It was the same, they heard, with the public conveyances. The panic was so great that the mails and stage-coaches were afraid to carry passengers who professed the obnoxious religion. If the drivers knew them, or they admitted that they held that creed, they would not take them, no, though they offered large sums; and yesterday, people had been afraid to recognise Catholic acquaintance in the streets, lest they should be marked by spies, and burnt out, as it was called, in consequence. One mild old man-- a priest, whose chapel was destroyed; a very feeble, patient, inoffensive creature--who was trudging away, alone, designing to walk some distance from town, and then try his fortune with the coaches, told Mr Haredale that he feared he might not find a magistrate who would have the hardihood to commit a prisoner to jail, on his complaint. But notwithstanding these discouraging accounts they went on, and reached the Mansion House soon after sunrise.
Mr Haredale threw himself from his horse, but he had no need to knock at the door, for it was already open, and there stood upon the step a portly old man, with a very red, or rather purple face, who with an anxious expression of countenance, was remonstrating with some unseen personage upstairs, while the porter essayed to close the door by degrees and get rid of him. With the intense impatience and excitement natural to one in his condition, Mr Haredale thrust himself forward and was about to speak, when the fat old gentleman interposed:
'My good sir,' said he, 'pray let me get an answer. This is the sixth time I have been here. I was here five times yesterday. My house is threatened with destruction. It is to be burned down to- night, and was to have been last night, but they had other business on their hands. Pray let me get an answer.'
'My good sir,' returned Mr Haredale, shaking his head, 'my house is burned to the ground. But heaven forbid that yours should be. Get your answer. Be brief, in mercy to me.'
'Now, you hear this, my lord?'--said the old gentleman, calling up the stairs, to where the skirt of a dressing-gown fluttered on the landing-place. 'Here is a gentleman here, whose house was actually burnt down last night.'
'Dear me, dear me,' replied a testy voice, 'I am very sorry for it, but what am I to do? I can't build it up again. The chief magistrate of the city can't go and be a rebuilding of people's houses, my good sir. Stuff and nonsense!'
'But the chief magistrate of the city can prevent people's houses from having any need to be rebuilt, if the chief magistrate's a man, and not a dummy--can't he, my lord?' cried the old gentleman in a choleric manner.
'You are disrespectable, sir,' said the Lord Mayor--'leastways, disrespectful I mean.'
'Disrespectful, my lord!' returned the old gentleman. 'I was respectful five times yesterday. I can't be respectful for ever. Men can't stand on being respectful when their houses are going to be burnt over their heads, with them in 'em. What am I to do, my lord? AM I to have any protection!'
'I told you yesterday, sir,' said the Lord Mayor, 'that you might have an alderman in your house, if you could get one to come.'
'What the devil's the good of an alderman?' returned the choleric old gentleman.
'--To awe the crowd, sir,' said the Lord Mayor.
'Oh Lord ha' mercy!' whimpered the old gentleman, as he wiped his forehead in a state of ludicrous distress, 'to think of sending an alderman to awe a crowd! Why, my lord, if they were even so many babies, fed on mother's milk, what do you think they'd care for an alderman! Will YOU come?'
'I!' said the Lord Mayor, most emphatically: 'Certainly not.'
'Then what,' returned the old gentleman, 'what am I to do? Am I a citizen of England? Am I to have the benefit of the laws? Am I to have any return for the King's taxes?'
'I don't know, I am sure,' said the Lord Mayor; 'what a pity it is you're a Catholic! Why couldn't you be a Protestant, and then you wouldn't have got yourself into such a mess? I'm sure I don't know what's to be done.--There are great people at the bottom of these riots.--Oh dear me, what a thing it is to be a public character!-- You must look in again in the course of the day.--Would a javelin- man do?--Or there's Philips the constable,--HE'S disengaged,--he's not very old for a man at his time of life, except in his legs, and if you put him up at a window he'd look quite young by candle- light, and might frighten 'em very much.--Oh dear!--well!--we'll see about it.'
'Stop!' cried Mr Haredale, pressing the door open as the porter strove to shut it, and speaking rapidly, 'My Lord Mayor, I beg you not to go away.