“Propose it,” returned Blueskin, inclining his head.
“Square accounts with the rascal who got up the sham arrest; and, if he don’t tip the cole without more ado, give him a taste of the pump, that’s all.”
“He shall go through the whole course,” replied Blueskin, with a ferocious grin, “unless he comes down to the last grig. We’ll lather him with mud, shave him with a rusty razor, and drench him with aqua pompaginis. Master, your humble servant.—Gentlemen, your most obsequious trout.”
Having effected his object, which was to get rid of Blueskin, Baptist turned to Rowland and Sir Cecil, who had watched his proceedings with much impatience, and remarked, “Now, gentlemen, the coast’s clear; we’ve nothing to interrupt us. I’m entirely at your service.”
The Roof and the Window.
Leaving them to pursue their conference, we shall follow the footsteps of Jonathan, who, as the Master surmised, and, as we have intimated, had unquestionably entered the house. But at the beginning of the affray, when he thought every one was too much occupied with his own concerns to remark his absence, he slipped out of the room, not for the purpose of avoiding the engagement (for cowardice was not one of his failings), but because he had another object in view. Creeping stealthily up stairs, unmasking a dark lantern, and glancing into each room as he passed, he was startled in one of them by the appearance of Mrs. Sheppard, who seemed to be crouching upon the floor. Satisfied, however, that she did not notice him, Jonathan glided away as noiselessly as he came, and ascended another short flight of stairs leading to the garret. As he crossed this chamber, his foot struck against something on the floor, which nearly threw him down, and stooping to examine the object, he found it was a key. “Never throw away a chance,” thought Jonathan. “Who knows but this key may open a golden lock one of these days?” And, picking it up, he thrust it into his pocket.
Arrived beneath an aperture in the broken roof, he was preparing to pass through it, when he observed a little heap of tiles upon the floor, which appeared to have been recently dislodged. “He has passed this way,” cried Jonathan, exultingly; “I have him safe enough.” He then closed the lantern, mounted without much difficulty upon the roof, and proceeded cautiously along the tiles.
The night was now profoundly dark. Jonathan had to feel his way. A single false step might have precipitated him into the street; or, if he had trodden upon an unsound part of the roof, he must have fallen through it. He had nothing to guide him; for though the torches were blazing ruddily below, their gleam fell only on the side of the building. The venturous climber gazed for a moment at the assemblage beneath, to ascertain that he was not discovered; and, having satisfied himself in this particular, he stepped out