Giles! As I Live by John Lang
Some forty-three years ago a wealthy banker, a Mr. Binkie, was
travelling from London to Woodstock, when the progress of his
carriage was arrested by two gentlemen of the road, who made the
usual demand of "Your money or yourlife!" The banker instantly
complied, and dropped a purse, containing gold and bank-notes,
amounting to £70, into the hand which one of the gentlemen
(both of them were masked) put into the carriage window. The hand,
thus stretched forth, was ungloved, and while the banker was finding
his purse, he could not help taking particular notice of it. There is
something certainly in the shape of a hand. I do not mean to say that
it is always a criterion of a man's or woman's birth; but, generally
speaking, from looking at the hand, a very fair estimate may be
formed of the owner's condition in life. Now, the hand into which the
banker dropped his purse was a very peculiar band. It was not
particularly small; but it was soft and white, and the fingers were
so long as to be seemingly out of proportion. The nails were
carefully pared, and there was a Pinkish hue about them. On the inner
part of the thumb there was a scar, or mark rather, such a mark as
would remain after a wound caused by the application of a piece of
red-hot iron. The shape of this scar was that of a halfmoon, and its
size about half an inch in length, with the proportionate breadth.
The gentleman of the road, while holding out his hand, was compelled
to stretch his body over the shoulder of his horse, and while in this
position the banker had a good view of the back part of his neck, a
portion of his hair, and the lower part of his right ear; for the
mask that he wore covered only the features-the face. It would be a
hard thing to swear to a man, by seeing only a small portion of the
back part of his neck, and an ear; but so very peculiar was the
formation in this case, that the banker felt convinced that whenever,
or wherever, he might see them again, he would be able instantly to
recognize them. What was this peculiar formation? It was this: Behind
the ear there was no back part of the head, or, in the parlance of
phrenologists, "no development of the animal passions." There was,
also, another peculiarity. The skin of that portion of the neck which
was visible was as smooth and white as that of some delicate
high-born damsel; while the ear, in its size, and the delicacy of its
shape, was far more like that of a woman than a man. In stature, this
gentleman of the road was about five feet ten inches in height, and
rather slight in figure. His dress was not like that in which Jack
Sheppard, Tom King, and other notorious highwaymen of bygone days wed
to delight, but more like that of a country squire, with the
exception of a slouched hat, and a short black cloth cloak, such a
one as Hamlet usually wears on the stage.
The banker was not asked for his watch or other valuables. As soon
as his purse was pocketed, the postboy was commanded by the
highwayman to "go on." It was about ten miles from Woodstock that
this robbery took place; and as soon as it had been completed, as
above described, the two gentlemen of the road leaped their horses
into a field, and galloped across the country towards a town some six
miles distant. The season of the year was winter--the hour, half-past
three in the afternoon--and by the time that they arrived in the town
towards which they galloped it was quite dark.
The banker had very urgent business in Woodstock, and was anxious
to return to town with all speed; so urgent, indeed, was this
business, that he would not speak about the robbery lest it should
break in upon his time, which was of so much consequence. He was,
therefore, silent on the subject until after his arrival in London,
on the following day, when a formal intimation of the facts was
forwarded to the police authorities, who inserted the usual
advertisement in the "Hue and Cry."
The bank to which the gentleman who had been robbed belonged was a
bank that issued its own notes, and it was a portion of their notes
that had fallen into the hands of the highwayman. Five "fives;" the
numbers were known, but the banker, for reasons of his own, did not
furnish the police with those numbers. A memorandum, however, was
made upon a card, and hung up inside the rails of every little desk
in the counting-house--"53--12" to "53-16." Ere long every one
connected with the house, partners, clerks, and even the porters and
other servants, had their numbers by heart, and whenever they saw a
"flyer" of the firm, looked into the corner of it instanter. Upwards
of a year elapsed ere one of these lost ones was handed across the
"53-14" came in one morning amongst a roll of other
notes--representing a very large sum of money--as a payment from a
banking--house in the west end of London. In pursuance of
instructions that had been given in respect to this matter, the clerk
who received "53-14" said nothing, but took it quietly to the partner
from whom it had been stolen. Mr. Binkie examined it very minutely,
and, with a smile on his countenance--for the hand and the neck, and
the ear, and the form of the highwayman came very vividly before him
at that moment--ejaculated "Humph!" This note had evidently travelled
a good deal since the day that it was stolen. It was crumpled, worn,
and almost filthy; but there was only one name written upon the back
of it--"William Giles." If the present detective force had been then
in existence, it would have been sufficient to have handed the note
over to one of the inspectors; but the force did not then exist, and
the banker was therefore induced to Institute, by private means,
those inquiries which he deemed necessary. The great questions
were--"Who is William Giles? Where did he get this bit of paper from?
The bankers from whom it was received in payment had received it
from another banker, who had taken it from a banker in the country,
who had received it from a grazier, who took it from a butcher in
Gosport in part payment of some sheep. The butcher when the note was
shown to him by a clerk of the banking-house of Binkie and Co.--a Mr.
Martin--remembered it perfectly, "owing to the name of 'Giles' on the
back of it, and a cross in red ink, which he had himself made upon
it; likewise a stain, which was caused by its falling on a bit of
fat, when the gentleman who gave it him threw it on the block in
payment of his bill."
"And what was the gentleman's name?" inquired Mr. Martin.
"His name, sir? Why, Mr. Grafton, who lives up here."
"And who is Mr. Grafton?"
"A gentleman of large property, and a nephew of Lord
Mr. Martin waited upon Mr. Grafton; and, exhibiting the five-pound
note, represented what the butcher had stated. "It is perfectly
true," replied Mr. Grafton; "I did pay him that note. I remember the
note perfectly; it was in my possession for several weeks."
"Do you know from whom you took it, sir?"
"Yes; from the landlord of a hotel in Bath. He gave it to me as
part of the change for a twenty-pound note, after deducting the
amount of his bill."
"Have you any objection to give me a letter to the landlord,
"Not the least." And Mr. Grafton sat down and wrote, not exactly a
letter, but a declaration, which answered the same purpose. Armed
with this document, Mr. Martin journeyed to Bath, saw the landlord,
presented Mr. Grafton's declaration, and produced the five--pound
The landlord also "remembered the note perfectly;" and had, he
said, a reason for so doing, which was this: that a tradesman in the
town had refused to give gold for it, because he thought the firm
that issued it was rather shaky.
"Shaky!" exclaimed Mr. Martin, rather indignantly. "Really, sir, I
am at a loss to--"
"Well, I hope you will excuse me, sir, if I have given on any
offence," said the fat, jovial, and good-tempered landlord. "I
intended no offence, I assure you, sir. You asked me for particulars,
and I have given you one, at all events."
"And may I ask from whom you received the note, sir?"
"Yes, sir, from a gentleman."
"The gentleman whose name is written on the back of the note. You
must not be offended, but to tell you the truth, I at that time had
some misgivings about the firm--for rumours were abroad, sir--and I
took the note from Mr. Giles, who was staying here for several days
with a friend of his, on the express condition that if the firm
failed before I parted with it, he would consider himself my debtor
for the sum. But, sir, I took four other £5 notes, similar to
this, from Mr. Giles."
"And what has become of these notes?"
"I parted with them in the usual course of business, sir, They are
not forgeries, I hope?"
"Oh, dear, no. Were they new when you received them?"
"To the best of my recollection, they were. At all events, they
were not so dirty as this is."
"And who is Mr. Giles?"
"Well, sir, he was a gentleman who came and stayed here for some
days with a friend."
"And what is Mr. Giles?"
"Well, I should say he was a gentleman of independent means, and
one who lived up to his income."
"And where does he reside?"
"By referring to my books, I can tell you, sir; for, previous to
going away he, at my request, left his address. Yes; here it is.
'George Giles, Esq., Eagle Lodge, near Exeter, Devon.'"
"What kind of a person was Mr. Giles?"
"Well, sir, I have told you that he was a gentleman."
"But are you sure that he was a gentleman?"
"For twenty-one years, sir, I was the head butler of a nobleman of
distinction, who entertained, both at his town house, and at his
country seat, the best society in the kingdom; and since his
lordship's death I have been the landlord of this hotel, which is not
the smallest in the place, sir. Now, with that amount of experience,
I think it would be very hard indeed if I did not know a gentleman
when I spoke to him, or he spoke to me. Yes, sir, Mr. Giles was, and,
if living, is a gentleman; well born and well bread sir. If he had
represented himself to me as a duke or a marquis, I should not have
doubted his word for one moment. His conversation, manners, bearing,
and address, sir, were quite sufficient for me."
"But the name of Giles is not a particularly aristocratic one,"
suggested Mr. Martin.
"Perhaps not, sir," replied the landlord. "But, as families now
intermarry, there is not much in names, sir. There is, at this
moment, in the house a gentleman whose name is Smith, sir.
Nevertheless, he is, to my knowledge, the grandson of one of
England's proudest dukes. Names, sir? Why, the name of the boots of
this hotel (and I have seen his baptismal register) is Augustus
Philip Howard, and that of the head waiter, Alfred Montmorenci.
Howard's father was a shoemaker; Montmorenci's a small greengrocer,
who lived in Black Boy Alley all his life."
Mr. Martin having thanked the landlord for his information, and
having dined at the hotel, took a post-chaise and departed for
Exeter, where he inquired for Mr. Giles. No one had heard of such a
gentleman in the neighbourhood. Eagle Lodge? there was no such
The clue to the discovery having ended at this point, Mr. Martin
returned to London, and detailed to his employers the particulars of
his journey. When Mr. Binki had heard the description given of Mr
Giles, he grinned sardonically, and exclaimed: "Humph! I thought as
much. A gentleman, eh?" Another year passed away, and all hope of
discovering by whom he had been robbed had departed from the breast
of the banker, when one afternoon, while walking up New Bond Street,
he saw before him a gentleman-like looking person, but whose ear and
neck (the back part thereof) made a great impression upon him. He
followed this person, and was often as close to him as possible--so
close, that he could distinctly see the texture of his skin. When in
Piccadilly, nearly opposite to the White Horse, the banker made an
experiment: "Mr. Giles!" said he, in a gentle tone. The person whom
he was following started suddenly, turned round, looked at the banker
with a rather vacant countenance, and then walked on. The banker now
more boldly accosted the person, of whose identity he was now quite
certain. Walking by his side, he said: "Surely, Mr. Giles, you
"No, sir, I do not," was the reply, and he stopped.
"No, sir! You have the advantage of me."
"Perhaps so, in this crowded street under existing circumstances;
but the last time we met, Mr. Giles, you had the advantage--and a
very decided advantage--over me. You then offered me your hand. Will
you now accept mine?" and the banker removed his glove, and extended
"I tell you, sir, that you are mistaken," said the person
accosted, folding his arms tightly across his chest. "In the first
place, sir, how do you know that I am Mr. Giles?"
"That is the very point. Satisfy my curiosity. Tell me who you
really are, and I promise you, on my word and honour as a gentleman,
that our acquaintance here shall end, never again to be renewed."
"What do you mean, sir?"
"What I have said. But I have another condition to impose--which
is, that you restore to me a small silver coin of the reign of
Charles I, which was for many, many years in my possession, and
subsequently came into yours. It has a hole in it, and the value of
the coin is, intrinsically, less than sixpence."
"The only conclusion, sir, at which I can arrive is, that you are
a maniac; and if a constable were at hand, I should not hesitate to
give you into custody."
"Then I will be beforehand with you," cried the banker; and
seizing the person whom he addressed by the collar of his coat, he
held him firmly, calling aloud, "Help--help--help! Athief--athief--a
A crowd was speedily collected around them; and ere long a
constable came up and took "the gentleman" into custody on a charge
of highway robbery. Upon being asked his name, he remarked, pointing
to the banker, "This person says my name is Giles. Be it Giles."
On the following day there was an examination at the police-office
in Bow Street. The banker, who was permitted to look at the right
hand of the accused, swore positively that he was the person who,
upon a certain date, had stopped him on the king's highway, and took
from him a purse containing £70 in bank-notes and gold, and a
silver coin of the reign of Charles I. On being asked for his
address, the prisoner declined to give any, which was considered very
much against him; and he was remanded, in order that the evidence of
the landlord at the Bath hotel might be taken. There was another
circumstance, besides his refusal to give an address, which was
construed greatly to his prejudice, or to use a more homely phrase,
which "told against him." When apprehended he had upon his finger a
signet ring; but between Piccadilly and the lockup he had contrived
to part with it. When searched, a pocket-book was found upon him, and
a purse. The former contained a number of memoranda in cipher, and
unintelligible to those who examined them; the latter contained two
bank notes of £10 each, four guineas in gold, and a few
shillings in silver. His linen, which was unmarked, and his apparel,
including his hat and his boots, were such as only gentlemen in those
days ever dreamt of wearing. To use a popular expression current that
day in the police-office--"Whether he had faked the swag or not, he
was a tip-top nob, and no flies about it."
The moment that the landlord of the Bath hotel was confronted with
the prisoner, he unhesitatingly recognized him as Mr. Giles, the
gentleman from whom he had taken the bank-notes, the one of which
(No. 53-14) was then produced in court. The magistrate having no kind
of doubt about the case, fully committed the prisoner, "George Giles"
to take his trial at the Old Bailey at the ensuing sessions.
FOR Six long weeks George Giles lay in the cells of Newgate. At
the expiration of that time the day of trial came, and he was
arraigned in due form. He had no counsel, but defended himself most
ably. No lawyer could have argued more adroitly, or more
successfully, several technical objections that he took--especially
that one which related to a proposal to screen his face with a mask
(similar to that which it was alleged he had worn), while the
prosecutor looked at the back of his head and his neck. "If," said
he, "the prosecutor will swear that the mask now produced in court is
the identical mask which was worn by the man who robbed him, I have
no objection; on the contrary, I will gladly put it on my face; but
if he cannot so swear I ask, in the name of justice and of decency,
that it may be removed from my sight, and that of the Bench and the
"But, my lord," urged the counsel for the prosecution, "it is just
such a mask as was worn by the highwayman."
"And I," exclaimed the prisoner, "may be just such a man as the
man who robbed the prosecutor; but still not that man."
Nor was his speech to the jury less ingenious than his objections
taken during the trial. "As for not giving any address," said he, "I
would ask you, gentlemen of the jury, whether there is no shame
attached to even an accusation of this kind, false though it may be?
Innocent as I am, and certain as I am of being acquitted, I would not
for the whole world have my relations and friends know that I have
been tried for such an offence. Nor would I have my enemies--and
every man has enemies in this world--to know it. For, would they ever
fail to remind rue of it? Is there one amongst you, gentlemen, who
can lay his hand on his heart and say: 'I have no enemy who would
rejoice on hearing that I have been placed in so awful a
predicamentc?' The question is not, who I am, or where I live; but,
am I the man who robbed the prosecutor? The shape of the back part of
my head has been dwelt upon. There are thousands of men in this
kingdom, and I doubt not, many in this court, at this moment, whose
heads are shaped like mine. But the prosecutor has only noticed two:
the head of the man who robbed him, and the head of myself. A
comparison of handwriting is not allowed in law, I believe. Is the
life of a British subject, then, to depend on comparing the shape of
his head, or a portion thereof, with that of some criminal? Let
reason, justice, and humanity, rise triumphantly, and with one voice
forbid it! Great stress has also been laid upon the scar or mark upon
my right hand. Is there a man in this court, or in this kingdom, who
is devoid of some scar or mark on his right hand--a scar resulting
from some slight wound inflicted in his childhood, or boyhood, or in
later life? I will be bound that there is not one! We have all cut
ourselves or burnt ourselves, at some period of our lives. Remember
that the penalty of the crime of which I stand accused is death. Can
you conscientiously consign a fellow-creature to so fearful a doom as
that of being hanged by the neck in public, on evidence so flimsy and
so unsatisfactory as that which you have heard this day? The learned
counsel has said to you in his address: 'Let the prisoner account to
you for the possession of the bank-notes which he endorsed, and
passed to the landlord of the hotel.' For the past six weeks I have
been shut up in a dark cell in Newgate. What opportunity have I had
to discover the gentleman from whom I received them more than twenty
months ago, at Doncaster--a gentleman whom I never saw before, and
have never seen since--a gentleman whom I met in the ring, and with
whom I betted on a horse--race? I won his money, and he paid me.
Possibly this unsupported testimony of one who avows that he is a
gambler may not meet with much consideration, but I desire to impress
upon you that gambling is not a crime in the eye of the law: and that
even royalty has pecuniary speculations touching turf events. The
last, and withal the weekest, point to which I have to direct your
attention is this: It has been urged against me that no Mr. Giles, of
Eagle Lodge, could be found. There was no such a person, and no such
a place! What are the facts? A banker's clerk--and you will bear in
mind what he admitted on cross-examination--goes down to Exeter, puts
up at an hotel, asks the landlord of that hotel or tavern--if he
knows Mr. Giles, of Eagle Lodge? The landlord says 'No.' He (the
banker's clerk) then talks to the 'boots,' and to the stable-boys,
and they have no knowledge of such a person, or such a place. He then
wanders about the town and inquires of several tradesmen, who can
afford him no sort of information. Where upon he comes back perfectly
satisfied that there is no Mr. Giles, and no Eagle Lodge; just as if
it were absolutely essential that any gentleman going to reside in
the neighbourhood of Exeter must register his existence with the
landlord and servants of the Old Dun Cow, or those few tradespeople
to whom the banker's clerk thought fit to confine his inquiries."
The judge summed up, rather in the prisoner's favour than
otherwise, and the jury retired to consider their verdict. They were
absent from four o'clock until a quarter to eleven, when they
returned into court, and, amidst breathless silence, delivered their
verdict of--"Guilty!" The judge, who seemed somewhat surprised, did
not condemn the prisoner to be hanged, but ordered the sentence of
"death" to be "recorded" against him. This was tantamount to
transportation beyond seas for the term of his natural life.
After a brief probationary (?) period on board of a hulk George
Giles was "drafted," and placed on board a convict ship, bound for
Sydney, New South Wales.
Although the landlord of the Bath hotel has testified to the
convict's manners, bearing, and address, his personal appearance has
not yet been described. Be it known that he had violet--coloured
eyes, which had an extremely soft and sweet expression; an aquiline
nose, and a well-formed mouth, in which were set a row of
pearly-white teeth; a rather prominent chin, and a neck most
exquisitely moulded. His hair was of a chestnut colour. Giles was, in
short, not only a very handsome, but a very peculiar--looking person;
and his age, at the time of his conviction, was not in excess of
twenty-five years. The doctor of the ship in which Giles was borne
away from the land of his fathers to the far-distant penal colony,
took what is called a great fancy for the young man, and contrived,
during the five months that they were at sea, to make his position as
little disagreeable to him as possible. This he effected by
appointing him to take charge of the cabin in which were deposited
the medicine-chests and hospital stores, and suffering him to take
his meals and sleep therein, instead of among the four hundred and
ninety convicts onboard.
"I am very curious to know your history," said the doctor to
Giles, one day in private.
"I have none to narrate, sir," was the reply.
"Oh, yes, you have. Come tell it to me. I know what you were
transported for, by the muster-roll and a copy of the calendar--the
Newgate Calendar. But how came it about? You were guilty, I
"Well, sir, I was convicted; and that amounts to the same thing,
so far as I am now concerned."
"But, come; tell me. I have read the report of the trial very
attentively, and the case appears to me such a strange and such a
"I can tell you nothing in addition to what you have read in that
"Oh, yes, you can. Say, now, were you guilty or not?"
"I would rather say nothing about it, sir; but if you press me, I
have no hesitation in saying that this is not the hand into which the
banker dropped his purse, confidently as he swore to this mark on the
ball of my thumb."
"Then you are the other man who was in company of the
"No, I am not, sir."
"Then you are innocent?"
"Again, sir, I implore you not to question me any further on this
matter. I am very sensible of your great kindness to me; but I would
rather incur your most severe displeasure than prolong this
conversation, which is so peculiarly painful to my feelings."
"Very well. But there is one question that I must put to you; and
you, I am sure, will not object to answer it."
"What is the question, sir?"
"Was Giles your real name or not?"
"It was not, sir."
"Then what was it?"
"I would rather have my tongue torn out by the roots, sir, than
divulge the name of my family, the name under which I was born. Had I
been sentenced to be hanged, and if my reprieve and pardon had been
faithfully promised me on condition that I would state who I was and
by whom begotten, I would have remained silent."
"Let me look at that mark on the ball of your thumb."
"How was it done? By accident?"
"It was burnt in by a gipsy."
"That I hardly know. It was done when I was a child. Others have
been branded in this way."
"Ah, sir, you are coming back to the old point. I must decline
answering any further questions on the subject."
It was during the administration of General Macquire, as governor
of New South Wales and its dependencies, that George Giles was
transported for the term of his natural life; and it was in the
autumn of the year 1815 that he arrived in that colony, and was
"assigned," in company with two other convicts, to a Captain Bellamy,
of the Royal Navy, who had retired from the service, and settled in
Australia. Captain Bellamy, who was then about forty-five years of
age, was a very extensive grantee, and had, in all, some seventy or
eighty assigned servants, the greater portion of whom were employed
on an estate which he possessed in the Hawkesbury district, and which
estate--with the assistance of an overseer, who had formerly sailed
with him as boatswain--he managed himself. On the occasion of having
new men assigned to him, it was Captain Bellamy's wont to have "all
hands piped" to listen to a short address, which, without variation,
he always delivered in the following words:
"Men! I have called you together to bear witness to the truth of
the few observations that I am about to make to these new--comers. I
am a strict, but a just master. I feed you well, I clothe you well,
and if you are sick you are well attended to; but, at the same time,
if you are ever guilty of neglect of your work, fail to be obedient
to command, or wanting in respect to myself, or your overseer--by--I
flog you well. That's all. Pipe down, Jackson!"
These last words were addressed to the boatswain overseer, who
instantly blew a shrill whistle; whereupon the convict servants
dispersed and resumed their various labours, leaving the captain, the
overseer, Giles and his two companions, in front of the house, which
was "the quarter-deck."
"You are labourers, my men?" said the captain, addressing himself
to the trio, who had just arrived, and were now standing before
"Yes, sir," said two of the men, touching their hats; but Giles
spoke not, nor did he make any sign.
"Are you not a labourer, my man?" said the captain to Giles.
"Indeed! What are you, then?"
"An apothecary, sir."
"An apothecary! I applied for three labourers. However, I ought
not to complain, perhaps. Is there nothing you can turn your hand to,
except compounding pills, spreading plaisters, and mixing
"I shall be glad, sir, to make myself generally useful."
"Generally useful is such an infernally vague term--I hate it,"
said the captain, shaking his head. "Let us have one thing definite.
Do you know anything about horses?"
"Well, Jackson, suppose we put him in the stables? We want help
"Yes, sir," said the overseer.
"Then be it so. By the bye, it strikes me that coach-house door
would be none the worse for a little dumbscraping or a touch of the
tar brush; so, to--morrow morning, at sunrise, let him be employed in
that manly and wholesome occupation; it will give him an appetite for
his breakfast. The others will go into the field, and hoe up their
thirteen rood of ground each."
"Yes, sir," said the overseer.
"But before you billet them off just take their lines, and let me
have them before sunset."
"Yes, sir." And then turning to Giles and the others, Mr. Jackson
added: "Come along, my lads!"
The overseer led them into a room, where he measured them to a
hair. He then took them into the store-room, where he weighed them,
marking down the weight of each man in a book. He next commanded them
to strip, whereupon he ascertained every mark or scar that each man
had upon his Person, noting at the same time, the colour of each
man's hair and eyes, shape of the nose, complexion, &c., &c.
This done, he served out to each person ten pounds of seconds flour,
ten pounds of salt beef, a quarter of a pound of brown sugar, two
ounces of tea, two ounces of soap, and a 'fig' (one ounce) of
colonial tobacco. "That's your week's rations," said he. "And now for
your toggery. Here you are! one duck frock, one cotton shirt, one
pair of duck trousers, one pair of boots, one straw hat, and one
black handkerchief. And let me recommend you all to come as clean and
neat as possible on Sundays to Divine Service into the captain's
verandah; for there's nothing that his excellency is more particular
about than the uniform appearance of all his crew on the Sabbath-day;
and any of you as doesn't know how to tie a running knot, or what
they calls a sailor's knot, in your neck-handkerchief, if you'll come
to me in my leisure moments, I'll show you how to do it. And, lastly,
about your sleeping. Here's a bed and a blanket a-piece for you. You
(he addressed himself to Giles) as is going into the stables, will
sleep in the stables; you as is going to work in the fields, will
shake yourselves down along with those as works in the fields. You
will find yourselves pretty comfortable here, I dare say. What the
captain told you is very true. He is a strict, but a just man. I have
known him ever since I was a little boy. He was only a middy when I
fust sailed with him; and he was just the same then that he is now;
not a bit of difference, only older, and a little more cantankerous,
Let us now leave "Giles" on Captain Bellamy's estate, within
Hawkesbury district, and change the scene to Europe.
One forenoon, about a year and six months after the trial and
conviction of Giles, a gentleman called at Mr. Binkie's bank, and
presented, across the counter, a cheque for £500. Mr. Martin,
whose name has been already mentioned in connection with this
narrative, and who was the cashier of the bank, inquired of the
gentleman how he would receive the money?
"All in bank-notes, except £10 in gold," was the reply. Mr.
Martin counted out the notes, and was about to shovel the gold into
the hand of the gentleman, when, to his surprise, he beheld on the
ball of his thumb exactly the same mark as that upon which had
chiefly rested the conviction of another person. Mr. Martin was
rather startled, and, putting down the shovel, said--"Would you have
any objection, sir, to write your name on the back of this
"Have you any doubt as to the signature? Do you believe it to be
Lord Beekthorpe's signature or not?" was the abrupt reply.
"I know it to be Lord Beckthorpe's signature, sir."
"And is it not payable to bearer?"
"Then why should I endorse it? What right have you to ask me to
endorse it, sir? It is an impertinence to me as well as to Lord
Beekthorpe. What right have you, pray, to know or to inquire the name
of every or any person to whom a nobleman or gentleman thinks proper
to give a cheque? If my banker took such a gross liberty with me, I'd
never rest till I ruined him Now, sir, I demand that money; and,
listen to me, if it is not paid instanter, I will, within one hour
from this time, post my Lord Beckthorpe at every club in London, as a
defaulter in the payment of his debts of honour, leaving you and he
to settle and reconcile that unpleasantness between you." Hearing
these violent words uttered in a loud and imperious tone of voice,
Mr. Binkie left his seat in the bank parlour, and was advancing to
the counter, when Mr. Martin met him and said, in a whisper: "Look at
his right hand, sir." Mr. Binkie had a very good opportunity of doing
this, for the gentleman, when he repeated energetically: "Do you
honour Lord Beckthorpe's cheque on demand, payable to bearer, or do
you not?" stretched forth his palm across the counter, and within two
feet of Mr. Binkie's eyes.
"Oh, yes, we honour it, sir," said Mr. Binkie, now taking the case
out of Mr. Martin's hands. "By all means, and it shall be paid; but,
sir, it is sometimes usual with bankers to inquire who is the bearer,
and it has long been a custom of ours to do so."
"Curse your customs!" cried the gentleman, who was evidently a man
of violent and excitable temperament, and of an ungovernable will;
"what do I care for your customs?" "Pray be calm, sir," said Mr.
Binkie, observing the back part of the gentleman's head, and feeling
rather uncomfortable whilst he did so. "The money shall be paid;
but--" he stammered.
"Curse the money!" said the gentleman, and turning swiftly on his
heel, and leaving the notes, gold, and cheque upon the counter, he
hurried into the street, mounted a spirited horse, which was held by
a groom at the door, and rode away, at a swift pace, from the city
towards the west end of the town.
Mr. Binkie and Mr. Martin looked at each other in profound
astonishment. The former pressed his head between his palms, and
said: "I am bewildered!" The latter looked up at the ceiling, then
down at the floor, and uttered, moodily: "It is incomprehensible!"
Both the banker and his head clerk (for to that post Mr. Martin had
been appointed) were half stupefied, and remained so until halfpast
two o'clock, when Lord Beckthorpe, in a towering passion, and
accompanied by two other gentlemen, constituents of the bank, rushed
into the counting--house, and very abruptly aroused them.
"What's the amount of my balance here?" gasped Lord Beckthorpe,
addressing Mr. Martin.
"Will you walk into the parlour, my lord, and take a chair?"
"No! What's my balance?"
Here Mr. Binkie came out, and timidly approaching the counter,
where stood Lord Beckthorpe, with a countenance distorted with
vehement passion, and with compressed lips.
"Lord Beckthorpe," Mr. Binkie began, "I am very sorry--"
"I do not want any expressions of your regret, sir," replied his
lordship, cutting short the banker's speech; "I want my money!" Then
addressing himself to Mr. Martin, he demanded: "Can't you tell me the
amount of my balance? Quick, sir! Time is precious with me--my
credit, my honour is at stake, sir!"
"The balance in your favour, my lord," said Mr. Martin, trembling,
"is £9,214 16s. 3 1/2 d."
"Then just give it to me as short and as sharp as possible, in
Bank of England notes and gold. I'll not have any of your notes. I'll
draw a cheque for it;" and he did so.
"Yes, my lord," and Mr. Martin counted out the money nervously,
but with accuracy, even to the 3 1/2d.
"I believe I have some trifle here?" said one of the gentlemen who
had come to the bank with Lord Beckthorpe. "Let me know what it is,
and give it to me."
"Yes, Sir John," said Mr. Martin, referring to his books; "your
balance is £11,219 4s. 1d."
"Oh! Thank you. I did not think there was so much left. Well, let
me have it, or rather pay it into Skinner and Flynte's, to my
"Yes, Sir John. It shall be done." Sir John, was Sir John
Nemberpage, then in his thirty-fifth year.
"I am afraid I have but deuced little to take from you," said the
other gentleman (a rather elderly person), who had come with Lord
"I will see, general!" replied Mr. Martin; and then turning to
letter 'L' he read aloud--"General Leicesterfield--balance £624
18s. 9d. How will you have it?" "The six hundred in notes, and the
rest in coin."
"Our notes, general?"
"No. Bank of England."
When the money was paid to each constituent, Mr. Binkie addressed
them as follows: "I dare say you were under the impression that this
bank was not solvent, and hence the demur to pay the cheque presented
this morning without any endorsement. Such is not the case, as you
have discovered. I had my reasons for requiring the name of the
person who presented the cheque."
"The person, sir!" exclaimed Sir John Nemberpage. "You mean the
"Indeed, Sir John?"
"Yes, sir," interposed Lord Beckthorpe, "and my first cousin."
"Indeed, my lord? Then, why on earth should he refuse to endorse
the cheque, or give me his name and address?"
"Because you had no right to ask it, and he did not choose, I
suppose," suggested General Leicesterfield.
"Well, it is done, and it cannot, be helped," said Mr. Binkie,
wiping the glasses of his spectacles with a yellow silk
pocket--handkerchief. "But there was something so very odd--" here
Mr. Binkie paused.
"About what?" inquired Lord Beckthorpe.
"About this business, my lord."
"What the deuce do you mean, sir?"
"Nothing, my lord."
"Well, then, let me give you the same advice that Charles James
Fox once gave to a drivelling ass in the House of Commons, who told
him that he meant nothing. 'The next time that you mean nothing, say
nothing.'" And, with this insulting observation, his lordship walked
out of the banking-house, followed by his companions, Sir John
Nemberpage and General Leicesterfield.
Mr. Binkie had a brother-in-law, a Mr. Lyttlecoke, who was one of
the most eminent king's counsel of the day. Mr. Binkie visited his
brother-in--law, at his chambers, and communicated to him all the
particulars connected with the presentation of the cheque, and the
subsequent visit of his constituents. "And, to tell you the real
truth," concluded Mr. Binkie, "I am now by no means satisfied that
the man Giles was the person who robbed me on the highway."
"But it is too late to think about that now. One man has been
already tried, convicted, and transported for the offence. Take my
advice, and banish the whole affair from your mind."
"But I cannot do so. You see, I swore so positively to Giles, and
now the horrible reflection is continually haunting me that I may
have been mistaken."
"Apart from the mark on the hand (the half-moon on the ball of the
thumb), and the shape of the back of the head--does this
half--brother of Sir John Nemberpage in any way resemble the man
Giles?" asked Mr. Lyttlecoke.
"Not in the least!" returned Mr. Binkie. "I never beheld two faces
so unlike each other. The one (Giles) was a handsome fellow. The
other is positively ugly. He has a low forehead, jet--black eyes, a
snub nose, and long upper lip, irregular, rabbity teeth, and what is
called 'underhung.' And they are, besides, so different in manners.
There was a gravity about those of Giles. This man's are uncouth and
strangely offensive. Oh! how I wish that I had not been so
"Pooh! pooh! Make your mind easy," said Mr. Lyttlecoke.
"Ah, brother! but what an awful thing if I have been the cause of
wrongfully banishing for life an innocent man! Only think of
GEORGE GILES was, on the whole, what used to be termed by the
masters of convict servants, a very good man; but on several
occasions he misbehaved, and as Captain Bellamy never looked over but
one offence--namely, the first--he was several times punished; that
is to say, flogged. For five years and some months he was with
Captain Bellamy, and during that period was seen by the captain every
day. Indeed, he was almost constantly in the captain's sight; for in
addition to helping in the stables, he waited at table, cleaned the
knives, plate, boots, and shoes, and brushed the captain's clothes.
Captain Bellamy was not a married man; but he had two convict women
assigned to him, to do the washing, keep the furniture clean, attend
to the dairy, and cook. One day, Giles, while assisting these women
to move a heavy sideboard, intimated that it was his intention to
destroy himself shortly. The women laughed at Giles; but before the
week was out Giles was absent at "quarters" to which all hands wore
shrilly "piped" by the boatswain-overseer, at daylight every
"Where's Giles, Jackson?" asked Captain Bellamy of the overseer,
when he missed Giles from his place in the avenue of convicts,
through which the captain walked, looking into the face of every man
"I don't know, sir," replied Jackson.
"Well, wind the call again: and if he doesn't tumble up, when you
have told the men off, ascertain the reason of his absence. Perhaps
he is sick."
Here Jackson "winded" (blew) the call with such force that it
might have been heard by any one (except those very deaf indeed)
three miles distant, whilst to those within fifty yards it was
literally ear-splitting. But Giles did not hear it; or if he did, he
did not answer to it.
The overseer, having assigned to every man his day's work
respectively, went to hunt up the missing Giles. He was not in his
bed, nor had his bed been slept in; nor had Giles's clothes been
taken away, except those articles of apparel which he wore when last
seen. Everything that he owned was in his deal chest.
"Very strange!" said the captain, when these matters were reported
to him. "Very strange! He cannot have turned bushranger?"
"Hardly that, sir. I don't think he was a man of that sort," said
Here one of the convict women who was sweeping the floor of the
room, made bold to speak as follows:
"If you please, sir, he told us--me and Caroline--the other day,
that he was going to commit sooercide."
"Suicide!" said the captain; "why should he do that? He seemed
very happy here. But whether he has committed suicide or has run
away, I must, in the execution of my duty, report him to the
authorities as having absconded. Where are his lines, Jackson?"
"Here, sir," replied the overseer, taking from his pocket a greasy
"Read them out, and I'll write them down."
Jackson dictated as follows--and the captain, in a very legible
hand, transcribed his words on a sheet of foolscap:--Name, George
Giles. Ship, Ploenix. Height, 5 feet 9 7/8. Weight, on the first of
last month, 10st. 21b. 2oz. Hair, chesnut. Eyes, dark blue. Nose,
beaky. Teeth, regular and white. Complexion fair, but rather
sunburnt. Marks, scar on ball of right thumb, resembling a half-moon;
large black mole on left chest, the letters 'L. N.' pricked into the
right arm, just above the elbowjoint, and over them a dolphin.
"Has he ever been in the Navy, Jackson?" said the captain, on
hearing of the dolphin and the letters.
"Lord bless your honour! no, sir," replied Jackson. "He does not
know a marlinspike from a maintupbowlin. Had 'em done by some of the
convicts coming out, I suspect, in token of some sweetheart as he
left behind him, when he'd the herring-pond to come across, sir."
The description of the missing convict was forwarded to Sydney,
and ere long appeared in that portion of the Government "Gazette"
which was devoted to the description of convicts who had absconded
from their masters.
Ten years had elapsed, and nothing had been heard of Giles.
Captain Bellamy had, after a while, begun to think that the man had
committed suicide by throwing himself into the River Hawkesbury,
which flowed through his estate; and, by degrees, had ceased to think
any more about him. Mr. Binkie, the prosecutor of Giles, had departed
this life; Mr. Martin also had paid the debt of nature; so had Sir
John Nemberpage, if nature will accept as payment of her debt a life
sacrificed in a duel, arising out of a disreputable quarrel over a
card--table. What had become of Sir John's brother (Charles), whose
person and character, to some small extent, have been described in
these pages, no one knew. He had disappeared very mysteriously in the
latter part of the year 1820, and in 1823 the title and the estates
devolved upon Lucius, the youngest son of the late Sir Jasper
Nemberpage. In 1824, this youngest son, who had been travelling
abroad (with his brother Charles, it was said), returned to England,
and claimed, and was at once invested with his rights. He became, of
course, Sir Lucius Nemberpage, and went to reside at the family seat,
Nemberpage Hall, in the county of Huntingdon; and shortly after
succeeding to his title and estates, he married the only daughter and
heiress of Sir Charles Limbersault, by whom, in the course of seven
years, he became the father of four children, three boys and a girl.
It was said, or rather rumoured, that in early life Sir Lucius had
been very wild and very gay; but no one could now complain of him on
that score. He was a good husband, a good father, and a good
landlord; in short, in every respect and relation of life, Sir Lucius
Nemberpage was an excellent and exemplary member of society. He was
always the first man in the county to befriend the poor, relieve the
oppressed, and comfort the sorrowful. His popularity was unbounded,
and deservedly so. Lady Nemberpage, who, by hearsay, was really
beautiful woman, was likewise greatly respected and beloved by all
who had the good fortune to know her. The children also of Sir Lucius
and Lady Nemberpage were objects of admiration and regard in the
county; they were so handsome, so healthy, so well-behaved, and so
prettily mannered, and yet so natural in all their sayings and
doings. In fact, they were well--educated, but not over-educated,
In the year 1836, Captain Bellamy, R.N., of Bellamy Castle, New
South Wales, revisited his native land. His object in coming to
England was to induce the Government to appoint him governor of New
Zealand, Swan River, Port Phillip, or some other settlement at the
Antipodes. The old gentleman was an uncle of mine (I must now speak
in the first person), my late father having married his only sister.
My mother and myself at the time of my uncle's arrival were living on
a little ancestral estate, or piece of land containing some sixty or
seventy acres. My uncle had not corresponded with my mother for many
years; but somehow or other, soon after he landed in England, he
discovered her address, and wrote to inform her of his arrival. She
invited him to spend as much of his time as possible with us; and he
came, accompanied by his boatswain-overseer, Mr. Jackson, who acted
as his valet, toady, and shadow, and whom my uncle would, I am
perfectly satisfied, have recommended as his colonial secretary, had
the Government fallen in with his views. I could not help liking my
uncle, his features were so like those of my mother and of my
grandfather, whose portrait occupied the place of honour in our snug
but unpretentious dining-room. At the same time, I must confess that
my uncle's manners and habits were extremely distasteful to me. The
truth is, that he had lived so long in the wilds of Australia, cut
off from the world, as it were, and moving only amongst, or rather
soaring above, men whom, to use his own words "he fed well, clothed
well, worked well, and flogged well," that he had become utterly
forgetful or regardless of most of the amenities of civilized
society. For instance, he would sometimes take the charge of our
small establishment entirely out of the hands of my mother and
myself, and tell the man-servant who waited at table, that if he had
him at Bellamy Castle he would give him seventy-five as "sure as he
had a shirt to strip, or a back to bleed." And for what? For some
awkwardness, or other venial offence, of which very few people in
this country would have taken any notice. To the women servants, if
he were displeased with them, he would not unfrequently say, "If you
belonged to me, I'd have all that hair of yours cut of in the
Paramatta factory, where they don't use a comb and scissors, but a
gridiron and sheep-shears." He was, besides, so positive and so
overbearing in his manners to myself, that if any one had guaranteed
to me the possession at his death, of all the wealth which he was
supposed to possess--and really did possess, on the condition that I
would live in the same house for a year with him, I would not have
been a party to the agreement. As for Mr. Jackson, I should have
hated him, so much was he in the way, had it not been for his
extraordinary devotion to his master, and a quaintness and sagacity
which marked his every speech and action. Nevertheless, he must have
been a man devoid of every moral principle, for he had not been a
week at Penfield (the name of our little estate) before he had
proposed marriage to every female in the establishment, and for aught
I know to every female in the neighbourhood, albeit my uncle had more
than once told me that Mr. Jackson had left behind him a wife and two
children at Bellamy Castle! Happily for himself, perhaps, and, to my
idea, happily for those to whom he paid his abrupt addresses, they
were uniformly rejected.
It often occurred to me that my uncle, although he had for so many
years been a settler, was under the impression that the whole world
was a man--of-war, and that the particular part of it on which he
happened to tread was the quarter-deck; and that Mr. Jackson also
believed the earth to be a man--of-war, and that he was the boatswain
My poor mother, who was one of the gentlest of beings, was afraid
of my uncle, whom she had not seen since the days of her childhood.
Indeed, she could hardly remember him; for he was not more than
twelve years of age when he was sent to sea, and she was several
years younger than he was. During the whole period of his naval
career, he had never set foot on English soil. He had either been in
South America, or on the African station, or cruising about New
Zealand and Bass's Straits, taking bearings and chartt-making. The
last vessel that he commanded was a small sloop--of-war with a roving
Mr. Jackson, whose constant theme of conversation was "his
excellency the captain," informed me that he was "an awfully smart
man on board of ship--with the eye of a hawk, but terrible strict,
and always acting up to that one motter (motto), 'Feed well, work
well, and (if required) flog well.'."
In consequence of my mother's dread of him, I used to keep my
uncle as much away from the house as possible, by taking him for a
drive, or a ride, or a walk. I could not prevail upon him to visit
any of the gentry in our neighbourhood, for he said he was "not
wishful to make any acquaintances in England." He had "simply come
home for a certain purpose, and, that accomplished, he was of again
to the south." One fine morning in the spring, I asked him to
accompany me to Newmarket to witness a match of pigeon--shooting. He
expressed his readiness, and we set out for the scene of action.
There was a great gathering in the field, which lay at the back of
the Rutland Arms, for the match was between two of the most renowned
shots in the county, if not in the kingdom. From all parts had
gentlemen and others come to witness the contest--from Cambridge,
from Bury, from Lynn, from Ely, from Royston, and very many from
London. I should say that there were not less than four or five
thousand persons on the ground, and amongst them were many
individuals of high rank.
When the match was about half over, my uncle seized me suddenly by
the wrist, held me in iron grip, looked steadfastly into my eyes, and
in a deep, sonorous, but subdued voice, exclaimed--GILES! AS I
I could not comprehend him, and asked, with a smile, what he
"William," he whispered, mysteriously, "there is Giles overthere!
I see him, and I'll have him!" And releasing his hold of my wrist, he
made his bony fingers and thumb the shape of an eagle's claw.
"Whom?" I inquired; "have whom? Who's your friend? where is he?
what has he done?"
"I wish Jackson had come with us."
"He would soon seize and muzzle him. As it is, I shall have to do
it myself, if a constable cannot be found."
"Do, my dear uncle, be more explicit."
"You see that man over there."
"I see a great many; but which man?"
"That man dressed in a suit of blue cloth, with a white hat."
"Yes; and I know him."
"Do you? what is his name?"
"Sir Lucius Nemberpage."
"Sir Lucius fiddlestick! It is Giles--George Giles!"
"I assure you, you are mistaken, uncle. But who may Giles be?"
"My assigned servant, who ran away from me, and who was never
heard of afterwards."
Here I laughed.
"You may laugh," said my uncle, "but it will not he a laughing
matter for that man. He will be hanged as sure as he is alive. That
is the penalty, you know, for returning from transportation."
"Let me repeat, my dear uncle, that you are labouring under a
"A mistake, sir? Do you mean to tell me that I, who have served on
board of ships of war in every grade, from midshipman up to
commander--I, who have so vast a memory for persons and things, that
I can call up, at any moment, the faces of a whole ship's company,
including even the boys and the marines--do you mean to tell me that
I cannot identify a man who, for five years, was a servant of mine;
who attended to my horses, waited at my table, cleaned my boots, and
brushed my clothes? What do you mean, sir?"
"Be not so angry and excited, uncle; and remember we are in a
crowd, and not alone. You shall see Sir Lucius at a closer view
presently, and then I am satisfied you will acknowledge your error.
If you will allow me, I will introduce you to Sir Lucius, as soon as
the match is over."
"Introduce me! Introduce me to my own servant! Egad, I'll
introduce myself!" and again he made his right hand into the shape of
an eagle's claw.
"I implore you not to commit yourself to any unseemly conduct, nor
place me in a painfully unpleasant position. If you were to molest or
insult Sir Lucius on this ground, the people here assembled would
have you seized and conveyed to prison; indeed, the chances are that
you would be beaten to death."
"Bah! that's Giles! The more I look at him the more am I
convinced. Why, he's bowing in this direction!"
"Yes, and I have returned his bow. Pray be quiet; for I can see
that he is coming to speak to me as soon as an opportunity presents
itself. Shall I introduce you, or shall I not?"
"Very well, you may."
Sure enough, as soon as an opportunity presented itself, Sir
Lucius did approach, shook hands with me, and inquired after the
health of my mother, of which I gave a true report.
I then inquired after the health of Lady Nemberpage, and the
children, and was rejoiced to hear they were "quite well." These
compliments over, I said--"Will you allow me, Sir Lucius to introduce
my uncle, Captain Bellamy, of the Royal Navy?"
The old gentleman, who up to that moment had been unnoticed by Sir
Lucius, took off his hat, and made a very profound bow. He then drew
himself up to his full height (six feet), and remained uncovered. I
could not help observing that Sir Lucius became very pale and
agitated, albeit he strove hard to maintain his wonted composure.
"Are you living in this part of the world, Captain Bellamy?" asked
Sir Lucius, confusedly.
"No, Sir Lucius," was the reply; "my home is in Botany Bay, and I
am only a visitor in Europe. My lodgings are in the neighbourhood of
"Indeed!" said Sir Lucius, whose face now became
"Yes," said my uncle, taking from his pocket his old silver
snuff-box, from which he took a pinch, and then held it forth to the
baronet. "You take snuff, Sir Lucius?"
The baronet declined, with many thanks.
"But you were addicted to the vice of taking it formerly, were you
not, Sir Lucius?"
"Occasionally I used to take a pinch."
"I thought so. Yes!" and here my uncle thrust his hands into his
trousers--pockets, and shrugged up his shoulders so high that any
one, standing behind him at that moment, would have supposed that he
had no neck whatever.
Uncomfortable as Sir Lucius appeared in the presence of my uncle,
and anxious as he seemed to get away, yet he lingered near us and
with us. He was a man who doubts either his liberty to move, or the
prudence of absenting himself, lest he should be talked of to his
prejudice. This struck me as so very strange that I hardly know what
to think of the statements made by my uncle. I involuntarily
shuddered from head to foot, and hoped in my heart that there was no
real foundation for those statements.
The sporting match over, the crowd had dispersed. But Sir Lucius,
my uncle, and myself remained in the field, Why, I knew not. A
servant, a groom of Sir Lucius', came up, touched his hat, and was
about to speak, when Sir Lucius waved him off, saying, "By-and-by;
by-and-by. Go home and say I am coming."
After an extremely awkward silence, my uncle exclaimed--"Well, it
is time to move," and stepped out in the direction of the hotel. Sir
Lucius and myself followed, or rather walked on either side of
"Will you take luncheon at the hotel?" I inquired of my uncle.
"Yes," he answered, snappishly.
"Well, I will run on ahead, and order it."
"Ah! not a bad idea. Run away, my boy. Run away! Run away! Run
away!" And then, turning to Sir Lucius, he said--"And you may run
with him, if you like, sir."
"Thank you, sir," replied Sir Lucius, not impudently, but
respectfully and gratefully--more in the tone of a school-boy who has
obtained permission to go fishing, or play at cricket.
After luncheon had been ordered at the hotel, Sir Lucius
Nemberpage, trembling from head to foot, laid his hand upon my
shoulder, and in a broken voice hurriedly said,--"Will you be my
friend? May I give you my confidence?"
"I would do anything in the world for you, Sir Lucius," I
"Protect me from your uncle! Let him not speak of me. My heart
tells me that he has already been communicative to you. Is it not
I made no reply.
"Protect me from your uncle! You have given me a promise that you
will be my friend, and I am certain that you will do all in your
power; but it will not be an easy matter, for he is a hard, strict,
unbending, and--forgive me for saying so--a very vindictive old man.
I know him alas! too well. I know him!"
"But you have never done him any wrong, Sir Lucius?"
"Ah, my dear sir, if you only knew my history, you would pity me
from the very bottom of your heart. But hush! Here comes the old
gentleman. That is his foot-step on the stairs--measured, soft, but
Another moment, and my uncle entered the room. There was at once a
dead silence. The waiter ere long came in, bearing on a tray
hissing-hot beefsteaks, and a dish of mealy potatoes.
"I have no appetite for food," said my uncle, pacing the room;
"and I would advise you, William, not to spoil yours for your dinner.
It will afford me, however, very great pleasure," he added,
sarcastically, "to stand behind Sir Lucius's chair, and, as I am not
a proud man, to wait upon him."
Sir Lucius buried his face in his hands, and groaned heavily.
"I was mistaken, sir, was I?" said my uncle, turning to me. "I
should have been beaten by the mob, and have been carried off to
prison, if I had claimed my own property in that field--or, rather,
the King's property--for when he left the island to which he was sent
for his life, he escheated to the Crown. I was wrong, was I?--wrong
about a man whose lines are still in my possession, whose lines would
at once establish his identity, even if there could be any doubt
about my recognition of his person? But how the deuce he has become
Sir Lucius Nemberpage is to me the most mysterious part of the
affair. It must have been by some diabolical false representation,
which justice demands should be brought to light--justice to some
rightful heir to the property and the title of which he has possessed
himself. The name of this man is George Giles, and he has upon his
right arm the letters 'L. N.' with a dolphin over them, and so
pricked in were they, that the devil himself could not get rid of
them without cutting off the flesh."
"It is perfectly true that I have upon my right arm the initials
of my name, and over them the crest of my family," said Sir Lucius,
looking up, meekly, at my uncle. "These initials are the initials of
"Worn upon the arm of George Giles! I will swear to you as George
Giles in any court of justice; and so will Jackson, as soon as he
sees you." Then turning to me, my uncle said--"William, I wish to go
He was about to leave the room, but Sir Lucius sprang from his
chair, rushed to the door, locked it, and put the key in his
"Villain! Convict villain!" cried my uncle; "dare you make your
own master a prisoner in a public-house?" And with these words he
rushed towards the bell-rope; but I intercepted him, and laying my
hands upon him with just the force that was required, I begged him to
be quiet for a few minutes.
Thwarted in his purpose, whatever it might have been, my uncle's
rage knew no bounds. Unable to leave the room, or ring the bell, he
stamped, swore, and shouted at the top of his voice--"Fire! murder!
thieves!" and then fell senseless on the floor.
The hotel servants, with the landlord at their head, came flocking
to the door, which Sir Lucius, in great trepidation, opened, and then
requested that surgical assistance might be instantly procured. After
a few minutes a doctor came; and on looking at my uncle, informed us
that he was dying. He had ruptured, in his rage, a large
blood-vessel, and the fluid was issuing copiously from his mouth and
nostrils. We removed the old gentleman to a bed in an adjoining
apartment, and there, at nine o'clock, he breathed his last.
My mother was much too nervous, and in health far too delicate, to
admit of having my uncle's body removed to our home; and arrangements
were accordingly made that the corpse should be taken from the hotel
to its last restingplace--the family vault of the Nemberpage family,
Sir Lucius having begged, with tears in his eyes, that I would
consent to this, after making me promise him that I would never
mention the facts in my possession, so long as he or his wife and
children were in existence. Sir Lucius could not attend the funeral;
for Mr. Jackson, whom the baronet was very anxious to avoid, claimed
a right to be one of my uncle's pall--bearers--and it was a right
which no one could reasonably dispute, considering the premises upon
which the claim was based. Mr. Jackson alleged that he "had been with
the late captain for upwards of forty-four years, and during that
time had never been out of his sight for more than a few hours
together; that he had attended, and had been faithful, unto him, in
sickness and in health; and whether he (Captain Bellamy) had gone up
above or down below, he (John Jackson) hoped that, when he died, he
should go to the same place, where he would never fail to salute him
respectfully as a smart officer, a good man, and a perfect gentleman
in every sense of the word."
A few days after my uncle's funeral, and when Jackson had gone to
London, en route to Sydney, I received a note from Sir Lucius
Nemberpage, in these words:--Dear--,--Come and see me. Lady N. and
the children have gone to Ackridge House, to spend the day. You will
find me all alone, in the library. Yours ever, L.N.
I ordered my horse, and in less than half an hour was at
Nemberpage Hall. Sir Lucius looked jaded, ill, and half
"You have heard only half of a secret," he began, "which has been,
and is still, preying on my very soul. It is but fair to you, and to
myself especially, that you should know the whole of the secret; and
here, in the most solemn manner, I call the Almighty to witness the
truth of what I am about to relate. I was tried, convicted, found
guilty, and sentenced to be transported for the term of my natural
life, and became the convict-servant of your uncle, the late Captain
"For what offence, Sir Lucius?"
"No criminal offence. No offence whatever. But the offence which
was 'proved' against me was that of a highway robbery. But hear me
out. You are aware, as is everybody in the county, that my father had
three sons, the late Sir John, my brother Charles, and myself. John
was four years old when I was born, and Charley two years. We were
all wild when we grew towards manhood; and gave my father a great
deal of anxiety and trouble. No wonder that he thrashed us so
unmercifully when we were boys--and struck us even when we were young
men--although I think a milder course of treatment might have been
more effectual; and I think it would have been more to our advantage
had he taken some pains with our education, instead of not caring, or
seeming not to care, whether we learned anything or not. And then he
kept us very short of money; even John was stinted frightfully. But,
wild as we all then were, John and I were not, by many degrees, so
wild as Charley. He was, indeed, something more than wild. It pains
me to say so;--but he was a perfect demon. Heaven only knows what
crimes he may or may not have to answer for in another world. John
and myself were both frightened of Charles, and yet we loved him. He
was such a strange admixture of gentleness and ferocity. In the days
to which I now refer, our family did not live in this county, but on
a small estate in Oxfordshire. This estate on which I now live was
rented to a nobleman. My father being a member of parliament for a
borough in the neighbourhood, was frequently absent for weeks
together in London, and my mother on all occasions accompanied him.
Left alone in the house, we three young men placed no sort of
restraint upon our passions and inclinations: we gambled, we drank,
and, I am shocked to add, we kept very low company. At this time John
was five-and-twenty, Charles twenty--three, and I just of age. Such a
den as was that part of the large house which we young men inhabited
it would be difficult to describe to you. Suddenly, my brother
Charles was never in want of money. He had not only sufficient for
his own wants, but his purse was always open to John and myself, when
we were destitute of that valuable commodity. There was another young
gentleman, the eldest son of a wealthy but penurious squire in the
neighbourhood, who also became, suddenly, what is vulgarly called
'flush of money.' Charles and the young squire were very great
friends; and often, when they produced their well-filled purses,
would John and I remark:--'Why, you must have been upon the highway,'
little thinking of the old proverb, 'There's many a true word spoke
in jest.' We led this kind of life for more than two years, when
Charles became indisposed; and the doctors recommended that he should
have change of air and scene. He begged of me to accompany him, and I
most willingly assented. We left home for London, and thence
journeyed in a post-chaise to Bath. On the road thither, Charles
(wherefore I knew not) suggested that we should travel under false
names. I was to be Mr. George Giles, of Eagle Lodge, Devonshire--and
he Mr. Francis Preston, of Honiton, in the same county. I was,
morever, appointed the treasurer during the excursion, and had charge
of the general purse. After staying at Bath for a few days, we went
into Cornwall, where we remained a fortnight with a relation of ours,
and then returned to our home. Some two years afterwards I was seized
in Piccadilly." (The reader knows what followed.)
"But why, Sir Lucius," I asked, "did you not, when apprehended,
give your own name?"
"Because that might not have cleared me of the imputation; and,
besides, I was afraid of endangering the safety of Charles, who
confessed to me afterwards, in New South Wales, that it was he who
robbed Mr. Binkie on the highway, and what is more, he showed me the
silver coin of the reign of Charles I., about which the old banker
was so very anxious."
"In New South Wales, Sir Lucius? How came your brother Charles
there? Was he also transported?"
"Oh dear, no. I had been some four years in Australia before I
made Charles acquainted with my fate. My father and mother, thank
heaven, never knew what it had been for they died shortly after I
left England. And, if I may believe, as I think I may, what Charles
told me, my brother John, also, was ignorant of my fate. The moment
Charles received my letter he took a passage in a ship to Sydney,
contrived to have several interviews with me, and with him I made my
escape from the colony in a vessel bound for Calcutta; thence we came
to Havre in a French vessel. It was then that we heard of my brother
John's untimely death; and it was there, and not in Rome, as rumour
has it, that my brother Charles died and was buried."
"But, Sir Lucius," said I, "you have told me that you were
identified--I mean falsely identified--by that mark on the ball of
your right thumb. Had your brother Charles that mark?"
"Yes. And I will tell you how both of us came to have it. My
mother, who was as kind and as gentle a being as your own mother,
was, nevertheless, a very weak and superstitious woman, and was one
day told by a gipsy-woman, who came into the yard, that we boys,
Charley and myself--our ages were then, respectively, six and four
years, and we were sickly--would never thrive, or be fortunate in
life, unless we were branded. And the hag was permitted to perform
the operation with a silver instrument, which she carried with her
for the purpose. It was applied when nearly red-hot, and left this
cursed mark upon me."
"And something was said about a mark upon your arm--some
"Yes, they are my initials. See?" (Sir Lucius bared his right
arm.) "And this is our crest. When children, my father was afraid
that one or other of us might be stolen by the gipsies, who in those
days, and especially in Oxfordshire, often carried off the children
of rich people; and so he caused us all to be thus
marked--disfigured. John had 'J. N.,' Charley 'C. N.,'and I 'L. N.,'
with the dolphin above. It was done with Indian ink, gunpowder, and
some fine needles, and I can just remember roaring loudly during the
operation. And now, I would put one question to you, which I hope you
will answer candidly and from your heart. Do you doubt the truth of
any of the statements I have made to you in respect to my unfortunate
"No, Sir Lucius," I replied. "I believe them all most
"Then I would ask you a great favour."
"What is it?"
"Will you correspond with me when we have gone abroad?"
"Yes; but I hope you will not leave this part of the oountry."
"I feel," said Sir Lucius, "that I have no right to remain in
England, whence I was banished--whether wrongly or rightly it matters
not. If I dared, I would settle in Australia; but that is out of the
question. There I should be a prisoner of the Crown, or ignominiously
hanged, if it were known that I had left the colony. As it is, I and
all my family will embark next month for America, where I shall
retain the name of my ancestors, but fling away the title."
And Sir Lucius Nemberpage and Lady Nemberpage and their children
did embark for America; but they never arrived there. The vessel in
which they had taken their passage foundered; and save one seaman,
who was saved to tell the tale, all on board perished in the