nor see men stalking in the sky â not you! I lead a merrier life
than you, with all your cleverness. You 're the dull men. We 're
the bright ones. Ha! ha! I '11 not change with you, clever as you
are, â not I ! '
With that, he waved his hat above his head, and darted off.
'A strange creature, upon my word!' said the guest, pulling out
a handsome box, and taking a pinch of snuff.
'He wants imagination,' said IMr. Willet, very slowly, and after
a long silence; 'that ^s what he wants. I 've tried to instil it into
him, many and many 's the time ; but' â John added this in confi-
dence â 'he an't made for it; that 's the fact.'
To record that Mr. Chester smiled at John's remark would be
little to the purpose, for he preserved the same conciliatory and
pleasant look at all times. He drew his chair nearer to the fire
though, as a kind of hint that he would prefer to be alone, and
John, having no reasonable excuse for remaining, left him to him-
Very thoughtful old John Willet was, while the dinner was pre-
paring ; and if his brainÂ» were ever less clear at one time than an-
other, it is but reasonable to suppose that he addled it in no slight
degree by shaking his head so much that day. That IMr. Chester,
between whom and Mr. Haredale, it was notorious to all the neigh-
bourhood, a deep and bitter animosity existed, should come down
there for the sole purpose, as it seemed, of seeing him, and should
choose the Maypole for their place of meeting, and should send to
him express, were stumbling-blocks John could not overcome. The
only resource he had, was to consult the boiler, and wait impatient-
ly for Barnaby's return.
But Barnaby delayed beyond all precedent. The visitor's dinner
was served, removed, his wine was set, the fire replenished, the
hearth clean swept ; the light waned without, it grew dusk, became
quite dark, and still no Barnaby appeared. Yet, though John
Willet was full of wonder and misgiving, his guest sat cross-legged
in the easy-chair, to all appearance as little ruffled in his thoughts
BARNABY RUDGE 85
as in his dress â the same calm, easy, cool gentleman, without a
care or thought beyond his golden toothpick.
'Barnaby 's late,' John ventured to observe, as he placed a pair
of tarnished candlesticks, some three feet high, upon the table,
and snuffed the lights they held.
'He is rather so,' replied the guest, sipping his wine. 'He will
not be much longer, I dare say.'
John coughed and raked the fire together.
'As your roads bear no very good character, if I may judge from
my son's mishap, though,' said Mr. Chester, 'and as I have no fancy
to be knocked on the head â which is not only disconcerting at the
moment, but places one, besides, in a ridiculous position with re-
spect to the people who chance to pick one up â I shall stop here
to-night. I think you said you had a bed to spare.'
'Such a bed, sir,' returned John Willet; 'ay, such a bed as few,
even of the gentry's houses, own. A fixter here, sir. I 've heard say
that bedstead is nigh two hundred years of age. Your noble son â
a fine young gentleman â slept in it last, sir, half a year ago.'
'Upon my life, a recommendation! ' said the guest, shrugging his
shoulders and wheeling his chair nearer to the fire. 'See that it be
well aired, Mr. Willet, and let a blazing fire be lighted there at
once. This house is something damp and chilly.'
John raked the faggots up again, more from habit than presence
of mind, or any reference to this remark, and was about to with-
draw, when a bounding step was heard upon the stair, and Barnaby
came panting in.
'He '11 have his foot in the stirrup in an hour's time,' he cried,
advancing. 'He has been riding hard all day â has just come home
â but will be in the saddle again as soon as he has eat and drank,
to meet his loving friend.'
Was that his message?' asked the visitor, looking up, but with-
out the smallest discomposure â or at least without the show of any.
'All but the last words,' Barnaby rejoined. 'He meant those. I
saw that, in his face.'
'This for your pains,' said the other, putting money in his hand,
and glancing at him steadfastly. 'This for your pains, sharp Barna-
'For Grip, and me, and Hugh, to share among us,' he rejoined.
86 BARNABY RUDGE
putting it up, and nodding, as he counted it on his fingers. 'Grip
one, me two, Hugh three; the dog, the goat, the cats â well, we
shall spend it pretty soon, I warn you. Stay. â Look. Do you wise
men see nothing there, now?'
He bent eagerly down on one knee, and gazed intently at the
smoke, which was rolling up the chimney in a thick black cloud.
John Willet, who appeared to consider himself particularly and
chiefly referred to under the term wise men, looked that way like-
wise, and with great stolidity of feature.
'Now, where do they go to, when they spring so fast up there,'
asked Barnaby; 'eh? Why do they tread so closely on each other's
heels, and why are they always in a hurry â which is what you
blame me for, when I only take pattern by these busy folk about
me? More of 'em! catching to each other's skirts; and as fast as
they go, others come! What a merry dance it is! I would that
Grip and I could frisk like that ! '
'What has he in that basket at his back?' asked the guest after
a few moments, during which Barnaby was still bending down to
look higher up the chimney, and earnestly watching the smoke.
'In this?' he answered, jumping up, before John Willet could
reply â shaking it as he spoke, and stooping his head to listen. 'In
this! What is there here? Tell him! '
'A devil, a devil, a devil!' cried a hoarse voice.
'Here 's money?' said Barnaby, chinking it in his hand, 'money
for a treat, Grip!'
'Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!' replied the raven, 'keep up your
spirits. Never say die. Bow, wow, wow!'
Mr. Willet, who appeared to entertain strong doubts whether a
customer in a laced coat and fine linen could be supposed to have
any acquaintance even with the existence of such unpolite gentry
as the bird claimed to belong to, took Barnaby off at this juncture,
with the view of preventing any other improper declarations, and
quitted the room with his very best bow.
BARNABY RUDGE 87
There was great news that night for the regular Maypole cus-
tomers, to each of whom, as he straggled in to occupy his allotted
seat in the chimney-corner, John, with a most impressive slowness
of delivery, and in an apoplectic whisper, communicated the fact
that Mr. Chester was alone in the large room upstairs, and was
waiting the arrival of Mr. Geoffrey Haredale, to whom he had sent
a letter (doubtless of a threatening nature) by the hands of Barna-
by, then and there present.
For a little knot of smokers and solemn gossips, who had seldom
any new topics of discussion, this was a perfect Godsend. Here was
a good, dark-looking mystery progressing under that very roof â >
brought home to the fireside, as it were, and enjoyable without the
smallest pains or trouble. It is extraordinary what a zest and relish
it gave to the drink, and how it heightened the flavour of the
tobacco. Every man smoked his pipe with a face of grave and
serious delight, and looked at his neighbour with a sort of quiet
congratulation. Nay, it was felt to be such a holiday and special
night, that, on the motion of little Solomon Daisy, every man (in-
cluding John himself) put down his sixpence for a can of flip^
which grateful beverage was brewed with all despatch, and set
down in the midst of them on the brick floor; both that it might
simmer and stew before the fire, and that its fragrant steam, rising
up among them, and mixing with the wreaths of vapour from their
pipes, might shroud them in a delicious atmosphere of their own,
and shut out all the world. The very furniture of the room seemed
to mellow and deepen in its tone; the ceiling and walls looked
blacker and more highly polished, the curtains of a ruddier red;
the fire burnt clear and high, and the crickets in the hearthstone
chirped with a more than wonted satisfaction.
There were present two, however, who showed but little interest
in the general contentment. Of these, one was Barnaby himself,
who slept, or, to avoid being beset with questions, feigned to sleep,
in the chimney-corner; the other, Hugh, who sleeping too, lay
88 BARNABY RUDGE
stretched upon the bench on the opposite side, in the full glare of
the blazing fire.
The light that fell upon this slumbering form, showed it in all
its muscular and handsome proportions. It was that of a young
man, of a hale athletic figure, and a giant's strength, whose sun-
burnt face and swarthy throat, overgrown with jet black hair,
might have served a painter for a model. Loosely attired, in the
coarsest and roughest garb, with scraps of straw and hay â his usual
bed â clinging here and there, and mingling with his uncombed
locks, he had fallen asleep in a posture as careless as his dress.
The negligence and disorder of the whole man, with something
fierce and sullen in his features, gave him a picturesque appear-
ance, that attracted the regards even of the Maypole customers
who knew him well, and caused Long Parkes to say that Hugh
looked more like a poaching rascal to-night than ever he had seen
'He 's waiting here, I suppose,' said Solomon, 'to take Mr. Hare-
'That 's it, sir,' replied John Willet. 'He 's not often in the house,
you know. He 's more at his ease among horses than men. I look
upon him as a animal himself.'
Following up this opinion with a shrug that seemed meant to
say, 'we can't expect everybody to be like us,' John put his pipe
into his mouth again, and smoked like one who felt his superiority
over the general run of mankind.
'That chap, sir,' said John, taking it out again after a time, and
pointing at him with the stem, 'though he 's got all his faculties
about him â bottled up and corked down, if I may say so, some-
wheres or another â '
'Very good! ' said Parkes, nodding his head. 'A very good expres-
sion, Johnny. You '11 be a tackling somebody presently. You 're in
twig to-night, I see.'
'Take care,' said Mr. Willet, not at all grateful for the compli-
ment, 'that I don't tackle you, sir, which I shall certainly endeavour
to do, if you interrupt me when I 'm making observations. â That
chap, I was a saying, though he has all his faculties about him,
somewheres or another, bottled up and corked down, has no more
imagination than Barnaby has. And why hasn't he?'
BARNABY RUDGE 89
The three friends shook their heads at each other ; saying by that
action, without the trouble of opening their lips, 'Do you observe
what a philosophical mind our friend has?'
'Why hasn't he?' said John, gently striking the table with his
open hand. 'Because they was never drawed out of him when he
was a boy. That 's why. What would any of us have been, if our
fathers hadn't drawed our faculties out of us. What would my boy
Joe have been, if I hadn't drawed his faculties out of him? â Do
you mind what I 'm a saying of, gentlemen?'
'Ah! we mind you,' cried Parkes. 'Go on improving of us,
'Consequently, then,' said Mr. Willet, 'that chap, whose mother
was hung when he was a little boy, along with six others, for pass-
ing bad notes â and it 's a blessed thing to think how many people
are hung in batches every six weeks for that, and such-like offences,
as showing how wide-awake our government is â that chap was then
turned loose, and had to mind cows, and frighten birds away, and
what not, for a few pence to live on, and so got on by degrees to
mind horses, and to sleep in course of time in lofts and litter, in-
stead of under haystacks and hedges, till at last he came to be
hostler at the Maypole for his board and lodging and an annual
trifle â that chap that can't read nor write, and has never had much
to do with anything but animals, and has never lived in any way
but like the animals he has lived among, is a animal. And,' said
]\Ir. Willet, arriving at his logical conclusion, 'is to be treated ac-
'Willet,' said Solomon Daisy, who had exhibited some impatience
at the intrusion of so unworthy a subject on their more interesting
theme, 'when Mr. Chester come this morning, did he order the
'He signified, sir,' said John, 'that he wanted a large apartment.
'Why then, I '11 tell you what,' said Solomon, speaking softly and
with an earnest look. 'He and Mr. Haredale are going to fight a
duel in it.'
Everybody looked at Mr. Willet, after this alarming suggestion.
Mr. Willet looked at the fire, weighing in his own mind the effect
90 BARNABY RUDGE
which such an occurrence would be likely to have on the establish-
'Well/ said John, 'I don't know â I am sure â I remember that
when I went up last, he had put the lights upon the mantelshelf.'
'It 's as plain/ returned Solomon, 'as the nose on Parkes's face'
â Mr. Parkes, who had a large nose, rubbed it, and looked as if he
considered this a personal allusion â 'they'll fight in that room.
You know by the newspapers what a common thing it is for gentle-
men to fight in coffee-houses without seconds. One of 'em will be
wounded or perhaps killed in this house.'
'That was a challenge that Barnaby took then, eh?' said John.
' â Inclosing a slip of paper with the measure of his sword upon
it, I '11 bet a guinea,' answered the little man. 'We know what sort
of gentleman Mr. Haredale is. You have told us what Barnaby said
about his looks, when he came back. Depend upon it, I 'm right.
The flip had had no flavour till now. The tobacco had been of
mere English growth, compared with its present taste. A duel in
that great old rambling room upstairs, and the best bed ordered
already for the wounded man!
'Would it be swords or pistols, now?' said John.
'Heaven knows. Perhaps both,' returned Solomon. 'The gentle-
men wear swords, and may easily have pistols in their pockets â
most likely have, indeed. If they fire at each other without effect,
then they '11 draw, and go to work in earnest.'
A shade passed over Mr. Willet's face as he thought of broken
windows and disabled furniture, but bethinking himself that one
of the parties would probably be left alive to pay the damage, he
brightened up again.
'And then,' said Solomon, looking from face to face, 'then we
shall have one of those stains upon the floor that never come out.
If Mr. Haredale wins, depend upon it, it '11 be a deep one; or if he
loses, it will perhaps be deeper still, for he '11 never give in unless
he 's beaten down. We know him better, eh?'
'Better indeed 1' they whispered all together.
As to its ever being got out again,' said Solomon, 'I tell you it
never will, or can be. Why, do you know that it has been tried, at
a certain house we are acquainted with?'
BARNABY RUDGE 91
'The Warren!' cried John. 'No, sure!'
'Yes, sure â yes. It 's only known by very few. It has been
whispered about though for all that. They planed the board away,
but there it was. They went deep, but it went deeper. They put
new boards down, but there was one great spot that came through
still, and showed itself in the old place. And â harkye â draw nearer
â Mr. Geoffrey made that room his study, and sits there, always,
with his foot (as I have heard) upon it; and he believes, through
thinking of it long and very much, that it will never fade until he
finds the man who did the deed.'
As this recital ended, and they all drew closer round the fire, the
tramp of a horse was heard without.
'The very man! ' cried John, starting up. 'Hugh! Hugh! '
The sleeper staggered to his feet, and hurried after him. John
ijuickly returned, ushering in with great attention and deference
(for Mr. Haredale was his landlord) the long-expected visitor, who
strode into the room clanking his heavy boots upon the floor ; and
looking keenly round upon the bowing group, raised his hat in
acknowledgment of their profound respect.
Y'ou have a stranger here, Willet, who sent to me,' he said in a
voice which sounded naturally stern and deep. 'Where is he?'
'In the great room upstairs, sir,' answered John.
'Show the way. Your staircase is dark, I know. Gentlemen,
With that, he signed to the landlord to go on before; and went
clanking out, and up the stairs; old John, in his agitation, ingen-
iously lighting everything but the way, and making a stumble at
every second step.
'Stop! ' he said, when they reached the landing. 'I can announce
myself. Don't wait.'
He laid his hand upon the door, entered, and shut it heavily.
Mr. Willet was by no means disposed to stand there listening by
himself, especially as the walls were very thick; so descended, with
much greater alacrity than he had come ud. and joined his friends
92 BARNABY RUDGE
There was a brief pause in the state-room of the Maypole, as Mr.
Haredale tried the lock to satisfy himself that he had shut the door
securely, and, striding up the dark chamber to where the screen
inclosed a little patch of light and warmth, presented himself,
abruptly and in silence, before the smiling guest.
If the two had no greater sympathy in their inward thoughts
than in their outward bearing and appearance, the meeting did not
seem likely to prove a very calm or pleasant one. With no great
disparity between them in point of years, they were, in every other
respect, as unlike and far removed from each other as two men
could well be. The one was soft-spoken, delicately made, precise,
and elegant; the other, a burly square-built man, negligently
dressed, rough and abrupt in manner, stern, and, in his present
mood, forbidding both in look and speech. The one preserved a
calm and placid smile; the other, a distrustful frown. The new
comer, indeed, appeared bent on showing by his every tone and
gesture his determined opposition and hostility to the man he had
come to meet. The guest who received him, on the other hand,
seemed to feel that the contrast between them was all in his favour,
and to derive a quiet exultation from it which put him more at his
ease than ever.
'Haredale,' said this gentleman, without the least appearance
of embarrassment or reserve, 'I am very glad to see you.'
'Let us dispense with compliments. They are misplaced between
us,' returned the other, waving his hand, 'and say plainly what we
have to say. You have asked me to meet you. I am here. Why do
we stand face to face again?'
'Still the same frank and sturdy character, I see!'
'Good or bad, sir, I am,' returned the other, leaning his arm
upon the chimney-piece, and turning a haughty look upon the oc-
cupant of the easy-chair, 'the man I used to be. I have lost no old
likings or dislikings; my memory has not failed me by a hair's-
breadth. You ask me to give you a meeting. I say, I am here.'
'Our meeting, Haredale,' said Mr. Chester, tapping his snuff-
BARNABY RUDGE 93
box, and following with a smile the impatient gesture he had
made â perhaps unconsciously â towards his sword, 4s one of con-
ference and peace, I hope?'
'I have come here,' returned the other, 'at your desire, holding
myself bound to meet you, when and where you would. I have
not come to bandy pleasant speeches, or hollow professions. You
are a smooth man of the world, sir, and at such play have me at a
disadvantage. The very last man on this earth with whom I would
enter the lists to combat with gentle compliments and masked faces,
is Mr. Chester, I do assure you. I am not his match at such
weapons, and have reason to believe that few men are.'
'You do me a great deal of honour, Haredale,' returned the
other, most composedly, 'and I thank you. I will be frank with
you â '
T beg your pardon â will be what?'
'Frank â open â perfectly candid.'
'Hah!' cried Mr. Haredale, drawing his breath. 'But don't let
me interrupt you.'
'So resolved am I to hold this course,' returned the other, tasting
his wine with great deliberation, 'that I have determined not to
quarrel with you, and not to be betrayed into a warm expression
or a hasty word.'
'There again,' said Mr. Haredale, 'you have me at a great dis-
advantage. Your self-command â '
'Is not to be disturbed, when it will serve my purpose, you
woud say' â rejoined the other, interrupting him with the same
'Granted. I allow it. And I have a purpose to serve now. So
have you. I am sure our object is the same. Let us attain it like
sensible men, who have ceased to be boys some time. Do you
'With my friends,' returned the other.
'At least,' said Mr. Chester, 'you will be seated?'
'I will stand,' returned Mr. Haredale impatiently, 'on this dis-
mantled beggared hearth, and not pollute it, fallen as it is, with
mockeries. Go on.'
'You are wrong, Haredale,' said the other, crossing his legs, and
smiling as he held his glass up in the bright glow of the fire. 'You
94 BAHNABY RUDGE
are really very wrong. The world is a lively place enough, in
which we must accommodate ourselves to circumstances, sail with
the stream as glibly as we can, be content to take froth for sub-
stance, the surface for the depth, the counterfeit for the real coin.
I wonder no philosopher has ever established that our globe itself
is hollow. It should be, if Nature is consistent in her works.'
^You think it is, perhaps?'
'I should say,' he returned, sipping his wine, 'there could be no
doubt about it. Well; we, in trifling with this jingling toy,Â«have
had the ill-luck to jostle and fall out. We are not what the world
calls friends; but we are as good and true and loving friends for
all that, as nine out of ever}^ ten of those on whom it bestows the
title. You have a niece, and I a son â a fine lad, Haredale, but
foolish. They fall in love with each other, and form what this
same world calls an attachment; meaning a something fanciful
and false like the rest, which, if it took its own free time, would
break like any other bubble. But it may not have its own free
time, will not, if they are left alone â and the question is, shall we
two, because society calls us enemies, stand aloof, and let them
rush into each other's arms, when, by approaching each other
sensibly, as we do now, we can prevent it and part them?'
'I love my niece,' said Mr. Haredale, after a short silence. 'It
may sound strangely in your ears; but I love her.'
'Strangely, my good fellow!' cried Mr. Chester, lazily filling his
glass again, and pulhng out his toothpick. 'Not at all. I like Ned
too â or, as you say, love him â that 's the word among such near
relations. I 'm very fond of Ned. He 's an amazingly good fellow,
and a handsome fellow â foolish and weak as yet; that 's all. But
the thing is, Haredale â for I '11 be very frank, as I told you I
would at first â independently of any dislike that you and I might
have to being related to each other, and independently of the reli-
gious differences between us â and damn it, that 's important â I
couldn't afford a match of this description. Ned and I couldn't
do it. It 's impossible.'
'Curb your tongue, in God's name, if this conversation is to last,'
retorted Mr. Haredale fiercely. 'I have said I love my niece. Do
you think that, loving her, I would have her fling her heart away
on any man who had your blood in his veins?'
BARNABY RUDGE 95
'You see/ said the other, not at all disturbed, 'the advantage
of being so frank and open. Just what I was about to add, upon
my honour! I am amazingly attached to Ned â quite dote upon
him, indeed â and even if we could afford to throw ourselves away,
that very objection would be quite insuperable. I wish you 'd take
'Mark me,' said Mr. Haredale, striding to the table, and laying
his hand upon it heavily, 'If any man believes â presumes to think
â that I, in word or deed, or in the wildest dream, ever entertained
remotely the idea of Emma Haredale 's favouring the suit of any
one who was akin to you â in any way â I care not what â he lies.
He lies, and does me grievous wrong, in the mere thought.'
'Haredale,' returned the other, rocking himself to and fro as in
assent, and nodding at the fire, 'it 's extremely manly and really
very generous in you, to meet me in this unreserved and handsome
way. Upon my word, those are exactly my sentiments, only ex-
pressed with much more force and power than I could use â you
know my sluggish nature, and will forgive me, I am sure.'
'While I would restrain her from all correspondence with your