Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/125

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

shore, the convict should offer to compound for his own absconding by giving up the other and more important fugitive.[1]

As soon as the boat had departed Hathaway and O'Reilly held a council of war. Capt. Gifford was fortunately on shore. It would have been a serious thing for him to risk his ship, and perhaps his freedom, by protecting a fugitive felon from recapture. O'Reilly was desperate, but firm in his determination not to be taken alive. He had obtained a revolver, and was prepared to sell his life dearly rather than be taken back to the penal settlement and the inevitable horrors of the chain-gang. Hathaway was deeply stirred, but retained his coolness, as the Yankee sailor does in every emergency.

"Leave this thing to me," he said, "and I think I can study out some better way of settling it."

By this time it had become dark. The men were all below except the anchor watch. There was a kind of locker under the cabin companion-way, which was used sometimes by the steward to store dishes, etc. It was large enough to hold a man, with some squeezing, and was covered by one of the stair boards. The Dartmoor cells were more roomy, but less comfortable.

Hathaway quickly formed his plan and unfolded it to O'Reilly. It was for the latter to walk aft with a small grindstone, which happened to be at hand, lean over the rail, and, at the first favorable opportunity, throw the grindstone and his hat overboard, then slipping down the companion-way take refuge in the locker.

Hathaway went forward and engaged the watch in talk, standing so as to obstruct the view of O'Reilly, at the same time that he gave the watch instructions to keep a sharp eye on the latter, who, he said, was desperate, and might try to do away with himself; "for," he continued, "he tried to kill himself in Australia, before we took him off."

  1. It may be worth noting here, that, in writing his "Moondyne," O'Reilly gave the name of Bowman to the villain of the story, even as he remembered his generous friends, the Maguires, by name in the same book.