Jack Sheppard eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about Jack Sheppard.

Before the full sentence was carried into execution, he was taken into a small room adjoining the court.  Here Marvel, the executioner, who was in attendance, was commanded by Wild to tie his thumbs together, which he did with whipcord so tightly, that the string cut to the bone.  But, as this produced no effect, and did not even elicit a groan, the prisoner was carried back to Newgate.

The Press Room, to which Blueskin was conveyed on his arrival at the jail, was a small square chamber, walled and paved with stone.  In each corner stood a stout square post reaching to the ceiling.  To these a heavy wooden apparatus was attached, which could be raised or lowered at pleasure by pullies.  In the floor were set four ring-bolts, about nine feet apart.  When the prisoner was brought into this room, he was again questioned; but, continuing contumacious, preparations were made for inflicting the torture.  His great personal strength being so well known, it was deemed prudent by Marvel to have all the four partners, together with Caliban, in attendance.  The prisoner, however, submitted more quietly than was anticipated.  He allowed his irons and clothes to be taken off without resistance.  But just as they were about to place him on the ground, he burst from their hold, and made a desperate spring at Jonathan, who was standing with his arms folded near the door watching the scene.  The attempt was unsuccessful.  He was instantly overpowered, and stretched upon the ground.  The four men fell upon him, holding his arms and legs, while Caliban forced back his head.  In this state, he contrived to get the poor black’s hand into his mouth, and nearly bit off one of his fingers before the sufferer could be rescued.  Meanwhile, the executioner had attached strong cords to his ankles and wrists, and fastened them tightly to the iron rings.  This done, he unloosed the pulley, and the ponderous machine, which resembled a trough, slowly descended upon the prisoner’s breast.  Marvel, then, took two iron weights, each of a hundred pounds, and placed them in the press.  As this seemed insufficient, after a lapse of five minutes, he added another hundred weight.  The prisoner breathed with difficulty.  Still, his robust frame enabled him to hold out.  After he had endured this torture for an hour, at a sign from Wild another hundred weight was added.  In a few minutes, an appalling change was perceptible.  The veins in his throat and forehead swelled and blackened; his eyes protruded from their sockets, and stared wildly; a thick damp gathered on his brow:  and blood gushed from his mouth, nostrils, and ears.

“Water!” he gasped.

The executioner shook his head.

“Do you submit?” interrogated Wild.

Blueskin answered by dashing his head violently against the flagged floor.  His efforts at self-destruction were, however, prevented.

“Try fifty pounds more,” said Jonathan.

“Stop!” groaned Blueskin.

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Jack Sheppard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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