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Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 60

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 60

The three worthies turned their faces towards The Boot, with the
intention of passing the night in that place of rendezvous, and of
seeking the repose they so much needed in the shelter of their old
den; for now that the mischief and destruction they had purposed
were achieved, and their prisoners were safely bestowed for the
night, they began to be conscious of exhaustion, and to feel the
wasting effects of the madness which had led to such deplorable

Notwithstanding the lassitude and fatigue which oppressed him now,
in common with his two companions, and indeed with all who had
taken an active share in that night's work, Hugh's boisterous
merriment broke out afresh whenever he looked at Simon Tappertit,
and vented itself--much to that gentleman's indignation--in such
shouts of laughter as bade fair to bring the watch upon them, and
involve them in a skirmish, to which in their present worn-out
condition they might prove by no means equal. Even Mr Dennis, who
was not at all particular on the score of gravity or dignity, and
who had a great relish for his young friend's eccentric humours,
took occasion to remonstrate with him 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 reeled along between them, having an arm of each, until they
hove in sight of The Boot, and were within a field or two of that
convenient tavern. He happened by great 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 creeping
about the ditches all night, to warn any stragglers from
encroaching further on 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 into custody, he could not say which. He
had prevented a great many people from approaching nearer, and he
believed they had gone to the markets and such places to pass the
night. He had seen the distant fires, but they were all out now.
He had heard the people who passed and repassed, speaking of them
too, and could report that the prevailing opinion was one of
apprehension and dismay. He had not heard a word of Barnaby--
didn't even know his name--but it had been said in his hearing that
some man had been taken and carried off to Newgate. Whether this
was true or false, he could not affirm.

The three took counsel together, on hearing this, and debated what
it might be best to do. Hugh, deeming it possible that Barnaby was
in the hands of the soldiers, and at that moment under detention at
The Boot, was for advancing stealthily, and firing the house; but
his companions, who objected to such rash measures unless they had
a crowd at their backs, represented that if Barnaby were taken he
had assuredly been removed to a stronger prison; they would never
have dreamed of keeping him all night in a place so weak and open
to attack. Yielding to this reasoning, and to their persuasions,
Hugh consented to turn back and to repair to Fleet Market; for
which place, it seemed, a few of their boldest associates had
shaped their course, on receiving the same intelligence.

Feeling their strength recruited and their spirits roused, now that
there was a new necessity for action, they hurried away, quite
forgetful of the fatigue under which they had been sinking but a
few minutes before; and soon arrived at their new place of

Fleet Market, at that time, was a long irregular row of wooden
sheds and penthouses, occupying the centre of what is now called
Farringdon Street. They were 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 leaves and faded fruit; the refuse of the
butchers' stalls, and offal and garbage of a hundred kinds. It was
indispensable to most public conveniences in those days, that they
should be public nuisances likewise; and Fleet Market maintained
the principle to admiration.

To this place, perhaps because its sheds and baskets were a
tolerable substitute for beds, or perhaps because it afforded the
means of a hasty barricade in case of need, many of the rioters had
straggled, not only that night, but for two or three nights before.
It was now broad day, but the morning 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 with signal marks of approbation, and inducted into the
most honourable seats. The room-door was closed and fastened to
keep intruders at a distance, and then they proceeded to exchange

'The soldiers have taken possession of The Boot, I hear,' said
Hugh. 'Who knows anything about it?'

Several cried that they did; but the majority of the company
having been engaged in the assault upon the Warren, and all
present having been concerned in one or other of the night's
expeditions, it proved that they knew no more than 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 is not here. You know who it is--Barnaby, who brought
the soldier down, at Westminster. Has any man seen or heard of

They shook their heads, and murmured an answer in the negative, as
each man looked round and appealed to his fellow; when a noise was
heard without, and a man 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

The door was accordingly unlocked and opened. A one-armed man,
with his head and 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 in among them, and panting for
breath, demanded which was Hugh.

'Here he is,' replied the person he inquired for. 'I am Hugh.
What do you want with 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
defended himself as well as he could, but was overpowered by
numbers. That's his message.'

'When did you see him?' asked Hugh, hastily.

'On his way to prison, where he was taken by a party of soldiers.
They took a by-road, and not the one we expected. I was one of
the few who tried to rescue him, and he called to me, and told me
to tell Hugh where he was. We made a good struggle, though it
failed. Look here!'

He pointed to his dress and to his bandaged head, and still panting
for breath, 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 on Saturday, and yesterday, but I didn't know your name.
You're a bold fellow, I know. So is he. He fought like a lion
tonight, but it was of no use. I did my best, considering that I
want this limb.'

Again he glanced inquisitively round the room or seemed to do so,
for his face was 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 the defensive.

If he had any such apprehension, however, he was speedily reassured
by the demeanour of all present. None thought of the bearer of the
tidings. He was lost in the news he brought. Oaths, threats, and
execrations, were vented on all sides. Some cried that if they
bore this tamely, another day would see them all in jail; some,
that they should have rescued the other prisoners, and this would
not have happened. One man cried in a loud voice, 'Who'll follow
me to 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, when they 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 might release, not only their
own companions, but all the prisoners, and burn down the jail.

'Not that jail alone,' cried Hugh, 'but every jail in London. They
shall have no place to put their prisoners in. We'll burn them all
down; make bonfires of them every one! Here!' he cried, catching
at the hangman's hand. 'Let all who're men here, join with us.
Shake hands upon it. Barnaby out of jail, and not a jail left
standing! Who joins?'

Every man there. And they swore a great oath to release their
friends from Newgate next night; to force the doors and burn the
jail; or perish in the fire themselves.

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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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