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.