The Legacy of Cain
5. Miss Chance Asserts Herself
The services of our medical officer were required, in order to hasten the recovery of the
When the Doctor and I left the cell together, she was composed, and ready (in the
performance of her promise) to listen to the exhortations of the Minister. The sleeping
child was left undisturbed, by the mother's desire. If the Minister felt tempted to regret
what he had done, there was the artless influence which would check him! As we stepped
into the corridor, I gave the female warder her instructions to remain on the watch, and to
return to her post when she saw the Minister come out.
In the meantime, my companion had walked on a little way.
Possessed of ability and experience within the limits of his profession, he was in other
respects a man with a crotchety mind; bold to the verge of recklessness in the expression
of his opinion; and possessed of a command of language that carried everything before it.
Let me add that he was just and merciful in his intercourse with others, and I shall have
summed him up fairly enough. When I joined him he seemed to be absorbed in reflection.
"Thinking of the Prisoner?" I said.
"Thinking of what is going on, at this moment, in the condemned cell," he answered,
"and wondering if any good will come of it."
I was not without hope of a good result, and I said so.
The Doctor disagreed with me. "I don't believe in that woman's penitence," he remarked;
"and I look upon the parson as a poor weak creature. What is to become of the child?"
There was no reason for concealing from one of my colleagues the benevolent decision,
on the part of the good Minister, of which I had been a witness. The Doctor listened to
me with the first appearance of downright astonishment that I had ever observed in his
face. When I had done, he made an extraordinary reply:
"Governor, I retract what I said of the parson just now. He is one of the boldest men that
ever stepped into a pulpit."
Was the doctor in earnest? Strongly in earnest; there could be no doubt of it. Before I
could ask him what he meant, he was called away to a patient on the other side of the
prison. When we parted at the door of my room, I made it a request that my medical
friend would return to me and explain what he had just said.
"Considering that you are the governor of a prison," he replied, "you are a singularly rash
man. If I come back, how do you know I shall not bore you?"