Having made a hole in the wall sufficiently large to pass through, Jack first tossed the bar into the room and then crept after it. As soon as he had gained his feet, he glanced round the bare blank walls of the cell, and, oppressed by the musty, close atmosphere, exclaimed, “I’ll let a little fresh air into this dungeon. They say it hasn’t been opened for eight years—but I won’t be eight years in getting out of it.”
In stepping across the room, some sharp point in the floor pierced his foot, and stooping to examine it, he found that the wound had been inflicted by a long rusty nail, which projected from the boards. Totally disregarding the pain, he picked up the nail, and reserved it for future use. Nor was he long in making it available.
On examining the door, he found it secured by a large rusty lock, which he endeavoured to pick with the nail he had just acquired; but all his efforts proving ineffectual, he removed the plate that covered it with the bar, and with his fingers contrived to draw back the bolt.
Opening the door he then stepped into a dark narrow passage leading, as he was well aware, to the chapel. On the left there were doors communicating with the King’s Bench Ward and the Stone Ward, two large holds on the Master Debtors’ side. But Jack was too well versed in the geography of the place to attempt either of them. Indeed, if he had been ignorant of it, the sound of voices which he could faintly distinguish, would have served as a caution to him.
Hurrying on, his progress was soon checked by a strong door, several inches in thickness, and nearly as wide as the passage. Running his hand carefully over it in search of the lock, he perceived to his dismay that it was fastened on the other side. After several vain attempts to burst it open, he resolved, as a last alternative, to break through the wall in the part nearest to the lock. This was a much more serious task than he anticipated. The wall was of considerable thickness, and built altogether of stone; and the noise he was compelled to make in using the heavy bar, which brought sparks with every splinter he struck off, was so great, that he feared it must be heard by the prisoners on the Debtors’ side. Heedless, however, of the consequences, he pursued his task.
Half an hour’s labour, during which he was obliged more than once to pause to regain breath, sufficed to make a hole wide enough to allow a passage for his arm up to the elbow. In this way he was able to force back a ponderous bolt from its socket; and to his unspeakable joy, found that the door instantly yielded.
Once more cheered by daylight, he hastened forward, and entered the chapel.