Japhet, in Search of a Father eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 546 pages of information about Japhet, in Search of a Father.

The evidence was taken down, and then my commitment to the county gaol was made out.  I was placed in a cart, between two constables, and driven off.  On my arrival I was put into a cell, and my money returned to me, but the ring was detained, that it might be advertised.  At last, I was freed from the manacles, and when the prison dress was brought to me to put on, in lieu of my own clothes, I requested leave from the gaoler to wash myself, which was granted; and, strange to say, so unaccustomed had I been to such a state of filth, that I felt a degree of happiness, as I returned from the pump in the prison-yard, and I put on the prison dress almost with pleasure; for degrading as it was, at all events, it was new and clean.  I then returned to my cell and was left to my meditations.

Now that my examination and committal were over, I became much more composed, and was able to reflect coolly.  I perceived the great danger of my situation—­how strong the evidence was against me—­and how little chance I had of escape.  As for sending to Lord Windermear, Mr Masterton, or those who formerly were acquainted with me, my pride forbade it—­I would sooner have perished on the scaffold.  Besides, their evidence as to my former situation in life, although it would perhaps satisfactorily account for my possession of the money and the ring, and for my disposing of my portmanteau—­all strong presumptive evidence against me—­would not destroy the evidence brought forward as to the robbery, which appeared to be so very conclusive to the bench of magistrates.  My only chance appeared to be in the footpad, who had not escaped, acknowledging that I was not his accomplice, and I felt how much I was interested in his recovery, as well as in his candour.  The assizes I knew were near at hand, and I anxiously awaited the return of the gaoler, to make a few inquiries.  At night he looked through the small square cut out of the top of the door of the cell, for it was his duty to go his rounds and ascertain if all his prisoners were safe.  I then asked him if I might be allowed to make a few purchases, such as pens, ink, and paper, &c.  As I was not committed to prison in punishment, but on suspicion, this was not denied, although it would have been to those who were condemned to imprisonment and hard labour for their offences; and he volunteered to procure them for me the next morning.  I then wished him a good-night, and threw myself on my mattress.  Worn out with fatigue and distress of mind, I slept soundly, without dreaming, until daylight the next morning.  As I awoke, and my scattered senses were returning, I had a confused idea that there was something which weighed heavily on my mind, which sleep had banished from my memory.  “What is it?” thought I; and as I opened my eyes, so did I remember that I, Japhet Newland, who but two nights before was pressing the down of luxury in the same habitation as Lady de Clare and her lovely child, was now on a mattress in the cell of a prison, under a charge which threatened me with an ignominious death.  I rose, and sat on the bed, for I had not thrown off my clothes.  My first thoughts were directed to Timothy.  Should I write to him?  No, no! why should I make him miserable?

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Japhet, in Search of a Father from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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