“Yes—what do you mean, Ma’am?” added Jack, staggering after her.
“Come with me, my love, come—come,” cried his mother, seizing his hand, and endeavouring to force him away.
“He shan’t go,” cried Edgeworth Bess, holding him by the other hand. “Here, Poll, help me!”
Thus exhorted, Mrs. Maggot lent her powerful aid, and, between the two, Jack was speedily relieved from all fears of being carried off against his will. Not content with this exhibition of her prowess, the Amazon lifted him up as easily as if he had been an infant, and placed him upon her shoulders, to the infinite delight of the company, and the increased distress of his mother.
“Now, let’s see who’ll dare to take him down,” she cried.
“Nobody shall,” cried Mr. Sheppard from his elevated position. “I’m my own master now, and I’ll do as I please. I’ll turn cracksman, like my father—rob old Wood—he has chests full of money, and I know where they’re kept—I’ll rob him, and give the swag to you, Poll—I’ll—”
Jack would have said more; but, losing his balance, he fell to the ground, and, when taken up, he was perfectly insensible. In this state, he was laid upon a bench, to sleep off his drunken fit, while his wretched mother, in spite of her passionate supplications and resistance, was, by Blueskin’s command, forcibly ejected from the house, and driven out of the Mint.
The Robbery in Willesden Church.
During the whole of the next day and night, the poor widow hovered like a ghost about the precincts of the debtors’ garrison,—for admission (by the Master’s express orders,) was denied her. She could learn nothing of her son, and only obtained one solitary piece of information, which added to, rather than alleviated her misery,—namely, that Jonathan Wild had paid a secret visit to the Cross Shovels. At one time, she determined to go to Wych Street, and ask Mr. Wood’s advice and assistance, but the thought of the reception she was likely to meet with from his wife deterred her from executing this resolution. Many other expedients occurred to her; but after making several ineffectual attempts to get into the Mint unobserved, they were all abandoned.
At length, about an hour before dawn on the second day—Sunday—having spent the early part of the night in watching at the gates of the robbers’ sanctuary, and being almost exhausted from want of rest, she set out homewards. It was a long walk she had to undertake, even if she had endured no previous fatigue, but feeble as she was, it was almost more than she could accomplish. Daybreak found her winding her painful way along the Harrow Road; and, in order to shorten the distance as much as possible, she took the nearest cut, and struck into the meadows on the right. Crossing several fields, newly mown, or filled with lines of tedded hay, she arrived, not without great exertion, at the summit of a hill. Here her strength completely failed her, and she was compelled to seek some repose. Making her couch upon a heap of hay, she sank at once into a deep and refreshing slumber.