The Conclave of Doom: The Secret Society of the Ring
The Ring had been convened. A "session of denunciation" had been
called in the manner provided by the traditional statutes of the
Society, and Convict Henry Reynell, "Colonial" transport per Coquette,
had been duly apprised that on the Sunday following, at three in the
afternoon, he was to be charged with having violated the "laws." He,
an initiate, had defied the Ring; he had told Captain Maconochie that
"he would prove a true man to him"; and this after the Ring had
ordered that in season and out of season the new Commandant was to be
thwarted--not so much disobeyed as thwarted.
When, within a month of Maconochie's arrival, it had become plain
what sort of a man he was, the "One," on requisition from the "Three,"
had convened a "Council of Order," at which it was enacted that the
new Commandant was an "enemy."
The business of a "Council of Order" was to enact "laws" and adopt
"regulations." It was the least potential of the three descriptions of
The second was that known as the "Session of Denunciation." It was
convened only when a formal charge was to be laid against some member
("initiate" or "uninitiate") of the Society, or when some person not
of the Society was to be denounced for his treatment of a member.
The third was the "Conclave of Doom." At this meeting the fiat went
forth for punishment, the executioner was appointed, and--if the doom
was a capital one and the victim a member of the Society--the vacancy
would be filled up.
The "Council of Order" could be attended by any member of the Ring--
whether he belonged to the initiated twenty-five, or to the
uninitiated, "the novices," whose number was practically unlimited. It
was invariably held during a meal-hour, for then only could a large
muster be depended upon.
The "Session of Denunciation" was attended by the "circles" only, or
as many of them as could be present. It was usually held on the nights
of Sundays or holy-days, in the Iron Room. The "circles" were, as a
rule, in irons. "Clinks" and "Trumpeters" were rather regarded as Ring
insignia. Occasionally it was held in the day-time; Reynell's was to
be a day-session.
As for the "Conclave of Doom," it was constituted only by the "One"
and the "Three." If the "One" was in gaol, or in such other position
that his attendance was impossible, then a majority of the members
comprising the circles of "Three" and "Five" could proceed with the
business. The convening of this culminating assemblage, however,
rested absolutely with the "One." The "Three" could not constitute the
Doom-session without his consent; and in this circumstance consisted
the "One's" power of veto. The twenty-four men constituting the
"circles" might pass a unanimous vote of "Death!" or other penalty,
and by his simple refusal to convene a Doom--session within the period
indicated by the law and custom of the Society--which period, in
Maconochie's time, was three months--the presumed victim would go