My Friend the Murderer
by A. Conan Doyle
"Number 43 is no better, Doctor," said the head-warder
in a slightly reproachful accent, looking in
round the corner of my door.
"Confound 43!" I responded from behind the
pages of the Australian Sketcher.
"And 61 says his tubes are paining him. Couldn't
you do anything for him?"
"He's a walking drug shop," said I. "He has
the whole British pharmacopœia inside him. I
believe his tubes are as sound as yours are."
"Then there's 7 and 108, they are chronic,"
continued the warder, glancing down a blue slip of
paper. "And 28 knocked off work yesterday—said
lifting things gave him a stitch in the side. I
want you to have a look at him, if you don't mind,
Doctor. There's 31, too—him that killed John
Adamson in the Corinthian brig—he's been carrying
on awful in the night, shrieking and yelling,
he has, and no stopping him neither."
"All right, I'll have a look at him afterwards,"
I said, tossing my paper carelessly aside, and pouring
myself out a cup of coffee. "Nothing else to
report, I suppose, warder?"
The official protruded his head a little further
into the room. "Beg pardon, Doctor," he said,
in a confidential tone, "but I notice as 82 has a
bit of a cold, and it would be a good excuse for
you to visit him and have a chat, maybe."
The cup of coffee was arrested half-way to my
lips as I stared in amazement at the man's serious
"An excuse?" I said. "An excuse? What
the deuce are you talking about, McPherson?
You see me trudging about all day at my practice,
when I'm not looking after the prisoners, and
coming back every night as tired as a dog, and
you talk about finding an excuse for doing more
"You'd like it, Doctor," said Warder McPherson,
insinuating one of his shoulders into the room.
"That man's story's worth listening to if you could
get him to tell it, though he's not what you'd call
free in his speech. Maybe you don't know who
"No, I don't, and I don't care either," I answered,
in the conviction that some local ruffian was about
to be foisted upon me as a celebrity.
"He's Maloney," said the warder, "him that
turned Queen's evidence after the murders at
"You don't say so?" I ejaculated, laying down
my cup in astonishment. I had heard of this
ghastly series of murders, and read an account
of them in a London magazine long before setting
foot in the colony. I remembered that the
atrocities committed had thrown the Burke and
Hare crimes completely into the shade, and that
one of the most villainous of the gang had saved
his own skin by betraying his companions. "Are
you sure?" I asked.
"Oh yes, it's him right enough. Just you draw
him out a bit, and he'll astonish you. He's a man
to know, is Maloney; that's to say, in moderation;"
and the head grinned, bobbed, and disappeared,
leaving me to finish my breakfast and ruminate
over what I had heard.
The surgeonship of an Australian prison is not
an enviable position. It may be endurable in Melbourne
or Sydney, but the little town of Perth has
few attractions to recommend it, and those few
had been long exhausted. The climate was detestable,
and the society far from congenial.
Sheep and cattle were the staple support of
the community; and their prices, breeding, and
diseases the principal topic of conversation. Now
as I, being an outsider, possessed neither the one
nor the other, and was utterly callous to the new
"dip" and the "rot" and other kindred topics, I
found myself in a state of mental isolation, and
was ready to hail anything which might relieve
the monotony of my existence. Maloney, the
murderer, had at least some distinctiveness and
individuality in his character, and might act as a
tonic to a mind sick of the commonplaces of
existence. I determined that I should follow the
warder's advice, and take the excuse for making
his acquaintance. When, therefore, I went upon
my usual matutinal round, I turned the lock of
the door which bore the convict's number upon
it, and walked into the cell.
The man was lying in a heap upon his rough
bed as I entered, but, uncoiling his long limbs, he
started up and stared at me with an insolent look
of defiance on his face which augured badly for
our interview. He had a pale set face, with sandy
hair and a steelly-blue eye, with something feline
in its expression. His frame was tall and muscular,
though there was a curious bend in his
shoulders, which almost amounted to a deformity.
An ordinary observer meeting him in the street
might have put him down as a well-developed
man, fairly handsome, and of studious habits—even
in the hideous uniform of the rottenest convict
establishment he imparted a certain refinement
to his carriage which marked him out among
the inferior ruffians around him.
"I'm not on the sick-list," he said gruffly.
There was something in the hard, rasping voice
which dispelled all softer allusions, and made me
realise that I was face to face with the man of
the Lena Valley and Bluemansdyke, the bloodiest
bushranger that ever stuck up a farm or cut the
throats of its occupants.
"I know you're not," I answered. "Warder
McPherson told me you had a cold, though, and I
thought I'd look in and see you."
"Blast Warder McPherson, and blast you, too!"
yelled the convict, in a paroxysm of rage. "Oh,
that's right," he added, in a quieter voice; "hurry
away; report me to the governor, do! Get me
another six months or so—that's your game."
"I'm not going to report you," I said.
"Eight square feet of ground," he went on,
disregarding my protest, and evidently working
himself into a fury again. "Eight square feet,
and I can't have that without being talked to and
stared at, and—oh, blast the whole crew of you!"
and he raised his two clenched hands above his
head and shook them in passionate invective.
"You've got a curious idea of hospitality," I
remarked, determined not to lose my temper, and
saying almost the first thing that came to my
To my surprise the words had an extraordinary
effect upon him. He seemed completely staggered
at my assuming the proposition for which he had
been so fiercely contending—namely, that the room
in which we stood was his own.
"I beg your pardon," he said; "I didn't mean
to be rude. Won't you take a seat?" and he motioned
towards a rough trestle, which formed the
headpiece of his couch.
I sat down rather astonished at the sudden
change. I don't know that I liked Maloney better
under his new aspect. The murderer had, it is true,
disappeared for the nonce, but there was something
in the smooth tones and obsequious manner
which powerfully suggested the witness of the
Queen, who had stood up and sworn away the
lives of his companions in crime.
"How's your chest?" I asked, putting on my
"Come, drop it, Doctor, drop it!" he answered,
showing a row of white teeth as he resumed his
seat upon the side of the bed. "It wasn't anxiety
after my precious health that brought you along
here; that story won't wash at all. You came to
have a look at Wolf Tone Maloney, forger, murderer,
Sydney-slider, ranger, and Government
peach. That's about my figure, ain't it? There
it is, plain and straight; there's nothing mean
He paused as if he expected me to say something;
but as I remained silent, he repeated once
or twice, "There's nothing mean about me."
"And why shouldn't I?" he suddenly yelled,
his eyes gleaming and his whole satanic nature
reasserting itself. "We were bound to swing, one
and all, and they were none the worse if I saved
myself by turning against them. Every man for
himself, say I, and the devil take the luckiest.
You haven't a plug of tobacco, Doctor, have you?"
He tore at the piece of "Barrett's" which I
handed him as ravenously as a wild beast. It
seemed to have the effect of soothing his nerves,
for he settled himself down in the bed, and
reassumed his former deprecating manner.
"You wouldn't like it yourself, you know, Doctor,"
he said; "it's enough to make any man a little
queer in his temper. I'm in for six months this
time for assault, and very sorry I shall be to go
out again, I can tell you. My mind's at ease in
here; but when I'm outside, what with the Government,
and what with Tattooed Tom of Hawkesbury,
there's no chance of a quiet life."
"Who is he?" I asked.
"He's the brother of John Grimthorpe; the
same that was condemned on my evidence, and an
infernal scamp he was too! Spawn of the devil,
both of them! This tattooed one is a murderous
ruffian, and he swore to have my blood after that
trial. It's seven year ago, and he's following me
yet; I know he is, though he lies low and keeps
dark. He came up to me in Ballarat in '75; you
can see on the back of my hand here where the
bullet clipped me. He tried again in '76, at Port
Philip, but I got the drop on him and wounded
him badly. He knifed me in '79 though, in a bar
at Adelaide, and that made our account about level.
He's loafing round again now, and he'll let daylight
into me—unless—unless by some extraordinary
chance some one does as much for him." And
Maloney gave a very ugly smile.
"I don't complain of him so much," he continued.
"Looking at it in his way, no doubt it
is a sort of family matter that can hardly be
neglected. It's the Government that fetches me.
When I think of what I've done for this country,
and then of what this country has done for me,
it makes me fairly wild—clean drives me off my
head. There's no gratitude nor common decency
He brooded over his wrongs for a few minutes,
and then proceeded to lay them before me in
"Here's nine men," he said, "they've been
murdering and killing for a matter of three years,
and maybe a life a week wouldn't more than average
the work that they've done. The Government
catches them and the Government tries them,
but they can't convict; and why?—because
the witnesses have all had their throats cut, and
the whole job's been very neatly done. What
happens then? Up comes a citizen called Wolf
Tone Maloney; he says, 'The country needs me,
and here I am.' And with that he gives his
evidence, convicts the lot, and enables the beaks to
hang them. That's what I did. There's nothing
mean about me! And now what does the country
do in return? Dogs me, sir, spies on me, watches
me night and day, turns against the very man that
worked so hard for it. There's something mean
about that, anyway. I didn't expect them to
knight me, nor to make me Colonial Secretary;
but, damn it, I did expect that they would let me
"Well," I remonstrated, "if you choose to break
laws and assault people, you can't expect it to be
looked over on account of former services."
"I don't refer to my present imprisonment, sir,"
said Maloney, with dignity. "It's the life I've
been leading since that cursed trial that takes the
soul out of me. Just you sit there on that trestle,
and I'll tell you all about it; and then look me in
the face and tell me that I've been treated fair by
I shall endeavour to transcribe the experiences
of the convict in his own words, as far as I can
remember them, preserving his curious perversions
of right and wrong. I can answer for the truth of
his facts, whatever may be said for his deductions
from them. Months afterwards, Inspector H. W.
Hann, formerly governor of the gaol at Dunedin,
showed me entries in his ledger which corroborated
every statement. Maloney reeled the story off in
a dull, monotonous voice, with his head sunk upon
his breast and his hands between his knees. The
glitter of his serpent-like eyes was the only sign of
the emotions which were stirred up by the recollection
of the events which he narrated.
You've read of Bluemansdyke (he began, with
some pride in his tone). We made it hot while it
lasted; but they ran us to earth at last, and a trap
called Braxton, with a damned Yankee, took the
lot of us. That was in New Zealand, of course,
and they took us down to Dunedin, and there they
were convicted and hanged. One and all they put
up their hands in the dock, and cursed me till your
blood would have run cold to hear them, which
was scurvy treatment, seeing that we had all been
pals together; but they were a blackguard lot, and
thought only of themselves. I think it is as well
that they were hung.
They took me back to Dunedin gaol, and
clapped me into the old cell. The only difference
they made was, that I had no work to do, and was
well fed. I stood this for a week or two, until one
day the governor was making his round, and I put
the matter to him.
"How's this?" I said. "My conditions were a free
pardon, and you're keeping me here against the law."
He gave a sort of a smile. "Should you like
very much to go out?" he asked.
"So much," said I, "that, unless you open that
door, I'll have an action against you for illegal
He seemed a bit astonished by my resolution.
"You're very anxious to meet your death," he said.
"What d'ye mean?" I asked.
"Come here, and you'll know what I mean," he
answered. And he led me down the passage to a
window that overlooked the door of the prison.
"Look at that!" said he.
I looked out, and there were a dozen or so
rough-looking fellows standing outside in the
street, some of them smoking, some playing cards
on the pavement. When they saw me they gave
a yell, and crowded round the door, shaking their
fists and hooting.
"They wait for you, watch and watch about,"
said the governor. "They're the executive of the
vigilance committee. However, since you are
determined to go, I can't stop you."
"D'ye call this a civilised land," I cried, "and
let a man be murdered in cold blood in open daylight?"
When I said this the governor and the warder
and every fool in the place grinned, as if a man's
life was a rare good joke.
"You've got the law on your side," says the
governor; "so we won't detain you any longer.
Show him out, warder."
He'd have done it too, the black-hearted villain,
if I hadn't begged and prayed and offered to pay
for my board and lodging, which is more than any
prisoner ever did before me. He let me stay on
those conditions; and for three months I was
caged up there with every larrikin in the township
clamouring at the other side of the wall. That
was pretty treatment for a man that had served his
At last, one morning, up came the governor
"Well, Maloney," he said, "how long are you
going to honour us with your society?"
I could have put a knife into his cursed body,
and would, too, if we had been alone in the bush;
but I had to smile, and smooth him and flatter, for
I feared that he might have me sent out.
"You're an infernal rascal," he said; those were
his very words to a man that had helped him all
he knew how. "I don't want any rough justice
here, though; and I think I see my way to getting
you out of Dunedin."
"I'll never forget you, governor," said I; and, by
God, I never will.
"I don't want your thanks nor your gratitude,"
he answered; "it's not for your sake that I do it,
but simply to keep order in the town. There's a
steamer starts from the West Quay to Melbourne
to-morrow, and we'll get you aboard it. She is
advertised at five in the morning, so have yourself
I packed up the few things I had, and was
smuggled out by a back door just before daybreak.
I hurried down, took my ticket, under the name of
Isaac Smith, and got safely aboard the Melbourne
boat. I remember hearing her screw grinding into
the water as the warps were cast loose, and looking
back at the lights of Dunedin, as I leaned upon
the bulwarks, with the pleasant thought that I was
leaving them behind me for ever. It seemed to
me that a new world was before me, and that all
my troubles had been cast off. I went down
below and had some coffee, and came up again
feeling better than I had done since the morning
that I woke to find that cursed Irishman that took
me standing over me with a six-shooter.
Day had dawned by that time, and we were
steaming along by the coast, well out of sight
of Dunedin. I loafed about for a couple of hours,
and when the sun got well up some of the other
passengers came on deck and joined me. One
of them, a little perky sort of fellow, took a good
long look at me, and then came over and began
"Mining, I suppose?" says he.
"Yes," I says.
"Made your pile?" he asks.
"Pretty fair," says I.
"I was at it myself," he says; "I worked at
the Nelson fields for three months, and spent all
I made in buying a salted claim which busted
up the second day. I went at it again, though,
and struck it rich; but when the gold waggon
was going down to the settlements, it was stuck
up by those cursed rangers, and not a red cent
"That was a bad job," I says.
"Broke me—ruined me clean. Never mind,
I've seen them all hanged for it; that makes it
easier to bear. There's only one left—the villain
that gave the evidence. I'd die happy if I could
come across him. There are two things I have
to do if I meet him."
"What's that?" says I carelessly.
"I've got to ask him where the money lies—they
never had time to make away with it, and it's cachéd
somewhere in the mountains—and then I've got
to stretch his neck for him, and send his soul down
to join the men that he betrayed."
It seemed to me that I knew something about
that caché, and I felt like laughing; but he was
watching me, and it struck me that he had a nasty,
vindictive kind of mind.
"I'm going up on the bridge," I said, for he
was not a man whose acquaintance I cared much
He wouldn't hear of my leaving him, though.
"We're both miners," he says, "and we're pals
for the voyage. Come down to the bar. I'm not
too poor to shout."
I couldn't refuse him well, and we went down
together; and that was the beginning of the
trouble. What harm was I doing any one on the
ship? All I asked for was a quiet life, leaving
others alone, and getting left alone myself. No
man could ask fairer than that. And now just
you listen to what came of it.
We were passing the front of the ladies' cabins,
on our way to the saloon, when out comes a servant
lass—a freckled currency she-devil—with a baby
in her arms. We were brushing past her, when
she gave a scream like a railway whistle, and
nearly dropped the kid. My nerves gave a sort
of a jump when I heard that scream, but I turned
and begged her pardon, letting on that I thought
I might have trod on her foot. I knew the game
was up though, when I saw her white face, and
her leaning against the door and pointing.
"It's him!" she cried; "it's him! I saw him
in the court-house. Oh, don't let him hurt the
"Who is it?" asks the steward and half-a-dozen
others in a breath.
"It's him—Maloney—Maloney, the murderer—oh,
take him away—take him away!"
I don't rightly remember what happened just
at that moment. The furniture and me seemed
to get kind of mixed, and there was cursing, and
smashing, and some one shouting for his gold,
and a general stamp round. When I got steadied
a bit, I found somebody's hand in my mouth.
From what I gathered afterwards, I conclude that
it belonged to that same little man with the vicious
way of talking. He got some of it out again,
but that was because the others were choking
me. A poor chap can get no fair-play in this
world when once he is down—still I think he will
remember me till the day of his death—longer,
They dragged me out into the poop and held
a damned court-martial—on me, mind you; me,
that had thrown over my pals in order to serve
them. What were they to do with me? Some
said this, some said that; but it ended by the
captain deciding to send me ashore. The ship
stopped, they lowered a boat, and I was hoisted
in, the whole gang of them hooting at me from
over the bulwarks. I saw the man I spoke of
tying up his hand though, and I felt that things
might be worse.
I changed my opinion before we got to the
land. I had reckoned on the shore being deserted,
and that I might make my way inland; but the
ship had stopped too near the Heads, and a dozen
beach-combers and such like had come down to
the water's edge, and were staring at us, wondering
what the boat was after. When we got to the edge
of the surf the coxswain hailed them, and after
singing out who I was, he and his men threw
me into the water. You may well look surprised—neck
and crop into ten feet of water, with shark
as thick as green parrots in the bush, and I heard
them laughing as I floundered to the shore.
I soon saw it was a worse job than ever. As
I came scrambling out through the weeds, I was
collared by a big chap with a velveteen coat, and
half-a-dozen others got round me and held me
fast. Most of them looked simple fellows enough,
and I was not afraid of them; but there was one
in a cabbage-tree hat that had a very nasty
expression on his face, and the big man seemed
to be chummy with him.
They dragged me up the beach, and then they let
go their hold of me and stood round in a circle.
"Well, mate," says the man with the hat, "we've
been looking out for you some time in these
"And very good of you too," I answers.
"None of your jaw," says he. "Come, boys,
what shall it be—hanging, drowning, or shooting?
This looked a bit too like business. "No you
don't!" I said. "I've got Government protection,
and it'll be murder."
"That's what they call it," answered the one
in the velveteen coat as cheery as a piping crow.
"And you're going to murder me for being
"Ranger be damned!" said the man. "We're
going to hang you for peaching against your
pals; and that's an end of the palaver."
They slung a rope round my neck and dragged
me up to the edge of the bush. There were some
big she-oaks and blue-gums, and they pitched on
one of these for the wicked deed. They ran the
rope over a branch, tied my hands, and told me to
say my prayers. It seemed as if it was all up; but
Providence interfered to save me. It sounds nice
enough sitting here and telling about it, sir; but it
was sick work to stand with nothing but the
beach in front of you, and the long white line of
surf, with the steamer in the distance, and a set of
bloody-minded villains round you thirsting for
I never thought I'd owe anything good to the
police; but they saved me that time. A troop of
them were riding from Hawkes Point Station to
Dunedin, and hearing that something was up, they
came down through the bush, and interrupted the
proceedings. I've heard some bands in my time,
Doctor, but I never heard music like the jingle of
those traps' spurs and harness as they galloped out
on to the open. They tried to hang me even then,
but the police were too quick for them; and the
man with the hat got one over the head with the
flat of a sword. I was clapped on to a horse, and
before evening I found myself in my old quarters
in the city gaol.
The governor wasn't to be done, though. He
was determined to get rid of me, and I was equally
anxious to see the last of him. He waited a week
or so until the excitement had begun to die away,
and then he smuggled me aboard a three-masted
schooner bound to Sydney with tallow and hides.
We got fair away to sea without a hitch, and
things began to look a bit more rosy. I made
sure that I had seen the last of the prison, anyway.
The crew had a sort of an idea who I was, and if
there'd been any rough weather, they'd have hove
me overboard like enough; for they were a rough,
ignorant lot, and had a notion that I brought bad
luck to the ship. We had a good passage, however,
and I was landed safe and sound upon
Now just you listen to what happened next.
You'd have thought they would have been sick of
ill-using me and following me by this time—wouldn't
you, now? Well, just you listen. It
seems that a cursed steamer started from Dunedin
to Sydney on the very day we left, and got in
before us, bringing news that I was coming.
Blessed if they hadn't called a meeting—a regular
mass meeting—at the docks to discuss about it,
and I marched right into it when I landed. They
didn't take long about arresting me, and I listened
to all the speeches and resolutions. If I'd been a
prince there couldn't have been more excitement.
The end of it all was that they agreed that it
wasn't right that New Zealand should be allowed
to foist her criminals upon her neighbours, and
that I was to be sent back again by the next boat.
So they posted me off again as if I was a damned
parcel; and after another eight hundred mile
journey I found myself back for the third time
moving in the place that I started from.
By this time I had begun to think that I was
going to spend the rest of my existence travelling
about from one port to another. Every man's
hand seemed turned against me, and there was no
peace or quiet in any direction. I was about sick
of it by the time I had come back; and if I could
have taken to the bush I'd have done it, and
chanced it with my old pals. They were too
quick for me, though, and kept me under lock and
key; but I managed, in spite of them, to negotiate
that caché I told you of, and sewed the gold up in
my belt. I spent another month in gaol, and then
they slipped me aboard a barque that was bound
This time the crew never knew who I was, but
the captain had a pretty good idea, though he
didn't let on to me that he had any suspicions. I
guessed from the first that the man was a villain.
We had a fair passage, except a gale or two off
the Cape; and I began to feel like a free man when
I saw the blue loom of the old country, and the
saucy little pilot-boat from Falmouth dancing
towards us over the waves. We ran down the
Channel, and before we reached Gravesend I had
agreed with the pilot that he should take me
ashore with him when he left. It was at this time
that the captain showed me that I was right in
thinking him a meddling, disagreeable man. I
got my things packed, such as they were, and left
him talking earnestly to the pilot, while I went
below for my breakfast. When I came up again
we were fairly into the mouth of the river, and the
boat in which I was to have gone ashore had left
us. The skipper said the pilot had forgotten me; but
that was too thin, and I began to fear that all my
old troubles were going to commence once more.
It was not long before my suspicions were confirmed.
A boat darted out from the side of the
river, and a tall cove with a long black beard came
aboard. I heard him ask the mate whether they
didn't need a mud-pilot to take them up the
reaches, but it seemed to me that he was a man
who would know a deal more about handcuffs than
he did about steering, so I kept away from him.
He came across the deck, however, and made
some remark to me, taking a good look at me the
while. I don't like inquisitive people at any time,
but an inquisitive stranger with glue about the
roots of his beard is the worst of all to stand,
especially under the circumstances. I began to
feel that it was time for me to go.
I soon got a chance, and made good use of it.
A big collier came athwart the bows of our
steamer, and we had to slacken down to dead
slow. There was a barge astern, and I slipped
down by a rope and was into the barge before
any one had missed me. Of course I had to leave
my luggage behind me, but I had the belt with
the nuggets round my waist, and the chance of
shaking the police off my track was worth more
than a couple of boxes. It was clear to me now
that the pilot had been a traitor, as well as the
captain, and had set the detectives after me. I
often wish I could drop across those two men
I hung about the barge all day as she drifted
down the stream. There was one man in her, but
she was a big, ugly craft, and his hands were too
full for much looking about. Towards evening,
when it got a bit dusky, I struck out for the shore,
and found myself in a sort of marsh place, a good
many miles to the east of London. I was soaking
wet and half dead with hunger, but I trudged into
the town, got a new rig-out at a slop-shop, and
after having some supper, engaged a bed at the
quietest lodgings I could find.
I woke pretty early—a habit you pick up in the
bush—and lucky for me that I did so. The very
first thing I saw when I took a look through a
chink in the shutter was one of these infernal policemen
standing right opposite, and staring up at the
windows. He hadn't epaulettes nor a sword, like
our traps, but for all that there was a sort of
family likeness, and the same busybody expression.
Whether they'd followed me all the time, or
whether the woman that let me the bed didn't
like the looks of me, is more than I have ever been
able to find out. He came across as I was watching
him, and noted down the address of the house
in a book. I was afraid that he was going to ring
at the bell, but I suppose his orders were simply
to keep an eye on me, for after another good look
at the windows he moved on down the street.
I saw that my only chance was to act at once.
I threw on my clothes, opened the window softly,
and, after making sure that there was nobody
about, dropped out on to the ground and made off
as hard as I could run. I travelled a matter of two
or three miles, when my wind gave out; and as I
saw a big building with people going in and out, I
went in too, and found that it was a railway station.
A train was just going off for Dover to meet the
French boat, so I took a ticket and jumped into a
There were a couple of other chaps in the
carriage, innocent-looking young beggars, both of
them. They began speaking about this and that,
while I sat quiet in the corner and listened. Then
they started on England and foreign countries, and
such like. Look ye now, Doctor, this is a fact.
One of them begins jawing about the justice of
England's laws. "It's all fair and above-board,"
says he; "there ain't any secret police, nor spying,
like they have abroad," and a lot more of the same
sort of wash. Rather rough on me, wasn't it,
listening to the damned young fool, with the police
following me about like my shadow?
I got to Paris right enough, and there I changed
some of my gold, and for a few days I imagined
I'd shaken them off, and began to think of settling
down for a bit of a rest. I needed it by that time,
for I was looking more like a ghost than a man.
You've never had the police after you, I suppose?
Well, you needn't look offended, I didn't mean any
harm. If ever you had you'd know that it wastes
a man away like a sheep with the rot.
I went to the opera one night and took a box,
for I was very flush. I was coming out between
the acts when I met a fellow lounging along in the
passage. The light fell on his face, and I saw that
it was the mud-pilot that had boarded us in the
Thames. His beard was gone, but I recognised
the man at a glance, for I've a good memory for
I tell you, Doctor, I felt desperate for a moment.
I could have knifed him if we had been alone, but
he knew me well enough never to give me the
chance. It was more than I could stand any
longer, so I went right up to him and drew him
aside, where we'd be free from all the loungers and
"How long are you going to keep it up?" I
He seemed a bit flustered for a moment, but
then he saw there was no use beating about the
bush, so he answered straight—
"Until you go back to Australia," he said.
"Don't you know," I said, "that I have served
the Government and got a free pardon?"
He grinned all over his ugly face when I said
"We know all about you, Maloney," he answered.
"If you want a quiet life, just you go back where
you came from. If you stay here, you're a marked
man; and when you are found tripping it'll be a
lifer for you, at the least. Free trade's a fine thing,
but the market's too full of men like you for us to
need to import any!"
It seemed to me that there was something in
what he said, though he had a nasty way of putting
it. For some days back I'd been feeling a sort of
home-sick. The ways of the people weren't my
ways. They stared at me in the street; and if I
dropped into a bar, they'd stop talking and edge
away a bit, as if I was a wild beast. I'd sooner
have had a pint of old Stringybark, too, than a
bucketful of their rotgut liquors. There was too
much damned propriety. What was the use of
having money if you couldn't dress as you liked,
nor bust it properly? There was no sympathy for
a man if he shot about a little when he was half-over.
I've seen a man dropped at Nelson many a
time with less row than they'd make over a broken
window-pane. The thing was slow, and I was sick
"You want me to go back?" I said.
"I've my orders to stick fast to you until you
do," he answered.
"Well," I said, "I don't care if I do. All I
bargain is that you keep your mouth shut, and
don't let on who I am, so that I may have a fair
start when I get there."
He agreed to this, and we went over to Southampton
the very next day, where he saw me safely
off once more. I took a passage round to Adelaide,
where no one was likely to know me; and there I
settled, right under the nose of the police. I've
been there ever since, leading a quiet life, but for
little difficulties like the one I'm in for now, and
for that devil, Tattooed Tom of Hawkesbury. I
don't know what made me tell you all this, Doctor,
unless it is that being kind of lonely makes a man
inclined to jaw when he gets a chance. Just you
take warning from me, though. Never put yourself
out to serve your country; for your country
will do precious little for you. Just you let them
look after their own affairs; and if they find a
difficulty in hanging a set of scoundrels, never
mind chipping in, but let them alone to do as
best they can. Maybe they'll remember how they
treated me after I'm dead, and be sorry for
neglecting me. I was rude to you when you came
in, and swore a trifle promiscuous; but don't you
mind me, it's only my way. You'll allow, though,
that I have cause to be a bit touchy now and again
when I think of all that's passed. You're not
going, are you? Well, if you must, you must; but
I hope you will look me up at odd times when you
are going your round. Oh, I say, you've left the
balance of that cake of tobacco behind you, haven't
you? No; it's in your pocket—that's all right.
Thank ye, Doctor, you're a good sort, and as quick
at a hint as any man I've met.
A couple of months after narrating his experiences,
Wolf Tone Maloney finished his term, and
was released. For a long time I neither saw him
nor heard of him; and he had almost slipped from
my memory, until I was reminded, in a somewhat
tragic manner, of his existence. I had been attending
a patient some distance off in the country, and
was riding back, guiding my tired horse among
the boulders which strewed the pathway, and
endeavouring to see my way through the gathering
darkness, when I came suddenly upon a little
wayside inn. As I walked my horse up towards
the door, intending to make sure of my bearings
before proceeding further, I heard the sound of a
violent altercation within the little bar. There
seemed to be a chorus of expostulation or remonstrance,
above which two powerful voices rang out
loud and angry. As I listened, there was a
momentary hush, two pistol shots sounded almost
simultaneously, and, with a crash, the door burst
open, and a pair of dark figures staggered out into
the moonlight. They struggled for a moment in a
deadly wrestle, and then went down together among
the loose stones. I had sprung off my horse, and,
with the help of half-a-dozen rough fellows from
the bar, dragged them away from one another.
A glance was sufficient to convince me that one
of them was dying fast. He was a thick-set, burly
fellow, with a determined cast of countenance.
The blood was welling from a deep stab in his
throat, and it was evident that an important artery
had been divided. I turned away from him in
despair, and walked over to where his antagonist
was lying. He was shot through the lungs, but
managed to raise himself upon his hand as I
approached, and peered anxiously up into my face.
To my surprise I saw before me the haggard
features and flaxen hair of my prison acquaintance,
"Ah, Doctor!" he said, recognising me. "How
is he? Will he die?"
He asked the question so earnestly that I
imagined he had softened at the last moment, and
feared to leave the world with another homicide
upon his conscience. Truth, however, compelled
me to shake my head mournfully, and to intimate
that the wound would prove a mortal one.
Maloney gave a wild cry of triumph, which
brought the blood welling out from between his
lips. "Here, boys," he gasped to the little group
around him. "There's money in my inside pocket.
Damn the expense! Drinks round. There's
nothing mean about me. I'd drink with you, but
I'm going. Give the Doc. my share, for he's as
good——" Here his head fell back with a thud,
his eye glazed, and the soul of Wolf Tone
Maloney, forger, convict, ranger, murderer, and
Government peach, drifted away into the Great
I cannot conclude without borrowing the account
of the fatal quarrel which appeared in the columns
of the West Australian Sentinel. The curious will
find it in the issue of the 4th of October 1881:—
"Fatal Affray.—W. T. Maloney, a well-known
citizen of New Montrose, and proprietor of the
Yellow Boy gambling saloon, has met with his
death under rather painful circumstances. Mr.
Maloney was a man who had led a chequered
existence, and whose past history is replete with
interest. Some of our readers may recall the
Lena Valley murders, in which he figured as the
principal criminal. It is conjectured that, during
the seven months that he owned a bar in that
region, from twenty to thirty travellers were
hocussed and made away with. He succeeded,
however, in evading the vigilance of the officers of
the law, and allied himself with the bushrangers
of Bluemansdyke, whose heroic capture and subsequent
execution are matters of history. Maloney
extricated himself from the fate which awaited him
by turning Queen's evidence. He afterwards
visited Europe, but returned to West Australia,
where he has long played a prominent part in local
matters. On Friday evening he encountered an
old enemy, Thomas Grimthorpe, commonly known
as Tattooed Tom of Hawkesbury. Shots were
exchanged, and both men were badly wounded,
only surviving a few minutes. Mr. Maloney had
the reputation of being, not only the most wholesale
murderer that ever lived, but also of having a
finish and attention to detail in matters of evidence
which has been unapproached by any European
criminal. Sic transit gloriâ mundi!"