The Jacket (Star-Rover) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about The Jacket (Star-Rover).

It is a difficult matter for a prisoner in solitary to communicate with the outside world.  Once, with a guard, and once with a short-timer in solitary, I entrusted, by memorization, a letter of inquiry addressed to the curator of the Museum.  Although under the most solemn pledges, both these men failed me.  It was not until after Ed Morrell, by a strange whirl of fate, was released from solitary and appointed head trusty of the entire prison, that I was able to have the letter sent.  I now give the reply, sent me by the curator of the Philadelphia Museum, and smuggled to me by Ed Morrell: 

* * * * *

“It is true there is such an oar here as you have described.  But few persons can know of it, for it is not on exhibition in the public rooms.  In fact, and I have held this position for eighteen years, I was unaware of its existence myself.

“But upon consulting our old records I found that such an oar had been presented by one Daniel Foss, of Elkton, Maryland, in the year 1821.  Not until after a long search did we find the oar in a disused attic lumber-room of odds and ends.  The notches and the legend are carved on the oar just as you have described.

“We have also on file a pamphlet presented at the same time, written by the said Daniel Foss, and published in Boston by the firm of N. Coverly, Jr., in the year 1834.  This pamphlet describes eight years of a castaway’s life on a desert island.  It is evident that this mariner, in his old age and in want, hawked this pamphlet about among the charitable.

“I am very curious to learn how you became aware of this oar, of the existence of which we of the museum were ignorant.  Am I correct in assuming that you have read an account in some diary published later by this Daniel Foss?  I shall be glad for any information on the subject, and am proceeding at once to have the oar and the pamphlet put back on exhibition.

“Very truly yours,



The time came when I humbled Warden Atherton to unconditional surrender, making a vain and empty mouthing of his ultimatum, “Dynamite or curtains.”  He gave me up as one who could not be killed in a strait-jacket.  He had had men die after several hours in the jacket.  He had had men die after several days in the jacket, although, invariably, they were unlaced and carted into hospital ere they breathed their last . . . and received a death certificate from the doctor of pneumonia, or Bright’s disease, or valvular disease of the heart.

But me Warden Atherton could never kill.  Never did the urgency arise of carting my maltreated and perishing carcass to the hospital.  Yet I will say that Warden Atherton tried his best and dared his worst.  There was the time when he double-jacketed me.  It is so rich an incident that I must tell it.

It happened that one of the San Francisco newspapers (seeking, as every newspaper and as every commercial enterprise seeks, a market that will enable it to realize a profit) tried to interest the radical portion of the working class in prison reform.  As a result, union labour possessing an important political significance at the time, the time-serving politicians at Sacramento appointed a senatorial committee of investigation of the state prisons.

Project Gutenberg
The Jacket (Star-Rover) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook