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the garden outside.

I only awoke when the waiter brought in the first course of my dinner.
He had laid the table without disturbing me, and had put a vase of roses
in the middle and four tall candles at the corners, with rose-coloured
shades.

"I'm sorry I haven't brought my evening clothes," I said, as I took my
seat.

He made no reply to this pleasantry, and his air of high superiority
began to annoy me.

"Do you generally wait upon prisoners in this way?" I asked him, when he
brought in the fish.

"We do in the case of prisoners who look like gentlemen and behave like
pigs," was his surprising reply, which I turned over in my mind before I
said: "This seems a topsy-turvy place altogether, but I should really
like to know how I have behaved like a pig."

"You can wallow in your hoggishness as much as you like," he said
acidly, "but if you have the impudence to address any more remarks to
me, I'll punch your head for you."

I looked round at him, standing attentively behind my chair. He was a
frail man, and looked hungry.

"You might find that two could play at that game," I said, with my eye
on him; and he flushed, but did not flinch.

"Is that a threat?" he asked. "Because if it is - - ;" and he turned as
if to leave the room.

As I didn't know what, in the general reversal of things, might be the
punishment here for threatening to retaliate on a waiter who proposed to
punch one's head, and I wanted to finish my dinner, I said: "If you're
disinclined for conversation you can have your own way."

We went through the rest of the _ménu_ in silence, I enjoying the good
things provided for me, and he serving me with the readiest attention to
the matter in hand. We did not address another word to each other until
he had carefully poured out from its basket-cradle a glass of the
wonderful port.

I sipped it, and thought it just in the very least touched, and told him
so. He took the glass, sniffed at the wine, and tasted it. "It's
absolutely right," he said, "but of course you can have another bottle
if you like."

"Thank you," I said, and began to wonder, rather uneasily, as he was
away fetching it, if in some way I was not to pay pretty dearly for the
remarkable treatment I was undergoing.

The second bottle of port was beyond criticism. When I had expressed my
approval, the waiter put it on a little table by the side of the
extremely easy chair, and indicated, but without saying so, that he
wished to clear away. This he did, in complete silence; but before he
finally left the room came over to where I was standing, and, holding
out half a sovereign, said, still with the same inflection of contempt:
"That's for yourself."

I took the coin in my hand, and said, somewhat after the manner of a
cabman who has been offered twopence for a _pour boire_: "What do you
call this?"

He flushed again, took it back, gave me half a crown instead, and then
left the room.

My evening in prison had so far brought me a dinner such as I seldom
enjoyed, and five shillings in money. Why, but for my last question, it
would have brought me seven and sixpence more, I was quite unable to
imagine.




CHAPTER III


The cigars provided for me, if not of the exact brand as those smoked by
Mr. Perry, were very good, and I had been enjoying one of them for some
little time when I heard the outside door again being unlocked.

"Now," I thought, "I may get some explanation of this extraordinary
state of affairs, and may possibly find myself wishing that my
entertainment had not cost the ratepayers of this town quite so much
money."

But I was in a state of such complete bodily satisfaction that I did not
much care what should happen, and sat still until the door of my room
was opened and a young man dressed in evening clothes came in.

He seemed to be under the influence of some agitation, and as the reek
of my cigar met his nostrils, and his eyes fell upon my bottle of port
resting in its cradle, his jaw dropped.

He raised his eyes to mine, and said: "I have come to make an appeal to
you, sir."

"Well, sit down and make it," I said, indicating a chair. "Will you have
a glass of wine - I can recommend it - or a cigar?"

He looked at me sternly. "I have brought myself to come and ask a
favour of you," he said. "You look like a gentleman; you can at least
try to behave as such."

I was in that comfortable state in which the idiosyncrasies of other
people occasion one more amusement than surprise. I was also a little
inclined to loquacity. I smiled at him.

"I don't pretend to understand you," I said; "but I am glad you think I
look like a gentleman. I am one. My great-grandfather ruined himself at
Crockford's, and although one of my great-uncles set up a shop, he never
sold anything, and died poor. I am poor myself, but none the less
deserving."

His face brightened a little. "I _thought_ you were a gentleman," he
said, "in spite of your behaviour. So am I, and of course my father too,
although you might not think it from our appearance. Possibly you are
engaged in the same good work as we are."

"I am not engaged in any good work at present," I said, "except that of
making myself as comfortable as circumstances will permit. As for you, I
think you look very gentlemanlike; I don't think I have had the pleasure
of meeting your father."

"He is Mr. Perry," he said, "who tried his utmost to save you from the
results of your jest - I don't believe it meant more than that - with Lord
Potter. As far as my father was concerned it was an unfortunate jest;
and I might say the same as far as you are concerned, to judge from your
present serious situation. In spite of his noble and self-sacrificing
life, my father is misunderstood by a good many people; and Lord Potter,
for one, would like to see his career of usefulness stopped. Now he has
a handle against him. He is to be called as a witness when you come up
before the magistrate to-morrow morning; and it rests with you whether
that kind and good old man, whose life is a lesson to us all, shall be
arrested himself and suffer the disgrace of a criminal trial. Surely you
cannot be so lost to all sense of gratitude as to bring that about!"

I did not know in the least what he was talking about. His ideas seemed
to be as topsy-turvy as those of the rest of the people I had so far met
in this curious place. But I was in too lazy a mood to make much effort
to get at the bottom of all that was puzzling me.

"I should hate to get your father into trouble," I said. "I don't
understand why a prosperous-looking elderly gentleman should pinch my
watch and demand all my cash; but I dare say he did it all for the best,
and as he didn't get anything, I am prepared to be lenient with him.
I'll do what I can."

He thanked me profusely. "You have only to stand on your dignity and
refuse to answer questions, and they can prove nothing against him," he
said.

"All right! Anything to oblige. You might tell me what all this means,
though; and to begin with, what town this is; for I haven't the
slightest idea where I am."

At this quite ordinary question, he seemed to be even more puzzled than
I was. "I can't understand you," he said, and it was plain by the
expression on his face that he spoke the truth. "Where do you come
from?"

"I come from a little place called London," I said. "I don't know
whether you have ever heard of it."

"No, never," he replied. "What part of the country is it in?"

"Do you ever happen to have heard of England?" I asked; and again he
said: "No, never."

"Well, what country are we in now?" I asked, willing to humour him.

"Why, in Upsidonia, of course."

"In what?"

"Upsidonia. Look here, I'm not what I seem to be. Surely you can tell
that from the way I speak! Stop trying to play with me, and explain
yourself."

"Tell me first what town this is."

"Culbut."

He said it in much the same tone as I might have answered "Manchester"
or "Birmingham," to anyone who should have asked me the same question in
either of those cities - with a look of surprise and enquiry.

"Oh, Culbut!" I said. "Yes, of course. And Culbut is in Upsidonia. I
see. Well, in London, England, where I come from, they don't lock a
person up for offering sixpence to a tramp, even when the tramp turns
out to be a lord; and if they do lock them up, it isn't in a place like
this."

He looked round the cosy little room with some disgust.

"It is disgraceful," he said. "My father ought to know about it. I
didn't know there were any such places left. You've a perfect right to
make trouble about this. It is a clear case for the Prisoners' Aid
Society, and I'm sure, if you act properly, as you promised to, for my
father, he will take up the case."

"Thanks very much," I said. "I have no particular complaint to make. The
manners and customs of - what's the name of the place? - Culbut - are
different from those I've been accustomed to, but they don't seem to be
entirely objectionable. Can you tell me what they will do, by the by,
supposing I am found guilty of the charge brought against me - whatever
it is - to-morrow!"

"Oh, we'll try and get you off. Your appearance is in your favour."

"Thank you. But tell me what they will do if I _am_ found guilty."

"Well, there has been a good deal of it lately, and the police are
determined to stamp it out. And Potter is rather high game to fly at,
you must admit. He is determined to get you a month, which is the limit
without bodily assault."

"Oh, a month!" I said, somewhat taken aback. "With hard labour?"

"I think we ought to be able to manage that. We'll try our best."

"That is very good of you indeed; but I shouldn't like you to put
yourselves out at all."

"I'll tell you what," he said, with a laugh, "we will tell them that in
the country you come from it isn't a crime to give your money away.
Could you remember to stick to that story?"

"I dare say I might," I said, "if I tie a knot in my handkerchief. By
the way, isn't it a crime here to take money from people, and watches,
and so on?"

"A crime! Of course not. We should call that philanthropy."

"Oh, I see. Then your father is a philanthropist."

"Of course he is; one of the best known in Culbut. You don't really
suppose he is the rich man he appears to be, do you?"

"I should have thought he might be fairly well off, if he has been
practising philanthropy for any length of time."

"For a lifetime," he said reverentially. "I will tell you my father's
story."

"Do!" I encouraged him. "I should like to hear it."

I lit another cigar. He cleared his throat and began.




CHAPTER IV


"Our family," said young Perry, "has held a good position in Culbut for
many generations. My great-grandfather is said to have come here as a
boy with ten thousand pounds in his pocket; but by diligence and
sobriety he managed to get rid of nearly all of it while he was still a
young man."

"How did he do it?" I asked.

"He got into the warehouse of a poor cloth-merchant. He stuck to his
work night and day, and lost his employers so much money, that they took
him into partnership when he was only twenty-one. Then he redoubled his
efforts, bought in the dearest markets and sold in the cheapest, and
decreased the trade of the firm by leaps and bounds. He married his
master's daughter, and she brought him a considerable number of debts.
Before he was thirty he had retired from business a very poor man, and
spent the rest of his life serving his fellow citizens. He was Lord
Mayor of Culbut three times, and was offered a baronetcy, which he
refused.

"My great-grandfather and my grandfather were both poor men, and my
father was brought up in the lap of indigence. But when he was quite a
boy, he saw a sight that affected his whole life.

"He was walking along the poor street in which he lived, when he saw a
carriage with four horses and postillions coming along. In it was seated
a miserably rich-looking old man swathed in furs, who was being taken
off to prison. My father hung on to the back of the carriage - he was but
a child - and was carried inside the prison gates. There he saw the
treatment that was then considered good enough for rich malefactors.
They drove through a large garden to a fine-looking house, and when the
carriage stopped at the door a groom of the chambers came out, followed
by two footmen in powdered wigs and silk stockings. The wretched
creature was taken inside, and before he went away my father learnt that
he would be treated with every refinement of luxury. And what do you
think his crime was?"

"I haven't the least idea," I replied. "Probably making somebody a
present of a fortune."

"No. His crime was that he had thrown a pot of caviare into a provision
shop."

"And you're not allowed to do that here?"

"You must remember that he was an old man, in the last stages of
opulence, and actually surfeited with food. As my father went back to
his happy home, which had always lacked all but the barest necessities
of life, the contrast between his lot and that of this unfortunate
creature, bred from his earliest years to the burdens of wealth, took
strong hold of his youthful imagination. Then and there he vowed his
life to the service of the unhappy rich, and especially to the
alleviation of the lot of prisoners; and nothing ever turned him from
his purpose. When he grew up, he left home, much against the wishes of
his parents, and went to live in one of the richest parts of the town,
so as to get to know the wealthy thoroughly, and to be able to help them
when the time came for him to do so. He even took their money, and, so
far as a man of education could, became like them. Of course, there are
many who follow in his footsteps now, but most of them live in
settlements, and only come into actual contact with the people they are
trying to help by going in and out amongst them in their own homes. But
he was the first; and he really lived with them, in a house with twenty
bedrooms, luxuriously furnished, and with a _chef_ and a great many
servants. I believe he did actually nothing for himself for two whole
years, and, of course, he broke down under the strain."

"Poor fellow!" I murmured sympathetically.

"He went back for a time to the life of poverty in which he had been
brought up. But even then, he refused to live like the rest of his
family, and, as far as his enfeebled state of health would permit,
practised secret indulgences, and never lost sight of his great purpose
in life.

"He made a convert of my mother, who was the daughter of a
farm-labourer, and of one of the proudest and poorest families in
Upsidonia. They started their married life in a comfortable villa, with
four indoor servants and two out - my father could not, of course, expect
his young wife to take the extreme plunge that he had himself - and he
has told me that she acted like a heroine, and never grumbled at the
life of strict affluence they laid down for themselves. I was born in
that house, and it was my mother's own wish that we then moved to a
larger one, where we have lived ever since. We have all been brought up
to think nothing of wealth, and each of us in our several ways does his
or her utmost to help our parents in their noble work. My eldest sister
has even married a stockbroker, and a very good fellow he is, and it is
wonderful how he has overcome the defects of his upbringing.

"Well, I have been talking for a long time; but I wanted to show you how
dreadful it would be if a man like my father should suffer disgrace for
committing an error which only arose from his eager desire to serve one
whom he saw to be in an unfortunate position."

"Oh, you need not fear anything of that sort after what you have told
me," I assured him. "I would rather go to prison myself - even such a
prison as I am in now - than that he should."

"It is very good of you indeed to say so," he said gratefully. "But you
need have no fear of this sort of prison. My father would exert his
influence to have you sent to Pankhurst, where, chiefly by his efforts,
everything is as it should be, and a real attempt is made to raise
prisoners. Even in the first division, you would be permitted to do
something useful, such as breaking stones, and you would not be expected
to eat more than two meals a day, and those quite meagre ones."

"Well, to tell you the truth," I said, "one of my hobbies is to study
conditions of prison life in the various countries I visit. I am very
glad to have had the opportunity of judging for myself in this way, and
though I don't want to go to prison myself any longer, if it can be
avoided, you would be conferring a real benefit upon me if you could get
me sent to the most luxurious penal establishment you possess, supposing
I am found guilty."

"Do you really mean that?" he asked.

"Yes, I really do. I know it must seem odd to you, but I am like that."

He rose and shook hands with me. "I can't tell you how I admire your
spirit," he said.

I drank half a glass of port and rose to still greater heights of
self-abnegation. I was anxious to show myself worthy of his praise. "As
long as I remain in Upsidonia," I said, "I should like to live entirely
amongst the very rich, and just as if I were rich myself. Could you
manage that for me, do you think, in return for what I am going to do
for your father?"

He laughed. "If you really mean it," he said, "there won't be the
slightest difficulty. And we are the right people to help you. They
might not show themselves as they really are to a stranger, for they
stick to one another wonderfully, and the more respectable among them
hide their riches as much as possible. Some of the tragedies of wealth
one comes across are heart-breaking. But I mustn't begin on that
subject, or I should never end. If you can see your way to relieving a
few of the rich in Culbut of a little of their load of misery, you will
be doing a great work."

"I shall quite hope to be able to do that," I said. "I might be able to
take away a considerable sum of money."

Again he shook hands with me, but his emotion did not permit of much
speech. "You will have your reward," he said simply.

"I quite hope so," I replied. "What, must you be going? Are you sure you
won't take - I mean are you sure you are quite wrapped up enough? The
night air is a little chilly."

"Thank you, I shall walk home," he said. "Well, I am very much obliged
to you for what you have promised to do. We shan't forget it, and
anything we can do for you in return, as long as you remain in
Upsidonia, you may be sure we _shall_ do."




CHAPTER V


They seemed to keep early hours in Upsidonia.[1] A cup of tea was
brought to me at half-past seven, and I was told that I must breakfast
not later than a quarter-past eight, for the court sat at nine.

It was not unlike what a police court in London might have been, but the
magistrate sat in his shirt-sleeves, for it was a hot day, and wore
corduroy trousers. There was a crowd of well-dressed loafers at the back
of the court, and amongst them some richly attired women. Lord Potter,
looking as if he had not washed or taken off his clothes since the day
before, occupied a seat on the bench. Mr. Perry and his son were in the
well of the court.

I gave my name, which I had withheld the night before, as John Howard,
but refused to say where I came from or what my occupation was.
Apparently, this was not unusual, for I was not pressed in any way.[2]

The policeman who had arrested me deposed that from information received
he had proceeded to a certain place and taken me into custody, not
without difficulty, for I had shown violence and had tried to get him to
arrest another person instead.

Asked whether he saw that person in that court, he indicated Mr. Perry,
who looked very uncomfortable, and I said at once: "That was all a
mistake, your worship. I had been fast asleep, and hardly knew what I
was doing. I mistook that gentleman for somebody else."

My interruption rather scandalised the court, but I managed to get it
out before I was stopped, and I could see that the magistrate was
relieved at my having spoken.

"There is no charge against our respected fellow-townsman," he said,
bowing towards Mr. Perry; and there were murmurs of approbation from the
back of the court.

Lord Potter looked black. "The prisoner accused him of taking away his
watch," he said, "and trying to get his money. Of course, if nothing had
been found on the prisoner the charge would have fallen through. It is
quite evident that Mr. Perry wanted to make it appear that I was lying
when I said that this man had tried to press money on me."[3]

He spoke with great indignation, but the magistrate said firmly: "There
is no charge against Mr. Perry," and added: "He could not have taken
away the prisoner's watch, because it was found on him when he came to
the police station, and his money too. He would hardly have taken it
back, if someone had been kind enough to relieve him of it, would he?"

This was said with a smile to Lord Potter, who grunted angrily, but said
no more until he was asked to tell his story, which he did quite
truthfully, except that he gave the impression of my having acted
violently towards him, and pressed money on him with threats.

Then I was asked if I had anything to say in my defence.

I said that the whole episode had been an ill-timed joke, which I now
much regretted. I cross-examined Lord Potter as to his implication of
violence, and made him admit that I had used none, and threatened none.

"And didn't I tell you I was almost as poor as you were?" I asked.

This he also admitted. I treated him with somewhat exaggerated respect,
and ended up by saying that I acknowledged it was a foolish prank to
play on a man of his eminence, and that, whatever the result of the
charge, I begged to apologise for it. This softened him a little, though
not much, but when the magistrate and his clerk had conferred with him
in whispers, he seemed to give way, and the magistrate then turned to me
and addressed me thus:

"John Howard, although you have refused to give any information about
yourself, it is evident from your general appearance that you are a
young man of good if not exalted station. But you must not go away with
the impression that there is one law for the poor and another for the
rich here. It is not on account of your appearance of poverty that I
shall deal leniently with you. I believe that you have committed this
gross offence against a distinguished man out of mere youthful folly and
bravado, and you may consider yourself fortunate that I have decided not
to send you to prison for it. You have been confined for the night in
surroundings that have probably caused you considerable distress, and I
have taken that into account. I shall fine you ten pounds, with the
option of a month's imprisonment, and let this be a lesson to you to
leave off playing practical jokes that are likely to bring you within
the reach of the law. Next case."

I left the dock in some perturbation, for I had not got ten pounds on
me. But I was immediately led to the clerk's table, and he said in a
business-like way: "Sign that, please," and handed me a little pile of
sovereigns and a form of receipt.

I signed the receipt and put the money into my pocket, and was now free.
Mr. Perry and his son joined me, and wringing me warmly by the hand led
me out into the open air. They were both dressed in shabby suits, I
suppose out of respect to the court, and, although the young man did not
look any the worse, I thought that his father seemed more of an oily old
humbug than before.

But there seemed to be no doubt about the reality of his gratitude to
me, and his son was equally cordial. They both pressed me to come at
once to their house, and to stay as long as I could.

"If you can put up with our way of living," said Mr. Perry, "which is
the reverse of simple, we shall be very pleased indeed to have you so
long as you care to stay. Or, if you are afraid of luxury, as so many
young men are nowadays, we could recommend you to an hotel where you
could be as uncomfortable as you please, and we will still do all we can
to help you in your social studies, which, I am glad to hear from my
son, you are anxious to pursue."

"If you will be good enough to put me up," I said, "nothing could suit
me better; and as for luxury, I assure you I shan't grumble at anything.
As I told your son, I should like to pass as a rich man as long as I
stay here."

This reply pleased Mr. Perry, and he proposed that we should go to his


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