All this was the work of a minute.
“No bones broken, I hope,” said Thames, laughing at Jack, who limped towards the bench, rubbing his shins as he went.
“All right,” replied Sheppard, with affected indifference.
“It’s a mercy you both escaped!” ejaculated Wood, only just finding his tongue. “I declare I’m all in a cold sweat. How came you, Sir,” he continued, addressing Sheppard, “to venture upon that frame. I always told you some accident would happen.”
“Don’t scold him, father,” interposed Thames; “he’s been frightened enough already.”
“Well, well, since you desire it, I’ll say no more,” returned Wood. “You hay’n’t hurt your arm, I trust, my dear?” he added, anxiously.
“Only sprained it a little, that’s all,” answered Thames; “the pain will go off presently.”
“Then you are hurt,” cried the carpenter in alarm. “Come down stairs directly, and let your mother look at your wrist. She has an excellent remedy for a sprain. And do you, Jack, attend to your work, and mind you don’t get into further mischief.”
“Hadn’t Jack better go with us?” said Thames. “His shin may need rubbing.”
“By no means,” rejoined Wood, hastily. “A little suffering will do him good. I meant to give him a drubbing. That bruise will answer the same purpose.”
“Thames,” said Sheppard in a low voice, as he threw a vindictive glance at the carpenter, “I shan’t forget this. You’ve saved my life.”
“Pshaw! you’d do as much for me any day, and think no more about it. It’ll be your turn to save mine next.”
“True, and I shan’t be easy till my turn arrives.”
“I tell you what, Jack,” whispered Thames, who had noticed Sheppard’s menacing glance, and dreaded some further indiscretion on his part, “if you really wish to oblige me, you’ll get that packing-case finished by six o’clock. You can do it, if you will.”
“And I will, if I can, depend upon it,” answered Sheppard, with a laugh.
So saying, he manfully resumed his work; while Wood and Thames quitted the room, and went down stairs.
Thames Darrell’s arm having been submitted to the scrutiny of Mrs. Wood, was pronounced by that lady to be very much sprained; and she, forthwith, proceeded to bathe it with a reddish-coloured lotion. During this operation, the carpenter underwent a severe catechism as to the cause of the accident; and, on learning that the mischance originated with Jack Sheppard, the indignation of his helpmate knew no bounds; and she was with difficulty prevented from flying to the workshop to inflict summary punishment on the offender.
“I knew how it would be,” she cried, in the shrill voice peculiar to a shrew, “when you brought that worthless hussy’s worthless brat into the house. I told you no good would come of it. And every day’s experience proves that I was right. But, like all your overbearing sex, you must have your own way. You’ll never be guided by me—never!”