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How Grasparini Escaped

THE PRISONER'S NARRATIVE.

The "Centennial Magazine" has pub lished two articles embodying-tHe results of ah interview which the 1 writer, Mr E. J. Hart, states he had with the convict Gasparini, whosej mysterious escape from the s,B. Wakafipu a 1 ifew months ago excited so touch' interest.' In the second article we have the convict's account of how his escape,was effeqted.^ Ha says:— "Amongst those whbjjsred for the engines was a Genoese, who often used to come and talk with me because he could speak .the same language, linked him if there w?s no place'whlere he'could hide me in the engine room or the etoke-hole but:he said he:dared not, fop it would get him into'trouble. 'One <% when the watch changed I slipped,into. the. engineroom and down below to look' alwut me, and noticing that the floor was formed of iron .plates I asked the Genoese what w§s under these" and he said 'nothing.' J remained there some tjme unseen, and, when no one was watching, I walked away astern j and found I was on>th'e|mnnel of the screw shaft, "When :I - wasfhalf-way towards the screw I stoppedl *tad tried to lift one of the plates, and foiuid that I could do so, and that there was room for me to; sit in though'it "was very dark and smelt badly, so I put backjihe plate, and still unseen came *>ut on'deck quietly. I felt satisfied, and began making my preparations for. hiding there for a long time, though I thought I might never come out again. I could not get to where the provisions were kept without being seen, and so could , only, managed to * secrete two onmgiis, .two apples/ arid; >twb Alices oi broad, ,-md then, kept, oil-waiting an§ wiloliing, allthe day:, and r a ii^,*it for a chan,ce to get down below,-but none came, and there Was always someone about. "At last, on the.Wednesdayymt four in the:/morning, when sthe, watch changed, I £he engineer in charge came on deck for a] 1 moment, ;md I made my attempt. Tho engineer tried to light his pipe—tlireo times I counted—but the win.d %w tk«

, matches out. There was a- cow-pen on the deck, and a sail had beto rigged in front of this as an awning to give shelter from the weather, so that it formed an . angle like this," and with his hands he formed a right angle. "Well, the engineer walked into this corner to be out of the wind, and I heard him strike another match. , .'■": "My.faith, I was past himm'that moment, and made my passage down :. helow without his observing. I walked quickly out on the shaft tunnel, and in ■ doing so brushed against another man, who, I cannot understand, did not see me. When I reached the place about ; ' where Iliad been before I lifted the plate, stepped down into the tunnel, and. then : replaced the plate on top of me. It was rery horrible —so dark that I could not - , see,my hands, even when it was broad i.. day, and I found the tunnel was not high „s enough to allow me to sit upright, so I a -was obliged^, to be like this" (illustrating the attitude known as squatting on one's •T ' haunches, with ■ the knees drawn up tightly to the chin.) ] " Then, in the bottom there was several inches of filthy water, on which floated oil and grease, and other things thrown off from the'-erigin'es/ and it stank abomin1-'': ablyl Aft^r'-lDeing there for days as it f Seeniedj^rfeally^pnly hours, the pain of I," 1 thus^ became .worse and worse, 7p [ 'fchtil jt t was 'dreadful agony, arid I \ could ( ' ; J r / ( ,-l)ear it', no ;longer, so I. lay down full )'/.[, lengtji, in.'ihis vile bilge water, .which (it * )) ;.f Hr,as .well) }was not high, enough; to> wash io c oyer my face, even; when theship rolled, { ►it hi else .I-, had,been smothered.'l --- ■; I v d ;hmHe remained there in ; the; foul atmo-1

•vji sphere, filfcfr and gloom, with insufficient food for one meal, from Wednesday, 4 •'aim.,' till 'Friday midnight^arid it was vOwing ; to this fact that when the Wakatipu irtbored alongside the wharf at JSydney,, ,o,n the Thursday,, at 2 p.m., ■'Detective^ Walker was unable to deliver „ ,the body-of Girolomo; Gasparini, alias *' Francois, into the safe ward and keeping of.M;,le Comte deSegtrier, representative -of the French Republic. . , . ; ' 'At midnight on the Friday Gasparini came out of his lair, to find, as he had hoped and more than half expected, his Genoese friend on the look out for him ; the latter told him that the ship was closely watched and escape was simply ; impossible, s.o he immediately returned to his hiding place, not before the Genoese, , .however, had given him some bread and " ; meat'and a bottle of tea to take back with : him, with which mitigations of his .miseries he again descended'into the boweis of the t ship. The Wakatipu was bound for New i .'Zealand,, and as the detective was going back by her he accompanied the vessel on her little trip north. Here was rather a "s unique situation! The baffled officer, il'-' while of ten doubtless racking his brains ■ to account for the mysterious disappear- ■ ahce of his prisoner, was separated from ' * 'the said prisoner only by a few iron plates and bulkheads, and, as a matter, of fact, was no further removed from him than he had been at any time since leaving Wellington. The steamer left Sydney at ten o'clock on Sunday morning and arrived at Newcastle towards evening. ' "At nearly midnight," Gasparini con- . tinues, "I came again out of the tunnel —when in port—with the engines stopped and hardly anyone on duty below, it was hot difficult. Without making any noise, I reached the deck, and there found my Genoese fireman, who told me that the detective had been playing cards in the saloon from nine to ten, but now had \ turned in, and all was quiet forward. Then my friend brought me a razor, and I quickly shaved off my beard, and he gave me some directions for the future —where to go and what to do, —and then he ' brought me a change of clothes and four shillings and a sixpence, which was all he . had, bade me addio, and kept watch while - I crept away from the ship.' On getting away from the steamer Gasparini went first to the silver mines, where he found employment sewing sacks. He remained there some three weeks, and might have stayed on indefinitely had he not - chanced to meet the ex-cook of the* Auckland Gaol a former prisoner, whose sentence had expired, and who, unfortunately, remembered meeting Gasparini in the prison. The excook told two of his friends, and the three of them charged Gasparini with being an escapee, an accusation which, of course, he strenuously denied, but in consequence of his detection thought it , advisable to leave the same day, and started to walk to Goulburn, with the idea of getting on the railway line to Melbourne. He reached the Victorian capital after some further adventure. Ultimately he obtained a billet at the Palace Hotel, whence he graduated to the post of garcen de cuisine at the French Club, and where, O satire of fortune ; he was performing his duties in the culinary department on the occasion of the recent - banquet tendered by the Club to M. v Noel Pardon, the incoming Governor of New Caledonia. In answer to another question he admitted that at first he used to live in a continual state of apprehension of being arrested, but that thefeelingwas gradually wearing off, though he thought he ran considerable risk of detection, as so many people saw him in Wellington and Auckland and on board the Wakatipu, and he was pointed out to them all as an escaped Ricidiviste. Ap>opes of this he says, " A few days ago, in a Melbourne street, J met the Capitano of the barque which rescued us at sea, and he seemed to be starring straight at me. Che pauvra ! I pulled out my handkerchief and pretended , to be wiping away the sweat from my forehead, so thtt he might not see my face, and there waa enough sweat to wipe away before he had passed me and made .. no sign I can tell you,"

labor, and had been healthy and strong. On the trip we now name he began for the first time to feel weak and ill. His appetite failed, and he suffered from drowsiness, heartburn, a bad taste in the mouth, and costiveness and irregularity of the bowels. Sometimes when at work he had attacks of giddiness, but supposed it to be caused by the heat of the fire room. Quite often he was sick and felt like vomiting, and had some pain in the head. Later during the passage he grew Avorse, and when the ship reached Halifax he was placed 'in the Victoria Geneaal Hospital, and the ship sailed away without him. The house

surgeon gave him some powders to stop the vomiting, and the next day the visiting physician gave him a mixture to take every four hours. Within two days Wade was so much worse that the doctors stopped both the powders and the mixture. A month passed, the poor fireman getting worse and worse. Then came another doctor, who was to be visiting physician for the next five months. He gave other medicines, but not much relief. Nearly all that time Wade suffered great torture; he digested nothing throwing up all he ate. There was terrible pain in the bowels burning heat in the throat, heartburn, and racking headache. The patient was now taking a mixture every four nours, powders, one after each meal to digest the food, operating pills one every night, and temperature pills two each night to stop the cold sweats. If drugs could cure him at all, Richard had an idea that he took enough to do it. But j on the other hand pleurisy set in and the doctor, tooh ninety ounces of matter from his right side and then told him he was sure to die. Five months more rolled by and there was another change of visiting physicians. The new one gave Wade a mixture which he said made him tremble like a leaf on a tree. At this crisis Wade's Scotch blood asserted itself. He refused to stand any more dosing, and told the doctors that if he must die he could die as well without them as with them. By this time a cup of milk would turn sour on his stomach, and lie there for days. Our friend from Glasgow was like a wreck on a shoal, fast going to pieces. We will let him tell the rest of his experience in the words in which he communicated it to the press.

1 1He says: "When I was in this state a lady whom I had never seen came to the hospital and talked with jtne. She proved to be an angel of mercy, for without her I should not now be alive. She told me of a medicine called 'Mother Seigel's Curative Syrup,' and brought me a bottle next day. I started with it, without consulting the doctors, and in only a. few days' time I was on t- of bed calling for liain and eggs for breakfast. From that time keeping on with Mother Seigel's great remedy, I got •well fast, and was soon able to leave the hospital and come home to Glasgow. I now feel as if I was in another world, and have no illness of any kind."

The above facts are calmly and impartially stated, and the reader may draw his own conclusion. We deem it best to use no names although Mr Wade gave them in his original deposition. His address is No 244, Stobcross street, Glasgow, where letters will reach him.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900422.2.20

Bibliographic details

How Grasparini Escaped, Ashburton Guardian, Volume xii, Issue 3407, 22 April 1890

Word Count
1,989

How Grasparini Escaped Ashburton Guardian, Volume xii, Issue 3407, 22 April 1890

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