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Chapter 61

  • On that same night—events so crowd upon each other in convulsed and distracte_imes, that more than the stirring incidents of a whole life often becom_ompressed into the compass of four-and- twenty hours—on that same night, M_aredale, having strongly bound his prisoner, with the assistance of th_exton, and forced him to mount his horse, conducted him to Chigwell; ben_pon procuring a conveyance to London from that place, and carrying him a_nce before a justice. The disturbed state of the town would be, he knew, _ufficient reason for demanding the murderer’s committal to prison befor_aybreak, as no man could answer for the security of any of the watch-house_r ordinary places of detention; and to convey a prisoner through the street_hen the mob were again abroad, would not only be a task of great danger an_azard, but would be to challenge an attempt at rescue. Directing the sexto_o lead the horse, he walked close by the murderer’s side, and in this orde_hey reached the village about the middle of the night.
  • The people were all awake and up, for they were fearful of being burnt i_heir beds, and sought to comfort and assure each other by watching i_ompany. A few of the stoutest-hearted were armed and gathered in a body o_he green. To these, who knew him well, Mr Haredale addressed himself, briefl_arrating what had happened, and beseeching them to aid in conveying th_riminal to London before the dawn of day.
  • But not a man among them dared to help him by so much as the motion of _inger. The rioters, in their passage through the village, had menaced wit_heir fiercest vengeance, any person who should aid in extinguishing the fire, or render the least assistance to him, or any Catholic whomsoever. Thei_hreats extended to their lives and all they possessed. They were assemble_or their own protection, and could not endanger themselves by lending any ai_o him. This they told him, not without hesitation and regret, as they kep_loof in the moonlight and glanced fearfully at the ghostly rider, who, wit_is head drooping on his breast and his hat slouched down upon his brow, neither moved nor spoke.
  • Finding it impossible to persuade them, and indeed hardly knowing how to do s_fter what they had seen of the fury of the crowd, Mr Haredale besought the_hat at least they would leave him free to act for himself, and would suffe_im to take the only chaise and pair of horses that the place afforded. Thi_as not acceded to without some difficulty, but in the end they told him to d_hat he would, and go away from them in heaven’s name.
  • Leaving the sexton at the horse’s bridle, he drew out the chaise with his ow_ands, and would have harnessed the horses, but that the post-boy of th_illage—a soft-hearted, good-for-nothing, vagabond kind of fellow—was moved b_is earnestness and passion, and, throwing down a pitchfork with which he wa_rmed, swore that the rioters might cut him into mincemeat if they liked, bu_e would not stand by and see an honest gentleman who had done no wrong, reduced to such extremity, without doing what he could to help him. M_aredale shook him warmly by the hand, and thanked him from his heart. In fiv_inutes’ time the chaise was ready, and this good scapegrace in his saddle.
  • The murderer was put inside, the blinds were drawn up, the sexton took hi_eat upon the bar, Mr Haredale mounted his horse and rode close beside th_oor; and so they started in the dead of night, and in profound silence, fo_ondon.
  • The consternation was so extreme that even the horses which had escaped th_lames at the Warren, could find no friends to shelter them. They passed the_n the road, browsing on the stunted grass; and the driver told them, that th_oor beasts had wandered to the village first, but had been driven away, les_hey should bring the vengeance of the crowd on any of the inhabitants.
  • Nor was this feeling confined to such small places, where the people wer_imid, ignorant, and unprotected. When they came near London they met, in th_rey light of morning, more than one poor Catholic family who, terrified b_he threats and warnings of their neighbours, were quitting the city on foot, and who told them they could hire no cart or horse for the removal of thei_oods, and had been compelled to leave them behind, at the mercy of the crowd.
  • Near Mile End they passed a house, the master of which, a Catholic gentlema_f small means, having hired a waggon to remove his furniture by midnight, ha_ad it all brought down into the street, to wait the vehicle’s arrival, an_ave time in the packing. But the man with whom he made the bargain, alarme_y the fires that night, and by the sight of the rioters passing his door, ha_efused to keep it: and the poor gentleman, with his wife and servant an_heir little children, were sitting trembling among their goods in the ope_treet, dreading the arrival of day and not knowing where to turn or what t_o.
  • It was the same, they heard, with the public conveyances. The panic was s_reat that the mails and stage-coaches were afraid to carry passengers wh_rofessed the obnoxious religion. If the drivers knew them, or they admitte_hat they held that creed, they would not take them, no, though they offere_arge sums; and yesterday, people had been afraid to recognise Catholi_cquaintance in the streets, lest they should be marked by spies, and burn_ut, as it was called, in consequence. One mild old man— a priest, whos_hapel was destroyed; a very feeble, patient, inoffensive creature—who wa_rudging away, alone, designing to walk some distance from town, and then tr_is fortune with the coaches, told Mr Haredale that he feared he might no_ind a magistrate who would have the hardihood to commit a prisoner to jail, on his complaint. But notwithstanding these discouraging accounts they wen_n, and reached the Mansion House soon after sunrise.
  • Mr Haredale threw himself from his horse, but he had no need to knock at th_oor, for it was already open, and there stood upon the step a portly old man, with a very red, or rather purple face, who with an anxious expression o_ountenance, was remonstrating with some unseen personage upstairs, while th_orter essayed to close the door by degrees and get rid of him. With th_ntense impatience and excitement natural to one in his condition, Mr Haredal_hrust himself forward and was about to speak, when the fat old gentlema_nterposed:
  • ‘My good sir,’ said he, ‘pray let me get an answer. This is the sixth time _ave been here. I was here five times yesterday. My house is threatened wit_estruction. It is to be burned down to- night, and was to have been las_ight, but they had other business on their hands. Pray let me get an answer.’
  • ‘My good sir,’ returned Mr Haredale, shaking his head, ‘my house is burned t_he ground. But heaven forbid that yours should be. Get your answer. Be brief, in mercy to me.’
  • ‘Now, you hear this, my lord?’—said the old gentleman, calling up the stairs, to where the skirt of a dressing-gown fluttered on the landing-place. ‘Here i_ gentleman here, whose house was actually burnt down last night.’
  • ‘Dear me, dear me,’ replied a testy voice, ‘I am very sorry for it, but wha_m I to do? I can’t build it up again. The chief magistrate of the city can’_o and be a rebuilding of people’s houses, my good sir. Stuff and nonsense!’
  • ‘But the chief magistrate of the city can prevent people’s houses from havin_ny need to be rebuilt, if the chief magistrate’s a man, and not a dummy—can’_e, my lord?’ cried the old gentleman in a choleric manner.
  • ‘You are disrespectable, sir,’ said the Lord Mayor—‘leastways, disrespectful _ean.’
  • ‘Disrespectful, my lord!’ returned the old gentleman. ‘I was respectful fiv_imes yesterday. I can’t be respectful for ever. Men can’t stand on bein_espectful when their houses are going to be burnt over their heads, with the_n ’em. What am I to do, my lord? Am I to have any protection!’
  • ‘I told you yesterday, sir,’ said the Lord Mayor, ‘that you might have a_lderman in your house, if you could get one to come.’
  • ‘What the devil’s the good of an alderman?’ returned the choleric ol_entleman.
  • ‘—To awe the crowd, sir,’ said the Lord Mayor.
  • ‘Oh Lord ha’ mercy!’ whimpered the old gentleman, as he wiped his forehead i_ state of ludicrous distress, ‘to think of sending an alderman to awe _rowd! Why, my lord, if they were even so many babies, fed on mother’s milk, what do you think they’d care for an alderman! Will you come?’
  • ‘I!’ said the Lord Mayor, most emphatically: ‘Certainly not.’
  • ‘Then what,’ returned the old gentleman, ‘what am I to do? Am I a citizen o_ngland? Am I to have the benefit of the laws? Am I to have any return for th_ing’s taxes?’
  • ‘I don’t know, I am sure,’ said the Lord Mayor; ‘what a pity it is you’re _atholic! Why couldn’t you be a Protestant, and then you wouldn’t have go_ourself into such a mess? I’m sure I don’t know what’s to be done.—There ar_reat people at the bottom of these riots.—Oh dear me, what a thing it is t_e a public character!— You must look in again in the course of the day.—Woul_ javelin- man do?—Or there’s Philips the constable,—HE’S disengaged,—he’s no_ery old for a man at his time of life, except in his legs, and if you put hi_p at a window he’d look quite young by candle- light, and might frighten ’e_ery much.—Oh dear!—well!—we’ll see about it.’
  • ‘Stop!’ cried Mr Haredale, pressing the door open as the porter strove to shu_t, and speaking rapidly, ‘My Lord Mayor, I beg you not to go away. I have _an here, who committed a murder eight- and-twenty years ago. Half-a-doze_ords from me, on oath, will justify you in committing him to prison for re- examination. I only seek, just now, to have him consigned to a place o_afety. The least delay may involve his being rescued by the rioters.’
  • ‘Oh dear me!’ cried the Lord Mayor. ‘God bless my soul—and body— oh Lor!—wel_!—there are great people at the bottom of these riots, you know.—You reall_ustn’t.’
  • ‘My lord,’ said Mr Haredale, ‘the murdered gentleman was my brother; _ucceeded to his inheritance; there were not wanting slanderous tongues a_hat time, to whisper that the guilt of this most foul and cruel deed wa_ine—mine, who loved him, as he knows, in Heaven, dearly. The time has come, after all these years of gloom and misery, for avenging him, and bringing t_ight a crime so artful and so devilish that it has no parallel. Ever_econd’s delay on your part loosens this man’s bloody hands again, and lead_o his escape. My lord, I charge you hear me, and despatch this matter on th_nstant.’
  • ‘Oh dear me!’ cried the chief magistrate; ‘these an’t business hours, yo_now—I wonder at you—how ungentlemanly it is of you— you mustn’t—you reall_ustn’t.—And I suppose you are a Catholic too?’
  • ‘I am,’ said Mr Haredale.
  • ‘God bless my soul, I believe people turn Catholics a’purpose to vex an_orrit me,’ cried the Lord Mayor. ‘I wish you wouldn’t come here; they’ll b_etting the Mansion House afire next, and we shall have you to thank for it.
  • You must lock your prisoner up, sir—give him to a watchman—and—call again at _roper time. Then we’ll see about it!’
  • Before Mr Haredale could answer, the sharp closing of a door and drawing o_ts bolts, gave notice that the Lord Mayor had retreated to his bedroom, an_hat further remonstrance would be unavailing. The two clients retreate_ikewise, and the porter shut them out into the street.
  • ‘That’s the way he puts me off,’ said the old gentleman, ‘I can get no redres_nd no help. What are you going to do, sir?’
  • ‘To try elsewhere,’ answered Mr Haredale, who was by this time on horseback.
  • ‘I feel for you, I assure you—and well I may, for we are in a common cause,’ said the old gentleman. ‘I may not have a house to offer you to-night; let m_ender it while I can. On second thoughts though,’ he added, putting up _ocket-book he had produced while speaking, ‘I’ll not give you a card, for i_t was found upon you, it might get you into trouble. Langdale—that’s m_ame—vintner and distiller—Holborn Hill—you’re heartily welcome, if you’l_ome.’
  • Mr Haredale bowed, and rode off, close beside the chaise as before; determining to repair to the house of Sir John Fielding, who had th_eputation of being a bold and active magistrate, and fully resolved, in cas_he rioters should come upon them, to do execution on the murderer with hi_wn hands, rather than suffer him to be released.
  • They arrived at the magistrate’s dwelling, however, without molestation (fo_he mob, as we have seen, were then intent on deeper schemes), and knocked a_he door. As it had been pretty generally rumoured that Sir John wa_roscribed by the rioters, a body of thief-takers had been keeping watch i_he house all night. To one of them Mr Haredale stated his business, whic_ppearing to the man of sufficient moment to warrant his arousing the justice, procured him an immediate audience.
  • No time was lost in committing the murderer to Newgate; then a new building, recently completed at a vast expense, and considered to be of enormou_trength. The warrant being made out, three of the thief-takers bound hi_fresh (he had been struggling, it seemed, in the chaise, and had loosened hi_anacles); gagged him lest they should meet with any of the mob, and he shoul_all to them for help; and seated themselves, along with him, in the carriage.
  • These men being all well armed, made a formidable escort; but they drew up th_linds again, as though the carriage were empty, and directed Mr Haredale t_ide forward, that he might not attract attention by seeming to belong to it.
  • The wisdom of this proceeding was sufficiently obvious, for as they hurrie_hrough the city they passed among several groups of men, who, if they had no_upposed the chaise to be quite empty, would certainly have stopped it. Bu_hose within keeping quite close, and the driver tarrying to be asked n_uestions, they reached the prison without interruption, and, once there, ha_im out, and safe within its gloomy walls, in a twinkling.
  • With eager eyes and strained attention, Mr Haredale saw him chained, an_ocked and barred up in his cell. Nay, when he had left the jail, and stood i_he free street, without, he felt the iron plates upon the doors, with hi_ands, and drew them over the stone wall, to assure himself that it was real; and to exult in its being so strong, and rough, and cold. It was not until h_urned his back upon the jail, and glanced along the empty streets, s_ifeless and quiet in the bright morning, that he felt the weight upon hi_eart; that he knew he was tortured by anxiety for those he had left at home; and that home itself was but another bead in the long rosary of his regrets.