Chapter 1385679

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Chapter NumberBOOK III XIX
Chapter TitleTHE CONSOLATIONS OF RELIGION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1385679
Full Date1875-12-11
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count5912
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)
Trove TitleHis Natural Life
article text

Bis Natural Lire."

By Marcus Clarke.

BOOK III.

Chapter XIX,

Tnr. CONSOLATIONS OP RELIGION.

" AVELL, my good man," says Meekin, sooth iBRly " s0 J011 wau*e(l *° scu me-"

"1 asked for the chaplain," says Rufus Dawes, his anger with hirr self growing apace.

" I am tho chaplain," returned Meekin, with dignity, os who should say?" none of your brandy-drinking, pea-jacketted Norths, but a Respectable chaplain who is the friend of a

Bishop I"

"I thought that Mr. North was-"

" Mr. North has left, Bir," said Meekin, drily, " but I will hear what you have to say. There is no occasion to go, constable j wait outside tho

Rufus Dawes shifted himself on the wooden bench, and resting his scarcely-healed back against the wall, smiled bitterly. " Don't bo afraid, sir; I'm not going to harm you," ho said. " I only wanted to talk a little."

"Do you read your Bible, Dawes ?" asked Meekin, by way of reply. " It would be better to read your Bible than to talk, I think. You must humble yourself in prayer, Dawes."

" I have read it," says Dawes, still lying back and watching him.

" But is your mind softened hy its teachings I Do you realise the Infinite Mercy of God, who has compassion, Dawes, upon the greatest sin- ners." The convict made a movement of im- patience. The old sickening, barren cant of ^ Diety was to be recommenced then. . Ho came

, asking for bread, aud they gave him the usual

¦tone.

"Do you believe that there ia a God, Mr.

Meekin 1"

" Abandoned sinner! Do you insult a clergy- man by Buch a question !"

" Bocause I think sometimes that, if there is, He niuflt be often dissatisfied at the way things aro done here," said Dawes, half to himself.

" I can listen to no mutinous observations, prisoner," says Meekin. "Donut add blasphemy to your other crimes. I fear that all conversa- tion with you, in your present frame of mind, would be worae than useless. I will mark a few passages in your Bible, that seem to me appro- priate to your condition, and beg you to commit them to memory. Hailes, the door, if you please."

So, with a how, the " consoler " departed.

Rufus Dawes felt his heart grow sick. North had gone, then. The only man who had seemed to have a heart in his bosom had gone. The only man who had dared to clasp his horny aud blood-stained hand, and call him " brother," had gone, Turning hiB head, ho saw through tho window?wide open and unbarred, for Nature, at Port Arthur, had no need of bars?the lovely bay, smooth ns glass, glittering in the afternoon sun, tho long quay, spotted with groups of parti- colored chain-gangs, and heard, mingling with the soft murmur of tho waves, and the gentle rustling of the trees, the never-ceasing clashing of irons, and eternal click of hammers. AVas he to bo for ever buried in this whited sepulchre, nhut out from the face of Heaven aud mankind ?

Tho appearance of Hailes bioko his reverie. "Here's a book for yon," said he, with a grin.

"Parson sent it."

Rufus Dawes took tho Bible, and placing it on his knee, turned to the places indicated by slips of paper. There were some three or four of thojo slips of paper, embracing some twenty

marked texts.

"Parson says he'll como and hear you to morrer, and you're to keep the book clean."

"Keep thc book clean I" and "hear him I" Did Meekin think that ho was a charity school boy I Tho utter incapacity of the chaplain to understand his wants was so sublime that it was nearly ridiculous enough to make him laugh. Ho turned his eyes downwards to the texts. Good Meekin, in tho fullness of his stupidity, had lelectod the fiercest denunciations of bard and priest. Tile most notablo of tho Psalmist's curses upon his enemies, tho most furious of Isaiah'B ravings anent tho forgetfulness of tho national worship, the most terrible thunderings of apostle and evangelist against idolatry aud unbelief, wore grouped together and presented to Dawes to soothe him. All tho material horrors of Mcekin's faith?stripped by force of dissociation from the contoxt, of all poetic feel- ing and local coloring?were launched at tho suffering sinner by Meekin's ignorant hand. Tho miserable man, seeking for consolation and peace, turned over the leaves of tho Bible, only to find himself threatened with "the pains of hell," " the never-dying worm," " the unquenchable fire ;" tho bubbling of brimstone, the "bottom- less pit," from out of which the " smoko of his torment" Bhould ascend for ever aud over. Before his eyes was held no image of a tender Saviour (with huuds soft to soothe, and eyes brimming with iuefl'ablo pity) dying crucified that ho and other malefactors might have hope, by thinking on such marvellous humanity. The worthy Pharisee who was sent to him to teach him how mankind is to be redeemed with love, preached only that harsh Law whose barbarous power died with the gentlo Nazarene on Calvary.

Repelled by this unlooked for ending to his hopes, he let the book fall to the ground. " Is there, then, nothing but torment for mo in this world or tho next?" ho groaned, shuddering. Presently his eyes sought his right hand, resting upon it as though it wero not his own, or had lome secret virtue which made it different from the other. "Ile would would not have douo thia ? Mc would not have thrust upon mo theso ravage judgments, these dreadful threats of hell and death. He called mo ' Brother !' " And filled with a strange wild pity for himself, and yearning love towards the mau who befriended him, ho fell to nursing tho hand on which North's tears had fallen, moaning, and rocking

himself to and fro.

Good Meekin, coming in the morning, found his pupil more Bullen than ever.

" Have you learnt these texts, my man ?" said he, cheerfully, willing not to be angered with his uncouth and unpromising convert.

Rufus DaweB pointed with his foot to the Bible, which still lay on tho floor as he had left it the night before. " No I"

" No I AVby not ?"

" I would learn no such words as those. I would rather forget them."

" Forget them ! My good man, I-"

Rufus Dawes Bprang up in sudden wrath, and pointing to his cell door with a gesture that? chained and degraded as he was?had something of dignity in it, cried," What do you know about the feelings of Buch as I ? Take your book and yourself nway ! AA'hen I asked for a priest Iliad no thought of you. Begone I"

Meekin, despite the halo of sanctity which ho felt should surround him, found his gentility melt all of n sudden. Adventitious distinctions had disappeared for tho instant. The pair hail become simply man and man, and the sleek priest-master quailing before the outraged man- hood of the convict-penitent, picked up his Bible and backed unseemly out.

" Tint man Dawes ia very insolent," said to Burgess the insulted chaplain. " Ho waB brutal to mc to-day?quite brutal."

"Was he?" says Burgess. "Had toolong a 'Pell, I expect. I'll Bend him back to work to-

morrow."

"It would bc well,"Baid gentle Meekin, "if be had Borne employment."

Chapter XX.

"a NATURAL PENITENTIARY."

The "employment" at Port Arthur consisted chiefly of agriculture, ship-building, and tanning. Dawes, who was in the chain-gang, was put to chain-gang labor ; that is to say, bringing down logi from the forest, or "lumbering" timber on the wharf. This work was not light An in- genious calculator has discovered that the pressure of the log upon the shoulder was wont ta average 1251bs. Members of the chain-gang ¦"¦ere dresBed in yellow, and?by way of en- couraging the others?had the word_ "Felon" 'tamped upon conspicuous parts of their raiment.

This was the sort of lifo Rufus Dawes led. In

the Bummer time he roBe at half-past five in the morning, and worked until six in the evening, getting three quarters of an hour for breakfast, and one hour for dinner. Once a week he had a clean shirt, and once a fortnight clean Bocks. If *"> felt eick, he was permitted to "report his i-«*e to the medical officer." If he wanted to

TjHte a letter, he could ask permission of tho Commandant, and send the letter, open, through that Almighty Officer, who could stop it if he thought necessary. If he felt himself aggrieved

* Tim copyright of " llb Natural Life" Inn b«n pur "usod bj- die proprietor! of Thc Quamlanier from Air. M&ttm Clark*;

by any order, he wm " to obey it instantly," but might complain "afterwards, if ho thought fit, to the Commandant." In making any complaint against an officer or constable, it was strictly ordered that a prisoner " must be most respectful in his manner and language, when spcakingof or to such officer or constable." He was held respon- sible only for tho safety of his chains, and for the rest was at tho mercy of his gaoler. These gaolers?owning right of search, entry into cells ut all hours, and other droita of seigneury?were responsible only to the Commandant, who was responsible only to the Governor, that is to say, to nobody bul God aud his own conscience. The jurisdiction of tho Commandant included the whole of Tasman's Peninsula, willi the islands and waters within three miles thereof ; and, save tho" making of certain ruturus to head- quarters, his power was unlimited.

A word as to tho position and appearance of this place of punishment. Tasman's Peninsula is, as we have said before, in the form of an earring with a double drop. The lower drop is the larger, and is ornamented, so to speak, with bays. At its southern extremity is a deep indentation edled Maingon Bay, bounded east and west by the organ-pipe rocks of Cape Raoul, and the giant form of Capo Pillar. From Maingon Bay au arm of tho ocean cleaves the rocky walls in a northerly direction. On the western coast of this Bea-arm was tho settlement; in front of it was a little island where tho dead were buried, called The Island of the Dead, Ere tho in-coming convict passed thc purple beauty of this convict Golgotha, his eyes were attracted by a point of gray rock covered with white buildings and swarming with life. This was Point Puer, the place of confinement for boys from eight to twenty years of ago. It was astonishing?many honest folks averred?how ungrateful were these juvenile convicts for the goods the Government had provided for them. From the extremity of Long Bay, as the extension of the sea-arm was named, a convict-made tram road ran due north through tho nearly impoue trable thicket to Norfolk Bay. In tho month of Norfolk Bay waa AVoody Island. This was used as a signal station, and au armed boat's crew was stationed there. To the north of Woody Island lay One-tree Point?the southernmost projection of the drop of the earring ; and tho sea that ran between narrowed to tho eastward, until it struck on tho sandy bar of Eaglehawk-Neek. Euglehawk-Neck was the link that connected the two drops of the earring. It was a strip of sand four hundred and fifty yards across. On its eastern side the blue waters of Pirates' Bay, that is to say, of the Southern Ocean, poured their uuchecked force. Tho isthmus itself emerged from a wild aud terrible coast-line, into whose bowels tho ravenous sea had bored strange caverns, resonnutwith perpetual roar of tortured billows. At ono spot iii this wilderness tho ocean had penetrated the wall of rock for two hundred feet, and in stormy weather tho salt spray rose through a. perpendicular shaft of more than five hundred feet deep. Thia place was called the Devil's Blow-hole. The upper drop of tho earring was named Forrester's Peninsula, and was joined to tho mainland by another isi,hmus called East Bay Neck. Forrester's Peninsula was an almost impenetrable thicket growing to the brink of a perpendicular dill' of basalt.

Eaglehawk-Neck was the door to tho prison, and it was kept bolted. On the narrow strip of land was built a guard-house, whero soldiers from the barrack on the mainland relieved each other night and day ; and on stages, set out in tho water on cither side, watch-dogs were chained. The station officer was charged " to pay especial attention to tho feeding nnd care" of these useful beasts, being ordered " to report to the Commandant whenever any one of them became useless." It may be added that the Bay was not innocent of sharks. AVestward from Eaglehawk-Neck and AAToody Island lay tho dreaded Coal Mines. Sixty ol' the "marked men" were stationed here under a strong guard. At the Coal Mines was the northernmost of that ingenious series of semaphores which rendered escape almost impossible. Tho wild and mountainous character of tho peninsula offered peculiar advantages to tho signnlmen. On tho summit of tho hill which overlooked the guard tower of the settlement was a gigantic gum-tree stump, upon tho top of which was placed a semaphore This semaphore communicated with the two wings of the prison?Eaglehawk-Neck and the Coal Mines?by sending a line of signals right across tho peninsula. Thus tho settlement communicated with Mount Arthur, Mount Arthur with One-tree Hill, One-tree Hill with Mount Communication, and Mount Communi- cation with tho Coal Mines. On the other side, the signals would run thus?tho Bcttlsment to Sigual Hill, Signal Hill to AVoody Island, AA'oody Inland to Eaglehawk. Did a prisoner escape from the Coal .Alines, the guard at Eaglehawk Neck could bo aroused, and tho whole island informed of the "bolt" in less than twenty minutes. AVith these advantages of nature and art, the prison was held to bo the most secure in the world. Colonel Arthur reported to the Home Government that the spot which bore his name was a " natural penitentiary." The worthy disciplinarian probably took as a personal com- pliment tho polito forethought of the Almighty, in thus considerately providing for the carrying out of tho celebrated " Regulations for Convict Discipline."

Chapter XXL

A VISIT OP INSPECTION.

ONE afternoon the ever-active semaphores transmitted a piece of intelligence which set the peninsula agog. Captain Frere, having arrived from head-quarters with orders to hold an enquiry into the death of Kirkland, was not unlikely to mako a progress through the stations, and it behoved the keepers of thc Natural Peni- tentiary to produce their Penitents in good case. Burgess was in high spirits at finding so con- genial a soul Eclected for the task of reporting upon him.

"It's only a nominal thing, old man," Frero said to Iub old comrade, when they met. " That parson has made meddling, aud they wunt to

close his mouth."

" I am only glad to havo the opportunity of showing you and Mrs. Frere tho place," returned Burgess. "I muBt try and mako your Btay as pleasant as I can, though I'm afraid that MrB. Frere will not find much to amuse her."

" Frankly, Captain Burgess," said Sylvia, " I would rather have gone Btraiglit to Sydney. My husband, however, was obliged to come, and, of course, I accompanied him."

"You will not have much Boeiety," said Meekin, who, necessarily, was one of thc wel- coming party. "Mrs. Datchett, tho wife of one of our stipendiaries, is the only lady here, and I hopo to have the pleasure of making you acquainted with her this evening at thc Com- mandant's. Mr. McNab, whom you know, is in command at the Neck, and cannot leave very well, or you would have seen him."

" I have planned a little party," said Burgess, ( " but I fear that it will not be aa successful as I could wish."

"You wretched old bachelor," says Frere, " you should get married, like me."

"AhI" snidBurgess, with a bow, "that would

be difficult."

Sylvia was compeUed to smilo at the compli- ment, mado in tho presence of some twenty prisoners, who were carrying the variouB trunks and packages up the hiU, and remarked that the said prisoners grinned?so to speak?with their eyes nt the Commandant's clumsy courtesy. " I don't like Captain Burgess, Maurice," she said, in the interval before dinner. " I dare say he did flog that poor fellow to death. He looks as if he

could do it."

" NonsenBO!" says Maurice, pettishly. " He's a good fellow enough. Besides, I've seen the doctor's certificate. It's all a trumped-up story. I can't understand your absurd sympathy with prisoners."

"Don't they sometimes deserve sympathyV

"No, certainly not?a set of lying scoundrels. You are always whining ovrrtbem, Sylvia, I don't like it, and I've told you before about it," Sylvia Baid nothing. Maurice was often guilty of these small brutalities, and she bad learnt that the best way to meet them was by Bilenco. Unfortunately, silence did not mean indifference, for the reproof wa3 unjust, and nothing stings a woman's finer Bense like an injustice.

Burgess had prepared a feast, and the " Society" of Port Arthur waa present. Father Flaherty, the Reverend Meekin, Doctor Mackie wain, and Mr. and Mrs. Datchett had been invited, and the dining-room was resplendent with glass and flowers.

"I've a fellow who was a professional gardener," said Burgess to Sylvia during the dinner, "and I make use of his talents."

"We have a professional artist also," said

Macklowain, with a sort.of pride. "That picture of the ' Prisoner of Chillon' yonder was painted by him. A very meritorious production, is

it not 1"

" I've got the place full of curiosities," said Burgess ; " quite a collection. I'll show them to you to-morrow. Those napkin rings were made by a prisouer."

"Ah!" cries Frere, taking up the daintily carved bone, "very neat I"

"That is some of Rex's handiwork," said Meekin. " He is very clever at these trifles. He made me a paper-cutter that was really a work

of art."

" AVo will go down to the Neck to-morrow or next day, Mrs. Frere," said Burgess, "and you shall see the Blow-hole, lt is a curious place."

"Is it far?" asked Sylvia.

" Oh no ! AA'e shall go in the train."

"Thc train 1"

" A'es?don't look bo astonished. You'll seo it to-morrow. Oh, you Hobart Town ladies don't

know what we can do herc."

"AVhat about this Kirkland business?" Frere asked. " I suppose I can have half-an-hour with you in the morning, and take tho depositions ?"

"Any time you like, my dear fellow," says Burgess. " It's all the same to me."

" / don't want to make more fuss than I can help," Frere said apologetically?the dinner had been good?"but 1 must send these people up a 'full, true, and particular,' don't you know."

"Of course," cried Burgess, with friendly nonchalance. " That's all right. 1 want Mrs.

Frere to see Point Puer."

" Where the boys arel" asked Sylvia.

"Exactly. Nearly three hundred of 'em. AAVU go down to-morrow, and you shall be my witness, Mrs. Frere, as to the way they are

treated."

"Indeed," said Sylvia, protesting, "I would rather not. I?I don't take th* interest in theso things that I ought, perhaps. They ara very

dreadful to me."

"Nonsense I" cries bluff Frere, with a scowl. "AAVU come, Burgoss, of course."

So the next two days were devoted to light seeing. Sylvia was taken through the Hospital aud the AVorkshops, shawn the semaphores, and shut up, by laughing Maurice, in a " dark coll." Her husband and Burgess seemed to regard the prison as some tame animal, whom they could handle at their leisure, and whoso natural ferocity was kept in check by their superior intelligence. This bringing of a young and pretty woman into immediate contact with bolts and bars had about it an incongruity which pleased them. Maurico penetrated everywhere, questioned the prisoners, jested with tho jailers, even, in the munificeneo of his heart, bestowed

tobacco on tho sick.

AVith such grateful rattlings of dry bones, they got by-aud-by to Point Puer, where a luncheon had been provided.

An unlucky accident had occurred at Point Puer that morning, however, and the place was in a suppressed ferment. A refractory little thief named Peter Brown aged twolve years, had jumped off the high rock and drowned himsalf in full view of the constables. These " jumping! off" had become rather frequent lately, and Burgess was enraged at one happening on this particular day of all days. If ho could by any possibility have brought the corpso of poor little Peter Brown to lifo again, he would have soundly whipped it for its impertinence.

" lt is most unfortunate," he said to Frcro, as they stood in the coll whore the little body waa laid, " that it should have happened to-day,"

"Oh," says Frere, fi owning down upon the young face that seemed to smile at him. " lt can't bo helped. 1 know thoee young devila. They'll do it out of spite. AVhat Bort of a

character had he ("

"Very bail.?Johnson, the book."

Johnson bringing it, the two «aw Peter Brown's] iniquities set down in the neatest of running hand, and thc record of his punishments ornamented in quito an artistic way with

flourishes of red ink.

"20th November, disorderly conduct, 121ashes. 24th November, insoleuco to hospital attendant, diet reduced. 4th December, stealing cap from another prisoner, 12 lashes. 15th December, absenting himself at roll call, two days' colls. 23rd December, insolence and insubordination, two days' cells. 8lh January, insolenoo and insubordination, 12 lashes. 20th January, juno leuce and insubordination, 12 lashes. 22nd February, insolence and insubordination, 12 lashes and ono week's solitary. 6th March, insolence and insubordination, 20 lashes."

"That was thc last!" asked Frere. " Yes, sir," Bays Johnson.

"And then he?hum?did it I"

"Just so, sir. That was the way of it."

Just so ! Tho magnificent System starved and tortured a child of twelve until he killed hiuiBelf. That was tho way of it.

After luncheon, the party made a progress. Everything was most admirable. There was a long schoolroom where such men as Meekin taught how Christ loved little children ; and behind the schoolroom were tho cells and tho constables and thc little yard where they gave their " twenty lashes." Sylvia shuddered at the array of faces. From the stolid nineteen-years. old booby of the Kentish hop fields, to the wizened, shrewd, teu-ycars-old Bohemian of the London itrcets, all degrees and gradeR of juvenile vice grinned, in untamable wickedness, or snuffled in affected piety. " Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven," Baid, or is reported to have said, tho Founder of our Established Religion. Of such it seemed that a large number of Honorable Gentlemen, together with Her Majesty's faithful Commons in Parliament assembled, had done their best to create a Kingdom of Hell.

After the farce had been played again, and the children had Btood up aud sat down, and sung a hymn, and told how many twice five were, and repeated their belief in " One God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth," the party reviewed the workshops, and law the church, and went everywhere but into tho room where the body of Peter Brown, aged twelve, lay starkly on its wooden bench, staring nt tho gaol

roof which was between it and Heaven.

Just outside this room Sylvia met with a little adventure. Meekin had stopped behind, and BiirgeBB, being suddenly summoned for tome official duty, Frere had gone with him, leaving bis wife to rest on a bench that, placed at the summit of the cliff, overlooked the sea. AVhile resting thus, she became aware of another presence, and, turning her head, beheld a email boy, with a cap in ono hand nnd a hammer in tho other. The appearance of the little creature, clad in a uniform of gray cloth that was too large for him, and holding in his withered little hand a hammer that was too heavy for him, had something pathetic about it.

" AVhat is it, you mite ?" asked Sylvia.

"AA> thought you might have seen him, mum," says tho little figure, opening its blue eyes with wonder at the kindness of thc tone.

" Him I AVhom 1"

" Cranky Brown, mum," returned the child ; "him as did it this morning. Me and Billy knowed him, mum ; ho was a mate of oura, and we wanted to know if ho looked happy."

" AVhat do you mean, child I" said she, with a strange terror at her heart; and then, filled with pity at tho aspect of the little being, she drew him to her with Budden womanly instinct,

and kissed him.

He looked up at her with joyful surprise.

" Oh I" he said.

Sylvia kissed him again.

" Does nobody ever kiss you, poor little man 1"

¦aid she.

" Mother used to," was the reply, "but she's at home. Oh, mum," with a sudden crimsoning of the little face, " may I fetch Billy !"

And taking courage from the bright young face, he gravely marched to nn angle of the rock, and brought out another little creature, with another gray uniform and another hammer.

" This is Billy, mum," he said. " Billy never had no mother. Kiss Billy."

The young wife felt the tears rush to her eyes. "You two poor babies I" she cried. And then, forgetting that she was a lady, dressed in silk and lace, Bbc fell on her knees in the dust, and, folding the friendless pair in her arms, wept over

them.

"AVhat is the matter, Sylvia!" said Frere, when he came up. " You've been crying."

" Nothing, Maurico; at least, I will tell you by-ond-by."

So, when they were alone that evening, ahe told him of the two boys, and he laughed.

"Artful little humbugs," he said, and sup- ported his Arguments by bo many illustrations of the precocious wickedness of juvenile felons, that his wife was half convinced against her will.

Unfortunately,v-when Sylvia went away, Tommy- and Billy put into execution a plan which they had carried in their poor little heads

for some weeks.

" I can do it now," said Tommy. " I feel strong."

"AArill it hurt much, Tommy!" said Billy, who was not so courageous.

" Not so much aa a whipping."

" I'm afraid I Oh, Tom, it's bo deep ! Don't leave me, Tom I" ,

The bigger boy took his little handkerchief from his neck, and with it bound his own left hand to his companion's right.

" Now I can't leave you."

" AA'hat was it the lady that kissed us said, Tommy ?"

"Lord, havo pity of them two fatherless children I" repeated Tommy.

" Let's say it, Tom."

And bo tho two babies knolt down on tho brink of tho cliff, and, raising thc bound hands together, looked up ot the sky, aud ungrammati- cally said, " Lord, havo pity on we two fatherless children!" And thea they kissed each other,

and "did it."

The intelligence, transmitted by the ever active semaphore, reached tho Commandant in the midst of dinner, aud in his agitation, ho

blurted it out.

" Thcso aro tho two poor things I saw in the morning," cried Sylvia. "Oh, Maurice, those two poor babies driven to suicide!"

"Condemning their young souls to everlasting fire," said Meekin, piously,

" Mr. Meekin! How can you talk like that! Poor little creatures! Oh, it's horrible! Maurice, take me away." And she burst into a passion of weeping.

" / can't help it, mam," says Burgess, rudely, ashamed. " lt ain't my fault."

" Sho's nervous," says Frere, leading her away. "You must excuse her. Como and lie down,

dearest."

" I will not stop here longer," said she. " Let us go to-morrow."

" AAre can't," said Frere,

" Oh, yes, we can. I insist. Jfaurice, if you love me, take mo away."

" Well," says Maurice, moved by her evident grief, " I'll try."

He spoke to Burgess. "Burgees, this matter has unsettled my wife, so that bIio wants to leave at once. 1 must visit the Neck, you know.

How can wo do it ?"

"AA'ell," says Burgess, "if the wind only holds, the brig could go round to Pirates' Bay and pick you up. You'll only be a night at the

barracks."

"I think that would bo best," said Frere. " AAVU start to-morrow, please, and if you'll give mo a pen and ink I'll be obliged."

" 1 hope you are satisfied," said Burgess.

" Oh, quite," said Frere. " 1 must recommend more careful supervision at Point Puer though. 11 will never do to have these young blackguards slipping through our fingers in this way."

So a ueatly written statement of the occur- rence was appended to tho ledgers in which tho names of William TomkiuB and Thomas Grove were entered. Maeklewaiu held an inquest, and nobody troubled about them any moro. A\Thy should they'! The prisons of Loudon were full of Buch Tommys and Billys.

Sylvia passed through tho rest of her journey

in a sort of dream of terror. Tho incident of the children had shaken her nerves, and she longed to be away from tho placo and its associ- ations. Even Eaglehawk Neck, with its curious dog stages and its " natural pavement," did not interest her. Honest MeNab's blandishments were wearisome. She shuddered as she gazed into tho boiling abyss of tho Blow-hole, and ?hook with fear ns the Commandant's "train" rattled over the dangerous tramway that wound across the precipice to Long Bay. The "train" was composed of n number of low waggons pushed and dragged up tho steep inclines by convicts, who drew themselves up in tho waggons when the trucks dashed down tho slope, nnd acted as drags. Sylvia felt degraded at being thus drawn by human beings, nnd trembled when the lash cracked and tho convicts answered to tho sting?like cattlo. Moreover, thero was among the foremost of theso beasts of burden a face that sho Beemed to know?a fuco that had

dimly haunted her girlhood, and only lately

vanished from her dreams. This faco looked on her?she thought?with bitterest loathing aud acorn, and oho felt relieved when at tho midday halt its owner waa ordered to fall out from tho rcBt, and was with four othere re-chained for tho homeward journey. Frere, Btruck with tho appearance of the five, said, " By Jove, Poppet, thero are our old friends Rex and Dawes and tho others. They won't let 'em come all the way, because they aro such a desperate lot, they might make u rush for it." Sylvia comprehended it now: tho faco was tho face of Dawes ; and as abe looked after him, she Baw him suddenly raise his hands above his head with a motion that terrified her. She seemed to dimly rcmemW sumo place or time when that action, or ono like it, had startled her. Sho felt for an instant a great shock of pitiful recollection. Staring at the group, she strove to recall when and how Rufus Dawes, the wretch from whose clutches her husband had saved her, had ever merited her pity, but her clouded memory could not completo the picture, and as tho waggons swept round n curve, and the group disappeared, she awoko from a reverie with a sigh.

"Maurice," sho whispered, "how is it that the sight nf that man always makes me sad i"

Her husband frowned, and then caressing her, bid her forget the man and the place and her fears. " I was wrong to have insisted on your coming," he said, when (standing on the deck of the Sydney-bound vessel tho next morning) they watched the "Natural Penitentiary" grow dim in the distance, " You were not Btrong enough."

" Dawes," laid John Rex, that same evening, seeming to take up tho thread of the conversation where lie had dropped it. " You love that girl! Now that you've seen her another man's wife, and have been harueBSod like a beast to drag him along the road, while he held her in his arma!?now that you've seen and suffered that, perhaps you'll join us."

Rufus Dawes made a movement of agonised impatience.

" You'd better. You'll never get out of this place any other way. Come, bo a man; join us."

"No I"

" It is your only chance. AVhy refuse it! D» you want to live here all your life ?"

" I want no sympathy from you or uny other. I will not join you."

Rex shrugged his shoulders and walked away. " If you think to get any good out of that ' enquiry,' you are mightily mistaken," said he, ns ho went. " Frere has put a stopper upon that, you'll Cud."

Ho spoke truly. Nothing more was heard of it, only that, some six mouths afterwards, Mr. North, when at Paramatta, received an official letter (in which the expenditure of wax and printing and paper was as large as it could bo made), and which informed him that tho " Comptroller-General of the convict department had decided that further enquiry concerning the death of tho prisoner named in the margin was unnecessary;" and that some gentleman with an utterly illegible signaturo "had thc honor to

bo his most obedient servant."

[TO BI OOST1XCED.J

"Papa, did you boo those nice little gum down to the store ?" asked a little Bix-ye.ir-old boy. " Yes, Harry, I saw them. But I have so many children to feed and clothe that 1 cannot afford to buy you one," replied his father, seriously. Little Harry glanced at thc baby in the cradle with no loving expression on his face. Finally he said : "AVell, papa, I'll tell you what you can do ; you can swop little Tommy for a gun,"

" Ain't you expriBcd to seo me ?" said a five year-old girl, as she tripped into my house in the midst of a rain storm. " The rain fell all over me like it ran down through a strainer, and I shooked it off, but it wouldn't stay shooked, I asked God to Btop, but thero was a big thunder in the way and he could not hear me, I under spect; and I most know he couldn't see mo, 'cause a black cloud got over my head aa black as-anything I Nobody couldn't see little girls through black clouds. I'm going to stay till the sun shines and then, when I go home, God will look down and say, ' AVhy, there's Nettie I She went to see her auntie right in the middle of the rain ;' and I guess he'U bo just as much exprised as you was I"