As he arose, with the intention of returning to Wood Street, he observed an extraordinary light in the sky a little to the left, evidently produced by the reflection of a great fire in that direction. On beholding this light, he said to himself, “Mr. Bloundel was right. This is the danger with which the city is threatened. It is now too late to avert it.” Determined, however, to ascertain the extent of the calamity without an instant’s loss of time, he set off at a swift pace, and in less than half an hour reached Fish Street Hill, and stood beside the conflagration. It was then nearly three o’clock, and a vast chasm of blackening ruins proclaimed the devastation that had been committed. Just as he arrived, the roof of Saint Margaret’s fell in with a tremendous crash, and for a few minutes the fire was subdued. It then arose with greater fury than ever; burst out on both sides of the sacred structure, and caught the line of houses leading towards London Bridge. The first house was that of a vintner; and the lower part of the premises—the cellars and vaults—were filled with wine and spirits. These instantly blazed up, and burnt with such intensity that the adjoining habitation was presently in flames.
“I know who hath done all this!” exclaimed Leonard, half involuntarily, as he gazed on the work of destruction.
“Indeed!” exclaimed a bystander, gazing at him. “Who is it?—the Dutchman or the Frenchman?”
“Neither,” replied Leonard, who at that moment discovered Grant among the group opposite him. “Yonder stands the incendiary!”
PROGRESS OF THE FIRE.
Instantly surrounded and seized by the mob, Grant offered no resistance, but demanded to be led with his accuser before a magistrate. Almost as the words were uttered, a cry was raised that the lord mayor and the sheriffs were coming along East-cheap, and the prisoner and Leonard were immediately hurried off in that direction. They met the civic authorities at the corner of Saint Clement’s-lane; but instead of paying any attention to them, the lord mayor, who appeared to be in a state of great agitation and excitement, ordered the javelin-men, by whom he was attended, to push the mob aside.
“I will not delay your worship an instant,” cried Leonard; “but this dreadful fire is the work of incendiaries, of whom that man,” pointing to Grant, “is the principal. I pray your worship to question him. He may have important revelations to make.”
“Eh, what?” cried the lord mayor, addressing Grant. “Is it true you are an incendiary? Who are your accomplices? Where are they?”
“I have none,” replied Grant, boldly—“I deny the charge altogether. Let my accuser prove it if he can.”
“You hear what he says, young man,” said the mayor. “Did you see him set fire to any house? Did you find any fire-balls on his person?”
“I did not,” replied Leonard.