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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about Jack Sheppard.
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?”

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