Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet: Ch. 33

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There was so great a hubbub inside Kelly's room, of English, French, and Irish, all talking at once, that we knocked at intervals for full five minutes, unheard by the noisy crew; and I, in despair, was trying the handle, which was fast, when, to my astonishment, a heavy blow was struck on the panel from the inside, and the point of a sharp instrument driven right through, close to my knees, with the exclamation—

"What do you think o' that, now, in a policeman's bread-basket?"

"I think," answered I, as loud as I dare, and as near the dangerous door, "if I intended really to use it, I wouldn't make such a fool's noise about it."

There was a dead silence; the door was hastily opened, and Kelly's nose poked out; while we, in spite of the horribleness of the whole thing, could not help laughing at his face of terror. Seeing who we were he welcomed us in at once, into a miserable apartment, full of pikes and daggers, brandished by some dozen miserable, ragged, half-starved artizans. Three-fourths, I saw at once, were slop-working tailors. There was a bloused and bearded Frenchman or two; but the majority were, as was to have been expected, the oppressed, the starved, the untaught, the despairing, the insane; "the dangerous classes," which society creates, and then shrinks in horror, like Frankenstein, from the monster her own clumsy ambition has created. Thou Frankenstein Mammon! hast thou not had warnings enough, either to make thy machines like men, or stop thy bungling, and let God make them for Himself?

I will not repeat what I heard there. There is many a frantic ruffian of that night now sitting "in his right mind"—though not yet "clothed"—waiting for God's deliverance, rather than his own.

We got Kelly out of the room into the street, and began inquiring of him the whereabouts of this said Bower or Power. "He didn't know,"—the feather-headed Irishman that he was!—"Faix, by-the-by, he'd forgotten—an' he went to look for him at the place he tould him, and they didn't know sich a one there—"

"Oh, oh! Mr. Power has an alibi, then? Perhaps an alias too?"

"He didn't know his name rightly. Some said it was Brown; but he was a broth of a boy—a thrue people's man. Bedad, he gov' away arms afthen and afthen to them that couldn't buy 'em. An' he's as free-spoken—och, but he's put me into the confidence! Come down the street a bit, and I'll tell yees—I'll be Lord-Lieutenant o' Dublin Castle meself, if it succades, as shure as there's no snakes in ould Ireland, an' revenge her wrongs ankle deep in the bhlood o' the Saxon! Whirroo! for the marthyred memory o' the three hundred thousint vargens o' Wexford!"

"Hold your tongue, you ass!" said Crossthwaite, as he clapped his hand over his mouth, expecting every moment to find us all three in the Rhadamanthine grasp of a policeman; while I stood laughing, as people will, for mere disgust at the ridiculous, which almost always intermingles with the horrible.

At last, out it came—

"Bedad! we're going to do it! London's to be set o' fire in seventeen places at the same moment, an' I'm to light two of them to me own self, and make a holycrust—ay, that's the word—o' Ireland's scorpions, to sting themselves to death in circling flame—"

"You would not do such a villanous thing?" cried we, both at once.

"Bedad! but I won't harm a hair o' their heads! Shure, we'll save the women and childer alive, and run for the fire-ingins our blessed selves, and then out with the pikes, and seize the Bank and the Tower—

 "An' av' I lives, I lives victhorious,
  An' av' I dies, my soul in glory is;
          Love fa—a—are—well!"