|Chapter Number||BOOK IV II|
|Chapter Title||THE LOST HEIR.|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||His Natural Life|
His Natural Life
BOOK IV. CHAPTER II. THE LOST HEIR.
BY MARCUS CLARKE.
THE lost son of Sir Richard Devine had returned to England, and made claim to his name and fortune. That is to say that John Rex had successfully carried out the scheme by which he
had usurped the rights of his old convict comrade. Smoking hia cigar in his bachelor lodgings, or pausing in a calculation concerning a race, John Rex often wondered at the strange ease with which he had carried out so monstrous and seemingly difficult an imposture. Landed in Sydney by the vessel which Sarah Purfoy had sent to save him, he found himself • slave to a bondage scarcely less galling than that from which he had escaped—the bondage of enforced companionship with an unloved woman. The opportune death of one of her assigned servants had enabled Sarah Purfoy to instal the escaped convict in his room. In the strange state of society which prevailed of necessity in New South Wales at that period, it was not unusual for assigned servants to marry among the free settlers, and when it was heard that Mrs. Purfoy, the widow of a whaling captain, had married John Carr, her storekeeper, transported for embezzlement, and with two years of his sentence yet to run, no one expressed surprise. Indeed, when, the year after, John Carr blossomed as an " expiree," master of a fine wife and a fine fortune, there were many about him who would have made his existence in Australia pleasant enough. But John Bex had no notion of remaining longer than he could help, and oeasslessly Bought means of escape from this second prison-house. For a long time his search was unsuccessful. Much as she loved the scoundrel, Sarah Purfoy did not scruple to toll him that she had bought him, and regarded him as her property. He knew that if he made any attempt to escape from his marriage-bonds, the woman who had risked so much to save him would not hesitate to deliver him over to the authorities, and state how the opportune death of fever-stricken John Carr had enabled her to give name and employment to absconded John Rex. He had thought once that the fact of her being his wife would prevent her from giving evidence against him, and that he could thus defy her. But she reminded him that a word to Blunt would be all (sufficient. " I know you don't care for me now, John," she said, with grim complacency; "butyour life is in my hands, and it you desert me I will bring you to the gallows." In vain, in his secret eagerness to be rid of her, he raged and chafed. He was tied hand and foot. She held his money, and her shrewd wit had more than doubled it. She was all powerful, and he could but wait until her death or some lucky accident would rid* him of her, and leave him free to foHow out the Bcheme he had matured. " Once rid of her," he thought, in his solitary rides over the station of which he was the nominal owner, " and the rest is easy. I shall return to Englaud with a plausible story of shipwreck, and shall doubtless be received with open arms by the dear mother from whom I have been bo long parted. Richard Devine shall have his own again." To be rid of her was not so easy. Twice he tried to escape from his thraldom, and was twice brought back. " I have bought you, John," his partner had laughed, " and you don't get away from me. Surely you can be content with these comforts. You were content with less once. I am not so ugly and repulsive, am I ?" "I am home-sick," John Carr retorted. "Let us go to England, Sarah." She tapped her strong white fingers sharply on the table. "Oo to Kngland ? No, no. That is what you would like to da You would be master there. You would take my money, and leave me to starve. I know you, Jack. We stop here, dear. Here, where I can hand you over to the first trooper as an escaped convict if you are not kind to me." " She-devil!" "Oh, I don't mind your abuse. Abuse me all night if you like, Jack. Beat me if you will, but don't leave me, or it will be the worse for you." "You are a strange woman," he cries, in sudden petulant admiration. "To love such a villian ? I don't know that. I love you because you are a villain. A better man would be wearisome to such as I am." "I wish to Heaven I'd never left Port Arthur. Better there than this dog's life." "Oo back, then. You have only to say the word!" And so they would wrangle, she glorying in her power over the man who had so long tri umphed over her, and he consoling himself with the hope that the day was not far distant which should bring him at once freedom and fortune. One day the chance came to him. Hia wife was ill, and the ungrateful scoundrel Btole five hundred pounds, and taking two horses reached Sydney, and obtained passage in a vessel bound for Rio. Once escaped from thraldom, he proceeded to play for the great stake of his life with the utmost caution. He went to the Continent and lived for weeks together in the towns where Richard Devine might possibly have resided, familiarising himself with streets, making the acquaintance of old inhabitants, drawing into his own hands all loose ends of information which could help to knit the meshes of his net the closer. Such loose ends were not numerous ; the prodigal had been too poor, too insignificant, to leave Btrong memories behind him. Yet Rex knew well by wbat strange accidents the deceit of an assumed identity is often penetrated. Some old comrade or companion of the lost heir might suddenly appear with keen questions as to the memory of trifles which would cut hia flimsy web to shreds, as easily as the sword of Saladin divided the floating silk. He could not
* The copyright of " His Natural Life" has been pur ohawd by the proprietors of Tht Queaulandtr from Mr. liarciu CUrke.
afford to ignore the most insignificant circum stances. With consummate skill, piece by piece he built up the story which was to deceive the poor mother, and to make him possessor of one of the largest private fortunes in England. This was the tale he hit upon. He had been saved from the burning Hydaspes by a vessel bound for Rio. Ignorant of the death of Sir Richard, and prompted by the pride which was known to be a leading feature of bis character, he had determined net to return until fortune should have bestowed upon him wealth at least equal to the inheritance from which he had been ousted. In Spanish America he had striven to accumulate that wealth in vain. As vaquero, traveller, speculator, sailor, he had toiled for fourteen years, and had failed. Worn out and penitent, he had returned home to beg a corner of English earth in which to lay his weary bones. The tale was plausible enough, and at the telling of it he was armed at all points. There was little fear that the navigator of the captured Osprey, the man who had lived in Chili and " cut out" cattle on the Currum Plains, would prove lacking in knowledge of riding, seaman ship, or Spanish customs. Moreover, he had determined upon a course of action which showed his knowledge of human nature. The will under which Richard Devine inherited was dated in 1807, aad had been made evidently when the testator was in the first hopeful glow of paternity. By its terms Lady Ellinor Devine was to receive a life interest of £3000 a year in her husband's property—which was placed in the hands of two trustees —until her eldest son died or attained the age of 25 years. When either of these events occurred, the property was to be realised, Lady Ellinor receiving a sum of £100,000, which, invested in Consols for her benefit, would, according to mercantile Sir Richard's, prudent calculation, exactly compen sate for her loss of interest, the remainder going absolutely to the son if living, to his children or next of kin if dead. The trustees appointed were Lady Ellinor's father, Colonel Wotton Wade and Mr. Silas Quaid, of the firm of Purkiss and Quaid, Thaives Inn, Sir Richard's solicitors. Colonel Wade dying, appointed, with Quaid's consent, his own son, Mr. Francis Wade, to act in his stead. When old bachelor Quaid died, the firm of Pukiss and Quaid (represented in the Quaid branch of it by a smart London bred nephew) declined farther responsibility ; and, with the consent of Lady Ellinor, Francis Wade continued alone in his trust Sir Riohard's sister and her husband Anthony Frere of Bristol, were long ago dead, and, as we know, their representative, Maurice Frere, content at last in the lot that fortune had sent him, had given up all thought, of meddling with his uncle's business. John Rex, therefore, in the person of the returned Richard, had but two persons to satisfy, his putative uncle, Mr. Francis Wade, and bis putative mother, Lady Ellinor Devine. This he found to be the easiest task possible* Francis Wade was an invalid virtuoso, .who detested business, and whose ambition was to be known as a man of taste. The possessor of a small independent income, he had resided at North End ever Bince his father's death, and had succeeded in making the place a Bort of minia ture Strawberry HilL When he acceded to his sister's urgent wish, and assumed the sole re sponsibility of the estate, he put all the floating capital into 3 per cents., and was content to see the interest accumulate. Lady Ellinor had never recovered the shock of the circumstances attend ing Sir Richard's death, and, clinging to the belief in her son's existence, chose to regard herself as the mere guardian of his interests, ready to be displaced at any moment by bis sudden return. The retired pair lived thus together, and spent in charity and brie-d'brae about a fourth of their mutual income. By both of them the return of the wanderer was hailed with a positive delight. To the Lady Ellinor it meant the wonderful realisation of a life-long hope which had become part of her nature. To Francis Wade it meant the blessed relief from a responsibility which his simplicity always secretly loathed, the responsibility of looking after another person's money. "I shall not think of interfering with the arrangements which you have made, my dear uncle," said Mr. John Rex on the first night of his reception. "It would be most ungrateful in me to do so. My wants are very few, and can easily be supplied. I will see your lawyers some day and settle it." " See them ab once, Richard, see them at once. I am no man of business you kuow, but I think you will find all right." But Richard put off the visit from day to day. He desired to have as little to do with lawyers as possible. He had resolved upon his course of action. He would get money from his mother for immediate needs, and when that mother died he would assert full rights. "Myrough life has unfitted me for drawing-rooms, dear mother," he said. "Do not let there be a display about my return. Give me a corner to smoke my pipe and lam happy." Lady Devine, with a loving tender pity, for which John Rex could not altogether account, consented, and "Mr. Richard" soon came to be regarded as a martyr to circumstances, a man conscious of bis own imperfections, and one whose imperfections were therefore to be lightly dwelt upon. So the re turned prodigal had his own suite of rooms, his own servants, his own bank account, drank, smoked, and was merry. For five or Bix months he thought himself in Paradise. Then he began to find his life in sufferably weary. The burden of hypocrisy is very heavy to bear, and Rex was compelled to perpetually bear it. His mother demanded all his time. She hung upon his lips ; she made him repeat fifty times the story of his wander ings. She was never tired of kissing him, of weeping over him, of thanking him for the " sacrifice" he had made for her. "We promised never -to speak of it more, Richard," the poor lady said one day, " but if my life-long love can make atonement for the wrong I have done you " "Hush, dearest mother," said John Rex, who did not in the least comprehend what it was all about, " Let us Bay no more." Lady Ellinor wept quietly for a while and then went away, leaving the man who pretended to be her son much bewildered and a little frightened. There was some secret between Lady Devine and
her aon the which he had not fathomed. The mother did not again refer to it, and gaining courage as the days went on, Rex grew bold enough to forget all fears. In the first stages of his deception he had been timid and cautious. Then the soothing influence of comfort, respect, and security came upon him and almost refined him. He began to feel almost as he had felt when Mr. Lionel Crofton was alive. The sensation of being ministered unto by a loving woman, who kissed him night and morning, calling him " son,"—of being regarded with admiration by rustics, with envy by respectable folk—of being deferred to in all things—was novel and pleasing. They were so good to him that he felt at times more than halt inclined to confess all, and leave his case in the hands of the folk he had injured. Yet—he thought—such a course would be absurd. It would result in no benefit to any one, simply in misery to himself. The true Richard Devine was buried fathoms deep in the greedy ocean of convict-discipline, and the waves of innumerable punishments washed over him. John Rex flattered himself that he had usurped the name of one who was in fact no living man, and that, unless one could rise from the dead, Richard Devine would never return to accuse him. So flattering himself, he gradually became bolder, and by blow degrees suffered his true nature to appear. He was violent to the servants, cruel to dogs and horses, often wantonly coarse in speech, and brutally regardless of the feelings of others. Governed, like most women, solely by her feelings, Lady Devine had at first been prodigal of her affection to the man she believed to be her injured son. But his rash acts of selfishness, his habits of grossneu and self-indulgence gradually disgusted her. For some time she—poor woman—fought against this feeling, endeavoring to overcome her in stincts of distaste, and arguing with herself that to thus permit a detestation of her unfortunate son to arise in her heart was almost criminal ; but she was at length forced to succumb. For the first year or so, Mr. Richard conducted himself with great propriety, but as his circle of acquaintance became enlarged,and his confidence in himself increased, he now and then forgot the part he was playing. One day Mr. Richard went out to pass the day with a Bporting friend only too proud to see at his table so wealthy and wonderful a man. Mr. Richard drank a good deal more than was good for him, and came home in a condition of disgusting drunkenness. I say disgusting, because some folk have the art of getting drunk in a humorous method, that robs intoxication of half it* grossness. A man of true gentlemanly instincts, when owning a brain not weakened by habitual indulgence, never displays those instincts to better advan tage, than when overtaken in his cups. With John Rex, to be drunk was to be himself—coarse and cruel. Francis Wade was away, and Lady Devine had retired for the night, when the dogcart deposited "Mr. Richard." The virtuous butler-porter, who opened the door, received a blow in the chest and a demand for " Brandy I" The groom was cursed, and ordered to inßtant oblivion. Mr. Richard stumbled into the dining-room—veiled in that dim light which the servants considered necessary for a dining-room which was, as it were, " Bitting up " for its master—and ordered " More candles I" The candles were brought, after some delay, and Mr. Richard amused him self by spilling their meltings upon the carpet. "Let's have 'luminashon!" be cried; and climbing with muddy boots upon the costly chairs, scrap ing with his feet the polished table, attempted to fix the wax in the silver sconces, with which the antiquarian tastes of Mr. Francis Wade had adorned the room. " You'll break the table, sir," said the servant. "D— the table I" said Rex. "Buy 'nother table. What's table t'you ?" " Oh, certainly, sir," replied the man. "Oh c'ert'nly! Why c'ertn'lyt What do you know about it ?" " Oh, certainly not, sir," replied the man. "If I had—stockwhip here—l make you—hie —drip! Whar's brandy?" " Here, Mr. Richard." " Have some I Good brandy ! Send for ser vants and have dance. D'you dance, Tomkins ?" " No, Mr. Richard." " Then you shall dance now, Tomkins. Yon'll dance upon nothing one day, Tomkins i Here ! Halloo ! Mary ! Susan ! Janet I William ! Hey ! Halloo!" And he began to shout and blas pheme. " Don't you think it's time for bed, Mr. Richard ?" one of the men ventured to suggest. " No!" roared the ex-convict, emphatically, " I don't! I've gone to bed at daylight far too long. We'll have luminashon ! I'm master here. Master everything. Richard 'Vine's my name. Isn't it, Tomkins, you villain?" " Oh-h-h ! Ye-yes, Mr. Richard." " Course it is, and make you know it, too. I'm no painter-picture, crockery chap. I'm genelman I Genelman seen the world! Knows what's what. Thereain't much I ain't fly to. Wait till the old woman's dead, Tomkins, and you shall see I" More swearing, and awful threats of what the inebriate would do when he was in possession. " Bring up some brandy t" Crash goes the bottle in the fireplace. " Light up the droring-rooms ; we'll have dance ! I'm drunk ! what's that? If you'd gone through what I have, you'd be glad to be drunk. I look a fool" —this to his image in another glass. " I ain't though, or I wouldn't be here. Curse you, you grinning idiot"—crash goes his fist through the mirror—don't grin at me. Play up there 1 Where's old woman ? Fetch her out and let's dance !" " Lady Devine has gone to bed, Mr. Richard," cries Tomkina, aghast, attempting to bar the passage to the upper regions. " Then let'B have her out o' bed," cries John Rex, plunging to the door. "Tomkins, attempting to restrain him, is instantly hurled into a cabinet of rare china, and the drunken brute essays the stairs. The other servants seize him. He curses and fights like a demon. Doors bang open, lights gleam, maids hover, horrified, asking if it's " fire," and begging to be " put out." The whole house is in an uproar; in the midst of which Lady Devine appears, and looks down upon the scene. Rex catches sight of her, and bunts into blasphemy.
She withdraw!, strangely terrified; and th« animal, torn, bloody,' and blasphemous, is at last got into his own apartment*, the groom, whoee face ha» been seriously damaged in the encounter, bestowing a hearty kick on the prostrate carcass at parting. The next morning, Lady Devine declined to see her son, though he sent a special apology to her. " I am afraid I was a little OTercome by via* last night," said he to Tomkina. " Well, you was, sir," says Tomkina. "Ah ! A very little wine makes me quite HI, Tomkina, Did Ido anything very violent t" 41 You was rather obstropolous, Mr. Richard.** " Here's a sovereign for you, Tomkins. Did I say anything ? " You cussed a good deal, Mr. Richard. Most gents do when they've bin—hum—dining oat, Mr. Richard." " What a fool I am," thought John Rn,uh« dressed. "I shall spoil everything if I don't take care." He was right. He was going the right way to spoil everything. However, for this bout he made amends-—money soothed the ser vants' hall, and apologies and tint* won Lady Ellinor's forgiveness. " I cannot yet conform to English habits, my dear mother," said Rex, "and feel at times out of place in your quiet home. I think that—if you can spare me a little money—l should like to travel." Lady Ellinor—with a sense of relief for which she blamed herself—assented, and, supplied with letters of credit, John Rex went to Paris. Fairly started in the world of dissipation sad excess, be began to grow reckless. When a young man he had been singularly free from the vice of drunkenness ; turning his sobriety—a* he -did all his virtues—to vicious account, but he had learnt to drink deep in the loneliness of the bush. Master of a large sum of money, he had intended to spend it as he would have spent it in hi* younger days. He had forgotten that sine* his death and burial the world had not grown younger. It was possible that Mr. Lionel Oof ton might have discovered some of the old set of fools and knaves with whom he had once mixed. Many of them were alive and flourishing. Mr. Lemoine, for instance, was respectably married in his native island of Jersey, and had already threatened to disinherit a nephew who showed a tendency to rake. But Mr. Lemoine would not care to recognise Mr. Lionel Crofton, the gambler and rake, in bis proper person, and it was not expedient that his acquaintance should be made in the person of Richard Devine, lest by some unlucky chance he should recognise the cheat. Thus poor Lionel Crofton was compelled to lie still in his grave, and Mr. Richard Devine, trusting to a big beard and more burly figure, to keep his secret, was compelled to begin his friendship with Mr. Lionel's whilom friends all over again. But in Paris and London there were plenty of people ready to become hail-fellow-well-met with any gentleman possessiug money. Mr. Richard De vine's strange history was secretly whispered in many a boudoir and club-room. The history, however, was not always told in the same way. It was generally known that Lady Devine had a son who, being supposed to be dead, had sud denly returned, to the confusion of his family. But the manner of his return was told in many ways. In the first plaoe, Mr. Francis Wade, well known though he was, did not move in that brilliant circle which had lately received his nephew. There are in England many men of fortune as large as that left by the old ship builder, who are positively unknown in that little world which is supposed to contain all the men worth knowing. Francis Wade was a man of mark in his own coterie. Among'artists, Me-A brae sellers, antiquarians, and men of letters, ho was known as a patron and a man of taste. His bankers and his lawyers knew him to be of inde pendent fortune, but as he neither mixed, in politics, " went into society," betted, or specu lated in merchandise, there were several large sections of the community who had never heard his name. Many respectable money-lenders would have required "further information" before they would discount his bills ; and "club men" in general—save perhaps those ancient quidnuncs who know everybody from Adam downwards—had but little acquaintance with him. The advent of Mr. Richard Devine—a coarse person of unlimited means—had therefore chief influence upon that sinister circle of male and female rogues who form the " half-world." They began to enquire concerning his antece dents, and, failing satisfactory information, to invent lies concerning him. It was generally believed that he was a black sheep, a man whose family kept him out of the way, but who was, in a pecuniary sense, " good" for a considerable sum. Thus taken upon trust, Mr. Richard Devine mixed in the very best of bad society, and had no lack of agreeable friends to help him to spend his money. So admirably did he spend it, that Francis Wade became at last alarmed at the fre quent drafts, and urged his nephew to bring his affairs to a final settlement. Richard Devine—in Paris, or Homburg, or London, or elsewhere— could never be got to attack business, and Mr. Francis Wade grew more and more anxious. The poor gentleman positively became ill through the anxiety consequent upon his nephew's dissipa tions. " I wish, my dear Richard, that you would let me know what to do," he wrote. " I wish, my dear uncle, that you would do what you think best," was bis nephew's reply. " Will you let Purkiss and Quaid look into the business ?" said the badgered Francis. " I hate lawyers," said Richard. "Do what you think right." Mr. Wade began to repent of his too easy taking of matters in the beginning. Not that he had a suspicion of Rex, but that he remembered that Dick was always a loose fish. The even current of the dilettante's life became disturbed. He grew pale and hollow eyed. His digestion was impaired. He ceased to take that interest in china which the importance of that article de manded. In a word, he grew despondent as to his fitness for his mission in life. Lady Ellinor saw a great change in her brother. He became morose, peevish, excitable. She went privately to the family doctor, who shrugged his shoulders. "There is no danger," said he, "if he is kept
quiet'; keep him quiet, and be will lire for yean, btU his father died of heart disease, you know." Lady Ellinor, upon this, wrote a long letter to Mr. Richard, who was at Paris, repeated the doctor's opinion, and begged turn to come over at once. Mr. Richard replied that some hone racing matter of great importance occupied his attention, but that he would be at his rooms in Clarges-strect (he had long established a town house) on the 14th, and would •' go into matters." " I have lost a good deal of money lately, my dear mother," said Mr. Richard, "and the present will be a good opportunity to make a final settlement." The fact was, that John Rex, now three years in undisturbed possession, con sidered that the moment had arrived for the execution of his grand coup —the carrying off at one swoop of the whole of the fortune he hod gambled for. Chaftsb 111. Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. Jamet North. Mat 12.—Landed to-day at Norfolk Island, and have been introduced to my new abode, situated Mine 1100 miles from Sydney. A solitary rock in the tropical ocean, the island seems, indeed, a fit place of banishment. It is •bout seven miles long and four broad. The most remarkable natural object is of course the Norfolk Island pine, which rears its stately head • hundred feet above the surrounding forest. The appearance of the place is very wild and beautiful, briuging to my mind the description of the romantic islands of the Pacific, which old geographers dwell upon so fondly. Lemon, limo, and guava trees abound, also oranges, grains, figs, bananas, peaches, pomegranates, and pineapples. The climate just now is hot and muggy. The approach to Kingstown—as the barracks and huts are called—v properly difficult A long low reef—probably originally a portion of the barren rocks of Kepean and Philip Islands, which rise east and west of the settlement —fronts the bay and obstructs the entrance of vessels. We wer» landed in boats through an opening in this reef, and our Teasel stands on and off within signalling distance. The surf washes almost againstthe walls of the military road-way that lead* to the barracks. The social aspect of the plaoe fills me with horror. There seems neither discipline nor order. On our way to the Com mandant's house we passed a low dilapidated building where the men were at work grinding maise, and at the sight of us they commenced whistling, hooting, and shouting, using the most disgusting language. Three warders were near, but no attempt was made to check this un seemly exhibition. May 14.—1 sit down to write with about as much reluctance as I would sit down to relate my experience of a journey through a sewer. First to the prisoners' barracks, which stand on an area of about three acres, surrounded by a lofty wall. A road runs between this wall and the sea. The barracks are three storeys high, and hold 790 men (let me remark here that there are more than 2000 men on the island.) There are twenty-two wards in this place. Each ward runs the depth of the building, viz., eighteen feet, and in consequence is simply a funnel for hot or oold air to blow through. When the ward is filled the men's heads lie under the windows. The largest ward contains 100 men, the smallest fifteen. They sleep in hammocks, slung close to each other as on board ship, in two lines, with a passage down the centre. There is a wards man to each ward. He is selected by the prisoners, and is generally, therefore, a man of the worst character. He is supposed to keep order, but of course he never attempts to do so ; indeed, as he is locked up in the ward every night from six o'olock in the evening until Bun rise, without light, it is possible that he might get maltreated did he make himself obnoxious. The barracks look upon the Barrack Square, which is filled with lounging prisoners. The windows of the hospital ward also look upon the Barrack Square, and the prisoners are in constant communication with the patients. The hospital is a low stone building, capable of containing about twenty men, and faces the beach. I placed my hands on the wall, and found it damp. An ulcerous prisoner said the dampness was owing to the heavy surf constantly rolling so close beneath the building. There are two gaols, the old and the new. The old gaol stands near the sea, close to the landing place. Outside it, at the door, is the Gallows. I touched it as I passed in. This engine is the first thing which greets the eyes of a newly-arrived prisoner. The Bew gaol is barely completed, is of a pentagonal shape, and has eighteen radiating cells of a pattern approved by some wiseacre in England, who thinks that to prevent a man seeing his fellow-men is not the way to send him mad. In the old gaol are twenty-four prisoners, all heavily ironed, awaiting trial by the visiting Commission, from Hobart Town. Some of these poor ruffians, having committed their offences just after the last sitting of the Commission, have already been in gaol upwards of eleven months ! At six o'clock we saw the men mustered. I read prayers before the muster, and was sur prised to find that some of the prisoners attended, while some strolled about the yard, whistling, singing, and joking. The muster is a farce. The prisoners are not mustered outside and then marched to their wards, but they rush into the barracks indiscriminately, and place themselves dressed or undressed id their hammocks. A convict sub-overseer then calls out the names, and somebody replies. If an answer is re turned to each name, all is considered right. The lights are taken away, and save for a few minutes at eight o'clock, when the good-conduct men are let in, the ruffians are left to their own devices until morning. Knowing what I know of the customs of convicts, my heart sickens when I in imagination put myself in the place of a newly-transported man, plunged from six at night until daybreak into that foetid den of worse than wild beasts. May 15.—There is a place enclosed between high walls adjoining the convict barracks, called the Lumber Yard. This is where the prisoners mess. It is roofed on two sides, and contains tables and benches. 600 men can mess here perhaps, but as 700 are always driven into it, it follows that the weakest men are compelled to sit on the ground. A more disorderly sight than this yard at meal times I never beheld. The cook-houses are adjoining it, and the men
bake their meal-bread there. Outside the cook house door the firewood is piled, and fires are made in all directions \>n the ground, round which sit the prisoners, frying their rations of fresh pork, baking their hominy cakes, chatting, and even smoking. ' The lumber yard is a sort of Alsatia, to which the hunted prisoner retires. I don't think that the boldest constable on the island would venture into that place to pick out a man from the 700. If he did go in I don't think he would come out again alive. May 16.—A sub-overseer, a man named Hankey, has been talking to me. He says that there are some forty of the oldest and worst prisoners who form what he calls the " Ring," and that the members-of this Ring are bound by an oath to support each other, and to avenge the punishment of any of their number. In proof of his assertion he instanced two cases of English prisoners who had refused to join in some crime, and had informed the Commandant of the proceedings of the " Ring." They were found in the morning strangled in their ham* mocks. An enquiry was held, but not a man out of the ninety in the ward would speak a word, I dread the task that is before me. How can I attempt to preach piety and morality to these men ? .How can I attempt even to Bave the less villainous ? May 17.—Visited the wards to-day, and re turned in despair. 'The condition of things is worse than I expected. It is not to be written. The newly .arrived English prisoners- -and some of their histories are most touching ones are insulted by the language and demeanor of the hardened miscreant* who are the refuse of Port Arthur and Cockatoo Island. The vilest crimes are perpetrated as jests. There are creatures who openly defy authority, whose language and conduct is such an was never before seen or heard out of Bedlam. There are men who are known to havemurdered their comrades,and who boast of it. With these the English farm laborer, the riotous and ignorant mechanic, the victim of perjury or mistake, are indiscriminately herded. With them are mixed Chinamen from Hongkong, the aborigines of New Holland, West Indian blacks, Greek*, Caffres, and Malays, soldiers for deser tion, idiots, madmen, pig atealere, and pick pockets. The dreadful place seems set apart for all that is hideous and vile in our common nature. In its recklessness, its insubordination, its filth,, and its despair, it realises to my mind the popular notion of hell. May 21.—Entered. to-day officially upon my duties as Religious Instructor at the Settlement. An occurrence took place this morning which shows the dangerous condition of the " Ring." I aocompained Mr. Pounce to the Lumber Yard, and, on our entry, we observed a man in the crowd round the cook-house deliberately smok ing. The Chief Constable of the Island—my old friend Troke, of Port Arthur—seeing that this exhibition attracted Pounce's notice, pointed out the man to an assistant. The assistant, Jacob Gimblett, advanced and desired the prisoner to surrender the pipe. The man plunged his hands into his pockets, and, with a gesture of the most profound contempt, walked away to that part of the mess-Bhed where the " Ring" congregate. " Take the scoundrel to gaol !" cries Troke. No one moved, but the man at the gate that leads through the carpenters' shop into the barracks, called to us to come out, Baying that the prisoners would never Buffer the man to be taken. Pounce, however, with more determina tion than I gave him credit for, kept his ground, and insisted that so flagrant a breach of discipline should not be suffered to pass unnoticed. Thus urged, Mr. Troke pushed through the crowd, and made for the spot whither the man had withdrawn himself. . The yard was now buzzing like a disturbed hive, and I momentarily expected that a rush would be made upon us. In a few moments the prisoner appeared, attended by, rather than in the custody of, the Chief Constable of the island. He advanced to the unlucky assistant constable, who was standing close to me, and asked, " What have you ordered me to gaol for V The man made some reply advising him to go quietly, when the convict raised his fist and deliberately felled the man to the ground. "You had better retire, gentlemen," says Troke. " I see them getting out their knives." We made for the gate, and the crowd closed in like a sea upon the two constables. I fully expected murder, but in a few moments Troke and Gimblett appeared, borne along by a mass of men, dusty, but unharmed, and having the convict between them. He sulkily raised a hand as he passed me, either to rectify the position of his straw hat, or to offer a tardy apology. A more wanton, unprovoked, and flagrant outrage than that of which this man was guilty I never witnessed. It is customary for " the old dogs," as the experienced convicts are called, to use the most opprobrious language to their officers, and to this a deaf ear is usually turned, but I never before Baw a man wantonly strike a constable. I fancy that the act was done out of bravado. Troke informed me that the pan's name is Rufu9 Dawea, and that he is the leader of the Ring, and considered the worst man on the island ; , that to secure him, he (Troke) was obliged to use the language of expostulation ; and that but for the presence of an officer accre dited by His Excellency, he dared not have acted as he had done. This is the same man, then, whom I injured at Port Arthur. Seven years of "discipline" don't seem to have done him much good. His sentence is "life"—a lifetime in this place! Troke says that he was the terror of Port Arthur, and that they sent him here when a " weeding" of the prisoners was mode. He has been here four years. Poor wretch I May 24.—After prayers, I saw Daweß. He was confined iv the Old Gaol, and seven others were in the cell with him. He came out at my request, and stood leaning against the door post. He was much changed from the man I remember. Seven years ago he was a stalwart, upright, handsome man. He has become a beetle-browed, sullen, slouching ruffian. His hair is gray, though he cannot be more than forty years of age, and his frame has lost that just proportion of parts which once made him almost graceful. His face has also grown like other convict faces—how hideously alike they
all are •—«nd, save for his black eyes and a pecnhar trick he has of compressing his lips, I should not have recognisedhim. Ho w habitual am and misery suffice to brutalise "the human lace divine!" I said but little, for the other prisoners _ were listening, eager, as it appeared to me, to witness my discomfiture. It is evident that KufusDawes has been accustomed to meet the ministrations of my predecessor with insolence. I spoke to him for a few minutes, only Baying how foolish it was to rebel against an authority superior in strength to himself. He did not answer, and the only emotion he evinced during the in terview was when I reminded him that we had met before. He shrugged one shoulder as if in pain or anger, and seemed about to speak, but casting his eyes upon the group in the cell, re lapsed into silence again. I must get speech with him alone. One can do nothing with a man if seven other devils worse than himself are locked up with him. I sent for Hankey and asked him about cells. He says that the gaol is crowded, to suffocation. " Solitary confinement" is a mere name. There are six men, each sentenced to solitary confine ment, in a cell together. This cell is called the " nunnery." It is small, and the six men were naked to the waist when I entered, the perspi ration pouring in streams off their naked bodies f It is disgusting to write of such things. June 26. —Pounce has departed in the Lady Franklin for Hobart Town, and it is rumored that we are to have a new commandant. The Lady Franklin is commanded by an old man named Blunt, a proteytot Frere's, and a fellow to whom I have taken one of my inexplicable and unreasoning dislikes. Saw Ruf us Dawes this morning. He still con tinues sullen and morose. His papers are very bad. He seems to be perpetually up for punish ment. lam informed that he and a man named Eastwood, nicknamed Jacky Jacky, glory in being the leaders of the " Ring," and that they openly avow themselves weary of life. Can it be that the unmerited flogging which the poor creature got at Port Arthur has aided, with other suffer ings, to bring him to this horrible state of mind? It is quite possible. Oh, James North, remem ber your own crime, and pray Heaven to let you redeem one soul at least, to plead for your own sinful one at the Judgment Seat June 30.—1 took a holiday this afternoon, and walked in the direction of Mount Pitt. The island lay at my feet like—as sings Mrs. Frere's favorite poet—" a summer isle of Eden lying in dark purple sphere of sea." Sophocles has the same idea in the PhUoeletet, but I can't quote it Note : I measured a pine twenty-three feet in circumference. I followed a little brook that runs from the hills, and winds through thick undergrowths of creeper and blossom, until it reaches a lovely valley surrounded by lofty trees, whose branches, linked together by the luxurious grape-vine, form an arching bower of bloomy verdure. Here stands the ruin of an old hut, formerly inhabited by the early settlers ; lemons, figs, and guavas are thick ; while amid the shrub and cane a large convolvulus is intertwined, and stars the green with its purple and crimson flowers. I Bat down here, and had a smoke. It seems that the former occupant of my rooms at the settlement read French ; for in searching for a book to bring with me—l never walk without a book—l found and pocketed a volume of Balzac It proved to be a portion of the Vie Privi series, and I stumbled upon a story called La Fautte Maitresse. With that calm belief in the Paris of his imagination—where Mfeoatf <was a politician, Nucingen a banker, Gobeeck a money-lender, and Vautrin a candidate for some such place as this —Balzac introduces me to a Pole by name Pat, who, loving the wife of his friend, devotes himself to watch over her happiness and her husband's interest. The husband gambles and is profligate. Paz informs the wife that the leanness which hazard and debauchery have caused to the domes tic exchequer is due to his extravagance, the husband having lent him money. She does not believe, and Paz feigns an intrigue with a circus rider in order to lull all suspicions. She says to her adored spouse, " Oet rid of this extravagant friend ! Away with him I He is a profligate, a gambler ! A drunkard I" Paz finally departs, and when he has gone the lady finds out the poor Pole's worth. The story does not end satisfactorily. Balzac was too great a master of his art for that In real life the curtain never falls on a comfortably finished drama. The play goeß on eternally. I have been thinking of the story all the even ing. A man who loves his friend's wife, and devotes his energies to increase her happiness by concealing from her her huxband's follies t Surely none but Balzac would have hit upon such a notion. " A man who loves his friend's wife."— Asmodeus, I write no more ! I have ceased to converse with thee for so long that I blußh to con fess all that I have in my heart—l will not confess it, so that shall suffice. [TO BE CONTINUED.]
The Daily Telegraph, of Melbourne »y« :— The licensed victuallers, it is well known, com plain bitterly of the opposition of the grocers who sell wines, beer, and spirits, and they are now adopting a policy of retaliation. They have opened in Flinders-lane a "Tea Association," and their programme Bays :—" The main and moat profitable commodity of the grocer is tea, and no doubt every effort and device will be used by them to defeat the objects of this asso ciation, which are to enable the licensed vic tuallers to recoup themselves a portion of their loss, and at the same time, by selling to the public superior teas at the ordinary rates, re taliute on the grocer for infringing on and inter fering with their particular trade." A curious rumor is afloat in reference to the Theatre Royal, Ballarat. The Courier states that " Years ago, when the theatre was first erected by a company, Mr. Bouchier, the owner of the land, gave the site to the company on condition that the building erected ffpon it should be used solely as a theatre, and should be kept open as a public place of amusement. It is now asserted that legal steps are to be taken against the present owner of the building for breach of the conditions upon which the land was given." William Barkeu, a drunken wheelwright, at Ballarat, was choked to death by a piece of meat ?ticking in hi* throat.