Barnaby Rudge HTML version

Chapter 19
Dolly Varden's pretty little head was yet bewildered by various recollections of the party,
and her bright eyes were yet dazzled by a crowd of images, dancing before them like
motes in the sunbeams, among which the effigy of one partner in particular did
especially figure, the same being a young coachmaker (a master in his own right) who
had given her to understand, when he handed her into the chair at parting, that it was
his fixed resolve to neglect his business from that time, and die slowly for the love of
her-- Dolly's head, and eyes, and thoughts, and seven senses, were all in a state of
flutter and confusion for which the party was accountable, although it was now three
days old, when, as she was sitting listlessly at breakfast, reading all manner of fortunes
(that is to say, of married and flourishing fortunes) in the grounds of her teacup, a step
was heard in the workshop, and Mr Edward Chester was descried through the glass
door, standing among the rusty locks and keys, like love among the roses--for which apt
comparison the historian may by no means take any credit to himself, the same being
the invention, in a sentimental mood, of the chaste and modest Miggs, who, beholding
him from the doorsteps she was then cleaning, did, in her maiden meditation, give
utterance to the simile.
The locksmith, who happened at the moment to have his eyes thrown upward and his
head backward, in an intense communing with Toby, did not see his visitor, until Mrs
Varden, more watchful than the rest, had desired Sim Tappertit to open the glass door
and give him admission--from which untoward circumstance the good lady argued (for
she could deduce a precious moral from the most trifling event) that to take a draught of
small ale in the morning was to observe a pernicious, irreligious, and Pagan custom, the
relish whereof should be left to swine, and Satan, or at least to Popish persons, and
should be shunned by the righteous as a work of sin and evil. She would no doubt have
pursued her admonition much further, and would have founded on it a long list of
precious precepts of inestimable value, but that the young gentleman standing by in a
somewhat uncomfortable and discomfited manner while she read her spouse this
lecture, occasioned her to bring it to a premature conclusion.
'I'm sure you'll excuse me, sir,' said Mrs Varden, rising and curtseying. 'Varden is so
very thoughtless, and needs so much reminding--Sim, bring a chair here.'
Mr Tappertit obeyed, with a flourish implying that he did so, under protest.
'And you can go, Sim,' said the locksmith.
Mr Tappertit obeyed again, still under protest; and betaking himself to the workshop,
began seriously to fear that he might find it necessary to poison his master, before his
time was out.