Barnaby Rudge HTML version
As soon as the business of the day was over, the locksmith sallied forth, alone, to visit
the wounded gentleman and ascertain the progress of his recovery. The house where
he had left him was in a by-street in Southwark, not far from London Bridge; and thither
he hied with all speed, bent upon returning with as little delay as might be, and getting
to bed betimes.
The evening was boisterous--scarcely better than the previous night had been. It was
not easy for a stout man like Gabriel to keep his legs at the street corners, or to make
head against the high wind, which often fairly got the better of him, and drove him back
some paces, or, in defiance of all his energy, forced him to take shelter in an arch or
doorway until the fury of the gust was spent. Occasionally a hat or wig, or both, came
spinning and trundling past him, like a mad thing; while the more serious spectacle of
falling tiles and slates, or of masses of brick and mortar or fragments of stone-coping
rattling upon the pavement near at hand, and splitting into fragments, did not increase
the pleasure of the journey, or make the way less dreary.
'A trying night for a man like me to walk in!' said the locksmith, as he knocked softly at
the widow's door. 'I'd rather be in old John's chimney-corner, faith!'
'Who's there?' demanded a woman's voice from within. Being answered, it added a
hasty word of welcome, and the door was quickly opened.
She was about forty--perhaps two or three years older--with a cheerful aspect, and a
face that had once been pretty. It bore traces of affliction and care, but they were of an
old date, and Time had smoothed them. Any one who had bestowed but a casual
glance on Barnaby might have known that this was his mother, from the strong
resemblance between them; but where in his face there was wildness and vacancy, in
hers there was the patient composure of long effort and quiet resignation.
One thing about this face was very strange and startling. You could not look upon it in
its most cheerful mood without feeling that it had some extraordinary capacity of
expressing terror. It was not on the surface. It was in no one feature that it lingered. You
could not take the eyes or mouth, or lines upon the cheek, and say, if this or that were
otherwise, it would not be so. Yet there it always lurked--something for ever dimly seen,
but ever there, and never absent for a moment. It was the faintest, palest shadow of
some look, to which an instant of intense and most unutterable horror only could have
given birth; but indistinct and feeble as it was, it did suggest what that look must have
been, and fixed it in the mind as if it had had existence in a dream.
More faintly imaged, and wanting force and purpose, as it were, because of his
darkened intellect, there was this same stamp upon the son. Seen in a picture, it must
have had some legend with it, and would have haunted those who looked upon the