Some civilized society will succeed the masses as lacking in fibre as a rope of sand. Already the days of roving adventure are over. There are wanderers, gamblers, fugitives, ex-criminals, and outcasts enough within the limits of the new land. Siren and adventuress, women of nameless history and gloomy future, yet abound. They throng the shabby temporary camps or tent cities.
A man in young Carter's position with wealth and friends galore need not fear to wipe an unknown fellow out of existence; a fellow whose friends with few exceptions were toughs and jail birds and ex-criminals of all sorts.
The men on their part went about the business quietly, and even rated some of their former officers as midshipmen, in special token of esteem. At the Nore, however, and in Duncan's squadron at Yarmouth, the mutiny was marked by bloodshed and taint of disloyalty, little surprising in view of the disaffected Irish, ex-criminals, impressed merchant sailors, and other unruly elements in the crews.
The rest of that afternoon I spent in interviewing ex-criminals who were then in the charge of the Salvation Army. To give details of their cases in this book is impossible. Here I will only say, therefore, that some of these had been most desperate characters, who had served as much as thirty or forty years in various prisons, or even been condemned to death for murder.