It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Part 7 out of 17
half an hour before he could lose the sense of luxurious ease in
unconsciousness again. He made an incident of this, and looked round
the table for sympathy, and obtained it, especially from such as were
Now all these had slept as much as nature required. No. 1, ar hyd y
nos--like a top. No. 2, eight hours out of the nine. The ninth his
sufferings had been moderate; they had been confined to this--a bitter
sense of two things; first, that he was lying floating in a sea of
comforts; secondly, that the moment he should really need sleep, sleep
was at his service.
In ---- Jail, governor, turnkeys, chaplain, having had something to do
the day before, slept among Class 1, and now turned out of their warm
beds as they had turned into them, without a shade of anxiety or even
recollection of him whom they had left last evening at eight to pass
the livelong night in a sponge--upon a stone.
Up rose refreshed with sleep that zealous officer, Hawes. He was in
the prison at daybreak, and circulated with inspecting eye all through
it. Went into the kitchen--saw the gruel making--docked Josephs and
three more of half their allowance; then into the corridors, where on
one of the snowy walls he found a speck; swore; had it instantly
removed. Thence into the labor-yard, and prepared a crank for an
athletic prisoner by secretly introducing a weight, and so making the
poor crank a story-teller, and the prologue to punishment. Returning
to the body of the prison, he called out, "Prisoners on the list for
hard labor to be taken to the yard."
He was not answered with the usual alacrity, and looked up to repeat
his summons, when he observed a cell open and two turnkeys standing in
earnest conversation at the door. He mounted the stairs in great heat.
"What are you all humbugging there for, and why does not that young
rascal turn out to work? I'll physic him, ---- him!"
The turnkeys looked in their chief's face with a strange expression of
stupid wonder. Hawes caught this--his wrath rose higher.
"What d'ye stand staring at me like stuck pigs for? Come out, No. 15,
---- you all! why don't you bring him out to the crank?"
Hodges answered gloomily from the cell, "Come and bring him yourself,
if you can."
At such an address from a turnkey, Hawes, who had now mounted the last
stair, gave a snort of surprise and wrath--then darted into the cell,
threatening the most horrible vengeance on the bones and body of poor
Josephs, threats which he confirmed with a tremendous oath. But to
that oath succeeded a sudden dead stupid staring silence; for running
fiercely into the cell with rage in his face, threats and curses on
his tongue, he had almost stumbled over a corpse.
It lay in the middle of the cell--stark and cold, but peaceful. Hawes
stood over it. If he had not stopped short his foot would have been
upon it. His mouth opened but no sound came. He stood paralyzed. A
greater than he was in that cell, and he was dumb. He looked
up--Hodges and Fry were standing silent, looking down on the body. Fry
was grave; Hodges trembled. Part of a handkerchief fluttered from the
bar of the window. A knife had severed it. The other fragment lay on
the floor near the body, where Hodges had dropped it. Hawes took this
in at a glance and comprehended it all. This was not the first or
second prisoner that had escaped him by a similar road. For a moment
his blood froze in him. He wished to Heaven he had not been so severe
upon the poor boy.
It was but for a moment. The next he steeled himself in the tremendous
egotism that belongs to and makes the deliberate manslayer.
"The young viper has done this to spite me," said he. And he actually
cast a look of petulant anger down.
At this precise point the minds that had borne his company so long
began to part from it. Fry looked in his face with an expression
bordering on open contempt, and Hodges shoved rudely by him and left
Hodges leaned over the corridor in silence. One of the inferior
turnkeys asked him a question dictated by curiosity about the
situation in which he had found the body. "Don't speak to me!" was the
fierce, wild answer. And he looked with a stupid wild stare over the
So wild and white and stricken was this man's face that Evans, who was
exchanging some words with a gentleman on the basement floor,
happening to catch sight of it, interrupted himself and hallooed from
below, "What, is there anything the matter, Hodges?" Hodges made no
reply. The man seemed to have lost his speech for some time past.
"Let us go and see," said the gentleman; and he ascended the steps
somewhat feebly, accompanied by Evans.
"What is it, Hodges?"
"What is it?" answered the man impatiently. "Go in there and you'll
see what it is!"
"I don't like this, sir," said Evans. "Oh! I am fearful there is
something unfortunate has happened. You mustn't come in, sir. You stay
here, and I'll go in and see." He entered the cell.
Meantime a short conference had passed between Hawes and Fry.
"This is a bad business, Fry."
"And no mistake."
"Had you any idea of this?"
"No! can't say I had."
"If the parson ever gets well he will make this a handle to ruin you
"Me, sir! I only obey orders."
"That won't save you. If they get the better of me you will suffer
along with me."
"I shouldn't wonder. I told you you were carrying it too far, but you
wouldn't listen to me."
"I was wrong, Fry. I ought to have listened to you, for you are the
only one that is faithful to me in the jail."
"I know my duty, sir, and I try to do it."
"What are we to do with him, Fry?"
"Well, I don't think he ought to lie on the floor. I'd let him have
his bed now, I think."
"You are right. I'll send for it. Ah! here is Evans. Go for No. 15's
Evans, standing at the door, had caught but a glimpse of the object
that lay on the floor, but that glimpse was enough. He went out and
said to Hodges, "Wasn't it you that took Josephs' bed away last
night?" The man cowered under the question. "Well, you are to go and
fetch it back, the governor says." Hodges went away for it without a
word. Evans returned to the cell. He came and kneeled down by Josephs
and laid his hand upon him. "I feared it! I feared it!" said he. "Why
he has been dead a long time. Ah! your reverence, why did you come in
when I told you not? Poor Josephs is no more, Sir."
Mr. Eden, who had already saluted Mr. Hawes with grave politeness,
though without any affectation of good-will, came slowly up, and
sinking his voice to a whisper in presence of death said in pitiful
accents, "Poor child! he was always sickly. Six weeks ago I feared we
should lose him, but he seemed to get better." He was now kneeling
beside him. "Was he long ill, sir?" asked he of Hawes. "Probably he
was, for he is much wasted. I can feel all his bones." Hardened as
they were, Hawes and Fry looked at one another in some confusion.
Presently Mr. Eden started back. "Why, what is this? he is wet. He is
wet from head to foot. What is the cause of this? Can you tell me, Mr.
Mr. Hawes did not answer, but Evans did.
"I am afraid it is the bucket, your reverence. They soused him in the
yard late last night."
"Did they?" said Mr. Eden, looking the men full in the face. "Then
they have the more to repent of this morning. But stay. Why then he
was not under the doctor's hands, Evans?"
"La! bless you, no. He was harder worked and worse fed than any man in
"At work last night! Then at what hour did he die? He is stiff and
cold. This is a very sudden death. Did any one see this boy die?"
The men gave no answer, but the last words--"Did any one see this boy
die?"--seemed to give Evans a new light.
"No!" he cried. "No one saw him die. Look here, sir. See what is
dangling from the window--his handkerchief."
"And this mark round his throat, Evans. He has destroyed himself." And
Mr. Eden recoiled from the corpse.
"Oh! you may forgive him, sir," said Evans. "We should all have done
the same. No human creature could live the life they led him. Who
could live upon bread and water and punishment? It is a sorrowful
sight, but it is a happy release for him. Eh! poor lad," said Evans,
laying his hand upon the body; "I liked thee well, but I am glad thou
art gone. Thou hast escaped away from worse trouble."
"Come, it is no use sniveling, Evans," put in Hawes. "I am as sorry
for this job as you are. But who would have thought he was so
determined? He gave us no warning."
"Don't you believe that, sir," cried Evans to Mr. Eden. "He gave them
plenty of warning. I heard him with my own ears tell you you were
killing him; not a day for the last fortnight he did not tell you so,
"Well, I didn't believe him, you see."
"You mean you didn't care."
"Hold your tongue, Evans! You are disrespectful. How dare you speak to
me, you insolent dog? Hold your tongue!"
"No, sir, I won't hold my tongue over this dead body."
"Be silent, Evans," said Mr. Eden. "This is no place for disputes.
Evans, my heart is broken. While there is life there is hope; but
here, what hope is there? Many in this place live in crime, but this
one has died in crime; he of whom I had such good hopes has died in
crime--died by his own hand; he has murdered his own soul; my heart is
broken!--my heart is broken!" The good man's anguish was terrible.
Evans consoled him. "Don't go on so, sir! pray don't. Josephs is where
none of us but you shall ever get to; he is in heaven as sure as we
are upon earth. He was the best lad in the place; there wasn't a drop
of gall in him; who ever heard a bad word from him? and he did not
kill himself till he found he was to die whether or no; so then he
shortened his own death-struggle, and he was right."
"I don't understand you."
"I dare say not, sir; but those two understand me. Oh, it is no use to
look black at me now, Mr. Hawes; I shall speak my mind though my head
was to be cut off. I have been a coward; I thought too much of my wife
and children; but I am a man now. Eh! poor lad, thou shan't be
maligned now thou art dead, as well as tormented alive. Sir, he that
lies here so pale and calm was not guilty of self-destruction. He was
driven to death!--don't speak to me, sir, but look at me, and hear the
truth, as it will come out the day all of us in this cell are damned,
except you--and him!"
The man fell suddenly on his knees, took the dead boy's hand in his
left hand and held his right up, and in this strange attitude, which
held all his hearers breathless, he poured out a terrible tale.
His boiling heart and the touch of him, whom now too late he defended
like a man, gave him simple but real eloquence, and in few words, that
scalded as they fell, he told as powerfully as I have feebly by what
road Josephs had been goaded to death.
He brought the dark tale down to where he left the sufferer rolled up
in the one comfort left him on earth, his bed; and then turning
suddenly and leaving Josephs he said sternly:
"And now, sir, ask the governor where is the bed I wrapped the wet boy
up in, for it isn't here."
"You know as much as I do!" was Hawes's sulky reply.
But at this moment Hodges came into the cell with the bed in question
in his arms.
"There is his bed," cried he, "and what is the use of it now? If you
had left it him last night it would be better for him and for me,
too," and he flung the bed on the floor.
"Oh! it was you took it from him, was it?" said Evans.
"Well, I am here to obey orders, Jack Evans; do you do nothing but
what you like in this place?"
"Let there be no disputing in presence of death!"
"One thing only is worth knowing or thinking of now; whether there is
hope for this our brother in that world to which he has passed all
unprepared. Hodges, you saw him last alive!"
Hodges groaned. "I saw him last at night, and first in the morning."
"I entreat you to remember all that passed at night between you!"
"Then cover up his face--it draws my eyes to it."
Mr. Eden covered the dead face gently with his handkerchief.
"Mr. Hawes met me in the corridor and sent me to take away his bed. I
found him dozing, and I took--I did what I was ordered."
Mr. Eden sighed.
"Tell me what _he_ said and did."
"Well, sir! when I showed him the order, 'fourteen days without bed
and gas,' he bursts out a laughing--"
"And says he, 'I don't say for gas, but you tell Mr. Hawes I shan't be
without bed nothing nigh so long as that.'"
Mr. Eden and Evans exchanged a meaning glance; so did Fry and Hawes.
"Then I said, 'No! I shan't tell Mr. Hawes anything to make him punish
you any more, because you are punished too much as it is,' says I--"
"I am glad you said that. But tell me what _he_ said. Did he
complain? did he use angry or bitter words?--you make me drag it out
"No! he didn't! He wasn't one of that sort! The next thing was, he
asked me to give him my hand. Well, I was surprised like at his asking
for my hand, and I doing him such an ill-turn. So then he said, 'Mr.
Hodges,' says he, 'why not? I never took away your bed from under you,
so you can give me your hand, if I can give you mine.'"
"Oh! what a beautiful nature! Ah! these are golden words. I hope for
the credit of human nature you gave him your hand?"
"Why, of course I did, sir. I had no malice; it was ignorance, and
owing to being so used to obey the governor."
Here Mr. Hawes, who had remained quiet all this time, now absorbed in
his own reflections, now listening sullenly to these strange scenes in
which the dead boy seemed for a time to have eclipsed his importance,
burst angrily in.
"I have listened patiently to you, Mr. Eden, to see how far you would
go; but I see if I wait till you leave off undermining me with my
servants, I may wait a long while."
Mr. Eden turned round impatiently.
"You! who thinks of you or such as you in presence of such a question
as lies here. I am trying to learn the fate of this immortal soul, and
I did not see you--or think of you--or notice you were here."
"That is polite! Well, sir, the governor is somebody in most jails,
but it seems he is to be nobody here so long as you are in it, and
that won't be long. Come, Fry, we have other duties to attend to." So
saying he and his lieutenant went out of the cell.
Hodges went, too, but not with them.
The moment they were gone--" Well, sir," burst out Evans, "don't you
see that the real murderer is not that stupid, ignorant owl, Hodges?"
"Hush! Evans! this is no time or place for unkindly thoughts; thank
Heaven that you are free from their guilt, and leave me alone with
He was left alone with the dead.
Evans looked through the peep-hole of the cell an hour later. He was
still on his knees fearing, hoping, vowing, and, above all,
praying--beside the dead.
MR. EDEN, when he reappeared in the prison, was sallow and his limbs
feeble, but his fatal disease was baffled, and a few words are due to
explain how this happened. The Malvern doctor came back with Susan
within twenty hours of her departure. She ushered him into Mr. Eden's
room with blushing joy and pride.
The friends shook hands. Mr. Eden thanked him for coming, and the
doctor cut him short by demanding an accurate history of his disorder,
and the remedies that had been applied. Mr. Eden related the rise and
progress of his complaint, and meantime the doctor solved the other
query by smelling a battalion of empty phials.
"The old story," said he with a cheerful grin. "You were
weak--therefore they gave you things to weaken you. You could not put
so much nourishment as usual into your body--therefore they have been
taking strength out. Lastly, the coats of your stomach were irritated
by your disorder--so they have raked it like blazes. This is the
mill-round of the old medicine; from irritation to inflammation, from
inflammation to mortification, and decease of the patient. Now,
instead of irritating the irritated spot, suppose we try a little
"With all my heart."
The doctor then wetted a towel with cold water, wrung it half dry, and
applied it to Mr. Eden's stomach.
This experiment he repeated four times with a fresh towel at intervals
of twenty minutes. He had his bed made in Mr. Eden's room. "Tell me if
you feel feverish."
Toward morning Mr. Eden tossed and turned, and the doctor rising found
him dry and hot and feverish. Then he wetted two towels, took the
sheets off his own bed, and placed one wet towel on a blanket; then he
made his patient strip naked, and lie down on this towel, which
reached from the nape of his neck to his loins.
"Ah!" cried Mr. Eden, "horrible!"
Then he put the other towel over him in front.
"Ugh! That is worse; you are a bold man with your remedies. I shiver
to the bone."
"You won't shiver long."
He laid hold of one edge of the blanket and pulled it over him with a
strong, quick pull, and tucked it under him. The same with the other
side; and now Mr. Eden was in a blanket prison--a regular
strait-waistcoat--his arms pinned to his sides. Two more blankets were
placed loosely over him.
"Mighty fine, doctor; but suppose a fly or a gnat should settle on my
"Call me and I'll take him off."
In about three quarters of an hour Dr. Gulson came to his bedside
"How are you now?"
"Are you shivering?"
"Nothing of the kind."
"Are you hot?"
"Nothing of the sort. I am Elysian. Please retreat. Let no mere
mortals approach. Come not near our fairy king," murmured the sick
man. "I am Oberon, slumbering on tepid roses in the garden whence I
take my name," purred our divine, mixing a creed or two.
"Well, you must come out of this paradise for the present."
"You wouldn't be such a monster as to propose it."
Spite of his remonstances, he was unpacked, rubbed dry, and returned
to his own bed, where he slept placidly till nine o'clock. The next
day fresh applications of wet cloths to the stomach, and in the
evening one of the doctor's myrmidons arrived from Malvern. The doctor
gave him full and particular instructions.
The next morning Mr. Eden was packed again. He delighted in the
operation, but remonstrated against the term.
"Packed!" said he to them; "is that the way to speak of a Paradisiacal
process under which fever and sorrow fly and calm complacency steals
over mind and body?"
A slight diminution of all the unfavorable symptoms, and a great
increase of appetite relieved the doctor's anxiety so far that he left
him under White's charge. So was the myrmidon called.
"Do not alter your diet--it is simple and mucilaginous--but increase
the quantity by degrees."
He postponed his departure till midnight. Up to the present time he
had made rather light of the case, and as for danger he had
pooh-poohed it with good-humored contempt. Just before he went he
"Well, Frank, I don't mind telling you now that I am very glad you
sent for me, and I'll tell you why. Forty-eight hours more of
irritating medicines, and no human skill could have saved your life."
"Ah! my dear friend, you are my good angel--you can have no conception
how valuable my life is."
"Oh, yes, I can!"
"And you have saved that life. Yes! I am weak still, but I feel I
shall live. You have cured me."
"In popular language, I have. But between ourselves nobody ever cures
anybody. Nature cures all that are cured. But I patted Nature on the
back; the others hit her over the head with bludgeons and brick-bats."
"And now you are going. I must not keep you or I shall compromise
other lives. Well, go and fulfill your mission. But first think--is
there anything I can do in part return for such a thing as this, old
"Only one that I can think of. Outlive me, old friend."
A warm and tender grasp of the hand on this, and the Malvern doctor
jumped into a fly, and the railway soon whirled him into
His myrmidon remained behind and carried out his chief's orders with
inflexible severity, unsoftened by blandishments, unshaken by threats.
In concert with Susan he closed the door upon all harassing
One day Evans came to tell the invalid how the prisoners were
maltreated. Susan received him, wormed from him his errand, and told
him Mr. Eden was too ill to see him, which was what my French brethren
call _une sainte mensonge_--I a fib.
A slow but steady cure was effected by these means: applications of
water in various ways to the skin, simple diet, and quiet. A great
appetite soon came; he ate twice as much as he had before the new
treatment, and would have eaten twice as much as he did, but the
myrmidon would not let him. Whenever he was feverish the myrmidon
packed him, and in half an hour the fever was gone. His cheeks began
to fill, his eyes to clear and brighten, only his limbs could not
immediately recover their strength.
As he recovered, his anxiety to be back among his prisoners increased
daily, but neither Susan nor the myrmidon would hear of it. They acted
in concert, and stuck at nothing to cure their patient. They assured
him all was going on well in the prison. They meant well; but for all
that, every lie, great or small, is the brink of a precipice the depth
of which nothing but Omniscience can fathom.
He believed them, yet he was uneasy; and this uneasiness increased
with his returning strength. At last one morning, happening to awake
earlier than usual, he stole a march on his nurses, and taking his
stick walked out and tottered into the jail.
He found Josephs dead under the fangs of Hawes, and the whole prison
Now the very day his symptoms became more favorable it so happened
that he had received a few lines from the Home Office that had perhaps
aided his recovery by the hopes they inspired.
"The matter of your last communication is forwarded to the 'Inspector
of Prisons.' He is instructed to inquire strictly into your statements
and report to this office."
The short note concluded with an intimation that the tone in which Mr.
Eden had conveyed his remonstrances was intemperate, out of place, and
Mr. Eden was rejoiced.
The "Inspector of Prisons" was a salaried officer of the crown,
enlightened by a large comparison of many prisons, and, residing at a
distance, was not open to the corrupting influences of association and
personal sympathy with the governor, as were the county magistrates.
Day after day Mr. Eden rose in hope that day would not pass without
the promised visit from the "Inspector of Prisons." Day after day no
inspector. At last Mr. Eden wrote to him to inquire when he was
The letter traveled about after him, and after a considerable delay
came his answer. It was to this effect. That he was instructed to
examine into charges made against the governor of ---- Jail; but that
he had no instructions to make an irregular visit for that purpose.
His progress would bring him this year to ---- Jail in six weeks'
time, when he should act on his instructions, but these did not
justify him in varying from the routine of his circuit.
Six weeks is not long to wait for help in a matter of life and death,
thought the eighty pounders, the clerks who execute England.
Three days of this six weeks had scarce elapsed when two prisoners
were driven a step each farther than their wretched fellow sufferers
who were to follow them in a week or two. Of these, one, "a mild,
quiet, docile boy," was driven to self-slaughter; and another, one of
the best-natured rogues in the place, was driven to manslaughter.
This latter incident Mr. Eden prevented. I will presently relate how;
it was not by postponing his interference for six weeks.
When Mr. Eden rose from his knees beside the slaughtered boy he went
home at once and wrote to the Home Secretary. On the envelope he wrote
"private," and inside to this effect:
"Two months ago I informed you officially that prisoners are daily
assaulted, starved, and maltreated to the danger of their lives by the
governor of ---- Jail. I demanded of you an inquiry on the spot. In
reply you evaded my demand, and proposed to refer me to the visiting
"In answer I declined these men for referees on two grounds, viz.,
that I had lodged an appeal with a higher jurisdiction than theirs,
and that they were confederates of the criminal; and to enforce the
latter objection I included your proposed referees in my charges, and
once more demanded of you in the queen's name an examination of her
unworthy servants on the instant and on the spot.
"On this occasion I warned you in these words:
"'Here are 180 souls, to whose correction, care and protection the
State is pledged. No one of these lives is safe a single day; and for
every head that falls from this hour I hold you responsible to God and
"Surely these were no light words, yet they fell light on you.
"In answer you promised us the 'Inspector of Prisons,' but you gave
him no instructions to come to us. You fooled away time when time was
human life. Read once more my words of warning, and then read these:
"This morning a boy of fifteen was done to death by Mr. Hawes. Of his
death you are not guiltless. You were implored to prevent it, you
could have prevented it, and you did not prevent it. The victim of
jail cruelty and of the maladministration in government offices lies
dead in his cell.
"In three days I shall commit his body to the dust; but his memory
never--until he is avenged and those who are in process of being
murdered like him receive the protection of the State.
"If in the three days between this boy's murder and his burial your
direct representative and agent does not come here and examine this
jail and sift the acts of those who govern it, on the fourth day I lay
the whole case before her majesty the queen and the British nation, by
publishing it in all the journals. Then I shall tell her majesty that,
having thrice appealed in vain to her representatives, I am driven to
appeal to herself; with this I shall print the evidence I have thrice
offered you of this jailer's felonies and their sanguinary results.
That lady has a character; one of its strong, unmistakable features is
a real, tender, active humanity.
"I read characters; it is a part of my business; and, believe me, this
lady once informed of the crimes done in her name will repudiate and
abhor alike her hireling's cruelty and her clerks' and secretaries'
indifference to suffering and slaughter. Nor will the public hear
unmoved the awful tale. Shame will be showered on all connected with
these black deeds, even on those who can but be charged with conniving
"To be exposed to national horror on the same column with the greatest
felon in England would be a cruel position, a severe punishment for a
man of honor, whose only fault perhaps is that he has mistaken an itch
for eminence for a capacity for business, and so serves the State
without comprehending it. But what else can I do? I, too, serve the
State, and I comprehend what I owe it, and the dignity with which it
intrusts me, and the deep responsibility it lays on me. I therefore
cannot assent to future felonies any more than I have to past and
present, but must stop them, and will stop them--how I can.
"So, sir, I offer you the post of honor or a place of shame. Choose!
for three whole days you have the choice. Choose! and may God
enlighten you and forgive me for waiting these three days.
"I have the honor to be, etc., etc.,
To this letter, whose tone was more eccentric, more flesh and blood,
and WITHOUT PRECEDENT, than the last, came an answer in a different
hand from the others.
"--acknowledged receipt of the chaplain's letter.
"Since a human life has succumbed under the discipline of ---- Jail,
an inquiry follows immediately as a matter of course. The other
inducements you have held out are comparatively weak and something
more than superfluous. How far they are in good taste will be left to
your own cooler consideration. A person connected with the Home
Department will visit your jail with large powers soon after you
"He is instructed to avail himself of your zeal and knowledge.
"Be pleased to follow this course. Select for him the plainer facts of
your case. If on the face of the business he sees ground for deeper
inquiry, a commission will sit upon the jail, and meanwhile all
suspected officers will be suspended. You will consider yourself still
in direct correspondence with this office, but it is requested, on
account of the mass of matter daily submitted to us, that your
communications may be confined to facts, and those stated as concisely
On reading this Mr. Eden colored with shame as well as pleasure. "How
gentleman-like all this is!" thought he. "How calm and superior to me,
who, since I had the jaundice, am always lowering my office by getting
into a heat! And I to threaten this noble, dignified creature with the
_Times_. I am thoroughly ashamed of myself. Yet what could I do? I
had tried everything short of bullying and failed. But I now suspect
---- never saw my two first letters. Doubtless the rotten system of
our public offices is more to blame than this noble fellow."
Thus accusing himself Mr. Eden returned with somewhat feeble steps to
the jail. One of the first prisoners he visited was Thomas Robinson.
He found that prisoner in the attitude of which he thought he had
cured him, coiled up like a snake, moody and wretched. The man turned
round with a very bad expression on his face, which soon gave way to a
look of joy. He uttered a loud exclamation, and springing unguardedly
up, dropped a brickbat which rolled toward Mr. Eden and nearly hit
Robinson looked confused, and his eyes rose and fell from Mr. Eden's
face to the brickbat.
"How do you do?"
"Not so well as before you fell ill, sir. It has been hard times with
us poor fellows since we lost you."
"I fear it has."
"You have just come back in time to save a life or two. There is a boy
called Josephs. I hope the day won't go over without your visiting
him, for they are killing him by inches."
"How do you know that?"
"I heard him say so."
Mr. Eden groaned.
"You look pale, my poor fellow."
"I shall be better now," replied the thief, looking at him
"What is this?"
"This, sir--what, sir?"
"Well! why--it is a brick, sir!
"Where did you get it?"
"I found it in the yard."
"What were you going to do with it?"
"Oh! I wasn't going to do any ill with it."
"Then why that guilty look when you dropped it. Come, now--I am in no
humor to be hard upon you. Were you going to make some more cards?"
"Now, sir, didn't I promise you I never would do that again;" and
Robinson wore an aggrieved look. "Would I break a promise I made to
"What was it for then?"
"Am I bound to criminate myself, your reverence?"
"Certainly not to your enemy! but to your friend, and to him who has
the care of your soul--yes!"
"Let me ask you a question first, sir. Which is worth most, one life
"Then if by taking one life you can save twenty, it is a good action
to put that one out of the way?"
"That does not follow."
"Oh! doesn't it? I thought it did. There's a man in this prison that
murders men wholesale. I thought if I could any way put it out of his
power to kill any more what a good action it would be!"
"A good action! so then this brick--"
"Was for Hawes's skull, your reverence."
"This, then, is the fruit of all my teaching. You will break my heart
"Don't say so, sir! pray don't say so! I won't touch a hair of his
head now you are alive; but I thought you were dead or dying, so what
did it matter then what I did? Besides, I was driven into a corner; I
could only kill that scoundrel or let him kill me. But you are alive,
and you will find some way of saving my life as well as his."
"I will try. But first abandon all thoughts of lawless revenge.
'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.' Come, promise me."
"Now, sir, is it likely I would offend you for the pleasure of
dirtying my fingers with that rascal's blood? Don't let such a lump of
dirt as him make mischief between you and me, sir."
"I understand! with you any unchristian sentiment is easily driven
out--by another. Hatred is to give way to contempt."
"No, sir, but you are alive, and I don't think of Hawes now one way or
other--with such scum as that out of sight is out of mind. When did
you begin to get better, sir? and are you better? and shall I see your
blessed face in my cell every day as I used?" And the water stood in
the thief's eyes.
Mr. Eden smiled and sighed. "Your mind is like an eel--Heaven help the
man that tries to get hold of it to do it any lasting good. You and I
must have a good pray together some day."
"Ah! your reverence, that would do me good soul and body," said Mr.
"Let me now feel your pulse; it is very low. What is the matter?"
"Starvation, overwork, and solitude. I feel myself sinking."
"If I could amuse your mind."
"Even you could hardly do that, sir."
"Hum! I have brought you a quire of paper and one of Mr. Gillott's
swan-quill pens and a penny ink-bottle."
"You are to write a story."
"But I never wrote one in my life."
"Then this will be the first."
"Oh, I'll try, sir. I've tried a hundred things in my life and they
none of them proved so hard as they looked. What kind of story?"
"The only kind of story that is worth a button--a true story--the
story of Thomas Robinson, alias Scott, alias Lyon, alias etc."
"Then you should have brought a ream instead of a quire."
"No! I want to read it when it is written. Now write the truth--do not
dress or cook your facts. I shall devour them raw with twice the
relish, and they will do you ten times the good. And intersperse no
humbug, no sham penitence. When your own life lies thus spread out
before you like a map, you will find you regret many things you have
done, and view others with calmer and wiser eyes; for self-review is a
healthy process. Write down these honest reflections, but don't overdo
it--don't write a word you don't feel. It will amuse you while you are
"That it will."
"It will interest me more than the romance of a carpet writer who
never saw life, and it may do good to other prisoners."
"I want to begin."
"I know you do, creature of impulse! Let me feel your pulse again. Ah!
it has gained about ten."
"Ten, your reverence? Fifty, you mean. It is you for putting life into
a poor fellow and keeping him from despair. It is not the first time
you have saved me. The devil hates you more than all the other
parsons, for you are as ingenious in good as he is in mischief."
In the midst of this original eulogy Mr. Eden left the cell suddenly
with an aching heart, for the man's words reminded him that for all
his skill and zeal a boy of fifteen years lay dead of despair hard by.
He went, but he left two good things behind him--occupation and hope.
THE inexperienced in jails would take for granted that the death of
Josephs gave Mr. Hawes's system a fatal check. No such thing. He was
staggered. So was Pharaoh staggered several times, yet he always
recovered himself in twenty-four hours. Hawes did not take so long as
that. A suicide was no novelty under his system. Six hours after he
found his victim dead he had a man and a boy crucified in the yard,
swore horribly at Fry, who, for the first time in his life, was behind
time, and tore out of his hands "Uncle Tom," which was the topic that
had absorbed Fry and made him two minutes behind him; went home and
wrote a note to his friend Williams informing him of the suicide that
had taken place, and reflecting severely upon Josephs for his whole
conduct, with which this last offense against discipline was in strict
accordance. Then he had his grog, and having nothing to do he thought
he would see what was that story which had prevailed so far over the
stern realities of system as to derange that piece of clock work that
went by the name of Fry. He yawned over the first pages, but as the
master hand unrolled the great chromatic theory, he became absorbed,
and devoured this great human story till his candles burned down in
their sockets and sent him to bed four hours later than usual.
The next morning soon after chapel a gentleman's servant rode up to
the jail and delivered a letter for Mr. Hawes. It was from Justice
Williams. That worthy expressed in polysyllables his sorrow at the
death of Josephs after this fashion:
"A circumstance of this kind is always to be deplored, since it gives
occasion to the enemies of the system to cast reflections, which,
however unphilosophical and malignant, prejudice superficial judgments
against our salutary discipline."
He then went on to say that the visiting justices would be at the jail
the next day at one o'clock to make their usual report, in which Mr.
Hawes might be sure his zeal and fidelity would not pass unnoticed. He
concluded by saying that Mr. Hawes must on that occasion present his
charges against the chaplain in a definite form, and proceedings would
be taken on the spot.
"Aha! aha! So I shall get rid of him. Confound him! he makes me harder
upon the beggars than I should be. Fry, put these numbers on the
cranks and bring me your report after dinner."
With these words Mr. Hawes vanished, and to the infinite surprise of
the turnkeys was not seen in the jail for many hours. At two o'clock,
as he was still not in the prison, Fry went to his house. He found Mr.
Hawes deep in a book.
"Brought the report, sir."
"Give it to me. Humph! No. 40 and 45 refractory at the crank. No. 65
caught getting up to his window; says he wanted to feel the light.
65--that is one of the boys, isn't it?"
"How old is the young varmint?"
"No. 14 heard to speak to a prisoner that was leaving the jail, his
term being out. What did he say to him?"
"Said 'Good-by! God bless you!'"
"I'll shut his mouth. Confound the beggars! how fond they are of
talking. I think they would rather go without their food than without
"No. 19 caught writing a story. It is that fellow Robinson, one of the
parson's men. I'll write something on his skin. How did he get the
things to write with?"
"Chaplain gave them him."
"Ah! I am glad of that. You brought them away, of course?"
"Yes, sir; here they are. He made a terrible fuss about parting with
"What did he say?"
"He said Heaven was to judge between me and him."
"Blaspheming dog! ---- him! I'll break him. What else?"
"'Get out of my sight,' said he, 'for fear I do you a mischief.' So
then down he pops on his knees in a corner and turns his back on me,
like an ignorant brute that he is."
"Never mind, Fry, I'll break him."
"I suppose we shall see you in the prison soon, shan't we, sir? The
place looks strange to me without you."
"By-and-by--by-and-by. This confounded book sticks to me like a leech.
How far had you got when you lent it me?"
"Got just to the most interesting part," said Fry dolefully, "where he
comes under a chap called Legree; and then you took it away."
"Well, you'll have it again as soon as I have done with it. I say,
what do you think of this book? is it true do you think?"
"Oh! it is true--I'd take my oath of that."
"Why how do you know?"
"Because it reads like true."
"That is no rule, ye fool."
"Well, sir, what do you think?"
This question staggered Hawes for a moment. However he assumed an
oracular look, and replied, "I think some of it is true and some
"Do you think it is true about their knocking down blackee in one lot,
and his wife in another, and sending 'em a thousand miles apart?"
"Oh, that is true enough! I daresay."
"And running them down with bloodhounds?"
"Why not; they look upon the poor devils as beasts. If you tell a
Yankee a nigger is a man he thinks you are poking fun at him."
"It is a cursed shame!"
"Of course it is! but I'll tell you what I can't swallow in this book.
Hem! did you ever fall in with any Yankees?"
"One or two, sir."
"Were they green at all?"
"That they weren't. They were rather foxy, I should say."
"Rather. Why one of them would weather upon any three Englishmen that
ever were born. Now here is a book that as good as tells me it is a
Yankee custom to disable their beasts of burden. Gammon! they can't
afford to do it. I believe," continued this candid personage (who had
never been in any of the States), "they are the cruelest set on the
face of the earth, but then they are the 'cutest (that is their own
word), and they are a precious sight too 'cute to disable the beast
that carries the grist to the mill."
"Doesn't seem likely--now you put it to me."
"Have a glass of grog, Fry."
"Thank you, sir."
"And there is the paper. Run your eye over it and don't speak to me
for ten minutes, for I must see how Tom gets on under this
Fry read the paper; but although he moistened it with a glass of grog,
he could not help casting envious glances from his folio at Mr.
Fibs mixed with truth charm us more than truth mixed with fibs.
Presently an oath escaped from Mr. Hawes.
"Nothing, it is only this infernal--humph!"
Presently another expletive. "I'll tell you what it is, Fry, if
somebody doesn't knock this thundering Legree on the head, I'll put
the book on the fire."
"Well, but if it isn't true, sir?"
"But it is true, every word of it, while you are reading it, ye fool.
What heathens there are in the world! First they sell a child out of
his mother's arms. She cuts sooner than be parted. They hunt her and
come up with her; but she knows what they are, and trusts her life and
the child to one of their great thundering frozen rivers as broad as
the British Channel sooner than fall into their hands. That is like a
woman, Fry. A fig for me being drowned if the kid is drowned with me;
and I don't even care so much for the kid being drowned if I go down
with him--and the cowardly vermin dogs and men stood barking on the
bank and dursn't follow a woman; but your cruel ones are always
cowards. And now the rips have got hold of this Tom. A chap with no
great harm in him that I see, except that he is a ---- sniveler and
psalm-singer, and makes you sick at times, but he isn't lazy; and now
they are mauling him because he couldn't do the work of two. A man can
but do his best, black or white, and it is infernal stupidity as well
as cruelty to torment a fellow because he can't do more than he can
do. And all this because over the same flesh and blood there is the
sixteenth of an inch of skin a different color. Wonder whether a white
bear takes a black one for a hog, or a red fox takes a blue one for a
badger. Well, Fry, thank your stars that you were born in Britain.
There are no slaves here, and no buying and selling of human flesh;
and one law for high and low, rich and poor, and justice for the weak
as well as the strong."
"Yes, sir," said Fry deferentially--"are you coming into the jail,
"No," replied Hawes sturdily, "I won't move till I see what becomes of
the negro, and what is done to this eternal ruffian."
"But about the prisoners in my report, sir," remonstrated Fry.
"Oh, you can see to that without my coming," replied Hawes with
nonchalance. "Put 40 and 45 in the jacket four hours apiece. Mind
there's somebody by with the bucket against they sham."
"Put the boy on bread and water--and to-morrow I'll ask the justices
to let me flog him. No. 14--humph! stop his supper--and his bed--and
"Oh, give him no supper at all--and no breakfast--not even bread and
water, d'ye hear. And at noon I'll put him with his empty belly in the
black-hole--that will cow him down to the ground--there, be off!"
Next morning Mr. Hawes sat down to breakfast in high spirits. This
very day he was sure to humiliate his adversary, most likely get rid
of him altogether.
Mr. Eden, on the contrary, wore a somber air. Hawes noticed it,
mistook it, and pointed it out to Fry. "He is down upon his luck; he
knows he is coming to an end."
After breakfast Mr. Eden went into Robinson's cell. He found him
haggard. "Oh, I am glad you are come, sir; they are starving me! No
supper last night, no breakfast this morning, and all for--hum."
"Well, sir, then--having paper in my cell, and for writing--doing what
you bade me--writing my life."
Mr. Eden colored and winced. The cruelty and the personal insult
combined almost took away his breath for a moment. "Heaven grant me
patience a little longer," said he aloud. Then he ran out of the cell,
and returned in less than a minute with a great hunch of bread and a
slice of ham. "Eat this," said he, all fluttering with pity.
The famished man ate like a wolf; but in the middle he did stop to
say, "Did one man ever save another so often as you have me! Now my
belly is full I shall have strength to stand the jacket, or whatever
is to come next."
"But you are not to be tormented further than this, I hope?"
"Ah, sir!" replied Robinson, "you don't know the scoundrel yet. He is
not starving me for nothing. This is to weaken me till he puts the
weight on that is to crush me."
"I hope you exaggerate his personal dislike to you and your own
importance--we all do that."
"Well," sighed Robinson, "I hope I do. Any way now my belly is full I
have got a chance with him."
The visiting justices met in the jail. The first to arrive was Mr.
Woodcock. In fact he came at eleven o'clock, an hour before the
others. Had Mr. Hawes expected him so soon, he would have taken Carter
down, who was the pilloried one this morning; but he was equal to the
emergency. He met Mr. Woodcock with a depressed manner, as of a tender
but wise father, who in punishing his offspring had punished himself,
and said in a low, regretful voice, "I am sorry to say I have been
compelled to punish a prisoner very severely."
"What is his offense?"
"Being refractory and breaking his crank. You will find him in the
labor-yard. He was so violent we were obliged to put him in the
"I shall see him. The labor-yard is the first place I go to."
Mr. Hawes knew that, Mr. Woodcock.
The justice found Carter in that state of pitiable torture, the sight
of which made Mr. Eden very ill. He went up to him and said, "My poor
fellow, I am very sorry for you; but discipline must be maintained,
and you are now suffering for fighting against it. Make your
submission to the governor, and then I dare say he will shorten your
punishment as far as he thinks consistent with his duty."
Carter, it may well be imagined, made no answer. It is doubtful
whether the worthy magistrate expected or required one. An occasion
for misjudging a self-evident case of cruelty had arrived. This worthy
seized the opportunity, received an ex-parte statement for Gospel, and
misjudged, spite of his senses.
Item. An occasion for twaddling had come, and this good soul seized it
and twaddled into a man's ear who was fainting on the rack.
At this moment the more observant Hawes saw the signs of shamming
coming on. So he said hastily, "Oh, he will come to soon, and then he
will be taken down;" and moved away. Mr. Woodcock followed him without
one grain of suspicion or misgiving.
The English State has had many opportunities of gauging the average
intellects of its unpaid jurists. By these it has profited so well
that it intrusts blindly to this gentleman and his brethren the
They are to come into a place of darkness and mystery, a place locked
up; a place which, by the folly of the nation and the shallow egotists
who are its placemen and are called its statesmen, is not subject to
the only safeguard of law and morals--daily inspection by the great
unprejudiced public. They are to come into this, the one pitch-dark
hole that is now left in the land. They are to come here once in two
months, and at this visit to see all that has been done there in the
dark since their last visit. Their eagle eye is not to be hoodwinked
by appearances got up to meet their visit. They are to come and
comprehend with one piercing glance the past months as well as the
present hour. Good. Only for this task is required, not the
gullibility that characterizes the many, but the sagacity that
distinguishes the few.
Mr. Woodcock undertook not to be deceived as to what had been done in
the jail while he was forty miles distant--and Hawes gulled him under
his own eyes.
What different men there are in the world, and how differently are the
same things seen by them! The first crucifixion Eden saw he turned as
sick as a dog--the first crucifixion Woodcock saw he twaddled in the
crucified's ear, left him on the cross, and went on his way well
Hawes, finding what sort of a man he had to deal with, thought within
himself, "Why should I compromise discipline in any point?" He said to
Mr. Woodcock, "There is another prisoner whom I am afraid I must give
an hour in the dark cell."
"What has he been doing?"
"Scribbling a lot of lies upon some paper he got from the chaplain."
Mr. Hawes's brief and unkind definition of autobiography did
Robinson's business. Mr. Woodcock simply observed that the proposed
punishment was by no means a severe one for the offense.
They visited several cells. Woodcock addressed the prisoners in
certain words, accompanied with certain tones and looks, that were at
least as significant as his words, and struck the prisoners as more
"If you have anything to complain of here, now is the time to say so,
and your complaint shall be sifted."
The tones and looks.
"I know you are better off here than such scum as you deserve, but you
have a right to contradict me if you like; only mind, if you don't
prove it to my satisfaction, who am not the man to believe anything
you say, you had better have held your tongue."
Meantime Mr. Hawes said nothing, but fixed his eye on the rogue, and
that eye said, "One word of discontent and the moment he is gone I
massacre you." Then followed in every case the old theatrical business
according to each rogue's measure of ability. They were in the Elysian
fields; one thing alone saddened them; some day or other they must
return to the world.
Fathers, sent by your apprehensive wives to see whether Dicky is well
used at that school or not, don't draw Dicky into a corner of the
playground, and with tender kisses and promises of inviolable secrecy
coax him to open his little heart to you, and tell you whether he is
really happy; leave such folly to women--it is a weakness to wriggle
into the truth as they do.
No! you go like a man into the parlor with the schoolmaster--then have
Dicky in--let him see the two authorities together on good terms--then
ask him whether he is happy and comfortable and well used. He will
tell you he is. Go home rejoicing--but before you go into the
drawing-room do pray spend twenty minutes by the kitchen fire, and
then go upstairs to the boy's mother--and let her eat you, for you
belong to the family of the Woodcocks.
"We are passing one cell."
"Oh! that one is empty," replied Hawes.
Not quite empty; there was a beech coffin standing in that cell, and
the corpse of a murdered thief lay waiting for it.
At twelve o'clock the justices were all assembled in their room. "We
will send you a message in half an hour, Mr. Hawes."
Mr. Hawes bowed and retired, and bade Fry to take Robinson to the dark
cell. The poor fellow knew resistance was useless. He came out at the
word of command, despair written on his face. Of all the horrors of
this hell the dark cell was the one he most dreaded. He looked up to
Hawes to see if anything he could say would soften him. No! that
hardened face showed neither pity nor intelligence; as well appeal to
a stone statue of a mule.
At this moment Mr. Eden came into the jail. Robinson met him on the
ground-floor, and cried out to him, "Sir, they are sending me to the
black hole for it. I am a doomed man; the black hole for six hours."
"No!" roared Hawes from above, "for twelve hours; the odd six is for
speaking in prison." Robinson groaned.
"I will take you out in three," said Mr. Eden calmly. Hawes heard and
"Give me your hand on that, sir, for pity's sake," cried Robinson. Mr.
Eden gave him his hand and said, firmly, "I will take you out in two
hours, please God."
Hawes chuckled. "Parson is putting his foot in it more and more. The
justices shall know this."
This momentary contact with his good angel gave Robinson one little
ray of hope for a companion in the cave of darkness, madness, and
THE justices went through their business in the usual routine. They
had Mr. Hawes's book up--examined the entries--received them with
implicit confidence looked for no other source of information to
compare them with. Examined one witness and did not cross-examine him.
This done, one of them proposed to concoct their report at once.
Another suggested that the materials were not complete; that there was
a charge against the chaplain. This should be looked into, and should
it prove grave, embodied in their report.
Mr. Williams overruled this. "We can reprimand, or if need be the
bench can dismiss a chaplain without troubling the Secretaries of
State. Let us make our report and then look into the chaplain's
conduct, who is, after all, a newcomer, and they say a little cracked;
he is a man of learning."
So they wrote their report, and in it expressed their conviction that
the system on the whole worked admirably. They noticed the incident of
Josephs' suicide, but attached no significance and little importance
to it. Out of a hundred and eighty prisoners there would be a few
succumb in one way or another under the system, but on the whole the
system worked well.
Jugger system's wheels were well greased, and so long as they were
well greased it did not matter their crushing one or two. Besides the
crushed were only prisoners--the refuse of society. They reported the
governor, Mr. Hawes, as a painstaking, active, zealous officer; and
now Mr. Hawes was called in--the report was read to him--and he bowed,
laid his hand upon his aorta, and presented a histrionic picture of
modest merit surprised by unexpected praise from a high quarter.
Next, Mr. Hawes was requested to see the report sent off to the post.
"I will, gentlemen;" and in five minutes he was at the post-office in
person, and his praises on the way to his sovereign or her
"How long will the parson take us?"
"Oh! not ten minutes."
"I hope not, for I want to look at a horse."
"We had better send for him at once, then."
The bell was rung and the chaplain sent for. The chaplain was praying
the prayers for the sick by the side of a dying prisoner. He sent back
word how he was employed, and that he would come as soon as he had
This message was not well received. Keep a living justice waiting for
a dying dog!
"These puppies want taking down," said Mr. Woodcock.
"Oh, leave him to me," replied Mr. Williams.
Soon after this the following puppy came into the room. A gentleman of
commanding figure, erect but easy, with a head of remarkable symmetry
and an eye like a stag's. He entered the room quietly but rather
quickly, and with an air of business; bowed rapidly to the three
gentlemen in turn, and waited in silence their commands.
Then Mr. Williams drew himself up in his chair, and wore the solemn
and dignified appearance that becomes a judge trying a prisoner, with
this difference, that his manner was not harsh or intentionally
offensive, but just such as to reveal his vast superiority and
In a solemn tone, with a touch of pity, he began thus:
"I am sorry to say, Mr. Eden, that grave charges are laid against you
in the prison."
"Give yourself no uneasiness on my account, sir," replied Mr. Eden
politely, "they are perhaps false."
"Yet they come from one who has means of knowing--from the governor,
"Ah! then they are sure to be false."
"We shall see. Four Sundays ago you preached a sermon."
"Ay, but one was against cruelty."
"It was; the other handled theft."
"Mr. Hawes conceives himself to have been singled out and exposed by
"Why so? there are more than thirty cruel men in this jail besides
"Then this sermon was not aimed at him?" put Mr. Williams with a
"It was and it was not. It was aimed at that class of my parishioners
to which he belongs; a large class, including all the turnkeys but
one, between twenty and thirty of the greater criminals among the
prisoners--and Mr. Hawes."
Mr. Williams bit his lip. "Gentlemen, this classification shows the
animus;" then turning to Mr. Eden he said, with a half-incredulous
sneer, "How comes it that Mr. Hawes took this sermon all to himself?"
Mr. Eden smiled. "How does it happen that two prisoners, 82 and 87,
took it all to themselves? These two men sent for me after the sermon;
they were wife-beaters. I found them both in great agitation. One
terrified, the other softened to tears of penitence. These did not
apply my words to Mr. Hawes. The truth is when a searching sermon is
preached each sinner takes it to himself. I am glad Mr. Hawes fitted
the cap on. I am glad the prisoners fitted the cap on. I am sorry Mr.
Hawes was irritated instead of reformed. I am glad those two less
hardened sinners were reformed instead of irritated."
"And I must tell you, sir, that we disapprove of your style of
preaching altogether, and we shall do more, we shall make a change in
this respect the condition of your remaining in office."
"And the bishop of the diocese?" asked Mr. Eden.
"What about him?"
"Do you think he will allow you, an ignorant, inexperienced layman, to
usurp the episcopal function in his diocese."
"The episcopal function? Mr. Eden."
Mr. Eden smiled. "He does not even see that he has been trying to
usurp sacred functions and of the highest order. But it is all of a
piece--a profound ignorance of all law, civil or ecclesiastical,
characterizes all your acts in this jail. My good soul, just ask
yourself for what purpose does a bishop exist? Why is one priest
raised above other priests, and consecrated bishop, but to enable the
Church to govern its servants. I laugh--but I ought rather to rebuke
you. What you have attempted is something worse than childish
arrogance. Be warned! and touch not the sacred vessels so rashly--it
The flashing eye and the deepening voice, and the old awful
ecclesiastical superiority suddenly thundering upon them quite cowed
the two smaller magistrates. Williams, whose pomposity the priest had
so rudely shaken, gasped for breath with rage. Magisterial arrogance
was not prepared for ecclesiastical arrogance, and the blow was
"Gentlemen, I wish to consult you. Be pleased to retire for a minute,
A discussion took place in the chaplain's absence. Williams was for
dismissing him on the spot, but the others who were cooler would not
hear of it. "We have made a false move," said they, "and he saw our
mistake and made the most of it. Never mind! we shall catch him on
During this discussion Mr. Eden had not been idle; he went into
Robinson's empty cell and coolly placed there another inkstand, pen
and quire in the place of those Hawes had removed. Then glancing at
his watch he ran hastily out of the jail. Opposite the gate he found
four men waiting; they were there by appointment.
"Giles," said he to one, "I think a gentleman will come down by the
next train. Go to the station and hire Jenkyns's fly with the gray
horse. Let no one have it who is not coming on to the jail. You two
stay by the printing-press and loom till further orders. Jackson, you
keep in the way, too. My servant will bring you your dinner at two
o'clock." He then ran back to the justices. They were waiting for him.
Mr. Williams began with a cutting coldness. "We did not wish to go to
the length of laying a complaint against you before the bishop, but if
you really prefer this to a friendly remonstrance--"
"I prefer the right thing to the wrong thing," was the prompt and calm
"The complaint shall be made."
Mr. Eden bowed and his eyes twinkled. He pictured to himself this
pompous personage writing to the Bishop of ---- to tell him that he
objected to Mr. Eden's preaching; not that he had ever heard it; but
that in attacking a great human vice it had hit a jailer.
"The next I think we can deal with. Mr. Hawes complains that you
constantly interfere between him and the prisoners, and undermine his
"I support him in all his legal acts, but I do oppose his illegal
"Your whole aim is to subvert the discipline of the jail."
"On the contrary, I assure you I am the only officer of the jail who
maintains the discipline as by law established."
"Am I to understand that you give Mr. Hawes the lie?"
"You shall phrase my contradiction according to your own taste, sir."
"And which do you think is likeliest to be believed?"
"Mr. Hawes by you gentlemen; Mr. Eden by the rest of the nation."
Here Mr. Palmer put in his word. "I don't think we ought to pay less
respect to one man's bare assertion than to another's. It is a case
"Well, but, Palmer," replied Woodcock, "how can the jail go on with
these two at daggers drawn?"
"It cannot," said Mr. Eden.
"Ah, you can see that."
"A house divided against itself!" suggested Mr. Eden.
"Well, then," said Mr. Woodcock, "let us try and give a more friendly
tone to this discussion."
"Why not?--our weapons would bear polishing."
"Yes; you have a high reputation, Mr. Eden, both for learning and
Christian feeling; in fact, the general consideration in which you are
held has made us more lenient in this case than we should have been
with another man in your office."
"There you are all wrong."
"You can't mean that; make us some return for this feeling. You know
and feel the value of peace and unity?"
"Then be the man to restore them to this place."
"I will try."
"The governor and you cannot pull together--one must go."
"Well, then, no stigma shall rest on you--you will be allowed to offer
us your voluntary resignation."
"Excuse me, I propose to arrive at peace and unity by another route."
"But I see no other."
"If I turn Mr. Hawes out it will come to the same thing, will it not?"
"But you can't turn him out, sir," sneered Williams.
"I think I can."
"He has our confidence and our respect, and shall have our
"Still I will turn him out with God's help."
"This is a defiance, Mr. Eden."
"You cannot really think me capable of defying three justices of the
peace!" said Mr. Eden in a solemn tone, his eyes twinkling.
"Defiance! no," said Mr. Palmer innocently.
"Well, but, Palmer, his opposition to Mr. Hawes is opposition to us,
and is so bitter that it leaves us no alternative. We must propose to
the bench to remove you from your office."
Mr. Eden bowed.
"And meantime," put in Mr. Williams, "we shall probably suspend you
this very day by our authority." Mr. Eden bowed.
"We will not detain you any longer, sir," said Williams, rather
"I will but stay to say one word to this gentleman, who has conducted
himself with courtesy toward me. Sir, for your own sake do not enter
on this contest with me; it is an unequal one. A boy has just been
murdered in this prison. I am about to drag his murderer into the
light; why hang upon his skirts and compel me to expose you to public
horror as his abettor? There is yet time to disown the fell practices
of--hell!" He looked at his watch. "There is half an hour. Do not
waste it in acts which our superiors will undo. See here are the
prison rules; a child could understand them. A child could see that
what you call 'the discipline' is a pure invention of the present
jailer, and contradicts the discipline as by law established, and
consequently that Josephs and others have been murdered by this
lawless man. These are the prison rules, are they not? and here are
the jailer's proceedings in the month of January--compare the two, and
separate your honorable name from the contact of this caitiff, whose
crimes will gibbet him in the nation's eyes, and you with him, unless
you seize this chance and withdraw your countenance from him."
The three injustices rose by one impulse. "Make your preparations to
leave the jail," said Mr. Woodcock.
"Half an hour is quite enough under the circumstances," said Williams.
Palmer stood aghast--his mind was not fast enough to keep up.
Mr. Eden bowed and retired. He was scarcely out of the room when the
justices drew up an order for his suspension from his office.
Mr. Hawes was next sent for.
"We have found the chaplain all you described him. Discipline is
impossible with such a man; here is an order for his suspension."
Hawes's eyes sparkled. "We will enter it into the book, meantime you
are to see it executed." Hawes went out, but presently returned.
"He won't go, gentlemen."
"What do you mean by he won't go?" said Williams.
"I told him your orders; and he said, 'Tell their worships they are
exceeding their authority, and I won't go.' Then I said, 'They give
you half an hour to pack up and then you must pack off.'"
"He! he! he! and what did he say?"
"'Oh, they give me half an hour, do they?' says he--'you take them
this'--and he wrote this on a slip of paper--here it is."
The slip contained these words--
While the justices were puzzling over this, Hawes added, "Gentlemen,
he said in his polite way, 'If it is like the prison rules and beats
their comprehension, you may tell them it means--
"'There is many a slip
'Twixt the cup and the lip.'"
"Well, Mr. Hawes--what next?"
"'I am victualed for a siege,' says he, and he goes into his own room,
and I heard him shoot the bolt."
"What does that mean?" inquired Mr. Palmer.
"It means, sir, that you won't get him out except by kicking him out."
Hawes had been irritating their wounded vanity in order to get them up
to this mark.
"Then turn him out by force," said Williams. But the other two were
wiser. "No, we must not do that--we can keep him out if once he
crosses the door."
"I will manage it for you, gentlemen," said Mr. Hawes.
Mr. Hawes went out and primed Fry with a message to Mr. Eden that a
gentleman had ridden over from Oxford to see him, and was at his
Mr. Eden was in his room busy collecting and arranging several papers.
He had just tied them up in a little portfolio when he heard Fry's
voice at the door. When that worthy delivered his message his lip
curled with scorn. But he said, "Very well." I will disappoint the sly
boobies, thought he. But the next moment, looking out of his window,
he saw a fly with a gray horse coming along the road. "At last," he
cried, and instantly unbolted his door, and issued forth with his
little portfolio under his arm. He had scarce taken ten steps when a
turnkey popped out from a corner and stood sentinel over his
room-door, barring all return.
Mr. Eden smiled and passed on along the corridor. He descended from
the first floor to the basement. Here he found Hawes affecting
business, but not skillfully enough to hide that he was watching Mr.
In the yard leading to the great door he found the injustices. Aha!
thought he--waiting to see me out. He raised his hat politely.
Williams took no notice. The others slight.
"There is many a slip
'Twixt the cup and the lip,"
said he to them, looking them calmly over, then sauntered toward the
Mr. Hawes came creeping after and joined the injustices; every eye
furtively watched the parson whom they had outwitted. Fry himself had
gone to the lodge to let him out and keep him out. He was but a few
steps from the door. Hawes chuckled; his heart beat with exultation. A
nether moment and that huge barrier would be interposed forever
between him and his enemy, the prisoners' friend.
"Open the door, Mr. Fry," said the chaplain. Fry pulled it quickly
open. "And let that gentleman in!"
A middle-aged gentleman was paying off his fly. The door being thus
thrown open he walked quickly into the jail as if it belonged to him.
"Who is this?" inquired Mr. Williams sharply. The newcomer inquired as
sharply, "The governor of this jail?"
Mr. Hawes stepped forward: "I am the governor." The newcomer handed
him his card and a note.
"Mr. Lacy from the Home Office," said Mr. Hawes to the injustices.
"These, sir, are the visiting justices."
Mr. Lacy bowed, but addressed himself to Mr. Hawes only. "Grave
charges have been made against you, sir. I am here to see whether
matters are such as to call for a closer investigation."
"May I ask, sir, who makes the charges against me?"
"The chaplain of your own jail."
"But he is my enemy, sir, my personal enemy."
"Don't distress yourself. No public man is safe from detraction. We
hear an excellent account of you from every quarter but this one. My
visit will probably turn to your advantage."
"Is there any room in which I could conduct this inquiry?"
"Will you be pleased to come to the justices' room?"
"Yes. Let us go there at once. Gentlemen, you shall be present if you
"It is right you should know the chaplain is cracked," said Mr.
"I should not wonder. Pray," inquired Mr. Lacy, "who was that
bilious-looking character near the gate when I came in?"
"Why, that was the chaplain."
"I thought so! I dare say we shall find he has taken a jaundiced view
of things. Send for him, if you please, and let us get through the
business as quickly as we can."
When Mr. Eden came he found Mr. Lacy chatting pleasantly with his four
adversaries. On his entrance the gentleman's countenance fell a
little, and Mr. Eden had the pleasure of seeing that this man, too,
was prejudiced against him.
"Mr. Eden, be seated, if you please. You appear to be ill, sir?"
"I am recovering from a mortal sickness."
"The jaundice, eh?"
"Something of that nature."
"A horrible complaint."
Mr. Eden bowed.
"I have had some experience of it. Are you aware of its effect on the
"I feel its effect on the temper and the nerves."
"Deeper than that, sir--it colors the judgment. Makes us look at
everything on the dark side."
Mr. Eden sighed: "I see what you are driving at; but you confound
effect with cause."
Mr. Lacy shrugged his shoulders, opened his portfolio, and examined a
paper or two.
"Mr. Hawes, you served her majesty in another way before you came
"Five and twenty years, sir, man and boy."
"And I think with credit?"
"My will has been good to do my duty, whatever my abilities may be."
"I believe you distinguished yourself at sea in a storm in the West
Mr. Williams put in warmly, "He went out to a vessel in distress in a
hurricane at Jamaica."
"It was off the Mauritius," observed Mr. Eden with a gleam of
"Well," said Mr. Lacy, "he saved other lives at the risk of his own,
no matter where. Pray, Mr. Eden, does your reading and experience lead
you to believe that a brave man is ever a cruel one?"
"There is a proverb that the cruel are always cowards."
"Cant! seven out of twelve are cowards and five brave."
"I don't agree with you. The presumption is all on Mr. Hawes's side."
"And only the facts on mine."
Mr. Lacy smiled superciliously. "To the facts let us go, then. You
received a note from the Home Office this morning. In compliance with
that note have you prepared your case?"
"Will you begin by giving me an idea what the nature of your evidence
"A page or two of print--twenty of manuscript--three or four living
witnesses, and--one dead body."
"Hum! he seems in earnest, gentlemen. How long do you require to state
your case? Can it be done to-day?" Mr. Lacy looked at his watch half
"Half an hour," was the reply.
"Only half an hour?"
"Ay, but half an hour neat."
"What do you mean by neat?"
"The minutes not to be counted that are wasted in idle interruptions
or in arguments drawn from vague probabilities where direct evidence
lies under our senses. For instance, that because I have been
twenty-five years a servant of Christ with good repute, therefore it
is not to be credited I could bring a false accusation; or that
because Mr. Hawes was brave twenty years ago in one set of
circumstances, therefore he cannot be cruel now in another set of
Mr. Lacy colored a little, but he took a pinch of snuff, and then
coolly drew out of his pocket a long paper sealed.
"Have you any idea what this is?"
Mr. Eden caught sight of the direction; it was to himself.
"Probably my dismissal from my post?"
Hawes quivered with exultation.
"And I have authority to present you with it if you do not justify the
charges you have made against a brother officer."
"Good!" said Mr. Eden. "This is intelligent and it is just. The first
gleam of either that has come into this dark hole since I have known
it. I augur well from this."
"This is a character, gentlemen."
"To business, sir?" inquired Mr. Eden, undoing his portfolio.
"Sir," put in Mr. Hawes, "I object to an ex-parte statement from a
personal enemy. You are here to conduct a candid inquiry, not to see
the chaplain conduct a hostile one. I feel that justice is safe in
your hands but not in his."
"Stop a bit," said Mr. Eden; "I am to be dismissed unless I prove
certain facts. See! the Secretary of State has put me on my defense. I
will intrust that defense to no man but myself."
"You are keen, sir, but--you are in the right; and you, Mr. Hawes,
will be here to correct his errors and to make your own statement
after he has done in half an hour."
"Ah! well," thought Hawes, "he can't do me much harm in half an hour."
"Begin, sir!" and he looked at his watch.
"Mr. Hawes, I want your book; the log-book of the prison."
"Get it, Mr. Hawes, if you please."
Mr. Hawes went out.
"Mr. Williams, are these the Prison Rules by Act of Parliament?" and
he showed him the paper.
"They are, sir."
"Examine them closely, Mr. Lacy; they contain the whole discipline of
this prison as by law established. Keep them before you. It is with
these you will have to compare the jailer's acts. And now, how many
times is the jailer empowered to punish any given prisoner?"
"Once --on a second offense the prisoner, I see, is referred for
punishment to the visiting justices."
"If, therefore, this jailer has taken upon himself to punish the same
prisoner twice he has broken the law."
"At all events he has gone beyond the letter of this particular set of
"But these rules were drawn up by lawyers, and are based on the law of
the land. A jailer, in the eye of the law, is merely a head turnkey
set to guard the prisoners. For hundreds of years he had no lawful
right to punish a prisoner at all; that right was first bestowed on
him with clear limitations by an act passed in George the Fourth's
reign, which I must show you, because that act is a jailer's sole
authority for punishing a prisoner at all. Here is the passage, sir;
will you be kind enough to read it out?"
"Hum! 'The keeper of every prison shall have power to hear all
complaints touching any of the following offenses: Disobedience of the
prison rules, assaults by one prisoner on another where no dangerous
wound is given, profane cursing or swearing, any indecent behavior at
chapel, idleness or negligence in work. The said keeper may punish all
such offenses by ordering any offender to close confinement in the
refractory or solitary cells, and by keeping such offenders upon bread
and water only for any term not exceeding three days.'"
"Observe," put in Mr. Eden, "he can only punish once, and then not
select the punishment according to his own fancy; he is restricted to
separate confinement, and bread and water, and three days."
Mr. Lacy continued: "'In case any criminal prisoner shall be guilty of
any repeated offense against the rules of the prison, or of any
greater offense than the jailer is by this act empowered to punish,
the said jailer shall forthwith report the same to the visiting
justices, who can punish for one month, or felons or those sentenced
to hard labor by personal correction.'"
"Such, sir," said Mr. Eden, "is the law of England, and the men who
laid down our prison rules were not so ignorant or unscrupulous as to
run their head against the statute law of the land. Nowhere in our
prison rules will you find any power given to our jailer to punish any
but minor offenses, or to punish any prisoner more than once, or to
inflict any variety of punishments. Such are this jailer's powers--now
for his acts and their consequences--follow me."
"Evans, open this cell. Jenkyns, what are you in prison for?"
"For running away from sarvice, your reverence."
"How often have you been punished since you came?"
"A good many times, your reverence."
"By the visiting justices?"
"No, sir! I was never punished by them, only by the governor."
"What have been your offenses?"
"I don't know, sir. I never meant to offend at all, but I am not very
strong, and the governor he puts me on a heavy crank and then I can't
always do the work, and I suppose he thinks it is for want of the
will, and so he gives it me."
"How has he punished you?"
"Oh! sometimes it is clamming; nothing but a twopenny roll all day,
and kept to hard work all the same; sometimes my bed taken away, you
know, sir, but mostly the punishment jacket."
Mr. Lacy. "The punishment jacket; what is that?"
Mr. Eden. "Look in the prison rules and see if you can find a
punishment jacket; meantime come with me. Two gross violations of the
law--repetition of punishment and variety of punishments. Evans, open
this cell. What are you in for?"
Prisoner (taking off his cap politely). "Burglary, gentlemen."
"Have you been often refractory since you came here?"
"Once or twice, sir. But--"
"These gentlemen are the visiting justices?"
"They would be offended if I told the truth."
Mr. Lacy. "I am here from the Secretary of State, and I bid you tell
Prisoner. "Oh! are you, sir; well, then, the truth is, I never was
refractory but once."
Mr. Lacy. "Oh! you were refractory once?"
Prisoner. "Yes, sir!"
Mr. Lacy. "How came that?"
Prisoner. "Well, sir! it was the first week. I had never been in a
separate cell before, and it drove me mad; no one came near me or
spoke a word to me, and I turned savage; I didn't know myself, and I
broke everything in the cell."
Mr. Eden. "And the other times?"
Prisoner. "The other times, sir, I was called refractory but I was
Mr. Eden. "What punishments have been inflicted on you by the
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