Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/759

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Beasley, complaining that the allowance made them was scanty, that the whole day's pittance was scarcely enough for one meal, that for the greater part the American prisoners were in a state of nakedness, and that a good many of them to escape from a condition that was intolerable had volunteered to join the King's service.

"To these petitions, complaints, and remonstrances, Mr. Beasley returned no answer, nor took any notice of them whatever."

On 28 May, 250 more American prisoners arrived, raising the total to 500. Again they appealed to the agent of the U.S.A., informing him that they were defrauded of half their rations by the contractor, that small-pox was raging among them, and that they were swarming with vermin.

"To these complaints he paid no more attention, neither came to see whether they were true or false, nor sent any answer either written or verbal."

On 16 September, 1813, to the immense relief of the Americans, all the French prisoners to the number of 436, who had herded with them in No. 4, were turned out and placed elsewhere. Many of these had been in prison for ten years, and were in a condition of perfect nudity, and slept on the bare floor without any rug under them or covering over them. This endured for so many years had caused their skin to acquire a hardness like that of the stones. But this condition was entirely due to the passion for gambling. Whenever they were supplied with clothes, instead of putting them on, they started playing and staking every several article of clothing given them, till they had lost all. They had often been supplied by their countrymen with hammocks, beds, and garments, but they no sooner were in possession of them than they went to the grating, sold them to the Jews outside, and gambled the whole pro-