A Rogue's Life HTML version
agreeable merriment. Antiquity, I think, furnishes us with few more remarkable
characters than Gentleman Jones.
That evening I thought it desirable to invite a friend to pass the time with me. As
long as my liquor lasted he stopped; when it was gone, he went away. I was just
locking the door after him, when it was pushed open gently, but very firmly, and
Gentleman Jones walked in.
My pride, which had not allowed me to apply for protection to the prison
authorities, would not allow me now to call for help. I tried to get to the fireplace
and arm myself with the poker, but Gentleman Jones was too quick for me. "I
have come, sir, to give you a lesson in morality to-night," he said; and up went
his right hand.
I stopped the preliminary slap, but before I could hit him, his terrible left fist
reached my head again; and down I fell once more--upon the hearth-rug this
"Sir," said Gentleman Jones, making me a bow, "you have now received your
first lesson in morality. Always speak the truth; and never say what is false of
another man behind his back. To-morrow, with your kind permission, we will
finally settle the adjourned question of the caricature. Good-night."
I was far too sensible a man to leave the settling of that question to him. The first
thing in the morning I sent a polite note to Gentleman Jones, informing him that I
had abandoned all idea of exhibiting his likeness to the public in my series of
prints, and giving him full permission to inspect every design I made before it
went out of the prison. I received a most civil answer, thanking me for my
courtesy, and complimenting me on the extraordinary aptitude with which I
profited by the most incomplete and elementary instruction. I thought I deserved
the compliment, and I think so still. Our conduct, as I have already intimated, was
honorable to us, on either side. It was honorable attention on the part of
Gentleman Jones to correct me when I was in error; it was honorable common
sense in me to profit by the correction. I have never seen this great man since he
compounded with his creditors and got out of prison; but my feelings toward him
are still those of profound gratitude and respect. He gave me the only useful
teaching I ever had; and if this should meet the eye of Gentleman Jones I hereby
thank him for beginning and ending my education in two evenings, without
costing me or my family a single farthing.