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Chapter 60

  • 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-
  • morrow.
  • 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.