They were not long in reaching the barracks, for the officer who commanded th_arty was desirous to avoid rousing the people by the display of militar_orce in the streets, and was humanely anxious to give as little opportunit_s possible for any attempt at rescue; knowing that it must lead to bloodshe_nd loss of life, and that if the civil authorities by whom he wa_ccompanied, empowered him to order his men to fire, many innocent person_ould probably fall, whom curiosity or idleness had attracted to the spot. H_herefore led the party briskly on, avoiding with a merciful prudence the mor_ublic and crowded thoroughfares, and pursuing those which he deemed leas_ikely to be infested by disorderly persons. This wise proceeding not onl_nabled them to gain their quarters without any interruption, but completel_affled a body of rioters who had assembled in one of the main streets, through which it was considered certain they would pass, and who remaine_athered together for the purpose of releasing the prisoner from their hands, long after they had deposited him in a place of security, closed the barrack- gates, and set a double guard at every entrance for its better protection.
Arrived at this place, poor Barnaby was marched into a stone- floored room, where there was a very powerful smell of tobacco, a strong thorough draught o_ir, and a great wooden bedstead, large enough for a score of men. Severa_oldiers in undress were lounging about, or eating from tin cans; militar_ccoutrements dangled on rows of pegs along the whitewashed wall; and som_alf- dozen men lay fast asleep upon their backs, snoring in concert. Afte_emaining here just long enough to note these things, he was marched ou_gain, and conveyed across the parade-ground to another portion of th_uilding.
Perhaps a man never sees so much at a glance as when he is in a situation o_xtremity. The chances are a hundred to one, that if Barnaby had lounged in a_he gate to look about him, he would have lounged out again with a ver_mperfect idea of the place, and would have remembered very little about it.
But as he was taken handcuffed across the gravelled area, nothing escaped hi_otice. The dry, arid look of the dusty square, and of the bare bric_uilding; the clothes hanging at some of the windows; and the men in thei_hirt-sleeves and braces, lolling with half their bodies out of the others; the green sun-blinds at the officers’ quarters, and the little scanty trees i_ront; the drummer-boys practising in a distant courtyard; the men at drill o_he parade; the two soldiers carrying a basket between them, who winked t_ach other as he went by, and slily pointed to their throats; the spruc_erjeant who hurried past with a cane in his hand, and under his arm a claspe_ook with a vellum cover; the fellows in the ground- floor rooms, furbishin_nd brushing up their different articles of dress, who stopped to look at him, and whose voices as they spoke together echoed loudly through the empt_alleries and passages;— everything, down to the stand of muskets before th_uard-house, and the drum with a pipe-clayed belt attached, in one corner, impressed itself upon his observation, as though he had noticed them in th_ame place a hundred times, or had been a whole day among them, in place o_ne brief hurried minute.
He was taken into a small paved back yard, and there they opened a great door, plated with iron, and pierced some five feet above the ground with a few hole_o let in air and light. Into this dungeon he was walked straightway; an_aving locked him up there, and placed a sentry over him, they left him to hi_editations.
The cell, or black hole, for it had those words painted on the door, was ver_ark, and having recently accommodated a drunken deserter, by no means clean.
Barnaby felt his way to some straw at the farther end, and looking towards th_oor, tried to accustom himself to the gloom, which, coming from the brigh_unshine out of doors, was not an easy task.
There was a kind of portico or colonnade outside, and this obstructed even th_ittle light that at the best could have found its way through the smal_pertures in the door. The footsteps of the sentinel echoed monotonously as h_aced its stone pavement to and fro (reminding Barnaby of the watch he had s_ately kept himself); and as he passed and repassed the door, he made the cel_or an instant so black by the interposition of his body, that his going awa_gain seemed like the appearance of a new ray of light, and was quite _ircumstance to look for.
When the prisoner had sat sometime upon the ground, gazing at the chinks, an_istening to the advancing and receding footsteps of his guard, the man stoo_till upon his post. Barnaby, quite unable to think, or to speculate on wha_ould be done with him, had been lulled into a kind of doze by his regula_ace; but his stopping roused him; and then he became aware that two men wer_n conversation under the colonnade, and very near the door of his cell.
How long they had been talking there, he could not tell, for he had falle_nto an unconsciousness of his real position, and when the footsteps ceased, was answering aloud some question which seemed to have been put to him by Hug_n the stable, though of the fancied purport, either of question or reply, notwithstanding that he awoke with the latter on his lips, he had n_ecollection whatever. The first words that reached his ears, were these:
‘Why is he brought here then, if he has to be taken away again so soon?’
‘Why where would you have him go! Damme, he’s not as safe anywhere as amon_he king’s troops, is he? What would you do with him? Would you hand him ove_o a pack of cowardly civilians, that shake in their shoes till they wear th_oles out, with trembling at the threats of the ragamuffins he belongs to?’
‘That’s true enough.’
‘True enough!—I’ll tell you what. I wish, Tom Green, that I was a commissione_nstead of a non-commissioned officer, and that I had the command of tw_ompanies—only two companies—of my own regiment. Call me out to stop thes_iots—give me the needful authority, and half-a-dozen rounds of bal_artridge—’
‘Ay!’ said the other voice. ‘That’s all very well, but they won’t give th_eedful authority. If the magistrate won’t give the word, what’s the office_o do?’
Not very well knowing, as it seemed, how to overcome this difficulty, th_ther man contented himself with damning the magistrates.
‘With all my heart,’ said his friend.
‘Where’s the use of a magistrate?’ returned the other voice. ‘What’s _agistrate in this case, but an impertinent, unnecessary, unconstitutiona_ort of interference? Here’s a proclamation. Here’s a man referred to in tha_roclamation. Here’s proof against him, and a witness on the spot. Damme! Tak_im out and shoot him, sir. Who wants a magistrate?’
‘When does he go before Sir John Fielding?’ asked the man who had spoke_irst.
‘To-night at eight o’clock,’ returned the other. ‘Mark what follows. Th_agistrate commits him to Newgate. Our people take him to Newgate. The rioter_elt our people. Our people retire before the rioters. Stones are thrown, insults are offered, not a shot’s fired. Why? Because of the magistrates. Dam_he magistrates!’
When he had in some degree relieved his mind by cursing the magistrates i_arious other forms of speech, the man was silent, save for a low growling, still having reference to those authorities, which from time to time escape_im.
Barnaby, who had wit enough to know that this conversation concerned, and ver_early concerned, himself, remained perfectly quiet until they ceased t_peak, when he groped his way to the door, and peeping through the air-holes, tried to make out what kind of men they were, to whom he had been listening.
The one who condemned the civil power in such strong terms, was _erjeant—engaged just then, as the streaming ribands in his cap announced, o_he recruiting service. He stood leaning sideways against a pillar nearl_pposite the door, and as he growled to himself, drew figures on the pavemen_ith his cane. The other man had his back towards the dungeon, and Barnab_ould only see his form. To judge from that, he was a gallant, manly, handsom_ellow, but he had lost his left arm. It had been taken off between the elbo_nd the shoulder, and his empty coat-sleeve hung across his breast.
It was probably this circumstance which gave him an interest beyond any tha_is companion could boast of, and attracted Barnaby’s attention. There wa_omething soldierly in his bearing, and he wore a jaunty cap and jacket.
Perhaps he had been in the service at one time or other. If he had, it coul_ot have been very long ago, for he was but a young fellow now.
‘Well, well,’ he said thoughtfully; ‘let the fault be where it may, it makes _an sorrowful to come back to old England, and see her in this condition.’
‘I suppose the pigs will join ’em next,’ said the serjeant, with a_mprecation on the rioters, ‘now that the birds have set ’em the example.’
‘The birds!’ repeated Tom Green.
‘Ah—birds,’ said the serjeant testily; ‘that’s English, an’t it?’
‘I don’t know what you mean.’
‘Go to the guard-house, and see. You’ll find a bird there, that’s got thei_ry as pat as any of ’em, and bawls “No Popery,” like a man—or like a devil, as he says he is. I shouldn’t wonder. The devil’s loose in London somewhere.
Damme if I wouldn’t twist his neck round, on the chance, if I had my way.’
The young man had taken two or three steps away, as if to go and see thi_reature, when he was arrested by the voice of Barnaby.
‘It’s mine,’ he called out, half laughing and half weeping—‘my pet, my frien_rip. Ha ha ha! Don’t hurt him, he has done no harm. I taught him; it’s m_ault. Let me have him, if you please. He’s the only friend I have left now.
He’ll not dance, or talk, or whistle for you, I know; but he will for me, because he knows me and loves me—though you wouldn’t think it—very well. Yo_ouldn’t hurt a bird, I’m sure. You’re a brave soldier, sir, and wouldn’t har_ woman or a child—no, no, nor a poor bird, I’m certain.’
This latter adjuration was addressed to the serjeant, whom Barnaby judged fro_is red coat to be high in office, and able to seal Grip’s destiny by a word.
But that gentleman, in reply, surlily damned him for a thief and rebel as h_as, and with many disinterested imprecations on his own eyes, liver, blood, and body, assured him that if it rested with him to decide, he would put _inal stopper on the bird, and his master too.
‘You talk boldly to a caged man,’ said Barnaby, in anger. ‘If I was on th_ther side of the door and there were none to part us, you’d change you_ote—ay, you may toss your head—you would! Kill the bird—do. Kill anything yo_an, and so revenge yourself on those who with their bare hands untied coul_o as much to you!’
Having vented his defiance, he flung himself into the furthest corner of hi_rison, and muttering, ‘Good bye, Grip—good bye, dear old Grip!’ shed tear_or the first time since he had been taken captive; and hid his face in th_traw.
He had had some fancy at first, that the one-armed man would help him, o_ould give him a kind word in answer. He hardly knew why, but he hoped an_hought so. The young fellow had stopped when he called out, and checkin_imself in the very act of turning round, stood listening to every word h_aid. Perhaps he built his feeble trust on this; perhaps on his being young, and having a frank and honest manner. However that might be, he built on sand.
The other went away directly he had finished speaking, and neither answere_im, nor returned. No matter. They were all against him here: he might hav_nown as much. Good bye, old Grip, good bye!
After some time, they came and unlocked the door, and called to him to com_ut. He rose directly, and complied, for he would not have them think he wa_ubdued or frightened. He walked out like a man, and looked from face to face.
None of them returned his gaze or seemed to notice it. They marched him bac_o the parade by the way they had brought him, and there they halted, among _ody of soldiers, at least twice as numerous as that which had taken hi_risoner in the afternoon. The officer he had seen before, bade him in a fe_rief words take notice that if he attempted to escape, no matter ho_avourable a chance he might suppose he had, certain of the men had orders t_ire upon him, that moment. They then closed round him as before, and marche_im off again.
In the same unbroken order they arrived at Bow Street, followed and beset o_ll sides by a crowd which was continually increasing. Here he was place_efore a blind gentleman, and asked if he wished to say anything. Not he. Wha_ad he got to tell them? After a very little talking, which he was careless o_nd quite indifferent to, they told him he was to go to Newgate, and took hi_way.
He went out into the street, so surrounded and hemmed in on every side b_oldiers, that he could see nothing; but he knew there was a great crowd o_eople, by the murmur; and that they were not friendly to the soldiers, wa_oon rendered evident by their yells and hisses. How often and how eagerly h_istened for the voice of Hugh! There was not a voice he knew among them all.
Was Hugh a prisoner too? Was there no hope!
As they came nearer and nearer to the prison, the hootings of the people gre_ore violent; stones were thrown; and every now and then, a rush was mad_gainst the soldiers, which they staggered under. One of them, close befor_im, smarting under a blow upon the temple, levelled his musket, but th_fficer struck it upwards with his sword, and ordered him on peril of his lif_o desist. This was the last thing he saw with any distinctness, for directl_fterwards he was tossed about, and beaten to and fro, as though in _empestuous sea. But go where he would, there were the same guards about him.
Twice or thrice he was thrown down, and so were they; but even then, he coul_ot elude their vigilance for a moment. They were up again, and had close_bout him, before he, with his wrists so tightly bound, could scramble to hi_eet. Fenced in, thus, he felt himself hoisted to the top of a low flight o_teps, and then for a moment he caught a glimpse of the fighting in the crowd, and of a few red coats sprinkled together, here and there, struggling t_ejoin their fellows. Next moment, everything was dark and gloomy, and he wa_tanding in the prison lobby; the centre of a group of men.
A smith was speedily in attendance, who riveted upon him a set of heavy irons.
Stumbling on as well as he could, beneath the unusual burden of these fetters, he was conducted to a strong stone cell, where, fastening the door with locks, and bolts, and chains, they left him, well secured; having first, unseen b_im, thrust in Grip, who, with his head drooping and his deep black plume_ough and rumpled, appeared to comprehend and to partake, his master’s falle_ortunes.