'What the story means, or is, or has to do with it, I know no
more than you, my dear,' returned the locksmith, 'except that it's
some foolish fear of little Solomon's — which has, indeed, no mean-
ing in it, I suppose. As to Mr. Haredale's journey, he goes, as I
believe — '
'Yes,' said Dolly.
'As I believe,' resumed the locksmith, pinching her cheek, 'on
business, Doll. What it may be, is quite another matter. Read
Blue Beard, and don't be too curious, pet; it's no business of
yours or mine, depend upon that; and here's dinner, which is much
more to the purpose.'
Dolly might have remonstrated against this summary dismissal
of the subject, notwithstanding the appearance of dinner, but at
the mention of Blue Beard Mrs. Varden interposed, protesting
she could not find it in her conscience to sit tamely by, and hear
her child recommended to peruse the adventures of a Turk and
Mussulman — far less of a fabulous Turk, which she considered
BARNABY RUDGE 319
that potentate to be. She held that, in such stirring and tremendous
times as those in which they lived, it would be much more to the
purpose if Dolly became a regular subscriber to the Thunderer,
where she would have an opportunity of reading Lord George
Gordon's speeches word for word, which would be a greater comfort
and solace to her, than a hundred and fifty Blue Beards ever
could impart. She appealed in support of this proposition to Miss
Miggs, then in waiting, who said that indeed the peace of mind
she had derived from the perusal of that paper generally, but
especially of one article of the very last week as ever was, entitled
'Great Britain drenched in gore,' exceeded all belief; the same
composition, she added, had also wrought such a comforting effect
on the mind of a married sister of hers then resident at Golden Lion
Court, number twenty-sivin, second bell-handle on the right-hand
door-post, that, being in a delicate state of health, and in fact ex-
pecting an addition to her family, she had been seized with fits di-
rectly after its perusal, and had raved of the Inquisition ever since;
to the great improvement of her husband and friends. Miss IMiggs
went on to say that she would recommend all those whose hearts
were hardened to hear Lord George themselves, w^hom she com-
mended first, in respect of his steady Protestantism, then of his ora-
tory, then of his eyes, then of his nose, then of his legs, and
lastly of his figure generally, which she looked upon as if fit for any
statue, prince, or angel, to which sentiment Mrs. Varden fully
Mrs. Varden having cut in, looked at a box upon the mantel-
shelf, painted in imitation of a very red-brick dwelling-house,
with a yellow roof; having at top a real chimney, down which vol-
untary subscribers dropped their silver, gold, or pence, into the
parlour; and on the door the counterfeit presentment of a brass
plate, whereon was legibly inscribed Trotestant Association':
— and looking at it, said, that it was to her a source of poignant
misery to think that Varden never had, of all his substance, dropped
anything into that temple, save once in secret — as she afterwards
discovered — two fragments of tobacco-pipe, which she hoped would
not be put down to his last account. That Dolly, she was grieved
to say, was no less backward in her contributions, better loving, as
it seemed, to purchase ribbons and such gauds, than to encourage
320 BARNABY RUDGE
the great cause, then in such heavy tribulation; and that she did
entreat her (her father she much feared could not be moved) not
to despise, but imitate, the bright example of Miss Miggs, who
flung her wages, as it were, into the very countenance of the Pope,
and bruised his features with her quarter's money.
'Oh, mim,' said Miggs, 'don't relude to that. I had no intentions,
mim, that nobody should know. Such sacrifices as I can make,
are quite a widder's mite. It's all I have,' cried Miggs with a great
burst of tears — for with her they never came on by degrees — 'but
it's made up to me in other ways; it's well made up.'
This was quite true, though not perhaps in the sense that Miggs
intended. As she never failed to keep her self-denial full in Mrs.
Varden's view, it drew forth so many gifts of caps and gowns and
other articles of dress, that upon the whole the red -brick house
was perhaps the best investment for her small capital she could
possibly have hit upon ; returning her interest, at the rate of seven
or eight per cent, in money, and fifty at least in personal repute
'You needn't cry, Miggs,' said Mrs. Varden, herself in tears; ^ou
needn't be ashamed of it, though your poor mistress is on the same
Miggs howled at this remark, in a peculiarly dismal way, and
said she knowed that master hated her. That it was a dreadful
thing to live in families and have dislikes, and not give satisfac-
tions. That to make divisions was a thing she could not abear to
think of, neither could her feelings let her do it. That if it was
master's wishes as she and him should part, it was best they should
part, and she hoped he might be happier for it, and always wishes
him well, and that he might find somebody as would meet his dis-
positions. It would be a hard trial, she said, to part from such a
missis, but she could meet any suffering when her conscience told
her she was in the rights, and therefore she was willing even to go
that lengths. She did not think, she added, that she could long sur-
vive the separations, but, as she was hated and looked upon un-
pleasant, perhaps her dying as soon as po'ssible would be the best
endings for all parties. With this affecting conclusion. Miss Miggs
shed more tears, and sobbed abundantly.
BARNABY RUDGE 321
'Can you bear this, Varden?' said his wife in a solemn voice,
laying down her knife and fork.
'Why, not very well, my dear/ rejoined the locksmith, 'but j
try to keep my temper.'
'Don't let there be words on my account, mim,' sobbed Miggs,
'It's much the best that we should part. I wouldn't stay — oh,
gracious me! — and make dissensions, not for an annual gold mine,
and found in tea and sugar.'
Lest the reader should be at any loss to discover the cause of
Miss ^Nliggs's deep emotion, it may be whispered apart that,
happening to be listening, as her custom sometimes was, when
Gabriel and his wife conversed together, she had heard the lock-
smith's joke relative to the foreign black who played the tam-
bourine, and bursting with the spiteful feelings which the taunt
awoke in her fair breast, exploded in the manner we have witnessed.
?^Iatters having now arrived at a crisis, the locksmith, as usual,
and for the sake of peace and quietness, gave in.
'What are you crying for, girl?' he said. 'What's the matter with
you? What are you talking about hatred for? / don't hate you:
I don't hate anybody. Dry your eyes and make yourself agreeable,
in Heaven's name, and let us all be happy while we can.'
The allied powers deeming it good generalship to consider this
a sufficient apology on the part of the enemy, and confession of
having been in the wrong, did dry their eyes and take it in good
part. Miss Miggs observed that she bore no malice, no not to her
greatest foe, whom she rather loved the more indeed, the greater
persecution she sustained. Mrs. Varden approved of this meek
and forgiving spirit in high terms, and incidentally declared as a
closing article of agreement, that Dolly should accompany her
to the Clerkenwell branch of the Association, that very night.
This was an extraordinary instance of her great prudence and
policy; having had this end in view from the first, and entertaining
a secret misgiving that the locksmith (who was bold when Dolly
was in question) would object, she had backed Miss ^liggs up to
this point, in order that she might have him at a disadvantage.
The manoeuvre succeeded so well that Gabriel only made a wry
face, and with the warning he had just had, fresh in his mind,
did not dare to say one word.
322 BARNABY RUDGE
The difference ended, therefore, in Miggs being presented with
a gown by Mrs. Varden, and half-a-crown by Dolly, as if she had
eminently distinguished herself in the paths of morality and good-
ness. Mrs. v., according to custom, expressed her hope that
Varden would take a lesson from what had passed and learn more
generous conduct for the time to come; and the dinner being now
cold and nobody's appetite very much improved by what had
passed, they went on with it, as Mrs. Varden said, 'like Christians.'
As there was to be a grand parade of the Royal East London
Volunteers that afternoon, the locksmith did no more work; but
sat down comfortably with his pipe in his mouth, and his arm
round his pretty daughter's waist, looking lovingly on Mrs. V.,
from time to time, and exhibiting from the crown of his head
to the sole of his foot, one smiling surface of good humour. And
to be sure, when it was time to dress him in his regimentals, and
Dolly, hanging about him in all kinds of graceful winning ways,
helped to button and buckle and brush him up and get him into
one of the tightest coats that ever was made by mortal tailor, he
was the proudest father in all England.
'What a handy jade it is!' said the locksmith to Mrs. Varden,
who stood by with folded hands — rather proud of her husband
too — while Miggs held his cap and sword at arm's length, as if
mistrusting that the latter might run some one through the body
of its own accord; 'but never marry a soldier, Doll, my dear.'
Dolly didn't ask why not, or say a word, indeed, but stooped
her head down very low to tie his sash.
'I never wear this dress,' said honest Gabriel, 'but I think of
poor Joe Willet. I loved Joe; he was always a favourite of mine.
Poor Joe! — Dear heart, my girl, don't tie me in so tight.'
Dolly laughed — not like herself at all — the strangest little laugh
that could be — and held her head down lower still.
'Poor Joe!' resumed the locksmith, muttering to himself; 'I
always wish he had come to me. I might have made it up between
them, if he had. Ah! old John made a great mistake in his way of
acting by that lad — a great mistake. — Have you nearly tied that
sash, my dear?'
What an ill-made sash it was! There it was, loose again and
BARNABY RUDGE 323
trailing on the ground. Dolly was obliged to kneel down, and
recommence at the beginning.
'Never mind young Willet, Varden,' said his wife frowning; 'you
might find some one more deserving to talk about, I think.'
Miss Miggs gave a great sniff to the same effect.
'Nay, Martha,' cried the locksmith, 'don't let us bear too hard
upon him. If the lad is dead indeed, we'll deal kindly by his
'A runaway and a vagabond!' said Mrs. Varden.
Miss Miggs expressed her concurrence as before.
'A runaway, my dear, but not a vagabond,' returned the lock-
smith in a gentle tone. 'He behaved himself well, did Joe — always
— and was a handsome manly fellow. Don't call him a vagabond,
Mrs. Varden coughed — and so did Miggs.
'He tried hard to gain your good opinion, Martha, I can tell you,'
said the locksmith smiling, and stroking his chin. 'Ah! that he did.
It seems but yesterday that he followed me out to the Maypole
door one night, and begged me not to say how like a boy they used
him — say here, at home, he meant, though at the time, I recollect,
I didn't understand. "And how's Miss Dolly, sir?" says Joe,'
pursued the locksmith, musing sorrowfully, 'Ah! Poor Joel'
'Well, I declare,' cried Miggs. 'Oh! Goodness gracious me!'
'What's the matter now?' said Gabriel, turning sharply to her.
'W^hy, if here an't Miss Dolly,' said the handmaid, stooping
down to look into her face, 'a-giving way to floods of tears. Oh
mim! oh sir. Raly it's gie me such a turn,' cried the susceptible
damsel, pressing her hand upon her side to quell the palpitation
of her heart, 'that you might knock me down with a feather.'
The locksmith, after glancing at Miss Miggs as if he could have
wished to have a feather brought straightway, looked on with a
broad stare while Dolly hurried away, followed by that sympa-
thising young woman: then turning to his wife, stammered out,
'Is Dolly ill? Have / done anything? Is it my fault?'
'Your fault!' cried Mrs. V. reproachfully. 'There — you had
better make haste out.'
'What have I done?' said poor Gabriel. Tt was agreed that Mr.
324 BARNABY RUDGE
Edward's name was never to be mentioned, and I have not spoken
of him, have I?'
Mrs. Varden merely replied that she had no patience with him,
and bounced off after the other two. The unfortunate locksmith
v/ound his sash about him, girded on his sword, put on his cap, and
'I arri not much of a dab at my exercise,' he said under his
breath, ^but I shall get into fewer scrapes at that work than at
this. Every man came into the world for something; my depart-
ment seems to be to make every woman cry without meaning it.
It's rather hard!'
But he forgot it before he reached the end of the street, and went
on with a shining face, nodding to the neighbours, and showering
\bout his friendly greetings like mild spring rain.
The Royal East London Volunteers made a brilliant sight that
day: formed into lines, squares, circles, triangles, and what not,
to the beating of drums, and the streaming of flags; and performed
a vast number of complex evolutions, in all of which Serjeant Var-
den bore a conspicuous share. Having displayed their military
prowess to the utmost in these warlike shows, they marched in
glittering order to the Chelsea Bun-house, and regaled in the ad-
jacent taverns until dark. Then at sound of drum they fell in again,
and returned amidst the shouting of His Majesty's lieges to the
place from whence they came.
The homeward march being somewhat tardy, — owing to the un-
soldierlike behaviour of certain corporals, who, being gentlemen of
sedentary pursuits in private life and excitable out of doors, broke
several windows with their bayonets, and rendered it imperative on
the commanding officer to deliver them over to a strong guard,
with whom they fought at intervals as they came along, — it was
nine o'clock when the locksmith reached home. A hackney-
coach was waiting near his door; and as he passed it, Mr. Haredale
looked from the window and called him by his name.
BARNABY RUDGE 325
'The sight of you is good for sore eyes, sir,' said the locksmith,
stepping up to him. T wish you had walked in though, rather than
'There is nobody at home, I find,' Mr. Haredale answered;
'besides, I desired to be as private as I could.'
'Humph I' muttered the locksmith, looking round at his house.
'Gone with Simon Tappertit to that precious Branch, no doubt.'
Mr. Haredale invited him to come into the coach, and if he were
not tired or anxious to go home, to ride with him a little way that
they might have some talk together. Gabriel cheerfully complied,
and the coachman mounting his box drove off.
'Varden,' said Mr. Haredale, after a minute's pause, 'you will
be amazed to hear what errand I am on ; it will seem a very strange
'I have no doubt it 's a reasonable one, sir, and has a meaning
in it,' replied the locksmith; 'or it would not be yours at all. Have
you just come back to town, sir?'
'But half an hour ago.'
'Bringing no news of Barnaby, or his mother?' said the lock-
smith dubiously. 'Ah I you needn't shake your head, sir. It was
a wild-goose chase. I feared that, from the first. You exhausted
all reasonable means of discovery when they went away. To begin
again after so long a time has passed is hopeless, sir — quite hope-
'Why, where are they?' he returned impatiently. 'Where can
they be? Above ground?'
'God knows,' rejoined the locksmith, 'many that I knew above
it five years ago, have their beds under the grass now. And the
world is a wide place. It 's a hopeless attempt, sir, believe me.
We must leave the discovery of this mystery, like all others, to
time, and accident, and Heaven's pleasure.'
'Varden, my good fellow,' said Mr. Haredale, 'I have a deeper
meaning in my present anxiety to find them out, than you can
fathom. It is not a mere whim; it is not the casual revival of my
old wishes and desires; but an earnest, solemn purpose. My
thoughts and dreams all tend to it, and fix it in my mind. I have
no rest by day or night; I have no peace or quiet; I am haunted.'
His voice was so altered from its usual tones, and his manner
326 BARNABY RUDGE
bespoke so much emotion, that Gabriel, in his wonder, could only
sit and look towards him in the darkness, and fancy the expression
of his face.
'Do not ask me,' continued Mr. Haredale, 'to explain myself. It
I were to do so, you would think me the victim of some hideous
fancy. It is enough that this is so, and that I cannot — no, I can not
— lie quietly in my bed, without doing what will seem to you in-
'Since when, sir,' said the locksmith after a pause, 'has this un-
easy feeling been upon you?'
Mr. Haredale hesitated for some moments, and then replied:
'Since the night of the storm. In short, since the last nineteenth
As though he feared that Varden might express surprise, or
reason with him, he hastily went on:
'You will think, I know, I labour under some delusion. Perhaps
I do. But it is not a morbid one; it is a wholesome action of the
mind, reasoning on actual occurrences. You know the furniture
remains in Mrs. Rudge's house, and that it has been shut up, by
my orders, since she went away, save once a week or so, when an
old neighbour visits it to scare away the rats. I am on my way
'For what purpose?' asked the locksmith.
'To pass the night there,' he replied; 'and not to-night alone,
but many nights. This is a secret which I trust to you in case of
any unexpected emergency. You will not come, unless in case of
strong necessity, to me; from dusk to broad day I shall be there.
Emma, your daughter, and the rest, suppose me out of London,
as I have been until within this hour. Do not undeceive them.
This is the errand I am bound upon. I know I may confide it to
you, and I rely upon your questioning me no more at this time.'
With that, as if to change the theme, he led the astounded lock-
smith back to the night of the Maypole highwayman, to the rob-
bery of Edward Chester, to the reappearance of the man at Mrs.
Rudge's house, and to all the strange circumstances which after-
wards occurred. He even asked him carelessly about the man's
height, his face, his figure, whether he was like any one he had
ever seen — like Hugh, for instance, or any man he had known at
BARNABY RUDGE 327
any time — and put many questions of that sort, which the lock-
smith, considering them as mere devices to engage his attention
and prevent his expressing the astonishment he felt, answered
pretty much at random.
At length they arrived at the corner of the street in which the
house stood, where Mr. Haredale, alighting, dismissed the coach.
"If you desire to see me safely lodged,' he said, turning to the
locksmith with a gloomy smile, 'you can.'
Gabriel to whom all former marvels had been nothing in com-
parison with this, followed him along the narrow pavement in
silence. When they reached the door, ]Mr. Haredale softly opened
it with a key he had about him, and closing it when Varden entered,
they wTre left in the thorough darkness.
They groped their way into the ground-floor room. Here Mr.
Haredale struck a light, and kindled a pocket taper he had brought
with him for the purpose. It was then, when the flame was full
upon him, that the locksmith saw for the first time how haggard,
pale, and changed he looked ; how worn and thin he was ; how per-
fectly his whole appearance coincided with all that he had said so
strangely as they rode along. It was not an unnatural impulse in
Gabriel, after what he had heard, to note curiously the expression
of his eyes. It was perfectly collected and rational; — so much so,
indeed, that he felt ashamed of his momentary suspicion, and
drooped his own when Mr. Haredale looked towards him, as if he
feared they would betray his thoughts.
'Will you walk through the house?' said ]\Ir. Haredale, with a
glance towards the window, the crazy shutters of which were closed
and fastened. 'Speak low.'
There was a kind of awe about the place, which would have
rendered it difficult to speak in any other manner. Gabriel whis-
pered 'Yes,' and followed him upstairs.
Everything was just as they had seen it last. There was a sense
of closeness from the exclusion of fresh air, and a gloom and heavi-
ness around, as though long imprisonment had made the very
silence sad. The homely hangings of the beds and windows had
begun to droop; the dust lay thick upon the dwindling folds; and
damps had made their way through ceiling, wall, and floor. The
boards creaked beneath their tread, as if resenting the unaccus-
328 BARNABY RUDGE
tomed intrusion; nimble spiders, paralysed by the taper's glare,
checked the motion of their hundred legs upon the wall, or dropped
like lifeless things upon the ground; the death-watch ticked; and
the scampering feet of rats and mice rattled behind the wainscot.
As they looked about them on the decaying furniture, it was
strange to find how vividly it presented those to whom it had be-
longed, and with whom it was once familiar. Grip seemed to perch
again upon his high-backed chair; Barnaby to crouch in his old
favourite corner by the fire; the mother to resume her usual seat,
and watch him as of old. Even when they could separate these
objects from the phantoms of the mind which they invoked, the
latter only glided out of sight, but lingered near them still; for
then they seemed to lurk in closets and behind the doors, ready to
start out and suddenly accost them in well-remembered tones.
They went downstairs, and again into the room they had just
now left. Mr. Haredale unbuckled his sword and laid it on the
table, with a pair of pocket pistols; then told the locksmith he
would light him to the door.
'But this is a dull place, sir,' said Gabriel lingering; 'may no one
share your watch?'
He shook his head, and so plainly evinced his wish to be alone,
that Gabriel could say no more. In another moment the locksmith
was standing in the street, whence he could see that the light once
more travelled upstairs, and soon returning to the room below,
shone brightly through the chinks of the shutters.
If ever man were sorely puzzled and perplexed, the locksmith
was, that night. Even when snugly seated by his own fireside, with
Mrs. Varden opposite in a night-cap and night-jacket, and Dolly
beside him (in a most distracting dishabille) curling her hair, and
smiling as if she had never cried in all her life and never could —
even then, with Toby at his elbow and his pipe in his mouth, and
Miggs (but that perhaps was not much) falling asleep in the back-
ground, he could not quite discard his wonder and uneasiness. So
in his dreams — still there was IMr. Haredale, haggard and care-
worn, listening in the solitary house to every sound that stirred,
with the taper shining through the chinks until the day should turn
it pale and end his nightly watching.
BARXABY RUDGE 329
Next morning brought no satisfaction to the locksmith's thoughts,
nor next day, nor the next, nor many others. Often after nightfall
he entered the street, and turned his eyes towards the well-known
house; and as surely as he did so, there was the solitary light, still
gleaming through the crevices of the window-shutter, while all
within was motionless, noiseless, as a grave. Unwilling to hazard
]\Ir. Haredale's favour by disobeying his strict injunction, he never
ventured to knock at the door or to make his presence known in
any way. But whenever strong interest and curiosity attracted him
to the spot — which was not seldom — the light was always there.
If he could have known what passed within, the knowledge would
have yielded him no clue to this mysterious vigil. At twilight, ^Ir.
Haredale shut himself up, and at daybreak he came forth. He
never missed a night, always came and went alone, and never
varied his proceedings in the least degree.
The manner of his watch was this. At dusk he entered the house
in the same way as when the locksmith bore him company, kindled
a light, went through the rooms and narrowly examined them.
That done, he returned to the chamber on the ground-floor, and
laying his sword and pistols on the table, sat by it until morning.