LIBRARY) UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO ! PUSHED BY UNSEEN HANDS. "In the brain, that wondrous world with one in habitant, there are recesses dim and dark, treacherous sands and dangerous shores, where seeming sirens tempt and fade; streams that rise in unknown lands from hidden springs, strange seas with % ebb and flow of tides, resistless billows urged by storms of flame, profound and awful depths hidden by mist of dreams, obscure and phantom realms where vague and fear ful things are half revealed, jungles where passion's tigers crouch, and skies of cloud and blue where fan cies fly with painted wings that dazzle and mislead; and the poor sovereign of this pictured world is led by old desires and ancient hates, and stained by crimes of many vanished years, and pushed by hands that long ago were dust, until he feels like some bewildered slave that Mockery has throned and crowned." INGERSOLL. PUSHED BY UNSEEN HANDS BY HELEN H. GARDENER AUTHOR OF "Men, Women and Gods," te Sex in Brain," "Pulpit, Pew and Cradle," "Is This Your Son, My Lord?" "A Thought less Yes," "Pray You, Sir, Whose Daughter," "An Unofficial Patriot," and " Facts and Fictions of Life" FOURTH EDITION NEW YORK: R. F. FENNO & COMPANY 9 AND I I EAST 1 6TH STREET Copyright 1890 BY HELEN H. GA.RDENKR CONTENTS. PREFACE, 9 AN ECHO FROM SHILOH, 17 OLD SAFETY-VALVE'S LAST RUN, .... 37 How MARY ALICE WAS CONVERTED, ... 77 A HALL OF HEREDITY, 97 "THAT REMINDS ME OF" . . . .137 His MOTHER'S BOY, 157 MR. WALK-A-LEG ADAMS "MEETS UP WITH" A TARTAR, 197 ONYX AND GOLD, 219 IN DEEP WATER, 245 A PRISON PUZZLE, 271 PREFACE. 1 > ACK of all human action there is a sufficient cause. Some of the more open and simple causes we have learned to recognize. But in the complex and as yet unanalyzed varieties of mental, moral, social, industrial, or other aberrations, of what is by courtesy called civilized society, we are constantly confronted by strange manifesta tions which we have made little intelligent effort to comprehend. In the industrial world the unseen hand of greed has pushed millions of men into an abjectness measured only by the awful limits of their dependence. It has fostered in the race those mental, moral and physical conditions which retard even the painfully slow progress of natural evolution toward a loftier manhood. io Preface. Again, in the dark and untrod halls of heredity we have ignored and. still insist upon ignoring the plainest finger-prints of the " unseen hands that long ago were dust." Only when those finger-prints are left in blood do we deign to recognize them, when it is, alas, too late to place in their shadowy grasp the roses of beauty and sheathe for them the weapons which are double-edged. And so the blind lead the blind and are pushed by the blind un til they stumble by chance or fate upon horror or hope, and, learning nothing by the experience, their children and their chil dren's children still grope within the same dark walls and draw the window-shades of habit and inherited forms of thought against the sunlight of science and a ra tional to-morrow. Often our very courts of Justice are made partners with the criminals they prosecute because they must administer laws which have come down to us from Preface. 1 1 the unseen hands of brutal power brutally applied, or from ignorance, superstition, un fairness or stealth. The Past claps its fleshless hands and the Present dances to the music of the rattling bones. Until we cease, in the darkness of willing blindness, to put patches on the Past and learn to fit a new gar ment to the fair form of the Future, we shall continue to be pushed and swayed and controlled by the myriad unseen hands that should be to us a helpful memory and not a merciless menace. In these little studies of social and hered itary conditions I hope I may have sug gested many lines of thought to those who care to think, and furnished imaginative en tertainment for those who prefer to muse. Dr. E. C. Spitzka, the leading brain spe cialist (or alienist) of America, in writing of certain of these stories, says: " I am inclined to criticise and commend this work much more earnestly than would 1 2 Preface, be looked for from the technical position of a specialist. I attach far more than a mere literary value to two of these stories, to which especial attention is not likely to be directed, and believe no other author of fiction has ever adequately attempted what is here done. The book will not only retain a place in my library, but I also feel sure that other more 'unified' works by the same pen will be placed beside it. Appealing as they may to a larger circle of readers, they must earn the author a recognition, alas, to-day, awarded to many shallow pretenders instead. . . . We see strange things in the field of heredity, and I can pay the book no higher compliment than to say that I had heretofore believed only specialists capable of at once intelli gently and popularly dealing with these subjects." . . . While this most eminent brain authority honors these sketches with a place in his library, on the basis of their scientific sug gestion and value, the late Don Piatt wrote Preface. 1 3 of similar stories by the same pen, which have appeared 'under another title : " It is not that they are beautiful stories, for the charm is not in the fact of the story, but in the delicate touch that leaves so much to the reader's imagination. It requires an imaginative genius to do this. With such a quality and with her exquisite touch she has a genius for writing fiction which she should not throw away or degrade on reformative novels or scientific specula tion. These stories are rare fiction. Facts, science and reformation work belong in an other field." And so each must decide for himself what these stories contain for him. Whether they present to his mind scientific suggestion of important facts, or merely offer the enter tainment of more or less impossible fiction. Whether they will amuse his leisure hours and tickle the fancy of a drowsy man, or whether they are a stimulus, a suggestion or 14 Preface. a query. The mental outlook of each reader will determine the value and quality of the author's message for him. HELEN H. GARDENER. New York. ^^ffiEPr AN ECHO FROM SHILOH. 'Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you of it? Before my God, I might not this believe, Without the sensible and true avouch Of mine own eyes." . . . xhe sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood, That fears a painted devil." . . . "I tell you again, Banquo's buried; he cannot come out of his grave." .... "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." SHAKESPEARE. AN ECHO FROM SHILOH, T T is impossible to recall now what started the discussion. I remember that we suddenly found ourselves as people con stantly do in the midst of a speculative phi losophical debate, the genesis of which be longs with the infancy of the race, and its exodus will possibly be coincident with the extinction of mankind. " Now, here is a thing I'd like you to ex plain to me," the thoughtful German gentle man who sat in the corner was saying. " You say that you don't believe in spirits, but how do you account for a thing like this and, mind you, I do not say it is spirits do it, but I only ask you, how do you account for it otherwise? It was in 1872. The medium was not what you call a professional ; but she was the little daughter of a friend of ours. 2O An Eclio from Shiloh. She was bareh sixteen years old then. We were all sitting around a table like this you know how they do it and it was clear day light. She went into a sort of trance. Then she began to shiver and say * Oohoo ! ' like that, a sort of tremble. At last she said to me, ' Don't you remember me ? oh, Herman, don't you know me? You did me the last kindness I received on earth. I am Lud- wig Her voice died out, and she said again, ' L-u-d-w-i-g,' in a far-away kind of tone. I couldn't remember ever having had a friend by that name for whom I had done any spe cial last service. I tried hard to think, and the others went on talking. I recalled a schoolmate, in Germany, of the name ; but he had died in California, and I was not there. Another by the name was not dead yet. And so I ran over all the people I had ever known who were named Ludwig, and I said, ' You've made a mistake. I never did a last service for anyone named Ludwig/ The girl had come out of her trance, and we told her An Echo from Shiloh, 21 what she had said. She argued with me that there must have been such a person because, she said, she had no knowledge of what she had done or said, and some one must have spoken to me through her. I said 1 No/ and I stuck to it. " At last she said she'd try again. She did. This time her hand grasped a pencil, and the moment she was unconscious she wrote: ' Oh, don't leave me ! Ludwig Maxer. Shiloh.' The memory came back to me as from the dead indeed. My heart stopped beating. I had not thought of him for years. He had never been my friend only a chance comrade in arms and so many who were nearer and dearer had gone down that same awful day, and later on, that his very memory had faded from my mind. It all came back like a lightning flash in a clear sky. That you may understand how this can be so, I shall have to tell you a little war his tory: You know I was on what you call the wrong side the Confederate side. It is no 22 An Echo from Shiloh. matter now whether it was right or wrong. One thing is very certain, it had its heroes, and few of its stories have yet been told. But dat is needer here nor dare," he said, for getting his English accent and dropping into the attractive broken inflection and pronun ciation that lend an added charm to the con versation of educated and thoughtful Ger mans, whose mother-tongue is the language of their thought and affection, no matter how carefully they school themselves to conform to the demands of the language of the land of their adoption. My German friend's ordinary every-day sentences not only followed his English grammar, but the inflection gave but slight clue to his nationality. When, however, he warmed to a thought or story that carried him out of himself, his tongue would slip certain letters, and, as I say, add charm to the earnestness and force of his un guarded naturalness, until he would notice it himself, and, with an effort of memory An Echo from Shiloh. 23 and will, set his tongue on the English track again. Some one else spoke, and, in the break which followed, much of the fire died out of his face, and perhaps out of his thought as well, and his speech resumed the beaten path of conventional English. " It was at the battle of Shiloh. I belonged to the color guard. Volunteers were called for to deploy and throw out a line toward a thicket to see if there were masked batteries behind it. At first a few men and then very nearly the whole of the Twentieth Louisiana regiment responded to the call, and we were ordered to go far enough to draw their fire if batteries were ambushed there, and then fall back when the test had been made. Nearly one thousand men marched toward those bushes. We had to march through a corn field and every old soldier will understand what that means. Hidden from each other there is no place so terrible to a soldier as a cornfield!" 24 An Echo from Shiloh. His voice dropped, and his eyes assumed a look of intense thoughtfulness as he faced his handsome wife. " I was not a married man then, and yet it took a great deal of grim determination to face the unknown but suspected danger. Gott! I haf often wondered how the men did it who knew there were wives and chil dren at home waiting for dem ! But dat is needer here nor dare!" Again he pulled back to the story and to English. "They waited until we were almost on them, and then whiz ! they opened fire. Three hundred and twenty-one of us were alive to tell the tale ! Poor August Zegler was shot through the body, and fell with the flag under him. He was the color-bearer. He was shot through the bowels, and fell on his face on the flag. As we turned to run our orders were only to learn if batteries were masked there, and then retreat and we had surely learned An Echo from Shiloh. 25 that," he added, as a grim aside "as we turned to run I rolled poor August over on his back and caught up the flag from under him. It was the Confederate flag the flag you think was on the wrong side, and no doubt it was, but it was our colors, and I saved it." Some one in the room said it was a fine action; but he did not pause, and had no thought of his deed, although he had been promoted to a staff position as a result of this bit of bravery. He was only coming to his point in the story. " Just as I caught up the flag and had got five or six feet, with an impetus that threw me still further ahead, poor Ludwig Maxer fell on one knee at my side, and said, ' Oohoo,' in a sort of a long shiver, and put out his hands. He had been shot. He cried out not especially to me: 'Oh, don't leave me behind!' With the natural impulse of a com rade I crowded my other arm around him and tried to pull him to his feet again. He 26 An EcJio from Shiloh, had been hit in the small of the back, and my arm hurt him worse dan de shot. He made a groan, his head dropped on my shoul der, and he was what you call unconscious. One of de odder boys threw an arm around him on de odder side, and we dragged him forward until, from behind a covered place, some of us carried the dead weight into the ranks and on behind de line." The German paused to wipe his fore head and begin his deliberate English again. " I say dead weight and it was that for he was all paralyzed below the waist now. But that is neither here nor there. What I'm coming to is this. The poor fellow died two days later without ever uttering a word, and the strangest thing about it all was that his little pet squirrel that he always carried in his pocket had to be buried with him. We couldn't take it away. It fought and bit us every time we tried, and ran back into his breast pocket. We wrapped the flag we had rescued around poor Maxer, and from be- An EcJw from Shiloh. 27 neath the blue folds the little head of his faithful comrade peered as we lowered him into his grave. We covered him very slowly to give it time to get out when it should un derstand that it was really to be buried ; but the trembling creature held its place and and we buried it alive."' There was a long pause. His voice had grown low and almost tender. Several per sons murmured inaudible trifles, but all were intensely interested and eager for him to go on. " But, as I say," he continued, a moment later, " there had been so many nearer and dearer to me who were killed that day and afterward, in the war, that the memory of poor Maxer and his pet squirrel had died out of my mind until this child-medium flashed it across my mental vision again like lightning in a clear sky. Now, how do you account for that? " " She had heard of it at the time," began 28 An Eclw from Skilok. the incredulous lady on his left; but he did not allow her to finish the sentence. " Mind you, I don't say it is spirits. All I say is, these are the facts, and I'd like to hear some one account for them." The gentleman opposite took up the suggestion thrown out by the skeptical lady. "The medium had heard of it at the time, or more natural still you had told it in the town after the war, and she had gotten hold of it." But the German was ready to meet both suggestions : "You must not forget that war was a mere name to the little girl who did that. She was barely sixteen, and all this had been ten years before. She could hardly have heard of it at the time and, besides, she did not even know I had been in the battle of Shiloh." He paused, and smiled in a sar castic way. "And as for me telling dose facts in dat border town so soon after de close of An Echo from SJtilok. 29 de war did any of you live in what was called de border States along about dat time ? No?" He displayed more excitement as he asked the question than at any time be fore, and his accent lapsed with his self-con trol. "No! Well, den, all I got to say is, anybody who didn't haf to tell he was with Beauregard wasn't telling it. And I was a young German. Nobody suspected that I had been in the army. They thought I had lately landed, and I let dem think dat. It was what you call healthier." We all laughed. " It was mind acting on mind," began the lady from Boston. "You were not aware that you were thinking of your comrade in arms at Shiloh; but you were, and in her supersensitive state your own thought im pressed itself on the mind of the child whom you call a medium." Several agreed to this explanation. One or two questioned it. The words " second ary consciousness," " unconscious cerebra- 30 An Echo from Shiloh. tion," "thought transference," and the like, mingled with the general flow of suggestion or assertion that each felt in duty bound to offer as his or her contribution toward the solution of the question. The German list ened to them all. Then he said slowly: " You must remember, I don't say it was the spirit of Ludwig Maxer. I don't know what it was that spoke and wrote through that child but I do know it wasn't what you are all talking about now. I tell you I couldn't recall any such man un til the second time, when she wrote the full name and ' Shiloh ! ' I had hardly known his first name. I was new to the country and new to the war. I was drafted soon after I had gone South, and was not even in a regiment of men whom I had known before. Some in my own company had become almost dear to me, but he be longed to Company K, and I to Company F. We had had nothing in common. His death and burial were to me what you call An Echo from Shiloh, 31 a mere episode, and but for the squirrel I doubt if I could have recalled any of it after so long* a time, and after so many other experiences in the war and since. For, you see, I was in a strange land then, and I had married and had a family since that happened. So much had filled in my life in these ten intervening years, and that was such a mere episode in with the rest, I had forgotten it. Oh, no, she did not get it from my mind that day. I got it from hers, and so I say how do you explain it? Spirits I do not say it was. Mind-reading and the like I know it was not." He whispered an aside to his wife, who had appeared nervous while he talked. Then he said, in the tone of one who yields a point: "My wife wants me to tell you one thing I thought I would leave out. She thinks it is strangest of all. It is dis " "This," said his wife, gently touching his hand. 32 Aii EcJw from Sliiloh. " Yes, this. When the little medium took the pencil to write the name she seemed partly conscious. As she wrote it she jerked aside, and her hand tried to drop the pen- cil and push something. When she came out of her trance again, her finger had several small bloody scratch-like marks on it, and she said that all she remembered of her second trance was that a squirrel tried to bite her finger. Now, how do you ac count for that?" The lady from Boston smiled, but made a note on an ivory tablet of the new point in the case. Under the note she wrote, "Optical illusion? Imagination or?" Two or three of the party began to talk in asides of the new feature in the matter, and labor to fit it into their previously es poused theories, each giving a different expla nation. No one doubted the German's sin cerity, and no one questioned his common- sense. His integrity was above suspicion. Yet his story was being explained away on An Echo from SJdloh. 33 all sides. Some of the explanations left the problem vaguer than it was before. Some of them were patently inadequate, and others were simply ridiculous; but each per son had a theory that appeared to satisfy himself. Each listened to his neighbor's hypothe sis with deep scorn or profound incredulity, and met some point with the German's original inquiry: "But, on that basis, how do you explain this?" And so the evening came to an end, and each went his way, triumphant in his own mental attitude, which touched the shores of the unknown at his individual angle, and, to his indi vidual satisfaction, answered the question from which we started. And yet no two answers agreed. OLD SAFETY-VALVE'S LAST RUN. . . . "But I remember now I'm in this earthly world; where, to do harm, Is often laudable: to do good, sometimes, Accounted dangerous folly." . . . SHAKESPEARE. "Another age may divide the manual labor of the world more equally on all the members of soci ety, and so make the labors of a few hours avail to the wants and add to the vigor of the man." EMERSON. "You see, her eyes are open. Ay, but their sense is shut." SHAKESPEARE. "The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the de struction of the poor is their poverty." BIBLE. OLD "SAFETY-VALVE'S" LAST RUN. I. ^XAHE express train was due at Hardy's Station twelve minutes before three A. M. The night was clear. A white moon light fell on the track direct and full. The grade was easy and the curve not unduly short, and yet there was a collision. A col lision so awful in force and so terrible in results that the entire country was thrown into a fever of excitement when the "extra" shout was heard in every city early the fol lowing day, and people read with feverish haste and shuddering horror the details of the awful calamity. " Extra ! ' stra ! ' stro ! Ex trbble sion on r road! ' "Bulloss'vlif e ! Extra!" Who has not heard the blood-curdling 40 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. cry? Who has not felt his heart stand still as it flashed through his brain that some loved one might be on that very train? Who has not felt the wildly glad sense of relief when assured that the disaster was on another road than that chosen by the treasure of his own household? Who has not, later on, been shocked by his sel fish joy and settled down to a numb, dead consciousness of pain and sorrow a vague pain, a subdued sorrow for the unknown hearts that were torn and bleeding as his own might have bled and sorrowed? Ah, the limitations of human sympathy! Who has not forgotten the very acci dent a few days later, and passed with un thinking carelessness the darkened house of the neighbor who, alas, has a home no more? Longer than the sympathy for the be reaved, there lingers in the brain resent ment against the living and a desire to bring to retributive justice the careless or Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 41 wanton cause of the accident. In the case of the disaster at Hardy's Station public opinion, as voiced by the press, asserted that it wanted, must have, and intended to find the exact cause of the terrible collision. The fireman was supposed to be one of the dead whose charred bodies had not been recognized; but the engineer a man of unusual culture and capacity in his oc cupation was in custody, and, it was said, had admitted that he was asleep at his post. At this point the superintendent of the road had sent him a warning to say ab solutely nothing until he was placed on oath, and he had obeyed the command of his superior officer. The superintendent explained that since the engineer had been an old and trusted employe, he did not want him on the im pulse of self-accusation, under the sting of conscience and public censure to say things that might lead to his own condemnation at the trial. 42 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. "It is quite possible that the rails spread or that the air brake parted, so that he shot past the siding, and into the other train so suddenly that he himself is too dazed to be sure just how it did happen. I wish to talk with him before he says any more for the public. Perhaps I can lead him to recall everything. They say he is quite dazed now and full of wild blame for himself and for some one yet unknown. Perhaps / can get at it. Let me see him alone." The superintendent had seen him alone, but this interview, he said, had not been sat isfactory. Nothing new came out. The super intendent said, "I told him that I would stand by him; that the road would be his friend; that he need not be distressed nor afraid. I thought best to quiet him. In that way he will become more collected and better able to go through the pre liminary trial next week. He is apparently both stubborn and insane now, for he was Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 43 resentful toward trie road for what reason I fail to see and full of wild blame for himself, and still he swears that he could not help it. It is a strange case." But before the trial, the self-tortured engineer had made up his mind to tell the exact truth and take the consequen ces. He felt that he would not then be the only one to fall under public censure, and still his sensitive soul shrank and shuddered at the thought of causing still farther sorrow to other homes. The super intendent had pointed out to him that no good could come of such wholesale ravings as his, and that the wives and families of others than the dead were to be thought of. " You are a bachelor, John," he had said. "Remember that, and we will stand by you to the end. The coupling broke. The switch was displaced, the air brake parted, perhaps. Who can say they did not? Are you sure they did not?" and John was silent. 44 Old " Safety -Valve s" Last Run. II. The trial began. The engineer was on the stand, and had asked to be permitted to tell his story as he could. Excitement ran high, but he sat pale and determined. Then he began in a steady, clear voice, with his eyes on the superintendent, who sat on a front seat. His first sentence sent the blood all out of his superior officer's face, and drew a hum of rage and condemna tion from the spectators, and of surprise from the legal gentlemen present. "I was asleep." There could be no mis take as to what he said, and yet no one could believe his senses. "Nothing happened to the brakes. They were not applied. It was light. The track was in order; but I was asleep and did not take the siding." There was perspiration on his brow. He raised a trembling hand and wiped it away. The superintendent moved uneasily Old "Safety-Valves'' Last Run. 45 and whispered something to the lawyer for the road. " Hanging's too good for him," some one back in the room said loud enough to be heard. The bailiff rapped for silence. The judge turned to the prisoner. "Had you no sense of responsibility? The public must be protected against en gineers who sleep when on duty." The engineer touched the bandage on his broken arm and began again: "I do not know how I escaped instant death, nor how I jumped. It must have been instinct. I was as dead asleep as a human being could be. It seems to me I woke up after I struck the ground. I was dazed like that The superintendent will tell you why. He said he would stand by me that we would tell the truth. He knows why I was asleep and" "I object," came from the legal gentle man who sat next to the superintendent "Mr. Hart is not on trial." 46 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. Mr. Hart's eyes flashed. The engineer looked at him a moment, and his face flushed. "Keep to your story," said the judge. " What business had you to be asleep on an engine going at full speed at night?" " Your Honor, I did all I could to keep awake, I fixed my eyes on the track far ahead and watched with an intentness no one can understand but the honest engineer who knows what a frightful responsibility his is; who feels keenly the value of the lives in his keeping, and yet who also realizes that his own physical powers are trembling on the verge of collapse." He paused and wiped his forehead with his roughened hand and changed the position of his bandaged arm. " Your Honor, I knew that I was keeping eyes, but not brain, awake. I struck my head a sharp rap two or three times with my fist. That called my deadened energies up for a moment but it was for a moment only. Nature Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 47 claimed my mind. I could not keep it. My eyes were fixed on the track. My hand was on the throttle but I was asleep. I realize that I was sound asleep, your Honor. No denial is possible. There" An irresistible movement of indignation stirred the court-room again. The specta tors- looked first at the prisoner, and then at the jury with eyes that conveyed no doubt as to what the verdict would be if they might give it. Asleep at his post! The guardian of all those lives those sleeping, helpless beings who had confi dently put themselves in his care but a few hours before to be trapped like rats in a burning mass of wood and iron that he might doze at his post and jump to safety, leaving them to their fate! What need to conduct the trial farther? He had admitted his guilt. Hanging was too good for him. He should have fifty lives to be taken, and each should be yielded up if that were possible. The prosecutor felt that his case 48 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. was won and repeated to himself the old maxim that he who attempts to conduct his own defense has a fool for a client. He pitied this man from the bottom of his heart for having refused to accept as coun sel the young attorney who had volun teered his services; for even he would have had more sense than to have allowed this confession. He might have set up some decently plausible theory in spite of the facts, that would have left a loop-hole of escape; but for a man to volunteer such a statement as that he was simply asleep on an engine that was speeding over a moonlit track, and that being asleep he did not see his signal orders to take a side track, and so ran full head into another train surely such a confession ended the case. He smiled at the jury with profes sional pleasure and was about to make a remark, when Juror Number Seven ad dressed the prisoner. "Do you mean to say that you simply Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 49 went to sleep on your engine? That you were sober and" The prisoner lifted his heavy, pathetic eyes and rested them on his questioner for a moment. " I was sober," he said slowly. " I never drink, but I was asleep on the engine. I could not help it. I was asleep." The re iteration was pathetic and he was trem bling now. The prosecutor remarked drily that it would be a good idea to put a man who had a little habit like that where he could do the least harm. The prisoner turned his heavy hunted eyes from the juror to the State's attorney and rested his head on one hand. Then his eyes wandered to the face of the superintendent of the road, and his lips drew themselves a little tenser, but he did not speak. The superintendent whispered to the prosecutor that they might as well close the case right there, "the quicker the 5<D Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. better;" but Juror Number Seven was ready with another question. "Had you the habit of sleeping at your post? Had you no sense of danger of responsibility?" "Your Honor," broke in the prosecutor, rising, "the State has nothing to prove. The prisoner has saved the railroad and the State the necessity of dragging the case along. I have just been instructed by Mr. Hart, the superintendent and representative of the road, that he is satisfied to have the case go to the jury just as it is, and certainly I could do little to strengthen it. The" The prisoner had struggled to his feet. His great frame shook from head to foot. The color had left his face. He was look ing directly at the superintendent and his ashen lips were moving, but no sound es caped them. This man whose nerves of steel and resolute promptness of action had earned Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 51 for him the sobriquet of " Old Safety- Valve," and made him the envy of every engineer on the line, was facing a danger that was new to him. He knew how to rely on himself. He knew how to be si lent and alert. He knew what measure to put upon the villainy of. a wayside tramp who schemes to wreck a train for gain, or by appearing to save it from a danger of his own devising, reaps the harvest of gratitude and gold from passengers and people. But with a mind tortured by the scenes and thoughts of the past few days, with nerves unstrung and brain tired out, he did not dare to risk himself to decide in such a case as this. It could not be possible that the su perintendent, who had known him and his faithful work for all these years, who had grown up in the service with him, who had placed this extra duty on him at a time when he had made earnest protest 52 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. it could not be possible that Sidney Hart was intending to desert him utterly! His eyes wandered to the back of the room, where a man, pale and shabby, stood in a group that would have been described by a police officer as " court-room loafers." The prisoner grasped at the railing in front of him. His eyes dilated and his breath came in short, quick gasps. " Jim ! " he said, in a voice of horror. " Jim ! they are blaming it all on me ! And no one comes to help me but the dead ! Jim ! Jim ! It is too late. I " He put his hand to his tortured head and sank in a heap on the court-room floor. Not dead, oh no, not so fortunate as that, only weak ened in body and mind. Destined to live a palsied, trembling, mumbling, repulsive lump of clay, neither dead nor living. In bondage to life and in bondage to death. Belonging to neither the living nor the dead. An inhabitant of no country a ten ant of no tomb. With neither past nor Old "Safety-Valves" Last Rim. 53 future. A creature of infinite pathos. Na ture had whistled down brakes when the speed was too high and the coupling had parted. Henceforth poor Old Safety-Valve would run on an unknown track, alone and in the dark. There would be no headlight, no stations, no signals, and no final desti nation. Aimless, on a wild engine, poor Old Safety-Valve had pulled out into the infinite blackness that engulfed his over wrought capacities, and Sidney Hart de voutly thanked God that the summons had come when it did. He felt that Jim Blanchard would be an easy man to silence. Jim had a large family. He had deserted his post and Jim was always sadly in need of money ! For Superintendent Hart had understood at a glance that the ghost that deceived the al ready overtaxed brain of poor Old Safety- Valve was the returned fireman of engine 42. He knew that the old fireman had loved his comrade on the iron horse, but he 54 Old "Safety-Valve's" Last knew, too, that Jim loved life and a certain little brood of helpless children up in the hills by the machine shops in another state. He knew that grim want for these helpless little creatures would be a potent factor in an argument with Jim, and so, in the con fusion that followed, it came about that the superintendent and the fireman passed out of the room together and were driven away in the same carriage. A strange and un der ordinary circumstances an inexplicable proceeding, surely ; but not so strange to Juror Number Seven, who had used his eyes and ears and brain to more than usual purpose all along. The calendar had broken down. The case had disposed of itself. The jury was discharged. The stricken prisoner was car ried out and away to his living tomb. The court-room emptied. Three hours later, Juror Number Seven saw a haggard, wretched man emerge from Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 55 the private door of the office of the super intendent of the Spanville railroad. It was the same man upon whose face the pris oner's eyes had fixed themselves when his mind began to wander when the final shock came. It was the same man who had been taken by the arm and put in the carriage by the superintendent as he had hurried from the court-room. It was the same man, but his face was a different face. Then, it had been haggard and wretched. Now, it was desperate and distinctly self- abased. Then, the figure was bent, poorly clad and depressed. Now, it was slinking. The remnants of manhood had departed. The ownership of even a mental self seemed gone as the ownership of a physical self had been in pawn before. Poor Jim Blan- chard had made a sturdy fight ; but what good could it do Old Safety-Valve now for him to tell the truth ? And the children were hungry up there on the hill by the car shops. They were growing up like 56 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. weeds, in ignorance, to follow in their fa ther's footsteps a slave to poverty, and now, alas, to crime. The thought came to him with a shock. He half turned to re trace his steps to the office of the super intendent. He thought he would like to buy back his soul, even if the bodies of all of them must remain in perpetual pawn as the result. Then he said to himself that it would be better to let it go as it was now. What was his honor worth at best? All he was asked for was absolute silence, and the price of that meant comfort and education and rest to the tired wife and the little ones on the hill. What could his peace of mind his honor be when compared with all that ? If it could help Old Safety- Valve he would do right at whatever cost to those blessed babies ; but " He's beyond the clutch of the law now. He is safe." Jim remembered that those were the very words the superintendent had used. If the engi- Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 57 neer ever "came to," if they ever undertook to prosecute him again, it would be time enough to go to his rescue. If " Come in and have a drink with me, old man," said Juror Number Seven as he saw Jim turn around for the fourth time and retrace his steps half a block. "You look cold an' seems to me I've seen you somewhere before." " I am cold," replied the fireman, relieved that some one had spoken to and taken him out of himself. " But if I've ever saw you anywheres before it must 'a' been when we was both drunk 're in hell," he added with a desperate attempt at humor. " Well, no matter about that," replied the Juror, jocularly, as they drained the first glass; "but we'll fill up and get acquainted now, an' then we'll know each other bet ter when we meet before the fiery furnace. I'm a stranger in town myself, and I'm on a toot. I'm willing to blow in a few stamps on you fill her up again!" he said to the 58 Old "Safety-Valve's" Last Run. waiter, a little later, as he pushed Jim's glass across the table for the fourth time. 'N we won'go'ometillmornin', hey ? " " Not if the court knows himself," said Juror Number Seven, and instantly regretted his words, for the old fireman who had begun to grow maudlin and talkative braced up and looked at him steadily for a mo ment. Then he leaned over and said in a loud whisper: " Court's a dam fraud ! " Then he drew down the corners of his eyes and nodded eight or ten times in rapid succession. Juror Number Seven wondered what he would better say. The belligerent look in the old fireman's eye led him to conclude that an argument would be most to his taste, so he leaned back and with exasperating complaisance remarked : " Any man that commits a crime is mighty likely to look at it in that way." There was no reply. Jim drank the last drops in his glass and himself beckoned Old "Safety-Valves' Last Run. 59 the waiter to refill it. When it was in his hand again, he lifted it unsteadily across the table toward his companion and gave it a wavering jerk forward and remarked : " Y' don't know whatyer talkin' about. They're alwaystryin' th' wrong man." Juror Number Seven nodded. Then he winked. " Why didn't you prove an alibi, then ? " he inquired and slapped Jim on the back and laughed uproariously. " 'Twasn't me," said the old man, huski ly, but on the defensive in an instant. " 'Twasn't me. 'Twas Old Safety-Valve they was a-tryin' 'n it was the sup'rintend- ent they had oughter a tried. Ever blame bit his fault 'n he knows knows knows- it-dam-well. He " Jim's head sunk on his arm, and Juror Number Seven si lently withdrew. On his way out he held a brief conver sation with the proprietor of the place, and transferred certain valuables to his hands. 60 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. "Put him to bed. Don't let him leave on any account until I come for him," he said, and was gone. But Juror Number Seven discovered that certain hinges of the machinery of the courts were not so well oiled as others, and that it was a good deal more difficult to secure the arrest and indictment of Superintendent Sidney Hart than he had expected. It had taken no great labor, it is true, to secure the arrest and detention of the old fireman, who had been reported dead and had now turned up so unexpectedly. No charge had been lodged against him, but he was simply held as a witness. But a witness for what ? A witness against whom ? The few people who knew any thing of it smiled over the vagaries of Juror Number Seven, and wondered if he supposed the courts were going to try a paralytic imbecile for homicide. They grew merry over the idea, and wondered how old Jim would be, before the case came on. Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 61 They said that Juror Number Seven had never been on a jury before, and that he felt piqued that the case broke down. He wanted to scare up some reason to go on with it again. They scouted his assertion that there was new evidence, and another witness. No new evidence was needed. Another witness was superfluous. The en gineer had confessed, and then he had pro ceeded to put himself beyond the pale of the law by becoming actually and hopelessly demented in court. It might be charitable to infer that he had been touched a little with dementia before the accident, and had not simply fallen asleep at his post, as he had confessed ; but that a short interval of mental alienation may have overtaken him then. This idea had been suggested by Superintendent Hart as the kindest and most plausible, and had been generally accepted. The newspapers had commented upon it, and sent a thrill of horror through many a traveler by intimating that such a calam- 62 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. ity was likely to overtake any engineer at any moment, and that no human precaution on the part of railroad officials could possi bly avert the awful consequences. "Such dispensations of Providence were rare, thank God, but the possibility of their becoming 1 more frequent owing to the high tension of the present methods of life in America" was pointed out, and again the public trembled. But at last "the farce of trying Super intendent Hart for the Hardy's Station dis aster" was brought about by the persis tent and heroic efforts of "Crank Number Seven," as he was now called by those who followed his " maunderings." It was looked upon as a good deal of a joke by every one except Mr. Hart himself, and possibly by one wretched man who stubbornly waited in the House of Detention. He had talked with Juror Number Seven a great many times and he had begged pleaded like a child not to be allowed to see his Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 63 old superintendent. But the superintend ent had twice visited the little hut on the hill by the car shops in the distant state, and "with true Christian charity and his well-known magnanimity he had provided for the family of his misguided or ele mented fireman." Indeed, he had placed the older children at school, and assured Jim's tired old wife that they should, henceforth, want for noth ing. He gave her a free pass and advised her to visit Jim and to tell him how well the road was looking after his family, and that it had sent poor Old Safety-Valve to a first-class private asylum, where no expense would be spared to have every comfort secured to him. Juror Number Seven found Jim sick and sullen after this visit from his wife, and as it had occurred only two days be fore the case was to be called, and since the old wife was to be present having se cured comfortable quarters near the House 64 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. of Detention it was said Juror Number Seven felt ill at ease and uncertain for the first time. If Jim would tell the story on the wit ness-stand that he told to him, he would be quite satisfied. But could Jim be relied upon to do that? The stubborness of the man and his singular timidity at times puzzled Juror Number Seven sadly, and yet he pushed the case. That pathetic wreck who had fallen at his very feet on the witness-stand haunted him day and night, and Juror Number Seven felt that he would deserve the same fate if he did not do all in his power to place the case before the public in what he conceived to be its proper light. III. The day came. The court-room was filled with curious spectators. The old fire man took the witness-stand. The delay had been so long, the case was so absurdly Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 65 weak, that public indignation and excite ment had subsided into a sort of droll in terest in the "curious piece of spite-work or mental aberration of the man who was professing to use the drunken maunderings of a half-witted fireman to blacken the fair name of one of the first Christian railroad men of the country." The preliminaries were hurried through. The superintendent had seated himself by the side of Jim's wife, who was silently weeping, and it could be plainly seen that he was whispering words of comfort to her. "He will tell the truth. It will be all right," he said to her aloud, and Jim had heard, and hearing, trembled. "For your sake and the children's not for mine he will come out like a man, I know, and the case will be at rest forever. I have sent for all the children. They are to be here in a moment. The sight of them in their new clothes and happier faces will bring Jim to his better self. I" 66 Old "Safety -Valve's" Last Run. The door behind the judge opened, and and eight children, neat, tidy, and well-fed, came into the room with awe and curi osity on their faces. They saw their father's face first. It had been long weeks since they had seen him, and eight pairs of arms were about him, eight pairs of lips sought his, eight young voices said, "Papa! oh, papa!" before silence and order had been restored. "What do you propose to prove?" the judge inquired of Juror Number Seven, when the case was resumed. "What do you propose to prove by this witness?" "Your Honor, I propose to prove that the entire blame rests upon Superintend ent Hart; that the engineer protested earnestly, and almost with tears, against go ing out that night on No. 42. He had been on duty, without sleep, for twenty-seven hours. The superintendent knew this. He knew the faithful services of this man for fifteen years, and yet he threatened him Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 67 with instant dismissal if he did not take out that train. No one heard it except this fireman and the wretched wreck of humanity up there in the asylum, whose nerves and brain gave way under the long strain and the awful result. I propose to prove that Sidney Hart and Sidney Hart alone, was guilty, not only of the murder of the people who perished in that awful disaster, but that he is also guilty of the murder of the brave engineer who worse than dead who "- " I object ! " exclaimed the defendant's lawyer, and Sidney Hart looked steadily at the wretched face of Jim. Then he reached out a hand and drew the youngest child of the witness up on to his knee and stroked her sunny hair. Her hair had never looked so lovely to Jim, for he had never before seen her so well dressed , and so round and rosy. His eyes filled with a mist and he hung his head. " Your Honor, it is all a lie," he said, 68 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. hoarsely ; " I was drunk when I told him, T " _, " What ! " burst from the lips of the as tonished ex-juror. " What ! Why, you have told me fifty times since. You wept like a child only three days ago, and " A titter ran through the room. The bailiff rapped for order. Jim's little girl was holding the superintendent's shining gold watch to her ear and delightedly counting the ticks with silently moving lips and sparkling eyes. Jim looked at her again, and then at his wife in her pretty new gown. " I was foolin'," he said slowly. " I never heard the superintendent tell him nothin'." " And you did not know that the en gineer, your friend, was forced to stay on duty twenty-seven hours at a stretch ? " asked Juror Number Seven. " No ! " "You don't know that he was threat- Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 69 ened if he didn't take that train out in spite of his protests with dismissal ? " "No," said the wretched man, with eyes on the floor. " I ask that this case be dismissed and the indictment quashed," exclaimed the law yer for the defense. " The whole proceeding is an insult to the dignity of the court. There is not and there never has been any case." " I see no reason why the motion of the counsel for the defense should not be sus tained," said the judge, slowly. " The case is dismissed. The jury is discharged." There was a wave of laughter in the room and a great shuffling of feet. " Flattest fizzle I ever saw," remarked one man, as he left the room. "But, my goodness, wasn't the superin tendent good to him and them young uns when he thought all the time that Jim was goin' to swear against him! What a man ! " 70 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. " I'm a-goin' to put my John into his Sunday school clast right off," remarked an admiring mother, as she pinned her bonnet strings. " He's got a clast at the mission school, but I always thought he was too proud for us; but jest look how he helt that baby an' its pa lyin' agin' him all along ! " " I thought your better nature would assert itself, Jim, when the test came," said Superintendent Hart, shaking Jim's hand warmly, as the children clung about him and his wife dried her eyes. " You ought to be proud of your father, little ones," he added, taking his watch from the baby's hand and replacing it in his pocket. " Proud of the devil ! " muttered Jim between his teeth, and the look in his eye was not pleasant to the superintendent. But notwithstanding that fact Superintend ent Hart handed Jim's wife a roll of bills, with the remark that her husband had been off duty so long that she would no doubt Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. 71 need this and more for the children. He looked straight at Jim and Jim dropped his eyes, " for shame because of such generous treatment by the man he had caused so much trouble" as the report said. "You can go back to your engine to-morrow," added Mr. Hart, softly. " I can hold no ill- feeling toward you, but you must give up liquor, Jim, or your family these fine chil dren will be ashamed of you. They "- Jim raised his eyes, and Mr. Hart ceased speaking. He waited to see Jim and his family well on their way home, and then he drove to his office, smiling and content with the world. He knew quite well what the outcome would be. He was a student of human nature, in a quiet way. Jim would feel depressed, bitter, discontented with himself for a while, and then the feel ing would gradually die out. Only heroes fight systems for a principle, and poor old Jim was not a hero. He was only a very ordinary man, who had been cast in the 72 Old "Safety-Valve's" Last Run. usual mould the mould that is shaped by environment. An honest man ? Yes, if temptation were not too strong if burdens were not too heavy. Loyal to his friends? Yes, so long as he might see results that touched those friends and who were Jim's friends just now? His wife and chil dren, surely, and to be loyal to them Jim could not afford to think too closely about causes and effects. Great love, encompassed by ignorance and many children, may be trusted to keep the twig of thought and the back of poverty bent to receive the bur den devised for it. Jim would grind his teeth sometimes, and a flash of half-formed thought would struggle in his brain for sequence and for justification ; but it would die out before it reached a definite conclu sion. He would never trouble Sidney Hart again. He would simply shovel coal into his engine, eat what he could get, sleep when given permission, and drink a little now and then to stimulate his flagging en- Old "Safety-Valve's" Last Run. 73 ergies or to farther deaden insistent germs of thought. He would die a natural death or be killed on his engine before many years, and nothing further would come of his one pitiful little struggle. Another fireman would take his place, and that would be the end of the matter. Superintendent Hart smiled with a return of his old cheerfulness ; for he once more felt perfectly secure, and feeling secure he also felt entirely virtuous. "It would be simply maddening to be under anybody's thumb," he thought, " even if that thumb belonged to so powerless and vague a creature as Jim Blanchard. Thank God, I wasn't born to be patient under adverse skies. I've got to hold the reins and do the driving for myself and the horse has got to go my way," he added, as he locked his safe for the night; " or I'll break his neck." Whether Superintendent Hart was thinking of Jim as the horse or whether he meant something far more general and im personal it would be difficult to say. Cer- 74 Old "Safety-Valves" Last Run. tain it was, that the schedule paper of time-table records he had replaced in the desk had one less figure on it than when he had taken it out. According to that re cord which was, surely, enough for all future contingencies, Poor Old Safety-Valve had been on his engine only seven hours and he went to sleep at his post. It was truly a sad case, and he had paid heavy price for his fault, and the superintendent sighed and drove home to dinner. HOW MARY ALICE WAS CONVERTED. "In evil long I took delight, Unawed by shame or fear; Till a new object struck my sight, And stopped my wild career." NEWTON'S HYMN. "Lord, I am vile, conceived in sin, And born unholy and unclean, Sprung from the man whose guilty fall Corrupts the race, and taints us all." HYMN. "If there is an angel who records the sorrows of men as well as their sins, he knows how many and deep are the sorrows that spring from false ideas for which no man is culpable." GEO. ELIOT. "I do not find the religions of men at this moment very creditable to them, but either childish and insignificant, or unmanly and effeminating." EMERSON. HOW MARY ALICE WAS CONVERTED. \ AT^HEM tbe usual winter -revivals" began in Greenville, the various denominations decided to combine in the atfarlr upon Satan, and *rfl5S their forces in the Methodist church, They were to divide the spoils, so to speak, afterward. This seemingly innocent arrangement looked perfectly fair to the general public and to sinners at large, but the Baptist and other clergymen shook their heads in private and showed a marked disrelish for, although they consented to, the pooling system. They had had experience before. It may not be easy to believe; but it is, nevertheless, a fact that, having been wrought to a state of re ligions exaltation or frenzy in a given church, it is within those same walls that the convert 8o How Mary Alice was Converted. tends to cast his lot thereafter, and while a few go with their friends, back to the church to which they are accustomed, the many cling to the one where Satan was put to flight after a vigorous struggle and charge all along the line. The decision to mass forces at the Meth odist church had come only after a disastrous attempt to conduct (the previous year) three revivals in the town at the same time. The opinion of the public had become so divided as to the relative "power of the Spirit" at the three places that the discussion of the real subjects at issue were lost sight of. The ungodly had hinted that the visiting "boy preachers" and local clergymen were spending more thought on trying to beat the number of converts at the other meetings than on anything else. They scoffingly as serted that the night after the Baptists announced forty-two souls saved the rival clergyman (Methodist) had boldly claimed fifty-one as his harvest up to that time. The How Mary Alice was Converted. 81 weight of evidence appeared to be on the Methodist side, and certainly the volume of sound was there ; albeit the ungodly hinted that certain of the noisiest converts were " stock," as it were, and had been saved each winter with the utmost regularity for many years past. Hints of this nature were so frequently thrown out that it became evident that some thing had to be done. So when Brother Salter announced that the following Sunday he would open the revival at his church, by a sermon on "The Lamb's Book of Life," he created quite a stir in the congregation by adding that since conferring together the various clergymen had decided to forego revivals in their own churches, and would request their own congregations, and all sinners more or less closely allied thereto, to repair nightly to the Methodist church where all the preachers would be for the next three or four weeks, or as long as the 82 How Mary Alice was Converted. power of the Lord was manifest in their midst. Brother Salter spoke as if the "power of the Lord" traveled about from place to place, with all its belongings in a valise, and tarried here or there according as invitations were pressing. He exhorted his flock to welcome and detain, as long as might be, this Power, and it was hinted by the bald-headed old scoffer in the choir that he had clearly intimated that he meant to give his clerical rivals a point or two that might hereafter result in more additions to their own flocks and a greater number of brands plucked from the burning, if they but followed his example. But all this was merely the prelude to the revival which almost swept the town of sinners of mature years, and left only the hopelessly skeptical or the palpably too callow for the brethren to work upon. Each denomination disliked to be outdone by a rival, therefore pastoral visits were made, How Mary Alice -was Converted. 83 and deacons and "mothers in Israel" urged every man, woman, and child who had ever attended their own meetings to go to the great combination revival the following week, as it was to be the last, and a special effort was to be made to very greatly in crease the number of converts, so that there might be a fair division afterward, when they were formally taken into the various churches. Mary Alice and her friend Isabel were the only two lambs belonging to one of the Sabbath-school classes, who had not, previous to this last week, gone up for prayers, and after weeping and praying and wrestling with the Lord night after night announced themselves saved, and been made objects of great rejoicing forthwith. The "mourners' bench " was so crowded by wretched " seekers " wedged in between men and women who knelt beside them to talk with, pray over, and weep for them, that it was no unusual thing to see one of 84 How Mary Alice was Converted. the elders or deacons -give a sort of flying leap in order to get past one group and to another. The church was filled with groans and the sound of weeping. "Amen!" "Praise the Lord!" "Come down now, dear Lord!" "Bless his holy name!" and many such other ejaculations, were so mingled with sobs and groans, and cries of " Save me ! " "Save me!" "I'm lost! lost! lost!" that the nerves of a stronger person than poor little Mary Alice might well have been unstrung by the prevailing excitement. The child be came terrified. She had not been allowed to attend such a meeting before; but her mother, a timid woman, had been wrestled with that day, and half convinced that she might really be standing between the child and some possible good for the future. She had, therefore, allowed her to go with her friend Isabel and an older sister. Groans, cries, shouts, prayers, and exhor- tations were inextricably mingled in the How Mary Alice was Converted. 85 group about the mourners' bench. One preacher was crying out, " Thank God, an other sinner saved ! " " Plucked from the burning ! Escaped from hell-fire ! " While other despairing souls that failed to feel that thrill of nerve and sense that follows on excitement and overwrought nature, felt themselves abandoned, indeed, of the Lord, since this was their third or fourth or even tenth night at the "altar," and still they were conscious of no change. Each exultant cry of conversion filled them with new terror. It numbed sense and paralyzed hope. "Is my name written in the Lamb's book of life? Ask that ques tion, sinner ; ask now ! " shouted one exhorter above the noise and tumult. "I must know now ! Now, Lord ! " "Is mine there?" "Look, Lord, look!" shouted others. The idea swept like a fire across the sur charged nerves of the congregation wedged tightly together, in air so vile and close that 86 How Mary Alice was Converted. hysteria was superinduced as an inevitable consequence. "Is mine?" "And mine?" "Is mine, Lord?" "O God, look, look!" shouted one old clergyman. "Make me sure Lord; quiet my soul ! Look, Lord, look in the Gi's ! " The old man's name was Gifford, and in spite of the air, the tumult, the religious frenzy, in spite of all, there was a smile which was almost an audible flutter as it passed over the congregation. Some one saw how fatal this would be, and struck in, " Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore." The old hymn caught the nerves of the vast body, and the volume of sound that swelled on the vibrant atmosphere almost drowned the groans and shouts of the newly-converted or still wretched "seekers." Mary Alice and Isabel stood pale and trembling, too young to have been subject to the slight touch of comedy which had almost broken in upon the solemnity of the occasion. How Mary Alice was Converted. 87 Just then one of the clergymen, a tall, thin, dark, and terrible looking man came slowly down the isle to where they stood, wide eyed and trembling. He bent over the two children, took both their small, trembling hands in his, and asked solemnly, " Do you want to go to hell ? " The poor, trembling little wretches dis claimed as well as they could any such de sire, with the tears fast coming to their eyes and their little throats dry and stiff. "All of your Sabbath-school class are saved. Only you two repel the Lord. Only you two grieve his holy spirit. Do you think he will forget you? He is looking at you now, now I" and his explosive voice made Mary Alice almost jump out of her small boots, while Isabel fell to weeping bitterly. "He is touching your wicked heart at last," said he, addressing Isabel. " Come while there is yet time. Come! come! come! 88 How Mary Alice was Converted. The gate of hell yawns for you. This may be your last chance, come!" Both children were now in floods of tears and wholly unable to think at all, while he half led, half carried them forward to the " mourners' bench " (now somewhat thinned out) amid the applause and gratu- lations of the entire congregation. The children were at once made the subject of a long and loud and orally punctuated prayer by Brother Gifford, who, all uncon scious of how perilously near he had brought the tense nerves of the congregation to laughter, now wrestled with the Lord in supplication that he might give these two "precious lambs one more chance to flee from the wrath to come that they might cease to do evil and learn to do well from this time forth, even forever more." But the moment they had found them selves freed from the terrible face and voice of the dark clergyman, who had made personal inquiries as to their desire in re- How Mary Alice was Converted. 89 gard to a future abode, their healthy young nerves reacted and the strangeness of the situation so distracted their attention that they straightway forgot to weep. But presently Isabel fell to again and wept as though her poor little heart would break. Thereupon Mary Alice's sympathetic soul joined in the lachrymose agony, and the brethren, feeling that both were truly "under conviction" and fairly on the road to salvation, left the two small sinners alone while they wrestled with older and less sensitive culprits. By and by their sobs ceased, their tired little eyes closed; both children slept peace fully, kneeling there at the "throne of grace," with their curly heads resting on their diminutive arms, and they on the velvet-cushioned railing. At last all of the other seekers were as sisted to their feet, but these two knelt on. "Praise the Lord! Thank his holy name!" 90 How Mary Alice was Converted. said the dark clergyman, fervently. "At last! At last!" He felt that these two had been hard to reach, but now their " conviction " was deep and sure. He bent down between them, and the first words of his dreaded voice awoke the two children, who sprang to their feet, forgetting how or why they were there. They both essayed to smile in a polite and propitiatory way. "Has light come? Do you feel at peace with God?" inquired the dark clergyman, mistaking the smiles for converted bliss. "Yes, sir," said they, and smiled again. Then there was much rejoicing and hand-shaking, and it was announced that two more vile sinners had found Christ. The children felt that some way they had done a very good thing, indeed, and began to experience that sense of elation which praise from their elders is sure to produce in a sensitive child. Their little faces were radiant. Many shook their hands, kissed How Mary Alice was Converted. 91 them, and otherwise showed their approval of the new course they had adopted. "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name " was sung lustily, in which the two little voices piped up, and were much commended therefor. The next day, Isabel and Mary Alice were of opinion that they ought to feel very different from their old, wicked selves; but somehow they were unable to be quite sure that they did. They thought that they should have lost all taste for play, and were shocked that dolls and "hide'n coop" still had attractions for them. This they set down as a snare for their feet, laid by Satan himself, who they had no doubt was on their track at that very moment. They con cluded it would be safest to sit down with their backs against the doll house as he could not then come up suddenly behind them and they could better give their minds to thoughts of the next world. "Wasn't it beautiful last night?" said Mary Alice, with a distinct shiver. 92 How Mary Alice was Converted. "Mm," non-committally, from Isabel. "Do you think God's as glad as they said, 'cause we aren't going to hell now?" " Of course he is ! How you talk ! " Mary Alice felt crushed ; but by and by she recovered, and asked quite seriously, "What did you cry about last night, after he stopped talking to us, I mean, up at the mourner's bench?" "I couldn't think of anything to cry for at first," confessed Isabel, "but afterward I thought of poor, dear little Nellie at home, and then I just had to cry. I always do. What did you?" "Cause you did. I always have to if anybody else does," Mary Alice replied quite simply. There was a pause. Then she asked in an awestricken tone. "Do you suppose our religion's good if we got it that way? You bein' sorry 'cause you had a idiot sister at home and me bein' sorry 'cause you was sorry 'cause you had a idiot sister ? " Hozv Mary Alice was Converted. 93 "I don't see how anybody could have anything worse to cry about than that" re plied Isabel, hotly. "My mother says it is the sorriest thing in the world, and besides, she cries about it, and I guess she knows what's good to cry about." "Is that what she cried about when she got religion?" inquired the persistent Mary Alice. "I don't know. Guess so," responded Isabel, with disapproving composure. "Le's ask her, and" began Mary Alice; but Isabel broke in : "Well, you can if you're a mind to, I shan't. I've got my religion now. The preacher said so, an' I'm goin' to join the church next Sunday and get it over. Then I guess ole Satan'll let me alone. He don't know I was cryin' about Nellie." "That's so," said Mary Alice, much re lieved by the suggestion, and so it came about that the following Sunday they were "taken in on probation," with the promise 94 How Mary Alice was Converted. of full membership in six months if they did not backslide in that time. Neither small maid being detected during the six months which followed, in any criminal acts they were accepted as "full members in good and regular standing" converted thereto through the influences of an idiot in the family and a fanatic in the church. A HALL OF HEREDITY. " How shall a man escape from his ancestors ? . . . "Men are what their mothers made them. You may as well ask a loom which weaves huckaback, why it does not make cashmere, as expect poetry from this engineer, or chemical discovery from that jobber. Ask the digger in the ditch to explain Newton's laws; the fine organs of his brain have been pinched by overwork and squalid poverty from father to son, for hundreds of years. When each comes forth from his mother's womb, the gate of gifts closes behind him. Let him value his hands and feet, he has but one pair. So he has but one future, and -that is already predetermined in his lobes, and described in that little fatty face, pig-eye, and squat form. All the privileges and all the legislation in the world cannot meddle or help to make a poet or a prince of him." EMERSON. "Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased." SHAKESPEARE. A HALL OF HEREDITY. the three children born to George and Katherine Hinsdale, the most promis ing by far was Oswald, the youngest son. Congratulations upon his ability as well as upon his finely shaped head and handsome features had become so familiar to his parents and indeed to the boy himself that they were looked upon as quite a matter of course by the time he was a lad ready to enter the High School. The other children envied him the ease with which he mastered his lessons and many were the prophecies as to his future career. No one doubted that he would be a great man. No one questioned his ability to shine in any walk of life that he might choose, and his parents looked upon him too A Hall of Heredity. as sure to be the prop and stay of their declining years. If the other children got into trouble, Oswald was ready and able to -devise a plan to extricate them. He had tact that rarest of gifts in a boy. If his older brother undertook anything and found himself stranded midway, he would laugh ingly call Oswald to help him out. " Here, Osie, I'm stuck. This thing won't work at all. Fix it for me, won't you?" It was the same confident cry whether the difficulty were with the wheels of a mechanical toy in process of construction, the solving of a mathematical problem or the adjustment of a refractory necktie. No one doubted that the moment Oswald touched it, it would fall gracefully into place and give no farther trouble. " Well, Os, how did you know that the wheel had to go on that way ! " his brother exclaimed one day, as he saw the boy go to his father's assistance in bring- A Hall of Heredity. 101 ing to terms an eight-day clock that had refused to strike. Oswald laughed. He had never in his life seen the inside of such a machine be fore, but he had corrected his father's blun der instantly. "Oh, I don't know how I knew it, Ned," he replied indifferently. " Just did, that's all. I don't see how it could help being that way. Seems awfully funny that father did not see it. Say, Ned, let's go see that sleight-of-hand fellow after school. I've an idea I can do his tricks myself." It was Hermann, the famous prestidig- itateur, of whom he spoke, and both Ned and his father laughed a little at the lad's self-confidence. I guess not, my boy," smiled his father. "I think you will find more than your match there; but you may go if you want to. It will give your wits a shaking up to try to catch the way he does his tricks, I tell you what I'll do. I'll give you a IO2 A Hall of Heredity. quarter for every one of his illusions that you can reproduce for your mother and me to-night." " 'Nuf said ! Hurrah ! " shouted the de lighted boy as he turned a hand-spring out of the door. The result of that stipulation cost Mr. Hinsdale exactly $4.25, for the lad actually did reproduce seventeen of the master's clever illusions ! "Take it as a warning, father," laughed Ned. " You might have known he could do it. I watched with all my might, but I couldn't get onto one of them. Os is a witch. I can see it in his off eye," he said making a pass at his brother's left eye in mock heroic style. There was just the slightest hint of an inward cast in Oswald's left eye. The faintest suggestion of a dif ferent angle of vision from that of its mate. As the boys grew older, very little at tention was given to the selection of a suitable career for Oswald. That was ex- A Hall of Heredity. 103 pected to work itself out. But with the other two children it was different. They must be looked after. Their skill and ability were both too weak and too embryonic to trust to chance. It was a surprise, there fore, to find Ned at the age of twenty- four steadily making his way as a rising young business man and to learn that Os wald was "at present helping his brother." That was the way it was always stated by his parents. Ned would say: "Oh, just now, Os is keeping me straight. I don't know what on earth I'd have done about those ridicu lous mowing machines if he hadn't been there when we unpacked them. Not an other soul of us knew how to work them, but he took to 'em as if he had been born with one in his hand. I'm actually afraid that Os will invent some devilish thing himself some day that will give cold chills to the rest of us." There was a sudden peculiar flash in 104 A Hall of Heredity. Oswald's face. The lids of his left eye widened in a strange way until they ex posed the entire iris. He compressed his lips, and then, as he strode angrily out of the room, flung back over his shoulder: " You needn't trouble yourself about me ! I understand it and I did at the time. You all knew perfectly well how to manage those machines. I'm not a fool!" The family sat aghast. It was not like Oswald. Each looked to the other for light. "What is the matter with your brother, Ned?" asked Mr. Hinsdale. " Hanged if I know. That's a new one on me. I guess he thinks I've been prying into his work-room down at the store and have made a guess at his latest fad. But I haven't. I know he has stayed up there alone a good deal lately; but I didn't sup pose I'd understand his gimcracks if I saw them, so I've never bothered to look He's getting tremendously touchy lately, I" "Don't put it that way, Ned," broke in A Hall of Heredity, IO$ the restless little mother. "I think he feels rather I don't know but that he Don't you think it stings him to be to seem a well sort of dependent on you?" "Dependent on me! Great Caesar, mother, what do you mean? Why Os can do any thing. He" The door opened slowly and Oswald's face first appeared and then suddenly dis appeared. His mother left the room. Late that night she descended from her son's room and her eyes were red from weeping. She went softly, stealthily, to the drawer of her dressing-case and drew forth a small leather case. Then she looked for the tenth time, with her habitual nervous insecurity and trepidation, to be sure that her husband was asleep, and slipped from the room again. The next morning, Oswald, who ap peared to be in an unusually bright mood, announced that he had heard from an old school-fellow of a splendid chance to start io6 A Hall of Heredity. in business for himself, and that he had decided to go. " You can easily fill my place at the store, Ned," he said cheerily and then with a flash of gloomy fire, " any fifteen-year- old boy can do all I did." His brother began to protest, but the mother noticed the sudden dilation of the eyelids and that the left one did not match its fellow. She had never observed it so distinctly before. It gave her a shock as the sudden recognition of a facial blemish, but she tried to prevent what she feared would be another unpleasant scene. "I don't know but Osie is quite right. He If he in case he can better himself and I'm sure, Ned, you didn't mean to pre vent " " Osie is of age, now," began his father, " and " " Oh, yes, I'm of age. Why didn't you say right out that I'd better be doing some- A Hall of Heredity. 107 thing," he muttered between his teeth as he strode from the room, "Osie, Osie, my son ! You did not un derstand ! Osie don't " But the boy was gone, nor did they see him again for four months. It is true that at the end of the first week he wrote a most kind and gentle letter, making no reference at all to his strange conduct. Nor was it alluded to by any member of the family at any time thereafter. His let ters were bright and full of his new plans. Vague they were, perhaps, but interesting enough. The new enterprise promised well and he was enthusiastic. At the end of the fourth month he wrote for his sister to visit him. She went. She was somewhat surprised to find him living at a leading hotel and in most sumptuous style. She did not know of the absence of the little leather case from her mother's dressing-case drawer. " What a lot of money you must be io8 A Hall of Heredity. making, Os," she said. " I'm so glad ! Why didn't you tell us what a swell you had grown to be all of a sudden ? I " "Hush! Don't talk so loud. That man next door will hear you, and he's the very worst of all. I'm pretty sure he is at the "bottom of the whole business," he said, lowering his voice almost to a whisper and pointing to the door leading out of his room to an adjoining apartment. " What whole business, Osie ? " queried the girl eagerly, but under her breath. " I don't know what you mean." He focused his eyes upon her and an indignant light crept into them. The lids of the left one dilated strangely. His sis ter hastened to explain. " If you wrote about it to father or mother, they did not tell me. I " " Oh, well. Never mind, then. We won't talk about it," he said quickly. " But the first chance you get, you watch the clerk. The one with side whiskers, and A Hall of Heredity. 109 see if he don't tell the first middle-aged man that comes in something about me. Just you watch now and then 111 tell you all about it." After that he talked of his new enter prise, took her to see for herself how well they were doing, and introduced her to his partner. "Why, Osie," exclaimed his sister, "why didn't you tell me before that your partner was our old school-fellow ? How nice ! Why, how funny it seems to call you Mr. Townsend ! " " Don't, then," laughed the young part ner. " Call me Henry, just as you always did at school. But, dear me! I shall have to say Miss Hinsdale, for you are such a tall young lady now. Os doesn't tell me much about you home folks. How is Ned? And the rest ? Doing well, I hope ! " All this had rattled on in a merry way, when, suddenly, Oswald took his sister's I io A Hall of Heredity. arm and started toward the door, where he whispered: "Notice closely. That is what I brought you here for. Do you think Henry is all right in his head, I mean ? " "Oh, I didn't have a chance to observe," she exclaimed softly. " Why ? Do you think is there? You don't mean?" She closed her upper teeth over her full under lip and spread wide her eyes. Her brother nodded mysteriously and drew her outside. Once on the street he hastened to change the subject. He showed her the handsome buildings and various points of interest and kept steadily away, she thought, from the subject of his partner's mental affliction. She did not feel surprised at this. Oswald had grown so evasive of late she hesitated to broach the subject herself. Nothing more was said of it during her brief stay, and, indeed, her brother was so full of pleasant excursions for her enter tainment that it almost escaped her mind. A Hall of Heredity. in Their surprise at home, therefore, was great indeed, when, six months later, Os wald spoke in one of his letters of a dis solution of the partnership, and said that: " If this thing keeps up much longer, I shall leave the state. I had hoped it would not come to this, but I cannot and I will not stand the pressure any longer." The father was astonished. Mrs. Hins- dale's dismay knew no bounds, and after a serious family council it was decided that either Ned or his father should go on at once to learn what was the trouble. Evidently a letter had miscarried, they thought, for here were references to things of which they knew absolutely nothing at all. " If the partnership has come to grief, he will be awfully sensitive over it," re marked his sister, " so let's don't say a thing about " The door opened, and Oswald came hastily into the room. He appeared care- 112 A Hall of Heredity. worn and there was a strangely restless look in his eyes. The left one seemed somehow to grow less like its fellow, and yet few persons would have noticed the change. " Hello ! Os ! " exclaimed his brother, rushing at him, but he waved his hand scornfully toward Ned and went directly to his mother. "I'd like to see you alone, at once, mother," he said, and they left the room to gether. The three that were left gazed at each other in blank amazement. " He'll tell his mother all about it, no doubt. We'll have to wait," said Mr. Hins- dale, rising and leaning heavily upon the table. " Sister, you would better not wait up. It is late. Evidently Osie is in some trouble, and he has followed his letter home. It will be best for you not to see him, perhaps, to-night." The girl went softly from the room and quietly closed her own door, that she A Hall of Heredity. 113 might not hear what was said by the rather excited voice of her brother as he paced the floor and talked with his mother in his own room, next to hers. When she had left the library, Ned walked over to where his father stood, and, touching the hand that bore tremblingly on the table, said gently : "Father, I'm afraid we are both think ing the same sad thought and dreading the same awful calamity. Did you did you happen to notice his eyes?" " Yes ! My God, Ned, have you thought of it, too ! " said the unhappy father as he sank into a chair and covered his face with his hands. " But it is impossible ! Impos sible! There has never been anything of the kind in the family and he is the bright est of us all." II. The following day, Ned and his father called upon a friend who was also a physi- 114 A HzM f cian. They talked in a general and vague way of mental disturbance. They put a hypothetical case and the physician inter rupted them before they were half through, with "Yes, yes, I can tell you all the rest without another clue. The patient's parents were nervous, senemic people. One or both was indeterminate of character, and appre hensive of forfeiting the good opinion of somebody or everybody. Was conventional of conduct for that reason. The patient began life with brilliant promise was pre cocious the pride of the family. May have been most likely was a genius in some respects. Look here," he exclaimed, rising and taking from a well-filled cabinet a strange, grotesque, but elaborately executed piece of wood-carving, "that was done by just such a man as you describe. He was my patient, and a gifted fellow. If he had only been looked after soon enough he might have been saved, but" - A Hall of Heredity. 1 1 5 " Saved ! " exclaimed Mr. Hinsdale. " Saved ! How do you mean ? " " Oh, if when he began to be precocious he had been taken from school, turned loose in the country, not allowed to use his over-stimulated, unequally formed and un equally developed brain. If but what's the use talking? What's the use of it? His parents would have resented such a suggestion bitterly; those who are physi cally and mentally in a condition to bring such children into the world always do, until it is too late. That mental and physi cal condition in them is the very thing that in the next generation takes the other turn. They'd think a doctor a fool who hinted that their brilliant little Johnny was not all right," he added, laughing. " Oh, no, my friends, mental students look behind the patient to find the 'unseen hands that long ago were dust/ perhaps, which push or turn the mental machinery n6 A Hall of Heredity. that has gone wrong, openly, for the first time in this generation, maybe." He had replaced the carving on its shelf, but was still looking at it. The two guests sat silent, each absorbed in his own thought. Presently the doctor resumed: "To my mind and eye that work is of the same type as that of Gustave Dore. There is mental chaos intellectual distor tion combined with great powers of imagi nation. Something has saved Dore", but my poor fellow ran the usual course and died the victim of his own delusions. But, see here, we are waxing gloomy. Are you going out to the races this afternoon? No? Well, I am. I love a good horse next to my children and I'm going to see the trot. Wish you'd take the other seat, Ned. Come along! Must you go so soon? Sorry. Well, drop in again. I'm seldom busy at this hour. It is my resting time, and I don't see patients only friends. Good-by." Neither father nor son spoke as they A Hall of Heredity. 117 walked toward home. Each had a terrible weight upon his heart and each dreaded to hear the other confess it. Finally, Ned said in a tone hardly audible: "Some of the symptoms he described are not do not I have never seen." The father groaned, but did not reply. When they entered the house, Oswald sat by the window, morose and sullen. "They have been talking about me," he said to his mother as he saw them ap proach. " I know. And I believe Ned's at the bottom of this whole infernal business. But I'll show him! I'll leave the country- I" His mother began hastily to talk of other things, and at that moment the hus band and son entered. "Hello, Osie," said Ned cheerily. "How'd you like to go to the races this afternoon? Dr. White invited me and I can't go. I'm sure he'd like to have you, and you're so fond of horses, Shall I" 1 1 8 A Hall of Heredity. " No, you shan't. I know your tricks 1 don't go to any races, with your doctor. You're a couple of" "Osie! Osie!" exclaimed his mother. His father stepped up to him and laid a tender, trembling hand upon his arm. "My son, Ned was only trying to give you a pleasure. He I we"- The father's voice trembled, and at that moment, Ned, with a little sob in his throat, led his mother from the room. Oswald seemed to have forgotten his irritation instantly and began to chat pleas antly, but there was an ever-changing dila tion and shifting of the eyes that fixed his father's gaze and made his thoughts trou bled and anxious. But when, on the following evening, Os wald appeared at a brilliant ball given by his cousin Hortense, in honor of his return, and when he was the admiration and envy of all the young men of his set, because of the warmth of devotion which he very evi- A Hall of Heredity. 119 dently aroused in the bosom of that young lady's guest and friend, Elinor Maitland, his father's anxiety subsided a little and he said to Ned, upon their return from the ball: " I guess, after all, we were unduly dis turbed, Ned. He has simply been left too much alone and has grown morbid and al lowed his quick temper to master him." And Ned responded, with a new quality of happiness in his voice: "I guess there is no doubt of it, bless him! And didn't you think, father, that Miss Elinor took a decided interest in him? Wouldn't that be splendid? She'd make a man of him, if any one could and a fellow could hardly be ugly tempered with her" he added, a bit defensively and with just a hint of apology toward the girl in his voice. III. But Oswald's restless spirit urged him to embark in another enterprise. He would I2O A Hall of Heredity. have moments of despair, when he remem bered that all of the contents of his mother's little leather case had gone to satisfy the demands of the hotel where he had lived so lavishly. Then he would lapse into resentment against "the clerk with the side whiskers" who had received the money. Once he hinted at very dark things about this clerk, and his mother essayed to learn what the exact grievance was, but failed. She thought it quite likely some affair between young men that even her little Oswald did not wish to confide to her. She always thought of this stalwart fellow as her lit tle Oswald. She remembered, so well, and so sadly, the time when he first lay in hei arms. Over him there had been a sort of reconciliation with her husband. Not that there had ever been an open break between them ; but there had been sad, bitter months for both. The unreasoning and unreasonable jealousy and suspicion of A Hall of Heredity. 1 2 1 the young husband had made her life dur ing that past year one of exquisite an guish. From being a frank, open girl, she had learned to hedge in all she did and said. She had grown careful of her glances and of her speech. She knew, full well, *r- that under his placid and seemingly com pliant demeanor, her husband's eye was upon her with ever an idea of treachery toward him, with always a suspicion if she but smiled upon another gentleman, or spoke in his favor, that there probably was back of her smile or light word more that he did not know. When the young wife first awoke to this fact she was wretched beyond words. She resented it bitterly, but by degrees she had grown weary of the eternal con test, and learned to evade all appearance of interest in even the male members of her own family. Partly in scorn, and partly in sheer weariness of soul, she had gradually learned to hedge against all 122 A Hall of Heredity. shadow of suspicion. This was all so very long ago now. With ripening years and wisdom her husband had almost outgrown his jealous watchfulness; but she thought of it now, and of how the little Oswald had brought to her the first words of shame and repentance from her husband's lips. She remembered how he had then reproached himself and said that he had been an " old fool." She recalled with what high hopes she had accepted all he said, and, burning the past behind them and drenching its grave with their tears, she had held the little peacemaker close to her heart and sunk into a restful sleep. Poor little peacemaker! A crisis had now come in his life, and his mother wondered, vaguely, if she would be able to bridge the dark river for him as he had done in his unconscious infancy for her. " Osie, dear," she said, " I have no more money. You know I had saved that in all the past years. Your father never A Hall of Heredity. 123 knew I had it. But I tell you what I will do. I have been thinking. If if" " You needn't throw it up to me ! I'll pay you back ! You know very well you forced me to take it ! I'd rather owe somebody else ! I " He had slammed the door behind him, but the flash in his eyes had stung his mother more even than had his bitter words. Her head sank slowly on her folded arms as they lay on the library table, and a bitter groan escaped her white lips. The boy had always spoken kindly to her. He had grown bitter and sucpicious first toward one, then another, and finally toward almost all others. But until now she had been spared this final blow. She did not move. Her daughter en tered with a cheery " Oh, mamma, did you " The girl stopped suddenly, and, with a finger to her lips, tiptoed from the room. 124 -A Hall of Heredity. " Mamma has fallen asleep," she said to herself. " Blessed little mamma ! She has looked so anxious and sad lately. It must be something about Osie, but they do not tell me. Osie is cross and ugly. I think papa has scolded him. He whis pered to me yesterday that papa was at the bottom of it all. When I asked what, he looked at me angrily and said that I knew very well. But I don't. I don't know at all. Elinor is the only one he does not seem to feel hurt at. Oh!" she exclaimed softly to herself, when a sud den light came into her face. "I've solved the whole mystery, I do believe. Papa thinks he's too young to marry, and should wait until he is established in business, and he resents it ! Oh, I see ! " She tapped her slippered foot on the rug and drew her eyelids down. She was thinking out a plan to help Oswald. Meantime, in the room below, Mrs. Hins- dale sat thinking, thinking, thinking, if a A Hall of Heredity. 125 mere whirl of chaotic mental pain may be called thought. Her heart was sore and bruised and an awful light was slowly dawning upon her. Until now her heart had held full sway. To-day her head poor, tired, troubled, never very clear or exact head, wholly unaccustomed to grapple with problems not in her "woman's sphere" was beginning to take a part. " It cannot, it must not be too late ! " she said, rising unsteadily from her chair. " Great God ! forgive us all ! We have been so blind, so blind, so blind ! " She raised her hands pleadingly above her head and closed her eyes, but the tears streamed down her sad, blanched face, from beneath the trembling lids. At last she slipped to the floor upon her knees and with outstretched arms and streaming eyes called out into space, "God help us! God help us ! It must not be too late ! " 126 A Hall of Heredity. IV. That night Oswald did not come home. He had but little money with him, and when another day passed and still he did not return, the, family talked for the first time openly of their secret, serious fears. Florence alone was excluded from the coun cil. She had gone to see Elinor that af ternoon, and asked if Oswald had been there since the previous day. She had done it quite incidentally and with a de sire not to appear anxious. Elinor laughed a little nervously, but said he had spent "a few minutes with her just before he took the train." Flor ence had not asked what train. She was too proud to let her friend know that he had left home in anger. Days passed and no news came from the wanderer. At the end of the week the mother could bear it no longer. She went to Elinor Maitland herself. She had A Hall of Heredity. 127 thought she would be perfectly calm, and lead the girl quite naturally to talk of the boy they both loved. But when she saw Elinor's pale face she asked, quite without prelude, as she drew the tall young form to a seat beside her : "Have you heard from Oswald, dear?" The girl's eyes opened wide with ques tioning fear. Mrs. Hinsdale felt that her hand trembled. " No," she said, in a scarcely audible voice, with her eyes now upon the floor. "Oh, Elinor, Elinor!" said the mother, wild with fear for her son, "did he did you ? You didn't discard him, dear ! You hold my boy's life more than his life in your hands! He has talked of you to me ! Elinor, dear ! " She slipped to her knees beside the girl and clasped her hands. " For God's sake, Elinor, help us save our boy ! " Elinor's face was as white as stone. It seemed to her that her heart would break; 128 A Hall of Heredity. but no tears came. Her brain was hot and it refused to think. At last she took the streaming face before her, in her young strong arms, and kissed it reverently. " Mother ! " she whispered, and then the hot blood rushed to her cheeks. "Mother, we did not quarrel. He said I must go with him and I could not do that. Then he" she paused and bit her lip. Tears stood in her eyes for the first time. Mrs. Hinsdale tightened her grasp upon the girl's waist and pressed her own face hot with shame against Elinor's heaving breast. There was a long silence. "I cannot tell you, mother," whispered she softly. Mrs. Hinsdale lifted her eyes to the girl's face. "He did not ?" Her eyes dropped again. Elinor shivered. "He tried to stab himself and and I took the knife from him. He" Mrs. Hinsdale was sobbing violently. A Hall of Heredity. 129 "Why didn't you go with him, dear? Why did you let him go alone like that? When he was so desperate? Why?" The girl's eyes dilated again. She was staring at the older woman in dismay; but she could form no word in reply. At last she said, as if in self-defence: "I I was afraid of him. He looked so strangely. His eyes " she shivered "his eyes frightened me. I thought he had quarreled with you. He spoke so bit terly" She checked herself and stroking the silver hair of her companion, resumed quickly : " He had always so adored you. He always talked of you more than of anything else. He" The door flew suddenly open and with a quick stride Oswald stood over the pair. They were paralyzed by his face. It was hard and set, and filled with a demon's fire, with his left hand he grasped his mother's shoulder. " Ah ! " he sneered bitterly, " I have at 130 A Hall of Heredity. last discovered the whole damnable plot, have I ? It is you two precious she devils who have made all the trouble concocted all- the schemes from the first was it?" he shouted, with the force and power of a maniac, and before the half-fainting pair could move he had fired a fatal shot. His mother lay on the floor with a cruel wound in her breast. Elinor had sprung to her feet. She ran screaming from the room. The bullet that followed her buried itself in the stair- way beyond. When the butler and house-man en tered, an instant later, Oswald stood with the smoking weapon in his hand, gazing with profound satisfaction upon the slowly relaxing features of his mother. "You will see," he remarked quite coolly, "that justice is not wholly a thing of the past and God still avenges his own. She posed as my mother; but there lies the middle-aged gentleman who talked about A Hall of Heredity. 131 me to the clerk with the side whiskers. That is why I had to leave the hotel. And he had the impudence to come here and put his arms around Elinor! I shot him and I suppose if some other compli cation doesn't turn up that the whole in fernal conspiracy is at an end. Now I shall be able to sleep." " Yes, you'll have a damned good chance to sleep," responded the policeman who led him away. I'd advise you to begin as soon as you get to the calaboose." But Os wald appeared not to hear him, and strode on, quite docilely, towards the living death that awaited him. He had not felt so light and happy since he could remember. He had at last achieved an end! " He's a workin' the insanity racket," scornfully remarked the roundsman, "but he's altogether too clear-headed on other subjects. He's lived here, man and boy, too long for that sort of guff to go down. 132 A Hall of Heredity. Always was smart. Always was wo'thless, an' always was stuck up." "Guess he'll get a chance t' monkey with one mechanical appliance that he can't manage," responded the Chief, glancing at a large picture of an electrical chair that hung on the office wall. Whether it hung there for edification or for adornment, the Chief would have been puzzled to state. V. The medical experts differed. Those for the defence found him undoubtedly insane. Those for the prosecution were equally sure that Oswald Hinsdale was mentally respon sible. The high character of all of these gentlemen precluded the possibility that they were influenced by ulterior motives. Their professional ability excluded all belief, in the public mind, that they could be mistaken. The Prosecution proved that there had never been a case of insanity in the family. A Hall of Heredity. 133 The jury was perplexed. The judge un easy. Only the prisoner was serene. His conduct told strongly against him. He in sisted that he would do the same deed over if he were given the chance. He wrote pages upon pages of comments many of them shrewd and witty upon the different features of the trial. He drew humorous sketches of the members of the jury. One of the newspapers published some of these caricatures and commented upon their great cleverness. The night of his conviction, after he had gone back to his cell, he asked the keeper to let him see the picture of the electrical chair. He studied all of its points with care and attention, and expressed a conviction that he could improve upon its construction, and flew into a passion be cause he was not allowed a knife with which to whittle out a working model upon which he could prove the superiority of his design. 134 A Hall of Heredity. The following morning the keeper re marked to the warden with a shake of the head, " I'm stumped. About half the time I think he's shammin', an' the other half 't looks as if he was sort of pushed by un seen hands and worked kind of mechanical- like. I kinder wish they had a sent him up fer life, 'nstead of what they did." The warden glanced up with a sneer, ing smile : "Gettin* chicken hearted, ain't you, Jerry? What's t" hinder the doctors from knowin' it if he was looney? Hey?" "Well, half of 'em said he wus," re marked Jerry, as he withdrew, "an* I don't know who's t' make sure that the jury didn't pin their faith to the wrong half. But it ain't none o' my funerile an' I wisht it wasn't his'n," he added, as he yielded his place to the relief watch. THAT REMINDS ME OF"- "How short a time since this whole nation rose every morning to read or hear the traits of courage of its sons and brothers in the field, and was never weary of the theme ! .... I am much mistak en if every man who went to the army, had not a lively curiosity to know how he should behave in action Each whispers to himself : ' My exertions must be of small account on the result ; only will the benignant Heaven save me from dis gracing myself and my friends and my State. Die! Oh, yes, I can die ; but I cannot afford to misbehave ; and I do not know how I shall feel.' " EMERSON. "THAT REMINDS ME OF"- ( 4 ^ I ^HERE are several kinds of courage as well as of cowardice," said the old soldier who was promoted from the ranks for conspicuous bravery on the field of Shiloh. "Now, there was the case of our order ly. When we were enlisted he was made orderly because of his fine figure and so cial position. He was a good fellow, too, and a leader in our athletic club, fond of hunting, and a good marksman; and none of us who were merely privates envied him. But he disappeared from view dur ing our first skirmish, and did not report until a day after the battle. We thought he had been captured or killed. When he put in an appearance at camp again, he said that just as the first guns had been 140 "That Reminds Me Of"- fired he had a dreadful attack of cramps, and had lain ever since all but dead in the strip of woods that skirted the battle field. " Some of us had our suspicions, of course, but we kept them to ourselves, and it is only fair to say that we felt a little ashamed of ourselves for harboring thoughts that were dishonoring to our handsome young orderly. " Well, everything went along as usual until the next engagement. It was a good deal of a battle, you know Shiloh." Everyone smiled at the modesty of his expression and seemed to think it was a good deal of a battle at Shiloh. " I'm free to confess that our whole command wavered. There was an impulse to turn and run when the deadly fire opened on us most of us were boys, then. But in an instant that subtle influ ence that is felt all along the line when an officer's voice rings out clear and bold "That Reminds Me Of"- 141 stemmed the pulse-beat that swept along the front rank, and we closed up and marched steadily into the hell of rifle and cannon that waited for us. " Perhaps you don't know that I was on what you call the wrong side the Southern side. Well, I was. It is neither here nor there how that came about; for I only started in, this time, to tell a lit tle thing about courage, and ask what you think of it and I don't suppose you will think that courage is of a different qual ity because it happened to be Confederate. " At any rate, you won't think so if any of you were soldiers," he added, laugh ing softly. There was a murmur of assent from the tall man in the corner, who did not use his title, although he had earned it as a union volunteer, and risen from the ranks until he was a staff officer, with the eagle on his shoulder. " Nobody who faced you questions the 142 "That Reminds Me Of"- quality of your bravery," came from the serene artist, who served all through the war as an undistinguished Low Private so he said. His rough exterior and the tenderness of his heart had won the love of all who knew him, and the exquisite delicacy of artistic conception and touch had, for years now, placed his name high on the ladder of fame. No one else spoke, and the Confed erate went on. " Well, of course, we had no time to think whether our orderly was there or not, until the battle was all over. Then we began to inquire among ourselves and found that no one had seen him since the firing began. " Somebody suggested cramps again, but we were not at all sure that he had not been killed, so we dropped it, as peo ple do such chaffing in the face of death. " Well, now, you'd hardly believe that that fellow actually reported two days af- "That Reminds Me Of 1 - 143 ter the battle, with exactly the same old excuse. Of course he was degraded to the ranks, and put on what we called Miss Nancy duty. That is, he had no gun at all, and it was his duty simply to carry the wounded off the field, after the battle was over, or stay behind the lines and give relief to those who crawled back, wounded. "He was never called anything else but old Cholera Morbus and, by gad, he had the courage to stay and take it ! "But that is not all though I think that required more grit than I'd have had. But this I'm coming to is what I started to tell. Just the minute he found himself in that position a disgraced, dis honored, and disarmed soldier he sudden ly developed a grade of courage that fair ly made your heart stand still. He never once stayed behind the ranks. He would walk right out in front, where he was just as likely to be shot by us as by the 144 "That Reminds Me Of"- Yankees, and rescue a comrade who had fallen, and take him back where, in case of a charge, he wouldn't be trampled. "I've seen him do it fifty times, and, if one of the men, who were detailed to help him wouldn't go along, by George, he'd go alone, and struggle back with his burden, covering the wounded man the best he could with his own body. I saw him do it once or twice when I don't be lieve I could have forced myself up to such an act of foolhardy heroism if it had been to save my life. It was almost cer tain death, and he must have known it perfectly well, for, as I say, he had none of the excitement and mental occupation of moving with large numbers, and he hadn't even a revolver or any means of defence. By gad ! I don't know how he ever did it ! " "Don't you think he was trying to re trieve his reputation?" drawled the artistic "That Reminds Me Of"- 145 Low Private, " and hoped thereby to be restored to the ranks ? " " Well, sir," responded the Confederate, slowly, " we all had that idea the first few times we saw him do it, and we kept on calling him old Cholera Morbus; but after he'd kept it up for over a year our colonel had him transferred to a reg iment where his record and sobriquet were not known. The colonel said in his hear ing, to his new commander, that he had been so conspicuously brave when detailed to do relief work, that it was hoped and believed that he would rise from the ranks in a short time. " Well, sir, the minute that man was given a gun again, and put in the ranks, with a chance to defend himself, and to have the aid and inspiration that numbers would give, he " "Not cramps again?" queried the tall colonel, with an incredulous laugh. " As true as there is a God in heaven, 146 "That Reminds Me <?/"- he did that very thing! That is to say, when the battle was over he turned up with that excuse again. " Now, how would you explain that ? If it was lack of courage how do you account for his extraordinary and wholly unnecessary and unasked-for courage the moment he had no arms, and was at the mercy of both lines of battle ? "It has always puzzled me, and I used to look at the fellow with feelings little short of awe. It was the strangest study I ever saw, in courage. Did either of you ever see a case to beat it ? " he asked, looking from the tall colonel to the artistic Low Private. The latter named gentleman shook his head. "I don't know that I ever did," he said, thoughtfully. " But we had a funny case in our company. He was a sort of half witted creature with defective vocal organs. I think he'd lost part of the roof of his u T/iat Reminds Me Of" 147 mouth, or his palate, or something. Any how, he talked the queerest you ever heard. Sounded like a duck quacking. No, not like that, either. Talked 'nis wa'," said the Low Private, twisting his mouth to one side and making queer, guttural, roofless, unspellable sounds. " His name was Christian. He was the biggest fool about some things that I ever saw. He had an old flint-lock gun that he thought the world and all of and he used to keep it polished up so bright that you could see your face in it. He polished it with a strap. He'd hold the old flinter be tween his knees, and rub that strap back and forth, back and forth, as swift as light ning, until the barrel would be fairly hot, and it would look like a mirror. Of course, he was not a regular soldier, but he was a good cook and did chores, and we made a sort of a pet and butt of him. Every body liked him and joked with him. All the time he was not otherwise engaged he 148 "That Reminds Me Of"- would be sitting behind his tent polishing his old flint-lock. We used to offer to swop guns with him, but he wouldn't trade for the best Enfield ever made. When we marched he'd teeter along with that darned old flint-lock over his shoulder shining like burnished silver. Of course, the boys used to steal it and leave a good gun in its place; but the first time we tried it, Chris tian cried like a baby until we made the joker give it back, and the second time, by gad, he showed fight and the comical part about it was he was going to lick the man who hooked it the first time, and he didn't know anything about who had it this time. "But all that is only to give you an idea of the sort of chap Christian was before I came to his feat of courage or whatever you might call it. It goes without saying that he was never allowed in a battle ; but at Vicksburg he broke loose, as the boys always said, and got in the fight all on his own hook. "That Reminds Me Of 149 " Of course, after the firing begins in ear nest, it is so constant that it is only a whir and a buzz, and you don't distinguish the noise of your own gun from that of all the rest. Well, sir, we all had an idea that if Christian ever did undertake to discharge his gun, some of us would fall, sure. We thought the old thing would explode, so we never gave him any ammunition. " Somehow or other, he got some. He told us he took it off a 'dead Reb,' and I don't doubt that he did. Anyway, he got a good big supply, and some of the boys saw him loading away and taking aim at a lively rate. He was right up with the line, and the men who saw him had no chance to stop him. Then, when the old flinter didn't explode, they concluded it was all right, and forgot all about Christian and his shiny gun. "Toward night, as the firing ceased only as stray shots here and there warned us to lay low after we had fallen back for 150 " That Reminds Me Of- the night some of us saw that darned fool away out between the lines, sitting down on the ground beside a dead man. And what do you suppose he was doing?" "Polishing his gun!" suggested the Con federate, laughing! "No, not exactly," said the Artistic Low Private, stooping over to illustrate his reply, "but it wasn't far from it. Here lay the dead man with a splendid new Enfield rifle beside him, and here sat that fool Chris tian, and you must remember that sharp shooters and straggling men were popping away pretty steadily, picking off every head that showed itself out of cover. The dust would spat up all about him as if handsful of beans were thrown about him on the ground. You know how that is. " Well, there he sat, cross-legged, tugging away for dear life at the strap on the En- field. He undid that strap which was new and then took off his old one and threw it over the dead man's arm. Then, he de- "That Reminds Me Of" 151 liberately buckled the new strap onto his old flinter, got up, shouldered it and waddled back to our lines. The bullets were just whizzing past him all the time. " He didn't get a scratch. When we got a chance, we examined his gun, and, by Jove, it was loaded nearly to the muzzle. He'd loaded it every time, bat he hadn't fired it once." "If he had, there would have been a wide vacancy in your ranks," remarked the Confederate, laughing. "I guess there's no doubt about that, but, they do say, the ' Lord takes care of children and fools,'" replied the Artist, gravely. "Which would you call the men who stood around your patriot with the sur charged blunderbuss?" queried the tall colo nel, drily." Everyone laughed. "It's a fact, I hadn't thought of that," assented the Artist, dreamily. " But, what I 152 "That Reminds Me Of"- started out to ask was, What do you think of the courage of that donkey who calmly sat there and undid and refastened that strap? He knew enough to know he was being shot at, and, two or three times, he stopped an instant in his work, and, shak ing his fist at the enemy, remarked: <Dod blast ye! I'm agoin' t' hav' nis new snrap er bust. Dod blast ye! Shoon away,' and, when he got good and ready, he shoul dered his old surcharged blunderbuss and walked off the field like a drum-major on dress parade. I've always wondered what the Rebs thought of it. Of course, they couldn't know what he was doing, nor that he was a sort of a looney. They must have thought he was a demi-god of courage, who bore a charmed life. Yes, courage is a queer thing, and is displayed in strange ways. Sometimes, you have it and some times you don't. I wasn't as scared all the time I was in the army as I was one day in Paris, when one of the young devils "That Reminds Me Of"- 153 in the studio put a live bull frog into my coat pocket, and I put my hand in, on it. I nearly had a fit. I was scared almost to death. Yes, indeed, courage is a queer thing and takes freaks in all of us, I guess." "Speaking of that reminds me of a case in our" began the tall colonel. But at that moment, a lady at the piano dashed into a lively air, and the colonel's story is yet to be told. HIS MOTHER'S BOY. "Ye noticed Polly, the baby? A month afore she was born, Cicely, my old woman, was moody-like and forlorn; Out of her head and crazy, and talked of flowers and trees: Family man yourself, sir? Well, you know what a woman be's. Narvous she was, and restless said that she 'couldn't stay.' Stay and the nearest woman seventeen miles away! One night the tenth of October I woke with a chill and fright, For the door it was standing open, and Cicely warn't in sight; But a note was pinned to the blanket, which it said that she 'couldn't stay,' But had gone to visit a neighbor seventeen miles away! I've had some mighty mean moments afore I kern to this spot Lost on the plains in '50, drownded almost, and shot; But out on this alkali desert, a hunting a crazy wife, Was ra'ly as on-satis-factory as anything in my life." BRET HARTE. "Men are what their mothers made them." EMERSON. HIS MOTHER'S BOY. "\ A 7"E were sitting in my library with the light turned very low. He was my guest under rather sad and trying circumstances, for, in the adjoining room lay a little body, bandaged, and unconscious; and he, my guest, was the child's brother and guardian. Until to-day we were stran gers, but he had arrived, an hour before, in response to my telegram. I had sent the message the moment I discovered his ad dress, by reading a kind and tender letter, which was taken by the police from the little lad's pocket when he was shot. On the strength of that letter, I had kept the boy at my own house, instead of sending him to the hospital. Everything it was possible to do had been done for him; but he had, as yet, never regained 160 His Mother's Boy. consciousness. Notwithstanding this fact, he had twice dragged his weak body from the bed, and attempted to leave the house. He seemed unhappy, only because he could not "go somewhere," as he expressed it, in his mum bled, broken utterance. I supposed that his mind had been so impressed by a journey he was to take, that even in his delirium he could not forget it, and was trying to push ahead. I was telling his brother this, as we sat in the darkened library and talked over the case in subdued tones. What I told him was what I now tell you. I had been driv ing with my wife through the streets of Albany, when we came suddenly upon an excited crowd of men, women, and children. There had been, a few minutes before, a col lision between the Pinkerton men and a body of railroad strikers. There lay on the ground two men, a woman, and this boy. The police were driving the maddened crowd back. One of the officers mistook me for my brother, who is a hospital surgeon, His Mother's Boy. 161 and asked me to look after the child. He was such a delicate looking little fellow, so well dressed, and so evidently did not be long to anyone present, that my wife in sisted that he be laid in our carriage and driven to our home until his parents could be notified. This was done. An officer went with us, and when we had put the child to bed, while we awaited the coming of the doctor, we searched his pockets and found the letter referred to. It began: "My dear little brother," and ended "your devoted brother, Walter." At first I did not see the clue this gave, but the envelope was addressed to Master Ralph Travers, and had been written in Maiden, Mass., but there was no postmark. It was an old letter, too, so that it was not certain that it would be of much use to us. However, we decided to send a telegram at once to Mr. Walter Travers at Maiden, and say that his little brother was seriously hurt and was apparently alone. I did this. 1 62 His Mother s Boy. The reply came promptly. "I shall come at once. Watch him closely, or he will escape." I looked at the little chap with renewed in terest " Escape ! " I thought, and could hardly repress a smile. It seemed such an absurd word to apply to him. After his wounds for he had received a scalp wound from a stone or club, as well as the bullet in his shoulder had been dressed, and we had done all we could for him, we left him alone in the room, hoping he might sleep. We heard his voice, and listened, and looked. He was talking about "going," and later on he struggled to his feet, and I had to lay him down again. While we were out of the room another time, he had gone as far as the hall door, and had fallen from weakness. Then I began to think perhaps he had been insane, and that the word "escape" was used by his brother for that reason. From that moment we did not leave him alone an instant until his brother came. His Mother's Boy. 163 I did what I could to relieve my guest's natural anxiety about the little fellow. He sat for a long time by the bed, after looking with approval at the bandages and medicines. "I am a doctor, myself," he said simply in explanation. "Oh, that is good," I replied. "I hope you find everything right." "I do indeed, and how can I thank you? It was You were very, very kind. I" His feelings overcame him. He stooped and kissed the pale face, and then turned to me, and took my hand in both of his own and drew me toward the door. Once outside he said, "You will under stand. I cannot talk of it now. He is very dear to me, and I am all he has in the world, poor little fellow." He spoke as if the child were in some way afflicted, and I thought again of the word "escape," "Your emotion is perfectly natural, I am sure," I said. "We did nothing. He is a 164 His MotJters Boy. pretty boy, and we liked to feel that he would prefer to wake up when that time comes in a place that would seem more like home than a hospital ward." The doctor pressed my hand again, and sat down by the library table. "Tell me all about it, please all," he said presently. I did so. "You wonder how he happened to be here alone, and why I asked you to watch him," he said when I had finished. "You will have to let me tell you a long story; for without a theory I have, I could not ex plain to you either the why, or the how. Even with the theory, I am puzzled still. Perhaps you can help me unravel the mystery and advise me for the future. You are older than I. I am not quite thirty, and if the poor little fellow pulls through this, I have still a strange and unknown road to pilot him over." He sat silent for a moment, and looked His Mother s Boy. 165 out into the street through the parted cur tains, in front of him. My wife entered, and went softly into the sick-room. "I should like to hear the story," I said, still vaguely uncomfortable, but with renewed confidence in the man, who wrote his little brother the letter I had read, and who seemed now so tender and thoughtful. He began in a low voice, with his eyes fixed on the street beyond : "When my father brought my pretty young step-mother home, I was prepared to be, if not exactly unfriendly, at least ready to become so upon very slight grounds. I had heard, here and there, as all children do, the hints and flings which prepare their minds for hostile feeling toward the new-comer who may be, and often is, wiser, kinder, and more loving than was the one whose place she has come to fill." I was glad my wife had gone into the sick-room. This was a sore point with her. I hoped that she had not heard him. 1 66 His Matters Boy. "But most of us, old and young, take our opinions receive our entire mental out look from others. That which we hear often becomes to our receptive minds a part of our mental equipment, and we seri ously believe that we are stating our own thoughts and opinions, when, in nine cases out of ten, we are doing nothing of the kind. Frequency of iteration passes as proof, and we are saddled, before we know it, with a thousand prejudices and assump tions that we have neither originated nor understood, an investigation into whose bear ings would not only result, in many cases, in an entire revolution of opinion, but would disturb the basis of many a hoary belief, and right many a cruel injustice." He paused. I bowed assent, and he went on. "I supposed that step-mothers were ne cessarily a very undesirable acquisition in any family, and this well-established theory was so firmly rooted in what I believed His Mother s Boy. 167 to be my mind, that nothing short cf the love and devotion I had for my father enabled me to receive his pretty bride with even a show of cordiality. "I can see now what a strain it must all have been for her. To come among strangers all of whom were curious and none of whom excelled in either wisdom or charity having just entered that strange and winding path called matrimony, with the usual blindness to its meaning with which it is the fashion to invest the one to whom it must always mean much of sorrow, and more of responsibility. "To tread such a path without striking one's feet against the thorns of individu ality, and tearing one's hands with the thistles of rudely awakened ignorance, must be very difficult ; but add to this the fact that my young step-mother would have no friendly faces about her, to which she was accustomed, that there were none of her own kindred, and none of her culture and 1 68 His MotJurs Boy. training to whom she might go to unbur den her heart or ask advice ; and then add to this, also, the fact that her new position involved the wisdom to guide and the patience to win the love of others be side my father, and you will be able to understand something, perhaps, of what I shall tell you of her conduct and its un happy results as I am convinced upon my little brother. " Her constant self-denial, and heroic efforts to live for others, and to sacrifice herself, was, I am satisfied, the sole cause of the strange, sad, developments that grew to be so puzzling in the character of her child. Nature is a terrible antagonist. You may refuse her demands and stran gle her needs to-day ; but to-morrow she will be avenged. The saddest part of this sad fact to me is this: She is too often avenged upon those who are helpless upon those who come after. " I was a lad of seventeen when my His Mother's Boy. 169 new mother came, and I was no better and no worse than the average unthink ing youth. I had been trained to be a gentleman, always, toward women, and I hope that I sustained my reputation in my conduct towards my father's wife. She was pretty, too, unusually pretty, and that helped a good deal. It is always easier to be polite to a pretty woman than to one who is lacking in the one thing upon which to the shame of the race be it said womanhood has been valued." I looked up again and smiled. He turned his face to meet my eyes for the first time since he began, and a rather sarcastic smile lit his own somewhat som ber features as he went on. " It is quite as easy for me now, as a practicing physician, to be attentive to and interested in a homely man or boy as in one who has regular features and fine teeth ; but it is equally true that this is not the case with women and girls. I 170 His Mothers Boy. trust that I have always done my profes sional duty in any case; but I have done it with pleasure that was real and inter est that was constant, I am sure, far more frequently when the patient has been a woman of beauty. " It is not an element which enters into the treatment of my male patients." " Naturally," I assented, still smiling, and he turned toward the window again, and his usual gravity returned. " But all this is a digression only in so far as it may serve to illustrate the indubitable fact that to use a gaming ex pression my step-mother played her high est trump card upon my susceptible, boyish nature, when she stepped from the car riage, and I saw that she was fair to look upon. I made up my mind at once that she should never know that I was sorry she had come, and I did what I could to carry out the resolve. " But for all that she did know it. His Mother's Boy. 171 Her whole attitude toward me was one of apology and conciliation, and my father saw and seeing, alas ! approved. "I am sorry to be compelled to say this, for my father was, in the main, a thoughtful and humane man, and certainly he had no wish to humiliate or harass his young wife. He thought her conduct quite natural and quite commendable. It looked so to me, also, at that time. This being the case, you will readily see how it came about that she, point by point, and step by step, yielded up her own individuality upon the altar of our egoism and made it her duty and I still hope it was in a measure her pleasure, also to minister to us and to repress whatever stirrings of per sonal opinion, desire, or preference she may have had. "At first, I remember, she would gaze silently, for long period*, out of the win dow, and sigh. One day she said to me : ' Walter, did you ever have an intense 172 His Mothers Boy. longing to get away somewhere? Any where ? ' " I can't say that I ever had, Saint Katherine," I replied, using the name she had asked me to join my father in apply ing to her. It was the second time I had ventured to so address her, notwithstand ing her request, and the other time it had been used with my father's sportive inflec tion. That day, however, her sad face and strange question had made me fear that some one had wounded her, and I instinct ively used the name with a kind and gen tle tone in my voice. " She turned from the window, and faced me. Her lips parted and closed again. Suddenly there were tears in her eyes, and she said, with a trembling lip : " ' Why, Walter, you are beginning to like me, after all ! I ' " She stopped to steady herself, and I, young brute that I was, laughed. I was sorry a moment later, but I had not un- His Mothers Boy. 173 derstood her mood, and so my own had cut across it harshly. She had turned her face to the window again, and I stepped to her side. I was too young, and awk ward to know just what to say to retrieve myself, so I took her hand in my own and lifted it to my lips, as I had so often seen my father do. She did not move we were both silent for a long time. At last I said, having whipped myself up to it: " You are a saint, Katherine, and I was a brute to laugh. I I didn't mean to hurt you. I" " She threw her arms about my neck, and sobbed like a child. It was the first time I had ever seen a woman weep. I was almost as tall then as I am now, and she was shorter by half a head than I. For the first time in my life I began to feel that perhaps father and I were not the only persons in the household who should be considered. I am bound to say that 174 His Mothers Boy. my thought was very vague, and that it took scant root, for her emotion touched my sympathy, and I had all I could do to keep back the tears myself. "At that age, I should have looked upon it as very unmanly to weep, and so I exerted all the little brain I had command of, to keep down my very natural emotion." He paused, but I ventured to make no remark, and he began again ; " I think she mistook my silence she was but a few years older than I and so she straightened herself up, and without another word left the room. But I bore you," he said, breaking off abruptly. "Not at all, not at all. I am intensely interested. Go on." He looked at me, and was sure of my earnestness, then his voice resumed the same gently reflective tone again; "She did not come down to dinner that night, and father only remarked that she said her head ached. I felt guilty, I His Mother's Boy. 175 did not know why, or what about; but somehow I felt that instead of helping things on, by an attempt to be more friendly, my step-mother and I had suc ceeded in rendering the home atmosphere even less clear and bright than it was before. " And so it was. She attempted no farther confidences with me, and gave her self up more and more to household affairs. She appeared to think that it was her duty to be always at the beck and call of my father, and if she planned a drive of which she was fond and he chanced to come in, she would say quietly to the groom: "'Take the horses back, I shall not go now. Mr. Travers may need me. He came in a moment ago.' "She was all ready to go to Boston one day, and showed more eagerness than I had seen her display since she came to us, when father came up from the office, 176 His Mothers Boy. bringing with him a guest who had unex pectedly arrived from the West. "Saint Katherine, as I now always called her, took her gloves off as she saw them coming up the walk, and before they opened the door her hat was laid aside. I felt sure I had seen her lift a handker chief to her eyes. I said: "'Confound that old fellow, what did he have to come to-day for? He always stays a week, too. But you must make your trip to Boston just the same. We can manage as we used to.' "She looked at me gratefully, I thought, but again restrained herself, and said noth ing of her own disappointment. "As I look at it now, it seems to me she never had her own way about any thing. She had no companionship, but such as had always been congenial to my father, and the interests and aims of the people about us were new to her, and unlike those of her old home. His Mothers Boy. 177 "At last, one day, I saw her working on a little garment. She hated to sew, and a new light dawned upon me. I think I may have "been actuated by jealousy; but I can hardly say what it was that caused me to demand more of her time and at tention after that. I felt that the time would soon come when father and I would not be the only ones to claim her attention, and perhaps I proceeded upon that idea to get all I could while I could. "'Won't you play chess with me, Saint Katherine?' I asked that afternoon. 'Oh, I beg pardon. I did not notice the car riage. If you were going out, go.' I said this in a tone that showed very plainly that I would be deprived of my pleasure if she should go. She stayed. I beat her at chess, and was happy. "As time wore on she had been with us over a year now her suppressed rest lessness grew more apparent. Even my father noticed it, and told her that for the 178 His Mother's Boy. child's sake she should keep herself well under control. I was outside the window when he said it, and it gave me a new idea. "'Yes/ she said, 'I suppose so; but it seems to me I shall go mad if I can't go away somewhere. I know it must be fool ish and wrong; but I so long to see other places, and* "'People?' my father suggested, not un kindly. But I remember feeling sorry that he said it. "There was a long silence. Then she said in a low, self-accusing voice, 'I suppose it is all wrong; but I sJwuld love to see some of the people I used to know or even strangers, who are who are not' She did not finish. "Presently she said: 'I sometimes think I would crawl on my hands and knees if only I might go if don't think I am not satisfied. It is not that, but' " My father's voice was low and kind although he presented the old, and as I His Mothers Boy. 179 now believe, injurious idea of the repres sion and control of natural desire for the sake of the child and I walked away. "The next day I said, 'Saint Katherine, would you like to drive over to Wilton to-day? We could get back for dinner at seven. " ' Oh, how nice ! ' she exclaimed, with her eyes sparkling. I made up my mind that I would suggest some such thing every day, but, boy-like, I forgot or neglected it. "We went. Her pleasure in all the new faces and sights was almost childish. She was starving for a change of scene and companionship, and even such as she might easily have had she often denied herself, from an overwrought sense of duty." My guest got upon his feet, and walked twice across the room, looking in at the sick child as he passed the door. " She lived only two years longer, and father and I had little Ralph to bring up the best we could, I was so fond of the 180 His Mother's Boy. little fellow, that it was easy for me to look after him, and the nurse was not often out of sight or hearing of either father or me, but she had to carry him about constant ly. He was an angel, in motion, so my father said; but the moment he was kept quiet or still he was anything but an an gel. He would have his own way, by hook or by crook, and as soon as he could walk we had to lock the door of his room, or he would slip out of his little low bed when nurse was asleep, and scramble down stairs and out into the grounds and be lost." I began to see new meaning in the word " escape." " Three or four times we had a great fright in that way. Then we locked the door. As he grew older that did not work. He unlocked it, or climbed out of the win dow. " When he was seven years old, he ran off, and got as far as Norton, on the high way to Boston, before he was found. He His Mother's Boy. 181 was tired and hungry, and footsore; but he was trudging steadily on. " A farmer picked him up and brought him home. Hardly a month passed from that time on that he did not run away. I remember the first time I found him. He was sitting by the railway track, eight miles from home, waiting for the west-bound train. He was nearly eight years old then, and as handsome a child, and as good a one in other ways, as you often meet. I struck him that time. I was so frightened. You know that is brute instinct to strike the thing you love when you have just rescued it from danger. I rarely ever saw a mother snatch her child out of danger that she did not either strike or scold it, before the pallor of anguish at the thought of its peril had left her face. It is a strange human char acteristic. I have often tried to solve its exact meaning." He was silent so long that I turned. He was just returning from another glance into the boy's room. 1 82 His Mothers Boy. I mumbled assent, and he resumed his seat by the table. " But to go back to the boy. He looked up at me in terrified surprise. I had never struck him before. Then he said: "'The cars would have come in ten min utes. That man said so. I was going to -to' " ' You were going to Chicago, I sup- pose,' I said indignantly, as the train thun dered past, a moment later. " ' Chicago, yes/ he said, brightening up. I think that was the first time he knew where he was bound for. "Soon after that, my father died. Ralph promised not to run away any more, and I think he tried to keep his promise; but in less than six months, what I believe to have been his inheritance from the starved and repressed nature of his mother got the better of him again, and he escaped. We could trace him a short distance, and then all clues faded out. The whole village His Mothers Boy. 183 turned out, and day and night we looked. We telegraphed the railway men, but to no purpose. " At last we gave him up. We con cluded he had attempted to cross the river, and had been drowned. God, how I lashed myself for having struck him ! " My guest wiped the moisture from his face now, and sat silent for a long time. My wife had returned from the sick-room a moment before, and seated herself in the shadow. He did not appear to notice that we were not alone. "It was during this time that I began to think out blindly and vaguely the rea son for my little brother's curious mania," he began again. My wife motioned me not to call his attention to her. " His mother had refused to nature all that it plead for of personal pleasure and self-gratification, and starved and outraged nature, I began to believe, had transmitted to the child, not only the craving that had gone unsatisfied, 1 84 His Mother's Boy. but the self-will to execute it. Boys, you know, are not trained to think that the world was made for woman, with man an incident in her life. They are not made to feel that they have no personality. But their desires, their ambitions, their person ality as individuals, are to be honored and gratified, if possible, and so the general trend of thought and the strength of will fitted well into his heredity the stamp he bore of longing for the change she never had and so I grew to believe that he traveled the road nature had laid out and custom had paved for him." I could see my wife's eyes grow large and intense, as she bent forward to listen. "It was five weeks before we heard from him. We had given him up for dead, when he walked in one day, and frightened the servants almost to death. "I did not strike him that time. I had begun to think. " He told me that night, all about his His Mother's Boy. 185 travels, and how homesick he got. It was a strange tale, and broken by his enthu siasm, about a certain circus man who had been kind to him, and cared for him for several days, until the child, under the spell of his hereditary trait, had run away from his new friend." I knew, now, what the word " escape " had meant in that telegram, and my wife nodded to me with the same thought in her mind. " He promised to stay at home, after that, and said he was very sorry that I had worried so much about him. He stayed quietly with us nearly a year. Then he really did go to Chicago. He stole or begged rides on the cars, and people gave him food. He fell into the hands of the police, and I was telegraphed for. They sent for me, and I brought him home. He was ragged and repentant. That was last Christmas. I gave him a new pony, upon his solemn promise not to ride more than 1 86 His Mother's Boy. five miles from home without the groom or me. He said that was all he wanted. He was sure of it, and I hoped the sense of freedom of going on his own horse, and where and when he wished would keep his mania in check. " I had hopes that after he should be thirteen or fourteen years old he would out grow it, and I have been trying to tide him over to that time. I have tried, too, all along, in my rather immature way, to arouse his sense of honor and responsibil ity toward me. But the ideas conveyed by those words have seemed to strike sympa thetic but disabled chords in his nature. His mother's over-taxed self-repression and sense of duty to others, her lack of com prehension of self-duty and personal value, has reacted in her boy, to restore the bal ance to Nature, and he is swept into the path of her repression with a force beyond his power to check. "I have grown to feel that father and His Mother s Boy. 187 I, in our egotistic blindness, helped to stamp the boy with his uncomfortable inheritance, and now I must bide my time, and act as wisely and as kindly as I can." "You seem to have been very thought ful and studious," I ventured. " It is a puz zling case, and a new idea to me." " My study of anthropology helped me, I suppose," he replied, rising nervously to pace the floor again. "It was a fortunate thing for poor little Ralph that I took that for my life-work. It has helped me to read between the lines for him, and to be wise with him beyond my years, perhaps. I have always been glad of that." He had paused near the bed-room door, but he had not seen my wife as she sat in the shadow. " His pony was all right for a time ; but when he heard me read I was a fool to do it of the railroad strikes in Albany, it was too much for him. His five miles 1 88 His Mothers Boy. stretched into twenty, and then, I fancy, some unscrupulous fellow told him he would give him a ticket to Albany in exchange for his horse. It was too much for him. No doubt he parted with poor Gyp with a sob, and climbed aboard the train. And to think that it should have been poor lit tle Ralph, whose curiosity and ignorance took him where he received the murder ous Pinkerton bullet and that cruel blow on the head. Poor little chap! I cannot believe he will die, though his chances are very slim, very slim, indeed," he said, sad ly, as he turned to enter the sick-room. A cry escaped him. I sprang to my feet in time to see him catch to his breast the little white form that had staggered silently into the room. "Brother!" the weak little voice cried in delight, and he then fainted again. The doctor laid him in his bed gently, and my wife bent over him. "That means that he is better, doctor," His Mother's Boy. 189 she said in a voice that tried to be con fident and cheery. " He has known no one before since we brought him home. What a lovely face he has ! " "Yes, he has his mother's own face," he replied with a sigh. " She was a lovely woman, and, alas ! she was the victim of her own virtues as he is." " I fancy my wife will question your stand ard of virtues," I said, as we returned to the li brary some time after. He smiled more light ly than I had yet seen him, and turned to her. " I question that myself, madam as an anthropologist and a student of heredity." " You do not think, then, that the cre ative or character-moulding parent can af ford to risk self-effacement and subserviency of intellect and position ? " she asked dryly. "Not unless we wish to continue a sub servient and incompetent race, which shall be dominated by power cruelly used," he replied, looking steadily at her. Then he added, smiling: 190 His Mother s Boy. "This I speak, as Saint Paul might say, not as a man, but as an anthropologist. I am still a little bit in the position of the brave apostle, too. The 'natural man' and the scientific are at war within me. The one cries, 'Travers, you would like for your wife and daughters to be sweetly, confiding ly dependent upon you, and to live for and because of you; to be unselfish, and self-sac rificing,' and I reply, 'I love it dearly; it is a sweet and holy idea to me.' Then the scientific man remarks, 'Doctor, are you not providing for a basis of character and heredity which shall make your children the victims of your egotism?' And the doc tor bows assent." My wife laughed softly, and stepped to the inner door. " He is better," she said, coming back. "He is sleeping naturally for the first time." Then she stepped quickly to the doctor's side, and held out her hand. " He will not need a mother much while His Mother s Boy. 191 the anthropologist lives with you; but if he ever should, send him to me." There were tears in her eyes, as there were in those of our guest. He held her hand a moment, and then turned abruptly and left the room. An hour later there stood on my wife's desk a handsome bunch of roses, and my wife only smiled. " Shall you say anything more about it?" I asked. " No," she replied. " There is no need. He will send the boy when he grows rest less at home, I am sure of that now. These roses are my answer. Perhaps, be tween the two, we can satisfy his travel ing instinct. What a mercy it was not something worse ! " " What ? " I asked, in astonishment. "I heard the whole story," she said, "and I could not help thinking that his theory would account for a good many things in the world. It is the exact oppo- i 92 His Mother s Boy. site of the usual one. Woman has been taught that to repress and keep in check nature will make her child strong and destroy in it the development of unrea sonable appetite as for drink or murder. His idea seems to be that undue repression, as surely as undue indulgence, will make its heavy mark on the plastic nature form ing. Perhaps that is true. Nature struggles to restore the balance. How do we know that murder in the heart, though it be re pressed, may not account for many a trag edy in the next generation? Who knows but a run-down system depriving itself of stimulants it craves may not account for the yearning born in many a man for such stimulants? Who knows but" My wife stopped. Presently she said : " He scared me almost to death as he devel oped that idea in my mind. What a lot we have got to learn of it all, even if he is wrong ! " "Don't learn it," I said laughing. "It will tire you out." His Mothers Boy. 193 "It tires me out not to," she said. "I am going to study anthropology." Two weeks later she said: "The books are so stupid. They assume everything and they prove nothing, because their assumptions are all wrong. I'm go ing to ask Dr. Travers to write from his premises, and see if he can't stir up a little less obscure and complacent thought. Even if he is not on the right track, it will do these stupid moles good. They get no where because they start wrong." "Better write one yourself," I suggested, smiling. "I shall do nothing of the kind. I don't know enough about it." "Oh," I called after her, as she left the room. "I didn't suppose a knowledge of the subject to be written upon was at all neces sary. What a ridiculous conscience you have, Eva." She has not mentioned it since, but I do not believe she takes my flippancy as 194 His Mother s Boy. in good taste. Anyhow, I have dropped the subject of heredity with the feeling that I had got perilously near a buzz-saw in motion, MR. WALK-A-LEG ADAMS 'MEETS UP WITH" A TARTAR. "Fool. I had rather be any kind of thing than a fool." "Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord. "Fool, No, 'faith lords and great men will not let me; if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't: and ladies too, they will not let me have all fool to myself; they'll be snatching." SHAKESPEARE. MR. WALK-A-LEG ADAMS " MEETS UP WITH" A TARTAR. TN any other part of the country with which I am acquainted it would be said that Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams overtook a Tartar; but to distinguish between the two ideas intended to be conveyed when you say, "I met in the road to-day a certain person," or, "I overtook in the road to-day a certain person," the Southern people of whom I write would say, " I met up with," to express the latter fact. The information of the meeting is im parted by the usual word; while the idea that you were going the same way when the meeting took place is briefly conveyed by the words "up with." It sounds strange enough, no doubt, to unaccustomed ears, but there are those who 2OO Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams assert that it fills those first of all requi sites of correct and forcible speech brevity and definiteness. So when I say that Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams "met tip with" a Tar tar, I make use of a localism, it is true; but is it not a localism which has a dis tinct value of a nature which gives it a right not only to exist, but to be seriously considered as well? But, be that as it may, it is quite cer tain that when Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams sauntered out into the big road from be hind the huge woodpile which formed the chief feature of the variously shaped col lections of logs which composed his home, he had no idea of the exciting events in which he was about to take an active part, and which were henceforth to constitute a memorable chapter in the history of his neighborhood, as well as the most tremen dous and far-reaching event of his whole career. Indeed, it is to be seriously doubted if "Meets Up With" a Tartar. 201 Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams had had any very distinct ideas on any subject whatever on that morning, or on any other morning of his pathetically deficient life. There was a legend in the neighbor hood that the poor demented fellow's name was John Quincy, and that he was one of the saddest illustrations of degeneracy to be met with in all the sickening records of decadence from a one-time splendid ancestry. But, however that may be, in these days he was known by three of the eight words which formed his entire vocabulary. Why these particular eight words chanced to be the ones which fastened themselves upon the .darkened intellect and vocal cords of this physical giant it would be impossible to say ; but certain it is that " God-a'mighty walk a leg hands is that" formed the entire linguistic stock-in-trade of one of the best farm "hands" to be had in the county. It is very much to be doubted if his 2O2 Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams mental equipment extended over even so wide a field as his vocabulary, for it is quite beyond question that whatever mean ing the poor fellow may have originally attached to the words themselves had long since vanished, and that they were now used merely as a means of vocalization. It is true, however, that when he was very greatly astonished, frightened, or pleased, the emphasis did change places, and in ex treme cases the "a'mighty" was pronounced in full and with varying degrees of intensity. There was a large family of these Adams giants ; but when the farmers there about wanted the strongest, most willing, and least troublesome "hand," in the har vest-field or at the cider-press, they engaged Walk-a-leg, even if they had to send for him and take him home again each day as was often the case unless one of his somewhat more rational brothers was employed at the same time to remind him of his engagement by taking him to fill it. " Meets Up With" a Tartar. 203 But much of the year this simple giant roamed about aimlessly, ate where he chanced to find himself at meal-time, and slept on the best bed at hand when sleep overtook him. His harmlessness was taken for granted, and comments on, discussions about, and differences of opinion over his verbal vaga ries served to eke out many a case of oral gymnastics commonly called by the partici pants therein " conversation " which had drifted on to the arid banks of rural limita tions, and promised to be a hopeless wreck until this timely rescue once more started the aimless and fragile bark upon its infinite wanderings. But when Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams started out that day, he had, so far as I can tell, no definite object in view; but it is certain that when he "met up with" a lady whom he had never had the pleasure of seeing before, his delight was unmistakable and unbound ed. To meet with a stranger to say nothing 2O4 Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams of that stranger being a woman was to him a rare and altogether delightful experience. From the moment he had seen, in the distance, a form which had not the familiar lines of any women of his limited acquaint ance, he had swung his powerful legs at a rate to make him "meet up" very soon, with a much swifter traveller than Miss Alfaretta Bangs had ever been even in her younger days, before the neuralgic twinges had set tled with so much energy about her decided and always self-assertive joints. So when this great, muscular, good-na tured fellow shot past her, and then sud denly turned about and remarked, with cor dial friendliness, " God-a'mighty-walk-a-leg- hands-is-that ! " she was naturally somewhat astonished, and not altogether unreasonably, I think, doubted if she had heard correctly the full purport of his remark. "Howdy," she said, with that perfunctory inflection common to those who greet all whom they may meet in the road as a mere " Meets Up With" a Tartar. 205 matter of course, and not at all as a matter of acquaintance. He grinned, but continued to stand ex actly in front of her, and remarked this time with much emphasis, and slapping his left leg vigorously as he did so "God- a'mighty, walk-a-leg J '" possibly with some vague idea in his helpless brain of express ing by means of the emphasis, the fact that he had been compelled to travel with undue rapidity in order to make her acquaintance at all. This time there was no doubt in her mind that she had heard correctly, and that this profane Hercules meant to do her a mis chief, or, at the very least, to offer her a gratuitous insult. But Miss Alfaretta Bangs had not taught school in the " mountings " for fifteen years for nothing, and she did not intend that her prospects of securing a school in this neighborhood where she was as yet a stran- 2o6 Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams ger should be destroyed by a display of the white feather now. Indeed she strongly suspected that this wicked giant was one of the very young fellows whom she would be called upon to teach in the event of securing the school and that her identity being known to him was the circumstance to which she owed this present impertinence. As I have before hinted, Miss Alfaretta Bangs was not timid. She had had experience. She drew herself up to a sinuous height, not far below his own, and, with a single sweep of an arm not unaccustomed to the vigorous use of the birch rod of no small proportions, brought the back of a hand soft and small at no time in her life into violent contact with the half-open and wholly surprised mouth of her admirer. "All mighty! walkaleg/z^/zdj is that!" exclaimed he, jumping fully three feet and spreading a propitiatory, albeit an appreciative "Meets Up With" a Tartar. 207 smile, over a countenance not wholly un used to familiarities of an ungentle nature, offered in rough, but well-meant jest by his fellow-laborers. " Wai, hit war my han', ef yo' mus' ax," exclaimed she, in irate astonishment that he did not attempt to resent the blow. " An' ef I do walk on my legs hit air none er yo' call fer to meet up with me an' low ter cuss me fer hit. They air my legs, an' they air a'most es servigerous es my han's ef ye oncet gits erquainted with 'em. Don' y' stan' thar'n grin at me, ye cussin' eg- iot ! " she added, her wrath waxing with his growing effort at conciliation. " Git outen my road ! " she commanded, "an' try yer cussin' skeer on some er these yer saft critters thet ain't teeched school ter mo' rantankerous egiots than y' ever see in these yer diggins, 'n haint been skeered er none o' ye yit, nuther. The fack air I've whalloped mo' survigerous egiots than what y' air, befo' yo' mammy fetched y' outen pan- 2o8 Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams terlets. I've tuk the hull hide offen bigger 'n yo'," she concluded, triumphantly. Her frequent use of the word idiot had no relation to this particular case ; nor did she guess at any time during the interview that the poor fellow was really more lack ing in mental qualifications than the ordi nary male biped, all of whom, she was thoroughly of opinion, were more or less wanting in those endowments which indi cate a sound mind and a correct judgment. " God tf//migh&r / " exclaimed Mr. Ad ams, in evident relish of her vigorous tones and energetic gestures, as he brought one powerful fist down into the other tremen dous palm, with a resounding thwack that had a perceptible effect upon the nerves a heretofore unknown possession-of the an cient maiden before him. "Don' y' God a'mighty me, ye cussin' coot ! " exclaimed she, recovering herself, as she was about to turn and ignominiously flee. "Don' y' God a'mighty me, er I'll thes "Meets Up With" a Tartar. 209 lay y' plum ouwt ! " And she started toward him as if to carry her threat into imme diate execution; but the great ^foolish fel low backed dexterously along, immediately in front of her, at a rate calculated to do justice to her best qualities as a pedestrian of no mean ability. The exercise, the novel situation, her extraordinary excitement and now rapidly dawning fear appeared to give him the keen est delight. No one had ever thought of getting angry with Walk-a-leg Adams, and he was therefore having a new, and to him, appar ently charming experience. He backed along like a great crawfish, laughing uproariously, and from time to time giving vent to one or another section of his cherished vocabulary, the while slapping with his enormous palm those huge and en ergetic means of locomotion which swung like great pendulums from his hip-joints with a vigor which indicated an abiding con- 2io Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams fidence in the tenacity of the muscles of articulation of both the member attacking and the member attacked. But whichever part of his scant ling uistic store he employed to give vent to his feelings, it gave Miss Bangs a fresh im pulse to catch him and break as many of his bones as it might lay in her power to frac ture before he could make good his escape. Once she stopped long enough to pick up a large and wicked-looking club, which only added ecstasy to her tormentor and intensified the emphasis upon his best-loved words. "A'mighta?/" yelled he in a transport of admiration for her humor in this new game they were inventing together; "A'migh&r/ Walk-a-/^," laughed he, slapping his great thigh, and raising therefrom a perfect cloud of dust previously collected by his brown jean trousers from barn-floors and hay mows, where his recent sittings and sleep- ings had taken place. "Meets Up With" a Tartar. 211 "I'll A'mighty you! I'll walkaleg you! ef I ketch y' oncet 'n' I'll ketch y' yit Yll back inter sutnpin' er nuther yit, 'n' 'fore y' git up I'll break every las' bone in yer wuthless cayrcass," gasped she, out of breath. The rage and exercise were telling on her greatly. Presently she struck her foot on a stone that he had dextrously backed over, and fell sprawling in the dust. Instantly the great, uncouth, tender-heart ed fellow was by her side, and, stooping over her prostrate form, inquired in the gen tlest, most anxious and sympathetic tones, "Walk-a-leg? Hands is that?" at the same time attempting to lift her bodily in his arms with the care and solicitude with which a young mother might lift a hurt child. Quick as a flash she sprang to her feet, nimbly avoiding his arms, and brought the heavy club still tightly clutched in both hands with a tremendous crash down upon 212 Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams the poor fellow's bent head, and leaving him lying by the side of her club, she strode triumphantly on to the village, in the firm belief that she had but justly freed herself from what she had come to believe was a real danger. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams appeared after having undergone such rude surgery for a fractured skull as the neigh borhood afforded with his head tied up, a dazed look of dawning intelligence on his countenance, and, much to the astonishment and deep mystification of his sympathetic family and neighbors, with his vocabulary enriched by three more words, the purport of which did not enlighten his friends as to the origin of his broken skull. The three words he acquired with such unexpected suddenness appeared, however, to have more relation to the subject-matter in hand than had his previous utterances, and were the index of a correspondingly more lucid mental condition. "Meets Up With" a Tartar. 213 The words were "old she-devil" pronounced with, much emphasis and with no percep tible preference for either of them. Indeed, they each seemed to relieve his mind greatly, and the combination was so par ticularly satisfactory that he repeated it for some days with the regularity of a clock, and the enthusiasm of a new convert. From that time he grew in grace, ad ding very slowly, it is true, but steadily to his little stock of English, as well as to his dawning wits ; and when I saw him last which was three years later he impressed me as a not altogether stupid, but rather slow, very good-natured, and somewhat talk ative fellow, with a fear of nothing on this earth but women. He had fought and killed even in his more benighted days many a bear ; it had always been a delight to him to conquer a rattlesnake ; but if a sun-bonnet appeared above the horizon Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams precipitately withdrew. 214 Mr. Walk-a-leg Adams In going to and from his work, it was his invariable habit to leave the "big road" to such as dared encounter its terrors; he crossed the fields or traveled through tan gles where nothing more dangerous and vi cious lurked than an occasional panther and a not-at-all infrequent moccasin. With these he was at home; he knew their tricks. But on a highway infested, as it might be, by a Miss Alfaretta Bangs, he was convinced that no man was safe. To this view he held strenuously, and therefore invariably chose the lesser dangers of the primitive forest. And yet it was undoubtedly due to the touch of her magic wand that Mr. Adams had come to be invariably spoken of, by those who knew him, as "he," whereas they had previously designated him as " it." So little did he realize the source of his benefits that, from having previously been an indiscriminate adorer of the sex, it came to pass, after that momentous day when he "Meets Up With" a Tartar. 215 underwent the mysterious change, as a re sult of having "met up with" a Tartar and attempted by means of a somewhat too limited vocabulary, and one not possessed of that continuity of ideas which the oc casion appeared to demand to make friends with her on general principles, and with out an adequate comprehension of the sit uation by either party to the fray, that he could never thereafter be persuaded to look upon any woman as other than a great and imminent danger. ONYX AND GOLD. "A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears ; see how yon' justice rails upon yon* simple thief. Hark, in thine ear ; change places ; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which the thief? "Through tatter' d clothes, small vices do appear; Robes, and furr'd gowns, hide all. Plate sin with gold, And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks ; Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it." SHAKESPEARE. "The wild beast is slumbering in us all. It is not necessary always to invoke insanity to explain its awakening." SPITZKA. ONYX AND GOLD. T \ID it ever strike you how many thieves succeed in securing respect able partners, and how very often the law of the land is wholly on the side of the pil fering gentry and against their victims ? " asked the Prosecuting Attorney as he sat fingering the frail stem of the wine-glass which sat on the dainty cloth before him. It was at Delmonico's, and the four gentle men were in evening dress. " Of course, it wouldn't do for me to say that sort of thing publicly, but it is odd that men like you should never have thought of it. Any other incongruity from the clumsy airs of a stage beauty up to" " Up to the absurdity of serving that de licious wine to a fellow like you, who has no more sensitive palate than than an 222 Onyx and Gold. amateur artist," broke in young Fenton, laughing at his own attempt at a blind pun. "You may appreciate root-beer to the full, but, for the Lord's sake, don't drink this as if it were a decoction of herbs. Look!" He held his glass up to the light and watched the sparkle with the eye of a lover. "It's tip-top, and no mistake, Fen; but I was so interested in and stirred by the remark I heard that rascal at the last table make as he passed us that I really must confess to a fit of abstraction or indiffer ence, rather as I drank that glass. No dis respect to the wine intended, old fellow." They all glanced toward the table at the far end of the room, and a ripple of curiosity began to arise in their minds. " Hadn't noticed him," remarked Bowman languidly, gazing at the stranger through gold-bowed glasses. "You don't mean to tell us that he is one of the light-fingered gentry, or a candi- Onyx and Gold. 22$ date for the penitentiary on the Court docket, as you call it," said Fenton, with a touch of real surprise and curiosity as he slowly re placed his glass upon the table. " Elbowing the criminal classes at Del's is a new order of things, isn't it," smiled the genial Political Idol who sat on the Prose cutor's right. '' Well, that depends upon whom you are pleased to -classify that way," replied the man of law, grimly. Then, laughing a little, "but, no, I shouldn't say it was a new order of things only a new nomenclature and there really is a good deal in a name, after all. Call that fellow a young blood who is sowing his wild oats, or a society favorite who plays a bit high for his means, or men tion him as an unlucky gentleman of leisure, and he is accepted at par away above par value, indeed, by all of us. But if I say that he is a conscienceless young scamp, who is living the life of a low debauchee, or that he is a professional gambler who 224 Onyx and Gold. plays with money that is not his own and ruins those who confide in him ; or if I casu ally remark that there sits a young fellow who never did a useful thing in his life, and has no more idea of ethics than a than a boiled lobster why, society, includ ing all of us, casts suspicious glances at him, and suggests that he is out of place in the company of respectable gentlemen. Yet it's all a mere matter of terminology. Dig for the meaning in either case and you'll find exactly the same root. It's all one. I " The Political Idol burst into a merry peal of laughter. " Fairly sold ! " he exclaimed. " ' Pon my word, you're getting to be a capital joker. And that reminds me of a good thing that happened over in Washington only yester day. A certain member of the Cabinet who shall be nameless for it was really a trifle rough on him was walking down Penn. Avenue with the Rev. Dr. Booth, D.D., and Onyx and Gold. 225 one or two others and myself as a sort of annex. They were deep in a theological discussion when a poorly clad fellow regular tramp stepped up to him and shook his fist in the Government Official's face, and accused him of about every crime you could mention. A crowd gathered and we had been taken so by surprise that there we stood perfect pictures of misery, unable to get out of the mob until a policeman came up and carried the impulsive tramp to winter quarters. It was quite too funny to the rest of us; but I thought I could detect two or three damns lurking behind the remainder of that theological debate." The Idol winked and sipped his wine. His great reputation as a raconteur gave color and pith to his story, and the gentlemen all laughed heartily. " Was a little rough, but I guess it wasn't the first time he'd heard the same or similar uncomplimentary remarks think so?" que ried Fenton. " A man he once made a busi- 226 Onyx and Gold. ness contract with which he afterwards repu diated (for, of course, we can't help knowing who you mean) told me all I ever wanted to know about his character. I fancy the tramp only repeated what the pious hum bug has been told so often that he must know it by heart by this time." "Guess if the vote of the country were taken on that topic, the gentleman in the winter quarters, and the gentleman in the Cabinet would poll about an equal vote hey ? " sneered Bowman. " Well," responded the Idol, with a chuckle, " the vote might poll pretty even, but it wouldn't weigh even by a good deal when the scales of Justice were appealed to. Scales are all alike. They respond to weight, not to number nicht wahr?" he ended, smiling significantly at the Prosecutor. But that gentleman, strange to say, did not warm up in response to the genial Phil osopher of Success. This was a most unusual experience and it piqued to farther effort the Onyx and Gold. 227 merry social ring-master. At last he paused in one of his humorous remarks, and turned an almost pathetic gaze toward the original object of their remarks. " Did you say that poor fellow over there had fallen into bad ways? Tell us about it. Who is he? He doesn't look half bad. Perhaps" The Prosecutor was in a surly mood. "Perhaps you'll be on his side? Well, I guess you will be ; for the law is, damn it ! That's what makes me mad. My hands are simply tied. The law is his partner and he is a thief." The Idol raised his eyebrows and pursed up his lips reproachfully. " I'm afraid you're on a moral crusade, old fellow. Now don't do it. Take my advice. Go with the swim. It pays a hundred cents on the dollar to do that. If the law is on his side, so am I. Now trot our your case ! Waiter, bring me some Apollinaris ! " " Well, the case is simple enough. He 228 Onyx and Gold. has defrauded dozens of honest men ; he has caused more than one to lose health and position and an honorable hold on life, and, this morning, I followed to the grave one man and I don't know how many more there may be whom he has murdered, and yet, as I say, the law is on his side! I tell you it makes me hot sometimes. I lost my temper when I saw him saunter in here to spend on a dinner what would have saved the life of the poor fellow we buried to-day. It is infamous ! Infamous ! And the worst of it all is, his case is only one of many. The law that protected him could not protect an honest man, for there is no case wherein such a man could need its protection. Its very existence on the statute books is an insult to honesty and a menace to society. It has no place in a free country. It is a survival from an order of things that Ameri cans should destroy, root and branch. It is infamous in design and in execution it is devilish. Only rascals " Onyx and Gold. 229 " Hush, speak lower," whispered Bowman, "he is coming past us on his way" " Why, 'pon my word, this is lucky ! Didn't notice you until this instant, or I'd have joined you," said the young fellow as he paused with his hand extended to the Idol. "Don't you recall Osmond? Ah, I thought so. Charming evening. Sorry I must go. Engagement at the Casino. Are you going, too ? Delightful ! Meet you there," he added, glancing at a splendid jeweled watch and replacing it in his pocket. He bowed slightly to the other gentlemen, grasped the Idol's outstretched hand again, and was gone. The Prosecutor ground his teeth. The Idol smiled merrily. "Dear me, he is all right! I didn't rec, ognize him at that distance and side face ; but he goes in the very best social circles and was at college with Ned. Lives hand somely. Bachelor apartments and all the rest. I first met him in St. Petersburg. He cut a wide swath there and in Paris 230 Onyx and Gold. too, I believe. I remember some talk about the gay dinners he gave some of the frail sisterhood over there. A good story about one of those same dinners is told " The Idol drifted off into one of his spicy stories making good his old reputation as a clever after-dinner talker. As they were about to part at the door a half hour later, Fenton slipped his hand under the Prose cutor's arm. "Which way you going? Any special engagement? No? Then do come up to the club with me. I'm dying to hear about it. What is the story? How did Osmond kill the fellow ? Why can't you twist the law around him ? I always thought " "No, you didn't," snapped the Prosecutor. "What you mean is that you never thought at all on the subject. You just floated with the froth as that shrewd political humbug advises all fortunate men to do. But in my opinion the time's not so very far off when the patient body of water upon which Onyx and Gold. 231 he and the rest of us are, and have been, floating for ages untold, will break up into angry waves, and then " He snapped his finger. " And then ? " queried Fenton, pausing to light his cigar. " Well, then honest men will begin to see through the smooth-tongued, oily-man nered humbugs they worship to-day, and elect to make and sustain infamous laws, and then their little jig will be up. I know I struck him as a fool, to-night ; but it was a pretty sudden change for me from the poor, bare room where I helped to com fort the orphans of Osmond's latest victim, and saw the hopeless face of the widow, to a seat at Del's, with the murderer at another table." The Club house door swung open, and they entered. They threw their top coats over a chair and seated themselves before one of the windows facing the avenue. 232 Onyx arid Gold. Fenton urged again that he was anxious to hear the whole story. " Oh, it's simple enough not to attract much attention. The poor devil we buried to-day Paul Bendenburger was an art dec orator. He did exquisite work and had the nature and tastes of an artist. His wife and he had pinched and scraped ever since they came to a country in which they fondly hoped for justice to the poor, trying to es tablish Paul in a business of his own. At last the happy day came. He had a very good little shop and a reputation with wealthy firms of doing the finest work with the most painstaking skill. Orders that were sent to large firms often found their way to Bendenburger because of the exquis ite finish of all he did. Well, about two years ago the largest order he had ever had was sent to him. It was to decorate a suite for Osmond. No expense was to be spared. Everything was to be of the finest. The bath-room was to be of onyx, and all Onyx and Gold. 233 gilt ornamentation in the entire suite was ordered to be of i8-carat gold. It don't take a great deal of onyx and gold to make a pretty big bill. Paul knew Osmond to be a rich man. The order had come through a good firm. To make this work a great success was to place Paul on a splendid business footing. Other rich men would send for him. He and his wife were as happy as two children over it. They both planned and worked day and night. Paul had to mortgage all his shop and effects to procure the materials to work with, but they were only too glad to do it, for he was to be paid several thousand dollars over and above all expenses when the work was done. He felt sure that this was to be his last hard year. There was some delay with the other workmen, and it was late in the fall before Paul's part of the work was well under way. He went back and forth day after day, and, if truth must be told, he had no warm coat to go in. He took an 234 Onyx and Gold. awful cold, but the job was so nearly done that he whipped himself up to finishing it. Once Paul's wife met Osmond on the stairs while he was exultingly showing a chum over the rooms, and ventured to ask him to one side. She hinted that if he would only advance a mere trifle on the work it would be [gratefully received. Well, he simply flew into a rage, and told Paul to keep his wife at home where she belonged or he'd take the, job from him yet. Paul tried to pre tend that he wasn't much ill, and he would not stop to see a doctor, for he must get the rooms done. Well, at last they were done, and there was a grand illumination, a dinner, and a lot of newspaper talk over the exquisite work. That was over a year ago now. Paul was not at the dinner," sneered the Prosecutor. "He was in bed. The doctor said, however, that all he needed was plenty of wholesome food and a little rest. He had worked too hard. So the Bren- denburgers felt rather happy, and waited Onyx and Gold. 235 in the belief that after to-morrow the plenty of food and rest would begin to be theirs." The Lawyer paused, and looked out of the window so long that Fenton ventured: " Was he too ill to recover ? " " No ! " thundered his companion, turn ing savagely upon him. " No, he was not. If Osmond hadn't been a thief. If he had paid his bills even then, if he had paid even for the expense he had put Paul to, it would not have been too late ; but he even let the mortgage on the shop, which had been given to get the onyx and gold for his bath-room, be foreclosed ! Paul's wife went to Osmond again, about that. Paul was too ill and discouraged to do any thing, by this time. She begged and pleaded with tears, only that he would advance enough to protect the shop, and take his own time to pay the rest. Think of the infamy of it ! 'Advance ' that which had been already advanced to him! That is the po sition to which such men reduce the poor. 236 Onyx and Gold. They make cringing liars out of honest tradesmen. Well, she was put off with a promise. When she was gone, Osmond simply directed his valet never to admit her again. Then Paul sat up on his sick bed and wrote. He told the whole piti ful truth to Osmond even that they were hungry and " " Did Osmond dispute the accounts say they were wrong or ? " began Fenton. "Dispute nothing! He was too damned selfish and lazy to even go over the ac counts. Never made any claim at all. Sim ply said he couldn't afford to pay trades men when he deigned to say anything at all on the subject. As a rule he said nothing. But after a paper was obtained which yanked him up in supplementary proceedings, he had to make some sort of reply. "That was when I first heard of it all. Paul was brought into court a mere wreck of himself. His shop was gone, his health Onyx and Gold. 237 was gone, and even his hope had almost died by this time, But his poor little wife kept him up with the thought that American law would see justice done to the poor and honest, and that here, in a Court of Justice in free America, at least, he could meet a rich man on an equal footing." " I should think as much! " remarked Fen- ton, looking at the dying light in his cigar, and then drawing out a fresh weed to light. "I don't wonder you felt your professional pride aroused and took a personal interest in getting the cash for them. But how did it happen he died before you got it?" "It happened that he died before they got it, simply because they never did get it, and they never will get it. Osmond isn't built that way. He can't afford to throw away money on trades-people," sneered the Prosecutor. " He's got to spend his misera ble pittance of $30,000 a year with his friends and on others of his ilk. On our merry Political Idol and " 238 Onyx and Gold. "But the law!" broke in Fenton, "why I thought?" "My dear young friend, I told you a while ago that you didn't think at all. You only float. Now, I haven't a doubt that you've read more than fifty times, that the law holds that you can't collect from a man who has an income left to him if he swears that income ' is not more than enough to support him in the manner in which he was brought up.' Well, you didn't have head enough to think what is a plain enough fact that any man on this earth who would resist an honest debt by taking advantage of such a law can make that claim, and that the law is his partner in the theft from his victims. Who enabled Paul Bendenbur- ger to live in the manner to which lie had been accustomed? No law looked after his interests and comfort. He'd always had a good home and lived comfortably until Os mond stole it all from him, and the law sane- Onyx and Gold. 239 tioned the theft. Sometimes I get so hot in the collar when I think of" The Prosecutor walked impatiently up and down the room, and then stood facing the window with the light from the street lamp glistening upon the single stone in his bosom. "You don't mean to tell me that there is no way at all for that widow to get" "I mean to tell you just this. By false pretences, Osmond and his is one case in many got Paul and Lena Bendenburger to impoverish themselves to furnish unneces sary splendor for him, that he caused them to lose home, business, health and, in Paul's case, life, and that the law says he has a right to withhold payment. I mean to say that the family of Paul is ruined, that he is dead, that his widow is broken in health, and that her heart is dead within her, and the law says Osmond may not be disturbed in the enjoyment of his $30,000 income, his onyx-and-gold bath, and the artistic home 240 Onyx and Gold. he has filched from an honest man. I mean to say that Osmond is a respectable and respected citizen hobnobbing to-night with the leading after-dinner swells of this city, and that I helped put the man he murdered in a pauper's grave to-day; and that to morrow I shall help 'commit' his wife and children to the tender mercies of an organ ization which combines not only the idea, but the name, of charity and correction, so that no human being not entirely hopeless or depraved will pass into its hands. I mean to say" " For God's sake don't say any more ! " broke in Fenton, " why can't we repeal the law ? " The Prosecutor turned slowly around from the window. " Do you mean it, Fen ? " he asked in an unsteady tone. "When you say we, do you mean it ? " Fenton nodded his head, and tossed his unlighted cigar into the fire. Onyx and Gold. 241 " Well then we can. If only fellows like you will help make public opinion, old chap. Help make public opinion travel the right way, and not trot along in a fit of idiotic glee at the heels of the shallow Idols whom it pays to throw dust and gold dust at that in the eyes of those who are too poor, too ignorant and too helpless to have any influence whatever on public opinion. And whether you know it or not, it is the pocket- book that makes public opinion, old fellow. He was right to-night when he said that the scales of Justice do not move for num bers. They are influenced by weight. That old chap in the Bible knew what he was talk- ing about, too, when he said, ' The rich man's wealth is his strong city : the destruction of the poor is their poverty.' But come, sup pose we drop in on the last act of the Pi rates of Penzance. I'd like to see the comic side of piracy for a while to-night. I've seen only the tragic side and the heartless one all day." IN DEEP WATER. "And each man and each year that lives on earth Turns hither or thither, and hence or thence is fed ; And as a man before was from his birth, So shall a man be after among the dead. "We are baffled and caught in the current, and bruised upon edges of shoals ; As weeds or as reeds in the torrent of things are the wind-shaken souls." SWINBURNE. IN DEEP WATER. t( TN my opinion, living is a waste of valuable time," remarked John Car roll, sententiously. Everybody laughed. "Of course, Carroll would top the argu ment off with some such absurdity as that," said one of the men near him. " It wouldn't be Carroll if he didn't. But this time it seems to me he rather overdid the matter. How you going to waste time, old man, if you were not living ? " he added, turning to the imperturbable figure beside him. " I don't know. That's your proposition. What I said was that living is a waste of valuable time. I didn't say that not to live would be." "No, but I suppose you are about to remark now, that never to have been born 248 In Deep Water. would be to truly improve your opportuni ties," suggested Bentley, who was standing near the window gazing down Fifth avenue. " Perhaps so," acquiesced the first speaker. "I haven't worked that proposition out yet; but I have the first one. I've been wasting time living now for forty odd years. So have you. What's the good of it ? What comes of it ? If you never had been born you wouldn't know it. By and by you'll die you wo'n't know that either, and " "I cannot agree to the last statement," broke in his neighbor. " In the next life we will, no doubt, know all about this life and why we were put here." John Carroll looked steadily at him for a moment before he replied: "Don't you think it would be more sen sible to know about it while we're here ? " he inquired slowly. " What good can it do to know after we're out of it ? If that plan is kept up I suppose we won't know what In Deep Water. 249 we're in the next world for either until we move on." " Move on! " exclaimed his neighbor with a face so full of astonishment that even Carroll joined in the laugh that followed " Move where ? " " I'm sure I don't know; do you?" asked Carroll, dryly. Doddridge shook his head. " I didn't know but you might. You seem to be one ahead of where we are now on the topic of lives and worlds. I didn't know but you might be two ahead. I don't see what's to hinder." Young Doddridge moved uneasily in his chair, and said something about there being only one more of each. " How do you know ? " insisted Carroll, holding his head very far to one side, and half closing his eyes as he looked intently at his antagonist. The other men glanced at each other and winked. " I've tried my level best to recall where 250 In Deep Water. I came from whether I ever lived in any other world before this one and I can't. Looks to me as if I started just like a bum. ble-bee, forty odd years ago, right here. I've buzzed around a little, and built a nest, and stung a few people by way of variety, and and when the frost comes, I'll get nipped in the bud, so to speak, just like my bumble bee and then" The mixed metaphor disturbed no one- and Carroll snapped his fingers and made a toss with his hand to indicate that he had finished. " And then you'll stop wasting valuable time living," laughed Bently, as he bowed and smiled to a lady who had just crossed the avenue in front of the club house. " Looks that way to me, as an unpreju diced observer," assented Carroll. "I don't know how it looks to the bee." " His returns are not in," put in a small man on the other side of the room, and then he grew red in the face and fidgeted about In Deep Water. 251 in his chair. John Carroll looked at him long enough to make him thorougly uncom fortable. He wished that he had not ven tured a remark. Then Carroll said slowly: " That's it exactly. If the bumble-bee's returns were in, it would knock the big head out of a good many of us. I haven't the least doubt that he puts in half of his time plan ing the exact spot on St. Peter's anatomy that he's going to sting when he gets to glory. Meantime he practices all he can on us, just to keep his hand in. But you or I are only used for target practice while he's in this vale of tears. Real business won't begin until he's translated." " Carroll, you're the most blasphemous man I ever heard talk. If I didn't know it was two-thirds in fun, and the other third not in earnest, I'd say you ought to be "- " Try it," broke in Carroll turning sud denly on his neighbor. " The trouble with you is, Doddridge, that you not only know all about the next world, but you know ex- 252 In Deep Water. actly what other people ought to think in this one, and, if they don't think the same little picaytmish thought you do, you are under the impression that they ought to ask your leave to live at all. Why, good God, man, if our friend the bumble-bee's bump of self-esteem bore the same relation to his brains that yours does, people would mistake him for a young robin, and feed him angle worms." He got up and walked to the window. Everybody laughed except his victim, to ap pease whose wrath Carroll laughed also, as he laid a hand on Bentley's shoulder. " I'm going over to Governor's Island," he said in a lower tone. " I've got to see a man over there, and this club is getting altogether too "- He paused for a word, but Bentley did not supply it; he only chuckled in a man ner that sent a trembling little motion through his frame and made radiating lines about his eyes and the corners of his mouth. In Deep Water. 253 lie appeared to be thoroughly amused. Car roll began again, in an undertone, after a moment's delay : " There's always some donkey sitting around here now-a-days, who feels a 'call' to assume a tone of godliness and infal libility that makes me mad. I'm thinking of having a hat-band printed for Doddridge, with ' Be good, and you will be happy ' on it." "Shall you use diamond type, or abbre- viate some of the words?" inquired Bentley, still looking down the street and chuckling. Carroll burst into a fit of laughter that had in it genuine amusement, and put to flight his irritation. " I'll let it go around twice," he replied, and, taking up his own head covering, he started for the door. Once upon the pavement he stood try ing to decide whether he should walk up to Forty-second street, or down to Thirty- third, to take the Elevated train for South 254 I n Deep Water. ferry. He went through the same process of reasoning daily. He argued that he needed the exercise that the longer walk would give him, and that there was no great haste about getting over to the Island. It was a lovely day in May, and he had been in-doors for several hours. He crossed the street, and, arguing in favor of the farther station, took "his way steadily to the one that was nearest. That was the usual .pro cess through which he went, and he felt sure it would end just so each time, and still, he told himself, that he needed the extra exercise so much that one of these days he would begin to take it regularly. This appeared to be a perfectly satisfactory adjustment of the difficulty for the time being, and so he settled himself comfort ably in a cross-seat and opened his morn ing paper. The sun poured in through the window, and he sat on the inside end of the seat, so that its rays could not reach him. No one faced him, and he congratu- In Deep Water. 255 lated himself that he had gone to the right station, after all, for these seats had been vacated as he entered the car. At Eighth street he heard, in a vague and unheeding way, a rough voice of com mand : " No, not that way ! Here, go in here no go long! Set down! No, over there! Good Lord ! W-h-e-w ! " Carroll had not looked up at first ; but the voice came nearer and nearer, and then a woman, with her arms clasped about an enormous bun dle, done up first in what had once been white cotton cloth, outside of which two torn and battered newspapers now essayed to stretch themselves, half stepped, half fell over his feet and into the seat by the win dow. Following her was an older woman, carrying, clasped to her bosom, a tremen dous oiled-cloth-covered valise from which the handles were torn on one side. She sat down with a thud on the seat facing him. Then the rough voice went on : 256 In Deep Water. " Move over no, don't-git-up ! Move over I said ! W-h-e-w ! Gosh ! " Carroll looked at the speaker for the first time, and discovered that it was a police man whom he had known as McGonigle, and upon whom he had always looked as being a kind-hearted and obliging officer. He inferred at once as it was obvious, from the brutally curious faces about the car, all of its occupants had done that these two women were a particularly vicious pair of criminals. He wondered what their line of crime was. Instinctively he put his hand on his pocket, and then felt for his watch. He tried to do it as if by accident, and to keep his eyes turned from the woman who faced him. McGonigle had seated himself with his -back to the woman who shared his seat and nursed the black va lise. He had draped one leg carelessly over the end of the seat as he sank into it, and his foot swung back and forth in the aisle. He took his hat off and mopped In Deep Water. 257 his face with a handkerchief that had been cleaner a day or two before. It was a face so quiet and serious in expression that it would have started streams of envy in the breast of many a fop who struggles vainly to conceal what he is pleased to call his emotions, behind a mask of well-bred qui etude and non-committal placidity. The policeman's words and tones had been harsh, but his temper appeared to be wholly un ruffled. As he replaced his hat he recog nized Carroll and lifted it again. Carroll bowed and smiled. "Why, hello, McGonigle! That you?" he said, pleasantly. "Its what there is left of me," replied the burly guardian of the peace, in a tone that was as emotionless and sustained in its one quiet key as if he had studied the art under a master. Carroll laughed. " What there is left of you would make two very decent sized fel lows yet, McGonigle." 258 In Deep Water. McGonigle was flattered, but he turned his head slowly and bestowed a long side glance upon the girl who shared Carroll's seat. The glance apeared to indicate more in sorrow than in anger that there would have been at least twice as much of him had he not encountered her. Not that it was either an angry or a reproach ful glance. It was too placidly stolid to indicate such lively emotion. Carroll winced a little. He wondered how McGonigle could bear to make such a pointed thrust under existing circumstances, and he affected absolute preoccupation with his paper as he stealthily felt for his pocket- book again. It was on the side next to the girl with the bundle. He had taken another glance at her face a moment be fore, as he pretended to look out of the window, and he thought again how hard it was to determine the grade of crime for which such as she should merit this rough public treatment. The ladies in the car had In Deep Water. 259 looked both shocked and indignant, and they had studied these unfortunates, ever since the two had staggered through the aisle under the double burden of bundles and rough orders, with a frankness that it was painful to witness. He felt that the pris oners must be hardened indeed if it did not sting them to the quick. The older woman, who sat with McGonigle, hadn't a bad face, Carroll thought not a very bad one. He wondered how long she had been a criminal, and how she began. He thought her not homely, though poorly dressed and evidently badly frightened. The younger one, beside him, was decidedly repellant of feature. She looked stubborn. He could see her face in the narrow glass opposite. Presently McGonigle touched him on the knee with one of his enormous fingers. Carroll held his paper to one side and looked at him. " Immigrants," remarked McGonigle, suc cinctly, and then he jerked his thumb 260 In Deep Water. toward the girl behind him. Then he paused as if the effort had worn him out. Carroll fidgeted, for the policeman's move ment had been so plain that he felt sure both women had understood it, even if they had not heard what he said. " Had 'm up to the station house all night," he went on in the same tone of sad comment, with pauses of such length be tween the words as to suggest extreme ver bal exhaustion. " Lost theirselves last night. Nobody up there couldn't talk to 'em." His words were all pitched on the same key. He looked at the girl from time to time, with slow eyes that had the comprehend ing quality of an ox in their fine brown color. Carroll was growing hot. He af fected to read, and held the paper so as to shield his own face from the sight of the two women. He wanted to ask if they were caught smuggling, or just what the charge was; but he could not bear to feel that they knew as they must that the In Deep Water. 261 policeman was telling him about them. Presently McGonigle went on : " I'm takin' 'em to the Barge office. Reckon somebody down there can sling their language sounds like three grunts 'n a yell ! " There was a long pause be tween his sentences. He appeared to labor with painful deliberation around the next idea he wished to express, and then pro duce words to express it from a vocabu lary that had no adequate means of egress. He shifted his leg to let a lady pass, and, as the car pulled out from Chambers street, he gazed steadily at the younger woman until she turned her face to the window and arranged her hat with both hands. Then he turned slowly until he could see the older one. This position was too un comfortable to be sustained long, while his leg hung over the arm of the seat where he had replaced it, so he looked at Car roll again, and with no perceptible change of expression said : 262 in Deep Water. " I don't know what language it is 'n I can't tell by lookiri at 'em. . . . But, lord, it must be kind of awful to be in a coun try where you can't make nobody under stand. ... It makes me fairly sweat .to think of it,'' He abstracted his handker chief from his pocket again and mopped his face. Such a placid face. The moisture did not appear to be caused by emotion, in spite of the words. Carroll concluded that the women could not understand a word that was said, so he ventured a ques tion, meanwhile looking with great display of interest out of the opposite window. " Lord ! no, they ain't criminals. . . . They're purty nigh as green as they come." . . . Long pause, during which Carroll asked a question. "Where was they goin'? I do' know 'n neither do they. . . . Found 'em walkin round lost an skeered. . . . Took 'em to the station-house." . . Longer pause and a steady ox-like contemplation of the face of the girl. Then, while still In Deep Water. 263 looking at her: "Mmmm! but I wisht you could a' seen that young one eat las' night. ... I thought she'd bust. ... It was axually funny." Carroll smiled, but beyond the word there were no evidences of humor or fun about the policeman. His expression had not once changed, and his tone was the same whether the punctuation indicated by his words called for period, question mark, or exclamation point. " Hungry, was she ? " ventured Carroll, in an undertone. McGonigle transferred his gaze to his interlocutor for a moment, and something very like expression strug gled into his face. "Hungry!" he said, "with a slight varia tion of tone. " Hungry ! Well I don't know's she was 'specially hungry; but she shorely wus holler plum through." Carroll raised his paper suddenly, and when he took it from before his face again his eyes sought McGonigle's ; but that gen- 264 In Deep Water. tleman was carefully inspecting the counte nance and physical proportions of his charge with the phenomenal appetite. His face was as grave and stolid as ever, but a gen uine gleam of curiosity had struggled into it. Both women looked steadily out of the window, and clutched their bundles. After a long survey of the girl, McGonigle went on, jerking his thumbs in her direc tion: " The young one is kind of smart, too. . . . You kin make her ketch on to most anything; but the other one" jerking his thumb toward her "is 'most a fool." . . Carroll, in spite of himself, moved uneasily. McGonigle turned half around and exam ined the hands clasped about the large black valise. " Married, too, I reckon. . . . Got on a ring." Carroll looked at him again, to see if he had intended the juxtaposition of the ideas conveyed in his speculation as to her In Deep Water. 265 being weak-minded and married; but Mc- Gonigle's eyes were traveling steadily over the face and figure of the girl again, and nothing but serious speculative wonder was in them. " But, honest Injun, I do wisht you could 'a' seen that there girl eat last night. . . It was the funniest I ever see. ... I shorely did think she'd bust. ... I was axually skeered." . . He was still gazing at her. There was a pause. "I never did see a girl eat like that girl et. I don't know when she filled up last; but it must a' been quite a spell ago. . . . My lord how she did eat." He appeared to be a trifle nervous yet as to the ability of her anatomy to withstand the unusual internal strain, and his apprehensions were not allayed by the steady pressure of her huge bundle against the overcharged or gans. But presently the thought seemed to dawn upon him that Carroll might think he was complaining of his arduous duties 266 In Deep Water. as an officer. Something very like a smile struggled through the settled muscles of his face. " 7 been havin' a good enough time all mornin', though. . . . Been ridin' around from pillar t' post with them two girls ever sense seven o'clock. I reckon they're plum wore out with the sergeant up t' the station house 'n the judge down 't the po lice court 'n all of us talkin' at 'em an' they gittin' no where 'n understandin' noth- in.' " . . He closed his eyes, and Carroll had about concluded that he was intent upon a nap before he reached the Barge office, so that his overburdened faculties could be rested and ready for the next tilt with the difficulties of strange and ungodly languages when, just as the trainman called out, "South Ferry!" McGonigle opened his eyes and remarked with unusual energy of inflection : " I certainly did think she'd bust ! " Carroll touched his hat to the two wo- In Deep Water. 267 men, greatly to their surprise, and watched them down the stairs, and saw them walk by the side of the ox-like McGonigle, toward the white stone pile where some one would be able to speak the mysterious language. Then he turned toward the slip where the little government boat lay waiting. He showed his card to the soldier in charge and told which officer on the Island he wish ed to see. Then he stepped aboard. He was the only passenger. He sat far for ward, and looked steadily into the water for a while. Then he fell to wondering what life meant to such human pawns as those two women. What had they expected to find in America ? Why had they come ? Or was their motive too formless and vague to be reproduced in words ? Had their coming to a strange land been the mere impulse of unsatisfied human craving for something other than they had? "I won der what they think of the experiment now," he said half aloud. "I wonder if they think 268 In Deep Water. living is a waste of valuable time ! " He smiled as the idea and the discussion at the club recurred to him. " I venture to say McGonigle doesn't, at all hazards," he thought, as he stepped ashore, "and who is to say that McGonigle is not a profound philosopher?" He laughed lightly, and climbed the hill on his way to the officer's quarters. A PRISON PUZZLE. " As long as dishonorable success outranks honest effort as long as society bows and cringes before the great thieves there will be little ones enough to fill the jails. " Society kills its enemies, and possibly sows in the heart of some citizen the seeds of murder. " Where is the man with intelligence enough to take into consideration the circumstances of each individual case ? ' ' ' Is it possible that thoughts, or desires, or passions, are the children of chance, born of nothing? Can we conceive of Nothing as a force, or a cause ? If, then, there is behind every desire and passion an efficient cause, we can, in part at least, account for the actions of men." INGERSOLL. A PRISON PUZZLE. "X/'ES, he was the queerest man we ever had to handle, since I've been war den here. Generally speaking, I can size up a fellow in a day or two, and I don't have to change my mind much after it once gets made up not as a rule. You see I've been handling criminals, one way and another, for pretty close to nineteen years, and a man learns a good deal about human nature in its various forms in nineteen years. But Henry Ben nett was too much for me. Of course that wasn't his real name; but that is the name he was tried under and so it was the one he was always known by here except the times he was called Number 432, added the warden, smiling grimly. But Number 432 pleased him just as 274 d Prison Puzzle, well as Bennett and was just as close to the mark, no doubt. I had made up my mind toward the last that he hadn't a spot in his heart as big as a buckshot that cared a continental for any human being, except for Number 432, alias Bennett, alias forty or fifty other things. I suppose his affections got so divided up between these numerous individualities of his own that he really had no further stock to draw on for bestowal upon such other units of the human race as he might come in contact with. (This conceit amused the warden, and he drew a large hand across his mouth to wipe away a smile, but it still lingered in his eyes). Now, don't get the idea that Bennett was a brutal fellow. Because that is just ex actly the sort of descriptive adjective that wouldn't fit him at all. Oh, yes, of course, the newspapers described him that way.^ because most folks think that is the reg ulation way for a crook to be pictured. A Prison Puzzle. 275 In fact, most people think lie is that way. Why, dear me, I've heard women who wouldn't be able to detect a criminal, un less he was covered with blood and hitched up tandem with his victim, vow they always could tell whether a person was what he claimed to be and all the rest of it. Thought the criminal classes, as they called the ones that were caged, had a queer look. Showed it in their eyes and couldn't look at you straight and but, Lord! you've heard all that rot often enough, no doubt, without me going over it. Well, the published de scriptions of criminals cater to just this type of folly. Now, in my humble opinion, if it wasn't for all that sort of nonsense, it wouldn't be so easy for criminals to work. People wouldn't swallow the large assort ment of ridiculous bait, if they didn't feel sure that such an honest-faced fellow, as they usually express it, could hardly deceive them. They seem to expect a defaulter to go around with a copper-plate dial attached 276 A Prison Puzzle. to his face, which points out to all observers the exact date of his deviation from the path of rectitude. Since this patent revolv ing thief-detector does not appear upon Rogue Plausible's face, his shrewd and self- confident victims nibble away at any pre posterous bait the scamp may happen to offer. But I've switched away off of the orig inal track. Well, to go back. Bennett al ways denied the murder he was accused of poisoning a ballet-girl he had lived with though he acknowledged to pretty nearly every other crime on the calendar. But he was such a picturesque liar at all times that the denial had no weight, and indeed, his confessions had none, for I very often doubted if he was really guilty of half the things he confessed to. He was such a good-looking fellow, with the frankest and openest face, too, that it was hard to believe that he was the com plete moral idiot that he sometimes claimed A Prison Puzzle. 277 to be in the tales he told of his past career. Now, you look as if you thought that last remark did not agree with some things I said before, but it does. I hold that as a rule when a man looks upon himself as a criminal, and continues long in that men tal condition (and provided, too, that he thinks of crime as reprehensible which many a criminal does not), then he begins to show it in his face and bearing. The trouble is that most defaulters, for instance, think of themselves habitually as honest and upright men gone wrong for this trip only. They both respect and believe in themselves. Look at the average railroad wrecker, for example. I don't mean the petty crim inal who only puts a boulder on the track and makes a corporation lose a few thou sand in wreckage and kills one or two poor devils. I mean the kind of wreckers who mow down thousands of helpless people by devious processes called shrewd business methods. That kind of a wrecker causes 278 A Prison Puzzle. more financial ruin, more mental despair and more actual deaths, too, than the others ; but he looks upon himself as an entirely honorable man, and, strange as it may ap pear, the community, the church to which he usually belongs and the state to which he is a standing menace, agree to so accept him. They one and all do him honor. Well, now, you will readily understand that his face does not show the marks of his crimes be cause, as I said, he does not look upon him self and is not estimated by others as a criminal. Well, you can just carry that il lustration through a thousand other phases of crime or business, whichever you've a mind to trace and find the parallel. But, in my experience, it is a pretty gen eral rule that a person who has grown to think of himself as a criminal, and knows that he is so classed by others, even if he has only done some petty deed, is very apt to lose his more open and frank expressions of face and conduct. A Prison Puzzle. Now, Bennett didn't. Up to the very last even when we were keeping him alive by medical skill and dainty food, so that the state could have a chance to kill him at its leisure and by approved machinery, he never lost that ingenuousness of man ner and method of conversation that was so fetching. He would tell the most pre posterous lie so simply, so frankly, and with so little reason for deceiving us, that half a dozen times he caught us napping. We believed him. When we'd find him out and tax him with it, his laugh was as glee ful as that of a little child and held in it as small a tincture of bitterness or guile. He enjoyed his own lies heartily. One couldn't help laughing with him. The spon taneity and heartiness of his mirth was simply contagious. Of course, such a man would always be a favorite wherever he was, and equally, of course, his capacity and op portunities for crime were simply limited by his own freaks of fancy or needs, as 280 A Prison Puzzle. the case might be. He always said that his first lawless acts were the results of poverty, but that may or may not be true. As far back as we could trace him, he had not been impoverished in the sense that the word should be used. But to a man of his tastes and habits it was the result of biting poverty indeed, if his suite of apart ments was not elegantly appointed, or if his wine were not of a delicate and old brand. He was willing to deny himself the com forts of life, but without its luxuries he maintained that he simply could not live. The old chap who first got off that idea knew what he was talking about, too, for it isn't comfortable to be obliged to dodge the law or one's creditors. It does annoy those who posses the elegancies of life to be hauled up in supplementary proceedings, and to be compelled to swear that the pay ment of a tailor's bill is a financial impos sibility. A Prison Puzzle. 281 Well, my first knowledge of Bennett was in a case of that kind. He had a regular yearly income at that time. It had been left him by will. He said that it was his mother who had provided him with the yearly pittance, as he always entitled it, but no one ever knew how true that was. This pittance was $15,000. He swore that he simply could not live on such a sum as that in the style to which he had been accus tomed, and at the same time pay tradesmen their bills. He did not at all blame the tradespeople for demanding payment, but he assured the judge that, upon his honor as a gentleman and his oath as a citizen, he sim ply could not afford to allow his natural sympathies for the laboring classes to blind him to his first duty, which was to maintain himself in the manner in which he had been brought up. It came out on that trial that he recently had had fitted up a magnificent suite of apartments, one feature of which was a teak inlaid smoking-room twenty-four 282 A Prison Puzzle. feet square, with Turkish divans and all that sort of thing in it. The total cost of this one room he said he really did not know, but the bills which were presented in court by different tradesmen aggregated over $10- ooo, and Bennett swore that he had been compelled to advance a large sum to what he termed the poor devil of a decorator to enable him to procure the raw materials to work with. Well, of course the law being on his side, the court decision left him with the elegancies of life and left the confiding tradesmen with the comforts ; that is to say, with the knowledge of work well and honestly done and an empty pocket-book to show for it. Bennett used to talk quite feelingly of that case after he came here. He said he had found out that a gentle man could get along, after a manner, with out an elaborate smoking-room, and that he didn't blame the workmen for kicking. He said he didn't doubt he would have done A Prison Puzzle. 283 the same thing if he had been in their places. One day, I suggested to him that the time might not be far off, when, if that particular law was not repealed, tradesmen might take another method of collecting their bills a method not so comfortable for the luxurious debtor. Well, you should have seen his face ! It was a study. " Com fortable!" said he, "more comfortable meth od ! Look here, warden, were you ever hauled up into one of those beastly court rooms in a supplementary proceeding case? No? Well, then, you don't know what you are talking about. There isn't anything on this earth less comfortable than that. Why, great God, man ! I had to confess that all the income I had was a beggarly $15,000, and everybody knew perfectly well that my expenses were a damned sight nearer $75,000 every year of my life. Well, do you think it was comfortable after that to have some fellow at the Club look as if he thought I needed the money when 284 A Prison Puzzle. I suggested a game of poker or lost a few hundred on a race ? Gad ! I don't know of a more ^comfortable thing except the other accompaniment of the same vile court room. Why my clothes actually smelled of the foul air when I came out! I took a cab to my rooms, of course, and I could plainly detect the odor all the way up-town. It made me faint. I went into that same blessed smoking-room and disposed of every rag I had worn. My man took them, and, by Jove, I'd been fool enough to put on a perfectly fresh suit that morning. I learned better than that. I never wore a new suit to court in any case, afterward. It is a sheer waste of good money, for no gentle man could ever wear the things again. Then it's an insult to your tailor such abuse of his work." Well, Bennett would talk like that even after his last appeal had failed and he was waiting for the chair. The enormity of ill- fitting or bad-smelling clothes appealed to A Prison Puzzle. 285 his mind always; but the fact that he was convicted of a most awful and treacherous crime I do not believe ever gave him a real pang, unless it was at the last, and that was what I started to tell you about. As I said, I had positively made up my mind that there was no human being out side of himself whose griefs, woes or pangs could touch a single chord of his nature more deeply than to merely stir a mild interest which, after all, was to him as a species of mental entertainment or matinee performance, for his benefit. But about a week before he was to die an old lady called here and asked to see him. She examined his pictures and read, most carefully, the record of all the birth and other marks we had by which to iden tify him. She trembled like a leaf and said as she read each one, "Yes, yes!" or she would merely nod her poor head and weep. She was not a rich woman. I could see that plainly enough, and so I told her that 286 A Prison Puzzle. I suspected she had made a mistake and that this man was not her long-lost son; but she insisted upon seeing him, and I consented. I went in with her because I had a little curiosity to see how Bennett would take her claim upon him. He always had per fect self-command, and so I felt sure that whatever he did would be done quite de liberately, and it would give me a chance to study his nature under a new and dif ferent light. I had arranged for her to see him in my inner office, but I had not told Bennett why he was sent for. He stepped in quite briskly, as he had done several times be fore when occasion had required him there, and he did not see the lady until he stood within four feet of me. I was watching his face closely. " You sent for me?" he began, in his cheerful tone, and with his eyes as steady and devil-may-care as usual. His glance fell A Prison Puzzle. 287 upon the lady, who had risen to her feet at the sound of his voice, and he started perceptibly, and, I thought, changed color, but he was always so pale after the long confinement that I could not make sure that it was not the usual pallor simply intensified by the glare of light which had come sud denly upon his face from my window. He looked steadily at her for a moment and she moved forward. Her hands were trem blingly clutching at a chair and the sure conviction that she had found her son was written in every line of her unhappy face. " Edward," she gasped, " Edward, my son ! Oh, my God ! " She would have fallen had not Bennett sprung with quick and ready arm to sup port her. It was done with the grace of a social expert which even his prison garb did not conceal. I had allowed him to catch her because I wanted to detect him if he did the least thing to betray himself. She did not faint, but sat trembling as she 288 A Prison Puzzle. clung to him and sobbed. All that she said aloud was "Edward, oh, Edward, my son, my son ! " This she repeated over and over as she gazed at him or buried her face in her handkerchief. At first Bennett made no reply at all, but after she had taken the wine I offered her, he said quite gently and still with the drawl of his general speech intensified, if possible. "My dear madam, I can hardly say that I am sorry to tell you that you are mis taken; because in this costume and under these circumstances I am sure you do not wish to find your son. And for your sake, therefore although it cuts me to the quick to disappoint a lady or to have you see me in this garb I am still most happy to say that your son is not here. I am not Edward." He allowed her to hold his hand, but he glanced at me and shook his head. She did not yield in her belief, and, pushing back the sleeve of his shirt, placed her finger A Prison Puzzle. 289 on a little scar which had not been noted on our prison record. Then she bent sud denly over and kissed the spot and wept anew. " Edward, Edward ! oh, my son ! " she sobbed again. " That little scar was put there when you saved me from Edward, do not deny me! I know you are my boy! Your voice ! " I had felt sure that he had tried to change his voice a little at first, but if he was acting it was all so perfect that I was puzzled. He stuck to it that his mother had died twenty years before and had left him the yearly income the insufficiency of which had led to our first acquaintance, for I had been the court officer, then, and not the warden. The woman before us had probably never had over two thousand a year in her life. She was a refined, lady like woman of that large class who go through the world in a simple and conven tional way, never dreaming of the tempta tions that surround those who are luxurious 290 A Prison Puzzle. of taste, and, who are by legal and social conditions placed where a different reading of the words honor and justice give to them other standards of right and new explana tions of the motives and aims of existence, which to her mind would seem strange in deed. Even less had her experience re vealed to her the temptations and the bru talizing forms of abject want with its con sequent developments of vice. " I am not your son, Madam," he now repeated in a firm voice, and with a slight smile added, "You will permit me to congratulate you upon that fact since since your son, let us hope, may be found in less, ah, in more ah attractive quarters." He waved his free hand toward me and closed his little Chesterfieldian speech with, " If my good friend, the warden, will permit the rude ness. But really, these are not precisely the surroundings which a lady would ah - er select for a son, I am sure." A lit tle light laugh ended his remark, and I A Prison Puzzle. 291 could not help feeling the absurdity of it myself, even though I felt keenly for the woman before me. "You may go now," I said to him, and with gentle promptness he freed his other hand, drawing the sleeve back over the scar as he did so, and with a bow to the weeping woman and a wave of the hand to me he followed the guard back to his solitary cell. The lady made a move as if to follow him, but I restrained her. She told me that she was absolutely certain that the prisoner was her son, and that the scar on his arm had been received when he was a mere lad, in defending her from a furious dog. "He was so brave," she said. "Always so brave and kind to me, too; but he was ambitious and and we I I have not seen him for ten long years, but I know he is my son. " When I heard of the trial and of the awful crime he was accused of (I do not 292 A Prison Puzzle. believe he killed the girl, warden) when I heard of it and saw the description of him, I felt sure it was Edward, who we thought was dead. I planned and planned to come, but my heart failed me until now, and I have come a long, long way. But I know he is my son. It is like him to try to spare me. He would rather bear his dis grace alone. He will not he warden, let me go to his cell! Let me see him alone, I beg!" She had come close to me, and she held out her trembling hands most piteously. It was against our rule, but I told her she might go. I decided to keep her in sight and to watch the man as I could, by a system of mirrors which I always kept for that purpose, and of which the condemned man knew nothing. "Well, do you know when she reached his cell she uttered a piercing shriek. " He is dead! He is dead! ' she screamed and we rushed in, the keeper and I. There she A Prison Puzzle. 293 lay across his body, moaning and sobbing, and he was in a dead swoon. When she found that life was not extinct, she helped us to revive him, but went away of her own accord before he opened his eyes, saying she would come again, but that he might better not see her, perhaps, just now. After he had revived sufficiently to talk, he said to me: "I never could bear to see a woman weep. It always unnerves me, and as you can readily understand, warden, this my ah surroundings are not exactly such as one doesn't care to have any lady see one in this condition." He glanced down at himself. "Please do me the favor not to let it happen again. I really cannot bear it, you know, I'll be all unstrung for the when the state is ready to dispense with my company. And really that would be unkind after such a lot of trouble to keep me in good form for the public show." The last was said with a sneer, for he had insisted that he might be allowed to die 294 ^ Prison Puzzle. a natural death (as he surely would have done had we let him), rather than that they should postpone his electrocution, as was twice done, to nurse him back from death's door, simply that he might be led to the grave, by a legally prescribed pro cess instead of by nature's simpler path. " Bennett," said I, suddenly turning upon him, "the jig is up. What is the use of lying ? She told me all about you, and you may just as well drop all this guff, and give that poor old mother of yours an hour or two of comfort before before I was going to say before you die, but I hadn't the heart to say it." He took me up lightly: " Give her the comfort of knowing she has a son to be hanged I beg pardon electrocuted next Friday ? " he said, looking steadily at me. "What do you take me for? A brute ? No, no, my friend," he added, ris ing and stretching himself languidly and assuming his usual drawl again, " I am really afraid the ah lady will have to be A Prison Puzzle. 295 deprived of that comfort. I've acted a good many parts in my time, but you will really have to get some one else to do Edward for her. I wouldn't do honor to the role. Now, you'd grace that part," he said, laugh ing as the idea occurred to him. " If she comes back, I absolutely decline to see her. You play Edward. Tell her you had for gotten her address, but that henceforth she will find a son here or hereabouts." His laugh was quite spontaneous, and I began to waver anew in my opinion. The next day she came again, and in spite of his protest, I let her go to his cell. The result was abont the same, as before. She talked of many things to him, and plead with him to tell the truth to acknowledge that he was her son, Edward Whipple. He was kind, sympathetic, stern, evasive, and semi indignant by turns, but he absolutely denied all connection with her. At last an idea ap peared to strike him. He asked the guard to call me. I had been where I could see 296 A Prison Puzzle. and hear every word, but he had not known it. When I entered, he waved me to a seat on his bed and with a little laugh said: " This lady, ah er Mrs. Williams did you say is the name?" Her lips trembled and tears started again to her eyes. " Whipple," I said, now almost fully con vinced that it was really a case of mis taken identity. " Ah, yes, certainly, Whip- pie," he said, bowing toward me ; " Mrs. Whipple, who has mistaken me for her son, appears to be in great grief at the loss of her boy and no wonder. From her de scription of him he must have been a model son, indeed, and I am sure if he were alive he would ah er it would have been his pleasure to do something ah hand some for his mother. Now, warden, it oc curs to me that since I have really no human being to leave my little beggarly pittance to (I had intended to make you my heir, and beg pardon for depriving you A Prison Puzzle. 297 of what I had grown to look upon as al ready your property) it occurs to me that since this lady came here hoping to find a son, and since I am compelled to deprive her of that ah satisfaction, I may be per mitted I might return the compliment which she insists upon paying me, when she desires to claim me as her dear and up right son, by ah in a substantial manner. "I cannot be your natural son, Mrs. Wil liams I beg pardon Mrs. Whipple ; but at least you may permit me to do what I am sure your son Edward would wish to do were he in were I in case he had the misfortune to be in a position to make his will." He had turned to the lady, and was laboring rather unusually hard with his short-coming breath. She uttered many pro tests. Said she had no thought of his money, but wanted his love instead. I watched him sharply, but as she spoke he had stepped to the little table we had al- 298 A Prison Puzzle. lowed him, whereon lay pen and ink. I had hoped he would leave us a confession. Instead he had written a will. I had been made his sole heir. He now drew up an other exactly like the first, only Mrs. Whip- pie's name replaced mine and I appeared only as a witness. It was a queer sensation to help disinherit myself in that convict cell, with a weeping woman protesting all the while, and the keeper mumbling that he'd be damned, when the document was read, and he was asked to witness it with me. It was drawn up in very lawyer-like shape, too, and signed in a steady, fine soci ety hand, " Henry Bennett Convict No. 432." He smilingly said that the latter was for better identification. When he had finished, the dazed woman fell at his feet and wept, and prayed that he would acknowledge her as his mother. " I only wish that I could, my dear madam," he said, raising her to her feet; " but, whether fortunately or unfortunately A Prison Puzzle. 299 for you (and there can be no doubt that it is most unfortunate for myself), I am not your son. My name is Bennett known here, purely for convenience, I assure you, as Number 432." His voice was kind and gentle, but the scamp glanced at me and winked. I felt like choking him. Perhaps the knowledge of my sudden loss and how near I had come to an inheritance, had something to do with the desire, for as a rule he aroused in me little feeling aside from an intense desire to read the riddle of his nature. That wink set my teeth on edge and I felt like striking him, but when the next moment he turned pale, and one of his awful sinking spells followed I could think of nothing but reviving him. Again we sent the lady away, and that night Ben nett wrote a note to her not to come to see him any more. " You have done me the honor to claim me as your son," he wrote ; " and I have done what little I could to reciprocate. To 300 A Prison Puzzle. show you how sincerely I wish I were the Edward you have lost (and yet it seems cruel to so wish), I have made over to you all I possess, together with my sympathy and grateful thanks. But, my dear Madam, I beg of you not to come again. It cuts me to the heart. I am not so strong as I once was. The atmosphere of this estab lishment leaves much to be desired, and, were it felt important to society to prolong my life beyond a very brief time, I feel sure a change of scene and air would be de cided upon by those who had my best in terests at heart. "Believe me, dear madam, your obliged and obedient servant, "Henry Bennett, "Otherwise, No. 432." He had filled even this note with his ghastly humor, and trusted to her dazed and simple nature not to see it. I remonstrated with him, but he only laughed at me, and said that my objection was only the "wail A Prison Puzzle. 301 of the disinherited;" and the idea tickled him mightily. Well, while we were talking, the woman came to the door. The guards had allowed this because they had seen her there before, and knew I was with the condemned man. Every one felt like humor ing him and the general belief was (out side of the watch and myself) that he really wanted to see her. He was to die the next day. The woman held out her hands toward him, and then suddenly tottered and would have fallen, but he caught her in both his arms. I thought he pressed her to his breast for an instant, but at once he placed her in the only chair and stepped back to his cot where I sat. He reached over and took the note he had read and handed to me with such glee just before she entered, and, as if in a fit of abstraction, he tore it into small bits. There is no need to tell you of the scene that day. It was like the others, only, perhaps, less satisfactory. The 302 A Prison Puzzle* next morning the poor fellow paid the penalty of his crime in the way the State deems wise, and whether at the same time poor Mrs. Whipple lost a son, I am still unable to decide. Sometimes I feel sure it was a case of mistaken identity, and again I am convinced that Number 432 simply determined to shake at whatever cost to himself the faith of his poor mother in her belief that she had really found her lost boy in convict's garb, and that her child would rest in a murderer's grave. On that theory there develops in his character a phase no one had suspected, and yet it would not surprise me to find out some day that Number 432 really was Edward Whipple. But if I do discover it, I shall never let her know. It is to get your opinion of it all, that I tell the story. Was he merely the moral imbecile he claimed to be specimens of which are not particularly rare in society or was he her son, with something of the hero in him A Prison Puzzle. 303 that is to be found in many a criminal ? What did she do with the money? Well, that is another puzzle. I don't know whether it was because she lost faith in her own identification of Bennett, or whether she would not use money that she be lieved her son had obtained dishonestly, but certain it is she would never use a cent of it. It was the fund that bought this prison library the solace and salva tion of 'Society's Exiles' who are buried here year after year. "A THOUQHTLBSS YKS." BY HELEN H. GARDENER. SOME; PRESS COMMENTS. Marked by a quaint philosophy, shrewd, sometimes pungent reflec tion, each one possesses enough purely literary merit to make its way and hold its own. "The Lady of the Club " is indeed a terrible study of social abuses and problems, and most of the others suggest more in the same direction. N. Y. Trubine. All the stories are distinguished by a remarkable strength, both of thought and language. Pittsburg Bulletin. Will do considerable to stir up thought and breed a " divine discon tent " with vested wrong and intrenched injustice. The stories are written in a bright, vivacious style. Boston Transcript. She appreciates humor and makes others appreciate it. All of the stories, whether humorous or pathetic, have a touch of realism, and are written clearly and forcibly. Boston Herald. Bright and light, gloomy and strange, cleverly imagined, fairly amus ing, tragic and interesting, by turns. N. Y. Independent. Thoughtfully conceived and beautifully written. Chicago Times. Each story is a literary gem. San Francisco Call. Full of wit and epigram ; very enjoyable and profitable reading. Just long enough to induce the wish that they were a little longer an ex cellent feature in a story. Portland (Me.) Transcript. Helen Gardener puts moral earnestness and enthusiasm for humanity into her stories. Even her pessimism is better than the nerveless super ficiality of her rivals. Unity (Chicago.) Illustrate the indubitable fact that the times are out of joint. Charleston (S. C.) News. Exceptionally excellent. Convey a moral lesson in a manner always vivid, invariably forcible, sometimes startling. Arena. The author is not morbid ; she is honestly thoughtful. The mystery and consequences of heredity is the motive of some of the strongest. N. Y. Herald. With a terseness and originality positively refreshing. On subjects to suit the thoughtful, sad, or gay. Mil-wattkee Journal. Have made their mark as new, original, and strong. She could not write ungracefully if she tried, and this book is like a varied string of pearls, opals, and diamonds. N. Y. Truth. A work of fiction by one of the few feminine philosophers who have boldly faced the problems of life. Belford's Magazine. Bright, thoughtful, and taking. Written by a woman with brains, who dares to think for herself. The Writer (Boston.) Paper, 50 Cents; Cloth, $1.00. ARENA PUBLISHING CO., Copley Square, Boston, riass. From the press of the Arena Publishing Company. H le Hit of the year/' Price, paper, 50 cents ; cloth, $1.25. AN UNOFFICIAL PATRIOT. Have you read Helen H. Gardener's new war story, "An Unofficial Patriot"? No? Then read what competent critics say of this remarkable historical story of tha Civil War. Helen H. Gardener Chicago Times The Literary Hit of the Season Rockford (111.) Republican " Helen H. Gardener has made for herself within a very few years an enviable fame fur the strength and sincerity of her writing on some of the most important phases of modern social questions. Her most recent novel, now published under the title of ' An Unofficial Patriot,' is no less deserving of praise. As an artistic piece of character study this book is possessed of supe rior qualities. 1 here is nothing in it to offend the traditions of an honest man, north or south. It is written with an evident knowledge of the circumstances and surroundings such as might have made the story a very fact, and, more than all, it is written with an assured sympathy for humanity and a recognition of right and wrong wherever found. As to the literary merit of the book and its strength as a character study, as has been said heretofore, it is a superior work. The study of Griffith Daven port, the clergyman, and of his true friend, ' Lengthy ' Patterson, is one to win favor from every reader. There are dramatic scenes in their association that thrill and touch the heart. Davenport's two visits to President Lincoln are other scenes worthy of note for the same quality, and they show an apprecia tion of the feeling and motive of the president more than histori cal in its sympathy. Mrs. Gardenei may well be proud of her success in the field of fiction." " Helen Gardener's new novel, ' An Unofficial Patriot,' which is just out, will probably be the most popular and salable novel since ' Robert Elsmere.' It is by far the most finished and ambitious book yet produced by the gifted author and well de serves a permanent place in literature. " The plot of the story itself guarantees the present sale. It is ' something new under the sun' and strikes new sensations, new situations, new conditions. To be sure it is a war story, and war stories are old and hackneyed. But there has been no such war story as this written. It gives a situation new in fiction and tells the story of the war from a standpoint which gives the book priceless value as a sociological study and as supplemental history. " The plot is very strong and is all the more so when the reader learns that it is true. The story is an absolutely true one and is almost entirely a piece of history written in form of fic tion, with names and minor incidents altered." For sale by all nevjsdealers, or sent postpaid by Arena Publishing Co., Boston, Mass. PUSHED BY UNSEEN HANDS." BY HELEN H. GARDENER. PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. These tales illustrate strange influences that shape human action and seem to he outside of the actor. ... Dr. Spitzka, the brain special ist, writes that two of the stories deal with curious things usually ob served only by specialists in the field of heredity. DETROIT TRIBUNE. Setting aside the scientific suggestion, the imaginative faculty of Helen Gardener is conspicuous in the conception of plot and the de velopment of character. INDIANAPOLIS JOURNAL. The stories are vital with earnest thought. . . . This author gives indication of having come to stay. CHARLESTON (S. C.) NEWS. All of the stories are striking and thoughtful. Some of them are very dramatic and their literary quality is marked enough to enable even a careless reader to enjoy them. BOSTON GLOBE. An artist reproduces nature in such a way that we recognize it as real or ideal. The ideal can be as real to us as any scene beheld with our open eyes. . . . "Pushed by Unseen Hands "is a collection of short stories so realistic as to leave no doubt of their actuality. NEW ORLEANS PICAYUNE. A number of good short stories, most of which turn on some of the mysterious facts that lie in that borderland between the seen and the un seen, so fascinating to the imagination and so baffling to inquiry. Miss Gardener's touch is very exquisite and she draws her mental pictures with the hand of a master, showing in a few rapid lines more sharp and attractive characteristics than many author's can in labored pages. OMAHA BEE. As a writer of short stories Helen Gardener has achieved an enviable reputation, and her new book gives indication that she does not intend to relinquish this charming method of giving to her readers pleasure with profit, whatever else she may do. CHICAGO TIMES. Miss Gardener has been subjected to much censure for her boldness and frankness with which she expresses her views on some subjects not usually discussed in public. The Orthodox have ever been prone to con found the surgical and the scandalous. . . . From a literary point of view the stories are vivid and artistic, while as to their motives and spirit they are farther removed from the prurient and scandalous than most of those who censure her. She is a woman of remarkable gifts and of superb courage. Paper, 50 Cents ; Cloth, $1.00. ARENA PUBLISHING CO., Copley Square, Boston, Mass. From the press of the Arena Publishing Company. Helen H. Gardener A Collection of stirring, unusual Stories, dealing with unhack neyed themes in a masterly way Helen H. i5ar6ener's Essays an6 Short Stories. Price, cloth, $1.00; paper, 50 cents. A THOUGHTLESS YES. A collection of short stories in which field this brilliant writer is especially suggestive and successful. These stories have gone through several editions, and with the continual expansion of Mrs. Gardener's fame as the author of "Pray You, Sir, Whose Daughter?" "An Unofficial Patriot " and other books of world-wide repute, they find new and delighted readers and admirers. The opinions of the press give the book a very high place as a work of genuine literary art. Marked by a quaint philosophy, shrewd, sometimes pungent reflection, each one possesses enough purely literary merit to make its way and hold its own. " The Lady of the Club" is indeed a terrible study of social abuses and problems, and most of the others suggest more in the same direction. New York Tribune. Will do considerable to stir up thought and breed a " divine discontent " with vested wrong and intrenched justice. The stories are written in a bright, vivacious style. Boston Transcript. Price, cloth, $1.00; paper, 50 cents, Helen H. FACTS AND FICTIONS OF LIFE. Gardener A Collection of Sparkling and Thoughtful Essays on the Vital Questions of Life, that should awaken the conscience in every man not dead to a sense of all moral obligation, and spur every woman to stand steadfast and strong and demand in the marriage relation a manhood that shall be A Remarkable as c ^ ear an d unpolluted as womanhood. Book. It marks But Helen Gardener is at her best in the most difficult liter- an epoch in the ary channel, that of the essayist. She says more in fewer words trend of Social ' than any writer of the day, and learned savants pause to drink Thought ! in the ideas that she has drawn from the fountain of common sense. Her work, " Facts at d Fictions of Life," has reached a large sale, and is now being translated into German, French and Russian and two Oriental lauguags. These essays deal with the most delicate and least understood problems of life, in a clear, modest and uncumpromi! ig manner, and consist of twelve papers read at the World's Fair Congresses by the author, who was listened to vv.th breathless silencs by the largest audiences of the Congresses, and after each paper she received most enthusiastic ovations. Louisville Courier Journal. For sale by all newsdealers, or sent postpaid by Arena Publishing Co., Boston, Mass. 001 034 558 University of California SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1388 Return this material to the library from which it was borrowed.