Click here to Download For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book by Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke English having PDF Size 4.1 MB and No of Pages 256.
In the breathless stillness of a tropical afternoon, when the air was hot and heavy, and the sky brazen and cloudless, the shadow of the Malabar lay solitary on the surface of the glittering sea. The sun—who rose on the left hand every morning a blazing ball, to move slowly through the unbearable blue.
For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book by Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke
|Name of Book||For the Term of His Natural Life|
|Author||Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke|
|PDF Size||4.1 MB|
|No of Pages||256|
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Until he sank fiery red in mingling glories of sky and ocean on the right hand—had just got low enough to peep beneath the awning that covered the poop-deck, and awaken a young man, in an undress military uniform, who was dozing on a coil of rope. “Hang it!” said he, rising and stretching himself, with the weary sigh of a man who has nothing to do.
“I must have been asleep”; and then, holding by a stay, he turned about and looked down into the waist of the ship. Save for the man at the wheel and the guard at the quarter-railing, he was alone on the deck. A few birds flew round about the vessel, and seemed to pass under her stern windows only to appear again at her bows.
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A lazy albatross, with the white water flashing from his wings, rose with a dabbling sound to leeward, and in the place where he had been glided the hideous fin of a silently-swimming shark. The seams of the well-scrubbed deck were sticky with melted pitch, and the brass plate of the compass-case sparkled in the sun like a jewel.
There was no breeze, and as the clumsy ship rolled and lurched on the heaving sea, her idle sails flapped against her masts with a regularly recurring noise, and her bowsprit would seem to rise higher with the water’s swell, to dip again with a jerk that made each rope tremble and tauten.
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On the forecastle, some half-dozen soldiers, in all varieties of undress, were playing at cards, smoking, or watching the fishing-lines hanging over the catheads. So far the appearance of the vessel differed in no wise from that of an ordinary transport. But in the waist a curious sight presented itself.
It was as though one had built a cattle-pen there. At the foot of the foremast, and at the quarter-deck, a strong barricade, loop-holed and furnished with doors for ingress and egress, ran across the deck from bulwark to bulwark. Outside this cattle-pen an armed sentry stood on guard; inside, standing, sitting, or walking monotonously, within range of the shining barrels in the arm chest on the poop.
Were some sixty men and boys, dressed in uniform grey. The men and boys were prisoners of the Crown, and the cattle-pen was their exercise ground. Their prison was down the main hatchway, on the ‘tween decks, and the barricade, continued down, made its side walls. It was the fag end of the two hours’ exercise graciously permitted each afternoon by His Majesty King George. For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book
The Fourth to prisoners of the Crown, and the prisoners of the Crown were enjoying themselves. It was not, perhaps, so pleasant as under the awning on the poop-deck, but that sacred shade was only for such great men as the captain and his officers, Surgeon Pine, Lieutenant Maurice Frere, and, most important personages of all, Captain Vickers and his wife.
That the convict leaning against the bulwarks would like to have been able to get rid of his enemy the sun for a moment, was probable enough. His companions, sitting on the combings of the mainhatch, or crouched in careless fashion on the shady side of the barricade, were laughing and talking, with blasphemous and obscene merriment hideous to contemplate.
But he, with cap pulled over his brows, and hands thrust into the pockets of his coarse grey garments, held aloof from their dismal joviality. The sun poured his hottest rays on his head unheeded, and though every cranny and seam in the deck sweltered hot pitch under the fierce heat, the man stood there, motionless and morose, staring at the sleepy sea. For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book
He had stood thus, in one place or another, ever since the groaning vessel had escaped from the rollers of the Bay of Biscay, and the miserable hundred and eighty creatures among whom he was classed had been freed from their irons, and allowed to sniff fresh air twice a day. The low-browed.
Coarse-featured ruffians grouped about the deck cast many a leer of contempt at the solitary figure, but their remarks were confined to gestures only. There are degrees in crime, and Rufus Dawes, the convicted felon, who had but escaped the gallows to toil for all his life in irons, was a man of mark. He had been tried for the robbery and murder of Lord Bellasis.
The friendless vagabond’s lame story of finding on the Heath a dying man would not have availed him, but for the curious fact sworn to by the landlord of the Spaniards’ Inn, that the murdered nobleman had shaken his head when asked if the prisoner was his assassin. The vagabond was acquitted of the murder, but condemned to death for the robbery, and London. For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book
Who took some interest in the trial, considered him fortunate when his sentence was commuted to transportation for life. It was customary on board these floating prisons to keep each man’s crime a secret from his fellows, so that if he chose, and the caprice of his gaolers allowed him, he could lead a new life in his adopted home, without being taunted with his former misdeeds.
But, like other excellent devices, the expedient was only a nominal one, and few out of the doomed hundred and eighty were ignorant of the offence which their companions had committed. The more guilty boasted of their superiority in vice; the petty criminals swore that their guilt was blacker than it appeared.
Moreover, a deed so bloodthirsty and a respite so unexpected, had invested the name of Rufus Dawes with a grim distinction, which his superior mental abilities, no less than his haughty temper and powerful frame, combined to support. A young man of two-and-twenty owning to no friends, and existing among them but by the fact of his criminality, he was respected and admired. For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book
The vilest of all the vile horde penned between decks, if they laughed at his “fine airs” behind his back, cringed and submitted when they met him face to face— for in a convict ship the greatest villain is the greatest hero, and the only nobility acknowledged by that hideous commonwealth is that Order of the Halter which is conferred by the hand of the hangman.
The young man on the poop caught sight of the tall figure leaning against the bulwarks, and it gave him an excuse to break the monotony of his employment. “Here, you!” he called with an oath, “get out of the gangway!” Rufus Dawes was not in the gangway —was, in fact, a good two feet from it, but at the sound of Lieutenant Frere’s voice he started, and went obediently towards the hatchway.
“Touch your hat, you dog!” cries Frere, coming to the quarter-railing. “Touch your damned hat! Do you hear?” Rufus Dawes touched his cap, saluting in half military fashion. “I’ll make some of you fellows smart, if you don’t have a care,” went on the angry Frere, half to himself. “Insolent blackguards!” For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book Download
And then the noise of the sentry, on the quarter-deck below him, grounding arms, turned the current of his thoughts. A thin, tall, soldier-like man, with a cold blue eye, and prim features, came out of the cuddy below, handing out a fair-haired, affected, mincing lady, of middle age. Captain Vickers, of Mr. Frere’s regiment, ordered for service in Van Diemen’s Land.
Was bringing his lady on deck to get an appetite for dinner. “No signs of a breeze, Mr. Best?” asked Blunt, as the first officer came in and took his seat. “None, sir.” “These—he, he!—awful calms,” says Mrs. Vickers. “A week, is it not, Captain Blunt?” “Thirteen days, mum,” growled Blunt.
“I remember, off the Coromandel coast,” put in cheerful Pine, “when we had the plague in the Rattlesnake—” “Captain Vickers, another glass of wine?” cried Blunt, hastening to cut the anecdote short. “Thank you, no more. I have the headache.” “Headache—um—don’t wonder at it, going down among those fellows. For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book Download
It is infamous the way they crowd these ships. Here we have over two hundred souls on board, and not boat room for half of ’em.” “Two hundred souls! Surely not,” says Vickers. “By the King’s Regulations—” “One hundred and eighty convicts, fifty soldiers, thirty in ship’s crew, all told, and—how many?— one, two three—seven in the cuddy.
How many do you make that?” “We are just a little crowded this time,” says Best. “It is very wrong,” says Vickers, pompously. “Very wrong. By the King’s Regulations—” But the subject of the King’s Regulations was even more distasteful to the cuddy than Pine’s interminable anecdotes, and Mrs. Vickers hastened to change the subject.
“Are you not heartily tired of this dreadful life, Mr. Frere?” “Well, it is not exactly the life I had hoped to lead,” said Frere, rubbing a freckled hand over his stubborn red hair; “but I must make the best of it.” “Yes, indeed,” said the lady, in that subdued manner with which one comments upon a well-known accident, “it must have been a great shock to you to be so suddenly deprived of so large a fortune.” For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book Download
“Not only that, but to find that the black sheep who got it all sailed for India within a week of my uncle’s death! Lady Devine got a letter from him on the day of the funeral to say that he had taken his passage in the Hydaspes for Calcutta, and never meant to come back again!” “Sir Richard Devine left no other children?” “No, only this mysterious Dick, whom I never saw, but who must have hated me.”
“Dear, dear! These family quarrels are dreadful things. Poor Lady Devine, to lose in one day a husband and a son!” “And the next morning to hear of the murder of her cousin! You know that we are connected with the Bellasis family. My aunt’s father married a sister of the second Lord Bellasis.” “Indeed. That was a horrible murder.
So you think that the dreadful man you pointed out the other day did it?” “The jury seemed to think not,” said Mr. Frere, with a laugh; “but I don’t know anybody else who could have a motive for it. However, I’ll go on deck and have a smoke.” “I wonder what induced that old hunks of a shipbuilder to try to cut off his only son in favour of a cub of that sort.” For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book Free
Said Surgeon Pine to Captain Vickers as the broad back of Mr. Maurice Frere disappeared up the companion. “Some boyish follies abroad, I believe; self-made men are always impatient of extravagance. But it is hard upon Frere. He is not a bad sort of fellow for all his roughness, and when a young man finds that an accident deprives him of a quarter of a million of money.
And leaves him without a sixpence beyond his commission in a marching regiment under orders for a convict settlement, he has some reason to rail against fate.” “How was it that the son came in for the money after all, then?” “Why, it seems that when old Devine returned from sending for his lawyer to alter his will, he got a fit of apoplexy, the result of his rage.
I suppose, and when they opened his room door in the morning they found him dead. They looked again, the tiny spark still burned, and immediately over it there grew out of the darkness a crimson spot, that hung like a lurid star in the air. The soldiers and sailors on the forecastle had seen it also, and in a moment the whole vessel was astir. For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book Free
Mrs. Vickers, with little Sylvia clinging to her dress, came up to share the new sensation; and at the sight of her mistress, the modest maid withdrew discreetly from Frere’s side. Not that there was any need to do so; no one heeded her. Blunt, in his professional excitement, had already forgotten her presence, and Frere was in earnest conversation with Vickers.
“Take a boat?” said that gentleman. “Certainly, my dear Frere, by all means. That is to say, if the captain does not object, and it is not contrary to the Regulations.” “Captain, you’ll lower a boat, eh? We may save some of the poor devils,” cries Frere, his heartiness of body reviving at the prospect of excitement.
“Boat!” said Blunt, “why, she’s twelve miles off and more, and there’s not a breath o’ wind!” “But we can’t let ’em roast like chestnuts!” cried the other, as the glow in the sky broadened and became more intense. “What is the good of a boat?” said Pine. “The long-boat only holds thirty men, and that’s a big ship yonder.” For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book Free
“Well, take two boats—three boats! By Heaven, you’ll never let ’em burn alive without stirring a finger to save ’em!” “They’ve got their own boats,” says Blunt, whose coolness was in strong contrast to the young officer’s impetuosity; “and if the fire gains, they’ll take to ’em, you may depend. In the meantime, we’ll show ’em that there’s someone near ’em.”
And as he spoke, a blue light flared hissing into the night. “There, they’ll see that, I expect!” he said, as the ghastly flame rose, extinguishing the stars for a moment, only to let them appear again brighter in a darker heaven. “Mr. Best—lower and man the quarter-boats! Mr. Frere—you can go in one, if you like, and take a volunteer or two from those grey jackets of yours amidships.
I shall want as many hands as I can spare to man the long-boat and cutter, in case we want ’em. Steady there, lads! Easy!” and as the first eight men who could reach the deck parted to the larboard and starboard quarter-boats, Frere ran down on the main-deck. For the Term of His Natural Life PDF Book Free