A Rogue's Life HTML version

Whatever I did, I never neglected the first great obligation of making myself agreeable
and amusing to everybody. My social reputation as a good fellow began to stand as high
at one end of the world as ever it stood at the other. The months passed more quickly than
I had dared to hope. The expiration of my first year of transportation was approaching,
and already pleasant hints of my being soon assigned to private service began to reach
my ears. This was the first of the many ends I was now working for; and the next pleasant
realization of my hopes that I had to expect, was the arrival of Alicia.
She came, a month later than I had anticipated; safe and blooming, with five hundred
pounds as the produce of her jewels, and with the old Crickgelly alias (changed from
Miss to Mrs. Giles), to prevent any suspicions of the connection between us.
Her story (concocted by me before I left England) was, that she was a widow lady, who
had come to settle in Australia, and make the most of her little property in the New
World. One of the first things Mrs. Giles wanted was necessarily a trustworthy servant,
and she had to make her choice of one among the convicts of good character, to be
assigned to private service. Being one of that honorable body myself at the time, it is
needless to say that I was the fortunate man on whom Mrs. Giles's choice fell. The first
situation I got in Australia was as servant to my own wife.
Alicia made a very indulgent mistress.
If she had been mischievously inclined, she might, by application to a magistrate, have
had me flogged or set to work in chains on the roads, whenever I became idle or
insubordinate, which happened occasionally. But instead of complaining, the kind
creature kissed and made much of her footman by stealth, after his day's work. She
allowed him no female followers, and only employed one woman-servant occasionally,
who was both old and ugly. The name of the footman was Dear in private, and Francis in
company; and when the widowed mistress, upstairs, refused eligible offers of marriage
(which was pretty often), the favored domestic in the kitchen was always informed of it,
and asked, with the sweetest humility, if he approved of the proceeding.
Not to dwell on this anomalous period of my existence, let me say briefly that my new
position with my wife was of the greatest advantage in enabling me to direct in secret the
profitable uses to which her little fortune was put.
We began in this way with an excellent speculation in cattle--buying them for shillings
and selling them for pounds. With the profits thus obtained, we next tried our hands at
houses--first buying in a small way, then boldly building, and letting again and selling to
great advantage. While these speculations were in progress, my behavior in my wife's
service was so exemplary, and she gave me so excellent a character when the usual
official inquiries were instituted, that I soon got the next privilege accorded to persons in
my situation--a ticket-of-leave. By the time this had been again exchanged for a
conditional pardon (which allowed me to go about where I pleased in Australia, and to
trade in my own name like any unconvicted merchant) our house-property had increased
enormously, our land had been sold for public buildings, and we had shares in the famous
Emancipist's Bank, which produced quite a little income of themselves.
There was now no need to keep the mask on any longer.
I went through the superfluous ceremony of a second marriage with Alicia; took stores in
the city; built a villa in the country; and here I am at this present moment of writing, a
convict aristocrat--a prosperous, wealthy, highly respectable mercantile man, with two
years of my sentence of transportation still to expire. I have a barouche and two bay