The Legacy of Cain HTML version

1. The Governor Explains
At the request of a person who has claims on me that I must not disown, I consent to look
back through a long interval of years and to describe events which took place within the
walls of an English prison during the earlier period of my appointment as Governor.
Viewing my task by the light which later experience casts on it, I think I shall act wisely
by exercising some control over the freedom of my pen.
I propose to pass over in silence the name of the town in which is situated the prison once
confided to my care. I shall observe a similar discretion in alluding to individuals--some
dead, some living, at the present time.
Being obliged to write of a woman who deservedly suffered the extreme penalty of the
law, I think she will be sufficiently identified if I call her The Prisoner. Of the four
persons present on the evening before her execution three may be distinguished one from
the other by allusion to their vocations in life. I here introduce them as The Chaplain, The
Minister, and The Doctor. The fourth was a young woman. She has no claim on my
consideration; and, when she is mentioned, her name may appear. If these reserves excite
suspicion, I declare beforehand that they influence in no way the sense of responsibility
which commands an honest man to speak the truth.