The chair, meanwhile, with its unhappy load, was transported at a brisk pace to Newgate. Arrived there, the porter thundered at the massive door of the Lodge, which was instantly opened—Shotbolt’s note having been received just before. All the turnkeys were assembled. Ireton and Langley had returned from a second unsuccessful search; Marvel had come thither to bid good-night to Mrs. Spurling; Austin had never quitted his post. The tapstress was full of curiosity; but she appeared more easy than the others. Behind her stood Caliban, chuckling to himself, and grinning from ear to ear.
“Well, who’d have thought of Shotbolt beating us all in this way!” said Ireton. “I’m sorry for old Newgate that another jail should have it. It’s infernally provoking.”
“Infernally provoking!” echoed Langley.
“Nobody has so much cause for complaint as me,” growled Austin. “I’ve lost my wager.”
“Twenty pounds,” rejoined Mrs. Spurling. “I witnessed the bet.”
“Here he is!” cried Ireton, as the knocking was heard without. “Get ready the irons, Caliban.”
“Wait a bit, massa,” replied the grinning negro,—“lilly bit—see all right fust.”
By this time, the chair had been brought into the Lodge.
“You’ve got him?” demanded Ireton.
“Safe inside,” replied the chairman, wiping the heat from his brow; “we’ve run all the way.”
“Where’s Mr. Shotbolt?” asked Austin.
“The gen’l’man’ll be here directly. He was detained. T’ other gen’l’man said the letter ’ud explain all.”
“Detained!” echoed Marvel. “That’s odd. But, let’s see the prisoner.”
The chair was then opened.
“Shotbolt! by—” cried Austin, as the captive was dragged forth. “I’ve won, after all.”
Exclamations of wonder burst from all. Mrs. Spurling bit her lips to conceal her mirth. Caliban absolutely crowed with delight.
“Hear the letter,” said Ireton, breaking the seal. “’This is the way in which I will serve all who attempt to apprehend me.’ It is signed JACK SHEPPARD.”
“And, so Jack Sheppard has sent back Shotbolt in this pickle,” said Langley.
“So it appears,” replied Marvel. “Untie his arms, and take off that handkerchief. The poor fellow’s half smothered.”
“I guess what share you’ve had in this,” whispered Austin to Mrs. Spurling.
“Never mind,” replied the tapstress. “You’ve won your wager.”
Half an hour after this occurrence, when it had been sufficiently laughed at and discussed; when the wager had been settled, and the chairman dismissed with the remaining three guineas, which Shotbolt was compelled to pay; Ireton arose, and signified his intention of stepping across the street to inform Mr. Wild of the circumstance.
“As it’s getting late, and the porter may be gone to bed,” he observed; “I’ll take the pass-key, and let myself in. Mr. Wild is sure to be up. He never retires to rest till daybreak—if at all. Come with me, Langley, and bring the lantern.”