“Who? Jack!” exclaimed Jonathan.
“Yesh,” replied Abraham. “I vent to de New Prish’n, and on wishitin’ his shel vid de turnkey, vot should ve find but de shains on de ground, de vinder broken, and Jack and Agevorth Besh gone.”
“Damnation!” cried Jonathan, stamping his foot with uncontrollable rage. “I’d rather have given a thousand pounds than this had happened. But he might have broken out of prison, and yet not got over the wall of Clerkenwell Bridewell. Did you search the yard, fool?”
“Ve did,” replied Abraham; “and found his fine goat and ruffles torn to shtrips on de shpikes near de creat cate. It vosh plain he vent dat vay.”
Jonathan gave utterance to a torrent of imprecations.
While he thus vented his rage, the door again opened, and Quilt Arnold rushed into the room, bleeding, and half-dressed.
“’Sblood! what’s this!” cried Jonathan, in the utmost surprise. “Quilt Arnold, is that you?”
“It is, Sir,” sputtered the janizary. “I’ve been robbed, maltreated, and nearly murdered by Jack Sheppard.”
“By Jack Sheppard!” exclaimed the thief-taker.
“Yes; and I hope you’ll take ample vengeance upon him,” said Quilt.
“I will, when I catch him, rely on it,” rejoined Wild.
“You needn’t go far to do that,” returned Quilt; “there he stands.”
“Ay, here I am,” said Jack, throwing off his hat and wig, and marching towards the group, amongst whom there was a general movement of surprise at his audacity. “Sir Rowland, I salute you as your nephew.”
“Back, villain!” said the knight, haughtily. “I disown you. The whole story of your relationship is a fabrication.”
“Time will show,” replied Jack with equal haughtiness. “But, however, it may turn out, I disown you.”
“Well, Jack,” said Jonathan, who had looked at him with surprise not unmixed with admiration, “you are a bold and clever fellow, I must allow. Were I not Jonathan Wild, I’d be Jack Sheppard. I’m almost sorry I’ve sworn to hang you. But, it can’t be helped. I’m a slave to my word. Were I to let you go, you’d say I feared you. Besides, you’ve secrets which must not be disclosed. Nab and Quilt to the door! Jack, you are my prisoner.”
“And you flatter yourself you can detain me?” laughed Jack.
“At least I’ll try,” replied Jonathan, sarcastically. “You must be a cleverer lad than even I take you for, if you get out of this place.”
“What ho! Blueskin!” shouted Jack.
“Here I am, Captain,” cried a voice from without. And the door was suddenly thrown open, and the two janizaries felled to the ground by the strong arm of the stalwart robber.
“Your boast, you see, was a little premature, Mr. Wild,” said Sheppard. “Adieu, my worthy uncle. Fortunately, I’ve secured the proof of my birth.”