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Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 57

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 57

Barnaby, armed as we have seen, continued to pace up and down
before the stable-door; glad to be alone again, and heartily
rejoicing in the unaccustomed silence and tranquillity. After the
whirl of noise and riot in which the last two days had been passed,
the pleasures of solitude and peace were enhanced a thousandfold.
He felt quite happy; and as he leaned upon his staff and mused, a
bright smile overspread his face, and none but cheerful visions
floated into his brain.

Had he no thoughts of her, whose sole delight he was, and whom he
had unconsciously plunged in such bitter sorrow and such deep
affliction? Oh, yes. She was at the heart of all his cheerful
hopes and proud reflections. It was she whom all this honour and
distinction were to gladden; the joy and profit were for her. What
delight it gave her to hear of the bravery of her poor boy! Ah!
He would have known that, without Hugh's telling him. And what a
precious thing it was to know she lived so happily, and heard with
so much pride (he pictured to himself her look when they told her)
that he was in such high esteem: bold among the boldest, and
trusted before them all! And when these frays were over, and the
good lord had conquered his enemies, and they were all at peace
again, and he and she were rich, what happiness they would have in
talking of these troubled times when he was a great soldier: and
when they sat alone together in the tranquil twilight, and she had
no longer reason to be anxious for the morrow, what pleasure would
he have in the reflection that this was his doing--his--poor
foolish Barnaby's; and in patting her on the cheek, and saying with
a merry laugh, 'Am I silly now, mother--am I silly now?'

With a lighter heart and step, and eyes the brighter for the happy
tear that dimmed them for a moment, Barnaby resumed his walk; and
singing gaily to himself, kept guard upon his quiet post.

His comrade Grip, the partner of his watch, though fond of basking
in the sunshine, preferred to-day to walk about the stable; having
a great deal to do in the way of scattering the straw, hiding under
it such small articles as had been casually left about, and
haunting Hugh's bed, to which he seemed to have taken a particular
attachment. Sometimes Barnaby looked in and called him, and then
he came hopping out; but he merely did this as a concession to his
master's weakness, and soon returned again to his own grave
pursuits: peering into the straw with his bill, and rapidly
covering up the place, as if, Midas-like, he were whispering
secrets to the earth and burying them; constantly busying himself
upon the sly; and affecting, whenever Barnaby came past, to look up
in the clouds and have nothing whatever on his mind: in short,
conducting himself, in many respects, in a more than usually
thoughtful, deep, and mysterious manner.

As the day crept on, Barnaby, who had no directions forbidding him
to eat and drink upon his post, but had been, on the contrary,
supplied with a bottle of beer and a basket of provisions,
determined to break his fast, which he had not done since morning.
To this end, he sat down on the ground before the door, and putting
his staff across his knees in case of alarm or surprise, summoned
Grip to dinner.

This call, the bird obeyed with great alacrity; crying, as he
sidled up to his master, 'I'm a devil, I'm a Polly, I'm a kettle,
I'm a Protestant, No Popery!' Having learnt this latter sentiment
from the gentry among whom he had lived of late, he delivered it
with uncommon emphasis.

'Well said, Grip!' cried his master, as he fed him with the
daintiest bits. 'Well said, old boy!'

'Never say die, bow wow wow, keep up your spirits, Grip Grip Grip,
Holloa! We'll all have tea, I'm a Protestant kettle, No Popery!'
cried the raven.

'Gordon for ever, Grip!' cried Barnaby.

The raven, placing his head upon the ground, looked at his master
sideways, as though he would have said, 'Say that again!'
Perfectly understanding his desire, Barnaby repeated the phrase a
great many times. The bird listened with profound attention;
sometimes repeating the popular cry in a low voice, as if to
compare the two, and try if it would at all help him to this new
accomplishment; sometimes flapping his wings, or barking; and
sometimes in a kind of desperation drawing a multitude of corks,
with extraordinary viciousness.

Barnaby was so intent upon his favourite, that he was not at first
aware of the approach of two persons on horseback, who were riding
at a foot-pace, and coming straight towards his post. When he
perceived them, however, which he did when they were within some
fifty yards of him, he jumped hastily up, and ordering Grip within
doors, stood with both hands on his staff, waiting until he should
know whether they were friends or foes.

He had hardly done so, when he observed that those who advanced
were a gentleman and his servant; almost at the same moment he
recognised Lord George Gordon, before whom he stood uncovered, with
his eyes turned towards the ground.

'Good day!' said Lord George, not reining in his horse until he was
close beside him. 'Well!'

'All quiet, sir, all safe!' cried Barnaby. 'The rest are away--
they went by that path--that one. A grand party!'

'Ay?' said Lord George, looking thoughtfully at him. 'And you?'

'Oh! They left me here to watch--to mount guard--to keep
everything secure till they come back. I'll do it, sir, for your
sake. You're a good gentleman; a kind gentleman--ay, you are.
There are many against you, but we'll be a match for them, never

'What's that?' said Lord George--pointing to the raven who was
peeping out of the stable-door--but still looking thoughtfully, and
in some perplexity, it seemed, at Barnaby.

'Why, don't you know!' retorted Barnaby, with a wondering laugh.
'Not know what HE is! A bird, to be sure. My bird--my friend--

'A devil, a kettle, a Grip, a Polly, a Protestant, no Popery!'
cried the raven.

'Though, indeed,' added Barnaby, laying his hand upon the neck of
Lord George's horse, and speaking softly: 'you had good reason to
ask me what he is, for sometimes it puzzles me--and I am used to
him--to think he's only a bird. He's my brother, Grip is--always
with me--always talking--always merry--eh, Grip?'

The raven answered by an affectionate croak, and hopping on his
master's arm, which he held downward for that purpose, submitted
with an air of perfect indifference to be fondled, and turned his
restless, curious eye, now upon Lord George, and now upon his man.

Lord George, biting his nails in a discomfited manner, regarded
Barnaby for some time in silence; then beckoning to his servant,

'Come hither, John.'

John Grueby touched his hat, and came.

'Have you ever seen this young man before?' his master asked in a
low voice.

'Twice, my lord,' said John. 'I saw him in the crowd last night
and Saturday.'

'Did--did it seem to you that his manner was at all wild or
strange?' Lord George demanded, faltering.

'Mad,' said John, with emphatic brevity.

'And why do you think him mad, sir?' said his master, speaking in a
peevish tone. 'Don't use that word too freely. Why do you think
him mad?'

'My lord,' John Grueby answered, 'look at his dress, look at his
eyes, look at his restless way, hear him cry "No Popery!" Mad, my

'So because one man dresses unlike another,' returned his angry
master, glancing at himself; 'and happens to differ from other men
in his carriage and manner, and to advocate a great cause which the
corrupt and irreligious desert, he is to be accounted mad, is he?'

'Stark, staring, raving, roaring mad, my lord,' returned the
unmoved John.

'Do you say this to my face?' cried his master, turning sharply
upon him.

'To any man, my lord, who asks me,' answered John.

'Mr Gashford, I find, was right,' said Lord George; 'I thought him
prejudiced, though I ought to have known a man like him better than
to have supposed it possible!'

'I shall never have Mr Gashford's good word, my lord,' replied
John, touching his hat respectfully, 'and I don't covet it.'

'You are an ill-conditioned, most ungrateful fellow,' said Lord
George: 'a spy, for anything I know. Mr Gashford is perfectly
correct, as I might have felt convinced he was. I have done wrong
to retain you in my service. It is a tacit insult to him as my
choice and confidential friend to do so, remembering the cause you
sided with, on the day he was maligned at Westminster. You will
leave me to-night--nay, as soon as we reach home. The sooner the

'If it comes to that, I say so too, my lord. Let Mr Gashford have
his will. As to my being a spy, my lord, you know me better than
to believe it, I am sure. I don't know much about causes. My
cause is the cause of one man against two hundred; and I hope it
always will be.'

'You have said quite enough,' returned Lord George, motioning him
to go back. 'I desire to hear no more.'

'If you'll let me have another word, my lord,' returned John
Grueby, 'I'd give this silly fellow a caution not to stay here by
himself. The proclamation is in a good many hands already, and
it's well known that he was concerned in the business it relates
to. He had better get to a place of safety if he can, poor

'You hear what this man says?' cried Lord George, addressing
Barnaby, who had looked on and wondered while this dialogue passed.
'He thinks you may be afraid to remain upon your post, and are kept
here perhaps against your will. What do you say?'

'I think, young man,' said John, in explanation, 'that the soldiers
may turn out and take you; and that if they do, you will certainly
be hung by the neck till you're dead--dead--dead. And I think you
had better go from here, as fast as you can. That's what I think.'

'He's a coward, Grip, a coward!' cried Barnaby, putting the raven
on the ground, and shouldering his staff. 'Let them come! Gordon
for ever! Let them come!'

'Ay!' said Lord George, 'let them! Let us see who will venture to
attack a power like ours; the solemn league of a whole people.
THIS a madman! You have said well, very well. I am proud to be
the leader of such men as you.'

Bamaby's heart swelled within his bosom as he heard these words.
He took Lord George's hand and carried it to his lips; patted his
horse's crest, as if the affection and admiration he had conceived
for the man extended to the animal he rode; then unfurling his
flag, and proudly waving it, resumed his pacing up and down.

Lord George, with a kindling eye and glowing cheek, took off his
hat, and flourishing it above his head, bade him exultingly
Farewell!--then cantered off at a brisk pace; after glancing
angrily round to see that his servant followed. Honest John set
spurs to his horse and rode after his master, but not before he had
again warned Barnaby to retreat, with many significant gestures,
which indeed he continued to make, and Barnaby to resist, until the
windings of the road concealed them from each other's view.

Left to himself again with a still higher sense of the importance
of his post, and stimulated to enthusiasm by the special notice and
encouragement of his leader, Barnaby walked to and fro in a
delicious trance rather than as a waking man. The sunshine which
prevailed around was in his mind. He had but one desire
ungratified. If she could only see him now!

The day wore on; its heat was gently giving place to the cool of
evening; a light wind sprung up, fanning his long hair, and making
the banner rustle pleasantly above his head. There was a freedom
and freshness in the sound and in the time, which chimed exactly
with his mood. He was happier than ever.

He was leaning on his staff looking towards the declining sun, and
reflecting with a smile that he stood sentinel at that moment over
buried gold, when two or three figures appeared in the distance,
making towards the house at a rapid pace, and motioning with their
hands as though they urged its inmates to retreat from some
approaching danger. As they drew nearer, they became more earnest
in their gestures; and they were no sooner within hearing, than the
foremost among them cried that the soldiers were coming up.

At these words, Barnaby furled his flag, and tied it round the
pole. His heart beat high while he did so, but he had no more fear
or thought of retreating than the pole itself. The friendly
stragglers hurried past him, after giving him notice of his danger,
and quickly passed into the house, where the utmost confusion
immediately prevailed. As those within hastily closed the windows
and the doors, they urged him by looks and signs to fly without
loss of time, and called to him many times to do so; but he only
shook his head indignantly in answer, and stood the firmer on his
post. Finding that he was not to be persuaded, they took care of
themselves; and leaving the place with only one old woman in it,
speedily withdrew.

As yet there had been no symptom of the news having any better
foundation than in the fears of those who brought it, but The Boot
had not been deserted five minutes, when there appeared, coming
across the fields, a body of men who, it was easy to see, by the
glitter of their arms and ornaments in the sun, and by their
orderly and regular mode of advancing--for they came on as one
man--were soldiers. In a very little time, Barnaby knew that they
were a strong detachment of the Foot Guards, having along with them
two gentlemen in private clothes, and a small party of Horse; the
latter brought up the rear, and were not in number more than six or

They advanced steadily; neither quickening their pace as they came
nearer, nor raising any cry, nor showing the least emotion or
anxiety. Though this was a matter of course in the case of regular
troops, even to Barnaby, there was something particularly
impressive and disconcerting in it to one accustomed to the noise
and tumult of an undisciplined mob. For all that, he stood his
ground not a whit the less resolutely, and looked on undismayed.

Presently, they marched into the yard, and halted. The
commanding-officer despatched a messenger to the horsemen, one of
whom came riding back. Some words passed between them, and they
glanced at Barnaby; who well remembered the man he had unhorsed at
Westminster, and saw him now before his eyes. The man being
speedily dismissed, saluted, and rode back to his comrades, who
were drawn up apart at a short distance.

The officer then gave the word to prime and load. The heavy
ringing of the musket-stocks upon the ground, and the sharp and
rapid rattling of the ramrods in their barrels, were a kind of
relief to Batnahy, deadly though he knew the purport of such sounds
to be. When this was done, other commands were given, and the
soldiers instantaneously formed in single file all round the house
and stables; completely encircling them in every part, at a
distance, perhaps, of some half-dozen yards; at least that seemed
in Barnaby's eyes to be about the space left between himself and
those who confronted him. The horsemen remained drawn up by
themselves as before.

The two gentlemen in private clothes who had kept aloof, now rode
forward, one on either side the officer. The proclamation having
been produced and read by one of them, the officer called on
Barnaby to surrender.

He made no answer, but stepping within the door, before which he
had kept guard, held his pole crosswise to protect it. In the
midst of a profound silence, he was again called upon to yield.

Still he offered no reply. Indeed he had enough to do, to run his
eye backward and forward along the half-dozen men who immediately
fronted him, and settle hurriedly within himself at which of them
he would strike first, when they pressed on him. He caught the eye
of one in the centre, and resolved to hew that fellow down, though
he died for it.

Again there was a dead silence, and again the same voice called
upon him to deliver himself up.

Next moment he was back in the stable, dealing blows about him like
a madman. Two of the men lay stretched at his feet: the one he
had marked, dropped first--he had a thought for that, even in the
hot blood and hurry of the struggle. Another blow--another! Down,
mastered, wounded in the breast by a heavy blow from the butt-end
of a gun (he saw the weapon in the act of falling)--breathless--and
a prisoner.

An exclamation of surprise from the officer recalled him, in some
degree, to himself. He looked round. Grip, after working in
secret all the afternoon, and with redoubled vigour while
everybody's attention was distracted, had plucked away the straw
from Hugh's bed, and turned up the loose ground with his iron bill.
The hole had been recklessly filled to the brim, and was merely
sprinkled with earth. Golden cups, spoons, candlesticks, coined
guineas--all the riches were revealed.

They brought spades and a sack; dug up everything that was hidden
there; and carried away more than two men could lift. They
handcuffed him and bound his arms, searched him, and took away all
he had. Nobody questioned or reproached him, or seemed to have
much curiosity about him. The two men he had stunned, were carried
off by their companions in the same business-like way in which
everything else was done. Finally, he was left under a guard of
four soldiers with fixed bayonets, while the officer directed in
person the search of the house and the other buildings connected
with it.

This was soon completed. The soldiers formed again in the yard; he
was marched out, with his guard about him; and ordered to fall in,
where a space was left. The others closed up all round, and so
they moved away, with the prisoner in the centre.

When they came into the streets, he felt he was a sight; and
looking up as they passed quickly along, could see people running
to the windows a little too late, and throwing up the sashes to
look after him. Sometimes he met a staring face beyond the heads
about him, or under the arms of his conductors, or peering down
upon him from a waggon-top or coach-box; but this was all he saw,
being surrounded by so many men. The very noises of the streets
seemed muffled and subdued; and the air came stale and hot upon
him, like the sickly breath of an oven.

Tramp, tramp. Tramp, tramp. Heads erect, shoulders square, every
man stepping in exact time--all so orderly and regular--nobody
looking at him--nobody seeming conscious of his presence,--he could
hardly believe he was a Prisoner. But at the word, though only
thought, not spoken, he felt the handcuffs galling his wrists, the
cord pressing his arms to his sides: the loaded guns levelled at
his head; and those cold, bright, sharp, shining points turned
towards him: the mere looking down at which, now that he was bound
and helpless, made the warm current of his life run cold.

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Index Index

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
Chapter 51
Chapter 52
Chapter 53
Chapter 54
Chapter 55
Chapter 56
Chapter 57
Chapter 58
Chapter 59
Chapter 60
Chapter 61
Chapter 62
Chapter 63
Chapter 64
Chapter 65
Chapter 66
Chapter 67
Chapter 68
Chapter 69
Chapter 70
Chapter 71
Chapter 72
Chapter 73
Chapter 74
Chapter 75
Chapter 76
Chapter 77
Chapter 78
Chapter 79
Chapter 80
Chapter 81
Chapter 82

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