Charles Dickens

They paused for a moment, going out, to look at them clasped in each other's arms, and then left the cottage; fastening the door, and setting a good watch upon it, and indeed all round the house.

'I say,' growled Dennis, as they walked away in company, 'that's a dainty pair. Muster Gashford's one is as handsome as the other, eh?'

'Hush!' said Hugh, hastily. 'Don't you mention names. It's a bad habit.'

'I wouldn't like to be HIM, then (as you don't like names), when he breaks it out to her; that's all,' said Dennis. 'She's one of them fine, black-eyed, proud gals, as I wouldn't trust at such times with a knife too near 'em. I've seen some of that sort, afore now. I recollect one that was worked off, many year ago--and there was a gentleman in that case too--that says to me, with her lip a trembling, but her hand as steady as ever I see one: "Dennis, I'm near my end, but if I had a dagger in these fingers, and he was within my reach, I'd strike him dead afore me;"--ah, she did--and she'd have done it too!'

Strike who dead?' demanded Hugh.

'How should I know, brother?' answered Dennis. 'SHE never said; not she.'

Hugh looked, for a moment, as though he would have made some further inquiry into this incoherent recollection; but Simon Tappertit, who had been meditating deeply, gave his thoughts a new direction.

'Hugh!' said Sim. 'You have done well to-day. You shall be rewarded. So have you, Dennis.--There's no young woman YOU want to carry off, is there?'

'N--no,' returned that gentleman, stroking his grizzly beard, which was some two inches long. 'None in partickler, I think.'

'Very good,' said Sim; 'then we'll find some other way of making it up to you. As to you, old boy'--he turned to Hugh--'you shall have Miggs (her that I promised you, you know) within three days. Mind. I pass my word for it.'

Hugh thanked him heartily; and as he did so, his laughing fit returned with such violence that he was obliged to hold his side with one hand, and to lean with the other on the shoulder of his small captain, without whose support he would certainly have rolled upon the ground.

Chapter 60

The three worthies turned their faces towards The Boot, with the intention of passing the night in that place of rendezvous, and of seeking the repose they so much needed in the shelter of their old den; for now that the mischief and destruction they had purposed were achieved, and their prisoners were safely bestowed for the night, they began to be conscious of exhaustion, and to feel the wasting effects of the madness which had led to such deplorable results.

Notwithstanding the lassitude and fatigue which oppressed him now, in common with his two companions, and indeed with all who had taken an active share in that night's work, Hugh's boisterous merriment broke out afresh whenever he looked at Simon Tappertit, and vented itself--much to that gentleman's indignation--in such shouts of laughter as bade fair to bring the watch upon them, and involve them in a skirmish, to which in their present worn-out condition they might prove by no means equal. Even Mr Dennis, who was not at all particular on the score of gravity or dignity, and who had a great relish for his young friend's eccentric humours, took occasion to remonstrate with him on this imprudent behaviour, which he held to be a species of suicide, tantamount to a man's working himself off without being overtaken by the law, than which he could imagine nothing more ridiculous or impertinent.

Not abating one jot of his noisy mirth for these remonstrances, Hugh reeled along between them, having an arm of each, until they hove in sight of The Boot, and were within a field or two of that convenient tavern. He happened by great good luck to have roared and shouted himself into silence by this time. They were proceeding onward without noise, when a scout who had been creeping about the ditches all night, to warn any stragglers from encroaching further on what was now such dangerous ground, peeped cautiously from his hiding-place, and called to them to stop.