James "Jim" Hall is a supporting antagonist of Jack London's White Fang. He is an incorrigible criminal who has escaped from prison after Judge Scott justly sentences him for a crime that he did not commit. He kills three guards and escapes from San Quentin. White Fang saves Judge Scott's life when Hall tries to murder the Judge.
The newspapers were full of the daring escape of Jim Hall, who had escaped from San Quentin prison. He wasn't born right, and he hadn't been helped any by the moulding he had received at the hands of society. The hands of society were harsh, and Jim Hall was a striking example of its handiwork.
In San Quentin prison, he had proved to be incorrigible. Punishment had failed to break his spirit. The more fiercely he fought, the more harshly society handled him, and the only effect of harshness was to make him fiercer. Straightjackets, starvation, and beatings and clubbings were the wrong treatment for Jim Hall; but it was the treatment he received. It was the treatment he received from the time he was a little pulpy boy in a San Francisco slum--soft clay in the hands of society and ready to be formed into something.
It was Jim Hall's third term in prison that he encountered a guard that was almost as savage as him. The guard treated him unfairly, lied about him to the warden, lost him the credits, persecuted him. The difference between them was that the guard carried a bunch of keys and a revolver. Jim Hall attacked and killed the guard and tooks the keys with him.
After this, Jim Hall went to the incorrigible cell. He lived there for 3 years. He never left the cell and never saw the sky nor the sunshine. Day was a twilight and night was a black silence. When his food was shoved into him, he growled like a wild animal. For days and nights, he bellowed his rage at the universe. For weeks and months, he never made a sound, in the black silence eating his very soul. He was a man and a monstrosity, as fearful a fear of thing as ever gibbered in the visions of a maddened brain.
One night, he had killed 3 guards with his hands and escaped prison. The warden thought it was impossible, but the cell was empty.
He was armed with the weapons of the same guards and a heavy piece of gold was upon his head. Avaricious farmers hunted him with shotguns. Public-spirited citizens took down their rifles and went out after him. A pack of bloodhounds led the way of his bleeding feet. And the sleuth-hounds of the law, the paid fighting animals of society, with telephone, telegraph, and special train, clung to his trail night and day.
Sometimes, they came upon him, and men faced him like heroes, or stampeded through barb-wire fences to the delight of the commonwealth reading the account at the breakfast table. It was after such encounters that the dead and wounded were carted back to the towns, and their placed filled by men eager for the man-hunt.
Jim Hall disappeared and the bloodhounds vainly quested on the lost trail. The inoffensive ranchers in the remote valleys were held up by armed men and compelled to identify themselves. While the remains of Jim Hall were discovered on a dozen mountain-sides by greedy claimants for blood-money.
In the meantime, the newspapers were read at Sierra Vista. The women were afraid and Judge Scott laughed, but not with reason, for it was in his last days on the bench that Jim Hall had stood before him and received sentence. And in open court-room, before all men, Jim Hall had proclaimed that the day would come when he would wreak vengeance on the Judge that sentenced him.
For once, Jim Hall was right. He was innocent of the crime for which he was sentenced. It was a case, in the parlance of thieves and police, of "railroading." Jim Hall was being "railroaded" to prison for a crime he had not committed. Because of the two prior convictions against him, Judge Scott imposed upon him a sentence of fifty years.
Judge Scott did not know all things, and he did not know that he was party to a police conspiracy, that the evidence was hatched and perjured, that Jim Hall was guiltless of the crime charged. And Jim Hall, on the other hand, did not know that Judge Scott was merely ignorant. Jim Hall believed that the judge knew all about it and was hand in glove with the police in the perpetration of the monstrous injustice. So it was when the doom of fifty years of living death was uttered by Judge Scott, that Jim Hall, hating all things in the society that misused him, rose up and raged in the court-room until dragged down by half a dozen of his blue-coated enemies. To him, Judge Scott was the keystone in the arch of injustice, and upon Judge Scott, he emptied the vials of his wrath and hurled the threats of his revenge yet to come. Then Jim Hall went to his living death and escaped.
Of all this, White Fang knew nothing. But between him and Alice, the master's wife, there existed a secret. Each night, after Sierra Vista had gone to bed, she rose and let in White Fang to sleep in the big hall. Now White Fang was not a house-dog, nor was he permitted to sleep in the house; so each morning, early, she slipped down and let him out before the family was awake.
On one such night, while all the house slept, White Fang awoke and lay very quietly. And very quietly he smelled the air and read the message it bore of Jim Hall's presence. And to his ears came sounds of Jim Hall's movements. White Fang burst into no furious outcry. It was not his way. Jim Hall walked softly, but more softly walked White Fang, for he had no clothes to rub against the flesh of his body. He followed silently. In the Wild, he had hunted live meat that was infinitely timid, and he knew the advantage of surprise.
Jim Hall paused at the foot of the great staircase and listened, and White Fang was as dead, so without movement was he as he watched and waited. Up to that staircase, the way led to Judge Scott and his dearest possessions. White Fang bristled, but waited. Jim Hall's foot lifted and was beginning the ascent.
Then it was that White Fang struck. He gave no warning, with no snarl anticipated his own action. Into the air he lifted his body in the spring that landed him on Jim Hall's back. White Fang clung with his fore-paws to the man's shoulders, at the same time burying his fangs into the back of the man's neck. He clung on for a moment, long enough to drag the man over backward. As Jim Hall struggled to rise, was in again with the slashing fangs.
Sierra Vista awoke in alarm. The noise from downstairs was as that of a score of battling fiends. There were revolver shots. Jim Hall's voice screamed once in horror and anguish.
But almost as quickly as it had arisen, the commotion died away. The struggle had not lasted more than three minutes. As the frightened household clustered at the top of the stairway, the man quickly died.
Weedon turned on the lights and rushed over to the man's dead body with his arm covering his face. Weedon turned the man's face upward, revealing it to be Jim Hall. White Fang was nearly killed himself, but he survived.
- Although Jim Hall was not featured in the 1982 anime film Shiroi Kiba Monogatari and the 1991 Burbank film, the scenes where Beauty Smith attacks Judge Scott and tries to kill Weedon are based off him.
- He served as Charles Beauty Smith's right-hand henchman in the 1973 film and its sequel Challenge to White Fang.
|Jack London Villains|