Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 50

  • 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.’
  • ‘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!’