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(Continued from page 363.)
CIIAPTER THE THIRTY-NINTH.
During the whole course of the terrible scene which was now at its height, one man in the jail suffered a degree of fear and mental torment which had no parallel in the endurance, even of those who lay under sentence of death.
When the rioters first assembled before the building, the murderer was roused from sleep if such slumbers as his, may have Ibat blessed name-by the roar of voices, and the struggling of a great crowd. He started up as these sounds met his ear, and, sitting on his bedstead, listened.
After a short interval of silence the noise burst out again. Still listening attentively, he made out, in course of time, that the jail was besieged by a furious multitude. His guilty conscience instantly arrayed these men against himself, and brought the fear upon him that he would be singled out, and torn to pieces.
Once impressed with the terror of this conceit, everything tended to confirm and strengthen it. His double crime, the
circumstances under which it had been committed, the length of time that had elapsed, and its discovery in spite of all, made him, as it were, the visible object of the Almighty's wrath. In all the crime and vice and moral gloom of the great pesthouse of the capital, he stood alone, marked and singled out by his great guilt, a Lucifer among the devils. The other prisoners were a host, biding and sheltering each other-a crowd like that without the walls. He was one man against the whole united concourse ; a single, solitary, lonely man, from wbom the very captives in the jail fell off and shrunk appalled.
It might be that the intelligence of his capture having been bruited abroad, they had come there purposely to drag him out and kill him in the street; or it might be that they were the rioters, and, in pursuance of an old design, had come to sack the prison. But in either case he bad no belief or hope that they would spare him. Every shout they raised, and every sound they made, was a blow upon his heart. As the attack went on, he grew more wild and frantic in his terror: tried to pull away the bars that guarded the chimney and prevented him from climbing up; called loudly on the turnkeys to cluster round the cell and save him from the fury of the rabble; or put him in some dungeon underground, no malter of what depth, how dark it was, or loathsome, or beset with rats and creeping things, so that it hid him and was hard to find.
But no one came, or answered him. Fearful, even while he cried to them, of attracting attention, he was silent. By and by, he saw, as he looked from his grated window, a strange glimmering on the stone walls and pavement of the yard. It was feeble at first, and came and went, as though some officers with torches were passing to and fro upon the roof of the prison. Soon it reddened, and lighted brands came whirling down, spaltering the ground wilh fire, and burning sullenly in corners. One rolled beneath a wooden bench, and set it in a blaze ; another caught a water-spout; and so went climbing up the wall, leaving a long straight track of fire behind it. After a time, a slow thick shower of burning fragments, from some upper portion of the prison which was blazing nigh, began to fall before his door. Remembering that it opened outwards, he knew that every spark which fell upon the heap, and in the act lost ils bright life, and died an ugly speck of dust and rubbish, helped to entomb him in a living grave. Still, though the jail resounded with shrieks and cries for help, - though the fire bounded up as if each separate flame had a tiger's life, and roared as though, in every one, there were a hungry voice-Though the heat began to grow intense, and the air suffocating, and the clamour without increased, and the danger of bis situation even from one merciless element was every moment more extreme,-still be was afraid to raise his voice again, lest the crowd should break in, and should, of their own ears or from the information given them by the other prisoners, get the clue to his place of confinement. Thus fearful alike, of those within the prison and of those without; of noise and silence; light and darkness ; of being released, and being left there to die ; he was so torlured and tormented, that nothing man has ever done to man in the horrible caprice of power and cruelty, exceeds his self-inflicted punishment.
Now, now, the door was down. Now they came rushing through the jail, calling to each other in the vaulted passages; clashing the iron gates dividing yard from yard; beating at the doors of cells and wards; wrenching off bolts and locks and bars ; tearing down the door-posts to get men out; endeavouring to drag them by main force through gaps and windows where a child could scarcely pass ; whooping and yelling without a moment's rest ; and running through the heat and flames as if they were cased in metal. By their legs, their arms, the hair upon their heads, they dragged the prisoners out. Some threw themselves upon the captives as they got towards the door, and tried to file away their irons; some danced about them with a frenzied joy, and rent their clothes, and were ready, as it seemed, to tear them limb from limb. Now a party of a dozen men came darting through the yard into which the murderer cast fearful glances from his darkened window; dragging a prisoner along the ground whose dress they had nearly torn from his body in their mad eagerness to set him free, and who was bleeding and senseless in their bands. Now a score of prisoners ran to and fro, who had lost themselves in the intricacies of the prison, and were 80 bewildered with the noise and glare that they knew not where to turn or what to do, and still cried out for help, as loudly as before. Anon some famished wretch whose theft bad been a loaf of bread, or scrap of butcher's meat, came skulking past, barefooted, -going slowly away because that jail, his house, was burning ; not because he had any other, or had friends to meet, or old haunts to revisit, or any liberty to gain, but liberty to starve and die. And then a knot of highway men went trooping by, conducted by the friends they had among the crowd, who musled their fellers as they went along, with handkerchiefs and bands of hay, and wrapped them up in coats and cloaks, and gave them drink from bottles, and held it to their lips, because of their handcuffs which there was no time to remove. All this, and Heaven knows how much more, was done amidst a noise, a hurry, and distraction, like nothing that we know of, even in our dreams; which seemed for ever on the rise, and never to decrease for the space of a single instant.
He was still looking down from his window upon these things, when a band of men with torches, ladders, axes, and many kinds of weapons poured into the yard, and hammering at his door, enquired if there were any prisoner within. He left the window when he saw them coming, and drew back into the remotest corner of the cell ; but although he returned them no answer, they had a fancy that some one was within, for they presently set ladders against it, and began to tear away the bars at the casement; not only that, indeed, but with pickaxes to hew down the very stones in the wall.
As soon as they had made a breach at the window, large enough for the admission of a man's head, one of them thrust in a torch and looked all round the room. He followed this man's gaze until it rested on himself, and heard him demand why he had not answered, but made him no reply.
In the general surprise and wonder, they were used to this; for without saying anything more, they enlarged the breach until it was large enough to admit the body of a man, and then came dropping down upon the floor one after another, until the cell was full. They caught him up among them, handed him to the window, and those who stood upon the ladders cast him down upon the pavement of the yard. Then the rest came out, one after another, and, bidding him fly, and lose no time, or the way would be choaked up, hurried away to rescue others.
It seemed not a minute's work from first to last. gered to his feet, incredulous of what had happened, when the yard was filled again, and a crowd rushed on, hurrying Barnaby among them. In another minute not so much : another minute! the same instant, with no lapse or interval between! he and his son were being passed from hand to hand, through the dense crowd in the street, and were glancing backward at a burning pile which some one said was Newgate.
At the bidding of the mob, the houses were all illuminated that night-lighted up from top to bottom as at a time of public gaiety and joy. Many years afterwards, old people who lived in their youth near this part of the city, remembered being in a great glare of light, within doors and without, and as they looked, timid and frightened children, from the windows, seeing a face go by. Though the whole great crowd and all its other terrors had faded from their recollection, this one object remained ; alone, distinct, and well-remember
Even in the unpractised minds of infants, one of these doomed men darting by, and but an instant seen, image of force enough to dim the whole concourse; itself an all-absorbing place, and hold it ever after.
When this last lask had been achieved, the shouts and cries grew fainter ; the clank of felters, which had resounded on all sides as the prisoners escaped, was heard no more; all the noises of the crowd subsided into a hoarse and sullen murmur as it passed into, lhe distance ; and when the buman tide had rolled away, a melancholy heap of smoking ruins marked the spot where it had lately chafed and roared.