Charles Dickens

The look-out was kept, long after all was still

again and the two steamers were gone; but, everybody knew that it

was hopeless now.

At length we gave it up, and pulled under the shore towards the

tavern we had lately left, where we were received with no little

surprise. Here, I was able to get some comforts for Magwitch -

Provis no longer - who had received some very severe injury in the

chest and a deep cut in the head.

He told me that he believed himself to have gone under the keel of

the steamer, and to have been struck on the head in rising. The

injury to his chest (which rendered his breathing extremely

painful) he thought he had received against the side of the galley.

He added that he did not pretend to say what he might or might not

have done to Compeyson, but, that in the moment of his laying his

hand on his cloak to identify him, that villain had staggered up

and staggered back, and they had both gone overboard together; when

the sudden wrenching of him (Magwitch) out of our boat, and the

endeavour of his captor to keep him in it, had capsized us. He told

me in a whisper that they had gone down, fiercely locked in each

other's arms, and that there had been a struggle under water, and

that he had disengaged himself, struck out, and swum away.

I never had any reason to doubt the exact truth of what he thus

told me. The officer who steered the galley gave the same account

of their going overboard.

When I asked this officer's permission to change the prisoner's wet

clothes by purchasing any spare garments I could get at the

public-house, he gave it readily: merely observing that he must

take charge of everything his prisoner had about him. So the

pocketbook which had once been in my hands, passed into the

officer's. He further gave me leave to accompany the prisoner to

London; but, declined to accord that grace to my two friends.

The Jack at the Ship was instructed where the drowned man had gone

down, and undertook to search for the body in the places where it

was likeliest to come ashore. His interest in its recovery seemed

to me to be much heightened when he heard that it had stockings on.

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 lived.

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 had 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.