But if Peace was incomparably the better craftsman, Brodie was the prettier gentleman. Peace would not have permitted Brodie to drive his pony-trap the length of Evelina Road. But Brodie, in revenge, would have cut Peace had he met him in the Corn-market. The one was a sombre savage, the other a jovial comrade, and it was a witty freak of fortune that impelled both to follow the same trade. And thus you arrive at another point of difference. The Englishman had no intelligence of life's amenity. He knew naught of costume: clothes were the limit of his ambition. Dressed always for work, he was like the caterpillar which assumes the green of the leaf, wherein it hides: he wore only such duds as should attract the smallest notice, and separate him as far as might be from his business. But the Scot was as fine a dandy as ever took (haphazard) to the cracking of kens. If his refinement permitted no excess of splendour, he went ever gloriously and appropriately apparelled. He was well-mannered, cultured, with scarce a touch of provincialism to mar his gay demeanour: whereas Peace knew little enough outside the practice of burglary, and the proper handling of the revolver.
Our Charles, for example, could neither spell nor write; he dissembled his low origin with the utmost difficulty, and at the best was plastered over (when not at work) with the parochialism of the suburbs. So far the contrast is complete; and even in their similarities there is an evident difference. Each led a double life; but while Brodie was most himself among his own kind, the real Peace was to be found not fiddle-scraping in Evelina Road but marking down policemen in the dusky byways of Blackheath. Brodie's grandeur was natural to him; Peace's respectability, so far as it transcended the man's origin, was a cloak of villainy.
Each, again, was an inventor, and while the more innocent Brodie designed a gallows, the more hardened Peace would have gained notoriety by the raising of wrecks and the patronage of Mr. Plimsoll. And since both preserved a certain courage to the end, since both died on the scaffold as becomes a man, the contrast is once more characteristic. Brodie's cynicism is a fine foil to the piety of Peace; and while each end was natural after its own fashion, there is none who will deny to the Scot the finer sense of fitness. Nor did any step in their career explain more clearly the difference in their temperament than their definitions of the gallows. For Peace it is `a short cut to Heaven'; for Brodie it is `a leap in the dark.' Again the Scot has the advantage. Again you reflect that, if Peace is the most accomplished Classic among the housebreakers, the Deacon is the merriest companion who ever climbed the gallows by the shoulders of the incomparable Macheath.
He was born of parents who were certainly poor, and possibly honest, at Ass
Meanwhile his cunning protected him, and even if the gaze of suspicion fell upon him he contrived his orgies with so neat a discretion that the Church, which is not wont to expose her malefactors, preserved a timid and an innocent silence. The Abb
And while his conduct at Laval was unimpeachable, he always proved a nice susceptibility in his return. A cab carried him within a discreet distance of his home, whence, having exchanged the grey for the more sober black, he would tramp on foot, and thus creep in tranquil and unobserved. But simple as it is to enjoy, enjoyment must still be purchased, and the Abb
His first victim was the widow Bourdais, who pursued the honest calling of a florist at Laval. Already the curate was on those terms of intimacy which unite the robber with the robbed; for some months earlier he had imposed a forced loan of sixty francs upon his victim. But on the 15th of July 1893, he left Entrammes, resolved upon a serious measure. The black valise was in his hand, as he set forth upon the arid, windy road. Before he reached Laval he had made the accustomed transformation, and it was no priest, but a layman, doucely dressed in grey, that awaited Mme. Bourdais' return from the flower-market. He entered the shop with the coolness of a friend, and retreated to the door of the parlour when two girls came to make a purchase. No sooner had the widow joined him than he cut her throat, and, with the ferocity of the beast who loves blood as well as plunder, inflicted some forty wounds upon her withered frame. His escape was simple and dignified; he called the cabman, who knew him well, and who knew, moreover, what was required of him; and the priest was snugly in bed, though perhaps exhausted with blood and pleasure, when the news of the murder followed him to his village.