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Barnaby Rudge

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Chapter 56

The Maypole cronies, little dreaming of the change so soon to come upon their favourite haunt, struck through the Forest path upon their way to London; and avoiding the main road, which was hot and dusty, kept to the by-paths and the fields. As they drew nearer to their destination, they began to make inquiries of the people whom they passed, concerning the riots, and the truth or falsehood of the stories they had heard. The answers went far beyond any intelligence that had spread to quiet Chigwell. One man told them that that afternoon the Guards, conveying to Newgate some rioters who had been re-examined, had been set upon by the mob and compelled to retreat; another, that the houses of two witnesses near Clare Market were about to be pulled down when he came away; another, that Sir George Saville’s house in Leicester Fields was to be burned that night, and that it would go hard with Sir George if he fell into the people’s hands, as it was he who had brought in the Catholic bill. All accounts agreed that the mob were out, in stronger numbers and more numerous parties than had yet appeared; that the streets were unsafe; that no man’s house or life was worth an hour’s purchase; that the public consternation was increasing every moment; and that many families had already fled the city. One fellow who wore the popular colour, damned them for not having cockades in their hats, and bade them set a good watch to-morrow night upon their prison doors, for the locks would have a straining; another asked if they were fire-proof, that they walked abroad without the distinguishing mark of all good and true men;—and a third who rode on horseback, and was quite alone, ordered them to throw each man a shilling, in his hat, towards the support of the rioters. Although they were afraid to refuse compliance with this demand, and were much alarmed by these reports, they agreed, having come so far, to go forward, and see the real state of things with their own eyes. So they pushed on quicker, as men do who are excited by portentous news; and ruminating on what they had heard, spoke little to each other.

It was now night, and as they came nearer to the city they had dismal confirmation of this intelligence in three great fires, all close together, which burnt fiercely and were gloomily reflected in the sky. Arriving in the immediate suburbs, they found that almost every house had chalked upon its door in large characters ‘No Popery,’ that the shops were shut, and that alarm and anxiety were depicted in every face they passed.

Noting these things with a degree of apprehension which neither of the three cared to impart, in its full extent, to his companions, they came to a turnpike-gate, which was shut. They were passing through the turnstile on the path, when a horseman rode up from London at a hard gallop, and called to the toll-keeper in a voice of great agitation, to open quickly in the name of God.

The adjuration was so earnest and vehement, that the man, with a lantern in his hand, came running out—toll-keeper though he was—and was about to throw the gate open, when happening to look behind him, he exclaimed, ‘Good Heaven, what’s that! Another fire!’

At this, the three turned their heads, and saw in the distance—straight in the direction whence they had come—a broad sheet of flame, casting a threatening light upon the clouds, which glimmered as though the conflagration were behind them, and showed like a wrathful sunset.

‘My mind misgives me,’ said the horseman, ‘or I know from what far building those flames come. Don’t stand aghast, my good fellow. Open the gate!’

‘Sir,’ cried the man, laying his hand upon his horse’s bridle as he let him through: ‘I know you now, sir; be advised by me; do not go on. I saw them pass, and know what kind of men they are. You will be murdered.’

‘So be it!’ said the horseman, looking intently towards the fire, and not at him who spoke.

‘But sir—sir,’ cried the man, grasping at his rein more tightly yet, ‘if you do go on, wear the blue riband. Here, sir,’ he added, taking one from his own hat, ‘it’s necessity, not choice, that makes me wear it; it’s love of life and home, sir. Wear it for this one night, sir; only for this one night.’

‘Do!’ cried the three friends, pressing round his horse. ‘Mr Haredale—worthy sir—good gentleman—pray be persuaded.’

‘Who’s that?’ cried Mr Haredale, stooping down to look. ‘Did I hear Daisy’s voice?’

‘You did, sir,’ cried the little man. ‘Do be persuaded, sir. This gentleman says very true. Your life may hang upon it.’

‘Are you,’ said Mr Haredale abruptly, ‘afraid to come with me?’

‘I, sir?—N-n-no.’

‘Put that riband in your hat. If we meet the rioters, swear that I took you prisoner for wearing it. I will tell them so with my own lips; for as I hope for mercy when I die, I will take no quarter from them, nor shall they have quarter from me, if we come hand to hand to-night. Up here—behind me—quick! Clasp me tight round the body, and fear nothing.’

In an instant they were riding away, at full gallop, in a dense cloud of dust, and speeding on, like hunters in a dream.

It was well the good horse knew the road he traversed, for never once—no, never once in all the journey—did Mr Haredale cast his eyes upon the ground, or turn them, for an instant, from the light towards which they sped so madly. Once he said in a low voice, ‘It is my house,’ but that was the only time he spoke. When they came to dark and doubtful places, he never forgot to put his hand upon the little man to hold him more securely in his seat, but he kept his head erect and his eyes fixed on the fire, then, and always.

The road was dangerous enough, for they went the nearest way—headlong—far from the highway—by lonely lanes and paths, where waggon-wheels had worn deep ruts; where hedge and ditch hemmed in the narrow strip of ground; and tall trees, arching overhead, made it profoundly dark. But on, on, on, with neither stop nor stumble, till they reached the Maypole door, and could plainly see that the fire began to fade, as if for want of fuel.

‘Down—for one moment—for but one moment,’ said Mr Haredale, helping Daisy to the ground, and following himself. ‘Willet—Willet—where are my niece and servants—Willet!’

Crying to him distractedly, he rushed into the bar.—The landlord bound and fastened to his chair; the place dismantled, stripped, and pulled about his ears;—nobody could have taken shelter here.

He was a strong man, accustomed to restrain himself, and suppress his strong emotions; but this preparation for what was to follow—though he had seen that fire burning, and knew that his house must be razed to the ground—was more than he could bear. He covered his face with his hands for a moment, and turned away his head.

‘Johnny, Johnny,’ said Solomon—and the simple-hearted fellow cried outright, and wrung his hands—‘Oh dear old Johnny, here’s a change! That the Maypole bar should come to this, and we should live to see it! The old Warren too, Johnny—Mr Haredale—oh, Johnny, what a piteous sight this is!’

Pointing to Mr Haredale as he said these words, little Solomon Daisy put his elbows on the back of Mr Willet’s chair, and fairly blubbered on his shoulder.

While Solomon was speaking, old John sat, mute as a stock-fish, staring at him with an unearthly glare, and displaying, by every possible symptom, entire and complete unconsciousness. But when Solomon was silent again, John followed with his great round eyes the direction of his looks, and did appear to have some dawning distant notion that somebody had come to see him.

‘You know us, don’t you, Johnny?’ said the little clerk, rapping himself on the breast. ‘Daisy, you know—Chigwell Church—bell-ringer—little desk on Sundays—eh, Johnny?’

Mr Willet reflected for a few moments, and then muttered, as it were mechanically: ‘Let us sing to the praise and glory of—’

‘Yes, to be sure,’ cried the little man, hastily; ‘that’s it—that’s me, Johnny. You’re all right now, an’t you? Say you’re all right, Johnny.’

‘All right?’ pondered Mr Willet, as if that were a matter entirely between himself and his conscience. ‘All right? Ah!’

‘They haven’t been misusing you with sticks, or pokers, or any other blunt instruments—have they, Johnny?’ asked Solomon, with a very anxious glance at Mr Willet’s head. ‘They didn’t beat you, did they?’

John knitted his brow; looked downwards, as if he were mentally engaged in some arithmetical calculation; then upwards, as if the total would not come at his call; then at Solomon Daisy, from his eyebrow to his shoe-buckle; then very slowly round the bar. And then a great, round, leaden-looking, and not at all transparent tear, came rolling out of each eye, and he said, as he shook his head:

‘If they’d only had the goodness to murder me, I’d have thanked ‘em kindly.’

‘No, no, no, don’t say that, Johnny,’ whimpered his little friend. ‘It’s very, very bad, but not quite so bad as that. No, no!’

‘Look’ee here, sir!’ cried John, turning his rueful eyes on Mr Haredale, who had dropped on one knee, and was hastily beginning to untie his bonds. ‘Look’ee here, sir! The very Maypole—the old dumb Maypole—stares in at the winder, as if it said, “John Willet, John Willet, let’s go and pitch ourselves in the nighest pool of water as is deep enough to hold us; for our day is over!”’

‘Don’t, Johnny, don’t,’ cried his friend: no less affected with this mournful effort of Mr Willet’s imagination, than by the sepulchral tone in which he had spoken of the Maypole. ‘Please don’t, Johnny!’

‘Your loss is great, and your misfortune a heavy one,’ said Mr Haredale, looking restlessly towards the door: ‘and this is not a time to comfort you. If it were, I am in no condition to do so. Before I leave you, tell me one thing, and try to tell me plainly, I implore you. Have you seen, or heard of Emma?’

‘No!’ said Mr Willet.

‘Nor any one but these bloodhounds?’

‘No!’

‘They rode away, I trust in Heaven, before these dreadful scenes began,’ said Mr Haredale, who, between his agitation, his eagerness to mount his horse again, and the dexterity with which the cords were tied, had scarcely yet undone one knot. ‘A knife, Daisy!’

‘You didn’t,’ said John, looking about, as though he had lost his pocket-handkerchief, or some such slight article—‘either of you gentlemen—see a—a coffin anywheres, did you?’

‘Willet!’ cried Mr Haredale. Solomon dropped the knife, and instantly becoming limp from head to foot, exclaimed ‘Good gracious!’

‘—Because,’ said John, not at all regarding them, ‘a dead man called a little time ago, on his way yonder. I could have told you what name was on the plate, if he had brought his coffin with him, and left it behind. If he didn’t, it don’t signify.’

His landlord, who had listened to these words with breathless attention, started that moment to his feet; and, without a word, drew Solomon Daisy to the door, mounted his horse, took him up behind again, and flew rather than galloped towards the pile of ruins, which that day’s sun had shone upon, a stately house. Mr Willet stared after them, listened, looked down upon himself to make quite sure that he was still unbound, and, without any manifestation of impatience, disappointment, or surprise, gently relapsed into the condition from which he had so imperfectly recovered.

Mr Haredale tied his horse to the trunk of a tree, and grasping his companion’s arm, stole softly along the footpath, and into what had been the garden of his house. He stopped for an instant to look upon its smoking walls, and at the stars that shone through roof and floor upon the heap of crumbling ashes. Solomon glanced timidly in his face, but his lips were tightly pressed together, a resolute and stern expression sat upon his brow, and not a tear, a look, or gesture indicating grief, escaped him.

He drew his sword; felt for a moment in his breast, as though he carried other arms about him; then grasping Solomon by the wrist again, went with a cautious step all round the house. He looked into every doorway and gap in the wall; retraced his steps at every rustling of the air among the leaves; and searched in every shadowed nook with outstretched hands. Thus they made the circuit of the building: but they returned to the spot from which they had set out, without encountering any human being, or finding the least trace of any concealed straggler.

After a short pause, Mr Haredale shouted twice or thrice. Then cried aloud, ‘Is there any one in hiding here, who knows my voice! There is nothing to fear now. If any of my people are near, I entreat them to answer!’ He called them all by name; his voice was echoed in many mournful tones; then all was silent as before.

They were standing near the foot of the turret, where the alarm-bell hung. The fire had raged there, and the floors had been sawn, and hewn, and beaten down, besides. It was open to the night; but a part of the staircase still remained, winding upward from a great mound of dust and cinders. Fragments of the jagged and broken steps offered an insecure and giddy footing here and there, and then were lost again, behind protruding angles of the wall, or in the deep shadows cast upon it by other portions of the ruin; for by this time the moon had risen, and shone brightly.

As they stood here, listening to the echoes as they died away, and hoping in vain to hear a voice they knew, some of the ashes in this turret slipped and rolled down. Startled by the least noise in that melancholy place, Solomon looked up in his companion’s face, and saw that he had turned towards the spot, and that he watched and listened keenly.

He covered the little man’s mouth with his hand, and looked again. Instantly, with kindling eyes, he bade him on his life keep still, and neither speak nor move. Then holding his breath, and stooping down, he stole into the turret, with his drawn sword in his hand, and disappeared.

Terrified to be left there by himself, under such desolate circumstances, and after all he had seen and heard that night, Solomon would have followed, but there had been something in Mr Haredale’s manner and his look, the recollection of which held him spellbound. He stood rooted to the spot; and scarcely venturing to breathe, looked up with mingled fear and wonder.

Again the ashes slipped and rolled—very, very softly—again—and then again, as though they crumbled underneath the tread of a stealthy foot. And now a figure was dimly visible; climbing very softly; and often stopping to look down; now it pursued its difficult way; and now it was hidden from the view again.

It emerged once more, into the shadowy and uncertain light—higher now, but not much, for the way was steep and toilsome, and its progress very slow. What phantom of the brain did he pursue; and why did he look down so constantly? He knew he was alone. Surely his mind was not affected by that night’s loss and agony. He was not about to throw himself headlong from the summit of the tottering wall. Solomon turned sick, and clasped his hands. His limbs trembled beneath him, and a cold sweat broke out upon his pallid face.

If he complied with Mr Haredale’s last injunction now, it was because he had not the power to speak or move. He strained his gaze, and fixed it on a patch of moonlight, into which, if he continued to ascend, he must soon emerge. When he appeared there, he would try to call to him.

Again the ashes slipped and crumbled; some stones rolled down, and fell with a dull, heavy sound upon the ground below. He kept his eyes upon the piece of moonlight. The figure was coming on, for its shadow was already thrown upon the wall. Now it appeared—and now looked round at him—and now—

The horror-stricken clerk uttered a scream that pierced the air, and cried, ‘The ghost! The ghost!’

Long before the echo of his cry had died away, another form rushed out into the light, flung itself upon the foremost one, knelt down upon its breast, and clutched its throat with both hands.

‘Villain!’ cried Mr Haredale, in a terrible voice—for it was he. ‘Dead and buried, as all men supposed through your infernal arts, but reserved by Heaven for this—at last—at last I have you. You, whose hands are red with my brother’s blood, and that of his faithful servant, shed to conceal your own atrocious guilt—You, Rudge, double murderer and monster, I arrest you in the name of God, who has delivered you into my hands. No. Though you had the strength of twenty men,’ he added, as the murderer writhed and struggled, ‘you could not escape me or loosen my grasp to-night!’






Chapter 57

Barnaby, armed as we have seen, continued to pace up and down before the stable-door; glad to be alone again, and heartily rejoicing in the unaccustomed silence and tranquillity. After the whirl of noise and riot in which the last two days had been passed, the pleasures of solitude and peace were enhanced a thousandfold. He felt quite happy; and as he leaned upon his staff and mused, a bright smile overspread his face, and none but cheerful visions floated into his brain.

Had he no thoughts of her, whose sole delight he was, and whom he had unconsciously plunged in such bitter sorrow and such deep affliction? Oh, yes. She was at the heart of all his cheerful hopes and proud reflections. It was she whom all this honour and distinction were to gladden; the joy and profit were for her. What delight it gave her to hear of the bravery of her poor boy! Ah! He would have known that, without Hugh’s telling him. And what a precious thing it was to know she lived so happily, and heard with so much pride (he pictured to himself her look when they told her) that he was in such high esteem: bold among the boldest, and trusted before them all! And when these frays were over, and the good lord had conquered his enemies, and they were all at peace again, and he and she were rich, what happiness they would have in talking of these troubled times when he was a great soldier: and when they sat alone together in the tranquil twilight, and she had no longer reason to be anxious for the morrow, what pleasure would he have in the reflection that this was his doing—his—poor foolish Barnaby’s; and in patting her on the cheek, and saying with a merry laugh, ‘Am I silly now, mother—am I silly now?’

With a lighter heart and step, and eyes the brighter for the happy tear that dimmed them for a moment, Barnaby resumed his walk; and singing gaily to himself, kept guard upon his quiet post.

His comrade Grip, the partner of his watch, though fond of basking in the sunshine, preferred to-day to walk about the stable; having a great deal to do in the way of scattering the straw, hiding under it such small articles as had been casually left about, and haunting Hugh’s bed, to which he seemed to have taken a particular attachment. Sometimes Barnaby looked in and called him, and then he came hopping out; but he merely did this as a concession to his master’s weakness, and soon returned again to his own grave pursuits: peering into the straw with his bill, and rapidly covering up the place, as if, Midas-like, he were whispering secrets to the earth and burying them; constantly busying himself upon the sly; and affecting, whenever Barnaby came past, to look up in the clouds and have nothing whatever on his mind: in short, conducting himself, in many respects, in a more than usually thoughtful, deep, and mysterious manner.

As the day crept on, Barnaby, who had no directions forbidding him to eat and drink upon his post, but had been, on the contrary, supplied with a bottle of beer and a basket of provisions, determined to break his fast, which he had not done since morning. To this end, he sat down on the ground before the door, and putting his staff across his knees in case of alarm or surprise, summoned Grip to dinner.

This call, the bird obeyed with great alacrity; crying, as he sidled up to his master, ‘I’m a devil, I’m a Polly, I’m a kettle, I’m a Protestant, No Popery!’ Having learnt this latter sentiment from the gentry among whom he had lived of late, he delivered it with uncommon emphasis.

‘Well said, Grip!’ cried his master, as he fed him with the daintiest bits. ‘Well said, old boy!’

‘Never say die, bow wow wow, keep up your spirits, Grip Grip Grip, Holloa! We’ll all have tea, I’m a Protestant kettle, No Popery!’ cried the raven.

‘Gordon for ever, Grip!’ cried Barnaby.

The raven, placing his head upon the ground, looked at his master sideways, as though he would have said, ‘Say that again!’ Perfectly understanding his desire, Barnaby repeated the phrase a great many times. The bird listened with profound attention; sometimes repeating the popular cry in a low voice, as if to compare the two, and try if it would at all help him to this new accomplishment; sometimes flapping his wings, or barking; and sometimes in a kind of desperation drawing a multitude of corks, with extraordinary viciousness.

Barnaby was so intent upon his favourite, that he was not at first aware of the approach of two persons on horseback, who were riding at a foot-pace, and coming straight towards his post. When he perceived them, however, which he did when they were within some fifty yards of him, he jumped hastily up, and ordering Grip within doors, stood with both hands on his staff, waiting until he should know whether they were friends or foes.

He had hardly done so, when he observed that those who advanced were a gentleman and his servant; almost at the same moment he recognised Lord George Gordon, before whom he stood uncovered, with his eyes turned towards the ground.

‘Good day!’ said Lord George, not reining in his horse until he was close beside him. ‘Well!’

‘All quiet, sir, all safe!’ cried Barnaby. ‘The rest are away—they went by that path—that one. A grand party!’

‘Ay?’ said Lord George, looking thoughtfully at him. ‘And you?’

‘Oh! They left me here to watch—to mount guard—to keep everything secure till they come back. I’ll do it, sir, for your sake. You’re a good gentleman; a kind gentleman—ay, you are. There are many against you, but we’ll be a match for them, never fear!’

‘What’s that?’ said Lord George—pointing to the raven who was peeping out of the stable-door—but still looking thoughtfully, and in some perplexity, it seemed, at Barnaby.

‘Why, don’t you know!’ retorted Barnaby, with a wondering laugh. ‘Not know what HE is! A bird, to be sure. My bird—my friend—Grip.’

‘A devil, a kettle, a Grip, a Polly, a Protestant, no Popery!’ cried the raven.

‘Though, indeed,’ added Barnaby, laying his hand upon the neck of Lord George’s horse, and speaking softly: ‘you had good reason to ask me what he is, for sometimes it puzzles me—and I am used to him—to think he’s only a bird. He’s my brother, Grip is—always with me—always talking—always merry—eh, Grip?’

The raven answered by an affectionate croak, and hopping on his master’s arm, which he held downward for that purpose, submitted with an air of perfect indifference to be fondled, and turned his restless, curious eye, now upon Lord George, and now upon his man.

Lord George, biting his nails in a discomfited manner, regarded Barnaby for some time in silence; then beckoning to his servant, said:

‘Come hither, John.’

John Grueby touched his hat, and came.

‘Have you ever seen this young man before?’ his master asked in a low voice.

‘Twice, my lord,’ said John. ‘I saw him in the crowd last night and Saturday.’

‘Did—did it seem to you that his manner was at all wild or strange?’ Lord George demanded, faltering.

‘Mad,’ said John, with emphatic brevity.

‘And why do you think him mad, sir?’ said his master, speaking in a peevish tone. ‘Don’t use that word too freely. Why do you think him mad?’

‘My lord,’ John Grueby answered, ‘look at his dress, look at his eyes, look at his restless way, hear him cry “No Popery!” Mad, my lord.’

‘So because one man dresses unlike another,’ returned his angry master, glancing at himself; ‘and happens to differ from other men in his carriage and manner, and to advocate a great cause which the corrupt and irreligious desert, he is to be accounted mad, is he?’

‘Stark, staring, raving, roaring mad, my lord,’ returned the unmoved John.

‘Do you say this to my face?’ cried his master, turning sharply upon him.

‘To any man, my lord, who asks me,’ answered John.

‘Mr Gashford, I find, was right,’ said Lord George; ‘I thought him prejudiced, though I ought to have known a man like him better than to have supposed it possible!’

‘I shall never have Mr Gashford’s good word, my lord,’ replied John, touching his hat respectfully, ‘and I don’t covet it.’

‘You are an ill-conditioned, most ungrateful fellow,’ said Lord George: ‘a spy, for anything I know. Mr Gashford is perfectly correct, as I might have felt convinced he was. I have done wrong to retain you in my service. It is a tacit insult to him as my choice and confidential friend to do so, remembering the cause you sided with, on the day he was maligned at Westminster. You will leave me to-night—nay, as soon as we reach home. The sooner the better.’

‘If it comes to that, I say so too, my lord. Let Mr Gashford have his will. As to my being a spy, my lord, you know me better than to believe it, I am sure. I don’t know much about causes. My cause is the cause of one man against two hundred; and I hope it always will be.’

‘You have said quite enough,’ returned Lord George, motioning him to go back. ‘I desire to hear no more.’

‘If you’ll let me have another word, my lord,’ returned John Grueby, ‘I’d give this silly fellow a caution not to stay here by himself. The proclamation is in a good many hands already, and it’s well known that he was concerned in the business it relates to. He had better get to a place of safety if he can, poor creature.’

‘You hear what this man says?’ cried Lord George, addressing Barnaby, who had looked on and wondered while this dialogue passed. ‘He thinks you may be afraid to remain upon your post, and are kept here perhaps against your will. What do you say?’

‘I think, young man,’ said John, in explanation, ‘that the soldiers may turn out and take you; and that if they do, you will certainly be hung by the neck till you’re dead—dead—dead. And I think you had better go from here, as fast as you can. That’s what I think.’

‘He’s a coward, Grip, a coward!’ cried Barnaby, putting the raven on the ground, and shouldering his staff. ‘Let them come! Gordon for ever! Let them come!’

‘Ay!’ said Lord George, ‘let them! Let us see who will venture to attack a power like ours; the solemn league of a whole people. THIS a madman! You have said well, very well. I am proud to be the leader of such men as you.’

Barnaby’s heart swelled within his bosom as he heard these words. He took Lord George’s hand and carried it to his lips; patted his horse’s crest, as if the affection and admiration he had conceived for the man extended to the animal he rode; then unfurling his flag, and proudly waving it, resumed his pacing up and down.

Lord George, with a kindling eye and glowing cheek, took off his hat, and flourishing it above his head, bade him exultingly Farewell!—then cantered off at a brisk pace; after glancing angrily round to see that his servant followed. Honest John set spurs to his horse and rode after his master, but not before he had again warned Barnaby to retreat, with many significant gestures, which indeed he continued to make, and Barnaby to resist, until the windings of the road concealed them from each other’s view.

Left to himself again with a still higher sense of the importance of his post, and stimulated to enthusiasm by the special notice and encouragement of his leader, Barnaby walked to and fro in a delicious trance rather than as a waking man. The sunshine which prevailed around was in his mind. He had but one desire ungratified. If she could only see him now!

The day wore on; its heat was gently giving place to the cool of evening; a light wind sprung up, fanning his long hair, and making the banner rustle pleasantly above his head. There was a freedom and freshness in the sound and in the time, which chimed exactly with his mood. He was happier than ever.

He was leaning on his staff looking towards the declining sun, and reflecting with a smile that he stood sentinel at that moment over buried gold, when two or three figures appeared in the distance, making towards the house at a rapid pace, and motioning with their hands as though they urged its inmates to retreat from some approaching danger. As they drew nearer, they became more earnest in their gestures; and they were no sooner within hearing, than the foremost among them cried that the soldiers were coming up.

At these words, Barnaby furled his flag, and tied it round the pole. His heart beat high while he did so, but he had no more fear or thought of retreating than the pole itself. The friendly stragglers hurried past him, after giving him notice of his danger, and quickly passed into the house, where the utmost confusion immediately prevailed. As those within hastily closed the windows and the doors, they urged him by looks and signs to fly without loss of time, and called to him many times to do so; but he only shook his head indignantly in answer, and stood the firmer on his post. Finding that he was not to be persuaded, they took care of themselves; and leaving the place with only one old woman in it, speedily withdrew.

As yet there had been no symptom of the news having any better foundation than in the fears of those who brought it, but The Boot had not been deserted five minutes, when there appeared, coming across the fields, a body of men who, it was easy to see, by the glitter of their arms and ornaments in the sun, and by their orderly and regular mode of advancing—for they came on as one man—were soldiers. In a very little time, Barnaby knew that they were a strong detachment of the Foot Guards, having along with them two gentlemen in private clothes, and a small party of Horse; the latter brought up the rear, and were not in number more than six or eight.

They advanced steadily; neither quickening their pace as they came nearer, nor raising any cry, nor showing the least emotion or anxiety. Though this was a matter of course in the case of regular troops, even to Barnaby, there was something particularly impressive and disconcerting in it to one accustomed to the noise and tumult of an undisciplined mob. For all that, he stood his ground not a whit the less resolutely, and looked on undismayed.

Presently, they marched into the yard, and halted. The commanding-officer despatched a messenger to the horsemen, one of whom came riding back. Some words passed between them, and they glanced at Barnaby; who well remembered the man he had unhorsed at Westminster, and saw him now before his eyes. The man being speedily dismissed, saluted, and rode back to his comrades, who were drawn up apart at a short distance.

The officer then gave the word to prime and load. The heavy ringing of the musket-stocks upon the ground, and the sharp and rapid rattling of the ramrods in their barrels, were a kind of relief to Barnaby, deadly though he knew the purport of such sounds to be. When this was done, other commands were given, and the soldiers instantaneously formed in single file all round the house and stables; completely encircling them in every part, at a distance, perhaps, of some half-dozen yards; at least that seemed in Barnaby’s eyes to be about the space left between himself and those who confronted him. The horsemen remained drawn up by themselves as before.

The two gentlemen in private clothes who had kept aloof, now rode forward, one on either side the officer. The proclamation having been produced and read by one of them, the officer called on Barnaby to surrender.

He made no answer, but stepping within the door, before which he had kept guard, held his pole crosswise to protect it. In the midst of a profound silence, he was again called upon to yield.

Still he offered no reply. Indeed he had enough to do, to run his eye backward and forward along the half-dozen men who immediately fronted him, and settle hurriedly within himself at which of them he would strike first, when they pressed on him. He caught the eye of one in the centre, and resolved to hew that fellow down, though he died for it.

Again there was a dead silence, and again the same voice called upon him to deliver himself up.

Next moment he was back in the stable, dealing blows about him like a madman. Two of the men lay stretched at his feet: the one he had marked, dropped first—he had a thought for that, even in the hot blood and hurry of the struggle. Another blow—another! Down, mastered, wounded in the breast by a heavy blow from the butt-end of a gun (he saw the weapon in the act of falling)—breathless—and a prisoner.

An exclamation of surprise from the officer recalled him, in some degree, to himself. He looked round. Grip, after working in secret all the afternoon, and with redoubled vigour while everybody’s attention was distracted, had plucked away the straw from Hugh’s bed, and turned up the loose ground with his iron bill. The hole had been recklessly filled to the brim, and was merely sprinkled with earth. Golden cups, spoons, candlesticks, coined guineas—all the riches were revealed.

They brought spades and a sack; dug up everything that was hidden there; and carried away more than two men could lift. They handcuffed him and bound his arms, searched him, and took away all he had. Nobody questioned or reproached him, or seemed to have much curiosity about him. The two men he had stunned, were carried off by their companions in the same business-like way in which everything else was done. Finally, he was left under a guard of four soldiers with fixed bayonets, while the officer directed in person the search of the house and the other buildings connected with it.

This was soon completed. The soldiers formed again in the yard; he was marched out, with his guard about him; and ordered to fall in, where a space was left. The others closed up all round, and so they moved away, with the prisoner in the centre.

When they came into the streets, he felt he was a sight; and looking up as they passed quickly along, could see people running to the windows a little too late, and throwing up the sashes to look after him. Sometimes he met a staring face beyond the heads about him, or under the arms of his conductors, or peering down upon him from a waggon-top or coach-box; but this was all he saw, being surrounded by so many men. The very noises of the streets seemed muffled and subdued; and the air came stale and hot upon him, like the sickly breath of an oven.

Tramp, tramp. Tramp, tramp. Heads erect, shoulders square, every man stepping in exact time—all so orderly and regular—nobody looking at him—nobody seeming conscious of his presence,—he could hardly believe he was a Prisoner. But at the word, though only thought, not spoken, he felt the handcuffs galling his wrists, the cord pressing his arms to his sides: the loaded guns levelled at his head; and those cold, bright, sharp, shining points turned towards him: the mere looking down at which, now that he was bound and helpless, made the warm current of his life run cold.






Chapter 58

They were not long in reaching the barracks, for the officer who commanded the party was desirous to avoid rousing the people by the display of military force in the streets, and was humanely anxious to give as little opportunity as possible for any attempt at rescue; knowing that it must lead to bloodshed and loss of life, and that if the civil authorities by whom he was accompanied, empowered him to order his men to fire, many innocent persons would probably fall, whom curiosity or idleness had attracted to the spot. He therefore led the party briskly on, avoiding with a merciful prudence the more public and crowded thoroughfares, and pursuing those which he deemed least likely to be infested by disorderly persons. This wise proceeding not only enabled them to gain their quarters without any interruption, but completely baffled a body of rioters who had assembled in one of the main streets, through which it was considered certain they would pass, and who remained gathered together for the purpose of releasing the prisoner from their hands, long after they had deposited him in a place of security, closed the barrack-gates, and set a double guard at every entrance for its better protection.

Arrived at this place, poor Barnaby was marched into a stone-floored room, where there was a very powerful smell of tobacco, a strong thorough draught of air, and a great wooden bedstead, large enough for a score of men. Several soldiers in undress were lounging about, or eating from tin cans; military accoutrements dangled on rows of pegs along the whitewashed wall; and some half-dozen men lay fast asleep upon their backs, snoring in concert. After remaining here just long enough to note these things, he was marched out again, and conveyed across the parade-ground to another portion of the building.

Perhaps a man never sees so much at a glance as when he is in a situation of extremity. The chances are a hundred to one, that if Barnaby had lounged in at the gate to look about him, he would have lounged out again with a very imperfect idea of the place, and would have remembered very little about it. But as he was taken handcuffed across the gravelled area, nothing escaped his notice. The dry, arid look of the dusty square, and of the bare brick building; the clothes hanging at some of the windows; and the men in their shirt-sleeves and braces, lolling with half their bodies out of the others; the green sun-blinds at the officers’ quarters, and the little scanty trees in front; the drummer-boys practising in a distant courtyard; the men at drill on the parade; the two soldiers carrying a basket between them, who winked to each other as he went by, and slily pointed to their throats; the spruce serjeant who hurried past with a cane in his hand, and under his arm a clasped book with a vellum cover; the fellows in the ground-floor rooms, furbishing and brushing up their different articles of dress, who stopped to look at him, and whose voices as they spoke together echoed loudly through the empty galleries and passages;—everything, down to the stand of muskets before the guard-house, and the drum with a pipe-clayed belt attached, in one corner, impressed itself upon his observation, as though he had noticed them in the same place a hundred times, or had been a whole day among them, in place of one brief hurried minute.

He was taken into a small paved back yard, and there they opened a great door, plated with iron, and pierced some five feet above the ground with a few holes to let in air and light. Into this dungeon he was walked straightway; and having locked him up there, and placed a sentry over him, they left him to his meditations.

The cell, or black hole, for it had those words painted on the door, was very dark, and having recently accommodated a drunken deserter, by no means clean. Barnaby felt his way to some straw at the farther end, and looking towards the door, tried to accustom himself to the gloom, which, coming from the bright sunshine out of doors, was not an easy task.

There was a kind of portico or colonnade outside, and this obstructed even the little light that at the best could have found its way through the small apertures in the door. The footsteps of the sentinel echoed monotonously as he paced its stone pavement to and fro (reminding Barnaby of the watch he had so lately kept himself); and as he passed and repassed the door, he made the cell for an instant so black by the interposition of his body, that his going away again seemed like the appearance of a new ray of light, and was quite a circumstance to look for.

When the prisoner had sat sometime upon the ground, gazing at the chinks, and listening to the advancing and receding footsteps of his guard, the man stood still upon his post. Barnaby, quite unable to think, or to speculate on what would be done with him, had been lulled into a kind of doze by his regular pace; but his stopping roused him; and then he became aware that two men were in conversation under the colonnade, and very near the door of his cell.

How long they had been talking there, he could not tell, for he had fallen into an unconsciousness of his real position, and when the footsteps ceased, was answering aloud some question which seemed to have been put to him by Hugh in the stable, though of the fancied purport, either of question or reply, notwithstanding that he awoke with the latter on his lips, he had no recollection whatever. The first words that reached his ears, were these:

‘Why is he brought here then, if he has to be taken away again so soon?’

‘Why where would you have him go! Damme, he’s not as safe anywhere as among the king’s troops, is he? What WOULD you do with him? Would you hand him over to a pack of cowardly civilians, that shake in their shoes till they wear the soles out, with trembling at the threats of the ragamuffins he belongs to?’

‘That’s true enough.’

‘True enough!—I’ll tell you what. I wish, Tom Green, that I was a commissioned instead of a non-commissioned officer, and that I had the command of two companies—only two companies—of my own regiment. Call me out to stop these riots—give me the needful authority, and half-a-dozen rounds of ball cartridge—’

‘Ay!’ said the other voice. ‘That’s all very well, but they won’t give the needful authority. If the magistrate won’t give the word, what’s the officer to do?’

Not very well knowing, as it seemed, how to overcome this difficulty, the other man contented himself with damning the magistrates.

‘With all my heart,’ said his friend.

‘Where’s the use of a magistrate?’ returned the other voice. ‘What’s a magistrate in this case, but an impertinent, unnecessary, unconstitutional sort of interference? Here’s a proclamation. Here’s a man referred to in that proclamation. Here’s proof against him, and a witness on the spot. Damme! Take him out and shoot him, sir. Who wants a magistrate?’

‘When does he go before Sir John Fielding?’ asked the man who had spoken first.

‘To-night at eight o’clock,’ returned the other. ‘Mark what follows. The magistrate commits him to Newgate. Our people take him to Newgate. The rioters pelt our people. Our people retire before the rioters. Stones are thrown, insults are offered, not a shot’s fired. Why? Because of the magistrates. Damn the magistrates!’

When he had in some degree relieved his mind by cursing the magistrates in various other forms of speech, the man was silent, save for a low growling, still having reference to those authorities, which from time to time escaped him.

Barnaby, who had wit enough to know that this conversation concerned, and very nearly concerned, himself, remained perfectly quiet until they ceased to speak, when he groped his way to the door, and peeping through the air-holes, tried to make out what kind of men they were, to whom he had been listening.

The one who condemned the civil power in such strong terms, was a serjeant—engaged just then, as the streaming ribands in his cap announced, on the recruiting service. He stood leaning sideways against a pillar nearly opposite the door, and as he growled to himself, drew figures on the pavement with his cane. The other man had his back towards the dungeon, and Barnaby could only see his form. To judge from that, he was a gallant, manly, handsome fellow, but he had lost his left arm. It had been taken off between the elbow and the shoulder, and his empty coat-sleeve hung across his breast.

It was probably this circumstance which gave him an interest beyond any that his companion could boast of, and attracted Barnaby’s attention. There was something soldierly in his bearing, and he wore a jaunty cap and jacket. Perhaps he had been in the service at one time or other. If he had, it could not have been very long ago, for he was but a young fellow now.

‘Well, well,’ he said thoughtfully; ‘let the fault be where it may, it makes a man sorrowful to come back to old England, and see her in this condition.’

‘I suppose the pigs will join ‘em next,’ said the serjeant, with an imprecation on the rioters, ‘now that the birds have set ‘em the example.’

‘The birds!’ repeated Tom Green.

‘Ah—birds,’ said the serjeant testily; ‘that’s English, an’t it?’

‘I don’t know what you mean.’

‘Go to the guard-house, and see. You’ll find a bird there, that’s got their cry as pat as any of ‘em, and bawls “No Popery,” like a man—or like a devil, as he says he is. I shouldn’t wonder. The devil’s loose in London somewhere. Damme if I wouldn’t twist his neck round, on the chance, if I had MY way.’

The young man had taken two or three steps away, as if to go and see this creature, when he was arrested by the voice of Barnaby.

‘It’s mine,’ he called out, half laughing and half weeping—‘my pet, my friend Grip. Ha ha ha! Don’t hurt him, he has done no harm. I taught him; it’s my fault. Let me have him, if you please. He’s the only friend I have left now. He’ll not dance, or talk, or whistle for you, I know; but he will for me, because he knows me and loves me—though you wouldn’t think it—very well. You wouldn’t hurt a bird, I’m sure. You’re a brave soldier, sir, and wouldn’t harm a woman or a child—no, no, nor a poor bird, I’m certain.’

This latter adjuration was addressed to the serjeant, whom Barnaby judged from his red coat to be high in office, and able to seal Grip’s destiny by a word. But that gentleman, in reply, surlily damned him for a thief and rebel as he was, and with many disinterested imprecations on his own eyes, liver, blood, and body, assured him that if it rested with him to decide, he would put a final stopper on the bird, and his master too.

‘You talk boldly to a caged man,’ said Barnaby, in anger. ‘If I was on the other side of the door and there were none to part us, you’d change your note—ay, you may toss your head—you would! Kill the bird—do. Kill anything you can, and so revenge yourself on those who with their bare hands untied could do as much to you!’

Having vented his defiance, he flung himself into the furthest corner of his prison, and muttering, ‘Good bye, Grip—good bye, dear old Grip!’ shed tears for the first time since he had been taken captive; and hid his face in the straw.

He had had some fancy at first, that the one-armed man would help him, or would give him a kind word in answer. He hardly knew why, but he hoped and thought so. The young fellow had stopped when he called out, and checking himself in the very act of turning round, stood listening to every word he said. Perhaps he built his feeble trust on this; perhaps on his being young, and having a frank and honest manner. However that might be, he built on sand. The other went away directly he had finished speaking, and neither answered him, nor returned. No matter. They were all against him here: he might have known as much. Good bye, old Grip, good bye!

After some time, they came and unlocked the door, and called to him to come out. He rose directly, and complied, for he would not have THEM think he was subdued or frightened. He walked out like a man, and looked from face to face.

None of them returned his gaze or seemed to notice it. They marched him back to the parade by the way they had brought him, and there they halted, among a body of soldiers, at least twice as numerous as that which had taken him prisoner in the afternoon. The officer he had seen before, bade him in a few brief words take notice that if he attempted to escape, no matter how favourable a chance he might suppose he had, certain of the men had orders to fire upon him, that moment. They then closed round him as before, and marched him off again.

In the same unbroken order they arrived at Bow Street, followed and beset on all sides by a crowd which was continually increasing. Here he was placed before a blind gentleman, and asked if he wished to say anything. Not he. What had he got to tell them? After a very little talking, which he was careless of and quite indifferent to, they told him he was to go to Newgate, and took him away.

He went out into the street, so surrounded and hemmed in on every side by soldiers, that he could see nothing; but he knew there was a great crowd of people, by the murmur; and that they were not friendly to the soldiers, was soon rendered evident by their yells and hisses. How often and how eagerly he listened for the voice of Hugh! There was not a voice he knew among them all. Was Hugh a prisoner too? Was there no hope!

As they came nearer and nearer to the prison, the hootings of the people grew more violent; stones were thrown; and every now and then, a rush was made against the soldiers, which they staggered under. One of them, close before him, smarting under a blow upon the temple, levelled his musket, but the officer struck it upwards with his sword, and ordered him on peril of his life to desist. This was the last thing he saw with any distinctness, for directly afterwards he was tossed about, and beaten to and fro, as though in a tempestuous sea. But go where he would, there were the same guards about him. Twice or thrice he was thrown down, and so were they; but even then, he could not elude their vigilance for a moment. They were up again, and had closed about him, before he, with his wrists so tightly bound, could scramble to his feet. Fenced in, thus, he felt himself hoisted to the top of a low flight of steps, and then for a moment he caught a glimpse of the fighting in the crowd, and of a few red coats sprinkled together, here and there, struggling to rejoin their fellows. Next moment, everything was dark and gloomy, and he was standing in the prison lobby; the centre of a group of men.

A smith was speedily in attendance, who riveted upon him a set of heavy irons. Stumbling on as well as he could, beneath the unusual burden of these fetters, he was conducted to a strong stone cell, where, fastening the door with locks, and bolts, and chains, they left him, well secured; having first, unseen by him, thrust in Grip, who, with his head drooping and his deep black plumes rough and rumpled, appeared to comprehend and to partake, his master’s fallen fortunes.






Chapter 59

It is necessary at this juncture to return to Hugh, who, having, as we have seen, called to the rioters to disperse from about the Warren, and meet again as usual, glided back into the darkness from which he had emerged, and reappeared no more that night.

He paused in the copse which sheltered him from the observation of his mad companions, and waited to ascertain whether they drew off at his bidding, or still lingered and called to him to join them. Some few, he saw, were indisposed to go away without him, and made towards the spot where he stood concealed as though they were about to follow in his footsteps, and urge him to come back; but these men, being in their turn called to by their friends, and in truth not greatly caring to venture into the dark parts of the grounds, where they might be easily surprised and taken, if any of the neighbours or retainers of the family were watching them from among the trees, soon abandoned the idea, and hastily assembling such men as they found of their mind at the moment, straggled off.

When he was satisfied that the great mass of the insurgents were imitating this example, and that the ground was rapidly clearing, he plunged into the thickest portion of the little wood; and, crashing the branches as he went, made straight towards a distant light: guided by that, and by the sullen glow of the fire behind him.

As he drew nearer and nearer to the twinkling beacon towards which he bent his course, the red glare of a few torches began to reveal itself, and the voices of men speaking together in a subdued tone broke the silence which, save for a distant shouting now and then, already prevailed. At length he cleared the wood, and, springing across a ditch, stood in a dark lane, where a small body of ill-looking vagabonds, whom he had left there some twenty minutes before, waited his coming with impatience.

They were gathered round an old post-chaise or chariot, driven by one of themselves, who sat postilion-wise upon the near horse. The blinds were drawn up, and Mr Tappertit and Dennis kept guard at the two windows. The former assumed the command of the party, for he challenged Hugh as he advanced towards them; and when he did so, those who were resting on the ground about the carriage rose to their feet and clustered round him.

‘Well!’ said Simon, in a low voice; ‘is all right?’

‘Right enough,’ replied Hugh, in the same tone. ‘They’re dispersing now—had begun before I came away.’

‘And is the coast clear?’

‘Clear enough before our men, I take it,’ said Hugh. ‘There are not many who, knowing of their work over yonder, will want to meddle with ‘em to-night.—Who’s got some drink here?’

Everybody had some plunder from the cellar; half-a-dozen flasks and bottles were offered directly. He selected the largest, and putting it to his mouth, sent the wine gurgling down his throat. Having emptied it, he threw it down, and stretched out his hand for another, which he emptied likewise, at a draught. Another was given him, and this he half emptied too. Reserving what remained to finish with, he asked:

‘Have you got anything to eat, any of you? I’m as ravenous as a hungry wolf. Which of you was in the larder—come?’

‘I was, brother,’ said Dennis, pulling off his hat, and fumbling in the crown. ‘There’s a matter of cold venison pasty somewhere or another here, if that’ll do.’

‘Do!’ cried Hugh, seating himself on the pathway. ‘Bring it out! Quick! Show a light here, and gather round! Let me sup in state, my lads! Ha ha ha!’

Entering into his boisterous humour, for they all had drunk deeply, and were as wild as he, they crowded about him, while two of their number who had torches, held them up, one on either side of him, that his banquet might not be despatched in the dark. Mr Dennis, having by this time succeeded in extricating from his hat a great mass of pasty, which had been wedged in so tightly that it was not easily got out, put it before him; and Hugh, having borrowed a notched and jagged knife from one of the company, fell to work upon it vigorously.

‘I should recommend you to swallow a little fire every day, about an hour afore dinner, brother,’ said Dennis, after a pause. ‘It seems to agree with you, and to stimulate your appetite.’

Hugh looked at him, and at the blackened faces by which he was surrounded, and, stopping for a moment to flourish his knife above his head, answered with a roar of laughter.

‘Keep order, there, will you?’ said Simon Tappertit.

‘Why, isn’t a man allowed to regale himself, noble captain,’ retorted his lieutenant, parting the men who stood between them, with his knife, that he might see him,—‘to regale himself a little bit after such work as mine? What a hard captain! What a strict captain! What a tyrannical captain! Ha ha ha!’

‘I wish one of you fellers would hold a bottle to his mouth to keep him quiet,’ said Simon, ‘unless you want the military to be down upon us.’

‘And what if they are down upon us!’ retorted Hugh. ‘Who cares? Who’s afraid? Let ‘em come, I say, let ‘em come. The more, the merrier. Give me bold Barnaby at my side, and we two will settle the military, without troubling any of you. Barnaby’s the man for the military. Barnaby’s health!’

But as the majority of those present were by no means anxious for a second engagement that night, being already weary and exhausted, they sided with Mr Tappertit, and pressed him to make haste with his supper, for they had already delayed too long. Knowing, even in the height of his frenzy, that they incurred great danger by lingering so near the scene of the late outrages, Hugh made an end of his meal without more remonstrance, and rising, stepped up to Mr Tappertit, and smote him on the back.

‘Now then,’ he cried, ‘I’m ready. There are brave birds inside this cage, eh? Delicate birds,—tender, loving, little doves. I caged ‘em—I caged ‘em—one more peep!’

He thrust the little man aside as he spoke, and mounting on the steps, which were half let down, pulled down the blind by force, and stared into the chaise like an ogre into his larder.

‘Ha ha ha! and did you scratch, and pinch, and struggle, pretty mistress?’ he cried, as he grasped a little hand that sought in vain to free itself from his grip: ‘you, so bright-eyed, and cherry-lipped, and daintily made? But I love you better for it, mistress. Ay, I do. You should stab me and welcome, so that it pleased you, and you had to cure me afterwards. I love to see you proud and scornful. It makes you handsomer than ever; and who so handsome as you at any time, my pretty one!’

‘Come!’ said Mr Tappertit, who had waited during this speech with considerable impatience. ‘There’s enough of that. Come down.’

The little hand seconded this admonition by thrusting Hugh’s great head away with all its force, and drawing up the blind, amidst his noisy laughter, and vows that he must have another look, for the last glimpse of that sweet face had provoked him past all bearing. However, as the suppressed impatience of the party now broke out into open murmurs, he abandoned this design, and taking his seat upon the bar, contented himself with tapping at the front windows of the carriage, and trying to steal a glance inside; Mr Tappertit, mounting the steps and hanging on by the door, issued his directions to the driver with a commanding voice and attitude; the rest got up behind, or ran by the side of the carriage, as they could; some, in imitation of Hugh, endeavoured to see the face he had praised so highly, and were reminded of their impertinence by hints from the cudgel of Mr Tappertit. Thus they pursued their journey by circuitous and winding roads; preserving, except when they halted to take breath, or to quarrel about the best way of reaching London, pretty good order and tolerable silence.

In the mean time, Dolly—beautiful, bewitching, captivating little Dolly—her hair dishevelled, her dress torn, her dark eyelashes wet with tears, her bosom heaving—her face, now pale with fear, now crimsoned with indignation—her whole self a hundred times more beautiful in this heightened aspect than ever she had been before—vainly strove to comfort Emma Haredale, and to impart to her the consolation of which she stood in so much need herself. The soldiers were sure to come; they must be rescued; it would be impossible to convey them through the streets of London when they set the threats of their guards at defiance, and shrieked to the passengers for help. If they did this when they came into the more frequented ways, she was certain—she was quite certain—they must be released. So poor Dolly said, and so poor Dolly tried to think; but the invariable conclusion of all such arguments was, that Dolly burst into tears; cried, as she wrung her hands, what would they do or think, or who would comfort them, at home, at the Golden Key; and sobbed most piteously.

Miss Haredale, whose feelings were usually of a quieter kind than Dolly’s, and not so much upon the surface, was dreadfully alarmed, and indeed had only just recovered from a swoon. She was very pale, and the hand which Dolly held was quite cold; but she bade her, nevertheless, remember that, under Providence, much must depend upon their own discretion; that if they remained quiet and lulled the vigilance of the ruffians into whose hands they had fallen, the chances of their being able to procure assistance when they reached the town, were very much increased; that unless society were quite unhinged, a hot pursuit must be immediately commenced; and that her uncle, she might be sure, would never rest until he had found them out and rescued them. But as she said these latter words, the idea that he had fallen in a general massacre of the Catholics that night—no very wild or improbable supposition after what they had seen and undergone—struck her dumb; and, lost in the horrors they had witnessed, and those they might be yet reserved for, she sat incapable of thought, or speech, or outward show of grief: as rigid, and almost as white and cold, as marble.

Oh, how many, many times, in that long ride, did Dolly think of her old lover,—poor, fond, slighted Joe! How many, many times, did she recall that night when she ran into his arms from the very man now projecting his hateful gaze into the darkness where she sat, and leering through the glass in monstrous admiration! And when she thought of Joe, and what a brave fellow he was, and how he would have rode boldly up, and dashed in among these villains now, yes, though they were double the number—and here she clenched her little hand, and pressed her foot upon the ground—the pride she felt for a moment in having won his heart, faded in a burst of tears, and she sobbed more bitterly than ever.

As the night wore on, and they proceeded by ways which were quite unknown to them—for they could recognise none of the objects of which they sometimes caught a hurried glimpse—their fears increased; nor were they without good foundation; it was not difficult for two beautiful young women to find, in their being borne they knew not whither by a band of daring villains who eyed them as some among these fellows did, reasons for the worst alarm. When they at last entered London, by a suburb with which they were wholly unacquainted, it was past midnight, and the streets were dark and empty. Nor was this the worst, for the carriage stopping in a lonely spot, Hugh suddenly opened the door, jumped in, and took his seat between them.

It was in vain they cried for help. He put his arm about the neck of each, and swore to stifle them with kisses if they were not as silent as the grave.

‘I come here to keep you quiet,’ he said, ‘and that’s the means I shall take. So don’t be quiet, pretty mistresses—make a noise—do—and I shall like it all the better.’

They were proceeding at a rapid pace, and apparently with fewer attendants than before, though it was so dark (the torches being extinguished) that this was mere conjecture. They shrunk from his touch, each into the farthest corner of the carriage; but shrink as Dolly would, his arm encircled her waist, and held her fast. She neither cried nor spoke, for terror and disgust deprived her of the power; but she plucked at his hand as though she would die in the effort to disengage herself; and crouching on the ground, with her head averted and held down, repelled him with a strength she wondered at as much as he. The carriage stopped again.

‘Lift this one out,’ said Hugh to the man who opened the door, as he took Miss Haredale’s hand, and felt how heavily it fell. ‘She’s fainted.’

‘So much the better,’ growled Dennis—it was that amiable gentleman. ‘She’s quiet. I always like ‘em to faint, unless they’re very tender and composed.’

‘Can you take her by yourself?’ asked Hugh.

‘I don’t know till I try. I ought to be able to; I’ve lifted up a good many in my time,’ said the hangman. ‘Up then! She’s no small weight, brother; none of these here fine gals are. Up again! Now we have her.’

Having by this time hoisted the young lady into his arms, he staggered off with his burden.

‘Look ye, pretty bird,’ said Hugh, drawing Dolly towards him. ‘Remember what I told you—a kiss for every cry. Scream, if you love me, darling. Scream once, mistress. Pretty mistress, only once, if you love me.’

Thrusting his face away with all her force, and holding down her head, Dolly submitted to be carried out of the chaise, and borne after Miss Haredale into a miserable cottage, where Hugh, after hugging her to his breast, set her gently down upon the floor.

Poor Dolly! Do what she would, she only looked the better for it, and tempted them the more. When her eyes flashed angrily, and her ripe lips slightly parted, to give her rapid breathing vent, who could resist it? When she wept and sobbed as though her heart would break, and bemoaned her miseries in the sweetest voice that ever fell upon a listener’s ear, who could be insensible to the little winning pettishness which now and then displayed itself, even in the sincerity and earnestness of her grief? When, forgetful for a moment of herself, as she was now, she fell on her knees beside her friend, and bent over her, and laid her cheek to hers, and put her arms about her, what mortal eyes could have avoided wandering to the delicate bodice, the streaming hair, the neglected dress, the perfect abandonment and unconsciousness of the blooming little beauty? Who could look on and see her lavish caresses and endearments, and not desire to be in Emma Haredale’s place; to be either her or Dolly; either the hugging or the hugged? Not Hugh. Not Dennis.

‘I tell you what it is, young women,’ said Mr Dennis, ‘I an’t much of a lady’s man myself, nor am I a party in the present business further than lending a willing hand to my friends: but if I see much more of this here sort of thing, I shall become a principal instead of a accessory. I tell you candid.’

‘Why have you brought us here?’ said Emma. ‘Are we to be murdered?’

‘Murdered!’ cried Dennis, sitting down upon a stool, and regarding her with great favour. ‘Why, my dear, who’d murder sich chickabiddies as you? If you was to ask me, now, whether you was brought here to be married, there might be something in it.’

And here he exchanged a grin with Hugh, who removed his eyes from Dolly for the purpose.

‘No, no,’ said Dennis, ‘there’ll be no murdering, my pets. Nothing of that sort. Quite the contrairy.’

‘You are an older man than your companion, sir,’ said Emma, trembling. ‘Have you no pity for us? Do you not consider that we are women?’

‘I do indeed, my dear,’ retorted Dennis. ‘It would be very hard not to, with two such specimens afore my eyes. Ha ha! Oh yes, I consider that. We all consider that, miss.’

He shook his head waggishly, leered at Hugh again, and laughed very much, as if he had said a noble thing, and rather thought he was coming out.

‘There’ll be no murdering, my dear. Not a bit on it. I tell you what though, brother,’ said Dennis, cocking his hat for the convenience of scratching his head, and looking gravely at Hugh, ‘it’s worthy of notice, as a proof of the amazing equalness and dignity of our law, that it don’t make no distinction between men and women. I’ve heerd the judge say, sometimes, to a highwayman or housebreaker as had tied the ladies neck and heels—you’ll excuse me making mention of it, my darlings—and put ‘em in a cellar, that he showed no consideration to women. Now, I say that there judge didn’t know his business, brother; and that if I had been that there highwayman or housebreaker, I should have made answer: “What are you a talking of, my lord? I showed the women as much consideration as the law does, and what more would you have me do?” If you was to count up in the newspapers the number of females as have been worked off in this here city alone, in the last ten year,’ said Mr Dennis thoughtfully, ‘you’d be surprised at the total—quite amazed, you would. There’s a dignified and equal thing; a beautiful thing! But we’ve no security for its lasting. Now that they’ve begun to favour these here Papists, I shouldn’t wonder if they went and altered even THAT, one of these days. Upon my soul, I shouldn’t.’

The subject, perhaps from being of too exclusive and professional a nature, failed to interest Hugh as much as his friend had anticipated. But he had no time to pursue it, for at this crisis Mr Tappertit entered precipitately; at sight of whom Dolly uttered a scream of joy, and fairly threw herself into his arms.

‘I knew it, I was sure of it!’ cried Dolly. ‘My dear father’s at the door. Thank God, thank God! Bless you, Sim. Heaven bless you for this!’

Simon Tappertit, who had at first implicitly believed that the locksmith’s daughter, unable any longer to suppress her secret passion for himself, was about to give it full vent in its intensity, and to declare that she was his for ever, looked extremely foolish when she said these words;—the more so, as they were received by Hugh and Dennis with a loud laugh, which made her draw back, and regard him with a fixed and earnest look.

‘Miss Haredale,’ said Sim, after a very awkward silence, ‘I hope you’re as comfortable as circumstances will permit of. Dolly Varden, my darling—my own, my lovely one—I hope YOU’RE pretty comfortable likewise.’

Poor little Dolly! She saw how it was; hid her face in her hands; and sobbed more bitterly than ever.

‘You meet in me, Miss V.,’ said Simon, laying his hand upon his breast, ‘not a ‘prentice, not a workman, not a slave, not the wictim of your father’s tyrannical behaviour, but the leader of a great people, the captain of a noble band, in which these gentlemen are, as I may say, corporals and serjeants. You behold in me, not a private individual, but a public character; not a mender of locks, but a healer of the wounds of his unhappy country. Dolly V., sweet Dolly V., for how many years have I looked forward to this present meeting! For how many years has it been my intention to exalt and ennoble you! I redeem it. Behold in me, your husband. Yes, beautiful Dolly—charmer—enslaver—S. Tappertit is all your own!’

As he said these words he advanced towards her. Dolly retreated till she could go no farther, and then sank down upon the floor. Thinking it very possible that this might be maiden modesty, Simon essayed to raise her; on which Dolly, goaded to desperation, wound her hands in his hair, and crying out amidst her tears that he was a dreadful little wretch, and always had been, shook, and pulled, and beat him, until he was fain to call for help, most lustily. Hugh had never admired her half so much as at that moment.

‘She’s in an excited state to-night,’ said Simon, as he smoothed his rumpled feathers, ‘and don’t know when she’s well off. Let her be by herself till to-morrow, and that’ll bring her down a little. Carry her into the next house!’

Hugh had her in his arms directly. It might be that Mr Tappertit’s heart was really softened by her distress, or it might be that he felt it in some degree indecorous that his intended bride should be struggling in the grasp of another man. He commanded him, on second thoughts, to put her down again, and looked moodily on as she flew to Miss Haredale’s side, and clinging to her dress, hid her flushed face in its folds.

‘They shall remain here together till to-morrow,’ said Simon, who had now quite recovered his dignity—‘till to-morrow. Come away!’

‘Ay!’ cried Hugh. ‘Come away, captain. Ha ha ha!’

‘What are you laughing at?’ demanded Simon sternly.

‘Nothing, captain, nothing,’ Hugh rejoined; and as he spoke, and clapped his hand upon the shoulder of the little man, he laughed again, for some unknown reason, with tenfold violence.

Mr Tappertit surveyed him from head to foot with lofty scorn (this only made him laugh the more), and turning to the prisoners, said:

‘You’ll take notice, ladies, that this place is well watched on every side, and that the least noise is certain to be attended with unpleasant consequences. You’ll hear—both of you—more of our intentions to-morrow. In the mean time, don’t show yourselves at the window, or appeal to any of the people you may see pass it; for if you do, it’ll be known directly that you come from a Catholic house, and all the exertions our men can make, may not be able to save your lives.’

With this last caution, which was true enough, he turned to the door, followed by Hugh and Dennis. They paused for a moment, going out, to look at them clasped in each other’s arms, and then left the cottage; fastening the door, and setting a good watch upon it, and indeed all round the house.

‘I say,’ growled Dennis, as they walked away in company, ‘that’s a dainty pair. Muster Gashford’s one is as handsome as the other, eh?’

‘Hush!’ said Hugh, hastily. ‘Don’t you mention names. It’s a bad habit.’

‘I wouldn’t like to be HIM, then (as you don’t like names), when he breaks it out to her; that’s all,’ said Dennis. ‘She’s one of them fine, black-eyed, proud gals, as I wouldn’t trust at such times with a knife too near ‘em. I’ve seen some of that sort, afore now. I recollect one that was worked off, many year ago—and there was a gentleman in that case too—that says to me, with her lip a trembling, but her hand as steady as ever I see one: “Dennis, I’m near my end, but if I had a dagger in these fingers, and he was within my reach, I’d strike him dead afore me;”—ah, she did—and she’d have done it too!’

Strike who dead?’ demanded Hugh.

‘How should I know, brother?’ answered Dennis. ‘SHE never said; not she.’

Hugh looked, for a moment, as though he would have made some further inquiry into this incoherent recollection; but Simon Tappertit, who had been meditating deeply, gave his thoughts a new direction.

‘Hugh!’ said Sim. ‘You have done well to-day. You shall be rewarded. So have you, Dennis.—There’s no young woman YOU want to carry off, is there?’

‘N—no,’ returned that gentleman, stroking his grizzly beard, which was some two inches long. ‘None in partickler, I think.’

‘Very good,’ said Sim; ‘then we’ll find some other way of making it up to you. As to you, old boy’—he turned to Hugh—‘you shall have Miggs (her that I promised you, you know) within three days. Mind. I pass my word for it.’

Hugh thanked him heartily; and as he did so, his laughing fit returned with such violence that he was obliged to hold his side with one hand, and to lean with the other on the shoulder of his small captain, without whose support he would certainly have rolled upon the ground.






Chapter 60

The three worthies turned their faces towards The Boot, with the intention of passing the night in that place of rendezvous, and of seeking the repose they so much needed in the shelter of their old den; for now that the mischief and destruction they had purposed were achieved, and their prisoners were safely bestowed for the night, they began to be conscious of exhaustion, and to feel the wasting effects of the madness which had led to such deplorable results.

Notwithstanding the lassitude and fatigue which oppressed him now, in common with his two companions, and indeed with all who had taken an active share in that night’s work, Hugh’s boisterous merriment broke out afresh whenever he looked at Simon Tappertit, and vented itself—much to that gentleman’s indignation—in such shouts of laughter as bade fair to bring the watch upon them, and involve them in a skirmish, to which in their present worn-out condition they might prove by no means equal. Even Mr Dennis, who was not at all particular on the score of gravity or dignity, and who had a great relish for his young friend’s eccentric humours, took occasion to remonstrate with him on this imprudent behaviour, which he held to be a species of suicide, tantamount to a man’s working himself off without being overtaken by the law, than which he could imagine nothing more ridiculous or impertinent.

Not abating one jot of his noisy mirth for these remonstrances, Hugh reeled along between them, having an arm of each, until they hove in sight of The Boot, and were within a field or two of that convenient tavern. He happened by great good luck to have roared and shouted himself into silence by this time. They were proceeding onward without noise, when a scout who had been creeping about the ditches all night, to warn any stragglers from encroaching further on what was now such dangerous ground, peeped cautiously from his hiding-place, and called to them to stop.

‘Stop! and why?’ said Hugh.

Because (the scout replied) the house was filled with constables and soldiers; having been surprised that afternoon. The inmates had fled or been taken into custody, he could not say which. He had prevented a great many people from approaching nearer, and he believed they had gone to the markets and such places to pass the night. He had seen the distant fires, but they were all out now. He had heard the people who passed and repassed, speaking of them too, and could report that the prevailing opinion was one of apprehension and dismay. He had not heard a word of Barnaby—didn’t even know his name—but it had been said in his hearing that some man had been taken and carried off to Newgate. Whether this was true or false, he could not affirm.

The three took counsel together, on hearing this, and debated what it might be best to do. Hugh, deeming it possible that Barnaby was in the hands of the soldiers, and at that moment under detention at The Boot, was for advancing stealthily, and firing the house; but his companions, who objected to such rash measures unless they had a crowd at their backs, represented that if Barnaby were taken he had assuredly been removed to a stronger prison; they would never have dreamed of keeping him all night in a place so weak and open to attack. Yielding to this reasoning, and to their persuasions, Hugh consented to turn back and to repair to Fleet Market; for which place, it seemed, a few of their boldest associates had shaped their course, on receiving the same intelligence.

Feeling their strength recruited and their spirits roused, now that there was a new necessity for action, they hurried away, quite forgetful of the fatigue under which they had been sinking but a few minutes before; and soon arrived at their new place of destination.

Fleet Market, at that time, was a long irregular row of wooden sheds and penthouses, occupying the centre of what is now called Farringdon Street. They were jumbled together in a most unsightly fashion, in the middle of the road; to the great obstruction of the thoroughfare and the annoyance of passengers, who were fain to make their way, as they best could, among carts, baskets, barrows, trucks, casks, bulks, and benches, and to jostle with porters, hucksters, waggoners, and a motley crowd of buyers, sellers, pick-pockets, vagrants, and idlers. The air was perfumed with the stench of rotten leaves and faded fruit; the refuse of the butchers’ stalls, and offal and garbage of a hundred kinds. It was indispensable to most public conveniences in those days, that they should be public nuisances likewise; and Fleet Market maintained the principle to admiration.

To this place, perhaps because its sheds and baskets were a tolerable substitute for beds, or perhaps because it afforded the means of a hasty barricade in case of need, many of the rioters had straggled, not only that night, but for two or three nights before. It was now broad day, but the morning being cold, a group of them were gathered round a fire in a public-house, drinking hot purl, and smoking pipes, and planning new schemes for to-morrow.

Hugh and his two friends being known to most of these men, were received with signal marks of approbation, and inducted into the most honourable seats. The room-door was closed and fastened to keep intruders at a distance, and then they proceeded to exchange news.

‘The soldiers have taken possession of The Boot, I hear,’ said Hugh. ‘Who knows anything about it?’

Several cried that they did; but the majority of the company having been engaged in the assault upon the Warren, and all present having been concerned in one or other of the night’s expeditions, it proved that they knew no more than Hugh himself; having been merely warned by each other, or by the scout, and knowing nothing of their own knowledge.

‘We left a man on guard there to-day,’ said Hugh, looking round him, ‘who is not here. You know who it is—Barnaby, who brought the soldier down, at Westminster. Has any man seen or heard of him?’

They shook their heads, and murmured an answer in the negative, as each man looked round and appealed to his fellow; when a noise was heard without, and a man was heard to say that he wanted Hugh—that he must see Hugh.

‘He is but one man,’ cried Hugh to those who kept the door; ‘let him come in.’

‘Ay, ay!’ muttered the others. ‘Let him come in. Let him come in.’

The door was accordingly unlocked and opened. A one-armed man, with his head and face tied up with a bloody cloth, as though he had been severely beaten, his clothes torn, and his remaining hand grasping a thick stick, rushed in among them, and panting for breath, demanded which was Hugh.

‘Here he is,’ replied the person he inquired for. ‘I am Hugh. What do you want with me?’

‘I have a message for you,’ said the man. ‘You know one Barnaby.’

‘What of him? Did he send the message?’

‘Yes. He’s taken. He’s in one of the strong cells in Newgate. He defended himself as well as he could, but was overpowered by numbers. That’s his message.’

‘When did you see him?’ asked Hugh, hastily.

‘On his way to prison, where he was taken by a party of soldiers. They took a by-road, and not the one we expected. I was one of the few who tried to rescue him, and he called to me, and told me to tell Hugh where he was. We made a good struggle, though it failed. Look here!’

He pointed to his dress and to his bandaged head, and still panting for breath, glanced round the room; then faced towards Hugh again.

‘I know you by sight,’ he said, ‘for I was in the crowd on Friday, and on Saturday, and yesterday, but I didn’t know your name. You’re a bold fellow, I know. So is he. He fought like a lion tonight, but it was of no use. I did my best, considering that I want this limb.’

Again he glanced inquisitively round the room or seemed to do so, for his face was nearly hidden by the bandage—and again facing sharply towards Hugh, grasped his stick as if he half expected to be set upon, and stood on the defensive.

If he had any such apprehension, however, he was speedily reassured by the demeanour of all present. None thought of the bearer of the tidings. He was lost in the news he brought. Oaths, threats, and execrations, were vented on all sides. Some cried that if they bore this tamely, another day would see them all in jail; some, that they should have rescued the other prisoners, and this would not have happened. One man cried in a loud voice, ‘Who’ll follow me to Newgate!’ and there was a loud shout and general rush towards the door.

But Hugh and Dennis stood with their backs against it, and kept them back, until the clamour had so far subsided that their voices could be heard, when they called to them together that to go now, in broad day, would be madness; and that if they waited until night and arranged a plan of attack, they might release, not only their own companions, but all the prisoners, and burn down the jail.

‘Not that jail alone,’ cried Hugh, ‘but every jail in London. They shall have no place to put their prisoners in. We’ll burn them all down; make bonfires of them every one! Here!’ he cried, catching at the hangman’s hand. ‘Let all who’re men here, join with us. Shake hands upon it. Barnaby out of jail, and not a jail left standing! Who joins?’

Every man there. And they swore a great oath to release their friends from Newgate next night; to force the doors and burn the jail; or perish in the fire themselves.