Breaking the silence they had hitherto preserved, they raised a great cry as soon as they were ranged before the jail, and demanded to speak to the governor. This visit was not wholly unexpected, for his house, which fronted the street, was strongly barricaded, the wicket-gate of the prison was closed up, and at no loophole or grating was any person to be seen. Before they had repeated their summons many times, a man appeared upon the roof of the governors house, and asked what it was they wanted.
Some said one thing, some another, and some only groaned and hissed. It being now nearly dark, and the house high, many persons in the throng were not aware that any one had come to answer them, and continued their clamour until the intelligence was gradually diffused through the whole concourse. Ten minutes or more elapsed before any one voice could be heard with tolerable distinctness; during which interval the figure remained perched alone, against the summer-evening sky, looking down into the troubled street.
Are you, said Hugh at length, Mr Akerman, the head jailer here?
Of course he is, brother, whispered Dennis. But Hugh, without minding him, took his answer from the man himself.
Yes, he said. I am.
You have got some friends of ours in your custody, master.
I have a good many people in my custody. He glanced downward, as he spoke, into the jail: and the feeling that he could see into the different yards, and that he overlooked everything which was hidden from their view by the rugged walls, so lashed and goaded the mob, that they howled like wolves.
Deliver up our friends, said Hugh, and you may keep the rest.
Its my duty to keep them all. I shall do my duty.
If you dont throw the doors open, we shall break em down, said Hugh; for we will have the rioters out.
All I can do, good people, Akerman replied, is to exhort you to disperse; and to remind you that the consequences of any disturbance in this place, will be very severe, and bitterly repented by most of you, when it is too late.
He made as though he would retire when he said these words, but he was checked by the voice of the locksmith.
Mr Akerman, cried Gabriel, Mr Akerman.
I will hear no more from any of you, replied the governor, turning towards the speaker, and waving his hand.
But I am not one of them, said Gabriel. I am an honest man, Mr Akerman; a respectable tradesmanGabriel Varden, the locksmith. You know me?
You among the crowd! cried the governor in an altered voice.
Brought here by forcebrought here to pick the lock of the great door for them, rejoined the locksmith. Bear witness for me, Mr Akerman, that I refuse to do it; and that I will not do it, come what may of my refusal. If any violence is done to me, please to remember this.
Is there no way (if helping you? said the governor.
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