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Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 69

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 69

It was the dead of night, and very dark, when Barnaby, with his
stumbling comrade, approached the place where he had left his
father; but he could see him stealing away into the gloom,
distrustful even of him, and rapidly retreating. After calling to
him twice or thrice that there was nothing to fear, but without
effect, he suffered Hugh to sink upon the ground, and followed to
bring him back.

He continued to creep away, until Barnaby was close upon him; then
turned, and said in a terrible, though suppressed voice:

'Let me go. Do not lay hands upon me. You have told her; and you
and she together have betrayed me!'

Barnaby looked at him, in silence.

'You have seen your mother!'

'No,' cried Barnaby, eagerly. 'Not for a long time--longer than I
can tell. A whole year, I think. Is she here?'

His father looked upon him steadfastly for a few moments, and then
said--drawing nearer to him as he spoke, for, seeing his face, and
hearing his words, it was impossible to doubt his truth:

'What man is that?'

'Hugh--Hugh. Only Hugh. You know him. HE will not harm you.
Why, you're afraid of Hugh! Ha ha ha! Afraid of gruff, old, noisy

'What man is he, I ask you,' he rejoined so fiercely, that Barnaby
stopped in his laugh, and shrinking back, surveyed him with a look
of terrified amazement.

'Why, how stern you are! You make me fear you, though you are my
father. Why do you speak to me so?'

--'I want,' he answered, putting away the hand which his son, with
a timid desire to propitiate him, laid upon his sleeve,--'I want an
answer, and you give me only jeers and questions. Who have you
brought with you to this hiding-place, poor fool; and where is the
blind man?'

'I don't know where. His house was close shut. I waited, but no
person came; that was no fault of mine. This is Hugh--brave Hugh,
who broke into that ugly jail, and set us free. Aha! You like him
now, do you? You like him now!'

'Why does he lie upon the ground?'

'He has had a fall, and has been drinking. The fields and trees go
round, and round, and round with him, and the ground heaves under
his feet. You know him? You remember? See!'

They had by this time returned to where he lay, and both stooped
over him to look into his face.

'I recollect the man,' his father murmured. 'Why did you bring him

'Because he would have been killed if I had left him over yonder.
They were firing guns and shedding blood. Does the sight of blood
turn you sick, father? I see it does, by your face. That's like
me--What are you looking at?'

'At nothing!' said the murderer softly, as he started back a pace
or two, and gazed with sunken jaw and staring eyes above his son's
head. 'At nothing!'

He remained in the same attitude and with the same expression on
his face for a minute or more; then glanced slowly round as if he
had lost something; and went shivering back, towards the shed.

'Shall I bring him in, father?' asked Barnaby, who had looked on,

He only answered with a suppressed groan, and lying down upon the
ground, wrapped his cloak about his head, and shrunk into the
darkest corner.

Finding that nothing would rouse Hugh now, or make him sensible for
a moment, Barnaby dragged him along the grass, and laid him on a
little heap of refuse hay and straw which had been his own bed;
first having brought some water from a running stream hard by, and
washed his wound, and laved his hands and face. Then he lay down
himself, between the two, to pass the night; and looking at the
stars, fell fast asleep.

Awakened early in the morning, by the sunshine and the songs of
birds, and hum of insects, he left them sleeping in the hut, and
walked into the sweet and pleasant air. But he felt that on his
jaded senses, oppressed and burdened with the dreadful scenes of
last night, and many nights before, all the beauties of opening
day, which he had so often tasted, and in which he had had such
deep delight, fell heavily. He thought of the blithe mornings when
he and the dogs went bounding on together through the woods and
fields; and the recollection filled his eyes with tears. He had no
consciousness, God help him, of having done wrong, nor had he any
new perception of the merits of the cause in which he had been
engaged, or those of the men who advocated it; but he was full of
cares now, and regrets, and dismal recollections, and wishes (quite
unknown to him before) that this or that event had never happened,
and that the sorrow and suffering of so many people had been
spared. And now he began to think how happy they would be--his
father, mother, he, and Hugh--if they rambled away together, and
lived in some lonely place, where there were none of these
troubles; and that perhaps the blind man, who had talked so wisely
about gold, and told him of the great secrets he knew, could teach
them how to live without being pinched by want. As this occurred
to him, he was the more sorry that he had not seen him last night;
and he was still brooding over this regret, when his father came,
and touched him on the shoulder.

'Ah!' cried Barnaby, starting from his fit of thoughtfulness. 'Is
it only you?'

'Who should it be?'

'I almost thought,' he answered, 'it was the blind man. I must
have some talk with him, father.'

'And so must I, for without seeing him, I don't know where to fly
or what to do, and lingering here, is death. You must go to him
again, and bring him here.'

'Must I!' cried Barnaby, delighted; 'that's brave, father. That's
what I want to do.'

'But you must bring only him, and none other. And though you wait
at his door a whole day and night, still you must wait, and not
come back without him.'

'Don't you fear that,' he cried gaily. 'He shall come, he shall

'Trim off these gewgaws,' said his father, plucking the scraps of
ribbon and the feathers from his hat, 'and over your own dress wear
my cloak. Take heed how you go, and they will be too busy in the
streets to notice you. Of your coming back you need take no
account, for he'll manage that, safely.'

'To be sure!' said Barnaby. 'To be sure he will! A wise man,
father, and one who can teach us to be rich. Oh! I know him, I
know him.'

He was speedily dressed, and as well disguised as he could be.
With a lighter heart he then set off upon his second journey,
leaving Hugh, who was still in a drunken stupor, stretched upon the
ground within the shed, and his father walking to and fro before it.

The murderer, full of anxious thoughts, looked after him, and paced
up and down, disquieted by every breath of air that whispered among
the boughs, and by every light shadow thrown by the passing clouds
upon the daisied ground. He was anxious for his safe return, and
yet, though his own life and safety hung upon it, felt a relief
while he was gone. In the intense selfishness which the constant
presence before him of his great crimes, and their consequences
here and hereafter, engendered, every thought of Barnaby, as his
son, was swallowed up and lost. Still, his presence was a torture
and reproach; in his wild eyes, there were terrible images of that
guilty night; with his unearthly aspect, and his half-formed mind,
he seemed to the murderer a creature who had sprung into existence
from his victim's blood. He could not bear his look, his voice,
his touch; and yet he was forced, by his own desperate condition
and his only hope of cheating the gibbet, to have him by his side,
and to know that he was inseparable from his single chance of escape.

He walked to and fro, with little rest, all day, revolving these
things in his mind; and still Hugh lay, unconscious, in the shed.
At length, when the sun was setting, Barnaby returned, leading the
blind man, and talking earnestly to him as they came along together.

The murderer advanced to meet them, and bidding his son go on and
speak to Hugh, who had just then staggered to his feet, took his
place at the blind man's elbow, and slowly followed, towards the

'Why did you send HIM?' said Stagg. 'Don't you know it was the way
to have him lost, as soon as found?'

'Would you have had me come myself?' returned the other.

'Humph! Perhaps not. I was before the jail on Tuesday night, but
missed you in the crowd. I was out last night, too. There was
good work last night--gay work--profitable work'--he added,
rattling the money in his pockets.

'Have you--'

--'Seen your good lady? Yes.'

'Do you mean to tell me more, or not?'

'I'll tell you all,' returned the blind man, with a laugh. 'Excuse
me--but I love to see you so impatient. There's energy in it.'

'Does she consent to say the word that may save me?'

'No,' returned the blind man emphatically, as he turned his face
towards him. 'No. Thus it is. She has been at death's door since
she lost her darling--has been insensible, and I know not what. I
tracked her to a hospital, and presented myself (with your leave)
at her bedside. Our talk was not a long one, for she was weak, and
there being people near I was not quite easy. But I told her all
that you and I agreed upon, and pointed out the young gentleman's
position, in strong terms. She tried to soften me, but that, of
course (as I told her), was lost time. She cried and moaned, you
may be sure; all women do. Then, of a sudden, she found her voice
and strength, and said that Heaven would help her and her innocent
son; and that to Heaven she appealed against us--which she did; in
really very pretty language, I assure you. I advised her, as a
friend, not to count too much on assistance from any such distant
quarter--recommended her to think of it--told her where I lived--
said I knew she would send to me before noon, next day--and left
her, either in a faint or shamming.'

When he had concluded this narration, during which he had made
several pauses, for the convenience of cracking and eating nuts, of
which he seemed to have a pocketful, the blind man pulled a flask
from his pocket, took a draught himself, and offered it to his

'You won't, won't you?' he said, feeling that he pushed it from
him. 'Well! Then the gallant gentleman who's lodging with you,
will. Hallo, bully!'

'Death!' said the other, holding him back. 'Will you tell me what
I am to do!'

'Do! Nothing easier. Make a moonlight flitting in two hours' time
with the young gentleman (he's quite ready to go; I have been
giving him good advice as we came along), and get as far from
London as you can. Let me know where you are, and leave the rest
to me. She MUST come round; she can't hold out long; and as to the
chances of your being retaken in the meanwhile, why it wasn't one
man who got out of Newgate, but three hundred. Think of that, for
your comfort.'

'We must support life. How?'

'How!' repeated the blind man. 'By eating and drinking. And how
get meat and drink, but by paying for it! Money!' he cried,
slapping his pocket. 'Is money the word? Why, the streets have
been running money. Devil send that the sport's not over yet, for
these are jolly times; golden, rare, roaring, scrambling times.
Hallo, bully! Hallo! Hallo! Drink, bully, drink. Where are ye
there! Hallo!'

With such vociferations, and with a boisterous manner which bespoke
his perfect abandonment to the general licence and disorder, he
groped his way towards the shed, where Hugh and Barnaby were
sitting on the ground.

'Put it about!' he cried, handing his flask to Hugh. 'The kennels
run with wine and gold. Guineas and strong water flow from the
very pumps. About with it, don't spare it!'

Exhausted, unwashed, unshorn, begrimed with smoke and dust, his
hair clotted with blood, his voice quite gone, so that he spoke in
whispers; his skin parched up by fever, his whole body bruised and
cut, and beaten about, Hugh still took the flask, and raised it to
his lips. He was in the act of drinking, when the front of the
shed was suddenly darkened, and Dennis stood before them.

'No offence, no offence,' said that personage in a conciliatory
tone, as Hugh stopped in his draught, and eyed him, with no
pleasant look, from head to foot. 'No offence, brother. Barnaby
here too, eh? How are you, Barnaby? And two other gentlemen!
Your humble servant, gentlemen. No offence to YOU either, I hope.
Eh, brothers?'

Notwithstanding that he spoke in this very friendly and confident
manner, he seemed to have considerable hesitation about entering,
and remained outside the roof. He was rather better dressed than
usual: wearing the same suit of threadbare black, it is true, but
having round his neck an unwholesome-looking cravat of a yellowish
white; and, on his hands, great leather gloves, such as a gardener
might wear in following his trade. His shoes were newly greased,
and ornamented with a pair of rusty iron buckles; the packthread at
his knees had been renewed; and where he wanted buttons, he wore
pins. Altogether, he had something the look of a tipstaff, or a
bailiff's follower, desperately faded, but who had a notion of
keeping up the appearance of a professional character, and making
the best of the worst means.

'You're very snug here,' said Mr Dennis, pulling out a mouldy
pocket-handkerchief, which looked like a decomposed halter, and
wiping his forehead in a nervous manner.

'Not snug enough to prevent your finding us, it seems,' Hugh
answered, sulkily.

'Why I'll tell you what, brother,' said Dennis, with a friendly
smile, 'when you don't want me to know which way you're riding, you
must wear another sort of bells on your horse. Ah! I know the
sound of them you wore last night, and have got quick ears for 'em;
that's the truth. Well, but how are you, brother?'

He had by this time approached, and now ventured to sit down by him.

'How am I?' answered Hugh. 'Where were you yesterday? Where did
you go when you left me in the jail? Why did you leave me? And
what did you mean by rolling your eyes and shaking your fist at me,

'I shake my fist!--at you, brother!' said Dennis, gently checking
Hugh's uplifted hand, which looked threatening.

'Your stick, then; it's all one.'

'Lord love you, brother, I meant nothing. You don't understand me
by half. I shouldn't wonder now,' he added, in the tone of a
desponding and an injured man, 'but you thought, because I wanted
them chaps left in the prison, that I was a going to desert the

Hugh told him, with an oath, that he had thought so.

'Well!' said Mr Dennis, mournfully, 'if you an't enough to make a
man mistrust his feller-creeturs, I don't know what is. Desert the
banners! Me! Ned Dennis, as was so christened by his own
father!--Is this axe your'n, brother?'

Yes, it's mine,' said Hugh, in the same sullen manner as before;
'it might have hurt you, if you had come in its way once or twice
last night. Put it down.'

'Might have hurt me!' said Mr Dennis, still keeping it in his hand,
and feeling the edge with an air of abstraction. 'Might have hurt
me! and me exerting myself all the time to the wery best advantage.
Here's a world! And you're not a-going to ask me to take a sup out
of that 'ere bottle, eh?'

Hugh passed it towards him. As he raised it to his lips, Barnaby
jumped up, and motioning them to be silent, looked eagerly out.

'What's the matter, Barnaby?' said Dennis, glancing at Hugh and
dropping the flask, but still holding the axe in his hand.

'Hush!' he answered softly. 'What do I see glittering behind the

'What!' cried the hangman, raising his voice to its highest pitch,
and laying hold of him and Hugh. 'Not SOLDIERS, surely!'

That moment, the shed was filled with armed men; and a body of
horse, galloping into the field, drew up before it.

'There!' said Dennis, who remained untouched among them when they
had seized their prisoners; 'it's them two young ones, gentlemen,
that the proclamation puts a price on. This other's an escaped
felon.--I'm sorry for it, brother,' he added, in a tone of
resignation, addressing himself to Hugh; 'but you've brought it on
yourself; you forced me to do it; you wouldn't respect the
soundest constitootional principles, you know; you went and
wiolated the wery framework of society. I had sooner have given
away a trifle in charity than done this, I would upon my soul.--If
you'll keep fast hold on 'em, gentlemen, I think I can make a shift
to tie 'em better than you can.'

But this operation was postponed for a few moments by a new
occurrence. The blind man, whose ears were quicker than most
people's sight, had been alarmed, before Barnaby, by a rustling in
the bushes, under cover of which the soldiers had advanced. He
retreated instantly--had hidden somewhere for a minute--and
probably in his confusion mistaking the point at which he had
emerged, was now seen running across the open meadow.

An officer cried directly that he had helped to plunder a house
last night. He was loudly called on, to surrender. He ran the
harder, and in a few seconds would have been out of gunshot. The
word was given, and the men fired.

There was a breathless pause and a profound silence, during which
all eyes were fixed upon him. He had been seen to start at the
discharge, as if the report had frightened him. But he neither
stopped nor slackened his pace in the least, and ran on full forty
yards further. Then, without one reel or stagger, or sign of
faintness, or quivering of any limb, he dropped.

Some of them hurried up to where he lay;--the hangman with them.
Everything had passed so quickly, that the smoke had not yet
scattered, but curled slowly off in a little cloud, which seemed
like the dead man's spirit moving solemnly away. There were a few
drops of blood upon the grass--more, when they turned him over--
that was all.

'Look here! Look here!' said the hangman, stooping one knee beside
the body, and gazing up with a disconsolate face at the officer and
men. 'Here's a pretty sight!'

'Stand out of the way,' replied the officer. 'Serjeant! see what
he had about him.'

The man turned his pockets out upon the grass, and counted, besides
some foreign coins and two rings, five-and-forty guineas in gold.
These were bundled up in a handkerchief and carried away; the body
remained there for the present, but six men and the serjeant were
left to take it to the nearest public-house.

'Now then, if you're going,' said the serjeant, clapping Dennis on
the back, and pointing after the officer who was walking towards
the shed.

To which Mr Dennis only replied, 'Don't talk to me!' and then
repeated what he had said before, namely, 'Here's a pretty sight!'

'It's not one that you care for much, I should think,' observed the
serjeant coolly.

'Why, who,' said Mr Dennis rising, 'should care for it, if I

'Oh! I didn't know you was so tender-hearted,' said the serjeant.
'That's all!'

'Tender-hearted!' echoed Dennis. 'Tender-hearted! Look at this
man. Do you call THIS constitootional? Do you see him shot
through and through instead of being worked off like a Briton?
Damme, if I know which party to side with. You're as bad as the
other. What's to become of the country if the military power's to
go a superseding the ciwilians in this way? Where's this poor
feller-creetur's rights as a citizen, that he didn't have ME in
his last moments! I was here. I was willing. I was ready. These
are nice times, brother, to have the dead crying out against us in
this way, and sleep comfortably in our beds arterwards; wery

Whether he derived any material consolation from binding the
prisoners, is uncertain; most probably he did. At all events his
being summoned to that work, diverted him, for the time, from these
painful reflections, and gave his thoughts a more congenial

They were not all three carried off together, but in two parties;
Barnaby and his father, going by one road in the centre of a body
of foot; and Hugh, fast bound upon a horse, and strongly guarded by
a troop of cavalry, being taken by another.

They had no opportunity for the least communication, in the short
interval which preceded their departure; being kept strictly apart.
Hugh only observed that Barnaby walked with a drooping head among
his guard, and, without raising his eyes, that he tried to wave
his fettered hand when he passed. For himself, he buoyed up his
courage as he rode along, with the assurance that the mob would
force his jail wherever it might be, and set him at liberty. But
when they got into London, and more especially into Fleet Market,
lately the stronghold of the rioters, where the military were
rooting out the last remnant of the crowd, he saw that this hope
was gone, and felt that he was riding to his death.

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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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