Containing Certain Adventures Which Befel Mr. Booth In The Prison
The remainder of the day Mr. Booth spent in melancholy contemplation on his
present condition. He was destitute of the common necessaries of life, and
consequently unable to subsist where he was; nor was there a single person in
town to whom he could, with any reasonable hope, apply for his delivery. Grief
for some time banished the thoughts of food from his mind; but in the morning
nature began to grow uneasy for want of her usual nourishment: for he had not
eat a morsel during the last forty hours. A penny loaf, which is, it seems, the
ordinary allowance to the prisoners in Bridewell, was now delivered him; and
while he was eating this a man brought him a little packet sealed up, informing
him that it came by a messenger, who said it required no answer.
Mr. Booth now opened his packet, and, after unfolding several pieces of blank
paper successively, at last discovered a guinea, wrapt with great care in the
inmost paper. He was vastly surprized at this sight, as he had few if any friends
from whom he could expect such a favour, slight as it was; and not one of his
friends, as he was apprized, knew of his confinement. As there was no direction
to the packet, nor a word of writing contained in it, he began to suspect that it
was delivered to the wrong person; and being one of the most untainted honesty,
he found out the man who gave it him, and again examined him concerning the
person who brought it, and the message delivered with it. The man assured
Booth that he had made no mistake; saying, "If your name is Booth, sir, I am
positive you are the gentleman to whom the parcel I gave you belongs."
The most scrupulous honesty would, perhaps, in such a situation, have been well
enough satisfied in finding no owner for the guinea; especially when proclamation
had been made in the prison that Mr. Booth had received a packet without any
direction, to which, if any person had any claim, and would discover the contents,
he was ready to deliver it to such claimant. No such claimant being found (I mean
none who knew the contents; for many swore that they expected just such a
packet, and believed it to be their property), Mr. Booth very calmly resolved to
apply the money to his own use.
The first thing after redemption of the coat, which Mr. Booth, hungry as he was,
thought of, was to supply himself with snuff, which he had long, to his great
sorrow, been without. On this occasion he presently missed that iron box which
the methodist had so dexterously conveyed out of his pocket, as we mentioned in
the last chapter.
He no sooner missed this box than he immediately suspected that the gambler
was the person who had stolen it; nay, so well was he assured of this man's guilt,
that it may, perhaps, be improper to say he barely suspected it. Though Mr.