Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
When Owen Wood goes to offer his condolence to Joan, the widow of Tom Sheppard, who was executed for stealing from Wood, he finds the woman living in misery near the Old Mint, a haven for mendicants, thieves, and debtors. Joan tells Wood that Van Galgebrok, a Dutch seaman and conjurer, prophesied that her baby, Jack, would be executed as his father was. The prophecy was based on the presence of a mole behind Jack’s ear. Wood offers to take the infant out of the sordid environment in order to avert fulfillment of the prophecy, but the mother refuses to part with her child.
Left alone with the infant while Joan goes to the attic to get a key that her deceased husband ordered to be given to Wood, the carpenter is accosted by a mob led by Sir Rowland Trenchard, in pursuit of a young man named Darrell. In the confusion, Jonathan Wild, a thief-taker, picks up the key that Joan was to return to Wood.
While a great storm rages, Darrell, the fugitive, with a baby in his arms, is again pursued by Sir Rowland. The chase continues to the flooded Thames, where Darrell is drowned after a struggle with Sir Rowland. On his way home, Wood rescues the baby from drowning. Some falling bricks save him and the baby from Sir Rowland’s wrath. Understanding little of the night’s strange events, Wood takes the child home with him. He names the boy Thames Darrell.
Twelve years later, Wood takes Jack Sheppard as an apprentice in his carpenter shop, but...
(The entire section is 1333 words.)
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