|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||His Natural Life|
His Natural Life.*
BY MARCUS CLARKE.
TO SIR CHARLES GAVAN DUFFY, &c., &c., &c. MY DEAR SIR CHARLES, —I take leave to dedicate this work to you, not merely because your nineteen years of political and literary life in
Australia render it very fitting that any work written by a resident in the colonies, and having to do with the history of past colonial days should bear your name upon its dedicatory page, but because—although a portion of the story has already appeared in an Australian serial—the publication of the book in its present form, is due to your advice and encouragement. The convict of fiction has been hitherto shown only at the beginning or at the end of his career. Either his exile has been the mysterious end to his misdeeds, or he has appeared upon the scene to claim interest by reason of an equally unin- telligible love of crime acquired during his ex- perience in a penal settlement Charles Reade has drawn the interior of a house of correction in England, and Victor Hugo has shown how a French convict fares after the fulfilment of his sentence. But no writer—so far as I am aware— has attempted to depict the dismal condition of a felon during his term of transportation. I have endeavored in " His Natural Life" to set forth the working and the results of an English system of transportation carefully con- sidered and carried out under official supervision; and to illustrate in a manner best calculated, as I think, to attract general attention, the inexpe- diency of again allowing offenders against the law to be herded together in places remote from the wholesome influence of public opinion, and to be submitted to a discipline which must necessarily depend for its just administration upon the personal character and temper of their gaolers. Your critical faculty will doubtless find, in the construction and artistic working of this book, many faults. I do not think, however, that you will discover any exaggerations. Some of the events narrated are doubtless tragic and terrible; but I hold it needful to my purpose to record them, for they are events which have actually occurred, and which, if the blunders which pro- duced them be repeated, must infallibly occur again. It is true that the British Government have ceased to deport the criminals of England, but the method of punishment, of which that deportation was a part, is still in existence. Port Blair is a Port Arthur filled with Indian-men instead of English-men; and, within the last year, France has established, at New Caledonia, a penal settlement which will, in the natural course of things, repeat in its own annals the history of Macquarie Harbor and of Norfolk Island. With this brief preface I beg you to accept the volume. I would that its merits were equal either to your kindness or to my regard. lam, My dear Sir Charles, Faithfully yours, MARCUS CLARKE. The Public Library, Melbourne, April, 1874. Prologue. On the evening of the 3rd of May, 1827, occurred in the garden of a large red-brick, bow windowed mansion called North-end House, — which, enclosed in spacious grounds, stands on the eastern height of Hampstead Heath, between Finchly-road and the Chestnut Avenue, —one of those domestic tragedies upon which dramatists found plays, and novelists construct stories. Three persons were standing on the lawn. One was an old man whose white hair and wrinkled face seemed to give token that he was at least sixty years of age. He stood erect with back to the wall which separates the garden from the Heath, in the attitude of one surprised into sudden passion, and held uplifted the heavy ebony cane, upon which it was evident that he was accustomed to lean. He was confronted by a young man of two-and-twenty, unusually tall and athletic in figure, who, dressed in rough seafaring clothes, held in his arms, as if for protection, a lady of middle age. The face of this young man wore an expression of horror-stricken as- tonishment, and the slight frame of the gray haired woman was convulsed with sobs. These three people were Sir Richard Devine, his wife, Lady Ellinor, and his only son Richard, uat that morning returned from abroad. " So, madam," said Sir Richard, in those high strung accents which in crises of great mental agony are common to the most self-restrained of us, " you have been for twenty years a living lie ! For twenty years you have cheated and mocked me. For twenty years—in company with a titled scoundrel whose name is a by-word for all that is profligate and base—you have laughed at me for a credulous and hood-winked fool; and now, because I dared to raise my hand to that reckless boy, you confess your shame, and glory in the confession !" " Mother, dear mother!" cried the young man, in a paroxysm of passionate grief," say that you did not mean those words ; you said them but in anger ! See, I am calm now, and he may strike me if he will." Lady Ellinor Devine only shuddered, creeping close, as though to hide herself in the broad bosom of her son. The old man continued : " I married you, Ellinor Wade, for your beauty ; you married me for my fortune. I was a plebeian, a ship's carpenter, what you will ; you were well born, your father was a man of fashion, a gambler, a friend of rakes and prodigals. I was rich. I had been knighted. I was in favor at Court. He wanted money and he sold you. I paid the price he asked, but there was nothing of your cousin, my lord Bellasis and Wotton in the bond." " Spare me, sir, spare me !" said Lady Ellinor faintly. "Spare you ! Ay, you have spared me, have you not ? Lookye," he cried, in sudden fury, "I am not to be fooled so easily. Your family are proud. Colonel Wade has other daughters. Your lover, my Lord of Bellasis, even now, thinks to retrieve his broken fortunes by an advantageous marriage. You have confessed your shame. Good. To-morrow your father, your sisters, the world, shall know the story you have thought fit to tell me !" " By Heaven, sir, you will not do this !" burst out the young man. " Silence, bastard !" cried Sir Richard. Lady Ellinor slipped though her son's arm, and fell on her knees at her husband's feet. "Do not do this, Richard. I have been faithful to you for two-and-twenty years. I have borne all the slights and insults yon have heaped upon me. The shameful secret of my early love broke from me when, in your rage, you threatened him. Let me go away; divorce me ; kill me ; but do not shame me." Sir Richard, who had turned to walk away, stopped suddenly, and his great white eyebrows came together in his red face with a savage scowl. He laughed, and in that laugh his fury seemed to congeal into a cold and cruel hate. " You would preserve your good name then. You would conceal this disgrace from the world. You shall have your wish—upon one condition." " What is it, sir ?" she asked, trembling with vague terror, and rising, to stand with drooping arms and widely opened eyes. The old man looked at her for an instant, and then said slowly— " That this impostor, who so long has falsely borne my name; has wrongfully squandered my money and unlawfully eaten my bread, shall pack ! That he abandon for ever the name he has usurped ; and, hiding himself from my sight, never set foot again in house of mine." " You would not part me from my only son !" cried the wretched woman. Richard Devine gently unbound the arms that again clung around his neck, kissed the pale face, and turned his own—scarcely less pale —towards the old man. " I owe you no duty," he said. " You have always hated and reviled me. When by your violence you drove me from your house, you set spies to watch me in the life I had chosen. I have nothing in common with you. I accept the terms you offer. I will go.—Nay, mother, think of your good name." Sir Richard Devine laughed again. "I am glad to see you are so well disposed. Listen now. To-night I send for Quaid to alter my will. My sister's son, Maurice Frere, shall be my heir in your stead. I give you nothing. You leave this [The copyright of " His natural Life " has been pur- chased by the proprietors of The Queenslander from Mr. Marcus Clarke.]
house in an hour. You change your name; you never by word or deed make claim on me or mine. No matter what strait or poverty you plead—not if your life hangs upon the issue—the instant I hear that there exists one on earth one who calls himself Richard Devine, that instant shall your mother's shame become a public scandal. You know me. I keep my word. I return in an hour, madam ; let me find him gone." And passing them, still erect as upborne by passion, he strode down the garden with the vigor that anger lends, and took the road to the town. " Richard cried the poor mother, " Forgive me, my son ! I have ruined you." Richard Devine tossed his black hair from his brow in sudden passion of love and grief. " Mother, dear mother, do not weep," he said, "I am not worthy of your tears. Forgive ! It is I—impetuous and ungrateful during all your years of sorrow —who most need forgiveness. Let me share your burden that I may lighten it. He is just. It is fitting that I go. I can earn a name—a name that I need not blush to bear nor you to hear. I am strong. I can work. The world is wide. Farewell! my own mother ?" "Not yet, not yet! Ah! see he has taken the road to Belsize ! Oh, Richard! pray heaven they may not meet." " Tush! They will not meet! You are pale, you faint!" " A terror of I know not what coming evil overpowers me. I tremble for the future. Oh, Richard, Richard ! forgive me ! pray for me ?" "Hush, dearest! Come let me lead you in. I will write. I will send word once at least, ere I depart. So—you are calmer. Mother!"
Sir Richard Devine, knight, shipbuilder, naval contractor, and millionaire, was the son of a Harwich boat carpenter. Early left an orphan with a sister to support, he became one of those men whose sole aim in life is the accumulation of money. In the Harwich boatshed, nearly fifty years before, he had contracted—in defiance of prophesied failure—to build the Hastings sloop of war for His Majesty King George the Third's Lords of the Admiralty. This contract was the thin edge of that wedge which eventually split the mighty oak block of Government patonrage into three-deckers, and ships of the line, which did good service under Pellew, Parker, Nelson, Hood, exfoilating and ramifying into huge dock-yards at Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Sheerness, and bearing buds and flowers of countless barrels of measly pork and maggotty biscuit. The sole aim of the coarse, pushing, and hard-headed son of Dick Devine was to make money. He had cringed and crawled, and fluttered and blustered, had licked the dust off great men's shoes, and danced attendance in great men's ante-chambers. Nothing was too low, nothing to high for him. A shrewd man of business, a thorough master of his trade, troubled with few scruples of honor or of delicacy, he made money rapidly, and saved it as he made. The first hint that the public received of his wealth was in 1796, when it leaked out that a Mr. Devine, one of the shipwrights to the Government, and a comparatively young man of forty-four or thereabouts, had subscribed £5000 to the Loyalty Loan raised to prosecute the French war. In 1805 after doing good, and it was hinted not unprofitable, service in the trial of Lord Melville, the Treasurer of the Navy, he married his sister to a wealthy Bristol merchant, one Anthony Frere,and married himself to Ellinor Wade, the eldest daughter of Colonel Wotton Wade, a companion of the Regent, and an uncle by marriage of that remarkable scamp and dandy, Lord Bellasis. At that time, what with lucky speculations in the Funds—assisted, it was whispered, by secret intelligence from France during the stormy years of '13, '14 and '15 — together with the legitimate profit on his Gov- ernment contracts, he had accumulated a princely fortune, and could afford to live in princely magnificence. But the old-man-of-the- sea burden of parsimony and avarice which he had voluntarily taken upon him was not to be shaken off, and the only show he made of his wealth was to purchase, on his knighthood, the rambling but comfortable house at Hampstead, and to ostensibly retire from active business. His retirement was not a happy one. He was a stern father, and a severe master. His servants hated him and his wife was terrified at him. His only son Richard appeared to in- herit his father's strong will and imperious manner. Under careful supervision and a just rule he might have been guided to good; but left to his own devices outside, and galled by the iron yoke of parental discipline at home, he had become reckless and prodigal. The mother poor, timid Ellinor, who had been rudely torn from the only affection of her life, her cousin, Viscount Bellasis—tried to restrain him, but the headstrong boy, though owning for his mother that strong love which is often a part of such violent natures, had proved unamenable to rule, and after three years of parental feud, had gone off to the Continent, to pursue there the same reckless life which in London had offended the money-getting Sir Richard. Sir Richard upon this, had sent for Maurice Frere, his sister's son —the abolition of the slave-trade had ruined the Bristol house of Frere—and bought for him a com- mission in a marching regiment, hinting darkly of special favors to come. This open preference for another had galled to the quick his sensitive wife, who contracted with some heart-pangs the gal- lant prodigality of her father with the niggardly economy of her husband. Between the houses of parvenu Devine and lordly Wotton Wade had long been but little love. Sir Richard felt that the fine gentleman despised him for a city knight, was conscious that over claret and cards Lord Bellasis and his friends had often lamented the hard fortune which gave the beauty, Ellinor, to so sordid a bridegroom. Armigell Esmé Wade, Viscount Bellasis and Wotton, was a product of his time. Of good family (his ancestor, Armi- gell, was reputed to have landed in America be- fore Gilbert or Raleigh), he had inherited his manor of Bellasis or Belsize from one Sir Esmé Wade, ambassador from Queen Elizabeth to the King of Spain in the delicate matter of Mendoza, and afterwards counsellor to James I., and lieu- tenant of the Tower. This Esmé was a man of dark devices. It was he who negotiated with Mary of Scots for Elizabeth ; it was he who wormed out of Cobham the evidence against the great Raleigh. He became rich, and his sister (the widow of Henry de Kirkhaven, Lord of Hem0 fleet) marrying into the family of the Wottons, the wealth of the house was farther increased by a union of her daughter Sybil to Marmaduke Wade. Marmaduke Wade was a Lord of the Admiralty, and a patron of Pepys, who in his diary [July 17th, 1668] speaks of visiting him at Belsize. He was raised to the peerage in 1667 by the title of Lord Bellasis and Wotton, and married for his second wife Anne, daughter of Phillip Stanhope, second earl of Chesterfield. Allied to this powerful house, the family tree of Wotton Wade grew and flourished. In 1784, Phillip, third viscount, married the celebrated beauty Miss Povey, and had issue Armigell Esmé, in whose person the family prudence seemed to have run itself out. The fourth Lord Bellasis appeared to combine the daring of Armigell, the adventurer, with the evil disposi- tion of Esmé, the lieutenant of the Tower. No sooner had he become master of his fortune than he diced, drank, and debauched with all the ex- travagance of that extravagant century. He was foremost in every riot, most notorious of all the notorious "bloods" of the day. Horrace Walpole in one of hi» letters to Selwyn in 1785, mentions a fact which may stand for a page of narrative, "Young Wade," he says, "is re- ported to have lost 1000 guineas last night to that vulgarist of all the Burbons, the Due de Chartres, and they say the fool is not yet nine- teen." From a pigeon Armigell became a hawk, and at thirty years of age, having lost together with his estates all chance of winning the one woman who might have saved him —his cousin Ellinor—he became that most unhappy of all beings, a well-born blackleg. When he was told by thin-lipped, cool Captain Wade that the rich ship-builder, Sir Richard Devine, had proposed an alliance with fair-haired gentle Ellinor, he swore with fierce knitting of his black brows, that no law of man nor Heaven should further restrain him in his selfish prodi- gality. "You have sold your daughter and ruined me," he said, " look to the consequences." Captain Wade sneered at his fiery kinsman : " You will find Sir Richard's house a pleasant one to visit, Armigell; and he should be worth an income to so experienced a gambler as your self." Lord Bellasis did visit at Sir Richard's house during the first year of his cousin's mar- riage ; but upon the birth of the son who is the hero of this history, he affected a quarrel with the city knight, and cursing him to the Prince and Poins for a miserly curmudgeon, who neither diced nor drank like a gentleman, departed more desperately at war with fortune than ever, for
his old haunts. The year 1827 found him a hardened, hopeless old man of sixty, battered in health and ruined in pocket; but who, by dint of stays, hair-dye, and courage, yet faced the world with undaunted front, and dined as gaily in bailiff-haunted Belsize as he had done at the table of the Regent. Of all the possessions of the house of Wotton Wade, this old manor, timberless and bare, was all that remained, and its master but seldom visited it. On the evening of the 3rd of May, 1827, Vis- count Bellasis had been attending a pigeon match at Hornsey Wood, and resisting the im- portunities of his companion, Mr. Lionel Crofton, (a young gentleman rake, whose position in the sporting world was none of the most assured), to go on to town, had avowed his intention of strik- ing across Hampsted to Belsize. " I have an ap- pointment at the Fir Trees on the Heath," he said. " With a woman !" asked Mr. Crofton. " Not at all; with a parson." " A parson !" " You stare ! Well, he is only just ordained, I met him last year at Bath on his vacation from Cambridge, and he was good enough to lose some money to me." "And now waits to pay it out of his first curacy. I wish your lordship joy with all my soul. Then we must push on, for it grows late." " Thanks, my dear sir, for the 'we,' but I must go alone," said Viscount Bellasis dryly, " and to- morrow you can settle with me for the sitting of last week. Hark! the clock is striking nine. Good night."
At half-past nine Richard Devine quitted his mother's house to begin the new life he had chosen, and so drawn together by that strange fate of circumstance which creates events, the father and son approached each other.
As the young man gained the middle of the path which led to the Heath, he met Sir Richard returning from the village. It was no part of his plan to seek another interview with the man whom his mother had so deeply wronged, and he would have slunk past into the gloom ; but seeing him thus alone returning to a desolate home, the prodigal was tempted to utter some words of farewell and regret. But, to his astonishment, Sir Richard passed swiftly on, with body bent forward as one in the act of falling, and with eyes unconscious of surround- ings, staring straight into the distance. Half terrified at this strange appearance, Richard hurried onward, and at a turn of the path stumbled upon something which horribly ac- counted for the curious action of the old man. A dead body lay upon its face in the heather ; beside it was a heavy riding whip stained at the handle with blood, and an open pocket-book. Richard took up the book, and read, emblazoned on the cover, " Viscount Bellasis." The unhappy young man flung himself down beside the body and raised it. The skull had been fractured by a blow, but it seemed that life yet lingered. Overcome with horror— for he could not doubt but that his mother's worst fears had been realised—he knelt there holding his murdered father in his arms, waiting that the murderer, whose name he bore, might place himself beyond pur- suit. It seemed an hour in his excited fancy until he saw a light pass along the front of the house he had quitted, and knew that Sir Richard had safely reached his chamber. With some bewildered intention of summoning aid, he left the body and made towards the town. As he stepped out on to the path he heard voices, and presently some dozen men, one of whom held a horse, burst out upon him, and, with a sudden fury, seized and flung him to earth. At first the young man so rudely assailed, did not comprehend his own danger. His mind, bent upon the one hideous explanation for the crime, did not see another very obvious one which had already occurred to the mind of the landlord of the " Three Spaniards." " God defend me !" cried Mr. Mogford, scan- ning by the pale light of the rising moon the features of the murdered man, " but it is Lord Bellasis !—oh, you villian ! Jem, bring him along, here, p'raps his lordship can recognise him !" "It was not I!" cried Richard Devine. " For God's sake, my lord, say —;" then he stopped abruptly, and being forced on his knees by his captors, remained staring at the dying man, in sudden and ghastly fear. Those men in whom emotion has the effect of increasing circulation of the blood, reason quickly in moments of danger, and in that one terrible instant when his eyes met those of Lord Bel- lasis, Richard Devine had summed up the chances of his future fortune, and realised to the full the frightful extent of his personal peril. The runaway horse had given the alarm. The drinkers at the Spaniards' Inn had started to search the Heath, and had discovered a fellow in rough costume, whose person was unknown to them, hastily quitting a spot where, beside a rifled pocket-book and a blood-stained whip, lay the body of a dying man. The web of circumstantial evidence had en- meshed him. An hour ago escape would have been easy. He would have had but to cry, " I am the son of Sir Richard Devine: Come with me to yonder house, and I will prove to you that I have but just quitted it,"—to place his inno- cence beyond immediate question. That course of action was impossible now. Knowing Sir Richard as he did, and believing, moreover, that in his raging passion the old man had himself met and murdered the destroyer of his honor, the son of Lord Bellasis and Lady Ellinor De- vine saw himself in a position which would com- pel him to silently sacrifice himself, or to du- biously purchase a chance of safety at the price of his mother's dishonor and the death of the man whom his mother had deceived. If the outcast son were brought a prisoner to North- end House, Sir Richard—now doubly oppressed of fate; —would be certain to deny him, and he would be compelled in self defence, to reveal a story which would at once bring his mother to open infamy, and send to the gallows the man who had been for twenty years abused, and to whose kindness he owed all of education or of fortune. He knelt, stupified, unable to speak or move. "Come," cried Mogford again; "say, my lord, is this the villain ?" Lord Bellasis roused his failing senses, opened glazing eyes, stared into his son's face with a horrible eagerness, shook his head, raised a feeble arm as though to point elsewhere, and fell back dead. " If you didn't murder him, you robbed him," growled Mogford disgustedly, "and you shall sleep at Bow-street to-night. Tom, run on to meet the patrol, and tell him to leave word at the Gate-house that I have a passenger for the coach !—Bring him on, Jack !—What's your name, eh ?" He repeated the rough question twice before his prisoner answered, and at last Richard Devine raised a pale face which stern resolution had already hardened into defiant manhood, and said, " Dawes—Rufus Dawes."
His new life had begun already; for that night one Rufus Dawes, charged with murder and robbery, lay awake in prison, waiting for the fortune of the morrow. Two other men waited as eagerly. One, Mr. Lionel Crofton, the other the horsemen who had appointment with the murdered Lord Bellasis under the shadow of the fir trees on Hampstead Heath. As for Sir Richard Devine, he waited for no one, for upon reaching his room he had fallen senseless in a fit of apoplexy.
BOOK I. Chapter I. THE PRISON SHIP. It was the breathfull stillness of a tropical afternoon. The air was hot and heavy, the sky brazen and cloudless, and the shadow of the Malabar lay on the surface of the great glittering sea. The sun—who rose a blazing ball every morn- ing on the left hand to move slowly through the unbearable blue, until he sank fiery red in mingling glories of sky and ocean on the right hand—had just got low enough to peep beneath the awning that covered the poop deck and awaken a young man, in an undress military uniform, who had been dozing on a coil of rope. " Hang it !" said he, rising and stretching himself, with the weary sigh of a man who has nothing to do, " I must have been asleep ;" and then holding by a stay, he turned round and looked about into the waist of the ship. Save the man at the wheel and the guard at the quarter-railing, he was alone on the deck. A few birds flew round about the vessel, and seemed to pass under her stern windows only to
appear again at her bows. A lazy albatross, with with white water flashing from his wings, rose with a dabbling sound to leeward, and in the place where he had been, glided the hideous fin of a silently-swimming shark. The seams of the well-scrubbed deck were sticky with melted pitch, and the brass plate of the compass-case sparkled in the sun like a jewel.There was no breeze, and as the clumsy ship rolled and lurched on the heaving sea, her idle sails flapped against her masts with a regular recurring noise, and her bowsprit would seem to rise higher with the water's swell, and then dip again with a jerk that made each rope tremble and tauten. On the forecastle, some half-dozen soldiers, in all varieties of undress, were playing at cards, smoking, or watching the fishing lines hanging over the catheads. So far the appearance of the vessel differed in nowise from that of an ordinary transport. But in the waist a curious sight presented itself. It was as though one had built a cattle pen there. At the foot of the foremast, and at the quarter deck, a strong barricade, loop-holed, and fur- nished with doors for ingress and egress, ran across the deck from bulwark to bulwark. Out- side this cattle-pen an armed sentry stood on guard; inside, standing, sitting, or walking monotonously, within range of the shining barrels in the arm chest on the poop, were some sixty men and boys, dressed in uniform gray. The men and boys were prisoners of the Crown, and the cattle-pen was their exercise ground. Their prison was down the main hatchway, on the 'tween decks, and the barricade, continued down, made its side walls. It was the fag end of the two hours' exercise graciously permitted each afternoon by His Majesty King George the Fourth to prisoners of the Crown, and the prisoners of the Crown were enjoying themselves. It was not, perhaps, so pleasant as under the awning on the poop-deck, but that sacred shade was only for such great men as the captain and his officers, Surgeon Pine, Lieutenant Maurice Frere, and that greatest constellation of all, Captain Vickers and his lady-wife. That the convict leaning against the bulwarks would have liked to have been able to get rid of his enemy the sun for a moment was probable enough. His companions sitting on the comb- ings of the main-hatch, or crouched in careless fashion on the shady side of the barricade, were laughing and talking, with a sort of blasphemous and obscene merriment hideous to contemplate ; but he, with cap pulled over his brows, and hands thrust into the pockets of his coarse grey garments, appeared to keep aloof from their dis- mal joviality. The sun poured his hottest rays on to his head unheeded, and though every cranny and seam in the deck sweltered hot pitch under the fierce heat, he stood there, motionless and morose, staring at the sleepy sea. He had stood thus, in one place or another, ever since the groaning vessel had escaped from the rollers of the Bay of Biscay, and the miserable hundred and eighty creatures among whom he was classed had been freed from their irons, and allowed to snuff fresh air twice a day. The low-browed, coarse-featured ruffians grouped about the deck cast many a leer of silent contempt at the solitary figure, but their re- marks were confined to gestures only. There are degrees in crime, and Rufus Dawes, the con- victed felon, who had but escaped the gallows to toil his life in irons, was a man of mark. He had been tried for the robbery and murder of Lord Bellasis. A friendless vagabond, his lame story of finding on the heath a dying man would not have availed him, but for a curious circum- stance sworn to by the landlord of the Spaniard's Inn, that the murdered nobleman had shaken his head when asked if the prisoner was his as- sassin. The vagabond was acquitted of the murder, but condemned to death for the rob- bery, and London, who took some interest in the trial, considered him fortunate when his sen- tence was commuted to transportation for life. It was customary on board these floating prisons to keep each man's crime a secret from his fellows, so that if he chose, and the caprice of his jailers allowed him, he could lead a new life in his adopted home, without being taunted with his former misdeeds. But, like other ex- cellent devices, the expedient was but a nominal one, and few out of the doomed hundred and eighty but knew the offence their companions had committed. The more guilty boasted of their superiority in vice ; the petty criminals loudly swore that their guilt was blacker than it appeared. Moreover, a deed so bloodthirsty and a respite so unexpected, had invested the name of Rufus Dawes with grim distinction, which his superior mental abilities, no less than his haughty temper and powerful frame, combined to support. A young man of two-and-twenty, owning to no friends, and existing among them, but by the fact of his criminality, he was respected and admired. The vilest of all the vile horde penned between decks, if they laughed at his "fine airs" behind his back, cringed and sub- mitted when they met him face to face—for in a convict ship the greatest villain is the greatest hero, and the only nobility acknowledged by that hideous commonwealth is that Order of the Halter which is conferred by the hand of the hangman. The young man on the poop caught sight of the tall figure leaning against the bulwarks, and it gave him an excuse to break the monotony of his employment " Here, you!" he called out with an oath, " get out of the gangway!" Rufus Dawes was not in the gangway—was, in fact, a good two feet from it—but at the sound of Lieutenant Frere's voice he started, and went obediently towards the hatchway. "Touch your hat, you dog!" cries Frere, coming to the quarter railing. " Touch your hat! Do you hear ?" Rufus Dawes touched his cap, saluting in half military fashion. " I'll make some of you fellows smart, if you don't have a care," went on the angry Frere, half to himself and half aloud. "Insolent blackguards!" And then the noise of the sentry, on the quarter deck below him, grounding arms, turned the current of his thoughts. A thin, tall, soldier-like man, with a cold blue eye, and prim features, came out of the cuddy below, handing out a fair-haired, affected, mincing lady of middle age. Captain Vickers, of Mr. Frere's regiment, ordered for service, in Van Diemen's Land, was bringing his lady on deck to get an ap- petite for dinner. Mrs. Vickers was forty-two (she owned to thirty-three), and had been a garrison-belle for eleven weary years before she married prim John Vickers. The marriage was not a happy one. Vickers found his wife extravagant, vain, and snappish, and she found him harsh, disenchanted and common-place. A daughter, born some two years after marriage, was the only link that bound the ill-assorted pair. Vickers idolized little Sylvia, and when the recommenda- tion of a long sea voyage for his failing health induced him to exchange into the —th, he in- sisted upon bringing the child with him, despite Mrs. Vickers' reiterated objections on the score of educational difficulties. "He could educate her himself, if need be," he said ; " and she should not stop at home." So Mrs. Vickers, after a hard struggle, gave up the point and her dreams of Bath together, and followed her husband with the best grace she could muster. Once fairly out to sea she seemed reconciled to her fate, and employed the intervals between scolding her daughter and maid and in fascinating the boorish young Lieutenant, Maurice Frere. Fascination was an integral portion of Julia Vickers' nature ; admiration was all she lived for ; and even in a convict ship, with her husband at her elbow, she must flirt, or perish of mental inanition. There was no harm in the creature. She was simply a vain, middle-aged woman, and Frere took her attentions for what they were worth. Moreover, her good feeling towards him was useful, for reasons which will shortly appear. Running down the ladder, cap in hand, he offered her his assistance. "Thank you, Mr. Frere. These horrid ladders! I really—he, he—quite tremble at them. Hot! Yes, dear me, most oppressive. John, the camp stool. Pray, Mr. Frere—oh, thank you! Sylvia! Sylvia! John, have you my smelling salts? Still a calm, I suppose? These dreadful calms!" This semi-fashionable slip-slop, within twenty yards of the wild beasts' den, on the other side of the barricade, sounded strange; but Mr. Frere thought nothing of it. Familiarity destroys terror, and the incurable flirt fluttered her muslins, and played off her second-rate graces, under the noses of the grinning convicts, with as much complacency as if she had been in a Chat- ham ball-room. Indeed, if there had been nobody else near, is is not unlikely that she would have disdainfully fascinated the 'tween
decks, and made eyes at the most presentable of the convicts themselves. Vickers, with a bow to Frere, saw his wife up the ladder, and then turned for his daughter. She was a delicate-looking child of six years old, with blue eyes and bright hair. Though in- dulged by her father, and spoiled by her mother, the natural sweetness of her disposition saved her from being disagreeable, and the effects of her education as yet only snowed themselves in a thousand imperious prettinesses, which made her the darling of the ship. Little Miss Sylvia was privileged to go anywhere and do anything, and even convictism shut its foul mouth in her presence. Running to her father's side, the child chattered with all the volubility of flattered self-esteem, and, running hither and thither, asked questions, invented answers, laughed, sang, gambolled, peered into the compass-case, felt in the pockets of the man at the helm, put her tiny hand into the bag one of the officer of the watch, even ran down on to the quarter-deck and pulled the coat-tails of the sentry on duty. At last, tired of running about, she took a little striped leather ball from the bosom of her frock, and calling to her father, threw it up to him as he stood on the poop. He retained it, and shooting with laughter, and clapping her hands between each throw, the child kept up the game. The convicts—whose slice of fresh air was nearly eaten—turned with eagerness to watch this new source of amusement. Innocent laughter and childish prattle were strange to them. Some smiled, and nodded with interest in the varying fortunes of the game. One young lad could hardly restrain himself from ap- plauding. It was as though, out of the sultry heat which brooded over the ship, a cool breeze had suddenly arisen. In the midst of this mirth, the officer of the watch, glancing round the fast crimsoning horizon, paused abruptly, and shading his eyes with his hand, looked out intently to the west- ward. Frere, who found Mrs. Vickers' conversation a little tiresome, and had been glancing from time to time at the companion, as though in expecta- tion of some one appearing, noticed the action. "What is it,Mr. Best ?" "I don't know exactly. It looks to me like a cloud of smoke." And taking the glass, he swept the horizon. " Let me see," says Frere; and he looked also. On the extreme horizon, just to the left of the sinking sun, rested, or seemed to rest, a tiny black cloud. The gold and crimson, splashed all about the sky, had overflowed around it, and rendered a clear view almost impossible. "I can't quite make it out," says Frere, handing back the telescope. "We can see as soon as the sun goes down a little." Then Mrs. Vickers must, of course, look also, and was prettily affected about the focus of the glass, applying herself to that instrument with much girlish giggling, and finally declaring, after shutting one eye with her fair hand, that "positively she could see nothing but sky, and believed that wicked Mr. Frere was doing it on purpose." By and by, Captain Blunt himself appeared, and, taking the glass from his officer, looked through it long and carefully. Then the mizen- top was appealed to, and declared that he could see nothing; and at last the sun, going down with a jerk, as though it had slipped through a slit in the sea, the black spot was swallowed up in the gathering haze, and was seen no more. As the sun sank, the relief guard came up the after hatchway, and the relieved guard prepared to superintend the descent of the convicts. At this moment Sylvia missed her ball, which, taking advantage of a sudden lurch of the vessel, hopped over the barricade, and rolled to the feet of Rufus Dawes, who was still leaning, apparently lost in thought, against the side. The bright spot of color rolling across the white deck caught his eye, and stooping mechani- cally, he picked it up, and stepped forward to re- turn it. The door of the barricade was open, and the sentry—a young soldier, occupied in staring at the relief guard—did not notice the prisoner pass through it. In another instant he was on the sacred quarter-deck. Heated with the game, her cheeks aglow, her eyes sparkling, her golden hair afloat, Sylvia turned to leap after her recovered treasure, but even as she turned, from under the shadow of the cuddy glided a rounded white arm and shapely hand, that, catching the child by the sash, drew her back. The next moment the young man in gray had placed the toy in her hand. Maurice Frere, descending the poop ladder, had not witnessed this little incident; and arriving on the deck, saw only the unexplained presence of the convict uniform. "Thank you," said a voice, as Rufus Dawes stooped before the pouting Sylvia. The convict raised his eyes and saw a young girl of eighteen or nineteen years of age, tall and well developed, who, dressed in a loose sleeved robe of some white material, was standing in the doorway. She had black hair, coiled around a narrow and flat head, a small foot, white skin, well-shaped hands, and large brown eyes, and as she smiled at him, her scarlet lips showed her white even teeth. He knew her at once. She was Sarah Purfoy, Mrs. Vickers' maid, but he never had been so close to her before; and it seemed to him as though he was in the presence of some strange tropical flower, which exhaled a heavy and in- toxicating perfume. For an instant the two looked at each other, and then Rufus Dawes felt his collar seized from behind, and he was flung with a shock upon the deck. Leaping to his feet, his first impulse was to rush upon his assailant, but he saw the ready bayonet of the sentry gleam, and he checked him- self with an effort, for his assailant was Mr. Maurice Frere. "What the devil do you here ?" asked that gentleman with a succession of oaths. "You lazy skulking hound, what brings you here ? If I catch you putting your foot on the quarter-deck again, I'll give you a week in irons ?" Rufus Dawes, pale with rage and mortification, opened his mouth to justify himself, but he al- lowed the words to die on his lips. What was the use? " Go down below, and remember what I have told you," cried Frere ; and comprehending at once what had occurred, he made a mental minute of the name of the defaulting sentry. The convict, wiping the blood from his face, turned on his heel without a word, and went back through the strong oak door into his den. Frere leant forward and took the girl's shapely hand with an easy gesture, but she drew it away, with a flash of her black eyes. " You coward !" she said. The stolid soldier close beside them heard it, and his eye twinkled. Frere bit his thick lips with mortification, and followed the girl into the cuddy; but taking the astonished Sylvia by the hand, she glided into her mistress' cabin with a scornful laugh, and shut the door behind her. [TO BE CONTINUED.]
An interesting volume might be written com- posed of "Words of Reproof from the Bench"— words spoken not in anger but in sorrow, and sometimes uttered as a soliloquy rather than in terms of remonstrance or admonition. These magisterial outbursts are occasionally as prophetical as they are sublime ; for instance, two girls, a few days ago, were charged before Bailie Morrison, at Glasgow, with having behaved in a disorderly manner in the street. Their defence was decidedly weak. They had, they urged, been invited into a public-house by some young men and " treated to drink." " Girls," said the Bailie, "any man who would invite you to drink in a public-house would never offer to marry you, and even the most degraded man would not hold any high estimate of a girl who went in and drank with him in a public bar. It is a pity to see you in such a position as this, and I will discharge you, trusting that it may be a lesson to you. You may go." As the girls re- tired, after expressing their gratitude, the Bailie remarked, sotto voce, " And these are to be the wives and mothers of the near future." The Bailie evidently forgot that he had just informed the fair defendants, that their prospects of matrimony were of the most slender description ; still his advice was kind and well-intentioned, and is well worth the attention of even young ladies in "good society," who should always remember that an invitation given in a ball-room after dancing by a young gentleman to come to the supper-room does not of necessity denote an intention of asking them to become wives of the " near future."— Pall Mall Gazette. A MAN would have no pleasure in discovering all the beauties of the universe, even in heaven itself, unless he had a partner to whom he might communicate his joy.