With you at his elbow, too, who are so perfectly trustworthySir John, Sir John,’ returned the locksmith, ‘at twelve tomorrow, these men die. Hear the few words I have to add, and do not hope to deceive me; for though I am a plain man of humble station,cheap nike air max heels and you are a gentleman of rank and learning, the truth raises me to your level, and I KNOW that you anticipate the disclosure with which I am about to end, and that you believe this doomed man, Hugh, to be your sonNay,’ said Sir John, bantering him with a gay air; ‘the wild gentleman, who died so suddenly, scarcely went as far as that, I thinkHe did not,’ returned the locksmith, ‘for she had bound him by some pledge, known only to these people, and which the worst among them respect, not to tell your name: but, in a fantastic pattern on the stick, he had carved some letters, and when the hangman asked it, he bade him, especially if he should ever meet with her son in after life, remember that place wellWhat placeChester.’ The knight finished his cup of chocolate with an appearance of infinite relish, and carefully wiped his lips upon his handkerchiefSir John,’ said the locksmith, ‘this is all that has been told to me; but since these two men have been left for death, they have conferred together closely. See them, and hear what they can add. See this Dennis, and learn from him what he has not trusted to me. If you, who hold the clue to all, want corroboration (which you do not), the means are easyAnd to what,’ said Sir John Chester, rising on his elbow, after smoothing the pillow for its reception; ‘my dear, good-natured, estimable Mr Vardenwith whom I cannot be angry if I wouldto what does all this tendI take you for a man, Sir John, and I suppose it tends to some pleading of natural affection in your breast,’ returned the locksmith. ‘I suppose to the straining of every nerve, and the exertion of all the influence you have, or can make, in behalf of your miserable son, and the man who has disclosed his existence to you. At the worst, I suppose to your seeing your son, and awakening him to a sense of his crime and danger. He has no such sense now. Think what his life must have been, when he said in my hearing, that if I moved you to anything, it would be to hastening his death, and ensuring his silence, if you had it in your powerAnd have you, my good Mr Varden,’ said Sir John in a tone of mild reproof, nike air force high heels ‘have you really lived to your present age, and remained so very simple and credulous, as to approach a gentleman of established character with such credentials as these, from desperate men in their last extremity, catching at any straw? Oh dear! Oh fie, fie!’ The locksmith was going to interpose, but he stopped himOn any other subject, Mr Varden, I shall be delightedI shall be charmedto converse with you, but I owe it to my own character not to pursue this topic for another momentThink better of it, sir, when I am gone,’ returned the locksmith; ‘think better of it, sir. Although you have, thrice within as many weeks, turned your lawful son, Mr Edward, from your door, you may have time, you may have years to make your peace with HIM, Sir John: but that twelve o’clock will soon be here, and soon be past for everI thank you very much,’ returned the knight, kissing his delicate hand to the locksmith, ‘for your guileless advice; and I only wish, my good soul, although your simplicity is quite captivating, that you had a little more worldly wisdom. I never so much regretted the arrival of my hairdresser as I do at this moment. God bless you! Good morning! You’ll not forget my message to the ladies, Mr Varden? Peak, show Mr Varden to the door.’ Gabriel said no more, but gave the knight a parting look, and left him. As he quitted the room, Sir John’s face changed; and the smile gave place to a haggard and anxious expression, like that of a weary actor jaded by the performance of a difficult part. He rose from his bed with a heavy sigh, and wrapped himself in his morning-gownSo she kept her word,’ he said, ‘and was constant to her threat! I would I had never seen that dark face of hers,— I might have read these consequences in it, from the first. This affair would make a noise abroad, if it rested on better evidence; but, as it is, and by not joining the scattered links of the chain, I can afford to slight it.— Extremely distressing to be the parent of such an uncouth creature! Still, I gave him very good advice. I told him he would certainly be hanged. I could have done no more if I had known of our relationship; and there are a great many fathers who have never done as much for THEIR natural children.— The hairdresser may come in, Peak!’ The hairdresser came in; and saw in Sir John Chester (whose accommodating conscience was soon quieted by the numerous precedents that occurred to him in support of his last observation), the same imperturbable, fascinating, elegant gentleman cheap nike high heels he had seen yesterday, and many yesterdays before. Chapter 76 As the locksmith walked slowly away from Sir John Chester’s chambers, he lingered under the trees which shaded the path, almost hoping that he might be summoned to return. He had turned back thrice, and still loitered at the corner, when the clock struck twelve. It was a solemn sound, and not merely for its reference to to-morrow; for he knew that in that chime the murderer’s knell was rung. He had seen him pass along the crowded street, amidst the execration of the throng; and marked his quivering lip, and trembling limbs; the ashy hue upon his face, his clammy brow, the wild distraction of his eyethe fear of death that swallowed up all other thoughts, and gnawed without cessation at his heart and brain. He had marked the wandering look, seeking for hope, and finding, turn where it would, despair. He had seen the remorseful, pitiful, desolate creature, riding, with his coffin by his side, to the gibbet. He knew that, to the last, he had been an unyielding, obdurate man; that in the savage terror of his condition he had hardened, rather than relented, to his wife and child; and that the last words which had passed his white lips were curses on them as his enemies. Mr Haredale had determined to be there, and see it done. Nothing but the evidence of his own senses could satisfy that gloomy thirst for retribution which had been gathering upon him for so many years. The locksmith knew this, and when the chimes had ceased to vibrate, hurried away to meet himFor these two men,’ he said, as he went, ‘I can do no more. Heaven have mercy on them!— Alas! I say I can do no more for them, but whom can I help? Mary Rudge will have a home, and a firm friend when she most wants one; but Barnabypoor Barnabywilling Barnabywhat aid can I render him? There are many, many men of sense, God forgive cheap nike heels me,’ cried the honest locksmith, stopping in a narrow count to pass his hand across his eyes, ‘I could better afford to lose than Barnaby. We have always been good friends, but I never knew, till now, how much I loved the lad.’ There were not many in the great city who thought of Barnaby that day, otherwise than as an actor in a show which was to take place to-morrow. But if the whole population had had him in their minds, and had wished his life to be spared, not one among them could have done so with a purer zeal or greater singleness of heart than the good locksmith. Barnaby was to die. There was no hope. It is not the least evil attendant upon the frequent exhibition of this last dread punishment, of Death, that it hardens the minds of those who deal it out, and makes them, though they be amiable men in other respects, indifferent to, or unconscious of, their great responsibility. The word had gone forth that Barnaby was to die. It went forth, every month, for lighter crimes. It was a thing so common, that very few were startled by the awful sentence, or cared to question its propriety. Just then, too, when the law had been so flagrantly outraged, its dignity must be asserted. The symbol of its dignity,— stamped upon every page of the criminal statute-book,— was the gallows; and Barnaby was to die. They had tried to save him. The locksmith had carried petitions and memorials to the fountain-head, with his own hands. But the well was not one of mercy, and Barnaby was to die