Jack Sheppard eBook

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

The object of all this tumult, meanwhile, never altered his position, but sat back in the cart, as if resolved not to make even a struggle to regain his liberty.

The procession now wound its way, without further interruption, along Holborn.  Like a river swollen by many currents, it gathered force from the various avenues that poured their streams into it.  Fetter Lane, on the left, Gray’s Inn, on the right, added their supplies.  On all hands Jack was cheered, and Jonathan hooted.

At length, the train approached St. Giles’s.  Here, according to another old custom, already alluded to, a criminal taken to execution was allowed to halt at a tavern, called the Crown, and take a draught from St. Giles’s bowl, “as his last refreshment on earth.”  At the door of this tavern, which was situated on the left of the street, not more than a hundred yards distant from the church, the bell of which began to toll as soon as the procession came in sight, the cart drew up, and the whole cavalcade halted.  A wooden balcony in one of the adjoining houses was thronged with ladies, all of whom appeared to take a lively interest in the scene, and to be full of commiseration for the criminal, not, perhaps, unmixed with admiration of his appearance.  Every window in the public house was filled with guests; and, as in the case of St. Andrew’s, the churchyard wall of St. Giles’s was lined with spectators.

A scene now ensued, highly characteristic of the age, and the occasion.  The doleful procession at once assumed a festive character.  Many of the soldiers dismounted, and called for drink.  Their example was immediately imitated by the officers, constables, javelin men, and other attendants; and nothing was to be heard but shouts of laughter and jesting,—­nothing seen but the passing of glasses, and the emptying of foaming jugs.  Mr. Marvel, who had been a little discomposed by the treatment he had experienced on Holborn Hill, very composedly filled and lighted his pipe.

One group at the door attracted Jack’s attention, inasmuch as it was composed of several of his old acquaintances—­Mr. Kneebone, Van Galgebrok, and Baptist Kettleby—­all of whom greeted him cordially.  Besides these, there was a sturdy-looking fellow, whom he instantly recognised as the honest blacksmith who had freed him from his irons at Tottenham.

“I am here, you see,” said the smith.

“So I perceive,” replied Jack.

At this moment, the landlord of the Crown, a jovial-looking stout personage, with a white apron round his waist, issued from the house, bearing a large wooden bowl filled with ale, which he offered to Jack, who instantly rose to receive it.  Raising the bowl in his right hand, Jack glanced towards the balcony, in which the group of ladies were seated, and begged to drink their healths; he then turned to Kneebone and the others, who extended their hands towards him, and raised it to his lips.  Just as he was about to drain it, he encountered the basilisk glance of Jonathan Wild, and paused.

Project Gutenberg
Jack Sheppard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook