“I am at a loss to understand you Sir,”, said Trenchard.
“I’ll make myself intelligible before I’ve done,” rejoined Wild. “I need not remind you, Sir Rowland, that I am aware you are deeply implicated in the Jacobite plot which is now known to be hatching.”
“Ha!” ejaculated the other.
“Of course, therefore,” pursued Jonathan, “you are acquainted with all the leaders of the proposed insurrection,—nay, must be in correspondence with them.”
“What right have you to suppose this, Sir?” demanded Trenchard, sternly.
“Have a moment’s patience, Sir Rowland,” returned Wild; “and you shall hear. If you will furnish me with a list of these rebels, and with proofs of their treason, I will not only insure your safety, but will acquaint you with the real name and rank of your sister Aliva’s husband, as well as with some particulars which will never otherwise reach your ears, concerning your lost sister, Constance.”
“My sister Constance!” echoed the knight; “what of her?”
“You agree to my proposal, then?” said Jonathan.
“Do you take me for as great a villain as yourself, Sir?” said the knight, rising.
“I took you for one who wouldn’t hesitate to avail himself of any advantage chance might throw in his way,” returned the thief-taker, coldly. “I find I was in error. No matter. A time may come,—and that ere long,—when you will be glad to purchase my secrets, and your own safety, at a dearer price than the heads of your companions.”
“Are you ready?” said Trenchard, striding towards the door.
“I am,” replied Jonathan, following him, “and so,” he added in an undertone, “are your captors.”
A moment afterwards, they quitted the house.
After a few minutes’ rapid walking, during which neither party uttered a word, Jonathan Wild and his companion had passed Saint Paul’s, dived down a thoroughfare on the right, and reached Thames Street.
At the period of this history, the main streets of the metropolis were but imperfectly lighted, while the less-frequented avenues were left in total obscurity; but, even at the present time, the maze of courts and alleys into which Wild now plunged, would have perplexed any one, not familiar with their intricacies, to thread them on a dark night. Jonathan, however, was well acquainted with the road. Indeed, it was his boast that he could find his way through any part of London blindfolded; and by this time, it would seem, he had nearly arrived at his destination; for, grasping his companion’s arm, he led him along a narrow entry which did not appear to have an outlet, and came to a halt. Cautioning the knight, if he valued his neck, to tread carefully, Jonathan then descended a steep flight of steps; and, having reached the bottom in safety, he pushed open a door, that swung back on its hinges as soon as it had admitted him; and, followed by Trenchard, entered the night-cellar.