He also took the knife that had been so ostentatiously fixed in his door, and carried it about him night and day, with a firm resolve to use it in self-defense, if necessary.
And now the plot thickened: the decent workmen in Cheetham's works were passive; they said nothing offensive, but had no longer the inclination, even if they had the power, to interfere and restrain the lower workmen from venting their envy and malice. Scarcely a day passed without growls and scowls. But Little went his way haughtily, and affected not to see, nor hear them.
However, one day, at dinner-time, he happened, unluckily, to be detained by Bayne in the yard, when the men came out: and two or three of the roughs took this opportunity and began on him at once, in the Dash Dialect, of course; they knew no other.
A great burly forger, whose red matted hair was powdered with coal- dust, and his face bloated with habitual intemperance, planted himself insolently before Henry, and said, in a very loud voice, "How many more trade meetings are we to have for one ---- knobstick?"
Henry replied, in a moment, "Is it my fault if your shilly-shallying committees can't say yes or no to L15? You'd say yes to it, wouldn't you, sooner than go to bed sober?"
This sally raised a loud laugh at the notorious drunkard's expense, and checked the storm, as a laugh generally does.
But men were gathering round, and a workman who had heard the raised voices, and divined the row, ran out of the works, with his apron full of blades, and his heart full of mischief. It was a grinder of a certain low type, peculiar to Hillsborough, but quite common there, where grinders are often the grandchildren of grinders. This degenerate face was more canine than human; sharp as a hatchet, and with forehead villainously low; hardly any chin; and--most characteristic trait of all--the eyes, pale in color, and tiny in size, appeared to have come close together, to consult, and then to have run back into the very skull, to get away from the sparks, which their owner, and his sire, and his grandsire, had been eternally creating.
This greyhound of a grinder flung down a lot of dull bluish blades, warm from the forge, upon a condemned grindstone that was lying in the yard; and they tinkled.