“Oh, Peter!” he whispered, “speak! speak!”
“Not here, George,” I answered; “it would be of no avail—besides, I can say nothing to clear myself.”
“Nothing, George. This man was shot and killed in the Hollow—I found him lying dead—I found the empty pistol, and the Postilion, yonder, found me standing over the body. That is all I have to tell.”
“Peter,” said he, speaking hurriedly beneath his breath,
“Oh, Peter!—let’s run for it—’twould be main easy for the likes o’ you an’ me—”
“No, George,” I answered; “it would be worse than useless. But one thing I do ask of you—you who know me so much better than most—and it is, that you will bid me good-by, and—take my hand once more, George here before all these eyes that look upon me as a murderer, and—”
Before I had finished he had my hand in both of his—nay, had thrown one great arm protectingly about me.
“Why, Peter—” he began, in a strangely cracked voice, “oh! man as I love!—never think as I’d believe their lies, an’—Peter —such fighters as you an’ me! a match for double their number —let’s make a bolt for it—ecod! I want to hit somebody. Never doubt me, Peter—your friend—an’ they’d go over like skittles like skittles, Peter—”
The crowd, which had swelled momentarily, surged, opened, and a man on horseback pushed his way towards me, a man in some disorder of dress, as though he had clothed himself in a hurry.
Rough hands were now laid upon me; I saw George’s fist raised threateningly, but caught it in my grasp.
“Good-by,” said I, “good-by, George, and don’t look so downcast, man.” But we were forced apart, and I was pushed and pulled and hustled away, through a crowd of faces whose eyes damned me wherever I looked, along panelled passage ways, and into a long, dim room, where sat the gentleman I had seen on the horse, busily tying his cravat, to whom I delivered up the pistol, and answered divers questions as well as I might, and by whom, after much jotting of notes and memoranda, I was delivered over to four burly fellows, who, with deep gravity, and a grip much tighter than was necessary, once more led me out into the moonlit street, where were people who pressed forward to stare into my face, and people who leaned out of windows to stare down upon my head, and many more who followed at my heels.
And thus, in much estate, I ascended a flight of worn stone steps into the churchyard, and so—by a way of tombs and graves—came at last to the great square church-tower, into which I was incontinently thrust, and there very securely locked up.
THE BOW STREET RUNNERS