Maconochie lost, in the next moment, his composure. He thrust his watch into the hand of the soldier escorting the lady, and in the same action seized the man's musket.

“In four minutes—four minutes and a half—call ‘Time!’” he exclaimed, while he himself cocked the musket—and waited. So strained was his hearing to catch any sound from the room, that though but

  ― 19 ―
five yards distant from the group of officers, he did not hear Mr. Commissary Shanks say—

“Well—I'm damned! Maconochie's just offering a bounty for crime!”

He did not hear that, or indeed aught else, till the soldier cried, “Time!” loudly. Then he started forward, but the appearance of his wife on the step momentarily arrested his rush. With the musket still in his hand, he ran to meet her. She motioned with her head. Through the doorway he saw—and heard—Tracey. The transport lay huddled, his head on the floor, his arms outstretched in the abandon of despair—or, remorse. And he was sobbing tearless sobs.

Not all at once did Tracey, after that supreme instance of trust, come back to the path of well-doing. His fight, however, against his past was strenuous.

It was in February that Captain Maconochie trusted him. And till the 23rd October of the year following, he kept almost a clear record. “View” sentences had ceased entirely, and to the extreme disgust of the gentlemen possessing a more extensive acquaintance with the System than Captain Maconochie, Mr. Tobias Tracey declined to preserve by frequent attendances

  ― 20 ―
at court his average of “offences needing formal trial.”

Mr. D. A. C. G. Shanks, on 23rd October, applied to the Superintendent for a trusty man to handle some stores.

And Mr. D. A. C. G. Shanks, being in an unbending, not to say affable mood, condescended to pass a pleasant word with the trusty man commissioned by the Super. to wait upon his Commissaryship.

“You're Tracey?”

“Yes, sir!” with a salute.

Mr. Shanks laughed. “You're the man the Super. trusted the day after he took charge—trusted his wife with?”

There was a conscious pride in Tracey's voice as he replied, “He did, sir!”

“Why, you donkey, he held a cocked musket in his hands all the time! Fine lot of trust in that, wasn't there?”

Convict Tracey was stunned. “Are yer a-speakin' o' th' truth, sir?”

With a brutal oath, Mr. Deputy-Assistant-Commissary-General Shanks affirmed he was.

That same evening Tracey broke into Mrs. Whologhan's store with a crowbar.