“Thames, I have much to say,” said Jack, “much that concerns your safety.”
“Not now,” returned Thames, impatiently. “I cannot—will not suffer you to remain here.”
“I will go, if you will consent to meet me at midnight near the old house in Wych Street,” replied Jack. “By that time, I shall have fully considered a plan which occurs to me for defeating the schemes of your enemies.”
“Before that time you will be captured, if you expose yourself thus,” rejoined Thames. “However, I will be there. Farewell.”
“Till midnight,” replied Jack.
And imprinting a kiss upon his mother’s cold lips, he left the room. He found the horse where Thames told him he would find him, mounted, and rode off across the fields in the direction of town.
The Well Hole.
Jonathan Wild’s first object, as soon as he had made good his retreat, was to ascertain what had become of his janizaries, and, if possible, to release them. With this view, he hurried to the spot where he had left the post-chaise, and found it drawn up at the road-side, the postilion dismounted, and in charge of a couple of farming-men. Advancing towards them, sword in hand, Jonathan so terrified the hinds by his fierce looks and determined manner, that, after a slight show of resistance, they took to their heels, leaving him master of the field. He then threw open the door of the vehicle, in which he found his janizaries with their arms pinioned, and, leaping into it, ordered the man to drive off. The postilion obeyed, and dashed off as hard as his horses could gallop along the beautiful road leading to Neasdon and Willesden, just as the serving-men made their appearance. Arrived at the latter place, Jonathan, who, meanwhile, had contrived to liberate his attendants from their bonds, drew up at the Six Bells, and hiring a couple of horses, despatched his attendants in search of Jack Sheppard, while he proceeded to town. Dismissing the post-chaise at the Old Bailey, he walked to Newgate to ascertain what had occurred since the escape. It was just upon the stroke of nine as he entered the Lodge, and Mr. Austin was dismissing a host of inquirers who had been attracted thither by the news,—for it had already been extensively noised abroad. Some of these persons were examining the spot where the spike had been cut off; others the spike itself, now considered a remarkable object; and all were marvelling how Jack could have possibly squeezed himself through such a narrow aperture, until it was explained to them by Mr. Austin that the renowned housebreaker was of slender bodily conformation, and therefore able to achieve a feat, which he, Mr. Austin, or any man of similar dimensions, would have found wholly impossible. Affixed to the wall, in a conspicuous situation, was a large placard, which, after minutely describing Sheppard’s appearance and attire, concluded thus:—“Whoever will discover or apprehend the above JOHN SHEPPARD, so that he be brought to justice, shall receive ONE HUNDRED GUINEAS REWARD, to be paid by MR. PITT, the keeper of Newgate.”