Part 9 out of 15
being linked together in a common cause, he naturally looks to you
to assist him. He has boarded and lodged with me a long time (for
as I said just now, I 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 boat, and we must divide
the ballast a little more equally.'
She was about to speak, but he checked her, and went on.
'The only way of doing this, is 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 of, ma'am: so little, that although you have
treated him harshly more than once, and driven him, I may say, out
of doors, he has that regard for you that I believe even if you
disappointed him now, he would consent to take charge of your son,
and to make a man of him.'
He laid a great stress on these latter words, and paused as if to
find out what effect they had produced. She only answered by her
'He is a likely lad,' said the blind man, thoughtfully, 'for many
purposes, and not ill-disposed to try his fortune in a little
change and bustle, if I may judge from what I heard of his talk
with you to-night.--Come. In a word, my friend has pressing
necessity for twenty pounds. You, who can give up an annuity, can
get that sum for him. It's a pity you should be troubled. You
seem very comfortable here, and it's worth that much to remain so.
Twenty pounds, widow, is a moderate demand. You know where to
apply for it; a post will bring it you.--Twenty pounds!'
She was about to answer him again, but 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
on, and if I don't sleep here, I shall not go far. Twenty pounds!
Consider of it, ma'am, for 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 door, carrying his chair
with him. Then seating himself, under a spreading honeysuckle, and
stretching his legs across the threshold so that no person could
pass in or out without his knowledge, he took from his pocket a
pipe, flint, steel and tinder-box, and began to smoke. It was a
lovely evening, of that gentle kind, and at that time of year, when
the twilight is most beautiful. Pausing now and then to let his
smoke curl slowly off, and to sniff the grateful fragrance of the
flowers, he sat there at his ease--as though the cottage were his
proper dwelling, and he had held undisputed possession of it all
his life--waiting for the widow's answer and for Barnaby's return.
When Barnaby returned with the bread, the sight of the pious old
pilgrim smoking his pipe and making himself so thoroughly at home,
appeared to surprise even him; the more so, as that worthy person,
instead of putting up the loaf in his wallet as a scarce and
precious article, tossed it carelessly on the table, and producing
his bottle, bade him sit down and drink.
'For I carry some comfort, you see,' he said. 'Taste that. Is it
The water stood in Barnaby's eyes as he coughed from the strength
of the draught, and answered in the affirmative.
'Drink some more,' said the blind man; 'don't be afraid of it.
You don't taste anything like that, often, eh?'
'Often!' cried Barnaby. 'Never!'
'Too poor?' returned the blind man with a sigh. 'Ay. That's bad.
Your mother, poor soul, would be happier if she was richer,
'Why, so I tell her--the very thing I told her just before you came
to-night, when all that gold was in the sky,' said Barnaby, drawing
his chair nearer to him, and looking eagerly in his face. 'Tell
me. Is there any way of being rich, that I could find out?'
'Any way! A hundred ways.'
'Ay, ay?' he returned. 'Do you say so? What are they?--Nay,
mother, it's for your sake I ask; not mine;--for yours, indeed.
What are they?'
The blind man turned his face, on which there was a smile of
triumph, to where the widow stood in great distress; and answered,
'Why, they are not to be found out by stay-at-homes, my good
'By stay-at-homes!' cried Barnaby, plucking at his sleeve. 'But I
am not one. Now, there you mistake. I am often out before the
sun, and travel home when he has gone to rest. I am away in the
woods before the day has reached the shady places, and am often
there when the bright moon is peeping through the boughs, and
looking down upon the other moon that lives in the water. As I
walk along, I try to find, among the grass and moss, some of that
small money for which she works so hard and used to shed so many
tears. As I lie asleep in the shade, I dream of it--dream of
digging it up in heaps; and spying it out, hidden under bushes; and
seeing it sparkle, as the dew-drops do, among the leaves. But I
never find it. Tell me where it is. I'd go there, if the journey
were a whole year long, because 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 table, that his
chin rested on his two hands, that he leaned eagerly forward, and
that his whole manner expressed the utmost interest and anxiety,
paused for a minute as though he desired the widow to observe this
fully, and then made answer:
'It's in the world, bold Barnaby, the merry world; not in solitary
places like those you pass your time in, but in crowds, and where
there's noise and rattle.'
'Good! good!' cried Barnaby, rubbing 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
likes, and in which a good son may do more for his mother, and
himself to boot, in a month, than he could here in all his life--
that is, if he had a friend, you know, and some one to advise
'You hear this, mother?' cried Barnaby, turning to her with
delight. 'Never tell me we shouldn't heed it, if 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 answer, widow?
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 Stagg, arising from the table;
'and lead me where you will. Courage, bold Barnaby. We'll talk
more of this: I've a fancy for you. Wait there till I come back.
She led him out at the door, and into the little garden, where they
'You are a fit agent,' she said, in 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 you, and will respect me the more (if possible) for your
praise. We must have our rights, widow.'
'Rights! Do you know,' she said, 'that a word from me--'
'Why do you stop?' returned the blind man calmly, after a long
pause. 'Do I know that a word from you would place my friend in
the last position of the dance of life? Yes, I do. What of that?
It will never be spoken, widow.'
'You are sure of that?'
'Quite--so sure, that I don't come here to discuss the question. I
say we must have our rights, or we must be bought off. Keep to
that point, or let me return to my young friend, for I have an
interest in the lad, and 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 you, because I am blind? No, I have not. Why do you
expect me, being in darkness, to be better than men who have their
sight--why should you? Is the hand of Heaven more manifest in my
having no eyes, than in your having two? It's the cant of you
folks to be horrified if a blind man robs, or lies, or steals; oh
yes, it's far worse in him, who can barely live on the few
halfpence that are thrown to him in streets, than in you, who can
see, and work, and 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 four, and want the most important, are to
live and be moral on our affliction. The true charity and justice
of rich to poor, all the world over!'
He paused a moment when he had said these words, and caught the
sound of money, jingling in her hand.
'Well?' he cried, quickly resuming his former manner. 'That should
lead to something. The point, widow?'
'First answer me one question,' she replied. 'You say he is close
at hand. Has he left London?'
'Being close at hand, widow, it would seem he has,' returned the
'I mean, for good? You know that.'
'Yes, for good. The truth is, widow, that his making a longer stay
there might have had disagreeable consequences. He has come away
for that reason.'
'Listen,' said the widow, telling some money out, upon a bench
beside them. 'Count.'
'Six,' said the blind man, listening attentively. 'Any more?'
'They are the savings,' she answered, 'of five years. Six
He put out his hand for one of the coins; felt it carefully, put it
between his teeth, rung it on the bench; and nodded to her to
'These have been scraped together and laid by, lest sickness or
death should separate my son and me. They have been purchased at
the price of much hunger, hard labour, and want of rest. If you
CAN take them--do--on condition that you leave this place upon the
instant, and enter no more into that room, where he sits now,
expecting your return.'
'Six guineas,' said the blind man, shaking his head, 'though of the
fullest weight that were ever coined, fall very far short of twenty
'For such a sum, as you know, I must write to a distant part of the
country. To do that, and receive an answer, I must have time.'
'Two days?' said Stagg.
'A week. Return on this day week, at the same hour, but not to the
house. Wait at the corner of the lane.'
'Of course,' said the blind man, with a crafty look, 'I shall find
'Where else can I take refuge? Is it not enough that you have made
a beggar of me, and that I have sacrificed my whole store, so
hardly earned, to preserve this home?'
'Humph!' said the blind man, after some consideration. 'Set me
with my face towards the point you speak of, and in the middle of
the road. Is this the spot?'
'On this day week at sunset. And think of him within doors.--For
the present, good night.'
She made him no answer, nor did he stop for any. He went slowly
away, turning his head from time to time, and stopping to listen,
as if he were curious to know whether he was watched by any one.
The shadows of night were closing fast around, and he was soon lost
in the gloom. It was not, however, until she had traversed the
lane from end to end, and made sure that he was gone, that she re-
entered the cottage, and hurriedly barred the door and window.
'Mother!' said Barnaby. 'What is the matter? Where is the blind
'He is gone.'
'Gone!' he cried, starting up. 'I must have more talk with him.
Which way did he take?'
'I don't know,' she answered, folding her arms about him. 'You
must not go out to-night. There are ghosts and dreams abroad.'
'Ay?' said Barnaby, in a frightened whisper.
'It is not safe to stir. We must leave this place to-morrow.'
'This place! This cottage--and the little garden, mother!'
'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 again, and find some new abode.'
Little persuasion was required to reconcile Barnaby to anything
that promised change. In another minute, he was wild with delight;
in another, full of grief at the prospect of parting with his
friends the dogs; in another, wild again; then he was fearful of
what she had said to prevent his wandering abroad that night, and
full of terrors and strange questions. His light-heartedness in
the end surmounted all his other feelings, and lying down in his
clothes to the end that he might be ready on the morrow, he soon
fell fast asleep before the poor turf fire.
His mother did not close her eyes, but sat beside him, watching.
Every breath of wind sounded in her ears like that dreaded footstep
at the door, or like that hand upon the latch, and made the calm
summer night, a night of horror. At length the welcome day
appeared. When she had made the little preparations which were
needful for their journey, and had prayed upon her knees with many
tears, she roused Barnaby, who jumped up gaily at her summons.
His clothes were few enough, and to carry Grip was a labour of
love. As the sun shed his earliest beams upon the earth, they
closed the door of their deserted home, and turned away. The sky
was blue and bright. The air was fresh and filled with a thousand
perfumes. Barnaby looked upward, and laughed with all his heart.
But it was a day he usually devoted to a long ramble, and one of
the dogs--the ugliest of them all--came bounding up, and jumping
round him in the fulness of his joy. He had to bid him go back in
a surly tone, and his heart smote him while he did so. The dog
retreated; turned with a half-incredulous, half-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 more, and as he shook his head and
waved his playmate home, he burst into tears.
'Oh mother, mother, how mournful he will be when he scratches at
the door, and finds it always shut!'
There was such a sense of home in the thought, that though her own
eyes overflowed she would not have obliterated the recollection of
it, either from her own mind or from his, for the wealth of the
whole wide world.
In the exhaustless catalogue of Heaven's mercies to mankind, the
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 sustained, but
because in this source of consolation there is something, we have
reason to believe, of the divine spirit; something of that goodness
which detects amidst our own evil doings, a redeeming quality;
something which, even in our fallen nature, we possess in common
with the angels; which had its being in the old time when they trod
the earth, and lingers on it yet, in pity.
How often, on their journey, did the widow remember with a grateful
heart, that out of his deprivation Barnaby's cheerfulness and
affection sprung! How often did she call to mind that but for
that, he might have been sullen, morose, unkind, far removed from
her--vicious, perhaps, and cruel! How often had she cause for
comfort, in his strength, and hope, and in his simple nature!
Those feeble powers of mind which rendered him so soon forgetful of
the past, save in brief gleams and flashes,--even they were a
comfort now. The world to him was full of happiness; in every
tree, and plant, and flower, in every bird, and beast, and tiny
insect whom a breath of summer wind laid low upon the ground, he
had delight. His delight was hers; and where many a wise son would
have made her sorrowful, this poor light-hearted idiot filled her
breast with thankfulness and love.
Their stock of money was low, but from the hoard she had told into
the blind man's hand, the widow had withheld one guinea. This,
with the few pence she possessed besides, was to two persons of
their frugal habits, a 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 door, or in a
village street, or in the grounds or gardens of a mansion of the
better sort, and scores who would have given nothing in charity,
were ready to bargain for more amusement from the talking bird.
One day--for they moved slowly, and although they had many rides in
carts and waggons, were on the road a week--Barnaby, with Grip upon
his shoulder and his mother following, begged permission at a trim
lodge to go up to the great house, at the other end of the avenue,
and show his raven. The man within was inclined to give them
admittance, and was indeed about to do so, when a stout gentleman
with a long whip in his hand, and a flushed face which seemed to
indicate that he had had his morning's draught, rode up to the
gate, and 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 angrily, as the man
threw the gate wide open, and pulled off his hat, 'who are these?
Eh? art a beggar, woman?'
The widow answered with a curtsey, that they were poor travellers.
'Vagrants,' said the gentleman, 'vagrants and vagabonds. Thee
wish to be made acquainted with the cage, dost thee--the cage, the
stocks, and the whipping-post? Where dost come from?'
She told him in a timid manner,--for he was very loud, hoarse, and
red-faced,--and besought him not to be angry, for they meant no
harm, and 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 hedges, and stray poultry, eh? What hast
got in that basket, lazy hound?'
'Grip, Grip, Grip--Grip the clever, Grip the wicked, Grip the
knowing--Grip, Grip, Grip,' cried the raven, whom Barnaby had shut
up on the approach of this stern personage. 'I'm a devil I'm a
devil I'm a devil, Never say die Hurrah Bow wow wow, Polly put the
kettle on we'll all have tea.'
'Take the vermin out, scoundrel,' said the gentleman, 'and let me
Barnaby, thus condescendingly addressed, produced his bird, but not
without much fear and trembling, and 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 manner, and 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 mind, than the raven's power of speech, and was indeed
particularly adapted to his habits and capacity. He desired to
have that done again, but despite his being very peremptory, and
notwithstanding that Barnaby coaxed to the utmost, Grip turned a
deaf ear to the request, and preserved a dead silence.
'Bring him along,' said the gentleman, pointing to the house. But
Grip, who had watched the action, anticipated his master, by
hopping on before them;--constantly flapping his wings, and
screaming 'cook!' meanwhile, as a hint perhaps that there was
company coming, and a small collation would be acceptable.
Barnaby and his mother walked on, on either side of the gentleman
on horseback, who surveyed each of them from time to time in a
proud and coarse manner, and occasionally thundered out some
question, the tone of which alarmed Barnaby so much that he could
find no answer, and, as a matter of course, could make him no
reply. On one of these occasions, when the gentleman appeared
disposed to exercise his horsewhip, the widow ventured to inform
him in a low voice and with tears in her eyes, that her son was of
'An idiot, eh?' said the gentleman, looking at Barnaby as he spoke.
'And how long hast thou been an idiot?'
'She knows,' was Barnaby's timid answer, pointing to his mother--
'I--always, I 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 minutes, I'll be
'Heaven has made none in more than twice ten years, sir,' said the
'Then why don't you shut him up? we pay enough for county
institutions, damn 'em. But thou'd rather drag him about to
excite charity--of course. Ay, I know thee.'
Now, this 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 respect, and
that was, that it was a pity there were not more like him, and that
because there were not, the country was going to rack and ruin
every day. He was in the commission of the peace, and could write
his name almost legibly; but his greatest qualifications were, that
he was more severe with poachers, was a better shot, a harder
rider, had better horses, kept better dogs, could eat more solid
food, drink more strong wine, go to bed every night more drunk and
get up every morning more sober, than any man in the county. In
knowledge of horseflesh he was almost equal to a farrier, in stable
learning he surpassed his own head groom, and in gluttony not a pig
on his estate was a match for him. He had no seat in Parliament
himself, but he was extremely patriotic, and usually drove his
voters up to the poll with his own hands. He was warmly attached
to church and state, and 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 idiot, and 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 steps, where a man was waiting to take his horse, and led
the way into a large hall, which, spacious as it was, was tainted
with the fumes of last night's stale debauch. Greatcoats, riding-
whips, bridles, top-boots, spurs, and such gear, were strewn about
on all sides, and formed, with some huge stags' antlers, and a few
portraits of dogs and horses, its principal embellishments.
Throwing himself into a great chair (in which, by the bye, he often
snored away the night, when he had been, according to his admirers,
a finer country gentleman than usual) he bade the man to tell his
mistress to come down: and presently there appeared, a little
flurried, as it seemed, by the unwonted summons, a lady much
younger than himself, who had the appearance of being in delicate
health, and 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 smiled, sat down at a little distance from him, and
glanced at Barnaby with a look of pity.
'He's an idiot, the woman says,' observed the gentleman, shaking
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 gentleman, thrusting his
hands into his breeches pockets. 'She'll tell thee so, of course.
Most likely he's hired, at so much a day. There. Get on. Make
him do something.'
Grip having by this time recovered his urbanity, condescended, at
Barnaby's solicitation, to repeat his various phrases of speech,
and to go through the whole of his performances with the utmost
success. The corks, and the never say die, afforded the gentleman
so much delight that he demanded the repetition of this part of the
entertainment, until Grip got into his basket, and positively
refused to say another word, good or bad. The lady too, was much
amused with him; and the closing point of his obstinacy so
delighted her husband that he burst into a roar of laughter, and
demanded his price.
Barnaby looked as though he didn't understand his meaning.
Probably he did not.
'His price,' said the gentleman, rattling the money in his pockets,
'what dost want for him? How much?'
'He's not to be sold,' replied Barnaby, shutting up the basket in a
great hurry, and throwing the strap over his shoulder. 'Mother,
'Thou seest how much of an idiot he is, book-learner,' said the
gentleman, looking scornfully at his wife. 'He can make a bargain.
What dost want for him, old woman?'
'He is my son's constant companion,' said the widow. 'He is not to
be sold, sir, indeed.'
'Not to be sold!' cried the gentleman, growing ten times redder,
hoarser, and louder than before. 'Not to be sold!'
'Indeed no,' she answered. 'We have never thought of parting with
him, sir, I do assure you.'
He was evidently about to make a very passionate retort, when a few
murmured words from his wife happening to catch his ear, he turned
sharply round, and said, 'Eh? What?'
'We can hardly expect them to sell the bird, against their own
desire,' she faltered. 'If they prefer to keep him--'
'Prefer to keep him!' he echoed. 'These people, who go tramping
about the country a-pilfering and vagabondising on all hands,
prefer to keep a bird, when 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 say, yes.'
Barnaby's mother pleaded guilty to the accusation, and hoped there
was no harm in it.
'No harm!' said the gentleman. 'No. No harm. No harm, ye old
rebel, not a bit of harm. If my clerk was here, I'd set ye in the
stocks, I would, or lay ye in jail for prowling up and down, on the
look-out for petty larcenies, ye limb of a gipsy. Here, Simon, put
these pilferers out, shove 'em into the road, out with 'em! Ye
don't want to sell the bird, ye that come here to beg, don't ye?
If they an't out in double-quick, set the dogs upon 'em!'
They waited for no further dismissal, but 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 Grip, who, excited by the noise, drew corks enough for a
city feast as they hurried down the avenue, and appeared to
congratulate himself beyond measure on having been the cause of the
disturbance. When they had nearly reached the lodge, another
servant, emerging from the shrubbery, feigned to be very active
in ordering them off, but this man put a crown into the widow's
hand, and whispering that his lady sent it, thrust them gently from
This incident only suggested to the widow's mind, when they halted
at an alehouse some miles further on, and heard the justice's
character as given by his friends, that perhaps something more than
capacity of stomach and tastes for the kennel and the stable, were
required to form either a perfect country gentleman, a thoroughbred
Englishman, or a genuine John Bull; and that possibly the terms
were sometimes misappropriated, not to say disgraced. She little
thought then, that a circumstance so slight would ever influence
their future fortunes; but time and experience enlightened her in
'Mother,' said Barnaby, as they were sitting next day in a waggon
which was to take them within ten miles of the capital, 'we're
going to London first, you said. Shall we see that blind man
She was about to answer 'Heaven forbid!' but checked herself, and
told him No, she thought not; why did he ask?
'He's a wise man,' said Barnaby, with 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 crowded, and 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 him, love?' she asked.
'Because,' said Barnaby, looking wistfully at her, 'he talked to me
about gold, which is a rare thing, and say what you will, a thing
you would like to have, I 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 night, and 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 gay, before, dear Barnaby.
You have always been contented.'
He laughed and bade her say that again, then cried, 'Ay ay--oh
yes,' and laughed once more. Then something passed that caught his
fancy, and the topic wandered from his mind, and was succeeded by
another just as fleeting.
But it was plain from what he had said, and from his returning to
the point more than once that day, and on the next, that the blind
man's visit, and indeed his words, had 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 it, by contrast, long ago; or whether the accident
(as he would deem it) of the blind man's pursuing the current of
his own remarks, had done so at the moment; or he had been
impressed by the mere circumstance of the man being blind, and,
therefore, unlike any one with whom he had talked before; it was
impossible to tell. She tried every means to discover, but in
vain; and the probability is that Barnaby himself was equally in
It filled her with uneasiness to find him harping on this string,
but all that she could do, was to lead him quickly to some other
subject, and to dismiss it from his brain. To caution him against
their visitor, to show any fear or suspicion in reference to him,
would only be, she feared, to increase that interest with which
Barnaby regarded him, and to strengthen his desire to meet him once
again. She hoped, by plunging into the crowd, to rid herself of
her terrible pursuer, and then, by journeying to a distance and
observing increased caution, if that were possible, to live again
unknown, in secrecy and peace.
They reached, in course of time, their halting-place within ten
miles of London, and lay there for the night, after bargaining to
be carried on for a trifle next day, in a light van which was
returning empty, and was to start at five o'clock in the morning.
The driver was punctual, the road good--save for the dust, the
weather being very hot and dry--and at seven in the forenoon of
Friday the second of June, one thousand seven hundred and eighty,
they alighted at the foot of Westminster Bridge, bade their
conductor farewell, and stood alone, together, on the scorching
pavement. For the freshness which night sheds upon such busy
thoroughfares had already departed, and the sun was shining with
Uncertain where to go next, and bewildered by the crowd of people
who were already astir, they sat down in one of the recesses on the
bridge, to rest. They soon became aware that the stream of life
was all pouring one way, and that a vast throng of persons were
crossing the river from the Middlesex to the Surrey shore, in
unusual haste and evident excitement. They were, for the most
part, in knots of two or three, or 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 view, which was common to
They were surprised to see that nearly every man in this great
concourse, which still came pouring past, without slackening in the
least, wore in his hat a blue cockade; and that the chance
passengers who were not so decorated, appeared timidly anxious to
escape observation or attack, and gave them the wall as if they
would conciliate them. This, however, was natural enough,
considering their inferiority in point of numbers; for the
proportion of those who wore blue cockades, to those who were
dressed as usual, was at least forty or fifty to one. There was no
quarrelling, however: the blue cockades went swarming on, passing
each other when they could, and making all the speed that was
possible in such a multitude; and exchanged nothing more than
looks, and very often not even those, with such of the passers-by
as were not of their number.
At first, the current of people had been confined to the two
pathways, and but a few more eager stragglers kept the road. But
after half an hour or so, the passage was completely blocked up by
the great press, which, being now closely wedged together, and
impeded by the carts and coaches it encountered, moved but slowly,
and was sometimes at a stand for five or ten minutes together.
After the lapse of nearly two hours, the numbers began to diminish
visibly, and gradually dwindling away, by little and little, left
the bridge quite clear, save that, now and then, some hot and dusty
man, with the cockade in his hat, and his coat thrown over his
shoulder, went panting by, fearful of being too late, or stopped to
ask which way his friends had taken, and being directed, hastened
on again like one refreshed. In this comparative solitude, which
seemed quite strange and novel after the late crowd, the widow had
for the first time an opportunity of inquiring of an old man who
came and sat beside them, what was the meaning of that great
'Why, where 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 Catholics, God bless
'What have all these men to do with that?' she said.
'What have they to do with it!' the old man replied. 'Why, how you
talk! Don't you know his lordship has declared he won't present it
to the house at all, unless 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 that, mother!'
'And they're mustering yonder, as 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 afternoon, and with reason too! Ay, ay. Let
his lordship alone. Let him alone. HE knows!' And so, with much
mumbling and chuckling and shaking of his forefinger, he rose, with
the assistance of his stick, and tottered off.
'Mother!' said Barnaby, 'that's a brave crowd he talks of. Come!'
'Not to join it!' cried his mother.
'Yes, yes,' he answered, plucking at her sleeve. 'Why not? Come!'
'You don't know,' she urged, 'what mischief they may do, where they
may lead you, what their meaning is. Dear Barnaby, for my sake--'
'For your sake!' he cried, patting her hand. 'Well! It IS for your
sake, mother. You remember what the blind man said, about the
gold. Here's a brave crowd! Come! Or wait till I come back--yes,
yes, wait here.'
She tried with all the earnestness her fears engendered, to turn
him from his purpose, but in vain. He was stooping down to buckle
on his shoe, when a hackney-coach passed them rather quickly, and a
voice inside called to the driver to stop.
'Young man,' said a voice within.
'Who's that?' cried Barnaby, looking up.
'Do you wear this ornament?' returned the stranger, holding out a
'In Heaven's name, no. Pray do not give it him!' exclaimed the
'Speak for yourself, woman,' said the man within the coach, coldly.
'Leave the young man to his choice; he's old enough to make it, and
to snap your apron-strings. He knows, without your telling,
whether he wears the sign of a loyal Englishman or not.'
Barnaby, trembling with impatience, cried, 'Yes! yes, yes, I do,'
as he had cried a dozen times already. The man threw him a
cockade, and 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 hat, Barnaby was adjusting it as he best could, and hurriedly
replying to the tears and entreaties of his mother, when two
gentlemen passed on the opposite side of the way. Observing them,
and seeing how Barnaby was occupied, they stopped, whispered
together for an instant, turned back, and came over to them.
'Why are you sitting here?' said one of them, who was dressed in a
plain suit of black, wore long lank hair, and carried a great cane.
'Why have you not gone with the rest?'
'I am going, sir,' replied Barnaby, finishing his task, and 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
'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
'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
'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
'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
'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 half-
stifled 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
'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!
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.
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
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
'Of his what?' said Mr Dennis with a strong oath.
'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
'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
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
'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
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
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 faintest-
hearted 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
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
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
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
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
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
'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 lads, if you'll give me your word to
disperse, I'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
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,
'The cause!' repeated the secretary, looking at him in a sort of
abstraction. 'There is no cause. The cause is 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
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
'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--
'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
'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!'
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
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
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
'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
'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
'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
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
'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.
'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 night, and for a week to come--that's all.'
'This is a genuine document,' said the locksmith, 'I know, for I
have seen the hand before. What threat does it imply? What devil
'A fiery devil,' retorted Sim; 'a flaming, furious devil. Don't
you put yourself in its way, or you're done for, my buck. Be
warned in time, G. Varden. Farewell!'
But here the two women threw themselves in his way--especially Miss
Miggs, who 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 rest, and then determine.
'I tell you,' said Mr Tappertit, 'that my mind is made up. My
bleeding country calls me and I go! Miggs, if you don't get out of
the way, I'll pinch you.'
Miss Miggs, still clinging to the rebel, screamed once
vociferously--but whether in the distraction of her mind, or
because of his having executed his threat, is uncertain.
'Release me,' said Simon, struggling to free himself from her
chaste, but spider-like embrace. 'Let me go! I have made
arrangements for you in an altered state of society, and mean to
provide for you comfortably in life--there! Will that satisfy
'Oh Simmun!' cried Miss Miggs. 'Oh my blessed Simmun! Oh mim!
what are my feelings at this conflicting moment!'
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