me the justice, dear Miss Haredale, to remember that. Your uncle
and myself were enemies in early life, and if I had sought retalia-
tion, I might have found it here. But as we grow older, we grow
wiser â better, I would fain hope â and from the first, I have op-
posed him in this attempt. I foresaw the end, and would have
spared you if I could.'
'Speak plainly, sir,' she faltered. 'You deceive me, or are de-
228 BARNABY RUDGE
ceived yourself. I do not believe you â I cannot â I should not.'
'First,' said Mr. Chester, soothingly, 'for there may be in your
mind some latent angry feeling to which I would not appeal, pray
take this letter. It reached my hand by chance, and by mistake,
and should have accounted to you (as I am told) for my son's not
answering some other note of yours. God forbid, Miss Haredale,'
said the good gentleman, with great emotion 'that there should be
in your gentle breast one causeless ground of quarrel with him.
You should know, and you will see, that he was in no fault here.'
There appeared something so very candid, so scrupulously hon-
ourable, so very truthful and just in this course â something which
rendered the upright person who resorted to it, so worthy of belief
â that Emma's heart, for the first time, sunk within her. She
turned away and burst into tears.
'I would,' said Mr. Chester, leaning over her, and speaking in
mild and quite venerable accents; T would, dear girl, it were my
task to banish, not increase, those tokens of your grief. My son,
my erring son, â I will not call him deliberately criminal in this,
for men so young, who have been inconstant twice or thrice be-
fore, act without reflection, almost without a knowledge of the
wrong they do, â will break his plighted faith to you; has broken
it even now. Shall I stop here, and having given you this warning,
leave it to be fulfilled; or shall I go on?'
You will go on, sir,' she answered, 'and speak more plainly yet,
in justice both to him and me.'
'My dear girl,' said Mr. Chester, bending over her more affec-
tionately still ; 'whom I would call my daughter, but the Fates for-
bid, Edward seeks to break with you upon a false and most un-
warrantable pretence. I have it on his own showing; in his own
hand. Forgive me, if I have had a watch upon his conduct; I am
his father; I had a regard for your peace and his honour, and no
better resource was left me. There lies on his desk at this present
moment, ready for transmission to you, a letter, in which he tells
you that our poverty â our poverty; his and mine, Miss Haredale
â forbids him to pursue his claim upon your hand; in which he
offers, voluntarily proposes, to free you from your pledge; and
talks magnanimously (men do so, very commonly, in such cases)
of being in time more worthy of your regard â and so forth. A let-
BARNABY RUDGE 229
ter, to be plain, in which he not only jilts you â pardon the word:
I would summon to your aid your pride and dignity â not only jilts
you, I fear, in favour of the object whose slighting treatment first
inspired his brief passion for yourself and gave it birth in wounded
vanity, but affects to make a merit and a virtue of the act.'
She glanced proudly at him once more, as by an involuntary^
impulse, and with a swelling breast rejoined, 'If what you say be
true, he takes much needless trouble, sir, to compass his design.
He is very tender of my peace of mind. I quite thank him.'
'The truth of what I tell you, dear young lady,' he replied, 'you
will test by the receipt or non-receipt of the letter of which I speak.
â Haredale, my dear fellow, I am delighted to see you, although
we meet under singular circumstances, and upon a melancholy oc-
casion. I hope you are very well.'
At these words the young lady raised her eyes, which were filled
with tears; and seeing that her uncle indeed stood before them,
and being quite unequal to the trial of hearing or of speaking one
word more, hurriedly withdrew, and left them. They stood looking
at each other, and at her retreating figure, and for a long time
neither of them spoke.
'What does this mean? Explain it,' said Mr. Haredale at length.
'Why are you here, and why with her?'
'My dear friend.' rejoined the other, resuming his accustomed
manner with infinite readiness, and throwing himself upon the
bench with a wear>' air, 'you told me not very long ago, at that
delightful old tavern of which you are the esteemed proprietor
(and a most charming establishment it is for persons of rural pur-
suits and in robust health, who are not liable to take cold), that I
had the head and heart of an evil spirit in all matters of deception.
I thought at the time; I really did think; you flattered me. But
now I begin to wonder at your discernment, and vanity apart, do
honestly believe you spoke the truth. Did you ever counterfeit ex-
treme ingenuousness and honest indignation? My dear fellow, you
have no conception, if you never did, how faint the effort makes
Mr. Haredale surveyed him with a look of cold contempt. 'You
may evade an explanation, I know,' he said, folding his arms. But
I must have it. I can wait.'
230 BARNABY RUDGE
'Not at all. Not at all, my good fellow. You shall not wait a mo-
ment,' returned his friend, as he lazily crossed his legs. 'The sim-
plest thing in the world. It lies in a nutshell. Ned has written her
a letter â a boyish, honest, sentimental composition, which remains
as 3^et in his desk, because he hasn't had the heart to send it. T
have taken a liberty, for which my parental affection and anxiety
are a sufficient excuse, and possessed myself of the contents. I
have described them to your niece (a most enchanting person,
Haredale; quite an angelic creature), with a little colouring and
description adapted to our purpose. It's done. You may be quite
easy. It's all over. Deprived of their adherents and mediators; her
pride and jealousy roused to the utmost ; with nobody to undeceive
her, and you to confirm me; you will find that their intercourse
will close with her answer. If she receives Ned's letter by to-mor-
row noon, you may date their parting from to-morrow night. No
thanks, I beg; you owe me none. I have acted for myself; and if I
have forwarded our compact with all the ardour even you could
have desired, I have done so selfishly, indeed.'
'I curse the compact, as you call it, with my whole heart and
soul,' returned the other. Tt was made in an evil hour. I have
bound myself to a lie; I have leagued m3^self with you; and though
I did so with a righteous motive, and though it cost me such an
effort as haply few men know, I hate and despise myself for the
Y^ou are very warm,' said Mr. Chester with a languid smile.
'I am warm. I am maddened by your coldness. 'Death, Chester,
if your blood ran warmer in your veins, and there were no re-
straints upon me, such as those that hold and drag me back â well;
it is done; you tell me so, and on such a point I may believe you.
When I am most remorseful for this treachery, I will think of you
and your marriage, and try to justify myself in such remem-
brances, for having torn asunder Emma and your son, at any cost.
Our bond is cancelled now, and we m.ay part.'
Mr. Chester kissed his hand gracefully ; and with the same tran-
quil face he had preserved throughoutâ even when he had seen his
companion so tortured and transported by his passion that his
whole frame was shaken â lay in his lounging posture on the seat
and watched him as he walked away.
BARNABY RUDGE 231
'My scape-goat and my drudge at school,' he said, raising his
head to look after him; 'my friend of later days, who could not
keep his mistress when he had won her and threw me in her way
to carry off the prize; I triumph in the present and the past. Bark
on, ill-favoured, ill-conditioned cur; fortune has ever been with me
â I like to hear you.'
The spot where they had met, was in an avenue of trees. ]\Ir.
Haredale not passing out on either hand, had walked straight on.
He chanced to turn his head when at some considerable distance,
and seeing that his late companion had by this time risen and was
looking after him, stood still as though he half expected him to
follow and waited for his coming up.
'It may come to that one day, but not yet,' said Mr. Chester,
waving his hand, as though they were the best of friends, and turn-
ing away. 'Xot yet, Haredale. Life is pleasant enough to me: dull
and full of heaviness to you. Xo. To cross swords with such a man
â to indulge his humour unless upon extremity â would be w-eak
For all that he drew his sword as he walked along, and in an ab-
sent humour ran his eye from hilt to point full twenty times. But
thoughtfulness begets wrinkles; remembering this, he soon put it
up, smoothed his contracted brow, hummed a gay tune with
greater gaiety of manner, and was his unruffled self again.
A HOMELY proverb recognises the existence of a troublesome class
of persons who, having an inch conceded them, will take an ell.
X'ot to quote the illustrious examples of those heroic scourges of
mankind, whose amiable path in life has been from birth to death
through blood, and fire, and ruin, and who would seem to have
existed for no better purpose than to teach mankind that as the
absence of pain is pleasure, so the earth, purged of their presence,
may be deemed a blessed place â not to quote such mighty in-
stances, it will be sufficient to refer to old John Willet.
Old John having long encroached a good standard inch, full
232 BARNABY RUDGE
measure, on the liberty of Joe, and having snipped off a Flemish
ell in the matter of the parole, grew so despotic and so great, that
his thirst for conquest knew no bounds. The more young Joe sub-
mitted, the more absolute old John became. The ell soon faded
into nothing. Yards, furlongs, miles arose; and on went old John
in the pleasantest manner possible, trimming off an exuberance in
this place, shearing away some liberty of speech or action in that,
and conducting himself in his small way with as much high mighti-
ness and majesty, as the most glorious tyrant that ever had his
statue reared in the public ways, of ancient or of modern times.
As great men are urged on to the abuse of power (when they
need urging, which is not often), by their flatterers and depend-
ents, so old John was impelled to these exercises of authority by
the applause and admiration of his Maypole cronies, who, in the
intervals of their nightly pipes and pots, would shake their heads
and say that Mr. Willet was a father of the good old English sort;
that there were no new-fangled notions or modern ways in him;
that he put them in mind of what their fathers were when they
were boys ; that there was no mistake about him ; that it would be
well for the country if there were more like him, and more was the
pity that there were not ; with many other original remarks of that
nature. Then they would condescendingly give Joe to understand
that it was all for his good, and he would be thankful for it one
day; and in particular, Mr. Cobb would acquaint him, that when
he was his age, his father thought no more of giving him a parental
kick, or a box on the ears, or a cuff on the head, or some little ad-
monition of that sort, than he did of any other ordinary duty of
life ; and he would further remark, with looks of great significance,
that but for his judicious bringing up, he might have never been
the man he was at that present speaking; which was probable
enough, as he was, beyond all question, the dullest dog of the
party. In short, between old John and old John's friends,- there
never was an unfortunate young fellow so bullied, badgered, wor-
ried, fretted, and brow-beaten; so constantly beset, or made so
tired of his life, as poor Joe Willet.
This had come to be the recognised and established state of
things; but as John was very anxious to flourish his supremacy be-
BARNABY RUDGE 233
fore the eyes of Mr. Chester, he did that day exceed himself, and
did so goad and chafe his son and heir, that but for Joe's having
made a solemn vow to keep his hands in his pockets when they were
not otherwise engaged, it is impossible to say what he might have
done with them. But the longest day has an end, and at length Mr.
Chester came downstairs to mount his horse, which was ready at
As old John was not in the way at the moment, Joe, who was
sitting in the bar ruminating on his dismal fate and the manifold
perfections of Dolly Varden, ran out to hold the guest's stirrup
and assist him to mount. Mr. Chester was scarcely in the saddle,
and Joe was in the very act of making him a graceful bow, when
old John came diving out of the porch, and collared him.
'None of that, sir,' said John, 'none of that, sir. No breaking of
patroles. How dare you come out of the door, sir, without leave?
You're trying to get away, sir, are you, and to make a traitor of
yourself again? What do you mean, sir?'
'Let me go, father,' said Joe, imploringly, as he marked the
smile upon their visitor's face, and observed the pleasure his dis-
grace afforded him. 'This is too bad. Who wants to get away?'
'Who wants to get away!' cried John, shaking him. 'Why you
do, sir, you do. You're the boy, sir,' added John, collaring with one
hand, and aiding the effect of a farewell bow to the visitor with the
other, 'that wants to sneak into houses, and stir up differences be-
tween noble gentlemen and their sons, are you, eh? Hold your
Joe made no effort to reply. It was the crowning circumstance
of his degradation. He extricated himself from his father's grasp,
darted an angry look at the departing guest, ancj returned into the
'But for her,' thought Joe, as he threw his arms upon a table in
the common room, and laid his head upon them, 'but for Dolly,
who I couldn't bear should think me the rascal they would make
me out to be if I ran away, this house and I should part to-night.'
It being evening by this time, Solomon Daisy, Tom Cobb, and
Long Parkes, were all in the common room too, and had from the
window been witnesses of what had just occurred. Mr. Willet join-
234 BARNABY RUDGE
ing them soon afterwards, received the compliments of the com-
pany with great composure, and lighting his pipe, sat down among
'We'll see, gentlemen,' said John, after a long pause, 'who's
the master of this house, and who isn't. We'll see whether boys are
to govern men, or men are to govern boys.'
'And quite right too,' assented Solomon Daisy with some ap-
proving nods; 'quite right, Johnny. Very good, Johnny. Well said,
Mr. Willet. Brayvo, sir.'
John slowly brought his eyes to bear upon him, looked at him
for a long time, and finally made answer, to the unspeakable con-
sternation of his hearers, 'When I want encouragement from you,
sir, I'll ask you for it. You let me alone, sir. I can get on without
you, I hope. Don't you tackle me, sir, if you please.'
'Don't take it ill, Johnny; I didn't mean any harm,' pleaded the
'Very good, sir,' said John, more than usually obstinate after his
late success. 'Never mind, sir. I can stand prett}^ firm of myself,
sir, I believe, without being shored up by you.' And having given
utterance to this retort, Mr. Willet fixed his eyes upon the boiler,
and fell into a kind of tobacco-trance.
The spirits of the company being somewhat damped by this
embarrassing line of conduct on the part of their host, nothing
more was said for a long time; but at length Mr. Cobb took upon
himself to remark, as he rose to knock the ashes out of his pipe,
that he hoped Joe would thenceforth learn to obey his father in all
things; that he had found that day, he was not one of the sort of
men who were to be trifled with; and that he would recommend
him, poetically speaking, to mind his eye for the future.
'I'd recommend you, in return,' said Joe, looking up with a
flushed face, 'not to talk to me.'
'Hold your tongue, sir,' cried Mr. Willet, suddenly rousing him-
self, and turning round.
'I won't, father,' cried Joe, smiting the table with his fist, so that
the jugs and glasses rung again; 'these things are hard enough to
bear from you; from anybody else I never will endure them any
more. Therefore I say, Mr. Cobb, don't talk to me.'
BARNABY RUDGE 235
'Why, who are you,' said Mr. Cobb, sneeringly, 'that you're not
to be talked to, eh, Joe?'
To which Joe returned no answer, but with a very ominous
shake of the head, resumed his old position, which he would have
peacefully preserved until the house shut up at night, but that Mr.
Cobb, stimulated by the wonder of the company at the young
man's presumption, retorted with sundry taunts, which proved too
much for flesh and blood to bear. Crowding into one moment the
vexation and the wrath of years, Joe started up, overturned the
table, fell upon his long enemy, pummelled him with all his might
and main, and finished by driving him with surprising swiftness
against a heap of spittoons in one corner; plunging into which,
head foremost, with a tremendous crash, he lay at full length
among the ruins, stunned and motionless. Then, without waiting
to receive the compliments of the bystanders on the victory he had
won, he retreated to his own bed-chamber, and considering himself
in a state of siege, piled all the portable furniture against the door
by way of barricade.
'I have done it now,' said Joe, as he sat down upon his bedstead
and wiped his heated face. T knew it would come at last. The May-
pole and I must part company. I'm a roving vagabond â she hates
me for evermore â it's all over ! '
Pondering on his unhappy lot, Joe sat and listened for a long
time, expecting every moment to hear their creaking footsteps on
the stairs, or to be greeted by his worthy father with a summons to
capitulate unconditionally, and deliver himself up straightway.
But neither voice nor footstep came; and though some distant
echoes, as of closing doors and people hurrying in and out of
rooms, resounding from time to time through the great passages,
and penetrating to his remote seclusion, gave note of unusual com-
motion downstairs, no nearer sound disturbed his place of retreat,
which seemed the quieter for these far-off noises, and was as dull
and full of gloom as any hermit's cell.
236 BARNABY RUDGE
It came on darker and darker. The old-fashioned furniture of
the chamber, which was a kind of hospital for all the invalid mov-
ables in the house, grew indistinct and shadowy in its many shapes;
chairs and tables which by day were as honest cripples as need be,
assumed a doubtful and mysterious character ; and one old leprous
screen of faded India leather and gold binding, which had kept out
many a cold breath of air in days of yore and shut in many a jolly
face, frowned on him with a spectral aspect, and stood at full
height in its allotted corner, like some gaunt ghost who waited to
be questioned. A portrait opposite the window â a queer, old grey-
eyed general, in an oval frame â seemed to wink and doze as the
light decayed, and at length, when the last faint glimmering speck
of day went out, to shut its eyes in good earnest, and fall sound
asleep. There was such a hush and mystery about everything, that
Joe could not help following its example; and so went off into a
slumber likewise, and dreamed of Dolly, till the clock of Chigwell
church struck two.
Still nobody came. The distant noises in the house had ceased,
and out of doors all was quiet too ; save for the occasional barking
of some deep-mouthed dog, and the shaking of the branches by the
night wind. He gazed mournfully out of window at each well-
known object as it lay sleeping in the dim light of the moon; and
creeping back to his former seat, thought about the late uproar,
until, with long thinking of, it seemed to have occurred a month
ago. Thus, between dozing, and thinking, and walking to the win-
dow and looking out, the night wore away; the grim old screen,
and the kindred chairs and tables, began slowly to reveal them-
selves in their accustomed forms; the grey-eyed general seemed to
wink and yawn and rouse himself ; and at last he was broad awake
again, and very uncomfortable and cold and haggard he looked, in
the dull grey light of morning.
The sun had begun to peep above the forest trees, and already
flung across the curling mist bright bars of gold, when Joe dropped
from his window on the ground below, a little bundle and his trusty
stick, and prepared to descend himself.
It was not a very difficult task; for there were so many projec-
tions and gable ends in the way, that they formed a series of
clumsy steps, with no greater obstacle than a jump of some few
BARNABY RUDGE 237
feet at last. Joe, with his stick and bundle on his shoulder, quickly
stood on the firm earth, and looked up at the old Maypole, it
might be for the last time.
He didn't apostrophise it, for he was no great scholar. He didn't
curse it, for he had little ill-will to give to anything on earth. He
felt more affectionate and kind to it than ever he had done in all
his life before, so said with all his heart, 'God bless you! ' as a part-
ing wish, and turned away.
He walked along at a brisk pace, big with great thoughts of go-
ing for a soldier and dying in some foreign country where it was
very hot and sandy, and leaving God knows what unheard-of
wealth in prize-money to Dolly, who would be very much affected
when she came to know of it; and full of such youthful visions,
which were sometimes sanguine and sometimes melancholy, but
always had her for their main point and centre, pushed on vigor-
ously until the noise of London sounded in his ears, and the Black
Lion hove in sight.
It was only eight o'clock then, and very much astonished the
Black Lion was, to see him come walking in with dust upon his
feet a't that early hour, with no grey mare to bear him company.
But as he ordered breakfast to be got ready with all speed, and on
its being set before him gave indisputable tokens of a hearty appe-
tite, the Lion received him, as usual, with a hospitable welcome;
and treated him with those marks of distinction, which, as a regu-
lar customer, and one within the freemasonry of the trade, he had
a right to claim.
This Lion or landlord, â for he was called both man and beast,
by reason of his having instructed the artist who painted his sign,
to convey into the features of the lordly brute whose effigy it bore,
as near a counterpart of his own face as his skill could compass
and devise, â was a gentleman almost as quick of apprehension,
and of almost as subtle a wit, as the mighty John himself. But the
difference between them lay in this; that whereas Mr. Willet's ex-
treme sagacity and acuteness were the efforts of unassisted nature,
the Lion stood indebted, in no small amount, to beer; of which he
swigged such copious draughts, that most of his faculties were ut-
terly drowned and washed away, except the one great faculty of
sleep, which he retained in surprising perfection. The creaking
238 BARNABY RUDGE
Lion over the house-door was, therefore, to say the truth, rather a.
drowsy, tame, and feeble lion; and as these social representatives
of a savage class are usually of a conventional character (being de-
picted, for the most part, in impossible attitudes and of unearthly
colours) he was frequently supposed by the more ignorant and un-
informed among the neighbours, to be the veritable portrait of the
host as he appeared on the occasion of some great funeral ceremony
or public mourning.
'What noisy fellow is that in the next room?' said Joe, when he
had disposed of his breakfast, and had washed and brushed him-
'A recruiting serjeant,' replied the Lion.
Joe started involuntarily. Here was the very thing he had been
dreaming of, all the way along.
And I wish,' said the Lion, 'he was anywhere else but here. The
party make noise enough, but don't call for much. There's great
cry there, Mr. Willet, but very little wool. Your father wouldn't
like 'em / know.'
Perhaps not much under any circumstances. Perhaps if he could
have known what was passing at that moment in Joe's mind, he
would have liked them still less.
Ts he recruiting for a â for a fine regiment?' said Joe, glancing
at a little round mirror that hung in the bar.
T believe he is,' replied the host. Tt's much the same thing,
whatever regiment he's recruiting for. I'm told there an't a deal of
difference between a fine man and another one, when they're shot