“Oh God! she is dying,” exclaimed Jack in a voice suffocated by emotion. “Forgive me—oh, forgive me!”
“Forgive you—bless you!” she gasped.
A cold shiver ran through her frame, and her gentle spirit passed away for ever.
“Oh, God! that I might die too,” cried Jack, falling on his knees beside her.
After the first violent outbreak of grief had in some degree subsided, Thames addressed him.
“You must not remain here,” he said. “You can render no further service to your poor mother.”
“I can avenge her,” cried Jack in a terrible tone.
“Be ruled by me,” returned Thames. “You will act most in accordance with her wishes, could she dictate them, by compliance. Do not waste time in vain regrets, but let us remove the body, that we may fulfil her last injunctions.”
After some further arguments, Jack assented to this proposal.
“Go on first with the light,” he said. “I will bear the body.” And he raised it in his arms.
Just as they reached the end of the passage, they heard the voices of Jonathan and the Jew in Thames’s late place of confinement. Wild had evidently discovered the body of Quilt Arnold, and was loudly expressing his anger and astonishment.
“Extinguish the light,” cried Jack; “turn to the left. Quick! Quick!”
The order was only just given in time. They had scarcely gained the adjoining cellar when Jonathan and the Jew rushed past in the direction of the vault.
“Not a moment is to be lost,” cried Jack: “follow me.”
So saying, he hurried up stairs, opened the back door, and was quickly in the yard. Having ascertained that Thames was at his heels, he hurried with his ghastly burthen down Seacoal Lane.
“Where are you going?” cried Thames, who, though wholly disencumbered, was scarcely able to keep up with him.
“I know not—and care not,” replied Jack.
At this moment, a coach passed them, and was instantly hailed by Thames.
“You had better let me convey her to Dollis Hill,” he said.
“Be it so,” replied Jack.
Luckily it was so dark, and there was no lamp near, that the man did not notice the condition of the body, which was placed in the vehicle by the two young men.
“What will you do?” asked Thames.
“Leave me to my fate,” rejoined Jack. “Take care of your charge.”
“Doubt me not,” replied Thames.
“Bury her in Willesden churchyard, as she requested, on Sunday,” said Jack. “I will be there at the time.”
So saying, he closed the door.
The coachman having received his order, and being offered an extra fare if he drove quickly, set off at full speed.
As Jack departed, a dark figure, emerging from behind a wall, rushed after him.