Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of this became all at once intolerable ; it • You wasn't a-goin' to sleep here, I would be less easy to be taken if he were reckon, mister? Maybe lost your way.” upright and able to grapple with his The prisoner caught at the suggestion. opponent; and he rose to his feet and “Yes," he said, " I thought this might turned round. Another man stood there, be a short cut to the station. Isn't there so near that he could hear the quick beats a station over there somewhere? To tell of his breath. His own breath almost you the truth, I'm in a hurry, and got over ceased.

the wall." Neither of them moved, and the man in He felt confident and even safe, wearing flight wondered if the other man were his own clothes, and spoken to with deferafraid of him. It made him the more ence by this poor outcast. In six years determined to fight hard ; if the other man he had scarcely had a word that was not were a warder, he would be armed, but the a command. prisoner would try to get to his neck and " Take this path I'm on, and keep throttle him.

straight ahead,” said the tramp. “If you “Let's know who you are," said the climbs the wall at the end, you can see the man on the path.

railway lights. Say, you ain't got a copper The voice was rather conciliatory than or two, sir?" threatening, and the prisoner did not Money? He had not known the touch recognize it. What if this other man of money all the years of his imprisonshould be escaping too? They might fly ment. Once, about a year ago, he had together.

seen a warder take some silver out of his “ It's all right," continued the voice. “I pocket, and since then he had never even ain't doin' no harm, mister."

looked upon a coin. What a wild, happy feeling welled in the “ I hope you will believe me,” he said; convict! He felt strong and light-limbed “I have not any money whatever with as before.

me--not a penny piece. I shall have to “ All right,” he said.

beg a ticket at the station.” Common speech, the speech of free men “ All right, mister,” returned the tramp. which he had not used for years, was “I believe you. They'll give the likes of strange and difficult to him. It was hard you a ticket easy." not to say “ sir" to the man, who was “Good-night, and thank you,” said the evidently a tramp.

convict. “I thought maybe you was a cop," said “Good-night, mister.” the other, “though I don't see the harm of As he turned to go, the convict saw a chap turnin' in here for a bit o' sleep. I something shining on the path behind the ain't no grave-robber. I'm on'y a tramp.” tramp.

tramp. He stooped swiftly, unobserved, How the convict wished he could change and picked it up. It was a sixpence, and places with this homeless creature, who he thrust it into his pocket with a feeling had crept in to sleep among the graves! of triumph and delight, and no sense at With the wish came the thought that he all of guilt. It was not for him to ask stood within the danger of the man, who how the sixpence had come there. Permust presently perceive his prison suit. If haps it had fallen from his own pocket; the man informed against him at the it might have been missed when his prison, they would give him a reward; and clothes were searched. one must be miserably poor to come here He now began to move with silent speed for lodging. He stole a cunning glance along the path, abating nothing of his downwards at himself, and observed watchfulness of ear, yet with better couramazedly that he was wearing, not the age than he had hitherto felt. He thought prison clothes, but his own, the suit that more and more that his flight had not yet he had worn six years ago, on the day he been discovered in the prison. was arrested. He could not imagine how The wall at the opposite side of the he had effected the change, which gave cemetery was reached, and, scaling it, he him so much security, but it increased beheld the lamps of the railway, as the greatly his feeling of elation. He drew tramp had said, burning on the high emnearer to the friendly tramp, who had bankment but a little way beyond. He addressed him as a superior.

footed it quickly to the embankment,

crawled up with stealth--for he was now from London. He was on the country side afraid of the lamps--and lay down in of the line, and would stick to that. He shadow to shape his programme further. ran steadily, and other lights grew in front

The glare of light some two hundred of him; he was nearing the next station. yards along the line—that must indicate He faltered in towards the platform, just the station. Only two hundred yards, or as the train was starting again ; sprang at less, from a railway station, and money in the handle of the last carriage; and there his pocket! He felt for the sixpence; yes, he was, quite comfortable on the cushions. it was there, a fortune in silver. If he It was a long, open, third-class carriage, bought a ticket for two or three pence, he with rows of seats in front of hin, but no could pretend to sleep in the train, and be other passenger. He would be carried carried far out into the country; or an out- out into the country; he would slip away lay no greater would probably suffice to from the carriage as he had slipped in bear him into the heart of London. for he was quite aware that he was riding

But he reflected thereupon that since without a ticket--and then he would run this was doubtless the station nearest to hot-foot across the fields, and be home by the prison, warders and police would to a daybreak. surety be looking for him there if it were He did not know at all at what station known that he had broken out. The he had got in, but it was so large that he station-master and his staff would have thought it must be a junction; and he been warned; not one pair of eyes there reckoned that the train must travel far but would be spying for him; all good before it stopped again. He did not people would hunt the convict down. He want to sleep, but he settled himself restgnashed his teeth and swore they should fully and closed his eyes. not take him.

When he opened them again, the car. It would be prudent, however, to retreat riage was full of people, and they were all a little up the line. There might be an- watching him. Such, at least, was his first other station within an easy walk; if he impression; but when he ventured to take lay in hiding just outside it, he might con- stock of his fellow-passengers, it did not trive to slip into an empty carriage when appear that he was specially observed. the train stopped.

There were women in the carriage, and He crossed the line, drawing himself their presence thrilled the man who had not over it inch by inch, so as to have the looked uprn a woman's face for years. embankment betwixt him and his pursuers. Most of alı was he fascinated by a child in

His peril notwithstanding, it was still a white frock nursing a doll affectionately most sweet, this sense of liberty under the on her knee. He would have given anysoft dark sky, and the air blowing so gently thing to speak to her, but he had lived so on his face. Fancies and images of home long in silence, and the dread of being came before him again. There would be reported for a word, that he scarcely knew no one in the room except his mother; she how to talk. There were men reading would be sitting at the open window looking newspapers, and others chatting together; out across the soundless fields, thinking of they were free and had no fear. He liked him. He would see no change in her the all these people; he felt secure among next day, unless her hair were just a little them; he did not think they would betray whiter. She would walk up and down the him. garden with him, pretending that nothing The train stopped again, and the man had happened; but he would have to looked out curiously for the name of the guard against the suddenness of the shock station. He did not recognize it, but that to her.

He had never let her visit him in gave him no uneasiness; he was confident the prison, but he had kept himself in the that all was going right. Then, as the first class, so that he could receive the train moved out from the station, a sickenletters she was allowed to write him every ing terror fell on him, for in the other three months.

He remembered every corner of the carriage a warder was sitting. word that she had written him.

The convict had not seen him get in, but He had started running again; he was sure he had not been there before. wanted to be home before daylight.

The warder was in plain clothes, as if he A train clattered past him, going out were er.joying an evening off duty, and he

held a pipe in his hand. He did not look tence. Perhaps, after all, he had forat the convict.

gotten him ; perhaps he did not even The convict had a momentary impulse know him. to act defiantly, and engage in talk with "No," the man replied, " he had not a the people near him, as if he were free match about him.” Now, would his voice like them. Perhaps this would deceive betray him? the warder, who might think he had been “ Seems to me,” said the warder, lookliberated; it was even possible the wardering him full in the face,“ seems to me I might not know him in his gentleman's ought to know you. What's your name?" clothes. But his tongue would not move, How horrible ! the man could not recall and his mind was quite vacant. He had his own name. This must be fatal, and run into a world wherein he was totaily a he gave himself up for lost. stranger; even if he were able to talk, he “You're Barrington, ain't you?" conhad no food for conversation; he did not tinued the warder. know what was happening anywhere. He Barrington! Charles Barrington ! Yes, shrank against the door, with his face that was his name. He nodded. turned to the window.

“ Ah! Just so. Let me see, was it five The seat opposite to his was empty, years or seven, your little lot ?" and the warder moved down the carriage The man bethought him that if his sen. and took it. Now at last he was recog- tence had been only five years he would nized. Still the warder said not a word. have regained his liberty before this; and

The train rolled slowly on. It was he answered, “ Five." not, as the convict had persuaded himself “Kept out of trouble since, I expect,” it must be, an express, but a local train, pursued the warder. “ You weren't the making the tour of the suburbs. When sort to come back to us. Why, I rememit began to slacken speed again, the man ber you at Trentlands. You were in the tried to brace himself for a rush; but he stonecutters' party for a goodish bit. Did found that his limbs had no power to obey your time well, too; though you gentlehis will; he sat under the horrid spell of men lags often give a deal of trouble.” the warder opposite, and could not move. All this time the convict was in a very

The train creaked into the station, and agony of tremor; should the warder's stopped ; and, as in a dream, the man memories carry him a point or two further, beheld his fellow-passengers leaving the he might still be unmasked. He must carriage one by one, the little girl in the quit the train at the next station. white frock and all of thein; he sat and He had now no notion where he was, watched them go, and dared not and could but his main hope lay in the distance to not follow them. The guard slamıned the which the train must by this time have door, the train was once more in motion, carried him from the prison. and the man and the warder were alone. As it slowed once again, he viewed the This must be the situation the warder scene beyond with all the hope that he had been waiting for.

could muster. Below the line of railway, He held up his pipe and said, “Can on one side, a long street stretched, yellow you give me a light?”

with faring lights, booths and stalls on Why would people torment him by ask- either hand; an open-air market, crowded ing for things which they must know he and bustling. On the other side all lay could not possibly possess ? A convict dark, as though fields began there. Sudhas no money and no matches; if a match denly the warder said: “There's no hope were found on him, he would be severely for Gladstone, I suppose ?" punished. But this reflection was at once “ Gladstone ?” said the convict; “is he driven from his mind by another and a much ill ?” more vital one. It was that this warder “ Aha!” exclaimed the warder. “I did not belong to the prison from which thought so. Gladstone's dead and buried he had just escaped. That had never last year. I just began to suspect somestruck his thought until the warder spoke. thing. My man, you've got loose from This warder was attached to the staff of a Wardlock! You'll come with me.” great prison in the south, where the run- The prisoner wrenched open the door away had served three years of his sen- and leapt from the carriage. The plat: form, as he alighted, was perfectly quiet, he had broken out of prison. Just then he but he thought it swarmed with people caught a glimpse of a man whom he knew, who had rushed to help the warder. His and tried to get near him. The man was senses had left him; his plan had been standing at a stall, and, as he turned half to make towards the left, in the direction, round, the convict recognized the tramp as he supposed, of the open country; he had spoken to in the cemetery. Perinstead, he sprang across the line, Aung haps if he were to give the tramp the sixhimself over the wooden barrier of the pence he had found on the path he would platform, and slithered down the steep be friendly to him again, and help him bank into the teeming market.

away. He pushed forward, and touched His name was hissed into his ear at the tramp on the shoulder. every step; he felt all about him the pursu- The man turned and stared at him, then ers whom he could not see. The market, shouted: “ This is him! This is the man as he thought, was thronged with faces that's wanted. He robbed me. He stole hostile to him ; under pretense of buying, sixpence off me. Stop him! Stop him!" the people had come out to look for the For the convict had taken to his heels, convict who had escaped. Yet how should and was flying through the market between they know it, at this infinite distance from the double line of booths and stalls. In the prison ? For now the flaming street, an instant the cry was caught up, and the with its huddled noisy market, had taken whole market ran with the tramp behind on the lineaments of a little town, leagues him. Fast as he went, he scarcely seemed away, in the dark north country, where he to move, and it amazed him that he kept had lived as a boy.

always in front of the crowd. But the He looked at no one, yet he saw every- voices at his heels gradually died away, body. The people put themselves in his the blazing street melted on either side of way as he walked, for he did not dare to him, and the man was coursing through run; they were afraid to arrest him, but fields again. they were doing this to hamper him, until He began to sob and choke; his tears the warder should come up. His mind were like a rain that blinded and impeded ran wildly on the best means of getting him; they made the ground slippery under unobserved into the country; he knew the his feet; and he cried aloud to the night market street should terminate in a bridge for shelter and for safety. across a river; and just over the river were The night listed, and a vague black form fields, and there was a wood not a mile of stone that filled the whole horizon rose away. But the market extended much and grew in front of him; he saw it rising further than it used to do, and the peo- up out of the ground as he ran, helpless, ple kept putting themselves in front of towards it. He knew what it was. Не him.

had returned to the prison, and he fell He tried to think of those whom he had headlong under the conning-tower, with a known in the town ; it was so odd there scream. should be no one friendly to him. Then he remembered what disgrace he was in; Waking in sweat, he struggled up he had brought shame upon his family; weakly. The room was full of sun, and he had no business out of prison ; they his mother stood over him, stroking his all wanted him to be sent back.

face and crooning to him as she had done He burned with shame; it was mon- when he was a child. It broke slowly on strous of him to have returned where he his mind that he had been released from was so well known on the very night that prison the day before.

[graphic]

THE ACTIAS LUNA MOTH

CATERPILLAR HUNTING

BY CAROLINE G. SOULE

Illustrated from photographs taken by Edith Eliot; those of the Moths from spread specimens,

those of the Caterpillars from living ones. Re, roductions are two-thirds life size.

[ocr errors]

HOOTING and fox-hunting have Like fishing, caterpillar-hunting has its their chroniclers, and “the gentle exciting moments, its great disappoint

art of angling ” has been extolled ments, and its element of chance. Every from Walton to Van Dyke, but little has new species found is a triumph, and one been written of the joys of caterpillar- which comes often to a beginner, while hunting, although this is quite as inter- the delight of coming upon a rare speciesting, and may be made infinitely more men in good condition is equaled only interesting if it is carried on to its logical by the joy of a book-collector when he conclusion—the rearing and studying of finds a rare volume for which he has the development and habits of the cater- longed. The after-satisfaction is much pillars. It has not the dreamy charm greater, for the caterpillar grows, develops, of angling or the wild excitement of hunt and can be watched through its curious ing “big game," and it needs no elaborate changes until it emerges as a moth or equipment. Its charms are of another butterfly, while the book remains always kind, none the less attractive.

the same. Like most pursuits of intrinsic value, its He who hunts caterpillars must have fascination grows with experience and seeing eyes and a reasoning mind--for the knowledge. It never palls, because it mere finding of caterpillars is but the always holds out fresh hopes of success in least part of it all. He must be able to hitherto undiscovered fields, while even in note the resemblances between the creature familiar ones there remains much to be and its environment; to see, for instance, found out, much to be studied.

how exactly like parts of its food-plant is

826

« AnteriorContinuar »