that woman's penitence," he remarked; "and I look upon the parson as a poor, weak creature. What is to become of the child?"
There was no reason for concealing from one of my colleagues the benevolent decision on the part of the good Minister, of which I had been a witness. The Doctor listened to me with the first appearance of downright astonishment that I had ever observed in his face. When I had done he made an extraordinary reply:
"Governor, I retract what I said just now of the Methodist parson. He is one of the boldest men that ever stepped into a pulpit."
Was the Doctor in earnest? Strongly in earnest; there could be no doubt of it. Before I could ask him what he meant, he was called away to a patient on the other side of the prison. When we parted at the door of my room, I made it a request that my medical friend would return to me and explain what he had just said.
"Considering that you are the governor of a prison," he replied, "you are a singularly rash man. If I come back, how do you know I shall not bore you?"
"My rashness runs the risk of that," I rejoined.
"Tell me one thing, before I allow you to run your risk," he said. "Are you one of those people who think that the tempers of children are formed by the accidental influences which happen to be about them? Or do you agree with me that the tempers of children are inherited from their parents?"
The Doctor (as I concluded) was still strongly impressed by the Minister's resolution to adopt a child, whose wicked mother had committed the most atrocious of all crimes. Was some serious foreboding, suggested by that circumstance, in secret possession of his mind? My curiosity to hear him was now increased tenfold. I replied without hesitation, "I agree with you."
He looked at me with his sense of humor twinkling in his eyes. "Do you know I rather expected that answer?" he said, slyly. "All right. I'll come back."
Left by myself, I took up the day's newspaper. My attention wandered; my thoughts were in the cell with the Minister and the Prisoner. How would it end? Sometimes, I was inclined to doubt with the Doctor. Sometimes, I took refuge in my own more hopeful view. These idle reflections were agreeably interrupted by the appearance of my friend, the Chaplain.