Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
One night, the watchmen of Westminster arrest Captain William Booth, seizing him as he is attempting to rescue a stranger being attacked by two ruffians. The footpads secure their own liberty by bribing the constables, but Booth is brought before an unjust magistrate. His story is a straightforward one, but because he is penniless and shabbily dressed, the judge dismisses his tale and sentences him to prison. Booth is desperate; there is no one he knows in London to whom he can turn for aid. His plight is made worse by his reception at the prison. His fellow prisoners strip him of his coat, and a pickpocket steals his snuffbox.
He is still smarting from these indignities when he sees a fashionably dressed young woman being escorted through the gates. Flourishing a bag of gold in the face of her keepers, she demands a private room in the prison. Her appearance and manner remind Booth of Miss Matthews, an old friend of questionable background whom he did not see for several years; but when the woman passes him without a sign of recognition, he believes himself mistaken.
Shortly afterward, a guard brings him a guinea in a small parcel, and with the money, Booth is able to redeem his coat and snuffbox, but he loses the rest of the money in a card game. Booth is once again penniless when a keeper comes to lead him to Miss Matthews, for it is indeed she. Seeing his wretched condition as he stands by the prison gate, she sent him the guinea. Reunited...
(The entire section is 1494 words.)
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