"It's all up, Bill," cried Toby, "drop the kid and show 'em your heels." With this parting advice, Mr. Crackit, preferring the chance of being shot by his friend to the certainty of being taken by his enemies, fairly turned tail, and darted off at full speed. Sikes clenched his teeth, took one look round, threw over the prostrate form of Oliver the cape in which he had been hurriedly muflled, ran along the front of the hedge as if to distract the attention of those behind, from the spot where the boy lay, paused for a second before another hedge which met it at right angles, and whirling his pistol high into the air, cleared it at a bound and was gone.
"Ho, ho, there!" cried a tremulous voice in the rear. "Pincher, Neptune, come here, come here!"
The dogs, which in common with their masters, seemed to have no particular relish for the sport in which they were engaged, readily answered to this command: and three men, who had by this time advanced some distance into the field, stopped to take counsel together.