Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 6,432 pages of information about Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works.

At that a slow anger dyed her face.  She looked down; then, suddenly lifting one of her dirty, ungloved hands, she laid it on her breast with the gesture of one baring to me the truth in her heart.  “I am not a bad woman,” she said:  “Dat beastly little man, he do the same as me—­I am free-woman, I am not a slave bound to do the same to-morrow night, no more than he.  Such like him make me what I am; he have all the pleasure, I have all the work.  He give me noding—­he rob my poor money, and he make me seem to strangers a bad woman.  Oh, dear!  I am not happy!”

The impulse I had been having to press on her the money, died within me; I felt suddenly it would be another insult.  From the movement of her fingers about her heart I could not but see that this grief of hers was not about the money.  It was the inarticulate outburst of a bitter sense of deep injustice; of all the dumb wondering at her own fate that went about with her behind that broad stolid face and bosom.  This loss of the money was but a symbol of the furtive, hopeless insecurity she lived with day and night, now forced into the light, for herself and all the world to see.  She felt it suddenly a bitter, unfair thing.  This beastly little man did not share her insecurity.  None of us shared it—­none of us, who had brought her down to this.  And, quite unable to explain to her how natural and proper it all was, I only murmured:  “I am sorry, awfully sorry,” and fled away.


It was just a week later when, having for passport my Grand Jury summons, I presented myself at that prison where we had the privilege of seeing the existence to which we had assisted so many of the eighty-six.

“I’m afraid,” I said to the guardian of the gate, “that I am rather late in availing myself—­the others, no doubt——?”

“Not at all, sir,” he said, smiling.  “You’re the first, and if you’ll excuse me, I think you’ll be the last.  Will you wait in here while I send for the chief warder to take you over?”

He showed me then to what he called the Warder’s Library—­an iron-barred room, more bare and brown than any I had seen since I left school.  While I stood there waiting and staring out into the prison court-yard, there came, rolling and rumbling in, a Black Maria.  It drew up with a clatter, and I saw through the barred door the single prisoner—­a young girl of perhaps eighteen—­dressed in rusty black.  She was resting her forehead against a bar and looking out, her quick, narrow dark eyes taking in her new surroundings with a sort of sharp, restless indifference; and her pale, thin-upped, oval face quite expressionless.  Behind those bars she seemed to me for all the world like a little animal of the cat tribe being brought in to her Zoo.  Me she did not see, but if she had I felt she would not shrink—­only give me the same sharp, indifferent look she was giving all else.  The

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Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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