The chaplain. [With a touch of impatience] The Law hardly shares your view, I’m afraid.
Cokeson. But I can’t help thinking that to shut him up there by himself’ll turn him silly. And nobody wants that, I s’pose. I don’t like to see a man cry.
The chaplain. It’s a very rare thing for them to give way like that.
Cokeson. [Looking at him-in a tone of sudden dogged hostility] I keep dogs.
The chaplain. Indeed?
Cokeson. Ye-es. And I say this: I wouldn’t shut one of them up all by himself, month after month, not if he’d bit me all over.
The chaplain. Unfortunately, the criminal is not a dog; he has a sense of right and wrong.
Cokeson. But that’s not the way to make him feel it.
The chaplain. Ah! there I’m afraid we must differ.
Cokeson. It’s the same with dogs. If you treat ’em with kindness they’ll do anything for you; but to shut ’em up alone, it only makes ’em savage.
The chaplain. Surely you should allow those who have had a little more experience than yourself to know what is best for prisoners.
Cokeson. [Doggedly] I know this young feller, I’ve watched him for years. He’s eurotic—got no stamina. His father died of consumption. I’m thinking of his future. If he’s to be kept there shut up by himself, without a cat to keep him company, it’ll do him harm. I said to him: “Where do you feel it?” “I can’t tell you, Mr. Cokeson,” he said, “but sometimes I could beat my head against the wall.” It’s not nice.
During this speech the
doctor has entered. He is a
medium-Sized, rather good-looking man, with a quick eye.
He stands leaning against the window.
The governor. This gentleman thinks the separate is telling on Q 3007—Falder, young thin fellow, star class. What do you say, Doctor Clements?
The doctor. He doesn’t like it, but it’s not doing him any harm.
Cokeson. But he’s told me.
The doctor. Of course he’d say so, but we can always tell. He’s lost no weight since he’s been here.
Cokeson. It’s his state of mind I’m speaking of.
The doctor. His mind’s all right so far. He’s nervous, rather melancholy. I don’t see signs of anything more. I’m watching him carefully.
Cokeson. [Nonplussed] I’m glad to hear you say that.
The chaplain. [More suavely] It’s just at this period that we are able to make some impression on them, sir. I am speaking from my special standpoint.
Cokeson. [Turning bewildered to the governor] I don’t want to be unpleasant, but having given him this news, I do feel it’s awkward.