Chapter 61305860

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter TitleTWENTY-FIVE WELL LAID ON.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61305860
Full Date1899-12-23
Page Number10
Corrections0
Word Count4272
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleClarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 - 1915)
Trove TitleFrom Convict to Countess
article text

I

I . CHAPTER XII.

' TWKKTT-HVE W,ELL JJAID ON.

Endicottt ""What ia the stir and tumult

in the street?"

Merry : " Wonhipful sir, The whipping of

a girl."

Tho sun shone brightly, undimmed by a single cloud. A gentle breeze sighed among tho wattles, the waves kissed softly the shores of Fort Jack- son. Men sped busily about intent on business or pleasure, and Nature and sr.oiety wont on as usual-not pausing or. hinting at any injustice or shame, tears or torture, in tho Barrack Yard.

Certainly Captain Crawford, and

, Lieutenant St. John (who came out by

the last ship to join the 104th Regi- ment) were the last men in the world to care a jot what happened to man, woman, or child-so long as their lives and pleasures were not affected.

" Come along, St. Jdhn," said tho Captain, " I will take yoi down to thes : Major's, and introduce you to John-

ston; he will be glad ¡to make your acquaintance. What made you leave London," ho enquired is they set off, "and come out to* |¡iM^hole ó£ a place?" , ' "

"Well,'I had been ¡going the pace for soma time, and the (town, grew too hot for me, so-Ithoughkait prudent to.

go away for a time," Replied Alma's ci diyant military friead, ''tb a place where I should not be'likely to meet enquiring friends äüd-fah ein-credit- ors." .. \' ' T. i ' ?

A schoolboy once wrote in his diary '/ The world is very large, and I um very small," but the {converso must occasionally bo true', , ipr' just ns tho two officers exchanged confidences they met" Burke and 'Alma euteriug tho gateway of the Barracks."

.' Crawford, long'experienced! in the convict. routine, took in tho, situation at a glance. Ho stopped short and looked after the retreating' pair." ;

Look, St. John, that Hs au awfully fido womnn gone down";jho'. courtyard,' for a " few dozen." l^bélievo it's old Munroq's pretty governess. .What.do you say if wo go in and sfo. her stripped to.tho buff '; >wo should know.whether

she comes up jib her'í^p'utníiciri.' Sho' is a fino ' piece., of goids,' and ought to peel'woll."; . </.'.: i . >

. Nothing loathe, ít. John turned with his friend thi'oigb.,the ' gate, arid enquired for tho superintendent.. .They found him nt his dinner. After nc

copting a drink, ther ascertained that tho girl about to ko ' punished was Munroe's-celebrated.beaüty, inid ' they strolled leisurely dotti to the ti'iniiglcs. . "I ought to 'lave*-''had«-the girl myself," observed Crawfórd"ponsively as ' they sauntored'bh, " but Johnston and Munroe worked tho ' Oracle,', and did me but of her'jilbut'here ia tho fair prisoner triced up.V ' ...

They stopped J.' and . scrutinised ' miserable. Alma wliting, in,sickening suspense"the . arrivlliof "the «superin- tendent and; ;thp;\sui,geon, a dry choking sob breakinrj at lbñg.inter vals from her panting IOTSMÎ.^ ., ..'

. "By-.Jove," 'Gaiwfoifd: exclaimed, " tho : naked :*-re kitty*. *- exceeds1 the splendid promise,» ia; suggosted in ber uniform.,,- ¡ Hor" ,l^g'om;v'was always . threatening to burit'hor-dress-t-". .....

" His companibn'spv^oices broko" upon

his ear, and made "5m pause.

" Alma Grey, .by¡ d'-^-" ,'?

" Then you'.¡kfiqw tho. .Governess, St. John ? "? said ;Crawford in surprise. '.'" Oh, yes, sho is' arformer friend-' an old swccrlicart!", vri¡s tho unblush- ing- rojoindcr. ? " I kn¿?w her, in tho old country. I will intfoduco myself," he said with a cynical smile, slipping close to Alma. ' I' '

,. " Good morning, Mps Grey. It is ,a pleasure to meet y ot again," and ho .'liftod his hat.'- 1 .'','f : ; ?'?>*' . -

..'.¿Tho: girl, turned her eyes upon tho smiling officer,, but pavo .no;(sign pf recognition except a contraction of hbr brows. '..--.. j ... ?'?;:-,..- .. .

'." It is a groat ohangt,";ho continued; '":from;tha>%Boadoipw.'t^e ÍCounteás 'to thotriangles.' ; I lam griovod that you., havo experienced ao;. groat a

roverse of fortunó."/, :\,

"When ho got no'roply he beckoned

'io Crawford; >nd|:'tho ' two- frionds1

'withdrew from.tho ring .of. spectators to the back'of Burled, oh tho fringe of

tho crowd, and he heard St. John say : :í "Crawford, ,is there any way to snye'the 'girl from punishment, and to get her .' into , my service. . You have nil the colonial experience,''and'I haye none. Advise moi thero'è a . good fellow ? " , .;-!-V;;v;>:; ' ???'-;

Tho Captain :hositatod,. and pulled his moustache thoughtfully, and then looked- keenly at his friend-" Well, yes ; ' I could do it,, I.believe." .: ""And.:will you ? "jiilJ", hi' -'. i. \. .:

Well,", it depends^ "**If ' I put the girl into your 'poáBÓ'ásibiíj'Svlieredo I come in? ',' '. '. ? : " '"

St. John, in his turn, eyed his fellow Kbcrtino.,V-'-'.'.'':.vä};'' '' ?sri'*W? '* ; ' ?'

" Where do you uwtf'tb come in ? " "Well," Crawford-said; i'.you can- not get tho. Governess ? without, my help ; and if I put her into your keep- ing, willyou at tho end of'sit months pass her to mo. ? Yes or no ? " .

; " Well, I don't caro if I do," I answered St. John; '];',?! ''shall havo' I gratified my revenge, and I suppose I

shall havo : tired of bor too by that timo. Sho can be reassigned to you. T don't caro what' becomes bf hor; when you have donb : with 'hor, pass her on to the Ensign.'' :'.

?". I havo' no objection tójdo that," said tho' Captain:' -VjfcalwnfB' said it'

was on-infernal pity that: such-a" iiue girl should bo lost to^-.the regiment, lint como -.'further*"away' from' the crowd, and. I will unfohimy plan."

.They moved away, and Burke caught no more of thpir conversation,

Meanwhile',. JOUOB h'od.stnrted . again his argument about arfi); The rest of tho gaol ollicials joined in, and thoir victim was forced to liston to their criticisms lipon her charms. They pnssed ribald jests upon ? hor various points, and discussed the' contour of hor shoulders and hips, waist and bosom, ns if. she lind been a benst for sale. Sho would hnvo stopped hor oars, but hor hands wcro bound. Thou

j presently she forgot tho horror'of her

'position and its surroundings; and her thoughts soared away to;tho past.

Once ' moro, she walked '-.through, spacious glades and-long,dim -aisles of trees, tho broad .rich' Jonds;i.the pic turcsqno cottages ,an&farms;-..spread in iioblo panorama'.boforo Ker :: view. Ho." inver wnlked'Ä,beside Sor, and breathtid: vows': of^ Undying lovovinto her willing cars. ' She henrd.lhis voice painting, their brilliaut^fnttire, as

'Grandpn, dear,' wa have cometo wish you many happy returns of tba doy ; and mamma. naya il yon glvo ua uaoh half a or own, wo oro not to IOHO .it. on our .way I home.. , .. .

Elnmentory Arithmetic.-! How rmi oh. is

I ZO minna 20 ?' iso answer. '.Well, then,

eupposo you have got 20 pennie», and you go and los» them what have you got then in your poobefc V A bol».'

j When ia a widow like o gardener 7-When

Bhe trim tn get rid of her weed*.

WhatJ bus han found room for the greatest number of people?-Oolum-bnp,

suririgher Üiat the Nobility of England would welcome her as ms wife, and

their Sovereign receive her as his j Cpuntess, that as such she would

reign as the most attractive and lovely j woman of the Royal Court. j

-.A loud oath aroused her. She looked up, wondering if she did not dream. What was that circle of men ? AVhat.was it that chained their eyes, their attention? She traced their glances to ono central object-it waa herself. Sho looked down upon her own person. Why, sho was half naked and exposed as a show for their

amusement ! Her hands and feet were fast ; she could not cover herself. Were those »rüde straps upon her

wrists the diamond bracelets sho had

been promised? That shameful un-

dress hor court attire? Was that hard coil of her hair the tiara of a countess ?

Then she remembered. O Heaven ! This which seemed a dream of horror

was the. dreadful reality ; that of her bright sqene was the vision. . Despair whispered to her that she could never be. tho wife of a proud Earl ; that she had been condemned a convict; that she was now a shamed and insulted victim j that she would bo in a few minutes. under tho ruthless hands of tho executioner, and receive tho treat« mont meted out to harlots and. violent criminals. She .would receive no consideration on account of her sex, her youth, or her beautyJ but on the contrary, she -was about to be most brutally flogged. No beast would be half so scourged as her. own naked and ' defenceless body, by the profes- sional llagilator.

These distressing thoughts were interrupted by St. John's musical voice, saying, "Pardon -me, Miss Gray. . I know you'..dislike me, but that is no reason why I should not su ve you from dégradation and torture, from shame-alas, I cannot-I am too late. . Will you let me be your friond?.

Alma turned .a languid gl'anco upon ..the speaker. "You cannot Bave me,"' she replied, and again closed her eyes.' '.J. ." I can, and will, if you are willing to allow me," said St. John, confidently. " My friend Crawford has. pledged himself, to me, to get your chastise- ment postponed for two hours, and in tho ; meantime to oblige Henderson to .caucel, the order for your punishmont, pending an inquiry as to your inno- cence. On my part, I promise to procuro or. buy ample evidence to support and provo your denial of your guilt-a fow pounds will do- that. What do you say ? "

A dawning hope flashed into the despairingj|eyos ; the dusky shadows

in them lifted. ,

-. "And you will do this for mo?" sho said joyfully. "Oh, thank you; forgive my hard thoughts about you î'wronged you. I took you for my enemy; Iinevor^.imagined" you wero my true friend." , . ' ' ? ', ??'

At her thanks, St. John shifted from ono foot to the other.

. -: " Then it is settled. Crawford and I porf orm our parts, and you will do yours? - .

" What is.my part? " said Alma.

"To deny: your guilt. Charge tho Munroes with injustice, and. apply to bo transferred from their service to

mine.

Alma fixed a searching, penetrating gaze upon the eyes of St. John. Sho lookod boyoñd tho regular, featuros and fascinating smile, and saw deop down a baleful light in his dark orbs. Her- woman's instinot, her short'but iorriblo. experience, Burke's Bhaken bend and uplifted finger on tho out-

skirt of tho crowd warned her of tho

hidoius truth. Tho light of hope faded out, and a grey shadow settled upon hor face. . ,

"1 will assert my innocence, and apply to bo transferred to some other family; but, excuse mc St. John, I

cannot consent to onter tho home of

¡any officer in tho 104th." :

.. lint you must-, Miss Grey. That is my condition. Neither my friend 'nor 1 can help you unless you do."

" I refuse absolutely," said Alma. '

St. John's lip curled with chagrin. Ho dropped tho mask.

" Thoro is no time for argument, for tho superintendent is coming. Ho only stays to speak to that warderI will tell you tho truth, you have just ' timo eneugh to choose. Which will ; you have, my embrace and a life pf

pleasure or the embrace of tho. cat with' torture and slavery? Which is it to be? Choose?" , # ! ' - Alma turned her faco towards him.

" I choose torture a thousand times.

'You-never ! " That is the last -word

between us. I dismiss you. Go 1 "

" You fool," said the amazed officer. " In five minutes, when the skin on your sensitivo back is cut into ribbons, you will wish you had takon my offer."

The voice of tho superintendent had brokon in upon Alma's reply.

Ho asked tho doctor if the girl was sound and healthy. " Examine tho wench, .doctor ? It is only a matter of form; I can seo by hor robust ap- pearance that she is quite ablo to bear tho punishment,"

. ;The surgeon tested her pulse, laid his hand upon her heart, listened to her breathing. I am sorry to say she .can stand her punishment. I deeply regret I cannot stop this cruelty."

. AU right," said tho superintendent, standing back. " Now. Jeffrey, I will count. Remember tho lashes aro to bo well laid on¡ but don't lot her faint before she gets most of them."

"It is o'pity," said tho hangman, but it can't be helped. Jones held his cat^withits heavy: lashos while he threw , off his coat and rolled up Iiis right sleeve. He took tho whip and stopped to Alma's left side. Sho tried not to look at him-, but she could not holp it. . Sho was fascinated with teiTor ; her'eyes dilated to twico their size. The superintendent, asked Jeffroy if ho wa» ready; . the mau

nodded, fi Ting his eyes on the girl's

shoulders. In a loud Voice the official counted

" One." . ' ?.

At1 the -word Alma saw the coih> of tho whip swing-into the air ; she watched them straighten out above her ; she even noticed the contracting muscles on the', striker's arm; she

heard a swishing sound as the thongs flashed down, followed by a thud. As she heard it, she felt a dreadful shock, united with cutting, burning streaks of flame, which darted through her naked shoulders as ' the hissing lashes scored her. across tho back. I Instantly, as the heavy tails rebounded

from her quivering flesh, half-a-dozen purple wales, thick as a finger and beaded with blood drops, .stood out on : smooth and snowy Alma.

Oh, the agony, the maddening, ex- cruciating pain-words could not describo it. She could not shriek, although her anguish was so great as to excite a dull surprise, for the shock had-emptied her lungs of breath ; she was choking. . " .

"Two." ,

The shock and flame, tho wales' and agony, repeated themselves. Then the fugative breath rushed back into her gasping bosom, and she' gave) a piercing shriek charged with torment.

. "Three."

The same torture, the same results ; bat sho must f oreo herself toshorten her involuntary shrieks in order to beg for mercy.

" Four," from the official.'

Swish, thud, from tho executioner.

Scream, "Spare me," from the

victim." ? .. . "Five."

Swish, thud, scream, . I cannot

bear, it 1 "

./".Six." .

??. Swish, thud, scream " Oh, oh; mercy,

I'm a woman." ..

Tho vvoice , of .Jones,: was hoard,. "Give the whip moro. Bwing, Jeff, you are too soft." \ " Seven." -

.. Swish, thud, scream, " You cut me to pieces."

? Comment from- Jones,. " That is better," now tho blood runs down her body.

"Eight."

Swish, thud, scream, " Stay, you .will'kill me."'.

Jeffrey,'warming to his work,wielded '-his whip with a wondorfiii precision and fearful force, which dolighted Jones. He jeered . tho shrieking woman. " Jump away I told you that i you would want to danoo ; how nimbly she lifts each foot from tho ground ;

see how she works each shoulder and twists her supplo waist. _ How she . tugs at tho straps to release hor arms ; sho would fend off the lash with her hands. ; Now she. has .another trick

-sho tries tb' break tho straps which

confinó her . ankles ; sho, wants to shield her back with ber leg and foot,' but you would only show your baro I limits under, that skirt, my beauty. Unfasten her .feet, Jeff, and she will

, aliow you the high, kick."

' But Jones lind' an unappreciative

listener in the surgeon. His face had expressed stupefaction, then concern, which had deepened'into positive pain as he watched the severity of the ? girl's- punishment-her shrieks for

? mercy, her "unavailing ' struggles " ; to

protect her tortured , back-his face grow black with indignation and wrath. At her screams ho dug his nails into the palms'of his hands, and when Jones so brutally derided her ' .agonised convulsions he looked round , ! as for some weapon '; then ho took a

sovereign from his pocket and put it

into, tho hand of a thick set wnrdor who stood next to him. " Silence

that mnn'JoneB," he whispered.

The warder put up .tho coin, and nodded. Walking to tho sido of tho objectionable man, he struck him a ' violent blow-under tho ear. No one

noticed the act,'for all tho spectators wero intently gazing on tho gratifying sight that Alma presented. . The man so struck fell down and ' scemod to sleep for a minute, and thon sat up, holding his head in both hands..

Bjr this time Alma's screams were less piorcing ; she might suffer ns much, but. her strength and breath wero both getting spent.- Indeed, she writhed more deeply still, as Jeffrey . disposed tho last half dozen ncross her / loins. " But when the superintendent I called

."Twenty-five," . _

. Her back was, getting numb. Mists began to float before ber eyes, and a roaring sound was in her oars; but , then the brutal, maddening lash

stopped. . .

" Let tho wench go !. " called out tho official in charge, and a warder un- strapped her feet and then her hands. Alma staggered through the ring of men who had witnessed her punish- ment.' Blood trickled down her lip, her face was pale'as death, her oyos wild and bloodshot, while tho back of her smock, which,hung from her hips, was changed from,white to red. She did not attempt to: dress, but-looked round terrified, not knowing what to do, or where to go.

The-surgeon sprang to her aid, stumbling over Jones, who received a severe kick in the ribs and an apology.

" I bog your pardon Jones, but clear out before you break my neck."

JoneB reeled away, and tho doctor caught Alma by the arm.

"Bear up, my poor girl," ho said, "your shameful punishment is over. Burka, support her under the othor shoulder, and bring her this way to the .dispensary. Here, drink this glass of spirits. Down with it. Sit on this stool whilo I dress your back."

He applied a lotion to thc bruised and bleeding nosh, which Bniartcd dreadfully at first, but which stopped the blood and closed up tho cuts nt once. Ho then supplied her with clean undor-garments ; and. not till sho had recovered hor strength and

ceased to tremble did he "bid Burke-! give , bor Hs" arm and lead her slowly

home. .'

Dr. Carter enquired of 'Alina as sho left the barracks, " What -was tho real cause of your punishment, MÍSB Alma?" - ^ .

"Munroe forced a kiss upon mo,, and his -wife glutted her revenge on-, tho innocent and helpless victim."

" Just so ; I see how it was, poor girl. Good-bye." . .

Emma was waiting for Alma when; Burke brought - her back, rocking hcrself to and fro in speechless grief.. "When she saw tho Governess, she told; her, ns soon os she could speak cor- rectly, that " the mistress had ordered her to como to the sitting room thc

moment she returned."

Alma had to obey. As she entered., tho room, her mistress bade bor approach and stand before her, look- ing intently nt Alma'B face as sho

camo near.

A look of gratified malice overspread.

Mrs. Munroe's features as she gnzod.. " Stand there, and lot mo look at you.. Yes, you have had it ; blood-shot eyes, .with black circles .round them, white-

face, swollen mid bitten lips. Take- down your clothes, so that I can see your back."

When' Alma had uncovered hersclf she said in a satisfied tone, " Yes,, Jeffrey has laid them on well.- " Hore aro welts nearly ns thick ns thc thong you have had a good cutting up. Now give mo an account.'.'

Here a stop was hoard in tho hall,,

anda hand was laid on the door;''"" :

" It is Munroe," said tho wife. '

. Alma made a movement to recover

kerself. ' <" Her mistress caught her arm. Stay ns you are. I am goingr to make.Munroe seo what has becu

. done."

As soon as ho entered the room, she called out':imperiously, " Como here,"' ho advanced .a few steps, but stopped when ho saw Alma's troubled face andi state of undress. " Como hero," hi» wife repeated. " You Mtv nor. so par- ticular; I know you and your morality also." When ho carno close she said

pointing,-'' Look at your favorite."

" I soo her," ho said.- -

"No, but look at her well. Tum your back to him, Grey. Soo thoriy

and there ?"

? " Good, God," he. said, " what ia

this? " '

" Listen,"- said his wife, " and youi , will learn." ', s

" Now,' toll mej ' Grey, what haw been done to you this afternoon ? £. sent you to Hy do Park for 25 lashes What was tho charge ?" .

- Alma replied in a hesitating voice,, saying, " Disobedience."

" Speak up, I cannot hear. Wlrafc happened then ? "

" I was flogged."

" Before that, I mean ?"

." I was -stripped and tied." " Who flogged you ? " " Tho hangman."

" Who w-as there ? " ? " The'warders."

" You got 25 with tho cat ? " . ."Yes." , v\'

. "Did you writhe and cry for mercy ?" V' " Yes."

- ' " Whero is tho smock you lind or.,

at tho Barracks ? " ' " I left it thoro."

' "Was it bloody?"

"Yes.",

"Now, remember this caution. If" I catch you making eyes at men, I will'

send you at once for tho whip ; and if ' I find you playing with Munroo, pr Munroe witli you, off you go next timo for fifty lashos. What ' that means, you can feel and seo. No doubt you nave admired your fnco and. form in that pier-glass before; now look at your . reflection. . Is it the samo? , Stand here and twist your head round. , Well, - you; seo those

scorod shoulders? Look at the swollen and lacerated back.! ' To whom,' does it belong ? Who is that? "

" That glass," Alma replied,."gives'

back tho likeness of a. lady of butter ' birth and parwntago than 'you own, 1

Mrs. Munroo. It is tho reflection

also-of a friendless, helpless girlj who- . has powerful enemies; A tenderly, reared innocent; young creature- wns*. blasted by a ! false charge,-convicted

and transported in tho company of" thieves and harlots. Broken hearted,, bereft of every hope : of her promised, husband, she still '-. strove to' do hei duty, and to keep her purity ; by n.

miraclo she did so, oven -while her companions were forced into sin..

Providence and the Stnto cast her

upon your protection and that of your- ? husband. How you have discharged your duty to mo and to thorStáte j-ou.

well know. -My beauty incited' this.

man to make me a prey. My..helpless.. condition gives him opportunity to db so, and at the ? same time .'makes mo- tile unhappy subjoct. of; your jealous.; rage and revenge. .. .

"I see in-that:glass, madnm; the friendless object of, licentious pursuit,, and the helpless victim bf tho brutality practised on mo; by you this"day.\ .1:

have now answored. the question yoú.. put to me to. the best of my ability. I am broken-hearted, -weak, and shat- tered from the torturo ¿nd degradation I havoso lately suffered, and if there: is ono spark of manly honor left ini ?Mr. Munroe, or ono touch of womanly feeling common to our sex . in. you,, then in that case you .will permit me- to retire to my room." -

As neitlior master nor mistress,

mado any reply, Alma took silence for consont. She gathered, up her dis- ordered garments about her shoulders,, and .left tho apartments. When tho door shut,'Mrs. Munroe's jaw, which had remained, open while Alma was speaking, shut also, in sympathy with

tho door.

. Her husband got his hat in silence ;.

he turned on tho threshold of tho room and looked back. 'Thou ho spoke three words, short and strong, to his wife, "l'on damned liniii-. ino clang of tho closing door »aid amen to his parting benediction.

To be 'continued in next Tuesday's issue. »

A Polite Offer.-Here, take my seat, lady, said the little boy on the oar, BB he sprang from his father's knee and doffed MB hat,. The lady looked like a bluBh rose, the woman giggled, tho father signalled the conductor to atop, and half a dozen men stood up while urging the lady to sit down.

Why are old whist-players Ilks monkeyB î* -BeoaoBO they havo odd tricks.