Chapter 61305555

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleA BOTANY TRIP.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61305555
Full Date1899-12-09
Page Number6
Corrections0
Word Count1760
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)
Trove TitleFrom Convict to Countess
article text

CHAPTER VI.. .

A BOTANIC TRIP.

" Then blow tho winds, I 0,

Across the rasing sen ;

lie's gono for a trip in n Government sliipy

Ten thousand miles away."

In Newgate Alma began to taste the horrors of a convict's life. Shes had no privacy now. At night she* was herded with twenty other women, in ono of tho sleeping cells, and locked np till morning. Her fellow-prisoners were of all sorts and conditions ; young and old,-some not out of their teens, others grey-headed and grey also ini iniquity, some fallen from. ' tho bettor ranks of society,' others low and ignorant--but, though very difforent. in appearance, all were alike in this respect s they wero law-brcakors. Ia tho cell were young servant, girls who. . had stolen money or clothing from

their employers through sheer' vanity,, and now those young women, as yot virtuous, wero thrust into tho intimate companionship by day and by nighfc of the vilest prostitutes, and they bade fair, on their release from prison, to. loso all their purity under tho base instruction and more vicious pictures-, presented to their view. Thora was no attempt, at. classification; pick- pockets, drunkards,> swearers, violent women guilty of attempted murder,

all were forced into the closest in-

timacy.

By day it was worse, for. ono hun-

dred of them wore drafted from thc

night cells into ono yard together, and the greater tho number by so muchi the greater was the . infamy which 'polluted tho eai'3. Alma's soul sick- ened and died within her at tho filthy

conversation of the wicked; wretches, around her; and, her horror andi disgust, and the curdling of, her blood

were indescribable at tho oaths audi

cursing, tho obscene stories and vile names which filled the air without censing by day or night.

What was still worse, she was forced to liston to tho solicitations which hw

fair and attractive presence drew from, her vile companions, as they described tho allurements of ' their impure lives,, and invited her to join them, until at.

times sho was almost driven mod.

It was almost with a feeling of thankfulness that she hoard that tho day for tho actual transportation of

tho convicts-had arrived.

In the darknoss beforo tho dawn,, ?while tho others wero sleeping, she had arisen and, kneeling on her straw pillow, ' had prayed earnestly for strength and patience. She implored. Divine protection for her person and her soul.- " My heavenly Father,"" sho whispered, " keep mo innocent,, preserve me virtuous, help mo so help- less ; vindicate my ruined character in Thino own good time. Bless my Evie ; grant him happiness, assuage: his sorrow, comfort him for my loss ;, and; if it bo Thy , will that wo nevev meet' again on earth, - let ns .meet where there is no parting, no injustice,, no sorrow. Bless-us both, and if I must now say farewell to him whom I thbught'itb'lcall husband, strengthen and help mc to say it, and to trust. Theo 'still- andj,trust Theo ever for

Christ's sakoi"

Tho groy dawn began to steal into> tho cell as Alma finished her devo-

tions, and steps and voices bogan to echo through tho gloomy walls of the prison.' Her breakfast was thrust in,,

' and the warden bhde her loso no time and make all her preparations without, any unnecessary delay, for all the convicts would bo put on board that, day, as she would sail some timo upon tho morrow, and that the batch of convicts from Newgate would com- plete tho cargo*

. About hn hour af ter breakfast, Alma, heard tho tramp of tho male convicts, ns they.passed the cell door, and after a tedious interval of waiting, the door was thrown opon, and sho was told to. " Come on," and conducted by a warder to the main yard of tho prison.

Continued on Page 7.

A herring often hos. aa many as 10,000

young.

Con tinned from Page 6. I Apparently the male convicts Lad been sent on and only tho ?women remained.

The roll was called, and Alma an- swered to ber number, 531 1 Tho prisoners were handcuffed in pairs, and fastened to a long chain which passed down through tho middle, of the gang.

Two petty officers from tho ship were "present, and before tho convicts were put on the chain they went to the governor and conversed with him

in voices inaudible to the women.

Tho governor said finally, in answer to one of them, " I snpposo it does not matter. I ' Lave dono with them

when they leave the shore." " Well," said the officer, " shall wo piel: them out ? It will save some time to pick them now." " Yon cnn if you like," replied tho governor.

Ono of tho officers then called out for tho women to stnud in line and rcmovo thoir bonnets, and tho two sailors walked np and down inspect- ing the females.

" This ono will do, .Tack," said tim leuding officer, stopping in front of Alma. ' ' What is your number, sweet- heart ?" " Fifty-three, sir," , she an- swered. " Then, my wench, go over

there."

. " Tins ono will do for mo ; I will pick her," said his companion, select-

ing tho next best-looking ono to Alma. ' " Go and stand next to fifty-three, my

lass."

Thus thoy went on picking out tho younger and better looking women, and passing them over to the second .lino, until they had selected ten or

twelve.

" Thcso ought to bc enough, Jack, with those that wove picked yesterday. The others aro hard cases. Put these

picked women on the chain last, and tho others in front," called out the officer. Alma and tho other pretty girl were chained up Inst.

Tho gatos wcro thrown open, and they were told to mnrch. ... _

In tho street warders were driving back tho curious crowds. ",1'o tho left,, turn," culled -out someone in command. " Keep tho middlo'of tho

road."

All .traffic stopped as tho gang marched by.

Tho faces of. the denso crowd seemed

overpowering to Alma, but sh o forced

herself to look around. "It is forthelnst

'timo," she said to herself.' Presently sho grow moro collected, and tho 'officers who marched in tho rear bogan to talk to thc two girls.

Tho girl to whom Alma was hand- cuffed was soon laughing with the officer walking behind her, but she did not hear what they said, partly on account - of tho noiso made by tho crowd, and partly becnuso tho other officer began to question her dn a dialling sort of way.

. " Well, my pretty lass," he said, " did you ever have a sweetheart ?"

Alma's blood boiled at such undue

familiarity. Then she remembered she was a convict and all it entailed, and she answered, "Yes."

" Where is ho?" said her enquirer.

"In a foreign laud," 'sho roplicd. " I go sorrowing because of his loss." Her quiet and modest air seemed ,to impress-tho sailor. .

Ho replied gallantly that a girl with a faco liko hers could ropair tho loss . at any moment. . ... ..

Alma-was silent, and heard an offer .from tho othor.sailor, called Jack, to " get her companion a brooch as a keep-

sake to put her in mind of the land sho was leaviug. The ofter was at Oiico accepted, and tho man went into .ni shop and ^returned with-a brooch, which he fastoned on the girl's collar, while she threw, a .coquettish glance at tho donor over her shoulder, at which ho laughed. _ . ,

Alma's admirer wanted to do a similar favor for her, but she declined. She quietly answered that sho did.not wish to receive any present.

Tho two sailors looked at each other in. silent .astonishment. . " I believe .i.u tuivviïff boit girl there," said Jack, lifter a pause, and witli a" strong . eni ?plmtiis on tho word "good."

" Goodness is a .very- small.part of 'dur.cargo," his friend replied, drily, " but wo shall,seo." .. ¡

"When the: gang marched on to tho pier, they fouud two-of .tho ship's boats -waiting. Half of thc women were handed in by tho sailors, who were atteutiv'o'iu a rough way: Tho other half remained on tho pier while the boats put; off with tho first load to the ship, which lay about half a milo

down stream. . .Whcuv they - returned ; tho picked girls were put into Number Two boat, and followed Number. Ono to tho ship. A ladder was lowered.' by which the women climbed on

board. When on deck tho officers

reported to tho chief. " All right,"

.ho . «nid. " Tako tho convicts from

Number Ono bont below. Tho girls

from Number Two boat can remain at

liberty on deck1, and have their hand- cuffs taken off." Tnis was dono ; tho warders,left and were rowed ashore.

A small, light boat rowed quickly up to thc ship, and in it Alma saw with pleasure and surprise tho' clergy- man from lindleigh. He came on deck and identified' Alma, while shaking hands he explained that bo felt ho must seo her beforo she left the

country, and that, moreover, ho had

received certain information from a

snilor relative, and that in the light of what he had boen told it was his duty, and to \Ima!s advantage, that ho should speak on her behalf to tho captnin of the ship, with whom he was slightly acquainted. Accordingly the

chief officer ushured the Kev. Brook

I down to tho captain's cabin. Alma ¡ watched him enter and began to

speculate as to what could bo his business and how sho was, interested in it. ' '

Tho captain met Brook with a sailor's hearty welcome and called to tho steward to bring wine. After pledging each other Brook oponed his business.

To be continued in next Tuesday's issue.

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