Jack Sheppard eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 601 pages of information about Jack Sheppard.

When he awoke it was late in the day, and raining heavily.  For some time he could not stir, but felt sick and exhausted.  His legs were dreadfully swelled; his hands bruised; and his fetters occasioned him intolerable pain.  His bodily suffering, however, was nothing compared with his mental anguish.  All the events of the previous day rushed to his recollection; and though he had been unintentionally the cause of his mother’s death, he reproached himself as severely as if he had been her actual murderer.

“Had I not been the guilty wretch I am,” he cried, bursting into an agony of tears, “she would never have died thus.”

This strong feeling of remorse having found a natural vent, in some degree subsided, and he addressed himself to his present situation.  Rousing himself, he went to the door.  It had ceased raining, but the atmosphere was moist and chill, and the ground deluged by the recent showers.  Taking up a couple of large stones which lay near, Jack tried to beat the round basils of the fetters into an oval form, so as to enable him to slip his heels through them.

While he was thus employed a farming man came into the barn.  Jack instantly started to his feet, and the man, alarmed at his appearance, ran off to a neighbouring house.  Before he could return, Jack had made good his retreat; and, wandering about the lanes and hedges, kept out of sight as much as possible.

On examining his pockets, he found about twenty guineas in gold, and some silver.  But how to avail himself of it was the question, for in his present garb he was sure to be recognised.  When night fell, he crept into the town of Tottenham.  As he passed along the main thoroughfare, he heard his own name pronounced, and found that it was a hawker, crying a penny history of his escapes.  A crowd was collected round the fellow, who was rapidly disposing of his stock.

“Here’s the full, true, and particular account of Jack Sheppard’s last astonishing and never-to-be-forgotten escape from the Castle of Newgate,” bawled the hawker, “with a print of him taken from the life, showing the manner, how he was shackled and handcuffed.  Only one penny—­two copies—­two pence—­thank you, Sir.  Here’s the——­”

“Let me have one,” cried a servant maid, running across the street, and in her haste forgetting to shut the door,—­“here’s the money.  Master and missis have been talking all day long about Jack Sheppard, and I’m dying to read his life.”

“Here you have it, my dear,” returned the hawker.  “Sold again!”

“If you don’t get back quickly, Lucy,” observed a bystander, “Jack Sheppard will be in the house before you.”

This sally occasioned a general laugh.

“If Jack would come to my house, I’d contrive to hide him,” remarked a buxom dame.  “Poor fellow!  I’m glad he has escaped.”

“Jack seems to be a great favourite with the fair sex,” observed a smirking grocer’s apprentice.

Project Gutenberg
Jack Sheppard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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