It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Part 6 out of 17
grounds, and if need be, demand in my own person, as her majesty's
servant driven to this strait.
"I am responsible to her majesty for the lives and well-being of the
prisoners, and yet unable, without your intervention, to protect them
against illegal violence covered by organized fraud."
Mr. Eden copied this, and sent the copy at once to Mr. Hawes with two
lines to this effect, that the duplicate should not leave the town
till seven in the evening, so Mr. Hawes had plenty of time to write to
the Home Secretary by same post, and parry or meet this blow if he
thought it worth his while.
It now remained only to post the duplicate for the Home Office. Mr.
Eden directed it and waxed it, but even as he leaned over it sealing
it the room suddenly became dark to him, and his head seemed to weigh
a ton. With an instinct of self-preservation he made for the sofa,
which was close behind him, but before he could reach it his senses
had left him, and he fell with his head and shoulders upon the couch
but his feet on the floor, the memorial tight in his hand. He paid the
penalty of being a blood-horse--he ran till he dropped.
"Two ladies to see you," grunted the red-haired servant, throwing open
the door without ceremony; and she actually bounced out again without
seeing anything more than that her master was lying on the sofa.
Susan Merton and her aunt came rapidly and cheerfully into the room.
"Here we are, Mr. Eden, Aunt Davies and I--Oh!" The table being
between the sofa and the door the poor gentleman's actual condition
was not self-evident from the latter, but Susan was now in the middle
of the room and her gayety gave way in a moment to terror.
"Why, the man has fainted!" cried Mrs. Davies hurriedly. Susan clasped
her hands together and turned very pale; but for all that she was the
first at Mr. Eden's head; "he is choking! he is choking! help me,
aunt, help me!" but even while crying for help her nimble fingers had
untied and flung away Mr. Eden's white neck-tie, which, being high and
stiff, was doing him a very ill turn, as the air forcing itself
violently through his nostrils plainly showed.
"Take his legs, aunt; oh! oh! oh!"
"Don't be a fool, girl, it is only a faint." Susan flew to the window
and threw it open, then flew back and seized one end of the couch. Her
aunt comprehended at a glance, and the two carried it with its burden
to the window.
"Open the door, aunt," cried Susan, as she whipped out her
scent-bottle and with her finger wetted the inside of his nostrils
with the spirit as the patient lay in the thorough draught. Susan
sobbed with sorrow and fear, but her emotion was far from disabling
She poured some of her scent into a water-glass and diluted it
largely. She made her aunt take a hand-screen from the mantel-piece.
She plunged her hand into the liquid and flung the drops sharply into
Mr. Eden's face; and Mrs. Davies fanned him rapidly at the same time.
These remedies had a speedy effect. First the film cleared from the
patient's bright eye, then a little color diffused itself gradually
over his cheek, and last his lips lost their livid tint. As soon as
she saw him coming to, Susan composed herself; and Mr. Eden, on his
return to consciousness, looked up and saw a beautiful young woman
looking down on him with a cheerful, encouraging smile and wet cheeks.
"Ah!" sighed he, and put out his hand faintly to welcome Susan; "but
what--how do I come here?"
"You have been a little faint," said Susan smiling, "but you are
better now, you know!"
"Yes, thank you! how good of you to come! Who is this lady?"
"My aunt, sir--a very notable woman. See, she is setting your things
to rights already. Aunt, I wonder at you!"
She then dipped the corner of her handkerchief in scent, and slightly
coloring now that her patient was conscious, she made the spirit enter
He gave a sigh of languid pleasure--"That is so invigorating." Then
he looked upward--"See how good God is to me! in my sore need He has
sent me help. Oh! how pleasant is the face of a friend. By-the-way, I
took you for an angel at first," added he naively.
"But you have come to your senses now, sir! ha! ha! ha!" cried busy,
merry Mrs. Davies, hard at work. For as soon as the patient began
visibly to return to life, she had turned her back on him and fallen
on the furniture.
"I hope you are come to stay with me." As Susan was about to answer in
the negative, Mrs. Davies made signals for a private conference; and
after some whispering, Susan replied, "that her aunt wanted to put the
house in apple-pie order, and that she, Susan, felt too anxious about
him to go until he should be quite recovered."
"In that case, ladies," said he, "I consecrate to you my entire second
floor, three rooms," and he rang the bell and said to the servant,
"Take your orders from these ladies, and show them the second floor."
While his visitors were examining their apartments, Mr. Eden sought a
little rest, and had no sooner dropped upon his bed than sleep came to
He slept for nearly four hours; at first soundly, then dozing and
dreaming. While he slept a prisoner sent for him, but Susan would not
have him awakened for that.
By-and-by Susan went into the town, leaving her aunt sole guardian.
"Now, aunt," said she, "don't let him be disturbed whoever comes for
him. It is as much as his life is worth!"
"Well, then, I won't! there."
Susan had not been long gone when a turnkey called, and was shown into
the parlor where Mrs. Davies was very busy. He looked about him and
told her he had called for a book Mr. Eden promised him.
"Mr. Eden is asleep."
"Asleep at this time of day?" said the man incredulously.
"Yes, asleep," answered Mrs. Davies sharply; "is he never to have any
"Well, perhaps you will tell him Mr. Fry has come for the book as
"Couldn't think of disturbing him for that, Mr. Fry," replied Mrs.
Davies, not intermitting her work for a single moment.
"Very well, ma'am!" said Mr. Fry, in dudgeon. "I never was here
before, and I shan't ever come again--that is all--" and off he went.
Mrs. Davies showed her dismay at this threat by dusting on without
once taking her eye or her mind off her job.
It was eight o'clock. Mr. Eden woke and found it almost dark.
He rose immediately. "Why, I have slept the day away," thought he in
dismay, "and my memorial to the Home Office; it is past post time, and
I have not sent it." He came hastily downstairs and entered the
parlor; he found it in a frightful state. All the chairs were in the
middle of the room, every part of which was choked up except a pathway
three feet broad that ran by the side of the wall all round it. From
this path all access into the interior was blocked by the furniture,
which now stood upon an area frightfully diminished by this loss of
three feet taken from each wall. Mrs. Davies was a character--a
notable woman. Mr. Eden's heart sank at the sight.
To find himself put to rights gives a bachelor an innocent pleasure,
but the preliminary process of being put entirely to wrongs crushes
his soul. "Another fanatic let loose on me," thought he, "and my room
is like a road that is just mended, as they call it." He peered about
here and there through a grove of chairs whose legs were kicking in
the air as they sat bosom downward upon their brethren, but he could
see no memorial. He rang the bell and inquired of the servant whether
she had seen it. While he was describing it to her Mrs. Davies broke
"I saw it--I picked it up off the floor--it was lying between the sofa
and the table."
"And what did you do with it?"
"Why, dusted it, to be sure."
"But where did you put it?"
"On the table, I suppose."
Another search and no memorial.
"Somebody has taken it."
"But who? has anybody been in this room since?"
"Plenty. You don't get much peace here, I should say; but Susan gave
the order you were not to be disturbed."
"This won't do," thought Mr. Eden.
"Who has been here?" said he to the servant.
"Mr. Fry is the only one that came into this room."
"Mr. Fry!" said Mr. Eden, with some surprise.
"Ay! ay!" cried Mrs. Davies. "I remember now there was an ill-looking
fellow of that name here talking to me, pretending you had promised
him a book."
"But I did promise him a book."
"Oh, you did, did you! well he looked like a thief, perhaps he
has--goodness gracious me, I hope there was no money in it," and Mrs.
Davies lost her ruddy color in a moment.
"No! no! it was only a letter, but of great importance."
Another violent search at the risk of shins and hands.
"That Fry has taken it. I never saw such a hang-dog looking fellow."
Mr. Eden was much vexed; but he had a trick of blaming himself, Heaven
only knows where he caught it. "My own forgetfulness; even if the
paper had not been lost I had allowed post-time to go by--and Mr.
Hawes will anticipate me with the Home Secretary." He sighed.
In so severe a struggle he was almost as reluctant to give an unfair
advantage as to take one.
He ordered a fire in his little back parlor; and with a sigh sat down
to rewrite his memorial and to try and recover, if he could, the exact
words, and save the next post that left in the morning.
As Mr. Eden sat trying to recover the words of his memorial, Hawes was
seated in Mr. Williams' study at Ashtown Park, concerting with that
worthy magistrate the best way of turning the new chaplain out of ----
Jail. He found no difficulty. Mr. Williams had two very strong
prejudices, one in favor of Hawes personally, the other in favor of
the system pursued this two years in that jail. Egotism was here, too,
and rendered these prejudices almost impregnable. Williams had turned
out O'Connor and his milder system, and put in Hawes and his more
rigorous one. Hawes was "my man--his system mine."
He told his story, and Williams burned to avenge his injured friend,
whose patron and director he called himself, and whose tool he was.
"Nothing can be done until the twenty-fifth, when Palmer returns. We
must be all there for an act of this importance. Do your duty as you
always have, carry out the discipline, and send for me if he gives you
any great annoyance in the meantime."
That zealous servant of her majesty, earnest Mr. Hawes, had never
taken a day's holiday before. No man could accuse him of indolence,
carelessness, or faint discharge of the task he had appointed himself.
He perverted his duties too much to neglect them. He had been
reluctant to leave the prison on a personal affair. The drive,
however, was pleasant, and he returned freshened and animated by
assurances of support from the magistrate.
As he strode across the prison yard to inspect everything before going
to his house, he felt invulnerable and sneered at himself for the
momentary uneasiness he had let a crack-brained parson give him. He
went home; there was a nice fire, a clean-swept hearth, a glittering
brass kettle on the hob for making toddy, and three different kinds of
spirits in huge cruets. For system reigned in the house as well as the
jail, with this difference, that the house system was devoted to
making self comfortable the jail system to making others wretched.
He rang the bell. In came the servant with slippers and candles
unlighted, for he was wont to sip his grog by fire-light. He put on
his slippers. Then he mixed his grog. Then he noticed a paper on the
table, and putting it to the fire he found it was sealed. So he
lighted the candles and placed them a little behind him. Then he
stirred his grog and sipped it, and placing it close beside him,
leaned back with a grunt of satisfaction, opened the paper, read it
first slowly, then all in a flutter, started up as if he was going to
act upon some impulse; but the next moment sat down again and stared
wildly a picture of stupid consternation.
Meantime, as Mr. Eden with a heavy heart was writing himself
out--nauseous task--Susan stood before him with a color like a rose.
She was in a brown cloak, from under which she took out a basket
brimful of little packages, some in blue, some in white paper.
"These are grits," said she, "and these are arrowroot."
"I know--one of the phases of the potato."
"Oh! for shame, Mr. Eden. Well, I never! And I posted your letter,
"What letter? what letter?"
"The long one. I found it on the table."
"You don't mean you posted that letter?"
"Why, it was to go, wasn't it?"
"Yes, it was to go, but it was wonderfully intelligent of you."
"La! Mr. Eden, don't talk so; you make me ashamed. Why, there was
'immediate' written on it in your own hand. Was I to wake you up to
ask whether that meant it was to stay here immediate, or go to London
immediate?" Then she pondered a moment. "He thinks I am a fool," said
she, in quiet explanation, without a shade of surprise or anger.
"Well! Susan, my dear friend, you don't know what a service you have
Susan glittered with pleasure.
"There!" cried he, "you have spared me this most unpleasant task," and
he flung his unfinished papers into a basket. Mr. Eden congratulated
himself in his way, i.e., thanked Heaven Susan had come there; the
next thing was, he had a twinge of conscience. "I half suspected Fry
of taking it in the interest of Hawes, his friend. Poor Fry, who is a
brute, but as honest a man as myself, every bit. He shall have his
book, at all events. I'll put his name on it that I mayn't forget it
again." Mr. Eden took the book from its shelf, wrapped it in paper, and
wrote on the cover, "For Mr. Fry from F. Eden." As the incidents of
the day are ended, I may as well relate what this book was and how Fry
came to ask for it.
The book was "Uncle Tom," a story which discusses the largest human
topic that ever can arise; for the human race is bisected into black
and white. Nowadays a huge subject greatly treated receives justice
from the public, and "Uncle Tom" is written in many places with art,
in all with red ink and with the biceps muscle.
Great by theme, and great by skill, and greater by a writer's soul
honestly flung into its pages, "Uncle Tom," to the surprise of many
that twaddle traditional phrases in reviews and magazines about the
art of fiction, and to the surprise of no man who knows anything about
the art of fiction, was all the rage. Not to have read it was like not
to have read the _Times_ for a week.
Once or twice during the crucifixion of a prisoner Mr. Eden had said
bitterly to Fry, "Have you read 'Uncle Tom?'"
"No!" would Fry grunt.
But one day that the question was put to him he asked, with some
appearance of interest, "Who is Uncle Tom?"
Then Mr. Eden began to reflect. "Who knows? The cases are in a great
measure parallel. Prisoners are a tabooed class in England, as are
blacks in some few of the United States. The lady writes better than I
can talk. If she once seizes his sympathies by the wonderful power of
fiction, she will touch his conscience through his heart. This
disciple of Legree is fortified against me; Mrs. Stowe may take him
off his guard. He said slyly to Fry, 'Not know Uncle Tom! Why it is a
most interesting story--a charming story. There are things in it, too,
that meet your case.'"
"It is a book you will like. Shall I lend it you?"
"If you please, sir. Nights are drawing in now."
"I will, then."
And he would; but that frightful malady, jaundice, among its other
feats, impairs the patient's memory; and he forgot all about it. So
Fry, whose curiosity was at last excited, came for the book. The rest
MR. HAWES went about the prison next day morose and melancholy. He
spoke to no one, and snapped those who spoke to him. He punished no
prisoner all day, but he looked at them as a wolf at fortified sheep.
He did not know what to do to avert the blow he had drawn so
perseveringly on his own head. At one time he thought of writing to
the Home Office and aspersing his accuser; then he regretted his visit
to Ashtown Park. "What an unlucky dog I am! I go to see a man that I
was sure of before I went, and while I am gone the ---- parson steals
a march on me. He will beat me! If I hadn't been a fool I should have
seen what a dangerous devil he is. No putting him out of temper and no
putting him out of heart! He will beat me! The zealous services of so
many years won't save me with an ungrateful Government. I shall lose
For a while even stout-hearted, earnest Mr. Hawes was depressed with
gloom and bitter foreboding; but he had a resource in trouble good Mr.
Eden in similar case had not.
In the despondency of his soul he turned--to GROG.
Under the inspiration of that deity he prepared for a dogged defense.
He would punish no more prisoners, let them do what they might, and
then if an inquiry should take place he would be in case to show that
by his past severities he had at last brought his patients to such
perfection that weeks had elapsed without a single punishment. With
this and the justices' good word he would weather the storm yet.
Thus passed three days without one of those assaults on prisoners he
called punishment; but this enforced forbearance made him hate his
victims. He swore at them, he threatened them all round, and with deep
malice he gave open orders to punish which he secretly countermanded,
so that in fact he did punish, for blows suspended over the head fall
upon the soul. Thus he made his prisoners share his gloom. He was
unhappy; he was dull; robbed of an excitement which had become butter
to his daily bread.
All prison life is dull. Chaplain, turnkeys, jailers, all who live in
prisons are prisoners. Barren of mental resources, too stupid to see
far less read the vast romance that lay all round him, every cell a
volume; too mindless to comprehend his own grand situation on a
salient of the State and of human nature, and to discern the sacred
and endless pleasures to be gathered there, this unhappy dolt, flung
into a lofty situation by shallow blockheads, who like himself saw in
a jail nothing greater nor more than a "place of punishment," must
still like his prisoners and the rest of us have some excitement to
keep him from going dead. What more natural than that such a nature
should find its excitement in tormenting, and that by degrees this
excitement should become first a habit then a need? Growth is the
nature of habit, not of one sort or another but of all--even of an
unnatural habit. Gin grows on a man--charity grows on a man--tobacco
grows on a man--blood grows on a man.
At a period of the Reign of Terror the Parisians got to find a day
weary without the guillotine. If by some immense fortuity there came a
day when they were not sprinkled with innocent blood the poor souls
s'ennuyaient. This was not so much thirst for any particular liquid as
the habit of excitement. Some months before, dancing, theaters,
boulevard, etc., would have made shift to amuse these same hearts, as
they did some months after when the red habit was worn out. Torture
had grown upon stupid, earnest Hawes; it seasoned that white of egg, a
Oh! how dull he felt these three deplorable days, barren of groans,
and white faces, and livid lips, and fellow-creatures shamming,* and
*A generic term for swooning, or sickening, or going mad, in a
Mr. Hawes had given a sulky order that the infirmary should be
prepared for the sick, and now on the afternoon of the third day the
surgeon had met him there by appointment.
"Will they get well any quicker here?" asked Hawes ironically.
"Why, certainly," replied the other.
Hawes gave a dissatisfied grunt.
"I hate moving prisoners out of the cells; but I suppose I shall get
you into trouble if I don't."
"Indeed!" said. the other, with an inquiring air; "how?"
"Parson threatens you very hard for letting the sick ones lie in their
cells," said Hawes slyly. "But never mind, old boy--I shall stand
your friend and the justices mine. We shall beat him yet," said Hawes,
assuming a firmness he did not feel lest this man should fall away
from him and perhaps bear witness against him.
"I think you have beat him already," replied the other calmly.
"What do you mean?"
"I have just come from Mr. Eden. He sent for me."
"What, isn't he well?"
"I wish he'd die! But there is no chance of that."
"Well, there is always a chance of a man dying who has got a bilious
"Why you don't mean he is seriously ill?" cried Hawes in excitement.
"I don't say that, but he has got a sharp attack."
Mr. Hawes examined the speaker's face. It was as legible as a book
from the outside. He went from the subject to one or two indifferent
matters, but he could not keep long from what was uppermost.
"Sawyer," said he, "you and I have always been good friends."
"Yes, Mr. Hawes."
"I have never been hard upon you. You ought to be here every day, but
the pay is small and I have never insisted on it, because I said he
can't afford to leave patients that pay."
"No, Mr. Hawes, and I am much obliged to you."
"Are you? Then tell me--between ourselves now--how ill is he?"
"He has got bilious fever consequent upon jaundice."
Hawes lowered his voice. "Is he in danger?"
"In danger? Why, no, not at present."
"Oh! then it is only an indisposition after all."
"It is a great deal more than that--it is fever and bile."
"Can't you tell me in two words how ill he is?"
"Not till I see how the case turns."
"When will you be able to say then?"
"When the disorder declares itself more fully."
Hawes exploded in an oath. "You humbugs of doctors couldn't speak
plain to save yourselves from hanging."
There was some truth in this ill-natured excuse. After fifteen years
given to the science of obscurity Mr. Sawyer literally could not speak
plain all in one moment.
The next morning there was no service in the chapel, the chaplain was
in bed. This spoke for itself, and Hawes wore a look of grim
satisfaction at the announcement.
But this was not all. In the afternoon came a letter from Mr. Williams
with a large inclosure signed by her majesty's secretary's secretary,
and written by her secretary's secretary's secretary.
Its precise contents will be related elsewhere. Its tendency may be
gathered from this.
Hawes had no sooner read it than exultation painted itself on his
"Close the infirmary and bring me the key. And you, Fry, put these
numbers on the cranks to-morrow." He scribbled with his pencil, and
gave him a long list of the proscribed.
No Mr. Eden shone now upon Mr. Robinson's solitude. He waited, and
waited, and hoped till the day ended, but no! The next day the same
thing. He longed for Mr. Eden's hour to come; it came, but not with it
came his one bit of sunshine, his excitement, his amusement, his
consolation, his friend, his brother, his all. And so one heavy day
succeeded another, and Robinson became fretful, and very, very sad.
One day, as he sat disconsolate and foreboding in his cell, he heard a
stranger's voice talking to Fry outside. And what was more strange,
Fry appeared to be inviting this person to inspect the cells. The next
moment his door was opened, and a figure peeped timidly into the cell
from behind Fry, whose arm she clutched in some anxiety. Robinson
looked up--it was Susan Merton. She did not instantly know him in his
prison dress and his curly hair cut short; he hung his head, and this
action and the recognition it implied made her recognize him. "Oh!"
cried she, "it is Mr. Robinson!"
The thief turned his face to the wall. Even he was ashamed before one
who had known him as Mr. Robinson; but the next moment he got up and
"Pray, Miss Merton, do me a favor--you had always a kind heart Ask
that man what has become of Mr. Eden--he will answer you."
"Mr. Robinson," cried Susan, "I have no need to ask Mr. Fry. I am
staying at Mr. Eden's house. He is very ill, Mr. Robinson."
"Ah! I feared as much! he never would have deserted me else. What is
"You may well say trouble! it is the prison that has fretted him to
death," cried Susan, half bitterly, half sorrowfully.
"But he will get well! it is not serious?" inquired Robinson
Fry pricked his ears.
"He is very ill, Mr. Robinson," and Susan sighed heavily.
"I'll pray for him. He has taught me to pray--all the poor fellows
will pray for him that know how. Miss Merton, good for nothing as I
am, I would die for Mr. Eden this minute if I could save his life by
Susan thought of this speech afterward. Now she but said, "I will tell
him what you say."
"And won't you bring me one word back from his dear mouth?"
"Yes! I will! good-by, Mr. Robinson." Robinson tried to say good-by,
but it stuck in his throat, Susan retired, and his cell seemed darker
Mr. Eden lay stricken with fever. He had been what most of us would
have called ill long before this. The day of Carter's crucifixion was
a fatal day to him. On that day for the first time he saw a
crucifixion without being sick after it. The poor soul congratulated
himself so on this; but there is reason to think that same sickness
acted as a safety-valve to his nature; when it ceased the bile
overflowed and mixed with his blood, producing that horrible complaint
jaundice. Even then if the causes of grief and wrong had ceased he
might perhaps have had no dangerous attack. But everything was against
him; constant grief, constant worry and constant preternatural
exertions to sustain others while drooping himself. Even those violent
efforts of will by which he thrust back for a time the approaches of
his malady told heavily upon him at last. The thorough-bred horse ran
much longer than a cocktail would, but he could not run forever.
He lay unshaven, hollow-eyed and sallow. Mrs. Davies and Susan watched
him by turns, except when he compelled them to go and take a little
rest or amusement. The poor thing's thoughts were never on himself,
even when he was light-headed, and this was often, though not for long
together. It was generally his poor prisoners, and what he was going
to do for them.
This is how Susan Merton came to visit Robinson. One day, seeing his
great interest in all that concerned the prison, and remembering there
was a book addressed to one of the officers, Susan, who longed to do
something, however small, to please him, determined to take this book
to its destination. Leaving Mrs. Davies with a strict injunction not
to stir from Mr. Eden's room till she came back, she went to the
prison and knocked timidly at the great door. It was opened instantly,
and as Susan fancied, fiercely, by a burly figure. Susan, suppressing
an inclination to run away, asked tremulously:
"Does Mr. Fry live here?"
"Can I speak to him?"
"Yes. Come in, miss."
Susan stepped in.
The man slammed the door.
Susan wished herself on its other side.
"My name is Fry. What is your pleasure with me?"
"Mr. Fry, I am so glad I have found you. I am come here from a friend
"From a friend of mine??!!" said Fry, with a mystified air.
"Yes; from Mr. Eden. Here is the book, Mr. Fry; poor Mr. Eden could
not bring it you himself, but you see he has written your name on the
cover with his own hand."
Fry took the book from Susan's hand, and in so doing observed that she
was lovely; so to make her a return for bringing him "Uncle Tom," and
for being so pretty, Fry for once in his life felt generous, and
repaid her by volunteering to show her the prison--indulgent Fry!
To his surprise Susan did not jump at this remuneration. On the
contrary, she said hastily:
"Oh! no! no! no!"
Then, seeing by his face that her new acquaintance thought her a
madwoman, she added:
"That is, yes! I think I should like to see it a little--a very
little--but if I do you must keep close by me, Mr. Fry."
"Why of course I shall keep with you," replied Fry somewhat
contemptuously. "No strangers admitted except in company of an
Susan still hung fire.
"But you mustn't go to show me the very wicked ones."
"Why they are all pretty much of a muchness for that."
"I mean the murderers--I couldn't bear such a sight."
"Got none," said Fry sorrowfully; "parted with the last of that sort
four months ago--up at eight down at nine you understand, miss."
Happily Susan did not understand this brutal allusion; and, not to
show her ignorance, she said nothing, but passed to a second
stipulation--"And, Mr. Fry, I know the men that set fire to Farmer
Dean's ricks are in this jail; I won't see them; they would give me
such a turn, for that seems to me the next crime after murder to
destroy the crops after the very weather has spared them."
Fry smiled superior; then he said sarcastically:
"Don't you be frightened, some of our lot are beauties; your friend
the parson is as fond of some of 'em as a cow is of her calf."
"Oh! then show me those ones." Fry took her to one or two cells.
Whenever he opened a cell door she always clutched him on both ribs,
and this tickled Fry, so did her simplicity.
At last he came to Robinson's cell.
"In here there is a sulky chap."
"Oh! then let us go on to the next."
"But this is one his reverence is uncommon fond of," said Fry, with a
sneer and a chuckle; so he flung open the door, and if the man had not
hung his head Susan would hardly have recognized in his uniform
corduroy and close-cropped hair the vulgar Adonis who had sat
glittering opposite her at table the last time they met.
After the interview which I have described, Susan gratified Fry by
praising the beautiful cleanliness of the prison, and returned,
leaving a pleasant impression even on this rough hide and "Uncle Tom"
When she got home she found her patient calm but languid.
While she was relating her encounter with Robinson, and her previous
acquaintance with him, the knock of a born fool at a sick man's door
made them all start. It was Rutila, with a long letter bearing an
Mr. Eden took it with brightening eye, read it, and ground it almost
convulsively in his hand. "Asses!" cried he; but the next moment he
groaned and bowed his head. Her majesty's secretary's secretary's
secretary had written to tell him that his appeal for an inquiry had
traveled out of the regular course; it ought to have been made in the
first instance to the visiting justices, whose business it was to
conduct such inquiries, and that it lay with these visiting justices
to apply to the Home Office for an extraordinary inquiry if they found
they could not deal with the facts in the usual way. The office,
therefore, had sent copies of his memorial to each of the visiting
justices, who at their next inspection of the jail would examine into
the alleged facts, and had been requested to insert the results in
their periodical report.
Mr. Eden sat up in bed, his eye glittering. "Bring me my
It was put on the bed before him, but with many kind injunctions not
to worry himself. He promised faithfully. He wrote to the Home Office
in this style:
"A question of life and death cannot be played with as you have
inconsiderately proposed; nor can a higher jurisdiction transfer an
appeal to a lower one without the appellant's consent. Such a course
is still more out of order when the higher judge is a salaried servant
of the State and the lower ones are amateurs. This was so self-evident
that I did not step out of the direct line to cast reflections upon
unpaid servants. You have not seen what is self-evident--you drive me,
therefore, to explanations.
"I offered you evidence that this jailer is a felon, who has
hoodwinked the visiting justices and has deceived you. But between you
and the justices is this essential difference: they have been
hoodwinked in spite of their own eyes, their own ears, and contact
with that mass of living and dying evidence, the prisoners. You have
been deceived without a single opportunity of learning the truth.
"Therefore I appealed, and do appeal, not to convicted incompetency,
but to those whose incompetency remains to be proved. Perhaps you will
understand me better if I put it thus: I still accuse the jailer of
more than a hundred felonious assaults upon prisoners, of attacks upon
their lives by physical torture, by hunger, thirst, preposterous
confinement in dark dungeons, and other illegal practices; and I now
advance another step and accuse the visiting justices of gross
dereliction of their duty, of neglecting to ascertain the real
practice of the jailer in some points, and in others of encouraging,
aiding and abetting him in open violations of the prison rules printed
and issued by Act of Parliament. Of these rules, which are the jail
code, I send you a copy. I note the practices of the jail by the side
of the rules of the jail. By comparing the two you may calculate the
amount of lawless cruelty perpetrated here in each single day; then
ask yourself whether an honest man who is on the spot can wait four or
five months till justice, crippled by routine, comes hobbling instead
of sweeping to their relief.
"For Heaven's sake, bring to bear upon a matter vital to the State
one-half the intelligence, zeal and sense of responsibility you will
throw this evening into some ambiguous question of fleeting policy of
speculative finance. Here are one hundred and eighty souls to whose
correction, cure and protection the State is pledged. No one of all
these lives is safe a single day. In six weeks I have saved two lives
that were gone but for me. I am now sick and enfeebled by the
exertions I have had to make to save lives, and am in no condition to
arrest the progress of destruction. I tell you that more lives will
fall if you do not come to my aid at once! and for every head that
falls from this hour I hold you responsible to God and the State.
"If I fail to prove my several accusations, as a matter of course I
shall be dismissed from my office deservedly; and this personal risk
entitles me not only to petition for, but to demand an inquiry into
the practice of ---- Jail. And in the queen's name, whose salaried
servant I am, I do demand it on the instant and on the spot."
Thus did flesh and blood address gutta-percha.
The excitement of writing this letter did the patient no good. A
reaction came, and that night his kind nurses were seriously alarmed
about him. They sent for the surgeon, who felt his pulse and his skin
and looked grave. However, he told them there was no immediate danger,
and wrote a fresh prescription.
The patient would eat nothing but bread and water and gruel; but he
took all the doctor's medicines, which were raking ones; only at each
visit and prescription he cross-examined him as to what effect he
hoped to produce by his prescription, and compared the man's
expectations with the result.
This process soon brought him to the suspicion that in his case
Aesculapius's science was guess-work. But we go on hoping and hoping
something from traditional remedies, even when they fail and fail and
fail before our eyes.
He was often light-headed, and vented schemes of charity and
benevolence ludicrous by their unearthly grandeur. One day he was more
than light-headed--he was delirious, and frightened his kind nurses;
and to this delirium succeeded great feebleness, and this day for the
first time Susan made up her mind that it was Heaven's will earth
should lose this man, of whom, in truth, earth was scarce worthy. She
came to his side and said tenderly,
"Let me do something for you. Shall I read to you, or sing you a
hymn?" Her voice had often soothed and done him good. "Tell me what I
can do for you!"
The man smiled gratefully, then looked imploringly in her eyes, and
said, "Dear Susan, go for me into the prison and pay Strutt and
Robinson each a visit. Strutt the longest, he is the oldest. Poor
things! they miss me sadly."
Susan made no foolish objection. She did what she was asked, and came
back and told him all they had said and all she had said; and how kind
everybody was to her in the prison; and how they had all asked how he
"They are very good," said he feebly.
Soon after he dosed; and Susan, who always wore a cheerful look to his
face, could now yield to her real feelings.
She sat at some little distance from the bed and tried to work, and
every now and then looked up to watch him, and again and again her
eyes were blinded; and she laid down her work, for her heart said to
her, "A few short days and you will see him no more."
Mrs. Davies, too, was grave and sad. She had made the house neat and
clean from cellar to garret, and now he who should have enjoyed it lay
there sick unto death.
"Susan," said she, "I doubt I have been sent here to set his house in
order against his--"
"Oh! don't tell me that," cried Susan, and she burst into a fit of
sobbing, for Mrs. Davies had harped her own fear.
"Take care, he is waking, Susan. He must not see us."
"Oh, no!" and the next moment she was by her patient's side with a
cheerful look and voice and manner well calculated to keep any male
heart from sinking, sick or well.
Heavy heart and hopeful face! such a nurse was Susan Merton. This kind
deception became more difficult every day. Her patient wasted and
wasted; and the anxious look that is often seen on a death-stricken
man's face showed itself. Mrs. Davies saw it and Susan saw it; but the
sick man himself as yet had never spoken of his decease; and both Mrs.
Davies and Susan often wondered that he did not seem to see his real
But one day it so happened that he was light-headed and greatly
excited, holding a conversation. His eye was flashing, and he spoke in
bursts, and then stopped a while and seemed to be listening in
irritation to some arguments with which he did not agree. The
enthusiast was building a prison in the air. A prison with a farm, a
school, and a manufactory attached. Here were to be combined the good
points of every system, and others of his own.
"Yes," said he, in answer to his imaginary companion, "there shall be
both separation and silence for those whose moral case it suits--for
all, perhaps, at first--but not for all always. Away with your
Morrison's pill-system; your childish monotony of moral treatment in
cases varying and sometimes opposed.
"Yes, but I would. I would allow a degree of intercourse between such
as were disposed to confirm each other in good. Watch them? why, of
course--and closely, too.
"Intelligent labor for every creature in the place. No
tickets-of-leave to let the hypocritical or self-deceiving ones loose
upon the world.
"No, I test their repentance first with a little liberty.
"How? Why fly them with a string before I let them fly free!
"Occupation provided outside the prison-gates; instead of
ticket-of-leave let the candidate work there on parole and come into
the prison at night.
"Some will break parole and run away? All the better. Then you know
their real character. Telegraph them. You began by photographing
them--send their likenesses to every town--catch them--cell them.
"Indeed! And pray what would these same men have done had you given
them the ticket-of-leave instead?
"By the present plan your pseudo-convert commits a dozen crimes before
his hypocrisy is suspected; by ours a single offense warns you and
arms you against him.
"Systems avail less than is supposed. For good or ill all depends on
your men--not your machinery.
"We have got rid of the old patch that rotted our new garment. When I
first was chaplain of a jail--"
His mind had gone forward some years. "Then we were mad--thought a new
system could be worked by men of the past, by jailers and turnkeys
belonging to the dark and brutal age that came before ours.
"Those dark days are passed. Now we have really a governor and warders
instead of jailers and turnkeys. The nation has discovered these are
high offices, not mean ones.
"Yes, Lepel, yes! Our officers are men picked out of all England for
intelligence and humanity. They co-operate with me. Our jail is one of
the nation's eyes--it is a school, thank Heaven, it is not a
dungeon!--I am in bed!"
With these last words he had come to himself, and oh, the sad
contrast! Butcherly blockheads in these high places, and himself lying
sick and powerless, unable to lift a hand for the cause he loved.
The sigh that burst from him seemed to tear his very heart; but the
very next moment he put his hands humbly together and said, "God's
will be done!" Yet one big tear gathered in his lion eye and spite of
all trickled down his cheek while he said, "God's will be done."
Susan saw it, and turned quickly away and hid her face; but he called
her, and though his lip quivered his voice was pretty firm.
"Dear friend, God can always find instruments. The good work will be
done, though not by me."
So then Susan judged, by these few words, and the tear that trickled
from his closed eyes, that he saw what others saw and did not look to
She left the room in haste not to agitate him by the sorrow she could
no longer restrain or conceal. The patient lay quiet, languidly
Now about four o'clock in the afternoon the surgeon came to the door;
but what surprised Susan was that a man accompanied him whom she only
just knew by sight, and who had never been there before--the turnkey
Hodges. The pair spoke together in a low tone, and Susan, who was
looking down from an upper window, could not hear what they said; but
the discussion lasted a minute or two before they rang the bell. Susan
came down herself and admitted them: but as she was leading the way
upstairs her aunt suddenly bounced out of the parlor looking
unaccountably red, and said:
"I will go up with them, Susan."
Susan said, "If you like, aunt," but felt some little surprise at Mrs.
Davies's brisk manner.
At the sick man's door Mrs. Davies paused, and said dryly, with a look
at Hodges, "Who shall I say is come with you?"
"Mr. Hodges, one of the warders, is come to inquire after his
reverence's health," replied the surgeon smoothly.
"I must ask him first whether he will receive a stranger."
"Admit him," was Mr. Eden's answer. The men entered the room, and were
welcomed with a kind but feeble smile from the sick man.
"Sit down, Hodges."
The surgeon felt his pulse and wrote a prescription; for it is a
tradition of the elders that at each visit the doctor must do some
overt act of medicine. After this he asked the patient how he felt.
Mr. Eden turned an eloquent look upon him in reply.
"I must speak to Hodges," said he. "Come near me, Hodges," said he in
a kind voice, "perhaps I may not have any more opportunities of giving
you a word of friendly exhortation." Here a short, dissatisfied,
contemptuous grunt was heard at the window-seat.
"Did you speak, Mrs. Davies?"
"No, I didn't," was the somewhat sharp reply.
"We should improve every occasion, Mrs. Davies, and I want this poor
man to know that a dying man may feel happy and hope everything from
God's love and mercy, if he has loved and pitied his brothers and
sisters of Adam's race."
When he called himself a dying man, Hodges, who was looking
uncomfortable and at the floor, raised his head, and the surgeon and
he interchanged a rapid look; it was observed, though not by Mr. Eden.
That gentleman, seeing Hodges wear an abashed look, which he
misunderstood, and aiming to improve him for the future, not punish
him for the past, said, "But first let me thank you for coming to see
me," and with these words he put his hand out of the bed with a kind
smile to Hodges. His gentle intention was roughly interrupted. Mrs.
Davies flung down her work and came like a flaming turkey-cock across
the floor in a moment, and seized his arm and flung it back into the
"No, ye don't! ye shan't give your hand to any such rubbish."
"Yes, Mrs. Davies; you don't know what they've come here for--I
overheard ye at the door! You have got an enemy in that filthy jail,
haven't you, sir? Well! this man comes from him to see how bad you
are--they were colloguing together backward and forward ever so long,
and I heard 'em--it is not out of any kindness or good will in the
world. Now suppose you march out the way you came in!" screamed Mrs.
"Mrs. Davies, be quiet and let me speak?"
"Of course I will, sir," said the woman with a ludicrously sudden calm
and coaxing tone.
There was a silence; Mr. Eden eyed the men. Small guilt peeped from
them by its usual little signs.
Mr. Eden's lip curled magnificently.
"So you did not come to see me--you were sent by that man. (Mrs.
Davies, be quiet; curiosity is not a crime, like torturing the
defenseless.) Mr. Hawes sent you that you might tell him how soon his
victims are like to lose their only earthly defender."
The men colored and stammered; Mrs. Davies covered her face with her
apron and rocked herself on her chair.
Mr. Eden flowed gently on.
"Tell your master that I have settled all my worldly affairs, and
caused all my trifling debts to be paid.
"Tell him that I have made my will! (I have provided in it for the
turnkey Evans--he will know why.)
"Tell him you found my cheeks fallen away, my eye hollow, and my face
"Tell him my Bible was by my side, and even the prison was mingling
with other memories as I drifted from earth and all its thorns and
tears. All was blunted but the Christian's faith and trust in his
"Tell him that there is a cold dew upon my forehead.
"Tell him that you found me by the side of the river Jordan, looking
across the cold river to the heavenly land, where they who have been
washed in the blood of the Lamb walk in white garments, and seem, even
as I gaze, to welcome and beckon me to join them.
"And then tell him," cried he, in a new voice like a flash of
lightning, "that he has brought me back to earth. You have come and
reminded me that if I die a wolf is waiting to tear my sheep. I thank
you, and I tell you," roared he, "as the Lord liveth and as my soul
liveth, I will not die but live--and do the Lord's work--and put my
foot yet on that caitiff's neck who sent you to inspect my decaying
body, you poor tools--THE DOOR!"
He was up in the bed by magic, towering above them all, and he pointed
to the door with a tremendous gesture and an eye that flamed. Mrs.
Davies caught the electric spark, in a moment she tore the door open,
and the pair bundled down the stairs before that terrible eye and
"Susan--Susan!" Susan heard his elevated voice, and came running in in
"They say there is no such thing as friendship between a man and a
woman. Prove to me this is a falsehood!"
"It is, sir."
"Do me a service."
"Ah!--what is it?"
"Go a journey for me."
"I will go all round England for you, Mr. Eden," cried the girl,
panting and flushing.
"My writing-desk!--it is to a village sixty miles from this, but you
will be there in four hours; in that village lives the man who can
cure me, if any one can."
"What will you take with you?" asked Mrs. Davies, all in a bustle.
"A comb and brush, and a chemise."
"I'll have them down in a twinkling."
The note was written.
"Take this to his house, see him, tell him the truth, and bring him
with you to-morrow--it will be fifty pounds out of his pocket to leave
his patients--but I think he will come. Oh, yes! he will come--for
auld lang syne."
"Good-by, Mr. Eden--God bless you, aunt. I want to be gone; I shall
bring him if I have to carry him in my arms." And with these words
Susan was gone.
"Now, good Mrs. Davies, give me the Bible. Often has that book soothed
the torn nerves as well as the bleeding heart--and let no one come
here to grieve or vex me for twenty-four hours--and fling that man's
draught away, I want to live."
Mrs. Davies had heard Hodges and Fry aright. Mr. Eden by her clew had
interpreted the visit aright, with this exception, that he overrated
his own importance in Mr. Hawes's eyes. For Hawes mocked at the
chaplain's appeal to the Home Office ever since the office had made
his tools the virtual referees.
Still a shade of uneasiness remained. During the progress of this long
duel Eden had let fall two disagreeable hints. One was that he would
spend a thousand pounds in setting such prisoners as survived Hawes's
discipline to indict him, and the other that he would appeal to the
This last threat had touched our man of brass; for if there is one
thing upon earth that another thing does not like, your moral
malefactor, who happens to be out of the law's reach, hates and
shivers at the New Bailey in Printing-house Yard. So, upon the whole,
Mr. Hawes thought that the best thing Mr. Eden could do would be to go
to heaven without any more fuss.
"Yes, that will be the best for all parties."
He often questioned the doctor in his blunt way how soon the desired
event might be expected to come off, if at all. The doctor still
answered per ambages, ut mos oraculis.
"I see I must go myself--No, I won't, I'll send Fry. Ah, here is
Hodges. Go and see the parson, and come back and tell me whether he is
like to live or like to die. Mr. Sawyer here can't speak English about
a patient; he would do it to oblige me if he could, but--him, he
"Don't much like the job," demurred Hodges sulkily.
"What matters what you like? You must all do things you don't like in
a prison, or get into trouble."
More accustomed to obey than to reflect, Hodges yielded, but at Mr.
Eden's very door, his commander being now out of sight, his reluctance
revived; and this led to an amicable discussion in which the surgeon
made him observe how very ferocious and impatient of opposition the
governor had lately become.
"He can get either of us dismissed if we offend him."
So the pair of cowards did what they were bid--and got themselves trod
upon a bit. It only remains to be said that as they trudged back
together a little venom worked in their little hearts. They hated both
duelists--one for treating them like dogs, the other for sending them
where they had got treated like dogs; and they disliked each other for
seeing them treated like dogs. One bitterness they escaped, it did not
occur to them to hate themselves for being dogs.
If you force a strong-willed stick out of its bent, with what fury it
flies back ad statum quo or a little farther when the coercion is
removed. So hard-grained Hawes, his fears of the higher powers
removed, returned with a spring to his intermitted habits.
There was no incarnate obstacle now to "discipline." There was a
provisional chaplain, but that chaplain was worthy Mr. Jones, who
having visited the town for a month, had consented for a week or two
to supply the sick man's place, and did supply it so far as a good
clock can replace a man. Viewing himself now as something between an
officer and a guest he was less likely to show fight than ever.
Earnest Hawes pilloried, flung into black dungeons, stole beds and
gas-light, crushed souls with mysterious threats, and bodies with a
horrible mixture of those tortures that madden and those other
tortures that exhaust. No Spanish Inquisitor was ever a greater adept
at this double move than earnest Hawes. The means by which he could
make any prisoner appear refractory have already been described, but
in the case of one stout fellow whom he wanted to discipline he now
went a step farther. He slipped into the yard and slyly clogged one of
the cranks with a weight which he inserted inside the box and attached
to the machinery. This contrivance would have beaten Hercules and made
him seem idle to any one not in the secret. In short this little
blockhead bade fair to become one of Mr. Carlyle's great men. He
combined the earnest sneak with the earnest butcher.
Barbarous times are not wholly expunged as book-makers affect to fear.
Legislators, moralists and writers (I don't include book-makers under
that title) try to clap their extinguishers on them with God's help;
but they still contrive to shoot some lurid specimens of themselves
into civilized epochs. Such a black ray of the narrow, self-deceiving,
stupid, bloody past was earnest Hawes.
Not a tithe of his exploits can he recorded here, for though he played
upon many souls and bodies, he repeated the same notes--hunger,
thirst, the blackness of darkness, crucifixion, solitude, loss of
sleep--so that a description of all his feats would be a catalogue of
names subjected to the above tortures, and be dry as well as
I shall describe therefore only the grand result of all, and a case or
two that varied by a shade the monotony of discipline. He kept one
poor lad without any food at all from Saturday morning till Sunday at
twelve o'clock, and made him work; and for his Sunday dinner gave the
famished wretch six ounces of bread and a can of water. He strapped
one prisoner up in the pillory for twenty-four hours, and directed him
to be fed in it. This prisoner had a short neck, and the cruel collar
would not let him eat, so that the tortures of Tantalus were added to
crucifixion. The earnest beast put a child of eleven years old into a
strait-waistcoat for three days, then kept him three days on bread and
water, and robbed him of his bed and his gas for fourteen days. We
none of us know the meaning of these little punishments so vast beyond
our experience; but in order to catch a glimmer of the meaning of the
last item, we must remember first that the cells admit but little
light, and that the gas is the prisoner's sunlight for the hour or two
of rest from hard toil that he is allowed before he is ordered to bed,
and next that a prisoner has but two sets of clothes--those he stands
upright in, and his bed-clothes; these are rolled up inside the bed
every morning. When therefore a prisoner was robbed of his bed, he was
robbed of the means of keeping himself warm as well as of that rest
without which life soon comes to a full stop.
Having victimized this child's tender body as aforesaid Mr. Hawes made
a cut at his soul. He stopped his chapel.
One ought not to laugh at a worm coming between another worm and his
God and saying, "No! you shall not hear of God to-day--you have
displeased a functionary whose discipline takes precedence of His;"
and it is to be observed, that though this blockhead did not in one
sense comprehend the nature of his own impious act any more than a
Hottentot would, yet as broad as he saw he saw keenly.
The one ideaed-man wanted to punish, and deprivation of chapel is a
bitter punishment to a prisoner under the separate and silent system.
And lay this down as a rule, whenever in this tale a punishment is
recorded as having been inflicted by Hawes, however light it may
appear to you who never felt it, bring your intelligence to bear on
it--weigh the other conditions of a prisoner's miserable existence it
was added to, and in every case you will find it was a blow with a
sledge-hammer; in short, to comprehend Hawes and his fraternity it is
necessary to make a mental effort and comprehend the meaning of the
The first execution of biped Carter took place about a week after Mr.
Eden was laid prostrate.
It is not generally very difficult to outwit an imbecile, and the
governor enmeshed Carter, made him out refractory and crucified him.
The poor soul did not hallo at first, for he remembered they had not
cut his throat the last time, as he thought they were going to do (he
had seen a pig first made fast--then stuck). But when the bitter
cramps came on he began to howl and cry most frightfully; so that
Hawes, who was talking to the surgeon in the center of the building,
started and came at once to the place. Mr. Sawyer came with him. They
tried different ways of quieting him, in vain. They went to a
distance, as Mr. Eden had suggested, but it was no use; he was howling
now from pain, not fear.
"Gag him!" roared Hawes, "it is scandalous; I hate a noise."
"Better loose him," suggested the surgeon.
Hawes blighted him with a look. "What; and let him beat me?"
"There is no gag in the prison," said Fry.
"A pretty prison without a gag in it!" said Hawes; the only reflection
he was ever heard to cast on his model jail; then, with sudden
ferocity he turned on Sawyer. "What is the use of you; don't you know
anything for your money? can't all your science stop this brute's
Science thus blandly invoked came to the aid of inhumanity.
"Humph! have you got any salt?"
"Salt!" roared Hawes, "what is the use of salt? Oh! ay, I see! run and
get a pound, and look sharp with it."
They brought the salt.
"Now, will you hold your noise?--then, give it him."
The scientific operator watched his opportunity, and when the poor
biped's mouth was open howling, crammed a handful of salt into it. He
spat it out as well as he could, but some of it dissolved by the
saliva found its way down his throat. The look of amazement and
distress that followed was most amusing to the operators.
"That was, a good idea, doctor," cried Hawes.
The triumph was premature. Carter's cries were choked for a moment by
his astonishment. But the next, finding a fresh torture added to the
first, he howled louder than ever. Then the governor seized the salt,
powdered a good handful, and avoiding his teeth crammed it suddenly
into the poor creature's mouth. He spat it furiously out, and the
brine fell like sea-spray upon all the operators, especially on Hawes,
who swore at the biped, and called him a beast, and promised him a
long spell of the cross for his nastiness. After Hawes, Fry must take
his turn; and so now these three creatures, to whom Heaven had given
reason, combined their strength and their sacred reason to torture and
degrade one of those whom the French call "betes du bon Dieu"--a
They respected neither the hapless wight nor his owner. Whenever he
opened his mouth with the instinct that makes animals proclaim their
hurts and appeal for pity on the chance of a heart being within
hearing, then did these show their sense of his appeal thus: One of
the party crammed the stinging salt down his throat; the others
watched him, and kept clear of the brine that he spat vehemently out,
and a loud report of laughter followed instantly each wild grimace and
convulsion of fear and torture. Thus they employed their reason, and
flouted as well as tortured him who had less.
"Haw! haw! haw! haw! haw!"
No lightning came down from heaven upon these merry souls. The idiot's
spittle did not burn them when it fell on them. ALL THE WORSE FOR
They left Carter for hours in the pillory, and soon a violent thirst
was added to his sufferings. Prolonged pain brings on cruel thirst,
and many a poor fellow suffered horribly from it during the last hours
of his pillory. But in this case the salt he had swallowed made it
more vehement. Most men go through life and never know thirst. It is a
frightful torture, as any novice would have learned who had seen
Carter at six in the evening of this cruel day. The poor wretch's
throat was so parched he could hardly breathe. His eyes were all
bloodshot and his livid tongue lolled stringless and powerless out of
his gasping mouth. He would have given diamonds for drops of water.
The earnest man going his rounds of duty saw his pitiable state and
forbade relief till the number of hours he had appointed for his
punishment should be completed. Discipline before all!
There was one man in the jail, just one, who could no longer view this
barbarity unmoved. His heart had been touched and his understanding
wakened, and he saw these prodigies of cruelty in their true light.
But he was afraid of Hawes, and unfortunately the others by an
instinct felt their comrade was no longer one of them and watched him
closely. But his intelligence was awakened with his humanity. After
much thought he hit upon this; he took the works out of his watch--an
old hunting watch--and stolling into the yard, dipped the case into
the bucket, then closed it; and soon after getting close to Carter,
and between him and Fry, he affected to examine the prisoner's collar,
and then hastily gave him a watchful of cold water. Carter sucked it
with frightful avidity, and small as the draught was no mortal can say
what consequences were averted by it.
Evans was dreadfully out of spirits. His ally lay dying and his enemy
triumphed. He looked to be turned out of the jail at the next meeting
of magistrates. But when he had given the idiot his watch to drink out
of an unwonted warmth and courage seemed to come into his heart.
This touch of humanity coming suddenly among the most hellish of all
fiends--men of system--was like the little candle in a window that
throws its beams so far when we are bewildered in a murky night. For
the place was now a moral coal-hole. The dungeons at Rome that lie
under the wing of Roderick Borgia's successors are not a more awful
remnant of antiquity or a fouler blot on the age, on the law, on the
land, and on human nature.
A thick, dark pall of silence and woe hung over its huge walls. If a
voice was heard above a whisper it was sure to be either a cry of
anguish or a fierce command to inflict anguish. Two or three were
crucified every day; the rest expected crucifixion from morning till
night. No man felt safe an hour; no man had the means of averting
punishment; all were at the mercy of a tyrant. Threats frightful,
fierce and mysterious hung like weights over every soul and body.
Whenever a prisoner met an officer he cowered and hurried crouching by
like a dog passing a man with a whip in his hand; and as he passed he
trembled at the thunder of his own footsteps, and wished to Heaven
they would not draw so much attention to him by ringing so clear
through that huge silent tomb. When an officer met the governor he
tried to slip by with a hurried salute lest he should be stopped,
abused and sworn at.
The earnest man fell hardest upon the young; boys and children were
favorite victims; but his favorites of all were poor Robinson and
little Josephs. These were at the head of the long list he crucified,
he parched, he famished, he robbed of prayer, of light, of rest and
hope. He disciplined the sick; he closed the infirmary again. That
large room, furnished with comforts, nurses and air, was an
"A new prison is a collection of cells," said Hawes. The infirmary was
a spot in the sun. The exercise yard in this prison was a twelve-box
stable for creatures concluded to be wild beasts. The labor-yard was a
fifteen-stall stable for ditto. The house of God an eighty-stalled
stable, into which the wild beasts were dispersed for public worship
made private. Here, in early days, before Hawes was ripe, they
assembled apart and repeated prayers, and sang hymns on Sunday. But
Hawes found out that though the men were stabled apart their voices
were refractory and mingled in the air, and with their voices their
hearts might, who knows? He pointed this out to the justices, who
shook their skulls and stopped the men's responses and hymns. These
animals cut the choruses out of the English liturgy with as little
ceremony and as good effect as they would have cut the choruses out of
Handel's "Messiah," if the theory they were working had been a musical
instead of a moral one.
So far so good; but the infirmary had escaped Justice Shallow and
Justice Woodcock. Hawes abolished that.
Discipline before all. Not because a fellow is sick is he to break
So the sick lay in their narrow cells gasping in vain for fresh air,
gasping in vain for some cooling drink, or some little simple delicacy
to incite their enfeebled appetite.
The dying were locked up at the fixed hour for locking up, and found
dead at the fixed hour for opening. How they had died--no one knew. At
what hour they had died--no one knew. Whether in some choking struggle
a human hand might have saved them by changing a suffocating position
or the like--no one knew.
But this all knew--that these our sinful brethren had died, not like
men, but like vultures in the great desert. They were separated from
their kith and kin, who however brutal would have said a kind word and
done a tender thing or two for them at that awful hour; and nothing
allowed them in exchange, not even the routine attentions of a prison
nurse; they were in darkness and alone when the king of terrors came
to them and wrestled with them. All men had turned their backs on
them, no creature near to wipe the dews of death, to put a cool hand
to the brow, or soften the intensity of the last sad sigh that carried
their souls from earth. Thus they passed away, punished lawlessly by
the law till they succumbed, and then, since they were no longer food
for torture, ignored by the law and abandoned by the human race.
They locked up one dying man at eight o'clock. At midnight the thirst
of death came on him. He prayed for a drop of water, but there was
none to hear him. Parched and gasping the miserable man got out of bed
and groped for his tin mug, but before he could drink the death agony
seized him. When they unlocked him in the morning they found him a
corpse on the floor with the mug in his hand and the water spilled on
the floor. They wrenched the prison property out of its dead hand, and
flung the carcass itself upon the bed as if it had been the clay cast
of a dog, not the remains of a man.
All was of a piece. The living tortured; the dying abandoned; the dead
kicked out of the way. Of these three the living were the most
unfortunate, and among the living Robinson and Josephs. Never since
the days of Cain was existence made more bitter to two hapless
creatures than to these--above all to Josephs.
His day began thus: Between breakfast and dinner he was set five
thousand revolutions of a heavy crank; when he could not do it his
dinner was taken away and a few crumbs of bread and a can of water
given him instead. Between his bread and water time and six o'clock if
the famished, worn-out lad could not do five thousand more revolutions
and make up the previous deficiency he was punished ad libitum. As the
whole thing from first to last was beyond his powers, he never
succeeded in performing these preposterous tasks. He was threatened,
vilified and tortured every day and every hour of it.
Human beings can bear great sufferings if you give them periods of
ease between; and beneficent nature allows for this, and when she
means us to suffer short of death she lashes us at intervals; were it
otherwise we should succumb under a tithe of what we suffer
But Hawes, besides his cruelty, was a noodle. He belonged to a knot of
theorists into whose hands the English jails are fast falling; a set
of shallow dreamers, who being greater dunces and greater asses than
four men out of every six that pass you in Fleet Street or Broadway at
any hour, think themselves wiser than Nature and her Author. Josephs
suffered body and spirit without intermission. The result was that his
flesh withered on his bones; his eyes were dim and seemed to lie at
the bottom of two caverns; he crawled stiffly and slowly instead of
walking. He was not sixteen years of age, yet Hawes had extinguished
his youth and blotted out all its signs but one. Had you met this
figure in the street you would have said:
"What, an old man and no beard?"
One day as Robinson happened to be washing the corridor with his
beaver up, what he took for a small but aged man passed him, shambling
stiffly, with joints stiffened by perpetual crucifixion and
rheumatism, that had ensued from perpetually being wetted through.
This figure had his beaver down. At sight of Robinson he started and
instantly went down on his knee and untied both shoe strings; then
while tying them again slowly he whispered:
"Robinson, I am Josephs; don't look toward me."
Robinson, scrubbing the wall with more vigor than before, whispered,
"How are they using you now, boy?"
"Hush! don't speak so loud. Robinson--they are killing me.
"The ruffians! They are trying all they know to kill me, too."
"Hist!" said Robinson as Josephs crept away; and having scraped off a
grain of whitewash with his nail he made a little white mark on his
trouser just above his calf, for Josephs to know him by, should they
meet next time with visors both down. Josephs gave a slight and rapid
signal of intelligence as he disappeared. Two days after this they met
on the staircase. The boy, who now looked at every prisoner's trowsers
for the white mark, recognized Robinson at some distance and began to
speak before they met.
"I can't go on much longer like this."
"No more can I."
"I shall go to father."
"Why where is he?"
"He is dead."
"I don't care how soon I go there either, but not till I have sent
Hawes on before--not for all the world. Pass me, and then come back."
They met again.
"Keep up your heart, boy, till his reverence gets well, or goes to
heaven. If he lives he will save us somehow. If he dies--I'll tell you
a secret. I know where there is a brick I think I can loosen. I mean
to smash that beast's skull with it, and then you will be all right,
and my heart will feel like a prince."
"Oh! don't do that," said Josephs piteously. "Better far us he should
murder us than we him."
"Murder!" cried Robinson contemptuously. And there was no time to say
After this many days passed before these two could get a syllable
together. But one day after chapel as the men were being told off to
their several tasks Robinson recognized the boy by his figure, and
jogging his elbow withdrew a little apart; Josephs followed him, and
this time Robinson was the first speaker.
"We shall never see Mr. Eden alive again, boy," said he in a faltering
voice. Then in a low gloomy tone he muttered, "I have loosened the
brick. The day I lose all hope that day I send Hawes home." And the
thief pointed toward the cellar.
"The day you have no more hope, Robinson; that day has come to me this
fortnight and more. He tells me every day he will make my life hell to
me, and I am sure it has been nothing else ever since I came here."
"Keep up your heart, boy; he hasn't long to live."
"He will live too long for me. I can't stay here any longer. You and I
shan't often chat together again; perhaps never."
"Don't talk so, laddie. Keep up your heart--for my sake."
One bitter tearing sob was all the reply. And so these two parted.
This was just after breakfast. At dinner-time Josephs, not having
performed an impossible task, was robbed of his dinner. A little bread
and water was served out to him in the yard, and he was set on the
crank again with fearful menaces. In particular Mr. Hawes repeated his
favorite threat--"I'll make your life hell to you." Josephs groaned;
but what could a boy of fifteen do, overtasked and famished for a
month past and fitter now for a hospital than for hard labor of any
sort? At three o'clock his progress on the crank was so slow that Mr.
Hawes ordered him to be crucified on the spot.
His obedient myrmidons for the fiftieth time seized the lad and
crushed him in the jacket, throttled him in the collar, and pinned him
to the wall, and this time, the first time for a long while, the
prisoner remonstrated loudly.
"Why not kill me at once and put me out of my misery!"
"Hold your tongue."
"You know I can't do the task you set me. You know it as well as I
"Hold your tongue, you insolent young villain. Strap him tighter,
"Oh no! no! no! don't go to strap me tighter or you will cut me in
half--don't, Mr. Fry. I will hold my tongue, sir." Then he turned his
hollow, mournful eyes on Hawes and said gently, "It can't last much
longer, you know."
"It shall last till I break you, you obstinate, whining dog. You are
hardly used, are you? Wait till to-morrow. I'll show you that I have
only been playing with you as yet. But I have got a punishment in
store for you that will make you wish you were in hell."
Hawes stood over the martyr fiercely threatening him. The martyr shut
his eyes. It seemed as though the enraged Hawes would end by striking
him. He winced with his eyes. He could not wince with any other part
of his body, so tight was it jammed together and jammed against the
Hawes however did but repeat his threat of some new torture on the
morrow that should far eclipse all he had yet endured; and shaking his
fist at his helpless body left him with his torture.
One hour of bitter, racking, unremitting anguish had hardly rolled
over this young head ere his frame, weakened by famine and perpetual
violence, began to give the usual signs that he would soon sham--swoon
we call it when it occurs to any but a prisoner. As my readers have
never been in Mr. Hawes's man-press, and as attempts have been made to
impose on the inexperience of the public and represent the man-press
as restriction not torture, I will shortly explain why sooner or later
all the men that were crucified in it ended by shamming.
Were you ever seized at night with a violent cramp? Then you have
instantly with a sort of wild and alarmed rapidity changed the posture
which had cramped you; ay though the night was ever so cold you have
sprung out of bed sooner than lie cramped. If the cramp would not go
in less than half a minute that half-minute was long and bitter. As
for existing cramped half an hour, that you never thought possible.
Imagine now the severest cramp you ever felt artificially prolonged
for hours and hours. Imagine yourself cramped in a vise, no part of
you movable a hair's breadth, except your hair and your eyelids.
Imagine the fierce cramp growing and growing, and rising like a tide
of agony higher and higher above nature's endurance, and you will
cease to wonder that a man always sunk under Hawes's man-press. Now,
then, add to the cramp a high circular saw raking the throat, jacket
straps cutting and burning the flesh of the back--add to this the
freezing of the blood in the body deprived so long of all motion
whatever (for motion of some sort or degree is a condition of
vitality), and a new and far more rational wonder arises, that any man
could be half an hour cut, sawed, crushed, cramped, Mazeppa'd thus,
without shamming--still less be four, six, eight hours in it, and come
out a living man.
The young martyr's lips were turning blue, his face was twitching
convulsively, when a word was unexpectedly put in for him by a
The turnkey Evans had been half sullenly half sorrowfully watching him
for some minutes past.
A month or two ago the lips of a prisoner turning blue and his skin
twitching told Evans nothing. He saw these things without seeing them.
He was cruel from stupidity--from blockhead to butcher there is but a
step. Like the English public he _realized_ nothing where prisoners
were concerned. But Mr. Eden had awakened his intelligence, and his
heart waked with it naturally.
Now when he saw lips turning blue and eyes rolling in sad despair, and
skin twitching convulsively, it occurred to him--"this creature must
be suffering very badly," and the next step was "let me see what is
hurting him so."
Evans now stood over Josephs and examined him. "Mr. Fry," said he
doggedly, "is not this overdoing it?"
"What d'ye mean, we are to obey orders, I suppose?"
"Of course, but there was no need to draw the jacket straps so tight
as all this. Boy's bellows can't hardly work for 'em."
He now passed his hand round the hollow of the lad's back.
"I thought so," cried he; "I can't get my finger between the straps
and the poor fellow's flesh, and, good heavens I can feel the skin
rising like a ridge on each side of the straps; it is a black, burning
shame to use any Christian like this."
These words were hardly out of the turnkey's mouth when a startling
cry came suddenly from poor Josephs; a sudden, wild, piercing scream
of misery. In that bitter, despairing cry burst out the pent-up
anguish of weeks, and the sense of injustice and cruelty more than
human. The poor thing gave this one terrible cry. Heaven forbid that
you should hear such a one in life, as I hear his in my heart, and
then he fell to sobbing as if his whole frame would burst.
They were not much, these rough words of sympathy, but they were the
first--the first words, too, of humanity and reason a turnkey had
spoken in his favor since he came into this hell. Above all, the first
in which it had ever been hinted or implied that his flesh was human
flesh. The next moment he began to cry, but that was not so easy. He
soon lost his breath and couldn't cry though his very life depended on
it. Tears gave relief. Dame Nature said, "Cry, my suffering son, cry
now, and relieve that heart swelling with cruelty and wrong."
But Hawes's infernal machine said, "No, you shall not cry. I give you
no room to cry in." The cruel straps jammed him so close his swelling
heart could but half heave. The jagged collar bit his throat so hard
he could but give three or four sobs and then the next choked him. The
struggle between Nature panting and writhing for relief, and the
infernal man-press, was so bitter strong that the boy choked and
blackened and gasped as one in the last agony.
"Undo him," cried Evans hastily, "or we shall kill him among us."
"Bucket," said the experienced Fry quite coolly.
The bucket was at hand--its contents were instantly discharged over
A cry like a dying hare--two or three violent gasps--and he was quiet,
all but a strong shiver that passed from head to foot; only with the
water that now trickled from his hair down his face scalding tears
from his young eyes fell to the ground undistinguished from the water
by any eye but God's.
At six o'clock Hawes came into the yard and ordered Fry to take him
down. Fry took this opportunity of informing against Evans for his
"He will pay for that along with the rest," said Hawes with an oath.
Then he turned on Josephs, who halted stiffly by him on his way to his
"I'll make your life hell to you, you young vagabond--you are hardly
used, are you? all you have ever known isn't a stroke with a feather
to what I'll make you know by-and-by. Wait till to-morrow comes, you
shall see what I can do when I am put to it."
Josephs sobbed, but answered nothing, and crawled sore, stiff,
dripping, shivering to his cell. In that miserable hole he would at
least be at peace.
He found the gas lighted. He was glad, for he was drenched through and
bitterly cold. He crept up to the little gaslight and put his dead
white hands over it and got a little warmth into them; he blessed this
spark of light and warmth; he looked lovingly down on it, it was his
only friend in the jail, his companion in the desolate cell. He wished
he could gather it into his bosom; then it would warm his heart and
his blighted flesh and aching, shivering bones.
While he hung shivering over his spark of light and warmth and
comfort, a key was put into his door. "Ah! here's supper," thought he,
"and I am so hungry." It was not supper, it was Fry who came in
empty-handed, leaving the door open. Fry went to his gaslight and put
his finger and thumb on the screw.
"Oh! it burns all right, Mr. Fry," said Josephs, "it won't go any
higher, thank you."
"No, it won't," said Fry dryly, and turned it out, leaving the cell in
"There, I told you so," said Josephs pettishly, "now you have been and
turned it out."
"Yes, I have been and turned it out," replied Fry with a brutal laugh,
"and it won't be turned on again for fourteen days, so the governor
says, however, and I suppose he knows," and Fry went out chuckling.
Josephs burst out sobbing and almost screaming at this last stroke; it
seemed to hurt him more than his fiercer tortures. He sobbed so wildly
and so loud that Mr. Jones, passing on the opposite corridor, heard
him and beckoned to Evans to open the cell.
They found the boy standing in the middle of his dungeon shaking with
cold in his drenched clothes and sobbing with his whole body. It was
frightful to see and hear the agony and despair of one so young in
years, so old in misery.
Mr. Jones gave him words of commonplace consolation. Mr. Jones tried
to persuade him that patience was the best cure.
"Be patient, and do not irritate the governor any more--the storm will
He seemed to Josephs as one that mocketh. Jones's were such little
words to fling in the face of a great despair; to chatter unreasonable
consolation was to mock his unutterable misery of soul and body.
Mr. Jones was one of those who sprinkle a burning mountain with a
teaspoonful of milk and water, and then go away and make sure they
have put it out. When he was gone with this impression, Evans took
down the boy's bed and said:
"Don't ye cry now like that; it makes me ill to hear any Christian cry
"Oh, Mr. Evans! oh! oh! oh! oh! What have I done? Oh, my mother! my
mother! my mother!"
Evans winced. What! had he a mother, too? If she could see him now!
and perhaps he was her darling though he was a prisoner. He shook the
bed-clothes out and took hold of the shivering boy and with kind force
made him lie down; then he twisted the clothes tight round him.
"You will get warm, if you will but lie quiet and not think about it."
Josephs did what he was bid. He could not still his sobs, but he
turned his mournful eyes on Evans with a look of wonder at meeting
with kindness from a human being, and half doubtingly put out his
hand. So then Evans, to comfort him, took his hand and shook it
several times in his hard palm, and said:
"Good-night. You'll soon get warm, and don't think of it--that is the
best way;" and Evans ran away in the middle of a sentence, for the
look of astonishment the boy wore at his humanity went through the
man's penitent heart like an arrow.
Josephs lay quiet and his sobs began gradually to go down, and, as
Evans had predicted, some little warmth began to steal over his frame;
but he could not comply with all Evans's instructions; he could not
help thinking of it. For all that, as soon as he got a little warm,
Nature, who knew how much her tortured son needed repose, began to
weigh down his eyelids, and he dozed. He often started, he often
murmured a prayer for pity as his mind acted over again the scenes of
his miserable existence; but still he dozed, and sleep was stealing
over him. Sleep! life's nurse sent from heaven to create us anew day
by day!--sleep! that has blunted and gradually cured a hundred
thousand sorrows for one that has yielded to any moral remedy--sleep!
that has blunted and so cured by degrees a million fleshly ills for
one that drugs or draughts have ever reached--sleep had her arm round
this poor child and was drawing him gently, gently, slowly, slowly to
her bosom--when suddenly his cell seemed to him to be all in a blaze,
and a rough hand shook him, and a harsh voice sounded in his ear.
"Come, get up out of that, youngster," it said, and the hand almost
jerked him off the floor.
"What is the matter?" inquired Josephs yawning.
"Matter is, I want your bed."
Josephs rose half stupid, and Hodges rolled up his bed and blanket.
"Are you really going to rob me of my bed?" inquired Josephs slowly
"Rob you, you young dog? Here is the governor's order. No bed and gas
for fourteen days."
"No bed nor gas for fourteen days! Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!"
"Oh, you laugh at that, do you?"
"I laugh at Mr. Hawes thinking to keep me out of bed for fourteen
days, a poor wornout boy like me. You tell Hawes I'll find a bed in
spite of him long before fourteen days."
Hodges looked about the cell for this other bed. "Come," said he, "you
must not chaff the officers. The governor will serve you out enough
without your giving us any of your sauce."
Hodges was going with the bed. Josephs stopped him. The boy took this
last blow quite differently from the gas; no impatience or burst of
"Won't you bid me good-by, Mr. Hodges?" asked he.
"Why not? Good-night."
"That isn't what I mean. Mr. Evans gave me his hand."
"Did he? what for?"
"And so must you. Oh, you may as well, Mr. Hodges. I never came to you
and took away your little bit of light and your little bit of sleep.
So you can take my hand if I can give it you. You will be sorry
afterward if you say no."
"There it is--what the better are you for that, you young fool? I'll
tell you what it is, you are turning soft. I don't know what to make
of you. I shall come to your cell the first thing in the morning."
"Ay, do, Mr. Hodges," said Josephs, "and then you won't be sorry you
shook hands at night."
At this moment the boy's supper was thrust through the trap-door; it
was not the supper by law appointed, but six ounces of bread and a can
Hodges, now that he had touched the prisoner's hand, felt his first
spark of something bordering on sympathy. He looked at the grub half
ashamed and made a wry face. Josephs caught his look and answered it.
"It is as much as I shall want," said he very calmly, and he smiled at
Hodges as he spoke, a sweet and tender but dogged smile; a smile to
live in a man's memory for years.
The door was closed with a loud snap, and Josephs was left to face the
long night (it was now seven o'clock) in his wet clothes, which smoked
with the warmth his late bed had begun to cherish; but they soon
ceased to smoke as the boy froze.
Night advanced. Josephs walked about his little cell, his teeth
chattering, then flung himself like a dead log on the floor, and
finding Hawes's spirit in the cold, hard stone, rose and crawled
shivering to and fro again.
Meantime we were all in our nice soft beds; such as found three
blankets too little added a dressing-gown of flannel, or print lined
with wadding or fleecy hosiery, and so made shift. In particular all
those who had the care of Josephs took care to lie warm and soft.
Hawes, Jones, Hodges, Fry, Justices Shallow and Woodcock, all took the
care of their own carcasses they did not take of Josephs' youthful
"Be cold at night? Not if we know it; why you can't sleep if you are
not thoroughly warm!!"
Josephs was crouched shivering under the door of his cell, listening.
"All right now. I think they are all asleep; now is the time."
Hawes, Hodges, Jones, Fry, were snoring without a thought of him they
had left to pass the live-long night, clothed in a sponge, cradled on
DORMEZ, MESSIEURS! TOUT EST TRANQUILLE; DORMEZ!
PAST one o'clock!
The moon was up, but often obscured; clouds drifted swiftly across her
face; it was a cold morning--past one o'clock. Josephs was at his
window standing tiptoe on his stool. Thoughts coursed one another
across his broken heart as fast as the clouds flew past the moon's
face. But whatever their nature, the sting was now out of them. The
bitter sense of wrong and cruelty was there, but blunted. Fear was
nearly extinct, for hope was dead.
There was no tumult in his mind now; he had gone through all that, and
had got a step beyond grief or pain.
Thus ran his thoughts: "I wonder what Hawes was going to do with me
to-morrow. Something worse than all I have gone through, he said. That
seems hard to believe. But I don't know. Best not give him the chance.
He does know how to torture one. Well, he must keep it for some other
poor fellow. I hope it won't be Robinson. I'll have a look at
out-a-doors first. Ah! there is the moon. I wonder does she see what
is done here. And there is the sky; it is a beautiful place. Who would
stay here under Hawes if they could get up there? God lives up there!
I am almost afraid He won't let a poor wicked boy like me come where
He is. And they say this is a sin, too. He will be angry with me--but
I couldn't help it. I shall tell Him what I went through first, and
perhaps He will forgive me. His reverence told me He takes the part of
those that are ill-used. It will be a good job for me if 'tis so.
Perhaps He will serve Hawes out for this instead of me. I think I
should if I was Him. I know He can't be so cruel as Hawes; that is my
only chance, and I'm going to take it.
"Some folk live to eighty; I am only fifteen; that is a long odds, I
dare say it is five times as long as fifteen. It is hard--but I can't
help it. Hawes wouldn't let me live to be a man; he is stronger than I
am. Will it be a long job, I wonder. Some say it hurts a good deal;
some think not. I shall soon know--but I shall never tell. That
doesn't trouble me, it is only throttling when all is done; and ain't
I throttled every day of my life. Shouldn't I be throttled to-morrow
if I was such a spoon as to see to-morrow. I mustn't waste much more
time or my hands will be crippled with cold and then I shan't be able
"Mr. Evans will be sorry. I can't help it. Bless him for being so good
to me; and bless Mr. Eden. I hope he will get better, I do. My
handkerchief is old, I hope it won't break; oh, no! there is no fear
of that. I don't weigh half what I did when I came here.
"My mother will fret--but I can't help it. Oh dear! oh dear! oh dear!
I hope some one will tell her what I went through first; and then she
will say, 'Better so than for my body to be abused worse than a dog
every day of my life.' I can't help it! and I should be dead any way
before the fourteen days were out.
"Now is as good a time as any other; no one is stirring, no. Please
forgive me, mother. I couldn't help it. Please forgive me, God
Almighty, if you care what a poor boy like me does or is done to--I
couldn't help it."
IL EST DEUX HEURES; TOUT EST TRANQUILLE; DORMEZ, MAITRES, DORMEZ!
IT was a bright morning. The world awoke. The working Englishman, dead
drunk at the public-house overnight, had got rid of two-thirds of his
burning poison by the help of man's chief nurse, sleep; and now he
must work off the rest, grumbling at this the kind severity of his
lot. Warm men, respectable men, among whom justices of the peace and
other voluptuous disciplinarians, were tempted out of delicious beds
by the fragrant berry, the balmy leaf, snowy damask, fire glowing
behind polished bars--in short, by multifarious comfort set in a frame
of gold. They came down.
"How did you sleep, dear sir?"
"Pretty well," said one with a doubtful air. "Scarce closed my eyes
all night," snarled another.
Another had been awakened by the barking of a dog, and it was full
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