'Come, come, master,' cried the fellow, urged on by the looks of
his comrades, and slapping him on the shoulder; 'be more com-
panionable and communicative. Be more the gentleman in this
good company. There are tales among us that you have sold
yourself to the devil, and I know not what.'
'We all have, have we not?' returned the stranger, looking up.
'If we were fewer in number, perhaps he would give better wages.'
'It goes rather hard with you, indeed,' said the fellow, as the
stranger disclosed his haggard unwashed face, and torn clothes.
'What of that? Be merry, master. A stave of a roaring song now â '
'Sing you, if you desire to hear one,' replied the other, shaking
him roughly off; 'and don't touch me if you 're a prudent man; I
carry arms which go off easily â they have done so, before now â
and make it dangerous for strangers who don't know the trick of
them, to lay hands upon me.'
'Do you threaten?' said the fellow.
'Yes,' returned the other, rising and turning upon him, and
looking fiercely round as if in apprehension of a general attack.
His voice, and look, and bearing â all expressive of the wildest
recklessness and desperation â daunted while they repelled the by-
standers. Although in a very different sphere of action now, they
were not without much of the effect they had wrought at the May-
'I am what you all are, and live as you all do,' said the man
sternly, after a short silence. 'I am in hiding here like the rest,
and if we were surprised would perhaps do my part with the best of
ye. If it 's my humour to be left to myself, let me have it. Other- I
wise,' â ^and here he swore a tremendous oath â 'there'll be mis-
BARNABY RUDGE 129
chief done in this place, though there are odds of a score against
A low murmur, having its origin perhaps in a dread of the man
and the mystery that surrounded him, or perhaps in a sincere
opinion on the part of some of those present, that it would be an
inconvenient precedent to meddle too curiously with a gentleman's
private affairs if he saw reason to conceal them, warned the fellow
who had occasioned this discussion that he had best pursue it no
further. After a short time the strange man lay down upon a bench
to sleep, and when they thought of him again, they found he was
Next night, as soon as it was dark, he was abroad again and
traversing the streets; he was before the locksmith's house more
than once, but the family were out, and it was close shut. This
night he crossed London Bridge and passed into Southwark. As
he glided down a by-street, a woman with a little basket on her
arm, turned into it at the other end. Directly he observed her, he
sought the shelter of an archway, and stood aside until she had
passed. Then he emerged cautiously from his hiding-place, and
She went into several shops to purchase various kinds of house-
hold necessaries, and round every place at which she stopped he
hovered like her evil spirit; following her when she reappeared.
It was nigh eleven o'clock, and. the passengers in the streets were
thinning fast, when she turned, doubtless to go home. The phan-
tom still followed her.
She turned into the same by-street in which he had seen her
first, which, being free from shops, and narrow, was extremely
dark. She quickened her pace here, as though distrustful of being
stopped, and robbed of such trifling property as she carried with
her. He crept along on the other side of the road. Had she been
gifted with the speed of wind, it seemed as if his terrible shadow
would have tracked her down.
At length the widow â for she it was â reached her own door, and
panting for breath, paused to take the key from her basket. In a
flush and glow, with the haste she had made, and the pleasure of
being safe at home, she stooped to draw it out, when, raising her
130 baJinaby rudge
head, she saw him standing silently beside her: the apparition of a
His hand was on her mouth, but that was needless, for her
tongue clove to its roof, and her power of utterance was gone. 'I
have been looking for you many nights. Is the house empty? An-
swer me. Is any one inside?'
She could only answer by a rattle in her throat.
'Make me a sign.'
She seemed to indicate that there was no one there. He took the
key unlocked the door, carried her in, and secured it carefully
It was a chilly night and the fire in the widow's parlour had burnt
low. Her strange companion placed her in a chair, and stooping
down before the half-extinguished ashes, raked them together and
fanned them With his hat. From time to time he glanced at her
over his shoulder, as though to assure himself of her remaining
quiet and making no effort to depart; and that done, busied him-
self about the fire again.
It was not without reason that he took these pains for his dress
was dank and drenched with wet,- his jaws rattled with cold, and
he shivered from head to foot. It had rained hard during the
previous night and for some hours in the morning, but since noon
it had been fine. Wheresoever he had passed the hours of dark-
ness, his condition sufficiently betokened that many of them had
been spent beneath the open sky. Besmeared with mire; his satu-
rated clothes clinging with a damp embrace about his limbs; his
beard unshaven, his face unwashed, his meagre cheeks worn into
deep hollows, â a more miserable wretch could hardly be, than this
man who now cowered down upon the widow's hearth, and watched
the struggling flame with bloodshot eyes.
She had covered her face with her hands, fearing, as it seemed,
to look towards him. So they remained for some short time in
silence. Glancing round again, he asked at length â
Xs this your house?'
BARNABY RUDGE â¢ 131
'It is. Why, in the name of Heaven, do you darken it?'
'Give me meat and drink,' he answered sullenly, 'or I dare do
more than that. The very marrow in my bones is cold, with wet
and hunger. I must have warmth and food, and I will have them
'You were the robber on the Chigwell road.'
'And nearly a murderer then.'
'The will was not wanting. There was one came upon me and
raised the hue-and-cry, that it would have gone hard with, but for
his nimbleness. I made a thrust at him.'
'You thrust your sword at him!' cried the widow, looking up-
wards. 'You hear this man! you hear and saw!'
He looked at her, as, with her head thrown back, and her hands
tight clenched together, she uttered these words in an agony of
appeal. Then, starting to his feet as she had done, he advanced
'Beware! ' she cried in a suppressed voice, whose firmness stopped
him midway. 'Do not so much as touch me with a finger, or you
are lost; body and soul, you are lost.'
'Hear me,' he replied, menacing her with his hand. 'I, that in
the form of a man live the life of a hunted beast! that in the body
am a spirit, a ghost upon the earth, a thing from which all creatures
shrink, save those curst beings of another world, who will not leave
me; â I am, in my desperation of this night, past all fear but that
of the hell in which I exist from day to day. Give the alarm, cry
out, refuse to shelter me. I will not hurt you. But I will not be
taken alive; and so surely as you threaten me above your breath,
I fall a dead man on this floor. The blood with which I sprinkle it,
be on you and yours, in the name of the Evil Spirit that tempts
men to their ruin ! '
As he spoke, he took a pistol from his breast, and firmly
clutched it in his hand.
'Remove this man from me, good Heaven!' cried the widow. 'In
thy grace and mercy, give him one minute's penitence, and strike
'It has no such purpose,' he said, confronting her. 'It is d'.^af.
132 â¢ BAHNABY RUDGE
Give me to eat and drink, lest I do that it cannot help my doing,
and will not do for you.'
^Will you leave me, if I do thus much? Will you leave me and
return no more?'
'I will promise nothing,' he rejoined, seating himself at the
table, 'nothing but this â I will execute my threat if you betray me.'
She rose at length, and going to a closet or pantry in the room,
brought out some fragments of cold meat and bread and put them
on the table. He asked for brandy, and for water. These she
produced likewise; and he ate and drank with the voracity of a
famished hound. All the time he was so engaged she kept at the
uttermost distance of the chamber, and sat there shuddering, but
with her face towards him. She never turned her back upon him
once; and although when she passed him (as she was obliged to
do in going to and from the cupboard) she gathered the skirts of
her garment about her, as if even its touching his by chance were
horrible to think of, still, in the midst of all this dread and terror,
she kept her face towards his own, and watched his every move-
His repast ended â if that can be called one, which was a mere
ravenous satifying of the calls of hunger â he moved his chair to-
wards the fire again^ and warming himself before the blaze which
had now sprung brightly up accosted her once more.
'I am an outcast, to whom a roof above his head is often an
uncommon luxury, and the food a beggar would reject is delicate
fare. You live at your ease. Do you live alone?'
'I do not,' she made answer with an effort.
'Who dwells here besides?'
'One â it is no matter who. You had best begone, or he may
find you here. Why do you linger?'
'For warmth,' he replied, spreading out his hands before the
fire. 'For warmth. You are rich, perhaps?'
'Very,' she said faintly. 'Very rich. No doubt I am very rich.'
'At least you are not penniless. You have some money. You
were making purchases to-night.'
'I have a little left. It is but a few shillings.'
'Give me your purse. You had it in your hand at the door. Give
it to me.'
BARNABY RUDGE 133
She stepped to the table and laid it down. He reached across,
took it up, and told the contents into his hand. As he was counting
them, she listened for a moment, and sprung towards him.
^Take what there is, take all, take more if more were there, but
go before it is too late. I have heard a wayward step without, I
know full well. It will return directly. Begone.'
'What do you mean?'
'Do not stop to ask. I will not answer. Much as I dread to
touch you, I would drag you to the door if I possessed the strength,
rather than you should lose an instant. Miserable wretch ! fly from
'If there are any spies without, I am safer here,' replied the man,
standing aghast. 'I will remain here, and will not fly till the
danger is past.'
'It is too late!' cried the widow, who had listened for the step,
and not to him. 'Hark to that foot upon the ground. Do you
tremble to hear it! It is my son, my idiot son!'
i\s she said this wildly, there came a heavy knocking at the
door. He looked at her, and she at him.
'Let him come in,' said the man hoarsely. 'I fear him less than
the dark, houseless night. He knocks again. Let him come in! '
'The dread of this hour,' returned the widow, 'has been upon me
all my life, and I will not. Evil will fall upon him if you stand
eye to eye. My blighted boy! Oh! all good angels who know the
truth â hear* a poor mother's prayer, and spare my boy from
knowledge of this man!'
'He rattles at the shutters! ' cried the man. 'He calls you. That
voice' and cry! It was he who grappled with me in the road. Was
She had sunk upon her knees, and so knelt down, moving her
lips, but uttering no sound. As he gazed upon her, uncertain what
to do or where to turn, the shutters flew open. He had barely time
to catch a knife from the table, sheathe it in the loose sleeve of his
coat, hide in the closet, and do all with the lightning's speed, when
Barnaby tapped at the bare glass, and raised the sash exultingly.
'Why, who can keep out Grip and me?' he cried, thrusting in his
head, and staring round the room. 'Are you there, mother? How
long you keep us from the fire and light.'
134 BARNABY RUDGE
She stammered some excuse and tendered him her hand. But
Barnaby sprung lightly in without assistance, and putting his
arms about her neck, kissed her a hundred times.
'We have been afield, motherâ leaping ditches, scrambling
through hedges, running down steep banks, up and away, and
hurrying on. The wind has been blowing, and the rushes and
young plants bowing and bending to it, lest it should do them
harm, the cowards â and Grip â ha ha ha! â brave Grip, who cares
for nothing, and when the wind rolls him over in the dust, turns
manfully to bite it â Grip, bold Grip, has quarrelled with every
little bowing twig â thinking, he told me, that it mocked him â and
has worried it like a bull-dog. Ha ha ha!'
The raven, in his little basket at his master's back, hearing this
frequent mention of his name in a tone of exultation, expressed his
sympathy by crowing like a cock, and afterwards running over his
various phrases of speech with such rapidity, and in so many varie-
ties of hoarseness, that they sounded like the murmurs of a crowd
'He takes such care of me besides!' said Barnaby. 'Such care,
mother. He watches all the time I sleep, and when I shut my eyes
and make-believe to slumber, he practises new learning softly;
but he keeps his eye on me the while, and if he sees me laugh,
though never so little, stops directly. He won't surprise me till he 's
The raven crowed again in a rapturous manner, wJiich plainly
said, 'Those are certainly some of my characteristics, and I glory
in them.' In the meantime, Barnaby closed the window and
secured it, and coming to the fireplace, prepared to sit down- with
his face to the closet. But his mother prevented this, by hastily
taking that side herself, and motioning him towards the other.
'How pale you are to-night!' said Barnaby, leaning on his
stick. 'We have been cruel. Grip, and made her anxious!'
Anxious in good truth, and sick at heart! The listener held
the door of his hiding-place open with his hand, and closely watched
her son. Grip â alive to everything his master was unconscious of
â had his head out of the basket, and in return was watching him
intently with his glistening eye.
'He flaps his wings,' said Barnaby turning almost quickly
BARNABY RUDGE 135
enough to catch the retreating form and closing door, 'as if there
were strangers here, but Grip is wiser than to fancy that. Jump
Accepting this invitation with a dignity peculiar to himself, the
bird hopped up on his master's shoulder from that to his extended
hand, and so to the ground. Barnaby unstrapping the basket and
putting it down in a corner with the lid open, Grip's first care was
to shut it down with all possible despatch, and then to stand upon
it. Believing, no doubt, that he had now rendered it utterly im-
possible, and beyond the power of mortal man, to shut him up in
it any more, he drew a great many corks in triumph, and uttered
a corresponding number of hurrahs.
'Mother!' said Barnaby, laying aside his hat and stick, and
returning to the chair from where he had risen, 'I'll tell you where
we have been to-day, and what we have been doing, â shall I?'
She took his hand in hers, and holding it, nodded the words she
could not speak.
'You mustn't tell,' said Barnaby, holding up his finger, 'for it 's
a secret, mind, and only known to me, and Grip, and Hugh. We
had the dog with us, but he 's not like Grip, clever as he is, and
doesn't guess it yet, I '11 wager. â Why do you look behind me so?'
'Did I?' she answered faintly. 'I didn't know I did. Come
Y'ou are frightened!' said Barnaby, changing colour. 'Mother â
you don't see â '
'There 's â there 's none of this about, is there?' he answered in
a whisper, drawing closer to her and clasping the mark upon his
wrist. 'I am afraid there is, somewhere. You make my hair stand
on end, and my flesh creep. Why do you look like that? Is it in
the room as I have seen it in my dreams, dashing the ceiling and
the walls with red? Tell me. Is it?'
He fell into a shivering fit as he put the question, and shutting
out the light with his hands, sat shaking in every limb until it had
passed away. After a time, he raised his head and looked about
'Is it gone?'
'There has been nothing here,' rejoined his mother, soothing
136 BAIINABY RUDGE
him. 'Nothing indeed, dear Barnaby. Look! You see there are
but you and me.'
He gazed at her vacantly, and, becoming reassured by degrees,
burst into a wild laugh.
'But let us see,' he said, thoughtfully. 'We were talking? Was
at you and me? Where have we been?'
'Nowhere but here.'
'Aye, but Hugh, and I,' said Barnaby, â 'that 's it. Maypole
Hugh, and I, you know, and Grip â we have been lying in the for-
est, and among the trees by the road-side with a dark lantern after
night came on, and the dog in a noose ready to slip him when the
man came by.'
'The robber; him that the stars winked at. We have waited for
liim after dark these many nights and we shall have him. I 'd
know him in a thousand. Mother see here! This is the man.
He twisted his handkerchief round his head, pulled his hat
upon his brow, wrapped his coat about him, and stood up before
lier: so like the original he counterfeited, that the dark figure peer-
ing out behind him might have passed for his own shadow.
'Ha ha ha! We shall have him,' he cried ridding himself of the
semblance as hastily as he had assumed it. 'You shall see him,
mother, bound hand and foot, and brought to London at a saddle-
girth; and you shall hear of him at Tyburn Tree if we have
luck. So Hugh says. You 're pale again, and trembling. And why
do you look behind me so?'
'It is nothing,' she answered. 'I 'm not quite well. Go you to
bed, dear, and leave me here.'
'To bed!' he answered. 'I don't like bed. I like to lie before
the fire, watching the prospects in the burning coals â the rivers,
hills and dells, in the deep, red sunset, and the wild faces. I am
liungry too, and Grip has eaten nothing since broad noon. Let us
to supper. Grip! To supper, lad ! '
The raven flapped his wings, and, croaking his satisfaction,
liopped to the feet of his master, and there held his bill open, ready
for snapping up such lumps of meat as he should throw him. Of
BARNABY RUDGE 137
these he received about a score in rapid succession, without the
'That 's all,' said Barnaby.
'Morel' cried Grip. 'More!'
But it appearing for a certainty that no more was to be had, he
retreated with his store; and disgorging the morsels one by one
from his pouch, hid them in various corners â taking particular
care, however, to avoid the closet, as being doubtful of the hidden
man's propensities and power of resisting temptation. When he
had concluded these arrangements, he took a turn or two across
the room with an elaborate assumption of having nothing on his
mind (but with one eye hard upon his treasure all the time), and
then, and not till then, began to drag it out, piece by piece, and eat
it with the utmost relish.
Barnaby, for his part, having pressed his mother to eat, in vain,
made a hearty supper too. Once during the progress of his meal, he
wanted more bread from the closet and rose to get it. She hur-
riedly interposed to prevent him, and summoning her utmost for-
titude, passed into the recess, and brought it out herself.
'^Mother,' said Barnaby, looking at her steadfastly as she sat
down beside him after doing so; 'is to-day my birthday?'
'To-day!' she answered. Don't you recollect it was but a week
or so ago, and that summer, autumn, and winter has to pass before
it comes again?'
T remember that it has been so till now,' said Barnaby. 'But I
think to-day must be my birthday too, for all that.'
She asked him why? 'I '11 tell you why,' he said. 'I have always
seen you â I didn't let you know it, but Lhave â on the evening of
that day grow very sad. I have seen you cry when Grip and I were
most glad; and look frightened with no reason; and I have touched
your hand, and felt that it was coldâ as it is now. Once, mother
(on a birthday that was, also). Grip and I thought of this after we
went upstairs to bed, and when it was midnight, striking one
o'clock, we came down to your door to see if you were well. You
were on your knees. I forgot what it was you said. Grip, what was
it we heard her say that night?'
'I 'm a devil!' rejoined the raven promptly.
138 BARNABY RUDGE
'No, no/ said Barnaby. 'But you said something in a prayer;
and when you rose and walked about, you looked (as you have
done ever since, mother, towards night on my birthday) just as
you do now. I have found that out, you see, though I am silly. So
I say you 're wrong ; and this must be my birthday â my birthday,
The bird received this information with a crow of such duration
as a cock, gifted with intelligence beyond all others of his kind,
might usher in the longest day with. Then, as if he had well con-
sidered the sentiment, and regarded it as apposite to birthdays,
he cried, 'Never say die!' a great many times, and flapped his
wings for emphasis.
The widow tried to make light of Barnaby 's remark, and en-
deavoured to divert his attention to some new subject; too easy a
task at all times, as she knew. His supper done, Barnaby, re-
gardless of her entreaties stretched himself on the mat before the
fire; Grip perched upon his leg, and divided his time between
dozing in the grateful warmth, and endeavouring (as it presently
appeared) to recall a new accomplishment he had been studying
A long and profound silence ensued, broken only by some
change of position on the part of Barnaby, whose eyes were still
wide open and intently fixed upon the fire; or by an effort of
recollection on the part of Grip, who would cry in a low voice from
time to time, 'Polly put the ket â ' and there stop short, forgetting
the remainder, and go off in a doze again.
After a long interval, Barnaby's breathing grew more deep and
regular, and his eyes were closed. But even then the unquiet spirit
of the raven interposed. 'Polly put the ket â ' cried Grip, and his
master was broad awake again.
At length Barnaby slept soundly, and the bird with his bill sunk
upon his breast, his breast itself puffed out into a comfortable
alderman-like form, and his bright eye growing smaller and smaller,
really seemed to be subsiding into a state of repose. Now and then
he muttered in a sepulchral voice, 'Polly put the ket â ' but very
drowsily, and more like a drunken man than a reflecting raven.
The widow, scarcely venturing to breathe, rose from her seat
The man glided from the closet, and extinguished the candle.
BARNABY RUDGE 139
' â tie on/ cried Grip, suddenly struck with an idea and very
much excited. ' â tie on. Hurrah I Polly put the ket-tle on, we 11
all have tea; Polly put the ket-tle on, we 11 all have tea. Hurrah,
hurrah, hurrah! I 'm a devil, I m a devil, I 'm a ket-tle on, Keep
up your spirits, Never say die, Bow, wow, wow, I "m a devil,
I 'm a ket-tle I 'm a â Polly put the ket-tle on, we 11 all have tea/
They stood rooted to the ground, as though it had been a voice
from the grave.
But even this failed to awaken the sleeper. He turned over
towards the fire, his arm fell to the ground, and his head drooped
heavily upon it. The widow and her unwelcome visitor gazed at
him and at each other for a moment, and then she motioned him
towards the door.
'Stay/ he whispered. 'You teach your son well.'
T have taught him nothing that you heard to-night. Depart
instantly, or I will rouse him.'
'You are free to do so. Shall / rouse him?'
'You dare not do that.'
'I dare do anything, I have told you. He knows me well, it
seems. At least I will know him.'
'Would you kill him in his sleep?' cried the widow, throwing
herself between them.
'Woman,' he returned between his teeth, as he motioned her
aside, 'I would see him nearer, and I will. If you want one of us
to kill the other, wake him.'
With that he advanced, and bending down over the prostrate
form, softly turned back the head and looked into the face. The
light of the lire was upon it, and its every lineament was revealed
distinctly. He contemplated it for a brief space, and hastily uprose.
'Observe.' he whispered in the widow's ear: 'In him, of whose
existence I was ignorant until to-night, I have you in my power. Be
careful how you use me. Be careful how you use me. I am des-