The Lord of the Sea
M. P. Shiel
Part 2 out of 6
Paddington Station amid a Babel of escaped tongues, when, sitting in
his pigeonhole, he heard the unknown voice before him cry: "Well,
Jim, we're away to the mountain's brow!"
Jim, nothing but a voice, was heard: "Worse luck! I knows Colmoor,
and I knows the Scrubs, and I knows Portland; and of the five I say--give
me Jedwood. Who's the guy in front o' you?"
"Hi, you in front there, who _are_ yer?" cried the first, pounding.
He was answered by a deep voice, which said:
"I AM WHO I AM".
"All right, keep yer 'air on, if you've any left! It's the Lawd
Chief Justice, mate! 'E says 'e's 'oo 'e are!"
"'Old on! _I_ knows who it is: it's that new-comer, 33. They say he
was once a priest--"
But now speech was swallowed up in hubbub, as the van ran battering
down a rough street near the station.
Then again Hogarth was whirled into night and space, and, toward
morning, after the bumping climb of a van, was bidden to alight on
moorland, where he spied, far off, set on a hill, a mighty palace of
Romance, all grim, aloof, which was Colmoor.
The next morning while the outdoor gangs were being searched on
parade before the exit, Hogarth saw a face which he knew; and "You,
Bates", he said, "I thought you were in Eternity!"
But no: there stood Bates, all capped and arrowed, cropped and neat,
not wearing the filthy old scarf of liberty any more.
The neighbor of Hogarth now was a stout man, with black hair, and
He it was who had been--a priest: and in "Black Maria" had given
that answer: "I am who I am".
A year passed, during which John Loveday exhausted the resources of
civilization, (1)in seeking Margaret, and (2)in investigating the
innocence of Richard.
He had, however, a sprightly, adventurous nerve in the mind, and
would pull his velvet sleeves busily up--such was his little way. He
began to plot.
About the same time the ex-priest, in that far-off world of Colmoor,
said one day to Hogarth: "_You_ won't be here long!"
"You jest," Hogarth answered; "if I had the chance of escape, I
should never take it. I am here by due legal process".
"Tut, if I say that you will escape, it is not because I am a
prophet, but a man of the world, and know what happens in it".
Converse with this deep, world-wise, and fluent man had now become
to Hogarth like manna, or rather a vice, like opium: for in those
grey eyes of the cleric was hinted anon the baleful glint of the
That day, a Saturday, outdoor gangs were recalled early, to "clean
up" for Sunday, and out across the heath rang the great bell,
Colmoor being famous for its bell, its tone and great size, larger
than even the eight-ton "Mighty Tom" of Christ Church, for though
its thickness was only six inches, it weighed, bell and clapper, ten
tons, and was seven feet high and seven in diameter.
A busy Saturday afternoon ensued, and whatsoever Hogarth's hand
found to do he did it with his might, though his face now seemed all
eyes--brown, bloodshot, imperially large, morbidly staring.
He was giving the finishing touches of order to his wooden spoon and
salt-cellar, his tin knife, plate, and pint cup for gruel, when a
Warder Jennings peeped in with, "No. 76--you are to follow the
assistant warder at once", and Hogarth descended to an ante-room
where an official handed him a letter, which had been read and
initialed by governor and chaplain.
An event!--a letter in Colmoor, like a shark's fin on the voyages of
old sailing ships.
It was from Loveday, and concluded with a reference to Hogarth's
"poor old grandmother".
So Hogarth, who had no "grandmother", propped his forehead to ponder
that thing; and presently said: "Oh, it is a cypher".
And by noting little peculiarities in the shapes of the letters, a
double cross to a t, a q like a g, etc., he soon had "flemecops-
leftquary"--which he took to mean: "flee to me in the copse to the
left of the quarry".
He smiled with tenderness at the dear heart planning and daring so
very much for him. But in his smile was a touch of disdain also, he
not intending to "flee".
Hogarth's first thought, as getting-up bell clattered réveille
through the gallery, was of Loveday's cypher, and by the time the
warder came to ask if he would see governor or doctor, a thought of
Monsignor O'Hara had somehow mixed itself with the thought of the
cypher; when an orderly handed in the day's brown loaf, he was
thinking, "Strange that he never told me what he has done"; eating
his pint of gruel, he thought: "If I will not escape myself, I might
perhaps let another."
"What!" said O'Hara on the march out, "you still here?"
"Where should I be?" answered Hogarth, dull and sullen.
"Where palaces stand open for you, and bank-notes--have you ever
realized something very charming in the Helen pallor of a bank-note,
Hogarth? And gold-yellow, sparkling gold! Hogarth, I--_love_ gold!
It is a confession--"
"Is it that love which brought you here?" Hogarth asked with his
Whereupon the priest turned a cold gaze upon him--had regarded
Hogarth as a well-bred man, or would hardly have conversed with him.
"I had a motive for asking", said Hogarth, eyeing the face of the
prelate--a man of very coarse feature; a small head, made to receive
the tonsure, with a low brow; a stern bottom lip, and long upper; a
fat neck held majestically erect; and up stuck his double chin. In
profile, the part between the sharp edge of the bottom lip and the
chin-tip was divided, down near the chin tip, by an angle and
crease; and the lower face seemed too massive for the size of the
Nothing could be more exquisite than the contrast between his air of
force, authority and importance, and the knickerbockers, the coarse
cap, the canvas slop-jacket, which he wore.
Outwardly calm, he was yet very excited by that "I had a motive"; he
said to himself: "Suppose this man has some plan! He could invent
ten, if he only knew it. And suppose he would tell me it, if I make
him believe me innocent! It would be like him!"
When the eleven o'clock dinner-bell rang, and they two were again
together, O'Hara said: "Hogarth, I have for some time been intending
to give you my story. Have I in your eyes the air of a guilty man?"
"God knows," answered Hogarth, with a shrug; "you talk nicely, and
you know much".
"So much for the hollowness of friendship!"
"Don't be sentimental", said Hogarth: "I never pretended to be any
friend of yours; but I do respect your talents, do pity your misery:
and if I knew the solid facts of, as you have said, your
'innocence', I might--"
"_What_?" whispered O'Hara with a thievish, fierce glance.
"_In God's truth?_"
O'Hara said: "I don't find it so cold as it was this morning. You
must have observed a certain peculiarity of moorland climates--the
same being true of the Roman Campagna, and of Irish peat-lands--that
they are colder than elsewhere in the absence of the sun, and warmer
in its presence. This afternoon--_I will tell you_--"
They had reached the great gates, and were marched to parade-ground
for the second of the four daily searches; then, after three ounces
of fat mutton and forty minutes' rest, the third search, the second
And immediately beyond the gates O'Hara began: "In order to paint
you my life, Hogarth, I must give you at once to understand what has
been its mainspring and secret: my passion for my Church--"
He paused, while his lips moved in prayer, and he crossed himself.
"From boyhood my dream was to see my Church supreme in the warfare
of the world, I being a King's College and Maynooth man, at twenty-
three was Senior Chancellor's Medallist, and seven years later, sent
to Rome was quickly received into the Vatican household. It was
recognized that I had a future: both gifts and graces; piety; a
versatile tongue; a powerful voice; some learning; could dine, I
could look august; above all, I knew my man and could talk him over.
My great day came when, one morning, in St. Gregory the Great on
Mount Coelius, I was consecrated Bishop Coadjutor to his Eminence
the Archbishop of Westminster. Now I was on the heights. My life
during the next ten years was a life of bustling action--and was led
always with one unselfish object. No man ever spoke a greater number
of words than I, Hogarth. I have breakfasted with the Prime
Minister, lunched with a President of the Conference, and dined with
the Bishop of London: between the three meals I have written a
hundred letters and pitched into ten cabs. Such a life is very
exhilarating, in comparison, for example, with quarrying. Oh, my God
what am I fallen! Most of that time I was running over Europe: from
Madrid to Vienna, from Rouen to Rome. It happened that the
Archbishop of Paris was organizing a scheme of Church-workhouses in
France, in the absence of municipal ones, such as we have here....
Well, it was a grand thing, but was falling through for lack of
funds: so I, on my way to Rome, undertook the mission to plead the
cause before his Holiness, and succeeded to this extent that, on my
return, I had with me a casket from the good old man containing
seven diamonds, which I might either dispose of personally, or hand
over to the Paris fund. Now, it was during my stay at Rome that that
series of events, culminating in the Jewish exodus from Europe,
occurred; and on my journey home I was seized with the mighty
thought that, since many of the Jews were perishing of want, _that_
was the moment to reach their spirit through the body, and add their
race to the trophies of the Church. Was it not a thought? You
yourself, who are a Jew--"
Hogarth's eyes opened in surprise."_I_ am not a Jew ".
"No? I should have said that there was a hint of expression
somewhere--But to resume. I retained those seven diamonds, and
disposed of them".
"Perfectly honest! I acquainted the Pope--he sanctioned it! And now,
I, single-handed almost, threw myself into that task. I hired, I
built, I begged, I borrowed, I formed committees, I haunted
Religious Houses, I sweated, I ran, I wept, I visited dens, I smoked
opium, I drank gin, I framed memorials, I learned Yiddish, I read
the Mishna and Gemara, I interviewed Rabbonim, I wrote tracts: I was
busy. In the midst of it, I had to visit Rome ceremoniously, to
assist at an interview between the Duke of York and his Holiness--
arrived on the Monday, and on the Wednesday, I remember, attended a
Court Ball in the suite of his Royal Highness. That night, when I
returned to the Vatican, I found all the Piazza di San Pietro
crowded. I do not know if you were free at the time when my friend,
M. Tissot, startled everybody by predicting the collision of an
asteroid with the earth? Tut, the silly being--he should have known
from the body's response to the spectroscope that its condition was
too friable to resist our atmosphere. But I never yet knew an
astronomer not imbued with sensationalism they acquire a certain
megalomania from their intercourse with space. But, at all events,
the people, dreading the destruction of everything, had crowded
toward the Vatican. The Duke of Genoa, I, and some of the College of
Cardinals, stood watching from a balcony; and very imposing, I
remember, was the moment when a glare appeared--I must stop--"
They were at the face of the rock, and the "halt" and "set to work"
But again on the final march back at 5.15 when nightshades were
falling fast like snow, and the arm now felt the pick a load, O'Hara
began his muttering:
"I was telling you about the asteroid", he said. "Now this body, it
was given out, contained diamonds in large evidence, and the mere
thought of such a thing bursting in mid-air, and scattering itself
about was, I--I confess, a little fascinating to my mind. A man
might let his soul gloat upon such a hope till he went lunatic with
lust! I--I confess, the thought was alluring to me. Diamond, my son:
lucid--But when the body burst, and none of it came my way, I drove
it from my mind: in fact, I never heard of a trace of it having been
seen--hissed itself into gases in mid-air. Except in one instance--
"When I reached Calais on my homeward way, stopped there a day,
awaiting the coming of Rouen, for whom I had nuncio communications,
and in the evening went to visit a cottage where I had once been a
great favourite with an old fellow called Santé-you know those
Calais fishers, with painted sabots, and ochred trousers. And
'What!' said I to Santé, 'the nets already spread at this hour?'
'Nothing to be done to-day, my Father', he answered, and explained
that he had attempted to pick up a stone before his door, and--it
had burned him: he showed it me: it had the appearance of a piece of
ferruginous rock, stuck with pieces of dirty glass; and it had
burned Santé on the midnight of the asteroid's scattering.
"Imagine my excitement: 'The asteroid', I thought, 'may add fifty
thousand Jews to the Church'. I asked Santé for the stone--Do you
"Go on," said Hogarth.
"That day two months I had the diamonds lying polished in a casket
in my house. My evil destiny, Hogarth, ordained that the casket was
the one given me for Paris by the Pope, the number of the new
diamonds the same--seven: and one day, about that time, the Vatican
organ, the _Osservatore Romano_, published a dreadful article,
hinting that I had applied to my own purposes seven diamonds
entrusted me for Paris: the Pope, just dead, must have left some
record of his gift. My friend, before I had heard a whisper of the
attack upon me, the casket, whose lid was mosaicked with the Papal
fanon, was secretly searched by a secretary in my house: the seven
diamonds were seen.
"Imagine the horror of what followed: I was abandoned by all--
superior and inferior; the story of the meteor was received with
sneers. The scandal reached the public papers--the public
prosecutor. And here now is the wretch, Patrick O'Hara."
The latter part of this narrative was fiction! The Pope's diamonds
O'Hara had duly handed to the Archbishop! and though there was such
a man as Santé, no asteroid had ever fallen at his door. In fact,
O'Hara was "serving time" for an assault upon a lady in a railway
compartment between Whitchurch and Salisbury.
But Hogarth spent that night in meditating the pros and cons as to
O'Hara's escaping; and, in a moment of destiny, said at last: "If he
is undeservedly doomed--" and swooned to sleep.
The very next day was foggy....
On the march out O'Hara said: "Here is something like a fog. On the
Carinthian Alps, where you have dense woolly fogs, there is a race
of goats, which--"
"Would you like to escape?" whispered Hogarth.
"Hogarth--! My God--!"
A trembling seized the priest's leathery left cheek, he at that
instant seeing a vision of the world--Andalusian wines, hued ices,
the opera-house, and great greyhounds of the sea, and a snuff which
his gross nose loved at Gorey.
"Hogarth, you are not mocking me?" chattered the priest's jaws,
hurrying like a jarred spring.
"I am quite serious. You will have to run for it though".
"_Run!_ I am not such a young man! Have pity Hogarth".
"Bah! Be a man".
The priest approached his mouth to Hogarth's ear: "_I should die of
fright!_ My heart--"
"What would it matter? I thought you had more beans".
"But have you--a plan?"
"Yes. You must run to the copse--"
"I shall be shot!"
"I _could_ not--"
"Then, do not".
"Tell me, boy! Tell me, Hogarth..."
"Within the copse to the left of the quarry there is almost
certainly at this moment waiting a man who, as soon as you pronounce
my name, will help you--"
"You say _almost_ certainly".
"I can't see him, O'Hara. But I should say he is there on a morning
"_What_ a risk! _What_ a risk!" went the priest with lifted eyelids
"You cannot escape from prison without risk. But I, personally,
would venture upon ten times as much, if I thought it becoming.
There is, however, another risk: that you may not strike the part of
the copse where he is. But near the 1 middle it is high--"
"Why, it is nothing but risks!" whined O'Hara with opening arms.
"You are not bound to try it. By the way--can you swim?"
"Yes--I suppose so--yes".
"Then lift yourself to it, and risk it. I should, if I were you.
Think of liberty, activity. Prick your spirit, grip at it, and
"Do you think I shall be shot?"
"No! It does not matter! Crush your doubts, martyr yourself to your
aim, and your aim will give you the crown of martyrdom".
"Well--God reward you--I will think of it--"
"In that case, don't trust to your own eyes--_I_ will give you the
signal with my handkerchief--so: you keep your eyes fixed on me.
Then run, zigzagging. And tell Loveday for me to look after you,
and not make any more plans for me. Good-bye, O'Hara! All this is
very unselfish of me, for I lose my old talky-talky O'Hara--"
They parted at the rock, and set to work.
As minutes, half-hours passed, the condition of O'Hara became
piteous, hideous. His knees knocked together. Like death he dreaded,
like life awaited, that signal. He said to himself: "This Hogarth
will be my ruin...God deal not with me after my sins...!"
Hogarth was waiting that the warders' morning watchfulness might
yield to the influence of use and time; but near nine, when the
morning fog showed signs of thinning, he approached the water-can to
ask for a drink, O'Hara being then two yards from him, wheeling a
As he stooped to the water, his huge stare ranged the moor, took in
the truth of it, and, after waiting ten, fifteen seconds, he upset
the can. As two officers, at the outcry, ran toward the spot,
Hogarth, his eyes fixed upon them, waited--and all at once, with a
flourish, drew his handkerchief.
O'Hara, with a heavy but impassioned run, was away...
He had not run five yards when a chorus of whistles was shrilling.
And quick, that monotony reels into a very frenzy of sensation: it
is no more the same world, the same men. Lo, in the Palace of
Continuity is an Event.
33 was off.
Five hundred pairs of eyes lit up, and the flurried warders ran in
random dismay to see to it! How if all the five hundred should do
the like, simultaneously?--a possibility underlying, through all its
breadth, the little social "system" which has produced Colmoor.
But the five hundred, exhorted, stamped at, shouted at, remained
quiet, though restive, only the wild eye showing the wild thought,
while two of the warders pursued O'Hara who had also to run the
blockade of two pickets of the civil guard.
The escaping convict, however, has this advantage: that his mind is
strung to a far higher pitch than his pursuers'; and, given a
certain ecstasy, everything can be accomplished.
So O'Hara separately dodged the two pickets, and was making bolt for
the copse before three rifles, aimed at a large vague ghost, rang
out, and did not hit. He plunged madly into the brambly bush.
Immediately a bleating like a child's trumpet was heard from its
midst; and in a few seconds, not one, but _four_, men were seen to
rush toward the river, all in convict knickerbockers, stockings,
caps, all in black overcoats: and one carried a bundle.
Beyond the river one was shot in the leg--a black sailor, who, with
two roughs, had undertaken the risk for lucre. The rest escaped.
Soon after this Hogarth was taken with vomitings, his heart retching
at Colmoor. His dark cheeks jaundiced; those mobile nostrils of his
small bony nose yawned, like an exhausted horse's; his face was all
a light of eyes.
Whether or not some suspicion of his complicity with O'Hara had
occurred to the authorities, he now found himself transferred to
another "graft": from quarrying was set to trenching.
Four things are inexhaustible in the earth: the hope of a gambler;
the sea; the lip of a lover; and the capacity of Colmoor to be
trenched and quarried.
And in Hogarth's new gang was--Fred Bates.
One day, Hogarth, intent upon his work, heard a sob and, glancing,
saw that Bates had dropped his spade and buried his face in his
"What, Fred, not giving in?" He went quickly and pressed his palm on
Bates' brow, saying: "Patience! Stiffen your back: look how _I_ slip
"Ah, Hogarth, you don't know. I am an innocent man".
"So am I."
"Yes, but _I_ was certain in my own mind to be out within anyway,
six months; _you_ wasn't. That makes a difference, don't it? That
touches the nerve, don't it? Ah!"
"And how did you expect to be out?"
"I had a brother-Bob-in the 9th Lancers in Punjab and his regiment
was ordered home just a week before I was arrested. Well, the
morning after the missus was killed, I went early--for I knew I'd
soon be arrested--to a stableman at Beccles--you know old Harris--and
I made him swear to give a letter to Bob the moment Bob put foot in
Southampton, and to nobody else. In the letter I told Bob where he
was to look for so-and-so, and how he was to prove my innocence--"
"But I don't understand a word of what you are saying", interrupted
"I'll tell you. I did not kill my Kit. The burn on her face, and on
my hand, wasn't any red-hot poker. Did you ever hear such bosh? Look
here, you mind, don't you, the talk that week about the world
getting blowed up by some comet? Well, about 3 P.M. on the comet
day, as I was walking home through Lagden Dip, an old gent, the same
as took the farm over after you, he comes up to me, and he says:
'If you should happen to see anywhere in your travels', sez 'e,
laughin' and rubbin' his hands, 'a piece of hot iron after eleven
to-night, you bring it to me, and I'll put a cheque for One Thousand
Pounds there in the middle of your palm'. Well--I said it was a
Wednesday, didn't I? And Wednesday bein' the pay-day on the Eastern,
me and the missus had a drop o' beer that afternoon, and you know
'ow you come and catched me a-paying of her--dirty dog that I was
those days. But, Hogarth, you hadn't hardly gone when we made it up
between us, and the rest of that evening we was just like--well--two
bloomin', cooin' doves! kissin', blubblin', havin' drinks, and doin'
our week's shoppin' together. Well--stop, here's Black--"
They were interrupted, and for two days found no other chance.
Two days during which Hogarth received another letter from Loveday,
of which one paragraph was as follows: "The fifteen pounds which you
left in Lloyd's Bank I have managed to withdraw for you on the
authority of your aunt, Miss Sarah Hogarth", and at once he scented
a cypher, having no fifteen pounds, and no aunt.
When he had unravelled it as before, he had: "Why you failed?
He was astounded: and could only conclude that O'Hara had not
delivered his message.
And as the image of O'Hara had mixed itself with his thoughts of the
copse, so now the image of Fred Bates mixed itself with the balloon.
It was partly through _his_ evidence that Bates was here...!
On the third day Bates, as though he had just left off, resumed his
"You know Seely's, the general shop, at Priddlestone", said he; "it
was there we always did our Wednesday-night marketin'--nobody would
believe what high old jinks those Wednesday pay-days was to us Great
Eastern blokes! By the time we reached Priddlestone, we had a quart
of four-ale down us, let alone what we'd had before, and, as the
saying is, one glass leads to another. By now we was feeling just
nicely, thank you, and instead of going to Seely's, we took a short
cut to 'The Broom', and it was going on for past eleven when we
found ourselves in--you know the beechwood between Priddlestone and
Thring--she singing all the time with her head thrown back, at the
top of her voice.
"Hogarth, it gives me the creeps to think of! Suddenly it looked as
if the whole wood was lit up: there was the sky all cut up with
streamers, I saw my Kit quite plain, then all at once there was a
whishin' and a rushin' among the trees, like steam--and I saw my Kit
drop smack. In two ticks my head was sober: but, as I ran to her, I
staggered sideways upon my left hand, and I let such a _yell_ out of
me--had put my hand upon something flamin' hot.
"The minute I bent over my old woman I knew she was a deader; and I
dropped down, and I called of her, and I shook of her, and it was
quite two hours before I come to myself properly, by which time the
affair what struck her down was gone out in darkness. Of course, the
first thing I thought of was the old gent at Lagden. 'This should
mean a cool thou', says I to myself. But I knew I should be arrested
first thing in the morning, except I told plain out what had
happened: and that, you bet, I didn't mean to do, for if once I
mentioned that there piece of iron before I had it safe off the
lord-o'-the-manor's land, I knew it 'ud be taken from me. But to
take it off before another day or two was out of the question--it
was too hot. So says I to myself: 'I'll _get_ convicted; and to-
night I'll write a letter to Bob, telling him where to find the
affair, how to get the thou, and _after_ he's got it, how to set
about gettin' the case retried '.
"Well, so said, so done. You know that old elm in the beech-wood? I
dug a grave at the foot of it, and managed to kick and roll the
affair into the grave, then I took up my Kit, carried her home, and
by the time I pegged out the letter to Bob, I saw day breakin'. So I
made paces for Beccles, knocked up old Harris, and gave him the
letter for Bob. By eight o'clock I was arrested--"
At this point the 5.15 recall-bell rang out, and there was falling
The next time that they had speech together, Hogarth said: "And were
you such a clown, Fred Bates, as to imperil your life for a paltry
"_Paltry_ thousand pounds?" answered Bates, surprised: "Hark at
this! Didn't I peril my life ten times more in Egypt for a bob a
day? I tell you I was certain in my own mind of getting out in a few
"Well, what happened to prevent you?"
"Only this: Bob died on the troop-ship coming home; that's all".
"But you could write old Harris to open your letter to Bob, and act
on it, or else hand it over to your father".
"My word, but haven't I wrote? Old 'Arris is either dead and buried,
or gorn away, or somethin'. I've waited a year and nine months--good
God! and no answer yet".
"Poor Fred! I could weep blood for you. Believe in God!"
"More Devil than God about Colmoor, it strikes me".
"As though _you_ knew! Suppose I strike you blind--_now_--with a
flash of Him?"
"I don't take your meaning, sir", said Bates, with a strange heart-
bound and sense of awe.
"Do you remember 33 of the quarry-gang, Fred?"
Hogarth whispered: "It was _I_ who got him off".
Bates whitened to the lips. "I--I thought as much".
"There is yet another chance, which _you_, if you like, may take".
Bates saw heaven opening; but with this vague hope was left two
On the third, Hogarth explained what he assumed to be the new plan
"I take it", he said, "that he will pass over the moor in a balloon
trailing a rope, which will have a loop to be slipped under the
arms. I tell you, there are dangers in this scheme: you may be shot.
Are you for trying it?"
"Trying it, aye", said Bates, with fifty times the boldness of
And now began for these two a painfulness of waiting days, the sleep
of both, meanwhile, being one nightmare of confused affrights,
balloons and deliriums.
Ten times they re-discussed every possibility of the scheme, Hogarth
giving messages for Loveday, heaping counsels upon Bates. Nothing
remained to be said, and still the days passed over the time-worn
hearts, till a month went by.
At last something was observed in the sky--afar to the N.W.--in the
afternoon turn, about two o'clock, a mist on the moor, but the sky
Whereupon Hogarth, who first saw the object, stepped, as if looking
for something, close to Bates, hissing: "_Goodbye!_ Keep cool--
Bates shovelled on steadily, as though this was a day like others;
but twice his knees gave and bent beneath him; and there was a
twitching of the livid under-lip, piteous to see.
It drew nearer, that silent needle, while Bates worked, delving,
barrowing, making little trips; plenty of time; and no one noted his
lip which pulled and twitched.
Without visible motion it came, wafted on the breaths of high
heaven: half an hour--and still it was remote, fifteen hundred feet
up. Bates and Hogarth peered to see a rope, but could none.
After fifty minutes it was actually over the moor, all now conscious
of it; but the rope was indistinguishable from the air.
Yet it was there, walking the ground, at its end a horizontal
staff....Hogarth, with wiser forethought than Loveday's, had
predicted, not a staff, but a loop.
It passed twenty yards from the quarry, Loveday no doubt imagining
that Hogarth still worked there; but the quarry was some hundred and
fifty yards from the trench.
Its course, nevertheless was toward the trench: and on walked
deliberately the fluctuating rope, the staff now travelling the
gorsey ground, now bounding like a kangaroo yards high, to come down
once more yonder.
A moment came when Hogarth, with intense hiss, was whispering to
himself: "If I were he, I should dash _now_".
But Fred Bates did not move.
Hogarth suffered agonies not less excruciating than the rack.
"Oh, whyever does he wait?" he groaned.
But now--all suddenly--it was known, it was felt, deep in five
hundred ecstatic hearts, that a convict was gone--a man overboard--a
soul in the agony--battling between life and death.
Like tempests the whistles split the air.
Where is he? Who is he? What mother bare him? It is 57! And he is
_there!_--on high--caught, to the skies.
The tumbling of four ballast bags from the balloon was marked: the
balloon darted high, wildly high; and with her, seated on the bar,
the cord between his thighs, darted high Fred Bates.
Exultant! the five hundred faces wax fire-eyed, each heart a flame
of madness. But yonder is Warder Black taking trembling, yet
careful, aim: now the report is echoing from the two Tors, the
granite-works; and that smoke no sooner thins than a whole volley of
crackling musketry is winging toward that dot under the clouds.
And it was hideous--pitiful--the quailing heart waited and was still
to see the dot dissever itself from its rod: he had been hit: was in
the middle of the vast and vacant air: and wheeling he came.
A shockingly protracted interval did that fall fill up: the five
hundred, gazing as at some wonder in heaven, did not, could not,
breathe: the outraged heart seemed to rend the breast in a shriek.
Would it _never_ end, that somersault? Wheeling he came.
In reality it occupied much less than a minute: and now he is no
more ethereal, but has grown, is grossly near, attended by the
raving winds of his travelling: is arrived. And the thump of his
coming was heard. As he touched the earth he jerked out circular....
Here was a tragedy remembered many a year at Colmoor, and always
with feelings of the deepest awe.
OLD TOM'S LETTER
The fate of Bates filled Hogarth's mind with a gloom so funereal,
that now his strength, his great patience, all but succumbed.
One evening, while his broom lay stuck out under the notch of his
cell-door in order that Warder Black might count him, he took his
tin knife, and began to scratch over the hills and valleys of his
corrugated wall some shining letters:
He was now, after long reflection, convinced that he was the victim
of a plot of Baruch Frankl's: yet in his heart was little rancour
against Frankl, nor, when he wrote his "V E N", was he thinking
specially of Frankl--hardly knew of whom, or what. It may have been
of the system of things which had given to Frankl such vast powers
over him; but, the "N" finished, he pshawed at himself, and threw
the knife down. If something was wrong, he knew not at all how to
right it, supposing the world had been his to guide.
But a simple incident was destined to transform his mood--a letter
from old Tom Bates, the father of Fred.
And as hitherto we have seen him passive, bearing his weight of pain
with patience, after that letter we shall find him in action.
Old Bates' letter was handed him three weeks after the scratching of
his vague "VEN".
"DERE MISTER HOGARTH:
"thise fu lines is to ast you how you er getn on, and can you giv a
pore old feller ane noos ov that godfussakn sun ov mine hopn they ma
find you as they leave me at present wich i av the lumbeigo vere Bad
and no Go the doctor ses bob wot you no was in the ninth lansers he
dide comen home so ive only fred left out of the ate. I rote to im
fore munths agorne, but no anser, no doubt becos i cum to london
soon arter, so no more at present from
The old fellow, Hogarth saw, did not know of Fred's fate: Fred, the
last of eight. He would find it hard to answer that letter.
When "beds down" was called, his head was still full of one thought:
old Tom Bates; and he could not sleep; heard the bell ring for the
change of warders; the vast silence of the prison's night; and still
his brain revolved old Tom.
The stealthy slipper of the night-warder passed and re-passed. Anon
a click of metal on metal, and the bull's-eye searched him.
Suddenly he remembered that visit to the forge at Thring, and the
present of herrings which old Tom in his guernsey, had brought.
"Here--take 'em--they're yours", old Tom had said.
He had just then, he remembered, been on the point of going into the
cottage to examine his guns, when the old man came, and stopped him--a
fatal, appointed thing, apparently. Had he actually gone, he would have
found the guns vanished, and would never have been condemned....
And what was it that the old man had said about fish, and fishermen,
and the sea?
He bent his brow to it, and finally remembered: "The day's work of a
fisherman gives him enough fish to live on all the week, and he
could lie round idling the other six days, if he chose; only anybody
can't live on nothing but fish all the time".
Was it true? Yes! He remembered facts of Yarmouth....
But since true, it was--strange.
Was the sea, then, a more productive element for men to work in than
the land? No, that was absurd: the land, in the nature of things,
was more productive.
Then, why could not _all_ men procure an easy superfluity by one
day's work, as the fisher could, if he chose to live naked in a
cave, eating fish alone? In that case the fisher could change some
of his day's-work fish for the shore people's day's-work things, and
so all have a variety as well as superabundance.
At the interest of this question, he leapt from his hammock, peering
into that thing, and his fleet feet were away, running after the
truth with that rapt abandonment that had characterized his hunting
and football. This was clear: that there was some difference between
land and sea as working-grounds for men. Shore people, like a
shoemaker, did not have for themselves enough shoes from even five,
or six, days' work on which to live in plenty for a week: and hence
would take nothing less than an enormous quantity of the fisher's
fish in exchange for a pair of shoes, making him, too, poor as
themselves. But since land work was as productive as sea work, and
far more so, it could only be that the shoemaker did not get for
himself all the shoes which he made, as the fisher got for himself
all the fish which he caught: some power took from shore people a
large part of what they made, a power which did not exist on the
sea. That much was sure.
What was this power, this inherent difference?
He could think of no inherent difference except this: that shore
workers paid rent for land--directly and indirectly--in a million
subtle ways; but fishers paid none for the sea.
So, then, if shore folk paid no rent, they would have a still
greater superfluity of shoes, etc., from one day's labour in six
than the fish-rich fisher?
So it seemed. So it _was_--as with savages. He started! But one
minute's reflection showed him that it was in the very nature of the
shore to pay rent: because one piece of land was better than
another--City land, for instance--and those working on the better
must pay for that benefit. Civilized land, therefore, was bound to
So that the shore people could never have the easy superfluity of
the fish-rich fisher--because land was bound to pay rent? And the
fisher must buy the shore things so dear with his easy-got fish,
toiling, he, too, all the week--because land was bound to pay rent?
The wretchedness of Man, then, was a Law?
Hogarth, confronted by a wall, groaned, and while his body was cold,
his brow rolled with sweat, he feeling himself on the brink of some
truth profound as the roots of the mountains....
"Land was bound to pay rent": he reached that point; and there
"But suppose the workers on shore paid the rent _among
At last those words: and he gave out a shout which begat mouths of
echo through the galleries of Colmoor.
"If the workers on shore paid rent among one another"--then they
would--on the whole--be in the very position of the fish-rich
workers on sea, who paid no rent at all, the nation--as a whole--
living on its country rent-free: England English, America American,
as the sea human: and our race might then begin to think, to live!
It seemed too sublime--and divine--to be true! Again, point by
point, he went over his reasoning with prying eye; and, on coming
back to the same conclusion, hugged himself, moaning. At last--he
And away now with the dullness and lowness! That blithe and hand-
clapping day! Good-bye, Colmoor! the daily massacre, the shame and
care. Men could begin--if in a baby way at first--to think, to see,
to sing, to live.
He saw, indeed, that that would hardly have been fair business if
he, for example, had paid his rent to the English Nation instead of
to Frankl, Frankl having bought Lagden with money earned. But he
thought that Frankl would hardly be slow to resign that rent, if
once he was shown....
But if Frankl _was_ slow--what then?
The oblong of ribbed glass over his flap-table showed a greyness of
morning, as he asked himself that thing.
In that case--Frankl could be argued with.
But if he still refused?
Then the question could be gone into as to whether that which is
good for forty millions, though apparently bad for Frankl, is not
_forty million times_ more just than unjust, goodness being justice;
also, as to which had the primary right to England, Frankl or the
But if he still refused?
Suddenly Hogarth giggled--his first laugh in Colmoor.
_That_ could be arranged....
For him, Hogarth, the great fact was this: that he saw light. Into
that humble cell the rays of Heaven had blazed.
After standing motionless a long time, he dropped to his knees, and
"O, Thou, Thou", he said....
An hour later, when asked by an orderly if he wished to see doctor
or governor, he replied: "The Governor".
(Captain Bucknill, the Governor, was making his morning rounds, when
he heard that among the convicts claiming to see him was 76.)
A little man, prim, snappy, compact: an army officer, with
moustachios stuck upon him, to curve and finish him off.
"Well, what is it, 76?" said he busily at the cell door.
Hogarth struck a hand-salute--his old habit on His Majesty's ships.
"Sir, I wished to tell you that I have determined to escape from
this prison--if I can".
"Indeed, now! This is a most refreshing candour, 76!"
"I have said what I had to say", said Hogarth. "You keep a sharp eye
on me, and I, too, will keep a sharp eye".
The Governor puffed a breath of laughter, turned on his heels,
walked away, and that day spoke to three officials with regard to
And during a week Hogarth lay deep, chained, in a punishment-cell.
But during its first four days he had invented three separate plans
of escape, and had determined upon the one which seemed the surest,
When he again came up into the light, he was a marked man, under
Warder Black's constant suspicion.
Now, however, his expression was changed: he no longer belonged to
Colmoor, though he was there. Sometimes he felt like shouting at the
burden of his secret. In his impatience to proclaim it, he pined to
write to Loveday--but now his punishment had lost him that
Meantime, the problem was to get ten good miles beyond Colmoor: a
hard one; but his brain had already accomplished a task far harder:
and the greater implied the less.
His first thought, when he had begun to plan, had been Loveday; his
second, that on no account could he permit Loveday to incur further
risk, or expense, for him; his third, that he might yet use Loveday
to any extent not involving risk or expense.
At the next weekly "School" he sat near a Thames-works hackle-maker,
who, though he could write, was no scholar, and was laboriously
spoiling a second letter-sheet, when Hogarth whispered him: "Can I
help you? I see it's to your mother. I could get her a quid from a
friend of mine".
"Well, I'm much obliged....!"
The laborious letter, after half an hour, had in it:
"If you go to 15, Cheyne Gardens, the gentleman will give you a
sovereign which he owed me for cutting down the elm in the beech-
wood at Teddington for him".
Now, Loveday lived at 15, Cheyne Gardens, and had only to see those
words "_the elm in the beechwood_," to scent a cypher from Hogarth.
He offered five pounds for that letter: but it was two weeks before
he decided upon the intended words: "Small chloroform--trenches--
There were several trenches, many rocks: yet one midnight, when a
blustering wind huddled the bracken, and the prison stood darkling,
wrapped in mystery, a lonely figure in an ulster was there; and
under each of three rocks he deposited two vials: for the formation
of only three gave the least chance of concealment.
What Hogarth's plan could be he racked his brain in vain to dream,
guessing that prisoners, on returning from the moor, must be
searched, even to the ears: Hogarth, therefore, could never use the
vial within the walls, and must mean to use it without--a
sufficiently wild proceeding. But the finding of the vials, was
sure: for the "rock" which Hogarth had had in mind was one of those
granite ones common on Colmoor, standing five feet high on a small
base; and one day he swept his hand among the gorse under it, and,
with a glad half-surprise, touched two vials.
Three days later he again swept his hand among the gorse, touched
the vials, breasted his handkerchief, laid the vials on it, and
presently contrived to tie them together with a twig.
At his feet now was a wheelbarrow full of marl, and two yards off
Warder Black, waiting for him to roll the barrow; but, inserting his
spade between a wheel and a side of the barrow, his back toward
Black, Hogarth, with a tug, bent the spade: then walked to Black.
"Look here", he said, "that spade isn't much good now...."
Black strode to look, Hogarth a little behind him: and at the
instant when the officer was a-stoop to lift the spade, Hogarth took
the vials from his breast, and laid them upright in the little
pocket of Black's tunic, near his bayonet-sheath and cartridge-box,
above the belt.
By the time the matter of the spade was settled, the great bell
rang, the gangs went marching over the old familiar level, up the
old path in the grass-mound on which the Palace stands, and so, in
lax order, like shabby French conscripts, powdered, toil-worn, into
Then the search on parade: during which, as Black busily searched
him, Hogarth said: "Search well".
They were then led up to cells.
And the moment Hogarth's door closed upon him, he put his skilly-can
on the floor, and, with one stamp, stamped it out of shape; also he
broke his cup, and pocketed two fragments of it.
A few minutes afterwards, before cocoa, Black, trotting in heavy
haste here and there in the gallery, looked in to say: "Bath to-
And Hogarth: "Warder! a word with you! sorry, I have trodden on my
Upon which Black went stooping to look, the can now standing on the
low shelf; and as he said "I shall report this", Hogarth, stooping,
with quick deftness had the vials picked from the thick pocket.
"Well, fall in", said Black to him; "better take your precious can,
and give it to a bath-room warder for the store-keeper to change".
Hogarth, as he passed out, placed the vials on the shelf over his
door, where they were secure, since cells were never searched; and,
the bathers having formed in single file, five feet between man and
man, away they moved and down--away and down--lost in space,
treading the journey of galleries, till, at the bottom, they passed
up a vaulted corridor, monastically dim, across a yard open to
starry sky, and into the door of a semi-detached, steep-roofed
building, which was the bath-house.
A row of thirty-five baths; a very long bench for undressing; in the
space between bench and baths three warders walking: such was the
bath-house: all whitewashed, galvanized iron, and rigour; but for
its old record of uneventfulness a scandal was preparing that night.
Outside the door a fourth officer paced, and a cord within rang a
little bell in one click, to tell when, the bathing over, the door
should be unlocked outside.
After giving up his can near the door to a warder, who laid it on
the bench, Hogarth undressed slowly; got off his boots; and now had
on only knickerbockers and stockings: he got off his stockings.
And the moment his bare soles touched the floor, he felt himself
once more agile on the ratlines, larky for a shore-row, handy in any
squall. Let them all come, therefore! He smiled; passed his palms
down his crib of lean ribs.
"Good gracious, why don't you hurry up there...?" an officer came
At "there" he saw stars-and-stripes, dropped upon his back: Hogarth
was away toward the door, while the bathers started with shouts,
though in no bosom arose any impulse to follow, the bath-house being
the centre of a maze of twenty unscaleable walls, prison within
But as for Hogarth, in such a dazzling flash did he dash toward the
door, that he had struck down the second officer before the outcry
of the first, and had pulled at the door-bell before the third could
cry _"Don't open!"_--a cry muffled into his maw by a cuff prompt as
This third man, however, grasped the fugitive by the middle: and
while the overthrown two were running up, and the key without
seeking the lock, a short, venomous tussle was waged just near the
door, till Hogarth, wringing his naked body free, tossed his
antagonist by the knees to slide into the path of the two on-comers;
at the same time, catching up his battered can, and smashing it into
the face of the door-orderly, who now peeped in, he slipped through,
and was gone into a yard, small, of irregular shape, and dim, with
one wall-lantern, and but one egress (except the egress into the
prison-hall), namely a blind-alley between the laundry and carpet-
makers' building on one side, and stables on the other: blind alley,
yard, and all, being shut in by big buildings.
By the time the door-orderly opened his eyes, and one of the inside
three had rushed out, Hogarth had vanished; and these two, shrilling
whistles to reinforce the bath-room guard, pelted down the blind-
alley to effect, as they thought, a sure capture. But Hogarth was
Back they came trotting, breathless, rather at a loss. One panted:
"He must have run back into the great hall...."
The other panted: "He'd hardly do that--hiding in the yard still,
_must_ be. There's that little nook...."
The "little nook" is a three-sided space in a corner, very dark,
formed by one wall of the campanile, or bell-tower, together with a
wall of the laundry-house, and a third wall which shuts in the yard;
the entrance to it narrow, and one looking up within it seems to
stand at the bottom of a triangular well, split at one corner. It is
not far from the bathhouse, and into it Hogarth had really darted;
but when the officers came peering, no trace of him.
He had, in fact, gone up the lightning-conductor, which runs down a
bell-tower remarkably high, Colmoor having been built during the
Napoleonic wars for French prisoners at a time when the theory was
accepted that a lightning-conductor protects a space whose radius is
double the height of the conductor. The tower is a five-sided
structure with a Gothic window into which it is impossible to get
from the conductor, because a corner intervenes, and it is a feat to
swing from the conductor to the laundry-wall coping, and thence,
leaping up, to grip the window: at each of which ordeals Hogarth
hesitated, pierced with chills; to his observations from afar it had
seemed so much less stupendous; but in each case he dared, and
All this time the can was between his teeth.
Arrived on the window, his arms out groping, he felt a slanting
beam--climbed it--found it short-mounted upon a horizontal one, all
here, as he had expected, being a chaos of beams, raying every way.
Thrice he sneezed low, and felt cobwebs in his face.
And groping he went, seeking the great Bell of Colmoor, which he had
doomed, hearing sounds of the to-do, echoes that ran below, and the
vague shout of somebody, till he touched the flat top of the bell,
clamped to the swing-beam on which he sat astraddle; felt also that
along the top of the beam lay an iron bar; made sure that this was
in actual contact with the clamps of the bell: and, no longer
hesitating, set to work upon the can.
Tugging with his dog-teeth under the upper rim, he got a loose end,
and wrenched the rim off; then, tearing along the solder, got the
cylinder separated from the bottom; and, opening it out, had a sheet
of tin. And now, by the help of his fragments of cup, he set to
hack-sawing, breaking, tearing this into strips, no easy thing, in
spite of the thin-worn condition of the can: but finally had six
The edge of one strip he inserted under an end of the bar of iron on
the beam; then connected that strip with another by loops, slid
again to the window, and there lay connecting the six strips by a
smith's-trick, with skew loops, non-slipping, getting a tin string
five feet long. He then took the leap to the laundry coping, and
thence the spring to the conductor, this being all the more
ticklishly perilous because he could barely see it.
Hanging away now from the conductor by the left elbow, he reached
out the right arm across the corner to catch the tin, which stuck
toward him from the window: and he wound its end round the
conductor, electrically connecting the bell with the conductor.
And now, standing with one foot on a staple below the tin, he twice
sawed the conductor's soft metal with the fragments of cup, cutting
and tugging out three inches of it, thus isolating the conductor's
point atop from its earthing; then he tossed the piece cut out
behind the laundry-coping.
This done, he listened, cast a searching eye below, slid down the
The yard was at present silent, but as he moved to give himself up
in the prison-hall, five night-warders with bull's-eyes fell out,
still seeking him.
And as he knelt with clasped hands of supplication and bent bare
back, like a captured slave, they fell savagely upon him, and cried
one: "Well, of all the idiots...!"
THE GREAT BELL
The next morning Hogarth was not marched out, and near dinner-time
was summoned before the Governor. Here he stood in a cage of bars in
a room of "No.1" prison, devoted to prison-offences; and before him,
at a littered table, sat governor and chief warder, with the
witnesses of the outbreak near.
The case was gone into, the report made: whereupon the Governor
looked up and down the length of Hogarth, and suddenly gave vent to
"So, No. 76", said he, "this was the threatened escape?"
Hogarth was now all contrition and hanging head.
"I beg for mercy", he said, with a little smile.
"Oh, I am not your judge...Where were you when the officers were
looking for you in the yard?"
"I was hiding in that little nook".
"Confounded carelessness on someone's part...And what cut and
swelled your mouth?"
"I bashed into the wall in the nook" (The can had cut him!).
"You must have been mad!"
During the next two weeks he had round his ankles a chain which,
rising in two loops, was fastened to a band round his waist; and he
was set to turn "the crank".
Finally, he was led forth to stand before the periodic Director,
who, after reading the report, turned to a volume of writing in
which was Hogarth's record: good--till lately; and the Director
addressed him with sternness, which yet was paternal: he would
sentence him to one month in a punishment cell, to two months in
chains, and to one dozen lashes.
And two days later he was led to the flogging-hall, which, as he
approached it, sent forth screams; the doctor looked at him and
consented; the Governor said: "Get it over".
Hogarth stripped to the waist, his teeth chattering: but not with
fear. On the contrary, he felt a touch of exultation.
The wrists of his outstretched arms having been bound to "the
triangle", the Governor gave the sign, the cat rose, and sang, and
Slowly up, and whistlingly down, rasping, reaping. At the seventh
shock he fainted: and thence onward had a long dream, in which he
saw Rebekah Frankl in Hindoo dress and jewellery, and she threw at
him a red rose black at heart with passion, and her body balanced in
dance, and her hands clapped at him.
During the next month he tholed the cold of that same punishment-
cell; and during the next was in his old cell, but in chains,
picking oakum. All this time, if he was aware of high winds by
night, he was in an agony, till the next day the great bell rang its
About the middle of February he was once more trenching in the open
But a fear had stolen into his mind: for the string of tin was not
strong, and the winds of the last month may have dislocated it. In
any case, he might have to wait a year, two, ten....
Occasionally he would redden with suppressed and turbulent energy.
But on the 17th of March, toward evening, England was visited by a
storm long remembered, lasting three days, during which the poor
prisoners were comforted with rations of hot soup and cocoa.
On the morning of the fourth day when the gangs were once more taken
out Hogarth was hardly conscious of frigid winds or agued limbs: for
three days the great bell of Colmoor had not rung; and his ears were
Of the prisoners, who, by practised instinct, get to know the moment
at which it should sound, three presently straightened up, spade in
hand, to glance at the prison: and suddenly heard--a sound.
A dull something somewhere--from the prison? unless it was some
shock of the wind...Hogarth gazed piteously into the faces near
him...No one seemed to have heard.
A few seconds, like eternities...Then he saw a warder look at his
watch; then--another! and--they glanced at the prison; and--they
approached each other; and--they laid whispering heads together.
Then--joy!--came five officers, wildly running from the prison
gates, calling, waving....
And now he knew, and smiled: the babble of that lalling tongue was
And the very next day, when the afternoon-gangs were marching out,
they saw descending from a carriage before the Deputy Governor's
house a gentleman with a roll of diagram-paper--a bell-foundry
expert, summoned by telegraph from Cardiff.
Hogarth resolved to act that night.
As soon as the cell-door clicked upon him, he commenced to work:
first took off his boots; then felt over the doorshelf for the
chloroform; wet his handkerchief with some of it: then inserted the
vials across the toes of his boots, which were a succession of
wrinkles, far too large; then put on the boots again.
He then lay on the floor, close to the low shelf; and, pressing the
handkerchief over his mouth and nose, breathed deep, knowing that in
four minutes, when he did not obey the order of "brooms out", his
cell would be opened.
As he sank deeper and deeper into dream, it was with a concentration
of his will upon one point--the handkerchief, which, if smelled by
anyone, would ruin all; and finally, as he drew the last gasp of
consciousness, he waved it languidly from him under the shelf; then,
with a sigh, was gone.
He had known that he must have about his body the unmistakable signs of
an abnormal condition in order to sleep a night in the infirmary--which
was what he wanted. And thither, when shakings and the bull's-eye had
sufficiently tested him, he was swung away, and the doctor's assistant
Hogarth's pupils were hurriedly examined, his heartbeat tested; and
the freshman frowned, smelling an odour which, in another place,
might have been chloroform, but here was pharyngitis; and he
muttered, "Digitalis, perhaps...."
From a table Hogarth was swung to a bed by two of those well-behaved
convicts who act as hospital-orderlies, and there two hours later
had all his wits about him, and a racking headache.
His first thought was his boots--expecting to find them under his
stretcher, and himself in flannels; but he had them still on, and
also his work-clothes, humanity to the sick in the first stages not
being in the Colmoor code.
He spent half an hour in stealthily tearing a square foot from his
shirt-tail; then, weary and sick, went to sleep.
When, soon after 3 A.M. his eyes again opened, all was still. He lay
in a long room, rather dim, in the midst of a row of stretchers
which were shut in by bars containing locks and gates, and on the
other side of the room a row of stretchers, shut in by bars. At a
table in the middle, on which were bottles, lint, graduated glasses,
sat a warder, with outstretched legs and fallen head: near him,
standing listless, a convict hospital-orderly, who continually edged
nearer the stove; and, half-way down the room, another.
Occasionally there were calls from the sick-beds--whispered shouts--
apologetic and stealthy, as of men guiltily conscious of the luxury
of being ill; but neither night-warder nor orderlies made undue
haste to hear these summonses. There was, beside, an octagonal
clock, which ticked excessively in the stillness, as though the
whole place belonged to it.
Hogarth took off his boots under his blanket, and from them took out
the vials; then, sitting up, commenced to call the warder, at the
same time wetting the torn piece of shirt with some of the fluid.
"All right, I'm coming--shut up!" said the warder, but did not come.
So Hogarth grew loud; and the warder, presently rousing his drowsy
bulk, unlocked the gate of that compartment, as Hogarth said to
himself: "Do it handy..."
And as the warder stooped, Hogarth clapped the rag upon his mouth
and nose. A struggle followed a muffled sob, both standing upright
now, till the warder began to paw the air, sank, toppled upon the
bed, whereupon Hogarth slipped into the blanket again, and called
out in the voice of the warder: "Come here, Barrows--see if this man
is dead ".
He had now drawn the warder over him, holding up his chest with one
arm, had also poured chloroform upon the rag, and when the convict-
orderly came, Hogarth, by means of a short struggle, had him asleep,
then seized the warder's truncheon and keys, and ran out in his
At that sight, the sick, the dying, the two rows of stretchers, were
up on elbow, gazing with grins. To the second convict-orderly who
came running to meet him Hogarth hissed: "Not a word--or I brain you
with this! If I tie your feet, you won't have to answer for
anything. Come along...."
He was an old fellow, and when he realized the impending truncheon,
the menace of Hogarth's eyes, and the silence of the warder, he
permitted himself to be dragged toward Hogarth's stretcher; and his
feet were quickly knotted in his own stockings.
Now again Hogarth ran: but not many steps, when he felt himself
tapped on the back, and, glancing in a horror of alarm, saw one of
the two patients who had occupied with him his cage of bars--a wiry,
long-faced Cockney shop-boy, who had had his ankle crushed by a rock
at the quarry.
"Are you off?" he asked.
"That's _my_ business--"
"No, you don't. Part, or I give the alarm".
"What is it? Do you want to come with me?"
"That's about it".
"But--your foot's sick, you fool".
"You'll carry me in your awms, as a father beareth his children...."
"You are cool! What are you in for?"
"Murder, my son-red, grim, gory murder!"
"Guilty, ya'as. What do _you_ think?"
"Then you may go to hell".
"_'Ell_ is it? I'm _there_: and if I linger longer loo in it, you
linger, too, swelp me Gawd!"
Hogarth was nonplussed.
"But the foot..."
"Never mind the _foot_. Foot's still good for a run. Do we go
"Come along, then".
"But you ain't 'alf up to snuff, I can see, though you are pretty
smart in your own way: I'd 'ave felt the confidence of a son in you,
if you 'adn't overlooked that wine--"
To Hogarth's dismay, he turned back to the table, put a black
bottle, half full, to his lips, and with tilts anc stoppages set to
gulp it, while eager jokes, touched with jealousy, began to jeer
from the beds.
"Lawd Gawd, that was good!" said the Cockney with upturned eyes,
"and what do I behold?--broth, ye gawds!"
Now a saucepan of cold broth was at his lips; and not till he had
drunk all did he run after Hogarth into the other arm of the ward,
where one of the keys unlocked the door at its end, and they passed
out into the infirmary exercise-hall, now dark, Hogarth dragging the
Cockney, who limped, and kept up a prattle of tipsy ribaldries.
Then, emerging upon a platform of slabs, from which the jump into
the infirmary exercise-yard is twenty feet, Hogarth leapt. The
Cockney stood hesitating on the brink.
"As sure as my name's 'Arris, you'll be the bloomin' ruin of me..."
he said aloud.
"_Sh-h-h_", went Hogarth, "one more word, and I leave or knock you
Now at last Harris jumped, Hogarth catching him, and they ran across
the yard northerly, Harris complaining of cold, being in hospital
flannels, his feet bare, Hogarth bitterly regretting the burden of
this companion, meditating on deserting him. Accordingly, when they
had run down a passage, and were confronted by a great gate, spiked
a-top, Hogarth said: "I'll get up first", and, forcing the small end
of the truncheon into the space at the hinges, he got foot-hold from
which he caught the top hinge and scaled, a feat of which he
considered Harris incapable; and, instead of helping him up, leapt
down with a new feeling of lightness, hearing from the other side
Again he ran through dark night wild with winds wheeling snowflakes;
and, seeing in the unpaved court in which he now was a clothes-line
supported on stakes, he seized both, to run with them to where the
court is bounded by the great outer wall: for though it is thirty
feet of sheer rock, the mere fact of stakes being found there, and
of a vanished rope, would furnish grounds for the belief that he had
scaled it: he therefore leant the stakes against it, and kept the
About to turn, he felt his back touched; and, spinning round, saw
"There's a friend that sticketh closer than any bloomin' brother,
Mr. 76", Harris said. "Try that game on again, and I give myself up;
and where will _you_ be then?"
"You silly wretch!" said Hogarth: "before I am free, there'll be a
hundred difficulties and pains. Are you prepared to undergo them?
You couldn't, if you tried".
"Bear ye one another's burdens, it _is_", said Harris: "with thee by
me what need I fear? Lawd Gawd, that wine was good! it's got into my
poor 'ead, I believe. On, general; where thou leadest, I will
Hogarth looked at him, half inclined to knock him down, and half to
shelter, and save.
"All right", said he. "Can you climb?"
"Climb, yes, like a bag of monkeys".
He mounted three low steps before four doors at the north end of the
infirmary buildings, where, as he had observed from the moor, a
spout runs up the wall at its east end; and up this he began to
"'Old on!" called Harris: "I can't do that lot".
Harris made three attempts before he reached the first footrest, and
there stuck, vowing in loud whispers that he would no further go,
and Hogarth had to come back, and encourage him up. Finally, they
went running southward on the leads between the infirmary roof and
its coping, and had hardly reached the south end when a whistle
shrilled, and they saw a warder run across the exercise-yard with a
"Stoop!" whispered Hogarth.
Crouching, they stole along the south coping, and thence dropped to
a flat cistern-top, Hogarth, with a painful "_Sh-h-h_", catching
Harris as he fell, for the signs of alarm and activity every moment
Up a series of little brick steps, the base of a chimney over the
kitchen--then across another stretch of leads beneath which is the
tailor's shop--then, stealing in shadow under the beams of
overhanging eaves by a garret window, behind which was a light, and
someone moving--then a spring of three feet between two cornices--
then a running walk at a height of a hundred feet along a beading
four inches wide, holding on with the upstretched arms--then, with
course changed from south to east, along more leads--then a climb of
ten feet up a glazed main--and now they were skulking behind the
coping of the great No. 2 prison.
Now, contiguous with the back of the bath-house is a wall which runs
from No. 2 prison to the bell-tower, dividing the bath-house yard
from the bell-yard; but the top is not horizontal, being lower at
the bell-tower end, neither is it broad, and to reach it from the
prison coping a drop of seven feet is necessary: this Harris refused
to do. "Not for Joe", said he: "I've already run my 'ead into enough
perils by land and sea on your account. If this is what you've
brought me out moonlighting here for...."
Hogarth did not wait, but disappeared over the side: and Harris,
after five minutes' pleadings, followed. They then drew on the belly
to the bell-tower; and here again Harris refused the leap to the
conductor. When finally he dared, and Hogarth sought to steady him,
as he came sprawling upon the rod, both went gliding down, till
checked by a staple.
But they climbed again; Hogarth undid the half-fused string of tin
from the conductor, swung to the laundry coping, caught Harris,
leapt to the window, drew up Harris; and was ensconced far up among
the beams in thick darkness in the belfry an hour before daybreak.
At this time the great gates were open, and the moor being scoured
for the two.
IN THE DEEP
They had not been ten minutes in the tower when Harris began to
whine of the cold; whereupon Hogarth took off his slop-jacket and
waistcoat, and put them upon the Cockney.
As from two sound-escapes far down near the bell some twilight came
in, near eight Hogarth descended, working from beam to beam, to find
that on one side the bell-metal had been melted into a lumpish mass,
its rim shrivelled up, leaving an empty space under the motto
_Laudate Domino_ (mistake for _Dominum_) _omnes gentes_; and on the
opposite side ran a crack from top to rim. Sliding still lower on a
slanting beam, he could look obliquely upward into the bell's
interior, and see the clapper, a mass weighing eight hundredweight,
and so long, that quite down at the bell's rim were two hollows
where it had constantly struck. It, too, had been blasted; but the
bell-rope hung intact from a short beam at right angles to the swing
beam; and, having found this much, he searched where he had left the
bottom of his tin can, and clambered back with it into the upper
About eleven, lying along two beams, they could see the portal below
opened, and four men came in, looking unreal and small; whereupon
the leverage wheel was pulled, the swing-beam swung, the bell struck
the clapper, and throughout the tower growled grum sounds: after
which the four stood talking half an hour, and went away.
A little later--it must have been after the forty minutes' dinner-
interval--about twenty convicts entered with two warders, bearing
three ladders. When these had been fastened together and set up, and
the leverage wheel removed, they went away.
It was evidently to be slow work. Not till about four did a solitary
man mount the ladder, and take stand, far down under the bell,
gazing up a long while, with stoops, and changes of posture. Hogarth
thought that it was the bell-foundry expert whom he had seen; but
could only guess: for all here was dim and remote.
By now he had sawed the clothes-line into two pieces with the tin,
one piece eight feet, the other much longer--had intended tearing
his clothes into strips for ropes, but the clothes-line was still
better. In both ropes he made knots for hand-hold, a large knot at
one end of the short one, and he attached the string of tin to the
other end. Descending now, he tied the longer rope round the
swingbeam, let himself down to the rim of the bell, and with the
right hand pushed the tin into the hole in which the clapper swung,
reaching up, until the tin over-balanced, ran, and toppled down
beside the clapper; drawing the tin now, he brought the rope down
till it was stopped by the knot; and now, by a swing off from rope
to rope, could climb into the bell. He then reascended, taking the
longer rope, and the tin, with him.
As night fell, he judged that by the next he would succumb. Happily,
Harris, who had eaten later than he, was snoring in a nook; but
toward morning began to whine again, and sulk, and kept it up all
the day. Not a soul now entered, and as the blackness of night once
more filled the place, Harris threw up the sponge, with "Here goes
for this child....!" Hogarth flew across the space which divided
them, and a quarrel of cats ensued, both being under the influence
of the fury called "hunger-madness". It was only when Harris felt
the grip of Hogarth at his windpipe that he squealed submission,
whereupon Hogarth threw himself away; and half the night they sat,
nothing but four eyes, eyeing each other.
That night what was a revival of the great gale took place, belling
like bucks about their heads, and noising through the tower in many
a voice. This so increased their sense of desolation, that even the
heart of Hogarth fainted, they like castaways on some ocean whose
glooms no sunrise ever goldens; and now a doubt arose whether, even
if the bell were removed on the morrow, Harris would have strength
to cling on during the descent.
However, early the next day hope revived when five men entered, four
mounting among the beams to the swing-beam with tools, one at the
ladder-head shouting up orders; and Hogarth, when they had gone,
whispered Harris: "They have been unscrewing the sockets in which
the bell-beam swings".
"Let them unscrew away", said Harris, his chin shivering on his
Five more hours; during which only once did three men enter, seeming
to do nothing but talk, with upward glances.
But at three it was evident that there was considerable to-do,
though above there the row of the winds drowned all sound. A crowd,
chiefly of convicts, passed in and out; then twelve men, one after
the other, ran up the ladder, and thence climbed among the beams,
with six cables. Half went to the east, half to the west, side of
the bell; and three of the cables were fastened round the swing-beam
near one end, three near the other end; one three were then cast
over a beam higher than the swing-beam, to the north of it; the
other three cast over a beam to the south of it; and the six ends
lowered--operations which Hogarth, lying on his face, could just
see; and the twelve had hardly begun to descend, when he saw a lorry
backed into the gateway, filling half 1 the area of the tower;
whereupon over a hundred convicts were swarming over and round it.
"Now", said Hogarth; and he hurried down, tacking his way with
slides and runs among the intricate beams, tied the rope to a beam
above the swing-beam, and let himself down to the bell's rim;
reached out then, caught the knotted rope that was within the bell,
and climbed, the clapper now so rough, that hand and knee found
grip; and he spent a minute in estimating his power of holding on
with one arm, and with both, to its support-shaft.
And now he whispered Harris, and caught and half-sustained the
Now they could hear echoes of the tongues below; and now Harris,
clinging alternate with Hogarth, arms and legs, face to face, by
rope and shaft and clapper, whispered: "But-good Lord-look 'ere-
there are some people coming up!"
Four convicts were indeed climbing: but even directly beneath the
bell, where it was impossible to come, they would hardly have
distinguished the forms huddled in its dark cavern, and their aim
was higher, to stand ready, when the beam should lift, to swing it
diagonally across the square of beams which had supported it, so
that it might find space to descend. And soon the bell-beam stirred
at the tightening ropes: the fugitives felt themselves swinging,
They were dizzily aware of shouted orders, the creaking of the
toiling, slipping ropes, little jolts and stoppages, two hundred
eyes blinking up, not seeing their cringed-up limbs--unnecessary
cautious: for the nearer they descended to-ward the half-light, the
surer did the area of the lorry make their invisibility. At last
they were near; the bell lingered, swinging; babel was around them;
the Governor's voice; a cheer: the bell was on the lorry.
Someone struck the bell with a hammer, there was talk, swarmings
round it, then shoulders pushed at the lorry wheels, which squealed
and moved amid a still fussier babel drawn by four horses, and seven
yoke of cattle. The fugitives could hear the opening of the great
gate, the laborious exit, and, in a moment's pause, again the
Governor talking, it seemed far off, to the expert....
Wearily creaked the cart--beyond the moor--to a country road.
Now chattering words came from Harris: "All damned fine! I don't
deny that you know your way about--"
"Way out", said Hogarth.
"Yes, a gamesome sort of cock you are in all weathers...but what
"'Next' is to fall upon your knees and worship me, you cur".
"Thou shalt worship the Lawd thy Gawd", chattered Harris; "no
bloomin' fear! This is only a new kind of punishment cell. You've
got me in; 'ow are you going to get me out?"
Hogarth believed that the lorry was _en route_ for the railway, and
hoped to escape in the transfer of the bell; but that night lorry
and bell slept in a shed outside a village _en route_ for the sea.
At four A.M. they were again _en route_, and at intervals during the
day, opening their now feeble and sleep-infected eyes, could hear
the hoots of the two cattlemen, the sound of winds, the rowdy gait
of the crooked-legged oxen, and stoppages for drink or rest, and
anon an obstruction, with shouting and fuss. It was night before the
waggon came to rest on a jetty, the elaborate day's journey done.
The fugitives were then deep in sleep, and only awoke at the rattle
of a steam-crane in action above them, to find the bell beginning to
tilt, lift and swing; then they were on a deck; and soon afterwards
knew that it was a steamer's, when they heard the bray of her
whistle, and presently were aware of blaring winds, and billows of
Harris was for then and there crying out, but Hogarth, now his
master, said: "To-morrow morning"; and they fell again into their
When they again awoke, uproar surrounded them, voices, a heaven-high
shouting of quenched fires and screaming steams; moreover, the bell
was leaning steeply, they two huddled together at its edge.
Harris began to bellow: but he was not heard, or not heeded....
There had been a collision.
"If you can't swim, better catch hold of me", Hogarth shouted--
"there will be--"
But the earth turned turtle, and Hogarth felt himself struck on the
shoulder, flung, and dragged down, down, into darkness.
After an upward climb and fight to slip the clutch of the ship's
suction, in the middle of a heavy sea he managed to get off his
clothes, and set to swimming, whither he did not know, a toy on
mountains of water.
Exultation raged in him--a crazy intoxication--at liberation
attained, at the sensation of warmth, at all that water and waste of
But within ten minutes it is finished: he shivers, his false
strength changing to paltriness, the waves washing now over his
head; and now he is drowsing...drowning...
He continued, however, to swim after his conscious efforts ceased:
for his body was found next morning on a strip of Cornish sand
between Gorran and Mevagissey, washed by every sheet of surf.
His rescuer, a shrimp-fisher, occupied one of three cots perched on
a ravine; and there on the evening of the second day he opened his
eyes on a settee, four children screaming in play around him; he so
far having been seen only by a reporter from Mevagissey, and the
doctor from Gorran, who, on his wide rounds, had been asked into the
The same night Hogarth spoke to the fisher: told him that he was not
a wrecked sailor, had reasons for avoiding observation, and would
pay for shelter and silence: whereat the fisher, who was drinking
hot beer, winked, and promised; and the next day took for Hogarth a
telegram, signed "Elm Tree", to Mevagissey, asking of Loveday five
Finally, one midnight, after two weeks of skulking, he reached
Whitechapel, where, the fact of his brown skin now giving him the
idea of orientalizing himself, at a Jew's, in a little interior
behind the counter, he bought sandals, a caftan, a black sudayree,
an old Bagdad shawl for girdle, and a greenish-yellow Bedouin head-
cloth, or kefie, which banded the forehead, draped the face like a
nun's wimple, and fell loose. For these he discarded the shrimp-
man's clothes; and now dubbed himself "Peter the Hermit".
For he meant to start-a Crusade.
At a police-station on the third day he saw a description of
himself: three moles, bloodshot eye, white teeth, pouting mouth; but
over the moles now hung the head-cloth.
For several days he lay low in a garret, considering himself,
abandoning himself to sensuality in cocoa, vast buns, tobacco:
rioting above all in the thought of the secret truth which lay in
Up to now, not a word to anyone about it; but on the seventh night
It was in some "Cocoa Rooms" in a "first-class room", strewn with
sawdust, where, as he sat alone, another man, bearing his jug, came
and sat; and soon he addressed Hogarth.
"I am an Englishman", answered Hogarth.
"What, in those togs? What countryman?"
"I was there one day".
"Difference between Manchester and London, isn't there? I am a
Manchester man, I am. All the difference in the world. This cold,
stiff, selfish city. Londoners, eh? A lot of peripatetic
And so he went on; this being his whole theory of God and Man: that
Londoners are peripatetic tombstones, but Manchester-men just the
other way--seemed a mechanic, brisk-eyed, small; a man who had read;
but now, evidently, down on his luck.
"Then, why come to London?"--from Hogarth.
"Looking for work",--with a shrug--"looking for a needle in a bundle
of hay. What would you have? the whole place overrun with Jews.
England no longer belongs to the English, that's the long and short
Hogarth looked him in the face. "Did England belong to the English
before the Jews came?"
"How do you mean? Of course it did".
"Which part of it?"
"Why, all of it".
"But fix your mind upon some particular piece of England--some
street, or field, that you know--and then tell me: did that belong
to the English?"
"Belonged to some Englishman".
"But you don't mean to say that some Englishman is the English?"
"Ah, yes, I know what you are driving at", said the mechanic, with a
patronizing nod: "but the point is this: that, apart from vague
theorizing, a man did manage to make a good living before these dogs
overran the country".
"But--a _good_ living? How much did you make?--forty shillings a
week? toiling in grime six days, sleeping the seventh? I call that a
"Well, I _don't_, you see. Besides, I made, not forty, but forty-
_five_ shillings, under the sliding-scale".
"Yes, but no brave nation would submit one day to such petty
squalors after it was shown the way to escape them".
"There _is_ no way", said the mechanic: "there are the books, and
the talkers; but the economic laws that govern the units like you
and me are as relentless as gravitation. Don't believe anyone who
talks to you about 'ways of escape'".
"But suppose someone has a new thought?"
"There can be no new thoughts about _that_. The question has long
since been exhausted".
"Well, come "--with sudden decision--"I will tell you a thought of
my own ". And he told.
If the English people paid the rent for England to themselves--to
their government--instead of to a few Englishmen, then, by one day's
labour in six, Englishmen would be much more rich in all things than
a fisherman, by one day's labour in six, was rich in fish.
The expression which he awaited on the face before him was one of
illuminated astonishment; but, with a chill in his nerves, he saw
the workman's lips curve.
"Bah!" said the Manchester man, "that is an exploded theory!"
Hogarth was rather pale.
Yet he knew that it was true....Who, then, could have been
exploding the Almighty?
"Who has exploded it?"
"Been exploded again and again!" said the Manchester man; "of all
the theories of land-tenure, that is about the weakest: _I_ should
know, for I've studied them all. The fact is, no change in the
system of land-tenure will have the least effect upon the lot of the
masses; would only make things worse by unsettling the country--if
it didn't mean a civil war".
"I begin to see".
Hogarth got up, walked home meditating: and suddenly blushed.
It was known! by mechanics in cocoa-rooms!--that secret thing of
his secret cell. And it was not believed!
As for him, what was he now doing outside Colmoor? That question he
asked himself, as he sat unsandaling his feet; and he commenced to
dress himself again: but paused--would first see Loveday.
Accordingly, the next night, the two friends met at Cheyne Gardens.
And a long time they sat silent, Loveday feeding his eyes upon his
friend's face, that hard, rounded brow which seemed harder, and
frowned now, that gallant largeness of eye which seemed now wilder,
and that manly height, which seemed Mahomet's in the Oriental dress.
"But where have you been for five weeks?" asked Loveday.
"Skulking, and thinking. But about my sister...."
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