sessel grand repos

sessel grand repos

the memoirs of sherlock holmesby sir arthur conan doyle adventure 4: “the gloria scott” i have some papers here,” said my friendsherlock holmes, as we sat one winter’s night on either side of the fire, “whichi really think, watson, that it would be worth your while to glance over. these are the documentsin the extraordinary case of the gloria scott, and this is the message which struck justiceof the peace trevor dead with horror when he read it.” he had picked from a drawer a little tarnishedcylinder, and, undoing the tape, he handed me a short note scrawled upon a half-sheetof slate-gray paper.

“the supply of game for london is goingsteadily up,” it ran. “head-keeper hudson, we believe, has been now told to receive allorders for fly-paper and for preservation of your hen-pheasant’s life.” as i glanced up from reading this enigmaticalmessage, i saw holmes chuckling at the expression upon my face. “you look a little bewildered,” said he. “i cannot see how such a message as thiscould inspire horror. it seems to me to be rather grotesque than otherwise.” “very likely. yet the fact remains thatthe reader, who was a fine, robust old man,

was knocked clean down by it as if it hadbeen the butt end of a pistol.” “you arouse my curiosity,” said i. “butwhy did you say just now that there were very particular reasons why i should study thiscase?” “because it was the first in which i wasever engaged.” i had often endeavored to elicit from my companionwhat had first turned his mind in the direction of criminal research, but had never caughthim before in a communicative humor. now he sat forward in this arm-chair and spread outthe documents upon his knees. then he lit his pipe and sat for some time smoking andturning them over. “you never heard me talk of victor trevor?”he asked. “he was the only friend i made

during the two years i was at college. i wasnever a very sociable fellow, watson, always rather fond of moping in my rooms and workingout my own little methods of thought, so that i never mixed much with the men of my fencing and boxing i had few athletic tastes, and then my line of study was quitedistinct from that of the other fellows, so that we had no points of contact at all. trevorwas the only man i knew, and that only through the accident of his bull terrier freezingon to my ankle one morning as i went down to chapel. “it was a prosaic way of forming a friendship,but it was effective. i was laid by the heels for ten days, but trevor used to come in toinquire after me. at first it was only a minute’s

chat, but soon his visits lengthened, andbefore the end of the term we were close friends. he was a hearty, full-blooded fellow, fullof spirits and energy, the very opposite to me in most respects, but we had some subjectsin common, and it was a bond of union when i found that he was as friendless as i. finally,he invited me down to his father’s place at donnithorpe, in norfolk, and i acceptedhis hospitality for a month of the long vacation. “old trevor was evidently a man of somewealth and consideration, a j.p., and a landed proprietor. donnithorpe is a little hamletjust to the north of langmere, in the country of the broads. the house was an old-fashioned,wide-spread, oak-beamed brick building, with a fine lime-lined avenue leading up to it.there was excellent wild-duck shooting in

the fens, remarkably good fishing, a smallbut select library, taken over, as i understood, from a former occupant, and a tolerable cook,so that he would be a fastidious man who could not put in a pleasant month there. “trevor senior was a widower, and my friendhis only son. “there had been a daughter, i heard, butshe had died of diphtheria while on a visit to birmingham. the father interested me extremely.he was a man of little culture, but with a considerable amount of rude strength, bothphysically and mentally. he knew hardly any books, but he had traveled far, had seen muchof the world. and had remembered all that he had learned. in person he was a thick-set,burly man with a shock of grizzled hair, a

brown, weather-beaten face, and blue eyeswhich were keen to the verge of fierceness. yet he had a reputation for kindness and charityon the country-side, and was noted for the leniency of his sentences from the bench. “one evening, shortly after my arrival,we were sitting over a glass of port after dinner, when young trevor began to talk aboutthose habits of observation and inference which i had already formed into a system,although i had not yet appreciated the part which they were to play in my life. the oldman evidently thought that his son was exaggerating in his description of one or two trivial featswhich i had performed. “‘come, now, mr. holmes,’ said he, laughinggood-humoredly. ‘i’m an excellent subject,

if you can deduce anything from me.’ “‘i fear there is not very much,’ ianswered; ‘i might suggest that you have gone about in fear of some personal attackwithin the last twelvemonth.’ “the laugh faded from his lips, and he staredat me in great surprise. “‘well, that’s true enough,’ saidhe. ‘you know, victor,’ turning to his son, ‘when we broke up that poaching gangthey swore to knife us, and sir edward holly has actually been attacked. i’ve alwaysbeen on my guard since then, though i have no idea how you know it.’ “‘you have a very handsome stick,’ ianswered. ‘by the inscription i observed

that you had not had it more than a year.but you have taken some pains to bore the head of it and pour melted lead into the holeso as to make it a formidable weapon. i argued that you would not take such precautions unlessyou had some danger to fear.’ “‘anything else?’ he asked, smiling. “‘you have boxed a good deal in your youth.’ “‘right again. how did you know it? ismy nose knocked a little out of the straight?’ “‘no,’ said i. ‘it is your ears. theyhave the peculiar flattening and thickening which marks the boxing man.’ “‘anything else?’

“‘you have done a good deal of diggingby your callosities.’ “‘made all my money at the gold fields.’ “‘you have been in new zealand.’ “‘right again.’ “‘you have visited japan.’ “‘quite true.’ “‘and you have been most intimately associatedwith some one whose initials were j. a., and whom you afterwards were eager to entirelyforget.’ “mr. trevor stood slowly up, fixed his largeblue eyes upon me with a strange wild stare,

and then pitched forward, with his face amongthe nutshells which strewed the cloth, in a dead faint. “you can imagine, watson, how shocked bothhis son and i were. his attack did not last long, however, for when we undid his collar,and sprinkled the water from one of the finger-glasses over his face, he gave a gasp or two and satup. “‘ah, boys,’ said he, forcing a smile,‘i hope i haven’t frightened you. strong as i look, there is a weak place in my heart,and it does not take much to knock me over. i don’t know how you manage this, mr. holmes,but it seems to me that all the detectives of fact and of fancy would be children inyour hands. that’s your line of life, sir,

and you may take the word of a man who hasseen something of the world.’ “and that recommendation, with the exaggeratedestimate of my ability with which he prefaced it, was, if you will believe me, watson, thevery first thing which ever made me feel that a profession might be made out of what hadup to that time been the merest hobby. at the moment, however, i was too much concernedat the sudden illness of my host to think of anything else. “‘i hope that i have said nothing to painyou?’ said i. “‘well, you certainly touched upon rathera tender point. might i ask how you know, and how much you know?’ he spoke now ina half-jesting fashion, but a look of terror

still lurked at the back of his eyes. “‘it is simplicity itself,’ said i.‘when you bared your arm to draw that fish into the boat i saw that j. a., had been tattooedin the bend of the elbow. the letters were still legible, but it was perfectly clearfrom their blurred appearance, and from the staining of the skin round them, that effortshad been made to obliterate them. it was obvious, then, that those initials had once been veryfamiliar to you, and that you had afterwards wished to forget them.’ “what an eye you have!” he cried, witha sigh of relief. ‘it is just as you say. but we won’t talk of it. of all ghosts theghosts of our old lovers are the worst. come

into the billiard-room and have a quiet cigar.’ “from that day, amid all his cordiality,there was always a touch of suspicion in mr. trevor’s manner towards me. even his sonremarked it. ‘you’ve given the governor such a turn,’ said he, ‘that he’ll neverbe sure again of what you know and what you don’t know.’ he did not mean to show it,i am sure, but it was so strongly in his mind that it peeped out at every action. at lasti became so convinced that i was causing him uneasiness that i drew my visit to a close.on the very day, however, before i left, an incident occurred which proved in the sequelto be of importance. “we were sitting out upon the lawn on gardenchairs, the three of us, basking in the sun

and admiring the view across the broads, whena maid came out to say that there was a man at the door who wanted to see mr. trevor. “‘what is his name?’ asked my host. “‘he would not give any.’ “‘what does he want, then?’ “‘he says that you know him, and thathe only wants a moment’s conversation.’ “‘show him round here.’ an instant afterwardsthere appeared a little wizened fellow with a cringing manner and a shambling style ofwalking. he wore an open jacket, with a splotch of tar on the sleeve, a red-and-black checkshirt, dungaree trousers, and heavy boots

badly worn. his face was thin and brown andcrafty, with a perpetual smile upon it, which showed an irregular line of yellow teeth,and his crinkled hands were half closed in a way that is distinctive of sailors. as hecame slouching across the lawn i heard mr. trevor make a sort of hiccoughing noise inhis throat, and jumping out of his chair, he ran into the house. he was back in a moment,and i smelt a strong reek of brandy as he passed me. “‘well, my man,’ said he. ‘what cani do for you?’ “the sailor stood looking at him with puckeredeyes, and with the same loose-lipped smile upon his face.

“‘you don’t know me?’ he asked. “‘why, dear me, it is surely hudson,’said mr. trevor in a tone of surprise. “‘hudson it is, sir,’ said the seaman.‘why, it’s thirty year and more since i saw you last. here you are in your house,and me still picking my salt meat out of the harness cask.’ “‘tut, you will find that i have not forgottenold times,’ cried mr. trevor, and, walking towards the sailor, he said something in alow voice. ‘go into the kitchen,’ he continued out loud, ‘and you will get food and drink.i have no doubt that i shall find you a situation.’ “‘thank you, sir,’ said the seaman,touching his fore-lock. ‘i’m just off

a two-yearer in an eight-knot tramp, short-handedat that, and i wants a rest. i thought i’d get it either with mr. beddoes or with you.’ “‘ah!’ cried trevor. ‘you know wheremr. beddoes is?’ “‘bless you, sir, i know where all myold friends are,’ said the fellow with a sinister smile, and he slouched off afterthe maid to the kitchen. mr. trevor mumbled something to us about having been shipmatewith the man when he was going back to the diggings, and then, leaving us on the lawn,he went indoors. an hour later, when we entered the house, we found him stretched dead drunkupon the dining-room sofa. the whole incident left a most ugly impression upon my mind,and i was not sorry next day to leave donnithorpe

behind me, for i felt that my presence mustbe a source of embarrassment to my friend. “all this occurred during the first monthof the long vacation. i went up to my london rooms, where i spent seven weeks working outa few experiments in organic chemistry. one day, however, when the autumn was far advancedand the vacation drawing to a close, i received a telegram from my friend imploring me toreturn to donnithorpe, and saying that he was in great need of my advice and assistance.of course i dropped everything and set out for the north once more. “he met me with the dog-cart at the station,and i saw at a glance that the last two months had been very trying ones for him. he hadgrown thin and careworn, and had lost the

loud, cheery manner for which he had beenremarkable. “‘the governor is dying,’ were the firstwords he said. “‘impossible!’ i cried. ‘what is thematter?’ “‘apoplexy. nervous shock, he’s beenon the verge all day. i doubt if we shall find him alive.’ “i was, as you may think, watson, horrifiedat this unexpected news. “‘what has caused it?’ i asked. “‘ah, that is the point. jump in and wecan talk it over while we drive. you remember that fellow who came upon the evening beforeyou left us?’

“‘perfectly.’ “‘do you know who it was that we let intothe house that day?’ “‘i have no idea.’ “‘it was the devil, holmes,’ he cried. “i stared at him in astonishment. “‘yes, it was the devil himself. we havenot had a peaceful hour since—not one. the governor has never held up his head from thatevening, and now the life has been crushed out of him and his heart broken, all throughthis accursed hudson.’ “‘what power had he, then?’

“‘ah, that is what i would give so muchto know. the kindly, charitable, good old governor—how could he have fallen into theclutches of such a ruffian! but i am so glad that you have come, holmes. i trust very muchto your judgment and discretion, and i know that you will advise me for the best.’ “we were dashing along the smooth whitecountry road, with the long stretch of the broads in front of us glimmering in the redlight of the setting sun. from a grove upon our left i could already see the high chimneysand the flag-staff which marked the squire’s dwelling. “‘my father made the fellow gardener,’said my companion, ‘and then, as that did

not satisfy him, he was promoted to be butler.the house seemed to be at his mercy, and he wandered about and did what he chose in it.the maids complained of his drunken habits and his vile language. the dad raised theirwages all round to recompense them for the annoyance. the fellow would take the boatand my father’s best gun and treat himself to little shooting trips. and all this withsuch a sneering, leering, insolent face that i would have knocked him down twenty timesover if he had been a man of my own age. i tell you, holmes, i have had to keep a tighthold upon myself all this time; and now i am asking myself whether, if i had let myselfgo a little more, i might not have been a wiser man.

“‘well, matters went from bad to worsewith us, and this animal hudson became more and more intrusive, until at last, on makingsome insolent reply to my father in my presence one day, i took him by the shoulders and turnedhim out of the room. he slunk away with a livid face and two venomous eyes which utteredmore threats than his tongue could do. i don’t know what passed between the poor dad andhim after that, but the dad came to me next day and asked me whether i would mind apologizingto hudson. i refused, as you can imagine, and asked my father how he could allow sucha wretch to take such liberties with himself and his household. “ah, my boy,” said he, “it is all verywell to talk, but you don’t know how i am

placed. but you shall know, victor. i’llsee that you shall know, come what may. you wouldn’t believe harm of your poor old father,would you, lad?” he was very much moved, and shut himself up in the study all day,where i could see through the window that he was writing busily. “‘that evening there came what seemedto me to be a grand release, for hudson told us that he was going to leave us. he walkedinto the dining-room as we sat after dinner, and announced his intention in the thick voiceof a half-drunken man. “i’ve had enough of norfolk,” said he.“i’ll run down to mr. beddoes in hampshire. he’ll be as glad to see me as you were,i dare say.”

“you’re not going away in an unkind spirit,hudson, i hope,” said my father, with a tameness which made my blood boil. “i’ve not had my ‘pology,” said hesulkily, glancing in my direction. “victor, you will acknowledge that you haveused this worthy fellow rather roughly,” said the dad, turning to me. “on the contrary, i think that we have bothshown extraordinary patience towards him,” i answered. “oh, you do, do you?” he snarls. “verygood, mate. we’ll see about that!” “‘he slouched out of the room, and halfan hour afterwards left the house, leaving

my father in a state of pitiable nervousness.night after night i heard him pacing his room, and it was just as he was recovering his confidencethat the blow did at last fall.’ “‘and how?’ i asked eagerly. “‘in a most extraordinary fashion. a letterarrived for my father yesterday evening, bearing the fordingbridge post-mark. my father readit, clapped both his hands to his head, and began running round the room in little circleslike a man who has been driven out of his senses. when i at last drew him down on tothe sofa, his mouth and eyelids were all puckered on one side, and i saw that he had a stroke.dr. fordham came over at once. we put him to bed; but the paralysis has spread, he hasshown no sign of returning consciousness,

and i think that we shall hardly find himalive.’ “‘you horrify me, trevor!’ i cried.‘what then could have been in this letter to cause so dreadful a result?’ “‘nothing. there lies the inexplicablepart of it. the message was absurd and trivial. ah, my god, it is as i feared!’ “as he spoke we came round the curve ofthe avenue, and saw in the fading light that every blind in the house had been drawn we dashed up to the door, my friend’s face convulsed with grief, a gentleman inblack emerged from it. “‘when did it happen, doctor?’ askedtrevor.

“‘almost immediately after you left.’ “‘did he recover consciousness?’ “‘for an instant before the end.’ “‘any message for me.’ “‘only that the papers were in the backdrawer of the japanese cabinet.’ a ship “my friend ascended with the doctor to thechamber of death, while i remained in the study, turning the whole matter over and overin my head, and feeling as sombre as ever i had done in my life. what was the past ofthis trevor, pugilist, traveler, and gold-digger,

and how had he placed himself in the powerof this acid-faced seaman? why, too, should he faint at an allusion to the half-effacedinitials upon his arm, and die of fright when he had a letter from fordingham? then i rememberedthat fordingham was in hampshire, and that this mr. beddoes, whom the seaman had goneto visit and presumably to blackmail, had also been mentioned as living in hampshire.the letter, then, might either come from hudson, the seaman, saying that he had betrayed theguilty secret which appeared to exist, or it might come from beddoes, warning an oldconfederate that such a betrayal was imminent. so far it seemed clear enough. but then howcould this letter be trivial and grotesque, as describe by the son? he must have misreadit. if so, it must have been one of those

ingenious secret codes which mean one thingwhile they seem to mean another. i must see this letter. if there were a hidden meaningin it, i was confident that i could pluck it forth. for an hour i sat pondering overit in the gloom, until at last a weeping maid brought in a lamp, and close at her heelscame my friend trevor, pale but composed, with these very papers which lie upon my kneeheld in his grasp. he sat down opposite to me, drew the lamp to the edge of the table,and handed me a short note scribbled, as you see, upon a single sheet of gray paper. ‘thesupply of game for london is going steadily up,’ it ran. ‘head-keeper hudson, we believe,has been now told to receive all orders for fly-paper and for preservation of your hen-pheasant’slife.’

“i dare say my face looked as bewilderedas yours did just now when first i read this message. then i reread it very was evidently as i had thought, and some secret meaning must lie buried in this strangecombination of words. or could it be that there was a prearranged significance to suchphrases as ‘fly-paper’ and ‘hen-pheasant’? such a meaning would be arbitrary and couldnot be deduced in any way. and yet i was loath to believe that this was the case, and thepresence of the word hudson seemed to show that the subject of the message was as i hadguessed, and that it was from beddoes rather than the sailor. i tried it backwards, butthe combination ‘life pheasant’s hen’ was not encouraging. then i tried alternatewords, but neither ‘the of for’ nor ‘supply

game london’ promised to throw any lightupon it. “and then in an instant the key of the riddlewas in my hands, and i saw that every third word, beginning with the first, would givea message which might well drive old trevor to despair. “it was short and terse, the warning, asi now read it to my companion: “‘the game is up. hudson has told for your life.’ “victor trevor sank his face into his shakinghands, ‘it must be that, i suppose,’ said he. “this is worse than death, for it meansdisgrace as well. but what is the meaning of these “head-keepers” and “hen-pheasants”?’

“‘it means nothing to the message, butit might mean a good deal to us if we had no other means of discovering the see that he has begun by writing “,” and so on. afterwards he had, to fulfill theprearranged cipher, to fill in any two words in each space. he would naturally use thefirst words which came to his mind, and if there were so many which referred to sportamong them, you may be tolerably sure that he is either an ardent shot or interestedin breeding. do you know anything of this beddoes?’ “‘why, now that you mention it,’ saidhe, ‘i remember that my poor father used to have an invitation from him to shoot overhis preserves every autumn.’

“‘then it is undoubtedly from him thatthe note comes,’ said i. ‘it only remains for us to find out what this secret was whichthe sailor hudson seems to have held over the heads of these two wealthy and respectedmen.’ “‘alas, holmes, i fear that it is oneof sin and shame!’ cried my friend. ‘but from you i shall have no secrets. here isthe statement which was drawn up by my father when he knew that the danger from hudson hadbecome imminent. i found it in the japanese cabinet, as he told the doctor. take it andread it to me, for i have neither the strength nor the courage to do it myself.’ “these are the very papers, watson, whichhe handed to me, and i will read them to you,

as i read them in the old study that nightto him. they are endorsed outside, as you see, ‘some particulars of the voyage ofthe bark gloria scott , from her leaving falmouth on the 8th october, 1855, to her destructionin n. lat. 15 degrees 20’, w. long. 25 degrees 14’ on nov. 6th.’ it is in the form ofa letter, and runs in this way: “‘my dear, dear son, now that approachingdisgrace begins to darken the closing years of my life, i can write with all truth andhonesty that it is not the terror of the law, it is not the loss of my position in the county,nor is it my fall in the eyes of all who have known me, which cuts me to the heart; butit is the thought that you should come to blush for me—you who love me and who haveseldom, i hope, had reason to do other than

respect me. but if the blow falls which isforever hanging over me, then i should wish you to read this, that you may know straightfrom me how far i have been to blame. on the other hand, if all should go well (which maykind god almighty grant!), then if by any chance this paper should be still undestroyedand should fall into your hands, i conjure you, by all you hold sacred, by the memoryof your dear mother, and by the love which had been between us, to hurl it into the fireand to never give one thought to it again. “‘if then your eye goes on to read thisline, i know that i shall already have been exposed and dragged from my home, or as ismore likely, for you know that my heart is weak, by lying with my tongue sealed foreverin death. in either case the time for suppression

is past, and every word which i tell you isthe naked truth, and this i swear as i hope for mercy. “‘my name, dear lad, is not trevor. iwas james armitage in my younger days, and you can understand now the shock that it wasto me a few weeks ago when your college friend addressed me in words which seemed to implythat he had surprised my secret. as armitage it was that i entered a london banking-house,and as armitage i was convicted of breaking my country’s laws, and was sentenced totransportation. do not think very harshly of me, laddie. it was a debt of honor, socalled, which i had to pay, and i used money which was not my own to do it, in the certaintythat i could replace it before there could

be any possibility of its being missed. butthe most dreadful ill-luck pursued me. the money which i had reckoned upon never cameto hand, and a premature examination of accounts exposed my deficit. the case might have beendealt leniently with, but the laws were more harshly administered thirty years ago thannow, and on my twenty-third birthday i found myself chained as a felon with thirty-sevenother convicts in ‘tween-decks of the bark gloria scott , bound for australia. “‘it was the year ‘55 when the crimeanwar was at its height, and the old convict ships had been largely used as transportsin the black sea. the government was compelled, therefore, to use smaller and less suitablevessels for sending out their prisoners. the

gloria scott had been in the chinese tea-trade,but she was an old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed craft, and the new clippers hadcut her out. she was a five-hundred-ton boat; and besides her thirty-eight jail-birds, shecarried twenty-six of a crew, eighteen soldiers, a captain, three mates, a doctor, a chaplain,and four warders. nearly a hundred souls were in her, all told, when we set sail from falmouth. “‘the partitions between the cells ofthe convicts, instead of being of thick oak, as is usual in convict-ships, were quite thinand frail. the man next to me, upon the aft side, was one whom i had particularly noticedwhen we were led down the quay. he was a young man with a clear, hairless face, a long, thinnose, and rather nut-cracker jaws. he carried

his head very jauntily in the air, had a swaggeringstyle of walking, and was, above all else, remarkable for his extraordinary height. idon’t think any of our heads would have come up to his shoulder, and i am sure thathe could not have measured less than six and a half feet. it was strange among so manysad and weary faces to see one which was full of energy and resolution. the sight of itwas to me like a fire in a snow-storm. i was glad, then, to find that he was my neighbor,and gladder still when, in the dead of the night, i heard a whisper close to my ear,and found that he had managed to cut an opening in the board which separated us. “hullo, chummy!” said he, “what’syour name, and what are you here for?”

“‘i answered him, and asked in turn whoi was talking with. “i’m jack prendergast,” said he, “andby god! you’ll learn to bless my name before you’ve done with me.” “‘i remembered hearing of his case, forit was one which had made an immense sensation throughout the country some time before myown arrest. he was a man of good family and of great ability, but of incurably vicioushabits, who had by an ingenious system of fraud obtained huge sums of money from theleading london merchants. “ha, ha! you remember my case!” said heproudly. “very well, indeed.”

“then maybe you remember something queerabout it?” “what was that, then?” “i’d had nearly a quarter of a million,hadn’t i?” “so it was said.” “but none was recovered, eh?” “no.” “well, where d’ye suppose the balanceis?” he asked. “i have no idea,” said i. “right between my finger and thumb,” hecried. “by god! i’ve got more pounds to

my name than you’ve hairs on your head.and if you’ve money, my son, and know how to handle it and spread it, you can do, you don’t think it likely that a man who could do anything is going to wear hisbreeches out sitting in the stinking hold of a rat-gutted, beetle-ridden, mouldy oldcoffin of a chin china coaster. no, sir, such a man will look after himself and will lookafter his chums. you may lay to that! you hold on to him, and you may kiss the bookthat he’ll haul you through.” “‘that was his style of talk, and at firsti thought it meant nothing; but after a while, when he had tested me and sworn me in withall possible solemnity, he let me understand that there really was a plot to gain commandof the vessel. a dozen of the prisoners had

hatched it before they came aboard, prendergastwas the leader, and his money was the motive power. “i’d a partner,” said he, “a raregood man, as true as a stock to a barrel. he’s got the dibbs, he has, and where doyou think he is at this moment? why, he’s the chaplain of this ship—the chaplain,no less! he came aboard with a black coat, and his papers right, and money enough inhis box to buy the thing right up from keel to main-truck. the crew are his, body andsoul. he could buy ‘em at so much a gross with a cash discount, and he did it beforeever they signed on. he’s got two of the warders and mereer, the second mate, and he’dget the captain himself, if he thought him

worth it.” “what are we to do, then?” i asked. “what do you think?” said he. “we’llmake the coats of some of these soldiers redder than ever the tailor did.” “but they are armed,” said i. “and so shall we be, my boy. there’s abrace of pistols for every mother’s son of us, and if we can’t carry this ship,with the crew at our back, it’s time we were all sent to a young misses’ speak to your mate upon the left to-night, and see if he is to be trusted.”

“‘i did so, and found my other neighborto be a young fellow in much the same position as myself, whose crime had been forgery. hisname was evans, but he afterwards changed it, like myself, and he is now a rich andprosperous man in the south of england. he was ready enough to join the conspiracy, asthe only means of saving ourselves, and before we had crossed the bay there were only twoof the prisoners who were not in the secret. one of these was of weak mind, and we didnot dare to trust him, and the other was suffering from jaundice, and could not be of any useto us. “‘from the beginning there was reallynothing to prevent us from taking possession of the ship. the crew were a set of ruffians,specially picked for the job. the sham chaplain

came into our cells to exhort us, carryinga black bag, supposed to be full of tracts, and so often did he come that by the thirdday we had each stowed away at the foot of our beds a file, a brace of pistols, a poundof powder, and twenty slugs. two of the warders were agents of prendergast, and the secondmate was his right-hand man. the captain, the two mates, two warders lieutenant martin,his eighteen soldiers, and the doctor were all that we had against us. yet, safe as itwas, we determined to neglect no precaution, and to make our attack suddenly by came, however, more quickly than we expected, and in this way. “‘one evening, about the third week afterour start, the doctor had come down to see

one of the prisoners who was ill, and puttinghis hand down on the bottom of his bunk he felt the outline of the pistols. if he hadbeen silent he might have blown the whole thing, but he was a nervous little chap, sohe gave a cry of surprise and turned so pale that the man knew what was up in an instantand seized him. he was gagged before he could give the alarm, and tied down upon the bed.he had unlocked the door that led to the deck, and we were through it in a rush. the twosentries were shot down, and so was a corporal who came running to see what was the matter.there were two more soldiers at the door of the state-room, and their muskets seemed notto be loaded, for they never fired upon us, and they were shot while trying to fix theirbayonets. then we rushed on into the captain’s

cabin, but as we pushed open the door therewas an explosion from within, and there he lay with his brains smeared over the chartof the atlantic which was pinned upon the table, while the chaplain stood with a smokingpistol in his hand at his elbow. the two mates had both been seized by the crew, and thewhole business seemed to be settled. “‘the state-room was next the cabin, andwe flocked in there and flopped down on the settees, all speaking together, for we werejust mad with the feeling that we were free once more. there were lockers all round, andwilson, the sham chaplain, knocked one of them in, and pulled out a dozen of brown sherry.we cracked off the necks of the bottles, poured the stuff out into tumblers, and were justtossing them off, when in an instant without

warning there came the roar of muskets inour ears, and the saloon was so full of smoke that we could not see across the table. whenit cleared again the place was a shambles. wilson and eight others were wriggling onthe top of each other on the floor, and the blood and the brown sherry on that table turnme sick now when i think of it. we were so cowed by the sight that i think we shouldhave given the job up if it had not been for prendergast. he bellowed like a bull and rushedfor the door with all that were left alive at his heels. out we ran, and there on thepoop were the lieutenant and ten of his men. the swing skylights above the saloon tablehad been a bit open, and they had fired on us through the slit. we got on them beforethey could load, and they stood to it like

men; but we had the upper hand of them, andin five minutes it was all over. my god! was there ever a slaughter-house like that ship!prendergast was like a raging devil, and he picked the soldiers up as if they had beenchildren and threw them overboard alive or dead. there was one sergeant that was horriblywounded and yet kept on swimming for a surprising time, until some one in mercy blew out hisbrains. when the fighting was over there was no one left of our enemies except just thewarders the mates, and the doctor. “‘it was over them that the great quarrelarose. there were many of us who were glad enough to win back our freedom, and yet whohad no wish to have murder on our souls. it was one thing to knock the soldiers over withtheir muskets in their hands, and it was another

to stand by while men were being killed incold blood. eight of us, five convicts and three sailors, said that we would not seeit done. but there was no moving prendergast and those who were with him. our only chanceof safety lay in making a clean job of it, said he, and he would not leave a tongue withpower to wag in a witness-box. it nearly came to our sharing the fate of the prisoners,but at last he said that if we wished we might take a boat and go. we jumped at the offer,for we were already sick of these bloodthirsty doings, and we saw that there would be worsebefore it was done. we were given a suit of sailor togs each, a barrel of water, two casks,one of junk and one of biscuits, and a compass. prendergast threw us over a chart, told usthat we were shipwrecked mariners whose ship

had foundered in lat. 15 degrees and long25 degrees west, and then cut the painter and let us go. “‘and now i come to the most surprisingpart of my story, my dear son. the seamen had hauled the fore-yard aback during therising, but now as we left them they brought it square again, and as there was a lightwind from the north and east the bark began to draw slowly away from us. our boat lay,rising and falling, upon the long, smooth rollers, and evans and i, who were the mosteducated of the party, were sitting in the sheets working out our position and planningwhat coast we should make for. it was a nice question, for the cape de verdes were aboutfive hundred miles to the north of us, and

the african coast about seven hundred to theeast. on the whole, as the wind was coming round to the north, we thought that sierraleone might be best, and turned our head in that direction, the bark being at that timenearly hull down on our starboard quarter. suddenly as we looked at her we saw a denseblack cloud of smoke shoot up from her, which hung like a monstrous tree upon the sky line.a few seconds later a roar like thunder burst upon our ears, and as the smoke thinned awaythere was no sign left of the gloria scott . in an instant we swept the boat’s headround again and pulled with all our strength for the place where the haze still trailingover the water marked the scene of this catastrophe. “‘it was a long hour before we reachedit, and at first we feared that we had come

too late to save any one. a splintered boatand a number of crates and fragments of spars rising and falling on the waves showed uswhere the vessel had foundered; but there was no sign of life, and we had turned awayin despair when we heard a cry for help, and saw at some distance a piece of wreckage witha man lying stretched across it. when we pulled him aboard the boat he proved to be a youngseaman of the name of hudson, who was so burned and exhausted that he could give us no accountof what had happened until the following morning. “‘it seemed that after we had left, prendergastand his gang had proceeded to put to death the five remaining prisoners. the two wardershad been shot and thrown overboard, and so also had the third mate. prendergast thendescended into the ‘tween-decks and with

his own hands cut the throat of the unfortunatesurgeon. there only remained the first mate, who was a bold and active man. when he sawthe convict approaching him with the bloody knife in his hand he kicked off his bonds,which he had somehow contrived to loosen, and rushing down the deck he plunged intothe after-hold. a dozen convicts, who descended with their pistols in search of him, foundhim with a match-box in his hand seated beside an open powder-barrel, which was one of ahundred carried on board, and swearing that he would blow all hands up if he were in anyway molested. an instant later the explosion occurred, though hudson thought it was causedby the misdirected bullet of one of the convicts rather than the mate’s match. be the causewhat it may, it was the end of the gloria

scott and of the rabble who held command ofher. “‘such, in a few words, my dear boy, isthe history of this terrible business in which i was involved. next day we were picked upby the brig hotspur , bound for australia, whose captain found no difficulty in believingthat we were the survivors of a passenger ship which had foundered. the transport shipgloria scott was set down by the admiralty as being lost at sea, and no word has everleaked out as to her true fate. after an excellent voyage the hotspur landed us at sydney, whereevans and i changed our names and made our way to the diggings, where, among the crowdswho were gathered from all nations, we had no difficulty in losing our former identities.the rest i need not relate. we prospered,

we traveled, we came back as rich colonialsto england, and we bought country estates. for more than twenty years we have led peacefuland useful lives, and we hoped that our past was forever buried. imagine, then, my feelingswhen in the seaman who came to us i recognized instantly the man who had been picked offthe wreck. he had tracked us down somehow, and had set himself to live upon our will understand now how it was that i strove to keep the peace with him, and youwill in some measure sympathize with me in the fears which fill me, now that he has gonefrom me to his other victim with threats upon his tongue.’ “underneath is written in a hand so shakyas to be hardly legible, ‘beddoes writes

in cipher to say h., has told all. sweet lord,have mercy on our souls!’ “that was the narrative which i read thatnight to young trevor, and i think, watson, that under the circumstances it was a dramaticone. the good fellow was heart-broken at it, and went out to the terai tea planting, wherei hear that he is doing well. as to the sailor and beddoes, neither of them was ever heardof again after that day on which the letter of warning was written. they both disappearedutterly and completely. no complaint had been lodged with the police, so that beddoes hadmistaken a threat for a deed. hudson had been seen lurking about, and it was believed bythe police that he had done away with beddoes and had fled. for myself i believe that thetruth was exactly the opposite. i think that

it is most probable that beddoes, pushed todesperation and believing himself to have been already betrayed, had revenged himselfupon hudson, and had fled from the country with as much money as he could lay his handson. those are the facts of the case, doctor, and if they are of any use to your collection,i am sure that they are very heartily at your service.”

Subscribe to receive free email updates: