“And leave you thus?” rejoined Jack. “I cannot do it.”
“Go, I insist,” cried Thames, “or take the consequences upon yourself. I cannot protect you.”
Thus urged, Jack reluctantly departed. Hastening to the spot where he had tied his horse to a tree, he vaulted into the saddle, and rode off across the fields,—for he was fearful of encountering the hostile party,—till he reached the Edgeware Road. Arrived at Paddington, he struck across Marylebone Fields,—for as yet the New Road was undreamed of,—and never moderated his speed until he reached the city. His destination was the New Mint. At this place of refuge, situated in the heart of Wapping, near the river-side, he arrived in less than an hour, in a complete state of exhaustion.
In consequence of the infamous abuse of its liberties, an act for the entire suppression of the Old Mint was passed in the ninth year of the reign of George the First, not many months before the date of the present epoch of this history; and as, after the destruction of Whitefriars, which took place in the reign of Charles the Second, owing to the protection afforded by its inmates to the Levellers and Fifth-monarchy-men, when the inhabitants of Alsatia crossed the water, and settled themselves in the borough of Southwark,—so now, driven out of their fastnesses, they again migrated, and recrossing the Thames, settled in Wapping, in a miserable quarter between Artichoke Lane and Nightingale Lane, which they termed the New Mint. Ousted from his old retreat, the Cross Shovels, Baptist Kettleby opened another tavern, conducted upon the same plan as the former, which he denominated the Seven Cities of Refuge. His subjects, however, were no longer entirely under his control; and, though he managed to enforce some little attention to his commands, it was evident his authority was waning fast. Aware that they would not be allowed to remain long unmolested, the New Minters conducted themselves so outrageously, and with such extraordinary insolence, that measures were at this time being taken for their effectual suppression.
To the Seven Cities of Refuge Jack proceeded. Having disposed of his steed and swallowed a glass of brandy, without taking any other refreshment, he threw himself on a couch, where he sank at once into a heavy slumber. When he awoke it was late in the day, and he was surprised to find Blueskin seated by his bed-side, watching over him with a drawn sword on his knee, a pistol in each hand, and a blood-stained cloth bound across his brow.
“Don’t disturb yourself,” said his follower, motioning him to keep still; “it’s all right.”
“What time is it?” inquired Jack.
“Past noon,” replied Blueskin. “I didn’t awake you, because you seemed tired.”
“How did you escape?” asked Sheppard, who, as he shook off his slumber, began to recall the events of the previous night.