Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/227

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189
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

fellow, that you return as speedily as you may to the freedom and independence which this Colony offers you."

Among the warders, opposition disappeared the moment the gold band of the deputy's cap was seen under the Comptroller's foot. Among the convicts, disorder hid its wild head as soon as they realized that the blind system of work without reward had been replaced by one that made every day count for a hope not only of liberty, but independence.

In a word, from that day the Colony ceased to be stagnant and began to progress.

Quite unconsciously he invested "Moondyne," not only with his own mental characteristics, but even with his physical features:

In strength and proportion of body the man was magnificent—a model for a gladiator. He was of middle height, young, but so stern and massively featured, and so browned and beaten by exposure, it was hard to determine his age. A large, finely-shaped head, with crisp, black hair and beard, a broad, square forehead, and an air of power and self-command,—this was the prisoner,—this was Moondyne Joe.

Moondyne, masquerading later on as Mr. Wyville, is still 0'Reilly, in person and dress:

He was dressed in such a way that one would say he never could be dressed otherwise. Dress was forgotten in the man. But he wore a short walking or shooting coat, of strong, dark cloth. The strength and roughness of the cloth were seen, rather than the style, for it seemed appropriate that so strangely powerful a figure should be strongly clad. His face was bronzed to the darkness of a Greek's. His voice, as he spoke on entering the room, came easily from his lips, yet with a deep resonance that was pleasant to hear, suggesting a possible tenderness or terror that would shake the soul. It was a voice in absolutely perfect accord with the striking face and physique.

Finally, Moondyne's prison number was "406," a number to which two or three odd coincidences had given a certain half-superstitious significance. I think it was the number borne by the author in one of his several prisons, but of this I am not sure. O'Reilly spoke of it more than once. It was the number of the room assigned him in the first hotel at which he stopped in America. Ten years later, on