Oh dear, no. Not I. No orders, my good fellow. What orders should I have? You are not in my service.
Muster Gashford, remonstrated Dennis, we belong to the cause, dont we?
The cause! repeated the secretary, looking at him in a sort of abstraction. There is no cause. The cause is lost.
Oh yes. You have heard, I suppose? The petition is rejected by a hundred and ninety-two, to six. Its quite final. We might have spared ourselves some trouble. That, and my lords vexation, are the only circumstances I regret. I am quite satisfied in all other respects.
As he said this, he took a penknife from his pocket, and putting his hat upon his knee, began to busy himself in ripping off the blue cockade which he had worn all day; at the same time humming a psalm tune which had been very popular in the morning, and dwelling on it with a gentle regret.
His two adherents looked at each other, and at him, as if they were at a loss how to pursue the subject. At length Hugh, after some elbowing and winking between himself and Mr Dennis, ventured to stay his hand, and to ask him why he meddled with that riband in his hat.
Because, said the secretary, looking up with something between a snarl and a smile; because to sit still and wear it, or to fall asleep and wear it, is a mockery. Thats all, friend.
What would you have us do, master! cried Hugh.
Nothing, returned Gashford, shrugging his shoulders, nothing. When my lord was reproached and threatened for standing by you, I, as a prudent man, would have had you do nothing. When the soldiers were trampling you under their horses feet, I would have had you do nothing. When one of them was struck down by a daring hand, and I saw confusion and dismay in all their faces, I would have had you do nothingjust what you did, in short. This is the young man who had so little prudence and so much boldness. Ah! I am sorry for him.
Sorry, master! cried Hugh.
Sorry, Muster Gashford! echoed Dennis.
In case there should be a proclamation out to-morrow, offering five hundred pounds, or some such trifle, for his apprehension; and in case it should include another man who dropped into the lobby from the stairs above, said Gashford, coldly; still, do nothing.
Fire and fury, master! cried Hugh, starting up. What have we done, that you should talk to us like this!
Nothing, returned Gashford with a sneer. If you are cast into prison; if the young man here he looked hard at Barnabys attentive faceis dragged from us and from his friends; perhaps from people whom he loves, and whom his death would kill; is thrown into jail, brought out and hanged before their eyes; still, do nothing. Youll find it your best policy, I have no doubt.
Come on! cried Hugh, striding towards the door. Dennis Barnabycome on!
Where? To do what? said Gashford, slipping past him, and standing with his back against it.
Anywhere! Anything! cried Hugh. Stand aside, master, or the window will serve our turn as well. Let us out!
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