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and, what is of more consequence, of lucky horoscopes; they are associated with me as brethren in the great work; and if, after this day's meeting, they pronounce you fitted for election, you máy perhaps have the honour.»
The clashing of swords and the uproar of angry voices, sounding from the house as they approached, cut short the remainder of his harangue, and occasioned him to draw his sword and rush forward exclaiming -« Ha! are we betrayed ? are we surprised ? let every man defend himself to the last, and die the death of the righteous !» Instinctively drawing his sword, and following the colonel, Jocelyn hastened into the house and entered a back room, where a scene presented itself which for some time completely baffled all his attempts towards elucidating its meaning. In the middle of the room stood his old acquaintance, Winky Boss, surrounded by six or eight gaunt figures, whose shabbygenteel dress, reckless looks, and ferocious gestures, indicated broken fortunes, and desperate character. Several of them were collaring the Dutchman, cursing, swearing, and threatening by turns; all had their swords pointed at his throat; while Boss whose eyes were winking in double-quick time, repeatedly ejaculated, Niet een woord !-niet een woord! Ik kan niet spreeken een woord van Engelsch :»-intimating that he could not speak a single word of English.
To explain the perilous predicament in which he had unwaringly placed himself, it may be necessary to state that Winky Boss, having found his way to England in search of his master, had learned the sad tidings of his
death from Mr Ashmole, who not only invited him to remain at South Lambeth, till an opportunity should occur for his returning to Holland, but made him a handsome present in money. With the latter he soon obtained consolation for all sorrows and disappointments, by betaking himself to the Dolphin, a publichouse at Battersea, famous for its strong spirits and good tobacco. Unfortunately for Winky Boss liquor only made him more thirsty, without ever producing intoxication, although it might render his faculties somewhat muddy and obtuse. In this drowsy plight, after wandering about the fields of Battersea for some time, he chanced to pass the back of Colonel Rathborn's house, and, beholding through an open window, a table spread out with glasses and bottles, he very unceremoniously climbed into the room to allay the thirst with which he was tormented, taking it for granted, that as he had money in his pocket to defray the reekoning, he could not be encountering any very serious risk.
Contenting himself with the remainder of one bottle, an instance of moderation rather attributable to drowsiness than abstemiousness, he withdrew behind a large screen in one corner of the room, intending to enjoy à comfortable nap; but before he could compose himself to sleep, a party of Colonel Rathborn 's friends and accomplices entered the apartment, and, having closed the window, began to discourse of subjects that involved life and death to themselves, and which in Boss's apprehension would be very likely to extend the same consequences to himself, should he happen to be discovered. In this ticklish predicament his only
chance consisted in observing a profound silence, a mode of self-preservation in which he persevered with laudable prudence, until he perceived on a small shelf above his head, a green bottle with a label round its neck, on which was inscribed that most attractive of all words,
—« Schiedam»-the name by which his favourite liquor was then designated. With a most exemplary caution did he slowly steal up his hand to embrace the neck of the beloved bottle, which he would have safely transferred to his own mouth, but that a small wine-glass, which had escaped his observation, was displaced in the process, and fell smashing to the ground. Up started the company in an instantdown went the screen,--out flew the swords,—and the unintentional spy, dragged
dragged into the centre of the room, presently saw half a dozen weapons pointed at his throat, and became instantly aware that his only chance of safety was to affect an utter ignorance of English.
His appearance and his sputtering language were proof positive that he was a Dutchman; but it was not so easy to establish the negative, and convince them that he had not understood a word of what they had been saying. Some were for putting him to death at once, and throwing him at nightfall into the river; others, believing in his ignorance of the language, recommended that he should be dismissed, and that their place of rendezvous should be changed, to prevent his giving any information ; during which discussion, Winky Boss adjusted his pipe, and arranged his discomposed clothes with an appearance of perfect unconcern
and a vacant look of ignorance. One who assumed some authority over his companions at length observed, that where six or eight lives might be secured by the sacrifice of one, there was no room for further hesitation, and therefore proposed that, in order to implicate each equally in the responsibility for his murder, they should all fall upon him and dispatch him, when he gave the signal for the assault. General assent being given to this atrocious proposition, they raised their weapons and looked at their comrade for the appointed notice of attack; a moment of fearful suspense,
which their intended victim employed in taking out a pocket match-box, striking a light, and puffing at the tinder, that he might coax up flame enough for his pipe; while he still preserved a phlegmatic indifference, that might have convinced the most incredulous of his being utterly unacquainted with the subject of discussion.
“Curse the fellow !» cried the conspirator, who was to have given the signal, «he could never listen to us with so much composure if he understood a single word of the language. 'Twere to throw away a murder to cut his throat, so we may as well turn the Dutch boor adrift, and take better heed in future to examine our room, and look behind the screen before we proceed to business.»
It was precisely at this juncture that Jocelyn and Colonel Rathborn entered the apartment. A peculiar side-glance which Winky Boss cast at the former, intimated to him that he did not wish to be recognized ; and as our hero was aware of the shrewdness concealed under his clownish exterior, he took the hint, and con
ducted himself towards him as if he had never seen him before. All the swords were quickly returned to their scabbards on the appearance of a stranger, and the party contented themselves with stating to the colonel that, from the manner in which the Dutchman had been found concealed in the apartment, they considered him to be a spy, and were about to give him the spy's reward. Jocelyn, who spoke Dutch, volunteered to act as interpreter, and cross-questioning Boss in that language with an appearance of great severity, explained to the company that he had clambered in at the window for liquor, having mistaken the place for a public-house. To dispel every apprehension of future danger or betrayal, he added, that as the Dutchman was anxious to return to his own country, he would take him that evening on board a Danish vessel in the river, which was to sail next day for Rotterdam, and desire the captain, who was his particular friend, to see him safely transported to Holland. Many thanks were given for this proposition, which seemed to meet the wishes of all parties; Winky Boss was locked up in one of the rooms until it could be put in practice; and the remainder of the party proceeded immediately to dinner.
During the repast, Jocelyn, who constantly saw fresh reason to distrust the desperadoes into whose society he had so unwaringly thrown himself, observed the utmost circumspection, discouraged every attempt to give the conversation a political turn, was cautious not to compromise himself by any unguarded expression, and withdrew as soon as possible, under the pretext of con