Japhet, in Search of a Father eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about Japhet, in Search of a Father.

“Stop one minute, my good fellow,” said Ogle, to the gaoler, while others were taking me out of court.  “My lord, I’ve something rather important to say.  Why I did not say it before, you shall hear.  You are a judge, to condemn the guilty, and release the innocent.  We are told that there is no trial like an English jury, but this I say, that many a man is hung for what he never has been guilty of.  You have condemned that poor young man to death.  I could have prevented it if I had chosen to speak before, but I would not, that I might prove how little there is of justice.  He had nothing to do with the robbery—­Phil Maddox was the man, and he is not Philip Maddox.  He said that he never saw me before, nor do I believe that he ever did.  As sure as I shall hang, he is innocent.”

“It was but now, that when appealed to by him, you stated that you had seen him before.”

“So I did, and I told the truth—­I had seen him before.  I saw him go to hold the gentleman’s horse, but he did not see me.  I stole his bundle and his stick, which he left on the bench, and that’s how they were found in our possession.  Now you have the truth, and you may either acknowledge that there is little justice, by eating your own words, and letting him free, or you may hang him, rather than acknowledge that you are wrong.  At all events, his blood will now be on your hands, and not mine.  If Phil Maddox had not turned tail, like a coward, I should not have been here; so I tell the truth to save him who was doing me a kind act, and to let him swing who left me in the lurch.”

The judge desired that this statement might be taken down, that further inquiry might be made, intimating to the jury, that I should be respited for the present; but of all this I was ignorant.  As there was no placing confidence in the assertions of such a man as Ogle, it was considered necessary that he should repeat his assertions at the last hour of his existence, and the gaoler was ordered not to state what had passed to me, as he might excite false hopes.

When I recovered from my fit, I found myself in the gaoler’s parlour, and as soon as I was able to walk, I was locked up in a condemned cell.  The execution had been ordered to take place on the Thursday, and I had two days to prepare.  In the meantime, the greatest interest had been excited with regard to me.  My whole appearance so evidently belied the charge, that everyone was in my favour.  Ogle was requestioned, and immediately gave a clue for the apprehension of Maddox, who, he said, he hoped would swing by his side.

The gaoler came to me the next day, saying, that some of the magistrates wished to speak with me; but as I had made up my mind not to reveal my former life, my only reply was, “That I begged they would allow me to have my last moments to myself.”  I recollected Melchior’s idea of destiny, and imagined that he was right.  “It was my destiny,” thought I:  and I remained in a state of stupor.  The fact was, that I was very ill, my head was heavy, my brain was on fire, and the throbbing of my heart could have been perceived without touching my breast.

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