“I am innocent of either theft or housebreaking—such crimes 먹튀 never entered my head,” he tremulously declared. “If I’ve done wrong at all it was only in not giving up the articles when I found them. I was sent to a land in H—— Street to repair the fastenings on the hatches leading to the roof, which had been broken by the sweeps or some one. The landlord had been ordered by the police to have them repaired, and I was sent to do it. There were two hatches—one at the head of the stair, and one in the roof; and in the loft between was a cistern. It is a big one, and stands at the side of the loft. I had to get a candle to see my way across the beams, and when I was coming back, after putting on a new hasp, I saw something like the corner of a cotton handkerchief in the space behind the cistern. It just caught my eyes as I was passing, and I went round and pulled it out, and found in it all the things I am accused of stealing. I had no idea they were stolen, or how long they might have been hidden there, and I thought I might keep them.”

This statement produced no impression either upon the Bench or the jury, or, if it did, the impression was damaging to the accused. In the first place, there was an air of romance about his story—it looked like another ingenious lie—and did not account for the plunder being left there, or give any clue to the real thieves. Then, even supposing the strange statement to be true, it still left Scott self-convicted of a serious crime—appropriating to his own use what he perfectly well knew did not belong to him. Without hesitation the jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, it being his first offence.

And he was innocent! what a shame! some one exclaims. Well, I don’t know. He was not innocent in intention. He was actually a thief, though not the actual first thief, and he suffered a just punishment.

And now to return to Shorty and The Fin. It does not appear that these amiable gentlemen met Scott in prison, or, if they did, that they exchanged confidences on the case which interested them so deeply, and in their seclusion the newspapers were not regularly placed upon their breakfast table, even had they been blessed with the ability to read them. It was agreed that Shorty should go over to the hide and get the plunder, while The Fin went to a safe reset to arrange about its disposal. This programme worked perfectly in all but one trifling item—the finding of the plunder. Shorty did himself up with soot to resemble a chimney-sweep, and with a ladder and the proper key of the hatch got up to his hide behind the cistern, only to groan and curse over the fact that the cotton handkerchief and its contents were gone. The truth flashed on him at once—some one had found the plunder. Shorty was as much enraged as if he had been robbed. While he stood there cursing, something bright caught his eye between the beams behind the cistern, and, stooping down, he picked up the servant’s silver ring—the sole remnant of the valuable plunder, which had in some way fallen out of the cotton handkerchief. Shorty was so furious that he was near pitching it as far as he could throw, but again that fateful second thought came to restrain him, and he put it into his pocket and returned to The Fin, to whom he related the facts, with the exception of the finding of the ring. The Fin, as I have noticed, was a silent man. He heard the whole with open eyes and shut mouth, and Shorty was himself too much enraged to notice that The Fin was displeased and suspicious. Some men would have stormed, and taunted, and uttered their suspicions, and even fought over it, but that was not The Fin’s style. He uttered no reflection, but when Shorty left him, The Fin took the precaution of following him.

Being newly out of prison, Shorty’s funds were low, and he went to the reset who had just been visited by The Fin, and managed to extract two shillings out of him in exchange for the servant’s silver ring. Every article of the plunder was by that time known to The Fin, having been frequently described by Shorty, and more particularly this ring, which Shorty had been so near leaving behind.

Scarcely had Shorty got into a public-house and exchanged one of the shillings for some brandy, when The Fin was up at the reset’s house demanding to know what Shorty had sold, and how many pounds sterling he had got for it. The reset, rather staggered, at last declared that Shorty had sold only the silver ring, and showed the trinket in confirmation.

The Fin did not believe a word of it, but he was a still man, and said nothing. Before three hours were gone he was with me, and had given me such information regarding another feat of Shorty’s that at last I drew a long breath of satisfaction, for I was sure of a conviction and a good long sentence.

As soon as I had taken Shorty—not without a fight—The Fin regretted his hastiness. He saw that if Shorty got a long sentence, he, The Fin, would perhaps never get near him for vengeance, whereas, had he allowed him to remain at liberty, a quick shove down some stair or toss out at some window when Shorty was drunk would have settled the whole business. The Fin’s regret did not last long, for before many hours he was in the cells too, Shorty having in turn revealed some awkward facts which seemed likely to put The Fin as long out of harm’s way as himself. These expectations were fully verified shortly after, when they both received sentence of seven years’ penal, and were duly removed to the penitentiary.

And now I come to the bit of tobacco pipe, which will prove how a mean and insignificant trifle often comes into the world to accomplish a great work, and confer a blessing on all mankind. Every one who knows anything of prison life can understand how a bit of an old tobacco pipe is valued by convicts shut off from tobacco for years. The smallest crumb of it, having the faintest taste of nicotine, is treasured and passed from prisoner to prisoner, to be sucked and finally broken up and chewed to its inmost recesses. It is worth twenty times its weight in gold to them. When The Fin had spent a year in prison in almost absolute silence, he got into hospital for some trifling complaint, and so ingratiated himself with the doctor that he was once or twice allowed into the laboratory. There by some means he had managed to secrete a minute quantity of a deadly poison, which he inserted into the hole in a piece of old tobacco pipe shank. This bit of tobacco pipe he concealed till he was again among the working convicts. He and Shorty were tacit foes, but this difficulty The Fin got over in a manner worthy of the cause. Once, when the warder was approaching, and a search possible, he managed, in sight of Shorty, to conceal the bit of tobacco pipe in a place easily accessible to his old pal, and then, when the danger was past, forgot to go back for it until Shorty had had a chance of appropriating the treasure. Not many minutes later Shorty took a fit and dropped dead among the convicts.

Every one was horrified and astonished, till one of the warders noticed a smell of tobacco about the mouth of the dead convict, and fished out of his clenched teeth the bit of tobacco pipe. It was then supposed that part of the pipe shank had been bitten off by Shorty and drawn back into the windpipe so as to cause his death; and he duly occupied his six feet of prison soil.

And was The Fin convicted and hanged? Not a bit of it. He lived out his sentence and was released, and went about long enough to boast of his deed, though I am bound to confess that few believed him, and the general opinion was that Shorty died of the bit of tobacco pipe without the poison. However, The Fin claimed all the credit, and insisted that he was not to blame for the result, seeing that he did not administer the poison, and that Shorty, in appropriating what he knew was not his own, committed a grave offence against convict society, and could not complain if he suffered for the crime.

The Fin should have been a lawyer, and with education might have risen to be one, had he not been soon after choked by an overdose of shebeen whisky.