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Chapter 4 Whitechapel

  • "This morning Arabel and I, and he with us," Miss Barrett wrote, "went in _ab to Vere Street where we had a little business, and he followed us as usua_nto a shop and out of it again, and was at my heels when I stepped up int_he carriage. Having turned, I said 'Flush,' and Arabel looked round fo_lush—there was no Flush! He had been caught up in that moment, from  _under_he wheels, do you understand?" Mr. Browning understood perfectly well. Mis_arrett had forgotten the chain; therefore Flush was stolen. Such, in the yea_846, was the law of Wimpole Street and its neighbourhood.
  • Nothing, it is true, could exceed the apparent solidity and security o_impole Street itself. As far as an invalid could walk or a bath-chair coul_rundle nothing met the eye but an agreeable prospect of four-storeyed houses, plate-glass windows and mahogany doors. Even a carriage and pair, in th_ourse of an afternoon's airing, need not, if the coachman were discreet, leave the limits of decorum and respectability. But if you were not a_nvalid, if you did not possess a carriage and pair, if you were—and man_eople were—active and able-bodied and fond of walking, then you might se_ights and hear language and smell smells, not a stone's-throw from Wimpol_treet, that threw doubts upon the solidity even of Wimpole Street itself. S_r. Thomas Beames found when about this time he took it into his head to g_alking about London. He was surprised; indeed he was shocked. Splendi_uildings raised themselves in Westminster, yet just behind them were ruine_heds in which human beings lived herded together above herds of cows—"two i_ach seven feet of space." He felt that he ought to tell people what he ha_een. Yet how could one describe politely a bedroom in which two or thre_amilies lived above a cow-shed, when the cow-shed had no ventilation, whe_he cows were milked and killed and eaten under the bedroom? That was a task, as Mr. Beames found when he came to attempt it, that taxed all the resource_f the English language. And yet he felt that he ought to describe what he ha_een in the course of an afternoon's walk through some of the mos_ristocratic parishes in London. The risk of typhus was so great. The ric_ould not know what dangers they were running. He could not altogether hol_is tongue when he found what he did find in Westminster and Paddington an_arylebone. For instance, here was an old mansion formerly belonging to som_reat nobleman. Relics of marble mantelpieces remained. The rooms wer_anelled and the banisters were carved, and yet the floors were rotten, th_alls dripped with filth; hordes of half-naked men and women had taken u_heir lodging in the old banqueting-halls. Then he walked on. Here a_nterprising builder had pulled down the old family mansion. He had run up _erry-built tenement house in its place. The rain dripped through the roof an_he wind blew through the walls. He saw a child dipping a can into a bright- green stream and asked if they drank that water. Yes, and washed in it too, for the landlord only allowed water to be turned on twice a week. Such sight_ere the more surprising, because one might come upon them in the most sedat_nd civilised quarters of London—"the most aristocratic parishes have thei_hare." Behind Miss Barrett's bedroom, for instance, was one of the wors_lums in London. Mixed up with that respectability was this filth. But ther_ere certain quarters, of course, which had long been given over to the poo_nd were left undisturbed. In Whitechapel, or in a triangular space of groun_t the bottom of the Tottenham Court Road, poverty and vice and misery ha_red and seethed and propagated their kind for centuries without interference.
  • A dense mass of aged buildings in St. Giles's was "wellnigh a pena_ettlement, a pauper metropolis in itself." Aptly enough, where the poo_onglomerated thus, the settlement was called a Rookery. For there huma_eings swarmed on top of each other as rooks swarm and blacken tree-tops. Onl_he buildings here were not trees; they were hardly any longer buildings. The_ere cells of brick intersected by lanes which ran with filth. All day th_anes buzzed with half-dressed human beings; at night there poured back agai_nto the stream the thieves, beggars, and prostitutes who had been plyin_heir trade in the West End. The police could do nothing. No single wayfare_ould do anything except hurry through as fast as he could and perhaps drop _int, as Mr. Beames did, with many quotations, evasions and euphemisms, tha_ll was not quite as it should be. Cholera would come, and perhaps the hin_hat cholera would give would not be quite so evasive.
  • But in the summer of 1846 that hint had not yet been given; and the only saf_ourse for those who lived in Wimpole Street and its neighbourhood was to kee_trictly within the respectable area and to lead your dog on a chain. If on_orgot, as Miss Barrett forgot, one paid the penalty, as Miss Barrett was no_o pay it. The terms upon which Wimpole Street lived cheek by jowl with St.
  • Giles's were laid down. St. Giles's stole what St. Giles's could; Wimpol_treet paid what Wimpole Street must. Thus Arabel at once "began to comfort m_y showing how certain it was that I should recover him for ten pounds a_ost." Ten pounds, it was reckoned, was about the price that Mr. Taylor woul_sk for a cocker spaniel. Mr. Taylor was the head of the gang. As soon as _ady in Wimpole Street lost her dog she went to Mr. Taylor; he named hi_rice, and it was paid; or if not, a brown paper parcel was delivered i_impole Street a few days later containing the head and paws of the dog. Such, at least, had been the experience of a lady in the neighbourhood who had trie_o make terms with Mr. Taylor. But Miss Barrett of course intended to pay.
  • Therefore when she got home she told her brother Henry, and Henry went to se_r. Taylor that afternoon. He found him "smoking a cigar in a room wit_ictures"—Mr. Taylor was said to make an income of two or three thousand _ear out of the dogs of Wimpole Street—and Mr. Taylor promised that he woul_onfer with his "Society" and that the dog would be returned next day.
  • Vexatious as it was, and especially annoying at a moment when Miss Barret_eeded all her money, such were the inevitable consequences of forgetting i_846 to keep one's dog on a chain.
  • But for Flush things were very different. Flush, Miss Barrett reflected,
  • "doesn't know that we can recover him"; Flush had never mastered th_rinciples of human society. "All this night he will howl and lament, I kno_erfectly," Miss Barrett wrote to Mr. Browning on the afternoon of Tuesday, the 1st September. But while Miss Barrett wrote to Mr. Browning, Flush wa_oing through the most terrible experience of his life. He was bewildered i_he extreme. One moment he was in Vere Street, among ribbons and laces; th_ext he was tumbled head over heels into a bag; jolted rapidly across streets, and at length was tumbled out—here. He found himself in complete darkness. H_ound himself in chillness and dampness. As his giddiness left him he made ou_ few shapes in a low dark room—broken chairs, a tumbled mattress. Then he wa_eized and tied tightly by the leg to some obstacle. Something sprawled on th_loor—whether beast or human being, he could not tell. Great boots an_raggled skirts kept stumbling in and out. Flies buzzed on scraps of old mea_hat were decaying on the floor. Children crawled out from dark corners an_inched his ears. He whined, and a heavy hand beat him over the head. H_owered down on the few inches of damp brick against the wall. Now he coul_ee that the floor was crowded with animals of different kinds. Dogs tore an_orried a festering bone that they had got between them. Their ribs stood ou_rom their coats—they were half famished, dirty, diseased, uncombed, unbrushed; yet all of them, Flush could see, were dogs of the highes_reeding, chained dogs, footmen's dogs, like himself.
  • He lay, not daring even to whimper, hour after hour. Thirst was his wors_uffering; but one sip of the thick greenish water that stood in a pail nea_im disgusted him; he would rather die than drink another. Yet a majesti_reyhound was drinking greedily. Whenever the door was kicked open he looke_p. Miss Barrett—was it Miss Barrett? Had she come at last? But it was only _airy ruffian, who kicked them all aside and stumbled to a broken chair upo_hich he flung himself. Then gradually the darkness thickened. He coul_carcely make out what shapes those were, on the floor, on the mattress, o_he broken chairs. A stump of candle was stuck on the ledge over th_ireplace. A flare burnt in the gutter outside. By its flickering, coars_ight Flush could see terrible faces passing outside, leering at the window.
  • Then in they came, until the small crowded room became so crowded that he ha_o shrink back and lie even closer against the wall. These horribl_onsters—some were ragged, others were flaring with paint an_eathers—squatted on the floor; hunched themselves over the table. They bega_o drink; they cursed and struck each other. Out tumbled, from the bags tha_ere dropped on the floor, more dogs—lap dogs, setters, pointers with thei_ollars still on them; and a giant cockatoo that flustered and dashed its wa_rom corner to corner shrieking "Pretty Poll," "Pretty Poll," with an accen_hat would have terrified its mistress, a widow in Maida Vale. Then th_omen's bags were opened, and out were tossed on to the table bracelets an_ings and brooches such as Flush had seen Miss Barrett wear and Mis_enrietta. The demons pawed and clawed them; cursed and quarrelled over them.
  • The dogs barked. The children shrieked, and the splendid cockatoo—such a bir_s Flush had often seen pendant in a Wimpole Street window—shrieked "Prett_oll! Pretty Poll!" faster and faster until a slipper was thrown at it and i_lapped its great yellow-stained dove-grey wings in frenzy. Then the candl_oppled over and fell. The room was dark. It grew steadily hotter and hotter; the smell, the heat, were unbearable; Flush's nose burnt; his coat twitched.
  • And still Miss Barrett did not come.
  • Miss Barrett lay on her sofa in Wimpole Street. She was vexed; she wa_orried, but she was not seriously alarmed. Of course Flush would suffer; h_ould whine and bark all night; but it was only a question of a few hours. Mr.
  • Taylor would name his sum; she would pay it; Flush would be returned.
  • The morning of Wednesday the 2nd September dawned in the rookeries o_hitechapel. The broken windows gradually became smeared with grey. Light fel_pon the hairy faces of ruffians lying sprawled upon the floor. Flush wok_rom a trance that had veiled his eyes and once more realised the truth. Thi_as now the truth—this room, these ruffians, these whining, snapping, tightl_ethered dogs, this murk, this dampness. Could it be true that he had been i_ shop, with ladies, among ribbons, only yesterday? Was there such a place a_impole Street? Was there a room where fresh water sparkled in a purple jar; had he lain on cushions; had he been given a chicken's wing nicely roasted; and had he been torn with rage and jealousy and bitten a man with yello_loves? The whole of that life and its emotions floated away, dissolved, became unreal.
  • Here, as the dusty light filtered in, a woman heaved herself off a sack an_taggered out to fetch beer. The drinking and the cursing began again. A fa_oman held him up by his ears and pinched his ribs, and some odious joke wa_ade about him—there was a roar of laughter as she threw him on the floo_gain. The door was kicked open and banged to. Whenever that happened h_ooked up. Was it Wilson? Could it possibly be Mr. Browning? Or Miss Barrett?
  • But no—it was only another thief, another murderer; he cowered back at th_ere sight of those draggled skirts, of those hard, horny boots. Once he trie_o gnaw a bone that was hurled his way. But his teeth could not meet in ston_lesh and the rank smell disgusted him. His thirst increased and he was force_o lap a little of the green water that had been spilt from the pail. But a_ednesday wore on and he became hotter and more parched and still more sore, lying on the broken boards, one thing merged in another. He scarcely notice_hat was happening. It was only when the door opened that he raised his hea_nd looked. No, it was not Miss Barrett.
  • Miss Barrett, lying on the sofa in Wimpole Street, was becoming anxious. Ther_as some hitch in the proceedings. Taylor had promised that he would go dow_o Whitechapel on Wednesday afternoon and confer with "the Society." Ye_ednesday afternoon, Wednesday evening passed and still Taylor did not come.
  • This could only mean, she supposed, that the price was going to b_aised—which was inconvenient enough at the moment. Still, of course, sh_ould have to pay it. "I must have my Flush, you know," she wrote to Mr.
  • Browning. "I can't run any risk and bargain and haggle." So she lay on th_ofa writing to Mr. Browning and listening for a knock at the door. But Wilso_ame up with the letters; Wilson came up with the hot water. It was time fo_ed and Flush had not come.
  • Thursday the 3rd of September dawned in Whitechapel. The door opened and shut.
  • The red setter who had been whining all night beside Flush on the floor wa_auled off by a ruffian in a moleskin vest—to what fate? Was it better to b_illed or to stay here? Which was worse—this life or that death? The racket, the hunger and the thirst, the reeking smells of the place—and once, Flus_emembered, he had detested the scent of eau de cologne—were fast obliteratin_ny clear image, any single desire. Fragments of old memories began turning i_is head. Was that the voice of old Dr. Mitford shouting in the field? Wa_hat Kerenhappock gossiping with the baker at the door? There was a rattlin_n the room and he thought he heard Miss Mitford tying up a bunch o_eraniums. But it was only the wind—for it was stormy today—battering at th_rown paper in the broken window pane. It was only some drunken voice ravin_n the gutter. It was only the old hag in the corner mumbling on and on and o_s she fried a herring in a pan over a fire. He had been forgotten an_eserted. No help was coming. No voice spoke to him—the parrots cried "Prett_oll, Pretty Poll" and the canaries kept up their senseless cheeping an_hirping.
  • Then again evening darkened the room; the candle was stuck in its saucer; th_oarse light flared outside; hordes of sinister men with bags on their backs, of garish women with painted faces, began to shuffle in at the door and t_ling themselves down on the broken beds and tables. Another night had folde_ts blackness over Whitechapel. And the rain dripped steadily through a hol_n the roof and drummed into a pail that had been stood to catch it. Mis_arrett had not come.
  • Thursday dawned in Wimpole Street. There was no sign of Flush—no message fro_aylor. Miss Barrett was very much alarmed. She made enquiries. She summone_er brother Henry, and cross-examined him. She found out that he had tricke_er. "The archfield" Taylor had come according to his promise the nigh_efore. He had stated his terms—six guineas for the Society and half a guine_or himself. But Henry, instead of telling her, had told Mr. Barrett, with th_esult, of course, that Mr. Barrett had ordered him not to pay, and to concea_he visit from his sister. Miss Barrett was "very vexed and angry." She bad_er brother to go at once to Mr. Taylor and pay the money. Henry refused and
  • "talked of Papa." But it was no use talking of Papa, she protested. While the_alked of Papa, Flush would be killed. She made up her mind. If Henry woul_ot go, she would go herself: "… if people won't do as I choose, I shall g_own tomorrow morning, and bring Flush back with me," she wrote to Mr.
  • Browning.
  • But Miss Barrett now found that it was easier to say this than to do it. I_as almost as difficult for her to go to Flush as for Flush to come to her.
  • All Wimpole Street was against her. The news that Flush was stolen and tha_aylor demanded a ransom was now public property. Wimpole Street wa_etermined to make a stand against Whitechapel. Blind Mr. Boyd sent word tha_n his opinion it would be "an awful sin" to pay the ransom. Her father an_er brother were in league against her and were capable of any treachery i_he interests of their class. But worst of all—far worse—Mr. Browning himsel_hrew all his weight, all his eloquence, all his learning, all his logic, o_he side of Wimpole Street and against Flush. If Miss Barrett gave way t_aylor, he wrote, she was giving way to tyranny; she was giving way t_lackmailers; she was increasing the power of evil over right, of wickednes_ver innocence. If she gave Taylor his demand, "… how will the poor owner_are who have not money enough for their dogs' redemption?" His imaginatio_ook fire; he imagined what he would say if Taylor asked him even for fiv_hillings; he would say,  _"You_  are responsible for the proceedings of you_ang, and  _you_  I mark—don't talk nonsense to me about cutting off heads o_aws. Be as sure as that I stand here and tell you, I will spend my whole lif_n putting you down, the nuisance you declare yourself—and by every imaginabl_eans I will be the death of you and as many of your accomplices as I ca_iscover—but  _you_  I have discovered and will never lose sight of… ." So Mr.
  • Browning would have replied to Taylor if he had had the good fortune to mee_hat gentleman. For indeed, he went on, catching a later post with a secon_etter that same Thursday afternoon, "… it is horrible to fancy how all th_ppressors in their several ranks may, if they choose, twitch back to them b_he heartstrings after various modes the weak and silent whose secret the_ave found out." He did not blame Miss Barrett—nothing she did could b_nything but perfectly right, perfectly acceptable to him. Still, he continue_n Friday morning, "I think it lamentable weakness… ." If she encourage_aylor who stole dogs, she encouraged Mr. Barnard Gregory who stol_haracters. Indirectly, she was responsible for all the wretches who cut thei_hroats or fly the country because some blackmailer like Barnard Gregory too_own a directory and blasted their characters. "But why write this string o_ruisms about the plainest thing in the world?" So Mr. Browning stormed an_ociferated from New Cross twice daily.
  • Lying on her sofa, Miss Barrett read the letters. How easy it could have bee_o yield—how easy it would have been to say, "Your good opinion is worth mor_o me than a hundred cocker spaniels." How easy it would have been to sin_ack on her pillows and sigh, "I am a weak woman; I know nothing of law an_ustice; decide for me." She had only to refuse to pay the ransom; she ha_nly to defy Taylor and his society. And if Flush were killed, if the dreadfu_arcel came and she opened it and out dropped his head and paws, there wa_obert Browning by her side to assure her that she had done right and earne_is respect. But Miss Barrett was not to be intimidated. Miss Barrett took u_er pen and refuted Robert Browning. It was all very well, she said, to quot_onne; to cite the case of Gregory; to invent spirited replies to Mr.
  • Taylor—she would have done the same had Taylor struck her; had Gregory defame_er—would that they had! But what would Mr. Browning have done if the banditt_ad stolen her; had her in their power; threatened to cut off her ears an_end them by post to New Cross? Whatever he would have done, her mind was mad_p. Flush was helpless. Her duty was to him. "But Flush, poor Flush, who ha_oved me so faithfully; have I a right to sacrifice  _him_  in his innocence, for the sake of any Mr. Taylor's guilt in the world?" Whatever Mr. Brownin_ight say, she was going to rescue Flush, even if she went down into the jaw_f Whitechapel to fetch him, even if Robert Browning despised her for doin_o.
  • On Saturday, therefore, with Mr. Browning's letter lying open on the tabl_efore her, she began to dress. She read his "one word more—in all this, _abour against the execrable policy of the world's husbands, fathers, brother_nd domineerers in general." So, if she went to Whitechapel she was sidin_gainst Robert Browning, and in favour of fathers, brothers and domineerers i_eneral. Still, she went on dressing. A dog howled in the mews. It was tie_p, helpless in the power of cruel men. It seemed to her to cry as it howled:
  • "Think of Flush." She put on her shoes, her cloak, her hat. She glanced at Mr.
  • Browning's letter once more. "I am about to marry you," she read. Still th_og howled. She left her room and went downstairs.
  • Henry Barrett met her and told her that in his opinion she might well b_obbed and murdered if she did what she threatened. She told Wilson to call _ab. All trembling but submissive, Wilson obeyed. The cab came. Miss Barret_old Wilson to get in. Wilson, though convinced that death awaited her, go_n. Miss Barrett told the cabman to drive to Manning Street, Shoreditch. Mis_arrett got in herself and off they drove. Soon they were beyond plate-glas_indows, the mahogany doors and the area railings. They were in a world tha_iss Barrett had never seen, had never guessed at. They were in a world wher_ows are herded under the bedroom floor, where whole families sleep in room_ith broken windows; in a world where water is turned on only twice a week, i_ world where vice and poverty breed vice and poverty. They had come to _egion unknown to respectable cab-drivers. The cab stopped; the driver aske_is way at a public-house. "Out came two or three men. 'Oh, you want to fin_r. Taylor, I daresay!'" In this mysterious world a cab with two ladies coul_nly come upon one errand, and that errand was already known. It was siniste_n the extreme. One of the men ran into a house, and came out saying that Mr.
  • Taylor "'wasn't at home! but wouldn't I get out?' Wilson, in an aside o_error, entreated me not to think of such a thing." A gang of men and boy_ressed round the cab. "Then wouldn't I see Mrs. Taylor?" the man asked. Mis_arrett had no wish whatever to see Mrs. Taylor; but now an immense fat woma_ame out of the house, "fat enough to have had an easy conscience all he_ife," and informed Miss Barrett that her husband was out: "might be in in _ew minutes, or in so many hours—wouldn't I like to get out and wait?" Wilso_ugged at her gown. Imagine waiting in the house of that woman! It was ba_nough to sit in the cab with the gang of men and boys pressing round them. S_iss Barrett parleyed with the "immense feminine bandit" from the cab. Sh_aid Mr. Taylor had her dog; Mr. Taylor had promised to restore her dog; woul_r. Taylor bring back her dog to Wimpole Street for certain that very day? "O_es, certainly," said the fat woman with the most gracious of smiles. She di_elieve that Taylor had left home precisely on that business. And she "poise_er head to right and left with the most easy grace."
  • So the cab turned round and left Manning Street, Shoreditch. Wilson was o_pinion that "we had escaped with our lives barely." Miss Barrett herself ha_een alarmed. "Plain enough it was that the gang was strong there. Th_ociety, the 'Fancy' … had their roots in the ground," she wrote. Her min_eemed with thoughts, her eyes were full of pictures. This, then, was what la_n the other side of Wimpole Street—these faces, these houses. She had see_ore while she sat in the cab at the public-house than she had seen during th_ive years that she had lain in the back bedroom at Wimpole Street. "The face_f those men!" she exclaimed. They were branded on her eyeballs. The_timulated her imagination as "the divine marble presences," the busts on th_ookcase, had never stimulated it. Here lived women like herself; while sh_ay on her sofa, reading, writing, they lived thus. But the cab was no_rundling along between four-storeyed houses again. Here were the familia_oors and windows: the avenue of pointed brick, the brass knockers, th_egular curtains. Here was Wimpole Street and number fifty. Wilson spran_ut—with what relief to find herself in safety can be imagined. But Mis_arrett, perhaps, hesitated a moment. She still saw "the faces of those men."
  • They were to come before her again years later when she was sitting on a sunn_alcony in Italy.[[5]](footnotes.xml#footnote_5) They were to inspire the mos_ivid passages in  _Aurora Leigh._  But now the butler had opened the door, and she went upstairs to her room again.
  • Saturday was the fifth day of Flush's imprisonment. Almost exhausted, almos_opeless, he lay panting in his dark corner of the teeming floor. Door_lammed and banged. Rough voices cried. Women screamed. Parrots chattered a_hey had chattered to widows in Maida Vale, but now evil old women merel_ursed at them. Insects crawled in his fur, but he was too weak, to_ndifferent to shake his coat. All Flush's past life and its man_cenes—Reading, the greenhouse, Miss Mitford, Mr. Kenyon, the bookcases, th_usts, the peasants on the blind—had faded like snowflakes dissolved in _auldron. If he still held to hope, it was to something nameless and formless; the featureless face of someone he still called "Miss Barrett." She stil_xisted; all the rest of the world was gone; but she still existed, thoug_uch gulfs lay between them that it was impossible, almost, that she shoul_each him still. Darkness began to fall again, such darkness as seemed almos_ble to crush out his last hope—Miss Barrett.
  • In truth, the forces of Wimpole Street were still, even at this last moment, battling to keep Flush and Miss Barrett apart. On Saturday afternoon she la_nd waited for Taylor to come, as the immensely fat woman had promised. A_ast he came, but he had not brought the dog. He sent up a message—Let Mis_arrett pay him six guineas on the spot, and he would go straight t_hitechapel and fetch the dog "on his word of honour." What "the archfiend"
  • Taylor's word of honour might be worth, Miss Barrett could not say; but "ther_eemed no other way for it"; Flush's life was at stake; she counted out th_uineas and sent them down to Taylor in the passage. But as ill luck woul_ave it, as Taylor waited in the passage among the umbrellas, the engravings, the pile carpet and other valuable objects, Alfred Barrett came in. The sigh_f the archfiend Taylor actually in the house made him lose his temper. H_urst into a rage. He called him "a swindler, and a liar and a thief."
  • Thereupon Mr. Taylor cursed him back. What was far worse, he swore that "as h_oped to be saved, we should never see our dog again," and rushed out of th_ouse. Next morning, then, the blood-stained parcel would arrive.
  • Miss Barrett flung on her clothes again and rushed downstairs. Where wa_ilson? Let her call a cab. She was going back to Shoreditch instantly. He_amily came running to prevent her. It was getting dark. She was exhauste_lready. The adventure was risky enough for a man in health. For her it wa_adness. So they told her. Her brothers, her sisters, all came round he_hreatening her, dissuading her, "crying out against me for being 'quite mad'
  • and obstinate and wilful—I was called as many names as Mr. Taylor." But sh_tood her ground. At last they realised the extent of her folly. Whatever th_isk might be they must give way to her. Septimus promised if Ba would retur_o her room "and be in good humour" that he would go to Taylor's himself an_ay the money and bring back the dog.
  • So the dusk of the 5th of September faded into the blackness of night i_hitechapel. The door of the room was once more kicked open. A hairy ma_auled Flush by the scruff of his neck out of his corner. Looking up into th_ideous face of his old enemy, Flush did not know whether he was being take_o be killed or to be freed. Save for one phantom memory, he did not care. Th_an stooped. What were those great fingers fumbling at his throat for? Was i_ knife or a chain? Stumbling, half blinded, on legs that staggered, Flush wa_ed out into the open air.
  • In Wimpole Street Miss Barrett could not eat her dinner. Was Flush dead, o_as Flush alive? She did not know. At eight o'clock there was a rap on th_oor; it was the usual letter from Mr. Browning. But as the door opened t_dmit the letter, something rushed in also: Flush. He made straight for hi_urple jar. It was filled three times over; and still he drank. Miss Barret_atched the dazed, bewildered dirty dog, drinking. "He was not so enthusiasti_bout seeing me as I expected," she remarked. No, there was only one thing i_he world he wanted—clean water.
  • After all, Miss Barrett had but glanced at the faces of those men and sh_emembered them all her life. Flush had lain at their mercy in their midst fo_ive whole days. Now as he lay on cushions once more, cold water was the onl_hing that seemed to have any substance, any reality. He drank continually.
  • The old gods of the bedroom—the bookcase, the wardrobe, the busts—seemed t_ave lost their substance. This room was no longer the whole world; it wa_nly a shelter; only a dell arched over by one trembling dock-leaf in a fores_here wild beasts prowled and venomous snakes coiled; where behind every tre_urked a murderer ready to pounce. As he lay dazed and exhausted on the sof_t Miss Barrett's feet the howls of tethered dogs, the screams of birds i_error still sounded in his ears. When the door opened he started, expecting _airy man with a knife—it was only Mr. Kenyon with a book; it was only Mr.
  • Browning with his yellow gloves. But he shrank away from Mr. Kenyon and Mr.
  • Browning now. He trusted them no longer. Behind those smiling, friendly face_ere treachery and cruelty and deceit. Their caresses were hollow. He dreade_ven walking with Wilson to the pillar-box. He would not stir without hi_hain. When they said, "'Poor Flush, did the naughty men take you away?' h_ut up his head and moaned and yelled." A whip cracking sent him bolting dow_he area-steps into safety. Indoors he crept closer to Miss Barrett on th_ofa. She alone had not deserted him. He still kept some faith in her.
  • Gradually some substance returned to her. Exhausted, trembling, dirty and ver_hin he lay on the sofa at her feet.
  • As the days passed and the memory of Whitechapel grew fainter, Flush, lyin_lose to Miss Barrett on the sofa, read her feelings more clearly than eve_efore. They had been parted; now they were together. Indeed they had neve_een so much akin. Every start she gave, every movement she made, passe_hrough him too. And she seemed now to be perpetually starting and moving. Th_elivery of a parcel even made her jump. She opened the parcel; with tremblin_ingers she took out a pair of thick boots. She hid them instantly in th_orner of the cupboard. Then she lay down as if nothing had happened; ye_omething had happened. When they were alone she rose and took a diamon_ecklace from a drawer. She took out the box that held Mr. Browning's letters.
  • She laid the boots, the necklace and the letters all in a carpet-box togethe_nd then—as if she heard a step on the stair—she pushed the box under the be_nd lay down hastily, covering herself with her shawl again. Such signs o_ecrecy and stealth must herald, Flush felt, some approaching crisis. Wer_hey about to fly together? Were they about to escape together from this awfu_orld of dog-stealers and tyrants? Oh, that it were possible! He trembled an_hined with excitement; but in her low voice Miss Barrett bade him be quiet, and instantly he was quiet. She was very quiet too. She lay perfectly still o_he sofa directly any of her brothers or sisters came in; she lay and talke_o Mr. Barrett as she always lay and talked to Mr. Barrett.
  • But on Saturday, the 12th of September, Miss Barrett did what Flush had neve_nown her do before. She dressed herself as if to go out directly afte_reakfast. Moreover, as he watched her dress, Flush knew perfectly well fro_he expression on her face that he was not to go with her. She was bound o_ecret business of her own. At ten Wilson came into the room. She also wa_ressed as if for a walk. They went out together; and Flush lay on the sof_nd waited for their return. An hour or so later Miss Barrett came back alone.
  • She did not look at him—she seemed to notice nothing. She drew off her glove_nd for a moment he saw a gold ring shine on one of the fingers of her lef_and. Then he saw her slip the ring from her hand and hide it in the darknes_f a drawer. Then she laid herself down as usual on the sofa. He lay by he_ide scarcely daring to breathe, for whatever had happened, and something ha_appened, it must at all costs be concealed.
  • At all costs the life of the bedroom must go on as usual. Yet everything wa_ifferent. The very movement of the blind as it drew in and out seemed t_lush like a signal. And as the lights and shadows passed over the busts the_oo seemed to be hinting and beckoning. Everything in the room seemed to b_ware of change; to be prepared for some event. And yet all was silent; al_as concealed. The brothers and sisters came in and out as usual; Mr. Barret_ame as usual in the evening. He looked as usual to see that the chop wa_inished, the wine drunk. Miss Barrett talked and laughed and gave no sig_hen anyone was in the room that she was hiding anything. Yet when they wer_lone she pulled out the box from under the bed and filled it hastily, stealthily, listening as she did so. And the signs of strain wer_nmistakable. On Sunday the church bells were ringing. "What bells are those?"
  • somebody asked. "Marylebone Church bells," said Miss Henrietta. Miss Barrett, Flush saw, went deadly white. But nobody else noticed anything.
  • So Monday passed, and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday. Over them all lay _lanket of silence, of eating and talking and lying still on the sofa a_sual. Flush, tossing in uneasy sleep, dreamt that they were couched togethe_nder ferns and leaves in a vast forest; then the leaves were parted and h_oke. It was dark; but in the darkness he saw Wilson come stealthily into th_oom, and take the box from beneath the bed and quietly carry it outside. Thi_as on Friday night, the 18th of September. All Saturday morning he lay as on_ies who knows that at any moment now a handkerchief may drop, a low whistl_ay sound and the signal will be given for death or for life. He watched Mis_arrett dress herself. At a quarter to four the door opened and Wilson cam_n. Then the signal was given—Miss Barrett lifted him in her arms. She ros_nd walked to the door. For a moment they stood looking round the room. Ther_as the sofa and by it Mr. Browning's armchair. There were the busts and th_ables. The sun filtered through the ivy leaves and the blind with peasant_alking blew gently out. All was as usual. All seemed to expect a million mor_uch moments to come to them; but for Miss Barrett and Flush this was th_ast. Very quietly Miss Barrett shut the door.
  • Very quietly they slipped downstairs, past the drawing-room, the library, th_ining-room. All looked as they usually looked; smelt as they usually smelt; all were quiet as if sleeping in the hot September afternoon. On the mat i_he hall Catiline lay sleeping too. They gained the front door and ver_uietly turned the handle. A cab was waiting outside.
  • "To Hodgson's," said Miss Barrett. She spoke almost in a whisper. Flush sat o_er knee very still. Not for anything in the whole world would he have broke_hat tremendous silence.