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"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 






"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" 





Copyright 1890 








"THAT REMINDS ME OF" . . . .137 

His MOTHER'S BOY, 157 


TARTAR, 197 





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. 

New York. 



'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, 

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." 



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 

"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 

" 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 

"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 

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. 


. . . "But I remember now 
I'm in this earthly world; where, to do harm, 
Is often laudable: to do good, sometimes, 
Accounted dangerous folly." . . . 


"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." 


"You see, her eyes are open. 
Ay, but their sense is shut." 


"The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the de 
struction of the poor is their poverty." 




^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 

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 

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 

" 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. 


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 

"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 

"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 

"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 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 

" 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. 


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 

"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 

" 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. 


"In evil long I took delight, 

Unawed by shame or fear; 
Till a new object struck my sight, 

And stopped my wild career." 


"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." 


"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." 


"I do not find the religions of men at this 
moment very creditable to them, but either childish 
and insignificant, or unmanly and effeminating." 



\ 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 

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 

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 

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 

"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 

"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 

"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. 


" 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." 


"Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased." 



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 

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 

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 

" '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 

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 

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 

" 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 

"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 

" 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 

" 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." 


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, 

"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- 

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 

" 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 


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, 


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 

" 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. 


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 

" 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. 


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 

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 

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. 


"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.' " 



( 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 

" 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, 

"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 

"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, 

"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. 


"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 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 


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." 

"Men are what their mothers made them." 



"\ 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 

" 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 

" 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 

"'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 

" ' 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 

" 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 

" ' 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 

" 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, 

"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, 


"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." 



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 

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 

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 

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 

"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. 


"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." 


"The wild beast is slumbering in us all. It is not 
necessary always to invoke insanity to explain its 




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 

"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. 

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 

"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." 


"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." 



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 

" 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. 


" 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." 



"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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

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 

"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. 



Marked by a quaint philosophy, shrewd, sometimes pungent reflec 
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of social abuses and problems, and most of the others suggest more in 
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All the stories are distinguished by a remarkable strength, both of 
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Will do considerable to stir up thought and breed a " divine discon 
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With a terseness and originality positively refreshing. On subjects 
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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 
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A work of fiction by one of the few feminine philosophers who have 
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H le Hit of the year/' 

Price, paper, 50 cents ; cloth, $1.25. 

Have you read Helen H. Gardener's new war story, "An 
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Helen H. 

Chicago Times 

The Literary Hit 
of the Season 

Rockford (111.) 

" Helen H. Gardener has made for herself within a very few 
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" The plot is very strong and is all the more so when the 
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For sale by all nevjsdealers, or sent postpaid by 

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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. 


Setting aside the scientific suggestion, the imaginative faculty of 
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The stories are vital with earnest thought. . . . This author 
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An artist reproduces nature in such a way that we recognize it as real 
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A number of good short stories, most of which turn on some of the 
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As a writer of short stories Helen Gardener has achieved an enviable 
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Miss Gardener has been subjected to much censure for her boldness 
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Paper, 50 Cents ; Cloth, $1.00. 
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From the press of the Arena Publishing Company. 

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A Collection of 
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with unhack 
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A collection of short stories in which field this brilliant 
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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, 
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, 
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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 
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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 breathless silencs by the 
largest audiences of the Congresses, and after each paper she 
received most enthusiastic ovations. 

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