They were among the first to reach the tavern, but they had not been ther_any 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 o_hom, but especially the latter, greeted Barnaby with the utmost warmth, an_aid him many compliments on the prowess he had shown.
‘Which,’ said Dennis, with an oath, as he rested his bludgeon in a corner wit_is hat upon it, and took his seat at the same table with them, ‘it does m_ood 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 her_imes. Bring something to eat and drink here. I’m disgusted with humanity.’
‘On what account?’ asked Mr Tappertit, who had been quenching his fiery fac_n a half-gallon can. ‘Don’t you consider this a good beginning, mister?’
‘Give me security that it an’t a ending,’ rejoined the hangman. ‘When tha_oldier 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 woul_ave had, if we’d gone to work my way) says, “My lads, if you’ll give me you_ord 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 lik_ pack of tame curs as they are. Ah,’ said the hangman, in a tone of dee_isgust, ‘it makes me blush for my feller creeturs. I wish I had been born _x, 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 _as 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 an_arnaby, ‘for his manner of conducting himself this day.’
With which mournful review of their proceedings, Mr Dennis sought consolatio_n cold boiled beef and beer; but without at all relaxing the grim an_issatisfied expression of his face, the gloom of which was rather deepene_han dissipated by their grateful influence.
The company who were thus libelled might have retaliated by strong words, i_ot by blows, but they were dispirited and worn out. The greater part of the_ad fasted since morning; all had suffered extremely from the excessive heat; and between the day’s shouting, exertion, and excitement, many had quite los_heir voices, and so much of their strength that they could hardly stand. The_hey were uncertain what to do next, fearful of the consequences of what the_ad done already, and sensible that after all they had carried no point, bu_ad indeed left matters worse than they had found them. Of those who had com_o The Boot, many dropped off within an hour; such of them as were reall_onest and sincere, never, after the morning’s experience, to return, or t_old any communication with their late companions. Others remained but t_efresh themselves, and then went home desponding; others who had theretofor_een regular in their attendance, avoided the place altogether. The half-doze_risoners whom the Guards had taken, were magnified by report int_alf-a-hundred at least; and their friends, being faint and sober, s_lackened in their energy, and so drooped beneath these dispiritin_nfluences, 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’_ntrance 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 _itting posture.
‘Oh nowhere, nowhere,’ he returned with excessive mildness. ‘The streets ar_illed with blue cockades. I rather thought you might have been among them. _m 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? Yo_re not in my service.’
‘Muster Gashford,’ remonstrated Dennis, ‘we belong to the cause, don’t we?’
‘The cause!’ repeated the secretary, looking at him in a sort of abstraction.
‘There is no cause. The cause is lost.’
‘Oh yes. You have heard, I suppose? The petition is rejected by a hundred an_inety-two, to six. It’s quite final. We might have spared ourselves som_rouble. That, and my lord’s vexation, are the only circumstances I regret. _m quite satisfied in all other respects.’
As he said this, he took a penknife from his pocket, and putting his hat upo_is knee, began to busy himself in ripping off the blue cockade which he ha_orn all day; at the same time humming a psalm tune which had been ver_opular 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 los_ow to pursue the subject. At length Hugh, after some elbowing and winkin_etween himself and Mr Dennis, ventured to stay his hand, and to ask him wh_e meddled with that riband in his hat.
‘Because,’ said the secretary, looking up with something between a snarl and _mile; ‘because to sit still and wear it, or to fall asleep and wear it, is _ockery. That’s all, friend.’
‘What would you have us do, master!’ cried Hugh.
‘Nothing,’ returned Gashford, shrugging his shoulders, ‘nothing. When my lor_as reproached and threatened for standing by you, I, as a prudent man, woul_ave had you do nothing. When the soldiers were trampling you under thei_orses’ feet, I would have had you do nothing. When one of them was struc_own by a daring hand, and I saw confusion and dismay in all their faces, _ould have had you do nothing—just what you did, in short. This is the youn_an 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 hundre_ounds, or some such trifle, for his apprehension; and in case it shoul_nclude another man who dropped into the lobby from the stairs above,’ sai_ashford, coldly; ‘still, do nothing.’
‘Fire and fury, master!’ cried Hugh, starting up. ‘What have we done, that yo_hould talk to us like this!’
‘Nothing,’ returned Gashford with a sneer. ‘If you are cast into prison; i_he young man—’ here he looked hard at Barnaby’s attentive face—‘is dragge_rom us and from his friends; perhaps from people whom he loves, and whom hi_eath would kill; is thrown into jail, brought out and hanged before thei_yes; still, do nothing. You’ll find it your best policy, I have no doubt.’
‘Come on!’ cried Hugh, striding towards the door. ‘Dennis— Barnaby—come on!’
‘Where? To do what?’ said Gashford, slipping past him, and standing with hi_ack against it.
‘Anywhere! Anything!’ cried Hugh. ‘Stand aside, master, or the window wil_erve 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 pleasantes_aillery; ‘you are such an excitable creature— but you’ll drink with me befor_ou go?’
‘Oh, yes—certainly,’ growled Dennis, drawing his sleeve across his thirst_ips. ‘No malice, brother. Drink with Muster Gashford!’
Hugh wiped his heated brow, and relaxed into a smile. The artful secretar_aughed outright.
‘Some liquor here! Be quick, or he’ll not stop, even for that. He is a man o_uch desperate ardour!’ said the smooth secretary, whom Mr Dennis corroborate_ith sundry nods and muttered oaths—‘Once roused, he is a fellow of suc_ierce determination!’
Hugh poised his sturdy arm aloft, and clapping Barnaby on the back, bade hi_ear nothing. They shook hands together—poor Barnaby evidently possessed wit_he idea that he was among the most virtuous and disinterested heroes in th_orld—and Gashford laughed again.
‘I hear,’ he said smoothly, as he stood among them with a great measure o_iquor in his hand, and filled their glasses as quickly and as often as the_hose, ‘I hear—but I cannot say whether it be true or false—that the men wh_re loitering in the streets to- night are half disposed to pull down a Romis_hapel or two, and that they only want leaders. I even heard mention of thos_n 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 Barnab_nd me. They must be frightened out of that. Leaders are wanted, are they? No_oys!’
‘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 th_ouse, 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 th_eserted room for a long time, then bent his steps towards the busy town, an_alked into the streets.
They were filled with people, for the rumour of that day’s proceedings ha_ade a great noise. Those persons who did not care to leave home, were a_heir doors or windows, and one topic of discourse prevailed on every side.
Some reported that the riots were effectually put down; others that they ha_roken out again: some said that Lord George Gordon had been sent under _trong guard to the Tower; others that an attempt had been made upon th_ing’s life, that the soldiers had been again called out, and that the nois_f musketry in a distant part of the town had been plainly heard within a_our. As it grew darker, these stories became more direful and mysterious; an_ften, when some frightened passenger ran past with tidings that the rioter_ere not far off, and were coming up, the doors were shut and barred, lowe_indows made secure, and as much consternation engendered, as if the city wer_nvaded by a foreign army.
Gashford walked stealthily about, listening to all he heard, and diffusing o_onfirming, whenever he had an opportunity, such false intelligence as suite_is own purpose; and, busily occupied in this way, turned into Holborn for th_wentieth time, when a great many women and children came flying along th_treet—often panting and looking back—and the confused murmur of numerou_oices struck upon his ear. Assured by these tokens, and by the red ligh_hich began to flash upon the houses on either side, that some of his friend_ere indeed approaching, he begged a moment’s shelter at a door which opene_s he passed, and running with some other persons to an upper window, looke_ut upon the crowd.
They had torches among them, and the chief faces were distinctly visible. Tha_hey had been engaged in the destruction of some building was sufficientl_pparent, and that it was a Catholic place of worship was evident from th_poils they bore as trophies, which were easily recognisable for the vestment_f priests, and rich fragments of altar furniture. Covered with soot, an_irt, and dust, and lime; their garments torn to rags; their hair hangin_ildly about them; their hands and faces jagged and bleeding with the wound_f rusty nails; Barnaby, Hugh, and Dennis hurried on before them all, lik_ideous madmen. After them, the dense throng came fighting on: some singing; some shouting in triumph; some quarrelling among themselves; some menacing th_pectators as they passed; some with great wooden fragments, on which the_pent their rage as if they had been alive, rending them limb from limb, an_urling 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 ding_loth, a senseless, ghastly heap. Thus—a vision of coarse faces, with here an_here 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 bewilderin_orror, 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 forgotte_ll through life, and yet so many things that could not be observed in on_istracting glimpse—it flitted onward, and was gone.
As it passed away upon its work of wrath and ruin, a piercing scream wa_eard. A knot of persons ran towards the spot; Gashford, who just then emerge_nto 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 thin_his looks a little more like business!’