A Rogue's Life HTML version

WITH the record of my sentence of transportation, my life as a Rogue ends, and my
existence as a respectable man begins. I am sorry to say anything which may disturb
popular delusions on the subject of poetical justice, but this is strictly the truth.
My first anxiety was about my wife's future.
Mr. Batterbury gave me no chance of asking his advice after the trial. The moment
sentence had been pronounced, he allowed himself to be helped out of court in a
melancholy state of prostration, and the next morning he left for London. I suspect he
was afraid to face me, and nervously impatient, besides, to tell Annabella that he had
saved the legacy again by another alarming sacrifice. My father and mother, to whom I
had written on the subject of Alicia, were no more to be depended on than Mr.
Batterbury. My father, in answering my letter, told me that he conscientiously believed he
had done enough in forgiving me for throwing away an excellent education, and
disgracing a respectable name. He added that he had not allowed my letter for my mother
to reach her, out of pitying regard for her broken health and spirits; and he ended by
telling me (what was perhaps very true) that the wife of such a son as I had been, had no
claim upon her father-in-law's protection and help. There was an end, then, of any hope
of finding resources for Alicia among the members of my own family.
The next thing was to discover a means of providing for her without assistance. I had
formed a project for this, after meditating over my conversations with the returned
transport in Barkingham jail, and I had taken a reliable opinion on the chances of
successfully executing my design from the solicitor who had prepared my defense.
Alicia herself was so earnestly in favor of assisting in my experiment, that she declared
she would prefer death to its abandonment. Accordingly, the necessary preliminaries
were arranged; and, when we parted, it was some mitigation of our grief to know that
there was a time appointed for meeting again. Alicia was to lodge with a distant relative
of her mother's in a suburb of London; was to concert measures with this relative on the
best method of turning her jewels into money; and was to follow her convict husband to
the Antipodes, under a feigned name, in six months' time.
If my family had not abandoned me, I need not have thus left her to help herself. As it
was, I had no choice. One consolation supported me at parting--she was in no danger of
persecution from her father. A second letter from him had arrived at Crickgelly, and had
been forwarded to the address I had left for it. It was dated Hamburg, and briefly told her
to remain at Crickgelly, and expect fresh instructions, explanations, and a supply of
money, as soon as he had settled the important business matters which had taken him
abroad. His daughter answered the letter, telling him of her marriage, and giving him an
address at a post-office to write to, if he chose to reply to her communication. There the
matter rested.
What was I to do on my side? Nothing but establish a reputation for mild behavior. I
began to manufacture a character for myself for the first days of our voyage out in the
convict-ship; and I landed at the penal settlement with the reputation of being the meekest
and most biddable of felonious mankind.
After a short probationary experience of such low convict employments as lime-burning
and road-mending, I was advanced to occupations more in harmony with my education.