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'Your wretched brother,' said Mr. Gradgrind. 'Do you think he had
planned this robbery, when he went with you to the lodging?'
'I fear so, father. I know he had wanted money very much, and had
spent a great deal.'
'The poor man being about to leave the town, it came into his evil
brain to cast suspicion on him?'
'I think it must have flashed upon him while he sat there, father.
For I asked him to go there with me. The visit did not originate
'He had some conversation with the poor man. Did he take him
'He took him out of the room. I asked him afterwards, why he had
done so, and he made a plausible excuse; but since last night,
father, and when I remember the circumstances by its light, I am
afraid I can imagine too truly what passed between them.'
'Let me know,' said her father, 'if your thoughts present your
guilty brother in the same dark view as mine.'
'I fear, father,' hesitated Louisa, 'that he must have made some
representation to Stephen Blackpool - perhaps in my name, perhaps
in his own - which induced him to do in good faith and honesty,
what he had never done before, and to wait about the Bank those two
or three nights before he left the town.'
'Too plain!' returned the father. 'Too plain!'
He shaded his face, and remained silent for some moments.
Recovering himself, he said:
'And now, how is he to be found? How is he to be saved from
justice? In the few hours that I can possibly allow to elapse
before I publish the truth, how is he to be found by us, and only
by us? Ten thousand pounds could not effect it.'
'Sissy has effected it, father.'
He raised his eyes to where she stood, like a good fairy in his
house, and said in a tone of softened gratitude and grateful
kindness, 'It is always you, my child!'
'We had our fears,' Sissy explained, glancing at Louisa, 'before
yesterday; and when I saw you brought to the side of the litter
last night, and heard what passed (being close to Rachael all the
time), I went to him when no one saw, and said to him, "Don't look
at me. See where your father is. Escape at once, for his sake and
your own!" He was in a tremble before I whispered to him, and he
started and trembled more then, and said, "Where can I go? I have
very little money, and I don't know who will hide me!" I thought
of father's old circus. I have not forgotten where Mr. Sleary goes
at this time of year, and I read of him in a paper only the other
day. I told him to hurry there, and tell his name, and ask Mr.
Sleary to hide him till I came. "I'll get to him before the
morning," he said. And I saw him shrink away among the people.'
'Thank Heaven!' exclaimed his father. 'He may be got abroad yet.'
It was the more hopeful as the town to which Sissy had directed him
was within three hours' journey of Liverpool, whence he could be
swiftly dispatched to any part of the world. But, caution being
necessary in communicating with him - for there was a greater
danger every moment of his being suspected now, and nobody could be
sure at heart but that Mr. Bounderby himself, in a bullying vein of
public zeal, might play a Roman part - it was consented that Sissy
and Louisa should repair to the place in question, by a circuitous
course, alone; and that the unhappy father, setting forth in an
opposite direction, should get round to the same bourne by another
and wider route. It was further agreed that he should not present
himself to Mr. Sleary, lest his intentions should be mistrusted, or
the intelligence of his arrival should cause his son to take flight
anew; but, that the communication should be left to Sissy and
Louisa to open; and that they should inform the cause of so much
misery and disgrace, of his father's being at hand and of the
purpose for which they had come. When these arrangements had been
well considered and were fully understood by all three, it was time
to begin to carry them into execution. Early in the afternoon, Mr.
Gradgrind walked direct from his own house into the country, to be
taken up on the line by which he was to travel; and at night the
remaining two set forth upon their different course, encouraged by
not seeing any face they knew.
The two travelled all night, except when they were left, for odd
numbers of minutes, at branch-places, up illimitable flights of
steps, or down wells - which was the only variety of those branches
- and, early in the morning, were turned out on a swamp, a mile or
two from the town they sought. From this dismal spot they were
rescued by a savage old postilion, who happened to be up early,
kicking a horse in a fly: and so were smuggled into the town by
all the back lanes where the pigs lived: which, although not a
magnificent or even savoury approach, was, as is usual in such
cases, the legitimate highway.
The first thing they saw on entering the town was the skeleton of
Sleary's Circus. The company had departed for another town more
than twenty miles off, and had opened there last night. The
connection between the two places was by a hilly turnpike-road, and
the travelling on that road was very slow. Though they took but a
hasty breakfast, and no rest (which it would have been in vain to
seek under such anxious circumstances), it was noon before they
began to find the bills of Sleary's Horse-riding on barns and
walls, and one o'clock when they stopped in the market-place.
A Grand Morning Performance by the Riders, commencing at that very
hour, was in course of announcement by the bellman as they set
their feet upon the stones of the street. Sissy recommended that,
to avoid making inquiries and attracting attention in the town,
they should present themselves to pay at the door. If Mr. Sleary
were taking the money, he would be sure to know her, and would
proceed with discretion. If he were not, he would be sure to see
them inside; and, knowing what he had done with the fugitive, would
proceed with discretion still.
Therefore, they repaired, with fluttering hearts, to the well-
remembered booth. The flag with the inscription SLEARY'S HORSE-
RIDING was there; and the Gothic niche was there; but Mr. Sleary
was not there. Master Kidderminster, grown too maturely turfy to
be received by the wildest credulity as Cupid any more, had yielded
to the invincible force of circumstances (and his beard), and, in
the capacity of a man who made himself generally useful, presided
on this occasion over the exchequer - having also a drum in
reserve, on which to expend his leisure moments and superfluous
forces. In the extreme sharpness of his look out for base coin,
Mr. Kidderminster, as at present situated, never saw anything but
money; so Sissy passed him unrecognised, and they went in.
The Emperor of Japan, on a steady old white horse stencilled with
black spots, was twirling five wash-hand basins at once, as it is
the favourite recreation of that monarch to do. Sissy, though well
acquainted with his Royal line, had no personal knowledge of the
present Emperor, and his reign was peaceful. Miss Josephine
Sleary, in her celebrated graceful Equestrian Tyrolean Flower Act,
was then announced by a new clown (who humorously said Cauliflower
Act), and Mr. Sleary appeared, leading her in.
Mr. Sleary had only made one cut at the Clown with his long whip-
lash, and the Clown had only said, 'If you do it again, I'll throw
the horse at you!' when Sissy was recognised both by father and
daughter. But they got through the Act with great self-possession;
and Mr. Sleary, saving for the first instant, conveyed no more
expression into his locomotive eye than into his fixed one. The
performance seemed a little long to Sissy and Louisa, particularly
when it stopped to afford the Clown an opportunity of telling Mr.
Sleary (who said 'Indeed, sir!' to all his observations in the
calmest way, and with his eye on the house) about two legs sitting
on three legs looking at one leg, when in came four legs, and laid
hold of one leg, and up got two legs, caught hold of three legs,
and threw 'em at four legs, who ran away with one leg. For,
although an ingenious Allegory relating to a butcher, a three-
legged stool, a dog, and a leg of mutton, this narrative consumed
time; and they were in great suspense. At last, however, little
fair-haired Josephine made her curtsey amid great applause; and the
Clown, left alone in the ring, had just warmed himself, and said,
'Now I'll have a turn!' when Sissy was touched on the shoulder, and
She took Louisa with her; and they were received by Mr. Sleary in a
very little private apartment, with canvas sides, a grass floor,
and a wooden ceiling all aslant, on which the box company stamped
their approbation, as if they were coming through. 'Thethilia,'
said Mr. Sleary, who had brandy and water at hand, 'it doth me good
to thee you. You wath alwayth a favourite with uth, and you've
done uth credith thinth the old timeth I'm thure. You mutht thee
our people, my dear, afore we thpeak of bithnith, or they'll break
their hearth - ethpethially the women. Here'th Jothphine hath been
and got married to E. W. B. Childerth, and thee hath got a boy, and
though he'th only three yearth old, he thtickth on to any pony you
can bring againtht him. He'th named The Little Wonder of
Thcolathtic Equitation; and if you don't hear of that boy at
Athley'th, you'll hear of him at Parith. And you recollect
Kidderminthter, that wath thought to be rather thweet upon
yourthelf? Well. He'th married too. Married a widder. Old
enough to be hith mother. Thee wath Tightrope, thee wath, and now
thee'th nothing - on accounth of fat. They've got two children,
tho we're thtrong in the Fairy bithnith and the Nurthery dodge. If
you wath to thee our Children in the Wood, with their father and
mother both a dyin' on a horthe - their uncle a retheiving of 'em
ath hith wardth, upon a horthe - themthelvth both a goin' a black-
berryin' on a horthe - and the Robinth a coming in to cover 'em
with leavth, upon a horthe - you'd thay it wath the completetht
thing ath ever you thet your eyeth on! And you remember Emma
Gordon, my dear, ath wath a'motht a mother to you? Of courthe you
do; I needn't athk. Well! Emma, thee lotht her huthband. He wath
throw'd a heavy back-fall off a Elephant in a thort of a Pagoda
thing ath the Thultan of the Indieth, and he never got the better
of it; and thee married a thecond time - married a Cheethemonger
ath fell in love with her from the front - and he'th a Overtheer
and makin' a fortun.'
These various changes, Mr. Sleary, very short of breath now,
related with great heartiness, and with a wonderful kind of
innocence, considering what a bleary and brandy-and-watery old
veteran he was. Afterwards he brought in Josephine, and E. W. B.
Childers (rather deeply lined in the jaws by daylight), and the
Little Wonder of Scholastic Equitation, and in a word, all the