When I tell yer that I don't mean to do a thing, that's enough, without any why or because either, replied Mr. Claypole with dignity.
Well, you needn't be so cross, said his companion.
A pretty thing it would be, wouldn't it, to go and stop at the very first public-house outside the town, so that Sowerberry, if he come up after us, might poke in his old nose, and have us taken back in a cart with handcuffs on, said Mr. Claypole in a jeering tone. No! I shall go and lose myself among the narrowest streets I can find, and not stop till we come to the very out-of-the-wayest house I can set eyes on, 'Cod, yer may thank yer stars I've got a head; for if we hadn't gone, at first, the wrong road a purpose, and come back across country, yer'd have been locked up hard and fast a week ago, my lady. And serve yer right for being a fool.
I know I ain't as cunning as you are, replied Charlotte; but don't put all the blame on me, and say I should have been locked up. You would have been if I had been, any way.
Yer took the money from the till, yer know yer did, said Mr. Claypole.
I took it for you, Noah, dear, rejoined Charlotte.
Did I keep it? asked Mr. Claypole.
No; you trusted in me, and let me carry it like a dear, and so you are, said the lady, chucking him under the chin, and drawing her arm through his.
This was indeed the case; but as it was not Mr. Claypole's habit to repose a blind and foolish confidence in anybody, it should be observed, in justice to that gentleman, that he had trusted Charlotte to this extent, in order that, if they were pursued, the money might be found on her: which would leave him an opportunity of asserting his innocence of any theft, and would greatly facilitate his chances of escape. Of course, he entered at this juncture, into no explanation of his motives, and they walked on very lovingly together.
In pursuance of this cautious plan, Mr. Claypole went on, without halting, until he arrived at the Angel at Islington, where he wisely judged, from the crowd of passengers and number of vehicles, that London began in earnest. Just pausing to observe which appeared the most crowded streets, and consequently the most to be avoided, he crossed into Saint John's Road, and was soon deep in the obscurity of the intricate and dirty ways, which, lying between Gray's Inn Lane and Smithfield, render that part of the town one of the lowest and worst that improvement has left in the midst of London.
Through these streets, Noah Claypole walked, dragging Charlotte after him; now stepping into the kennel to embrace at a glance the whole external character of some small publichouse; now jogging on again, as some fancied appearance induced him to believe it too public for his purpose. At length, he stopped in front of one, more humble in appearance and more dirty than any he had yet seen; and, having crossed over and surveyed it from the opposite pavement, graciously announced his intention of putting up there, for the night.
So give us the bundle, said Noah, unstrapping it from the woman's shoulders, and slinging it over his own; and don't yer speak, except when yer spoke to. What's the name of the house t-h-r three what?
Cripples, said Charlotte.
Three Cripples, repeated Noah, and a very good sign too. Now, then! Keep close at my heels, and come along. With these injunctions, he pushed the rattling door with his shoulder, and entered the house, followed by his companion.
There was nobody in the bar but a young Jew, who, with his two elbows on the counter, was reading a dirty newspaper. He stared very hard at Noah, and Noah stared very hard at him.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|