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hundred fathoms below the surface, yet the
penetration of the rays of the sun are necessary
to its increase.


TEN or twelve years ago, there was, in the
prison at Brest, a man sentenced for life to
the galleys. I do not know the exact nature of
his crime, but it was something very atrocious.
I never heard, either, what his former condition
of life had been; for even his name had
passed into oblivion, and he was recognised
only by a number. Although his features
were naturally well formed, their expression
was horrible: every dark and evil passion
seemed to have left its impress there; and his
character fully corresponded to its outward
indications. Mutinous, gloomy, and revengeful,
he had often hazarded his life in desperate
attempts to escape, which hitherto had proved
abortive. Once, during winter, he succeeded
in gaining the fields, and supported, for
several days, the extremity of cold and
hunger. He was found, at length, half frozen
and insensible under a tree, and brought back
to prison, where, with difficulty, he was
restored to life. The ward-master watched
him more closely, and punished him more
severely by far, than the other prisoners,
while a double chain was added to his heavy
fetters. Several times he attempted suicide,
but failed, through the vigilance of his guards.
The only results of his experiments in this
line were an asthma, caused by a nail which
he hammered into his chest, and the loss of
an arm, which he fractured in leaping off a
high wall. After suffering amputation, and
a six months' sojourn in the hospital, he
returned to his hopeless life-long task-work.

One day, this man's fierce humour seemed
softened. After the hours of labour, he
seated himself, with the companion in misery
to whom he was chained, in a corner of the
court; and his repulsive countenance assumed
a mild expression. Words of tenderness
were uttered by the lips which heretofore
had opened only to blaspheme; and with his
head bent down, he watched some object
concealed in his bosom.

The guards looked at him with disquietude,
believing he had some weapon hidden within
his clothes; and two of them approaching
him stealthily from behind, seized him
roughly, and began to search him, before he
could make any resistance. Finding himself
completely in their power, the convict
exclaimed: " Oh, don't kill him! Pray, don't
kill him!"

As he spoke, one of the guards had gained
possession of a large rat, which the felon had
kept next his bosom.

"Don't kill him!" he repeated. "Beat
me; chain me; do what you like with me;
but don't hurt my poor rat! Don't squeeze
him so between your fingers! If you will
not give him back to me, let him go free! "—
And while he spoke, for the first time,
probably, since his childhood, tears filled his eyes,
and ran down his cheeks.

Rough and hardened men as were the
guards, they could not listen to the convict,
and see his tears, without some feeling of
compassion. He who was about to strangle
the rat, opened his fingers and let it fall to
the ground. The terrified animal fled with
the speed peculiar to its species, and
disappeared behind a pile of beams and rubbish.

The felon wiped away his tears, looked
anxiously after the rat, and scarcely breathed
until he had seen it out of danger. Then he
rose, and silently, with the old savage look,
followed his companion in bonds, and lay
down with him on their iron bedstead, where
a ring and chain fastened them to a massive
bar of the same metal.

Next morning, on his way to work, the
convict, whose pale face showed that he had
passed a sleepless night, cast an anxious,
troubled glance towards the pile of wood,
and gave a low, peculiar call, to which nothing
replied. One of his comrades uttered some
harmless jest on the loss of his favourite; and
the reply was a furious blow, which felled
the speaker, and drew down on the offender a
severe chastisement from the taskmaster.

Arrived at the place of labour, he worked
with a sort of feverish ardour, as though
trying to give vent to his pent-up emotion;
and, while stooping over a large beam, which
he and some others were trying to raise, he
felt something gently tickle his cheek. He
turned round, and gave a shout of joy. There,
on his shoulder, was the only friend he had in
the worldhis rat!— who, with marvellous
instinct, had found him out, and crept gently
up to his face. He took the animal in his
hands, covered it with kisses, placed it within
his nest, and then, addressing the head gaoler,
who happened to pass by at the moment, he

"Sir, if you will allow me to keep this rat,
I will solemnly promise to submit to you in
everything, and never again to incur

The ruler gave a sign of acquiescence, and
passed on. The convict opened his shirt, to
give one more fond look at his faithful pet,
and then contentedly resumed his labour.

That which neither threats nor imprisonment,
the scourge nor the chain, could effect,
was accomplished, and rapidly, by the influence
of love, though its object was one of the
most despised amongst animals. From the
moment when the formidable convict was
permitted to cherish his pet night and day in
his bosom, he became the most tractable and
well-conducted man in the prison. His
Herculean strength, and his moral energy, were
both employed to assist the governors in
maintaining peace and subordination.
Fine-Ear, so he called his rat, was the object of
his unceasing tenderness. He fed it before
he tasted each meal, and would rather fast

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