When about to retire to rest, the rencounter with Jack Sheppard again recurred to him, and he half blamed himself for not acquainting Mr. Wood with the circumstances, and putting him upon his guard against the possibility of an attack. On weighing the matter over, he grew so uneasy that he resolved to descend, and inform him of his misgivings. But, when he got to the door with this intention, he became ashamed of his fears; and feeling convinced that Jack—bad as he might be—was not capable of such atrocious conduct as to plunder his benefactor twice, he contented himself with looking to the priming of his pistols, and placing them near him, to be ready in case of need, he threw himself on the bed and speedily fell asleep.
The Burglary at Dollis Hill.
Thames Darrell’s fears were not, however, groundless. Danger, in the form he apprehended, was lurking outside: nor was he destined to enjoy long repose. On receiving the warning note from the ostler, Jack Sheppard and his companion left Willesden, and taking—as a blind—the direction of Harrow, returned at night-fall by a by-lane to Neasdon, and put up at a little public-house called the Spotted Dog. Here they remained till midnight when, calling for their reckoning and their steeds, they left the house.
It was a night well-fitted to their enterprise, calm, still, and profoundly dark. As they passed beneath the thick trees that shade the road to Dollis Hill, the gloom was almost impenetrable. The robbers proceeded singly, and kept on the grass skirting the road, so that no noise was made by their horses’ feet.
As they neared the house, Jack Sheppard, who led the way, halted and addressed his companion in a low voice:—
“I don’t half like this job, Blueskin,” he said; “it always went against the grain. But, since I’ve seen the friend and companion of my childhood, Thames Darrell, I’ve no heart for it. Shall we turn back?”
“And disappoint Mr. Wild, Captain?” remonstrated the other, in a deferential tone. “You know this is a pet project. It might be dangerous to thwart him.”
“Pish!” cried Jack: “I don’t value his anger a straw. All our fraternity are afraid of him; but I laugh at his threats. He daren’t quarrel with me: and if he does, let him look to himself. I’ve my own reasons for disliking this job.”
“Well, you know I always act under your orders, Captain,” returned Blueskin; “and if you give the word to retreat, I shall obey, of course: but I know what Edgeworth Bess will say when we go home empty-handed.”
“Why what will she say?” inquired Sheppard.
“That we were afraid,” replied the other; “but never mind her.”
“Ay; but I do mind her,” cried Jack upon whom his comrade’s observation had produced the desired effect. “We’ll do it.”
“That’s right, Captain,” rejoined Blueskin. “You pledged yourself to Mr. Wild—”