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Chapter 53 (continued)
One other circumstance is worthy of remark; and that is, that from the moment of their first outbreak at Westminster, every symptom of order or preconcerted arrangement among them vanished. When they divided into parties and ran to different quarters of the town, it was on the spontaneous suggestion of the moment. Each party swelled as it went along, like rivers as they roll towards the sea; new leaders sprang up as they were wanted, disappeared when the necessity was over, and reappeared at the next crisis. Each tumult took shape and form from the circumstances of the moment; sober workmen, going home from their day's labour, were seen to cast down their baskets of tools and become rioters in an instant; mere boys on errands did the like. In a word, a moral plague ran through the city. The noise, and hurry, and excitement, had for hundreds and hundreds an attraction they had no firmness to resist. The contagion spread like a dread fever: an infectious madness, as yet not near its height, seized on new victims every hour, and society began to tremble at their ravings.
It was between two and three o'clock in the afternoon when Gashford looked into the lair described in the last chapter, and seeing only Barnaby and Dennis there, inquired for Hugh.
He was out, Barnaby told him; had gone out more than an hour ago; and had not yet returned.
'Dennis!' said the smiling secretary, in his smoothest voice, as he sat down cross-legged on a barrel, 'Dennis!'
The hangman struggled into a sitting posture directly, and with his eyes wide open, looked towards him.
'How do you do, Dennis?' said Gashford, nodding. 'I hope you have suffered no inconvenience from your late exertions, Dennis?'
'I always will say of you, Muster Gashford,' returned the hangman, staring at him, 'that that 'ere quiet way of yours might almost wake a dead man. It is,' he added, with a muttered oath--still staring at him in a thoughtful manner--'so awful sly!'
'So distinct, eh Dennis?'
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