“Come, jump up,” cried Blueskin, mounting his steed, “and I’ll soon wisk you to town. Edgeworth Bess and Poll Maggot are dying to see you. I thought Bess would have cried her pretty eyes out when she heard you was nabbed. You need give yourself no more concern about Kneebone. Mr. Wild has done his business.”
“Ay—ay,” laughed Jonathan. “The pocket-book you prigged contained the letters I wanted. He’s now in spring-ankle warehouse with Sir Rowland Trenchard. So get up, and let’s be off.”
“Before I leave this place, I must see my mother.”
“Nonsense,” returned Jonathan gruffly. “Would you expose yourself to fresh risk? If it hadn’t been for her you wouldn’t have been placed in your late jeopardy.”
“I don’t care for that,” replied Jack. “See her I will. Leave me behind: I’m not afraid. I’ll be at the Cross Shovels in the course of the day.”
“Nay, if you’re bent upon this folly,” observed Wild, who appeared to have his own reasons for humouring the lad, “I shan’t hinder you. Blueskin will take care of the horses, and I’ll go with you.”
So saying, he dismounted; and flinging his bridle to his companion, and ordering him to ride off to a little distance, he followed Jack, who had quitted the main road, and struck into a narrow path opposite the cage. This path, bordered on each side by high privet hedges of the most beautiful green, soon brought them to a stile.
“There’s the house,” said Jack, pointing to a pretty cottage, the small wooden porch of which was covered with roses and creepers, with a little trim garden in front of it. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Don’t hurry yourself,” said Jonathan, “I’ll wait for you here.”
Good and Evil.
As Jack opened the gate, and crossed the little garden, which exhibited in every part the neatness and attention of its owner, he almost trembled at the idea of further disturbing her peace of mind. Pausing with the intention of turning back, he glanced in the direction of the village church, the tower of which could just be seen through the trees. The rooks were cawing amid the boughs, and all nature appeared awaking to happiness. From this peaceful scene Jack’s eye fell upon Jonathan, who, seated upon the stile, under the shade of an elder tree, was evidently watching him. A sarcastic smile seemed to play upon the chief-taker’s lips; and abashed at his own irresolution, the lad went on.
After knocking for some time at the door without effect, he tried the latch, and to his surprise found it open. He stepped in with a heavy foreboding of calamity. A cat came and rubbed herself against him as he entered the house, and seemed by her mewing to ask him for food. That was the only sound he heard.
Jack was almost afraid of speaking; but at length he summoned courage to call out “Mother!”