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Probably, it took about a dozen drowned men to
fit him out completely; and that may have been
the reason why the different articles of his dress
were in various stages of decay.

We remained at the public-house until the
tide turned, and then Magwitch was carried
down to the galley and put on board. Herbert
and Startop were to get to London by land, as
soon as they could. We had a doleful parting,
and when I took my place by Magwitch's side,
I felt that that was my place henceforth while he

For now, my repugnance to him had all
melted away, and in the hunted wounded
shackled creature who held my hand in his, I
only saw a man who had meant to be my
benefactor, and who had felt affectionately,
gratefully, and generously, towards me with great
constancy through a series of years. I only
saw in him a much better man than I had been
to Joe.

His breathing became more difficult and
painful as the night drew on, and often he could
not repress a groan. I tried to rest him on the
arm I could use, in any easy position; but it
was dreadful to think that I could not be sorry
at heart for his being badly hurt, since it was
unquestionably best that he should die. That
there were, still living, people enough who were
able and willing to identify him, I could not
doubt. That he would be leniently treated,
I could not hope. He who had been presented
in the worst light at his trial, who had since
broken prison and been tried again, who had
returned from transportation under a life
sentence, and who had occasioned the death of the
man who was the cause of his arrest.

As we returned towards the setting sun we
had yesterday left behind us, and as the stream
of our hopes seemed all running back, I told
him how grieved I was to think that he had
come home for my sake.

"Dear boy," he answered, "I'm quite
content to take my chance. I've seen my boy, and
he can be a gentleman without me."

No. I had thought about that, while we had
been there side by side. No. Apart from any
inclinations of my own, I understand Wemmick's
hint now. I foresaw that, being convicted,
his possessions would be forfeited to the

"Lookee here, dear boy," said he. "It's
best as a gentleman should not be knowed to
belong to me now. Only come to see me as if
you come by chance alonger Wemmick. Sit
where I can see you when I am swore to, for
the last o' many times, and I don't ask no

"I will never stir from your side," said I,
"when I am suffered to be near you. Please God,
I will be as true to you, as you have been to

I felt his hand tremble as it held mine, and he
turned his face away as he lay in the bottom of
the boat, and I heard that old sound in his
throatsoftened now, like all the rest of him.
It was a good thing that he had touched this
point, for it put into my mind what I might not
otherwise have thought of until too late: That
he need never know how his hopes of enriching
me had perished.


Yes; hear him by all means. He has a grievance
to complain of; he has borne his injuries
with remarkable patience; he is a servant of the
public, whose accurate performance of his duties
is of daily and hourly importance to all of us;
and he now asks us civilly for a five minutes'
hearing. Let us grant his request. If we must
drive somebody into a corner, don't let it be the
postman, for he works hard, and we should all
feel some interest in him.

What does he want? What we all wanta
little more money.

How much does he get now? He begins at
eighteen or nineteen shillings a week; he may
rise in the course of years, if he is lucky, to
twenty-six shillings a week; and, if he has not
walked himself off his legs, or starved himself
in trying to provide for his wife and children
on his existing salary, he may make his fortune,
when he is an old man, by getting thirty shillings
a week. The promotions through which he
derives these rates of increase, are regulated purely
by seniority; so that he may have to waitand
is in many cases now hopelessly waitinguntil
hundreds of older men die or leave the service,
before he can even get his six-and-twenty
shillings. As for the thirty shillings which reward
the venerable struggles of the patriarch-postman,
that distant competence lies, in the vast
majority of cases, altogether beyond his horizon
the less he wastes his present time in looking
after it, the better.

So much for the past. Now, what does he
want for the future?

He wants a scale of wages which begins at
twenty-three shillings and ends at forty shillings
a week. He will undertake to spend fifteen
years of his life in delivering your letters, before
he gets that maximum sum. And he asks,
plainly and respectfully, what you think of his
demand. Considering the serious responsibilities
which you commit to his pair of hands every
day of your life, is forty shillings a week too
much for him, after he has served you honestly
for fifteen years?

Before we answer the question, perhaps we
ought to hear what the Authorities have to say
to it? By all means. Don't let the postmen have
it all their own way. Hear the Authorities.

"You are dissatisfied with your present wages,
my man? Just so! Now, this is an official
matter. You must memorialise. First, try the
Controller of the Circulation Department.
Secondly, if you are not satisfied with him, try
the Postmaster-General. Thirdly, if you are
not satisfied with the Postmaster-Generalwait
till you are; for, beyond him, you go no further.
If you venture to say one word about your
grievances in the hearing of the public who employ
you; if your official senses leave you altogether;