most public conveniences in those days, that they should be public nuisances likewise; and Fleet Market maintained the principle to admiration.
To this place, perhaps because its sheds and baskets were a tolerable substitute for beds, or perhaps because it afforded the means of a hasty barricade in case of need, many of the rioters had straggled, not only that night, but for two or three nights before. It was now broad day, but the morning being cold, a group of them were gathered round a fire in a public-house, drinking hot purl, and smoking pipes, and planning new schemes for to-morrow.
Hugh and his two friends being known to most of these men, were received with signal marks of approbation, and inducted into the most honourable seats. The room-door was closed and fastened to keep intruders at a distance, and then they proceeded to exchange news.
The soldiers have taken possession of The Boot, I hear, said Hugh. Who knows anything about it?
Several cried that they did; but the majority of the company having been engaged in the assault upon the Warren, and all present having been concerned in one or other of the nights expeditions, it proved that they knew no more than Hugh himself; having been merely warned by each other, or by the scout, and knowing nothing of their own knowledge.
We left a man on guard there to-day, said Hugh, looking round him, who is not here. You know who it isBarnaby, who brought the soldier down, at Westminster. Has any man seen or heard of him?
They shook their heads, and murmured an answer in the negative, as each man looked round and appealed to his fellow; when a noise was heard without, and a man was heard to say that he wanted Hughthat he must see Hugh.
He is but one man, cried Hugh to those who kept the door; let him come in.
Aye, aye! muttered the others. Let him come in. Let him come in.
The door was accordingly unlocked and opened. A one-armed man, with his head and face tied up with a bloody cloth, as though he had been severely beaten, his clothes torn, and his remaining hand grasping a thick stick, rushed in among them, and panting for breath, demanded which was Hugh.
Here he is, replied the person he inquired for. I am Hugh. What do you want with me?
I have a message for you, said the man. You know one Barnaby.
What of him? Did he send the message?
Yes. Hes taken. Hes in one of the strong cells in Newgate. He defended himself as well as he could, but was overpowered by numbers. Thats his message.
When did you see him? asked Hugh, hastily.
On his way to prison, where he was taken by a party of soldiers. They took a by-road, and not the one we expected. I was one of the few who tried to rescue him, and he called to me, and told me to tell Hugh where he was. We made a good struggle, though it failed. Look here!
He pointed to his dress and to his bandaged head, and still panting for breath, glanced round the room; then faced towards Hugh again.
I know you by sight, he said, for I was in the crowd on Friday, and on Saturday, and yesterday, but I didnt know your name. Youre a bold fellow, I know. So is he. He fought like a lion tonight, but it was of no use. I did my best, considering that I want this limb.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|