easy young madman of Chigwell! I am quite rejoiced. It 's the
very best thing that could possibly happen to him.'
After delivering himself of these remarks, he fell again into
his smiling train of reflection; from which he roused himself at
length to finish his chocolate, which was getting cold, and ring the
bell for more.
The new supply arriving, he took the cup from his servant's
hand; and saying, with a charming affability, T am obliged to
you, Peak,' dismissed him.
Tt is a remarkable circumstance,' he mused, dallying lazily with
a teaspoon, 'that my friend the madman should have been within
an ace of escaping, on his trial ; and it was a good stroke of chance
(or, as the world would say, a providential occurrence) that the
brother of my Lord Mayor should have been in court, with other
country justices, into whose very dense heads curiosity had pene-
trated. For though the brother of my Lord IMayor was decidedly
wrong; and established his near relationship to that amusing per-
son beyond all doubt, in stating that my friend was sane, and
had, to his knowledge, wandered about the country with a vaga-
bond parent, avowing revolutionary and rebellious sentiments; I
am not the less obliged to him for volunteering that evidence.
584 BARNABY RUDGE
These insane creatures make such very odd and embarrassing re-
marks, that they really ought to be hanged for the comfort of
The country justice had indeed turned the wavering scale
against poor Barnaby, and solved the doubt that trembled in his
favour. Grip little thought how much he had to answer for.
'They will be a singular party,' said Sir John, leaning his head
upon his hand, and sipping his chocolate; 'a very curious party.
The hangman himself; the centaur; and the madman. The centaur
would make a very handsome preparation in Surgeons' Hall, and
would benefit science extremely. I hope they have taken care to
bespeak him. ā Peak, I am not at home, of course, to anybody but
This reminder to his servant was called forth by a knock at the
door, which the man hastened to open. After a prolonged murmur
of question and answer, he returned; and as he cautiously closed
the room-door behind him, a man was heard to cough in the
'Now, it is of no use. Peak,' said Sir John, raising his hand in
deprecation of his delivering any message; T am not at home. I
cannot possibly hear you. I told you I was not at home, and my
word is sacred. Will you never do as you are desired?'
Having nothing to oppose to this reproof, the man was about to
withdraw, when the visitor who had given occasion to it, probably
rendered impatient by delay, knocked with his knuckles at the
chamber-door, and called out that he had urgent business with Sir
John Chester, which admitted of no delay.
'Let him in,' said Sir John. 'My good fellow,' he added, when
the door was opened, 'how come you to intrude yourself in this
extraordinary manner upon the privacy of a gentleman? How can
you be so wholly destitute of self-respect as to be guilty of such
'My business, Sir John, is not of a common kind, I do assure
you,' returned the person he addressed. 'If I have taken any un-
common course to get admission to you, I hope I shall be pardoned
on that account.'
'Well! we shall see; we shall see"; returned Sir John, whose face
cleared up when he saw who it was, and whose prepossessing smile
BARNABY RUDGE 585
was now restored. 'I am sure we have met before,' he added in his
winning tone, 'but really I forget your name?'
'My name is Gabriel Varden, sir.'
'Varden, of course, Varden,' returned Sir John, tapping his fore-
head. 'Dear me, how very defective my memory becomes! Varden
to be sure ā Mr. Varden the locksmith. You have a charming wife,
Mr. Varden, and a most beautiful daughter. They are well?'
Gabriel thanked him, and said they were.
'I rejoice to hear it,' said Sir John. 'Commend me to them when
you return, and say that I wished I were fortunate enough to con-
vey, myself, the salute which I entrust you to deliver. And what,'
he asked very sweetly, after a moment's pause, 'can I do for you?
You may command me freely.'
'I thank you. Sir John,' said Gabriel, with some pride in his
manner, 'but I have come to ask no favour of you, though I come
on business. ā Private,' he added, with a glance at the man who
stood looking on, 'and very pressing business.'
'I cannot say you are the more welcome for being independent,
and having nothing to ask of me,' returned Sir John, graciously,
'for I should have been happy to render you a service; still, you
are welcome on any terms. Oblige me with some more chocolate,
Peak, and don't wait.'
The man retired, and left them alone.
'Sir John,' said Gabriel, 'I am a working-man, and have been so,
all my life. If I don't prepare you enough for what I have to tell;
if I come to the point too abruptly; and give you a shock, which
a gentleman could have spared you, or at all events lessened very
much; I hope you will give me credit for meaning well. I wish to
be careful and considerate, and I trust that in a straightforward
person like me, you '11 take the will for the deed.'
'Mr. Varden,' returned the other, perfectly composed under this
exordium ; 'I beg you '11 take a chair. Chocolate, perhaps, you
don't relish? Well! it is an acquired taste, no doubt.'
'Sir John,' said Gabriel, who had acknowledged with a bow the
invitation to be seated, but had not availed himself of it; 'Sir
John' ā he dropped his voice and drew nearer to the bed ā T am
just now come from Newgate ā '
'Good Gad!' cried Sir John, hastily sitting up in bed; 'from
586 BARNABY RUDGE
Newgate, Mr. Varden ! How could you be so very impudent as to
come from Newgate! Newgate, where there are jail-fevers, and
ragged people, and bare-footed men and women, and a thousand
horrors! Peak, bring the camphor, quick! Heaven and earth,
Mr. Varden, my dear, good soul, how could you come from New-
Gabriel returned no answer, but looked on in silence, while Peak
(who had entered with the hot chocolate) ran to a drawer, and
returning with a bottle, sprinkled his master's dressing-gown and
the bedding; and besides moistening the locksmith himself, plenti-
fully, described a circle round about him on the carpet. When he
had done this, he again retired; and Sir John, reclining in an easy
attitude upon his pillow, once more turned a smiling face towards
'You will forgive me, Mr. Varden, I am sure, for being at first
a little sensitive both on your account and my own. I confess I
was startled, notwithstanding your delicate exordium. Might I
ask you to do me the favour not to approach any nearer? ā You
have really come from Newgate ! '
The locksmith inclined his head.
'In-deed! And now, Mr. Varden, all exaggeration and embell-
ishment apart,' said Sir John Chester, confidentially, as he sipped
his chocolate, 'what kind of place /5 Newgate?'
A strange place, Sir John,' returned the locksmith, 'of a sad and
doleful kind. A strange place, where many strange things are
heard and seen ; but few more strange than that I come to tell you
of. The case is urgent. I am sent here.'
*Not ā no, no ā not from the jail?'
*Yes, Sir John; from the jail.'
*And my good, credulous, open-hearted friend,' said Sir John,
setting down his cup, and laughing, ā 'by whom?'
'By a man called Dennis ā for many years the hangman, and to-
morrow morning the hanged,' returned the locksmith.
Sir John had expected ā had been quite certain from the first ā
that he would say he had come from Hugh, and was prepared to
meet him on that point. But this answer occasioned him a degree
of astonishment, which, for the moment, he could not, with all his
BARNABY RUDGE 587
command of feature, prevent his face from expressing. He quickly
subdued it, however, and said in the same light tone:
'And what does the gentleman require of me? jNIy memory may
be at fault again, but I don't recollect that I ever had the pleasure
of an introduction to him, or that I ever numbered him among my
personal friends, I do assure you, Mr. Varden.'
'Sir John,' returned the locksmith, gravely, 'I will tell you, as
nearly as I can, in the words he used to me, what he desires that
you should know, and what you ought to know without a moment's
loss of time.'
Sir John Chester settled himself in a position of greater repose,
and looked at his visitor with an expression of face which seemed
to say, 'This is an amusing fellow! I '11 hear him out.'
'You may have seen in the newspapers, sir,' said Gabriel, point-
ing to the one which lay b}- his side, 'that I was a witness against
this man upon his trial some days since; and that it was not his
fault I was alive, and able to speak to what I knew.'
'May have seen! ' cried Sir John. 'My dear Mr. Varden, you are
quite a public character, and live in all men's thoughts most de-
servedly. Nothing can exceed the interest with which I read your
testimony, and remembered that I had the pleasure of a slight ac-
quaintance with you. ā I hope we shall have your portrait pub-
'This morning, sir,' said the locksmith, taking no notice of these
compliments, 'early this morning, a message was brought to me
from Newgate, at this man's request, desiring that I would go and
see him, for he had something particular to communicate. I needn't
tell you that he is no friend of mine, and that I had never seen
him, until the rioters beset my house.'
Sir John "anned himself gently with the newspaper, and nodded.
T knew, however, from the general report,' resumed Gabriel,
'that the order for his execution to-morrow, went down to the
prison last night; and looking upon him as a dying man, I com-
plied with his request.'
'You are quite a Christian, Mr. Varden,' said Sir John; 'and in
that amiable capacity, you increase my desire that you should
take a chair.'
'He said,' continued Gabriel, looking steadily at the knight,
588 BARNABY RUDGE
'that he had sent to me, because he had no friend m' companion
in the whole world (being the common hangman), and because he
believed, from the way in which I had given my evidence, that I
was an honest man, and would act truly by him. He said that,
being shunned by every one who knew his calling, even by people
of the lowest and most wretched grade, and finding, when he joined
the rioters, that the men he acted with had no suspicion of it
(which I believe is true enough, for a poor fool of ar old 'prentice
of mine was one of them), he had kept his own coun^iel, up to the
time of his being taken and put in jail.'
^Very discreet of Mr. Dennis,' observed Sir John ^with a slight
yawn, though still with the utmost affability, 'but ā exo\*pt for your
admirable and lucid manner of telling it, which is perfect ā not
very interesting to me.'
'When,' pursued the locksmith, quite unabashed and wholly re-
gardless of these interruptions, Vhen he was taken to tj\\e jail, he
found that his fellow-prisoner, in the same room, was a young
man, Hugh by name, a leader in the riots, who had been betrayed
and given up by himself. From something which fell from this
unhappy creature in the course of the angry words they had at
meeting, he discovered that his mother had suffered the duath to
which they both are now condemned. ā The time is very short, Sir
The knight laid down his paper fan, replaced his cup upon the
table at his side, and, saving for the smile that lurked about his
mouth, looked at the locksmith with as much steadiness as the
locksmith looked at him.
'They have been in prison now, a month. One conversation led
to many more; and the hangman soon found, from a comparison of
time, and place, and dates, that he had executed the sentence of
the law upon this woman, himself. She had been tempted by want
ā as so many people are ā into the easy crime of passing forged
notes. She was young and handsome ; and the traders who employ
men, women, and children in this traffic, looked upon her as one
who was well adapted for their business, and who would probably
go on without suspicion for a long time. But they were mistaken;
for she was stopped in the commission of her very first offence,
and died for it. She was of gipsy blood, Sir John ā '
BARNABY RUDGE 589
It might have been the effect of a passing cloud which obscured
the sun, and cast a shadow on his face; but the knight turned dead-
ly pale. Still he met the locksmith's eye, as before.
'She was of gipsy blood. Sir John,' repeated Gabriel, 'and had
a high, free spirit. This, and her good looks, and her lofty manner,
interested some gentlemen who were easily moved by dark eyes;
and efforts were made to save her. They might have been success-
ful, if she would have given them any clue to her history. But she
never would, or did. There was reason to suspect that she would
make an attempt upon her life. A watch was set upon her night
and day; and from that time she never spoke again ā '
Sir John stretched out his hand towards his cup. The locksmith
going on, arrested it half-way.
ā T^ntil she had but a minute to live. Then she broke silence,
and said, in a low firm voice which no one heard but this execu-
tioner, for all other living creatures had retired and left her to
her fate, "If I had a dagger within these fingers and he was within
my reach, I would strike him dead before me, even now!" The
man asked "Who?" She said, "The father of her boy."'
Sir John drew back his outstretched hand, and seeing that the
locksmith paused, signed to him with easy politeness and without
any new appearance of emotion, to proceed.
'It was the first word she had ever spoken, from which it could
be understood that she had any relative on earth. "Was the child
alive?" he asked. "Yes." He asked her where it was, its name,
and whether she had any wish respecting it. She had but one, she
said. It was that the boy might Hve and grow, in utter ignorance
of his father, so that no arts might teach him to be gentle and
forgiving. When he became a man she trusted to the God of their
tribe to bring the father and the son together, and revenge her
through her child. He asked her other questions, but she spoke
no more. Indeed, he says, she scarcely said this much, to him, but
stood with her face turned upwards to the sky, and never looked
towards him once.'
Sir John took a pinch of snuff; glanced approvingly at an ele-
gant Httle sketch, entitled 'Nature,' on the wall; and raising his
eyes to the locksmith's face again, said, with an air of courtes;.
and patronage, 'You were observing, Mr. Varden ā '
590 BARNABY RUDGE
'That she never/ returned the locksmith, who was not to be di-
verted by any artifice from his firm manner, and his steady gaze,
'that she never looked towards him once, Sir John; and so she
died, and he forgot her. But, some years afterwards, a man was
sentenced to die the same death, who was a gipsy too; a sunburnt,
swarthy fellow, almost a wild man; and while he lay in prison,
under sentence, he, who had seen the hangman more than once
while he was free, cut an image of him on his stick, by way of
braving death, and showing those who attended on him, how little
he cared or thought about it. He gave this stick into his hands at
Tyburn, and told him then, that the woman I had spoken of had
left her own people to join a fine gentleman, and that, being de-
serted by him, and cast off by her old friends, she had sworn within
her own proud breast, that whatever her misery might be, she
would ask no help of any human being. He told him that she had
kept her word to the last ; and that, meeting even him in the streets
ā he had been fond of her once, it seems ā she had slipped from
him by a trick, and he never saw her again, until, being in one of
the frequent crowds at Tyburn, with some of his rough compan-
ions, he had been driven almost mad by seeing, in the criminal
under another name, whose death he had come to witness, herself.
Standing in the same place in which she had stood, he told the
hangman this, and told him, too, her real name, which only her
own people and the gentleman for whose sake she had left them,
knew. ā That name he will tell again, Sir John, to none but you.'
'To none but me!' exclaimed the knight, pausing in the act of
raising his cup to his lips with a perfectly steady hand, and curling
up his little finger for the better display of a brilliant ring with
which it was ornamented: 'but me! ā My dear Mr. Varden, how
very preposterous, to select me for his confidence ! With you at his
elbow too, who are so perfectly trustworthy!'
'Sir John, Sir John,' returned the locksmith, 'at twelve to-mor-
row, these men die. Hear the few words I have to add, and do
not hope to deceive me; for though I am a plain man of humble
station, and you are a gentleman of rank and learning, the truth
raises me to your level, and I know^ that you anticipate the dis-
closure with which I am about to end, and that you believe this
doomed man, Hugh, to be your son.'
BARNABY RUDGE 591
'Xay/ said Sir John, bantering him with a gay air; 'the wild
gentleman, who died so suddenly, scarcely went as far as that, I
'He did not,' returned the locksmith, 'for she had bound him by
some pledge, known only to these people, and which the worst
among them respect, not to tell your name: but, in a fantastic
pattern on the stick, he had carved some letters, and when the
hangman asked it, he bade him, especially if he should ever meet
with her son in after life, remember that place well.'
The knight finished his cup of chocolate with an appearance of
infinite relish, and carefully wiped his lips upon his handkerchief.
'Sir John,' said the locksmith, 'this is all that has been told to
me : but since these two men have been left for death, they have
conferred together closely. See them, and hear what they can add.
See this Dennis, and learn from him what he has not trusted to
me. If you, who hold the clue to all, want corroboration (which
you do not), the means are easy.'
'And to what,' said Sir John Chester, rising on his elbow, after
smoothing the pillow for its reception; 'my dear, good-natured,
estimable Mr. Varden ā with whom I cannot be angry if I would
ā to what does all this tend?'
'I take you for a man, Sir John, and I suppose it tends to some
pleading of natural affection in your breast,' returned the lock-
smith. 'I suppose to the straining of every nerve, and the exertion
of all the influence you have, or can make, in behalf of your miser-
able son, and the man who has disclosed his existence to you. At
the worst, I suppose to your seeing your son, and awakening him
to a sense of his crime and danger. He has no such sense now.
Think what his life must have been, when he said in my hearing,
that if I moved you to anything, it would be to hastening his death,
and ensuring his silence, if you had it in your power!'
'And have you, my good Mr. Varden,' said Sir John in a tone of
mild reproof, 'have you really lived to your present age, and re-
mained so very simple and credulous, as to approach a gentleman
of established character with such credentials as these, from des-
592 BARNABY RUDGE
perate men in their last extremity, catching at any straw? Oh
dear! Oh fie, fie!'
The locksmith was going to interpose, but he stopped him:
'On any other subject, Mr. Varden, I shall be delighted ā I shall
be charmed ā to converse with you, but I owe it to my own char-
acter not to pursue this topic for another moment.'
'Think better of it, sir, when I am gone,' returned the locksmith;
*think better of it, sir. Although you have, thrice within as many
weeks, turned your lawful son, Mr. Edward, from your door, you
may have time, you may have years to make your peace with him,
Sir John: but that twelve o'clock will soon be here, and soon be
past for ever.'
'I thank you very much,' returned the knight, kissing his deli-
cate hand to the locksmith, 'for your guileless advice; and I only
wish, my good soul, although your simplicity is quite captivating,
that you had a little more worldly wisdom. I never so much re-
gretted the arrival of my hair-dresser as I do at this moment. God
bless you! Good-morning! You'll not forget my message to the
ladies, Mr. Varden? Peak, show Mr. Varden to the door.'
Gabriel said no more, but gave the knight a parting look, and
left him. As he quitted the room. Sir John's face changed; and
the smile gave place to a haggard and anxious expression, like that
of a weary actor jaded by the performance of a difficult part. He
rose from his bed with a heavy sigh, and wrapped himself in his
'So she kept her word,' he said, 'and was constant to her threat!
I would I had never seen that dark face of hers, ā I might have
read these consequences in it, from the first. This affair would
make a noise abroad, if it rested on better evidence; but, as it is,
and by not joining the scattered links of the chain, I can afford to
slight it. ā Extremely distressing to be the parent of such an un-
couth creature! Still, I gave him very good advice. I told him he
would certainly be hanged. I could have done no more if I had
known of our relationship ; and there are a great many fathers who
have never done as much for their natural children. ā The hair-
dresser may come in. Peak!'
The hair-dresser carne in; and saw in Sir John Chester (whose
accommodating conscience was soon quieted by the numerous pre-
BARNABY RUDGE 593
cedents that occurred to him in support of his last observation),
the same imperturbable, fascinating, elegant gentleman he had
seen yesterday, and many yesterdays before.
As the locksmith walked slowly away from Sir John Chester's
chambers, he lingered under the trees which shaded the path, al-
most hoping that he might be summoned to return. He had turned
back thrice, and still loitered at the corner, when the clock struck
It was a solemn sound, and not merely for its reference to to-
morrow; for he knew that in that chime the murderer s knell was
rung. He had seen him pass along the crowded street, amidst the
execration of the throng; and marked his quivering lip, and trem-
bling limbs; the ashy hue upon his face, his clammy brow, the wild
distraction of his eye ā the fear of death that swallowed up all
other thoughts, and gnawed without cessation at his heart and
brain. He had marked the wandering look, seeking for hope, and
finding, turn where it would, despair. He had seen the remorseful,
pitiful, desolate creature, riding, with his coffin by his side, to the
gibbet. He knew that, to the last, he had been an unyielding, ob-
durate man; that in the savage terror of his condition he had
hardened, rather than relented, to his wife and child ; and that the
last words which had passed his white lips were curses on them
as his enemies.
Mr. Haredale had determined to be there, and see it done.
Nothing but the evidence of his own senses could satisfy that
gloomy thirst for retribution which had been gathering upon him
for so many years. The locksmith knew this, and when the chimes
had ceased to vibrate, hurried away to meet him.
Tor these two men,' he said, as he went, T can do no more.
Heaven have mercy on them! ā Alas! I say I can do no more for
them, but whom can I help? Mary Rudge will have a home, and
a firm friend when she most wants one ; but Barnaby ā poor Barn-
594 BARNABY RUDGE
aby ā willing Barnaby ā what aid can I render him? There are
many, many men of sense, God forgive me,' cried the honest lock-
smith, stopping in a narrow court to pass his hand across his eyes,
'I could better afford to lose than Barnaby. We have always been
good friends, but I never knew, till now, how much I loved the
There were not many in the great city who thought of Barnaby
that day, otherwise than as an actor in a show which was to take
place to-morrow. But if the whole population had had him in their
minds, and had wished his life to be spared, not one among them
could have done so with a purer zeal or greater singleness of heart
than the good locksmith.
Barnaby was to die. There was no hope. It is not the least evil
attendant upon the frequent exhibition of this last dread punish-
ment, of Death, that it hardens the minds of those who deal it out,
and makes them, though they be amiable men in other respects,
indifferent to, or unconscious of, thtir great responsibility. The
word had gone forth that Barnaby was to die. It went forth, every