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26 Jun

Chapter XIII

Chapter 13 Egan
My mysterious benefactor had, of course, been Egan; Bob bloody Logic himself. Having built up all my courage to walk through that Plutonian gate and face the Modern Babylon on my own, he was waiting for me across the street, learning against a knacker’s wall and smoking a long cheroot. ‘Well if it isn’t London’s latest literary sensation,’ he said, revealing both rows of his glittering teeth in a broad grin, and thereby saving me from the indignity...
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19 Jun

Chapter XII

Chapter 12 - Rat
In addition to reformers and evangelisers, another species from the outside well known to us was the tourist; dandies in the underworld who treated a visit to Bedlam, Newgate, or the Marshalsea as a social occasion. Sometimes they would even turn up with hampers and make a day of it. And if prisoners were willing to be observed in their natural habitat then boons might be bestowed upon them, in the form of food, drink or money. My...
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12 Jun

Chapter XI

Chapter 11 Prison
The buildings and courtyard of the Marshalsea had a much more pleasant aspect than usual the morning after the first night I spent in the bed of Flashy Nanse. Even though I had not slept, my senses seemed strangely acute as I quit her room and walked softly into the frozen dawn. I had left my lover sleeping heavily, and had taken leave of her soft warm body only by a tremendous effort of will, based upon...
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5 Jun

Chapter X

Chapter 10 - Medium
I had now run out of pirates. Bill had not been forthcoming with any other books or broadsheets, and there was not a single line of print to be found anywhere in the damn prison. It seemed to me that my father and I were the only literate occupants of the entire place, but between us we had but one book. I lobbied the turnkey for literature, and he promised me that he would see what he...
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29 May

Chapter IX

Chapter 9 - Pirates
I had thus far avoided the tap room for it was intimidating to me, full of rough men and rougher women. I had no experience of such places beyond reading of them in picaresque novels. I was well out of my depths and I knew it. Although I had fooled Scott and Ainsworth by strongly implying that I was fully grown in our correspondence, there was no faking adulthood in the real world, the universe outside the...
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22 May

Chapter VIII

Chapter 8 Prison
I was barely fourteen years old when my father and I were arrested for the crime of destitution. The long walk to London had enfeebled us to the point of near insensibility, and that we found my uncle’s house at all was close to miraculous, just as inebriates often seem to be guided safely to their beds by angels, having subsequently no memory of the journey. There our luck had ended. We were received at the side...
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15 May

Chapter VII

Chapter 7 Gothic
All told, after my mother died it took about eighteen months for things to fall apart. My sister survived, thanks to the priceless ministrations of Mrs. McGuire, who was as a mother to the child for the first year of her life, after which she was weaned and I tentatively assumed the duty. It was unanimously agreed that the baby should be named for her mother, whom she uncannily resembled, especially about the eyes. She was thus...
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8 May

Chapter VI

Chapter 6 - Grave
The machine people continued, nevertheless, to toil. They had rescued what assets they could from the shop without arousing suspicion, and they set about working from home. My father now took the long walk to the market, and I began my apprenticeship. The work was hard on the eyes and the fingers, but I took to it readily enough for I had watched my father labour for years. I enjoyed the precision of measuring, cutting, felling and...
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1 May

Chapter V

Chapter 5 - Business
Eight happy years passed. I cannot precisely recall when Grimstone and O’Neil took over the town. Their coming was insidious, like the cholera a few years past, a slow pestilence that eventually became a plague. It was an open secret that they had had a good war, and I later discovered that their oft repeated philosophy that good business was where you found it was manifest in their company variously supplying the British Army, the Prussians, the Spanish,...
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24 Apr

Chapter IV

Chapter 4 - Books
Lakeman had got me wrong. The world which I inhabited was far from glamorous. The literary life is rarely the path to wealth and celebrity of which ambitious young authors eternally dream, despite all our public protestations to the ideals of art and philosophy. We write because we feel we have something to say, at least in the beginning, but beyond this romantic desire to fashion something beautiful and true out of nothing more than ink and...
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