Chapter 18339545

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Chapter NumberBOOK III XIX
Chapter TitleTHE CONSOLATIONS OF RELIGION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18339545
Full Date1875-12-11
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count5657
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleHis Natural Life
article text

The Storyteller.

His Natural Life.

BOOK III. CHAPTER XIX. THE CONSOLATIONS OF RELIGION.

BY MARCUS CLARKE.

"WELL, my good man," says Meekin, sooth ingly, "so you wanted to see me." "I asked for the chaplain," says says Dawes, his anger with himself growing apace.

" I am the chaplain," returned Meekin, with dignity, as who should say—"none of your brandy-drinking, pea-jacketted Norths, but a Respectable chaplain who is the friend of a Bishop !" " I thought that Mr. North was " "Mr. North has left, sir," said Meekin, drily, " but I will hear what you nave to say. There is no occasion to go, constable ; wait outside the door." Rufus Dawes shifted himself on the wooden bench, and resting his scarcely-healed back against the wall, smiled bitterly. " Don't be afraid, sir ; I'm not going to harm you," ho said, f 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 iB your mind softened by its teachings ? 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 piety was to be recommenced then. He came asking for bread, and they gave him the usual stone. "Do you believe that there is a God, Mr. Meekin I" " Abandoned sinner t Do you insult a clergy - man by such a question ?" " Because I think sometimes that, if there is, He must be often dissatisfied at the way things are done here," said Dawes, half to himself. "I can listen to no mutinous observations, prisoner," says Meekin. "Dd not add blasphemy to your other crimes. I fear that all conversa tion with you, in your present frame of mind, would be worse 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. Hailea, the door, if you please." So, with a bow, 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 bad dared to olasp his horny and blood-stained hand, and call him " brother," had gone. Turning his head, he saw through the window—wide open and unbarred, for Nature, at Port Arthur, had no need of bars—the lovely bay, smooth as glass, glittering in the afternoon sun, the long quay, spotted with groups of parti colored chain-gangs, and heard, mingling with the soft murmur of the waves, and the gentle rustling of the trees, the never-ceasing clashing of irons, and eternal click of hammers. Was he to be for ever buried in this whited sepulchre, shut out from the face of Heaven and mankind ? The appearance of Hailes broke his reverie. " Here's a book for yon," said he, with a grin. "Parson sent it" Rufus Dawes took the Bible, and placing it on his knee, turned to the places indicated by slips of paper. There were some three or four of these slips of paper, embracing some twenty marked texts. •' Parson says h9'll come and hear you to morrer, aud you're to keep the book clean." " Keep the book clean I" and " hear him 1" Did Meekin think that he was a charity school boy ? The utter incapacity of the chaplain to understand his wants was bo sublime that it was nearly ridiculous enough to make bim laugh. He turned his eyes downwards to the texts. Good Meekir., in the fullness of his stupidity, had selected the fiercest denunciations of bard and prieHt. The most notable of the Psalmist's curses upon his enemies, the most furious of Isaiah's ravings anent the forgetfulness of the national worship, the most terrible thunderings of apostle and evangelist against idolatry and unbelief, were grouped together and presented to Dawes to soothe him. All the material horrors of Meekin* s faith—stripped by force of dissociation from the context, of all poetic feel ing and local coloring—were launched at the suffering sinner by Meekin's ignorant hand. The miserable man, seeking for consolation and peace, turned over the leaves of the Bible, only to find himself threatened with "the pains of hell," "the never-dying worm," "the unquenchable fire ;" the bubbling of brimstone, the "bottom less pit," from out of which the " smoke of his torment" should ascend for ever and ever. Before his eyes was held no image of a tender Saviour (with hands soft to soothe, and eyes brimming with ineffable pity) dying crucified that he 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 gentle Nazareneon 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 me in this world or the next?" he groaned, shuddering. Presently his eyes sought his right hand, resting upon it as though it w*re not his own, or had some secret virtue which made it different from the other. "He would would not have done this ? He would not have thrust upon me these savage judgments, these dreadful threats of hell and death. He called me ' Brother 1' " And filled with a strange wild pity for himself, and yearning love towards the man who befriended him, he fell to nursing the band on which North's tears had fallen, moaning, and rocking hitnuelf to and fro. Good Meekin, coming in the morning, found his pupil more sullen than ever.

* Tlm oopyrifkt of " Hia Natural Lif*" hantem mr •tMMlbr&apraprWtonrf Tfc frwtmUtwfa- tw Mr. Haraoa Ctariui

" Have yon learnt these texts, my man t" said he, cheerfully, willing not to be angered with his uncouth and unpromising convert. Rufus Daw<M pointed with hu foot to the Bible, which still lay. on the floor as he had left it the night before. "No I" "No! Why not?" " I would learn no Buch words as those. I would rather forget them." " Forget them ! My good man, I " Rufus Dawes sprang 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 kuow about the feelings of such as 1? Take your book and yourself away ! When I asked for a priest I had no thought of you. Begone !" Meekin, despite the halo of sanctity which he felt should surround him, found his gentility melt all of a sudden. Adventitious distinctions had disappeared for the instant. The pair had 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 " That man Dawes is very insolent," said to Burgess the insulted chaplain. "He was brutal to me to-day—quite brutaL" " Was he ?" says Burgess. " Had too long a spell, I expect. I'll send him back to work to morrow." "It would be well," said gentle Meekin, "if he had some employment."

Chaptkr XX. "a natural penitentiary." Thx "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 log* 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 to average 1251be. Members of the chain-gang were dressed in yellow, and—by way of en couraging the others—had the word "Felon" stamped upon conspicuous parts of their raiment. This was the sort of life Rufus Dawes led. In the summer time he rose 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 n clean shirt, and once a fortnight clean socks. If he felt sick, he was permitted to "report his ease to the medical officer." If he wuuted to write a letter, he could ask permission of the Commandant, and send the letter, open, through that Almighty Officer, who could »top it if he thought necessary. -If he felt himself aggrieved by any order, he was " to obey it instantly," but might complain " afterwards, if he 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 hismanneratid language, when speakingof or to such officer or coustable." He was held respon sible only for the safety of his chains, and for the rest was at the mercy of his gaoler. These gaolers- owning right of search, entry into cells at all hourd, and other droiti of eeigneury—were responsible only to the Commandant, who was responsible only to the Governor, that is to say, to nobody but Ood and his own conscience. The jurisdiction of the Commandant included the whole of Tastnan's Peninsula, with the islands and waters within three miles thereof; and, save the making of certain returns to head* quarters, his power was unlimited. A word as to the 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 called Maingon Bay, bounded east and weßt by the organ-pipe rocks of Caps Raoul, and the giant form of Cape Pillar. From Maingon Bay an arm of the ocean cleaves the rocky walls in a northerly direction. On the western coast of this sea-arm was the settlement; in front of it was a little island where the dead were buried, called The Island of the Dead. Ere the in-coming convict passed the 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 age. 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 oonvict-made tram road ran due north through the nearly impene trable thicket to Norfolk Bay. In the mouth of Norfolk Bay was Woody Island. This was used as a signal station, and an 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 the sea that ran between narrowed to the eastward, until it struck on the sandy bar of Eaglehawk-Neck. Eaglehawk-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 unchecked force. The isthmus itself emerged from a wild and terrible coast-line, into whose bowels the ravenous sea had bored strange caverns, resonant with perpetual roar of tortured billows. At one spot in this wilderness the ocean had penetrated the wall of rock for two hundred feet, and in stormy weather the salt spray rose through a perpendicular shaft of more than five hundred feet deep. This place was called the Devil's Blow-hole. The upper drop of the earring was named Forrester's Peninsula, and was joined to the mainland by another isthmus called East Bay Neck. Forrester's Peninsula was an almost impenetrable thicket growing to the briuk of a perpendicular cliff of basalt. Eaglehawk-Neck was the door to the prison, and it was kept bolted. On the narrow strip of land was built a guard-house, where soldiers from the barrack on the mainland relieved each other night and day ; and on stages, set out in the water on either side, watch-dogs were chained. The station officer was charged "to pay especial attention to the feeding and care" <d these UMfol blasts, bsmgonlsnd "towport

to the Commandant whenever any one of them became useless." It may be added that the Bay was not innocent of sharks. Westward from Eaglehawk-Neck and Woody Island lay the dreaded Coal Mines. Sixty of 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. The wild and mountainous character of the peninsula offered peculiar advantages to the signalmen. On the summit of the hill which overlooked the guard tower of the settlement was a gigantic gum-tree etuinp, upon the top of which was plaeed 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 the peninsula. Thus the settlement communicated with Mount Arthur, Mount Arthur with One-tree Hill, One-tree Hill with Mount Communication, and Mount Communi cation with the Coal Mines. On the other side, the signals would run thus—the settlement to Signal Hill, Signal Hill to Woody Island, Woody Island to Eaglehawk. Did a prisoner escape from the Coal Mines, the guard at Eaglehawk- Neck could be aroused, and the whole island informed of the "bolt" in less than twenty minutes. With these advantages of nature and art, the prison was held to be the most secure in the world. Colonel Arthur reported to the Home Government that the spot which bore bis name was a " natural penitentiary." The worthy disciplinarian probably took as a personal com pliment the polite forethought of the Almighty, in thus considerately providing for the carrying out of the celebrated " Regulations for Convict Discipline,."

Chapter XXI. A VISIT OF INSPECTION, O*K afternoon the ever-active semaphore* 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 make a progress through the stations, and it behoved the keepers of the Natural Peni tentiary to produce their Penitents in good case. Burgess was in high spirits at finding so con genial a soul selected for the task of reporting upon him. "It's only a nominal thing, old man," Frere said to his old comrade, when they met. "That parson has made meddling, and they want to close his mouth." "I am only glad to have the opportunity of showing you and Mrs. Frere the place," returned Burgess. "I must try and make yo«r stay as pleasaut as I can, though I'm afraid that Mrs. Frere will not find much to amuse her." "Frankly, Captain Burgess," said Sylvia, "I would rather have gone straight to Sydney. My husband, however, was obliged to come, and, of course, I accompanied him." "You will not have much society," said Meekin, who, necessarily, was one of the wel coming party. " Mrs. Datchett, the wife of one of our stipendiaries, is the only lady here, and I hope to have the pleasure of making you acquainted with her this evening at the Com mandant's. Mr. MoNab, 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 as successful as I could wish." "You wretched old bachelor," says Frere, "you should get married, like me." M Ah I" said Burgess, with a bow, "that would be difficult." Sylvia was compelled to smile at the compli ment, made in the presence of some twenty prisoners, who were carrying the various trunks and packages up the hill, and remarked that the said prisoners grinned—so to speak—with their eyes at 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." " Nonsense!" says Maurice, pettishly. " He's a good fellow enough. Besides, I've seen the doctor's certificate. It's all a trumped-up story. loan't understand your absurd sympathy with prisoners." "Don't they sometimes deserve sympathy?" " No, certainly not—a set of lying scoundrels. You are always whining ovr r them, Sylvia, I don't like it, and I've told you before about it" Sylvia said nothing. Maurice was often guilty of these small brutalities, and she had learnt that the best way to meet them was by silence. Unfortunately, silence did not mean indifference, for the reproof was unjust, and nothing stings a woman's finer sense like an injustice. Burgess had prepared a feast, and the M Society" of Port Arthur was present. Father Flaherty, the Reverend Meekin, Doctor Mackle 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 Macklewain, with a sort of pride. " That picture of the ' Prisoner of Chillon' yonder was painted by him, A very meritorious production, is itnotr "I've got the plaoe fall of curiosities," said Burgees; M quite a collection. I'll show them to you to-morrow. Those napkin rings were made by a prisoner." "Ahl" cries Frere, taking up the daintily carved bone, " very neat!" "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." "We will go down to the Neck to-morrow or next day, Mrs. Frere," said Burgees, "and you shall see the Blow-hole. It is a curious place." 11 Is it far r asked Sylvia. "Oh no! We shall go in the train." 44 The train !" " Yes—don't look so astonished. You'll tee H to-morrow. Oh, you Hobart Town ladies don't know what we can do here." "What about this Kirkland busintsa?" Frere asked. " I suppose I can have half-an-hour with you in the munuag, and take the deposition* V

"Any time yon like, my dear fellow" sayi Burgess. " It's all the aame to me." " / don't waut to make more fuu than I can help," Prere said apologetically—the dinner had been good—"but I 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 I want Mm Frere to see Point Puer." " Where the boys are V asked Sylvia. "Exactly. Nearly three hundred of 'em. We'll 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—l don't take the interest in these things that .1 ought, perhaps. They are very dreadful to me." "Nonsense 1" cries bluff Frere, with a scowL " We'll come, Burgess, of course." So the next two days were devoted to tight* seeing. Sylvia was taken through the Hospital and the Workshops, shown the semaphores, and shut up, by laughing Maurice, in a " dark cell." Her husband and Burgess seemed to regard the prison as some tame animal, whom they could handle at their leisure, and whose 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. Maurice penetrated everywhere, questioned the prisoners, jested with the jailen, even, in the munificence of his heart, bestowed tobacco on the sick. With such grateful rattlings of dry bones,£h*y got by-and-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 twelve year*, had jumped off the high rock and drowned himself 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 he could by any possibility have brought the oorpse of poor little Peter Brown to life again, he would have soundly whipped it fer its impertinence. "It is most unfortunate," he said to Frerft as they stood in the cell where the little body w'.m laid, " that it should have happened to-day.'' "Oh," says Frere, frowning down upon the young face that seemed to smile at him. "It ean't be helped. I know those young devils. They'll do it out of spite. What sort of a character hod he ?" " Very bad.—Johnson, the book." Johnson bringing it, the two saw Peter Brown's iniquities set down in the neatest of running hand, and the record of his punishments ornamented in quite an artistio way with flourishes of red ink. " 20th November, disorderly conduct, 12 lashes. 24th November, insolence to hospital attendant, diet reduced. 4th December, stealing cap from another prisoner, 12 lashes. 15th December, absenting himself at roll call, two days' cells. 28rd December, insolence and insubordination, two days' cells. Bth January, insolence and insubordination, 12 lashes. 20th January, inso* lence and insubordination, 12 lashed. 22nd February, insolence and insubordination, 12 lashes and one week's solitary. 6th March, insolence and insubordination, 20 lashes." " That was the last ?" asked Frere. " Yes, sir," says Johnson. " And then he—hum—did it ?" " Just so, sir. That was the way of it" Just so! The magnificent System starved and tortured a child of twelve until he killed himself. That was the 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 the cells and the constables and the little yard where they gave their " twenty lashes." Sjlvia shuddered at the array of faces. From the stolid nineteen-years old booby of the Kentish hop fields, to the wieeneri, shrewd, ten-years-old Bohemian of the London streets, all degrees and grades 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," said, or is reported to have said, the 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 stood up and 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 saw the church, and went everywhere out into the room wbere the body of Peter Brown, aged twelve, lay starkly on its wooden bench, staring at the gaol roof which was between it and Heaven. Just outside this room Sylvia met with a little adventure. Meekin had stopped behind, and Burgess, being suddenly summoned for some official duty, Frere had gone with him, leaving his wife to rest on a bench that, placed at the summit of the cliff, overlooked the sea. While resting thus, she became aware of another presence, and, turning her head, beheld a small boy, with a cap in one hand and a hammer in the other. The appearance of the little creature, clad in s 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. u What is it, you mite T asked Sylvia. "We thought you might have seen him, mum," says the little figure, opening its blue eyes with wonder at the kindness of the tone. "Him! WhomT " Cranky Brown, mum," returned the child 5 "him as did it this morning. Me and Billy knowed him, mum ; be was a mate of ours, and we wanted to know if he looked happy." " What do you mean, child ?" said she> with a strange terror at her heart; and then, filled with pity at the aspect of the little bung, ah* drew him to her with sudden womanly ilsiliini. andtisMdhim.

He looked up at her with joyful surprise. <• Oh The said. Sylvia kissed him again. "Doesnobody ever kin you, poor little man ?" •aid »he. " Mother uied to," was the reply, " but she's at home. Oh, mum," with a sudden crimsoning of the little face, " may I fetch Billy V And taking courage from the bright young face, he gravely marched to an 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 babiett" she cried. And then, forgetting that she was a lady, dressed in silk and lace, she fell on her knees in the dust, and, folding the friendless pair in her arms, wept over them. "What is the matter, Sylvia f 1 said Frere, when he oame up. " You've been crying." "Nothing, Maurice; at least, I will tell you by-and-by." So, when they were alone that evening, she told him of the two boys, and he laughed. "Artful little humbugs," he said, and sup ported his arguments by so many illustrations of the precocious wickedness of juvenile felons, that his wife was half convinced against her will. • » » • » Unfortunately, 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. "Will it hurt much, Tommy?" said Billy, who was not so courageous. "Not so much as a whipping." " I'm afraid ! Oh, Tom, it's so deep ! Don't leave me, Tom!" The bigger boy took his little handkerchief from his neok, and with it bound his own left hand to his companion's right "Now I can't leave you." "What was it the lady that kissed us said, Tommy!" "Lord, have pity of them two fatherless children!" repeated Tommy. "Let's say it, Tom." And so the two babies knelt down on the brink of the cliff, and, raising the bound hands together, looked up at the iky, and ungrammati cally said, " Lord, have pity on we two fatherless ehildien!" And then they kissed each other, and "did it." The intelligence, transmitted by the ever active semaphore, reached the Commandant in the midst of dinner, and in his agitation, he blurted it out. " These are the 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 Meektn, piously. "Mr. Meekint How can you talk like that! Poor little creatures! On, it's horrible! Maurice, take me away." And she bunt into a passion of weeping. " / can't help it, mam," says Burgess, rudely, ashamed. "It ain't my fault" " She's nervous," says Frere, leading her away. "You must excuse her. Come and lie down, dearest" " I will not stop here longer," said she. " Let us go to-morrow. 'rWe ean't," said Frere. " Oh, yes, we can. I insist Maurioe, if you love me, take me away." "Well," says Maurioe, moved by her evident grief, "I'll try." He spoke to Burgess. " Burgess, this matter has unsettled my wife, so that she wants to leave at once. I must visit the Neok, you know. How can we do it!" "Well," mj* 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 be best," said Frere. "We'll start to-morrow, please, and if you'll give me a pen and ink I'll be obliged." " I hope you are satisfied," said Burgess. " Oh, quite," said Frere. " I must recommend more careful supervision at Point Puer though. It will never do to have these young blackguards- . slipping through our fingers in this way." So a neatly written statement of the occur rence was appended to the ledgers in which the names of William Tomkins and Thomas Grove were entered. Macklewain held an inquest, and nobody troubled about them any more. Why should they ? The prisons of London were full of such Tommys and Billys. • • » » » Bylvia passed through the rest of her journey in • sort of dream of terror. The incident of the children had shaken her nerves, and she longed to be away from the place and its associ ations. Even Eaglehawk Neck, with its curious dog stages and it* " natural pavement," did not interest her. Honest McNab's blandishments were wearisome. She shuddered as she gated into the boiling abyss of the Blow-hole, and shook with fear as the Commandant's "train" rattled over the dangerous tramway that wound across the precipice to Long Bay. The " train" was composed of a number of low waggons pushed and dragged up the steep inclines by convicts, who drew tihemselves up in the waggons when the trucks dashed down the slope, and acted as drags. Sylvia felt degraded at being thus drawn by human beings, and trembled when the lash cracked and the convicts answered to the sting—like cattle. Moreover, there was among the foremost of these beasts of burden a face that she seemed to know—a face that had dimly haunted her girlhood, and only lately vanished from her dreams. This face looked on her—she thought—with bitterest loathing and scorn, and she felt relieved when at the midday halt its owner waa ordered to fall out from the rest, and was with four others re-chained for the homeward journey. Frere, struck with the appearance of the five, said, " By Jove, Poppet, there are our old friends Rex and Dawes and the others. They won't let 'em come all the way, because they are such a desperate lot, they might make a rush for it" Bylvia comprehended it bow: the face was the face of Daw«s; and as

she looked after him, she saw him suddenly raise his hands above his head with a motion that terrified her. She seemed to dimly remember some place or time when that action, or one like it, liad startled her. She felt for an instant a great shock of pitiful recollection. Staring at the group, she strove to recall when and now Rufus Dawes, the wretch from whose clutches her husband had saved her, had ever merited her pity, but her olouded memory could not complete the picture, and as the waggons swept round a curve, and the group disappeared, she awoke from a reverie with a sigh. " Maurice," she whispered, " how is it that the sight of 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 waa wrong to have insisted on your coming," he said, when (standing on the deck of the Sydney-bound vessel the next morning) they watched the "Natural Penitentiary" grow dim in the distance. "You were not strong enough." • • • » • " Dawes," said John Rex, that same evening, seeming to take up the thread of the conversation where he had dropped it. " You love that girl I Now that you've seen her another man's wife, and have been harnessed like a beast to drag him along the road, while he held her in his arms!—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, be a man: join us." "No!" "It is your only chance. Why refuse it ? D» you want to live here all your life?" " I want no sympathy from you or any 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, as he went. " Frere has put a Btopper upon that, you'll find." He spoke truly. , Nothing more was heard of' it, only that, some six months 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 be made), and which informed him that the " Comptroller-General of the convict department had decided that further enquiry concerning the death of the prisoner named in the margin was unnecessary;" and that some gentleman with an utterly illegible signature " had the honor to be his moj|t obedient servant" [TO BX CONTINUED.)