388 BARNABY RUDGE.
admissions, half volunteered and half extorted, as to the time
from which she dated the discovery that she "didn't mind"
Joe here was an exhaustless fund of mirth and conversation.
Then, there was a great deal to be said regarding Mrs.
Varden's doubts, and motherly alarms, and shrewd suspicions ;
and it appeared that from Mrs. Varden's penetration and
extreme sagacity nothing had ever been hidden. She had
known it all along. She had seen it from the first. She had
always predicted it. She had been aware of it before the
principals. She had said within herself (for she remembered
the exact words) " that young Willet is certainly looking after
our Dolly, and / must look after him" Accordingly, she had
looked after him, and had observed many little circumstances
(all of which she named) so exceedingly minute that nobody
else could make anything out of them even now ; and had, it
seemed, from first to last, displayed the most unbounded tact
and most consummate generalship.
Of course the night when Joe would ride homeward by the
side of the chaise, and when Mrs. Varden would insist upon
his going back again, was not forgotten nor the night when
Dolly fainted on his name being mentioned nor the times
upon times when Mrs. Varden, ever watchful and prudent, had
found her pining in her own chamber. In short, nothing was
forgotten ; and everything by some means or other brought
them back to the conclusion, that that was the happiest hour
in all their lives ; consequently, that everything must have
occurred for the best, and nothing could be suggested which
would have made it better.
While they were in the full glow of such discourse as this,
there came a startling knock at the door, opening from the
street into the workshop, which had been kept closed all day
that the house might be more quiet. Joe, as in duty bound,
would hear of nobody but himself going to open it ; and
accordingly left the room for that purpose.
It would have been odd enough, certainly, if Joe had
forgotten the way to this door; and even if he had, as it
A MYSTERIOUS VISITOR. 389
was a pretty large one and stood straight before him, he
could not easily have missed it. But Dolly, perhaps because
she was in the flutter of spirits before mentioned, or perhaps
because she thought he would not be able to open it with
his one arm she could have no other reason hurried out
after him ; and they stopped so long in the passage no doubt
owing to Joe's entreaties that she would not expose herself
to the draught of July air which must infallibly come rushing
in on this same door being opened that the knock was
repeated, in a yet more startling manner than before.
"Is anybody going to open that door?" cried the lock-
smith. " Or shall I come ? "
Upon that, Dolly went running back into the parlour, all
dimples and blushes; and Joe opened it with a mighty noise,
and other superfluous demonstrations of being in a violent
" Well," said the locksmith, when he reappeared : " what is
it? eh, Joe? what are you laughing at?"
"Nothing, sir. It's coming in."
" Who's coming in ? what's coming in ? " Mi's. Varden, as
much at a loss as her husband, could only shake her head in
answer to his inquiring look : so, the locksmith wheeled his
chair round to command a better view of the room-door, and
stared at it with his eyes wide open, and a mingled expression
of curiosity and wonder shining in his jolly face.
Instead of some person or persons straightway appearing,
divers remarkable sounds were heard, first in the workshop
and afterwards in the little dark passage between it and the
parlour, as though some unwieldy chest or heavy piece of
furniture were being brought in, by an amount of human
strength inadequate to the task. At length, after much
struggling and bumping, and bruising of the wall on both
sides, the door was forced open as by a battering-ram ; and
the locksmith, steadily regarding what appeared beyond, smote
his thigh, elevated his eyebrows, 'opened his mouth, and cried
in a loud voice expressive of the utmost consternation
390 BARNABY RUDGE.
" Damme, if it an't Miggs come back ! "
The young damsel whom he named no sooner heard these
words, than deserting a small boy and a very large box by
which she was accompanied, and advancing with such pre-
cipitation that her bonnet flew off her head, burst into the
room, clasped her hands (in which she held a pair of pattens,
one in each), raised her eyes devotedly to the ceiling, and
shed a flood of tears.
" The old story ! " cried the locksmith, looking at her in
inexpressible desperation. " She was born to be a damper,
this young woman ! nothing can prevent it ! "
" Ho master, ho mini ! " cried Miggs, " can I constrain my
feelings in these here once agin united moments ! Ho Mr.
Warsen, here's blessedness among relations, sir ! Here's for-
givenesses of injuries, here's amicablenesses ! "
The locksmith looked from his wife to Dolly, and from
Dolly to Joe, and from Joe to Miggs, with his eyebrows still
elevated and his mouth still open. When his eyes got back
to Miggs, they rested on her; fascinated.
"To think," cried Miggs with hysterical joy, "that Mr.
Joe, and dear Miss Dolly, has raly come together after all as
has been said and done contrairy ! To see them two a-settin"
along with him and her, so pleasant and in all respects so
affable and mild ; and me not knowing of it, and not being
in the ways to make no preparations for their teas. Ho what
a cutting thing it is, and yet what sweet sensations is awoke
within me ! "
Either in clasping her hands again, or in an ecstasy of pious
joy, Miss Miggs clinked her pattens after the manner of a
pair of cymbals, at this juncture; and then resumed, in the
softest accents :
" And did my missis think ho goodness, did she think as
her own Miggs, which supported her under so many trials, and
understood her natur 1 when them as intended well but acted
rough, went so deep into her feelings did she think as her
own Miggs would ever leave her? Did she think as Miggs,
MISS MIGGS APPEARS ON THE SCENE. 391
though she was but a servant, and knowed that servitudes was
no inheritances, would forgit that she was the humble instru-
ments as always made it comfortable between them two when
they fell out, and always told master of the meekness and for-
giveness of her blessed dispositions ! Did she think as Miggs
had no attachments ! Did she think that wages was her only
object ! "
392 BARNABY RUDGE.
To none of these interrogatories, whereof every one was
more pathetically delivered than the last, did Mrs. Varden
answer one word : but Miggs, not at all abashed by this cir-
cumstance, turned to the small boy in attendance her eldest
nephew son of her own married sister born in Golden
Lion Court, number twenty-sivin, and bred in the very shadow
of the second bell-handle on the right-hand door-post and
with a plentiful use of her pocket-handkerchief, addressed
herself to him : requesting that on his return home he would
console his parents for the loss of her, his aunt, by delivering
to them a faithful statement of his having left her in the
bosom of that family, with which, as his aforesaid parents
well knew, her best affections were incorporated ; that he would
remind them that nothing less than her imperious sense of
duty, and devoted attachment to her old master and missis,
likewise Miss Dolly and young Mr. Joe, should ever have
induced her to decline that pressing invitation which they,
his parents, had, as he could testify, given her, to lodge and
board Avith them, free of all cost and charge, for evermore ;
lastly, that he would help her with her box up-stairs, and
then repair straight home, bearing her blessing and her strong
injunctions to mingle in his prayers a supplication that he
might in course of time grow up a locksmith, or a Mr. Joe,
and have Mrs. Vardens and Miss Dollys for his relations
Having brought this admonition to an end upon which,
to say the truth, the young gentleman for whose benefit it
was designed, bestowed little or no heed, having to all appear-
ance his faculties absorbed in the contemplation of the sweet-
meats, Miss Miggs signified to the company in general that
they were not to be uneasy, for she would soon return ; and,
with her nephew^s aid, prepared to bear her wardrobe up the
" My dear," said the locksmith to his wife. " Do you desire
" I desire it ! " she answered. " I am astonished I am
MISS MIGGS DISMISSED. 393
amazed at her audacity. Let her leave the house this
Miggs, hearing this, let her end of the box fall heavily to
the floor, gave a very loud sniff, crossed her arms, screwed
down the corners of her mouth, and cried, in an ascending
scale, " Ho, good gracious ! " three distinct times.
" You hear what your mistress says, my love,"" remarked
the locksmith. " You had better go, I think. Stay ; take
this with you, for the sake of old service."
Miss Miggs clutched the bank-note he took from his
pocket-book and held out to her ; deposited it in a small, red
leather purse ; put the purse in her pocket (displaying, as she
did so, a considerable portion of some under-garment, made
of flannel, and more black cotton stocking than is commonly
seen in public); and, tossing her head, as she looked at Mi's.
Yard en, repeated
" Ho, good gracious ! "
" I think you said that once before, my dear," observed the
" Times is changed, is they, mi in ! " cried Miggs, bridling ;
'you can spare me now, can you? You can keep "em down
without me? You're not in wants of any one to scold, or
throw the blame upon, no longer, an't you, mim? I'm glad
to find you've grown so independent. I wish you joy, I'm
With that she dropped a curtsey, and keeping her head
erect, her ear towards Mrs. Varden, and her eye on the rest
of the company, as she alluded to them in her remarks,
" I'm quite delighted, I'm sure, to find sich independency,
feeling sorry though, at the same time, mim, that you should
have been forced into submissions when you couldn't help
yourself he he he ! It must be great vexations, 'specially
considering how ill you always spoke of Mr. Joe to have
him for a son-in-law at last ; and I wonder Miss Dolly can
put up with him, either, after being off and on for so many
394 BARNABY RUDGE.
years with a coachmaker. But I have heerd say, that the
coachmaker thought twice about it he he he ! and that
he told a young man as was a frind of his, that he hoped
he knowed better than to be dravved into that; though she
and all the family did pull uncommon strong ! "
Here she paused for a reply, and receiving none, went on
"I have heerd say, mini, that the illnesses of some ladies
was all pretensions, and that they could faint away, stone
dead, whenever they had the inclinations so to do. Of
course I never see sich cases with my own eyes ho no ! He
he he ! Nor master neither ho no ! He he he ! I have
heerd the neighbours make remark as some one as they
was acquainted with, was a poor good-natured mean-spirited
creetur, as went out fishing for a wife one day, and caught a
Tartar. Of course I never to my knowledge see the poor
pei-son himself. Nor did you neither, mim ho no. I wonder
who it can be don't you, mim? No doubt you do, mim.
Ho yes. He he he ! "
Again Miggs paused for a reply ; and none being offered,
was so oppressed with teeming spite and spleen, that she
seemed like to burst.
" Fin glad Miss Dolly can laugh," cried Miggs with a feeble
titter. " I like to see folks a-laughing so do you, mim,
don't you? You was always glad to see people in spirits,
wasn't you, mim ? And you always did your best to keep 'em
cheerful, didn't you, mim ? Though there an't such a great
deal to laugh at now either ; is there, mim ? It an't so much
of a catch, after looking out sharp ever since she was a little
chit, and costing such a deal in dress and show, to get a
poor, common soldier, with one aim, is it, mim ? He he ! I
wouldn't have a husband with one arm, anyways. I would
have two arms. I would have two arms, if it was me, though
instead of hands they'd only got hooks at the end, like our
dustman ! "
Miss Miggs was about to add, and had, indeed, begun to
BRIGHTNESS RESTORED. 395
add, that, taking them in the abstract, dustmen were far
more eligible matches than soldiers, though, to be sure, when
people were past choosing they must take the best thev
could get, and think themselves well oft' too ; but her vexa-
tion and chagrin being of that internally bitter sort which
finds no relief in words, and is aggravated to madness by
want of contradiction, she could hold out no longer, and
burst into a storm of sobs and tears.
In this extremity she fell on the unlucky nephew, tooth
and nail, and plucking a handful of hair from his head,
demanded to know how long she was to stand there to be
insulted, and whether or no he meant to help her to carry
out the box again, and if he took a pleasure in hearing
his family reviled : with other inquiries of that nature ; at
which disgrace and provocation, the small boy, who had been
all this time gradually lashed into rebellion by the sight of
unattainable pastry, walked oft' indignant, leaving his aunt
and the box to follow at their leisure. Somehow or other,
bv dint of pushing and pulling, they did attain the street at
last; where Miss Miggs, all blowzed with the exertion of
getting there, and with her sobs and teal's, sat down upon
her property to rest and grieve, until she could ensnare some
other youth to help her home.
"It's a thing to laugh at, Martha, not to care for,"
whispered the locksmith, as he followed his wife to the
window, and good-humouredly dried her eyes. " What does
it matter ? You had seen your fault before. Come ! Bring
up Toby again, my dear ; Dolly shall sing us a song ; and
well be all the merrier for this interruption ! "
ANOTHER month had passed, and the end of August had
nearly come, when Mr. Haredale stood alone in the mail-
coach office at Bristol. Although but a few weeks had
intervened since his conversation with Edward Chester and
his niece, in the locksmith's house, and he had made no
change, in the mean time, in his accustomed style of dress,
his appearance was greatly altered. He looked much older,
and more care-worn. Agitation and anxiety of mind scattered
wrinkles and grey hairs with no unsparing hand ; but deeper
traces follow on the silent uprooting of old habits, and
severing of dear, familiar ties. The affections may not be so
easily wounded as the passions, but their hurts are deeper,
and more lasting. He was now a solitary man, and the heart
within him was dreary and lonesome.
He was not the less alone for having spent so many years
in seclusion and retirement. This was no better preparation
than a round of social cheerfulness : perhaps it even increased
the keenness of his sensibility. He had been so dependent
upon her for companionship and love ; she had come to
be so much a part and parcel of his existence ; they had
had so many cares and thoughts in common, which no one
else had shared ; that losing her was beginning life anew,
and being required to summon up the hope and elasticitv
of youth, amid the doubts, distrusts, and weakened energies
MR. HAREDALE'S SOLITUDE. 397
The effort he had made to part from her with seeming
cheerfulness and hope and they had parted only yesterday
left him the more depressed. With these feelings, he was
about to revisit London for the last time, and look once
more upon the walls of their old home, before turning his
back upon it, for ever.
The journey was a very different one, in those days, from
what the present generation find it; but it came to an end,
as the longest journey will, and he stood again in the streets
of the metropolis. He lay at the inn where the coach stopped,
and resolved, before he went to bed, that he would make his
arrival known to no one ; would spend but another night in
London ; and would spare himself the pang of parting, even
with the honest locksmith.
Such conditions of the mind as that to which he was a prey
when he lay down to rest, are favourable to the growth of
disordered fancies, and uneasy visions. He knew this, even
in the horror with which he started from his first sleep,
and threw up the window to dispel it by the presence of
some object, beyond the room, which had not been, as it
were, the witness of his dream. But it was not a new terror
of the night; it had been present to him before, in many
shapes ; it had haunted him in bygone times, and visited his
pillow again and again. If it had been but an ugly object,
a childish spectre, haunting his sleep, its return, in its old
form, might have awakened a momentary sensation of fear,
which, almost in the act of waking, would have passed away.
This disquiet, however, lingered about him, and would yield to
nothing. When he closed his eyes again, he felt it hovering
near ; as he slowly sunk into a slumber, he Avas conscious of its
gathering strength and purpose, and gradually assuming its
recent shape ; when he sprang up from his bed, the same
phantom vanished from his heated brain, and left him filled
with a dread against which reason and waking thought were
The sun was up, before he could shake it off. He rose late,
398 BARNABY RUDGE.
but not refreshed, and remained within doors all that day.
He had a fancy for paying his last visit to the old spot in
the evening, for he had been accustomed to walk there at
that season, and desired to see it under the aspect that was
most familiar to him. At such an hour as would afford him
time to reach it a little before sunset, he left the inn, and
turned into the busy street.
He had not gone far, and was thoughtfully making his
way among the noisy crowd, when he felt a hand upon his
shoulder, and, turning, recognised one of the waiters from
the inn, who begged his pardon, but he had left his sword
" Why have you brought it to me ? " he asked, stretching
out his hand, and yet not taking it from the man, but look-
ing at him in a disturbed and agitated manner.
The man was sorry to have disobliged him, and would
carry it back again. The gentleman had said that he was
going a little way into the country, and that he might not
return until late. The roads were not very safe for single
travellers after dark; and, since the riots, gentlemen had
been more careful than ever, not to trust themselves unarmed
in lonely places. " We thought you were a stranger, sir," he
added, "and that you might believe our roads to be better
than they are; but perhaps you know them well, and carry
He took the sword, and putting it up at his side, thanked
the man, and resumed his walk.
It was long remembered that he did this in a manner so
strange, and with such a trembling hand, that the messenger
stood looking after his retreating figure, doubtful whether he
ought not to follow, and watch him. It was long remembered
that he had been heard pacing his bedroom in the dead of
the night; and the attendants had mentioned to each other
in the morning, how fevered and how pale he looked ; and
that when this man went back to the inn, he told a fellow-
servant that what he had observed in this short interview lay
THE DESERTED MANSION. 399
very heavy on his mind, and that he feared the gentleman
intended to destroy himself, and would never come back
With a half-consciousness that his manner had attracted
the man's attention (remembering the expression of his face
when they parted), Mr. Haredale quickened his steps; and
arriving at a stand of coaches, bargained with the driver of
the best to carry him so far on his road as the point where
the footway struck across the fields, and to await his return at
a house of entertainment which was within a stoneVthrow of
that place. Arriving there in due course, he alighted and
pursued his way on foot.
He passed so near the Maypole, that he could see its
smoke rising from among the trees, while a flock of pigeons
some of its old inhabitants, doubtless sailed gaily home to
roost, between him and the unclouded sky. "The old house
will brighten up now," 1 he said, as he looked towards it, " and
there will be a merry fireside beneath its ivied roof. It is some
comfort to know that everything Avill not be blighted here-
abouts. I shall be glad to have one picture of life and cheer-
fulness to turn to, in my mind ! "
He resumed his walk, and bent his steps towards the
Warren. It was a clear, calm, silent evening, with hardly
a breath of wind to stir the leaves, or any sound to break
the stillness of the time, but drowsy sheep-bells tinkling in
the distance, and, at intervals, the far-off" lowing of cattle, or
bark of village dogs. The sky was radiant with the softened
glory of sunset ; and on the earth, and in the air, a deep
repose prevailed. At such an hour, he arrived at the deserted
mansion which had been his home so long, and looked for
the last time upon its blackened walls.
The ashes of the commonest fire are melancholy things, for
in them there is an image of death and ruin, of something
that has been bright, and is but dull, cold, dreary dust,
with which our nature forces us to sympathise. How much
more sad the crumbled embers of a home : the casting down
400 BARNABY RUDGE.
of that great altar, where the worst among us sometimes
perform the worship of the heart ; and where the best have
offered up such sacrifices, and done such deeds of heroism,
as, chronicled, would put the proudest temples of old Time,
with all their vaunting annals, to the blush !
He roused himself from a long train of meditation, and
walked slowly round the house. It was by this time almost
He had nearly made the circuit of the building, when he
uttered a half-suppressed exclamation, started, and stood still.
Reclining, in an easy attitude, with his back against a tree,
and contemplating the ruin with an expression of pleasure,
a pleasure so keen that it overcame his habitual indolence and
command of feature, and displayed itself utterly free from all
restraint or reserve, before him, on his own ground, and
triumphing then, as he had triumphed in every misfortune
and disappointment of his life, stood the man whose presence,
of all mankind, in any place, and least of all in that, he could
the least endure.
Although his blood so rose against this man, and his wrath
so stirred within him, that he could have struck him dead,
he put such fierce constraint upon himself that he passed him
without a word or look. Yes, and he would have gone on,
and not turned, though to resist the Devil who poured such
hot temptation in his brain, required an effort scarcely to be
achieved, if this man had not himself summoned him to stop :
and that, with an assumed compassion in his voice which
drove him well-nigh mad, and in an instant routed all the
self-command it had been anguish acute, poignant anguish
All consideration, reflection, mercy, forbearance ; everything
by which a goaded man can curb his rage and passion ; fled
from him as he turned back. And yet he said, slowly and
quite calmly far more calmly than he had ever spoken to
him before :
''' Why have vou called to me? 1 '
THE MAN OF ALL OTHERS. 401
"To remark," said Sir John Chester with his wonted
composure, " what an odd chance it is, that we should meet
here ! "
" It is a strange chance." 1
"Strange? The most remarkable and singular thing in
the world. I never ride in the evening; I have not done so
for years. The whim seized me. quite unaccountably, in the
middle of last night. How very picturesque this is ! " He
pointed, as he spoke, to the dismantled house, and raised his
glass to his eye.
" You praise your own work very freely/''
Sir John let fall his glass ; inclined his face towards him
with an air of the most courteous inquiry ; and slightly
shook his head as though he were remarking to himself, " I
fear this animal is going mad ! "
"I say you praise your own work very freely,' 11 repeated
" Work ! " echoed Sir John, looking smilingly round.
"Mine! I beg your pardon, I really beg your pardon "
" Why, you see," said Mr. Haredale, " those walls. You
see those tottering gables. You see on every side where fire
and smoke have raged. You see the destruction that has
been wanton here. Do you not ? "
"My good friend," returned the knight, gently checking
his impatience with his hand, "of course I do. I see every-