Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Yoga Roma Parioli Spedizioni Raccomandate Roma

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it






BARNABY RUDGE - A TALE OF THE RIOTS OF 'EIGHTY

by

Charles Dickens

PREFACE

The late Mr Waterton havingsome time agoexpressed his opinion
that ravens are gradually becoming extinct in EnglandI offered
the few following words about my experience of these birds.

The raven in this story is a compound of two great originalsof
whom I wasat different timesthe proud possessor. The first was
in the bloom of his youthwhen he was discovered in a modest
retirement in Londonby a friend of mineand given to me. He had
from the firstas Sir Hugh Evans says of Anne Page'good gifts'
which he improved by study and attention in a most exemplary
manner. He slept in a stable--generally on horseback--and so
terrified a Newfoundland dog by his preternatural sagacitythat he
has been knownby the mere superiority of his geniusto walk off
unmolested with the dog's dinnerfrom before his face. He was
rapidly rising in acquirements and virtueswhenin an evil hour
his stable was newly painted. He observed the workmen closely
saw that they were careful of the paintand immediately burned to
possess it. On their going to dinnerhe ate up all they had left
behindconsisting of a pound or two of white lead; and this
youthful indiscretion terminated in death.

While I was yet inconsolable for his lossanother friend of mine
in Yorkshire discovered an older and more gifted raven at a village
public-housewhich he prevailed upon the landlord to part with for
a considerationand sent up to me. The first act of this Sage
wasto administer to the effects of his predecessorby
disinterring all the cheese and halfpence he had buried in the
garden--a work of immense labour and researchto which he devoted
all the energies of his mind. When he had achieved this taskhe
applied himself to the acquisition of stable languagein which he
soon became such an adeptthat he would perch outside my window
and drive imaginary horses with great skillall day. Perhaps
even I never saw him at his bestfor his former master sent his
duty with him'and if I wished the bird to come out very strong
would I be so good as to show him a drunken man'--which I never
didhaving (unfortunately) none but sober people at hand.

But I could hardly have respected him morewhatever the
stimulating influences of this sight might have been. He had not
the least respectI am sorry to sayfor me in returnor for
anybody but the cook; to whom he was attached--but onlyI fearas
a Policeman might have been. OnceI met him unexpectedlyabout
half-a-mile from my housewalking down the middle of a public
streetattended by a pretty large crowdand spontaneously
exhibiting the whole of his accomplishments. His gravity under
those trying circumstancesI can never forgetnor the
extraordinary gallantry with whichrefusing to be brought homehe
defended himself behind a pumpuntil overpowered by numbers. It
may have been that he was too bright a genius to live longor it
may have been that he took some pernicious substance into his bill


and thence into his maw--which is not improbableseeing that he
new-pointed the greater part of the garden-wall by digging out the
mortarbroke countless squares of glass by scraping away the putty
all round the framesand tore up and swallowedin splintersthe
greater part of a wooden staircase of six steps and a landing--but
after some three years he too was taken illand died before the
kitchen fire. He kept his eye to the last upon the meat as it
roastedand suddenly. turned over on his back with a sepulchral
cry of 'Cuckoo!' Since then I have been ravenless.

No account of the Gordon Riots having been to my knowledge
introduced into any Work of Fictionand the subject presenting
very extraordinary and remarkable featuresI was led to project
this Tale.

It is unnecessary to saythat those shameful tumultswhile they
reflect indelible disgrace upon the time in which they occurred
and all who had act or part in themteach a good lesson. That
what we falsely call a religious cry is easily raised by men who
have no religionand who in their daily practice set at nought the
commonest principles of right and wrong; that it is begotten of
intolerance and persecution; that it is senselessbesotted
inveterate and unmerciful; all History teaches us. But perhaps we
do not know it in our hearts too wellto profit by even so humble
an example as the 'No Popery' riots of Seventeen Hundred and Eighty.

However imperfectly those disturbances are set forth in the
following pagesthey are impartially painted by one who has no
sympathy with the Romish Churchthough he acknowledgesas most
men dosome esteemed friends among the followers of its creed.

In the description of the principal outragesreference has been
had to the best authorities of that timesuch as they are; the
account given in this Taleof all the main features of the Riots
is substantially correct.

Mr Dennis's allusions to the flourishing condition of his trade in
those dayshave their foundation in Truthand not in the
Author's fancy. Any file of old Newspapersor odd volume of the
Annual Registerwill prove this with terrible ease.

Even the case of Mary Jonesdwelt upon with so much pleasure by
the same characteris no effort of invention. The facts were
statedexactly as they are stated herein the House of Commons.
Whether they afforded as much entertainment to the merry gentlemen
assembled thereas some other most affecting circumstances of a
similar nature mentioned by Sir Samuel Romillyis not recorded.

That the case of Mary Jones may speak the more emphatically for
itselfI subjoin itas related by SIR WILLIAM MEREDITH in a
speech in Parliament'on Frequent Executions'made in 1777.

'Under this act' the Shop-lifting Act'one Mary Jones was
executedwhose case I shall just mention; it was at the time when
press warrants were issuedon the alarm about Falkland Islands.
The woman's husband was pressedtheir goods seized for some debts
of hisand shewith two small childrenturned into the streets
a-begging. It is a circumstance not to be forgottenthat she was
very young (under nineteen)and most remarkably handsome. She
went to a linen-draper's shoptook some coarse linen off the
counterand slipped it under her cloak; the shopman saw herand
she laid it down: for this she was hanged. Her defence was (I have
the trial in my pocket)that she had lived in credit, and wanted
for nothing, till a press-gang came and stole her husband from her;


but since then, she had no bed to lie on; nothing to give her
children to eat; and they were almost naked; and perhaps she might
have done something wrong, for she hardly knew what she did.The
parish officers testified the truth of this story; but it seems
there had been a good deal of shop-lifting about Ludgate; an
example was thought necessary; and this woman was hanged for the
comfort and satisfaction of shopkeepers in Ludgate Street. When
brought to receive sentenceshe behaved in such a frantic manner
as proved her mind to he in a distracted and desponding state; and
the child was sucking at her breast when she set out for Tyburn.'

Chapter 1

In the year 1775there stood upon the borders of Epping Forest
at a distance of about twelve miles from London--measuring from the
Standard in Cornhill' or rather from the spot on or near to which
the Standard used to be in days of yore--a house of public
entertainment called the Maypole; which fact was demonstrated to
all such travellers as could neither read nor write (and at that
time a vast number both of travellers and stay-at-homes were in
this condition) by the emblem reared on the roadside over against
the housewhichif not of those goodly proportions that Maypoles
were wont to present in olden timeswas a fair young ashthirty
feet in heightand straight as any arrow that ever English yeoman
drew.

The Maypole--by which term from henceforth is meant the houseand
not its sign--the Maypole was an old buildingwith more gable ends
than a lazy man would care to count on a sunny day; huge zig-zag
chimneysout of which it seemed as though even smoke could not
choose but come in more than naturally fantastic shapesimparted
to it in its tortuous progress; and vast stablesgloomyruinous
and empty. The place was said to have been built in the days of
King Henry the Eighth; and there was a legendnot only that Queen
Elizabeth had slept there one night while upon a hunting excursion
to witin a certain oak-panelled room with a deep bay windowbut
that next morningwhile standing on a mounting block before the
door with one foot in the stirrupthe virgin monarch had then and
there boxed and cuffed an unlucky page for some neglect of duty.
The matter-of-fact and doubtful folksof whom there were a few
among the Maypole customersas unluckily there always are in every
little communitywere inclined to look upon this tradition as
rather apocryphal; butwhenever the landlord of that ancient
hostelry appealed to the mounting block itself as evidenceand
triumphantly pointed out that there it stood in the same place to
that very daythe doubters never failed to be put down by a large
majorityand all true believers exulted as in a victory.

Whether theseand many other stories of the like naturewere true
or untruethe Maypole was really an old housea very old house
perhaps as old as it claimed to beand perhaps olderwhich will
sometimes happen with houses of an uncertainas with ladies of a
certainage. Its windows were old diamond-pane latticesits
floors were sunken and unevenits ceilings blackened by the hand
of timeand heavy with massive beams. Over the doorway was an
ancient porchquaintly and grotesquely carved; and here on summer
evenings the more favoured customers smoked and drank--ayand
sang many a good song toosometimes--reposing on two grim-looking
high-backed settleswhichlike the twin dragons of some fairy
taleguarded the entrance to the mansion.


In the chimneys of the disused roomsswallows had built their
nests for many a long yearand from earliest spring to latest
autumn whole colonies of sparrows chirped and twittered in the
eaves. There were more pigeons about the dreary stable-yard and
out-buildings than anybody but the landlord could reckon up. The
wheeling and circling flights of runtsfantailstumblersand
pouterswere perhaps not quite consistent with the grave and sober
character of the buildingbut the monotonous cooingwhich never
ceased to be raised by some among them all day longsuited it
exactlyand seemed to lull it to rest. With its overhanging
storiesdrowsy little panes of glassand front bulging out and
projecting over the pathwaythe old house looked as if it were
nodding in its sleep. Indeedit needed no very great stretch of
fancy to detect in it other resemblances to humanity. The bricks
of which it was built had originally been a deep dark redbut had
grown yellow and discoloured like an old man's skin; the sturdy
timbers had decayed like teeth; and here and there the ivylike a
warm garment to comfort it in its agewrapt its green leaves
closely round the time-worn walls.

It was a hale and hearty age thoughstill: and in the summer or
autumn eveningswhen the glow of the setting sun fell upon the oak
and chestnut trees of the adjacent forestthe old housepartaking
of its lustreseemed their fit companionand to have many good
years of life in him yet.

The evening with which we have to dowas neither a summer nor an
autumn onebut the twilight of a day in Marchwhen the wind
howled dismally among the bare branches of the treesand rumbling
in the wide chimneys and driving the rain against the windows of
the Maypole Inngave such of its frequenters as chanced to be
there at the moment an undeniable reason for prolonging their stay
and caused the landlord to prophesy that the night would certainly
clear at eleven o'clock precisely--which by a remarkable
coincidence was the hour at which he always closed his house.

The name of him upon whom the spirit of prophecy thus descended was
John Willeta burlylarge-headed man with a fat facewhich
betokened profound obstinacy and slowness of apprehension
combined with a very strong reliance upon his own merits. It was
John Willet's ordinary boast in his more placid moods that if he
were slow he was sure; which assertion couldin one sense at
leastbe by no means gainsaidseeing that he was in everything
unquestionably the reverse of fastand withal one of the most
dogged and positive fellows in existence--always sure that what he
thought or said or did was rightand holding it as a thing quite
settled and ordained by the laws of nature and Providencethat
anybody who said or did or thought otherwise must be inevitably and
of necessity wrong.

Mr Willet walked slowly up to the windowflattened his fat nose
against the cold glassand shading his eyes that his sight might
not be affected by the ruddy glow of the firelooked abroad. Then
he walked slowly back to his old seat in the chimney-cornerand
composing himself in it with a slight shiversuch as a man might
give way to and so acquire an additional relish for the warm blaze
saidlooking round upon his guests:

'It'll clear at eleven o'clock. No sooner and no later. Not
before and not arterwards.'

'How do you make out that?' said a little man in the opposite
corner. 'The moon is past the fulland she rises at nine.'


John looked sedately and solemnly at his questioner until he had
brought his mind to bear upon the whole of his observationand
then made answerin a tone which seemed to imply that the moon was
peculiarly his business and nobody else's:

'Never you mind about the moon. Don't you trouble yourself about
her. You let the moon aloneand I'll let you alone.'

'No offence I hope?' said the little man.

Again John waited leisurely until the observation had thoroughly
penetrated to his brainand then replying'No offence as YET'
applied a light to his pipe and smoked in placid silence; now and
then casting a sidelong look at a man wrapped in a loose ridingcoat
with huge cuffs ornamented with tarnished silver lace and
large metal buttonswho sat apart from the regular frequenters of
the houseand wearing a hat flapped over his facewhich was still
further shaded by the hand on which his forehead restedlooked
unsociable enough.

There was another guestwho satbooted and spurredat some
distance from the fire alsoand whose thoughts--to judge from his
folded arms and knitted browsand from the untasted liquor before
him--were occupied with other matters than the topics under
discussion or the persons who discussed them. This was a young man
of about eight-and-twentyrather above the middle heightand
though of somewhat slight figuregracefully and strongly made. He
wore his own dark hairand was accoutred in a riding dresswhich
together with his large boots (resembling in shape and fashion
those worn by our Life Guardsmen at the present day)showed
indisputable traces of the bad condition of the roads. But travelstained
though he washe was well and even richly attiredand
without being overdressed looked a gallant gentleman.

Lying upon the table beside himas he had carelessly thrown them
downwere a heavy riding-whip and a slouched hatthe latter worn
no doubt as being best suited to the inclemency of the weather.
Theretoowere a pair of pistols in a holster-caseand a short
riding-cloak. Little of his face was visibleexcept the long dark
lashes which concealed his downcast eyesbut an air of careless
ease and natural gracefulness of demeanour pervaded the figureand
seemed to comprehend even those slight accessorieswhich were all
handsomeand in good keeping.

Towards this young gentleman the eyes of Mr Willet wandered but
onceand then as if in mute inquiry whether he had observed his
silent neighbour. It was plain that John and the young gentleman
had often met before. Finding that his look was not returnedor
indeed observed by the person to whom it was addressedJohn
gradually concentrated the whole power of his eyes into one focus
and brought it to bear upon the man in the flapped hatat whom he
came to stare in course of time with an intensity so remarkable
that it affected his fireside cronieswho allas with one accord
took their pipes from their lipsand stared with open mouths at
the stranger likewise.

The sturdy landlord had a large pair of dull fish-like eyesand
the little man who had hazarded the remark about the moon (and who
was the parish-clerk and bell-ringer of Chigwella village hard
by) had little round black shiny eyes like beads; moreover this
little man wore at the knees of his rusty black breechesand on
his rusty black coatand all down his long flapped waistcoat
little queer buttons like nothing except his eyes; but so like
themthat as they twinkled and glistened in the light of the fire


which shone too in his bright shoe-buckleshe seemed all eyes from
head to footand to be gazing with every one of them at the
unknown customer. No wonder that a man should grow restless under
such an inspection as thisto say nothing of the eyes belonging to
short Tom Cobb the general chandler and post-office keeperand
long Phil Parkes the rangerboth of whominfected by the example
of their companionsregarded him of the flapped hat no less
attentively.

The stranger became restless; perhaps from being exposed to this
raking fire of eyesperhaps from the nature of his previous
meditations--most probably from the latter causefor as he changed
his position and looked hastily roundhe started to find himself
the object of such keen regardand darted an angry and suspicious
glance at the fireside group. It had the effect of immediately
diverting all eyes to the chimneyexcept those of John Willetwho
finding himself as it werecaught in the factand not being (as
has been already observed) of a very ready natureremained staring
at his guest in a particularly awkward and disconcerted manner.

'Well?' said the stranger.

Well. There was not much in well. It was not a long speech. 'I
thought you gave an order' said the landlordafter a pause of two
or three minutes for consideration.

The stranger took off his hatand disclosed the hard features of a
man of sixty or thereaboutsmuch weatherbeaten and worn by time
and the naturally harsh expression of which was not improved by a
dark handkerchief which was bound tightly round his headand
while it served the purpose of a wigshaded his foreheadand
almost hid his eyebrows. If it were intended to conceal or divert
attention from a deep gashnow healed into an ugly seamwhich
when it was first inflicted must have laid bare his cheekbonethe
object was but indifferently attainedfor it could scarcely fail
to be noted at a glance. His complexion was of a cadaverous hue
and he had a grizzly jagged beard of some three weeks' date. Such
was the figure (very meanly and poorly clad) that now rose from the
seatand stalking across the room sat down in a corner of the
chimneywhich the politeness or fears of the little clerk very
readily assigned to him.

'A highwayman!' whispered Tom Cobb to Parkes the ranger.

'Do you suppose highwaymen don't dress handsomer than that?'
replied Parkes. 'It's a better business than you think forTom
and highwaymen don't need or use to be shabbytake my word for it.'

Meanwhile the subject of their speculations had done due honour to
the house by calling for some drinkwhich was promptly supplied by
the landlord's son Joea broad-shouldered strapping young fellow
of twentywhom it pleased his father still to consider a little
boyand to treat accordingly. Stretching out his hands to warm
them by the blazing firethe man turned his head towards the
companyand after running his eye sharply over themsaid in a
voice well suited to his appearance:

'What house is that which stands a mile or so from here?'

'Public-house?' said the landlordwith his usual deliberation.

'Public-housefather!' exclaimed Joe'where's the public-house
within a mile or so of the Maypole? He means the great house--the
Warren--naturally and of course. The old red brick housesir


that stands in its own grounds--?'

'Aye' said the stranger.

'And that fifteen or twenty years ago stood in a park five times as
broadwhich with other and richer property has bit by bit changed
hands and dwindled away--more's the pity!' pursued the young man.

'Maybe' was the reply. 'But my question related to the owner.
What it has been I don't care to knowand what it is I can see for
myself.'

The heir-apparent to the Maypole pressed his finger on his lips
and glancing at the young gentleman already noticedwho had
changed his attitude when the house was first mentionedreplied in
a lower tone:

'The owner's name is HaredaleMr Geoffrey Haredaleand'--again he
glanced in the same direction as before--'and a worthy gentleman
too--hem!'

Paying as little regard to this admonitory coughas to the
significant gesture that had preceded itthe stranger pursued his
questioning.

'I turned out of my way coming hereand took the footpath that
crosses the grounds. Who was the young lady that I saw entering a
carriage? His daughter?'

'Whyhow should I knowhonest man?' replied Joecontriving in
the course of some arrangements about the hearthto advance close
to his questioner and pluck him by the sleeve'I didn't see the
young ladyyou know. Whew! There's the wind again--AND rain-well
it IS a night!'

Rough weather indeed!' observed the strange man.

'You're used to it?' said Joecatching at anything which seemed to
promise a diversion of the subject.

'Pretty well' returned the other. 'About the young lady--has Mr
Haredale a daughter?'

'Nono' said the young fellow fretfully'he's a single
gentleman--he's--be quietcan't youman? Don't you see this
talk is not relished yonder?'

Regardless of this whispered remonstranceand affecting not to
hear ithis tormentor provokingly continued:

'Single men have had daughters before now. Perhaps she may be his
daughterthough he is not married.'

'What do you mean?' said Joeadding in an undertone as he
approached him again'You'll come in for it presentlyI know you
will!'

'I mean no harm'--returned the traveller boldly'and have said
none that I know of. I ask a few questions--as any stranger may
and not unnaturally--about the inmates of a remarkable house in a
neighbourhood which is new to meand you are as aghast and
disturbed as if I were talking treason against King George.
Perhaps you can tell me whysirfor (as I say) I am a stranger
and this is Greek to me?'


The latter observation was addressed to the obvious cause of Joe
Willet's discomposurewho had risen and was adjusting his ridingcloak
preparatory to sallying abroad. Briefly replying that he
could give him no informationthe young man beckoned to Joeand
handing him a piece of money in payment of his reckoninghurried
out attended by young Willet himselfwho taking up a candle
followed to light him to the house-door.

While Joe was absent on this errandthe elder Willet and his three
companions continued to smoke with profound gravityand in a deep
silenceeach having his eyes fixed on a huge copper boiler that
was suspended over the fire. After some time John Willet slowly
shook his headand thereupon his friends slowly shook theirs; but
no man withdrew his eyes from the boileror altered the solemn
expression of his countenance in the slightest degree.

At length Joe returned--very talkative and conciliatoryas though
with a strong presentiment that he was going to be found fault
with.

'Such a thing as love is!' he saiddrawing a chair near the fire
and looking round for sympathy. 'He has set off to walk to
London--all the way to London. His nag gone lame in riding out
here this blessed afternoonand comfortably littered down in our
stable at this minute; and he giving up a good hot supper and our
best bedbecause Miss Haredale has gone to a masquerade up in
townand he has set his heart upon seeing her! I don't think I
could persuade myself to do thatbeautiful as she is--but then
I'm not in love (at least I don't think I am) and that's the whole
difference.'

'He is in love then?' said the stranger.

'Rather' replied Joe. 'He'll never be more in loveand may very
easily be less.'

'Silencesir!' cried his father.

'What a chap you areJoe!' said Long Parkes.

'Such a inconsiderate lad!' murmured Tom Cobb.

'Putting himself forward and wringing the very nose off his own
father's face!' exclaimed the parish-clerkmetaphorically.

'What HAVE I done?' reasoned poor Joe.

'Silencesir!' returned his father'what do you mean by talking
when you see people that are more than two or three times your age
sitting still and silent and not dreaming of saying a word?'

'Why that's the proper time for me to talkisn't it?' said Joe
rebelliously.

'The proper timesir!' retorted his father'the proper time's no
time.'

'Ah to be sure!' muttered Parkesnodding gravely to the other two
who nodded likewiseobserving under their breaths that that was
the point.

'The proper time's no timesir' repeated John Willet; 'when I was
your age I never talkedI never wanted to talk. I listened and


improved myself that's what I did.'

'And you'd find your father rather a tough customer in argeyment
Joeif anybody was to try and tackle him' said Parkes.

'For the matter o' thatPhil!' observed Mr Willetblowing a long
thinspiral cloud of smoke out of the corner of his mouthand
staring at it abstractedly as it floated away; 'For the matter o'
thatPhilargeyment is a gift of Natur. If Natur has gifted a
man with powers of argeymenta man has a right to make the best of
'emand has not a right to stand on false delicacyand deny that
he is so gifted; for that is a turning of his back on Natura
flouting of hera slighting of her precious casketsand a proving
of one's self to be a swine that isn't worth her scattering pearls
before.'

The landlord pausing here for a very long timeMr Parkes naturally
concluded that he had brought his discourse to an end; and
thereforeturning to the young man with some austerity
exclaimed:

'You hear what your father saysJoe? You wouldn't much like to
tackle him in argeymentI'm thinkingsir.'

'IF' said John Willetturning his eyes from the ceiling to the
face of his interrupterand uttering the monosyllable in capitals
to apprise him that he had put in his oaras the vulgar saywith
unbecoming and irreverent haste; 'IFsirNatur has fixed upon me
the gift of argeymentwhy should I not own to itand rather glory
in the same? YessirI AM a tough customer that way. You are
rightsir. My toughness has been provedsirin this room many
and many a timeas I think you know; and if you don't know' added
Johnputting his pipe in his mouth again'so much the betterfor
I an't proud and am not going to tell you.'

A general murmur from his three croniesand a general shaking of
heads at the copper boilerassured John Willet that they had had
good experience of his powers and needed no further evidence to
assure them of his superiority. John smoked with a little more
dignity and surveyed them in silence.

'It's all very fine talking' muttered Joewho had been fidgeting
in his chair with divers uneasy gestures. 'But if you mean to tell
me that I'm never to open my lips--'

'Silencesir!' roared his father. 'Noyou never are. When your
opinion's wantedyou give it. When you're spoke toyou speak.
When your opinion's not wanted and you're not spoke todon't you
give an opinion and don't you speak. The world's undergone a nice
alteration since my timecertainly. My belief is that there an't
any boys left--that there isn't such a thing as a boy--that there's
nothing now between a male baby and a man--and that all the boys
went out with his blessed Majesty King George the Second.'

'That's a very true observationalways excepting the young
princes' said the parish-clerkwhoas the representative of
church and state in that companyheld himself bound to the nicest
loyalty. 'If it's godly and righteous for boysbeing of the ages
of boysto behave themselves like boysthen the young princes
must be boys and cannot be otherwise.'

'Did you ever hear tell of mermaidssir?' said Mr Willet.

'Certainly I have' replied the clerk.


'Very good' said Mr Willet. 'According to the constitution of
mermaidsso much of a mermaid as is not a woman must be a fish.
According to the constitution of young princesso much of a young
prince (if anything) as is not actually an angelmust be godly and
righteous. Therefore if it's becoming and godly and righteous in
the young princes (as it is at their ages) that they should be
boysthey are and must be boysand cannot by possibility be
anything else.'

This elucidation of a knotty point being received with such marks
of approval as to put John Willet into a good humourhe contented
himself with repeating to his son his command of silenceand
addressing the strangersaid:

'If you had asked your questions of a grown-up person--of me or any
of these gentlemen--you'd have had some satisfactionand wouldn't
have wasted breath. Miss Haredale is Mr Geoffrey Haredale's
niece.'

'Is her father alive?' said the mancarelessly.

'No' rejoined the landlord'he is not aliveand he is not dead--'

'Not dead!' cried the other.

'Not dead in a common sort of way' said the landlord.

The cronies nodded to each otherand Mr Parkes remarked in an
undertoneshaking his head meanwhile as who should say'let no
man contradict mefor I won't believe him' that John Willet was
in amazing force to-nightand fit to tackle a Chief Justice.

The stranger suffered a short pause to elapseand then asked
abruptly'What do you mean?'

'More than you think forfriend' returned John Willet. 'Perhaps
there's more meaning in them words than you suspect.'

'Perhaps there is' said the strange mangruffly; 'but what the
devil do you speak in such mysteries for? You tell mefirstthat
a man is not alivenor yet dead--thenthat he's not dead in a
common sort of way--thenthat you mean a great deal more than I
think for. To tell you the truthyou may do that easily; for so
far as I can make outyou mean nothing. What DO you meanI ask
again?'

'That' returned the landlorda little brought down from his
dignity by the stranger's surliness'is a Maypole storyand has
been any time these four-and-twenty years. That story is Solomon
Daisy's story. It belongs to the house; and nobody but Solomon
Daisy has ever told it under this roofor ever shall--that's
more.'

The man glanced at the parish-clerkwhose air of consciousness
and importance plainly betokened him to be the person referred to
andobserving that he had taken his pipe from his lipsafter a
very long whiff to keep it alightand was evidently about to tell
his story without further solicitationgathered his large coat
about himand shrinking further back was almost lost in the gloom
of the spacious chimney-cornerexcept when the flamestruggling
from under a great faggotwhose weight almost crushed it for the
timeshot upward with a strong and sudden glareand illumining
his figure for a momentseemed afterwards to cast it into deeper


obscurity than before.

By this flickering lightwhich made the old roomwith its heavy
timbers and panelled wallslook as if it were built of polished
ebony--the wind roaring and howling withoutnow rattling the latch
and creaking the hinges of the stout oaken doorand now driving at
the casement as though it would beat it in--by this lightand
under circumstances so auspiciousSolomon Daisy began his tale:

'It was Mr Reuben HaredaleMr Geoffrey's elder brother--'

Here he came to a dead stopand made so long a pause that even
John Willet grew impatient and asked why he did not proceed.

'Cobb' said Solomon Daisydropping his voice and appealing to the
post-office keeper; 'what day of the month is this?'

'The nineteenth.'

'Of March' said the clerkbending forward'the nineteenth of
March; that's very strange.'

In a low voice they all acquiescedand Solomon went on:

'It was Mr Reuben HaredaleMr Geoffrey's elder brotherthat
twenty-two years ago was the owner of the Warrenwhichas Joe
has said--not that you remember itJoefor a boy like you can't
do thatbut because you have often heard me say so--was then a
much larger and better placeand a much more valuable property
than it is now. His lady was lately deadand he was left with one
child--the Miss Haredale you have been inquiring about--who was
then scarcely a year old.'

Although the speaker addressed himself to the man who had shown so
much curiosity about this same familyand made a pause here as if
expecting some exclamation of surprise or encouragementthe latter
made no remarknor gave any indication that he heard or was
interested in what was said. Solomon therefore turned to his old
companionswhose noses were brightly illuminated by the deep red
glow from the bowls of their pipes; assuredby long experienceof
their attentionand resolved to show his sense of such indecent
behaviour.

'Mr Haredale' said Solomonturning his back upon the strange man
'left this place when his lady diedfeeling it lonely likeand
went up to Londonwhere he stopped some months; but finding that
place as lonely as this--as I suppose and have always heard say--he
suddenly came back again with his little girl to the Warren
bringing with him besidesthat dayonly two women servantsand
his stewardand a gardener.'

Mr Daisy stopped to take a whiff at his pipewhich was going out
and then proceeded--at first in a snuffling toneoccasioned by
keen enjoyment of the tobacco and strong pulling at the pipeand
afterwards with increasing distinctness:

'--Bringing with him two women servantsand his stewardand a
gardener. The rest stopped behind up in Londonand were to follow
next day. It happened that that nightan old gentleman who lived
at Chigwell Rowand had long been poorlydeceasedand an order
came to me at half after twelve o'clock at night to go and toll the
passing-bell.'

There was a movement in the little group of listenerssufficiently


indicative of the strong repugnance any one of them would have felt
to have turned out at such a time upon such an errand. The clerk
felt and understood itand pursued his theme accordingly.

'It WAS a dreary thingespecially as the grave-digger was laid up
in his bedfrom long working in a damp soil and sitting down to
take his dinner on cold tombstonesand I was consequently under
obligation to go alonefor it was too late to hope to get any
other companion. HoweverI wasn't unprepared for it; as the old
gentleman had often made it a request that the bell should be
tolled as soon as possible after the breath was out of his body
and he had been expected to go for some days. I put as good a face
upon it as I couldand muffling myself up (for it was mortal
cold)started out with a lighted lantern in one hand and the key
of the church in the other.'

At this point of the narrativethe dress of the strange man
rustled as if he had turned himself to hear more distinctly.
Slightly pointing over his shoulderSolomon elevated his eyebrows
and nodded a silent inquiry to Joe whether this was the case. Joe
shaded his eyes with his hand and peered into the cornerbut could
make out nothingand so shook his head.

'It was just such a night as this; blowing a hurricaneraining
heavilyand very dark--I often think nowdarker than I ever saw
it before or since; that may be my fancybut the houses were all
close shut and the folks in doorsand perhaps there is only one
other man who knows how dark it really was. I got into the church
chained the door back so that it should keep ajar--forto tell the
truthI didn't like to be shut in there alone--and putting my
lantern on the stone seat in the little corner where the bell-rope
issat down beside it to trim the candle.

'I sat down to trim the candleand when I had done so I could not
persuade myself to get up againand go about my work. I don't
know how it wasbut I thought of all the ghost stories I had ever
heardeven those that I had heard when I was a boy at schooland
had forgotten long ago; and they didn't come into my mind one after
anotherbut all crowding at oncelike. I recollected one story
there was in the villagehow that on a certain night in the year
(it might be that very night for anything I knew)all the dead
people came out of the ground and sat at the heads of their own
graves till morning. This made me think how many people I had
knownwere buried between the church-door and the churchyard gate
and what a dreadful thing it would be to have to pass among them
and know them againso earthy and unlike themselves. I had known
all the niches and arches in the church from a child; stillI
couldn't persuade myself that those were their natural shadows
which I saw on the pavementbut felt sure there were some ugly
figures hiding among 'em and peeping out. Thinking on in this
wayI began to think of the old gentleman who was just deadand I
could have swornas I looked up the dark chancelthat I saw him
in his usual placewrapping his shroud about him and shivering as
if he felt it cold. All this time I sat listening and listening
and hardly dared to breathe. At length I started up and took the
bell-rope in my hands. At that minute there rang--not that bell
for I had hardly touched the rope--but another!

'I heard the ringing of another belland a deep bell tooplainly.
It was only for an instantand even then the wind carried the
sound awaybut I heard it. I listened for a long timebut it
rang no more. I had heard of corpse candlesand at last I
persuaded myself that this must be a corpse bell tolling of itself
at midnight for the dead. I tolled my bell--howor how longI


don't know--and ran home to bed as fast as I could touch the
ground.

'I was up early next morning after a restless nightand told the
story to my neighbours. Some were serious and some made light of
it; I don't think anybody believed it real. Butthat morningMr
Reuben Haredale was found murdered in his bedchamber; and in his
hand was a piece of the cord attached to an alarm-bell outside the
roofwhich hung in his room and had been cut asunderno doubt by
the murdererwhen he seized it.

'That was the bell I heard.

'A bureau was found openedand a cash-boxwhich Mr Haredale had
brought down that dayand was supposed to contain a large sum of
moneywas gone. The steward and gardener were both missing and
both suspected for a long timebut they were never foundthough
hunted far and wide. And far enough they might have looked for
poor Mr Rudge the stewardwhose body--scarcely to be recognised by
his clothes and the watch and ring he wore--was foundmonths
afterwardsat the bottom of a piece of water in the groundswith
a deep gash in the breast where he had been stabbed with a knife.
He was only partly dressed; and people all agreed that he had been
sitting up reading in his own roomwhere there were many traces of
bloodand was suddenly fallen upon and killed before his master.

Everybody now knew that the gardener must be the murdererand
though he has never been heard of from that day to thishe will
bemark my words. The crime was committed this day two-and-twenty
years--on the nineteenth of Marchone thousand seven hundred and
fifty-three. On the nineteenth of March in some year--no matter
when--I know itI am sure of itfor we have alwaysin some
strange way or otherbeen brought back to the subject on that day
ever since--on the nineteenth of March in some yearsooner or
laterthat man will be discovered.'

Chapter 2

'A strange story!' said the man who had been the cause of the
narration.--'Stranger still if it comes about as you predict. Is
that all?'

A question so unexpectednettled Solomon Daisy not a little. By
dint of relating the story very oftenand ornamenting it
(according to village report) with a few flourishes suggested by
the various hearers from time to timehe had come by degrees to
tell it with great effect; and 'Is that all?' after the climaxwas
not what he was accustomed to.

'Is that all?' he repeated'yesthat's allsir. And enough
tooI think.'

'I think so too. My horseyoung man! He is but a hack hired from
a roadside posting housebut he must carry me to London to-
night.'

'To-night!' said Joe.

'To-night' returned the other. 'What do you stare at? This
tavern would seem to be a house of call for all the gaping idlers
of the neighbourhood!'


At this remarkwhich evidently had reference to the scrutiny he
had undergoneas mentioned in the foregoing chapterthe eyes of
John Willet and his friends were diverted with marvellous rapidity
to the copper boiler again. Not so with Joewhobeing a
mettlesome fellowreturned the stranger's angry glance with a
steady lookand rejoined:

'It is not a very bold thing to wonder at your going on to-night.
Surely you have been asked such a harmless question in an inn
beforeand in better weather than this. I thought you mightn't
know the wayas you seem strange to this part.'

'The way--' repeated the otherirritably.

'Yes. DO you know it?'

'I'll--humph!--I'll find it' replied the nianwaving his hand and
turning on his heel. 'Landlordtake the reckoning here.'

John Willet did as he was desired; for on that point he was seldom
slowexcept in the particulars of giving changeand testing the
goodness of any piece of coin that was proffered to himby the
application of his teeth or his tongueor some other testor in
doubtful casesby a long series of tests terminating in its
rejection. The guest then wrapped his garments about him so as to
shelter himself as effectually as he could from the rough weather
and without any word or sign of farewell betook himself to the
stableyard. Here Joe (who had left the room on the conclusion of
their short dialogue) was protecting himself and the horse from the
rain under the shelter of an old penthouse roof.

'He's pretty much of my opinion' said Joepatting the horse upon
the neck. 'I'll wager that your stopping here to-night would
please him better than it would please me.'

'He and I are of different opinionsas we have been more than once
on our way here' was the short reply.

'So I was thinking before you came outfor he has felt your spurs
poor beast.'

The stranger adjusted his coat-collar about his faceand made no
answer.

'You'll know me againI see' he saidmarking the young fellow's
earnest gazewhen he had sprung into the saddle.

'The man's worth knowingmasterwho travels a road he don't know
mounted on a jaded horseand leaves good quarters to do it on such
a night as this.'

'You have sharp eyes and a sharp tongueI find.'

'Both I hope by naturebut the last grows rusty sometimes for
want of using.'

'Use the first less tooand keep their sharpness for your
sweetheartsboy' said the man.

So saying he shook his hand from the bridlestruck him roughly on
the head with the butt end of his whipand galloped away; dashing
through the mud and darkness with a headlong speedwhich few badly
mounted horsemen would have cared to ventureeven had they been


thoroughly acquainted with the country; and whichto one who knew
nothing of the way he rodewas attended at every step with great
hazard and danger.

The roadseven within twelve miles of Londonwere at that time
ill pavedseldom repairedand very badly made. The way this
rider traversed had been ploughed up by the wheels of heavy
waggonsand rendered rotten by the frosts and thaws of the
preceding winteror possibly of many winters. Great holes and
gaps had been worn into the soilwhichbeing now filled with
water from the late rainswere not easily distinguishable even by
day; and a plunge into any one of them might have brought down a
surer-footed horse than the poor beast now urged forward to the
utmost extent of his powers. Sharp flints and stones rolled from
under his hoofs continually; the rider could scarcely see beyond
the animal's heador farther on either side than his own arm
would have extended. At that timetooall the roads in the
neighbourhood of the metropolis were infested by footpads or
highwaymenand it was a nightof all othersin which any evildisposed
person of this class might have pursued his unlawful
calling with little fear of detection.

Stillthe traveller dashed forward at the same reckless pace
regardless alike of the dirt and wet which flew about his headthe
profound darkness of the nightand the probability of encountering
some desperate characters abroad. At every turn and angleeven
where a deviation from the direct course might have been least
expectedand could not possibly be seen until he was close upon
ithe guided the bridle with an unerring handand kept the middle
of the road. Thus he sped onwardraising himself in the stirrups
leaning his body forward until it almost touched the horse's neck
and flourishing his heavy whip above his head with the fervour of a
madman.

There are times whenthe elements being in unusual commotion
those who are bent on daring enterprisesor agitated by great
thoughtswhether of good or evilfeel a mysterious sympathy with
the tumult of natureand are roused into corresponding violence.
In the midst of thunderlightningand stormmany tremendous
deeds have been committed; menself-possessed beforehave given
a sudden loose to passions they could no longer control. The
demons of wrath and despair have striven to emulate those who ride
the whirlwind and direct the storm; and manlashed into madness
with the roaring winds and boiling watershas become for the time
as wild and merciless as the elements themselves.

Whether the traveller was possessed by thoughts which the fury of
the night had heated and stimulated into a quicker currentor was
merely impelled by some strong motive to reach his journey's end
on he swept more like a hunted phantom than a mannor checked his
pace untilarriving at some cross roadsone of which led by a
longer route to the place whence he had lately startedhe bore
down so suddenly upon a vehicle which was coming towards himthat
in the effort to avoid it he well-nigh pulled his horse upon his
haunchesand narrowly escaped being thrown.

'Yoho!' cried the voice of a man. 'What's that? Who goes there?'

'A friend!' replied the traveller.

'A friend!' repeated the voice. 'Who calls himself a friend and
rides like thatabusing Heaven's gifts in the shape of horseflesh
and endangeringnot only his own neck (which might be no great
matter) but the necks of other people?'


'You have a lantern thereI see' said the traveller dismounting
'lend it me for a moment. You have wounded my horseI thinkwith
your shaft or wheel.'

'Wounded him!' cried the other'if I haven't killed himit's no
fault of yours. What do you mean by galloping along the king's
highway like thateh?'

'Give me the light' returned the travellersnatching it from his
hand'and don't ask idle questions of a man who is in no mood for
talking.'

'If you had said you were in no mood for talking beforeI should
perhaps have been in no mood for lighting' said the voice.
'Hows'ever as it's the poor horse that's damaged and not youone
of you is welcome to the light at all events--but it's not the
crusty one.'

The traveller returned no answer to this speechbut holding the
light near to his panting and reeking beastexamined him in limb
and carcass. Meanwhilethe other man sat very composedly in his
vehiclewhich was a kind of chaise with a depository for a large
bag of toolsand watched his proceedings with a careful eye.

The looker-on was a roundred-facedsturdy yeomanwith a double
chinand a voice husky with good livinggood sleepinggood
humourand good health. He was past the prime of lifebut Father
Time is not always a hard parentandthough he tarries for none
of his childrenoften lays his hand lightly upon those who have
used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enoughbut
leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour. With
such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow's
hand in giving them his blessingand every wrinkle but a notch in
the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.

The person whom the traveller had so abruptly encountered was of
this kind: bluffhaleheartyand in a green old age: at peace
with himselfand evidently disposed to be so with all the world.
Although muffled up in divers coats and handkerchiefs--one of
whichpassed over his crownand tied in a convenient crease of
his double chinsecured his three-cornered hat and bob-wig from
blowing off his head--there was no disguising his plump and
comfortable figure; neither did certain dirty finger-marks upon
his face give it any other than an odd and comical expression
through which its natural good humour shone with undiminished
lustre.

'He is not hurt' said the traveller at lengthraising his head
and the lantern together.

'You have found that out at lasthave you?' rejoined the old man.
'My eyes have seen more light than yoursbut I wouldn't change
with you.'

'What do you mean?'

'Mean! I could have told you he wasn't hurtfive minutes ago.
Give me the lightfriend; ride forward at a gentler pace; and good
night.'

In handing up the lanternthe man necessarily cast its rays full
on the speaker's face. Their eyes met at the instant. He suddenly
dropped it and crushed it with his foot.


'Did you never see a locksmith beforethat you start as if you had
come upon a ghost?' cried the old man in the chaise'or is this'
he added hastilythrusting his hand into the tool basket and
drawing out a hammer'a scheme for robbing me? I know these
roadsfriend. When I travel themI carry nothing but a few
shillingsand not a crown's worth of them. I tell you plainlyto
save us both troublethat there's nothing to be got from me but a
pretty stout arm considering my yearsand this toolwhichmayhap
from long acquaintance withI can use pretty briskly. You shall
not have it all your own wayI promise youif you play at that
game. With these words he stood upon the defensive.

'I am not what you take me forGabriel Varden' replied the other.

'Then what and who are you?' returned the locksmith. 'You know my
nameit seems. Let me know yours.'

'I have not gained the information from any confidence of yours
but from the inscription on your cart which tells it to all the
town' replied the traveller.

'You have better eyes for that than you had for your horsethen'
said Vardendescending nimbly from his chaise; 'who are you? Let
me see your face.'

While the locksmith alightedthe traveller had regained his
saddlefrom which he now confronted the old manwhomoving as
the horse moved in chafing under the tightened reinkept close
beside him.

'Let me see your faceI say.'

'Stand off!'

'No masquerading tricks' said the locksmith'and tales at the
club to-morrowhow Gabriel Varden was frightened by a surly voice
and a dark night. Stand--let me see your face.'

Finding that further resistance would only involve him in a
personal struggle with an antagonist by no means to be despised
the traveller threw back his coatand stooping down looked
steadily at the locksmith.

Perhaps two men more powerfully contrastednever opposed each
other face to face. The ruddy features of the locksmith so set off
and heightened the excessive paleness of the man on horsebackthat
he looked like a bloodless ghostwhile the moisturewhich hard
riding had brought out upon his skinhung there in dark and heavy
dropslike dews of agony and death. The countenance of the old
locksmith lighted up with the smile of one expecting to detect in
this unpromising stranger some latent roguery of eye or lipwhich
should reveal a familiar person in that arch disguiseand spoil
his jest. The face of the othersullen and fiercebut shrinking
toowas that of a man who stood at bay; while his firmly closed
jawshis puckered mouthand more than all a certain stealthy
motion of the hand within his breastseemed to announce a
desperate purpose very foreign to actingor child's play.

Thus they regarded each other for some timein silence.

'Humph!' he said when he had scanned his features; 'I don't know
you.'


'Don't desire to?'--returned the othermuffling himself as before.

'I don't' said Gabriel; 'to be plain with youfriendyou don't
carry in your countenance a letter of recommendation.'

'It's not my wish' said the traveller. 'My humour is to be
avoided.'

'Well' said the locksmith bluntly'I think you'll have your
humour.'

'I willat any cost' rejoined the traveller. 'In proof of it
lay this to heart--that you were never in such peril of your life
as you have been within these few moments; when you are within
five minutes of breathing your lastyou will not be nearer death
than you have been to-night!'

'Aye!' said the sturdy locksmith.

'Aye! and a violent death.'

'From whose hand?'

'From mine' replied the traveller.

With that he put spurs to his horseand rode away; at first
plashing heavily through the mire at a smart trotbut gradually
increasing in speed until the last sound of his horse's hoofs died
away upon the wind; when he was again hurrying on at the same
furious gallopwhich had been his pace when the locksmith first
encountered him.

Gabriel Varden remained standing in the road with the broken
lantern in his handlistening in stupefied silence until no sound
reached his ear but the moaning of the windand the fast-falling
rain; when he struck himself one or two smart blows in the breast
by way of rousing himselfand broke into an exclamation of
surprise.

'What in the name of wonder can this fellow be! a madman? a
highwayman? a cut-throat? If he had not scoured off so fastwe'd
have seen who was in most dangerhe or I. I never nearer death
than I have been to-night! I hope I may be no nearer to it for a
score of years to come--if soI'll be content to be no farther
from it. My stars!--a pretty brag this to a stout man--pooh
pooh!'

Gabriel resumed his seatand looked wistfully up the road by which
the traveller had come; murmuring in a half whisper:

'The Maypole--two miles to the Maypole. I came the other road from
the Warren after a long day's work at locks and bellson purpose
that I should not come by the Maypole and break my promise to
Martha by looking in--there's resolution! It would be dangerous to
go on to London without a light; and it's four milesand a good
half mile besidesto the Halfway-House; and between this and that
is the very place where one needs a light most. Two miles to the
Maypole! I told Martha I wouldn't; I said I wouldn'tand I
didn't--there's resolution!'

Repeating these two last words very oftenas if to compensate for
the little resolution he was going to show by piquing himself on
the great resolution he had shownGabriel Varden quietly turned
backdetermining to get a light at the Maypoleand to take


nothing but a light.

When he got to the Maypolehoweverand Joeresponding to his
well-known hailcame running out to the horse's headleaving the
door open behind himand disclosing a delicious perspective of
warmth and brightness--when the ruddy gleam of the firestreaming
through the old red curtains of the common roomseemed to bring
with itas part of itselfa pleasant hum of voicesand a
fragrant odour of steaming grog and rare tobaccoall steeped as
it were in the cheerful glow--when the shadowsflitting across the
curtainshowed that those inside had risen from their snug seats
and were making room in the snuggest corner (how well he knew that
corner!) for the honest locksmithand a broad glaresuddenly
streaming upbespoke the goodness of the crackling log from which
a brilliant train of sparks was doubtless at that moment whirling
up the chimney in honour of his coming--whensuperadded to these
enticementsthere stole upon him from the distant kitchen a gentle
sound of fryingwith a musical clatter of plates and dishesand a
savoury smell that made even the boisterous wind a perfume--Gabriel
felt his firmness oozing rapidly away. He tried to look stoically
at the tavernbut his features would relax into a look of
fondness. He turned his head the other wayand the cold black
country seemed to frown him offand drive him for a refuge into
its hospitable arms.

'The merciful manJoe' said the locksmith'is merciful to his
beast. I'll get out for a little while.'

And how natural it was to get out! And how unnatural it seemed for
a sober man to be plodding wearily along through miry roads
encountering the rude buffets of the wind and pelting of the rain
when there was a clean floor covered with crisp white sanda well
swept heartha blazing firea table decorated with white cloth
bright pewter flagonsand other tempting preparations for a wellcooked
meal--when there were these thingsand company disposed to
make the most of themall ready to his handand entreating him to
enjoyment!

Chapter 3

Such were the locksmith's thoughts when first seated in the snug
cornerand slowly recovering from a pleasant defect of vision-pleasant
because occasioned by the wind blowing in his eyes--which
made it a matter of sound policy and duty to himselfthat he
should take refuge from the weatherand tempted himfor the same
reasonto aggravate a slight coughand declare he felt but
poorly. Such were still his thoughts more than a full hour
afterwardswhensupper overhe still sat with shining jovial
face in the same warm nooklistening to the cricket-like chirrup
of little Solomon Daisyand bearing no unimportant or slightly
respected part in the social gossip round the Maypole fire.

'I wish he may be an honest manthat's all' said Solomonwinding
up a variety of speculations relative to the strangerconcerning
whom Gabriel had compared notes with the companyand so raised a
grave discussion; 'I wish he may be an honest man.'

'So we all doI supposedon't we?' observed the locksmith.

'I don't' said Joe.


'No!' cried Gabriel.

'No. He struck me with his whipthe cowardwhen he was mounted
and I afootand I should be better pleased that he turned out what
I think him.'

'And what may that beJoe?'

'No goodMr Varden. You may shake your headfatherbut I say no
goodand will say no goodand I would say no good a hundred times
overif that would bring him back to have the drubbing he
deserves.'

'Hold your tonguesir' said John Willet.

'I won'tfather. It's all along of you that he ventured to do
what he did. Seeing me treated like a childand put down like a
foolHE plucks up a heart and has a fling at a fellow that he
thinks--and may well think too--hasn't a grain of spirit. But he's
mistakenas I'll show himand as I'll show all of you before
long.'

'Does the boy know what he's a saying of!' cried the astonished
John Willet.

'Father' returned Joe'I know what I say and meanwell--better
than you do when you hear me. I can bear with youbut I cannot
bear the contempt that your treating me in the way you dobrings
upon me from others every day. Look at other young men of my age.
Have they no libertyno willno right to speak? Are they obliged
to sit mumchanceand to be ordered about till they are the
laughing-stock of young and old? I am a bye-word all over
Chigwelland I say--and it's fairer my saying so nowthan waiting
till you are deadand I have got your money--I saythat before
long I shall be driven to break such boundsand that when I doit
won't be me that you'll have to blamebut your own selfand no
other.'

John Willet was so amazed by the exasperation and boldness of his
hopeful sonthat he sat as one bewilderedstaring in a ludicrous
manner at the boilerand endeavouringbut quite ineffectuallyto
collect his tardy thoughtsand invent an answer. The guests
scarcely less disturbedwere equally at a loss; and at length
with a variety of mutteredhalf-expressed condolencesand pieces
of advicerose to depart; being at the same time slightly muddled
with liquor.

The honest locksmith alone addressed a few words of coherent and
sensible advice to both partiesurging John Willet to remember
that Joe was nearly arrived at man's estateand should not be
ruled with too tight a handand exhorting Joe himself to bear with
his father's capricesand rather endeavour to turn them aside by
temperate remonstrance than by ill-timed rebellion. This advice
was received as such advice usually is. On John Willet it made
almost as much impression as on the sign outside the doorwhile
Joewho took it in the best partavowed himself more obliged than
he could well expressbut politely intimated his intention
nevertheless of taking his own course uninfluenced by anybody.

'You have always been a very good friend to meMr Varden' he
saidas they stood withoutin the porchand the locksmith was
equipping himself for his journey home; 'I take it very kind of
you to say all thisbut the time's nearly come when the Maypole
and I must part company.'


'Roving stones gather no mossJoe' said Gabriel.

'Nor milestones much' replied Joe. 'I'm little better than one
hereand see as much of the world.'

'Thenwhat would you doJoe?' pursued the locksmithstroking
his chin reflectively. 'What could you be? Where could you go
you see?'

'I must trust to chanceMr Varden.'

'A bad thing to trust toJoe. I don't like it. I always tell my
girl when we talk about a husband for hernever to trust to
chancebut to make sure beforehand that she has a good man and
trueand then chance will neither make her nor break her. What
are you fidgeting about thereJoe? Nothing gone in the harnessI
hope?'

'No no' said Joe--findinghoweversomething very engrossing to
do in the way of strapping and buckling--'Miss Dolly quite well?'

'Heartythankye. She looks pretty enough to be welland good
too.'

'She's always bothsir'-


'So she isthank God!'

'I hope' said Joe after some hesitation'that you won't tell this
story against me--this of my having been beat like the boy they'd
make of me--at all eventstill I have met this man again and
settled the account. It'll be a better story then.'

'Why who should I tell it to?' returned Gabriel. 'They know it
hereand I'm not likely to come across anybody else who would care
about it.'

'That's true enough' said the young fellow with a sigh. 'I quite
forgot that. Yesthat's true!'

So sayinghe raised his facewhich was very red--no doubt from
the exertion of strapping and buckling as aforesaid--and giving
the reins to the old manwho had by this time taken his seat
sighed again and bade him good night.

'Good night!' cried Gabriel. 'Now think better of what we have
just been speaking of; and don't be rashthere's a good fellow! I
have an interest in youand wouldn't have you cast yourself away.
Good night!'

Returning his cheery farewell with cordial goodwillJoe Willet
lingered until the sound of wheels ceased to vibrate in his ears
and thenshaking his head mournfullyre-entered the house.

Gabriel Varden went his way towards Londonthinking of a great
many thingsand most of all of flaming terms in which to relate
his adventureand so account satisfactorily to Mrs Varden for
visiting the Maypoledespite certain solemn covenants between
himself and that lady. Thinking begetsnot only thoughtbut
drowsiness occasionallyand the more the locksmith thoughtthe
more sleepy he became.

A man may be very sober--or at least firmly set upon his legs on


that neutral ground which lies between the confines of perfect
sobriety and slight tipsiness--and yet feel a strong tendency to
mingle up present circumstances with others which have no manner of
connection with them; to confound all consideration of persons
thingstimesand places; and to jumble his disjointed thoughts
together in a kind of mental kaleidoscopeproducing combinations
as unexpected as they are transitory. This was Gabriel Varden's
stateasnodding in his dog sleepand leaving his horse to
pursue a road with which he was well acquaintedhe got over the
ground unconsciouslyand drew nearer and nearer home. He had
roused himself oncewhen the horse stopped until the turnpike gate
was openedand had cried a lusty 'good night!' to the tollkeeper;
but then he awoke out of a dream about picking a lock in
the stomach of the Great Moguland even when he did wakemixed up
the turnpike man with his mother-in-law who had been dead twenty
years. It is not surprisingthereforethat he soon relapsedand
jogged heavily alongquite insensible to his progress.

Andnowhe approached the great citywhich lay outstretched
before him like a dark shadow on the groundreddening the sluggish
air with a deep dull lightthat told of labyrinths of public ways
and shopsand swarms of busy people. Approaching nearer and
nearer yetthis halo began to fadeand the causes which produced
it slowly to develop themselves. Long lines of poorly lighted
streets might be faintly tracedwith here and there a lighter
spotwhere lamps were clustered round a square or marketor round
some great building; after a time these grew more distinctand the
lamps themselves were visible; slight yellow specksthat seemed to
be rapidly snuffed outone by oneas intervening obstacles hid
them from the sight. Thensounds arose--the striking of church
clocksthe distant bark of dogsthe hum of traffic in the
streets; then outlines might be traced--tall steeples looming in
the airand piles of unequal roofs oppressed by chimneys; then
the noise swelled into a louder soundand forms grew more distinct
and numerous stilland London--visible in the darkness by its own
faint lightand not by that of Heaven--was at hand.

The locksmithhoweverall unconscious of its near vicinitystill
jogged onhalf sleeping and half wakingwhen a loud cry at no
great distance aheadroused him with a start.

For a moment or two he looked about him like a man who had been
transported to some strange country in his sleepbut soon
recognising familiar objectsrubbed his eyes lazily and might have
relapsed againbut that the cry was repeated--not once or twice or
thricebut many timesand each timeif possiblewith increased
vehemence. Thoroughly arousedGabrielwho was a bold man and not
easily dauntedmade straight to the spoturging on his stout
little horse as if for life or death.

The matter indeed looked sufficiently seriousforcoming to the
place whence the cries had proceededhe descried the figure of a
man extended in an apparently lifeless state upon the pathway
andhovering round himanother person with a torch in his hand
which he waved in the air with a wild impatienceredoubling
meanwhile those cries for help which had brought the locksmith to
the spot.

'What's here to do?' said the old manalighting. 'How's this-what--
Barnaby?'

The bearer of the torch shook his long loose hair back from his
eyesand thrusting his face eagerly into that of the locksmith
fixed upon him a look which told his history at once.


'You know meBarnaby?' said Varden.

He nodded--not once or twicebut a score of timesand that with a
fantastic exaggeration which would have kept his head in motion for
an hourbut that the locksmith held up his fingerand fixing his
eye sternly upon him caused him to desist; then pointed to the body
with an inquiring look.

'There's blood upon him' said Barnaby with a shudder. 'It makes
me sick!'

'How came it there?' demanded Varden.

'Steelsteelsteel!' he replied fiercelyimitating with his hand
the thrust of a sword.

'Is he robbed?' said the locksmith.

Barnaby caught him by the armand nodded 'Yes;' then pointed
towards the city.

'Oh!' said the old manbending over the body and looking round as
he spoke into Barnaby's pale facestrangely lighted up by
something that was NOT intellect. 'The robber made off that way
did he? Wellwellnever mind that just now. Hold your torch
this way--a little farther off--so. Now stand quietwhile I try
to see what harm is done.'

With these wordshe applied himself to a closer examination of the
prostrate formwhile Barnabyholding the torch as he had been
directedlooked on in silencefascinated by interest or
curiositybut repelled nevertheless by some strong and secret
horror which convulsed him in every nerve.

As he stoodat that momenthalf shrinking back and half bending
forwardboth his face and figure were full in the strong glare of
the linkand as distinctly revealed as though it had been broad
day. He was about three-and-twenty years oldand though rather
spareof a fair height and strong make. His hairof which he had
a great profusionwas redand hanging in disorder about his face
and shouldersgave to his restless looks an expression quite
unearthly--enhanced by the paleness of his complexionand the
glassy lustre of his large protruding eyes. Startling as his
aspect wasthe features were goodand there was something even
plaintive in his wan and haggard aspect. Butthe absence of the
soul is far more terrible in a living man than in a dead one; and
in this unfortunate being its noblest powers were wanting.

His dress was of greenclumsily trimmed here and there--apparently
by his own hands--with gaudy lace; brightest where the cloth was
most worn and soiledand poorest where it was at the best. A pair
of tawdry ruffles dangled at his wristswhile his throat was
nearly bare. He had ornamented his hat with a cluster of peacock's
feathersbut they were limp and brokenand now trailed
negligently down his back. Girt to his side was the steel hilt of
an old sword without blade or scabbard; and some particoloured ends
of ribands and poor glass toys completed the ornamental portion of
his attire. The fluttered and confused disposition of all the
motley scraps that formed his dressbespokein a scarcely less
degree than his eager and unsettled mannerthe disorder of his
mindand by a grotesque contrast set off and heightened the more
impressive wildness of his face.


'Barnaby' said the locksmithafter a hasty but careful
inspection'this man is not deadbut he has a wound in his side
and is in a fainting-fit.'

'I know himI know him!' cried Barnabyclapping his hands.

'Know him?' repeated the locksmith.

'Hush!' said Barnabylaying his fingers upon his lips. 'He went
out to-day a wooing. I wouldn't for a light guinea that he should
never go a wooing againforif he didsome eyes would grow dim
that are now as bright as--seewhen I talk of eyesthe stars come
out! Whose eyes are they? If they are angels' eyeswhy do they
look down here and see good men hurtand only wink and sparkle all
the night?'

'Now Heaven help this silly fellow' murmured the perplexed
locksmith; 'can he know this gentleman? His mother's house is not
far off; I had better see if she can tell me who he is. Barnaby
my manhelp me to put him in the chaiseand we'll ride home
together.'

'I can't touch him!' cried the idiot falling backand shuddering
as with a strong spasm; he's bloody!'

'It's in his natureI know' muttered the locksmith'it's cruel
to ask himbut I must have help. Barnaby--good Barnaby--dear
Barnaby--if you know this gentlemanfor the sake of his life and
everybody's life that loves himhelp me to raise him and lay him
down.'

'Cover him thenwrap him close--don't let me see it--smell it-hear
the word. Don't speak the word--don't!'

'NonoI'll not. Thereyou see he's covered now. Gently. Well
donewell done!'

They placed him in the carriage with great easefor Barnaby was
strong and activebut all the time they were so occupied he
shivered from head to footand evidently experienced an ecstasy of
terror.

This accomplishedand the wounded man being covered with Varden's
own greatcoat which he took off for the purposethey proceeded
onward at a brisk pace: Barnaby gaily counting the stars upon his
fingersand Gabriel inwardly congratulating himself upon having an
adventure nowwhich would silence Mrs Varden on the subject of the
Maypolefor that nightor there was no faith in woman.

Chapter 4

In the venerable suburb--it was a suburb once--of Clerkenwell
towards that part of its confines which is nearest to the Charter
Houseand in one of those coolshady Streetsof which a few
widely scattered and dispersedyet remain in such old parts of the
metropolis--each tenement quietly vegetating like an ancient
citizen who long ago retired from businessand dozing on in its
infirmity until in course of time it tumbles downand is replaced
by some extravagant young heirflaunting in stucco and ornamental
workand all the vanities of modern days--in this quarterand in
a street of this descriptionthe business of the present chapter


lies.

At the time of which it treatsthough only six-and-sixty years
agoa very large part of what is London now had no existence.
Even in the brains of the wildest speculatorsthere had sprung up
no long rows of streets connecting Highgate with Whitechapelno
assemblages of palaces in the swampy levelsnor little cities in
the open fields. Although this part of town was thenas now
parcelled out in streetsand plentifully peopledit wore a
different aspect. There were gardens to many of the housesand
trees by the pavement side; with an air of freshness breathing up
and downwhich in these days would be sought in vain. Fields were
nigh at handthrough which the New River took its winding course
and where there was merry haymaking in the summer time. Nature was
not so far removedor hard to get atas in these days; and
although there were busy trades in Clerkenwelland working
jewellers by scoresit was a purer placewith farm-houses nearer
to it than many modern Londoners would readily believeand lovers'
walks at no great distancewhich turned into squalid courtslong
before the lovers of this age were bornoras the phrase goes
thought of.

In one of these streetsthe cleanest of them alland on the shady
side of the way--for good housewives know that sunlight damages
their cherished furnitureand so choose the shade rather than its
intrusive glare--there stood the house with which we have to deal.
It was a modest buildingnot very straightnot largenot tall;
not bold-facedwith great staring windowsbut a shyblinking
housewith a conical roof going up into a peak over its garret
window of four small panes of glasslike a cocked hat on the head
of an elderly gentleman with one eye. It was not built of brick or
lofty stonebut of wood and plaster; it was not planned with a
dull and wearisome regard to regularityfor no one window matched
the otheror seemed to have the slightest reference to anything
besides itself.

The shop--for it had a shop--waswith reference to the first
floorwhere shops usually are; and there all resemblance between
it and any other shop stopped short and ceased. People who went in
and out didn't go up a flight of steps to itor walk easily in
upon a level with the streetbut dived down three steep stairs
as into a cellar. Its floor was paved with stone and brickas
that of any other cellar might be; and in lieu of window framed and
glazed it had a great black wooden flap or shutternearly breast
high from the groundwhich turned back in the day-timeadmitting
as much cold air as lightand very often more. Behind this shop
was a wainscoted parlourlooking first into a paved yardand
beyond that again into a little terrace gardenraised some feet
above it. Any stranger would have supposed that this wainscoted
parloursaving for the door of communication by which he had
enteredwas cut off and detached from all the world; and indeed
most strangers on their first entrance were observed to grow
extremely thoughtfulas weighing and pondering in their minds
whether the upper rooms were only approachable by ladders from
without; never suspecting that two of the most unassuming and
unlikely doors in existencewhich the most ingenious mechanician
on earth must of necessity have supposed to be the doors of
closetsopened out of this room--each without the smallest
preparationor so much as a quarter of an inch of passage--upon
two dark winding flights of stairsthe one upwardthe other
downwardwhich were the sole means of communication between that
chamber and the other portions of the house.

With all these odditiesthere was not a neatermore scrupulously


tidyor more punctiliously ordered housein Clerkenwellin
Londonin all England. There were not cleaner windowsor whiter
floorsor brighter Stovesor more highly shining articles of
furniture in old mahogany; there was not more rubbingscrubbing
burnishing and polishingin the whole street put together. Nor
was this excellence attained without some cost and trouble and
great expenditure of voiceas the neighbours were frequently
reminded when the good lady of the house overlooked and assisted in
its being put to rights on cleaning days--which were usually from
Monday morning till Saturday nightboth days inclusive.

Leaning against the door-post of thishis dwellingthe locksmith
stood early on the morning after he had met with the wounded man
gazing disconsolately at a great wooden emblem of a keypainted in
vivid yellow to resemble goldwhich dangled from the house-front
and swung to and fro with a mournful creaking noiseas if
complaining that it had nothing to unlock. Sometimeshe looked
over his shoulder into the shopwhich was so dark and dingy with
numerous tokens of his tradeand so blackened by the smoke of a
little forgenear which his 'prentice was at workthat it would
have been difficult for one unused to such espials to have
distinguished anything but various tools of uncouth make and shape
great bunches of rusty keysfragments of ironhalf-finished
locksand such like thingswhich garnished the walls and hung in
clusters from the ceiling.

After a long and patient contemplation of the golden keyand many
such backward glancesGabriel stepped into the roadand stole a
look at the upper windows. One of them chanced to be thrown open
at the momentand a roguish face met his; a face lighted up by the
loveliest pair of sparkling eyes that ever locksmith looked upon;
the face of a prettylaughinggirl; dimpled and freshand
healthful--the very impersonation of good-humour and blooming
beauty.

'Hush!' she whisperedbending forward and pointing archly to the
window underneath. 'Mother is still asleep.'

'Stillmy dear' returned the locksmith in the same tone. 'You
talk as if she had been asleep all nightinstead of little more
than half an hour. But I'm very thankful. Sleep's a blessing--no
doubt about it.' The last few words he muttered to himself.

'How cruel of you to keep us up so late this morningand never
tell us where you wereor send us word!' said the girl.

'Ah DollyDolly!' returned the locksmithshaking his headand
smiling'how cruel of you to run upstairs to bed! Come down to
breakfastmadcapand come down lightlyor you'll wake your
mother. She must be tiredI am sure--I am.'

Keeping these latter words to himselfand returning his
daughter's nodhe was passing into the workshopwith the smile
she had awakened still beaming on his facewhen he just caught
sight of his 'prentice's brown paper cap ducking down to avoid
observationand shrinking from the window back to its former
placewhich the wearer no sooner reached than he began to hammer
lustily.

'Listening againSimon!' said Gabriel to himself. 'That's bad.
What in the name of wonder does he expect the girl to saythat I
always catch him listening when SHE speaksand never at any other
time! A bad habitSima sneakingunderhanded way. Ah! you may
hammerbut you won't beat that out of meif you work at it till


your time's up!'

So sayingand shaking his head gravelyhe re-entered the
workshopand confronted the subject of these remarks.

'There's enough of that just now' said the locksmith. 'You
needn't make any more of that confounded clatter. Breakfast's
ready.'

'Sir' said Simlooking up with amazing politenessand a peculiar
little bow cut short off at the neck'I shall attend you
immediately.'

'I suppose' muttered Gabriel'that's out of the 'Prentice's
Garland or the 'Prentice's Delightor the 'Prentice's Warbleror
the Prentice's Guide to the Gallowsor some such improving
textbook. Now he's going to beautify himself--here's a precious
locksmith!'

Quite unconscious that his master was looking on from the dark
corner by the parlour doorSim threw off the paper capsprang
from his seatand in two extraordinary stepssomething between
skating and minuet dancingbounded to a washing place at the other
end of the shopand there removed from his face and hands all
traces of his previous work--practising the same step all the time
with the utmost gravity. This donehe drew from some concealed
place a little scrap of looking-glassand with its assistance
arranged his hairand ascertained the exact state of a little
carbuncle on his nose. Having now completed his toilethe placed
the fragment of mirror on a low benchand looked over his shoulder
at so much of his legs as could be reflected in that small compass
with the greatest possible complacency and satisfaction.

Simas he was called in the locksmith's familyor Mr Simon
Tappertitas he called himselfand required all men to style him
out of doorson holidaysand Sundays out--was an old-fashioned
thin-facedsleek-hairedsharp-nosedsmall-eyed little fellow
very little more than five feet highand thoroughly convinced in
his own mind that he was above the middle size; rather tallin
factthan otherwise. Of his figurewhich was well enough formed
though somewhat of the leanesthe entertained the highest
admiration; and with his legswhichin knee-breecheswere
perfect curiosities of littlenesshe was enraptured to a degree
amounting to enthusiasm. He also had some majesticshadowy ideas
which had never been quite fathomed by his intimate friends
concerning the power of his eye. Indeed he had been known to go so
far as to boast that he could utterly quell and subdue the
haughtiest beauty by a simple processwhich he termed 'eyeing her
over;' but it must be addedthat neither of this facultynor of
the power he claimed to havethrough the same giftof vanquishing
and heaving down dumb animalseven in a rabid statehad he ever
furnished evidence which could be deemed quite satisfactory and
conclusive.

It may be inferred from these premisesthat in the small body of
Mr Tappertit there was locked up an ambitious and aspiring soul.
As certain liquorsconfined in casks too cramped in their
dimensionswill fermentand fretand chafe in their
imprisonmentso the spiritual essence or soul of Mr Tappertit
would sometimes fume within that precious caskhis bodyuntil
with great foam and froth and splutterit would force a ventand
carry all before it. It was his custom to remarkin reference to
any one of these occasionsthat his soul had got into his head;
and in this novel kind of intoxication many scrapes and mishaps


befell himwhich he had frequently concealed with no small
difficulty from his worthy master.

Sim Tappertitamong the other fancies upon which his beforementioned
soul was for ever feasting and regaling itself (and which
fancieslike the liver of Prometheusgrew as they were fed
upon)had a mighty notion of his order; and had been heard by the
servant-maid openly expressing his regret that the 'prentices no
longer carried clubs wherewith to mace the citizens: that was his
strong expression. He was likewise reported to have said that in
former times a stigma had been cast upon the body by the execution
of George Barnwellto which they should not have basely
submittedbut should have demanded him of the legislature-temperately
at first; then by an appeal to armsif necessary--to
be dealt with as they in their wisdom might think fit. These
thoughts always led him to consider what a glorious engine the
'prentices might yet become if they had but a master spirit at
their head; and then he would darklyand to the terror of his
hearershint at certain reckless fellows that he knew ofand at a
certain Lion Heart ready to become their captainwhoonce afoot
would make the Lord Mayor tremble on his throne.

In respect of dress and personal decorationSim Tappertit was no
less of an adventurous and enterprising character. He had been
seenbeyond disputeto pull off ruffles of the finest quality at
the corner of the street on Sunday nightsand to put them
carefully in his pocket before returning home; and it was quite
notorious that on all great holiday occasions it was his habit to
exchange his plain steel knee-buckles for a pair of glittering
pasteunder cover of a friendly postplanted most conveniently
in that same spot. Add to this that he was in years just twenty
in his looks much olderand in conceit at least two hundred; that
he had no objection to be jested withtouching his admiration of
his master's daughter; and had evenwhen called upon at a certain
obscure tavern to pledge the lady whom he honoured with his love
toastedwith many winks and leersa fair creature whose Christian
namehe saidbegan with a D--;--and as much is known of Sim
Tappertitwho has by this time followed the locksmith in to
breakfastas is necessary to be known in making his acquaintance.

It was a substantial meal; forover and above the ordinary tea
equipagethe board creaked beneath the weight of a jolly round of
beefa ham of the first magnitudeand sundry towers of buttered
Yorkshire cakepiled slice upon slice in most alluring order.
There was also a goodly jug of well-browned clayfashioned into
the form of an old gentlemannot by any means unlike the
locksmithatop of whose bald head was a fine white froth answering
to his wigindicativebeyond disputeof sparkling home-brewed
ale. Butbetter far than fair home-brewedor Yorkshire cakeor
hamor beefor anything to eat or drink that earth or air or
water can supplythere satpresiding over allthe locksmith's
rosy daughterbefore whose dark eyes even beef grew insignificant
and malt became as nothing.

Fathers should never kiss their daughters when young men are by.
It's too much. There are bounds to human endurance. So thought
Sim Tappertit when Gabriel drew those rosy lips to his--those lips
within Sim's reach from day to dayand yet so far off. He had a
respect for his masterbut he wished the Yorkshire cake might
choke him.

'Father' said the locksmith's daughterwhen this salute was over
and they took their seats at table'what is this I hear about last
night?'


'All truemy dear; true as the GospelDoll.'

'Young Mr Chester robbedand lying wounded in the roadwhen you
came up!'

'Ay--Mr Edward. And beside himBarnabycalling for help with all
his might. It was well it happened as it did; for the road's a
lonely onethe hour was lateandthe night being coldand poor
Barnaby even less sensible than usual from surprise and frightthe
young gentleman might have met his death in a very short time.'

'I dread to think of it!' cried his daughter with a shudder. 'How
did you know him?'

'Know him!' returned the locksmith. 'I didn't know him--how could
I? I had never seen himoften as I had heard and spoken of him.
I took him to Mrs Rudge's; and she no sooner saw him than the truth
came out.'

'Miss Emmafather--If this news should reach herenlarged upon as
it is sure to beshe will go distracted.'

'Whylookye there againhow a man suffers for being goodnatured'
said the locksmith. 'Miss Emma was with her uncle at the
masquerade at Carlisle Housewhere she had goneas the people at
the Warren told mesorely against her will. What does your
blockhead father when he and Mrs Rudge have laid their heads
togetherbut goes there when he ought to be abedmakes interest
with his friend the doorkeeperslips him on a mask and domino
and mixes with the masquers.'

'And like himself to do so!' cried the girlputting her fair arm
round his neckand giving him a most enthusiastic kiss.

'Like himself!' repeated Gabrielaffecting to grumblebut
evidently delighted with the part he had takenand with her
praise. 'Very like himself--so your mother said. Howeverhe
mingled with the crowdand prettily worried and badgered he wasI
warrant youwith people squeakingDon't you know me?and "I've
found you out and all that kind of nonsense in his ears. He
might have wandered on till now, but in a little room there was a
young lady who had taken off her mask, on account of the place
being very warm, and was sitting there alone.'

'And that was she?' said his daughter hastily.

'And that was she,' replied the locksmith; 'and I no sooner
whispered to her what the matter was--as softly, Doll, and with
nearly as much art as you could have used yourself--than she gives
a kind of scream and faints away.'

'What did you do--what happened next?' asked his daughter. 'Why,
the masks came flocking round, with a general noise and hubbub, and
I thought myself in luck to get clear off, that's all,' rejoined
the locksmith. 'What happened when I reached home you may guess,
if you didn't hear it. Ah! Well, it's a poor heart that never
rejoices.--Put Toby this way, my dear.'

This Toby was the brown jug of which previous mention has been
made. Applying his lips to the worthy old gentleman's benevolent
forehead, the locksmith, who had all this time been ravaging among
the eatables, kept them there so long, at the same time raising the
vessel slowly in the air, that at length Toby stood on his head


upon his nose, when he smacked his lips, and set him on the table
again with fond reluctance.

Although Sim Tappertit had taken no share in this conversation, no
part of it being addressed to him, he had not been wanting in such
silent manifestations of astonishment, as he deemed most compatible
with the favourable display of his eyes. Regarding the pause which
now ensued, as a particularly advantageous opportunity for doing
great execution with them upon the locksmith's daughter (who he had
no doubt was looking at him in mute admiration), he began to screw
and twist his face, and especially those features, into such
extraordinary, hideous, and unparalleled contortions, that Gabriel,
who happened to look towards him, was stricken with amazement.

'Why, what the devil's the matter with the lad?' cried the
locksmith. 'Is he choking?'

'Who?' demanded Sim, with some disdain.

'Who? Why, you,' returned his master. 'What do you mean by making
those horrible faces over your breakfast?'

'Faces are matters of taste, sir,' said Mr Tappertit, rather
discomfited; not the less so because he saw the locksmith's
daughter smiling.

'Sim,' rejoined Gabriel, laughing heartily. 'Don't be a fool, for
I'd rather see you in your senses. These young fellows,' he added,
turning to his daughter, 'are always committing some folly or
another. There was a quarrel between Joe Willet and old John last
night though I can't say Joe was much in fault either. He'll be
missing one of these mornings, and will have gone away upon some
wild-goose errand, seeking his fortune.--Why, what's the matter,
Doll? YOU are making faces now. The girls are as bad as the boys
every bit!'

'It's the tea,' said Dolly, turning alternately very red and very
white, which is no doubt the effect of a slight scald--'so very hot.'

Mr Tappertit looked immensely big at a quartern loaf on the table,
and breathed hard.

'Is that all?' returned the locksmith. 'Put some more milk in it.--
Yes, I am sorry for Joe, because he is a likely young fellow, and
gains upon one every time one sees him. But he'll start off,
you'll find. Indeed he told me as much himself!'

'Indeed!' cried Dolly in a faint voice. 'In-deed!'

'Is the tea tickling your throat still, my dear?' said the
locksmith.

But, before his daughter could make him any answer, she was taken
with a troublesome cough, and it was such a very unpleasant cough,
that, when she left off, the tears were starting in her bright
eyes. The good-natured locksmith was still patting her on the back
and applying such gentle restoratives, when a message arrived from
Mrs Varden, making known to all whom it might concern, that she
felt too much indisposed to rise after her great agitation and
anxiety of the previous night; and therefore desired to be
immediately accommodated with the little black teapot of strong
mixed tea, a couple of rounds of buttered toast, a middling-sized
dish of beef and ham cut thin, and the Protestant Manual in two
volumes post octavo. Like some other ladies who in remote ages


flourished upon this globe, Mrs Varden was most devout when most
ill-tempered. Whenever she and her husband were at unusual
variance, then the Protestant Manual was in high feather.

Knowing from experience what these requests portended, the
triumvirate broke up; Dolly, to see the orders executed with all
despatch; Gabriel, to some out-of-door work in his little chaise;
and Sim, to his daily duty in the workshop, to which retreat he
carried the big look, although the loaf remained behind.

Indeed the big look increased immensely, and when he had tied his
apron on, became quite gigantic. It was not until he had several
times walked up and down with folded arms, and the longest strides
be could take, and had kicked a great many small articles out of
his way, that his lip began to curl. At length, a gloomy derision
came upon his features, and he smiled; uttering meanwhile with
supreme contempt the monosyllable 'Joe!'

'I eyed her over, while he talked about the fellow,' he said, 'and
that was of course the reason of her being confused. Joe!'

He walked up and down again much quicker than before, and if
possible with longer strides; sometimes stopping to take a glance
at his legs, and sometimes to jerk out, and cast from him, another
'Joe!' In the course of a quarter of an hour or so he again
assumed the paper cap and tried to work. No. It could not be
done.

'I'll do nothing to-day,' said Mr Tappertit, dashing it down again,
'but grind. I'll grind up all the tools. Grinding will suit my
present humour well. Joe!'

Whirr-r-r-r. The grindstone was soon in motion; the sparks were
flying off in showers. This was the occupation for his heated
spirit.

Whirr-r-r-r-r-r-r.

'Something will come of this!' said Mr Tappertit, pausing as if in
triumph, and wiping his heated face upon his sleeve. 'Something
will come of this. I hope it mayn't be human gore!'

Whirr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

Chapter 5

As soon as the business of the day was over, the locksmith sallied
forth, alone, to visit the wounded gentleman and ascertain the
progress of his recovery. The house where he had left him was in a
by-street in Southwark, not far from London Bridge; and thither he
hied with all speed, bent upon returning with as little delay as
might be, and getting to bed betimes.

The evening was boisterous--scarcely better than the previous night
had been. It was not easy for a stout man like Gabriel to keep his
legs at the street corners, or to make head against the high wind,
which often fairly got the better of him, and drove him back some
paces, or, in defiance of all his energy, forced him to take
shelter in an arch or doorway until the fury of the gust was spent.
Occasionally a hat or wig, or both, came spinning and trundling
past him, like a mad thing; while the more serious spectacle of


falling tiles and slates, or of masses of brick and mortar or
fragments of stone-coping rattling upon the pavement near at hand,
and splitting into fragments, did not increase the pleasure of the
journey, or make the way less dreary.

'A trying night for a man like me to walk in!' said the locksmith,
as he knocked softly at the widow's door. 'I'd rather be in old
John's chimney-corner, faith!'

'Who's there?' demanded a woman's voice from within. Being
answered, it added a hasty word of welcome, and the door was
quickly opened.

She was about forty--perhaps two or three years older--with a
cheerful aspect, and a face that had once been pretty. It bore
traces of affliction and care, but they were of an old date, and
Time had smoothed them. Any one who had bestowed but a casual
glance on Barnaby might have known that this was his mother, from
the strong resemblance between them; but where in his face there
was wildness and vacancy, in hers there was the patient composure
of long effort and quiet resignation.

One thing about this face was very strange and startling. You
could not look upon it in its most cheerful mood without feeling
that it had some extraordinary capacity of expressing terror. It
was not on the surface. It was in no one feature that it lingered.
You could not take the eyes or mouth, or lines upon the cheek, and
say, if this or that were otherwise, it would not be so. Yet there
it always lurked--something for ever dimly seen, but ever there,
and never absent for a moment. It was the faintest, palest shadow
of some look, to which an instant of intense and most unutterable
horror only could have given birth; but indistinct and feeble as it
was, it did suggest what that look must have been, and fixed it in
the mind as if it had had existence in a dream.

More faintly imaged, and wanting force and purpose, as it were,
because of his darkened intellect, there was this same stamp upon
the son. Seen in a picture, it must have had some legend with it,
and would have haunted those who looked upon the canvas. They who
knew the Maypole story, and could remember what the widow was,
before her husband's and his master's murder, understood it well.
They recollected how the change had come, and could call to mind
that when her son was born, upon the very day the deed was known,
he bore upon his wrist what seemed a smear of blood but half washed
out.

'God save you, neighbour!' said the locksmith, as he followed her,
with the air of an old friend, into a little parlour where a
cheerful fire was burning.

'And you,' she answered smiling. 'Your kind heart has brought you
here again. Nothing will keep you at home, I know of old, if there
are friends to serve or comfort, out of doors.'

'Tut, tut,' returned the locksmith, rubbing his hands and warming
them. 'You women are such talkers. What of the patient,
neighbour?'

'He is sleeping now. He was very restless towards daylight, and
for some hours tossed and tumbled sadly. But the fever has left
him, and the doctor says he will soon mend. He must not be removed
until to-morrow.'

'He has had visitors to-day--humph?' said Gabriel, slyly.


'Yes. Old Mr Chester has been here ever since we sent for him, and
had not been gone many minutes when you knocked.'

'No ladies?' said Gabriel, elevating his eyebrows and looking
disappointed.

'A letter,' replied the widow.

'Come. That's better than nothing!' replied the locksmith. 'Who
was the bearer?'

'Barnaby, of course.'

'Barnaby's a jewel!' said Varden; 'and comes and goes with ease
where we who think ourselves much wiser would make but a poor hand
of it. He is not out wandering, again, I hope?'

'Thank Heaven he is in his bed; having been up all night, as you
know, and on his feet all day. He was quite tired out. Ah,
neighbour, if I could but see him oftener so--if I could but tame
down that terrible restlessness--'

'In good time,' said the locksmith, kindly, 'in good time--don't be
down-hearted. To my mind he grows wiser every day.'

The widow shook her head. And yet, though she knew the locksmith
sought to cheer her, and spoke from no conviction of his own, she
was glad to hear even this praise of her poor benighted son.

'He will be a 'cute man yet,' resumed the locksmith. 'Take care,
when we are growing old and foolish, Barnaby doesn't put us to the
blush, that's all. But our other friend,' he added, looking under
the table and about the floor--'sharpest and cunningest of all the
sharp and cunning ones--where's he?'

'In Barnaby's room,' rejoined the widow, with a faint smile.

'Ah! He's a knowing blade!' said Varden, shaking his head. 'I
should be sorry to talk secrets before him. Oh! He's a deep
customer. I've no doubt he can read, and write, and cast accounts
if he chooses. What was that? Him tapping at the door?'

'No,' returned the widow. 'It was in the street, I think. Hark!
Yes. There again! 'Tis some one knocking softly at the shutter.
Who can it be!'

They had been speaking in a low tone, for the invalid lay overhead,
and the walls and ceilings being thin and poorly built, the sound
of their voices might otherwise have disturbed his slumber. The
party without, whoever it was, could have stood close to the
shutter without hearing anything spoken; and, seeing the light
through the chinks and finding all so quiet, might have been
persuaded that only one person was there.

'Some thief or ruffian maybe,' said the locksmith. 'Give me the
light.'

'No, no,' she returned hastily. 'Such visitors have never come to
this poor dwelling. Do you stay here. You're within call, at the
worst. I would rather go myself--alone.'

'Why?' said the locksmith, unwillingly relinquishing the candle he
had caught up from the table.


'Because--I don't know why--because the wish is so strong upon me,'
she rejoined. 'There again--do not detain me, I beg of you!'

Gabriel looked at her, in great surprise to see one who was usually
so mild and quiet thus agitated, and with so little cause. She
left the room and closed the door behind her. She stood for a
moment as if hesitating, with her hand upon the lock. In this
short interval the knocking came again, and a voice close to the
window--a voice the locksmith seemed to recollect, and to have some
disagreeable association with--whispered 'Make haste.'

The words were uttered in that low distinct voice which finds its
way so readily to sleepers' ears, and wakes them in a fright. For
a moment it startled even the locksmith; who involuntarily drew
back from the window, and listened.

The wind rumbling in the chimney made it difficult to hear what
passed, but he could tell that the door was opened, that there was
the tread of a man upon the creaking boards, and then a moment's
silence--broken by a suppressed something which was not a shriek,
or groan, or cry for help, and yet might have been either or all
three; and the words 'My God!' uttered in a voice it chilled him to
hear.

He rushed out upon the instant. There, at last, was that dreadful
look--the very one he seemed to know so well and yet had never seen
before--upon her face. There she stood, frozen to the ground,
gazing with starting eyes, and livid cheeks, and every feature
fixed and ghastly, upon the man he had encountered in the dark last
night. His eyes met those of the locksmith. It was but a flash,
an instant, a breath upon a polished glass, and he was gone.

The locksmith was upon him--had the skirts of his streaming garment
almost in his grasp--when his arms were tightly clutched, and the
widow flung herself upon the ground before him.

'The other way--the other way,' she cried. 'He went the other way.
Turn--turn!'

'The other way! I see him now,' rejoined the locksmith, pointing-'
yonder--there--there is his shadow passing by that light. What-who
is this? Let me go.'

'Come back, come back!' exclaimed the woman, clasping him; 'Do not
touch him on your life. I charge you, come back. He carries other
lives besides his own. Come back!'

'What does this mean?' cried the locksmith.

'No matter what it means, don't ask, don't speak, don't think about
it. He is not to be followed, checked, or stopped. Come back!'

The old man looked at her in wonder, as she writhed and clung about
him; and, borne down by her passion, suffered her to drag him into
the house. It was not until she had chained and double-locked the
door, fastened every bolt and bar with the heat and fury of a
maniac, and drawn him back into the room, that she turned upon him,
once again, that stony look of horror, and, sinking down into a
chair, covered her face, and shuddered, as though the hand of death
were on her.


Chapter 6

Beyond all measure astonished by the strange occurrences which had
passed with so much violence and rapidity, the locksmith gazed upon
the shuddering figure in the chair like one half stupefied, and
would have gazed much longer, had not his tongue been loosened by
compassion and humanity.

'You are ill,' said Gabriel. 'Let me call some neighbour in.'

'Not for the world,' she rejoined, motioning to him with her
trembling hand, and holding her face averted. 'It is enough that
you have been by, to see this.'

'Nay, more than enough--or less,' said Gabriel.

'Be it so,' she returned. 'As you like. Ask me no questions, I
entreat you.'

'Neighbour,' said the locksmith, after a pause. 'Is this fair, or
reasonable, or just to yourself? Is it like you, who have known me
so long and sought my advice in all matters--like you, who from a
girl have had a strong mind and a staunch heart?'

'I have need of them,' she replied. 'I am growing old, both in
years and care. Perhaps that, and too much trial, have made them
weaker than they used to be. Do not speak to me.'

'How can I see what I have seen, and hold my peace!' returned the
locksmith. 'Who was that man, and why has his coming made this
change in you?'

She was silent, but held to the chair as though to save herself
from falling on the ground.

'I take the licence of an old acquaintance, Mary,' said the
locksmith, 'who has ever had a warm regard for you, and maybe has
tried to prove it when he could. Who is this ill-favoured man, and
what has he to do with you? Who is this ghost, that is only seen
in the black nights and bad weather? How does he know, and why
does he haunt, this house, whispering through chinks and crevices,
as if there was that between him and you, which neither durst so
much as speak aloud of? Who is he?'

'You do well to say he haunts this house,' returned the widow,
faintly. 'His shadow has been upon it and me, in light and
darkness, at noonday and midnight. And now, at last, he has come
in the body!'

'But he wouldn't have gone in the body,' returned the locksmith
with some irritation, 'if you had left my arms and legs at liberty.
What riddle is this?'

'It is one,' she answered, rising as she spoke, 'that must remain
for ever as it is. I dare not say more than that.'

'Dare not!' repeated the wondering locksmith.

'Do not press me,' she replied. 'I am sick and faint, and every
faculty of life seems dead within me.--No!--Do not touch me,
either.'

Gabriel, who had stepped forward to render her assistance, fell


back as she made this hasty exclamation, and regarded her in silent
wonder.

'Let me go my way alone,' she said in a low voice, 'and let the
hands of no honest man touch mine to-night.' When she had
tottered to the door, she turned, and added with a stronger effort,
'This is a secret, which, of necessity, I trust to you. You are a
true man. As you have ever been good and kind to me,--keep it. If
any noise was heard above, make some excuse--say anything but what
you really saw, and never let a word or look between us, recall
this circumstance. I trust to you. Mind, I trust to you. How
much I trust, you never can conceive.'

Casting her eyes upon him for an instant, she withdrew, and left
him there alone.

Gabriel, not knowing what to think, stood staring at the door with
a countenance full of surprise and dismay. The more he pondered on
what had passed, the less able he was to give it any favourable
interpretation. To find this widow woman, whose life for so many
years had been supposed to be one of solitude and retirement, and
who, in her quiet suffering character, had gained the good opinion
and respect of all who knew her--to find her linked mysteriously
with an ill-omened man, alarmed at his appearance, and yet
favouring his escape, was a discovery that pained as much as
startled him. Her reliance on his secrecy, and his tacit
acquiescence, increased his distress of mind. If he had spoken
boldly, persisted in questioning her, detained her when she rose to
leave the room, made any kind of protest, instead of silently
compromising himself, as he felt he had done, he would have been
more at ease.

'Why did I let her say it was a secret, and she trusted it to me!'
said Gabriel, putting his wig on one side to scratch his head with
greater ease, and looking ruefully at the fire. 'I have no more
readiness than old John himself. Why didn't I say firmly, You
have no right to such secretsand I demand of you to tell me what
this means instead of standing gaping at her, like an old mooncalf
as I am! But there's my weakness. I can be obstinate enough
with men if need be, but women may twist me round their fingers at
their pleasure.'

He took his wig off outright as he made this reflection, and,
warming his handkerchief at the fire began to rub and polish his
bald head with it, until it glistened again.

'And yet,' said the locksmith, softening under this soothing
process, and stopping to smile, 'it MAY be nothing. Any drunken
brawler trying to make his way into the house, would have alarmed a
quiet soul like her. But then'--and here was the vexation--'how
came it to be that man; how comes he to have this influence over
her; how came she to favour his getting away from me; and, more
than all, how came she not to say it was a sudden fright, and
nothing more? It's a sad thing to have, in one minute, reason to
mistrust a person I have known so long, and an old sweetheart into
the bargain; but what else can I do, with all this upon my mind!--
Is that Barnaby outside there?'

'Ay!' he cried, looking in and nodding. 'Sure enough it's
Barnaby--how did you guess?'

'By your shadow,' said the locksmith.

'Oho!' cried Barnaby, glancing over his shoulder, 'He's a merry


fellow, that shadow, and keeps close to me, though I AM silly. We
have such pranks, such walks, such runs, such gambols on the grass!
Sometimes he'll be half as tall as a church steeple, and sometimes
no bigger than a dwarf. Now, he goes on before, and now behind,
and anon he'll be stealing on, on this side, or on that, stopping
whenever I stop, and thinking I can't see him, though I have my eye
on him sharp enough. Oh! he's a merry fellow. Tell me--is he
silly too? I think he is.'

'Why?' asked Gabriel.

'Because be never tires of mocking me, but does it all day long.--
Why don't you come?'

'Where?'

'Upstairs. He wants you. Stay--where's HIS shadow? Come. You're
a wise man; tell me that.'

'Beside him, Barnaby; beside him, I suppose,' returned the locksmith.

'No!' he replied, shaking his head. 'Guess again.'

'Gone out a walking, maybe?'

'He has changed shadows with a woman,' the idiot whispered in his
ear, and then fell back with a look of triumph. 'Her shadow's
always with him, and his with her. That's sport I think, eh?'

'Barnaby,' said the locksmith, with a grave look; 'come hither,
lad.'

'I know what you want to say. I know!' he replied, keeping away
from him. 'But I'm cunning, I'm silent. I only say so much to
you--are you ready?' As he spoke, he caught up the light, and
waved it with a wild laugh above his head.

'Softly--gently,' said the locksmith, exerting all his influence to
keep him calm and quiet. 'I thought you had been asleep.'

'So I HAVE been asleep,' he rejoined, with widely-opened eyes.
'There have been great faces coming and going--close to my face,
and then a mile away--low places to creep through, whether I would
or no--high churches to fall down from--strange creatures crowded
up together neck and heels, to sit upon the bed--that's sleep, eh?'

'Dreams, Barnaby, dreams,' said the locksmith.

'Dreams!' he echoed softly, drawing closer to him. 'Those are not
dreams.'

'What are,' replied the locksmith, 'if they are not?'

'I dreamed,' said Barnaby, passing his arm through Varden's, and
peering close into his face as he answered in a whisper, 'I dreamed
just now that something--it was in the shape of a man--followed me-came
softly after me--wouldn't let me be--but was always hiding
and crouching, like a cat in dark corners, waiting till I should
pass; when it crept out and came softly after me.--Did you ever see
me run?'

'Many a time, you know.'

'You never saw me run as I did in this dream. Still it came


creeping on to worry me. Nearer, nearer, nearer--I ran faster-leaped--
sprung out of bed, and to the window--and there, in the
street below--but he is waiting for us. Are you coming?'

'What in the street below, Barnaby?' said Varden, imagining that he
traced some connection between this vision and what had actually
occurred.

Barnaby looked into his face, muttered incoherently, waved the
light above his head again, laughed, and drawing the locksmith's
arm more tightly through his own, led him up the stairs in silence.

They entered a homely bedchamber, garnished in a scanty way with
chairs, whose spindle-shanks bespoke their age, and other furniture
of very little worth; but clean and neatly kept. Reclining in an
easy-chair before the fire, pale and weak from waste of blood, was
Edward Chester, the young gentleman who had been the first to quit
the Maypole on the previous night, and who, extending his hand to
the locksmith, welcomed him as his preserver and friend.

'Say no more, sir, say no more,' said Gabriel. 'I hope I would
have done at least as much for any man in such a strait, and most
of all for you, sir. A certain young lady,' he added, with some
hesitation, 'has done us many a kind turn, and we naturally feel--I
hope I give you no offence in saying this, sir?'

The young man smiled and shook his head; at the same time moving in
his chair as if in pain.

'It's no great matter,' he said, in answer to the locksmith's
sympathising look, 'a mere uneasiness arising at least as much from
being cooped up here, as from the slight wound I have, or from the
loss of blood. Be seated, Mr Varden.'

'If I may make so bold, Mr Edward, as to lean upon your chair,'
returned the locksmith, accommodating his action to his speech, and
bending over him, 'I'll stand here for the convenience of speaking
low. Barnaby is not in his quietest humour to-night, and at such
times talking never does him good.'

They both glanced at the subject of this remark, who had taken a
seat on the other side of the fire, and, smiling vacantly, was
making puzzles on his fingers with a skein of string.

'Pray, tell me, sir,' said Varden, dropping his voice still lower,
'exactly what happened last night. I have my reason for inquiring.
You left the Maypole, alone?'

'And walked homeward alone, until I had nearly reached the place
where you found me, when I heard the gallop of a horse.'

'Behind you?' said the locksmith.

'Indeed, yes--behind me. It was a single rider, who soon overtook
me, and checking his horse, inquired the way to London.'

'You were on the alert, sir, knowing how many highwaymen there are,
scouring the roads in all directions?' said Varden.

'I was, but I had only a stick, having imprudently left my pistols
in their holster-case with the landlord's son. I directed him as
he desired. Before the words had passed my lips, he rode upon me
furiously, as if bent on trampling me down beneath his horse's
hoofs. In starting aside, I slipped and fell. You found me with


this stab and an ugly bruise or two, and without my purse--in which
he found little enough for his pains. And now, Mr Varden,' he
added, shaking the locksmith by the hand, 'saving the extent of my
gratitude to you, you know as much as I.'

'Except,' said Gabriel, bending down yet more, and looking
cautiously towards their silent neighhour, 'except in respect of
the robber himself. What like was he, sir? Speak low, if you
please. Barnaby means no harm, but I have watched him oftener than
you, and I know, little as you would think it, that he's listening
now.'

It required a strong confidence in the locksmith's veracity to
lead any one to this belief, for every sense and faculty that
Barnahy possessed, seemed to be fixed upon his game, to the
exclusion of all other things. Something in the young man's face
expressed this opinion, for Gabriel repeated what he had just said,
more earnestly than before, and with another glance towards
Barnaby, again asked what like the man was.

'The night was so dark,' said Edward, 'the attack so sudden, and
he so wrapped and muffled up, that I can hardly say. It seems
that--'

'Don't mention his name, sir,' returned the locksmith, following
his look towards Barnaby; 'I know HE saw him. I want to know what
YOU saw.'

'All I remember is,' said Edward, 'that as he checked his horse his
hat was blown off. He caught it, and replaced it on his head,
which I observed was bound with a dark handkerchief. A stranger
entered the Maypole while I was there, whom I had not seen--for I
had sat apart for reasons of my own--and when I rose to leave the
room and glanced round, he was in the shadow of the chimney and
hidden from my sight. But, if he and the robber were two different
persons, their voices were strangely and most remarkably alike; for
directly the man addressed me in the road, I recognised his speech
again.'

'It is as I feared. The very man was here to-night,' thought the
locksmith, changing colour. 'What dark history is this!'

'Halloa!' cried a hoarse voice in his ear. 'Halloa, halloa,
halloa! Bow wow wow. What's the matter here! Hal-loa!'

The speaker--who made the locksmith start as if he had been some
supernatural agent--was a large raven, who had perched upon the top
of the easy-chair, unseen by him and Edward, and listened with a
polite attention and a most extraordinary appearance of
comprehending every word, to all they had said up to this point;
turning his head from one to the other, as if his office were to
judge between them, and it were of the very last importance that he
should not lose a word.

'Look at him!' said Varden, divided between admiration of the bird
and a kind of fear of him. 'Was there ever such a knowing imp as
that! Oh he's a dreadful fellow!'

The raven, with his head very much on one side, and his bright eye
shining like a diamond, preserved a thoughtful silence for a few
seconds, and then replied in a voice so hoarse and distant, that it
seemed to come through his thick feathers rather than out of his
mouth.


'Halloa, halloa, halloa! What's the matter here! Keep up your
spirits. Never say die. Bow wow wow. I'm a devil, I'm a devil,
I'm a devil. Hurrah!'--And then, as if exulting in his infernal
character, he began to whistle.

'I more than half believe he speaks the truth. Upon my word I do,'
said Varden. 'Do you see how he looks at me, as if he knew what I
was saying?'

To which the bird, balancing himself on tiptoe, as it were, and
moving his body up and down in a sort of grave dance, rejoined,
'I'm a devil, I'm a devil, I'm a devil,' and flapped his wings
against his sides as if he were bursting with laughter. Barnaby
clapped his hands, and fairly rolled upon the ground in an ecstasy
of delight.

'Strange companions, sir,' said the locksmith, shaking his head,
and looking from one to the other. 'The bird has all the wit.'

'Strange indeed!' said Edward, holding out his forefinger to the
raven, who, in acknowledgment of the attention, made a dive at it
immediately with his iron bill. 'Is he old?'

'A mere boy, sir,' replied the locksmith. 'A hundred and twenty,
or thereabouts. Call him down, Barnaby, my man.'

'Call him!' echoed Barnaby, sitting upright upon the floor, and
staring vacantly at Gabriel, as he thrust his hair back from his
face. 'But who can make him come! He calls me, and makes me go
where he will. He goes on before, and I follow. He's the master,
and I'm the man. Is that the truth, Grip?'

The raven gave a short, comfortable, confidential kind of croak;--a
most expressive croak, which seemed to say, 'You needn't let these
fellows into our secrets. We understand each other. It's all
right.'

'I make HIM come?' cried Barnaby, pointing to the bird. 'Him, who
never goes to sleep, or so much as winks!--Why, any time of night,
you may see his eyes in my dark room, shining like two sparks. And
every night, and all night too, he's broad awake, talking to
himself, thinking what he shall do to-morrow, where we shall go,
and what he shall steal, and hide, and bury. I make HIM come!
Ha ha ha!'

On second thoughts, the bird appeared disposed to come of himself.
After a short survey of the ground, and a few sidelong looks at the
ceiling and at everybody present in turn, he fluttered to the
floor, and went to Barnaby--not in a hop, or walk, or run, but in a
pace like that of a very particular gentleman with exceedingly
tight boots on, trying to walk fast over loose pebbles. Then,
stepping into his extended hand, and condescending to be held out
at arm's length, he gave vent to a succession of sounds, not unlike
the drawing of some eight or ten dozen of long corks, and again
asserted his brimstone birth and parentage with great distinctness.

The locksmith shook his head--perhaps in some doubt of the
creature's being really nothing but a bird--perhaps in pity for
Bamaby, who by this time had him in his arms, and was rolling
about, with him, on the ground. As he raised his eyes from the
poor fellow he encountered those of his mother, who had entered the
room, and was looking on in silence.

She was quite white in the face, even to her lips, but had wholly


subdued her emotion, and wore her usual quiet look. Varden fancied
as he glanced at her that she shrunk from his eye; and that she
busied herself about the wounded gentleman to avoid him the better.

It was time he went to bed, she said. He was to be removed to his
own home on the morrow, and he had already exceeded his time for
sitting up, by a full hour. Acting on this hint, the locksmith
prepared to take his leave.

'By the bye,' said Edward, as he shook him by the hand, and looked
from him to Mrs Rudge and back again, 'what noise was that below?
I heard your voice in the midst of it, and should have inquired
before, but our other conversation drove it from my memory. What
was it?'

The locksmith looked towards her, and bit his lip. She leant
against the chair, and bent her eyes upon the ground. Barnaby too-he
was listening.

--'Some mad or drunken fellow, sir,' Varden at length made answer,
looking steadily at the widow as he spoke. 'He mistook the house,
and tried to force an entrance.'

She breathed more freely, but stood quite motionless. As the
locksmith said 'Good night,' and Barnaby caught up the candle to
light him down the stairs, she took it from him, and charged him-with
more haste and earnestness than so slight an occasion appeared
to warrant--not to stir. The raven followed them to satisfy
himself that all was right below, and when they reached the streetdoor,
stood on the bottom stair drawing corks out of number.

With a trembling hand she unfastened the chain and bolts, and
turned the key. As she had her hand upon the latch, the locksmith
said in a low voice,

'I have told a lie to-night, for your sake, Mary, and for the sake
of bygone times and old acquaintance, when I would scorn to do so
for my own. I hope I may have done no harm, or led to none. I
can't help the suspicions you have forced upon me, and I am loth, I
tell you plainly, to leave Mr Edward here. Take care he comes to
no hurt. I doubt the safety of this roof, and am glad he leaves it
so soon. Now, let me go.'

For a moment she hid her face in her hands and wept; but resisting
the strong impulse which evidently moved her to reply, opened the
door--no wider than was sufficient for the passage of his body-and
motioned him away. As the locksmith stood upon the step, it
was chained and locked behind him, and the raven, in furtherance of
these precautions, barked like a lusty house-dog.

'In league with that ill-looking figure that might have fallen from
a gibbet--he listening and hiding here--Barnaby first upon the spot
last night--can she who has always borne so fair a name be guilty
of such crimes in secret!' said the locksmith, musing. 'Heaven
forgive me if I am wrong, and send me just thoughts; but she is
poor, the temptation may be great, and we daily hear of things as
strange.--Ay, bark away, my friend. If there's any wickedness
going on, that raven's in it, I'll be sworn.'

Chapter 7


Mrs Varden was a lady of what is commonly called an uncertain
temper--a phrase which being interpreted signifies a temper
tolerably certain to make everybody more or less uncomfortable.
Thus it generally happened, that when other people were merry, Mrs
Varden was dull; and that when other people were dull, Mrs Varden
was disposed to be amazingly cheerful. Indeed the worthy housewife
was of such a capricious nature, that she not only attained a
higher pitch of genius than Macbeth, in respect of her ability to
be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, loyal and neutral in an
instant, but would sometimes ring the changes backwards and
forwards on all possible moods and flights in one short quarter of
an hour; performing, as it were, a kind of triple bob major on the
peal of instruments in the female belfry, with a skilfulness and
rapidity of execution that astonished all who heard her.

It had been observed in this good lady (who did not want for
personal attractions, being plump and buxom to look at, though like
her fair daughter, somewhat short in stature) that this
uncertainty of disposition strengthened and increased with her
temporal prosperity; and divers wise men and matrons, on friendly
terms with the locksmith and his family, even went so far as to
assert, that a tumble down some half-dozen rounds in the world's
ladder--such as the breaking of the bank in which her husband kept
his money, or some little fall of that kind--would be the making
of her, and could hardly fail to render her one of the most
agreeable companions in existence. Whether they were right or
wrong in this conjecture, certain it is that minds, like bodies,
will often fall into a pimpled ill-conditioned state from mere
excess of comfort, and like them, are often successfully cured by
remedies in themselves very nauseous and unpalatable.

Mrs Varden's chief aider and abettor, and at the same time her
principal victim and object of wrath, was her single domestic
servant, one Miss Miggs; or as she was called, in conformity with
those prejudices of society which lop and top from poor handmaidens
all such genteel excrescences--Miggs. This Miggs was a
tall young lady, very much addicted to pattens in private life;
slender and shrewish, of a rather uncomfortable figure, and though
not absolutely ill-looking, of a sharp and acid visage. As a
general principle and abstract proposition, Miggs held the male sex
to be utterly contemptible and unworthy of notice; to be fickle,
false, base, sottish, inclined to perjury, and wholly undeserving.
When particularly exasperated against them (which, scandal said,
was when Sim Tappertit slighted her most) she was accustomed to
wish with great emphasis that the whole race of women could but die
off, in order that the men might be brought to know the real value
of the blessings by which they set so little store; nay, her
feeling for her order ran so high, that she sometimes declared, if
she could only have good security for a fair, round number--say ten
thousand--of young virgins following her example, she would, to
spite mankind, hang, drown, stab, or poison herself, with a joy
past all expression.

It was the voice of Miggs that greeted the locksmith, when he
knocked at his own house, with a shrill cry of 'Who's there?'

'Me, girl, me,' returned Gabriel.

What, already, sir!' said Miggs, opening the door with a look of
surprise. 'We were just getting on our nightcaps to sit up,--me
and mistress. Oh, she has been SO bad!'

Miggs said this with an air of uncommon candour and concern; but
the parlour-door was standing open, and as Gabriel very well knew


for whose ears it was designed, he regarded her with anything but
an approving look as he passed in.

'Master's come home, mim,' cried Miggs, running before him into the
parlour. 'You was wrong, mim, and I was right. I thought he
wouldn't keep us up so late, two nights running, mim. Master's
always considerate so far. I'm so glad, mim, on your account. I'm
a little'--here Miggs simpered--'a little sleepy myself; I'll own
it now, mim, though I said I wasn't when you asked me. It ain't of
no consequence, mim, of course.'

'You had better,' said the locksmith, who most devoutly wished that
Barnaby's raven was at Miggs's ankles, 'you had better get to bed
at once then.'

'Thanking you kindly, sir,' returned Miggs, 'I couldn't take my
rest in peace, nor fix my thoughts upon my prayers, otherways than
that I knew mistress was comfortable in her bed this night; by
rights she ought to have been there, hours ago.'

'You're talkative, mistress,' said Varden, pulling off his
greatcoat, and looking at her askew.

'Taking the hint, sir,' cried Miggs, with a flushed face, 'and
thanking you for it most kindly, I will make bold to say, that if I
give offence by having consideration for my mistress, I do not ask
your pardon, but am content to get myself into trouble and to be in
suffering.'

Here Mrs Varden, who, with her countenance shrouded in a large
nightcap, had been all this time intent upon the Protestant Manual,
looked round, and acknowledged Miggs's championship by commanding
her to hold her tongue.

Every little bone in Miggs's throat and neck developed itself with
a spitefulness quite alarming, as she replied, 'Yes, mim, I will.'

'How do you find yourself now, my dear?' said the locksmith,
taking a chair near his wife (who had resumed her book), and
rubbing his knees hard as he made the inquiry.

'You're very anxious to know, an't you?' returned Mrs Varden, with
her eyes upon the print. 'You, that have not been near me all day,
and wouldn't have been if I was dying!'

'My dear Martha--' said Gabriel.

Mrs Varden turned over to the next page; then went back again to
the bottom line over leaf to be quite sure of the last words; and
then went on reading with an appearance of the deepest interest and
study.

'My dear Martha,' said the locksmith, 'how can you say such things,
when you know you don't mean them? If you were dying! Why, if
there was anything serious the matter with you, Martha, shouldn't I
be in constant attendance upon you?'

'Yes!' cried Mrs Varden, bursting into tears, 'yes, you would. I
don't doubt it, Varden. Certainly you would. That's as much as to
tell me that you would be hovering round me like a vulture, waiting
till the breath was out of my body, that you might go and marry
somebody else.'

Miggs groaned in sympathy--a little short groan, checked in its


birth, and changed into a cough. It seemed to say, 'I can't help
it. It's wrung from me by the dreadful brutality of that monster
master.'

'But you'll break my heart one of these days,' added Mrs Varden,
with more resignation, 'and then we shall both be happy. My only
desire is to see Dolly comfortably settled, and when she is, you
may settle ME as soon as you like.'

'Ah!' cried Miggs--and coughed again.

Poor Gabriel twisted his wig about in silence for a long time, and
then said mildly, 'Has Dolly gone to bed?'

'Your master speaks to you,' said Mrs Varden, looking sternly over
her shoulder at Miss Miggs in waiting.

'No, my dear, I spoke to you,' suggested the locksmith.

'Did you hear me, Miggs?' cried the obdurate lady, stamping her
foot upon the ground. 'YOU are beginning to despise me now, are
you? But this is example!'

At this cruel rebuke, Miggs, whose tears were always ready, for
large or small parties, on the shortest notice and the most
reasonable terms, fell a crying violently; holding both her hands
tight upon her heart meanwhile, as if nothing less would prevent
its splitting into small fragments. Mrs Varden, who likewise
possessed that faculty in high perfection, wept too, against Miggs;
and with such effect that Miggs gave in after a time, and, except
for an occasional sob, which seemed to threaten some remote
intention of breaking out again, left her mistress in possession of
the field. Her superiority being thoroughly asserted, that lady
soon desisted likewise, and fell into a quiet melancholy.

The relief was so great, and the fatiguing occurrences of last
night so completely overpowered the locksmith, that he nodded in
his chair, and would doubtless have slept there all night, but for
the voice of Mrs Varden, which, after a pause of some five minutes,
awoke him with a start.

'If I am ever,' said Mrs V.--not scolding, but in a sort of
monotonous remonstrance--'in spirits, if I am ever cheerful, if I
am ever more than usually disposed to be talkative and comfortable,
this is the way I am treated.'

'Such spirits as you was in too, mim, but half an hour ago!' cried
Miggs. 'I never see such company!'

'Because,' said Mrs Varden, 'because I never interfere or
interrupt; because I never question where anybody comes or goes;
because my whole mind and soul is bent on saving where I can save,
and labouring in this house;--therefore, they try me as they do.'

'Martha,' urged the locksmith, endeavouring to look as wakeful as
possible, 'what is it you complain of? I really came home with
every wish and desire to be happy. I did, indeed.'

'What do I complain of!' retorted his wife. 'Is it a chilling
thing to have one's husband sulking and falling asleep directly he
comes home--to have him freezing all one's warm-heartedness, and
throwing cold water over the fireside? Is it natural, when I know
he went out upon a matter in which I am as much interested as
anybody can be, that I should wish to know all that has happened,


or that he should tell me without my begging and praying him to do
it? Is that natural, or is it not?'

'I am very sorry, Martha,' said the good-natured locksmith. 'I was
really afraid you were not disposed to talk pleasantly; I'll tell
you everything; I shall only be too glad, my dear.'

'No, Varden,' returned his wife, rising with dignity. 'I dare say-thank
you! I'm not a child to be corrected one minute and petted
the next--I'm a little too old for that, Varden. Miggs, carry the
light.--YOU can be cheerful, Miggs, at least'

Miggs, who, to this moment, had been in the very depths of
compassionate despondency, passed instantly into the liveliest
state conceivable, and tossing her head as she glanced towards the
locksmith, bore off her mistress and the light together.

'Now, who would think,' thought Varden, shrugging his shoulders and
drawing his chair nearer to the fire, 'that that woman could ever
be pleasant and agreeable? And yet she can be. Well, well, all of
us have our faults. I'll not be hard upon hers. We have been man
and wife too long for that.'

He dozed again--not the less pleasantly, perhaps, for his hearty
temper. While his eyes were closed, the door leading to the upper
stairs was partially opened; and a head appeared, which, at sight
of him, hastily drew back again.

'I wish,' murmured Gabriel, waking at the noise, and looking round
the room, 'I wish somebody would marry Miggs. But that's
impossible! I wonder whether there's any madman alive, who would
marry Miggs!'

This was such a vast speculation that he fell into a doze again,
and slept until the fire was quite burnt out. At last he roused
himself; and having double-locked the street-door according to
custom, and put the key in his pocket, went off to bed.

He had not left the room in darkness many minutes, when the head
again appeared, and Sim Tappertit entered, bearing in his hand a
little lamp.

'What the devil business has he to stop up so late!' muttered Sim,
passing into the workshop, and setting it down upon the forge.
'Here's half the night gone already. There's only one good that
has ever come to me, out of this cursed old rusty mechanical trade,
and that's this piece of ironmongery, upon my soul!'

As he spoke, he drew from the right hand, or rather right leg
pocket of his smalls, a clumsy large-sized key, which he inserted
cautiously in the lock his master had secured, and softly opened
the door. That done, he replaced his piece of secret workmanship
in his pocket; and leaving the lamp burning, and closing the door
carefully and without noise, stole out into the street--as little
suspected by the locksmith in his sound deep sleep, as by Barnaby
himself in his phantom-haunted dreams.

Chapter 8

Clear of the locksmith's house, Sim Tappertit laid aside his
cautious manner, and assuming in its stead that of a ruffling,


swaggering, roving blade, who would rather kill a man than
otherwise, and eat him too if needful, made the best of his way
along the darkened streets.

Half pausing for an instant now and then to smite his pocket and
assure himself of the safety of his master key, he hurried on to
Barbican, and turning into one of the narrowest of the narrow
streets which diverged from that centre, slackened his pace and
wiped his heated brow, as if the termination of his walk were near
at hand.

It was not a very choice spot for midnight expeditions, being in
truth one of more than questionable character, and of an appearance
by no means inviting. From the main street he had entered, itself
little better than an alley, a low-browed doorway led into a blind
court, or yard, profoundly dark, unpaved, and reeking with stagnant
odours. Into this ill-favoured pit, the locksmith's vagrant
'prentice groped his way; and stopping at a house from whose
defaced and rotten front the rude effigy of a bottle swung to and
fro like some gibbeted malefactor, struck thrice upon an iron
grating with his foot. After listening in vain for some response
to his signal, Mr Tappertit became impatient, and struck the
grating thrice again.

A further delay ensued, but it was not of long duration. The
ground seemed to open at his feet, and a ragged head appeared.

'Is that the captain?' said a voice as ragged as the head.

'Yes,' replied Mr Tappertit haughtily, descending as he spoke, 'who
should it be?'

'It's so late, we gave you up,' returned the voice, as its owner
stopped to shut and fasten the grating. 'You're late, sir.'

'Lead on,' said Mr Tappertit, with a gloomy majesty, 'and make
remarks when I require you. Forward!'

This latter word of command was perhaps somewhat theatrical and
unnecessary, inasmuch as the descent was by a very narrow, steep,
and slippery flight of steps, and any rashness or departure from
the beaten track must have ended in a yawning water-butt. But Mr
Tappertit being, like some other great commanders, favourable to
strong effects, and personal display, cried 'Forward!' again, in
the hoarsest voice he could assume; and led the way, with folded
arms and knitted brows, to the cellar down below, where there was a
small copper fixed in one corner, a chair or two, a form and table,
a glimmering fire, and a truckle-bed, covered with a ragged
patchwork rug.

'Welcome, noble captain!' cried a lanky figure, rising as from a
nap.

The captain nodded. Then, throwing off his outer coat, he stood
composed in all his dignity, and eyed his follower over.

'What news to-night?' he asked, when he had looked into his very
soul.

'Nothing particular,' replied the other, stretching himself--and he
was so long already that it was quite alarming to see him do it-'
how come you to be so late?'

'No matter,' was all the captain deigned to say in answer. 'Is the


room prepared?'

'It is,' replied the follower.

'The comrade--is he here?'

'Yes. And a sprinkling of the others--you hear 'em?'

'Playing skittles!' said the captain moodily. 'Light-hearted
revellers!'

There was no doubt respecting the particular amusement in which
these heedless spirits were indulging, for even in the close and
stifling atmosphere of the vault, the noise sounded like distant
thunder. It certainly appeared, at first sight, a singular spot to
choose, for that or any other purpose of relaxation, if the other
cellars answered to the one in which this brief colloquy took
place; for the floors were of sodden earth, the walls and roof of
damp bare brick tapestried with the tracks of snails and slugs; the
air was sickening, tainted, and offensive. It seemed, from one
strong flavour which was uppermost among the various odours of the
place, that it had, at no very distant period, been used as a
storehouse for cheeses; a circumstance which, while it accounted
for the greasy moisture that hung about it, was agreeably
suggestive of rats. It was naturally damp besides, and little
trees of fungus sprung from every mouldering corner.

The proprietor of this charming retreat, and owner of the ragged
head before mentioned--for he wore an old tie-wig as bare and
frowzy as a stunted hearth-broom--had by this time joined them; and
stood a little apart, rubbing his hands, wagging his hoary bristled
chin, and smiling in silence. His eyes were closed; but had they
been wide open, it would have been easy to tell, from the attentive
expression of the face he turned towards them--pale and unwholesome
as might be expected in one of his underground existence--and from
a certain anxious raising and quivering of the lids, that he was
blind.

'Even Stagg hath been asleep,' said the long comrade, nodding
towards this person.

'Sound, captain, sound!' cried the blind man; 'what does my noble
captain drink--is it brandy, rum, usquebaugh? Is it soaked
gunpowder, or blazing oil? Give it a name, heart of oak, and we'd
get it for you, if it was wine from a bishop's cellar, or melted
gold from King George's mint.'

'See,' said Mr Tappertit haughtily, 'that it's something strong,
and comes quick; and so long as you take care of that, you may
bring it from the devil's cellar, if you like.'

'Boldly said, noble captain!' rejoined the blind man. 'Spoken like
the 'Prentices' Glory. Ha, ha! From the devil's cellar! A brave
joke! The captain joketh. Ha, ha, ha!'

'I'll tell you what, my fine feller,' said Mr Tappertit, eyeing the
host over as he walked to a closet, and took out a bottle and glass
as carelessly as if he had been in full possession of his sight,
'if you make that row, you'll find that the captain's very far from
joking, and so I tell you.'

'He's got his eyes on me!' cried Stagg, stopping short on his way
back, and affecting to screen his face with the bottle. 'I feel
'em though I can't see 'em. Take 'em off, noble captain. Remove


'em, for they pierce like gimlets.'

Mr Tappertit smiled grimly at his comrade; and twisting out one
more look--a kind of ocular screw--under the influence of which the
blind man feigned to undergo great anguish and torture, bade him,
in a softened tone, approach, and hold his peace.

'I obey you, captain,' cried Stagg, drawing close to him and
filling out a bumper without spilling a drop, by reason that he
held his little finger at the brim of the glass, and stopped at the
instant the liquor touched it, 'drink, noble governor. Death to
all masters, life to all 'prentices, and love to all fair damsels.
Drink, brave general, and warm your gallant heart!'

Mr Tappertit condescended to take the glass from his outstretched
hand. Stagg then dropped on one knee, and gently smoothed the
calves of his legs, with an air of humble admiration.

'That I had but eyes!' he cried, 'to behold my captain's
symmetrical proportions! That I had but eyes, to look upon these
twin invaders of domestic peace!'

'Get out!' said Mr Tappertit, glancing downward at his favourite
limbs. 'Go along, will you, Stagg!'

'When I touch my own afterwards,' cried the host, smiting them
reproachfully, 'I hate 'em. Comparatively speaking, they've no
more shape than wooden legs, beside these models of my noble
captain's.'

'Yours!' exclaimed Mr Tappertit. 'No, I should think not. Don't
talk about those precious old toothpicks in the same breath with
mine; that's rather too much. Here. Take the glass. Benjamin.
Lead on. To business!'

With these words, he folded his arms again; and frowning with a
sullen majesty, passed with his companion through a little door at
the upper end of the cellar, and disappeared; leaving Stagg to his
private meditations.

The vault they entered, strewn with sawdust and dimly lighted, was
between the outer one from which they had just come, and that in
which the skittle-players were diverting themselves; as was
manifested by the increased noise and clamour of tongues, which was
suddenly stopped, however, and replaced by a dead silence, at a
signal from the long comrade. Then, this young gentleman, going to
a little cupboard, returned with a thigh-bone, which in former
times must have been part and parcel of some individual at least as
long as himself, and placed the same in the hands of Mr Tappertit;
who, receiving it as a sceptre and staff of authority, cocked his
three-cornered hat fiercely on the top of his head, and mounted a
large table, whereon a chair of state, cheerfully ornamented with a
couple of skulls, was placed ready for his reception.

He had no sooner assumed this position, than another young
gentleman appeared, bearing in his arms a huge clasped book, who
made him a profound obeisance, and delivering it to the long
comrade, advanced to the table, and turning his back upon it, stood
there Atlas-wise. Then, the long comrade got upon the table too;
and seating himself in a lower chair than Mr Tappertit's, with much
state and ceremony, placed the large book on the shoulders of their
mute companion as deliberately as if he had been a wooden desk, and
prepared to make entries therein with a pen of corresponding size.


When the long comrade had made these preparations, he looked
towards Mr Tappertit; and Mr Tappertit, flourishing the bone,
knocked nine times therewith upon one of the skulls. At the ninth
stroke, a third young gentleman emerged from the door leading to
the skittle ground, and bowing low, awaited his commands.

'Prentice!' said the mighty captain, 'who waits without?'

The 'prentice made answer that a stranger was in attendance, who
claimed admission into that secret society of 'Prentice Knights,
and a free participation in their rights, privileges, and
immunities. Thereupon Mr Tappertit flourished the bone again, and
giving the other skull a prodigious rap on the nose, exclaimed
'Admit him!' At these dread words the 'prentice bowed once more,
and so withdrew as he had come.

There soon appeared at the same door, two other 'prentices, having
between them a third, whose eyes were bandaged, and who was attired
in a bag-wig, and a broad-skirted coat, trimmed with tarnished
lace; and who was girded with a sword, in compliance with the laws
of the Institution regulating the introduction of candidates, which
required them to assume this courtly dress, and kept it constantly
in lavender, for their convenience. One of the conductors of this
novice held a rusty blunderbuss pointed towards his ear, and the
other a very ancient sabre, with which he carved imaginary
offenders as he came along in a sanguinary and anatomical manner.

As this silent group advanced, Mr Tappertit fixed his hat upon his
head. The novice then laid his hand upon his breast and bent
before him. When he had humbled himself sufficiently, the captain
ordered the bandage to be removed, and proceeded to eye him over.

'Ha!' said the captain, thoughtfully, when he had concluded this
ordeal. 'Proceed.'

The long comrade read aloud as follows:--'Mark Gilbert. Age,
nineteen. Bound to Thomas Curzon, hosier, Golden Fleece, Aldgate.
Loves Curzon's daughter. Cannot say that Curzon's daughter loves
him. Should think it probable. Curzon pulled his ears last
Tuesday week.'

'How!' cried the captain, starting.

'For looking at his daughter, please you,' said the novice.

'Write Curzon down, Denounced,' said the captain. 'Put a black
cross against the name of Curzon.'

'So please you,' said the novice, 'that's not the worst--he calls
his 'prentice idle dog, and stops his beer unless he works to his
liking. He gives Dutch cheese, too, eating Cheshire, sir, himself;
and Sundays out, are only once a month.'

'This,' said Mr Tappert;t gravely, 'is a flagrant case. Put two
black crosses to the name of Curzon.'

'If the society,' said the novice, who was an ill-looking, onesided,
shambling lad, with sunken eyes set close together in his
head--'if the society would burn his house down--for he's not
insured--or beat him as he comes home from his club at night, or
help me to carry off his daughter, and marry her at the Fleet,
whether she gave consent or no--'

Mr Tappertit waved his grizzly truncheon as an admonition to him


not to interrupt, and ordered three black crosses to the name of
Curzon.

'Which means,' he said in gracious explanation, 'vengeance,
complete and terrible. 'Prentice, do you love the Constitution?'

To which the novice (being to that end instructed by his attendant
sponsors) replied 'I do!'

'The Church, the State, and everything established--but the
masters?' quoth the captain.

Again the novice said 'I do.'

Having said it, he listened meekly to the captain, who in an
address prepared for such occasions, told him how that under that
same Constitution (which was kept in a strong box somewhere, but
where exactly he could not find out, or he would have endeavoured
to procure a copy of it), the 'prentices had, in times gone by,
had frequent holidays of right, broken people's heads by scores,
defied their masters, nay, even achieved some glorious murders in
the streets, which privileges had gradually been wrested from them,
and in all which noble aspirations they were now restrained; how
the degrading checks imposed upon them were unquestionably
attributable to the innovating spirit of the times, and how they
united therefore to resist all change, except such change as would
restore those good old English customs, by which they would stand
or fall. After illustrating the wisdom of going backward, by
reference to that sagacious fish, the crab, and the not unfrequent
practice of the mule and donkey, he described their general
objects; which were briefly vengeance on their Tyrant Masters (of
whose grievous and insupportable oppression no 'prentice could
entertain a moment's doubt) and the restoration, as aforesaid, of
their ancient rights and holidays; for neither of which objects
were they now quite ripe, being barely twenty strong, but which
they pledged themselves to pursue with fire and sword when needful.
Then he described the oath which every member of that small remnant
of a noble body took, and which was of a dreadful and impressive
kind; binding him, at the bidding of his chief, to resist and
obstruct the Lord Mayor, sword-bearer, and chaplain; to despise the
authority of the sheriffs; and to hold the court of aldermen as
nought; but not on any account, in case the fulness of time should
bring a general rising of 'prentices, to damage or in any way
disfigure Temple Bar, which was strictly constitutional and always
to be approached with reverence. Having gone over these several
heads with great eloquence and force, and having further informed
the novice that this society had its origin in his own teeming
brain, stimulated by a swelling sense of wrong and outrage, Mr
Tappertit demanded whether he had strength of heart to take the
mighty pledge required, or whether he would withdraw while retreat
was yet in his power.

To this the novice made rejoinder, that he would take the vow,
though it should choke him; and it was accordingly administered
with many impressive circumstances, among which the lighting up of
the two skulls with a candle-end inside of each, and a great many
flourishes with the bone, were chiefly conspicuous; not to mention
a variety of grave exercises with the blunderbuss and sabre, and
some dismal groaning by unseen 'prentices without. All these dark
and direful ceremonies being at length completed, the table was put
aside, the chair of state removed, the sceptre locked up in its
usual cupboard, the doors of communication between the three
cellars thrown freely open, and the 'Prentice Knights resigned
themselves to merriment.


But Mr Tappertit, who had a soul above the vulgar herd, and who, on
account of his greatness, could only afford to be merry now and
then, threw himself on a bench with the air of a man who was faint
with dignity. He looked with an indifferent eye, alike on
skittles, cards, and dice, thinking only of the locksmith's
daughter, and the base degenerate days on which he had fallen.

'My noble captain neither games, nor sings, nor dances,' said his
host, taking a seat beside him. 'Drink, gallant general!'

Mr Tappertit drained the proffered goblet to the dregs; then thrust
his hands into his pockets, and with a lowering visage walked among
the skittles, while his followers (such is the influence of
superior genius) restrained the ardent ball, and held his little
shins in dumb respect.

'If I had been born a corsair or a pirate, a brigand, genteel
highwayman or patriot--and they're the same thing,' thought Mr
Tappertit, musing among the nine-pins, 'I should have been all
right. But to drag out a ignoble existence unbeknown to mankind in
general--patience! I will be famous yet. A voice within me keeps
on whispering Greatness. I shall burst out one of these days, and
when I do, what power can keep me down? I feel my soul getting
into my head at the idea. More drink there!'

'The novice,' pursued Mr Tappertit, not exactly in a voice of
thunder, for his tones, to say the truth were rather cracked and
shrill--but very impressively, notwithstanding--'where is he?'

'Here, noble captain!' cried Stagg. 'One stands beside me who I
feel is a stranger.'

'Have you,' said Mr Tappertit, letting his gaze fall on the party
indicated, who was indeed the new knight, by this time restored to
his own apparel; 'Have you the impression of your street-door key
in wax?'

The long comrade anticipated the reply, by producing it from the
shelf on which it had been deposited.

'Good,' said Mr Tappertit, scrutinising it attentively, while a
breathless silence reigned around; for he had constructed secret
door-keys for the whole society, and perhaps owed something of his
influence to that mean and trivial circumstance--on such slight
accidents do even men of mind depend!--'This is easily made. Come
hither, friend.'

With that, he beckoned the new knight apart, and putting the
pattern in his pocket, motioned to him to walk by his side.

'And so,' he said, when they had taken a few turns up and down,
you--you love your master's daughter?'

'I do,' said the 'prentice. 'Honour bright. No chaff, you know.'

'Have you,' rejoined Mr Tappertit, catching him by the wrist, and
giving him a look which would have been expressive of the most
deadly malevolence, but for an accidental hiccup that rather
interfered with it; 'have you a--a rival?'

'Not as I know on,' replied the 'prentice.

'If you had now--' said Mr Tappertit--'what would you--eh?--'


The 'prentice looked fierce and clenched his fists.

'It is enough,' cried Mr Tappertit hastily, 'we understand each
other. We are observed. I thank you.'

So saying, he cast him off again; and calling the long comrade
aside after taking a few hasty turns by himself, bade him
immediately write and post against the wall, a notice, proscribing
one Joseph Willet (commonly known as Joe) of Chigwell; forbidding
all 'Prentice Knights to succour, comfort, or hold communion with
him; and requiring them, on pain of excommunication, to molest,
hurt, wrong, annoy, and pick quarrels with the said Joseph,
whensoever and wheresoever they, or any of them, should happen to
encounter him.

Having relieved his mind by this energetic proceeding, he
condescended to approach the festive board, and warming by degrees,
at length deigned to preside, and even to enchant the company with
a song. After this, he rose to such a pitch as to consent to
regale the society with a hornpipe, which be actually performed to
the music of a fiddle (played by an ingenious member) with such
surpassing agility and brilliancy of execution, that the spectators
could not be sufficiently enthusiastic in their admiration; and
their host protested, with tears in his eyes, that he had never
truly felt his blindness until that moment.

But the host withdrawing--probably to weep in secret--soon returned
with the information that it wanted little more than an hour of
day, and that all the cocks in Barbican had already begun to crow,
as if their lives depended on it. At this intelligence, the
'Prentice Knights arose in haste, and marshalling into a line,
filed off one by one and dispersed with all speed to their several
homes, leaving their leader to pass the grating last.

'Good night, noble captain,' whispered the blind man as he held it
open for his passage out; 'Farewell, brave general. Bye, bye,
illustrious commander. Good luck go with you for a--conceited,
bragging, empty-headed, duck-legged idiot.'

With which parting words, coolly added as he listened to his
receding footsteps and locked the grate upon himself, he descended
the steps, and lighting the fire below the little copper,
prepared, without any assistance, for his daily occupation; which
was to retail at the area-head above pennyworths of broth and soup,
and savoury puddings, compounded of such scraps as were to be
bought in the heap for the least money at Fleet Market in the
evening time; and for the sale of which he had need to have
depended chiefly on his private connection, for the court had no
thoroughfare, and was not that kind of place in which many people
were likely to take the air, or to frequent as an agreeable
promenade.

Chapter 9

Chronicler's are privileged to enter where they list, to come and
go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome, in their
soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time, and place.
Thrice blessed be this last consideration, since it enables us to
follow the disdainful Miggs even into the sanctity of her chamber,
and to hold her in sweet companionship through the dreary watches


of the night!

Miss Miggs, having undone her mistress, as she phrased it (which
means, assisted to undress her), and having seen her comfortably to
bed in the back room on the first floor, withdrew to her own
apartment, in the attic story. Notwithstanding her declaration in
the locksmith's presence, she was in no mood for sleep; so, putting
her light upon the table and withdrawing the little window curtain,
she gazed out pensively at the wild night sky.

Perhaps she wondered what star was destined for her habitation when
she had run her little course below; perhaps speculated which of
those glimmering spheres might be the natal orb of Mr Tappertit;
perhaps marvelled how they could gaze down on that perfidious
creature, man, and not sicken and turn green as chemists' lamps;
perhaps thought of nothing in particular. Whatever she thought
about, there she sat, until her attention, alive to anything
connected with the insinuating 'prentice, was attracted by a noise
in the next room to her own--his room; the room in which he slept,
and dreamed--it might be, sometimes dreamed of her.

That he was not dreaming now, unless he was taking a walk in his
sleep, was clear, for every now and then there came a shuffling
noise, as though he were engaged in polishing the whitewashed wall;
then a gentle creaking of his door; then the faintest indication of
his stealthy footsteps on the landing-place outside. Noting this
latter circumstance, Miss Miggs turned pale and shuddered, as
mistrusting his intentions; and more than once exclaimed, below her
breath, 'Oh! what a Providence it is, as I am bolted in!'--which,
owing doubtless to her alarm, was a confusion of ideas on her part
between a bolt and its use; for though there was one on the door,
it was not fastened.

Miss Miggs's sense of hearing, however, having as sharp an edge as
her temper, and being of the same snappish and suspicious kind,
very soon informed her that the footsteps passed her door, and
appeared to have some object quite separate and disconnected from
herself. At this discovery she became more alarmed than ever, and
was about to give utterance to those cries of 'Thieves!' and
'Murder!' which she had hitherto restrained, when it occurred to
her to look softly out, and see that her fears had some good
palpable foundation.

Looking out accordingly, and stretching her neck over the handrail,
she descried, to her great amazement, Mr Tappertit completely
dressed, stealing downstairs, one step at a time, with his shoes in
one hand and a lamp in the other. Following him with her eyes, and
going down a little way herself to get the better of an intervening
angle, she beheld him thrust his head in at the parlour-door, draw
it back again with great swiftness, and immediately begin a retreat
upstairs with all possible expedition.

'Here's mysteries!' said the damsel, when she was safe in her own
room again, quite out of breath. 'Oh, gracious, here's mysteries!'

The prospect of finding anybody out in anything, would have kept
Miss Miggs awake under the influence of henbane. Presently, she
heard the step again, as she would have done if it had been that of
a feather endowed with motion and walking down on tiptoe. Then
gliding out as before, she again beheld the retreating figure of
the 'prentice; again he looked cautiously in at the parlour-door,
but this time instead of retreating, he passed in and disappeared.

Miggs was back in her room, and had her head out of the window,


before an elderly gentleman could have winked and recovered from
it. Out he came at the street-door, shut it carefully behind him,
tried it with his knee, and swaggered off, putting something in his
pocket as he went along. At this spectacle Miggs cried 'Gracious!'
again, and then 'Goodness gracious!' and then 'Goodness gracious
me!' and then, candle in hand, went downstairs as he had done.
Coming to the workshop, she saw the lamp burning on the forge, and
everything as Sim had left it.

'Why I wish I may only have a walking funeral, and never be buried
decent with a mourning-coach and feathers, if the boy hasn't been
and made a key for his own self!' cried Miggs. 'Oh the little
villain!'

This conclusion was not arrived at without consideration, and much
peeping and peering about; nor was it unassisted by the
recollection that she had on several occasions come upon the
'prentice suddenly, and found him busy at some mysterious
occupation. Lest the fact of Miss Miggs calling him, on whom she
stooped to cast a favourable eye, a boy, should create surprise in
any breast, it may be observed that she invariably affected to
regard all male bipeds under thirty as mere chits and infants;
which phenomenon is not unusual in ladies of Miss Miggs's temper,
and is indeed generally found to be the associate of such
indomitable and savage virtue.

Miss Miggs deliberated within herself for some little time, looking
hard at the shop-door while she did so, as though her eyes and
thoughts were both upon it; and then, taking a sheet of paper from
a drawer, twisted it into a long thin spiral tube. Having filled
this instrument with a quantity of small coal-dust from the forge,
she approached the door, and dropping on one knee before it,
dexterously blew into the keyhole as much of these fine ashes as
the lock would hold. When she had filled it to the brim in a very
workmanlike and skilful manner, she crept upstairs again, and
chuckled as she went.

'There!' cried Miggs, rubbing her hands, 'now let's see whether you
won't be glad to take some notice of me, mister. He, he, he!
You'll have eyes for somebody besides Miss Dolly now, I think. A
fat-faced puss she is, as ever I come across!'

As she uttered this criticism, she glanced approvingly at her small
mirror, as who should say, I thank my stars that can't be said of
me!--as it certainly could not; for Miss Miggs's style of beauty
was of that kind which Mr Tappertit himself had not inaptly termed,
in private, 'scraggy.'

'I don't go to bed this night!' said Miggs, wrapping herself in a
shawl, and drawing a couple of chairs near the window, flouncing
down upon one, and putting her feet upon the other, 'till you come
home, my lad. I wouldn't,' said Miggs viciously, 'no, not for
five-and-forty pound!'

With that, and with an expression of face in which a great number
of opposite ingredients, such as mischief, cunning, malice,
triumph, and patient expectation, were all mixed up together in a
kind of physiognomical punch, Miss Miggs composed herself to wait
and listen, like some fair ogress who had set a trap and was
watching for a nibble from a plump young traveller.

She sat there, with perfect composure, all night. At length, just
upon break of day, there was a footstep in the street, and
presently she could hear Mr Tappertit stop at the door. Then she


could make out that he tried his key--that he was blowing into it-that
he knocked it on the nearest post to beat the dust out--that
he took it under a lamp to look at it--that he poked bits of stick
into the lock to clear it--that he peeped into the keyhole, first
with one eye, and then with the other--that he tried the key again-that
he couldn't turn it, and what was worse, couldn't get it out-that
he bent it--that then it was much less disposed to come out
than before--that he gave it a mighty twist and a great pull, and
then it came out so suddenly that he staggered backwards--that he
kicked the door--that he shook it--finally, that he smote his
forehead, and sat down on the step in despair.

When this crisis had arrived, Miss Miggs, affecting to be exhausted
with terror, and to cling to the window-sill for support, put out
her nightcap, and demanded in a faint voice who was there.

Mr Tappertit cried 'Hush!' and, backing to the road, exhorted her
in frenzied pantomime to secrecy and silence.

'Tell me one thing,' said Miggs. 'Is it thieves?'

'No--no--no!' cried Mr Tappertit.

'Then,' said Miggs, more faintly than before, 'it's fire. Where
is it, sir? It's near this room, I know. I've a good conscience,
sir, and would much rather die than go down a ladder. All I wish
is, respecting my love to my married sister, Golden Lion Court,
number twenty-sivin, second bell-handle on the right-hand doorpost.'


'Miggs!' cried Mr Tappertit, 'don't you know me? Sim, you know--
Sim--'

'Oh! what about him!' cried Miggs, clasping her hands. 'Is he in
any danger? Is he in the midst of flames and blazes! Oh gracious,
gracious!'

'Why I'm here, an't I?' rejoined Mr Tappertit, knocking himself on
the breast. 'Don't you see me? What a fool you are, Miggs!'

'There!' cried Miggs, unmindful of this compliment. 'Why--so it--
Goodness, what is the meaning of--If you please, mim, here's--'

'No, no!' cried Mr Tappertit, standing on tiptoe, as if by that
means he, in the street, were any nearer being able to stop the
mouth of Miggs in the garret. 'Don't!--I've been out without
leave, and something or another's the matter with the lock. Come
down, and undo the shop window, that I may get in that way.'

'I dursn't do it, Simmun,' cried Miggs--for that was her
pronunciation of his Christian name. 'I dursn't do it, indeed.
You know as well as anybody, how particular I am. And to come
down in the dead of night, when the house is wrapped in slumbers
and weiled in obscurity.' And there she stopped and shivered, for
her modesty caught cold at the very thought.

'But Miggs,' cried Mr Tappertit, getting under the lamp, that she
might see his eyes. 'My darling Miggs--'

Miggs screamed slightly.

'--That I love so much, and never can help thinking of,' and it is
impossible to describe the use he made of his eyes when he said
this--'do--for my sake, do.'


'Oh Simmun,' cried Miggs, 'this is worse than all. I know if I
come down, you'll go, and--'

'And what, my precious?' said Mr Tappertit.

'And try,' said Miggs, hysterically, 'to kiss me, or some such
dreadfulness; I know you will!'

'I swear I won't,' said Mr Tappertit, with remarkable earnestness.
'Upon my soul I won't. It's getting broad day, and the watchman's
waking up. Angelic Miggs! If you'll only come and let me in, I
promise you faithfully and truly I won't.'

Miss Miggs, whose gentle heart was touched, did not wait for the
oath (knowing how strong the temptation was, and fearing he might
forswear himself), but tripped lightly down the stairs, and with
her own fair hands drew back the rough fastenings of the workshop
window. Having helped the wayward 'prentice in, she faintly
articulated the words 'Simmun is safe!' and yielding to her woman's
nature, immediately became insensible.

'I knew I should quench her,' said Sim, rather embarrassed by this
circumstance. 'Of course I was certain it would come to this, but
there was nothing else to be done--if I hadn't eyed her over, she
wouldn't have come down. Here. Keep up a minute, Miggs. What a
slippery figure she is! There's no holding her, comfortably. Do
keep up a minute, Miggs, will you?'

As Miggs, however, was deaf to all entreaties, Mr Tappertit leant
her against the wall as one might dispose of a walking-stick or
umbrella, until he had secured the window, when he took her in his
arms again, and, in short stages and with great difficulty--arising
from her being tall and his being short, and perhaps in some degree
from that peculiar physical conformation on which he had already
remarked--carried her upstairs, and planting her, in the same
umbrella and walking-stick fashion, just inside her own door, left
her to her repose.

'He may be as cool as he likes,' said Miss Miggs, recovering as
soon as she was left alone; 'but I'm in his confidence and he can't
help himself, nor couldn't if he was twenty Simmunses!'

Chapter 10

It was on one of those mornings, common in early spring, when the
year, fickle and changeable in its youth like all other created
things, is undecided whether to step backward into winter or
forward into summer, and in its uncertainty inclines now to the one
and now to the other, and now to both at once--wooing summer in the
sunshine, and lingering still with winter in the shade--it was, in
short, on one of those mornings, when it is hot and cold, wet and
dry, bright and lowering, sad and cheerful, withering and genial,
in the compass of one short hour, that old John Willet, who was
dropping asleep over the copper boiler, was roused by the sound of
a horse's feet, and glancing out at window, beheld a traveller of
goodly promise, checking his bridle at the Maypole door.

He was none of your flippant young fellows, who would call for a
tankard of mulled ale, and make themselves as much at home as if
they had ordered a hogshead of wine; none of your audacious young


swaggerers, who would even penetrate into the bar--that solemn
sanctuary--and, smiting old John upon the back, inquire if there
was never a pretty girl in the house, and where he hid his little
chambermaids, with a hundred other impertinences of that nature;
none of your free-and-easy companions, who would scrape their
boots upon the firedogs in the common room, and be not at all
particular on the subject of spittoons; none of your unconscionable
blades, requiring impossible chops, and taking unheard-of pickles
for granted. He was a staid, grave, placid gentleman, something
past the prime of life, yet upright in his carriage, for all that,
and slim as a greyhound. He was well-mounted upon a sturdy
chestnut cob, and had the graceful seat of an experienced horseman;
while his riding gear, though free from such fopperies as were then
in vogue, was handsome and well chosen. He wore a riding-coat of a
somewhat brighter green than might have been expected to suit the
taste of a gentleman of his years, with a short, black velvet cape,
and laced pocket-holes and cuffs, all of a jaunty fashion; his
linen, too, was of the finest kind, worked in a rich pattern at the
wrists and throat, and scrupulously white. Although he seemed,
judging from the mud he had picked up on the way, to have come from
London, his horse was as smooth and cool as his own iron-grey
periwig and pigtail. Neither man nor beast had turned a single
hair; and saving for his soiled skirts and spatter-dashes, this
gentleman, with his blooming face, white teeth, exactly-ordered
dress, and perfect calmness, might have come from making an
elaborate and leisurely toilet, to sit for an equestrian portrait
at old John Willet's gate.

It must not be supposed that John observed these several
characteristics by other than very slow degrees, or that he took in
more than half a one at a time, or that he even made up his mind
upon that, without a great deal of very serious consideration.
Indeed, if he had been distracted in the first instance by
questionings and orders, it would have taken him at the least a
fortnight to have noted what is here set down; but it happened that
the gentleman, being struck with the old house, or with the plump
pigeons which were skimming and curtseying about it, or with the
tall maypole, on the top of which a weathercock, which had been out
of order for fifteen years, performed a perpetual walk to the music
of its own creaking, sat for some little time looking round in
silence. Hence John, standing with his hand upon the horse's
bridle, and his great eyes on the rider, and with nothing passing
to divert his thoughts, had really got some of these little
circumstances into his brain by the time he was called upon to
speak.

'A quaint place this,' said the gentleman--and his voice was as
rich as his dress. 'Are you the landlord?'

'At your service, sir,' replied John Willet.

'You can give my horse good stabling, can you, and me an early
dinner (I am not particular what, so that it be cleanly served),
and a decent room of which there seems to be no lack in this great
mansion,' said the stranger, again running his eyes over the
exterior.

'You can have, sir,' returned John with a readiness quite
surprising, 'anything you please.'

'It's well I am easily satisfied,' returned the other with a smile,
'or that might prove a hardy pledge, my friend.' And saying so, he
dismounted, with the aid of the block before the door, in a
twinkling.


'Halloa there! Hugh!' roared John. 'I ask your pardon, sir, for
keeping you standing in the porch; but my son has gone to town on
business, and the boy being, as I may say, of a kind of use to me,
I'm rather put out when he's away. Hugh!--a dreadful idle vagrant
fellow, sir, half a gipsy, as I think--always sleeping in the sun
in summer, and in the straw in winter time, sir--Hugh! Dear Lord,
to keep a gentleman a waiting here through him!--Hugh! I wish that
chap was dead, I do indeed.'

'Possibly he is,' returned the other. 'I should think if he were
living, he would have heard you by this time.'

'In his fits of laziness, he sleeps so desperate hard,' said the
distracted host, 'that if you were to fire off cannon-balls into
his ears, it wouldn't wake him, sir.'

The guest made no remark upon this novel cure for drowsiness, and
recipe for making people lively, but, with his hands clasped behind
him, stood in the porch, very much amused to see old John, with the
bridle in his hand, wavering between a strong impulse to abandon
the animal to his fate, and a half disposition to lead him into the
house, and shut him up in the parlour, while he waited on his
master.

'Pillory the fellow, here he is at last!' cried John, in the very
height and zenith of his distress. 'Did you hear me a calling,
villain?'

The figure he addressed made no answer, but putting his hand upon
the saddle, sprung into it at a bound, turned the horse's head
towards the stable, and was gone in an instant.

'Brisk enough when he is awake,' said the guest.

'Brisk enough, sir!' replied John, looking at the place where the
horse had been, as if not yet understanding quite, what had become
of him. 'He melts, I think. He goes like a drop of froth. You
look at him, and there he is. You look at him again, and--there he
isn't.'

Having, in the absence of any more words, put this sudden climax to
what he had faintly intended should be a long explanation of the
whole life and character of his man, the oracular John Willet led
the gentleman up his wide dismantled staircase into the Maypole's
best apartment.

It was spacious enough in all conscience, occupying the whole depth
of the house, and having at either end a great bay window, as large
as many modern rooms; in which some few panes of stained glass,
emblazoned with fragments of armorial bearings, though cracked, and
patched, and shattered, yet remained; attesting, by their
presence, that the former owner had made the very light subservient
to his state, and pressed the sun itself into his list of
flatterers; bidding it, when it shone into his chamber, reflect the
badges of his ancient family, and take new hues and colours from
their pride.

But those were old days, and now every little ray came and went as
it would; telling the plain, bare, searching truth. Although the
best room of the inn, it had the melancholy aspect of grandeur in
decay, and was much too vast for comfort. Rich rustling hangings,
waving on the walls; and, better far, the rustling of youth and
beauty's dress; the light of women's eyes, outshining the tapers


and their own rich jewels; the sound of gentle tongues, and music,
and the tread of maiden feet, had once been there, and filled it
with delight. But they were gone, and with them all its gladness.
It was no longer a home; children were never born and bred there;
the fireside had become mercenary--a something to be bought and
sold--a very courtezan: let who would die, or sit beside, or leave
it, it was still the same--it missed nobody, cared for nobody, had
equal warmth and smiles for all. God help the man whose heart ever
changes with the world, as an old mansion when it becomes an inn!

No effort had been made to furnish this chilly waste, but before
the broad chimney a colony of chairs and tables had been planted on
a square of carpet, flanked by a ghostly screen, enriched with
figures, grinning and grotesque. After lighting with his own hands
the faggots which were heaped upon the hearth, old John withdrew to
hold grave council with his cook, touching the stranger's
entertainment; while the guest himself, seeing small comfort in
the yet unkindled wood, opened a lattice in the distant window, and
basked in a sickly gleam of cold March sun.

Leaving the window now and then, to rake the crackling logs
together, or pace the echoing room from end to end, he closed it
when the fire was quite burnt up, and having wheeled the easiest
chair into the warmest corner, summoned John Willet.

'Sir,' said John.

He wanted pen, ink, and paper. There was an old standish on the
mantelshelf containing a dusty apology for all three. Having set
this before him, the landlord was retiring, when he motioned him to
stay.

'There's a house not far from here,' said the guest when he had
written a few lines, 'which you call the Warren, I believe?'

As this was said in the tone of one who knew the fact, and asked
the question as a thing of course, John contented himself with
nodding his head in the affirmative; at the same time taking one
hand out of his pockets to cough behind, and then putting it in
again.

'I want this note'--said the guest, glancing on what he had
written, and folding it, 'conveyed there without loss of time, and
an answer brought back here. Have you a messenger at hand?'

John was thoughtful for a minute or thereabouts, and then said Yes.

'Let me see him,' said the guest.

This was disconcerting; for Joe being out, and Hugh engaged in
rubbing down the chestnut cob, he designed sending on the errand,
Barnaby, who had just then arrived in one of his rambles, and who,
so that he thought himself employed on a grave and serious
business, would go anywhere.

'Why the truth is,' said John after a long pause, 'that the person
who'd go quickest, is a sort of natural, as one may say, sir; and
though quick of foot, and as much to be trusted as the post
itself, he's not good at talking, being touched and flighty, sir.'

'You don't,' said the guest, raising his eyes to John's fat face,
'you don't mean--what's the fellow's name--you don't mean Barnaby?'

'Yes, I do,' returned the landlord, his features turning quite


expressive with surprise.

'How comes he to be here?' inquired the guest, leaning back in his
chair; speaking in the bland, even tone, from which he never
varied; and with the same soft, courteous, never-changing smile
upon his face. 'I saw him in London last night.'

'He's, for ever, here one hour, and there the next,' returned old
John, after the usual pause to get the question in his mind.
'Sometimes he walks, and sometimes runs. He's known along the road
by everybody, and sometimes comes here in a cart or chaise, and
sometimes riding double. He comes and goes, through wind, rain,
snow, and hail, and on the darkest nights. Nothing hurts HIM.'

'He goes often to the Warren, does he not?' said the guest
carelessly. 'I seem to remember his mother telling me something to
that effect yesterday. But I was not attending to the good woman
much.'

'You're right, sir,' John made answer, 'he does. His father, sir,
was murdered in that house.'

'So I have heard,' returned the guest, taking a gold toothpick
from his pocket with the same sweet smile. 'A very disagreeable
circumstance for the family.'

'Very,' said John with a puzzled look, as if it occurred to him,
dimly and afar off, that this might by possibility be a cool way of
treating the subject.

'All the circumstances after a murder,' said the guest
soliloquising, 'must be dreadfully unpleasant--so much bustle and
disturbance--no repose--a constant dwelling upon one subject--and
the running in and out, and up and down stairs, intolerable. I
wouldn't have such a thing happen to anybody I was nearly
interested in, on any account. 'Twould be enough to wear one's
life out.--You were going to say, friend--' he added, turning to
John again.

'Only that Mrs Rudge lives on a little pension from the family, and
that Barnaby's as free of the house as any cat or dog about it,'
answered John. 'Shall he do your errand, sir?'

'Oh yes,' replied the guest. 'Oh certainly. Let him do it by all
means. Please to bring him here that I may charge him to be quick.
If he objects to come you may tell him it's Mr Chester. He will
remember my name, I dare say.'

John was so very much astonished to find who his visitor was, that
he could express no astonishment at all, by looks or otherwise, but
left the room as if he were in the most placid and imperturbable of
all possible conditions. It has been reported that when he got
downstairs, he looked steadily at the boiler for ten minutes by
the clock, and all that time never once left off shaking his head;
for which statement there would seem to be some ground of truth and
feasibility, inasmuch as that interval of time did certainly
elapse, before he returned with Barnaby to the guest's apartment.

'Come hither, lad,' said Mr Chester. 'You know Mr Geoffrey
Haredale?'

Barnaby laughed, and looked at the landlord as though he would say,
'You hear him?' John, who was greatly shocked at this breach of
decorum, clapped his finger to his nose, and shook his head in mute


remonstrance.

'He knows him, sir,' said John, frowning aside at Barnaby, 'as well
as you or I do.'

'I haven't the pleasure of much acquaintance with the gentleman,'
returned his guest. 'YOU may have. Limit the comparison to
yourself, my friend.'

Although this was said with the same easy affability, and the same
smile, John felt himself put down, and laying the indignity at
Barnaby's door, determined to kick his raven, on the very first
opportunity.

'Give that,' said the guest, who had by this time sealed the note,
and who beckoned his messenger towards him as he spoke, 'into Mr
Haredale's own hands. Wait for an answer, and bring it back to me
here. If you should find that Mr Haredale is engaged just now,
tell him--can he remember a message, landlord?'

'When he chooses, sir,' replied John. 'He won't forget this one.'

'How are you sure of that?'

John merely pointed to him as he stood with his head bent forward,
and his earnest gaze fixed closely on his questioner's face; and
nodded sagely.

'Tell him then, Barnaby, should he be engaged,' said Mr Chester,
'that I shall be glad to wait his convenience here, and to see him
(if he will call) at any time this evening.--At the worst I can
have a bed here, Willet, I suppose?'

Old John, immensely flattered by the personal notoriety implied in
this familiar form of address, answered, with something like a
knowing look, 'I should believe you could, sir,' and was turning
over in his mind various forms of eulogium, with the view of
selecting one appropriate to the qualities of his best bed, when
his ideas were put to flight by Mr Chester giving Barnaby the
letter, and bidding him make all speed away.

'Speed!' said Barnaby, folding the little packet in his breast,
'Speed! If you want to see hurry and mystery, come here. Here!'

With that, he put his hand, very much to John Willet's horror, on
the guest's fine broadcloth sleeve, and led him stealthily to the
back window.

'Look down there,' he said softly; 'do you mark how they whisper in
each other's ears; then dance and leap, to make believe they are in
sport? Do you see how they stop for a moment, when they think
there is no one looking, and mutter among themselves again; and
then how they roll and gambol, delighted with the mischief they've
been plotting? Look at 'em now. See how they whirl and plunge.
And now they stop again, and whisper, cautiously together--little
thinking, mind, how often I have lain upon the grass and watched
them. I say what is it that they plot and hatch? Do you know?'

'They are only clothes,' returned the guest, 'such as we wear;
hanging on those lines to dry, and fluttering in the wind.'

'Clothes!' echoed Barnaby, looking close into his face, and falling
quickly back. 'Ha ha! Why, how much better to be silly, than as
wise as you! You don't see shadowy people there, like those that


live in sleep--not you. Nor eyes in the knotted panes of glass,
nor swift ghosts when it blows hard, nor do you hear voices in the
air, nor see men stalking in the sky--not you! I lead a merrier
life than you, with all your cleverness. You're the dull men.
We're the bright ones. Ha! ha! I'll not change with you, clever
as you are,--not I!'

With that, he waved his hat above his head, and darted off.

'A strange creature, upon my word!' said the guest, pulling out a
handsome box, and taking a pinch of snuff.

'He wants imagination,' said Mr Willet, very slowly, and after a
long silence; 'that's what he wants. I've tried to instil it into
him, many and many's the time; but'--John added this in confidence-'
he an't made for it; that's the fact.'

To record that Mr Chester smiled at John's remark would be little
to the purpose, for he preserved the same conciliatory and pleasant
look at all times. He drew his chair nearer to the fire though, as
a kind of hint that he would prefer to be alone, and John, having
no reasonable excuse for remaining, left him to himself.

Very thoughtful old John Willet was, while the dinner was
preparing; and if his brain were ever less clear at one time than
another, it is but reasonable to suppose that he addled it in no
slight degree by shaking his head so much that day. That Mr
Chester, between whom and Mr Haredale, it was notorious to all the
neighbourhood, a deep and bitter animosity existed, should come
down there for the sole purpose, as it seemed, of seeing him, and
should choose the Maypole for their place of meeting, and should
send to him express, were stumbling blocks John could not overcome.
The only resource he had, was to consult the boiler, and wait
impatiently for Barnaby's return.

But Barnaby delayed beyond all precedent. The visitor's dinner was
served, removed, his wine was set, the fire replenished, the hearth
clean swept; the light waned without, it grew dusk, became quite
dark, and still no Barnaby appeared. Yet, though John Willet was
full of wonder and misgiving, his guest sat cross-legged in the
easy-chair, to all appearance as little ruffled in his thoughts as
in his dress--the same calm, easy, cool gentleman, without a care
or thought beyond his golden toothpick.

'Barnaby's late,' John ventured to observe, as he placed a pair of
tarnished candlesticks, some three feet high, upon the table, and
snuffed the lights they held.

'He is rather so,' replied the guest, sipping his wine. 'He will
not be much longer, I dare say.'

John coughed and raked the fire together.

'As your roads bear no very good character, if I may judge from my
son's mishap, though,' said Mr Chester, 'and as I have no fancy to
be knocked on the head--which is not only disconcerting at the
moment, but places one, besides, in a ridiculous position with
respect to the people who chance to pick one up--I shall stop here
to-night. I think you said you had a bed to spare.'

'Such a bed, sir,' returned John Willet; 'ay, such a bed as few,
even of the gentry's houses, own. A fixter here, sir. I've heard
say that bedstead is nigh two hundred years of age. Your noble
son--a fine young gentleman--slept in it last, sir, half a year


ago.'

'Upon my life, a recommendation!' said the guest, shrugging his
shoulders and wheeling his chair nearer to the fire. 'See that it
be well aired, Mr Willet, and let a blazing fire be lighted there
at once. This house is something damp and chilly.'

John raked the faggots up again, more from habit than presence of
mind, or any reference to this remark, and was about to withdraw,
when a bounding step was heard upon the stair, and Barnaby came
panting in.

'He'll have his foot in the stirrup in an hour's time,' he cried,
advancing. 'He has been riding hard all day--has just come home-but
will be in the saddle again as soon as he has eat and drank, to
meet his loving friend.'

'Was that his message?' asked the visitor, looking up, but without
the smallest discomposure--or at least without the show of any.

'All but the last words,' Barnaby rejoined. 'He meant those. I
saw that, in his face.'

'This for your pains,' said the other, putting money in his hand,
and glancing at him steadfastly.' This for your pains, sharp
Barnaby.'

'For Grip, and me, and Hugh, to share among us,' he rejoined,
putting it up, and nodding, as he counted it on his fingers. 'Grip
one, me two, Hugh three; the dog, the goat, the cats--well, we
shall spend it pretty soon, I warn you. Stay.--Look. Do you wise
men see nothing there, now?'

He bent eagerly down on one knee, and gazed intently at the smoke,
which was rolling up the chimney in a thick black cloud. John
Willet, who appeared to consider himself particularly and chiefly
referred to under the term wise men, looked that way likewise, and
with great solidity of feature.

'Now, where do they go to, when they spring so fast up there,'
asked Barnaby; 'eh? Why do they tread so closely on each other's
heels, and why are they always in a hurry--which is what you blame
me for, when I only take pattern by these busy folk about me? More
of 'em! catching to each other's skirts; and as fast as they go,
others come! What a merry dance it is! I would that Grip and I
could frisk like that!'

'What has he in that basket at his back?' asked the guest after a
few moments, during which Barnaby was still bending down to look
higher up the chimney, and earnestly watching the smoke.

'In this?' he answered, jumping up, before John Willet could reply-shaking
it as he spoke, and stooping his head to listen. 'In
this! What is there here? Tell him!'

'A devil, a devil, a devil!' cried a hoarse voice.

'Here's money!' said Barnaby, chinking it in his hand, 'money for a
treat, Grip!'

'Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!' replied the raven, 'keep up your
spirits. Never say die. Bow, wow, wow!'

Mr Willet, who appeared to entertain strong doubts whether a


customer in a laced coat and fine linen could be supposed to have
any acquaintance even with the existence of such unpolite gentry as
the bird claimed to belong to, took Barnaby off at this juncture,
with the view of preventing any other improper declarations, and
quitted the room with his very best bow.

Chapter 11

There was great news that night for the regular Maypole customers,
to each of whom, as he straggled in to occupy his allotted seat in
the chimney-corner, John, with a most impressive slowness of
delivery, and in an apoplectic whisper, communicated the fact that
Mr Chester was alone in the large room upstairs, and was waiting
the arrival of Mr Geoffrey Haredale, to whom he had sent a letter
(doubtless of a threatening nature) by the hands of Barnaby, then
and there present.

For a little knot of smokers and solemn gossips, who had seldom any
new topics of discussion, this was a perfect Godsend. Here was a
good, dark-looking mystery progressing under that very roof-brought
home to the fireside, as it were, and enjoyable without the
smallest pains or trouble. It is extraordinary what a zest and
relish it gave to the drink, and how it heightened the flavour of
the tobacco. Every man smoked his pipe with a face of grave and
serious delight, and looked at his neighbour with a sort of quiet
congratulation. Nay, it was felt to be such a holiday and special
night, that, on the motion of little Solomon Daisy, every man
(including John himself) put down his sixpence for a can of flip,
which grateful beverage was brewed with all despatch, and set down
in the midst of them on the brick floor; both that it might simmer
and stew before the fire, and that its fragrant steam, rising up
among them, and mixing with the wreaths of vapour from their pipes,
might shroud them in a delicious atmosphere of their own, and shut
out all the world. The very furniture of the room seemed to
mellow and deepen in its tone; the ceiling and walls looked
blacker and more highly polished, the curtains of a ruddier red;
the fire burnt clear and high, and the crickets in the hearthstone
chirped with a more than wonted satisfaction.

There were present two, however, who showed but little interest in
the general contentment. Of these, one was Barnaby himself, who
slept, or, to avoid being beset with questions, feigned to sleep,
in the chimney-corner; the other, Hugh, who, sleeping too, lay
stretched upon the bench on the opposite side, in the full glare of
the blazing fire.

The light that fell upon this slumbering form, showed it in all its
muscular and handsome proportions. It was that of a young man, of
a hale athletic figure, and a giant's strength, whose sunburnt face
and swarthy throat, overgrown with jet black hair, might have
served a painter for a model. Loosely attired, in the coarsest and
roughest garb, with scraps of straw and hay--his usual bed-clinging
here and there, and mingling with his uncombed locks, he
had fallen asleep in a posture as careless as his dress. The
negligence and disorder of the whole man, with something fierce and
sullen in his features, gave him a picturesque appearance, that
attracted the regards even of the Maypole customers who knew him
well, and caused Long Parkes to say that Hugh looked more like a
poaching rascal to-night than ever he had seen him yet.

'He's waiting here, I suppose,' said Solomon, 'to take Mr


Haredale's horse.'

'That's it, sir,' replied John Willet. 'He's not often in the
house, you know. He's more at his ease among horses than men. I
look upon him as a animal himself.'

Following up this opinion with a shrug that seemed meant to say,
'we can't expect everybody to be like us,' John put his pipe into
his mouth again, and smoked like one who felt his superiority over
the general run of mankind.

'That chap, sir,' said John, taking it out again after a time, and
pointing at him with the stem, 'though he's got all his faculties
about him--bottled up and corked down, if I may say so, somewheres
or another--'

'Very good!' said Parkes, nodding his head. 'A very good
expression, Johnny. You'll be a tackling somebody presently.
You're in twig to-night, I see.'

'Take care,' said Mr Willet, not at all grateful for the
compliment, 'that I don't tackle you, sir, which I shall certainly
endeavour to do, if you interrupt me when I'm making observations.--
That chap, I was a saying, though he has all his faculties about
him, somewheres or another, bottled up and corked down, has no more
imagination than Barnaby has. And why hasn't he?'

The three friends shook their heads at each other; saying by that
action, without the trouble of opening their lips, 'Do you observe
what a philosophical mind our friend has?'

'Why hasn't he?' said John, gently striking the table with his open
hand. 'Because they was never drawed out of him when he was a
boy. That's why. What would any of us have been, if our fathers
hadn't drawed our faculties out of us? What would my boy Joe have
been, if I hadn't drawed his faculties out of him?--Do you mind
what I'm a saying of, gentlemen?'

'Ah! we mind you,' cried Parkes. 'Go on improving of us, Johnny.'

'Consequently, then,' said Mr Willet, 'that chap, whose mother was
hung when he was a little boy, along with six others, for passing
bad notes--and it's a blessed thing to think how many people are
hung in batches every six weeks for that, and such like offences,
as showing how wide awake our government is--that chap that was
then turned loose, and had to mind cows, and frighten birds away,
and what not, for a few pence to live on, and so got on by degrees
to mind horses, and to sleep in course of time in lofts and litter,
instead of under haystacks and hedges, till at last he come to be
hostler at the Maypole for his board and lodging and a annual
trifle--that chap that can't read nor write, and has never had much
to do with anything but animals, and has never lived in any way but
like the animals he has lived among, IS a animal. And,' said Mr
Willet, arriving at his logical conclusion, 'is to be treated
accordingly.'

'Willet,' said Solomon Daisy, who had exhibited some impatience at
the intrusion of so unworthy a subject on their more interesting
theme, 'when Mr Chester come this morning, did he order the large
room?'

'He signified, sir,' said John, 'that he wanted a large apartment.
Yes. Certainly.'


'Why then, I'll tell you what,' said Solomon, speaking softly and
with an earnest look. 'He and Mr Haredale are going to fight a
duel in it.'

Everybody looked at Mr Willet, after this alarming suggestion. Mr
Willet looked at the fire, weighing in his own mind the effect
which such an occurrence would be likely to have on the establishment.

'Well,' said John, 'I don't know--I am sure--I remember that when I
went up last, he HAD put the lights upon the mantel-shelf.'

'It's as plain,' returned Solomon, 'as the nose on Parkes's face'--
Mr Parkes, who had a large nose, rubbed it, and looked as if he
considered this a personal allusion--'they'll fight in that room.
You know by the newspapers what a common thing it is for gentlemen
to fight in coffee-houses without seconds. One of 'em will be
wounded or perhaps killed in this house.'

'That was a challenge that Barnaby took then, eh?' said John.

'--Inclosing a slip of paper with the measure of his sword upon it,
I'll bet a guinea,' answered the little man. 'We know what sort of
gentleman Mr Haredale is. You have told us what Barnaby said about
his looks, when he came back. Depend upon it, I'm right. Now,
mind.'

The flip had had no flavour till now. The tobacco had been of mere
English growth, compared with its present taste. A duel in that
great old rambling room upstairs, and the best bed ordered already
for the wounded man!

'Would it be swords or pistols, now?' said John.

'Heaven knows. Perhaps both,' returned Solomon. 'The gentlemen
wear swords, and may easily have pistols in their pockets--most
likely have, indeed. If they fire at each other without effect,
then they'll draw, and go to work in earnest.'

A shade passed over Mr Willet's face as he thought of broken
windows and disabled furniture, but bethinking himself that one of
the parties would probably be left alive to pay the damage, he
brightened up again.

'And then,' said Solomon, looking from face to face, 'then we shall
have one of those stains upon the floor that never come out. If Mr
Haredale wins, depend upon it, it'll be a deep one; or if he loses,
it will perhaps be deeper still, for he'll never give in unless
he's beaten down. We know him better, eh?'

'Better indeed!' they whispered all together.

'As to its ever being got out again,' said Solomon, 'I tell you it
never will, or can be. Why, do you know that it has been tried, at
a certain house we are acquainted with?'

'The Warren!' cried John. 'No, sure!'

'Yes, sure--yes. It's only known by very few. It has been
whispered about though, for all that. They planed the board away,
but there it was. They went deep, but it went deeper. They put
new boards down, but there was one great spot that came through
still, and showed itself in the old place. And--harkye--draw
nearer--Mr Geoffrey made that room his study, and sits there,
always, with his foot (as I have heard) upon it; and he believes,


through thinking of it long and very much, that it will never fade
until he finds the man who did the deed.'

As this recital ended, and they all drew closer round the fire, the
tramp of a horse was heard without.

'The very man!' cried John, starting up. 'Hugh! Hugh!'

The sleeper staggered to his feet, and hurried after him. John
quickly returned, ushering in with great attention and deference
(for Mr Haredale was his landlord) the long-expected visitor, who
strode into the room clanking his heavy boots upon the floor; and
looking keenly round upon the bowing group, raised his hat in
acknowledgment of their profound respect.

'You have a stranger here, Willet, who sent to me,' he said, in a
voice which sounded naturally stern and deep. 'Where is he?'

'In the great room upstairs, sir,' answered John.

'Show the way. Your staircase is dark, I know. Gentlemen, good
night.'

With that, he signed to the landlord to go on before; and went
clanking out, and up the stairs; old John, in his agitation,
ingeniously lighting everything but the way, and making a stumble
at every second step.

'Stop!' he said, when they reached the landing. 'I can announce
myself. Don't wait.'

He laid his hand upon the door, entered, and shut it heavily. Mr
Willet was by no means disposed to stand there listening by
himself, especially as the walls were very thick; so descended,
with much greater alacrity than he had come up, and joined his
friends below.

Chapter 12

There was a brief pause in the state-room of the Maypole, as Mr
Haredale tried the lock to satisfy himself that he had shut the
door securely, and, striding up the dark chamber to where the
screen inclosed a little patch of light and warmth, presented
himself, abruptly and in silence, before the smiling guest.

If the two had no greater sympathy in their inward thoughts than in
their outward bearing and appearance, the meeting did not seem
likely to prove a very calm or pleasant one. With no great
disparity between them in point of years, they were, in every other
respect, as unlike and far removed from each other as two men could
well be. The one was soft-spoken, delicately made, precise, and
elegant; the other, a burly square-built man, negligently dressed,
rough and abrupt in manner, stern, and, in his present mood,
forbidding both in look and speech. The one preserved a calm and
placid smile; the other, a distrustful frown. The new-comer,
indeed, appeared bent on showing by his every tone and gesture his
determined opposition and hostility to the man he had come to meet.
The guest who received him, on the other hand, seemed to feel that
the contrast between them was all in his favour, and to derive a
quiet exultation from it which put him more at his ease than ever.


'Haredale,' said this gentleman, without the least appearance of
embarrassment or reserve, 'I am very glad to see you.'

'Let us dispense with compliments. They are misplaced between us,'
returned the other, waving his hand, 'and say plainly what we have
to say. You have asked me to meet you. I am here. Why do we
stand face to face again?'

'Still the same frank and sturdy character, I see!'

'Good or bad, sir, I am,' returned the other, leaning his arm upon
the chimney-piece, and turning a haughty look upon the occupant of
the easy-chair, 'the man I used to be. I have lost no old likings
or dislikings; my memory has not failed me by a hair's-breadth.
You ask me to give you a meeting. I say, I am here.'

'Our meeting, Haredale,' said Mr Chester, tapping his snuff-box,
and following with a smile the impatient gesture he had made-perhaps
unconsciously--towards his sword, 'is one of conference and
peace, I hope?'

'I have come here,' returned the other, 'at your desire, holding
myself bound to meet you, when and where you would. I have not
come to bandy pleasant speeches, or hollow professions. You are a
smooth man of the world, sir, and at such play have me at a
disadvantage. The very last man on this earth with whom I would
enter the lists to combat with gentle compliments and masked faces,
is Mr Chester, I do assure you. I am not his match at such
weapons, and have reason to believe that few men are.'

'You do me a great deal of honour Haredale,' returned the other,
most composedly, 'and I thank you. I will be frank with you--'

'I beg your pardon--will be what?'

'Frank--open--perfectly candid.'

'Hab!' cried Mr Haredale, drawing his breath. 'But don't let me
interrupt you.'

'So resolved am I to hold this course,' returned the other, tasting
his wine with great deliberation; 'that I have determined not to
quarrel with you, and not to be betrayed into a warm expression or
a hasty word.'

'There again,' said Mr Haredale, 'you have me at a great advantage.
Your self-command--'

'Is not to be disturbed, when it will serve my purpose, you would
say'--rejoined the other, interrupting him with the same
complacency. 'Granted. I allow it. And I have a purpose to serve
now. So have you. I am sure our object is the same. Let us
attain it like sensible men, who have ceased to be boys some time.-Do
you drink?'

'With my friends,' returned the other.

'At least,' said Mr Chester, 'you will be seated?'

'I will stand,' returned Mr Haredale impatiently, 'on this
dismantled, beggared hearth, and not pollute it, fallen as it is,
with mockeries. Go on.'

'You are wrong, Haredale,' said the other, crossing his legs, and


smiling as he held his glass up in the bright glow of the fire.
'You are really very wrong. The world is a lively place enough, in
which we must accommodate ourselves to circumstances, sail with the
stream as glibly as we can, be content to take froth for substance,
the surface for the depth, the counterfeit for the real coin. I
wonder no philosopher has ever established that our globe itself is
hollow. It should be, if Nature is consistent in her works.'

'YOU think it is, perhaps?'

'I should say,' he returned, sipping his wine, 'there could be no
doubt about it. Well; we, in trifling with this jingling toy, have
had the ill-luck to jostle and fall out. We are not what the world
calls friends; but we are as good and true and loving friends for
all that, as nine out of every ten of those on whom it bestows the
title. You have a niece, and I a son--a fine lad, Haredale, but
foolish. They fall in love with each other, and form what this
same world calls an attachment; meaning a something fanciful and
false like the rest, which, if it took its own free time, would
break like any other bubble. But it may not have its own free
time--will not, if they are left alone--and the question is, shall
we two, because society calls us enemies, stand aloof, and let them
rush into each other's arms, when, by approaching each other
sensibly, as we do now, we can prevent it, and part them?'

'I love my niece,' said Mr Haredale, after a short silence. 'It
may sound strangely in your ears; but I love her.'

'Strangely, my good fellow!' cried Mr Chester, lazily filling his
glass again, and pulling out his toothpick. 'Not at all. I like
Ned too--or, as you say, love him--that's the word among such near
relations. I'm very fond of Ned. He's an amazingly good fellow,
and a handsome fellow--foolish and weak as yet; that's all. But
the thing is, Haredale--for I'll be very frank, as I told you I
would at first--independently of any dislike that you and I might
have to being related to each other, and independently of the
religious differences between us--and damn it, that's important--I
couldn't afford a match of this description. Ned and I couldn't do
it. It's impossible.'

'Curb your tongue, in God's name, if this conversation is to last,'
retorted Mr Haredale fiercely. 'I have said I love my niece. Do
you think that, loving her, I would have her fling her heart away
on any man who had your blood in his veins?'

'You see,' said the other, not at all disturbed, 'the advantage of
being so frank and open. Just what I was about to add, upon my
honour! I am amazingly attached to Ned--quite doat upon him,
indeed--and even if we could afford to throw ourselves away, that
very objection would be quite insuperable.--I wish you'd take some
wine?'

'Mark me,' said Mr Haredale, striding to the table, and laying his
hand upon it heavily. 'If any man believes--presumes to think-that
I, in word or deed, or in the wildest dream, ever entertained
remotely the idea of Emma Haredale's favouring the suit of any one
who was akin to you--in any way--I care not what--he lies. He
lies, and does me grievous wrong, in the mere thought.'

'Haredale,' returned the other, rocking himself to and fro as in
assent, and nodding at the fire, 'it's extremely manly, and really
very generous in you, to meet me in this unreserved and handsome
way. Upon my word, those are exactly my sentiments, only
expressed with much more force and power than I could use--you know


my sluggish nature, and will forgive me, I am sure.'

'While I would restrain her from all correspondence with your son,
and sever their intercourse here, though it should cause her
death,' said Mr Haredale, who had been pacing to and fro, 'I would
do it kindly and tenderly if I can. I have a trust to discharge,
which my nature is not formed to understand, and, for this reason,
the bare fact of there being any love between them comes upon me
to-night, almost for the first time.'

'I am more delighted than I can possibly tell you,' rejoined Mr
Chester with the utmost blandness, 'to find my own impression so
confirmed. You see the advantage of our having met. We understand
each other. We quite agree. We have a most complete and thorough
explanation, and we know what course to take.--Why don't you taste
your tenant's wine? It's really very good.'

'Pray who,' said Mr Haredale, 'have aided Emma, or your son? Who
are their go-betweens, and agents--do you know?'

'All the good people hereabouts--the neighbourhood in general, I
think,' returned the other, with his most affable smile. 'The
messenger I sent to you to-day, foremost among them all.'

'The idiot? Barnaby?'

'You are surprised? I am glad of that, for I was rather so myself.
Yes. I wrung that from his mother--a very decent sort of woman-from
whom, indeed, I chiefly learnt how serious the matter had
become, and so determined to ride out here to-day, and hold a
parley with you on this neutral ground.--You're stouter than you
used to be, Haredale, but you look extremely well.'

'Our business, I presume, is nearly at an end,' said Mr Haredale,
with an expression of impatience he was at no pains to conceal.
'Trust me, Mr Chester, my niece shall change from this time. I
will appeal,' he added in a lower tone, 'to her woman's heart, her
dignity, her pride, her duty--'

'I shall do the same by Ned,' said Mr Chester, restoring some
errant faggots to their places in the grate with the toe of his
boot. 'If there is anything real in this world, it is those
amazingly fine feelings and those natural obligations which must
subsist between father and son. I shall put it to him on every
ground of moral and religious feeling. I shall represent to him
that we cannot possibly afford it--that I have always looked
forward to his marrying well, for a genteel provision for myself in
the autumn of life--that there are a great many clamorous dogs to
pay, whose claims are perfectly just and right, and who must be
paid out of his wife's fortune. In short, that the very highest
and most honourable feelings of our nature, with every
consideration of filial duty and affection, and all that sort of
thing, imperatively demand that he should run away with an
heiress.'

'And break her heart as speedily as possible?' said Mr Haredale,
drawing on his glove.

'There Ned will act exactly as he pleases,' returned the other,
sipping his wine; 'that's entirely his affair. I wouldn't for the
world interfere with my son, Haredale, beyond a certain point. The
relationship between father and son, you know, is positively quite
a holy kind of bond.--WON'T you let me persuade you to take one
glass of wine? Well! as you please, as you please,' he added,


helping himself again.

'Chester,' said Mr Haredale, after a short silence, during which he
had eyed his smiling face from time to time intently, 'you have the
head and heart of an evil spirit in all matters of deception.'

'Your health!' said the other, with a nod. 'But I have interrupted
you--'

'If now,' pursued Mr Haredale, 'we should find it difficult to
separate these young people, and break off their intercourse--if,
for instance, you find it difficult on your side, what course do
you intend to take?'

'Nothing plainer, my good fellow, nothing easier,' returned the
other, shrugging his shoulders and stretching himself more
comfortably before the fire. 'I shall then exert those powers on
which you flatter me so highly--though, upon my word, I don't
deserve your compliments to their full extent--and resort to a few
little trivial subterfuges for rousing jealousy and resentment.
You see?'

'In short, justifying the means by the end, we are, as a last
resource for tearing them asunder, to resort to treachery and--and
lying,' said Mr Haredale.

'Oh dear no. Fie, fie!' returned the other, relishing a pinch of
snuff extremely. 'Not lying. Only a little management, a little
diplomacy, a little--intriguing, that's the word.'

'I wish,' said Mr Haredale, moving to and fro, and stopping, and
moving on again, like one who was ill at ease, 'that this could
have been foreseen or prevented. But as it has gone so far, and it
is necessary for us to act, it is of no use shrinking or
regretting. Well! I shall second your endeavours to the utmost of
my power. There is one topic in the whole wide range of human
thoughts on which we both agree. We shall act in concert, but
apart. There will be no need, I hope, for us to meet again.'

'Are you going?' said Mr Chester, rising with a graceful indolence.
'Let me light you down the stairs.'

'Pray keep your seat,' returned the other drily, 'I know the way.
So, waving his hand slightly, and putting on his hat as he turned
upon his heel, he went clanking out as he had come, shut the door
behind him, and tramped down the echoing stairs.

'Pah! A very coarse animal, indeed!' said Mr Chester, composing
himself in the easy-chair again. 'A rough brute. Quite a human
badger!'

John Willet and his friends, who had been listening intently for
the clash of swords, or firing of pistols in the great room, and
had indeed settled the order in which they should rush in when
summoned--in which procession old John had carefully arranged that
he should bring up the rear--were very much astonished to see Mr
Haredale come down without a scratch, call for his horse, and ride
away thoughtfully at a footpace. After some consideration, it was
decided that he had left the gentleman above, for dead, and had
adopted this stratagem to divert suspicion or pursuit.

As this conclusion involved the necessity of their going upstairs
forthwith, they were about to ascend in the order they had agreed
upon, when a smart ringing at the guest's bell, as if he had pulled


it vigorously, overthrew all their speculations, and involved them
in great uncertainty and doubt. At length Mr Willet agreed to go
upstairs himself, escorted by Hugh and Barnaby, as the strongest
and stoutest fellows on the premises, who were to make their
appearance under pretence of clearing away the glasses.

Under this protection, the brave and broad-faced John boldly
entered the room, half a foot in advance, and received an order for
a boot-jack without trembling. But when it was brought, and he
leant his sturdy shoulder to the guest, Mr Willet was observed to
look very hard into his boots as he pulled them off, and, by
opening his eyes much wider than usual, to appear to express some
surprise and disappointment at not finding them full of blood. He
took occasion, too, to examine the gentleman as closely as he
could, expecting to discover sundry loopholes in his person,
pierced by his adversary's sword. Finding none, however, and
observing in course of time that his guest was as cool and
unruffled, both in his dress and temper, as he had been all day,
old John at last heaved a deep sigh, and began to think no duel had
been fought that night.

'And now, Willet,' said Mr Chester, 'if the room's well aired, I'll
try the merits of that famous bed.'

'The room, sir,' returned John, taking up a candle, and nudging
Barnaby and Hugh to accompany them, in case the gentleman should
unexpectedly drop down faint or dead from some internal wound, 'the
room's as warm as any toast in a tankard. Barnaby, take you that
other candle, and go on before. Hugh! Follow up, sir, with the
easy-chair.'

In this order--and still, in his earnest inspection, holding his
candle very close to the guest; now making him feel extremely warm
about the legs, now threatening to set his wig on fire, and
constantly begging his pardon with great awkwardness and
embarrassment--John led the party to the best bedroom, which was
nearly as large as the chamber from which they had come, and held,
drawn out near the fire for warmth, a great old spectral bedstead,
hung with faded brocade, and ornamented, at the top of each carved
post, with a plume of feathers that had once been white, but with
dust and age had now grown hearse-like and funereal.

'Good night, my friends,' said Mr Chester with a sweet smile,
seating himself, when he had surveyed the room from end to end, in
the easy-chair which his attendants wheeled before the fire. 'Good
night! Barnaby, my good fellow, you say some prayers before you go
to bed, I hope?'

Barnaby nodded. 'He has some nonsense that he calls his prayers,
sir,' returned old John, officiously. 'I'm afraid there an't much
good in em.'

'And Hugh?' said Mr Chester, turning to him.

'Not I,' he answered. 'I know his'--pointing to Barnaby--'they're
well enough. He sings 'em sometimes in the straw. I listen.'

'He's quite a animal, sir,' John whispered in his ear with dignity.
'You'll excuse him, I'm sure. If he has any soul at all, sir, it
must be such a very small one, that it don't signify what he does
or doesn't in that way. Good night, sir!'

The guest rejoined 'God bless you!' with a fervour that was quite
affecting; and John, beckoning his guards to go before, bowed


himself out of the room, and left him to his rest in the Maypole's
ancient bed.

Chapter 13

If Joseph Willet, the denounced and proscribed of 'prentices, had
happened to be at home when his father's courtly guest presented
himself before the Maypole door--that is, if it had not perversely
chanced to be one of the half-dozen days in the whole year on which
he was at liberty to absent himself for as many hours without
question or reproach--he would have contrived, by hook or crook, to
dive to the very bottom of Mr Chester's mystery, and to come at his
purpose with as much certainty as though he had been his
confidential adviser. In that fortunate case, the lovers would
have had quick warning of the ills that threatened them, and the
aid of various timely and wise suggestions to boot; for all Joe's
readiness of thought and action, and all his sympathies and good
wishes, were enlisted in favour of the young people, and were
staunch in devotion to their cause. Whether this disposition arose
out of his old prepossessions in favour of the young lady, whose
history had surrounded her in his mind, almost from his cradle,
with circumstances of unusual interest; or from his attachment
towards the young gentleman, into whose confidence he had, through
his shrewdness and alacrity, and the rendering of sundry important
services as a spy and messenger, almost imperceptibly glided;
whether they had their origin in either of these sources, or in the
habit natural to youth, or in the constant badgering and worrying
of his venerable parent, or in any hidden little love affair of his
own which gave him something of a fellow-feeling in the matter, it
is needless to inquire--especially as Joe was out of the way, and
had no opportunity on that particular occasion of testifying to his
sentiments either on one side or the other.

It was, in fact, the twenty-fifth of March, which, as most people
know to their cost, is, and has been time out of mind, one of those
unpleasant epochs termed quarter-days. On this twenty-fifth of
March, it was John Willet's pride annually to settle, in hard cash,
his account with a certain vintner and distiller in the city of
London; to give into whose hands a canvas bag containing its exact
amount, and not a penny more or less, was the end and object of a
journey for Joe, so surely as the year and day came round.

This journey was performed upon an old grey mare, concerning whom
John had an indistinct set of ideas hovering about him, to the
effect that she could win a plate or cup if she tried. She never
had tried, and probably never would now, being some fourteen or
fifteen years of age, short in wind, long in body, and rather the
worse for wear in respect of her mane and tail. Notwithstanding
these slight defects, John perfectly gloried in the animal; and
when she was brought round to the door by Hugh, actually retired
into the bar, and there, in a secret grove of lemons, laughed with
pride.

'There's a bit of horseflesh, Hugh!' said John, when he had
recovered enough self-command to appear at the door again.
'There's a comely creature! There's high mettle! There's bone!'

There was bone enough beyond all doubt; and so Hugh seemed to
think, as he sat sideways in the saddle, lazily doubled up with his
chin nearly touching his knees; and heedless of the dangling
stirrups and loose bridle-rein, sauntered up and down on the little


green before the door.

'Mind you take good care of her, sir,' said John, appealing from
this insensible person to his son and heir, who now appeared, fully
equipped and ready. 'Don't you ride hard.'

'I should be puzzled to do that, I think, father,' Joe replied,
casting a disconsolate look at the animal.

'None of your impudence, sir, if you please,' retorted old John.
'What would you ride, sir? A wild ass or zebra would be too tame
for you, wouldn't he, eh sir? You'd like to ride a roaring lion,
wouldn't you, sir, eh sir? Hold your tongue, sir.' When Mr
Willet, in his differences with his son, had exhausted all the
questions that occurred to him, and Joe had said nothing at all in
answer, he generally wound up by bidding him hold his tongue.

'And what does the boy mean,' added Mr Willet, after he had stared
at him for a little time, in a species of stupefaction, 'by cocking
his hat, to such an extent! Are you going to kill the wintner, sir?'

'No,' said Joe, tartly; 'I'm not. Now your mind's at ease,
father.'

'With a milintary air, too!' said Mr Willet, surveying him from top
to toe; 'with a swaggering, fire-eating, biling-water drinking
sort of way with him! And what do you mean by pulling up the
crocuses and snowdrops, eh sir?'

'It's only a little nosegay,' said Joe, reddening. 'There's no
harm in that, I hope?'

'You're a boy of business, you are, sir!' said Mr Willet,
disdainfully, 'to go supposing that wintners care for nosegays.'

'I don't suppose anything of the kind,' returned Joe. 'Let them
keep their red noses for bottles and tankards. These are going to
Mr Varden's house.'

'And do you suppose HE minds such things as crocuses?' demanded
John.

'I don't know, and to say the truth, I don't care,' said Joe.
'Come, father, give me the money, and in the name of patience let
me go.'

'There it is, sir,' replied John; 'and take care of it; and mind
you don't make too much haste back, but give the mare a long rest.-Do
you mind?'

'Ay, I mind,' returned Joe. 'She'll need it, Heaven knows.'

'And don't you score up too much at the Black Lion,' said John.
'Mind that too.'

'Then why don't you let me have some money of my own?' retorted
Joe, sorrowfully; 'why don't you, father? What do you send me into
London for, giving me only the right to call for my dinner at the
Black Lion, which you're to pay for next time you go, as if I was
not to be trusted with a few shillings? Why do you use me like
this? It's not right of you. You can't expect me to be quiet
under it.'

'Let him have money!' cried John, in a drowsy reverie. 'What does


he call money--guineas? Hasn't he got money? Over and above the
tolls, hasn't he one and sixpence?'

'One and sixpence!' repeated his son contemptuously.

'Yes, sir,' returned John, 'one and sixpence. When I was your age,
I had never seen so much money, in a heap. A shilling of it is in
case of accidents--the mare casting a shoe, or the like of that.
The other sixpence is to spend in the diversions of London; and the
diversion I recommend is going to the top of the Monument, and
sitting there. There's no temptation there, sir--no drink--no
young women--no bad characters of any sort--nothing but imagination.
That's the way I enjoyed myself when I was your age, sir.'

To this, Joe made no answer, but beckoning Hugh, leaped into the
saddle and rode away; and a very stalwart, manly horseman he
looked, deserving a better charger than it was his fortune to
bestride. John stood staring after him, or rather after the grey
mare (for he had no eyes for her rider), until man and beast had
been out of sight some twenty minutes, when he began to think they
were gone, and slowly re-entering the house, fell into a gentle doze.

The unfortunate grey mare, who was the agony of Joe's life,
floundered along at her own will and pleasure until the Maypole was
no longer visible, and then, contracting her legs into what in a
puppet would have been looked upon as a clumsy and awkward
imitation of a canter, mended her pace all at once, and did it of
her own accord. The acquaintance with her rider's usual mode of
proceeding, which suggested this improvement in hers, impelled her
likewise to turn up a bye-way, leading--not to London, but through
lanes running parallel with the road they had come, and passing
within a few hundred yards of the Maypole, which led finally to an
inclosure surrounding a large, old, red-brick mansion--the same of
which mention was made as the Warren in the first chapter of this
history. Coming to a dead stop in a little copse thereabout, she
suffered her rider to dismount with right goodwill, and to tie her
to the trunk of a tree.

'Stay there, old girl,' said Joe, 'and let us see whether there's
any little commission for me to-day.' So saying, he left her to
browze upon such stunted grass and weeds as happened to grow within
the length of her tether, and passing through a wicket gate,
entered the grounds on foot.

The pathway, after a very few minutes' walking, brought him close
to the house, towards which, and especially towards one particular
window, he directed many covert glances. It was a dreary, silent
building, with echoing courtyards, desolated turret-chambers, and
whole suites of rooms shut up and mouldering to ruin.

The terrace-garden, dark with the shade of overhanging trees, had
an air of melancholy that was quite oppressive. Great iron gates,
disused for many years, and red with rust, drooping on their hinges
and overgrown with long rank grass, seemed as though they tried to
sink into the ground, and hide their fallen state among the
friendly weeds. The fantastic monsters on the walls, green with
age and damp, and covered here and there with moss, looked grim and
desolate. There was a sombre aspect even on that part of the
mansion which was inhabited and kept in good repair, that struck
the beholder with a sense of sadness; of something forlorn and
failing, whence cheerfulness was banished. It would have been
difficult to imagine a bright fire blazing in the dull and darkened
rooms, or to picture any gaiety of heart or revelry that the
frowning walls shut in. It seemed a place where such things had


been, but could be no more--the very ghost of a house, haunting the
old spot in its old outward form, and that was all.

Much of this decayed and sombre look was attributable, no doubt, to
the death of its former master, and the temper of its present
occupant; but remembering the tale connected with the mansion, it
seemed the very place for such a deed, and one that might have been
its predestined theatre years upon years ago. Viewed with
reference to this legend, the sheet of water where the steward's
body had been found appeared to wear a black and sullen character,
such as no other pool might own; the bell upon the roof that had
told the tale of murder to the midnight wind, became a very phantom
whose voice would raise the listener's hair on end; and every
leafless bough that nodded to another, had its stealthy whispering
of the crime.

Joe paced up and down the path, sometimes stopping in affected
contemplation of the building or the prospect, sometimes leaning
against a tree with an assumed air of idleness and indifference,
but always keeping an eye upon the window he had singled out at
first. After some quarter of an hour's delay, a small white hand
was waved to him for an instant from this casement, and the young
man, with a respectful bow, departed; saying under his breath as he
crossed his horse again, 'No errand for me to-day!'

But the air of smartness, the cock of the hat to which John Willet
had objected, and the spring nosegay, all betokened some little
errand of his own, having a more interesting object than a vintner
or even a locksmith. So, indeed, it turned out; for when he had
settled with the vintner--whose place of business was down in some
deep cellars hard by Thames Street, and who was as purple-faced an
old gentleman as if he had all his life supported their arched roof
on his head--when he had settled the account, and taken the
receipt, and declined tasting more than three glasses of old
sherry, to the unbounded astonishment of the purple-faced vintner,
who, gimlet in hand, had projected an attack upon at least a score
of dusty casks, and who stood transfixed, or morally gimleted as it
were, to his own wall--when he had done all this, and disposed
besides of a frugal dinner at the Black Lion in Whitechapel;
spurning the Monument and John's advice, he turned his steps
towards the locksmith's house, attracted by the eyes of blooming
Dolly Varden.

Joe was by no means a sheepish fellow, but, for all that, when he
got to the corner of the street in which the locksmith lived, he
could by no means make up his mind to walk straight to the house.
First, he resolved to stroll up another street for five minutes,
then up another street for five minutes more, and so on until he
had lost full half an hour, when he made a bold plunge and found
himself with a red face and a beating heart in the smoky workshop.

'Joe Willet, or his ghost?' said Varden, rising from the desk at
which he was busy with his books, and looking at him under his
spectacles. 'Which is it? Joe in the flesh, eh? That's hearty.
And how are all the Chigwell company, Joe?'

'Much as usual, sir--they and I agree as well as ever.'

'Well, well!' said the locksmith. 'We must be patient, Joe, and
bear with old folks' foibles. How's the mare, Joe? Does she do
the four miles an hour as easily as ever? Ha, ha, ha! Does she,
Joe? Eh!--What have we there, Joe--a nosegay!'

'A very poor one, sir--I thought Miss Dolly--'


'No, no,' said Gabriel, dropping his voice, and shaking his head,
'not Dolly. Give 'em to her mother, Joe. A great deal better give
'em to her mother. Would you mind giving 'em to Mrs Varden, Joe?'

'Oh no, sir,' Joe replied, and endeavouring, but not with the
greatest possible success, to hide his disappointment. 'I shall be
very glad, I'm sure.'

'That's right,' said the locksmith, patting him on the back. 'It
don't matter who has 'em, Joe?'

'Not a bit, sir.'--Dear heart, how the words stuck in his throat!

'Come in,' said Gabriel. 'I have just been called to tea. She's
in the parlour.'

'She,' thought Joe. 'Which of 'em I wonder--Mrs or Miss?' The
locksmith settled the doubt as neatly as if it had been expressed
aloud, by leading him to the door, and saying, 'Martha, my dear,
here's young Mr Willet.'

Now, Mrs Varden, regarding the Maypole as a sort of human mantrap,
or decoy for husbands; viewing its proprietor, and all who aided
and abetted him, in the light of so many poachers among Christian
men; and believing, moreover, that the publicans coupled with
sinners in Holy Writ were veritable licensed victuallers; was far
from being favourably disposed towards her visitor. Wherefore she
was taken faint directly; and being duly presented with the
crocuses and snowdrops, divined on further consideration that they
were the occasion of the languor which had seized upon her spirits.
'I'm afraid I couldn't bear the room another minute,' said the good
lady, 'if they remained here. WOULD you excuse my putting them out
of window?'

Joe begged she wouldn't mention it on any account, and smiled
feebly as he saw them deposited on the sill outside. If anybody
could have known the pains he had taken to make up that despised
and misused bunch of flowers!-


'I feel it quite a relief to get rid of them, I assure you,' said
Mrs Varden. 'I'm better already.' And indeed she did appear to
have plucked up her spirits.

Joe expressed his gratitude to Providence for this favourable
dispensation, and tried to look as if he didn't wonder where
Dolly was.

'You're sad people at Chigwell, Mr Joseph,' said Mrs V.

'I hope not, ma'am,' returned Joe.

'You're the cruellest and most inconsiderate people in the world,'
said Mrs Varden, bridling. 'I wonder old Mr Willet, having been a
married man himself, doesn't know better than to conduct himself as
he does. His doing it for profit is no excuse. I would rather
pay the money twenty times over, and have Varden come home like a
respectable and sober tradesman. If there is one character,' said
Mrs Varden with great emphasis, 'that offends and disgusts me more
than another, it is a sot.'

'Come, Martha, my dear,' said the locksmith cheerily, 'let us have
tea, and don't let us talk about sots. There are none here, and
Joe don't want to hear about them, I dare say.'


At this crisis, Miggs appeared with toast.

'I dare say he does not,' said Mrs Varden; 'and I dare say you do
not, Varden. It's a very unpleasant subiect, I have no doubt,
though I won't say it's personal'--Miggs coughed--'whatever I may
be forced to think'--Miggs sneezed expressively. 'You never will
know, Varden, and nobody at young Mr Willet's age--you'll excuse
me, sir--can be expected to know, what a woman suffers when she is
waiting at home under such circumstances. If you don't believe me,
as I know you don't, here's Miggs, who is only too often a witness
of it--ask her.'

'Oh! she were very bad the other night, sir, indeed she were, said
Miggs. 'If you hadn't the sweetness of an angel in you, mim, I
don't think you could abear it, I raly don't.'

'Miggs,' said Mrs Varden, 'you're profane.'

'Begging your pardon, mim,' returned Miggs, with shrill rapidity,
'such was not my intentions, and such I hope is not my character,
though I am but a servant.'

'Answering me, Miggs, and providing yourself,' retorted her
mistress, looking round with dignity, 'is one and the same thing.
How dare you speak of angels in connection with your sinful
fellow-beings--mere'--said Mrs Varden, glancing at herself in a
neighbouring mirror, and arranging the ribbon of her cap in a more
becoming fashion--'mere worms and grovellers as we are!'

'I did not intend, mim, if you please, to give offence,' said
Miggs, confident in the strength of her compliment, and developing
strongly in the throat as usual, 'and I did not expect it would be
took as such. I hope I know my own unworthiness, and that I hate
and despise myself and all my fellow-creatures as every practicable
Christian should.'

'You'll have the goodness, if you please,' said Mrs Varden,
loftily, 'to step upstairs and see if Dolly has finished dressing,
and to tell her that the chair that was ordered for her will be
here in a minute, and that if she keeps it waiting, I shall send it
away that instant.--I'm sorry to see that you don't take your tea,
Varden, and that you don't take yours, Mr Joseph; though of course
it would be foolish of me to expect that anything that can be had
at home, and in the company of females, would please YOU.'

This pronoun was understood in the plural sense, and included both
gentlemen, upon both of whom it was rather hard and undeserved,
for Gabriel had applied himself to the meal with a very promising
appetite, until it was spoilt by Mrs Varden herself, and Joe had as
great a liking for the female society of the locksmith's house--or
for a part of it at all events--as man could well entertain.

But he had no opportunity to say anything in his own defence, for
at that moment Dolly herself appeared, and struck him quite dumb
with her beauty. Never had Dolly looked so handsome as she did
then, in all the glow and grace of youth, with all her charms
increased a hundredfold by a most becoming dress, by a thousand
little coquettish ways which nobody could assume with a better
grace, and all the sparkling expectation of that accursed party.
It is impossible to tell how Joe hated that party wherever it was,
and all the other people who were going to it, whoever they were.

And she hardly looked at him--no, hardly looked at him. And when


the chair was seen through the open door coming blundering into the
workshop, she actually clapped her hands and seemed glad to go.
But Joe gave her his arm--there was some comfort in that--and
handed her into it. To see her seat herself inside, with her
laughing eyes brighter than diamonds, and her hand--surely she had
the prettiest hand in the world--on the ledge of the open window,
and her little finger provokingly and pertly tilted up, as if it
wondered why Joe didn't squeeze or kiss it! To think how well one
or two of the modest snowdrops would have become that delicate
bodice, and how they were lying neglected outside the parlour
window! To see how Miggs looked on with a face expressive of
knowing how all this loveliness was got up, and of being in the
secret of every string and pin and hook and eye, and of saying it
ain't half as real as you think, and I could look quite as well
myself if I took the pains! To hear that provoking precious little
scream when the chair was hoisted on its poles, and to catch that
transient but not-to-be-forgotten vision of the happy face within-what
torments and aggravations, and yet what delights were these!
The very chairmen seemed favoured rivals as they bore her down the
street.

There never was such an alteration in a small room in a small time
as in that parlour when they went back to finish tea. So dark, so
deserted, so perfectly disenchanted. It seemed such sheer nonsense
to be sitting tamely there, when she was at a dance with more
lovers than man could calculate fluttering about her--with the
whole party doting on and adoring her, and wanting to marry her.
Miggs was hovering about too; and the fact of her existence, the
mere circumstance of her ever having been born, appeared, after
Dolly, such an unaccountable practical joke. It was impossible to
talk. It couldn't be done. He had nothing left for it but to stir
his tea round, and round, and round, and ruminate on all the
fascinations of the locksmith's lovely daughter.

Gabriel was dull too. It was a part of the certain uncertainty of
Mrs Varden's temper, that when they were in this condition, she
should be gay and sprightly.

'I need have a cheerful disposition, I am sure,' said the smiling
housewife, 'to preserve any spirits at all; and how I do it I can
scarcely tell.'

'Ah, mim,' sighed Miggs, 'begging your pardon for the interruption,
there an't a many like you.'

'Take away, Miggs,' said Mrs Varden, rising, 'take away, pray. I
know I'm a restraint here, and as I wish everybody to enjoy
themselves as they best can, I feel I had better go.'

'No, no, Martha,' cried the locksmith. 'Stop here. I'm sure we
shall be very sorry to lose you, eh Joe!' Joe started, and said
'Certainly.'

'Thank you, Varden, my dear,' returned his wife; 'but I know your
wishes better. Tobacco and beer, or spirits, have much greater
attractions than any I can boast of, and therefore I shall go and
sit upstairs and look out of window, my love. Good night, Mr
Joseph. I'm very glad to have seen you, and I only wish I could
have provided something more suitable to your taste. Remember me
very kindly if you please to old Mr Willet, and tell him that
whenever he comes here I have a crow to pluck with him. Good
night!'

Having uttered these words with great sweetness of manner, the good


lady dropped a curtsey remarkable for its condescension, and
serenely withdrew.

And it was for this Joe had looked forward to the twenty-fifth of
March for weeks and weeks, and had gathered the flowers with so
much care, and had cocked his hat, and made himself so smart! This
was the end of all his bold determination, resolved upon for the
hundredth time, to speak out to Dolly and tell her how he loved
her! To see her for a minute--for but a minute--to find her going
out to a party and glad to go; to be looked upon as a common pipesmoker,
beer-bibber, spirit-guzzler, and tosspot! He bade
farewell to his friend the locksmith, and hastened to take horse at
the Black Lion, thinking as he turned towards home, as many another
Joe has thought before and since, that here was an end to all his
hopes--that the thing was impossible and never could be--that she
didn't care for him--that he was wretched for life--and that the
only congenial prospect left him, was to go for a soldier or a
sailor, and get some obliging enemy to knock his brains out as
soon as possible.

Chapter 14

Joe Willet rode leisurely along in his desponding mood, picturing
the locksmith's daughter going down long country-dances, and
poussetting dreadfully with bold strangers--which was almost too
much to bear--when he heard the tramp of a horse's feet behind him,
and looking back, saw a well-mounted gentleman advancing at a
smart canter. As this rider passed, he checked his steed, and
called him of the Maypole by his name. Joe set spurs to the grey
mare, and was at his side directly.

'I thought it was you, sir,' he said, touching his hat. 'A fair
evening, sir. Glad to see you out of doors again.'

The gentleman smiled and nodded. 'What gay doings have been going
on to-day, Joe? Is she as pretty as ever? Nay, don't blush, man.'

'If I coloured at all, Mr Edward,' said Joe, 'which I didn't know I
did, it was to think I should have been such a fool as ever to have
any hope of her. She's as far out of my reach as--as Heaven is.'

'Well, Joe, I hope that's not altogether beyond it,' said Edward,
good-humouredly. 'Eh?'

'Ah!' sighed Joe. 'It's all very fine talking, sir. Proverbs are
easily made in cold blood. But it can't be helped. Are you bound
for our house, sir?'

'Yes. As I am not quite strong yet, I shall stay there to-night,
and ride home coolly in the morning.'

'If you're in no particular hurry,' said Joe after a short silence,
'and will bear with the pace of this poor jade, I shall be glad to
ride on with you to the Warren, sir, and hold your horse when you
dismount. It'll save you having to walk from the Maypole, there
and back again. I can spare the time well, sir, for I am too soon.'

'And so am I,' returned Edward, 'though I was unconsciously riding
fast just now, in compliment I suppose to the pace of my thoughts,
which were travelling post. We will keep together, Joe, willingly,
and be as good company as may be. And cheer up, cheer up, think of


the locksmith's daughter with a stout heart, and you shall win her
yet.'

Joe shook his head; but there was something so cheery in the
buoyant hopeful manner of this speech, that his spirits rose under
its influence, and communicated as it would seem some new impulse
even to the grey mare, who, breaking from her sober amble into a
gentle trot, emulated the pace of Edward Chester's horse, and
appeared to flatter herself that he was doing his very best.

It was a fine dry night, and the light of a young moon, which was
then just rising, shed around that peace and tranquillity which
gives to evening time its most delicious charm. The lengthened
shadows of the trees, softened as if reflected in still water,
threw their carpet on the path the travellers pursued, and the
light wind stirred yet more softly than before, as though it were
soothing Nature in her sleep. By little and little they ceased
talking, and rode on side by side in a pleasant silence.

'The Maypole lights are brilliant to-night,' said Edward, as they
rode along the lane from which, while the intervening trees were
bare of leaves, that hostelry was visible.

'Brilliant indeed, sir,' returned Joe, rising in his stirrups to
get a better view. 'Lights in the large room, and a fire
glimmering in the best bedchamber? Why, what company can this be
for, I wonder!'

'Some benighted horseman wending towards London, and deterred from
going on to-night by the marvellous tales of my friend the
highwayman, I suppose,' said Edward.

'He must be a horseman of good quality to have such accommodations.
Your bed too, sir--!'

'No matter, Joe. Any other room will do for me. But come--there's
nine striking. We may push on.'

They cantered forward at as brisk a pace as Joe's charger could
attain, and presently stopped in the little copse where he had left
her in the morning. Edward dismounted, gave his bridle to his
companion, and walked with a light step towards the house.

A female servant was waiting at a side gate in the garden-wall, and
admitted him without delay. He hurried along the terrace-walk, and
darted up a flight of broad steps leading into an old and gloomy
hall, whose walls were ornamented with rusty suits of armour,
antlers, weapons of the chase, and suchlike garniture. Here he
paused, but not long; for as he looked round, as if expecting the
attendant to have followed, and wondering she had not done so, a
lovely girl appeared, whose dark hair next moment rested on his
breast. Almost at the same instant a heavy hand was laid upon her
arm, Edward felt himself thrust away, and Mr Haredale stood between
them.

He regarded the young man sternly without removing his hat; with
one hand clasped his niece, and with the other, in which he held
his riding-whip, motioned him towards the door. The young man drew
himself up, and returned his gaze.

'This is well done of you, sir, to corrupt my servants, and enter
my house unbidden and in secret, like a thief!' said Mr Haredale.
'Leave it, sir, and return no more.'


'Miss Haredale's presence,' returned the young man, 'and your
relationship to her, give you a licence which, if you are a brave
man, you will not abuse. You have compelled me to this course,
and the fault is yours--not mine.'

'It is neither generous, nor honourable, nor the act of a true
man, sir,' retorted the other, 'to tamper with the affections of a
weak, trusting girl, while you shrink, in your unworthiness, from
her guardian and protector, and dare not meet the light of day.
More than this I will not say to you, save that I forbid you this
house, and require you to be gone.'

'It is neither generous, nor honourable, nor the act of a true man
to play the spy,' said Edward. 'Your words imply dishonour, and I
reject them with the scorn they merit.'

'You will find,' said Mr Haredale, calmly, 'your trusty go-between
in waiting at the gate by which you entered. I have played no
spy's part, sir. I chanced to see you pass the gate, and
followed. You might have heard me knocking for admission, had you
been less swift of foot, or lingered in the garden. Please to
withdraw. Your presence here is offensive to me and distressful to
my niece.' As he said these words, he passed his arm about the
waist of the terrified and weeping girl, and drew her closer to
him; and though the habitual severity of his manner was scarcely
changed, there was yet apparent in the action an air of kindness
and sympathy for her distress.

'Mr Haredale,' said Edward, 'your arm encircles her on whom I have
set my every hope and thought, and to purchase one minute's
happiness for whom I would gladly lay down my life; this house is
the casket that holds the precious jewel of my existence. Your
niece has plighted her faith to me, and I have plighted mine to
her. What have I done that you should hold me in this light
esteem, and give me these discourteous words?'

'You have done that, sir,' answered Mr Haredale, 'which must he
undone. You have tied a lover'-knot here which must be cut
asunder. Take good heed of what I say. Must. I cancel the bond
between ye. I reject you, and all of your kith and kin--all the
false, hollow, heartless stock.'

'High words, sir,' said Edward, scornfully.

'Words of purpose and meaning, as you will find,' replied the
other. 'Lay them to heart.'

'Lay you then, these,' said Edward. 'Your cold and sullen temper,
which chills every breast about you, which turns affection into
fear, and changes duty into dread, has forced us on this secret
course, repugnant to our nature and our wish, and far more foreign,
sir, to us than you. I am not a false, a hollow, or a heartless
man; the character is yours, who poorly venture on these injurious
terms, against the truth, and under the shelter whereof I reminded
you just now. You shall not cancel the bond between us. I will
not abandon this pursuit. I rely upon your niece's truth and
honour, and set your influence at nought. I leave her with a
confidence in her pure faith, which you will never weaken, and with
no concern but that I do not leave her in some gentler care.'

With that, he pressed her cold hand to his lips, and once more
encountering and returning Mr Haredale's steady look, withdrew.

A few words to Joe as he mounted his horse sufficiently explained


what had passed, and renewed all that young gentleman's despondency
with tenfold aggravation. They rode back to the Maypole without
exchanging a syllable, and arrived at the door with heavy hearts.

Old John, who had peeped from behind the red curtain as they rode
up shouting for Hugh, was out directly, and said with great
importance as he held the young man's stirrup,

'He's comfortable in bed--the best bed. A thorough gentleman; the
smilingest, affablest gentleman I ever had to do with.'

'Who, Willet?' said Edward carelessly, as he dismounted.

'Your worthy father, sir,' replied John. 'Your honourable,
venerable father.'

'What does he mean?' said Edward, looking with a mixture of alarm
and doubt, at Joe.

'What DO you mean?' said Joe. 'Don't you see Mr Edward doesn't
understand, father?'

'Why, didn't you know of it, sir?' said John, opening his eyes
wide. 'How very singular! Bless you, he's been here ever since
noon to-day, and Mr Haredale has been having a long talk with him,
and hasn't been gone an hour.'

'My father, Willet!'

'Yes, sir, he told me so--a handsome, slim, upright gentleman, in
green-and-gold. In your old room up yonder, sir. No doubt you
can go in, sir,' said John, walking backwards into the road and
looking up at the window. 'He hasn't put out his candles yet, I
see.'

Edward glanced at the window also, and hastily murmuring that he
had changed his mind--forgotten something--and must return to
London, mounted his horse again and rode away; leaving the Willets,
father and son, looking at each other in mute astonishment.

Chapter 15

At noon next day, John Willet's guest sat lingering over his
breakfast in his own home, surrounded by a variety of comforts,
which left the Maypole's highest flight and utmost stretch of
accommodation at an infinite distance behind, and suggested
comparisons very much to the disadvantage and disfavour of that
venerable tavern.

In the broad old-fashioned window-seat--as capacious as many modern
sofas, and cushioned to serve the purpose of a luxurious settee--in
the broad old-fashioned window-seat of a roomy chamber, Mr Chester
lounged, very much at his ease, over a well-furnished breakfasttable.
He had exchanged his riding-coat for a handsome morninggown,
his boots for slippers; had been at great pains to atone for
the having been obliged to make his toilet when he rose without the
aid of dressing-case and tiring equipage; and, having gradually
forgotten through these means the discomforts of an indifferent
night and an early ride, was in a state of perfect complacency,
indolence, and satisfaction.


The situation in which he found himself, indeed, was particularly
favourable to the growth of these feelings; for, not to mention the
lazy influence of a late and lonely breakfast, with the additional
sedative of a newspaper, there was an air of repose about his place
of residence peculiar to itself, and which hangs about it, even in
these times, when it is more bustling and busy than it was in days
of yore.

There are, still, worse places than the Temple, on a sultry day,
for basking in the sun, or resting idly in the shade. There is yet
a drowsiness in its courts, and a dreamy dulness in its trees and
gardens; those who pace its lanes and squares may yet hear the
echoes of their footsteps on the sounding stones, and read upon its
gates, in passing from the tumult of the Strand or Fleet Street,
'Who enters here leaves noise behind.' There is still the plash of
falling water in fair Fountain Court, and there are yet nooks and
corners where dun-haunted students may look down from their dusty
garrets, on a vagrant ray of sunlight patching the shade of the
tall houses, and seldom troubled to reflect a passing stranger's
form. There is yet, in the Temple, something of a clerkly monkish
atmosphere, which public offices of law have not disturbed, and
even legal firms have failed to scare away. In summer time, its
pumps suggest to thirsty idlers, springs cooler, and more
sparkling, and deeper than other wells; and as they trace the
spillings of full pitchers on the heated ground, they snuff the
freshness, and, sighing, cast sad looks towards the Thames, and
think of baths and boats, and saunter on, despondent.

It was in a room in Paper Buildings--a row of goodly tenements,
shaded in front by ancient trees, and looking, at the back, upon
the Temple Gardens--that this, our idler, lounged; now taking up
again the paper he had laid down a hundred times; now trifling with
the fragments of his meal; now pulling forth his golden toothpick,
and glancing leisurely about the room, or out at window into the
trim garden walks, where a few early loiterers were already pacing
to and fro. Here a pair of lovers met to quarrel and make up;
there a dark-eyed nursery-maid had better eyes for Templars than
her charge; on this hand an ancient spinster, with her lapdog in a
string, regarded both enormities with scornful sidelong looks; on
that a weazen old gentleman, ogling the nursery-maid, looked with
like scorn upon the spinster, and wondered she didn't know she was
no longer young. Apart from all these, on the river's margin two
or three couple of business-talkers walked slowly up and down in
earnest conversation; and one young man sat thoughtfully on a
bench, alone.

'Ned is amazingly patient!' said Mr Chester, glancing at this lastnamed
person as he set down his teacup and plied the golden
toothpick, 'immensely patient! He was sitting yonder when I began
to dress, and has scarcely changed his posture since. A most
eccentric dog!'

As he spoke, the figure rose, and came towards him with a rapid
pace.

'Really, as if he had heard me,' said the father, resuming his
newspaper with a yawn. 'Dear Ned!'

Presently the room-door opened, and the young man entered; to whom
his father gently waved his hand, and smiled.

'Are you at leisure for a little conversation, sir?' said Edward.

'Surely, Ned. I am always at leisure. You know my constitution.-



Have you breakfasted?'

'Three hours ago.'

'What a very early dog!' cried his father, contemplating him from
behind the toothpick, with a languid smile.

'The truth is,' said Edward, bringing a chair forward, and seating
himself near the table, 'that I slept but ill last night, and was
glad to rise. The cause of my uneasiness cannot but be known to
you, sir; and it is upon that I wish to speak.'

'My dear boy,' returned his father, 'confide in me, I beg. But you
know my constitution--don't be prosy, Ned.'

'I will be plain, and brief,' said Edward.

'Don't say you will, my good fellow,' returned his father, crossing
his legs, 'or you certainly will not. You are going to tell me'-


'Plainly this, then,' said the son, with an air of great concern,
'that I know where you were last night--from being on the spot,
indeed--and whom you saw, and what your purpose was.'

'You don't say so!' cried his father. 'I am delighted to hear it.
It saves us the worry, and terrible wear and tear of a long
explanation, and is a great relief for both. At the very house!
Why didn't you come up? I should have been charmed to see you.'

'I knew that what I had to say would be better said after a night's
reflection, when both of us were cool,' returned the son.

''Fore Gad, Ned,' rejoined the father, 'I was cool enough last
night. That detestable Maypole! By some infernal contrivance of
the builder, it holds the wind, and keeps it fresh. You remember
the sharp east wind that blew so hard five weeks ago? I give you
my honour it was rampant in that old house last night, though out
of doors there was a dead calm. But you were saying'-


'I was about to say, Heaven knows how seriously and earnestly, that
you have made me wretched, sir. Will you hear me gravely for a
moment?'

'My dear Ned,' said his father, 'I will hear you with the patience
of an anchorite. Oblige me with the milk.'

'I saw Miss Haredale last night,' Edward resumed, when he had
complied with this request; 'her uncle, in her presence,
immediately after your interview, and, as of course I know, in
consequence of it, forbade me the house, and, with circumstances of
indignity which are of your creation I am sure, commanded me to
leave it on the instant.'

'For his manner of doing so, I give you my honour, Ned, I am not
accountable,' said his father. 'That you must excuse. He is a
mere boor, a log, a brute, with no address in life.--Positively a
fly in the jug. The first I have seen this year.'

Edward rose, and paced the room. His imperturbable parent sipped
his tea.

'Father,' said the young man, stopping at length before him, 'we
must not trifle in this matter. We must not deceive each other, or
ourselves. Let me pursue the manly open part I wish to take, and


do not repel me by this unkind indifference.'

'Whether I am indifferent or no,' returned the other, 'I leave you,
my dear boy, to judge. A ride of twenty-five or thirty miles,
through miry roads--a Maypole dinner--a tete-a-tete with Haredale,
which, vanity apart, was quite a Valentine and Orson business--a
Maypole bed--a Maypole landlord, and a Maypole retinue of idiots
and centaurs;--whether the voluntary endurance of these things
looks like indifference, dear Ned, or like the excessive anxiety,
and devotion, and all that sort of thing, of a parent, you shall
determine for yourself.'

'I wish you to consider, sir,' said Edward, 'in what a cruel
situation I am placed. Loving Miss Haredale as I do'-


'My dear fellow,' interrupted his father with a compassionate
smile, 'you do nothing of the kind. You don't know anything about
it. There's no such thing, I assure you. Now, do take my word for
it. You have good sense, Ned,--great good sense. I wonder you
should be guilty of such amazing absurdities. You really surprise
me.'

'I repeat,' said his son firmly, 'that I love her. You have
interposed to part us, and have, to the extent I have just now told
you of, succeeded. May I induce you, sir, in time, to think more
favourably of our attachment, or is it your intention and your
fixed design to hold us asunder if you can?'

'My dear Ned,' returned his father, taking a pinch of snuff and
pushing his box towards him, 'that is my purpose most undoubtedly.'

'The time that has elapsed,' rejoined his son, 'since I began to
know her worth, has flown in such a dream that until now I have
hardly once paused to reflect upon my true position. What is it?
From my childhood I have been accustomed to luxury and idleness,
and have been bred as though my fortune were large, and my
expectations almost without a limit. The idea of wealth has been
familiarised to me from my cradle. I have been taught to look upon
those means, by which men raise themselves to riches and
distinction, as being beyond my heeding, and beneath my care. I
have been, as the phrase is, liberally educated, and am fit for
nothing. I find myself at last wholly dependent upon you, with no
resource but in your favour. In this momentous question of my life
we do not, and it would seem we never can, agree. I have shrunk
instinctively alike from those to whom you have urged me to pay
court, and from the motives of interest and gain which have
rendered them in your eyes visible objects for my suit. If there
never has been thus much plain-speaking between us before, sir, the
fault has not been mine, indeed. If I seem to speak too plainly
now, it is, believe me father, in the hope that there may be a
franker spirit, a worthier reliance, and a kinder confidence
between us in time to come.'

'My good fellow,' said his smiling father, 'you quite affect me.
Go on, my dear Edward, I beg. But remember your promise. There is
great earnestness, vast candour, a manifest sincerity in all you
say, but I fear I observe the faintest indications of a tendency to
prose.'

'I am very sorry, sir.'

'I am very sorry, too, Ned, but you know that I cannot fix my mind
for any long period upon one subject. If you'll come to the point
at once, I'll imagine all that ought to go before, and conclude it


said. Oblige me with the milk again. Listening, invariably makes
me feverish.'

'What I would say then, tends to this,' said Edward. 'I cannot
bear this absolute dependence, sir, even upon you. Time has been
lost and opportunity thrown away, but I am yet a young man, and may
retrieve it. Will you give me the means of devoting such abilities
and energies as I possess, to some worthy pursuit? Will you let me
try to make for myself an honourable path in life? For any term
you please to name--say for five years if you will--I will pledge
myself to move no further in the matter of our difference without
your fall concurrence. During that period, I will endeavour
earnestly and patiently, if ever man did, to open some prospect for
myself, and free you from the burden you fear I should become if I
married one whose worth and beauty are her chief endowments. Will
you do this, sir? At the expiration of the term we agree upon, let
us discuss this subject again. Till then, unless it is revived by
you, let it never be renewed between us.'

'My dear Ned,' returned his father, laying down the newspaper at
which he had been glancing carelessly, and throwing himself back in
the window-seat, 'I believe you know how very much I dislike what
are called family affairs, which are only fit for plebeian
Christmas days, and have no manner of business with people of our
condition. But as you are proceeding upon a mistake, Ned-altogether
upon a mistake--I will conquer my repugnance to entering
on such matters, and give you a perfectly plain and candid answer,
if you will do me the favour to shut the door.'

Edward having obeyed him, he took an elegant little knife from his
pocket, and paring his nails, continued:

'You have to thank me, Ned, for being of good family; for your
mother, charming person as she was, and almost broken-hearted, and
so forth, as she left me, when she was prematurely compelled to
become immortal--had nothing to boast of in that respect.'

'Her father was at least an eminent lawyer, sir,' said Edward.

'Quite right, Ned; perfectly so. He stood high at the bar, had a
great name and great wealth, but having risen from nothing--I have
always closed my eyes to the circumstance and steadily resisted its
contemplation, but I fear his father dealt in pork, and that his
business did once involve cow-heel and sausages--he wished to marry
his daughter into a good family. He had his heart's desire, Ned.
I was a younger son's younger son, and I married her. We each had
our object, and gained it. She stepped at once into the politest
and best circles, and I stepped into a fortune which I assure you
was very necessary to my comfort--quite indispensable. Now, my
good fellow, that fortune is among the things that have been. It
is gone, Ned, and has been gone--how old are you? I always
forget.'

'Seven-and-twenty, sir.'

'Are you indeed?' cried his father, raising his eyelids in a
languishing surprise. 'So much! Then I should say, Ned, that as
nearly as I remember, its skirts vanished from human knowledge,
about eighteen or nineteen years ago. It was about that time when
I came to live in these chambers (once your grandfather's, and
bequeathed by that extremely respectable person to me), and
commenced to live upon an inconsiderable annuity and my past
reputation.'


'You are jesting with me, sir,' said Edward.

'Not in the slightest degree, I assure you,' returned his father
with great composure. 'These family topics are so extremely dry,
that I am sorry to say they don't admit of any such relief. It is
for that reason, and because they have an appearance of business,
that I dislike them so very much. Well! You know the rest. A
son, Ned, unless he is old enough to be a companion--that is to
say, unless he is some two or three and twenty--is not the kind of
thing to have about one. He is a restraint upon his father, his
father is a restraint upon him, and they make each other mutually
uncomfortable. Therefore, until within the last four years or so-I
have a poor memory for dates, and if I mistake, you will correct
me in your own mind--you pursued your studies at a distance, and
picked up a great variety of accomplishments. Occasionally we
passed a week or two together here, and disconcerted each other as
only such near relations can. At last you came home. I candidly
tell you, my dear boy, that if you had been awkward and overgrown,
I should have exported you to some distant part of the world.'

'I wish with all my soul you had, sir,' said Edward.

'No you don't, Ned,' said his father coolly; 'you are mistaken, I
assure you. I found you a handsome, prepossessing, elegant
fellow, and I threw you into the society I can still command.
Having done that, my dear fellow, I consider that I have provided
for you in life, and rely upon your doing something to provide for
me in return.'

'I do not understand your meaning, sir.'

'My meaning, Ned, is obvious--I observe another fly in the creamjug,
but have the goodness not to take it out as you did the first,
for their walk when their legs are milky, is extremely ungraceful
and disagreeable--my meaning is, that you must do as I did; that
you must marry well and make the most of yourself.'

'A mere fortune-hunter!' cried the son, indignantly.

'What in the devil's name, Ned, would you be!' returned the father.
'All men are fortune-hunters, are they not? The law, the church,
the court, the camp--see how they are all crowded with fortunehunters,
jostling each other in the pursuit. The stock-exchange,
the pulpit, the counting-house, the royal drawing-room, the
senate,--what but fortune-hunters are they filled with? A fortunehunter!
Yes. You ARE one; and you would be nothing else, my dear
Ned, if you were the greatest courtier, lawyer, legislator,
prelate, or merchant, in existence. If you are squeamish and
moral, Ned, console yourself with the reflection that at the very
worst your fortune-hunting can make but one person miserable or
unhappy. How many people do you suppose these other kinds of
huntsmen crush in following their sport--hundreds at a step? Or
thousands?'

The young man leant his head upon his hand, and made no answer.

'I am quite charmed,' said the father rising, and walking slowly to
and fro--stopping now and then to glance at himself in the mirror,
or survey a picture through his glass, with the air of a
connoisseur, 'that we have had this conversation, Ned, unpromising
as it was. It establishes a confidence between us which is quite
delightful, and was certainly necessary, though how you can ever
have mistaken our positions and designs, I confess I cannot
understand. I conceived, until I found your fancy for this girl,


that all these points were tacitly agreed upon between us.'

'I knew you were embarrassed, sir,' returned the son, raising his
head for a moment, and then falling into his former attitude, 'but
I had no idea we were the beggared wretches you describe. How
could I suppose it, bred as I have been; witnessing the life you
have always led; and the appearance you have always made?'

'My dear child,' said the father--'for you really talk so like a
child that I must call you one--you were bred upon a careful
principle; the very manner of your education, I assure you,
maintained my credit surprisingly. As to the life I lead, I must
lead it, Ned. I must have these little refinements about me. I
have always been used to them, and I cannot exist without them.
They must surround me, you observe, and therefore they are here.
With regard to our circumstances, Ned, you may set your mind at
rest upon that score. They are desperate. Your own appearance is
by no means despicable, and our joint pocket-money alone devours
our income. That's the truth.'

'Why have I never known this before? Why have you encouraged me,
sir, to an expenditure and mode of life to which we have no right
or title?'

'My good fellow,' returned his father more compassionately than
ever, 'if you made no appearance, how could you possibly succeed in
the pursuit for which I destined you? As to our mode of life,
every man has a right to live in the best way he can; and to make
himself as comfortable as he can, or he is an unnatural scoundrel.
Our debts, I grant, are very great, and therefore it the more
behoves you, as a young man of principle and honour, to pay them
off as speedily as possible.'

'The villain's part,' muttered Edward, 'that I have unconsciously
played! I to win the heart of Emma Haredale! I would, for her
sake, I had died first!'

'I am glad you see, Ned,' returned his father, 'how perfectly selfevident
it is, that nothing can be done in that quarter. But apart
from this, and the necessity of your speedily bestowing yourself
on another (as you know you could to-morrow, if you chose), I wish
you'd look upon it pleasantly. In a religious point of view alone,
how could you ever think of uniting yourself to a Catholic, unless
she was amazingly rich? You ought to be so very Protestant,
coming of such a Protestant family as you do. Let us be moral,
Ned, or we are nothing. Even if one could set that objection
aside, which is impossible, we come to another which is quite
conclusive. The very idea of marrying a girl whose father was
killed, like meat! Good God, Ned, how disagreeable! Consider the
impossibility of having any respect for your father-in-law under
such unpleasant circumstances--think of his having been viewed" by
jurorsand "sat upon" by coronersand of his very doubtful
position in the family ever afterwards. It seems to me such an
indelicate sort of thing that I really think the girl ought to have
been put to death by the state to prevent its happening. But I
tease you perhaps. You would rather be alone? My dear Nedmost
willingly. God bless you. I shall be going out presentlybut we
shall meet to-nightor if not to-nightcertainly to-morrow.
Take care of yourself in the mean timefor both our sakes. You
are a person of great consequence to meNed--of vast consequence
indeed. God bless you!'

With these wordsthe fatherwho had been arranging his cravat in
the glasswhile he uttered them in a disconnected careless manner


withdrewhumming a tune as he went. The sonwho had appeared so
lost in thought as not to hear or understand themremained quite
still and silent. After the lapse of half an hour or sothe elder
Chestergaily dressedwent out. The younger still sat with his
head resting on his handsin what appeared to be a kind of stupor.

Chapter 16

A series of pictures representing the streets of London in the
nighteven at the comparatively recent date of this talewould
present to the eye something so very different in character from
the reality which is witnessed in these timesthat it would be
difficult for the beholder to recognise his most familiar walks in
the altered aspect of little more than half a century ago.

They wereone and allfrom the broadest and best to the narrowest
and least frequentedvery dark. The oil and cotton lampsthough
regularly trimmed twice or thrice in the long winter nightsburnt
feebly at the best; and at a late hourwhen they were unassisted
by the lamps and candles in the shopscast but a narrow track of
doubtful light upon the footwayleaving the projecting doors and
house-fronts in the deepest gloom. Many of the courts and lanes
were left in total darkness; those of the meaner sortwhere one
glimmering light twinkled for a score of housesbeing favoured in
no slight degree. Even in these placesthe inhabitants had often
good reason for extinguishing their lamp as soon as it was lighted;
and the watch being utterly inefficient and powerless to prevent
themthey did so at their pleasure. Thusin the lightest
thoroughfaresthere was at every turn some obscure and dangerous
spot whither a thief might fly or shelterand few would care to
follow; and the city being belted round by fieldsgreen lanes
waste groundsand lonely roadsdividing it at that time from the
suburbs that have joined it sinceescapeeven where the pursuit
was hotwas rendered easy.

It is no wonder that with these favouring circumstances in full and
constant operationstreet robberiesoften accompanied by cruel
woundsand not unfrequently by loss of lifeshould have been of
nightly occurrence in the very heart of Londonor that quiet folks
should have had great dread of traversing its streets after the
shops were closed. It was not unusual for those who wended home
alone at midnightto keep the middle of the roadthe better to
guard against surprise from lurking footpads; few would venture to
repair at a late hour to Kentish Town or Hampsteador even to
Kensington or Chelseaunarmed and unattended; while he who had
been loudest and most valiant at the supper-table or the tavern
and had but a mile or so to gowas glad to fee a link-boy to
escort him home.

There were many other characteristics--not quite so disagreeable-about
the thoroughfares of London thenwith which they had been
long familiar. Some of the shopsespecially those to the eastward
of Temple Barstill adhered to the old practice of hanging out a
sign; and the creaking and swinging of these boards in their iron
frames on windy nightsformed a strange and mournfal concert for
the ears of those who lay awake in bed or hurried through the
streets. Long stands of hackney-chairs and groups of chairmen
compared with whom the coachmen of our day are gentle and polite
obstructed the way and filled the air with clamour; night-cellars
indicated by a little stream of light crossing the pavementand
stretching out half-way into the roadand by the stifled roar of


voices from belowyawned for the reception and entertainment of
the most abandoned of both sexes; under every shed and bulk small
groups of link-boys gamed away the earnings of the day; or one more
weary than the restgave way to sleepand let the fragment of his
torch fall hissing on the puddled ground.

Then there was the watch with staff and lantern crying the hour
and the kind of weather; and those who woke up at his voice and
turned them round in bedwere glad to hear it rainedor snowed
or blewor frozefor very comfort's sake. The solitary passenger
was startled by the chairmen's cry of 'By your leave there!' as two
came trotting past him with their empty vehicle--carried backwards
to show its being disengaged--and hurried to the nearest stand.
Many a private chairtooinclosing some fine ladymonstrously
hooped and furbelowedand preceded by running-footmen bearing
flambeaux--for which extinguishers are yet suspended before the
doors of a few houses of the better sort--made the way gay and
light as it danced alongand darker and more dismal when it had
passed. It was not unusual for these running gentrywho carried
it with a very high handto quarrel in the servants' hall while
waiting for their masters and mistresses; andfalling to blows
either there or in the street withoutto strew the place of
skirmish with hair-powderfragments of bag-wigsand scattered
nosegays. Gamingthe vice which ran so high among all classes
(the fashion being of course set by the upper)was generally the
cause of these disputes; for cards and dice were as openly used
and worked as much mischiefand yielded as much excitement below
stairsas above. While incidents like thesearising out of drums
and masquerades and parties at quadrillewere passing at the west
end of the townheavy stagecoaches and scarce heavier waggons were
lumbering slowly towards the citythe coachmenguardand
passengersarmed to the teethand the coach--a day or so perhaps
behind its timebut that was nothing--despoiled by highwaymen; who
made no scruple to attackalone and single-handeda whole caravan
of goods and menand sometimes shot a passenger or twoand were
sometimes shot themselvesas the case might be. On the morrow
rumours of this new act of daring on the road yielded matter for a
few hours' conversation through the townand a Public Progress of
some fine gentleman (half-drunk) to Tyburndressed in the newest
fashionand damning the ordinary with unspeakable gallantry and
gracefurnished to the populaceat once a pleasant excitement and
a wholesome and profound example.

Among all the dangerous characters whoin such a state of society
prowled and skulked in the metropolis at nightthere was one man
from whom many as uncouth and fierce as heshrunk with an
involuntary dread. Who he wasor whence he camewas a question
often askedbut which none could answer. His name was unknownhe
had never been seen until within about eight days or thereabouts
and was equally a stranger to the old ruffiansupon whose haunts
he ventured fearlesslyas to the young. He could be no spyfor
he never removed his slouched hat to look about himentered into
conversation with no manheeded nothing that passedlistened to
no discourseregarded nobody that came or went. But so surely as
the dead of night set inso surely this man was in the midst of
the loose concourse in the night-cellar where outcasts of every
grade resorted; and there he sat till morning.

He was not only a spectre at their licentious feasts; a something
in the midst of their revelry and riot that chilled and haunted
them; but out of doors he was the same. Directly it was darkhe
was abroad--never in company with any onebut always alone; never
lingering or loiteringbut always walking swiftly; and looking (so
they said who had seen him) over his shoulder from time to time


and as he did so quickening his pace. In the fieldsthe lanes
the roadsin all quarters of the town--eastwestnorthand
south--that man was seen gliding on like a shadow. He was always
hurrying away. Those who encountered himsaw him steal past
caught sight of the backward glanceand so lost him in the
darkness.

This constant restlessnessand flitting to and frogave rise to
strange stories. He was seen in such distant and remote placesat
times so nearly tallying with each otherthat some doubted whether
there were not two of themor more--somewhether he had not
unearthly means of travelling from spot to spot. The footpad
hiding in a ditch had marked him passing like a ghost along its
brink; the vagrant had met him on the dark high-road; the beggar
had seen him pause upon the bridge to look down at the waterand
then sweep on again; they who dealt in bodies with the surgeons
could swear he slept in churchyardsand that they had beheld him
glide away among the tombs on their approach. And as they told
these stories to each otherone who had looked about him would
pull his neighbour by the sleeveand there he would be among them.

At lastone man--he was one of those whose commerce lay among the
graves--resolved to question this strange companion. Next night
when he had eat his poor meal voraciously (he was accustomed to do
thatthey had observedas though he had no other in the day)
this fellow sat down at his elbow.

'A black nightmaster!'

'It is a black night.'

'Blacker than lastthough that was pitchy too. Didn't I pass you
near the turnpike in the Oxford Road?'

'It's like you may. I don't know.'

'Comecomemaster' cried the fellowurged on by the looks of
his comradesand slapping him on the shoulder; 'be more
companionable and communicative. Be more the gentleman in this
good company. There are tales among us that you have sold yourself
to the deviland I know not what.'

'We all havehave we not?' returned the strangerlooking up. 'If
we were fewer in numberperhaps he would give better wages.'

'It goes rather hard with youindeed' said the fellowas the
stranger disclosed his haggard unwashed faceand torn clothes.
'What of that? Be merrymaster. A stave of a roaring song now'-


'Sing youif you desire to hear one' replied the othershaking
him roughly off; 'and don't touch me if you're a prudent man; I
carry arms which go off easily--they have done sobefore now--and
make it dangerous for strangers who don't know the trick of them
to lay hands upon me.'

'Do you threaten?' said the fellow.

'Yes' returned the otherrising and turning upon himand looking
fiercely round as if in apprehension of a general attack.

His voiceand lookand bearing--all expressive of the wildest
recklessness and desperation--daunted while they repelled the
bystanders. Although in a very different sphere of action now
they were not without much of the effect they had wrought at the


Maypole Inn.

'I am what you all areand live as you all do' said the man
sternlyafter a short silence. 'I am in hiding here like the
restand if we were surprised would perhaps do my part with the
best of ye. If it's my humour to be left to myselflet me have
it. Otherwise'--and here he swore a tremendous oath--'there'll be
mischief done in this placethough there ARE odds of a score
against me.'

A low murmurhaving its origin perhaps in a dread of the man and
the mystery that surrounded himor perhaps in a sincere opinion on
the part of some of those presentthat it would be an inconvenient
precedent to meddle too curiously with a gentleman's private
affairs if he saw reason to conceal themwarned the fellow who
had occasioned this discussion that he had best pursue it no
further. After a short time the strange man lay down upon a bench
to sleepand when they thought of him againthey found he was
gone.

Next nightas soon as it was darkhe was abroad again and
traversing the streets; he was before the locksmith's house more
than oncebut the family were outand it was close shut. This
night he crossed London Bridge and passed into Southwark. As he
glided down a bye streeta woman with a little basket on her arm
turned into it at the other end. Directly he observed herhe
sought the shelter of an archwayand stood aside until she had
passed. Then he emerged cautiously from his hiding-placeand
followed.

She went into several shops to purchase various kinds of household
necessariesand round every place at which she stopped he hovered
like her evil spirit; following her when she reappeared. It was
nigh eleven o'clockand the passengers in the streets were
thinning fastwhen she turneddoubtless to go home. The phantom
still followed her.

She turned into the same bye street in which he had seen her first
whichbeing free from shopsand narrowwas extremely dark. She
quickened her pace hereas though distrustful of being stopped
and robbed of such trifling property as she carried with her. He
crept along on the other side of the road. Had she been gifted
with the speed of windit seemed as if his terrible shadow would
have tracked her down.

At length the widow--for she it was--reached her own doorand
panting for breathpaused to take the key from her basket. In a
flush and glowwith the haste she had madeand the pleasure of
being safe at homeshe stooped to draw it outwhenraising her
headshe saw him standing silently beside her: the apparition of
a dream.

His hand was on her mouthbut that was needlessfor her tongue
clove to its roofand her power of utterance was gone. 'I have
been looking for you many nights. Is the house empty? Answer me.
Is any one inside?'

She could only answer by a rattle in her throat.

'Make me a sign.'

She seemed to indicate that there was no one there. He took the
keyunlocked the doorcarried her inand secured it carefully
behind them.


Chapter 17

It was a chilly nightand the fire in the widow's parlour had
burnt low. Her strange companion placed her in a chairand
stooping down before the half-extinguished ashesraked them
together and fanned them with his hat. From time to time he
glanced at her over his shoulderas though to assure himself of
her remaining quiet and making no effort to depart; and that done
busied himself about the fire again.

It was not without reason that he took these painsfor his dress
was dank and drenched with wethis jaws rattled with coldand he
shivered from head to foot. It had rained hard during the previous
night and for some hours in the morningbut since noon it had been
fine. Wheresoever he had passed the hours of darknesshis
condition sufficiently betokened that many of them had been spent
beneath the open sky. Besmeared with mire; his saturated clothes
clinging with a damp embrace about his limbs; his beard unshaven
his face unwashedhis meagre cheeks worn into deep hollows--a
more miserable wretch could hardly bethan this man who now
cowered down upon the widow's hearthand watched the struggling
flame with bloodshot eyes.

She had covered her face with her handsfearingas it seemedto
look towards him. So they remained for some short time in silence.
Glancing round againhe asked at length:

'Is this your house?'

'It is. Whyin the name of Heavendo you darken it?'

'Give me meat and drink' he answered sullenly'or I dare do more
than that. The very marrow in my bones is coldwith wet and
hunger. I must have warmth and foodand I will have them here.'

'You were the robber on the Chigwell road.'

'I was.'

'And nearly a murderer then.'

'The will was not wanting. There was one came upon me and raised
the hue-and-cry'that it would have gone hard withbut for his
nimbleness. I made a thrust at him.'

'You thrust your sword at HIM!' cried the widowlooking upwards.
'You hear this man! you hear and saw!'

He looked at heraswith her head thrown backand her hands
tight clenched togethershe uttered these words in an agony of
appeal. Thenstarting to his feet as she had donehe advanced
towards her.

'Beware!' she cried in a suppressed voicewhose firmness stopped
him midway. 'Do not so much as touch me with a fingeror you are
lost; body and soulyou are lost.'

'Hear me' he repliedmenacing her with his hand. 'Ithat in the
form of a man live the life of a hunted beast; that in the body am
a spirita ghost upon the eartha thing from which all creatures


shrinksave those curst beings of another worldwho will not
leave me;--I amin my desperation of this nightpast all fear but
that of the hell in which I exist from day to day. Give the
alarmcry outrefuse to shelter me. I will not hurt you. But I
will not be taken alive; and so surely as you threaten me above
your breathI fall a dead man on this floor. The blood with which
I sprinkle itbe on you and yoursin the name of the Evil Spirit
that tempts men to their ruin!'

As he spokehe took a pistol from his breastand firmly clutched
it in his hand.

'Remove this man from megood Heaven!' cried the widow. 'In thy
grace and mercygive him one minute's penitenceand strike him
dead!'

'It has no such purpose' he saidconfronting her. 'It is deaf.
Give me to eat and drinklest I do that it cannot help my doing
and will not do for you.'

'Will you leave meif I do thus much? Will you leave me and
return no more?'

'I will promise nothing' he rejoinedseating himself at the
table'nothing but this--I will execute my threat if you betray
me.'

She rose at lengthand going to a closet or pantry in the room
brought out some fragments of cold meat and bread and put them on
the table. He asked for brandyand for water. These she produced
likewise; and he ate and drank with the voracity of a famished
hound. All the time he was so engaged she kept at the uttermost
distance of the chamberand sat there shudderingbut with her
face towards him. She never turned her back upon him once; and
although when she passed him (as she was obliged to do in going to
and from the cupboard) she gathered the skirts of her garment about
heras if even its touching his by chance were horrible to think
ofstillin the midst of all this dread and terrorshe kept her
face towards his ownand watched his every movement.

His repast ended--if that can be called onewhich was a mere
ravenous satisfying of the calls of hunger--he moved his chair
towards the fire againand warming himself before the blaze which
had now sprung brightly upaccosted her once more.

'I am an outcastto whom a roof above his head is often an
uncommon luxuryand the food a beggar would reject is delicate
fare. You live here at your ease. Do you live alone?'

'I do not' she made answer with an effort.

'Who dwells here besides?'

'One--it is no matter who. You had best begoneor he may find you
here. Why do you linger?'

'For warmth' he repliedspreading out his hands before the fire.
'For warmth. You are richperhaps?'

'Very' she said faintly. 'Very rich. No doubt I am very rich.'

'At least you are not penniless. You have some money. You were
making purchases to-night.'


'I have a little left. It is but a few shillings.'

'Give me your purse. You had it in your hand at the door. Give it
to me.'

She stepped to the table and laid it down. He reached acrosstook
it upand told the contents into his hand. As he was counting
themshe listened for a momentand sprung towards him.

'Take what there istake alltake more if more were therebut go
before it is too late. I have heard a wayward step withoutI know
full well. It will return directly. Begone.'

'What do you mean?'

'Do not stop to ask. I will not answer. Much as I dread to touch
youI would drag you to the door if I possessed the strength
rather than you should lose an instant. Miserable wretch! fly from
this place.'

'If there are spies withoutI am safer here' replied the man
standing aghast. 'I will remain hereand will not fly till the
danger is past.'

'It is too late!' cried the widowwho had listened for the step
and not to him. 'Hark to that foot upon the ground. Do you
tremble to hear it! It is my sonmy idiot son!'

As she said this wildlythere came a heavy knocking at the door.
He looked at herand she at him.

'Let him come in' said the manhoarsely. 'I fear him less than
the darkhouseless night. He knocks again. Let him come in!'

'The dread of this hour' returned the widow'has been upon me all
my lifeand I will not. Evil will fall upon himif you stand eye
to eye. My blighted boy! Oh! all good angels who know the truth-hear
a poor mother's prayerand spare my boy from knowledge of
this man!'

'He rattles at the shutters!' cried the man. 'He calls you. That
voice and cry! It was he who grappled with me in the road. Was it
he?'

She had sunk upon her kneesand so knelt downmoving her lips
but uttering no sound. As he gazed upon heruncertain what to do
or where to turnthe shutters flew open. He had barely time to
catch a knife from the tablesheathe it in the loose sleeve of his
coathide in the closetand do all with the lightning's speed
when Barnaby tapped at the bare glassand raised the sash
exultingly.

'Whywho can keep out Grip and me!' he criedthrusting in his
headand staring round the room. 'Are you theremother? How
long you keep us from the fire and light.'

She stammered some excuse and tendered him her hand. But Barnaby
sprung lightly in without assistanceand putting his arms about
her neckkissed her a hundred times.

'We have been afieldmother--leaping ditchesscrambling through
hedgesrunning down steep banksup and awayand hurrying on.
The wind has been blowingand the rushes and young plants bowing
and bending to itlest it should do them harmthe cowards--and


Grip--ha ha ha!--brave Gripwho cares for nothingand when the
wind rolls him over in the dustturns manfully to bite it--Grip
bold Griphas quarrelled with every little bowing twig--thinking
he told methat it mocked him--and has worried it like a bulldog.
Ha ha ha!'

The ravenin his little basket at his master's backhearing this
frequent mention of his name in a tone of exultationexpressed his
sympathy by crowing like a cockand afterwards running over his
various phrases of speech with such rapidityand in so many
varieties of hoarsenessthat they sounded like the murmurs of a
crowd of people.

'He takes such care of me besides!' said Barnaby. 'Such care
mother! He watches all the time I sleepand when I shut my eyes
and make-believe to slumberhe practises new learning softly; but
he keeps his eye on me the whileand if he sees me laughthough
never so littlestops directly. He won't surprise me till he's
perfect.'

The raven crowed again in a rapturous manner which plainly said
'Those are certainly some of my characteristicsand I glory in
them.' In the meantimeBarnaby closed the window and secured it
and coming to the fireplaceprepared to sit down with his face
to the closet. But his mother prevented thisby hastily taking
that side herselfand motioning him towards the other.

'How pale you are to-night!' said Barnabyleaning on his stick.
'We have been cruelGripand made her anxious!'

Anxious in good truthand sick at heart! The listener held the
door of his hiding-place open with his handand closely watched
her son. Grip--alive to everything his master was unconscious of-had
his head out of the basketand in return was watching him
intently with his glistening eye.

'He flaps his wings' said Barnabyturning almost quickly enough
to catch the retreating form and closing door'as if there were
strangers herebut Grip is wiser than to fancy that. Jump then!'

Accepting this invitation with a dignity peculiar to himselfthe
bird hopped up on his master's shoulderfrom that to his extended
handand so to the ground. Barnaby unstrapping the basket and
putting it down in a corner with the lid openGrip's first care
was to shut it down with all possible despatchand then to stand
upon it. Believingno doubtthat he had now rendered it utterly
impossibleand beyond the power of mortal manto shut him up in
it any morehe drew a great many corks in triumphand uttered a
corresponding number of hurrahs.

'Mother!' said Barnabylaying aside his hat and stickand
returning to the chair from which he had risen'I'll tell you
where we have been to-dayand what we have been doing--shall I?'

She took his hand in hersand holding itnodded the word she
could not speak.

'You mustn't tell' said Barnabyholding up his finger'for it's
a secretmindand only known to meand Gripand Hugh. We had
the dog with usbut he's not like Gripclever as he isand
doesn't guess it yetI'll wager.--Why do you look behind me so?'

'Did I?' she answered faintly. 'I didn't know I did. Come nearer
me.'


'You are frightened!' said Barnabychanging colour. 'Mother--you
don't see'-


'See what?'

'There's--there's none of this aboutis there?' he answered in a
whisperdrawing closer to her and clasping the mark upon his
wrist. 'I am afraid there issomewhere. You make my hair stand
on endand my flesh creep. Why do you look like that? Is it in
the room as I have seen it in my dreamsdashing the ceiling and
the walls with red? Tell me. Is it?'

He fell into a shivering fit as he put the questionand shutting
out the light with his handssat shaking in every limb until it
had passed away. After a timehe raised his head and looked about
him.

'Is it gone?'

'There has been nothing here' rejoined his mothersoothing him.
'Nothing indeeddear Barnaby. Look! You see there are but you
and me.'

He gazed at her vacantlyandbecoming reassured by degreesburst
into a wild laugh.

'But let us see' he saidthoughtfully. 'Were we talking? Was it
you and me? Where have we been?'

'Nowhere but here.'

'Ayebut Hughand I' said Barnaby--'that's it. Maypole Hugh
and Iyou knowand Grip--we have been lying in the forestand
among the trees by the road sidewith a dark lantern after night
came onand the dog in a noose ready to slip him when the man came
by.'

'What man?'

'The robber; him that the stars winked at. We have waited for him
after dark these many nightsand we shall have him. I'd know him
in a thousand. Mothersee here! This is the man. Look!'

He twisted his handkerchief round his headpulled his hat upon his
browwrapped his coat about himand stood up before her: so like
the original he counterfeitedthat the dark figure peering out
behind him might have passed for his own shadow.

'Ha ha ha! We shall have him' he criedridding himself of the
semblance as hastily as he had assumed it. 'You shall see him
motherbound hand and footand brought to London at a saddlegirth;
and you shall hear of him at Tyburn Tree if we have luck.
So Hugh says. You're pale againand trembling. And why DO you
look behind me so?'

'It is nothing' she answered. 'I am not quite well. Go you to
beddearand leave me here.'

'To bed!' he answered. 'I don't like bed. I like to lie before
the firewatching the prospects in the burning coals--the rivers
hillsand dellsin the deepred sunsetand the wild faces. I
am hungry tooand Grip has eaten nothing since broad noon. Let us
to supper. Grip! To supperlad!'


The raven flapped his wingsandcroaking his satisfactionhopped
to the feet of his masterand there held his bill openready for
snapping up such lumps of meat as he should throw him. Of these he
received about a score in rapid successionwithout the smallest
discomposure.

'That's all' said Barnaby.

'More!' cried Grip. 'More!'

But it appearing for a certainty that no more was to be hadhe
retreated with his store; and disgorging the morsels one by one
from his pouchhid them in various corners--taking particular
carehoweverto avoid the closetas being doubtful of the hidden
man's propensities and power of resisting temptation. When he had
concluded these arrangementshe took a turn or two across the room
with an elaborate assumption of having nothing on his mind (but
with one eye hard upon his treasure all the time)and thenand
not till thenbegan to drag it outpiece by pieceand eat it
with the utmost relish.

Barnabyfor his parthaving pressed his mother to eat in vain
made a hearty supper too. Once during the progress of his mealhe
wanted more bread from the closet and rose to get it. She
hurriedly interposed to prevent himand summoning her utmost
fortitudepassed into the recessand brought it out herself.

'Mother' said Barnabylooking at her steadfastly as she sat down
beside him after doing so; 'is to-day my birthday?'

'To-day!' she answered. 'Don't you recollect it was but a week or
so agoand that summerautumnand winter have to pass before it
comes again?'

'I remember that it has been so till now' said Barnaby. 'But I
think to-day must be my birthday toofor all that.'

She asked him why? 'I'll tell you why' he said. 'I have always
seen you--I didn't let you know itbut I have--on the evening of
that day grow very sad. I have seen you cry when Grip and I were
most glad; and look frightened with no reason; and I have touched
your handand felt that it was cold--as it is now. Oncemother
(on a birthday that wasalso)Grip and I thought of this after we
went upstairs to bedand when it was midnightstriking one
o'clockwe came down to your door to see if you were well. You
were on your knees. I forget what it was you said. Gripwhat was
it we heard her say that night?'

'I'm a devil!' rejoined the raven promptly.

'Nono' said Barnaby. 'But you said something in a prayer; and
when you rose and walked aboutyou looked (as you have done ever
sincemothertowards night on my birthday) just as you do now. I
have found that outyou seethough I am silly. So I say you're
wrong; and this must be my birthday--my birthdayGrip!'

The bird received this information with a crow of such duration as
a cockgifted with intelligence beyond all others of his kind
might usher in the longest day with. Thenas if he had well
considered the sentimentand regarded it as apposite to birthdays
he cried'Never say die!' a great many timesand flapped his
wings for emphasis.


The widow tried to make light of Barnaby's remarkand endeavoured
to divert his attention to some new subject; too easy a task at all
timesas she knew. His supper doneBarnabyregardless of her
entreatiesstretched himself on the mat before the fire; Grip
perched upon his legand divided his time between dozing in the
grateful warmthand endeavouring (as it presently appeared) to
recall a new accomplishment he had been studying all day.

A long and profound silence ensuedbroken only by some change of
position on the part of Barnabywhose eyes were still wide open
and intently fixed upon the fire; or by an effort of recollection
on the part of Gripwho would cry in a low voice from time to
time'Polly put the ket--' and there stop shortforgetting the
remainderand go off in a doze again.

After a long intervalBarnaby's breathing grew more deep and
regularand his eyes were closed. But even then the unquiet
spirit of the raven interposed. 'Polly put the ket--' cried Grip
and his master was broad awake again.

At length Barnaby slept soundlyand the bird with his bill sunk
upon his breasthis breast itself puffed out into a comfortable
alderman-like formand his bright eye growing smaller and smaller
really seemed to be subsiding into a state of repose. Now and then
he muttered in a sepulchral voice'Polly put the ket--' but very
drowsilyand more like a drunken man than a reflecting raven.

The widowscarcely venturing to breatherose from her seat. The
man glided from the closetand extinguished the candle.

'--tle on' cried Gripsuddenly struck with an idea and very much
excited. '--tle on. Hurrah! Polly put the ket-tle onwe'll all
have tea; Polly put the ket-tle onwe'll all have tea. Hurrah
hurrahhurrah! I'm a devilI'm a devilI'm a ket-tle onKeep
up your spiritsNever say dieBowwowwowI'm a devilI'm a
ket-tleI'm a--Polly put the ket-tle onwe'll all have tea.'

They stood rooted to the groundas though it had been a voice from
the grave.

But even this failed to awaken the sleeper. He turned over towards
the firehis arm fell to the groundand his head drooped heavily
upon it. The widow and her unwelcome visitor gazed at him and at
each other for a momentand then she motioned him towards the
door.

'Stay' he whispered. 'You teach your son well.'

'I have taught him nothing that you heard to-night. Depart
instantlyor I will rouse him.'

'You are free to do so. Shall I rouse him?'

'You dare not do that.'

'I dare do anythingI have told you. He knows me wellit seems.
At least I will know him.'

'Would you kill him in his sleep?' cried the widowthrowing
herself between them.

'Woman' he returned between his teethas he motioned her aside
'I would see him nearerand I will. If you want one of us to kill
the otherwake him.'


With that he advancedand bending down over the prostrate form
softly turned back the head and looked into the face. The light of
the fire was upon itand its every lineament was revealed
distinctly. He contemplated it for a brief spaceand hastily
uprose.

'Observe' he whispered in the widow's ear: 'In himof whose
existence I was ignorant until to-nightI have you in my power.
Be careful how you use me. Be careful how you use me. I am
destitute and starvingand a wanderer upon the earth. I may take
a sure and slow revenge.'

'There is some dreadful meaning in your words. I do not fathom it.'

'There is a meaning in themand I see you fathom it to its very
depth. You have anticipated it for years; you have told me as
much. I leave you to digest it. Do not forget my warning.'

He pointedas he left herto the slumbering formand stealthily
withdrawingmade his way into the street. She fell on her knees
beside the sleeperand remained like one stricken into stone
until the tears which fear had frozen so longcame tenderly to her
relief.

'Oh Thou' she cried'who hast taught me such deep love for this
one remnant of the promise of a happy lifeout of whose
afflictionevenperhaps the comfort springs that he is ever a
relyingloving child to me--never growing old or cold at heart
but needing my care and duty in his manly strength as in his
cradle-time--help himin his darkened walk through this sad world
or he is doomedand my poor heart is broken!'

Chapter 18

Gliding along the silent streetsand holding his course where they
were darkest and most gloomythe man who had left the widow's
house crossed London Bridgeand arriving in the Cityplunged into
the backwayslanesand courtsbetween Cornhill and Smithfield;
with no more fixedness of purpose than to lose himself among their
windingsand baffle pursuitif any one were dogging his steps.

It was the dead time of the nightand all was quiet. Now and then
a drowsy watchman's footsteps sounded on the pavementor the
lamplighter on his rounds went flashing pastleaving behind a
little track of smoke mingled with glowing morsels of his hot red
link. He hid himself even from these partakers of his lonely walk
andshrinking in some arch or doorway while they passedissued
forth again when they were gone and so pursued his solitary way.

To be shelterless and alone in the open countryhearing the wind
moan and watching for day through the whole long weary night; to
listen to the falling rainand crouch for warmth beneath the lee
of some old barn or rickor in the hollow of a tree; are dismal
things--but not so dismal as the wandering up and down where
shelter isand beds and sleepers are by thousands; a houseless
rejected creature. To pace the echoing stones from hour to hour
counting the dull chimes of the clocks; to watch the lights
twinkling in chamber windowsto think what happy forgetfulness
each house shuts in; that here are children coiled together in
their bedshere youthhere agehere povertyhere wealthall


equal in their sleepand all at rest; to have nothing in common
with the slumbering world aroundnot even sleepHeaven's gift to
all its creaturesand be akin to nothing but despair; to feelby
the wretched contrast with everything on every handmore utterly
alone and cast away than in a trackless desert; this is a kind of
sufferingon which the rivers of great cities close full many a
timeand which the solitude in crowds alone awakens.

The miserable man paced up and down the streets--so longso
wearisomeso like each other--and often cast a wistful look
towards the easthoping to see the first faint streaks of day.
But obdurate night had yet possession of the skyand his disturbed
and restless walk found no relief.

One house in a back street was bright with the cheerful glare of
lights; there was the sound of music in it tooand the tread of
dancersand there were cheerful voicesand many a burst of
laughter. To this place--to be near something that was awake and
glad--he returned again and again; and more than one of those who
left it when the merriment was at its heightfelt it a check upon
their mirthful mood to see him flitting to and fro like an uneasy
ghost. At last the guests departedone and all; and then the
house was close shut upand became as dull and silent as the rest.

His wanderings brought him at one time to the city jail. Instead
of hastening from it as a place of ill omenand one he had cause
to shunhe sat down on some steps hard byand resting his chin
upon his handgazed upon its rough and frowning walls as though
even they became a refuge in his jaded eyes. He paced it round and
roundcame back to the same spotand sat down again. He did this
oftenand oncewith a hasty movementcrossed to where some men
were watching in the prison lodgeand had his foot upon the steps
as though determined to accost them. But looking roundhe saw
that the day began to breakand failing in his purposeturned and
fled.

He was soon in the quarter he had lately traversedand pacing to
and fro again as he had done before. He was passing down a mean
streetwhen from an alley close at hand some shouts of revelry
aroseand there came straggling forth a dozen madcapswhooping
and calling to each otherwhoparting noisilytook different
ways and dispersed in smaller groups.

Hoping that some low place of entertainment which would afford him
a safe refuge might be near at handhe turned into this court when
they were all goneand looked about for a half-opened dooror
lighted windowor other indication of the place whence they had
come. It was so profoundly darkhoweverand so ill-favoured
that he concluded they had but turned up theremissing their way
and were pouring out again when he observed them. With this
impressionand finding there was no outlet but that by which he
had enteredhe was about to turnwhen from a grating near his
feet a sudden stream of light appearedand the sound of talking
came. He retreated into a doorway to see who these talkers were
and to listen to them.

The light came to the level of the pavement as he did thisand a
man ascendedbearing in his hand a torch. This figure unlocked
and held open the grating as for the passage of anotherwho
presently appearedin the form of a young man of small stature and
uncommon self-importancedressed in an obsolete and very gaudy
fashion.

'Good nightnoble captain' said he with the torch. 'Farewell


commander. Good luckillustrious general!'

In return to these compliments the other bade him hold his tongue
and keep his noise to himselfand laid upon him many similar
injunctionswith great fluency of speech and sternness of manner.

'Commend mecaptainto the stricken Miggs' returned the torchbearer
in a lower voice. 'My captain flies at higher game than
Miggses. Hahaha! My captain is an eagleboth as respects his
eye and soaring wings. My captain breaketh hearts as other
bachelors break eggs at breakfast.'

'What a fool you areStagg!' said Mr Tappertitstepping on the
pavement of the courtand brushing from his legs the dust he had
contracted in his passage upward.

'His precious limbs!' cried Staggclasping one of his ankles.
'Shall a Miggs aspire to these proportions! Nonomy captain.
We will inveigle ladies fairand wed them in our secret cavern.
We will unite ourselves with blooming beautiescaptain.'

'I'll tell you whatmy buck' said Mr Tappertitreleasing his
leg; 'I'll trouble you not to take libertiesand not to broach
certain questions unless certain questions are broached to you.
Speak when you're spoke to on particular subjectsand not
otherways. Hold the torch up till I've got to the end of the
courtand then kennel yourselfdo you hear?'

'I hear younoble captain.'

'Obey then' said Mr Tappertit haughtily. 'Gentlemenlead on!'
With which word of command (addressed to an imaginary staff or
retinue) he folded his armsand walked with surpassing dignity
down the court.

His obsequious follower stood holding the torch above his headand
then the observer saw for the first timefrom his place of
concealmentthat he was blind. Some involuntary motion on his
part caught the quick ear of the blind manbefore he was conscious
of having moved an inch towards himfor he turned suddenly and
cried'Who's there?'

'A man' said the otheradvancing. 'A friend.'

'A stranger!' rejoined the blind man. 'Strangers are not my
friends. What do you do there?'

'I saw your company come outand waited here till they were gone.
I want a lodging.'

'A lodging at this time!' returned Staggpointing towards the dawn
as though he saw it. 'Do you know the day is breaking?'

'I know it' rejoined the other'to my cost. I have been
traversing this iron-hearted town all night.'

'You had better traverse it again' said the blind manpreparing
to descend'till you find some lodgings suitable to your taste. I
don't let any.'

'Stay!' cried the otherholding him by the arm.

'I'll beat this light about that hangdog face of yours (for hangdog
it isif it answers to your voice)and rouse the neighbourhood


besidesif you detain me' said the blind man. 'Let me go. Do
you hear?'

'Do YOU hear!' returned the otherchinking a few shillings
togetherand hurriedly pressing them into his hand. 'I beg
nothing of you. I will pay for the shelter you give me. Death!
Is it much to ask of such as you! I have come from the country
and desire to rest where there are none to question me. I am
faintexhaustedworn outalmost dead. Let me lie downlike a
dogbefore your fire. I ask no more than that. If you would be
rid of meI will depart to-morrow.'

'If a gentleman has been unfortunate on the road' muttered Stagg
yielding to the otherwhopressing on himhad already gained a
footing on the steps--'and can pay for his accommodation--'

'I will pay you with all I have. I am just now past the want of
foodGod knowsand wish but to purchase shelter. What companion
have you below?'

'None.'

'Then fasten your grate thereand show me the way. Quick!'

The blind man complied after a moment's hesitationand they
descended together. The dialogue had passed as hurriedly as the
words could be spokenand they stood in his wretched room before
he had had time to recover from his first surprise.

'May I see where that door leads toand what is beyond?' said the
manglancing keenly round. 'You will not mind that?'

'I will show you myself. Follow meor go before. Take your
choice.'

He bade him lead the wayandby the light of the torch which his
conductor held up for the purposeinspected all three cellars
narrowly. Assured that the blind man had spoken truthand that he
lived there alonethe visitor returned with him to the firstin
which a fire was burningand flung himself with a deep groan upon
the ground before it.

His host pursued his usual occupation without seeming to heed him
any further. But directly he fell asleep--and he noted his falling
into a slumberas readily as the keenest-sighted man could have
done--he knelt down beside himand passed his hand lightly but
carefully over his face and person.

His sleep was checkered with starts and moansand sometimes with a
muttered word or two. His hands were clenchedhis brow bentand
his mouth firmly set. All thisthe blind man accurately marked;
and as if his curiosity were strongly awakenedand he had already
some inkling of his mysteryhe sat watching himif the expression
may be usedand listeninguntil it was broad day.

Chapter 19

Dolly Varden's pretty little head was yet bewildered by various
recollections of the partyand her bright eyes were yet dazzled by
a crowd of imagesdancing before them like motes in the sunbeams
among which the effigy of one partner in particular did especially


figurethe same being a young coachmaker (a master in his own
right) who had given her to understandwhen he handed her into the
chair at partingthat it was his fixed resolve to neglect his
business from that timeand die slowly for the love of her--
Dolly's headand eyesand thoughtsand seven senseswere all in
a state of flutter and confusion for which the party was
accountablealthough it was now three days oldwhenas she was
sitting listlessly at breakfastreading all manner of fortunes
(that is to sayof married and flourishing fortunes) in the
grounds of her teacupa step was heard in the workshopand Mr
Edward Chester was descried through the glass doorstanding among
the rusty locks and keyslike love among the roses--for which apt
comparison the historian may by no means take any credit to
himselfthe same being the inventionin a sentimental moodof
the chaste and modest Miggswhobeholding him from the doorsteps
she was then cleaningdidin her maiden meditationgive
utterance to the simile.

The locksmithwho happened at the moment to have his eyes thrown
upward and his head backwardin an intense communing with Toby
did not see his visitoruntil Mrs Vardenmore watchful than the
resthad desired Sim Tappertit to open the glass door and give him
admission--from which untoward circumstance the good lady argued
(for she could deduce a precious moral from the most trifling
event) that to take a draught of small ale in the morning was to
observe a perniciousirreligiousand Pagan customthe relish
whereof should be left to swineand Satanor at least to Popish
personsand should be shunned by the righteous as a work of sin
and evil. She would no doubt have pursued her admonition much
furtherand would have founded on it a long list of precious
precepts of inestimable valuebut that the young gentleman
standing by in a somewhat uncomfortable and discomfited manner
while she read her spouse this lectureoccasioned her to bring it
to a premature conclusion.

'I'm sure you'll excuse mesir' said Mrs Vardenrising and
curtseying. 'Varden is so very thoughtlessand needs so much
reminding--Simbring a chair here.'

Mr Tappertit obeyedwith a flourish implying that he did so
under protest.

'And you can goSim' said the locksmith.

Mr Tappertit obeyed againstill under protest; and betaking
himself to the workshopbegan seriously to fear that he might find
it necessary to poison his masterbefore his time was out.

In the meantimeEdward returned suitable replies to Mrs Varden's
courtesiesand that lady brightened up very much; so that when he
accepted a dish of tea from the fair hands of Dollyshe was
perfectly agreeable.

'I am sure if there's anything we can do--Vardenor Ior Dolly
either--to serve yousirat any timeyou have only to say it
and it shall be done' said Mrs V.

'I am much obliged to youI am sure' returned Edward. 'You
encourage me to say that I have come here nowto beg your good
offices.'

Mrs Varden was delighted beyond measure.

'It occurred to me that probably your fair daughter might be going


to the Warreneither to-day or to-morrow' said Edwardglancing
at Dolly; 'and if soand you will allow her to take charge of this
letterma'amyou will oblige me more than I can tell you. The
truth isthat while I am very anxious it should reach its
destinationI have particular reasons for not trusting it to any
other conveyance; so that without your helpI am wholly at a loss.'

'She was not going that waysireither to-dayor to-morrownor
indeed all next week' the lady graciously rejoined'but we shall
be very glad to put ourselves out of the way on your accountand
if you wish ityou may depend upon its going to-day. You might
suppose' said Mrs Vardenfrowning at her husband'from Varden's
sitting there so glum and silentthat he objected to this
arrangement; but you must not mind thatsirif you please. It's
his way at home. Out of doorshe can be cheerful and talkative
enough.'

Nowthe fact wasthat the unfortunate locksmithblessing his
stars to find his helpmate in such good humourhad been sitting
with a beaming facehearing this discourse with a joy past all
expression. Wherefore this sudden attack quite took him by
surprise.

'My dear Martha--' he said.

'Oh yesI dare say' interrupted Mrs Vardenwith a smile of
mingled scorn and pleasantry. 'Very dear! We all know that.'

'Nobut my good soul' said Gabriel'you are quite mistaken. You
are indeed. I was delighted to find you so kind and ready. I
waitedmy dearanxiouslyI assure youto hear what you would
say.'

'You waited anxiously' repeated Mrs V. 'Yes! Thank youVarden.
You waitedas you always dothat I might bear the blameif any
came of it. But I am used to it' said the lady with a kind of
solemn titter'and that's my comfort!'

'I give you my wordMartha--' said Gabriel.

'Let me give you MY wordmy dear' interposed his wife with a
Christian smile'that such discussions as these between married
peopleare much better left alone. Thereforeif you please
Vardenwe'll drop the subject. I have no wish to pursue it. I
could. I might say a great deal. But I would rather not. Pray
don't say any more.'

'I don't want to say any more' rejoined the goaded locksmith.

'Well thendon't' said Mrs Varden.

'Nor did I begin itMartha' added the locksmithgood-humouredly
'I must say that.'

'You did not begin itVarden!' exclaimed his wifeopening her
eyes very wide and looking round upon the companyas though she
would sayYou hear this man! 'You did not begin itVarden! But
you shall not say I was out of temper. Noyou did not begin it
oh dear nonot youmy dear!'

'Wellwell' said the locksmith. 'That's settled then.'

'Oh yes' rejoined his wife'quite. If you like to say Dolly
began itmy dearI shall not contradict you. I know my duty.


need know itI am sure. I am often obliged to bear it in mind
when my inclination perhaps would be for the moment to forget it.
Thank youVarden.' And sowith a mighty show of humility and
forgivenessshe folded her handsand looked round againwith a
smile which plainly said'If you desire to see the first and
foremost among female martyrshere she ison view!'

This little incidentillustrative though it was of Mrs Varden's
extraordinary sweetness and amiabilityhad so strong a tendency to
check the conversation and to disconcert all parties but that
excellent ladythat only a few monosyllables were uttered until
Edward withdrew; which he presently didthanking the lady of the
house a great many times for her condescensionand whispering in
Dolly's ear that he would call on the morrowin case there should
happen to be an answer to the note--whichindeedshe knew without
his tellingas Barnaby and his friend Grip had dropped in on the
previous night to prepare her for the visit which was then
terminating.

Gabrielwho had attended Edward to the doorcame back with his
hands in his pockets; andafter fidgeting about the room in a very
uneasy mannerand casting a great many sidelong looks at Mrs
Varden (who with the calmest countenance in the world was five
fathoms deep in the Protestant Manual)inquired of Dolly how she
meant to go. Dolly supposed by the stage-coachand looked at her
lady motherwho finding herself silently appealed todived down
at least another fathom into the Manualand became unconscious of
all earthly things.

'Martha--' said the locksmith.

'I hear youVarden' said his wifewithout rising to the surface.

'I am sorrymy dearyou have such an objection to the Maypole and
old Johnfor otherways as it's a very fine morningand Saturday's
not a busy day with uswe might have all three gone to Chigwell in
the chaiseand had quite a happy day of it.'

Mrs Varden immediately closed the Manualand bursting into tears
requested to be led upstairs.

'What is the matter nowMartha?' inquired the locksmith.

To which Martha rejoined'Oh! don't speak to me' and protested in
agony that if anybody had told her soshe wouldn't have believed
it.

'ButMartha' said Gabrielputting himself in the way as she was
moving off with the aid of Dolly's shoulder'wouldn't have
believed what? Tell me what's wrong now. Do tell me. Upon my
soul I don't know. Do you knowchild? Damme!' cried the
locksmithplucking at his wig in a kind of frenzy'nobody does
knowI verily believebut Miggs!'

'Miggs' said Mrs Varden faintlyand with symptoms of approaching
incoherence'is attached to meand that is sufficient to draw
down hatred upon her in this house. She is a comfort to me
whatever she may be to others.'

'She's no comfort to me' cried Gabrielmade bold by despair.
'She's the misery of my life. She's all the plagues of Egypt in
one.'

'She's considered soI have no doubt' said Mrs Varden. 'I was


prepared for that; it's natural; it's of a piece with the rest.
When you taunt me as you do to my facehow can I wonder that you
taunt her behind her back!' And here the incoherence coming on
very strongMrs Varden weptand laughedand sobbedand
shiveredand hiccoughedand choked; and said she knew it was very
foolish but she couldn't help it; and that when she was dead and
goneperhaps they would be sorry for it--which really under the
circumstances did not appear quite so probable as she seemed to
think--with a great deal more to the same effect. In a wordshe
passed with great decency through all the ceremonies incidental to
such occasions; and being supported upstairswas deposited in a
highly spasmodic state on her own bedwhere Miss Miggs shortly
afterwards flung herself upon the body.

The philosophy of all this wasthat Mrs Varden wanted to go to
Chigwell; that she did not want to make any concession or
explanation; that she would only go on being implored and entreated
so to do; and that she would accept no other terms. Accordingly
after a vast amount of moaning and crying upstairsand much
damping of foreheadsand vinegaring of templesand hartshorning
of nosesand so forth; and after most pathetic adjurations from
Miggsassisted by warm brandy-and-water not over-weakand divers
other cordialsalso of a stimulating qualityadministered at
first in teaspoonfuls and afterwards in increasing dosesand of
which Miss Miggs herself partook as a preventive measure (for
fainting is infectious); after all these remediesand many more
too numerous to mentionbut not to takehad been applied; and
many verbal consolationsmoralreligiousand miscellaneoushad
been super-added thereto; the locksmith humbled himselfand the
end was gained.

'If it's only for the sake of peace and quietnessfather' said
Dollyurging him to go upstairs.

'OhDollDoll' said her good-natured father. 'If you ever have
a husband of your own--'

Dolly glanced at the glass.

'--WellWHEN you have' said the locksmith'never faintmy
darling. More domestic unhappiness has come of easy fainting
Dollthan from all the greater passions put together. Remember
thatmy dearif you would be really happywhich you never can
beif your husband isn't. And a word in your earmy precious.
Never have a Miggs about you!'

With this advice he kissed his blooming daughter on the cheekand
slowly repaired to Mrs Varden's room; where that ladylying all
pale and languid on her couchwas refreshing herself with a sight
of her last new bonnetwhich Miggsas a means of calming her
scattered spiritsdisplayed to the best advantage at her bedside.

'Here's mastermim' said Miggs. 'Ohwhat a happiness it is
when man and wife come round again! Oh graciousto think that him
and her should ever have a word together!' In the energy of these
sentimentswhich were uttered as an apostrophe to the Heavens in
generalMiss Miggs perched the bonnet on the top of her own head
and folding her handsturned on her tears.

'I can't help it' cried Miggs. 'I couldn'tif I was to be
drownded in 'em. She has such a forgiving spirit! She'll forget
all that has passedand go along with yousir--Ohif it was to
the world's endshe'd go along with you.'


Mrs Varden with a faint smile gently reproved her attendant for
this enthusiasmand reminded her at the same time that she was far
too unwell to venture out that day.

'Oh noyou're notmimindeed you're not' said Miggs; 'I repeal
to master; master knows you're notmim. The hairand motion of
the shaywill do you goodmimand you must not give wayyou
must not raly. She must keep upmustn't shesirfor all out
sakes? I was a telling her thatjust now. She must remember us
even if she forgets herself. Master will persuade youmimI'm
sure. There's Miss Dolly's a-going you knowand masterand you
and all so happy and so comfortable. Oh!' cried Miggsturning on
the tears againprevious to quitting the room in great emotion'I
never see such a blessed one as she is for the forgiveness of her
spiritI nevernevernever did. Not more did master neither;
nonor no one--never!'

For five minutes or thereaboutsMrs Varden remained mildly opposed
to all her husband's prayers that she would oblige him by taking a
day's pleasurebut relenting at lengthshe suffered herself to be
persuadedand granting him her free forgiveness (the merit
whereofshe meekly saidrested with the Manual and not with her)
desired that Miggs might come and help her dress. The handmaid
attended promptlyand it is but justice to their joint exertions
to record thatwhen the good lady came downstairs in course of
timecompletely decked out for the journeyshe really looked as
if nothing had happenedand appeared in the very best health
imaginable.

As to Dollythere she was againthe very pink and pattern of good
looksin a smart little cherry-coloured mantlewith a hood of
the same drawn over her headand upon the top of that hooda
little straw hat trimmed with cherry-coloured ribbonsand worn the
merest trifle on one side--just enough in short to make it the
wickedest and most provoking head-dress that ever malicious
milliner devised. And not to speak of the manner in which these
cherry-coloured decorations brightened her eyesor vied with her
lipsor shed a new bloom on her faceshe wore such a cruel little
muffand such a heart-rending pair of shoesand was so
surrounded and hemmed inas it wereby aggravations of all kinds
that when Mr Tappettitholding the horse's headsaw her come out
of the house alonesuch impulses came over him to decoy her into
the chaise and drive off like madthat he would unquestionably
have done itbut for certain uneasy doubts besetting him as to the
shortest way to Gretna Green; whether it was up the street or
downor up the right-hand turning or the left; and whether
supposing all the turnpikes to be carried by stormthe blacksmith
in the end would marry them on credit; which by reason of his
clerical office appearedeven to his excited imaginationso
unlikelythat he hesitated. And while he stood hesitatingand
looking post-chaises-and-six at Dollyout came his master and his
mistressand the constant Miggsand the opportunity was gone for
ever. For now the chaise creaked upon its springsand Mrs Varden
was inside; and now it creaked againand more than everand the
locksmith was inside; and now it bounded onceas if its heart beat
lightlyand Dolly was inside; and now it was gone and its place
was emptyand he and that dreary Miggs were standing in the street
together.

The hearty locksmith was in as good a humour as if nothing had
occurred for the last twelve months to put him out of his way
Dolly was all smiles and gracesand Mrs Varden was agreeable
beyond all precedent. As they jogged through the streets talking
of this thing and of thatwho should be descried upon the pavement


but that very coachmakerlooking so genteel that nobody would have
believed he had ever had anything to do with a coach but riding in
itand bowing like any nobleman. To be sure Dolly was confused
when she bowed againand to be sure the cherry-coloured ribbons
trembled a little when she met his mournful eyewhich seemed to
say'I have kept my wordI have begunthe business is going to
the deviland you're the cause of it.' There he stoodrooted to
the ground: as Dolly saidlike a statue; and as Mrs Varden said
like a pump; till they turned the corner: and when her father
thought it was like his impudenceand her mother wondered what he
meant by itDolly blushed again till her very hood was pale.

But on they wentnot the less merrily for thisand there was the
locksmith in the incautious fulness of his heart 'pulling-up' at
all manner of placesand evincing a most intimate acquaintance
with all the taverns on the roadand all the landlords and all the
landladieswith whomindeedthe little horse was on equally
friendly termsfor he kept on stopping of his own accord. Never
were people so glad to see other people as these landlords and
landladies were to behold Mr Varden and Mrs Varden and Miss Varden;
and wouldn't they get outsaid one; and they really must walk
upstairssaid another; and she would take it ill and be quite
certain they were proud if they wouldn't have a little taste of
somethingsaid a third; and so onthat it was really quite a
Progress rather than a rideand one continued scene of hospitality
from beginning to end. It was pleasant enough to be held in such
esteemnot to mention the refreshments; so Mrs Varden said nothing
at the timeand was all affability and delight--but such a body of
evidence as she collected against the unfortunate locksmith that
dayto be used thereafter as occasion might requirenever was got
together for matrimonial purposes.

In course of time--and in course of a pretty long time toofor
these agreeable interruptions delayed them not a little--they
arrived upon the skirts of the Forestand riding pleasantly on
among the treescame at last to the Maypolewhere the locksmith's
cheerful 'Yoho!' speedily brought to the porch old Johnand after
him young Joeboth of whom were so transfixed at sight of the
ladiesthat for a moment they were perfectly unable to give them
any welcomeand could do nothing but stare.

It was only for a momenthoweverthat Joe forgot himselffor
speedily reviving he thrust his drowsy father aside--to Mr Willet's
mighty and inexpressible indignation--and darting outstood ready
to help them to alight. It was necessary for Dolly to get out
first. Joe had her in his arms;--yesthough for a space of time
no longer than you could count one inJoe had her in his arms.
Here was a glimpse of happiness!

It would be difficult to describe what a flat and commonplace
affair the helping Mrs Varden out afterwards wasbut Joe did it
and did it too with the best grace in the world. Then old John
whoentertaining a dull and foggy sort of idea that Mrs Varden
wasn't fond of himhad been in some doubt whether she might not
have come for purposes of assault and batterytook couragehoped
she was welland offered to conduct her into the house. This
tender being amicably receivedthey marched in together; Joe and
Dolly followedarm-in-arm(happiness again!) and Varden brought
up the rear.

Old John would have it that they must sit in the barand nobody
objectinginto the bar they went. All bars are snug placesbut
the Maypole's was the very snuggestcosiestand completest bar
that ever the wit of man devised. Such amazing bottles in old


oaken pigeon-holes; such gleaming tankards dangling from pegs at
about the same inclination as thirsty men would hold them to their
lips; such sturdy little Dutch kegs ranged in rows on shelves; so
many lemons hanging in separate netsand forming the fragrant
grove already mentioned in this chroniclesuggestivewith goodly
loaves of snowy sugar stowed away hard byof punchidealised
beyond all mortal knowledge; such closetssuch pressessuch
drawers full of pipessuch places for putting things away in
hollow window-seatsall crammed to the throat with eatables
drinkablesor savoury condiments; lastlyand to crown allas
typical of the immense resources of the establishmentand its
defiances to all visitors to cut and come againsuch a stupendous
cheese!

It is a poor heart that never rejoices--it must have been the
poorestweakestand most watery heart that ever beatwhich would
not have warmed towards the Maypole bar. Mrs Varden's did
directly. She could no more have reproached John Willet among
those household godsthe kegs and bottleslemonspipesand
cheesethan she could have stabbed him with his own bright
carving-knife. The order for dinner too--it might have soothed a
savage. 'A bit of fish' said John to the cook'and some lamb
chops (breadedwith plenty of ketchup)and a good saladand a
roast spring chickenwith a dish of sausages and mashed potatoes
or something of that sort.' Something of that sort! The resources
of these inns! To talk carelessly about disheswhich in
themselves were a first-rate holiday kind of dinnersuitable to
one's wedding-dayas something of that sort: meaningif you can't
get a spring chickenany other trifle in the way of poultry will
do--such as a peacockperhaps! The kitchen toowith its great
broad cavernous chimney; the kitchenwhere nothing in the way of
cookery seemed impossible; where you could believe in anything to
eatthey chose to tell you of. Mrs Varden returned from the
contemplation of these wonders to the bar againwith a head quite
dizzy and bewildered. Her housekeeping capacity was not large
enough to comprehend them. She was obliged to go to sleep. Waking
was painin the midst of such immensity.

Dolly in the meanwhilewhose gay heart and head ran upon other
matterspassed out at the garden doorand glancing back now and
then (but of course not wondering whether Joe saw her)tripped
away by a path across the fields with which she was well
acquaintedto discharge her mission at the Warren; and this
deponent hath been informed and verily believesthat you might
have seen many less pleasant objects than the cherry-coloured
mantle and ribbonsas they went fluttering along the green meadows
in the bright light of the daylike giddy things as they were.

Chapter 20

The proud consciousness of her trustand the great importance she
derived from itmight have advertised it to all the house if she
had had to run the gauntlet of its inhabitants; but as Dolly had
played in every dull room and passage many and many a timewhen a
childand had ever since been the humble friend of Miss Haredale
whose foster-sister she wasshe was as free of the building as the
young lady herself. Sousing no greater precaution than holding
her breath and walking on tiptoe as she passed the library door
she went straight to Emma's room as a privileged visitor.

It was the liveliest room in the building. The chamber was sombre


like the rest for the matter of thatbut the presence of youth and
beauty would make a prison cheerful (saving alas! that confinement
withers them)and lend some charms of their own to the gloomiest
scene. Birdsflowersbooksdrawingmusicand a hundred such
graceful tokens of feminine loves and caresfilled it with more of
life and human sympathy than the whole house besides seemed made to
hold. There was heart in the room; and who that has a heartever
fails to recognise the silent presence of another!

Dolly had one undoubtedlyand it was not a tough one either
though there was a little mist of coquettishness about itsuch as
sometimes surrounds that sun of life in its morningand slightly
dims its lustre. Thuswhen Emma rose to greet herand kissing
her affectionately on the cheektold herin her quiet waythat
she had been very unhappythe tears stood in Dolly's eyesand she
felt more sorry than she could tell; but next moment she happened
to raise them to the glassand really there was something there so
exceedingly agreeablethat as she sighedshe smiledand felt
surprisingly consoled.

'I have heard about itmiss' said Dolly'and it's very sad
indeedbut when things are at the worst they are sure to mend.'

'But are you sure they are at the worst?' asked Emma with a smile.

'WhyI don't see how they can very well be more unpromising than
they are; I really don't' said Dolly. 'And I bring something to
begin with.'

'Not from Edward?'

Dolly nodded and smiledand feeling in her pockets (there were
pockets in those days) with an affectation of not being able to
find what she wantedwhich greatly enhanced her importanceat
length produced the letter. As Emma hastily broke the seal and
became absorbed in its contentsDolly's eyesby one of those
strange accidents for which there is no accountingwandered to the
glass again. She could not help wondering whether the coach-maker
suffered very muchand quite pitied the poor man.

It was a long letter--a very long letterwritten close on all four
sides of the sheet of paperand crossed afterwards; but it was not
a consolatory letterfor as Emma read it she stopped from time to
time to put her handkerchief to her eyes. To be sure Dolly
marvelled greatly to see her in so much distressfor to her
thinking a love affair ought to be one of the best jokesand the
slyestmerriest kind of thing in life. But she set it down in her
own mind that all this came from Miss Haredale's being so constant
and that if she would only take on with some other young gentleman-just
in the most innocent way possibleto keep her first lover up
to the mark--she would find herself inexpressibly comforted.

'I am sure that's what I should do if it was me' thought Dolly.
'To make one's sweetheart miserable is well enough and quite right
but to be made miserable one's self is a little too much!'

However it wouldn't do to say soand therefore she sat looking on
in silence. She needed a pretty considerable stretch of patience
for when the long letter had been read once all through it was read
againand when it had been read twice all through it was read
again. During this tedious processDolly beguiled the time in the
most improving manner that occurred to herby curling her hair on
her fingerswith the aid of the looking-glass before mentioned
and giving it some killing twists.


Everything has an end. Even young ladies in love cannot read their
letters for ever. In course of time the packet was folded upand
it only remained to write the answer.

But as this promised to be a work of time likewiseEmma said she
would put it off until after dinnerand that Dolly must dine with
her. As Dolly had made up her mind to do so beforehandshe
required very little pressing; and when they had settled this
pointthey went to walk in the garden.

They strolled up and down the terrace walkstalking incessantly-at
leastDolly never left off once--and making that quarter of the
sad and mournful house quite gay. Not that they talked loudly or
laughed muchbut they were both so very handsomeand it was such
a breezy dayand their light dresses and dark curls appeared so
free and joyous in their abandonmentand Emma was so fairand
Dolly so rosyand Emma so delicately shapedand Dolly so plump
and--in shortthere are no flowers for any garden like such
flowerslet horticulturists say what they mayand both house and
garden seemed to know itand to brighten up sensibly.

After thiscame the dinner and the letter writingand some more
talkingin the course of which Miss Haredale took occasion to
charge upon Dolly certain flirtish and inconstant propensities
which accusations Dolly seemed to think very complimentary indeed
and to be mightily amused with. Finding her quite incorrigible in
this respectEmma suffered her to depart; but not before she had
confided to her that important and never-sufficiently-to-be-takencare-
of answerand endowed her moreover with a pretty little
bracelet as a keepsake. Having clasped it on her armand again
advised her half in jest and half in earnest to amend her roguish
waysfor she knew she was fond of Joe at heart (which Dolly
stoutly deniedwith a great many haughty protestations that she
hoped she could do better than that indeed! and so forth)she bade
her farewell; and after calling her back to give her more
supplementary messages for Edwardthan anybody with tenfold the
gravity of Dolly Varden could be reasonably expected to remember
at length dismissed her.

Dolly bade her good byeand tripping lightly down the stairs
arrived at the dreaded library doorand was about to pass it again
on tiptoewhen it openedand behold! there stood Mr Haredale.
NowDolly had from her childhood associated with this gentleman
the idea of something grim and ghostlyand being at the moment
conscience-stricken besidesthe sight of him threw her into such a
flurry that she could neither acknowledge his presence nor run
awayso she gave a great startand then with downcast eyes stood
still and trembled.

'Come heregirl' said Mr Haredaletaking her by the hand. 'I
want to speak to you.'

'If you pleasesirI'm in a hurry' faltered Dolly'and--you
have frightened me by coming so suddenly upon mesir--I would
rather gosirif you'll be so good as to let me.'

'Immediately' said Mr Haredalewho had by this time led her into
the room and closed the door. You shall go directly. You have
just left Emma?'

'Yessirjust this minute.--Father's waiting for mesirif
you'll please to have the goodness--'


I know. I know' said Mr Haredale. 'Answer me a question. What
did you bring here to-day?'

'Bring heresir?' faltered Dolly.

'You will tell me the truthI am sure. Yes.'

Dolly hesitated for a little whileand somewhat emboldened by his
mannersaid at last'Well thensir. It was a letter.'

'From Mr Edward Chesterof course. And you are the bearer of the
answer?'

Dolly hesitated againand not being able to decide upon any other
course of actionburst into tears.

'You alarm yourself without cause' said Mr Haredale. 'Why are you
so foolish? Surely you can answer me. You know that I have but
to put the question to Emma and learn the truth directly. Have you
the answer with you?'

Dolly had what is popularly called a spirit of her ownand being
now fairly at baymade the best of it.

'Yessir' she rejoinedtrembling and frightened as she was.
'YessirI have. You may kill me if you pleasesirbut I won't
give it up. I'm very sorry--but I won't. Theresir.'

'I commend your firmness and your plain-speaking' said Mr
Haredale. 'Rest assured that I have as little desire to take your
letter as your life. You are a very discreet messenger and a good
girl.'

Not feeling quite certainas she afterwards saidwhether he might
not be 'coming over her' with these complimentsDolly kept as far
from him as she couldcried againand resolved to defend her
pocket (for the letter was there) to the last extremity.

'I have some design' said Mr Haredale after a short silence
during which a smileas he regarded herhad struggled through
the gloom and melancholy that was natural to his face'of
providing a companion for my niece; for her life is a very lonely
one. Would you like the office? You are the oldest friend she
hasand the best entitled to it.'

'I don't knowsir' answered Dollynot sure but he was bantering
her; 'I can't say. I don't know what they might wish at home. I
couldn't give an opinionsir.'

'If your friends had no objectionwould you have any?' said Mr
Haredale. 'Come. There's a plain question; and easy to answer.'

'None at all that I know of sir' replied Dolly. 'I should be very
glad to be near Miss Emma of courseand always am.'

'That's well' said Mr Haredale. 'That is all I had to say. You
are anxious to go. Don't let me detain you.'

Dolly didn't let himnor did she wait for him to tryfor the
words had no sooner passed his lips than she was out of the room
out of the houseand in the fields again.

The first thing to be doneof coursewhen she came to herself and
considered what a flurry she had been inwas to cry afresh; and


the next thingwhen she reflected how well she had got over it
was to laugh heartily. The tears once banished gave place to the
smilesand at last Dolly laughed so much that she was fain to lean
against a treeand give vent to her exultation. When she could
laugh no longerand was quite tiredshe put her head-dress to
rightsdried her eyeslooked back very merrily and triumphantly
at the Warren chimneyswhich were just visibleand resumed her
walk.

The twilight had come onand it was quickly growing duskbut the
path was so familiar to her from frequent traversing that she
hardly thought of thisand certainly felt no uneasiness at being
left alone. Moreoverthere was the bracelet to admire; and when
she had given it a good ruband held it out at arm's lengthit
sparkled and glittered so beautifully on her wristthat to look at
it in every point of view and with every possible turn of the arm
was quite an absorbing business. There was the letter tooand it
looked so mysterious and knowingwhen she took it out of her
pocketand it heldas she knewso much insidethat to turn it
over and overand think about itand wonder how it beganand how
it endedand what it said all throughwas another matter of
constant occupation. Between the bracelet and the letterthere
was quite enough to do without thinking of anything else; and
admiring each by turnsDolly went on gaily.

As she passed through a wicket-gate to where the path was narrow
and lay between two hedges garnished here and there with treesshe
heard a rustling close at handwhich brought her to a sudden stop.
She listened. All was very quietand she went on again--not
absolutely frightenedbut a little quicker than before perhaps
and possibly not quite so much at her easefor a check of that
kind is startling.

She had no sooner moved on againthan she was conscious of the
same soundwhich was like that of a person tramping stealthily
among bushes and brushwood. Looking towards the spot whence it
appeared to comeshe almost fancied she could make out a crouching
figure. She stopped again. All was quiet as before. On she went
once more--decidedly faster now--and tried to sing softly to
herself. It must he the wind.

But how came the wind to blow only when she walkedand cease when
she stood still? She stopped involuntarily as she made the
reflectionand the rustling noise stopped likewise. She was
really frightened nowand was yet hesitating what to dowhen the
bushes crackled and snappedand a man came plunging through them
close before her.

Chapter 21

It was for the moment an inexpressible relief to Dollyto
recognise in the person who forced himself into the path so
abruptlyand now stood directly in her wayHugh of the Maypole
whose name she uttered in a tone of delighted surprise that came
from her heart.

'Was it you?' she said'how glad I am to see you! and how could
you terrify me so!'

In answer to whichhe said nothing at allbut stood quite still
looking at her.


'Did you come to meet me?' asked Dolly.

Hugh noddedand muttered something to the effect that he had been
waiting for herand had expected her sooner.

'I thought it likely they would send' said Dollygreatly
reassured by this.

'Nobody sent me' was his sullen answer. 'I came of my own
accord.'

The rough bearing of this fellowand his wilduncouth appearance
had often filled the girl with a vague apprehension even when other
people were byand had occasioned her to shrink from him
involuntarily. The having him for an unbidden companion in so
solitary a placewith the darkness fast gathering about them
renewed and even increased the alarm she had felt at first.

If his manner had been merely dogged and passively fierceas
usualshe would have had no greater dislike to his company than
she always felt--perhapsindeedwould have been rather glad to
have had him at hand. But there was something of coarse bold
admiration in his lookwhich terrified her very much. She glanced
timidly towards himuncertain whether to go forward or retreat
and he stood gazing at her like a handsome satyr; and so they
remained for some short time without stirring or breaking silence.
At length Dolly took courageshot past himand hurried on.

'Why do you spend so much breath in avoiding me?' said Hugh
accommodating his pace to hersand keeping close at her side.

'I wish to get back as quickly as I canand you walk too near me
answered Dolly.'

'Too near!' said Hughstooping over her so that she could feel his
breath upon her forehead. 'Why too near? You're always proud to
MEmistress.'

'I am proud to no one. You mistake me' answered Dolly. 'Fall
backif you pleaseor go on.'

'Naymistress' he rejoinedendeavouring to draw her arm through
his'I'll walk with you.'

She released herself and clenching her little handstruck him with
right good will. At thisMaypole Hugh burst into a roar of
laughterand passing his arm about her waistheld her in his
strong grasp as easily as if she had been a bird.

'Ha ha ha! Well donemistress! Strike again. You shall beat my
faceand tear my hairand pluck my beard up by the rootsand
welcomefor the sake of your bright eyes. Strike againmistress.
Do. Ha ha ha! I like it.'

'Let me go' she criedendeavouring with both her hands to push
him off. 'Let me go this moment.'

'You had as good be kinder to meSweetlips' said Hugh. 'You had
indeed. Come. Tell me now. Why are you always so proud? I
don't quarrel with you for it. I love you when you're proud. Ha
ha ha! You can't hide your beauty from a poor fellow; that's a
comfort!'


She gave him no answerbut as he had not yet checked her progress
continued to press forward as rapidly as she could. At length
between the hurry she had madeher terrorand the tightness of
his embraceher strength failed herand she could go no further.

'Hugh' cried the panting girl'good Hugh; if you will leave me I
will give you anything--everything I have--and never tell one word
of this to any living creature.'

'You had best not' he answered. 'Harkyelittle doveyou had
best not. All about here know meand what I dare do if I have a
mind. If ever you are going to tellstop when the words are on
your lipsand think of the mischief you'll bringif you doupon
some innocent heads that you wouldn't wish to hurt a hair of.
Bring trouble on meand I'll bring trouble and something more on
them in return. I care no more for them than for so many dogs; not
so much--why should I? I'd sooner kill a man than a dog any day.
I've never been sorry for a man's death in all my lifeand I have
for a dog's.'

There was something so thoroughly savage in the manner of these
expressionsand the looks and gestures by which they were
accompaniedthat her great fear of him gave her new strengthand
enabled her by a sudden effort to extricate herself and run fleetly
from him. But Hugh was as nimblestrongand swift of footas
any man in broad Englandand it was but a fruitless expenditure of
energyfor he had her in his encircling arms again before she had
gone a hundred yards.

'Softlydarling--gently--would you fly from rough Hughthat loves
you as well as any drawing-room gallant?'

'I would' she answeredstruggling to free herself again. 'I
will. Help!'

'A fine for crying out' said Hugh. 'Ha ha ha! A finepretty
onefrom your lips. I pay myself! Ha ha ha!'

'Help! help! help!' As she shrieked with the utmost violence she
could exerta shout was heard in answerand anotherand another.

'Thank Heaven!' cried the girl in an ecstasy. 'Joedear Joethis
way. Help!'

Her assailant pausedand stood irresolute for a momentbut the
shouts drawing nearer and coming quick upon themforced him to a
speedy decision. He released herwhispered with a menacing look
'Tell HIM: and see what follows!' and leaping the hedgewas gone
in an instant. Dolly darted offand fairly ran into Joe Willet's
open arms.

'What is the matter? are you hurt? what was it? who was it? where
is he? what was he like?' with a great many encouraging expressions
and assurances of safetywere the first words Joe poured forth.
But poor little Dolly was so breathless and terrified that for some
time she was quite unable to answer himand hung upon his
shouldersobbing and crying as if her heart would break.

Joe had not the smallest objection to have her hanging on his
shoulder; nonot the leastthough it crushed the cherry-coloured
ribbons sadlyand put the smart little hat out of all shape. But
he couldn't bear to see her cry; it went to his very heart. He
tried to console herbent over herwhispered to her--some say
kissed herbut that's a fable. At any rate he said all the kind


and tender things he could think of and Dolly let him go on and
didn't interrupt him onceand it was a good ten minutes before she
was able to raise her head and thank him.

'What was it that frightened you?' said Joe.

A man whose person was unknown to her had followed hershe
answered; he began by beggingand went on to threats of robbery
which he was on the point of carrying into executionand would
have executedbut for Joe's timely aid. The hesitation and
confusion with which she said thisJoe attributed to the fright
she had sustainedand no suspicion of the truth occurred to him
for a moment.

'Stop when the words are on your lips.' A hundred times that
nightand very often afterwardswhen the disclosure was rising
to her tongueDolly thought of thatand repressed it. A deeply
rooted dread of the man; the conviction that his ferocious nature
once rousedwould stop at nothing; and the strong assurance that
if she impeached himthe full measure of his wrath and vengeance
would be wreaked on Joewho had preserved her; these were
considerations she had not the courage to overcomeand inducements
to secrecy too powerful for her to surmount.

Joefor his partwas a great deal too happy to inquire very
curiously into the matter; and Dolly being yet too tremulous to
walk without assistancethey went forward very slowlyand in his
mind very pleasantlyuntil the Maypole lights were near at hand
twinkling their cheerful welcomewhen Dolly stopped suddenly and
with a half scream exclaimed

'The letter!'

'What letter?' cried Joe.

'That I was carrying--I had it in my hand. My bracelet too' she
saidclasping her wrist. 'I have lost them both.'

'Do you mean just now?' said Joe.

'Either I dropped them thenor they were taken from me' answered
Dollyvainly searching her pocket and rustling her dress. 'They
are goneboth gone. What an unhappy girl I am!' With these words
poor Dollywho to do her justice was quite as sorry for the loss
of the letter as for her braceletfell a-crying againand
bemoaned her fate most movingly.

Joe tried to comfort her with the assurance that directly he had
housed her in the Maypolehe would return to the spot with a
lantern (for it was now quite dark) and make strict search for the
missing articleswhich there was great probability of his finding
as it was not likely that anybody had passed that way sinceand
she was not conscious that they had been forcibly taken from her.
Dolly thanked him very heartily for this offerthough with no
great hope of his quest being successful; and so with many
lamentations on her sideand many hopeful words on hisand much
weakness on the part of Dolly and much tender supporting on the
part of Joethey reached the Maypole bar at lastwhere the
locksmith and his wife and old John were yet keeping high festival.

Mr Willet received the intelligence of Dolly's trouble with that
surprising presence of mind and readiness of speech for which he
was so eminently distinguished above all other men. Mrs Varden
expressed her sympathy for her daughter's distress by scolding her


roundly for being so late; and the honest locksmith divided himself
between condoling with and kissing Dollyand shaking hands
heartily with Joewhom he could not sufficiently praise or thank.

In reference to this latter pointold John was far from agreeing
with his friend; for besides that he by no means approved of an
adventurous spirit in the abstractit occurred to him that if his
son and heir had been seriously damaged in a scufflethe
consequences would assuredly have been expensive and inconvenient
and might perhaps have proved detrimental to the Maypole business.
Whereforeand because he looked with no favourable eye upon young
girlsbut rather considered that they and the whole female sex
were a kind of nonsensical mistake on the part of Naturehe took
occasion to retire and shake his head in private at the boiler;
inspired by which silent oraclehe was moved to give Joe various
stealthy nudges with his elbowas a parental reproof and gentle
admonition to mind his own business and not make a fool of himself.

Joehowevertook down the lantern and lighted it; and arming
himself with a stout stickasked whether Hugh was in the stable.

'He's lying asleep before the kitchen firesir' said Mr Willet.
'What do you want him for?'

'I want him to come with me to look after this bracelet and
letter' answered Joe. 'Halloa there! Hugh!'

Dolly turned pale as deathand felt as if she must faint
forthwith. After a few momentsHugh came staggering in
stretching himself and yawning according to customand presenting
every appearance of having been roused from a sound nap.

'Heresleepy-head' said Joegiving him the lantern. 'Carry
thisand bring the dogand that small cudgel of yours. And woe
betide the fellow if we come upon him.'

'What fellow?' growled Hughrubbing his eyes and shaking himself.

'What fellow?' returned Joewho was in a state of great valour and
bustle; 'a fellow you ought to know of and be more alive about.
It's well for the like of youlazy giant that you areto be
snoring your time away in chimney-cornerswhen honest men's
daughters can't cross even our quiet meadows at nightfall without
being set upon by footpadsand frightened out of their precious
lives.'

'They never rob me' cried Hugh with a laugh. 'I have got nothing
to lose. But I'd as lief knock them at head as any other men. How
many are there?'

'Only one' said Dolly faintlyfor everybody looked at her.

'And what was he likemistress?' said Hugh with a glance at young
Willetso slight and momentary that the scowl it conveyed was lost
on all but her. 'About my height?'

'Not--not so tall' Dolly repliedscarce knowing what she said.

'His dress' said Hughlooking at her keenly'like--like any of
ours now? I know all the people hereaboutsand maybe could give a
guess at the manif I had anything to guide me.'

Dolly faltered and turned paler yet; then answered that he was
wrapped in a loose coat and had his face hidden by a handkerchief


and that she could give no other description of him.

'You wouldn't know him if you saw him thenbelike?' said Hugh with
a malicious grin.

'I should not' answered Dollybursting into tears again. 'I
don't wish to see him. I can't bear to think of him. I can't talk
about him any more. Don't go to look for these thingsMr Joe
pray don't. I entreat you not to go with that man.'

'Not to go with me!' cried Hugh. 'I'm too rough for them all.
They're all afraid of me. Whybless you mistressI've the
tenderest heart alive. I love all the ladiesma'am' said Hugh
turning to the locksmith's wife.

Mrs Varden opined that if he didhe ought to be ashamed of
himself; such sentiments being more consistent (so she argued) with
a benighted Mussulman or wild Islander than with a stanch
Protestant. Arguing from this imperfect state of his moralsMrs
Varden further opined that he had never studied the Manual. Hugh
admitting that he never hadand moreover that he couldn't read
Mrs Varden declared with much severitythat he ought to he even
more ashamed of himself than beforeand strongly recommended him
to save up his pocket-money for the purchase of oneand further to
teach himself the contents with all convenient diligence. She was
still pursuing this train of discoursewhen Hughsomewhat
unceremoniously and irreverentlyfollowed his young master out
and left her to edify the rest of the company. This she proceeded
to doand finding that Mr Willet's eyes were fixed upon her with
an appearance of deep attentiongradually addressed the whole of
her discourse to himwhom she entertained with a moral and
theological lecture of considerable lengthin the conviction that
great workings were taking place in his spirit. The simple truth
washoweverthat Mr Willetalthough his eyes were wide open and
he saw a woman before him whose head by long and steady looking at
seemed to grow bigger and bigger until it filled the whole barwas
to all other intents and purposes fast asleep; and so sat leaning
back in his chair with his hands in his pockets until his son's
return caused him to wake up with a deep sighand a faint
impression that he had been dreaming about pickled pork and greens-a
vision of his slumbers which was no doubt referable to the
circumstance of Mrs Varden's having frequently pronounced the word
'Grace' with much emphasis; which wordentering the portals of Mr
Willet's brain as they stood ajarand coupling itself with the
words 'before meat' which were there ranging aboutdid in time
suggest a particular kind of meat together with that description of
vegetable which is usually its companion.

The search was wholly unsuccessful. Joe had groped along the path
a dozen timesand among the grassand in the dry ditchand in
the hedgebut all in vain. Dollywho was quite inconsolable for
her losswrote a note to Miss Haredale giving her the same account
of it that she had given at the Maypolewhich Joe undertook to
deliver as soon as the family were stirring next day. That done
they sat down to tea in the barwhere there was an uncommon
display of buttered toastand--in order that they might not grow
faint for want of sustenanceand might have a decent haltingplace
or halfway house between dinner and supper--a few savoury
trifles in the shape of great rashers of broiled hamwhich being
well cureddone to a turnand smoking hotsent forth a tempting
and delicious fragrance.

Mrs Varden was seldom very Protestant at mealsunless it happened
that they were underdoneor overdoneor indeed that anything


occurred to put her out of humour. Her spirits rose considerably
on beholding these goodly preparationsand from the nothingness of
good worksshe passed to the somethingness of ham and toast with
great cheerfulness. Nayunder the influence of these wholesome
stimulantsshe sharply reproved her daughter for being low and
despondent (which she considered an unacceptable frame of mind)
and remarkedas she held her own plate for a fresh supplythat it
would be well for Dollywho pined over the loss of a toy and a
sheet of paperif she would reflect upon the voluntary sacrifices
of the missionaries in foreign parts who lived chiefly on salads.

The proceedings of such a day occasion various fluctuations in the
human thermometerand especially in instruments so sensitively and
delicately constructed as Mrs Varden. Thusat dinner Mrs V. stood
at summer heat; genialsmilingand delightful. After dinnerin
the sunshine of the wineshe went up at least half-a-dozen
degreesand was perfectly enchanting. As its effect subsidedshe
fell rapidlywent to sleep for an hour or so at temperateand
woke at something below freezing. Now she was at summer heat
againin the shade; and when tea was overand old Johnproducing
a bottle of cordial from one of the oaken casesinsisted on her
sipping two glasses thereof in slow successionshe stood steadily
at ninety for one hour and a quarter. Profiting by experiencethe
locksmith took advantage of this genial weather to smoke his pipe
in the porchand in consequence of this prudent managementhe was
fully preparedwhen the glass went down againto start homewards
directly.

The horse was accordingly put inand the chaise brought round to
the door. Joewho would on no account be dissuaded from escorting
them until they had passed the most dreary and solitary part of the
roadled out the grey mare at the same time; and having helped
Dolly into her seat (more happiness!) sprung gaily into the saddle.
Thenafter many good nightsand admonitions to wrap upand
glancing of lightsand handing in of cloaks and shawlsthe chaise
rolled awayand Joe trotted beside it--on Dolly's sideno doubt
and pretty close to the wheel too.

Chapter 22

It was a fine bright nightand for all her lowness of spirits
Dolly kept looking up at the stars in a manner so bewitching (and
SHE knew it!) that Joe was clean out of his sensesand plainly
showed that if ever a man were--not to say over head and earsbut
over the Monument and the top of Saint Paul's in lovethat man was
himself. The road was a very good one; not at all a jolting road
or an uneven one; and yet Dolly held the side of the chaise with
one little handall the way. If there had been an executioner
behind him with an uplifted axe ready to chop off his head if he
touched that handJoe couldn't have helped doing it. From putting
his own hand upon it as if by chanceand taking it away again
after a minute or sohe got to riding along without taking it off
at all; as if hethe escortwere bound to do that as an important
part of his dutyand had come out for the purpose. The most
curious circumstance about this little incident wasthat Dolly
didn't seem to know of it. She looked so innocent and unconscious
when she turned her eyes on Joethat it was quite provoking.

She talked though; talked about her frightand about Joe's coming
up to rescue herand about her gratitudeand about her fear that
she might not have thanked him enoughand about their always being


friends from that time forth--and about all that sort of thing.
And when Joe saidnot friends he hopedDolly was quite surprised
and said not enemies she hoped; and when Joe saidcouldn't they be
something much better than eitherDolly all of a sudden found out
a star which was brighter than all the other starsand begged to
call his attention to the sameand was ten thousand times more
innocent and unconscious than ever.

In this manner they travelled alongtalking very little above a
whisperand wishing the road could be stretched out to some dozen
times its natural length--at least that was Joe's desire--whenas
they were getting clear of the forest and emerging on the more
frequented roadthey heard behind them the sound of a horse's feet
at a round trotwhich growing rapidly louder as it drew nearer
elicited a scream from Mrs Vardenand the cry 'a friend!' from the
riderwho now came panting upand checked his horse beside them.

'This man again!' cried Dollyshuddering.

'Hugh!' said Joe. 'What errand are you upon?'

'I come to ride back with you' he answeredglancing covertly at
the locksmith's daughter. 'HE sent me.

'My father!' said poor Joe; adding under his breathwith a very
unfilial apostrophe'Will he never think me man enough to take
care of myself!'

'Aye!' returned Hugh to the first part of the inquiry. 'The roads
are not safe just nowhe saysand you'd better have a companion.'

'Ride on then' said Joe. 'I'm not going to turn yet.'

Hugh compliedand they went on again. It was his whim or humour
to ride immediately before the chaiseand from this position he
constantly turned his headand looked back. Dolly felt that he
looked at herbut she averted her eyes and feared to raise them
onceso great was the dread with which he had inspired her.

This interruptionand the consequent wakefulness of Mrs Varden
who had been nodding in her sleep up to this pointexcept for a
minute or two at a timewhen she roused herself to scold the
locksmith for audaciously taking hold of her to prevent her nodding
herself out of the chaiseput a restraint upon the whispered
conversationand made it difficult of resumption. Indeedbefore
they had gone another mileGabriel stopped at his wife's desire
and that good lady protested she would not hear of Joe's going a
step further on any account whatever. It was in vain for Joe to
protest on the other hand that he was by no means tiredand would
turn back presentlyand would see them safely past such a point
and so forth. Mrs Varden was obdurateand being so was not to be
overcome by mortal agency.

'Good night--if I must say it' said Joesorrowfully.

'Good night' said Dolly. She would have added'Take care of that
manand pray don't trust him' but he had turned his horse's head
and was standing close to them. She had therefore nothing for it
but to suffer Joe to give her hand a gentle squeezeand when the
chaise had gone on for some distanceto look back and wave itas
he still lingered on the spot where they had partedwith the tall
dark figure of Hugh beside him.

What she thought aboutgoing home; and whether the coach-maker


held as favourable a place in her meditations as he had occupied in
the morningis unknown. They reached home at last--at lastfor
it was a long waymade none the shorter by Mrs Varden's grumbling.
Miggs hearing the sound of wheels was at the door immediately.

'Here they areSimmun! Here they are!' cried Miggsclapping her
handsand issuing forth to help her mistress to alight. 'Bring a
chairSimmun. Nowan't you the better for itmim? Don't you
feel more yourself than you would have done if you'd have stopped
at home? Ohgracious! how cold you are! Goodness mesirshe's
a perfect heap of ice.'

'I can't help itmy good girl. You had better take her in to the
fire' said the locksmith.

'Master sounds unfeelingmim' said Miggsin a tone of
commiseration'but such is not his intentionsI'm sure. After
what he has seen of you this dayI never will believe but that he
has a deal more affection in his heart than to speak unkind. Come
in and sit yourself down by the fire; there's a good dear--do.'

Mrs Varden complied. The locksmith followed with his hands in his
pocketsand Mr Tappertit trundled off with the chaise to a
neighbouring stable.

'Marthamy dear' said the locksmithwhen they reached the
parlour'if you'll look to Dolly yourself or let somebody else do
itperhaps it will be only kind and reasonable. She has been
frightenedyou knowand is not at all well to-night.'

In factDolly had thrown herself upon the sofaquite regardless
of all the little finery of which she had been so proud in the
morningand with her face buried in her hands was crying very
much.

At first sight of this phenomenon (for Dolly was by no means
accustomed to displays of this sortrather learning from her
mother's example to avoid them as much as possible) Mrs Varden
expressed her belief that never was any woman so beset as she; that
her life was a continued scene of trial; that whenever she was
disposed to be well and cheerfulso sure were the people around
her to throwby some means or othera damp upon her spirits; and
thatas she had enjoyed herself that dayand Heaven knew it was
very seldom she did enjoy herself so she was now to pay the
penalty. To all such propositions Miggs assented freely. Poor
Dollyhowevergrew none the better for these restorativesbut
rather worseindeed; and seeing that she was really illboth Mrs
Varden and Miggs were moved to compassionand tended her in
earnest.

But even thentheir very kindness shaped itself into their usual
course of policyand though Dolly was in a swoonit was rendered
clear to the meanest capacitythat Mrs Varden was the sufferer.
Thus when Dolly began to get a little betterand passed into that
stage in which matrons hold that remonstrance and argument may be
successfully appliedher mother represented to herwith tears in
her eyesthat if she had been flurried and worried that dayshe
must remember it was the common lot of humanityand in especial of
womankindwho through the whole of their existence must expect no
lessand were bound to make up their minds to meek endurance and
patient resignation. Mrs Varden entreated her to remember that one
of these days she wouldin all probabilityhave to do violence to
her feelings so far as to be married; and that marriageas she
might see every day of her life (and truly she did) was a state


requiring great fortitude and forbearance. She represented to her
in lively coloursthat if she (Mrs V.) had notin steering her
course through this vale of tearsbeen supported by a strong
principle of duty which alone upheld and prevented her from
droopingshe must have been in her grave many years ago; in which
case she desired to know what would have become of that errant
spirit (meaning the locksmith)of whose eye she was the very
appleand in whose path she wasas it werea shining light and
guiding star?

Miss Miggs also put in her word to the same effect. She said that
indeed and indeed Miss Dolly might take pattern by her blessed
motherwhoshe always had saidand always would saythough she
were to be hangeddrawnand quartered for it next minutewas
the mildestamiablestforgivingest-spiritedlongest-sufferingest
female as ever she could have believed; the mere narration of whose
excellencies had worked such a wholesome change in the mind of her
own sister-in-lawthatwhereasbeforeshe and her husband lived
like cat and dogand were in the habit of exchanging brass
candlestickspot-lidsflat-ironsand other such strong
resentmentsthey were now the happiest and affectionatest couple
upon earth; as could be proved any day on application at Golden
Lion Courtnumber twenty-sivinsecond bell-handle on the righthand
doorpost. After glancing at herself as a comparatively
worthless vesselbut still as one of some desertshe besought her
to bear in mind that her aforesaid dear and only mother was of a
weakly constitution and excitable temperamentwho had constantly
to sustain afflictions in domestic lifecompared with which
thieves and robbers were as nothingand yet never sunk down or
gave way to despair or wrathbutin prize-fighting phraseology
always came up to time with a cheerful countenanceand went in to
win as if nothing had happened. When Miggs finished her soloher
mistress struck in againand the two together performed a duet to
the same purpose; the burden beingthat Mrs Varden was persecuted
perfectionand Mr Vardenas the representative of mankind in that
apartmenta creature of vicious and brutal habitsutterly
insensible to the blessings he enjoyed. Of so refined a character
indeedwas their talent of assault under the mask of sympathy
that when Dollyrecoveringembraced her father tenderlyas in
vindication of his goodnessMrs Varden expressed her solemn hope
that this would be a lesson to him for the remainder of his life
and that he would do some little justice to a woman's nature ever
afterwards--in which aspiration Miss Miggsby divers sniffs and
coughsmore significant than the longest orationexpressed her
entire concurrence.

But the great joy of Miggs's heart wasthat she not only picked up
a full account of what had happenedbut had the exquisite delight
of conveying it to Mr Tappertit for his jealousy and torture. For
that gentlemanon account of Dolly's indispositionhad been
requested to take his supper in the workshopand it was conveyed
thither by Miss Miggs's own fair hands.

'Oh Simmun!' said the young lady'such goings on to-day! Oh
gracious meSimmun!'

Mr Tappertitwho was not in the best of humoursand who
disliked Miss Miggs more when she laid her hand on her heart and
panted for breath than at any other timeas her deficiency of
outline was most apparent under such circumstanceseyed her over
in his loftiest styleand deigned to express no curiosity
whatever.

'I never heard the likenor nobody else' pursued Miggs. 'The


idea of interfering with HER. What people can see in her to make
it worth their while to do sothat's the joke--he he he!'

Finding there was a lady in the caseMr Tappertit haughtily
requested his fair friend to be more explicitand demanded to know
what she meant by 'her.'

'Whythat Dolly' said Miggswith an extremely sharp emphasis on
the name. 'Butoh upon my word and honouryoung Joseph Willet is
a brave one; and he do deserve herthat he do.'

'Woman!' said Mr Tappertitjumping off the counter on which he was
seated; 'beware!'

'My starsSimmun!' cried Miggsin affected astonishment. 'You
frighten me to death! What's the matter?'

'There are strings' said Mr Tappertitflourishing his bread-andcheese
knife in the air'in the human heart that had better not be
wibrated. That's what's the matter.'

'Ohvery well--if you're in a huff' cried Miggsturning away.

'Huff or no huff' said Mr Tappertitdetaining her by the wrist.
'What do you meanJezebel? What were you going to say? Answer
me!'

Notwithstanding this uncivil exhortationMiggs gladly did as she
was required; and told him how that their young mistressbeing
alone in the meadows after darkhad been attacked by three or four
tall menwho would have certainly borne her away and perhaps
murdered herbut for the timely arrival of Joseph Willetwho with
his own single hand put them all to flightand rescued her; to the
lasting admiration of his fellow-creatures generallyand to the
eternal love and gratitude of Dolly Varden.

'Very good' said Mr Tappertitfetching a long breath when the
tale was toldand rubbing his hair up till it stood stiff and
straight on end all over his head. 'His days are numbered.'

'OhSimmun!'

'I tell you' said the 'prentice'his days are numbered. Leave
me. Get along with you.'

Miggs departed at his biddingbut less because of his bidding than
because she desired to chuckle in secret. When she had given vent
to her satisfactionshe returned to the parlour; where the
locksmithstimulated by quietness and Tobyhad become talkative
and was disposed to take a cheerful review of the occurrences of
the day. But Mrs Vardenwhose practical religion (as is not
uncommon) was usually of the retrospective ordercut him short by
declaiming on the sinfulness of such junketingsand holding that
it was high time to go to bed. To bed therefore she withdrewwith
an aspect as grim and gloomy as that of the Maypole's own state
couch; and to bed the rest of the establishment soon afterwards
repaired.

Chapter 23

Twilight had given place to night some hoursand it was high noon


in those quarters of the town in which 'the world' condescended to
dwell--the world being thenas nowof very limited dimensions and
easily lodged--when Mr Chester reclined upon a sofa in his
dressing-room in the Templeentertaining himself with a book.

He was dressingas it seemedby easy stagesand having performed
half the journey was taking a long rest. Completely attired as to
his legs and feet in the trimmest fashion of the dayhe had yet
the remainder of his toilet to perform. The coat was stretched
like a refined scarecrowon its separate horse; the waistcoat was
displayed to the best advantage; the various ornamental articles of
dress were severally set out in most alluring order; and yet he lay
dangling his legs between the sofa and the groundas intent upon
his book as if there were nothing but bed before him.

'Upon my honour' he saidat length raising his eyes to the
ceiling with the air of a man who was reflecting seriously on what
he had read; 'upon my honourthe most masterly compositionthe
most delicate thoughtsthe finest code of moralityand the most
gentlemanly sentiments in the universe! Ah NedNedif you would
but form your mind by such preceptswe should have but one common
feeling on every subject that could possibly arise between us!'

This apostrophe was addressedlike the rest of his remarksto
empty air: for Edward was not presentand the father was quite
alone.

'My Lord Chesterfield' he saidpressing his hand tenderly upon
the book as he laid it down'if I could but have profited by your
genius soon enough to have formed my son on the model you have left
to all wise fathersboth he and I would have been rich men.
Shakespeare was undoubtedly very fine in his way; Milton good
though prosy; Lord Bacon deepand decidedly knowing; but the
writer who should be his country's prideis my Lord Chesterfield.'

He became thoughtful againand the toothpick was in requisition.

'I thought I was tolerably accomplished as a man of the world' he
continued'I flattered myself that I was pretty well versed in all
those little arts and graces which distinguish men of the world
from boors and peasantsand separate their character from those
intensely vulgar sentiments which are called the national
character. Apart from any natural prepossession in my own favour
I believed I was. Stillin every page of this enlightened writer
I find some captivating hypocrisy which has never occurred to me
beforeor some superlative piece of selfishness to which I was
utterly a stranger. I should quite blush for myself before this
stupendous creatureif remembering his preceptsone might blush
at anything. An amazing man! a nobleman indeed! any King or Queen
may make a Lordbut only the Devil himself--and the Graces--can
make a Chesterfield.'

Men who are thoroughly false and hollowseldom try to hide those
vices from themselves; and yet in the very act of avowing them
they lay claim to the virtues they feign most to despise. 'For'
say they'this is honestythis is truth. All mankind are like
usbut they have not the candour to avow it.' The more they
affect to deny the existence of any sincerity in the worldthe
more they would be thought to possess it in its boldest shape; and
this is an unconscious compliment to Truth on the part of these
philosopherswhich will turn the laugh against them to the Day of
Judgment.

Mr Chesterhaving extolled his favourite authoras above recited


took up the book again in the excess of his admiration and was
composing himself for a further perusal of its sublime morality
when he was disturbed by a noise at the outer door; occasioned as
it seemed by the endeavours of his servant to obstruct the entrance
of some unwelcome visitor.

'A late hour for an importunate creditor' he saidraising his
eyebrows with as indolent an expression of wonder as if the noise
were in the streetand one with which he had not the smallest
possible concern. 'Much after their accustomed time. The usual
pretence I suppose. No doubt a heavy payment to make up tomorrow.
Poor fellowhe loses timeand time is money as the good proverb
says--I never found it out though. Well. What now? You know I am
not at home.'

'A mansir' replied the servantwho was to the full as cool and
negligent in his way as his master'has brought home the ridingwhip
you lost the other day. I told him you were outbut he said
he was to wait while I brought it inand wouldn't go till I did.'

'He was quite right' returned his master'and you're a blockhead
possessing no judgment or discretion whatever. Tell him to come
inand see that he rubs his shoes for exactly five minutes first.'

The man laid the whip on a chairand withdrew. The masterwho
had only heard his foot upon the ground and had not taken the
trouble to turn round and look at himshut his bookand pursued
the train of ideas his entrance had disturbed.

'If time were money' he saidhandling his snuff-box'I would
compound with my creditorsand give them--let me see--how much a
day? There's my nap after dinner--an hour--they're extremely
welcome to thatand to make the most of it. In the morning
between my breakfast and the paperI could spare them another
hour; in the evening before dinner say another. Three hours a day.
They might pay themselves in callswith interestin twelve
months. I think I shall propose it to them. Ahmy centaurare
you there?'

'Here I am' replied Hughstriding infollowed by a dogas rough
and sullen as himself; 'and trouble enough I've had to get here.
What do you ask me to come forand keep me out when I DO come?'

'My good fellow' returned the otherraising his head a little
from the cushion and carelessly surveying him from top to toe'I
am delighted to see youand to havein your being herethe very
best proof that you are not kept out. How are you?'

'I'm well enough' said Hugh impatiently.

'You look a perfect marvel of health. Sit down.'

'I'd rather stand' said Hugh.

'Please yourself my good fellow' returned Mr Chester rising
slowly pulling off the loose robe he woreand sitting down before
the dressing-glass. 'Please yourself by all means.'

Having said this in the politest and blandest tone possiblehe
went on dressingand took no further notice of his guestwho
stood in the same spot as uncertain what to do nexteyeing him
sulkily from time to time.

'Are you going to speak to memaster?' he saidafter a long


silence.

'My worthy creature' returned Mr Chester'you are a little
ruffled and out of humour. I'll wait till you're quite yourself
again. I am in no hurry.'

This behaviour had its intended effect. It humbled and abashed the
manand made him still more irresolute and uncertain. Hard words
he could have returnedviolence he would have repaid with
interest; but this coolcomplacentcontemptuousself-possessed
receptioncaused him to feel his inferiority more completely than
the most elaborate arguments. Everything contributed to this
effect. His own rough speechcontrasted with the soft persuasive
accents of the other; his rude bearingand Mr Chester's polished
manner; the disorder and negligence of his ragged dressand the
elegant attire he saw before him; with all the unaccustomed
luxuries and comforts of the roomand the silence that gave him
leisure to observe these thingsand feel how ill at ease they made
him; all these influenceswhich have too often some effect on
tutored minds and become of almost resistless power when brought to
bear on such a mind as hisquelled Hugh completely. He moved by
little and little nearer to Mr Chester's chairand glancing over
his shoulder at the reflection of his face in the glassas if
seeking for some encouragement in its expressionsaid at length
with a rough attempt at conciliation

'ARE you going to speak to memasteror am I to go away?'

'Speak you' said Mr Chester'speak yougood fellow. I have
spokenhave I not? I am waiting for you.'

'Whylook'eesir' returned Hugh with increased embarrassment
'am I the man that you privately left your whip with before you
rode away from the Maypoleand told to bring it back whenever he
might want to see you on a certain subject?'

'No doubt the sameor you have a twin brother' said Mr Chester
glancing at the reflection of his anxious face; 'which is not
probableI should say.'

'Then I have comesir' said Hugh'and I have brought it back
and something else along with it. A lettersirit isthat I
took from the person who had charge of it.' As he spokehe laid
upon the dressing-tableDolly's lost epistle. The very letter
that had cost her so much trouble.

'Did you obtain this by forcemy good fellow?' said Mr Chester
casting his eye upon it without the least perceptible surprise or
pleasure.

'Not quite' said Hugh. 'Partly.'

'Who was the messenger from whom you took it?'

'A woman. One Varden's daughter.'

'Oh indeed!' said Mr Chester gaily. 'What else did you take from
her?'

'What else?'

'Yes' said the otherin a drawling mannerfor he was fixing a
very small patch of sticking plaster on a very small pimple near
the corner of his mouth. 'What else?'


'Well a kiss' replied Hughafter some hesitation.

'And what else?'

'Nothing.'

'I think' said Mr Chesterin the same easy toneand smiling
twice or thrice to try if the patch adhered--'I think there was
something else. I have heard a trifle of jewellery spoken of--a
mere trifle--a thing of such little valueindeedthat you may
have forgotten it. Do you remember anything of the kind--such as a
bracelet nowfor instance?'

Hugh with a muttered oath thrust his hand into his breastand
drawing the bracelet forthwrapped in a scrap of haywas about to
lay it on the table likewisewhen his patron stopped his hand and
bade him put it up again.

'You took that for yourself my excellent friend' he said'and may
keep it. I am neither a thief nor a receiver. Don't show it to
me. You had better hide it againand lose no time. Don't let me
see where you put it either' he addedturning away his head.

'You're not a receiver!' said Hugh bluntlydespite the increasing
awe in which he held him. 'What do you call THATmaster?'
striking the letter with his heavy hand.

'I call that quite another thing' said Mr Chester coolly. 'I
shall prove it presentlyas you will see. You are thirstyI
suppose?'

Hugh drew his sleeve across his lipsand gruffly answered yes.

'Step to that closet and bring me a bottle you will see thereand
a glass.'

He obeyed. His patron followed him with his eyesand when his
back was turnedsmiled as he had never done when he stood beside
the mirror. On his return he filled the glassand bade him drink.
That dram despatchedhe poured him out anotherand another.

'How many can you bear?' he saidfilling the glass again.

'As many as you like to give me. Pour on. Fill high. A bumper
with a bead in the middle! Give me enough of this' he addedas
he tossed it down his hairy throat'and I'll do murder if you ask
me!'

'As I don't mean to ask youand you might possibly do it without
being invited if you went on much further' said Mr Chester with
great composurewe will stopif agreeable to youmy good friend
at the next glass. You were drinking before you came here.'

'I always am when I can get it' cried Hugh boisterouslywaving
the empty glass above his headand throwing himself into a rude
dancing attitude. 'I always am. Why not? Ha ha ha! What's so
good to me as this? What ever has been? What else has kept away
the cold on bitter nightsand driven hunger off in starving times?
What else has given me the strength and courage of a manwhen men
would have left me to diea puny child? I should never have had a
man's heart but for this. I should have died in a ditch. Where's
he who when I was a weak and sickly wretchwith trembling legs and
fading sightbade me cheer upas this did? I never knew him; not


I. I drink to the drinkmaster. Ha ha ha!'
'You are an exceedingly cheerful young man' said Mr Chester
putting on his cravat with great deliberationand slightly moving
his head from side to side to settle his chin in its proper place.
'Quite a boon companion.'

'Do you see this handmaster' said Hugh'and this arm?' baring
the brawny limb to the elbow. 'It was once mere skin and boneand
would have been dust in some poor churchyard by this timebut for
the drink.'

'You may cover it' said Mr Chester'it's sufficiently real in
your sleeve.'

'I should never have been spirited up to take a kiss from the proud
little beautymasterbut for the drink' cried Hugh. 'Ha ha ha!
It was a good one. As sweet as honeysuckleI warrant you. I
thank the drink for it. I'll drink to the drink againmaster.
Fill me one more. Come. One more!'

'You are such a promising fellow' said his patronputting on his
waistcoat with great nicetyand taking no heed of this request
'that I must caution you against having too many impulses from the
drinkand getting hung before your time. What's your age?'

'I don't know.'

'At any rate' said Mr Chester'you are young enough to escape
what I may call a natural death for some years to come. How can
you trust yourself in my hands on so short an acquaintancewith a
halter round your neck? What a confiding nature yours must be!'

Hugh fell back a pace or two and surveyed him with a look of
mingled terrorindignationand surprise. Regarding himself in
the glass with the same complacency as beforeand speaking as
smoothly as if he were discussing some pleasant chit-chat of the
townhis patron went on:

'Robbery on the king's highwaymy young friendis a very
dangerous and ticklish occupation. It is pleasantI have no
doubtwhile it lasts; but like many other pleasures in this
transitory worldit seldom lasts long. And really if in the
ingenuousness of youthyou open your heart so readily on the
subjectI am afraid your career will be an extremely short one.'

'How's this?' said Hugh. 'What do you talk of master? Who was it
set me on?'

'Who?' said Mr Chesterwheeling sharply roundand looking full
at him for the first time. 'I didn't hear you. Who was it?'

Hugh falteredand muttered something which was not audible.

'Who was it? I am curious to know' said Mr Chesterwith
surpassing affability. 'Some rustic beauty perhaps? But be
cautiousmy good friend. They are not always to be trusted. Do
take my advice nowand be careful of yourself.' With these words
he turned to the glass againand went on with his toilet.

Hugh would have answered him that hethe questioner himself had
set him onbut the words stuck in his throat. The consummate art
with which his patron had led him to this pointand managed the
whole conversationperfectly baffled him. He did not doubt that


if he had made the retort which was on his lips when Mr Chester
turned round and questioned him so keenlyhe would straightway
have given him into custody and had him dragged before a justice
with the stolen property upon him; in which case it was as certain
he would have been hung as it was that he had been born. The
ascendency which it was the purpose of the man of the world to
establish over this savage instrumentwas gained from that time.
Hugh's submission was complete. He dreaded him beyond description;
and felt that accident and artifice had spun a web about himwhich
at a touch from such a master-hand as hiswould bind him to the
gallows.

With these thoughts passing through his mindand yet wondering at
the very same time how he who came there rioting in the confidence
of this man (as he thought)should be so soon and so thoroughly
subduedHugh stood cowering before himregarding him uneasily
from time to timewhile he finished dressing. When he had done
sohe took up the letterbroke the sealand throwing himself
back in his chairread it leisurely through.

'Very neatly worded upon my life! Quite a woman's letterfull of
what people call tendernessand disinterestednessand heartand
all that sort of thing!'

As he spokehe twisted it upand glancing lazily round at Hugh as
though he would say 'You see this?' held it in the flame of the
candle. When it was in a full blazehe tossed it into the grate
and there it smouldered away.

'It was directed to my son' he saidturning to Hugh'and you did
quite right to bring it here. I opened it on my own
responsibilityand you see what I have done with it. Take this
for your trouble.'

Hugh stepped forward to receive the piece of money he held out to
him. As he put it in his handhe added:

'If you should happen to find anything else of this sortor to
pick up any kind of information you may think I would like to have
bring it herewill youmy good fellow?'

This was said with a smile which implied--or Hugh thought it did-'
fail to do so at your peril!' He answered that he would.

'And don't' said his patronwith an air of the very kindest
patronage'don't be at all downcast or uneasy respecting that
little rashness we have been speaking of. Your neck is as safe in
my handsmy good fellowas though a baby's fingers clasped itI
assure you.--Take another glass. You are quieter now.'

Hugh accepted it from his handand looking stealthily at his
smiling facedrank the contents in silence.

'Don't you--haha!--don't you drink to the drink any more?' said
Mr Chesterin his most winning manner.

'To yousir' was the sullen answerwith something approaching to
a bow. 'I drink to you.'

'Thank you. God bless you. By the byewhat is your namemy good
soul? You are called HughI knowof course--your other name?'

'I have no other name.'


'A very strange fellow! Do you mean that you never knew oneor
that you don't choose to tell it? Which?'

'I'd tell it if I could' said Hughquickly. 'I can't. I have
been always called Hugh; nothing more. I never knewnor sawnor
thought about a father; and I was a boy of six--that's not very
old--when they hung my mother up at Tyburn for a couple of thousand
men to stare at. They might have let her live. She was poor
enough.'

'How very sad!' exclaimed his patronwith a condescending smile.
'I have no doubt she was an exceedingly fine woman.'

'You see that dog of mine?' said Hughabruptly.

'FaithfulI dare say?' rejoined his patronlooking at him through
his glass; 'and immensely clever? Virtuous and gifted animals
whether man or beastalways are so very hideous.'

'Such a dog as thatand one of the same breedwas the only living
thing except me that howled that day' said Hugh. 'Out of the two
thousand odd--there was a larger crowd for its being a woman--the
dog and I alone had any pity. If he'd have been a manhe'd have
been glad to be quit of herfor she had been forced to keep him
lean and half-starved; but being a dogand not having a man's
sensehe was sorry.'

'It was dull of the brutecertainly' said Mr Chester'and very
like a brute.'

Hugh made no rejoinderbut whistling to his dogwho sprung up at
the sound and came jumping and sporting about himbade his
sympathising friend good night.

'Good night; he returned. 'Remember; you're safe with me--quite
safe. So long as you deserve itmy good fellowas I hope you
always willyou have a friend in meon whose silence you may
rely. Now do be careful of yourselfpray doand consider what
jeopardy you might have stood in. Good night! bless you!'

Hugh truckled before the hidden meaning of these words as much as
such a being couldand crept out of the door so submissively and
subserviently--with an airin shortso different from that with
which he had entered--that his patron on being left alonesmiled
more than ever.

'And yet' he saidas he took a pinch of snuff'I do not like
their having hanged his mother. The fellow has a fine eyeand I
am sure she was handsome. But very probably she was coarse--rednosed
perhapsand had clumsy feet. Ayeit was all for the best
no doubt.'

With this comforting reflectionhe put on his coattook a
farewell glance at the glassand summoned his manwho promptly
attendedfollowed by a chair and its two bearers.

'Foh!' said Mr Chester. 'The very atmosphere that centaur has
breathedseems tainted with the cart and ladder. HerePeak.
Bring some scent and sprinkle the floor; and take away the chair he
sat uponand air it; and dash a little of that mixture upon me. I
am stifled!'

The man obeyed; and the room and its master being both purified
nothing remained for Mr Chester but to demand his hatto fold it


jauntily under his armto take his seat in the chair and be
carried off; humming a fashionable tune.

Chapter 24

How the accomplished gentleman spent the evening in the midst of a
dazzling and brilliant circle; how he enchanted all those with
whom he mingled by the grace of his deportmentthe politeness of
his mannerthe vivacity of his conversationand the sweetness of
his voice; how it was observed in every cornerthat Chester was a
man of that happy disposition that nothing ruffled himthat he was
one on whom the world's cares and errors sat lightly as his dress
and in whose smiling face a calm and tranquil mind was constantly
reflected; how honest menwho by instinct knew him better
bowed down before him neverthelessdeferred to his every wordand
courted his favourable notice; how peoplewho really had good in
themwent with the streamand fawned and flatteredand approved
and despised themselves while they did soand yet had not the
courage to resist; howin shorthe was one of those who are
received and cherished in society (as the phrase is) by scores who
individually would shrink from and be repelled by the object of
their lavish regard; are things of coursewhich will suggest
themselves. Matter so commonplace needs but a passing glanceand
there an end.

The despisers of mankind--apart from the mere fools and mimicsof
that creed--are of two sorts. They who believe their merit
neglected and unappreciatedmake up one class; they who receive
adulation and flatteryknowing their own worthlessnesscompose
the other. Be sure that the coldest-hearted misanthropes are ever
of this last order.

Mr Chester sat up in bed next morningsipping his coffeeand
remembering with a kind of contemptuous satisfaction how he had
shone last nightand how he had been caressed and courtedwhen
his servant brought in a very small scrap of dirty papertightly
sealed in two placeson the inside whereof was inscribed in pretty
large text these words: 'A friend. Desiring of a conference.
Immediate. Private. Burn it when you've read it.'

'Where in the name of the Gunpowder Plot did you pick up this?'
said his master.

It was given him by a person then waiting at the doorthe man
replied.

'With a cloak and dagger?' said Mr Chester.

With nothing more threatening about himit appearedthan a
leather apron and a dirty face. 'Let him come in.' In he came--Mr
Tappertit; with his hair still on endand a great lock in his
handwhich he put down on the floor in the middle of the chamber
as if he were about to go through some performances in which it was
a necessary agent.

'Sir' said Mr Tappertit with a low bow'I thank you for this
condescensionand am glad to see you. Pardon the menial office in
which I am engagedsirand extend your sympathies to onewho
humble as his appearance ishas inn'ard workings far above his
station.'


Mr Chester held the bed-curtain farther backand looked at him
with a vague impression that he was some maniacwho had not only
broken open the door of his place of confinementbut had brought
away the lock. Mr Tappertit bowed againand displayed his legs to
the best advantage.

'You have heardsir' said Mr Tappertitlaying his hand upon his
breast'of G. Varden Locksmith and bell-hanger and repairs neatly
executed in town and countryClerkenwellLondon?'

'What then?' asked Mr Chester.

'I'm his 'prenticesir.'

'What THEN?'

'Ahem!' said Mr Tappertit. 'Would you permit me to shut the door
sirand will you furthersirgive me your honour brightthat
what passes between us is in the strictest confidence?'

Mr Chester laid himself calmly down in bed againand turning a
perfectly undisturbed face towards the strange apparitionwhich
had by this time closed the doorbegged him to speak outand to
be as rational as he couldwithout putting himself to any very
great personal inconvenience.

'In the first placesir' said Mr Tappertitproducing a small
pocket-handkerchief and shaking it out of the folds'as I have not
a card about me (for the envy of masters debases us below that
level) allow me to offer the best substitute that circumstances
will admit of. If you will take that in your own handsirand
cast your eye on the right-hand corner' said Mr Tappertit
offering it with a graceful air'you will meet with my
credentials.'

'Thank you' answered Mr Chesterpolitely accepting itand
turning to some blood-red characters at one end. '"Four. Simon
Tappertit. One." Is that the--'

'Without the numberssirthat is my name' replied the 'prentice.
'They are merely intended as directions to the washerwomanand
have no connection with myself or family. YOUR namesir' said Mr
Tappertitlooking very hard at his nightcap'is ChesterI
suppose? You needn't pull it offsirthank you. I observe E. C.
from here. We will take the rest for granted.'

'PrayMr Tappertit' said Mr Chester'has that complicated piece
of ironmongery which you have done me the favour to bring with you
any immediate connection with the business we are to discuss?'

'It has notsir' rejoined the 'prentice. 'It's going to be
fitted on a ware'us-door in Thames Street.'

'Perhapsas that is the case' said Mr Chester'and as it has a
stronger flavour of oil than I usually refresh my bedroom withyou
will oblige me so far as to put it outside the door?'

'By all meanssir' said Mr Tappertitsuiting the action to the
word.

'You'll excuse my mentioning itI hope?'

'Don't apologisesirI beg. And nowif you pleaseto
business.'


During the whole of this dialogueMr Chester had suffered nothing
but his smile of unvarying serenity and politeness to appear upon
his face. Sim Tappertitwho had far too good an opinion of
himself to suspect that anybody could be playing upon himthought
within himself that this was something like the respect to which he
was entitledand drew a comparison from this courteous demeanour
of a strangerby no means favourable to the worthy locksmith.

'From what passes in our house' said Mr Tappertit'I am aware
sirthat your son keeps company with a young lady against your
inclinations. Siryour son has not used me well.'

'Mr Tappertit' said the other'you grieve me beyond description.'

'Thank yousir' replied the 'prentice. 'I'm glad to hear you say
so. He's very proudsiris your son; very haughty.'

'I am afraid he IS haughty' said Mr Chester. 'Do you know I was
really afraid of that before; and you confirm me?'

'To recount the menial offices I've had to do for your sonsir'
said Mr Tappertit; 'the chairs I've had to hand himthe coaches
I've had to call for himthe numerous degrading dutieswholly
unconnected with my indentersthat I've had to do for himwould
fill a family Bible. Besides whichsirhe is but a young man
himself and I do not consider "thank'ee Sim a proper form of
address on those occasions.'

'Mr Tappertit, your wisdom is beyond your years. Pray go on.'

'I thank you for your good opinion, sir,' said Sim, much gratified,
'and will endeavour so to do. Now sir, on this account (and
perhaps for another reason or two which I needn't go into) I am on
your side. And what I tell you is this--that as long as our people
go backwards and forwards, to and fro, up and down, to that there
jolly old Maypole, lettering, and messaging, and fetching and
carrying, you couldn't help your son keeping company with that
young lady by deputy,--not if he was minded night and day by all
the Horse Guards, and every man of 'em in the very fullest
uniform.'

Mr Tappertit stopped to take breath after this, and then started
fresh again.

'Now, sir, I am a coming to the point. You will inquire of me,
how is this to he prevented?" I'll tell you how. If an honest
civilsmiling gentleman like you--'

'Mr Tappertit--really--'

'NonoI'm serious' rejoined the 'prentice'I amupon my soul.
If an honestcivilsmiling gentleman like youwas to talk but
ten minutes to our old woman--that's Mrs Varden--and flatter her up
a bityou'd gain her over for ever. Then there's this point got-that
her daughter Dolly'--here a flush came over Mr Tappertit's
face--'wouldn't be allowed to be a go-between from that time
forward; and till that point's gotthere's nothing ever will
prevent her. Mind that.'

'Mr Tappertityour knowledge of human nature--'

'Wait a minute' said Simfolding his arms with a dreadful
calmness. 'Now I come to THE point. Sirthere is a villain at


that Maypolea monster in human shapea vagabond of the deepest
dyethat unless you get rid of and have kidnapped and carried off
at the very least--nothing less will do--will marry your son to
that young womanas certainly and as surely as if he was the
Archbishop of Canterbury himself. He willsirfor the hatred and
malice that he bears to you; let alone the pleasure of doing a bad
actionwhich to him is its own reward. If you knew how this chap
this Joseph Willet--that's his name--comes backwards and forwards
to our houselibellingand denouncingand threatening youand
how I shudder when I hear himyou'd hate him worse than I do-worse
than I dosir' said Mr Tappertit wildlyputting his hair
up straighterand making a crunching noise with his teeth; 'if
sich a thing is possible.'

'A little private vengeance in thisMr Tappertit?'

'Private vengeancesiror public sentimentor both combined-destroy
him' said Mr Tappertit. 'Miggs says so too. Miggs and me
both say so. We can't bear the plotting and undermining that takes
place. Our souls recoil from it. Barnaby Rudge and Mrs Rudge are
in it likewise; but the villainJoseph Willetis the ringleader.
Their plottings and schemes are known to me and Miggs. If you want
information of 'emapply to us. Put Joseph Willet downsir.
Destroy him. Crush him. And be happy.'

With these wordsMr Tappertitwho seemed to expect no replyand
to hold it as a necessary consequence of his eloquence that his
hearer should be utterly stunneddumbfounderedand overwhelmed
folded his arms so that the palm of each hand rested on the
opposite shoulderand disappeared after the manner of those
mysterious warners of whom he had read in cheap story-books.

'That fellow' said Mr Chesterrelaxing his face when he was
fairly gone'is good practice. I HAVE some command of my
featuresbeyond all doubt. He fully confirms what I suspected
though; and blunt tools are sometimes found of usewhere sharper
instruments would fail. I fear I may be obliged to make great
havoc among these worthy people. A troublesome necessity! I
quite feel for them.'

With that he fell into a quiet slumber:--subsided into such a
gentlepleasant sleepthat it was quite infantine.

Chapter 25

Leaving the favouredand well-receivedand flattered of the
world; him of the world most worldlywho never compromised himself
by an ungentlemanly actionand never was guilty of a manly one; to
lie smilingly asleep--for even sleepworking but little change in
his dissembling facebecame with him a piece of coldconventional
hypocrisy--we follow in the steps of two slow travellers on foot
making towards Chigwell.

Barnaby and his mother. Grip in their companyof course.

The widowto whom each painful mile seemed longer than the last
toiled wearily along; while Barnabyyielding to every inconstant
impulsefluttered here and therenow leaving her far behindnow
lingering far behind himselfnow darting into some by-lane or path
and leaving her to pursue her way aloneuntil he stealthily
emerged again and came upon her with a wild shout of merrimentas


his wayward and capricious nature prompted. Now he would call to
her from the topmost branch of some high tree by the roadside; now
using his tall staff as a leaping-polecome flying over ditch or
hedge or five-barred gate; now run with surprising swiftness for a
mile or more on the straight roadand haltingsport upon a patch
of grass with Grip till she came up. These were his delights; and
when his patient mother heard his merry voiceor looked into his
flushed and healthy faceshe would not have abated them by one sad
word or murmurthough each had been to her a source of suffering
in the same degree as it was to him of pleasure.

It is something to look upon enjoymentso that it be free and
wild and in the face of naturethough it is but the enjoyment of
an idiot. It is something to know that Heaven has left the
capacity of gladness in such a creature's breast; it is something
to be assured thathowever lightly men may crush that faculty in
their fellowsthe Great Creator of mankind imparts it even to his
despised and slighted work. Who would not rather see a poor idiot
happy in the sunlightthan a wise man pining in a darkened jail!

Ye men of gloom and austeritywho paint the face of Infinite
Benevolence with an eternal frown; read in the Everlasting Book
wide open to your viewthe lesson it would teach. Its pictures
are not in black and sombre huesbut bright and glowing tints; its
music--save when ye drown it--is not in sighs and groansbut songs
and cheerful sounds. Listen to the million voices in the summer
airand find one dismal as your own. Rememberif ye canthe
sense of hope and pleasure which every glad return of day awakens
in the breast of all your kind who have not changed their nature;
and learn some wisdom even from the witlesswhen their hearts are
lifted up they know not whyby all the mirth and happiness it
brings.

The widow's breast was full of carewas laden heavily with secret
dread and sorrow; but her boy's gaiety of heart gladdened herand
beguiled the long journey. Sometimes he would bid her lean upon
his armand would keep beside her steadily for a short distance;
but it was more his nature to be rambling to and froand she
better liked to see him free and happyeven than to have him near
herbecause she loved him better than herself.

She had quitted the place to which they were travellingdirectly
after the event which had changed her whole existence; and for twoand-
twenty years had never had courage to revisit it. It was her
native village. How many recollections crowded on her mind when it
appeared in sight!

Two-and-twenty years. Her boy's whole life and history. The last
time she looked back upon those roofs among the treesshe carried
him in her armsan infant. How often since that time had she sat
beside him night and daywatching for the dawn of mind that never
came; how had she fearedand doubtedand yet hopedlong after
conviction forced itself upon her! The little stratagems she had
devised to try himthe little tokens he had given in his childish
way--not of dulness but of something infinitely worseso ghastly
and unchildlike in its cunning--came back as vividly as if but
yesterday had intervened. The room in which they used to be; the
spot in which his cradle stood; heold and elfin-like in facebut
ever dear to hergazing at her with a wild and vacant eyeand
crooning some uncouth song as she sat by and rocked him; every
circumstance of his infancy came thronging backand the most
trivialperhapsthe most distinctly.

His older childhoodtoo; the strange imaginings he had; his terror


of certain senseless things--familiar objects he endowed with life;
the slow and gradual breaking out of that one horrorin which
before his birthhis darkened intellect began; howin the midst
of allshe had found some hope and comfort in his being unlike
another childand had gone on almost believing in the slow
development of his mind until he grew a manand then his childhood
was complete and lasting; one after anotherall these old thoughts
sprung up within herstrong after their long slumber and bitterer
than ever.

She took his arm and they hurried through the village street. It
was the same as it was wont to be in old timesyet different too
and wore another air. The change was in herselfnot it; but she
never thought of thatand wondered at its alterationand where it
layand what it was.

The people all knew Barnabyand the children of the place came
flocking round him--as she remembered to have done with their
fathers and mothers round some silly beggarmanwhen a child
herself. None of them knew her; they passed each well-remembered
houseand yardand homestead; and striking into the fieldswere
soon alone again.

The Warren was the end of their journey. Mr Haredale was walking
in the gardenand seeing them as they passed the iron gate
unlocked itand bade them enter that way.

'At length you have mustered heart to visit the old place' he said
to the widow. 'I am glad you have.'

'For the first timeand the lastsir' she replied.

'The first for many yearsbut not the last?'

'The very last.'

'You mean' said Mr Haredaleregarding her with some surprise
'that having made this effortyou are resolved not to persevere
and are determined to relapse? This is unworthy of you. I have
often told youyou should return here. You would be happier here
than elsewhereI know. As to Barnabyit's quite his home.'

'And Grip's' said Barnabyholding the basket open. The raven
hopped gravely outand perching on his shoulder and addressing
himself to Mr Haredalecried--as a hintperhapsthat some
temperate refreshment would be acceptable--'Polly put the ket-tle
onwe'll all have tea!'

'Hear meMary' said Mr Haredale kindlyas he motioned her to
walk with him towards the house. 'Your life has been an example of
patience and fortitudeexcept in this one particular which has
often given me great pain. It is enough to know that you were
cruelly involved in the calamity which deprived me of an only
brotherand Emma of her fatherwithout being obliged to suppose
(as I sometimes am) that you associate us with the author of our
joint misfortunes.'

'Associate you with himsir!' she cried.

'Indeed' said Mr Haredale'I think you do. I almost believe
that because your husband was bound by so many ties to our
relationand died in his service and defenceyou have come in
some sort to connect us with his murder.'


'Alas!' she answered. 'You little know my heartsir. You little
know the truth!'

'It is natural you should do so; it is very probable you may
without being conscious of it' said Mr Haredalespeaking more to
himself than her. 'We are a fallen house. Moneydispensed with
the most lavish handwould be a poor recompense for sufferings
like yours; and thinly scattered by hands so pinched and tied as
oursit becomes a miserable mockery. I feel it soGod knows' he
addedhastily. 'Why should I wonder if she does!'

'You do me wrongdear sirindeed' she rejoined with great
earnestness; 'and yet when you come to hear what I desire your
leave to say--'

'I shall find my doubts confirmed?' he saidobserving that she
faltered and became confused. 'Well!'

He quickened his pace for a few stepsbut fell back again to her
sideand said:

'And have you come all this way at lastsolely to speak to me?'

She answered'Yes.'

'A curse' he muttered'upon the wretched state of us proud
beggarsfrom whom the poor and rich are equally at a distance; the
one being forced to treat us with a show of cold respect; the other
condescending to us in their every deed and wordand keeping more
aloofthe nearer they approach us.--Whyif it were pain to you
(as it must have been) to break for this slight purpose the chain
of habit forged through two-and-twenty yearscould you not let me
know your wishand beg me to come to you?'

'There was not timesir' she rejoined. 'I took my resolution
but last nightand taking itfelt that I must not lose a day--a
day! an hour--in having speech with you.'

They had by this time reached the house. Mr Haredale paused for a
momentand looked at her as if surprised by the energy of her
manner. Observinghoweverthat she took no heed of himbut
glanced upshudderingat the old walls with which such horrors
were connected in her mindhe led her by a private stair into his
librarywhere Emma was seated in a windowreading.

The young ladyseeing who approachedhastily rose and laid aside
her bookand with many kind wordsand not without tearsgave her
a warm and earnest welcome. But the widow shrunk from her embrace
as though she feared herand sunk down trembling on a chair.

'It is the return to this place after so long an absence' said
Emma gently. 'Pray ringdear uncle--or stay--Barnaby will run
himself and ask for wine--'

'Not for the world' she cried. 'It would have another taste--I
could not touch it. I want but a minute's rest. Nothing but
that.'

Miss Haredale stood beside her chairregarding her with silent
pity. She remained for a little time quite still; then rose and
turned to Mr Haredalewho had sat down in his easy chairand was
contemplating her with fixed attention.

The tale connected with the mansion borne in mindit seemedas


has been already saidthe chosen theatre for such a deed as it had
known. The room in which this group were now assembled--hard by
the very chamber where the act was done--dulldarkand sombre;
heavy with worm-eaten books; deadened and shut in by faded
hangingsmuffling every sound; shadowed mournfully by trees whose
rustling boughs gave ever and anon a spectral knocking at the
glass; worebeyond all others in the housea ghostlygloomy air.
Nor were the group assembled thereunfitting tenants of the spot.
The widowwith her marked and startling face and downcast eyes; Mr
Haredale stern and despondent ever; his niece beside himlikeyet
most unlikethe picture of her fatherwhich gazed reproachfully
down upon them from the blackened wall; Barnabywith his vacant
look and restless eye; were all in keeping with the placeand
actors in the legend. Naythe very ravenwho had hopped upon the
table and with the air of some old necromancer appeared to be
profoundly studying a great folio volume that lay open on a desk
was strictly in unison with the restand looked like the embodied
spirit of evil biding his time of mischief.

'I scarcely know' said the widowbreaking silence'how to begin.
You will think my mind disordered.'

'The whole tenor of your quiet and reproachless life since you were
last here' returned Mr Haredalemildly'shall bear witness for
you. Why do you fear to awaken such a suspicion? You do not speak
to strangers. You have not to claim our interest or consideration
for the first time. Be more yourself. Take heart. Any advice or
assistance that I can give youyou know is yours of rightand
freely yours.'

'What if I camesir' she rejoined'I who have but one other
friend on earthto reject your aid from this momentand to say
that henceforth I launch myself upon the worldalone and
unassistedto sink or swim as Heaven may decree!'

'You would haveif you came to me for such a purpose' said Mr
Haredale calmly'some reason to assign for conduct so
extraordinarywhich--if one may entertain the possibility of
anything so wild and strange--would have its weightof course.'

'Thatsir' she answered'is the misery of my distress. I can
give no reason whatever. My own bare word is all that I can offer.
It is my dutymy imperative and bounden duty. If I did not
discharge itI should be a base and guilty wretch. Having said
thatmy lips are sealedand I can say no more.'

As though she felt relieved at having said so muchand had nerved
herself to the remainder of her taskshe spoke from this time with
a firmer voice and heightened courage.

'Heaven is my witnessas my own heart is--and yoursdear young
ladywill speak for meI know--that I have livedsince that time
we all have bitter reason to rememberin unchanging devotionand
gratitude to this family. Heaven is my witness that go where I
mayI shall preserve those feelings unimpaired. And it is my
witnesstoothat they alone impel me to the course I must take
and from which nothing now shall turn meas I hope for mercy.'

'These are strange riddles' said Mr Haredale.

'In this worldsir' she replied'they mayperhapsnever be
explained. In anotherthe Truth will be discovered in its own
good time. And may that time' she added in a low voice'be far
distant!'


'Let me be sure' said Mr Haredale'that I understand youfor I
am doubtful of my own senses. Do you mean that you are resolved
voluntarily to deprive yourself of those means of support you have
received from us so long--that you are determined to resign the
annuity we settled on you twenty years ago--to leave houseand
homeand goodsand begin life anew--and thisfor some secret
reason or monstrous fancy which is incapable of explanationwhich
only now existsand has been dormant all this time? In the name
of Godunder what delusion are you labouring?'

'As I am deeply thankful' she made answer'for the kindness of
thosealive and deadwho have owned this house; and as I would
not have its roof fall down and crush meor its very walls drip
bloodmy name being spoken in their hearing; I never will again
subsist upon their bountyor let it help me to subsistence. You
do not know' she addedsuddenly'to what uses it may be applied;
into what hands it may pass. I doand I renounce it.'

'Surely' said Mr Haredale'its uses rest with you.'

'They did. They rest with me no longer. It may be--it IS--devoted
to purposes that mock the dead in their graves. It never can
prosper with me. It will bring some other heavy judgement on the
head of my dear sonwhose innocence will suffer for his mother's
guilt.'

'What words are these!' cried Mr Haredaleregarding her with
wonder. 'Among what associates have you fallen? Into what guilt
have you ever been betrayed?'

'I am guiltyand yet innocent; wrongyet right; good in
intentionthough constrained to shield and aid the bad. Ask me no
more questionssir; but believe that I am rather to be pitied than
condemned. I must leave my house to-morrowfor while I stay
thereit is haunted. My future dwellingif I am to live in
peacemust be a secret. If my poor boy should ever stray this
waydo not tempt him to disclose it or have him watched when he
returns; for if we are huntedwe must fly again. And now this
load is off my mindI beseech you--and youdear Miss Haredale
too--to trust me if you canand think of me kindly as you have
been used to do. If I die and cannot tell my secret even then (for
that may come to pass)it will sit the lighter on my breast in
that hour for this day's work; and on that dayand every day until
it comesI will pray for and thank you bothand trouble you no
more.

With thatshe would have left thembut they detained herand
with many soothing words and kind entreatiesbesought her to
consider what she didand above all to repose more freely upon
themand say what weighed so sorely on her mind. Finding her deaf
to their persuasionsMr Haredale suggestedas a last resource
that she should confide in Emmaof whomas a young person and one
of her own sexshe might stand in less dread than of himself.
From this proposalhowevershe recoiled with the same
indescribable repugnance she had manifested when they met. The
utmost that could be wrung from her wasa promise that she would
receive Mr Haredale at her own house next eveningand in the mean
time reconsider her determination and their dissuasions--though any
change on her partas she told themwas quite hopeless. This
condition made at lastthey reluctantly suffered her to depart
since she would neither eat nor drink within the house; and she
and Barnabyand Gripaccordingly went out as they had comeby
the private stair and garden-gate; seeing and being seen of no one


by the way.

It was remarkable in the raven that during the whole interview he
had kept his eye on his book with exactly the air of a very sly
human rascalwhounder the mask of pretending to read hardwas
listening to everything. He still appeared to have the
conversation very strongly in his mindfor althoughwhen they
were alone againhe issued orders for the instant preparation of
innumerable kettles for purposes of teahe was thoughtfuland
rather seemed to do so from an abstract sense of dutythan with
any regard to making himself agreeableor being what is commonly
called good company.

They were to return by the coach. As there was an interval of
full two hours before it startedand they needed rest and some
refreshmentBarnaby begged hard for a visit to the Maypole. But
his motherwho had no wish to be recognised by any of those who
had known her long agoand who feared besides that Mr Haredale
mighton second thoughtsdespatch some messenger to that place of
entertainment in quest of herproposed to wait in the churchyard
instead. As it was easy for Barnaby to buy and carry thither such
humble viands as they requiredhe cheerfully assentedand in the
churchyard they sat down to take their frugal dinner.

Here againthe raven was in a highly reflective state; walking up
and down when he had dinedwith an air of elderly complacency
which was strongly suggestive of his having his hands under his
coat-tails; and appearing to read the tombstones with a very
critical taste. Sometimesafter a long inspection of an epitaph
he would strop his beak upon the grave to which it referredand
cry in his hoarse tones'I'm a devilI'm a devilI'm a devil!'
but whether he addressed his observations to any supposed person
belowor merely threw them off as a general remarkis matter of
uncertainty.

It was a quiet pretty spotbut a sad one for Barnaby's mother; for
Mr Reuben Haredale lay thereand near the vault in which his ashes
restedwas a stone to the memory of her own husbandwith a brief
inscription recording how and when he had lost his life. She sat
herethoughtful and apartuntil their time was outand the
distant horn told that the coach was coming.

Barnabywho had been sleeping on the grasssprung up quickly at
the sound; and Gripwho appeared to understand it equally well
walked into his basket straightwayentreating society in general
(as though he intended a kind of satire upon them in connection
with churchyards) never to say die on any terms. They were soon on
the coach-top and rolling along the road.

It went round by the Maypoleand stopped at the door. Joe was
from homeand Hugh came sluggishly out to hand up the parcel that
it called for. There was no fear of old John coming out. They
could see him from the coach-roof fast asleep in his cosy bar. It
was a part of John's character. He made a point of going to sleep
at the coach's time. He despised gadding about; he looked upon
coaches as things that ought to be indicted; as disturbers of the
peace of mankind; as restlessbustlingbusyhorn-blowing
contrivancesquite beneath the dignity of menand only suited to
giddy girls that did nothing but chatter and go a-shopping. 'We
know nothing about coaches heresir' John would sayif any
unlucky stranger made inquiry touching the offensive vehicles; 'we
don't book for 'em; we'd rather not; they're more trouble than
they're worthwith their noise and rattle. If you like to wait
for 'em you can; but we don't know anything about 'em; they may


call and they may not--there's a carrier--he was looked upon as
quite good enough for uswhen I was a boy.'

She dropped her veil as Hugh climbed upand while he hung behind
and talked to Barnaby in whispers. But neither he nor any other
person spoke to heror noticed heror had any curiosity about
her; and soan alienshe visited and left the village where she
had been bornand had lived a merry childa comely girla happy
wife--where she had known all her enjoyment of lifeand had
entered on its hardest sorrows.

Chapter 26

'And you're not surprised to hear thisVarden?' said Mr Haredale.
'Well! You and she have always been the best friendsand you
should understand her if anybody does.'

'I ask your pardonsir' rejoined the locksmith. 'I didn't say I
understood her. I wouldn't have the presumption to say that of any
woman. It's not so easily done. But I am not so much surprised
siras you expected me to becertainly.'

'May I ask why notmy good friend?'

'I have seensir' returned the locksmith with evident reluctance
'I have seen in connection with hersomething that has filled me
with distrust and uneasiness. She has made bad friendshowor
whenI don't know; but that her house is a refuge for one robber
and cut-throat at leastI am certain. Theresir! Now it's out.'

'Varden!'

'My own eyessirare my witnessesand for her sake I would be
willingly half-blindif I could but have the pleasure of
mistrusting 'em. I have kept the secret till nowand it will go
no further than yourselfI know; but I tell you that with my own
eyes--broad awake--I sawin the passage of her house one evening
after darkthe highwayman who robbed and wounded Mr Edward
Chesterand on the same night threatened me.'

'And you made no effort to detain him?' said Mr Haredale quickly.

'Sir' returned the locksmith'she herself prevented me--held me
with all her strengthand hung about me until he had got clear
off.' And having gone so farhe related circumstantially all that
had passed upon the night in question.

This dialogue was held in a low tone in the locksmith's little
parlourinto which honest Gabriel had shown his visitor on his
arrival. Mr Haredale had called upon him to entreat his company to
the widow'sthat he might have the assistance of his persuasion
and influence; and out of this circumstance the conversation had
arisen.

'I forbore' said Gabriel'from repeating one word of this to
anybodyas it could do her no good and might do her great harm. I
thought and hopedto say the truththat she would come to meand
talk to me about itand tell me how it was; but though I have
purposely put myself in her way more than once or twiceshe has
never touched upon the subject--except by a look. And indeed'
said the good-natured locksmith'there was a good deal in the


lookmore than could have been put into a great many words. It
said among other matters "Don't ask me anything" so imploringly
that I didn't ask her anything. You'll think me an old foolI
knowsir. If it's any relief to call me onepray do.'

'I am greatly disturbed by what you tell me' said Mr Haredale
after a silence. 'What meaning do you attach to it?'

The locksmith shook his headand looked doubtfully out of window
at the failing light.

'She cannot have married again' said Mr Haredale.

'Not without our knowledge surelysir.'

'She may have done soin the fear that it would leadif knownto
some objection or estrangement. Suppose she married incautiously-it
is not improbablefor her existence has been a lonely and
monotonous one for many years--and the man turned out a ruffian
she would be anxious to screen himand yet would revolt from his
crimes. This might be. It bears strongly on the whole drift of
her discourse yesterdayand would quite explain her conduct. Do
you suppose Barnaby is privy to these circumstances?'

'Quite impossible to saysir' returned the locksmithshaking his
head again: 'and next to impossible to find out from him. If what
you suppose is really the caseI tremble for the lad--a notable
personsirto put to bad uses--'

'It is not possibleVarden' said Mr Haredalein a still lower
tone of voice than he had spoken yet'that we have been blinded
and deceived by this woman from the beginning? It is not possible
that this connection was formed in her husband's lifetimeand led
to his and my brother's--'

'Good Godsir' cried Gabrielinterrupting him'don't entertain
such dark thoughts for a moment. Five-and-twenty years agowhere
was there a girl like her? A gayhandsomelaughingbright-eyed
damsel! Think what she wassir. It makes my heart ache noweven
nowthough I'm an old manwith a woman for a daughterto think
what she was and what she is. We all changebut that's with Time;
Time does his work honestlyand I don't mind him. A fig for Time
sir. Use him welland he's a hearty fellowand scorns to have
you at a disadvantage. But care and suffering (and those have
changed her) are devilssir--secretstealthyundermining devils-who
tread down the brightest flowers in Edenand do more havoc in
a month than Time does in a year. Picture to yourself for one
minute what Mary was before they went to work with her fresh heart
and face--do her that justice--and say whether such a thing is
possible.'

'You're a good fellowVarden' said Mr Haredale'and are quite
right. I have brooded on that subject so longthat every breath
of suspicion carries me back to it. You are quite right.'

'It isn'tsir' cried the locksmith with brightened eyesand
sturdyhonest voice; 'it isn't because I courted her before Rudge
and failedthat I say she was too good for him. She would have
been as much too good for me. But she WAS too good for him; he
wasn't free and frank enough for her. I don't reproach his memory
with itpoor fellow; I only want to put her before you as she
really was. For myselfI'll keep her old picture in my mind; and
thinking of thatand what has altered herI'll stand her friend
and try to win her back to peace. And dammesir' cried Gabriel


'with your pardon for the wordI'd do the same if she had married
fifty highwaymen in a twelvemonth; and think it in the Protestant
Manual toothough Martha said it wasn'ttooth and nailtill
doomsday!'

If the dark little parlour had been filled with a dense fogwhich
clearing away in an instantleft it all radiance and brightness
it could not have been more suddenly cheered than by this outbreak
on the part of the hearty locksmith. In a voice nearly as full and
round as his ownMr Haredale cried 'Well said!' and bade him come
away without more parley. The locksmith complied right willingly;
and both getting into a hackney coach which was waiting at the
doordrove off straightway.

They alighted at the street cornerand dismissing their
conveyancewalked to the house. To their first knock at the door
there was no response. A second met with the like result. But in
answer to the thirdwhich was of a more vigorous kindthe parlour
window-sash was gently raisedand a musical voice cried:

'Haredalemy dear fellowI am extremely glad to see you. How
very much you have improved in your appearance since our last
meeting! I never saw you looking better. HOW do you do?'

Mr Haredale turned his eyes towards the casement whence the voice
proceededthough there was no need to do soto recognise the
speakerand Mr Chester waved his handand smiled a courteous
welcome.

'The door will be opened immediately' he said. 'There is nobody
but a very dilapidated female to perform such offices. You will
excuse her infirmities? If she were in a more elevated station of
societyshe would be gouty. Being but a hewer of wood and drawer
of watershe is rheumatic. My dear Haredalethese are natural
class distinctionsdepend upon it.'

Mr Haredalewhose face resumed its lowering and distrustful look
the moment he heard the voiceinclined his head stifflyand
turned his back upon the speaker.

'Not opened yet' said Mr Chester. 'Dear me! I hope the aged soul
has not caught her foot in some unlucky cobweb by the way. She is
there at last! Come inI beg!'

Mr Haredale enteredfollowed by the locksmith. Turning with a
look of great astonishment to the old woman who had opened the
doorhe inquired for Mrs Rudge--for Barnaby. They were both gone
she repliedwagging her ancient headfor good. There was a
gentleman in the parlourwho perhaps could tell them more. That
was all SHE knew.

'Praysir' said Mr Haredalepresenting himself before this new
tenant'where is the person whom I came here to see?'

'My dear friend' he returned'I have not the least idea.'

'Your trifling is ill-timed' retorted the other in a suppressed
tone and voice'and its subject ill-chosen. Reserve it for those
who are your friendsand do not expend it on me. I lay no claim
to the distinctionand have the self-denial to reject it.'

'My deargood sir' said Mr Chester'you are heated with walking.
Sit downI beg. Our friend is--'


'Is but a plain honest man' returned Mr Haredale'and quite
unworthy of your notice.'

'Gabriel Varden by namesir' said the locksmith bluntly.

'A worthy English yeoman!' said Mr Chester. 'A most worthy
yeomanof whom I have frequently heard my son Ned--darling fellow-speak
and have often wished to see. Vardenmy good friendI am
glad to know you. You wonder now' he saidturning languidly to
Mr Haredale'to see me here. NowI am sure you do.'

Mr Haredale glanced at him--not fondly or admiringly--smiledand
held his peace.

'The mystery is solved in a moment' said Mr Chester; 'in a moment.
Will you step aside with me one instant. You remember our little
compact in reference to Nedand your dear nieceHaredale? You
remember the list of assistants in their innocent intrigue? You
remember these two people being among them? My dear fellow
congratulate yourselfand me. I have bought them off.'

'You have done what?' said Mr Haredale.

'Bought them off' returned his smiling friend. 'I have found it
necessary to take some active steps towards setting this boy and
girl attachment quite at restand have begun by removing these two
agents. You are surprised? Who CAN withstand the influence of a
little money! They wanted itand have been bought off. We have
nothing more to fear from them. They are gone.'

'Gone!' echoed Mr Haredale. 'Where?'

'My dear fellow--and you must permit me to say againthat you
never looked so young; so positively boyish as you do to-night--the
Lord knows where; I believe Columbus himself wouldn't find them.
Between you and me they have their hidden reasonsbut upon that
point I have pledged myself to secrecy. She appointed to see you
here to-nightI knowbut found it inconvenientand couldn't
wait. Here is the key of the door. I am afraid you'll find it
inconveniently large; but as the tenement is yoursyour goodnature
will excuse thatHaredaleI am certain!'

Chapter 27

Mr Haredale stood in the widow's parlour with the door-key in his
handgazing by turns at Mr Chester and at Gabriel Vardenand
occasionally glancing downward at the key as in the hope that of
its own accord it would unlock the mystery; until Mr Chester
putting on his hat and glovesand sweetly inquiring whether they
were walking in the same directionrecalled him to himself.

'No' he said. 'Our roads diverge--widelyas you know. For the
presentI shall remain here.'

'You will be hippedHaredale; you will be miserablemelancholy
utterly wretched' returned the other. 'It's a place of the very
last description for a man of your temper. I know it will make you
very miserable.'

'Let it' said Mr Haredalesitting down; 'and thrive upon the
thought. Good night!'


Feigning to be wholly unconscious of the abrupt wave of the hand
which rendered this farewell tantamount to a dismissalMr Chester
retorted with a bland and heartfelt benedictionand inquired of
Gabriel in what direction HE was going.

'Yourssirwould be too much honour for the like of me' replied
the locksmithhesitating.

'I wish you to remain here a little whileVarden' said Mr
Haredalewithout looking towards them. 'I have a word or two to
say to you.'

'I will not intrude upon your conference another moment' said Mr
Chester with inconceivable politeness. 'May it be satisfactory to
you both! God bless you!' So sayingand bestowing upon the
locksmith a most refulgent smilehe left them.

'A deplorably constituted creaturethat rugged person' he said
as he walked along the street; 'he is an atrocity that carries its
own punishment along with it--a bear that gnaws himself. And here
is one of the inestimable advantages of having a perfect command
over one's inclinations. I have been tempted in these two short
interviewsto draw upon that fellowfifty times. Five men in six
would have yielded to the impulse. By suppressing mineI wound
him deeper and more keenly than if I were the best swordsman in all
Europeand he the worst. You are the wise man's very last
resource' he saidtapping the hilt of his weapon; 'we can but
appeal to you when all else is said and done. To come to you
beforeand thereby spare our adversaries so muchis a barbarian
mode of warfarequite unworthy of any man with the remotest
pretensions to delicacy of feelingor refinement.'

He smiled so very pleasantly as he communed with himself after this
mannerthat a beggar was emboldened to follow for almsand to dog
his footsteps for some distance. He was gratified by the
circumstancefeeling it complimentary to his power of featureand
as a reward suffered the man to follow him until he called a chair
when he graciously dismissed him with a fervent blessing.

'Which is as easy as cursing' he wisely addedas he took his
seat'and more becoming to the face.--To Clerkenwellmy good
creaturesif you please!' The chairmen were rendered quite
vivacious by having such a courteous burdenand to Clerkenwell
they went at a fair round trot.

Alighting at a certain point he had indicated to them upon the
roadand paying them something less than they expected from a fare
of such gentle speechhe turned into the street in which the
locksmith dweltand presently stood beneath the shadow of the
Golden Key. Mr Tappertitwho was hard at work by lamplightin a
corner of the workshopremained unconscious of his presence until
a hand upon his shoulder made him start and turn his head.

'Industry' said Mr Chester'is the soul of businessand the
keystone of prosperity. Mr TappertitI shall expect you to invite
me to dinner when you are Lord Mayor of London.'

'Sir' returned the 'prenticelaying down his hammerand rubbing
his nose on the back of a very sooty hand'I scorn the Lord Mayor
and everything that belongs to him. We must have another state of
societysirbefore you catch me being Lord Mayor. How de dosir?'

'The betterMr Tappertitfor looking into your ingenuous face


once more. I hope you are well.'

'I am as wellsir' said Simstanding up to get nearer to his
earand whispering hoarsely'as any man can be under the
aggrawations to which I am exposed. My life's a burden to me. If
it wasn't for wengeanceI'd play at pitch and toss with it on the
losing hazard.'

'Is Mrs Varden at home?' said Mr Chester.

'Sir' returned Simeyeing him over with a look of concentrated
expression--'she is. Did you wish to see her?'

Mr Chester nodded.

'Then come this waysir' said Simwiping his face upon his
apron. 'Follow mesir.--Would you permit me to whisper in your
earone half a second?'

'By all means.'

Mr Tappertit raised himself on tiptoeapplied his lips to Mr
Chester's eardrew back his head without saying anythinglooked
hard at himapplied them to his ear againagain drew backand
finally whispered--'The name is Joseph Willet. Hush! I say no
more.'

Having said that muchhe beckoned the visitor with a mysterious
aspect to follow him to the parlour-doorwhere he announced him
in the voice of a gentleman-usher. 'Mr Chester.'

'And not Mr Ed'dardmind' said Simlooking into the door again
and adding this by way of postscript in his own person; 'it's his
father.'

'But do not let his father' said Mr Chesteradvancing hat in
handas he observed the effect of this last explanatory
announcement'do not let his father be any check or restraint on
your domestic occupationsMiss Varden.'

'Oh! Now! There! An't I always a-saying it!' exclaimed Miggs
clapping her hands. 'If he an't been and took Missis for her own
daughter. Wellshe DO look like itthat she do. Only think of
thatmim!'

'Is it possible' said Mr Chester in his softest tones'that this
is Mrs Varden! I am amazed. That is not your daughterMrs
Varden? Nono. Your sister.'

'My daughterindeedsir' returned Mrs V.blushing with great
juvenility.

'AhMrs Varden!' cried the visitor. 'Ahma'am--humanity is
indeed a happy lotwhen we can repeat ourselves in othersand
still be young as they. You must allow me to salute you--the
custom of the countrymy dear madam--your daughter too.'

Dolly showed some reluctance to perform this ceremonybut was
sharply reproved by Mrs Vardenwho insisted on her undergoing it
that minute. For prideshe said with great severitywas one of
the seven deadly sinsand humility and lowliness of heart were
virtues. Wherefore she desired that Dolly would be kissed
immediatelyon pain of her just displeasure; at the same time
giving her to understand that whatever she saw her mother doshe


might safely do herselfwithout being at the trouble of any
reasoning or reflection on the subject--whichindeedwas
offensive and undutifuland in direct contravention of the church
catechism.

Thus admonishedDolly compliedthough by no means willingly; for
there was a broadbold look of admiration in Mr Chester's face
refined and polished though it sought to bewhich distressed her
very much. As she stood with downcast eyesnot liking to look up
and meet hishe gazed upon her with an approving airand then
turned to her mother.

'My friend Gabriel (whose acquaintance I only made this very
evening) should be a happy manMrs Varden.'

'Ah!' sighed Mrs V.shaking her head.

'Ah!' echoed Miggs.

'Is that the case?' said Mr Chestercompassionately. 'Dear me!'

'Master has no intentionssir' murmured Miggs as she sidled up
to him'but to be as grateful as his natur will let himfor
everythink he owns which it is in his powers to appreciate. But we
neversir'--said Miggslooking sideways at Mrs Vardenand
interlarding her discourse with a sigh--'we never know the full
value of SOME wines and fig-trees till we lose 'em. So much the
worsesirfor them as has the slighting of 'em on their
consciences when they're gone to be in full blow elsewhere.' And
Miss Miggs cast up her eyes to signify where that might be.

As Mrs Varden distinctly heardand was intended to hearall that
Miggs saidand as these words appeared to convey in metaphorical
terms a presage or foreboding that she would at some early period
droop beneath her trials and take an easy flight towards the stars
she immediately began to languishand taking a volume of the
Manual from a neighbouring tableleant her arm upon it as though
she were Hope and that her Anchor. Mr Chester perceiving this
and seeing how the volume was lettered on the backtook it gently
from her handand turned the fluttering leaves.

'My favourite bookdear madam. How oftenhow very often in his
early life--before he can remember'--(this clause was strictly
true) 'have I deduced little easy moral lessons from its pagesfor
my dear son Ned! You know Ned?'

Mrs Varden had that honourand a fine affable young gentleman he
was.

'You're a motherMrs Varden' said Mr Chestertaking a pinch of
snuff'and you know what Ias a fatherfeelwhen he is praised.
He gives me some uneasiness--much uneasiness--he's of a roving
naturema'am--from flower to flower--from sweet to sweet--but his
is the butterfly time of lifeand we must not be hard upon such
trifling.'

He glanced at Dolly. She was attending evidently to what he said.
Just what he desired!

'The only thing I object to in this little trait of Ned'sis'
said Mr Chester'--and the mention of his name reminds meby the
waythat I am about to beg the favour of a minute's talk with you
alone--the only thing I object to in itisthat it DOES partake
of insincerity. Nowhowever I may attempt to disguise the fact


from myself in my affection for Nedstill I always revert to this-that
if we are not sincerewe are nothing. Nothing upon earth.
Let us be sinceremy dear madam--'

'--and Protestant' murmured Mrs Varden.

'--and Protestant above all things. Let us be sincere and
Protestantstrictly moralstrictly just (though always with a
leaning towards mercy)strictly honestand strictly trueand we
gain--it is a slight pointcertainlybut still it is something
tangible; we throw up a groundwork and foundationso to speakof
goodnesson which we may afterwards erect some worthy
superstructure.'

Nowto be sureMrs Varden thoughthere is a perfect character.
Here is a meekrighteousthoroughgoing Christianwhohaving
mastered all these qualitiesso difficult of attainment; who
having dropped a pinch of salt on the tails of all the cardinal
virtuesand caught them every one; makes light of their
possessionand pants for more morality. For the good woman never
doubted (as many good men and women never do)that this slighting
kind of professionthis setting so little store by great matters
this seeming to say'I am not proudI am what you hearbut I
consider myself no better than other people; let us change the
subjectpray'--was perfectly genuine and true. He so contrived
itand said it in that way that it appeared to have been forced
from himand its effect was marvellous.

Aware of the impression he had made--few men were quicker than he
at such discoveries--Mr Chester followed up the blow by propounding
certain virtuous maximssomewhat vague and general in their
naturedoubtlessand occasionally partaking of the character of
truismsworn a little out at elbowbut delivered in so charming a
voice and with such uncommon serenity and peace of mindthat they
answered as well as the best. Nor is this to be wondered at; for
as hollow vessels produce a far more musical sound in falling than
those which are substantialso it will oftentimes be found that
sentiments which have nothing in them make the loudest ringing in
the worldand are the most relished.

Mr Chesterwith the volume gently extended in one handand with
the other planted lightly on his breasttalked to them in the most
delicious manner possible; and quite enchanted all his hearers
notwithstanding their conflicting interests and thoughts. Even
Dollywhobetween his keen regards and her eyeing over by Mr
Tappertitwas put quite out of countenancecould not help owning
within herself that he was the sweetest-spoken gentleman she had
ever seen. Even Miss Miggswho was divided between admiration of
Mr Chester and a mortal jealousy of her young mistresshad
sufficient leisure to be propitiated. Even Mr Tappertitthough
occupied as we have seen in gazing at his heart's delightcould
not wholly divert his thoughts from the voice of the other charmer.
Mrs Vardento her own private thinkinghad never been so improved
in all her life; and when Mr Chesterrising and craving permission
to speak with her aparttook her by the hand and led her at arm's
length upstairs to the best sitting-roomshe almost deemed him
something more than human.

'Dear madam' he saidpressing her hand delicately to his lips;
'be seated.'

Mrs Varden called up quite a courtly airand became seated.

'You guess my object?' said Mr Chesterdrawing a chair towards


her. 'You divine my purpose? I am an affectionate parentmy dear
Mrs Varden.'

'That I am sure you aresir' said Mrs V.

'Thank you' returned Mr Chestertapping his snuff-box lid.
'Heavy moral responsibilities rest with parentsMrs Varden.'

Mrs Varden slightly raised her handsshook her headand looked at
the ground as though she saw straight through the globeout at the
other endand into the immensity of space beyond.

'I may confide in you' said Mr Chester'without reserve. I love
my sonma'amdearly; and loving him as I doI would save him
from working certain misery. You know of his attachment to Miss
Haredale. You have abetted him in itand very kind of you it was
to do so. I am deeply obliged to you--most deeply obliged to you-for
your interest in his behalf; but my dear ma'amit is a
mistaken oneI do assure you.'

Mrs Varden stammered that she was sorry--'

'Sorrymy dear ma'am' he interposed. 'Never be sorry for what is
so very amiableso very good in intentionso perfectly like
yourself. But there are grave and weighty reasonspressing family
considerationsand apart even from thesepoints of religious
differencewhich interpose themselvesand render their union
impossible; utterly im-possible. I should have mentioned these
circumstances to your husband; but he has--you will excuse my
saying this so freely--he has NOT your quickness of apprehension or
depth of moral sense. What an extremely airy house this isand
how beautifully kept! For one like myself--a widower so long-these
tokens of female care and superintendence have inexpressible
charms.'

Mrs Varden began to think (she scarcely knew why) that the young Mr
Chester must be in the wrong and the old Mr Chester must he in the
right.

'My son Ned' resumed her tempter with his most winning air'has
hadI am toldyour lovely daughter's aidand your open-hearted
husband's.'

'--Much more than minesir' said Mrs Varden; 'a great deal more.
I have often had my doubts. It's a--'

'A bad example' suggested Mr Chester. 'It is. No doubt it is.
Your daughter is at that age when to set before her an
encouragement for young persons to rebel against their parents on
this most important pointis particularly injudicious. You are
quite right. I ought to have thought of that myselfbut it
escaped meI confess--so far superior are your sex to oursdear
madamin point of penetration and sagacity.'

Mrs Varden looked as wise as if she had really said something to
deserve this compliment--firmly believed she hadin short--and her
faith in her own shrewdness increased considerably.

'My dear ma'am' said Mr Chester'you embolden me to be plain
with you. My son and I are at variance on this point. The young
lady and her natural guardian differ upon italso. And the
closing point isthat my son is bound by his duty to meby his
honourby every solemn tie and obligationto marry some one
else.'


'Engaged to marry another lady!' quoth Mrs Vardenholding up her
hands.

'My dear madambrought upeducatedand trainedexpressly for
that purpose. Expressly for that purpose.--Miss HaredaleI am
toldis a very charming creature.'

'I am her foster-motherand should know--the best young lady in
the world' said Mrs Varden.

'I have not the smallest doubt of it. I am sure she is. And you
who have stood in that tender relation towards herare bound to
consult her happiness. Nowcan I--as I have said to Haredalewho
quite agrees--can I possibly stand byand suffer her to throw
herself away (although she IS of a Catholic family)upon a young
fellow whoas yethas no heart at all? It is no imputation upon
him to say he has notbecause young men who have plunged deeply
into the frivolities and conventionalities of societyvery seldom
have. Their hearts never growmy dear ma'amtill after thirty.
I don't believenoI do NOT believethat I had any heart myself
when I was Ned's age.'

'Oh sir' said Mrs Varden'I think you must have had. It's
impossible that youwho have so much nowcan ever have been
without any.'

'I hope' he answeredshrugging his shoulders meekly'I have a
little; I hopea very little--Heaven knows! But to return to Ned;
I have no doubt you thoughtand therefore interfered benevolently
in his behalfthat I objected to Miss Haredale. How very
natural! My dear madamI object to him--to him--emphatically to
Ned himself.'

Mrs Varden was perfectly aghast at the disclosure.

'He hasif he honourably fulfils this solemn obligation of which I
have told you--and he must be honourabledear Mrs Vardenor he is
no son of mine--a fortune within his reach. He is of most
expensiveruinously expensive habits; and ifin a moment of
caprice and wilfulnesshe were to marry this young ladyand so
deprive himself of the means of gratifying the tastes to which he
has been so long accustomedhe would--my dear madamhe would
break the gentle creature's heart. Mrs Vardenmy good ladymy
dear soulI put it to you--is such a sacrifice to be endured? Is
the female heart a thing to be trifled with in this way? Ask your
ownmy dear madam. Ask your ownI beseech you.'

'Truly' thought Mrs Varden'this gentleman is a saint. But' she
added aloudand not unnaturally'if you take Miss Emma's lover
awaysirwhat becomes of the poor thing's heart then?'

'The very point' said Mr Chesternot at all abashed'to which I
wished to lead you. A marriage with my sonwhom I should be
compelled to disownwould be followed by years of misery; they
would be separatedmy dear madamin a twelvemonth. To break off
this attachmentwhich is more fancied than realas you and I know
very wellwill cost the dear girl but a few tearsand she is
happy again. Take the case of your own daughterthe young lady
downstairswho is your breathing image'--Mrs Varden coughed and
simpered--'there is a young man (I am sorry to saya dissolute
fellowof very indifferent character) of whom I have heard Ned
speak--Bullet was it--Pullet--Mullet--'


'There is a young man of the name of Joseph Willetsir' said Mrs
Vardenfolding her hands loftily.

'That's he' cried Mr Chester. 'Suppose this Joseph Willet now
were to aspire to the affections of your charming daughterand
were to engage them.'

'It would be like his impudence' interposed Mrs Vardenbridling
'to dare to think of such a thing!'

'My dear madamthat's the whole case. I know it would be like his
impudence. It is like Ned's impudence to do as he has done; but
you would not on that accountor because of a few tears from your
beautiful daughterrefrain from checking their inclinations in
their birth. I meant to have reasoned thus with your husband when
I saw him at Mrs Rudge's this evening--'

'My husband' said Mrs Vardeninterposing with emotion'would be
a great deal better at home than going to Mrs Rudge's so often. I
don't know what he does there. I don't see what occasion he has to
busy himself in her affairs at allsir.'

'If I don't appear to express my concurrence in those last
sentiments of yours' returned Mr Chester'quite so strongly as
you might desireit is because his being theremy dear madamand
not proving conversationalled me hitherand procured me the
happiness of this interview with onein whom the whole management
conductand prosperity of her family are centredI perceive.'

With that he took Mrs Varden's hand againand having pressed it to
his lips with the highflown gallantry of the day--a little
burlesqued to render it the more striking in the good lady's
unaccustomed eyes--proceeded in the same strain of mingled
sophistrycajoleryand flatteryto entreat that her utmost
influence might be exerted to restrain her husband and daughter
from any further promotion of Edward's suit to Miss Haredaleand
from aiding or abetting either party in any way. Mrs Varden was
but a womanand had her share of vanityobstinacyand love of
power. She entered into a secret treaty of allianceoffensive and
defensivewith her insinuating visitor; and really did believeas
many others would have done who saw and heard himthat in so doing
she furthered the ends of truthjusticeand moralityin a very
uncommon degree.

Overjoyed by the success of his negotiationand mightily amused
within himselfMr Chester conducted her downstairs in the same
state as before; and having repeated the previous ceremony of
salutationwhich also as before comprehended Dollytook his
leave; first completing the conquest of Miss Miggs's heartby
inquiring if 'this young lady' would light him to the door.

'Ohmim' said Miggsreturning with the candle. 'Oh gracious me
mimthere's a gentleman! Was there ever such an angel to talk as
he is--and such a sweet-looking man! So upright and noblethat he
seems to despise the very ground he walks on; and yet so mild and
condescendingthat he seems to say "but I will take notice on it
too." And to think of his taking you for Miss Dollyand Miss
Dolly for your sister--Ohmy goodness meif I was master wouldn't
I be jealous of him!'

Mrs Varden reproved her handmaid for this vain-speaking; but very
gently and mildly--quite smilingly indeed--remarking that she was a
foolishgiddylight-headed girlwhose spirits carried her
beyond all boundsand who didn't mean half she saidor she would


be quite angry with her.

'For my part' said Dollyin a thoughtful manner'I half believe
Mr Chester is something like Miggs in that respect. For all his
politeness and pleasant speakingI am pretty sure he was making
game of usmore than once.'

'If you venture to say such a thing againand to speak ill of
people behind their backs in my presencemiss' said Mrs Varden
'I shall insist upon your taking a candle and going to bed
directly. How dare youDolly? I'm astonished at you. The
rudeness of your whole behaviour this evening has been disgraceful.
Did anybody ever hear' cried the enraged matronbursting into
tears'of a daughter telling her own mother she has been made game
of!'

What a very uncertain temper Mrs Varden's was!

Chapter 28

Repairing to a noted coffee-house in Covent Garden when he left the
locksmith'sMr Chester sat long over a late dinnerentertaining
himself exceedingly with the whimsical recollection of his recent
proceedingsand congratulating himself very much on his great
cleverness. Influenced by these thoughtshis face wore an
expression so benign and tranquilthat the waiter in immediate
attendance upon him felt he could almost have died in his defence
and settled in his own mind (until the receipt of the billand a
very small fee for very great trouble disabused it of the idea)
that such an apostolic customer was worth half-a-dozen of the
ordinary run of visitorsat least.

A visit to the gaming-table--not as a heatedanxious venturerbut
one whom it was quite a treat to see staking his two or three
pieces in deference to the follies of societyand smiling with
equal benevolence on winners and losers--made it late before he
reached home. It was his custom to bid his servant go to bed at
his own time unless he had orders to the contraryand to leave a
candle on the common stair. There was a lamp on the landing by
which he could always light it when he came home lateand having a
key of the door about him he could enter and go to bed at his
pleasure.

He opened the glass of the dull lampwhose wickburnt up and
swollen like a drunkard's nosecame flying off in little
carbuncles at the candle's touchand scattering hot sparks about
rendered it matter of some difficulty to kindle the lazy taper;
when a noiseas of a man snoring deeply some steps higher up
caused him to pause and listen. It was the heavy breathing of a
sleeperclose at hand. Some fellow had lain down on the open
staircaseand was slumbering soundly. Having lighted the candle
at length and opened his own doorhe softly ascendedholding the
taper high above his headand peering cautiously about; curious to
see what kind of man had chosen so comfortless a shelter for his
lodging.

With his head upon the landing and his great limbs flung over halfa-
dozen stairsas carelessly as though he were a dead man whom
drunken bearers had thrown down by chancethere lay Hughface
uppermosthis long hair drooping like some wild weed upon his
wooden pillowand his huge chest heaving with the sounds which so


unwontedly disturbed the place and hour.

He who came upon him so unexpectedly was about to break his rest by
thrusting him with his footwhenglancing at his upturned face
he arrested himself in the very actionand stooping down and
shading the candle with his handexamined his features closely.
Close as his first inspection wasit did not sufficefor he
passed the lightstill carefully shaded as beforeacross and
across his faceand yet observed him with a searching eye.

While he was thus engagedthe sleeperwithout any starting or
turning roundawoke. There was a kind of fascination in meeting
his steady gaze so suddenlywhich took from the other the presence
of mind to withdraw his eyesand forced himas it wereto meet
his look. So they remained staring at each otheruntil Mr Chester
at last broke silenceand asked him in a low voicewhy he lay
sleeping there.

'I thought' said Hughstruggling into a sitting posture and
gazing at him intentlystill'that you were a part of my dream.
It was a curious one. I hope it may never come truemaster.'

'What makes you shiver?'

'The--the coldI suppose' he growledas he shook himself and
rose. 'I hardly know where I am yet.'

'Do you know me?' said Mr Chester.

'AyI know you' he answered. 'I was dreaming of you--we're not
where I thought we were. That's a comfort.'

He looked round him as he spokeand in particular looked above his
headas though he half expected to be standing under some object
which had had existence in his dream. Then he rubbed his eyes and
shook himself againand followed his conductor into his own rooms.

Mr Chester lighted the candles which stood upon his dressing-table
and wheeling an easy-chair towards the firewhich was yet
burningstirred up a cheerful blazesat down before itand bade
his uncouth visitor 'Come here' and draw his boots off.

'You have been drinking againmy fine fellow' he saidas Hugh
went down on one kneeand did as he was told.

'As I'm alivemasterI've walked the twelve long milesand
waited here I don't know how longand had no drink between my lips
since dinner-time at noon.'

'And can you do nothing bettermy pleasant friendthan fall
asleepand shake the very building with your snores?' said Mr
Chester. 'Can't you dream in your straw at homedull dog as you
arethat you need come here to do it?--Reach me those slippers
and tread softly.'

Hugh obeyed in silence.

'And harkeemy dear young gentleman' said Mr Chesteras he put
them on'the next time you dreamdon't let it be of mebut of
some dog or horse with whom you are better acquainted. Fill the
glass once--you'll find it and the bottle in the same place--and
empty it to keep yourself awake.'

Hugh obeyed again even more zealously--and having done so


presented himself before his patron.

'Now' said Mr Chester'what do you want with me?'

'There was news to-day' returned Hugh. 'Your son was at our
house--came down on horseback. He tried to see the young woman
but couldn't get sight of her. He left some letter or some message
which our Joe had charge ofbut he and the old one quarrelled
about it when your son had goneand the old one wouldn't let it be
delivered. He says (that's the old one does) that none of his
people shall interfere and get him into trouble. He's a landlord
he saysand lives on everybody's custom.'

'He's a jewel' smiled Mr Chester'and the better for being a dull
one.--Well?'

'Varden's daughter--that's the girl I kissed--'

'--and stole the bracelet from upon the king's highway' said Mr
Chestercomposedly. 'Yes; what of her?'

'She wrote a note at our house to the young womansaying she lost
the letter I brought to youand you burnt. Our Joe was to carry
itbut the old one kept him at home all next dayon purpose that
he shouldn't. Next morning he gave it to me to take; and here it
is.'

'You didn't deliver it thenmy good friend?' said Mr Chester
twirling Dolly's note between his finger and thumband feigning to
be surprised.

'I supposed you'd want to have it' retorted Hugh. 'Burn oneburn
allI thought.'

'My devil-may-care acquaintance' said Mr Chester--'really if you
do not draw some nicer distinctionsyour career will be cut short
with most surprising suddenness. Don't you know that the letter
you brought to mewas directed to my son who resides in this very
place? And can you descry no difference between his letters and
those addressed to other people?'

'If you don't want it' said Hughdisconcerted by this reproof
for he had expected high praise'give it me backand I'll deliver
it. I don't know how to please youmaster.'

'I shall deliver it' returned his patronputting it away after a
moment's consideration'myself. Does the young lady walk outon
fine mornings?'

'Mostly--about noon is her usual time.'

'Alone?'

'Yesalone.'

'Where?'

'In the grounds before the house.--Them that the footpath crosses.'

'If the weather should be fineI may throw myself in her way tomorrow
perhaps' said Mr Chesteras coolly as if she were one of
his ordinary acquaintance. 'Mr Hughif I should ride up to the
Maypole dooryou will do me the favour only to have seen me once.
You must suppress your gratitudeand endeavour to forget my


forbearance in the matter of the bracelet. It is natural it should
break outand it does you honour; but when other folks are byyou
mustfor your own sake and safetybe as like your usual self as
though you owed me no obligation whateverand had never stood
within these walls. You comprehend me?'

Hugh understood him perfectly. After a pause he muttered that he
hoped his patron would involve him in no trouble about this last
letter; for he had kept it back solely with the view of pleasing
him. He was continuing in this strainwhen Mr Chester with a
most beneficent and patronising air cut him short by saying:

'My good fellowyou have my promisemy wordmy sealed bond (for
a verbal pledge with me is quite as good)that I will always
protect you so long as you deserve it. Nowdo set your mind at
rest. Keep it at easeI beg of you. When a man puts himself in
my power so thoroughly as you have doneI really feel as though he
had a kind of claim upon me. I am more disposed to mercy and
forbearance under such circumstances than I can tell youHugh. Do
look upon me as your protectorand rest assuredI entreat you
that on the subject of that indiscretionyou may preserveas long
as you and I are friendsthe lightest heart that ever beat within
a human breast. Fill that glass once more to cheer you on your
road homewards--I am really quite ashamed to think how far you have
to go--and then God bless you for the night.'

'They think' said Hughwhen he had tossed the liquor down'that
I am sleeping soundly in the stable. Ha ha ha! The stable door is
shutbut the steed's gonemaster.'

'You are a most convivial fellow' returned his friend'and I love
your humour of all things. Good night! Take the greatest
possible care of yourselffor my sake!'

It was remarkable that during the whole intervieweach had
endeavoured to catch stolen glances of the other's faceand had
never looked full at it. They interchanged one brief and hasty
glance as Hugh went outaverted their eyes directlyand so
separated. Hugh closed the double doors behind himcarefully and
without noise; and Mr Chester remained in his easy-chairwith his
gaze intently fixed upon the fire.

'Well!' he saidafter meditating for a long time--and said with a
deep sigh and an uneasy shifting of his attitudeas though he
dismissed some other subject from his thoughtsand returned to
that which had held possession of them all the day--the plot
thickens; I have thrown the shell; it will explodeI thinkin
eight-and-forty hoursand should scatter these good folks
amazingly. We shall see!'

He went to bed and fell asleepbut had not slept long when he
started up and thought that Hugh was at the outer doorcalling in
a strange voicevery different from his ownto be admitted. The
delusion was so strong upon himand was so full of that vague
terror of the night in which such visions have their beingthat he
roseand taking his sheathed sword in his handopened the door
and looked out upon the staircaseand towards the spot where Hugh
had lain asleep; and even spoke to him by name. But all was dark
and quietand creeping back to bed againhe fellafter an hour's
uneasy watchinginto a second sleepand woke no more till
morning.


Chapter 29

The thoughts of worldly men are for ever regulated by a moral law
of gravitationwhichlike the physical oneholds them down to
earth. The bright glory of dayand the silent wonders of a
starlit nightappeal to their minds in vain. There are no signs
in the sunor in the moonor in the starsfor their reading.
They are like some wise menwholearning to know each planet by
its Latin namehave quite forgotten such small heavenly
constellations as CharityForbearanceUniversal Loveand Mercy
although they shine by night and day so brightly that the blind may
see them; and wholooking upward at the spangled skysee nothing
there but the reflection of their own great wisdom and booklearning.


It is curious to imagine these people of the worldbusy in
thoughtturning their eyes towards the countless spheres that
shine above usand making them reflect the only images their minds
contain. The man who lives but in the breath of princeshas
nothing his sight but stars for courtiers' breasts. The envious
man beholds his neighbours' honours even in the sky; to the moneyhoarder
and the mass of worldly folkthe whole great universe
above glitters with sterling coin--fresh from the mint--stamped
with the sovereign's head--coming always between them and heaven
turn where they may. So do the shadows of our own desires stand
between us and our better angelsand thus their brightness is
eclipsed.

Everything was fresh and gayas though the world were but that
morning madewhen Mr Chester rode at a tranquil pace along the
Forest road. Though early in the seasonit was warm and genial
weather; the trees were budding into leafthe hedges and the grass
were greenthe air was musical with songs of birdsand high above
them all the lark poured out her richest melody. In shady spots
the morning dew sparkled on each young leaf and blade of grass;
and where the sun was shiningsome diamond drops yet glistened
brightlyas in unwillingness to leave so fair a worldand have
such brief existence. Even the light windwhose rustling was as
gentle to the ear as softly-falling waterhad its hope and
promise; andleaving a pleasant fragrance in its track as it went
fluttering bywhispered of its intercourse with Summerand of his
happy coming.

The solitary rider went glancing on among the treesfrom sunlight
into shade and back againat the same even pace--looking about
himcertainlyfrom time to timebut with no greater thought of
the day or the scene through which he movedthan that he was
fortunate (being choicely dressed) to have such favourable weather.
He smiled very complacently at such timesbut rather as if he were
satisfied with himself than with anything else: and so went riding
onupon his chestnut cobas pleasant to look upon as his own
horseand probably far less sensitive to the many cheerful
influences by which he was surrounded.

In the course of timethe Maypole's massive chimneys rose upon his
view: but he quickened not his pace one jotand with the same cool
gravity rode up to the tavern porch. John Willetwho was toasting
his red face before a great fire in the barand whowith
surpassing foresight and quickness of apprehensionhad been
thinkingas he looked at the blue skythat if that state of
things lasted much longerit might ultimately become necessary to
leave off fires and throw the windows openissued forth to hold
his stirrup; calling lustily for Hugh.


'Ohyou're hereare yousir?' said Johnrather surprised by the
quickness with which he appeared. 'Take this here valuable animal
into the stableand have more than particular care of him if you
want to keep your place. A mortal lazy fellowsir; he needs a
deal of looking after.'

'But you have a son' returned Mr Chestergiving his bridle to
Hugh as he dismountedand acknowledging his salute by a careless
motion of his hand towards his hat. 'Why don't you make HIM
useful?'

'Whythe truth issir' replied John with great importance'that
my son--whatyou're a-listening are youvillain?'

'Who's listening?' returned Hugh angrily. 'A treatindeedto
hear YOU speak! Would you have me take him in till he's cool?'

'Walk him up and down further off thensir' cried old John'and
when you see me and a noble gentleman entertaining ourselves with
talkkeep your distance. If you don't know your distancesir'
added Mr Willetafter an enormously long pauseduring which he
fixed his great dull eyes on Hughand waited with exemplary
patience for any little property in the way of ideas that might
come to him'we'll find a way to teach youpretty soon.'

Hugh shrugged his shoulders scornfullyand in his reckless
swaggering waycrossed to the other side of the little greenand
therewith the bridle slung loosely over his shoulderled the
horse to and froglancing at his master every now and then from
under his bushy eyebrowswith as sinister an aspect as one would
desire to see.

Mr Chesterwhowithout appearing to do sohad eyed him
attentively during this brief disputestepped into the porchand
turning abruptly to Mr Willetsaid

'You keep strange servantsJohn.'

'Strange enough to look atsircertainly' answered the host;
'but out of doors; for horsesdogsand the likes of that; there
an't a better man in England than is that Maypole Hugh yonder. He
an't fit for indoors' added Mr Willetwith the confidential air
of a man who felt his own superior nature. 'I do that; but if that
chap had only a little imaginationsir--'

'He's an active fellow nowI dare swear' said Mr Chesterin a
musing tonewhich seemed to suggest that he would have said the
same had there been nobody to hear him.

'Activesir!' retorted Johnwith quite an expression in his face;
'that chap! Hallo there! Yousir! Bring that horse hereand
go and hang my wig on the weathercockto show this gentleman
whether you're one of the lively sort or not.'

Hugh made no answerbut throwing the bridle to his masterand
snatching his wig from his headin a manner so unceremonious and
hasty that the action discomposed Mr Willet not a littlethough
performed at his own special desireclimbed nimbly to the very
summit of the maypole before the houseand hanging the wig upon
the weathercocksent it twirling round like a roasting jack.
Having achieved this performancehe cast it on the groundand
sliding down the pole with inconceivable rapidityalighted on his
feet almost as soon as it had touched the earth.


'Theresir' said Johnrelapsing into his usual stolid state
'you won't see that at many housesbesides the Maypolewhere
there's good accommodation for man and beast--nor that neither
though that with him is nothing.'

This last remark bore reference to his vaulting on horsebackas
upon Mr Chester's first visitand quickly disappearing by the
stable gate.

'That with him is nothing' repeated Mr Willetbrushing his wig
with his wristand inwardly resolving to distribute a small charge
for dust and damage to that article of dressthrough the various
items of his guest's bill; 'he'll get out of a'most any winder in
the house. There never was such a chap for flinging himself about
and never hurting his bones. It's my opinionsirthat it's
pretty nearly allowing to his not having any imagination; and that
if imagination could be (which it can't) knocked into himhe'd
never be able to do it any more. But we was a-talkingsirabout
my son.'

'TrueWillettrue' said his visitorturning again towards the
landlord with his accustomed serenity of face. 'My good friend
what about him?'

It has been reported that Mr Willetpreviously to making answer
winked. But as he was never known to be guilty of such lightness
of conduct either before or afterwardsthis may be looked upon as
a malicious invention of his enemies--foundedperhapsupon the
undisputed circumstance of his taking his guest by the third breast
button of his coatcounting downwards from the chinand pouring
his reply into his ear:

'Sir' whispered Johnwith dignity'I know my duty. We want no
love-making heresirunbeknown to parents. I respect a certain
young gentlemantaking him in the light of a young gentleman; I
respect a certain young ladytaking her in the light of a young
lady; but of the two as a coupleI have no knowledgesirnone
whatever. My sonsiris upon his patrole.'

'I thought I saw him looking through the corner window but this
moment' said Mr Chesterwho naturally thought that being on
patroleimplied walking about somewhere.

'No doubt you didsir' returned John. 'He is upon his patrole of
honoursirnot to leave the premises. Me and some friends of
mine that use the Maypole of an eveningsirconsidered what was
best to be done with himto prevent his doing anything unpleasant
in opposing your desires; and we've put him on his patrole. And
what's moresirhe won't be off his patrole for a pretty long
time to comeI can tell you that.'

When he had communicated this bright ideawhich had its origin in
the perusal by the village cronies of a newspapercontaining
among other mattersan account of how some officer pending the
sentence of some court-martial had been enlarged on paroleMr
Willet drew back from his guest's earand without any visible
alteration of featurechuckled thrice audibly. This nearest
approach to a laugh in which he ever indulged (and that but seldom
and only on extreme occasions)never even curled his lip or
effected the smallest change in--nonot so much as a slight
wagging of--his greatfatdouble chinwhich at these timesas
at all othersremained a perfect desert in the broad map of his
face; one changelessdulltremendous blank.


Lest it should be matter of surprise to anythat Mr Willet adopted
this bold course in opposition to one whom he had often
entertainedand who had always paid his way at the Maypole
gallantlyit may be remarked that it was his very penetration and
sagacity in this respectwhich occasioned him to indulge in those
unusual demonstrations of jocularityjust now recorded. For Mr
Willetafter carefully balancing father and son in his mental
scaleshad arrived at the distinct conclusion that the old
gentleman was a better sort of a customer than the young one.
Throwing his landlord into the same scalewhich was already turned
by this considerationand heaping upon himagainhis strong
desires to run counter to the unfortunate Joeand his opposition
as a general principle to all matters of love and matrimonyit
went down to the very ground straightwayand sent the light cause
of the younger gentleman flying upwards to the ceiling. Mr
Chester was not the kind of man to be by any means dim-sighted to
Mr Willet's motivesbut he thanked him as graciously as if he had
been one of the most disinterested martyrs that ever shone on
earth; and leaving himwith many complimentary reliances on his
great taste and judgmentto prepare whatever dinner he might deem
most fitting the occasionbent his steps towards the Warren.

Dressed with more than his usual elegance; assuming a gracefulness
of mannerwhichthough it was the result of long studysat
easily upon him and became him well; composing his features into
their most serene and prepossessing expression; and setting in
short that guard upon himselfat every pointwhich denoted that
he attached no slight importance to the impression he was about to
make; he entered the bounds of Miss Haredale's usual walk. He had
not gone faror looked about him longwhen he descried coming
towards hima female figure. A glimpse of the form and dress as
she crossed a little wooden bridge which lay between them
satisfied him that he had found her whom he desired to see. He
threw himself in her wayand a very few paces brought them close
together.

He raised his hat from his headand yielding the pathsuffered
her to pass him. Thenas if the idea had but that moment
occurred to himhe turned hastily back and said in an agitated
voice:

'I beg pardon--do I address Miss Haredale?'

She stopped in some confusion at being so unexpectedly accosted by
a stranger; and answered 'Yes.'

'Something told me' he saidLOOKING a compliment to her beauty
'that it could be no other. Miss HaredaleI bear a name which is
not unknown to you--which it is a prideand yet a pain to me to
knowsounds pleasantly in your ears. I am a man advanced in life
as you see. I am the father of him whom you honour and distinguish
above all other men. May I for weighty reasons which fill me with
distressbeg but a minute's conversation with you here?'

Who that was inexperienced in deceitand had a frank and youthful
heartcould doubt the speaker's truth--could doubt it toowhen
the voice that spokewas like the faint echo of one she knew so
welland so much loved to hear? She inclined her headand
stoppingcast her eyes upon the ground.

'A little more apart--among these trees. It is an old man's hand
Miss Haredale; an honest onebelieve me.'


She put hers in it as he said these wordsand suffered him to lead
her to a neighbouring seat.

'You alarm mesir' she said in a low voice. 'You are not the
bearer of any ill newsI hope?'

'Of none that you anticipate' he answeredsitting down beside
her. 'Edward is well--quite well. It is of him I wish to speak
certainly; but I have no misfortune to communicate.'

She bowed her head againand made as though she would have begged
him to proceed; but said nothing.

'I am sensible that I speak to you at a disadvantagedear Miss
Haredale. Believe me that I am not so forgetful of the feelings of
my younger days as not to know that you are little disposed to view
me with favour. You have heard me described as cold-hearted
calculatingselfish--'

'I have neversir'--she interposed with an altered manner and a
firmer voice; 'I have never heard you spoken of in harsh or
disrespectful terms. You do a great wrong to Edward's nature if
you believe him capable of any mean or base proceeding.'

'Pardon memy sweet young ladybut your uncle--'

'Nor is it my uncle's nature either' she repliedwith a
heightened colour in her cheek. 'It is not his nature to stab in
the darknor is it mine to love such deeds.'

She rose as she spokeand would have left him; but he detained her
with a gentle handand besought her in such persuasive accents to
hear him but another minutethat she was easily prevailed upon to
complyand so sat down again.

'And it is' said Mr Chesterlooking upwardand apostrophising
the air; 'it is this frankingenuousnoble natureNedthat you
can wound so lightly. Shame--shame upon youboy!'

She turned towards him quicklyand with a scornful look and
flashing eyes. There were tears in Mr Chester's eyesbut he
dashed them hurriedly awayas though unwilling that his weakness
should be knownand regarded her with mingled admiration and
compassion.

'I never until now' he said'believedthat the frivolous actions
of a young man could move me like these of my own son. I never
knew till nowthe worth of a woman's heartwhich boys so lightly
winand lightly fling away. Trust medear young ladythat I
never until now did know your worth; and though an abhorrence of
deceit and falsehood has impelled me to seek you outand would
have done so had you been the poorest and least gifted of your sex
I should have lacked the fortitude to sustain this interview could
I have pictured you to my imagination as you really are.'

Oh! If Mrs Varden could have seen the virtuous gentleman as he
said these wordswith indignation sparkling from his eyes--if she
could have heard his brokenquavering voice--if she could have
beheld him as he stood bareheaded in the sunlightand with
unwonted energy poured forth his eloquence!

With a haughty facebut pale and trembling tooEmma regarded him
in silence. She neither spoke nor movedbut gazed upon him as
though she would look into his heart.


'I throw off' said Mr Chester'the restraint which natural
affection would impose on some menand reject all bonds but those
of truth and duty. Miss Haredaleyou are deceived; you are
deceived by your unworthy loverand my unworthy son.'

Still she looked at him steadilyand still said not one word.

'I have ever opposed his professions of love for you; you will do
me the justicedear Miss Haredaleto remember that. Your uncle
and myself were enemies in early lifeand if I had sought
retaliationI might have found it here. But as we grow olderwe
grow wiser--bitterI would fain hope--and from the firstI have
opposed him in this attempt. I foresaw the endand would have
spared youif I could.'

'Speak plainlysir' she faltered. 'You deceive meor are
deceived yourself. I do not believe you--I cannot--I should not.'

'First' said Mr Chestersoothingly'for there may be in your
mind some latent angry feeling to which I would not appealpray
take this letter. It reached my hands by chanceand by mistake
and should have accounted to you (as I am told) for my son's not
answering some other note of yours. God forbidMiss Haredale'
said the good gentlemanwith great emotion'that there should be
in your gentle breast one causeless ground of quarrel with him.
You should knowand you will seethat he was in no fault here.'

There appeared something so very candidso scrupulously
honourableso very truthful and just in this course something
which rendered the upright person who resorted to itso worthy of
belief--that Emma's heartfor the first timesunk within her.
She turned away and burst into tears.

'I would' said Mr Chesterleaning over herand speaking in mild
and quite venerable accents; 'I woulddear girlit were my task
to banishnot increasethose tokens of your grief. My sonmy
erring son--I will not call him deliberately criminal in thisfor
men so youngwho have been inconstant twice or thrice beforeact
without reflectionalmost without a knowledge of the wrong they
do--will break his plighted faith to you; has broken it even now.
Shall I stop hereand having given you this warningleave it to
be fulfilled; or shall I go on?'

'You will go onsir' she answered'and speak more plainly yet
in justice both to him and me.'

'My dear girl' said Mr Chesterbending over her more
affectionately still; 'whom I would call my daughterbut the Fates
forbidEdward seeks to break with you upon a false and most
unwarrantable pretence. I have it on his own showing; in his own
hand. Forgive meif I have had a watch upon his conduct; I am his
father; I had a regard for your peace and his honourand no better
resource was left me. There lies on his desk at this present
momentready for transmission to youa letterin which he tells
you that our poverty--our poverty; his and mineMiss Haredale-forbids
him to pursue his claim upon your hand; in which he offers
voluntarily proposesto free you from your pledge; and talks
magnanimously (men do sovery commonlyin such cases) of being in
time more worthy of your regard--and so forth. A letterto be
plainin which he not only jilts you--pardon the word; I would
summon to your aid your pride and dignity--not only jilts youI
fearin favour of the object whose slighting treatment first
inspired his brief passion for yourself and gave it birth in


wounded vanitybut affects to make a merit and a virtue of the
act.'

She glanced proudly at him once moreas by an involuntary impulse
and with a swelling breast rejoined'If what you say be truehe
takes much needless troublesirto compass his design. He's very
tender of my peace of mind. I quite thank him.'

'The truth of what I tell youdear young lady' he replied'you
will test by the receipt or non-receipt of the letter of which I
speak. Haredalemy dear fellowI am delighted to see you
although we meet under singular circumstancesand upon a
melancholy occasion. I hope you are very well.'

At these words the young lady raised her eyeswhich were filled
with tears; and seeing that her uncle indeed stood before themand
being quite unequal to the trial of hearing or of speaking one word
morehurriedly withdrewand left them. They stood looking at
each otherand at her retreating figureand for a long time
neither of them spoke.

'What does this mean? Explain it' said Mr Haredale at length.
'Why are you hereand why with her?'

'My dear friend' rejoined the otherresuming his accustomed
manner with infinite readinessand throwing himself upon the bench
with a weary air'you told me not very long agoat that
delightful old tavern of which you are the esteemed proprietor (and
a most charming establishment it is for persons of rural pursuits
and in robust healthwho are not liable to take cold)that I had
the head and heart of an evil spirit in all matters of deception.
I thought at the time; I really did think; you flattered me. But
now I begin to wonder at your discernmentand vanity apartdo
honestly believe you spoke the truth. Did you ever counterfeit
extreme ingenuousness and honest indignation? My dear fellowyou
have no conceptionif you never didhow faint the effort makes
one.'

Mr Haredale surveyed him with a look of cold contempt. 'You may
evade an explanationI know' he saidfolding his arms. 'But I
must have it. I can wait.'

'Not at all. Not at allmy good fellow. You shall not wait a
moment' returned his friendas he lazily crossed his legs. 'The
simplest thing in the world. It lies in a nutshell. Ned has
written her a letter--a boyishhonestsentimental composition
which remains as yet in his deskbecause he hasn't had the heart
to send it. I have taken a libertyfor which my parental
affection and anxiety are a sufficient excuseand possessed
myself of the contents. I have described them to your niece (a
most enchanting personHaredale; quite an angelic creature)with
a little colouring and description adapted to our purpose. It's
done. You may be quite easy. It's all over. Deprived of their
adherents and mediators; her pride and jealousy roused to the
utmost; with nobody to undeceive herand you to confirm me; you
will find that their intercourse will close with her answer. If
she receives Ned's letter by to-morrow noonyou may date their
parting from to-morrow night. No thanksI beg; you owe me none.
I have acted for myself; and if I have forwarded our compact with
all the ardour even you could have desiredI have done so
selfishlyindeed.'

'I curse the compactas you call itwith my whole heart and
soul' returned the other. 'It was made in an evil hour. I have


bound myself to a lie; I have leagued myself with you; and though I
did so with a righteous motiveand though it cost me such an
effort as haply few men knowI hate and despise myself for the
deed.'

'You are very warm' said Mr Chester with a languid smile.

'I AM warm. I am maddened by your coldness. 'DeathChesterif
your blood ran warmer in your veinsand there were no restraints
upon mesuch as those that hold and drag me back--well; it is
done; you tell me soand on such a point I may believe you. When
I am most remorseful for this treacheryI will think of you and
your marriageand try to justify myself in such remembrancesfor
having torn asunder Emma and your sonat any cost. Our bond is
cancelled nowand we may part.'

Mr Chester kissed his hand gracefully; and with the same tranquil
face he had preserved throughout--even when he had seen his
companion so tortured and transported by his passion that his whole
frame was shaken--lay in his lounging posture on the seat and
watched him as he walked away.

'My scapegoat and my drudge at school' he saidraising his head
to look after him; 'my friend of later dayswho could not keep his
mistress when he had won herand threw me in her way to carry off
the prize; I triumph in the present and the past. Bark onillfavoured
ill-conditioned cur; fortune has ever been with me--I
like to hear you.'

The spot where they had metwas in an avenue of trees. Mr
Haredale not passing out on either handhad walked straight on.
He chanced to turn his head when at some considerable distanceand
seeing that his late companion had by that time risen and was
looking after himstood still as though he half expected him to
follow and waited for his coming up.

'It MAY come to that one daybut not yet' said Mr Chester
waving his handas though they were the best of friendsand
turning away. 'Not yetHaredale. Life is pleasant enough to me;
dull and full of heaviness to you. No. To cross swords with such
a man--to indulge his humour unless upon extremity--would be weak
indeed.'

For all thathe drew his sword as he walked alongand in an
absent humour ran his eye from hilt to point full twenty times.
But thoughtfulness begets wrinkles; remembering thishe soon put
it upsmoothed his contracted browhummed a gay tune with greater
gaiety of mannerand was his unruffled self again.

Chapter 30

A homely proverb recognises the existence of a troublesome class of
persons whohaving an inch conceded themwill take an ell. Not
to quote the illustrious examples of those heroic scourges of
mankindwhose amiable path in life has been from birth to death
through bloodand fireand ruinand who would seem to have
existed for no better purpose than to teach mankind that as the
absence of pain is pleasureso the earthpurged of their
presencemay be deemed a blessed place--not to quote such mighty
instancesit will be sufficient to refer to old John Willet.


Old John having long encroached a good standard inchfull measure
on the liberty of Joeand having snipped off a Flemish ell in the
matter of the parolegrew so despotic and so greatthat his
thirst for conquest knew no bounds. The more young Joe submitted
the more absolute old John became. The ell soon faded into
nothing. Yardsfurlongsmiles arose; and on went old John in the
pleasantest manner possibletrimming off an exuberance in this
placeshearing away some liberty of speech or action in thatand
conducting himself in his small way with as much high mightiness
and majestyas the most glorious tyrant that ever had his statue
reared in the public waysof ancient or of modern times.

As great men are urged on to the abuse of power (when they need
urgingwhich is not often)by their flatterers and dependentsso
old John was impelled to these exercises of authority by the
applause and admiration of his Maypole cronieswhoin the
intervals of their nightly pipes and potswould shake their heads
and say that Mr Willet was a father of the good old English sort;
that there were no new-fangled notions or modern ways in him; that
he put them in mind of what their fathers were when they were boys;
that there was no mistake about him; that it would be well for the
country if there were more like himand more was the pity that
there were not; with many other original remarks of that nature.
Then they would condescendingly give Joe to understand that it was
all for his goodand he would be thankful for it one day; and in
particularMr Cobb would acquaint himthat when he was his age
his father thought no more of giving him a parental kickor a box
on the earsor a cuff on the heador some little admonition of
that sortthan he did of any other ordinary duty of life; and he
would further remarkwith looks of great significancethat but
for this judicious bringing uphe might have never been the man he
was at that present speaking; which was probable enoughas he was
beyond all questionthe dullest dog of the party. In short
between old John and old John's friendsthere never was an
unfortunate young fellow so bulliedbadgeredworriedfretted
and brow-beaten; so constantly besetor made so tired of his life
as poor Joe Willet.

This had come to be the recognised and established state of things;
but as John was very anxious to flourish his supremacy before the
eyes of Mr Chesterhe did that day exceed himselfand did so
goad and chafe his son and heirthat but for Joe's having made a
solemn vow to keep his hands in his pockets when they were not
otherwise engagedit is impossible to say what he might have done
with them. But the longest day has an endand at length Mr
Chester came downstairs to mount his horsewhich was ready at the
door.

As old John was not in the way at the momentJoewho was sitting
in the bar ruminating on his dismal fate and the manifold
perfections of Dolly Vardenran out to hold the guest's stirrup
and assist him to mount. Mr Chester was scarcely in the saddle
and Joe was in the very act of making him a graceful bowwhen old
John came diving out of the porchand collared him.

'None of thatsir' said John'none of thatsir. No breaking of
patroles. How dare you come out of the doorsirwithout leave?
You're trying to get awaysirare youand to make a traitor of
yourself again? What do you meansir?'

'Let me gofather' said Joeimploringlyas he marked the smile
upon their visitor's faceand observed the pleasure his disgrace
afforded him. 'This is too bad. Who wants to get away?'


'Who wants to get away!' cried Johnshaking him. 'Why you do
siryou do. You're the boysir' added Johncollaring with one
bandand aiding the effect of a farewell bow to the visitor with
the other'that wants to sneak into housesand stir up
differences between noble gentlemen and their sonsare youeh?
Hold your tonguesir.'

Joe made no effort to reply. It was the crowning circumstance of
his degradation. He extricated himself from his father's grasp
darted an angry look at the departing guestand returned into the
house.

'But for her' thought Joeas he threw his arms upon a table in
the common roomand laid his head upon them'but for Dollywho I
couldn't bear should think me the rascal they would make me out to
be if I ran awaythis house and I should part to-night.'

It being evening by this timeSolomon DaisyTom Cobband Long
Parkeswere all in the common room tooand had from the window
been witnesses of what had just occurred. Mr Willet joining them
soon afterwardsreceived the compliments of the company with great
composureand lighting his pipesat down among them.

'We'll seegentlemen' said Johnafter a long pause'who's the
master of this houseand who isn't. We'll see whether boys are to
govern menor men are to govern boys.'

'And quite right too' assented Solomon Daisy with some approving
nods; 'quite rightJohnny. Very goodJohnny. Well saidMr
Willet. Brayvosir.'

John slowly brought his eyes to bear upon himlooked at him for a
long timeand finally made answerto the unspeakable
consternation of his hearers'When I want encouragement from you
sirI'll ask you for it. You let me alonesir. I can get on
without youI hope. Don't you tackle mesirif you please.'

'Don't take it illJohnny; I didn't mean any harm' pleaded the
little man.

'Very goodsir' said Johnmore than usually obstinate after his
late success. 'Never mindsir. I can stand pretty firm of
myselfsirI believewithout being shored up by you.' And
having given utterance to this retortMr Willet fixed his eyes
upon the boilerand fell into a kind of tobacco-trance.

The spirits of the company being somewhat damped by this
embarrassing line of conduct on the part of their hostnothing
more was said for a long time; but at length Mr Cobb took upon
himself to remarkas he rose to knock the ashes out of his pipe
that he hoped Joe would thenceforth learn to obey his father in all
things; that he had foundthat dayhe was not one of the sort of
men who were to be trifled with; and that he would recommend him
poetically speakingto mind his eye for the future.

'I'd recommend youin return' said Joelooking up with a flushed
face'not to talk to me.'

'Hold your tonguesir' cried Mr Willetsuddenly rousing himself
and turning round.

'I won'tfather' cried Joesmiting the table with his fistso
that the jugs and glasses rung again; 'these things are hard enough
to bear from you; from anybody else I never will endure them any


more. Therefore I sayMr Cobbdon't talk to me.'

'Whywho are you' said Mr Cobbsneeringly'that you're not to
be talked toehJoe?'

To which Joe returned no answerbut with a very ominous shake of
the headresumed his old positionwhich he would have peacefully
preserved until the house shut up at nightbut that Mr Cobb
stimulated by the wonder of the company at the young man's
presumptionretorted with sundry tauntswhich proved too much for
flesh and blood to bear. Crowding into one moment the vexation and
the wrath of yearsJoe started upoverturned the tablefell upon
his long enemypummelled him with all his might and mainand
finished by driving him with surprising swiftness against a heap of
spittoons in one corner; plunging into whichhead foremostwith a
tremendous crashhe lay at full length among the ruinsstunned
and motionless. Thenwithout waiting to receive the compliments
of the bystanders on the victory be had wonhe retreated to his
own bedchamberand considering himself in a state of siegepiled
all the portable furniture against the door by way of barricade.

'I have done it now' said Joeas he sat down upon his bedstead
and wiped his heated face. 'I knew it would come at last. The
Maypole and I must part company. I'm a roving vagabond--she hates
me for evermore--it's all over!'

Chapter 31

Pondering on his unhappy lotJoe sat and listened for a long
timeexpecting every moment to hear their creaking footsteps on
the stairsor to be greeted by his worthy father with a summons to
capitulate unconditionallyand deliver himself up straightway.
But neither voice nor footstep came; and though some distant
echoesas of closing doors and people hurrying in and out of
roomsresounding from time to time through the great passagesand
penetrating to his remote seclusiongave note of unusual commotion
downstairsno nearer sound disturbed his place of retreatwhich
seemed the quieter for these far-off noisesand was as dull and
full of gloom as any hermit's cell.

It came on darker and darker. The old-fashioned furniture of the
chamberwhich was a kind of hospital for all the invalided
movables in the housegrew indistinct and shadowy in its many
shapes; chairs and tableswhich by day were as honest cripples as
need beassumed a doubtful and mysterious character; and one old
leprous screen of faded India leather and gold bindingwhich had
kept out many a cold breath of air in days of yore and shut in many
a jolly facefrowned on him with a spectral aspectand stood at
full height in its allotted cornerlike some gaunt ghost who
waited to be questioned. A portrait opposite the window--a queer
old grey-eyed generalin an oval frame--seemed to wink and doze as
the light decayedand at lengthwhen the last faint glimmering
speck of day went outto shut its eyes in good earnestand fall
sound asleep. There was such a hush and mystery about everything
that Joe could not help following its example; and so went off into
a slumber likewiseand dreamed of Dollytill the clock of
Chigwell church struck two.

Still nobody came. The distant noises in the house had ceasedand
out of doors all was quiet; save for the occasional barking of some
deep-mouthed dogand the shaking of the branches by the night


wind. He gazed mournfully out of window at each well-known object
as it lay sleeping in the dim light of the moon; and creeping back
to his former seatthought about the late uproaruntilwith long
thinking ofit seemed to have occurred a month ago. Thusbetween
dozingand thinkingand walking to the window and looking out
the night wore away; the grim old screenand the kindred chairs
and tablesbegan slowly to reveal themselves in their accustomed
forms; the grey-eyed general seemed to wink and yawn and rouse
himself; and at last he was broad awake againand very
uncomfortable and cold and haggard he lookedin the dull grey
light of morning.

The sun had begun to peep above the forest treesand already flung
across the curling mist bright bars of goldwhen Joe dropped from
his window on the ground belowa little bundle and his trusty
stickand prepared to descend himself.

It was not a very difficult task; for there were so many
projections and gable ends in the waythat they formed a series of
clumsy stepswith no greater obstacle than a jump of some few feet
at last. Joewith his stick and bundle on his shoulderquickly
stood on the firm earthand looked up at the old Maypoleit might
be for the last time.

He didn't apostrophise itfor he was no great scholar. He didn't
curse itfor he had little ill-will to give to anything on earth.
He felt more affectionate and kind to it than ever he had done in
all his life beforeso said with all his heart'God bless you!'
as a parting wishand turned away.

He walked along at a brisk pacebig with great thoughts of going
for a soldier and dying in some foreign country where it was very
hot and sandyand leaving God knows what unheard-of wealth in
prize-money to Dollywho would be very much affected when she came
to know of it; and full of such youthful visionswhich were
sometimes sanguine and sometimes melancholybut always had her for
their main point and centrepushed on vigorously until the noise
of London sounded in his earsand the Black Lion hove in sight.

It was only eight o'clock thenand very much astonished the Black
Lion wasto see him come walking in with dust upon his feet at
that early hourwith no grey mare to bear him company. But as he
ordered breakfast to be got ready with all speedand on its being
set before him gave indisputable tokens of a hearty appetitethe
Lion received himas usualwith a hospitable welcome; and treated
him with those marks of distinctionwhichas a regular customer
and one within the freemasonry of the tradehe had a right to
claim.

This Lion or landlord--for he was called both man and beastby
reason of his having instructed the artist who painted his signto
convey into the features of the lordly brute whose effigy it bore
as near a counterpart of his own face as his skill could compass
and devise--was a gentleman almost as quick of apprehensionand
of almost as subtle a witas the mighty John himself. But the
difference between them lay in this: that whereas Mr Willet's
extreme sagacity and acuteness were the efforts of unassisted
naturethe Lion stood indebtedin no small amountto beer; of
which he swigged such copious draughtsthat most of his faculties
were utterly drowned and washed awayexcept the one great faculty
of sleepwhich he retained in surprising perfection. The creaking
Lion over the house-door wasthereforeto say the truthrather a
drowsytameand feeble lion; and as these social representatives
of a savage class are usually of a conventional character (being


depictedfor the most partin impossible attitudes and of
unearthly colours)he was frequently supposed by the more ignorant
and uninformed among the neighboursto be the veritable portrait
of the host as he appeared on the occasion of some great funeral
ceremony or public mourning.

'What noisy fellow is that in the next room?' said Joewhen he had
disposed of his breakfastand had washed and brushed himself.

'A recruiting serjeant' replied the Lion.

Joe started involuntarily. Here was the very thing he had been
dreaming ofall the way along.

'And I wish' said the Lion'he was anywhere else but here. The
party make noise enoughbut don't call for much. There's great
cry thereMr Willetbut very little wool. Your father wouldn't
like 'emI know.'

Perhaps not much under any circumstances. Perhaps if he could have
known what was passing at that moment in Joe's mindhe would have
liked them still less.

'Is he recruiting for a--for a fine regiment?' said Joeglancing
at a little round mirror that hung in the bar.

'I believe he is' replied the host. 'It's much the same thing
whatever regiment he's recruiting for. I'm told there an't a deal
of difference between a fine man and another onewhen they're shot
through and through.'

'They're not all shot' said Joe.

'No' the Lion answered'not all. Those that are--supposing it's
done easy--are the best off in my opinion.'

'Ah!' retorted Joe'but you don't care for glory.'

'For what?' said the Lion.

'Glory.'

'No' returned the Lionwith supreme indifference. 'I don't.
You're right in thatMr Willet. When Glory comes hereand calls
for anything to drink and changes a guinea to pay for itI'll give
it him for nothing. It's my beliefsirthat the Glory's arms
wouldn't do a very strong business.'

These remarks were not at all comforting. Joe walked outstopped
at the door of the next roomand listened. The serjeant was
describing a military life. It was all drinkinghe saidexcept
that there were frequent intervals of eating and love-making. A
battle was the finest thing in the world--when your side won it-and
Englishmen always did that. 'Supposing you should be killed
sir?' said a timid voice in one corner. 'Wellsirsupposing you
should be' said the serjeant'what then? Your country loves you
sir; his Majesty King George the Third loves you; your memory is
honouredreveredrespected; everybody's fond of youand grateful
to you; your name's wrote down at full length in a book in the War
Office. Dammegentlemenwe must all die some timeor another
eh?'

The voice coughedand said no more.


Joe walked into the room. A group of half-a-dozen fellows had
gathered together in the taproomand were listening with greedy
ears. One of thema carter in a smockfrockseemed wavering and
disposed to enlist. The restwho were by no means disposed
strongly urged him to do so (according to the custom of mankind)
backed the serjeant's argumentsand grinned among themselves. 'I
say nothingboys' said the serjeantwho sat a little apart
drinking his liquor. 'For lads of spirit'--here he cast an eye on
Joe--'this is the time. I don't want to inveigle you. The king's
not come to thatI hope. Brisk young blood is what we want; not
milk and water. We won't take five men out of six. We want topsawyers
we do. I'm not a-going to tell tales out of schoolbut
dammeif every gentleman's son that carries arms in our corps
through being under a cloud and having little differences with his
relationswas counted up'--here his eye fell on Joe againand so
good-naturedlythat Joe beckoned him out. He came directly.

'You're a gentlemanby G--!' was his first remarkas he slapped
him on the back. 'You're a gentleman in disguise. So am I. Let's
swear a friendship.'

Joe didn't exactly do thatbut he shook hands with himand
thanked him for his good opinion.

'You want to serve' said his new friend. 'You shall. You were
made for it. You're one of us by nature. What'll you take to
drink?'

'Nothing just now' replied Joesmiling faintly. 'I haven't quite
made up my mind.'

'A mettlesome fellow like youand not made up his mind!' cried
the serjeant. 'Here--let me give the bell a pulland you'll make
up your mind in half a minuteI know.'

'You're right so far'--answered Joe'for if you pull the bell
herewhere I'm knownthere'll be an end of my soldiering
inclinations in no time. Look in my face. You see medo you?'

'I do' replied the serjeant with an oath'and a finer young
fellow or one better qualified to serve his king and countryI
never set my--' he used an adjective in this place--'eyes on.

'Thank you' said Joe'I didn't ask you for want of a compliment
but thank you all the same. Do I look like a sneaking fellow or a
liar?'

The serjeant rejoined with many choice asseverations that he
didn't; and that if his (the serjeant's) own father were to say he
didhe would run the old gentleman through the body cheerfully
and consider it a meritorious action.

Joe expressed his obligationsand continued'You can trust me
thenand credit what I say. I believe I shall enlist in your
regiment to-night. The reason I don't do so now isbecause I
don't want until to-nightto do what I can't recall. Where shall
I find youthis evening?'

His friend replied with some unwillingnessand after much
ineffectual entreaty having for its object the immediate settlement
of the businessthat his quarters would be at the Crooked Billet
in Tower Street; where he would be found waking until midnightand
sleeping until breakfast time to-morrow.


'And if I do come--which it's a million to oneI shall--when will
you take me out of London?' demanded Joe.

'To-morrow morningat half after eight o'clock' replied the
serjeant. 'You'll go abroad--a country where it's all sunshine and
plunder--the finest climate in the world.'

'To go abroad' said Joeshaking hands with him'is the very
thing I want. You may expect me.'

'You're the kind of lad for us' cried the serjeantholding Joe's
hand in hisin the excess of his admiration. 'You're the boy to
push your fortune. I don't say it because I bear you any envyor
would take away from the credit of the rise you'll makebut if I
had been bred and taught like youI'd have been a colonel by this
time.'

'Tushman!' said Joe'I'm not so young as that. Needs must when
the devil drives; and the devil that drives me is an empty pocket
and an unhappy home. For the presentgood-bye.'

'For king and country!' cried the serjeantflourishing his cap.

'For bread and meat!' cried Joesnapping his fingers. And so they
parted.

He had very little money in his pocket; so little indeedthat
after paying for his breakfast (which he was too honest and perhaps
too proud to score up to his father's charge) he had but a penny
left. He had couragenotwithstandingto resist all the
affectionate importunities of the serjeantwho waylaid him at
the door with many protestations of eternal friendshipand did in
particular request that he would do him the favour to accept of
only one shilling as a temporary accommodation. Rejecting his
offers both of cash and creditJoe walked away with stick and
bundle as beforebent upon getting through the day as he best
couldand going down to the locksmith's in the dusk of the
evening; for it should go hardhe had resolvedbut he would have
a parting word with charming Dolly Varden.

He went out by Islington and so on to Highgateand sat on many
stones and gatesbut there were no voices in the bells to bid him
turn. Since the time of noble Whittingtonfair flower of
merchantsbells have come to have less sympathy with humankind.
They only ring for money and on state occasions. Wanderers have
increased in number; ships leave the Thames for distant regions
carrying from stem to stern no other cargo; the bells are silent;
they ring out no entreaties or regrets; they are used to it and
have grown worldly.

Joe bought a rolland reduced his purse to the condition (with a
difference) of that celebrated purse of Fortunatuswhich
whatever were its favoured owner's necessitieshad one unvarying
amount in it. In these real timeswhen all the Fairies are dead
and buriedthere are still a great many purses which possess that
quality. The sum-total they contain is expressed in arithmetic by
a circleand whether it be added to or multiplied by its own
amountthe result of the problem is more easily stated than any
known in figures.

Evening drew on at last. With the desolate and solitary feeling of
one who had no home or shelterand was alone utterly in the world
for the first timehe bent his steps towards the locksmith's
house. He had delayed till nowknowing that Mrs Varden sometimes


went out aloneor with Miggs for her sole attendantto lectures
in the evening; and devoutly hoping that this might be one of her
nights of moral culture.

He had walked up and down before the houseon the opposite side of
the waytwo or three timeswhen as he returned to it againhe
caught a glimpse of a fluttering skirt at the door. It was
Dolly's--to whom else could it belong? no dress but hers had such a
flow as that. He plucked up his spiritsand followed it into the
workshop of the Golden Key.

His darkening the door caused her to look round. Oh that face!
'If it hadn't been for that' thought Joe'I should never have
walked into poor Tom Cobb. She's twenty times handsomer than ever.
She might marry a Lord!'

He didn't say this. He only thought it--perhaps looked it also.
Dolly was glad to see himand was SO sorry her father and mother
were away from home. Joe begged she wouldn't mention it on any
account.

Dolly hesitated to lead the way into the parlourfor there it was
nearly dark; at the same time she hesitated to stand talking in the
workshopwhich was yet light and open to the street. They had got
by some meanstoobefore the little forge; and Joe having her
hand in his (which he had no right to havefor Dolly only gave it
him to shake)it was so like standing before some homely altar
being marriedthat it was the most embarrassing state of things in
the world.

'I have come' said Joe'to say good-bye--to say good-bye for I
don't know how many years; perhaps for ever. I am going abroad.'

Now this was exactly what he should not have said. Here he was
talking like a gentleman at large who was free to come and go and
roam about the world at pleasurewhen that gallant coachmaker had
vowed but the night before that Miss Varden held him bound in
adamantine chains; and had positively stated in so many words that
she was killing him by inchesand that in a fortnight more or
thereabouts he expected to make a decent end and leave the business
to his mother.

Dolly released her hand and said 'Indeed!' She remarked in the
same breath that it was a fine nightand in shortbetrayed no
more emotion than the forge itself.

'I couldn't go' said Joe'without coming to see you. I hadn't
the heart to.'

Dolly was more sorry than she could tellthat he should have taken
so much trouble. It was such a long wayand he must have such a
deal to do. And how WAS Mr Willet--that dear old gentleman-


'Is this all you say!' cried Joe.

All! Good graciouswhat did the man expect! She was obliged to
take her apron in her hand and run her eyes along the hem from
corner to cornerto keep herself from laughing in his face;--not
because his gaze confused her--not at all.

Joe had small experience in love affairsand had no notion how
different young ladies are at different times; he had expected to
take Dolly up again at the very point where he had left her after
that delicious evening rideand was no more prepared for such an


alteration than to see the sun and moon change places. He had
buoyed himself up all day with an indistinct idea that she would
certainly say 'Don't go' or 'Don't leave us' or 'Why do you go?'
or 'Why do you leave us?' or would give him some little
encouragement of that sort; he had even entertained the possibility
of her bursting into tearsof her throwing herself into his arms
of her falling down in a fainting fit without previous word or
sign; but any approach to such a line of conduct as thishad been
so far from his thoughts that he could only look at her in silent
wonder.

Dolly in the meanwhileturned to the corners of her apronand
measured the sidesand smoothed out the wrinklesand was as
silent as he. At last after a long pauseJoe said good-bye.
'Good-bye'--said Dolly--with as pleasant a smile as if he were
going into the next streetand were coming back to supper; 'goodbye.'


'Come' said Joeputting out both hands'Dollydear Dollydon't
let us part like this. I love you dearlywith all my heart and
soul; with as much truth and earnestness as ever man loved woman in
this worldI do believe. I am a poor fellowas you know--poorer
now than everfor I have fled from homenot being able to bear it
any longerand must fight my own way without help. You are
beautifuladmiredare loved by everybodyare well off and happy;
and may you ever be so! Heaven forbid I should ever make you
otherwise; but give me a word of comfort. Say something kind to
me. I have no right to expect it of youI knowbut I ask it
because I love youand shall treasure the slightest word from you
all through my life. Dollydearesthave you nothing to say to
me?'

No. Nothing. Dolly was a coquette by natureand a spoilt child.
She had no notion of being carried by storm in this way. The
coachmaker would have been dissolved in tearsand would have knelt
downand called himself namesand clasped his handsand beat his
breastand tugged wildly at his cravatand done all kinds of
poetry. Joe had no business to be going abroad. He had no right
to be able to do it. If he was in adamantine chainshe couldn't.

'I have said good-bye' said Dolly'twice. Take your arm away
directlyMr Josephor I'll call Miggs.'

'I'll not reproach you' answered Joe'it's my faultno doubt. I
have thought sometimes that you didn't quite despise mebut I was
a fool to think so. Every one mustwho has seen the life I have
led--you most of all. God bless you!'

He was goneactually gone. Dolly waited a little whilethinking
he would returnpeeped out at the doorlooked up the street and
down as well as the increasing darkness would allowcame in again
waited a little longerwent upstairs humming a tunebolted
herself inlaid her head down on her bedand cried as if her
heart would break. And yet such natures are made up of so many
contradictionsthat if Joe Willet had come back that nightnext
daynext weeknext monththe odds are a hundred to one she would
have treated him in the very same mannerand have wept for it
afterwards with the very same distress.

She had no sooner left the workshop than there cautiously peered
out from behind the chimney of the forgea face which had already
emerged from the same concealment twice or thriceunseenand
whichafter satisfying itself that it was now alonewas followed
by a lega shoulderand so on by degreesuntil the form of Mr


Tappertit stood confessedwith a brown-paper cap stuck negligently
on one side of its headand its arms very much a-kimbo.

'Have my ears deceived me' said the 'prentice'or do I dream! am
I to thank theeFortun'or to cus thee--which?'

He gravely descended from his elevationtook down his piece of
looking-glassplanted it against the wall upon the usual bench
twisted his head roundand looked closely at his legs.

'If they're a dream' said Sim'let sculptures have such wisions
and chisel 'em out when they wake. This is reality. Sleep has no
such limbs as them. TrembleWilletand despair. She's mine!
She's mine!'

With these triumphant expressionshe seized a hammer and dealt a
heavy blow at a vicewhich in his mind's eye represented the
sconce or head of Joseph Willet. That donehe burst into a peal
of laughter which startled Miss Miggs even in her distant kitchen
and dipping his head into a bowl of waterhad recourse to a jacktowel
inside the closet doorwhich served the double purpose of
smothering his feelings and drying his face.

Joedisconsolate and down-heartedbut full of courage tooon
leaving the locksmith's house made the best of his way to the
Crooked Billetand there inquired for his friend the serjeant
whoexpecting no man lessreceived him with open arms. In the
course of five minutes after his arrival at that house of
entertainmenthe was enrolled among the gallant defenders of his
native land; and within half an hourwas regaled with a steaming
supper of boiled tripe and onionspreparedas his friend assured
him more than onceat the express command of his most Sacred
Majesty the King. To this mealwhich tasted very savoury after
his long fastinghe did ample justice; and when he had followed it
upor downwith a variety of loyal and patriotic toastshe was
conducted to a straw mattress in a loft over the stableand
locked in there for the night.

The next morninghe found that the obliging care of his martial
friend had decorated his hat with sundry particoloured streamers
which made a very lively appearance; and in company with that
officerand three other military gentlemen newly enrolledwho
were under a cloud so dense that it only left three shoesa boot
and a coat and a half visible among themrepaired to the
riverside. Here they were joined by a corporal and four more
heroesof whom two were drunk and daringand two sober and
penitentbut each of whomlike Joehad his dusty stick and
bundle. The party embarked in a passage-boat bound for Gravesend
whence they were to proceed on foot to Chatham; the wind was in
their favourand they soon left London behind thema mere dark
mist--a giant phantom in the air.

Chapter 32

Misfortunessaith the adagenever come singly. There is little
doubt that troubles are exceedingly gregarious in their natureand
flying in flocksare apt to perch capriciously; crowding on the
heads of some poor wights until there is not an inch of room left
on their unlucky crownsand taking no more notice of others who
offer as good resting-places for the soles of their feetthan if
they had no existence. It may have happened that a flight of


troubles brooding over Londonand looking out for Joseph Willet
whom they couldn't finddarted down haphazard on the first young
man that caught their fancyand settled on him instead. However
this may becertain it is that on the very day of Joe's departure
they swarmed about the ears of Edward Chesterand did so buzz and
flap their wingsand persecute himthat he was most profoundly
wretched.

It was eveningand just eight o'clockwhen he and his father
having wine and dessert set before themwere left to themselves
for the first time that day. They had dined togetherbut a third
person had been present during the mealand until they met at
table they had not seen each other since the previous night.

Edward was reserved and silent. Mr Chester was more than usually
gay; but not caringas it seemedto open a conversation with one
whose humour was so differenthe vented the lightness of his
spirit in smiles and sparkling looksand made no effort to awaken
his attention. So they remained for some time: the father lying on
a sofa with his accustomed air of graceful negligence; the son
seated opposite to him with downcast eyesbusiedit was plain
with painful and uneasy thoughts.

'My dear Edward' said Mr Chester at lengthwith a most engaging
laugh'do not extend your drowsy influence to the decanter.
Suffer THAT to circulatelet your spirits be never so stagnant.'

Edward begged his pardonpassed itand relapsed into his former
state.

'You do wrong not to fill your glass' said Mr Chesterholding up
his own before the light. 'Wine in moderation--not in excessfor
that makes men ugly--has a thousand pleasant influences. It
brightens the eyeimproves the voiceimparts a new vivacity to
one's thoughts and conversation: you should try itNed.'

'Ah father!' cried his son'if--'

'My good fellow' interposed the parent hastilyas he set down his
glassand raised his eyebrows with a startled and horrified
expression'for Heaven's sake don't call me by that obsolete and
ancient name. Have some regard for delicacy. Am I greyor
wrinkleddo I go on crutcheshave I lost my teeththat you adopt
such a mode of address? Good Godhow very coarse!'

'I was about to speak to you from my heartsir' returned Edward
'in the confidence which should subsist between us; and you check
me in the outset.'

'Now DONedDO not' said Mr Chesterraising his delicate hand
imploringly'talk in that monstrous manner. About to speak from
your heart. Don't you know that the heart is an ingenious part of
our formation--the centre of the blood-vessels and all that sort of
thing--which has no more to do with what you say or thinkthan
your knees have? How can you be so very vulgar and absurd? These
anatomical allusions should be left to gentlemen of the medical
profession. They are really not agreeable in society. You quite
surprise meNed.'

'Well! there are no such things to woundor healor have regard
for. I know your creedsirand will say no more' returned his
son.

'There again' said Mr Chestersipping his wine'you are wrong.


I distinctly say there are such things. We know there are. The
hearts of animals--of bullockssheepand so forth--are cooked and
devouredas I am toldby the lower classeswith a vast deal of
relish. Men are sometimes stabbed to the heartshot to the heart;
but as to speaking from the heartor to the heartor being warmhearted
or cold-heartedor broken-heartedor being all heartor
having no heart--pah! these things are nonsenseNed.'

'No doubtsir' returned his sonseeing that he paused for him to
speak. 'No doubt.'

'There's Haredale's nieceyour late flame' said Mr Chesteras a
careless illustration of his meaning. 'No doubt in your mind she
was all heart once. Now she has none at all. Yet she is the same
personNedexactly.'

'She is a changed personsir' cried Edwardreddening; 'and
changed by vile meansI believe.'

'You have had a cool dismissalhave you?' said his father. 'Poor
Ned! I told you last night what would happen.--May I ask you for
the nutcrackers?'

'She has been tampered withand most treacherously deceived'
cried Edwardrising from his seat. 'I never will believe that the
knowledge of my real positiongiven her by myselfhas worked this
change. I know she is beset and tortured. But though our contract
is at an endand broken past all redemption; though I charge upon
her want of firmness and want of truthboth to herself and me; I
do not nowand never will believethat any sordid motiveor her
own unbiassed willhas led her to this course--never!'

'You make me blush' returned his father gaily'for the folly of
your naturein which--but we never know ourselves--I devoutly hope
there is no reflection of my own. With regard to the young lady
herselfshe has done what is very natural and propermy dear
fellow; what you yourself proposedas I learn from Haredale; and
what I predicted--with no great exercise of sagacity--she would do.
She supposed you to be richor at least quite rich enough; and
found you poor. Marriage is a civil contract; people marry to
better their worldly condition and improve appearances; it is an
affair of house and furnitureof liveriesservantsequipageand
so forth. The lady being poor and you poor alsothere is an end
of the matter. You cannot enter upon these considerationsand
have no manner of business with the ceremony. I drink her health
in this glassand respect and honour her for her extreme good
sense. It is a lesson to you. Fill yoursNed.'

'It is a lesson' returned his son'by which I hope I may never
profitand if years and experience impress it on--'

'Don't say on the heart' interposed his father.

'On men whom the world and its hypocrisy have spoiled' said Edward
warmly'Heaven keep me from its knowledge.'

'Comesir' returned his fatherraising himself a little on the
sofaand looking straight towards him; 'we have had enough of
this. Rememberif you pleaseyour interestyour dutyyour
moral obligationsyour filial affectionsand all that sort of
thingwhich it is so very delightful and charming to reflect upon;
or you will repent it.'

'I shall never repent the preservation of my self-respectsir'


said Edward. 'Forgive me if I say that I will not sacrifice it at
your biddingand that I will not pursue the track which you would
have me takeand to which the secret share you have had in this
late separation tends.'

His father rose a little higher stilland looking at him as though
curious to know if he were quite resolved and earnestdropped
gently down againand said in the calmest voice--eating his nuts
meanwhile

'Edwardmy father had a sonwho being a fool like youandlike
youentertaining low and disobedient sentimentshe disinherited
and cursed one morning after breakfast. The circumstance occurs to
me with a singular clearness of recollection this evening. I
remember eating muffins at the timewith marmalade. He led a
miserable life (the sonI mean) and died early; it was a happy
release on all accounts; he degraded the family very much. It is a
sad circumstanceEdwardwhen a father finds it necessary to
resort to such strong measures.

'It is' replied Edward'and it is sad when a sonproffering him
his love and duty in their best and truest sensefinds himself
repelled at every turnand forced to disobey. Dear father' he
addedmore earnestly though in a gentler tone'I have reflected
many times on what occurred between us when we first discussed this
subject. Let there be a confidence between us; not in termsbut
truth. Hear what I have to say.'

'As I anticipate what it isand cannot fail to do soEdward'
returned his father coldly'I decline. I couldn't possibly. I am
sure it would put me out of temperwhich is a state of mind I
can't endure. If you intend to mar my plans for your establishment
in lifeand the preservation of that gentility and becoming pride
which our family have so long sustained--ifin shortyou are
resolved to take your own courseyou must take itand my curse
with it. I am very sorrybut there's really no alternative.'

'The curse may pass your lips' said Edward'but it will be but
empty breath. I do not believe that any man on earth has greater
power to call one down upon his fellow--least of allupon his own
child--than he has to make one drop of rain or flake of snow fall
from the clouds above us at his impious bidding. Bewaresirwhat
you do.'

'You are so very irreligiousso exceedingly undutifulso horribly
profane' rejoined his fatherturning his face lazily towards
himand cracking another nut'that I positively must interrupt
you here. It is quite impossible we can continue to go onupon
such terms as these. If you will do me the favour to ring the
bellthe servant will show you to the door. Return to this roof
no moreI beg you. Gosirsince you have no moral sense
remaining; and go to the Devilat my express desire. Good day.'

Edward left the room without another word or lookand turned his
back upon the house for ever.

The father's face was slightly flushed and heatedbut his manner
was quite unchangedas he rang the bell againand addressed the
servant on his entrance.

'Peak--if that gentleman who has just gone out--'

'I beg your pardonsirMr Edward?'


'Were there more than onedoltthat you ask the question?--If
that gentleman should send here for his wardrobelet him have it
do you hear? If he should call himself at any timeI'm not at
home. You'll tell him soand shut the door.'

Soit soon got whispered aboutthat Mr Chester was very
unfortunate in his sonwho had occasioned him great grief and
sorrow. And the good people who heard this and told it again
marvelled the more at his equanimity and even temperand said what
an amiable nature that man must havewhohaving undergone so
muchcould be so placid and so calm. And when Edward's name was
spokenSociety shook its headand laid its finger on its lipand
sighedand looked very grave; and those who had sons about his
agewaxed wrathful and indignantand hopedfor Virtue's sake
that he was dead. And the world went on turning roundas usual
for five yearsconcerning which this Narrative is silent.

Chapter 33

One wintry eveningearly in the year of our Lord one thousand
seven hundred and eightya keen north wind arose as it grew dark
and night came on with black and dismal looks. A bitter storm of
sleetsharpdenseand icy-coldswept the wet streetsand
rattled on the trembling windows. Signboardsshaken past
endurance in their creaking framesfell crashing on the pavement;
old tottering chimneys reeled and staggered in the blast; and many
a steeple rocked again that nightas though the earth were
troubled.

It was not a time for those who could by any means get light and
warmthto brave the fury of the weather. In coffee-houses of the
better sortguests crowded round the fireforgot to be political
and told each other with a secret gladness that the blast grew
fiercer every minute. Each humble tavern by the water-sidehad
its group of uncouth figures round the hearthwho talked of
vessels foundering at seaand all hands lost; related many a
dismal tale of shipwreck and drowned menand hoped that some they
knew were safeand shook their heads in doubt. In private
dwellingschildren clustered near the blaze; listening with timid
pleasure to tales of ghosts and goblinsand tall figures clad in
white standing by bed-sidesand people who had gone to sleep in
old churches and being overlooked had found themselves alone there
at the dead hour of the night: until they shuddered at the thought
of the dark rooms upstairsyet loved to hear the wind moan too
and hoped it would continue bravely. From time to time these happy
indoor people stopped to listenor one held up his finger and
cried 'Hark!' and thenabove the rumbling in the chimneyand the
fast pattering on the glasswas heard a wailingrushing sound
which shook the walls as though a giant's hand were on them; then a
hoarse roar as if the sea had risen; then such a whirl and tumult
that the air seemed mad; and thenwith a lengthened howlthe
waves of wind swept onand left a moment's interval of rest.

Cheerilythough there were none abroad to see itshone the
Maypole light that evening. Blessings on the red--deepruby
glowing red--old curtain of the window; blending into one rich
stream of brightnessfire and candlemeatdrinkand company
and gleaming like a jovial eye upon the bleak waste out of doors!
Withinwhat carpet like its crunching sandwhat music merry as
its crackling logswhat perfume like its kitchen's dainty breath


what weather genial as its hearty warmth! Blessings on the old
househow sturdily it stood! How did the vexed wind chafe and
roar about its stalwart roof; how did it pant and strive with its
wide chimneyswhich still poured forth from their hospitable
throatsgreat clouds of smokeand puffed defiance in its face;
howabove alldid it drive and rattle at the casementemulous to
extinguish that cheerful glowwhich would not be put down and
seemed the brighter for the conflict!

The profusion toothe rich and lavish bountyof that goodly
tavern! It was not enough that one fire roared and sparkled on its
spacious hearth; in the tiles which paved and compassed itfive
hundred flickering fires burnt brightly also. It was not enough
that one red curtain shut the wild night outand shed its cheerful
influence on the room. In every saucepan lidand candlestickand
vessel of copperbrassor tin that hung upon the wallswere
countless ruddy hangingsflashing and gleaming with every motion
of the blazeand offeringlet the eye wander where it might
interminable vistas of the same rich colour. The old oak
wainscotingthe beamsthe chairsthe seatsreflected it in a
deepdull glimmer. There were fires and red curtains in the very
eyes of the drinkersin their buttonsin their liquorin the
pipes they smoked.

Mr Willet sat in what had been his accustomed place five years
beforewith his eyes on the eternal boiler; and had sat there
since the clock struck eightgiving no other signs of life than
breathing with a loud and constant snore (though he was wide
awake)and from time to time putting his glass to his lipsor
knocking the ashes out of his pipeand filling it anew. It was
now half-past ten. Mr Cobb and long Phil Parkes were his
companionsas of oldand for two mortal hours and a halfnone of
the company had pronounced one word.

Whether peopleby dint of sitting together in the same place and
the same relative positionsand doing exactly the same things for
a great many yearsacquire a sixth senseor some unknown power of
influencing each other which serves them in its steadis a
question for philosophy to settle. But certain it is that old
John WilletMr Parkesand Mr Cobbwere one and all firmly of
opinion that they were very jolly companions--rather choice spirits
than otherwise; that they looked at each other every now and then
as if there were a perpetual interchange of ideas going on among
them; that no man considered himself or his neighbour by any means
silent; and that each of them nodded occasionally when he caught
the eye of anotheras if he would say'You have expressed
yourself extremely wellsirin relation to that sentimentand I
quite agree with you.'

The room was so very warmthe tobacco so very goodand the fire
so very soothingthat Mr Willet by degrees began to doze; but as
he had perfectly acquiredby dint of long habitthe art of
smoking in his sleepand as his breathing was pretty much the
sameawake or asleepsaving that in the latter case he sometimes
experienced a slight difficulty in respiration (such as a carpenter
meets with when he is planing and comes to a knot)neither of his
companions was aware of the circumstanceuntil he met with one of
these impediments and was obliged to try again.

'Johnny's dropped off' said Mr Parkes in a whisper.

'Fast as a top' said Mr Cobb.

Neither of them said any more until Mr Willet came to another knot-



one of surpassing obduracy--which bade fair to throw him into
convulsionsbut which he got over at last without wakingby an
effort quite superhuman.

'He sleeps uncommon hard' said Mr Cobb.

Mr Parkeswho was possibly a hard-sleeper himselfreplied with
some disdain'Not a bit on it;' and directed his eyes towards a
handbill pasted over the chimney-piecewhich was decorated at the
top with a woodcut representing a youth of tender years running
away very fastwith a bundle over his shoulder at the end of a
stickand--to carry out the idea--a finger-post and a milestone
beside him. Mr Cobb likewise turned his eyes in the same
directionand surveyed the placard as if that were the first time
he had ever beheld it. Nowthis was a document which Mr Willet
had himself indited on the disappearance of his son Joseph
acquainting the nobility and gentry and the public in general with
the circumstances of his having left his home; describing his dress
and appearance; and offering a reward of five pounds to any person
or persons who would pack him up and return him safely to the
Maypole at Chigwellor lodge him in any of his Majesty's jails
until such time as his father should come and claim him. In this
advertisement Mr Willet had obstinately persisteddespite the
advice and entreaties of his friendsin describing his son as a
'young boy;' and furthermore as being from eighteen inches to a
couple of feet shorter than he really was; two circumstances which
perhaps accountedin some degreefor its never having been
productive of any other effect than the transmission to Chigwell
at various times and at a vast expenseof some five-and-forty
runaways varying from six years old to twelve.

Mr Cobb and Mr Parkes looked mysteriously at this compositionat
each otherand at old John. From the time he had pasted it up
with his own handsMr Willet had never by word or sign alluded to
the subjector encouraged any one else to do so. Nobody had the
least notion what his thoughts or opinions wereconnected with it;
whether he remembered it or forgot it; whether he had any idea that
such an event had ever taken place. Thereforeeven while he
sleptno one ventured to refer to it in his presence; and for such
sufficient reasonsthese his chosen friends were silent now.

Mr Willet had got by this time into such a complication of knots
that it was perfectly clear he must wake or die. He chose the
former alternativeand opened his eyes.

'If he don't come in five minutes' said John'I shall have supper
without him.'

The antecedent of this pronoun had been mentioned for the last time
at eight o'clock. Messrs Parkes and Cobb being used to this style
of conversationreplied without difficulty that to be sure Solomon
was very lateand they wondered what had happened to detain him.

'He an't blown awayI suppose' said Parkes. 'It's enough to
carry a man of his figure off his legsand easy too. Do you hear
it? It blows great gunsindeed. There'll be many a crash in the
Forest to-nightI reckonand many a broken branch upon the ground
to-morrow.'

'It won't break anything in the MaypoleI take itsir' returned
old John. 'Let it try. I give it leave--what's that?'

'The wind' cried Parkes. 'It's howling like a Christianand has
been all night long.'


'Did you eversir' asked Johnafter a minute's contemplation
'hear the wind say "Maypole"?'

'Whywhat man ever did?' said Parkes.

'Nor "ahoy perhaps?' added John.

'No. Nor that neither.'

'Very good, sir,' said Mr Willet, perfectly unmoved; 'then if that
was the wind just now, and you'll wait a little time without
speaking, you'll hear it say both words very plain.'

Mr Willet was right. After listening for a few moments, they could
clearly hear, above the roar and tumult out of doors, this shout
repeated; and that with a shrillness and energy, which denoted that
it came from some person in great distress or terror. They looked
at each other, turned pale, and held their breath. No man stirred.

It was in this emergency that Mr Willet displayed something of that
strength of mind and plenitude of mental resource, which rendered
him the admiration of all his friends and neighbours. After
looking at Messrs Parkes and Cobb for some time in silence, he
clapped his two hands to his cheeks, and sent forth a roar which
made the glasses dance and rafters ring--a long-sustained,
discordant bellow, that rolled onward with the wind, and startling
every echo, made the night a hundred times more boisterous--a deep,
loud, dismal bray, that sounded like a human gong. Then, with
every vein in his head and face swollen with the great exertion,
and his countenance suffused with a lively purple, he drew a little
nearer to the fire, and turning his back upon it, said with dignity:

'If that's any comfort to anybody, they're welcome to it. If it
an't, I'm sorry for 'em. If either of you two gentlemen likes to
go out and see what's the matter, you can. I'm not curious,
myself.'

While he spoke the cry drew nearer and nearer, footsteps passed the
window, the latch of the door was raised, it opened, was violently
shut again, and Solomon Daisy, with a lighted lantern in his hand,
and the rain streaming from his disordered dress, dashed into the
room.

A more complete picture of terror than the little man presented, it
would be difficult to imagine. The perspiration stood in beads
upon his face, his knees knocked together, his every limb trembled,
the power of articulation was quite gone; and there he stood,
panting for breath, gazing on them with such livid ashy looks, that
they were infected with his fear, though ignorant of its occasion,
and, reflecting his dismayed and horror-stricken visage, stared
back again without venturing to question him; until old John
Willet, in a fit of temporary insanity, made a dive at his cravat,
and, seizing him by that portion of his dress, shook him to and fro
until his very teeth appeared to rattle in his head.

'Tell us what's the matter, sir,' said John, 'or I'll kill you.
Tell us what's the matter, sir, or in another second I'll have your
head under the biler. How dare you look like that? Is anybody afollowing
of you? What do you mean? Say something, or I'll be the
death of you, I will.'

Mr Willet, in his frenzy, was so near keeping his word to the very
letter (Solomon Daisy's eyes already beginning to roll in an


alarming manner, and certain guttural sounds, as of a choking man,
to issue from his throat), that the two bystanders, recovering in
some degree, plucked him off his victim by main force, and placed
the little clerk of Chigwell in a chair. Directing a fearful gaze
all round the room, he implored them in a faint voice to give him
some drink; and above all to lock the house-door and close and bar
the shutters of the room, without a moment's loss of time. The
latter request did not tend to reassure his hearers, or to fill
them with the most comfortable sensations; they complied with it,
however, with the greatest expedition; and having handed him a
bumper of brandy-and-water, nearly boiling hot, waited to hear what
he might have to tell them.

'Oh, Johnny,' said Solomon, shaking him by the hand. 'Oh, Parkes.
Oh, Tommy Cobb. Why did I leave this house to-night! On the
nineteenth of March--of all nights in the year, on the nineteenth
of March!'

They all drew closer to the fire. Parkes, who was nearest to the
door, started and looked over his shoulder. Mr Willet, with great
indignation, inquired what the devil he meant by that--and then
said, 'God forgive me,' and glanced over his own shoulder, and came
a little nearer.

'When I left here to-night,' said Solomon Daisy, 'I little thought
what day of the month it was. I have never gone alone into the
church after dark on this day, for seven-and-twenty years. I have
heard it said that as we keep our birthdays when we are alive, so
the ghosts of dead people, who are not easy in their graves, keep
the day they died upon.--How the wind roars!'

Nobody spoke. All eyes were fastened on Solomon.

'I might have known,' he said, 'what night it was, by the foul
weather. There's no such night in the whole year round as this is,
always. I never sleep quietly in my bed on the nineteenth of
March.'

'Go on,' said Tom Cobb, in a low voice. 'Nor I neither.'

Solomon Daisy raised his glass to his lips; put it down upon the
floor with such a trembling hand that the spoon tinkled in it like
a little bell; and continued thus:

'Have I ever said that we are always brought back to this subject
in some strange way, when the nineteenth of this month comes round?
Do you suppose it was by accident, I forgot to wind up the churchclock?
I never forgot it at any other time, though it's such a
clumsy thing that it has to be wound up every day. Why should it
escape my memory on this day of all others?

'I made as much haste down there as I could when I went from here,
but I had to go home first for the keys; and the wind and rain
being dead against me all the way, it was pretty well as much as I
could do at times to keep my legs. I got there at last, opened the
church-door, and went in. I had not met a soul all the way, and
you may judge whether it was dull or not. Neither of you would
bear me company. If you could have known what was to come, you'd
have been in the right.

'The wind was so strong, that it was as much as I could do to shut
the church-door by putting my whole weight against it; and even as
it was, it burst wide open twice, with such strength that any of
you would have sworn, if you had been leaning against it, as I was,


that somebody was pushing on the other side. However, I got the
key turned, went into the belfry, and wound up the clock--which was
very near run down, and would have stood stock-still in half an
hour.

'As I took up my lantern again to leave the church, it came upon me
all at once that this was the nineteenth of March. It came upon me
with a kind of shock, as if a hand had struck the thought upon my
forehead; at the very same moment, I heard a voice outside the
tower--rising from among the graves.'

Here old John precipitately interrupted the speaker, and begged
that if Mr Parkes (who was seated opposite to him and was staring
directly over his head) saw anything, he would have the goodness
to mention it. Mr Parkes apologised, and remarked that he was only
listening; to which Mr Willet angrily retorted, that his listening
with that kind of expression in his face was not agreeable, and
that if he couldn't look like other people, he had better put his
pocket-handkerchief over his head. Mr Parkes with great submission
pledged himself to do so, if again required, and John Willet
turning to Solomon desired him to proceed. After waiting until a
violent gust of wind and rain, which seemed to shake even that
sturdy house to its foundation, had passed away, the little man
complied:

'Never tell me that it was my fancy, or that it was any other sound
which I mistook for that I tell you of. I heard the wind whistle
through the arches of the church. I heard the steeple strain and
creak. I heard the rain as it came driving against the walls. I
felt the bells shake. I saw the ropes sway to and fro. And I
heard that voice.'

'What did it say?' asked Tom Cobb.

'I don't know what; I don't know that it spoke. It gave a kind of
cry, as any one of us might do, if something dreadful followed us
in a dream, and came upon us unawares; and then it died off:
seeming to pass quite round the church.'

'I don't see much in that,' said John, drawing a long breath, and
looking round him like a man who felt relieved.

'Perhaps not,' returned his friend, 'but that's not all.'

'What more do you mean to say, sir, is to come?' asked John,
pausing in the act of wiping his face upon his apron. 'What are
you a-going to tell us of next?'

'What I saw.'

'Saw!' echoed all three, bending forward.

'When I opened the church-door to come out,' said the little man,
with an expression of face which bore ample testimony to the
sincerity of his conviction, 'when I opened the church-door to come
out, which I did suddenly, for I wanted to get it shut again before
another gust of wind came up, there crossed me--so close, that by
stretching out my finger I could have touched it--something in the
likeness of a man. It was bare-headed to the storm. It turned its
face without stopping, and fixed its eyes on mine. It was a ghost-a
spirit.'

'Whose?' they all three cried together.


In the excess of his emotion (for he fell back trembling in his
chair, and waved his hand as if entreating them to question him no
further), his answer was lost on all but old John Willet, who
happened to be seated close beside him.

'Who!' cried Parkes and Tom Cobb, looking eagerly by turns at
Solomon Daisy and at Mr Willet. 'Who was it?'

'Gentlemen,' said Mr Willet after a long pause, 'you needn't ask.
The likeness of a murdered man. This is the nineteenth of March.'

A profound silence ensued.

'If you'll take my advice,' said John, 'we had better, one and all,
keep this a secret. Such tales would not be liked at the Warren.
Let us keep it to ourselves for the present time at all events, or
we may get into trouble, and Solomon may lose his place. Whether
it was really as he says, or whether it wasn't, is no matter.
Right or wrong, nobody would believe him. As to the probabilities,
I don't myself think,' said Mr Willet, eyeing the corners of the
room in a manner which showed that, like some other philosophers,
he was not quite easy in his theory, 'that a ghost as had been a
man of sense in his lifetime, would be out a-walking in such
weather--I only know that I wouldn't, if I was one.'

But this heretical doctrine was strongly opposed by the other
three, who quoted a great many precedents to show that bad weather
was the very time for such appearances; and Mr Parkes (who had had
a ghost in his family, by the mother's side) argued the matter with
so much ingenuity and force of illustration, that John was only
saved from having to retract his opinion by the opportune
appearance of supper, to which they applied themselves with a
dreadful relish. Even Solomon Daisy himself, by dint of the
elevating influences of fire, lights, brandy, and good company, so
far recovered as to handle his knife and fork in a highly
creditable manner, and to display a capacity both of eating and
drinking, such as banished all fear of his having sustained any
lasting injury from his fright.

Supper done, they crowded round the fire again, and, as is common
on such occasions, propounded all manner of leading questions
calculated to surround the story with new horrors and surprises.
But Solomon Daisy, notwithstanding these temptations, adhered so
steadily to his original account, and repeated it so often, with
such slight variations, and with such solemn asseverations of its
truth and reality, that his hearers were (with good reason) more
astonished than at first. As he took John Willet's view of the
matter in regard to the propriety of not bruiting the tale abroad,
unless the spirit should appear to him again, in which case it
would be necessary to take immediate counsel with the clergyman, it
was solemnly resolved that it should be hushed up and kept quiet.
And as most men like to have a secret to tell which may exalt their
own importance, they arrived at this conclusion with perfect
unanimity.

As it was by this time growing late, and was long past their usual
hour of separating, the cronies parted for the night. Solomon
Daisy, with a fresh candle in his lantern, repaired homewards under
the escort of long Phil Parkes and Mr Cobb, who were rather more
nervous than himself. Mr Willet, after seeing them to the door,
returned to collect his thoughts with the assistance of the boiler,
and to listen to the storm of wind and rain, which had not yet
abated one jot of its fury.


Chapter 34

Before old John had looked at the boiler quite twenty minutes, he
got his ideas into a focus, and brought them to bear upon Solomon
Daisy's story. The more he thought of it, the more impressed he
became with a sense of his own wisdom, and a desire that Mr
Haredale should be impressed with it likewise. At length, to the
end that he might sustain a principal and important character in
the affair; and might have the start of Solomon and his two
friends, through whose means he knew the adventure, with a variety
of exaggerations, would be known to at least a score of people, and
most likely to Mr Haredale himself, by breakfast-time to-morrow; he
determined to repair to the Warren before going to bed.

'He's my landlord,' thought John, as he took a candle in his hand,
and setting it down in a corner out of the wind's way, opened a
casement in the rear of the house, looking towards the stables.
'We haven't met of late years so often as we used to do--changes
are taking place in the family--it's desirable that I should stand
as well with them, in point of dignity, as possible--the whispering
about of this here tale will anger him--it's good to have
confidences with a gentleman of his natur', and set one's-self
right besides. Halloa there! Hugh--Hugh. Hal-loa!'

When he had repeated this shout a dozen times, and startled every
pigeon from its slumbers, a door in one of the ruinous old
buildings opened, and a rough voice demanded what was amiss now,
that a man couldn't even have his sleep in quiet.

'What! Haven't you sleep enough, growler, that you're not to be
knocked up for once?' said John.

'No,' replied the voice, as the speaker yawned and shook himself.
'Not half enough.'

'I don't know how you CAN sleep, with the wind a bellowsing and
roaring about you, making the tiles fly like a pack of cards,' said
John; 'but no matter for that. Wrap yourself up in something or
another, and come here, for you must go as far as the Warren with
me. And look sharp about it.'

Hugh, with much low growling and muttering, went back into his
lair; and presently reappeared, carrying a lantern and a cudgel,
and enveloped from head to foot in an old, frowzy, slouching horsecloth.
Mr Willet received this figure at the back-door, and
ushered him into the bar, while he wrapped himself in sundry
greatcoats and capes, and so tied and knotted his face in shawls
and handkerchiefs, that how he breathed was a mystery.

'You don't take a man out of doors at near midnight in such weather,
without putting some heart into him, do you, master?' said Hugh.

'Yes I do, sir,' returned Mr Willet. 'I put the heart (as you call
it) into him when he has brought me safe home again, and his
standing steady on his legs an't of so much consequence. So hold
that light up, if you please, and go on a step or two before, to
show the way.'

Hugh obeyed with a very indifferent grace, and a longing glance at
the bottles. Old John, laying strict injunctions on his cook to
keep the doors locked in his absence, and to open to nobody but


himself on pain of dismissal, followed him into the blustering
darkness out of doors.

The way was wet and dismal, and the night so black, that if Mr
Willet had been his own pilot, he would have walked into a deep
horsepond within a few hundred yards of his own house, and would
certainly have terminated his career in that ignoble sphere of
action. But Hugh, who had a sight as keen as any hawk's, and,
apart from that endowment, could have found his way blindfold to
any place within a dozen miles, dragged old John along, quite deaf
to his remonstrances, and took his own course without the slightest
reference to, or notice of, his master. So they made head against
the wind as they best could; Hugh crushing the wet grass beneath
his heavy tread, and stalking on after his ordinary savage
fashion; John Willet following at arm's length, picking his
steps, and looking about him, now for bogs and ditches, and now
for such stray ghosts as might be wandering abroad, with looks of
as much dismay and uneasiness as his immovable face was capable of
expressing.

At length they stood upon the broad gravel-walk before the Warrenhouse.
The building was profoundly dark, and none were moving near
it save themselves. From one solitary turret-chamber, however,
there shone a ray of light; and towards this speck of comfort in
the cold, cheerless, silent scene, Mr Willet bade his pilot lead
him.

'The old room,' said John, looking timidly upward; 'Mr Reuben's own
apartment, God be with us! I wonder his brother likes to sit
there, so late at night--on this night too.'

'Why, where else should he sit?' asked Hugh, holding the lantern to
his breast, to keep the candle from the wind, while he trimmed it
with his fingers. 'It's snug enough, an't it?'

'Snug!' said John indignantly. 'You have a comfortable idea of
snugness, you have, sir. Do you know what was done in that room,
you ruffian?'

'Why, what is it the worse for that!' cried Hugh, looking into
John's fat face. 'Does it keep out the rain, and snow, and wind,
the less for that? Is it less warm or dry, because a man was
killed there? Ha, ha, ha! Never believe it, master. One man's no
such matter as that comes to.'

Mr Willet fixed his dull eyes on his follower, and began--by a
species of inspiration--to think it just barely possible that he
was something of a dangerous character, and that it might be
advisable to get rid of him one of these days. He was too prudent
to say anything, with the journey home before him; and therefore
turned to the iron gate before which this brief dialogue had
passed, and pulled the handle of the bell that hung beside it. The
turret in which the light appeared being at one corner of the
building, and only divided from the path by one of the gardenwalks,
upon which this gate opened, Mr Haredale threw up the
window directly, and demanded who was there.

'Begging pardon, sir,' said John, 'I knew you sat up late, and made
bold to come round, having a word to say to you.'

'Willet--is it not?'

'Of the Maypole--at your service, sir.'


Mr Haredale closed the window, and withdrew. He presently appeared
at a door in the bottom of the turret, and coming across the
garden-walk, unlocked the gate and let them in.

'You are a late visitor, Willet. What is the matter?'

'Nothing to speak of, sir,' said John; 'an idle tale, I thought you
ought to know of; nothing more.'

'Let your man go forward with the lantern, and give me your hand.
The stairs are crooked and narrow. Gently with your light, friend.
You swing it like a censer.'

Hugh, who had already reached the turret, held it more steadily,
and ascended first, turning round from time to time to shed his
light downward on the steps. Mr Haredale following next, eyed his
lowering face with no great favour; and Hugh, looking down on him,
returned his glances with interest, as they climbed the winding
stairs.

It terminated in a little ante-room adjoining that from which they
had seen the light. Mr Haredale entered first, and led the way
through it into the latter chamber, where he seated himself at a
writing-table from which he had risen when they had rung the bell.

'Come in,' he said, beckoning to old John, who remained bowing at
the door. 'Not you, friend,' he added hastily to Hugh, who entered
also. 'Willet, why do you bring that fellow here?'

'Why, sir,' returned John, elevating his eyebrows, and lowering his
voice to the tone in which the question had been asked him, 'he's a
good guard, you see.'

'Don't be too sure of that,' said Mr Haredale, looking towards him
as he spoke. 'I doubt it. He has an evil eye.'

'There's no imagination in his eye,' returned Mr Willet, glancing
over his shoulder at the organ in question, 'certainly.'

'There is no good there, be assured,' said Mr Haredale. 'Wait in
that little room, friend, and close the door between us.'

Hugh shrugged his shoulders, and with a disdainful look, which
showed, either that he had overheard, or that he guessed the
purport of their whispering, did as he was told. When he was shut
out, Mr Haredale turned to John, and bade him go on with what he
had to say, but not to speak too loud, for there were quick ears
yonder.

Thus cautioned, Mr Willet, in an oily whisper, recited all that he
had heard and said that night; laying particular stress upon his
own sagacity, upon his great regard for the family, and upon his
solicitude for their peace of mind and happiness. The story moved
his auditor much more than he had expected. Mr Haredale often
changed his attitude, rose and paced the room, returned again,
desired him to repeat, as nearly as he could, the very words that
Solomon had used, and gave so many other signs of being disturbed
and ill at ease, that even Mr Willet was surprised.

'You did quite right,' he said, at the end of a long conversation,
'to bid them keep this story secret. It is a foolish fancy on the
part of this weak-brained man, bred in his fears and superstition.
But Miss Haredale, though she would know it to be so, would be
disturbed by it if it reached her ears; it is too nearly connected


with a subject very painful to us all, to be heard with
indifference. You were most prudent, and have laid me under a
great obligation. I thank you very much.'

This was equal to John's most sanguine expectations; but he would
have preferred Mr Haredale's looking at him when he spoke, as if he
really did thank him, to his walking up and down, speaking by fits
and starts, often stopping with his eyes fixed on the ground,
moving hurriedly on again, like one distracted, and seeming almost
unconscious of what he said or did.

This, however, was his manner; and it was so embarrassing to John
that he sat quite passive for a long time, not knowing what to
do. At length he rose. Mr Haredale stared at him for a moment as
though he had quite forgotten his being present, then shook hands
with him, and opened the door. Hugh, who was, or feigned to be,
fast asleep on the ante-chamber floor, sprang up on their entrance,
and throwing his cloak about him, grasped his stick and lantern,
and prepared to descend the stairs.

'Stay,' said Mr Haredale. 'Will this man drink?'

'Drink! He'd drink the Thames up, if it was strong enough, sir,
replied John Willet. 'He'll have something when he gets home.
He's better without it, now, sir.'

'Nay. Half the distance is done,' said Hugh. 'What a hard master
you are! I shall go home the better for one glassful, halfway.
Come!'

As John made no reply, Mr Haredale brought out a glass of liquor,
and gave it to Hugh, who, as he took it in his hand, threw part of
it upon the floor.

'What do you mean by splashing your drink about a gentleman's
house, sir?' said John.

'I'm drinking a toast,' Hugh rejoined, holding the glass above his
head, and fixing his eyes on Mr Haredale's face; 'a toast to this
house and its master.' With that he muttered something to himself,
and drank the rest, and setting down the glass, preceded them
without another word.

John was a good deal scandalised by this observance, but seeing
that Mr Haredale took little heed of what Hugh said or did, and
that his thoughts were otherwise employed, he offered no apology,
and went in silence down the stairs, across the walk, and through
the garden-gate. They stopped upon the outer side for Hugh to hold
the light while Mr Haredale locked it on the inner; and then John
saw with wonder (as he often afterwards related), that he was very
pale, and that his face had changed so much and grown so haggard
since their entrance, that he almost seemed another man.

They were in the open road again, and John Willet was walking on
behind his escort, as he had come, thinking very steadily of what
be had just now seen, when Hugh drew him suddenly aside, and almost
at the same instant three horsemen swept past--the nearest brushed
his shoulder even then--who, checking their steeds as suddenly as
they could, stood still, and waited for their coming up.

Chapter 35


When John Willet saw that the horsemen wheeled smartly round, and
drew up three abreast in the narrow road, waiting for him and his
man to join them, it occurred to him with unusual precipitation
that they must be highwaymen; and had Hugh been armed with a
blunderbuss, in place of his stout cudgel, he would certainly have
ordered him to fire it off at a venture, and would, while the word
of command was obeyed, have consulted his own personal safety in
immediate flight. Under the circumstances of disadvantage,
however, in which he and his guard were placed, he deemed it
prudent to adopt a different style of generalship, and therefore
whispered his attendant to address them in the most peaceable and
courteous terms. By way of acting up to the spirit and letter of
this instruction, Hugh stepped forward, and flourishing his staff
before the very eyes of the rider nearest to him, demanded roughly
what he and his fellows meant by so nearly galloping over them, and
why they scoured the king's highway at that late hour of night.

The man whom be addressed was beginning an angry reply in the same
strain, when be was checked by the horseman in the centre, who,
interposing with an air of authority, inquired in a somewhat loud
but not harsh or unpleasant voice:

'Pray, is this the London road?'

'If you follow it right, it is,' replied Hugh roughly.

'Nay, brother,' said the same person, 'you're but a churlish
Englishman, if Englishman you be--which I should much doubt but for
your tongue. Your companion, I am sure, will answer me more
civilly. How say you, friend?'

'I say it IS the London road, sir,' answered John. 'And I wish,'
he added in a subdued voice, as he turned to Hugh, 'that you was in
any other road, you vagabond. Are you tired of your life, sir,
that you go a-trying to provoke three great neck-or-nothing chaps,
that could keep on running over us, back'ards and for'ards, till we
was dead, and then take our bodies up behind 'em, and drown us ten
miles off?'

'How far is it to London?' inquired the same speaker.

'Why, from here, sir,' answered John, persuasively, 'it's thirteen
very easy mile.'

The adjective was thrown in, as an inducement to the travellers to
ride away with all speed; but instead of having the desired effect,
it elicited from the same person, the remark, 'Thirteen miles!
That's a long distance!' which was followed by a short pause of
indecision.

'Pray,' said the gentleman, 'are there any inns hereabouts?' At
the word 'inns,' John plucked up his spirit in a surprising manner;
his fears rolled off like smoke; all the landlord stirred within
him.

'There are no inns,' rejoined Mr Willet, with a strong emphasis on
the plural number; 'but there's a Inn--one Inn--the Maypole Inn.
That's a Inn indeed. You won't see the like of that Inn often.'

'You keep it, perhaps?' said the horseman, smiling.

'I do, sir,' replied John, greatly wondering how he had found this
out.


'And how far is the Maypole from here?'

'About a mile'--John was going to add that it was the easiest mile
in all the world, when the third rider, who had hitherto kept a
little in the rear, suddenly interposed:

'And have you one excellent bed, landlord? Hem! A bed that you
can recommend--a bed that you are sure is well aired--a bed that
has been slept in by some perfectly respectable and unexceptionable
person?'

'We don't take in no tagrag and bobtail at our house, sir,'
answered John. 'And as to the bed itself--'

'Say, as to three beds,' interposed the gentleman who had spoken
before; 'for we shall want three if we stay, though my friend only
speaks of one.'

'No, no, my lord; you are too good, you are too kind; but your life
is of far too much importance to the nation in these portentous
times, to be placed upon a level with one so useless and so poor as
mine. A great cause, my lord, a mighty cause, depends on you. You
are its leader and its champion, its advanced guard and its van.
It is the cause of our altars and our homes, our country and our
faith. Let ME sleep on a chair--the carpet--anywhere. No one will
repine if I take cold or fever. Let John Grueby pass the night
beneath the open sky--no one will repine for HIM. But forty
thousand men of this our island in the wave (exclusive of women and
children) rivet their eyes and thoughts on Lord George Gordon; and
every day, from the rising up of the sun to the going down of the
same, pray for his health and vigour. My lord,' said the speaker,
rising in his stirrups, 'it is a glorious cause, and must not be
forgotten. My lord, it is a mighty cause, and must not be
endangered. My lord, it is a holy cause, and must not be
deserted.'

'It IS a holy cause,' exclaimed his lordship, lifting up his hat
with great solemnity. 'Amen.'

'John Grueby,' said the long-winded gentleman, in a tone of mild
reproof, 'his lordship said Amen.'

'I heard my lord, sir,' said the man, sitting like a statue on his
horse.

'And do not YOU say Amen, likewise?'

To which John Grueby made no reply at all, but sat looking straight
before him.

'You surprise me, Grueby,' said the gentleman. 'At a crisis like
the present, when Queen Elizabeth, that maiden monarch, weeps
within her tomb, and Bloody Mary, with a brow of gloom and shadow,
stalks triumphant--'

'Oh, sir,' cied the man, gruffly, 'where's the use of talking of
Bloody Mary, under such circumstances as the present, when my
lord's wet through, and tired with hard riding? Let's either go on
to London, sir, or put up at once; or that unfort'nate Bloody Mary
will have more to answer for--and she's done a deal more harm in
her grave than she ever did in her lifetime, I believe.'

By this time Mr Willet, who had never beard so many words spoken


together at one time, or delivered with such volubility and
emphasis as by the long-winded gentleman; and whose brain, being
wholly unable to sustain or compass them, had quite given itself up
for lost; recovered so far as to observe that there was ample
accommodation at the Maypole for all the party: good beds; neat
wines; excellent entertainment for man and beast; private rooms for
large and small parties; dinners dressed upon the shortest notice;
choice stabling, and a lock-up coach-house; and, in short, to run
over such recommendatory scraps of language as were painted up on
various portions of the building, and which in the course of some
forty years he had learnt to repeat with tolerable correctness. He
was considering whether it was at all possible to insert any novel
sentences to the same purpose, when the gentleman who had spoken
first, turning to him of the long wind, exclaimed, 'What say you,
Gashford? Shall we tarry at this house he speaks of, or press
forward? You shall decide.'

'I would submit, my lord, then,' returned the person he appealed
to, in a silky tone, 'that your health and spirits--so important,
under Providence, to our great cause, our pure and truthful cause'-here
his lordship pulled off his hat again, though it was raining
hard--'require refreshment and repose.'

'Go on before, landlord, and show the way,' said Lord George
Gordon; 'we will follow at a footpace.'

'If you'll give me leave, my lord,' said John Grueby, in a low
voice, 'I'll change my proper place, and ride before you. The
looks of the landlord's friend are not over honest, and it may be
as well to be cautious with him.'

'John Grueby is quite right,' interposed Mr Gashford, falling back
hastily. 'My lord, a life so precious as yours must not be put in
peril. Go forward, John, by all means. If you have any reason to
suspect the fellow, blow his brains out.'

John made no answer, but looking straight before him, as his custom
seemed to be when the secretary spoke, bade Hugh push on, and
followed close behind him. Then came his lordship, with Mr Willet
at his bridle rein; and, last of all, his lordship's secretary--for
that, it seemed, was Gashford's office.

Hugh strode briskly on, often looking back at the servant, whose
horse was close upon his heels, and glancing with a leer at his
bolster case of pistols, by which he seemed to set great store. He
was a square-built, strong-made, bull-necked fellow, of the true
English breed; and as Hugh measured him with his eye, he measured
Hugh, regarding him meanwhile with a look of bluff disdain. He was
much older than the Maypole man, being to all appearance five-andforty;
but was one of those self-possessed, hard-headed,
imperturbable fellows, who, if they are ever beaten at fisticuffs,
or other kind of warfare, never know it, and go on coolly till they
win.

'If I led you wrong now,' said Hugh, tauntingly, 'you'd--ha ha ha!-you'd
shoot me through the head, I suppose.'

John Grueby took no more notice of this remark than if he had been
deaf and Hugh dumb; but kept riding on quite comfortably, with his
eyes fixed on the horizon.

'Did you ever try a fall with a man when you were young, master?'
said Hugh. 'Can you make any play at single-stick?'


John Grueby looked at him sideways with the same contented air, but
deigned not a word in answer.

'--Like this?' said Hugh, giving his cudgel one of those skilful
flourishes, in which the rustic of that time delighted. 'Whoop!'

'--Or that,' returned John Grueby, beating down his guard with his
whip, and striking him on the head with its butt end. 'Yes, I
played a little once. You wear your hair too long; I should have
cracked your crown if it had been a little shorter.'

It was a pretty smart, loud-sounding rap, as it was, and evidently
astonished Hugh; who, for the moment, seemed disposed to drag his
new acquaintance from his saddle. But his face betokening neither
malice, triumph, rage, nor any lingering idea that he had given him
offence; his eyes gazing steadily in the old direction, and his
manner being as careless and composed as if he had merely brushed
away a fly; Hugh was so puzzled, and so disposed to look upon him
as a customer of almost supernatural toughness, that he merely
laughed, and cried 'Well done!' then, sheering off a little, led
the way in silence.

Before the lapse of many minutes the party halted at the Maypole
door. Lord George and his secretary quickly dismounting, gave
their horses to their servant, who, under the guidance of Hugh,
repaired to the stables. Right glad to escape from the inclemency
of the night, they followed Mr Willet into the common room, and
stood warming themselves and drying their clothes before the
cheerful fire, while he busied himself with such orders and
preparations as his guest's high quality required.

As he bustled in and out of the room, intent on these
arrangements, he had an opportunity of observing the two
travellers, of whom, as yet, he knew nothing but the voice. The
lord, the great personage who did the Maypole so much honour, was
about the middle height, of a slender make, and sallow complexion,
with an aquiline nose, and long hair of a reddish brown, combed
perfectly straight and smooth about his ears, and slightly
powdered, but without the faintest vestige of a curl. He was
attired, under his greatcoat, in a full suit of black, quite free
from any ornament, and of the most precise and sober cut. The
gravity of his dress, together with a certain lankness of cheek
and stiffness of deportment, added nearly ten years to his age,
but his figure was that of one not yet past thirty. As he stood
musing in the red glow of the fire, it was striking to observe his
very bright large eye, which betrayed a restlessness of thought and
purpose, singularly at variance with the studied composure and
sobriety of his mien, and with his quaint and sad apparel. It had
nothing harsh or cruel in its expression; neither had his face,
which was thin and mild, and wore an air of melancholy; but it was
suggestive of an indefinable uneasiness; which infected those who
looked upon him, and filled them with a kind of pity for the man:
though why it did so, they would have had some trouble to explain.

Gashford, the secretary, was taller, angularly made, highshouldered,
bony, and ungraceful. His dress, in imitation of his
superior, was demure and staid in the extreme; his manner, formal
and constrained. This gentleman had an overhanging brow, great
hands and feet and ears, and a pair of eyes that seemed to have
made an unnatural retreat into his head, and to have dug themselves
a cave to hide in. His manner was smooth and humble, but very sly
and slinking. He wore the aspect of a man who was always lying in
wait for something that WOULDN'T come to pass; but he looked
patient--very patient--and fawned like a spaniel dog. Even now,


while he warmed and rubbed his hands before the blaze, he had the
air of one who only presumed to enjoy it in his degree as a
commoner; and though he knew his lord was not regarding him, he
looked into his face from time to time, and with a meek and
deferential manner, smiled as if for practice.

Such were the guests whom old John Willet, with a fixed and leaden
eye, surveyed a hundred times, and to whom he now advanced with a
state candlestick in each hand, beseeching them to follow him into
a worthier chamber. 'For my lord,' said John--it is odd enough,
but certain people seem to have as great a pleasure in pronouncing
titles as their owners have in wearing them--'this room, my lord,
isn't at all the sort of place for your lordship, and I have to
beg your lordship's pardon for keeping you here, my lord, one
minute.'

With this address, John ushered them upstairs into the state
apartment, which, like many other things of state, was cold and
comfortless. Their own footsteps, reverberating through the
spacious room, struck upon their hearing with a hollow sound; and
its damp and chilly atmosphere was rendered doubly cheerless by
contrast with the homely warmth they had deserted.

It was of no use, however, to propose a return to the place they
had quitted, for the preparations went on so briskly that there was
no time to stop them. John, with the tall candlesticks in his
hands, bowed them up to the fireplace; Hugh, striding in with a
lighted brand and pile of firewood, cast it down upon the hearth,
and set it in a blaze; John Grueby (who had a great blue cockade in
his hat, which he appeared to despise mightily) brought in the
portmanteau he had carried on his horse, and placed it on the
floor; and presently all three were busily engaged in drawing out
the screen, laying the cloth, inspecting the beds, lighting fires
in the bedrooms, expediting the supper, and making everything as
cosy and as snug as might be, on so short a notice. In less than
an hour's time, supper had been served, and ate, and cleared away;
and Lord George and his secretary, with slippered feet, and legs
stretched out before the fire, sat over some hot mulled wine
together.

'So ends, my lord,' said Gashford, filling his glass with great
complacency, 'the blessed work of a most blessed day.'

'And of a blessed yesterday,' said his lordship, raising his head.

'Ah!'--and here the secretary clasped his hands--'a blessed
yesterday indeed! The Protestants of Suffolk are godly men and
true. Though others of our countrymen have lost their way in
darkness, even as we, my lord, did lose our road to-night, theirs
is the light and glory.'

'Did I move them, Gashford ?' said Lord George.

'Move them, my lord! Move them! They cried to be led on against
the Papists, they vowed a dreadful vengeance on their heads, they
roared like men possessed--'

'But not by devils,' said his lord.

'By devils! my lord! By angels.'

'Yes--oh surely--by angels, no doubt,' said Lord George, thrusting
his hands into his pockets, taking them out again to bite his
nails, and looking uncomfortably at the fire. 'Of course by


angels--eh Gashford?'

'You do not doubt it, my lord?' said the secretary.

'No--No,' returned his lord. 'No. Why should I? I suppose it
would be decidedly irreligious to doubt it--wouldn't it, Gashford?
Though there certainly were,' he added, without waiting for an
answer, 'some plaguy ill-looking characters among them.'

'When you warmed,' said the secretary, looking sharply at the
other's downcast eyes, which brightened slowly as he spoke; 'when
you warmed into that noble outbreak; when you told them that you
were never of the lukewarm or the timid tribe, and bade them take
heed that they were prepared to follow one who would lead them on,
though to the very death; when you spoke of a hundred and twenty
thousand men across the Scottish border who would take their own
redress at any time, if it were not conceded; when you cried
Perish the Pope and all his base adherents; the penal laws against
them shall never be repealed while Englishmen have hearts and
hands"--and waved your own and touched your sword; and when they
cried "No Popery!" and you cried "No; not even if we wade in
blood and they threw up their hats and cried Hurrah! not even if
we wade in blood; No Popery! Lord George! Down with the Papists--
Vengeance on their heads:" when this was said and doneand a word
from youmy lordcould raise or still the tumult--ah! then I felt
what greatness was indeedand thoughtWhen was there ever power
like this of Lord George Gordon's!'

'It's a great power. You're right. It is a great power!' he cried
with sparkling eyes. 'But--dear Gashford--did I really say all
that?'

'And how much more!' cried the secretarylooking upwards. 'Ah!
how much more!'

'And I told them what you sayabout the one hundred and forty
thousand men in Scotlanddid I!' he asked with evident delight.
'That was bold.'

'Our cause is boldness. Truth is always bold.'

'Certainly. So is religion. She's boldGashford?'

'The true religion ismy lord.'

'And that's ours' he rejoinedmoving uneasily in his seatand
biting his nails as though he would pare them to the quick. 'There
can be no doubt of ours being the true one. You feel as certain of
that as I doGashforddon't you?'

'Does my lord ask ME' whined Gashforddrawing his chair nearer
with an injured airand laying his broad flat hand upon the table;
'ME' he repeatedbending the dark hollows of his eyes upon him
with an unwholesome smile'whostricken by the magic of his
eloquence in Scotland but a year agoabjured the errors of the
Romish churchand clung to him as one whose timely hand had
plucked me from a pit?'

'True. No--No. I--I didn't mean it' replied the othershaking
him by the handrising from his seatand pacing restlessly about
the room. 'It's a proud thing to lead the peopleGashford' he
added as he made a sudden halt.

'By force of reason too' returned the pliant secretary.


'Ayto be sure. They may cough and jeerand groan in Parliament
and call me fool and madmanbut which of them can raise this human
sea and make it swell and roar at pleasure? Not one.'

'Not one' repeated Gashford.

'Which of them can say for his honestywhat I can say for mine;
which of them has refused a minister's bribe of one thousand
pounds a yearto resign his seat in favour of another? Not one.'

'Not one' repeated Gashford again--taking the lion's share of the
mulled wine between whiles.

'And as we are honesttrueand in a sacred causeGashford' said
Lord George with a heightened colour and in a louder voiceas he
laid his fevered hand upon his shoulder'and are the only men who
regard the mass of people out of doorsor are regarded by themwe
will uphold them to the last; and will raise a cry against these
un-English Papists which shall re-echo through the countryand
roll with a noise like thunder. I will be worthy of the motto on
my coat of armsCalled and chosen and faithful.

'Called' said the secretary'by Heaven.'

'I am.'

'Chosen by the people.'

'Yes.'

'Faithful to both.'

'To the block!'

It would be difficult to convey an adequate idea of the excited
manner in which he gave these answers to the secretary's
promptings; of the rapidity of his utteranceor the violence of
his tone and gesture; in whichstruggling through his Puritan's
demeanourwas something wild and ungovernable which broke through
all restraint. For some minutes he walked rapidly up and down the
roomthen stopping suddenlyexclaimed

'Gashford--YOU moved them yesterday too. Oh yes! You did.'

'I shone with a reflected lightmy lord' replied the humble
secretarylaying his hand upon his heart. 'I did my best.'

'You did well' said his master'and are a great and worthy
instrument. If you will ring for John Grueby to carry the
portmanteau into my roomand will wait here while I undresswe
will dispose of business as usualif you're not too tired.'

'Too tiredmy lord!--But this is his consideration! Christian
from head to foot.' With which soliloquythe secretary tilted the
jugand looked very hard into the mulled wineto see how much
remained.

John Willet and John Grueby appeared together. The one bearing the
great candlesticksand the other the portmanteaushowed the
deluded lord into his chamber; and left the secretary aloneto
yawn and shake himselfand finally to fall asleep before the fire.

'NowMr Gashford sir' said John Grueby in his earafter what


appeared to him a moment of unconsciousness; 'my lord's abed.'

'Oh. Very goodJohn' was his mild reply. 'Thank youJohn.
Nobody need sit up. I know my room.'

'I hope you're not a-going to trouble your head to-nightor my
lord's head neitherwith anything more about Bloody Mary' said
John. 'I wish the blessed old creetur had never been born.'

'I said you might go to bedJohn' returned the secretary. 'You
didn't hear meI think.'

'Between Bloody Marysand blue cockadesand glorious Queen
Bessesand no Poperysand Protestant associationsand making of
speeches' pursued John Gruebylookingas usuala long way off
and taking no notice of this hint'my lord's half off his head.
When we go out o' doorssuch a set of ragamuffins comes ashouting
after usGordon forever!that I'm ashamed of myself
and don't know where to look. When we're indoorsthey come aroaring
and screaming about the house like so many devils; and my
lord instead of ordering them to be drove awaygoes out into the
balcony and demeans himself by making speeches to 'emand calls
'em "Men of England and Fellow-countrymen as if he was fond of
'em and thanked 'em for coming. I can't make it out, but they're
all mixed up somehow or another with that unfort'nate Bloody Mary,
and call her name out till they're hoarse. They're all Protestants
too--every man and boy among 'em: and Protestants are very fond of
spoons, I find, and silver-plate in general, whenever area-gates is
left open accidentally. I wish that was the worst of it, and that
no more harm might be to come; but if you don't stop these ugly
customers in time, Mr Gashford (and I know you; you're the man that
blows the fire), you'll find 'em grow a little bit too strong for
you. One of these evenings, when the weather gets warmer and
Protestants are thirsty, they'll be pulling London down,--and I
never heard that Bloody Mary went as far as THAT.'

Gashford had vanished long ago, and these remarks had been bestowed
on empty air. Not at all discomposed by the discovery, John Grueby
fixed his hat on, wrongside foremost that he might be unconscious
of the shadow of the obnoxious cockade, and withdrew to bed;
shaking his head in a very gloomy and prophetic manner until he
reached his chamber.

Chapter 36

Gashford, with a smiling face, but still with looks of profound
deference and humility, betook himself towards his master's room,
smoothing his hair down as he went, and humming a psalm tune. As
he approached Lord George's door, he cleared his throat and hummed
more vigorously.

There was a remarkable contrast between this man's occupation at
the moment, and the expression of his countenance, which was
singularly repulsive and malicious. His beetling brow almost
obscured his eyes; his lip was curled contemptuously; his very
shoulders seemed to sneer in stealthy whisperings with his great
flapped ears.

'Hush!' he muttered softly, as he peeped in at the chamber-door.
'He seems to be asleep. Pray Heaven he is! Too much watching, too
much care, too much thought--ah! Lord preserve him for a martyr!


He is a saint, if ever saint drew breath on this bad earth.'

Placing his light upon a table, he walked on tiptoe to the fire,
and sitting in a chair before it with his back towards the bed,
went on communing with himself like one who thought aloud:

'The saviour of his country and his country's religion, the friend
of his poor countrymen, the enemy of the proud and harsh; beloved
of the rejected and oppressed, adored by forty thousand bold and
loyal English hearts--what happy slumbers his should be!' And here
he sighed, and warmed his hands, and shook his head as men do when
their hearts are full, and heaved another sigh, and warmed his
hands again.

'Why, Gashford?' said Lord George, who was lying broad awake, upon
his side, and had been staring at him from his entrance.

'My--my lord,' said Gashford, starting and looking round as though
in great surprise. 'I have disturbed you!'

'I have not been sleeping.'

'Not sleeping!' he repeated, with assumed confusion. 'What can I
say for having in your presence given utterance to thoughts--but
they were sincere--they were sincere!' exclaimed the secretary,
drawing his sleeve in a hasty way across his eyes; 'and why should
I regret your having heard them?'

'Gashford,' said the poor lord, stretching out his hand with
manifest emotion. 'Do not regret it. You love me well, I know-too
well. I don't deserve such homage.'

Gashford made no reply, but grasped the hand and pressed it to his
lips. Then rising, and taking from the trunk a little desk, he
placed it on a table near the fire, unlocked it with a key he
carried in his pocket, sat down before it, took out a pen, and,
before dipping it in the inkstand, sucked it--to compose the
fashion of his mouth perhaps, on which a smile was hovering yet.

'How do our numbers stand since last enrolling-night?' inquired
Lord George. 'Are we really forty thousand strong, or do we still
speak in round numbers when we take the Association at that amount?'

'Our total now exceeds that number by a score and three,' Gashford
replied, casting his eyes upon his papers.

'The funds?'

'Not VERY improving; but there is some manna in the wilderness, my
lord. Hem! On Friday night the widows' mites dropped in. Forty
scavengersthree and fourpence. An aged pew-opener of St Martin's
parishsixpence. A bell-ringer of the established church
sixpence. A Protestant infantnewly bornone halfpenny. The
United Link Boysthree shillings--one bad. The anti-popish
prisoners in Newgatefive and fourpence. A friend in Bedlam
half-a-crown. Dennis the hangmanone shilling."'

'That Dennis' said his lordship'is an earnest man. I marked him
in the crowd in Welbeck Streetlast Friday.'

'A good man' rejoined the secretary'a staunchsincereand
truly zealous man.'

'He should be encouraged' said Lord George. 'Make a note of


Dennis. I'll talk with him.'

Gashford obeyedand went on reading from his list:

'"The Friends of Reasonhalf-a-guinea. The Friends of Liberty
half-a-guinea. The Friends of Peacehalf-a-guinea. The Friends
of Charityhalf-a-guinea. The Friends of Mercyhalf-a-guinea.
The Associated Rememberers of Bloody Maryhalf-a-guinea. The
United Bulldogshalf-a-guinea."'

'The United Bulldogs' said Lord Georgebiting his nails most
horribly'are a new societyare they not?'

'Formerly the 'Prentice Knightsmy lord. The indentures of the
old members expiring by degreesthey changed their nameit seems
though they still have 'prentices among themas well as workmen.'

'What is their president's name?' inquired Lord George.

'President' said Gashfordreading'Mr Simon Tappertit.'

'I remember him. The little manwho sometimes brings an elderly
sister to our meetingsand sometimes another female toowho is
conscientiousI have no doubtbut not well-favoured?'

'The very samemy lord.'

'Tappertit is an earnest man' said Lord Georgethoughtfully.
'EhGashford?'

'One of the foremost among them allmy lord. He snuffs the battle
from afarlike the war-horse. He throws his hat up in the street
as if he were inspiredand makes most stirring speeches from the
shoulders of his friends.'

'Make a note of Tappertit' said Lord George Gordon. 'We may
advance him to a place of trust.'

'That' rejoined the secretarydoing as he was told'is all-except
Mrs Varden's box (fourteenth time of opening)seven
shillings and sixpence in silver and copperand half-a-guinea in
gold; and Miggs (being the saving of a quarter's wages)one-andthreepence.'


'Miggs' said Lord George. 'Is that a man?'

'The name is entered on the list as a woman' replied the
secretary. 'I think she is the tall spare female of whom you spoke
just nowmy lordas not being well-favouredwho sometimes comes
to hear the speeches--along with Tappertit and Mrs Varden.'

'Mrs Varden is the elderly lady thenis she?'

The secretary noddedand rubbed the bridge of his nose with the
feather of his pen.

'She is a zealous sister' said Lord George. 'Her collection goes
on prosperouslyand is pursued with fervour. Has her husband
joined?'

'A malignant' returned the secretaryfolding up his papers.
'Unworthy such a wife. He remains in outer darkness and steadily
refuses.'


'The consequences be upon his own head!--Gashford!'

'My lord!'

'You don't think' he turned restlessly in his bed as he spoke
'these people will desert mewhen the hour arrives? I have spoken
boldly for themventured muchsuppressed nothing. They'll not
fall offwill they?'

'No fear of thatmy lord' said Gashfordwith a meaning look
which was rather the involuntary expression of his own thoughts
than intended as any confirmation of his wordsfor the other's
face was turned away. 'Be sure there is no fear of that.'

'Nor' he said with a more restless motion than before'of their-but
they CAN sustain no harm from leaguing for this purpose. Right
is on our sidethough Might may be against us. You feel as sure
of that as I--honestlyyou do?'

The secretary was beginning with 'You do not doubt' when the other
interrupted himand impatiently rejoined:

'Doubt. No. Who says I doubt? If I doubtedshould I cast away
relativesfriendseverythingfor this unhappy country's sake;
this unhappy country' he criedspringing up in bedafter
repeating the phrase 'unhappy country's sake' to himselfat least
a dozen times'forsaken of God and mandelivered over to a
dangerous confederacy of Popish powers; the prey of corruption
idolatryand despotism! Who says I doubt? Am I calledand
chosenand faithful? Tell me. Am Ior am I not?'

'To Godthe countryand yourself' cried Gashford.

'I am. I will be. I say againI will be: to the block. Who says
as much! Do you? Does any man alive?'

The secretary drooped his head with an expression of perfect
acquiescence in anything that had been said or might be; and Lord
George gradually sinking down upon his pillowfell asleep.

Although there was something very ludicrous in his vehement manner
taken in conjunction with his meagre aspect and ungraceful
presenceit would scarcely have provoked a smile in any man of
kindly feeling; or even if it hadhe would have felt sorry and
almost angry with himself next momentfor yielding to the impulse.
This lord was sincere in his violence and in his wavering. A
nature prone to false enthusiasmand the vanity of being a leader
were the worst qualities apparent in his composition. All the rest
was weakness--sheer weakness; and it is the unhappy lot of
thoroughly weak menthat their very sympathiesaffections
confidences--all the qualities which in better constituted minds
are virtues--dwindle into foiblesor turn into downright vices.

Gashfordwith many a sly look towards the bedsat chuckling at
his master's follyuntil his deep and heavy breathing warned him
that he might retire. Locking his deskand replacing it within
the trunk (but not before he had taken from a secret lining two
printed handbills)he cautiously withdrew; looking backas he
wentat the pale face of the slumbering manabove whose head the
dusty plumes that crowned the Maypole couchwaved drearily and
sadly as though it were a bier.

Stopping on the staircase to listen that all was quietand to take
off his shoes lest his footsteps should alarm any light sleeper who


might be near at handhe descended to the ground floorand thrust
one of his bills beneath the great door of the house. That done
he crept softly back to his own chamberand from the window let
another fall--carefully wrapt round a stone to save it from the
wind--into the yard below.

They were addressed on the back 'To every Protestant into whose
hands this shall come' and bore within what follows:

'Men and Brethren. Whoever shall find this letterwill take it as
a warning to joinwithout delaythe friends of Lord George
Gordon. There are great events at hand; and the times are
dangerous and troubled. Read this carefullykeep it cleanand
drop it somewhere else. For King and Country. Union.'

'More seedmore seed' said Gashford as he closed the window.
'When will the harvest come!'

Chapter 37

To surround anythinghowever monstrous or ridiculouswith an air
of mysteryis to invest it with a secret charmand power of
attraction which to the crowd is irresistible. False priests
false prophetsfalse doctorsfalse patriotsfalse prodigies of
every kindveiling their proceedings in mysteryhave always
addressed themselves at an immense advantage to the popular
credulityand have beenperhapsmore indebted to that resource
in gaining and keeping for a time the upper hand of Truth and
Common Sensethan to any half-dozen items in the whole catalogue
of imposture. Curiosity isand has been from the creation of the
worlda master-passion. To awaken itto gratify it by slight
degreesand yet leave something always in suspenseis to
establish the surest hold that can be hadin wrongon the
unthinking portion of mankind.

If a man had stood on London Bridgecalling till he was hoarse
upon the passers-byto join with Lord George Gordonalthough for
an object which no man understoodand which in that very incident
had a charm of its own--the probability isthat he might have
influenced a score of people in a month. If all zealous
Protestants had been publicly urged to join an association for the
avowed purpose of singing a hymn or two occasionallyand hearing
some indifferent speeches madeand ultimately of petitioning
Parliament not to pass an act for abolishing the penal laws against
Roman Catholic prieststhe penalty of perpetual imprisonment
denounced against those who educated children in that persuasion
and the disqualification of all members of the Romish church to
inherit real property in the United Kingdom by right of purchase or
descent--matters so far removed from the business and bosoms of
the massmight perhaps have called together a hundred people. But
when vague rumours got abroadthat in this Protestant association
a secret power was mustering against the government for undefined
and mighty purposes; when the air was filled with whispers of a
confederacy among the Popish powers to degrade and enslave England
establish an inquisition in Londonand turn the pens of Smithfield
market into stakes and cauldrons; when terrors and alarms which no
man understood were perpetually broachedboth in and out of
Parliamentby one enthusiast who did not understand himselfand
bygone bugbears which had lain quietly in their graves for
centurieswere raised again to haunt the ignorant and credulous;
when all this was doneas it werein the darkand secret


invitations to join the Great Protestant Association in defence of
religionlifeand libertywere dropped in the public ways
thrust under the house-doorstossed in at windowsand pressed
into the hands of those who trod the streets by night; when they
glared from every walland shone on every post and pillarso that
stocks and stones appeared infected with the common fearurging
all men to join together blindfold in resistance of they knew not
whatthey knew not why;--then the mania spread indeedand the
bodystill increasing every daygrew forty thousand strong.

So saidat leastin this month of March1780Lord George
Gordonthe Association's president. Whether it was the fact or
otherwisefew men knew or cared to ascertain. It had never made
any public demonstration; had scarcely ever been heard ofsave
through him; had never been seen; and was supposed by many to be
the mere creature of his disordered brain. He was accustomed to
talk largely about numbers of men--stimulatedas it was inferred
by certain successful disturbancesarising out of the same
subjectwhich had occurred in Scotland in the previous year; was
looked upon as a cracked-brained member of the lower housewho
attacked all parties and sided with noneand was very little
regarded. It was known that there was discontent abroad--there
always is; he had been accustomed to address the people by placard
speechand pamphletupon other questions; nothing had comein
Englandof his past exertionsand nothing was apprehended from
his present. Just as he has come upon the readerhe had come
from time to timeupon the publicand been forgotten in a day; as
suddenly as he appears in these pagesafter a blank of five long
yearsdid he and his proceedings begin to force themselvesabout
this periodupon the notice of thousands of peoplewho had
mingled in active life during the whole intervaland whowithout
being deaf or blind to passing eventshad scarcely ever thought of
him before.

'My lord' said Gashford in his earas he drew the curtains of his
bed betimes; 'my lord!'

'Yes--who's that? What is it?'

'The clock has struck nine' returned the secretarywith meekly
folded hands. 'You have slept well? I hope you have slept well?
If my prayers are heardyou are refreshed indeed.'

'To say the truthI have slept so soundly' said Lord George
rubbing his eyes and looking round the room'that I don't remember
quite--what place is this?'

'My lord!' cried Gashfordwith a smile.

'Oh!' returned his superior. 'Yes. You're not a Jew then?'

'A Jew!' exclaimed the pious secretaryrecoiling.

'I dreamed that we were JewsGashford. You and I--both of us--
Jews with long beards.'

'Heaven forbidmy lord! We might as well be Papists.'

'I suppose we might' returned the othervery quickly. 'Eh? You
really think soGashford?'

'Surely I do' the secretary criedwith looks of great surprise.

'Humph!' he muttered. 'Yesthat seems reasonable.'


'I hope my lord--' the secretary began.

'Hope!' he echoedinterrupting him. 'Why do you sayyou hope?
There's no harm in thinking of such things.'

'Not in dreams' returned the Secretary.

'In dreams! Nonor waking either.'

--'"Calledand chosenand faithful' said Gashford, taking up
Lord George's watch which lay upon a chair, and seeming to read the
inscription on the seal, abstractedly.

It was the slightest action possible, not obtruded on his notice,
and apparently the result of a moment's absence of mind, not worth
remark. But as the words were uttered, Lord George, who had been
going on impetuously, stopped short, reddened, and was silent.
Apparently quite unconscious of this change in his demeanour, the
wily Secretary stepped a little apart, under pretence of pulling up
the window-blind, and returning when the other had had time to
recover, said:

'The holy cause goes bravely on, my lord. I was not idle, even
last night. I dropped two of the handbills before I went to bed,
and both are gone this morning. Nobody in the house has mentioned
the circumstance of finding them, though I have been downstairs
full half-an-hour. One or two recruits will be their first fruit,
I predict; and who shall say how many more, with Heaven's blessing
on your inspired exertions!'

'It was a famous device in the beginning,' replied Lord George; 'an
excellent device, and did good service in Scotland. It was quite
worthy of you. You remind me not to be a sluggard, Gashford, when
the vineyard is menaced with destruction, and may be trodden down
by Papist feet. Let the horses be saddled in half-an-hour. We
must be up and doing!'

He said this with a heightened colour, and in a tone of such
enthusiasm, that the secretary deemed all further prompting
needless, and withdrew.

--'Dreamed he was a Jew,' he said thoughtfully, as he closed the
bedroom door. 'He may come to that before he dies. It's like
enough. Well! After a time, and provided I lost nothing by it, I
don't see why that religion shouldn't suit me as well as any
other. There are rich men among the Jews; shaving is very
troublesome;--yes, it would suit me well enough. For the present,
though, we must be Christian to the core. Our prophetic motto will
suit all creeds in their turn, that's a comfort.' Reflecting on
this source of consolation, he reached the sitting-room, and rang
the bell for breakfast.

Lord George was quickly dressed (for his plain toilet was easily
made), and as he was no less frugal in his repasts than in his
Puritan attire, his share of the meal was soon dispatched. The
secretary, however, more devoted to the good things of this world,
or more intent on sustaining his strength and spirits for the sake
of the Protestant cause, ate and drank to the last minute, and
required indeed some three or four reminders from John Grueby,
before he could resolve to tear himself away from Mr Willet's
plentiful providing.

At length he came downstairs, wiping his greasy mouth, and having


paid John Willet's bill, climbed into his saddle. Lord George, who
had been walking up and down before the house talking to himself
with earnest gestures, mounted his horse; and returning old John
Willet's stately bow, as well as the parting salutation of a dozen
idlers whom the rumour of a live lord being about to leave the
Maypole had gathered round the porch, they rode away, with stout
John Grueby in the rear.

If Lord George Gordon had appeared in the eyes of Mr Willet,
overnight, a nobleman of somewhat quaint and odd exterior, the
impression was confirmed this morning, and increased a hundredfold.
Sitting bolt upright upon his bony steed, with his long, straight
hair, dangling about his face and fluttering in the wind; his limbs
all angular and rigid, his elbows stuck out on either side
ungracefully, and his whole frame jogged and shaken at every motion
of his horse's feet; a more grotesque or more ungainly figure can
hardly be conceived. In lieu of whip, he carried in his hand a
great gold-headed cane, as large as any footman carries in these
days, and his various modes of holding this unwieldy weapon--now
upright before his face like the sabre of a horse-soldier, now over
his shoulder like a musket, now between his finger and thumb, but
always in some uncouth and awkward fashion--contributed in no small
degree to the absurdity of his appearance. Stiff, lank, and
solemn, dressed in an unusual manner, and ostentatiously
exhibiting--whether by design or accident--all his peculiarities of
carriage, gesture, and conduct, all the qualities, natural and
artificial, in which he differed from other men; he might have
moved the sternest looker-on to laughter, and fully provoked the
smiles and whispered jests which greeted his departure from the
Maypole inn.

Quite unconscious, however, of the effect he produced, he trotted
on beside his secretary, talking to himself nearly all the way,
until they came within a mile or two of London, when now and then
some passenger went by who knew him by sight, and pointed him out
to some one else, and perhaps stood looking after him, or cried in
jest or earnest as it might be, 'Hurrah Geordie! No Popery!' At
which he would gravely pull off his hat, and bow. When they
reached the town and rode along the streets, these notices became
more frequent; some laughed, some hissed, some turned their heads
and smiled, some wondered who he was, some ran along the pavement
by his side and cheered. When this happened in a crush of carts
and chairs and coaches, he would make a dead stop, and pulling off
his hat, cry, 'Gentlemen, No Popery!' to which the gentlemen would
respond with lusty voices, and with three times three; and then, on
he would go again with a score or so of the raggedest, following at
his horse's heels, and shouting till their throats were parched.

The old ladies too--there were a great many old ladies in the
streets, and these all knew him. Some of them--not those of the
highest rank, but such as sold fruit from baskets and carried
burdens--clapped their shrivelled hands, and raised a weazen,
piping, shrill 'Hurrah, my lord.' Others waved their hands or
handkerchiefs, or shook their fans or parasols, or threw up windows
and called in haste to those within, to come and see. All these
marks of popular esteem, he received with profound gravity and
respect; bowing very low, and so frequently that his hat was more
off his head than on; and looking up at the houses as he passed
along, with the air of one who was making a public entry, and yet
was not puffed up or proud.

So they rode (to the deep and unspeakable disgust of John Grueby)
the whole length of Whitechapel, Leadenhall Street, and Cheapside,
and into St Paul's Churchyard. Arriving close to the cathedral, he


halted; spoke to Gashford; and looking upward at its lofty dome,
shook his head, as though he said, 'The Church in Danger!' Then to
be sure, the bystanders stretched their throats indeed; and he went
on again with mighty acclamations from the mob, and lower bows than
ever.

So along the Strand, up Swallow Street, into the Oxford Road, and
thence to his house in Welbeck Street, near Cavendish Square,
whither he was attended by a few dozen idlers; of whom he took
leave on the steps with this brief parting, 'Gentlemen, No Popery.
Good day. God bless you.' This being rather a shorter address
than they expected, was received with some displeasure, and cries
of 'A speech! a speech!' which might have been complied with, but
that John Grueby, making a mad charge upon them with all three
horses, on his way to the stables, caused them to disperse into the
adjoining fields, where they presently fell to pitch and toss,
chuck-farthing, odd or even, dog-fighting, and other Protestant
recreations.

In the afternoon Lord George came forth again, dressed in a black
velvet coat, and trousers and waistcoat of the Gordon plaid, all of
the same Quaker cut; and in this costume, which made him look a
dozen times more strange and singular than before, went down on
foot to Westminster. Gashford, meanwhile, bestirred himself in
business matters; with which he was still engaged when, shortly
after dusk, John Grueby entered and announced a visitor.

'Let him come in,' said Gashford.

'Here! come in!' growled John to somebody without; 'You're a
Protestant, an't you?'

'I should think so,' replied a deep, gruff voice.

'You've the looks of it,' said John Grueby. 'I'd have known you
for one, anywhere.' With which remark he gave the visitor
admission, retired, and shut the door.

The man who now confronted Gashford, was a squat, thickset
personage, with a low, retreating forehead, a coarse shock head of
hair, and eyes so small and near together, that his broken nose
alone seemed to prevent their meeting and fusing into one of the
usual size. A dingy handkerchief twisted like a cord about his
neck, left its great veins exposed to view, and they were swollen
and starting, as though with gulping down strong passions, malice,
and ill-will. His dress was of threadbare velveteen--a faded,
rusty, whitened black, like the ashes of a pipe or a coal fire
after a day's extinction; discoloured with the soils of many a
stale debauch, and reeking yet with pot-house odours. In lieu of
buckles at his knees, he wore unequal loops of packthread; and in
his grimy hands he held a knotted stick, the knob of which was
carved into a rough likeness of his own vile face. Such was the
visitor who doffed his three-cornered hat in Gashford's presence,
and waited, leering, for his notice.

'Ah! Dennis!' cried the secretary. 'Sit down.'

'I see my lord down yonder--' cried the man, with a jerk of his
thumb towards the quarter that he spoke of, 'and he says to me,
says my lord, If you've nothing to doDennisgo up to my house
and talk with Muster Gashford." Of course I'd nothing to doyou
know. These an't my working hours. Ha ha! I was a-taking the air
when I see my lordthat's what I was doing. I takes the air by
nightas the howls doesMuster Gashford.'


And sometimes in the day-timeeh?' said the secretary--'when you
go out in stateyou know.'

'Ha ha!' roared the fellowsmiting his leg; 'for a gentleman as
'ull say a pleasant thing in a pleasant waygive me Muster
Gashford agin' all London and Westminster! My lord an't a bad 'un
at thatbut he's a fool to you. Ah to be sure--when I go out in
state.'

'And have your carriage' said the secretary; 'and your chaplain
eh? and all the rest of it?'

'You'll be the death of me' cried Denniswith another roar'you
will. But what's in the wind nowMuster Gashford' he asked
hoarsely'Eh? Are we to be under orders to pull down one of them
Popish chapels--or what?'

'Hush!' said the secretarysuffering the faintest smile to play
upon his face. 'Hush! God bless meDennis! We associateyou
knowfor strictly peaceable and lawful purposes.'

'I knowbless you' returned the manthrusting his tongue into
his cheek; 'I entered a' purposedidn't I!'

'No doubt' said Gashfordsmiling as before. And when he said so
Dennis roared againand smote his leg still harderand falling
into fits of laughterwiped his eyes with the corner of his
neckerchiefand cried'Muster Gashford agin' all England hollow!'

'Lord George and I were talking of you last night' said Gashford
after a pause. 'He says you are a very earnest fellow.'

'So I am' returned the hangman.

'And that you truly hate the Papists.'

'So I do' and he confirmed it with a good round oath. 'Lookye
hereMuster Gashford' said the fellowlaying his hat and stick
upon the floorand slowly beating the palm of one hand with the
fingers of the other; 'Ob-serve. I'm a constitutional officer that
works for my livingand does my work creditable. Do Ior do I
not?'

'Unquestionably.'

'Very good. Stop a minute. My workis soundProtestant
constitutionalEnglish work. Is itor is it not?'

'No man alive can doubt it.'

'Nor dead neither. Parliament says this here--says ParliamentIf
any man, woman, or child, does anything which goes again a certain
number of our acts--how many hanging laws may there be at this
present timeMuster Gashford? Fifty?'

'I don't exactly know how many' replied Gashfordleaning back in
his chair and yawning; 'a great number though.'

'Wellsay fifty. Parliament saysIf any man, woman, or child,
does anything again any one of them fifty acts, that man, woman, or
child, shall be worked off by Dennis.George the Third steps in
when they number very strong at the end of a sessionsand says
These are too many for Dennis. I'll have half for myself and


Dennis shall have half for himself;and sometimes he throws me in
one over that I don't expectas he did three year agowhen I got
Mary Jonesa young woman of nineteen who come up to Tyburn with a
infant at her breastand was worked off for taking a piece of
cloth off the counter of a shop in Ludgate Hilland putting it
down again when the shopman see her; and who had never done any
harm beforeand only tried to do thatin consequence of her
husband having been pressed three weeks previousand she being
left to begwith two young children--as was proved upon the trial.
Ha ha!--Well! That being the law and the practice of Englandis
the glory of Englandan't itMuster Gashford?'

'Certainly' said the secretary.

'And in times to come' pursued the hangman'if our grandsons
should think of their grandfathers' timesand find these things
alteredthey'll sayThose were days indeed, and we've been going
down hill ever since.Won't theyMuster Gashford?'

'I have no doubt they will' said the secretary.

'Well thenlook here' said the hangman. 'If these Papists gets
into powerand begins to boil and roast instead of hangwhat
becomes of my work! If they touch my work that's a part of so many
lawswhat becomes of the laws in generalwhat becomes of the
religionwhat becomes of the country!--Did you ever go to church
Muster Gashford?'

'Ever!' repeated the secretary with some indignation; 'of course.'

'Well' said the ruffian'I've been once--twicecounting the time
I was christened--and when I heard the Parliament prayed forand
thought how many new hanging laws they made every sessionsI
considered that I was prayed for. Now mindMuster Gashford' said
the fellowtaking up his stick and shaking it with a ferocious
air'I mustn't have my Protestant work touchednor this here
Protestant state of things altered in no degreeif I can help it;
I mustn't have no Papists interfering with meunless they come to
be worked off in course of law; I mustn't have no bilingno
roastingno frying--nothing but hanging. My lord may well call
me an earnest fellow. In support of the great Protestant principle
of having plenty of thatI'll' and here he beat his club upon the
ground'burnfightkill--do anything you bid meso that it's
bold and devilish--though the end of it wasthat I got hung
myself.--ThereMuster Gashford!'

He appropriately followed up this frequent prostitution of a noble
word to the vilest purposesby pouring out in a kind of ecstasy at
least a score of most tremendous oaths; then wiped his heated face
upon his neckerchiefand cried'No Popery! I'm a religious man
by G--!'

Gashford had leant back in his chairregarding him with eyes so
sunkenand so shadowed by his heavy browsthat for aught the
hangman saw of themhe might have been stone blind. He remained
smiling in silence for a short time longerand then saidslowly
and distinctly:

'You are indeed an earnest fellowDennis--a most valuable fellow-the
staunchest man I know of in our ranks. But you must calm
yourself; you must be peacefullawfulmild as any lamb. I am
sure you will be though.'

'Ayaywe shall seeMuster Gashfordwe shall see. You won't


have to complain of me' returned the othershaking his head.

'I am sure I shall not' said the secretary in the same mild tone
and with the same emphasis. 'We shall havewe thinkabout next
monthor Maywhen this Papist relief bill comes before the house
to convene our whole body for the first time. My lord has thoughts
of our walking in procession through the streets--just as an
innocent display of strength--and accompanying our petition down to
the door of the House of Commons.'

'The sooner the better' said Denniswith another oath.

'We shall have to draw up in divisionsour numbers being so large;
andI believe I may venture to say' resumed Gashfordaffecting
not to hear the interruption'though I have no direct instructions
to that effect--that Lord George has thought of you as an excellent
leader for one of these parties. I have no doubt you would be an
admirable one.'

'Try me' said the fellowwith an ugly wink.

'You would be coolI know' pursued the secretarystill smiling
and still managing his eyes so that he could watch him closelyand
really not be seen in turn'obedient to ordersand perfectly
temperate. You would lead your party into no dangerI am certain.'

'I'd lead themMuster Gashford'--the hangman was beginning in a
reckless waywhen Gashford started forwardlaid his finger on his
lipsand feigned to writejust as the door was opened by John
Grueby.

'Oh!' said Johnlooking in; 'here's another Protestant.'

'Some other roomJohn' cried Gashford in his blandest voice. 'I
am engaged just now.'

But John had brought this new visitor to the doorand he walked in
unbiddenas the words were uttered; giving to view the form and
featuresrough attireand reckless airof Hugh.

Chapter 38

The secretary put his hand before his eyes to shade them from the
glare of the lampand for some moments looked at Hugh with a
frowning browas if he remembered to have seen him latelybut
could not call to mind whereor on what occasion. His uncertainty
was very brieffor before Hugh had spoken a wordhe saidas his
countenance cleared up:

'AyayI recollect. It's quite rightJohnyou needn't wait.
Don't goDennis.'

'Your servantmaster' said Hughas Grueby disappeared.

'Yoursfriend' returned the secretary in his smoothest manner.
'What brings YOU here? We left nothing behind usI hope?'

Hugh gave a short laughand thrusting his hand into his breast
produced one of the handbillssoiled and dirty from lying out of
doors all nightwhich he laid upon the secretary's desk after
flattening it upon his kneeand smoothing out the wrinkles with


his heavy palm.

'Nothing but thatmaster. It fell into good handsyou see.'

'What is this!' said Gashfordturning it over with an air of
perfectly natural surprise. 'Where did you get it frommy good
fellow; what does it mean? I don't understand this at all.'

A little disconcerted by this receptionHugh looked from the
secretary to Denniswho had risen and was standing at the table
tooobserving the stranger by stealthand seeming to derive the
utmost satisfaction from his manners and appearance. Considering
himself silently appealed to by this actionMr Dennis shook his
head thriceas if to say of Gashford'No. He don't know anything
at all about it. I know he don't. I'll take my oath he don't;'
and hiding his profile from Hugh with one long end of his frowzy
neckerchiefnodded and chuckled behind this screen in extreme
approval of the secretary's proceedings.

'It tells the man that finds itto come heredon't it?' asked
Hugh. 'I'm no scholarmyselfbut I showed it to a friendand he
said it did.'

'It certainly does' said Gashfordopening his eyes to their
utmost width; 'really this is the most remarkable circumstance I
have ever known. How did you come by this piece of papermy good
friend?'

'Muster Gashford' wheezed the hangman under his breath'agin' all
Newgate!'

Whether Hugh heard himor saw by his manner that he was being
played uponor perceived the secretary's drift of himselfhe came
in his blunt way to the point at once.

'Here!' he saidstretching out his hand and taking it back; 'never
mind the billor what it saysor what it don't say. You don't
know anything about itmaster--no more do I--no more does he'
glancing at Dennis. 'None of us know what it meansor where it
comes from: there's an end of that. Now I want to make one against
the CatholicsI'm a No-Popery manand ready to be sworn in.
That's what I've come here for.'

'Put him down on the rollMuster Gashford' said Dennis
approvingly. 'That's the way to go to work--right to the end at
onceand no palaver.'

'What's the use of shooting wide of the markehold boy!' cried
Hugh.

'My sentiments all over!' rejoined the hangman. 'This is the sort
of chap for my divisionMuster Gashford. Down with himsir. Put
him on the roll. I'd stand godfather to himif he was to be
christened in a bonfiremade of the ruins of the Bank of England.'

With these and other expressions of confidence of the like
flattering kindMr Dennis gave him a hearty slap on the back
which Hugh was not slow to return.

'No Poperybrother!' cried the hangman.

'No Propertybrother!' responded Hugh.

'PoperyPopery' said the secretary with his usual mildness.


'It's all the same!' cried Dennis. 'It's all right. Down with
himMuster Gashford. Down with everybodydown with everything!
Hurrah for the Protestant religion! That's the time of day
Muster Gashford!'

The secretary regarded them both with a very favourable expression
of countenancewhile they gave loose to these and other
demonstrations of their patriotic purpose; and was about to make
some remark aloudwhen Dennisstepping up to himand shading his
mouth with his handsaidin a hoarse whisperas he nudged him
with his elbow:

'Don't split upon a constitutional officer's professionMuster
Gashford. There are popular prejudicesyou knowand he mightn't
like it. Wait till he comes to be more intimate with me. He's a
fine-built chapan't he?'

'A powerful fellow indeed!'

'Did you everMuster Gashford' whispered Denniswith a horrible
kind of admirationsuch as that with which a cannibal might regard
his intimate friendwhen hungry--'did you ever--and here he drew
still closer to his earand fenced his mouth with both his open
bands--'see such a throat as his? Do but cast your eye upon it.
There's a neck for stretchingMuster Gashford!'

The secretary assented to this proposition with the best grace he
could assume--it is difficult to feign a true professional relish:
which is eccentric sometimes--and after asking the candidate a few
unimportant questionsproceeded to enrol him a member of the Great
Protestant Association of England. If anything could have exceeded
Mr Dennis's joy on the happy conclusion of this ceremonyit would
have been the rapture with which he received the announcement that
the new member could neither read nor write: those two arts being
(as Mr Dennis swore) the greatest possible curse a civilised
community could knowand militating more against the professional
emoluments and usefulness of the great constitutional office he had
the honour to holdthan any adverse circumstances that could
present themselves to his imagination.

The enrolment being completedand Hugh having been informed by
Gashfordin his peculiar mannerof the peaceful and strictly
lawful objects contemplated by the body to which he now belonged-during
which recital Mr Dennis nudged him very much with his elbow
and made divers remarkable faces--the secretary gave them both to
understand that he desired to be alone. Therefore they took their
leaves without delayand came out of the house together.

'Are you walkingbrother?' said Dennis.

'Ay!' returned Hugh. 'Where you will.'

'That's social' said his new friend. 'Which way shall we take?
Shall we go and have a look at doors that we shall make a pretty
good clattering atbefore long--ehbrother?'

Hugh answering in the affirmativethey went slowly down to
Westminsterwhere both houses of Parliament were then sitting.
Mingling in the crowd of carriageshorsesservantschairmen
link-boysportersand idlers of all kindsthey lounged about;
while Hugh's new friend pointed out to him significantly the weak
parts of the buildinghow easy it was to get into the lobbyand
so to the very door of the House of Commons; and how plainlywhen


they marched down there in grand arraytheir roars and shouts
would be heard by the members inside; with a great deal more to the
same purposeall of which Hugh received with manifest delight.

He told himtoowho some of the Lords and Commons wereby name
as they came in and out; whether they were friendly to the Papists
or otherwise; and bade him take notice of their liveries and
equipagesthat he might be sure of themin case of need.
Sometimes he drew him close to the windows of a passing carriage
that he might see its master's face by the light of the lamps; and
both in respect of people and localitieshe showed so much
acquaintance with everything aroundthat it was plain he had often
studied there before; as indeedwhen they grew a little more
confidentialhe confessed he had.

Perhaps the most striking part of all this wasthe number of
people--never in groups of more than two or three together--who
seemed to be skulking about the crowd for the same purpose. To the
greater part of thesea slight nod or a look from Hugh's companion
was sufficient greeting; butnow and thensome man would come and
stand beside him in the throngandwithout turning his head or
appearing to communicate with himwould say a word or two in a low
voicewhich he would answer in the same cautious manner. Then
they would partlike strangers. Some of these men often
reappeared again unexpectedly in the crowd close to Hughandas
they passed bypressed his handor looked him sternly in the
face; but they never spoke to himnor he to them; nonot a word.

It was remarkabletoothat whenever they happened to stand where
there was any press of peopleand Hugh chanced to be looking
downwardhe was sure to see an arm stretched out--under his own
perhapsor perhaps across him--which thrust some paper into the
hand or pocket of a bystanderand was so suddenly withdrawn that
it was impossible to tell from whom it came; nor could he see in
any faceon glancing quickly roundthe least confusion or
surprise. They often trod upon a paper like the one he carried in
his breastbut his companion whispered him not to touch it or to
take it up--not even to look towards it--so there they let them
lieand passed on.

When they had paraded the street and all the avenues of the
building in this manner for near two hoursthey turned awayand
his friend asked him what he thought of what he had seenand
whether he was prepared for a good hot piece of work if it should
come to that. The hotter the better' said Hugh'I'm prepared for
anything.'--'So am I' said his friend'and so are many of us;
and they shook hands upon it with a great oathand with many
terrible imprecations on the Papists.

As they were thirsty by this timeDennis proposed that they should
repair together to The Bootwhere there was good company and
strong liquor. Hugh yielding a ready assentthey bent their steps
that way with no loss of time.

This Boot was a lone house of public entertainmentsituated in the
fields at the back of the Foundling Hospital; a very solitary spot
at that periodand quite deserted after dark. The tavern stood at
some distance from any high roadand was approachable only by a
dark and narrow lane; so that Hugh was much surprised to find
several people drinking thereand great merriment going on. He
was still more surprised to find among them almost every face that
had caught his attention in the crowd; but his companion having
whispered him outside the doorthat it was not considered good
manners at The Boot to appear at all curious about the companyhe


kept his own counseland made no show of recognition.

Before putting his lips to the liquor which was brought for them
Dennis drank in a loud voice the health of Lord George Gordon
President of the Great Protestant Association; which toast Hugh
pledged likewisewith corresponding enthusiasm. A fiddler who was
presentand who appeared to act as the appointed minstrel of the
companyforthwith struck up a Scotch reel; and that in tones so
invigoratingthat Hugh and his friend (who had both been drinking
before) rose from their seats as by previous concertandto the
great admiration of the assembled guestsperformed an
extemporaneous No-Popery Dance.

Chapter 39

The applause which the performance of Hugh and his new friend
elicited from the company at The Boothad not yet subsidedand
the two dancers were still panting from their exertionswhich had
been of a rather extreme and violent characterwhen the party was
reinforced by the arrival of some more guestswhobeing a
detachment of United Bulldogswere received with very flattering
marks of distinction and respect.

The leader of this small party--forincluding himselfthey were
but three in number--was our old acquaintanceMr Tappertitwho
seemedphysically speakingto have grown smaller with years
(particularly as to his legswhich were stupendously little)but
whoin a moral point of viewin personal dignity and self-esteem
had swelled into a giant. Nor was it by any means difficult for
the most unobservant person to detect this state of feeling in the
quondam 'prenticefor it not only proclaimed itself impressively
and beyond mistake in his majestic walk and kindling eyebut found
a striking means of revelation in his turned-up nosewhich scouted
all things of earth with deep disdainand sought communion with
its kindred skies.

Mr Tappertitas chief or captain of the Bulldogswas attended by
his two lieutenants; onethe tall comrade of his younger life; the
othera 'Prentice Knight in days of yore--Mark Gilbertbound in
the olden time to Thomas Curzon of the Golden Fleece. These
gentlemenlike himselfwere now emancipated from their 'prentice
thraldomand served as journeymen; but they werein humble
emulation of his great examplebold and daring spiritsand
aspired to a distinguished state in great political events. Hence
their connection with the Protestant Association of England
sanctioned by the name of Lord George Gordon; and hence their
present visit to The Boot.

'Gentlemen!' said Mr Tappertittaking off his hat as a great
general might in addressing his troops. 'Well met. My lord does
me and you the honour to send his compliments per self.'

'You've seen my lord toohave you?' said Dennis. 'I see him this
afternoon.'

'My duty called me to the Lobby when our shop shut up; and I saw
him theresir' Mr Tappertit repliedas he and his lieutenants
took their seats. 'How do YOU do?'

'Livelymasterlively' said the fellow. 'Here's a new brother
regularly put down in black and white by Muster Gashford; a credit


to the cause; one of the stick-at-nothing sort; one arter my own
heart. D'ye see him? Has he got the looks of a man that'll dodo
you think?' he criedas he slapped Hugh on the back.

'Looks or no looks' said Hughwith a drunken flourish of his arm
'I'm the man you want. I hate the Papistsevery one of 'em. They
hate me and I hate them. They do me all the harm they canand
I'll do them all the harm I can. Hurrah!'

'Was there ever' said Dennislooking round the roomwhen the
echo of his boisterous voice bad died away; 'was there ever such a
game boy! WhyI mean to saybrothersthat if Muster Gashford
had gone a hundred mile and got together fifty men of the common
runthey wouldn't have been worth this one.'

The greater part of the company implicitly subscribed to this
opinionand testified their faith in Hugh by nods and looks of
great significance. Mr Tappertit sat and contemplated him for a
long time in silenceas if he suspended his judgment; then drew a
little nearer to himand eyed him over more carefully; then went
close up to himand took him apart into a dark corner.

'I say' he beganwith a thoughtful brow'haven't I seen you
before?'

'It's like you may' said Hughin his careless way. 'I don't
know; shouldn't wonder.'

'Nobut it's very easily settled' returned Sim. 'Look at me.
Did you ever see ME before? You wouldn't be likely to forget it
you knowif you ever did. Look at me. Don't be afraid; I won't
do you any harm. Take a good look--steady now.'

The encouraging way in which Mr Tappertit made this requestand
coupled it with an assurance that he needn't be frightenedamused
Hugh mightily--so much indeedthat be saw nothing at all of the
small man before himthrough closing his eyes in a fit of hearty
laughterwhich shook his great broad sides until they ached again.

'Come!' said Mr Tappertitgrowing a little impatient under this
disrespectful treatment. 'Do you know mefeller?'

'Not I' cried Hugh. 'Ha ha ha! Not I! But I should like to.'

'And yet I'd have wagered a seven-shilling piece said Mr
Tappertit, folding his arms, and confronting him with his legs wide
apart and firmly planted on the ground, 'that you once were hostler
at the Maypole.'

Hugh opened his eyes on hearing this, and looked at him in great
surprise.

'--And so you were, too,' said Mr Tappertit, pushing him away with
a condescending playfulness. 'When did MY eyes ever deceive-unless
it was a young woman! Don't you know me now?'

'Why it an't--' Hugh faltered.

'An't it?' said Mr Tappertit. 'Are you sure of that? You remember

G. Varden, don't you?'
Certainly Hugh did, and he remembered D. Varden too; but that he
didn't tell him.


'You remember coming down there, before I was out of my time, to
ask after a vagabond that had bolted off, and left his disconsolate
father a prey to the bitterest emotions, and all the rest of it-don't
you?' said Mr Tappertit.

'Of course I do!' cried Hugh. 'And I saw you there.'

'Saw me there!' said Mr Tappertit. 'Yes, I should think you did
see me there. The place would be troubled to go on without me.
Don't you remember my thinking you liked the vagabond, and on that
account going to quarrel with you; and then finding you detested
him worse than poison, going to drink with you? Don't you remember
that?'

'To be sure!' cried Hugh.

'Well! and are you in the same mind now?' said Mr Tappertit.

'Yes!' roared Hugh.

'You speak like a man,' said Mr Tappertit, 'and I'll shake hands
with you.' With these conciliatory expressions he suited the
action to the word; and Hugh meeting his advances readily, they
performed the ceremony with a show of great heartiness.

'I find,' said Mr Tappertit, looking round on the assembled guests,
'that brother What's-his-name and I are old acquaintance.--You
never heard anything more of that rascal, I suppose, eh?'

'Not a syllable,' replied Hugh. 'I never want to. I don't believe
I ever shall. He's dead long ago, I hope.'

'It's to be hoped, for the sake of mankind in general and the
happiness of society, that he is,' said Mr Tappertit, rubbing his
palm upon his legs, and looking at it between whiles. 'Is your
other hand at all cleaner? Much the same. Well, I'll owe you
another shake. We'll suppose it done, if you've no objection.'

Hugh laughed again, and with such thorough abandonment to his mad
humour, that his limbs seemed dislocated, and his whole frame in
danger of tumbling to pieces; but Mr Tappertit, so far from
receiving this extreme merriment with any irritation, was pleased
to regard it with the utmost favour, and even to join in it, so far
as one of his gravity and station could, with any regard to that
decency and decorum which men in high places are expected to
maintain.

Mr Tappertit did not stop here, as many public characters might
have done, but calling up his brace of lieutenants, introduced Hugh
to them with high commendation; declaring him to be a man who, at
such times as those in which they lived, could not be too much
cherished. Further, he did him the honour to remark, that he would
be an acquisition of which even the United Bulldogs might be proud;
and finding, upon sounding him, that he was quite ready and willing
to enter the society (for he was not at all particular, and would
have leagued himself that night with anything, or anybody, for any
purpose whatsoever), caused the necessary preliminaries to be gone
into upon the spot. This tribute to his great merit delighted no
man more than Mr Dennis, as he himself proclaimed with several rare
and surprising oaths; and indeed it gave unmingled satisfaction to
the whole assembly.

'Make anything you like of me!' cried Hugh, flourishing the can he
had emptied more than once. 'Put me on any duty you please. I'm


your man. I'll do it. Here's my captain--here's my leader. Ha ha
ha! Let him give me the word of command, and I'll fight the whole
Parliament House single-handed, or set a lighted torch to the
King's Throne itself!' With that, he smote Mr Tappertit on the
back, with such violence that his little body seemed to shrink into
a mere nothing; and roared again until the very foundlings near at
hand were startled in their beds.

In fact, a sense of something whimsical in their companionship
seemed to have taken entire possession of his rude brain. The bare
fact of being patronised by a great man whom he could have crushed
with one hand, appeared in his eyes so eccentric and humorous, that
a kind of ferocious merriment gained the mastery over him, and
quite subdued his brutal nature. He roared and roared again;
toasted Mr Tappertit a hundred times; declared himself a Bulldog to
the core; and vowed to be faithful to him to the last drop of blood
in his veins.

All these compliments Mr Tappertit received as matters of course-flattering
enough in their way, but entirely attributable to his
vast superiority. His dignified self-possession only delighted
Hugh the more; and in a word, this giant and dwarf struck up a
friendship which bade fair to be of long continuance, as the one
held it to be his right to command, and the other considered it an
exquisite pleasantry to obey. Nor was Hugh by any means a passive
follower, who scrupled to act without precise and definite orders;
for when Mr Tappertit mounted on an empty cask which stood by way
of rostrum in the room, and volunteered a speech upon the alarming
crisis then at hand, he placed himself beside the orator, and
though he grinned from ear to ear at every word he said, threw out
such expressive hints to scoffers in the management of his cudgel,
that those who were at first the most disposed to interrupt, became
remarkably attentive, and were the loudest in their approbation.

It was not all noise and jest, however, at The Boot, nor were the
whole party listeners to the speech. There were some men at the
other end of the room (which was a long, low-roofed chamber) in
earnest conversation all the time; and when any of this group went
out, fresh people were sure to come in soon afterwards and sit down
in their places, as though the others had relieved them on some
watch or duty; which it was pretty clear they did, for these
changes took place by the clock, at intervals of half an hour.
These persons whispered very much among themselves, and kept aloof,
and often looked round, as jealous of their speech being overheard;
some two or three among them entered in books what seemed to be
reports from the others; when they were not thus employed) one of
them would turn to the newspapers which were strewn upon the table,
and from the St James's Chronicle, the Herald, Chronicle, or
Public Advertiser, would read to the rest in a low voice some
passage having reference to the topic in which they were all so
deeply interested. But the great attraction was a pamphlet called
The Thunderer, which espoused their own opinions, and was supposed
at that time to emanate directly from the Association. This was
always in request; and whether read aloud, to an eager knot of
listeners, or by some solitary man, was certain to be followed by
stormy talking and excited looks.

In the midst of all his merriment, and admiration of his captain,
Hugh was made sensible by these and other tokens, of the presence
of an air of mystery, akin to that which had so much impressed him
out of doors. It was impossible to discard a sense that something
serious was going on, and that under the noisy revel of the publichouse,
there lurked unseen and dangerous matter. Little affected
by this, however, he was perfectly satisfied with his quarters and


would have remained there till morning, but that his conductor rose
soon after midnight, to go home; Mr Tappertit following his
example, left him no excuse to stay. So they all three left the
house together: roaring a No-Popery song until the fields
resounded with the dismal noise.

Cheer up, captain!' cried Hugh, when they had roared themselves out
of breath. 'Another stave!'

Mr Tappertit, nothing loath, began again; and so the three went
staggering on, arm-in-arm, shouting like madmen, and defying the
watch with great valour. Indeed this did not require any unusual
bravery or boldness, as the watchmen of that time, being selected
for the office on account of excessive age and extraordinary
infirmity, had a custom of shutting themselves up tight in their
boxes on the first symptoms of disturbance, and remaining there
until they disappeared. In these proceedings, Mr Dennis, who had a
gruff voice and lungs of considerable power, distinguished himself
very much, and acquired great credit with his two companions.

'What a queer fellow you are!' said Mr Tappertit. 'You're so
precious sly and close. Why don't you ever tell what trade you're
of?'

'Answer the captain instantly,' cried Hugh, beating his hat down on
his head; 'why don't you ever tell what trade you're of?'

'I'm of as gen-teel a calling, brother, as any man in England--as
light a business as any gentleman could desire.'

'Was you 'prenticed to it?' asked Mr Tappertit.

'No. Natural genius,' said Mr Dennis. 'No 'prenticing. It come
by natur'. Muster Gashford knows my calling. Look at that hand of
mine--many and many a job that hand has done, with a neatness and
dex-terity, never known afore. When I look at that hand,' said Mr
Dennis, shaking it in the air, 'and remember the helegant bits of
work it has turned off, I feel quite molloncholy to think it should
ever grow old and feeble. But sich is life!'

He heaved a deep sigh as he indulged in these reflections, and
putting his fingers with an absent air on Hugh's throat, and
particularly under his left ear, as if he were studying the
anatomical development of that part of his frame, shook his head in
a despondent manner and actually shed tears.

'You're a kind of artist, I suppose--eh!' said Mr Tappertit.

'Yes,' rejoined Dennis; 'yes--I may call myself a artist--a fancy
workman--art improves natur'--that's my motto.'

'And what do you call this?' said Mr Tappertit taking his stick out
of his hand.

'That's my portrait atop,' Dennis replied; 'd'ye think it's like?'

'Why--it's a little too handsome,' said Mr Tappertit. 'Who did it?
You?'

'I!' repeated Dennis, gazing fondly on his image. 'I wish I had
the talent. That was carved by a friend of mine, as is now no
more. The very day afore he died, he cut that with his pocketknife
from memory! I'll die game says my friend, and my last
moments shall be dewoted to making Dennis's picter." That's it.'


'That was a queer fancywasn't it?' said Mr Tappertit.

'It WAS a queer fancy' rejoined the otherbreathing on his
fictitious noseand polishing it with the cuff of his coat'but
he was a queer subject altogether--a kind of gipsy--one of the
fineststand-up menyou ever see. Ah! He told me some things
that would startle you a bitdid that friend of mineon the
morning when he died.'

'You were with him at the timewere you?' said Mr Tappertit.

'Yes' he answered with a curious look'I was there. Oh! yes
certainlyI was there. He wouldn't have gone off half as
comfortable without me. I had been with three or four of his
family under the same circumstances. They were all fine fellows.'

'They must have been fond of you' remarked Mr Tappertitlooking
at him sideways.

'I don't know that they was exactly fond of me' said Denniswith
a little hesitation'but they all had me near 'em when they
departed. I come in for their wardrobes too. This very handkecher
that you see round my neckbelonged to him that I've been speaking
of--him as did that likeness.'

Mr Tappertit glanced at the article referred toand appeared to
think that the deceased's ideas of dress were of a peculiar and by
no means an expensive kind. He made no remark upon the point
howeverand suffered his mysterious companion to proceed without
interruption.

'These smalls' said Dennisrubbing his legs; 'these very smalls-they
belonged to a friend of mine that's left off sich incumbrances
for ever: this coat too--I've often walked behind this coatin the
streetand wondered whether it would ever come to me: this pair of
shoes have danced a hornpipe for another manafore my eyesfull
half-a-dozen times at least: and as to my hat' he saidtaking it
offand whirling it round upon his fist--'Lord! I've seen this hat
go up Holborn on the box of a hackney-coach--ahmany and many a
day!'

'You don't mean to say their old wearers are ALL deadI hope?'
said Mr Tappertitfalling a little distance from him as he spoke.

'Every one of 'em' replied Dennis. 'Every man Jack!'

There was something so very ghastly in this circumstanceand it
appeared to accountin such a very strange and dismal mannerfor
his faded dress--whichin this new aspectseemed discoloured by
the earth from graves--that Mr Tappertit abruptly found he was
going another wayandstopping shortbade him good night with
the utmost heartiness. As they happened to be near the Old Bailey
and Mr Dennis knew there were turnkeys in the lodge with whom he
could pass the nightand discuss professional subjects of common
interest among them before a rousing fireand over a social glass
he separated from his companions without any great regretand
warmly shaking hands with Hughand making an early appointment for
their meeting at The Bootleft them to pursue their road.

'That's a strange sort of man' said Mr Tappertitwatching the
hackney-coachman's hat as it went bobbing down the street. 'I
don't know what to make of him. Why can't he have his smalls made
to orderor wear live clothes at any rate?'


'He's a lucky mancaptain' cried Hugh. 'I should like to have
such friends as his.'

'I hope he don't get 'em to make their willsand then knock 'em on
the head' said Mr Tappertitmusing. 'But come. The United B.'s
expect me. On!--What's the matter?'

'I quite forgot' said Hughwho had started at the striking of a
neighbouring clock. 'I have somebody to see to-night--I must turn
back directly. The drinking and singing put it out of my head.
It's well I remembered it!'

Mr Tappertit looked at him as though he were about to give
utterance to some very majestic sentiments in reference to this act
of desertionbut as it was clearfrom Hugh's hasty mannerthat
the engagement was one of a pressing naturehe graciously forbore
and gave him his permission to depart immediatelywhich Hugh
acknowledged with a roar of laughter.

'Good nightcaptain!' he cried. 'I am yours to the death
remember!'

'Farewell!' said Mr Tappertitwaving his hand. 'Be bold and
vigilant!'

'No Poperycaptain!' roared Hugh.

'England in blood first!' cried his desperate leader. Whereat Hugh
cheered and laughedand ran off like a greyhound.

'That man will prove a credit to my corps' said Simonturning
thoughtfully upon his heel. 'And let me see. In an altered state
of society--which must ensue if we break out and are victorious-when
the locksmith's child is mineMiggs must be got rid of
somehowor she'll poison the tea-kettle one evening when I'm out.
He might marry Miggsif he was drunk enough. It shall be done.
I'll make a note of it.'

Chapter 40

Little thinking of the plan for his happy settlement in life which
had suggested itself to the teeming brain of his provident
commanderHugh made no pause until Saint Dunstan's giants struck
the hour above himwhen he worked the handle of a pump which stood
hard bywith great vigourand thrusting his head under the spout
let the water gush upon him until a little stream ran down from
every uncombed hairand he was wet to the waist. Considerably
refreshed by this ablutionboth in mind and bodyand almost
sobered for the timehe dried himself as he best could; then
crossed the roadand plied the knocker of the Middle Temple gate.

The night-porter looked through a small grating in the portal with
a surly eyeand cried 'Halloa!' which greeting Hugh returned in
kindand bade him open quickly.

'We don't sell beer here' cried the man; 'what else do you want?'

'To come in' Hugh repliedwith a kick at the door.

'Where to go?'


'Paper Buildings.'

'Whose chambers?'

'Sir John Chester's.' Each of which answershe emphasised with
another kick.

After a little growling on the other sidethe gate was openedand
he passed in: undergoing a close inspection from the porter as he
did so.

'YOU wanting Sir Johnat this time of night!' said the man.

'Ay!' said Hugh. 'I! What of that?'

'WhyI must go with you and see that you dofor I don't believe
it.'

'Come along then.'

Eyeing him with suspicious looksthe manwith key and lantern
walked on at his sideand attended him to Sir John Chester's door
at which Hugh gave one knockthat echoed through the dark
staircase like a ghostly summonsand made the dull light tremble
in the drowsy lamp.

'Do you think he wants me now?' said Hugh.

Before the man had time to answera footstep was heard withina
light appearedand Sir Johnin his dressing-gown and slippers
opened the door.

'I ask your pardonSir John' said the porterpulling off his
hat. 'Here's a young man says he wants to speak to you. It's late
for strangers. I thought it best to see that all was right.'

'Aha!' cried Sir Johnraising his eyebrows. 'It's you
messengeris it? Go in. Quite rightfriend. I commend your
prudence highly. Thank you. God bless you. Good night.'

To be commendedthankedGod-blessedand bade good night by one
who carried 'Sir' before his nameand wrote himself M.P. to boot
was something for a porter. He withdrew with much humility and
reverence. Sir John followed his late visitor into the dressingroom
and sitting in his easy-chair before the fireand moving it
so that he could see him as he stoodhat in handbeside the door
looked at him from head to foot.

The old facecalm and pleasant as ever; the complexionquite
juvenile in its bloom and clearness; the same smile; the wonted
precision and elegance of dress; the whitewell-ordered teeth; the
delicate hands; the composed and quiet manner; everything as it
used to be: no mark of age or passionenvyhateor discontent:
all unruffled and sereneand quite delightful to behold.

He wrote himself M.P.--but how? Whythus. It was a proud family-more
proudindeedthan wealthy. He had stood in danger of
arrest; of bailiffsand a jail--a vulgar jailto which the common
people with small incomes went. Gentlemen of ancient houses have
no privilege of exemption from such cruel laws--unless they are of
one great houseand then they have. A proud man of his stock and
kindred had the means of sending him there. He offered--not indeed
to pay his debtsbut to let him sit for a close borough until his


own son came of agewhichif he livedwould come to pass in
twenty years. It was quite as good as an Insolvent Actand
infinitely more genteel. So Sir John Chester was a member of
Parliament.

But how Sir John? Nothing so simpleor so easy. One touch with a
sword of stateand the transformation was effected. John Chester
EsquireM.P.attended court--went up with an address--headed a
deputation. Such elegance of mannerso many graces of deportment
such powers of conversationcould never pass unnoticed. Mr was
too common for such merit. A man so gentlemanly should have been-but
Fortune is capricious--born a Duke: just as some dukes should
have been born labourers. He caught the fancy of the kingknelt
down a gruband rose a butterfly. John ChesterEsquirewas
knighted and became Sir John.

'I thought when you left me this eveningmy esteemed
acquaintance' said Sir John after a pretty long silence'that you
intended to return with all despatch?'

'So I didmaster.'

'And so you have?' he retortedglancing at his watch. 'Is that
what you would say?'

Instead of replyingHugh changed the leg on which he leant
shuffled his cap from one hand to the otherlooked at the ground
the wallthe ceilingand finally at Sir John himself; before
whose pleasant face he lowered his eyes againand fixed them on
the floor.

'And how have you been employing yourself in the meanwhile?' quoth
Sir Johnlazily crossing his legs. 'Where have you been? what
harm have you been doing?'

'No harm at allmaster' growled Hughwith humility. 'I have
only done as you ordered.'

'As I WHAT?' returned Sir John.

'Well then' said Hugh uneasily'as you advisedor said I ought
or said I mightor said that you would doif you was me. Don't
be so hard upon memaster.'

Something like an expression of triumph in the perfect control he
had established over this rough instrument appeared in the knight's
face for an instant; but it vanished directlyas he said--paring
his nails while speaking:

'When you say I ordered youmy good fellowyou imply that I
directed you to do something for me--something I wanted done-something
for my own ends and purposes--you see? Now I am sure I
needn't enlarge upon the extreme absurdity of such an ideahowever
unintentional; so please--' and here he turned his eyes upon him-'
to be more guarded. Will you?'

'I meant to give you no offence' said Hugh. 'I don't know what to
say. You catch me up so very short.'

'You will be caught up much shortermy good friend--infinitely
shorter--one of these daysdepend upon it' replied his patron
calmly. 'By-the-byeinstead of wondering why you have been so
longmy wonder should be why you came at all. Why did you?'


'You knowmaster' said Hugh'that I couldn't read the bill I
foundand that supposing it to be something particular from the
way it was wrapped upI brought it here.'

'And could you ask no one else to read itBruin?' said Sir John.

'No one that I could trust with secretsmaster. Since Barnaby
Rudge was lost sight of for good and all--and that's five years
ago--I haven't talked with any one but you.'

'You have done me honourI am sure.'

'I have come to and fromasterall through that timewhen there
was anything to tellbecause I knew that you'd be angry with me if
I stayed away' said Hughblurting the words outafter an
embarrassed silence; 'and because I wished to please you if I
couldand not to have you go against me. There. That's the true
reason why I came to-night. You know thatmasterI am sure.'

'You are a specious fellow' returned Sir Johnfixing his eyes
upon him'and carry two faces under your hoodas well as the
best. Didn't you give me in this roomthis eveningany other
reason; no dislike of anybody who has slighted you latelyon all
occasionsabused youtreated you with rudeness; acted towards
youmore as if you were a mongrel dog than a man like himself?'

'To be sure I did!' cried Hughhis passion risingas the other
meant it should; 'and I say it all over nowagain. I'd do
anything to have some revenge on him--anything. And when you told
me that he and all the Catholics would suffer from those who joined
together under that handbillI said I'd make one of 'emif their
master was the devil himself. I AM one of 'em. See whether I am
as good as my word and turn out to be among the foremostor no. I
mayn't have much headmasterbut I've head enough to remember
those that use me ill. You shall seeand so shall heand so
shall hundreds morehow my spirit backs me when the time comes.
My bark is nothing to my bite. Some that I know had better have a
wild lion among 'em than mewhen I am fairly loose--they had!'

The knight looked at him with a smile of far deeper meaning than
ordinary; and pointing to the old cupboardfollowed him with his
eyes while he filled and drank a glass of liquor; and smiled when
his back was turnedwith deeper meaning yet.

'You are in a blustering moodmy friend' he saidwhen Hugh
confronted him again.

'Not Imaster!' cried Hugh. 'I don't say half I mean. I can't.
I haven't got the gift. There are talkers enough among us; I'll be
one of the doers.'

'Oh! you have joined those fellows then?' said Sir Johnwith an
air of most profound indifference.

'Yes. I went up to the house you told me of; and got put down upon
the muster. There was another man therenamed Dennis--'

'Denniseh!' cried Sir Johnlaughing. 'Ayay! a pleasant
fellowI believe?'

'A roaring dogmaster--one after my own heart--hot upon the matter
too--red hot.'

'So I have heard' replied Sir Johncarelessly. 'You don't happen


to know his tradedo you?'

'He wouldn't say' cried Hugh. 'He keeps it secret.'

'Ha ha!' laughed Sir John. 'A strange fancy--a weakness with some
persons--you'll know it one dayI dare swear.'

'We're intimate already' said Hugh.

'Quite natural! And have been drinking togethereh?' pursued Sir
John. 'Did you say what place you went to in companywhen you
left Lord George's?'

Hugh had not said or thought of sayingbut he told him; and this
inquiry being followed by a long train of questionshe related all
that had passed both in and out of doorsthe kind of people he had
seentheir numbersstate of feelingmode of conversation
apparent expectations and intentions. His questioning was so
artfully contrivedthat he seemed even in his own eyes to
volunteer all this information rather than to have it wrested from
him; and he was brought to this state of feeling so naturallythat
when Mr Chester yawned at length and declared himself quite wearied
outhe made a rough kind of excuse for having talked so much.

'There--get you gone' said Sir Johnholding the door open in his
hand. 'You have made a pretty evening's work. I told you not to
do this. You may get into trouble. You'll have an opportunity of
revenging yourself on your proud friend Haredalethoughand for
thatyou'd hazard anythingI suppose?'

'I would' retorted Hughstopping in his passage out and looking
back; 'but what do I risk! What do I stand a chance of losing
master? Friendshome? A fig for 'em all; I have none; they are
nothing to me. Give me a good scuffle; let me pay off old scores
in a bold riot where there are men to stand by me; and then use me
as you like--it don't matter much to me what the end is!'

'What have you done with that paper?' said Sir John.

'I have it heremaster.'

'Drop it again as you go along; it's as well not to keep such
things about you.'

Hugh noddedand touching his cap with an air of as much respect as
he could summon updeparted.

Sir Johnfastening the doors behind himwent back to his
dressing-roomand sat down once again before the fireat which
he gazed for a long timein earnest meditation.

'This happens fortunately' he saidbreaking into a smile'and
promises well. Let me see. My relative and Iwho are the most
Protestant fellows in the worldgive our worst wishes to the Roman
Catholic cause; and to Savillewho introduces their billI have
a personal objection besides; but as each of us has himself for
the first article in his creedwe cannot commit ourselves by
joining with a very extravagant madmansuch as this Gordon most
undoubtedly is. Now reallyto foment his disturbances in secret
through the medium of such a very apt instrument as my savage
friend heremay further our real ends; and to express at all
becoming seasonsin moderate and polite termsa disapprobation of
his proceedingsthough we agree with him in principlewill
certainly be to gain a character for honesty and uprightness of


purposewhich cannot fail to do us infinite serviceand to raise
us into some importance. Good! So much for public grounds. As to
private considerationsI confess that if these vagabonds WOULD
make some riotous demonstration (which does not appear impossible)
and WOULD inflict some little chastisement on Haredale as a not
inactive man among his sectit would be extremely agreeable to my
feelingsand would amuse me beyond measure. Good again! Perhaps
better!'

When he came to this pointhe took a pinch of snuff; then
beginning slowly to undresshe resumed his meditationsby saying
with a smile:

'I fearI DO fear exceedinglythat my friend is following fast in
the footsteps of his mother. His intimacy with Mr Dennis is very
ominous. But I have no doubt he must have come to that end any
way. If I lend him a helping handthe only difference isthat he
mayupon the wholepossibly drink a few gallonsor puncheonsor
hogsheadsless in this life than he otherwise would. It's no
business of mine. It's a matter of very small importance!'

So he took another pinch of snuffand went to bed.

Chapter 41

From the workshop of the Golden Keythere issued forth a tinkling
soundso merry and good-humouredthat it suggested the idea of
some one working blithelyand made quite pleasant music. No man
who hammered on at a dull monotonous dutycould have brought such
cheerful notes from steel and iron; none but a chirpinghealthy
honest-hearted fellowwho made the best of everythingand felt
kindly towards everybodycould have done it for an instant. He
might have been a coppersmithand still been musical. If he had
sat in a jolting waggonfull of rods of ironit seemed as if he
would have brought some harmony out of it.

Tinktinktink--clear as a silver belland audible at every
pause of the streets' harsher noisesas though it said'I don't
care; nothing puts me out; I am resolved to he happy.' Women
scoldedchildren squalledheavy carts went rumbling byhorrible
cries proceeded from the lungs of hawkers; still it struck in
againno higherno lowerno louderno softer; not thrusting
itself on people's notice a bit the more for having been outdone by
louder sounds--tinktinktinktinktink.

It was a perfect embodiment of the still small voicefree from all
coldhoarsenesshuskinessor unhealthiness of any kind; footpassengers
slackened their paceand were disposed to linger near
it; neighbours who had got up splenetic that morningfelt goodhumour
stealing on them as they heard itand by degrees became
quite sprightly; mothers danced their babies to its ringing; still
the same magical tinktinktinkcame gaily from the workshop of
the Golden Key.

Who but the locksmith could have made such music! A gleam of sun
shining through the unsashed windowand chequering the dark
workshop with a broad patch of lightfell full upon himas though
attracted by his sunny heart. There he stood working at his anvil
his face all radiant with exercise and gladnesshis sleeves turned
uphis wig pushed off his shining forehead--the easiestfreest
happiest man in all the world. Beside him sat a sleek catpurring


and winking in the lightand falling every now and then into an
idle dozeas from excess of comfort. Toby looked on from a tall
bench hard by; one beaming smilefrom his broad nut-brown face
down to the slack-baked buckles in his shoes. The very locks that
hung around had something jovial in their rustand seemed like
gouty gentlemen of hearty naturesdisposed to joke on their
infirmities. There was nothing surly or severe in the whole scene.
It seemed impossible that any one of the innumerable keys could fit
a churlish strong-box or a prison-door. Cellars of beer and wine
rooms where there were firesbooksgossipand cheering laughter-these
were their proper sphere of action. Places of distrust and
crueltyand restraintthey would have left quadruple-locked for
ever.

Tinktinktink. The locksmith paused at lastand wiped his
brow. The silence roused the catwhojumping softly downcrept
to the doorand watched with tiger eyes a bird-cage in an opposite
window. Gabriel lifted Toby to his mouthand took a hearty
draught.

Thenas he stood uprightwith his head flung backand his portly
chest thrown outyou would have seen that Gabriel's lower man was
clothed in military gear. Glancing at the wall beyondthere might
have been espiedhanging on their several pegsa cap and feather
broadswordsashand coat of scarlet; which any man learned in
such matters would have known from their make and pattern to be the
uniform of a serjeant in the Royal East London Volunteers.

As the locksmith put his mug downemptyon the bench whence it
had smiled on him beforehe glanced at these articles with a
laughing eyeand looking at them with his head a little on one
sideas though he would get them all into a focussaidleaning
on his hammer:

'Time wasnowI rememberwhen I was like to run mad with the
desire to wear a coat of that colour. If any one (except my
father) had called me a fool for my painshow I should have fired
and fumed! But what a fool I must have beensure-ly!'

'Ah!' sighed Mrs Vardenwho had entered unobserved. 'A fool
indeed. A man at your time of lifeVardenshould know better
now.'

'Whywhat a ridiculous woman you areMartha' said the locksmith
turning round with a smile.

'Certainly' replied Mrs V. with great demureness. 'Of course I
am. I know thatVarden. Thank you.'

'I mean--' began the locksmith.

'Yes' said his wife'I know what you mean. You speak quite plain
enough to be understoodVarden. It's very kind of you to adapt
yourself to my capacityI am sure.'

'TuttutMartha' rejoined the locksmith; 'don't take offence at
nothing. I meanhow strange it is of you to run down
volunteeringwhen it's done to defend you and all the other women
and our own fireside and everybody else'sin case of need.'

'It's unchristian' cried Mrs Vardenshaking her head.

'Unchristian!' said the locksmith. 'Whywhat the devil--'


Mrs Varden looked at the ceilingas in expectation that the
consequence of this profanity would be the immediate descent of the
four-post bedstead on the second floortogether with the best
sitting-room on the first; but no visible judgment occurringshe
heaved a deep sighand begged her husbandin a tone of
resignationto go onand by all means to blaspheme as much as
possiblebecause he knew she liked it.

The locksmith did for a moment seem disposed to gratify herbut he
gave a great gulpand mildly rejoined:

'I was going to saywhat on earth do you call it unchristian for?
Which would be most unchristianMartha--to sit quietly down and
let our houses be sacked by a foreign armyor to turn out like men
and drive 'em off? Shouldn't I be a nice sort of a Christianif I
crept into a corner of my own chimney and looked on while a parcel
of whiskered savages bore off Dolly--or you?'

When he said 'or you' Mrs Vardendespite herselfrelaxed into a
smile. There was something complimentary in the idea. 'In such a
state of things as thatindeed--' she simpered.

'As that!' repeated the locksmith. 'Wellthat would be the state
of things directly. Even Miggs would go. Some black tambourineplayer
with a great turban onwould be bearing HER offand
unless the tambourine-player was proof against kicking and
scratchingit's my belief he'd have the worst of it. Ha ha ha!
I'd forgive the tambourine-player. I wouldn't have him interfered
with on any accountpoor fellow.' And here the locksmith laughed
again so heartilythat tears came into his eyes--much to Mrs
Varden's indignationwho thought the capture of so sound a
Protestant and estimable a private character as Miggs by a pagan
negroa circumstance too shocking and awful for contemplation.

The picture Gabriel had drawnindeedthreatened serious
consequencesand would indubitably have led to thembut luckily
at that moment a light footstep crossed the thresholdand Dolly
running inthrew her arms round her old father's neck and hugged
him tight.

'Here she is at last!' cried Gabriel. 'And how well you look
Dolland how late you aremy darling!'

How well she looked? Well? Whyif he had exhausted every
laudatory adjective in the dictionaryit wouldn't have been praise
enough. When and where was there ever such a plumproguish
comelybright-eyedenticingbewitchingcaptivatingmaddening
little puss in all this worldas Dolly! What was the Dolly of
five years agoto the Dolly of that day! How many coachmakers
saddlerscabinet-makersand professors of other useful artshad
deserted their fathersmotherssistersbrothersandmost of
alltheir cousinsfor the love of her! How many unknown
gentlemen--supposed to be of mighty fortunesif not titles--had
waited round the corner after darkand tempted Miggs the
incorruptiblewith golden guineasto deliver offers of marriage
folded up in love-letters! How many disconsolate fathers and
substantial tradesmen had waited on the locksmith for the same
purposewith dismal tales of how their sons had lost their
appetitesand taken to shut themselves up in dark bedroomsand
wandering in desolate suburbs with pale facesand all because of
Dolly Varden's loveliness and cruelty! How many young menin all
previous times of unprecedented steadinesshad turned suddenly
wild and wicked for the same reasonandin an ecstasy of
unrequited lovetaken to wrench off door-knockersand invert the


boxes of rheumatic watchmen! How had she recruited the king's
serviceboth by sea and landthrough rendering desperate his
loving subjects between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five! How
many young ladies had publicly professedwith tears in their eyes
that for their tastes she was much too shorttoo talltoo bold
too coldtoo stouttoo thintoo fairtoo dark--too everything
but handsome! How many old ladiestaking counsel togetherhad
thanked Heaven their daughters were not like herand had hoped she
might come to no harmand had thought she would come to no good
and had wondered what people saw in herand had arrived at the
conclusion that she was 'going off' in her looksor had never come
on in themand that she was a thorough imposition and a popular
mistake!

And yet here was this same Dolly Vardenso whimsical and hard to
please that she was Dolly Varden stillall smiles and dimples and
pleasant looksand caring no more for the fifty or sixty young
fellows who at that very moment were breaking their hearts to marry
herthan if so many oysters had been crossed in love and opened
afterwards.

Dolly hugged her father as has been already statedand having
hugged her mother alsoaccompanied both into the little parlour
where the cloth was already laid for dinnerand where Miss Miggs-a
trifle more rigid and bony than of yore--received her with a sort
of hysterical gaspintended for a smile. Into the hands of that
young virginshe delivered her bonnet and walking dress (all of a
dreadfulartfuland designing kind)and then said with a laugh
which rivalled the locksmith's music'How glad I always am to be
at home again!'

'And how glad we always areDoll' said her fatherputting back
the dark hair from her sparkling eyes'to have you at home. Give
me a kiss.'

If there had been anybody of the male kind there to see her do it-but
there was not--it was a mercy.

'I don't like your being at the Warren' said the locksmith'I
can't bear to have you out of my sight. And what is the news over
yonderDoll?'

'What news there isI think you know already' replied his
daughter. 'I am sure you do though.'

'Ay?' cried the locksmith. 'What's that?'

'Comecome' said Dolly'you know very well. I want you to tell
me why Mr Haredale--ohhow gruff he is againto be sure!--has
been away from home for some days pastand why he is travelling
about (we know he IS travellingbecause of his letters) without
telling his own niece why or wherefore.'

'Miss Emma doesn't want to knowI'll swear' returned the
locksmith.

'I don't know that' said Dolly; 'but I doat any rate. Do tell
me. Why is he so secretand what is this ghost storywhich
nobody is to tell Miss Emmaand which seems to be mixed up with
his going away? Now I see you know by your colouring so.'

'What the story meansor isor has to do with itI know no more
than youmy dear' returned the locksmith'except that it's some
foolish fear of little Solomon's--which hasindeedno meaning in


itI suppose. As to Mr Haredale's journeyhe goesas I believe--'

'Yes' said Dolly.

'As I believe' resumed the locksmithpinching her cheek'on
businessDoll. What it may beis quite another matter. Read
Blue Beardand don't be too curiouspet; it's no business of
yours or minedepend upon that; and here's dinnerwhich is much
more to the purpose.'

Dolly might have remonstrated against this summary dismissal of the
subjectnotwithstanding the appearance of dinnerbut at the
mention of Blue Beard Mrs Varden interposedprotesting she could
not find it in her conscience to sit tamely byand hear her child
recommended to peruse the adventures of a Turk and Mussulman--far
less of a fabulous Turkwhich she considered that potentate to be.
She held thatin such stirring and tremendous times as those in
which they livedit would be much more to the purpose if Dolly
became a regular subscriber to the Thundererwhere she would have
an opportunity of reading Lord George Gordon's speeches word for
wordwhich would be a greater comfort and solace to herthan a
hundred and fifty Blue Beards ever could impart. She appealed in
support of this proposition to Miss Miggsthen in waitingwho
said that indeed the peace of mind she had derived from the perusal
of that paper generallybut especially of one article of the very
last week as ever wasentitled 'Great Britain drenched in gore'
exceeded all belief; the same compositionshe addedhad also
wrought such a comforting effect on the mind of a married sister of
hersthen resident at Golden Lion Courtnumber twenty-sivin
second bell-handle on the right-hand door-postthatbeing in a
delicate state of healthand in fact expecting an addition to her
familyshe had been seized with fits directly after its perusal
and had raved of the Inquisition ever since; to the great
improvement of her husband and friends. Miss Miggs went on to say
that she would recommend all those whose hearts were hardened to
hear Lord George themselveswhom she commended firstin respect
of his steady Protestantismthen of his oratorythen of his eyes
then of his nosethen of his legsand lastly of his figure
generallywhich she looked upon as fit for any statueprinceor
angelto which sentiment Mrs Varden fully subscribed.

Mrs Varden having cut inlooked at a box upon the mantelshelf
painted in imitation of a very red-brick dwelling-housewith a
yellow roof; having at top a real chimneydown which voluntary
subscribers dropped their silvergoldor penceinto the parlour;
and on the door the counterfeit presentment of a brass plate
whereon was legibly inscribed 'Protestant Association:'--and
looking at itsaidthat it was to her a source of poignant misery
to think that Varden never hadof all his substancedropped
anything into that templesave once in secret--as she afterwards
discovered--two fragments of tobacco-pipewhich she hoped would
not be put down to his last account. That Dollyshe was grieved
to saywas no less backward in her contributionsbetter loving
as it seemedto purchase ribbons and such gaudsthan to encourage
the great causethen in such heavy tribulation; and that she did
entreat her (her father she much feared could not be moved) not to
despisebut imitatethe bright example of Miss Miggswho flung
her wagesas it wereinto the very countenance of the Popeand
bruised his features with her quarter's money.

'Ohmim' said Miggs'don't relude to that. I had no intentions
mimthat nobody should know. Such sacrifices as I can makeare
quite a widder's mite. It's all I have' cried Miggs with a great
burst of tears--for with her they never came on by degrees--'but


it's made up to me in other ways; it's well made up.'

This was quite truethough not perhaps in the sense that Miggs
intended. As she never failed to keep her self-denial full in Mrs
Varden's viewit drew forth so many gifts of caps and gowns and
other articles of dressthat upon the whole the red-brick house
was perhaps the best investment for her small capital she could
possibly have hit upon; returning her interestat the rate of
seven or eight per cent in moneyand fifty at least in personal
repute and credit.

'You needn't cryMiggs' said Mrs Vardenherself in tears; 'you
needn't be ashamed of itthough your poor mistress IS on the same
side.'

Miggs howled at this remarkin a peculiarly dismal wayand said
she knowed that master hated her. That it was a dreadful thing to
live in families and have dislikesand not give satisfactions.
That to make divisions was a thing she could not abear to think of
neither could her feelings let her do it. That if it was master's
wishes as she and him should partit was best they should part
and she hoped he might be the happier for itand always wished him
welland that he might find somebody as would meet his
dispositions. It would be a hard trialshe saidto part from
such a missisbut she could meet any suffering when her conscience
told her she was in the rightsand therefore she was willing even
to go that lengths. She did not thinkshe addedthat she could
long survive the separationsbutas she was hated and looked upon
unpleasantperhaps her dying as soon as possible would be the best
endings for all parties. With this affecting conclusionMiss
Miggs shed more tearsand sobbed abundantly.

'Can you bear thisVarden?' said his wife in a solemn voice
laying down her knife and fork.

'Whynot very wellmy dear' rejoined the locksmith'but I try
to keep my temper.'

'Don't let there be words on my accountmim' sobbed Miggs. 'It's
much the best that we should part. I wouldn't stay--ohgracious
me!--and make dissensionsnot for a annual gold mineand found in
tea and sugar.'

Lest the reader should be at any loss to discover the cause of Miss
Miggs's deep emotionit may be whispered apart thathappening to
be listeningas her custom sometimes waswhen Gabriel and his
wife conversed togethershe had heard the locksmith's joke
relative to the foreign black who played the tambourineand
bursting with the spiteful feelings which the taunt awoke in her
fair breastexploded in the manner we have witnessed. Matters
having now arrived at a crisisthe locksmithas usualand for
the sake of peace and quietnessgave in.

'What are you crying forgirl?' he said. 'What's the matter with
you? What are you talking about hatred for? I don't hate you; I
don't hate anybody. Dry your eyes and make yourself agreeablein
Heaven's nameand let us all be happy while we can.'

The allied powers deeming it good generalship to consider this a
sufficient apology on the part of the enemyand confession of
having been in the wrongdid dry their eyes and take it in good
part. Miss Miggs observed that she bore no maliceno not to her
greatest foewhom she rather loved the more indeedthe greater
persecution she sustained. Mrs Varden approved of this meek and


forgiving spirit in high termsand incidentally declared as a
closing article of agreementthat Dolly should accompany her to
the Clerkenwell branch of the associationthat very night. This
was an extraordinary instance of her great prudence and policy;
having had this end in view from the firstand entertaining a
secret misgiving that the locksmith (who was bold when Dolly was in
question) would objectshe had backed Miss Miggs up to this
pointin order that she might have him at a disadvantage. The
manoeuvre succeeded so well that Gabriel only made a wry faceand
with the warning he had just hadfresh in his minddid not dare
to say one word.

The difference endedthereforein Miggs being presented with a
gown by Mrs Varden and half-a-crown by Dollyas if she had
eminently distinguished herself in the paths of morality and
goodness. Mrs V.according to customexpressed her hope that
Varden would take a lesson from what had passed and learn more
generous conduct for the time to come; and the dinner being now
cold and nobody's appetite very much improved by what had passed
they went on with itas Mrs Varden said'like Christians.'

As there was to be a grand parade of the Royal East London
Volunteers that afternoonthe locksmith did no more work; but sat
down comfortably with his pipe in his mouthand his arm round his
pretty daughter's waistlooking lovingly on Mrs V.from time to
timeand exhibiting from the crown of his head to the sole of his
footone smiling surface of good humour. And to be surewhen it
was time to dress him in his regimentalsand Dollyhanging about
him in all kinds of graceful winning wayshelped to button and
buckle and brush him up and get him into one of the tightest coats
that ever was made by mortal tailorhe was the proudest father in
all England.

'What a handy jade it is!' said the locksmith to Mrs Vardenwho
stood by with folded hands--rather proud of her husband too--while
Miggs held his cap and sword at arm's lengthas if mistrusting
that the latter might run some one through the body of its own
accord; 'but never marry a soldierDollmy dear.'

Dolly didn't ask why notor say a wordindeedbut stooped her
head down very low to tie his sash.

'I never wear this dress' said honest Gabriel'but I think of
poor Joe Willet. I loved Joe; he was always a favourite of mine.
Poor Joe!--Dear heartmy girldon't tie me in so tight.'

Dolly laughed--not like herself at all--the strangest little laugh
that could be--and held her head down lower still.

'Poor Joe!' resumed the locksmithmuttering to himself; 'I always
wish he had come to me. I might have made it up between themif
he had. Ah! old John made a great mistake in his way of acting by
that lad--a great mistake.--Have you nearly tied that sashmy
dear?'

What an ill-made sash it was! There it wasloose again and
trailing on the ground. Dolly was obliged to kneel downand
recommence at the beginning.

'Never mind young WilletVarden' said his wife frowning; 'you
might find some one more deserving to talk aboutI think.'

Miss Miggs gave a great sniff to the same effect.


'NayMartha' cried the locksmith'don't let us bear too hard
upon him. If the lad is dead indeedwe'll deal kindly by his
memory.'

'A runaway and a vagabond!' said Mrs Varden.

Miss Miggs expressed her concurrence as before.

'A runawaymy dearbut not a vagabond' returned the locksmith in
a gentle tone. 'He behaved himself welldid Joe--always--and was
a handsomemanly fellow. Don't call him a vagabondMartha.'

Mrs Varden coughed--and so did Miggs.

'He tried hard to gain your good opinionMarthaI can tell you'
said the locksmith smilingand stroking his chin. 'Ah! that he
did. It seems but yesterday that he followed me out to the Maypole
door one nightand begged me not to say how like a boy they used
him--say hereat homehe meantthough at the timeI recollect
I didn't understand. "And how's Miss Dollysir?" says Joe'
pursued the locksmithmusing sorrowfully'Ah! Poor Joe!'

'WellI declare' cried Miggs. 'Oh! Goodness gracious me!'

'What's the matter now?' said Gabrielturning sharply to her
'Whyif here an't Miss Dolly' said the handmaidstooping down to
look into her face'a-giving way to floods of tears. Oh mim! oh
sir. Raly it's give me such a turn' cried the susceptible damsel
pressing her hand upon her side to quell the palpitation of her
heart'that you might knock me down with a feather.'

The locksmithafter glancing at Miss Miggs as if he could have
wished to have a feather brought straightwaylooked on with a
broad stare while Dolly hurried awayfollowed by that sympathising
young woman: then turning to his wifestammered out'Is Dolly
ill? Have I done anything? Is it my fault?'

'Your fault!' cried Mrs V. reproachfully. 'There--you had better
make haste out.'

'What have I done?' said poor Gabriel. 'It was agreed that Mr
Edward's name was never to be mentionedand I have not spoken of
himhave I?'

Mrs Varden merely replied that she had no patience with himand
bounced off after the other two. The unfortunate locksmith wound
his sash about himgirded on his swordput on his capand walked
out.

'I am not much of a dab at my exercise' he said under his breath
'but I shall get into fewer scrapes at that work than at this.
Every man came into the world for something; my department seems to
be to make every woman cry without meaning it. It's rather hard!'

But he forgot it before he reached the end of the streetand went
on with a shining facenodding to the neighboursand showering
about his friendly greetings like mild spring rain.

Chapter 42

The Royal East London Volunteers made a brilliant sight that day:


formed into linessquarescirclestrianglesand what notto
the beating of drumsand the streaming of flags; and performed a
vast number of complex evolutionsin all of which Serjeant Varden
bore a conspicuous share. Having displayed their military prowess
to the utmost in these warlike showsthey marched in glittering
order to the Chelsea Bun Houseand regaled in the adjacent taverns
until dark. Then at sound of drum they fell in againand
returned amidst the shouting of His Majesty's lieges to the place
from whence they came.

The homeward march being somewhat tardy--owing to the unsoldierlike
behaviour of certain corporalswhobeing gentlemen of
sedentary pursuits in private life and excitable out of doors
broke several windows with their bayonetsand rendered it
imperative on the commanding officer to deliver them over to a
strong guardwith whom they fought at intervals as they came
along--it was nine o'clock when the locksmith reached home. A
hackney-coach was waiting near his door; and as he passed itMr
Haredale looked from the window and called him by his name.

'The sight of you is good for sore eyessir' said the locksmith
stepping up to him. 'I wish you had walked in thoughrather than
waited here.'

'There is nobody at homeI find' Mr Haredale answered; 'besides
I desired to be as private as I could.'

'Humph!' muttered the locksmithlooking round at his house.
'Gone with Simon Tappertit to that precious Branchno doubt.'

Mr Haredale invited him to come into the coachandif he were not
tired or anxious to go hometo ride with him a little way that
they might have some talk together. Gabriel cheerfully complied
and the coachman mounting his box drove off.

'Varden' said Mr Haredaleafter a minute's pause'you will be
amazed to hear what errand I am on; it will seem a very strange
one.'

'I have no doubt it's a reasonable onesirand has a meaning in
it' replied the locksmith; 'or it would not be yours at all. Have
you just come back to townsir?'

'But half an hour ago.'

'Bringing no news of Barnabyor his mother?' said the locksmith
dubiously. 'Ah! you needn't shake your headsir. It was a wildgoose
chase. I feared thatfrom the first. You exhausted all
reasonable means of discovery when they went away. To begin again
after so long a time has passed is hopelesssir--quite hopeless.'

'Whywhere are they?' he returned impatiently. 'Where can they
be? Above ground?'

'God knows' rejoined the locksmith'many that I knew above it
five years agohave their beds under the grass now. And the world
is a wide place. It's a hopeless attemptsirbelieve me. We
must leave the discovery of this mysterylike all othersto time
and accidentand Heaven's pleasure.'

'Vardenmy good fellow' said Mr Haredale'I have a deeper
meaning in my present anxiety to find them outthan you can
fathom. It is not a mere whim; it is not the casual revival of my
old wishes and desires; but an earnestsolemn purpose. My


thoughts and dreams all tend to itand fix it in my mind. I have
no rest by day or night; I have no peace or quiet; I am haunted.'

His voice was so altered from its usual tonesand his manner
bespoke so much emotionthat Gabrielin his wondercould only
sit and look towards him in the darknessand fancy the expression
of his face.

'Do not ask me' continued Mr Haredale'to explain myself. If I
were to do soyou would think me the victim of some hideous fancy.
It is enough that this is soand that I cannot--noI can not--lie
quietly in my bedwithout doing what will seem to you
incomprehensible.'

'Since whensir' said the locksmith after a pause'has this
uneasy feeling been upon you?'

Mr Haredale hesitated for some momentsand then replied: 'Since
the night of the storm. In shortsince the last nineteenth of
March.'

As though he feared that Varden might express surpriseor reason
with himhe hastily went on:

'You will thinkI knowI labour under some delusion. Perhaps I
do. But it is not a morbid one; it is a wholesome action of the
mindreasoning on actual occurrences. You know the furniture
remains in Mrs Rudge's houseand that it has been shut upby my
orderssince she went awaysave once a-week or sowhen an old
neighbour visits it to scare away the rats. I am on my way there
now.'

'For what purpose?' asked the locksmith.

'To pass the night there' he replied; 'and not to-night alonebut
many nights. This is a secret which I trust to you in case of any
unexpected emergency. You will not comeunless in case of strong
necessityto me; from dusk to broad day I shall be there. Emma
your daughterand the restsuppose me out of Londonas I have
been until within this hour. Do not undeceive them. This is the
errand I am bound upon. I know I may confide it to youand I rely
upon your questioning me no more at this time.'

With thatas if to change the themehe led the astounded
locksmith back to the night of the Maypole highwaymanto the
robbery of Edward Chesterto the reappearance of the man at Mrs
Rudge's houseand to all the strange circumstances which
afterwards occurred. He even asked him carelessly about the man's
heighthis facehis figurewhether he was like any one he had
ever seen--like Hughfor instanceor any man he had known at any
time--and put many questions of that sortwhich the locksmith
considering them as mere devices to engage his attention and
prevent his expressing the astonishment he feltanswered pretty
much at random.

At lengththey arrived at the corner of the street in which the
house stoodwhere Mr Haredalealightingdismissed the coach.
'If you desire to see me safely lodged' he saidturning to the
locksmith with a gloomy smile'you can.'

Gabrielto whom all former marvels had been nothing in comparison
with thisfollowed him along the narrow pavement in silence. When
they reached the doorMr Haredale softly opened it with a key he
had about himand closing it when Varden enteredthey were left


in thorough darkness.

They groped their way into the ground-floor room. Here Mr
Haredale struck a lightand kindled a pocket taper he had brought
with him for the purpose. It was thenwhen the flame was full
upon himthat the locksmith saw for the first time how haggard
paleand changed he looked; how worn and thin he was; how
perfectly his whole appearance coincided with all that he had said
so strangely as they rode along. It was not an unnatural impulse
in Gabrielafter what he had heardto note curiously the
expression of his eyes. It was perfectly collected and rational;-so
much soindeedthat he felt ashamed of his momentary
suspicionand drooped his own when Mr Haredale looked towards him
as if he feared they would betray his thoughts.

'Will you walk through the house?' said Mr Haredalewith a glance
towards the windowthe crazy shutters of which were closed and
fastened. 'Speak low.'

There was a kind of awe about the placewhich would have rendered
it difficult to speak in any other manner. Gabriel whispered
'Yes' and followed him upstairs.

Everything was just as they had seen it last. There was a sense of
closeness from the exclusion of fresh airand a gloom and
heaviness aroundas though long imprisonment had made the very
silence sad. The homely hangings of the beds and windows had begun
to droop; the dust lay thick upon their dwindling folds; and damps
had made their way through ceilingwalland floor. The boards
creaked beneath their treadas if resenting the unaccustomed
intrusion; nimble spidersparalysed by the taper's glarechecked
the motion of their hundred legs upon the wallor dropped like
lifeless things upon the ground; the death-watch ticked; and the
scampering feet of rats and mice rattled behind the wainscot.

As they looked about them on the decaying furnitureit was strange
to find how vividly it presented those to whom it had belongedand
with whom it was once familiar. Grip seemed to perch again upon
his high-backed chair; Barnaby to crouch in his old favourite
corner by the fire; the mother to resume her usual seatand watch
him as of old. Even when they could separate these objects from
the phantoms of the mind which they invokedthe latter only glided
out of sightbut lingered near them still; for then they seemed to
lurk in closets and behind the doorsready to start out and
suddenly accost them in well-remembered tones.

They went downstairsand again into the room they had just now
left. Mr Haredale unbuckled his sword and laid it on the table
with a pair of pocket pistols; then told the locksmith he would
light him to the door.

'But this is a dull placesir' said Gabriel lingering; 'may no
one share your watch?'

He shook his headand so plainly evinced his wish to be alone
that Gabriel could say no more. In another moment the locksmith
was standing in the streetwhence he could see that the light once
more travelled upstairsand soon returning to the room below
shone brightly through the chinks of the shutters.

If ever man were sorely puzzled and perplexedthe locksmith was
that night. Even when snugly seated by his own firesidewith Mrs
Varden opposite in a nightcap and night-jacketand Dolly beside
him (in a most distracting dishabille) curling her hairand


smiling as if she had never cried in all her life and never could-even
thenwith Toby at his elbow and his pipe in his mouthand
Miggs (but that perhaps was not much) falling asleep in the
backgroundhe could not quite discard his wonder and uneasiness.
So in his dreams--still there was Mr Haredalehaggard and
carewornlistening in the solitary house to every sound that
stirredwith the taper shining through the chinks until the day
should turn it pale and end his lonely watching.

Chapter 43

Next morning brought no satisfaction to the locksmith's thoughts
nor next daynor the nextnor many others. Often after nightfall
he entered the streetand turned his eyes towards the well-known
house; and as surely as he did sothere was the solitary light
still gleaming through the crevices of the window-shutterwhile
all within was motionlessnoiselesscheerlessas a grave.
Unwilling to hazard Mr Haredale's favour by disobeying his strict
injunctionhe never ventured to knock at the door or to make his
presence known in any way. But whenever strong interest and
curiosity attracted him to the spot--which was not seldom--the
light was always there.

If he could have known what passed withinthe knowledge would have
yielded him no clue to this mysterious vigil. At twilightMr
Haredale shut himself upand at daybreak he came forth. He never
missed a nightalways came and went aloneand never varied his
proceedings in the least degree.

The manner of his watch was this. At duskhe entered the house in
the same way as when the locksmith bore him companykindled a
lightwent through the roomsand narrowly examined them. That
donehe returned to the chamber on the ground-floorand laying
his sword and pistols on the tablesat by it until morning.

He usually had a book with himand often tried to readbut never
fixed his eyes or thoughts upon it for five minutes together. The
slightest noise without doorscaught his ear; a step upon the
pavement seemed to make his heart leap.

He was not without some refreshment during the long lonely hours;
generally carrying in his pocket a sandwich of bread and meatand
a small flask of wine. The latter diluted with large quantities of
waterhe drank in a heatedfeverish wayas though his throat
were dried; but he scarcely ever broke his fastby so much as a
crumb of bread.

If this voluntary sacrifice of sleep and comfort had its originas
the locksmith on consideration was disposed to thinkin any
superstitious expectation of the fulfilment of a dream or vision
connected with the event on which he had brooded for so many years
and if he waited for some ghostly visitor who walked abroad when
men lay sleeping in their bedshe showed no trace of fear or
wavering. His stern features expressed inflexible resolution; his
brows were puckeredand his lips compressedwith deep and settled
purpose; and when he started at a noise and listenedit was not
with the start of fear but hopeand catching up his sword as
though the hour had come at lasthe would clutch it in his tightclenched
handand listen with sparkling eyes and eager looks
until it died away.


These disappointments were numerousfor they ensued on almost
every soundbut his constancy was not shaken. Stillevery night
he was at his postthe same sternsleeplesssentinel; and still
night passedand morning dawnedand he must watch again.

This went on for weeks; he had taken a lodging at Vauxhall in which
to pass the day and rest himself; and from this placewhen the
tide servedhe usually came to London Bridge from Westminster by
waterin order that he might avoid the busy streets.

One eveningshortly before twilighthe came his accustomed road
upon the river's bankintending to pass through Westminster Hall
into Palace Yardand there take boat to London Bridge as usual.
There was a pretty large concourse of people assembled round the
Houses of Parliamentlooking at the members as they entered and
departedand giving vent to rather noisy demonstrations of
approval or dislikeaccording to their known opinions. As he made
his way among the thronghe heard once or twice the No-Popery cry
which was then becoming pretty familiar to the ears of most men;
but holding it in very slight regardand observing that the idlers
were of the lowest gradehe neither thought nor cared about it
but made his way alongwith perfect indifference.

There were many little knots and groups of persons in Westminster
Hall: some few looking upward at its noble ceilingand at the rays
of evening lighttinted by the setting sunwhich streamed in
aslant through its small windowsand growing dimmer by degrees
were quenched in the gathering gloom below; somenoisy passengers
mechanics going home from workand otherwisewho hurried quickly
throughwaking the echoes with their voicesand soon darkening
the small door in the distanceas they passed into the street
beyond; somein busy conference together on political or private
matterspacing slowly up and down with eyes that sought the
groundand seemingby their attitudesto listen earnestly from
head to foot. Herea dozen squabbling urchins made a very Babel
in the air; therea solitary manhalf clerkhalf mendicant
paced up and down with hungry dejection in his look and gait; at
his elbow passed an errand-ladswinging his basket round and
roundand with his shrill whistle riving the very timbers of the
roof; while a more observant schoolboyhalf-way throughpocketed
his balland eyed the distant beadle as he came looming on. It
was that time of evening whenif you shut your eyes and open them
againthe darkness of an hour appears to have gathered in a
second. The smooth-worn pavementdusty with footstepsstill
called upon the lofty walls to reiterate the shuffle and the tread
of feet unceasinglysave when the closing of some heavy door
resounded through the building like a clap of thunderand drowned
all other noises in its rolling sound.

Mr Haredaleglancing only at such of these groups as he passed
nearest toand then in a manner betokening that his thoughts were
elsewherehad nearly traversed the Hallwhen two persons before
him caught his attention. One of thesea gentleman in elegant
attirecarried in his hand a canewhich he twirled in a jaunty
manner as he loitered on; the otheran obsequiouscrouching
fawning figurelistened to what he said--at times throwing in a
humble word himself--andwith his shoulders shrugged up to his
earsrubbed his hands submissivelyor answered at intervals by an
inclination of the headhalf-way between a nod of acquiescence
and a bow of most profound respect.

In the abstract there was nothing very remarkable in this pairfor
servility waiting on a handsome suit of clothes and a cane--not to
speak of gold and silver sticksor wands of office--is common


enough. But there was that about the well-dressed manyesand
about the other likewisewhich struck Mr Haredale with no pleasant
feeling. He hesitatedstoppedand would have stepped aside and
turned out of his pathbut at the momentthe other two faced
about quicklyand stumbled upon him before he could avoid them.

The gentleman with the cane lifted his hat and had begun to tender
an apologywhich Mr Haredale had begun as hastily to acknowledge
and walk awaywhen he stopped short and cried'Haredale! Gad
bless methis is strange indeed!'

'It is' he returned impatiently; 'yes--a--'

'My dear friend' cried the otherdetaining him'why such great
speed? One minuteHaredalefor the sake of old acquaintance.'

'I am in haste' he said. 'Neither of us has sought this meeting.
Let it be a brief one. Good night!'

'Fiefie!' replied Sir John (for it was he)'how very churlish!
We were speaking of you. Your name was on my lips--perhaps you
heard me mention it? No? I am sorry for that. I am really
sorry.--You know our friend hereHaredale? This is really a most
remarkable meeting!'

The friendplainly very ill at easehad made bold to press Sir
John's armand to give him other significant hints that he was
desirous of avoiding this introduction. As it did not suit Sir
John's purposehoweverthat it should be evadedhe appeared
quite unconscious of these silent remonstrancesand inclined his
hand towards himas he spoketo call attention to him more
particularly.

The friendthereforehad nothing for itbut to muster up the
pleasantest smile he couldand to make a conciliatory bowas Mr
Haredale turned his eyes upon him. Seeing that he was recognised
he put out his hand in an awkward and embarrassed mannerwhich was
not mended by its contemptuous rejection.

'Mr Gashford!' said Haredalecoldly. 'It is as I have heard then.
You have left the darkness for the lightsirand hate those whose
opinions you formerly heldwith all the bitterness of a renegade.
You are an honoursirto any cause. I wish the one you espouse
at presentmuch joy of the acquisition it has made.'

The secretary rubbed his hands and bowedas though he would disarm
his adversary by humbling himself before him. Sir John Chester
again exclaimedwith an air of great gaiety'Nowreallythis is
a most remarkable meeting!' and took a pinch of snuff with his
usual self-possession.

'Mr Haredale' said Gashfordstealthily raising his eyesand
letting them drop again when they met the other's steady gazeis
too conscientioustoo honourabletoo manlyI am sureto attach
unworthy motives to an honest change of opinionseven though it
implies a doubt of those he holds himself. Mr Haredale is too
justtoo generoustoo clear-sighted in his moral visionto--'

'Yessir?' he rejoined with a sarcastic smilefinding the
secretary stopped. 'You were saying'--

Gashford meekly shrugged his shouldersand looking on the ground
againwas silent.


'Nobut let us really' interposed Sir John at this juncture'let
us reallyfor a momentcontemplate the very remarkable character
of this meeting. Haredalemy dear friendpardon me if I think
you are not sufficiently impressed with its singularity. Here we
standby no previous appointment or arrangementthree old
schoolfellowsin Westminster Hall; three old boarders in a
remarkably dull and shady seminary at Saint Omer'swhere you
being Catholics and of necessity educated out of Englandwere
brought up; and where Ibeing a promising young Protestant at that
timewas sent to learn the French tongue from a native of Paris!'

'Add to the singularitySir John' said Mr Haredale'that some of
you Protestants of promise are at this moment leagued in yonder
buildingto prevent our having the surpassing and unheard-of
privilege of teaching our children to read and write--here--in this
landwhere thousands of us enter your service every yearand to
preserve the freedom of whichwe die in bloody battles abroadin
heaps: and that others of youto the number of some thousands as
I learnare led on to look on all men of my creed as wolves and
beasts of preyby this man Gashford. Add to it besides the bare
fact that this man lives in societywalks the streets in broad
day--I was about to sayholds up his headbut that he does not-and
it will be strangeand very strangeI grant you.'

'Oh! you are hard upon our friend' replied Sir Johnwith an
engaging smile. 'You are really very hard upon our friend!'

'Let him go onSir John' said Gashfordfumbling with his gloves.
'Let him go on. I can make allowancesSir John. I am honoured
with your good opinionand I can dispense with Mr Haredale's. Mr
Haredale is a sufferer from the penal lawsand I can't expect his
favour.'

'You have so much of my favoursir' retorted Mr Haredalewith a
bitter glance at the third party in their conversation'that I am
glad to see you in such good company. You are the essence of your
great Associationin yourselves.'

'Nowthere you mistake' said Sir Johnin his most benignant way.
'There--which is a most remarkable circumstance for a man of your
punctuality and exactnessHaredale--you fall into error. I don't
belong to the body; I have an immense respect for its membersbut
I don't belong to it; although I amit is certainly truethe
conscientious opponent of your being relieved. I feel it my duty
to be so; it is a most unfortunate necessity; and cost me a bitter
struggle.--Will you try this box? If you don't object to a
trifling infusion of a very chaste scentyou'll find its flavour
exquisite.'

'I ask your pardonSir John' said Mr Haredaledeclining the
proffer with a motion of his hand'for having ranked you among the
humble instruments who are obvious and in all men's sight. I
should have done more justice to your genius. Men of your capacity
plot in secrecy and safetyand leave exposed posts to the duller
wits.'

'Don't apologisefor the world' replied Sir John sweetly; 'old
friends like you and Imay be allowed some freedomsor the deuce
is in it.'

Gashfordwho had been very restless all this timebut had not
once looked upnow turned to Sir Johnand ventured to mutter
something to the effect that he must goor my lord would perhaps
be waiting.


'Don't distress yourselfgood sir' said Mr Haredale'I'll take
my leaveand put you at your ease--' which he was about to do
without ceremonywhen he was stayed by a buzz and murmur at the
upper end of the hallandlooking in that directionsaw Lord
George Gordon coming inwith a crowd of people round him.

There was a lurking look of triumphthough very differently
expressedin the faces of his two companionswhich made it a
natural impulse on Mr Haredale's part not to give way before this
leaderbut to stand there while he passed. He drew himself up
andclasping his hands behind himlooked on with a proud and
scornful aspectwhile Lord George slowly advanced (for the press
was great about him) towards the spot where they were standing.

He had left the House of Commons but that momentand had come
straight down into the Hallbringing with himas his custom was
intelligence of what had been said that night in reference to the
Papistsand what petitions had been presented in their favourand
who had supported themand when the bill was to be brought inand
when it would be advisable to present their own Great Protestant
petition. All this he told the persons about him in a loud voice
and with great abundance of ungainly gesture. Those who were
nearest him made comments to each otherand vented threats and
murmurings; those who were outside the crowd cried'Silence' and
Stand back' or closed in upon the restendeavouring to make a
forcible exchange of places: and so they came driving on in a very
disorderly and irregular wayas it is the manner of a crowd to do.

When they were very near to where the secretarySir Johnand Mr
Haredale stoodLord George turned round andmaking a few remarks
of a sufliciently violent and incoherent kindconcluded with the
usual sentimentand called for three cheers to back it. While
these were in the act of being given with great energyhe
extricated himself from the pressand stepped up to Gashford's
side. Both he and Sir John being well known to the populacethey
fell back a littleand left the four standing together.

'Mr HaredaleLord George' said Sir John Chesterseeing that the
nobleman regarded him with an inquisitive look. 'A Catholic
gentleman unfortunately--most unhappily a Catholic--but an esteemed
acquaintance of mineand once of Mr Gashford's. My dear Haredale
this is Lord George Gordon.'

'I should have known thathad I been ignorant of his lordship's
person' said Mr Haredale. 'I hope there is but one gentleman in
England whoaddressing an ignorant and excited throngwould speak
of a large body of his fellow-subjects in such injurious language
as I heard this moment. For shamemy lordfor shame!'

'I cannot talk to yousir' replied Lord George in a loud voice
and waving his hand in a disturbed and agitated manner; 'we have
nothing in common.'

'We have much in common--many things--all that the Almighty gave
us' said Mr Haredale; 'and common charitynot to say common sense
and common decencyshould teach you to refrain from these
proceedings. If every one of those men had arms in their hands at
this momentas they have them in their headsI would not leave
this place without telling you that you disgrace your station.'

'I don't hear yousir' he replied in the same manner as before;
'I can't hear you. It is indifferent to me what you say. Don't
retortGashford' for the secretary had made a show of wishing to


do so; 'I can hold no communion with the worshippers of idols.'

As he said thishe glanced at Sir Johnwho lifted his hands and
eyebrowsas if deploring the intemperate conduct of Mr Haredale
and smiled in admiration of the crowd and of their leader.

'HE retort!' cried Haredale. 'Look you heremy lord. Do you know
this man?'

Lord George replied by laying his hand upon the shoulder of his
cringing secretaryand viewing him with a smile of confidence.

'This man' said Mr Haredaleeyeing him from top to toe'who in
his boyhood was a thiefand has been from that time to thisa
servilefalseand truckling knave: this manwho has crawled and
crept through lifewounding the hands he lickedand biting those
he fawned upon: this sycophantwho never knew what honourtruth
or courage meant; who robbed his benefactor's daughter of her
virtueand married her to break her heartand did itwith
stripes and cruelty: this creaturewho has whined at kitchen
windows for the broken foodand begged for halfpence at our chapel
doors: this apostle of the faithwhose tender conscience cannot
bear the altars where his vicious life was publicly denounced--Do
you know this man?'

'Ohreally--you are veryvery hard upon our friend!' exclaimed
Sir John.

'Let Mr Haredale go on' said Gashfordupon whose unwholesome face
the perspiration had broken out during this speechin blotches of
wet; 'I don't mind himSir John; it's quite as indifferent to me
what he saysas it is to my lord. If he reviles my lordas you
have heardSir Johnhow can I hope to escape?'

'Is it not enoughmy lord' Mr Haredale continued'that Ias
good a gentleman as youmust hold my propertysuch as it isby a
trick at which the state connives because of these hard laws; and
that we may not teach our youth in schools the common principles of
right and wrong; but must we be denounced and ridden by such men as
this! Here is a man to head your No-Popery cry! For shame. For
shame!'

The infatuated nobleman had glanced more than once at Sir John
Chesteras if to inquire whether there was any truth in these
statements concerning Gashfordand Sir John had as often plainly
answered by a shrug or look'Oh dear me! no.' He now saidin the
same loud keyand in the same strange manner as before:

'I have nothing to saysirin replyand no desire to hear
anything more. I beg you won't obtrude your conversationor these
personal attacksupon me. I shall not be deterred from doing my
duty to my country and my countrymenby any such attemptswhether
they proceed from emissaries of the Pope or notI assure you.
ComeGashford!'

They had walked on a few paces while speakingand were now at the
Hall-doorthrough which they passed together. Mr Haredale
without any leave-takingturned away to the river stairswhich
were close at handand hailed the only boatman who remained there.

But the throng of people--the foremost of whom had heard every word
that Lord George Gordon saidand among all of whom the rumour had
been rapidly dispersed that the stranger was a Papist who was
bearding him for his advocacy of the popular cause--came pouring


out pell-mellandforcing the noblemanhis secretaryand Sir
John Chester on before themso that they appeared to be at their
headcrowded to the top of the stairs where Mr Haredale waited
until the boat was readyand there stood stillleaving him on a
little clear space by himself.

They were not silenthoweverthough inactive. At first some
indistinct mutterings arose among themwhich were followed by a
hiss or twoand these swelled by degrees into a perfect storm.
Then one voice said'Down with the Papists!' and there was a
pretty general cheerbut nothing more. After a lull of a few
momentsone man cried out'Stone him;' another'Duck him;'
anotherin a stentorian voice'No Popery!' This favourite cry
the rest re-echoedand the mobwhich might have been two hundred
strongjoined in a general shout.

Mr Haredale had stood calmly on the brink of the stepsuntil they
made this demonstrationwhen he looked round contemptuouslyand
walked at a slow pace down the stairs. He was pretty near the
boatwhen Gashfordas if without intentionturned aboutand
directly afterwards a great stone was thrown by some handin the
crowdwhich struck him on the headand made him stagger like a
drunken man.

The blood sprung freely from the woundand trickled down his coat.
He turned directlyand rushing up the steps with a boldness and
passion which made them all fall backdemanded:

'Who did that? Show me the man who hit me.'

Not a soul moved; except some in the rear who slunk offand
escaping to the other side of the waylooked on like indifferent
spectators.

'Who did that?' he repeated. 'Show me the man who did it. Dog
was it you? It was your deedif not your hand--I know you.'

He threw himself on Gashford as he said the wordsand hurled him
to the ground. There was a sudden motion in the crowdand some
laid hands upon himbut his sword was outand they fell off
again.

'My lord--Sir John'--he cried'drawone of you--you are
responsible for this outrageand I look to you. Drawif you are
gentlemen.' With that he struck Sir John upon the breast with the
flat of his weaponand with a burning face and flashing eyes stood
upon his guard; alonebefore them all.

For an instantfor the briefest space of time the mind can readily
conceivethere was a change in Sir John's smooth facesuch as no
man ever saw there. The next momenthe stepped forwardand laid
one hand on Mr Haredale's armwhile with the other he endeavoured
to appease the crowd.

'My dear friendmy good Haredaleyou are blinded with passion-it's
very naturalextremely natural--but you don't know friends
from foes.'

'I know them allsirI can distinguish well--' he retorted
almost mad with rage. 'Sir JohnLord George--do you hear me? Are
you cowards?'

'Never mindsir' said a manforcing his way between and pushing
him towards the stairs with friendly violence'never mind asking


that. For God's sakeget away. What CAN you do against this
number? And there are as many more in the next streetwho'll be
round dfrectly'--indeed they began to pour in as he said the
words--'you'd be giddy from that cutin the first heat of a
scuffle. Now do retiresiror take my word for it you'll be
worse used than you would be if every man in the crowd was a woman
and that woman Bloody Mary. Comesirmake haste--as quick as you
can.'

Mr Haredalewho began to turn faint and sickfelt how sensible
this advice wasand descended the steps with his unknown friend's
assistance. John Grueby (for John it was) helped him into the
boatand giving her a shove offwhich sent her thirty feet into
the tidebade the waterman pull away like a Briton; and walked up
again as composedly as if he had just landed.

There was at first a slight disposition on the part of the mob to
resent this interference; but John looking particularly strong and
cooland wearing besides Lord George's liverythey thought better
of itand contented themselves with sending a shower of small
missiles after the boatwhich plashed harmlessly in the water;
for she had by this time cleared the bridgeand was darting
swiftly down the centre of the stream.

From this amusementthey proceeded to giving Protestant knocks at
the doors of private housesbreaking a few lampsand assaulting
some stray constables. Butit being whispered that a detachment
of Life Guards had been sent forthey took to their heels with
great expeditionand left the street quite clear.

Chapter 44

When the concourse separatedanddividing into chance clusters
drew off in various directionsthere still remained upon the scene
of the late disturbanceone man. This man was Gashfordwho
bruised by his late falland hurt in a much greater degree by the
indignity he had undergoneand the exposure of which he had been
the victimlimped up and downbreathing curses and threats of
vengeance.

It was not the secretary's nature to waste his wrath in words.
While he vented the froth of his malevolence in those effusionshe
kept a steady eye on two menwhohaving disappeared with the rest
when the alarm was spreadhad since returnedand were now visible
in the moonlightat no great distanceas they walked to and fro
and talked together.

He made no move towards thembut waited patiently on the dark side
of the streetuntil they were tired of strolling backwards and
forwards and walked away in company. Then he followedbut at some
distance: keeping them in viewwithout appearing to have that
objector being seen by them.

They went up Parliament Streetpast Saint Martin's churchand
away by Saint Giles's to Tottenham Court Roadat the back of
whichupon the western sidewas then a place called the Green
Lanes. This was a retired spotnot of the choicest kindleading
into the fields. Great heaps of ashes; stagnant poolsovergrown
with rank grass and duckweed; broken turnstiles; and the upright
posts of palings long since carried off for firewoodwhich menaced
all heedless walkers with their jagged and rusty nails; were the


leading features of the landscape: while here and there a donkey
or a ragged horsetethered to a stakeand cropping off a wretched
meal from the coarse stunted turfwere quite in keeping with the
sceneand would have suggested (if the houses had not done so
sufficientlyof themselves) how very poor the people were who
lived in the crazy huts adjacentand how foolhardy it might prove
for one who carried moneyor wore decent clothesto walk that way
aloneunless by daylight.

Poverty has its whims and shows of tasteas wealth has. Some of
these cabins were turretedsome had false windows painted on their
rotten walls; one had a mimic clockupon a crazy tower of four
feet highwhich screened the chimney; each in its little patch of
ground had a rude seat or arbour. The population dealt in bones
in ragsin broken glassin old wheelsin birdsand dogs.
Thesein their several ways of stowagefilled the gardens; and
shedding a perfumenot of the most delicious naturein the air
filled it besides with yelpsand screamsand howling.

Into this retreatthe secretary followed the two men whom he had
held in sight; and here he saw them safely lodgedin one of the
meanest houseswhich was but a roomand that of small dimensions.
He waited withoutuntil the sound of their voicesjoined in a
discordant songassured him they were making merry; and then
approaching the doorby means of a tottering plank which crossed
the ditch in frontknocked at it with his hand.

'Muster Gashfordl' said the man who opened ittaking his pipe from
his mouthin evident surprise. 'Whywho'd have thought of this
here honour! Walk inMuster Gashford--walk insir.'

Gashford required no second invitationand entered with a gracious
air. There was a fire in the rusty grate (for though the spring
was pretty far advancedthe nights were cold)and on a stool
beside it Hugh sat smoking. Dennis placed a chairhis only one
for the secretaryin front of the hearth; and took his seat again
upon the stool he had left when he rose to give the visitor
admission.

'What's in the wind nowMuster Gashford?' he saidas he resumed
his pipeand looked at him askew. 'Any orders from head-quarters?
Are we going to begin? What is itMuster Gashford?'

'Ohnothingnothing' rejoined the secretarywith a friendly nod
to Hugh. 'We have broken the icethough. We had a little spurt
to-day--ehDennis?'

'A very little one' growled the hangman. 'Not half enough for me.'

'Nor me neither!' cried Hugh. 'Give us something to do with life
in it--with life in itmaster. Haha!'

'Whyyou wouldn't' said the secretarywith his worst expression
of faceand in his mildest tones'have anything to dowith--with
death in it?'

'I don't know that' replied Hugh. 'I'm open to orders. I don't
care; not I.'

'Nor I!' vociferated Dennis.

'Brave fellows!' said the secretaryin as pastor-like a voice as
if he were commending them for some uncommon act of valour and
generosity. 'By the bye'--and here he stopped and warmed his


hands: then suddenly looked up--'who threw that stone to-day?'

Mr Dennis coughed and shook his headas who should say'A mystery
indeed!' Hugh sat and smoked in silence.

'It was well done!' said the secretarywarming his hands again.
'I should like to know that man.'

'Would you?' said Dennisafter looking at his face to assure
himself that he was serious. 'Would you like to know that man
Muster Gashford?'

'I should indeed' replied the secretary.

'Why thenLord love you' said the hangmanin his hoarest
chuckleas he pointed with his pipe to Hugh'there he sits.
That's the man. My stars and haltersMuster Gashford' he added
in a whisperas he drew his stool close to him and jogged him with
his elbow'what a interesting blade he is! He wants as much
holding in as a thorough-bred bulldog. If it hadn't been for me
to-dayhe'd have had that 'ere Roman downand made a riot of it
in another minute.'

'And why not?' cried Hugh in a surly voiceas he overheard this
last remark. 'Where's the good of putting things off? Strike
while the iron's hot; that's what I say.'

'Ah!' retorted Dennisshaking his headwith a kind of pity for
his friend's ingenuous youth; 'but suppose the iron an't hot
brother! You must get people's blood up afore you strikeand have
'em in the humour. There wasn't quite enough to provoke 'em today
I tell you. If you'd had your wayyou'd have spoilt the fun
to comeand ruined us.'

'Dennis is quite right' said Gashfordsmoothly. 'He is
perfectly correct. Dennis has great knowledge of the world.'

'I ought to haveMuster Gashfordseeing what a many people I've
helped out of iteh?' grinned the hangmanwhispering the words
behind his hand.

The secretary laughed at this jest as much as Dennis could desire
and when he had donesaidturning to Hugh:

'Dennis's policy was mineas you may have observed. You sawfor
instancehow I fell when I was set upon. I made no resistance. I
did nothing to provoke an outbreak. Oh dear no!'

'Noby the Lord Harry!' cried Dennis with a noisy laugh'you went
down very quietMuster Gashford--and very flat besides. I thinks
to myself at the time "it's all up with Muster Gashford!" I never
see a man lay flatter nor more still--with the life in him--than
you did to-day. He's a rough 'un to play withis that 'ere
Papistand that's the fact.'

The secretary's faceas Dennis roared with laughterand turned
his wrinkled eyes on Hugh who did the likemight have furnished a
study for the devil's picture. He sat quite silent until they
were serious againand then saidlooking round:

'We are very pleasant here; so very pleasantDennisthat but for
my lord's particular desire that I should sup with himand the
time being very near at handI should he inclined to stayuntil
it would be hardly safe to go homeward. I come upon a little


business--yesI do--as you supposed. It's very flattering to you;
being this. If we ever should be obliged--and we can't tellyou
know--this is a very uncertain world'-


'I believe youMuster Gashford' interposed the hangman with a
grave nod. 'The uncertainties as I've seen in reference to this
here state of existencethe unexpected contingencies as have come
about!--Oh my eye!' Feeling the subject much too vast for
expressionhe puffed at his pipe againand looked the rest.

'I say' resumed the secretaryin a slowimpressive way; 'we
can't tell what may come to pass; and if we should be obliged
against our willsto have recourse to violencemy lord (who has
suffered terribly to-dayas far as words can go) consigns to you
two--bearing in mind my recommendation of you bothas good staunch
menbeyond all doubt and suspicion--the pleasant task of
punishing this Haredale. You may do as you please with himor
hisprovided that you show no mercyand no quarterand leave no
two beams of his house standing where the builder placed them. You
may sack itburn itdo with it as you likebut it must come
down; it must be razed to the ground; and heand all belonging to
himleft as shelterless as new-born infants whom their mothers
have exposed. Do you understand me?' said Gashfordpausingand
pressing his hands together gently.

'Understand youmaster!' cried Hugh. 'You speak plain now. Why
this is hearty!'

'I knew you would like it' said Gashfordshaking him by the hand;
'I thought you would. Good night! Don't riseDennis: I would
rather find my way alone. I may have to make other visits here
and it's pleasant to come and go without disturbing you. I can
find my way perfectly well. Good night!'

He was goneand had shut the door behind him. They looked at each
otherand nodded approvingly: Dennis stirred up the fire.

'This looks a little more like business!' he said.

'Ayindeed!' cried Hugh; 'this suits me!'

'I've heerd it said of Muster Gashford' said the hangman'that
he'd a surprising memory and wonderful firmness--that he never
forgotand never forgave.--Let's drink his health!'

Hugh readily complied--pouring no liquor on the floor when he drank
this toast--and they pledged the secretary as a man after their own
heartsin a bumper.

Chapter 45

While the worst passions of the worst men were thus working in the
darkand the mantle of religionassumed to cover the ugliest
deformitiesthreatened to become the shroud of all that was good
and peaceful in societya circumstance occurred which once more
altered the position of two persons from whom this history has long
been separatedand to whom it must now return.

In a small English country townthe inhabitants of which supported
themselves by the labour of their hands in plaiting and preparing
straw for those who made bonnets and other articles of dress and


ornament from that material--concealed under an assumed nameand
living in a quiet poverty which knew no changeno pleasuresand
few cares but that of struggling on from day to day in one great
toil for bread--dwelt Barnaby and his mother. Their poor cottage
had known no stranger's foot since they sought the shelter of its
roof five years before; nor had they in all that time held any
commerce or communication with the old world from which they had
fled. To labour in peaceand devote her labour and her life to
her poor sonwas all the widow sought. If happiness can be said
at any time to be the lot of one on whom a secret sorrow preysshe
was happy now. Tranquillityresignationand her strong love of
him who needed it so muchformed the small circle of her quiet
joys; and while that remained unbrokenshe was contented.

For Barnaby himselfthe time which had flown byhad passed him
like the wind. The daily suns of years had shed no brighter gleam
of reason on his mind; no dawn had broken on his longdark night.
He would sit sometimes--often for days together on a low seat by
the fire or by the cottage doorbusy at work (for he had learnt
the art his mother plied)and listeningGod help himto the
tales she would repeatas a lure to keep him in her sight. He had
no recollection of these little narratives; the tale of yesterday
was new to him upon the morrow; but he liked them at the moment;
and when the humour held himwould remain patiently within doors
hearing her stories like a little childand working cheerfully
from sunrise until it was too dark to see.

At other times--and then their scanty earnings were barely
sufficient to furnish them with foodthough of the coarsest sort-he
would wander abroad from dawn of day until the twilight
deepened into night. Few in that placeeven of the children
could be idleand he had no companions of his own kind. Indeed
there were not many who could have kept up with him in his rambles
had there been a legion. But there were a score of vagabond dogs
belonging to the neighbourswho served his purpose quite as well.
With two or three of theseor sometimes with a full half-dozen
barking at his heelshe would sally forth on some long expedition
that consumed the day; and thoughon their return at nightfall
the dogs would come home limping and sore-footedand almost spent
with their fatigueBarnaby was up and off again at sunrise with
some new attendants of the same classwith whom he would return in
like manner. On all these travelsGripin his little basket at
his master's backwas a constant member of the partyand when
they set off in fine weather and in high spiritsno dog barked
louder than the raven.

Their pleasures on these excursions were simple enough. A crust of
bread and scrap of meatwith water from the brook or spring
sufficed for their repast. Barnaby's enjoyments wereto walkand
runand leaptill he was tired; then to lie down in the long
grassor by the growing cornor in the shade of some tall tree
looking upward at the light clouds as they floated over the blue
surface of the skyand listening to the lark as she poured out her
brilliant song. There were wild-flowers to pluck--the bright red
poppythe gentle harebellthe cowslipand the rose. There were
birds to watch; fish; ants; worms; hares or rabbitsas they darted
across the distant pathway in the wood and so were gone: millions
of living things to have an interest inand lie in wait forand
clap hands and shout in memory ofwhen they had disappeared. In
default of theseor when they weariedthere was the merry
sunlight to hunt outas it crept in aslant through leaves and
boughs of treesand hid far down--deepdeepin hollow places-like
a silver poolwhere nodding branches seemed to bathe and
sport; sweet scents of summer air breathing over fields of beans or


clover; the perfume of wet leaves or moss; the life of waving
treesand shadows always changing. When these or any of them
tiredor in excess of pleasing tempted him to shut his eyesthere
was slumber in the midst of all these soft delightswith the
gentle wind murmuring like music in his earsand everything around
melting into one delicious dream.

Their hut--for it was little more--stood on the outskirts of the
townat a short distance from the high roadbut in a secluded
placewhere few chance passengers strayed at any season of the
year. It had a plot of garden-ground attachedwhich Barnabyin
fits and starts of workingtrimmedand kept in order. Within
doors and withouthis mother laboured for their common good; and
hailrainsnowor sunshinefound no difference in her.

Though so far removed from the scenes of her past lifeand with so
little thought or hope of ever visiting them againshe seemed to
have a strange desire to know what happened in the busy world. Any
old newspaperor scrap of intelligence from Londonshe caught at
with avidity. The excitement it produced was not of a pleasurable
kindfor her manner at such times expressed the keenest anxiety
and dread; but it never faded in the least degree. Thenand in
stormy winter nightswhen the wind blew loud and strongthe old
expression came into her faceand she would be seized with a fit
of tremblinglike one who had an ague. But Barnaby noted little
of this; and putting a great constraint upon herselfshe usually
recovered her accustomed manner before the change had caught his
observation.

Grip was by no means an idle or unprofitable member of the humble
household. Partly by dint of Barnaby's tuitionand partly by
pursuing a species of self-instruction common to his tribeand
exerting his powers of observation to the utmosthe had acquired a
degree of sagacity which rendered him famous for miles round. His
conversational powers and surprising performances were the
universal theme: and as many persons came to see the wonderful
ravenand none left his exertions unrewarded--when he condescended
to exhibitwhich was not alwaysfor genius is capricious--his
earnings formed an important item in the common stock. Indeedthe
bird himself appeared to know his value well; for though he was
perfectly free and unrestrained in the presence of Barnaby and his
motherhe maintained in public an amazing gravityand never
stooped to any other gratuitous performances than biting the ankles
of vagabond boys (an exercise in which he much delighted)killing
a fowl or two occasionallyand swallowing the dinners of various
neighbouring dogsof whom the boldest held him in great awe and
dread.

Time had glided on in this wayand nothing had happened to disturb
or change their mode of lifewhenone summer's night in June
they were in their little gardenresting from the labours of the
day. The widow's work was yet upon her kneeand strewn upon the
ground about her; and Barnaby stood leaning on his spadegazing at
the brightness in the westand singing softly to himself.

'A brave eveningmother! If we hadchinking in our pocketsbut
a few specks of that gold which is piled up yonder in the skywe
should be rich for life.'

'We are better as we are' returned the widow with a quiet smile.
'Let us be contentedand we do not want and need not care to have
itthough it lay shining at our feet.'

'Ay!' said Barnabyresting with crossed arms on his spadeand


looking wistfully at the sunsetthat's well enoughmother; but
gold's a good thing to have. I wish that I knew where to find it.
Grip and I could do much with goldbe sure of that.'

'What would you do?' she asked.

'What! A world of things. We'd dress finely--you and II mean;
not Grip--keep horsesdogswear bright colours and feathersdo
no more worklive delicately and at our ease. Ohwe'd find uses
for itmotherand uses that would do us good. I would I knew
where gold was buried. How hard I'd work to dig it up!'

'You do not know' said his motherrising from her seat and laying
her hand upon his shoulder'what men have done to win itand how
they have foundtoo latethat it glitters brightest at a
distanceand turns quite dim and dull when handled.'

'Ayay; so you say; so you think' he answeredstill looking
eagerly in the same direction. 'For all thatmotherI should
like to try.'

'Do you not see' she said'how red it is? Nothing bears so many
stains of bloodas gold. Avoid it. None have such cause to hate
its name as we have. Do not so much as think of itdear love. It
has brought such misery and suffering on your head and mine as few
have knownand God grant few may have to undergo. I would rather
we were dead and laid down in our gravesthan you should ever come
to love it.'

For a moment Barnaby withdrew his eyes and looked at her with
wonder. Thenglancing from the redness in the sky to the mark
upon his wrist as if he would compare the twohe seemed about to
question her with earnestnesswhen a new object caught his
wandering attentionand made him quite forgetful of his purpose.

This was a man with dusty feet and garmentswho stoodbareheaded
behind the hedge that divided their patch of garden from
the pathwayand leant meekly forward as if he sought to mingle
with their conversationand waited for his time to speak. His
face was turned towards the brightnesstoobut the light that
fell upon it showed that he was blindand saw it not.

'A blessing on those voices!' said the wayfarer. 'I feel the
beauty of the night more keenlywhen I hear them. They are like
eyes to me. Will they speak againand cheer the heart of a poor
traveller?'

'Have you no guide?' asked the widowafter a moment's pause.

'None but that' he answeredpointing with his staff towards the
sun; 'and sometimes a milder one at nightbut she is idle now.'

'Have you travelled far?'

'A weary way and long' rejoined the traveller as he shook his
head. 'A wearywearyway. I struck my stick just now upon the
bucket of your well--be pleased to let me have a draught of water
lady.'

'Why do you call me lady?' she returned. 'I am as poor as you.'

'Your speech is soft and gentleand I judge by that' replied the
man. 'The coarsest stuffs and finest silksare--apart from the
sense of touch--alike to me. I cannot judge you by your dress.'


'Come round this way' said Barnabywho had passed out at the
garden-gate and now stood close beside him. 'Put your hand in
mine. You're blind and always in the darkeh? Are you frightened
in the dark? Do you see great crowds of facesnow? Do they grin
and chatter?'

'Alas!' returned the other'I see nothing. Waking or sleeping
nothing.'

Barnaby looked curiously at his eyesand touching them with his
fingersas an inquisitive child mightled him towards the house.

'You have come a long distance'said the widowmeeting him at the
door. 'How have you found your way so far?'

'Use and necessity are good teachersas I have heard--the best of
any' said the blind mansitting down upon the chair to which
Barnaby had led himand putting his hat and stick upon the redtiled
floor. 'May neither you nor your son ever learn under them.
They are rough masters.'

'You have wandered from the roadtoo' said the widowin a tone
of pity.

'Maybemaybe' returned the blind man with a sighand yet with
something of a smile upon his face'that's likely. Handposts and
milestones are dumbindeedto me. Thank you the more for this
restand this refreshing drink!'

As he spokehe raised the mug of water to his mouth. It was
clearand coldand sparklingbut not to his taste nevertheless
or his thirst was not very greatfor he only wetted his lips and
put it down again.

He worehanging with a long strap round his necka kind of scrip
or walletin which to carry food. The widow set some bread and
cheese before himbut he thanked herand said that through the
kindness of the charitable he had broken his fast once since
morningand was not hungry. When he had made her this replyhe
opened his walletand took out a few pencewhich was all it
appeared to contain.

'Might I make bold to ask' he saidturning towards where Barnaby
stood looking on'that one who has the gift of sightwould lay
this out for me in bread to keep me on my way? Heaven's blessing
on the young feet that will bestir themselves in aid of one so
helpless as a sightless man!'

Barnaby looked at his motherwho nodded assent; in another moment
he was gone upon his charitable errand. The blind man sat
listening with an attentive faceuntil long after the sound of his
retreating footsteps was inaudible to the widowand then said
suddenlyand in a very altered tone:

'There are various degrees and kinds of blindnesswidow. There
is the connubial blindnessma'amwhich perhaps you may have
observed in the course of your own experienceand which is a kind
of wilful and self-bandaging blindness. There is the blindness of
partyma'amand public menwhich is the blindness of a mad bull
in the midst of a regiment of soldiers clothed in red. There is
the blind confidence of youthwhich is the blindness of young
kittenswhose eyes have not yet opened on the world; and there is
that physical blindnessma'amof which I amcontrairy to my own


desirea most illustrious example. Added to thesema'amis that
blindness of the intellectof which we have a specimen in your
interesting sonand whichhaving sometimes glimmerings and
dawnings of the lightis scarcely to be trusted as a total
darkness. Thereforema'amI have taken the liberty to get him
out of the way for a short timewhile you and I confer together
and this precaution arising out of the delicacy of my sentiments
towards yourselfyou will excuse mema'amI know.'

Having delivered himself of this speech with many flourishes of
mannerhe drew from beneath his coat a flat stone bottleand
holding the cork between his teethqualified his mug of water with
a plentiful infusion of the liquor it contained. He politely
drained the bumper to her healthand the ladiesand setting it
down emptysmacked his lips with infinite relish.

'I am a citizen of the worldma'am' said the blind mancorking
his bottle'and if I seem to conduct myself with freedomit is
therefore. You wonder who I amma'amand what has brought me
here. Such experience of human nature as I haveleads me to that
conclusionwithout the aid of eyes by which to read the movements
of your soul as depicted in your feminine features. I will
satisfy your curiosity immediatelyma'am; immediately.' With
that he slapped his bottle on its broad backand having put it
under his garment as beforecrossed his legs and folded his hands
and settled himself in his chairprevious to proceeding any
further.

The change in his manner was so unexpectedthe craft and
wickedness of his deportment were so much aggravated by his
condition--for we are accustomed to see in those who have lost a
human sensesomething in its place almost divine--and this
alteration bred so many fears in her whom he addressedthat she
could not pronounce one word. After waitingas it seemedfor
some remark or answerand waiting in vainthe visitor resumed:

'Madammy name is Stagg. A friend of mine who has desired the
honour of meeting with you any time these five years pasthas
commissioned me to call upon you. I should be glad to whisper that
gentleman's name in your ear.--Zoundsma'amare you deaf? Do you
hear me say that I should be glad to whisper my friend's name in
your ear?'

'You need not repeat it' said the widowwith a stifled groan; 'I
see too well from whom you come.'

'But as a man of honourma'am' said the blind manstriking
himself on the breast'whose credentials must not be disputedI
take leave to say that I WILL mention that gentleman's name. Ay
ay' he addedseeming to catch with his quick ear the very motion
of her hand'but not aloud. With your leavema'amI desire the
favour of a whisper.'

She moved towards himand stooped down. He muttered a word in her
ear; andwringing her handsshe paced up and down the room like
one distracted. The blind manwith perfect composureproduced
his bottle againmixed another glassful; put it up as before; and
drinking from time to timefollowed her with his face in silence.

'You are slow in conversationwidow' he said after a time
pausing in his draught. 'We shall have to talk before your son.'

'What would you have me do?' she answered. 'What do you want?'


'We are poorwidowwe are poor' he retortedstretching out his
right handand rubbing his thumb upon its palm.

'Poor!' she cried. 'And what am I?'

'Comparisons are odious' said the blind man. 'I don't knowI
don't care. I say that we are poor. My friend's circumstances are
indifferentand so are mine. We must have our rightswidowor
we must be bought off. But you know thatas well as Iso where
is the use of talking?'

She still walked wildly to and fro. At lengthstopping abruptly
before himshe said:

'Is he near here?'

'He is. Close at hand.'

'Then I am lost!'

'Not lostwidow' said the blind mancalmly; 'only found. Shall
I call him?'

'Not for the world' she answeredwith a shudder.

'Very good' he repliedcrossing his legs againfor he had made
as though he would rise and walk to the door. 'As you please
widow. His presence is not necessary that I know of. But both he
and I must live; to livewe must eat and drink; to eat and drink
we must have money:--I say no more.'

'Do you know how pinched and destitute I am?' she retorted. 'I do
not think you door can. If you had eyesand could look around
you on this poor placeyou would have pity on me. Oh! let your
heart be softened by your own afflictionfriendand have some
sympathy with mine.'

The blind man snapped his fingers as he answered:

'--Beside the questionma'ambeside the question. I have the
softest heart in the worldbut I can't live upon it. Many a
gentleman lives well upon a soft headwho would find a heart of
the same quality a very great drawback. Listen to me. This is a
matter of businesswith which sympathies and sentiments have
nothing to do. As a mutual friendI wish to arrange it in a
satisfactory mannerif possible; and thus the case stands.--If you
are very poor nowit's your own choice. You have friends whoin
case of needare always ready to help you. My friend is in a more
destitute and desolate situation than most menandyou and he
being linked together in a common causehe naturally looks to you
to assist him. He has boarded and lodged with me a long time (for
as I said just nowI am very soft-hearted)and I quite approve of
his entertaining this opinion. You have always had a roof over
your head; he has always been an outcast. You have your son to
comfort and assist you; he has nobody at all. The advantages must
not be all one side. You are in the same boatand we must divide
the ballast a little more equally.'

She was about to speakbut he checked herand went on.

'The only way of doing thisis by making up a little purse now and
then for my friend; and that's what I advise. He bears you no
malice that I know ofma'am: so littlethat although you have
treated him harshly more than onceand driven himI may sayout


of doorshe has that regard for you that I believe even if you
disappointed him nowhe would consent to take charge of your son
and to make a man of him.'

He laid a great stress on these latter wordsand paused as if to
find out what effect they had produced. She only answered by her
tears.

'He is a likely lad' said the blind manthoughtfully'for many
purposesand not ill-disposed to try his fortune in a little
change and bustleif I may judge from what I heard of his talk
with you to-night.--Come. In a wordmy friend has pressing
necessity for twenty pounds. Youwho can give up an annuitycan
get that sum for him. It's a pity you should be troubled. You
seem very comfortable hereand it's worth that much to remain so.
Twenty poundswidowis a moderate demand. You know where to
apply for it; a post will bring it you.--Twenty pounds!'

She was about to answer him againbut again he stopped her.

'Don't say anything hastily; you might be sorry for it. Think of
it a little while. Twenty pounds--of other people's money--how
easy! Turn it over in your mind. I'm in no hurry. Night's coming
onand if I don't sleep hereI shall not go far. Twenty pounds!
Consider of itma'amfor twenty minutes; give each pound a
minute; that's a fair allowance. I'll enjoy the air the while
which is very mild and pleasant in these parts.'

With these words he groped his way to the doorcarrying his chair
with him. Then seating himselfunder a spreading honeysuckleand
stretching his legs across the threshold so that no person could
pass in or out without his knowledgehe took from his pocket a
pipeflintsteel and tinder-boxand began to smoke. It was a
lovely eveningof that gentle kindand at that time of yearwhen
the twilight is most beautiful. Pausing now and then to let his
smoke curl slowly offand to sniff the grateful fragrance of the
flowershe sat there at his ease--as though the cottage were his
proper dwellingand he had held undisputed possession of it all
his life--waiting for the widow's answer and for Barnaby's return.

Chapter 46

When Barnaby returned with the breadthe sight of the pious old
pilgrim smoking his pipe and making himself so thoroughly at home
appeared to surprise even him; the more soas that worthy person
instead of putting up the loaf in his wallet as a scarce and
precious articletossed it carelessly on the tableand producing
his bottlebade him sit down and drink.

'For I carry some comfortyou see' he said. 'Taste that. Is it
good?'

The water stood in Barnaby's eyes as he coughed from the strength
of the draughtand answered in the affirmative.

'Drink some more' said the blind man; 'don't be afraid of it.
You don't taste anything like thatofteneh?'

'Often!' cried Barnaby. 'Never!'

'Too poor?' returned the blind man with a sigh. 'Ay. That's bad.


Your motherpoor soulwould be happier if she was richer
Barnaby.'

'Whyso I tell her--the very thing I told her just before you came
to-nightwhen all that gold was in the sky' said Barnabydrawing
his chair nearer to himand looking eagerly in his face. 'Tell
me. Is there any way of being richthat I could find out?'

'Any way! A hundred ways.'

'Ayay?' he returned. 'Do you say so? What are they?--Nay
motherit's for your sake I ask; not mine;--for yoursindeed.
What are they?'

The blind man turned his faceon which there was a smile of
triumphto where the widow stood in great distress; and answered

'Whythey are not to be found out by stay-at-homesmy good
friend.'

'By stay-at-homes!' cried Barnabyplucking at his sleeve. 'But I
am not one. Nowthere you mistake. I am often out before the
sunand travel home when he has gone to rest. I am away in the
woods before the day has reached the shady placesand am often
there when the bright moon is peeping through the boughsand
looking down upon the other moon that lives in the water. As I
walk alongI try to findamong the grass and mosssome of that
small money for which she works so hard and used to shed so many
tears. As I lie asleep in the shadeI dream of it--dream of
digging it up in heaps; and spying it outhidden under bushes; and
seeing it sparkleas the dew-drops doamong the leaves. But I
never find it. Tell me where it is. I'd go thereif the journey
were a whole year longbecause I know she would be happier when I
came home and brought some with me. Speak again. I'll listen to
you if you talk all night.'

The blind man passed his hand lightly over the poor fellow's face
and finding that his elbows were planted on the tablethat his
chin rested on his two handsthat he leaned eagerly forwardand
that his whole manner expressed the utmost interest and anxiety
paused for a minute as though he desired the widow to observe this
fullyand then made answer:

'It's in the worldbold Barnabythe merry world; not in solitary
places like those you pass your time inbut in crowdsand where
there's noise and rattle.'

'Good! good!' cried Barnabyrubbing his hands. 'Yes! I love
that. Grip loves it too. It suits us both. That's brave!'

'--The kind of places' said the blind man'that a young fellow
likesand in which a good son may do more for his motherand
himself to bootin a monththan he could here in all his life-that
isif he had a friendyou knowand some one to advise
with.'

'You hear thismother?' cried Barnabyturning to her with
delight. 'Never tell me we shouldn't heed itif it lay shining
at out feet. Why do we heed it so much now? Why do you toil from
morning until night?'

'Surely' said the blind man'surely. Have you no answerwidow?
Is your mind' he slowly added'not made up yet?'


'Let me speak with you' she answered'apart.'

'Lay your hand upon my sleeve' said Staggarising from the table;
'and lead me where you will. Couragebold Barnaby. We'll talk
more of this: I've a fancy for you. Wait there till I come back.
Nowwidow.'

She led him out at the doorand into the little gardenwhere they
stopped.

'You are a fit agent' she saidin a half breathless manner'and
well represent the man who sent you here.'

'I'll tell him that you said so' Stagg retorted. 'He has a regard
for youand will respect me the more (if possible) for your
praise. We must have our rightswidow.'

'Rights! Do you know' she said'that a word from me--'

'Why do you stop?' returned the blind man calmlyafter a long
pause. 'Do I know that a word from you would place my friend in
the last position of the dance of life? YesI do. What of that?
It will never be spokenwidow.'

'You are sure of that?'

'Quite--so surethat I don't come here to discuss the question. I
say we must have our rightsor we must be bought off. Keep to
that pointor let me return to my young friendfor I have an
interest in the ladand desire to put him in the way of making his
fortune. Bah! you needn't speak' he added hastily; 'I know what
you would say: you have hinted at it once already. Have I no
feeling for youbecause I am blind? NoI have not. Why do you
expect mebeing in darknessto be better than men who have their
sight--why should you? Is the hand of Heaven more manifest in my
having no eyesthan in your having two? It's the cant of you
folks to be horrified if a blind man robsor liesor steals; oh
yesit's far worse in himwho can barely live on the few
halfpence that are thrown to him in streetsthan in youwho can
seeand workand are not dependent on the mercies of the world.
A curse on you! You who have five senses may be wicked at your
pleasure; we who have fourand want the most importantare to
live and be moral on our affliction. The true charity and justice
of rich to poorall the world over!'

He paused a moment when he had said these wordsand caught the
sound of moneyjingling in her hand.

'Well?' he criedquickly resuming his former manner. 'That should
lead to something. The pointwidow?'

'First answer me one question' she replied. 'You say he is close
at hand. Has he left London?'

'Being close at handwidowit would seem he has' returned the
blind man.

'I meanfor good? You know that.'

'Yesfor good. The truth iswidowthat his making a longer stay
there might have had disagreeable consequences. He has come away
for that reason.'

'Listen' said the widowtelling some money outupon a bench


beside them. 'Count.'

'Six' said the blind manlistening attentively. 'Any more?'

'They are the savings' she answered'of five years. Six
guineas.'

He put out his hand for one of the coins; felt it carefullyput it
between his teethrung it on the bench; and nodded to her to
proceed.

'These have been scraped together and laid bylest sickness or
death should separate my son and me. They have been purchased at
the price of much hungerhard labourand want of rest. If you
CAN take them--do--on condition that you leave this place upon the
instantand enter no more into that roomwhere he sits now
expecting your return.'

'Six guineas' said the blind manshaking his head'though of the
fullest weight that were ever coinedfall very far short of twenty
poundswidow.'

'For such a sumas you knowI must write to a distant part of the
country. To do thatand receive an answerI must have time.'

'Two days?' said Stagg.

'More.'

'Four days?'

'A week. Return on this day weekat the same hourbut not to the
house. Wait at the corner of the lane.'

'Of course' said the blind manwith a crafty look'I shall find
you there?'

'Where else can I take refuge? Is it not enough that you have made
a beggar of meand that I have sacrificed my whole storeso
hardly earnedto preserve this home?'

'Humph!' said the blind manafter some consideration. 'Set me
with my face towards the point you speak ofand in the middle of
the road. Is this the spot?'

'It is.'

'On this day week at sunset. And think of him within doors.--For
the presentgood night.'

She made him no answernor did he stop for any. He went slowly
awayturning his head from time to timeand stopping to listen
as if he were curious to know whether he was watched by any one.
The shadows of night were closing fast aroundand he was soon lost
in the gloom. It was nothoweveruntil she had traversed the
lane from end to endand made sure that he was gonethat she reentered
the cottageand hurriedly barred the door and window.

'Mother!' said Barnaby. 'What is the matter? Where is the blind
man?'

'He is gone.'

'Gone!' he criedstarting up. 'I must have more talk with him.


Which way did he take?'

'I don't know' she answeredfolding her arms about him. 'You
must not go out to-night. There are ghosts and dreams abroad.'

'Ay?' said Barnabyin a frightened whisper.

'It is not safe to stir. We must leave this place to-morrow.'

'This place! This cottage--and the little gardenmother!'

'Yes! To-morrow morning at sunrise. We must travel to London;
lose ourselves in that wide place--there would be some trace of us
in any other town--then travel on againand find some new abode.'

Little persuasion was required to reconcile Barnaby to anything
that promised change. In another minutehe was wild with delight;
in anotherfull of grief at the prospect of parting with his
friends the dogs; in anotherwild again; then he was fearful of
what she had said to prevent his wandering abroad that nightand
full of terrors and strange questions. His light-heartedness in
the end surmounted all his other feelingsand lying down in his
clothes to the end that he might be ready on the morrowhe soon
fell fast asleep before the poor turf fire.

His mother did not close her eyesbut sat beside himwatching.
Every breath of wind sounded in her ears like that dreaded footstep
at the dooror like that hand upon the latchand made the calm
summer nighta night of horror. At length the welcome day
appeared. When she had made the little preparations which were
needful for their journeyand had prayed upon her knees with many
tearsshe roused Barnabywho jumped up gaily at her summons.

His clothes were few enoughand to carry Grip was a labour of
love. As the sun shed his earliest beams upon the earththey
closed the door of their deserted homeand turned away. The sky
was blue and bright. The air was fresh and filled with a thousand
perfumes. Barnaby looked upwardand laughed with all his heart.

But it was a day he usually devoted to a long rambleand one of
the dogs--the ugliest of them all--came bounding upand jumping
round him in the fulness of his joy. He had to bid him go back in
a surly toneand his heart smote him while he did so. The dog
retreated; turned with a half-increduloushalf-imploring look;
came a little back; and stopped.

It was the last appeal of an old companion and a faithful friend-cast
off. Barnaby could bear no moreand as he shook his head and
waved his playmate homehe burst into tears.

'Oh mothermotherhow mournful he will be when he scratches at
the doorand finds it always shut!'

There was such a sense of home in the thoughtthat though her own
eyes overflowed she would not have obliterated the recollection of
iteither from her own mind or from hisfor the wealth of the
whole wide world.

Chapter 47

In the exhaustless catalogue of Heaven's mercies to mankindthe


power we have of finding some germs of comfort in the hardest
trials must ever occupy the foremost place; not only because it
supports and upholds us when we most require to be sustainedbut
because in this source of consolation there is somethingwe have
reason to believeof the divine spirit; something of that goodness
which detects amidst our own evil doingsa redeeming quality;
something whicheven in our fallen naturewe possess in common
with the angels; which had its being in the old time when they trod
the earthand lingers on it yetin pity.

How oftenon their journeydid the widow remember with a grateful
heartthat out of his deprivation Barnaby's cheerfulness and
affection sprung! How often did she call to mind that but for
thathe might have been sullenmoroseunkindfar removed from
her--viciousperhapsand cruel! How often had she cause for
comfortin his strengthand hopeand in his simple nature!
Those feeble powers of mind which rendered him so soon forgetful of
the pastsave in brief gleams and flashes--even they were a
comfort now. The world to him was full of happiness; in every
treeand plantand flowerin every birdand beastand tiny
insect whom a breath of summer wind laid low upon the groundhe
had delight. His delight was hers; and where many a wise son would
have made her sorrowfulthis poor light-hearted idiot filled her
breast with thankfulness and love.

Their stock of money was lowbut from the hoard she had told into
the blind man's handthe widow had withheld one guinea. This
with the few pence she possessed besideswas to two persons of
their frugal habitsa goodly sum in bank. Moreover they had Grip
in company; and when they must otherwise have changed the guinea
it was but to make him exhibit outside an alehouse dooror in a
village streetor in the grounds or gardens of a mansion of the
better sortand scores who would have given nothing in charity
were ready to bargain for more amusement from the talking bird.

One day--for they moved slowlyand although they had many rides in
carts and waggonswere on the road a week--Barnabywith Grip upon
his shoulder and his mother followingbegged permission at a trim
lodge to go up to the great houseat the other end of the avenue
and show his raven. The man within was inclined to give them
admittanceand was indeed about to do sowhen a stout gentleman
with a long whip in his handand a flushed face which seemed to
indicate that he had had his morning's draughtrode up to the
gateand called in a loud voice and with more oaths than the
occasion seemed to warrant to have it opened directly.

'Who hast thou got here?' said the gentleman angrilyas the man
threw the gate wide openand pulled off his hat'who are these?
Eh? art a beggarwoman?'

The widow answered with a curtseythat they were poor travellers.

'Vagrants' said the gentleman'vagrants and vagabonds. Thee
wish to be made acquainted with the cagedost thee--the cagethe
stocksand the whipping-post? Where dost come from?'

She told him in a timid manner--for he was very loudhoarseand
red-faced--and besought him not to be angryfor they meant no
harmand would go upon their way that moment.

'Don't he too sure of that' replied the gentleman'we don't allow
vagrants to roam about this place. I know what thou want'st--stray
linen drying on hedgesand stray poultryeh? What hast
got in that basketlazy hound?'


'GripGripGrip--Grip the cleverGrip the wickedGrip the
knowing--GripGripGrip' cried the ravenwhom Barnaby had shut
up on the approach of this stern personage. 'I'm a devil I'm a
devil I'm a devilNever say die Hurrah Bow wow wowPolly put the
kettle on we'll all have tea.'

'Take the vermin outscoundrel' said the gentleman'and let me
see him.'

Barnabythus condescendingly addressedproduced his birdbut not
without much fear and tremblingand set him down upon the ground;
which he had no sooner done than Grip drew fifty corks at least
and then began to dance; at the same time eyeing the gentleman with
surprising insolence of mannerand screwing his head so much on
one side that he appeared desirous of screwing it off upon the spot.

The cork-drawing seemed to make a greater impression on the
gentleman's mindthan the raven's power of speechand was indeed
particularly adapted to his habits and capacity. He desired to
have that done againbut despite his being very peremptoryand
notwithstanding that Barnaby coaxed to the utmostGrip turned a
deaf ear to the requestand preserved a dead silence.

'Bring him along' said the gentlemanpointing to the house. But
Gripwho had watched the actionanticipated his masterby
hopping on before them;--constantly flapping his wingsand
screaming 'cook!' meanwhileas a hint perhaps that there was
company comingand a small collation would be acceptable.

Barnaby and his mother walked onon either side of the gentleman
on horsebackwho surveyed each of them from time to time in a
proud and coarse mannerand occasionally thundered out some
questionthe tone of which alarmed Barnaby so much that he could
find no answerandas a matter of coursecould make him no
reply. On one of these occasionswhen the gentleman appeared
disposed to exercise his horsewhipthe widow ventured to inform
him in a low voice and with tears in her eyesthat her son was of
weak mind.

'An idioteh?' said the gentlemanlooking at Barnaby as he spoke.
'And how long hast thou been an idiot?'

'She knows' was Barnaby's timid answerpointing to his mother-'
I--alwaysI believe.'

'From his birth' said the widow.

'I don't believe it' cried the gentleman'not a bit of it. It's
an excuse not to work. There's nothing like flogging to cure that
disorder. I'd make a difference in him in ten minutesI'll be
bound.'

'Heaven has made none in more than twice ten yearssir' said the
widow mildly.

'Then why don't you shut him up? we pay enough for county
institutionsdamn 'em. But thou'd rather drag him about to
excite charity--of course. AyI know thee.'

Nowthis gentleman had various endearing appellations among his
intimate friends. By some he was called 'a country gentleman of
the true school' by some 'a fine old country gentleman' by some
'a sporting gentleman' by some 'a thorough-bred Englishman' by


some 'a genuine John Bull;' but they all agreed in one respectand
that wasthat it was a pity there were not more like himand that
because there were notthe country was going to rack and ruin
every day. He was in the commission of the peaceand could write
his name almost legibly; but his greatest qualifications werethat
he was more severe with poacherswas a better shota harder
riderhad better horseskept better dogscould eat more solid
fooddrink more strong winego to bed every night more drunk and
get up every morning more soberthan any man in the county. In
knowledge of horseflesh he was almost equal to a farrierin stable
learning he surpassed his own head groomand in gluttony not a pig
on his estate was a match for him. He had no seat in Parliament
himselfbut he was extremely patrioticand usually drove his
voters up to the poll with his own hands. He was warmly attached
to church and stateand never appointed to the living in his gift
any but a three-bottle man and a first-rate fox-hunter. He
mistrusted the honesty of all poor people who could read and write
and had a secret jealousy of his own wife (a young lady whom he had
married for what his friends called 'the good old English reason'
that her father's property adjoined his own) for possessing those
accomplishments in a greater degree than himself. In short
Barnaby being an idiotand Grip a creature of mere brute instinct
it would be very hard to say what this gentleman was.

He rode up to the door of a handsome house approached by a great
flight of stepswhere a man was waiting to take his horseand led
the way into a large hallwhichspacious as it waswas tainted
with the fumes of last night's stale debauch. Greatcoatsridingwhips
bridlestop-bootsspursand such gearwere strewn about
on all sidesand formedwith some huge stags' antlersand a few
portraits of dogs and horsesits principal embellishments.

Throwing himself into a great chair (in whichby the byehe often
snored away the nightwhen he had beenaccording to his admirers
a finer country gentleman than usual) he bade the man to tell his
mistress to come down: and presently there appeareda little
flurriedas it seemedby the unwonted summonsa lady much
younger than himselfwho had the appearance of being in delicate
healthand not too happy.

'Here! Thou'st no delight in following the hounds as an
Englishwoman should have' said the gentleman. 'See to this
here. That'll please thee perhaps.'

The lady smiledsat down at a little distance from himand
glanced at Barnaby with a look of pity.

'He's an idiotthe woman says' observed the gentlemanshaking
his head; 'I don't believe it.'

'Are you his mother?' asked the lady.

She answered yes.

'What's the use of asking HER?' said the gentlemanthrusting his
hands into his breeches pockets. 'She'll tell thee soof course.
Most likely he's hiredat so much a day. There. Get on. Make
him do something.'

Grip having by this time recovered his urbanitycondescendedat
Barnaby's solicitationto repeat his various phrases of speech
and to go through the whole of his performances with the utmost
success. The corksand the never say dieafforded the gentleman
so much delight that he demanded the repetition of this part of the


entertainmentuntil Grip got into his basketand positively
refused to say another wordgood or bad. The lady toowas much
amused with him; and the closing point of his obstinacy so
delighted her husband that he burst into a roar of laughterand
demanded his price.

Barnaby looked as though he didn't understand his meaning.
Probably he did not.

'His price' said the gentlemanrattling the money in his pockets
'what dost want for him? How much?'

'He's not to be sold' replied Barnabyshutting up the basket in a
great hurryand throwing the strap over his shoulder. 'Mother
come away.'

'Thou seest how much of an idiot he isbook-learner' said the
gentlemanlooking scornfully at his wife. 'He can make a bargain.
What dost want for himold woman?'

'He is my son's constant companion' said the widow. 'He is not to
be soldsirindeed.'

'Not to be sold!' cried the gentlemangrowing ten times redder
hoarserand louder than before. 'Not to be sold!'

'Indeed no' she answered. 'We have never thought of parting with
himsirI do assure you.'

He was evidently about to make a very passionate retortwhen a few
murmured words from his wife happening to catch his earhe turned
sharply roundand said'Eh? What?'

'We can hardly expect them to sell the birdagainst their own
desire' she faltered. 'If they prefer to keep him--'

'Prefer to keep him!' he echoed. 'These peoplewho go tramping
about the country a-pilfering and vagabondising on all hands
prefer to keep a birdwhen a landed proprietor and a justice asks
his price! That old woman's been to school. I know she has.
Don't tell me no' he roared to the widow'I sayyes.'

Barnaby's mother pleaded guilty to the accusationand hoped there
was no harm in it.

'No harm!' said the gentleman. 'No. No harm. No harmye old
rebelnot a bit of harm. If my clerk was hereI'd set ye in the
stocksI wouldor lay ye in jail for prowling up and downon the
look-out for petty larceniesye limb of a gipsy. HereSimonput
these pilferers outshove 'em into the roadout with 'em! Ye
don't want to sell the birdye that come here to begdon't ye?
If they an't out in double-quickset the dogs upon 'em!'

They waited for no further dismissalbut fled precipitately
leaving the gentleman to storm away by himself (for the poor lady
had already retreated)and making a great many vain attempts to
silence Gripwhoexcited by the noisedrew corks enough for a
city feast as they hurried down the avenueand appeared to
congratulate himself beyond measure on having been the cause of the
disturbance. When they had nearly reached the lodgeanother
servantemerging from the shrubberyfeigned to be very active
in ordering them offbut this man put a crown into the widow's
handand whispering that his lady sent itthrust them gently from
the gate.


This incident only suggested to the widow's mindwhen they halted
at an alehouse some miles further onand heard the justice's
character as given by his friendsthat perhaps something more than
capacity of stomach and tastes for the kennel and the stablewere
required to form either a perfect country gentlemana thoroughbred
Englishmanor a genuine John Bull; and that possibly the terms
were sometimes misappropriatednot to say disgraced. She little
thought thenthat a circumstance so slight would ever influence
their future fortunes; but time and experience enlightened her in
this respect.

'Mother' said Barnabyas they were sitting next day in a waggon
which was to take them within ten miles of the capital'we're
going to London firstyou said. Shall we see that blind man
there?'

She was about to answer 'Heaven forbid!' but checked herselfand
told him Noshe thought not; why did he ask?

'He's a wise man' said Barnabywith a thoughtful countenance. 'I
wish that we may meet with him again. What was it that he said of
crowds? That gold was to be found where people crowdedand not
among the trees and in such quiet places? He spoke as if he loved
it; London is a crowded place; I think we shall meet him there.'

'But why do you desire to see himlove?' she asked.

'Because' said Barnabylooking wistfully at her'he talked to me
about goldwhich is a rare thingand say what you willa thing
you would like to haveI know. And because he came and went away
so strangely--just as white-headed old men come sometimes to my
bed's foot in the nightand say what I can't remember when the
bright day returns. He told me he'd come back. I wonder why he
broke his word!'

'But you never thought of being rich or gaybeforedear Barnaby.
You have always been contented.'

He laughed and bade her say that againthen cried'Ay ay--oh
yes' and laughed once more. Then something passed that caught his
fancyand the topic wandered from his mindand was succeeded by
another just as fleeting.

But it was plain from what he had saidand from his returning to
the point more than once that dayand on the nextthat the blind
man's visitand indeed his wordshad taken strong possession of
his mind. Whether the idea of wealth had occurred to him for the
first time on looking at the golden clouds that evening--and images
were often presented to his thoughts by outward objects quite as
remote and distant; or whether their poor and humble way of life
had suggested itby contrastlong ago; or whether the accident
(as he would deem it) of the blind man's pursuing the current of
his own remarkshad done so at the moment; or he had been
impressed by the mere circumstance of the man being blindand
thereforeunlike any one with whom he had talked before; it was
impossible to tell. She tried every means to discoverbut in
vain; and the probability is that Barnaby himself was equally in
the dark.

It filled her with uneasiness to find him harping on this string
but all that she could dowas to lead him quickly to some other
subjectand to dismiss it from his brain. To caution him against
their visitorto show any fear or suspicion in reference to him


would only beshe fearedto increase that interest with which
Barnaby regarded himand to strengthen his desire to meet him once
again. She hopedby plunging into the crowdto rid herself of
her terrible pursuerand thenby journeying to a distance and
observing increased cautionif that were possibleto live again
unknownin secrecy and peace.

They reachedin course of timetheir halting-place within ten
miles of Londonand lay there for the nightafter bargaining to
be carried on for a trifle next dayin a light van which was
returning emptyand was to start at five o'clock in the morning.
The driver was punctualthe road good--save for the dustthe
weather being very hot and dry--and at seven in the forenoon of
Friday the second of Juneone thousand seven hundred and eighty
they alighted at the foot of Westminster Bridgebade their
conductor farewelland stood alonetogetheron the scorching
pavement. For the freshness which night sheds upon such busy
thoroughfares had already departedand the sun was shining with
uncommon lustre.

Chapter 48

Uncertain where to go nextand bewildered by the crowd of people
who were already astirthey sat down in one of the recesses on the
bridgeto rest. They soon became aware that the stream of life
was all pouring one wayand that a vast throng of persons were
crossing the river from the Middlesex to the Surrey shorein
unusual haste and evident excitement. They werefor the most
partin knots of two or threeor sometimes half-a-dozen; they
spoke little together--many of them were quite silent; and hurried
on as if they had one absorbing object in viewwhich was common to
them all.

They were surprised to see that nearly every man in this great
concoursewhich still came pouring pastwithout slackening in the
leastwore in his hat a blue cockade; and that the chance
passengers who were not so decoratedappeared timidly anxious to
escape observation or attackand gave them the wall as if they
would conciliate them. Thishoweverwas natural enough
considering their inferiority in point of numbers; for the
proportion of those who wore blue cockadesto those who were
dressed as usualwas at least forty or fifty to one. There was no
quarrellinghowever: the blue cockades went swarming onpassing
each other when they couldand making all the speed that was
possible in such a multitude; and exchanged nothing more than
looksand very often not even thosewith such of the passers-by
as were not of their number.

At firstthe current of people had been confined to the two
pathwaysand but a few more eager stragglers kept the road. But
after half an hour or sothe passage was completely blocked up by
the great presswhichbeing now closely wedged togetherand
impeded by the carts and coaches it encounteredmoved but slowly
and was sometimes at a stand for five or ten minutes together.

After the lapse of nearly two hoursthe numbers began to diminish
visiblyand gradually dwindling awayby little and littleleft
the bridge quite clearsave thatnow and thensome hot and dusty
manwith the cockade in his hatand his coat thrown over his
shoulderwent panting byfearful of being too lateor stopped to
ask which way his friends had takenand being directedhastened


on again like one refreshed. In this comparative solitudewhich
seemed quite strange and novel after the late crowdthe widow had
for the first time an opportunity of inquiring of an old man who
came and sat beside themwhat was the meaning of that great
assemblage.

'Whywhere have you come from' he returned'that you haven't
heard of Lord George Gordon's great association? This is the day
that he presents the petition against the CatholicsGod bless
him!'

'What have all these men to do with that?' she said.

'What have they to do with it!' the old man replied. 'Whyhow you
talk! Don't you know his lordship has declared he won't present it
to the house at allunless it is attended to the door by forty
thousand good and true men at least? There's a crowd for you!'

'A crowd indeed!' said Barnaby. 'Do you hear thatmother!'

'And they're mustering yonderas I am told' resumed the old man
'nigh upon a hundred thousand strong. Ah! Let Lord George alone.
He knows his power. There'll be a good many faces inside them
three windows over there' and he pointed to where the House of
Commons overlooked the river'that'll turn pale when good Lord
George gets up this afternoonand with reason too! Ayay. Let
his lordship alone. Let him alone. HE knows!' And sowith much
mumbling and chuckling and shaking of his forefingerhe rosewith
the assistance of his stickand tottered off.

'Mother!' said Barnaby'that's a brave crowd he talks of. Come!'

'Not to join it!' cried his mother.

'Yesyes' he answeredplucking at her sleeve. 'Why not? Come!'

'You don't know' she urged'what mischief they may dowhere they
may lead youwhat their meaning is. Dear Barnabyfor my sake--'

'For your sake!' he criedpatting her hand. 'Well! It IS for your
sakemother. You remember what the blind man saidabout the
gold. Here's a brave crowd! Come! Or wait till I come back--yes
yeswait here.'

She tried with all the earnestness her fears engenderedto turn
him from his purposebut in vain. He was stooping down to buckle
on his shoewhen a hackney-coach passed them rather quicklyand a
voice inside called to the driver to stop.

'Young man' said a voice within.

'Who's that?' cried Barnabylooking up.

'Do you wear this ornament?' returned the strangerholding out a
blue cockade.

'In Heaven's nameno. Pray do not give it him!' exclaimed the
widow.

'Speak for yourselfwoman' said the man within the coachcoldly.
'Leave the young man to his choice; he's old enough to make itand
to snap your apron-strings. He knowswithout your telling
whether he wears the sign of a loyal Englishman or not.'


Barnabytrembling with impatiencecried'Yes! yesyesI do'
as he had cried a dozen times already. The man threw him a
cockadeand crying'Make haste to St George's Fields' ordered
the coachman to drive on fast; and left them.

With hands that trembled with his eagerness to fix the bauble in
his hatBarnaby was adjusting it as he best couldand hurriedly
replying to the tears and entreaties of his motherwhen two
gentlemen passed on the opposite side of the way. Observing them
and seeing how Barnaby was occupiedthey stoppedwhispered
together for an instantturned backand came over to them.

'Why are you sitting here?' said one of themwho was dressed in a
plain suit of blackwore long lank hairand carried a great cane.
'Why have you not gone with the rest?'

'I am goingsir' replied Barnabyfinishing his taskand putting
his hat on with an air of pride. 'I shall be there directly.'

'Say "my lord young man, when his lordship does you the honour of
speaking to you,' said the second gentleman mildly. 'If you don't
know Lord George Gordon when you see him, it's high time you
should.'

'Nay, Gashford,' said Lord George, as Barnaby pulled off his hat
again and made him a low bow, 'it's no great matter on a day like
this, which every Englishman will remember with delight and pride.
Put on your hat, friend, and follow us, for you lag behind and are
late. It's past ten now. Didn't you know that the hour for
assembling was ten o'clock?'

Barnaby shook his head and looked vacantly from one to the other.

'You might have known it, friend,' said Gashford, 'it was perfectly
understood. How came you to be so ill informed?'

'He cannot tell you, sir,' the widow interposed. 'It's of no use
to ask him. We are but this morning come from a long distance in
the country, and know nothing of these matters.'

'The cause has taken a deep root, and has spread its branches far
and wide,' said Lord George to his secretary. 'This is a pleasant
hearing. I thank Heaven for it!'

'Amen!' cried Gashford with a solemn face.

'You do not understand me, my lord,' said the widow. 'Pardon me,
but you cruelly mistake my meaning. We know nothing of these
matters. We have no desire or right to join in what you are about
to do. This is my son, my poor afflicted son, dearer to me than my
own life. In mercy's name, my lord, go your way alone, and do not
tempt him into danger!'

'My good woman,' said Gashford, 'how can you!--Dear me!--What do
you mean by tempting, and by danger? Do you think his lordship is
a roaring lion, going about and seeking whom he may devour? God
bless me!'

'No, no, my lord, forgive me,' implored the widow, laying both her
hands upon his breast, and scarcely knowing what she did, or said,
in the earnestness of her supplication, 'but there are reasons why
you should hear my earnest, mother's prayer, and leave my son with
me. Oh do! He is not in his right senses, he is not, indeed!'


'It is a bad sign of the wickedness of these times,' said Lord
George, evading her touch, and colouring deeply, 'that those who
cling to the truth and support the right cause, are set down as
mad. Have you the heart to say this of your own son, unnatural
mother!'

'I am astonished at you!' said Gashford, with a kind of meek
severity. 'This is a very sad picture of female depravity.'

'He has surely no appearance,' said Lord George, glancing at
Barnaby, and whispering in his secretary's ear, 'of being deranged?
And even if he had, we must not construe any trifling peculiarity
into madness. Which of us'--and here he turned red again--'would
be safe, if that were made the law!'

'Not one,' replied the secretary; 'in that case, the greater the
zeal, the truth, and talent; the more direct the call from above;
the clearer would be the madness. With regard to this young man,
my lord,' he added, with a lip that slightly curled as he looked at
Barnaby, who stood twirling his hat, and stealthily beckoning them
to come away, 'he is as sensible and self-possessed as any one I
ever saw.'

'And you desire to make one of this great body?' said Lord George,
addressing him; 'and intended to make one, did you?'

'Yes--yes,' said Barnaby, with sparkling eyes. 'To be sure I did!
I told her so myself.'

'I see,' replied Lord George, with a reproachful glance at the
unhappy mother. 'I thought so. Follow me and this gentleman, and
you shall have your wish.'

Barnaby kissed his mother tenderly on the cheek, and bidding her be
of good cheer, for their fortunes were both made now, did as he was
desired. She, poor woman, followed too--with how much fear and
grief it would be hard to tell.

They passed quickly through the Bridge Road, where the shops were
all shut up (for the passage of the great crowd and the expectation
of their return had alarmed the tradesmen for their goods and
windows), and where, in the upper stories, all the inhabitants were
congregated, looking down into the street below, with faces
variously expressive of alarm, of interest, expectancy, and
indignation. Some of these applauded, and some hissed; but
regardless of these interruptions--for the noise of a vast
congregation of people at a little distance, sounded in his ears
like the roaring of the sea--Lord George Gordon quickened his pace,
and presently arrived before St George's Fields.

They were really fields at that time, and of considerable extent.
Here an immense multitude was collected, bearing flags of various
kinds and sizes, but all of the same colour--blue, like the
cockades--some sections marching to and fro in military array, and
others drawn up in circles, squares, and lines. A large portion,
both of the bodies which paraded the ground, and of those which
remained stationary, were occupied in singing hymns or psalms.
With whomsoever this originated, it was well done; for the sound of
so many thousand voices in the air must have stirred the heart of
any man within him, and could not fail to have a wonderful effect
upon enthusiasts, however mistaken.

Scouts had been posted in advance of the great body, to give notice
of their leader's coming. These falling back, the word was quickly


passed through the whole host, and for a short interval there
ensued a profound and deathlike silence, during which the mass was
so still and quiet, that the fluttering of a banner caught the eye,
and became a circumstance of note. Then they burst into a
tremendous shout, into another, and another; and the air seemed
rent and shaken, as if by the discharge of cannon.

'Gashford!' cried Lord George, pressing his secretary's arm tight
within his own, and speaking with as much emotion in his voice, as
in his altered face, 'I arn called indeed, now. I feel and know
it. I am the leader of a host. If they summoned me at this moment
with one voice to lead them on to death, I'd do it--Yes, and fall
first myself!'

'It is a proud sight,' said the secretary. 'It is a noble day for
England, and for the great cause throughout the world. Such
homage, my lord, as I, an humble but devoted man, can render--'

'What are you doing?' cried his master, catching him by both hands;
for he had made a show of kneeling at his feet. 'Do not unfit me,
dear Gashford, for the solemn duty of this glorious day--' the
tears stood in the eyes of the poor gentleman as he said the
words.--'Let us go among them; we have to find a place in some
division for this new recruit--give me your hand.'

Gashford slid his cold insidious palm into his master's grasp, and
so, hand in hand, and followed still by Barnaby and by his mother
too, they mingled with the concourse.

They had by this time taken to their singing again, and as their
leader passed between their ranks, they raised their voices to
their utmost. Many of those who were banded together to support
the religion of their country, even unto death, had never heard a
hymn or psalm in all their lives. But these fellows having for the
most part strong lungs, and being naturally fond of singing,
chanted any ribaldry or nonsense that occurred to them, feeling
pretty certain that it would not be detected in the general chorus,
and not caring much if it were. Many of these voluntaries were
sung under the very nose of Lord George Gordon, who, quite
unconscious of their burden, passed on with his usual stiff and
solemn deportment, very much edified and delighted by the pious
conduct of his followers.

So they went on and on, up this line, down that, round the exterior
of this circle, and on every side of that hollow square; and still
there were lines, and squares, and circles out of number to review.
The day being now intensely hot, and the sun striking down his
fiercest rays upon the field, those who carried heavy banners began
to grow faint and weary; most of the number assembled were fain to
pull off their neckcloths, and throw their coats and waistcoats
open; and some, towards the centre, quite overpowered by the
excessive heat, which was of course rendered more unendurable by
the multitude around them, lay down upon the grass, and offered all
they had about them for a drink of water. Still, no man left the
ground, not even of those who were so distressed; still Lord
George, streaming from every pore, went on with Gashford; and still
Barnaby and his mother followed close behind them.

They had arrived at the top of a long line of some eight hundred
men in single file, and Lord George had turned his head to look
back, when a loud cry of recognition--in that peculiar and halfstifled
tone which a voice has, when it is raised in the open air
and in the midst of a great concourse of persons--was heard, and a
man stepped with a shout of laughter from the rank, and smote


Barnaby on the shoulders with his heavy hand.

'How now!' he cried. 'Barnaby Rudge! Why, where have you been
hiding for these hundred years?'

Barnaby had been thinking within himself that the smell of the
trodden grass brought back his old days at cricket, when he was a
young boy and played on Chigwell Green. Confused by this sudden
and boisterous address, he stared in a bewildered manner at the
man, and could scarcely say 'What! Hugh!'

'Hugh!' echoed the other; 'ay, Hugh--Maypole Hugh! You remember my
dog? He's alive now, and will know you, I warrant. What, you wear
the colour, do you? Well done! Ha ha ha!'

'You know this young man, I see,' said Lord George.

'Know him, my lord! as well as I know my own right hand. My
captain knows him. We all know him.'

'Will you take him into your division?'

'It hasn't in it a better, nor a nimbler, nor a more active man,
than Barnaby Rudge,' said Hugh. 'Show me the man who says it has!
Fall in, Barnaby. He shall march, my lord, between me and Dennis;
and he shall carry,' he added, taking a flag from the hand of a
tired man who tendered it, 'the gayest silken streamer in this
valiant army.'

'In the name of God, no!' shrieked the widow, darting forward.
'Barnaby--my lord--see--he'll come back--Barnaby--Barnaby!'

'Women in the field!' cried Hugh, stepping between them, and
holding her off. 'Holloa! My captain there!'

'What's the matter here?' cried Simon Tappertit, bustling up in a
great heat. 'Do you call this order?'

'Nothing like it, captain,' answered Hugh, still holding her back
with his outstretched hand. 'It's against all orders. Ladies are
carrying off our gallant soldiers from their duty. The word of
command, captain! They're filing off the ground. Quick!'

'Close!' cried Simon, with the whole power of his lungs. 'Form!
March!'

She was thrown to the ground; the whole field was in motion;
Barnaby was whirled away into the heart of a dense mass of men, and
she saw him no more.

Chapter 49

The mob had been divided from its first assemblage into four
divisions; the London, the Westminster, the Southwark, and the
Scotch. Each of these divisions being subdivided into various
bodies, and these bodies being drawn up in various forms and
figures, the general arrangement was, except to the few chiefs and
leaders, as unintelligible as the plan of a great battle to the
meanest soldier in the field. It was not without its method,
however; for, in a very short space of time after being put in
motion, the crowd had resolved itself into three great parties, and


were prepared, as had been arranged, to cross the river by
different bridges, and make for the House of Commons in separate
detachments.

At the head of that division which had Westminster Bridge for its
approach to the scene of action, Lord George Gordon took his post;
with Gashford at his right hand, and sundry ruffians, of most
unpromising appearance, forming a kind of staff about him. The
conduct of a second party, whose route lay by Blackfriars, was
entrusted to a committee of management, including perhaps a dozen
men: while the third, which was to go by London Bridge, and through
the main streets, in order that their numbers and their serious
intentions might be the better known and appreciated by the
citizens, were led by Simon Tappertit (assisted by a few
subalterns, selected from the Brotherhood of United Bulldogs),
Dennis the hangman, Hugh, and some others.

The word of command being given, each of these great bodies took
the road assigned to it, and departed on its way, in perfect order
and profound silence. That which went through the City greatly
exceeded the others in number, and was of such prodigious extent
that when the rear began to move, the front was nearly four miles
in advance, notwithstanding that the men marched three abreast and
followed very close upon each other.

At the head of this party, in the place where Hugh, in the madness
of his humour, had stationed him, and walking between that
dangerous companion and the hangman, went Barnaby; as many a man
among the thousands who looked on that day afterwards remembered
well. Forgetful of all other things in the ecstasy of the moment,
his face flushed and his eyes sparkling with delight, heedless of
the weight of the great banner he carried, and mindful only of its
flashing in the sun and rustling in the summer breeze, on he went,
proud, happy, elated past all telling:--the only light-hearted,
undesigning creature, in the whole assembly.

'What do you think of this?' asked Hugh, as they passed through the
crowded streets, and looked up at the windows which were thronged
with spectators. 'They have all turned out to see our flags and
streamers? Eh, Barnaby? Why, Barnaby's the greatest man of all
the pack! His flag's the largest of the lot, the brightest too.
There's nothing in the show, like Barnaby. All eyes are turned on
him. Ha ha ha!'

'Don't make that din, brother,' growled the hangman, glancing with
no very approving eyes at Barnaby as he spoke: 'I hope he don't
think there's nothing to be done, but carrying that there piece of
blue rag, like a boy at a breaking up. You're ready for action I
hope, eh? You, I mean,' he added, nudging Barnaby roughly with
his elbow. 'What are you staring at? Why don't you speak?'

Barnaby had been gazing at his flag, and looked vacantly from his
questioner to Hugh.

'He don't understand your way,' said the latter. 'Here, I'll
explain it to him. Barnaby old boy, attend to me.'

'I'll attend,' said Barnaby, looking anxiously round; 'but I wish
I could see her somewhere.'

'See who?' demanded Dennis in a gruff tone. 'You an't in love I
hope, brother? That an't the sort of thing for us, you know. We
mustn't have no love here.'


'She would be proud indeed to see me now, eh Hugh?' said Barnaby.
'Wouldn't it make her glad to see me at the head of this large
show? She'd cry for joy, I know she would. Where CAN she be? She
never sees me at my best, and what do I care to be gay and fine if
SHE'S not by?'

'Why, what palaver's this?' asked Mr Dennis with supreme disdain.
'We an't got no sentimental members among us, I hope.'

'Don't be uneasy, brother,' cried Hugh, 'he's only talking of his
mother.'

'Of his what?' said Mr Dennis with a strong oath.

'His mother.'

'And have I combined myself with this here section, and turned out
on this here memorable day, to hear men talk about their mothers!'
growled Mr Dennis with extreme disgust. 'The notion of a man's
sweetheart's bad enough, but a man's mother!'--and here his disgust
was so extreme that he spat upon the ground, and could say no more.

'Barnaby's right,' cried Hugh with a grin, 'and I say it. Lookee,
bold lad. If she's not here to see, it's because I've provided for
her, and sent half-a-dozen gentlemen, every one of 'em with a
blue flag (but not half as fine as yours), to take her, in state,
to a grand house all hung round with gold and silver banners, and
everything else you please, where she'll wait till you come, and
want for nothing.'

'Ay!' said Barnaby, his face beaming with delight: 'have you
indeed? That's a good hearing. That's fine! Kind Hugh!'

'But nothing to what will come, bless you,' retorted Hugh, with a
wink at Dennis, who regarded his new companion in arms with great
astonishment.

'No, indeed?' cried Barnaby.

'Nothing at all,' said Hugh. 'Money, cocked hats and feathers, red
coats and gold lace; all the fine things there are, ever were, or
will be; will belong to us if we are true to that noble gentleman-the
best man in the world--carry our flags for a few days, and keep
'em safe. That's all we've got to do.'

'Is that all?' cried Barnaby with glistening eyes, as he clutched
his pole the tighter; 'I warrant you I keep this one safe, then.
You have put it in good hands. You know me, Hugh. Nobody shall
wrest this flag away.'

'Well said!' cried Hugh. 'Ha ha! Nobly said! That's the old
stout Barnaby, that I have climbed and leaped with, many and many a
day--I knew I was not mistaken in Barnaby.--Don't you see, man,' he
added in a whisper, as he slipped to the other side of Dennis,
'that the lad's a natural, and can be got to do anything, if you
take him the right way? Letting alone the fun he is, he's worth a
dozen men, in earnest, as you'd find if you tried a fall with him.
Leave him to me. You shall soon see whether he's of use or not.'

Mr Dennis received these explanatory remarks with many nods and
winks, and softened his behaviour towards Barnaby from that moment.
Hugh, laying his finger on his nose, stepped back into his former
place, and they proceeded in silence.


It was between two and three o'clock in the afternoon when the
three great parties met at Westminster, and, uniting into one huge
mass, raised a tremendous shout. This was not only done in token
of their presence, but as a signal to those on whom the task
devolved, that it was time to take possession of the lobbies of
both Houses, and of the various avenues of approach, and of the
gallery stairs. To the last-named place, Hugh and Dennis, still
with their pupil between them, rushed straightway; Barnaby having
given his flag into the hands of one of their own party, who kept
them at the outer door. Their followers pressing on behind, they
were borne as on a great wave to the very doors of the gallery,
whence it was impossible to retreat, even if they had been so
inclined, by reason of the throng which choked up the passages. It
is a familiar expression in describing a great crowd, that a person
might have walked upon the people's heads. In this case it was
actually done; for a boy who had by some means got among the
concourse, and was in imminent danger of suffocation, climbed to
the shoulders of a man beside him and walked upon the people's hats
and heads into the open street; traversing in his passage the whole
length of two staircases and a long gallery. Nor was the swarm
without less dense; for a basket which had been tossed into the
crowd, was jerked from head to head, and shoulder to shoulder, and
went spinning and whirling on above them, until it was lost to
view, without ever once falling in among them or coming near the
ground.

Through this vast throng, sprinkled doubtless here and there with
honest zealots, but composed for the most part of the very scum and
refuse of London, whose growth was fostered by bad criminal laws,
bad prison regulations, and the worst conceivable police, such of
the members of both Houses of Parliament as had not taken the
precaution to be already at their posts, were compelled to fight
and force their way. Their carriages were stopped and broken; the
wheels wrenched off; the glasses shivered to atoms; the panels
beaten in; drivers, footmen, and masters, pulled from their seats
and rolled in the mud. Lords, commoners, and reverend bishops,
with little distinction of person or party, were kicked and pinched
and hustled; passed from hand to hand through various stages of
ill-usage; and sent to their fellow-senators at last with their
clothes hanging in ribands about them, their bagwigs torn off,
themselves speechless and breathless, and their persons covered
with the powder which had been cuffed and beaten out of their hair.
One lord was so long in the hands of the populace, that the Peers
as a body resolved to sally forth and rescue him, and were in the
act of doing so, when he happily appeared among them covered with
dirt and bruises, and hardly to be recognised by those who knew him
best. The noise and uproar were on the increase every moment. The
air was filled with execrations, hoots, and howlings. The mob
raged and roared, like a mad monster as it was, unceasingly, and
each new outrage served to swell its fury.

Within doors, matters were even yet more threatening. Lord George-preceded
by a man who carried the immense petition on a porter's
knot through the lobby to the door of the House of Commons, where
it was received by two officers of the house who rolled it up to
the table ready for presentation--had taken his seat at an early
hour, before the Speaker went to prayers. His followers pouring in
at the same time, the lobby and all the avenues were immediately
filled, as we have seen. Thus the members were not only attacked
in their passage through the streets, but were set upon within the
very walls of Parliament; while the tumult, both within and
without, was so great, that those who attempted to speak could
scarcely hear their own voices: far less, consult upon the course
it would be wise to take in such extremity, or animate each other


to dignified and firm resistance. So sure as any member, just
arrived, with dress disordered and dishevelled hair, came
struggling through the crowd in the lobby, it yelled and screamed
in triumph; and when the door of the House, partially and
cautiously opened by those within for his admission, gave them a
momentary glimpse of the interior, they grew more wild and savage,
like beasts at the sight of prey, and made a rush against the
portal which strained its locks and bolts in their staples, and
shook the very beams.

The strangers' gallery, which was immediately above the door of the
House, had been ordered to be closed on the first rumour of
disturbance, and was empty; save that now and then Lord George took
his seat there, for the convenience of coming to the head of the
stairs which led to it, and repeating to the people what had passed
within. It was on these stairs that Barnaby, Hugh, and Dennis were
posted. There were two flights, short, steep, and narrow, running
parallel to each other, and leading to two little doors
communicating with a low passage which opened on the gallery.
Between them was a kind of well, or unglazed skylight, for the
admission of light and air into the lobby, which might be some
eighteen or twenty feet below.

Upon one of these little staircases--not that at the head of which
Lord George appeared from time to time, but the other--Gashford
stood with his elbow on the bannister, and his cheek resting on his
hand, with his usual crafty aspect. Whenever he varied this
attitude in the slightest degree--so much as by the gentlest motion
of his arm--the uproar was certain to increase, not merely there,
but in the lobby below; from which place no doubt, some man who
acted as fugleman to the rest, was constantly looking up and
watching him.

'Order!' cried Hugh, in a voice which made itself heard even above
the roar and tumult, as Lord George appeared at the top of the
staircase. 'News! News from my lord!'

The noise continued, notwithstanding his appearance, until Gashford
looked round. There was silence immediately--even among the people
in the passages without, and on the other staircases, who could
neither see nor hear, but to whom, notwithstanding, the signal was
conveyed with marvellous rapidity.

'Gentlemen,' said Lord George, who was very pale and agitated, we
must be firm. They talk of delays, but we must have no delays.
They talk of taking your petition into consideration next Tuesday,
but we must have it considered now. Present appearances look bad
for our success, but we must succeed and will!'

'We must succeed and will!' echoed the crowd. And so among their
shouts and cheers and other cries, he bowed to them and retired,
and presently came back again. There was another gesture from
Gashford, and a dead silence directly.

'I am afraid,' he said, this time, 'that we have little reason,
gentlemen, to hope for any redress from the proceedings of
Parliament. But we must redress our own grievances, we must meet
again, we must put our trust in Providence, and it will bless our
endeavours.'

This speech being a little more temperate than the last, was not so
favourably received. When the noise and exasperation were at their
height, he came back once more, and told them that the alarm had
gone forth for many miles round; that when the King heard of their


assembling together in that great body, he had no doubt, His
Majesty would send down private orders to have their wishes
complied with; and--with the manner of his speech as childish,
irresolute, and uncertain as his matter--was proceeding in this
strain, when two gentlemen suddenly appeared at the door where he
stood, and pressing past him and coming a step or two lower down
upon the stairs, confronted the people.

The boldness of this action quite took them by surprise. They were
not the less disconcerted, when one of the gentlemen, turning to
Lord George, spoke thus--in a loud voice that they might hear him
well, but quite coolly and collectedly:

'You may tell these people, if you please, my lord, that I am
General Conway of whom they have heard; and that I oppose this
petition, and all their proceedings, and yours. I am a soldier,
you may tell them, and I will protect the freedom of this place
with my sword. You see, my lord, that the members of this House
are all in arms to-day; you know that the entrance to it is a
narrow one; you cannot be ignorant that there are men within these
walls who are determined to defend that pass to the last, and
before whom many lives must fall if your adherents persevere. Have
a care what you do.'

'And my Lord George,' said the other gentleman, addressing him in
like manner, 'I desire them to hear this, from me--Colonel Gordon-your
near relation. If a man among this crowd, whose uproar
strikes us deaf, crosses the threshold of the House of Commons, I
swear to run my sword that moment--not into his, but into your
body!'

With that, they stepped back again, keeping their faces towards the
crowd; took each an arm of the misguided nobleman; drew him into
the passage, and shut the door; which they directly locked and
fastened on the inside.

This was so quickly done, and the demeanour of both gentlemen--who
were not young men either--was so gallant and resolute, that the
crowd faltered and stared at each other with irresolute and timid
looks. Many tried to turn towards the door; some of the faintesthearted
cried they had best go back, and called to those behind to
give way; and the panic and confusion were increasing rapidly, when
Gashford whispered Hugh.

'What now!' Hugh roared aloud, turning towards them. 'Why go back?
Where can you do better than here, boys! One good rush against
these doors and one below at the same time, will do the business.
Rush on, then! As to the door below, let those stand back who are
afraid. Let those who are not afraid, try who shall be the first
to pass it. Here goes! Look out down there!'

Without the delay of an instant, he threw himself headlong over the
bannisters into the lobby below. He had hardly touched the ground
when Barnaby was at his side. The chaplain's assistant, and some
members who were imploring the people to retire, immediately
withdrew; and then, with a great shout, both crowds threw
themselves against the doors pell-mell, and besieged the House in
earnest.

At that moment, when a second onset must have brought them into
collision with those who stood on the defensive within, in which
case great loss of life and bloodshed would inevitably have
ensued,--the hindmost portion of the crowd gave way, and the rumour
spread from mouth to mouth that a messenger had been despatched by


water for the military, who were forming in the street. Fearful of
sustaining a charge in the narrow passages in which they were so
closely wedged together, the throng poured out as impetuously as
they had flocked in. As the whole stream turned at once, Barnaby
and Hugh went with it: and so, fighting and struggling and
trampling on fallen men and being trampled on in turn themselves,
they and the whole mass floated by degrees into the open street,
where a large detachment of the Guards, both horse and foot, came
hurrying up; clearing the ground before them so rapidly that the
people seemed to melt away as they advanced.

The word of command to halt being given, the soldiers formed across
the street; the rioters, breathless and exhausted with their late
exertions, formed likewise, though in a very irregular and
disorderly manner. The commanding officer rode hastily into the
open space between the two bodies, accompanied by a magistrate and
an officer of the House of Commons, for whose accommodation a
couple of troopers had hastily dismounted. The Riot Act was read,
but not a man stirred.

In the first rank of the insurgents, Barnaby and Hugh stood side by
side. Somebody had thrust into Barnaby's hands when he came out
into the street, his precious flag; which, being now rolled up and
tied round the pole, looked like a giant quarter-staff as he
grasped it firmly and stood upon his guard. If ever man believed
with his whole heart and soul that he was engaged in a just cause,
and that he was bound to stand by his leader to the last, poor
Barnaby believed it of himself and Lord George Gordon.

After an ineffectual attempt to make himself heard, the magistrate
gave the word and the Horse Guards came riding in among the crowd.
But, even then, he galloped here and there, exhorting the people to
disperse; and, although heavy stones were thrown at the men, and
some were desperately cut and bruised, they had no orders but to
make prisoners of such of the rioters as were the most active, and
to drive the people back with the flat of their sabres. As the
horses came in among them, the throng gave way at many points, and
the Guards, following up their advantage, were rapidly clearing the
ground, when two or three of the foremost, who were in a manner cut
off from the rest by the people closing round them, made straight
towards Barnaby and Hugh, who had no doubt been pointed out as the
two men who dropped into the lobby: laying about them now with some
effect, and inflicting on the more turbulent of their opponents, a
few slight flesh wounds, under the influence of which a man
dropped, here and there, into the arms of his fellows, amid much
groaning and confusion.

At the sight of gashed and bloody faces, seen for a moment in the
crowd, then hidden by the press around them, Barnaby turned pale
and sick. But he stood his ground, and grasping his pole more
firmly yet, kept his eye fixed upon the nearest soldier--nodding
his head meanwhile, as Hugh, with a scowling visage, whispered in
his ear.

The soldier came spurring on, making his horse rear as the people
pressed about him, cutting at the hands of those who would have
grasped his rein and forced his charger back, and waving to his
comrades to follow--and still Barnaby, without retreating an inch,
waited for his coming. Some called to him to fly, and some were in
the very act of closing round him, to prevent his being taken, when
the pole swept into the air above the people's heads, and the man's
saddle was empty in an instant.

Then, he and Hugh turned and fled, the crowd opening to let them


pass, and closing up again so quickly that there was no clue to the
course they had taken. Panting for breath, hot, dusty, and
exhausted with fatigue, they reached the riverside in safety, and
getting into a boat with all despatch were soon out of any
immediate danger.

As they glided down the river, they plainly heard the people
cheering; and supposing they might have forced the soldiers to
retreat, lay upon their oars for a few minutes, uncertain whether
to return or not. But the crowd passing along Westminster Bridge,
soon assured them that the populace were dispersing; and Hugh
rightly guessed from this, that they had cheered the magistrate for
offering to dismiss the military on condition of their immediate
departure to their several homes, and that he and Barnaby were
better where they were. He advised, therefore, that they should
proceed to Blackfriars, and, going ashore at the bridge, make the
best of their way to The Boot; where there was not only good
entertainment and safe lodging, but where they would certainly be
joined by many of their late companions. Barnaby assenting, they
decided on this course of action, and pulled for Blackfriars
accordingly.

They landed at a critical time, and fortunately for themselves at
the right moment. For, coming into Fleet Street, they found it in
an unusual stir; and inquiring the cause, were told that a body of
Horse Guards had just galloped past, and that they were escorting
some rioters whom they had made prisoners, to Newgate for safety.
Not at all ill-pleased to have so narrowly escaped the cavalcade,
they lost no more time in asking questions, but hurried to The Boot
with as much speed as Hugh considered it prudent to make, without
appearing singular or attracting an inconvenient share of public
notice.

Chapter 50

They were among the first to reach the tavern, but they had not
been there many minutes, when several groups of men who had formed
part of the crowd, came straggling in. Among them were Simon
Tappertit and Mr Dennis; both of whom, but especially the latter,
greeted Barnaby with the utmost warmth, and paid him many
compliments on the prowess he had shown.

'Which,' said Dennis, with an oath, as he rested his bludgeon in a
corner with his hat upon it, and took his seat at the same table
with them, 'it does me good to think of. There was a opportunity!
But it led to nothing. For my part, I don't know what would.
There's no spirit among the people in these here times. Bring
something to eat and drink here. I'm disgusted with humanity.'

'On what account?' asked Mr Tappertit, who had been quenching his
fiery face in a half-gallon can. 'Don't you consider this a good
beginning, mister?'

'Give me security that it an't a ending,' rejoined the hangman.
'When that soldier went down, we might have made London ours; but
no;--we stand, and gape, and look on--the justice (I wish he had
had a bullet in each eye, as he would have had, if we'd gone to
work my way) says, My ladsif you'll give me your word to
disperseI'll order off the military our people sets up a
hurrah, throws up the game with the winning cards in their hands,
and skulks away like a pack of tame curs as they are. Ah,' said
the hangman, in a tone of deep disgust, 'it makes me blush for my


feller creeturs. I wish I had been born a ox, I do!'

'You'd have been quite as agreeable a character if you had been, I
think,' returned Simon Tappertit, going out in a lofty manner.

'Don't be too sure of that,' rejoined the hangman, calling after
him; 'if I was a horned animal at the present moment, with the
smallest grain of sense, I'd toss every man in this company,
excepting them two,' meaning Hugh and Barnaby, 'for his manner of
conducting himself this day.'

With which mournful review of their proceedings, Mr Dennis sought
consolation in cold boiled beef and beer; but without at all
relaxing the grim and dissatisfied expression of his face, the
gloom of which was rather deepened than dissipated by their
grateful influence.

The company who were thus libelled might have retaliated by strong
words, if not by blows, but they were dispirited and worn out. The
greater part of them had fasted since morning; all had suffered
extremely from the excessive heat; and between the day's shouting,
exertion, and excitement, many had quite lost their voices, and so
much of their strength that they could hardly stand. Then they
were uncertain what to do next, fearful of the consequences of what
they had done already, and sensible that after all they had carried
no point, but had indeed left matters worse than they had found
them. Of those who had come to The Boot, many dropped off within
an hour; such of them as were really honest and sincere, never,
after the morning's experience, to return, or to hold any
communication with their late companions. Others remained but to
refresh themselves, and then went home desponding; others who had
theretofore been regular in their attendance, avoided the place
altogether. The half-dozen prisoners whom the Guards had taken,
were magnified by report into half-a-hundred at least; and their
friends, being faint and sober, so slackened in their energy, and
so drooped beneath these dispiriting influences, that by eight
o'clock in the evening, Dennis, Hugh, and Barnaby, were left alone.
Even they were fast asleep upon the benches, when Gashford's
entrance roused them.

'Oh! you ARE here then?' said the Secretary. 'Dear me!'

'Why, where should we be, Muster Gashford!' Dennis rejoined as he
rose into a sitting posture.

'Oh nowhere, nowhere,' he returned with excessive mildness. 'The
streets are filled with blue cockades. I rather thought you might
have been among them. I am glad you are not.'

'You have orders for us, master, then?' said Hugh.

'Oh dear, no. Not I. No orders, my good fellow. What orders
should I have? You are not in my service.'

'Muster Gashford,' remonstrated Dennis, 'we belong to the cause,
don't we?'

'The cause!' repeated the secretary, looking at him in a sort of
abstraction. 'There is no cause. The cause is lost.'

'Lost!'

'Oh yes. You have heard, I suppose? The petition is rejected by a
hundred and ninety-two, to six. It's quite final. We might have


spared ourselves some trouble. That, and my lord's vexation, are
the only circumstances I regret. I am quite satisfied in all other
respects.'

As he said this, he took a penknife from his pocket, and putting
his hat upon his knee, began to busy himself in ripping off the
blue cockade which he had worn all day; at the same time humming a
psalm tune which had been very popular in the morning, and dwelling
on it with a gentle regret.

His two adherents looked at each other, and at him, as if they
were at a loss how to pursue the subject. At length Hugh, after
some elbowing and winking between himself and Mr Dennis, ventured
to stay his hand, and to ask him why he meddled with that riband in
his hat.

'Because,' said the secretary, looking up with something between a
snarl and a smile; 'because to sit still and wear it, or to fall
asleep and wear it, is a mockery. That's all, friend.'

'What would you have us do, master!' cried Hugh.

'Nothing,' returned Gashford, shrugging his shoulders, 'nothing.
When my lord was reproached and threatened for standing by you, I,
as a prudent man, would have had you do nothing. When the soldiers
were trampling you under their horses' feet, I would have had you
do nothing. When one of them was struck down by a daring hand, and
I saw confusion and dismay in all their faces, I would have had you
do nothing--just what you did, in short. This is the young man who
had so little prudence and so much boldness. Ah! I am sorry for him.'

'Sorry, master!' cried Hugh.

'Sorry, Muster Gashford!' echoed Dennis.

'In case there should be a proclamation out to-morrow, offering
five hundred pounds, or some such trifle, for his apprehension; and
in case it should include another man who dropped into the lobby
from the stairs above,' said Gashford, coldly; 'still, do nothing.'

'Fire and fury, master!' cried Hugh, starting up. 'What have we
done, that you should talk to us like this!'

'Nothing,' returned Gashford with a sneer. 'If you are cast into
prison; if the young man--' here he looked hard at Barnaby's
attentive face--'is dragged from us and from his friends; perhaps
from people whom he loves, and whom his death would kill; is thrown
into jail, brought out and hanged before their eyes; still, do
nothing. You'll find it your best policy, I have no doubt.'

'Come on!' cried Hugh, striding towards the door. 'Dennis--
Barnaby--come on!'

'Where? To do what?' said Gashford, slipping past him, and
standing with his back against it.

'Anywhere! Anything!' cried Hugh. 'Stand aside, master, or the
window will serve our turn as well. Let us out!'

'Ha ha ha! You are of such--of such an impetuous nature,' said
Gashford, changing his manner for one of the utmost good fellowship
and the pleasantest raillery; 'you are such an excitable creature-but
you'll drink with me before you go?'


'Oh, yes--certainly,' growled Dennis, drawing his sleeve across his
thirsty lips. 'No malice, brother. Drink with Muster Gashford!'

Hugh wiped his heated brow, and relaxed into a smile. The artful
secretary laughed outright.

'Some liquor here! Be quick, or he'll not stop, even for that. He
is a man of such desperate ardour!' said the smooth secretary, whom
Mr Dennis corroborated with sundry nods and muttered oaths--'Once
roused, he is a fellow of such fierce determination!'

Hugh poised his sturdy arm aloft, and clapping Barnaby on the back,
bade him fear nothing. They shook hands together--poor Barnaby
evidently possessed with the idea that he was among the most
virtuous and disinterested heroes in the world--and Gashford
laughed again.

'I hear,' he said smoothly, as he stood among them with a great
measure of liquor in his hand, and filled their glasses as quickly
and as often as they chose, 'I hear--but I cannot say whether it be
true or false--that the men who are loitering in the streets to-
night are half disposed to pull down a Romish chapel or two, and
that they only want leaders. I even heard mention of those in Duke
Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and in Warwick Street, Golden
Square; but common report, you know--You are not going?'

--'To do nothing, rnaster, eh?' cried Hugh. 'No jails and halter
for Barnaby and me. They must be frightened out of that. Leaders
are wanted, are they? Now boys!'

'A most impetuous fellow!' cried the secretary. 'Ha ha! A
courageous, boisterous, most vehement fellow! A man who--'

There was no need to finish the sentence, for they had rushed out
of the house, and were far beyond hearing. He stopped in the
middle of a laugh, listened, drew on his gloves, and, clasping his
hands behind him, paced the deserted room for a long time, then
bent his steps towards the busy town, and walked into the streets.

They were filled with people, for the rumour of that day's
proceedings had made a great noise. Those persons who did not care
to leave home, were at their doors or windows, and one topic of
discourse prevailed on every side. Some reported that the riots
were effectually put down; others that they had broken out again:
some said that Lord George Gordon had been sent under a strong
guard to the Tower; others that an attempt had been made upon the
King's life, that the soldiers had been again called out, and that
the noise of musketry in a distant part of the town had been
plainly heard within an hour. As it grew darker, these stories
became more direful and mysterious; and often, when some
frightened passenger ran past with tidings that the rioters were
not far off, and were coming up, the doors were shut and barred,
lower windows made secure, and as much consternation engendered, as
if the city were invaded by a foreign army.

Gashford walked stealthily about, listening to all he heard, and
diffusing or confirming, whenever he had an opportunity, such false
intelligence as suited his own purpose; and, busily occupied in
this way, turned into Holborn for the twentieth time, when a great
many women and children came flying along the street--often panting
and looking back--and the confused murmur of numerous voices struck
upon his ear. Assured by these tokens, and by the red light which
began to flash upon the houses on either side, that some of his
friends were indeed approaching, he begged a moment's shelter at a


door which opened as he passed, and running with some other
persons to an upper window, looked out upon the crowd.

They had torches among them, and the chief faces were distinctly
visible. That they had been engaged in the destruction of some
building was sufficiently apparent, and that it was a Catholic
place of worship was evident from the spoils they bore as trophies,
which were easily recognisable for the vestments of priests, and
rich fragments of altar furniture. Covered with soot, and dirt,
and dust, and lime; their garments torn to rags; their hair hanging
wildly about them; their hands and faces jagged and bleeding with
the wounds of rusty nails; Barnaby, Hugh, and Dennis hurried on
before them all, like hideous madmen. After them, the dense throng
came fighting on: some singing; some shouting in triumph; some
quarrelling among themselves; some menacing the spectators as they
passed; some with great wooden fragments, on which they spent their
rage as if they had been alive, rending them limb from limb, and
hurling the scattered morsels high into the air; some in a drunken
state, unconscious of the hurts they had received from falling
bricks, and stones, and beams; one borne upon a shutter, in the
very midst, covered with a dingy cloth, a senseless, ghastly heap.
Thus--a vision of coarse faces, with here and there a blot of
flaring, smoky light; a dream of demon heads and savage eyes, and
sticks and iron bars uplifted in the air, and whirled about; a
bewildering horror, in which so much was seen, and yet so little,
which seemed so long, and yet so short, in which there were so many
phantoms, not to be forgotten all through life, and yet so many
things that could not be observed in one distracting glimpse--it
flitted onward, and was gone.

As it passed away upon its work of wrath and ruin, a piercing
scream was heard. A knot of persons ran towards the spot;
Gashford, who just then emerged into the street, among them. He
was on the outskirts of the little concourse, and could not see or
hear what passed within; but one who had a better place, informed
him that a widow woman had descried her son among the rioters.

'Is that all?' said the secretary, turning his face homewards.
'Well! I think this looks a little more like business!'

Chapter 51

Promising as these outrages were to Gashford's view, and much like
business as they looked, they extended that night no farther. The
soldiers were again called out, again they took half-a-dozen
prisoners, and again the crowd dispersed after a short and
bloodless scuffle. Hot and drunken though they were, they had not
yet broken all bounds and set all law and government at defiance.
Something of their habitual deference to the authority erected by
society for its own preservation yet remained among them, and had
its majesty been vindicated in time, the secretary would have had
to digest a bitter disappointment.

By midnight, the streets were clear and quiet, and, save that there
stood in two parts of the town a heap of nodding walls and pile of
rubbish, where there had been at sunset a rich and handsome
building, everything wore its usual aspect. Even the Catholic
gentry and tradesmen, of whom there were many resident in different
parts of the City and its suburbs, had no fear for their lives or
property, and but little indignation for the wrong they had already
sustained in the plunder and destruction of their temples of


worship. An honest confidence in the government under whose
protection they had lived for many years, and a well-founded
reliance on the good feeling and right thinking of the great mass
of the community, with whom, notwithstanding their religious
differences, they were every day in habits of confidential,
affectionate, and friendly intercourse, reassured them, even under
the excesses that had been committed; and convinced them that they
who were Protestants in anything but the name, were no more to be
considered as abettors of these disgraceful occurrences, than they
themselves were chargeable with the uses of the block, the rack,
the gibbet, and the stake in cruel Mary's reign.

The clock was on the stroke of one, when Gabriel Varden, with his
lady and Miss Miggs, sat waiting in the little parlour. This fact;
the toppling wicks of the dull, wasted candles; the silence that
prevailed; and, above all, the nightcaps of both maid and matron,
were sufficient evidence that they had been prepared for bed some
time ago, and had some reason for sitting up so far beyond their
usual hour.

If any other corroborative testimony had been required, it would
have been abundantly furnished in the actions of Miss Miggs, who,
having arrived at that restless state and sensitive condition of
the nervous system which are the result of long watching, did, by a
constant rubbing and tweaking of her nose, a perpetual change of
position (arising from the sudden growth of imaginary knots and
knobs in her chair), a frequent friction of her eyebrows, the
incessant recurrence of a small cough, a small groan, a gasp, a
sigh, a sniff, a spasmodic start, and by other demonstrations of
that nature, so file down and rasp, as it were, the patience of the
locksmith, that after looking at her in silence for some time, he
at last broke out into this apostrophe:-


'Miggs, my good girl, go to bed--do go to bed. You're really worse
than the dripping of a hundred water-butts outside the window, or
the scratching of as many mice behind the wainscot. I can't bear
it. Do go to bed, Miggs. To oblige me--do.'

'You haven't got nothing to untie, sir,' returned Miss Miggs, 'and
therefore your requests does not surprise me. But missis has--and
while you sit up, mim'--she added, turning to the locksmith's wife,
'I couldn't, no, not if twenty times the quantity of cold water was
aperiently running down my back at this moment, go to bed with a
quiet spirit.'

Having spoken these words, Miss Miggs made divers efforts to rub
her shoulders in an impossible place, and shivered from head to
foot; thereby giving the beholders to understand that the imaginary
cascade was still in full flow, but that a sense of duty upheld her
under that and all other sufferings, and nerved her to endurance.

Mrs Varden being too sleepy to speak, and Miss Miggs having, as the
phrase is, said her say, the locksmith had nothing for it but to
sigh and be as quiet as he could.

But to be quiet with such a basilisk before him was impossible.
If he looked another way, it was worse to feel that she was rubbing
her cheek, or twitching her ear, or winking her eye, or making all
kinds of extraordinary shapes with her nose, than to see her do it.
If she was for a moment free from any of these complaints, it was
only because of her foot being asleep, or of her arm having got the
fidgets, or of her leg being doubled up with the cramp, or of some
other horrible disorder which racked her whole frame. If she did
enjoy a moment's ease, then with her eyes shut and her mouth wide


open, she would be seen to sit very stiff and upright in her chair;
then to nod a little way forward, and stop with a jerk; then to nod
a little farther forward, and stop with another jerk; then to
recover herself; then to come forward again--lower--lower--lower-by
very slow degrees, until, just as it seemed impossible that she
could preserve her balance for another instant, and the locksmith
was about to call out in an agony, to save her from dashing down
upon her forehead and fracturing her skull, then all of a sudden
and without the smallest notice, she would come upright and rigid
again with her eyes open, and in her countenance an expression of
defiance, sleepy but yet most obstinate, which plainly said, 'I've
never once closed 'em since I looked at you last, and I'll take my
oath of it!'

At length, after the clock had struck two, there was a sound at the
street door, as if somebody had fallen against the knocker by
accident. Miss Miggs immediately jumping up and clapping her
hands, cried with a drowsy mingling of the sacred and profane,
'Ally Looyer, mim! there's Simmuns's knock!'

'Who's there?' said Gabriel.

'Me!' cried the well-known voice of Mr Tappertit. Gabriel opened
the door, and gave him admission.

He did not cut a very insinuating figure, for a man of his stature
suffers in a crowd; and having been active in yesterday morning's
work, his dress was literally crushed from head to foot: his hat
being beaten out of all shape, and his shoes trodden down at heel
like slippers. His coat fluttered in strips about him, the buckles
were torn away both from his knees and feet, half his neckerchief
was gone, and the bosom of his shirt was rent to tatters. Yet
notwithstanding all these personal disadvantages; despite his being
very weak from heat and fatigue; and so begrimed with mud and dust
that he might have been in a case, for anything of the real texture
(either of his skin or apparel) that the eye could discern; he
stalked haughtily into the parlour, and throwing himself into a
chair, and endeavouring to thrust his hands into the pockets of his
small-clothes, which were turned inside out and displayed upon his
legs, like tassels, surveyed the household with a gloomy dignity.

'Simon,' said the locksmith gravely, 'how comes it that you return
home at this time of night, and in this condition? Give me an
assurance that you have not been among the rioters, and I am
satisfied.'

'Sir,' replied Mr Tappertit, with a contemptuous look, 'I wonder at
YOUR assurance in making such demands.'

'You have been drinking,' said the locksmith.

'As a general principle, and in the most offensive sense of the
words, sir,' returned his journeyman with great self-possession,
'I consider you a liar. In that last observation you have
unintentionally--unintentionally, sir,--struck upon the truth.'

'Martha,' said the locksmith, turning to his wife, and shaking his
head sorrowfully, while a smile at the absurd figure beside him
still played upon his open face, 'I trust it may turn out that this
poor lad is not the victim of the knaves and fools we have so often
had words about, and who have done so much harm to-day. If he has
been at Warwick Street or Duke Street to-night--'

'He has been at neither, sir,' cried Mr Tappertit in a loud voice,


which he suddenly dropped into a whisper as he repeated, with eyes
fixed upon the locksmith, 'he has been at neither.'

'I am glad of it, with all my heart,' said the locksmith in a
serious tone; 'for if he had been, and it could be proved against
him, Martha, your Great Association would have been to him the cart
that draws men to the gallows and leaves them hanging in the air.
It would, as sure as we're alive!'

Mrs Varden was too much scared by Simon's altered manner and
appearance, and by the accounts of the rioters which had reached
her ears that night, to offer any retort, or to have recourse to
her usual matrimonial policy. Miss Miggs wrung her hands, and
wept.

'He was not at Duke Street, or at Warwick Street, G. Varden,' said
Simon, sternly; 'but he WAS at Westminster. Perhaps, sir, he
kicked a county member, perhaps, sir, he tapped a lord--you may
stare, sir, I repeat it--blood flowed from noses, and perhaps he
tapped a lord. Who knows? This,' he added, putting his hand into
his waistcoat-pocket, and taking out a large tooth, at the sight of
which both Miggs and Mrs Varden screamed, 'this was a bishop's.
Beware, G. Varden!'

'Now, I would rather,' said the locksmith hastily, 'have paid five
hundred pounds, than had this come to pass. You idiot, do you know
what peril you stand in?'

'I know it, sir,' replied his journeyman, 'and it is my glory. I
was there, everybody saw me there. I was conspicuous, and
prominent. I will abide the consequences.'

The locksmith, really disturbed and agitated, paced to and fro in
silence--glancing at his former 'prentice every now and then--and
at length stopping before him, said:

'Get to bed, and sleep for a couple of hours that you may wake
penitent, and with some of your senses about you. Be sorry for
what you have done, and we will try to save you. If I call him by
five o'clock,' said Varden, turning hurriedly to his wife, and he
washes himself clean and changes his dress, he may get to the Tower
Stairs, and away by the Gravesend tide-boat, before any search is
made for him. From there he can easily get on to Canterbury,
where your cousin will give him work till this storm has blown
over. I am not sure that I do right in screening him from the
punishment he deserves, but he has lived in this house, man and
boy, for a dozen years, and I should be sorry if for this one day's
work he made a miserable end. Lock the front-door, Miggs, and show
no light towards the street when you go upstairs. Quick, Simon!
Get to bed!'

'And do you suppose, sir,' retorted Mr Tappertit, with a thickness
and slowness of speech which contrasted forcibly with the rapidity
and earnestness of his kind-hearted master--'and do you suppose,
sir, that I am base and mean enough to accept your servile
proposition?--Miscreant!'

'Whatever you please, Sim, but get to bed. Every minute is of
consequence. The light here, Miggs!'

'Yes yes, oh do! Go to bed directly,' cried the two women
together.

Mr Tappertit stood upon his feet, and pushing his chair away to


show that he needed no assistance, answered, swaying himself to and
fro, and managing his head as if it had no connection whatever with
his body:

'You spoke of Miggs, sir--Miggs may be smothered!'

'Oh Simmun!' ejaculated that young lady in a faint voice. 'Oh mim!
Oh sir! Oh goodness gracious, what a turn he has give me!'

'This family may ALL be smothered, sir,' returned Mr Tappertit,
after glancing at her with a smile of ineffable disdain, 'excepting
Mrs V. I have come here, sir, for her sake, this night. Mrs
Varden, take this piece of paper. It's a protection, ma'am. You
may need it.'

With these words he held out at arm's length, a dirty, crumpled
scrap of writing. The locksmith took it from him, opened it, and
read as follows:

'All good friends to our cause, I hope will be particular, and do
no injury to the property of any true Protestant. I am well
assured that the proprietor of this house is a staunch and worthy
friend to the cause.

GEORGE GORDON.'

'What's this!' said the locksmith, with an altered face.

'Something that'll do you good service, young feller,' replied his
journeyman, 'as you'll find. Keep that safe, and where you can
lay your hand upon it in an instant. And chalk No Popery" on your
door to-morrow nightand for a week to come--that's all.'

'This is a genuine document' said the locksmith'I knowfor I
have seen the hand before. What threat does it imply? What devil
is abroad?'

'A fiery devil' retorted Sim; 'a flamingfurious devil. Don't
you put yourself in its wayor you're done formy buck. Be
warned in timeG. Varden. Farewell!'

But here the two women threw themselves in his way--especially Miss
Miggswho fell upon him with such fervour that she pinned him
against the wall--and conjured him in moving words not to go forth
till he was sober; to listen to reason; to think of it; to take
some restand then determine.

'I tell you' said Mr Tappertit'that my mind is made up. My
bleeding country calls me and I go! Miggsif you don't get out of
the wayI'll pinch you.'

Miss Miggsstill clinging to the rebelscreamed once
vociferously--but whether in the distraction of her mindor
because of his having executed his threatis uncertain.

'Release me' said Simonstruggling to free himself from her
chastebut spider-like embrace. 'Let me go! I have made
arrangements for you in an altered state of societyand mean to
provide for you comfortably in life--there! Will that satisfy
you?'

'Oh Simmun!' cried Miss Miggs. 'Oh my blessed Simmun! Oh mim!


what are my feelings at this conflicting moment!'

Of a rather turbulent descriptionit would seem; for her nightcap
had been knocked off in the scuffleand she was on her knees upon
the floormaking a strange revelation of blue and yellow curlpapers
straggling locks of hairtags of staylacesand strings of
it's impossible to say what; panting for breathclasping her
handsturning her eyes upwardsshedding abundance of tearsand
exhibiting various other symptoms of the acutest mental suffering.

'I leave' said Simonturning to his masterwith an utter
disregard of Miggs's maidenly affliction'a box of things
upstairs. Do what you like with 'em. I don't want 'em. I'm never
coming back hereany more. Provide yourselfsirwith a
journeyman; I'm my country's journeyman; henceforward that's MY
line of business.'

'Be what you like in two hours' timebut now go up to bed'
returned the locksmithplanting himself in the doorway. 'Do you
hear me? Go to bed!'

'I hear youand defy youVarden' rejoined Simon Tappertit.
'This nightsirI have been in the countryplanning an
expedition which shall fill your bell-hanging soul with wonder and
dismay. The plot demands my utmost energy. Let me pass!'

'I'll knock you down if you come near the door' replied the
locksmith. 'You had better go to bed!'

Simon made no answerbut gathering himself up as straight as he
couldplunged head foremost at his old masterand the two went
driving out into the workshop togetherplying their hands and feet
so briskly that they looked like half-a-dozenwhile Miggs and Mrs
Varden screamed for twelve.

It would have been easy for Varden to knock his old 'prentice down
and bind him hand and foot; but as he was loth to hurt him in his
then defenceless statehe contented himself with parrying his
blows when he couldtaking them in perfect good part when he could
notand keeping between him and the dooruntil a favourable
opportunity should present itself for forcing him to retreat upstairs
and shutting him up in his own room. Butin the goodness
of his hearthe calculated too much upon his adversary's weakness
and forgot that drunken men who have lost the power of walking
steadilycan often run. Watching his timeSimon Tappertit made a
cunning show of falling backstaggered unexpectedly forward
brushed past himopened the door (he knew the trick of that lock
well)and darted down the street like a mad dog. The locksmith
paused for a moment in the excess of his astonishmentand then
gave chase.

It was an excellent season for a runfor at that silent hour the
streets were desertedthe air was cooland the flying figure
before him distinctly visible at a great distanceas it sped away
with a long gaunt shadow following at its heels. But the shortwinded
locksmith had no chance against a man of Sim's youth and
spare figurethough the day had been when he could have run him
down in no time. The space between them rapidly increasedand as
the rays of the rising sun streamed upon Simon in the act of
turning a distant cornerGabriel Varden was fain to give upand
sit down on a doorstep to fetch his breath. Simon meanwhile
without once stoppingfled at the same degree of swiftness to The
Bootwhereas he well knewsome of his company were lyingand
at which respectable hostelry--for he had already acquired the


distinction of being in great peril of the law--a friendly watch
had been expecting him all nightand was even now on the look-out
for his coming.

'Go thy waysSimgo thy ways' said the locksmithas soon as he
could speak. 'I have done my best for theepoor ladand would
have saved theebut the rope is round thy neckI fear.'

So sayingand shaking his head in a very sorrowful and
disconsolate mannerhe turned backand soon re-entered his own
housewhere Mrs Varden and the faithful Miggs had been anxiously
expecting his return.

Now Mrs Varden (and by consequence Miss Miggs likewise) was
impressed with a secret misgiving that she had done wrong; that she
hadto the utmost of her small meansaided and abetted the growth
of disturbancesthe end of which it was impossible to foresee;
that she had led remotely to the scene which had just passed; and
that the locksmith's time for triumph and reproach had now arrived
indeed. And so strongly did Mrs Varden feel thisand so
crestfallen was she in consequencethat while her husband was
pursuing their lost journeymanshe secreted under her chair the
little red-brick dwelling-house with the yellow rooflest it
should furnish new occasion for reference to the painful theme; and
now hid the same still morewith the skirts of her dress.

But it happened that the locksmith had been thinking of this very
article on his way homeand thatcoming into the room and not
seeing ithe at once demanded where it was.

Mrs Varden had no resource but to produce itwhich she did with
many tearsand broken protestations that if she could have known-


'Yesyes' said Varden'of course--I know that. I don't mean to
reproach youmy dear. But recollect from this time that all good
things perverted to evil purposesare worse than those which are
naturally bad. A thoroughly wicked womanis wicked indeed. When
religion goes wrongshe is very wrongfor the same reason. Let
us say no more about itmy dear.'

So he dropped the red-brick dwelling-house on the floorand
setting his heel upon itcrushed it into pieces. The halfpence
and sixpencesand other voluntary contributionsrolled about in
all directionsbut nobody offered to touch themor to take them
up.

'That' said the locksmith'is easily disposed ofand I would to
Heaven that everything growing out of the same society could be
settled as easily.'

'It happens very fortunatelyVarden' said his wifewith her
handkerchief to her eyes'that in case any more disturbances
should happen--which I hope not; I sincerely hope not--'

'I hope so toomy dear.'

'--That in case any should occurwe have the piece of paper which
that poor misguided young man brought.'

'Ayto be sure' said the locksmithturning quickly round.
'Where is that piece of paper?'

Mrs Varden stood aghast as he took it from her outstretched band
tore it into fragmentsand threw them under the grate.


'Not use it?' she said.

'Use it!' cried the locksmith. No! Let them come and pull the
roof about our ears; let them burn us out of house and home; I'd
neither have the protection of their leadernor chalk their howl
upon my doorthoughfor not doing itthey shot me on my own
threshold. Use it! Let them come and do their worst. The first
man who crosses my doorstep on such an errand as theirshad better
be a hundred miles away. Let him look to it. The others may have
their will. I wouldn't beg or buy them offifinstead of every
pound of iron in the placethere was a hundred weight of gold.
Get you to bedMartha. I shall take down the shutters and go to
work.'

'So early!' said his wife.

'Ay' replied the locksmith cheerily'so early. Come when they
maythey shall not find us skulking and hidingas if we feared to
take our portion of the light of dayand left it all to them. So
pleasant dreams to youmy dearand cheerful sleep!'

With that he gave his wife a hearty kissand bade her delay no
longeror it would be time to rise before she lay down to rest.
Mrs Varden quite amiably and meekly walked upstairsfollowed by
Miggswhoalthough a good deal subduedcould not refrain from
sundry stimulative coughs and sniffs by the wayor from holding up
her hands in astonishment at the daring conduct of master.

Chapter 52

A mob is usually a creature of very mysterious existence
particularly in a large city. Where it comes from or whither it
goesfew men can tell. Assembling and dispersing with equal
suddennessit is as difficult to follow to its various sources as
the sea itself; nor does the parallel stop herefor the ocean is
not more fickle and uncertainmore terrible when rousedmore
unreasonableor more cruel.

The people who were boisterous at Westminster upon the Friday
morningand were eagerly bent upon the work of devastation in Duke
Street and Warwick Street at nightwerein the massthe same.
Allowing for the chance accessions of which any crowd is morally
sure in a town where there must always be a large number of idle
and profligate personsone and the same mob was at both places.
Yet they spread themselves in various directions when they
dispersed in the afternoonmade no appointment for reassembling
had no definite purpose or designand indeedfor anything they
knewwere scattered beyond the hope of future union.

At The Bootwhichas has been shownwas in a manner the headquarters
of the riotersthere were notupon this Friday nighta
dozen people. Some slept in the stable and outhousessome in the
common roomsome two or three in beds. The rest were in their
usual homes or haunts. Perhaps not a score in all lay in the
adjacent fields and lanesand under haystacksor near the warmth
of brick-kilnswho had not their accustomed place of rest beneath
the open sky. As to the public ways within the townthey had
their ordinary nightly occupantsand no others; the usual amount
of vice and wretchednessbut no more.


The experience of one eveninghoweverhad taught the reckless
leaders of disturbancethat they had but to show themselves in the
streetsto be immediately surrounded by materials which they could
only have kept together when their aid was not requiredat great
riskexpenseand trouble. Once possessed of this secretthey
were as confident as if twenty thousand mendevoted to their will
had been encamped about themand assumed a confidence which could
not have been surpassedthough that had really been the case. All
daySaturdaythey remained quiet. On Sundaythey rather studied
how to keep their men within calland in full hopethan to follow
outby any fierce measuretheir first day's proceedings.

'I hope' said Dennisaswith a loud yawnhe raised his body
from a heap of straw on which he had been sleepingand supporting
his head upon his handappealed to Hugh on Sunday morning'that
Muster Gashford allows some rest? Perhaps he'd have us at work
again alreadyeh?'

'It's not his way to let matters dropyou may be sure of that'
growled Hugh in answer. 'I'm in no humour to stir yetthough.
I'm as stiff as a dead bodyand as full of ugly scratches as if I
had been fighting all day yesterday with wild cats.'

'You've so much enthusiasmthat's it' said Dennislooking with
great admiration at the uncombed headmatted beardand torn hands
and face of the wild figure before him; 'you're such a devil of a
fellow. You hurt yourself a hundred times more than you need
because you will be foremost in everythingand will do more than
the rest.'

'For the matter of that' returned Hughshaking back his ragged
hair and glancing towards the door of the stable in which they lay;
'there's one yonder as good as me. What did I tell you about him?
Did I say he was worth a dozenwhen you doubted him?'

Mr Dennis rolled lazily over upon his breastand resting his chin
upon his hand in imitation of the attitude in which Hugh laysaid
as he too looked towards the door:

'Ayayyou knew himbrotheryou knew him. But who'd suppose to
look at that chap nowthat he could be the man he is! Isn't it a
thousand cruel pitiesbrotherthat instead of taking his nat'ral
rest and qualifying himself for further exertions in this here
honourable causehe should be playing at soldiers like a boy? And
his cleanliness too!' said Mr Denniswho certainly had no reason
to entertain a fellow feeling with anybody who was particular on
that score; 'what weaknesses he's guilty of; with respect to his
cleanliness! At five o'clock this morningthere he was at the
pumpthough any one would think he had gone through enoughthe
day before yesterdayto be pretty fast asleep at that time. But
no--when I woke for a minute or twothere he was at the pumpand
if you'd seen him sticking them peacock's feathers into his hat
when he'd done washing--ah! I'm sorry he's such a imperfect
characterbut the best on us is incomplete in some pint of view or
another.'

The subject of this dialogue and of these concluding remarkswhich
were uttered in a tone of philosophical meditationwasas the
reader will have divinedno other than Barnabywhowith his flag
in handstood sentry in the little patch of sunlight at the
distant dooror walked to and fro outsidesinging softly to
himself; and keeping time to the music of some clear church bells.
Whether he stood stillleaning with both hands on the flagstaff
orbearing it upon his shoulderpaced slowly up and downthe


careful arrangement of his poor dressand his erect and lofty
bearingshowed how high a sense he had of the great importance of
his trustand how happy and how proud it made him. To Hugh and
his companionwho lay in a dark corner of the gloomy shedheand
the sunlightand the peaceful Sabbath sound to which he made
responseseemed like a bright picture framed by the doorand set
off by the stable's blackness. The whole formed such a contrast to
themselvesas they lay wallowinglike some obscene animalsin
their squalor and wickedness on the two heaps of strawthat for a
few moments they looked on without speakingand felt almost
ashamed.

'Ah!'said Hugh at lengthcarrying it off with a laugh: 'He's a
rare fellow is Barnabyand can do morewith less restor meat
or drinkthan any of us. As to his soldieringI put him on duty
there.'

'Then there was a object in itand a proper good one tooI'll be
sworn' retorted Dennis with a broad grinand an oath of the same
quality. 'What was itbrother?'

'Whyyou see' said Hughcrawling a little nearer to him'that
our noble captain yondercame in yesterday morning rather the
worse for liquorand was--like you and me--ditto last night.'

Dennis looked to where Simon Tappertit lay coiled upon a truss of
haysnoring profoundlyand nodded.

'And our noble captain' continued Hugh with another laugh'our
noble captain and Ihave planned for to-morrow a roaring
expeditionwith good profit in it.'

'Again the Papists?' asked Dennisrubbing his hands.

'Ayagainst the Papists--against one of 'em at leastthat some of
usand I for oneowe a good heavy grudge to.'

'Not Muster Gashford's friend that he spoke to us about in my
houseeh?' said Dennisbrimfull of pleasant expectation.

'The same man' said Hugh.

'That's your sort' cried Mr Dennisgaily shaking hands with him
'that's the kind of game. Let's have revenges and injuriesand
all thatand we shall get on twice as fast. Now you talk
indeed!'

'Ha ha ha! The captain' added Hugh'has thoughts of carrying off
a woman in the bustleand--ha ha ha!--and so have I!'

Mr Dennis received this part of the scheme with a wry face
observing that as a general principle he objected to women
altogetheras being unsafe and slippery persons on whom there was
no calculating with any certaintyand who were never in the same
mind for four-and-twenty hours at a stretch. He might have
expatiated on this suggestive theme at much greater lengthbut
that it occurred to him to ask what connection existed between the
proposed expedition and Barnaby's being posted at the stable-door
as sentry; to which Hugh cautiously replied in these words:

'Whythe people we mean to visitwere friends of hisonce upon a
timeand I know that much of him to feel pretty sure that if he
thought we were going to do them any harmhe'd be no friend to our
sidebut would lend a ready hand to the other. So I've persuaded


him (for I know him of old) that Lord George has picked him out to
guard this place to-morrow while we're awayand that it's a great
honour--and so he's on duty nowand as proud of it as if he was a
general. Ha ha! What do you say to me for a careful man as well
as a devil of a one?'

Mr Dennis exhausted himself in complimentsand then added

'But about the expedition itself--'

'About that' said Hugh'you shall hear all particulars from me
and the great captain conjointly and both together--for seehe's
waking up. Rouse yourselflion-heart. Ha ha! Put a good face
upon itand drink again. Another hair of the dog that bit you
captain! Call for drink! There's enough of gold and silver cups
and candlesticks buried underneath my bed' he addedrolling back
the strawand pointing to where the ground was newly turned'to
pay for itif it was a score of casks full. Drinkcaptain!'

Mr Tappertit received these jovial promptings with a very bad
gracebeing much the worseboth in mind and bodyfor his two
nights of debauchand but indifferently able to stand upon his
legs. With Hugh's assistancehoweverhe contrived to stagger to
the pump; and having refreshed himself with an abundant draught of
cold waterand a copious shower of the same refreshing liquid on
his head and facehe ordered some rum and milk to be served; and
upon that innocent beverage and some biscuits and cheese made a
pretty hearty meal. That donehe disposed himself in an easy
attitude on the ground beside his two companions (who were
carousing after their own tastes)and proceeded to enlighten Mr
Dennis in reference to to-morrow's project.

That their conversation was an interesting onewas rendered
manifest by its lengthand by the close attention of all three.
That it was not of an oppressively grave characterbut was
enlivened by various pleasantries arising out of the subjectwas
clear from their loud and frequent roars of laughterwhich
startled Barnaby on his postand made him wonder at their levity.
But he was not summoned to join themuntil they had eatenand
drunkand sleptand talked together for some hours; notindeed
until the twilight; when they informed him that they were about to
make a slight demonstration in the streets--just to keep the
people's hands inas it was Sunday nightand the public might
otherwise be disappointed--and that he was free to accompany them
if he would.

Without the slightest preparationsaving that they carried clubs
and wore the blue cockadethey sallied out into the streets; and
with no more settled design than that of doing as much mischief as
they couldparaded them at random. Their numbers rapidly
increasingthey soon divided into parties; and agreeing to meet
by-and-byin the fields near Welbeck Streetscoured the town in
various directions. The largest bodyand that which augmented
with the greatest rapiditywas the one to which Hugh and Barnaby
belonged. This took its way towards Moorfieldswhere there was a
rich chapeland in which neighbourhood several Catholic families
were known to reside.

Beginning with the private houses so occupiedthey broke open the
doors and windows; and while they destroyed the furniture and left
but the bare wallsmade a sharp search for tools and engines of
destructionsuch as hammerspokersaxessawsand such like
instruments. Many of the rioters made belts of cordof
handkerchiefsor any material they found at handand wore these


weapons as openly as pioneers upon a field-day. There was not the
least disguise or concealment--indeedon this nightvery little
excitement or hurry. From the chapelsthey tore down and took
away the very altarsbenchespulpitspewsand flooring; from
the dwelling-housesthe very wainscoting and stairs. This Sunday
evening's recreation they pursued like mere workmen who had a
certain task to doand did it. Fifty resolute men might have
turned them at any moment; a single company of soldiers could have
scattered them like dust; but no man interposedno authority
restrained themandexcept by the terrified persons who fled from
their approachthey were as little heeded as if they were pursuing
their lawful occupations with the utmost sobriety and good
conduct.

In the same mannerthey marched to the place of rendezvous agreed
uponmade great fires in the fieldsand reserving the most
valuable of their spoilsburnt the rest. Priestly garments
images of saintsrich stuffs and ornamentsaltar-furniture and
household goodswere cast into the flamesand shed a glare on the
whole country round; but they danced and howledand roared about
these fires till they were tiredand were never for an instant
checked.

As the main body filed off from this scene of actionand passed
down Welbeck Streetthey came upon Gashfordwho had been a
witness of their proceedingsand was walking stealthily along the
pavement. Keeping up with himand yet not seeming to speakHugh
muttered in his ear:

'Is this bettermaster?'

'No' said Gashford. 'It is not.'

'What would you have?' said Hugh. 'Fevers are never at their
height at once. They must get on by degrees.'

'I would have you' said Gashfordpinching his arm with such
malevolence that his nails seemed to meet in the skin; 'I would
have you put some meaning into your work. Fools! Can you make no
better bonfires than of rags and scraps? Can you burn nothing
whole?'

'A little patiencemaster' said Hugh. 'Wait but a few hoursand
you shall see. Look for a redness in the skyto-morrow night.'

With thathe fell back into his place beside Barnaby; and when the
secretary looked after himboth were lost in the crowd.

Chapter 53

The next day was ushered in by merry peals of bellsand by the
firing of the Tower guns; flags were hoisted on many of the churchsteeples;
the usual demonstrations were made in honour of the
anniversary of the King's birthday; and every man went about his
pleasure or business as if the city were in perfect orderand
there were no half-smouldering embers in its secret placeswhich
on the approach of nightwould kindle up again and scatter ruin
and dismay abroad. The leaders of the riotrendered still more
daring by the success of last night and by the booty they had
acquiredkept steadily togetherand only thought of implicating
the mass of their followers so deeply that no hope of pardon or


reward might tempt them to betray their more notorious confederates
into the hands of justice.

Indeedthe sense of having gone too far to be forgivenheld the
timid together no less than the bold. Many who would readily have
pointed out the foremost rioters and given evidence against them
felt that escape by that means was hopelesswhen their every act
had been observed by scores of people who had taken no part in the
disturbances; who had suffered in their personspeaceor
propertyby the outrages of the mob; who would be most willing
witnesses; and whom the government wouldno doubtprefer to any
King's evidence that might be offered. Many of this class had
deserted their usual occupations on the Saturday morning; some had
been seen by their employers active in the tumult; others knew they
must be suspectedand that they would be discharged if they
returned; others had been desperate from the beginningand
comforted themselves with the homely proverbthatbeing hanged at
allthey might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. They all
hoped and believedin a greater or less degreethat the
government they seemed to have paralysedwouldin its terror
come to terms with them in the endand suffer them to make their
own conditions. The least sanguine among them reasoned with
himself thatat the worstthey were too many to be all punished
and that he had as good a chance of escape as any other man. The
great mass never reasoned or thought at allbut were stimulated by
their own headlong passionsby povertyby ignoranceby the love
of mischiefand the hope of plunder.

One other circumstance is worthy of remark; and that isthat from
the moment of their first outbreak at Westminsterevery symptom of
order or preconcerted arrangement among them vanished. When they
divided into parties and ran to different quarters of the townit
was on the spontaneous suggestion of the moment. Each party
swelled as it went alonglike rivers as they roll towards the sea;
new leaders sprang up as they were wanteddisappeared when the
necessity was overand reappeared at the next crisis. Each tumult
took shape and form from the circumstances of the moment; sober
workmengoing home from their day's labourwere seen to cast down
their baskets of tools and become rioters in an instant; mere boys
on errands did the like. In a worda moral plague ran through the
city. The noiseand hurryand excitementhad for hundreds and
hundreds an attraction they had no firmness to resist. The
contagion spread like a dread fever: an infectious madnessas yet
not near its heightseized on new victims every hourand society
began to tremble at their ravings.

It was between two and three o'clock in the afternoon when
Gashford looked into the lair described in the last chapterand
seeing only Barnaby and Dennis thereinquired for Hugh.

He was outBarnaby told him; had gone out more than an hour ago;
and had not yet returned.

'Dennis!' said the smiling secretaryin his smoothest voiceas he
sat down cross-legged on a barrel'Dennis!'

The hangman struggled into a sitting posture directlyand with his
eyes wide openlooked towards him.

'How do you doDennis?' said Gashfordnodding. 'I hope you have
suffered no inconvenience from your late exertionsDennis?'

'I always will say of youMuster Gashford' returned the hangman
staring at him'that that 'ere quiet way of yours might almost


wake a dead man. It is' he addedwith a muttered oath--still
staring at him in a thoughtful manner--'so awful sly!'

'So distincteh Dennis?'

'Distinct!' he answeredscratching his headand keeping his eyes
upon the secretary's face; 'I seem to hear itMuster Gashfordin
my wery bones.'

'I am very glad your sense of hearing is so sharpand that I
succeed in making myself so intelligible' said Gashfordin his
unvaryingeven tone. 'Where is your friend?'

Mr Dennis looked round as in expectation of beholding him asleep
upon his bed of straw; then remembering he had seen him go out
replied:

'I can't say where he isMuster GashfordI expected him back
afore now. I hope it isn't time that we was busyMuster
Gashford?'

'Nay' said the secretary'who should know that as well as you?
How can I tell youDennis? You are perfect master of your own
actionsyou knowand accountable to nobody--except sometimes to
the laweh?'

Denniswho was very much baffled by the cool matter-of-course
manner of this replyrecovered his self-possession on his
professional pursuits being referred toand pointing towards
Barnabyshook his head and frowned.

'Hush!' cried Barnaby.

'Ah! Do hush about thatMuster Gashford' said the hangman in a
low voice'pop'lar prejudices--you always forget--wellBarnaby
my ladwhat's the matter?'

'I hear him coming' he answered: 'Hark! Do you mark that? That's
his foot! Bless youI know his stepand his dog's too. Tramp
tramppit-paton they come togetherandha ha ha!--and here
they are!' he criedjoyfully welcoming Hugh with both handsand
then patting him fondly on the backas if instead of being the
rough companion he washe had been one of the most prepossessing
of men. 'Here he isand safe too! I am glad to see him back
againold Hugh!'

'I'm a Turk if he don't give me a warmer welcome always than any
man of sense' said Hughshaking hands with him with a kind of
ferocious friendshipstrange enough to see. 'How are youboy?'

'Hearty!' cried Barnabywaving his hat. 'Ha ha ha! And merrry
tooHugh! And ready to do anything for the good causeand the
rightand to help the kindmildpale-faced gentleman--the lord
they used so ill--ehHugh?'

'Ay!' returned his frienddropping his handand looking at
Gashford for an instant with a changed expression before he spoke
to him. 'Good daymaster!'

'And good day to you' replied the secretarynursing his leg.

'And many good days--whole years of themI hope. You are heated.'

'So would you have beenmaster' said Hughwiping his face'if


you'd been running here as fast as I have.'

'You know the newsthen? YesI supposed you would have heard it.'

'News! what news?'

'You don't?' cried Gashfordraising his eyebrows with an
exclamation of surprise. 'Dear me! Come; then I AM the first to
make you acquainted with your distinguished positionafter all.
Do you see the King's Arms a-top?' he smilingly askedas he took a
large paper from his pocketunfolded itand held it out for
Hugh's inspection.

'Well!' said Hugh. 'What's that to me?'

'Much. A great deal' replied the secretary. 'Read it.'

'I told youthe first time I saw youthat I couldn't read' said
Hughimpatiently. 'What in the Devil's name's inside of it?'

'It is a proclamation from the King in Council' said Gashford
'dated to-dayand offering a reward of five hundred pounds--five
hundred pounds is a great deal of moneyand a large temptation to
some people--to any one who will discover the person or persons
most active in demolishing those chapels on Saturday night.'

'Is that all?' cried Hughwith an indifferent air. 'I knew of
that.'

'Truly I might have known you did' said Gashfordsmilingand
folding up the document again. 'Your friendI might have guessed-indeed
I did guess--was sure to tell you.'

'My friend!' stammered Hughwith an unsuccessful effort to appear
surprised. 'What friend?'

'Tut tut--do you suppose I don't know where you have been?'
retorted Gashfordrubbing his handsand beating the back of one
on the palm of the otherand looking at him with a cunning eye.
'How dull you think me! Shall I say his name?'

'No' said Hughwith a hasty glance towards Dennis.

'You have also heard from himno doubt' resumed the secretary
after a moment's pause'that the rioters who have been taken (poor
fellows) are committed for trialand that some very active
witnesses have had the temerity to appear against them. Among
others--' and here he clenched his teethas if he would suppress
by force some violent words that rose upon his tongue; and spoke
very slowly. 'Among othersa gentleman who saw the work going on
in Warwick Street; a Catholic gentleman; one Haredale.'

Hugh would have prevented his uttering the wordbut it was out
already. Hearing the nameBarnaby turned swiftly round.

'Dutydutybold Barnaby!' cried Hughassuming his wildest and
most rapid mannerand thrusting into his hand his staff and flag
which leant against the wall. 'Mount guard without loss of time
for we are off upon our expedition. UpDennisand get ready!
Take care that no one turns the straw upon my bedbrave Barnaby;
we know what's underneath it--eh? Nowmasterquick! What you
have to saysay speedilyfor the little captain and a cluster of
'em are in the fieldsand only waiting for us. Sharp's the word
and strike's the action. Quick!'


Barnaby was not proof against this bustle and despatch. The look
of mingled astonishtnent and anger which had appeared in his face
when he turned towards themfaded from it as the words passed from
his memorylike breath from a polished mirror; and grasping the
weapon which Hugh forced upon himhe proudly took his station at
the doorbeyond their hearing.

'You might have spoiled our plansmaster' said Hugh. 'YOUtoo
of all men!'

'Who would have supposed that HE would be so quick?' urged
Gashford.

'He's as quick sometimes--I don't mean with his handsfor that you
knowbut with his head--as you or any man' said Hugh. 'Dennis
it's time we were going; they're waiting for us; I came to tell
you. Reach me my stick and belt. Here! Lend a handmaster.
Fling this over my shoulderand buckle it behindwill you?'

'Brisk as ever!' said the secretaryadjusting it for him as he
desired.

'A man need be brisk to-day; there's brisk work a-foot.'

'There isis there?' said Gashford. He said it with such a
provoking assumption of ignorancethat Hughlooking over his
shoulder and angrily down upon himreplied:

'Is there! You know there is! Who knows better than youmaster
that the first great step to be taken is to make examples of these
witnessesand frighten all men from appearing against us or any of
our bodyany more?'

'There's one we know of' returned Gashfordwith an expressive
smile'who is at least as well informed upon that subject as you
or I.'

'If we mean the same gentlemanas I suppose we do' Hugh rejoined
softly'I tell you this--he's as good and quick information about
everything as--' here he paused and looked roundas if to make
sure that the person in question was not within hearing'as Old
Nick himself. Have you done thatmaster? How slow you are!'

'It's quite fast now' said Gashfordrising. 'I say--you didn't
find that your friend disapproved of to-day's little expedition?
Ha ha ha! It is fortunate it jumps so well with the witness
policy; foronce plannedit must have been carried out. And now
you are goingeh?'

'Now we are goingmaster!' Hugh replied. 'Any parting words?'

'Oh dearno' said Gashford sweetly. 'None!'

'You're sure?' cried Hughnudging the grinning Dennis.

'Quite sureehMuster Gashford?' chuckled the hangman.

Gashford paused a momentstruggling with his caution and his
malice; then putting himself between the two menand laying a hand
upon the arm of eachsaidin a cramped whisper:

'Do notmy good friends--I am sure you will not--forget our talk
one night--in your houseDennis--about this person. No mercyno


quarterno two beams of his house to be left standing where the
builder placed them! Firethe saying goesis a good servantbut
a bad master. Makes it HIS master; he deserves no better. But I
am sure you will be firmI am sure you will be very resoluteI am
sure you will remember that he thirsts for your livesand those of
all your brave companions. If you ever acted like staunch
fellowsyou will do so to-day. Won't youDennis--won't you
Hugh?'

The two looked at himand at each other; then bursting into a roar
of laughterbrandished their staves above their headsshook
handsand hurried out.

When they had been gone a little timeGashford followed. They
were yet in sightand hastening to that part of the adjacent
fields in which their fellows had already mustered; Hugh was
looking backand flourishing his hat to Barnabywhodelighted
with his trustreplied in the same wayand then resumed his
pacing up and down before the stable-doorwhere his feet had worn
a path already. And when Gashford himself was far distantand
looked back for the last timehe was still walking to and fro
with the same measured tread; the most devoted and the blithest
champion that ever maintained a postand felt his heart lifted up
with a brave sense of dutyand determination to defend it to the
last.

Smiling at the simplicity of the poor idiotGashford betook
himself to Welbeck Street by a different path from that which he
knew the rioters would takeand sitting down behind a curtain in
one of the upper windows of Lord George Gordon's housewaited
impatiently for their coming. They were so longthat although he
knew it had been settled they should come that wayhe had a
misgiving they must have changed their plans and taken some other
route. But at length the roar of voices was heard in the
neighbouring fieldsand soon afterwards they came thronging past
in a great body.

Howeverthey were not allnor nearly allin one bodybut were
as he soon founddivided into four partieseach of which stopped
before the house to give three cheersand then went on; the
leaders crying out in what direction they were goingand calling
on the spectators to join them. The first detachmentcarryingby
way of bannerssome relics of the havoc they had made in
Moorfieldsproclaimed that they were on their way to Chelsea
whence they would return in the same orderto make of the spoil
they borea great bonfirenear at hand. The second gave out that
they were bound for Wappingto destroy a chapel; the thirdthat
their place of destination was East Smithfieldand their object
the same. All this was done in broadbrightsummer day. Gay
carriages and chairs stopped to let them passor turned back to
avoid them; people on foot stood aside in doorwaysor perhaps
knocked and begged permission to stand at a windowor in the hall
until the rioters had passed: but nobody interfered with them; and
when they had gone byeverything went on as usual.

There still remained the fourth bodyand for that the secretary
looked with a most intense eagerness. At last it came up. It was
numerousand composed of picked men; for as he gazed down among
themhe recognised many upturned faces which he knew well--those
of Simon TappertitHughand Dennis in the frontof course. They
halted and cheeredas the others had done; but when they moved
againthey did notlike themproclaim what design they had.
Hugh merely raised his hat upon the bludgeon he carriedand
glancing at a spectator on the opposite side of the waywas gone.


Gashford followed the direction of his glance instinctivelyand
sawstanding on the pavementand wearing the blue cockadeSir
John Chester. He held his hat an inch or two above his headto
propitiate the mob; andresting gracefully on his canesmiling
pleasantlyand displaying his dress and person to the very best
advantagelooked on in the most tranquil state imaginable. For
all thatand quick and dexterous as he wasGashford had seen him
recognise Hugh with the air of a patron. He had no longer any eyes
for the crowdbut fixed his keen regards upon Sir John.

He stood in the same place and posture until the last man in the
concourse had turned the corner of the street; then very
deliberately took the blue cockade out of his hat; put it carefully
in his pocketready for the next emergency; refreshed himself with
a pinch of snuff; put up his box; and was walking slowly offwhen
a passing carriage stoppedand a lady's hand let down the glass.
Sir John's hat was off again immediately. After a minute's
conversation at the carriage-windowin which it was apparent that
he was vastly entertaining on the subject of the mobhe stepped
lightly inand was driven away.

The secretary smiledbut he had other thoughts to dwell uponand
soon dismissed the topic. Dinner was brought himbut he sent it
down untasted; andin restless pacings up and down the roomand
constant glances at the clockand many futile efforts to sit down
and reador go to sleepor look out of the windowconsumed four
weary hours. When the dial told him thus much time had crept away
he stole upstairs to the top of the houseand coming out upon the
roof sat downwith his face towards the east.

Heedless of the fresh air that blew upon his heated browof the
pleasant meadows from which he turnedof the piles of roofs and
chimneys upon which he lookedof the smoke and rising mist he
vainly sought to pierceof the shrill cries of children at their
evening sportsthe distant hum and turmoil of the townthe
cheerful country breath that rustled past to meet itand to droop
and die; he watchedand watchedtill it was dark save for the
specks of light that twinkled in the streets below and far away-and
as the darkness deepenedstrained his gaze and grew more
eager yet.

'Nothing but gloom in that directionstill!' he muttered
restlessly. 'Dog! where is the redness in the skyyou promised
me!'

Chapter 54

Rumours of the prevailing disturbances hadby this timebegun to
be pretty generally circulated through the towns and villages round
Londonand the tidings were everywhere received with that appetite
for the marvellous and love of the terrible which have probably
been among the natural characteristics of mankind since the
creation of the world. These accountshoweverappearedto many
persons at that day--as they would to us at the presentbut that
we know them to be matter of history--so monstrous and improbable
that a great number of those who were resident at a distanceand
who were credulous enough on other pointswere really unable to
bring their minds to believe that such things could be; and
rejected the intelligence they received on all handsas wholly
fabulous and absurd.


Mr Willet--not so muchperhapson account of his having argued
and settled the matter with himselfas by reason of his
constitutional obstinacy--was one of those who positively refused
to entertain the current topic for a moment. On this very evening
and perhaps at the very time when Gashford kept his solitary watch
old John was so red in the face with perpetually shaking his head
in contradiction of his three ancient cronies and pot companions
that he was quite a phenomenon to beholdand lighted up the
Maypole Porch wherein they sat togetherlike a monstrous carbuncle
in a fairy tale.

'Do you thinksir' said Mr Willetlooking hard at Solomon
Daisy--for it was his custom in cases of personal altercation to
fasten upon the smallest man in the party--'do you thinksirthat
I'm a born fool?'

'NonoJohnny' returned Solomonlooking round upon the little
circle of which he formed a part: 'We all know better than that.
You're no foolJohnny. Nono!'

Mr Cobb and Mr Parkes shook their heads in unisonmuttering'No
noJohnnynot you!' But as such compliments had usually the
effect of making Mr Willet rather more dogged than beforehe
surveyed them with a look of deep disdainand returned for answer:

'Then what do you mean by coming hereand telling me that this
evening you're a-going to walk up to London together--you three-you--
and have the evidence of your own senses? An't' said Mr
Willetputting his pipe in his mouth with an air of solemn
disgust'an't the evidence of MY senses enough for you?'

'But we haven't got itJohnny' pleaded Parkeshumbly.

'You haven't got itsir?' repeated Mr Willeteyeing him from top
to toe. 'You haven't got itsir? You HAVE got itsir. Don't I
tell you that His blessed Majesty King George the Third would no
more stand a rioting and rollicking in his streetsthan he'd stand
being crowed over by his own Parliament?'

'YesJohnnybut that's your sense--not your senses' said the
adventurous Mr Parkes.

'How do you know? 'retorted John with great dignity. 'You're a
contradicting pretty freeyou aresir. How do YOU know which it
is? I'm not aware I ever told yousir.'

Mr Parkesfinding himself in the position of having got into
metaphysics without exactly seeing his way out of themstammered
forth an apology and retreated from the argument. There then
ensued a silence of some ten minutes or a quarter of an hourat
the expiration of which period Mr Willet was observed to rumble and
shake with laughterand presently remarkedin reference to his
late adversary'that he hoped he had tackled him enough.'
Thereupon Messrs Cobb and Daisy laughedand noddedand Parkes was
looked upon as thoroughly and effectually put down.

'Do you suppose if all this was truethat Mr Haredale would be
constantly away from homeas he is?' said Johnafter another
silence. 'Do you think he wouldn't be afraid to leave his house
with them two young women in itand only a couple of menor so?'

'Aybut then you know' returned Solomon Daisy'his house is a
goodish way out of Londonand they do say that the rioters won't


go more than two milesor three at the farthestoff the stones.
Besidesyou knowsome of the Catholic gentlefolks have actually
sent trinkets and suchlike down here for safety--at leastso the
story goes.'

'The story goes!' said Mr Willet testily. 'Yessir. The story
goes that you saw a ghost last March. But nobody believes it.'

'Well!' said Solomonrisingto divert the attention of his two
friendswho tittered at this retort: 'believed or disbelieved
it's true; and true or notif we mean to go to Londonwe must be
going at once. So shake handsJohnnyand good night.'

'I shall shake hands' returned the landlordputting his into his
pockets'with no man as goes to London on such nonsensical
errands.'

The three cronies were therefore reduced to the necessity of
shaking his elbows; having performed that ceremonyand brought
from the house their hatsand sticksand greatcoatsthey bade
him good night and departed; promising to bring him on the morrow
full and true accounts of the real state of the cityand if it
were quietto give him the full merit of his victory.

John Willet looked after themas they plodded along the road in
the rich glow of a summer evening; and knocking the ashes out of
his pipelaughed inwardly at their follyuntil his sides were
sore. When he had quite exhausted himself--which took some time
for he laughed as slowly as he thought and spoke--he sat himself
comfortably with his back to the houseput his legs upon the
benchthen his apron over his faceand fell sound asleep.

How long he sleptmatters not; but it was for no brief spacefor
when he awokethe rich light had fadedthe sombre hues of night
were falling fast upon the landscapeand a few bright stars were
already twinkling overhead. The birds were all at roostthe
daisies on the green had closed their fairy hoodsthe honeysuckle
twining round the porch exhaled its perfume in a twofold degreeas
though it lost its coyness at that silent time and loved to shed
its fragrance on the night; the ivy scarcely stirred its deep green
leaves. How tranquiland how beautiful it was!

Was there no sound in the airbesides the gentle rustling of the
trees and the grasshopper's merry chirp? Hark! Something very
faint and distantnot unlike the murmuring in a sea-shell. Now it
grew louderfainter nowand now it altogether died away.
Presentlyit came againsubsidedcame once moregrew louder
fainter--swelled into a roar. It was on the roadand varied with
its windings. All at once it burst into a distinct sound--the
voicesand the tramping feet of many men.

It is questionable whether old John Willeteven thenwould have
thought of the rioters but for the cries of his cook and housemaid
who ran screaming upstairs and locked themselves into one of the
old garrets--shrieking dismally when they had done soby way of
rendering their place of refuge perfectly secret and secure. These
two females did afterwards depone that Mr Willet in his
consternation uttered but one wordand called that up the stairs
in a stentorian voicesix distinct times. But as this word was a
monosyllablewhichhowever inoffensive when applied to the
quadruped it denotesis highly reprehensible when used in
connection with females of unimpeachable charactermany persons
were inclined to believe that the young women laboured under some
hallucination caused by excessive fear; and that their ears


deceived them.

Be this as it mayJohn Willetin whom the very uttermost extent
of dull-headed perplexity supplied the place of couragestationed
himself in the porchand waited for their coming up. Onceit
dimly occurred to him that there was a kind of door to the house
which had a lock and bolts; and at the same time some shadowy ideas
of shutters to the lower windowsflitted through his brain. But
he stood stock stilllooking down the road in the direction in
which the noise was rapidly advancingand did not so much as take
his hands out of his pockets.

He had not to wait long. A dark masslooming through a cloud of
dustsoon became visible; the mob quickened their pace; shouting
and whooping like savagesthey came rushing on pell mell; and in a
few seconds he was bandied from hand to handin the heart of a
crowd of men.

'Halloa!' cried a voice he knewas the man who spoke came cleaving
through the throng. 'Where is he? Give him to me. Don't hurt
him. How nowold Jack! Ha ha ha!'

Mr Willet looked at himand saw it was Hugh; but he said nothing
and thought nothing.

'These lads are thirsty and must drink!' cried Hughthrusting him
back towards the house. 'BustleJackbustle. Show us the best-the
very best--the over-proof that you keep for your own drinking
Jack!'

John faintly articulated the words'Who's to pay?'

'He says "Who's to pay?"' cried Hughwith a roar of laughter which
was loudly echoed by the crowd. Then turning to Johnhe added
'Pay! Whynobody.'

John stared round at the mass of faces--some grinningsome fierce
some lighted up by torchessome indistinctsome dusky and
shadowy: some looking at himsome at his housesome at each
other--and while he wasas he thoughtin the very act of doing
sofound himselfwithout any consciousness of having movedin
the bar; sitting down in an arm-chairand watching the destruction
of his propertyas if it were some queer play or entertainmentof
an astonishing and stupefying naturebut having no reference to
himself--that he could make out--at all.

Yes. Here was the bar--the bar that the boldest never entered
without special invitation--the sanctuarythe mysterythe
hallowed ground: here it wascrammed with menclubssticks
torchespistols; filled with a deafening noiseoathsshouts
screamshootings; changed all at once into a bear-gardena
madhousean infernal temple: men darting in and outby door and
windowsmashing the glassturning the tapsdrinking liquor out
of China punchbowlssitting astride of caskssmoking private and
personal pipescutting down the sacred grove of lemonshacking
and hewing at the celebrated cheesebreaking open inviolable
drawersputting things in their pockets which didn't belong to
themdividing his own money before his own eyeswantonly wasting
breakingpulling down and tearing up: nothing quietnothing
private: men everywhere--abovebelowoverheadin the bedrooms
in the kitchenin the yardin the stables--clambering in at
windows when there were doors wide open; dropping out of windows
when the stairs were handy; leaping over the bannisters into chasms
of passages: new faces and figures presenting themselves every


instant--some yellingsome singingsome fightingsome breaking
glass and crockerysome laying the dust with the liquor they
couldn't drinksome ringing the bells till they pulled them down
others beating them with pokers till they beat them into fragments:
more men still--moremoremore--swarming on like insects: noise
smokelightdarknessfrolicangerlaughtergroansplunder
fearand ruin!

Nearly all the time while John looked on at this bewildering scene
Hugh kept near him; and though he was the loudestwildestmost
destructive villain therehe saved his old master's bones a score
of times. Nayeven when Mr Tappertitexcited by liquorcame up
and in assertion of his prerogative politely kicked John Willet on
the shinsHugh bade him return the compliment; and if old John had
had sufficient presence of mind to understand this whispered
directionand to profit by ithe might no doubtunder Hugh's
protectionhave done so with impunity.

At length the band began to reassemble outside the houseand to
call to those withinto join themfor they were losing time.
These murmurs increasingand attaining a high pitchHughand
some of those who yet lingered in the barand who plainly were the
leaders of the trooptook counsel togetherapartas to what was
to be done with Johnto keep him quiet until their Chigwell work
was over. Some proposed to set the house on fire and leave him in
it; othersthat he should be reduced to a state of temporary
insensibilityby knocking on the head; othersthat he should be
sworn to sit where he was until to-morrow at the same hour; others
againthat he should be gagged and taken off with themunder a
sufficient guard. All these propositions being overruledit was
concludedat lastto bind him in his chairand the word was
passed for Dennis.

'Look'ee hereJack!' said Hughstriding up to him: 'We are going
to tie youhand and footbut otherwise you won't be hurt. D'ye
hear?'

John Willet looked at another manas if he didn't know which was
the speakerand muttered something about an ordinary every Sunday
at two o'clock.

'You won't be hurt I tell youJack--do you hear me?' roared Hugh
impressing the assurance upon him by means of a heavy blow on the
back. 'He's so dead scaredhe's woolgatheringI think. Give him
a drop of something to drink here. Hand overone of you.'

A glass of liquor being passed forwardHugh poured the contents
down old John's throat. Mr Willet feebly smacked his lipsthrust
his hand into his pocketand inquired what was to pay; addingas
he looked vacantly roundthat he believed there was a trifle of
broken glass-


'He's out of his senses for the timeit's my belief' said Hugh
after shaking himwithout any visible effect upon his system
until his keys rattled in his pocket. 'Where's that Dennis?'

The word was again passedand presently Mr Denniswith a long
cord bound about his middlesomething after the manner of a friar
came hurrying inattended by a body-guard of half-a-dozen of his
men.

'Come! Be alive here!' cried Hughstamping his foot upon the
ground. 'Make haste!'


Denniswith a wink and a nodunwound the cord from about his
personand raising his eyes to the ceilinglooked all over it
and round the walls and cornicewith a curious eye; then shook his
head.

'Movemancan't you!' cried Hughwith another impatient stamp of
his foot. 'Are we to wait heretill the cry has gone for ten
miles roundand our work's interrupted?'

'It's all very fine talkingbrother' answered Dennisstepping
towards him; 'but unless--' and here he whispered in his ear-'
unless we do it over the doorit can't be done at all in this
here room.'

'What can't?' Hugh demanded.

'What can't!' retorted Dennis. 'Whythe old man can't.'

'Whyyou weren't going to hang him!' cried Hugh.

'Nobrother?' returned the hangman with a stare. 'What else?'

Hugh made no answerbut snatching the rope from his companion's
handproceeded to bind old John himself; but his very first move
was so bungling and unskilfulthat Mr Dennis entreatedalmost
with tears in his eyesthat he might be permitted to perform the
duty. Hugh consentingbe achieved it in a twinkling.

'There' he saidlooking mournfully at John Willetwho displayed
no more emotion in his bonds than he had shown out of them.
'That's what I call pretty and workmanlike. He's quite a picter
now. Butbrotherjust a word with you--now that he's ready
trussedas one may saywouldn't it be better for all parties if
we was to work him off? It would read uncommon well in the
newspapersit would indeed. The public would think a great deal
more on us!'

Hughinferring what his companion meantrather from his gestures
than his technical mode of expressing himself (to whichas he was
ignorant of his callinghe wanted the clue)rejected this
proposition for the second timeand gave the word 'Forward!' which
was echoed by a hundred voices from without.

'To the Warren!' shouted Dennis as he ran outfollowed by the
rest. 'A witness's housemy lads!'

A loud yell followedand the whole throng hurried offmad for
pillage and destruction. Hugh lingered behind for a few moments to
stimulate himself with more drinkand to set all the taps running
a few of which had accidentally been spared; thenglancing round
the despoiled and plundered roomthrough whose shattered window
the rioters had thrust the Maypole itself--for even that had been
sawn down--lighted a torchclapped the mute and motionless John
Willet on the backand waving his light above his headand
uttering a fierce shouthastened after his companions.

Chapter 55

John Willetleft alone in his dismantled barcontinued to sit
staring about him; awake as to his eyescertainlybut with all
his powers of reason and reflection in a sound and dreamless


sleep. He looked round upon the room which had been for years
and was within an hour agothe pride of his heart; and not a
muscle of his face was moved. The nightwithoutlooked black and
cold through the dreary gaps in the casement; the precious liquids
now nearly leaked awaydripped with a hollow sound upon the floor;
the Maypole peered ruefully in through the broken windowlike the
bowsprit of a wrecked ship; the ground might have been the bottom
of the seait was so strewn with precious fragments. Currents of
air rushed inas the old doors jarred and creaked upon their
hinges; the candles flickered and guttered downand made long
winding-sheets; the cheery deep-red curtains flapped and fluttered
idly in the wind; even the stout Dutch kegsoverthrown and lying
empty in dark cornersseemed the mere husks of good fellows whose
jollity had departedand who could kindle with a friendly glow no
more. John saw this desolationand yet saw it not. He was
perfectly contented to sit therestaring at itand felt no more
indignation or discomfort in his bonds than if they had been robes
of honour. So far as he was personally concernedold Time lay
snoringand the world stood still.

Save for the dripping from the barrelsthe rustling of such light
fragments of destruction as the wind affectedand the dull
creaking of the open doorsall was profoundly quiet: indeed
these soundslike the ticking of the death-watch in the night
only made the silence they invaded deeper and more apparent. But
quiet or noisyit was all one to John. If a train of heavy
artillery could have come up and commenced ball practice outside
the windowit would have been all the same to him. He was a long
way beyond surprise. A ghost couldn't have overtaken him.

By and by he heard a footstep--a hurriedand yet cautious
footstep--coming on towards the house. It stoppedadvanced again
then seemed to go quite round it. Having done thatit came
beneath the windowand a head looked in.

It was strongly relieved against the darkness outside by the glare
of the guttering candles. A palewornwithered face; the eyes-but
that was owing to its gaunt condition--unnaturally large and
bright; the haira grizzled black. It gave a searching glance all
round the roomand a deep voice said:

'Are you alone in this house?'

John made no signthough the question was repeated twiceand he
heard it distinctly. After a moment's pausethe man got in at the
window. John was not at all surprised at thiseither. There had
been so much getting in and out of window in the course of the last
hour or sothat he had quite forgotten the doorand seemed to
have lived among such exercises from infancy.

The man wore a largedarkfaded cloakand a slouched hat; he
walked up close to Johnand looked at him. John returned the
compliment with interest.

'How long have you been sitting thus?' said the man.

John consideredbut nothing came of it.

'Which way have the party gone?'

Some wandering speculations relative to the fashion of the
stranger's bootsgot into Mr Willet's mind by some accident or
otherbut they got out again in a hurryand left him in his
former state.


'You would do well to speak' said the man; 'you may keep a whole
skinthough you have nothing else left that can be hurt. Which
way have the party gone?'

'That!' said Johnfinding his voice all at onceand nodding with
perfect good faith--he couldn't point; he was so tightly bound--in
exactly the opposite direction to the right one.

'You lie!' said the man angrilyand with a threatening gesture.
'I came that way. You would betray me.'

It was so evident that John's imperturbability was not assumedbut
was the result of the late proceedings under his roofthat the man
stayed his hand in the very act of striking himand turned away.

John looked after him without so much as a twitch in a single nerve
of his face. He seized a glassand holding it under one of the
little casks until a few drops were collecteddrank them greedily
off; then throwing it down upon the floor impatientlyhe took the
vessel in his hands and drained it into his throat. Some scraps of
bread and meat were scattered aboutand on these he fell next;
eating them with voracityand pausing every now and then to
listen for some fancied noise outside. When he had refreshed
himself in this manner with violent hasteand raised another
barrel to his lipshe pulled his hat upon his brow as though he
were about to leave the houseand turned to John.

'Where are your servants?'

Mr Willet indistinctly remembered to have heard the rioters calling
to them to throw the key of the room in which they wereout of
windowfor their keeping. He therefore replied'Locked up.'

'Well for them if they remain quietand well for you if you do the
like' said the man. 'Now show me the way the party went.'

This time Mr Willet indicated it correctly. The man was hurrying
to the doorwhen suddenly there came towards them on the windthe
loud and rapid tolling of an alarm-belland then a bright and
vivid glare streamed upwhich illuminednot only the whole
chamberbut all the country.

It was not the sudden change from darkness to this dreadful light
it was not the sound of distant shrieks and shouts of triumphit
was not this dread invasion of the serenity and peace of night
that drove the man back as though a thunderbolt had struck him. It
was the Bell. If the ghastliest shape the human mind has ever
pictured in its wildest dreams had risen up before himhe could
not have staggered backward from its touchas he did from the
first sound of that loud iron voice. With eyes that started from
his headhis limbs convulsedhis face most horrible to seehe
raised one arm high up into the airand holding something
visionary back and downwith his other handdrove at it as though
he held a knife and stabbed it to the heart. He clutched his hair
and stopped his earsand travelled madly round and round; then
gave a frightful cryand with it rushed away: stillstillthe
Bell tolled on and seemed to follow him--louder and louderhotter
and hotter yet. The glare grew brighterthe roar of voices
deeper; the crash of heavy bodies fallingshook the air; bright
streams of sparks rose up into the sky; but louder than them all-rising
faster farto Heaven--a million times more fierce and
furious--pouring forth dreadful secrets after its long silence-speaking
the language of the dead--the Bell--the Bell!


What hunt of spectres could surpass that dread pursuit and flight!
Had there been a legion of them on his trackhe could have better
borne it. They would have had a beginning and an endbut here all
space was full. The one pursuing voice was everywhere: it sounded
in the earththe air; shook the long grassand howled among the
trembling trees. The echoes caught it upthe owls hooted as it
flew upon the breezethe nightingale was silent and hid herself
among the thickest boughs: it seemed to goad and urge the angry
fireand lash it into madness; everything was steeped in one
prevailing red; the glow was everywhere; nature was drenched in
blood: still the remorseless crying of that awful voice--the Bell
the Bell!

It ceased; but not in his ears. The knell was at his heart. No
work of man had ever voice like that which sounded thereand
warned him that it cried unceasingly to Heaven. Who could hear
that helland not know what it said! There was murder in its
every note--cruelrelentlesssavage murder--the murder of a
confiding manby one who held his every trust. Its ringing
summoned phantoms from their graves. What face was thatin which
a friendly smile changed to a look of half incredulous horror
which stiffened for a moment into one of painthen changed again
into an imploring glance at Heavenand so fell idly down with
upturned eyeslike the dead stags' he had often peeped at when a
little child: shrinking and shuddering--there was a dreadful thing
to think of now!--and clinging to an apron as he looked! He sank
upon the groundand grovelling down as if he would dig himself a
place to hide incovered his face and ears: but nonono--a
hundred walls and roofs of brass would not shut out that bellfor
in it spoke the wrathful voice of Godand from that voicethe
whole wide universe could not afford a refuge!

While he rushed up and downnot knowing where to turnand while
he lay crouching therethe work went briskly on indeed. When
they left the Maypolethe rioters formed into a solid bodyand
advanced at a quick pace towards the Warren. Rumour of their
approach having gone beforethey found the garden-doors fast
closedthe windows made secureand the house profoundly dark: not
a light being visible in any portion of the building. After some
fruitless ringing at the bellsand beating at the iron gatesthey
drew off a few paces to reconnoitreand confer upon the course it
would be best to take.

Very little conference was neededwhen all were bent upon one
desperate purposeinfuriated with liquorand flushed with
successful riot. The word being given to surround the housesome
climbed the gatesor dropped into the shallow trench and scaled
the garden wallwhile others pulled down the solid iron fenceand
while they made a breach to enter bymade deadly weapons of the
bars. The house being completely encircleda small number of men
were despatched to break open a tool-shed in the garden; and during
their absence on this errandthe remainder contented themselves
with knocking violently at the doorsand calling to those within
to come down and open them on peril of their lives.

No answer being returned to this repeated summonsand the
detachment who had been sent awaycoming back with an accession of
pickaxesspadesand hoesthey--together with those who had such
arms alreadyor carried (as many did) axespolesand crowbars-struggled
into the foremost rankready to beset the doors and
windows. They had not at this time more than a dozen lighted
torches among them; but when these preparations were completed
flaming links were distributed and passed from hand to hand with


such rapiditythatin a minute's timeat least two-thirds of the
whole roaring mass boreeach man in his handa blazing brand.
Whirling these about their heads they raised a loud shoutand fell
to work upon the doors and windows.

Amidst the clattering of heavy blowsthe rattling of broken glass
the cries and execrations of the moband all the din and turmoil
of the sceneHugh and his friends kept together at the turret-door
where Mr Haredale had last admitted him and old John Willet; and
spent their united force on that. It was a strong old oaken door
guarded by good bolts and a heavy barbut it soon went crashing in
upon the narrow stairs behindand madeas it werea platform to
facilitate their tearing up into the rooms above. Almost at the
same momenta dozen other points were forcedand at every one the
crowd poured in like water.

A few armed servant-men were posted in the halland when the
rioters forced an entrance therethey fired some half-a-dozen
shots. But these taking no effectand the concourse coming on
like an army of devilsthey only thought of consulting their own
safetyand retreatedechoing their assailants' criesand hoping
in the confusion to be taken for rioters themselves; in which
stratagem they succeededwith the exception of one old man who was
never heard of againand was said to have had his brains beaten
out with an iron bar (one of his fellows reported that he had seen
the old man fall)and to have been afterwards burnt in the flames.

The besiegers being now in complete possession of the housespread
themselves over it from garret to cellarand plied their demon
labours fiercely. While some small parties kindled bonfires
underneath the windowsothers broke up the furniture and cast the
fragments down to feed the flames below; where the apertures in
the wall (windows no longer) were large enoughthey threw out
tableschests of drawersbedsmirrorspicturesand flung them
whole into the fire; while every fresh addition to the blazing
masses was received with shoutsand howlsand yellswhich added
new and dismal terrors to the conflagration. Those who had axes
and had spent their fury on the movableschopped and tore down the
doors and window framesbroke up the flooringhewed away the
raftersand buried men who lingered in the upper roomsin heaps
of ruins. Some searched the drawersthe cheststhe boxes
writing-desksand closetsfor jewelsplateand money; while
othersless mindful of gain and more mad for destructioncast
their whole contents into the courtyard without examinationand
called to those belowto heap them on the blaze. Men who had
been into the cellarsand had staved the casksrushed to and fro
stark madsetting fire to all they saw--often to the dresses of
their own friends--and kindling the building in so many parts that
some had no time for escapeand were seenwith drooping hands and
blackened faceshanging senseless on the window-sills to which
they had crawleduntil they were sucked and drawn into the
burning gulf. The more the fire crackled and ragedthe wilder and
more cruel the men grew; as though moving in that element they
became fiendsand changed their earthly nature for the qualities
that give delight in hell.

The burning pilerevealing rooms and passages red hotthrough
gaps made in the crumbling walls; the tributary fires that licked
the outer bricks and stoneswith their long forked tonguesand
ran up to meet the glowing mass within; the shining of the flames
upon the villains who looked on and fed them; the roaring of the
angry blazeso bright and high that it seemed in its rapacity to
have swallowed up the very smoke; the living flakes the wind bore
rapidly away and hurried on withlike a storm of fiery snow; the


noiseless breaking of great beams of woodwhich fell like feathers
on the heap of ashesand crumbled in the very act to sparks and
powder; the lurid tinge that overspread the skyand the darkness
very deep by contrastwhich prevailed around; the exposure to the
coarsecommon gazeof every little nook which usages of home had
made a sacred placeand the destruction by rude hands of every
little household favourite which old associations made a dear and
precious thing: all this taking place--not among pitying looks and
friendly murmurs of compassionbut brutal shouts and exultations
which seemed to make the very rats who stood by the old house too
longcreatures with some claim upon the pity and regard of those
its roof had sheltered:--combined to form a scene never to be
forgotten by those who saw it and were not actors in the workso
long as life endured.

And who were they? The alarm-bell rang--and it was pulled by no
faint or hesitating hands--for a long time; but not a soul was
seen. Some of the insurgents said that when it ceasedthey heard
the shrieks of womenand saw some garments fluttering in the air
as a party of men bore away no unresisting burdens. No one could
say that this was true or falsein such an uproar; but where was
Hugh? Who among them had seen himsince the forcing of the doors?
The cry spread through the body. Where was Hugh!

'Here!' he hoarsely criedappearing from the darkness; out of
breathand blackened with the smoke. 'We have done all we can;
the fire is burning itself out; and even the corners where it
hasn't spreadare nothing but heaps of ruins. Dispersemy lads
while the coast's clear; get back by different ways; and meet as
usual!' With thathe disappeared again--contrary to his wont
for he was always first to advanceand last to go away--leaving
them to follow homewards as they would.

It was not an easy task to draw off such a throng. If Bedlam gates
had been flung wide openthere would not have issued forth such
maniacs as the frenzy of that night had made. There were men
therewho danced and trampled on the beds of flowers as though
they trod down human enemiesand wrenched them from the stalks
like savages who twisted human necks. There were men who cast
their lighted torches in the airand suffered them to fall upon
their heads and facesblistering the skin with deep unseemly
burns. There were men who rushed up to the fireand paddled in it
with their hands as if in water; and others who were restrained by
force from plunging into gratify their deadly longing. On the
skull of one drunken lad--not twentyby his looks--who lay upon
the ground with a bottle to his mouththe lead from the roof came
streaming down in a shower of liquid firewhite hot; melting his
head like wax. When the scattered parties were collectedmen-living
yetbut singed as with hot irons--were plucked out of the
cellarsand carried off upon the shoulders of otherswho strove
to wake them as they went alongwith ribald jokesand left them
deadin the passages of hospitals. But of all the howling throng
not one learnt mercy fromor sickened atthese sights; nor was
the fiercebesottedsenseless rage of one man glutted.

Slowlyand in small clusterswith hoarse hurrahs and repetitions
of their usual crythe assembly dropped away. The last few redeyed
stragglers reeled after those who had gone before; the distant
noise of men calling to each otherand whistling for others whom
they missedgrew fainter and fainter; at length even these sounds
died awayand silence reigned alone.

Silence indeed! The glare of the flames had sunk into a fitful
flashing light; and the gentle starsinvisible till nowlooked


down upon the blackening heap. A dull smoke hung upon the ruinas
though to hide it from those eyes of Heaven; and the wind forbore
to move it. Bare wallsroof open to the sky--chamberswhere the
beloved dead hadmany and many a fair dayrisen to new life and
energy; where so many dear ones had been sad and merry; which were
connected with so many thoughts and hopesregrets and changes--all
gone. Nothing left but a dull and dreary blank--a smouldering heap
of dust and ashes--the silence and solitude of utter desolation.

Chapter 56

The Maypole cronieslittle drearning of the change so soon to come
upon their favourite hauntstruck through the Forest path upon
their way to London; and avoiding the main roadwhich was hot and
dustykept to the by-paths and the fields. As they drew nearer to
their destinationthey began to make inquiries of the people whom
they passedconcerning the riotsand 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 Guardsconveying to Newgate some rioters
who had been re-examinedhad been set upon by the mob and
compelled to retreat; anotherthat the houses of two witnesses
near Clare Market were about to be pulled down when he came away;
anotherthat Sir George Saville's house in Leicester Fields was to
be burned that nightand that it would go hard with Sir George if
he fell into the people's handsas it was he who had brought in
the Catholic bill. All accounts agreed that the mob were outin
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 colourdamned them for not having
cockades in their hatsand bade them set a good watch to-morrow
night upon their prison doorsfor the locks would have a
straining; another asked if they were fire-proofthat they
walked abroad without the distinguishing mark of all good and true
men;--and a third who rode on horsebackand was quite alone
ordered them to throw each man a shillingin his hattowards the
support of the rioters. Although they were afraid to refuse
compliance with this demandand were much alarmed by these
reportsthey agreedhaving come so farto go forwardand see
the real state of things with their own eyes. So they pushed on
quickeras men do who are excited by portentous news; and
ruminating on what they had heardspoke little to each other.

It was now nightand as they came nearer to the city they had
dismal confirmation of this intelligence in three great firesall
close togetherwhich burnt fiercely and were gloomily reflected in
the sky. Arriving in the immediate suburbsthey found that almost
every house had chalked upon its door in large characters 'No
Popery' that the shops were shutand 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 impartin its full extentto his companions
they came to a turnpike-gatewhich was shut. They were passing
through the turnstile on the pathwhen a horseman rode up from
London at a hard gallopand called to the toll-keeper in a voice
of great agitationto open quickly in the name of God.

The adjuration was so earnest and vehementthat the manwith a


lantern in his handcame running out--toll-keeper though he was-and
was about to throw the gate openwhen happening to look behind
himhe exclaimed'Good Heavenwhat's that! Another fire!'

At thisthe three turned their headsand saw in the distance-straight
in the direction whence they had come--a broad sheet of
flamecasting a threatening light upon the cloudswhich glimmered
as though the conflagration were behind themand 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 aghastmy good fellow.
Open the gate!'

'Sir' cried the manlaying his hand upon his horse's bridle as he
let him through: 'I know you nowsir; be advised by me; do not go
on. I saw them passand know what kind of men they are. You will
be murdered.'

'So be it!' said the horsemanlooking intently towards the fire
and not at him who spoke.

'But sir--sir' cried the mangrasping at his rein more tightly
yet'if you do go onwear the blue riband. Heresir' he added
taking one from his own hat'it's necessitynot choicethat
makes me wear it; it's love of life and homesir. Wear it for
this one nightsir; only for this one night.'

'Do!' cried the three friendspressing round his horse. 'Mr
Haredale--worthy sir--good gentleman--pray be persuaded.'

'Who's that?' cried Mr Haredalestooping down to look. 'Did I
hear Daisy's voice?'

'You didsir' cried the little man. 'Do be persuadedsir. This
gentleman says very true. Your life may hang upon it.'

'Are you' said Mr Haredale abruptly'afraid to come with me?'

'Isir?--N-n-no.'

'Put that riband in your hat. If we meet the riotersswear 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 dieI will take no quarter
from themnor shall they have quarter from meif we come hand to
hand to-night. Up here--behind me--quick! Clasp me tight round
the bodyand fear nothing.'

In an instant they were riding awayat full gallopin a dense
cloud of dustand speeding onlike hunters in a dream.

It was well the good horse knew the road he traversedfor never
once--nonever once in all the journey--did Mr Haredale cast his
eyes upon the groundor turn themfor an instantfrom 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 placeshe never forgot to put his hand upon
the little man to hold him more securely in his seatbut he kept
his head erect and his eyes fixed on the firethenand always.

The road was dangerous enoughfor they went the nearest way-headlong--
far from the highway--by lonely lanes and pathswhere
waggon-wheels had worn deep ruts; where hedge and ditch hemmed in
the narrow strip of ground; and tall treesarching overheadmade


it profoundly dark. But onononwith neither stop nor stumble
till they reached the Maypole doorand could plainly see that the
fire began to fadeas if for want of fuel.

'Down--for one moment--for but one moment' said Mr Haredale
helping Daisy to the groundand following himself. 'Willet--
Willet--where are my niece and servants--Willet!'

Crying to him distractedlyhe rushed into the bar.--The landlord
bound and fastened to his chair; the place dismantledstripped
and pulled about his ears;--nobody could have taken shelter here.

He was a strong manaccustomed to restrain himselfand suppress
his strong emotions; but this preparation for what was to follow-though
he had seen that fire burningand 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 momentand turned away his head.

'JohnnyJohnny' said Solomon--and the simple-hearted fellow
cried outrightand wrung his hands--'Oh dear old Johnnyhere's a
change! That the Maypole bar should come to thisand we should
live to see it! The old Warren tooJohnny--Mr Haredale--oh
Johnnywhat a piteous sight this is!'

Pointing to Mr Haredale as he said these wordslittle Solomon
Daisy put his elbows on the back of Mr Willet's chairand fairly
blubbered on his shoulder.

While Solomon was speakingold John satmute as a stock-fish
staring at him with an unearthly glareand displayingby every
possible symptomentire and complete unconsciousness. But when
Solomon was silent againJohn followedwith his great round eyes
the direction of his looksand did appear to have some dawning
distant notion that somebody had come to see him.

'You know usdon't youJohnny?' said the little clerkrapping
himself on the breast. 'Daisyyou know--Chigwell Church--bellringer--
little desk on Sundays--ehJohnny?'

Mr Willet reflected for a few momentsand then mutteredas it
were mechanically: 'Let us sing to the praise and glory of--'

'Yesto be sure' cried the little manhastily; 'that's it-that's
meJohnny. You're all right nowan't you? Say you're all
rightJohnny.'

'All right?' pondered Mr Willetas if that were a matter entirely
between himself and his conscience. 'All right? Ah!'

'They haven't been misusing you with sticksor pokersor any
other blunt instruments--have theyJohnny?' asked Solomonwith a
very anxious glance at Mr Willet's head. 'They didn't beat you
did they?'

John knitted his brow; looked downwardsas if he were mentally
engaged in some arithmetical calculation; then upwardsas if the
total would not come at his call; then at Solomon Daisyfrom his
eyebrow to his shoe-buckle; then very slowly round the bar. And
then a greatroundleaden-lookingand not at all transparent
tearcame rolling out of each eyeand he saidas he shook his
head:

'If they'd only had the goodness to murder meI'd have thanked 'em
kindly.'


'Nononodon't say thatJohnny' whimpered his little friend.
'It's veryvery badbut not quite so bad as that. Nono!'

'Look'ee heresir!' cried Johnturning his rueful eyes on Mr
Haredalewho had dropped on one kneeand was hastily beginning to
untie his bonds. 'Look'ee heresir! The very Maypole--the old
dumb Maypole--stares in at the winderas if it saidJohn 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'tJohnnydon't' cried his friend: no less affected with
this mournful effort of Mr Willet's imaginationthan by the
sepulchral tone in which he had spoken of the Maypole. 'Please
don'tJohnny!'

'Your loss is greatand your misfortune a heavy one' said Mr
Haredalelooking restlessly towards the door: 'and this is not a
time to comfort you. If it wereI am in no condition to do so.
Before I leave youtell me one thingand try to tell me plainly
I implore you. Have you seenor heard of Emma?'

'No!' said Mr Willet.

'Nor any one but these bloodhounds?'

'No!'

'They rode awayI trust in Heavenbefore these dreadful scenes
began' said Mr Haredalewhobetween his agitationhis eagerness
to mount his horse againand the dexterity with which the cords
were tiedhad scarcely yet undone one knot. 'A knifeDaisy!'

'You didn't' said Johnlooking aboutas though he had lost his
pocket-handkerchiefor some such slight article--'either of you
gentlemen--see a--a coffin anywheresdid you?'

'Willet!' cried Mr Haredale. Solomon dropped the knifeand
instantly becoming limp from head to footexclaimed 'Good
gracious!'

'--Because' said Johnnot at all regarding them'a dead man
called a little time agoon his way yonder. I could have told you
what name was on the plateif he had brought his coffin with him
and left it behind. If he didn'tit don't signify.'

His landlordwho had listened to these words with breathless
attentionstarted that moment to his feet; andwithout a word
drew Solomon Daisy to the doormounted his horsetook him up
behind againand flew rather than galloped towards the pile of
ruinswhich that day's sun had shone upona stately house. Mr
Willet stared after themlistenedlooked down upon himself to
make quite sure that he was still unboundandwithout any
manifestation of impatiencedisappointmentor surprisegently
relapsed into the condition from which he had so imperfectly
recovered.

Mr Haredale tied his horse to the trunk of a treeand grasping his
companion's armstole softly along the footpathand into what had
been the garden of his house. He stopped for an instant to look
upon its smoking wallsand at the stars that shone through roof
and floor upon the heap of crumbling ashes. Solomon glanced
timidly in his facebut his lips were tightly pressed togethera
resolute and stern expression sat upon his browand not a teara


lookor gesture indicating griefescaped him.

He drew his sword; felt for a moment in his breastas though he
carried other arms about him; then grasping Solomon by the wrist
againwent 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 outwithout encountering any human beingor finding the least
trace of any concealed straggler.

After a short pauseMr Haredale shouted twice or thrice. Then
cried aloud'Is there any one in hiding herewho knows my voice!
There is nothing to fear now. If any of my people are nearI
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 turretwhere the alarmbell
hung. The fire had raged thereand the floors had been sawn
and hewnand beaten downbesides. It was open to the night; but
a part of the staircase still remainedwinding upward from a great
mound of dust and cinders. Fragments of the jagged and broken
steps offered an insecure and giddy footing here and thereand
then were lost againbehind protruding angles of the wallor in
the deep shadows cast upon it by other portions of the ruin; for by
this time the moon had risenand shone brightly.

As they stood herelistening to the echoes as they died awayand
hoping in vain to hear a voice they knewsome of the ashes in this
turret slipped and rolled down. Startled by the least noise in
that melancholy placeSolomon looked up in his companion's face
and saw that he had turned towards the spotand that he watched
and listened keenly.

He covered the little man's mouth with his handand looked again.
Instantlywith kindling eyeshe bade him on his life keep still
and neither speak nor move. Then holding his breathand stooping
downhe stole into the turretwith his drawn sword in his hand
and disappeared.

Terrified to be left there by himselfunder such desolate
circumstancesand after all he had seen and heard that night
Solomon would have followedbut there had been something in Mr
Haredale's manner and his lookthe recollection of which held him
spellbound. He stood rooted to the spot; and scarcely venturing to
breathelooked up with mingled fear and wonder.

Again the ashes slipped and rolled--veryvery softly--again--and
then againas 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 moreinto the shadowy and uncertain light--higher
nowbut not muchfor the way was steep and toilsomeand 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 sickand clasped his hands. His
limbs trembled beneath himand a cold sweat broke out upon his
pallid face.


If he complied with Mr Haredale's last injunction nowit was
because he had not the power to speak or move. He strained his
gazeand fixed it on a patch of moonlightinto whichif he
continued to ascendhe must soon emerge. When he appeared there
he would try to call to him.

Again the ashes slipped and crumbled; some stones rolled downand
fell with a dullheavy sound upon the ground below. He kept his
eyes upon the piece of moonlight. The figure was coming onfor
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 awayanother form rushed
out into the lightflung itself upon the foremost oneknelt down
upon its breastand clutched its throat with both hands.

'Villain!' cried Mr Haredalein a terrible voice--for it was he.
'Dead and buriedas 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 bloodand that of his
faithful servantshed to conceal your own atrocious guilt--You
Rudgedouble murderer and monsterI arrest you in the name of
Godwho has delivered you into my hands. No. Though you had the
strength of twenty men' he addedas the murderer writhed and
struggledyou could not escape me or loosen my grasp to-night!'

Chapter 57

Barnabyarmed as we have seencontinued to pace up and down
before the stable-door; glad to be alone againand 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 museda
bright smile overspread his faceand none but cheerful visions
floated into his brain.

Had he no thoughts of herwhose sole delight he wasand whom he
had unconsciously plunged in such bitter sorrow and such deep
affliction? Ohyes. 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 thatwithout Hugh's telling him. And what a
precious thing it was to know she lived so happilyand 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 boldestand
trusted before them all! And when these frays were overand the
good lord had conquered his enemiesand they were all at peace
againand he and she were richwhat 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 twilightand she had
no longer reason to be anxious for the morrowwhat pleasure would
he have in the reflection that this was his doing--his--poor
foolish Barnaby's; and in patting her on the cheekand saying with
a merry laugh'Am I silly nowmother--am I silly now?'

With a lighter heart and stepand eyes the brighter for the happy


tear that dimmed them for a momentBarnaby resumed his walk; and
singing gaily to himselfkept guard upon his quiet post.

His comrade Gripthe partner of his watchthough fond of basking
in the sunshinepreferred to-day to walk about the stable; having
a great deal to do in the way of scattering the strawhiding under
it such small articles as had been casually left aboutand
haunting Hugh's bedto which he seemed to have taken a particular
attachment. Sometimes Barnaby looked in and called himand then
he came hopping out; but he merely did this as a concession to his
master's weaknessand soon returned again to his own grave
pursuits: peering into the straw with his billand rapidly
covering up the placeas ifMidas-likehe were whispering
secrets to the earth and burying them; constantly busying himself
upon the sly; and affectingwhenever Barnaby came pastto look up
in the clouds and have nothing whatever on his mind: in short
conducting himselfin many respectsin a more than usually
thoughtfuldeepand mysterious manner.

As the day crept onBarnabywho had no directions forbidding him
to eat and drink upon his postbut had beenon the contrary
supplied with a bottle of beer and a basket of provisions
determined to break his fastwhich he had not done since morning.
To this endhe sat down on the ground before the doorand putting
his staff across his knees in case of alarm or surprisesummoned
Grip to dinner.

This callthe bird obeyed with great alacrity; cryingas he
sidled up to his master'I'm a devilI'm a PollyI'm a kettle
I'm a ProtestantNo Popery!' Having learnt this latter sentiment
from the gentry among whom he had lived of latehe delivered it
with uncommon emphasis.

'Well saidGrip!' cried his masteras he fed him with the
daintiest bits. 'Well saidold boy!'

'Never say diebow wow wowkeep up your spiritsGrip Grip Grip
Holloa! We'll all have teaI'm a Protestant kettleNo Popery!'
cried the raven.

'Gordon for everGrip!' cried Barnaby.

The ravenplacing his head upon the groundlooked at his master
sidewaysas though he would have said'Say that again!'
Perfectly understanding his desireBarnaby repeated the phrase a
great many times. The bird listened with profound attention;
sometimes repeating the popular cry in a low voiceas if to
compare the twoand try if it would at all help him to this new
accomplishment; sometimes flapping his wingsor barking; and
sometimes in a kind of desperation drawing a multitude of corks
with extraordinary viciousness.

Barnaby was so intent upon his favouritethat he was not at first
aware of the approach of two persons on horsebackwho were riding
at a foot-paceand coming straight towards his post. When he
perceived themhoweverwhich he did when they were within some
fifty yards of himhe jumped hastily upand ordering Grip within
doorsstood with both hands on his staffwaiting until he should
know whether they were friends or foes.

He had hardly done sowhen he observed that those who advanced
were a gentleman and his servant; almost at the same moment he
recognised Lord George Gordonbefore whom he stood uncoveredwith
his eyes turned towards the ground.


'Good day!' said Lord Georgenot reining in his horse until he was
close beside him. 'Well!'

'All quietsirall safe!' cried Barnaby. 'The rest are away-they
went by that path--that one. A grand party!'

'Ay?' said Lord Georgelooking 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 itsirfor your
sake. You're a good gentleman; a kind gentleman--ayyou are.
There are many against youbut we'll be a match for themnever
fear!'

'What's that?' said Lord George--pointing to the raven who was
peeping out of the stable-door--but still looking thoughtfullyand
in some perplexityit seemedat Barnaby.

'Whydon't you know!' retorted Barnabywith a wondering laugh.
'Not know what HE is! A birdto be sure. My bird--my friend--
Grip.'

'A devila kettlea Gripa Pollya Protestantno Popery!'
cried the raven.

'Thoughindeed' added Barnabylaying his hand upon the neck of
Lord George's horseand speaking softly: 'you had good reason to
ask me what he isfor sometimes it puzzles me--and I am used to
him--to think he's only a bird. He's my brotherGrip is--always
with me--always talking--always merry--ehGrip?'

The raven answered by an affectionate croakand hopping on his
master's armwhich he held downward for that purposesubmitted
with an air of perfect indifference to be fondledand turned his
restlesscurious eyenow upon Lord Georgeand now upon his man.

Lord Georgebiting his nails in a discomfited mannerregarded
Barnaby for some time in silence; then beckoning to his servant
said:

'Come hitherJohn.'

John Grueby touched his hatand came.

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

'Twicemy 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 demandedfaltering.

'Mad' said Johnwith emphatic brevity.

'And why do you think him madsir?' said his masterspeaking 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 dresslook at his
eyeslook at his restless wayhear him cry "No Popery!" Madmy
lord.'


'So because one man dresses unlike another' returned his angry
masterglancing at himself; 'and happens to differ from other men
in his carriage and mannerand to advocate a great cause which the
corrupt and irreligious deserthe is to be accounted madis he?'

'Starkstaringravingroaring madmy lord' returned the
unmoved John.

'Do you say this to my face?' cried his masterturning sharply
upon him.

'To any manmy lordwho asks me' answered John.

'Mr GashfordI findwas right' said Lord George; 'I thought him
prejudicedthough I ought to have known a man like him better than
to have supposed it possible!'

'I shall never have Mr Gashford's good wordmy lord' replied
Johntouching his hat respectfully'and I don't covet it.'

'You are an ill-conditionedmost ungrateful fellow' said Lord
George: 'a spyfor anything I know. Mr Gashford is perfectly
correctas 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 soremembering the cause you
sided withon the day he was maligned at Westminster. You will
leave me to-night--nayas soon as we reach home. The sooner the
better.'

'If it comes to thatI say so toomy lord. Let Mr Gashford have
his will. As to my being a spymy lordyou know me better than
to believe itI 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 Georgemotioning him
to go back. 'I desire to hear no more.'

'If you'll let me have another wordmy 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 alreadyand
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 canpoor
creature.'

'You hear what this man says?' cried Lord Georgeaddressing
Barnabywho had looked on and wondered while this dialogue passed.
'He thinks you may be afraid to remain upon your postand are kept
here perhaps against your will. What do you say?'

'I thinkyoung man' said Johnin explanation'that the soldiers
may turn out and take you; and that if they doyou will certainly
be hung by the neck till you're dead--dead--dead. And I think you
had better go from hereas fast as you can. That's what I think.'

'He's a cowardGripa coward!' cried Barnabyputting the raven
on the groundand 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 wellvery well. I am proud to be
the leader of such men as you.'


Bamaby'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 crestas if the affection and admiration he had conceived
for the man extended to the animal he rode; then unfurling his
flagand proudly waving itresumed his pacing up and down.

Lord Georgewith a kindling eye and glowing cheektook off his
hatand flourishing it above his headbade 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 masterbut not before he had
again warned Barnaby to retreatwith many significant gestures
which indeed he continued to makeand Barnaby to resistuntil 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 postand stimulated to enthusiasm by the special notice and
encouragement of his leaderBarnaby 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 upfanning his long hairand making
the banner rustle pleasantly above his head. There was a freedom
and freshness in the sound and in the timewhich chimed exactly
with his mood. He was happier than ever.

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

At these wordsBarnaby furled his flagand tied it round the
pole. His heart beat high while he did sobut he had no more fear
or thought of retreating than the pole itself. The friendly
stragglers hurried past himafter giving him notice of his danger
and quickly passed into the housewhere the utmost confusion
immediately prevailed. As those within hastily closed the windows
and the doorsthey urged him by looks and signs to fly without
loss of timeand called to him many times to do so; but he only
shook his head indignantly in answerand stood the firmer on his
post. Finding th