Saturday, September 1, 2012

Letter from a Criminal

 The fifth day of April, 1888
 From: Jack Montville

Cell 66, Fleet prison

To: Miss Lacey Montville
450 Shade Tree Lane
Glasgow, Scotland

My Dearest sister Lacey:

I cannot begin to tell you of the pain and remorse I feel.  You and mother must be so ashamed.  Because of me, people will whisper when you walk by, and stare as though you were the criminals - as though it were your fault!  Oh, the injustice of it!

The thing I cannot understand is this:  if what I did hadn’t turned out so badly, and I wasn’t sent to this awful place, then people would perhaps shake their heads a little, but they would find it easy to forgive - and to forget.
Yet, because the man happened to die later, I will be forever detested, and looked down upon as though I was something very unpleasant from the dustbin.  God can forgive, but people, it seems, cannot.  And even if someone was to forgive me, they will always remember.  It will always be a dark stain upon my record – both literally and in the minds of my fellow men.
I will not even tell you the things he said about father, it would only make you upset.  The things he said were terrible, and they were lies, all of them.  If I had a better hold on myself I could have calmly replied and left, but I have never been able to do that.

You asked me to tell you what it was like here, and I will not refuse you.  The nights are freezing cold, and my pitiful excuse for a blanket does not provide sufficient warmth.  And the food, if it could be called that, seems to have no more goodness than sawdust.  It certainly does not taste any better.
We are let out for “exercise” twice a day; and it is good to see other faces, but we cannot speak. 

I am lonely, dear sister. The jailer is about as talkative as a stone, and my only company is a large, fat mouse I call Albert, who comes each day for a crust, and a robin who sings outside my window every morning.

How is mother?  It makes me ill just thinking about how dreadful it must be for her.  Oh why, why must my terrible temper always get the better of me? I pushed that man with all my might.  I did not wish to hurt him – I didn’t even expect that he would fall.  But he did, and now there is no going back. 

I have some news for you.  I’ve been keeping it till now because I did not know how to tell you. I have decided that when I am released, I will not be coming home.  I have decided to go to Australia.  People there will not know me, and I can make a fresh start.  I know it will be hard for you, but I believe it is the best thing to do.  I think you should tell mother straight away, before she starts wanting to see me again.
I will miss you both. In fact, I miss you already.  Perhaps- perhaps, one day we shall meet again. I hope so.

With all my love,

Note:  I wrote this early in the year for schoolwork, and then proceeded to forget all about it.  Recently I found it amongst my papers, and thought I'd post it. :)

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