However rich the room, it was in great disorder; and when we went up-stairs we found matters no better—beds half stript, chests and cabinets left open, floors strewed with things pulled forth in haste and left there. We pitched on one sleeping-room to the back, to use ourselves; and, having satisfied ourselves that no evil-disposed person lay hid in any room, we shut them all up (the keys being left in the locks) except that sleeping-room, the parlour we had first entered, the kitchen, and one great room looking to the front, agreeing to use no other apartments; and to this rule we kept, except when, as I have told, I went a-hunting for means to write this history.
That work of examining the house was terrible to me, especially when we looked into Mr. Dacre’s own chamber. There we found a mighty rich bed, with hangings of silk and silver, and all the toilet furniture in silver also; with couches and cushions richly wrought, and certain splendid garments, with a jewelled sword, left flung upon them, as if the owner had just put them off; but all was disordered wildly, as if by the dying struggles of a madman, and the gorgeousness seemed to add to the horror of it. I trembled as I looked at the glimmering mirror and thought of what it might have reflected; our cousin’s image seemed to rise up in all his pride and bravery as I last saw him, but with the ghastly face of death; so I hurried out and flung the door to behind us, and Althea turned the key in the lock. After which we avoided passing that way; for the place was not less dreadful to her than to me; she acknowledged it made her remember what we had heard of the great burying-pit in Aldgate, and the dishonoured corpses that were flung into it, heaps upon heaps.
’He may have gone to that grave from this splendid chamber—it’s a hideous mockery,’ she said.
HOW WE DWELT IN A HOUSE THAT WAS NOT OUR OWN.
And now Althea began her search after Andrew, with none to help her but poor me and honest Will. Our chief care being not to be seen going out or coming in, she chose to steal forth of the back door early in the mornings; sometimes I with her, sometimes Will, but one of us always staying in the house to watch it, and to open at nightfall to the others. Althea went to such shops as she could find open and bought things, sometimes mere trifles, sometimes food and other necessaries, but always spending much time over it, and both listening to the talk of other folk, and drawing the shop-people into talk herself; when she contrived to work round to the prisons, and the poor souls in them, and how they fared in these bad times. Once or twice she took a boat and went up the river, and then was wondrous affable to the watermen, setting them talking also on the same matters; and thus she did with every one whom she could draw to speak with her, not disdaining even beggars, nor