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Mr. Wood then led the way up a rather high and, according to mo. dern notions, incommodious flight of steps, and introduced his guest to a neat parlour, the windows of which were darkened by pots of flowers and creepers. There was no light in the room; but, notwithstanding this, the young man did not fail to detect the buxom figure of Mrs. Wood, now more buxom and more gorgeously arrayed than ever, -as well as a young and beautiful female, in whom he was at no loss to recognise the carpenter's daugh:er.
Winifred Wood was now in her twentieth year. Her features were still slightly marked by the disorder alluded to in the description of her as a child,—but that was the only drawback to her beauty. Their ex. pression was so amiable, that it would have redeemed a countenance a thousand times plainer than hers. Her figure was perfect,—all, grace. ful, rounded,—and then, she had deep liquid blue eyes, that rivalled the stars in lustre. On the stranger's appearance, she was seated near the window busily occupied with her needle.
“My wife and daughter, sir," said the carpenter, introducing them to his guest.
Mrs. Wood, whose admiration for masculine beauty was by no means abated, glanced at the well-proportioned figure of the young man, and made him a very civil salutation. Winifred's reception was kind, but more distant, and after the slight ceremonial she resumed her occupation.
" This gentleman brings us tidings of an old friend, my dear," said the carpenter.
" Ay, indeed! And who may that be?" inquired his wife.
"One whom you may perhaps have forgotten," replied the stranger, " but who can never forget the kindness he experienced at your hands, or at those of your excellent husband."
At the sound of his voice every vestige of colour fled from Winifred's cheeks, and the work upon which she was engaged fell from her hand.
“ I have a token to deliver to you," continued the stranger, addressing her.
" To me?" gasped Winifred.
“ This locket,” he said, taking a little ornament attached to a black riband from his brcast, and giving it to her,—" do you remember it ?" “I do. I do!” cried Winifred.
What's ah this?” exclaimed Wood, in amazement.
· Do you not know me, father ?" said the young man, advancing to. wards him, and warmly grasping his hand. “Have nine years so changed me, that there is no trace left of your adopted son ?"
"God bless me!" ejaculated the carpenter, rubbing his eyes, "cancan it be?"
"Surely,' screamed Mrs. Wood, joining the group, “it isn't Thames Darrell come to life again ?”
" It is—it is !” cried Winifred, rushing towards him, and flinging her arms round his neck,—“it is my dear-dear brother !"
“Well, this is what I never expected to see," said the carpenter, wiping his eyes ; "I hope I'm not dreaming! Thames, my dear boy, as soon as Winny has done with you, let me embrace you."
• My turn comes before yours, sir,” interposed his better half. “Come to my arms, Thames ! Oh! dear! Oh! dear!"
To repeat the questions and congratulations which now ensued, or describe the extravagant joy of the carpenter, who, after he had hugged his adopted son to his breast with such warmth as almost to squeeze
the breath from his body, capered round the room, threw his wig into the empty fire-grate, and committed various other fantastic actions, in order to get rid of his superfluous satisfaction—to describe the scarcely less extravagant raptures of his spouse, or the more subdued, but not less heartfelt delight of Winifred, would be a needless task, as it must occur to every one's imagination. Supper was quickly served; the oldest bottle of wine was brought from the cellar; the strongest barrel of ale was tapped ; but not one of the party could eat or drink—their hearts were too full.
Thames sat with Winifred's hand clasped in his own, and commen. ced a recital of his adventures, which may be briefly told. Carried out to sea by Van Galgebrok, and thrown overboard, while struggling with the waves, he had been picked up by a French fishing boat, and carried to Ostend. After encountering various hardships and privations for a long term, during which he had no means of communicating with England, he at length found his way to Paris, where he was taken notice of by Cardinal Dubois, who employed him as one of his secre. taries, and subsequently advanced to the service of Philip of Orleans, from whom he received a commission. On the death of his royal patron, he resolved to return to his own country; and after various de. lays, which had postponed it to the present time, he had succeeded in accomplishing his object.
Winifred listened to his narration with the profoundest attention ; and when it concluded, her tearful eye and throbbing bosom told how deeply her feelings had been interested.
The discourse then turned to Darrell's old play.mate, Jack Sheppard ; and Mr. Wood, in deploring his wild career, adverted to the melancholy condition to which it had reduced his mother.
"For my part, it's only what I expected of him," observed Mrs. Wood, " and I am sorry and surprised he hasn't swung for his crimes before this. The gallows has groaned for him for years. As to his mother, I've no pity for her. She deserves what has befallen her.”
" Dear mother, don't say so," returned Winifred. "One of the eon. sequences of criminal conduct, is the shame and disgrace which—worse than any punishment the evil-doer can-suffer—is brought by it upon the
innocent relatives; and if Jack had considered this, perhaps he would not have acted as he has done, and have entailed so much misery on his unhappy parent."
“ I always detested Mrs. Sheppard,” cried the carpenter's wife, bitterly ; "and, I repeat, Bedlam's too good for her.”
“ My dear,” observed Wood, “ you should be more charitable”
“ Charitable !" repeated his wife, " that's your constant cry. Marry, come up! I've been a great deal too charitable. Here's Winny al. ways urging you to go and visit Mrs. Sheppard in the asylum, and take her this, and send her that ;-and I've never prevented you, though such mistaken liberality 's enough to provoke a saint. And then, forsooth, she must needs prevent your hanging Jack Sheppard after the robbery in Wych-Street, when you might have done so. Perhaps you'll call that charity; I call it defeating the ends of justice. See what a horrible rascal you've let loose upon the world !” " I'm sure, mother,” rejoined Winifred, " if any one was likely to feel resentment, I was ; for no one could be more frightened. But I was sorry
Jack—as I am still, and hoped he would mend.” “ Mend!" echoed Mrs. Wood, contemptuously, “ he'll never mend till he comes to Tyburn."
“ At least, I will hope so," returned Winifred. - But, as I was say. ing, I was most dreadfully frightened on the night of the robbery. Though so young at the time, I remember every circumstance dis. tinctly. I was sitting up, lamenting your departure, dear Thames, when, hearing an odd noise, I went to the landing, and, by the light of a dark lantern, saw Jack Sheppard stealing up stairs, followed by two men with crape on their faces. I'm ashamed to say that I was too much terrified to scream out—but ran and hid myself.”
“ Hold your tongue !" cried Mrs. Wood. “ I declare you throw me into an ague. Do you think I forget it? Didn't they help themselves to all the plate and the money—to several of my best dresses, and, amongst others, to my favourite kincob gown; and I've never been able to get another like it ! Marry, come up! I'd hang 'em all, if I could. Were such a thing to happen again, I'd never let Mr. Wood rest till he brought the villains to justice.”
“ I hope such a thing never will happen again, my dear,” observed Wood, mildly ; " but, when it does, it will be time to consider what course we ought to pursue.”
“Let them attempt it, if they dare !” cried Mrs. Wood, who had worked herself into a passion ; " and, I'll warrant’em, the boldest rob. ber among 'em all shall repent it, if he comes across me.”
“No doubt, my dear,” acquiesced the carpenter,“ no doubt.”
Thames, who had been more than once on the point of mentioning his accidental rencounter with Jack Sheppard, not being altogether without apprehension, from the fact of his being in the neighbourhood,
now judged it more prudent to say nothing on the subject, from a fear of increasing Mrs. Wood's displeasure ; and he was the more readily induced to do this, as the conversation began to turn upon his own affairs. Mr. Wood could give him no further information respecting Sir Rowland Trenchard than what he had obtained from Kneebone ; but begged him to defer the further consideration of the line of conduct he meant to pursue until the morrow, when he hoped to have a plan to lay before him, of which he would approve.
The night was now advancing, and the party began to think of sepa. rating. As Mrs. Wood, who had recovered her good-humour, quitted the room, she bestowed a hearty embrace on Thames, and told him, laughingly, that she would "defer all she had to propose to him until to-morrow.”
To-morrow! She never beheld it.
After an affectionate parting with Winifred, Thames was conducted by the carpenter to his sleeping apartment--a comfortable cosy cham. ber; such a one, in short, as can only be met with in the country, with its dimity.curtained bed, its sheets fragrant of lavender, its clean white furniture, and an atmosphere breathing of freshness. Left to himself, he took a survey of the room, and his heart leaped as he beheld over the chimney-piece a portrait of himself. It was a copy of the pencil sketch taken of him nine years ago by Winifred, and awakened a thou. sand tender recollections.
When about to retire to rest, the rencounter with Jack Sheppard again recurred to him, and he half blamed himself for not acquainting Mr. Wood with the circumstance, and putting him upon his guard against the possibility of an attack. On weighing the matter over, he grew so uneasy that he resolved to descend, and inform him of his mis. giving. But, when he got to the door with this intention, he became ashamed of his fears; and feeling convinced that Jack--bad as he might be-was not capable of such atrocious conduct as to plunder his benefactor twice, he contented himself with looking to the priming of his pistols, and placing them near him, to be ready in case of need, he threw himself on the bed, and speedily fell asleep.
THE BURGLARY AT DOLLIS HILL.
ThanES DARRELL's fears were not, however, groundless. Dan. ger, in the form he apprehended, was lurking outside : nor was he destined to enjoy long repose. On receiving the warning note from the ostler, Jack Sheppard and his companion left Willesden, and taking—as a blind—the direction of Harrow, returned at nightfall by a by-lane to Neasdon, and put up at a little
public-house called the Spotted Dog. Here they remained till mid. night, when, calling for their reckoning and their steeds, they left the house.
It was a night well-fitted to their enterprise-calm, still, and pro. foundly dark. As they passed beneath the thick trees that shade the road to Dollis Hill, the gloom was almost impenetrable. The robbers proceeded singly, and kept on the grass skirting the road, so that no noise was made by their horses' feet.
As they neared the house, Jack Sheppard, who led the way, halted, and addressed his companion in a low voice :
"I don't half like this job, Blueskin,” he said ; "it always went against the grain. But, since I've seen the friend and companion of my childhood, Thames Darrell, I've no heart for it. Shall we :urn back ?”
“And disappoint Mr. Wild, captain ?" remonstrated the other, in a deferential tone. “ You know this is a pet project. It might be dan. gerous to thwart him."
“ Pish !" cried Jack: “I don't value his anger a straw. fraternity are afraid of him; but I laugh at his threats. He daren't quarrel with me : and, if he does, let him look to himself. I've my own reasons for disliking this job."
"Well, you know I always act under your orders, captain,” return. ed Blueskin ; " and, if you give the word to retreat, I shall obey, of course: but I know what Edgeworth Bess will say when we go home empty-handed."
" Why, what will she say?" inquired Sheppard. " That we were afraid,” replied the other ; “ but never mind her.”
"Ay; but I do mind her,” cried Jack, upon whom his comrade's observation had produced the desired effect. · We'll do it.”
“That's right, captain," rejoined Blueskin. "You pledged yourself to Mr. Wild -"
“I did,” interrupted Jack ; " and I never yet broke an engagement. Though a thief, Jack Sheppard is a man of his word.”
"To be sure he is,” acquiesced Blueskin ; “I should like to meet the man who would dare to gainsay it.”
“One word before we begin, Blueskin," said Jack, authoritatively; “in case the family should be alarmed-mind, no violence. There's one person in the house whom I would'nt frighten for the world.”
“Wood's daughter, I suppose ?" observed the other. “You've hit it,” answered Sheppard.
“What say you to carrying her off, captain ?" suggested Blueskin. “If you've a fancy for the girl, we might do it.”
“ No, no," laughed Jack. "Bess would'nt bear a rival. But if you wish to do old Wood a friendly turn, you may bring off his wife.”