Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/104

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lished seven weekly numbers of it," he says. "Amid the dim glare of the lamp the men, at night, would group strangely on extemporized seats. The yellow light fell down on the dark forms, throwing a ghastly glare on the pale faces of the men as they listened with blazing eyes to Davis's 'Fontenoy,' or the 'Clansman's Wild Address to Shane's Head'! Ah, that is another of the grand picture memories that come only to those who deal with life's stern realities!"

Every night the exiles. Catholic and Protestant, for there were men of both faiths in their ranks, joined in one prayer, which ran as follows:

"O God, who art the arbiter of the destiny of nations, and who rulest the world in Thy great wisdom, look down, we beseech Thee, from Thy holy place, on the sufferings of our poor country. Scatter her enemies, O Lord, and confound their evil projects. Hear us, O God, hear the earnest cry of our people, and give them strength and fortitude to dare and suffer in their holy cause. Send her help, O Lord! from Thy holy place. And from Zion protect her. Amen."

But if the political prisoners were able to forget their misery for a time in this way, there was no such surcease for the seething mass of crime that peopled the forward hold.

"Only those," says O'Reilly in "Moondyne," "who have stood within the bars, and heard the din of devils and the appalling sounds of despair, blended in a diapason that made every hatch-mouth a vent of hell, can imagine the horrors of the hold of a convict ship."

The punishment cell was seldom empty; its occupants as they looked through its bars at the deck "saw, strapped to the foremast, a black gaff or spar with iron rings, which, when the spar was lowered horizontally, corresponded to rings screwed into the deck. This was the triangle, where the unruly convicts were triced up and flogged every morning. Above this triangle, tied round the foremast, was a new and very fine hempen rope, leading away to the end of the foreyard. This was the ultimate appeal, the law's last terrible engine—the halter—which swung mutineers and murderers out over the hissing sea to eternity."