“Give you the best I have in either case,” replied Figg. “Good-b’ye!” And with a cordial shake of the hand he took his departure.
Sir James Thornhill, then, rose.
“I won’t trouble you further, Jack,” he remarked. “I’ve done all I can to the portrait here. I must finish it at home.”
“Permit me to see it, Sir James!” requested Jack. “Ah!” he exclaimed, as the painting was turned towards him. “What would my poor mother say to it?”
“I was sorry to see that about your mother, Jack,” observed Hogarth.
“What of her?” exclaimed Jack, starting up. “Is she dead?”
“No—no,” answered Hogarth. “Don’t alarm yourself. I saw it this morning in the Daily Journal—an advertisement, offering a reward—”
“A reward!” echoed Jack. “For what?”
“I had the paper with me. ’Sdeath! what can I have done with it? Oh! here it is,” cried Hogarth, picking it from the ground. “I must have dropped it when I took out my note-book. There’s the paragraph. ’Mrs. Sheppard left Mr. Wood’s house at Dollis Hill on Tuesday’—that’s two days ago,—’hasn’t been heard of since.’”
“Let me see,” cried Jack, snatching the paper, and eagerly perusing the advertisement. “Ah!” he exclaimed, in a tone of anguish. “She has fallen into the villain’s hands.”
“What villain?” cried Hogarth.
“Jonathan Wild, I’ll be sworn,” said Gay.
“Right!—right!” cried Jack, striking his fettered hands against his breast. “She is in his power, and I am here, chained hand and foot, unable to assist her.”
“I could make a fine sketch of him now,” whispered Hogarth to Gay.
“I told you how it was, Sir James,” said Austin, addressing the knight, who was preparing for his departure, “he attributes every misfortune that befals him to Mr. Wild.”
“And with some justice,” replied Thornhill, drily.
“Allow me to assist you, Sir James,” said Hogarth.
“Many thanks, Sir,” replied Thornhill, with freezing politeness; “but Id not require assistance.”
“I tell you what, Jack,” said Gay, “I’ve several urgent engagements this morning; but I’ll return to-morrow, and hear the rest of your story. And, if I can render you any service, you may command me.”
“To-morrow will be too late,” said Sheppard, moodily.
The easel and palette having been packed up, and the canvass carefully removed by Austin, the party took leave of the prisoner, who was so much abstracted that he scarcely noticed their departure. Just as Hogarth got to the door, the turnkey stopped him.
“You have forgotten your knife, Mr. Hogarth,” he observed, significantly.
“So I have,” replied Hogarth, glancing at Sheppard.
“I can do without it,” muttered Jack.
The door was then locked, and he was left alone.
At three o’clock, on the same day, Austin brought up Jack’s provisions, and, after carefully examining his fetters, and finding all secure, told him if he wanted anything further he must mention it, as he should not be able to return in the evening, his presence being required elsewhere. Jack replied in the negative, and it required all his mastery over himself to prevent the satisfaction which this announcement afforded him from being noticed by the jailer.