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  ― 153 ―

IX.

For, of course, the System meritoriously hanged Convict Freeman after trial in Sydney; but do what Convict Hansen could by way of impressive appeal to C. J. Sir Francis Forbes to treat him, Hansen, not as a witness but as an accessory before the fact, it declined to hang him.

“Harry Hansen's a-committin' perjury, y' Honour,” said the accused, “when he says as he suggested the doin' o' Dick. He speaks truth, though, when he says as he was witness. I wanted him to be witness.”

“Why?” shuddered the C.J.

“Because, y'r Honour, I wanted people in the Old Town here to know as a sick lag like Harry there can't get the croaker's 'tendance at Norfolk. I put it to y'r Honour, ain't he sick? an' the Com'dant says he was shammin' Abra'm.”

And the Court looked at the consumptive ruffian, and in its judicial mind gave him a week longer to live than Freeman. And Freeman would “suffer” on Monday week, and this was Wednesday.

But the Court was wrong.

On the Friday before his Monday, Freeman, staring out of one of the dozen fully occupied


  ― 154 ―
condemned cells, saw two of the prisoner-wardsmen attached to the gaol-hospital bearing a grey-sheeted form into the corridor. They stopped before his cell. “Are yer Norfo'k Freeman?” questioned the front bearer.

“Yes! That Harry?”

“This is Hansen. Gov'nor ses as 'ow 'e thort yer'd like ter see th' larst of 'im.” And he turned down the sheet, so that the pinched, peaked features were visible.

“So, Harry,” said the condemned, “you've got home first, have you? Well, 'tis kind of the 'thorities to let me see you. The fun of it is, though, that they're always so dev'lish kind when 'tis too late.”

As we have no fancy for attempting the impossible, we shall not try and demonstrate that Condemned Convict Freeman was in error in that last remark.

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