ePub 版

impatience, and plunged so violently, that it was with difficulty the ostler could hold her. - The devil's in the mare,” said he - “ what's the matter with her ? She was quiet enough a few minutes since. So, ho ! lass, stand.” .

Turpin and King, meanwhile, walked quickly through the house, preceded by the host, who conducted them, not without some inward trepidation, towards the door. Arrived there, each man rushed swiftly to his horse. Dick was in the saddle in an instant, and stamping her foot upon the ostler's leg, Black Bess compelled the man, yelling with pain, to quit his hold of the bridle. Tom King was not equally fortunate. Before he could mount his horse, a loud shout was raised, which startled the animal, and caused him to swerve, so that Tom lost his footing in the stirrup, and fell to the ground. He was instantly seized by Paterson, and a struggle commenced, King endeavouring, but in vain, to draw a pistol.

“ Flip him*, Dick, fire, or I'm taken,” cried King. “ Fire ! damn you ! why don't you fire ? ” shouted he in desperation, still struggling vehemently with Paterson, who was a strong man, and more than a match for a light weight like King

I can't,” cried Dick ; -“ I shall hit you, if I fire.”

Take your chance," shouted King. friendship ?”

Thus urged, Turpin fired. The ball ripped up the sleeve of Paterson's coat, but did not wound him.

Again !” cried King “ Shoot him, I say. Don't you hear me? Fire again!”

Pressed as he was by foes on every side, himself their mark, for both Coates and Tyrconnel had fired upon him, and were now mounting their steeds to give chase, it was impossible that Turpin could take sure aim ; added to which, in the struggle, Paterson and King were each moment changing their relative positions. He, however, would no longer hesitate, but again, at his friend's request, fired. The ball lodged itself in King's breast ! He fell at once. At this instant a shriek was heard from the chaise : the window was thrown open, and her thick veil being drawn aside, the fea

- Is this your

Shoot him.

[ocr errors]

tures of a very pretty female, now impressed with terror and contrition, were suddenly exhibited.

King fixed his glazing eyes upon her.
“ Susan !” sighed he - .“ Is it you that I behold ? ”

“ Yes, yes, 't is she, sure enough,” said Paterson. “ You see, ma'am, what you and such like have brought him to. However, you'll lose your reward ; he's going fast enough." “ Reward !” gasped King, “ reward ! did she betray me ? ”

Ay, ay, sir,” said Paterson, “ she blowed the gaff, if it's any consolation to you to know it.”

“ Consolation !” repeated the dying man — “ perfidious !

oh! - the prophecy - my best friend. Turpin — I die by his hand.”

And vainly striving to raise himself, he fell backwards and expired. Alas! poor Tom ! or Mr. Paterson ! Mr. Paterson !” cried Coates

-“ leave the landlord to look after the body of that dying ruffian, and mount with us in pursuit of the living rascal. Come, sir quick! mount! despatch. You see he is yonder he seems to hesitate — we shall have him now." “ Well, gemmen, I'm ready,” said Paterson ;

“ but how the devil came you to let him escape ?”

“ Saint Patrick only knows !” said Titus ; "he's as slippery as an eеl — and, like a cat, turn him which way you will, he is always sure to alight upon his legs. I wouldn't wonder but we lose him now, after all, though he has such a small start. That mare flies like the wind.”

“ He shall have a tight run for it, at all events,” said Paterson, putting spurs into his horse.

" I've a good nag under me, and you are neither of you badly mounted. He's only three hundred yards before us, and the devil's in it, if we can't run him down. It's a three hundred pound job, Mr. Coates, and well worth a race.”

“ You shall have another hundred from me, sir, if you take him,” said Coates, urging his steed forward.

" Thank you, sir, thank you. Follow my directions, and we'll make sure of him," said the constable. Gently, gently, not so fast up the hill you see he's breathing his horse. All in good time, Mr. Coates — all in good time, sir.”

And maintaining an equal distance, both parties cantered leisurely up the ascent now called Windmill Hill. We shall now return to Turpin.

Aghast at the deed he had accidentally committed, Dick remained for a few moments irresolute ; he perceived that King was mortally wounded, and that all attempts at rescue would be fruitless ; he perceived, likewise, that Jerry and the Magus had effected their escape from the bowling green, as he could detect their figures stealing along the hedge-side. He hesitated no longer. Turning his horse, he galloped slowly off, little heeding the pursuit with which he was threatened.

Every bullet has its billet,” said Dick; “ but little did I think that I really should turn poor Tom's executioner. To the devil with this rascally snapper,” cried he, throwing the pistol over the hedge. “ I could never have used it again. 'Tis strange, too, that he should have foretold his own fate devilish strange! And then that he should have been betrayed by the very blowen he trusted ! that's a lesson, if I wanted any.

But trust a woman ! — not I, the length of my little finger."



Six gentlemen upon the road

Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
With post-boy scampering in the rear,

They raised the hue and cry :--
Stop thief! stop thief! a highwayman!

Not one of them was mute;
And all and each that pass'd that way

Did join in the pursuit.

John Gilpin.

ARRIVED at the brow of the hill, whence such a beautiful view of the country surrounding the metropolis is obtained *,

* Since the earlier impressions of this work were published, we regret to state, (for to us, at least, it is matter of regret, though probably not to the travellers along the Edgeware Road,) that this gentle ascent has been cut through, and the fair prospect from its brow utterly destroyed.

66 Poor



Turpin turned for an instant to reconnoitre his pursuers. Coates and Titus, he utterly disregarded ; but Paterson was a more formidable foe, and he well knew that he had to deal with a man of experience and resolution. It was then, for the first time, that the thoughts of executing his extraordinary ride to York first flashed across him - his bosom throbbed high with rapture, and he involuntarily exclaimed aloud, as he raised himself in the saddle, “ By God! I will do it!”

He took one last look at the great Babel, that lay buried in a world of trees beneath him; and as his quick eye ranged over the magnificent prospect, lit up by that gorgeous sunset, he could not help thinking of Tom King's last words. fellow !” thought Dick, “ he said truly. He will never see another sunset.” Aroused by the approaching clatter of his pursuers, Dick struck into a lane which lies on the right of the road, now called Shoot-up-hill Lane, and set off at a good pace in the direction of Hampstead.

Now,” cried Paterson, put your tits to it, my boys. We must not lose sight of him for a second in these lanes.”

Accordingly, as Turpin was by no means desirous of inconveniencing his mare in this early stage of the business, and as the ground was still upon an ascent, the parties preserved their relative distances.

At length, after various twistings and turnings in that deep and devious lane; after scaring one or two farmers, and riding over a brood or two of ducks; dipping into the verdant valley of West End, and ascending another hill, Turpin burst upon the gorsy, sandy, and beautiful Heath of Hampstead. Shaping his course to the left, Dick then made for the lower part of the heath, and skirted a path that leads towards North End, passing the furze-crowned summit, which is now crested by a clump of lofty pines.

It was here that the chase first assumed a character of interest. Being open ground, the pursued and pursuers were in full view of each other, and as Dick rode swiftly across the heath, with the shouting trio hard at his heels, the scene had animated

appearance. He crossed the hill - the Hendon Road — passed Crackskull Common and dashed along the cross road to Highgate.

Hitherto, no advantage had been gained by the pursuers;

a very

[ocr errors][merged small]

they had not lost ground, but still they had not gained an inch, and much spurring was required to maintain their position. As they approached Highgate, Dick slackened his pace; and the other party redoubled their efforts. To avoid the town, Dick struck into a narrow path at the right, and rode easily down the hill.

His pursuers were now within a hundred yards, and shouted to him to stand. Pointing to a gate, which seemed to bar their farther progress, Dick unhesitatingly charged it, clearing it in beautiful style. Not so with Coates's party. And the time they lost in unfastening the gate, which none of them chose to leap, enabled Dick to put additional space betwixt them. It did not, however, appear to be his intention altogether to outstrip his pursuers; the chase seemed to give him excitement, which he was willing to prolong, as much as was consistent with his safety. Scudding rapidly past Highgate, like a swift-sailing schooner, with three lumbering Indiamen in her wake, Dick now took the lead along a narrow lane that threads the fields in the direction of Hornsey. The shouts of his followers had brought others to join them, and as he neared Crouch End, traversing the lane, which takes its name from Du-Val, and in which a house frequented by that gayest of robbers, stands, or stood, “A highwayman! a highwayman!” rang in his ears, in a discordant chorus of many voices.

The whole neighbourhood was alarmed by the cries, and by the tramp of horses ; the men of Hornsey rushed into the road to seize the fugitive ; and women held up their babes to catch a glimpse of the flying cavalcade, which seemed to gain number and animation as it advanced. Suddenly three horsemen appear in the road ; they hear the uproar and the din. A highwayman! a highwayman !” cry the voices :

stop him, stop him !” But it is no such easy matter. With a pistol in each hand, and his bridle in his teeth, Turpin passed boldly on. His fierce looks — his furious steed — the impetus with which he pressed forward, bore down all before him. The horsemen gave way, and only served to swell the list of his pursuers.

“ We have him now we have him now !” cried Paterson, exultingly. “ Shout for your lives. The turnpike man will hear us — shout again ! — again! The fellow has heard it. The gate is shut. We have him ----ha-ha!”.

« 上一頁繼續 »