The three worthies turned their faces towards The Boot, with the intention o_assing the night in that place of rendezvous, and of seeking the repose the_o much needed in the shelter of their old den; for now that the mischief an_estruction they had purposed were achieved, and their prisoners were safel_estowed for the night, they began to be conscious of exhaustion, and to fee_he wasting effects of the madness which had led to such deplorable results.
Notwithstanding the lassitude and fatigue which oppressed him now, in commo_ith his two companions, and indeed with all who had taken an active share i_hat night’s work, Hugh’s boisterous merriment broke out afresh whenever h_ooked at Simon Tappertit, and vented itself—much to that gentleman’_ndignation—in such shouts of laughter as bade fair to bring the watch upo_hem, and involve them in a skirmish, to which in their present worn-ou_ondition they might prove by no means equal. Even Mr Dennis, who was not a_ll particular on the score of gravity or dignity, and who had a great relis_or his young friend’s eccentric humours, took occasion to remonstrate wit_im on this imprudent behaviour, which he held to be a species of suicide,
tantamount to a man’s working himself off without being overtaken by the law,
than which he could imagine nothing more ridiculous or impertinent.
Not abating one jot of his noisy mirth for these remonstrances, Hugh reele_long between them, having an arm of each, until they hove in sight of Th_oot, and were within a field or two of that convenient tavern. He happened b_reat good luck to have roared and shouted himself into silence by this time.
They were proceeding onward without noise, when a scout who had been creepin_bout the ditches all night, to warn any stragglers from encroaching furthe_n what was now such dangerous ground, peeped cautiously from his hiding-
place, and called to them to stop.
‘Stop! and why?’ said Hugh.
Because (the scout replied) the house was filled with constables and soldiers;
having been surprised that afternoon. The inmates had fled or been taken int_ustody, he could not say which. He had prevented a great many people fro_pproaching nearer, and he believed they had gone to the markets and suc_laces to pass the night. He had seen the distant fires, but they were all ou_ow. He had heard the people who passed and repassed, speaking of them too,
and could report that the prevailing opinion was one of apprehension an_ismay. He had not heard a word of Barnaby— didn’t even know his name—but i_ad been said in his hearing that some man had been taken and carried off t_ewgate. Whether this was true or false, he could not affirm.
The three took counsel together, on hearing this, and debated what it might b_est to do. Hugh, deeming it possible that Barnaby was in the hands of th_oldiers, and at that moment under detention at The Boot, was for advancin_tealthily, and firing the house; but his companions, who objected to suc_ash measures unless they had a crowd at their backs, represented that i_arnaby were taken he had assuredly been removed to a stronger prison; the_ould never have dreamed of keeping him all night in a place so weak and ope_o attack. Yielding to this reasoning, and to their persuasions, Hug_onsented to turn back and to repair to Fleet Market; for which place, i_eemed, a few of their boldest associates had shaped their course, o_eceiving the same intelligence.
Feeling their strength recruited and their spirits roused, now that there wa_ new necessity for action, they hurried away, quite forgetful of the fatigu_nder which they had been sinking but a few minutes before; and soon arrive_t their new place of destination.
Fleet Market, at that time, was a long irregular row of wooden sheds an_enthouses, occupying the centre of what is now called Farringdon Street. The_ere jumbled together in a most unsightly fashion, in the middle of the road;
to the great obstruction of the thoroughfare and the annoyance of passengers,
who were fain to make their way, as they best could, among carts, baskets,
barrows, trucks, casks, bulks, and benches, and to jostle with porters,
hucksters, waggoners, and a motley crowd of buyers, sellers, pick- pockets,
vagrants, and idlers. The air was perfumed with the stench of rotten leave_nd faded fruit; the refuse of the butchers’ stalls, and offal and garbage o_ hundred kinds. It was indispensable to most public conveniences in thos_ays, that they should be public nuisances likewise; and Fleet Marke_aintained the principle to admiration.
To this place, perhaps because its sheds and baskets were a tolerabl_ubstitute for beds, or perhaps because it afforded the means of a hast_arricade in case of need, many of the rioters had straggled, not only tha_ight, but for two or three nights before. It was now broad day, but th_orning being cold, a group of them were gathered round a fire in a public-
house, drinking hot purl, and smoking pipes, and planning new schemes for to-
Hugh and his two friends being known to most of these men, were received wit_ignal marks of approbation, and inducted into the most honourable seats. Th_oom-door was closed and fastened to keep intruders at a distance, and the_hey proceeded to exchange news.
‘The soldiers have taken possession of The Boot, I hear,’ said Hugh. ‘Wh_nows anything about it?’
Several cried that they did; but the majority of the company having bee_ngaged in the assault upon the Warren, and all present having been concerne_n one or other of the night’s expeditions, it proved that they knew no mor_han Hugh himself; having been merely warned by each other, or by the scout,
and knowing nothing of their own knowledge.
‘We left a man on guard there to-day,’ said Hugh, looking round him, ‘who i_ot here. You know who it is—Barnaby, who brought the soldier down, a_estminster. Has any man seen or heard of him?’
They shook their heads, and murmured an answer in the negative, as each ma_ooked round and appealed to his fellow; when a noise was heard without, and _an was heard to say that he wanted Hugh—that he must see Hugh.
‘He is but one man,’ cried Hugh to those who kept the door; ‘let him come in.’
‘Ay, ay!’ muttered the others. ‘Let him come in. Let him come in.’
The door was accordingly unlocked and opened. A one-armed man, with his hea_nd face tied up with a bloody cloth, as though he had been severely beaten,
his clothes torn, and his remaining hand grasping a thick stick, rushed i_mong them, and panting for breath, demanded which was Hugh.
‘Here he is,’ replied the person he inquired for. ‘I am Hugh. What do you wan_ith me?’
‘I have a message for you,’ said the man. ‘You know one Barnaby.’
‘What of him? Did he send the message?’
‘Yes. He’s taken. He’s in one of the strong cells in Newgate. He defende_imself as well as he could, but was overpowered by numbers. That’s hi_essage.’
‘When did you see him?’ asked Hugh, hastily.
‘On his way to prison, where he was taken by a party of soldiers. They took _y-road, and not the one we expected. I was one of the few who tried to rescu_im, and he called to me, and told me to tell Hugh where he was. We made _ood struggle, though it failed. Look here!’
He pointed to his dress and to his bandaged head, and still panting fo_reath, glanced round the room; then faced towards Hugh again.
‘I know you by sight,’ he said, ‘for I was in the crowd on Friday, and o_aturday, and yesterday, but I didn’t know your name. You’re a bold fellow, _now. So is he. He fought like a lion tonight, but it was of no use. I did m_est, considering that I want this limb.’
Again he glanced inquisitively round the room or seemed to do so, for his fac_as nearly hidden by the bandage—and again facing sharply towards Hugh,
grasped his stick as if he half expected to be set upon, and stood on th_efensive.
If he had any such apprehension, however, he was speedily reassured by th_emeanour of all present. None thought of the bearer of the tidings. He wa_ost in the news he brought. Oaths, threats, and execrations, were vented o_ll sides. Some cried that if they bore this tamely, another day would se_hem all in jail; some, that they should have rescued the other prisoners, an_his would not have happened. One man cried in a loud voice, ‘Who’ll follow m_o Newgate!’ and there was a loud shout and general rush towards the door.
But Hugh and Dennis stood with their backs against it, and kept them back,
until the clamour had so far subsided that their voices could be heard, whe_hey called to them together that to go now, in broad day, would be madness;
and that if they waited until night and arranged a plan of attack, they migh_elease, not only their own companions, but all the prisoners, and burn dow_he jail.
‘Not that jail alone,’ cried Hugh, ‘but every jail in London. They shall hav_o place to put their prisoners in. We’ll burn them all down; make bonfires o_hem every one! Here!’ he cried, catching at the hangman’s hand. ‘Let al_ho’re men here, join with us. Shake hands upon it. Barnaby out of jail, an_ot a jail left standing! Who joins?’
Every man there. And they swore a great oath to release their friends fro_ewgate next night; to force the doors and burn the jail; or perish in th_ire themselves.