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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about Jack Sheppard.
snuff-box.  Next to the receiver was a gang of housebreakers, laughing over their exploits, and planning fresh depredations; and next to the housebreakers came two gallant-looking gentlemen in long periwigs and riding-dresses, and equipped in all other respects for the road, with a roast fowl and a bottle of wine before them.  Amid this varied throng,—­varied in appearance, but alike in character,—­one object alone, we have said, rivetted Mrs. Sheppard’s attention; and no sooner did she in some degree recover from the shock occasioned by the sight of her son’s debased condition, than, regardless of any other consideration except his instant removal from the contaminating society by which he was surrounded, and utterly forgetting the more cautious plan she meant to have adopted, she rushed into the room, and summoned him to follow her.

“Halloa!” cried Jack, looking round, and trying to fix his inebriate gaze upon the speaker,—­“who’s that?”

“Your mother,” replied Mrs. Sheppard.  “Come home directly, Sir.”

“Mother be——!” returned Jack.  “Who is it, Bess?”

“How should I know?” replied Edgeworth Bess.  “But if it is your mother, send her about her business.”

“That I will,” replied Jack, “in the twinkling of a bedpost.”

“Glad to see you once more in the Mint, Mrs. Sheppard,” roared Blueskin, who anticipated some fun.  “Come and sit down by me.”

“Take a glass of gin, Ma’am,” cried Poll Maggot, holding up a bottle of spirit; “it used to be your favourite liquor, I’ve heard.”

“Jack, my love,” cried Mrs. Sheppard, disregarding the taunt, “come away.”

“Not I,” replied Jack; “I’m too comfortable where I am.  Be off!”

“Jack!” exclaimed his unhappy parent.

“Mr. Sheppard, if you please, Ma’am,” interrupted the lad; “I allow nobody to call me Jack.  Do I, Bess, eh?”

“Nobody whatever, love,” replied Edgeworth Bess; “nobody but me, dear.”

“And me,” insinuated Mrs. Maggot.  “My little fancy man’s quite as fond of me as of you, Bess.  Ain’t you, Jacky darling?”

“Not quite, Poll,” returned Mr. Sheppard; “but I love you next to her, and both of you better than Her,” pointing with the pipe to his mother.

“Oh, Heavens!” cried Mrs. Sheppard.

“Bravo!” shouted Blueskin.  “Tom Sheppard never said a better thing than that—­ho! ho!”

“Jack,” cried his mother, wringing her hands in distraction, “you’ll break my heart!”

“Poh! poh!” returned her son; “women don’t so easily break their hearts.  Do they, Bess?”

“Certainly not,” replied the young lady appealed to, “especially about their sons.”

“Wretch!” cried Mrs. Sheppard, bitterly.

“I say,” retorted Edgeworth Bess, with a very unfeminine imprecation, “I shan’t stand any more of that nonsense.  What do you mean by calling me wretch, Madam!” she added marching up to Mrs. Sheppard, and regarding her with an insolent and threatening glance.

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