'Why do you spend so much breath in avoiding me?' said Hugh,
accommodating his pace to hers, and keeping close at her side.
'I wish to get back as quickly as I can, and you walk too near
me,' answered Dolly.
'Too near!' said Hugh, stooping over her so that she could feel
his breath upon her forehead. 'Why too near? You 're always
proud to me, mistress.'
'I am proud to no one. You mistake me,' answered Dolly. 'Fall
back, if you please, or go on.'
'Nay, mistress,' he rejoined, endeavouring to draw her arm
through his, 'I '11 walk with you.'
162 BARNABY RUDGE
She released herself, and clenching her little hand, struck him
with right good will. At this, Maypole Hugh burst into a roar of
laughter, and passing his arm about her waist, held her in his strong
grasp as easily as if she had been a bird.
'Ha ha ha! Well done, mistress! Strike again. You shall beat
my face, and tear my hair, and pluck my beard up by the roots,
and welcome, for the sake of your bright eyes. Strike again, mis-
tress. Do. Ha ha ha! I like it.'
'Let me go,' she cried, endeavouring with both her hands to push
him off. 'Let me go this moment.'
'You had as good be kinder to me, Sweetlips,' said Hugh. 'You
had indeed. Come. Tell me now. Why are you always so proud?
I don't quarrel with you for it. I love you when you 're proud. Ha
ha ha! You can't hide your beauty from a poor fellow; that's a
She gave him no answer, but as he had not yet checked her pro-
gress, continued to press forward as rapidly as she could. At length,
between the hurry she had made, her terror, and the tightness of
his emibrace, her strength failed her, and she could go no further.
'Hugh,' cried the panting girl, 'good Hugh; if you will leave me
I will give you anything â€” everything I have â€” and never tell one
word of this to any living creature.'
'You had best not,' he answered. 'Harkye, little dove, you had
best not. All about here know me, and what I dare do if I have a
mind. If ever you are going to tell, stop when the words are on
your lips, and think of the mischief you '11 bring, if you do, upon
some innocent heads that you wouldn't wish to hurt a hair o;.
Bring trouble on me, and I '11 bring trouble and something more on
them in return. I care no more for them than for so many dogs;
not so much â€” why should I? I 'd sooner kill a man than a dog any
day. I 've never been sorry for a man's death in all my life, and I
have for a dog's.'
There v/as something so thoroughly savage in the manner of
these expressions, and the looks and gestures by which they were
accompanied, that her great fear of him gave her new strength,
and enabled her by a sudden effort to extricate herself and run
fleetly from him. But Hugh was as nimble, strong, and swift of
foot, as any man in broad England, and it was but a fruitless ex-
BARNABY RUDGE 163
penditure of energy, for he had her in his encircHng arms again
before she had gone a hundred yards.
'Softly, darUngâ€” gently â€” would you fly from rough Hugh, that
loves you as well as any drawing-room gallant?'
'I would,' she answered, struggling to free herself again. 'I will.
'A fine for crying out,' said Hugh. 'Ha ha ha! A fine, pretty one,
from your lips. I pay myself! Ha ha ha!'
'Help! help! help! ' As she shrieked with the utmost violence she
could exert, a shout was heard in answer, and another, and another.
'Thank Heaven! ' cried the girl in an ecstacy. 'Joe, dear Joe, this
Her assailant paused, and stood irresolute for a moment, but the
shouts drawing nearer and coming quick upon them, forced him to
a speedy decision. He released her, whispered with a menacing
look, 'Tell him: and see what follows!' and leaping the hedge, was
gone in an instant. Dolly darted off, and fairly ran into Joe Willet's
'What is the matter? are you hurt? w^hat was it? who was it?
where is he? what was he like?' with a great many encouraging ex-
pressions and assurances of safety, were the first words Joe poured
forth. But poor little Dolly was so breathless and terrified that for
some time she was quite unable to answer him, and hung upon his
shoulder, sobbing and crying as if her heart would break.
Joe had not the smallest objection to have her hanging on his
shoulder; no, not the least, though it crushed the cherry-coloured
ribbons sadly, and put the smart little hat out of all shape. But he
couldn't bear to see her cry; it went to his very heart. He tried to
console her, bent over her, whispered to her â€” some say kissed her,
but that 's a fable. At any rate he said all the kind and tender
things he could think of, and Dolly let him go on and didn't inter-
rupt him once, and it was a good ten minutes before she was able
to raise her head and thank him.
'What was it that frightened you?' said Joe.
A man whose person was unknown to her had followed her, she
answered; he began by begging, and went on to threats of robbery,
which he was on the point of carrying into execution, and would
have executed, but for Joe's timely aid. The hesitation and con-
164 BARNABY RUDGE
fusion with which she said this, Joe attributed to the fright she had
sustained, and no suspicion of the truth occurred to him for a
'Stop when the words are on your lips.' A hundred times that
night, and very often afterwards, when the disclosure was rising to
her tongue, Dolly thought of that, and repressed it. A deeply
rooted dread of the man ; the conviction that his ferocious nature,
once roused, would stop at nothing; and the strong assurance that
if she impeached him, the full measure of his wrath and vengeance
would be wreaked on Joe, who had preserved her; these v>^ere con-
siderations she had not the courage to overcome, and inducements
to secrecy too powerful for her to surmount.
Joe, for his part, was a great deal too happy to inquire very
curiously into the matter; and Dolly being yet too tremulous to
walk without assistance, they went forward very slowly, and in his
mind very pleasantly, until the Maypole lights were near at handj
twinkling their cheerful welcome, when Dolly stopped suddenly
and with a half scream exclaimed,
'What letter?' cried Joe.
'That I was carrying â€” I had it in my hand. My bracelet too,'
she said, clasping her wTist. T have lost them both.'
'Do you mean just now?' said Joe.
'Either I dropped them then, or they were taken from me.'
answered Dolly, vainly searching her pocket and rustling her dress.
'They are gone, both gone. What an unhappy girl I am!' With
these words poor Dolly, who to do her justice was quite as sorry
for the loss of the letter as for her bracelet, fell a crying again, and
bemoaned her fate most movingly.
Joe tried to comfort her with the assurance that directly he had
housed her in the Maypole, he would return to the spot with a lan-
tern (for it was now quite dark) and make strict search for the
missing articles, which there was great probability of his finding,
as it was not likely that anybody had passed that way since, and
she was not conscious that they had been forcibly taken from her.
Dolly thanked him very heartily for this offer, though with no great
hope of his quest being successful ; and so with many lamentations
on her side, and many hopeful words on his, and much weakness on
BARNABY RUDGE 165
the part of Dolly and much tender supporting on the part of Joe,
they reached the Maypole bar at last, where the locksmith and his
wife and old John were yet keeping high festival.
]Mr. Willet received the intelligence of Dolly's trouble with that
surprising presence of mind and readiness of speech for which he
was so eminently distinguished above all other men. Mrs. Varden
expressed her sympathy for her daughter's distress by scolding her
roundly for being so late; and the honest locksmith divided him-
self between condoling with and kissing Dolly, and shaking hands
heartily with Joe, whom he could not sufficiently praise or thank.
In preference to this latter point, old John was far from agreeing
with his friend; for besides that he by no means approved of an
adventurous spirit in the abstract, it occurred to him that if his
son and heir had been seriously damaged in a scuffle, the conse-
quences would assuredly have been expensive and inconvenient,
and might perhaps have proved detrimental to the Maypole busi-
ness. Wherefore, and because he looked with no favourable eye
upon young girls, but rather considered that they and the whole
female sex were a kind of nonsensical mistake on the part of
Nature, he took occasion to retire and shake his head in private at
the boiler; inspired by which silent oracle, he was moved to give
Joe various stealthy nudges with his elbow, as a parental reproof
and gentle admonition to mind his own business and not make a
fool of himself.
Joe, however, took down the lantern and lighted it: and arming
himself with a stout stick, asked whether Hugh was in the stable.
'He 's lying asleep before the kitchen fire, sir,' said Mr. Willet.
'What do you want him for?'
'I want him to come with me to look after this bracelet and let-
ter,' answered Joe. 'Halloa there I Hugh!'
Dolly turned pale as death, and felt as if she must faint forth-
with. After a few moments, Hugh came staggering in, stretching
himself and yawning according to custom, and presenting every
appearance of having been roused from a sound nap.
'Here, sleepy-head,' said Joe, giving him the lantern. 'Carry
this, and bring the dog, and that small cudgel of yours. And woe
betide the fellow if we come upon him.'
166 BARNABY RUDGE
'What fellow?' growled Hugh, rubbing his eyes and shaking him-
'What fellow?' returned Joe, who was in a state of great valour
and bustle; 'a fellow you ought to know of, and be more alive
about. It 's well for the like of you, lazy giant that you are, to be
snoring your time away in chimney-corners, when honest men's
daughters can't cross even our quiet meadows at nightfall without
being set upon by footpads, and frightened out of their precious
'They never rob me,' cried Hugh with a laugh. 'I have got noth-
ing to lose. But I 'd as lief knock them at head as any other men.
How many are there?'
'Only one,' said Dolly faintly, for everybody looked at her.
'And what was he like, mistress?' said Hugh with a glance at
young Willet, so slight and momentary that the scowl it conveyed
was lost on all but her. 'About my height?'
'No â€” not so tall,' Dolly replied, scarce knowing what she said.
'His dress,' said Hugh, looking at her keenly, 'like â€” like any of
ours now? I know all the people hereabouts, and maybe could give
a guess at the man, if I had anything to guide me.'
Dolly faltered and turned paler yet ; then answered that he was
wrapped in a loose coat and had his face hidden by a handkerchief,
and that she could give no other description of him.
'You wouldn't know him if you saw him then, belike?' said Hugh
with a malicious grin.
'I should not,' answered Dolly, bursting into tears again. 'I
don't wish to see him. I can't bear to think of him. I can't talk
about him any more. Don't go to look for these things, Mr. Joe,
pray don't. I entreat you not to go with that man.'
'Not to go with me!' cried Hugh. 'I 'm too rough for them all.
They 're all afraid of me. Why, bless you, mistress, I 've the ten-
derest heart alive. I love all the ladies, ma'am,' said Hugh, turning
to the locksmith's wife.
Mrs. Varden opined that if he did, he ought to be ashamicd of
himself; such sentiments being more consistent (so she argued)
with a benighted Mussulman or wild Islander than with a staunch
Protestant. Arguing from this imperfect state of his morals, ]>Jrs.
Varden further opined that he had never studied the Manual.
BARNABY RUDGE 167
Hugh admitting that he never had, and moreover that he couldn't
read, Mrs. Varden declared with much severity, that he ought to be
even more ashamed of himself than before, and strongly recom-
mended him to save up his pocket-money for the purchase of one,
and further to teach himself the contents with all convenient dili-
gence. She was still pursuing this train of discourse, when Hugh,
somewhat unceremoniously and irreverently, followed his young
master out, and left her to edify the rest of the company. This she
proceeded to do, and finding that Mr. Willet's eyes were fixed upon
her with an appearance of deep attention, gradually addressed the
whole of her discourse to him, whom she entertained with a moral
and theological lecture of considerable length, in the conviction
that great workings were taking place in his spirit. The simple
truth wasâ€ž however, that ^Ir. Willet, although his eyes were wide
open and he saw a woman before him whose head by long and
steady looking at seemed to grow bigger and bigger until it filled
the whole bar, was to all other intents and purposes fast asleep;
and so sat leaning back in his chair with his hands in his pockets
until his son's return caused him to wake up with a deep sigh, and
a faint impression that he had been dreaming about pickled pork
and greens â€” a vision of his slumbers which was no doubt referable
to the circumstance of Mrs. Varden's having frequently pronounced
the word 'Grace' with much emphasis; which word, entering the
portals of Mr. Willet's brain as they stood ajar, and coupling itself
with the words 'before meat,' which were there ranging about, did
in time suggest a particular kind of meat together with that des-
cription of vegetable which is usually its companion.
The search was wholly unsuccessful. Joe had groped along the
path a dozen times, and among the grass, and in the dry ditch, and
in the hedge, but all in vain. Dolly, who was quite inconsolable for
her loss, wrote a note to Miss Haredale giving her the same account
of it that she had given at the Maypole, which Joe undertook to
deliver as soon as the family were stirring next day. That done,
they sat down to tea in the bar, where there was an uncommon dis-
play of buttered toast, and â€” in order that they might not grow
faint for want of sustenance, and might have a decent halting-
place or half-way house between dinner and supper â€” a few savoury
trifles in the shape of great rashers of broiled ham, which being well
168 BARNABY BUDGE
cured, done to a turn, and smoking hot, sent forth a tempting and
Mrs. Varden was seldom very Protestant at meals, unless it hap-
pened that they were under-done, or over-done, or indeed that
anything occurred to put her out of humour. Her spirits rose con-
siderably on beholding these goodly preparations, and from the
nothingness of good works, she passed to the somethingness of ham
and toast with great cheerfulness. Nay, under the influence of these
wholesome stimulants, she sharply reproved her daughter for being
fow and despondent (which she considered an unacceptable frame
of mind), and remarked, as she held her own plate for a fresh
supply, that it would be well for Dolly, who pined over the loss of
a toy and a sheet of paper, if she would reflect upon the voluntary
sacrifices of the missionaries in foreign parts who lived, chiefly on
The proceedings of such a day occasion various fluctuations in
the human thermometer, and especially in instruments so sensi-
tively and delicately constructed as Mrs. Varden. Thus, at dinner
^Irs. V. stood at summer heat; genial, smiling, and delightful.
After dinner, in the sunshine of the wine, she went up at least half
a dozen degrees, and was perfectly enchanting. As its effect sub-
sided, she fell rapidly, went to sleep for an hour or so at temperate,
and woke at something below freezing. Now she was at summer
he?t again, in the shade; and when tea was over, and old John,
producing a bottle of cordial from one of the oaken cases, insisted
on her sipping two glasses thereof in slow succession, she stood
steadily at ninety for one hour and a quarter. Profiting by exper-
ience, the locksmith took advantage of this genial weather to smoke
his pipe in the porch, and in consequence of this prudent arrange-
ment, he was fully prepared, when the glass went down again, to
start homewards directly.
The horse was accordingly put in, and the chaise brought round
to the door. Joe, who would on no account be dissuaded from es-
corting them until they had passed the most dreary and solitary
part of the road, led out the grey mare at the same time; and hav-
ing helped Dolly into her seat (more happiness!), sprung gaily
into the saddle. Then, after many good-nights, and admonitions to
BARXABY RUDGE 169
wrap up, and glancing of lights, and handing in of cloaks and
shawls, the chaise rolled away, and Joe trotted beside it â€” on
Dolly's side, no doubt, and pretty close to the wheel too.
It was a fine bright night, and for all her lowness of spirits Dolly
kept looking up at the stars in a manner so bewitching (and she
knew it! ) that Joe was clean out of his senses, and plainly showed
that if ever a man were â€” not to say over head and ears, but over
the Monument and the top of Saint Paul's in love, that man was
himself. The road was a very good one; not at all a jolting road,
or an uneven one; and yet Dolly held the side of the chaise with
one little hand, all the way. If there had been an executioner be-
hind him with an uplifted axe ready to chop off his head if he
touched that hand, Joe couldn't have helped doing it. From put-
ting his own hand upon it as if by chance, and taking it away again
after a minute or so, he got to riding along without taking it off
at all; as if he, the escort, were bound to do that as an important
part of his duty, and had come out for the purpose. The most
curious circumstance about that little incident was, that Dolly
didn't seem to know of it. She looked so innocent and unconscious
when she turned her eyes on Joe, that it was quite provoking.
She talked though; talked about her fright, and about Joe's
coming up to rescue her, and about her gratitude, and about her
fear that she might not have thanked him enough, and about their
always being friends from that time forth â€” and about all that sort
of thing. And when Joe said, not friends he hoped, Dolly was quite
surprised, and said not enemies she hoped; and when Joe said,
couldn't they be something much better than either, Dolly all of
a sudden found out a star which was brighter than all the other
stars, and begged to call his attention to the same, and was ten
thousand times more innocent and unconscious than ever.
In this manner they travelled along, talking very little above a
whisper, and wishing the road could be stretched out to some dozen
ITO BARNABY RUDGE
times its natural length â€” at least that was Joe's desire â€” when, as
they were getting clear of the forest and emerging on the more fre-
quented road, they heard behind them the sound of a horse's feet
at a round trot, which growing rapidly louder as it drew nearer,
elicited a scream from ]Mrs. Varden, and the cry 'a friend I' from
the rider, who now came panting up, and checked his horse beside
'This man again!' cried Dolly, shuddering.
'Hugh!' said Joe. 'What errand are you upon?'
'I come to ride back with you,' he answered, glancing covertly at
the locksmith's daughter. 'He sent me.'
'My father! ' said poor Joe; adding under his breath, with a very
unfilial apostrophe, 'Will he never think me man enough to take
care of myself!'
'Aye! ' returned Hugh to the first part of the inquiry. 'The roads
are not safe just now, he says, and you 'd better have a companion.'
'Ride on then,' said Joe. 'I 'm not going to turn yet.'
Hugh complied, and they went on again. It was his whim or
humour to ride immediately before the chaise, and from this posi-
tion he constantly turned his head, and looked back. Dolly felt
that he looked at her, but she averted her eyes and feared to raise
them once, so great was the dread with which he had inspired her.
This interruption, and the consequent wakefulness of Mrs. Var-
den, who had been nodding in her sleep up to this point, except for
a minute or two at a time, when she roused herself to scold the
locksmith for audaciously taking hold of her to prevent her nod-
ding herself out of the chaise, put a restraint upon the whispered
conversation, and made it difficult of resumption. Indeed, before
they had gone another mile, Gabriel stopped at his wife's desire,
and that good lady protested she would not hear of Joe's going a
step further on any account whatever. It was in vain for Joe to
protest on the other hand that he was by no means tired, and
would turn back presently, and would see them safely past such
and such a point, and so forth. Mrs. Varden was obdurate, and
being so was not to be overcome by mortal agency.
'Good-night â€” if I must say it,' said Joe, sorrowfully.
'Good-night,' said Dolly. She would have added, 'Take care of
that man, and pray don't trust him,' but he had turned his horse's
BARNABV RUDGE 171
head, and was standing close to them. She had therefore nothing
for it but to suffer Joe to give her hand a gentle squeeze, and when
the chaise had gone on for some distance, to look back and wave it,
as he still lingered on the spot where they had parted, with the tall
dark figure of Hugh beside him..
What she thought about, going home; and whether the coach-
maker held as favourable a place in her m.editations as he had oc-
cupied in the morning, is unknown. They reached home at last â€”
at last, for it was a long way, made none the shorter by Mrs. Var-
den's grumbling. Miggs hearing the sound of wheels was at the
'Here they are, SimmunI Here they are I ' cried ]\liggs, clapping
her hands, and issuing forth to help her mistress alight. 'Bring a
chair, Sim.mun. Now, an't you the better for it, mim? Don't you
feel more yourself than you vÂ»^ould have done if you 'd have stopped
at home? Oh, gracious I how cold you are I Goodness me, sir, she 's
a perfect heap of ice.'
'I can't help it, my good girl. You had better take her in to the
fire,' said the locksmith.
'blaster sounds unfeeling, mim,' said ^liggs, in a tone of com-
miseration, 'but such is not his intentions, I 'm sure. After what he
has seen of you this day, I never will believe but that he has a deal
more affection in his heart than to speak unkind. Come in and sit.
yourself down by the iire; there 's a good dear â€” do.'
Mrs. Varden complied. The locksmith followed with his hands
in his pockets, and Mr. Tappertit trundled off with the chaise to
a neighbouring stable.
'IMartha, my dear,' said the locksmith, when they reached the
parlour, 'if you '11 look to Dolly yourself, or let somebody else do
it, perhaps it will be only kind and reasonable. She has been fright-
ened, you know, and is not at all well to-night.'
In fact, Dolly had thrown herself upon the sofa, quite regardless
of all the little finery of which she had been so proud in the morn-
ing, and with her face buried in her hands was crying very much.
At first sight of this phenomenon (for Dolly was by no means
accustomed to displays of this sort, rather learning from her
mother's example to avoid them as much as possible) ]Mrs. Varden
expressed her belief that never was any woman so beset as she;
172 BARNAB\ RUDGE
that her life was a continued scene of trial; that whenever she was
disposed to be well and cheerful, so sure were the people around her
to throw, by some means or other, a damp upon her spirits; and
that, as she had enjoyed herself that day, and Heaven knew it was
very seldom she did enjoy herself, so she was now to pay the
penalty. To all such propositions Miggs assented freely. Poor
Dolly, however, grew none the better for these restoratives, but
rather worse, indeed; and seeing that she was really ill, both Mrs.
Varden and Miggs were moved to compassion, and tended her in
But even then, their very kindness shaped itself into their usual
course of policy, and though Dolly was in a swoon, it was rendered
clear to the meanest capacity, that Mrs. Varden was the sufferer.
Thus when Dolly began to get a little better, and passed into that
stage in which matrons hold that remonstrance and argument may
be successfully applied, her mother represented to her, with tears
in her eyes, that if she had been flurried and worried that day, she
must remember it was the common lot of humanity, and in es-
pecial of womankind, who through the whole of their existence
must expect no less, and were bound to make up their minds to
meek endurance and patient resignation. Mrs. Varden entreated