It Is Never Too Late to Mend by Charles Reade
Hawes and Fry sat in council. A copy of the prison rules was before them, and the more they looked at them after Mr. Eden's interpretation, the less they liked them: they were severe and simple; stringent against the prisoners on certain points; stringent in their favor on others.
"The sick-list must go to the infirmary, I believe," said Hawes, thoughtfully. "He'd beat us there. The justices will support me on every other point, because they must contradict themselves else. I'll have that fellow out of the jail, Fry, before a month is out, and meantime what can I do to be revenged on him?"
"Punish 'em all the more," suggested the simple-minded Fry.
"No, that won't do; better keep a little quiet now till he is out of the jail. Fine it would look if he was really to bribe these vermin to bring actions against me, and subpoena himself and that sneaking dog, Evans."
"Well, sir, but if you turn him out he will do it all the more."
"You fool, can't you see the difference? If he comes into court a servant of the crown every lie he tells will go for gospel. But if he comes a disgraced servant, cashiered for refractory conduct, why then we could tell the jury it is all his spite at being turned off."
"You know a thing or two, sir," whined the doleful Fry.
Hawes passed him a fresh tumbler of grog, and pondered deeply and anxiously. But suddenly an idea flashed on him that extinguished his other meditations. "Give me the rules." He ran his eye rapidly over them. "Why, no! of course not, what a fool I was not to see that half an hour ago."
"What is it, sir?"
"Finish your grog first, and then I have a job for you." He sat down and wrote two lines on a slip of paper.
"Have you done?"
"Then take this order."
"And the printed rules in your hand--here, take 'em."
"And take Hodges and Evans with you, and tell me every word that sneaking dog, Evans, says and everything he does."
"Yes, sir. But what are we all three to do?"
"Execute this order!"
An ebullition of wrath was as rare with Mr. Eden as an eruption of Vesuvius. His deep-rooted indignation against cruelty remained; it was a part of his nature. But his ruffled feathers smoothed themselves the moment little Hawes & Co. were out of his eye. He even said to himself, "What is the matter with me? one moment so despondent, the next irascible. I hardly know myself. I must take a little of my antidote." So saying he proceeded to visit some of those cells into which he had introduced rational labor (anti-theft he called it). Here he found cheerful looks as well as busy hands. Here industry was relished with a gusto inconceivable to those who have never stagnated body and soul in enforced solitude and silence. Here for the time at least were honest converts to anti-theft. He had seen them dull and stupid, brutalized, drifting like inanimate bodies on the heavy waters of the Dead Sea. He had drawn them ashore and put life into them. He had taught their glazed eyes to sparkle with the stimulus of rational and interesting work, and those same eyes rewarded him by beaming on him with pleasure and gratitude whenever he came. This soothed and cheered his weary spirit vexed by the wickedness and stupidity that surrounded him and obstructed the good work.
His female artisans gave him a keen pleasure, for here he benefited a sex as well as a prisoner. He had long been saying that women are as capable as men of a multitude of handicrafts, from which they are excluded by man's jealousy and grandmamma's imbecility. And this wise man hoped to raise a few Englishwomen to the industrial level of Frenchwomen and Englishmen; not by writing and prattling that the sex are at present men's equals in intelligence and energy, which is a stupid falsehood calculated to keep them forever our inferiors by persuading them they need climb no higher than they have climbed.
His line was very different. "At present you are infinitely man's inferior in various energy," said he. "Dependents are inferiors throughout the world."
If they were not so at first starting such a relation would make them so in two months.
"Try and be more than mere dependents on men," was his axiom. "Don't talk that you are his equal, and then open that eloquent mouth to be fed by his hand--do something! It is by doing fifty useful and therefore lucrative things to your one that man becomes your creditor, and a creditor will be a superior to the world's end. Out of these fifty things you might have done twenty as well as he can do them, and ten much better; and those thirty, added to the domestic duties in which you do so much more than your share, would go far to balance the account and equalize the sexes."
Thus he would sometimes talk to the more intelligent of his hussies; but he did a great deal more than talk. He supplied from himself that deficiency of inventive power and enterprise which is woman's weak point; and he tilled those wide powers of masterly execution which they possess unknown to grandpapa Cant and grandmamma Precedent. As this clear head had foreseen, his women came out artisans. The eye that could thread a needle proved accurate enough for anything. Their supple, taper fingers soon learned to pick up type and place it quite as quick as even the stiff digits of the male, all one size from knuckle to nail. The same with watch-making and other trades reputed masculine; they beat the men's heads off at learning many kinds of fingerwork new to both; their singular patience stood them in good stead here; they undermined difficulties that the males tried to jump over and fell prostrate.
A great treat was in store; one of the fruit-trees he had planted in the huge fallow of ---- Jail was to be shaken this afternoon. Two or three well-disposed prisoners had been set to review their past lives candidly, and to relate them simply, with reflections. Of these Mr. Eden cut out every one which had been put in to please him, retaining such as were sober and seemed. genuine to his lynx eye.
Mr. Eden knew that some men and women listen more to their fellows than their superiors--to the experiences and sentiments of those who are in their own situation, than to those who stand higher but farther away. He had found out that a bad man's life honestly told is a beacon. So he set "roguery teaching by examples."
There were three male narratives in the press and two female. For a day or two past the printers (all women) had been setting up the type and now the sheets were to be struck off.
There was no little expectation among the prisoners. They were curious to see their compeers in print, and to learn their stories, and see how they would tell them; and as for the writers, their bodies were immured, but their minds fluttered about on tip-toe round the great engine of publicity, as the author of the "Novum Organon" fluttered when he first went into print, and as the future authoress of "Lives and Careers of Infants in Arms" will flutter.
The press stood in the female-governor's room. One she-artisan, duly taught before, inked the type and put in a blank sheet.
No. 2 pulled the bar of the press toward her, and at the moment of contact threw herself back with sudden vigor and gave the telling knip; the types were again covered with ink, the sheet reversed, and No. 3 (one of the writers) drew out a printed sheet--two copies of two stories complete.
"Oh! oh! oh!" cried No. 3, flushing with surprise and admiration, "how beautiful! See, your reverence, here is mine--'Life of an Unfortunate Girl.'"
"Yes, I see it. And pray what do you mean by an unfortunate girl?"
"Oh, sir! you know."
"Unfortunate means one whom we are bound to respect as well as pity. Has that been your character?"
"No," was the mournful reply.
"Then why print a falsehood? Falsehoods lurk in adjectives as well as substantives. Misapplied terms are strongholds of self-deception. Nobody says, 'I am unfortunate, therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.' Such words are fortifications to keep self-knowledge and its brother repentance from the soul."
"Oh, sir! what am I to call myself?" She hid her face in her hands.
"My dear, you told me a week ago you were--a penitent."
"So I am, indeed I am. Sir, may I change it to 'a penitent girl?'"
"You would make me very happy if you could do it with truth."
"Then I can, indeed I can." And she took out "an unfortunate," and put in "a penitent."
"There," said she, glowing with exultation and satisfaction, "'Life of a Penitent Girl.'"
Oh; it was a pretty sight. Their little hearts were all in it. Their little spirits rose visibly as the work went on--such beaming eyes--such glowing cheeks and innocent looks of sparkling triumph to their friend and father, who smiled back like Jupiter, and quizzings of each other to stimulate to greater speed.
In went the sheets, on went the press, out came the tales, up grew the pile, amid quips and cranks and rays of silver-toned laughter, social labor's natural music. They were all so innocent and so happy, when the door was unceremoniously opened, and in burst Fry and Hodges, followed by Evans crawling with his eyes on the ground.
The work-women looked astonished, but did not interrupt their work. Fry came up to Mr. Eden and gave him a slip of paper on which Hawes had written an order that all work not expressly authorized by the law should be expelled from the jail on the instant.
Mr. Eden perused the order, and the color rose to the roots of his hair. By way of comment Fry put the prison-rules under his eye.
"Anything about printing, or weaving, or watchmaking in these rules, sir?"
Mr. Eden was silent.
"Perhaps you will cast your eye over 'em and see, sir," continued Fry slyly. "Shouldn't like to offend the law again."
Mr. Eden took the paper, but not to read it--he knew it by heart. It was to hide his anguish from the enemy. Hawes had felled him with his own weapon. He put down the paper and showed his face, which was now stern and composed.
"What we are doing is against the letter of the law, as your pillory and your starvation of prisoners are against both letter and spirit. Mr. Hawes shall find no excuse for his illegal practices in any act of mine."
He then turned to the artisans. "Girls, you must leave off."
"Leave off, sir?" cried No. 3 faintly.
"Yes, no words; obey the prison-rules; they do not allow it."
"Come, my birds," shouted Hodges roughly to the women. "Stand clear, we want this gear."
"What do you want of it, Mr. Hodges?"
"Only to put it outside the prison-gate, sir. That is the order."
The printing-press, representative of knowledge, enemy of darkness, stupidity, cruelty; organ of civilization--was ignominiously thrust to the door.
This feat performed, they went to attack anti-theft.
"Will you come along with us, sir, to see it is all legal?" sneered Fry.
"I will come to see that insolence is not added to cruelty."
At the door of Mary Baker's cell Mr. Eden hung back as Hodges and Fry passed in. At last, after a struggle, he entered the cell. The turnkeys had gathered up the girl's work and tools, and were coming out with them, while the artisan stood desolate in the middle of the cell.
"Oh, sir," cried she to Mr. Eden, "I am glad you are here. These blackguards have broke into my cell, and they are robbing it."
"Hush, Mary; what they are doing is the law, and we were acting against the law."
"Were we, sir?"
"Yes. It is a bad law, and will be changed; but till it is changed we must obey it. You are only one victim among many. Be patient, and pray for help to bear it."
"Yes, your reverence. Are they all to be robbed of their tools?"
"Poor things!" said Mary Baker.
"Evans, it is beyond my strength--I am but a man; I can bear even this, but I can't bear to see it done. I can't bear it! I can't bear it!"
And his reverence turned his back on the moral butchers, and crept away to his own room. There he sank into a chair and laid his brow upon the table with his hands stretched out before him and his whole frame trembling most piteously.
Eden and Hawes are not level antagonists--one takes things to heart, the other to temper.
In this bitter hour it seemed to him impossible that he could ever counteract the pernicious Hawes.
"There is but one chance left for these poor souls. I shall try it, and it will fail. Well! let it fail! Were there a thousand more chances against me than there are I must battle to the last. Let me mature my plan;" and he fell into a sad but stern reverie.
He lay thus crushed, though not defeated, more than two hours in silence. Had Hawes seen him he would have exulted at his appearance.
"A man from the jail to speak to you, sir."
A heavy rap at the parlor door, and Evans came in sheepishly smoothing down his hair. Mr. Eden turned his head as he lay on the sofa and motioned him to a seat.
"I couldn't sleep till I had spoken to you. I obeyed your orders, sir. We have undone your work."
"How did the poor souls bear it?"
"Some cried, some abused us, one or two showed they were better than we are."
"They prayed Heaven to forgive us and hoped we might never come to know what they felt. I wish I'd never seen the inside of a jail. Fry got a scratched face in one cell, sir."
"I am sorry to hear that. I shall have to scold her; who was it?"
"You won't scold her; you won't have the heart."
"I will scold her whether I have the heart or not. Who was it?"
"No. 57, a gal that had some caterpillars."
"Yes, sir, silkworms, and it seems she has got to be uncommon fond of them, calls 'em her children, poor soul. When we came in and went to take them away she stood up for 'em and said we had no right--his reverence gave them her."
"Well, sir, of course they made short work and took them away by force. Then I saw the girl turn white and her eye getting wildish; however, I don't know as it would have come to anything, but with them snatching away the leaves and the grubs one of them fell on the ground. The poor girl she goes to lift it up and Fry he sees her and put his foot on it before she could get to it."
"I dare say he didn't stop to think, you know; but I don't envy him having done it. Well, sir, he paid for it. The girl just gave one sort of a yell--you could not call it anything else--and she went right at his head, both claws going and as quick one after another as a cat. The blood squirted like a fountain--I never saw anything like it. She'd have killed him if it hadn't been for Hodges and me."
"Killed him? nonsense--a great strong fellow!"
"No nonsense at all, sir. She was stronger than he was for a moment or two and that moment would have done his business. She meant killing. Sir," said Evans, lowering his voice, "her teeth were making for his jugular when I wrenched her away, and it was like tearing soul from body to get her off him, and she snarling and her teeth gnashing for him all the time."
Mr. Eden winced.
"The wretched creature! I was putting her on the way to heaven, and in one moment they made a fiend of her. Evans, you are not the same man you were a month ago."
"No, sir, that I am not. When I think of what a brute I used to be to them poor creatures, I don't seem to know myself."
"What has changed you?"
"Oh, you know very well."
"Do I? No; I have a guess; but--"
"Why your sermons, to be sure."
"Yes, sir. Why, how could I hear them and my heart be as hard as it used? They would soften a stone."
A faint streak of surprise and simple satisfaction crossed Mr. Eden's sallow face.
"But it isn't your sermons only--it is your life, as the saying is. I was no better than Hawes and Fry and the rest. I used to look on a prisoner as so much dirt. But when I saw a gentleman like you respect them, and say openly you loved them, I began to take a thought, and says I, Hallo! if his reverence respects them so, an ignorant brute like Jack Evans isn't to look down on them."
"Ah! confess, too, that half hour in the jacket opened your eyes and so your heart."
"It did, sir; it did. I was like a good many more that misuse prisoners. I didn't know how cruel I was."
"You are on my side, then?"
"Yes, I am on your side, and I am come here mainly to speak my mind to you. Sir, it goes to my heart to see you lost and wasted in such a place as this."
"You think I do no good here?"
"No! no! sir. Why I am a proof the other way. But you would do more good anywhere else. Everybody says you are a bright and a shining light, sir. Then why stay where there is dirty water thrown over you every day? Besides, it is killing you! I don't want to frighten you, sir; but if you could only see how you are changed since you came here--"
"I do feel very ill."
"Of course you do; you are ill, and you will be worse if you don't get out of this dreadful place. If you are so fond of prisons, sir, you can go from here to another prison. There is more than one easy-going chaplain as would be glad to change with you.
"Do you think so?" said Mr. Eden faintly, lying on his back on the sofa.
"Not a doubt of it. If it warn't for Hawes you would convert half this prison; but you see, the governor is against you, and he is stronger than you. So it is no good to go wasting yourself. Now, what will be the upshot? Why, you'll break your heart to begin, and lose your health; and when all is done, at a word from Hawes the justices will turn you out of the jail--and send me after you for taking your part."
"What do you advise?"
"Why, cut it."
"Turn your back on the whole ignorant lot, and save yourself for better things. Why, you will win many a battle yet, your reverence, if you don't fling yourself away this time," said Evans in tones of homely cheerfulness and encouragement.
There was a deal of good sense in the rough fellow's words and a homely sympathy not intruded but rather, as it were, forcing its way against the speaker's intention. All this co-operated powerfully with Mr. Eden's present inclination and feeling as he lay sick and despondent upon the couch.
"So that is really your advice?" inquired Mr. Eden, feebly and regretfully.
"Yes, your reverence, that is my advice."
Mr. Eden rose in a moment like an elastic spring, and whirled round in front of Evans. "And this is my answer--RETRO SATANAS!" shouted he, with two eyes flashing like a pair of sabers in the sun.
"Mercy on us," roared Evans, recoiling so hastily that he rolled over a chair, "what is that?" and he sat upon the floor a long way off, with eyes like saucers, and repeated in a whisper, "what is that?"
"A quotation," replied the other grimly.
"A quotation! now only think of that" said Evans, much relieved. "Sounded like cussing and swearing in Latin."
"Come here, my good friend, and sit beside me."
Evans came gingerly.
"Well, but ye mustn't thunder at me in Latin any more."
"Well, I won't."
"It isn't fair; how can I stand up against Latin?"
"Well, come here and I'll have at you in the vulgar tongue. Aha! So you come in robust health and spirits and tempt a poor, broken, sick creature to mount the white feather; to show his soldierly qualities by running from the foe to some cool spot where there are no enemies, and there fighting the good fight in peace. Evans, you are a good creature, but you are a poor creature. Yes, Hawes is strong, yet I will resist him. And I am weak--yet I will resist. He will get the justices on his side--yet I will resist. I am sick and dispirited--yet I will resist. The representative of humanity and Christianity in a stronghold of darkness and cruelty and wrong must never sag with doubt nor shake with fear. I will fight with pen and hand and tongue against these outlaws, so long as there is a puff of wind in my body, and a drop of indomitable blood in my veins."
"No doubt you are game enough," mourned Evans; "I wish you wern't."
"And as for you, you came here to seduce a sick, broken creature from his Master's service; you shall remain to be enlisted in it yourself instead."
Evans shuffled uneasily on his chair at these words. "I think I am on your side," said he.
"Half! but it is no use being half anything; your hour is come to choose between all right and all wrong."
"I wouldn't be long choosing if it warn't for one thing."
"And what is that one thing which can outweigh the one thing needful?"
"My wife and my four children; if I get myself turned out of this jail how am I to find bread for that small lot?"
"And do you think shilly-shallying between two stools will secure your seat? You have gone too far with me to retract; don't you see that the jailer means to get you dismissed the next time the justices visit the jail for business? Can't you read your fate in the man's eye?"
Evans groaned. "I read it, I read it, but I didn't want to believe it."
"He set a trap for you half an hour after you had defended me."
"He did! I told my wife I was a gone coon, but she overpersuaded me; 'Keep quiet,' said she, 'and 'twill blow over.' But you see it in the same light as I did, don't you, sir?"
Mr. Eden smiled grimly in assent.
"You are a doomed man," said he coolly; "half measures can't save you, but whole measures may--perhaps."
"What is to be done, sir?" asked Evans helplessly.
"Your only chance is to go heart and hand with me in the project which occupies me now."
"I will, sir," cried Fluctuans, with a sudden burst of resolution, "for I'm druv in a corner. So please tell me what is your project?"
"To get Mr. Hawes dismissed from this jail."
As he uttered these words the reverend gentleman had a severe spasm which forced him to lie back and draw his breath hard. Evans uttered something between a cry of dismay and a groan of despair, and stared down upon this audacious invalid with wonder and ire at his supernatural but absurd cool courage.
"Turn our governor out of this jail? Now hark to that. You might as well try to move a mountain; and look at you lying there scarce able to move yourself, and talking like that."
"Pour me out a cup of tea, Mr. Faintheart; I am in great pain--thank you."
He took the cup, and as he stirred it he said coolly, "Did you ever read of Marshal Saxe, Mr. Faintheart? He fought the battle of Fontenoy as he lay a dying. He had himself carried on his bed of death from one part of the field to another; at first the fight went against him, but he spurned craven counsels with his expiring heart; he saw the enemy's blunder with his dying eye, and waved his troops on to victory with his dying hand. This is one of the great feats of earth. But the soldiers of Christ are as stout-hearted as any man that ever carried a marshal's baton or a sergeant's pike. Yes! I am ill, and I feel as if I were dying, Evans; but living or dying I am the Lord's. I will fight for Him to the last gasp, and I will thrust this malefactor from his high office with the last action of my hand--Will you help me, or will you not?"
"I will, sir! I will! What on earth can I do?"
"You can turn the balanced scale and win the day!"
"Can I, sir?" cried Evans, greatly puzzled.
"You will find some wine in that cupboard, my man; fill yourself a tumbler. I will sip my tea, and explain myself. You think this Hawes is a mountain;--no! he is a large pumpkin hollow at the core. You think him strong;--no! he but seems so, because some of the many at whose mercy he is are so weak. There is a flaw in Hawes, which must break him sooner or later. He is a felon. The law hangs over his head by a single hair; he has forfeited his office, and will be turned out of it the moment we can find among his many superiors one man with one grain either of honesty or intelligence."
"But how shall we find that, sir?"
"By looking for it everywhere, till we find it somewhere. Mr. Hawes tells me, in other words, that the visiting justices do not possess the one grain we require. I profit by the intelligence the enemy was weak enough to give me, and I go--not to the visiting justices. To-morrow, if my case is ready, I send a memorial to the Home-Office, accuse Hawes of felonious practices, and demand an inquiry."
Evans's eye sparkled; he began to gather strength from the broken man.
"But now comes the difficulty. A man should never strike a feeble blow. My appeal will be read by half-educated clerks. If I don't advance something that the small official mind can take in, I shall never reach the heads of the office. It would be madness to begin by attacking national prejudices, by combating a notion so stupid, and therefore so deep-rooted, as that prisoners have no legal rights. No! the pivot of my assault must be something that a boy can afford to be able to comprehend for eighty pounds a year and a clerk's desk in a Government office. Now, Mr. Hawes has, for many months past, furnished false reports to the justices and to the Home-Office. Here is the true stepping-stone to an inquiry, here is the fact to tell on the official mind; for the man's cruelty and felonious practices are only offenses against God and the law; but a false report is an offense against the office. And here I need your help."
"You shall have it, sir."
"I want to be able to prove this man's reports to be lies. I think such a proof exists," said Mr. Eden, very thoughtfully. "Now, if it does, you alone can get hold of it for me. One of the turnkeys notes down every punishment of a prisoner in a small pocket-book, for I have seen him."
"Yes, sir; Fry does--never misses!"
"What becomes of those notes?"
"I don't know."
"What if he keeps a book and enters everything in it?"
"But if he had, shouldn't we have caught a glimpse of it?"
"Humph! A man does not take notes constantly and destroy them. Fry, too, is an enthusiast in his way. I am sure he keeps a record, and if he does it is a true one, for he has no object in tampering with his own facts. Bring me such a book or any record kept by Fry; let me have it for twelve hours and Hawes shall be turned out of the jail and you stay in it."
"Sir!" cried Evans, in great excitement, "if there is such a thing you shall see it to-morrow morning."
"No! to-night! come, you have an hour before you. Do you want the sinews of war? here, take this five pounds with you; you may have to buy a sight of it; but if you ask him whether I am right in telling you it is not the custom of jails to crucify prisoners in the present century, perhaps the barbarian will produce his record of abuses to prove to you that it is. Work how you please; but be wary--be intelligent, and bring me Fry's ledger--or never look me in the face again."
He waved his hand, and Evans strode out of the room animated with a spirit not his own. He who had animated him lay back on the sofa prostrated. Half an hour elapsed, no Evans; a quarter of an hour more, still no Evans; but just before the hour struck, in he burst out of breath but red with triumph.
"Your reverence is a witch--you can see in the dark--look here, sir!" and he flung a dirty ledger on the table. "Here's all the money, sir. He did not get a farthing of it. I flattered the creature's pride, and he dropped the cheese into my hand like the old carrion crow when they asked him for one of his charming songs. But he had no notion it was going out of the jail; so you'll bring it in and give it me back the first thing to-morrow, sir. I must run back, time's up!--Good-night, your reverence. Am I on your side or whose?"
"Good-night, my fine fellow; you shan't be turned out of the jail now. Good-night."
He wanted him gone. He went to a drawer and took out his own book, a copy of Hawes's public log-book, which he had made as soon as he came into the jail, with the simple view of guiding himself by the respectable precedents he innocently expected to find there. He lighted candles, placed his sheets by the side of Fry's well-thumbed ledger, and plunged into a comparison.
It was as he expected. On one side lay the bare, simple, brutal truth in Fry's hand, on the other the same set of facts colored, molded and cooked in every imaginable way to bear inspection, with occasional suppressions where the deed and consequences were too frightful to bear coloring, molding, extenuating or cooking.
The book was a thick quarto, containing a strict record of the prison for four years; two years of Captain O'Connor, and two of Hawes, the worthy who had supplanted him.
Mr. Eden was a rapid penman; he set to, and by half-past eleven o'clock he had copied the first part; for under O'Connor there were comparatively few punishments. Then he attacked Hawes's reign. Sheet after sheet was filled and numbered. He threw them on another table as each was filled. Three o'clock; still he wrote with all his might. Four o'clock; black spots danced before his eyes, and his fingers ached, and his brow burned, and his feet were ice. Still the light, indefatigable pen galloped along the paper. Meantime the writer's feelings were of the most mixed and extraordinary character. Often his eye flashed with triumph, as Fry exposed the dishonesty and utter mendacity of Hawes. Oftener still it dilated with horror at the frightful nature of the very revelations. At six o'clock Fry's record was all copied out.
Mr. Eden shaved and took his bath, and ran into the town. He knocked up a solicitor, with whom he was acquainted.
"I want you to make my will, while your son attests this copy of this ledger."
"But my son is in bed."
"Well! he can read in bed. Which is his room?"
"That one."--Rap! (Come in.)
"Here, Mr. Edward, compare these two, and correct or attest this as a true copy--Twenty minutes' work--Two guineas; here they are on your drawers;" and he chucked the documents on the bed, opened the shutters, and drew the bed-curtains; and passing his arm under the father's, he drew him into his own office, opened the shutters, put paper before him, and dictated a will. Three bequests (one to Evans), and his mother residuary legatee. The will written, he ran upstairs, made father and son execute it, and then darted out, caught a fly that was going to the railway, engaged it; upstairs again. The work was done, copy attested.
"Half a crown if you are at the jail in five minutes."
Galloped off with his two documents-entered the jail--went to his own room--sent for Evans--gave him Fry's book, and ordered himself the same breakfast the prisoners had.
"I am bilious, and no wonder. I have been living too luxuriously; if I had been content with the diet my poor brothers live on, I should be in better health. It serves me just right."
Then he sat down and wrote a short memorial to the Secretary for the Home Department, claiming an inquiry into the jailer's conduct.
"I have evidence on the spot to show that for two years he has been guilty of illegal practices. That he has introduced into the prison an unlawful instrument of torture. That during his whole period of office he has fabricated partial, colored and false reports of his actions in the prison, and also of their consequences; that he has suppressed all mention of no less than seven attempts at suicide, and has given a false color, both with respect to the place of death, the manner of death and the cause of death of some twenty prisoners besides. That his day-book, kept in the prison for the inspection and guide of the magistrates, is a tissue of frauds, equivocations, exaggerations, diminutions and direct falsehoods; that his periodical reports to the Home Office are a tissue of the same frauds, suppressions, inventions, and direct falsehoods.
"The truth, therefore, is inaccessible to you, except by a severe inquiry conducted on the spot. That inquiry I pray for on public grounds, and if need be, demand in my own person, as her majesty's servant driven to this strait.
"I am responsible to her majesty for the lives and well-being of the prisoners, and yet unable, without your intervention, to protect them against illegal violence covered by organized fraud."
Mr. Eden copied this, and sent the copy at once to Mr. Hawes with two lines to this effect, that the duplicate should not leave the town till seven in the evening, so Mr. Hawes had plenty of time to write to the Home Secretary by same post, and parry or meet this blow if he thought it worth his while.
It now remained only to post the duplicate for the Home Office. Mr. Eden directed it and waxed it, but even as he leaned over it sealing it the room suddenly became dark to him, and his head seemed to weigh a ton. With an instinct of self-preservation he made for the sofa, which was close behind him, but before he could reach it his senses had left him, and he fell with his head and shoulders upon the couch but his feet on the floor, the memorial tight in his hand. He paid the penalty of being a blood-horse--he ran till he dropped.