“If I had, you’d not have seen me here,” replied Jack, sullenly. “The blood that has been spilt is that of his wife.”
“It was her own fault,” observed Blueskin, moodily. “She wouldn’t let me go. I did it in self-defence.”
“I care not why you did it,” said Jack, sternly. “We work together no more.”
“Come, come, Captain,” remonstrated Blueskin. “I thought you’d have got rid of your ill-humour by this time. You know as well as I do that it was accident.”
“Accident or not,” rejoined Sheppard; “you’re no longer pall of mine.”
“And so this is my reward for having made you the tip-top cracksman you are,” muttered Blueskin;—“to be turned off at a moment’s notice, because I silenced a noisy woman. It’s too hard. Think better of it.”
“My mind’s made up,” rejoined Jack, coldly,—“we part to-night.”
“I’ll not go,” answered the other. “I love you like a son, and will follow you like a dog. You’d not know what to do without me, and shan’t drive me off.”
“Well!” remarked Jonathan, who had paid little attention to the latter part of the conversation: “this is an awkward business certainly: but we must do the best we can in it. You must keep out of the way till it’s blown over. I can accommodate you below.”
“I don’t require it,” returned Sheppard. “I’m tired of the life I’m leading. I shall quit it and go abroad.”
“I’ll go with you,” said Blueskin.
“Before either of you go, you will ask my permission,” said Jonathan, coolly.
“How!” exclaimed Sheppard. “Do you mean to say you will interfere—”
“I mean to say this,” interrupted Wild, with contemptuous calmness, “that I’ll neither allow you to leave England nor the profession you’ve engaged in. I wouldn’t allow you to be honest even if you could be so,—which I doubt. You are my slave—and such you shall continue.’”
“Slave?” echoed Jack.
“Dare to disobey,” continued Jonathan: “neglect my orders, and I will hang you.”
Sheppard started to his feet.
“Hear me,” he cried, restraining himself with difficulty. “It is time you should know whom you have to deal with. Henceforth, I utterly throw off the yoke you have laid upon me. I will neither stir hand nor foot for you more. Attempt to molest me, and I split. You are more in my power than I am in yours. Jack Sheppard is a match for Jonathan Wild, any day.”
“That he is,” added Blueskin, approvingly.
Jonathan smiled contemptuously.
“One motive alone shall induce me to go on with you,” said Jack.
“What’s that?” asked Wild.
“The youth whom you delivered to Van Galgebrok,—Thames Darrell, is returned.”
“Impossible!” cried Jonathan. “He was thrown overboard, and perished at sea.”
“He is alive,” replied Jack, “I have seen him, and might have conversed with him if I had chosen. Now, I know you can restore him to his rights, if you choose. Do so; and I am yours as heretofore.”