How Jack Sheppard was again captured.
Jack Sheppard, after whistling to Blueskin, hurried down a short thoroughfare leading from Wych Street to the back of Saint Clement’s Church, where he found Thames Darrell, who advanced to meet him.
“I was just going,” said Thames. “When I parted from you at Mr. Kneebone’s door, you begged me to await your return here, assuring me you would not detain me five minutes. Instead of which, more than half an hour has elapsed.”
“You won’t complain of the delay when I tell you what I’ve done,” answered Jack. “I’ve obtained two packets, containing letters from Sir Rowland Trenchard, which I’ve no doubt will establish your title to the estates. Take them, and may they prove as serviceable to you as I desire.”
“Jack,” replied Thames, greatly moved, “I wish I could devise any means of brightening your own dark prospects.”
“That’s impossible,” replied Jack. “I am utterly lost.”
“Not utterly,” rejoined the other.
“Utterly,” reiterated Jack, gloomily,—“as regards all I hold dear. Listen to me, Thames. I’m about to leave this country for ever. Having ascertained that a vessel sails for France from the river at daybreak to-morrow morning, I have secured a passage in her, and have already had the few effects I possess, conveyed on board. Blueskin goes with me. The faithful fellow will never leave me.”
“Never, while I’ve breath in my body, Captain,” rejoined Blueskin, who had joined them. “England or France, London or Paris, it’s all one to me, so I’ve you to command me.”
“Stand out of earshot,” rejoined his leader. “I’ll call you when you’re wanted.”
And Blueskin withdrew.
“I cannot but approve the course you are about to take, Jack,” said Thames, “though on some accounts I regret it. In after years you can return to your own country—to your friends.”
“Never,” replied Sheppard bitterly. “My friends need not fear my return. They shall hear of me no more. Under another name,—not my own hateful one,—I will strive to distinguish myself in some foreign service, and win myself a reputation, or perish honourably. But I will never—never return.”
“I will not attempt to combat your resolution, Jack,” returned Thames, after a pause. “But I dread the effect your departure may have upon your poor mother. Her life hangs upon a thread, and this may snap it.”
“I wish you hadn’t mentioned her,” said Jack, in a broken voice, while his whole frame shook with emotion. “What I do is for the best, and I can only hope she may have strength to bear the separation. You must say farewell to her, for I cannot. I don’t ask you to supply my place—for that is, perhaps, impossible. But, be like a son to her.”
“Do not doubt me,” replied Thames, warmly pressing his hand.