Jack Sheppard eBook

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

But this difficulty was only overcome to be succeeded by one still greater.  Hastening along the passage he came to the sixth door.  For this he was prepared; but he was not prepared for the almost insurmountable obstacles which it presented.  Running his hand hastily over it, he was startled to find it one complicated mass of bolts and bars.  It seemed as if all the precautions previously taken were here accumulated.  Any one less courageous than himself would have abandoned the attempt from a conviction of its utter hopelessness; but, though it might for a moment damp his ardour, it could not deter him.

Once again, he passed his hand over the surface and carefully noted all the obstacles.  There was a lock, apparently more than a foot wide, strongly plated, and girded to the door with thick iron hoops.  Below it a prodigiously large bolt was shot into the socket, and, in order to keep it there, was fastened by a hasp, and further protected by an immense padlock.  Besides this, the door was crossed and recrossed by iron bars, clenched by broad-headed nails.  An iron fillet secured the socket of the bolt and the box of the lock to the main post of the doorway.

Nothing disheartened by this survey, Jack set to work upon the lock, which he attacked with all his implements;—­now attempting to pick it with the nail;—­now to wrench it off with the bar:  but all without effect.  He not only failed in making any impression, but seemed to increase the difficulties, for after an hour’s toil he had broken the nail and slightly bent the iron bar.

Completely overcome by fatigue, with strained muscles, and bruised hands; streaming with perspiration, and with lips so parched that he would gladly have parted with a treasure if he had possessed it for a draught of water; he sank against the wall, and while in this state was seized with, a sudden and strange alarm.  He fancied that the turnkeys had discovered his flight and were in pursuit of him,—­that they had climbed up the chimney,—­entered the Red Room,—­tracked him from door to door, and were now only detained by the gate which he had left unbroken in the chapel.  He even thought he could detect the voice of Jonathan, urging and directing them.

So strongly was he impressed with this idea, that grasping the iron bar with both hands, he dashed it furiously against the door, making the passage echo with the blows.

By degrees, his fears vanished, and hearing nothing, he grew calmer.  His spirits revived, and encouraging himself with the idea that the present impediment, though the greatest, was the last, he set himself seriously to consider how it might best be overcome.

On reflection, it occurred to him that he might, perhaps, be able to loosen the iron fillet; a notion no sooner conceived than executed.  With incredible labour, and by the aid of both spike and nail, he succeeded in getting the point of the bar beneath the fillet.  Exerting all his energies, and using the bar as a lever, he forced off the iron band, which was full seven feet high, seven inches wide, and two thick, and which brought with it in its fall the box of the lock and the socket of the bolt, leaving no further hinderance.

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Jack Sheppard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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