It was the dead of night, and very dark, when Barnaby, with his stumbling comrade, approached the place where he had left his father; but he could see him stealing away into the gloom, distrustful even of him, and rapidly retreating. After calling to him twice or thrice that there was nothing to fear, but without effect, he suffered Hugh to sink upon the ground, and followed to bring him back.
He continued to creep away, until Barnaby was close upon him; then turned, and said in a terrible, though suppressed voice, Let me go. Do not lay hands upon me. You have told her; and you and she together have betrayed me!
Barnaby looked at him, in silence.
You have seen your mother!
No, cried Barnaby, eagerly. Not for a long timelonger than I can tell. A whole year, I think. Is she here?
His father looked upon him steadfastly for a few moments, and then saiddrawing nearer to him as he spoke, for, seeing his face, and hearing his words, it was impossible to doubt his truth, What man is that?
HughHugh. Only Hugh. You know him. he will not harm you. Why, youre afraid of Hugh! Ha ha ha! Afraid of gruff, old, noisy Hugh!
What man is he, I ask you, he rejoined so fiercely, that Barnaby stopped in his laugh, and shrinking back, surveyed him with a look of terrified amazement.
Why, how stern you are! You make me fear you, though you are my father. Why do you speak to me so?
I want, he answered, putting away the hand which his son, with a timid desire to propitiate him, laid upon his sleeve,I want an answer, and you give me only jeers and questions. Who have you brought with you to this hiding-place, poor fool; and where is the blind man?
I dont know where. His house was close shut. I waited, but no person came; that was no fault of mine. This is Hughbrave Hugh, who broke into that ugly jail, and set us free. Aha! You like him now, do you? You like him now!
Why does he lie upon the ground?
He has had a fall, and has been drinking. The fields and trees go round, and round, and round with him, and the ground heaves under his feet. You know him? You remember? See!
They had by this time returned to where he lay, and both stooped over him to look into his face.
I recollect the man, his father murmured. Why did you bring him here?
Because he would have been killed if I had left him over yonder. They were firing guns and shedding blood. Does the sight of blood turn you sick, father? I see it does, by your face. Thats like meWhat are you looking at?
At nothing! said the murderer softly, as he started back a pace or two, and gazed with sunken jaw and staring eyes above his sons head. At nothing!
He remained in the same attitude and with the same expression on his face for a minute or more; then glanced slowly round as if he had lost something; and went shivering back, towards the shed.
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