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attempting to pick it with the spike and nail, he at length, after half an hour's ineffectual labour, wrenched off the box by means of the iron bar, and the door, as he laughingly expressed it, “ became his humble servant."
But this difficulty was only overcome to be succeeded by one still greater. Hastening along the passage, he came to the sixth door. For this he was prepared; but he was not prepared for the almost insurmountable obstacles which it presented. Running his hand hastily over it, he was startled to find it one complicated mass of bolts and bars. It seemed as if all the precautions previously taken were here accumulated. Any one less courageous than himself would have abandoned the attempt from a conviction of its utter hopelessness ; but, though it might for a moment damp his ardour, it could not deter him.
Once again he passed his hand over the surface, and carefully noted all the obstacles. There was a lock, apparently more than a foot wide, strongly plated, and girded to the door with thick iron hoops. Below it a prodigiously large bolt was shot into the socket, and, in order to keep it there, was fastened by a hasp, and further protected by an immense padlock. Besides this, the door was crossed and recrossed by iron bars, clenched by broad-headed nails. An iron fillet secured the socket of the bolt and the box of the lock to the main. post of the doorway.
Nothing disheartened by this survey, Jack set to work upon the lock, which he attacked with all his implements,-now attempting to pick it with the nail,—now to wrench it off with the bar: but all with. out effect. He not only failed in making any impression, but seemed to increase the difficulties; for, after an hour's toil, he had broken the nail and slightly bent the iron bar.
Completely overcome by fatigue, with strained muscles, and bruised hands, streaming with perspiration, and with lips so parched that he would gladly have parted with a treasure, if he had possessed it, for a draught of water; he sank against the wall, and while in this state was seized with a sudden and strange alarm. He fancied that the turnkeys had discovered his flight, and were in pursuit of him,—that they had climbed up the chimney-entered the Red Room,– tracked him from door to door, and were now only detained by the gate which he had left unbroken in the chapel. He even thought he could detect the voice of Jonathan, urging and directing them.
So strongly was he impressed with this idea, thal, grasping the iron bar with both hands, he dashed it furiously against the door, making the passage echo with the blows.
By degrees his fears vanished, and hearing nothing, he grew calmer. His spirits revived; and encouraging himself with the idea that the present impediment, though the greatest
, was the last, he set himself seriously to consider how it might best be overcome.
Cn reflection it occurred to him that he might, perhaps, be able to loosen the iron fillet,-a notion no sooner conceived than executed. With incredible labour, and by the aid of both spike and nail, he succeeded in getting the point of the bar beneath the fillet. Exerting all his energies, and using the bar as a lever, he forced off the iron band, which was full seven feet high, seven inches wide, and two
thick, and which brought with it in its fall the box of the lock and the socket of the bolt, leaving no further hinderance.
Overjoyed beyond measure at having vanquished this apparently insurmountable obstacle, Jack darted through the door.
ASCENDING a short flight of steps, Jack found at the summit a door, which, being bolted in the inside, he speedily opened.
The fresh air, which blew in his face, greatly revived him. He had now reached what was called the Lower Leads,-a flat, covering a part of the prison contiguous to the gateway, and surrounded on all sides by walls about fourteen feet high. On the north stood the battlements of one of the towers of the gate. On this side a flight of wooden steps, protected by a hand-rail, led to a door opening upon the summit of the prison. This door was crested with spikes, and guarded on the right by a bristling semicircle of spikes. Hastily ascending these steps, Jack found the door, as he anticipated, locked. He could have easily forced it, but preferred a more expeditious mode of reaching the roof which suggested itself to him. "Mounting the door he had last opened, he placed his hands on the wall above, and quickly drew himself up.
Just as he got on the roof of the prison, St. Sepulchre's clock struck eight.
It was instantly answered by the deep note of St. Paul's ; and the concert was prolonged by other neighbouring churches. Jack had thus been six hours in accomplishing his arduous task.
Though nearly dark, there was still light enough left to enable him to discern surrounding objects. Through the gloom he distinctly perceived the dome of St. Paul's, hanging like a black cloud in the air: and nearer to him he remarked the golden ball on the summit of the College of Physicians, compared by Garth to a "gilded pill.” Other towers and spires-St. Martin's, on Ludgate hill, and Christchurch, in Newgate-street, were also distinguishable. As he gazed down into the courts of the prison, he could not help shuddering, lest a false step might precipitate him below.
To prevent the recurrence of any such escape as that just de. scribed, it was deemed expedient in more recent times to keep a watchman at the top of Newgate. Not many years ago two meo employed on this duty quarrelled during the night, and in the morning their bodies were found stretched upon the pavement of the yard beneath.
Proceeding along the wall, Jack reached the southern tower, over the battlements of which he clambered, and, crossing it, dropped upon the roof of the gate. He then scaled the northern tower, and made his way to the summit of that part of the prison which fronted Giltspur-street. Arrived at the extremity of the building, he found that it overlooked the flat roof of a house, which, as far as he could judge in the darkness, lay at a depth of about twenty feet below.
Not choosing to hazard so great a fall, Jack turned to examine the building, to see whether any more favourable point of descent presented itself, but could discover nothing but steep walls, without a single available projection. As he looked around, he beheld an in
it flew open.
cessant stream of passengers hurrying on below. Lights glimmered in the windows of the different houses ; and a lamplighter was run. ning from post to post on his way to Snow.hill.
Finding it impossible to descend on any side without incurring seri. ous risk, Jack resolved to return for his blanket
, by the help of which he felt certain of accomplishing a safe landing on the roof of the house in Giltspur-street.
Accordingly he began to retrace his steps, and, pursuing the course he had recently taken, scaling the two towers, and passing along the wall of the prison, he descended by means of the door upon the Lower Leads. Before he re-entered the prison he hesitated, from a doubt whether he was not fearfully increasing his risk of capture; but, convinced that he had no other alternative, he went on.
During all this time, he had never quitted the iron bar, and he now grasped it with the firm determination of selling his life dearly if he met with any opposition. A few seconds sufficed to clear the pas. sage, through which it had previously cost him more than two hours to force his way. The floor was strewn with screws, nails, fragments of wood and stone, and across the passage lay the heavy iron fillet. He did not disturb any of this litter, but lest it as a mark of his prowess.
He was now at the entrance of the chapel, and striking the door over which he had previously climbed a violent blow with the bar,
To vault over the pews was the work of a moment ; and, having gained the entry leading to the Red Room, he passed through the first door; his progress being only impeded by the pile of broken stones which he himself had raised.
Listening at one of the doors leading to the Master Debtors' side, he heard a loud voice chanting a Bacchanalian melody, and the boisterous laughter that accompanied the song convinced him that no suspicion was entertained in this quarter. Entering the Red Room, he crept through the hole in the wall, descended the chimney, and arrived once more in his old place of captivity.
How different were his present feelings compared with those he had experienced on quitting it. Then, though full of confidence, he half doubted his power of accomplishing his designs. Now he had achiev. ed them, and felt assured of success. The vast heap of rubbish on the floor had been so materially increased by the bricks and plaster thrown down in his attack upon the wall of the Red Room, that it was with some difficulty he could find the blanket, which was almost buried beneath the pile. He next searched for his stockings and shoes, and when found, put them on.
While he was thus employed, his nerves underwent a severe shock. A few bricks, dislodged probably by his last descent, came clattering down the chimney, and, as it was perfectly dark, gave him the notion that some one was endeavouring to torce an entrance into the room.
But these fears, like those he had recently experienced, speedily vanished, and he prepared to return to the roof, congratulating himself that, owing to the opportune falling of the bricks, he had in all probability escaped serious injury.
Throwing the blanket over his left arm, and shouldering the iron bar, he again clambered up the chimney,-regained the Red Room, -hurried along the first passage, --crossed the chapel,-threaded