|Newspaper Title||Northern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Good at Last|
GOOD AT LAST*
BY " PUELLA."
Henry was left, at the close of the first chapter, flying" fro31 what seemed to offer him a prospect of degradation.-lower than almost any thing that he could think of. He knew that, if caught, he would be flogged this being the second time he had de serted. Than tTie lash nothing is more dreaded 1)v a soldier- Not that he is afraid of the physical pain it inflicts (for he bears it generally as firmly as he can, seldom complainingly) f but his pride, . his spirit, his- ; manhood, is lowered; he feels that he is reduced to the level of a brute,-thatlus keepers think is only to be managed with
While Ton?iifiro had been running, the sun had se£, twilijrht had passed, and *' darkness was visible." Henry kept plodding1 on, feeling sure that' in time he''should com6 to* somewhere"; though -he soon began- to consider whether-; or > pot iha$ eomeivher.e would be a place where he might safely hide. He was now, he believed, making towards Chatham, and though he knew that that place, ah~dthe cluster of towns surrounding it, would be full of soldiers and police, making his risk greater ; yet they mi "-lit not expect to find a deserter with sufficient temerity to come where they were, so in reality he might be able to obtain refreshment there, and pass-through -unnoticed.- -
He reached Chatham, and having got what he' wanted, proceeded across Rochester Bridge towards Strood, in tending to take the road thence to London, and when there to bide inilre best manner he could until 'means' of
greater safety.turned pp. . He, Jj.ad not gone far When' he heard voices jelling af'er him, and the sound of feet coming towards him. He guessed, and rightly, that they were those of the detectives -who l»y a better knowledge ,ojf the. country than he had thus gained on him. Before1 he could make up his mind what to.do, two pairs .of hands
had hold of hini, anji the,fodds might r: have been reasonably given that his , lodging- tliat might would ".have . been on the floor of a giiardroOm or -of a police cell. There is, however, no ac counting for the wonder fid; thi pgs that the heroes of novels 'many do; from the days of Jack-the-g-iant-killer to those of Lady Audley's j&rst husband
have tlife^ BOt^fwkys hadihStoos^ pe
culiar facilities forextricjrftingthls car cases froiji-eny\tro.ubles that they may have gotinto, troubles which jvquld have , to he sure utterly extaiguished any
but real, live thjer^j^s. So withfHenr^, j having coiiietG grief he.' being a hero,'
of course gets out of it, at least fortius ; time. , |/; , .VM ».
Ko sooner does he feel the hands on
his shoulders than he flings his arms out sideways; and* effectually, though not veryscientifi(^llj,:hringi5jii§ pfoe^ pective capttjrers to the grouifd. As a crowd was fast clpsing/round, he made discretion- the better -part of valour, and jumped on to the parapet of the bridge, - intending to take the water, and swim down the Medway a little way, getting on shore, there to take the chance of whatever happened. The officers, after
riinningteiL^ttfle^^^ch^^aftheir-r; man, and being in such a Tiorry .to catch him, were in no greater hurry,
to lose him. Scrambling up, they too ' get on. to the parapet; one seizing
Henry by the'other"' contented biniself vwitli '^a ^eg-: j Tlief .crowd did not interfere,.seeming rather
to enjoy the fun. f Th^h^cgpturfed man/ in endeavoring to free himself, slipped from fais;foptanginto,the dark ness below.- tfis semi-captors,'having
hold of pothipg bi& /jo^ilflbnok dp.i aught else but follow, this lime not so - willingly as when they had iirst com
menced r the* ^pursuit/ 'Their} fright >
caused themtoloosen their hold ofhim j
during ^e^^ l^hen*,he- touched '<
water he siWasAfree,; -.he. .could >;hjear.; shontsanft%ee iiightson.'eifchfer shore,
and knei/^^t^wp]ui\ii' to
attempt Vtanuuiig. - But ? *recetfi?&£eis:; dons andnAie f^reeent -itnibetsLcmM had so weakenfed-liimt th^t S^imnAn^ -was not in his power, and had ii'di a plulaa tropically disposed plank floated in his way at the momenta great deal ofithis history would have -been amwtitffln-3 on account of tfye premature death of its hero. On to tm&^TahlF;3ie? seized,
and in' ahalf conscious' state 'was' dri fteddown-therlver intothe~Thames^
which*, at the spot jwihepe .Heii^y. came " into it, has more'"tti^^^arance of a sea than of ariver..:.*.
This night wasoneremembered for.
had known. ' AlfcthatJBtenry wafeiqog-- *
nisant of w^;^iit^e'?whsJtJiridwfa^B'faH manner of
sometimes on h^jbd^Cjiis I^^ gpine times his- head ifwas~ uppennQSt, ';at
others his heels were iu the ascendant.
He stuck to his 'plank, tand had'^^iim idea that ,a: larg^' yessel had passsed bim,hehad6eenlights; that he had
strudk- ^against fits -tMat «Uiey i had throvrahima rope? wEich he had
notstten^thr4jotsieadvantegjfeiof*; and that they had' 'evjett d ^oat.for
him, bujt,that ^a^'of.no use^a^ihe^was - unable 'to ;to th^. Jr Ao.-niakB^
known ,^teel went wairosrooiilinued.
their sport wirfi him, till he,.wk&con
tinued bufiettinyg-, iost what little; con- i sciouspess ^Chadiiutherto remained j
pri vation HlE^J^as foixnd and picked !
'Written exj*^jr tor till journal Bight erfxepab
ishing reserved. . . > 1
up at daylight the next morning- by the owner of si sailing barge, who was I on his journey from London to Sheer
, hesiT villi a -freight -of-dockyard ne- - j ^essa^ies, ^andl'ivho/on seeingjSei head'?
-bobbing about in the water, had a most natural anxiety to find out whether tne head's belongings wfere in a lire or dead state of being. That he decided by waiting until the head had drifted towards l+i 1115-and taking that and the body belonging to it on hoard.
When that was done, Captain Biggs and his mate Torn (a lad of 14 years, who with the captain formed t!ie en tire crew of the vessel) set to work - and- brought - our friend into a suffi
ciently .lively state as-to lead them "to expect an answer to inquiry as to where he had'come from, and win" he had been in tlie water.
To the questions asked him, Henry
wppld $n swef-jxy&tliijigt jbujt itjiat j ilis.n name was Smith-Stephen Smith-and that lie did not know how he got into the iness in which they found him. The eaptairi "had that morning picked
up a broken boat belonging to a man- ?? of-war. and thought that his foundling was perhaps spine-runaway sailor who had got upset from tlie boat.
The picking-up scene had taken pTace off Sheerness; and Bigg's'house wjas but six uiiles,from,theuee; so, as he thought Stephen-as lie must for the present be called-would like to l( keep dark," he dropped anchor just -out of-the-stream, lowered the boat,
left the barge in charge of his mate, and iroxed. his new acquaintance, to
wards the inlet-four or five miles below Sheerness, oa which his little house and garden were situated.
" They goi there in less than an hour, .-and .Stephen -was taken in, fresh clothed, fed, and senf to bed-to rest with a better-satisfied mind than he expected5'to hare eniove'd for sonie time. . " "