Mr. Cheetham came directly, and examined the place carefully.
He negatived, at once, the notion that any Hillsborough hand had been unable to saw through a bar of that moderate thickness. "No," said he, "they were disturbed, or else some other idea struck them all of a sudden; or else they hadn't given themselves time, and are coming again to-morrow. I hope they are. By six o'clock to-night, I'll have a common wooden shutter hung with six good hinges on each side, easy to open at the center; only, across the center, I'll fix a Waterloo cracker inside."
"Ay, but such a one as you never saw. I shall make it myself. It shall be only four inches long, but as broad as my hand, and enough detonating powder in it to blow the shutter fifty feet into the air: and if there should be one of Jobson's lads behind the shutter at the time, why he'll learn flying, and naught to pay for wings."
"Why, sir, you are planning the man's death!"
"And what is HE planning? Light your forge, and leave the job to me. I'm Hillsborough too, and they've put my blood up at last."
While Henry lighted his forge, Mr. Cheetham whipped out a rule, and measured the window exactly. This done, he went down the stairs, and crossed the yard to go to his office.
But, before he could enter it, a horrible thing occurred in the room he had just left; so horrible, it made him, brave as he was, turn and scream like a woman.
Some miscreant, by a simple but ingenious means, which afterward transpired, had mixed a quantity of gunpowder with the smithy-slack or fine cinders of Henry's forge. The moment the forge was hot, the powder ignited with a tremendous thud, a huge mass of flame rushed out, driving the coals with it, like shot from a gun; Henry, scorched, blackened, and blinded, was swept, as by a flaming wind, against the opposite wall; then, yelling, and stark mad with fright (for nothing drives men out of their wits like an explosion in a narrow space), he sprang at the window, head foremost, and with such velocity that the sawed iron snapped like a stick of barley-sugar, and out he went head foremost; and this it was made Cheetham scream, to see him head downward, and the paving-stones below.