“She has suffered enough for you,” said Wood.
“She has, she has,” said Jack, in a broken voice.
“Weep on, reprobate,” cried the carpenter, a little softened. “Those tears will do you good.”
“Do not distress him, dear father,” said Winifred; “he suffers deeply. Oh, Jack! repent, while it is yet time, of your evil conduct. I will pray for you.”
“I cannot repent,—I cannot pray,” replied Jack, recovering his hardened demeanour. “I should never have been what I am, but for you.”
“How so?” inquired Winifred.
“I loved you,” replied Jack,—“don’t start—it is over now—I loved you, I say, as a boy. hopelessly, and it made me desperate. And now I find, when it is too late, that I might have deserved you—that I am as well born as Thames Darrell. But I mustn’t think of these things, or I shall grow mad. I have said your life is in danger, Thames. Do not slight my warning. Sir Rowland Trenchard is aware of your return to England. I saw him last night at Jonathan Wild’s, after my escape from the New Prison. He had just arrived from Manchester, whence he had been summoned by that treacherous thief-taker. I overheard them planning your assassination. It is to take place to-night.”
“O Heavens!” screamed Winifred, while her father lifted up his hands in silent horror.
“And when I further tell you,” continued Jack, “that, after yourself and my mother, I am the next heir to the estates of my grandfather, Sir Montacute Trenchard, you will perhaps own that my caution is sufficiently disinterested.”
“Could I credit your wild story, I might do so,” returned Thames, with a look of perplexity.
“Here are Jonathan Wild’s written instructions to Quilt Arnold,” rejoined Sheppard, producing the pocket-book he had found in the janizary’s clothes. “This letter will vouch for me that a communication has taken place between your enemies.”
Thames glanced at the despatch, and, after a moment’s reflection, inquired, “In what way is the attempt upon my life to be made?”
“That I couldn’t ascertain,” replied Jack; “but I advise you to be upon your guard. For aught I know, they may be in the neighbourhood at this moment.”
“Here!” ejaculated Wood, with a look of alarm. “Oh lord! I hope not.”
“This I do know,” continued Jack,—“Jonathan Wild superintends the attack.”
“Jonathan Wild!” repeated the carpenter, trembling. “Then it’s all over with us. Oh dear!—how sorry I am I ever left Wych Street. We may be all murdered in this unprotected place, and nobody be the wiser.”
“There’s some one in the garden at this moment,” cried Jack; “I saw a face at the window.”
“Where—where?” cried Thames.
“Don’t stir,” replied Jack. “I will at once convince you of the truth of my assertions, and ascertain whether the enemy really is at hand.”