“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.