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THE ILLUSTRATIONS TO JACK SHEPPARD BY GEORGE CRUIKSIANK.
Jack Sheppard and Blueskin in Mr. Wood's Bedroom,
Jack Sheppard, in company with Edgeworth Bess, escaping from Clerken-
Audacity of Jack Sheppard,
Jack Sheppard visits his Mother in Bedlam,
Jonathan Wild throwing Sir Rowland Trenchard down the Well-Hole,
Mr. Mathews as Caleb Pipkin, in "The May Queen," by W. Greatbach,
The Patron King" Exquisitely beautiful!"-by A. Hervieu,
Jack Sheppard's Escapes:-
No. I. The Castle. The Red Room. Door of the Red-Room. A
No. II. -Door going into the Chapel. Door leading out of the Chapel.
No. III. — Lower Leads. The Highest Leads, and the Leads of the
BY W. HARRISON AINSWORTH, ESQ.
AUTHOR OF ROOKWOOD" AND "CRICHTON."
ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
EPOCH THE THIRD.-1724.
THE RETUR N.
NEARLY nine years after the events last recorded, and about the middle of May, 1724, a young man of remarkably prepossessing appearance took his way, one afternoon, along Wychstreet; and, from the curiosity with which he regarded the houses on the left of the road, seemed to be in search of some particular habitation. The age of this individual could not be more than twenty-one; his figure was tall, robust, and gracefully proportioned; and his clear grey eye and open countenance bespoke a frank, generous, and resolute nature. His features were regular, and finely-formed; his complexion bright and blooming, a little shaded, however, by travel and exposure to the sun; and, with a praiseworthy contempt for the universal and preposterous fashion then prevailing, of substituting a peruke for the natural covering of the head, he allowed his own darkbrown hair to fall over his shoulders in ringlets as luxuriant as those that distinguished the court gallant in Charles the Second's days a fashion, which we do not despair of seeing revived in our own days. He wore a French military undress of the period, with high jack-boots, and a laced hat; and, though his attire indicated no particular rank, he had completely the air of a person of distinction. Such was the effect produced upon the passengers by his good looks and manly deportment, that few-especially of the gentler and more susceptible sex-failed to turn round and bestow a second glance upon the handsome stranger. Unconscious of the interest he excited, and entirely occupied by his own thoughts-which, if his bosom could have been examined, would have been found composed of mingled hopes and fears the young man walked on till he came to an old house, with great, projecting, bay windows on the first floor, and situated as nearly as possible at the back of St. Clement's church. Here he halted; and, looking upwards, read, at the foot of an immense sign-board, displaying a gaudily-painted angel with expanded pinions and an olive-branch, not the name he expected to find, but that of WILLIAM KNEEBONE, WOOLLENDRAPER.
Tears started to the young man's eyes on beholding the change, and it was with difficulty he could command himself sufficiently to make the inquiries he desired to do respecting the former owner of the house. As he entered the shop, a tall portly personage advanced to meet him, whom he at once recognised as the present proprietor. Mr. Kneebone was attired in the extremity of the mode. A full-curled wig descended halfway down his back and shoulders; a neckcloth of "right Mechlin" was twisted round his throat so tightly as almost to deprive him of breath, and threaten him with apoplexy; he had lace, also, at his wrists and bosom; gold clocks to his hose, and red heels to his shoes. A stiff, formally-cut coat of cinnamoncoloured cloth, with rows of plate buttons, each of the size of a crown piece, on the sleeves, pockets, and skirts, reached the middle of his legs; and his costume was completed by the silverhilted sword at his side, and the laced hat under his left arm.
Bowing to the stranger, the woollen-draper very politely requested to know his business.
"I'm almost afraid to state it," faltered the other; "but, may I ask whether Mr. Wood, the carpenter, who formerly resided here, is still living?"
"If you feel any anxiety on his account, sir, I'm happy to be able to relieve it," answered Kneebone, readily. "My good friend, Owen Wood, heaven preserve him!is still living. And, for a man who 'll never see sixty again, he's in excellent preservation, I assure you."
"You delight me with the intelligence," said the stranger, entirely recovering his cheerfulness of look. "I began to fear, from his having quitted the old place, that some misfortune must have befallen him."
"Quite the contrary," rejoined the woollen-draper, laughing good-humouredly. Everything has prospered with him in an extraordinary manner. His business has thriven; legacies have unexpectedly dropped into his lap; and, to crown all, he has made a large fortune by a lucky speculation in South-Sea stock, — made it, too, where so many others have lost fortunes, your humble servant amongst the number-ha! ha! In a word, sir, Mr. Wood is now in very affluent circumstances. He stuck to the shop as long as it was necessary, and longer, in my opinion. When he left these premises, three years ago, I took them from him; or rather to deal frankly with you, he placed me in them rent-free; for, I'm not ashamed to confess it, I've had losses, and heavy ones; and, if it hadn't been for him, I don't know where I should have been. Mr. Wood, sir," he added, with much emotion, "is one of the best of men, and would be the happiest, were it not that" and he hesitated.
"Well, sir?" cried the other, eagerly.
"His wife is still living," returned Kneebone, drily.
"I understand," replied the stranger, unable to repress a