Chapters 51-54 Summary

Mr. and Mrs. Varden and Miggs wait up late, having heard of the renewed rioting after the defeat of Gordon’s petition. Simon Tappertit arrives home, drunk and with his clothes in tatters. He rejects all offers of help from Mr. Varden, but he brings out a notice from Lord George Gordon to the effect that the No-Popery crowd should respect this property. Mr. Varden is aghast at what Sim has done, especially when he speaks of striking members of Parliament. He suggests that they sneak Sim out of the house and down the Thames to Canterbury, where a cousin of Mrs. Varden’s might give him work. Sim rejects this proposal and announces that he is no longer an apprentice to Mr. Varden but to the cause. He runs from the house with Mr. Varden on his heels. Mr. Varden cannot keep up and returns home. He tears up the notice of protection, stating that he would be more willing to die on his doorstep than to be a part of this cause.

Dennis, Hugh, and Barnaby stay at the Boot during the riots. Simon Tappertit returns, thoroughly drunk as usual. Barnaby stands guard; he tries to maintain a level of cleanliness taught by his mother but resented by Dennis. Soon they rejoin the rioting. They vandalize the homes of Catholics and remove and burn all the furnishings, relics, and statues of Catholic churches. Gashford is not impressed and asks if they can burn a whole building instead of only bits of it. Hugh assures him that they have only begun and recommends that he watch the red skies on the following night.

On the King’s birthday, Gashford comes to discuss the riots with Barnaby and Dennis, who are soon joined by Hugh. Gashford informs them that the King in Council has offered a five-hundred-pound reward for information about anyone who has been involved in the destruction of the Catholic chapels. They are unfazed, and soon they go out to commence rioting once again. Gashford follows them, but he goes to Lord George’s house and watches the proceedings from the window. Later, he climbs out on the rooftop to see the red skies Hugh had promised.

John Willet is disgusted with Parkes, Daisy, and Cobb, who plan to go to London to see the riots for themselves. John refuses to go with them and remains at home. Not long after, John sees a mass of people marching toward the Maypole. It is the No-Popery crowd, led by Hugh; they have come to burn down the Warren. They loot the Maypole of its liquor and then tie John Willet up, though Dennis would like to hang him. They march off toward the Warren, where Emma and Dolly are still living, though Mr. Haredale is absent.