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- Sybil, or the Two Nations - 80/101 -


shut and she was again left alone. She threw herself on the bed. It seemed to her that she had lost all control over her intelligence. All thought and feeling merged in that deep suspense when the order of our being seems to stop and quiver as it were upon its axis.

The woman returned; her countenance was glad. Perceiving the agitation of Sybil, she said, "You may dry your eyes my dear. There is nothing like a friend at court; there's a warrant from the Secretary of State for your release."

"No, no," said Sybil springing from her chair. "Is he here?"

"What the Secretary of State!" said the woman.

"No, no! I mean is any one here?"

"There is a coach waiting for you at the door with the messenger from the office, and you are to depart forthwith. My husband is here, it was he who knocked at the door. The warrant came before the office was opened."

"My father! I must see him."

The inspector at this moment tapped again at the door and then entered. He caught the last request of Sybil, and replied to it in the negative. "You must not stay," he said; "you must be off immediately. I will tell all to your father. And take a hint; this affair may be bailable or it may not be. I can't give an opinion, but it depends on the evidence. If you have any good man you know--I mean a householder long established and well to do in the world--I advise you to lose no time in looking him up. That will do your father much more good than saying good bye and all that sort of thing."

Bidding farewell to his kind wife, and leaving many weeping messages for her father, Sybil descended the stairs with the inspector. The office was not opened: a couple of policemen only were in the passage, and as she appeared one of them went forth to clear the way for Sybil to the coach that was waiting for her. A milkwoman or two, a stray chimney-sweep, a pieman with his smoking apparatus, and several of those nameless nothings that always congregate and make the nucleus of a mob- -probably our young friends who had been passing the night in Hyde Park--had already gathered round the office door. They were dispersed, and returned again and took up their position at a more respectful distance, abusing with many racy execrations that ancient body that from a traditionary habit they still called the New Police.

A man in a loose white great coat, his countenance concealed by a shawl which was wound round his neck and by his slouched hat, assisted Sybil into the coach, and pressed her hand at the same time with great tenderness. Then he mounted the box by the driver and ordered him to make the best of his way to Smith's Square.

With a beating heart, Sybil leant back in the coach and clasped her hands. Her brain was too wild to think: the incidents of her life during the last four-and-twenty hours had been so strange and rapid that she seemed almost to resign any quality of intelligent control over her fortunes, and to deliver herself up to the shifting visions of the startling dream. His voice had sounded in her ear as his hand had touched hers. And on those tones her memory lingered, and that pressure had reached her heart. What tender devotion! What earnest fidelity! What brave and romantic faith! Had she breathed on some talisman, and called up some obedient genie to her aid, the spirit could not have been more loyal, nor the completion of her behest more ample and precise.

She passed the towers of the church of St John: of the saint who had seemed to guard over her in the exigency of her existence. She was approaching her threshold; the blood left her cheek, her heart palpitated. The coach stopped. Trembling and timid she leant upon his arm and yet dared not look upon his face. They entered the house; they were in the room where two months before he had knelt to her in vain, which yesterday had been the scene of so many heart-rending passions.

As in some delicious dream, when the enchanted fancy has traced for a time with coherent bliss the stream of bright adventures and sweet and touching phrase, there comes at last some wild gap in the flow of fascination, and by means which we cannot trace, and by an agency which we cannot pursue, we find ourselves in some enrapturing situation that is as it were the ecstasy of our life; so it happened now, that while in clear and precise order there seemed to flit over the soul of Sybil all that had passed, all that he had done, all that she felt--by some mystical process which memory could not recall, Sybil found herself pressed to the throbbing heart of Egremont, nor shrinking from the embrace which expressed the tenderness of his devoted love!

Book 5 Chapter 10

Mowbray was in a state of great excitement. It was Saturday evening: the mills were closed; the news had arrived of the arrest of the Delegate.

"Here's a go!" said Dandy Mick to Devilsdust. "What do you think of this?"

"It's the beginning of the end," said Devilsdust.

"The deuce!" said the Dandy, who did not clearly comprehend the bent of the observation of his much pondering and philosophic friend, but was touched by its oracular terseness.

"We must see Warner." said Devilsdust, "and call a meeting of the people on the Moor for to-morrow evening. I will draw up some resolutions. We must speak out; we must terrify the Capitalists."

"I am all for a strike," said Mick.

"'Tisn't ripe," said Devilsdust.

"But that's what you always say, Dusty," said Mick.

"I watch events," said Devilsdust. "If you want to be a leader of the people you must learn to watch events."

"But what do you mean by watching events?"

"Do you see Mother Carey's stall?" said Dusty, pointing in the direction of the counter of the good-natured widow.

"I should think I did; and what's more, Julia owes her a tick for herrings."

"Right," said Devilsdust: "and nothing but herrings are to be seen on her board. Two years ago it was meat."

"I twig," said Mick.

"Wait till it's wegetables; when the people can't buy even fish. Then we will talk about strikes. That's what I call watching events."

Julia, Caroline, and Harriet came up to them.

"Mick," said Julia, "we want to go to the Temple."

"I wish you may get it," said Mick shaking his head. "When you have learnt to watch events, Julia, you will understand that under present circumstances the Temple is no go."

"And why so, Dandy?" said Julia.

"Do you see Mother Carey's stall?" said Mick, pointing in that direction. "When there's a tick at Madam Carey's there is no tin for Chaffing Jack. That's what I call watching events."

"Oh! as for the tin," said Caroline, "in these half-time days that's quite out of fashion. But they do say it's the last night at the Temple, for Chaffing Jack means to shut up, it does not pay any longer; and we want a lark. I'll stand treat; I'll put my earrings up the spout--they must go at last, and I would sooner at any time go to my uncle's for frolic than woe."

"I am sure I should like very much to go to the Temple if any one would pay for me," said Harriet, "but I won't pawn nothing."

"If we only pay and hear them sing," said Julia in a coaxing tone.

"Very like," said Mick; "there's nothing that makes one so thirsty as listening to a song, particularly if it touches the feelings. Don't you remember, Dusty, when we used to encore that German fellow in 'Scots wha ha.' We always had it five times. Hang me if I wasn't blind drunk at the end of it."

"I tell you what, young ladies," said Devilsdust, looking very solemn, "you're dancing on a volcano."

"Oh! my," said Caroline. "I am sure I wish we were; though what you mean exactly I don't quite know."

"I mean that we shall all soon be slaves," said Devilsdust.

"Not if we get the Ten-Hour Bill," said Harriet.

"And no cleaning of machinery in meal time," said Julia; "that is a shame."

"You don't know what you are talking about," said Devilsdust. "I tell you, if the Capitalists put down Gerard we're done for another ten years, and by that time we shall be all used up."

"Lor! Dusty, you quite terrify one," said Caroline.


Sybil, or the Two Nations - 80/101

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