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UNITED STATES HORSE BARRACKS
ON THE TREASURY BUILDING GROUNDS AT WASHINGTON, D. C.—[FROM A SKETCH BY OUR
BARRACKS ON THE TREASURY
THE accompanying picture, from a
sketch by our special artist in Washington, shows what straits the soldiers are
put to in Washington for want of room. A large body of dragoons are quartered
under a shed on the
Treasury Grounds—not very comfortable quarters, for a
garrison town, in such weather as last Monday. They seem, however, from all
accounts, to bear these petty privations cheerfully ; at latest dates men and
horses were well.
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
IT was fortunate for me that I
had to take precautions to insure (so far as I could) the safety of my dreaded
visitor, for this thought pressing on me when I awoke held other thoughts in a
confused concourse at a distance.
The impossibility of keeping him
concealed in the chambers was self-evident. It could not be done, and the
attempt to do it would inevitably engender suspicion. True, I had no Avenger in
my service now, but I was looked after by an inflammatory old female, assisted
by an animated rag-bag whom she called her niece, and to keep a room secret from
them would be to invite curiosity and exaggeration. They both had weak eyes,
which I had long attributed to their chronically looking in at keyholes, and
they were always at hand when not wanted ; indeed that was their only reliable
quality besides larceny. Not to get up a mystery with these people, I resolved
to announce in the morning that my uncle had unexpectedly come from the country.
This course I decided on while I
was yet groping about in the darkness for the means of getting a light. Not
stumbling on the means after all, I was fain to go out to the Lodge and get the
watchman there to come with his lantern. Now, in groping my way down the black
staircase I fell over something, and that something was a man crouching in a
As the man made no answer when I
asked him what he did there, but eluded my touch in, silence, I ran to the Lodge
and urged the watchman to come back quickly : telling him of the incident on the
way back. The wind being as fierce as ever, we did not care to endanger the
light in the lantern by rekindling the extinguished lamps on the staircase, but
we examined the staircase from the bottom to the top and found no one there. It
then occurred to me as possible that the man might have slipped into my rooms ;
so, lighting my candle at the watchman's, and leaving him standing at the door,
I examined them carefully, including the room in which my dreaded guest lay
asleep. All was quiet, and assuredly no other man was in those chambers.
It troubled me that there should
have been a Iurker on the stairs, on that night of all nights in the year, and I
asked the watchman as I handed him a dram at the door, on the chance of
eliciting some hopeful explanation, whether he had admitted at his gate any
gentlemen who had perceptibly been dining out ? Yes, he said ; at different
times of the night, three. One lived in Fountain Court, and the other two lived
in the Lane, and he had seen them all go home. Again, the only other man who
dwelt in the house of which my chambers formed a part had been in the country
for some weeks; and he
certainly had not returned in the
night, because we had seen his door with his seal on it as we came up stairs."
" The night being so bad, Sir,"
said the watchman, as he gave me back my glass, " uncommon few have come in at
my gate. Besides them three gentlemen that I have named, I don't call to mind
another since about eleven o'clock, when a stranger asked for you."
"My uncle," I muttered. "Yes."
" You saw him, Sir ?"
"Yes. Oh yes."
" Likewise the person with him ?"
" Person with him !" I repeated.
"I judged the person to be with
him," returned the watchman. " The person stopped when he stopped to make
inquiry of me, and the person took this way when he took this way."
" What sort of person ?"
The watchman had not particularly
noticed ; he should say a working person ; to the best of his belief he had a
dust-colored kind of clothes on, under a dark coat. The watchman made more light
of the matter than I did, and naturally—not having my reason for attaching
weight to it.
When I had got rid of him, which
I thought it well to do without prolonging explanations, my mind was much
troubled by these two circumstances taken together. Whereas they were easy of
innocent solution apart—as, for instance, some diner-out or diner-at-home, who
had not gone near this watchman's gate, might have strayed to my staircase and
dropped asleep there —and my nameless visitor might have brought some one with
him to show him the way—still, joined, they had an ugly look to one as prone to
distrust and fear as the changes of a few hours had made me.
I lighted my fire, which burned
with a raw pale look at that dead time of the morning, and fell into a doze
before it. I seemed to have been dozing a whole night when the clocks struck
six. As there was full an hour and a half between me and daylight, I dozed again
; now, waking up uneasily, with prolix conversations about nothing still in my
ears ; now, making thunder of the wind in the chimney ; at length falling off
into a profound sleep from which the daylight woke me with a start.
All this time I had never been
able to consider my own situation, nor could I do so yet. I had not the power to
attend to it. I was greatly dejected and distressed, but in an incoherent
wholesale sort of way. As to forming any plan for the future, I could as soon
have formed an elephant. When I opened the shutters and looked out at the wet
wild morning, all of a leaden hue ; when I walked from room to room ; when I sat
down again shivering, before the fire, waiting for my laundress to appear ; I
thought how miserable I was, but hardly knew why, or how long I had been so, or
on what day of the week I made the reflection, or even who I was that made it.
At length the old woman and the
niece came in—the latter with a head not easily distinguishable from her
broom—and testified surprise at sight of me and the fire. To whom I imparted how
my uncle had come in the night and was then asleep, and how the breakfast
preparations were to be modified accordingly. Then I washed and dressed while
they knocked the furniture about and made a dust, and so, in a sort of dream or
sleep-waking, found myself sitting by the fire again waiting for—Him—to come to
By-and-by his door opened and he
came out. I could not bring myself to bear the sight of him, and I thought he
had a villainous look by daylight.
" I do not even know," said I,
speaking low as he took his seat at the table, "by what name to call you. I have
given out that you are my uncle."
' That's it, dear boy! Call me
" You assumed some name, I
suppose, on board ship ?"
Yes, dear boy. I took the name of
Provis." "Do you mean to keep that name ?"
" Why, yes, dear boy, it's as
good as another —unless you'd like another."
"What is your own name?" I asked
him in a whisper.
Magwitch," he answered, in the
same tone ; "chris'en'd Abel."
" What were you brought up to be
"A warmint, dear boy."
He answered quite seriously, and
used the word as if it denoted some profession.
" When you came into the Temple
last night—" said I, pausing to wonder whether that could really have been last
night which seemed so long ago.
Yes, dear boy ?"
" When you came in at the gate
and asked the watchman the way here, had you any one with you ?"
With me ? No, dear boy."
But there was some one there ?"
" I didn't take particular
notice," he said, dubiously, "not knowing the ways of the place. But I think
there was a person, too, come in alonger me."
Are you known in London ?"
" I hope not !" said he, giving
his neck a jerk with his forefinger that made me turn hot and sick.
"Were you known in London, once?"
" Not over and above, dear boy. I
was in the provinces mostly."
" Were you—tried—in London ?"
"Which time?" said he, with a
sharp look. The last time."
He nodded. " First knowed Mr.
Jaggers that way. Jaggers was for me."
It was on my lips to ask him what
he was tried for, but he took up a knife, gave it a flourish, and with the
words, " And whatever I done is worked out and paid for ! " fell to at his
He ate in a ravenous way that was
very disagreeable, and all his actions were uncouth, noisy, and greedy. Some of
his teeth had failed him since I saw him eat on the marshes, and as he turned
his food in his mouth, and turned his head sideways to bring his strongest fangs
to bear upon it, he looked terribly like a hungry old dog. If I had begun with
any appetite he would have taken it away, and I should have sat much as I
did—repelled from him by an insurmountable aversion, and gloomily looking at the
"I'm a heavy grubber, dear boy,"
he said, as a polite kind of apology when he had made an end of his meal, " but
I always wos. If it had been in my constitution to be a lighter grubber, I might
ha' got into lighter trouble. Similarly, I must have my smoke. When I was first
hired out as shepherd t'other side the world, it's my belief I should ha' turned
into a molloncolly-mad sheep myself, if I hadn't a had my smoke."
As he said so, he got up from
table, and putting his hand into the breast of the pea-coat he wore, brought out
a short black pipe, and a handful of loose tobacco of the kind that is called
Negro-head. Having filled his pipe, he put the surplus tobacco back again, as if
his pocket were a drawer. Then he took a live coal from the fire with the tongs,
and lighted his pipe at it, and then turned round on the hearth-rug with his
back to the fire, and went through
his favorite action of holding
out both his hands for mine.
"And this," said he, dandling my
hands up and down in his, as he puffed at his pipe—"and this is the gentleman
wot I made ! The real genuine One! It does me good fur to look at you, Pip. All
I stip'late is to stand by and look at you, dear boy !"
I released my hands as soon as I
could, and found that I was beginning slowly to settle down to the contemplation
of my condition. What I was chained to, and how heavily, became intelligible to
me, as I heard his hoarse voice, and sat looking up at his furrowed bald head
with its iron-gray hair at the sides.
'I mustn't see my gentleman a
footing it in the mire of the streets ; there mustn't be no mud on his hoots. My
gentleman must have horses, Pip ! Horses to ride, and horses to drive, and
horses for his servant to ride and drive as well. Shall colonists have their
horses (and blood 'uns, if you please, good Lord !) and not my London gentleman?
No, no. We'll show 'em another pair of shoes than that, Pip ; won't us ?"
He took out of his pocket a great
thick pocketbook, bursting with papers, and tossed it on the table.
'There's something worth spending
in that there book, dear boy. It's yourn. All I've got ain't mine ; it's yourn.
Don't you be afraid on it. There's more where that come from. I've come to the
old country fur to see my gentleman spend his money, like a gentleman. That'll
be my pleasure. My pleasure 'ull be fur to see him do it. And blast you all!" be
wound up, looking round the cornice of the room and snapping his fingers once
with a loud crack, " blast you every one, from the judge in his wig to the
colonist a stirring up the dust, I'll show a better gentleman than the whole kit
on you put together !"
" Stop !" said I, almost in a
frenzy of fear and dislike, "1 want to speak to you. I want to know what is to
be done. I want to know how you are to be kept out of danger, how long you are
going to stay, what projects you have."
"Look'ee here, Pip," said he,
laying his hand on my arm in a suddenly altered and subdued manner ; "first of
all, look'ee here. I forgot myself half a minute ago. What I said was low ;
that's wot it was ; low. Look'ee here, Pip. Look over it. I ain't a going to be
"First," I resumed, half
groaning, " what precautions can be taken against your being recognized and
"No, dear boy," he said, in the
same tone as before, "that don't go first. Lowness goes first. I ain't took so
many year to make a gentleman not without knowing wot's due to him. Look'ee
here, Pip. I was low ; that's wot I was ; low. Look over it, dear boy."
Some sense of the
grimly-ludicrous moved me to a fretful laugh, as I replied, "I have looked over
it. In Heaven's name, don't harp upon it!"
"Yes, but look'ee here," he
persisted. "Dear boy, I ain't come so fur to be low. Now, go on, dear boy. You
was a saying—"
"How are you to be guarded from
the danger you have incurred !"
"Well, dear boy, the danger ain't
so great Without I was informed against, the danger ain't so much to signify.
There's Jaggers, and there's Wemmick, and there's you. Who else is there to
"Is there no chance person who
might identify you in the street?" said I, bitterly.
"Well," he returned, "there ain't
many. Nor yet I don't intend to advertise myself in the papers by the name of A.
M. come back from Botany Bay ; and years have rolled away, and