“Lemme go, Jem,” she cried, “an ey win do thee a good turn one o’ these days, when theaw may chonce to be i’ th’ same strait os me.” But seeing him inexorable, she added, “My granddame shan rack thy boans sorely, lad, for this.”
Jem replied by a coarse laugh of defiance, and, dragging her along, delivered her to Master Potts and the beadle, who were then hurrying to the other door of the church. To prevent interruption, the cunning attorney, having ascertained that the two Asshetons were inside, instantly gave orders to have both doors locked, and the injunctions being promptly obeyed, he took possession of the keys himself, chuckling at the success of the stratagem. “A fair reprisal,” he muttered; “this young milksop shall find he is no match for a skilful lawyer like me. Now, the cords—the cords!”
It was at the sight of the bonds, which were quickly brought by Baggiley, that Nance uttered the piercing cry that had roused Richard’s indignation. Feeling secure of his prisoner, and now no longer apprehensive of interruption, Master Potts was in no hurry to conclude the arrangements, but rather prolonged them to exasperate Richard. Little consideration was shown the unfortunate captive. The new shoes and stockings of which she had been so vain a short time before, were torn from her feet and limbs by the rude hands of the remorseless Jem and the beadle, and bent down by the main force of these two strong men, her thumbs and great toes were tightly bound together, crosswise, by the cords. The churchyard rang with her shrieks, and, with his blood boiling with indignation at the sight, Richard redoubled his exertions to burst through the window and fly to her assistance. But though Nicholas now lent his powerful aid to the task, their combined efforts to obtain liberation were unavailing; and with rage almost amounting to frenzy, Richard beheld the poor young woman borne shrieking away by her captors. Nor was Nicholas much less incensed, and he swore a deep oath when he did get at liberty that Master Potts should pay dearly for his rascally conduct.
CHAPTER VI.—THE ORDEAL BY SWIMMING.
Bound hand and foot in the painful posture before described, roughly and insolently handled on all sides, in peril of her life from the frightful ordeal to which she was about to be subjected, the miserable captive was borne along on the shoulders of Jem Device and Sparshot, her long, fine chestnut hair trailing upon the ground, her white shoulders exposed to the insolent gaze of the crowd, and her trim holiday attire torn to rags by the rough treatment she had experienced. Nance Redferne, it has been said, was a very comely young woman; but neither her beauty, her youth, nor her sex, had any effect upon the ferocious crowd, who were too much accustomed to such brutal and debasing exhibitions, to feel any thing but savage delight in the spectacle of a fellow-creature so scandalously