The story that follows this introduction is literally true. There died lately, in a Western State prison, a man of the class known as habitual criminals. He was, at the time of his death, serving out a sentence for burglary. For thirty years he had been under the weight of prison discipline, save for short periods of freedom between the end of one term and the beginning of another.
Because of this man's exceptional qualities, as contrasted with those of the multitude of criminals, he was induced, semi-officially, in a friendly way, to write the story of his life. He accepted the proposition made to him, though, consistent with his quality, not quite fulfilling his pledge, omitting, as he did, certain hard details of the later part of his criminal career. This was but natural, and, perhaps, [vi]it is the one incident which shows that the man realized, in some measure, the truth as to his own character.
Henry Leroy was born in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., his parents being quite wealthy. The elder brother was lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy during the War of the Rebellion. Henry was the "black sheep" of the family, and was sent to sea in order to tame him down. The captain was instructed to be severe with him. He was very flighty, had a wild look in his eyes, and was very quarrelsome. In less than three weeks he had had four fights with the boys, the last one with me. There being no cargo on board, the boys had quarters fixed up for them between decks. Henry was in one watch and I in the other.
One night, at twelve o'clock, Henry came below and I was to go on watch. It was then we had the fight. There being only a thin partition between our place and the cabin, the noise woke the captain. The next morning the captain tied Henry to a dry-goods box and gave him a severe flogging with a rope's end. Henry afterward told some of the crew that he would be revenged for that flogging; that was the