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From The ‘London Times’ of 1904
by [?]

‘Now that you have given your word, my last hope is gone, for I know you will never go back from it. But you have done the best you could for John, and I have no reproaches for you. You love him, and you love me, and we know that if you could honourable save him, you would do it. I will go to him now, and be what help I can to him, and get what comfort I may out of the few days that are left to us before the night comes which will have no end for me in life. You will be with me that day? You will not let me bear it alone?’

‘I will take you to him myself, poor child, and I will be near you to the last.’

By the governor’s command, Clayton was now allowed every indulgence he might ask for which could interest his mind and soften the hardships of his imprisonment. His wife and child spent the days with him; I was his companion by night. He was removed from the narrow cell which he had occupied during such a dreary stretch of time, and given the chief warden’s roomy and comfortable quarters. His mind was always busy with the catastrophe of his life, and with the slaughtered inventor, and he now took the fancy that he would like to have the telelectroscope and divert his mind with it. He had his wish. The connection was made with the international telephone-station, and day by day, and night by night, he called up one corner of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke with its people, and realised that by grace of this marvellous instrument he was almost as free as the birds of the air, although a prisoner under locks and bars. He seldom spoke, and I never interrupted him when he was absorbed in this amusement. I sat in his parlour and read, and smoked, and the nights were very quiet and reposefully sociable, and I found them pleasant. Now and then I would her him say ‘Give me Yedo;’ next, ‘Give me Hong-Kong;’ next, ‘Give me Melbourne.’ And I smoked on, and read in comfort, while he wandered about the remote underworld, where the sun was shining in the sky, and the people were at their daily work. Sometimes the talk that came from those far regions through the microphone attachment interested me, and I listened.

Yesterday–I keep calling it yesterday, which is quite natural, for certain reasons–the instrument remained unused, and that also was natural, for it was the eve of the execution day. It was spent in tears and lamentations and farewells. The governor and the wife and child remained until a quarter-past eleven at night, and the scenes I witnessed were pitiful to see. The execution was to take place at four in the morning. A little after eleven a sound of hammering broke out upon the still night, and there was a glare of light, and the child cried out, ‘What is that, papa?’ and ran to the window before she could be stopped and clapped her small hands and said, ‘Oh, come and see, mamma–such a pretty thing they are making!’ The mother knew–and fainted. It was the gallows!

She was carried away to her lodging, poor woman, and Clayton and I were alone–alone, and thinking, brooding, dreaming. We might have been statues, we sat so motionless and still. It was a wild night, for winter was come again for a moment, after the habit of this region in the early spring. The sky was starless and black, and a strong wind was blowing from the lake. The silence in the room was so deep that all outside sounds seemed exaggerated by contrast with it. These sounds were fitting ones: they harmonised with the situation and the conditions: the boom and thunder of sudden storm-gusts among the roofs and chimneys, then the dying down into moanings and wailings about the eaves and angles; now and then a gnashing and lashing rush of sleet along the window-panes; and always the muffled and uncanny hammering of the gallows-builders in the court-yard. After an age of this, another sound–far off, and coming smothered and faint through the riot of the tempest–a bell tolling twelve! Another age, and it was tolled again. By-and-by, again. A dreary long interval after this, then the spectral sound floated to us once more–one, two three; and this time we caught our breath; sixty minutes of life left!