“At least, I will hope so,” returned Winifred. “But, as I was saying, I was most dreadfully frightened on the night of the robbery! Though so young at the time, I remember every circumstance distinctly. I was sitting up, lamenting your departure, dear Thames, when, hearing an odd noise, I went to the landing, and, by the light of a dark lantern, saw Jack Sheppard, stealing up stairs, followed by two men with crape on their faces. I’m ashamed to say that I was too much terrified to scream out—but ran and hid myself.”
“Hold your tongue!” cried Mrs. Wood. “I declare you throw me into an ague. Do you think I forget it? Didn’t they help themselves to all the plate and the money—to several of my best dresses, and amongst others, to my favourite kincob gown; and I’ve never been able to get another like it! Marry, come up! I’d hang ’em all, if I could. Were such a thing to happen again, I’d never let Mr. Wood rest till he brought the villains to justice.”
“I hope such a thing never will happen again, my dear,” observed Wood, mildly, “but, when it does, it will be time to consider what course we ought to pursue.”
“Let them attempt it, if they dare!” cried Mrs. Wood, who had worked herself into a passion; “and, I’ll warrant ’em, the boldest robber among ’em shall repent it, if he comes across me.”
“No doubt, my dear,” acquiesced the carpenter, “no doubt.”
Thames, who had been more than once on the point of mentioning his accidental rencounter with Jack Sheppard, not being altogether without apprehension, from the fact of his being in the neighbourhood,—now judged it more prudent to say nothing on the subject, from a fear of increasing Mrs. Wood’s displeasure; and he was the more readily induced to do this, as the conversation began to turn upon his own affairs. Mr. Wood could give him no further information respecting Sir Rowland Trenchard than what he had obtained from Kneebone; but begged him to defer the further consideration of the line of conduct he meant to pursue until the morrow, when he hoped to have a plan to lay before him, of which he would approve.
The night was now advancing, and the party began to think of separating. As Mrs. Wood, who had recovered her good humour, quitted the room she bestowed a hearty embrace on Thames, and she told him laughingly, that she would “defer all she had to propose to him until to-morrow.”
To-morrow! She never beheld it.
After an affectionate parting with Winifred, Thames was conducted by the carpenter to his sleeping apartment—a comfortable cosy chamber; such a one, in short, as can only be met with in the country, with its dimity-curtained bed, its sheets fragrant of lavender, its clean white furniture, and an atmosphere breathing of freshness. Left to himself, he took a survey of the room, and his heart leaped as he beheld over the, chimney-piece, a portrait of himself. It was a copy of the pencil sketch taken of him nine years ago by Winifred, and awakened a thousand tender recollections.