It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Part 8 out of 17
Prisoner. "Well, sir! the black-cell, bread and water, and none of
that; took away my gas once or twice, but generally it was the
Mr. Lacy. "Hum! the punishment jacket."
Mr. Eden. "How long since you had the punishment jacket?"
Prisoner. "No longer than yesterday."
Mr. Eden. "Strip, my man, and let us look at your back."
The prisoner stripped and showed his back, striped livid and red by
the cutting straps.
Mr. Lacy gave a start, but the next moment he resumed his official
composure, and at this juncture Mr. Hawes bustled into the cell and
fixed his eye on the prisoner.
"What are you doing?" said he, eying the man.
"The gentleman made me strip, sir," said the prisoner with an ill-used
"Have you any complaint to make against me?"
"Then what have you been humbugging us for all this time," cried Mr.
"For instance," cried Mr. Eden in the same tone, glancing slyly at Mr.
Lacy, "how dare you show us frightful wales upon your back when you
know they only exist in your imagination--and mine."
Mr. Lacy laughed. "That is true, he can't retract his wales, and I
shall be glad to know how they came there." Here he made a note.
"I will show you by and by," said Mr. Eden.
The next two cells they went to, the prisoners assured Mr. Lacy that
they were treated like Mr. Hawes's children.
"Well, sir!" said Lacy, with evident satisfaction, "what do you say to
"I say--use your eyes." And he wheeled the last prisoner to the light.
"Look at this hollow eye and faded cheek; look at this trembling frame
and feel this halting pulse. Here is a poor wretch crushed and quelled
by cruelty till scarce a vestige of man is left. Look at him! here is
an object to pretend to you that he has been kindly used. Poor wretch,
his face gives the lie to his tongue, and my life on it his body
confirms his face. Strip, my lad."
Mr. Hawes interposed, and said it was cruel to make a prisoner strip
to gratify curiosity. Mr. Eden laughed. "Come, strip," said he; "the
gentleman is waiting." The prisoner reluctantly took off his coat,
waistcoat and shirt, and displayed an emaciated person and several
large livid stripes on his back. Mr. Lacy looked grave.
"Now, Mr. Lacy, you see the real reason why this humane gentleman did
not like the prisoner to strip. Come to another. Before we go in to
this one let me ask you one question: Do you think they will ever tell
you the truth while Mr. Hawes's eye is on them?"
"Hum! they certainly seem to stand in awe of Mr. Hawes."
Hawes. "But, sir! you see how bitter the chaplain is against me. Where
he is I ought to be if I am to have fair play."
"Certainly, Mr. Hawes, certainly! that is but fair."
Mr. Eden. "What are you in for?"
Prisoner. "Taking a gentleman's wipe, gentlemen."
Mr. Eden. "Have you been often punished?"
Prisoner. "Yes, your reverence! Why you know I have; now didn't you
save my life when they were starving me to death two months ago?"
Mr. Lacy. "How did he save your life?"
Prisoner. "Made 'em put me on the sick list, and put something into my
Mr. Lacy. "What state was the man in, Mr. Eden?"
Mr. Eden. "He was like a skeleton, and so weak that he could only
speak two or three words at a time, and then had to stop a long while
and recover strength to say two or three more. I did not think a human
creature could be so near death and not die."
Mr. Lacy. "And did you know the cause?"
Mr. Eden. "Frankly, I did not. I had not at that time fathomed all the
horrors of this place."
Mr. Lacy. "Did you tell the chaplain at the time you were starving?"
Mr. Eden. "And why not?"
Mr. Hawes. "Simply because he never was starving."
Prisoner. "Well! I'll tell you, gentlemen. His reverence said to me,
'My poor fellow, you are very ill--I must have you on the sick list
directly,' and then he went for the doctor. Now I knew if I got on the
sick list they would fill my belly; so I said to myself, best let well
alone. If I had told him it was only starvation he would not
interfere, I thought."
Mr. Lacy opened his eyes. Mr. Eden sighed.
Mr. Lacy. "You seem to have a poor opinion of her majesty's officers."
Prisoner. "Didn't know him, you see--didn't know his character; the
humbug that was here before him would have let a poor fellow be kicked
into his grave before his eyes, and not hold out a hand to save him."
Mr. Lacy. "Let me understand you--were you kept without food?"
Prisoner. "I was a day and a half without any food at all."
Mr. Lacy. "By whose orders?"
Prisoner. "By the governor's there, and I was a week on a twopenny
loaf once a day, and kept at hard work on that till I dropped. Ah,
your reverence, I shall never forget your face. I should be under the
sod now if it was not for you!"
Williams. "You rascal, the last time I was here you told me you never
were so happy and comfortable."
Prisoner. "Ha! ha! ha! ha! he! he! haw! haw! ho! I ask your pardon for
laughing, sir; but you are so precious green. Why, if I had told you
the truth then I shouldn't be alive to talk to you now."
"What, I should have murdered you, should I!" said Mr. Hawes, with a
"Why you know you would, sir," replied the prisoner firmly and
respectfully, looking him full in the face before them all.
Mr. Lacy. "You don't think so, or you would not take these liberties
with him now."
The prisoner cast a look of pity on Mr. Lacy.
"Well, you _are_ green--what, can't you see that I am going out
to-day? Do you think I'd be such a cully as to tell a pack of
greenhorns like you the truth before a sharp hand like our governor,
if I was in his power; no, my term of imprisonment expired at twelve
"Then why are you here?"
"I'll tell you, sir. Our governor always detains a prisoner for hours
after the law sets him free. So then the poor fellow has not time to
get back to his friends, so then he sleeps in the town, ten to one at
a public-house; gets a glass, gets into bad company, and in a month or
two comes back here. That is the move, sir. Bless you, they are so
fond of us they don't like to part with us for good and all."
Mr. Lacy. "I do not for a moment believe, Mr. Hawes, that you have
foreseen these consequences, but the detention of this man after
twelve o'clock is clearly illegal, and you must liberate him on the
Mr. Hawes. "That I will, and I wish this had been pointed out to me
before, but it was a custom of the prison before my time."
Mr. Eden. "Evans, come this way, come in. How long have you been a
Evans. "Four years, sir."
Mr. Eden. "Do you happen to remember the practice of the late governor
with respect to prisoners whose sentence had expired?"
Evans. "Yes, sir! They were kept in their cells all the morning; then
at eleven their own clothes were brought in clean and dry, and they
had half an hour given them to take off the prison dress and put on
their own. Then a little before twelve they were taken into the
governor's own room for a word of friendly advice on leaving, or a
good book, or a tract, or what not. Then at sharp twelve the gate was
opened for them, and--"
Prisoner. "Good-by!--till we see you again."
Evans (sternly). "Come, my man, it is not for you to speak till you
are spoken to."
Mr. Eden. "You must not take that tone with the gentleman, Evans--this
is not a queen's prisoner, it is a private guest of Mr. Hawes. But
time flies. If after what we have heard and seen, you still doubt
whether this jailer has broken the law by punishing the same prisoner
more than once and in more ways than one, fresh evidence will meet you
at every step; but I would now direct your principal attention to
other points. Look at Rule 37. By this rule each prisoner must be
visited and conversed with by four officers every day, and they are to
stay with him upon the aggregate half an hour in the day. Now the
object of this rule is to save the prisoners from dying under the
natural and inevitable operation of solitude and enforced silence, two
things that are fatal to life and reason."
"But solitary confinement is legal."
Mr. Eden sighed heavily. "No it is not. Separate confinement, i.e.,
separation of prisoner from prisoner, is legal, but separation of a
prisoner from the human race is as illegal as any other mode of
homicide. It never was legal in England; it was legal for a short time
in the United States, and do you know why it has been made illegal
"No, I do not."
"Because they found that life and reason went out under it like the
snuff of a candle. Men went mad and died, as men have gone mad and
died here through the habitual breach of Rule 37, a rule the aim of
which is to guard separate confinement from being shuffled into
solitary confinement or homicide. Take twenty cells at random, and ask
the prisoners how many officers come and say good words to them as
bound by law; ask them whether they get their half hour per diem of
improving conversation. There is a row of shambles, go into them by
yourself, take neither the head butcher nor me."
Mr. Lacy bit his lip, bowed stiffly, and beckoned Evans to accompany
him into the cells. Mr. Hawes went in search of Fry, to concert what
was best to be done. Mr. Eden paced the corridor. As for Mr. Lacy, he
took the cells at random, skipping here and there. At last he returned
and sent for Mr. Hawes.
"I am sorry to say that the 37th Rule has been habitually violated;
the prisoners are unanimous; they tell me that so far from half an
hour's conversation, they never have three minutes, except with the
chaplain. And during his late illness they were often in perfect
solitude. They tell me, too, that when you do look in it is only to
terrify them with angry words and threats. Solitude broken only by
harsh language is a very sad condition for a human creature to lie
in--the law, it seems, does not sanction it--and our own imperfections
should plead against such terrible severity applied indiscriminately
to great and small offenders."
"Oh, that is well said, that is nobly said," cried Mr. Eden with
"Sir! I was put in here to carry out the discipline which had been
relaxed by the late governor, and I have but obeyed orders as it was
"Nonsense," retorted Mr. Eden. "The discipline of this jail is
comprised in these rules, of which eight out of ten are habitually
broken by you."
"He is right there so far, Mr. Hawes. You are here to maintain, not an
imaginary discipline, but an existing discipline strictly defined by
printed rules, and it seems clear you have committed (through
ignorance) serious breaches of these rules. But let us hope, Mr. Eden,
that no irreparable consequences have followed this unlucky breach of
"Irreparable? No!" replied Mr. Eden bitterly. "The Home Office can
call men back from the grave, can't it? Here is a list of five men all
extinguished in this prison by breach of Rule 37. You start.
Understand me, this is but a small portion of those who have been done
to death here in various ways; but these five dropped silently like
autumn leaves by breach of Rule 37. Rule 37 is one of the safety
valves which the law, more humane than the blockheads who execute it,
has attached to that terrible engine separate confinement."
"I cannot accept this without evidence."
"I have a book here that contains ample evidence; you shall see it.
Meantime I will just ask that turnkey about Hatchett, the first name
on your list of victims. Evans, what did you find in Hatchett's cell
when he was first discovered to be dying?"
"Eighteen loaves of bread, sir, on the floor in one corner."
"Eighteen loaves; I really don't understand."
"Don't you?--how could eighteen loaves have accumulated but by the man
rejecting his food for several days? How could they have accumulated
unobserved if Rule 37 had not been habitually broken? Alas! sir,
Hatchett's story, which I see is still dark to you, is as plain as my
hand to all of us who know the fatal effects of solitary or homicidal
confinement. Thus, sir, it was: Unsustained by rational employment,
uncheered by the sound of a human voice, torn out by the roots from
all healthy contact with the human race, the prisoner Hatchett's heart
and brain gave way together; being now melancholy mad he shunned the
food that was jerked blindly into his cell, like a bone to a wolf, by
this scientific contrivance to make brute fling food to brute, instead
of man handing it with a smile to grateful man; and so his body sunk
(his spirits and reason had succumbed before) and he died. His offense
was refusing to share his wages with a woman from whom he would have
been divorced, but that he was too poor to buy justice at so dear a
shop as the House of Lords. The law condemned him to a short
imprisonment. The jailer, on his own authority, substituted capital
"Is it your pleasure, sir, that I should be vilified and insulted thus
to my very face, and by my inferior officer?" asked Hawes, changing
"You have nothing to apprehend except from facts," was the somewhat
cold reply. "You are aware I do not share this gentleman's
"Would you like to see a man in the act of perishing through the
habitual breach of Rule 37 in ---- Jail?"
"Can you show me such a case?"
"Come with me."
They entered Strutt's cell. They found the old man in a state
bordering on stupor. When the door was opened he gave a start, but
speedily relapsed into stupor.
"Now, Mr. Lacy, here is a lesson for you. Would to God I could show
this sight to all the pedants of science who spend their useless lives
in studying the limbs of the crustaceonidunculae, and are content to
know so little about man's glorious body; and to all the State dunces
who give sordid blockheads the power to wreck the brains and bodies of
wicked men in these the clandestine shambles of the nation. Would I
could show these and all other numskulls in the land this dying man,
that they might write this one great truth in blood on their cold
hearts and muddy understandings. Alas! all great truths have to be
written in blood ere man will receive them."
"But what is your great truth?" asked Mr. Lacy impatiently.
"This, sir," replied Mr. Eden, putting his finger on the stupefied
prisoner's shoulder and keeping it there; "that the human body,
besides its grosser wants of food and covering, has its more delicate
needs, robbed of which it perishes more slowly and subtly but as
surely as when frozen or starved. One of these subtle but absolute
conditions of health is light. Without light the body of a blind man
pines as pines a tree without light. Tell that to the impostor
physical science deep in the crustaceonidunculae and ignorant of the A
B C of man. Without light man's body perishes, with insufficient light
it droops; and here in all these separate shambles is insufficient
light, a defect in our system which co-operates with this individual
jailer's abuse of it. Another of the body's absolute needs is work.
Another is conversation with human beings. If by isolating a vulgar
mind that has collected no healthy food to feed on in time of dearth
you starve it to a stand-still, the body runs down like a watch that
has not been wound up. Against this law of Nature it is not only
impious but idiotic to struggle. Almighty God has made man so, and so
he will remain while the world lasts. A little destructive blockhead
like this can knock God's work to pieces--ecce signum--but he can no
more alter it while it stands than he can mend it when he has let it
down and smashed it. Feel this man's pulse and look at his eye. Life
is ebbing from him by a law of Nature as uniform as that which governs
"His pulse is certainly very low, and when I first felt it he was
trembling all over."
"Oh, that was the agitation of his nerves--we opened the door
"And did that make a man tremble?"
"Certainly; that is a well-known symptom of solitary confinement; it
is by shattering a man's nerves all to pieces that it prepares the way
for his death, which death comes sometimes in raging lunacy, of which
eight men have died under Mr. Hawes's reign. Here is the list of
deaths by lunacy from breach of Rule 37, eight. You will have the
particulars by and by."
"I really don't see my way through this," said Mr. Lacy. "Let us come
to something tangible. What is this punishment jacket that leaves
marks of personal violence on so many prisoners?"
Now Hawes had been looking for this machine to hide it, but to his
surprise neither he nor Fry could find it.
"Evans, fetch the infernal machine."
"Yes, your reverence." Evans brought the jacket, straps and collar
from a cell where he had hidden them by Mr. Eden's orders. "You play
the game pretty close, parson," said Mr. Hawes, with an attempt at a
"I play to win. I am playing for human lives. This, sir, is the
torture, marks of which you have seen on the prisoners; but your
inexperience will not detect at a glance all the diabolical ingenuity
and cruelty that lurks in this piece of linen and these straps of
leather. However, it works thus: The man being in the jacket its back
straps are drawn so tight that the sufferer's breath is impeded, and
his heart, lungs and liver are forced into unnatural contact. You
stare. I must inform you that Nature is a wonderfully close packer.
Did you ever unpack a human trunk of its stomach, liver, lungs and
heart, and then try to replace them? I have; and, believe me, as no
gentleman can pack like a shopman, so no shopman can pack like Nature.
The victim's body and organs being crushed these two long straps
fasten him so tight to the wall that he cannot move to ease the
frightful cramps that soon attack him. Then steps in by way of climax
this collar, three inches and a half high. See, it is as stiff as
iron, and the miscreants have left the edges unbound that it may do
the work of a man-saw as well as a garotte. In this iron three-handed
gripe the victim writhes and sobs and moans with anguish, and, worse
than all, loses his belief in God."
"This is a stern picture," said Mr. Lacy, hanging his head.
"Until what with the freezing of the blood in a body jammed together
and flattened against a wall--what with the crushed respiration and
the cowed heart a deadly faintness creeps over the victim and he
"It is a lie--a base, malignant lie!" shouted Hawes.
"I am glad to hear it, Mr. Hawes."
Here the justices with great beat joined in and told Mr. Lacy he would
be much to blame if he accepted any statement made against so
respectable a man as Mr. Hawes. Then they all turned indignantly on
Mr. Eden. That gentleman's eyes sparkled with triumph.
"I have been trying a long time to make him speak, but he was too
cunning. It is a lie, is it?"
"Yes, it is a lie."
"What is a lie?"
"The whole thing."
"Give me your book, Mr. Hawes. What do you mean by 'the
punishment-jacket,' an entry that appears so constantly here in your
"I never denied the jacket."
"Then what is the lie of which you have accused me? Show me--that I
may ask your pardon and His I serve for so great a sin as a lie."
"It is a lie to say that the jacket tortures the prisoners and makes
them faint away; it only confines them. You want to make me out a
villain, but it is your own bad heart that makes you think so or say
so without thinking it."
"Now, Mr. Lacy, I think we have caught our eel. This, then, is the
ground you take; if it were true that this engine, instead of merely
confining men, tortured them to fainting, then you say you would be a
villain. You hesitate, sir; can't you afford to admit that, after
"Yes, I can."
"But on the other hand you say it is untrue that this engine
"Prove that by going into it for one hour. I have seen you put a man
in it for six."
"Now, do you really think I am going to make myself a laughing-stock
to the whole prison?"
"Well, but consider what a triumph you are denying yourself to prove
me a liar and yourself a true man. It would be the greatest feat of
dialects the world ever saw; and you need not stand on your
dignity--better men than you have been in it, and there goes one of
them. Here, Evans, come this way. We want you to go into the
punishment-jacket." The man recoiled with a ludicrous face of disgust
and dismay. Mr. Lacy smiled.
"Now, your reverence, don't think of it. I don't want to earn no more
guineas that way."
"What does he mean?" asked Mr. Lacy.
"I gave him a guinea to go into it for half an hour, and he calls it a
"Oh, you have been in it, then? Tell me, is it torture or is it only
"Con-finement! con-found such confinement, I say. Yes, it is torture
and the worst of torture. Ask his reverence, he has been in the oven
as well as me."
Mr. Lacy opened his eyes wide.
"What!" said he, with a half grin, "have you been in it?"
"That he has, sir," said Evans, grinning out in return. "Bless you,
his reverence is not the one to ask a poor man to stand any pain he
daren't face himself."
"There, there, we don't want to hear about his reverence," said his
reverence very sharply. "Mr. Hawes says it is not torture, and
therefore he won't face it. 'It is too laughable and painless for me,'
says slippery Mr. Hawes. 'It _is_ torture, and therefore I won't
face it,' says the more logical Mr. Evans. But we can cut this knot
for you, Mr. Lacy. There are in this dungeon a large body of men so
steeped in misery, so used to torture for their daily food, that they
will not be so nice as Messrs. Hawes and Evans. 'Fiat experimentum in
corpore vili.' Follow me, sir; and as we go pray cast your eyes over
the prison rules, and see whether you can find 'a punishment-jacket.'
No, sir, you will not find even a Spanish collar, or a pillory, or a
cross, far less a punishment-jacket which combines those several
Mr. Hawes hung back and begged a word with the justices. "Gentlemen,
you have always been good friends to me--give me a word of advice, or
at least let me know your pleasure. Shall I resign--shall I fling my
commission in this man's face who comes here to usurp your office and
"Resign! Nonsense! "said Mr. Williams. "Stand firm. We will stand by
you, and who can hurt you then?"
"You are very good, sirs. Without you I couldn't put up with any more
of this--to be baited and badgered in my own prison, after serving my
queen so many years by sea and land."
"Poor fellow!" said Mr. Woodcock.
"And how can I make head against such a man as Eden--a lawyer in a
parson's skin, an orator too that has a hundred words to say to my
"Let him talk till he is hoarse, we will not let him hurt you."
"Thank you, gentlemen, thank you. Your wishes have always been my law.
You bid me endure all this insolence; honored by your good opinion,
and supported by your promise to stand by me, I will endure it." And
Mr. Hawes was seen to throw off the uneasiness he had put on to bind
the magistrates to his defense.
"They are coming back again."
"Who is this with them?"
Mr. Hawes muttered an oath. "It is a refractory prisoner I had sent to
the dark cell. I suppose they will examine him next, and take his word
(Chorus of Visiting Justices.) "Shame!"
MR. EDEN had taken Mr. Lacy to the dark cells. Evans, who had no key
of them, was sent to fetch Fry to open them. "We will kill two birds
with one stone--disinter a patient for our leathern gallows, and a
fresh incident of the ---- Inquisition. Open this door, Mr. Fry."
The door was opened. A feeble voice uttered a quavering cry of joy
that sounded like wailing, and a figure emerged so suddenly and
distinctly from the blackness that Mr. Lacy started. It was Thomas
Robinson, who crept out white and shaking, with a wild, haggard look.
He ran to Mr. Eden like a great girl. "Don't let me go back--don't let
me go back, sir!" And the cowed one could hardly help whimpering.
"Come, courage, my lad," rang out Mr. Eden, "your troubles are nearly
over. Feel this man's hand, sir."
"How he trembles! Why, he must be chicken-hearted."
"No! only he is one of your men of action, not of passive fortitude.
He is imaginative, too, and suffers remorse for his crimes without the
soothing comfort of penitence. Twenty-four hours of that black hole
would deprive him or any such nature of the light of reason."
"Is this a mere opinion or do you propose to offer me proof?"
"Six men driven by this means alone to the lunatic asylum, of whom two
died there soon after."
"Hum! of what nature is your proof? I cannot receive assertion."
"Entries made at the time by a man of unimpeachable honesty."
"Who hates me and adores Mr. Hawes."
"Very well, Mr. Eden," replied the other keenly, "whatever you support
by such evidence as that I will accept as fact and act upon it."
"Done!" and Mr. Lacy smiled good-humoredly, but, it must be owned,
incredulously. "Is that proof at hand?" he added.
"It is. But one thing at a time--the leathern gallows is the iniquity
we are unearthing at present. Ah! here are Mr. Hawes and his
"You will see why I call them so."
Mr. Williams. "I trust you will not accept the evidence of a
refractory prisoner against an honest, well-tried officer, whose
conduct for two years past we have watched and approved."
Mr. Lacy replied with dignity: "Your good opinion of Mr. Hawes shall
weigh in his favor at every part of the evidence, but you must not
dictate to me the means by which I am to arrive at the truth."
Mr. Williams bit his lip and was red and silent.
"But, your reverence," cried Robinson, "don't let me be called a
refractory prisoner when you know I am not."
"Then what were you in the black-hole for?"
"For obeying orders."
"Nonsense! hum! Explain."
"His reverence said to me, 'You are a good writer; write your own life
down. See how you like it when you look at it with reason's eye
instead of passion's, all spread out before you in its true colors.
Tell the real facts--no false coin, nor don't put any sentiments down
you don't feel to please me--I shall only despise you,' said his
reverence. Well, sir, I am not a fool, and so of course I could see
how wise his reverence was, and how much good might come to my poor
sinful soul by doing his bidding; and I said a little prayer he had
taught me against a self-deceiving heart--his reverence is always
letting fly at self-deception--and then I sat down and I said, 'Now I
won't tell a single lie or make myself a pin better or worse than I
really am. Well, gentlemen, I hadn't written two pages when Mr. Fry
found me out and told the governor, and the governor had me shoved
into the black-hole where you found me."
"This is Mr. Fry, I think?"
"My name is Fry"
"Was this prisoner sent to the black-hole merely for writing his life
by the chaplain's orders?"
"You must ask the governor, sir. My business is to report offenses and
to execute orders; I don't give 'em."
"Mr. Hawes, was he sent to the black-hole for doing what the chaplain
had set him to do by way of a moral lesson?"
"He was sent for scribbling a pack of lies without my leave."
"What! when he had the permission of your superior officer."
"Of my superior officer?"
"Your superior in the department of instruction, I mean. Can you doubt
that he is so with these rules before you? Let me read you one of
them: 'Rule 18. All prisoners, including those sentenced to hard
labor, are to have such time allowed them for instruction as the
chaplain may think proper, whether such instruction withdraw them from
their labor for a time or not.' And again, by 'Rule 80. Each prisoner
is to have every means of moral and religious instruction the chaplain
shall select for each as suitable.' So that you have passed out of
your own department into a higher department, which was a breach of
discipline, and you have affronted the head of that department and
strained your authority to undermine his, and this in the face of Rule
18, which establishes this principle: that should the severities of
the prison claim a prisoner by your mouth, and religious or moral
instruction claim him by the chaplain's, your department must give way
to the higher department."
"This is very new to me, sir; but if it is the law--"
"Why, you see it is the law, printed for your guidance. I undo your
act, Mr. Hawes; the prisoner Robinson will obey the chaplain in all
things that relate to religious or moral instruction, and he will
write his life as ordered, and he is not to be put to hard labor for
twenty-four hours. By this means he will recover his spirits and the
time and moral improvement you have made him lose. You hear, sir?"
added he very sharply.
"I hear," said Hawes sulkily.
"Go on with your evidence, Mr. Eden."
"Robinson, my man, you see that machine?"
"Ugh! yes, I see it."
"For two months I have been trying to convince Mr. Hawes that engine
is illegal. I failed; but I have been more fortunate with this
gentleman who comes from the Home Office. He has not taken as many
minutes to see it is unlawful."
"Stop a bit, Mr. Eden. It is clearly illegal, but the torture is not
"Nor ever will be," put in Mr. Hawes.
"So then, Robinson, no man on earth has the right to put you into that
"It is therefore as a favor that I ask you to go into it to show its
"A favor, your reverence, to you? I am ready in a minute." Robinson
was jammed, throttled, and nailed in the man-press. Mr. Lacy stood in
front of him and eyed him keenly and gravely. "They seem very fond of
you, these fellows."
"Can you give your eyes to that sight and your ears to me?" asked Mr.
"Then I introduce to you a new character--Mr. Fry. Mr. Fry is a real
character, unlike those of romance and melodrama, which are apt to be
either a streak of black paint or else a streak of white paint. Mr.
Fry is variegated. He is a moral magpie; he is, if possible, as devoid
of humanity as his chief; but to balance this defect, he possesses,
all to himself, a quality, a very high quality, called Honesty."
"Well, that is a high quality and none too common."
"He is one of those men to whom veracity is natural. He would hardly
know how to tell a falsehood. They fly about him in this place like
hailstones, but I never saw one come from him."
"Stay! does he side with you or with Mr. Hawes in this unfortunate
"With me!" cried Mr. Hawes eagerly. Mr. Eden bowed assent. "Hum!"
"This honest Nero is zealous according to his light; he has kept a
strict record of the acts and events of the jail for four years past;
i.e., rather more than two years of Captain O'Connor's jailership, and
somewhat less than two years of the present jailer. Such a journal,
rigorously kept out of pure love of truth by such a man is invaluable.
There no facts are likely to be suppressed or colored, since the
record was never intended for any eye but his own. I am sure Mr. Fry
will gratify you with a sight of this journal. Oblige me, Mr. Fry!"
"Certainly, sir! certainly!" replied Fry, swelling with importance and
"Bring it me at once, if you please." Fry went with alacrity for his
"Mr. Lacy," said Mr. Eden, with a slight touch of reproach, "you can
read not faces only but complexions. You read in my yellow face and
sunken eye--prejudice; what do you read here?" and he wheeled like
lightning and pointed to Mr. Hawes, whose face and very lips were then
seen to be the color of ashes. The poor wretch tried to recover
composure, and retort defiance; but the effort came too late. His face
had been seen, and once seen that look of terror, anguish and hatred
was never to be forgotten.
"What is the matter, Mr. Hawes?"
"W--W--When I think of my long services, and the satisfaction I have
given to my superiors--and now my turnkey's journal to be taken and
believed against mine."
(Chorus of Justices.) "It is a shame!"
Mr. Eden (very sharply). "Against yours? what makes him think it will
be against his? The man is his admirer, and an honest man. What
injustice has he to dread from such a source?"
Mr. Lacy. "I really cannot understand your objection to a man's
evidence whose bias lies your way; and I must say, it speaks well for
Mr. Eden that he has proposed this man in evidence."
At this juncture the magistrates, after a short consultation, informed
Mr. Lacy that they had business of more importance to transact, and
could give no more time to what appeared to them an idle and useless
"At all events, gentlemen," replied Mr. Lacy, "I trust you will not
leave the jail. I am not here to judge Mr. Hawes, but to see whether
Mr. Eden's demand for a formal inquiry into his acts ought to be
granted or refused. Now unless the evidence takes some new turn I
incline to think I must favor the inquiry; that is to say, should the
chaplain persist in demanding it."
"Which I shall."
"Should a royal commission be appointed to sit here, I should
naturally wish to consult you as to the component members of the
commission; and it is my wish to pay you the compliment usual in such
cases of selecting one of the three commissioners from your body. But
one question, gentlemen, before you go. Have you complied with No. 1
of these your rules? Have you visited every prisoner in his or her
cell once a month?"
"I am sorry to hear it. Of course, at each visit, you have closely
examined this the jailer's book, a record of his acts and the events
of the jail?"
"Portions of it are read to us; this is a form which I believe is
never omitted--is it, Mr. Hawes?"
"'Portions!' and 'a form!' what, then, are your acts of supervision?
Do you examine the turnkeys, and compare their opinions with the
"We would not be guilty of such ungentlemanly behavior!" replied Mr.
Williams, who had been longing for some time to give Mr. Lacy a slap.
"Do you examine the prisoners apart, so that there can be no
intimidation of them?"
"We always take Mr. Hawes into the cells with us."
"Why do you do that, pray?"
"We conceive that nothing would be gained by encouraging the refuse of
mankind to make frivolous complaints against their best friend." Here
the speaker and his mates wore a marked air of self-satisfaction.
"Well, sir! has the present examination in no degree shaken your
confidence in Mr. Hawes's discretion?"
"Not in the least."
"Nor in your own mode of scrutinizing his acts?"
"Not in the least."
"That is enough! Gentlemen, I need detain you no longer from the
business you have described as more important than this!"
Mr. Lacy shrugged his shoulders. Mr. Eden smiled to him, and said
"As they were in the days of Shakespeare so they were in the days of
Fielding; as they were in the days of Fielding so they are in the days
of light; and as they are now so will they remain until they are swept
away from the face of the soil. (Keep your eye on Mr. Hawes, edging
away there so adroitly.) It is not their fault, it is their nature;
their constitution is rotten; in building them the State ignored
Nature, as Hawes ignores her in his self-invented discipline."
"What do you mean, sir?"
"That no _body_ of men ever gave for nothing anything worth
anything, nor ever will. Now knowledge of law is worth something;
zeal, independent judgment, honesty, humanity, diligence are worth
something (are you watching Mr. Hawes, sir?); yet the State, greedy
goose, hopes to get them out of a body of men for nothing!"
"Hum! Why has Mr. Hawes retired?"
"You know as well as I do."
"Oh! do I?"
"Yes, sir! the man's terror when Fry's journal was proposed in
evidence, and his manner of edging away obliquely to the direction Fry
took, were not lost on a man of your intelligence."
"If you think that, why did you not stop him till Fry came back with
"I had my reasons; meantime we are not at a stand-still. Here is an
attested copy of the journal in question; and here is Mr. Hawes's
log-book. Fry's book intended for no mortal eye but his own; Hawes's
concocted for inspection."
"I see a number of projecting marks pasted into Fry's journal!"
"Yes, sir; on some of these marks are written the names of remarkable
victims, recurring at intervals; on others are inscribed the heads of
villainy--'the black-hole,' 'starvation,' 'thirst,' 'privation of
exercise,' 'of bed,' 'of gas,' 'of chapel,' 'of human converse,'
'inhuman threats,' and the infernal torture called the
'punishment-jacket.' Somewhat on the plan of 'Watt's Bibliotheca
Britannica.' So that you can at will trace any one of Mr. Hawes's
illegal punishments, and see it running like a river of blood through
many hapless names; or you can, if you like it better, track a
fellow-creature dripping blood from punishment to punishment, from one
dark page to another, till release, lunacy, or death closes the list
of his recorded sufferings."
Aided by Mr. Eden, who whirled over the leaves of Mr. Hawes's log-book
for him, Mr. Lacy compared several pages of the two books. The
following is merely a selected specimen of the entries that met his
MR. FRY. MR. HAWES.
Joram.Writing on his can--bread and Joram.Refractory--bread and
Joram.Bread and water.
Joram.Bread and water. Joram.Refractory--crank; bread
Joram.Crank not performed--bread
Joram.Refractory--crank--bread and Joram. Refractory--bread and
Joram.Attempted suicide; Joram. Feigned suicide; cause
insensible when found. Had religious despondency--put on
cut off pieces of his hair to sick-list.
send to his friends--sick-list.
Josephs. Crank not performed; says Josephs. Refractory; said
he could not turn the crank No. 9; he would not work on crank 9;
Tomson. Communicating in chapel-- Tomson.Communicating--dark cells.
dark cell 12 hours.
Tomson. Bread and water.
Tomson. Crank not performed; Tomson. Refractory--jacket.
Tomson. Dark cells.
Tomson. No chapel.
Tomson. Dark cells.
Tomson. Melancholy. Tomson. Afflicted with remorse
for past crimes--surgeon.
Tomson. Very strange.
Tomson. Removed to lunatic asylum. Tomson. Removed to asylum.
Tanner (nine years old). Caught Tanner. Caught up at window;
up at window; asked what he did answered insolently--jacket.
there; said he wanted to feel the
light--jacket, and bread and water
Tanner. For repining--chapel Tanner. Refractory language--
and gas stopped until content. forbidden chapel until
"Can I see such a thing as a prisoner who has attempted suicide?"
inquired he, with lingering incredulity.
"Yes! there are three on this landing. Come first to Joram, of whom
Mr. Hawes writes that he made a sham attempt on his life in a fit of
religious despondency--Mr. Fry, that having been jacketed and put on
bread and water for several days, he became depressed in spirits and
made a real attempt on his life. Ah! here is Mr. Fry, he is coming
this way to tell you his first falsehood. Hawes has been all this
while persuading him to it."
"Where is your journal, Mr. Fry?"
"Well, sir," replied Fry, hanging his head, "I can't show it you. I
lent it to a friend, now I remember, and he has taken it out of the
jail; but," added he with a sense of relief, "you can ask me any
questions you like and I'll answer them all one as my book."
"Well, then, was Joram's attempt at suicide a real or a feigned one?"
"Well, I should say it was a real one. I found him insensible and he
did not come to for best part of a quarter of an hour."
"Open his cell."
"Joram, I am here from the Secretary of State to ask you some
questions. Answer them truly and without fear. Some months ago you
made an attempt on your life."
The prisoner shuddered and hung his head.
"Don't be discouraged, Joram," put in Mr. Eden kindly, "this gentleman
is not a harsh judge, he will make allowances."
"Thank you, gentlemen."
"What made you attempt your life?" persisted Mr. Lacy. "Was it from
"That it was not. What did I know about religion before his reverence
here came to the jail? No, sir, I was clammed to death."
"Yes, sir, clammed and no mistake."
"North-country word for starved," explained Mr. Eden.
"No, sir, I was starved as well. It was very cold weather, and they
gave me nothing but a roll of bread no bigger than my fist once a day
for the best part of a week. So being starved with cold and clammed
with hunger I knew I couldn't live many hours more, and then the pain
in my vitals was so dreadful, sir, I was obliged to cut it short. Ay!
ay! your reverence, I know it was very wicked--but what was I to do?
If I hadn't attempted my life I shouldn't be alive now. A poor fellow
doesn't know what to do in such a place as this."
"Well," said Mr. Lacy, "I promise you your food shall never be
tampered with again."
"Thank you, sir. Oh! I have nothing to complain of now, sir; they have
never clammed me since I attempted my life."
Mr. Eden. "Suicide is at a premium here."
"What was your first offense?" asked Mr. Lacy.
"Writing on my can."
"What did you write on the can?"
"I wrote, 'I want to speak to the governor.'"
"Couldn't you ring and ask to see him?"
"Ring and ask? I had rung half a dozen times and asked to see him and
could not get to see him. My hand was blistered, and I wanted to ask
him to put me on a different sort of work till such time as it could
get leave to heal."
"Now, sir," said Mr. Eden, "observe the sequence of iniquity. A
refractory jailer defies the discipline of the prison. He breaks Rule
37 and other rules by which he is ordered to be always accessible to a
prisoner. The prisoner being in a strait, through which the jailer
alone can guide him, begs for an interview; unable to obtain this in
his despair he writes one innocent line on his can imploring the
jailer to see him. None of the beasts say, 'What has he written?' they
say only, 'Here be scratches,' and they put him on bread and water for
an illegal period; and Mr. Hawes's new and illegal interpretation of
'bread and water' is aimed at his life. I mean that instead of
receiving three times per diem a weight of bread equal to the weight
of his ordinary diets (which is clearly the intention of the bread and
water statute), he has once a day four ounces of bread. So because a
refractory jailer breaks the discipline, a prisoner with whom no
breach of the discipline _originated_ is feloniously put to death
unless he cuts it short by that which in every spot of the earth but
---- Jail is a deadly crime in Heaven's eyes--self-murder."
"What an eye your reverence ha' got for things! Well now it doesn't
sound quite fair, does it? but stealing is a dog's trick, and if a man
behaves like a dog he must look to be treated like one; and he will
"That is right, Joram; you look at it from that point of view, and we
will look at it from another."
"Open Naylor's cell. Naylor, what drove you to attempt suicide?"
"Oh! you know, sir."
"But this gentleman does not."
"Well, gents, they had been at me a pretty while one way and another;
they put me in the jacket till I fainted away."
"Stop a minute; is the jacket very painful?"
"There is nothing in the world like it, sir."
"What is its effect? What sort of pain?"
"Why, all sorts! it crushes your very heart. Then it makes you ache
from your hair to your heel, till you would thank and bless any man to
knock you on the head. Then it takes you by the throat and pinches you
and rasps you all at one time. However, I don't think but what I could
have stood up against that, if I had had food enough; but how can a
chap face trouble and pain and hard labor on a crumb a day? However,
what finally screwed up my stocking altogether, gents, was their
taking away my gas. It was the dark winter nights, and there was me
set with an empty belly and the cell like a grave. So then I turned a
little queer in the head by all accounts, and I saw things
that--hem!--didn't suit my complaint at all, you know."
"Well, gents, it is all over now, but it makes me shiver still, so I
don't care to be reminded; let us drop it if it is all the same to
"But, Naylor, for the sake of other poor fellows and to oblige me."
"Oh! your reverence, if I can oblige you that alters the case
entirely. Well, then, sir, if you must know, I saw 'Child of Hell'
wrote in great letters of fire all over that side of the cell. Always
every evening this was all my society, as the saying is; 'Child of
Hell' wrote ten times brighter than gas.
"Couldn't you shut your eyes and go to sleep?" said Mr. Lacy.
"How could I sleep? and I did shut my eyes, and then the letters they
came through my eyelids. So when this fell on the head of all my
troubles I turned wild, and I said to myself one afternoon, 'Now here
is my belly empty and nothing coming to it, and there is the sun
a-setting, and by-and-by my cell will be brimful of hell-fire--let me
end my troubles and get one night's rest if I never see another.' So I
hung myself up to the bar by my hammock-strap, and that is all I
remember except finding myself on my back, with Mr. Fry and a lot
round me, some coaxing and some cursing; and when I saw where I was I
fell a-crying and blubbering, to think that I had so nearly broke
prison and there they had got me still. I dare say Mr. Fry remembers
how I took on."
"Ay, my man, I remember we got no thanks for bringing you to."
"I was a poor unconverted sinner then," replied Mr. Naylor demurely,
"and didn't know my fault and the consequences; but I thank you now
with all my heart, Mr. Fry, sir."
"I am to understand then that you accuse the jailer of driving you to
suicide by unlawful severities?"
"No, sir, I don't. I only tell you how it happened, and you should not
have asked me if you didn't care to know; and as for blaming folk, the
man I blame the most is John Naylor. His reverence there has taught me
to look at home. If I hadn't robbed honest folk I shouldn't have
robbed myself of character and liberty and health, and Mr. Hawes
wouldn't have robbed me of food and light and life wellnigh. Certainly
there _is_ a deal of ignorance and stupidity in this here jail. The
governor has no head-piece; can't understand that a prisoner is made
out of the same stuff as he is--skin and belly, heart, soul, bones an'
all. I should say he wasn't fit to be trusted with the lives of a
litter of pigs, let alone a couple of hundred men and women. But all
is one for that; if he was born without any gumption, as the saying
is, I wasn't, and I didn't ought to be in a fool's power; that is my
fault entirely, not the fool's; ain't it now? If I hadn't come to the
mill the miller would never have grinded me! I sticks to that!"
"Well said, Naylor. Come, sir, One higher than the State takes
precedence here. We must on no account shake a Christian frame of mind
or rekindle a sufferer's wrongs. Yes, Naylor, forgive and you shall be
forgiven. I am pleased with you, greatly pleased with you, my poor
fellow. There is my hand!" Naylor took his reverence's hand and his
very forehead reddened with pride and pleasure at so warm a word of
praise from the revered mouth. They went out of the cell. Being now in
the corridor, Mr. Eden addressed the Government official thus:
"My proofs draw to a close. I could multiply instances ad
infinitum--but what is the use? If these do not convince you you would
not believe though one rose from the dead. What do I say? Have not
Naylor and Joram and many others come back from the dead to tell you
by what roads they were driven there? One example remains to be shown.
To a philosophical mind it is no stronger than the rest; but there are
many men who can receive no very strong impression except through
their senses. You may be one of these; and it is my duty to give your
judgment every aid. Where is Mr. Fry? He has left us."
"I am coming to attend you, sir," cried Evans from above. "Mr. Fry is
gone to the governor."
"Where are we going?" asked Mr. Lacy.
"To examine a prisoner whom the jailer tortured with the jacket, and
starved, and ended by robbing him of his gas and his bed contrary to
law. Evans, since you are here, relate all that happened to Edward
Josephs on the fourth of this month--and mind you don't exaggerate."
"Well, sir, they had been at him for near a month, overtasking him and
then giving him the jacket, and starving him and overtasking him again
on his empty stomach till the poor lad was a living skeleton. On the
fourth the governor put him in the jacket, and there he was kept till
"Then they flung two buckets of water over him and that brought him
to. Then they sent him to his cell and there he was in his wet
clothes. Then him being there shaking with cold, the governor ordered
his gas to be taken away--his hands were shaking over it for a little
warmth when they robbed him of that bit o' comfort."
"Contrary to law!" put in Mr. Eden.
"Well, sir, he was a quiet lad not given to murmur, but at losing his
gas he began to cry out so loud you might hear him all over the
"What did he cry?"
"Sir, he cried MURDER!"
"Then I came to him and found him shivering and dripping, and crying
fit to break his poor heart."
"And did you do nothing for him?"
"I did what I could, sir. I took him and twisted his bedclothes so
tight round him the air could not get in, and before I left him his
sobs went down and he looked like warm and sleeping after all his
troubles. Well, sir, they can tell you better that did the job, but it
seems the governor sent another turnkey called Hodges to take away his
bed from under him."
"Well, sir! oh dear me! I hope, your reverence, I shall never have to
tell this story again, for it chokes me every time." And the man was
unable to go on for a while. "Well, sir, the poor thing it seems
didn't cry out as he had about the gas, he took it quite quiet--that
might have let them know, but some folk can see nothing till it is too
late--and he gave Hodges his hand to show he bore him no malice. Eh
dear! eh dear! Would to Heaven I had never seen this wicked place!"
"Wicked place, indeed!" said Mr. Lacy solemnly. "You make me almost
dread to ask the result."
"You shall see the result. Evans!"
Evans opened cell 15, and he and Mr. Eden stood sorrowful aside while
Mr. Lacy entered the cell. The first thing he saw was a rude coffin
standing upright by the window, the next a dead body lying stark upon
a mattress on the floor. The official uttered a cry like the scream of
a woman! "What is this? How dare you bring me to such a place as
"This is that Edward Josephs whose sufferings you have heard and
"Poor wretch! Heaven forgive us! What, did he--did he--?"
"He took one step to meet inevitable death--he hanged himself that
same night by his handkerchief to this bar. Turn his poor body, Evans.
See, sir, here is Mr. Hawes's mark upon his back. These livid stripes
are from the infernal jacket and helped to lash him into his grave.
You are ill. Here! some wine from my flask! You will faint else!"
"Thank you! Yes, I was rather faint. It is passed. Mr. Eden, I find my
life has been spent among words--things of such terrible significance
are new to me. God forgive us! how came this to pass in England in the
nineteenth century? The ---- scoundrel!"
"Kick him out of the jail, but do not swear; it is a sin. By removing
him from this his great temptation we may save even his blood-stained
soul. But the souls of his victims? Oh, sir, when a good man is
hurried to his grave our lamentations are natural but unwise; but
think what he commits who hurries thieves and burglars and homicides
unprepared before their eternal Judge. In this poor boy lay the
materials of a saint--mild, docile, grateful, believing. I was winning
him to all that is good when I fell sick. The sufferings I saw and
could not stop--they made me sick. You did not know that when you let
my discolored cheeks prejudice you against my truth. Oh! I forgive
you, dear sir! Yes, Heaven is inscrutable; for had I not fallen
ill--yes, I was leading you up to Heaven, was I not? Oh, my lost
sheep! my poor lost sheep!" And the faithful shepherd, at the bottom
of whose wit and learning lay a heart simpler than beats in any dunce,
forgot Hawes and everything else and began to mourn by the dead body
of his wandering sheep.
Then in that gloomy abode of blood and tears Heaven wrought a miracle.
One who for twenty years past had been an official became a man for
full five minutes. Light burst on him--Nature rushed back upon her
truant son and seized her long-forgotten empire. The frost and reserve
of office melted like snow in summer before the sun of religion and
humanity. How unreal and idle appeared now the twenty years gone in
tape and circumlocution! Away went his life of shadows--his career of
watery polysyllables meandering through the great desert into the Dead
Sea. He awoke from his desk and saw the corpse of an Englishman
murdered by routine, and the tears of a man of God dripping upon it.
Then his soul burst its desk and his heart broke its polysyllables and
its tapen bonds, and the man of office came quickly to the man of God
and seized his hand with both his which shook very much, and pressed
it again and again, and his eyes glistened and his voice faltered.
"This shall never be again. How these tears honor you! but they cut me
to the heart. There! there! I believe every word you have told me now.
Be comforted! you are not to blame! there were always villains in the
world and fools like us that could not understand or believe in an
apostle like you. We are all in fault, but not you! Be comforted! Law
and order shall be restored this very day and none of these poor
creatures shall suffer violence again or wrong of any sort--by God!"
So these two grasped hands and pledged faith and for a while at least
joined hearts. Mr. Eden thanked him with a grace and dignity all his
own. Then he said with a winning sweetness, "Go now, my dear sir, and
do your duty. Act for once upon an impulse. At this moment you see
things as you will see them when you come to die. A light from Heaven
shines on your path at this moment. Walk by it ere the world dims it.
Go and leave me to repent the many unchristian tempers I have shown
you in one short hour--my heat and bitterness and arrogance--in this
"His unchristian temper! poor soul! There, take me to the justices,
Mr. Evans, and you follow me as soon as you like. Yes, my worthy
friend, I will act upon an impulse for once--Ugh!"
Wheeling rapidly out of the cell, as unlike his past self as a
pin-wheel in a shop-drawer and ditto ignited, he met at the very door
"You have been witnessing a sad sight, sir, and one that nobody, I
assure you, deplores more than I do," said Mr. Hawes, in a gentle and
Mr. Lacy answered Mr. Hawes by looking him all over from head to foot
and back, then looking sternly into his eyes he turned his back on him
sharp and left him standing there without a word.
THE jailer had been outwitted by the priest. Hawes had sneaked after
Fry to beg him for Heaven's sake--that was the phrase he used--not to
produce his journal. Fry thought this very hard, and it took Hawes ten
minutes to coax him over. Mr. Eden had calculated on this, and worked
with the attested copy, while Hawes was wasting his time suppressing
the original. Hawes was too cunning to accompany Fry back to Mr. Lacy.
He allowed five minutes more to elapse--all which time his antagonist
was pumping truth into the judge a gallon a stroke. At last up came
Mr. Hawes to protect himself and baffle the parson. He came, he met
Mr. Lacy at the dead prisoner's door, and read his defeat.
Mr. Lacy joined the justices in their room. "I have one question to
ask you, gentlemen, before I go: How many attempts at suicide were
made in this jail under Captain O'Connor while sole jailer?"
"I don't remember," replied Mr. Williams.
"It would be odd if you did, for no one such attempt took place under
him. Are you aware how many attempts at suicide took place during the
two years that this Hawes governed a part of the jail, being kept in
some little check by O'Connor, but not much, as unfortunately you
encouraged the inferior officer to defy his superior? Five attempts at
suicide during this period, gentlemen. And now do you know how many
such attempts have occurred since Mr. Hawes has been sole jailer?"
"I really don't know. Prisoners are always shamming," replied Mr.
"I do not allude to feigned attempts, of which there have been
several, but to desperate attempts; some of which have left the
prisoner insensible, some have resulted in his death--how many of
"Four or five, I believe."
"Ah, you have not thought it worth while to inquire!! Hum!--well,
fourteen, at least. Come in, Mr. Eden. Gentlemen, you have neglected
your duty. Making every allowance for your inexperience, it still is
clear that you have undertaken the supervision of a jail and yet have
exercised no actual supervision; even now the life or death of the
prisoners seems to you a matter of indifference. If you are reckless
on such a point as this, what chance have the minor circumstances of
their welfare of being watched by you? and frankly I am puzzled to
conceive what you proposed to yourselves when you undertook an office
so important and requiring so great vigilance. I say this, gentlemen,
merely to explain why I cannot have the pleasure I did promise myself
of putting one of your names into the royal commission which will sit
upon this prison in compliance with the chaplain's petition."
Mr. Eden bowed gratefully, and his point being formally gained, he
hurried away to make up for lost time and visit his longing prisoners.
While he passed like sunshine from cell to cell, Mr. Lacy took a note
or two in solemn silence, and the injustices conferred. Mr. Palmer
whispered, "We had better have taken Mr. Eden's advice." The other two
snorted ill-assured defiance. Mr. Lacy looked up. "You will hold
yourselves in readiness to be examined before the commission." At this
moment Mr. Hawes walked into the room without his mask, and in his own
brutal voice--the voice he spoke to prisoners with--addressed
himself, with great insolence of manner, to Mr. Lacy. "Don't trouble
yourself to hold commissions over me. I think myself worth a great
deal more to the government than they have ever been to me. What they
give me is little enough for what I have given them, and when insults
are added to a man of honor and an old servant of the queen, he flings
his commission in your face;" and the unveiled ruffian raised his
voice, to a roar, and with his hand flung an imaginary commission into
Mr. Lacy's face, who drew back astounded; then resuming his honeyed
manner Hawes turned to the justices. "I return into your hands,
gentlemen, the office I received from you. I thank you for the support
you have afforded me in my endeavors to substitute discipline for the
miserable laxity and slovenliness and dirt we found here; and your
good opinion will always console me for the insults I have received
from a crack-brained parson and his tools in the jail and out of it."
"Your resignation is accepted," said Mr. Lacy coldly, "and as your
connection with ---- Jail is now ended, in virtue of my powers from
the Secretary of State, which I here produce, I give you the use of
the jailer's house for a week, that you may have time to move your
effects; but for many reasons it is advisable that you should not
remain in the _jail_ a single hour. Be so good, therefore, as to
quit the jail as soon as you conveniently can. One of the turnkeys
shall assist you to convey to your house whatever you have in this
"I have nothing to take out of the jail, man," replied Hawes rudely,
"except"--and here he did a bit of pathos and dignity--"my zeal for
her majesty's service and my integrity."
"Ah," replied Mr. Lacy quietly, "you won't want any help to carry
Mr. Hawes left the room, bowing to the justices and ostentatiously
ignoring the government official. Mr. Williams shouted after him. "He
carries our respect wherever he goes," said this magistrate with a
fidelity worthy a better cause. The other two hung their heads and did
not echo their chief. The tide was turned against Jailer Hawes, and
these two were not the articles to swim against a stream even though
that stream was truth.
Mr. Hawes took his time. He shook hands with Fry, who bade him
farewell with regret. Who is there that somebody does not contrive to
like? And rejecting even this mastiff's company he made a gloomy,
solitary progress through the prison for the last time. "How clean and
beautiful it all is; it wasn't like that when I came to it, and it
never will again." Some gleams of remorse began to flit about that
thick skull and self-deceiving heart, for punishment suggests remorse
to sordid natures. But his strong and abiding feeling was a sincere
and profound sense of ill usage--long service--couldn't overlook a
single error--ungrateful government, etc. "Prison go to the devil
now--and serve them right." At last he drew near the outer court, and
there he met a sight that raised all the fiend within him. There was
Mr. Eden ushering Strutt into the garden, and telling Evans the old
man was to pass his whole days there till he was better. "So that is
the way you keep the rules now you have undermined me! No cell at all.
I thought what you would come to. You haven't been long getting
"Mr. Hawes," replied the other with perfect good temper, "Rule 34 of
this prison enjoins that every prisoner shall take daily as much
exercise in the open air as is necessary for his health. You have
violated this rule so long that now Strutt's health requires him to
pass many more hours in the air than he otherwise would; he is dying
for air and amusement, and he shall have both sooner than die for the
want of them, or of anything I can give him."
"And what is it to _him?"_ retorted Evans with rude triumph; "he is
no longer an officer of this jail; he has got the sack and orders to
quit into the bargain."
Fear is entertained that Mr. Evans had listened more or less at the
door of the justices' room.
"Is this so, sir?" asked Mr. Eden gravely, politely, and without a
shadow of visible exultation.
"You know it is, you sneaking, undermining villain; you have weathered
on me, you have out-maneuvered me. When was an honest soldier a match
for a parson?"
"Ah!" cried Mr. Eden. "Then run to the gate, Evans, and let the men
into the jail with the printing-press and the looms. They have been
waiting four hours for this."
Hawes turned black with rage. "Oh, I know you made sure of winning; a
blackguard that loads the dice can always do that. Your triumph won't
be long. I was in this jail honored and respected for four years till
you came. You won't be four months before you are kicked out, and no
one to say a good word for you. A pretty Christian! to suborn my own
servants and rob me of my place and make me a beggar in my old age, a
man you are not worthy to serve under, a man that served his country
by sea and land before you were whelped, ye black hypocrite. You a
Christian! you? If I thought that I'd turn Atheist or anything, you
poor, backbiting, tale-telling, sneaking, undermining, false witness
"Unhappy man," cried Mr. Eden; "turn those perverse eyes from the
faults of others to your own danger. The temptations under which you
fell end here; then let their veil fall from your eyes, and you may
yet bless those who came between your soul and its everlasting ruin.
Your victims are dead; their eternal fate is fixed by you. Heaven is
more merciful--it has not struck you dead by your victim's side; it
gives you, the greatest sinner of all, a chance to escape. Seize that
chance. Waste no time in passion and petulance--think only of your
forfeited soul. Madman, to your knees! What! dare you die as you have
lived these three years past? dare you die abhorred of Heaven? Fool!
see yourself as every eye on earth and in heaven sees you. The land
contains no criminal so black as you. Other homicides have struck
hastily on provocation or stung by injury, or thrust or drawn by some
great passion--but you have deliberately gnawed away men's lives.
Others have seen their one victim die, but you have looked on your
many victims dying yet not spared them. Other homicides' hands are
stained, but yours are steeped in blood. To your knees, MAN-slayer! I
dare not promise you that a life given to penitence and charity will
save so foul a soul, but it may, for Heaven's mercy is infinite. Seize
on that small chance. Seize it like one who feels Satan clutching him
and dragging him down to eternal flames. Life is short, eternity is
close, judgment is sure. A few short years and you must meet Edward
Josephs again before the eternal Judge. What a tribunal to face, your
victims opposite you! There the long-standing prejudices that save you
from a felon's death here will avail you nothing. There the quibbles
that pass current on earth will be blasted with the lips that dare to
utter and the hearts that coin them. Before Him, who has neither body
nor parts, yet created all the forms of matter, vainly will you
pretend that you did not slay, because forsooth the weapons with which
you struck at life were invisible and not to be comprehended by a
vulgar, shallow, sensual, earthly judge. There, too, the imperfection
of human language will yield no leaf of shelter.
"Hope not to shift the weight of guilt upon poor Josephs there. On
earth muddle-heads will call his death and the self-murderer's by one
name of 'suicide,' and so dream the two acts were one; but you cannot
gull Omniscience with a word--the wise man's counter and the money of
a fool. Be not deceived! As Rosamond took poison in her hand, and
drank it with her own lips, and died by her own act, yet died
assassinated by her rival--so died Josephs. As men taken by pirates at
sea, and pricked with cold steel till in despair and pain they fling
themselves into the sea--so died Josephs and his fellows murdered by
you. Be not deceived! I, a minister of the gospel of mercy--I, whose
character leans toward charity, tell you that if you die impenitent,
so surely as the sun shines and the Bible is true, the murder of
Edward Josephs and his brothers will damn your soul to the flames of
hell forever--and forever--and forever!
"Begone, then, poor miserable creature! Do not look behind you. Fly
from this scene where crime and its delusions still cling round your
brain and your self-deceiving heart. Waste no more time with me. A
minute lost may be a soul lost. The avenger of blood is behind you.
Run quickly to your own home--go up to your secret chamber--and there
fall down upon your knees before your God and cry loud and long to him
for pardon. Cry mightily for help--cry humbly and groaning for the
power to repent. Away! away! Wash those red hands and that black soul
in years and years of charity, in tears and tears of penitence, and in
our Redeemer's blood. Begone, and darken and trouble us here no more."
The cowed jailer shrank and cowered before the thunder and lightning
of the priest, who, mild by nature, was awful when he rebuked an
impenitent sinner out of holy writ. He slunk away, his knees trembling
under him, and the first fiery seeds of remorse sown in his dry heart.
He met the printing-press coming in, and the loom following it
(naturally); he scowled at them and groaned. Evans held the door open
for him with a look of joy that stirred all his bile again. He turned
on the very threshold and spat a volley of oaths upon Evans. Evans at
this put down his head like a bull, and running fiercely with the huge
door, slammed it close on his heel with such ferocity that the report
rang like a thunder-clap through the entire building, and the
ex-jailer was in the street.
Five minutes more, the printing-press and loom were reinstalled, and
the punishment-jacket packed up and sent to London to the Home Office.
Ten minutes more, the cranks were examined by the artists in iron Mr.
Eden had sent for, and all condemned, it being proved that the value
of their resistance stated on their lying faces was scarce one-third
of their actual resistance. So much for unerring* science!
*The effect of this little bit of science may be thus stated --Men for
two years had been punished as refractory for not making all day two
thousand revolutions per hour of a 15 lb. crank, when all the while it
was a _45 lb. crank_ they had been vainly struggling against all
day. The proportions of this gory lie never varied. Each crank tasked
the Sisyphus three times what it professed to do. It was calculated
that four prisoners, on an average crank marked 10 lb., had to exert
an aggregate of force equal to one horse; and this exertion was
prolonged, day after day, far beyond a horse's power of endurance, and
in many cases on a modicum of food so scanty that no horse ever
foaled, so fed, could have drawn an armchair a mile.
Five minutes more Mr. Eden had placed in Mr. Lacy's hands a list of
prisoners to whom a free pardon ought now to be extended, some having
suffered a somewhat shorter period but a greater weight of misery than
the judges had contemplated in their several sentences; and others
being so shaken and depressed by separate confinement pushed to excess
that their life and reason now stood in peril for want of open air,
abundant light, and free intercourse with their species. At the head
of these was poor Strutt, an old man crushed to clay by separate
confinement recklessly applied. So alarming was this man's torpor to
Mr. Eden that after trying in vain to interest him in the garden, that
observer ventured on a very strong measure. He had learned from Strutt
that he could play the fiddle; what does he do but runs and fetches
his own violin into the garden, tunes it, and plays some most
inspiriting, rollicking old English tunes to him! A spark came into
the fishy eye of Strutt. At the third tune the old fellow's fingers
began to work impatiently. Mr. Eden broke off directly, put fiddle and
bow into Strutt's hand, and ran off to the prison again to arrest
melancholy, despair, lunacy, stagnation, mortification, putrefaction,
by every art that philosophy and mother-wit could suggest to
This determined man had collected his teaching mechanics again, and he
had them all into the prison the moment Hawes was out. He could not
get the cranks condemned as monsters--the day was not yet come for
that; so he got them condemned as liars, and in their place tasks of
rational and productive labor were set to most of the prisoners, and
London written to for six more trades and arts.
A copy of the prison-rules was cut into eight portions and eight
female prisoners set to compose each her portion. Copies to be printed
on the morrow and put up in every cell, according to the wise
provision of Rule 10, defied by the late jailer for an obvious reason.
Thus in an hour after the body of Hawes had passed through that gate a
firm and adroit hand was wiping his gloomy soul out of the cells as we
wipe a blotch of ink off a written page.
Care, too, was taken every prisoner should know the late jailer was
gone forever. This was done to give the wretches a happy night.
Ejaculations of thanksgiving burst from the cells every now and then;
by some mysterious means the immured seemed to share the joyful
tidings with their fellows, and one pulse of hope and triumph to beat
and thrill through all the life that wasted and withered there encased
in stone; and until sunset the faint notes of a fiddle struggled from
the garden into the temple of silence and gloom, and astounded every
The merry tunes as Strutt played them sounded like dirges, but they
enlivened him as they sighed forth. They stirred his senses, and
through his senses his mind, and through his mind his body, and so the
anthropologist made a fiddle help save a life, which fact no mortal
man will believe whose habit it is to chatter blindfold about man and
investigate the "crustaceonidunculae."
The cranks being condemned, rational industry restored, and the law
reseated on the throne a manslaughtering dunce had usurped, the
champion of human nature went home to drink his tea and write the plot
of his sermon.
He had won a great battle and felt his victory. He showed it, too, in
his own way. On the evening of this great day his voice was remarkably
gentle and winning, and a celestial light seemed to dwell in his eyes;
no word of exultation, nor even of self-congratulation; and he made no
direct mention of the prison all the evening. His talk was about
Susan's affairs, and he paid his warm thanks to her and her aunt for
all they had done for him. "You have been true friends, true allies,"
said he; "what do I not owe you! you have supported me in a bitter
struggle, and now that the day is won I can find no words to thank you
as I ought."
Both these honest women colored and glistened with pleasure, but they
were too modest to be ready with praise or to bandy compliments.
"As for you, Susan, it was a masterstroke your venturing into my den."
"Oh! we turn bold when a body is ill, don't we, aunt?"
"I am not shy for one at the best of times," remarked the latter.
"Under Heaven you saved my life, at least I think so, Susan, for the
medicinal power of soothing influences is immense, I am sure it is apt
to be underrated; and then it was you who flew to Malvern and dragged
Gulson to me at the crisis of my fate; dear little true-hearted
friend, I am sorry to think I can never repay you."
"You forget, Mr. Eden," said Susan, almost in a whisper, "I was paid
I wish I could convey the native grace and gentle dignity of gratitude
with which the farmer's daughter murmured these four words, like a
duchess acknowledging a kindness.
"Eh?" inquired Mr. Eden, "oh! ah! I forgot," said he naively. "No!
that is nonsense, Susan. You have still an immense Cr. against my
name; but I know a way--Mrs. Davies, for as simple as I sit here you
see in me the ecclesiastic that shall unite this young lady to an
honest man, who, report says, loves her very dearly; so I mean to
square our little account."
"That is fair, Susan; what do you say?"
"La, aunt! why I shouldn't look upon it as a marriage at all if any
clergyman but Mr. Eden said the words."
"That is right," laughed Mr. Eden, "always set some little man above
some great thing, and then you will always be--a woman. I must write
the plot of my sermon, ladies, but you can talk to me all the same."
He wrote and purred every now and then to the women, who purred to
each other and now and then to him. Neither Hawes nor any other
irritation rankled in his heart, or even stuck fast in his memory. He
had two sermons to prepare for Sunday next, and he threw his mind into
them as he had into the battle he had just won. "Hoc agebat."
His reverence in the late battle showed himself a strategist, and won
without bringing up his reserves; if he had failed with Mr. Lacy he
had another arrow behind in his quiver. He had been twice to the mayor
and claimed a coroner's jury to sit on a suicide. The mayor had
consented and the preliminary steps had been taken.
The morning after the jailer's dismissal the inquest was held. Mr.
Eden, Evans, Fry and others were examined, and the case came out as
clear as the day and black as the night.
When twelve honest Englishmen, men of plain sense, not men of system,
men taken from the public not from public offices, sat in a circle
with the corpse of a countryman at their knees, fiebat lux; 'twas as
though twelve suns had burst into a dust-hole.
"Manslaughter!" cried they, and they sent their spokesman to the mayor
and said yet more light must be let into this dusthole, and the mayor
said, "Ay and it shall, too. I will write to London and demand more
light." And the men of the public went to their own homes and told
their wives and children and neighbors what cruelties and villainies
they had unearthed, and their hearers, being men and women of that
people, which is a god in intellect and in heart compared with the
criticasters that try to misguide it with their shallow guesses and
cant and with the clerks that execute it in other men's names, cried
out, "See now! What is the use our building courts of law or prisons
unless they are to be open unto us. Shut us out--keep walls and closed
gate between us and our servants--and what comes of our courts of law
and our prisons? Why they turn nests of villainy in less than no
The twelve honest Englishmen had hardly left the jail an hour, crying
"manslaughter!" and crying "shame!" when all in a moment "TOMB!" fell
a single heavy stroke of the great prison bell. The heart of the
prison leaped, and then grew cold--a long chill pause, then "TOMB!"
again. The jurymen had told most of his fellow-sufferers how Josephs
was driven into his grave--and now--
"TOMB!" the remorseless iron tongue crashed out one by one the last
sad, stern monosyllables of this sorrowfulest of human tales.
They put him in his coffin ("TOMB!") a boy of sixteen, who would be
alive now but that caitiffs, whom God confound on earth, made life an
_impossibility_ to him ("TOMB!"), and that Shallows and Woodcocks,
whom God confound on earth, and unconscientious non-inspecting
inspectors, flunkeys, humbugs, hirelings, whom God confound on earth
("TOMB!"), left these scoundrels month after month and year after year
unwatched, though largely paid by the queen and the people to watch
them ("TOMB!"). Look on your work, hirelings, and listen to that bell,
which would not be tolling now if you had been men of brains and
scruples instead of sordid hirelings. The priest was on his knees,
praying for help from heaven to go through the last sad office with
composure, for he feared his own heart when he should come to say
"ashes to ashes" and "dust to dust" over this hapless boy, that ought
to be in life still. And still the great bell tolled, and many of the
prisoners were invited kindly in a whisper to come into the chapel;
but Fry could not be spared and Hodges fiercely refused. And now the
bell stopped, and as it stopped, the voice of the priest arose, "I am
the resurrection and the life."
A deep and sad gloom was upon all as the last sad offices were done
for this poor young creature cut short by foul play in the midst of
them. And for all he could do the priest's voice trembled often, and a
heavy sigh mingled more than once with the holy words.
What is that? "THIS OUR BROTHER!"--a thief our brother?--ay! the
priest made no mistake, those were the words; pause on them. Two great
characters contradicted each other to the face over dead Josephs.
Unholy State said, "Here is the carcass of a thief whom I and society
honestly believe to be of no more importance than a dog--so it has
unfortunately got killed between us, no matter how; take this carcass
and bury it," said unholy State. Holy Church took the poor abused
remains with reverence, prayed over them as she prays over the just,
and laid them in the earth, calling them "this our brother." Judge now
which is all in the wrong, unholy State or holy Church--for both
cannot be right.
Now while the grave is being filled in, judge, women of England and
America, between these two--unholy State and holy Church. The earth
contains no better judges of this doubt than you. Judge and I will bow
to your verdict with a reverence I know male cliques too well to feel
for them in a case where the great capacious heart alone can enlighten
the clever, little, narrow, shallow brain.
Thus in the nineteenth century--in a kind-hearted nation--under the
most humane sovereign the world has ever witnessed on an earthly
throne--holy Church in vain denouncing the miserable sinners that slay
the thief their brother--Edward Josephs has been done to death in the
queen's name--in the name of England--and in the name of the law.
But each of these great insulted names has its sworn defenders, its
honored and paid defenders. It is not for us to suppose that men so
high in honor will lay aside themselves and turn curs.
Ere I close this long story, let us hope I shall be able to relate
with what zeal and honor statesmen disowned and punished wholesale
manslaughter done in the name of the State; and with what zeal and
horror judges disowned and punished wholesale manslaughter done in
their name; and so, in all good men's eyes, washed off the blood with
which a hireling had bespattered the state ermine and the snow-white
robe of law.
For the present, the account between Josephs and the law stands
thus:--Josephs has committed the smallest theft imaginable. He has
stolen food. For this the law, professing to punish him with certain
months' imprisonment, has inflicted capital punishment; has
overtasked, crucified, starved--overtasked, starved, crucified--robbed
him of light, of sleep, of hope, of life; has destroyed his body, and
perhaps his soul. Sum total--1st page of account--
Josephs a larcenist and a corpse. The law a liar and a felon.
JOSEPHS has dropped out of our story. Mr. Hawes has got himself kicked
out of our story. The other prisoners, of whom casual mention has been
made, were never in our story, any more than the boy Xury in "Robinson
Crusoe." There remains to us in the prison Mr. Eden and Robinson, a
saint and a thief.
My readers have seen how the saint has saved the thief's life. They
shall guess awhile how on earth Susan Merton can be affected by that
circumstance. They have seen a set of bipeds acting on the notion that
all prisoners are incurable: they have seen a thief, thus despaired
of, driven toward despair, and almost made incurable through being
thought so. Then they have seen this supposed incurable fall into the
hands of a Christian that held "it is never too late to mend;" and
generally I think that, feebly as my pen has drawn so great a
character, they can calculate, by what Mr. Eden has already done, what
he will do while I am with Susan and George; what love, what
eloquence, what ingenuity he will move to save this wandering sheep,
to turn this thief honest and teach him how to be honest yet not
I will ask my reader to bear in mind, that the good and wise priest
has no longer his hands tied by a jailer in the interest of the foul
fiend. But then, against all this, is to be set the slippery heart of
a thief, a thief almost from his cradle. Here are great antagonist
forces and they will be in daily almost hourly collision for months to
come. In life nothing stands still; all this will work goodward or
badward. I must leave it to work.
MR. EDEN'S health improved so visibly that Susan Merton announced her
immediate return to her father. It was a fixed idea in this young
lady's mind that she and Mrs. Davies had no business in the house of a
saint upon earth, as she called Mr. Eden, except as nurses.
The parting of attached friends has always a touch of sadness needless
to dwell on at this time. Enough that these two parted as brother and
young sister, and a spiritual adviser and advised, with warm
expressions of Christian amity, and an agreement on Susan's part to
write for advice and sympathy whenever needed.
On her arrival at Grassmere Farm there was Mr. Meadows to greet her.
"Well, that is attentive!" cried Susan. There was also a stranger to
her, a Mr. Clinton.
As nothing remarkable occurred this evening, we may as well explain
this Mr. Clinton. He was a speculator, and above all a setter on foot
of rotten speculations, and a keeper on foot a little while of lame
ones. No man exceeded him in the art of rose-tinting bad paper or
parchment. He was sanguine and fluent. His mind had two eyes, an
eagle's and a bat's; with the first he looked at the "pros," and with
the second at the "cons" of a spec.
He was an old acquaintance of Meadows, and had come thirty miles out
of the way to show him how to make 100 per cent without the shadow of
a risk. Meadows declined to violate the laws of Nature, but, said he,
"If you like to stay a day or two I will introduce you to one or two
who have money to fling away." And he introduced him to Mr. Merton.
Now that worthy had a fair stock of latent cupidity, and Mr. Clinton
was the man to tempt it.
In a very few conversations he convinced the farmer that there were a
hundred ways of making money, all of them quicker than the slow
process of farming and the unpleasant process of denying one's self
superfluities and growing saved pennies into pounds.
"What do you think, John," said Merton one day to Meadows, "I have got
a few hundreds loose. I'm half minded to try and turn them into
thousands for my girl's sake. Mr. Clinton makes it clear, don't you
"Well, I don't know," was the reply. "I have no experience in that
sort of thing, but it certainly looks well the way he puts it."
In short, Meadows did not discourage his friend from co-operating with
Mr. Clinton; for his own part he spoke him fair, and expressed openly
a favorable opinion of his talent and his various projects, and always
found some excuse or other for not risking a halfpenny with him.
ONE day Mr. Meadows walked into the post-office of Farnborough and
said to Jefferies, the postmaster, "A word with you in private, Mr.
"Certainly, Mr. Meadows--come to my back parlor, sir; a fine day, Mr.
Meadows, but I think we shall have a shower or two."
"Shouldn't wonder. Do you know this five-pound note?"
"Can't say I do."
"Why it has passed through your hands?"
"Has it? well a good many of them pass through my hands in the course
of the year. I wish a few of 'em would stop on the road."
"This one did. It stuck to your fingers, as the phrase goes."
"I don't know what you mean, sir," said Jefferies haughtily.
"You stole it," explained Meadows quietly.
"Take care," cried Jefferies in a loud quaver--" Take care what you
say! I'll have my action of defamation against you double quick if you
dare to say such a thing of me."
"So be it. You will want witnesses. Defamation is no defamation you
know till the scandal is published. Call in your lodger."
"And call your wife!" cried Meadows, raising his voice in turn.
"Heaven forbid! Don't speak so loud, for goodness' sake!"
"Hold your tongue then and don't waste my time with your gammon," said
Meadows sternly. Then resuming his former manner he went on in the
tone of calm explanation. "One or two in this neighborhood lost money
coming through the post. I said to myself, 'Jefferies is a man that
often talks of his conscience--he will be the thief--so I baited six
traps for you, and you took five. This note came over from Ireland;
you remember it now?"
"I am ruined! I am ruined!"
"You changed it at Evans' the grocer's; you had four sovereigns and
silver for it. The other baits were a note and two sovereigns and two
half sovereigns. You spared one sovereign, the rest you nailed. They
were all marked by Lawyer Crawley. They have been traced from your
hand, and lie locked up ready for next assizes. Good-morning, Mr.
Jefferies turned a cold jelly where he sat--and Meadows walked out,
primed Crawley, and sent him to stroll in sight of the post-office.
Soon a quavering voice called Crawley into the post-office. "Come into
my back parlor, sir. Oh! Mr. Crawley, can nothing be done? No one
knows my misfortune but you and Mr. Meadows. It is not for my own
sake, sir, but my wife's. If she knew I had been tempted so far
astray, she would never hold up her head again. Sir, if you and Mr.
Meadows will let me off this once, I will take an oath on my bended
knees never to offend again."
"What good will that do me?" asked Crawley contemptuously.
"Ah!" cried Jefferies, a light breaking in, "will money make it right?
I'll sell the coat off my back."
"Humph! If it was only me--but Mr. Meadows has such a sense of public
duty, and yet--hum!--I know a way to influence him just now."
"Oh, sir! do pray use your influence with him."
"What will you do for me if I succeed?"
"Do for you?--cut myself in pieces to serve you."
"Well, Jefferies, I'm undertaking a difficult task--to turn such a man
as Meadows, but I will try it and I think I shall succeed; but I must
have terms. Every letter that comes here from Australia you must bring
to me with your own hands directly."
"I will, sir, I will."
"I shall keep it an hour or two perhaps, not more; and I shall take no
money out of it."
"I will do it, sir, and with pleasure. It is the least I can do for
"And you must find me 10 pounds." The little rogue must do a bit on
his own account.
"I must pinch to get it," said Jefferies ruefully.
"Pinch then," replied Crawley coolly; "and let me have it directly."
"You shall--you shall--before the day is out."
"And you must never let Meadows know I took this money of you."
"No, sir, I won't! is that all?"
"That is all."
"Then I am very grateful, sir, and I won't fail, you may depend."
Thus the two battledores played with this poor little undetected one,
whom his respectability no less than his roguery placed at their
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