the
other could hold out no longer, but, leaning back in his chair, gave
free scope to his merriment.

"I beg your pardon," he cried; "but really--ha! ha!--you must excuse
me!--that is so uncommonly diverting--ha! ha! Do let me hear it
again?--ha! ha! ha!"

"Upon my word," rejoined Wood, "you seem vastly entertained by my
misfortunes."

"To be sure! Nothing entertains me so much. People always rejoice at
the misfortunes of others--never at their own! The droll dogs! how
_they_ must have enjoyed it!--ha! ha!"

"I dare say they did. But _I_ found it no laughing matter, I can assure
you. And, though it's a long time ago, I feel as sore on the subject as
ever."

"Quite natural! Never forgive an injury!--_I_ never do!--ha! ha!"

"Really, Mr. Jackson, I could almost fancy we had met before. Your laugh
reminds me of--of----"

"Whose, Sir?" demanded Jackson, becoming suddenly grave.

"You'll not be offended, I hope," returned Wood, drily, "if I say that
your voice, your manner, and, above all, your very extraordinary way of
laughing, put me strangely in mind of one of the 'droll dogs,' (as you
term them,) who helped to perpetrate the outrage I've just described."

"Whom do you mean?" demanded Jackson.

"I allude to an individual, who has since acquired an infamous notoriety
as a thief-taker; but who, in those days, was himself the associate of
thieves."

"Well, Sir, his name?"

"Jonathan Wild."

"'Sblood!" cried Jackson, rising, "I can't sit still and hear Mr. Wild,
whom I believe to be as honest a gentleman as any in the kingdom,
calumniated!"

"Fire and fury!" exclaimed Smith, getting up with the brandy-bottle in
his grasp; "no man shall abuse Mr. Wild in my presence! He's the
right-hand of the community! We could do nothing without him!"

"_We!_" repeated Wood, significantly.

"Every honest man, Sir! He helps us to our own again."

"Humph!" ejaculated the carpenter.

"Surely," observed Thames, laughing, "to one who entertains so high an
opinion of Jonathan Wild, as Mr. Jackson appears to do, it can't be very
offensive to be told, that he's like him."

"I don't object to the likeness, if any such exists, young Sir,"
returned Jackson, darting an angry glance at Thames; "indeed I'm rather
flattered by being thought to resemble a gentleman of Mr. Wild's figure.
But I can't submit to hear the well-earned reputation of my friend
termed an 'infamous notoriety.'"

"No, we can't stand that," hiccupped Smith, scarcely able to keep his
legs.

"Well, gentlemen," rejoined Wood, mildly; "since Mr. Wild is a friend of
yours, I'm sorry for what I said. I've no doubt he's as honest as either
of you."

"Enough," returned Jackson, extending his hand; "and if I've expressed
myself warmly, I'm sorry for it likewise. But you must allow me to
observe, my good Sir, that you're wholly in the wrong respecting my
friend. Mr. Wild never was the associate of thieves."

"Never," echoed Smith, emphatically, "upon my honour."

"I'm satisfied with your assurance," replied the carpenter, drily.

"It's more than I am," muttered Thames.

"I was not aware that Jonathan Wild was an acquaintance of yours, Mr.
Jackson," said Kneebone, whose assiduity to Mrs. Wood had prevented him
from paying much attention to the previous scene.

"I've known him all my life," replied the other.

"The devil you have! Then, perhaps, you can tell me when he intends to
put his threat into execution?"

"What threat?" asked Jackson.

"Why, of hanging the fellow who acts as his jackal; one Blake, or
Blueskin, I think he's called."

"You've been misinformed, Sir," interposed Smith. "Mr. Wild is incapable
of such baseness."

"Bah!" returned the woollen-draper. "I see you don't know him as well as
you pretend. Jonathan is capable of anything. He has hanged twelve of
his associates already. The moment they cease to be serviceable, or
become dangerous he lodges an information, and the matter's settled. He
has always plenty of evidence in reserve. Blueskin is booked. As sure as
you're sitting there, Mr. Smith, he'll swing after next Old Bailey
sessions. I wouldn't be in his skin for a trifle!"

"But he may peach," said Smith casting an oblique glance at Jackson.

"It would avail him little if he did," replied Kneebone. "Jonathan does
what he pleases in the courts."

"Very true," chuckled Jackson; "very true."

"Blueskin's only chance would be to carry _his_ threat into effect,"
pursued the woollen-draper.

"Aha!" exclaimed Jackson. "_He_ threatens, does he?"

"More than that," replied Kneebone; "I understand he drew a knife upon
Jonathan, in a quarrel between them lately. And since then, he has
openly avowed his determination of cutting his master's throat on the
slightest inkling of treachery. But, perhaps Mr. Smith will tell you I'm
misinformed, also, on that point."

"On the contrary," rejoined Smith, looking askance at his companion, "I
happen to _know_ you're in the right."

"Well, Sir, I'm obliged to you," said Jackson; "I shall take care to put
Mr. Wild on his guard against an assassin."

"And I shall put Blueskin on the alert against the designs of a
traitor," rejoined Smith, in a tone that sounded like a menace.

"In my opinion," remarked Kneebone, "it doesn't matter how soon society
is rid of two such scoundrels; and if Blueskin dies by the rope, and
Jonathan by the hand of violence, they'll meet the fate they merit. Wild
was formerly an agent to the Jacobite party, but, on the offer of a
bribe from the opposite faction, he unhesitatingly deserted and betrayed
his old employers. Of late, he has become the instrument of Walpole, and
does all the dirty work for the Secret Committee. Several arrests of
importance have been intrusted to him; but, forewarned, forearmed, we
have constantly baffled his schemes;--ha! ha! Jonathan's a devilish
clever fellow. But he can't have his eyes always about him, or he'd have
been with us this morning at the Mint, eh, Mr. Jackson!"

"So he would," replied the latter: "so he would."

"With all his cunning, he may meet with his match," continued Kneebone,
laughing. "I've set a trap for him."

"Take care you don't fall into it yourself," returned Jackson, with a
slight sneer.

"Were I in your place," said Smith, "I should be apprehensive of Wild,
because he's a declared enemy."

"And were I in _yours_," rejoined the woollen-draper, "I should be
doubly apprehensive, because he's a professed friend. But we're
neglecting the punch all this time. A bumper round, gentlemen. Success
to our enterprise!"

"Success to our enterprise!" echoed the others, significantly.

"May I ask whether you made any further inquiries into the mysterious
affair about which we were speaking just now?" observed Jackson, turning
to the carpenter.

"I can't say I did," replied Wood, somewhat reluctantly; "what with the
confusion incident to the storm, and the subsequent press of business, I
put it off till it was too late. I've often regretted that I didn't
investigate the matter. However, it doesn't much signify. All concerned
in the dark transaction must have perished."

"Are you sure of that," inquired Jackson.

"As sure as one reasonably can be. I saw their boat swept away, and
heard the roar of the fall beneath the bridge; and no one, who was
present, could doubt the result. If the principal instigator of the
crime, whom I afterwards encountered on the platform, and who was dashed
into the raging flood by the shower of bricks, escaped, his preservation
must have been indeed miraculous."

"Your own was equally so," said Jackson ironically. "What if he _did_
escape?"

"My utmost efforts should be used to bring him to justice."

"Hum!"

"Have you any reason to suppose he survived the accident?" inquired
Thames eagerly.

Jackson smiled and put on the air of a man who knows more than he cares
to tell.

"I merely asked the question," he said, after he had enjoyed the boy's
suspense for a moment.

The hope that had been suddenly kindled in the youth's bosom was as
suddenly extinguished.

"If I thought he lived----" observed Wood.

"_If_," interrupted Jackson, changing his tone: "he _does_ live. And it
has been well for you that he imagines the child was drowned."

"Who is he?" asked Thames impatiently.

"You're inquisitive, young gentleman," replied Jackson, coldly. "When
you're older, you'll know that secrets of importance are not disclosed
gratuitously. Your adoptive father understands mankind better."

"I'd give half I'm worth to hang the villain, and restore this boy to
his rights," said Mr. Wood.

"How do you know he _has_ any rights to be restored to?" returned
Jackson, with a grin. "Judging from what you tell me, I've no doubt he's
the illegitimate offspring of some handsome, but lowborn profligate; in
which case, he'll neither have name, nor wealth for his inheritance. The
assassination, as you call it, was, obviously, the vengeance of a
kinsman of the injured lady, who no doubt was of good family, upon her
seducer. The less said, therefore, on this point the better; because, as
nothing is to be gained by it, it would only be trouble thrown away.
But, if you have any particular fancy for hanging the gentleman, who
chose to take the law into his own hands--and I think your motive
extremely disinterested and praiseworthy--why, it's just possible, if
you make it worth my while, that your desires may be gratified."

"I don't see how this is to be effected, unless you yourself were
present at the time," said Wood, glancing suspiciously at the speaker.

"I had no hand in the affair," replied Jackson, bluntly; "but I know
those who had; and could bring forward evidence, if you require it."

"The best evidence would be afforded by an accomplice of the assassin,"
rejoined Thames, who was greatly offended by the insinuation as to his
parentage.

"Perhaps you could point out such a party, Mr. Jackson?" said Wood,
significantly.

"I could," replied Thames.

"Then you need no further information from me," rejoined Jackson,
sternly.

"Stay!" cried Wood, "this is a most perplexing business--if you really
are privy to the affair----"

"We'll talk of it to-morrow, Sir," returned Jackson, cutting him short.
"In the mean time, with your permission, I'll just make a few minutes of
our conversation."

"As many as you please," replied Wood, walking towards the
chimney-piece, and taking down a constable's, staff, which hung upon a
nail.

Jackson, mean time, produced a pocket-book; and, after deliberately
sharpening the point of a pencil, began to write on a blank leaf. While
he was thus occupied, Thames, prompted by an unaccountable feeling of
curiosity, took up the penknife which the other had just used, and
examined the haft. What he there noticed occasioned a marked change in
his demeanour. He laid down the knife, and fixed a searching and
distrustful gaze upon the writer, who continued his task, unconscious of
anything having happened.

"There," cried Jackson, closing the book and rising, "that'll do.
To-morrow at twelve I'll be with you, Mr. Wood. Make up your mind as to
the terms, and I'll engage to find the man."

"Hold!" exclaimed the carpenter, in an authoritative voice: "we can't
part thus. Thames, look the door." (An order which was promptly obeyed.)
"Now, Sir, I must insist upon a full explanation of your mysterious
hints, or, as I am headborough of the district, I shall at once take you
into custody."

Jackson treated this menace with a loud laugh of derision.

"What ho!" he cried slapping Smith, who had fallen asleep with the
brandy-bottle in his grasp, upon the shoulder. "It is time!"

"For what?" grumbled the latter, rubbing his eyes.

"For the caption!" replied Jackson, coolly drawing a brace of pistols
from his pockets.

"Ready!" answered Smith, shaking himself, and producing a similar pair
of weapons.

"In Heaven's name! what's all this?" cried Wood.

"Be still, and you'll receive no injury," returned Jackson. "We're
merely about to discharge our duty by apprehending a rebel. Captain
Kneebone! we must trouble you to accompany us."

"I've no intention of stirring," replied the woollen-draper, who was
thus unceremoniously disturbed: "and I beg you'll sit down, Mr.
Jackson."

"Come, Sir!" thundered the latter, "no trifling! Perhaps," he added,
opening a warrant, "you'll obey this mandate?"

"A warrant!" ejaculated Kneebone, starting to his feet.

"Ay, Sir, from the Secretary of State, for _your_ arrest! You're charged
with high-treason."

"By those who've conspired with me?"

"No! by those who've entrapped you! You've long eluded our vigilance;
but we've caught you at last!"

"Damnation!" exclaimed the woollen-draper; "that I should be the dupe of
such a miserable artifice!"

"It's no use lamenting now, Captain! You ought rather to be obliged to
us for allowing you to pay this visit. We could have secured you when
you left the Mint. But we wished to ascertain whether Mrs. Wood's charms
equalled your description."

"Wretches!" screamed the lady; "don't dare to breathe your vile
insinuations against me! Oh! Mr. Kneebone, are these your French
noblemen?"

"Don't upbraid me!" rejoined the woollen-draper.

"Bring him along, Joe!" said Jackson, in a whisper to his comrade.

Smith obeyed. But he had scarcely advanced a step, when he was felled
to the ground by a blow from the powerful arm of Kneebone, who,
instantly possessing himself of a pistol, levelled it at Jackson's head.

"Begone! or I fire!" he cried.

"Mr. Wood," returned Jackson, with the utmost composure; "you're a
headborough, and a loyal subject of King George. I call upon you to
assist me in the apprehension of this person. You'll be answerable for
his escape."

"Mr. Wood, I command you not to stir," vociferated the carpenter's
better-half; "recollect you'll be answerable to me."

"I declare I don't know what to do," said Wood, burned by conflicting
emotions. "Mr. Kneebone! you would greatly oblige me by surrendering
yourself."

"Never!" replied the woollen-draper; "and if that treacherous rascal, by
your side, doesn't make himself scarce quickly, I'll send a bullet
through his brain."

"My death will lie at your door," remarked Jackson to the carpenter.

"Show me your warrant!" said Wood, almost driven to his wit's-end;
"perhaps it isn't regular?"

"Ask him who he is?" suggested Thames.

"A good idea!" exclaimed the carpenter. "May I beg to know whom I've the
pleasure of adressing? Jackson, I conclude, is merely an assumed name."

"What does it signify?" returned the latter, angrily.

"A great deal!" replied Thames. "If you won't disclose your name, I will
for you! You are Jonathan Wild!"

"Further concealment is needless," answered the other, pulling off his
wig and black patch, and resuming his natural tone of voice; "I _am_
Jonathan Wild!"

"Say you so!" rejoined Kneebone; "then be this your passport to
eternity."

Upon which he drew the trigger of the pistol, which, luckily for the
individual against whom it was aimed, flashed in the pan.

"I might now send you on a similar journey!" replied Jonathan, with a
bitter smile, and preserving the unmoved demeanour he had maintained
throughout; "but I prefer conveying you, in the first instance, to
Newgate. The Jacobite daws want a scarecrow."

So saying, he sprang, with a bound like that of a tiger-cat, against the
throat of the woollen-draper. And so sudden and well-directed was the
assault, that he completely overthrew his gigantic antagonist.

"Lend a hand with the ruffles, Blueskin!" he shouted, as that personage,
who had just recovered from the stunning effects of the blow, contrived
to pick himself up. "Look quick, d--n you, or we shall never master
him!"

"Murder!" shrieked Mrs. Wood, at the top of her voice.

"Here's a pistol!" cried Thames, darting towards the undischarged weapon
dropped by Blueskin in the scuffle, and pointing it at Jonathan. "Shall
I shoot him?"

"Yes! yes! put it to his ear!" cried Mrs. Wood; "that's the surest way!"

"No! no! give it me!" vociferated Wood, snatching the pistol, and
rushing to the door, against which he placed his back.

"I'll soon settle this business. Jonathan Wild!" he added, in a loud
voice, "I command you to release your prisoner."

"So I will," replied Jonathan, who, with Blueskin's aid, had succeeded
in slipping a pair of handcuffs over the woollen-draper's wrists, "when
I've Mr. Walpole's order to that effect--but not before."

"You'll take the consequences, then?"

"Willingly."

"In that case I arrest you, and your confederate, Joseph Blake, alias
Blueskin, on a charge of felony," returned Wood, brandishing his staff;
"resist my authority, if you dare."

"A clever device," replied Jonathan; "but it won't serve your turn. Let
us pass, Sir. Strike the gag, Blueskin."

"You shall not stir a footstep. Open the window, Thames, and call for
assistance."

"Stop!" cried Jonathan, who did not care to push matters too far, "let
me have a word with you, Mr. Wood."

"I'll have no explanations whatever," replied the carpenter,
disdainfully, "except before a magistrate."

"At least state your charge. It is a serious accusation."

"It _is_," answered Wood. "Do you recollect this key? Do you recollect
to whom you gave it, and for what purpose? or shall I refresh your
memory?"

Wild appeared confounded.

"Release your prisoner," continued Wood, "or the window is opened."

"Mr. Wood," said Jonathan, advancing towards him, and speaking in a low
tone, "the secret of your adopted son's birth is known to me. The name
of his father's murderer is also known to me. I can help you to
both,--nay, I _will_ help you to both, if you do not interfere with my
plans. The arrest of this person is of consequence to me. Do not oppose
it, and I will serve you. Thwart me, and I become your mortal enemy. I
have but to give a hint of that boy's existence in the proper quarter,
and his life will not be worth a day's purchase."

"Don't listen to him, father," cried Thames, unconscious of what was
passing; "there are plenty of people outside."

"Make your choice," said Jonathan.

"If you don't decide quickly, I'll scream," cried Mrs. Wood, popping her
head through the window.

"Set your prisoner free!" returned Wood.

"Take off the ruffles, Blueskin," rejoined Wild. "You know my fixed
determination," he added in a low tone, as he passed the carpenter.
"Before to-morrow night that boy shall join his father."

So saying, he unlocked the door and strode out of the room.

"Here are some letters, which will let you see what a snake you've
cherished in your bosom, you uxorious old dotard," said Blueskin,
tossing a packet of papers to Wood, as he followed his leader.

"'Odd's-my-life! what's this?" exclaimed the carpenter, looking at the
superscription of one of them. "Why, this is your writing Dolly, and
addressed to Mr. Kneebone."

"My writing! no such thing!" ejaculated the lady, casting a look of
alarm at the woollen-draper.

"Confusion! the rascal must have picked my pocket of your letters,"
whispered Kneebone, "What's to be done?"

"What's to be done! Why, I'm undone! How imprudent in you not to burn
them. But men _are_ so careless, there's no trusting anything to them!
However, I must try to brazen it out.--Give me the letters, my love,"
she added aloud, and in her most winning accents; "they're some wicked
forgeries."

"Excuse me, Madam," replied the carpenter, turning his back upon her,
and sinking into a chair: "Thames, my love, bring me my spectacles. My
heart misgives me. Fool that I was to marry for beauty! I ought to have
remembered that a fair woman and a slashed gown always find some nail in
the way."




CHAPTER VI.

The first Step towards the Ladder.


If there is one thing on earth, more lovely than another, it is a fair
girl of the tender age of Winifred Wood! Her beauty awakens no feeling
beyond that of admiration. The charm of innocence breathes around her,
as fragrance is diffused by the flower, sanctifying her lightest thought
and action, and shielding her, like a spell, from the approach of evil.
Beautiful is the girl of twelve,--who is neither child nor woman, but
something between both, something more exquisite than either!

Such was the fairy creature presented to Thames Darrell, under the
following circumstances.

Glad to escape from the scene of recrimination that ensued between his
adopted parents, Thames seized the earliest opportunity of retiring, and
took his way to a small chamber in the upper part of the house, where he
and Jack were accustomed to spend most of their leisure in the
amusements, or pursuits, proper to their years. He found the door ajar,
and, to his surprise, perceived little Winifred seated at a table,
busily engaged in tracing some design upon a sheet of paper. She did not
hear his approach, but continued her occupation without raising her
head.

It was a charming sight to watch the motions of her tiny fingers as she
pursued her task; and though the posture she adopted was not the most
favourable that might have been chosen for the display of her sylphlike
figure, there was something in her attitude, and the glow of her
countenance, lighted up by the mellow radiance of the setting sun
falling upon her through the panes of the little dormer-window, that
seemed to the youth inexpressibly beautiful. Winifred's features would
have been pretty, for they were regular and delicately formed, if they
had not been slightly marked by the small-pox;--a disorder, that
sometimes spares more than it destroys, and imparts an expression to be
sought for in vain in the smoothest complexion. We have seen pitted
cheeks, which we would not exchange for dimples and a satin skin.
Winifred's face had a thoroughly amiable look. Her mouth was worthy of
her face; with small, pearly-white teeth; lips glossy, rosy, and
pouting; and the sweetest smile imaginable, playing constantly about
them. Her eyes were soft and blue, arched over by dark brows, and
fringed by long silken lashes. Her hair was of the darkest brown, and
finest texture; and, when unloosed, hung down to her heels. She was
dressed in a little white frock, with a very long body, and very short
sleeves, which looked (from a certain fullness about the hips,) as if it
was intended to be worn with a hoop. Her slender throat was encircled by
a black riband, with a small locket attached to it; and upon the top of
her head rested a diminutive lace cap.

The room in which she sat was a portion of the garret, assigned, as we
have just stated, by Mr. Wood as a play-room to the two boys; and, like
most boy's playrooms, it exhibited a total absence of order, or
neatness. Things were thrown here and there, to be taken up, or again
cast aside, as the whim arose; while the broken-backed chairs and crazy
table bore the marks of many a conflict. The characters of the youthful
occupants of the room might be detected in every article it contained.
Darell's peculiar bent of mind was exemplified in a rusty broadsword, a
tall grenadier's cap, a musket without lock or ramrod, a belt and
cartouch-box, with other matters evincing a decided military taste.
Among his books, Plutarch's Lives, and the Histories of Great
Commanders, appeared to have been frequently consulted; but the dust had
gathered thickly upon the Carpenter's Manual, and a Treatise on
Trigonometry and Geometry. Beneath the shelf, containing these books,
hung the fine old ballad of '_St. George for England_' and a loyal
ditty, then much in vogue, called '_True Protestant Gratitude, or,
Britain's Thanksgiving for the First of August, Being the Day of His
Majesty's Happy Accession to the Throne_.' Jack Sheppard's library
consisted of a few ragged and well-thumbed volumes abstracted from the
tremendous chronicles bequeathed to the world by those Froissarts and
Holinsheds of crime--the Ordinaries of Newgate. His vocal collection
comprised a couple of flash songs pasted against the wall, entitled
'_The Thief-Catcher's Prophecy_,' and the '_Life and Death of the
Darkman's Budge_;' while his extraordinary mechanical skill was
displayed in what he termed (Jack had a supreme contempt for
orthography,) a '_Moddle of his Ma^{s}. Jale off Newgate_;' another
model of the pillory at Fleet Bridge; and a third of the permanent
gibbet at Tyburn. The latter specimen, of his workmanship was adorned
with a little scarecrow figure, intended to represent a housebreaking
chimney-sweeper of the time, described in Sheppard's own hand-writing,
as '_Jack Hall a-hanging_.' We must not omit to mention that a family
group from the pencil of little Winifred, representing Mr. and Mrs.
Wood in very characteristic attitudes, occupied a prominent place on the
walls.

For a few moments, Thames regarded the little girl through the
half-opened door in silence. On a sudden, a change came over her
countenance, which, up to this moment, had worn a smiling and satisfied
expression. Throwing down the pencil, she snatched up a piece of
India-rubber, and exclaiming,--"It isn't at all like him! it isn't half
handsome enough!" was about to efface the sketch, when Thames darted
into the room.

"Who isn't it like?" he asked, endeavouring to gain possession of the
drawing, which, af the sound of his footstep, she crushed between her
fingers.

"I can't tell you!" she replied, blushing deeply, and clinching her
little hand as tightly as possible; "it's a secret!"

"I'll soon find it out, then," he returned, playfully forcing the paper
from her grasp.

"Don't look at it, I entreat," she cried.

But her request was unheeded. Thames unfolded the drawing, smoothed out
its creases, and beheld a portrait of himself.

"I've a good mind not to speak to you again, Sir!" cried Winifred, with
difficulty repressing a tear of vexation; "you've acted unfairly."

"I feel I have, dear Winny!" replied Thames, abashed at his own
rudeness; "my conduct is inexcusable."

"I'll excuse it nevertheless," returned the little damsel,
affectionately extending her hand to him.

"Why were you afraid to show me this picture, Winny?" asked the youth.

"Because it's not like you," was her answer.

"Well, like or not, I'm greatly pleased with it, and must beg it from
you as a memorial----"

"Of what?" she interrupted, startled by his change of manner.

"Of yourself," he replied, in a mournful tone. "I shall value it highly,
and will promise never to part with it. Winny, this is the last night I
shall pass beneath your father's roof."

"Have you told him so?" she inquired, reproachfully. "No; but I shall,
before he retires to rest."

"Then you _will_ stay!" she cried, clapping her hands joyfully, "for I'm
sure he won't part with you. Oh! thank you--thank you! I'm so happy!"

"Stop, Winny!" he answered, gravely; "I haven't promised yet."

"But you will,--won't you?" she rejoined, looking him coaxingly in the
face.

Unable to withstand this appeal, Thames gave the required promise,
adding,--"Oh! Winny, I wish Mr. Wood had been my father, as well as
yours."

"So do I!" she cried; "for then you would have been _really_ my brother.
No, I don't, either; because----"

"Well, Winny?"

"I don't know what I was going to say," she added, in some confusion;
"only I'm sorry you were born a gentleman."

"Perhaps, I wasn't," returned Thames, gloomily, as the remembrance of
Jonathan Wild's foul insinuation crossed him. "But never mind who, or
what I am. Give me this picture. I'll keep it for your sake."

"I'll give you something better worth keeping," she answered, detaching
the ornament from her neck, and presenting it to him; "this contains a
lock of my hair, and may remind you sometimes of your little sister. As
to the picture, I'll keep it myself, though, if you _do_ go I shall need
no memorial of _you_. I'd a good many things to say to you, besides--but
you've put them all out of my head."

With this, she burst into tears, and sank with her face upon his
shoulder. Thames did not try to cheer her. His own heart was too full of
melancholy foreboding. He felt that he might soon be separated--perhaps,
for ever--from the fond little creature he held in his arms, whom he had
always regarded with the warmest fraternal affection, and the thought of
how much she would suffer from the separation so sensibly affected him,
that he could not help joining in her grief.

From this sorrowful state he was aroused by a loud derisive whistle,
followed by a still louder laugh; and, looking up, he beheld the
impudent countenance of Jack Sheppard immediately before him.

"Aha!" exclaimed Jack, with a roguish wink, "I've caught you,--have I?"

    The carpenter's daughter was fair and free--
    Fair, and fickle, and false, was she!
    She slighted the journeyman, (meaning _me!_)
    And smiled on a gallant of high degree.
                               Degree! degree!
    She smiled on a gallant of high degree.
    Ha! ha! ha!"


"Jack!" exclaimed Thames, angrily.

But Sheppard was not to be silenced. He went on with his song,
accompanying it with the most ridiculous grimaces:

    "When years were gone by, she began to rue
    Her love for the gentleman, (meaning _you!_)
    'I slighted the journeyman fond,' quoth she,
    'But where is my gallant of high degree?
                                Where! where!
    Oh! where is my gallant of high degree?'
    Ho! ho! ho!"

"What are you doing here!" demanded Thames.

"Oh! nothing at all," answered Jack, sneeringly, "though this room's as
much mine as yours, for that matter. 'But I don't desire to spoil
sport,--not I. And, if you'll give me such a smack of your sweet lips,
Miss, as you've just given Thames, I'll take myself off in less than no
time."

The answer to this request was a "smack" of a very different
description, bestowed upon Sheppard's outstretched face by the little
damsel, as she ran out of the room.

"'Odd's! bodikins!" cried Jack, rubbing his cheek, "I'm in luck to-day.
However, I'd rather have a blow from the daughter than the mother. I
know who hits hardest. I tell you what, Thames," he added, flinging
himself carelessly into a chair, "I'd give my right hand,--and that's
no light offer for a carpenter's 'prentice,--if that little minx were
half as fond of me as she is of you."

"That's not likely to be the case, if you go on in this way," replied
Thames, sharply.

"Why, what the devil would you have had me do!--make myself scarce, eh?
You should have tipped me the wink."

"No more of this," rejoined Thames, "or we shall quarrel."

"Who cares if we do?" retorted Sheppard, with a look of defiance.

"Jack," said the other, sternly; "don't provoke me further, or I'll give
you a thrashing."

"Two can play at that game, my blood," replied Sheppard, rising, and
putting himself into a posture of defence.

"Take care of yourself, then," rejoined Thames, doubling his fists, and
advancing towards him: "though my right arm's stiff, I can use it, as
you'll find."

Sheppard was no match for his opponent, for, though he possessed more
science, he was deficient in weight and strength; and, after a short
round, in which he had decidedly the worst of it, a well-directed hit on
the _nob_ stretched him at full length on the floor.

"That'll teach you to keep a civil tongue in your head for the future,"
observed Thames, as he helped Jack to his feet.

"I didn't mean to give offence," replied Sheppard, sulkily. "But, let me
tell you, it's not a pleasant sight to see the girl one likes in the
arms of another."

"You want another drubbing, I perceive," said Thames, frowning.

"No, I don't. Enough's as good as a feast of the dainties you provide.
I'll think no more about her. Save us!" he cried, as his glance
accidentally alighted on the drawing, which Winifred had dropped in her
agitation. "Is this _her_ work?"

"It is," answered Thames. "Do you see any likeness?"

"Don't I," returned Jack, bitterly. "Strange!" he continued, as if
talking to himself. "How very like it is!"

"Not so strange, surely," laughed Thames, "that a picture should
resemble the person for whom it's intended."

"Ay, but it _is_ strange how much it resembles somebody for whom it's
_not_ intended. It's exactly like a miniature I have in my pocket."

"A miniature! Of whom?"

"That I can't say," replied Jack, mysteriously. "But, I half suspect, of
your father."

"My father!" exclaimed Thames, in the utmost astonishment; "let me see
it!"

"Here it is," returned Jack, producing a small picture in a case set
with brilliants.

Thames took it, and beheld the portrait of a young man,
apparently--judging from his attire--of high rank, whose proud and
patrician features certainly presented a very striking resemblance to
his own.

"You're right Jack," he said, after a pause, during which he
contemplated the picture with the most fixed attention: "this must have
been my father!"

"No doubt of it," answered Sheppard; "only compare it with Winny's
drawing, and you'll find they're as like as two peas in a pod."

"Where did you get it?" inquired Thames.

"From Lady Trafford's, where I took the box."

"Surely, you haven't stolen it?"

"Stolen's an awkward word. But, as you perceive, I brought it away with
me."

"It must be restored instantly,--be the consequences what they may."

"You're not going to betray me!" cried Jack, in alarm.

"I am not," replied Thames; "but I insist upon your taking it back at
once."

"Take it back yourself," retorted Jack, sullenly. "I shall do no such
thing."

"Very well," replied Thames, about to depart.

"Stop!" exclaimed Jack, planting himself before the door; "do you want
to get me sent across the water?"

"I want to save you from disgrace and ruin," returned Thames.

"Bah!" cried Jack, contemptuously; "nobody's disgraced and ruined
unless he's found out. I'm safe enough if you hold your tongue. Give me
that picture, or I'll make you!"

"Hear me," said Thames, calmly; "you well know you're no match for me."

"Not at fisticuffs, perhaps," interrupted Jack, fiercely; "but I've my
knife."

"You daren't use it."

"Try to leave the room, and see whether I daren't," returned Jack,
opening the blade.

"I didn't expect this from you," rejoined Thames, resolutely. "But your
threats won't prevent my leaving the room when I please, and as I
please. Now, will you stand aside?"

"I won't," answered Jack, obstinately.

Thames said not another word, but marched boldly towards him, and seized
him by the collar.

"Leave go!" cried Jack, struggling violently, and raising his hand, "or
I'll maul you for life."

But Thames was not to be deterred from his purpose; and the strife might
have terminated seriously, if a peace-maker had not appeared in the
shape of little Winifred, who, alarmed by the noise, rushed suddenly
into the room.

"Ah!" she screamed, seeing the uplifted weapon in Sheppard's hand,
"don't hurt Thames--don't, dear Jack! If you want to kill somebody, kill
me, not him."

And she flung herself between them.

Jack dropped the knife, and walked sullenly aside.

"What has caused this quarrel, Thames?" asked the little girl,
anxiously.

"You," answered Jack, abruptly.

"No such thing," rejoined Thames. "I'll tell you all about it presently.
But you must leave us now, dear Winny, Jack and I have something to
settle between ourselves. Don't be afraid. Our quarrel's quite over."

"Are you sure of that?" returned Winifred, looking uneasily at Jack.

"Ay, ay," rejoined Sheppard; "he may do what he pleases,--hang me, if
he thinks proper,--if _you_ wish it."

With this assurance, and at the reiterated request of Thames, the little
girl reluctantly withdrew.

"Come, come, Jack," said Thames, walking up to Sheppard, and taking his
hand, "have done with this. I tell you once more, I'll say and do
nothing to get you into trouble. Best assured of that. But I'm resolved
to see Lady Trafford. Perhaps, she may tell me whose picture this is."

"So she may," returned Jack, brightening up; "it's a good idea. I'll go
with you. But you must see her alone; and that'll be no easy matter to
manage, for she's a great invalid, and has generally somebody with her.
Above all, beware of Sir Rowland Trenchard. He's as savage and
suspicious as the devil himself. I should never have noticed the
miniature at all, if it hadn't been for him. He was standing by, rating
her ladyship,--who can scarcely stir from the sofa,--while I was packing
up her jewels in the case, and I observed that she tried to hide a small
casket from him. His back was no sooner turned, than she slipped this
casket into the box. The next minute, I contrived, without either of 'em
perceiving me, to convey it into my own pocket. I was sorry for what I
did afterwards; for, I don't know why, but, poor, lady! with her pale
face, and black eyes, she reminded me of my mother."

"That, alone, ought to have prevented you from acting as you did, Jack,"
returned Thames, gravely.

"I should never have acted as I did," rejoined Sheppard, bitterly; "if
Mrs. Wood hadn't struck me. That blow made me a thief. And, if ever I'm
brought to the gallows, I shall lay my death at her door."

"Well, think no more about it," returned Thames. "Do better in future."

"I will, when I've had my revenge," muttered Jack. "But, take my advice,
and keep out of Sir Rowland's way, or you'll get the poor lady into
trouble as well as me."

"Never fear," replied Thames, taking up his hat. "Come, let's be off."

The two boys, then, emerged upon the landing, and were about to descend
the stairs, when the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Wood resounded from below.
The storm appeared to have blown over, for they were conversing in a
very amicable manner with Mr. Kneebone, who was on the point of
departing.

"Quite sorry, my good friend, there should have been any
misunderstanding between us," observed the woollen-draper.

"Don't mention it," returned Wood, in the conciliatory tone of one who
admits he has been in the wrong; "your explanation is perfectly
satisfactory."

"We shall expect you to-morrow," insinuated Mrs. Wood; "and pray, don't
bring anybody with you,--especially Jonathan Wild."

"No fear of that," laughed Kneebone.--"Oh! about that boy, Thames
Darrell. His safety must be looked to. Jonathan's threats are not to be
sneezed at. The rascal will be at work before the morning. Keep your eye
upon the lad. And mind he doesn't stir out of your sight, on any
pretence whatever, till I call."

"You hear that," whispered Jack.

"I do," replied Thames, in the same tone; "we haven't a moment to lose."

"Take care of yourself," said Mr. Wood, "and I'll take care of Thames.
It's never a bad day that has a good ending. Good night! God bless you!"

Upon this, there was a great shaking of hands, with renewed apologies
and protestations of friendship on both sides; after which Mr. Kneebone
took his leave.

"And so, you really suspected me?" murmured Mrs. Wood, reproachfully, as
they returned to the parlour. "Oh! you men! you men! Once get a thing
into your head, and nothing will beat it out."

"Why, my love," rejoined her husband, "appearances, you must allow, were
a little against you. But since you assure me _you_ didn't write the
letters, and Mr. Kneebone assures me _he_ didn't receive them, I can't
do otherwise than believe you. And I've made up my mind that a husband
ought to believe only half that he hears, and nothing that he sees."

"An excellent maxim!" replied his wife, approvingly; "the best I ever
heard you utter."

"I must now go and look after Thames," observed the carpenter.

"Oh! never mind him: he'll take no harm! Come with me into the parlour.
I can't spare you at present. Heigho!"

"Now for it!" cried Jack, as the couple entered the room: "the coast's
clear."

Thames was about to follow, when he felt a gentle grasp upon his arm. He
turned, and beheld Winifred.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"I shall be back presently," replied Thames, evasively.

"Don't go, I beg of you!" she implored. "You're in danger. I overheard
what Mr. Kneebone said, just now."

"Death and the devil! what a cursed interruption!" cried Jack,
impatiently. "If you loiter in this way, old Wood will catch us."

"If you stir, I'll call him!" rejoined Winifred. "It's you, Jack, who
are persuading my brother to do wrong. Thames," she urged, "the errand,
on which you're going, can't be for any good, or you wouldn't be afraid
of mentioning it to my father."

"He's coming!" cried Jack, stamping his foot, with vexation. "Another
moment, and it'll be too late."

"Winny, I _must_ go!" said Thames, breaking from her.

"Stay, dear Thames!--stay!" cried the little girl. "He hears me not!
he's gone!" she added, as the door was opened and shut with violence;
"something tells me I shall never see him again!"

When her father, a moment afterwards, issued from the parlour to
ascertain the cause of the noise, he found her seated on the stairs, in
an agony of grief.

"Where's Thames?" he hastily inquired.

Winifred pointed to the door. She could not speak.

"And Jack?"

"Gone too," sobbed his daughter.

Mr. Wood uttered something like an imprecation.

"God forgive me for using such a word!" he cried, in a troubled tone;
"if I hadn't yielded to my wife's silly request, this wouldn't have
happened!"




CHAPTER VII.

Brother and Sister.


On the same evening, in a stately chamber of a noble old mansion of
Elizabeth's time, situated in Southampton Fields, two persons were
seated. One of these, a lady, evidently a confirmed invalid, and attired
in deep mourning, reclined upon a sort of couch, or easy chair, set on
wheels, with her head supported by cushions, and her feet resting upon a
velvet footstool. A crutch, with a silver handle, stood by her side,
proving the state of extreme debility to which she was reduced. It was
no easy matter to determine her age, for, though she still retained a
certain youthfulness of appearance, she had many marks in her
countenance, usually indicating the decline of life, but which in her
case were, no doubt, the result of constant and severe indisposition.
Her complexion was wan and faded, except where it was tinged by a slight
hectic flush, that made the want of colour more palpable; her eyes were
large and black, but heavy and lustreless; her cheeks sunken; her frame
emaciated; her dark hair thickly scattered with gray. When younger, and
in better health, she must have been eminently lovely; and there were
still the remains of great beauty about her. The expression, however,
which would chiefly have interested a beholder, was that of settled and
profound melancholy.

Her companion was a person of no inferior condition. Indeed it was
apparent, from the likeness between them, that they were nearly related.
He had the same dark eyes, though lighted by a fierce flame; the same
sallow complexion; the same tall, thin figure, and majestic demeanour;
the same proud cast of features. But here the resemblance stopped. The
expression was wholly different. He looked melancholy enough, it is
true. But his gloom appeared to be occasioned by remorse, rather than
sorrow. No sterner head was ever beheld beneath the cowl of a monk, or
the bonnet of an inquisitor. He seemed inexorable, and inscrutable as
fate itself.

"Well, Lady Trafford," he said, fixing a severe look upon her. "You
depart for Lancashire to-morrow. Have I your final answer?"

"You have, Sir Rowland," she answered, in a feeble tone, but firmly.
"You shall have the sum you require, but----"

"But what, Madam!"

"Do not misunderstand me," she proceeded. "I give it to King James--not
so you: for the furtherance of a great and holy cause, not for the
prosecution of wild and unprofitable schemes."

Sir Rowland bit his lips to repress the answer that rose to them.

"And the will?" he said, with forced calmness. "Do you still refuse to
make one!"

"I _have_ made one," replied Lady Trafford.

"How?" cried her brother, starting.

"Rowland," she rejoined, "you strive in vain to terrify me into
compliance with your wishes. Nothing shall induce me to act contrary to
the dictates of my conscience. My will is executed, and placed in safe
custody."

"In whose favour is it made?" he inquired, sternly.

"In favour of my son."

"You have no son," rejoined Sir Rowland, moodily.

"I _had_ one," answered his sister, in a mournful voice; "and, perhaps,
I have one still."

"If I thought so--" cried the knight fiercely; "but this is idle," he
added, suddenly checking himself. "Aliva, your child perished with its
father."

"And by whom were they both destroyed?" demanded his sister, raising
herself by a painful effort, and regarding him with a searching glance.

"By the avenger of his family's dishonour--by your brother," he replied,
coolly.

"Brother," cried Lady Trafford, her eye blazing with unnatural light,
and her cheek suffused with a crimson stain: "Brother," she cried,
lifting her thin fingers towards Heaven, "as God shall judge me, I was
wedded to that murdered man!"

"A lie!" ejaculated Sir Rowland, furiously; "a black, and damning lie!"

"It is the truth," replied his sister, falling backwards upon the couch.
"I will swear it upon the cross!"

"His name, then?" demanded the knight. "Tell me that, and I will believe
you."

"Not now--not now!" she returned, with a shudder. "When I am dead you
will learn it. Do not disquiet yourself. You will not have to wait long
for the information. Rowland," she added, in an altered tone, "I am
certain I shall not live many days. And if you treat me in this way, you
will have my death to answer for, as well as the deaths of my husband
and child. Let us part in peace. We shall take an eternal farewell of
each other."

"Be it so!" rejoined Sir Rowland, with concentrated fury; "but before we
_do_ part, I am resolved to know the name of your pretended husband!"

"Torture shall not wrest it from me," answered his sister, firmly.

"What motive have you for concealment?" he demanded.

"A vow," she answered,--"a vow to my dead husband."

Sir Rowland looked at her for a moment, as if he meditated some terrible
reply. He then arose, and, taking a few turns in the chamber, stopped
suddenly before her.

"What has put it into your head that your son yet lives?" he asked.

"I have dreamed that I shall see him before I die," she rejoined.

"Dreamed!" echoed the knight, with a ghastly smile. "Is that all? Then
learn from me that your hopes are visionary as their foundation. Unless
he can arise from the bottom of the Thames, where he and his abhorred
father lie buried, you will never behold him again in this world."

"Heaven have compassion on you, Rowland!" murmured his sister, crossing
her hands and looking upwards; "you have none on me."

"I _will_ have none till I have forced the villain's name from you!" he
cried, stamping the floor with rage.

"Rowland, your violence is killing me," she returned, in a plaintive
tone.

"His name, I say!--his name!" thundered the knight.

And he unsheathed his sword.

Lady Trafford uttered a prolonged scream, and fainted. When she came to
herself, she found that her brother had quitted the room, leaving her to
the care of a female attendant. Her first orders were to summon the rest
of her servants to make immediate preparations for her departure for
Lancashire.

"To-night, your ladyship?" ventured an elderly domestic.

"Instantly, Hobson," returned Lady Trafford; "as soon as the carriage
can be brought round."

"It shall be at the door in ten minutes. Has your ladyship any further
commands?"

"None whatever. Yet, stay! There is one thing I wish you to do. Take
that box, and put it into the carriage yourself. Where is Sir Rowland?"

"In the library, your ladyship. He has given orders that no one is to
disturb him. But there's a person in the hall--a very odd sort of
man--waiting to see him, who won't be sent away."

"Very well. Lose not a moment, Hobson."

The elderly domestic bowed, took up the case, and retired.

"Your ladyship is far too unwell to travel," remarked the female
attendant, assisting her to rise; "you'll never be able to reach
Manchester."

"It matters not, Norris," replied Lady Trafford: "I would rather die on
the road, than be exposed to another such scene as I have just
encountered."

"Dear me!" sympathised Mrs. Norris. "I was afraid from the scream I
heard, that something dreadful had happened, Sir Rowland has a terrible
temper indeed--a shocking temper! I declare he frightens me out of my
senses."

"Sir Rowland is my brother," resumed Lady Trafford coldly.

"Well that's no reason why he should treat your ladyship so shamefully,
I'm sure. Ah! how I wish, poor dear Sir Cecil were alive! he'd keep him
in order."

Lady Trafford sighed deeply.

"Your ladyship has never been well since you married Sir Cecil,"
rejoined Mrs. Norris. "For my part, I don't think you ever quite got
over the accident you met with on the night of the Great Storm."

"Norris!" gasped Lady Trafford, trembling violently.

"Mercy on us! what have I said!" cried the attendant, greatly alarmed by
the agitation of her mistress; "do sit down, your ladyship, while I run
for the ratifia and rosa solis."

"It is past," rejoined Lady Trafford, recovering herself by a powerful
effort; "but never allude to the circumstance again. Go and prepare for
our departure."

In less time than Hobson had mentioned, the carriage was announced. And
Lady Trafford having been carried down stairs, and placed within it, the
postboy drove off, at a rapid pace for Barnet.




CHAPTER VIII.

Miching Mallecho.


Sir Rowland, meantime, paced his chamber with a quick and agitated step.
He was ill at ease, though he would not have confessed his disquietude
even to himself. Not conceiving that his sister--feeble as she was, and
yielding as she had ever shown herself to his wishes, whether expressed
or implied--would depart without consulting him, he was equally
surprised and enraged to hear the servants busied in transporting her to
the carriage. His pride, however, would not suffer him to interfere
with their proceedings; much less could he bring himself to acknowledge
that he had been in the wrong, and entreat Lady Trafford to remain,
though he was well aware that her life might be endangered if she
travelled by night. But, when the sound of the carriage-wheels died
away, and he felt that she was actually gone, his resolution failed him,
and he rang the bell violently.

"My horses, Charcam," he said, as a servant appeared.

The man lingered.

"'Sdeath! why am I not obeyed?" exclaimed the knight, angrily. "I wish
to overtake Lady Trafford. Use despatch!"

"Her ladyship will not travel beyond Saint Alban's to-night, Sir
Rowland, so Mrs. Norris informed me," returned Charcam, respectfully;
"and there's a person without, anxious for an audience, whom, with
submission, I think your honour would desire to see."

"Ah!" exclaimed Sir Rowland, glancing significantly at Charcam, who was
a confidant in his Jacobite schemes; "is it the messenger from
Orchard-Windham, from Sir William?"

"No, Sir Rowland."

"From Mr. Corbet Kynaston, then? Sir John Packington's courier was here
yesterday."

"No, Sir Rowland."

"Perhaps he is from Lord Derwentwater, or Mr. Forster? News _is_
expected from Northumberland."

"I can't exactly say, Sir Rowland. The gentleman didn't communicate his
business to me. But I'm sure it's important."

Charcam said this, not because he knew anything about the matter; but,
having received a couple of guineas to deliver the message, he,
naturally enough, estimated its importance by the amount of the
gratuity.

"Well, I will see him," replied the knight, after a moment's pause; "he
may be from the Earl of Mar. But let the horses be in readiness. I shall
ride to St. Alban's to-night."

So saying, he threw himself into a chair. And Charcam, fearful of
another charge in his master's present uncertain mood, disappeared.

The person, shortly afterwards ushered into the room, seemed by the
imperfect light,--for the evening was advancing, and the chamber
darkened by heavy drapery,--to be a middle-sized middle-aged man, of
rather vulgar appearance, but with a very shrewd aspect. He was plainly
attired in a riding-dress and boots of the period, and wore a hanger by
his side.

"Your servant, Sir Rowland," said the stranger, ducking his head, as he
advanced.

"Your business, Sir?" returned the other, stiffly.

The new-comer looked at Charcam. Sir Rowland waved his hand, and the
attendant withdrew.

"You don't recollect me, I presume?" premised the stranger, taking a
seat.

The knight, who could ill brook this familiarity, instantly arose.

"Don't disturb yourself," continued the other, nowise disconcerted by
the rebuke. "I never stand upon ceremony where I know I shall be
welcome. We _have_ met before."

"Indeed!" rejoined Sir Rowland, haughtily; "perhaps, you will refresh my
memory as to the time, and place."

"Let me see. The time was the 26th of November, 1703: the place, the
Mint in Southwark. I have a good memory, you perceive, Sir Rowland."

The knight staggered as if struck by a mortal wound. Speedily recovering
himself, however, he rejoined, with forced calmness, "You are mistaken,
Sir. I was in Lancashire, at our family seat, at the time you mention."

The stranger smiled incredulously.

"Well, Sir Rowland," he said, after a brief pause, during which the
knight regarded him with a searching glance, as if endeavouring to
recall his features, "I will not gainsay your words. You are in the
right to be cautious, till you know with whom you have to deal; and,
even then, you can't be too wary. 'Avow nothing, believe nothing, give
nothing for nothing,' is my own motto. And it's a maxim of universal
application: or, at least, of universal practice. I am not come here to
play the part of your father-confessor. I am come to serve you."

"In what way, Sir?" demanded Trenchard, in astonishment.

"You will learn anon. You refuse me your confidence. I applaud your
prudence: it is, however, needless. Your history, your actions, nay,
your very thoughts are better known to me than to your spiritual
adviser."

"Make good your assertions," cried Trenchard, furiously, "or----"

"To the proof," interrupted the stranger, calmly. "You are the son of
Sir Montacute Trenchard, of Ashton-Hall, near Manchester. Sir Montacute
had three children--two daughters and yourself. The eldest, Constance,
was lost, by the carelessness of a servant, during her infancy, and has
never since been heard of: the youngest, Aliva, is the present Lady
Trafford. I merely mention these circumstances to show the accuracy of
my information."

"If this is the extent of it, Sir," returned the knight, ironically,
"you may spare yourself further trouble. These particulars are familiar
to all, who have any title to the knowledge."

"Perhaps so," rejoined the stranger; "but I have others in reserve, not
so generally known. With your permission, I will go on in my own way.
Where I am in error, you can set me right.--Your father, Sir Montacute
Trenchard, who had been a loyal subject of King James the Second, and
borne arms in his service, on the abdication of that monarch, turned his
back upon the Stuarts, and would never afterwards recognise their claims
to the crown. It was said, that he received an affront from James, in
the shape of a public reprimand, which his pride could not forgive. Be
this as it may, though a Catholic, he died a friend to the Protestant
succession."

"So far you are correct," observed Trenchard; "still, this is no
secret."

"Suffer me to proceed," replied the stranger. "The opinions,
entertained by the old knight, naturally induced him to view with
displeasure the conduct of his son, who warmly espoused the cause he had
deserted. Finding remonstrances of no avail, he had recourse to threats;
and when threats failed, he adopted more decided measures."

"Ha!" ejaculated Trenchard.

"As yet," pursued the stranger, "Sir Montacute had placed no limit to
his son's expenditure. He did not quarrel with Rowland's profusion, for
his own revenues were ample; but he _did_ object to the large sums
lavished by him in the service of a faction he was resolved not to
support. Accordingly, the old knight reduced his son's allowance to a
third of its previous amount; and, upon further provocation, he even
went so far as to alter his will in favour of his daughter, Aliva, who
was then betrothed to her cousin, Sir Cecil Trafford."

"Proceed, Sir," said Trenchard, breathing hard.

"Under these circumstances, Rowland did what any other sensible person
would do. Aware of his father's inflexibility of purpose, he set his
wits to work to defeat the design. He contrived to break off his
sister's match; and this he accomplished so cleverly, that he maintained
the strictest friendship with Sir Cecil. For two years he thought
himself secure; and, secretly engaged in the Jacobite schemes of the
time, in which, also, Sir Cecil was deeply involved, he began to relax
in his watchfulness over Aliva. About this time,--namely, in November,
1703--while young Trenchard was in Lancashire, and his sister in London,
on a visit, he received a certain communication from his confidential
servant, Davies, which, at once, destroyed his hopes. He learnt that his
sister was privately married--the name or rank of her husband could not
be ascertained--and living in retirement in an obscure dwelling in the
Borough, where she had given birth to a son. Rowland's plans were
quickly formed, and as quickly executed. Accompanied by Sir Cecil, who
still continued passionately enamoured of his sister, and to whom he
represented that she had fallen a victim to the arts of a seducer, he
set off, at fiery speed, for the metropolis. Arrived there, their first
object was to seek out Davies, by whom they were conducted to the lady's
retreat,--a lone habitation, situated on the outskirts of Saint George's
Fields in Southwark. Refused admittance, they broke open the door.
Aliva's husband, who passed by the name of Darrell, confronted them
sword in hand. For a few minutes he kept them at bay. But, urged by his
wife's cries, who was more anxious for the preservation of her child's
life than her own, he snatched up the infant, and made his escape from
the back of the premises. Rowland and his companions instantly started
in pursuit, leaving the lady to recover as she might. They tracked the
fugitive to the Mint; but, like hounds at fault, they here lost all
scent of their prey. Meantime, the lady had overtaken them; but,
terrified by the menaces of her vindictive kinsmen, she did not dare to
reveal herself to her husband, of whose concealment on the roof of the
very house the party were searching she was aware. Aided by an
individual, who was acquainted with a secret outlet from the tenement,
Darrell escaped. Before his departure, he gave his assistant a glove.
That glove is still preserved. In her endeavour to follow him, Aliva met
with a severe fall, and was conveyed away, in a state of insensibility,
by Sir Cecil. She was supposed to be lifeless; but she survived the
accident, though she never regained her strength. Directed by the same
individual, who had helped Darrell to steal a march upon him, Rowland,
with Davies, and another attendant, continued the pursuit. Both the
fugitive and his chasers embarked on the Thames. The elements were
wrathful as their passions. The storm burst upon them in its fury.
Unmindful of the terrors of the night, unscared by the danger that
threatened him, Rowland consigned his sister's husband and his sister's
child to the waves."

"Bring your story to an end, Sir," said Trenchard who had listened to
the recital with mingled emotions of rage and fear.

"I have nearly done," replied the stranger.--"As Rowland's whole crew
perished in the tempest, and he only escaped by miracle, he fancied
himself free from detection. And for twelve years he has been so; until
his long security, well-nigh obliterating remembrance of the deed, has
bred almost a sense of innocence within his breast. During this period
Sir Montacute has been gathered to his fathers. His title has descended
to Rowland: his estates to Aliva. The latter has, since, been induced to
unite herself to Sir Cecil, on terms originating with her brother, and
which, however strange and unprecedented, were acquiesced in by the
suitor."

Sir Rowland looked bewildered with surprise.

"The marriage was never consummated," continued the imperturbable
stranger. "Sir Cecil is no more. Lady Trafford, supposed to be
childless, broken in health and spirits, frail both in mind and body, is
not likely to make another marriage. The estates must, ere long, revert
to Sir Rowland."

"Are you man, or fiend?" exclaimed Trenchard, staring at the stranger,
as he concluded his narration.

"You are complimentary, Sir Rowland," returned the other, with a grim
smile.

"If you _are_ human," rejoined Trenchard, with stern emphasis, "I insist
upon knowing whence you derived your information?"

"I might refuse to answer the question, Sir Rowland. But I am not
indisposed to gratify you. Partly, from your confessor; partly, from
other sources."

"My confessor!" ejaculated the knight, in the extremity of surprise;
"has _he_ betrayed his sacred trust?"

"He has," replied the other, grinning; "and this will be a caution to
you in future, how you confide a secret of consequence to a priest. I
should as soon think of trusting a woman. Tickle the ears of their
reverences with any idle nonsense you please: but tell them nothing you
care to have repeated. I was once a disciple of Saint Peter myself, and
speak from experience."

"Who are you?" ejaculated Trenchard, scarcely able to credit his senses.

"I'm surprised you've not asked that question before, Sir Rowland. It
would have saved me much circumlocution, and you some suspense. My name
is Wild--Jonathan Wild."

And the great thief-taker indulged himself in a chuckle at the effect
produced by this announcement. He was accustomed to such surprises, and
enjoyed them.

Sir Rowland laid his hand upon his sword.

"Mr. Wild," he said, in a sarcastic tone, but with great firmness; "a
person of your well-known sagacity must be aware that some secrets are
dangerous to the possessor."

"I am fully aware of it, Sir Rowland," replied Jonathan, coolly; "but I
have nothing to fear; because, in the first place, it will be to your
advantage not to molest me; and, in the second, I am provided against
all contingencies. I never hunt the human tiger without being armed. My
janizaries are without. One of them is furnished with a packet
containing the heads of the statement I have just related, which, if I
don't return at a certain time, will be laid before the proper
authorities. I have calculated my chances, you perceive."

"You have forgotten that you are in my power," returned the knight,
sternly; "and that all your allies cannot save you from my resentment."

"I can at least, protect myself," replied Wild, with, provoking
calmness. "I am accounted a fair shot, as well as a tolerable swordsman,
and I will give proof of my skill in both lines, should occasion require
it. I have had a good many desperate engagements in my time, and have
generally come off victorious. I bear the marks of some of them about me
still," he continued, taking off his wig, and laying bare a bald skull,
covered with cicatrices and plates of silver. "This gash," he added,
pointing to one of the larger scars, "was a wipe from the hanger of Tom
Thurland, whom I apprehended for the murder of Mrs. Knap. This wedge of
silver," pointing to another, "which would mend a coffee-pot, serves to
stop up a breach made by Will Colthurst, who robbed Mr. Hearl on
Hounslow-Heath. I secured the dog after he had wounded me. This fracture
was the handiwork of Jack Parrot (otherwise called Jack the Grinder),
who broke into the palace of the Bishop of Norwich. Jack was a comical
scoundrel, and made a little too free with his grace's best burgundy, as
well as his grace's favourite housekeeper. The Bishop, however, to show
him the danger of meddling with the church, gave him a dance at Tyburn
for his pains. Not a scar but has its history. The only inconvenience I
feel from my shattered noddle is an incapacity to drink. But that's an
infirmity shared by a great many sounder heads than mine. The hardest
bout I ever had was with a woman--Sally Wells, who was afterwards lagged
for shoplifting. She attacked me with a carving-knife, and, when I had
disarmed her, the jade bit off a couple of fingers from my left hand.
Thus, you see, I've never hesitated and never _shall_ hesitate to expose
my life where anything is to be gained. My profession has hardened me."

And, with this, he coolly re-adjusted his peruke.

"What do you expect to gain from this interview, Mr. Wild!" demanded
Trenchard, as if he had formed a sudden resolution.

"Ah! now we come to business," returned Jonathan, rubbing his hands,
gleefully. "These are my terms, Sir Rowland," he added, taking a sheet
of paper from his pocket, and pushing it towards the knight.

Trenchard glanced at the document.

"A thousand pounds," he observed, gloomily, "is a heavy price to pay for
doubtful secrecy, when _certain silence_ might be so cheaply procured."

"You would purchase it at the price of your head," replied Jonathan,
knitting his brows. "Sir Rowland," he added, savagely, and with somewhat
of the look of a bull-dog before he flies at his foe, "if it were my
pleasure to do so, I could crush you with a breath. You are wholly in my
power. Your name, with the fatal epithet of 'dangerous' attached to it,
stands foremost on the list of Disaffected now before the Secret
Committee. I hold a warrant from Mr. Walpole for your apprehension."

"Arrested!" exclaimed Trenchard, drawing his sword.

"Put up your blade, Sir Rowland," rejoined Jonathan, resuming his former
calm demeanour, "King James the Third will need it. I have no intention
of arresting you. I have a different game to play; and it'll be your own
fault, if you don't come off the winner. I offer you my assistance on
certain terms. The proposal is so far from being exorbitant, that it
should be trebled if I had not a fellow-feeling in the cause. To be
frank with you, I have an affront to requite, which can be settled at
the same time, and in the same way with your affair. That's worth
something to me; for I don't mind paying for revenge. After all a
thousand pounds is a trifle to rid you of an upstart, who may chance to
deprive you of tens of thousands."

"Did I hear you aright?" asked Trenchard, with startling eagerness.

"Certainly," replied Jonathan, with the most perfect _sangfroid_, "I'll
undertake to free you from the boy. That's part of the bargain."

"Is he alive!" vociferated Trenchard.

"To be sure," returned Wild; "he's not only alive, but likely for life,
if we don't clip the thread."

Sir Rowland caught at a chair for support, and passed his hand across
his brow, on which the damp had gathered thickly.

"The intelligence seems new to you. I thought I'd been sufficiently
explicit," continued Jonathan. "Most persons would have guessed my
meaning."

"Then it was _not_ a dream!" ejaculated Sir Rowland in a hollow voice,
and as if speaking to himself. "I _did_ see them on the platform of the
bridge--the child and his preserver! They were _not_ struck by the
fallen ruin, nor whelmed in the roaring flood,--or, if they _were_, they
escaped as I escaped. God! I have cheated myself into a belief that the
boy perished! And now my worst fears are realized--he lives!"

"As yet," returned Jonathan, with fearful emphasis.

"I cannot--dare not injure him," rejoined Trenchard, with a haggard
look, and sinking, as if paralysed, into a chair.

Jonathan laughed scornfully.

"Leave him to me," he said. "He shan't trouble you further."

"No," replied Sir Rowland, who appeared completely prostrated. "I will
struggle no longer with destiny. Too much blood has been shed already."

"This comes of fine feelings!" muttered Jonathan, contemptuously. "Give
me your thorough-paced villain. But I shan't let him off thus. I'll try
a strong dose.--Am I to understand that you intend to plead guilty, Sir
Rowland?" he added. "If so, I may as well execute my warrant."

"Stand off, Sir!" exclaimed Trenchard, starting suddenly backwards.

"I knew that would bring him to," thought Wild.

"Where is the boy?" demanded Sir Rowland.

"At present under the care of his preserver--one Owen Wood, a carpenter,
by whom he was brought up."

"Wood!" exclaimed Trenchard,--"of Wych Street?"

"The same."

"A boy from his shop was here a short time ago. Could it be him you
mean?"

"No. That boy was the carpenter's apprentice, Jack Sheppard. I've just
left your nephew."

At this moment Charcam entered the room.

"Beg pardon, Sir Rowland," said the attendant, "but there's a boy from
Mr. Wood, with a message for Lady Trafford."

"From whom?" vociferated Trenchard.

"From Mr. Wood the carpenter."

"The same who was here just now?"

"No, Sir Rowland, a much finer boy."

"'Tis he, by Heaven!" cried Jonathan; "this is lucky. Sir Rowland," he
added, in a deep whisper, "do you agree to my terms?"

"I do," answered Trenchard, in the same tone.

"Enough!" rejoined Wild; "he shall not return."

"Have you acquainted him with Lady Trafford's departure?" said the
knight, addressing Charcam, with as much composure as he could assume.

"No, Sir Rowland," replied the attendant, "as you proposed to ride to
Saint Albans to-night, I thought you might choose to see him yourself.
Besides, there's something odd about the boy; for, though I questioned
him pretty closely concerning his business, he declined answering my
questions, and said he could only deliver his message to her ladyship. I
thought it better not to send him away till I'd mentioned the
circumstance to you."

"You did right," returned Trenchard.

"Where is he?" asked Jonathan.

"In the hall," replied Charcam.

"Alone?"

"Not exactly, Sir. There's another lad at the gate waiting for him--the
same who was here just now, that Sir Rowland was speaking of, who
fastened up the jewel-case for her ladyship."

"A jewel-case!" exclaimed Jonathan. "Ah, I see it all!" he cried, with a
quick glance. "Jack Sheppard's fingers are lime-twigs. Was anything
missed after the lad's departure, Sir Rowland?"

"Not that I'm aware of," said the knight.--"Stay! something occurs to
me." And he conferred apart with Jonathan.

"That's it!" cried Wild when Trenchard concluded. "This young fool is
come to restore the article--whatever it may be--which Lady Trafford was
anxious to conceal, and which his companion purloined. It's precisely
what such a simpleton would do. We have him as safe as a linnet in a
cage; and could wring his neck round as easily. Oblige me by acting
under my guidance in the matter, Sir Rowland. I'm an old hand at such
things. Harkee," he added, "Mr. What's-your-name!"

"Charcam," replied the attendant, bowing.

"Very well, Mr. Charcoal, you may bring in the boy. But not a word to
him of Lady Trafford's absence--mind that. A robbery has been committed,
and your master suspects this lad as an accessory to the offence. He,
therefore, desires to interrogate him. It will be necessary to secure
his companion; and as you say he is not in the house, some caution must
be used in approaching him, or he may chance to take to his heels, for
he's a slippery little rascal. When you've seized him, cough thrice
thus,--and two rough-looking gentlemen will make their appearance. Don't
be alarmed by their manners, Mr. Charcoal. They're apt to be surly to
strangers, but it soon wears off. The gentleman with the red beard will
relieve you of your prisoner. The other must call a coach as quickly as
he can."

"For whom, Sir?" inquired Charcam. "For me--his master, Mr. Jonathan
Wild."

"Are you Mr. Jonathan Wild?" asked the attendant, in great trepidation.

"I _am_, Charcoal. But don't let my name frighten you. Though," said the
thief-taker, with a complacent smile, "all the world seems to tremble at
it. Obey my orders, and you've nothing to fear. About them quickly. Lead
the lad to suppose that he'll be introduced to Lady Trafford. You
understand me, Charcoal."

The attendant did _not_ understand him. He was confounded by the
presence in which he found himself. But, not daring to confess his want
of comprehension, he made a profound reverence, and retired.




CHAPTER IX.

Consequences of the Theft.


"How do you mean to act, Sir?" inquired Trenchard, as soon as they were
left alone.

"As circumstances shall dictate, Sir Rowland," returned Jonathan.
"Something is sure to arise in the course of the investigation, of which
I can take advantage. If not, I'll convey him to St. Giles's round-house
on my own responsibility."

"Is this your notable scheme!" asked the knight, scornfully.

"Once there," proceeded Wild, without noticing the interruption, "he's
as good as in his grave. The constable, Sharples, is in my pay. I can
remove the prisoner at any hour of the night I think fit: and I _will_
remove him. You must, know, Sir Rowland--for I've no secrets from
you--that, in the course of my business I've found it convenient to
become the owner of a small Dutch sloop; by means of which I can
transmit any light ware,--such as gold watches, rings, and plate, as
well as occasionally a bank or goldsmith's note, which has been _spoken
with_ by way of the mail,--you understand me?--to Holland or Flanders,
and obtain a secure and ready market for them. This vessel is now in the
river, off Wapping. Her cargo is nearly shipped. She will sail, at early
dawn to-morrow, for Rotterdam. Her commander, Rykhart Van Galgebrok, is
devoted to my interests. As soon as he gets into blue water, he'll think
no more of pitching the boy overboard than of lighting his pipe. This
will be safer than cutting his throat on shore. I've tried the plan, and
found it answer. The Northern Ocean keeps a secret better than the
Thames, Sir Rowland. Before midnight, your nephew shall be safe beneath
the hatches of the Zeeslang."

"Poor child!" muttered Trenchard, abstractedly; "the whole scene upon
the river is passing before me. I hear the splash in the water--I see
the white object floating like a sea-bird on the tide--it will not
sink!"

"'Sblood!" exclaimed Jonathan, in a tone of ill-disguised contempt; "it
won't do to indulge those fancies now. Be seated, and calm yourself."

"I have often conjured up some frightful vision of the dead," murmured
the knight, "but I never dreamed of an interview with the living."

"It'll be over in a few minutes," rejoined Jonathan, impatiently; "in
fact, it'll be over too soon for me. I like such interviews. But we
waste time. Have the goodness to affix your name to that memorandum, Sir
Rowland. I require nothing, you see, till my share of the contract is
fulfilled."

Trenchard took up a pen.

"It's the boy's death-warrant," observed Jonathan, with a sinister
smile.

"I cannot sign it," returned Trenchard.

"Damnation!" exclaimed Wild with a snarl, that displayed his glistening
fangs to the farthest extremity of his mouth, "I'm not to be trifled
with thus. That paper _must_ be signed, or I take my departure."

"Go, Sir," rejoined the knight, haughtily.

"Ay, ay, I'll go, fast enough!" returned Jonathan, putting his hands
into his pockets, "but not alone, Sir Rowland."

At this juncture, the door was flung open, and Charcam entered, dragging
in Thames, whom he held by the collar, and who struggled in vain to free
himself from the grasp imposed upon him.

"Here's one of the thieves, Sir Rowland!" cried the attendant. "I was
only just in time. The young rascal had learnt from some of the
women-servants that Lady Trafford was from home, and was in the very act
of making off when I got down stairs. Come along, my Newgate bird!" he
continued, shaking him with great violence.

Jonathan gave utterance to a low whistle.

"If things had gone smoothly," he thought, "I should have cursed the
fellow's stupidity. As it is, I'm not sorry for the blunder."

Trenchard, meanwhile, whose gaze was fixed upon the boy, became livid as
death, but he moved not a muscle.

"'T is he!" he mentally ejaculated.

"What do you think of your nephew, Sir Rowland?" whispered Jonathan, who
sat with his back towards Thames, so that his features were concealed
from the youth's view. "It would be a thousand pities, wouldn't it, to
put so promising a lad out of the way?"

"Devil!" exclaimed the knight fiercely, "Give me the paper."

Jonathan hastily picked up the pen, and presented it to Trenchard, who
attached his signature to the document.

"If I _am_ the devil," observed Wild, "as some folks assert, and I
myself am not unwilling to believe, you'll find that I differ from the
generally-received notions of the arch-fiend, and faithfully execute the
commands of those who confide their souls to my custody."

"Take hence this boy, then," rejoined Trenchard; "his looks unman me."

"Of what am I accused?" asked Thames, who though a good deal alarmed at
first, had now regained his courage.

"Of robbery!" replied Jonathan in a thundering voice, and suddenly
confronting him. "You've charged with assisting your comrade, Jack
Sheppard, to purloin certain articles of value from a jewel-case
belonging to Lady Trafford. Aha!" he continued, producing a short silver
staff, which he carried constantly about with him, and uttering a
terrible imprecation, "I see you're confounded. Down on your
marrow-bones, sirrah! Confess your guilt, and Sir Rowland may yet save
you from the gallows."

"I've nothing to confess," replied Thames, boldly; "I've done no wrong.
Are _you_ my accuser?"

"I am," replied Wild; "have you anything to allege to the contrary?"

"Only this," returned Thames: "that the charge is false, and malicious,
and that _you_ know it to be so."

"Is that all!" retorted Jonathan. "Come, I must search you my
youngster!"

"You shan't touch me," rejoined Thames; and, suddenly bursting from
Charcam, he threw himself at the feet of Trenchard. "Hear me, Sir
Rowland!" he cried. "I am innocent, f have stolen nothing. This
person--this Jonathan Wild, whom I beheld for the first time, scarcely
an hour ago, in Wych Street, is--I know not why--my enemy. He has sworn
that he'll take away my life!"

"Bah!" interrupted Jonathan. "You won't listen to this nonsense, Sir
Rowland!"

"If you _are_ innocent, boy," said the knight, controlling his emotion;
"you have nothing to apprehend. But, what brought you here?"

"Excuse me, Sir Rowland. I cannot answer that question. My business is
with Lady Trafford."

"Are you aware that I am her ladyship's brother?" returned the knight.
"She has no secrets from me."

"Possibly not," replied Thames, in some confusion; "but I am not at
liberty to speak."

"Your hesitation is not in your favour," observed Trenchard, sternly.

"Will he consent, to be searched?" inquired Jonathan.

"No," rejoined Thames, "I won't be treated like a common felon, if I can
help it."

"You shall be treated according to your deserts, then," said Jonathan,
maliciously. And, in spite of the boy's resistance, he plunged his hands
into his pockets, and drew forth the miniature.

"Where did you get this from?" asked Wild, greatly surprised at the
result of his investigation.

Thames returned no answer.

"I thought as much," continued Jonathan. "But we'll find a way to make
you open your lips presently. Bring in his comrade," he added, in a
whisper to Charcam; "I'll take care of him. And don't neglect my
instructions this time." Upon which, with an assurance that he would not
do so, the attendant departed.

"You can, of course, identify this picture as Lady Trafford's property?"
pursued Jonathan, with a meaning glance, as he handed it to the knight.

"I can," replied Trenchard. "Ha!" he exclaimed, with a sudden start, as
his glance fell upon the portrait; "how came this into your possession,
boy?"

"Why don't you answer, sirrah?" cried Wild, in a savage tone, and
striking him with the silver staff. "Can't you speak?"

"I don't choose," replied Thames, sturdily; "and your brutality shan't
make me."

"We'll see that," replied Jonathan, dealing him another and more violent
blow.

"Let him alone," said Trenchard authoritatively, "I have another
question to propose. Do you know whoso portrait this is?"

"I do not," replied Thames, repressing his tears, "but I believe it to
be the portrait of my father."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the knight, in astonishment. "Is your father alive?"

"No," returned Thames; "he was assassinated while I was an infant."

"Who told you this is his portrait?" demanded Trenchard.

"My heart," rejoined Thames, firmly; "which now tells me I am in the
presence of his murderer."

"That's me," interposed Jonathan; "a thief-taker is always a murderer in
the eyes of a thief. I'm almost sorry your suspicions are unfounded, if
your father in any way resembled you, my youngster. But I can tell you
who'll have the pleasure of hanging your father's son; and that's a
person not a hundred miles distant from you at this moment--ha! ha!"

As he said this, the door was opened, and Charcam entered, accompanied
by a dwarfish, shabby-looking man, in a brown serge frock, with coarse
Jewish features, and a long red beard. Between the Jew and the attendant
came Jack Sheppard; while a crowd of servants, attracted by the news,
that the investigation of a robbery was going forward, lingered at the
doorway in hopes of catching something of the proceedings.

When Jack was brought in, he cast a rapid glance around him, and
perceiving Thames in the custody of Jonathan, instantly divined how
matters stood. As he looked in this direction, Wild gave him a
significant wink, the meaning of which he was not slow to comprehend.

"Get it over quickly," said Trenchard, in a whisper to the thief-taker.

Jonathan nodded assent.

"What's your name?" he said, addressing the audacious lad, who was
looking about him as coolly as if nothing material was going on.

"Jack Sheppard," returned the boy, fixing his eyes upon a portrait of
the Earl of Mar. "Who's that queer cove in the full-bottomed wig?"

"Attend to me, sirrah," rejoined Wild, sternly. "Do you know this
picture?" he added, with another significant look, and pointing to the
miniature.

"I do," replied Jack, carelessly.

"That's well. Can you inform us whence it came?"

"I should think so."

"State the facts, then."

"It came from Lady Trafford's jewel-box."

Here a murmur of amazement arose from the assemblage outside.

"Close the door!" commanded Trenchard, impatiently.

"In my opinion, Sir Rowland," suggested Jonathan; "you'd better allow
the court to remain open."

"Be it so," replied the knight, who saw the force of this reasoning.
"Continue the proceedings."

"You say that the miniature was abstracted from Lady Trafford's
jewel-box," said Jonathan, in a loud voice. "Who took it thence?"

"Thames Darrell; the boy at your side."

"Jack!" cried Thames, in indignant surprise.

But Sheppard took no notice of the exclamation.

A loud buzz of curiosity circulated among the domestics; some of
whom--especially the females--leaned forward to obtain a peep at the
culprit.

"Si--lence!" vociferated Charcam, laying great emphasis on the last
syllable.

"Were you present at the time of the robbery?" pursued Jonathan.

"I was," answered Sheppard.

"And will swear to it?"

"I will."

"Liar!" ejaculated Thames.

"Enough!" exclaimed Wild, triumphantly.

"Close the court, Mr. Charcoal. They've heard quite enough for my
purpose," he muttered, as his orders were obeyed, and the domestics
excluded. "It's too late to carry 'em before a magistrate now, Sir
Rowland; so, with your permission, I'll give 'em a night's lodging in
Saint Giles's round-house. You, Jack Sheppard, have nothing to fear, as
you've become evidence against your accomplice. To-morrow, I shall
carry you before Justice Walters, who'll take your information; and I've
no doubt but Thames Darrell will be fully committed. Now, for the cage,
my pretty canary-bird. Before we start, I'll accommodate you with a pair
of ruffles." And he proceeded to handcuff his captive.

"Hear me!" cried Thames, bursting into tears. "I am innocent. I could
not have committed this robbery. I have only just left Wych Street. Send
for Mr. Wood, and you'll find that I've spoken the truth."

"You'd better hold your peace, my lad," observed Jonathan, in a menacing
tone.

"Lady Trafford would not have thus condemned me!" cried Thames.

"Away with him!" exclaimed Sir Rowland, impatiently.

"Take the prisoners below, Nab," said Jonathan, addressing the dwarfish
Jew; "I'll join you in an instant."

The bearded miscreant seized Jack by the waist, and Thames by the nape
of the neck, and marched off, like the ogre in the fairy tale, with a
boy under each arm, while Charcam brought upt the rear.





CHAPTER X.

Mother and Son.


They had scarcely been gone a moment, when a confused noise was heard
without, and Charcam re-entered the room, with a countenance of the
utmost bewilderment and alarm.

"What's the matter with the man?" demanded Wild.

"Her ladyship--" faltered the attendant.

"What of her?" cried the knight. "Is she returned!"

"Y--e--s, Sir Rowland," stammered Charcam.

"The devil!" ejaculated Jonathan. "Here's a cross-bite."

"But that's not all, your honour," continued Charcam; "Mrs. Norris says
she's dying."

"Dying!" echoed the knight.

"Dying, Sir Rowland. She was taken dreadfully ill on the road, with
spasms and short breath, and swoonings,--worse than ever she was before.
And Mrs. Norris was so frightened that she ordered the postboys to drive
back as fast as they could. She never expected to get her ladyship home
alive."

"My God!" cried Trenchard, stunned by the intelligence, "I have killed
her."

"No doubt," rejoined Wild, with a sneer; "but don't let all the world
know it."

"They're lifting her out of the carriage," interposed Charcam; "will it
please your honour to send for some advice and the chaplain?"

"Fly for both," returned Sir Rowland, in a tone of bitter anguish.

"Stay!" interposed Jonathan. "Where are the boys?"

"In the hall."

"Her ladyship will pass through it?"

"Of course; there's no other way."

"Then, bring them into this room, the first thing--quick! They must not
meet, Sir Rowland," he added, as Charcam hastened to obey his
instructions.

"Heaven has decreed it otherwise," replied the knight, dejectedly. "I
yield to fate."

"Yield to nothing," returned Wild, trying to re-assure him; "above all,
when your designs prosper. Man's fate is in his own hands. You are your
nephew's executioner, or he is yours. Cast off this weakness. The next
hour makes, or mars you for ever. Go to your sister, and do not quit her
till all is over. Leave the rest to me."

Sir Rowland moved irresolutely towards the door, but recoiled before a
sad spectacle. This was his sister, evidently in the last extremity.
Borne in the arms of a couple of assistants, and preceded by Mrs.
Norris, wringing her hands and wepping, the unfortunate lady was placed
upon a couch. At the same time, Charcam, who seemed perfectly distracted
by the recent occurrences, dragged in Thames, leaving Jack Sheppard
outside in the custody of the dwarfish Jew.

"Hell's curses!" muttered Jonathan between his teeth; "that fool will
ruin all. Take him away," he added, striding up to Charcam.

"Let him remain," interposed Trenchard.

"As you please, Sir Rowland," returned Jonathan, with affected
indifference; "but I'm not going to hunt the deer for another to eat the
ven'son, depend on 't."

But seeing that no notice was taken of the retort, he drew a little
aside, and folded his arms, muttering, "This whim will soon be over. She
can't last long. I can pull the strings of this stiff-necked puppet as I
please."

Sir Rowland, meantime, throw himself on his knees beside his sister,
and, clasping her chilly fingers within his own, besought her
forgiveness in the most passionate terms. For a few minutes, she
appeared scarcely sensible of his presence. But, after some restoratives
had been administered by Mrs. Norris, she revived a little.

"Rowland," she said, in a faint voice, "I have not many minutes to live.
Where is Father Spencer? I must have absolution. I have something that
weighs heavily upon my mind."

Sir Rowland's brow darkened.

"I have sent for him," Aliva, he answered; "he will be here directly,
with your medical advisers."

"They are useless," she returned. "Medicine cannot save mo now."

"Dear sister----"

"I should die happy, if I could behold my child."

"Comfort yourself, then, Aliva. You _shall_ behold him."

"You are mocking me, Rowland. Jests are not for seasons like this."

"I am not, by Heaven," returned the knight, solemnly. "Leave us, Mrs.
Norris, and do not return till Father Spencer arrives."

"Your ladyship----" hesitated Norris.

"Go!" said Lady Trafford; "it is my last request."

And her faithful attendant, drowned in tears, withdrew, followed by the
two assistants.

Jonathan stepped behind a curtain.

"Rowland," said Lady Trafford, regarding him with a look of
indescribable anxiety, "you have assured me that I shall behold my son.
Where is he?"

"Within this room," replied the knight.

"Here!" shrieked Lady Trafford.

"Here," repeated her brother. "But calm yourself, dear sister, or the
interview will be too much for you."

"I _am_ calm--quite calm, Rowland," she answered, with lips whose
agitation belied her words. "Then, the story of his death was false. I
knew it. I was sure you could not have the heart to slay a child--an
innocent child. God forgive you!"

"May He, indeed, forgive me!" returned Trenchard, crossing himself
devoutly; "but my guilt is not the less heavy, because your child
escaped. This hand consigned him to destruction, but another was
stretched forth to save him. The infant was rescued from a watery-grave
by an honest mechanic, who has since brought him up as his own son."

"Blessings upon him!" cried Lady Trafford, fervently. "But trifle with
mo no longer. Moments are ages now. Let me see my child, if he is really
here?"

"Behold him!" returned Trenchard, taking Thames (who had been a mute,
but deeply-interested, witness of the scene) by the hand, and leading
him towards her.

"Ah!" exclaimed Lady Trafford, exerting all her strength. "My sight is
failing me. Let me have more light, that I may behold him. Yes!" she
screamed, "these are his father's features! It is--it is my son!"

"Mother!" cried Thames; "are you, indeed, my mother?"

"I am, indeed--my own sweet boy!" she sobbed, pressing him tenderly to
her breast.

"Oh!--to see you thus!" cried Thames, in an agony of affliction.

"Don't weep, my love," replied the lady, straining him still more
closely to her. "I am happy--quite happy now."

During this touching interview, a change had come over Sir Rowland, and
he half repented of what he had done.

"You can no longer refuse to tell me the name of this youth's father,
Aliva," he said.

"I dare not, Rowland," she answered. "I cannot break my vow. I will
confide it to Father Spencer, who will acquaint you with it when I am no
more. Undraw the curtain, love," she added to Thames, "that I may look
at you."

"Ha!" exclaimed her son, starting back, as he obeyed her, and disclosed
Jonathan Wild.

"Be silent," said Jonathan, in a menacing whisper.

"What have you seen?" inquired Lady Trafford.

"My enemy," replied her son.

"Your enemy!" she returned imperfectly comprehending him. "Sir Rowland
is your uncle--he will be your guardian--he will protect you. Will you
not, brother?"

"Promise," said a deep voice in Trenchard's ear.

"He will kill me," cried Thames. "There is a man in this room who seeks
my life."

"Impossible!" rejoined his mother.

"Look at these fetters," returned Thames, holding up his manacled
wrists; "they were put on by my uncle's command."

"Ah!" shrieked Lady Trafford.

"Not a moment is to be lost," whispered Jonathan to Trenchard. "His
life--or yours?"

"No one shall harm you more, my dear," cried Lady Trafford. "Your uncle
_must_ protect you. It will be his interest to do so. He will be
dependent on you."

"Do what you please with him," muttered Trenchard to Wild.

"Take off these chains, Rowland," said Lady Trafford, "instantly, I
command you."

"_I_ will," replied Jonathan, advancing, and rudely seizing Thames.

"Mother!" cried the son, "help!"

"What is this?" shrieked Lady Trafford, raising herself on the couch,
and extending her hands towards him. "Oh, God! would you take him from
me?--would you murder him?"

"His father's name?--and he is free," rejoined Rowland, holding her
arms.

"Release him first--and I will disclose it!" cried Lady Trafford; "on my
soul, I will!"

"Speak then!" returned Rowland.

"Too late!" shrieked the lady, falling heavily backwards,--"too
late!--oh!"

Heedless of her cries, Jonathan passed a handkerchief tightly over her
son's mouth, and forced him out of the room.

When he returned, a moment or so afterwards, he found Sir Rowland
standing by the lifeless body of his sister. His countenance was almost
as white and rigid as that of the corpse by his side.

"This is your work," said the knight, sternly.

"Not entirely," replied Jonathan, calmly; "though I shouldn't be ashamed
of it if it were. After all, you failed in obtaining the secret from
her, Sir Rowland. Women are hypocrites to the last--true only to
themselves."

"Peace!" cried the knight, fiercely.

"No offence," returned Jonathan. "I was merely about to observe that _I_
am in possession of her secret."

"You!"

"Didn't I tell you that the fugitive Darrell gave me a glove! But we'll
speak of this hereafter. You can _purchase_ the information from me
whenever you're so disposed. I shan't drive a hard bargain. To the point
however. I came back to say, that I've placed your nephew in a coach;
and, if you'll be at my lock in the Old Bailey an hour after midnight,
you shall hear the last tidings of him."

"I will be there," answered Trenchard, gloomily.

"You'll not forget the thousand, Sir Rowland--short accounts, you know."

"Fear nothing. You shall have your reward."

"Thank'ee,--thank'ee. My house is the next door to the Cooper's Arms, in
the Old Bailey, opposite Newgate. You'll find me at supper."

So saying, he bowed and departed.

"That man should have been an Italian bravo," murmured the knight,
sinking into a chair: "he has neither fear nor compunction. Would I
could purchase his apathy as easily as I can procure his assistance."

Soon after this Mrs. Norris entered the room, followed by Father
Spencer. On approaching the couch, they found Sir Rowland senseless, and
extended over the dead body of his unfortunate sister.




CHAPTER XI.

The Mohocks.


Jonathan Wild, meanwhile, had quitted the house. He found a coach at the
door, with the blinds carefully drawn up, and ascertained from a tall,
ill-looking, though tawdrily-dressed fellow, who held his horse by the
bridle, and whom he addressed as Quilt Arnold, that the two boys were
safe inside, in the custody of Abraham Mendez, the dwarfish Jew. As soon
as he had delivered his instructions to Quilt, who, with Abraham,
constituted his body-guard, or janizaries, as he termed them, Jonathan
mounted his steed, and rode off at a gallop. Quilt was not long in
following his example. Springing upon the box, he told the coachman to
make the best of his way to Saint Giles's. Stimulated by the promise of
something handsome to drink, the man acquitted himself to admiration in
the management of his lazy cattle. Crack went the whip, and away
floundered the heavy vehicle through the deep ruts of the ill-kept road,
or rather lane, (for it was little better,) which, then, led across
Southampton Fields. Skirting the noble gardens of Montague House, (now,
we need scarcely say, the British Museum,) the party speedily reached
Great Russell Street,--a quarter described by Strype, in his edition of
old Stow's famous _Survey_, "as being graced with the best buildings in
all Bloomsbury, and the best inhabited by the nobility and gentry,
especially the north side, as having gardens behind the houses, and the
prospect of the pleasant fields up to Hampstead and Highgate; insomuch
that this place, by physicians, is esteemed the most healthful of any in
London." Neither of the parties outside bestowed much attention upon
these stately and salubriously-situated mansions; indeed, as it was now
not far from ten o'clock, and quite dark, they could scarcely discern
them. But, in spite of his general insensibility to such matters, Quilt
could not help commenting upon the delicious perfume wafted from the
numerous flower-beds past which they were driving. The coachman answered
by a surly grunt, and, plying his whip with redoubled zeal, shaped his
course down Dyot Street; traversed that part of Holborn, which is now
called Broad Street, and where two ancient alms-houses were, then,
standing in the middle of that great thoroughfare, exactly opposite the
opening of Compston Street; and, diving under a wide gateway on the
left, soon reached a more open space, surrounded by mean habitations,
coach-houses and stables, called Kendrick Yard, at the further end of
which Saint Giles's round-house was situated.

No sooner did the vehicle turn the corner of this yard, than Quilt
became aware, from the tumultuous sounds that reached his ears, as well
as from the flashing of various lanterns at the door of the round-house,
that some disturbance was going on; and, apprehensive of a rescue, if he
drew up in the midst of the mob, he thought it prudent to come to a
halt. Accordingly, he stopped the coach, dismounted, and hastened
towards the assemblage, which, he was glad to find, consisted chiefly of
a posse of watchmen and other guardians of the night. Quilt, who was an
ardent lover of mischief, could not help laughing most heartily at the
rueful appearance of these personages. Not one of them but bore the
marks of having been engaged in a recent and severe conflict.
Quarter-staves, bludgeons, brown-bills, lanterns, swords, and sconces
were alike shivered; and, to judge from the sullied state of their
habiliments, the claret must have been tapped pretty freely. Never was
heard such a bawling as these unfortunate wights kept up. Oaths exploded
like shells from a battery in full fire, accompanied by threats of
direst vengeance against the individuals who had maltreated them. Here,
might be seen a poor fellow whose teeth were knocked down his throat,
spluttering out the most tremendous menaces, and gesticulating like a
madman: there, another, whose nose was partially slit, vented
imprecations and lamentations in the same breath. On the right, stood a
bulky figure, with a broken rattle hanging out of his great-coat pocket,
who held up a lantern to his battered countenance to prove to the
spectators that both his orbs of vision were darkened: on the left, a
meagre constable had divested himself of his shirt, to bind up with
greater convenience a gaping cut in the arm.

"So, the Mohocks have been at work, I perceive," remarked Quilt, as he
drew near the group.

"'Faith, an' you may say that," returned a watchman, who was wiping a
ruddy stream from his brow; "they've broken the paice, and our pates
into the bargain. But shurely I'd know that vice," he added, turning his
lantern towards the janizary. "Ah! Quilt Arnold, my man, is it you? By
the powers! I'm glad to see you. The sight o' your 'andsome phiz allys
does me good."

"I wish I could return the compliment, Terry. But your cracked skull is
by no means a pleasing spectacle. How came you by the hurt, eh?"

"How did I come by it?--that's a nate question. Why, honestly enouch. It
was lent me by a countryman o' mine; but I paid him back in his own
coin--ha! ha!"

"A countryman of yours, Terry?"

"Ay, and a noble one, too, Quilt--more's the pity! You've heard of the
Marquis of Slaughterford, belike?"

"Of course; who has not? He's the leader of the Mohocks, the general of
the Scourers, the prince of rakes, the friend of the surgeons and
glaziers, the terror of your tribe, and the idol of the girls!"

"That's him to a hair?" cried Terence, rapturously. "Och! he's a broth
of a boy!"

"Why, I thought he'd broken your head, Terry?"

"Phooh! that's nothing? A piece o' plaster'll set all to rights; and
Terry O'Flaherty's not the boy to care for the stroke of a supple-jack.
Besides, didn't I tell you that I giv' him as good as he brought--and
better! I jist touched him with my 'Evenin' Star,' as I call this
shillelah," said the watchman, flourishing an immense bludgeon, the knob
of which appeared to be loaded with lead, "and, by Saint Patrick! down
he cum'd like a bullock."

"Zounds!" exclaimed Quilt, "did you kill him?"

"Not quite," replied Terence, laughing; "but I brought him to his
senses."

"By depriving him of 'em, eh! But I'm sorry you hurt his lordship,
Terry. Young noblemen ought to be indulged in their frolics. If they
_do_, now and then, run away with a knocker, paint a sign, beat the
watch, or huff a magistrate, they _pay_ for their pastime, and that's
sufficient. What more could any reasonable man--especially a
watchman--desire? Besides, the Marquis, is a devilish fine fellow, and a
particular friend of mine. There's not his peer among the peerage."

"Och! if he's a friend o' yours, my dear joy, there's no more to be
said; and right sorry am I, I struck him. But, bloodan'-'ouns! man, if
ould Nick himself were to hit me a blow, I'd be afther givin' him
another."

"Well, well--wait awhile," returned Quilt; "his lordship won't forget
you. He's as generous as he's frolicsome."

As he spoke, the door of the round-house was opened, and a stout man,
with a lantern in his hand, presented himself at the threshold.

"There's Sharples," cried Quilt.

"Whist!" exclaimed Terence; "he elevates his glim. By Jasus! he's about
to spake to us."

"Gem'men o' the votch!" cried Sharples, as loudly as a wheezy cough
would permit him, "my noble pris'ner--ough! ough;--the Markis o'
Slaughterford----"

Further speech was cut short by a volley of execrations from the angry
guardians of the night.

"No Mohocks! No Scourers!" cried the mob.

"Hear! hear!" vociferated Quilt.

"His lordship desires me to say--ough! ough!"

Fresh groans and hisses.

"Von't you hear me?--ough! ough!" demanded Sharples, after a pause.

"By all means," rejoined Quilt.

"Raise your vice, and lave off coughin'," added Terence.

"The long and the short o' the matter's this then," returned Sharples
with dignity, "the Markis begs your acceptance o' ten guineas to drink
his health."

The hooting was instantaneously changed to cheers.

"And his lordship, furthermore, requests me to state," proceeded
Sharples, in a hoarse tone, "that he'll be responsible for the doctors'
bill of all such gem'men as have received broken pates, or been
other_wise_ damaged in the fray--ough! ough!"

"Hurrah!" shouted the mob.

"We're all damaged--we've all got broken pates," cried a dozen voices.

"Ay, good luck to him! so we have," rejoined Terence; "but we've no
objection to take out the dochter's bill in drink."

"None whatever," replied the mob.

"Your answer, gem'men?" demanded Sharples.

"Long life to the Markis, and we accept his honourable proposal,"
responded the mob.

"Long life to the Marquis!" reiterated Terence; "he's an honour to ould
Ireland!"

"Didn't I tell you how it would be?" remarked Quilt.

"Troth, and so did you," returned the watchman; "but I couldn't belave
it. In futur', I'll keep the 'Evenin' Star' for his lordship's enemies."

"You'd better," replied Quilt. "But bring your glim this way. I've a
couple of kinchens in yonder rattler, whom I wish to place under old
Sharples's care."

"Be handy, then," rejoined Terence, "or, I'll lose my share of the smart
money."

With the assistance of Terence, and a linkboy who volunteered his
services, Quilt soon removed the prisoners from the coach, and leaving
Sheppard to the custody of Abraham, proceeded to drag Thames towards the
round-house. Not a word had been exchanged between the two boys on the
road. Whenever Jack attempted to speak, he was checked by an angry growl
from Abraham; and Thames, though his heart was full almost to bursting,
felt no inclination to break the silence. His thoughts, indeed, were too
painful for utterance, and so acute were his feelings, that, for some
time, they quite overcame him. But his grief was of short duration. The
elastic spirits of youth resumed their sway; and, before the coach
stopped, his tears had ceased to flow. As to Jack Sheppard, he appeared
utterly reckless and insensible, and did nothing but whistle and sing
the whole way.

While he was dragged along in the manner just described, Thames looked
around to ascertain, if possible, where he was; for he did not put
entire faith in Jonathan's threat of sending him to the round-house, and
apprehensive of something even worse than imprisonment. The aspect of
the place, so far as he could discern through the gloom, was strange to
him; but chancing to raise his eyes above the level of the surrounding
habitations, he beheld, relieved against the sombre sky, the tall
steeple of Saint Giles's church, the precursor of the present structure,
which was not erected till some fifteen years later. He recognised this
object at once. Jonathan had not deceived him.

"What's this here kinchen _in_ for?" asked Terence, as he and Quilt
strode along, with Thames between them.

"What for?" rejoined Quilt, evasively.

"Oh! nothin' partickler--mere curossity," replied Terence. "By the
powers!" he added, turning his lantern full upon the face of the
captive, "he's a nice genn-teel-lookin' kiddy, I must say. Pity he's
ta'en to bad ways so airly."

"You may spare me your compassion, friend," observed Thames; "I am
falsely detained."

"Of course," rejoined Quilt, maliciously; "every thief is so. If we were
to wait till a prig was rightfully nabbed, we might tarry till doomsday.
We never supposed you helped yourself to a picture set with
diamonds--not we!"

"Is the guv'ner consarned in this job?" asked Terence, in a whisper.

"He is," returned Quilt, significantly. "Zounds! what's that!" he cried,
as the noise of a scuffle was heard behind them. "The other kid's given
my partner the slip. Here, take this youngster, Terry; my legs are
lighter than old Nab's." And, committing Thames to the care of the
watchman, he darted after the fugitive.

"Do you wish to earn a rich reward, my good friend?" said Thames to the
watchman, as soon as they were left alone.

"Is it by lettin' you go, my darlin', that I'm to airn it?" inquired
Terence. "If so, it won't pay. You're Mister Wild's pris'ner, and worse
luck to it!"

"I don't ask you to liberate me," urged Thames; "but will you convey a
message for me?"

"Where to, honey?"

"To Mr. Wood's, the carpenter in Wych Street. He lives near the Black
Lion."

"The Black Lion!" echoed Terence. "I know the house well; by the same
token that it's a flash crib. Och! many a mug o' bubb have I drained wi'
the landlord, Joe Hind. And so Misther Wudd lives near the Black Lion,
eh?"

"He does," replied Thames. "Tell him that I--his adopted son, Thames
Darrell--am detained here by Jonathan Wild."

"Thames Ditton--is that your name?"

"No," replied the boy, impatiently; "Darrell--Thames Darrell."

"I'll not forget it. It's a mighty quare 'un, though. I never yet heard
of a Christians as was named after the Shannon or the Liffy; and the
Thames is no better than a dhurty puddle, compared wi' them two noble
strames. But then you're an adopted son, and that makes all the
difference. People do call their unlawful children strange names. Are
you quite shure you haven't another alyas, Masther Thames Ditton?"

"Darrell, I tell you. Will you go? You'll be paid handsomely for your
trouble."

"I don't mind the throuble," hesitated Terence, who was really a
good-hearted fellow at the bottom; "and I'd like to sarve you if I
could, for you look like a gentleman's son, and that goes a great way
wi' me. But if Misther Wild were to find out that I thwarted his
schames----"

"I'd not be in your skin for a trifle," interrupted Quilt, who having
secured Sheppard, and delivered him to Abraham, now approached them
unawares; "and it shan't be my fault if he don't hear of it."

"'Ouns!" ejaculated Terence, in alarm, "would you turn snitch on your
old pal, Quilt?"

"Ay, if he plays a-cross," returned Quilt. "Come along, my sly shaver.
With all your cunning, we're more than a match for you."

"But not for me," growled Terence, in an under tone.

"Remember!" cried Quilt, as he forced the captive along.

"Remember the devil!" retorted Terence, who had recovered his natural
audacity. "Do you think I'm afeard of a beggarly thief-taker and his
myrmidons? Not I. Master Thames Ditton, I'll do your biddin'; and you,
Misther Quilt Arnold, may do your worst, I defy you."

"Dog!" exclaimed Quilt, turning fiercely upon him, "do you threaten?"

But the watchman eluded his grasp, and, mingling with the crowd,
disappeared.




CHAPTER XII.

Saint Giles's Round-house.


Saint Giles's Round-house was an old detached fabric, standing in an
angle of Kendrick Yard. Originally built, as its name imports, in a
cylindrical form, like a modern Martello tower, it had undergone, from
time to time, so many alterations, that its symmetry was, in a great
measure, destroyed. Bulging out more in the middle than at the two
extremities, it resembled an enormous cask set on its end,--a sort of
Heidelberg tun on a large scale,--and this resemblance was increased by
the small circular aperture--it hardly deserved to be called a
door--pierced, like the bung-hole of a barrell, through the side of the
structure, at some distance from the ground, and approached by a flight
of wooden steps. The prison was two stories high, with a flat roof
surmounted by a gilt vane fashioned like a key; and, possessing
considerable internal accommodation, it had, in its day, lodged some
thousands of disorderly personages. The windows were small, and strongly
grated, looking, in front, on Kendrick Yard, and, at the back, upon the
spacious burial-ground of Saint Giles's Church. Lights gleamed from the
lower rooms, and, on a nearer approach to the building, the sound of
revelry might be heard from within.

Warned of the approach of the prisoners by the increased clamour,
Sharples, who was busied in distributing the Marquis's donation,
affected to throw the remainder of the money among the crowd, though, in
reality, he kept back a couple of guineas, which he slipped into his
sleeve, and running hastily up the steps, unlocked the door. He was
followed, more leisurely, by the prisoners; and, during their ascent,
Jack Sheppard made a second attempt to escape by ducking suddenly down,
and endeavouring to pass under his conductor's legs. The dress of the
dwarfish Jew was not, however, favourable to this expedient. Jack was
caught, as in a trap, by the pendant tails of Abraham's long frock; and,
instead of obtaining his release by his ingenuity, he only got a sound
thrashing.

Sharples received them at the threshold, and holding his lantern towards
the prisoners to acquaint himself with their features, nodded to Quilt,
between whom and himself some secret understanding seemed to subsist,
and then closed and barred the door.

"Vell," he growled, addressing Quilt, "you know who's here, I suppose?"

"To be sure I do," replied Quilt; "my noble friend, the Marquis of
Slaughterford. What of that?"

"Vot 'o that!" echoed Sharples, peevishly: "Everythin'. Vot am I to do
vith these young imps, eh?"

"What you generally do with your prisoners, Mr. Sharples," replied
Quilt; "lock 'em up."

"That's easily said. But, suppose I've no place to lock 'em up in, how
then?"

Quilt looked a little perplexed. He passed his arm under that of the
constable, and drew him aside.

"Vell, vell," growled Sharples, after he had listened to the other's
remonstrances, "it shall be done. But it's confounded inconvenient. One
don't often get sich a vindfal as the Markis----"

"Or such a customer as Mr. Wild," edged in Quilt.

"Now, then, Saint Giles!" interposed Sheppard, "are we to be kept here
all night?"

"Eh day!" exclaimed Sharples: "wot new-fledged bantam's this?"

"One that wants to go to roost," replied Sheppard. "So, stir your
stumps, Saint Giles; and, if you mean to lock us up, use despatch."

"Comin'! comin'!" returned the constable, shuffling towards him.

"Coming!--so is midnight--so is Jonathan Wild," retorted Jack, with a
significant look at Thames.

"Have you never an out-o-the-vay corner, into vich you could shtow these
troublesome warmint?" observed Abraham. "The guv'ner'll be here afore
midnight."

Darrell's attention was drawn to the latter part of this speech by a
slight pressure on his foot. And, turning at the touch, he perceived
Sheppard's glance fixed meaningly upon him.

"Stow it, Nab!" exclaimed Quilt, angrily; "the kinchen's awake."

"Awake!--to be sure I am, my flash cove," replied Sheppard; "I'm down as
a hammer."

"I've just bethought me of a crib as'll serve their turn," interposed
Sharples, "at any rate, they'll be out o' the vay, and as safe as two
chicks in a coop."

"Lead the way to it then, Saint Giles," said Jack, in a tone of mock
authority.

The place, in which they stood, was a small entrance-chamber, cut off,
like the segment of a circle, from the main apartment, (of which it is
needless to say it originally constituted a portion,) by a stout wooden
partition. A door led to the inner room; and it was evident from the
peals of merriment, and other noises, that, ever and anon, resounded
from within, that this chamber was occupied by the Marquis and his
friends. Against the walls hung an assortment of staves, brown-bills,
(weapons then borne by the watch,) muskets, handcuffs, great-coats, and
lanterns. In one angle of the room stood a disused fire-place, with a
rusty grate and broken chimney-piece; in the other there was a sort of
box, contrived between the wall and the boards, that looked like an
apology for a cupboard. Towards this box Sharples directed his steps,
and, unlocking a hatch in the door, disclosed a recess scarcely as
large, and certainly not as clean, as a dog-kennel.

"Vill this do?" demanded the constable, taking the candle from the
lantern, the better to display the narrow limits of the hole. "I call
this ere crib the Little-Ease, arter the runaway prentices' cells in
Guildhall. I _have_ squeezed three kids into it afore now. To be sure,"
he added, lowering his tone, "they wos little 'uns, and one on 'em was
smothered--ough! ough!--how this cough chokes me!"

Sheppard, meanwhile, whose hands were at liberty, managed to possess
himself, unperceived, of the spike of a halbert, which was lying, apart
from the pole, upon a bench near him. Having secured this implement, he
burst from his conductor, and, leaping into the hatch, as clowns
generally spring into the clock-faces, when in pursuit of harlequin in
the pantomime,--that is, back foremost,--broke into a fit of loud and
derisive laughter, kicking his heels merrily all the time against the
boards. His mirth, however, received an unpleasant check; for Abraham,
greatly incensed by his previous conduct, caught him by the legs, and
pushed him with such violence into the hole that the point of the
spike, which he had placed in his pocket, found its way through his
clothes to the flesh, inflicting a slight, but painful wound. Jack, who
had something of the Spartan in his composition, endured his martyrdom
without flinching; and carried his stoical indifference so far, as even
to make a mocking grimace in Sharples's face, while that amiable
functionary thrust Thames into the recess beside him.

"How go you like your quarters, sauce-box?" asked Sharples, in a jeering
tone.

"Better than your company, Saint Giles," replied Sheppard; "so, shut the
door, and make yourself scarce."

"That boy'll never rest till he finds his vay to Bridewell," observed
Sharples.

"Or the street," returned Jack: "mind my words, the prison's not built
that can keep me."

"We'll see that, young hempseed," replied Sharples, shutting the hatch
furiously in his face, and locking it. "If you get out o' that cage,
I'll forgive you. Now, come along, gem'men, and I'll show you some
precious sport."

The two janizaries followed him as far as the entrance to the inner
room, when Abraham, raising his finger to his lips, and glancing
significantly in the direction of the boys, to explain his intention to
his companions, closed the door after them, and stole softly back again,
planting himself near the recess.

For a few minutes all was silent. At length Jack Sheppard
observed:--"The coast's clear. They're gone into the next room."

Darrell returned no answer.

"Don't be angry with me, Thames," continued Sheppard, in a tone
calculated, as he thought, to appease his companion's indignation. "I
did all for the best, as I'll explain."

"I won't reproach you, Jack," said the other, sternly. "I've done with
you."

"Not quite, I hope," rejoined Sheppard. "At all events, I've not done
with you. If you owe your confinement to me, you shall owe your
liberation to me, also."

"I'd rather lie here for ever, than be indebted to _you_ for my
freedom," returned Thames.

"I've done nothing to offend you," persisted Jack. "Nothing!" echoed the
other, scornfully. "You've perjured yourself."

"That's my own concern," rejoined Sheppard. "An oath weighs little with
me, compared with your safety."

"No more of this," interrupted Thames, "you make the matter worse by
these excuses."

"Quarrel with me as much as you please, Thames, but hear me," returned
Sheppard. "I took the course I pursued to serve you."

"Tush!" cried Thames; "you accused me to skreen yourself."

"On my soul, Thames, you wrong me!" replied Jack, passionately. "I'd lay
down my life for yours."

"And you expect me to believe you after what has passed?"

"I do; and, more than that, I expect you to thank me."

"For procuring my imprisonment?"

"For saving your life."

"How?"

"Listen to me, Thames. You're in a more serious scrape than you imagine.
I overheard Jonathan Wild's instructions to Quilt Arnold, and though he
spoke in slang, and in an under tone, my quick ears, and acquaintance
with the thieves' lingo, enabled me to make out every word he uttered.
Jonathan is in league with Sir Rowland to make away with you. You are
brought here that their designs may be carried into effect with greater
security. Before morning, unless, we can effect an escape, you'll be
kidnapped, or murdered, and your disappearance attributed to the
negligence of the constable."

"Are you sure of this?" asked Thames, who, though as brave a lad as need
be, could not repress a shudder at the intelligence.

"Certain. The moment I entered the room, and found you a prisoner in the
hands of Jonathan Wild, I guessed how matters stood, and acted
accordingly. Things haven't gone quite as smoothly as I anticipated;
but they might have been worse. I _can_ save you, and _will_. But, say
we're friends."

"You're not deceiving me!" said Thames, doubtfully.

"I am not, by Heaven!" replied Sheppard, firmly.

"Don't swear, Jack, or I shall distrust you. I can't give you my hand;
but you may take it."

"Thank you! thank you!" faltered Jack, in a voice full of emotion. "I'll
soon free you from these bracelets."

"You needn't trouble yourself," replied Thames. "Mr. Wood will be here
presently."

"Mr. Wood!" exclaimed Jack, in surprise. "How have you managed to
communicate with him?"

Abraham, who had listened attentively to the foregoing
conversation,--not a word of which escaped him,--now drew in his breath,
and brought his ear closer to the boards.

"By means of the watchman who had the charge of me," replied Thames.

"Curse him!" muttered Abraham.

"Hist!" exclaimed Jack. "I thought I heard a noise. Speak lower.
Somebody may be on the watch--perhaps, that old ginger-hackled Jew."

"I don't care if he is," rejoined Thames, boldly. "He'll learn that his
plans will be defeated."

"He may learn how to defeat yours," replied Jack.

"So he may," rejoined Abraham, aloud, "so he may."

"Death and fiends!" exclaimed Jack; "the old thief _is_ there. I knew
it. You've betrayed yourself, Thames."

"Vot o' that?" chuckled Abraham. "_You_ can shave him, you know."

"I _can_," rejoined Jack; "and you, too, old Aaron, if I'd a razor."

"How soon do you expect Mishter Vudd?" inquired the janizary,
tauntingly.

"What's that to you?" retorted Jack, surlily.

"Because I shouldn't like to be out o' the vay ven he arrives," returned
Abraham, in a jeering tone; "it vouldn't be vell bred."

"Vouldn't it!" replied Jack, mimicking his snuffling voice; "then shtay
vere you are, and be cursed to you."

"It's all up," muttered Thames. "Mr. Wood will be intercepted. I've
destroyed my only chance."

"Not your _only_ chance, Thames," returned Jack, in the same undertone;
"but your best. Never mind. We'll turn the tables upon 'em yet. Do you
think we could manage that old clothesman between us, if we got out of
this box?"

"I'd manage him myself, if my arms were free," replied Thames, boldly.

"Shpeak up, vill you?" cried Abraham, rapping his knuckles against the
hatch. "I likes to hear vot you says. You _can_ have no shecrets from
me."

"Vy don't you talk to your partner, or Saint Giles, if you vant
conversation, Aaron?" asked Jack, slyly.

"Because they're in the next room, and the door's shut; that's vy, my
jack-a-dandy!" replied Abraham, unsuspiciously.

"Oh! they are--are they?" muttered Jack, triumphantly; "that'll do. Now
for it, Thames! Make as great a row as you can to divert his attention."

With this, he drew the spike from his pocket; and, drowning the sound of
the operation by whistling, singing, shuffling, and other noises,
contrived, in a few minutes, to liberate his companion from the
handcuffs.

"Now, Jack," cried Thames, warmly grasping Sheppard's hand, "you are my
friend again. I freely forgive you."

Sheppard cordially returned the pressure; and, cautioning Thames, "not
to let the ruffles drop, or they might tell a tale," began to warble the
following fragment of a robber melody:--

    "Oh! give me a chisel, a knife, or a file,
    And the dubsmen shall find that I'll do it in style!
                                   _Tol-de-rol!_"

"Vot the devil are you about, noisy?" inquired Abraham.

"Practising singing, Aaron," replied Jack. "Vot are you?"

"Practising patience," growled Abraham.

"Not before it's needed," returned Jack, aloud; adding in a whisper,
"get upon my shoulders, Thames. Now you're up, take this spike. Feel for
the lock, and prize it open,--you don't need to be told _how_. When it's
done, I'll push you through. Take care of the old clothesman, and leave
the rest to me.

    When the turnkey, next morning, stepp'd into his room,
    The sight of the hole in the wall struck him dumb;
    The sheriff's black bracelets lay strewn on the ground,
    But the lad that had worn 'em could nowhere be found.
                                           _Tol-de-rol!_"

As Jack concluded his ditty, the door flew open with a crash, and Thames
sprang through the aperture.

This manoeuvre was so suddenly executed that it took Abraham completely
by surprise. He was standing at the moment close to the hatch, with his
ear at the keyhole, and received a severe blow in the face. He staggered
back a few paces; and, before he could recover himself, Thames tripped
up his heels, and, placing the point of the spike at his throat,
threatened to stab him if he attempted to stir, or cry out. Nor had Jack
been idle all this time. Clearing the recess the instant after his
companion, he flew to the door of the inner room, and, locking it, took
out the key. The policy of this step was immediately apparent. Alarmed
by the noise of the scuffle, Quilt and Sharples rushed to the assistance
of their comrade. But they were too late. The entrance was barred
against them; and they had the additional mortification of hearing
Sheppard's loud laughter at their discomfiture.

"I told you the prison wasn't built that could hold me," cried Jack.

"You're not out yet, you young hound," rejoined Quilt, striving
ineffectually to burst open the door.

"But I soon shall be," returned Jack; "take these," he added, flinging
the handcuffs against the wooden partition, "and wear 'em yourself."

"Halloo, Nab!" vociferated Quilt. "What the devil are you about! Will
you allow yourself to be beaten by a couple of kids?"

"Not if I can help it," returned Abraham, making a desperate effort to
regain his feet. "By my shalvation, boy," he added, fiercely, "if you
don't take your hande off my peard, I'll sthrangle you."

"Help me, Jack!" shouted Thames, "or I shan't be able to keep the
villain down."

"Stick the spike into him, then," returned Sheppard, coolly, "while I
unbar the outlet."

But Thames had no intention of following his friend's advice. Contenting
himself with brandishing the weapon in the Jew's eyes, he exerted all
his force to prevent him from rising.

While this took place, while Quilt thundered at the inner door, and Jack
drew back the bolts of the outer, a deep, manly voice was heard
chanting--as if in contempt of the general uproar--the following
strain:--

    With pipe and punch upon the board,
      And smiling nymphs around us;
    No tavern could more mirth afford
      Than old Saint Giles's round-house!
          _The round-house! the round-house!
          The jolly--jolly round-house!_

"The jolly, jolly round-house!" chorussed Sheppard, as the last bar
yielded to his efforts. "Hurrah! come along, Thames; we're free."

"Not sho fasht--not sho fasht!" cried Abraham, struggling with Thames,
and detaining him; "if you go, you musht take me along vid you."

"Save yourself, Jack!" shouted Thames, sinking beneath the superior
weight and strength of his opponent; "leave me to my fate!"

"Never," replied Jack, hurrying towards him. And, snatching the spike
from Thames, he struck the janizary a severe blow on the head. "I'll
make sure work this time," he added, about to repeat the blow.

"Hold!" interposed Thames, "he can do no more mischief. Let us be gone."

"As you please," returned Jack, leaping up; "but I feel devilishly
inclined to finish him. However, it would only be robbing the hangman of
his dues."

With this, he was preparing to follow his friend, when their egress was
prevented by the sudden appearance of Jonathan Wild and Blueskin.




CHAPTER XIII.

The Magdalene.


The household of the worthy carpenter, it may be conceived, was thrown
into the utmost confusion and distress by the unaccountable
disappearance of the two boys. As time wore on, and they did not return,
Mr. Wood's anxiety grew so insupportable, that he seized his hat with
the intention of sallying forth in search of them, though he did not
know whither to bend his steps, when his departure was arrested by a
gentle knock at the door.

"There he is!" cried Winifred, starting up, joyfully, and proving by the
exclamation that her thoughts were dwelling upon one subject only.
"There he is!"

"I fear not," said her father, with a doubtful shake of the head.
"Thames would let himself in; and Jack generally finds an entrance
through the backdoor or the shop-window, when he has been out at
untimely hours. But, go and see who it is, love. Stay! I'll go myself."

His daughter, however, anticipated him. She flew to the door, but
returned the next minute, looking deeply disappointed, and bringing the
intelligence that it was "only Mrs. Sheppard."

"Who?" almost screamed Mrs. Wood.

"Jack Sheppard's mother," answered the little girl, dejectedly; "she has
brought a basket of eggs from Willesden, and some flowers for you."

"For me!" vociferated Mrs. Wood, in indignant surprise. "Eggs for me!
You mistake, child. They must be for your father."

"No; I'm quite sure she said they're for you," replied Winifred; "but
she _does_ want to see father."

"I thought as much," sneered Mrs. Wood.

"I'll go to her directly," said Wood, bustling towards the door. "I dare
say she has called to inquire about Jack."

"I dare say no such thing," interposed his better half, authoritatively;
"remain where you are, Sir."

"At all events, let me send her away, my dear," supplicated the
carpenter, anxious to avert the impending storm.

"Do you hear me?" cried the lady, with increasing vehemence. "Stir a
foot, at your peril."

"But, my love," still remonstrated Wood, "you know I'm going to look
after the boys----"

"After Mrs. Sheppard, you mean, Sir," interrupted his wife, ironically.
"Don't think to deceive me by your false pretences. Marry, come up! I'm
not so easily deluded. Sit down, I command you. Winny, show the person
into this room. I'll see her myself; and that's more than she bargained
for, I'll be sworn."

Finding it useless to struggle further, Mr. Wood sank, submissively,
into a chair, while his daughter hastened to execute her arbitrary
parent's commission.

"At length, I have my wish," continued Mrs. Wood, regarding her husband
with a glance of vindictive triumph. "I shall behold the shameless
hussy, face to face; and, if I find her as good-looking as she's
represented, I don't know what I'll do in the end; but I'll begin by
scratching her eyes out."

In this temper, it will naturally be imagined, that Mrs. Wood's
reception of the widow, who, at that moment, was ushered into the room
by Winifred, was not particularly kind and encouraging. As she
approached, the carpenter's wife eyed her from head to foot, in the hope
of finding something in her person or apparel to quarrel with. But she
was disappointed. Mrs. Sheppard's dress--extremely neat and clean, but
simply fashioned, and of the plainest and most unpretending
material,--offered nothing assailable; and her demeanour was so humble,
and her looks so modest, that--if she had been ill-looking--she might,
possibly, have escaped the shafts of malice preparing to be levelled
against her. But, alas! she was beautiful--and beauty is a crime not to
be forgiven by a jealous woman.

As the lapse of time and change of circumstances have wrought a
remarkable alteration in the appearance of the poor widow, it may not be
improper to notice it here. When first brought under consideration, she
was a miserable and forlorn object; squalid in attire, haggard in looks,
and emaciated in frame. Now, she was the very reverse of all this. Her
dress, it has just been said, was neatness and simplicity itself. Her
figure, though slight, had all the fulness of health; and her
complexion--still pale, but without its former sickly cast,--contrasted
agreeably, by its extreme fairness, with the dark brows and darker
lashes that shaded eyes which, if they had lost some of their original
brilliancy, had gained infinitely more in the soft and chastened lustre
that replaced it. One marked difference between the poor outcast, who,
oppressed by poverty, and stung by shame, had sought temporary relief in
the stupifying draught,--that worst "medicine of a mind diseased,"--and
those of the same being, freed from her vices, and restored to comfort
and contentment, if not to happiness, by a more prosperous course of
events, was exhibited in the mouth. For the fresh and feverish hue of
lip which years ago characterised this feature, was now substituted a
pure and wholesome bloom, evincing a total change of habits; and, though
the coarse character of the mouth remained, in some degree, unaltered,
it was so modified in expression, that it could no longer be accounted a
blemish. In fact, the whole face had undergone a transformation. All its
better points were improved, while the less attractive ones (and they
were few in comparison) were subdued, or removed. What was yet more
worthy of note was, that the widow's countenance had an air of
refinement about it, of which it was utterly destitute before, and which
seemed to intimate that her true position in society was far above that
wherein accident had placed her.

"Well, Mrs. Sheppard," said the carpenter, advancing to meet her, and
trying to look as cheerful and composed as he could; "what brings you to
town, eh?--Nothing amiss, I trust?"

"Nothing whatever, Sir," answered the widow. "A neighbour offered me a
drive to Paddington; and, as I haven't heard of my son for some time, I
couldn't resist the temptation of stepping on to inquire after him, and
to thank you for your great goodness to us both, I've brought a little
garden-stuff and a few new-laid eggs for you, Ma'am," she added turning
to Mrs. Wood, who appeared to be collecting her energies for a terrible
explosion, "in the hope that they may prove acceptable. Here's a nosegay
for you, my love," she continued, opening her basket, and presenting a
fragrant bunch of flowers to Winifred, "if your mother will allow me to
give it you."

"Don't touch it, Winny!" screamed Mrs. Wood, "it may be poisoned."

"I'm not afraid, mother," said the little girl, smelling at the bouquet.
"How sweet these roses are! Shall I put them into water?"

"Put them where they came from," replied Mrs. Wood, severely, "and go to
bed."

"But, mother, mayn't I sit up to see whether Thames returns?" implored
Winifred.

"What can it matter to you whether he returns or not, child," rejoined
Mrs. Wood, sharply. "I've spoken. And my word's law--with _you_, at
least," she added, bestowing a cutting glance upon her husband.

The little girl uttered no remonstrance; but, replacing the flowers in
the basket, burst into tears, and withdrew.

Mrs. Sheppard, who witnessed this occurrence with dismay, looked
timorously at Wood, in expectation of some hint being given as to the
course she had better pursue; but, receiving none, for the carpenter was
too much agitated to attend to her, she ventured to express a fear that
she was intruding.

"Intruding!" echoed Mrs. Wood; "to be sure you are! I wonder how you
dare show your face in this house, hussy!"

"I thought you sent for me, Ma'am," replied the widow, humbly.

"So I did," retorted Mrs. Wood; "and I did so to see how far your
effrontery would carry you."

"I'm sure I'm very sorry. I hope I haven't given any unintentional
offence?" said the widow, again meekly appealing to Wood.

"Don't exchange glances with him under my very nose, woman!" shrieked
Mrs. Wood; "I'll not bear it. Look at me, and answer me one question.
And, mind! no prevaricating--nothing but the truth will satisfy me."

Mrs. Sheppard raised her eyes, and fixed them upon her interrogator.

"Are you not that man's mistress?" demanded Mrs. Wood, with a look meant
to reduce her supposed rival to the dust.

"I am no man's mistress," answered the widow, crimsoning to her temples,
but preserving her meek deportment, and humble tone.

"That's false!" cried Mrs. Wood. "I'm too well acquainted with your
proceedings, Madam, to believe that. Profligate women are never
reclaimed. _He_ has told me sufficient of you--"

"My dear," interposed Wood, "for goodness' sake--"

"I _will_ speak," screamed his wife, totally disregarding the
interruption; "I _will_ tell this worthless creature what I know about
her,--and what I think of her."

"Not now, my love--not now," entreated Wood.

"Yes, _now_," rejoined the infuriated dame; "perhaps, I may never have
another opportunity. She has contrived to keep out of my sight up to
this time, and I've no doubt she'll keep out of it altogether for the
future."

"That was my doing, dearest," urged the carpenter; "I was afraid if you
saw her that some such scene as this might occur."

"Hear me, Madam, I beseech you," interposed Mrs. Sheppard, "and, if it
please you to visit your indignation on any one let it be upon me, and
not on your excellent husband, whose only fault is in having bestowed
his charity upon so unworthy an object as myself."

"Unworthy, indeed!" sneered Mrs. Wood.

"To him I owe everything," continued the widow, "life itself--nay, more
than life,--for without his assistance I should have perished, body and
soul. He has been a father to me and my child."

"I never doubted the latter point, I assure you, Madam," observed Mrs.
Wood.

"You have said," pursued the widow, "that she, who has once erred, is
irreclaimable. Do not believe it, Madam. It is not so. The poor wretch,
driven by desperation to the commission of a crime which her soul
abhors, is no more beyond the hope of reformation than she is without
the pale of mercy. I have suffered--I have sinned--I have repented. And,
though neither peace nor innocence can be restored to my bosom; though
tears cannot blot out my offences, nor sorrow drown my shame; yet,
knowing that my penitence is sincere, I do not despair that my
transgressions may be forgiven."

"Mighty fine!" ejaculated Mrs. Wood, contemptuously.

"You cannot understand me, Madam; and it is well you cannot. Blest with
a fond husband, surrounded by every comfort, _you_ have never been
assailed by the horrible temptations to which misery has exposed _me_.
You have never known what it is to want food, raiment, shelter. You have
never seen the child within your arms perishing from hunger, and no
relief to be obtained. You have never felt the hearts of all hardened
against you; have never heard the jeer or curse from every lip; nor
endured the insult and the blow from every hand. I _have_ suffered all
this. I could resist the tempter _now_, I am strong in health,--in mind.
But _then_--Oh! Madam, there are moments--moments of darkness, which
overshadow a whole existence--in the lives of the poor houseless
wretches who traverse the streets, when reason is well-nigh benighted;
when the horrible promptings of despair can, alone, be listened to; and
when vice itself assumes the aspect of virtue. Pardon what I have said,
Madam. I do not desire to extenuate my guilt--far less to defend it; but
I would show you, and such as you--who, happily, are exempted from
trials like mine--how much misery has to do with crime. And I affirm to
you, on my own conviction, that she who falls, because she has not
strength granted her to struggle with affliction, _may_ be
reclaimed,--may repent, and be forgiven,--even as she, whose sins,
'though many, were forgiven her'.

"It gladdens me to hear you talk thus, Joan," said Wood, in a voice of
much emotion, while his eyes filled with tears, "and more than repays me
for all I have done for you."

"If professions of repentance constitute a Magdalene, Mrs. Sheppard is
one, no doubt," observed Mrs. Wood, ironically; "but I used to think it
required something more than _mere words_ to prove that a person's
character was abused."

"Very right, my love," said Wood, "very sensibly remarked. So it does.
Bu I can speak to that point. Mrs. Sheppard's conduct, from my own
personal knowledge, has been unexceptionable for the last twelve years.
During that period she has been a model of propriety."

"Oh! of course," rejoined Mrs. Wood; "I can't for an instant question
such distinterested testimony. Mrs. Sheppard, I'm sure, will say as much
for you. He's a model of conjugal attachment and fidelity, a pattern to
his family, and an example to his neighbours. Ain't he, Madam?'"

"He is, indeed," replied the widow, fervently; "more--much more than
that."

"He's no such thing!" cried Mrs. Wood, furiously. "He's a base,
deceitful, tyrannical, hoary-headed libertine--that's what he is. But,
I'll expose him. I'll proclaim his misdoings to the world; and, then, we
shall see where he'll stand. Marry, come up! I'll show him what an
injured wife can do. If all wives were of my mind and my spirit,
husbands would soon be taught their own insignificance. But a time
_will_ come (and that before long,) when our sex will assert its
superiority; and, when we have got the upper hand, let 'em try to subdue
us if they can. But don't suppose, Madam, that anything I say has
reference to you. I'm speaking of virtuous women--of WIVES, Madam.
Mistresses neither deserve consideration nor commiseration."

"I expect no commiseration," returned Mrs. Sheppard, gently, "nor do I
need any. But, rather than be the cause of any further misunderstanding
between you and my benefactor, I will leave London and its neighbourhood
for ever."

"Pray do so, Madam," retorted Mrs. Wood, "and take your son with you."

"My son!" echoed the widow, trembling.

"Yes, your son, Madam. If you can do any good with him, it's more than
we can. The house will be well rid of him, for a more idle,
good-for-nothing reprobate never crossed its threshold."

"Is this true, Sir?" cried Mrs. Sheppard, with an agonized look at Wood.
"I know you'll not deceive me. Is Jack what Mrs. Wood represents him?"

"He's not exactly what I could desire him to be, Joan," replied the
carpenter, reluctantly, "But a ragged colt sometimes makes the best
horse. He'll mend, I hope."

"Never," said Mrs. Wood,--"he'll never mend. He has taken more than one
step towards the gallows already. Thieves and pickpockets are his
constant companions."

"Thieves!" exclaimed Mrs. Sheppard, horror-stricken.

"Jonathan Wild and Blueskin have got him into their hands," continued
Mrs. Wood.

"Impossible!" exclaimed the widow, wildly.

"If you doubt my word, woman," replied the carpenter's wife, coldly,
"ask Mr. Wood."

"I know you'll contradict it, Sir," said the widow, looking at Wood as
if she dreaded to have her fears confirmed,--"I know you will."

"I wish I could, Joan," returned the carpenter, sadly.

Mrs. Sheppard let fall her basket.

"My son," she murmured, wringing her hands piteously--, "my son the
companion of thieves! My son in Jonathan Wild's power! It cannot be."

"Why not?" rejoined Mrs. Wood, in a taunting tone. "Your son's father
was a thief; and Jonathan Wild (unless I'm misinformed,) was his
friend,--so it's not unnatural he should show some partiality towards
Jack."

"Jonathan Wild was my husband's bitterest enemy," said Mrs. Sheppard.
"He first seduced him from the paths of honesty, and then betrayed him
to a shameful death, and he has sworn to do the same thing by my son.
Oh, Heavens; that I should have ever indulged a hope of happiness while
that terrible man lives!"

"Compose yourself, Joan," said Wood; "all will yet be well."

"Oh, no,--no," replied Mrs. Sheppard, distractedly. "All cannot be well,
if this is true. Tell me, Sir," she added, with forced calmness, and
grasping Wood's arm; "what has Jack done? Tell me in a word, that I may
know the worst. I can bear anything but suspense."

"You're agitating yourself unnecessarily, Joan," returned Wood, in a
soothing voice. "Jack has been keeping bad company. That's the only
fault I know of."

"Thank God for that!" ejaculated Mrs. Sheppard, fervently. "Then it is
not too late to save him. Where is he, Sir? Can I see him?"

"No, that you can't," answered Mrs. Wood; "he has gone out without
leave, and has taken Thames Darrell with him. If I were Mr. Wood, when
he does return, I'd send him about his business. I wouldn't keep an
apprentice to set my authority at defiance."

Mr. Wood's reply, if he intended any, was cut short by a loud knocking
at the door.

"'Odd's-my-life!--what's that?" he cried, greatly alarmed.

"It's Jonathan Wild come back with a troop of constables at his heels,
to search the house," rejoined Mrs. Wood, in equal trepidation. "We
shall all be murdered. Oh! that Mr. Kneebone were here to protect me!"

"If it _is_ Jonathan," rejoined Wood, "it is very well for Mr. Kneebone
he's not here. He'd have enough to do to protect himself, without
attending to you. I declare I'm almost afraid to go to the door.
Something, I'm convinced, has happened to the boys."

"Has Jonathan Wild been here to-day?" asked Mrs. Sheppard, anxiously.

"To be sure he has!" returned Mrs. Wood; "and Blueskin, too. They're
only just gone, mercy on us! what a clatter," she added, as the knocking
was repeated more violently than before.

While the carpenter irresolutely quitted the room, with a strong
presentiment of ill upon his mind, a light quick step was heard
descending the stairs, and before he could call out to prevent it, a man
was admitted into the passage.

"Is this Misther Wudd's, my pretty miss?" demanded the rough voice of
the Irish watchman.

"It is", seplied Winifred; "have you brought any tidings of Thames
Darrell!"

"Troth have I!" replied Terence: "but, bless your angilic face, how did
you contrive to guess that?"

"Is he well?--is he safe?--is he coming back," cried the little girl,
disregarding the question.

"He's in St. Giles's round-house," answered Terence; "but tell Mr. Wudd
I'm here, and have brought him a message from his unlawful son, and
don't be detainin' me, my darlin', for there's not a minute to lose if
the poor lad's to be recused from the clutches of that thief and
thief-taker o' the wurld, Jonathan Wild."

The carpenter, upon whom no part of this hurried dialogue had been lost,
now made his appearance, and having obtained from Terence all the
information which that personage could impart respecting the perilous
situation of Thames, he declared himself ready to start to Saint Giles's
at once, and ran back to the room for his hat and stick; expressing his
firm determination, as he pocketed his constable's staff with which he
thought it expedient to arm himself, of being direfully revenged upon
the thief-taker: a determination in which he was strongly encouraged by
his wife. Terence, meanwhile, who had followed him, did not remain
silent, but recapitulated his story, for the benefit of Mrs. Sheppard.
The poor widow was thrown into an agony of distress on learning that a
robbery had been committed, in which her son (for she could not doubt
that Jack was one of the boys,) was implicated; nor was her anxiety
alleviated by Mrs. Wood, who maintained stoutly, that if Thames had been
led to do wrong, it must be through the instrumentality of his worthless
companion.

"And there you're right, you may dipind, marm," observed Terence.
"Master Thames Ditt--what's his blessed name?--has honesty written in
his handsome phiz; but as to his companion, Jack Sheppard, I think you
call him, he's a born and bred thief. Lord bless you marm! we sees
plenty on 'em in our purfession. Them young prigs is all alike. I seed
he was one,--and a sharp un, too,--at a glance."

"Oh!" exclaimed the widow, covering her face with her hands.

"Take a drop of brandy before we start, watchman," said Wood, pouring
out a glass of spirit, and presenting it to Terence, who smacked his
lips as he disposed of it. "Won't you be persuaded, Joan?" he added,
making a similar offer to Mrs. Sheppard, which she gratefully declined.
"If you mean to accompany us, you may need it."

"You are very kind, Sir," returned the widow, "but I require no support.
Nothing stronger than water has passed my lips for years."

"We may believe as much of that as we please, I suppose," observed the
carpenter's wife, with a sneer. "Mr. Wood," she continued, in an
authoritative tone, seeing her husband ready to depart, "one word before
you set out. If Jack Sheppard or his mother ever enter this house again,
I leave it--that's all. Now, do what you please. You know _my_ fixed
determination."

Mr. Wood made no reply; but, hastily kissing his weeping daughter, and
bidding her be of good cheer, hurried off. He was followed with equal
celerity by Terence and the widow. Traversing what remained of Wych
Street at a rapid pace, and speeding along Drury Lane, the trio soon
found themselves in Kendrick Yard. When they came to the round-house,
Terry's courage failed him. Such was the terror inspired by Wild's
vindictive character, that few durst face him who had given him cause
for displeasure. Aware that he should incur the thief-taker's bitterest
animosity by what he had done, the watchman, whose wrath against Quilt
Arnold had evaporated during the walk, thought it more prudent not to
hazard a meeting with his master, till the storm had, in some measure,
blown over. Accordingly, having given Wood such directions as he thought
necessary for his guidance, and received a handsome gratuity in return
for his services, he departed.

It was not without considerable demur and delay on the part of Sharples
that the carpenter and his companion could gain admittance to the
round-house. Reconnoitring them through a small grated loophole, he
refused to open the door till they had explained their business. This,
Wood, acting upon Terry's caution, was most unwilling to do; but,
finding he had no alternative, he reluctantly made known his errand and
the bolts were undrawn. Once in, the constable's manner appeared totally
changed. He was now as civil as he had just been insolent. Apologizing
for their detention, he answered the questions put to him respecting the
boys, by positively denying that any such prisoners had been entrusted
to his charge, but offered to conduct him to every cell in the building
to prove the truth of his assertion. He then barred and double-locked
the door, took out the key, (a precautionary measure which, with a grim
smile, he said he never omitted,) thrust it into his vest, and motioning
the couple to follow him, led the way to the inner room. As Wood obeyed,
his foot slipped; and, casting his eyes upon the floor, he perceived it
splashed in several places with blood. From the freshness of the stains,
which grew more frequent as they approached the adjoining chamber, it
was evident some violence had been recently perpetrated, and the
carpenter's own blood froze within his veins as he thought, with a
thrill of horror, that, perhaps on this very spot, not many minutes
before his arrival, his adopted son might have been inhumanly butchered.
Nor was this impression removed as he stole a glance at Mrs. Sheppard,
and saw from her terrified look that she had made the same alarming
discovery as himself. But it was now too late to turn back, and, nerving
himself for the shock he expected to encounter, he ventured after his
conductor. No sooner had they entered the room than Sharples, who waited
to usher them in, hastily retreated, closed the door, and turning the
key, laughed loudly at the success of his stratagem. Vexation at his
folly in suffering himself to be thus entrapped kept Wood for a short
time silent. When he could find words, he tried by the most urgent
solicitations to prevail upon the constable to let him out. But threats
and entreaties--even promises were ineffectual; and the unlucky captive,
after exhausting his powers of persuasion, was compelled to give up the
point.

The room in which he was detained--that lately occupied by the Mohocks,
who, it appeared, had been allowed to depart,--was calculated to inspire
additional apprehension and disgust. Strongly impregnated with the
mingled odours of tobacco, ale, brandy, and other liquors, the
atmosphere was almost stifling. The benches running round the room,
though fastened to the walls by iron clamps, had been forcibly wrenched
off; while the table, which was similarly secured to the boards, was
upset, and its contents--bottles, jugs, glasses, and bowls were broken
and scattered about in all directions. Everything proclaimed the
mischievous propensities of the recent occupants of the chamber.

Here lay a heap of knockers of all sizes, from the huge lion's head to
the small brass rapper: there, a collection of sign-boards, with the
names and calling of the owners utterly obliterated. On this side stood
the instruments with which the latter piece of pleasantry had been
effected,--namely, a bucket filled with paint and a brush: on that was
erected a trophy, consisting of a watchman's rattle, a laced hat, with
the crown knocked out, and its place supplied by a lantern, a campaign
wig saturated with punch, a torn steen-kirk and ruffles, some half-dozen
staves, and a broken sword.

As the carpenter's gaze wandered over this scene of devastation, his
attention was drawn by Mrs. Sheppard towards an appalling object in one
corner. This was the body of a man, apparently lifeless, and stretched
upon a mattress, with his head bound up in a linen cloth, through which
the blood had oosed. Near the body, which, it will be surmised, was that
of Abraham Mendez, two ruffianly personages were seated, quietly
smoking, and bestowing no sort of attention upon the new-comers. Their
conversation was conducted in the flash language, and, though
unintelligible to Wood, was easily comprehended by this companion, who
learnt, to her dismay, that the wounded man had received his hurt from
her son, whose courage and dexterity formed the present subject of their
discourse. From other obscure hints dropped by the speakers, Mrs.
Sheppard ascertained that Thames Darrell had been carried off--where she
could not make out--by Jonathan Wild and Quilt Arnold; and that Jack had
been induced to accompany Blueskin to the Mint. This intelligence, which
she instantly communicated to the carpenter, drove him almost frantic.
He renewed his supplications to Sharples, but with no better success
than heretofore; and the greater part of the night was passed by him and
the poor widow, whose anxiety, if possible, exceeded his own, in the
most miserable state imaginable.

At length, about three o'clock, as the first glimmer of dawn became
visible through the barred casements of the round-house, the rattling of
bolts and chains at the outer door told that some one was admitted.
Whoever this might be, the visit seemed to have some reference to the
carpenter, for, shortly afterwards, Sharples made his appearance, and
informed the captives they were free. Without waiting to have the
information repeated, Wood rushed forth, determined as soon as he could
procure assistance, to proceed to Jonathan Wild's house in the Old
Bailey; while Mrs. Sheppard, whose maternal fears drew her in another
direction, hurried off to the Mint.




CHAPTER XIV.

The Flash Ken.


In an incredibly short space of time,--for her anxiety lent wings to her
feet,--Mrs. Sheppard reached the debtor's garrison. From a scout
stationed at the northern entrance, whom she addressed in the jargon of
the place, with which long usage had formerly rendered her familiar, she
ascertained that Blueskin, accompanied by a youth, whom she knew by the
description must be her son, had arrived there about three hours before,
and had proceeded to the Cross Shovels. This was enough for the poor
widow. She felt she was now near her boy, and, nothing doubting her
ability to rescue him from his perilous situation, she breathed a
fervent prayer for his deliverance; and bending her steps towards the
tavern in question, revolved within her mind as she walked along the
best means of accomplishing her purpose. Aware of the cunning and
desperate characters of the persons with whom she would have to
deal,--aware, also, that she was in a quarter where no laws could be
appealed to, nor assistance obtained, she felt the absolute necessity of
caution. Accordingly, when she arrived at the Shovels, with which, as an
old haunt in her bygone days of wretchedness she was well acquainted,
instead of entering the principal apartment, which she saw at a glance
was crowded with company of both sexes, she turned into a small room on
the left of the bar, and, as an excuse for so doing, called for
something to drink. The drawers at the moment were too busy to attend to
her, and she would have seized the opportunity of examining,
unperceived, the assemblage within, through a little curtained window
that overlooked the adjoining chamber, if an impediment had not existed
in the shape of Baptist Kettleby, whose portly person entirely obscured
the view. The Master of the Mint, in the exercise of his two-fold office
of governor and publican, was mounted upon a chair, and holding forth to
his guests in a speech, to which Mrs. Sheppard was unwillingly compelled
to listen.

"Gentlemen of the Mint," said the orator, "when I was first called, some
fifty years ago, to the important office I hold, there existed across
the water three places of refuge for the oppressed and persecuted
debtor."

"We know it," cried several voices.

"It happened, gentlemen," pursued the Master, "on a particular occasion,
about the time I've mentioned, that the Archduke of Alsatia, the
Sovereign of the Savoy, and the Satrap of Salisbury Court, met by
accident at the Cross Shovels. A jolly night we made of it, as you may
suppose; for four such monarchs don't often come together. Well, while
we were smoking our pipes, and quaffing our punch, Alsatia turns to me
and says, 'Mint,' says he, 'you're well off here.'--'Pretty well,' says
I; 'you're not badly off at the Friars, for that matter.'--'Oh! yes we
are,' says he.--'How so?' says I.--'It's all up with us,' says he;
'they've taken away our charter.'--'They can't,' says I.--'They have,'
says he.--'They can't, I tell you,' says I, in a bit of a passion; 'it's
unconstitutional.'--'Unconstitutional or not,' says Salisbury Court and
Savoy, speaking together, 'it's true. We shall become a prey to the
Philistines, and must turn honest in self-defence.'--'No fear o' that,'
thought I.--'I see how it'll be,' observed Alsatia, 'everybody'll pay
his debts, and only think of such a state of things as that.'--'It's
_not_ to be thought of,' says I, thumping the table till every glass on
it jingled; 'and I know a way as'll prevent it.'--'What is it, Mint?'
asked all three.--'Why, hang every bailiff that sets a foot in your
territories, and you're safe,' says I.--'We'll do it,' said they,
filling their glasses, and looking as fierce as King George's grenadier
guards; 'here's your health, Mint.' But, gentlemen, though they talked
so largely, and looked so fiercely, they did _not_ do it; they did _not_
hang the bailiffs; and where are they?"

"Ay, where are they?" echoed the company with indignant derision.

"Gentlemen," returned the Master, solemnly, "it is a question easily
answered--they are NOWHERE! Had they hanged the bailiffs, the bailiffs
would not have hanged them. We ourselves have been similarly
circumstanced. Attacked by an infamous and unconstitutional statute,
passed in the reign of the late usurper, William of Orange, (for I may
remark that, if the right king had been upon the throne, that illegal
enactment would never have received the royal assent--the
Stuarts--Heaven preserve 'em!--always siding with the debtors); attacked
in this outrageous manner, I repeat, it has been all but '_up_' with US!
But the vigorous resistance offered on that memorable occasion by the
patriotic inhabitants of Bermuda to the aggressions of arbitrary power,
secured and established their privileges on a firmer basis than
heretofore; and, while their pusillanimous allies were crushed and
annihilated, they became more prosperous than ever. Gentlemen, I am
proud to say that _I_ originated--that _I_ directed those measures. I
hope to see the day, when not Southwark alone, but London itself shall
become one Mint,--when all men shall be debtors, and none
creditors,--when imprisonment for debt shall be utterly abolished,--when
highway-robbery shall be accounted a pleasant pastime, and forgery
an accomplishment,--when Tyburn and its gibbets shall be
overthrown,--capital punishments discontinued,--Newgate, Ludgate, the
Gatehouse, and the Compters razed to the ground,--Bridewell and
Clerkenwell destroyed,--the Fleet, the King's Bench, and the Marshalsea
remembered only by name! But, in the mean time, as that day may possibly
be farther off than I anticipate, we are bound to make the most of the
present. Take care of yourselves, gentlemen, and your governor will take
care of you. Before I sit down, I have a toast to propose, which I am
sure will be received, as it deserves to be, with enthusiasm. It is the
health of a stranger,--of Mr. John Sheppard. His father was one of my
old customers, and I am happy to find his son treading in his steps. He
couldn't be in better hands than those in which he has placed himself.
Gentlemen,--Mr. Sheppard's good health, and success to him!"

Baptist's toast was received with loud applause, and, as he sat down
amid the cheers of the company, and a universal clatter of mugs and
glasses, the widow's view was no longer obstructed. Her eye wandered
quickly over that riotous and disorderly assemblage, until it settled
upon one group more riotous and disorderly than the rest, of which her
son formed the principal figure. The agonized mother could scarcely
repress a scream at the spectacle that met her gaze. There sat Jack,
evidently in the last stage of intoxication, with his collar opened, his
dress disarranged, a pipe in his mouth, a bowl of punch and a
half-emptied rummer before him,--there he sat, receiving and returning,
or rather attempting to return,--for he was almost past
consciousness,--the blandishments of a couple of females, one of whom
had passed her arm round his neck, while the other leaned over the back
of his chair and appeared from her gestures to be whispering soft
nonsense into his ear.

Both these ladies possessed considerable personal attractions. The
younger of the two, who was seated next to Jack, and seemed to
monopolize his attention, could not be more than seventeen, though her
person had all the maturity of twenty. She had delicate oval features,
light, laughing blue eyes, a pretty _nez retroussé_, (why have we not
the term, since we have the best specimens of the feature?) teeth of
pearly whiteness, and a brilliant complexion, set off by rich auburn
hair, a very white neck and shoulders,--the latter, perhaps, a trifle
too much exposed. The name of this damsel was Edgeworth Bess; and, as
her fascinations will not, perhaps, be found to be without some
influence upon the future fortunes of her boyish admirer, we have
thought it worth while to be thus particular in describing them. The
other _bona roba_, known amongst her companions as Mistress Poll Maggot,
was a beauty on a much larger scale,--in fact, a perfect Amazon.
Nevertheless though nearly six feet high, and correspondingly
proportioned, she was a model of symmetry, and boasted, with the frame
of a Thalestris or a Trulla, the regular lineaments of the Medicean
Venus. A man's laced hat,--whether adopted from the caprice of the
moment, or habitually worn, we are unable to state,--cocked knowingly on
her head, harmonized with her masculine appearance. Mrs. Maggot, as well
as her companion Edgeworth Bess, was showily dressed; nor did either of
them disdain the aid supposed to be lent to a fair skin by the contents
of the patchbox. On an empty cask, which served him for a chair, and
opposite Jack Sheppard, whose rapid progress in depravity afforded him
the highest satisfaction, sat Blueskin, encouraging the two women in
their odious task, and plying his victim with the glass as often as he
deemed it expedient to do so. By this time, he had apparently
accomplished all he desired; for moving the bottle out of Jack's reach,
he appropriated it entirely to his own use, leaving the devoted lad to
the care of the females. Some few of the individuals seated at the other
tables seemed to take an interest in the proceedings of Blueskin and his
party, just as a bystander watches any other game; but, generally
speaking, the company were too much occupied with their own concerns to
pay attention to anything else. The assemblage was for the most part, if
not altogether, composed of persons to whom vice in all its aspects was
too familiar to present much of novelty, in whatever form it was
exhibited. Nor was Jack by any means the only stripling in the room. Not
far from him was a knot of lads drinking, swearing, and playing at dice
as eagerly and as skilfully as any of the older hands. Near to these
hopeful youths sat a fence, or receiver, bargaining with a clouter, or
pickpocket, for a _suit_,--or, to speak in more intelligible language, a
watch and seals, two _cloaks_, commonly called watch-cases, and a
_wedge-lobb,_ otherwise known as a silver snuff-box. Next to the
receiver was a gang of housebreakers, laughing over their exploits, and
planning fresh depredations; and next to the housebreakers came two
gallant-looking gentlemen in long periwigs and riding-dresses, and
equipped in all other respects for the road, with a roast fowl and a
bottle of wine before them. Amid this varied throng,--varied in
appearance, but alike in character,--one object alone, we have said,
rivetted Mrs. Sheppard's attention; and no sooner did she in some degree
recover from the shock occasioned by the sight of her son's debased
condition, than, regardless of any other consideration except his
instant removal from the contaminating society by which he was
surrounded, and utterly forgetting the more cautious plan she meant to
have adopted, she rushed into the room, and summoned him to follow her.

"Halloa!" cried Jack, looking round, and trying to fix his inebriate
gaze upon the speaker,--"who's that?"

"Your mother," replied Mrs. Sheppard. "Come home directly, Sir."

"Mother be----!" returned Jack. "Who is it, Bess?"

"How should I know?" replied Edgeworth Bess. "But if it _is_ your
mother, send her about her business."

"That I will," replied Jack, "in the twinkling of a bedpost."

"Glad to see you once more in the Mint, Mrs. Sheppard," roared Blueskin,
who anticipated some fun. "Come and sit down by me."

"Take a glass of gin, Ma'am," cried Poll Maggot, holding up a bottle of
spirit; "it used to be your favourite liquor, I've heard."

"Jack, my love," cried Mrs. Sheppard, disregarding the taunt, "come
away."

"Not I," replied Jack; "I'm too comfortable where I am. Be off!"

"Jack!" exclaimed his unhappy parent.

"Mr. Sheppard, if you please, Ma'am," interrupted the lad; "I allow
nobody to call me Jack. Do I, Bess, eh?"

"Nobody whatever, love," replied Edgeworth Bess; "nobody but me, dear."

"And me," insinuated Mrs. Maggot. "My little fancy man's quite as fond
of me as of you, Bess. Ain't you, Jacky darling?"

"Not quite, Poll," returned Mr. Sheppard; "but I love you next to her,
and both of you better than _Her_," pointing with the pipe to his
mother.

"Oh, Heavens!" cried Mrs. Sheppard.

"Bravo!" shouted Blueskin. "Tom Sheppard never said a better thing than
that--ho! ho!"

"Jack," cried his mother, wringing her hands in distraction, "you'll
break my heart!"

"Poh! poh!" returned her son; "women don't so easily break their hearts.
Do they, Bess?"

"Certainly not," replied the young lady appealed to, "especially about
their sons."

"Wretch!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, bitterly.

"I say," retorted Edgeworth Bess, with a very unfeminine imprecation, "I
shan't stand any more of that nonsense. What do you mean by calling me
wretch, Madam!" she added marching up to Mrs. Sheppard, and regarding
her with an insolent and threatening glance.

"Yes--what do you mean, Ma'am?" added Jack, staggering after her.

"Come with me, my love, come--come," cried his mother, seizing his hand,
and endeavouring to force him away.

"He shan't go," cried Edgeworth Bess, holding him by the other hand.
"Here, Poll, help me!"

Thus exhorted, Mrs. Maggot lent her powerful aid, and, between the two,
Jack was speedily relieved from all fears of being carried off against
his will. Not content with this exhibition of her prowess, the Amazon
lifted him up as easily as if he had been an infant, and placed him upon
her shoulders, to the infinite delight of the company, and the increased
distress of his mother.

"Now, let's see who'll dare to take him down," she cried.

"Nobody shall," cried Mr. Sheppard from his elevated position. "I'm my
own master now, and I'll do as I please. I'll turn cracksman, like my
father--rob old Wood--he has chests full of money, and I know where
they're kept--I'll rob him, and give the swag to you, Poll--I'll--"

Jack would have said more; but, losing his balance, he fell to the
ground, and, when taken up, he was perfectly insensible. In this state,
he was laid upon a bench, to sleep off his drunken fit, while his
wretched mother, in spite of her passionate supplications and
resistance, was, by Blueskin's command, forcibly ejected from the house,
and driven out of the Mint.




CHAPTER XV.

The Robbery in Willesden Church.


During the whole of the next day and night, the poor widow hovered like
a ghost about the precincts of the debtors' garrison,--for admission (by
the Master's express orders,) was denied her. She could learn nothing of
her son, and only obtained one solitary piece of information, which
added to, rather than alleviated her misery,--namely, that Jonathan Wild
had paid a secret visit to the Cross Shovels. At one time, she
determined to go to Wych Street, and ask Mr. Wood's advice and
assistance, but the thought of the reception she was likely to meet with
from his wife deterred her from executing this resolution. Many other
expedients occurred to her; but after making several ineffectual
attempts to get into the Mint unobserved, they were all abandoned.

At length, about an hour before dawn on the second day--Sunday--having
spent the early part of the night in watching at the gates of the
robbers' sanctuary, and being almost exhausted from want of rest, she
set out homewards. It was a long walk she had to undertake, even if she
had endured no previous fatigue, but feeble as she was, it was almost
more than she could accomplish. Daybreak found her winding her painful
way along the Harrow Road; and, in order to shorten the distance as much
as possible, she took the nearest cut, and struck into the meadows on
the right. Crossing several fields, newly mown, or filled with lines of
tedded hay, she arrived, not without great exertion, at the summit of a
hill. Here her strength completely failed her, and she was compelled to
seek some repose. Making her couch upon a heap of hay, she sank at once
into a deep and refreshing slumber.

When she awoke, the sun was high in Heaven. It was a bright and
beautiful day: _so_ bright, so beautiful, that even her sad heart was
cheered by it. The air, perfumed with the delicious fragrance of the
new-mown grass, was vocal with the melodies of the birds; the thick
foliage of the trees was glistening in the sunshine; all nature seemed
happy and rejoicing; but, above all, the serene Sabbath stillness
reigning around communicated a calm to her wounded spirit.

What a contrast did the lovely scene she now gazed upon present to the
squalid neighbourhood she had recently quitted! On all sides, expanded
prospects of country the most exquisite and most varied. Immediately
beneath her lay Willesden,--the most charming and secluded village in
the neighbourhood of the metropolis--with its scattered farm-houses, its
noble granges, and its old grey church-tower just peeping above a grove
of rook-haunted trees.

Towards this spot Mrs. Sheppard now directed her steps. She speedily
reached her own abode,--a little cottage, standing in the outskirts of
the village. The first circumstance that struck her on her arrival
seemed ominous. Her clock had stopped--stopped at the very hour on which
she had quitted the Mint! She had not the heart to wind it up again.

After partaking of some little refreshment, and changing her attire,
Mrs. Sheppard prepared for church. By this time, she had so far
succeeded in calming herself, that she answered the greetings of the
neighbours whom she encountered on her way to the sacred edifice--if
sorrowfully, still composedly.

Every old country church is beautiful, but Willesden is the most
beautiful country church we know; and in Mrs. Sheppard's time it was
even more beautiful than at present, when the hand of improvement has
proceeded a little too rashly with alterations and repairs. With one or
two exceptions, there were no pews; and, as the intercourse with London
was then but slight, the seats were occupied almost exclusively by the
villagers. In one of these seats, at the end of the aisle farthest
removed from the chancel, the widow took her place, and addressed
herself fervently to her devotions.

The service had not proceeded far, when she was greatly disturbed by the
entrance of a person who placed himself opposite her, and sought to
attract her attention by a number of little arts, surveying her, as he
did so, with a very impudent and offensive stare. With this person--who
was no other than Mr. Kneebone--she was too well acquainted; having,
more than once, been obliged to repel his advances; and, though his
impertinence would have given her little concern at another season, it
now added considerably to her distraction. But a far greater affliction
was in store for her.

Just as the clergyman approached the altar, she perceived a boy steal
quickly into the church, and ensconce himself behind the woollen-draper,
who, in order to carry on his amatory pursuits with greater convenience,
and at the same time display his figure (of which he was not a little
vain) to the utmost advantage, preferred a standing to a sitting
posture. Of this boy she had only caught a glimpse;--but that glimpse
was sufficient to satisfy her it was her son,--and, if she could have
questioned her own instinctive love, she could not question her
antipathy, when she beheld, partly concealed by a pillar immediately in
the rear of the woollen-draper, the dark figure and truculent features
of Jonathan Wild. As she looked in this direction, the thief-taker
raised his eyes--those gray, blood-thirsty eyes!--their glare froze the
life-blood in her veins.

As she averted her gaze, a terrible idea crossed her. Why was he there?
why did the tempter dare to invade that sacred spot! She could not
answer her own questions, but vague fearful suspicions passed through
her mind. Meanwhile, the service proceeded; and the awful command,
"_Thou shalt not steal_!" was solemnly uttered by the preacher, when
Mrs. Sheppard, who had again looked round towards her son, beheld a hand
glance along the side of the woollen-draper. She could not see what
occurred, though she guessed it; but she saw Jonathan's devilish
triumphing glance, and read in it,--"Your son has committed a
robbery--here--in these holy walls--he is mine--mine for ever!"

She uttered a loud scream, and fainted.




CHAPTER XVI.

Jonathan Wild's House in the Old Bailey.


Just as St. Sepulchre's church struck one, on the eventful night of the
10th of June, (to which it will not be necessary to recur,) a horseman,
mounted on a powerful charger, and followed at a respectful distance by
an attendant, galloped into the open space fronting Newgate, and
directed his course towards a house in the Old Bailey. Before he could
draw in the rein, his steed--startled apparently by some object
undistinguishable by the rider,--swerved with such suddenness as to
unseat him, and precipitate him on the ground. The next moment, however,
he was picked up, and set upon his feet by a person who, having
witnessed the accident, flew across the road to his assistance.

"You're not hurt I hope, Sir Rowland?" inquired this individual.

"Not materially, Mr. Wild," replied the other, "a little shaken, that's
all. Curses light on the horse!" he added, seizing the bridle of his
steed, who continued snorting and shivering, as if still under the
influence of some unaccountable alarm; "what can ail him?"

"_I_ know what ails him, your honour," rejoined the groom, riding up as
he spoke; "he's seen somethin' not o' this world."

"Most likely," observed Jonathan, with a slight sneer; "the ghost of
some highwayman who has just breathed his last in Newgate, no doubt."

"May be," returned the man gravely.

"Take him home, Saunders," said Sir Rowland, resigning his faulty steed
to the attendant's care, "I shall not require you further. Strange!" he
added, as the groom departed; "Bay Stuart has carried me through a
hundred dangers, but never played me such a trick before."

"And never should again, were he mine," rejoined Jonathan. "If the best
nag ever foaled were to throw me in this unlucky spot, I'd blow his
brains out."

"What do you mean, Sir?" asked Trenchard.

"A fall against Newgate is accounted a sign of death by the halter,"
replied Wild, with ill-disguised malignity.

"Tush!" exclaimed Sir Rowland, angrily.

"From that door," continued the thief-taker, pointing to the gloomy
portal of the prison opposite which they were standing, "the condemned
are taken to Tyburn. It's a bad omen to be thrown near that door."

"I didn't suspect you of so much superstition, Mr. Wild," observed the
knight, contemptuously.

"Facts convince the most incredulous," answered Jonathan, drily. "I've
known several cases where the ignominious doom I've mentioned has been
foretold by such an accident as has just befallen you. There was Major
Price--you must recollect him, Sir Rowland,--he stumbled as he was
getting out of his chair at that very gate. Well, _he_ was executed for
murder. Then there was Tom Jarrot, the hackney-coachman, who was pitched
off the box against yonder curbstone, and broke his leg. It was a pity
he didn't break his neck, for he was hanged within the year. Another
instance was that of Toby Tanner--"

"No more of this," interrupted Trenchard; "where is the boy?"

"Not far hence," replied Wild. "After all our pains we were near losing
him, Sir Rowland."

"How so?" asked the other, distrustfully.

"You shall hear," returned Jonathan. "With the help of his comrade, Jack
Sheppard, the young rascal made a bold push to get out of the
round-house, where my janizaries had lodged him, and would have
succeeded too, if, by good luck,--for the devil never deserts so useful
an agent as I am, Sir Rowland,--I hadn't arrived in time to prevent
him. As it was, my oldest and trustiest setter, Abraham Mendez, received
a blow on the head from one of the lads that will deprive me of his
services for a week to come,--if, indeed it does not disable him
altogether. However, if I've lost one servant, I've gained another,
that's one comfort. Jack Sheppard is now wholly in my hands."

"What is this to me, Sir?" said Trenchard, cutting him short.

"Nothing whatever," rejoined the thief-taker, coldly. "But it is much to
me. Jack Sheppard is to me what Thames Darrell is to you--an object of
hatred. I owed his father a grudge: that I settled long ago. I owe his
mother one, and will repay the debt, with interest, to her son. I could
make away with him at once, as you are about to make away with your
nephew, Sir Rowland,--but that wouldn't serve my turn. To be complete,
my vengeance must be tardy. Certain of my prey, I can afford to wait for
it. Besides, revenge is sweetened by delay; and I indulge too freely in
the passion to rob it of any of its zest. I've watched this lad--this
Sheppard--from infancy; and, though I have apparently concerned myself
little about him, I have never lost sight of my purpose. I have suffered
him to be brought up decently--honestly; because I would make his fall
the greater, and deepen the wound I meant to inflict upon his mother.
From this night I shall pursue a different course; from this night his
ruin may be dated. He is in the care of those who will not leave
the task assigned to them--the utter perversion of his
principles--half-finished. And when I have steeped him to the lips in
vice and depravity; when I have led him to the commission of every
crime; when there is neither retreat nor advance for him; when he has
plundered his benefactor, and broken the heart of his mother--then--but
not till then, I will consign him to the fate to which I consigned his
father. This I have sworn to do--this I will do."

"Not unless your skull's bullet-proof," cried a voice at his elbow; and,
as the words were uttered, a pistol was snapped at his head,
which,--fortunately or unfortunately, as the reader pleases,--only burnt
the priming. The blaze, however, was sufficient to reveal to the
thief-taker the features of his intended assassin. They were those of
the Irish watchman.

"Ah! Terry O'Flaherty!" vociferated Jonathan, in a tone that betrayed
hot the slightest discomposure. "Ah! Terry O'Flaherty!" he cried,
shouting after the Irishman, who took to his heels as soon as he found
his murderous attempt unsuccessful; "you may run, but you'll not get out
of my reach. I'll put a brace of dogs on your track, who'll soon hunt
you down. You shall swing for this after next sessions, or my name's not
Jonathan Wild. I told you, Sir Rowland," he added, turning to the
knight, and chuckling, "the devil never deserts me."

"Conduct me to your dwelling, Sir, without further delay," said
Trenchard, sternly,--"to the boy."

"The boy's not at my house," replied Wild.

"Where is he, then?" demanded the other, hastily.

"At a place we call the Dark House at Queenhithe," answered Jonathan, "a
sort of under-ground tavern or night-cellar, close to the river-side,
and frequented by the crew of the Dutch skipper, to whose care he's to
be committed. You need have no apprehensions about him, Sir Rowland.
He's safe enough now. I left him in charge of Quilt Arnold and Rykhart
Van Galgebrok--the skipper I spoke of--with strict orders to shoot him
if he made any further attempt at escape; and they're not lads--the
latter especially--to be trifled with. I deemed it more prudent to send
him to the Dark House than to bring him here, in case of any search
after him by his adoptive father--the carpenter Wood. If you choose, you
can see him put on board the Zeeslang yourself, Sir Rowland. But,
perhaps, you'll first accompany me to my dwelling for a moment, that we
may arrange our accounts before we start. I've a few necessary
directions to leave with my people, to put 'em on their guard against
the chance of a surprise. Suffer me to precede you. This way, Sir
Rowland."

The thief-taker's residence was a large dismal-looking, habitation,
separated from the street by a flagged court-yard, and defended from
general approach by an iron railing. Even in the daylight, it had a
sombre and suspicious air, and seemed to slink back from the adjoining
houses, as if afraid of their society. In the obscurity in which it was
now seen, it looked like a prison, and, indeed, it was Jonathan's fancy
to make it resemble one as much as possible. The windows were grated,
the doors barred; each room had the name as well as the appearance of a
cell; and the very porter who stood at the gate, habited like a jailer,
with his huge bunch of keys at his girdle, his forbidding countenance
and surly demeanour seemed to be borrowed from Newgate. The clanking of
chains, the grating of locks, and the rumbling of bolts must have been
music in Jonathan's ears, so much pains did he take to subject himself
to such sounds. The scanty furniture of the rooms corresponded with
their dungeon-like aspect. The walls were bare, and painted in
stone-colour; the floors, devoid of carpet; the beds, of hangings; the
windows, of blinds; and, excepting in the thief-taker's own
audience-chamber, there was not a chair or a table about the premises;
the place of these conveniences being elsewhere supplied by benches, and
deal-boards laid across joint-stools. Great stone staircases leading no
one knew whither, and long gloomy passages, impressed the occasional
visitor with the idea that he was traversing a building of vast extent;
and, though this was not the case in reality, the deception was so
cleverly contrived that it seldom failed of producing the intended
effect. Scarcely any one entered Mr. Wild's dwelling without
apprehension, or quitted it without satisfaction. More strange stories
were told of it than of any other house in London. The garrets were said
to be tenanted by coiners, and artists employed in altering watches and
jewelry; the cellars to be used as a magazine for stolen goods. By some
it was affirmed that a subterranean communication existed between the
thief-taker's abode and Newgate, by means of which he was enabled to
maintain a secret correspondence with the imprisoned felons: by others,
that an under-ground passage led to extensive vaults, where such
malefactors as he chose to screen from justice might lie concealed till
the danger was blown over. Nothing, in short, was too extravagant to be
related of it; and Jonathan, who delighted in investing himself and his
residence with mystery, encouraged, and perhaps originated, these
marvellous tales. However this may be, such was the ill report of the
place that few passed along the Old Bailey without bestowing a glance of
fearful curiosity at its dingy walls, and wondering what was going on
inside them; while fewer still, of those who paused at the door, read,
without some internal trepidation, the formidable name--inscribed in
large letters on its bright brass-plate--of JONATHAN WILD.

Arrived at his habitation, Jonathan knocked in a peculiar manner at the
door, which was instantly opened by the grim-visaged porter just alluded
to. No sooner had Trenchard crossed the threshold than a fierce barking
was heard at the farther extremity of the passage, and, the next moment,
a couple of mastiffs of the largest size rushed furiously towards him.
The knight stood upon his defence; but he would unquestionably have been
torn in pieces by the savage hounds, if a shower of oaths, seconded by a
vigorous application of kicks and blows from their master, had not
driven them growling off. Apologizing to Sir Rowland for this unpleasant
reception, and swearing lustily at his servant for occasioning it by
leaving the dogs at liberty, Jonathan ordered the man to light them to
the audience-room. The command was sullenly obeyed, for the fellow did
not appear to relish the rating. Ascending the stairs, and conducting
them along a sombre gallery, in which Trenchard noticed that every door
was painted black, and numbered, he stopped at the entrance of a
chamber; and, selecting a key from the bunch at his girdle, unlocked it.
Following his guide, Sir Rowland found himself in a large and lofty
apartment, the extent of which he could not entirely discern until
lights were set upon the table. He then looked around him with some
curiosity; and, as the thief-taker was occupied in giving directions to
his attendant in an undertone, ample leisure was allowed him for
investigation. At the first glance, he imagined he must have stumbled
upon a museum of rarities, there were so many glass-cases, so many open
cabinets, ranged against the walls; but the next convinced him that if
Jonathan was a virtuoso, his tastes did not run in the ordinary
channels. Trenchard was tempted to examine the contents of some of these
cases, but a closer inspection made him recoil from them in disgust. In
the one he approached was gathered together a vast assortment of
weapons, each of which, as appeared from the ticket attached to it, had
been used as an instrument of destruction. On this side was a razor with
which a son had murdered his father; the blade notched, the haft crusted
with blood: on that, a bar of iron, bent, and partly broken, with which
a husband had beaten out his wife's brains. As it is not, however, our
intention to furnish a complete catalogue of these curiosities, we shall
merely mention that in front of them lay a large and sharp knife, once
the property of the public executioner, and used by him to dissever the
limbs of those condemned to death for high-treason; together with an
immense two-pronged flesh-fork, likewise employed by the same terrible
functionary to plunge the quarters of his victims in the caldrons of
boiling tar and oil. Every gibbet at Tyburn and Hounslow appeared to
have been plundered of its charnel spoil to enrich the adjoining
cabinet, so well was it stored with skulls and bones, all purporting to
be the relics of highwaymen famous in their day. Halters, each of which
had fulfilled its destiny, formed the attraction of the next
compartment; while a fourth was occupied by an array of implements of
housebreaking almost innumerable, and utterly indescribable. All these
interesting objects were carefully arranged, classed, and, as we have
said, labelled by the thief-taker. From this singular collection
Trenchard turned to regard its possessor, who was standing at a little
distance from him, still engaged in earnest discourse with his
attendant, and, as he contemplated his ruthless countenance, on which
duplicity and malignity had set their strongest seals, he could not help
calling to mind all he had heard of Jonathan's perfidiousness to his
employers, and deeply regretting that he had placed himself in the power
of so unscrupulous a miscreant.

Jonathan Wild, at this time, was on the high-road to the greatness which
he subsequently, and not long afterwards, obtained. He was fast rising
to an eminence that no one of his nefarious profession ever reached
before him, nor, it is to be hoped, will ever reach again. He was the
Napoleon of knavery, and established an uncontrolled empire over all the
practitioners of crime. This was no light conquest; nor was it a
government easily maintained. Resolution, severity, subtlety, were
required for it; and these were qualities which Jonathan possessed in an
extraordinary degree. The danger or difficulty of an exploit never
appalled him. What his head conceived his hand executed. Professing to
stand between the robber and the robbed, he himself plundered both. He
it was who formed the grand design of a robber corporation, of which he
should be the sole head and director, with the right of delivering those
who concealed their booty, or refused to share it with him, to the
gallows. He divided London into districts; appointed a gang to each
district; and a leader to each gang, whom he held responsible to
himself. The country was partitioned in a similar manner. Those whom he
retained about his person, or placed in offices of trust, were for the
most part convicted felons, who, having returned from transportation
before their term had expired, constituted, in his opinion, the safest
agents, inasmuch as they could neither be legal evidences against him,
nor withhold any portion of the spoil of which he chose to deprive them.
But the crowning glory of Jonathan, that which raised him above all his
predecessors in iniquity, and clothed this name with undying
notoriety--was to come. When in the plenitude of his power, he commenced
a terrible trade, till then unknown--namely, a traffic in human blood.
This he carried on by procuring witnesses to swear away the lives of
those persons who had incurred his displeasure, or whom it might be
necessary to remove.

No wonder that Trenchard, as he gazed at this fearful being, should have
some misgivings cross him.

Apparently, Jonathan perceived he was an object of scrutiny; for,
hastily dismissing his attendant, he walked towards the knight.

"So, you're admiring my cabinet, Sir Rowland," he remarked, with a
sinister smile; "it _is_ generally admired; and, sometimes by parties
who afterwards contribute to the collection themselves,--ha! ha! This
skull," he added, pointing to a fragment of mortality in the case beside
them, "once belonged to Tom Sheppard, the father of the lad I spoke of
just now. In the next box hangs the rope by which he suffered. When I've
placed another skull and another halter beside them, I shall be
contented."

"To business, Sir!" said the knight, with a look of abhorrence.

"Ay, to business," returned Jonathan, grinning, "the sooner the better."

"Here is the sum you bargained for," rejoined Trenchard, flinging a
pocket-book on the table; "count it."

Jonathan's eyes glistened as he told over the notes.

"You've given me more than the amount, Sir Rowland," he said, after he
had twice counted them, "or I've missed my reckoning. There's a hundred
pounds too much."

"Keep it," said Trenchard, haughtily.

"I'll place it to your account, Sir Rowland," answered the thief-taker,
smiling significantly. "And now, shall we proceed to Queenhithe?"

"Stay!" cried the other, taking a chair, "a word with you, Mr. Wild."

"As many as you please, Sir Rowland," replied Jonathan, resuming his
seat. "I'm quite at your disposal."

"I have a question to propose to you," said Trenchard, "relating to--"
and he hesitated.

"Relating to the father of the boy--Thames Darrell," supplied Jonathan.
"I guessed what was coming. You desire to know who he was, Sir Rowland.
Well, you _shall_ know."

"Without further fee?" inquired the knight.

"Not exactly," answered Jonathan, drily. "A secret is too valuable a
commodity to be thrown away. But I said I wouldn't drive a hard bargain
with you, and I won't. We are alone, Sir Rowland," he added, snuffing
the candles, glancing cautiously around, and lowering his tone, "and
what you confide to me shall never transpire,--at least to your
disadvantage."

"I am at a loss to understand you Sir,", said Trenchard.

"I'll make myself intelligible before I've done," rejoined Wild. "I need
not remind you, Sir Rowland, that I am aware you are deeply implicated
in the Jacobite plot which is now known to be hatching."

"Ha!" ejaculated the other.

"Of course, therefore," pursued Jonathan, "you are acquainted with all
the leaders of the proposed insurrection,--nay, must be in
correspondence with them."

"What right have you to suppose this, Sir?" demanded Trenchard, sternly.

"Have a moment's patience, Sir Rowland," returned Wild; "and you shall
hear. If you will furnish me with a list of these rebels, and with
proofs of their treason, I will not only insure your safety, but will
acquaint you with the real name and rank of your sister Aliva's husband,
as well as with some particulars which will never otherwise reach your
ears, concerning your lost sister, Constance."

"My sister Constance!" echoed the knight; "what of her?"

"You agree to my proposal, then?" said Jonathan.

"Do you take me for as great a villain as yourself, Sir?" said the
knight, rising.

"I took you for one who wouldn't hesitate to avail himself of any
advantage chance might throw in his way," returned the thief-taker,
coldly. "I find I was in error. No matter. A time _may_ come,--and that
ere long,--when you will be glad to purchase my secrets, and your own
safety, at a dearer price than the heads of your companions."

"Are you ready?" said Trenchard, striding towards the door.

"I am," replied Jonathan, following him, "and so," he added in an
undertone, "are your captors."

A moment afterwards, they quitted the house.




CHAPTER XVII.

The Night-Cellar.


After a few minutes' rapid walking, during which neither party uttered a
word, Jonathan Wild and his companion had passed Saint Paul's, dived
down a thoroughfare on the right, and reached Thames Street.

At the period of this history, the main streets of the metropolis were
but imperfectly lighted, while the less-frequented avenues were left in
total obscurity; but, even at the present time, the maze of courts and
alleys into which Wild now plunged, would have perplexed any one, not
familiar with their intricacies, to thread them on a dark night.
Jonathan, however, was well acquainted with the road. Indeed, it was his
boast that he could find his way through any part of London blindfolded;
and by this time, it would seem, he had nearly arrived at his
destination; for, grasping his companion's arm, he led him along a
narrow entry which did not appear to have an outlet, and came to a halt.
Cautioning the knight, if he valued his neck, to tread carefully,
Jonathan then descended a steep flight of steps; and, having reached the
bottom in safety, he pushed open a door, that swung back on its hinges
as soon as it had admitted him; and, followed by Trenchard, entered the
night-cellar.

The vault, in which Sir Rowland found himself, resembled in some measure
the cabin of a ship. It was long and narrow, with a ceiling supported
by huge uncovered rafters, and so low as scarcely to allow a tall man
like himself to stand erect beneath it. Notwithstanding the heat of the
season,--which was not, however, found particularly inconvenient in this
subterranean region,--a large heaped-up fire blazed ruddily in one
corner, and lighted up a circle of as villanous countenances as ever
flame shone upon.

The guests congregated within the night-cellar were, in fact, little
better than thieves; but thieves who confined their depredations almost
exclusively to the vessels lying in the pool and docks of the river.
They had as many designations as grades. There were game watermen and
game lightermen, heavy horsemen and light horsemen, scuffle-hunters, and
long-apron men, lumpers, journeymen coopers, mud-larks, badgers, and
ratcatchers--a race of dangerous vermin recently, in a great measure,
extirpated by the vigilance of the Thames Police, but at this period
flourishing in vast numbers. Besides these plunderers, there were others
with whom the disposal of their pillage necessarily brought them into
contact, and who seldom failed to attend them during their hours of
relaxation and festivity;--to wit, dealers in junk, old rags, and marine
stores, purchasers of prize-money, crimps, and Jew receivers. The latter
formed by far the most knavish-looking and unprepossessing portion of
the assemblage. One or two of the tables were occupied by groups of fat
frowzy women in flat caps, with rings on their thumbs, and baskets by
their sides; and no one who had listened for a single moment to their
coarse language and violent abuse of each other, would require to be
told they were fish-wives from Billingsgate.

The present divinity of the cellar was a comely middle-aged dame, almost
as stout, and quite as shrill-voiced, as the Billingsgate fish-wives
above-mentioned, Mrs. Spurling, for so was she named, had a warm
nut-brown complexion, almost as dark as a Creole; and a moustache on her
upper lip, that would have done no discredit to the oldest dragoon in
the King's service. This lady was singularly lucky in her matrimonial
connections. She had been married four times: three of her husbands died
of hempen fevers; and the fourth, having been twice condemned, was saved
from the noose by Jonathan Wild, who not only managed to bring him off,
but to obtain for him the situation of under-turnkey in Newgate.

On the appearance of the thief-taker, Mrs. Spurling was standing near
the fire superintending some culinary preparation; but she no sooner
perceived him, than hastily quitting her occupation, she elbowed a way
for him and the knight through the crowd, and ushered them, with much
ceremony, into an inner room, where they found the objects of their
search, Quilt Arnold and Rykhart Van Galgebrok, seated at a small table,
quietly smoking. This service rendered, without waiting for any farther
order, she withdrew.

Both the janizary and the skipper arose as the others entered the room.

"This is the gentleman," observed Jonathan, introducing Trenchard to the
Hollander, "who is about to intrust his young relation to your care."

"De gentleman may rely on my showing his relation all de attention in my
power," replied Van Galgebrok, bowing profoundly to the knight; "but if
any unforseen accident--such as a slip overboard--should befal de jonker
on de voyage, he mushn't lay de fault entirely on my shoulders--haw!
haw!"

"Where is he?" asked Sir Rowland, glancing uneasily around. "I do not
see him."

"De jonker. He's here," returned the skipper, pointing significantly
downwards. "Bring him out, Quilt."

So saying, he pushed aside the table, and the janizary stooping down,
undrew a bolt and opened a trap-door.

"Come out!" roared Quilt, looking into the aperture. "You're wanted."

But as no answer was returned, he trust his arm up to the shoulder into
the hole, and with some little difficulty and exertion of strength, drew
forth Thames Darrell.

The poor boy, whose hands were pinioned behind him, looked very pale,
but neither trembled, nor exhibited any other symptom of alarm.

"Why didn't you come out when I called you, you young dog?" cried Quilt
in a savage tone.

"Because I knew what you wanted me for!" answered Thames firmly.

"Oh! you did, did you?" said the janizary. "And what do you suppose we
mean to do with you, eh?"

"You mean to kill me," replied Thames, "by my cruel uncle's command. Ah!
there he stands!" he exclaimed as his eye fell for the first time upon
Sir Rowland. "Where is my mother?" he added, regarding the knight with a
searching glance.

"Your mother is dead," interposed Wild, scowling.

"Dead!" echoed the boy. "Oh no--no! You say this to terrify me--to try
me. But I will not believe you. Inhuman as he is, he would not kill her.
Tell me, Sir," he added, advancing towards the knight, "tell me has this
man spoken falsely?--Tell me my mother is alive, and do what you please
with me."

"Tell him so, and have done with him, Sir Rowland," observed Jonathan
coldly.

"Tell me the truth, I implore you," cried Thames. "Is she alive?"

"She is not," replied Trenchard, overcome by conflicting emotions, and
unable to endure the boy's agonized look.

"Are you answered?" said Jonathan, with a grin worthy of a demon.

"My mother!--my poor mother!" ejaculated Thames, falling on his knees,
and bursting into tears. "Shall I never see that sweet face
again,--never feel the pressure of those kind hands more--nor listen to
that gentle voice! Ah! yes, we shall meet again in Heaven, where I shall
speedily join you. Now then," he added more calmly, "I am ready to die.
The only mercy you can show me is to kill me."

"Then we won't even show you that mercy," retorted the thief-taker
brutally. "So get up, and leave off whimpering. Your time isn't come
yet."

"Mr. Wild," said Trenchard, "I shall proceed no further in this
business. Set the boy free."

"If I disobey you, Sir Rowland," replied the thief-taker, "you'll thank
me for it hereafter. Gag him," he added, pushing Thames rudely toward
Quilt Arnold, "and convey him to the boat."

"A word," cried the boy, as the janizary was preparing to obey his
master's orders. "What has become of Jack Sheppard?"

"Devil knows!" answered Quilt; "but I believe he's in the hands of
Blueskin, so there's no doubt he'll soon be on the high-road to Tyburn."

"Poor Jack!" sighed Thames. "You needn't gag me," he added, "I'll not
cry out."

"We won't trust you, my youngster," answered the janizary. And,
thrusting a piece of iron into his mouth, he forced him out of the room.

Sir Rowland witnessed these proceedings like one stupified. He neither
attempted to prevent his nephew's departure, nor to follow him.

Jonathan kept his keen eye fixed upon him, as he addressed himself for a
moment to the Hollander.

"Is the case of watches on board?" he asked in an under tone.

"Ja," replied the skipper.

"And the rings?"

"Ja."

"That's well. You must dispose of the goldsmith's note I gave you
yesterday, as soon as you arrive at Rotterdam. It'll be advertised
to-morrow."

"De duivel!" exclaimed Van Galgebrok, "Very well. It shall be done as
you direct. But about dat jonker," he continued, lowering his voice;
"have you anything to add consarnin' him? It's almosht a pity to put him
onder de water."

"Is the sloop ready to sail?" asked Wild, without noticing the skipper's
remark.

"Ja," answered Van; "at a minut's nodish."

"Here are your despatches," said Jonathan with a significant look, and
giving him a sealed packet. "Open them when you get on board--not
before, and act as they direct you."

"I ondershtand," replied the skipper, putting his finger to his nose;
"it shall be done."

"Sir Rowland," said Jonathan, turning to the knight, "will it please you
to remain here till I return, or will you accompany us?"

"I will go with you," answered Trenchard, who, by this time, had
regained his composure, and with it all his relentlessness of purpose.

"Come, then," said Wild, marching towards the door, "we've no time to
lose."

Quitting the night-cellar, the trio soon arrived at the riverside. Quilt
Arnold was stationed at the stair-head, near which the boat containing
the captive boy was moored. A few words passed between him and the
thief-taker as the latter came up; after which, all the party--with the
exception of Quilt, who was left on shore--embarked within the wherry,
which was pushed from the strand and rowed swiftly along the stream--for
the tide was in its favour--by a couple of watermen. Though scarcely two
hours past midnight, it was perfectly light. The moon had arisen, and
everything could be as plainly distinguished as during the day. A thin
mist lay on the river, giving the few craft moving about in it a ghostly
look. As they approached London Bridge, the thief-taker whispered Van
Galgebrok, who acted as steersman, to make for a particular arch--near
the Surrey shore. The skipper obeyed, and in another moment, they swept
through the narrow lock. While the watermen were contending with the
eddies occasioned by the fall below the bridge, Jonathan observed a
perceptible shudder run through Trenchard's frame.

"You remember that starling, Sir Rowland," he said maliciously, "and
what occurred on it, twelve years ago?"

"Too well," answered the knight, frowning. "Ah! what is that?" he cried,
pointing to a dark object floating near them amid the boiling waves, and
which presented a frightful resemblance to a human face.

"We'll see," returned the thief-taker. And, stretching out his hand, he
lifted the dark object from the flood.

It proved to be a human head, though with scarcely a vestige of the
features remaining. Here and there, patches of flesh adhered to the
bones, and the dank dripping hair hanging about what had once been the
face, gave it a ghastly appearance.

"It's the skull of a _rebel_," said Jonathan, with marked emphasis on
the word, "blown by the wind from a spike on the bridge above us. I
don't know whose brainless head it may be, but it'll do for my
collection." And he tossed it carelessly into the bottom of the boat.

After this occurence, not a word was exchanged between them until they
came in sight of the sloop, which was lying at anchor off Wapping.
Arrived at her side, it was soon evident, from the throng of seamen in
Dutch dresses that displayed themselves, that her crew were on the
alert, and a rope having been thrown down to the skipper, he speedily
hoisted himself on deck. Preparations were next made for taking Thames
on board. Raising him in his arms, Jonathan passed the rope round his
body, and in this way the poor boy was drawn up without difficulty.

While he was swinging in mid air, Thames regarded his uncle with a stern
look, and cried in a menacing voice, "We shall meet again."

"Not in this world," returned Jonathan. "Weigh anchor, Van!" he shouted
to the skipper, "and consult your despatches."

"Ja--ja," returned the Hollander. And catching hold of Thames, he
quitted the deck.

Shortly afterwards, he re-appeared with the information that the captive
was safe below; and giving the necessary directions to his crew, before
many minutes had elapsed, the Zeeslang spread her canvass to the first
breeze of morning.

By the thief-taker's command, the boat was then rowed toward a muddy
inlet, which has received in more recent times the name of Execution
Dock. As soon as she reached this spot, Wild sprang ashore, and was
joined by several persons,--among whom was Quilt Arnold, leading a
horse by the bridle,--he hastened down the stairs to meet him. A coach
was also in attendance, at a little distance.

Sir Rowland, who had continued absorbed in thought, with his eyes fixed
upon the sloop, as she made her way slowly down the river, disembarked
more leisurely.

"At length I am my own master," murmured the knight, as his foot touched
the strand.

"Not so, Sir Rowland," returned Jonathan; "you are my prisoner."

"How!" ejaculated Trenchard, starting back and drawing his sword.

"You are arrested for high treason," rejoined Wild, presenting a pistol
at his head, while he drew forth a parchment,--"here is my warrant."

"Traitor!" cried Sir Rowland--"damned--double-dyed traitor!"

"Away with him," vociferated Jonathan to his myrmidons, who, having
surrounded Trenchard, hurried him off to the coach before he could utter
another word,--"first to Mr. Walpole, and then to Newgate. And now,
Quilt," he continued, addressing the janizary, who approached him with
the horse, "fly to St. Giles's round-house, and if, through the agency
of that treacherous scoundrel, Terry O'Flaherty, whom I've put in my
Black List, old Wood should have found his way there, and have been
detained by Sharpies as I directed, you may release him. I don't care
how soon he learns that he has lost his adopted son. When I've escorted
you proud fool to his new quarters, I'll proceed to the Mint and look
after Jack Sheppard."

With this, he mounted his steed and rode off.




CHAPTER XVIII.

How Jack Sheppard broke out of the Cage at Willesden.


The heart-piercing scream uttered by Mrs. Sheppard after the commission
of the robbery in Willesden church was productive of unfortunate
consequences to her son. Luckily, she was bereft of consciousness, and
was thus spared the additional misery of witnessing what afterwards
befell him. Startled by the cry, as may be supposed, the attention of
the whole congregation was drawn towards the quarter whence it
proceeded. Amongst others, a person near the door, roused by the shriek,
observed a man make his exit with the utmost precipitation. A boy
attempted to follow; but as the suspicions of the lookers-on were roused
by the previous circumstances, the younger fugitive was seized and
detained. Meanwhile, Mr. Kneebone, having been alarmed by something in
the widow's look before her feelings found vent in the manner above
described, thrust his hand instinctively into his coat in search of his
pocket-book,--about the security of which, as it contained several
letters and documents implicating himself and others in the Jacobite
plot, he was, not unnaturally, solicitous,--and finding it gone, he felt
certain he had been robbed. Turning quickly round, in the hope of
discovering the thief, he was no less surprised than distressed--for in
spite of his faults, the woollen-draper was a good-natured fellow--to
perceive Jack Sheppard in custody. The truth at once flashed across his
mind. This, then, was the cause of the widow's wild inexplicable
look,--of her sudden shriek! Explaining his suspicious in a whisper to
Jack's captor, who proved to be a church-warden and a constable, by name
John Dump,--Mr. Kneebone begged him to take the prisoner into the
churchyard. Dump instantly complied, and as soon as Jack was removed
from the sacred edifice, his person was searched from head to foot--but
without success. Jack submitted to this scrutiny with a very bad grace,
and vehemently protested his innocence. In vain did the woollen-draper
offer to set him free if he would restore the stolen article, or give up
his associate, to whom it was supposed he might have handed it. He
answered with the greatest assurance, that he knew nothing whatever of
the matter--had seen no pocket-book, and no associate to give up. Nor
did he content himself with declaring his guiltlessness of the crime
imputed to him, but began in his turn to menace his captor and accuser,
loading the latter with the bitterest upbraidings. By this time, the
churchyard was crowded with spectators, some of whom dispersed in
different directions in quest of the other robber. But all that could be
ascertained in the village was, that a man had ridden off a short time
before in the direction of London. Of this man Kneebone resolved to go
in pursuit; and leaving Jack in charge of the constable, he proceeded to
the small inn,--which bore then, as it bears now, the name of the Six
Bells,--where, summoning the hostler, his steed was instantly brought
him, and, springing on its back, he rode away at full speed.

Meanwhile, after a consultation between Mr. Dump and the village
authorities, it was agreed to lock up the prisoner in the cage. As he
was conveyed thither, an incident occurred that produced a considerable
impression on the feelings of the youthful offender. Just as they
reached the eastern outlet of the churchyard--where the tall elms cast a
pleasant shade over the rustic graves--a momentary stoppage took place.
At this gate two paths meet. Down that on the right the young culprit
was dragged--along that on the left a fainting woman was borne in the
arms of several females. It was his mother, and as he gazed on her
pallid features and motionless frame, Jack's heart severely smote him.
He urged his conductors to a quicker pace to get out of sight of the
distressing spectacle, and even felt relieved when he was shut out from
it and the execrations of the mob by the walls of the little prison.

The cage at Willesden was, and is--for it is still standing--a small
round building about eight feet high, with a pointed tiled roof, to
which a number of boards, inscribed with the names of the parish
officers, and charged with a multitude of admonitory notices to vagrants
and other disorderly persons, are attached. Over these boards the two
arms of a guide-post serve to direct the way-farer--on the right hand to
the neighbouring villages of Neasdon and Kingsbury, and on the left to
the Edgeware Road and the healthy heights of Hampstead. The cage has a
strong door, with an iron grating at the top, and further secured by a
stout bolt and padlock. It is picturesquely situated beneath a tree on
the high road, not far from the little hostel before mentioned, and at
no great distance from the church.

For some time after he was locked up in this prison Jack continued in a
very dejected state. Deserted by his older companion in iniquity, and
instigator to crime, he did not know what might become of him; nor, as
we have observed, was the sad spectacle he had just witnessed, without
effect. Though within the last two days he had committed several heinous
offences, and one of a darker dye than any with which the reader has
been made acquainted, his breast was not yet so callous as to be wholly
insensible to the stings of conscience. Wearied at length with thinking
on the past, and terrified by the prospect of the future, he threw
himself on the straw with which the cage was littered, and endeavoured
to compose himself to slumber. When he awoke, it was late in the day;
but though he heard voices outside, and now and then caught a glimpse of
a face peeping at him through the iron grating over the door, no one
entered the prison, or held any communication with him. Feeling rather
exhausted, it occurred to him that possibly some provisions might have
been left by the constable; and, looking about, he perceived a pitcher
of water and a small brown loaf on the floor. He ate of the bread with
great appetite, and having drunk as much as he chose of the water,
poured the rest on the floor. His hunger satisfied, his spirits began to
revive, and with this change of mood all his natural audacity returned.
And here he was first visited by that genius which, in his subsequent
career, prompted him to so many bold and successful attempts. Glancing
around his prison, he began to think it possible he might effect an
escape from it. The door was too strong, and too well secured, to break
open,--the walls too thick: but the ceiling,--if he could reach
it--there, he doubted not, he could make an outlet. While he was
meditating flight in this way, and tossing about on the straw, he
chanced upon an old broken and rusty fork. Here was an instrument which
might be of the greatest service to him in accomplishing his design. He
put it carefully aside, resolved to defer the attempt till night. Time
wore on somewhat slowly with the prisoner, who had to control his
impatience in the best way he could; but as the shades of evening were
darkening, the door was unlocked, and Mr. Dump popped his head into the
cage. He brought another small loaf, and a can with which he replenished
the pitcher, recommending Jack to be careful, as he would get nothing
further till morning. To this Jack replied, that he should be perfectly
contented, provided he might have a small allowance of gin. The latter
request, though treated with supreme contempt by Mr. Dump, made an
impression on some one outside; for not long after the constable
departed, Jack heard a tap at the door, and getting up at the summons,
he perceived the tube of a pipe inserted between the bars. At once
divining the meaning of this ingenious device, he applied his mouth to
the tube, and sucked away, while the person outside poured spirit into
the bowl. Having drunk as much as he thought prudent, and thanked his
unknown friend for his attention, Jack again lay down on the straw, and
indulged himself with another nap, intending to get up as soon as it was
perfectly dark. The strong potation he had taken, combined with fatigue
and anxiety he had previously undergone, made him oversleep himself, and
when he awoke it was just beginning to grow light. Cursing himself for
his inertness, Jack soon shook off this drowsiness, and set to work in
earnest. Availing himself of certain inequalities in the door, he soon
managed to climb up to the roof; and securing his feet against a slight
projection in the wall, began to use the fork with great effect. Before
many minutes elapsed, he had picked a large hole in the plaster, which
showered down in a cloud of dust; and breaking off several laths, caught
hold of a beam, by which he held with one hand, until with the other he
succeeded, not without some difficulty, in forcing out one of the tiles.
The rest was easy. In a few minutes more he had made a breach in the
roof wide enough to allow him to pass through. Emerging from this
aperture, he was about to descend, when he was alarmed by hearing the
tramp of horses' feet swiftly approaching, and had only time to hide
himself behind one of the largest sign-boards before alluded to when two
horsemen rode up. Instead of passing on, as Jack expected, these persons
stopped opposite the cage, when one of them, as he judged from the
sound, for he did not dare to look out of his hiding place, dismounted.
A noise was next heard, as if some instrument were applied to the door
with the intent to force it open, and Jack's fears were at once
dispelled, At first, he had imagined they were officers of justice, come
to convey him to a stronger prison: but the voice of one of the parties,
which he recognised, convinced him they were his friends.

"Look quick, Blueskin, and be cursed to you!" was growled in the deep
tones of Jonathan Wild. "We shall have the whole village upon us while
you're striking the jigger. Use the gilt, man!"

"There's no need of picklock or crow-bar, here, Mr. Wild," cried Jack,
placing his hat on the right arm of the guide-post, and leaning over the
board, "I've done the trick myself."

"Why, what the devil's this?" vociferated Jonathan, looking up. "Have
you broken out of the cage, Jack?"

"Something like it," replied the lad carelessly.

"Bravo!" cried the thief-taker approvingly.

"Well, that beats all I ever heard of!" roared Blueskin.

"But are you really there?"

"No, I'm here," answered Jack, leaping down. "I tell you what, Mr.
Wild," he added, laughing, "it must be a stronger prison than Willesden
cage that can hold me."

"Ay, ay," observed Jonathan, "you'll give the keepers of his Majesty's
jails some trouble before you're many years older, I'll warrant you. But
get up behind, Blueskin. Some one may observe us."

"Come, jump up," cried Blueskin, mounting his steed, "and I'll soon wisk
you to town. Edgeworth Bess and Poll Maggot are dying to see you. I
thought Bess would have cried her pretty eyes out when she heard you was
nabbed. You need give yourself no more concern about Kneebone. Mr. Wild
has done his business."

"Ay--ay," laughed Jonathan. "The pocket-book you prigged contained the
letters I wanted. He's now in spring-ankle warehouse with Sir Rowland
Trenchard. So get up, and let's be off."

"Before I leave this place, I must see my mother."

"Nonsense," returned Jonathan gruffly. "Would you expose yourself to
fresh risk? If it hadn't been for her you wouldn't have been placed in
your late jeopardy."

"I don't care for that," replied Jack. "See her I _will_. Leave me
behind: I'm not afraid. I'll be at the Cross Shovels in the course of
the day."

"Nay, if you're bent upon this folly," observed Wild, who appeared to
have his own reasons for humouring the lad, "I shan't hinder you.
Blueskin will take care of the horses, and I'll go with you."

So saying, he dismounted; and flinging his bridle to his companion, and
ordering him to ride off to a little distance, he followed Jack, who had
quitted the main road, and struck into a narrow path opposite the cage.
This path, bordered on each side by high privet hedges of the most
beautiful green, soon brought them to a stile.

"There's the house," said Jack, pointing to a pretty cottage, the small
wooden porch of which was covered with roses and creepers, with a little
trim garden in front of it. "I'll be back in a minute."

"Don't hurry yourself," said Jonathan, "I'll wait for you here."




CHAPTER XIX.

Good and Evil.


As Jack opened the gate, and crossed the little garden, which exhibited
in every part the neatness and attention of its owner, he almost
trembled at the idea of further disturbing her peace of mind. Pausing
with the intention of turning back, he glanced in the direction of the
village church, the tower of which could just be seen through the trees.
The rooks were cawing amid the boughs, and all nature appeared awaking
to happiness. From this peaceful scene Jack's eye fell upon Jonathan,
who, seated upon the stile, under the shade of an elder tree, was
evidently watching him. A sarcastic smile seemed to play upon the
chief-taker's lips; and abashed at his own irresolution, the lad went
on.

After knocking for some time at the door without effect, he tried the
latch, and to his surprise found it open. He stepped in with a heavy
foreboding of calamity. A cat came and rubbed herself against him as he
entered the house, and seemed by her mewing to ask him for food. That
was the only sound he heard.

Jack was almost afraid of speaking; but at length he summoned courage to
call out "Mother!"

"Who's there?" asked a faint voice from the bed.

"Your son," answered the boy.

"Jack," exclaimed the widow, starting up and drawing back the curtain.
"Is it indeed you, or am I dreaming?"

"You're not dreaming, mother," he answered. "I'm come to say good bye to
you, and to assure you of my safety before I leave this place."

"Where are you going?" asked his mother.

"I hardly know," returned Jack; "but it's not safe for me to remain much
longer here."

"True," replied the widow, upon whom all the terrible recollections of
the day before crowded, "I know it isn't. I won't keep you long. But
tell me how have you escaped from the confinement in which you were
placed--come and sit by me--here--upon the bed--give me your hand--and
tell me all about it."

Her son complied, and sat down upon the patch-work coverlet beside her.

"Jack," said Mrs. Sheppard, clasping him with a hand that burnt with
fever, "I have been ill--dreadfully ill--I believe delirious--I thought
I should have died last night--I won't tell you what agony you have
caused me--I won't reproach you. Only promise me to amend--to quit your
vile companions--and I will forgive you--will bless you. Oh! my dear,
dear son, be warned in time. You are in the hands of a wicked, a
terrible man, who will not stop till he has completed your destruction.
Listen to your mother's prayers, and do not let her die broken-hearted."

"It is too late," returned Jack, sullenly; "I can't be honest if I
would."

"Oh! do not say so," replied his wretched parent. "It is never too late.
I know you are in Jonathan Wild's power, for I saw him near you in the
church; and if ever the enemy of mankind was permitted to take human
form, I beheld him then. Beware of him, my son! Beware of him! You know
not what villany he is capable of. Be honest, and you will be happy. You
are yet a child; and though you have strayed from the right path, a
stronger hand than your own has led you thence. Return, I implore of
you, to your master,--to Mr. Wood. Acknowledge your faults. He is all
kindness, and will overlook them for your poor father's sake--for mine.
Return to him, I say--"

"I can't," replied Jack, doggedly.

"Can't!" repeated his mother. "Why not?"

"_I'll_ tell you," cried a deep voice from the back of the bed. And
immediately afterwards the curtain was drawn aside, and disclosed the
Satanic countenance of Jonathan Wild, who had crept into the house
unperceived, "I'll tell you, why he can't go back to his master," cried
the thief-taker, with a malignant grin. "He has robbed him."

"Robbed him!" screamed the widow. "Jack!"

Her son averted his gaze.

"Ay, robbed him," reiterated Jonathan. "The night before last, Mr.
Wood's house was broken into and plundered. Your son was seen by the
carpenter's wife in company with the robbers. Here," he added, throwing
a handbill on the bed, "are the particulars of the burglary, with the
reward for Jack's apprehension."

"Ah!" ejaculated the widow, hiding her face.

"Come," said Wild, turning authoritatively to Jack,--"you have
overstayed your time."

"Do not go with him, Jack!" shrieked his mother. "Do not--do not!"

"He _must!_" thundered Jonathan, "or he goes to jail."

"If you must go to prison, I will go with you," cried Mrs. Sheppard:
"but avoid that man as you would a serpent."

"Come along," thundered Jonathan.

"Hear me, Jack!" shrieked his mother. "You know not what you do. The
wretch you confide in has sworn to hang you. As I hope for mercy, I
speak the truth!--let him deny it if he can."

"Pshaw!" said Wild. "I could hang him now if I liked. But he may remain
with you if he pleases: _I_ sha'n't hinder him."

"You hear, my son," said the widow eagerly. "Choose between good and
evil;--between him and me. And mind, your life,--more than your
life--hangs upon your choice."

"It does so," said Wild. "Choose, Jack."

The lad made no answer, but left the room.

"He is gone!" cried Mrs. Sheppard despairingly.

"For ever!" said the thief-taker, preparing to follow.

"Devil!" cried the widow, catching his arm, and gazing with frantic
eagerness in his face, "how many years will you give my son before you
execute your terrible threat?"

"NINE!" answered Jonathan sternly.


END OF THE SECOND EPOCH.







EPOCH THE THIRD.

1724

THE PRISON-BREAKER.







CHAPTER I.

The Return.


Nearly nine years after the events last recorded, and about the middle
of May, 1724, a young man of remarkably prepossessing appearance took
his way, one afternoon, along Wych Street; and, from the curiosity with
which he regarded the houses on the left of the road, seemed to be in
search of some particular habitation. The age of this individual could
not be more than twenty-one; his figure was tall, robust, and gracefully
proportioned; and his clear gray eye and open countenance bespoke a
frank, generous, and resolute nature. His features were regular, and
finely-formed; his complexion bright and blooming,--a little shaded,
however, by travel and exposure to the sun; and, with a praiseworthy
contempt for the universal and preposterous fashion then prevailing, of
substituting a peruke for the natural covering of the head, he allowed
his own dark-brown hair to fall over his shoulders in ringlets as
luxuriant as those that distinguished the court gallant in Charles the
Second's days--a fashion, which we do not despair of seeing revived in
our own days. He wore a French military undress of the period, with high
jack-boots, and a laced hat; and, though his attire indicated no
particular rank, he had completely the air of a person of distinction.
Such was the effect produced upon the passengers by his good looks and
manly deportment, that few--especially of the gentler and more
susceptible sex--failed to turn round and bestow a second glance upon
the handsome stranger. Unconscious of the interest he excited, and
entirely occupied by his own thoughts--which, if his bosom could have
been examined, would have been found composed of mingled hopes and
fears--the young man walked on till he came to an old house, with great
projecting bay windows on the first floor, and situated as nearly as
possible at the back of St. Clement's church. Here he halted; and,
looking upwards, read, at the foot of an immense sign-board, displaying
a gaudily-painted angel with expanded pinions and an olive-branch, not
the name he expected to find, but that of WILLIAM KNEEBONE,
WOOLLEN-DRAPER.

Tears started to the young man's eyes on beholding the change, and it
was with difficulty he could command himself sufficiently to make the
inquiries he desired to do respecting the former owner of the house. As
he entered the shop, a tall portly personage advanced to meet him, whom
he at once recognised as the present proprietor. Mr. Kneebone was
attired in the extremity of the mode. A full-curled wig descended
half-way down his back and shoulders; a neckcloth of "right Mechlin" was
twisted round his throat so tightly as almost to deprive him of breath,
and threaten him with apoplexy; he had lace, also, at his wrists and
bosom; gold clocks to his hose, and red heels to his shoes. A stiff,
formally-cut coat of cinnamon-coloured cloth, with rows of plate
buttons, each of the size of a crown piece, on the sleeves, pockets, and
skirts, reached the middle of his legs; and his costume was completed by
the silver-hilted sword at his side, and the laced hat under his left
arm.

Bowing to the stranger, the woollen-draper very politely requested to
know his business.

"I'm almost afraid to state it," faltered the other; "but, may I ask
whether Mr. Wood, the carpenter, who formerly resided here, is still
living?"

"If you feel any anxiety on his account, Sir, I'm happy to be able to
relieve it," answered Kneebone, readily. "My good friend, Owen
Wood,--Heaven preserve him!--_is_ still living. And, for a man who'll
never see sixty again, he's in excellent preservation, I assure you."

"You delight me with the intelligence," said the stranger, entirely
recovering his cheerfulness of look.

"I began to fear, from his having quitted the old place, that some
misfortune must have befallen him."

"Quite the contrary," rejoined the woollen-draper, laughing
good-humouredly. "Everything has prospered with him in an extraordinary
manner. His business has thriven; legacies have unexpectedly dropped
into his lap; and, to crown all, he has made a large fortune by a lucky
speculation in South-Sea stock,--made it, too, where so many others have
lost fortunes, your humble servant amongst the number--ha! ha! In a
word, Sir, Mr. Wood is now in very affluent circumstances. He stuck to
the shop as long as it was necessary, and longer, in my opinion. When he
left these premises, three years ago, I took them from him; or
rather--to deal frankly with you,--he placed me in them rent-free, for,
I'm not ashamed to confess it, I've had losses, and heavy ones; and, if
it hadn't been for him, I don't know where I should have been. Mr. Wood,
Sir," he added, with much emotion, "is one of the best of men, and would
be the happiest, were it not that--" and he hesitated.

"Well, Sir?" cried the other, eagerly.

"His wife is still living," returned Kneebone, drily.

"I understand," replied the stranger, unable to repress a smile. "But,
it strikes me, I've heard that Mrs. Wood was once a favourite of yours."

"So she was," replied the woollen-draper, helping himself to an enormous
pinch of snuff with the air of a man who does not dislike to be rallied
about his gallantry,--"so she was. But those days are over--quite over.
Since her husband has laid me under such a weight of obligation, I
couldn't, in honour, continue--hem!" and he took another explanatory
pinch. "Added to which, she is neither so young as she was, nor, is her
temper by any means improved--hem!"

"Say no more on the subject, Sir," observed the stranger, gravely; "but
let us turn to a more agreeable one--her daughter."

"That is a far more agreeable one, I must confess," returned Kneebone,
with a self-sufficient smirk.

The stranger looked at him as if strongly disposed to chastise his
impertinence.

"Is she married?" he asked, after a brief pause.

"Married!--no--no," replied the woollen-draper. "Winifred Wood will
never marry, unless the grave can give up its dead. When a mere child
she fixed her affections upon a youth named Thames Darrell, whom her
father brought up, and who perished, it is supposed, about nine years
ago; and she has determined to remain faithful to his memory."

"You astonish me," said the stranger, in a voice full of emotion.

"Why it _is_ astonishing, certainly," remarked Kneebone, "to find any
woman constant--especially to a girlish attachment; but such is the
case. She has had offers innumerable; for where wealth and beauty are
combined, as in her instance, suitors are seldom wanting. But she was
not to be tempted."

"She is a matchless creature!" exclaimed the young man.

"So I think," replied Kneebone, again applying to the snuff-box, and by
that means escaping the angry glance levelled at him by his companion.

"I have one inquiry more to make of you, Sir," said the stranger, as
soon as he had conquered his displeasure, "and I will then trouble you
no further. You spoke just now of a youth whom Mr. Wood brought up. As
far as I recollect, there were two. What has become of the other?"

"Why, surely you don't mean Jack Sheppard?" cried the woollen-draper in
surprise.

"That was the lad's name," returned the stranger.

"I guessed from your dress and manner, Sir, that you must have been long
absent from your own country," said Kneebone; "and now I'm convinced of
it, or you wouldn't have asked that question. Jack Sheppard is the talk
and terror of the whole town. The ladies can't sleep in their beds for
him; and as to the men, they daren't go to bed at all. He's the most
daring and expert housebreaker that ever used a crow-bar. He laughs at
locks and bolts; and the more carefully you guard your premises from
him, the more likely are you to insure an attack. His exploits and
escapes are in every body's mouth. He has been lodged in every
round-house in the metropolis, and has broken out of them all, and
boasts that no prison can hold him. We shall see. His skill has not been
tried. At present, he is under the protection of Jonathan Wild."

"Does that villain still maintain his power?" asked the stranger
sternly.

"He does," replied Kneebone, "and, what is more surprising, it seems to
increase. Jonathan completely baffles and derides the ends of justice.
It is useless to contend with him, even with right on your side. Some
years ago, in 1715, just before the Rebellion, I was rash enough to
league myself with the Jacobite party, and by Wild's machinations got
clapped into Newgate, whence I was glad to escape with my head upon my
shoulders. I charged the thief-taker, as was the fact, with having
robbed me, by means of the lad Sheppard, whom he instigated to deed, of
the very pocket-book he produced in evidence against me; but it was of
no avail--I couldn't obtain a hearing. Mr. Wood fared still worse.
Bribed by a certain Sir Rowland Trenchard, Jonathan kidnapped the
carpenter's adopted son, Thames Darrell, and placed him in the hands of
a Dutch Skipper, with orders to throw him overboard when he got out to
sea; and though this was proved as clear as day, the rascal managed
matters so adroitly, and gave such a different complexion to the whole
affair, that he came off with flying colours. One reason, perhaps, of
his success in this case might be, that having arrested his associate in
the dark transaction, Sir Rowland Trenchard, on a charge of high
treason, he was favoured by Walpole, who found his account in retaining
such an agent. Be this as it may, Jonathan remained the victor; and
shortly afterwards,--at the price of a third of his estate, it was
whispered,--he procured Trenchard's liberation from confinement."

At the mention of the latter occurrence, a dark cloud gathered upon the
stranger's brow.

"Do you know anything further of Sir Rowland?" he asked.

"Nothing more than this," answered Kneebone,--"that after the failure of
his projects, and the downfall of his party, he retired to his seat,
Ashton Hall, near Manchester, and has remained there ever since,
entirely secluded from the world."

The stranger was for a moment lost in reflection.

"And now, Sir," he said, preparing to take his departure, "will you add
to the obligation already conferred by informing me where I can meet
with Mr. Wood?"

"With pleasure," replied the woollen-draper. "He lives at Dollis Hill, a
beautiful spot near Willesden, about four or five miles from town, where
he has taken a farm. If you ride out there, and the place is well worth
a visit, for the magnificent view it commands of some of the finest
country in the neighbourhood of London,--you are certain to meet with
him. I saw him yesterday, and he told me he shouldn't stir from home for
a week to come. He called here on his way back, after he had been to
Bedlam to visit poor Mrs. Sheppard."

"Jack's mother?" exclaimed the young man. "Gracious Heaven!--is she the
inmate of a mad-house?"

"She is, Sir," answered the woollen-draper, sadly, "driven there by her
son's misconduct. Alas! that the punishment of his offences should fall
on her head. Poor soul! she nearly died when she heard he had robbed his
master; and it might have been well if she had done so, for she never
afterwards recovered her reason. She rambles continually about Jack, and
her husband, and that wretch Jonathan, to whom, as far as can be
gathered from her wild ravings, she attributes all her misery. I pity
her from the bottom of my heart. But, in the midst of all her
affliction, she has found a steady friend in Mr. Wood, who looks after
her comforts, and visits her constantly. Indeed, I've heard him say
that, but for his wife, he would shelter her under his own roof. That,
Sir, is what I call being a Good Samaritan."

The stranger said nothing, but hastily brushed away a tear. Perceiving
he was about to take leave, Kneebone ventured to ask whom he had had
the honour of addressing.

Before the question could be answered, a side-door was opened, and a
very handsome woman of Amazonian proportions presented herself, and
marched familiarly up to Mr. Kneebone. She was extremely showily
dressed, and her large hooped petticoat gave additional effect to her
lofty stature. As soon as she noticed the stranger, she honoured him
with an extremely impudent stare, and scarcely endeavoured to disguise
the admiration with which his good looks impressed her.

"Don't you perceive, my dear Mrs. Maggot, that I'm engaged," said
Kneebone, a little disconcerted.

"Who've you got with you?" demanded the Amazon, boldly.

"The gentleman is a stranger to me, Poll," replied the woollen-draper,
with increased embarrassment. "I don't know his name." And he looked at
the moment as if he had lost all desire to know it.

"Well, he's a pretty fellow at all events," observed Mrs. Maggot, eyeing
him from head to heel with evident satisfaction;--"a devilish pretty
fellow!"

"Upon my word, Poll," said Kneebone, becoming very red, "you might have
a little more delicacy than to tell him so before my face."

"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Maggot, drawing up her fine figure to its full
height; "because I condescend to live with you, am I never to look at
another man,--especially at one so much to my taste as this? Don't think
it!"

"You had better retire, Madam," said the woollen-draper, sharply, "if
you can't conduct yourself with more propriety."

"Order those who choose to obey you," rejoined the lady scornfully.
"Though you lorded it over that fond fool, Mrs. Wood, you shan't lord it
over me, I can promise you. That for you!" And she snapped her fingers
in his face.

"Zounds!" cried Kneebone, furiously. "Go to your own room, woman,
directly, or I'll make you!"

"Make me!" echoed Mrs. Maggot, bursting into a loud contemptuous laugh.
"Try!"

Enraged at the assurance of his mistress, the woollen-draper
endeavoured to carry his threat into execution, but all his efforts to
remove her were unavailing. At length, after he had given up the point
from sheer exhaustion, the Amazon seized him by the throat, and pushed
him backwards with such force that he rolled over the counter.

"There!" she cried, laughing, "that'll teach you to lay hands upon me
again. You should remember, before you try your strength against mine,
that when I rescued you from the watch, and you induced me to come and
live with you, I beat off four men, any of whom was a match for you--ha!
ha!"

"My dear Poll!" said Kneebone, picking himself up, "I entreat you to
moderate yourself."

"Entreat a fiddlestick!" retorted Mrs. Maggot: "I'm tired of you, and
will go back to my old lover, Jack Sheppard. He's worth a dozen of you.
Or, if this good-looking young fellow will only say the word, I'll go
with him."

"You may go, and welcome, Madam!" rejoined Kneebone, spitefully. "But, I
should think, after the specimen you've just given of your amiable
disposition, no person would be likely to saddle himself with such an
incumbrance."

"What say you, Sir?" said the Amazon, with an engaging leer at the
stranger. "_You_ will find me tractable enough; and, with _me_ by, your
side you need fear neither constable nor watchman. I've delivered Jack
Sheppard from many an assault. I can wield a quarterstaff as well as a
prize-fighter, and have beaten Figg himself at the broadsword. Will you
take me?"

However tempting Mrs. Maggot's offer may appear, the young man thought
fit to decline it, and, after a few words of well-merited compliment on
her extraordinary prowess, and renewed thanks to Mr. Kneebone, he took
his departure.

"Good bye!" cried Mrs. Maggot, kissing her hand to him. "I'll find you
out. And now," she added, glancing contemptuously at the
woollen-draper, "I'll go to Jack Sheppard."

"You shall first go to Bridewell, you jade!" rejoined Kneebone. "Here,
Tom," he added, calling to a shop-boy, "run and fetch a constable."

"He had better bring half-a-dozen," said the Amazon, taking up a
cloth-yard wand, and quietly seating herself; "one won't do."

On leaving Mr. Kneebone's house, the young man hastened to a hotel in
the neighbourhood of Covent Garden, where, having procured a horse, he
shaped his course towards the west end of the town. Urging his steed
along Oxford Road,--as that great approach to the metropolis was then
termed,--he soon passed Marylebone Lane, beyond which, with the
exception of a few scattered houses, the country was completely open on
the right, and laid out in pleasant fields and gardens; nor did he draw
in the rein until he arrived at Tyburn-gate, where, before he turned off
upon the Edgeware Road, he halted for a moment, to glance at the place
of execution. This "fatal retreat for the unfortunate brave" was marked
by a low wooden railing, within which stood the triple tree. Opposite
the gallows was an open gallery, or scaffolding, like the stand at a
racecourse, which, on state occasions, was crowded with spectators.
Without the inclosure were reared several lofty gibbets, with their
ghastly burthens. Altogether, it was a hideous and revolting sight.
Influenced, probably, by what he had heard from Mr. Kneebone, respecting
the lawless career of Jack Sheppard, and struck with the probable fate
that awaited him, the young man, as he contemplated this scene, fell
into a gloomy reverie. While he was thus musing, two horsemen rode past
him; and, proceeding to a little distance, stopped likewise. One of them
was a stout square-built man, with a singularly swarthy complexion, and
harsh forbidding features. He was well mounted, as was his companion;
and had pistols in his holsters, and a hanger at his girdle. The other
individual, who was a little in advance, was concealed from the
stranger's view. Presently, however, a sudden movement occurred, and
disclosed his features, which were those of a young man of nearly his
own age. The dress of this person was excessively showy, and consisted
of a scarlet riding-habit, lined and faced with blue, and bedizened with
broad gold lace, a green silk-knit waistcoat, embroidered with silver,
and decorated with a deep fringe, together with a hat tricked out in the
same gaudy style. His figure was slight, but well-built; and, in stature
he did not exceed five feet four. His complexion was pale; and there was
something sinister in the expression of his large black eyes. His head
was small and bullet-shaped, and he did not wear a wig, but had his
sleek black hair cut off closely round his temples. A mutual recognition
took place at the same instant between the stranger and this individual.
Both started. The latter seemed inclined to advance and address the
former; but suddenly changing his mind, he shouted to his companion in
tones familiar to the stranger's ear; and, striking spurs into his
steed, dashed off at full speed along the Edgeware Road. Impelled by a
feeling, into which we shall not pause to inquire, the stranger started
after them; but they were better mounted, and soon distanced him.
Remarking that they struck off at a turning on the left, he took the
same road, and soon found himself on Paddington-Green. A row of
magnificent, and even then venerable, elms threw their broad arms over
this pleasant spot. From a man, who was standing beneath the shade of
one these noble trees, information was obtained that the horsemen had
ridden along the Harrow Road. With a faint view of overtaking them
the pursuer urged his steed to a quicker pace. Arrived at
Westbourne-Green--then nothing more than a common covered with gorse and
furzebushes, and boasting only a couple of cottages and an alehouse--he
perceived through the hedges the objects of his search slowly ascending
the gentle hill that rises from Kensall-Green.

By the time he had reached the summit of this hill, he had lost all
trace of them; and the ardour of the chase having in some measure
subsided, he began to reproach himself for his folly, in having
wandered--as he conceived--so far out of his course. Before retracing
his steps, however, he allowed his gaze to range over the vast and
beautiful prospect spread out beneath him, which is now hidden, from the
traveller's view by the high walls of the General Cemetery, and can,
consequently, only be commanded from the interior of that attractive
place of burial,--and which, before it was intersected by canals and
railroads, and portioned out into hippodromes, was exquisite indeed.
After feasting his eye upon this superb panorama, he was about to
return, when he ascertained from a farmer that his nearest road to
Willesden would be down a lane a little further on, to the right.
Following this direction, he opened a gate, and struck into one of the
most beautiful green lanes imaginable; which, after various windings,
conducted him into a more frequented road, and eventually brought him to
the place he sought. Glancing at the finger-post over the cage, which
has been described as situated at the outskirts of the village, and
seeing no directions to Dollis Hill, he made fresh inquiries as to where
it lay, from an elderly man, who was standing with another countryman
near the little prison.

"Whose house do you want, master?" said the man, touching his hat.

"Mr. Wood's," was the reply.

"There is Dollis Hill," said the man, pointing to a well-wooded eminence
about a mile distant, "and there," he added, indicating the roof of a
house just visible above a grove of trees "is Mr. Wood's. If you ride
past the church, and mount the hill, you'll come to Neasdon and then
you'll not have above half a mile to go."

The young man thanked his informant, and was about to follow his
instructions, when the other called after him----

"I say, master, did you ever hear tell of Mr. Wood's famous 'prentice?"

"What apprentice?" asked the stranger, in surprise.

"Why, Jack Sheppard, the notorious house-breaker,--him as has robbed
half Lunnun, to be sure. You must know, Sir, when he was a lad, the day
after he broke into his master's house in Wych Street, he picked a
gentleman's pocket in our church, during sarvice time,--that he did, the
heathen. The gentleman catched him i' th' fact, and we shut him up for
safety i' that pris'n. But," said the fellow, with a laugh, "he soon
contrived to make his way out on it, though. Ever since he's become so
famous, the folks about here ha' christened it Jack Sheppard's cage. His
mother used to live i' this village, just down yonder; but when her son
took to bad ways, she went distracted,--and now she's i' Bedlam, I've
heerd."

"I tell e'e what, John Dump," said the other fellow, who had hitherto
preserved silence, "I don't know whether you talkin' o' Jack Sheppard
has put him into my head or not; but I once had him pointed out to me,
and if that _were_ him as I seed then, he's just now ridden past us, and
put up at the Six Bells."

"The deuce he has!" cried Dump. "If you were sure o' that we might seize
him, and get the reward for his apprehension."

"That 'ud be no such easy matter," replied the countryman. "Jack's a
desperate fellow, and is always well armed; besides, he has a comrade
with him. But I'll tell e'e what we _might_ do----"

The young man heard no more. Taking the direction pointed out, he rode
off. As he passed the Six Bells, he noticed the steeds of the two
horsemen at the door; and glancing into the house, perceived the younger
of the two in the passage. The latter no sooner beheld him than he
dashed hastily into an adjoining room. After debating with himself
whether he should further seek an interview, which, though, now in his
power, was so sedulously shunned by the other party, he decided in the
negative; and contenting himself with writing upon a slip of paper the
hasty words,--"You are known by the villagers,--be upon your guard,"--he
gave it to the ostler, with instructions to deliver it instantly to the
owner of the horse he pointed out, and pursued his course.

Passing the old rectory, and still older church, with its reverend
screen of trees, and slowly ascending a hill side, from whence he
obtained enchanting peeps of the spire and college of Harrow, he reached
the cluster of well-built houses which constitute the village of
Neasdon. From this spot a road, more resembling the drive through a park
than a public thoroughfare, led him gradually to the brow of Dollis
Hill. It was a serene and charming evening, and twilight was gently
stealing over the face of the country. Bordered by fine timber, the road
occasionally offered glimpses of a lovely valley, until a wider opening
gave a full view of a delightful and varied prospect. On the left lay
the heights of Hampstead, studded with villas, while farther off a hazy
cloud marked the position of the metropolis. The stranger concluded he
could not be far from his destination, and a turn in the road showed him
the house.

Beneath two tall elms, whose boughs completely overshadowed the roof,
stood Mr. Wood's dwelling,--a plain, substantial, commodious farm-house.
On a bench at the foot of the trees, with a pipe in his mouth, and a
tankard by his side, sat the worthy carpenter, looking the picture of
good-heartedness and benevolence. The progress of time was marked in Mr.
Wood by increased corpulence and decreased powers of vision,--by deeper
wrinkles and higher shoulders, by scantier breath and a fuller habit.
Still he looked hale and hearty, and the country life he led had
imparted a ruddier glow to his cheek. Around him were all the evidences
of plenty. A world of haystacks, bean-stacks, and straw-ricks flanked
the granges adjoining his habitation; the yard was crowded with poultry,
pigeons were feeding at his feet, cattle were being driven towards the
stall, horses led to the stable, a large mastiff was rattling his chain,
and stalking majestically in front of his kennel, while a number of
farming-men were passing and repassing about their various occupations.
At the back of the house, on a bank, rose an old-fashioned
terrace-garden, full of apple-trees and other fruit-trees in blossom,
and lively with the delicious verdure of early spring.

Hearing the approach of the rider, Mr. Wood turned to look at him. It
was now getting dusk, and he could only imperfectly distinguish the
features and figure of the stranger.

"I need not ask whether this is Mr. Wood's," said the latter, "since I
find him at his own gate."

"You are right, Sir," said the worthy carpenter, rising. "I am Owen
Wood, at your service."

"You do not remember me, I dare say," observed the stranger.

"I can't say I do," replied Wood. "Your voice seems familiar to
me--and--but I'm getting a little deaf--and my eyes don't serve me quite
so well as they used to do, especially by this light."

"Never mind," returned the stranger, dismounting; "you'll recollect me
by and by, I've no doubt. I bring you tidings of an old friend."

"Then you're heartily welcome, Sir, whoever you are. Pray, walk in.
Here, Jem, take the gentleman's horse to the stable--see him dressed and
fed directly. Now, Sir, will you please to follow me?"

Mr. Wood then led the way up a rather high and, according to modern
notions, incommodious flight of steps, and introduced his guest to a
neat parlour, the windows of which were darkened by pots of flowers and
creepers. There was no light in the room; but, notwithstanding this, the
young man did not fail to detect the buxom figure of Mrs. Wood, now more
buxom and more gorgeously arrayed than ever,--as well as a young and
beautiful female, in whom he was at no loss to recognise the carpenter's
daughter.

Winifred Wood was now in her twentieth year. Her features were still
slightly marked by the disorder alluded to in the description of her as
a child,--but that was the only drawback to her beauty. Their expression
was so amiable, that it would have redeemed a countenance a thousand
times plainer than hers. Her figure was perfect,--tall, graceful,
rounded,--and, then, she had deep liquid blue eyes, that rivalled the
stars in lustre. On the stranger's appearance, she was seated near the
window busily occupied with her needle.

"My wife and daughter, Sir," said the carpenter, introducing them to his
guest.

Mrs. Wood, whose admiration for masculine beauty was by no means abated,
glanced at the well-proportioned figure of the young man, and made him a
very civil salutation. Winifred's reception was kind, but more distant,
and after the slight ceremonial she resumed her occupation.

"This gentleman brings us tidings of an old friend, my dear," said the
carpenter.

"Ay, indeed! And who may that be?" inquired his wife.

"One whom you may perhaps have forgotten," replied the stranger, "but
who can never forget the kindness he experienced at your hands, or at
those of your excellent husband."

At the sound of his voice every vestige of colour fled from Winifred's
cheeks, and the work upon which she was engaged fell from her hand.

"I have a token to deliver to you," continued the stranger, addressing
her.

"To me?" gasped Winifred.

"This locket," he said, taking a little ornament attached to a black
ribband from his breast, and giving it her,--"do you remember it?"

"I do--I do!" cried Winifred.

"What's all this?" exclaimed Wood in amazement.

"Do you not know me, father?" said the young man, advancing towards him,
and warmly grasping his hand. "Have nine years so changed me, that there
is no trace left of your adopted son?"

"God bless me!" ejaculated the carpenter, rubbing his eyes, "can--can it
be?"

"Surely," screamed Mrs. Wood, joining the group, "it isn't Thames
Darrell come to life again?"

"It is--it is!" cried Winifred, rushing towards him, and flinging her
arms round his neck,--"it is my dear--dear brother!"

"Well, this is what I never expected to see," said the carpenter,
wiping his eyes; "I hope I'm not dreaming! Thames, my dear boy, as soon
as Winny has done with you, let me embrace you."

"My turn comes before yours, Sir," interposed his better half. "Come to
my arms, Thames! Oh! dear! Oh! dear!"

To repeat the questions and congratulations which now ensued, or
describe the extravagant joy of the carpenter, who, after he had hugged
his adopted son to his breast with such warmth as almost to squeeze the
breath from his body, capered around the room, threw his wig into the
empty fire-grate, and committed various other fantastic actions, in
order to get rid of his superfluous satisfaction--to describe the
scarcely less extravagant raptures of his spouse, or the more subdued,
but not less heartfelt delight of Winifred, would be a needless task, as
it must occur to every one's imagination. Supper was quickly served; the
oldest bottle of wine was brought from the cellar; the strongest barrel
of ale was tapped; but not one of the party could eat or drink--their
hearts were too full.

Thames sat with Winifred's hand clasped in his own, and commenced a
recital of his adventures, which may be briefly told. Carried out to sea
by Van Galgebrok, and thrown overboard, while struggling with the waves,
he had been picked up by a French fishing-boat, and carried to Ostend.
After encountering various hardships and privations for a long time,
during which he had no means of communicating with England, he, at
length, found his way to Paris, where he was taken notice of by Cardinal
Dubois, who employed him as one of his secretaries, and subsequently
advanced to the service of Philip of Orleans, from whom he received a
commission. On the death of his royal patron, he resolved to return to
his own country; and, after various delays, which had postponed it to
the present time, he had succeeded in accomplishing his object.

Winifred listened to his narration with the profoundest attention; and,
when it concluded, her tearful eye and throbbing bosom told how deeply
her feelings had been interested.

The discourse, then, turned to Darrell's old playmate, Jack Sheppard;
and Mr. Wood, in deploring his wild career, adverted to the melancholy
condition to which it had reduced his mother.

"For my part, it's only what I expected of him," observed Mrs. Wood,
"and I'm sorry and surprised he hasn't swung for his crimes before this.
The gallows has groaned for him for years. As to his mother, I've no
pity for her. She deserves what has befallen her."

"Dear mother, don't say so," returned Winifred. "One of the consequences
of criminal conduct, is the shame and disgrace which--worse than any
punishment the evil-doer can suffer--is brought by it upon the innocent
relatives; and, if Jack had considered this, perhaps he would not have
acted as he has done, and have entailed so much misery on his unhappy
parent."

"I always detested Mrs. Sheppard," cried the carpenter's wife bitterly;
"and, I repeat, Bedlam's too good for her."

"My dear," observed Wood, "you should be more charitable--"

"Charitable!" repeated his wife, "that's your constant cry. Marry, come
up! I've been a great deal too charitable. Here's Winny always urging
you to go and visit Mrs. Sheppard in the asylum, and take her this, and
send her that;--and I've never prevented you, though such mistaken
liberality's enough to provoke a saint. And, then, forsooth, she must
needs prevent your hanging Jack Sheppard after the robbery in Wych
Street, when you might have done so. Perhaps you'll call that charity:
_I_ call it defeating the ends of justice. See what a horrible rascal
you've let loose upon the world!"

"I'm sure, mother," rejoined Winifred, "if any one was likely to feel
resentment, I was; for no one could be more frightened. But I was sorry
for poor Jack--as I am still, and hoped he would mend."

"Mend!" echoed Mrs. Wood, contemptuously, "he'll never mend till he
comes to Tyburn."

"At least, I will hope so," returned Winifred. "But, as I was saying, I
was most dreadfully frightened on the night of the robbery! Though so
young at the time, I remember every circumstance distinctly. I was
sitting up, lamenting your departure, dear Thames, when, hearing an odd
noise, I went to the landing, and, by the light of a dark lantern, saw
Jack Sheppard, stealing up stairs, followed by two men with crape on
their faces. I'm ashamed to say that I was too much terrified to scream
out--but ran and hid myself."

"Hold your tongue!" cried Mrs. Wood. "I declare you throw me into an
ague. Do you think _I_ forget it? Didn't they help themselves to all the
plate and the money--to several of my best dresses, and amongst others,
to my favourite kincob gown; and I've never been able to get another
like it! Marry, come up! I'd hang 'em all, if I could. Were such a thing
to happen again, I'd never let Mr. Wood rest till he brought the
villains to justice."

"I hope such a thing never _will_ happen again, my dear," observed Wood,
mildly, "but, when it does, it will be time to consider what course we
ought to pursue."

"Let them attempt it, if they dare!" cried Mrs. Wood, who had worked
herself into a passion; "and, I'll warrant 'em, the boldest robber among
'em shall repent it, if he comes across me."

"No doubt, my dear," acquiesced the carpenter, "no doubt."

Thames, who had been more than once on the point of mentioning his
accidental rencounter with Jack Sheppard, not being altogether without
apprehension, from the fact of his being in the neighbourhood,--now
judged it more prudent to say nothing on the subject, from a fear of
increasing Mrs. Wood's displeasure; and he was the more readily induced
to do this, as the conversation began to turn upon his own affairs. Mr.
Wood could give him no further information respecting Sir Rowland
Trenchard than what he had obtained from Kneebone; but begged him to
defer the further consideration of the line of conduct he meant to
pursue until the morrow, when he hoped to have a plan to lay before
him, of which he would approve.

The night was now advancing, and the party began to think of separating.
As Mrs. Wood, who had recovered her good humour, quitted the room she
bestowed a hearty embrace on Thames, and she told him laughingly, that
she would "defer all _she_ had to propose to him until to-morrow."

To-morrow! She never beheld it.

After an affectionate parting with Winifred, Thames was conducted by the
carpenter to his sleeping apartment--a comfortable cosy chamber; such a
one, in short, as can only be met with in the country, with its
dimity-curtained bed, its sheets fragrant of lavender, its clean white
furniture, and an atmosphere breathing of freshness. Left to himself, he
took a survey of the room, and his heart leaped as he beheld over the,
chimney-piece, a portrait of himself. It was a copy of the pencil sketch
taken of him nine years ago by Winifred, and awakened a thousand tender
recollections.

When about to retire to rest, the rencounter with Jack Sheppard again
recurred to him, and he half blamed himself for not acquainting Mr. Wood
with the circumstances, and putting him upon his guard against the
possibility of an attack. On weighing the matter over, he grew so uneasy
that he resolved to descend, and inform him of his misgivings. But, when
he got to the door with this intention, he became ashamed of his fears;
and feeling convinced that Jack--bad as he might be--was not capable of
such atrocious conduct as to plunder his benefactor twice, he contented
himself with looking to the priming of his pistols, and placing them
near him, to be ready in case of need, he threw himself on the bed and
speedily fell asleep.




CHAPTER II.

The Burglary at Dollis Hill.


Thames Darrell's fears were not, however, groundless. Danger, in the
form he apprehended, was lurking outside: nor was he destined to enjoy
long repose. On receiving the warning note from the ostler, Jack
Sheppard and his companion left Willesden, and taking--as a blind--the
direction of Harrow, returned at night-fall by a by-lane to Neasdon, and
put up at a little public-house called the Spotted Dog. Here they
remained till midnight when, calling for their reckoning and their
steeds, they left the house.

It was a night well-fitted to their enterprise, calm, still, and
profoundly dark. As they passed beneath the thick trees that shade the
road to Dollis Hill, the gloom was almost impenetrable. The robbers
proceeded singly, and kept on the grass skirting the road, so that no
noise was made by their horses' feet.

As they neared the house, Jack Sheppard, who led the way, halted and
addressed his companion in a low voice:--

"I don't half like this job, Blueskin," he said; "it always went against
the grain. But, since I've seen the friend and companion of my
childhood, Thames Darrell, I've no heart for it. Shall we turn back?"

"And disappoint Mr. Wild, Captain?" remonstrated the other, in a
deferential tone. "You know this is a pet project. It might be dangerous
to thwart him."

"Pish!" cried Jack: "I don't value his anger a straw. All our fraternity
are afraid of him; but _I_ laugh at his threats. He daren't quarrel with
me: and if he does, let him look to himself. I've my own reasons for
disliking this job."

"Well, you know I always act under your orders, Captain," returned
Blueskin; "and if you give the word to retreat, I shall obey, of course:
but I know what Edgeworth Bess will say when we go home empty-handed."

"Why what will she say?" inquired Sheppard.

"That we were afraid," replied the other; "but never mind her."

"Ay; but I do mind her," cried Jack upon whom his comrade's observation
had produced the desired effect. "We'll do it."

"That's right, Captain," rejoined Blueskin. "You pledged yourself to
Mr. Wild--"

"I did," interrupted Jack; "and I never yet broke an engagement. Though
a thief, Jack Sheppard is a man of his word."

"To be sure he is," acquiesced Blueskin. "I should like to meet the man
who would dare to gainsay it."

"One word before we begin, Blueskin," said Jack, authoritatively; "in
case the family should be alarmed--mind, no violence. There's one person
in the house whom I wouldn't frighten for the world."

"Wood's daughter, I suppose?" observed the other.

"You've hit it," answered Sheppard.

"What say you to carrying her off, Captain?" suggested Blueskin. "If
you've a fancy for the girl, we might do it."

"No--no," laughed Jack. "Bess wouldn't bear a rival. But if you wish to
do old Wood a friendly turn, you may bring his wife."

"I shouldn't mind ridding him of her," said Blueskin, gruffly; "and if
she comes in my way, may the devil seize me if I don't make short work
with her!"

"You forget," rejoined Jack, sternly, "I've just said I'll have no
violence--mind that."

With this, they dismounted; and fastening their horses to a tree,
proceeded towards the house. It was still so dark, that nothing could be
distinguished except the heavy masses of timber by which the premises
were surrounded; but as they advanced, lights were visible in some of
the windows. Presently they came to a wall, on the other side of which
the dog began to bark violently; but Blueskin tossed him a piece of
prepared meat, and uttering a low growl, he became silent. They then
clambered over a hedge, and scaling another wall, got into the garden at
the back of the house. Treading with noiseless step over the soft mould,
they soon reached the building. Arrived there, Jack felt about for a
particular window; and having discovered the object of his search, and
received the necessary implements from his companion, he instantly
commenced operations. In a few seconds, the shutter flew open,--then
the window,--and they were in the room. Jack now carefully closed the
shutters, while Blueskin struck a light, with which he set fire to a
candle. The room they were in was a sort of closet, with the door locked
outside; but this was only a moment's obstacle to Jack, who with a
chisel forced back the bolt. The operation was effected with so much
rapidity and so little noise, that even if any one had been on the
alert, he could scarcely have detected it. They then took off their
boots, and crept stealthily up stairs, treading upon the point of their
toes so cautiously, that not a board creaked beneath their weight.
Pausing at each door on the landing, Jack placed his ear to the keyhole,
and listened intently. Having ascertained by the breathing which room
Thames occupied, he speedily contrived to fasten him in. He then tried
the door of Mr. Wood's bed-chamber--it was locked, with the key left in
it. This occasioned a little delay; but Jack, whose skill as a workman
in the particular line he had chosen was unequalled, and who laughed at
difficulties, speedily cut out a panel by means of a centre-bit and
knife, took the key from the other side, and unlocked the door. Covering
his face with a crape mask, and taking the candle from his associate,
Jack entered the room; and, pistol in hand, stepped up to the bed, and
approached the light to the eyes of the sleepers. The loud noise
proceeding from the couch proved that their slumbers were deep and real;
and unconscious of the danger in which she stood, Mrs. Wood turned over
to obtain a more comfortable position. During this movement, Jack
grasped the barrel of his pistol, held in his breath, and motioned to
Blueskin, who bared a long knife, to keep still. The momentary alarm
over, he threw a piece of-wash leather over a bureau, so as to deaden
the sound, and instantly broke it open with a small crow-bar. While he
was filling his pockets with golden coin from this store, Blueskin had
pulled the plate-chest from under the bed, and having forced it open,
began filling a canvass bag with its contents,--silver coffee-pots,
chocolate-dishes, waiters trays, tankards, goblets, and candlesticks.
It might be supposed that these articles, when thrust together into the
bag, would have jingled; but these skilful practitioners managed matters
so well that no noise was made. After rifling the room of everything
portable, including some of Mrs. Wood's ornaments and wearing apparel,
they prepared to depart. Jack then intimated his intention of visiting
Winifred's chamber, in which several articles of value were known to be
kept; but as, notwithstanding his reckless character, he still retained
a feeling of respect for the object of his boyish affections, he would
not suffer Blueskin to accompany him, so he commanded him to keep watch
over the sleepers--strictly enjoining him, however, to do them no
injury. Again having recourse to the centre-bit,--for Winifred's door
was locked,--Jack had nearly cut out a panel, when a sudden outcry was
raised in the carpenter's chamber. The next moment, a struggle was
heard, and Blueskin appeared at the door, followed by Mrs. Wood.

Jack instandly extinguished the light, and called to his comrade to come
after him.

But Blueskin found it impossible to make off,--at least with the
spoil,--Mrs. Wood having laid hold of the canvass-bag.

"Give back the things!" cried the, lady. "Help!--help, Mr. Wood!"

"Leave go!" thundered Blueskin--"leave go--you'd better!"--and he held
the sack as firmly as he could with one hand, while with the other he
searched for his knife.

"No, I won't leave go!" screamed Mrs. Wood.
"Fire!--murder--thieves!--I've got one of 'em!"

"Come along," cried Jack.

"I can't," answered Blueskin. "This she-devil has got hold of the sack.
Leave go, I tell you!" and he forced open the knife with his teeth.

"Help!--murder!--thieves!" screamed Mrs. Wood;--"Owen--Owen!--Thames,
help!"

"Coming!" cried Mr. Wood, leaping from the bed. "Where are you?"

"Here," replied Mrs. Wood. "Help--I'll hold him!"

"Leave her," cried Jack, darting down stairs, amid a furious ringing of
bells,--"the house is alarmed,--follow me!"

"Curses light on you!" cried Blueskin, savagely; "since you won't be
advised, take your fate."

And seizing her by the hair, he pulled back her head, and drew the knife
with all his force across her throat. There was a dreadful stifled
groan, and she fell heavily upon the landing.

The screams of the unfortunate woman had aroused Thames from his
slumbers. Snatching-up his pistols, he rushed to the door, but to his
horror found it fastened. He heard the struggle on the landing, the fall
of the heavy body, the groan,--and excited almost to frenzy by his
fears, he succeeded in forcing open the door. By this time, several of
the terrified domestics appeared with lights. A terrible spectacle was
presented to the young man's gaze:--the floor deluged with blood--the
mangled and lifeless body of Mrs. Wood,--Winifred fainted in the arms of
a female attendant,--and Wood standing beside them almost in a state of
distraction. Thus, in a few minutes, had this happy family been plunged
into the depths of misery. At this juncture, a cry was raised by a
servant from below, that the robbers were flying through the garden.
Darting to a window looking in that direction, Thames threw it up, and
discharged both his pistols, but without effect. In another minute, the
tramp of horses' feet told that the perpetrators of the outrage had
effected their escape.




CHAPTER III.

Jack Sheppard's Quarrel with Jonathan Wild.


Scarcely an hour after the horrible occurrence just related, as Jonathan
Wild was seated in the audience-chamber of his residence at the Old
Bailey, occupied, like Peachum, (for whose portrait he sat,) with his
account-books and registers, he was interrupted by the sudden entrance
of Quilt Arnold, who announced Jack Sheppard and Blueskin.

"Ah!" cried Wild, laying down his pen and looking up with a smile of
satisfaction. "I was just thinking of you Jack. What news. Have you done
the trick at Dollis Hill?--brought off the swag--eh?"

"No," answered Jack, flinging himself sullenly into a chair, "I've not."

"Why how's this?" exclaimed Jonathan. "Jack Sheppard failed! I'd not
believe it, if any one but himself told me so."

"I'v not failed," returned Jack, angrily; "but we've done too much."

"I'm no reader of riddles," said Jonathan. "Speak plainly."

"Let this speak for me," said Sheppard, tossing a heavy bag of money
towards him. "You can generally understand that language. There's more
than I undertook to bring. It has been purchased by blood!"

"What! have you cut old Wood's throat?" asked Wild, with great
unconcern, as he took up the bag.

"If I _had_, you'd not have seen me here," replied Jack, sullenly. "The
blood that has been spilt is that of his wife."

"It was her own fault," observed Blueskin, moodily. "She wouldn't let me
go. I did it in self-defence."

"I care not why you did it," said Jack, sternly. "We work together no
more."

"Come, come, Captain," remonstrated Blueskin. "I thought you'd have got
rid of your ill-humour by this time. You know as well as I do that it
was accident."

"Accident or not," rejoined Sheppard; "you're no longer pall of mine."

"And so this is my reward for having made you the tip-top cracksman you
are," muttered Blueskin;--"to be turned off at a moment's notice,
because I silenced a noisy woman. It's too hard. Think better of it."

"My mind's made up," rejoined Jack, coldly,--"we part to-night."

"I'll not go," answered the other. "I love you like a son, and will
follow you like a dog. You'd not know what to do without me, and shan't
drive me off."

"Well!" remarked Jonathan, who had paid little attention to the latter
part of the conversation: "this is an awkward business certainly: but we
must do the best we can in it. You must keep out of the way till it's
blown over. I can accommodate you below."

"I don't require it," returned Sheppard. "I'm tired of the life I'm
leading. I shall quit it and go abroad."

"I'll go with you," said Blueskin.

"Before either of you go, you will ask my permission," said Jonathan,
coolly.

"How!" exclaimed Sheppard. "Do you mean to say you will interfere--"

"I mean to say this," interrupted Wild, with contemptuous calmness,
"that I'll neither allow you to leave England nor the profession you've
engaged in. I wouldn't allow you to be honest even if you could be
so,--which I doubt. You are my slave--and such you shall continue.'"

"Slave?" echoed Jack.

"Dare to disobey," continued Jonathan: "neglect my orders, and I will
hang you."

Sheppard started to his feet.

"Hear me," he cried, restraining himself with difficulty. "It is time
you should know whom you have to deal with. Henceforth, I utterly throw
off the yoke you have laid upon me. I will neither stir hand nor foot
for you more. Attempt to molest me, and I split. You are more in my
power than I am in yours. Jack Sheppard is a match for Jonathan Wild,
any day."

"That he is," added Blueskin, approvingly.

Jonathan smiled contemptuously.

"One motive alone shall induce me to go on with you," said Jack.

"What's that?" asked Wild.

"The youth whom you delivered to Van Galgebrok,--Thames Darrell, is
returned."

"Impossible!" cried Jonathan. "He was thrown overboard, and perished at
sea."

"He is alive," replied Jack, "I have seen him, and might have conversed
with him if I had chosen. Now, I know you can restore him to his rights,
if you choose. Do so; and I am yours as heretofore."

"Humph!" exclaimed Jonathan.

"Your answer!" cried Sheppard. "Yes, or no?"

"I will make no terms with you," rejoined Wild, sternly. "You have
defied me, and shall feel my power. You have been useful to me, or I
would not have spared you thus long. I swore to hang you two years ago,
but I deferred my purpose."

"Deferred!" echoed Sheppard.

"Hear me out," said Jonathan. "You came hither under my protection, and
you shall depart freely,--nay, more, you shall have an hour's grace.
After that time, I shall place my setters on your heels."

"You cannot prevent my departure," replied Jack, dauntlessly, "and
therefore your offer is no favour. But I tell you in return, I shall
take no pains to hide myself. If you want me, you know where to find
me."

"An hour," said Jonathan, looking at his watch,--"remember!"

"If you send for me to the Cross Shovels in the Mint, where I'm going
with Blueskin, I will surrender myself without resistance," returned
Jack.

"You will spare the officers a labour then," rejoined Jonathan.

"Can't I settle this business, Captain," muttered Blueskin, drawing a
pistol.

"Don't harm him," said Jack, carelessly: "he dares not do it."

So saying, he left the room.

"Blueskin," said Jonathan, as that worthy was about to follow, "I advise
you to remain with me."

"No," answered the ruffian, moodily. "If you arrest him, you must arrest
me also."

"As you will," said Jonathan, seating himself.

Jack and his comrade went to the Mint, where he was joined by Edgeworth
Bess, with whom he sat down most unconcernedly to supper. His revelry,
however, was put an end at the expiration of the time mentioned by
Jonathan, by the entrance of a posse of constables with Quilt Arnold and
Abraham Mendez at their head. Jack, to the surprise of all his
companions, at once surrendered himself: but Blueskin would have made a
fierce resistance, and attempted a rescue if he had not been ordered by
his leader to desist. He then made off. Edgeworth Bess, who passed for
Sheppard's wife, was secured. They were hurried before a magistrate, and
charged by Jonathan Wild with various robberies; but, as Jack Sheppard
stated that he had most important disclosures to make, as well as
charges to bring forward against his accuser, he was committed with his
female companion to the New Prison in Clerkenwell for further
examination.




CHAPTER IV.

Jack Sheppard's Escape from the New Prison.


In consequence of Jack Sheppard's desperate character, it was judged
expedient by the keeper of the New Prison to load him with fetters of
unusual weight, and to place him in a cell which, from its strength and
security, was called the Newgate Ward. The ward in which he was
confined, was about six yards in length, and three in width, and in
height, might be about twelve feet. The windows which were about nine
feet from the floor, had no glass; but were secured by thick iron bars,
and an oaken beam. Along the floor ran an iron bar to which Jack's chain
was attached, so that he could move along it from one end of the chamber
to the other. No prisoner except Edgeworth Bess was placed in the same
cell with him. Jack was in excellent spirits; and by his wit, drollery
and agreeable demeanour, speedily became a great favourite with the
turnkey, who allowed him every indulgence consistent with his situation.
The report of his detention caused an immense sensation. Numberless
charges were preferred against him, amongst others, information was
lodged of the robbery at Dollis Hill, and murder of Mrs. Wood, and a
large reward offered for the apprehension of Blueskin; and as, in
addition to this, Jack had threatened to impeach Wild, his next
examination was looked forward to with the greatest interest.

The day before this examination was appointed to take place--the third
of the prisoner's detention--an old man, respectably dressed, requested
permission to see him. Jack's friends were allowed to visit him,; but as
he had openly avowed his intention of attempting an escape, their
proceedings were narrowly watched. The old man was conducted to Jack's
cell by the turnkey, who remained near him during their interview. He
appeared to be a stranger to the prisoner, and the sole motive of his
visit, curiosity. After a brief conversation, which Sheppard sustained
with his accustomed liveliness, the old man turned to Bess and addressed
a few words of common-place gallantry to her. While this was going on,
Jack suddenly made a movement which attracted the turnkey's attention;
and during that interval the old man slipped some articles wrapped in a
handkerchief into Bess's hands, who instantly secreted them in her
bosom. The turnkey looked round the next moment, but the manoeuvre
escaped his observation. After a little further discourse the old man
took his departure.

Left alone with Edgeworth Bess, Jack burst into a loud laugh of
exultation.

"Blueskin's a friend in need," he said. "His disguise was capital; but I
detected it in a moment. Has he given you the tools?"

"He has," replied Bess, producing the handkerchief.

"Bravo," cried Sheppard, examining its contents, which proved to be a
file, a chisel, two or three gimblets, and a piercer. "Jonathan Wild
shall find it's not easy to detain me. As sure as he is now living, I'll
pay him a visit in the Old Bailey before morning. And then I'll pay off
old scores. It's almost worth while being sent to prison to have the
pleasure of escaping. I shall now be able to test my skill." And running
on in this way, he carefully concealed the tools.

Whether the turnkey entertained any suspicion of the old man, Jack could
not tell, but that night he was more than usually rigorous in his
search; and having carefully examined the prisoners and finding nothing
to excite his suspicions, he departed tolerably satisfied.

As soon as he was certain he should be disturbed no more, Jack set to
work, and with the aid of the file in less than an hour had freed
himself from his fetters. With Bess's assistance he then climbed up to
the window, which, as has just been stated, was secured by iron bars of
great thickness crossed by a stout beam of oak. The very sight of these
impediments, would have appalled a less courageous spirit than
Sheppard's--but nothing could daunt him. To work then he went, and with
wonderful industry filed off two of the iron bars. Just as he completed
this operation, the file broke. The oaken beam, nine inches in
thickness, was now the sole but most formidable obstacle to his flight.
With his gimblet he contrived to bore a number of holes so close
together that at last one end of the bar, being completely pierced
through, yielded; and pursuing the same with the other extremity, it
fell out altogether.

This last operation was so fatiguing, that for a short time he was
obliged to pause to recover the use of his fingers. He then descended;
and having induced Bess to take off some part of her clothing, he tore
the gown and petticoat into shreds and twisted them into a sort of rope
which he fastened to the lower bars of the window. With some difficulty
he contrived to raise her to the window, and with still greater
difficulty to squeeze her through it--her bulk being much greater than
his own. He then made a sort of running noose, passed it over her body,
and taking firmly hold of the bars, prepared to guide her descent. But
Bess could scarcely summon resolution enough to hazard the experiment;
and it was only on Jack's urgent intreaties, and even threats, that she
could be prevailed on to trust herself to the frail tenure of the rope
he had prepared. At length, however, she threw herself off; and Jack
carefully guiding the rope she landed in safety.

The next moment he was by her side.

But the great point was still unaccomplished. They had escaped from the
New Prison, it is true; but the wall of Clerkenwell Bridewell, by which
that jail was formerly surrounded, and which was more than twenty feet
high, and protected by formidable and bristling _chevaux de frise_,
remained to be scaled. Jack, however, had an expedient for mastering
this difficulty. He ventured to the great gates, and by inserting his
gimblets into the wood at intervals, so as to form points upon which he
could rest his foot, he contrived, to ascend them; and when at the top,
having fastened a portion of his dress to the spikes, he managed, not
without considerable risk, to draw up his female companion. Once over
the iron spikes, Bess exhibited no reluctance to be let down on the
other side of the wall. Having seen his mistress safe down, Jack
instantly descended, leaving the best part of his clothes, as a memorial
of his flight, to the jailor.

And thus he effected his escape from the New Prison.




CHAPTER V.

The Disguise.


In a hollow in the meadows behind the prison whence Jack Sheppard had
escaped,--for, at this time, the whole of the now thickly-peopled
district north of Clerkenwell Bridewell was open country, stretching out
in fertile fields in the direction of Islington--and about a quarter of
a mile off, stood a solitary hovel, known as Black Mary's Hole. This
spot, which still retains its name, acquired the appellation from an old
crone who lived there, and who, in addition to a very equivocal
character for honesty, enjoyed the reputation of being a witch. Without
inquiring into the correctness of the latter part of the story, it may
be sufficient to state, that Black Mary was a person in whom Jack
Sheppard thought he could confide, and, as Edgeworth Bess was incapable
of much further exertion, he determined to leave her in the old woman's
care till the following night, while he shifted for himself and
fulfilled his design--for, however rash or hazardous a project might be,
if once conceived, Jack always executed it,--of visiting Jonathan Wild
at his house in the Old Bailey.

It was precisely two o'clock on the morning of Whit-monday, the 25th of
May 1724, when the remarkable escape before detailed was completed: and,
though it wanted full two hours to daybreak, the glimmer of a waning
moon prevented it from being totally dark. Casting a hasty glance, as he
was about to turn an angle of the wall, at the great gates and upper
windows of the prison, and perceiving no symptoms of pursuit, Jack
proceeded towards the hovel at a very deliberate pace, carefully
assisting his female companion over every obstacle in the road, and
bearing her in his arms when, as was more than once the case, she sank
from fright and exhaustion. In this way he crossed one or two public
gardens and a bowling-green,--the neighbourhood of Clerkenwell then
abounded in such places of amusement,--passed the noted Ducking Pond,
where Black Mary had been frequently immersed; and, striking off to the
left across the fields, arrived in a few minutes at his destination.

Descending the hollow, or rather excavation,--for it was an old disused
clay-pit, at the bottom of which the cottage was situated,--he speedily
succeeded in arousing the ancient sibyl, and having committed Edgeworth
Bess to her care, with a promise of an abundant reward in case she
watched diligently over her safety, and attended to her comforts till
his return,--to all which Black Mary readily agreed,--he departed with a
heart lightened of half its load.

Jack's first object was to seek out Blueskin, whom he had no doubt he
should find at the New Mint, at Wapping, for the Old Mint no longer
afforded a secure retreat to the robber; and, with this view, he
made the best of his way along a bye-lane leading towards
Hockley-in-the-Hole. He had not proceeded far when he was alarmed by the
tramp of a horse, which seemed to be rapidly approaching, and he had
scarcely time to leap the hedge and conceal himself behind a tree, when
a tall man, enveloped in an ample cloak, with his hat pulled over his
brows, rode by at full speed. Another horseman followed quickly at the
heels of the first; but just as he passed the spot where Jack stood, his
steed missed its footing, and fell. Either ignorant of the accident, or
heedless of it, the foremost horseman pursued his way without even
turning his head.

Conceiving the opportunity too favourable to be lost, Jack sprang
suddenly over the hedge, and before the man, who was floundering on the
ground with one foot in the stirrup, could extricate himself from his
embarrassing position, secured his pistols, which he drew from the
holsters, and held them to his head. The fellow swore lustily, in a
voice which Jack instantly recognised as that of Quilt Arnold, and
vainly attempted to rise and draw his sword.

"Dog!" thundered Sheppard, putting the muzzle of the pistol so close to
the janizary's ear, that the touch of the cold iron made him start,
"don't you know me?"

"Blood and thunder!" exclaimed Quilt, opening his eyes with
astonishment. "It can't be Captain Sheppard!"

"It _is_," replied Jack; "and you had better have met the devil on your
road than me. Do you remember what I said when you took me at the Mint
four days ago? I told you my turn would come. It _has_ come,--and sooner
than you expected."

"So I find, Captain," rejoined Quilt, submissively; "but you're too
noble-hearted to take advantage of my situation. Besides, I acted for
others, and not for myself."

"I know it," replied Sheppard, "and therefore I spare your life."

"I was sure you wouldn't injure me, Captain," remarked Quilt, in a
wheedling tone, while he felt about for his sword; "you're far too brave
to strike a fallen man."

"Ah! traitor!" cried Jack, who had noticed the movement; "make such
another attempt, and it shall cost you your life." So saying, he
unbuckled the belt to which the janizary's hanger was attached, and
fastened it to his own girdle.

"And now," he continued, sternly, "was it your master who has just
ridden by?"

"No," answered Quilt, sullenly.

"Who, then?" demanded Jack. "Speak, or I fire!"

"Well, if you _will_ have it, it's Sir Rowland Trenchard."

"Sir Rowland Trenchard!" echoed Jack, in amazement. "What are you doing
with him?"

"It's a long story, Captain, and I've no breath to tell it,--unless you
choose to release me," rejoined Quilt.

"Get up, then," said Jack, freeing his foot from the stirrup.
"Now--begin."

Quilt, however, seemed unwilling to speak.

"I should be sorry to proceed to extremities," continued Sheppard, again
raising the pistol.

"Well, since you force me to betray my master's secrets," replied Quilt,
sullenly, "I've ridden express to Manchester to deliver a message to Sir
Rowland."

"Respecting Thames Darrell?" observed Jack.

"Why, how the devil did you happen to guess that?" cried the janizary.

"No matter," replied Sheppard. "I'm glad to find I'm right. You informed
Sir Rowland that Thames Darrell was returned?"

"Exactly so," replied Quilt, "and he instantly decided upon returning to
London with me. We've ridden post all the way, and I'm horribly tired,
or you wouldn't have mastered me so easily."

"Perhaps not," replied Jack, to whom an idea had suddenly occurred.
"Now, Sir, I'll trouble you for your coat. I've left mine on the spikes
of the New Prison, and must borrow yours."

"Why, surely you can't be in earnest, Captain. You wouldn't rob Mr.
Wild's chief janizary?"

"I'd rob Mr. Wild himself if I met him," retorted Jack. "Come, off with
it, sirrah, or I'll blow out your brains, in the first place, and strip
you afterwards."

"Well, rather than you should commit so great a crime, Captain, here it
is," replied Quilt, handing him the garment in question. "Anything
else?"

"Your waistcoat."

"'Zounds! Captain, I shall get my death of cold. I was in hopes you'd be
content with my hat and wig."

"I shall require them as well," rejoined Sheppard; "and your boots."

"My boots! Fire and fury! They won't fit you; they are too large.
Besides, how am I to ride home without them?"

"Don't distress yourself," returned Jack, "you shall walk. Now," he
added, as his commands were reluctantly obeyed, "help me on with them."

Quilt knelt down, as if he meant to comply; but, watching his
opportunity, he made a sudden grasp at Sheppard's leg, with the
intention of overthrowing him.

But Jack was too nimble for him. Striking out his foot, he knocked half
a dozen teeth down the janizary's throat; and, seconding the kick with a
blow on the head from the butt-end of the pistol, stretched him,
senseless and bleeding on the ground.

"Like master like man," observed Jack as he rolled the inanimate body to
the side of the road. "From Jonathan Wild's confidential servant what
could be expected but treachery?"

With this, he proceeded to dress himself in Quilt Arnold's clothes,
pulled the wig over his face and eyes so as completely to conceal his
features, slouched the hat over his brows, drew the huge boots above his
knees, and muffled himself up in the best way he could. On searching the
coat, he found, amongst other matters, a mask, a key, and a pocket-book.
The latter appeared to contain several papers, which Jack carefully put
by, in the hope that they might turn out of importance in a scheme of
vengeance which he meditated against the thief-taker. He then mounted
the jaded hack, which had long since regained its legs, and was quietly
browsing the grass at the road-side, and, striking spurs into its side,
rode off. He had not proceeded far when he encountered Sir Rowland, who,
having missed his attendant, had returned to look after him.

"What has delayed you?" demanded the knight impatiently.

"My horse has had a fall," replied Jack, assuming to perfection--for he
was a capital mimic,--the tones of Quilt Arnold. "It was some time
before I could get him to move."

"I fancied I heard voices," rejoined Sir Rowland.

"So did I," answered Jack; "we had better move on. This is a noted place
for highwaymen."

"I thought you told me that the rascal who has so long been the terror
of the town--Jack Sheppard--was in custody."

"So he is," returned Jack; "but there's no saying how long he may remain
so. Besides, there are greater rascals than Jack Sheppard at liberty,
Sir Rowland."

Sir Rowland made no reply, but angrily quickened his pace. The pair then
descended Saffron-hill, threaded Field-lane, and, entering Holborn,
passed over the little bridge which then crossed the muddy waters of
Fleet-ditch, mounted Snow-hill, and soon drew in the bridle before
Jonathan Wild's door. Aware of Quilt Arnold's mode of proceeding, Jack
instantly dismounted, and, instead of knocking, opened the door with the
pass-key. The porter instantly made his appearance, and Sheppard ordered
him to take care of the horses.

"Well, what sort of journey have you had, Quilt?" asked the man as he
hastened to assist Sir Rowland to dismount.

"Oh! we've lost no time, as you perceive," replied Jack. "Is the
governor within?"

"Yes; you'll find him in the audience-chamber. He has got Blueskin with
him."

"Ah! indeed! what's he doing here?" inquired Jack.

"Come to buy off Jack Sheppard, I suppose," replied the fellow. "But it
won't do. Mr. Wild has made up his mind, and, when that's the case, all
the persuasion on earth won't turn him. Jack will be tried to-morrow;
and, as sure as my name's Obadiah Lemon he'll take up his quarters at
the King's-Head," pointing to Newgate, "over the way."

"Well, we shall see," replied Jack. "Look to the horses, Obadiah. This
way, Sir Rowland."

As familiar as Quilt Arnold himself with every part of Wild's mysterious
abode, as well as with the ways of its inmates, Jack, without a
moment's hesitation, took up a lamp which was burning in the hall, and
led his companion up the great stone stairs. Arrived at the
audience-chamber, he set down the light upon a stand, threw open the
door, and announced in a loud voice, but with the perfect intonation of
the person he represented,--"Sir Rowland Trenchard."

Jonathan, who was engaged in conversation with Blueskin, instantly
arose, and bowed with cringing ceremoniousness to the knight. The latter
haughtily returned his salutation, and flung himself, as if exhausted,
into a chair.

"You've arrived sooner than I expected, Sir Rowland," observed the
thief-taker. "Lost no time on the road--eh!--I didn't expect you till
to-morrow at the earliest. Excuse me an instant while I dismiss this
person.--You've your answer, Blueskin," he added, pushing that
individual, who seemed unwilling to depart, towards the door; "it's
useless to urge the matter further. Jack is registered in the Black
Book."

"One word before I go," urged Blueskin.

"Not a syllable," replied Wild. "If you talk as long as an Old Bailey
counsel, you'll not alter my determination."

"Won't my life do as well as his?" supplicated the other.

"Humph!" exclaimed Jonathan, doubtfully. "And you would surrender
yourself--eh?"

"I'll surrender myself at once, if you'll engage to bring him off; and
you'll get the reward from old Wood. It's two hundred pounds. Recollect
that."

"Faithful fellow!" murmured Jack. "I forgive him his disobedience."

"Will you do it?" persisted Blueskin.

"No," replied Wild; "and I've only listened to your absurd proposal to
see how far your insane attachment to this lad would carry you."

"I _do_ love him," cried Blueskin, "and that's the long and short of it.
I've taught him all he can do; and there isn't his fellow, and never
will be again. I've seen many a clever cracksman, but never one like
him. If you hang Jack Sheppard, you'll cut off the flower o' the
purfession. But I'll not believe it of you. It's all very well to read
him a lesson, and teach him obedience; but you've gone far enough for
that."

"Not quite," rejoined the thief-taker, significantly.

"Well," growled Blueskin, "you've had my offer."

"And you my warning," retorted Wild. "Good night!"

"Blueskin," whispered Jack, in his natural tones, as the other passed
him, "wait without."

"Power o' mercy!" cried Blueskin starting.

"What's the matter?" demanded Jonathan, harshly.

"Nothin'--nothin'," returned Blueskin; "only I thought--"

"You saw the hangman, no doubt," said Jack. "Take courage, man; it is
only Quilt Arnold. Come, make yourself scarce. Don't you see Mr. Wild's
busy." And then he added, in an under tone, "Conceal yourself outside,
and be within call."

Blueskin nodded, and left the room. Jack affected to close the door, but
left it slightly ajar.

"What did you say to him?" inquired Jonathan, suspiciously.

"I advised him not to trouble you farther about Jack Sheppard," answered
the supposed janizary.

"He seems infatuated about the lad," observed Wild. "I shall be obliged
to hang him to keep him company. And now, Sir Rowland," he continued,
turning to the knight, "to our own concerns. It's a long time since we
met, eight years and more. I hope you've enjoyed your health. 'Slife!
you are wonderfully altered. I should scarcely have known you."

The knight was indeed greatly changed. Though not much passed the middle
term of life, he seemed prematurely stricken with old age. His frame was
wasted, and slightly bent; his eyes were hollow, his complexion haggard,
and his beard, which had remained unshorn during his hasty journey, was
perfectly white. His manner, however, was as stern and haughty as ever,
and his glances retained their accustomed fire.

"I did not come hither to consult you as to the state of my health,
Sir," he observed, displeased by Jonathan's allusion to the alteration
in his appearance.

"True," replied Wild. "You were no doubt surprised by the unlooked-for
intelligence I sent you of your nephew's return?"

"Was it _unlooked-for_ on your part?" demanded the knight,
distrustfully.

"On my soul, yes," rejoined Jonathan. "I should as soon have expected
the bones of Tom Sheppard to reunite themselves and walk out of that
case, as Thames Darrell to return. The skipper, Van Galgebrok, affirmed
to me,--nay, gave me the additional testimony of two of his crew,--that
he was thrown overboard. But it appears he was picked up by fishermen,
and carried to France, where he has remained ever since, and where it
would have been well for him if he had remained altogether."

"Have you seen him?" asked Trenchard.

"I have," replied Wild; "and nothing but the evidence of my senses would
have made me believe he was living, after the positive assurance I
received to the contrary. He is at present with Mr. Wood,--the person
whom you may remember adopted him,--at Dollis Hill, near Willesden; and
it's a singular but fortunate circumstance, so far as we are concerned,
that Mrs. Wood chanced to be murdered by Blueskin, the fellow who just
left the room, on the very night of his return, as it has thrown the
house into such confusion, and so distracted them, that he has had no
time as yet for hostile movements."

"And what course do you propose to pursue in reference to him?" asked
Sir Rowland.

"My plan is a very simple one," rejoined the thief-taker smiling
bitterly. "I would treat him as you treated his father, Sir Rowland."

"Murder him!" cried Trenchard shuddering.

"Ay, murder him, if you like the term," returned Wild. "I should call it
putting him out of the way. But no matter how you phrase it, the end is
the same."

"I cannot consent to it," replied Sir Rowland firmly. "Since the sea
has spared him, I will spare him. It is in vain to struggle against the
arm of fate. I will shed no more blood."

"And perish upon the gibbet," rejoined Jonathan contemptuously.

"Flight is still left me," replied Trenchard. "I can escape to France."

"And do you think I'll allow you to depart," cried Jonathan in a
menacing tone, "and compromise _my_ safety? No, no. We are linked
together in this matter, and must go through with it. You cannot--shall
not retreat."

"Death and hell!" cried Sir Rowland, rising and drawing his sword; "do
you think you can shackle my free will, villain?"

"In this particular instance I do, Sir Rowland," replied Jonathan,
calmly, "because you are wholly in my power. But be patient, I am your
fast friend. Thames Darrell MUST die. Our mutual safety requires it.
Leave the means to me."

"More blood! more blood!" cried Trenchard, passing his hand with agony
across his brow. "Shall I never banish those horrible phantoms from my
couch--the father with his bleeding breast and dripping hair!--the
mother with her wringing hands and looks of vengeance and reproach!--And
must another be added to their number--their son! Horror!--let me be
spared this new crime! And yet the gibbet--my name tarnished--my
escutcheon blotted by the hangman!--No, I cannot submit to that."

"I should think not," observed Jonathan, who had some practice in the
knight's moods, and knew how to humour him. "It's a miserable weakness
to be afraid of bloodshed.--The general who gives an order for wholesale
carnage never sleeps a wink the less soundly for the midnight groans of
his victims, and we should deride him as a coward if he did. And life is
much the same, whether taken in battle, on the couch, or by the
road-side. Besides those whom I've slain with my own hands, I've
brought upwards of thirty persons to the gallows. Most of their relics
are in yonder cases; but I don't remember that any of them have
disturbed my rest. The mode of destruction makes no difference. It's
precisely the same thing to me to bid my janizaries cut Thames Darrell's
throat, as to order Jack Sheppard's execution."

As Jonathan said this, Jack's hand involuntarily sought a pistol.

"But to the point," continued Wild, unconscious of the peril in which
the remark had placed him,--"to the point. On the terms that procured
your liberation from Newgate, I will free you from this new danger."

"Those terms were a third of my estate," observed Trenchard bitterly.

"What of that," rejoined Jonathan. "Any price was better than your head.
If Thames Darrell escapes, you will lose both life and property."

"True, true," replied the knight, with an agonized look; "there is no
alternative."

"None whatever," rejoined Wild. "Is it a bargain?"

"Take half of my estate--take all--my life, if you will--I am weary of
it!" cried Trenchard passionately.

"No," replied Jonathan, "I'll not take you at your word, as regards the
latter proposition. We shall both, I hope, live to enjoy our
shares--long after Thames Darrell is forgotten--ha! ha! A third of your
estate I accept. And as these things should always be treated as matters
of business, I'll just draw up a memorandum of our arrangement."

And, as he spoke, he took up a sheet of paper, and hastily traced a few
lines upon it.

"Sign this," he said, pushing the document towards Sir Rowland.

The knight mechanically complied with his request.

"Enough!" cried Jonathan, eagerly pocketing the memorandum. "And now, in
return for your liberality, I'll inform you of a secret with which it is
important you should be acquainted."

"A secret!" exclaimed Trenchard. "Concerning whom?"

"Mrs. Sheppard," replied Jonathan, mysteriously.

"Mrs. Sheppard!" echoed Jack, surprised out of his caution.

"Ah!" exclaimed Wild, looking angrily towards his supposed attendant.

"I beg pardon, Sir," replied Jack, with the accent and manner of the
janizary; "I was betrayed into the exclamation by my surprise that
anything in which Sir Rowland Trenchard was interested could have
reference to so humble a person as Mrs. Sheppard."

"Be pleased, then, in future not to let your surprise find vent in
words," rejoined Jonathan, sternly. "My servants, like Eastern mutes,
must have eyes, and ears,--and _hands_, if need be,--but no tongues. You
understand me, sirrah?"

"Perfectly," replied Jack. "I'm dumb."

"Your secret?" demanded Trenchard, impatiently.

"I need not remind you, Sir Rowland," replied Wild, "that you had two
sisters--Aliva and Constance."

"Both are dead," observed the knight, gloomily.

"Not so;" answered Wild. "Constance is yet living."

"Constance alive? Impossible!" ejaculated Trenchard.

"I've proofs to the contrary," replied Jonathan.

"If this is the case, where is she?"

"In Bedlam," replied the thief-taker, with a Satanic grin.

"Gracious Heaven!" exclaimed the knight, upon whom a light seemed
suddenly to break. "You mentioned Mrs. Sheppard. What has she to with
Constance Trenchard?"

"Mrs. Sheppard _is_ Constance Trenchard," replied Jonathan, maliciously.

Here Jack Sheppard was unable to repress an exclamation of astonishment.

"Again," cried Jonathan, sternly: "beware!"

"What!" vociferated Trenchard. "My sister the wife of one condemned
felon! the parent of another! It cannot be."

"It _is_ so, nevertheless," replied Wild. "Stolen by a gipsy when
scarcely five years old, Constance Trenchard, after various
vicissitudes, was carried to London, where she lived in great poverty,
with the dregs of society. It is useless to trace out her miserable
career; though I can easily do so if you require it. To preserve
herself, however, from destitution, or what she considered worse, she
wedded a journeyman carpenter, named Sheppard."

"Alas! that one so highly born should submit to such a degradation?"
groaned the knight.

"I see nothing surprising in it," rejoined Jonathan. "In the first
place, she had no knowledge of her birth; and, consequently, no false
pride to get rid of. In the second, she was wretchedly poor, and
assailed by temptations of which you can form no idea. Distress like
hers might palliate far greater offences than she ever committed. With
the same inducements we should all do the same thing. Poor girl! she was
beautiful once; so beautiful as to make _me_, who care little for the
allurements of women, fancy myself enamoured of her."

Jack Sheppard again sought his pistol, and was only withheld from
levelling it at the thief-taker's head, by the hope that he might gather
some further information respecting his mother. And he had good reason
before long to congratulate himself on his forbearance.

"What proof have you of the truth of this story?" inquired Trenchard.

"This," replied Jonathan, taking a paper from a portfolio, and handing
it to the knight, "this written evidence, signed by Martha Cooper, the
gipsy, by whom the girl was stolen, and who was afterwards executed for
a similar crime. It is attested, you will observe, by the Reverend Mr.
Purney, the present ordinary of Newgate."

"I am acquainted with Mr. Purney's hand-writing," said Jack, advancing,
"and can at once decide whether this is a forgery or not."

"Look at it, then," said Wild, giving him the portfolio.

"It's the ordinary's signature, undoubtedly," replied Jack.

And as he gave back the portfolio to Sir Rowland he contrived,
unobserved, to slip the precious document into his sleeve, and from
thence into his pocket.

"And, does any of our bright blood flow in the veins of a ruffianly
housebreaker?" cried Trenchard, with a look of bewilderment. "I'll not
believe it."

"Others may, if you won't," muttered Jack, retiring. "Thank Heaven! I'm
not basely born."

"Now, mark me," said Jonathan, "and you'll find I don't do things by
halves. By your father, Sir Montacute Trenchard's will, you are
aware,--and, therefore, I need not repeat it, except for the special
purpose I have in view,--you are aware, I say, that, by this will, in
case your sister Aliva, died without issue, or, on the death of such
issue, the property reverts to Constance and _her_ issue."

"I hear," said Sir Rowland, moodily.

"And I," muttered Jack.

"Thames Darrell once destroyed," pursued Jonathan. "Constance--or,
rather, Mrs. Sheppard--becomes entitled to the estates; which
eventually--provided he escaped the gallows--would descend to her son."

"Ha!" exclaimed Jack, drawing in his breath, and leaning forward with
intense curiosity.

"Well, Sir?" gasped Sir Rowland.

"But this need give you no uneasiness," pursued Jonathan; "Mrs.
Sheppard, as I told you, is in Bedlam, an incurable maniac; while her
son is in the New Prison, whence he will only be removed to Newgate and
Tyburn."

"So you think," muttered Jack, between his ground teeth.

"To make your mind perfectly easy on the score of Mrs. Sheppard,"
continued Jonathan; "after we've disposed of Thames Darrell, I'll visit
her in Bedlam; and, as I understand I form one of her chief terrors,
I'll give her such a fright that I'll engage she shan't long survive
it."

"Devil!" muttered Jack, again grasping his pistol. But, feeling secure
of vengeance, he determined to abide his time.

"And now, having got rid of the minor obstacles," said Jonathan, "I'll
submit a plan for the removal of the main difficulty. Thames Darrell,
I've said, is at Mr. Wood's at Dollis Hill, wholly unsuspicious of any
designs against him, and, in fact, entirely ignorant of your being
acquainted with his return, or even of his existence. In this state, it
will be easy to draw him into a snare. To-morrow night--or rather
to-night, for we are fast verging on another day--I propose to lure him
out of the house by a stratagem which I am sure will prove infallible;
and, then, what so easy as to knock him on the head. To make sure work
of it, I'll superintend the job myself. Before midnight, I'll answer for
it, it shall be done. My janizaries shall go with me. You hear what I
say, Quilt?" he added, looking at Jack.

"I do," replied Sheppard.

"Abraham Mendez will like the task,--for he has entertained a hatred to
the memory of Thames Darrell ever since he received the wound in the
head, when the two lads attempted to break out of St. Giles's
round-house. I've despatched him to the New Prison. But I expect him
back every minute."

"The New Prison!" exclaimed Sheppard. "What is he gone there for?"

"With a message to the turnkey to look after his prisoner," replied
Wild, with a cunning smile. "Jack Sheppard had a visitor, I understand,
yesterday, and may make an attempt to escape. It's as well to be on the
safe side."

"It is," replied Jack.

At this moment, his quick ears detected the sound of footsteps on the
stairs. He drew both his pistols, and prepared for a desperate
encounter.

"There is another mystery I would have solved," said Trenchard,
addressing Wild; "you have told me much, but not enough."

"What do you require further?" asked Jonathan.

"The name and rank of Thames Darrell's father," said the knight.

"Another time," replied the thief-taker, evasively.

"I will have it now," rejoined Trenchard, "or our agreement is void."

"You cannot help yourself, Sir Rowland," replied Jonathan,
contemptuously.

"Indeed!" replied the knight, drawing his sword, "the secret, villain,
or I will force it from you."

Before Wild could make any reply, the door was thrown violently open,
and Abraham Mendez rushed into the room, with a face of the utmost
consternation.

"He hash eshcaped!" cried the Jew.

"Who? Jack!" exclaimed Jonathan.

"Yesh," replied Abraham. "I vent to de New Prish'n, and on wishitin' his
shel vid de turnkey, vot should ve find but de shains on de ground, de
vinder broken, and Jack and Agevorth Besh gone."

"Damnation!" cried Jonathan, stamping his foot with uncontrollable rage.
"I'd rather have given a thousand pounds than this had happened. But he
might have broken out of prison, and yet not got over the wall of
Clerkenwell Bridewell. Did you search the yard, fool?"

"Ve did," replied Abraham; "and found his fine goat and ruffles torn to
shtrips on de shpikes near de creat cate. It vosh plain he vent dat
vay."

Jonathan gave utterance to a torrent of imprecations.

While he thus vented his rage, the door again opened, and Quilt Arnold
rushed into the room, bleeding, and half-dressed.

"'Sblood! what's this!" cried Jonathan, in the utmost surprise. "Quilt
Arnold, is that you?"

"It is, Sir," sputtered the janizary. "I've been robbed, maltreated, and
nearly murdered by Jack Sheppard."

"By Jack Sheppard!" exclaimed the thief-taker.

"Yes; and I hope you'll take ample vengeance upon him," said Quilt.

"I will, when I catch him, rely on it," rejoined Wild.

"You needn't go far to do that," returned Quilt; "there he stands."

"Ay, here I am," said Jack, throwing off his hat and wig, and marching
towards the group, amongst whom there was a general movement of surprise
at his audacity. "Sir Rowland, I salute you as your nephew."

"Back, villain!" said the knight, haughtily. "I disown you. The whole
story of your relationship is a fabrication."

"Time will show," replied Jack with equal haughtiness. "But, however, it
may turn out, I disown _you_."

"Well, Jack," said Jonathan, who had looked at him with surprise not
unmixed with admiration, "you are a bold and clever fellow, I must
allow. Were I not Jonathan Wild, I'd be Jack Sheppard. I'm almost sorry
I've sworn to hang you. But, it can't be helped. I'm a slave to my word.
Were I to let you go, you'd say I feared you. Besides, you've secrets
which must not be disclosed. Nab and Quilt to the door! Jack, you are my
prisoner."

"And you flatter yourself you can detain me?" laughed Jack.

"At least I'll try," replied Jonathan, sarcastically. "You must be a
cleverer lad than even _I_ take you for, if you get out of this place."

"What ho! Blueskin!" shouted Jack.

"Here I am, Captain," cried a voice from without. And the door was
suddenly thrown open, and the two janizaries felled to the ground by the
strong arm of the stalwart robber.

"Your boast, you see, was a little premature, Mr. Wild," said Sheppard.
"Adieu, my worthy uncle. Fortunately, I've secured the proof of my
birth."

"Confusion!" thundered Wild. "Close the doors below! Loose the dogs!
Curses! they don't hear me! I'll ring the alarm-bell." And he raised his
arm with the intention of executing his purpose, when a ball from Jack's
pistol passed through the back of his hand, shattering the limb. "Aha!
my lad!" he cried without appearing to regard the pain of the wound;
"now I'll show you no quarter." And, with the uninjured hand he drew a
pistol, which he fired, but without effect, at Jack.

"Fly, Captain, fly!" vociferated Blueskin; "I shan't be able to keep
these devils down. Fly! they shall knock me on the head--curse
'em!--before they shall touch you."

"Come along!" cried Jack, darting through the door. "The key's on the
outside--quick! quick!"

Instantly alive to this chance, Blueskin broke away. Two shots were
fired at him by Jonathan; one of which passed through his hat, and the
other through the fleshy part of his arm; but he made good his retreat.
The door was closed--locked,--and the pair were heard descending the
stairs.

"Hell's curses!" roared Jonathan. "They'll escape. Not a moment is to be
lost."

So saying, he took hold of a ring in the floor, and disclosed a flight
of steps, down which he hurried, followed by the janizaries. This means
of communication instantly brought them to the lobby. But Jack and his
companion were already gone.

Jonathan threw open the street-door. Upon the pavement near the court
lay the porter, who had been prostrated by a blow from the butt-end of a
pistol. The man, who was just able to move, pointed towards
Giltspur-street. Jonathan looked in that direction, and beheld the
fugitives riding off in triumph.

"To-night it is _their_ turn," said Jonathan, binding up his wounded
fingers with a handkerchief. "To-morrow it will be _mine_."




CHAPTER VI.

Winifred receives two Proposals.


The tragical affair at Dollis Hill, it need scarcely be said, was a
dreadful blow to the family. Mr. Wood bore up with great fortitude
against the shock, attended the inquest, delivered his evidence with
composure, and gave directions afterwards for the funeral, which took
place on the day but one following--Sunday. As soon, however, as the
last solemn rites were over, and the remains of the unfortunate woman
committed to their final resting-place in Willesden churchyard, his
firmness completely deserted him, and he sank beneath the weight of his
affliction. It was fortunate that by this time Winifred had so far
recovered, as to be able to afford her father the best and only solace
that, under the circumstances, he could have received,--her personal
attentions.

The necessity which had previously existed of leaving the ghastly
evidence of the murderous deed undisturbed,--the presence of the mangled
corpse,--the bustle of the inquest, at which her attendance was
required,--all these circumstances produced a harrowing effect upon the
young girl's imagination. But when all was over, a sorrowful calm
succeeded, and, if not free from grief, she was tranquil. As to Thames,
though deeply and painfully affected by the horrible occurrence that had
marked his return to his old friends, he was yet able to control his
feelings, and devote himself to the alleviation of the distress of the
more immediate sufferers by the calamity.

It was Sunday evening--a soft delicious evening, and, from the happy,
_cheerful_ look of the house, none would have dreamed of the dismal
tragedy so lately acted within its walls. The birds were singing
blithely amid the trees,--the lowing of the cows resounded from the
yard,--a delicious perfume from the garden was wafted through the open
window,--at a distance, the church-bells of Willesden were heard tolling
for evening service. All these things spoke of peace;--but there are
seasons when the pleasantest external influences have a depressing
effect on the mind, by painfully recalling past happiness. So, at least,
thought one of two persons who were seated together in a small
back-parlour of the house at Dollis Hill. She was a lovely girl, attired
in deep mourning, and having an expression of profound sorrow on her
charming features. Her companion was a portly handsome man, also dressed
in a full suit of the deepest mourning, with the finest of lace at his
bosom and wrists, and a sword in a black sheath by his side. These
persons were Mr. Kneebone and Winifred.

The funeral, it has just been said, took place on that day. Amongst
others who attended the sad ceremony was Mr. Kneebone. Conceiving
himself called upon, as the intimate friend of the deceased, to pay this
last tribute of respect to her memory, he appeared as one of the chief
mourners. Overcome by his affliction, Mr. Wood had retired to his own
room, where he had just summoned Thames. Much to her annoyance,
therefore, Winifred was left alone with the woollen-draper, who
following up a maxim of his own, "that nothing was gained by too much
bashfulness," determined to profit by the opportunity. He had only been
prevented, indeed, by a fear of Mrs. Wood from pressing his suit long
ago. This obstacle removed, he thought he might now make the attempt.
Happen what might, he could not be in a worse position.

"We have had a sad loss, my dear Winifred," he began,--"for I must use
the privilege of an old friend, and address you by that familiar
name,--we have had a sad loss in the death of your lamented parent,
whose memory I shall for ever revere."

Winifred's eyes filled with tears. This was not exactly what the
woollen-draper desired. So he resolved to try another tack.

"What a very remarkable thing it is," he observed, applying to his
snuff-box, "that Thames Darrell, whom we all supposed dead,"--Kneebone
in his heart sincerely wished he _had_ been so,--"should turn out to be
alive after all. Strange, I shouldn't know him when he called on me."

"It _is_ strange," replied Winifred, artlessly. "_I_ knew him at once."

"Of course," rejoined Kneebone, a little maliciously, "but that's easily
accounted for. May I be permitted, as a very old and very dear friend of
your lamented parent, whose loss I shall ever deplore, to ask you one
question?"

"Undoubtedly," replied Winifred.

"And you will answer it frankly?"

"Certainly."

"Now for it," thought the woollen-draper, "I shall, at least, ascertain
how the land lies.--Well, then, my dear," he added aloud, "do you still
entertain the strong attachment you did to Captain Darrell?"

Winifred's cheeks glowed with blushes, and fixing her eyes, which
flashed with resentment, upon the questioner, she said:

"I have promised to answer your question, and I will do so. I love him
as a brother."

"_Only_ as a brother?" persisted Kneebone.

If Winifred remained silent, her looks would have disarmed a person of
less assurance than the woollen-draper.

"If you knew how much importance I attach to your answer," he continued
passionately, "you would not refuse me one. Were Captain Darrell to
offer you his hand, would you accept it?"

"Your impertinence deserves very different treatment, Sir," said
Winifred; "but, to put an end to this annoyance, I will tell you--I
would not."

"And why not?" asked Kneebone, eagerly.

"I will not submit to be thus interrogated," said Winifred, angrily.

"In the name of your lamented parent, whose memory I shall for ever
revere, I implore you to answer me," urged Kneebone, "why--why would you
not accept him?"

"Because our positions are different," replied Winifred, who could not
resist this appeal to her feelings.

"You are a paragon of prudence and discretion," rejoined the
woollen-draper, drawing his chair closer to hers. "Disparity of rank is
ever productive of unhappiness in the married state. When Captain
Darrell's birth is ascertained, I've no doubt he'll turn out a
nobleman's son. At least, I hope so for his sake as well as my own," he
added, mentally. "He has quite the air of one. And now, my angel, that I
am acquainted with your sentiments on this subject, I shall readily
fulfil a promise which I made to your lamented parent, whose loss I
shall ever deplore."

"A promise to my mother?" said Winifred, unsuspiciously.

"Yes, my angel, to _her_--rest her soul! She extorted it from me, and
bound me by a solemn oath to fulfil it."

"Oh! name it."

"You are a party concerned. Promise me that you will not disobey the
injunctions of her whose memory we must both of us ever revere. Promise
me."

"If in my power--certainly. But, what is it! What _did_ you promise?"

"To offer you my heart, my hand, my life," replied Kneebone, falling at
her feet.

"Sir!" exclaimed Winifred, rising.

"Inequality of rank can be no bar to _our_ union," continued Kneebone.
"Heaven be praised, _I_ am not the son of a nobleman."

In spite of her displeasure, Winifred could not help smiling at the
absurdity of this address. Taking this for encouragement, her suitor
proceeded still more extravagantly. Seizing her hand he covered it with
kisses.

"Adorable girl!" he cried, in the most impassioned tone, and with the
most impassioned look he could command. "Adorable girl, I have long
loved you to desperation. Your lamented mother, whose loss I shall ever
deplore, perceived my passion and encouraged it. Would she were alive to
back my suit!"

"This is beyond all endurance," said Winifred, striving to withdraw her
hand. "Leave me, Sir; I insist."

"Never!" rejoined Kneebone, with increased ardour,--"never, till I
receive from your own lips the answer which is to make me the happiest
or the most miserable of mankind. Hear me, adorable girl! You know not
the extent of my devotion. No mercenary consideration influences me.
Love--admiration for your matchless beauty alone sways me. Let your
father--if he chooses, leave all his wealth to his adopted son. I care
not. Possessed of _you_, I shall have a treasure such as kings could not
boast."

"Pray cease this nonsense," said Winifred, "and quit the room, or I will
call for assistance."

At this juncture, the door opened, and Thames entered the room. As the
woollen-draper's back was towards him, he did not perceive him, but
continued his passionate addresses.

"Call as you please, beloved girl," he cried, "I will not stir till I am
answered. You say that you only love Captain Darrell as a brother--"

"Mr. Kneebone!"

"That you would not accept him were he to offer--"

"Be silent, Sir."

"He then," continued the woollen-draper, "is no longer considered--"

"How, Sir?" cried Thames, advancing, "what is the meaning of your
reference to my name? Have you dared to insult this lady? If so--"

"Insult her!" replied Kneebone, rising, and endeavouring to hide his
embarrassment under a look of defiance. "Far from, it, Sir. I have made
her an honourable proposal of marriage, in compliance with the request
of her lamented parent, whose memory--"

"Dare to utter that falsehood in my hearing again, scoundrel,"
interrupted Thames fiercely, "and I will put it out of your power to
repeat the offence. Leave the room! leave the house, Sir! and enter it
again at your peril."

"I shall do neither, Sir," replied Kneebone, "unless I am requested by
this lady to withdraw,--in which case I shall comply with her request.
And you have to thank her presence, hot-headed boy, that I do not
chastise your insolence as it deserves."

"Go, Mr. Kneebone,--pray go!" implored Winifred. "Thames, I entreat--"

"Your wishes are my laws, beloved, girl," replied Kneebone, bowing
profoundly. "Captain Darren," he added, sternly, "you shall hear from
me."

"When you please, Sir," said Thames, coldly.

And the woollen-draper departed.

"What is all this, dear Winny?" inquired Thames, as soon as they were
alone.

"Nothing--nothing," she answered, bursting into tears. "Don't ask me
about it now."

"Winny," said Thames, tenderly, "something which that self-sufficient
fool has said has so far done me a service in enabling me to speak upon
a subject which I have long had upon my lips, but have not had courage
to utter."

"Thames!"

"You seem to doubt my love," he continued,--"you seem to think that
change of circumstances may produce some change in my affections. Hear
me then, now, before I take one step to establish my origin, or secure
my rights. Whatever those rights may be, whoever I am, my heart is
yours. Do you accept it?"

"Dear Thames!"

"Forgive this ill-timed avowal of my love. But, answer me. Am I
mistaken? Is your heart mine?"

"It is--it is; and has ever been," replied Winifred, falling upon his
neck.

Lovers' confidences should be respected. We close the chapter.




CHAPTER VII.

Jack Sheppard warns Thames Darrell.


On the following night--namely Monday,--the family assembled together,
for the first time since the fatal event, in the chamber to which Thames
had been introduced on his arrival at Dollis Hill. As this had been Mrs.
Wood's favourite sitting-room, and her image was so intimately
associated with it, neither the carpenter nor his daughter could muster
courage to enter it before. Determined, however, to conquer the feeling
as soon as possible, Wood had given orders to have the evening meal
served there; but, notwithstanding all his good resolutions upon his
first entrance, he had much ado to maintain his self-command. His wife's
portrait had been removed from the walls, and the place it had occupied
was only to be known by the cord by which it had been suspended. The
very blank, however, affected him more deeply than if it had been left.
Then a handkerchief was thrown over the cage, to prevent the bird from
singing; it was _her_ favourite canary. The flowers upon the
mantel-shelf were withered and drooping--_she_ had gathered them. All
these circumstances,--slight in themselves, but powerful in their
effect,--touched the heart of the widowed carpenter, and added to his
depression.

Supper was over. It had been discussed in silence. The cloth was
removed, and Wood, drawing the table as near the window as possible--for
it was getting dusk--put on his spectacles, and opened that sacred
volume from which the best consolation in affliction is derived, and
left the lovers--for such they may now be fairly termed--to their own
conversation. Having already expressed our determination not to betray
any confidences of this sort, which, however interesting to the parties
concerned, could not possibly be so to others, we shall omit also the
"love passages," and proceeding to such topics as may have general
interest, take up the discourse at the point when Thames Darrell
expressed his determination of starting for Manchester, as soon as Jack
Sheppard's examination had taken place.

"I am surprised we have received no summons for attendance to-day," he
remarked; "perhaps the other robber may be secured."

"Or Jack have escaped," remarked Winny.

"I don't think that's likely. But, this sad affair disposed of, I will
not rest till I have avenged my murdered parents."

"'_The avenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer_'," said Wood,
who was culling for himself certain texts from the scriptures.

"It is the voice of inspiration," said Thames; "and I receive it as a
solemn command. The villain has enjoyed his security too long."

"'_Bloody and deceitful men shall not live half their days_'," said
Wood, reading aloud another passage.

"And yet, _he_ has been spared thus long; perhaps with a wise purpose,"
rejoined Thames. "But, though the storm has spared him, _I_ will not."

"'_No doubt_,'" said Wood, who had again turned over the leaves of the
sacred volume--', "_no doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he
escaped the seas, yet vengeance suffereth not to live_'."

"No feelings of consanguinity shall stay my vengeance," said Thames,
sternly. "I will have no satisfaction but his life."

"'_Thou shalt take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer which is
guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death_'," said Wood
referring to another text.

"Do not steel your heart against him, dear Thames," interposed
Winifred.

"'_And thine eye shall not pity_,'" said her father, in a tone of
rebuke, "'_but, life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,
hand for hand, foot for foot_.'"

As these words were delivered by the carpenter with stern emphasis, a
female servant entered the room, and stated that a gentleman was at the
door, who wished to speak with Captain Darell on business of urgent
importance.

"With me?" said Thames. "Who is it?"

"He didn't give his name, Sir," replied the maid; "but he's a young
gentleman."

"Don't go near him, dear Thames," said Winifred; "he may have some ill
intention."

"Pshaw!" cried Thames. "What! refuse to see a person who desires to
speak with me. Say I will come to him."

"Law! Miss," observed the maid, "there's nothing mischievous in the
person's appearance, I'm sure. He's as nice and civil-spoken a gentleman
as need be; by the same token," she added, in an under tone, "that he
gave me a span new crown piece."

"'_The thief cometh in the night, and the troop of robbers spoileth
without_,'" said Wood, who had a text for every emergency.

"Lor' ha' mussy, Sir!--how you _do_ talk," said the woman; "this is no
robber, I'm sure. I should have known at a glance if it was. He's more
like a lord than--"

As she spoke, steps were heard approaching; the door was thrown open,
and a young man marched boldly into the room.

The intruder was handsomely, even richly, attired in a scarlet
riding-suit, embroidered with gold; a broad belt, to which a hanger was
attached, crossed his shoulders; his boots rose above his knee, and he
carried a laced hat in his hand. Advancing to the middle of the chamber,
he halted, drew himself up, and fixed his dark, expressive eyes, on
Thames Darrell. His appearance excited the greatest astonishment and
consternation amid the group. Winifred screamed. Thames sprang to his
feet, and half drew his sword, while Wood, removing his spectacles to
assure himself that his eyes did not deceive him, exclaimed in a tone
and with a look that betrayed the extremity of surprise--"Jack
Sheppard!"

"Jack Sheppard!" echoed the maid. "Is this Jack Sheppard? Oh, la! I'm
undone! We shall all have our throats cut! Oh! oh!" And she rushed,
screaming, into the passage where she fell down in a fit.

The occasion of all this confusion and dismay, meanwhile, remained
perfectly motionless; his figure erect, and with somewhat of dignity in
his demeanour. He kept his keen eyes steadily fixed on Thames, as if
awaiting to be addressed.

"Your audacity passes belief," cried the latter, as soon as his surprise
would allow him utterance. "If you have contrived to break out of your
confinement, villain, this is the last place where you ought to show
yourself."

"And, therefore, the first I would visit," replied Jack, boldly. "But,
pardon my intrusion. I was _resolved_ to see you. And, fearing you might
not come to me, I forced my way hither, even with certainty of
discomposing your friends."

"Well, villain!" replied Thames, "I know not the motive of your visit.
But, if you have come to surrender yourself to justice, it is well. You
cannot depart hence."

"Cannot?" echoed Jack, a slight smile crossing his features. "But, let
that pass. My motive in coming hither is to serve you, and save your
life. If you choose to requite me by detaining me, you are at liberty to
do so. I shall make no defence. That I am not ignorant of the reward
offered for my capture this will show," he added, taking a large placard
headed '_Murder_' from his pocket, and throwing it on the floor. "My
demeanour ought to convince you that I came with no hostile intention.
And, to show you that I have no intention of flying, I will myself close
and lock the door. There is the key. Are you now satisfied?"

"No," interposed Wood, furiously, "I shall never be satisfied till I
see you hanged on the highest gibbet at Tyburn."

"A time may come when you will be gratified, Mr. Wood," replied Jack,
calmly.

"May come!--it _will_ come!--it _shall_ come!" cried the carpenter,
shaking his hand menacingly at him. "I have some difficulty in
preventing myself from becoming your executioner. Oh! that I should have
nursed such a viper!"

"Hear me, Sir," said Jack.

"No, I won't hear you, murderer," rejoined Wood.

"I am no murderer," replied Sheppard. "I had no thought of injuring your
wife, and would have died rather than commit so foul a crime."

"Think not to delude me, audacious wretch," cried the carpenter. "Even
if you are not a principal, you are an accessory. If you had not brought
your companion here, it would not have happened. But you shall swing,
rascal,--you shall swing."

"My conscience acquits me of all share in the offence," replied Jack,
humbly. "But the past is irremediable, and I did not come hither to
exculpate myself, I came to save _your_ life," he added, turning to
Thames.

"I was not aware it was in danger," rejoined Darrell.

"Then you ought to be thankful to me for the warning. You _are_ in
danger."

"From some of your associates?"

"From your uncle, from _my_ uncle,--Sir Rowland Trenchard."

"What means this idle boasting, villain?" said Thames. "_Your_ uncle,
Sir Rowland?"

"It is no idle boasting," replied the other. "You are cousin to the
housebreaker, Jack Sheppard."

"If it were so, he would have great reason to be proud of the
relationship, truly," observed Wood, shrugging his shoulders.

"It is easy to make an assertion like this," said Thames,
contemptuously.

"And equally easy to prove it," replied Jack, giving him the paper he
had abstracted from Wild. "Read that."

Thames hastily cast his eyes over it, and transferred it, with a look
of incredulity, to Wood.

"Gracious Heavens! this is more wonderful than all the rest," cried the
carpenter, rubbing his eyes. "Thames, this is no forgery."

"You believe it, father?"

"From the bottom of my heart. I always thought Mrs. Sheppard superior to
her station."

"So did I," said Winifred. "Let me look at the paper."

"Poor soul!--poor soul!" groaned Wood, brushing the tears from his
vision. "Well, I'm glad she's spared this. Oh! Jack, Jack, you've much
to answer for!"

"I have, indeed," replied Sheppard, in a tone of contrition.

"If this document is correct," continued Wood, "and I am persuaded it is
so,--you are as unfortunate as wicked. See what your misconduct has
deprived you of--see what you might have been. This is retribution."

"I feel it," replied Jack, in a tone of agony, "and I feel it more on my
poor mother's account than my own."

"She has suffered enough for you," said Wood.

"She has, she has," said Jack, in a broken voice.

"Weep on, reprobate," cried the carpenter, a little softened. "Those
tears will do you good."

"Do not distress him, dear father," said Winifred; "he suffers deeply.
Oh, Jack! repent, while it is yet time, of your evil conduct. I will
pray for you."

"I cannot repent,--I cannot pray," replied Jack, recovering his hardened
demeanour. "I should never have been what I am, but for you."

"How so?" inquired Winifred.

"I loved you," replied Jack,--"don't start--it is over now--I loved you,
I say, as a boy. _hopelessly_, and it made me desperate. And now I find,
when it is too late, that I _might_ have deserved you--that I am as well
born as Thames Darrell. But I mustn't think of these things, or I shall
grow mad. I have said your life is in danger, Thames. Do not slight my
warning. Sir Rowland Trenchard is aware of your return to England. I saw
him last night at Jonathan Wild's, after my escape from the New Prison.
He had just arrived from Manchester, whence he had been summoned by that
treacherous thief-taker. I overheard them planning your assassination.
It is to take place to-night."

"O Heavens!" screamed Winifred, while her father lifted up his hands in
silent horror.

"And when I further tell you," continued Jack, "that, after yourself and
my mother, _I_ am the next heir to the estates of my grandfather, Sir
Montacute Trenchard, you will perhaps own that my caution is
sufficiently disinterested."

"Could I credit your wild story, I might do so," returned Thames, with a
look of perplexity.

"Here are Jonathan Wild's written instructions to Quilt Arnold,"
rejoined Sheppard, producing the pocket-book he had found in the
janizary's clothes. "This letter will vouch for me that a communication
has taken place between your enemies."

Thames glanced at the despatch, and, after a moment's reflection,
inquired, "In what way is the attempt upon my life to be made?"

"That I couldn't ascertain," replied Jack; "but I advise you to be upon
your guard. For aught I know, they may be in the neighbourhood at this
moment."

"Here!" ejaculated Wood, with a look of alarm. "Oh lord! I hope not."

"This I do know," continued Jack,--"Jonathan Wild superintends the
attack."

"Jonathan Wild!" repeated the carpenter, trembling. "Then it's all over
with us. Oh dear!--how sorry I am I ever left Wych Street. We may be all
murdered in this unprotected place, and nobody be the wiser."

"There's some one in the garden at this moment," cried Jack; "I saw a
face at the window."

"Where--where?" cried Thames.

"Don't stir," replied Jack. "I will at once convince you of the truth of
my assertions, and ascertain whether the enemy really is at hand."

So saying, he advanced towards the window, threw open the sash, and
called out in the voice of Thames Darrell, "Who's there?"

He was answered by a shot from a pistol. The ball passed over his head,
and lodged in the ceiling.

"I was right," replied Jack, returning as coolly as if nothing had
happened. "It is Jonathan. Your uncle--_our_ uncle is with him. I saw
them both."

"May I trust you?" cried Thames, eagerly.

"You may," replied Jack: "I'll fight for you to the last gasp."

"Follow me, then," cried Thames, drawing his sword, and springing
through the window.

"To the world's end," answered Jack, darting after him.

"Thames!--Thames!" cried Winifred, rushing to the window. "He will be
murdered!--Help!"

"My child!--my love!" cried Wood, dragging her forcibly back.

Two shots were fired, and presently the clashing of swords was heard
below.

After some time, the scuffle grew more and more distant, until nothing
could be heard.

Wood, meanwhile, had summoned his men-servants, and having armed them
with such weapons as could be found, they proceeded to the garden, where
the first object they encountered was Thames Darrell, extended on the
ground, and weltering in his blood. Of Jack Sheppard or the assailants
they could not discover a single trace.

As the body was borne to the house in the arms of the farming-men, Mr.
Wood fancied he heard the exulting laugh of Jonathan Wild.




CHAPTER VIII.

Old Bedlam.


When Thames Darrell and Jack Sheppard sprang through the window, they
were instantly assailed by Wild, Trenchard, and their attendants. Jack
attacked Jonathan with such fury, that he drove him into a shrubbery,
and might perhaps have come off the victor, if his foot had not slipped
as he made a desperate lunge. In this state it would have been all over
with him, as, being stunned by the fall, it was some moments before he
could recover himself, if another party had not unexpectedly come to his
rescue. This was Blueskin, who burst through the trees, and sword in
hand assaulted the thief-taker. As soon as Jack gained his legs, he
perceived Blueskin lying, as he thought, dead in the plantation, with a
severe cut across his temples, and while he was stooping to assist him,
he heard groans at a little distance. Hastening in the direction of the
sound, he discovered Thames Darrell, stretched upon the ground.

"Are you hurt, Thames?" asked Jack, anxiously.

"Not dangerously, I hope," returned Thames; "but fly--save yourself."

"Where are the assassins?" cried Sheppard.

"Gone," replied the wounded man. "They imagine their work is done. But I
may yet live to thwart them."

"I will carry you to the house, or fetch Mr. Wood," urged Jack.

"No, no," rejoined Thames; "fly--or I will not answer for your safety.
If you desire to please me, you will go."

"And leave you thus?" rejoined Jack. "I cannot do it."

"Go, I insist," cried Thames, "or take the consequences upon yourself. I
cannot protect you."

Thus urged, Jack reluctantly departed. Hastening to the spot where he
had tied his horse to a tree, he vaulted into the saddle, and rode off
across the fields,--for he was fearful of encountering the hostile
party,--till he reached the Edgeware Road. Arrived at Paddington, he
struck across Marylebone Fields,--for as yet the New Road was undreamed
of,--and never moderated his speed until he reached the city. His
destination was the New Mint. At this place of refuge, situated in the
heart of Wapping, near the river-side, he arrived in less than an hour,
in a complete state of exhaustion.

In consequence of the infamous abuse of its liberties, an act for the
entire suppression of the Old Mint was passed in the ninth year of the
reign of George the First, not many months before the date of the
present epoch of this history; and as, after the destruction of
Whitefriars, which took place in the reign of Charles the Second, owing
to the protection afforded by its inmates to the Levellers and
Fifth-monarchy-men, when the inhabitants of Alsatia crossed the water,
and settled themselves in the borough of Southwark,--so now, driven out
of their fastnesses, they again migrated, and recrossing the Thames,
settled in Wapping, in a miserable quarter between Artichoke Lane and
Nightingale Lane, which they termed the New Mint. Ousted from his old
retreat, the Cross Shovels, Baptist Kettleby opened another tavern,
conducted upon the same plan as the former, which he denominated the
Seven Cities of Refuge. His subjects, however, were no longer entirely
under his control; and, though he managed to enforce some little
attention to his commands, it was evident his authority was waning fast.
Aware that they would not be allowed to remain long unmolested, the New
Minters conducted themselves so outrageously, and with such
extraordinary insolence, that measures were at this time being taken for
their effectual suppression.

To the Seven Cities of Refuge Jack proceeded. Having disposed of his
steed and swallowed a glass of brandy, without taking any other
refreshment, he threw himself on a couch, where he sank at once into a
heavy slumber. When he awoke it was late in the day, and he was
surprised to find Blueskin seated by his bed-side, watching over him
with a drawn sword on his knee, a pistol in each hand, and a
blood-stained cloth bound across his brow.

"Don't disturb yourself," said his follower, motioning him to keep
still; "it's all right."

"What time is it?" inquired Jack.

"Past noon," replied Blueskin. "I didn't awake you, because you seemed
tired."

"How did you escape?" asked Sheppard, who, as he shook off his slumber,
began to recall the events of the previous night.

"Oh, easily enough," rejoined the other. "I suppose I must have been
senseless for some time; for, on coming to myself, I found this gash in
my head, and the ground covered with blood. However, no one had
discovered me, so I contrived to drag myself to my horse. I thought if
you were living, and not captured, I should find you here,--and I was
right. I kept watch over you, for fear of a surprise on the part of
Jonathan. But what's to be done?"

"The first thing I do," replied Jack, "will be to visit my poor mother
in Bedlam."

"You'd better take care of your mother's son instead," rejoined
Blueskin. "It's runnin' a great risk."

"Risk, or no risk, I shall go," replied Jack. "Jonathan has threatened
to do her some mischief. I am resolved to see her, without delay, and
ascertain if it's possible to remove her."

"It's a hopeless job," grumbled Blueskin, "and harm will come of it.
What are you to do with a mad mother at a time when you need all your
wits to take care of yourself?"

"Don't concern yourself further about me," returned Jack. "Once for all,
I shall go."

"Won't you take me?"

"No; you must await my return here."

"Then I must wait a long time," grumbled Blueskin. "You'll never
return."

"We shall see," replied Jack. "But, if I should _not_ return, take this
purse to Edgeworth Bess. You'll find her at Black Mary's Hole."

And, having partaken of a hasty breakfast, he set out. Taking his way
along East Smithfield, mounting Little Tower-hill, and threading the
Minories and Hounsditch, he arrived without accident or molestation, at
Moorfields.

Old Bethlehem, or Bedlam,--every trace of which has been swept away, and
the hospital for lunatics removed to Saint George's Field,--was a vast
and magnificent structure. Erected in Moorfields in 1675, upon the model
of the Tuileries, it is said that Louis the Fourteenth was so incensed
at the insult offered to his palace, that he had a counterpart of St.
James's built for offices of the meanest description. The size and
grandeur of the edifice, indeed, drew down the ridicule of several of
the wits of the age: by one of whom--the facetious Tom Brown--it was
said, "Bedlam is a pleasant place, and abounds with amusements;--the
first of which is the building, so stately a fabric for persons wholly
insensible of the beauty and use of it: the outside being a perfect
mockery of the inside, and admitting of two amusing queries,--Whether
the persons that ordered the building of it, or those that inhabit it,
were the maddest? and, whether the name and thing be not as disagreeable
as harp and harrow." By another--the no less facetious Ned Ward--it was
termed, "A costly college for a crack-brained society, raised in a mad
age, when the chiefs of the city were in a great danger of losing their
senses, and so contrived it the more noble for their own reception; or
they would never have flung away so much money to so foolish a purpose."
The cost of the building exceeded seventeen thousand pounds. However the
taste of the architecture may be questioned, which was the formal French
style of the period, the general effect was imposing. Including the
wings, it presented a frontage of five hundred and forty feet. Each wing
had a small cupola; and, in the centre of the pile rose a larger dome,
surmounted by a gilded ball and vane. The asylum was approached by a
broad gravel walk, leading through a garden edged on either side by a
stone balustrade, and shaded by tufted trees. A wide terrace then led to
large iron gates,' over which were placed the two celebrated figures of
Raving and Melancholy Madness, executed by the elder Cibber, and
commemorated by Pope in the Dunciad, in the well-known lines:--

    "Close to those walls where Folly holds her throne,
    And laughs to think Monroe would take her down,
    Where, o'er the gates, by his famed father's hand,
    _Great Cibber's brazen, brainless brothers stand_."

Internally, it was divided by two long galleries, one over the other.
These galleries were separated in the middle by iron grates. The wards
on the right were occupied by male patients, on the left by the female.
In the centre of the upper gallery was a spacious saloon, appropriated
to the governors of the asylum. But the besetting evil of the place, and
that which drew down the severest censures of the writers
above-mentioned, was that this spot,--which of all others should have
been most free from such intrusion--was made a public exhibition. There
all the loose characters thronged, assignations were openly made, and
the spectators diverted themselves with the vagaries of its miserable
inhabitants.

Entering the outer gate, and traversing the broad gravel walk
before-mentioned, Jack ascended the steps, and was admitted, on feeing
the porter, by another iron gate, into the hospital. Here he was almost
stunned by the deafening clamour resounding on all sides. Some of the
lunatics were rattling their chains; some shrieking; some singing; some
beating with frantic violence against the doors. Altogether, it was the
most dreadful noise he had ever heard. Amidst it all, however, there
were several light-hearted and laughing groups walking from cell to cell
to whom all this misery appeared matter of amusement. The doors of
several of the wards were thrown open for these parties, and as Jack
passed, he could not help glancing at the wretched inmates. Here was a
poor half-naked creature, with a straw crown on his head, and a wooden
sceptre in his hand, seated on the ground with all the dignity of a
monarch on his throne. There was a mad musician, seemingly rapt in
admiration of the notes he was extracting from a child's violin. Here
was a terrific figure gnashing his teeth, and howling like a wild
beast;--there a lover, with hands clasped together and eyes turned
passionately upward. In this cell was a huntsman, who had fractured his
skull while hunting, and was perpetually hallooing after the hounds;--in
that, the most melancholy of all, the grinning gibbering lunatic, the
realization of "moody madness, laughing wild."

Hastening from this heart-rending spectacle, Jack soon reached the
grating that divided the men's compartment from that appropriated to the
women. Inquiring for Mrs. Sheppard, a matron offered to conduct him to
her cell.

"You'll find her quiet enough to-day, Sir," observed the woman, as they
walked along; "but she has been very outrageous latterly. Her nurse says
she may live some time; but she seems to me to be sinking fast."

"Heaven help her!" sighed Jack. "I hope not."

"Her release would be a mercy," pursued the matron. "Oh! Sir, if you'd
seen her as I've seen her, you'd not wish her a continuance of misery."

As Jack made no reply, the woman proceeded.

"They say her son's taken at last, and is to be hanged. I'm glad of it,
I'm sure; for it's all owing to him his poor mother's here. See what
crime does, Sir. Those who act wickedly bring misery on all connected
with them. And so gentle as the poor creature is, when she's not in her
wild fits--it would melt a heart of stone to see her. She will cry for
days and nights together. If Jack Sheppard could behold his mother in
this state, he'd have a lesson he'd never forget--ay, and a severer one
than even the hangman could read him. Hardened as he may be, that would
touch him. But he has never been near her--never."

Rambling in this way, the matron at length came to a halt, and taking
out a key, pointed to a door and said, "This is Mrs. Sheppard's ward,
Sir."

"Leave us together, my good woman," said Jack, putting a guinea into her
hand.

"As long as you please, Sir," answered the matron, dropping a curtsey.
"There, Sir," she added, unlocking the door, "you can go in. Don't be
frightened of her. She's not mischievous--and besides she's chained, and
can't reach you."

So saying, she retired, and Jack entered the cell.

Prepared as he was for a dreadful shock, and with his nerves strung to
endure it, Jack absolutely recoiled before the appalling object that met
his gaze. Cowering in a corner upon a heap of straw sat his unfortunate
mother, the complete wreck of what she had been. Her eyes glistened in
the darkness--for light was only admitted through a small grated
window--like flames, and, as she fixed them on him, their glances seemed
to penetrate his very soul. A piece of old blanket was fastened across
her shoulders, and she had no other clothing except a petticoat. Her
arms and feet were uncovered, and of almost skeleton thinness. Her
features were meagre, and ghastly white, and had the fixed and horrible
stamp of insanity. Her head had been shaved, and around it was swathed a
piece of rag, in which a few straws were stuck. Her thin fingers were
armed with nails as long as the talons of a bird. A chain, riveted to an
iron belt encircling her waist, bound her to the wall. The cell in which
she was confined was about six feet long and four wide; the walls were
scored all over with fantastic designs, snatches of poetry, short
sentences and names,--the work of its former occupants, and of its
present inmate.

When Jack entered the cell, she was talking to herself in the muttering
unconnected way peculiar to her distracted condition; but, after her eye
had rested on him some time, the fixed expression of her features
relaxed, and a smile crossed them. This smile was more harrowing even
than her former rigid look.

"You are an angel," she cried, with a look beaming with delight.

"Rather a devil," groaned her son, "to have done this."

"You are an angel, I say," continued the poor maniac; "and my Jack would
have been like you, if he had lived. But he died when he was a
child--long ago--long ago--long ago."

"Would he had done so!" cried Jack.

"Old Van told me if he grew up he would be hanged. He showed me a black
mark under his ear, where the noose would be tied. And so I'll tell you
what I did--"

And she burst into a laugh that froze Jack's blood in his veins.

"What did you do?" he asked, in a broken voice.

"I strangled him--ha! ha! ha!--strangled him while he was at my
breast--ha! ha!"--And then with a sudden and fearful change of look, she
added, "That's what has driven me mad, I killed my child to save him
from the gallows--oh! oh! One man hanged in a family is enough. If I'd
not gone mad, they would have hanged me."

"Poor soul!" ejaculated her son.

"I'll tell you a dream I had last night," continued the unfortunate
being. "I was at Tyburn. There was a gallows erected, and a great mob
round it--thousands of people, and all with white faces like corpses. In
the midst of them there was a cart with a man in it--and that man was
Jack--my son Jack--they were going to hang him. And opposite to him,
with a book in his hand,--but it couldn't be a prayer-book,--sat
Jonathan Wild, in a parson's cassock and band. I knew him in spite of
his dress. And when they came to the gallows, Jack leaped out of the
cart, and the hangman tied up Jonathan instead--ha! ha! How the mob
shouted and huzzaed--and I shouted too--ha! ha! ha!"

"Mother!" cried Jack, unable to endure this agonizing scene longer.
"Don't you know me, mother?"

"Ah!" shrieked Mrs. Sheppard. "What's that?--Jack's voice!"

"It is," replied her son.

"The ceiling is breaking! the floor is opening! he is coming to me!"
cried the unhappy woman.

"He stands before you," rejoined her son.

"Where?" she cried. "I can't see him. Where is he?"

"Here," answered Jack.

"Are you his ghost, then?"

"No--no," answered Jack. "I am your most unhappy son."

"Let me touch you, then; let me feel if you are really flesh and blood,"
cried the poor maniac, creeping towards him on all fours.

Jack did not advance to meet her. He could not move; but stood like one
stupified, with his hands clasped together, and eyes almost starting out
of their sockets, fixed upon his unfortunate parent.

"Come to me!" cried the poor maniac, who had crawled as far as the chain
would permit her,--"come to me!" she cried, extending her thin arm
towards him.

Jack fell on his knees beside her.

"Who are you?" inquired Mrs. Sheppard, passing her hands over his face,
and gazing at him with a look that made him shudder.

"Your son," replied Jack,--"your miserable, repentant son."

"It is false," cried Mrs. Sheppard. "You are not. Jack was not half your
age when he died. They buried him in Willesden churchyard after the
robbery."

"Oh, God!" cried Jack, "she does not know me. Mother--dear mother!" he
added, clasping her in his arms, "Look at me again."

"Off!" she exclaimed, breaking from his embrace with a scream. "Don't
touch me. I'll be quiet. I'll not speak of Jack or Jonathan. I won't dig
their graves with my nails. Don't strip me quite. Leave me my blanket!
I'm very cold at night. Or, if you must take off my clothes, don't dash
cold water on my head. It throbs cruelly."

"Horror!" cried Jack.

"Don't scourge me," she cried, trying to hide herself in the farthest
corner of the cell. "The lash cuts to the bone. I can't bear it. Spare
me, and I'll be quiet--quiet--quiet!"

"Mother!" said Jack, advancing towards her.

"Off!" she cried with a prolonged and piercing shriek. And she buried
herself beneath the straw, which she tossed above her head with the
wildest gestures.

"I shall kill her if I stay longer," muttered her son, completely
terrified.

While he was considering what would be best to do, the poor maniac, over
whose bewildered brain another change had come, raised her head from
under the straw, and peeping round the room, asked in a low voice, "If
they were gone?"

"Who?" inquired Jack.

"The nurses," she answered.

"Do they treat you ill?" asked her son.

"Hush!" she said, putting her lean fingers to her lips. "Hush!--come
hither, and I'll tell you."

Jack approached her.

"Sit beside me," continued Mrs. Sheppard. "And, now I'll tell you what
they do. Stop! we must shut the door, or they'll catch us. See!" she
added, tearing the rag from her head,--"I had beautiful black hair once.
But they cut it all off."

"I shall go mad myself if I listen to her longer," said Jack, attempting
to rise. "I must go."

"Don't stir, or they'll chain you to the wall," said his mother
detaining him. "Now, tell me why they brought you here?"

"I came to see you, dear mother!" answered Jack.

"Mother!" she echoed,--"mother! why do you call me by that name?"

"Because you are my mother."

"What!" she exclaimed, staring eagerly in his face. "Are you my son? Are
you Jack?"

"I am," replied Jack. "Heaven be praised she knows me at last."

"Oh, Jack!" cried his mother, falling upon his neck, and covering him
with kisses.

"Mother--dear mother!" said Jack, bursting into tears.

"You will never leave me," sobbed the poor woman, straining him to her
breast.

"Never--never!"

The words were scarcely pronounced, when the door was violently thrown
open, and two men appeared at it. They were Jonathan Wild and Quilt
Arnold.

"Ah!" exclaimed Jack, starting to his feet.

"Just in time," said the thief-taker. "You are my prisoner, Jack."

"You shall take my life first," rejoined Sheppard.

And, as he was about to put himself into a posture of defence, his
mother clasped him in her arms.

"They shall not harm you, my love!" she exclaimed.

The movement was fatal to her son. Taking advantage of his embarrassed
position, Jonathan and his assistant rushed upon him, and disarmed him.

"Thank you, Mrs. Sheppard," cried the thief-taker, as he slipped a pair
of handcuffs over Jack's wrists, "for the help you have given us in
capturing your son. Without you, we might have had some trouble."

Aware apparently in some degree, of the mistake she had committed, the
poor maniac sprang towards him with frantic violence, and planted her
long nails in his cheek.

"Keep off, you accursed jade!" roared Jonathan, "--off, I say, or--" And
he struck her a violent blow with his clenched hand.

The miserable woman staggered, uttered a deep groan, and fell senseless
on the straw.

"Devil!" cried Jack; "that blow shall cost you your life."

"It'll not need to be repeated, at all events," rejoined Jonathan,
looking with a smile of malignant satisfaction at the body. "And,
now,--to Newgate."




CHAPTER IX.

Old Newgate.


At the beginning of the twelfth century,--whether in the reign of Henry
the First, or Stephen is uncertain,--a fifth gate was added to the four
principal entrances of the city of London; then, it is almost needless
to say, surrounded by ramparts, moats, and other defences. This gate,
called _Newgate_, "as being latelier builded than the rest," continued,
for upwards of three hundred years, to be used as a place of
imprisonment for felons and trespassers; at the end of which time,
having grown old, ruinous, and "horribly loathsome," it was rebuilt and
enlarged by the executors of the renowned Sir Richard Whittington, the
Lord Mayor of London: whence it afterwards obtained amongst a certain
class of students, whose examinations were conducted with some
strictness at the Old Bailey, and their highest degrees taken at
Hyde-park-corner, the appellation of Whittington's College, or, more
briefly, the Whit. It may here be mentioned that this gate, destined to
bequeath its name--a name, which has since acquired a terrible
significance,--to every successive structure erected upon its site, was
granted, in 1400, by charter by Henry the Sixth to the citizens of
London, in return for their royal services, and thenceforth became the
common jail to that city and the county of Middlesex. Nothing material
occurred to Newgate, until the memorable year 1666, when it was utterly
destroyed by the Great Fire. It is with the building raised after this
direful calamity that our history has to deal.

Though by no means so extensive or commodious as the modern prison, Old
Newgate was a large and strongly-built pile. The body of the edifice
stood on the south side of Newgate Street, and projected at the western
extremity far into the area opposite Saint Sepulchre's Church. One small
wing lay at the north of the gate, where Giltspur Street Compter now
stands; and the Press Yard, which was detached from the main building,
was situated at the back of Phoenix Court. The south or principal front,
looking, _down_ the Old Bailey, and not _upon it_, as is the case of the
present structure, with its massive walls of roughened freestone,--in
some places darkened by the smoke, in others blanched, by exposure to
the weather,--its heavy projecting cornice, its unglazed doubly-grated
windows, its gloomy porch decorated with fetters, and defended by an
enormous iron door, had a stern and striking effect. Over the Lodge,
upon a dial was inscribed the appropriate motto, "_Venio sicut fur_."
The Gate, which crossed Newgate Street, had a wide arch for carriages,
and a postern, on the north side, for foot-passengers. Its architecture
was richly ornamental, and resembled the style of a triumphal entrance
to a capital, rather than a dungeon having battlements and hexagonal
towers, and being adorned on the western side with a triple range of
pilasters of the Tuscan order, amid the intercolumniations of which were
niches embellished with statues. The chief of these was a figure of
Liberty, with a cat at her feet, in allusion to the supposed origin of
the fortunes of its former founder, Sir Richard Whittington. On the
right of the postern against the wall was affixed a small grating,
sustaining the debtor's box; and any pleasure which the passer-by might
derive from contemplating the splendid structure above described was
damped at beholding the pale faces and squalid figures of the captives
across the bars of its strongly-grated windows. Some years after the
date of this history, an immense ventilator was placed at the top of the
Gate, with the view of purifying the prison, which, owing to its
insufficient space and constantly-crowded state, was never free from
that dreadful and contagious disorder, now happily unknown, the
jail-fever. So frightful, indeed, were the ravages of this malady, to
which debtors and felons were alike exposed, that its miserable victims
were frequently carried out by cart-loads, and thrown into a pit in the
burial-ground of Christ-church, without ceremony.

Old Newgate was divided into three separate prisons,--the Master's Side,
the Common Side, and the Press Yard. The first of these, situated a the
south of the building, with the exception of one ward over the gateway,
was allotted to the better class of debtors, whose funds enabled them to
defray their chamber-rent, fees, and garnish. The second, comprising the
bulk of the jail, and by many degrees worse in point of accommodation,
having several dismal and noisome wards under ground, was common both to
debtors and malefactors,--an association little favourable to the morals
or comforts of the former, who, if they were brought there with any
notions of honesty, seldom left with untainted principles. The last,--in
all respects the best and airiest of the three, standing, as has been
before observed, in Phoenix Court, at the rear of the main fabric,--was
reserved for state-offenders, and such persons as chose to submit to the
extortionate demands of the keeper: from twenty to five hundred pounds
premium, according to the rank and means of the applicant, in addition
to a high weekly rent, being required for accommodation in this quarter.
Some excuse for this rapacity may perhaps be found in the fact, that
five thousand pounds was paid for the purchase of the Press Yard by Mr.
Pitt, the then governor of Newgate. This gentleman, tried for high
treason, in 1716, on suspicion of aiding Mr. Forster, the rebel
general's escape, but acquitted, reaped a golden harvest during the
occupation of his premises by the Preston rebels, when a larger sum was
obtained for a single chamber than (in the words of a sufferer on the
occasion) "would have paid the rent of the best house in Saint James's
Square or Piccadilly for several years."

Nor was this all. Other, and more serious impositions, inasmuch as they
affected a poorer class of persons, were practised by the underlings of
the jail. On his first entrance, a prisoner, if unable or unwilling to
comply with the exactions of the turnkeys, was thrust into the Condemned
Hold with the worst description of criminals, and terrified by threats
into submission. By the old regulations, the free use of strong liquors
not being interdicted, a tap-house was kept in the Lodge, and also in a
cellar on the Common Side,--under the superintendence of Mrs. Spurling,
formerly, it may be remembered, the hostess of the Dark House at
Queenhithe,--whence wine, ale, and brandy of inferior quality were
dispensed, in false measures, and at high prices, throughout the prison,
which in noise and debauchery rivalled, if it did not surpass, the
lowest tavern.

The chief scene of these disgusting orgies,--the cellar, just referred
to,--was a large low-roofed vault, about four feet below the level of
the street, perfectly dark, unless when illumined by a roaring fire, and
candles stuck in pyramidal lumps of clay, with a range of butts and
barrels at one end, and benches and tables at the other, where the
prisoners, debtors, and malefactors male and female, assembled as long
as their money lasted, and consumed the time in drinking, smoking, and
gaming with cards and dice. Above was a spacious hall, connected with it
by a flight of stone steps, at the further end of which stood an immense
grated door, called in the slang of the place "The Jigger," through the
bars of which the felons in the upper wards were allowed to converse
with their friends, or if they wished to enter the room, or join the
revellers below, they were at liberty to do so, on payment of a small
fine. Thus, the same system of plunder was everywhere carried on. The
jailers robbed the prisoners: the prisoners robbed one another.

Two large wards were situated in the Gate; one of which, the Stone Ward,
appropriated to the master debtors, looked towards Holborn; the other
called the Stone Hall, from a huge stone standing in the middle of it,
upon which the irons of criminals under sentence of death were knocked
off previously to their being taken to the place of execution, faced
Newgate Street. Here the prisoners took exercise; and a quaint, but
striking picture has been left of their appearance when so engaged, by
the author of the English Rogue. "At my first being acquainted with the
place," says this writer, in the 'Miseries of a Prison,' "the prisoners,
methought, walking up and down the Stone Hall, looked like so many
wrecks upon the sea. Here the ribs of a thousand pounds beating against
the Needles--those dangerous rocks, credulity here floated, to and fro,
silks, stuffs, camlets, and velvet, without giving place to each other,
according to their dignity; here rolled so many pipes of canary, whose
bungholes lying open, were so damaged that the merchant may go hoop for
his money," A less picturesque, but more truthful, and, therefore, more
melancholy description of the same scene, is furnished by the shrewd and
satirical Ned Ward, who informs us, in the "Delectable History of
Whittington's College," that "When the prisoners are disposed to
recreate themselves with walking, they go up into a spacious room,
called the Stone Hall; where, when you see them taking a turn together,
it would puzzle one to know which is the gentleman, which the mechanic,
and which the beggar, for they are all suited in the same garb of
squalid poverty, making a spectacle of more pity than executions; only
to be out at the elbows is in fashion here, and a great indecorum not to
be threadbare."

In an angle of the Stone Hall was the Iron Hold, a chamber containing a
vast assortment of fetters and handcuffs of all weights and sizes. Four
prisoners, termed "The Partners," had charge of this hold. Their duty
was to see who came in, or went out; to lock up, and open the different
wards; to fetter such prisoners as were ordered to be placed in irons;
to distribute the allowances of provision; and to maintain some show of
decorum; for which latter purpose they were allowed to carry whips and
truncheons. When any violent outrage was committed,--and such matters
were of daily, sometimes hourly, occurrence,--a bell, the rope of which
descended into the hall, brought the whole of the turnkeys to their
assistance. A narrow passage at the north of the Stone Hall led to the
Bluebeard's room of this enchanted castle, a place shunned even by the
reckless crew who were compelled to pass it. It was a sort of
cooking-room, with an immense fire-place flanked by a couple of
cauldrons, and was called Jack Ketch's Kitchen, because the quarters of
persons executed for treason were there boiled by the hangman in oil,
pitch, and tar, before they were affixed on the city gates, or on London
Bridge. Above this revolting spot was the female debtor's ward; below it
a gloomy cell, called Tangier; and, lower still, the Stone Hold, a most
terrible and noisome dungeon, situated underground, and unvisited by a
single ray of daylight. Built and paved with stone, without beds, or any
other sort of protection from the cold, this dreadful hole, accounted
the most dark and dismal in the prison, was made the receptacle of such
miserable wretches as could not pay the customary fees. Adjoining it was
the Lower Ward,--"Though, in what degree of latitude it was situated,"
observes Ned Ward, "I cannot positively demonstrate, unless it lay
ninety degrees beyond the North Pole; for, instead of being dark there
but half a year, it is dark all the year round." It was only a shade
better than the Stone Hold. Here were imprisoned the fines; and,
"perhaps," adds the before-cited authority, "if he behaved himself, an
outlawed person might creep in among them." Ascending the gate once more
on the way back, we find over the Stone Hall another large room, called
Debtors' Hall, facing Newgate Street, with "very good air and light." A
little too much of the former, perhaps; as the windows being unglazed,
the prisoners were subjected to severe annoyance from the weather and
easterly winds.

Of the women felons' rooms nothing has yet been said. There were two.
One called Waterman's Hall, a horrible place adjoining the postern under
the gate, whence, through a small barred aperture, they solicited alms
from the passengers: the other, a large chamber, denominated My Lady's
Hold, was situated in the highest part of the jail, at the northern
extremity. Neither of these wards had beds, and the unfortunate inmates
were obliged to take their rest on the oaken floor. The condition of the
rooms was indescribably filthy and disgusting; nor were the habits of
the occupants much more cleanly. In other respects, they were equally
indecorous and offensive. "It is with no small concern," writes an
anonymous historian of Newgate, "that I am obliged to observe that the
women in every ward of this prison are exceedingly worse than the worst
of the men not only in respect to their mode of living, but more
especially as to their conversation, which, to their great shame, is as
profane and wicked as hell itself can possibly be."

There were two Condemned Holds,--one for each sex. That for the men lay
near the Lodge, with which it was connected by a dark passage. It was a
large room, about twenty feet long and fifteen broad, and had an arched
stone roof. In fact, it had been anciently the right hand postern under
the gate leading towards the city. The floor was planked with oak, and
covered with iron staples, hooks, and ring-bolts, with heavy chains
attached to them. There was only one small grated window in this hold,
which admitted but little light.

Over the gateway towards Snow Hill, were two strong wards, called the
Castle and the Red Room. They will claim particular attention hereafter.

Many other wards,--especially on the Master Debtor's side,--have been
necessarily omitted in the foregoing hasty enumeration. But there were
two places of punishment which merit some notice from their peculiarity.
The first of these, the Press Room, a dark close chamber, near
Waterman's Hall, obtained its name from an immense wooden machine kept
in it, with which such prisoners as refused to plead to their
indictments were pressed to death--a species of inquisitorial torture
not discontinued until so lately as the early part of the reign of
George the Third, when it was abolished by an express statute. Into the
second, denominated the Bilbowes,--also a dismal place,--refractory
prisoners were thrust, and placed in a kind of stocks, whence the name.

The Chapel was situated in the south-east angle of the jail; the
ordinary at the time of this history being the Reverend Thomas Purney;
the deputy chaplain, Mr. Wagstaff.

Much has been advanced by modern writers respecting the demoralising
effect of prison society; and it has been asserted, that a youth once
confined in Newgate, is certain to come out a confirmed thief. However
this may be now, it was unquestionably true of old Newgate. It was the
grand nursery of vice.--"A famous university," observes Ned Ward, in the
London Spy, "where, if a man has a mind to educate a hopeful child in
the daring science of padding; the light-fingered subtlety of
shoplifting: the excellent use of jack and crow; for the silently
drawing bolts, and forcing barricades; with the knack of sweetening; or
the most ingenious dexterity of picking pockets; let him but enter in
this college on the Common Side, and confine him close to his study but
for three months; and if he does not come out qualified to take any
degree of villainy, he must be the most honest dunce that ever had the
advantage of such eminent tutors."

To bring down this imperfect sketch of Newgate to the present time, it
may be mentioned, that, being found inadequate to the purpose required,
the old jail was pulled down in 1770. Just at the completion of the new
jail, in 1780, it was assailed by the mob during the Gordon riots,
fired, and greatly damaged. The devastations, however, were speedily
made good, and, in two years more, it was finished.

It is a cheering reflection, that in the present prison, with its clean,
well-whitewashed, and well-ventilated wards, its airy courts, its
infirmary, its improved regulations, and its humane and intelligent
officers, many of the miseries of the old jail are removed. For these
beneficial changes society is mainly indebted to the unremitting
exertions of the philanthropic HOWARD.




CHAPTER X.

How Jack Sheppard got out of the Condemned Hold.


Monday, the 31st of August 1724,--a day long afterwards remembered by
the officers of Newgate,--was distinguished by an unusual influx of
visitors to the Lodge. On that morning the death warrant had arrived
from Windsor, ordering Sheppard for execution, (since his capture by
Jonathan Wild in Bedlam, as related in a former chapter, Jack had been
tried, convicted, and sentenced to death,) together with three other
malefactors on the following Friday. Up to this moment, hopes had been
entertained of a respite, strong representations in his favour having
been made in the highest quarter; but now that his fate seemed sealed,
the curiosity of the sight-seeing public to behold him was redoubled.
The prison gates were besieged like the entrance of a booth at a fair;
and the Condemned Hold where he was confined, and to which visitors were
admitted at the moderate rate of a guinea a-head, had quite the
appearance of a showroom. As the day wore on, the crowds
diminished,--many who would not submit to the turnkey's demands were
sent away ungratified,--and at five o'clock, only two strangers, Mr.
Shotbolt, the head turnkey of Clerkenwell Prison, and Mr. Griffin, who
held the same office in Westminster Gatehouse were left in the Lodge.
Jack, who had formerly been in the custody of both these gentlemen, gave
them a very cordial welcome; apologized for the sorry room he was
compelled to receive them in; and when they took leave, insisted on
treating them to a double bowl of punch, which they were now discussing
with the upper jailer, Mr. Ireton, and his two satellites, Austin and
Langley. At a little distance from the party, sat a tall,
sinister-looking personage, with harsh inflexible features, a gaunt but
muscular frame, and large bony hands. He was sipping a glass of cold gin
and water, and smoking a short black pipe. His name was Marvel, and his
avocation, which was as repulsive as his looks, was that of public
executioner. By his side sat a remarkably stout dame, to whom he paid as
much attention as it was in his iron nature to pay. She had a nut-brown
skin, a swarthy upper lip, a merry black eye, a prominent bust, and a
tun-like circumference of waist. A widow for the fourth time, Mrs.
Spurling, (for she it was,) either by her attractions of purse or
person, had succeeded in moving the stony heart of Mr. Marvel, who, as
he had helped to deprive her of her former husbands, thought himself in
duty bound to offer to supply their place. But the lady was not so
easily won; and though she did not absolutely reject him, gave him very
slight hopes. Mr. Marvel, therefore, remained on his probation. Behind
Mrs. Spurling stood her negro attendant, Caliban; a hideous, misshapen,
malicious monster, with broad hunched shoulders, a flat nose, and ears
like those of a wild beast, a head too large for his body, and a body
too long for his legs. This horrible piece of deformity, who acted as
drawer and cellarman, and was a constant butt to the small wits of the
jail, was nicknamed the Black Dog of Newgate.

In the general survey of the prison, taken in the preceding chapter, but
little was said of the Lodge. It may be well, therefore, before
proceeding farther, to describe it more minutely. It was approached from
the street by a flight of broad stone steps, leading to a ponderous
door, plated with iron, and secured on the inner side by huge bolts, and
a lock, with wards of a prodigious size. A little within stood a second
door, or rather wicket, lower than the first, but of equal strength, and
surmounted by a row of sharp spikes. As no apprehension was entertained
of an escape by this outlet,--nothing of the kind having been attempted
by the boldest felon ever incarcerated in Newgate,--both doors were
generally left open during the daytime. At six o'clock, the wicket was
shut; and at nine, the jail was altogether locked up. Not far from the
entrance, on the left, was a sort of screen, or partition-wall, reaching
from the floor to the ceiling, formed of thick oaken planks riveted
together by iron bolts, and studded with broad-headed nails. In this
screen, which masked the entrance of a dark passage communicating with
the Condemned Hold, about five feet from the ground, was a hatch,
protected by long spikes set six inches apart, and each of the thickness
of an elephant's tusk. The spikes almost touched the upper part of the
hatch: scarcely space enough for the passage of a hand being left
between their points and the beam. Here, as has already been observed,
condemned malefactors were allowed to converse with such of their guests
as had not interest or money enough to procure admission to them in the
hold. Beyond the hatch, an angle, formed by a projection in the wall of
some three or four feet, served to hide a door conducting to the
interior of the prison. At the farther end of the Lodge, the floor was
raised to the height of a couple of steps; whence the whole place, with
the exception of the remotest corner of the angle before-mentioned,
could be commanded at a single glance. On this elevation a table was now
placed, around which sat the turnkeys and their guests, regaling
themselves on the fragrant beverage provided by the prisoner. A brief
description will suffice for them. They were all stout ill-favoured men,
attired in the regular jail-livery of scratch wig and snuff-coloured
suit; and had all a strong family likeness to each other. The only
difference between the officers of Newgate and their brethren was, that
they had enormous bunches of keys at their girdles, while the latter had
left their keys at home.

"Well, I've seen many a gallant fellow in my time, Mr. Ireton," observed
the chief turnkey of Westminster Gatehouse, as he helped himself to his
third glass of punch; "but I never saw one like Jack Sheppard."

"Nor I," returned Ireton, following his example: "and I've had some
experience too. Ever since he came here, three months ago, he has been
the life and soul of the place; and now the death warrant has arrived,
instead of being cast down, as most men would be, and as all others
_are_, he's gayer than ever. Well, _I_ shall be sorry to lose him, Mr.
Griffin. We've made a pretty penny by him--sixty guineas this blessed
day."

"No more!" cried Griffin, incredulously; "I should have thought you must
have made double that sum at least."

"Not a farthing more, I assure you," rejoined Ireton, pettishly; "we're
all on the square here. I took the money myself, and _ought_ to know."

"Oh! certainly," answered Griffin; "certainly."

"I offered Jack five guineas as his share," continued Ireton; "but he
wouldn't take it himself, and gave it to the poor debtors and felons,
who are now drinking it out in the cellar on the Common Side."

"Jack's a noble fellow," exclaimed the head-jailer of Clerkenwell
Prison, raising his glass; "and, though he played me a scurvy trick,
I'll drink to his speedy deliverance."

"At Tyburn, eh, Mr. Shotbolt?" rejoined the executioner. "I'll pledge
you in that toast with all my heart."

"Well, for my part," observed Mrs. Spurling, "I hope he may never see
Tyburn. And, if I'd my own way with the Secretary of State, he never
_should_. It's a thousand pities to hang so pretty a fellow. There
haven't been so many ladies in the Lodge since the days of Claude Du
Val, the gentleman highwayman; and they all declare it'll break their
hearts if he's scragged."

"Bah!" ejaculated Marvel, gruffly.

"You think our sex has no feeling, I suppose, Sir," cried Mrs. Spurling,
indignantly; "but I can tell you we have. And, what's more, I tell you,
if Captain Sheppard _is_ hanged, you need never hope to call _me_ Mrs.
Marvel."

"'Zounds!" cried the executioner, in astonishment. "Do you know what you
are talking about, Mrs. Spurling? Why, if Captain Sheppard should get
off, it 'ud be fifty guineas out of my way. There's the grand laced
coat he wore at his trial, which I intend for my wedding-dress."

"Don't mention such a thing, Sir," interrupted the tapstress. "I
couldn't bear to see you in it. Your speaking of the trial brings the
whole scene to my mind. Ah! I shall never forget the figure Jack cut on
that occasion. What a buzz of admiration ran round the court as he
appeared! And, how handsome and composed he looked! Everybody wondered
that such a stripling could commit such desperate robberies. His
firmness never deserted him till his old master, Mr. Wood, was examined.
Then he _did_ give way a bit. And when Mr. Wood's daughter,--to whom,
I've heard tell, he was attached years ago,--was brought up, his courage
forsook him altogether, and he trembled, and could scarcely stand. Poor
young lady! _She_ trembled too, and was unable to give her evidence.
When sentence was passed there wasn't a dry eye in the court."

"Yes, there was one," observed Ireton.

"I guess who you mean," rejoined Shotbolt. "Mr. Wild's."

"Right," answered Ireton. "It's strange the antipathy he bears to
Sheppard. I was standing near Jack at that awful moment, and beheld the
look Wild fixed on him. It was like the grin of a fiend, and made my
flesh creep on my bones. When the prisoner was removed from the dock, we
met Jonathan as we passed through the yard. He stopped us, and,
addressing Jack in a taunting tone, said, 'Well, I've been as good as my
word!'--'True,' replied Sheppard; 'and I'll be as good as mine!' And so
they parted."

"And I hope he will, if it's anything to Jonathan's disadvantage,"
muttered Mrs. Spurling, half aside.

"I'm surprised Mr. Wild hasn't been to inquire after him to-day,"
observed Langley; "it's the first time he's missed doing so since the
trial."

"He's gone to Enfield after Blueskin, who has so long eluded his
vigilance," rejoined Austin. "Quilt Arnold called this morning to say
so. Certain information, it seems, has been received from a female, that
Blueskin would be at a flash-ken near the Chase at five o'clock to-day,
and they're all set out in the expectation of nabbing him."

"Mr. Wild had a narrow escape lately, in that affair of Captain
Darrell," observed Shotbolt.

"I don't exactly know the rights of that affair," rejoined Griffin, with
some curiosity.

"Nor any one else, I suspect," answered Ireton, winking significantly.
"It's a mysterious transaction altogether. But, as much as is known is
this: Captain Darrell, who resides with Mr. Wood at Dollis Hill, was
assaulted and half-killed by a party of ruffians, headed, he swore, by
Mr. Wild, and his uncle, Sir Rowland Trenchard. Mr. Wild, however,
proved, on the evidence of his own servants, that he was at the Old
Bailey at the time; and Sir Rowland proved that _he_ was in Manchester.
So the charge was dismissed. Another charge was then brought against
them by the Captain, who accused them of kidnapping him when a boy, and
placing him in the hands of a Dutch skipper, named Van Galgebrok, with
instructions to throw him overboard, which was done, though he
afterwards escaped. But this accusation, for want of sufficient
evidence, met with the same fate as the first, and Jonathan came off
victorious. It was thought, however, if the skipper _could_ have been
found, that the result of the case would have been materially different.
This was rather too much to expect; for we all know, if Mr. Wild wishes
to keep a man out of the way, he'll speedily find the means to do so."

"Ay, ay," cried the jailers, laughing.

"_I_ could have given awkward evidence in that case, if I'd been so
inclined," said Mrs. Spurling, "ay and found Van Galgebrok too. But I
never betray an old customer."

"Mr. Wild is a great man," said the hangman, replenishing his pipe, "and
we owe him much, and ought to support him. Were any thing to happen to
him, Newgate wouldn't be what it is, nor Tyburn either."

"Mr. Wild has given you some employment, Mr. Marvel," remarked Shotbolt.

"A little, Sir," replied the executioner, with a grim smile.

"Out of the twelve hundred subjects I've tucked up, I may safely place
half to his account. If ever he requires my services, he shall find I'm
not ungrateful. And though I say it that shouldn't say it, no man can
tie a better knot. Mr. Wild, gentlemen, and the nubbin' cheat."

"Fill your glasses, gentlemen," observed Ireton, "and I'll tell you a
droll thing Jack said this morning. Amongst others who came to see him,
was a Mr. Kneebone, a woollen-draper in Wych Street, with whose pockets,
it appears, Jack, when a lad, made a little too free. As this gentleman
was going away, he said to Jack in a jesting manner, 'that he should be
glad to see him to-night at supper.' Upon which the other answered,
'that he accepted his invitation with pleasure, and would make a point
of waiting upon him,' Ha! ha! ha!"

"_Did_ he say so?" cried Shotbolt. "Then I advise you to look sharply
after him, Mr. Ireton; for may I be hanged myself if I don't believe
he'll be as good as his word."

At this juncture, two women, very smartly attired in silk hoods and
cloaks, appeared at the door of the Lodge.

"Ah! who have we here?" exclaimed Griffin.

"Only Jack's two wives--Edgeworth Bess and Poll Maggot," replied Austin,
laughing.

"They can't go into the Condemned Hold," said Ireton, consequentially;
"it's against Mr. Wild's orders. They must see the prisoner at the
hatch."

"Very well, Sir," replied Austin, rising and walking towards them.
"Well, my pretty dears," he added, "--to see your husband, eh? You must
make the most of your time. You won't have him long. You've heard the
news, I suppose?"

"That the death warrant's arrived," returned Edgeworth Bess, bursting
into a flood of tears; "oh, yes! we've heard it."

"How does Jack bear it?" inquired Mrs. Maggot.

"Like a hero," answered Austin.

"I knew he would," replied the Amazon. "Come Bess,--no whimpering. Don't
unman him. Are we to see him here?"

"Yes, my love."

"Well, then, lose no time in bringing him to us," said Mrs. Maggot.
"There's a guinea to drink our health," she added, slipping a piece of
money into his hand.

"Here, Caliban," shouted the under-turnkey, "unlock Captain Sheppard's
padlock, and tell him his wives are in the Lodge waiting to see him."

"Iss, Massa Austin," replied the black. And taking the keys, he departed
on the errand.

As soon as he was gone, the two women divested themselves of their hoods
and cloaks, and threw them, as if inadvertently, into the farthest part
of the angle in the wall. Their beautifully proportioned figures and
rather over-displayed shoulders attracted the notice of Austin, who
inquired of the chief turnkey "whether he should stand by them during
the interview?"

"Oh! never mind them," said Mrs. Spurling, who had been hastily
compounding another bowl of punch. "Sit down, and enjoy yourself. I'll
keep a look out that nothing happens."

By this time Caliban had returned, and Jack appeared at the hatch. He
was wrapped in a loose dressing-gown of light material, and stood near
the corner where the women's dresses had just been thrown down, quite
out of sight of all the party, except Mrs. Spurling, who sat on the
right of the table.

"Have you got Jonathan out of the way?" he asked, in an eager whisper.

"Yes, yes," replied Edgeworth Bess. "Patience Kite has lured him to
Enfield on a false scent after Blueskin. You need fear no interruption
from him, or any of his myrmidons."

"That's well!" cried Jack. "Now stand before me, Poll. I've got the
watch-spring saw in my sleeve. Pretend to weep both of you as loudly as
you can. This spike is more than half cut through. I was at work at it
yesterday and the day before. Keep up the clamour for five minutes, and
I'll finish it."

Thus urged, the damsels began to raise their voices in loud lamentation.

"What the devil are you howling about?" cried Langley. "Do you think we
are to be disturbed in this way? Make less noise, hussies, or I'll turn
you out of the Lodge."

"For shame, Mr. Langley," rejoined Mrs. Spurling: "I blush for you, Sir!
To call yourself a man, and interfere with the natural course of
affection! Have you no feeling for the situation of those poor
disconsolate creatures, about to be bereaved of all they hold dear? Is
it nothing to part with a husband to the gallows? I've lost four in the
same way, and know what it is." Here she began to blubber loudly for
sympathy.

"Comfort yourself, my charmer," said Mr. Marvel, in a tone intended to
be consolatory. "I'll be their substitute."

"_You!_" cried the tapstress, with a look of horror: "Never!"

"Confusion!" muttered Jack, suddenly pausing in his task, "the saw has
broken just as I am through the spike."

"Can't we break it off?" replied Mrs. Maggot.

"I fear not," replied Jack, despondingly.

"Let's try, at all events," returned the Amazon.

And grasping the thick iron rod, she pushed with all her force against
it, while Jack seconded her efforts from within. After great exertions
on both parts, the spike yielded to their combined strength, and snapped
suddenly off.

"Holloa--what's that?" cried Austin, starting up.

"Only my darbies," returned Jack, clinking his chains.

"Oh! that was all, was it?" said the turnkey, quietly reseating himself.

"Now, give me the woollen cloth to tie round my fetters," whispered
Sheppard. "Quick."

"Here it is," replied Edgeworth Bess.

"Give me your hand, Poll, to help me through," cried Jack, as he
accomplished the operation. "Keep a sharp look out, Bess."

"Stop!" interposed Edgeworth Bess; "Mr. Langley is getting up, and
coming this way. We're lost."

"Help me through at all hazards, Poll," cried Jack, straining towards
the opening.

"The danger's past," whispered Bess. "Mrs. Spurling has induced him to
sit down again. Ah! she looks this way, and puts her finger to her lips.
She comprehends what we're about. We're all safe!"

"Don't lose a moment then," cried Jack, forcing himself into the
aperture, while the Amazon, assisted by Bess, pulled him through it.

"There!" cried Mrs. Maggot, as she placed him without noise upon the
ground; "you're safe so far."

"Come, my disconsolate darlings," cried Austin, "it only wants five
minutes to six. I expect Mr. Wild here presently. Cut it as short as you
can."

"Only two minutes more, Sir," intreated Edgeworth Bess, advancing
towards him in such a manner as to screen Jack, who crept into the
farthest part of the angle,--"only two minutes, and we've done."

"Well, well, I'm not within a minute," rejoined the turnkey.

"We shall never be able to get you out unseen, Jack," whispered Poll
Maggot. "You must make a bold push."

"Impossible," replied Sheppard, in the same tone. "That would be certain
destruction. I can't run in these heavy fetters. No: I must face it out.
Tell Bess to slip out, and I'll put on her cloak and hood."

Meanwhile, the party at the table continued drinking and chatting as
merrily as before.

"I can't help thinking of Jack Sheppard's speech to Mr. Kneebone,"
observed Shotbolt, as he emptied his tenth tumbler; "I'm sure he's
meditating an escape, and hopes to accomplish it to-night."

"Poh! poh!" rejoined Ireton; "it was mere idle boasting. I examined the
Condemned Hold myself carefully this morning, and didn't find a nail out
of its place. Recollect, he's chained to the ground by a great
horse-padlock, and is never unloosed except when he comes to that hatch.
If he escapes at all, it must be before our faces."

"It wouldn't surprise me if he did," remarked Griffin. "He's audacity
enough for anything. He got out in much the same way from the
Gatehouse,--stole the keys, and passed through a room where I was
sitting half-asleep in a chair."

"Caught you napping, eh?" rejoined Ireton, with a laugh. "Well, he won't
do that here. I'll forgive him if he does."

"And so will I," said Austin. "We're too wide awake for that. Ain't we,
partner?" he added, appealing to Langley, whom punch had made rather
dozy.

"I should think so," responded the lethargic turnkey, with a yawn.

During this colloquy, Jack had contrived unobserved to put on the hood
and cloak, and being about the size of the rightful owner, presented a
very tolerable resemblance to her. This done, Edgeworth Bess, who
watched her opportunity, slipped out of the Lodge.

"Halloa!" exclaimed Austin, who had caught a glimpse of her departing
figure, "one of the women is gone!"

"No--no," hastily interposed Mrs. Spurling; "they're both here. Don't
you see they're putting on their cloaks?"

"That's false!" rejoined Marvel, in a low tone; "I perceive what has
taken place."

"Oh! goodness!" ejaculated the tapstress, in alarm. "You won't betray
him."

"Say the word, and I'm mum," returned the executioner.

"Will you be mine!"

"It's a very unfair advantage to take--very," replied Mrs. Spurling;
"however I consent."

"Then I'll lend a helping hand. I shall lose my fees and the laced coat.
But it's better to have the bride without the weddin' dress, than the
weddin' dress without the bride."

At this moment, Saint Sepulchre's clock struck six.

"Close the wicket, Austin," vociferated Ireton, in an authoritative
tone.

"Good bye!" cried Jack, as if taking leave of his mistresses,
"to-morrow, at the same time."

"We'll be punctual," replied Mrs. Maggot. "Good bye, Jack! Keep up your
spirits."

"Now for it!--life or death!" exclaimed Jack, assuming the gait of a
female, and stepping towards the door.

As Austin rose to execute his principal's commands, and usher the women
to the gate, Mrs. Spurling and Marvel rose too. The latter walked
carelessly towards the hatch, and leaning his back against the place
whence the spike had been removed, so as completely to hide it,
continued smoking his pipe as coolly as if nothing had happened.

Just as Jack gained the entrance, he heard a man's footstep behind him,
and aware that the slightest indiscretion would betray him, he halted,
uncertain what to do.

"Stop a minute, my dear," cried Austin. "You forget that you promised me
a kiss the last time you were here."

"Won't one from me do as well?" interposed Mrs. Maggot.

"Much better," said Mrs. Spurling, hastening to the rescue. "I want to
speak to Edgeworth Bess myself."

So saying, she planted herself between Jack and the turnkey. It was a
moment of breathless interest to all engaged in the attempt.

"Come--the kiss!" cried Austin, endeavouring to pass his arm familiarly
round the Amazon's waist.

"Hands off!" she exclaimed, "or you'll repent it."

"Why, what'll you do?" demanded the turnkey.

"Teach you to keep your distance!" retorted Mrs. Maggot, dealing him a
buffet that sent him reeling several yards backwards.

"There! off with you!" whispered Mrs. Spurling, squeezing Jack's arm,
and pushing him towards the door, "and, don't come here again."

Before Austin could recover himself, Jack and Mrs. Maggot had
disappeared.

"Bolt the wicket!" shouted Ireton, who, with the others, had been not a
little entertained by the gallant turnkey's discomfiture.

This was done, and Austin returned with a crest-fallen look to the
table. Upon which Mrs. Spurling, and her now accepted suitor, resumed
their seats.

"You'll be as good as your word, my charmer," whispered the executioner.

"Of course," responded the widow, heaving a deep sigh. "Oh! Jack!
Jack!--you little know what a price I've paid for you!"

"Well, I'm glad those women are gone," remarked Shotbolt. "Coupling
their presence with Jack's speech, I couldn't help fearing some mischief
might ensue."

"That reminds me he's still at large," returned Ireton. "Here, Caliban,
go and fasten his padlock."

"Iss, Massa Ireton," replied the black.

"Stop, Caliban," interposed Mrs. Spurling, who wished to protract the
discovery of the escape as long as possible. "Before you go, bring me
the bottle of pine-apple rum I opened yesterday. I should like Mr.
Ireton and his friends to taste it. It is in the lower cupboard. Oh! you
haven't got the key--then _I_ must have it, I suppose. How provoking!"
she added, pretending to rummage her pockets; "one never _can_ find a
thing when one wants it."

"Never mind it, my dear Mrs. Spurling," rejoined Ireton; "we can taste
the rum when he returns. We shall have Mr. Wild here presently, and I
wouldn't for the world--Zounds!" he exclaimed, as the figure of the
thief-taker appeared at the wicket, "here he is. Off with you, Caliban!
Fly, you rascal!"

"Mr. Wild here!" exclaimed Mrs. Spurling in alarm. "Oh gracious! he's
lost."

"Who's lost?" demanded Ireton.

"The key," replied the widow.

All the turnkeys rose to salute the thief-taker, whose habitually-sullen
countenance looked gloomier than usual. Ireton rushed forward to open
the wicket for him.

"No Blueskin, I perceive, Sir," he observed, in a deferential tone, as
Wild entered the Lodge.

"No," replied Jonathan, moodily. "I've been deceived by false
information. But the wench who tricked me shall bitterly repent it. I
hope this is all. I begin to fear I might be purposely go out of the
way. Nothing has gone wrong here?"

"Nothing whatever," replied Ireton. "Jack is just gone back to the
Condemned Hold. His two wives have been here."

"Ha!" exclaimed Jonathan, with a sudden vehemence that electrified the
chief turnkey; "what's this! a spike gone! 'Sdeath! the women, you say,
have been here. He has escaped."

"Impossible, Sir," replied Ireton, greatly alarmed.

"Impossible!" echoed Wild, with a fearful imprecation. "No, Sir, it's
quite possible--more than possible. It's certain. I'll lay my life he's
gone. Come with me to the Condemned Hold directly, and, if I find my
fears confirmed, I'll--"

He was here interrupted by the sudden entrance of the black, who rushed
precipitately into the room, letting fall the heavy bunch of keys in his
fright.

"O Massa Ireton! Massa Wild!" ejaculated Caliban, "Shack Sheppart gone!"

"Gone? you black devil!--Gone?" cried Ireton.

"Iss, Massa. Caliban sarch ebery hole in de place, but Shack no dere.
Only him big hoss padlock--noting else."

"I knew it," rejoined Wild, with concentrated rage; "and he escaped you
all, in broad day, before your faces. You may well say it's impossible!
His Majesty's jail of Newgate is admirably guarded, I must say. Ireton,
you are in league with him."

"Sir," said the chief turnkey, indignantly.

"You _are_, Sir," thundered Jonathan; "and, unless you find him, you
shan't hold your place a week. I don't threaten idly, as you know. And
you, Austin; and you Langley, I say the same thing to you."

"But, Mr. Wild," implored the turnkeys.

"I've said it," rejoined Jonathan, peremptorily. "And you, Marvel, you
must have been a party--"

"I, Sir!"

"If he's not found, I'll get a new hangman."

"Zounds!" cried Marvel, "I--"

"Hush!" whispered the tapstress, "or I retract my promise."

"Mrs. Spurling," said Jonathan, who overheard the whisper, "you owe your
situation to me. If you have aided Jack Sheppard's escape, you shall owe
your discharge to me also."

"As you please, Sir," replied the tapstress, coolly. "And the next time
Captain Darrell wants a witness, I promise you he shan't look for one in
vain."

"Ha! hussy, dare you threaten?" cried Wild; but, checking himself, he
turned to Ireton and asked, "How long have the women been gone?"

"Scarcely five minutes," replied the latter.

"One of you fly to the market," returned Jonathan; "another to the
river; a third to the New Mint. Disperse in every direction. We'll have
him yet. A hundred pounds to the man who takes him."

So saying, he rushed out, followed by Ireton and Langley.

"A hundred pounds!" exclaimed Shotbolt. "That's a glorious reward. Do
you think he'll pay it?"

"I'm sure of it," replied Austin.

"Then I'll have it before to-morrow morning," said the keeper of the New
Prison, to himself. "If Jack Sheppard sups with Mr. Kneebone, I'll make
one of the party."




CHAPTER XI.

Dollis Hill revisited.


About an hour after the occurrences at Newgate, the door of the small
back-parlour already described at Dollis Hill was opened by Winifred,
who, gliding noiselessly across the room, approached a couch, on which
was extended a sleeping female, and, gazing anxiously at her pale
careworn countenance, murmured,--"Heaven be praised! she still
slumbers--slumbers peacefully. The opiate has done its duty. Poor thing!
how beautiful she looks! but how like death!"

Deathlike, indeed, was the repose of the sleeper,--deathlike and deep.
Its very calmness was frightful. Her lips were apart, but no breath
seemed to issue from them; and, but for a slight--very slight
palpitation of the bosom, the vital principle might be supposed to be
extinct. This lifeless appearance was heightened by the extreme
sharpness of her features--especially the nose and chin,--and by the
emaciation of her limbs, which was painfully distinct through her
drapery. Her attenuated arms were crossed upon her breast; and her black
brows and eyelashes contrasted fearfully with the livid whiteness of her
skin. A few short, dark locks, escaping from beneath her head-dress,
showed that her hair had been removed, and had only been recently
allowed to grow again.

"Poor Mrs. Sheppard!" sighed Winifred, as she contemplated the beautiful
wreck before her,--"Poor Mrs. Sheppard! when I see her thus, and think
of all she has endured, of all she may yet have to endure, I could
almost pray for her release from trouble. I dare not reflect upon the
effect that her son's fate,--if the efforts to save him are
ineffectual,--may have upon her enfeebled frame, and still worse upon
her mind. What a mercy that the blow aimed at her by the ruffian, Wild,
though it brought her to the brink of the grave, should have restored
her to reason! Ah! she stirs."

As she said this, she drew a little aside, while Mrs. Sheppard heaved a
deep sigh, and opened her eyes, which now looked larger, blacker, and
more melancholy than ever.

"Where am I?" she cried, passing her hand across her brow.

"With your friends, dear Mrs. Sheppard," replied Winifred, advancing.

"Ah! you are there, my dear young lady," said the widow, smiling
faintly; "when I first waken, I'm always in dread of finding myself
again in that horrible asylum."

"You need never be afraid of that," returned Winifred, affectionately;
"my father will take care you never leave him more."

"Oh! how much I owe him!" said the widow, with fervour, "for bringing
me here, and removing me from those dreadful sights and sounds, that
would have driven me distracted, even if I had been in my right mind.
And how much I owe _you_, too, dearest Winifred, for your kindness and
attention. Without you I should never have recovered either health or
reason. I can never be grateful enough. But, though _I_ cannot reward
you, Heaven will."

"Don't say anything about it, dear Mrs. Sheppard," rejoined Winifred,
controlling her emotion, and speaking as cheerfully as she could; "I
would do anything in the world for you, and so would my father, and so
would Thames; but he _ought_, for he's your nephew, you know. We all
love you dearly."

"Bless you! bless you!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, averting her face to hide
her tears.

"I mustn't tell you what Thames means to do for you if ever he gains his
rights," continued Winifred; "but I _may_ tell you what my father means
to do."

"He has done too much already," answered the widow. "I shall need little
more."

"But, _do_ hear what it is," rejoined Winifred; "you know I'm shortly to
be united to your nephew,--that is," she added, blushing, "when he can
be married by his right name, for my father won't consent to it before."

"Your father will never oppose your happiness, my dear, I'm sure," said
Mrs. Sheppard; "but, what has this to do with me?"

"You shall hear," replied Winifred; "when this marriage takes place, you
and I shall be closely allied, but my father wishes for a still closer
alliance."

"I don't unterstand you," returned Mrs. Sheppard.

"To be plain, then," said Winifred, "he has asked me whether I have any
objection to you as a mother."

"And what--what was your answer?" demanded the widow, eagerly.

"Can't you guess?" returned Winifred, throwing her arms about her neck.
"That he couldn't choose any one so agreeable to me."

"Winifred," said Mrs. Sheppard, after a brief pause, during which she
appeared overcome by her feelings,--she said, gently disengaging herself
from the young girl's embrace, and speaking in a firm voice, "you must
dissuade your father from this step."

"How?" exclaimed the other. "Can you not love him?"

"Love him!" echoed the widow. "The feeling is dead within my breast. My
only love is for my poor lost son. I can esteem him, regard him; but,
love him as he _ought_ to be loved--that I cannot do."

"Your esteem is all he will require," urged Winifred.

"He has it, and will ever have it," replied Mrs. Sheppard,
passionately,--"he has my boundless gratitude, and devotion. But I am
not worthy to be any man's wife--far less _his_ wife. Winifred, you are
deceived in me. You know not what a wretched guilty thing I am. You know
not in what dark places my life has been cast; with what crimes it has
been stained. But the offences I _have_ committed are venial in
comparison with what I should commit were I to wed your father. No--no,
it must never be."

"You paint yourself worse than you are, dear Mrs. Sheppard," rejoined
Winifred kindly. "Your faults were the faults of circumstances."

"Palliate them as you may," replied the widow, gravely, "they _were_
faults; and as such, cannot be repaired by a greater wrong. If you love
me, do not allude to this subject again."

"I'm sorry I mentioned it at all, since it distresses you," returned
Winifred; "but, as I knew my father intended to propose to you, if poor
Jack should be respited--"

"_If_ he should be respited?" repeated Mrs. Sheppard, with startling
eagerness. "Does your father doubt it? Speak! tell me!"

Winifred made no answer.

"Your hesitation convinces me he does," replied the widow. "Is Thames
returned from London?"

"Not yet," replied the other; "but I expect him every minute. My
father's chief fear, I must tell you, is from the baneful influence of
Jonathan Wild."

"That fiend is ever in my path," exclaimed Mrs. Sheppard, with a look,
the wildness of which greatly alarmed her companion. "I cannot scare him
thence."

"Hark!" cried Winifred, "Thames is arrived. I hear the sound of his
horse's feet in the yard. Now you will learn the result."

"Heaven support me!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, faintly.

"Breathe at this phial," said Winifred.

Shortly afterwards,--it seemed an age to the anxious mother,--Mr. Wood
entered the room, followed by Thames. The latter looked very pale,
either from the effect of his wound, which was not yet entirely healed,
or from suppressed emotion,--partly, perhaps, from both causes,--and
wore his left arm in a sling.

"Well!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, raising herself, and looking at him as if
her life depended upon the answer. "He is respited?"

"Alas! no," replied Thames, sadly. "The warrant for his execution is
arrived. There is no further hope."

"My poor son!" groaned the widow, sinking backwards.

"Heaven have mercy on his soul!" ejaculated Wood.

"Poor Jack!" cried Winifred, burying her face in her lover's bosom.

Not a word was uttered for some time, nor any sound heard except the
stilled sobs of the unfortunate mother.

At length, she suddenly started to her feet; and before Winifred could
prevent her, staggered up to Thames.

"When is he to suffer?" she demanded, fixing her large black eyes, which
burnt with an insane gleam, upon him.

"On Friday," he replied.

"Friday!" echoed Mrs. Sheppard; "and to-day is Monday. He has three days
to live. Only three days. Three short days. Horrible!"

"Poor soul! her senses are going again," said Mr. Wood, terrified by
the wildness of her looks. "I was afraid it would be so."

"Only three days," reiterated the widow, "three short short days,--and
then all is over. Jonathan's wicked threat is fulfilled at last. The
gallows is in view--I see it with all its hideous apparatus!--ough!" and
shuddering violently, she placed her hands before her, as if to exclude
some frightful vision from her sight.

"Do not despair, my sweet soul," said Wood, in a soothing tone.

"Do not despair!" echoed Mrs. Sheppard, with a laugh that cut the ears
of those who listened to it like a razor,--"Do not despair! And who or
what shall give me comfort when my son is gone? I have wept till my eyes
are dry,--suffered till my heart is broken,--prayed till the voice of
prayer is dumb,--and all of no avail. He will be hanged--hanged--hanged.
Ha! ha! What have I left but despair and madness? Promise me one thing,
Mr. Wood," she continued, with a sudden change of tone, and convulsively
clutching the carpenter's arm, "promise it me."

"Anything, my dear," replied Wood, "What is it?"

"Bury us together in one grave in Willesden churchyard. There is a small
yew-tree west of the church. Beneath that tree let us lie. In one grave,
mind. Do you promise to do this?"

"Solemnly," rejoined the carpenter.

"Enough," said the widow, gratefully. "I must see him to-night."

"Impossible, dear Mrs. Sheppard," said Thames. "To-morrow I will take
you to him."

"To-morrow will be too late," replied the widow, in a hollow voice, "I
feel it will. I must go to-night, or I shall never behold him again. I
must bless him before I die. I have strength enough to drag myself
there, and I do not want to return."

"Be pacified, sweet soul," said Wood, looking meaningly at Thames; "you
_shall_ go, and I will accompany you."

"A mother's blessing on you," replied Mrs. Sheppard, fervently. "And
now," she added, with somewhat more composure, "leave me, dear friends,
I entreat, for a few minutes to collect my scattered thoughts--to
prepare myself for what I have to go through--to pray for my son."

"Shall we do so?" whispered Winifred to her father.

"By all means," returned Wood; "don't delay an instant." And, followed
by the young couple, who gazed wistfully at the poor sufferer, he
hastily quitted the room, and locked the door after him.

Mrs. Sheppard was no sooner alone than she fell upon her knees by the
side of the couch, and poured forth her heart in prayer. So absorbed was
she by her passionate supplications that she was insensible to anything
passing around her, until she felt a touch upon her shoulder, and heard
a well-known voice breathe in her ear--"Mother!"

She started at the sound as if an apparition had called her, screamed,
and fell into her son's outstretched arms. "Mother! dear mother!" cried
Jack, folding her to his breast.

"My son! my dear, dear son!" returned Mrs. Sheppard, returning his
embrace with all a parent's tenderness.

Jack was completely overcome. His chest heaved violently, and big tears
coursed rapidly down his cheeks.

"I don't deserve it," he said, at length; "but I would have risked a
thousand deaths to enjoy this moment's happiness."

"And you must have risked much to obtain it, my love. I have scarcely
recovered from the shock of hearing of your condemnation, when I behold
you free!"

"Not two hours since," rejoined Jack, "I was chained down in the
Condemned Hold in Newgate. With a small saw, conveyed to me a few days
since by Thames Darrell, which I contrived to conceal upon my person, I
removed a spike in the hatch, and, with the aid of some other friends,
worked my way out. Having heard from Thames that you were better, and
that your sole anxiety was about me, I came to give you the _first_
intelligence of my escape."

"Bless you for it. But you will stay here?"

"I dare not. I must provide for my safety."

"Mr. Wood will protect you," urged Mrs. Sheppard.

"He has not the power--perhaps not the will to do so. And if he would,
_I_ would not subject him to the annoyance. The moment my escape is
known, a large reward will be placed on my head. My dress, my person
will be minutely described. Jonathan Wild and his bloodhounds, with a
hundred others, incited by the reward, will be upon my track. Nay, for
aught I know, some of them may even now have got scent of me."

"You terrify me," cried Mrs. Sheppard. "Oh! if this is the case, do not
stay an instant. Fly! fly!"

"As soon as I can do so with safety, I will return, or send to you,"
said Jack.

"Do not endanger yourself on my account," rejoined his mother. "I am
quite easy now; receive my blessing, my dear son; and if we never meet
again, rest assured my last prayer shall be for you."

"Do not talk thus, dear mother," returned Jack, gazing anxiously at her
pale countenance, "or I shall not be able to quit you. You must live for
me."

"I will try to do so," replied the widow, forcing a smile. "One last
embrace. I need not counsel you to avoid those fatal courses which have
placed you in such fearful jeopardy."

"You need not," replied Jack, in a tone of the deepest compunction.
"And, oh! forgive me, though I can never forgive myself, for the misery
I have caused you."

"Forgive you!" echoed his mother, with a look radiant with delight. "I
have nothing to forgive. Ah!" she screamed, with a sudden change of
manner; and pointing to the window, which Jack had left open, and at
which a dark figure was standing, "there is Jonathan Wild!"

"Betrayed!" exclaimed Jack, glancing in the same direction. "The
door!--the door!--death!" he added, as he tried the handle, "it is
locked--and I am unarmed. Madman that I am to be so!"

"Help!" shrieked Mrs. Sheppard.

"Be silent," said Jonathan, striding deliberately into the room; "these
cries will avail you nothing. Whoever answers them must assist me to
capture your son. Be silent, I say, if you value his safety."

Awed by Jonathan's manner, Mrs. Sheppard repressed the scream that rose
to her lips, and both mother and son gazed with apprehension at the
heavy figure of the thief-taker, which, viewed in the twilight, seemed
dilated to twice its natural size, and appeared almost to block up the
window. In addition to his customary arms, Jonathan carried a bludgeon
with a large heavy knob, suspended from his wrist by a loop; a favourite
weapon, which he always took with him on dangerous expeditions, and
which, if any information had been requisite, would have told Sheppard
that the present was one of them.

"Well, Jack," he said, after a pause, "are you disposed to go back
quietly with me?"

"You'll ascertain that when you attempt to touch me," rejoined Sheppard,
resolutely.

"My janizaries are within call," returned Wild. "I'm armed; you are
not."

"It matters not. You shall not take me alive."

"Spare him! spare him!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, falling on her knees.

"Get up, mother," cried Jack; "do not kneel to him. I wouldn't accept my
life from him. I've foiled him hitherto, and will foil him yet. And,
come what will, I'll balk him of the satisfaction of hanging me."

Jonathan raised his bludgeon, but controlled himself by a powerful
effort.

"Fool!" he cried, "do you think I wouldn't have secured you before this
if I hadn't some motive for my forbearance?"

"And that motive is fear," replied Jack contemptuously.

"Fear!" echoed Wild, in a terrible tone,--"fear! Repeat that word again,
and nothing shall save you."

"Don't anger him, my dear son," implored the poor widow, with a look of
anguish at Jack. "Perhaps he means well."

"Mad as you are, you're the more sensible of the two, I must say,"
rejoined Jonathan.

"Spare him!" cried Mrs, Sheppard, who fancied she had made some
impression on the obdurate breast of the thief-taker,--"spare him! and I
will forgive you, will thank you, bless you. Spare him! spare him!"

"On one condition I _will_ spare him," returned Wild; "on one condition
only."

"What is it?" asked the poor woman.

"Either he or you must return with me," answered Jonathan.

"Take _me_, then," replied the widow. And she would have rushed to him,
if she had not been forcibly withheld by her son.

"Do not go near him, mother," cried Jack; "do not believe him. There is
some deep treachery hidden beneath his words."

"I _will_ go," said Mrs. Sheppard, struggling to get free.

"Attend to me, Mrs. Sheppard," said Jonathan, looking calmly on at this
distressing scene, "Attend to me, and do not heed him. I swear to you,
solemnly swear to you, I will save your son's life, nay more, will
befriend him, will place him out of the reach of his enemies, if you
consent to become my wife."

"Execrable villain!" exclaimed Jack.

"You hear that," cried Mrs. Sheppard; "he swears to save you."

"Well," replied her son; "and you spurn the proposal."

"No; she accepts it," rejoined Jonathan, triumphantly. "Come along, Mrs.
Sheppard. I've a carriage within call shall convey you swiftly to town.
Come! come!"

"Hear me, mother," cried Jack, "and I will explain to you _why_ the
villain makes this strange and revolting proposal. He well knows that
but two lives--those of Thames Darrell and Sir Rowland Trenchard,--stand
between you and the vast possessions of the family. Those lives
removed,--and Sir Rowland is completely in his power, the estates would
be yours--HIS! if he were your husband. Now do you see his motive?"

"I see nothing but your danger," replied his mother, tenderly.

"Granted it were as you say, Jack," said Wild;--"and I sha'n't take the
trouble to contradict you--the estates would be _yours_ hereafter."

"Liar!" cried Jack. "Do you affect ignorance that I am a condemned
felon, and can inherit nothing? But do not imagine that under any
circumstances I would accept your terms. My mother shall never degrade
herself by a connection with you."

"Degrade herself," rejoined Jonathan, brutally. "Do you think I would
take a harlot to my bed, if it didn't suit my purposes to do so?"

"He says right," replied Mrs. Sheppard, distractedly. "I am only fit for
such as him. Take me! take me!"

"Before an hour you shall be mine," said Jonathan advancing towards her.

"Back!" cried Jack fiercely: "lay a finger on her, and I will fell you
to the ground. Mother! do you know what you do? Would you sell yourself
to this fiend?"

"I would sell myself, body and soul, to save you," rejoined his mother,
bursting from his grasp.

Jonathan caught her in his arms.

"Come away!" he cried, with the roar of a demon.

This laugh and his looks alarmed her.

"It _is_ the fiend!" she exclaimed, recoiling. "Save me!--save me!"

"Damnation!" vociferated Jonathan, savagely. "We've no time for any
Bedlam scenes now. Come along, you mad jade. I'll teach you submission
in time."

With this, he endeavoured to force her off; but, before he could
accomplish his purpose, he was arrested, and his throat seized by Jack.
In the struggle, Mrs. Sheppard broke from him, and filled the room with
her shrieks.

"I'll now pay the debt I owe you," cried Jack, tightening his grip till
the thief-taker blackened in the face.

"Dog!" cried Wild, freeing himself by a powerful effort, and dealing
Jack a violent blow with the heavy bludgeon, which knocked him
backwards, "you are not yet a match for Jonathan Wild. Neither you nor
your mother shall escape me. But I must summon my janizaries." So
saying, he raised a whistle to his lips, and blew a loud call; and, as
this was unanswered, another still louder. "Confusion!" he cried;
"something has happened. But I won't be cheated of my prize."

"Help! help!" shrieked Mrs. Sheppard, fleeing from him to the farthest
corner of the room.

But it was of no avail. Jonathan again seized her, when the door was
thrown open, and Thames Darrell, followed by Mr. Wood and several
serving-men, all well armed, rushed into the room. A glance sufficed to
show the young man how matters stood. He flew to the window, and would
have passed his sword through the thief-taker's body, if the latter had
not quickly interposed the person of Mrs. Sheppard, so that if the blow
had been stricken she must have received it.

"Quilt!--Mendez!--Where are you?" vociferated Wild, sounding his whistle
for the third time.

"You call in vain," rejoined Thames. "Your assistants are in my power.
Yield, villain!"

"Never!" replied Jonathan.

"Put down your burthen, monster!" shouted Wood, pointing an immense
blunderbuss at him.

"Take her," cried Jonathan; and, flinging the now inanimate body of the
poor widow, who had fainted in the struggle, into the arms of Thames, he
leapt through the window, and by the time the latter could consign her
to Wood, and dart after him, he had disappeared.

"Pursue him," cried Thames to the attendants, "and see that he does not
escape."

The order was promptly obeyed.

"Jack," continued Thames, addressing Sheppard, who had only just
recovered from the blow, and regained his feet, "I don't ask _how_ you
came here, nor do I blame your rashness in doing so. Fortunately, ever
since Wild's late murderous attack, the household has all been well
armed. A post-chaise seen in the road first alarmed us. On searching
the grounds, we found two suspicious-looking fellows in the garden, and
had scarcely secured them, when your mother's cries summoned us hither,
just in time to preserve her."

"Your arrival was most providential," said Jack.

"You must not remain here another instant," replied Thames. "My horse is
at the door, saddled, with pistols in the holsters,--mount him and fly."

"Thames, I have much to say," said Jack, "much that concerns your
safety."

"Not now," returned Thames, impatiently. "I cannot--will not suffer you
to remain here."

"I will go, if you will consent to meet me at midnight near the old
house in Wych Street," replied Jack. "By that time, I shall have fully
considered a plan which occurs to me for defeating the schemes of your
enemies."

"Before that time you will be captured, if you expose yourself thus,"
rejoined Thames. "However, I will be there. Farewell."

"Till midnight," replied Jack.

And imprinting a kiss upon his mother's cold lips, he left the room. He
found the horse where Thames told him he would find him, mounted, and
rode off across the fields in the direction of town.




CHAPTER XII.

The Well Hole.


Jonathan Wild's first object, as soon as he had made good his retreat,
was to ascertain what had become of his janizaries, and, if possible, to
release them. With this view, he hurried to the spot where he had left
the post-chaise, and found it drawn up at the road-side, the postilion
dismounted, and in charge of a couple of farming-men. Advancing towards
them, sword in hand, Jonathan so terrified the hinds by his fierce looks
and determined manner, that, after a slight show of resistance, they
took to their heels, leaving him master of the field. He then threw
open the door of the vehicle, in which he found his janizaries with
their arms pinioned, and, leaping into it, ordered the man to drive off.
The postilion obeyed, and dashed off as hard as his horses could gallop
along the beautiful road leading to Neasdon and Willesden, just as the
serving-men made their appearance. Arrived at the latter place,
Jonathan, who, meanwhile, had contrived to liberate his attendants from
their bonds, drew up at the Six Bells, and hiring a couple of horses,
despatched his attendants in search of Jack Sheppard, while he proceeded
to town. Dismissing the post-chaise at the Old Bailey, he walked to
Newgate to ascertain what had occurred since the escape. It was just
upon the stroke of nine as he entered the Lodge, and Mr. Austin was
dismissing a host of inquirers who had been attracted thither by the
news,--for it had already been extensively noised abroad. Some of these
persons were examining the spot where the spike had been cut off; others
the spike itself, now considered a remarkable object; and all were
marvelling how Jack could have possibly squeezed himself through such a
narrow aperture, until it was explained to them by Mr. Austin that the
renowned housebreaker was of slender bodily conformation, and therefore
able to achieve a feat, which he, Mr. Austin, or any man of similar
dimensions, would have found wholly impossible. Affixed to the wall, in
a conspicuous situation, was a large placard, which, after minutely
describing Sheppard's appearance and attire, concluded thus:--"_Whoever
will discover or apprehend the above_ JOHN SHEPPARD, _so that he be
brought to justice, shall receive_ ONE HUNDRED GUINEAS REWARD, _to be
paid by_ MR. PITT, _the keeper of Newgate_."

This placard attracted universal attention. While Jonathan was
conversing with Austin, from whom he took care to conceal the fact of
his having seen Sheppard since his escape, Ireton entered the Lodge.

"Altogether unsuccessful, Sir," said the chief turnkey, with a look of
disappointment, not unmixed with apprehension, as he approached Wild.
"I've been to all the flash cases in town, and can hear nothing of him
or his wives. First, I went to Country Tom's, the Goat, in Long Lane.
Tom swore he hadn't set eyes on him since the trial. I next proceeded to
Jenny Bunch's, the Ship, in Trig Lane--there I got the same answer. Then
to the Feathers, in Drury Lane. Then to the Golden Ball, in the same
street. Then to Martin's brandy-shop, in Fleet Street. Then to Dan
Ware's, in Hanging Sword Court. Then to the Dean's Head, in St. Martin's
Le Grand. And, lastly, to the Seven Cities o' Refuge, in the New Mint.
And nowhere could I obtain the slightest information."

"Humph!" exclaimed Wild.

"Have you been more successful, Sir?" ventured Ireton.

Jonathan shook his head.

"Mr. Shotbolt thinks he has a scheme that can't fail," interposed
Austin; "but he wishes to know whether you'll be as good as your word,
in respect to the great reward you offered for Jack's capture."

"Have I ever broken my word in such matters, that he dares put the
question?" rejoined Jonathan sternly. "Tell Mr. Shotbolt that if he, or
any other person, takes Jack Sheppard before to-morrow morning, I'll
double it. Do you hear?"

"I do, Sir," replied Austin respectfully.

"Two hundred pounds, if he's lodged in Newgate before to-morrow
morning," continued Wild. "Make it known among your friends." And he
strode out of the place.

"Two hundred pounds!" exclaimed Ireton, "besides the governor's
offer--that's three hundred. I must go to work again. Keep a sharp look
out, Austin, and see that we lose no one else. I should be sorry if
Shotbolt got the reward."

"Devilish hard! I'm not allowed a chance," grumbled Austin, as he was
left alone. "However, some one _must_ look after the jail; and they're
all gone but me. It's fortunate we've no more Jack Sheppards, or I
should stand but a poor chance. Well, I don't think they'll any of 'em
nab him, that's one comfort."

On quitting the Lodge, Wild repaired to his own habitation. Telling the
porter that he would attend to the house himself, he bade him go in
search of Jack Sheppard. There was something in Jonathan's manner, as he
issued this command, that struck the man as singular, and he afterwards
recalled it. He, however, made no remark at the time, but instantly
prepared to set out. As soon as he was gone, Jonathan went up stairs to
the audience-chamber; and, sitting down, appeared for some time buried
in reflection. The dark and desperate thoughts that were passing through
his mind at this time will presently be shown. After a while, he raised
his eyes; and, if their glance could have been witnessed at the moment,
it could not have been easily forgotten. Muttering something to himself,
he appeared to be telling upon his fingers the advantages and
disadvantages of some scheme he had in contemplation. That he had
resolved upon its execution, whatever it might be, was evident from his
saying aloud,--

"I will do it. So good an opportunity may never occur again."

Upon this he arose, and paced the room hastily backwards and forwards,
as if further arranging his plans. He then unlocked a cabinet, opened a
secret drawer, and, lifter ransacking its contents, discovered a paper
he was in search of, and a glove. Laying these carefully aside, he
restored the drawer to its place. His next occupation was to take out
his pistols, examine the priming, and rub the flints. His sword then
came in for his scrutiny: he felt at, and appeared satisfied with its
edge. This employment seemed to afford him the highest satisfaction; for
a diabolical grin--it cannot be called a smile--played upon his face all
the time he was engaged in it. His sword done with, he took up the
bludgeon; balanced it in his hand; upon the points of his fingers; and
let it fall with a smash, intentionally, upon the table.

"After all," he said, "this is the safest weapon. No instrument I've
ever used has done me such good service. It _shall_ be the bludgeon." So
saying, he slung it upon his wrist.

Taking up a link, which was blazing beside him, he walked across the
room; and touching a spring in the wall, a secret door flew open. Beyond
was a narrow bridge, crossing a circular building, at the bottom of
which lay a deep well. It was a dark mysterious place, and what it was
used for no one exactly knew; but it was called by those who had seen it
the Well Hole. The bridge was protected on either side by a railing with
bannisters placed at wide intervals. Steps to aid the descent, which was
too steep to be safe without them, led to, a door on the opposite side.
This door, which was open, Jonathan locked and took out the key. As he
stood upon the bridge, he held down the light, and looked into the
profound abyss. The red glare fell upon the slimy brick-work, and tinged
the inky waters below. A slight cough uttered by Jonathan at the moment
awakened the echoes of the place, and was returned in hollow
reverberations. "There'll be a louder echo here presently," thought
Jonathan. Before leaving the place he looked upwards, and could just
discern the blue vault and pale stars of Heaven through an iron grating
at the top.

On his return to the room, Jonathan purposely left the door of the Well
Hole ajar. Unlocking a cupboard, he then took out some cold meat and
other viands, with a flask of wine, and a bottle of brandy, and began to
eat and drink voraciously. He had very nearly cleared the board, when a
knock was heard below, and descending at the summons, he found his two
janizaries. They had both been unsuccessful. As Jonathan scarcely
expected a more satisfactory result, he made no comment; but, ordering
Quilt to continue his search, and not to return until he had found the
fugitive, called Abraham Mendez into the house, and shut the door.

"I want you for the job I spoke of a short time ago, Nab," he said. "I
mean to have no one but yourself in it. Come up stairs, and take a glass
of brandy."

Abraham grinned, and silently followed his master, who, as soon as they
reached the audience-chamber, poured out a bumper of spirits, and
presented it to him. The Jew swallowed it at a draught.

"By my shoul!" he exclaimed, smacking his lips, "dat ish goot--very
goot."

"You shall finish the bottle when the job's done," replied Jonathan.

"Vat ish it, Mishter Vild?" inquired Mendez. "Shir Rowland Trenchard's
affair--eh?"

"That's it," rejoined Jonathan; "I expect him here every minute. When
you've admitted him, steal into the room, hide yourself, and don't move
till I utter the words, 'You've a long journey before you.' That's your
signal."

"And a famoush goot shignal it ish," laughed Abraham. "He hash a long
journey before him--ha! ha!"

"Peace!" cried Jonathan. "There's his knock. Go, and let him in. And
mind you don't arouse his suspicions."

"Never fear--never fear," rejoined Abraham, as he took up the link, and
left the room.

Jonathan cast a hasty glance around, to see that all was properly
arranged for his purpose; placed a chair with its back to the door;
disposed the lights on the table so as to throw the entrance of the room
more into shadow; and then flung himself into a seat to await Sir
Rowland's arrival.

He had not to wait long. Enveloped in a large cloak, Sir Rowland stalked
into the room, and took the seat assigned him; while the Jew, who
received a private signal from Jonathan, set down the link near the
entrance of the Well Hole, and, having made fast the door, crept behind
one of the cases.

Fancying they were alone, Sir Rowland threw aside his cloak, and
produced a heavy bag of money, which he flung upon the table; and, when
Wild had feasted his greedy eyes sufficiently upon its golden contents,
he handed him a pocket-book filled with notes.

"You have behaved like a man of honour, Sir Rowland," said Wild, after
he had twice told over the money. "Right to a farthing."

"Give me an acquittance," said Trenchard.

"It's scarcely necessary," replied Wild; "however, if you require it,
certainly. There it is. 'Received from Sir Rowland Trenchard, 15,000
£.--Jonathan Wild: August 31st, 1724.' Will that do?"

"It will," replied Trenchard. "This is our last transaction together."

"I hope not," replied Wild.

"It is the last," continued the knight, sternly; "and I trust we may
never meet again, I have paid you this large sum--not because you are
entitled to it, for you have failed in what you undertook to do, but
because I desire to be troubled with you no further. I have now settled
my affairs, and made every preparation for my departure to France, where
I shall spend the remainder of my days. And I have made such
arrangements that at my decease tardy justice will be done my injured
nephew."

"You have made no such arrangements as will compromise me, I hope, Sir
Rowland?" said Wild, hastily.

"While I live you are safe," rejoined Trenchard; "after my death I can
answer for nothing."

"'Sblood!" exclaimed Wild, uneasily. "This alters the case materially.
When were you last confessed, Sir Rowland?" he added abruptly.

"Why do you ask?" rejoined the other haughtily.

"Because--because I'm always distrustful of a priest," rejoined
Jonathan.

"I have just parted from one," said Trenchard.

"So much the worse," replied Jonathan, rising and taking a turn, as if
uncertain what to do.

"So much the better," rejoined Sir Rowland. "He who stands on the verge
of the grave, as I do, should never be unprepared."

"You're strangely superstitious, Sir Rowland," said Jonathan, halting,
and looking steadfastly at him.

"If I were so, I should not be here," returned Trenchard.

"How so?" asked Wild, curiously.

"I had a terrible dream last night. I thought my sister and her murdered
husband dragged me hither, to this very room, and commanded you to slay
me."

"A terrible dream, indeed," said Jonathan thoughtfully. "But you
mustn't indulge these gloomy thoughts. Let me recommend a glass of
wine."

"My penance forbids it," said Trenchard, waving his hand. "I cannot
remain here long."

"You will remain longer than you anticipate," muttered Wild.

"Before I go," continued Sir Rowland, "I must beg of you to disclose to
me all you know relative to the parentage of Thames Darrell."

"Willingly," replied Wild. "Thinking it likely you might desire to have
this information, I prepared accordingly. First, look at this glove. It
belonged to his father, and was worn by him on the night he was
murdered. You will observe that a coronet is embroidered on it."

"Ha!" exclaimed Trenchard, starting, "is he so highly born?"

"This letter will inform you," replied Wild, placing a document in his
hand.

"What is this!" cried Sir Rowland. "I know the hand--ha! my friend! and
I have murdered _him_! And my sister was thus nobly, thus illustriously
wedded. O God! O God!"

And he appeared convulsed with agony.

"Oh! if I had known this," he exclaimed, "what guilt, what remorse might
have been spared me!"

"Repentance comes too late when the deed's done," returned Wild,
bitterly.

"It is not too late to repair the wrong I have done my nephew," cried
Trenchard. "I will set about it instantly. He shall have the estates. I
will return to Manchester at once."

"You had better take some refreshment before you start," rejoined Wild.
"'_You've a long journey before you._'"

As the signal was given, the Jew, who had been some time in expectation
of it, darted swiftly and silently behind Sir Rowland, and flung a cloth
over his head, while Jonathan, rushing upon him in front, struck him
several quick and violent blows in the face with the bludgeon. The
white cloth was instantly dyed with crimson; but, regardless of this,
Jonathan continued his murderous assault. The struggles of the wounded
man were desperate--so desperate, that in his agony he overset the
table, and, in the confusion, tore off the cloth, and disclosed a face
horribly mutilated, and streaming with blood. So appalling was the
sight, that even the murderers--familiar as they were with scenes of
slaughter,--looked aghast at it.

During this dreadful pause the wretched man felt for his sword. It had
been removed from the scabbard by the Jew. He uttered a deep groan, but
said nothing.

"Despatch him!" roared Jonathan.

Having no means of defence, Sir Rowland cleared the blood from his
vision; and, turning to see whether there was any means of escape, he
descried the open door behind him leading to the Well Hole, and
instantly darted through it.

"As I could wish!" cried Jonathan. "Bring the light, Nab."

The Jew snatched up the link, and followed him.

A struggle of the most terrific kind now ensued. The wounded man had
descended the bridge, and dashed himself against the door beyond it;
but, finding it impossible to force his way further, he turned to
confront his assailants. Jonathan aimed a blow at him, which, if it had
taken place, must have instantly terminated the strife; but, avoiding
this, he sprang at the thief-taker, and grappled with him. Firmly built,
as it was, the bridge creaked in such a manner with their contending
efforts, that Abraham durst not venture beyond the door, where he stood,
holding the light, a horrified spectator of the scene. The contest,
however, though desperate, was brief. Disengaging his right arm,
Jonathan struck his victim a tremendous blow on the head with the
bludgeon, that fractured his skull; and, exerting all his strength,
threw him over the rails, to which he clung with the tenacity of
despair.

"Spare me!" he groaned, looking upwards. "Spare me!"

Jonathan, however, instead of answering him, searched for his knife,
with the intention of severing his wrist. But not finding it, he had
again recourse to the bludgeon, and began beating the hand fixed on the
upper rail, until, by smashing the fingers, he forced it to relinquish
its hold. He then stamped upon the hand on the lower bannister, until
that also relaxed its gripe.

Sir Rowland then fell.

A hollow plunge, echoed and re-echoed by the walls, marked his descent
into the water.

"Give me the link," cried Jonathan.

Holding down the light, he perceived that the wounded man had risen to
the surface, and was trying to clamber up the slippery sides of the
well.

"Shoot him! shoot him! Put him out of hish mishery," cried the Jew.

"What's the use of wasting a shot?" rejoined Jonathan, savagely. "He
can't get out."

After making several ineffectual attempts to keep himself above water,
Sir Rowland sunk, and his groans, which had become gradually fainter and
fainter, were heard no more.

"All's over," muttered Jonathan.

"Shall ve go back to de other room?" asked the Jew. "I shall breathe
more freely dere. Oh! Christ! de door's shut! It musht have schwung to
during de schuffle!"

"Shut!" exclaimed Wild. "Then we're imprisoned. The spring can't be
opened on this side."

"Dere's de other door!" cried Mendez, in alarm.

"It only leads to the fencing crib," replied Wild. "There's no outlet
that way."

"Can't ve call for asshistanche?"

"And who'll find us, if we do?" rejoined Wild, fiercely. "But they
_will_ find the evidences of slaughter in the other room,--the table
upset,--the bloody cloth,--the dead man's sword,--the money,--and my
memorandum, which I forgot to remove. Hell's curses! that after all my
precautions I should be thus entrapped. It's all your fault, you shaking
coward! and, but that I feel sure you'll swing for your carelessness,
I'd throw you into the well, too."




CHAPTER XIII.

The Supper at Mr. Kneebone's.


Persuaded that Jack Sheppard would keep his appointment with Mr.
Kneebone, and feeling certain of capturing him if he did so, Shotbolt,
on quitting Newgate, hurried to the New Prison to prepare for the
enterprise. After debating with himself for some time whether he should
employ an assistant, or make the attempt alone, his love of gain
overcame his fears, and he decided upon the latter plan. Accordingly,
having armed himself with various weapons, including a stout oaken staff
then ordinarily borne by the watch, and put a coil of rope and a gag in
his pocket, to be ready in case of need, he set out, about ten o'clock,
on the expedition.

Before proceeding to Wych Street, he called at the Lodge to see how
matters were going on, and found Mrs. Spurling and Austin at their
evening meal, with Caliban in attendance.

"Well, Mr. Shotbolt," cried the turnkey, "I've good news for you. Mr.
Wild has doubled his offer, and the governor has likewise proclaimed a
reward of one hundred guineas for Jack's apprehension."

"You don't say so!" exclaimed Shotbolt.

"Read that," rejoined Austin, pointing to the placard. "I ought to tell
you that Mr. Wild's reward is conditional upon Jack's being taken before
to-morrow morning. So I fear there's little chance of any one getting
it."

"You think so, eh?" chuckled Shotbolt, who was eagerly perusing the
reward, and congratulating himself upon his caution; "you think so--ha!
ha! Well, don't go to bed, that's all."

"What for?" demanded the turnkey.

"Because the prisoner's arrival might disturb you--ha! ha!"

"I'll lay you twenty guineas you don't take him to-night," rejoined
Austin.

"Done!" cried Shotbolt. "Mrs. Spurling, you're a witness to the bet.
Twenty guineas, mind. I shan't let you off a farthing. Egad! I shall
make a good thing of it."

"Never count your chickens till they're hatched," observed Mrs.
Spurling, drily.

"_My_ chickens are hatched, or, at least, nearly so," replied Shotbolt,
with increased merriment. "Get ready your heaviest irons, Austin. I'll
send you word when I catch him."

"You'd better send _him_," jeered the turnkey.

"So I will," rejoined Shotbolt; "so I will. If I don't, you shall clap
me in the Condemned Hold in his stead. Good-bye, for the pressent--ha!
ha!" And, laughing loudly at his own facetiousness, he quitted the
Lodge.

"I'll lay my life he's gone on a fox-and-goose-chase to Mr. Kneebone's,"
remarked Austin, rising to fasten the door.

"I shouldn't wonder," replied Mrs. Spurling, as if struck by a sudden
idea. And, while the turnkey was busy with the keys, she whispered to
the black, "Follow him, Caliban. Take care he don't see you,--and bring
me word where he goes, and what he does."

"Iss, missis," grinned the black.

"Be so good as to let Caliban out, Mr. Austin," continued the tapstress;
"he's only going on an errand."

Austin readily complied with her request. As he returned to the table,
he put his finger to his nose; and, though he said nothing, he thought
he had a much better chance of winning his wager.

Unconscious that his movements were watched, Shotbolt, meanwhile,
hastened towards Wych Street. On the way, he hired a chair with a couple
of stout porters, and ordered them to follow him. Arrived within a short
distance of his destination, he came to a halt, and pointing out a dark
court nearly opposite the woollen-draper's abode, told the chairmen to
wait there till they were summoned.

"I'm a peace-officer," he added, "about to arrest a notorious criminal.
He'll be brought out at this door, and may probably make some
resistance. But you must get him into the chair as fast as you can, and
hurry off to Newgate."

"And what'll we get for the job, yer hon'r?" asked the foremost
chairman, who, like most of his tribe at the time, was an Irishman.

"Five guineas. Here's a couple in hand."

"Faix, then we'll do it in style," cried the fellow. "Once in this
chair, yer hon'r, and I'll warrant he'll not get out so aisily as Jack
Sheppard did from the New Pris'n."

"Hold your tongue, sirrah," rejoined Shotbolt, not over-pleased by the
remark, "and mind what I tell you. Ah! what's that?" he exclaimed, as
some one brushed hastily past him. "If I hadn't just left him, I could
have sworn it was Mrs. Spurling's sooty imp, Caliban."

Having seen the chairmen concealed in the entry, Shotbolt proceeded to
Mr. Kneebone's habitation, the shutters of which were closed, and
knocked at the door. The summons was instantly answered by a shop-boy.

"Is your master at home?" inquired the jailer.

"He is," replied a portly personage, arrayed in a gorgeous yellow
brocade dressing-gown, lined with cherry-coloured satin, and having a
crimson velvet cap, surmounted by a gold tassel, on his head. "My name
is Kneebone," added the portly personage, stepping forward. "What do you
want with me?"

"A word in private," replied the other.

"Stand aside, Tom," commanded Kneebone. "Now Sir," he added, glancing
suspiciously at the applicant "your business?"

"My business is to acquaint you that Jack Sheppard has escaped, Mr.
Kneebone," returned Shotbolt.

"The deuce he has! Why, it's only a few hours since I beheld him chained
down with half a hundred weight of iron, in the strongest ward at
Newgate. It's almost incredible. Are you sure you're not misinformed,
Sir?"

"I was in the Lodge at the time," replied the jailer.

"Then, of course, you must know. Well, it's scarcely credible. When I
gave him an invitation to supper, I little thought he'd accept it. But,
egad! I believe he _will_."

"I'm convinced of it," replied Shotbolt; "and it was on that very
account I came here." And he proceeded to unfold his scheme to the
woollen-draper.

"Well, Sir," said Kneebone, when the other concluded, "I shall certainly
not oppose his capture, but, at the same time, I'll lend you no
assistance. If he keeps _his_ word, I'll keep _mine_. You must wait till
supper's over."

"As you please, Sir,--provided you don't let him off."

"That I'll engage not to do. I've another reason for supposing he'll pay
me a visit. I refused to sign a petition in his behalf to the Recorder;
not from any ill-will to him, but because it was prepared by a person
whom I particularly dislike--Captain Darrell."

"A very sufficient reason," answered the jailer.

"Tom," continued Kneebone, calling to the shop-boy, "don't go home. I
may want you. Light the lantern. And, if you hear any odd noise in the
parlour, don't mind it."

"Not in the least, Sir," replied Tom, in a drowsy tone, and with a look
seeming to imply that he was too much accustomed to odd noises at night
to heed them.

"Now, step this way, Mr. What's-your-name?"

"Shotbolt, Sir," replied the jailer.

"Very well, Mr. Slipshod; follow me." And he led the way to an inner
room, in the middle of which stood a table, covered with a large white
cloth.

"Jack Sheppard knows this house, I believe, Sir," observed Shotbolt.

"Every inch of it," replied the woollen-draper. "He _ought_ to do,
seeing that he served his apprenticeship in it to Mr. Wood, by whom it
was formerly occupied. His name is carved upon a beam up stairs."

"Indeed!" said Shotbolt. "Where can I hide myself?" he added, glancing
round the room in search of a closet.

"Under the table. The cloth nearly touches the floor. Give me your
staff. It'll be in your way."

"Suppose he brings Blueskin, or some other ruffian with him," hesitated
the jailer.

"Suppose he does. In that case I'll help you. We shall be equally
matched. You're not afraid, Mr. Shoplatch."

"Not in the least," replied Shotbolt, creeping beneath the table;
"there's my staff. Am I quite hidden?"

"Not quite;--keep your feet in. Mind you don't stir till supper's over.
I'll stamp twice when we've done."

"I forgot to mention there's a trifling reward for his capture," cried
Shotbolt, popping his head from under the cloth. "If we take him, I
don't mind giving you a share--say a fourth--provided you lend a helping
hand."

"Curse your reward!" exclaimed Kneebone, angrily. "Do you take me for a
thief-catcher, like Jonathan Wild, that you dare to affront me by such a
proposal?"

"No offence, Sir," rejoined the jailer, humbly. "I didn't imagine for a
moment that you'd accept it, but I thought it right to make you the
offer."

"Be silent, and conceal yourself. I'm about to ring for supper."

The woollen-draper's application to the bell was answered by a very
pretty young woman, with dark Jewish features, roguish black eyes, sleek
glossy hair, a trim waist, and a remarkably neat figure: the very model,
in short, of a bachelor's housekeeper.

"Rachel," said Mr. Kneebone, addressing his comely attendant; "put a few
more plates on the table, and bring up whatever there is in the larder.
I expect company."

"Company!" echoed Rachel; "at this time of night?"

"Company, child," repeated Kneebone. "I shall want a bottle or two of
sack, and a flask of usquebaugh."

"Anything else, Sir?"

"No:--stay! you'd better not bring up any silver forks or spoons."

"Why, surely you don't think your guests would steal them," observed
Rachel, archly.

"They shan't have the opportunity," replied Kneebone. And, by way of
checking his housekeeper's familiarity, he pointed significantly to the
table.

"Who's there?" cried Rachel. "I'll see." And before she could be
prevented, she lifted up the cloth, and disclosed Shotbolt. "Oh,
Gemini!" she exclaimed. "A man!"

"At your service, my dear," replied the jailer.

"Now your curiosity's satisfied, child," continued Kneebone, "perhaps,
you'll attend to my orders."

Not a little perplexed by the mysterious object she had seen, Rachel
left the room, and, shortly afterwards returned with the materials of a
tolerably good supper;--to wit, a couple of cold fowls, a tongue, the
best part of a sirloin of beef, a jar of pickles, and two small dishes
of pastry. To these she added the wine and spirits directed, and when
all was arranged looked inquisitively at her master.

"I expect a very extraordinary person to supper, Rachel," he remarked.

"The gentleman under the table," she answered. "He _does_ seem a very
extraordinary person."

"No; another still more extraordinary."

"Indeed!--who is it?"

"Jack Sheppard."

"What! the famous housebreaker. I thought he was in Newgate."

"He's let out for a few hours," laughed Kneebone; "but he's going back
again after supper."

"Oh, dear! how I should like to see him. I'm told he's so handsome."

"I'm sorry I can't indulge you," replied her master, a little piqued. "I
shall want nothing more. You had better go to bed."

"It's no use going to bed," answered Rachel. "I shan't sleep a wink
while Jack Sheppard's in the house."

"Keep in your own room, at all events," rejoined Kneebone.

"Very well," said Rachel, with a toss of her pretty head, "very well.
I'll have a peep at him, if I die for it," she muttered, as she went
out.

Mr. Kneebone, then, sat down to await the arrival of his expected guest.
Half an hour passed, but Jack did not make his appearance. The
woollen-draper looked at his watch. It was eleven o'clock. Another long
interval elapsed. The watch was again consulted. It was now a quarter
past twelve. Mr. Kneebone, who began to feel sleepy, wound it up, and
snuffed the candles.

"I suspect our friend has thought better of it, and won't come," he
remarked.

"Have a little patience, Sir," rejoined the jailer.

"How are you off there, Shoplatch?" inquired Kneebone. "Rather cramped,
eh?"

"Rather so, Sir," replied the other, altering his position. "I shall be
able to stretch my limbs presently--ha! ha!"

"Hush!" cried Kneebone, "I hear a noise without. He's coming."

The caution was scarcely uttered, when the door opened, and Jack
Sheppard presented himself. He was wrapped in a laced roquelaure, which
he threw off on his entrance into the room. It has been already
intimated that Jack had an excessive passion for finery; and it might
have been added, that the chief part of his ill-gotten gains was devoted
to the embellishment of his person. On the present occasion, he appeared
to have bestowed more than ordinary attention on his toilette. His
apparel was sumptuous in the extreme, and such as was only worn by
persons of the highest distinction. It consisted of a full-dress coat of
brown flowered velvet, laced with silver; a waistcoat of white satin,
likewise richly embroidered; shoes with red heels, and large diamond
buckles; pearl-coloured silk stockings with gold clocks; a muslin
cravat, or steen-kirk, as it was termed, edged with the fine point lace;
ruffles of the same material, and so ample as almost to hide the tips of
his fingers; and a silver-hilted sword. This costume, though somewhat
extravagant, displayed his slight, but perfectly-proportioned figure to
the greatest advantage. The only departure which he made from the
fashion of the period, was in respect to the peruke--an article he could
never be induced to wear. In lieu of it, he still adhered to the sleek
black crop, which, throughout life, formed a distinguishing feature in
his appearance. Ever since the discovery of his relationship to the
Trenchard family, a marked change had taken place in Jack's demeanour
and looks, which were so much refined and improved that he could
scarcely be recognised as the same person. Having only seen him in the
gloom of a dungeon, and loaded with fetters, Kneebone had not noticed
this alteration: but he was now greatly struck by it. Advancing towards
him, he made him a formal salutation, which was coldly returned.

"I am expected, I find," observed Jack, glancing at the well-covered
board.

"You are," replied Kneebone. "When I heard of your escape, I felt sure I
should see you."

"You judged rightly," rejoined Jack; "I never yet broke an engagement
with friend or foe--and never will."

"A bold resolution," said the woollen-draper. "You must have made some
exertion to keep your present appointment. Few men could have done as
much."

"Perhaps not," replied Jack, carelessly. "I would have done more, if
necessary."

"Well, take a chair," rejoined Kneebone. "I've waited supper, you
perceive."

"First, let me introduce my friends," returned Jack, stepping to the
door.

"Friends!" echoed Kneebone, with a look of dismay. "My invitation did
not extend to them."

Further remonstrance, however, was cut short by the sudden entrance of
Mrs. Maggot and Edgeworth Bess. Behind them stalked Blueskin, enveloped
in a rough great-coat, called--appropriately enough in this instance,--a
wrap-rascal. Folding his arms, he placed his back against the door, and
burst into a loud laugh. The ladies were, as usual, very gaily dressed;
and as usual, also, had resorted to art to heighten their attractions--

    From patches, justly placed, they borrow'd graces,
    And with vermilion lacquer'd o'er their faces.

Edgeworth Bess wore a scarlet tabby negligée,--a sort of undress, or
sack, then much in vogue,--which suited her to admiration, and upon her
head had what was called a fly-cap, with richly-laced lappets. Mrs.
Maggot was equipped in a light blue riding-habit, trimmed with silver, a
hunting-cap and a flaxen peruke, and, instead of a whip, carried a stout
cudgel.

For a moment, Kneebone had hesitated about giving the signal to
Shotbolt, but, thinking a more favourable opportunity might occur, he
determined not to hazard matters by undue precipitation. Placing chairs,
therefore, he invited the ladies to be seated, and, paying a similar
attention to Jack, began to help to the various dishes, and otherwise
fulfil the duties of a host. While this was going on, Blueskin, seeing
no notice whatever taken of him, coughed loudly and repeatedly. But
finding his hints totally disregarded, he, at length, swaggered up to
the table, and thrust in a chair.

"Excuse me," he said, plunging his fork into a fowl, and transferring it
to his plate. "This tongue looks remarkably nice," he added, slicing off
an immense wedge, "excuse me--ho! ho!"

"You make yourself at home, I perceive," observed Kneebone, with a look
of ineffable disgust.

"I generally do," replied Blueskin, pouring out a bumper of sack. "Your
health, Kneebone."

"Allow me to offer you a glass of usquebaugh, my dear," said Kneebone,
turning from him, and regarding Edgeworth Bess with a stare so
impertinent, that even that not over-delicate young lady summoned up a
blush.

"With pleasure, Sir," replied Edgeworth Bess. "Dear me!" she added, as
she pledged the amorous woollen-draper, "what a beautiful ring that is."

"Do you think so?" replied Kneebone, taking it off, and placing it on
her finger, which he took the opportunity of kissing at the same time;
"wear it for my sake."

"Oh, dear!" simpered Edgeworth Bess, endeavouring to hide her confusion
by looking steadfastly at her plate.

"You don't eat," continued Kneebone, addressing Jack, who had remained
for some time thoughtful, and pre-occupied with his head upon his hand.

"The Captain has seldom much appetite," replied Blueskin, who, having
disposed of the fowl, was commencing a vigorous attack upon the sirloin.
"I eat for both."

"So it seems," observed the woollen-draper, "and for every one else,
too."

"I say, Kneebone," rejoined Blueskin, as he washed down an immense
mouthful with another bumper, "do you recollect how nearly Mr. Wild and
I were nabbing you in this very room, some nine years ago?"

"I do," replied Kneebone; "and now," he added, aside, "the case is
altered. I'm nearly nabbing _you_."

"A good deal has occurred since then, eh, Captain!" said Blueskin,
nudging Jack.

"Much that I would willingly forget. Nothing that I desire to remember,"
replied Sheppard, sternly. "On that night,--in this room,--in your
presence, Blueskin,--in yours Mr. Kneebone, Mrs. Wood struck me a blow
which made me a robber."

"She has paid dearly for it," muttered Blueskin.

"She has," rejoined Sheppard. "But I wish her hand had been as deadly as
yours. On that night,--that fatal night,--Winifred crushed all the hopes
that were rising in my heart. On that night, I surrendered myself to
Jonathan Wild, and became--what I am."

"On that night, you first met me, love," said Edgeworth Bess,
endeavouring to take his hand, which he coldly withdrew.

"And me," added Mrs. Maggot tenderly.

"Would I had never seen either of you!" cried Jack, rising and pacing
the apartment with a hurried step.

"Well, I'm sure Winifred could never have loved you as well as I do,"
said Mrs. Maggot.

"_You_!" cried Jack, scornfully. "Do you compare _your_ love--a love
which all may purchase--with _hers_? No one has ever loved me."

"Except me, dear," insinuated Edgeworth Bess. "I've been always true to
you."

"Peace!" retorted Jack, with increased bitterness. "I'm your dupe no
longer."

"What the devil's in the wind now, Captain?" cried Blueskin, in
astonishment.

"I'll tell you," replied Jack, with forced calmness. "Within the last
few minutes, all my guilty life has passed before me. Nine years ago, I
was honest--was happy. Nine years ago, I worked in this very house--had
a kind indulgent master, whom I robbed--twice robbed, at your
instigation, villain; a mistress, whom you have murdered; a companion,
whose friendship I have for ever forfeited; a mother, whose heart I have
well-nigh broken. In this room was my ruin begun: in this room it should
be ended."

"Come, come, don't take on thus, Captain," cried Blueskin, rising and
walking towards him. "If any one's to blame, it's me. I'm ready to bear
it all."

"Can you make me honest?" cried Jack. "Can you make me other than a
condemned felon? Can you make me not Jack Sheppard?"

"No," replied Blueskin; "and I wouldn't if I could."

"Curse you!" cried Jack, furiously,--"curse you!--curse you!"

"Swear away, Captain," rejoined Blueskin, coolly. "It'll ease your
mind."

"Do you mock me?" cried Jack, levelling a pistol at him.

"Not I," replied Blueskin. "Take my life, if you're so disposed. You're
welcome to it. And let's see if either of these women, who prate of
their love for you, will do as much."

"This is folly," cried Jack, controlling himself by a powerful effort.

"The worst of folly," replied Blueskin, returning to the table, and
taking up a glass; "and, to put an end to it, I shall drink the health
of Jack Sheppard, the housebreaker, and success to him in all his
enterprises. And now, let's see who'll refuse the pledge."

"_I_ will," replied Sheppard, dashing the glass from his hand. "Sit
down, fool!"

"Jack," said Kneebone, who had been considerably interested by the
foregoing scene, "are these regrets for your past life sincere?"

"Suppose them so," rejoined Jack, "what then?"

"Nothing--nothing," stammered Kneebone, his prudence getting the better
of his sympathy. "I'm glad to hear it, that's all," he added, taking out
his snuff-box, his never-failing resource in such emergencies. "It won't
do to betray the officer," he muttered.

"O lud! what an exquisite box!" cried Edgeworth Bess. "Is it gold?"

"Pure gold," replied Kneebone. "It was given me by poor dear Mrs. Wood,
whose loss I shall ever deplore."

"Pray, let me have a pinch!" said Edgeworth Bess, with a captivating
glance. "I am so excessively fond of snuff."

The woollen-draper replied by gallantly handing her the box, which was
instantly snatched from her by Blueskin, who, after helping himself to
as much of its contents as he could conveniently squeeze between his
thumb and finger, put it very coolly in his pocket.

The action did not pass unnoticed by Sheppard.

"Restore it," he cried, in an authoritative voice.

"O'ons! Captain," cried Blueskin, as he grumblingly obeyed the command;
"if you've left off business yourself, you needn't interfere with other
people."

"I should like a little of that plum-tart," said Mrs. Maggot; "but I
don't see a spoon."

"I'll ring for one," replied Kneebone, rising accordingly; "but I fear
my servants are gone to bed."

Blueskin, meanwhile, having drained and replenished his glass, commenced
chaunting a snatch of a ballad:--

    Once on a time, as I've heard tell.
    In Wych Street Owen Wood did dwell;
    A carpenter he was by trade,
    And money, I believe, he made.
        _With his foodle doo_!

    This carpenter he had a wife,
    The plague and torment of his life,
    Who, though she did her husband scold,
    Loved well a woollen-draper bold.
        _With her foodle doo_!

"I've a toast to propose," cried Sheppard, filling a bumper. "You won't
refuse it, Mr. Kneebone?"

"He'd better not," muttered Blueskin.

"What is it?" demanded the woollen-draper, as he returned to the table,
and took up a glass.

"The speedy union of Thames Darrell with Winifred Wood," replied Jack.

Kneebone's cheeks glowed with rage, and he set down the wine untasted,
while Blueskin resumed his song.

    Now Owen Wood had one fair child,
    Unlike her mother, meek and mild;
    Her love the draper strove to gain,
    But she repaid him with disdain.
        _With his foodle doo_!

"Peace!" cried Jack.

But Blueskin was not to be silenced. He continued his ditty, in spite of
the angry glances of his leader.

    In vain he fondly urged his suit,
    And, all in vain, the question put;
    She answered,--"Mr. William Kneebone,
    Of me, Sir, you shall never be bone."
        _With your foodle doo_!

    "Thames Darrell has my heart alone,
    A noble youth, e'en _you_ must own;
    And, if from him my love could stir,
    Jack Sheppard I should much prefer!"
        _With his foodle doo_!

"Do you refuse my toast?" cried Jack, impatiently.

"I do," replied Kneebone.

"Drink this, then," roared Blueskin. And pouring the contents of a small
powder-flask into a bumper of brandy, he tendered him the mixture.

At this juncture, the door was opened by Rachel.

"What did you ring for, Sir?" she asked, eyeing the group with
astonishment.

"Your master wants a few table-spoons, child," said Mrs. Maggot.

"Leave the room," interposed Kneebone, angrily.

"No, I shan't," replied Rachel, saucily. "I came to see Jack Sheppard,
and I won't go till you point him out to me. You told me he was going
back to Newgate after supper, so I mayn't have another opportunity."

"Oh! he told you that, did he?" said Blueskin, marching up to her, and
chucking her under the chin. "I'll show you Captain Sheppard, my dear.
There he stands. I'm his lieutenant,--Lieutenant Blueskin. We're two
good-looking fellows, ain't we?"

"Very good-looking," replied Rachel. "But, where's the strange gentleman
I saw under the table?"

"Under the table!" echoed Blueskin, winking at Jack. "When did you see
him, my love?"

"A short time ago," replied the housekeeper, unsuspiciously.

"The plot's out!" cried Jack. And, without another word, he seized the
table with both hands, and upset it; scattering plates, dishes, bottles,
jugs, and glasses far and wide. The crash was tremendous. The lights
rolled over, and were extinguished. And, if Rachel had not carried a
candle, the room would have been plunged in total darkness. Amid the
confusion, Shotbolt sprang to his feet, and levelling a pistol at Jack's
head, commanded him to surrender; but, before any reply could be made,
the jailer's arm was struck up by Blueskin, who, throwing himself upon
him, dragged him to the ground. In the struggle the pistol went off, but
without damage to either party. The conflict was of short duration; for
Shotbolt was no match for his athletic antagonist. He was speedily
disarmed; and the rope and gag being found upon him, were exultingly
turned against him by his conqueror, who, after pinioning his arms
tightly behind his back, forced open his mouth with the iron, and
effectually prevented the utterance of any further outcries. While the
strife was raging, Edgeworth Bess walked up to Rachel, and advised her,
if she valued her life, not to scream or stir from the spot; a caution
which the housekeeper, whose curiosity far outweighed her fears,
received in very good part.

In the interim, Jack advanced to the woollen-draper, and regarding him
sternly, thus addressed him:

"You have violated the laws of hospitality, Mr. Kneebone, I came hither
as your guest. You have betrayed me."

"What faith is to be kept with a felon?" replied the woollen-draper,
disdainfully.

"He who breaks faith with his benefactor may well justify himself thus,"
answered Jack. "I have not trusted you. Others who have done, have found
you false."

"I don't understand you," replied Kneebone, in some confusion.

"You soon shall," rejoined Sheppard. "Where are the packets committed to
your charge by Sir Rowland Trenchard?"

"The packets!" exclaimed Kneebone, in alarm.

"It is useless to deny it," replied Jack. "You were watched to-night by
Blueskin. You met Sir Rowland at the house of a Romisch priest, Father
Spencer. Two packets were committed to your charge, which you undertook
to deliver,--one to another priest, Sir Rowland's chaplain, at
Manchester, the other to Mr. Wood. Produce them!"

"Never!" replied Kneebone.

"Then, by Heaven! you are a dead man!" replied Jack, cocking a pistol,
and pointing it deliberately at his head. "I give you one minute for
reflection. After that time nothing shall save you."

There was a brief, breathless pause. Even Blueskin looked on with
anxiety.

"It is past," said Jack, placing his finger on the trigger.

"Hold!" cried Kneebone, flinging down the packets; "they are nothing to
me."

"But they are everything to me," cried Jack, stooping to pick them up.
"These packets will establish Thames Darrell's birth, win him his
inheritance, and procure him the hand of Winifred Wood."

"Don't be too sure of that," rejoined Kneebone, snatching up the staff,
and aiming a blow at his head, which was fortunately warded off by Mrs.
Maggot, who promptly interposed her cudgel.

"Defend yourself!" cried Jack, drawing his sword.

"Leave his punishment to me, Jack," said Mrs. Maggot. "I've the
Bridewell account to settle."

"Be it so," replied Jack, putting up his blade. "I've a good deal to do.
Show him no quarter, Poll. He deserves none."

"And shall find none," replied the Amazon. "Now, Mr. Kneebone," she
added, drawing up her magnificent figure to its full height, and making
the heavy cudgel whistle through the air, "look to yourself."

"Stand off, Poll," rejoined the woollen-draper; "I don't want to hurt
you. It shall never be said that I raised my arm willingly against a
woman."

"I'll forgive you all the harm you do me," rejoined the Amazon. "What!
you still hesitate! Will that rouse you, coward?" And she gave him a
smart rap on the head.

"Coward!" cried Kneebone. "Neither man nor woman shall apply that term
to me. If you forget your sex, jade, I must forget mine."

With this, he attacked her vigorously in his turn.

It was a curious sight to see how this extraordinary woman, who, it has
been said, was not less remarkable for the extreme delicacy of her
features, and the faultless symmetry of her figure, than for her
wonderful strength and agility, conducted herself in the present
encounter; with what dexterity she parried every blow aimed against her
by her adversary, whose head and face, already marked by various ruddy
streams, showed how successfully her own hits had been made;--how she
drew him hither and thither, now leading him on, now driving him
suddenly back; harassing and exhausting him in every possible way, and
making it apparent that she could at any moment put an end to the fight,
and only delayed the finishing stroke to make his punishment the more
severe.

Jack, meanwhile, with Blueskin's assistance, had set the table once more
upon its legs, and placing writing materials, which he took from a
shelf, upon it, made Shotbolt, who was still gagged, but whose arms were
for the moment unbound, sit down before them.

"Write as I dictate," he cried, placing a pen in the jailer's hand and a
pistol to his ear.

Shotbolt nodded in token of acquiescence, and emitted an odd guttural
sound.

"Write as follows," continued Jack. "'I have succeeded in capturing Jack
Sheppard. The reward is mine. Get all ready for his reception. In a few
minutes after the delivery of this note he will be in Newgate.' Sign
it," he added, as, after some further threats, the letter was indited
according to his dictation, "and direct it to Mr. Austin. That's well.
And, now, to find a messenger."

"Mr. Kneebone's man is in the shop," said Rachel; "he'll take it."

"Can I trust him?" mused Jack. "Yes; he'll suspect nothing. Give him
this letter, child, and bid him take it to the Lodge at Newgate without
loss of time. Blueskin will go with you,--for fear of a mistake."

"You might trust me," said Rachel, in an offended tone; "but never
mind."

And she left the room with Blueskin, who very politely offered her his
arm.

Meanwhile, the combat between Kneebone and Mrs. Maggot had been brought
to a termination. When the woollen-draper was nearly worn out, the
Amazon watched her opportunity, and hitting him on the arm, disabled it.

"That's for Mrs. Wood," she cried, as the staff fell from his grasp.

"I'm at your mercy, Poll," rejoined Kneebone, abjectly.

"That's for Winifred," vociferated the Amazon, bringing the cudgel
heavily upon his shoulder.

"Damnation!" cried Kneebone.

"That's for myself," rejoined Mrs. Maggot, dealing him a blow, which
stretched him senseless on the floor.

"Bravo, Poll!" cried Jack, who having again pinioned Shotbolt, was now
tracing a few hasty lines on a sheet of paper. "You've given him a
broken head, I perceive."

"He'll scarcely need a plaister," replied Mrs. Maggot, laughing. "Here,
Bess, give me the cord, and I'll tie him to this chest of drawers. I
don't think he'll come to himself too soon. But it's best to be on the
safe side."

"Decidedly so," replied Edgeworth Bess; "and I'll take this opportunity,
while Jack's back is turned,--for he's grown so strangely
particular,--of easing him of his snuff-box. Perhaps," she added, in a
whisper, as she appropriated the before-named article, "he has a
pocket-book."

"Hush!" replied Mrs. Maggot; "Jack will hear you. We'll come back for
that by and by, and the dressing-gown."

At this moment, Rachel and Blueskin returned. Their momentary absence
seemed to have worked wonders; for now the most perfect understanding
appeared to subsist between them.

"Have you sent off the note?" inquired Jack.

"We have, Captain," replied Blueskin. "I say _we_, because Miss Rachel
and I have struck up a match. Shall I bring off anything?" he added,
looking eagerly round.

"No," replied Jack, peremptorily.

Having now sealed his letter, Sheppard took a handkerchief, and tying it
over Shotbolt's face, so as completely to conceal the features, clapped
his hat upon his head, and pushed it over his brows. He, next, seized
the unlucky jailer, and forced him along, while Blueskin expedited his
movements by administering a few kicks behind.

When they got to the door, Jack opened it, and, mimicking the voice of
the jailer, shouted, "Now, my lads, all's ready?"

"Here we are," cried the chairmen, hurrying out of the court with their
swinging vehicle, "where is he?"

"Here," replied Sheppard, dragging out Shotbolt by the collar, while
Blueskin pushed him behind, and Mrs. Maggot held up a lantern, which she
found in the shop. "In with him!"

"Ay--ay, yer hon'r," cried the foremost chairman, lending a helping
hand. "Get in wid ye, ye villin!"

And, despite his resistance, Shotbolt was thrust into the chair, which
was instantly fastened upon him.

"There, he's as safe as Jack Sheppard in the Condemned Hould," laughed
the man.

"Off with you to Newgate!" cried Jack, "and don't let him out till you
get inside the Lodge. There's a letter for the head turnkey, Mr.
Irreton. D'ye hear."

"Yes, yer hon'r," replied the chairman, taking the note.

"What are you waiting for?" asked Jack, impatiently.

"The gen'l'man as hired us," replied the chairman.

"Oh! he'll be after you directly. He's settling an account in the house.
Lose no time. The letter will explain all."

The chair was then rapidly put in motion, and speedily disappeared.

"What's to be done next?" cried Blueskin, returning to Rachel, who was
standing with Edgeworth Bess near the door.

"I shall go back and finish my supper," said Mrs. Maggot.

"And so shall I," replied Edgeworth Bess.

"Stop a minute," cried Jack, detaining his mistresses. "Here we
part,--perhaps for ever. I've already told you I'm about to take a long
journey, and it's more than probable I shall never return."

"Don't say so," cried Mrs. Maggot. "I should be perfectly miserable if
_I_ thought you in earnest."

"The very idea is dreadful," whimpered Edgeworth Bess.

"Farewell!" cried Jack, embracing them. "Take this key to Baptist
Kettleby. On seeing it, he'll deliver you a box, which it will unlock,
and in which you'll find a matter of fifty guineas and a few trinkets.
Divide the money between you, and wear the ornaments for my sake. But,
if you've a spark of love for me, don't meddle with anything in that
house."

"Not for worlds!" exclaimed both ladies together.

"Farewell!" cried Jack, breaking from them, and rushing down the street.

"What shall we do, Poll?" hesitated Edgeworth Bess.

"Go in, to be sure, simpleton," replied Mrs. Maggot, "and bring off all
we can. I know where everything valuable is kept. Since Jack has left
us, what does it matter whether he's pleased or not?"

At this moment, a whistle was heard.

"Coming!" cried Blueskin, who was still lingering with Rachel. "The
Captain's in such a desperate hurry, that there's no time for
love-making. Adieu! my charmer. You'll find those young ladies extremely
agreeable acquaintances. Adieu!"

And, snatching a hasty kiss, he darted after Jack.

The chair, meanwhile, with its unhappy load, was transported at a brisk
pace to Newgate. Arrived there, the porter thundered at the massive door
of the Lodge, which was instantly opened--Shotbolt's note having been
received just before. All the turnkeys were assembled. Ireton and
Langley had returned from a second unsuccessful search; Marvel had come
thither to bid good-night to Mrs. Spurling; Austin had never quitted his
post. The tapstress was full of curiosity; but she appeared more easy
than the others. Behind her stood Caliban, chuckling to himself, and
grinning from ear to ear.

"Well, who'd have thought of Shotbolt beating us all in this way!" said
Ireton. "I'm sorry for old Newgate that another jail should have it.
It's infernally provoking."

"Infernally provoking!" echoed Langley.

"Nobody has so much cause for complaint as me," growled Austin. "I've
lost my wager."

"Twenty pounds," rejoined Mrs. Spurling. "I witnessed the bet."

"Here he is!" cried Ireton, as the knocking was heard without. "Get
ready the irons, Caliban."

"Wait a bit, massa," replied the grinning negro,--"lilly bit--see all
right fust."

By this time, the chair had been brought into the Lodge.

"You've got him?" demanded Ireton.

"Safe inside," replied the chairman, wiping the heat from his brow;
"we've run all the way."

"Where's Mr. Shotbolt?" asked Austin.

"The gen'l'man'll be here directly. He was detained. T' other gen'l'man
said the letter 'ud explain all."

"Detained!" echoed Marvel. "That's odd. But, let's see the prisoner."

The chair was then opened.

"Shotbolt! by--" cried Austin, as the captive was dragged forth. "I've
won, after all."

Exclamations of wonder burst from all. Mrs. Spurling bit her lips to
conceal her mirth. Caliban absolutely crowed with delight.

"Hear the letter," said Ireton, breaking the seal. "'_This is the way in
which I will serve all who attempt to apprehend me_.' It is signed JACK
SHEPPARD."

"And, so Jack Sheppard has sent back Shotbolt in this pickle," said
Langley.

"So it appears," replied Marvel. "Untie his arms, and take off that
handkerchief. The poor fellow's half smothered."

"I guess what share you've had in this," whispered Austin to Mrs.
Spurling.

"Never mind," replied the tapstress. "You've won your wager."

Half an hour after this occurrence, when it had been sufficiently
laughed at and discussed; when the wager had been settled, and the
chairman dismissed with the remaining three guineas, which Shotbolt was
compelled to pay; Ireton arose, and signified his intention of stepping
across the street to inform Mr. Wild of the circumstance.

"As it's getting late, and the porter may be gone to bed," he observed;
"I'll take the pass-key, and let myself in. Mr. Wild is sure to be up.
He never retires to rest till daybreak--if at all. Come with me,
Langley, and bring the lantern."




CHAPTER XIV.

How Jack Sheppard was again captured.


Jack Sheppard, after whistling to Blueskin, hurried down a short
thoroughfare leading from Wych Street to the back of Saint Clement's
Church, where he found Thames Darrell, who advanced to meet him.

"I was just going," said Thames. "When I parted from you at Mr.
Kneebone's door, you begged me to await your return here, assuring me
you would not detain me five minutes. Instead of which, more than half
an hour has elapsed."

"You won't complain of the delay when I tell you what I've done,"
answered Jack. "I've obtained two packets, containing letters from Sir
Rowland Trenchard, which I've no doubt will establish your title to the
estates. Take them, and may they prove as serviceable to you as I
desire."

"Jack," replied Thames, greatly moved, "I wish I could devise any means
of brightening your own dark prospects."

"That's impossible," replied Jack. "I am utterly lost."

"Not utterly," rejoined the other.

"Utterly," reiterated Jack, gloomily,--"as regards all I hold dear.
Listen to me, Thames. I'm about to leave this country for ever. Having
ascertained that a vessel sails for France from the river at daybreak
to-morrow morning, I have secured a passage in her, and have already had
the few effects I possess, conveyed on board. Blueskin goes with me. The
faithful fellow will never leave me."

"Never, while I've breath in my body, Captain," rejoined Blueskin, who
had joined them. "England or France, London or Paris, it's all one to
me, so I've you to command me."

"Stand out of earshot," rejoined his leader. "I'll call you when you're
wanted."

And Blueskin withdrew.

"I cannot but approve the course you are about to take, Jack," said
Thames, "though on some accounts I regret it. In after years you can
return to your own country--to your friends."

"Never," replied Sheppard bitterly. "My friends need not fear my return.
They shall hear of me no more. Under another name,--not my own hateful
one,--I will strive to distinguish myself in some foreign service, and
win myself a reputation, or perish honourably. But I will never--never
return."

"I will not attempt to combat your resolution, Jack," returned Thames,
after a pause. "But I dread the effect your departure may have upon your
poor mother. Her life hangs upon a thread, and this may snap it."

"I wish you hadn't mentioned her," said Jack, in a broken voice, while
his whole frame shook with emotion. "What I do is for the best, and I
can only hope she may have strength to bear the separation. You must say
farewell to her, for I cannot. I don't ask you to supply my place--for
that is, perhaps, impossible. But, be like a son to her."

"Do not doubt me," replied Thames, warmly pressing his hand.

"And now, I've one further request," faltered Jack; "though I scarcely
know how to make it. It is to set me right with Winifred. Do not let her
think worse of me than I deserve,--or even so ill. Tell her, that more
than once, when about to commit some desperate offence, I have been
restrained by her gentle image. If hopeless love for her made me a
robber, it has also saved me many a crime. Will you tell her that?"

"I will," replied Thames, earnestly.

"Enough," said Jack, recovering his composure. "And now, to your own
concerns. Blueskin, who has been on the watch all night, has dogged Sir
Rowland Trenchard to Jonathan Wild's house; and, from the mysterious
manner in which he was admitted by the thief-taker's confidential
servant, Abraham Mendez, and not by the regular porter, there is little
doubt but they are alone, and probably making some arrangements prior to
our uncle's departure from England."

"Is he leaving England?" demanded Thames, in astonishment.

"He sails to-morrow morning in the very vessel by which I start,"
replied Jack. "Now, if as I suspect,--from the documents just placed in
your possession,--Sir Rowland meditates doing you justice after his
departure, it is possible his intentions may be frustrated by the
machinations of Wild, whose interest is obviously to prevent such an
occurrence, unless we can surprise them together, and, by proving to Sir
Rowland that we possess the power of compelling a restitution of your
rights, force the other treacherous villain into compliance. Jonathan,
in all probability, knows nothing of these packets; and their production
may serve to intimidate him. Will you venture?"

"It is a hazardous experiment," said Thames, after a moment's
reflection; "but I will make it. You must not, however, accompany me,
Jack. The risk I run is nothing to yours."

"I care for no risk, provided I can serve you," rejoined Sheppard.
"Besides, you'll not be able to get in without me. It won't do to knock
at the door, and Jonathan Wild's house is not quite so easy of entrance
as Mr. Wood's."

"I understand," replied Thames; "be it as you will."

"Then, we'll lose no more time," returned Jack. "Come along, Blueskin."

Starting at a rapid pace in the direction of the Old Bailey, and
crossing Fleet Bridge, "for oyster tubs renowned," the trio skirted the
right bank of the muddy stream until they reached Fleet Lane, up which
they hurried. Turning off again on the left, down Seacoal Lane, they
arrived at the mouth of a dark, narrow alley, into which they plunged;
and, at the farther extremity found a small yard, overlooked by the
blank walls of a large gloomy habitation. A door in this house opened
upon the yard. Jack tried it, and found it locked.

"If I had my old tools with me, we'd soon master this obstacle," he
muttered. "We shall be obliged to force it."

"Try the cellar, Captain," said Blueskin, stamping upon a large board
in the ground. "Here's the door. This is the way the old thief brings in
all his heavy plunder, which he stows in out-of-the-way holes in his
infernal dwelling. I've seen him often do it."

While making these remarks, Blueskin contrived, by means of a chisel
which he chanced to have about him, to lift up the board, and,
introducing his fingers beneath it, with Jack's assistance speedily
opened it altogether, disclosing a dark hole, into which he leapt.

"Follow me, Thames," cried Jack, dropping into the chasm.

They were now in a sort of cellar, at one end of which was a door. It
was fastened inside. But, taking the chisel from Blueskin, Jack quickly
forced back the bolt.

As they entered the room beyond, a fierce growl was heard.

"Let me go first," said Blueskin; "the dogs know me. Soho! boys." And,
walking up to the animals, which were chained to the wall, they
instantly recognised him, and suffered the others to pass without
barking.

Groping their way through one or two dark and mouldy-smelling vaults,
the party ascended a flight of steps, which brought them to the hall. As
Jack conjectured, no one was there, and, though a lamp was burning on a
stand, they decided upon proceeding without it. They then swiftly
mounted the stairs, and stopped before the audience-chamber. Applying
his ear to the keyhole, Jack listened, but could detect no sound. He,
next cautiously tried the door, but found it fastened inside.

"I fear we're too late," he whispered to Thames. "But, we'll soon see.
Give me the chisel, Blueskin." And, dexterously applying the implement,
he forced open the lock.

They then entered the room, which was perfectly dark.

"This is strange," said Jack, under his breath. "Sir Rowland must be
gone. And, yet, I don't know. The key's in the lock, on the inner side.
Be on your guard."

"I am so," replied Thames, who had followed him closely.

"Shall I fetch the light, Captain?" whispered Blueskin.

"Yes," replied Jack. "I don't know how it is," he added in a low voice
to Thames, as they were left alone, "but I've a strange foreboding of
ill. My heart fails me. I almost wish we hadn't come."

As he said this, he moved forward a few paces, when, finding his feet
glued to the ground by some adhesive substance, he stooped to feel what
it was, but instantly withdrew his hand, with an exclamation of horror.

"God in Heaven!" he cried, "the floor is covered with blood. Some foul
murder has been committed. The light!--the light!"

Astounded at his cries, Thames sprang towards him. At this moment,
Blueskin appeared with the lamp, and revealed a horrible spectacle,--the
floor deluged with blood,--various articles of furniture upset,--papers
scattered about,--the murdered man's cloak, trampled upon, and smeared
with gore,--his hat, crushed and similarly stained,--his sword,--the
ensanguined cloth,--with several other ghastly evidences of the
slaughterous deed. Further on, there were impressions of bloody
footsteps along the floor.

"Sir Rowland is murdered!" cried Jack, as soon as he could find a
tongue.

"It is plain he has been destroyed by his perfidious accomplice,"
rejoined Thames. "Oh God! how fearfully my father is avenged!"

"True," replied Jack, sternly; "but we have our uncle to avenge. What's
this?" he added, stooping to pick up a piece of paper lying at his
feet--it was Jonathan's memorandum. "This is the explanation of the
bloody deed."

"Here's a pocket-book full of notes, and a heavy bag of gold," said
Blueskin, examining the articles on the floor.

"The sum which incited the villain to the murder," replied Jack. "But he
can't be far off. He must be gone to dispose of the body. We shall have
him on his return."

"I'll see where these footsteps lead to," said Blueskin, holding the
light to the floor. "Here are some more papers, Captain."

"Give them to me," replied Jack. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "a letter,
beginning 'dearest Aliva,'--that's your mother's name, Thames."

"Let me see it," cried Thames, snatching it from him. "It _is_ addressed
to my mother," he added, as his eye glanced rapidly over it, "and by my
father. At length, I shall ascertain my name. Bring the light this
way--quick! I cannot decipher the signature."

Jack was about to comply with the request, when an unlooked-for
interruption occurred. Having traced the footsteps to the wall, and
perceiving no outlet, Blueskin elevated the lamp, and discovered marks
of bloody fingers on the boards.

"He must have gone this way," muttered Blueskin. "I've often heard of a
secret door in this room, though I never saw it. It must be somewhere
hereabouts. Ah!" he exclaimed, as his eye fell upon a small knob in the
wall, "there's the spring!"

He touched it, and the door flew open.

The next moment, he was felled to the ground by Jonathan Wild, who
sprang into the room, followed by Abraham bearing the link. A single
glance served to show the thief-taker how matters stood. From the slight
sounds that had reached him in his place of confinement, he was aware
that some persons had found their way to the scene of slaughter, and in
a state of the most intense anxiety awaited the result of their
investigation, prepared for the worst. Hearing the spring touched, he
dashed through on the instant, and struck down the person who presented
himself, with his bludgeon. On beholding the intruders, his fears
changed to exultation, and he uttered a roar of satisfaction as he
glared at them, which could only be likened to the cry of some savage
denizen of the plains.

On his appearance, Jack levelled a pistol at his head. But his hand was
withheld by Thames.

"Don't fire," cried the latter. "It is important not to slay him. He
shall expiate his offences on the gibbet. You are my prisoner,
murderer."

"_Your_ prisoner!" echoed Jonathan, derisively. "You mistake,--you are
mine. And so is your companion,--the convict Sheppard."

"Waste not another word with him, Thames," cried Jack. "Upon him!"

"Yield, villain, or die!" shouted Thames, drawing his sword and
springing towards him.

"There's my answer!" rejoined Wild, hurling the bludgeon at him, with
such fatal effect, that striking him on the head it brought him
instantly to the ground.

"Ah! traitor!" cried Jack, pulling the trigger of his pistol.

Anticipating this, Wild avoided the shot by suddenly, ducking his head.
He had a narrow escape, however; for, passing within an inch of him, the
bullet burried itself deeply in the wall.

Before he could fire a second shot, Jack had to defend himself from the
thief-taker, who, with his drawn hanger, furiously assaulted him.
Eluding the blow, Jack plucked his sword from the scabbard, and a
desperate conflict began.

"Pick up that blade, Nab," vociferated Wild, finding himself hotly
pressed, "and stab him. I won't give him a chance."

"Cowardly villain!" cried Jack, as the Jew, obeying the orders of his
principal, snatched up the weapon of the murdered man, and assailed him.
"But I'll yet disappoint you."

And springing backwards, he darted suddenly through the door.

"After him," cried Wild; "he mustn't escape. Dead or alive, I'll have
him. Bring the link."

And, followed by Abraham, he rushed out of the room.

Just as Jack got half way down the stairs, and Wild and the Jew reached
the upper landing, the street-door was opened by Langley and Ireton, the
latter of whom carried a lantern.

"Stop him!" shouted Jonathan from the stair-head, "stop him! It's Jack
Sheppard!"

"Give way!" cried Jack fiercely. "I'll cut down him who opposes me."

The head turnkey, in all probability, would have obeyed. But, being
pushed forward by his subordinate officer, he was compelled to make a
stand.

"You'd better surrender quietly, Jack," he cried; "you've no chance."'

Instead of regarding him, Jack glanced over the iron bannisters, and
measured the distance. But the fall was too great, and he abandoned the
attempt.

"We have him!" cried Jonathan, hurrying down the steps. "He can't
escape."

As this was said, Jack turned with the swiftness of thought, and
shortening his sword, prepared to plunge it into the thief-taker's
heart. Before he could make the thrust, however, he was seized behind by
Ireton, who flung himself upon him.

"Caught!" shouted the head-turnkey. "I give you joy of the capture, Mr.
Wild," he added, as Jonathan came up, and assisted him to secure and
disarm the prisoner. "I was coming to give you intelligence of a comical
trick played by this rascal, when I find him here--the last place, I
own, where I should have expected to find him."

"You've arrived in the very nick of time," rejoined Jonathan; "and I'll
take care your services are not overlooked."

"Mr. Ireton," cried Jack, in accents of the most urgent entreaty,
"before you take me hence, I implore you--if you would further the ends
of justice--search this house. One of the most barbarous murders ever
committed has just been perpetrated by the monster Wild. You will find
proofs of the bloody deed in his room. But go thither at once, I beseech
you, before he has time to remove them."

"Mr. Ireton is welcome to search every room in my house if he pleases,"
said Jonathan, in a tone of bravado. "As soon as we've conveyed you to
Newgate, I'll accompany him."

"Mr. Ireton will do no such thing," replied the head-turnkey. "Bless
your soul! d'ye think I'm to be gammoned by such nonsense. Not I. I'm
not quite such a greenhorn as Shotbolt, Jack, whatever you may think."

"For mercy's sake go up stairs," implored Sheppard. "I have not told you
half. There's a man dying--Captain Darrell. Take me with you. Place a
pistol at my ear, and shoot me, if I've told you false."

"And, what good would that do?" replied Ireton, sarcastically. "To shoot
you would be to lose the reward. You act your part capitally, but it
won't do."

"Won't you go?" cried Jack passionately. "Mr. Langley, I appeal to you.
Murder, I say, has been done! Another murder will be committed if you
don't prevent it. The blood will rest on your head. Do you hear me, Sir?
Won't you stir!"

"Not a step," replied Langley, gruffly.

"Off with him to Newgate!" cried Jonathan. "Ireton, as you captured him,
the reward is yours. But I request that a third may be given to
Langley."

"It shall be, Sir," replied Ireton, bowing. "Now come along, Jack."

"Miscreants!" cried Sheppard, almost driven frantic by the violence of
his emotions; "you're all in league with him."

"Away with him!" cried Jonathan. "I'll see him fettered myself. Remain
at the door, Nab," he added, loitering for a moment behind the others,
"and let no one in, or out."

Jack, meanwhile, was carried to Newgate. Austin could scarcely credit
his senses when he beheld him. Shotbolt, who had in some degree
recovered from the effects of his previous mortification, was thrown
into an ecstacy of delight, and could not sufficiently exult over the
prisoner. Mrs. Spurling had retired for the night. Jack appealed to the
new auditors, and again detailed his story, but with no better success
than heretofore. His statement was treated with derision. Having seen
him heavily ironed, and placed in the Condemned Hold, Jonathan recrossed
the street.

He found Abraham on guard as he had left him.

"Has any one been here?" he asked.

"No von," replied the Jew.

"That's well," replied Wild, entering the house, and fastening the door.
"And now to dispose of our dead. Why, Nab, you shake as if you'd got an
ague?" he added, turning to the Jew, whose teeth chattered audibly.

"I haven't quite recovered the fright I got in the Vell-Hole," replied
Abraham.

On returning to the audience-chamber, Jonathan found the inanimate body
of Thames Darrell lying where he had left it; but, on examining it, he
remarked that the pockets were turned inside out, and had evidently been
rifled. Startled by this circumstance, he looked around, and perceived
that the trap-door,--which has been mentioned as communicating with a
secret staircase,--was open. He, next, discovered that Blueskin was
gone; and, pursuing his scrutiny, found that he had carried off all the
banknotes, gold, and letters,--including, what Jonathan himself was not
aware of,--the two packets which he had abstracted from the person of
Thames. Uttering a terrible imprecation, Jonathan snatched up the link,
and hastily descended the stairs, leaving the Jew behind him. After a
careful search below, he could detect no trace of Blueskin. But, finding
the cellar-door open, concluded he had got out that way.

Returning to the audience-chamber in a by-no-means enviable state of
mind, he commanded the Jew to throw the body of Thames into the Well
Hole.

"You musht do dat shob yourself, Mishter Vild," rejoined Abraham,
shaking his head. "No prize shall indushe me to enter dat horrid plashe
again."

"Fool!" cried Wild, taking up the body, "what are you afraid of? After
all," he added, pausing, "he may be of more use to me alive than dead."

Adhering to this change of plan, he ordered Abraham to follow him, and,
descending the secret stairs once more, carried the wounded man into the
lower part of the premises. Unlocking several doors, he came to a dark
vault, that would have rivalled the gloomiest cell in Newgate, into
which he thrust Thames, and fastened the door.

"Go to the pump, Nab," he said, when this was done, "and fill a pail
with water. We must wash out those stains up stairs, and burn the cloth.
Blood, they say, won't come out. But I never found any truth in the
saying. When I've had an hour's rest, I'll be after Blueskin."




CHAPTER XV.

How Blueskin underwent the Peine Forte et Dure.


As soon as it became known, through the medium of the public prints on
the following day, that Jack Sheppard had broken out of prison, and had
been again captured during the night, fresh curiosity was excited, and
larger crowds than ever flocked to Newgate, in the hope of obtaining
admission to his cell; but by the governor's express commands, Wild
having privately counselled the step, no one was allowed to see him. A
question next arose whether the prisoner could be executed under the
existing warrant,--some inclining to one opinion, some to another. To
settle the point, the governor started to Windsor, delegating his trust
in the interim to Wild, who took advantage of his brief rule to adopt
the harshest measures towards the prisoner. He had him removed from the
Condemned Hold, stripped of his fine apparel, clothed in the most sordid
rags, loaded with additional fetters, and thrust into the Stone
Hold,--already described as the most noisome cell in the whole prison.
Here, without a glimpse of daylight; visited by no one except Austin at
stated intervals, who neither answered a question nor addressed a word
to him; fed upon the worst diet, literally mouldy bread and ditch-water;
surrounded by stone walls; with a flagged floor for his pillow, and
without so much as a blanket to protect him from the death-like cold
that pierced his frame,--Jack's stout heart was subdued, and he fell
into the deepest dejection, ardently longing for the time when even a
violent death should terminate his sufferings. But it was not so
ordered. Mr. Pitt returned with intelligence that the warrant was
delayed, and, on taking the opinion of two eminent lawyers of the day,
Sir William Thomson and Mr. Serjeant Raby, it was decided that it must
be proved in a regular and judicial manner that Sheppard was the
identical person who had been convicted and had escaped, before a fresh
order could be made for his execution; and that the matter must,
therefore, stand over until the next sessions, to be held at the Old
Bailey in October, when it could be brought before the court.

The unfortunate prisoner, meanwhile, who was not informed of the
respite, languished in his horrible dungeon, and, at the expiration of
three weeks, became so seriously indisposed that it was feared he could
not long survive. He refused his food,--and even when better provisions
were offered him, rejected them. As his death was by no means what
Jonathan desired, he resolved to remove him to a more airy ward, and
afford him such slight comforts as might tend to his restoration, or at
least keep him alive until the period of execution. With this view, Jack
was carried--for he was no longer able to move without assistance--to a
ward called the Castle, situated over the gateway on the western side,
in what was considered the strongest part of the jail. The walls were of
immense thickness; the small windows double-grated and unglazed; the
fire-place was without a grate; and a barrack-bed, divided into two
compartments, occupied one corner. It was about twelve feet high, nine
wide, and fourteen long; and was approached by double doors each six
inches thick. As Jack appeared to be sinking fast, his fetters were
removed, his own clothes were returned to him, and he was allowed a
mattress and a scanty supply of bed-linen. Mrs. Spurling attended him as
his nurse, and, under her care, he speedily revived. As soon as he
became convalescent, and all fears of his premature dissolution were at
an end, Wild recommenced his rigorous treatment. The bedding was
removed; Mrs. Spurling was no longer allowed to visit him; he was again
loaded with irons; fastened by an enormous horse-padlock to a staple in
the floor; and only allowed to take repose in a chair. A single blanket
constituted his sole covering at night. In spite of all this, he grew
daily better and stronger, and his spirits revived. Hitherto, no
visiters had been permitted to see him. As the time when his identity
had to be proved approached, this rigour was, in a trifling degree,
relaxed, and a few persons were occasionally admitted to the ward, but
only in the presence of Austin. From none of these could Jack ascertain
what had become of Thames, or learn any particulars concerning the
family at Dollis Hill, or of his mother. Austin, who had been evidently
schooled by Wild, maintained a profound silence on this head. In this
way, more than a month passed over. October arrived; and in another week
the court would be sitting at the Old Bailey.

One night, about this time, just as Austin was about to lock the great
gate, Jonathan Wild and his two janizaries entered the Lodge with a
prisoner bound hand and foot. It was Blueskin. On the cords being
removed, he made a desperate spring at Wild, bore him to the ground,
clutched at his throat, and would, infallibly, have strangled him, if
the keepers had not all thrown themselves upon him, and by main force
torn him off. His struggles were so violent, that, being a man of
tremendous strength, it was some time before they could master him, and
it required the combined efforts of all the four partners to put him
into irons. It appeared from what he said that he had been captured when
asleep,--that his liquor had been drugged,--otherwise, he would never
have allowed himself to be taken alive. Wild, he asserted, had robbed
him of a large sum of money, and till it was restored he would never
plead.

"We'll see that," replied Jonathan. "Take him to the bilbowes. Put him
in the stocks, and there let him sleep off his drunken fit. Whether he
pleads or not, he shall swing with his confederate, Jack Sheppard."

At this allusion to his leader, a shudder passed through Blueskin's
athletic frame.

"Where is he?" he cried. "Let me see him. Let me have a word with him,
and you may take all the money."

Jonathan made no answer, but motioned the partners to take him away.

As soon as Blueskin was removed, Wild intimated his intention of
visiting the Castle. He was accompanied by Ireton and Austin. The
massive door was unlocked, and they entered the cell. What was their
surprise to find it vacant, and the prisoner gone! Jonathan, could
scarcely believe his eyes. He looked fiercely and inquiringly from one
to the other of his companions; but, though both of them were
excessively frightened, neither appeared guilty. Before a word could be
said, however, a slight noise was heard in the chimney, and Jack with
his irons on descended from it. Without betraying the slightest
confusion, or making a single remark, he quietly resumed his seat.

"Amazement!" cried Wild. "How has he unfastened his padlock? Austin, it
must be owing to your negligence."

"My negligence, Mr. Wild," said the turnkey, trembling in every joint.
"I assure you, Sir, when I left him an hour ago, it was locked. I tried
it myself, Sir. I'm as much astonished as you. But I can't account for
it!"

"At all events, you shall answer for it," thundered Wild, with a bitter
imprecation.

"He's not to blame," said Jack, rising. "I opened the padlock with this
crooked nail, which I found in the floor. If you had arrived ten minutes
later, or if there hadn't been an iron bar in the chimney, that hindered
my progress, I should have been beyond your reach."

"You talk boldly," replied Wild. "Go to the Iron Hold, Austin, and tell
two of the partners to bring another padlock of the largest size, and
the heaviest handcuffs they can find. We'll try whether he'll get loose
again."

Sheppard said nothing, but a disdainful smile curled his lips.

Austin departed, and presently afterwards returned with the two
subordinate officers, each of whom wore a leathern apron round his
waist, and carried a large hammer. As soon as the manacles were slipped
over the prisoner's wrists, and the new padlock secured to the staple,
they withdrew.

"Leave me alone with him a moment," said Jonathan. And the jailers also
retired.

"Jack," said Wild, with a glance of malignant triumph, "I will now tell
you what I have done. All my plans have succeeded. Before a month has
elapsed, your mother will be mine. The Trenchard estates will likewise
be mine, for Sir Rowland is no more, and the youth, Thames, will never
again see daylight. Blueskin, who had evaded me with the papers and the
money, is a prisoner here, and will perish on the same gallows as
yourself. My vengeance is completely gratified."

Without waiting for a reply, but darting a malevolent look at the
prisoner, he quitted the cell, the door of which was instantly
double-locked and bolted.

"I've not quite done yet," said Jonathan, as he joined the turnkeys. "I
should like to see whether Blueskin is a little more composed. I've a
question to ask him. Give me the keys and the light. I'll go alone."

So saying, he descended a short spiral staircase, and, entering a long
stone gallery, from which several other passages branched, took one of
them, and after various turnings--for he was familiar with all the
intricacies of the prison--arrived at the cell of which he was in
search. Selecting a key from the heavy bunch committed to him by Austin,
he threw open the door, and beheld Blueskin seated at the back of the
small chamber, handcuffed, and with his feet confined in a heavy pair of
stocks. He was asleep when Jonathan entered, and growled at being
disturbed. But, as soon as he perceived who it was, he roused himself,
and glared fiercely at the intruder from under his bent brows.

"What do you want?" he asked, in a gruff voice.

"I want to know what you've done with the rest of the notes--with the
gold--and the papers you took away from my room!" rejoined Wild.

"Then you'll never know more than this," retorted Blueskin, with a grin
of satisfaction;--"they're in a place of safety, where _you_'ll never
find 'em, but where somebody else _will_, and that before long."

"Hear me, Blueskin," said Jonathan, restraining his choler. "If you'll
tell me where to look for these things, and I _do_ find them, I'll set
you free. And you shall have a share of the gold for yourself."

"I'll tell you what I'll do," rejoined the other. "Set Captain Sheppard
free, and when I hear he's safe,--not before,--I'll put the money and
papers into your possession, and some other matters, too, that you know
nothing about."

"Impracticable dolt!" exclaimed Jonathan, furiously. "Do you think I'd
part with the sweetest morsel of revenge on those terms? No! But I'll
have the secret out of you by other means."

So saying, he violently shut and locked the door.

About ten days after this interview, Blueskin, having been indicted by
Wild for several robberies, and true bills found against him, was placed
at the bar of the Old Bailey to be arraigned; when he declared that he
would not plead to the indictment, unless the sum of five hundred
pounds, taken from him by Jonathan Wild, was first restored to him. This
sum, claimed by Wild under the statute 4th and 5th of William and Mary,
entitled "_An act for encouraging the apprehending of Highwaymen_," was
granted to him by the court.

As Blueskin still continued obstinate, the judgment appointed to be
executed upon such prisoners as stood mute, was then read. It was as
follows, and, when uttered, produced a strong effect upon all who heard
it, except the prisoner, who, in no respect, altered his sullen and
dogged demeanour.

"Prisoner at the bar," thus ran the sentence, "you shall be taken to the
prison from whence you came, and put into a mean room, stopped from the
light; and shall there be laid on the bare ground, without any litter,
straw, or other covering, and without any garment. You shall lie upon
your back; your head shall be covered; and your feet shall be bare. One
of your arms shall be drawn to one side of the room, and the other arm
to the other side, and your legs shall be served in the like manner.
Then, there shall be laid upon your body as much iron, or stone as you
can bear, and more. And the first day, you shall have three morsels of
barley bread, without any drink; and the second day, you shall be
allowed to drink as much as you can, at three times, of the water that
is next to the prison-door, except running-water, without any bread. And
this shall be your diet till you die."

"Prisoner at the bar," continued the clerk of the court, "he against
whom this judgment is given, forfeits his goods to the king."

An awful silence prevailed throughout the court. Every eye was fixed
upon the prisoner. But, as he made no answer, he was removed.

Before the full sentence was carried into execution, he was taken into a
small room adjoining the court. Here Marvel, the executioner, who was in
attendance, was commanded by Wild to tie his thumbs together, which he
did with whipcord so tightly, that the string cut to the bone. But, as
this produced no effect, and did not even elicit a groan, the prisoner
was carried back to Newgate.

The Press Room, to which Blueskin was conveyed on his arrival at the
jail, was a small square chamber, walled and paved with stone. In each
corner stood a stout square post reaching to the ceiling. To these a
heavy wooden apparatus was attached, which could be raised or lowered at
pleasure by pullies. In the floor were set four ring-bolts, about nine
feet apart. When the prisoner was brought into this room, he was again
questioned; but, continuing contumacious, preparations were made for
inflicting the torture. His great personal strength being so well known,
it was deemed prudent by Marvel to have all the four partners, together
with Caliban, in attendance. The prisoner, however, submitted more
quietly than was anticipated. He allowed his irons and clothes to be
taken off without resistance. But just as they were about to place him
on the ground, he burst from their hold, and made a desperate spring at
Jonathan, who was standing with his arms folded near the door watching
the scene. The attempt was unsuccessful. He was instantly overpowered,
and stretched upon the ground. The four men fell upon him, holding his
arms and legs, while Caliban forced back his head. In this state, he
contrived to get the poor black's hand into his mouth, and nearly bit
off one of his fingers before the sufferer could be rescued. Meanwhile,
the executioner had attached strong cords to his ankles and wrists, and
fastened them tightly to the iron rings. This done, he unloosed the
pulley, and the ponderous machine, which resembled a trough, slowly
descended upon the prisoner's breast. Marvel, then, took two iron
weights, each of a hundred pounds, and placed them in the press. As this
seemed insufficient, after a lapse of five minutes, he added another
hundred weight. The prisoner breathed with difficulty. Still, his robust
frame enabled him to hold out. After he had endured this torture for an
hour, at a sign from Wild another hundred weight was added. In a few
minutes, an appalling change was perceptible. The veins in his throat
and forehead swelled and blackened; his eyes protruded from their
sockets, and stared wildly; a thick damp gathered on his brow: and blood
gushed from his mouth, nostrils, and ears.

"Water!" he gasped.

The executioner shook his head.

"Do you submit?" interrogated Wild.

Blueskin answered by dashing his head violently against the flagged
floor. His efforts at self-destruction were, however, prevented.

"Try fifty pounds more," said Jonathan.

"Stop!" groaned Blueskin.

"Will you plead?" demanded Wild, harshly.

"I will," answered the prisoner.

"Release him," said Jonathan. "We have cured his obstinacy, you
perceive," he added to Marvel.

"I _will_ live," cried Blueskin, with a look of the deadliest hatred at
Wild, "to be revenged on you."

And, as the weights were removed, he fainted.




CHAPTER XVI.

How Jack Sheppard's Portrait was painted.


Early in the morning of Thursday, the 15th of October, 1724, the door of
the Castle was opened by Austin, who, with a look of unusual importance,
announced to the prisoner that four gentlemen were shortly coming up
with the governor to see him,--"four _such_ gentlemen," he added, in a
tone meant to impress his auditor with a due sense of the honour
intended him, "as you don't meet every day."

"Is Mr. Wood among them?" asked Jack, eagerly.

"Mr. Wood!--no," replied the turnkey. "Do you think I'd take the trouble
to announce _him_? These are persons of consequence, I tell you."

"Who are they?" inquired Sheppard.

"Why, first," rejoined Austin, "there's Sir James Thornhill, historical
painter to his Majesty, and the greatest artist of the day. Those grand
designs in the dome of St. Paul's are his work. So is the roof of the
state-room at Hampton Court Palace, occupied by Queen Anne, and the
Prince of Denmark. So is the chapel of All Souls at Oxford, and the
great hall at Blenheim, and I don't know how many halls and chapels
besides. He's now engaged on the hall at Greenwich Hospital."

"I've heard of him," replied Jack, impatiently. "Who are the others?"

"Let me see. There's a friend of Sir James--a young man, an engraver of
masquerade tickets and caricatures,--his name I believe is Hogarth.
Then, there's Mr. Gay, the poet, who wrote the 'Captives,' which was
lately acted at Drury Lane, and was so much admired by the Princess of
Wales. And, lastly, there's Mr. Figg, the noted prize-fighter, from the
New Amphitheatre in Marylebone Fields."

"Figg's an old friend of mine," rejoined Jack; "he was my instructor in
the small sword and back sword exercise. I'm glad he's come to see me."

"You don't inquire what brings Sir James Thornhill here?" said Austin.

"Curiosity, I suppose," returned Jack, carelessly.

"No such thing," rejoined the jailer; "he's coming on business."

"On what business, in the name of wonder?" asked Sheppard.

"To paint your portrait," answered the jailer.

"My portrait!" echoed Jack.

"By desire of his Majesty," said the jailer, consequentially. "He has
heard of your wonderful escapes, and wishes to see what you're like.
There's a feather in your cap! No house-breaker was ever so highly
honoured before."

"And have my escapes really made so much noise as to reach the ear of
royalty?" mused Jack. "I have done nothing--nothing to what I _could_
do--to what I _will_ do!"

"You've done quite enough," rejoined Austin; "more than you'll ever do
again."

"And then to be taken thus, in these disgraceful bonds!" continued Jack,
"to be held up as a sight for ever!"

"Why, how else would you be taken?" exclaimed the jailer, with a coarse
laugh. "It's very well Mr. Wild allowed you to have your fine clothes
again, or you might have been taken in a still more disgraceful garb.
For my part, I think those shackles extremely becoming. But, here they
are."

Voices being heard at the door, Austin flew to open it, and admitted Mr.
Pitt, the governor, a tall pompous personage, who, in his turn, ushered
in four other individuals. The first of these, whom he addressed as Mr.
Gay, was a stout, good-looking, good-humoured man, about thirty-six,
with a dark complexion, an oval face, fine black eyes, full of fire and
sensibility, and twinkling with roguish humour--an expression fully
borne out by the mouth, which had a very shrewd and sarcastic curl. The
poet's appearance altogether was highly prepossessing. With a strong
tendency to satire, but without a particle of malice or ill-nature in
its display. Gay, by his strokes of pleasantry, whether in his writings
or conversation, never lost a friend. On the contrary, he was a
universal favourite, and numbered amongst his intimate acquaintances the
choicest spirits of the time,--Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, and "all the
better brothers." His demeanour was polished; his manners singularly
affable and gentle; and he was remarkable, for the generosity of his
temper. In worldly matters Gay was not fortunate. Possessed, at one
time, of a share in the South Sea stock, he conceived himself worth
twenty thousand pounds. But, on the bursting of that bubble, his hopes
vanished with it. Neither did his interest,--which was by no means
inconsiderable,--nor his general popularity, procure him the preferment
he desired. A constant attendant at court, he had the mortification to
see every one promoted but himself, and thus bewails his ill-luck.

    Places, I found, were daily given away,
    And yet no friendly gazette mentioned Gay.

The prodigious success of the "Beggars' Opera," which was produced about
four years after the date of this history, rewarded him for all his
previous disappointments, though it did not fully justify the well-known
epigram, alluding to himself and the manager, and "make Gay _rich_, and
Rich _gay_." At the time of his present introduction, his play of "The
Captives," had just been produced at Drury Lane, and he was meditating
his "Fables," which were published two years afterwards.

Behind the poet came Sir James Thornhill. The eminent painter had
handsome, expressive features, an aquiline nose, and a good deal of
dignity in his manner. His age was not far from fifty. He was
accompanied by a young man of about seven-and-twenty, who carried his
easel, set it in its place, laid the canvass upon it, opened the paint
box, took out the brushes and palette, and, in short, paid him the most
assiduous attention. This young man, whose features, though rather plain
and coarse, bore the strongest impress of genius, and who had a dark
gray, penetrating eye, so quick in its glances that it seemed to survey
twenty objects at once, and yet only to fasten upon one, bore the
honoured name of William Hogarth. Why he paid so much attention to Sir
James Thornhill may be explained anon.

The rear of the party was brought up by a large, powerfully-built man,
with a bluff, honest, but rugged countenance, slashed with many a cut
and scar, and stamped with that surly, sturdy, bull-dog-like look, which
an Englishman always delights to contemplate, because he conceives it to
be characteristic of his countrymen. This formidable person, who was no
other than the renowned Figg, the "Atlas of the sword," as he is termed
by Captain Godfrey, had removed his hat and "skull covering," and was
wiping the heat from his bepatched and close-shaven pate. His shirt also
was unbuttoned, and disclosed a neck like that of an ox, and a chest
which might have served as a model for a Hercules. He had a flattish,
perhaps, it should be called, a _flattened_ nose, and a brown,
leathern-looking hide, that seemed as if it had not unfrequently
undergone the process of tanning. Under his arm he carried a thick,
knotted crab-stick. The above description of

   --the great Figg, by the prize-fighting swains
    Sole monarch acknowledged of Mary'bone plains--

may sound somewhat tame by the side of the glowing account given of him
by his gallant biographer, who asserts that "there was a majesty shone
in his countenance, and blazed in his actions, beyond all I ever saw;"
but it may, possibly, convey a more accurate notion of his personal
appearance. James Figg was the most perfect master of self-defence of
his day. Seconded by his strength and temper, his skill rendered him
invincible and he is reputed never to have lost a battle. His
imperturbable demeanour in the fight has been well portrayed by Captain
Godfrey, who here condescends to lay aside his stilts. "His right leg
bold and firm, and his left, which could hardly ever be disturbed, gave
him a surprising advantage, and struck his adversary with despair and
panic. He had a peculiar way of stepping in, in a parry; knew his arm,
and its just time of moving; put a firm faith in that, and never let his
opponent escape. He was just as much a greater master than any other I
ever saw, as he was a greater judge of time and measure." Figg's prowess
in a combat with Button has been celebrated by Dr. Byrom,--a poet of
whom his native town, Manchester, may be justly proud; and his features
and figure have been preserved by the most illustrious of his companions
on the present occasion,--Hogarth,--in the levée in the "Rake's
Progress," and in "Southwark Fair."

On the appearance of his visitors, Sheppard arose,--his gyves clanking
heavily as he made the movement,--and folding his arms, so far as his
manacles would permit him, upon his breast, steadily returned the
glances fixed upon him.

"This is the noted house-breaker and prison-breaker, gentlemen," said
Mr. Pitt, pointing to the prisoner.

"Odd's life!" cried Gay, in astonishment; "is this slight-made stripling
Jack Sheppard? Why, I expected to see a man six foot high at the least,
and as broad across the shoulders as our friend Figg. This is a mere
boy. Are you sure you haven't mistaken the ward, Mr. Pitt?"

"There is no mistake, Sir," rejoined the prisoner, drawing himself up,
"I am Jack Sheppard."

"Well, I never was more surprised in my life," said the poet,--"never!"

"He's just the man _I_ expected to see," observed Hogarth, who, having
arranged everything to Thornhill's satisfaction, had turned to look at
the prisoner, and was now with his chin upon his wrist, and his elbow
supported by the other hand, bending his keen gray eyes upon him, "just
the man! Look at that light, lithe figure,--all muscle and activity,
with not an ounce of superfluous flesh upon it. In my search after
strange characters, Mr. Gay, I've been in many odd quarters of our
city--have visited haunts frequented only by thieves--the Old Mint, the
New Mint, the worst part of St. Giles's, and other places--but I've
nowhere seen any one who came up so completely to my notion of a
first-rate housebreaker as the individual before us. Wherever I saw him,
I should pick him out as a man designed by nature to plan and
accomplish the wonderful escapes he has effected."

As he spoke, a smile crossed Sheppard's countenance.

"He understands me, you perceive," said Hogarth.

"Well, I won't dispute your judgment in such matters, Mr. Hogarth,"
replied Gay. "But I appeal to you, Sir James, whether it isn't
extraordinary that so very slight a person should be such a desperate
robber as he is represented--so young, too, for such an _old_ offender.
Why, he can scarcely be twenty."

"I am one-and-twenty," observed Jack.

"One-and-twenty, ah!" repeated Gay. "Well, I'm not far from the mark."

"He is certainly extremely youthful-looking and very slightly made,"
said Thornhill, who had been attentively studying Sheppard's
countenance. "But I agree with Hogarth, that he is precisely the person
to do what he has done. Like a thorough-bred racer, he would sustain
twice as much fatigue as a person of heavier mould. Can I be
accommodated with a seat, Mr. Pitt?"

"Certainly, Sir James, certainly," replied the governor. "Get a chair,
Austin."

While this order was obeyed, Figg, who had been standing near the door,
made his way to the prisoner, and offered him his huge hand, which Jack
warmly grasped.

"Well, Jack," said the prize-fighter, in a rough, but friendly voice,
and with a cut-and-thrust abrupt manner peculiar to himself; "how are
you, lad, eh? Sorry to see you here. Wouldn't take my advice. Told you
how it would be. One mistress enough to ruin a man,--two, the devil.
Laughed at me, then. Laugh on the wrong side of your mouth, now."

"You're not come here to insult me, Mr. Figg?" said Jack, peevishly.

"Insult you! not I;" returned Figg. "Heard of your escapes. Everybody
talking of you. Wished to see you. Old pupil. Capital swordsman. Shortly
to be executed. Come to take leave. Trifle useful?" he added, slipping a
few gold pieces into Jack's hand.

"You are very kind," said Jack, returning the money; "but I don't
require assistance."

"Too proud, eh?" rejoined the prize-fighter. "Won't be under an
obligation."

"There you're wrong, Mr. Figg," replied Jack, smiling; "for, before I'm
taken to Tyburn, I mean to borrow a shirt for the occasion from you."

"Have it, and welcome," rejoined Figg. "Always plenty to spare. Never
bought a shirt in my life, Mr. Gay," he added, turning to the poet.
"Sold a good many, though."

"How do you manage that, Mr. Figg?" asked Gay.

"Thus," replied the prize-fighter. "Proclaim a public fight. Challenge
accepted. Fifty pupils. Day before, send round to each to borrow a
shirt. Fifty sent home. All superfine holland. Wear one on the stage on
the following day. Cut to pieces--slashed--bloodied. Each of my scholars
thinks it his own shirt. Offer to return it to each in private. All make
the same answer--'d--n you, keep it.'"

"An ingenious device," laughed Gay.

Sir James Thornhill's preparations being completed, Mr. Pitt desired to
know if he wanted anything further, and being answered in the negative,
he excused himself on the plea that his attendance was required in the
court at the Old Bailey, which was then sitting, and withdrew.

"Do me the favour to seat yourself, Jack," said Sir James. "Gentlemen, a
little further off, if you please."

Sheppard immediately complied with the painter's request; while Gay and
Figg drew back on one side, and Hogarth on the other. The latter took
from his pocket a small note-book and pencil.

"I'll make a sketch, too," he said. "Jack Sheppard's face is well worth
preserving."

After narrowly examining the countenance of the sitter, and motioning
him with his pencil into a particular attitude, Sir James Thornhill
commenced operations; and, while he rapidly transferred his lineaments
to the canvass, engaged him in conversation, in the course of which he
artfully contrived to draw him into a recital of his adventures. The
_ruse_ succeeded almost beyond his expectation. During the narration
Jack's features lighted up, and an expression, which would have been in
vain looked for in repose, was instantly caught and depicted by the
skilful artist. All the party were greatly interested by Sheppard's
history--especially Figg, who laughed loud and long at the escape from
the Condemned Hold. When Jack came to speak of Jonathan Wild, his
countenance fell.

"We must change the subject," remarked Thornhill, pausing in his task;
"this will never do."

"Quite right, Sir James," said Austin. "We never suffer him to mention
Mr. Wild's name. He never appears to so little advantage as when
speaking of him."

"I don't wonder at it," rejoined Gay.

Here Hogarth received a private signal from Thornhill to attract
Sheppard's attention.

"And so you've given up all hope of escaping, eh, Jack?" remarked
Hogarth.

"That's scarcely a fair question, Mr. Hogarth, before the jailer,"
replied Jack. "But I tell you frankly, and Mr. Austin, may repeat it if
he pleases to his master, Jonathan Wild,--I have _not_."

"Well said, Jack," cried Figg. "Never give in."

"Well," observed Hogarth, "if, fettered as you are, you contrive to
break out of this dungeon, you'll do what no man ever did before."

A peculiar smile illuminated Jack's features.

"There it is!" cried Sir James, eagerly. "There's the exact expression I
want. For the love of Heaven, Jack, don't move!--Don't alter a muscle,
if you can help it."

And, with a few magical touches, he stamped the fleeting expression on
the canvass.

"I have it too!" exclaimed Hogarth, busily plying his pencil. "Gad! it's
a devilish fine face when lit up."

"As like as life, Sir," observed Austin, peeping over Thornhill's
shoulder at the portrait. "As like as life."

"The very face," exclaimed Gay, advancing to look at it;--"with all the
escapes written in it."

"You flatter me," smiled Sir James. "But, I own, I think it _is_ like."

"What do you think of _my_ sketch, Jack?" said Hogarth, handing him the
drawing.

"It's like enough, I dare say," rejoined Sheppard. "But it wants
something _here_." And he pointed significantly to the hand.

"I see," rejoined Hogarth, rapidly sketching a file, which he placed in
the hands of the picture. "Will that do?" he added, returning it.

"It's better," observed Sheppard, meaningly. "But you've given me what I
don't possess."

"Hum!" said Hogarth, looking fixedly at him. "I don't see how I can
improve it."

"May I look at it, Sir!" said Austin, stepping towards him.

"No," replied Hogarth, hastily effacing the sketch. "I'm never satisfied
with a first attempt."

"Egad, Jack," said Gay, "you should write your adventures. They would be
quite as entertaining as the histories of Guzman D'Alfarache, Lazarillo
de Tormes, Estevanillo Gonzalez, Meriton Latroon, or any of my favourite
rogues,--and far more instructive."

"You had better write them for me, Mr. Gay," rejoined Jack.

"If you'll write them, I'll illustrate them," observed Hogarth.

"An idea has just occurred to me," said Gay, "which Jack's narrative has
suggested. I'll write an opera the scene of which shall be laid
altogether in Newgate, and the principal character shall be a
highmaywan. I'll not forget your two mistresses, Jack."

"Nor Jonathan Wild, I hope," interposed Sheppard.

"Certainly not," replied Gay. "I'll gibbet the rascal. But I forget," he
added, glancing at Austin; "it's high treason to speak disrespectfully
of Mr. Wild in his own domain."

"I hear nothing, Sir," laughed Austin.

"I was about to add," continued Gay, "that my opera shall have no music
except the good old ballad tunes. And we'll see whether it won't put
the Italian opera out of fashion, with Cutzoni, Senesino, and the
'divine' Farinelli at its head."

"You'll do a national service, then," said Hogarth. "The sums lavished
upon those people are perfectly disgraceful, and I should be enchanted
to see them hooted from the stage. But I've an idea as well as you,
grounded in some measure upon Sheppard's story. I'll take two
apprentices, and depict their career. One, by perseverance and industry
shall obtain fortune, credit, and the highest honours; while the other
by an opposite course, and dissolute habits, shall eventually arrive at
Tyburn."

"Your's will be nearer the truth, and have a deeper moral, Mr. Hogarth,"
remarked Jack, dejectedly. "But if my career were truly exhibited, it
must be as one long struggle against destiny in the shape of--"

"Jonathan Wild," interposed Gay. "I knew it. By the by, Mr. Hogarth,
didn't I see you last night at the ridotto with Lady Thornhill and her
pretty daughter?"

"Me!--no, Sir," stammered Hogarth, colouring. And he hazarded a wink at
the poet over the paper on which he was sketching. Luckily, Sir James
was so much engrossed by his own task, that both the remark and gesture
escaped him.

"I suppose I was mistaken," returned Gay. "You've been quizzing my
friend Kent, I perceive, in your Burlington Gate."

"A capital caricature that," remarked Thornhill, laughing. "What does
Mr. Kent say to it?"

"He thinks so highly of it, that he says if he had a daughter he would
give her to the artist," answered Gay, a little maliciously.

"Ah!" exclaimed Sir James.

"'Sdeath!" cried Hogarth, aside to the poet. "You've ruined my hopes."

"Advanced them rather," replied Gay, in the same tone. "Miss Thornhill's
a charming girl. _I_ think a wife a needless incumbrance, and mean to
die a bachelor. But, if I were in your place, I know what I'd do--"

"What--what would you do?" asked Hogarth, eagerly.

"Run away with her," replied Gay.

"Pish!" exclaimed Hogarth. But he afterwards acted upon the suggestion.

"Good-b'ye, Jack," said Figg, putting on his hat. "Rather in the way.
Send you the shirt. Here, turnkey. Couple of guineas to drink Captain
Sheppard's speedy escape. Thank him, not me, man. Give this fellow the
slip, if you can, Jack. If not, keep up your spirits. Die game."

"Never fear," replied Jack. "If I get free, I'll have a bout with you at
all weapons. If not, I'll take a cheerful glass with you at the City of
Oxford, on my way to Tyburn."

"Give you the best I have in either case," replied Figg. "Good-b'ye!"
And with a cordial shake of the hand he took his departure.

Sir James Thornhill, then, rose.

"I won't trouble you further, Jack," he remarked. "I've done all I can
to the portrait here. I must finish it at home."

"Permit me to see it, Sir James!" requested Jack. "Ah!" he exclaimed, as
the painting was turned towards him. "What would my poor mother say to
it?"

"I was sorry to see that about your mother, Jack," observed Hogarth.

"What of her?" exclaimed Jack, starting up. "Is she dead?"

"No--no," answered Hogarth. "Don't alarm yourself. I saw it this morning
in the Daily Journal--an advertisement, offering a reward--"

"A reward!" echoed Jack. "For what?"

"I had the paper with me. 'Sdeath! what can I have done with it? Oh!
here it is," cried Hogarth, picking it from the ground. "I must have
dropped it when I took out my note-book. There's the paragraph. '_Mrs.
Sheppard left Mr. Wood's house at Dollis Hill on Tuesday_'--that's two
days ago,--'_hasn't been heard of since_.'"

"Let me see," cried Jack, snatching the paper, and eagerly perusing the
advertisement. "Ah!" he exclaimed, in a tone of anguish. "She has fallen
into the villain's hands."

"What villain?" cried Hogarth.

"Jonathan Wild, I'll be sworn," said Gay.

"Right!--right!" cried Jack, striking his fettered hands against his
breast. "She is in his power, and I am here, chained hand and foot,
unable to assist her."

"I could make a fine sketch of him now," whispered Hogarth to Gay.

"I told you how it was, Sir James," said Austin, addressing the knight,
who was preparing for his departure, "he attributes every misfortune
that befals him to Mr. Wild."

"And with some justice," replied Thornhill, drily.

"Allow me to assist you, Sir James," said Hogarth.

"Many thanks, Sir," replied Thornhill, with freezing politeness; "but Id
not require assistance."

"I tell you what, Jack," said Gay, "I've several urgent engagements this
morning; but I'll return to-morrow, and hear the rest of your story.
And, if I can render you any service, you may command me."

"To-morrow will be too late," said Sheppard, moodily.

The easel and palette having been packed up, and the canvass carefully
removed by Austin, the party took leave of the prisoner, who was so much
abstracted that he scarcely noticed their departure. Just as Hogarth got
to the door, the turnkey stopped him.

"You have forgotten your knife, Mr. Hogarth," he observed,
significantly.

"So I have," replied Hogarth, glancing at Sheppard.

"I can do without it," muttered Jack.

The door was then locked, and he was left alone.

At three o'clock, on the same day, Austin brought up Jack's provisions,
and, after carefully examining his fetters, and finding all secure, told
him if he wanted anything further he must mention it, as he should not
be able to return in the evening, his presence being required elsewhere.
Jack replied in the negative, and it required all his mastery over
himself to prevent the satisfaction which this announcement afforded
him from being noticed by the jailer.

With the usual precautions, Austin then departed.

"And now," cried Jack, leaping up, "for an achievement, compared with
which all I have yet done shall be as nothing!"




CHAPTER XVII.

The Iron Bar.


Jack Sheppard's first object was to free himself from his handcuffs.
This he accomplished by holding the chain that connected them firmly
between his teeth, and squeezing his fingers as closely together as
possible, succeeded in drawing his wrists through the manacles. He next
twisted the heavy gyves round and round, and partly by main strength,
partly by a dexterous and well-applied jerk, sapped asunder the central
link by which they were attached to the padlock. Taking off his
stockings, he then drew up the basils as far as he was able, and tied
the fragments of the broken chain to his legs, to prevent them from
clanking, and impeding his future exertions.

Jack's former attempt to pass up the chimney, it may be remembered, was
obstructed by an iron bar. To remove this obstacle it was necessary make
an extensive breach in the wall. With the broken links of the chain,
which served him in lieu of more efficient implements, he commenced
operations just above the chimney-piece, and soon contrived to pick a
hole in the plaster.

He found the wall, as he suspected, solidly constructed of brick and
stone; and with the slight and inadequate tools which he possessed, it
was a work of infinite labour and skill to get out a single brick. That
done, however, he was well aware the rest would be comparatively easy,
and as he threw the brick to the ground, he exclaimed triumphantly, "The
first step is taken--the main difficulty is overcome."

Animated by this trifling success, he proceeded with fresh ardour, and
the rapidity of his progress was proclaimed by the heap of bricks,
stones, and mortar which before long covered the floor. At the
expiration of an hour, by dint of unremitting exertion, he had made so
large a breach in the chimney, that he could stand upright in it. He was
now within a foot of the bar, and introducing himself into the hole,
speedily worked his way to it.

Regardless of the risk he incurred from some heavy stone dropping on his
head or feet,--regardless also of the noise made by the falling rubbish,
and of the imminent danger which he consequently ran of being
interrupted by some of the jailers, should the sound reach their ears,
he continued to pull down large masses of the wall, which he flung upon
the floor of the cell.

Having worked thus for another quarter of an hour without being sensible
of fatigue, though he was half stifled by the clouds of dust which his
exertions raised, he had made a hole about three feet wide, and six
high, and uncovered the iron bar. Grasping it firmly with both hands, he
quickly wrenched if from the stones in which it was mortised, and leapt
to the ground. On examination it proved to be a flat bar of iron, nearly
a yard in length, and more than an inch square. "A capital instrument
for my purpose," thought Jack, shouldering it, "and worth all the
trouble I have had in procuring it."

While he was thus musing, he fancied he heard the lock tried. A chill
ran through his frame, and, grasping the heavy weapon with which chance
had provided him, prepared to strike down the first person who should
enter the cell. After listening attentively for a short time without
drawing breath, he became convinced that his apprehensions were
groundless, and, greatly relieved, sat down upon the chair to rest
himself and prepare for further efforts.

Acquainted with every part of the jail, Jack well knew that his only
chance of effecting an escape must be by the roof. To reach it would be
a most difficult undertaking. Still it was possible, and the difficulty
was only a fresh incitement.

The mere enumeration of the obstacles that existed would have deterred
any spirit less daring than Sheppard's from even hazarding the attempt.
Independently of other risks, and of the chance of breaking his neck in
the descent, he was aware that to reach the leads he should have to
break open six of the strongest doors of the prison. Armed, however,
with the implement he had so fortunately obtained, he did not despair of
success.

"My name will only be remembered as that of a robber," he mused; "but it
shall be remembered as that of a bold one: and this night's achievement,
if it does nothing else, shall prevent me from being classed with the
common herd of depredators."

Roused by this reflection, filled with the deepest anxiety for his
mother, and burning to be avenged upon Jonathan Wild, he grasped the
iron bar, which, when he sat down, he had laid upon his knees, and
stepped quickly across the room. In doing so, he had to clamber up the
immense heap of bricks and rubbish which now littered the floor,
amounting almost to a car-load, and reaching up nearly to the top of the
chimney-piece.

"Austin will stare," thought Jack, "when he comes here in the morning.
It will cost them something to repair their stronghold, and take them
more time to build it up again than I have taken to pull it down."

Before proceeding with his task, he considered whether it would be
possible to barricade the door; but, reflecting that the bar would be an
indispensable assistant in his further efforts, he abandoned the idea,
and determined to rely implicitly on that good fortune which had
hitherto attended him on similar occasions.

Having once more got into the chimney, he climbed to a level with the
ward above, and recommenced operations as vigorously as before. He was
now aided with a powerful implement, with which he soon contrived to
make a hole in the wall.

"Every brick I take out," cried Jack, as fresh rubbish clattered down
the chimney, "brings me nearer my mother."




CHAPTER XVIII.

The Red Room.


The ward into which Jack was endeavouring to break was called the Red
Room, from the circumstance of its walls having once been painted in
that colour; all traces of which had, however, long since disappeared.
Like the Castle, which it resembled in all respects except that it was
destitute even of a barrack-bedstead, the Red Room was reserved for
state-prisoners, and had not been occupied since the year 1716, when the
jail, as has before been mentioned, was crowded by the Preston rebels.

Having made a hole in the wall sufficiently large to pass through, Jack
first tossed the bar into the room and then crept after it. As soon as
he had gained his feet, he glanced round the bare blank walls of the
cell, and, oppressed by the musty, close atmosphere, exclaimed, "I'll
let a little fresh air into this dungeon. They say it hasn't been opened
for eight years--but I won't be eight years in getting out of it."

In stepping across the room, some sharp point in the floor pierced his
foot, and stooping to examine it, he found that the wound had been
inflicted by a long rusty nail, which projected from the boards. Totally
disregarding the pain, he picked up the nail, and reserved it for future
use. Nor was he long in making it available.

On examining the door, he found it secured by a large rusty lock, which
he endeavoured to pick with the nail he had just acquired; but all his
efforts proving ineffectual, he removed the plate that covered it with
the bar, and with his fingers contrived to draw back the bolt.

Opening the door he then stepped into a dark narrow passage leading, as
he was well aware, to the chapel. On the left there were doors
communicating with the King's Bench Ward and the Stone Ward, two large
holds on the Master Debtors' side. But Jack was too well versed in the
geography of the place to attempt either of them. Indeed, if he had been
ignorant of it, the sound of voices which he could faintly distinguish,
would have served as a caution to him.

Hurrying on, his progress was soon checked by a strong door, several
inches in thickness, and nearly as wide as the passage. Running his hand
carefully over it in search of the lock, he perceived to his dismay that
it was fastened on the other side. After several vain attempts to burst
it open, he resolved, as a last alternative, to break through the wall
in the part nearest to the lock. This was a much more serious task than
he anticipated. The wall was of considerable thickness, and built
altogether of stone; and the noise he was compelled to make in using the
heavy bar, which brought sparks with every splinter he struck off, was
so great, that he feared it must be heard by the prisoners on the
Debtors' side. Heedless, however, of the consequences, he pursued his
task.

Half an hour's labour, during which he was obliged more than once to
pause to regain breath, sufficed to make a hole wide enough to allow a
passage for his arm up to the elbow. In this way he was able to force
back a ponderous bolt from its socket; and to his unspeakable joy, found
that the door instantly yielded.

Once more cheered by daylight, he hastened forward, and entered the
chapel.




CHAPTER XIX.

The Chapel.


Situated at the upper part of the south-east angle of the jail, the
chapel of Old Newgate was divided on the north side into three grated
compartments, or pens as they were termed, allotted to the common
debtors and felons. In the north-west angle, there was a small pen for
female offenders, and, on the south, a more commodious enclosure
appropriated to the master-debtors and strangers. Immediately beneath
the pulpit stood a large circular pew where malefactors under sentence
of death sat to hear the condemned sermon delivered to them, and where
they formed a public spectacle to the crowds, which curiosity generally
attracted on those occasions.

To return. Jack had got into one of the pens at the north side of the
chapel. The enclosure by which it was surrounded was about twelve feet
high; the under part being composed of taken planks, the upper of a
strong iron grating, surmounted by sharp iron spikes. In the middle
there was a gate. It was locked. But Jack speedily burst it open with
the iron bar.

Clearing the few impediments in his way, he soon reached the condemned
pew, where it had once been his fate to sit; and extending himself on
the seat endeavoured to snatch a moment's repose. It was denied him, for
as he closed his eyes--though but for an instant--the whole scene of his
former visit to the place rose before him. There he sat as before, with
the heavy fetters on his limbs, and beside him sat his three companions,
who had since expiated their offences on the gibbet. The chapel was
again crowded with visitors, and every eye--even that of Jonathan Wild
who had come thither to deride him,--was fixed upon him. So perfect was
the illusion, that he could almost fancy he heard the solemn voice of
the ordinary warning him that his race was nearly run, and imploring him
to prepare for eternity. From this perturbed state he was roused by
thoughts of his mother, and fancying he heard her gentle voice urging
him on to fresh exertion, he started up.

On one side of the chapel there was a large grated window, but, as it
looked upon the interior of the jail, Jack preferred following the
course he had originally decided upon to making any attempt in this
quarter.

Accordingly, he proceeded to a gate which stood upon the south, and
guarded the passage communicating with the leads. It was grated and
crested with spikes, like that he had just burst open, and thinking it a
needless waste of time to force it, he broke off one of the spikes,
which he carried with him for further purposes, and then climbed over
it.

A short flight of steps brought him to a dark passage, into which he
plunged. Here he found another strong door, making the fifth he had
encountered. Well aware that the doors in this passage were much
stronger than those in the entry he had just quitted he was neither
surprised nor dismayed to find it fastened by a lock of unusual size.
After repeatedly trying to remove the plate, which was so firmly screwed
down that it resisted all his efforts, and vainly attempting to pick it
with the spike and nail; he, at length, after half an hour's ineffectual
labour, wrenched off the box by means of the iron bar, and the door, as
he laughingly expressed it, "became his humble servant."

But this difficulty was only overcome to be succeeded by one still
greater. Hastening along the passage he came to the sixth door. For this
he was prepared; but he was not prepared for the almost insurmountable
obstacles which it presented. Running his hand hastily over it, he was
startled to find it one complicated mass of bolts and bars. It seemed as
if all the precautions previously taken were here accumulated. Any one
less courageous than himself would have abandoned the attempt from a
conviction of its utter hopelessness; but, though it might for a moment
damp his ardour, it could not deter him.

Once again, he passed his hand over the surface and carefully noted all
the obstacles. There was a lock, apparently more than a foot wide,
strongly plated, and girded to the door with thick iron hoops. Below it
a prodigiously large bolt was shot into the socket, and, in order to
keep it there, was fastened by a hasp, and further protected by an
immense padlock. Besides this, the door was crossed and recrossed by
iron bars, clenched by broad-headed nails. An iron fillet secured the
socket of the bolt and the box of the lock to the main post of the
doorway.

Nothing disheartened by this survey, Jack set to work upon the lock,
which he attacked with all his implements;--now attempting to pick it
with the nail;--now to wrench it off with the bar: but all without
effect. He not only failed in making any impression, but seemed to
increase the difficulties, for after an hour's toil he had broken the
nail and slightly bent the iron bar.

Completely overcome by fatigue, with strained muscles, and bruised
hands; streaming with perspiration, and with lips so parched that he
would gladly have parted with a treasure if he had possessed it for a
draught of water; he sank against the wall, and while in this state was
seized with, a sudden and strange alarm. He fancied that the turnkeys
had discovered his flight and were in pursuit of him,--that they had
climbed up the chimney,--entered the Red Room,--tracked him from door to
door, and were now only detained by the gate which he had left unbroken
in the chapel. He even thought he could detect the voice of Jonathan,
urging and directing them.

So strongly was he impressed with this idea, that grasping the iron bar
with both hands, he dashed it furiously against the door, making the
passage echo with the blows.

By degrees, his fears vanished, and hearing nothing, he grew calmer. His
spirits revived, and encouraging himself with the idea that the present
impediment, though the greatest, was the last, he set himself seriously
to consider how it might best be overcome.

On reflection, it occurred to him that he might, perhaps, be able to
loosen the iron fillet; a notion no sooner conceived than executed. With
incredible labour, and by the aid of both spike and nail, he succeeded
in getting the point of the bar beneath the fillet. Exerting all his
energies, and using the bar as a lever, he forced off the iron band,
which was full seven feet high, seven inches wide, and two thick, and
which brought with it in its fall the box of the lock and the socket of
the bolt, leaving no further hinderance.

Overjoyed beyond measure at having vanquished this
apparently-insurmountable obstacle, Jack darted through the door.




CHAPTER XX.

The Leads.


Ascending a short flight of steps, Jack found at the summit a door,
which being bolted in the inside he speedily opened.

The fresh air, which blew in his face, greatly revived him. He had now
reached what was called the Lower Leads,--a flat, covering a part of the
prison contiguous to the gateway, and surrounded on all sides by walls
about fourteen feet high. On the north stood the battlements of one of
the towers of the gate. On this side a flight of wooden steps, protected
by a hand-rail, led to a door opening upon the summit of the prison.
This door was crested with spikes, and guarded on the right by a
bristling semicircle of spikes. Hastily ascending these steps, Jack
found the door, as he anticipated, locked. He could have easily forced
it, but preferred a more expeditious mode of reaching the roof which
suggested itself to him. Mounting the door he had last opened, he placed
his hands on the wall above, and quickly drew himself up.

Just as he got on the roof of the prison, St. Sepulchre's clock struck
eight. It was instantly answered by the deep note of St. Paul's; and the
concert was prolonged by other neighbouring churches. Jack had thus been
six hours in accomplishing his arduous task.

Though nearly dark, there was still light enough left to enable him to
discern surrounding objects. Through the gloom he distinctly perceived
the dome of St. Paul's, hanging like a black cloud in the air; and
nearer to him he remarked the golden ball on the summit of the College
of Physicians, compared by Garth to a "gilded pill." Other towers and
spires--St. Martin's on Ludgate-hill, and Christchurch in Newgate
Street, were also distinguishable. As he gazed down into the courts of
the prison, he could not help shuddering, lest a false step might
precipitate him below.

To prevent the recurrence of any such escape as that just described, it
was deemed expedient, in more recent times, to keep a watchman at the
top of Newgate. Not many years ago, two men, employed on this duty,
quarrelled during the night, and in the morning their bodies were found
stretched upon the pavement of the yard beneath.

Proceeding along the wall, Jack reached the southern tower, over the
battlements of which he clambered, and crossing it, dropped upon the
roof of the gate. He then scaled the northern tower, and made his way to
the summit of that part of the prison which fronted Giltspur Street.
Arrived at the extremity of the building, he found that it overlooked
the flat-roof of a house which, as far as he could judge in the
darkness, lay at a depth of about twenty feet below.

Not choosing to hazard so great a fall, Jack turned to examine the
building, to see whether any more favourable point of descent presented
itself, but could discover nothing but steep walls, without a single
available projection. As he looked around, he beheld an incessant stream
of passengers hurrying on below. Lights glimmered in the windows of the
different houses; and a lamp-lighter was running from post to post on
his way to Snow Hill.

Finding it impossible to descend on any side, without incurring serious
risk, Jack resolved to return for his blanket, by the help of which he
felt certain of accomplishing a safe landing on the roof of the house in
Giltspur Street.

Accordingly, he began to retrace his steps, and pursuing the course he
had recently taken, scaling the two towers, and passing along the wall
of the prison, he descended by means of the door upon the Lower Leads.
Before he re-entered the prison, he hesitated from a doubt whether he
was not fearfully increasing his risk of capture; but, convinced that he
had no other alternative, he went on.

During all this time, he had never quitted the iron bar, and he now
grasped it with the firm determination of selling his life dearly, if he
met with any opposition. A few seconds sufficed to clear the passage,
through which it had previously cost him more than two hours to force
his way. The floor was strewn with screws, nails, fragments of wood and
stone, and across the passage lay the heavy iron fillet. He did not
disturb any of this litter, but left it as a mark of his prowess.

He was now at the entrance of the chapel, and striking the door over
which he had previously climbed a violent blow with the bar, it flew
open. To vault over the pews was the work of a moment; and having gained
the entry leading to the Red Room he passed through the first door; his
progress being only impeded by the pile of broken stones, which he
himself had raised.

Listening at one of the doors leading to the Master Debtors' side, he
heard a loud voice chanting a Bacchanalian melody, and the boisterous
laughter that accompanied the song, convinced him that no suspicion was
entertained in this quarter. Entering the Red Room, he crept through the
hole in the wall, descended the chimney, and arrived once more in his
old place of captivity.

How different were his present feelings compared with those he had
experienced on quitting it. _Then_, though full of confidence, he half
doubted his power of accomplishing his designs. _Now_, he _had_ achieved
them, and felt assured of success. The vast heap of rubbish on the floor
had been so materially increased by the bricks and plaster thrown down
in his attack upon the wall of the Red Room, that it was with some
difficulty he could find the blanket which was almost buried beneath the
pile. He next searched for his stockings and shoes, and when found, put
them on.

While he was thus employed, his nerves underwent a severe shock. A few
bricks, dislodged probably by his last descent, came clattering down the
chimney, and as it was perfectly dark, gave him the notion that some one
was endeavouring to force an entrance into the room.

But these fears, like those he had recently experienced, speedily
vanished, and he prepared to return to the roof, congratulating himself
that owing to the opportune falling of the bricks, he had in all
probability escaped serious injury.

Throwing the blanket over his left arm and shouldering the iron bar, he
again clambered up the chimney; regained the Red Room; hurried along the
first passage; crossed the Chapel; threaded the entry to the Lower
Leads; and, in less than ten minutes after quitting the Castle, had
reached the northern extremity of the prison.

Previously to his descent he had left the nail and spike on the wall,
and with these he fastened the blanket to the stone coping. This done,
he let himself carefully down by it, and having only a few feet to drop,
alighted in safety.

Having now fairly got out of Newgate for the second time, with a heart
throbbing with exultation, he hastened to make good his escape. To his
great joy he found a small garret-door in the roof of the opposite house
open. He entered it; crossed the room, in which there was only a small
truckle-bed, over which he stumbled; opened another door and gained the
stair-head. As he was about to descend his chains slightly rattled. "Oh,
lud! what's that?" exclaimed a female voice, from an adjoining room.
"Only the dog," replied the rough tones of a man.

Securing the chain in the best way he could, Jack then hurried down two
pair of stairs, and had nearly reached the lobby, when a door suddenly
opened, and two persons appeared, one of whom held a light. Retreating
as quickly as he could, Jack opened the first door he came to, entered a
room, and searching in the dark for some place of concealment,
fortunately discovered a skreen, behind which he crept.




CHAPTER XXI.

What befell Jack Sheppard in the Turner's House.


Jack was scarcely concealed when the door opened, and the two persons of
whom he had caught a glimpse below entered the room. What was his
astonishment to recognise in the few words they uttered the voices of
Kneebone and Winifred! The latter was apparently in great distress, and
the former seemed to be using his best efforts to relieve her anxiety.

"How very fortunate it is," he observed, "that I happened to call upon
Mr. Bird, the turner, to give him an order this evening. It was quite an
unexpected pleasure to meet you and your worthy father."

"Pray cease these compliments," returned Winifred, "and, if you have any
communication to make, do not delay it. You told me just now that you
wished to speak a few words to me in private, concerning Thames Darrell,
and for that purpose I have left my father below with Mr. Bird and have
come hither. What have you got to say?"

"Too much," replied Kneebone, shaking his head; "sadly too much."

"Do not needlessly alarm me, I beseech you," replied Winifred. "Whatever
your intelligence may be I will strive to bear it. But do not awaken my
apprehension, unless you have good cause for so doing.--What do you know
of Thames?--Where is he?"

"Don't agitate yourself, dearest girl," rejoined the woollen-draper; "or
I shall never be able to commence my relation."

"I am calm--perfectly calm," replied Winifred. "Pray, make no further
mystery; but tell me all without reserve."

"Since you require it, I must obey," replied Kneebone; "but prepare
yourself for a terrible shock."

"For mercy's sake, go on!" cried Winifred.

"At all hazards then then you shall know the truth," replied the
woollen-draper, in a tone of affected solicitude,--"but are you really
prepared?"

"Quite--quite!" replied Winifred. "This suspense is worse than torture."

"I am almost afraid to utter it," said Kneebone; "but Thames Darrell is
murdered."

"Murdered!" ejaculated Winifred.

"Basely and inhumanly murdered, by Jack Sheppard and Blueskin,"
continued Kneebone.

"Oh! no--no--no," cried Winifred, "I cannot believe it. You must be
misinformed, Mr. Kneebone. Jack may be capable of much that is wicked,
but he would never lift his hand against his friend,--of that I am
assured."

"Generous girl!" cried Jack from behind the skreen.

"I have proofs to the contrary," replied Kneebone. "The murder was
committed after the robbery of my house by Sheppard and his accomplices.
I did not choose to mention my knowledge of this fact to your worthy
father; but you may rely on its correctness."

"You were right not to mention it to him," rejoined Winifred, "for he is
in such a state of distress at the mysterious disappearance of Mrs.
Sheppard, that I fear any further anxiety might prove fatal to him. And
yet I know not--for the object of his visit here to-night was to serve
Jack, who, if your statement is correct, which I cannot however for a
moment believe, does not deserve his assistance."

"You may rest assured he does not," rejoined Kneebone, emphatically,
"but I am at a loss to understand in what way your father proposes to
assist him."

"Mr. Bird, the turner, who is an old friend of our's, has some
acquaintance with the turnkeys of Newgate," replied Winifred, "and by
his means my father hoped to convey some implements to Jack, by which he
might effect another escape."

"I see," remarked Kneebone. "This must be prevented," he added to
himself.

"Heaven grant you may have been wrongly informed with respect to
Thames!" exclaimed Winifred; "but, I beseech you, on no account to
mention what you have told me to my poor father. He is not in a state of
mind to bear it."

"Rely on me," rejoined Kneebone. "One word before we part, adorable
girl--only one," he continued, detaining her. "I would not venture to
renew my suit while Thames lived, because I well knew your affections
were fixed upon him. But now that this bar is removed, I trust I may,
without impropriety, urge it."

"No more of this," said Winifred, angrily. "Is this a season to speak on
such a subject?"

"Perhaps not," rejoined the woollen-draper; "but the uncontrollable
violence of my passion must plead my excuse. My whole life shall be
devoted to you, beloved girl. And when you reflect how much at heart
your poor mother, whose loss we must ever deplore, had our union, you
will, I am persuaded, no longer refuse me."

"Sir!" exclaimed Winifred.

"You will make me the happiest of mankind," cried the woollen-draper,
falling on his knees, and seizing her hand, which he devoured with
kisses.

"Let me go," cried Winifred. "I disbelieve the whole story you have told
me."

"By Heaven!" cried Kneebone, with increasing fervour, "it is true--as
true as my affection for you."

"I do not doubt it," retorted Winifred, scornfully; "because I attach
credit neither to one nor the other. If Thames _is_ murdered, you are
his assassin. Let me go, Sir."

The woollen-draper made no answer, but hastily starting up, bolted the
door.

"What do you mean?" cried Winifred in alarm.

"Nothing more than to obtain a favourable answer to my suit," replied
Kneebone.

"This is not the way to obtain it," said Winifred, endeavouring to reach
the door.

"You shall not go, adorable girl," cried Kneebone, catching her in his
arms, "till you have answered me. You must--you shall be mine."

"Never," replied Winifred. "Release me instantly, or I will call my
father."

"Do so," replied Kneebone; "but remember the door is locked."

"Monster!" cried Winifred. "Help! help!"

"You call in vain," returned Kneebone.

"Not so," replied Jack, throwing down the skreen. "Release her
instantly, villain!"

Both Winifred and her suitor started at this sudden apparition. Jack,
whose clothes were covered with dust, and whose face was deathly pale
from his recent exertion, looked more like a phantom than a living
person.

"In the devil's name, is that you, Jack!" ejaculated Kneebone.

"It is," replied Sheppard. "You have uttered a wilful and deliberate
falsehood in asserting that I have murdered Thames, for whom you well
know I would lay down my life. Retract your words instantly, or take the
consequences."

"What should I retract, villain?" cried the woollen-draper, who at the
sound of Jack's voice had regained his confidence. "To the best of my
belief, Thames Darrell has been murdered by you."

"A lie!" exclaimed Jack in a terrible tone. And before Kneebone could
draw his sword, he felled him to the ground with the iron bar.

"You have killed him," cried Winifred in alarm.

"No," answered Jack, approaching her, "though, if I had done so, he
would have merited his fate. You do not believe his statement?"

"I do not," replied Winifred. "I could not believe you capable of so
foul a deed. But oh! by what wonderful chance have you come hither so
seasonably?"

"I have just escaped from Newgate," replied Jack; "and am more than
repaid for the severe toil I have undergone, in being able to save you.
But tell me," he added with much anxiety, "has nothing been heard of
Thames since the night of my former escape?"

"Nothing whatever," answered Winifred. "He left Dollis Hill at ten
o'clock on that night, and has not since returned. My father has made
every possible inquiry, and offered large rewards; but has not been able
to discover the slightest trace of him. His suspicions at first fell
upon you. But he has since acquitted you of any share in it."

"Oh, Heaven!" exclaimed Jack.

"He has been indefatigable in his search," continued Winifred, "and has
even journeyed to Manchester. But though he visited Sir Rowland
Trenchard's seat, Ashton Hall, he could gain no tidings of him, or of
his uncle, Sir Rowland, who, it seems, has left the country."

"Never to return," remarked Jack, gloomily. "Before to-morrow morning I
will ascertain what has become of Thames, or perish in the attempt. And
now tell me what has happened to my poor mother?"

"Ever since your last capture, and Thames's mysterious disappearance,
she has been dreadfully ill," replied Winifred; "so ill, that each day
was expected to be her last. She has also been afflicted with occasional
returns of her terrible malady. On Tuesday night, she was rather better,
and I had left her for a short time, as I thought, asleep on the sofa in
the little parlour of which she is so fond--"

"Well," exclaimed Jack.

"On my return, I found the window open, and the room vacant. She was
gone."

"Did you discover any trace of footsteps?" inquired Jack eagerly.

"There were some marks near the window; but whether recently made or not
could not be ascertained," replied Winifred.

"Oh God!" exclaimed Jack, in a tone of the bitterest anguish. "My worst
fears are realized. She is in Wild's power."

"I ought to add," continued Winifred, "that one of her shoes was picked
up in the garden, and that prints of her feet were discovered along the
soft mould; whether made in flying from any one, or from rushing forth
in distracted terror, it is impossible to say. My father thought the
latter. He has had the whole country searched; but hitherto without
success."

"I know _where_ she will be found, and _how_," rejoined Jack with a
shudder.

"I have something further to tell you," pursued Winifred. "Shortly
after your last visit to Dollis Hill, my father was one evening waylaid
by a man, who informed him that he had something to communicate
respecting Thames, and had a large sum of money, and some important
documents to deliver to him, which would be given up, provided he would
undertake to procure your liberation."

"It was Blueskin," observed Jack.

"So my father thought," replied Winifred; "and he therefore instantly
fired upon him. But though the shot took effect, as was evident from the
stains on the ground, the villain escaped."

"Your father did right," replied Jack, with some bitterness. "But if he
had not fired that shot, he might have saved Thames, and possessed
himself of papers which would have established his birth, and his right
to the estates of the Trenchard family."

"Would you have had him spare my mother's murderer?" cried Winifred.

"Ho, no," replied Jack. "And yet--but it is only part of the chain of
ill-luck that seems wound around me. Listen to me, Winifred."

And he hastily related the occurrences in Jonathan Wild's house.

The account of the discovery of Sir Rowland's murder filled Winifred
with alarm; but when she learnt what had befallen Thames--how he had
been stricken down by the thief-taker's bludgeon, and left for dead, she
uttered a piercing scream, fainted, and would have fallen, if Jack had
not caught her in his arms.

Jack had well-nigh fallen too. The idea that he held in his arms the
girl whom he had once so passionately loved, and for whom he still
retained an ardent but hopeless attachment, almost overcame him. Gazing
at her with eyes blinded with tears, he imprinted one brotherly kiss
upon her lips. It was the first--and the last!

At this juncture, the handle of the door was tried, and the voice of Mr.
Wood was heard without, angrily demanding admittance.

"What's the matter?" he cried. "I thought I heard a scream. Why is the
door fastened? Open it directly!"

"Are you alone?" asked Jack, mimicking the voice of Kneebone.

"What for?" demanded Wood. "Open the door, I say, or I'll burst it
open."

Carefully depositing Winifred on a sofa, Jack then extinguished the
light, and, as he unfastened the door, crept behind it. In rushed Mr.
Wood, with a candle in his hand, which Jack instantly blew out, and
darted down stairs. He upset some one--probably Mr. Bird,--who was
rushing up stairs, alarmed by Mr. Wood's cries: but, regardless of this,
he darted along a passage, gained the shop, and passed through an open
door into the street.

And thus he was once more free, having effected one of the most
wonderful escapes ever planned or accomplished.




CHAPTER XXII.

Fast and Loose.


About seven o'clock on the same night, Jonathan Wild's two janizaries,
who had been for some time in attendance in the hall of his dwelling at
the Old Bailey, were summoned to the audience-chamber. A long and secret
conference then took place between the thief-taker and his myrmidons,
after which they were severally dismissed.

Left alone, Jonathan lighted a lamp, and, opening the trap-door,
descended the secret stairs. Taking the opposite course from that which
he had hitherto pursued when it has been necessary to attend him in his
visits to the lower part of his premises, he struck into a narrow
passage on the right, which he tracked till he came to a small door,
like the approach to a vault. Unlocking it, he entered the chamber,
which by no means belied its external appearance.

On a pallet in one corner lay a pale emaciated female. Holding the lamp
over her rigid but beautiful features, Jonathan, with some anxiety,
placed his hand upon her breast to ascertain whether the heart still
beat. Satisfied with his scrutiny, he produced a pocket-flask, and
taking off the silver cup with which it was mounted, filled it with the
contents of the flask, and then seizing the thin arm of the sleeper,
rudely shook it. Opening her large black eyes, she fixed them upon him
for a moment with a mixture of terror and loathing, and then averted her
gaze.

"Drink this," cried Jonathan, handing her the cup. "You'll feel better
after it."

Mechanically raising the potion to her lips, the poor creature swallowed
it without hesitation.

"Is it poison?" she asked.

"No," replied Jonathan, with a brutal laugh. "I'm not going to get rid
of you just yet. It's gin--a liquor you used to like. You'll find the
benefit of it by and by. You've a good deal to go through to-night."

"Ah!" exclaimed Mrs. Sheppard, "are you come to renew your terrible
proposals?"

"I'm come to execute my threats," replied Wild. "To-night you shall be
my wedded wife."

"I will die first," replied Mrs. Sheppard.

"You may die _afterwards_ as soon as you please," retorted Jonathan;
"but live till then you _shall_. I've sent for the priest."

"Mercy!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, vainly trying to discover a gleam of
compassion in the thief-taker's inexorable countenance,--"Mercy! mercy!"

"Pshaw!" rejoined Jonathan. "You should be glad to be made an honest
woman."

"Oh! let me die," groaned the widow. "I have not many days,--perhaps,
not many hours to live. But kill me rather than commit this outrage."

"That wouldn't answer my purpose," replied Jonathan, savagely. "I didn't
carry you off from old Wood to kill you, but to wed you."

"What motive can you have for so vile a deed?" asked Mrs. Sheppard.

"You know my motive well enough," answered Jonathan. "However, I'll
refresh your memory. I once might have married you for your beauty,--now
I marry you for your wealth."

"My wealth," replied Mrs. Sheppard. "I have nothing."

"You are heiress to the Trenchard property," rejoined Jonathan, "one of
the largest estates in Lancashire."

"Not while Thames Darrell and Sir Rowland live."

"Sir Rowland is dead," replied Jonathan, gloomily. "Thames Darrell only
waits my mandate to follow him. Before our marriage there will be no
life between you and the estates."

"Ah!" exclaimed Mrs. Sheppard.

"Look here," cried Jonathan, stooping down and taking hold of a ring in
the floor, with which by a great effort he raised up a flag. "In this
pit," he added, pointing to the chasm below, "your brother is buried.
Here your nephew will speedily be thrown."

"Horrible!" cried Mrs. Sheppard, shuddering violently. "But your
dreadful projects will recoil on your own head. Heaven will not permit
the continuance of such wickedness as you practise."

"I'll take my chance," replied Jonathan, with a sinister smile. "My
schemes have succeeded tolerably well hitherto."

"A day of retribution will assuredly arrive," rejoined Mrs. Sheppard.

"Till then, I shall remain content," returned Wild. "And now, Mrs.
Sheppard, attend to what I'm about to say to you. Years ago, when you
were a girl and in the bloom of your beauty, I loved you."

"Loved me! _You_!"

"I loved you," continued Jonathan, "and struck by your appearance, which
seemed above your station, inquired your history, and found you had been
stolen by a gipsy in Lancashire. I proceeded to Manchester, to
investigate the matter further, and when there ascertained, beyond a
doubt, that you were the eldest daughter of Sir Montacute Trenchard.
This discovery made, I hastened back to London to offer you my hand, but
found you had married in the mean time a smock-faced, smooth-tongued
carpenter named Sheppard. The important secret remained locked in my
breast, but I resolved to be avenged. I swore I would bring your husband
to the gallows,--would plunge you in such want, such distress, that you
should have no alternative but the last frightful resource of
misery,--and I also swore, that if you had a son he should share the
same fate as his father."

"And terribly you have kept your vow," replied Mrs. Sheppard.

"I have," replied Jonathan. "But I am now coming to the point which most
concerns you. Consent to become my wife, and do not compel me to have
recourse to violence to effect my purpose, and I will spare your son."

Mrs. Sheppard looked fixedly at him, as if she would penetrate the
gloomy depth of his soul.

"Swear that you will do this," she cried.

"I swear it," rejoined Jonathan, readily.

"But what is an oath to you!" cried the widow, distrustfully. "You will
not hesitate to break it, if it suits your purpose. I have suffered too
much from your treachery. I will not trust you."

"As you please," replied Jonathan, sternly. "Recollect you are in my
power. Jack's life hangs on your determination."

"What shall I do?" cried Mrs. Sheppard, in a voice of agony.

"Save him," replied Jonathan. "You _can_ do so."

"Bring him here,--let me see him--let me embrace him--let me be assured
that he is safe, and I am yours. I swear it."

"Hum!" exclaimed Jonathan.

"You hesitate--you are deceiving me."

"By my soul, no," replied Jonathan, with affected sincerity. "You shall
see him to-morrow."

"Delay the marriage till then. I will never consent till I see him."

"Yon ask impossibilities," replied Jonathan, sullenly. "All is prepared.
The marriage cannot--shall not be delayed. Yon must be mine to-night."

"Force shall not make me yours till Jack is free," replied the widow,
resolutely.

"An hour hence, I shall return with the priest," replied Jonathan,
striding towards the door.

And, with a glance of malignant exultation, he quitted the vault, and
locked the door.

"An hour hence, I shall be beyond your malice," said Mrs. Sheppard,
sinking backwards upon the pallet.




CHAPTER XXIII.

The last Meeting between Jack Sheppard and his Mother.


After escaping from the turner's house, Jack Sheppard skirted St.
Sepulchre's church, and hurrying down Snow Hill, darted into the first
turning on the left. Traversing Angel Court, and Green Arbour
Court,--celebrated as one of Goldsmith's retreats,--he speedily reached
Seacoal Lane, and pursuing the same course, which he and Thames had
formerly taken, arrived at the yard at the back of Jonathan's
habitation.

A door, it may be remembered, opened from Wild's dwelling into this
yard. Before he forced an entrance, Jack tried it, and, to his great
surprise and delight, found it unfastened. Entering the house, he found
himself in a narrow passage leading to the back stairs. He had not taken
many steps when he perceived Quilt Arnold in the upper gallery, with a
lamp in his hand. Hearing a noise below, Quilt called out, supposing it
occasioned by the Jew. Jack hastily retreated, and taking the first
means of concealment that occurred to him, descended the cellar steps.

Quilt, meanwhile, came down, examined the door, and finding it unfastened,
locked it with a bitter imprecation on his brother-janizary's carelessness.
This done, he followed the course which Jack had just taken. As he
crossed the cellar, he passed so near to Jack who had concealed himself
behind a piece of furniture that he almost touched him. It was Jack's
intention to have knocked him down with the iron bar; but he was so
struck with the janizary's looks, that he determined to spare him till
he had ascertained his purpose. With this view, he suffered him to pass
on.

Quilt's manner, indeed, was that of a man endeavouring to muster up
sufficient resolution for the commission of some desperate crime. He
halted,--looked fearfully around,--stopped again, and exclaimed aloud,
"I don't like the job; and yet it must be done, or Mr. Wild will hang
me." With this, he appeared to pluck up his courage, and stepped forward
more boldly.

"Some dreadful deed is about to be committed, which I may perhaps
prevent," muttered Jack to himself. "Heaven grant I may not be too
late!"

Followed by Jack Sheppard, who kept sufficiently near him to watch his
proceedings, and yet not expose himself, Quilt unlocked one or two doors
which he left open, and after winding his way along a gloomy passage,
arrived at the door of a vault. Here he set down the lamp, and took out
a key, and as he did so the expression of his countenance was so
atrocious, that Jack felt assured he was not wrong in his suspicions.

By this time, the door was unlocked, and drawing his sword, Quilt
entered the cell. The next moment, an exclamation was heard in the voice
of Thames. Darting forward at this sound, Jack threw open the door, and
beheld Quilt kneeling over Thames, who'se hands and feet were bound with
cords, and about to plunge his sword into his breast. A blow from the
iron bar instantly stretched the ruffian on the floor. Jack then
proceeded to liberate the captive from his bondage.

"Jack!" exclaimed Thames. "Is it you?"

"It is," replied Sheppard, as he untied the cords. "I might return the
question. Were it not for your voice, I don't think I should know you.
You are greatly altered."

Captivity had, indeed, produced a striking alteration in Thames. He
looked like the shadow of himself--thin, feeble, hollow-eyed--his beard
unshorn--nothing could be more miserable.

"I have never been out of this horrible dungeon since we last met," he
said; "though how long ago that is, I scarcely know. Night and day have
been alike to me."

"Six weeks have elapsed since that fatal night," replied Jack. "During
the whole of that time I have been a close prisoner in Newgate, whence I
have only just escaped."

"Six weeks!" exclaimed Thames, in a melancholy tone. "It seems like six
long months to me."

"I do not doubt it," returned Jack; "none but those who have experienced
it can understand the miseries of imprisonment."

"Do not speak of it," rejoined Thames, with a look of horror. "Let us
fly from this frightful place."

"I will conduct you to the outlet," replied Jack; "but I cannot leave it
till I have ascertained whether my mother also is a prisoner here."

"I can answer that," replied Thames. "She is. The monster, Wild, when he
visited my dungeon last night, told me, to add to my misery, that she
occupied a cell near me."

"Arm yourself with that ruffian's weapons," replied Jack, "and let us
search for her."

Thames complied. But he was so feeble, that it seemed scarcely possible
he could offer any effectual resistance in case of an attack.

"Lean on me," said Jack.

Taking the light, they then proceeded along the passage. There was no
other door in it, and Jack therefore struck into another entry which
branched off to the right. They had not proceeded far when a low moan
was heard.

"She is here," cried Jack, darting forward.

A few steps brought him to the door of the vault in which his mother was
immured. It was locked. Jack had brought away the bunch of keys which he
had taken from Quilt Arnold, but, none of them would open it. He was
therefore obliged to use the iron bar, which he did with as much caution
as circumstances would permit. At the first blow, Mrs. Sheppard uttered
a piercing scream.

"Wretch!" she cried, "you shall not force me to your hateful purpose. I
will never wed you. I have a weapon--a knife--and if you attempt to open
the door, will plunge it to my heart."

"Oh God!" exclaimed Jack, paralysed by her cries. "What shall I do? If I
persist, I shall destroy her."

"Get hence," continued Mrs. Sheppard, with a frenzied laugh. "You shall
never behold me alive."

"Mother!" cried Jack, in a broken voice. "It is your son."

"It is false," cried Mrs. Sheppard. "Think not to deceive me, monster. I
know my son's voice too well. He is in Newgate. Hence!"

"Mother! dear mother!" cried Jack, in a voice, the tones of which were
altered by his very anxiety to make them distinct, "listen to me. I have
broken from prison, and am come to save you."

"It is _not_ Jack's voice," rejoined Mrs. Sheppard. "I am not to be
deceived. The knife is at my breast. Stir a foot, and I strike."

"Oh Heavens!" cried Jack, driven to his wits' end. "Mother--dear mother!
Once again, I beseech you to listen to me. I am come to rescue you from
Wild's violence. I must break open the door. Hold your hand for a
moment."

"You have heard my fixed determination, villain," cried Mrs. Sheppard.
"I know my life is valuable to you, or you would not spare it. But I
will disappoint you. Get you gone. Your purposes are defeated."

"Footsteps are approaching," cried Thames. "Heed her not. It is but a
wild threat."

"I know not how to act," exclaimed Jack, almost driven to desperation.

"I hear you plotting with your wicked associates," cried Mrs. Sheppard.
"I have baffled you."

"Force the door," said Thames, "or you will be too late."

"Better she die by her own hand, than by that monster's," cried Jack,
brandishing the bar. "Mother, I come to you."

With this, he struck the door a heavy blow.

He listened. There was a deep groan, and the sound of a fall within.

"I have killed her," exclaimed Jack, dropping the bar,--"by your advice,
Thames. Oh God! pardon me."

"Do not delay," cried Thames. "She may yet be saved. I am too weak to
aid you."

Jack again seized the bar, and, dashing it furiously against the door,
speedily burst it open.

The unfortunate woman was stretched upon the floor, with a bloody knife
in her hand.

"Mother!" cried Jack, springing towards her.

"Jack!" she cried, raising her head. "Is it you?"

"It is," replied her son, "Oh! why would you not listen to me?"

"I was distracted," replied Mrs. Sheppard, faintly.

"I have killed you," cried Jack, endeavouring to staunch the effusion of
blood from her breast. "Forgive--forgive me!"

"I have nothing to forgive," replied Mrs. Sheppard. "I alone am to
blame."

"Can I not carry you where you can obtain help?" cried Jack in a agony
of distress.

"It is useless," replied Mrs. Sheppard: "nothing can save me. I die
happy--quite happy in beholding you. Do not remain with me. You may fall
into the hands of your enemy. Fly! fly!"

"Do not think of me, mother, but of yourself," cried Jack, in an agony
of tears.

"You have always been, far dearer to me than myself," replied Mrs.
Sheppard. "But I have one last request to make. Let me lie in Willesden
churchyard."

"You shall--you shall," answered Jack.

"We shall meet again ere long, my son," cried Mrs. Sheppard, fixing her
glazing eyes upon him.

"Oh God! she is dying," exclaimed Jack in a voice suffocated by emotion.
"Forgive me--oh, forgive me!"

"Forgive you--bless you!" she gasped.

A cold shiver ran through her frame, and her gentle spirit passed away
for ever.

"Oh, God! that I might die too," cried Jack, falling on his knees beside
her.

After the first violent outbreak of grief had in some degree subsided,
Thames addressed him.

"You must not remain here," he said. "You can render no further service
to your poor mother."

"I can avenge her," cried Jack in a terrible tone.

"Be ruled by me," returned Thames. "You will act most in accordance with
her wishes, could she dictate them, by compliance. Do not waste time in
vain regrets, but let us remove the body, that we may fulfil her last
injunctions."

After some further arguments, Jack assented to this proposal.

"Go on first with the light," he said. "I will bear the body." And he
raised it in his arms.

Just as they reached the end of the passage, they heard the voices of
Jonathan and the Jew in Thames's late place of confinement. Wild had
evidently discovered the body of Quilt Arnold, and was loudly expressing
his anger and astonishment.

"Extinguish the light," cried Jack; "turn to the left. Quick! Quick!"

The order was only just given in time. They had scarcely gained the
adjoining cellar when Jonathan and the Jew rushed past in the direction
of the vault.

"Not a moment is to be lost," cried Jack: "follow me."

So saying, he hurried up stairs, opened the back door, and was quickly
in the yard. Having ascertained that Thames was at his heels, he
hurried with his ghastly burthen down Seacoal Lane.

"Where are you going?" cried Thames, who, though wholly disencumbered,
was scarcely able to keep up with him.

"I know not--and care not," replied Jack.

At this moment, a coach passed them, and was instantly hailed by Thames.

"You had better let me convey her to Dollis Hill," he said.

"Be it so," replied Jack.

Luckily it was so dark, and there was no lamp near, that the man did not
notice the condition of the body, which was placed in the vehicle by the
two young men.

"What will you do?" asked Thames.

"Leave me to my fate," rejoined Jack. "Take care of your charge."

"Doubt me not," replied Thames.

"Bury her in Willesden churchyard, as she requested, on Sunday," said
Jack. "I will be there at the time."

So saying, he closed the door.

The coachman having received his order, and being offered an extra fare
if he drove quickly, set off at full speed.

As Jack departed, a dark figure, emerging from behind a wall, rushed
after him.




CHAPTER XXIV.

The Pursuit.


After running to some distance down Seacoal Lane, Jack stopped to give a
last look at the vehicle which was bearing away the remains of his
beloved and ill-fated mother. It was scarcely out of sight, when two
persons, whom, he instantly recognised as Jonathan and Abraham Mendez,
turned the corner of the street, and made it evident from their shouts,
that they likewise perceived him.

Starting off at a rapid pace, Jack dashed down Turnagain-lane, skirted
the eastern bank of Fleet-ditch, crossed Holborn Bridge, and began to
ascend the neighbouring hill. By the time he had reached St. Andrew's
Church, his pursuers had gained the bridge, and the attention of such
passengers as crowded the streets was attracted towards him by their
vociferations. Amongst others, the watchman whose box was placed against
the churchyard wall, near the entrance to Shoe-lane, rushed out and
sprung his rattle, which was immediately answered by another rattle from
Holborn-bars.

Darting down Field-lane, Jack struck into a labyrinth of streets on the
left; but though he ran as swiftly as he could, he was not unperceived.
His course had been observed by the watchman, who directed Wild which
way to take.

"It is Jack Sheppard, the noted housebreaker," cried Jonathan, at the
top of his sonorous voice. "He has just broken out of Newgate. After
him! A hundred pounds to the man who takes him."

Sheppard's name operated like magic on the crowd. The cry was echoed by
twenty different voices. People ran out of their shops to join the
pursuit; and, by the time Wild had got into Field-lane, he had a troop
of fifty persons at his heels--all eager to assist in the capture.

"Stop thief!" roared Jonathan, who perceived the fugitive hurrying along
a street towards Hatton Garden. "It is Sheppard--Jack Sheppard--stop
him!" And his shouts were reiterated by the pack of bloodhounds at his
heels.

Jack, meanwhile, heard, the shouts, and, though alarmed by them, held on
a steady course. By various twistings and turnings, during all which
time his pursuers, who were greatly increased in numbers, kept him in
view, he reached Gray's-Inn-lane. Here he was hotly pursued. Fatigued by
his previous exertions, and incumbered by his fetters, he was by no
means--though ordinarily remarkably swift of foot--a match for his foes,
who were fast gaining upon him.

At the corner of Liquorpond Street stood the old Hampstead
coach-office; and, on the night in question, a knot of hostlers,
waggoners, drivers, and stable-boys was collected in the yard. Hearing
the distant shouts, these fellows rushed down to the entrance of the
court, and arrived there just as Jack passed it. "Stop thief!" roared
Jonathan. "Stop thief!" clamoured the rabble behind.

At no loss to comprehend that Jack was the individual pointed out by
these outcries, two of the nearest of the group made a dash at him. But
Jack eluded their grasp. A large dog was then set at him by a
stable-boy; but, striking the animal with his faithful iron-bar, he
speedily sent him yelping back. The two hostlers, however, kept close at
his heels; and Jack, whose strength began to flag, feared he could not
hold much longer. Determined, however, not be taken with life, he held
on.

Still keeping ahead of his pursuers, he ran along the direct road, till
the houses disappeared and he got into the open country. Here he was
preparing to leap over the hedge into the fields on the left, when he
was intercepted by two horsemen, who, hearing the shouts, rode up and
struck at him with the butt-ends of their heavy riding-whips. Warding
off the blows as well as he could with the bar, Jack struck both the
horses on the head, and the animals plunged so violently, that they not
only prevented their riders from assailing him, but also kept off the
hostlers; and, in the confusion that ensued, Jack managed to spring over
the fence, and shaped his course across the field in the direction of
Sir John Oldcastle's.

The stoppage had materially lessened the distance between him and his
pursuers, who now amounted to more than a hundred persons, many of whom
carried lanterns and links. Ascertaining that it was Sheppard of whom
this concourse was in pursuit, the two horsemen leapt the hedge, and
were presently close upon him. Like a hare closely pressed, Jack
attempted to double, but the device only brought him nearer his foes,
who were crossing the field in every direction, and rending the air with
their shouts. The uproar was tremendous--men yelling--dogs barking,--but
above all was heard the stentorian voice of Jonathan, urging them on.
Jack was so harrassed that he felt half inclined to stand at bay.

While he was straining every sinew, his foot slipped, and he fell, head
foremost, into a deep trench, which he had not observed in the dark.
This fall saved him, for the horsemen passed over him. Creeping along
quickly on his hands and knees, he found the entrance to a covered
drain, into which he crept. He was scarcely concealed when he heard the
horsemen, who perceived they had overshot their mark, ride back.

By this time, Jonathan and the vast mob attending him, had come up, and
the place was rendered almost as light as day by the links.

"He must be somewhere hereabouts," cried one of the horsemen,
dismounting. "We were close upon him when he suddenly disappeared."

Jonathan made no answer, but snatching a torch from a bystander, jumped
into the trench and commenced a diligent search. Just as he had arrived
at the mouth of the drain, and Jack felt certain he must be discovered,
a loud shout was raised from the further end of the field that the
fugitive was caught. All the assemblage, accompanied by Jonathan, set
off in this direction, when it turned out that the supposed housebreaker
was a harmless beggar, who had been found asleep under a hedge.

Jonathan's vexation at the disappointment was expressed in the bitterest
imprecations, and he returned as speedily as he could to the trench. But
he had now lost the precise spot; and thinking he had examined the
drain, turned his attention to another quarter.

Meanwhile, the excitement of the chase had in some degree subsided. The
crowd dispersed in different directions, and most fortunately a heavy
shower coming on, put them altogether to flight. Jonathan, however,
still lingered. He seemed wholly insensible to the rain, though it
presently descended in torrents, and continued his search as ardently as
before.

After occupying himself thus for the best part of an hour, he thought
Jack must have given him the slip. Still, his suspicions were so strong,
that he ordered Mendez to remain on guard near the spot all night, and,
by the promise of a large reward induced two other men to keep him
company.

As he took his departure, he whispered to the Jew: "Take him dead or
alive; but if we fail now, and you heard him aright in Seacoal Lane, we
are sure of him at his mother's funeral on Sunday."




CHAPTER XXV.

How Jack Sheppard got rid of his Irons.


About an hour after this, Jack ventured to emerge from his place of
concealment. It was still raining heavily, and profoundly dark. Drenched
to the skin,--in fact, he had been lying in a bed of muddy water,--and
chilled to the very bone, he felt so stiff, that he could scarcely move.

Listening attentively, he fancied he heard the breathing of some one
near him, and moved cautiously in the opposite direction. In spite of
his care, he came in contact with a man, who, endeavouring to grasp him,
cried, in the voice of Mendez, "Who goes dere? Shpeak! or I fire!"

No answer being returned, the Jew instantly discharged his pistol, and
though the shot did no damage, the flash discovered Sheppard. But as the
next moment all was profound darkness, Jack easily managed to break away
from them.

Without an idea where he was going, Jack pursued his way through the
fields; and, as he proceeded, the numbness of his limbs in some degree
wore off, and his confidence returned. He had need of all the
inexhaustible energy of his character to support him through his
toilsome walk over the wet grass, or along the slippery ploughed land.
At last, he got into a lane, but had not proceeded far when he was again
alarmed by the sound of a horse's tread.

Once more breaking through the hedge he took to the fields. He was now
almost driven to despair. Wet as he was, he felt if he lay down in the
grass, he should perish with cold; while, if he sought a night's lodging
in any asylum, his dress, stained with blood and covered with dirt,
would infallibly cause him to be secured and delivered into the hands of
justice. And then the fetters, which were still upon his legs:--how was
he to get rid of them?

Tired and dispirited, he still wandered on. Again returning to the main
road, he passed through Clapton; and turning off on the left, arrived at
the foot of Stamford Hill. He walked on for an hour longer, till he
could scarcely drag one leg after another. At length, he fell down on
the road, fully expecting each moment would prove his last.

How long he continued thus he scarcely knew; but just before dawn, he
managed to regain his legs, and, crawling up a bank, perceived he was
within a quarter of a mile of Tottenham. A short way off in the fields
he descried a sort of shed or cow-house, and thither he contrived to
drag his weary limbs. Opening the door, he found it littered with straw,
on which he threw himself, and instantly fell asleep.

When he awoke it was late in the day, and raining heavily. For some time
he could not stir, but felt sick and exhausted. His legs were dreadfully
swelled; his hands bruised; and his fetters occasioned him intolerable
pain. His bodily suffering, however, was nothing compared with his
mental anguish. All the events of the previous day rushed to his
recollection; and though he had been unintentionally the cause of his
mother's death, he reproached himself as severely as if he had been her
actual murderer.

"Had I not been the guilty wretch I am," he cried, bursting into an
agony of tears, "she would never have died thus."

This strong feeling of remorse having found a natural vent, in some
degree subsided, and he addressed himself to his present situation.
Rousing himself, he went to the door. It had ceased raining, but the
atmosphere was moist and chill, and the ground deluged by the recent
showers. Taking up a couple of large stones which lay near, Jack tried
to beat the round basils of the fetters into an oval form, so as to
enable him to slip his heels through them.

While he was thus employed a farming man came into the barn. Jack
instantly started to his feet, and the man, alarmed at his appearance,
ran off to a neighbouring house. Before he could return, Jack had made
good his retreat; and, wandering about the lanes and hedges, kept out of
sight as much as possible.

On examining his pockets, he found about twenty guineas in gold, and
some silver. But how to avail himself of it was the question, for in his
present garb he was sure to be recognised. When night fell, he crept
into the town of Tottenham. As he passed along the main thoroughfare, he
heard his own name pronounced, and found that it was a hawker, crying a
penny history of his escapes. A crowd was collected round the fellow,
who was rapidly disposing of his stock.

"Here's the full, true, and particular account of Jack Sheppard's last
astonishing and never-to-be-forgotten escape from the Castle of
Newgate," bawled the hawker, "with a print of him taken from the life,
showing the manner, how he was shackled and handcuffed. Only one
penny--two copies--two pence--thank you, Sir. Here's the----"

"Let me have one," cried a servant maid, running across the street, and
in her haste forgetting to shut the door,--"here's the money. Master and
missis have been talking all day long about Jack Sheppard, and I'm dying
to read his life."

"Here you have it, my dear," returned the hawker. "Sold again!"

"If you don't get back quickly, Lucy," observed a bystander, "Jack
Sheppard will be in the house before you."

This sally occasioned a general laugh.

"If Jack would come to my house, I'd contrive to hide him," remarked a
buxom dame. "Poor fellow! I'm glad he has escaped."

"Jack seems to be a great favourite with the fair sex," observed a
smirking grocer's apprentice.

"Of course," rejoined the bystander, who had just spoken, and who was of
a cynical turn,--"the greater the rascal, the better they like him."

"Here's a particular account of Jack's many robberies and escapes,"
roared the hawker,--"how he broke into the house of his master, Mr.
Wood, at Dollis Hill--"

"Let me have one," said a carpenter, who was passing by at the
moment,--"Mr. Wood was an old friend of mine--and I recollect seeing
Jack when he was bound 'prentice to him."

"A penny, if you please, Sir," said the hawker.--"Sold again! Here you
have the full, true, and particular account of the barbarous murder
committed by Jack Sheppard and his associate, Joseph Blake, _alias_
Blueskin, upon the body of Mrs. Wood--"

"That's false!" cried a voice behind him.

The man turned at the exclamation, and so did several of the bystanders;
but they could not make out who had uttered it.

Jack, who had been lingering near the group, now walked on.

In the middle of the little town stood the shop of a Jew dealer in old
clothes. The owner was at the door unhooking a few articles of wearing
apparel which he had exposed outside for sale. Amongst other things, he
had just brought down an old laced bavaroy, a species of surtout much
worn at the period.

"What do you want fot that coat, friend?" asked Jack, as he came up.

"More than you'll pay for it, friend," snuffled the Jew.

"How do you know that?" rejoined Jack. "Will you take a guinea for it?"

"Double that sum might tempt me," replied the Jew; "it's a nobleman's
coat, upon my shoul!"

"Here's the money," replied Jack, taking the coat.

"Shall I help you on with it, Sir?" replied the Jew, becoming suddenly
respectful.

"No," replied Jack.

"I half suspect this is a highwayman," thought the Jew; "he's so ready
with his cash. I've some other things inside, Sir, which you might wish
to buy,--some pistols."

Jack was about to comply; but not liking the man's manner, he walked on.

Further on, there was a small chandler's shop, where Jack observed an
old woman seated at the counter, attended by a little girl. Seeing
provisions in the window, Jack ventured in and bought a loaf. Having
secured this,--for he was almost famished,--he said that he had lost a
hammer and wished to purchase one. The old woman told him she had no
such article to dispose of, but recommended him to a neighbouring
blacksmith.

Guided by the glare of the forge, which threw a stream of ruddy light
across the road, Jack soon found the place of which he was in search.
Entering the workshop, he found the blacksmith occupied in heating the
tire of a cart wheel. Suspending his labour on Jack's appearance, the
man demanded his business. Making up a similar story to that which he
had told the old woman, he said he wanted to purchase a hammer and a
file.

The man looked hard at him.

"Answer me one question first?" he said; "I half suspect you're Jack
Sheppard."

"I am," replied Jack, without hesitation; for he felt assured from the
man's manner that he might confide in him.

"You're a bold fellow, Jack," rejoined the blacksmith. "But you've done
well to trust me. I'll take off your irons--for I guess that's the
reason why you want the hammer and file--on one condition."

"What is it?"

"That you give 'em to me."

"Readily."

Taking Jack into a shed behind the workshop the smith in a short time
freed him from his fetters. He not only did this, but supplied him with
an ointment which allayed the swelling of his limbs, and crowned all by
furnishing him with a jug of excellent ale.

"I'm afraid, Jack, you'll come to the gallows," observed the smith;
"buth if you do, I'll go to Tyburn to see you. But I'll never part with
your irons."

Noticing the draggled condition Jack was in, he then fetched him a
bucket of water, with which Jack cleansed himself as well as he could,
and thanking the honest smith, who would take nothing for his trouble,
left the shop.

Having made a tolerably good meal upon the loaf, overcome by fatigue,
Jack turned into a barn in Stoke Newington, and slept till late in the
day, when he awakened much refreshed. The swelling in his limbs had also
subsided. It rained heavily all day, so he did not stir forth.

Towards night, however, he ventured out, and walked on towards London.
When he arrived at Hoxton, he found the walls covered with placards
offering a reward for his apprehension, and he everywhere appeared to be
the general subject of conversation. Prom a knot of idlers at a
public-house, he learnt that Jonathan Wild had just ridden past, and
that his setters were scouring the country in every direction.

Entering London, he bent his way towards the west-end; and having some
knowledge of a secondhand tailor's shop in Rupert Street, proceeded
thither, and looked out a handsome suit of mourning, with a sword,
cloak, and hat, and demanded the price. The man asked twelve guineas,
but after a little bargaining, he came down to ten.

Taking his new purchase under his arm, Jack proceeded to a small tavern
in the same street, where, having ordered dinner, he went to a bed-room
to attire himself. He had scarcely completed his toilet, when he was
startled by a noise at the door, and heard his own name pronounced in no
friendly accents. Fortunately, the window was not far from the ground;
so opening it gently, he dropped into a backyard, and from thence got
into the street.

Hurrying down the Haymarket, he was arrested by a crowd who were
collected round a street-singer. Jack paused for a moment, and found
that his own adventures formed the subject of the ballad. Not daring,
however, to listen to it, he ran on.




CHAPTER XXVI.

How Jack Sheppard attended his Mother's Funeral.


That night Jack walked to Paddington, and took up his quarters at a
small tavern, called the Wheat-sheaf, near the green. On the next
morning--Sunday--the day on which he expected his mother's funeral to
take place, he set out along the Harrow Road.

It was a clear, lovely, October morning. The air was sharp and bracing,
and the leaves which had taken their autumnal tints were falling from
the trees. The road which wound by Westbourne Green, gave him a full
view of the hill of Hampstead with its church, its crest of houses, and
its villas peeping from out the trees.

Jack's heart was too full to allow him to derive any pleasure from this
scene; so he strolled on without raising his eyes till he arrived at
Kensal Green. Here he obtained some breakfast, and mounting the hill
turned off into the fields on the right. Crossing them, he ascended an
eminence, which, from its singular shape, seems to have been the site of
a Roman encampment, and which commands a magnificent prospect.

Leaning upon a gate he looked down into the valley. It was the very spot
from which his poor mother had gazed after her vain attempt to rescue
him at the Mint; but, though he was ignorant of this, her image was
alone present to him. He beheld the grey tower of Willesden Church,
embosomed in its grove of trees, now clothed, in all the glowing livery
of autumn. There was the cottage she had inhabited for so many
years,--in those fields she had rambled,--at that church she had prayed.
And he had destroyed all this. But for him she might have been alive and
happy. The recollection was too painful, and he burst into an agony of
tears.

Aroused by the sound of the church bells, he resolved, at whatever risk,
to attend Divine service. With this view, he descended the hill and
presently found a footpath leading to the church. But he was destined to
have every tide of feeling awakened--every wound opened. The path he had
selected conducted him to his mother's humble dwelling. When she
occupied, it, it was neatness itself; the little porch was overrun with
creepers--the garden trim and exquisitely kept. Now, it was a wilderness
of weeds. The glass in the windows was broken--the roof unthatched--the
walls dilapidated. Jack turned away with an aching heart. It seemed an
emblem of the ruin he had caused.

As he proceeded, other painful reminiscences were aroused. At every step
he seemed to be haunted by the ghost of the past. There was the stile on
which Jonathan had sat, and he recollected distinctly the effect of his
mocking glance--how it had hardened his heart against his mother's
prayer. "O God!" he exclaimed, "I am severely punished."

He had now gained the high road. The villagers were thronging to church.
Bounding the corner of a garden wall, he came upon his former place of
imprisonment. Some rustic hand had written upon the door "JACK
SHEPPARD'S CAGE;" and upon the wall was affixed a large placard
describing his person, and offering a reward for his capture. Muffling
up his face, Jack turned away; but he had not proceeded many steps when
he heard a man reading aloud an account of his escapes from a newspaper.

Hastening to the church, he entered it by the very door near which his
first crime had been committed. His mother's scream seemed again to ring
in his ears, and he was so deeply affected that, fearful of exciting
attention, he was about to quit the sacred edifice, when he was stopped
by the entrance of Thames, who looked pale as death, with Winifred
leaning on his arm. They were followed by Mr. Wood in the deepest
mourning.

Shrinking involuntarily back into the farthest corner of the seat, Jack
buried his face in his hands. The service began. Jack who had not been
in a place of worship for many years was powerfully affected.
Accidentally raising his eyes, he saw that he was perceived by the
family from Dollis Hill, and that he was an object of the deepest
interest to them.

As soon as the service was over, Thames contrived to approach him, and
whispered, "Be cautious,--the funeral will take place after evening
service."

Jack would not hazard a glance at Winifred; but, quitting the church,
got into an adjoining meadow, and watched the party slowly ascending the
road leading to Dollis Hill. At a turn in the road, he perceived
Winifred looking anxiously towards him, and when she discovered him, she
waved her hand.

Returning to the churchyard, he walked round it; and on the western
side, near a small yew-tree discovered a new-made grave.

"Whose grave is this?" he inquired of a man who was standing near it.

"I can't say," answered the fellow; "but I'll inquire from the sexton,
William Morgan. Here, Peter," he added to a curly-headed lad, who was
playing on one of the grassy tombs, "ask your father to step this way."

The little urchin set off, and presently returned with the sexton.

"It's Mrs. Sheppard's grave,--the mother of the famous housebreaker,"
said Morgan, in answer to Jack's inquiry;--"and it's well they let her
have Christian burial after all--for they say she destroyed herself for
her son. The crowner's 'quest sat on her yesterday--and if she hadn't
been proved out of her mind, she would have been buried at four
lane-ends."

Jack could stand no more. Placing a piece of money in Morgan's hands, he
hurried out of the churchyard.

"By my soul," said the sexton, "that's as like Jack Sheppard as any one
I ever seed i' my born days."

Hastening to the Six Bells, Jack ordered some refreshment, and engaged a
private room, where he remained till the afternoon absorbed in grief.

Meantime, a change had taken place in the weather. The day had become
suddenly overcast. The wind blew in fitful gusts, and scattered the
yellow leaves from the elms and horse-chestnuts. Roused by the bell
tolling for evening service, Jack left the house. On reaching the
churchyard, he perceived the melancholy procession descending the hill.
Just then, a carriage drawn by four horses, drove furiously up to the
Six Bells; but Jack was too much absorbed to take any notice of it.

At this moment, the bell began to toll in a peculiar manner, announcing
the approach of the corpse. The gate was opened; the coffin brought into
the churchyard; and Jack, whose eyes were filled with tears, saw Mr.
Wood and Thames pass him, and followed at a foot's pace behind them.

Meanwhile, the clergyman, bare-headed and in his surplice, advanced to
meet them. Having read the three first verses of the impressive service
appointed for the burial of the dead, he returned to the church, whither
the coffin was carried through the south-western door, and placed in the
centre of the aisle--Mr. Wood and Thames taking their places on either
side of it, and Jack at a little distance behind.

Jack had been touched in the morning, but he was now completely
prostrated. In the midst of the holy place, which he had formerly
profaned, lay the body of his unfortunate mother, and he could not help
looking upon her untimely end as the retributive vengeance of Heaven for
the crime he had committed. His grief was so audible, that it attracted
the notice of some of the bystanders, and Thames was obliged to beg him
to control it. In doing this, he chanced to raise his eyes and half
fancied he beheld, shaded by a pillar at the extremity of the western
aisle, the horrible countenance of the thief-taker.

Before the congregation separated, the clergyman descended from the
pulpit; and, followed by the coffin-bearers and mourners, and by Jack at
a respectful distance, entered the churchyard.

The carriage, which it has been mentioned drove up to the Six Bells,
contained four persons,--Jonathan Wild, his two janizaries, and his
porter, Obadiah Lemon. As soon as they had got out, the vehicle was
drawn up at the back of a tree near the cage. Having watched the funeral
at some distance, Jonathan fancied he could discern the figure of Jack;
but not being quite sure, he entered the church. He was daring enough to
have seized and carried him off before the whole congregation, but he
preferred waiting.

Satisfied with his scrutiny, he returned, despatched Abraham and Obadiah
to the northwest corner of the church, placed Quilt behind a buttress
near the porch, and sheltered himself behind one of the mighty elms.

The funeral procession had now approached the grave, around which many
of the congregation, who were deeply interested by the sad ceremonial,
had gathered. A slight rain fell at the time; and a few leaves, caught
by the eddies, whirled around. Jonathan mixed with the group, and, sure
of his prey, abided his time.

The clergyman, meanwhile, proceeded with the service, while the coffin
was deposited at the brink of the grave.

Just as the attendants were preparing to lower the corpse into the
earth, Jack fell on his knees beside the coffin, uttering the wildest
exclamations of grief, reproaching himself with the murder of his
mother, and invoking the vengeance of Heaven on his own head.

A murmur ran through the assemblage, by several of whom Jack was
recognised. But such was the violence of his grief,--such the
compunction he exhibited, that all but one looked on with an eye of
compassion. That person advanced towards him.

"I have killed her," cried Jack.

"You have," rejoined Jonathan, laying a forcible grasp on his shoulder.
"You are my prisoner."

Jack started to his feet; but before he could defend himself, his right
arm was grasped by the Jew who had silently approached him.

"Hell-hounds!" he cried; "release me!"

At the same moment, Quilt Arnold rushed forward with such haste, that,
stumbling over William Morgan, he precipitated him into the grave.

"Wretch!" cried Jack. "Are you not content with the crimes you have
committed,--but you must carry your villany to this point. Look at the
poor victim at your feet."

Jonathan made no reply, but ordered his myrmidons to drag the prisoner
along.

Thames, meanwhile, had drawn his sword, and was about to rush upon
Jonathan; but he was withheld by Wood.

"Do not shed more blood," cried the carpenter.

Groans and hoots were now raised by the crowd, and there was an evident
disposition to rescue. A small brickbat was thrown, which struck
Jonathan in the face.

"You shall not pass," cried several of the crowd.

"I knew his poor mother, and for her sake I'll not see this done," cried
John Dump.

"Slip on the handcuffs," cried the thief-taker. "And now let's see
who'll dare to oppose me. I am Jonathan Wild. I have arrested him in the
King's name."

A deep indignant groan followed.

"Let me see the earth thrown over her," implored Jack; "and take me
where you please."

"No," thundered Wild.

"Allow him that small grace," cried Wood.

"No, I tell you," rejoined Jonathan, shouldering his way out of the
crowd.

"My mother,--my poor mother!" exclaimed Jack.

But, in spite of his outcries and resistance, he was dragged along by
Jonathan and his janizaries.

At the eastern gate of the churchyard stood the carriage with the steps
lowered. The mob pursued the thief-taker and his party all the way, and
such missiles as could be collected were hurled at them. They even
threatened to cut the traces and take off the wheels from the carriage.
The Jew got in first. The prisoner was then thrust in by Quilt. Before
Jonathan followed he turned to face his assailants.

"Back!" he cried fiercely. "I am an officer in the execution of my duty.
And he who opposes me in it shall feel the weight of my hand."

He then sprung into the coach, the door of which was closed by Obadiah,
who mounted the box.

"To Newgate," cried Jonathan, putting his head out of the window.

A deep roar followed this order, and several missiles were launched at
the vehicle, which was driven off at a furious pace.

And while her son was reconveyed to prison the body of the unfortunate
Mrs. Sheppard was committed to the earth.




CHAPTER XXVII.

How Jack Sheppard was brought back to Newgate.


Jack Sheppard's escape from Newgate on the night of the 15th of October
was not discovered till the following morning; for although the
intelligence was brought by several parties to the Lodge in the course
of the night, Austin, who was the officer in attendance, paid no
attention to them.

After pursuing the fugitive as before related, Jonathan Wild returned to
his own habitation, where he was occupied during the remainder of the
night with Quilt Arnold and Obadiah Lemon in removing everything which,
in case of a search, might tend to criminate him. Satisfied in this
respect, he flung himself into a chair, for his iron frame seldom
required the indulgence of a bed, and sought an hour's repose before he
began the villanies of another day.

He was aroused from his slumber, about six o'clock, by the return of
Abraham Mendez, who not choosing to confess that Jack had eluded his
vigilance, contended himself with stating that he had kept watch till
daybreak, when he had carefully searched the field, and, finding no
trace of him, had thought it better to return.

This information was received by Jonathan with a lowering brow. He
comforted himself, however, with the certainty which he felt of
capturing his prey on the Sunday. His breakfast despatched, which he ate
with a wolfish appetite, he walked over to Newgate, chuckling as he went
at the consternation which his appearance would create amongst the
turnkeys.

Entering the Lodge, the first person he beheld was Austin, who was only
just up, and whose toilette appeared scarcely completed. A glance
satisfied Jonathan that the turnkey was not aware of the prisoner's
escape; and he resolved not to destroy what he considered a good jest,
by a premature disclosure of it.

"You are out betimes this morning, Mr. Wild," observed Austin, as he put
on his coat, and adjusted his minor bob. "Something fresh on hand, I
suppose?"

"I'm come to inquire after Jack Sheppard," returned Jonathan.

"Don't alarm yourself about him, Sir," replied Austin. "He's safe
enough, I assure you."

"I should like to satisfy myself on that score," rejoined Wild, drily.

"So you shall, Sir," replied Austin, who at this moment recollected,
with some uneasiness, the applications at the lodge-door during the
night. "I hope you don't imagine anything has gone wrong, Sir."

"It matters not what I think," replied Wild. "Come with me to the
Castle."

"Instantly, Sir," replied Austin; "instantly. Here, Caliban, attend to
the door, and keep the wicket locked till I return. D'ye hear. Now,
Sir."

Taking the keys, he led the way, followed by Jonathan, who chuckled
internally at the shock that awaited the poor fellow.

The door was opened, and Austin entered the cell, when he absolutely
recoiled before the spectacle he beheld, and could scarcely have looked
more alarmed if the prison had tumbled about his ears. Petrified and
speechless, he turned an imploring look at Wild, who was himself filled
with astonishment at the pile of rubbish lying before him.

"'Sdeath!" cried Jonathan, staring at the breach in the wall. "Some one
_must_ have assisted him. Unless he has dealings with the devil, he
could never have done this alone."

"I firmly believe he _has_ dealings with the devil," replied Austin,
trembling from head to foot. "But, perhaps, he has not got beyond the
room above. It's as strong, if not stronger, than this. I'll see."

So saying, he scrambled over the rubbish, and got into the chimney. But
though the breach was large enough to admit him below, he could not
squeeze his bulky person through the aperture into the Red Room.

"I believe he's gone," he said, returning to Jonathan. "The door's open,
and the room empty."

"You believe--you _know_ it," replied Jonathan, fixing one of his
sternest and most searching glances upon him. "Nothing you can say to
the contrary will convince me that you have not been accessory to his
flight."

"I, Sir!--I swear----"

"Tush!" interrupted Jonathan, harshly. "I shall state my suspicions to
the governor. Come down with me to the Lodge directly. All further
examinations must be conducted in the presence of proper witnesses."

With these words, he strode out of the room, darted down the stone
stairs, and, on his arrival at the Lodge, seized the rope of the great
bell communicating with the interior of the prison, which he rang
violently. As this was never done, except in some case of great
emergency, the application was instantly answered by all the other
turnkeys, by Marvel, the four partners, and Mrs. Spurling. Nothing could
exceed the dismay of these personages when they learnt why they had
been summoned. All seemed infected with Austin's terrors except Mrs.
Spurling, who did not dare to exhibit her satisfaction otherwise than by
privately pinching the arm of her expected husband.

Headed by Jonathan, all the turnkeys then repaired to the upper part of
the jail, and, approaching the Red Room by a circuitous route, several
doors were unlocked, and they came upon the scene of Jack's exploits.
Stopping before each door, they took up the plates of the locks,
examined the ponderous bolts, and were struck with the utmost
astonishment at what they beheld.

Arriving at the chapel, their wonder increased. All the jailers declared
it utterly impossible he could have accomplished his astonishing task
unaided; but who had lent him assistance was a question they were unable
to answer. Proceeding to the entry to the Lower Leads, they came to the
two strong doors, and their surprise was so great at Jack's marvellous
performance, that they could scarcely persuade themselves that human
ingenuity could have accomplished it.

"Here's a door," remarked Ireton, when he got to that nearest the leads,
"which I could have sworn would have resisted anything. I shall have no
faith in future in bolts and bars."

Mounting the roof of the prison, they traced the fugitive's course to
the further extremity of the building, where they found his blanket
attached to the spike proving that he escaped in that direction.

After severely examining Austin, and finding it proved, on the testimony
of his fellow-jailers, that he could not have aided Jack in his flight,
Jonathan retracted his harsh sentence, and even went so far as to say
that he would act as mediator between him and the governor.

This was some satisfaction to the poor fellow, who was dreadfully
frightened, as indeed he might well be, it being the opinion of the
jailers and others who afterwards examined the place, that Jack had
accomplished, single-handed, in a few hours, and, as far as it could be
ascertained, with imperfect implements, what it would have taken half a
dozen men several days, provided with proper tools, to effect. In their
opinion a hundred pounds would not repair the damage done to the prison.

As soon as Jack's escape became known, thousands of persons flocked to
Newgate to behold his workmanship; and the jailers reaped am abundant
harvest from their curiosity.

Jonathan, meanwhile, maintained profound secrecy as to his hopes of
capturing the fugitive; and when Jack was brought back to Newgate on the
Sunday evening, his arrival was wholly unexpected.

At a little after five, on that day, four horses dashed round the corner
of the Old Bailey, and drew up before the door of the Lodge. Hearing the
stoppage, Austin rushed out, and could scarcely believe his eyes when he
beheld Jack Sheppard in the custody of Quilt Arnold and Abraham Mendez.

Jack's recapture was speedily made known to all the officers of the
jail, and the Lodge was instantly crowded. The delight of the turnkeys
was beyond all bounds; but poor Mrs. Spurling was in a state of
distraction and began to abuse Jonathan so violently that her future
husband was obliged to lay forcible hands upon her and drag her away.

By Wild's command the prisoner was taken to the Condemned Hold, whither
he was followed by the whole posse of officers and by the partners; two
of whom carried large hammers and two the fetters. There was only one
prisoner in the ward. He was chained to the ground, but started up at
their approach. It was Blueskin. When he beheld Jack he uttered a deep
groan.

"Captain," he cried, in a voice of the bitterest anguish, "have these
dogs again hunted you down? If you hadn't been so unlucky, I should have
been with you before to-morrow night."

Jack made no answer, nor did he even cast his eyes upon his follower.
But Jonathan, fixing a terrible look upon him, cried.

"Ha! say you so? You must be looked to. My lads," he continued,
addressing the partners; "when you've finished this job give that
fellow a fresh set of darbies. I suspect he has been at work upon those
he has on."

"The link of the chain next the staple is sawn through," said Ireton,
stooping to examine Blueskin's fetters.

"Search him and iron him afresh;" commanded Jonathan. "But first let us
secure Sheppard. We'll then remove them both to the Middle Stone Hold,
where a watch shall be kept over them night and day till they're taken
to Tyburn. As they're so fond of each other's society they shan't part
company even on that occasion, but shall swing from the same tree."

"You'll never live to see that day," cried Blueskin, fixing a menacing
look upon him.

"What weight are these irons?" asked Jonathan, coolly addressing one of
the partners.

"More than three hundred weight, Sir," replied the man. "They're the
heaviest set we have,--and were forged expressly for Captain Sheppard."

"They're not half heavy enough," replied Wild. "Let him be handcuffed,
and doubly ironed on both legs; and when we get him into the Stone Ward,
he shall not only be chained down to the ground, but shall have two
additional fetters running through the main links, fastened on each side
of him. We'll see whether he'll get rid of his new bonds?" he added with
a brutal laugh, which was echoed by the bystanders.

"Mark me," said Jack, sternly; "I have twice broken out of this prison
in spite of all your precautions. And were you to load me with thrice
the weight of iron you have ordered you should not prevent my escaping a
third time."

"That's right, Captain," cried Blueskin. "We'll give them the slip yet,
and hang that butcherly thief-taker upon his own gibbet."

"Be silent dog," cried Jonathan. And with his clenched hand he struck
him a violent blow in the face.

For the first time, perhaps, in his life, he repented of his brutality.
The blow was scarcely dealt, when, with a bound like that of a tiger,
Blueskin sprang upon him. The chain, which had been partially cut
through, snapped near the staple. Before any assistance could be
rendered by the jailers, who stood astounded, Blueskin had got Wild in
his clutches. His strength has been described as prodigious; but now,
heightened by his desire for vengeance, it was irresistible. Jonathan,
though a very powerful man, was like an infant in his gripe. Catching
hold of his chin, he bent back the neck, while with his left hand he
pulled out a clasp knife, which he opened with his teeth, and grasping
Wild's head with his arm, notwithstanding his resistance, cut deeply
into his throat. The folds of a thick muslin neckcloth in some degree
protected him, but the gash was desperate. Blueskin drew the knife
across his throat a second time, widening and deepening the wound; and
wrenching back the head to get it into a more favourable position, would
infallibly have severed it from the trunk, if the officers, who by this
time had recovered from their terror, had not thrown themselves upon
him, and withheld him.

"Now's your time," cried Blueskin, struggling desperately with his
assailants and inflicting severe cuts with his knife. "Fly,
Captain--fly!"

Aroused to a sense of the possibility of escape, Jack, who had viewed
the deadly assault with savage satisfaction, burst from his captors and
made for the door. Blueskin fought his way towards it, and exerting all
his strength, cutting right and left as he proceeded, reached it at the
same time. Jack in all probability, would have escaped, if Langley, who
was left in the Lodge, had not been alarmed at the noise and rushed
thither. Seeing Jack at liberty, he instantly seized him, and a struggle
commenced.

At this moment, Blueskin came up, and kept off the officers with his
knife. He used his utmost efforts to liberate Jack from Langley, but
closely pressed on all sides, he was not able to render any effectual
assistance.

"Fly!" cried Jack; "escape if you can; don't mind me."

Casting one look of anguish at his leader, Blueskin then darted down
the passage.

The only persons in the Lodge were Mrs. Spurling and Marvel. Hearing the
noise of the scuffle, the tapstress, fancying it was Jack making an
effort to escape, in spite of the remonstrances of the executioner,
threw open the wicket. Blueskin therefore had nothing to stop him.
Dashing through the open door, he crossed the Old Bailey, plunged into a
narrow court on the opposite side of the way, and was out of sight in a
minute, baffling all pursuit.

On their return, the jailers raised up Jonathan, who was weltering in
his blood, and who appeared to be dying. Efforts were made to staunch
his wounds and surgical assistance sent for.

"Has he escaped?" asked the thief-taker, faintly.

"Blueskin," said Ireton.

"No--Sheppard?" rejoined Wild.

"No, no, Sir," replied Ireton. "He's here."

"That's right," replied Wild, with a ghastly smile. "Remove him to the
Middle Stone Hold,--watch over him night and day, do you mind?"

"I do, Sir."

"Irons--heavy irons--night and day."

"Depend upon it, Sir."

"Go with him to Tyburn,--never lose sight of him till the noose is tied.
Where's Marvel?"

"Here, Sir," replied the executioner.

"A hundred guineas if you hang Jack Sheppard. I have it about me. Take
it, if I die."

"Never fear, Sir," replied Marvel.

"Oh! that I could live to see it," gasped Jonathan. And with a hideous
expression of pain, he fainted.

"He's dead," exclaimed Austin.

"I am content," said Jack. "My mother is avenged. Take me to the Stone
Room. Blueskin, you are a true friend."

The body of Jonathan was then conveyed to his own habitation, while Jack
was taken to the Middle Stone Room, and ironed in the manner Wild had
directed.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

What happened at Dollis Hill.


"At length this tragedy is at an end," said Mr. Wood, as, having seen
the earth thrown over the remains of the unfortunate Mrs. Sheppard, he
turned to quit the churchyard. "Let us hope that, like her who 'loved
much,' her sins are forgiven her."

Without another word, and accompanied by Thames, he then took his way to
Dollis Hill in a state of the deepest depression. Thames did not attempt
to offer him any consolation, for he was almost as much dejected. The
weather harmonized with their feelings. It rained slightly, and a thick
mist gathered in the air, and obscured the beautiful prospect.

On his arrival at Dollis Hill, Mr. Wood was so much exhausted that he
was obliged to retire to his own room, where he continued for some hours
overpowered by grief. The two lovers sat together, and their sole
discourse turned upon Jack and his ill-fated mother.

As the night advanced, Mr. Wood again made his appearance in a more
composed frame of mind, and, at his daughter's earnest solicitation, was
induced to partake of some refreshment. An hour was then passed in
conversation as to the possibility of rendering any assistance to Jack;
in deploring his unhappy destiny; and in the consideration of the course
to be pursued in reference to Jonathan Wild.

While they were thus occupied, a maid-servant entered the room, and
stated that a person was without who had a packet for Captain Darrell,
which must be delivered into his own hands. Notwithstanding the
remonstrances of Wood and Winifred, Thames instantly followed the
domestic, and found a man, with his face muffled up, at the door, as she
had described. Somewhat alarmed at his appearance, Thames laid his hand
upon his sword.

"Fear nothing, Sir," said the man, in a voice which Thames instantly
recognised as that of Blueskin. "I am come to render you a service.
There are the packets which my Captain hazarded his life to procure for
you, and which he said would establish your right to the estates of the
Trenchard family. There are also the letters which were scattered about
Wild's room after the murder of Sir Rowland. And there," he added,
placing in his hands a heavy bag of money, and a pocket-book, "is a sum
little short of fifteen thousand pounds."

"How have you procured these things?" asked Thames, in the utmost
astonishment.

"I carried them off on the fatal night when we got into Wild's house,
and you were struck down," replied Blueskin. "They have ever since been
deposited in a place of safety. You have nothing more to fear from
Wild."

"How so?" asked Thames.

"I have saved the executioner a labour, by cutting his throat," replied
Blueskin. "And, may I be cursed if I ever did anything in my whole life
which gave me so much satisfaction."

"Almighty God! is this possible?" exclaimed Thames.

"You will find it true," replied Blueskin. "All I regret is, that I
failed in liberating the Captain. If he had got off, they might have
hanged me, and welcome."

"What can be done for him?" cried Thames.

"That's not an easy question to answer," rejoined Blueskin. "But I shall
watch night and day about Newgate, in the hope of getting him out. He
wouldn't require my aid, but before I stopped Jonathan's mouth, he had
ordered him to be doubly-ironed, and constantly watched. And, though the
villain can't see his orders executed, I've no doubt some one else
will."

"Poor Jack!" exclaimed Thames. "I would sacrifice all my fortune--all my
hopes--to liberate him."

"If you're in earnest," rejoined Blueskin, "give me that bag of gold. It
contains a thousand pounds; and, if all other schemes fail, I'll engage
to free him on the way to Tyburn."

"May I trust you?" hesitated Thames.

"Why did I not keep the money when I had it?" returned Blueskin,
angrily. "Not a farthing of it shall be expended except in the Captain's
service."

"Take it," replied Thames.

"You have saved his life," replied Blueskin. "And now, mark me. You owe
what I have done for you, to him, not to me. Had I not known that you
and your affianced bride are dearer to him than life I should have used
this money to secure my own safety. Take it, and take the estates, in
Captain Sheppard's name. Promise me one thing before I leave you."

"What is it?" asked Thames.

"If the Captain _is_ taken to Tyburn, be near the place of execution--at
the end of the Edgeware Road."

"I will."

"In case of need you will lend a helping hand?"

"Yes--yes."

"Swear it!"

"I do."

"Enough!" rejoined Blueskin. And he departed, just as Wood, who had
become alarmed by Thames's long absence, made his appearance with a
blunderbuss in his hand.

Hastily acquainting him with the treasures he had unexpectedly obtained,
Thames returned to the room to apprize Winifred of his good fortune. The
packets were hastily broken open; and, while Wood was absorbed in the
perusal of the despatch addressed to him by Sir Rowland, Thames sought
out, and found the letter which he had been prevented from finishing on
the fatal night at Jonathan Wild's. As soon as he had read it, he let it
fall from his grasp.

Winifred instantly picked it up.

"You are no longer Thames Darrell," she said, casting her eyes rapidly
over it; "but the Marquis de Chatillon."

"My father was of the blood-royal of France," exclaimed Thames.

"Eh-day! what's this?" cried Wood, looking up from beneath his
spectacles. "Who--who is the Marquis de Chatillon?"

"Your adopted son, Thames Darrell," answered Winifred.

"And the Marchioness is your daughter," added Thames.

"O, Lord!" ejaculated Wood. "My head fairly turns round. So many
distresses--so many joys coming at the same time are too much for me.
Read that letter, Thames--my lord marquis, I mean. Read it, and you'll
find that your unfortunate uncle, Sir Rowland, surrenders to you all the
estates in Lancashire. You've nothing to do but to take possession."

"What a strange history is mine!" said Thames. "Kidnapped, and sent to
France by one uncle, it was my lot to fall into the hands of
another,--my father's own brother, the Marshal Gaucher de Chatillon; to
whom, and to the Cardinal Dubois, I owed all my good fortune."

"The ways of Providence are inscrutable," observed Wood.

"When in France, I heard from the Marshal that his brother had perished
in London on the night of the Great Storm. It was supposed he was
drowned in crossing the river, as his body had never been found. Little
did I imagine at the time that it was my own father to whom he
referred."

"I think I remember reading something about your father in the papers,"
observed Wood. "Wasn't he in some way connected with the Jacobite
plots?"

"He was," replied Thames. "He had been many years in this country before
his assassination took place. In this letter, which is addressed to my
ill-fated mother, he speaks of his friendship for Sir Rowland, whom it
seems he had known abroad; but entreats her to keep the marriage secret
for a time, for reasons which are not fully developed."

"And so Sir Rowland murdered his friend," remarked Wood. "Crime upon
crime."

"Unconsciously, perhaps," replied Thames. "But be it as it may, he is
now beyond the reach of earthly punishment."

"But Wild still lives," cried Wood.

"He; also, has paid the penalty of his offences," returned Thames. "He
has fallen by the hand of Blueskin, who brought me these packets."

"Thank God for that!" cried Wood, heartily. "I could almost forgive the
wretch the injury he did me in depriving me of my poor dear wife--No,
not quite _that_," he added, a little confused.

"And now," said Thames, (for we must still preserve the name,) "you will
no longer defer my happiness."

"Hold!" interposed Winifred, gravely. "I release you from your promise.
A carpenter's daughter is no fit match for a peer of France."

"If my dignity must be purchased by the loss of you, I renounce it,"
cried Thames. "You will not make it valueless in my eyes," he added,
catching her in his arms, and pressing her to his breast.

"Be it as you please," replied Winifred. "My lips would belie my heart
were I to refuse you."

"And now, father, your blessing--your consent!" cried Thames.

"You have both," replied Wood, fervently. "I am too much honoured--too
happy in the union. Oh! that I should live to be father-in-law to a peer
of France! What would my poor wife say to it, if she could come to life
again? Oh, Thames!--my lord marquis, I mean--you have made me the
happiest--the proudest of mankind."

Not many days after this event, on a bright October morning, the bells
rang a merry peal from the old gray tower of Willesden church. All the
village was assembled in the churchyard. Young and old were dressed in
their gayest apparel; and it was evident from the smiles that lighted up
every countenance, from the roguish looks of the younger swains, and the
demure expression of several pretty rustic maidens, that a ceremony,
which never fails to interest all classes,--a wedding,--was about to
take place.

At the gate opening upon the road leading to Dollis Hill were stationed
William Morgan and John Dump. Presently, two carriages dashed down the
hill, and drew up before it. From the first of these alighted Thames,
or, as he must now be styled, the Marquis de Chatillon. From the second
descended Mr. Wood--and after him came his daughter.

The sun never shone upon a lovelier couple than now approached the
altar. The church was crowded to excess by the numbers eager to witness
the ceremony; and as soon as it was over the wedded pair were followed
to the carriage, and the loudest benedictions uttered for their
happiness.

In spite of the tumultuous joy which agitated him, the bridegroom could
not prevent the intrusion of some saddening thoughts, as he reflected
upon the melancholy scene which he had so recently witnessed in the same
place.

The youthful couple had been seated in the carriage a few minutes when
they were joined by Mr. Wood, who had merely absented himself to see
that a public breakfast, which he had ordered at the Six Bells for all
who chose to partake of it, was in readiness. He likewise gave
directions that in the after part of the day a whole bullock should be
roasted on the green and distributed, together with a barrel of the
strongest ale.

In the evening, a band of village musicians, accompanied by most of the
young inhabitants of Willesden, strolled out to Dollis Hill, where they
formed a rustic concert under the great elm before the door. Here they
were regaled with another plentiful meal by the hospitable carpenter,
who personally superintended the repast.

These festivities, however, were not witnessed by the newly-married
pair, who had departed immediately after the ceremony for Manchester.




CHAPTER XXIX.

How Jack Sheppard was taken to Westminster Hall.


Loaded with the heaviest fetters, and constantly watched by two of the
jailers' assistants, who neither quitted him for a single moment, nor
suffered any visitor to approach him, Jack Sheppard found all attempts
to escape impracticable.

He was confined in the Middle Stone Ward, a spacious apartment, with
good light and air, situated over the gateway on the western side, and
allotted to him, not for his own convenience, but for that of the
keepers, who, if he had been placed in a gloomier or more incommodious
dungeon, would have necessarily had to share it with him.

Through this, his last trial, Jack's spirits never deserted him. He
seemed resigned but cheerful, and held frequent and serious discourses
with the ordinary, who felt satisfied of his sincere penitence. The only
circumstance which served to awaken a darker feeling in his breast was,
that his implacable foe Jonathan Wild had survived the wound inflicted
by Blueskin, and was slowly recovering.

As soon as he could be moved with safety, Jonathan had himself
transported to Newgate, where he was carried into the Middle Ward, that
he might feast his eyes upon his victim. Having seen every precaution
taken to ensure his safe custody, he departed, muttering to himself, "I
shall yet live to see him hanged--I shall live to see him hanged."

Animated by his insatiate desire of vengeance, he seemed to gain
strength daily,--so much so, that within a fortnight after receiving his
wound he was able to stir abroad.

On Thursday, the 12th of November, after having endured nearly a month's
imprisonment, Jack Sheppard was conveyed from Newgate to Westminster
Hall. He was placed in a coach, handcuffed, and heavily fettered, and
guarded by a vast posse of officers to Temple Bar, where a fresh relay
of constables escorted him to Westminster.

By this time, Jack's reputation had risen to such a height with the
populace,--his exploits having become the universal theme of discourse,
that the streets were almost impassable for the crowds collected to
obtain a view of him. The vast area in front of Westminster Hall was
thronged with people, and it was only by a vigorous application of their
staves that the constables could force a passage for the vehicle. At
length, however, the prisoner was got out, when such was the rush of the
multitude that several persons were trampled down, and received severe
injuries.

Arrived in the Hall, the prisoner's handcuffs were removed, and he was
taken before the Court of King's Bench. The record of his conviction at
the Old Bailey sessions was then read; and as no objection was offered
to it, the Attorney-General moved that his execution might take place on
Monday next. Upon this, Jack earnestly and eloquently addressed himself
to the bench, and besought that a petition which he had prepared to be
laid before the King might be read. This request, however, was refused;
and he was told that the only way in which he could entitle himself to
his Majesty's clemency would be by discovering who had abetted him in
his last escape; the strongest suspicions being entertained that he had
not affected it alone.

Sheppard replied by a solemn assertion, "that he had received no
assistance except from Heaven."--An answer for which he was immediately
reprimanded by the court. It having been stated that it was wholly
impossible he could have removed his irons in the way he represented, he
offered, if his handcuffs were replaced, to take them off in the
presence of the court. The proposal, however, was not acceded to; and
the Chief Justice Powis, after enumerating his various offences and
commenting upon their heinousness, awarded sentence of death against him
for the following Monday.

As Jack was removed, he noticed Jonathan Wild at a little distance from
him, eyeing him with a look of the most savage satisfaction. The
thief-taker's throat was bound up with thick folds of linen, and his
face had a ghastly and cadaverous look, which communicated an
undefinable and horrible expression to his glances.

Meanwhile, the mob outside had prodigiously increased, and had begun to
exhibit some disposition to riot. The coach in which the prisoner had
been conveyed was already broken to pieces, and the driver was glad to
escape with life. Terrific shouts were raised by the rabble, who
threatened to tear Wild in pieces if he showed himself.

Amid this tumult, several men armed with tremendous bludgeons, with
their faces besmeared with grease and soot, and otherwise disguised,
were observed to be urging the populace to attempt a rescue. They were
headed by an athletic-looking, swarthy-featured man, who was armed with
a cutlass, which he waved over his head to cheer on his companions.

These desperadoes had been the most active in demolishing the coach, and
now, being supported by the rabble, they audaciously approached the very
portals of the ancient Hall. The shouts, yells, and groans which they
uttered, and which were echoed by the concourse in the rear, were
perfectly frightful.

Jonathan, who with the other constables had reconnoitred this band, and
recognised in its ring-leader, Blueskin, commanded the constables to
follow him, and made a sally for the purpose of seizing him. Enfeebled
by his wound, Wild had lost much of his strength, though nothing of his
ferocity and energy,--and fiercely assailing Blueskin, he made a
desperate but unsuccessful attempt to apprehend him.

He was, however, instantly beaten back; and the fury of the mob was so
great that it was with difficulty he could effect a retreat. The whole
force of the constables, jailers and others was required to keep the
crowd out of the Hall. The doors were closed and barricaded, and the mob
threatened to burst them open if Jack was not delivered to them.

Things now began to wear so serious a aspect that a messenger was
secretly despatched to the Savoy for troops, and in half an hour a
regiment of the guards arrived, who by dint of great exertion succeeded
in partially dispersing the tumultuous assemblage. Another coach was
then procured, in which the prisoner was placed.

Jack's appearance was hailed with the loudest cheers, but when Jonathan
followed and took a place beside him in the vehicle, determined, he
said, never to lose sight of him, the abhorrence of the multitude was
expressed by execrations, hoots, and yells of the most terrific kind. So
dreadful were these shouts as to produce an effect upon the hardened
feelings of Jonathan, who shrank out of sight.

It was well for him that he had taken his place by Sheppard, as regard
for the latter alone prevented the deadliest missiles being hurled at
him. As it was, the mob went on alternately hooting and huzzaing as the
names of Wild and Sheppard were pronounced, while some individuals,
bolder than the rest, thrust their faces into the coach-window, and
assured Jack that he should never be taken to Tyburn.

"We'll see that, you yelping hounds!" rejoined Jonathan, glaring
fiercely at them.

In this way, Jack was brought back to Newgate, and again chained down in
the Middle Ward.

It was late before Jonathan ventured to his own house, where he remained
up all night, and kept his janizaries and other assistants well armed.




CHAPTER XXX.

How Jonathan Wild's House was burnt down.


The day appointed for the execution was now close at hand, and the
prisoner, who seemed to have abandoned all hopes of escape, turned his
thoughts entirely from worldly considerations.

On Sunday, he was conveyed to the chapel, through which he had passed on
the occasion of his great escape, and once more took his seat in the
Condemned Pew. The Rev. Mr. Purney, the ordinary, who had latterly
conceived a great regard for Jack, addressed him in a discourse, which,
while it tended to keep alive his feelings of penitence, was calculated
to afford him much consolation. The chapel was crowded to excess. But
here,--even here, the demon was suffered to intrude, and Jack's thoughts
were distracted by Jonathan Wild, who stood at a little distance from
him, and kept his bloodthirsty eyes fixed on him during the whole of the
service.

On that night, an extraordinary event occurred, which convinced the
authorities that every precaution must be taken in conducting Jack to
Tyburn,--a fact of which they had been previously made aware, though
scarcely to the same extent, by the riotous proceedings near Westminster
Hall. About nine o'clock, an immense mob collected before the Lodge at
Newgate. It was quite dark; but as some of the assemblage carried links,
it was soon ascertained to be headed by the same party who had mainly
incited the former disturbance. Amongst the ring-leaders was Blueskin,
whose swarthy features and athletic figure were easily distinguished.
Another was Baptist Kettleby, and a third, in a Dutch dress, was
recognised by his grizzled beard as the skipper, Van Galgebrok.

Before an hour had elapsed, the concourse was fearfully increased. The
area in front of the jail was completely filled. Attempts were made upon
the door of the Lodge; but it was too strong to be forced. A cry was
then raised by the leaders to attack Wild's house, and the fury of the
mob was instantly directed to that quarter. Wrenched from their holds,
the iron palisades in front of the thief-taker's dwelling were used as
weapons to burst open the door.

While this was passing, Jonathan opened one of the upper windows, and
fired several shots upon the assailants. But though he made Blueskin and
Kettleby his chief marks, he missed both. The sight of the thief-taker
increased the fury of the mob to a fearful degree. Terrific yells rent
the air. The heavy weapon thundered against the door; and it speedily
yielded to their efforts.

"Come on, my lads!" vociferated Blueskin, "we'll unkennel the old fox."

As he spoke, several shots were fired from the upper part of the house,
and two men fell mortally wounded. But this only incensed the assailing
party the more. With a drawn cutlass in one hand and a cocked pistol in
the other, Blueskin rushed up stairs. The landing was defended by Quilt
Arnold and the Jew. The former was shot by Blueskin through the head,
and his body fell over the bannisters. The Jew, who was paralysed by his
companion's fate, offered no resistance, and was instantly seized.

"Where is your accursed master?" demanded Blueskin, holding the sword to
his throat.

The Jew did not speak, but pointed to the audience-chamber. Committing
him to the custody of the others, Blueskin, followed by a numerous band,
darted in that direction. The door was locked; but, with the bars of
iron, it was speedily burst open. Several of the assailants carried
links, so that the room was a blaze of light. Jonathan, however, was
nowhere to be seen.

Rushing towards the entrance of the well-hole, Blueskin touched the
secret spring. He was not there. Opening the trap-door, he then
descended to the vaults--searched each cell, and every nook and corner
separately. Wild had escaped.

Robbed of their prey, the fury of the mob became ungovernable. At
length, at the end of a passage, next to the cell where Mrs. Sheppard
had been confined, Blueskin discovered a trap-door which he had not
previously noticed. It was instantly burst open, when the horrible
stench that issued from it convinced them that it must be a receptacle
for the murdered victims of the thief-taker.

Holding a link into the place, which had the appearance of a deep pit,
Blueskin noticed a body richly dressed. He dragged it out, and
perceiving, in spite of the decayed frame, that it was the body of Sir
Rowland Trenchard, commanded his attendants to convey it up stairs--an
order which was promptly obeyed.

Returning to the audience-chamber, Blueskin had the Jew brought before
him. The body of Sir Rowland was then laid on the large table. Opposite
to it was placed the Jew. Seeing from the threatening looks of his
captors, that they were about to wreak their vengeance upon him, the
miserable wretch besought mercy in abject terms, and charged his master
with the most atrocious crimes. His relation of the murder of Sir
Rowland petrified even his fierce auditors.

One of the cases in Jonathan's museum was now burst open, and a rope
taken from it. In spite of his shrieks, the miserable Jew was then
dragged into the well-hole, and the rope being tied round his neck, he
was launched from the bridge.

The vengeance of the assailants did not stop here. They broke open the
entrance into Jonathan's store-room--plundered it of everything
valuable--ransacked every closet, drawer, and secret hiding-place, and
stripped them of their contents. Large hoards of money were discovered,
gold and silver plate, cases of watches, and various precious articles.
Nothing, in short, portable or valuable was left. Old implements of
housebreaking were discovered; and the thief-taker's most hidden
depositories were laid bare.

The work of plunder over, that of destruction commenced. Straw and other
combustibles being collected, were placed in the middle of the
audience-chamber. On these were thrown all the horrible contents of
Jonathan's museum, together with the body of Sir Rowland Trenchard. The
whole was then fired, and in a few minutes the room was a blaze. Not
content with this, the assailants set fire to the house in half-a-dozen
other places; and the progress of the flames was rapid and destructive.

Meanwhile, the object of all this fearful disturbance had made his
escape to Newgate, from the roof of which he witnessed the destruction
of his premises. He saw the flames burst from the windows, and perhaps
in that maddening spectacle suffered torture equivalent to some of the
crimes he had committed.

While he was thus standing, the flames of his house, which made the
whole street as light as day, and ruddily illumined the faces of the mob
below, betrayed him to them, and he was speedily driven from his
position by a shower of stones and other missiles.

The mob now directed their attention to Newgate; and, from their
threats, appeared determined to fire it. Ladders, paviour's rams,
sledge-hammers, and other destructive implements were procured, and, in
all probability, their purpose would have been effected, but for the
opportune arrival of a detachment of the guards, who dispersed them, not
without some loss of life.

Several prisoners were taken, but the ring-leaders escaped. Engines
were brought to play upon Wild's premises, and upon the adjoining
houses. The latter were saved; but of the former nothing but the
blackened stone walls were found standing on the morrow.




CHAPTER XXXI.

The Procession to Tyburn.


The noise of this disturbance did not fail to reach the interior of the
prison. In fact, the reflection of the flames lighted up the ward in
which Jack Sheppard was confined.

The night his execution was therefore passed in a most anxious state of
mind; nor was his uneasiness allayed by the appearance of Jonathan Wild,
who, after he had been driven from the roof of the jail, repaired to the
Middle Stone Ward in a fit of ungovernable passion, to vent his rage
upon the prisoner, whom he looked upon as the cause of the present
calamity. Such was his fury, that if he had not been restrained by the
presence of the two turnkeys, he might perhaps have anticipated the
course of justice, by laying violent hands upon his victim.

After venting his wrath in the wildest manner, and uttering the most
dreadful execrations, Jonathan retired to another part of the prison,
where he passed the night in consultation with the governor, as to the
best means of conveying the prisoner securely to Tyburn. Mr. Pitt
endeavoured to dissuade him from attending in person, representing the
great risk he would incur from the mob, which was certain to be
assembled. But Jonathan was not to be deterred.

"I have sworn to see him hanged," he said, "and nothing shall keep me
away--nothing, by----."

By Wild's advice, the usual constabulary force was greatly augmented.
Messengers were despatched to all the constables and head-boroughs to be
in attendance,--to the sheriffs to have an extraordinary number of their
officers in attendance,--and to the Savoy, to obtain the escort of a
troop of grenadier-guards. In short, more preparations were made than if
a state criminal was about to be executed.

The morning of Monday the 16th of November 1724 at length dawned. It was
a dull, foggy day, and the atmosphere was so thick and heavy, that, at
eight o'clock, the curious who arrived near the prison could scarcely
discern the tower of St. Sepulchre's church.

By and by the tramp of horses' feet was heard slowly ascending Snow
Hill, and presently a troop of grenadier guards rode into the area
facing Newgate. These were presently joined by a regiment of foot. A
large body of the constables of Westminster next made their appearance,
the chief of whom entered the Lodge, where they were speedily joined by
the civic authorities. At nine o'clock, the sheriffs arrived, followed
by their officers and javelin-men.

Meantime, the Stone Hall was crowded by all the inmates of the jail,
debtors, felons, turnkeys, and officers who could obtain permission to
witness the ceremony of the prisoner's irons being struck off. Caliban,
who, through the interest of Mr. Ireton, was appointed to the office,
stood with a hammer in one hand, and a punch in the other, near the
great stone block, ready to fulfil his duty. Close behind him stood the
tall gaunt figure of Marvel, with his large bony hands, his scraggy
neck, and ill-favoured countenance. Next to the executioner stood his
wife--the former Mrs. Spurling. Mrs. Marvel held her handkerchief to her
eyes, and appeared in great distress. But her husband, whose deportment
to her was considerably changed since the fatal knot had been tied, paid
no attention whatever to her grief.

At this moment, the bell of Newgate began to toll, and was answered by
another bell from St. Sepulchre's. The great door of the Stone Hall was
thrown open, and the sheriffs, preceded by the javelin-men, entered the
room. They were followed by Jonathan, who carried a stout stick under
his arm, and planted himself near the stone. Not a word was uttered by
the assemblage; but a hush of expectation reigned throughout.

Another door was next opened, and, preceded by the ordinary, with the
sacred volume in his hand, the prisoner entered the room. Though
encumbered by his irons, his step was firm, and his demeanour dignified.
His countenance was pale as death, but not a muscle quivered; nor did he
betray the slightest appearance of fear. On the contrary, it was
impossible to look at him without perceiving that his resolution was
unshaken.

Advancing with a slow firm step to the stone-block he placed his left
foot upon it, drew himself up to his full height, and fixed a look so
stern upon Jonathan, that the thief-taker quailed before it.

The black, meantime, began to ply his hammer, and speedily unriveted the
chains. The first stroke appeared to arouse all the vindictive passions
of Jonathan. Fixing a ferocious and exulting look upon Jack Sheppard, he
exclaimed.

"At length, my vengeance is complete."

"Wretch!" cried Jack, raising his hand in a menacing manner, "your
triumph will be short-lived. Before a year has expired, you will share
the same fate."

"If I do, I care not," rejoined Wild; "I shall have lived to see you
hanged."

"O Jack, dear, dear Jack!" cried Mrs. Marvel, who was now quite
dissolved in tears, "I shall never survive this scene."

"Hold your tongue, hussy!" cried her husband gruffly. "Women ought never
to show themselves on these occasions, unless they can behave themselves
properly."

"Farewell, Jack," cried twenty voices.

Sheppard looked round, and exchanged kindly glances with several of
those who addressed him.

"My limbs feel so light, now that my irons are removed," he observed
with a smile, "that I am half inclined to dance."

"You'll dance upon nothing, presently," rejoined Jonathan, brutally.

"Farewell for ever," said Jack, extending his hand to Mrs. Marvel.

"Farewell!" blubbered the executioner's wife, pressing his hand to her
lips. "Here are a pair of gloves and a nosegay for you. Oh dear!--oh
dear! Be careful of him," she added to her husband, "and get it over
quickly, or never expect to see me again."

"Peace, fool!" cried Marvel, angrily. "Do you think I don't know my own
business?"

Austin and Langley then advanced to the prisoner, and, twinning their
arms round his, led him down to the Lodge, whither he was followed by
the sheriffs, the ordinary, Wild, and the other officials.

Meantime, every preparation had been made outside for his departure. At
the end of two long lines of foot-guards stood the cart with a powerful
black horse harnessed to it. At the head of the cart was placed the
coffin. On the right were several mounted grenadiers: on the left, some
half dozen javelin-men. Soldiers were stationed at different points of
the street to keep off the mob, and others were riding backwards and
forwards to maintain an open space for the passage of the procession.

The assemblage which was gathered together was almost countless. Every
house-top, every window, every wall, every projection, had its
occupants. The wall of St. Sepulchre's church was covered--so was the
tower. The concourse extended along Giltspur Street as far as
Smithfield. No one was allowed to pass along Newgate Street, which was
barricaded and protected by a strong constabulary force.

The first person who issued from the Lodge was Mr. Marvel, who proceeded
to the cart, and took his seat upon the coffin. The hangman is always an
object of peculiar detestation to the mob, a tremendous hooting hailed
his appearance, and both staves and swords were required to preserve
order.

A deep silence, however, now prevailed, broken only by the tolling of
the bells of Newgate and St. Sepulchre's. The mighty concourse became
for a moment still. Suddenly, such a shout as has seldom smitten human
ears rent the air. "He comes!" cried a thousand voices, and the shout
ascended to Smithfield, descended to Snow Hill, and told those who were
assembled on Holborn Hill that Sheppard had left the prison.

Between the two officers, with their arms linked in his, Jack Sheppard
was conducted to the cart. He looked around, and as he heard that
deafening shout,--as he felt the influence of those thousand eyes fixed
upon him,--as he listened to the cheers, all his misgivings--if he had
any--vanished, and he felt more as if he were marching to a triumph,
than proceeding to a shameful death.

Jack had no sooner taken his place in the cart, than he was followed by
the ordinary, who seated himself beside him, and, opening the book of
prayer, began to read aloud. Excited by the scene, Jack, however, could
pay little attention to the good man's discourse, and was lost in a
whirl of tumultuous emotions.

The calvacade was now put slowly in motion. The horse-soldiers wheeled
round and cleared a path: the foot closed in upon the cart. Then came
the javelin-men, walking four abreast, and lastly, a long line of
constables, marching in the same order.

The procession had just got into line of march, when a dreadful groan,
mixed with yells, hootings, and execrations, was heard. This was
occasioned by Jonathan Wild, who was seen to mount his horse and join
the train. Jonathan, however, paid no sort of attention to this
demonstration of hatred. He had buckled on his hanger, and had two brace
of pistols in his belt, as well as others in this holsters.

By this time, the procession had reached the west end of the wall of St.
Sepulchre's church, where, in compliance with an old custom, it halted.
By the will of Mr. Robert Dow, merchant tailor, it was appointed that
the sexton of St. Sepulchre's should pronounce a solemn exhortation upon
every criminal on his way to Tyburn, for which office he was to receive
a small stipend. As soon as the cavalcade stopped, the sexton advanced,
and, ringing a handbell, pronounced the following admonition.

"_All good people pray heartily unto God for this poor sinner, who is
now going to take his death, for whom this great bell doth toll_.

"_You who are condemned to die, repent with lamentable tears. Ask mercy
of the Lord for the salvation of your own soul, through the merits of
the death and passion of Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of
God, to make intercession for you, if you penitently return to him. The
Lord have mercy upon you_!"

This ceremony concluded, the calvacade was again put in motion.

Slowly descending Snow Hill, the train passed on its way, attended by
the same stunning vociferations, cheers, yells, and outcries, which had
accompanied it on starting from Newgate. The guards had great difficulty
in preserving a clear passage without resorting to severe measures, for
the tide, which poured upon them behind, around, in front, and at all
sides, was almost irresistible. The houses on Snow Hill were thronged,
like those in Old Bailey. Every window, from the groundfloor to the
garret had its occupant, and the roofs were covered with spectators.
Words of encouragement and sympathy were addressed to Jack, who, as he
looked around, beheld many a friendly glance fixed upon him.

In this way, they reached Holborn Bridge. Here a little delay occurred.
The passage was so narrow that there was only sufficient room for the
cart to pass, with a single line of foot-soldiers on one side; and, as
the walls of the bridge were covered with spectators, it was not deemed
prudent to cross it till these persons were dislodged.

While this was effected, intelligence was brought that a formidable mob
was pouring down Field Lane, the end of which was barricaded. The
advanced guard rode on to drive away any opposition, while the main body
of the procession crossed the bridge, and slowly toiled up Holborn Hill.

The entrance of Shoe Lane, and the whole line of the wall of St.
Andrew's church, the bell of which was tolling, was covered with
spectators. Upon the steps leading to the gates of the church stood two
persons whom Jack instantly recognised. These were his mistresses, Poll
Maggot and Edgeworth Bess. As soon as the latter beheld him, she uttered
a loud scream, and fainted. She was caught by some of the bystanders,
who offered by her every assistance in their power. As to Mrs. Maggot,
whose nerves were more firmly strung, she contented herself with waving
her hand affectionately to her lover, and encouraging him by her
gestures.

While this was taking place, another and more serious interruption
occurred. The advanced guard had endeavoured to disperse the mob in
Field Lane, but were not prepared to meet with the resistance they
encountered. The pavement had been hastily picked up, and heaped across
the end of the street, upon which planks, barrels, and other barricades,
were laid. Most of the mob were armed with pikes, staves, swords,
muskets, and other weapons, and offered a most desperate resistance to
the soldiery, whom they drove back with a shower of paving-stones.

The arrival of the cart at the end of Field Lane, appeared the signal
for an attempt at rescue. With a loud shout, and headed by a
powerfully-built man, with a face as black as that of a mulatto, and
armed with a cutlass, the rabble leapt over the barricades, and rushed
towards the vehicle. An immediate halt took place. The soldiers
surrounded the cart, drew their swords, and by striking the rioters
first with the blunt edge of their blades, and afterwards with the sharp
points, succeeded in driving them back.

Amid this skirmish Jonathan greatly distinguished himself. Drawing his
hanger he rode amongst the crowd, trampled upon those most in advance,
and made an attempt to seize their leader, in whom he recognised
Blueskin.

Baffled in their attempt, the mob uttered a roar, such as only a
thousand angry voices can utter, and discharged a volley of missiles at
the soldiery. Stones and brickbats were showered on all sides, and Mr.
Marvel was almost dislodged from his seat on the coffin by a dead dog,
which was hurled against him, and struck him in the face.

At length, however, by dealing blows right and left with their swords,
and even inflicting severe cuts on the foremost of the rabble, the
soldiers managed to gain a clear course, and to drive back the
assailants; who, as they retreated behind the barricades, shouted in
tones of defiance, "To Tyburn! to Tyburn!"

The object of all this tumult, meanwhile, never altered his position,
but sat back in the cart, as if resolved not to make even a struggle to
regain his liberty.

The procession now wound its way, without further interruption, along
Holborn. Like a river swollen by many currents, it gathered force from
the various avenues that poured their streams into it. Fetter Lane, on
the left, Gray's Inn, on the right, added their supplies. On all hands
Jack was cheered, and Jonathan hooted.

At length, the train approached St. Giles's. Here, according to another
old custom, already alluded to, a criminal taken to execution was
allowed to halt at a tavern, called the Crown, and take a draught from
St. Giles's bowl, "as his last refreshment on earth." At the door of
this tavern, which was situated on the left of the street, not more than
a hundred yards distant from the church, the bell of which began to toll
as soon as the procession came in sight, the cart drew up, and the whole
cavalcade halted. A wooden balcony in one of the adjoining houses was
thronged with ladies, all of whom appeared to take a lively interest in
the scene, and to be full of commiseration for the criminal, not,
perhaps, unmixed with admiration of his appearance. Every window in the
public house was filled with guests; and, as in the case of St.
Andrew's, the churchyard wall of St. Giles's was lined with spectators.

A scene now ensued, highly characteristic of the age, and the occasion.
The doleful procession at once assumed a festive character. Many of the
soldiers dismounted, and called for drink. Their example was
immediately imitated by the officers, constables, javelin men, and other
attendants; and nothing was to be heard but shouts of laughter and
jesting,--nothing seen but the passing of glasses, and the emptying of
foaming jugs. Mr. Marvel, who had been a little discomposed by the
treatment he had experienced on Holborn Hill, very composedly filled and
lighted his pipe.

One group at the door attracted Jack's attention, inasmuch as it was
composed of several of his old acquaintances--Mr. Kneebone, Van
Galgebrok, and Baptist Kettleby--all of whom greeted him cordially.
Besides these, there was a sturdy-looking fellow, whom he instantly
recognised as the honest blacksmith who had freed him from his irons at
Tottenham.

"I am here, you see," said the smith.

"So I perceive," replied Jack.

At this moment, the landlord of the Crown, a jovial-looking stout
personage, with a white apron round his waist, issued from the house,
bearing a large wooden bowl filled with ale, which he offered to Jack,
who instantly rose to receive it. Raising the bowl in his right hand,
Jack glanced towards the balcony, in which the group of ladies were
seated, and begged to drink their healths; he then turned to Kneebone
and the others, who extended their hands towards him, and raised it to
his lips. Just as he was about to drain it, he encountered the basilisk
glance of Jonathan Wild, and paused.

"I leave this bowl for you," he cried, returning it to the landlord
untasted.

"Your father said so before you," replied Jonathan, malignantly; "and
yet it has tarried thus long."

"You will call for it before six months are passed," rejoined Jack,
sternly.

Once again the cavalcade was in motion, and winding its way by St.
Giles's church, the bell of which continued tolling all the time, passed
the pound, and entered Oxford Road, or, as it was then not unfrequently
termed, Tyburn Road. After passing Tottenham Court Road, very few
houses were to be seen on the right hand, opposite Wardour Street it was
open country.

The crowd now dispersed amongst the fields, and thousands of persons
were seen hurrying towards Tyburn as fast as their legs could carry
them, leaping over hedges, and breaking down every impediment in their
course.

Besides those who conducted themselves more peaceably, the conductors of
the procession noticed with considerable uneasiness, large bands of men
armed with staves, bludgeons, and other weapons, who were flying across
the field in the same direction. As it was feared that some mischief
would ensue, Wild volunteered, if he were allowed a small body of men,
to ride forward to Tyburn, and keep the ground clear until the arrival
of the prisoner.

This suggestion being approved, was instantly acted upon, and the
thief-taker, accompanied by a body of the grenadiers, rode forward.

The train, meantime, had passed Marylebone Lane, when it again paused
for a moment, at Jack's request, near the door of a public-house called
the City of Oxford.

Scarcely had it come to a halt, when a stalwart man shouldered his way,
in spite of their opposition, through the lines of soldiery to the cart,
and offered his large horny hand to the prisoner.

"I told you I would call to bid you farewell, Mr. Figg," said Jack.

"So you did," replied the prize-fighter. "Sorry you're obliged to keep
your word. Heard of your last escape. Hoped you'd not be retaken. Never
sent for the shirt."

"I didn't want it," replied Jack; "but who are those gentlemen?"

"Friends of yours," replied Figg; "come to see you;--Sir James
Thornhill, Mr. Hogarth, and Mr. Gay. They send you every good wish."

"Offer them my hearty thanks," replied Jack, waving his hand to the
group, all of whom returned the salutation. "And now, farewell, Mr.
Figg! In a few minutes, all will be over."

Figg turned aside to hide the tears that started to his eyes,--for the
stout prize-fighter, with a man's courage, had a woman's heart,--and the
procession again set forward.




CHAPTER XXXII.

The Closing Scene.


Tyburn was now at hand. Over the sea of heads arose a black and dismal
object. It was the gallows. Jack, whose back was towards it, did not see
it; but he heard, from the pitying exclamations of the crowd, that it
was in view. This circumstance produced no further alteration in his
demeanour except that he endeavoured to abstract himself from the
surrounding scene, and bend his attention to the prayers which the
ordinary was reciting.

Just as he had succeeded in fixing his attention, it was again shaken,
and he was almost unnerved by the sight of Mr. Wood, who was standing at
the edge of a raised platform, anxiously waving his hand to him.

Jack instantly sprang to his feet, and as his guards construed the
motion into an attempt to escape, several of them drew their swords and
motioned to him to sit down. But Jack did not heed them. His looks were
fixed on his old benefactor.

"God in Heaven bless you, unhappy boy!" cried. Wood, bursting into
tears, "God bless you!"

Jack extended his hand towards him, and looked anxiously for Thames; but
he was nowhere to be seen. A severe pang shot through Jack's heart, and
he would have given worlds if he possessed them to have seen his friend
once more. The wish was vain: and, endeavouring to banish every earthly
thought, he addressed himself deeply and sincerely to prayer.

While this was passing, Jonathan had ridden back to Marvel to tell him
that all was ready, and to give him his last instructions.

"You'll lose no time," said the thief-taker. "A hundred pounds if you do
it quickly."

"Rely on me," rejoined the executioner, throwing away his pipe, which
was just finished.

A deep dread calm, like that which precedes a thunderstorm, now
prevailed amongst the assemblage. The thousand voices which a few
moments before had been so clamorous were now hushed. Not a breath was
drawn. The troops had kept a large space clear around the gallows. The
galleries adjoining it were crowded with spectators,--so was the roof of
a large tavern, then the only house standing at the end of the Edgeware
Road,--so were the trees,--the walls of Hyde Park,--a neighbouring barn,
a shed,--in short, every available position.

The cart, meantime, had approached the fatal tree. The guards, horse and
foot, and constables formed a wide circle round it to keep off the mob.
It was an awful moment--so awful, that every other feeling except deep
interest in the scene seemed suspended.

At this terrible juncture, Jack maintained his composure,--a smile
played upon his face before the cap was drawn over it,--and the last
words he uttered were, "My poor mother! I shall soon join her!" The rope
was then adjusted, and the cart began to move.

The next instant, he was launched into eternity!

Scarcely had he been turned off a moment, when a man with swarthy
features leapt into the cart with an open clasp-knife in his hand, and,
before he could be prevented, severed the rope, and cut down the body.
It was Blueskin. His assistance came too late. A ball from Wild's pistol
passed through his heart, and a volley of musketry poured from the
guards lodged several balls in the yet breathing body of his leader.

Blueskin, however, was not unattended. A thousand eager assistants
pressed behind him. Jack's body was caught, and passed from hand to hand
over a thousand heads, till it was far from the fatal tree.

The shouts of indignation--the frightful yells now raised baffle
description. A furious attack was made on Jonathan, who, though he
defended himself like a lion, was desperately wounded, and would
inevitably have perished if he had not been protected by the guards,
who were obliged to use both swords and fire-arms upon the mob in his
defence. He was at length rescued from his assailants,--rescued to
perish, seven months afterwards, with every ignominy, at the very gibbet
to which he had brought his victim.

The body of Jack Sheppard, meanwhile, was borne along by that tremendous
host, which rose and fell like the waves of the ocean, until it
approached the termination of the Edgeware Road.

At this point a carriage with servants in sumptuous liveries was
stationed. At the open door stood a young man in a rich garb with a mask
on his face, who was encouraging the mob by words and gestures. At
length, the body was brought towards him. Instantly seizing it, the
young man placed it in the carriage, shut the door, and commanded his
servants to drive off. The order was promptly obeyed, and the horses
proceeded at a furious pace along the Edgeware Road.

Half an hour afterwards the body of Jack was carefully examined. It had
been cut down before life was extinct, but a ball from one of the
soldiers had pierced his heart.

Thus died Jack Sheppard.

That night a grave was dug in Willesden churchyard, next to that in
which Mrs. Sheppard had been interred. Two persons, besides the
clergyman and sexton, alone attended the ceremony. They were a young man
and an old one, and both appeared deeply affected. The coffin was
lowered into the grave, and the mourners departed. A simple wooden
monument was placed over the grave, but without any name or date. In
after years, some pitying hand supplied the inscription, which ran
thus--

[Illustration: JACK SHEPPARD]



THE END.





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