It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Part 10 out of 17
After rubbing her a little George said, "Jacky, I wish you would do it
for me, for my head do ache so I can't abide to hold it down and work,
After dinner they sat and looked at the sheep feeding. "No more dis,"
said Jacky gayly, imitating a sheep rubbing against a tree.
"No! I have won the day; but I haven't won it cheap. Jacky, that
fellow, Abner, was a bad man--an ungrateful man."
These words George spoke with a very singular tone of gravity.
"Never you. mind you about him."
"No! I must try to forgive him; we are all great sinners; is it cold
"No! it is a good deal hot
"I thought it must, for the wind is in a kindly quarter. Well, Jacky,
I am as cool as ice."
"Dat very curious."
"And my head do ache so I can hardly bear myself."
"You ill a little--soon be well."
"I doubt I shall be worse before I am better."
"Never you mind you. I go and bring something I know. We make it hot
with water, den you drink it; and after dat you a good deal better."
"Do, Jacky. I won't take doctor's stuff; it is dug out of the ground
and never was intended for man's inside. But you get me something that
grows in sight and I'll take that; and don't be long, Jacky--for I am
Jacky returned toward evening with a bundle of simples. He found
George shivering over a fire. He got the pot and began to prepare an
infusion. "Now you soon better," said he.
"I hope so, Jacky," said George very gravely, "thank you, all the
same. Jacky, I haven't been not to say dry for the last ten days with
me washing the sheep, and I have caught a terrible chill--a chill like
death; and, Jacky, I have tried too much--I have abused my strength. I
am a very strong man as men go, and so was my father; but he abused
his strength--and he was took just as I am took now, and in a week he
was dead. I have worked hard ever since I came here, but since Abner
left me at the pinch it hasn't been man's work, Jacky; it has been a
wrestling-match from dawn to dark. No man could go on so and not break
down; but I wanted so to save the poor sheep. Well, the sheep are
When Jacky's infusion was ready he made George take it and then lie
down. Unfortunately the attack was too violent to yield to this simple
remedy. Fever was upon George Fielding--fever in his giant shape; not
as he creeps over the weak, but as he rushes on the strong. George had
never a headache in his life before. Fever found him full of blood and
turned it all to fire. He tossed--he raged--and forty-eight hours
after his first seizure the strong man lay weak as a child, except
during those paroxysms of delirium which robbed him of his reason
while they lasted, and of his strength when they retired.
On the fourth day---after a raging paroxysm--he became suddenly calm,
and looking up saw Jacky seated at some little distance, his bright
eye fixed upon him.
"You better now?" inquired he, with even more than his usual
gentleness of tone. "You not talk stupid things any more?"
"What, Jacky, are you watching me?" said the sick man. "Now I call
that very kind of you. Jacky, I am not the man I was--we are cut down
in a day like the ripe grass. How long is it since I was took ill?"
"One, one, one, and one more day."
"Ay! Ay! My father lasted till the fifth day, and then--Jacky!"
"Here Jacky! what you want?"
"Go out on the hill and see whether any of the sheep are rubbing
Jacky went out and soon returned.
"Not see one rub himself."
A faint gleam lighted George's sunken eye. "That is a comfort. I hope
I shall be accepted not to have been a bad shepherd, for I may say 'I
have given my life for my sheep.' Poor things."
George dozed. Toward evening he awoke, and there was Jacky just where
he had seen him last. "I didn't think you had cared so much for me,
Jacky, my boy."
"Yes, care very much for you. See, um make beef-water for you a good
And sure enough he had boiled down about forty pounds of beef and
filled a huge calabash with the extract, which he set by George's
"And why are you so fond of me, Jacky? It isn't on account of my
saving your life, for you had forgotten that. What makes you such a
friend to me?"
"I tell you. Often I go to tell you before, but many words dat a good
deal trouble. One--when you make thunder the bird always die. One--you
take a sheep so and hold him up high. Um never see one more white
fellow able do dat. One--you make a stone go and hit thing; other
white fellow never hit. One--little horse come to you; other white
fellow go to horse--horse run away. Little horse run to you, dat
because you so good. One--Carlo fond of you. All day now he come in
and go out, and say so (imitating a dog's whimper). He so
uncomfortable because you lie down so. One--when you speak to Jacky
you not speak big like white fellow, you speak small and like a
fiddle--dat please Jacky's ear.
"One--when you look at Jacky always your face make like a hot day when
dere no rain--dat please Jacky's eye; and so when Jacky see you stand
up one day a good deal high and now lie down--dat makes him
uncomfortable; and when he see you red one day and white dis day--dat
make him uncomfortable a good deal; and when he see you so beautiful
one day and dis day so ugly--dat make him so uncomfortable, he afraid
you go away and speak no more good words to Jacky--and dat make Jacky
feel a thing inside here (touching his breast), no more can
breathe--and want to do like the gin, but don't know how. Oh, dear!
don't know how!"
"Poor Jacky! I do wish I had been kinder to you than I have. Oh, I am
very short of wind, and my back is very bad!"
"When black fellow bad in um back he always die," said Jacky very
"Ay," said George quietly. "Jacky, will you do one or two little
things for me now?"
"Yes, do um all."
"Give me that little book that I may read it. Thank you. Jacky, this
is the book of my religion; and it was given to me by one I love
better than all the world. I have disobeyed her--I have thought too
little of what is in this book and too much of this world's gain. God
forgive me! and I think He will, because it was for Susan's sake I was
so greedy of gain."
Jacky looked on awestruck as George read the book of his religion.
"Open the door, Jacky."
Jacky opened the door; then coming to George's side, he said with an
anxious, inquiring look and trembling voice, "Are you going to leave
"Yes, Jacky, my boy," said George, "I doubt I am going to leave you.
So now thank you and bless you for all kindness. Put your face close
down to mine-there--I don't care for your black skin--He who made mine
made yours; and I feel we are brothers, and you have been one to me.
Good-by, dear, and don't stay here. You can do nothing more for your
poor friend George."
Jacky gave a little moan. "Yes, um can do a little more before he go
and hide him face where there are a good deal of trees."
Then Jacky went almost on tiptoe, and fetched another calabash full of
water and placed it by George's head. Then he went very softly and
fetched the heavy iron which he had seen George use in penning sheep,
and laid it by George's side; next he went softly and brought George's
gun, and laid it gently by George's side down on the ground.
This done he turned to take his last look of the sick man now feebly
dozing, the little book in his drooping hand. But as he gazed nature
rushed over the poor savage's heart and took it quite by surprise.
Even while bending over his white brother to look his last farewell,
with a sudden start he turned his back on him, and sinking on his hams
he burst out crying and sobbing with a wild and terrible violence.
FOR near an hour Jacky sat upon the ground, his face averted from his
sick friend, and cried; then suddenly he rose, and without looking at
him went out at the door, and turning his face toward the great
forests that lay forty miles distant eastward, he ran all the night,
and long before dawn was hid in the pathless woods.
A white man feels that grief, when not selfish, is honorable, and
unconsciously he nurses such grief more or less; but to simple-minded
Jacky grief was merely a subtle pain, and to be got rid of as quickly
as possible, like any other pain.
He ran to the vast and distant woods, hoping to leave George's death a
long way behind him, and so not see what caused his pain so plain as
he saw it just now. It is to be observed that he looked upon George as
dead. The taking into his hand of the book of his religion, the kind
embrace, the request that the door might be opened, doubtless for the
disembodied spirit to pass out, all these rites were understood by
Jacky to imply that the last scene was at hand. Why witness it? it
would make him still more uncomfortable. Therefore he ran, and never
once looked back, and plunged into the impenetrable gloom of the
The white man had left Fielding to get a richer master. The
half-reasoning savage left him to cure his own grief at losing him.
There he lay abandoned in trouble and sickness by all his kind. But
one friend never stirred; a single-hearted, single-minded,
Who was this pure-minded friend? A dog.
Carlo loved George. They had lived together, they had sported
together, they had slept together side by side on the cold, hard deck
of the _Phoenix_, and often they had kept each other warm, sitting
crouched together behind a little bank or a fallen tree, with the wind
whistling and the rain shooting by their ears.
When day after day George came not out of the house, Carlo was very
uneasy. He used to patter in and out all day, and whimper pitifully,
and often he sat in the room where George lay and looked toward him
and whined. But now when his master was left quite alone his distress
and anxiety redoubled; he never went ten yards away from George. He
ran in and out moaning and whining, and at last he sat outside the
door and lifted up his voice and howled day and night continually. His
meaner instincts lay neglected; he ate nothing; his heart was bigger
than his belly; he would not leave his friend even to feed himself.
And still day and night without cease his passionate cry went up to
What passed in that single heart none can tell for certain but his
Creator; nor what was uttered in that deplorable cry; love, sorrow,
perplexity, dismay--all these perhaps, and something of prayer--for
still he lifted his sorrowful face toward heaven as he cried out in
sore perplexity, distress, and fear for his poor master--oh! o-o-o-h!
So we must leave awhile poor, honest, unlucky George, sick of a fever,
ten miles from the nearest hut.
Leather-heart has gone from him to be a rich man's hireling.
Shallow-heart has fled to the forest, and is hunting kangaroos with
all the inches of his soul.
Single-heart sits fasting from all but grief before the door, and
utters heartrending, lamentable cries to earth and heaven.
---- JAIL is still a grim and castellated mountain of masonry, but a
human heart beats and a human brain throbs inside it now.
Enter without fear of seeing children kill themselves, and bearded men
faint like women, or weep like children--horrible sights.
The prisoners no longer crouch and cower past the officers, nor the
officers look at them and speak to them as if they were dogs, as they
do in most of these places, and used to here.
Open this cell. A woman rises with a smile! why a smile? Because for
months an open door has generally let in what is always a great boon
to a separate prisoner--a human creature with a civil word. We
remember when an open door meant "way for a ruffian and a fool to
trample upon the solitary and sorrowful!"
What is this smiling personage doing? as I live she is watchmaking! A
woman watchmaking, with neat and taper fingers, and a glass at her eye
sometimes, but not always, for in vision as well as in sense of touch
and patience nature has been bounteous to her. She is one of four.
Eight, besides these four, were tried and found incapable of
excellence in this difficult craft. They were put to other things; for
permanent failures are not permitted in ---- Jail. The theory is that
every home can turn some sort of labor to profit.
Difficulties occur often. Impossibilities will bar the way now and
then; but there are so few real impossibilities. When a difficulty
arises, the three hundred industrious arts and crafts are freely
ransacked for a prisoner; ay!--ransacked as few rich men would be
bothered to sift the seven or eight liberal professions in order to
fit a beloved son.
Here, as in the world, the average of talent is low. The majority can
only learn easy things, and vulgar things, and some can do higher
things and a few can do beautiful things, and one or two have
developed first-rate gifts and powers.
There are 25 shoemakers (male); 12 tailors, of whom 6 female; 24
weavers, of whom 10 female; 4 watchmakers, all female; 6 printers and
composers, 5 female; 4 engrainers of wood, 2 female. (In this art we
have the first artist in Britain, our old acquaintance, Thomas
Robinson. He has passed all his competitors by a simple process.
Beautiful specimens of all the woods have been placed and kept before
him, and for a month he has been forced to imitate nature with his eye
never off her. His competitors in the world imitate nature from
memory, from convention, or from tradition. By such processes truth
and beauty are lost at each step down the ladder of routine. Mr. Eden
gave clever Tom at first starting the right end of the stick, instead
of letting him take the wrong.) Nine joiners and carpenters, 3 female;
3 who color prints downright well, 1 female; 2 painters, 1 female; 3
pupils shorthand writing, 1 female.
[Fancy these attending the Old Bailey and taking it all down solemn as
Workers in gutta-percha, modelers in clay, washers and getters-up of
linen, hoe-makers, spade-makers, rake-makers, woodcarvers,
stonecutters, bakers, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum. Come to the
hard-labor yard. Do you see those fifteen stables? there lurk in vain
the rusty cranks; condemned first as liars they fell soon after into
disrepute as weapons of half-science to degrade minds and bodies. They
lurk there grim as the used-up giants in "Pilgrim's Progress," and
like them can't catch a soul.
Hark to the music of the shuttle and the useful loom. We weave linen,
cotton, woolen, linsey-woolsey, and, not to be behind the rogues
outside, cottonsey-woolsey and cottonsey-silksey; damask we weave, and
a little silk and poplin, and Mary Baker velvet itself for a treat now
and then. We of the loom relieve the county of all expense in keeping
us, and enrich a fund for taking care of discharged industrious
prisoners until such time as they can soften prejudices and obtain
lucrative employment. The old plan was to kick a prisoner out and say:
"There, dog! go without a rap among those who will look on you as a
dog and make you starve or steal. We have taught you no labor but
crank, and as there are no cranks in the outside world, the world not
being such an idiot as we are, you must fill your belly by means of
the only other thing you have ever been taught--theft."
Now the officers take leave of a discharged prisoner in English.
Farewell; good-by!--a contraction for God be wi' ye--etc. It used to
be in French, Sans adieu! au revoir! and the like.
Having passed the merry, useful looms open this cell. A she-thief
looks up with an eye six times as mellow as when we were here last.
She is busy gilding. See with what an adroit and delicate touch the
jade slips the long square knife under the gossamer gold-leaf which
she has blown gently out of the book--and turns it over; and now she
breathes gently and vertically on the exact center of it, and the
fragile yet rebellious leaf that has rolled itself up like a hedgehog
is flattened by that human zephyr on the little leathern easel. Now
she cuts it in three with vertical blade; now she takes her long flat
brush and applies it to her own hair once or twice; strange to say the
camel-hair takes from this contact a soupcon of some very slight and
delicate animal oil, which enables the brush to take up the gold-leaf,
and the artist lays a square of gold in its place on the plaster bull
she is gilding. Said bull was cast in the prison by another female
prisoner who at this moment is preparing a green artificial meadow for
the animal to stand in. These two girls had failed at the watchmaking.
They had sight and the fine sensation of touch required, but they
lacked the caution, patience and judgment so severe an art demanded;
so their talents were directed elsewhere. This one is a first-rate
gilder, she mistressed it entirely in three days.
The last thing they did in this way was an elephant. Cost of casting
him, reckoning labor and the percentage he ought to pay to the mold,
was 1s. 4d. Plaster, chrome, water-size and oil-size, 3d.; goldleaf,
3s.; 1 foot of German velvet, 4d.; thread, needles and wear of tools,
1d.; total, 5s.
Said gold elephant standing on a purple cushion was subjected to a
severe test of his value. He was sent to a low auction room in London.
There he fell to the trade at 18s. This was a "knock-out" transaction;
twelve buyers had agreed not to bid against one another in the auction
room, a conspiracy illegal but customary. The same afternoon these
twelve held one of their little private unlawful auctions over him;
here the bidding was like drops of blood oozing from flints, but at
least it was bona-fide, and he rose to 25s. The seven shillings
premium was divided among the eleven sharpers. Sharper No. 12 carried
him home and sold him the very next day for 37s. to a lady who lived
in Belgravia, but shopped in filthy alleys, misled perhaps by the
phrase "dirt cheap."
Mr. Eden conceived him, two detected ones made him at a cost of 5s.,
twelve undetected ones caught him first for 18s., and now he stands in
Belgravia, and the fair ejaculate over him, "What a duck!"
The aggregate of labor to make and gild this elephant was not quite
one woman's work (12 hours). Taking 18s. as the true value of the
work, for in this world the workman has commonly to sell his
production under the above disadvantages, forced sale and the
conspiracies of the unimprisoned--we have still 13s. for a day's work
by a woman.
From the bull greater things are expected. The cast is from the bull
of the Vatican, a bull true to Nature, and Nature adorned the very
meadows when she produced the bull. What a magnificent animal is a
bull! what a dewlap! what a front! what clean pasterns! what fearless
eyes! what a deep diapason is his voice! of which beholding this his
true and massive effigy in ---- Jail we are reminded. When he stands
muscular, majestic, sonorous, gold, in his meadow pied with daisies,
it shall not be "sweet" and "love" and "duck"--words of beauty but no
earthly signification; it shall be, "There, I forgive Europa."
And need I say there were more aimed at in all this than pecuniary
profit. Mr. Eden held that the love of production is the natural
specific antidote to the love of stealing. He kindled in his prisoners
the love of producing, of what some by an abuse of language call
"creating." And the producers rose in the scale of human beings. Their
faces showed it--the untamed look melted away--the white of the eye
showed less, and the pupil and iris more, and better quality.
Gold-leaf when first laid on adheres in visible squares with uncouth
edges, a ragged affair; then the gilder takes a camelhair brush and
under its light and rapid touch the work changes as under a diviner's
rod, so rapidly and majestically come beauty and finish over it.
Perhaps no other art has so delicious a one minute as this is to the
gilder. The first work our prisoner gilded she screamed with delight
several times at this crisis. She begged to have the work left in her
cell one day at least. "It lights up the cell and lights up my heart."
"Of course it does," said Mr. Eden. "Aha! what, there are greater
pleasures in the world than sinning, are there?"
"That there are. I never was so pleased in my life. May I have it a
"My child, you shall have it till its place is taken by others like
it. Keep it before your eyes, feed on it, and ask yourself which is
the best, to work and add something useful or beautiful to the world's
material wealth, or to steal; to be a little benefactor to your kind
and yourself, or a little vermin preying on the industrious. Which is
"I'll never take while I can make."
This is, of course, but a single specimen out of scores. To follow Mr.
Eden from cell to cell, from mind to mind, from sex to sex, would take
volumes and volumes. I only profess to reveal fragments of such a man.
He never hoped from the mere separate cell the wonders that dreamers
hope. It was essential to the reform of prisoners that moral contagion
should be checkmated, and the cell was the mode adopted, because it is
the laziest, cheapest, selfishest and cruelest way of doing this. That
no discretion was allowed him to let the converted or the
well-disposed mix and sympathize, and compare notes, and confirm each
other in good under a watchful officer's eye; this he thought a
frightful blunder of the system.
Generally he held the good effect of separate confinement to be merely
negative; he laughed to scorn the chimera that solitude is an active
agent, capable of converting a rogue. Shut a rogue from rogues and let
honest men in upon him--the honest men get a good chance to convert
him, but if they do succeed it was not solitude that converted him but
healing contact. The moments that most good comes to him are the
moments his solitude is broken.
He used to say solitude will cow a rogue and suspend his overt acts of
theft by force, and so make him to a non-reflector seem no longer a
thief; but the notion of the cell effecting permanent cures might
honestly be worded thus: "I am a lazy self-deceiver, and want to do by
machinery and without personal fatigue what St. Paul could only do by
working with all his heart, with all his time, with all his wit, with
all his soul, with all his strength and with all himself." Or thus:
"Confine the leopards in separate cages, Jock; _the cages_ will
take their spots out while ye're sleeping."
Generally this was Mr. Eden's theory of the cell--a check to further
contamination, but no more. He even saw in the cell much positive ill
which he set himself to qualify.
"Separate confinement breeds monstrous egotism," said he, "and egotism
hardens the heart. You can't make any man good if you never let him
say a kind word or do an unselfish action to a fellow-creature. Man is
an acting animal. His real moral character all lies in his actions,
and none of it in his dreams or cogitations. Moral stagnation or
cessation of all bad acts and of all good acts is a state on the
borders of every vice and a million miles from virtue."
His reverence attacked the petrifaction and egotism of the separate
cell as far as the shallow system of this prison let him. First, he
encouraged prisoners to write their lives for the use of the prison;
these were weeded, if necessary (the editor was strong-minded and did
not weed out the re-poppies); printed and circulated in the jail. The
writer's number was printed at the foot if he pleased, but never his
name. Biography begot a world of sympathy in the prison. Second, he
talked to one prisoner acquainted with another prisoner's character,
talked about No. 80 to No. 60, and would sometimes say: "Now could you
give No. 60 any good advice on this point?"
Then if 80's advice was good he would carry it to 60, and 60 would
think all the more of it that it came from one of his fellows.
Then in matters of art he would carry the difficulties of a beginner
or a bungler to a proficient, and the latter would help the former.
The pleasure of being kind on one side, a touch of gratitude on the
other, seeds of interest and sympathy in both. Then such as had
produced pretty things were encouraged to lend them to other cells to
adorn them and stimulate the occupants.
For instance, No. 140, who gilded the bull, was reminded that No. 120,
who had cast him, had never had the pleasure of setting him on her
table in her gloomy cell and so raising its look from dungeon to
workshop. Then No. 140 said, "Poor No. 120! that is not fair; she
shall have him half the day or more if you like, sir."
Thus a grain of self-denial, justice and charity was often drawn into
the heart of a cell through the very keyhole.
No. 19, Robinson, did many a little friendly office for other figures,
received their thanks, and, above all, obliging these figures warmed
and softened his own heart.
You might hear such dialogues as this:
No. 24. "And how is poor old No. 50 to-day (Strutt)?"
Mr. Eden. "Much the same."
No. 24. "Do you think you will bring him round, sir?"
Mr. Eden. "I have great hopes; he is much improved since he had the
garden and the violin."
No. 24. "Will you give him my compliments, sir? No. 24's compliments
and tell him I bid him 'never say die'?"
Mr. Eden. "Well, ----, how are you this morning?"
"I am a little better, sir. This room (the infirmary) is so sweet and
airy, and they give me precious nice things to eat and drink."
"Are the nurses kind to you?"
"That, they are, sir, kinder than I deserve."
"I have a message for you from No. -- on your corridor."
"No! have you, sir?"
"He sends his best wishes for your recovery."
"Now that is very good of him."
"And he would be very glad to hear from yourself how you feel."
"Well, sir, you tell him I am a trifle better, and God bless him for
troubling his head about me."
In short, his reverence reversed the Hawes system. Under that a
prisoner was divested of humanity and became a number and when he fell
sick the sentiment created was, "The figure written on the floor of
that cell looks faint." When he died or was murdered, "There is such
and such a figure rubbed off our slate."
Mr. Eden made these figures signify flesh and blood, even to those who
never saw their human faces. When he had softened a prisoner's heart
then he laid the deeper truths of Christianity to that heart. They
would not adhere to ice or stone or brass. He knew that till he had
taught a man to love his brother whom he had seen he could never make
him love God whom he has not seen. To vary the metaphor, his plan was,
first warm and soften your wax then begin to shape it after Heaven's
pattern. The old-fashioned way is freeze, petrify and mold your wax by
a single process. Not that he was mawkish. No man rebuked sin more
terribly than he often rebuked it in many of these cells; and when he
did so see what he gained by the personal kindness that preceded these
terrible rebukes! The rogue said: "What! is it so bad that his
reverence, who I know has a regard for me, rebukes me for it like
this?--why, it must be bad indeed!"
A loving friend's rebuke is a rebuke--sinks into the heart and
convinces the judgment; an enemy's or stranger's rebuke is invective
and irritates--not converts. The great vice of the new prisons is
general self-deception varied by downright calculating hypocrisy. A
shallow zealot like Mr. Lepel is sure to drive the prisoners into one
or other of these. It was Mr. Eden's struggle to keep them out of it.
He froze cant in the bud. Puritanical burglars tried Scriptural
phrases on him as a matter of course, but they soon found it was the
very worse lay they could get upon in ---- Jail. The notion that a man
can jump from the depths of vice up to the climax of righteous habits,
spiritual-mindedness, at one leap, shocked his sense and terrified him
for the daring dogs that profess these saltatory powers and the geese
that believe it. He said to such: "Let me see you crawl heavenward
first, then walk heavenward; it will be time enough to soar when you
have lived soberly, honestly, piously a year or two--not here, where
you are tied hands, feet and tongue, but free among the world's
temptations." He had no blind confidence in learned-by-heart texts.
"Many a scoundrel has a good memory," said he.
Here he was quite opposed to his friend Lepel. This gentleman
attributed a sort of physical virtue to Holy Writ poured anyhow into a
human vessel. His plan of making a thief honest will appear incredible
to a more enlightened age; yet it is widely accepted now and its
advocates call Mr. Eden a dreamer. It was this: He came into a cell
cold and stern and set the rogues a lot of texts. Those that learned a
great many he called good prisoners, and those that learned few--black
sheep; and the prisoners soon found out that their life, bitter as it
was, would be bitterer if they did not look sharp and learn a good
many texts. So they learned lots--and the slyest scoundrels learned
the most. "Why not?" said they, "in these cursed holes we have nothing
better to do; and it is the only way to get the parson's good word,
and that is always worth having in jail."
One rogue on getting out explained his knowledge of five hundred texts
thus: "What did it hurt me learning texts? I'd just as lieve be
learning texts as turning a crank, and as soon be d--d as either."
This fellow had been one of Mr. Lepel's sucking saints--a show
prisoner. The Bible and brute force--how odd they sound together! Yet
such was the Lepel system, humbug apart. Put a thief in a press
between an Old Testament and a New Testament. Turn the screw, crush
the texts in, and the rogue's vices out! Conversion made easy! What a
wonder he opposes cunning cloaked with religion to brutality cloaked
under religion. Ay, brutality, and laziness, and selfishness, all
these are the true foundation of that system. Selfishness--for such a
man won't do anything he does not like. No! "Why should I make myself
'all things to all men' to save a soul? I will save them this one way
or none--this is my way and they shall all come to it," says the
reverend Procrustes, forgetting that if the heart is not won in vain
is the will crushed; or perhaps not caring so that he gets his own
To work on Mr. Eden's plan is a herculean effort day by day repeated;
but to set texts is easy, easier even than to learn them--and how easy
that is appears from the multitude of incurable felons who have
swapped texts for tickets-of-leave. Messieurs Lepel, who teach
solitary depressed sinners the Bible with screw and lifted lash and no
love nor pity, a word in your ear. Begin a step higher. Go first to
some charitable priest and at his feet learn that Bible yourselves!
Forgive my heat, dear reader. I am not an Eden, and these fellows rile
me when I think of the good they might do, and they do nothing but
force hypocrisy upon men who were bad enough without that. I allow a
certain latitude; don't want to swim in hot water by quarreling with
every madman or every dunce, but I do doubt any man's right to combine
contradictory vices. Now these worthies are stupid yet wild,
thick-headed yet delirious--tortoises and March hares.
My sketch of Mr. Eden and his ways is feeble and unworthy. But I
conclude it with one master-stroke of eulogy--He was the opposite of
WE left Thomas Robinson writing his life. He has written it. It has
been printed by prisoners and circulated among prisoners. One copy lay
in Robinson's cell till he left the prison, and to this copy were
appended Mr. Eden's remarks in MS.
This autobiography is a self-drawn portrait of a true Bohemian and his
mind from boyhood up to the date when he fell into my hands.
Unfortunately we cannot afford so late in our story to make any
retrograde step. The "Autobiography of a Thief" must therefore be
thrust into my Appendix or printed elsewhere.
The reader has seen Robinson turned into a fiend by cruelty and turned
back to a man by humanity.
On this followed many sacred, softening, improving lessons, and as he
loved Mr. Eden his heart was open to them.
Most prisoners are very sensible of genuine kindness, and docile as
wax in the hands of those who show it. They are the easiest class in
the world to impress. The difficulty is to make the impression
permanent. But the people who pretend to you that kindness does not
greatly affect, persuade and help convince them HAVE NEVER TRIED
ANYTHING BUT BRUTALITY, and never will; for nothing greater, wiser or
better is in them.
I will now indicate the other phases through which his mind passed in
Being shown that his crimes were virtually the cause of Mary's hapless
life and untimely death, and hard pressed by his father confessor, he
fell into religious despondency; believed his case desperate, and his
sins too many for Heaven's mercy.
Of all states of mind this was the one Mr. Eden most dreaded. He had
observed that the notion that they cannot be reconciled to God and man
is the cause of prisoners' recklessness, and one great means by which
jail officers and society, England A.D. 185--, confirm them in ill.
He soothed and cheered the poor fellow with many a hopeful message
from the gospel of mercy and soon drew him out of the Slough of
Despond; but he drew him out with so eager an arm that up went this
impressionable personage from despond to the fifth heaven. He was
penitent, forgiven, justified, sanctified, all in three weeks.
Moreover, he now fell into a certain foul habit. Of course Scripture
formed a portion of his daily reading and discourse with the chaplain.
Robinson had a memory that seized and kept everything like a vise, so
now a text occurred to him for every occasion, and he interwove them
with all his talk. Your shallow observers would have said, "What a
Not a hypocrite, oh Criticaster, but a chameleon! who had been months
out of the atmosphere of vice and in an atmosphere of religion.
His reverence broke him of this nasty habit of chattering Bible, and
generally cooled him down. Finally he became sober, penitent for his
past life, and firmly resolved to lead a better. With this began to
mingle ambition to rise very high in the world, and a violent
impatience to begin.
Through all these phases ran one excellent and saving thing, a genuine
attachment to his good friend the chaplain. The attachment was
reciprocal, and there was something touching in the friendship of two
men so different in mind and worldly station. But they had suffered
together. And indeed a much more depraved prisoner than Robinson would
have loved such a benefactor and brother as Eden; and many a scoundrel
in this place did love him as well as he could love anything; and as
to the other, the clew to him is simple. While the vulgar
self-deceiving moralist loathes the detected criminal, and never
(whatever he may think) really rises to abhorrence of crime, the saint
makes two steps upward toward the mind of Heaven itself, abhors crime,
and loves, pities, and will not despair of the criminal.
But besides this Robinson was an engaging fellow, full of thought and
full of facts, and the Rev. Francis Tender-Conscience often spent an
extra five minutes in his cell and then reproached himself for letting
the more interesting personage rob other depressed and thirsty souls
of those drops of dew.
One day Mr. Eden, who had just entered the cell, said to Robinson,
"Give me your hand. It is as I feared, your nerves are going."
"Are they?" said Robinson ruefully.
"Do you not observe that you are becoming tremulous?"
"I notice that when my door is opened suddenly it makes me shake a
little and twitches come in my thigh."
"I feared as much. It is not every man that can bear separate
confinement for twelve months. You cannot."
"I shall have to, whether I can or not."
Three days after this Mr. Eden came into his cell and said with a sad
smile, "I have good news for you; you are going to leave me.
"Oh, your reverence! is that good news?"
"Those who have the disposal of you are beginning to see that all
punishment (except hanging) is for the welfare of the culprit, and
must never be allowed to injure him. Strutt left the prison for my
house a fortnight ago, and you are to cross the water next week."
"Oh, your reverence! Heaven forgive me for feeling glad."
"For being human, eh, my poor fellow?"
In the course of this conversation Mr. Eden frankly regretted that
Robinson was going so soon. "Four months more prison would have made
you safer, and I would have kept you here till the last minute of your
sentence for the good of your soul," said he grimly; "but your body
and nerves might have suffered," added he tenderly; "we must do all
for the best."
A light burst on Robinson. "Why, your reverence," cried he, "is it for
fear? Why you don't ever think that I shall turn rogue again after I
get out of prison?"
"You are going among a thousand temptations."
"What! do you really think all your kindness has been wasted on me?
Why, sir, if a thousand pounds lay there I would not stretch out my
hand to take one that did not belong to me. How ungrateful you must
think me, and what a fool into the bargain after all my experience!"
"Ungrateful you are not, but you are naturally a fool--a weak,
flexible fool. A man with a tenth of your gifts would lead you by the
nose into temptation. But I warn you if you fall now conscience will
prick you as it never yet has; you will be miserable, and yet though
miserable perhaps will never rise again, for remorse is not
Robinson was so hurt at this want of confidence that he said nothing
in reply, and then Mr. Eden felt sorry he had said so much, "for,
after all," thought he, "these are mere misgivings; by uttering them I
only pain him. I can't make him share them. Let me think what I can
That very day he wrote to Susan Merton. The letter contained the
following: "Thomas Robinson goes to Australia next week. He will get a
ticket-of-leave almost immediately on landing. I am in great anxiety;
he is full of good resolves, but his nature is unstable, yet I should
not fear to trust him anywhere if I could but choose his associates.
In this difficulty I have thought of George Fielding. You know I can
read characters, and though you never summed George up to me, his
sayings and doings reveal him to me. He is a man in whom honesty is
engrained. Poor Robinson with such a companion would be as honest as
the day, and a useful friend, for he is full of resources. Then, dear
friend, will you do a Christian act and come to our aid. I want you to
write a note to Mr. Fielding and let this poor fellow take it to him.
Armed with this my convert will not be shy of approaching the honest
man, and the exile will not hate me for this trick--will he? I send
you inclosed the poor clever fool's life written by himself and
printed by my girls. Read it and tell me are we wrong in making every
effort to save such a man?" etc.
By return of post came a reply from Susan Merton, full of pity for
Robinson and affectionate zeal to co-operate in any way with her
friend. Inclosed was a letter addressed to George Fielding, the
envelope not closed. Mr. Eden slipped in a banknote and a very small
envelope and closed it, placed it in a larger envelope, sealed that
and copied the first address on its cover.
He now gave Robinson more of his time than ever and seemed to cling to
him with almost a motherly apprehension. Robinson noticed it and felt
it very, very much, and his joy at getting out of prison oozed away
more and more as the day drew near.
That day came at last. Robinson was taken by Evans to the chaplain's
room to bid him farewell. He found him walking about the room in deep
thought. "Robinson, when you are thousands of miles from me bear this
in mind, that if you fall again you will break my heart."
"I know it, sir; I know it; for you would say, 'If I could not save
him who can I hope to?'"
"You would not like to break my heart--to discourage your friend and
brother in the good work, the difficult work?"
"I would rather die; if it is to be so I pray Heaven to strike me dead
in this room while I am fit to die!"
"Don't say that; live to repair your crimes and to make me prouder of
you than a mother of her first-born." He paused and walked the room in
silence. Presently he stopped in front of Robinson. "You have often
said you owed me something."
"My life and my soul's salvation," was the instant reply.
"I ask a return; square the account with me."
"That I can never do."
"You can! I will take two favors in return for all you say I have done
for you. No idle words--but yes or no upon your honor. Will you grant
them or won't you?"
"I will, upon my honor."
"One is that you will pray very often, not only morning and evening,
but at sunset, at that dangerous hour to you when evil association
begins; at that hour honest men retire out of sight and rogues come
abroad like vermin and wild beasts; but most of all at any hour of the
day or night a temptation comes near you, at that moment pray! Don't
wait to see how strong the temptation is, and whether you can't
conquer it without help from above. At the sight of an enemy put on
heavenly armor--pray! No need to kneel or to go apart. Two words
secretly cast heavenward, 'Lord, help me,' are prayer. Will you so
"Then give me your hand; here is a plain gold ring to recall this
sacred promise; put it on, wear it, and look at it, and never lose it
or forget your promise."
"Them that take it must cut my hand off with it."
"Enough, it is a promise. My second request is that the moment you are
free you will go and stay with an honest man."
"I ask no better, sir, if he will have me."
"George Fielding; he has a farm near Bathurst."
"George Fielding, sir? He affronted me when I was in trouble. It was
no more than I deserved. I forgive him; but you don't know the lad,
sir. He would not speak to me; he would not look at me. He would turn
his back on me if we ran against one another in a wilderness."
"Here is a talisman that will insure you a welcome from him--a letter
from the woman he loves. Come, yes or no?"
"I will, sir, for your sake, not for theirs. Sir, do pray give me
something harder to do for you than these two things!"
"No, I won't overweight you--nor encumber your memory with pledges--
these two and no more. And here we part. See what it is to sin against
society. I, whom your conversation has so interested, to whom your
company is so agreeable--in one word, I, who love you, can find no
kinder word to say to you to-day than this--let me never see your face
again--let me never hear your name in this world!"
His voice trembled as he said these words--and he wrung Robinson's
hand, and Robinson groaned and turned away.
"So now I can do no more for you--I must leave the rest to God." And
with these words, for the second time in their acquaintance, the good
soul kneeled down and prayed aloud for this man. And this time he
prayed at length with ardor and tenderness unspeakable. He prayed as
for a brother on the brink of a precipice. He wrestled with Heaven;
and ere he concluded he heard a subdued sound near him, and it was
poor Robinson, who, touched and penetrated by such angelic love, and
awestruck to hear a good man pour out his very soul at the mercy-seat
of Heaven, had crept timidly to his side and knelt there, bearing his
mute part in this fervent supplication.
As Mr. Eden rose from his knees Evans knocked gently at the door. He
had been waiting some minutes, but had heard the voice of prayer and
reverently forbore to interrupt it. At his knock the priest and the
thief started. The priest suddenly held out both his hands; the thief
bowed his head and kissed them many times, and on this they parted
hastily with swelling hearts and not another word--except the
thousands that their moist eyes exchanged in one single look--the
THE ship was to sail in a week, and meantime Robinson was in the hulks
at Portsmouth. Now the hulks are a disgrace to Europe, and a most
incongruous appendage to a system that professes to cure by separate
confinement. One or two of the worst convicts made the usual overtures
of evil companionship to Robinson. These were coldly declined; and it
was a good sign that Robinson, being permitted by the regulations to
write one letter, did not write to any of his old pals in London or
elsewhere, but to Mr. Eden. He told him that he regretted his quiet
cell where his ears were never invaded with blasphemy and indecency,
things he never took pleasure in even at his worst--and missed his
reverence's talk sadly. He concluded by asking for some good books by
way of antidote.
He received no answer while at Portsmouth, but the vessel having
sailed and lying two days off Plymouth, his name was called just
before she weighed again and a thick letter handed to him. He opened
it eagerly and two things fell on deck--a sovereign and a tract. The
sovereign rolled off and made for the sea. Robinson darted after it
and saved it from the deep and the surrounding rogues. Then he read a
letter which was also in the inclosure. It was short. In it Mr. Eden
told him he had sent him the last tract printed in the prison. "It is
called 'The Wages of Sin are Death.' It is not the same one you made
into cards; that being out of print and the author dead I have been
tempted by that good, true title to write another. I think you will
value it none the less for being written by me and printed by our
brothers and sisters in this place. I inclose one pound that you may
not be tempted for want of a shilling."
Robinson looked round for the tract; it was not to be seen; nobody had
seen it. N. B. It had been through a dozen light-fingered hands
already and was now being laughed at and blasphemed over by two filthy
ruffians behind a barrel on the lower deck. Robinson was first in a
fury and then, when he found it was really stolen from him, he was
very much cut up. "I wish I had lifted it and let the money roll."
However, thought he, "if I keep quiet I shall hear of it."
He did hear of it, but he never saw it; for one of these hardened
creatures that had got hold of it had a spite against Robinson for
refusing his proffered amity, and the malicious dog, after keeping it
several hours, hearing Robinson threaten to inform against whoever had
taken it, made himself safe and gratified his spite by flinging it
into the Channel.
This, too, came in due course to Robinson's ears. He moralized on it.
"I made the first into the devil's books," said he, "and now a child
of the devil has robbed me of the second. I shan't get a third chance.
I would give my sovereign and more to see what his reverence says
about 'The wages of sin are death.' The very title is a sermon. I pray
Heaven the dirty hand that robbed me of it may rot off at the--no! I
forgot. Bless and curse not!"
And now Robinson was confined for five months in a wooden prison with
the scum of our jails. No cell to take refuge in from evil society.
And in that wretched five months this perpetual contact with
criminals, many of them all but incurable, took the gloss off him. His
good resolutions were unshaken, but his repugnance to evil associates
became gradually worn away.
At last they landed at Sydney. They were employed for about a
fortnight in some government works, a mile from the town; and at the
end of that time he was picked out by a gentleman who wanted a
Robinson's work was to call him not too early, to clean his boots, go
on errands into the town, and be always in the way till five o'clock.
From that hour until about two in the morning Mr. Miles devoted to
amusement, returning with his latch key, and often rousing the night
owl and his servant with a bacchanalian or Anacreontic melody. In
short, Mr. Miles was a loose fish; a bachelor who had recently
inherited the fortune of an old screw his uncle, and was spending
thrift in all the traditional modes. Horses, dogs, women, cards, etc.
He was a good-natured creature, and one morning as he brought him up
his hot water and his soda-water Robinson ventured on a friendly
Mr. Miles flung canting rogue and half a dozen oaths and one boot at
his head, and was preparing to add a tumbler, when his mentor whipped
into the lobby. Robinson could not have fallen to a worse master than
this, whose irregularities were so regular that his servant had always
seven hours to spend in the town as he pleased. There he was often
solicited to join in depredations on property. For he found half his
old acquaintances were collected by the magic of the law on this spot
Robinson took a particular pride in telling these gentlemen that he
had no objection to taking a friendly glass with them and talking over
old times, but that as for taking what did not belong to him all that
was over forever. In short, he improved on Mr. Eden's instructions.
Instead of flying from temptation, like a coward conscious of
weakness, he nobly faced it and walked cool, collected and safe on the
edge of danger.
One good result of this was that he spent his wages every month faster
than he got them, and spent the clothes his master gave him, and these
were worth more than his wages, for Mr. Miles was going the pace--wore
nothing after the gloss was off it. But Robinson had never lived out
of prison at less than five hundred per annum, and the evening is a
good time in the day for spending money in a town, and his evenings
were all his own.
One evening a young tradeswoman with whom he was flirting in the
character of a merchant's clerk, tremendously busy, who could only get
out in the evening; this young woman, whom he had often solicited to
go to the theater, consented.
"I could go with you to-morrow, my sister and I," said she.
Robinson expressed his delight, but consulting his pockets found he
had not the means of paying for their seats, and he could not pawn any
clothes, for he had but two sets. One (yellowish) that government
compelled him to wear by daylight, and one a present from his master
(black). That, together with a mustache, admitted him into the bosom
of society at night. What was to be done? Propose to the ladies to
pay, that was quite without precedent. Ask his master for an advance,
impossible. His master was gone kangaroo hunting for three days.
Borrow some of his master's clothes and pawn them, that was too like
theft. He would pawn his ring, it would only be for a day or two, and
he would not spend a farthing more till he had got it back.
He pawned Mr. Eden's ring; it just paid for their places at the
theater, where they saw the living puppets of the colony mop and mow
and rant under the title of acting. This was so interesting that
Robinson was thinking of his ring the whole time, and how to get it
back. The girls agreed between themselves they had never enjoyed so
dull a cavalier.
The next day a line from Mr. Miles to say that he should not be back
for a week. No hope of funds from him. So Robinson pawned his black
coat and got back his ring; and as the trousers and waistcoat were no
use now, he pawned them for pocket-money, which soon dissolved.
Mr. Robinson now was out of spirits.
"Service is not the thing for me. I am of an active turn--I want to go
into business that will occupy me all day long--business that
requires some head. Even his reverence, the first man in the country,
acknowledged my talents--and what is the vent for them here? The
IN a low public outside the town--in a back room--with their arms on
the table and their low foreheads nearly touching, sat whispering two
men--types. One had the deep-sunk, colorless eyes, the protruding
cheek-bones, the shapeless mouth, and the broad chin good in itself
but bad in the above connection; the other had the vulpine chin, and
the fiendish eyebrows descending on the very nose in two sharp arches.
Both had the restless eye, both the short-cropped hair, society's
comment, congruous and auxiliary, though in itself faint by the side
of habit's seal and Nature's.
A small north window dimly lighted the gloomy, uncouth cabin, and
revealed the sole furniture--four chairs, too heavy to lift, too thick
to break, and a table discolored with the stains of a thousand filthy
debauches and dotted here and there with the fresh ashes of pipes and
In this appropriate frame behold two felons putting their heads
together. By each felon's side smoked in a glass hot with heat and
hotter with alcohol, the enemy of man. It would be difficult to give
their dialogue, for they spoke in thieves' Latin. The substance was
this: They had scent of a booty in a house that stood by itself three
miles out of the town. But the servants were incorruptible, and they
could not get access to inspect the premises, which were intricate.
Now your professional burglar will no more venture upon unexplored
premises than a good seaman will run into an unknown channel without
pilot, soundings or chart. It appeared from the dialogue that the two
men were acquainted with a party who knew these premises, having been
more than once inside them with his master.
The more rugged one objected to this party. "He is no use, he has
turned soft. I have heard him refuse a dozen good plants the last
month. Besides, I don't want a canting son of a gun for my pal--ten to
one if he don't turn tail and perhaps split."
N. B.--All this not in English, but in thieve's cant, with an oath or
a nasty expression at every third word. The sentences measled with
"You don't know how to take him," replied he of the Mephistopheles
eye-brow. "He won't refuse me."
"He is an old pal of mine, and I never found the thing I could not
persuade him to. He does not know how to say me nay--you may bully him
and queer him till all is blue, and he won't budge, and that is the
lay you have been upon with him. Now I shall pull a long face--make up
a story--take him by his soft bit--tell him I can't get on without
him, and patter old lang syne to him. Then we'll get a fiddle and lots
of whisky; and when we have had a reel and he has shaken his foot on
the floor and drank a gill or two, you will see him thaw, and then you
leave him to me and don't put in your jaw to spoil it. If we get him
it will be all right--he is No. 1; his little finger has seen more
than both our carcasses put together."
FOUR days after this, mephistopheles with a small m and brutus with a
little b sat again in the filthy little cabin where men hatch
burglaries--but this time the conference wore an air of expectant
"Didn't I tell you?"
"You didn't do it easy."
"No, I had almost to go on my knees to him."
"He isn't worth so much trouble."
"He is worth it ten times over. Look at this," and the speaker
produced a plan of the premises they were plotting against. "Could you
have done this?"
"I don't say I could."
"Could any man you know have done it? See here is every room and every
door and window and passage put down, and what sort of keys and bolts
and fastenings to each."
"How came he to know so much; he never was in the house but twice."
"A top-sawyer like him looks at everything with an eye to business. If
he was in a church he'd twig the candlesticks and the fastenings,
while the rest were mooning into the parson's face--he can't help it."
"Well, he may be a top-sawyer, but I don't like him. See how loth he
was, and, when he did agree, how he turned to and drank as if he would
drown his pluck before it could come to anything."
"Wait till you see him work. He will shake all that nonsense to blazes
when he finds himself out under the moon with the swag on one side and
the gallows on the other."
To go back a little. Mr. Miles did not return at the appointed day;
and Robinson, who had no work to do, and could not amuse himself
without money, pawned Mr. Eden's ring. He felt ashamed and sorrowful,
but not so much so as the first time.
This evening, as he was strolling moodily through the suburbs, a voice
hailed him in tones of the utmost cordiality. He looked up and there
was an old pal, with whom he had been associated in many a merry bout
and pleasant felony; he had not seen the man for two years; a friendly
glass was offered and accepted. Two girls were of the party, to oblige
whom Robinson's old acquaintance sent for Blind Bill, the fiddler, and
soon Robinson was dancing and shouting with the girls like mad--"High
cut," "side cut," "heel and toe," "sailor's fling," and the double
He did not leave till three in the morning, and after a promise to
meet the same little party again next evening--to dance and drink and
drive away dull care.
ON a certain evening some days later, the two men whose faces were
definitions sat on a bench outside that little public in the
suburbs--one at the end of a clay-pipe, the other behind a pewter mug.
It was dusk.
"He ought to be here soon," said the one into whose forehead holes
seemed dug and little bits of some vitreous substance left at the
bottom. "Well, mate," cried he harshly, "what do you want that you
stick to us so tight?" This was addressed to a peddler who had been
standing opposite showing the contents of his box with a silent
eloquence. Now this very asperity made the portable shopman say to
himself, "wants me out of the way--perhaps buy me out." So he stuck
where he was, and exhibited his wares.
"We don't want your gim-cracks," said mephistopheles quietly.
The man eyed his customers and did not despair. "But, gents," said he,
"I have got other things besides gim-cracks; something that will suit
you if you can read."
"Of course we can read," replied sunken-eyes haughtily; and in fact
they had been too often in jail to escape this accomplishment.
The peddler looked furtively in every direction; and after this
precaution pressed a spring and brought a small drawer out from the
bottom of his pack. The two rogues winked at one another. Out of the
drawer the peddler whipped a sealed packet.
"What is it?" asked mephistopheles, beginning to take an interest.
"Just imported from England," said the peddler, a certain pomp
mingling with his furtive and mysterious manner.
"---- England," was the other's patriotic reply.
"And translated from the French."
"That is better! but what is it?"
"Them that buy it--they will see!"
"Rather, I should say."
"Is there plenty about the women in it?"
The trader answered obliquely.
"What are we obliged to keep it dark for?"--the other put in, "Why of
course there is."
"Well!" said sunken-eyes affecting carelessness. "What do you want for
it? Got sixpence, Bill?"
"I sold the last to a gentleman for three-and-sixpence. But as this is
the last I've got--say half a crown."
Sunken-eyes swore at the peddler.
"What! half a crown for a book no thicker than a quire of paper?"
"Only half a crown for a thing I could be put in prison for selling.
Is not my risk to be paid as well as my leaves?"
This logic went home, and after a little higgling two shillings was
offered and accepted, but in the very act of commerce the trader
seemed to have a misgiving.
"I daren't do it unless you promise faithfully never to tell you had
it of me. I have got a character to lose, and I would not have it
known--not for the world, that James Walker had sold such
"Oh! what it is very spicy, is it? Come, hand it over. There's the two
"My poverty and not my will consents," sighed the trader.
"There, you be off, or we shall have all the brats coming round us."
The peddler complied and moved off, and so willing was he to oblige
his customers that on turning the corner he shouldered his pack and
ran with great agility down the street, till he gained a network of
small alleys in which he wriggled and left no trace.
Meantime sunken-eyes had put his tongue to the envelope and drawn out
the contents. "I'll go into the light and see what it is all about."
mephistopheles left alone had hardly given his pipe two sucks ere
brutus returned black with rage and spouting oaths like a whale.
"Why, what is the matter?"
"Matter! Didn't he sell this to me for a flash story?"
"Why he didn't say so. But certainly he dropped a word about loose
"Of course he did."
"Well! and ain't they?"
"Ain't they!" cried the other with fury. "Here, you young shaver,
bring the candle out here. Ain't they? No they
ain't----and----and----the ---- ----. Look here!"
mephisto. "'Mend your Ways,' a tract."
brutus. "I'll break his head instead."
mephisto. "'Narrative of Mr. James the Missionary.'"
brutus. "The cheating, undermining rip."
mephisto. "And here is another to the same tune."
brutus. "Didn't I tell you so. The hypocritical, humbugging rascal--"
mephisto. "Stop a bit. Here is a little one: 'Memoirs of a Gentleman's
brutus. "Oh! is there? I did not see that."
mephisto. "You are so hasty. The case mayn't be so black as it looks.
The others might be thrown in to make up the parcel. Hold the candle
brutus. "Ay! let us see about the housekeeper."
The two men read "The Housekeeper" eagerly, but as they read the
momentary excitement of hope died out of their faces. Not a sparkle of
the ore they sought; all was dross. "The Housekeeper" was one of those
who make pickles, not eat them--and in a linen apron a yard wide save
their master's money from the fangs of cook and footman, not help him
scatter it in a satin gown.
There was not even a stray hint or an indelicate expression for the
poor fellow's two shillings. The fraud, was complete. It was not like
the ground coffee, pepper and mustard in a London shop--in which there
is as often as not a pinch of real coffee, mustard and pepper to a
pound of chicory and bullock's blood, of red lead, dirt, flour and
turmeric. Here the do was pure.
Then brutus relieved his swelling heart by a string of observations
partly rhetorical, partly zoological. He devoted to horrible plagues
every square inch of the peddler, enumerating more particularly those
interior organs that subserve vitality, and concluded by vowing
solemnly to put a knife into him the first fair opportunity. "I'll
teach the rogue to--" Sell you medicine for poison, eh?
mephistopheles, either because he was a more philosophic spirit or was
not the one out of pocket, took the blow more coolly. "It is a bite
and no mistake. But what of it? Our money," said he, with a touch of
sadness, "goes as it comes. This is only two bob flung in the dirt. We
should not have invested them in the Three per Cents; and to-night's
swag will make it up."
He then got a fresh wafer and sealed the pamphlets up again. "There,"
said he, you keep dark and sell the first flat you come across the
same way the varmint sold you.
brutus, sickened at heart by the peddler's iniquity, revived at the
prospect of selling some fellow-creature as he had been sold. He put
the paper-trap in his pocket; and, cheated of obscenity, consoled
himself with brandy such as Bacchus would not own, but Beelzebub would
brew for man if permitted to keep an earthly distillery.
Presently they were joined by the third man, and for two hours the
three heads might all have been covered by one bushel-basket, and
peddler Walker's heartless fraud was forgotten in business of a higher
At last mephistopheles gave brutus a signal, and they rose to
interrupt the potations of the newcomer, who was pouring down fire and
hot water in rather a reckless way.
"We won't all go together," said mephistopheles. "You two meet me at
Jonathan's ken in an hour."
As brutus and the newcomer walked along an idea came to brutus. "Here
is a fellow that passes for a sharp. What if I sell him my pamphlets
and get a laugh at his expense. Mate," said he, "here is a flash book
all sealed up. What will you give me for it?"
"Well! I don't much care for that sort of reading, old fellow."
"But this is cheap. I got it a bargain. Come--a shilling won't hurt
you for it. See there is more than one under the cover."
Now the other had been drinking till he was in that state in which a
good-natured fellow's mind if decomposed would be found to be all
"Yes," and "Dine with me to-morrow," so he fell into the trap.
"I'll give it you, my boy," said he. "Let us see it? There are more
than one inside it. You're an honest fellow. Owe you a shilling." And
the sealed parcel went into his pocket. Then, seeing brutus look
rather rueful at this way of doing business, he hiccoughed out, "Stop
your bob out of the swag"--and chuckled.
A SNOW-WHITE suburban villa standing alone with its satellites that
occupied five times as much space as itself; coach-house, stable,
offices, greenhouse clinging to it like dew to a lily, and hot-house
farther in the rear. A wall of considerable height inclosed the whole.
It booked as secure and peaceful as innocent in the fleeting light the
young moon cast on it every time the passing clouds left her clear a
moment. Yet at this calm thoughtful hour crime was waiting to invade
this pretty little place.
Under the scullery-window lurked brutus and mephistopheles--faces
blackened, tools in hand--ready to whip out a pane of said window and
so penetrate the kitchen, and from the kitchen the pantry, where they
made sure of a few spoons, and up the back stairs to the plate-chest.
They would be in the house even now but a circumstance delayed them--a
light was burning on the second floor. Now it was contrary to their
creed to enter a house where a light was burning, above all, if there
was the least chance of that light being in a sitting-room. Now they
had been some hours watching the house and that light had been there
all the time, therefore, argued mephistopheles, "It is not a farthing
glim in a bedroom or we should have seen it lighted. It is some one
up. We must wait till they roost."
They waited and waited and waited. Still the light burned. They cursed
the light. No wonder. Light seems the natural enemy of evil deeds.
They began to get bitter, and their bodies cold. Even burglary becomes
a bore when you have to wait too long idle out in the cold.
At last, at about half past two, the light went out. Then, keenly
listening, the two sons of darkness heard a movement in the house, and
more than one door open and shut, and then the sound of feet going
rapidly down the road toward Sydney.
"Why! it is a party only just broke up. Lucky I would not work till
the glim was out."
"But I say, Bill--he is at that corner--the nobs must have passed
close to him--suppose they saw him."
"He is not so green as let them see him."
The next question was how long they should wait to let the inmates
close their peepers. All had been still and dark more than half an
hour when the pair began to work. mephisto took out a large piece of
putty and dabbed it on the middle of the pane; this putty he worked in
the center up to a pyramid; this he held with his left hand, while
with his right be took out his glazier's diamond and cut the pane all
round the edges. By the hold the putty gave him, he prevented the pane
from falling inside the house and making a noise, and finally whipped
it out clean and handed it to brutus. A moment more the two men were
in the scullery, thence into the kitchen through a door which they
found open; in the kitchen were two doors--trying one they found it
open into a larder. Here casting the light of his dark lantern round,
brutus discovered some cold fowl and a ham; they took these into the
kitchen, and somewhat coolly took out their knives and ate a hasty but
hearty supper. Their way of hacking the ham was as lawless as all the
rest. They then took off their shoes and dropped them outside the
scullery window, and now the serious part of the game began. Creeping
like cats, they reached the pantry, and sure enough found more than a
dozen silver spoons and forks of different sizes that had been
recently used. These they put into a small bag, and mephisto went back
through the scullery into the back garden and hid these spoons in a
bush. "Then, if we should be interrupted, we can come back for them."
And now the game became more serious and more nervous--the pair drew
their clasp knives and placed them in their bosoms ready in case of
extremity; then creeping like cats, one foot at a time and then a
pause, ascended the back stairs, at the top of which was a door. But
this door was not fastened, and in another moment they passed through
it and were on the first landing. The plan, correct in every
particular, indicated the plate closet to their right. A gleam from
the lantern showed it; the key-hole was old-fashioned as also
described, and in a moment brutus had it open. Then mephisto whipped
out a green baize bag with compartments, and in a minute these adroit
hands had stowed away cups, tureens, baskets, soup-spoons, etc., to
the value of three hundred pounds, and scarce a chink heard during the
whole operation. It was done; a look passed as much as to say this is
enough, and they crept back silent and cat-like as they had come,
brutus leading with the bag. Now just as he had his hand on the door
through which they had come up--snick! click!--a door was locked
somewhere down below.
brutus looked round and put the bag gently down. "Where?" he
"Near the kitchen," was the reply scarce audible. "Sounded to me to
come from the hall," whispered the other.
Both men changed color, but retained their presence of mind and their
cunning. brutus stepped back to the plate-closet, put the bag in it,
and closed it, but without locking it. "Stay there," whispered he,
"and if I whistle--run out the back way empty-handed. If I mew--out
with the bag and come out by the front door; nothing but inside bolts
to it, plan says."
They listened a moment, there was no fresh sound. Then brutus slipped
down the front stairs in no time; he found the front door not bolted;
he did not quite understand that, and drawing a short bludgeon, he
opened it very cautiously; the caution was not superfluous. Two
gentlemen made a dash at him from the outside the moment the door was
open; one of their heads cracked like a broken bottle under the blow
the ready ruffian struck him with his bludgeon, and he dropped like a
shot; but another was coming flying across the lawn with a drawn
cutlass, and brutus, finding himself overmatched, gave one loud
whistle and flew across the hall, making for the kitchen. Flew he
never so fast mephisto was there an instant before him. As for the
gentleman at the door he was encumbered with his hurt companion, who
fell across his knees as he rushed at the burglar. brutus got a start
of some seconds and dashed furiously into the kitchen and flew to the
only door between them and the scullery-window.
THE DOOR WAS LOCKED.
The burglar's eyes gleamed in their deep caverns, "Back, Will--and cut
through them," he cried--and out flashed his long bright knife.
WHILE the two burglars were near the scullery-window watching the
light in the upper story a third man stood sentinel on the opposite
side of the house; he was but a few yards from the public road, yet
hundreds would have passed and no man seen him; for he had placed
himself in a thick shadow flat against the garden-wall. His office was
to signal danger from his side should any come. Now the light that
kept his comrades inactive was not on his side of the house; he waited
therefore expecting every moment their signal that the job was done.
On this the cue was to slip quietly off and all make by different
paths for the low public-house described above and there divide the
The man waited and waited and waited for this signal; it never came;
we know why. Then he became impatient--miserable; he was out of his
element--wanted to be doing something. At last all this was an
intolerable bore. Not feeling warm toward the job, he had given the
active business to his comrades, which he now regretted for two
reasons. First, he was kept here stagnant and bored; and second, they
must be a pair of bunglers; he'd have robbed a parish in less time. He
would light a cigar. Tobacco blunts all ills, even ennui. Putting his
hand in his pocket for a cigar, it ran against a hard, square
substance. What is this?--oh! the book mephisto had sold him. No, he
would not smoke, he would see what the book was all about; he knelt
down and took off his hat, and put his dark-lantern inside it before
he ventured to move the slide; then undid the paper, and putting it
into the hat, threw the concentrated rays on the contents and peered
in to examine them. Now the various little pamphlets had been
displaced by mephisto, and the first words that met the thief's eye in
large letters on the back of a tract were these, "THE WAGES OF SIN ARE
Thomas Robinson looked at these words with a stupid gaze. At first he
did not realize all that lay in them. He did not open the tract; he
gazed benumbed at the words, and they glared at him like the eyes of
green fire when we come in the dark on some tiger-cat crouching in his
Oh that I were a painter and could make you see what cannot be
described--the features of this strange incident that sounds so small
and was so great! The black night, the hat, the renegade peering under
it in the wall's deep shadows to read something trashy, and the
half-open lantern shooting its little strip of intense fire, and the
grim words springing out in a moment from the dark face of night and
dazzling the renegade's eyes and chilling his heart:
"THE WAGES OF SIN ARE DEATH."
To his stupor now succeeded surprise and awe. "How comes this?" he
whispered aloud, "was this a trick of ----'s? No! he doesn't know--
This is the devil's own doing--no! it is not--more likely it is--The
third time!--I'll read it. My hands shake so I can hardly hold it. It
is by him--yes--signed F. E. Heaven, have mercy on me!--This is more
He read it, shaking all over as he read.
The tract was simply written. It began with a story of instances, some
of them drawn from the histories of prisoners, and it ended with an
earnest exhortation and a terrible warning. When the renegade came to
this part, his heart beat violently; for along with the earnest,
straightforward, unmincing words of sacred fire there seemed to rise
from the paper the eloquent voice, the eye rich with love, the face of
inexhaustible intelligence and sympathy that had so often shone on
Robinson, while just words such as these issued from those golden
He read on, but not to the end; for as he read he came to one
paragraph that made him fancy that Mr. Eden was by his very side.
"You, into whose hands these words of truth shall fall, and find you
intending to do some foolish or wicked thing to-morrow, or the next
day, or to-day, or this very hour--stop!--do not that sin! on your
soul do it not!--fall on your knees and repent the sin you have
meditated; better repent the base design than suffer for the sin, as
suffer you shall so surely as the sky is pure, so surely as God is
holy and sin's wages are death."
At these words, as if the priest's hand had been stretched across the
earth and sea and laid on the thief's head, he fell down upon his
knees with his back toward the scene of burglary and his face toward
England, crying out, "I will, your reverence. I am!--Lord, help me!"
cried he, then first remembering how he had been told to pray in
temptation's hour. The next moment he started to his feet, he dashed
his lantern to the ground, and leaped over a gate that stood in his
way, and fled down the road to Sydney.
He ran full half a mile before he stopped; his mind was in a whirl.
Another reflection stopped him. He was a sentinel, and had betrayed
his post; suppose his pals were to get into trouble through reckoning
on him; was it fair to desert them without warning? What if he were to
go back and give the whistle of alarm, pretend he had seen some one
watching, and so prevent the meditated crime, as well as be guiltless
of it himself; but then, thought he, "and suppose I do go back what
will become of me?"
While he hesitated, the question was decided for him. As he looked
back irresolute, his keen eye noticed a shadow moving along the
hedge-side to his left.
"Why, they are coming away," was his first thought. But looking keenly
down the other edge which was darker still he saw another noiseless
moving shadow. "Why are they on different sides of the road and both
keeping in the shadow?" thought this shrewd spirit, and he liked it so
ill that he turned at once and ran off toward Sydney.
At this out came the two figures with a bound into the middle of the
road, and, with a loud view-halloo, raced after him like the wind.
Robinson, as he started and before he knew the speed of his pursuers,
ventured to run sidewise a moment to see who or what they were. He
caught a glimpse of white waistcoats and glittering studs, and guessed
He had a start of not more than twenty yards, but he was a good
runner, and it was in his favor that his pursuers had come up at a
certain speed, while he started fresh after a rest. He squared his
shoulders, opened his mouth wide for a long race, and ran as men run
for their lives.
In the silent night Robinson's highlows might have been heard half a
mile off clattering along the hard road. Pit pit pit pat! came two
pair of dress-boots after him. Robinson heard the sound with a thrill
of fear: "They in their pumps and I in boots," thought he, and his
pursuers heard the hunted one groan, and redoubled their efforts as
dogs when the stag begins to sob.
He had scarce run a hundred yards with his ears laid back like a
hare's, when he could not help thinking the horrible pit pit pit got
nearer; he listened with agonized keenness as he ran, and so fine did
his danger make his ear that he could tell the exact position of his
pursuers. A cold sweat crept over him as he felt they had both gained
ten yards out of the twenty on him; then he distinctly felt one
pursuer gain upon the other, and this one's pit pit pit crept nearer
and nearer, an inch every three or four yards; the other held his
own--no more--no less.
At last so near crept No. 1 that Robinson felt his hot breath at his
ear. He clinched his teeth and gave a desperate spurt, and put four or
five yards between them; he could have measured the ground gained by
the pit pit pat. But the pursuer put on a spurt, and reduced the
distance by half.
"I may as well give in," thought the hunted one--but at that moment
came a gleam of hope; this pursuer began suddenly to pant very loud.
He had clinched his teeth to gain the twenty yards; he had gained them
but had lost his wind. Robinson heard this, and feared him no longer,
and in fact after one or two more puffs came one despairing snort, and
No. 1 pulled up dead short, thoroughly blown.
As No. 2 passed him, he just panted out
"Won't catch him."
"Won't I!" ejaculated No 2, expelling the words rather than uttering
Klopetee klop, klopetee klop, klopetee, klopetee, klopetee klop.
Pit pat, pit pat, pit pat pat, pit pit pat. Ten yards apart, no more
Nor nearer might the dog attain,
Nor farther might the quarry strain.
"They have done me between them, thought poor Robinson. "I could have
run from either singly, but one blows me, and then the other runs me
down. I can get out of it by fighting perhaps, but then there will be
Robinson now began to pant audibly, and finding he could not shake the
hunter off, he with some reluctance prepared another game.
He began to exaggerate his symptoms of distress, and imperceptibly to
relax his pace. On this the pursuer came up hand over head. He was
scarce four yards behind when Robinson suddenly turned and threw
himself on one knee, with both hands out like a cat's claws. The man
ran on full tilt; in fact, he could not have stopped. Robinson caught
his nearest ankle with both hands and rose with him and lifted him,
aided by his own impulse, high into the air and sent his heels up
perpendicular. The man described a parabola in the air, and came down
on the very top of his head with frightful force; and as he lay, his
head buried in his hat and his heels kicking, Robinson without a
moment lost jumped over his body, and klopetee klop rang fainter and
fainter down the road alone.
The plucky pursuer wrenched his head with infinite difficulty out of
his hat, which sat on his shoulders with his nose pointing through a
chasm from crown to brim, shook himself, and ran wildly a few yards in
pursuit--but finding he had in his confusion run away from Robinson as
well as Robinson from him, and hopeless of recovering the ground now
lost, he gave a rueful sort of laugh, made the best of it, put his
hands in his pockets and strolled back to meet No. 1.
Meantime, Robinson, fearful of being pursued on horseback, relaxed his
speed but little and ran the three miles out into Sydney. He came home
with his flank heating and a glutinous moisture on his lip, and a
hunted look in his eye. He crept into bed, but spent the night
thinking, ay, and praying, too, not sleeping.
THOMAS ROBINSON rose from his sleepless bed an altered man; altered
above all in this that his self-confidence was clean gone. "How little
I knew myself," said he, "and how well his reverence knew me! I am the
weakest fool on earth--he saw that and told me what to do. He provided
help for me--and I, like an ungrateful idiot, never once thought of
obeying him; but from this hour I see myself as I am and as he used to
call me--a clever fool. I can't walk straight without some honest man
to hold by. Well, I'll have one, though I give up everything else in
the world for it."
Then he went to his little box and took out the letter to George
Fielding. He looked at it and reproached himself for forgetting it so
long. "A letter from the poor fellow's sweetheart, too. I ought to
have sent it by the post if I did not take it. But I will take it.
I'll ask Mr. Miles's leave the moment he comes home, and start that
very day." Then he sat down and read the tract again, and as he read
it was filled with shame and contrition.
By one of those freaks of mind which it is so hard to account for,
every good feeling rushed upon him with far greater power than when he
was in ---- Prison, and, strange to say, he now loved his reverence
more and took his words deeper to heart than he had done when they
were together. His flesh crept with horror at the thought that he had
been a criminal again, at least in intention, and that but for
Heaven's mercy he would have been taken and punished with frightful
severity, and above all would have wounded his reverence to the heart
in return for more than mortal kindness, goodness and love. And, to do
Robinson justice, this last thought made his heart sicken and his
flesh creep more than all the rest. He was like a man who had fallen
asleep on the brink of an unseen precipice--awoke--and looked down.
The penitent man said his prayers this morning and vowed on his knees
humility and a new life. Henceforth he would know himself; he would
not attempt to guide himself; he would just obey his reverence. And to
begin, whenever a temptation came in sight he would pray against it
then and there and fly from it, and the moment his master returned he
would leave the town and get away to honest George Fielding with his
With these prayers and these resolutions a calm complacency stole over
him; he put his reverence's tract and George's letter in his bosom and
came down into the kitchen.
The first person he met was the housemaid, Jenny.
"Oh, here is my lord!" cried she. "Where were you last night?"
Robinson stammered out, "Nowhere in particular. Why?"
"Oh, because the master was asking for you, and you weren't to be
found high or low."
"What, is he come home?"
"Came home last night."
"I'll go and take him his hot water."
"Why, he is not in the house, stupid. He dressed the moment he came
home and went out to a party. He swore properly at your not being in
the way to help him dress."
"What did he say?" asked Robinson, a little uneasy.
The girl's eyes twinkled. "He said, 'How ever am I to lace myself now
that scamp is not in the way?'"
"Come, none of your chaff, Jenny."
"Why you know you do lace him, and pretty tight, too."
"I do nothing of the kind."
"Oh, of course you won't tell on one another. Tell me our head scamp
does not wear stays! A man would not be as broadshouldered as that and
have a waist like a wasp and his back like a board without a little
lacing, and a good deal, too."
"Well, have it your own way, Jenny. Won't you give me a morsel of
"Well, Tom, I can give you some just for form's sake; but bless you,
you won't able to eat it."
"Gents that are out all night bring a headache home in the morning in
place of an appetite."
"But I was not out all night. I was at home soon after twelve."
"Those that ain't clever enough to hide secrets should trust them to
those that are."
"I don't know what you mean, my lass."
"Oh, nothing; only I sat up till halfpast one in the kitchen, and I
listened till three in my room.
"You took a deal of trouble on my account."
"Oh, it was more curiosity than regard," was the keen reply.
"So I should say."
The girl colored and seemed nettled by this answer. She set demurely
about the work of small vengeance. "Now," said she with great
cordiality, "you tell me what you were doing all night and why you
broke into the house like a--a--hem! instead of coming into it like a
man, and then you'll save me the trouble of finding it out whether you
like or not."
These words chilled Robinson. What! had a spy been watching
him--perhaps for days--and above all a female spy--a thing with a
velvet paw, a noiseless step, an inscrutable countenance, and a
He hung his head over his cup in silence. Jenny's eye was scanning
him. He felt that without seeing it. He was uneasy under it, but his
self-reproach was greater than his uneasiness.
At this juncture the street door was opened with a latch-key. "Here
comes the head scamp,' said Jenny, with her eye on Robinson. The next
moment a bell was rung sharply. Robinson rose.
"Finish your breakfast," said Jenny, "I'll answer the bell," and out
she went. She returned in about ten minutes with a dressing-gown over
her arm and a pair of curling-irons in her hand. "There," said she,
"you are to go in the parlor, and get up the young buck; curl his nob
and whiskers. I wish it was me, I'd curl his ear the first thing I'd
"What, Jane, did you take the trouble to bring them down for me?"
"They look like it," replied the other tartly, as if she repented the
Robinson went in to his master. He expected a rebuke for being out of
the way; but no! he found the young gentleman in excellent humor and
high spirits. "Help me off with this coat, Tom."
"Oh! not so rough, confound you. Ah! Ugh!"
"Coat's a little too tight, sir."
"No it isn't--it fits me like a glove but I am stiff and sore. There,
now, get me a shirt."
Robinson came back with the shirt, and aired it close to the fire; and
this being a favorable position for saying what he felt awkward about,
"Mr. Miles, sir."
"I am going to ask you a favor."
"Out with it!"
"You have been a kind master to me."
"I should think I have, too. By Jove, you won't find such another in a
"No, sir, I am sure I should not, but there is an opening for me of a
different sort altogether. I have a friend, a squatter, near Bathurst,
and I am to join him if you will be so kind as to let me go."
"What an infernal nuisance!" cried the young gentleman, who was like
most boys, good-natured and selfish. "The moment I get a servant I
like he wants to go to the devil."
"Only to Bathurst, sir," said Robinson deprecatingly, to put him in a
"And what am I to do for another?"
At this moment in came Jenny with all the paraphernalia of breakfast.
"Here, Jenny," cried he, "here's Robinson wants to leave us. Stupid
Jenny stood transfixed with the tray in her hand. "Since when?" asked
she of her master, but looking at Robinson.
"This moment. The faithful creature greeted my return with that
"Well, sir, a servant isn't a slave and suppose he has a reason?"
"Oh! they have always got a reason, such as it is. Wants to go and
squat at Bathurst. Well, Tom, you are a fool for leaving us, but of
course we shan't pay you the compliment of keeping you against your
will, shall we?" looking at Jane.
"What have I to do with it?" replied she, opening her gray eyes. "What
is it to me whether he goes or stays?"
"Come, I like that. Why you are the housemaid and he is the footman,
and those two we know are always"--and the young gentleman eked out
his meaning by whistling a tune.
"Mr. Miles," said Jenny, very gravely, like an elder rebuking a
younger, "you must excuse me, sir, but I advise you not to make so
free with your servants. Servants are encroaching, and they will be
sure to take liberties with you in turn; and," turning suddenly red
and angry, "if you talk like that to me I shall leave the room."
"Well, if you must! you must! but bring the tea-kettle back with you.
That is a duck!"
Jenny could not help laughing, and went for the tea-kettle. On her
return Robinson made signals to her over the master's head, which he
had begun to frizz. At first she looked puzzled, but following the
direction of his eye she saw that her master's right hand was terribly
cut and swollen. "Oh!" cried the girl. "Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"
"Eh?" cried Mr. Miles, "what is the row?"
"Look at your poor hand, sir!"
"Oh, ay! isn't it hideous. Met with an accident. Soon get well."
"No, it won't, not of itself; but I have got a capital lotion for
bruises, and I shall bathe it for you."
Jenny brought in a large basin of warm water and began to foment it
first, touching it so tenderly. "And his hand that was as white as a
lady's," said Jenny pitifully, "po-o-r bo-y!" This kind expression had
no sooner escaped her than she colored and bent her head down over her
work, hoping it might escape notice.
"Young woman," said Mr. Miles with paternal gravity, "servants are
advised not to make too free with their masters; or the beggars will
forget their place and take liberties with you. He! He! He!"
Jenny put his hand quietly down into the water and got up and ran
across the room for the door. Her course was arrested by a howl from
the jocose youth.
"Murder! Take him off, Jenny; kick him; the beggar is curling and
laughing at the same time. Confound you, can't you lay the irons down
when I say a good thing. Ha! Ha! Ha!"
This strange trio chuckled a space. Miles the loudest. "Tom, pour out
my tea; and you, Jenny, if you will come to the scratch again, ha!
ha!--I'll tell you how I came by this."
This promise brought the inquisitive Jenny to the basin directly.
"You know Hazeltine?"
"Yes, sir, a tall gentleman that comes here now and then. That is the
one you are to run a race with on the public course," put in Jenny,
looking up with a scandalized air.
"That is the boy; but how the deuce did you know?"
"Gentlemen to run with all the dirty boys looking on like horses,"
remonstrated the grammatical one, "it is a disgrace."
"So it is--for the one that is beat. Well, I was to meet Hazeltine to
supper out of town. By-the-by, you don't know Tom Yates?"
"Oh," said Jenny, "I have heard of him, too."
"I doubt that; there are a good many of his name."
"The rake, I mean; lives a mile or two out of Sydney.
"So do half a dozen more of them."
"This one is about the biggest gambler and sharper unhung."
"All right! that is my friend! Well, he gave us a thundering
supper--lots of lush."
"What is lush?"
"Tea and coffee and barley-water, my dear. Oh! can't you put the
thundering irons down when I say a good thing? Well, I mustn't be
witty any more, the penalty is too severe."
I need hardly say it was not Mr. Miles's jokes that agitated Robinson
now; on the contrary, in the midst of his curiosity and rising
agitation these jokes seemed ghastly impossibilities.
"Well, at ten o'clock we went upstairs to a snug little room, and all
four sat down to a nice little green table."
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