|Chapter Number||BOOK IV IV|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||His Natural Life|
His Natural Life.
BOOK IV. CHAPTER IV. Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North.
BY MARCUS CLARKE.
AUGUST 24.—There has been but one entry in my journal since the 30th June, and that but to record the advent of our new Commandant, who, as I expected, was Captain Maurice Frere.
So great have been the changes which have taken place, that I scarcely know how to record them. Captain Frere has realised my wont anticipations. He is brutal, vindictive, and domineering. His knowledge of prisons and prisoners gives him an advantage over Burgess, otherwise he much resembles that murderous animal. He has but one thought—to keep the prisoners in subjection. So long as the island is quiet, he cares not whether the men live or die. " I was sent down here to keep order," said he to me a few days after his arrival, "and by God, sir, I'll do it." He has done it, I must admit; but at a cost of a legacy of hatred to himself that he may some day regret to have earned. He has organ ised three parties of police. One patrols the fields, one is on guard at stores and public build ings, and the third is employed as a detective force. There are two hundred soldiers on the island, and the officer in charge, Captain M'Nab, has been induced by Frere to increase their duties in many ways. The cords of discipline are suddenly drawn tight For the disorder which prevailed when 1 landed, Frere has sub stituted a sudden and excessive rigor. Any officer found giving the smallest piece of tobacco to a prisoner is liable to removal from the island. The tobacco which grows wild has been rooted up and destroyed lest the men should obtain a leaf of it. The privilege of having a pannikin of hot water when the gangs came in from field laSor in the evening has been withdrawn. The shepherds, hut keepers, and all other prisoners, whether at the stations of Longridge or the Cas cades (where the English convicts are stationed), are forbidden to keep a parrot or any other bird. The platting of straw huts during the prisoners' leisure hours is also prohibited. At the settle ment where the " old hands" are located, railed boundaries have been erected, beyond which no prisoner dare pass unless to work. Two days ago, Job Dodd, a negro, let his jacket fall over the boundary rails, crossed them to recover it, and was severely flogged. The floggings are hideously frequent. On flogging mornings I have seen the ground where the men stood at the triangles saturated with blood, as if a bucket of blood had been spilled on it) covering a space three feet in diameter, and running out in various directions, in little streams two or three feet long. At the same time, let me say, with that strict justice I force myself %o mete out to those whom I dislike, that the island is in a condition of abject submission. There is not much chance of mutiny. The men go to their work without a murmur, and slink to their dormitories like whipped hounds to kennel. The gaols and solitary (!) cells are crowded with prisoners, and each day sees fresh sentences for irssh crimes. It is crime here to do anything but live. The method by which Captain Frere has brought about this repose of desolation is charac teristic of him. He sets on every man to be a spy upon his neighbor, awes the more daring into obedience by the display of a ruffianism more outrageous thau their own, and raising the worst scoundrels in the place to office, compels them to find " cases" for punishment. Perfidy is rewarded. It has been made part of a convict policeman's duty to search a fellow-prisoner anywhere and at any time. This searching is often conducted in a wantonly rough and dis gusting manner ; and if resistance is offered, the man resisting can be knocked down by a blow from the searcher's bludgeon. Inquisitorial vigilance and indiscriminating harshness prevail everywhere, and the lives of hundreds of prisoners are reduced to a continual agony of terror and self-loathing. " It is impossible, Captain Frere," said I, one day, during the initiation of this system, "to think that these villains whom you have made constables will do their duty." He replied, " They must do their duty. If they are indulgent to the prisoners, they know I shall flog 'em. If they do what I tell 'em, they'll make themnelves so hated that they'd have their own father up to the triangles to save themselves being sent back to the ranks." " You treat them then like slave keepers of a wild beast den. They must flog the animals to avoid being flogged themselves." "Ay," said he, with, his coarae laugh, "and having once flogged 'em, they'd do anything rather than be put in the cage, don't ye Bee !" It is horrible to think of this sort of logic being used by a man who has a wife, and friends and enemies. It is the logic that the Keeper of the Tormented would use, I should think. I am sick unto death of the place. It makes me a disbeliever in the social charities. It takes out of penal science anything it may possess of nobility or worth. It is cruel, debasing, inhu man. August 26. —Saw Rufus Dawes again to-day. His usual bearing is ostentatiously rough and brutal. He seems to have sunk to that pitch of self-abasement in which one takes a delight in one's degradation. This condition is one familiar to me. He is working in the chain-gang to which Haukey was made sub-overseer. Blind Mooney, an ophthalmic prisoner, who was removed from the gang to hospital, told me that th -re was a plot to murder Haukey, but that Dawes, to whom he had shown some kindness, had pre vented it. I saw Hankey and told him of this, asking him if he had been aware of the plot. He said " No," falling into a great tremble. " Major Pratt promised me a removal," said he. " I expected it woulrl come to this." I naked him why Duwes deftnded him; and, after Borne trouble, he told me, exacting from me a promise
* Tho copyright of " His Natural Life" h«s been pur ehuwd by tho proprietors of Tht Quevulandcr from Air. Marous Clarke.
that I would not acquaint the Commandant. It seems that one morning last week Hankey had gone up to Captain Fran's house with a return from Troke, and coming back through the garden had plucked a flower. Dawea had asked him for this flower, offering two days' ration for it. Hankey, who is not a bad-hearted man, gave him the sprig. " There were tears in his eyes as he took it," said he. There must be aome way to get at this man's heart, bad as he seems to be. August 28.—Hankey was murdered yesterday. He applied to be removed from the gaol gang, but Frere refused. " I never let my men ' funk.'" he said. "If they've threatened to murder you, I'll keep you there another month in spite of 'em." Someone who overheard this, reported it to the gang, and they set upon the unfortunate gaoler yesterday and beat his brains out with their shovels. Troke says that the wretch who was foremost cried, " There's for you ; and if your master don't take care, he'll get served the same one of these days !" The gang were employed at building a reef in the sea, and were working up to their armpits in water. Hankey fell into the surf, and never moved after the first blow. I saw the gang, and Dawes said, "It was Frere's fault; he should have let the man go!" " I am surprised you did not interfere," said I. " I did all I could," was the man's answer. " What's a life more or less here f This occurrence has spread consternation among the overseers, and they have addressed a " round-robin" to the Commandant, praying to be relieved from their positions. The way Frere has dealt with this petition is characteristic of him, and fills me at once with admiration and disgust. He came down with it in his hand to the gaol-gang, walked into the yard, shut the gate, and said, " I've just got this from my overseers. They say they're afraid you'll murder them as you murdered Hankey. Now, if you want to murder, murder me. Here I am. Step out, one of you." All this, said ia a tone of the most galling contempt, did not move them. I saw a dozen pairs of eyes flash hatred, but the bull-dog courage of the man overawed them here, as, I am told, it had done in Sydney. It would have b«en easy to kill him then and there, and his death, I am told, is sworn among them ; but no one raised a finger. The only man who moved was liufus Dawes, and he checked himself instantly. Frere, with a recklessness of which I did not think him capable, stepped up to this terror of the prison, and ran his hands lightly down his sides, as is the custom with constables when "searching" a man. Dawes—who is of a fierce temper—turned crim son at this bravado, and, I thought, would have struck him, but he did not Frere then—still unarmed and alone—proceeded to taunt the man, saying, " How are you, Dawes ? Do you think of bolting again, Dawea ? Have you made any more boats ?" " You Devil!" said the chained man, in a voice pregnant with such weight of unborn murder, that the gang winced. " You'll find me one," said Frere, with a laugh; and, turning to me, continued, in the same jest ing tone, " There's a penitent for you, Mr. North —try your hand on him." I was speechless at his audacity, and must have shown my disgust in my face, for he colored slightly, and as we were leaving the yard, endea vored to excuse himself, by saying that it was no use preaching to stones, and such doubly dyed villains as this Dawes were past hope. " I know the ruffian of old," said he. "He came out in the ship from England with me, and tried to raise a mutiny on board. He was the man who nearly murdered my wife. He has never been out of irons—except then and when he escaped —for the last eighteen years ; and as he's three life sentences, he's like to die in 'em." A monstrous wretch and criminal, evidently, and yet I feel a strange sympathy with this out cast.
CHAPTER V. MR. RICHARD DEVINE BURPRIBED. The town house of Mr. Richard Devine was in Clarges-Btreet. Not that the very modest man* sion there situated was the only establishment which owned Richard Devine as master. Mr. John Rex had expensive tastes. He neither " shot" nor " hunted" bo he had no capital in vested in Scotch moora or Leicestershire hunting boxes. But hid stables were the wonder of Lon don, he owned almost a racing village near Don caster, kept a yacht at Cowes, and in addition to a house in Paris, paid the rent of a villa at Brompton. He was member of several clubs of the faster sort, and might have lived like a prince at any one of them had he been so minded, but that a certain constant and haunting fear of detection—a fear which three years of unquestioned ease and un bridled riot had not dispelled—led him to prefer the privacy of his own house, where he could choose his own society. The house in Clarges-Btreet was decorated in conformity with the tastes of its owner. The pictures were pic tures of horses, the books were records of races, or novels purporting to describe sporting life. Mr. Francis Wade, waiting on the morning of the 20th April, 1846, for the advent of his nephew, sighed as he thought of the cultured quiet of Northend House. Mr. Richard appeared in that dressing-gowned condition in which men of fashion at that period were accustomed to "goof a morning." Three years of good living and hard drinking had deprived his figure of its athletic beauty. He was post forty years of age—a period of life when most men become conscious of a paunch. The sudden cessation from the severe bodily toil to which his active life as convict and squatter had accustomed him, caused Mr. Richard's natu ral pronenesß to the honors of a belly to increase, and instead of being por'ly he had become gross. His cheeks were inflamed with frequent appli cation of hot and rebellious liquors to bis blood. His hands were swollen, and not as steady us of yore. His whiskers were streaked with unhealthy grey. His eyes, bright and black as ever, lurked in a thicket of crow's feet. He had become pre maturely buld—a pure Bign of mental or bodily excess. He spoke with affected heartiness, and in that boisterous tone which betrays its own assumption of ease.
w Ha, ha! My dear uncle, sit down. Delighted to see you. Hare you breakfasted ?—of course you have. / was up rather late last night. Quite sure you won't have anything. A glass of wine ? No—then Bit down and tell me all the news of Hampstead." " Thank you, Richard," said the old gentle man, a little stiffly, '* but I wont aome serious talk with you. What do you intend to do with the property? This indecision worries me. Either relieve me of my trust or be guided by my advice." " Well, the fact is," said Mr. Richard, with a very ugly look on his face. " The fact is, and you may aa well know it at once—l am much pushed fur money." " Pushed for money!" cried Mr. Wade, in horror. " Why, Purkiss said the property was worth twenty thousand a year." " So it might have been—five years ago—but my horse-racing, and betting, and other amuse ments, concerning which you need not too curi ously enquire, have reduced its value consider ably." He spoke recklessly and roughly. It was evi dent that success had but developed hid ruffian* ism. His* " dandyism " was but comparative. The impulse of poverty nnd scheming which led him to affect the " gentleman" having been removed, the natural brutality of his nature showed itself in all its native deformity. Mr. Francis Wade took a pinch of snuff with a sharp motion of distaste. "I do not want to hear of your debaucheries," he said, " our name has been sufficiently disgraced in my hearing." " What is got over the devil's back goes under his belly," replied Mr. Richard, coarsely. "My old futher got his money by dirtier ways than these in which I spend it. As villainous an old scoundrel and skinflint as ever poisoned a sea man, I'll go bail." Mr. Francis rose. " You need not revile your father, Richard—he left you all." " Ay, but by puro accident. He didn't mean it If he hadn't died in the nick of time, that unhung murderous villain, Maurice Frere, would have come in for it. By the way," he added, with a change of tone, "do you ever hear any thing of Maurice I" " I have not heard for some years," said Mr. Wade. "He is something in the Conviot De partment at Sydney, I think." "Is he ?" said Mr. Richard, with something like a ehiver. Hope he'll stop there. Well, but about business. The fact is, that—that lam thinking of selling everything." " Selling everything !" "Yea. Ton my soul I am. The Hampstead place and all." " Sell Northend House!" cried Mr. Wade, in bewilderment. " Why, the carving by Orinling Gibbons are the finest in England." " I can't help that," laughed Mr. Richard, ringing the bell. "I want cash, and cash I must have.—Breakfast, Smithers.—l'm going to travel." Francis Wade was breathless with astonish ment. Educated and reared as he had been, he would as soon have thought of proposing to sell St. Paul's Cathedra], as to sell the casket which held his treasures of art—his coins, his coffee cups, his pictures, and his "proofs before letters,." " Surely, Richard, you are not in earnest," he gasped. " I am, indeed." " But—but who will buy it ?" " Plenty of people. I shall cut it up into building allotments. Besides, they are talking of a suburban line, with a terminus at St. John's Wood, which will cut the garden in half. You are quite sure you have breakfasted ? Then pardon me. " Richard, you are jesting with me! You will never let them do such a thing I" "I'm thinking of a trip to America," says Mr. Richard, crooking an egg. " I am sick of Europe- After all, what is the good of a man like me pre tending to belong to 'an old family,' with * a seat' aud all that humbug ? Money is the thing now, my dear uncle. Hard cash ! That's the ticket for soup, you may depend." " Then what do you purpose doing, sir ?" "To buy my mother's life interest as pro vided, realise upon the property, and travel," said Mr. Riohard, helping himself to potted grouse. " You amaze me, Richard. You confound me. Of course, you can do as you please. But so sudden a determination. The old house—scat tered—vases—coins —pictures—I really—Well, it in your property, of course, —and—and—I wish you a very good morning!" " I mean to do as I please," soliloquised Rex, as he resumed his breakfast. " Let him sell his rubbish by auction and go and live abroad, in Germany or Jerusalem if he likes, the farther the better for me. I'll sell off the property and make myself scarce. A trip to America will benefit my health." A knock at the door mnde him start. " Come in ! Curse it, how nervoua I'm get ting. What's that? Letters? Give them to me ; and why the devil don't you put the brandy on the table, Smithers ?" He drank some of the spirit greedily, and began to open his correspondence. " Cussed brute," said Mr. Smithers, outside the door. "He could'nt use wuss langwidge if he was a dook, dam 'im f —Yessir," he added, suddenly, as a roar from his master recalled him. " When did this come ?" asked Mr. Richard, holding out a letter that seemed more than usually disfigured with etampiuge. " Lars night, sir. Its bin to 'Amstead, sir, and come down directed with the bothers." The angry glare of the black eyes induced him to subjoin, " I 'ope there's nothink wrong, sir." "Nothing, you infernal asa and idiot," burst out Mr. Richard, apparently wlute with rage, " except that I should have had this instantly. Can't you see it's marked urgent J Can you read ? Can you spell I There, that will do. No lies. Get out!" Left to himself again, Mr. Richard walked hurriedly up and down the chamber, wiped his forehead, dnmk a tumbler of brandy, and finally sat down and re-read the letcer. It was short, but terribly to the purpone. "The George Hotel, Plymouth, "April 17, 1346. "My Dear Jack,— "I have found you out, you ace. Never mind
how just at present. I know all about your proceedings, and unless Mr. Richard Devine receives his wife with due propriety, he'll find himself iu the custody of the police. Telegraph, dear, to Mrs. Richard Derine at above address. " Yours as ever, Jack, "Sarah. "To Richard Devine, Esq., "Northend House, " Hampstead." The blow was unexpected and severe. It was hard, in the very high tide and flush of assured success, to be thus plucked backwards into the old bondage. Despite the affectionate tone of the letter, he knew the woman with whom he had to deal. For some furious minutes he sat motionless, gazing at the letter. He did not speak—men seldom do under such circum stances—but bis thoughts ran in this fashion : " Here is this cursed woman again ! Just as I was congratulating myself on my freedom. How did she discover me? Small use asking that. What shall I do? I can do nothing. It is absurd to run away, for I shall be caught. Besides, I've no money. My account at Master mann's is overdrawn £2000. If I bolt at all, I must bolt at once—within t twenty-four hours. Rich as I am, I don't suppose I could raise more than £5000 in that time. These things take a day or two, say forty-eight hours. In forty* eight hours I could raise £20,000, but forty eight hours is too long. Curse the woman! I know her! How in the fiend's name did she discover me? It's a bad job.—However she's not inclined to be gratuitously disagreeable. How lucky I never married agdriu 1 I had better make terms and trust to fortune. After all, she's been a good friend to me.—Poor Sally! —I might have rotted on that infernal Eagle Hawk Neck, if it hadn't been for her. She is not a bad sort. Handsome woman, too. I may make it up with her. I shall have to sell off and go away after all.—lt might be worse.—l dare say the property's worth £300,000. Not bad for » start in America. And I may get rid of her yet. Yes. I must give in.—Oh, curse her!— [ringing the bell] Smithers I" [Smithera oppeari.] " A telegraph form and a cab! Stay. Pack me a dressing-bag, I shall have to go away for a day or so. [Sotto voce.] I'd better see her myself.— [Aloud]— Bring me a Bradshaw! [Sotto wet]— D the woman 1"
Chapter VI. nr which the chaplain is taken ill. Though the house of the Commandant of Norfolk island was comfortable and well fur nished, and though, of necessity, all that was most hideous in the "discipline" of the place was hidden, Sylvia felt that the loathing with which she had approached the last and most dreaded abiding place of the elaborate convict system, under which it had been her misfortune to live, had not decreased. The sights and sounds of pain and punishment surrouuded her. She could not look out of her windows without a shudder. She dreaded each evening when her husband returned, lest he should blurt out some new atrocity. She feared to ask him in the morning whither he was going, lest he should thrill her with the expectation of some fresh punishment. " I wish, Maurice, we had never come here," said she, piteously, when he recounted to her the scene of the gaol-gang. " These unhappy men will do you some frightful injury one of these days." "Stuff!" said her husband. "They've not the courage. I'd take the best man among them and dare him to touch me." " I cannot think how you like to witness so much misery and villainy. It is horrible to me to think, of." " Our tastes differ, my dear.—Jenkins I Con found you! Jenkins, I say." The convict* servant entered. " Where is the charge-book ? I've told you always to have it ready for me. Why don't you do as you are told ? You idle, lazy scouudrel. I suppose you were yarning in the cook-house, or ——" " If you please, sir " " Don't answer me, sir. Give me the book." Taking it and running bis finger down the leaves, he commented on the list of offences to which he would be called upon in the morning to mete out judgment " Meer-a-Seek, having a pipe — the rascally Hindo > scoundrel!— Benjamin Pel lett, having fat in hie possession. Miles Byrne, not walking font enough —We must enliven Mr. Byrne. Thomas Twist, having a pipe and strik ing a light. W. Barnes, not in place at muster ; says he was 'washing himself —I'll wash him ! John Richards, missing muster and insolence. John Gattby, insolence and insubordination. James Hopkins, insolence and*foul language. Rufus Dawes, gross insolence, refusing to work — Ah ! we must look after you. You ore a parson's man, are you ? I'll break your spirit, my man— or I'll Sylvia!" " Yeß." "Your friend Dawes is doing credit to his bringing up." " What do you mean ?" " That infernal villain and reprobate Dawes. He is fitting himself faster for " She interrupted him. " Maurice, I wish you would not use such language. You know I dis like it." She spoke coldly and sadly, as one who knows that remonstrance is vain, and is yet constrained to remonstrate. " Oh, dear ! My Lady Proper ! can't bear to hear her husband swear. How refined we're getting i" " There. I did not mean to annoy you," said she, wearily. " Don't let us quarrel, for good ness sake." He went away noisily, and she sat looking at the carpet wearily, waiting for his return. A noise startled her. Sho looked up and saw North. Her face beamed instantly. "Ah ! Mr. North, I did not expect you. What brings you here ? You'll stay to dinner, of course." (She rung the bell without waiting for a reply). " Mr. North dines here ; place a chair for him. And have you brought me the book ? I have been looking for it." " Here it is," said North, producing a volume of' Monto Christo.' " I euvy you." She seized the book with avidity, and, after running her eyes over the pageß, turned enquir ingly to the fly-leaf. " It belongs to my predecessor," eaya North,
m though in answer to ber thought " He seems to have been a great reader of French. I have found many French novels of bis." "I thought clergymen never read French novels," said Sylvia, with a smile. There are French novels and French novels, said North. " Stupid people confound the good with the bad. I remember a worthy friend of mine in Sydney who soundly abused me for reading ' Rabelais,' and when I asked him if he had read it he said that he would sooner cut his hand off than open it Admirable judge cf its merits !" "But is this really good f Papa told me it was rubbish." "It is a romance, but, in my opinion, a very fine one. The notion of the sailor being taught in prison by the priest, sod sent back into the world, an accomplished gentleman, to work out his vengeance, is superb." - Now, now—you are telling me," laughed she; and then, with feminine perversity, "Go on, what is the story ?" " Only that of an unjustly imprisoned man, who, escaping by a marvel, and becoming rich— as Dr. Johnson says, 'beyond the dreams of avarice,' devotes his life and fortune to revenge himself." "And does ho T "He does, upon all his enemies save one." "And he —!" "She—was the wife of his greatest enemy, and Dantea spared her because he loved her." Dora turned away her head. "It seems common-place enough," said she, coldly. There was awkward silence for a moment, which each seemed afraid to break. North bit his lips, as though regretting what he had said. Mrs. Frere beat her foot on the floor, and at length raising her eyea, and meeting those of the clergyman fixed upon her face, rose hurriedly, and weut to meet her returning husband. " Come to dinner, of course!" Baid Frere, who, though he found himself unaccountably begin ning to dislike the clergyman, yet was glad of anybody who would help him to pass a cheerful evening. " I came to bring Mrs. Frere a book." "Ah I She reads too many books. She's always reading books. It is not a good thing to be always poring over print, is it, North ? You have some influence with her. Tell her so. Come, I am hungry." He spoke with that affectation of jollity with which husbands of his calibre veil their bad temper. Quick Sylvia had her defensive armor on in a twinkling. " Of course, you two men will be against me. When did two men ever disagree upon the subject of wifely duties ? However, I shall read in spite of you. Do you know, Mr. North, that when I married I made a special agreement with Captain Frere that I was not to be asked to sew on buttons for him ?" " Indeed ?" says blind North, not understand ing this change of humor. " —And she never has from that hour," says Frere, recovering his suavity at the sight of food. " 1 never have a fhirt fit to put on. Upon my word—there are a dozen in the drawer now." North perused his plate uncomfortably. A saying of omniscient Balzac occurred to him. "Lt grand icueil ett It ridicule," and his mind began to sound all sorts of philosophical depths, not of the most clerical character. After dinner Maurice launched out into his usual topic—convict discipline. It was pleasant for him to get a listener; for his wife, cold, statuesque, aud unsympathetic, tacitly declined to enter into his schemes for the subduing of the refractory villains. " You insisted on coming here," she would say. " I did not wish to come. I don't like to talk of these things. Let us talk of something else." When she adopted this method of procedure, he had no alternative but to submit, for he was afraid of her, after a fashion. In this ill-assorted match he was but apparently the master. He was a physical tyrant. For him, a creature had but to be weak to be an object of contempt; and his gross nature seemed to triumph over the finer one of his wife. It may be admitted at once that ill love hod long since become eliminated from their social rela tions. The young, impulsive, delicate girl, who had given herself to him seven years before, had been changed into a weary, Buffering woman. The wife is what her husband makes her, and his rude animalism had made her the nervous invalid she was. Instead of love, he had awakened in her a distaste which at times amounted to disgust We have neither the skill nor the boldnes of that profound philosopher whose autopsy of the human heart awoke North's con templation, and we will nor presume to set forth in bare English the story of this marriage of the Minotaur. Let it suffice to say that Sylvia liked her husband least when he loved her most In this repulsion lay her power over him. When the animal and spiritual natures cross each other, the nobler triumphs in fact if not in appearance. Maurice Frere, though his wife obeyed him, knew that he was inferior to her, and was afraid of the statue he had created. She was ice, but it was the artificial ice that chemists make in the midst of a furnace. Her coldness was at once her strength and her weakness. When she chilled him, she commanded him. Unwitting of the thought* that possessed his guest, Frere chatted amicably. North said little, but drank a good deal. The wine, however, rendered him silent instead of talkative. He seemed to drink, as though to forget unpleasant memories, and to drink without accomplishing his object. When the pair preceded to the room where Mrs. Frere awaited them, Frere was boisterously good humored, North silently mit> anthropic. " Sing something, Sylvia !" says Frere, with the ease of possession, as one should say to a living musical-box, " Play something." " Oh, Mr. North doesn't care for music, and I'm not inclined to sing. Singing seems out of place here." " Nonaense," says Frere. "Why should it be more out of place here than anywhere else ?" " Mrs. Frere means that mirth is in a manner unsuited to these melancholy surroundings," ays North, out of his keener senee. " Melancholy surroundings !" cried Frere, star ing io turn at the piano, the ottomans, and the
lookdng-gUw. " Well, the house isn't as good as the one in Sydney, but it's comfortable enough." "You don't understand me, Maurice, said Sylvia. " This place is very gloomy to me. The thought of the unhappy men who are ironed and chained all about us make me miserable." "What stuff!" says Frere, now thoroughly roused. " The ruffians deserve all they get and more. Why should you make yourself wretched about them?" " Poor men ' How do we know the strength of their temptation, the bitterness of their re pentance." "Evil-doers earn their punishment, says North, in a hard voice, and taking up a book suddenly. "They must learn to bear it No repentance can undo their sin." " But surely there is mercy for the worst of evil-doers," urges Sylvia, gently. North seems disinclined or unable to reply, and nods only. " Mercy 1" cries Frere. "I am not here to be merciful; lam here to keep these scoundrels in order, and by the Lord that made me, I'll do it!" " Maurice, do not talk like that Think how slight an accident might have made any one of us like these men. What is the matter, Mr. North!" For Mr. North had suddenly turned pale. " Nothing," returns the clergyman, gasping— " a sudden faintness I" The windows are thrown open, and the chaplain gradually recovers, much in the same manner as he did in Burgess' parlor, at Port Arthur, seven years ago. "I am liable to these attacks. A touch of heart disease, I think. I shall have to rest for a day or so." "Ay, take a spell," says Frere ; " you over work yourself." North, sitting, gasping and pale, smiles in a ghastly manner. " I—l will. If Ido not appear for a week, Mrs. Frere, you will know the reason." ' " A week ! Surely it will not last so long as that," exclaims Sylvia. The ambiguous " it" appear* to annoy him, for he flushes painfully, replying, " Sometimes longer. It is a—urn—uncertain," in a confused and shame-faced manner, which is luckily re lieved by the entry of Jenkins. " A message from Mr. Troke, sir." " Troke ! What's the matter now t" " Dawes, sir, 's been violent and assaulted Mr. Troke. Mr. Troke said you'd left orders to be told at onst of the insubordination of prisoners." " Quite right, where is he ?" "In the cells, I think, sir. They had a hard fight to get him there, I am told, your honor." "Had they? Give my compliments to Mr. Troke, and tell him that I shall have the plea sure of breaking Mr. Dawes' spirit to-morrow morning, at nine sharp." " Maurice," said Sylvia, who had been listen ing to the conversation in undisguised alarm, "Dome a favor f Do not torment this man ?" " What makes you take a fanoy to him ?" asks her husband, with sudden unnecessary fierceness. " Because his is one of the names which have been from my childhood synonomous with suffer ing and torture, because whatever wrong he may have done, his life-long punishment must have in some degree atoned for it." She spoke with an eager pity in her face that transfigured it. North devouring her with his glance, saw tears in her eyes. "Does this look as if he had made atone ment ?" says Frere, coarsely, slapping the letter. " He is a bad man I know, but "—she passed her hand over her forehead with the old troubled gesture—" He cannot have been always bad. I think I have- heard some good of him some where." "Nonsense," says Frere, rising decisively. Your fancies mislead you. Let me hear no more. The man is rebellious, and must be lashed back again to his duty. Come North, we'll have a nip before you Btart." "Mr. North, will not you plead for me?" suddenly cries poor Sylvia, her self-possession departed. "You have a heart to pity these suffering creatures." But North, who seemed to have suddenly re called his soul from some place where it had been wandering, draws himself aside, and with dry lips makes shift to say, " I cannot interfere with your husband, Madan.," and goes out almost rudely. "You've made old North quite ill," says Frere ; when he by-and-by returns, hoping by bluff ignoring of any roughness on his own part to avoid anything like any reproach from his wife, "He drank half a bottle of brandy to steady his nerves before he went home, and swung out of the house like one possessed." But Sylvia, who seemed occupied by her own thoughts, did not reply.
Chaptkb VII. BRKAKDfO A MAN'S SPIRIT. The insubordination of which Rufuß Dawes had been guilty was, in this instance, tolerably insignificant. It was the custom of the newly fledged constables of Captain Frere to enter the wards at night, armed with cutlasses, tramping about, and making a great noise. Mindful of the report of Pounce, they pulled the men roughly from their hammocks, examined their persons for concealed tobacco, and compelled them to open their mouths to see if any was inside. The men in Dawes' gang—to which Mr. Troke had an especial objection—were often searched more than once in a night, searched going to work, searched at meals, searched going to prayers, searched coming out, and this in the roughest manner. Their sleep broken, and what little self-respect they might yet presume to retain harried out of them, the objects of this incessant persecution were ready to turn upon and kill their tormentors. The great aim of Troke was to catch Dawes tripping, but the leader of the "Ring" was too wary. In vain had Troke, eager to sustain his reputation for sharpness, burst in upon the convict at all times and seasons. He had found nothing. In vain had he laid traps for him ; in vain had he "planted" figs of tobacco, and attaching long threads to them, waited in a bush hard by until the pluck at the end of his line should give token that the fish had bitten. The experienced " old hand" was too acute for him. Filled with disgust and ambition, he determined upon an ingenious little trick. He was certain that Dawes possessed tobacco ; the thing was to
find it upon him. Now, Rufat Dawes, holding aloof, aa was hia custom, from the majority of his companions, had made one friend—if so mindless and battered an old wreck could be called a friend—Blind Mooney. Perhaps this oddly-assorted friendship was brought about by two causes—one that Mooney was the only man on the island who knew more of the horrors of convictism than the leader of the Ring ; the other, that Mooney was blind, and, to a moody, sullen man, subject to violent fits of passion, and a constant suspicion of all his fellow-creatures, a blind companion was more congenial than a sharp-eyed one. Mooney was one of the " First Fleeter*." He had arrived in Sydney fifty-seven years before, in the year 1789, and when he was transported he was fourteen yean old. He had been through the whole round of servitude, had worked aa a bondsman, had married, and been " up country," had been again sentenced, and was a sort of dismal patriarch of Norfolk Island, having been there at its former settlement. He had no friends. His wife was long since dead, and he stated without contradiction, that his master, having taken a fancy to her, had despatched the oncomplaisant husband to imprisonment. Such oases were not uncommon. One of the many ways in which Rufus Dawes had obtained the affection of the old blind man was the gift of such fragments of tobacco as he had himself from time to time secured. Troke knew this ; and on the evening in question hit upon an excellent plan. Admitting himself noiselessly into the boat-shed, where the gang slept, he crept close to the sleeping Dawes, and counterfeiting Mooney's mumbling utterance, asked for " some tobacco." Rufus Dawes was bnt half awake, and on repeating his request, Troke felt something put into his hand. He grasped Dawes' arm and struck a light. He had got his man this time. Dawes had conveyed to his fancied friend a piece of tobacco almost as big as the top joint of his little finger. One can understand the feelings of a man entrapped by such base means. Rufus Dawes no Booner saw the hated face of Warder Troke peering over his hammock, than he sprang out, and exerting to the utmost his powerful muscles, knocked Mr. Troke fairly off his legs into the arms of the incoming constables. A desperate struggle took place, at the end of which the convict, overpowered by numbers, was borne senseless to the cells, gagged, and chained to the ring-bolt on the bare flags. While in this con dition he was savagely beaten by five or six constables. To this maimed and manacled rebel was the Commandant ushered by Troke the next morning. "Ha I ha I my man," says the Commandant. " Here you are again, you see. How do you like this sort of thing ?" Daweß, glaring, makes no answer. " You shall have fifty lashes, my man," says Frere. " We'll see how you'll feel then I" The fifty were duly administered, and the Commandant called the next day. The rebel was still mute. "Give him fifty more, Mr. Troke. We'll see what he's made of." One hundred and twenty lashes were inflicted in the course of the morning, but still the sullen convict refused to speak. He was then treated to fourteen days' solitary confinement in one of the new cells. On -being brought out and con fronted with his tormentor, he merely laughed. For this he was sent baik for another fourteen days ; and still remaining obdurate, was flogged again, and got fourteen days more. Had the chaplain then visited him, he might have found him open to consolation, but the chaplain—so it was stated—was sick. When brought out at the conclusion of his third confinement, he was found to be injso exhausted a condition that the doctor ordered him to hospital. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, Frere visited him, and finding his " spirit" not yet " broken," ordered that he should be put to grind maize. Dawes declined to work. So they chained his hand to one arm of the grindstone, and placed another prisoner at the other arm. As the second prisoner turned, the hand of Dawea of course revolved. " You're not such a pebble as folks seemed to think," grinned Frere, pointing to the turning wheel. Upon which the indomitable poor devil straightened his sorely-tried muaoles, and pre vented the wheel from turning at all. _ Frere gave him fifty more lashes, and sent him the next day to grind cayenne pepper. This was a punishment more dreaded by the convicts than any other. The pungent dust filled their eyes and lungs, causing them the most excruciating torments. For a man with a raw back the work was one continued agony. In four days, Rufus Dawes, emaciated, blistered, blinded, broke down. " For God's sake, Captain Frere, kill me at once t" he said. •? No fear," said the other, rejoiced at this proof of his power. " You've given in ; that's all I wanted. Troke, take him to the hospital." When he was in hospital, North visited him. " I would have come to see you before," said the clergyman, " but I have been very iIL" In truth he looked so. He bad had a fever, it seemed, and they had shaved his beard and cropped his hair. Dawes could see that the haggard, wasted man had passed through some agony almost as great as his own. The next day Frere visited him, complimented him on his courage, and offered to make him a constable. Dawee turned his scarred back to his torturer, and resolutely declined to answer. " I am afraid you have made an enemy of the Commandant," said North, the next day. " Why not accept his offer ?" Dawes cast on him a glance of quiet scorn. " And betray my mates ? I'm not one of that sort." The clergyman spoke to him of hope, of release, of repentance and redemption. Tne prisoner laughed. " Who's to redeem me ?" he said, expressing his thoughts in phraseology that to ordinary folks might seem blasphemous. "It would take a Christ to die again to save such as I." North spoke to him of immortality. " There is another life," said he. "Do not risk your chance of happiness in it. You have a future to live for, man." 111 hope not," said the victim of the " system."
" I want to rat—to rest, and never be disturbed again." His " spirit" was broken enough by this time. Tet he had resolution enough to refuse Frere's offer. " I'll never ' jump' it he said to North, " if they cut me in half first" North pityingly implored the stubborn mind to have mercy on the lacerated body, but with out effect His own wayward heart gave him the key to read the cipher of this man's life. " A noble nature ruined," said he to himself. " What is the secret of his history ?" Dawes, on his part, seeing how different from other black coats was this priest—at once so ardent and so gloomy, so stern and so tender— began to speculate on the cause of his monitor's sunken cheeks, fiery eyes, and pre-occupied manner to wonder what grief inspired those agonised prayers, those eloquent and daring sup plications, which were daily poured out over his rude bed. So between these two—the priest and the sinner—was a sort of sympathetic bond. One day this bond was drawn so close as to tug at both their heart-strings. The chaplain had a flower in his coat. Dawes eyed it with hungry looks, and, as the clergyman was about to quit the room, said, "Mr. North, will you give me that rosebud f" North paused irreso lutely, and finally, as if after a struggle with himself, took it carefully from his button-hole, and placed it in the prisoner's brown scarred hand. In another instant, Dawes, believing himself alone, pressed the the gift to his lips. North turned abruptly, and the eyes of the pair met Dawes flushed crimson, but North turned white an death. Neither spoke, but each seemed to feel drawn closer to the other, since each had kissed the rosebud plucked by Sylvia's fingers.
Chapter VIII. Extracted from the Diary of the Jtev. Jama North. October 21.—1 am safe for another six months if I am careful, for my last bout lasted longer than I expected. I suppose one of these days I shall have a paroxysm that will kill me. I shall not regret it I wonder if this Familiar of mine—l began to detest the expression—will accuse me of wan tonly endeavoring to make a case for myself if I say that I believe my madness to be a disease ? Ido believe it I honestly can no more help getting drunk than a lunatic can help screaming and gibbering. It would be different with me, perhaps, were I a contented man, happily mar ried, with children about me, and family cares to distract me. But as I am—a lonely, gloomy, fantastic-fancied being, debarred from love, de voured by spleen, and tortured with repressed desires—l becoming a living torment to myself I think of happier men, with fair wives and clinging children, of men who are loved and who love, of Frere for instance—and a hideous wild beast seems to stir within me, a monster whose cravings cannot be satisfied, can only be drowned in stupifying brandy. Penitent and shattered, I vow to lead a new life ; to forswear spirits, to drink nothing but water. Indeed, the sight and smell of brandy make me ill. All goes well for some weeks, when I grow nervous, discontented, moody. I smoke, and am soothed. But moderation is not to be thought of ; little by little I increase the dose of tobacco. Five pipes a day become six or seven. Then I count up to ten or twefve, then drop to three or four, then mount to eleven at a leap ; then lose count altogether. Much smok ing excites the brain. I feel, clear, bright, gay. My tongue is parched in the morning, however, and I use liquor to literally " moisten my clay." I drink wine or beer in moderation, and all goes well. My limbs regain their suppleness, my hands their coolness, my brain its placidity. I begin to feel that I have a wilL lam confident, calm, and hopeful. To this condition, however, succeeds one of the most frightful melancholy. I remain plunged, for an hour together, in a stupor of despair. The earth, air, sea, all appear barren, colorless. life is a burden. I long to sleep, and sleeping struggle to awake, because of the awful dreams which flap about me in the dark ness. At night I cry, "Would Qod it were morning !" in the morning, " Would God it were evening 1" I loathe myself, and all around me. I am nerveless, passionless, bowed down with a burden like the burden of Saul. I know well what will restore me to life and ease—restore me, but to cast me back again into a deeper fit of despair. I drink. One glass—my blood is warmed—my heart leaps, my hand no longer shakes. Three glasses, I rise with hope in my soul—the evil spirit flies from me. I continue —pleasing images flock to my brain, the fields break into flower, the birds into song, the sea gleams Bapphire, the warm heaven laughs. Great God ! what man could withstand a tempta tion like this? By an effort, I shake off the desire to drink deeper, and fixing my thoughts on my duties, on my books, on the wretched prisoners. I succeed perhaps for a time ; but my blood, heated by the wine which is at once my poison and my life, boils in my veins. I drink again, and dream. I feel all the animal within me stirring. In the day my thoughts wander to all monstrous imaginings. The most familiar objects suggest to me loathsome thoughts. Obscene and nlthy images surround me. My nature seems changed. By day I feel myself a wolf in sheep'b clothing ; a man possessed by a devil, who is ready at any moment to break out and tear him to pieces, At night I become a Batyr. While in this torment lat once hate and fear myself. One fair face is ever before me, gleaming through my hot dreams like a flying moon in the sultry midnight of a tropic storm. I dare not trust myself in the presence of those whom I love and respect, lest my wild thoughts should find vent lti wilder words. I lose my humanity. lam a beast. Out of this depth there is but one way of escape. Downwards. I must drench the monster I have awakened until he sleeps again. I drink and become oblivious. But the awakening ! Let me not paint it The delirium, the fever, the self-loathing, the proß tration, the despair. I view in the looking-glass a haggard face, with red eyes. I look down upon shaking hands, flaccid muscles, and shrunken limbs. I speculate if I shall ever be one of those grotesque and melancholy beings, with bleared eyes and running noses, swollen bellies and shrunken legs ! Ugh I—it is too likely. [TO BX CONTINUED.]