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THE SAME RESPECTED FRIEND IN MORE ASPECTS THAN ONE
In sooth, it is Riderhood and no other, or it is the outer husk and
shell of Riderhood and no other, that is borne into Miss Abbey's
first-floor bedroom. Supple to twist and turn as the Rogue has ever
been, he is sufficiently rigid now; and not without much shuffling
of attendant feet, and tilting of his bier this way and that way, and
peril even of his sliding off it and being tumbled in a heap over the
balustrades, can he be got up stairs.
'Fetch a doctor,' quoth Miss Abbey. And then, 'Fetch his daughter.'
On both of which errands, quick messengers depart.
The doctor-seeking messenger meets the doctor halfway, coming
under convoy of police. Doctor examines the dank carcase, and
pronounces, not hopefully, that it is worth while trying to
reanimate the same. All the best means are at once in action, and
everybody present lends a hand, and a heart and soul. No one has
the least regard for the man; with them all, he has been an object of
avoidance, suspicion, and aversion; but the spark of life within him
is curiously separable from himself now, and they have a deep
interest in it, probably because it IS life, and they are living and
In answer to the doctor's inquiry how did it happen, and was
anyone to blame, Tom Tootle gives in his verdict, unavoidable
accident and no one to blame but the sufferer. 'He was slinking
about in his boat,' says Tom, 'which slinking were, not to speak ill
of the dead, the manner of the man, when he come right athwart
the steamer's bows and she cut him in two.' Mr Tootle is so far
figurative, touching the dismemberment, as that he means the boat,
and not the man. For, the man lies whole before them.
Captain Joey, the bottle-nosed regular customer in the glazed hat,
is a pupil of the much-respected old school, and (having insinuated
himself into the chamber, in the execution of the impontant service
of carrying the drowned man's neck-kerchief) favours the doctor
with a sagacious old-scholastic suggestion that the body should be
hung up by the heels, 'sim'lar', says Captain Joey, 'to mutton in a
butcher's shop,' and should then, as a particularly choice
manoeuvre for promoting easy respiration, be rolled upon casks.
These scraps of the wisdom of the captain's ancestors are received
with such speechless indignation by Miss Abbey, that she instantly
seizes the Captain by the collar, and without a single word ejects
him, not presuming to remonstrate, from the scene.
There then remain, to assist the doctor and Tom, only those three
other regular customers, Bob Glamour, William Williams, and
Jonathan (family name of the latter, if any, unknown to man-kind),
who are quite enough. Miss Abbey having looked in to make sure
that nothing is wanted, descends to the bar, and there awaits the
result, with the gentle Jew and Miss Jenny Wren.
If you are not gone for good, Mr Riderhood, it would be something
to know where you are hiding at present. This flabby lump of
mortality that we work so hard at with such patient perseverance,
yields no sign of you. If you are gone for good, Rogue, it is very
solemn, and if you are coming back, it is hardly less so. Nay, in
the suspense and mystery of the latter question, involving that of
where you may be now, there is a solemnity even added to that of
death, making us who are in attendance alike afraid to look on you
and to look off you, and making those below start at the least
sound of a creaking plank in the floor.
Stay! Did that eyelid tremble? So the doctor, breathing low, and
closely watching, asks himself.
Did that nostril twitch?
This artificial respiration ceasing, do I feel any faint flutter under
my hand upon the chest?
Over and over again No. No. But try over and over again,
See! A token of life! An indubitable token of life! The spark may
smoulder and go out, or it may glow and expand, but see! The four
rough fellows, seeing, shed tears. Neither Riderhood in this world,
nor Riderhood in the other, could draw tears from them; but a
striving human soul between the two can do it easily.
He is struggling to come back. Now, he is almost here, now he is
far away again. Now he is struggling harder to get back. And yet-
-like us all, when we swoon--like us all, every day of our lives
when we wake--he is instinctively unwilling to be restored to the
consciousness of this existence, and would be left dormant, if he
Bob Gliddery returns with Pleasant Riderhood, who was out when
sought for, and hard to find. She has a shawl over her head, and
her first action, when she takes it off weeping, and curtseys to Miss
Abbey, is to wind her hair up.
'Thank you, Miss Abbey, for having father here.'
'I am bound to say, girl, I didn't know who it was,' returns Miss
Abbey; 'but I hope it would have been pretty much the same if I
Poor Pleasant, fortified with a sip of brandy, is ushered into the
first-floor chamber. She could not express much sentiment about
her father if she were called upon to pronounce his funeral oration,
but she has a greater tenderness for him than he ever had for her,
and crying bitterly when she sees him stretched unconscious, asks
the doctor, with clasped hands: 'Is there no hope, sir? O poor
father! Is poor father dead?'
To which the doctor, on one knee beside the body, busy and
watchful, only rejoins without looking round: 'Now, my girl, unless
you have the self-command to be perfectly quiet, I cannot allow
you to remain in the room.'
Pleasant, consequently, wipes her eyes with her back-hair, which is
in fresh need of being wound up, and having got it out of the way,
watches with terrified interest all that goes on. Her natural
woman's aptitude soon renders her able to give a little help.
Anticipating the doctor's want of this or that, she quietly has it
ready for him, and so by degrees is intrusted with the charge of
supporting her father's head upon her arm.
It is something so new to Pleasant to see her father an object of
sympathy and interest, to find any one very willing to tolerate his
society in this world, not to say pressingly and soothingly
entreating him to belong to it, that it gives her a sensation she
never experienced before. Some hazy idea that if affairs could
remain thus for a long time it would be a respectable change, floats
in her mind. Also some vague idea that the old evil is drowned out
of him, and that if he should happily come back to resume his
occupation of the empty form that lies upon the bed, his spirit will
be altered. In which state of mind she kisses the stony lips, and
quite believes that the impassive hand she chafes will revive a
tender hand, if it revive ever.
Sweet delusion for Pleasant Riderhood. But they minister to him
with such extraordinary interest, their anxiety is so keen, their
vigilance is so great, their excited joy grows so intense as the signs
of life strengthen, that how can she resist it, poor thing! And now
he begins to breathe naturally, and he stirs, and the doctor declares
him to have come back from that inexplicable journey where he
stopped on the dark road, and to be here.
Tom Tootle, who is nearest to the doctor when he says this, grasps
the doctor fervently by the hand. Bob Glamour, William Williams,
and Jonathan of the no surname, all shake hands with one another
round, and with the doctor too. Bob Glamour blows his nose, and
Jonathan of the no surname is moved to do likewise, but lacking a
pocket handkerchief abandons that outlet for his emotion. Pleasant
sheds tears deserving her own name, and her sweet delusion is at
There is intelligence in his eyes. He wants to ask a question. He
wonders where he is. Tell him.
'Father, you were run down on the river, and are at Miss Abbey
He stares at his daughter, stares all around him, closes his eyes,
and lies slumbering on her arm.
The short-lived delusion begins to fade. The low, bad,
unimpressible face is coming up from the depths of the river, or
what other depths, to the surface again. As he grows warm, the
doctor and the four men cool. As his lineaments soften with life,
their faces and their hearts harden to him.
'He will do now,' says the doctor, washing his hands, and looking
at the patient with growing disfavour.
'Many a better man,' moralizes Tom Tootle with a gloomy shake of
the head, 'ain't had his luck.'
'It's to be hoped he'll make a better use of his life,' says Bob
Glamour, 'than I expect he will.'
'Or than he done afore,' adds William Williams.
'But no, not he!' says Jonathan of the no surname, clinching the
They speak in a low tone because of his daughter, but she sees that
they have all drawn off, and that they stand in a group at the other
end of the room, shunning him. It would be too much to suspect
them of being sorry that he didn't die when he had done so much
towards it, but they clearly wish that they had had a better subject
to bestow their pains on. Intelligence is conveyed to Miss Abbey
in the bar, who reappears on the scene, and contemplates from a
distance, holding whispered discourse with the doctor. The spark
of life was deeply interesting while it was in abeyance, but now
that it has got established in Mr Riderhood, there appears to be a
general desire that circumstances had admitted of its being
developed in anybody else, rather than that gentleman.
'However,' says Miss Abbey, cheering them up, 'you have done
your duty like good and true men, and you had better come down
and take something at the expense of the Porters.'
This they all do, leaving the daughter watching the father. To
whom, in their absence, Bob Gliddery presents himself.
'His gills looks rum; don't they?' says Bob, after inspecting the
Pleasant faintly nods.
'His gills'll look rummer when he wakes; won't they?' says Bob.
Pleasant hopes not. Why?
'When he finds himself here, you know,' Bob explains. 'Cause
Miss Abbey forbid him the house and ordered him out of it. But
what you may call the Fates ordered him into it again. Which is
rumness; ain't it?'
'He wouldn't have come here of his own accord,' returns poor
Pleasant, with an effort at a little pride.
'No,' retorts Bob. 'Nor he wouldn't have been let in, if he had.'
The short delusion is quite dispelled now. As plainly as she sees
on her arm the old father, unimproved, Pleasant sees that
everybody there will cut him when he recovers consciousness. 'I'll
take him away ever so soon as I can,' thinks Pleasant with a sigh;
'he's best at home.'
Presently they all return, and wait for him to become conscious that
they will all be glad to get rid of him. Some clothes are got
together for him to wear, his own being saturated with water, and
his present dress being composed of blankets.
Becoming more and more uncomfortable, as though the prevalent
dislike were finding him out somewhere in his sleep and
expressing itself to him, the patient at last opens his eyes wide, and
is assisted by his daughter to sit up in bed.
'Well, Riderhood,' says the doctor, 'how do you feel?'
He replies gruffly, 'Nothing to boast on.' Having, in fact, returned
to life in an uncommonly sulky state.
'I don't mean to preach; but I hope,' says the doctor, gravely
shaking his head, 'that this escape may have a good effect upon
The patient's discontented growl of a reply is not intelligible; his
daughter, however, could interpret, if she would, that what he says
is, he 'don't want no Poll-Parroting'.
Mr Riderhood next demands his shirt; and draws it on over his
head (with his daughter's help) exactly as if he had just had a
'Warn't it a steamer?' he pauses to ask her.
'I'll have the law on her, bust her! and make her pay for it.'
He then buttons his linen very moodily, twice or thrice stopping to
examine his arms and hands, as if to see what punishment he has
received in the Fight. He then doggedly demands his other
garments, and slowly gets them on, with an appearance of great
malevolence towards his late opponent and all the spectators. He
has an impression that his nose is bleeding, and several times
draws the back of his hand across it, and looks for the result, in a
pugilistic manner, greatly strengthening that incongruous
'Where's my fur cap?' he asks in a surly voice, when he has
shuffled his clothes on.
'In the river,' somebody rejoins.
'And warn't there no honest man to pick it up? O' course there was
though, and to cut off with it arterwards. You are a rare lot, all on
Thus, Mr Riderhood: taking from the hands of his daughter, with
special ill-will, a lent cap, and grumbling as he pulls it down over
his ears. Then, getting on his unsteady legs, leaning heavily upon
her, and growling, 'Hold still, can't you? What! You must be a
staggering next, must you?' he takes his departure out of the ring in
which he has had that little turn-up with Death.
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