“Will you plead?” demanded Wild, harshly.
“I will,” answered the prisoner.
“Release him,” said Jonathan. “We have cured his obstinacy, you perceive,” he added to Marvel.
“I will live,” cried Blueskin, with a look of the deadliest hatred at Wild, “to be revenged on you.”
And, as the weights were removed, he fainted.
How Jack Sheppard’s Portrait was painted.
Early in the morning of Thursday, the 15th of October, 1724, the door of the Castle was opened by Austin, who, with a look of unusual importance, announced to the prisoner that four gentlemen were shortly coming up with the governor to see him,—“four such gentlemen,” he added, in a tone meant to impress his auditor with a due sense of the honour intended him, “as you don’t meet every day.”
“Is Mr. Wood among them?” asked Jack, eagerly.
“Mr. Wood!—no,” replied the turnkey. “Do you think I’d take the trouble to announce him? These are persons of consequence, I tell you.”
“Who are they?” inquired Sheppard.
“Why, first,” rejoined Austin, “there’s Sir James Thornhill, historical painter to his Majesty, and the greatest artist of the day. Those grand designs in the dome of St. Paul’s are his work. So is the roof of the state-room at Hampton Court Palace, occupied by Queen Anne, and the Prince of Denmark. So is the chapel of All Souls at Oxford, and the great hall at Blenheim, and I don’t know how many halls and chapels besides. He’s now engaged on the hall at Greenwich Hospital.”
“I’ve heard of him,” replied Jack, impatiently. “Who are the others?”
“Let me see. There’s a friend of Sir James—a young man, an engraver of masquerade tickets and caricatures,—his name I believe is Hogarth. Then, there’s Mr. Gay, the poet, who wrote the ‘Captives,’ which was lately acted at Drury Lane, and was so much admired by the Princess of Wales. And, lastly, there’s Mr. Figg, the noted prize-fighter, from the New Amphitheatre in Marylebone Fields.”
“Figg’s an old friend of mine,” rejoined Jack; “he was my instructor in the small sword and back sword exercise. I’m glad he’s come to see me.”
“You don’t inquire what brings Sir James Thornhill here?” said Austin.
“Curiosity, I suppose,” returned Jack, carelessly.
“No such thing,” rejoined the jailer; “he’s coming on business.”
“On what business, in the name of wonder?” asked Sheppard.
“To paint your portrait,” answered the jailer.
“My portrait!” echoed Jack.
“By desire of his Majesty,” said the jailer, consequentially. “He has heard of your wonderful escapes, and wishes to see what you’re like. There’s a feather in your cap! No house-breaker was ever so highly honoured before.”
“And have my escapes really made so much noise as to reach the ear of royalty?” mused Jack. “I have done nothing—nothing to what I could do—to what I will do!”