|Chapter Number||BOOK IV VIII|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||His Natural Life|
His Natural Life*
BOOK IV. CHAPTER VIII. Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North.
BY MARCUS CLARKE.
OCTOBER 22. —Have spent the day with Mrs. Frere. She is evidently eager to leave the place as eager as I am. Frere rejoices in his murderous power, and laughs at her expostulations. I
suppose men get tired of their wives. In my present frame of mind I am at a loss to under stand how a man. could refuse a wife anything. I do not think she can possibly care for him. I am not a selfish sentimentalist, as are the majority of seduoenr. I would take no woman away from a husband for mere liking. Tet I think there are cases in which a man who loved would be justified in making a woman happy at the risk of his own—soul, I suppose. Making her happy! Ay, that's the point. Would she be happy ? There are few men who can endure to be "cut," "lighted, pointed at, and women suffer more than men in these regards. I, a grizzled man of forty, am not such •n arrant ass aB to suppose that a year of guilty delirium can compensate a gently-nurtured woman for the loss of that social dignity which constitutes her best happiness. lam not such an idiot as to forget that there msy come a time when the woman I love may cease to love me, and having no tie of sell-respect, social position, or family duty to bind her, may inflict upon her seducer that agony which be has taught her to inflict upon her husband. Apart from the question of the tin of breaking the seventh com mandment, 1 doubt if the wont husband and the most unhappy home are not better, in this social condition of ours, than the most devoted lover. A strange subject this for a clergyman to speculate upon! If this diary should ever fall into the hands of a real God-fearing, honest booby, who never was tempted to sin, by finding that at middle-age he loved the wife of another, how he would condemn me I And rightly, of course. November 4.—ln one ef the turnkey's rooms in the new gaol is to be seen an article of harness, which at first sight creates surprise in the mind of the beholder, who considers what animal of the brute creation exists of so diminu tive a size as to admit of its use. On enquiry. It will be found to be a bridle, perfect in head band, throatlash, Ac, for a human being. There II attached to this bridle a round piece of cross wood, of almost four inches in length, and one and a-half in diameter. This, again, is secured to a broad strap of leather to cross the mouth. In the wood there is a small hole, and when used, the wood is inserted in tine mouth, the small hole being the only breathing space. This being secured with the various straps and buckles, a more complete bridle could not well be imagined. * I was in the gaol last evening at eight o'clock. I had been to see Ruf us Dawes, and returning, paused for a moment to speak to Hailey. Gimblett, who robbed Mr. Vane of £200, was present; he wss at that time a turnkey, holding a third-class pass, and in receipt of 2s. per diem. Everything was quite still. I could not help remarking how quiet the gaol was, when Gim blett said, " There's someone speaking. I know who that is." And forthwith took from its pegs one of the bridles just described, and a pair of handoufb. I followed him to one of the cells, which he opened, and therein was a man lying on his straw mat, undressed, and to all appearance fast asleep. Oimblett ordered him to get up and dress him •ell He did so, and came into the yard, where Gimblett inserted the iron-wood gag in his mouth. The sound produced by his breathing through it (which appeared to be done with great difficulty) resembled a low, indistinct whistle. Gimblett led him to the lamp-post in the yard, and I Baw that the victim of his wanton tyranny was the poor blind wretch Mooney. Gimblett placed him with bis back agninat the lamp-post, and his amu being taken round, were secured by handcuffs round the post. I was told that the old man was to remain in this condition for three hours. I went at once to the Commandant. He invited me into his drawing-room—an invitation which I had the good sense to refuse—but refused to listen to any plea for mercy. " The old impostor is always making his blindness an excuse for dis obedience," said he. And this is her husband t
Chapter IX. THB LONGEST STRAW. RtmJS Dawjcb hearing, when "on the chain" the next day, of the wanton torture of his friend, uttered no threat of vengeance, but groaned only. "I am not so strong as I was," said he, as if in apology for his lack of spirit. "They have unnerved me." And he looked sadly down at his gaunt frame and trembling hands. "I can't stand it no longer," Baid Mooney, grimly. I've spoken to Bland, and he's of my mind. Tou know what we resolved to do. Let's do it." Rufus Dawes stared at the sightless orbs turned enquiringly to bis own. The fingers of his hand, thrust into his bosom, felt a token which lay there. A shudder thrilled him. No, no. Not now," he said. " You're not afeard, man ?". asked Mooney, stretching out his hand in the direction of the voice. " You're not going to Bhirk ?" The other avoided the touch, and Bhrank away, still staring. " You ain't going to back out after you Bworded it, Dawes ! You're not that sort. Dawes, speak, man 1" "Is Bland willing?" asked Dawes, looking round, as if to seek some method of escape from the glare of those unspeculative eyes. "Ah and ready. They flogged him again yesterday." ."Leave it till to-morrow," said Dawes, at length." " No ; let's have it over," urged the old man,
* The oopyright of " Hi* Natural lite" has been pur •hmaed by the proprietor! of Tht QwtntUuuUr from Mr. Karons Clarke.
with a strange eagerness." "I am tired o' this." Rufus Dawes cast a wistful glance towards the wall behind which lay the house of the Commandant. "Leave it till to-morrow," he repeated, with his hand still in his breast. They had been so occupied in their conversa tion that neither had observed the approach of their common enemy. " What are you hiding there f' cries Frere, seizing Dawes by the wrist " More tobacco, you dog t" The hand of the convict, thus suddenly plucked from his bosom, opened involuntarily, and a withered rose fell to the earth. Frere at once, indignant and astonished, picked it up. "Hallo! What the devil's this? You've not been robbing my garden for a nosegay, Jack!" The Com mandant was wont to call all convicts " Jack " in his moments of facetiousness. It was a little humorous way he had. Rufus Dawes uttered one dismal cry, and then stood trembling and cowed. His com panions hearing the exclamation of rage and grief that bunt from him, looked to see him snatch back the flower or perform some act of violence. Perhaps such was his intention, but he did not execute it. One would have thought that there was some charm about this rose so strangely cherished, for he stood gazing at it as it twirled between Captain Frere's strong fingers as though it fascinated him. " You're a pretty man to want a rose for your buttonhole ! Are you going out with your sweetheart next Sunday, Mr. Dawes?" The gang laughed. "How did you get thisf Dawes was silent. " You'd better tell me." No answer. "Troke, let us see if we can't find Mr. Dawea' tongue. Pull off your shirt, my man. I expect that's the way to y«ur heart—en, boys ?" At this elegant allusion to the lash, the gang laughed again, and looked at each other as tonished. It seemed possible that the leader of the Ring was going to turn milk-sop. Such in deed appeared to be the case, for Dawes, tremb ling and pale, cried, " Don't flog me again, sir! I picked it up in the yard. It fell out of your coat one day." Frere smiled with an inward satisfaction at the result of his spirit-breaking. The explanation was probably the correct one. He was in the habit of wearing flowers in his coat, and it was impossible that the convict should have obtained one by any other means. Had it been a fig of tobacco now, the astute Commandant knew plenty of men who would have brought it into the prison. But who would risk a flogging for so useless a thing as a flower ? " You'd better not pick up any more, Jack," he said. "We don't grow flowers for your amuse ment." And contemptuously flinging the rose over the wall, he strode away. The gang, left to itself for a moment, bestowed their attention upon Dawes. Large tears were silently rolling down his face, and he stood staring at the wall as one in a dream. The gang curled their lips. One fellow, more charitable than the rest, tapped his fore head and winked. " He's going cranky," said this good-natured man, who could not understand what a sane prisoner had to do with flowers. Dawes recovered himself, and the contemptuous glances of his companions seemed to bring back the color to his cheeks. " We'll do it to-night," whispered he to Mooney, and Mooney smiled with pleasure. Since the " tobacco trick," Mooney and Dawes had been placed in the new prison, together with a man named Bland, who had already twice failed to kill himself. When old Mooney, fresh from the torture of the gag-and-bridle, lamented bis hard case, Bland proposed that the three should put in practice a scheme in which two at least must succeed. The scheme was a desperate one, and attempted but in the last extremity. It was the custom of the Ring, however, to swear each of itajnembers to carry out to the best of his ability this last invention of the convict disciplined mind, should two other members crave his assistance. The scheme—like all great ideas—was sim plicity itself. That evening, when the cell-door was securely locked, and the absence of a visiting gaoler might be counted upon for an hour at least, Bland pro duced a straw, and held it out to his companions. Dawes took it, and tearing it into unequal lengths, handed the fragments to Mooney. " The longest is the one," said the blind man. " Come on, boys, and dip in the lucky-bag!" It was evident that lots were to be drawn to determine to whom fortune would grant freedom. The men drew in silence, and then Bland and Dawes looked at each other. The prize had been left in the bag. Mooney—fortunate old fellow—retained the longest straw. Bland's hand shook as he com pared notes with hits companion. There was a moment's pause, during which the blank eye balls of the blind man fiercely searched the gloom, as if in that awful moment they could penetrate it. "I hold the shortest," said Dawes to Bland. " 'Tis you that must do it." " I'm glad of that," Baid Mooney. Bland, seemingly terrified at the danger which fate had decreed that he Bhould run, tore the fatal lot into fragments, with an oath, and sat gnawing his knuckles in excess of abject terror. Mooaey stretched himself out upon his plank bed. " Come on, mate," he said. Bland extended a shaking hand and caught Rufus Dawes by the sleeve. " You have more nerve than I. You do it." " No, no," says Dawes, almost as pale as his companion. " I've run my chance fairly. 'Twas your own proposal." The coward who, confident in his own luck, would seem to have fallen into the pit he had dug for others, sat rocking himself to and fro, holding his head in his hands. "By Heaven, I can't do it," he whispered, lifting a white, wet face. " What are you waiting for ?" said fortunate Mooney. " Come on, I'm ready." " I—l—thought you might like to —to—pray a bit," Bays Bland. The notion seemed to sober the senses of the old man, exalted too fiercely by his good fortune. " Aye," he said. " Pray I A good thought I" and he knelt down, and shutting his blind eyes —'twas as though he was dazzled by some strong light, unseen by bis comrades—moved bis lips silently. The silence was at last broken by the footstep
of the warder in the corridor. BUnd hailed it as a reprieve from whatever set of daring he dreaded. "We most wait until he goes," he whispered eagerly. "He might look in." Dawea nodded, and Mooney, whose quick ear apprised him very exactly of the position of the approach ing gaoler, rose from his knees, radiant. The sour face of Qimblett appeared at the trap of the cell-door. " All right fhe asked, somewhat —so the three thought—leu sourly than usual " All right," was the reply, and Mooney added " Good night, Mr. Qimblett" " I wonder what makes the old man so cheerful," thought Qimb lett, as he got into the next corridor. The sound of his echoing footsteps had soareely died away, when upon the ears of the two less fortunate casters of lots, fell the dull sound of rending woollen. The lucky man was tearing a strip from his blanket. " I think this will do," said he, pulling it between his hands to test its strength. "lam an old man." It was possible that he debated concerning the descent of some abyss into which the atrip of blanket was to lower him. " Here, Bland, catch hold. Where are ye ?—don't be faint-hearted, man. It won't take ye long." It was quite dark now in the oell, but as Bland advanced, his face seemed a white mask floating upon the darkness, it was so ghastly pale. Dawes pressed his lucky comrade's hand and withdrew to the farthest corner. Bland and Mooney seemed for a few moments occupied with the rope—doubtless preparing for escape by means of it. The silence was broken only by the convulsive jangling of Bland's irons—he was shuddering violently. At last Mooney spoke again, in strangely soft and subdued tones. " Dawes, lad, do you think there is a Heaven f" " I know there is a Hell," said Dawes, with out turning his face. . " Ay, and a Heaven, lad. I think I shall go there. You will, old chap, for you've been good to me—God bless you, you've been very good to me." When Troke came in the morning, he saw what had occurred at a glance, and hastened to remove the corpse of the strangled Mooney. " Wo drew lots," said Rufus Dawes, pointing to Bland, who crouched in the corner farthest from his victim, " and it fell upon him to do it. I'm the witness." " They'll hang you for all that," "aid Troke. " I hope so," said Bui us Dawes. The scheme of escape hit upon by the convict intellect was simply this : Three men being to gether, lots were drawn to determine whom should be murdered. The drawer of the longest straw was the "lucky" man. He was killed. The drawer of the next longest straw was the murderer. He was hanged. The unlucky one ' was the witness. He had, of oourse, an excellent chanoe of being hung also, but his doom was not so certain, and he therefore looked upon himself as unfortunate.
Chapter X. a lurrmo. John Rex found the George disagreeably pre pared for his arrival. Obsequious waiters flew to rescue his dressing-bag and over-coat, the land lord himself weloomed him at- the door. Two naval gentlemen came out of the ooffee-room to stare at him. "Have you any more luggage, Mr. Devinef" asked the landlord, as he flung open the door of the best drawing-room. It was awkwardly evident that his wife had no notion of suffering him to hide his borrowed light under a bushel. A supper-table laid for two people gleamed bright from the cheeriest corner. A fire crackled beneath the marble mantelshelf. The latest evening paper lay upon a chair ; and, brushing it carelessly with her costly silks, the woman he had so basely deserted came smiling to meet him. " Well, Mr. Richard Devine," said she, "you did not expect to see me again, did you ?" Although, on his journey down, he had com posed an elaborate speech wherewith to greet her, this unnatural civility damfounded him. " Sarah! I never meant to " " Hush, my dear Richard—it must be Richard now, I suppose— this is not the time for explana tions. Besides, the waiter might hear you. Let us have some supper now, you must be hungry, lam sure." He advanced to the table mechani cally. " How fat you have got ?" she continued. " Too good living, I suppose. Tou were not so fat at Port Ar Oh, 1 forgot my dear f Come and sit down. That's right. I have told them all that I am your wife, for whom you have specially sent. They regard me with some interest and respect in consequence. Don't spoil their good opinion of me." He was about to utter some imprecation, but she stopped him by a glance. " No bod language, John, or I Bhall ring for a constable. Let us understand one another, my dear. Tou may be a very great man to other people, but to me you are merely my runaway husband—an escaped convict. If you don't eat your supper civilly, I shall certainly send for the police." " Sarah !" he bunt out, " I never meant to desert you. Upon my word. It is all a mistake. Let me explain." " There is no need for explanations yet, Jack —I mean Richard. Have your supper. Ah t I know what you want." She poured out half a tumbler of brandy, and gave it to him. He took the glass from her hand, drank the contents, and then, as though warmed by the spirit, laughed. " What a woman you are, Sarah. I have been a great brute, I confess." " You have been an ungrateful villain, said she, with sudden passion, " a hardened, selfish villain." ' " But, Sarah, " Don't touch me !" " Ton my word, you ore a fine creature, and I was a fool to leave you." The compliment Beemed to soothe her, for her tone changed Bomewhat. "It was a wicked, cruel act, Jock. You whom I saved from death —whom I nursed—whom I enriched. It was the act of a coward." " I admit it It was." " You admit itl Have you no shamo then ? Have you no pity for me for what I have suffered all these years ?" " I don't suppose you cared much." " Don't you ? You never thought about me
at aIL I have cared this much, John Bex— bah 1 the door is shot dose enough—that I havo spent a fortune in banting you down ; and now I hare found yon, I will make you suffer in your turn." He laughed again, but uneasily. " How did you discover me!" With a.readiness whioh showed that she had already prepared an answer to the question, she unlocked a writing-cue whioh was on the side table,, and took from it a newspaper. üßy on* of those accidents which an the ruin of man like you. Ajnong the papers sent to the over seer from his English friends was this one." She held out an illustrated journal—som* Sunday organ of sporting opinion—and pointed to a portrait engraved on the centre page. Ii represented a broad-shouldered, bearded man. dressed in the fashion affected by turfites and lovers of horseflesh, standing beside a pedestal on which were piled a variety of racing caps and trophies. John Bex read underneath this work of art the name— MR. RICHARD DEVINB, THE LEVIATHAN OF THJC TOM. " And you recognised me T "The portrait was sufficiently like you to induce me to make enquiries, and when I found that Mr. Richard Devine had suddenly returned from a mysterious absence of fourteen years I set to work in earnest I have spent a deal of money, Jack, but I've got you f" " Tou have been clever in finding me oat; I give you credit for that." " There is not a single act of your life, John Rex, that I do not know," she continued, with, heat.- "I have traced you from the day you stole out of my house until now. I know your continental trips, your journeying* her* and there in Bearch of a lost due. I pieced together the puzzle, as you have done, and I know that, by some foul fortune, you have stolen the secret of a dead man to ruin an innocent and virtuous family." • " Hullo ! hullo 1" says John Rex," Since wnea have you learnt to talk of virtue f" " It is well to taunt, but you have got to tht end of your tether now, Jack. I have oommuni* cated with the woman whose son's fortune you have stolen. I expect to hear from Lady Devina in a day or so." , " Well—and when you hear!" • " I shall give back the fortune at the price of her silence I" "Hoi bo! WillyouT " Yes ; and if my husband dost not comeback and live with me quietly, I shall call in the police. John Rex sprang up. " Who will believe you, you idiot The cried. 'Til have you seat to gaol as an impostor." " You forget, my dear," she returned, playing ooquettisbly with her rings, and glancing side* ways ai she spoke, "that you have already acknowledged me as your wife before, the land* lord and the servants. It is too late for tkmt sort of thing. Oh, my dear Jack, you think you are very clever, but I am as clever as too." Smothering a curse, he sat down bssid* her. "Listen, Sarah. Whatis the use of fighting like a couple of children t lam rich—— >r "So am I." " Well, so much the better. We wtU Job our riches together. I admit that I was • fool and a cur to leave you ; but I played for a great stake. The name of Richard Devine was worth nearly half-a-million of money. It is mine. I won it Share it with me! Sarah, you and I defied the world years ago. Don't let us quarrel now. I was ungrateful. Forget it We know by this time that we are not either of us angels. We started in life together—do you remember, Sally, when I met you first ?—determined to make money. We have, succeeded. Why then set to work to destroy each other? You ar» handsome as ever, I have not lost my wits. la there any need for you to tell the world thai I am a runaway convict, and that you are well, no, of course, there is no need. Kiss, and be friends, Sarah. I would have escaped you if I could, I admit. You have found me out I accept the position. You claim me as your husband. You say you are Mrs. Richard Devine. Very well, I admit it You have all your life> wanted to be a great lady. Now is' your chance 1" Much as she had cause to hate him, well aa she knew his treacherous and ungrateful charac ter, little as she had reason to trust him, the old glamor of her strange and distempered affection for the scoundrel came upon her again with gathering strength. As she sat beside him, listen ing to the familiar tones of the voice she had learned to love, greedily drinking in the promise of a future fidelity which she was well aware was made but to be broken, her memory recalled the post days of trust and happiness, and her woman's fancy once more invested the selfish villain she had reclaimed with those attributes which mad once enchained her wilful and way ward affections. The unselfish devotion whioh had marked her conduct to the swindler and convict was, indeed, her redeeming virtue ; and perhaps she felt dimly—poor woman—that it were bettor for her to cling to that, if she lost all the world beside. Her wish for vengeance melted under the influence of these thoughts. The bitterness of despised love, the shame and snger of desertion, ingratitude, and betrayal, all vanished. The tears of a sweet forgiveness trembled in her eyes, the unreasoning love of her sex—faithful to nought but love, and faithful to love in death—shook in her voice. She took his coward hand and kissed it, pardoning all his baseness with the sole reproach, "Oh, John, John, you might have trusted me after all V John Rex felt that he had conquered, and smiled as he embraced her. " I wish I had," said he ; "it would have saved me many regrets; but never mind. Sit down ; now we will have supper." " Your preference has one drawback, Sarah,"' he said, when the meal was concluded, and the* two sat down to consider their immediate course of action, "it doubles the chance of detection." "How so?" " People have accepted me without enquiry,, but I am afraid not without dislike. Mr. Francis Wade, my uncle, never liked me ; and I fear I have not played my cards well with Lady Ellinor- When they find I have a mysterious wife their dislike will become suspicion. Is it likely that- I should have been married all these years and not have informed them 1"
"VeTyunlikely,''retaraedflai-ah calmly, "and that is just the reason why you have not been married all these yean. Really," she added, with a laugh, "the male intellect is very dull Yo» have already told some ten thousand lies abcmt this affair, and yet you don't see your way t» tell one more." *' What do you mean ?" " Why, my dear Richard, ydu Burely cannot hare forgotten that you married me last year on on the Continent ? By the way, it wot last year that you were there, was it not! I am the daughter of a poor clergyman of the Church of England ; name—anything you please—and you met me—Where shall we say 1 Baden, Aix, Brussels ? Cross the Alps if you like, dear, and say Rome." John Bex put his hand to his head. "Of ooune—l am stupid," said he. "I have not been well lately. Too much brandy and racket, I suppose." "Well, we will alter all that," the returned, with a laugh, which her anxious glance at him belied. "You are going to be domestic now, Jack—l mean Dick." * Go on," said he, impatiently. " What then ?" "Then, having settled these little prelimi naries, you take me up to London a&d introduce me to your relatives and friends." ' He started. M A bold game!" "Bold! Nonsense 1 The only safe one. People don't, as » rule, suspect, unless one is mysterious. Tou mutt do it; I have arranged Jtor your doing it. The waiters here all know me as your wife. There is not the least danger—unless, indeed, you are married already," she added, with a quick and angry suspicion. "You need not be alarmed. I was not such • fool ac to marry another woman while you were alive—had I even seen one I would have eared to many. But what of Lady Ellinor ? You say you have told her." " I Mve told her to communicate with Mrs. John Carr, Post Office, Torquay, in order to hear Something to her advantage. If you had been rebellious, John, the 'something' would have been a letter from me telling her who you really Ate. Now you have proved obedient, the 'something' will be a begging letter of a sort of which she has already received hundreds, and whioh in all probability she will not even answer. What do you think of that, Mr. Richard Devinef" "You deserve success. Sarah," said the old schemer, in genuine admiration. "By Jove, this is something like the old days, when we were Mr. and Mrs. Crofton." "Or Mr. and Mrs. Skinner, eh, John?" she laid, with as much tenderness in her voice as though she had been a virtuous matron recalling . her honeymoon. " That was an unlucky name, ' wasn't it dear? You sheuld have taken my advice there." And, immersed in grateful recollection of their past rogueries, the worthy pair reined an instant, pensively smiling. Rex was the first to awake. "I will be guided by you then. What next V , "Next—for, as you say, my presence doubles ", the danger—we witt contrive to withdraw quietly from England. The introduction to your mother over, and Mr. Francis disposed of, we will go down to Hampsteed, and live there for " a while- During that time you must turn into fflMih as muoh property as you dare. We will then go abroad for the ' season'—and stop there. After a year or so on the Continent, you can write to our agent to sell more property; and, Anally, when we are regarded as permanent absentees—and three or four years will bring that about—we wilt get rid of everything, and ' slip Over to America Then you can endow a 1 charity if you like, or build a church to the memory of the man you have displaced." John Rex burst into a laugh. "An excellent ' plan. I like the idea of the Charity— the Devine Hbtpit«l,ehr ' "By the way, how did you find out the par* ticulars of this man's life ? He was burned in the Hydaspes, wasn't he !" "No," said Rex, with an air of pride. "He was transported in the Malabar under the name of Ruf us Dawes. You remember him. It is a long story. The particulars weren't numerous, and if the old lady had been half sharp she would have bowled me out But the fact was she ' wanted to find the fellow alive, and was willing to take a good deal on trußt I'll tell you all about it another time. I think I'll go to bed now; I'm tired, and my head aches as though it would split" "Then it is decided that you follow my directions!" "Yes." She rose and placed her hand on the bell. "What are you going to do ?" he asked uneasily. ' ''/am going to do nothing. You are going to telegraph to your servants to have the house in London prepared for your wife, who will return with you the day after to-niorrow." John Rex stayed her hand with a sudden angry gesture. "This is all devilish fine," he said, " but suppose it fails ?" " That is your affair, John. You need not go on with this business at all, unless you like. I had rather you didn't" " What the deuce am I to do, then ?" " I am not as rich as you are, but, with my station and so on, I am worth seven thousand ' a year. Come back to Australia with me, and let these poor people enjoy their own again. Ah, John it is the beat thing to do, believe me. We can afford to be honest now." " A fine scheme I" cried he. " Give up half a million of money, and go back to Australia! You must be mad 1" "Then telegraph." ** But, my dear " " Hush, here's the waiter." As he wrote, John Rex felt gloomily that, though he had succeeded in recalling her affec tion, that affection was as imperious as of yore.
Chapter XI. Evtractedfrom the Diary of the Rev. James Nortk. Dkcbmber 7.—1 have made up my mind to leave tbia place, to bury myself again in the bush P suppose, and await extinction. I try to think that the reason for this determination is the. frightful condition of misery existing among the prisoners ; that because I am daily horrified and sickened by scenes of torture and infamy, I
decide to go away ; that, feeling myself useless to save others, I wish to spare myself. But in this journal, in whioh I bind myself to write nothing but trnth, I am forced to confess that these are not the reasons. I will write the rea son plainly :t l I covej my neighbor's wife." It does not look well thus written. It looks hideous. In my own breast I find numberless excuses for my passion. I say to myßelf, "My neighbor does not love his wife, and her unloved life is misery. She ia forced to live in the frightful seclusion of this accursed island, and she is dying for want of companionship. She feels that! understand and appreciate her, that I oould love her as she deserves, that I could render her happy. I feel that I have met the only woman who has power to touch my heart, to hold me back from the ruin into which I am about to plunge, to make me useful to my fellows —a man, and not a drunkard." Whispering these conclu sions to myself, I am urged to brave public opinion, and make two lives happy. I say to myself, or, rather, my desires say to me—" What sin is there in this ? Adultery ? No; for a marriage without love is the coarsest of all adulteries. What tie binds a man and woman together—that formula of license pronounced by the priest, which the law has recognised as a ' legal bond!' Surely not this only, for marriage is but a partnership—a contract of mutual fidelity—and in all contracts the violation of the terms of the agreement by one of the contract ing persons absolves the other. Mrs. Frere is, then, absolved by her husband's act I cannot but think so. But is she willing to risk the shame of divorce or legal offence ? Perhaps. Is she fitted by temperament to bear such a burden of contumely as must needs fall upon her! Will she not feel disgust at the man who entrapped her into shame ? Do not the comforts which surround her compensate for the lack of affec tion ?" And so the torturing catechism con tinues until I am driven mad with doubt, love, and despair. Of course, I am wrong ; of course, I outrage my character as a priest; of course I endanger according to the creed I teach—my soul and hers. But priests, unluckily, have hearts and passions as well as other men. Thank Ood, as yet, I have never expressed my madness in words. What a fate is mine t When lam in her presence lam in torment; when lam absent from her, my imagination pictures her sur rounded by a thousand graces that are not hers, but belonging to all the women of my dreams— to Helen, to Juliet, to RoeaUnd. Fools that we are of our own senses. When I think of her I blush ; when I hear her name my heart leaps and I grow pale. Love I What is the love of two pure souls, scarce conscious of the Paradise into whioh they have fallen, to this maddening delirium ? I can understand the poison of Circe's cup ; it is the sweet torment of a forbidden love like mine ! Away gross materialism in which I have so long schooled myself 1 I, who laughed at passion as the outcome of temperament and easy living—l, who thought, in my intellect, to sound all the depths and shoals of human feel ing—I, who analysed my own soul—scoffed at my own yearnings for an immortality—am forced to deify the senseless Power of my creed, and believe in God, that I may pray to Him. I know now why men reject the cold Impersonality that reason tells us rules the world—it is because they love. To die, and be no more, to die, and rendered into dust, be blown about the earth, to die, and leave our Love defenceless and forlorn, till the bright soul that smiled to ours is smothered in the earth that made it I No ! To love ia life eternal. God, I believe in Thee 1 Aid me ! Pity me ! Sinful wretch that I am, to have denied Thee t See me on my knees before Thee ! Pity me, or let me die ! December 9.—1 have been visiting the two con demned prisoners, Dawes and Bland, and praying with them. 0 Lord, let me save one soul that may plead with Thee for mine ! Let me draw one being alive out of this pit 1 I weep—l weary Thee with my prayers, 0 Lord ! Look down upon me. Grant me a sign. Thou didst it in old times to men who were not more fer vent in their supplications than am I. So Bays Thy Book. Thy Book which I believe—which I believe. Grant me a sign—one little Bign, O Lord I—l will not see her. I have sworn it Thou knowest my gri«f—my agony—my despair. Thou knowest why I lote her. Thou knowest how I strive to make her hate me. Is that not a sacrifice ? lam so lonely—a lonely man, with but one creature that he loves—yet, what is mortal love to Thee? Cruel and im placable, Thou sittest in the Heavens men have built for Thee, and scornest them ! Will not all the burnings and slaughters of the saints appease Thee? Art Thou not Bated with blood and tears, 0 God of vengeance, of wrath, and of despair ? Kind Christ, pity me ! Thou wilt— for thou wast human ! Blessed Saviour, at whose feet knelt the Magdalen ! Divinity, who moßt divine in Thy despair, called on Thy cruel God to save Thee—by the memory of that moment when Thou didst deem Thyself forsaken forsake not me ! Sweet Chriat, have mercy on Thy sinful servant! I can write no more. I will pray to Thee with my lips. I will Bhriek my aupplicationa to Thee. I will call upon Thee so loud that all the world shall hear me, and wonder at Thy silence— unjust and unmerciful God ? December 14.—What blasphemies are these which I have uttered in my deßpair ? Horrible madness that has left me prostrate, to what heights of frenzy didst thou not drive my boul I like him of old time, who wandered among the tombs, shrieking and tearing himself, I have been possessed by a devil. For a week I have been unconscious of aught save torture. I have gone about my daily duties as one who in bis dreams repeats the accustomed action of the day, and knowß it not Men have looked at me strangely. They look at me strangely now. Can it be that my disease of drunkenness has become the disease of insanity '! Am I mad, or do I but verge on madness ? O Lord, whom in my agonies 1 have confessed, leave me my intel lect —i e t me not become a drivelling spectacle for the curiouß to point at or to pity ! At least, in mercy, spare me a little. Let not my punish ment overtake me here. Let her memories of me be clouded with a sense of my rudeness or my brutality ; let me for ever Beem to her the
ungrateful ruffian I strive to show myself—but let ter not behold me— that. '
Chapteb XIL THS STRANGE BEHAMOUR OF MR. NORTH. On or about the Bth of December, Hn. Frere noticed a sudden and unaccountable change in the manner of the chaplain. He came to her one afternoon, and, after talking for some time, in a vague aud unconnected manner, about the miseries of the prison and the wretched condi tion of some of the prisoners, began to question her abruptly concerning Rufua Dawes. " I do not wish to think of him," said she, with a shrdder. "I have the strangest, the most horrible dreams about him. He is a bad man. He tried to murder me when a child, and had it not been for my husband, he would have done so. I have only Been him once since then —at Hobart Town, when he was taken." " He sometimes speaks to me of you," said North, eyeing b«r. "He asked me once to give him a rose plucked in your garden." Sylvia turned pale. " And you gave it him ?" " Yes, I gave it him. Why not f "It was valueless, of course, but still—to » convict!" " You are not angry ?" " Oh, no ? Why should I be angry ?" she laughed constrainedly. "It was a strange fancy for the man to have, that's aIL" " I suppose you would not give me another rose, if I asked you ?" "Why not?" said she turniug away uneasily. " You .'—You are a gentleman." " Not I—you don't know roe." " What do you mean ?" " I mean that it would be better for you if you had never seen me." " Mr. North!" Terrified at the wild gleam in his eyes, she had risen hastily. " You are talking very strangely." '" Ob, don't be alarmed, Madam, I am not drunk " —he pronounced the word with a fierce energy—"l had better leave you. Indeed, I think the less w» see of each other the better." Deeply wounded and astonished at this extra ordinary outburst, Sylvia allowed him to stride away without a word. She saw him pass through the garden and slam the little gate, but she did not see the agony on his faoe, or the passionate gesture with which—when out of eyeshot—he lamented the voluntary abasement of himself before her. She thought over his conduct with growing fear. It was not possible that he was intoxicated—such a vice was the last one of which she should have believed him guilty. It was more probable that some effects of the fever, which had recently confined him to his house, yet lingered. So she thought—and, thinking, was alarmed to realise of how much importance the well* being of this man was to her. The next day he met her, and, bowing, passed swiftly. This pained her. Could she have offended him by some unlucky word ? She made Maurice ask him to dinner, and, to her astonish ment, he pleaded illness as an excuse for not coming. Her pride was hurt, and she sent him back his books and music. A curiosity that was unworthy of her, compelled her to ask the servant who carried the parcel what the clergy man had said. "He said nothing—only laughed." Laughed ! In scorn of her foolishness ! His conduct was ungentlemanly and intemperate. She would forget, as speedily as possible, that such a being had ever existed. This resolution taken, she was unusually patient with her hus band. So a week passed, and Mr. North did not re turn. Unluckily, for the poor wretch, the very self-sacrifice he had made brought about the precise condition of things which he was desirous to avoid. It is possible that had the acquaint ance between them continued on the same staid footing, it would have followed the lot of most acquaintanceships of the kind—other circum- . stances and other scenes might have wiped out the memory of all but common civilities between them, and Sylvia might never have discovered that she had owned for the chaplain any other feeling but that of eßteem. But the very fact of the sudden wrenobing away of her soul companion, showed her how barren was the solitary life to which she had been fated. Her husband, she had long ago admitted, with bitter self-communings, was utterly unsuited to her. She could find in his society no enjoyment, and for the mental sympathy which she needed was compelled to turn elsewhere. She understood that his love for her had burnt itself out—she confessed, with intensity of self-degradation, that his apparent affection had been born of sensu ality, and had perished in the fires it had itself kindled. Many women have, unhappily, made some such discovery as this, but for most women there is some disti acting occupation. Had it been Sylvia's fate to live in the midst of fashion and society, Bhe would have found relief in the conversation of the wjtty, or the homage of the distinguished. Had fortune cast her lot in a city, Mrs. Frere might have become one of those charming women who collect around their supper tables whatever of male intellect is obtainable, and who find the husband admirably useful to •pen his own champagne bottles. The celebrated women who have stepped out of their domestic circles to enchant, or astonish the world, have almost invariably been cursed with unhappy homes. But poor Sylvia was not destined for this fortune. Cast back upon herself, she found no Burcease of pain in her own imaginings, and meeting, with a man sufficiently her elder to encourage her to talk, and sufficiently clever to induce her to seek hiß Bociety and his advice, Bhe learnt, for the first time, to forget her own grief b, and, for the first time, suffered her nature to expand under the sun of a congenial influence. This Bun, suddenly withdrawn, her soul, grown accustomed to the warmth and light, Bhivered at the gloom, and she looked about her in dismay at the dull and barren prospect of life which lay before her. In a word, Bhe found that the society of North had become 80 far a necessary to her, that to be deprived of it was a grief— notwithstanding that her husband remained to console her. After a week of Buch reflections, the barren neaß of life grew insupportable to her, and one day she came to Maurice and begged to be sent back to Hobart Town. " I cannot live in this horrible island," Bhe Baid. " I am getting ill. Let me go to my father for a few months,
Maurice." Maurice hummed and hahed over the project, but at last consented. Hia wife wi looking ill, and Major Vickers was an old man— a rich old man—who loved his only daughter. It was not undesirable that Mrs. Frere should visit her father, indeed ao little sympathy was there between the pair that, the first astonish* ment over, Maurice felt rather glad to get rid of her for a while. " Tou can go back in the Lady Franklin if you like, my dear," he said, "I expect her every day." At this decision— much to hia surprise—she kissed him with more show of affection than she had manifested since the death of her child. The news of the approaching departure became known, but still North did not make hi* appearance. Had it not been a step beneath the dignity of a woman, Mrs. Frere would have gone herself and asked him the meauing of his unac countable rudeness, but there was just sufficient morbidity in the sympathy she had for him to restrain her from an act which a young girl— though not more innocent —would have dared without hesitation. Calling one day upon the wife of the surgeon, however, she met the chaplain face to face, and, with the consummate art of acting to which most women are born, rallied him upon his absence from her house. The behavior of the poor devil thus stabbed to the heart, was curious. He forgot gentlemanly behavior and the respect due to a woman, flung one despairingly angry glance at her, and abruptly retired. Sylvia flushed crimson, and endeavored to excuse North on account of hia recent illness. The surgeon's wife looked askance, and turned the conversation. The next time Sylvia bowed to this lady, she got a chilling salutation in return that made her blood boiL " I wonder how I have offended Mrs. Field," she asked Maurice. "She almost cut me to-day." " Oh, the old cat!" returned Maurice. " What does it matter if she did ?" However, a few days afterwards, it seemed that it did matter, for Maurice called upon Field and convened seriously with him. The issue of the conversation being reported to Mrs. Frere, the lady wept indignant tears of wounded pride and shame. It appeared that North had watched her out of the house, returned, and related— "in a stumbling, hesitating way," Mrs. Field said—how he disliked Mrs. Frere, how he did not want to visit her, and how flighty and repre hensible such conduct seemed in a married woman of her rank and station. This act of baseness —or profound nobleness — certainly achieved its purpose. Sylvia shunned the un happy priest as if he had a pestilence. Between the Commandant and the chaplain now arose a coolness, and Frere set himself, by various petty tyrannies, to disgust North, and compel him to a resignation of his office. The convict-gaolers speedily marked the difference in the treatment of the chaplain, and their demeanor changed. For respect was substituted insolence; for alacrity, sullenness; for prompt obedience, impertinent intrusion. The men whom North favored were selected as special subjects for harshness, and for a prisoner to be seen talking to the clergyman was sufficient to ensure for him a series of tyrannies. The result of this was, that North saw the bouls he labored to save slipping back into the gulf; beheld the men he had half won to love him meet him with averted faces; discovered that, to show interest in a prisoner, was to injure him, not to Berve him. The unhappy man grew thinner and paler under this ingenious torment. He had deprived himself of that love which, guilty though it might be, was nevertheless the only true love he had known; and he found that, having .won this victory, he had gained the hatred of all living creatures with whom he came in contact The authority of the Commandant was so supreme that men lived but by the breath of his nostrils. To offend him was to perish, and the man whom the Commandant hated must be hated also by all those who wished to exist in peace. There was but one being who was not to be turned from his allegiance — the convict murderer, Rufus Dawes, who awaited death. For many days he had remained mute, broken down l«neath his weight of sorrow or of sullenness; but North, bereft of other love and sympathy, strove with that fighting soul, if haply he might win it back to peace. It seemed to the fancy of the priest—a fancy distempered, perhaps, by excess, or superhumanly exalted by mental agony—that this convict, over whom he had wept, was given to him as a hostage for his own salvation. " I must save him or perish," he said; " I must save him, though I redeem him with my own blood." Frere, unable to comprehend the reason of the calmness with which the doomed felon met his taunts and torments —thought that he was sham ming piety to gain some indulgence of meat and drink, and redoubled his severity. He ordered Dawes to be taken out to work just before the hour at which the ohaplain was accustomed to visit him. He pretended that the man was " dangerous," and directed a gaoler to be present at all interviews, " lest the chaplain might be murdered." He issued an order that all civil officers should obey the challenges of convicts acting as watchmen ; and North, coming to pray with hiß penitent, would be stopped ten times by grinning felons, who, putting their faces within a foot of his, would roar out, " Who goes there ?" and burst out laughing at the reply. Under the pretence of watching more carefully over the pro perty of the chaplain, he directed that any con vict, acting as constable, might at any time " search everywhere and anywhere," for property supposed to be in the possession of a prisoner. The chaplain's servant was a prisoner, of course ; and North's drawers were ransacked twice in one week by Troke. North met these impertinences with unruffled brow, and baffled Frere could in no way account for his obstinacy, until the arrival of the Lady Franklin explained the chaplain's apparent coolness. He had sent in his resigna tion two months before, and saintly Medrin was appointed in his stead. Frere, unable to attack the clergyman, and indignant at the manner in which he had been defeated, revenged himself upon Rufus Dawee. (to be continued in our next.)
The spread of erysipelas has been so great in Sydney, that the Government hod to put on special carriages to convey patients to Parra* m*tta Asylum.