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Charles Dickens > Barnaby Rudge > Chapter 71

Barnaby Rudge

Chapter 71

All next day, Emma Haredale, Dolly, and Miggs, remained cooped up
together in what had now been their prison for so many days,
without seeing any person, or hearing any sound but the murmured
conversation, in an outer room, of the men who kept watch over
them. There appeared to be more of these fellows than there had
been hitherto; and they could no longer hear the voices of women,
which they had before plainly distinguished. Some new excitement,
too, seemed to prevail among them; for there was much stealthy
going in and out, and a constant questioning of those who were
newly arrived. They had previously been quite reckless in their
behaviour; often making a great uproar; quarrelling among
themselves, fighting, dancing, and singing. They were now very
subdued and silent, conversing almost in whispers, and stealing in
and out with a soft and stealthy tread, very different from the
boisterous trampling in which their arrivals and departures had
hitherto been announced to the trembling captives.

Whether this change was occasioned by the presence among them of
some person of authority in their ranks, or by any other cause,
they were unable to decide. Sometimes they thought it was in part
attributable to there being a sick man in the chamber, for last
night there had been a shuffling of feet, as though a burden were
brought in, and afterwards a moaning noise. But they had no means
of ascertaining the truth: for any question or entreaty on their
parts only provoked a storm of execrations, or something worse; and
they were too happy to be left alone, unassailed by threats or
admiration, to risk even that comfort, by any voluntary
communication with those who held them in durance.

It was sufficiently evident, both to Emma and to the locksmith's
poor little daughter herself, that she, Dolly, was the great
object of attraction; and that so soon as they should have leisure
to indulge in the softer passion, Hugh and Mr Tappertit would
certainly fall to blows for her sake; in which latter case, it was
not very difficult to see whose prize she would become. With all
her old horror of that man revived, and deepened into a degree of
aversion and abhorrence which no language can describe; with a
thousand old recollections and regrets, and causes of distress,
anxiety, and fear, besetting her on all sides; poor Dolly Varden--
sweet, blooming, buxom Dolly--began to hang her head, and fade, and
droop, like a beautiful flower. The colour fled from her cheeks,
her courage forsook her, her gentle heart failed. Unmindful of all
her provoking caprices, forgetful of all her conquests and
inconstancy, with all her winning little vanities quite gone, she
nestled all the livelong day in Emma Haredale's bosom; and,
sometimes calling on her dear old grey-haired father, sometimes on
her mother, and sometimes even on her old home, pined slowly away,
like a poor bird in its cage.

Light hearts, light hearts, that float so gaily on a smooth stream,
that are so sparkling and buoyant in the sunshine--down upon fruit,
bloom upon flowers, blush in summer air, life of the winged insect,
whose whole existence is a day--how soon ye sink in troubled water!
Poor Dolly's heart--a little, gentle, idle, fickle thing; giddy,
restless, fluttering; constant to nothing but bright looks, and
smiles and laughter--Dolly's heart was breaking.

Emma had known grief, and could bear it better. She had little
comfort to impart, but she could soothe and tend her, and she did
so; and Dolly clung to her like a child to its nurse. In
endeavouring to inspire her with some fortitude, she increased her
own; and though the nights were long, and the days dismal, and she
felt the wasting influence of watching and fatigue, and had
perhaps a more defined and clear perception of their destitute
condition and its worst dangers, she uttered no complaint. Before
the ruffians, in whose power they were, she bore herself so
calmly, and with such an appearance, in the midst of all her
terror, of a secret conviction that they dared not harm her, that
there was not a man among them but held her in some degree of
dread; and more than one believed she had a weapon hidden in her
dress, and was prepared to use it.

Such was their condition when they were joined by Miss Miggs, who
gave them to understand that she too had been taken prisoner
because of her charms, and detailed such feats of resistance she
had performed (her virtue having given her supernatural strength),
that they felt it quite a happiness to have her for a champion.
Nor was this the only comfort they derived at first from Miggs's
presence and society: for that young lady displayed such
resignation and long-suffering, and so much meek endurance, under
her trials, and breathed in all her chaste discourse a spirit of
such holy confidence and resignation, and devout belief that all
would happen for the best, that Emma felt her courage strengthened
by the bright example; never doubting but that everything she said
was true, and that she, like them, was torn from all she loved, and
agonised by doubt and apprehension. As to poor Dolly, she was
roused, at first, by seeing one who came from home; but when she
heard under what circumstances she had left it, and into whose
hands her father had fallen, she wept more bitterly than ever, and
refused all comfort.

Miss Miggs was at some trouble to reprove her for this state of
mind, and to entreat her to take example by herself, who, she
said, was now receiving back, with interest, tenfold the amount of
her subscriptions to the red-brick dwelling-house, in the articles
of peace of mind and a quiet conscience. And, while on serious
topics, Miss Miggs considered it her duty to try her hand at the
conversion of Miss Haredale; for whose improvement she launched
into a polemical address of some length, in the course whereof,
she likened herself unto a chosen missionary, and that young lady
to a cannibal in darkness. Indeed, she returned so often to these
sublects, and so frequently called upon them to take a lesson from
her,--at the same time vaunting and, as it were, rioting in, her
huge unworthiness, and abundant excess of sin,--that, in the course
of a short time, she became, in that small chamber, rather a
nuisance than a comfort, and rendered them, if possible, even more
unhappy than they had been before.

The night had now come; and for the first time (for their jailers
had been regular in bringing food and candles), they were left in
darkness. Any change in their condition in such a place inspired
new fears; and when some hours had passed, and the gloom was still
unbroken, Emma could no longer repress her alarm.

They listened attentively. There was the same murmuring in the
outer room, and now and then a moan which seemed to be wrung from a
person in great pain, who made an effort to subdue it, but could
not. Even these men seemed to be in darkness too; for no light
shone through the chinks in the door, nor were they moving, as
their custom was, but quite still: the silence being unbroken by
so much as the creaking of a board.

At first, Miss Miggs wondered greatly in her own mind who this sick
person might be; but arriving, on second thoughts, at the
conclusion that he was a part of the schemes on foot, and an artful
device soon to be employed with great success, she opined, for Miss
Haredale's comfort, that it must be some misguided Papist who had
been wounded: and this happy supposition encouraged her to say,
under her breath, 'Ally Looyer!' several times.

'Is it possible,' said Emma, with some indignation, 'that you who
have seen these men committing the outrages you have told us of,
and who have fallen into their hands, like us, can exult in their

'Personal considerations, miss,' rejoined Miggs, 'sinks into
nothing, afore a noble cause. Ally Looyer! Ally Looyer! Ally
Looyer, good gentlemen!'

It seemed from the shrill pertinacity with which Miss Miggs
repeated this form of acclamation, that she was calling the same
through the keyhole of the door; but in the profound darkness she
could not be seen.

'If the time has come--Heaven knows it may come at any moment--when
they are bent on prosecuting the designs, whatever they may be,
with which they have brought us here, can you still encourage, and
take part with them?' demanded Emma.

'I thank my goodness-gracious-blessed-stars I can, miss,' returned
Miggs, with increased energy.--'Ally Looyer, good gentlemen!'

Even Dolly, cast down and disappointed as she was, revived at this,
and bade Miggs hold her tongue directly.

'WHICH, was you pleased to observe, Miss Varden?' said Miggs, with
a strong emphasis on the irrelative pronoun.

Dolly repeated her request.

'Ho, gracious me!' cried Miggs, with hysterical derision. 'Ho,
gracious me! Yes, to be sure I will. Ho yes! I am a abject
slave, and a toiling, moiling, constant-working, always-being-
found-fault-with, never-giving-satisfactions, nor-having-no-
time-to-clean-oneself, potter's wessel--an't I, miss! Ho yes! My
situations is lowly, and my capacities is limited, and my duties is
to humble myself afore the base degenerating daughters of their
blessed mothers as is--fit to keep companies with holy saints but
is born to persecutions from wicked relations--and to demean myself
before them as is no better than Infidels--an't it, miss! Ho yes!
My only becoming occupations is to help young flaunting pagins to
brush and comb and titiwate theirselves into whitening and
suppulchres, and leave the young men to think that there an't a bit
of padding in it nor no pinching ins nor fillings out nor pomatums
nor deceits nor earthly wanities--an't it, miss! Yes, to be sure
it is--ho yes!'

Having delivered these ironical passages with a most wonderful
volubility, and with a shrillness perfectly deafening (especially
when she jerked out the interjections), Miss Miggs, from mere
habit, and not because weeping was at all appropriate to the
occasion, which was one of triumph, concluded by bursting into a
flood of tears, and calling in an impassioned manner on the name of

What Emma Haredale and Dolly would have done, or how long Miss
Miggs, now that she had hoisted her true colours, would have gone
on waving them before their astonished senses, it is impossible to
tell. Nor is it necessary to speculate on these matters, for a
startling interruption occurred at that moment, which took their
whole attention by storm.

This was a violent knocking at the door of the house, and then its
sudden bursting open; which was immediately succeeded by a scuffle
in the room without, and the clash of weapons. Transported with
the hope that rescue had at length arrived, Emma and Dolly shrieked
aloud for help; nor were their shrieks unanswered; for after a
hurried interval, a man, bearing in one hand a drawn sword, and in
the other a taper, rushed into the chamber where they were confined.

It was some check upon their transport to find in this person an
entire stranger, but they appealed to him, nevertheless, and
besought him, in impassioned language, to restore them to their

'For what other purpose am I here?' he answered, closing the door,
and standing with his back against it. 'With what object have I
made my way to this place, through difficulty and danger, but to
preserve you?'

With a joy for which it was impossible to find adequate expression,
they embraced each other, and thanked Heaven for this most timely
aid. Their deliverer stepped forward for a moment to put the light
upon the table, and immediately returning to his former position
against the door, bared his head, and looked on smilingly.

'You have news of my uncle, sir?' said Emma, turning hastily
towards him.

'And of my father and mother?' added Dolly.

'Yes,' he said. 'Good news.'

'They are alive and unhurt?' they both cried at once.

'Yes, and unhurt,' he rejoined.

'And close at hand?'

'I did not say close at hand,' he answered smoothly; 'they are at
no great distance. YOUR friends, sweet one,' he added, addressing
Dolly, 'are within a few hours' journey. You will be restored to
them, I hope, to-night.'

'My uncle, sir--' faltered Emma.

'Your uncle, dear Miss Haredale, happily--I say happily, because he
has succeeded where many of our creed have failed, and is safe--has
crossed the sea, and is out of Britain.'

'I thank God for it,' said Emma, faintly.

'You say well. You have reason to be thankful: greater reason
than it is possible for you, who have seen but one night of these
cruel outrages, to imagine.'

'Does he desire,' said Emma, 'that I should follow him?'

'Do you ask if he desires it?' cried the stranger in surprise. 'IF
he desires it! But you do not know the danger of remaining in
England, the difficulty of escape, or the price hundreds would pay
to secure the means, when you make that inquiry. Pardon me. I had
forgotten that you could not, being prisoner here.'

'I gather, sir,' said Emma, after a moment's pause, 'from what you
hint at, but fear to tell me, that I have witnessed but the
beginning, and the least, of the violence to which we are exposed,
and that it has not yet slackened in its fury?'

He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, lifted up his hands; and
with the same smooth smile, which was not a pleasant one to see,
cast his eyes upon the ground, and remained silent.

'You may venture, sir, to speak plain,' said Emma, 'and to tell me
the worst. We have undergone some preparation for it.'

But here Dolly interposed, and entreated her not to hear the worst,
but the best; and besought the gentleman to tell them the best, and
to keep the remainder of his news until they were safe among their
friends again.

'It is told in three words,' he said, glancing at the locksmith's
daughter with a look of some displeasure. 'The people have risen,
to a man, against us; the streets are filled with soldiers, who
support them and do their bidding. We have no protection but from
above, and no safety but in flight; and that is a poor resource;
for we are watched on every hand, and detained here, both by force
and fraud. Miss Haredale, I cannot bear--believe me, that I cannot
bear--by speaking of myself, or what I have done, or am prepared
to do, to seem to vaunt my services before you. But, having
powerful Protestant connections, and having my whole wealth
embarked with theirs in shipping and commerce, I happily possessed
the means of saving your uncle. I have the means of saving you;
and in redemption of my sacred promise, made to him, I am here;
pledged not to leave you until I have placed you in his arms. The
treachery or penitence of one of the men about you, led to the
discovery of your place of confinement; and that I have forced my
way here, sword in hand, you see.'

'You bring,' said Emma, faltering, 'some note or token from my

'No, he doesn't,' cried Dolly, pointing at him earnestly; 'now I am
sure he doesn't. Don't go with him for the world!'

'Hush, pretty fool--be silent,' he replied, frowning angrily upon
her. 'No, Miss Haredale, I have no letter, nor any token of any
kind; for while I sympathise with you, and such as you, on whom
misfortune so heavy and so undeserved has fallen, I value my life.
I carry, therefore, no writing which, found upon me, would lead to
its certain loss. I never thought of bringing any other token, nor
did Mr Haredale think of entrusting me with one--possibly because
he had good experience of my faith and honesty, and owed his life
to me.'

There was a reproof conveyed in these words, which to a nature like
Emma Haredale's, was well addressed. But Dolly, who was
differently constituted, was by no means touched by it, and still
conjured her, in all the terms of affection and attachment she
could think of, not to be lured away.

'Time presses,' said their visitor, who, although he sought to
express the deepest interest, had something cold and even in his
speech, that grated on the ear; 'and danger surrounds us. If I
have exposed myself to it, in vain, let it be so; but if you and he
should ever meet again, do me justice. If you decide to remain (as
I think you do), remember, Miss Haredale, that I left you with a
solemn caution, and acquitting myself of all the consequences to
which you expose yourself.'

'Stay, sir!' cried Emma--one moment, I beg you. Cannot we--and she
drew Dolly closer to her--'cannot we go together?'

'The task of conveying one female in safety through such scenes as
we must encounter, to say nothing of attracting the attention of
those who crowd the streets,' he answered, 'is enough. I have said
that she will be restored to her friends to-night. If you accept
the service I tender, Miss Haredale, she shall be instantly placed
in safe conduct, and that promise redeemed. Do you decide to
remain? People of all ranks and creeds are flying from the town,
which is sacked from end to end. Let me be of use in some
quarter. Do you stay, or go?'

'Dolly,' said Emma, in a hurried manner, 'my dear girl, this is our
last hope. If we part now, it is only that we may meet again in
happiness and honour. I will trust to this gentleman.'

'No no-no!' cried Dolly, clinging to her. 'Pray, pray, do not!'

'You hear,' said Emma, 'that to-night--only to-night--within a few
hours--think of that!--you will be among those who would die of
grief to lose you, and who are now plunged in the deepest misery
for your sake. Pray for me, dear girl, as I will for you; and
never forget the many quiet hours we have passed together. Say
one "God bless you!" Say that at parting!'

But Dolly could say nothing; no, not when Emma kissed her cheek a
hundred times, and covered it with tears, could she do more than
hang upon her neck, and sob, and clasp, and hold her tight.

'We have time for no more of this,' cried the man, unclenching her
hands, and pushing her roughly off, as he drew Emma Haredale
towards the door: 'Now! Quick, outside there! are you ready?'

'Ay!' cried a loud voice, which made him start. 'Quite ready!
Stand back here, for your lives!'

And in an instant he was felled like an ox in the butcher's
shambles--struck down as though a block of marble had fallen from
the roof and crushed him--and cheerful light, and beaming faces
came pouring in--and Emma was clasped in her uncle's embrace, and
Dolly, with a shriek that pierced the air, fell into the arms of
her father and mother.

What fainting there was, what laughing, what crying, what sobbing,
what smiling, how much questioning, no answering, all talking
together, all beside themselves with joy; what kissing,
congratulating, embracing, shaking of hands, and falling into all
these raptures, over and over and over again; no language can

At length, and after a long time, the old locksmith went up and
fairly hugged two strangers, who had stood apart and left them to
themselves; and then they saw--whom? Yes, Edward Chester and
Joseph Willet.

'See here!' cried the locksmith. 'See here! where would any of us
have been without these two? Oh, Mr Edward, Mr Edward--oh, Joe,
Joe, how light, and yet how full, you have made my old heart to-

'It was Mr Edward that knocked him down, sir,' said Joe: 'I longed
to do it, but I gave it up to him. Come, you brave and honest
gentleman! Get your senses together, for you haven't long to lie

He had his foot upon the breast of their sham deliverer, in the
absence of a spare arm; and gave him a gentle roll as he spoke.
Gashford, for it was no other, crouching yet malignant, raised his
scowling face, like sin subdued, and pleaded to be gently used.

'I have access to all my lord's papers, Mr Haredale,' he said, in a
submissive voice: Mr Haredale keeping his back towards him, and not
once looking round: 'there are very important documents among them.
There are a great many in secret drawers, and distributed in
various places, known only to my lord and me. I can give some very
valuable information, and render important assistance to any
inquiry. You will have to answer it, if I receive ill usage.

'Pah!' cried Joe, in deep disgust. 'Get up, man; you're waited
for, outside. Get up, do you hear?'

Gashford slowly rose; and picking up his hat, and looking with a
baffled malevolence, yet with an air of despicable humility, all
round the room, crawled out.

'And now, gentlemen,' said Joe, who seemed to be the spokesman of
the party, for all the rest were silent; 'the sooner we get back
to the Black Lion, the better, perhaps.'

Mr Haredale nodded assent, and drawing his niece's arm through his,
and taking one of her hands between his own, passed out
straightway; followed by the locksmith, Mrs Varden, and Dolly--who
would scarcely have presented a sufficient surface for all the hugs
and caresses they bestowed upon her though she had been a dozen
Dollys. Edward Chester and Joe followed.

And did Dolly never once look behind--not once? Was there not one
little fleeting glimpse of the dark eyelash, almost resting on her
flushed cheek, and of the downcast sparkling eye it shaded? Joe
thought there was--and he is not likely to have been mistaken; for
there were not many eyes like Dolly's, that's the truth.

The outer room through which they had to pass, was full of men;
among them, Mr Dennis in safe keeping; and there, had been since
yesterday, lying in hiding behind a wooden screen which was now
thrown down, Simon Tappertit, the recreant 'prentice, burnt and
bruised, and with a gun-shot wound in his body; and his legs--his
perfect legs, the pride and glory of his life, the comfort of his
existence--crushed into shapeless ugliness. Wondering no longer at
the moans they had heard, Dolly kept closer to her father, and
shuddered at the sight; but neither bruises, burns, nor gun-shot
wound, nor all the torture of his shattered limbs, sent half so
keen a pang to Simon's breast, as Dolly passing out, with Joe for
her preserver.

A coach was ready at the door, and Dolly found herself safe and
whole inside, between her father and mother, with Emma Haredale and
her uncle, quite real, sitting opposite. But there was no Joe, no
Edward; and they had said nothing. They had only bowed once, and
kept at a distance. Dear heart! what a long way it was to the
Black Lion!

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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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