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A THOUGHTLESS YES
A THOUGHTLESS YES
HELEN H. GARDENER
"Men, Women and Gods," «' Sex in Brain," "Pulpit, Pew and
Cradle," "Is This Your Son, My Lord?" "Pushed by
Unseen Hands," " Pray You, Sir, Whose Daughter,"
"An Unofficial Patriot," and " Facts and
Fictions of Life"
R. F. FENNO & COMPANY
Q AND I I EAST I 6tH STREET
HELEN H. GARDENER
To the many strangers who, after reading sncb
of these stories as have before been printed, have
written me letters that were thoughtful or gay or
sad, I dedicate this volume.
These letters have come from far and near ;
from rich and from poor ; from Christian and
from unbeliever ; from a bishop's palace and from
behind prison walls.
If this collection of stories shall give to my
friends, known and unknown, as much pleasure
and mental stimulus as their letters gave to
me, I shall be content.
HELEN H. GARDENER.
A Splendid Judge of a Woman, .
The Lady of the Club,
For the Prosecution, .
A Rusty Link in the Chain,
The Boler House Mystery,
The Time-lock of Our Ancestors,
Florence Campbell's Fate, .
My Patient's Story,
PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.
In issuing a new edition of this book, it has
been thought wise to state that an unauthorized
edition is now on the market, and it is desirable
that the public shall know that all copies of this
book not bearing the imprint of the Common-
wealth Company are sold against the will and in
violation of the rights of the author.
Since some persons have been puzzled to make
the connection between the title of the book and
the stories themselves, and to apply Colonel Inger-
soll's exquisite autograph sentiment more clearly,
a part of "An Open Letter," which was written in
reply to an editorial review of the book when it
first appeared, is here reprinted, in the hope that it
may remove the difficulty for all.
AN OPEN LETTER.
I have, this morning, read your review of "A
Thoughtless Yes." I wish to thank you for the
pleasant things said and also to make the connec-
tion — which I am surprised to see did not present
itself to your mind — between the title and the bur-
den of the stories or sketches.
It is not so easy as you may suppose to get a
ii Preface to the Eighth Edition.
title which shall be exactly and fully descriptive of
a collection of tales or sketches, each one of which
was written to suggest thoughts and questions on
some particular topic or topics to which people
usually pay the tribute of a thoughtless yes. With
one — possibly two — exceptions each sketch means
to suggest to the reader that there may be a very
large question mark put after many of the social,
religious, economic, medical, journalistic, or legal
fiats of the present civilization.
You say that "in 'The Lady of the Club ' she
[meaning me] does not show how poverty results
from a thoughtless yes. Perhaps she does not see
that it does. ' ' I had in my mind exactly that point
when I wrote the story and when I decided upon
the title for the book. No, I do not attempt in such
sketches to show how, but to show that, such and
such conditions exist and that it is wrong. I want
to suggest a question of the justice and the right of
several things; but I want to leave each person free
to think out, not my conclusion or remedy, but
a conclusion and a remedy, and at all events to
make him refuse, henceforth, the thougthless yes
of timid acquiescence to things as they are simply
because they are. In the "Lady of the Club" I
meant to attack the impudent authority that makes
such a condition of poverty possible, by calling
sympathetic attention to its workings. There are
one or two other ideas sustained by authority, to
which, to the readers of that tale, I wished to make
Preface to the Eighth Edition. iii
a thoughtless yes henceforth impossible. At least
I hoped to arouse a question. One is taxation of
church property. I wished to point out that by
shirking their honest debts churches heap still far-
ther poverty and burden upon the poor. I hoped,
too, to suggest that the idea of "charity," to which
most people give a warmly thoughtless yes, must
be an indignity or impossibility where, even they
would say, it was most needed. I wanted to call
attention to the fact that a physician and a man of
tender heart and lofty soul were compelled to make
themselves criminals, before the law, to even be
kind to the dead. That conditions are so savage
under the present system that such a case is abso-
lutely hopeless while the victims live and outrage-
ous after they are dead. To all of these dictates
of impudent authority, to which most story readers
pay the tribute of a thoughtless yes, I wanted to
call attention in such a way that henceforth a
question must arise in their minds. I hoped to
show, too, that even so lofty a character as Roland
Barker was tied hand and foot — until it made him
almost a madman — by a system of economics and
religion and law which so interlace as to sustain
each other and combine to not only crush the poor
but to prevent the rich from helping along even
where they desire to do so.
These were the main points upon which that
particular tale was intended to arouse a mental at-
titude of thoughtful protest There are other, minor
iv Preface to the Eighth Edition.
ones, which I need not trouble you to recall. If
you will notice, nearly all of the tales end (or stop
without an end) with an open question for the
reader to settle — to settle his way, not mine. In-
deed, I am not yet convinced that my own ideas
of the changes needed and the way to bring them
about are infallible. I am still open to conviction.
I have tried to grasp the Socialist, Communist, An-
archist, Single-tax, Free-land, and other ideas and
to comprehend just what each could be fairly ex-
pected to accomplish if established — to see the pros
and cons of these and other schemes for social im-
These, and the varying cults ranged between,
each seems to me to have certain strong points and
certain weak ones. Each seems to me to overlook
some essential feature; and yet I have no system
to offer that I think would be better or would work
better than some of these. Indeed, I do most earn-
estly believe that the inspired way is yet to be struck
out, and I do not believe that I am the one to do it.
Meanwhile I can do some things. I can suggest
questions, and, sometimes, answers. But I am
not a god, and I do not want all people to answer
my way. I do want to help prevent, now and
henceforth, the tribute of a thoughtless yes from
being given to a good many established wrongs.
Since such able thinkers as you are have — in
the main — already refused such tribute, I am per-
fectly satisfied to let each of these answer the
Preface to the Eighth Edition. v
questions I have suggested or may suggest in my
fiction in the way that seems most hopeful to him.
Meantime, the vast majority of story readers
have not yet had their emotions touched by the
dramatic presentation of "the other side." Fic-
tion has — in the main — worked to make them ac-
cept without question all things as authority has
presented them. Who knows but that a lofty dis-
content may be stirred in some soul who can solve
the awful problems and at the same time reconcile
the various cults of warring philosophers so that
they may combine for humanity and cease to di-
vide for revenue — or personal pique ? I do not be-
lieve that the province of a story is to assume to
give the solution of philosophical questions that
have puzzled and proved too much for the best and
ablest brains. I have no doubt that fiction may
stir and arouse to thought many who cannot un-
derstand and will not heed essays or argument or
preaching, while it may also present the same
thoughts in a new light to those who do. Person-
ally I do not believe in tacking on to fiction a
"moral" or an "in conclusion" which shall
switch all such aroused thoughts into one channel.
Clear thinking and right feeling may lead some
one, who is new to such protest, to solutions that
I have not reached. So let us each question "im-
pudent authority," whether it be in its stupid blind-
ness to heredity or to environment; and I shall be
content that you solve the new order by an appeal
vi Preface to the Eighth Edition.
to Anarchism via free land; or that Matilda Joslyn
Gage solve it by the ballot for women and heredi-
tary freedom from slavish instincts stamped upon
a race born of superstitious and subject mothers.
Personally I do not believe that all the free land,
free money or freedom in the world, which shall
leave the mothers of the race (whether in or out of
marriage) a subject class or in a position to trans-
mit to their children the vices or weaknesses of a
dominated dependent, will ever succeed in popu-
lating the world with self-reliant, self-respecting,
honorable and capable people.
On the other hand, I do not see how the ballot
in the hands of woman will do for her all that many
believe it will. That it is her right and would go
far is clear; but after that, your question of eco-
nomics touches her in a way that it does not and
cannot touch men, and T am free to confess that
as yet I have heard of no economic or social plan
that would not of necessity, in my opinion, bear
heaviest upon those who are mothers. So you
will see that when I suggested the desirablity in
"For the Prosecution" of having mothers on the
bench and as jurors where a case touched points
no man living does or can understand in all its
phases, I do not think that would right all the
wrong nor solve all the questions suggested by
such a trial; but I thought it would help push the
car of right and justice in the direction of light
which we all hope is ahead.
Preface to the Eighth Edition. vii
You believe more in environment than in hered-
ity; I believe in both, and that both are sadly and
awfully awry, largely because too many people
in too many ways pay to impudent authority the
tribute of a thoughtless yes.
It is one of the saddest things in this world to
see the brave and earnest men who fight so nobly
for better and fairer economic conditions for
"Labor," pay, much too often, the tribute of a
thoughtless yes to the absolute pauper status of all
womanhood. They resent with spirit the idea
that men should labor for a mere subsistence and
always be dependent upon and at the financial
mercy of the rich. They do not appear to see that
to one-half of the race even that much economic
independence would be a tremendous improve-
ment upon her present status. How would Single-
tax or Free-land help this ? You may reply that
Anarchism would solve that problem. Would it ?
With maternity and physical disabilities in the scale?
To my mind, all the various economic schemes yet
put forward lack an essential feature. They pro-
vide for a free and better manhood, but they pay
the tribute of a thoughtless yes to impudent au-
thority in the case of womanhood, in many things.
And so long as motherhood is serfhood, just so
long will this world be populated with a race easy
to subjugate, weak to resist oppression, criminal
in its instincts of cruelty toward those in its power,
and humble and subservient toward authority and
viii Preface to the Eighth Edition.
domination. Character rises but little above its
source. The mother molds the man. If she
have the status, the instincts, and the spirit of a
subordinate, she will transmit these, and the more
enlightened she is the surer is this, because of her
consciousness of her own degradation.
Look at the Kemmler horror. People all marvel
at his "brutish nature and his desire to kill." No
one says anything about the fact, which was
merely mentioned at his trial, that his "father was
a butcher and his mother helped in the business."
Did you know that this is also true of Jesse Pome-
roy; the boy who "from infancy tortured animals
and killed whatever he could?"
Would all this sort of thing mean absolutely
nothing to women of the same social and scientific
status enjoyed by the men who assisted at the
trials of these two and at the legal murder of one?
In ordinary women, of course, it would not stir
very deep thought. But these were not ordinary
men. They were far more than that Almost all
the women who have spoken or written to me of
the Kemmler horrer have touched that thought.
Have you heard a man discuss it? Is there area-
son for this ? Do we pay the tribute of a thought-
less yes to all that clusters about the present ideas
on such subjects and about their criminal medico-
legal aspects? But this letter grows too long.
With great respect and hearty good wishes, I am
sincerely, Helen H. Gardener.
H Splenoio Suoge of a Momam
" We look at the one little woman's face we love, as we look at
the face of our mother earth, and see all sorts of answers to
our own yearnings" — GEORGE ELIOT.
A SPLENDID JUDGE OF A WOMAN.
" But after all it is not fair to blame her as you
do, Cuthbert. She is what she must be. It is not
at all strange. Midge — "
" I am quite out of patience with you, Nora ; "
exclaimed Cuthbert Wagner, vehemently. " How
can you excuse her ? Midge, as you call her, has
been no friend to you. She was deceitful and de-
signing all along. She even tried in every way she
could think of to undermine you in my affections !"
He tossed his head contemptuously and strode to
the window where he stood glaring out into the
moonlight in fierce and indignant protest. His wife
had so often spoken well of Margaret Mintern.
She did not appear to hold the least resentment to-
ward the school-friend of her past years, while
Cuthbert could see nothing whatever that was good
or deserving of praise in the character of the young
lady in question. He was bitterly resentful because
Margaret Mintern had spoken ill of his wife while
she was only his betrothed, and Cuthbert Wagner
did not forgive easily.
Nora crossed the room with her swift, graceful
tread, and the sweep of her lace gown over the
12 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
thick rug had not reached her husband's ear as he
stood thumping on the window pane. He started
a little, therefore, when a soft hand was laid upon
his arm and a softer face pressed itself close to his
" It is very sweet of you, dear," she said in her
low, gentle voice, " It is very sweet of you to feel so
keenly any thrust made at me ; but darling, you are
unfair to Midge, poor girl! My heart used often
to bleed for her. It must be terribly hard for her
to fight her own nature, as she does, — as she must,
— and lose the battle so often after all."
"Fight fiddle-sticks!" said Cuthbert, and then
went on grumbling in inarticulate sounds, at which
his wife laughed out merrily.
"Oh, boo, boo, boo," she said, pretending to
imitate his unuttered words.
" I don't believe a word of it. / know Margaret
Mintern. Did I not room with her for three long
years ? And do I not know that she is a good girl,
and a very noble one, too, in spite of her little
weakness of envy or jealousy?
She can't help that. I am sure she must be
terribly humiliated by it. Indeed, indeed, dear, I
know that she is ; but she cannot master it. It is
a part of # her. I do not know whether she was born
with it or not ; but I do know that all of her life
since she was a very little girl she has been so situ-
ated that just that particular defect in her char-
acter is the inevitable result. Don't you believe,
Cuthbert, that all such things are natural produc-
A Splendid Judge of a Woman,. 13
tions ? Why, dearie, it seems to me that you might
as reasonably feel angry with me because my hair
is brown as toward Midge because her envy some-
times overbears her better qualities. The real fault
"O Nora, suppose you take the stump! Lecture
on 'Whatever is is right,' and have done with it."
"Aha, my dear," laughed his wife, "I have
caught you napping again. I do not say that it is
right ; but I do say that it is natural for Margaret
to be just what she is. That is just the point
people always overlook, it seems to me. Nature
is wrong about half of the time — even inanimate
nature. Just look over there! See those splendid
mountains and the lovely little valley all touched
with moonlight ; but, oh, how the eye longs for
water! A lake, a splendid river, the ocean in the
distance — something that is water — anything that
is water ! But no, it is valley and mountain and
mountain and valley, until the most beautiful
spot in the world, when first you see it, grows
hateful and tiresome and lacking in the most im-
Cuthbert laughed. " A lake would look well just
over there by McGuire's barn, now, wouldn't it ?
And, come to think of it, how a few mountains
would improve things over at Newport or Long
Beach." He stopped to thump a bug from his
" How pretty you look in that black lace, little
woman. I don't believe nature needed any im-
14 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
prover once in her life anyhow — when she made
Nora smiled. A pleased, gratified little dimple
made itself visible at one corner of her mouth.
Her husband stooped over and kissed it lightly,
just as the portiere was drawn aside and a guest
announced by James, the immaculate butler.
"We've just been having a quarrel, Bailey," said
Mr. Wagner, as he advanced to greet the visitor,
"and now I mean to leave it to you if — "
"Yes," drawled Mr. Bailey, "I noticed that as I
came in. You were just punctuating your quarrel
as James drew back the portiere. That is the reason
I coughed so violently as I stepped inside. Don't
be alarmed about my health. It isn't consumption.
It is only assumption, I do assure you. I assumed
that you assumed that you were alone — that there
wasn't an interested spectator ; but, great Scott!
Bert, I don't blame you, so don't apologize ; " and
with a low bow of admiration to his friend's wife,
he joined in the laugh.
" But what was the row ? I'm consumed to hear
it," he added, as they were seated. " I should be
charmed to umpire the matter — so long as it ended
that way. Now, go on ; but I want to give you
fair warning, old man, that I am on Mrs. Wag-
ner's side to start with, so you fire off your biggest
guns and don't attempt to roll any twisted
" Curved balls," laughed Nora, "not twisted; and
it seems to me you mixed your games just a wee
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 15
bit. There isn't any game with guns and balls
both, is there?"
" Oh, yes, yes indeed," replied Mr. Bailey,
promptly. " The old, old game in which there is
brought to bear a battery of eyes."
" Oh, don't," said Cuthbert. " I am not equal to
it! But after all, I can't see that you are well out
of this, Ned. Where do the balls come in ?"
" What have you against eyeballs that roll in a
fine frenzy when a battery of handsome eyes is
trained upon a bashful fellow like me ?" he asked
quite gravely, and then all three laughed and Cuth-
bert pretended to faint.
" I shall really have to protest, myself, if you go
any farther, Mr. Bailey," said Nora.
" You are getting into deep water, and if you are
to be on my side in the coming contest, I want you
to have a cool head and — "
" A clean heart ; " put in Cuthbert.
" Mrs. Wagner never asks for impossibilities, I
am sure," said Mr. Bailey, dryly.
" But she does. That is just it. She wants to
make me believe that a girl who traduced her and
acted like a little fiend generally, is an adorable
creature — a natural production which couldn't help
itself — had to behave that way. We — "
" I believe I started in by saying that I should
be on your side, Mrs. Wagner," said their guest,
assuming a judicial attitude and bracing himself be-
hind an imaginary pile of accumulated evidence,
" but I'm beginning to wobble already. If Bert
1 6 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
makes another home run like that, I warn you,
madam, that while I shall endeavor to be a fair and
impartial judge, I shall decide against you.
Nora's eyes had a twinkle in their depths for an
instant, but her face had grown grave.
"Wait. Let me tell you," she said. "Even
Cuthbert does not know just how it was — what
went to make my old school-friend's character
precisely what it became. It was like this: When
she was a very little girl her father died, and the poor
little mother went back home with her four young
children, and her crushed pride, to bean additional
burden to the already overburdened father, who was
growing old and who had small children of his own
still to educate and pilot through society.
He had lost his hold on business when he went
into the army ; and although he came home a gen-
eral, quite covered with glory, a large family cannot
live on glory, you know, and fame will not buy
party dresses for three daughters and a grandchild."
" I've noticed that," remarked Mr. Bailey, dryly.
" The added importance of his position and the
consequent publicity made the handsome party
gowns all the more necessary, however," said Nora,
not heeding the interruption, " and so the family
had to do a great many things that were not pleasant
to make even one end meet, as poor Midge used to
The General loved brains and his granddaughter
was very bright."
Cuthbert gave a low whistle. He would not
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 1 7
compromise. If he found one thing wrong in an
acquaintance all things were wrong. It followed,
therefore, in his mind, that since Margaret Min-
tern had been guilty of envy, she was altogether
unlikely to possess fine mental capabilities. He
would not even allow that she was stylish and sang
His wife took no notice of his outburst, but her
color deepened a little as she went on.
" She was the most clever girl mentally that I
have ever known and she was a vast deal of service
to me in the years we were together. She sharpened
my wits and stimulated my thoughts in a thousand
ways, for which I am her debtor still. But I am
getting ahead of my story. As I say, the old Gen-
eral worshipped brains, but he also adored beauty ;
and, alas, his granddaughter was quite plain — "
" Ugly as a hedge-fence, and I never could see
that she was so superhumanly brilliant or stylish,
as you claim, either," put in Cuthbert Wagner, as he
leaned back in his deep chair with his eyes drawn
to a narrow line.
" She was almost exactly the same age of her
Aunt Julia, the General's youngest daughter ; but
Julia was a dream of beauty and of stupidity."
" Situation is now quite plain," said Mr. Bailey.
" The lovely Julie got there. She always does,
" Ah, but you must remember that in this case
' there ' was the heart of the father of one and the
grandfather of the other," said Nora, smiling.
1 8 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
Her husband laughed outright and faced Mr.
" I rather think she has got you now, old man.
In a case like that I'm hanged if I know how it
would turn out — who would get there. The ele-
ments won't mix. It is not the usual thing.
" The beautiful stupid and the brilliant but plain
are all right, — regular stage properties, so to speak, —
but the grandfather! I'll wager if we tossed up
for it, and you got heads and I got tails we'd both
" There is something actually uncanny in the aged
grandparent ingredient in a conundrum like that.
Now if it were a young fellow, — only the average
donkey, — why of course the lovely Julia would
bear off the palm and leave Midge, as Nora calls
her, to pine away. But if it were a level-headed,
middle-aged chap like me, brains would take pre-
cedence." He waved his hand lightly toward his
wife, who parted her lips over a set of little white
teeth and a radiant smile burst forth.
" You are a bold hypocrite, Bert," said Mr. Bailey.
" You did not have to make any such choice, and
you are not entitled to the least credit in the prem-
ises. You got both."
" This is really quite overwhelming," laughed
" Why on earth did you call her attention to it,
Ned," exclaimed Mr. Wagner, with great pretence
of annoyance. " She would have swallowed it
whole. I wonder why it is a woman so loves to be
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 19
told that you married her for her intellect, when in
nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of eight
hundred and forty you did nothing of the kind, and
she knows it perfectly well. You married her be-
cause you loved her, brains or no brains, beauty or
no beauty, and that's an end of it. Isn't that so,
" Well, I'm not prepared to say, yet. I am
umpire. I have not made up my mind which I
shall marry — the lovely Julia, or the brilliant niece;
but I think I shall in the long run."
" God help you if you do!" said Cuthbert, dra-
matically. " I don't know Julia, the beautiful;
but I'd hate to see you married to a cat with uncut
claws, Ned, much as I think you need dressing
down from time to time."
" Mrs. Wagner," said Mr. Bailey, turning to her,
gravely, " I'm not paying the least attention to
him, and I am eager to hear how the grandfather
got out of it."
"The grandfather!" exclaimed Nora, "why I
had no idea of telling his story. It was the two
girls I was interested in — or at least, in one of
them; but that is just like a man. He — "
She allowed her feather fan to fall in her lap
and looked up helplessly. " But come to think of
the other side, his story would be worth telling,
wouldn't it ? It must have been a rather trying
situation for him, too."
She took the fan up again, and waved it before
her, thoughtfully. " I wonder why I never thought
20 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
of that before. I have always rather blamed him
for developing his granddaughter's one sad defect.
I thought he should have guarded her against it.
And — I do wonder if it is because I am a woman
that I never before thought how very difficult it
must have been for him ?"
" No doubt, no doubt," said her husband, dryly.
" But now that we have shed a few tears over our
mental shortcomings and lack of breadth of sym-
pathy in overlooking the sad predicament of the
doughty General, proceed. The umpire sleepeth
apace, and I've got to have my shy at the
charming Midge before weVe done with her,"
and he shut his paper-knife with a wicked little
"You can see how it would be," Nora began
again, quite gravely, and the gentlemen both smiled.
" You can see how it would be. The grand-
daughter was made to feel that she was in the way
— was a burden. Her mother would urge her to
become indispensable to the old General. To read
to him, talk brightly to him, sing and play for him,
watch his moods and meet them cleverly. It was
all done as a race for his affections. Julia raced
with her, setting her beauty and the other great
fact that she was the child of his old age over
against the entertaining qualities of her rival."
Mr. Bailey drew his handkerchief across his brow
and looked helplessly perplexed, while Cuthbert
responded with a dreary shake of the head.
" It is a clear case of ' The Lady or the Tiger,'
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 21
yet, so far as I can see," said he. " Who got there,
Mr. Bailey smiled despairingly, and shook his
head, but said nothing.
" It went on like that day after day, week after
week, month after month, year after year," con-
tinued Nora, looking steadily in front of her and
shivering a little, " until they were both young
ladies. The General gave a party to present them
both to society at the same time. His grand-
daughter tried to make him feel that he was repaid
for the expense and trouble by the display of her
exceptional powers as a conversationalist — Julia,
by the display of her neck and shoulders, her ex-
quisite rose-leaf face, and her childishly pretty
manners. This sort of rivalry would have been
well enough, no doubt, if it had not been for the
fact that from childhood up to this culmination
there had been a dash of bitterness in it, an un-
der-current of antagonism; and poor Midge had
always been the main sufferer, because she was
very sensitive and she was made to feel that all
she received was taken from her aunt Julia.
To stand first with her father, Julia would do
almost anything; and the ingenuity with which she
devised cruel little stabs at Midge was simply
phenomenal. To be absolutely necessary to him
became almost a mania with his granddaughter."
" If this thing goes on much longer, I am going
to have a fit," Cuthbert announced, placidly.
" The girl you judge so harshly, poor child, had
22 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
a great many of them," said Nora, with an inflec-
tion in her voice that checked a laugh on Mr.
Bailey's lips. " Fits of depression, fits of anger, fits
of sorrow, fits of shame and of indignation with her-
self and with others. For there were times when
she stooped to little meannesses which her sensitive
soul abhorred. If intense effort resulted, after all,
in failure, envy of her successful rival grew up in
her heart; and, sometimes, if it were carefully cul-
tivated by the pruning hook of sarcasm or an un-
kind look of triumph, she would say or do a mean
or underhand thing, and then regret it passionately
when it was too late."
Cuthbert gave a grunt of utter incredulity.
" Regretted it so little she'd do it again next
day," he grumbled. Nora went steadily on.
" It grew to be the one spring and impulse of
her whole nature — the necessity of her existence —
to stand first with the ruling spirit wherever she
was, whoever it might be. At school I have
known her to sit up all night to make sure that
she would be letter-perfect in her lessons the fol-
lowing morning. Not because she cared for her
studies so much as because she must feel that she
stood first in the estimation of her teachers. And
then, too, her grandfather would know and be proud
of her. It got to be nature with her (I do not know
how much of the tendency may have been born in
her) to need to stand on the top wherever she was.
(It has always seemed to me that the conditions sur-
rounding her were quite enough to explain this char-
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 23
acteristic without an appeal to a possible heredity
of which I can know nothing.) Even where we
boarded, although she disliked the women and
looked down upon the young men, she made them
all like her, and even went the length of allowing
one young fellow to ask her to marry him simply
because she saw that he was interested in me."
" Humph! She—" began Cuthbert, but his wife
held up her hand to check him, and did not pause
in her story.
" Up to that time she had not given him a thought,
and she was very angry when he finally asked the
great question. She thought that he should have
known that such a girl as she was could not be for a
man of his limitations. She felt insulted. She flew
up stairs and cried with indignation. ' The mere
idea!' she said to me. ' How dared he! The com-
mon little biped!' I told her that she had en-
couraged him, and had brought unnecessary pain
upon him as well as regret upon herself. Then she
was angry with me. By and by she put her hand
out in the darkness and took mine and pressed it.
Then she said, ' Nora, it was my fault; but — but — '
and then she began to sob again. ' But, Nora, I
don't — know — why — I — did — it — and,' there was a
long pause. " And, beside, I thought he was in love
with you,' she sobbed out."
" That was the whole story," said Cuthbert, re-
sentfully. " She simply wanted to supplant you
" Yes, that was the whole story, as you say, dear,"
24 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
said his wife, gently; "but the poor girl could not
help it. And — and she did not understand it her-
self at all."
" You make me provoked, Nora," said Cuthbert,
almost sharply. " She wasn't a fool. She tried
the same game on me a year or two later; but that
time it didn't work. She even went the length of
talking ill of you to me — saying little cutting
things — when she found I had utterly succumbed
to your attractions. I have to laugh yet when I
think of it, — that is, when it don't make me too
angry to laugh, — how I gave her a good round
talking to." He laughed now at the recollec-
" She must have taken me for her delightful old
grandparent the way I lectured her. But when I
remembered how loyal you were to her, it just made
my blood boil and I told her so."
Mr. Bailey shifted his position and began to
contemplate giving a verdict emphatically against
the absent lady, when Nora checked him by a wave
of her fan.
" Yes, I know she did, Cuthbert, and I know
everything you said to her. You were very cruel
— if you had understood, as you did not and do
not yet. She came and told me all about it."
Cuthbert Wagner gave a low, incredulous whistle,
and even Mr. Bailey looked sceptical.
" She came back from that drive with you the
most wretched girl you ever saw. Her humiliation
was pitiful to see. Her self-reproach was touching
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 25
and real. I believe she would have killed herself
if I had seemed to blame her."
Cuthbert snapped out:
" Humph! Very likely; and gone and done the
same thing again the next day."
" Possibly that is true — if there had been a next
day with a new temptation that was too strong for
her on the shore where she landed after death.
" If the Almighty had shown a preference for
some one else, hey ?" asked Mr. Bailey, flippantly.
" No doubt, no doubt," acquiesced Nora. "But
suppose you had a weak leg and it gave way at a
critical moment — say just, when you were entering
an opera box to greet a lady. Suppose it dropped
you in a ridiculous or humiliating manner. You
would rage and be distressed, and make up your
mind not to let it occur again, except in the seclu-
sion of your own apartments; but — well, it would be
quite as likely to serve you the same trick the fol-
lowing week, in church."
" The illustration does not strike me as quite
fair," said Mr. Bailey, judicially.
" Good, Ned ! Don't let her argue you into an
interest in that little cat. She was simply a mali-
cious little — "
" Wait, then," said Nora, ignoring her husband's
outburst and looking steadily at Margaret Mintern's
new judge, who was showing signs of passing a sen-
tence no less severe than if it were delivered by
Cuthbert Wagner himself.
26 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
" Suppose we take your memory. Are there not
some names or dates that will drop out at times
and leave you awkwardly in the lurch?"
" Well, rather," said Mr. Bailey, disgustedly. This
was his weak spot.
" Now, don't you see that a person who has a
perfect memory might be as unfair to you as you
are to my old school friend in her little moral weak-
ness — if we may call it by so harsh a term as that ?
That was her one vulnerable spot. It may have
been born in her. That I do not know; but I in-
sist that it was trained and drilled into her as much
as her arithmetic or her catechism were, and with
a result as inevitable. She loathed her fault, but it
was too strong for her. Her resolution to conquer
it dropped just short of success very often, indeed;
and oh ! how it did hurt her when she realized it
and thought it all over, for her motives were un-
usually pure, and her moral sense was really very
" Moral sense was a little frayed at the edges, I
" Don't, Cuthbert. You are such a cruelly se-
vere judge. I know Mr. Bailey is on my side, now,
and will think you very unfair. He does not mean
to be, I assure you, Mr. Bailey, and if she had not
spoken ill of me he would see the case fairly. But
what are you thinking ?"
" That it is a rather big question. That I — that
I have overstayed my time. I just came over to
ask you to dine with us next Thursday. My mother
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 2 J
has some friends and wants you to meet them. May
I leave my judicial decision open until then?"
" Certainly. Pray over it," said Cuthbert, rising;
"and if you don't come out on my side, openly, — as
I know you are in your mind, — buy a wire mask. I
won't have any dodging."
" Come early. There is a secret to tell," laughed
Mr. Bailey as he withdrew, and then he blushed
furiously. " Mother's secret," he added, as he
closed the door behind him.
The evening of the dinner the Wagners were
later than they had intended to be, and Mrs. Bailey
took Nora aside and said quite abruptly:
" I've got to pop it at you rather suddenly. Why
didn't you come earlier ? The lady whom Ned is
to marry is here, and it is for her I have given the
dinner. Ned went to your house to tell you last
week, but his heart failed him. He said you were
all in such a gale of nonsense that he concluded to
wait. It is a very tender subject with him, I assure
you. His case is quite hopeless. He is madly in
love, and I am very much pleased with his choice.
She seems as nearly perfect as they ever are, and she
is unusually talented. But here is Ned now. I
have told her all about it, my son, come and be
He came forward shyly enough for a man of his
years and experience, and took Nora's hand in a
helpless way. But Cuthbert relieved matters at
once by a hearty " Well, it is splendid, old fellow.
I'm delighted. I—"
28 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
" But before the others come down," broke in
Mr. Bailey, as if to get away from the subject, " I
want to get my discharge papers in that case you
plead before me last week. It lies heavy on my
soul, for I am very sorry to say, Mrs. Wagner, that
I am compelled to give judgment against you and
your client. I think she was — I'm with Cuthbert
this time. She impresses me as almost without re-
deeming qualities. I do not wish to make her ac-
quaintance. I am sure that I could never force
myself to take even a passing interest in that sort
of a moral acrobat. Really, the lovely but selfish
Julia would be my choice in a team of vicious lit-
tle pacers like that. I'm sure I should detect your
friend's fatal weakness in her every action. I should
be unable to see anything but the hideous green-
eyed monster even in the folds of her lace gowns
or the coils of her shining hair. He would appear
to me, ghost-like, peering over her shoulder in the
midst of her most fascinating conversation. I should
feel his fangs and see the glitter of his wicked
eyes while I tried to say small nothings to her,
" Oh, not at all," protested Nora. " You would
never detect it at all unless she happened to be
fighting for your esteem or admiration where she
felt that odds were against her. She — "
" I beg your pardon, Mrs. Wagner, but I am
quite sure that I should. Envy is to me the very
worst trait in the human character. I could more
easily excuse or be blinded to anything else. I
A Splendid Judge of a Woman. 29
know that I should detect it at once. I always do
— especially in a woman."
"Certainly. Anybody could. You know very
well, Nora, that I saw — " began Cuthbert quite glee-
fully; but as a salve to her wounded feelings Mr.
Bailey added in a tone of conciliation to Nora:
" However, I shall agree to let you test me some
day. Present your friend to me, incog., and I'll
wager — oh, anything that I shall read her like a book
on sight. I'm a splendid judge of a woman. Always
was from childhood. I'm sure that I should feel
creepy the moment I saw the brilliant but envious
granddaughter of the unfortunate old warrior.
And by the way, he continues to be the one for
whom you have enlisted my sympathy. I wonder
that he was able to live two weeks in the same
house with such a — "
" Cat," said Cuthbert, with a vicious jab at a
paper-weight which represented a solemn-looking
Chinese god in brocade trousers. He was just
turning to enter into a cheerful and elaborate
statement of his side of the controversy, as Mrs.
Bailey swept down the room with her son's be-
trothed upon her arm, smiling and happy.
" Margaret Mintern !" exclaimed Nora, in dis-
may, and then —
" I am so glad to see you again, dear, and to be
able to congratulate you, instead of some fair un-
known, upon the fact that you are to have so dear
a friend of ours for a husband. We think every-
thing of Mr. Bailey. He is Bert's best friend and — "
30 A Splendid Judge of a Woman.
Cuthbert had turned half away in utter confu-
sion when he saw the ladies coming down the room,
and feigned an absorption in the rotund Chinese
deity which he had never displayed for the one of
his own nation. But he bowed now, and mumbled
some inarticulate sounds as he looked, not at the
future Mrs. Bailey, but at the ridiculously happy
face of her lover, whose usually ready tongue was
silent as he hung upon the lightest tone of the
brilliant woman beside him. As they passed into
the dining-room, Nora managed to say to her hus-
" Thank heaven we did not mention her name
to him, and he evidently does not suspect. Pull
yourself together and stumble through your part
the best you can, dear, without attracting his at-
tention. And then you know that he and you
agree perfectly about the — cat," she added wick-
edly, and then she smiled quietly as she took her
seat next to the blissful lover and the relentless
judge of the school friend of her youth.
XTbe Xaoy of tbe Club*
' l Poor naked wretches, wheresoever you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides,
Your looped, and window' 'd raggedness % defend you
Fron seasons such as these ? O, I have ta'en
Too tittle care of this ! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel;
That thou may's t shake the superftux to them,
And show the heavens more just.' 1 ''
THE LADY OF THE CLUB.
The old and somewhat cynical saying, that phi-
losophers and reformers can bear the griefs and
woes of other people with a heroism and resigna-
tion worthy of their creeds, would have fitted the
case of Roland Barker only when shorn of the in-
tentional sting of sarcasm. It is, nevertheless, true
that even his nobly-gifted nature, his tender heart,
and his alert brain sometimes failed to grasp the
very pith and point of his own arguments.
He was a wealthy man whose sympathies were
earnestly with the poor and unfortunate. He be-
lieved that he understood their sufferings, their
ambitions, and their needs ; and his voice and pen
were no more truly on the side of charity and
brotherly kindness than was his purse.
It was no unusual thing for him to attend a
meeting, address a club, or take part in a memorial
service, where his was the only hand unused to
toil, and where he alone bore all expense, and then
— after dressing himself in the most approved and
faultless manner — become the guest of honor at
some fashionable entertainment. Indeed, he was
34 The Lady of the Club.
a leader in fashion as well as in philosophy, and at
once a hero in Avenue A and on Murray Hill-
On the evening of which I am about to tell you
he had addressed a club of workingmen in their
little dingy hall, taking as his subject " Realities of
Life." He had sought to show them that poverty
and toil are not, after all, the worst that can befall
a man, and that the most acute misery dwells in
palaces and is robed in purple.
He spoke with the feeling of one who had him-
self suffered— as, indeed, he had— from the unsym-
pathetic associations of an uncongenial marriage.
He portrayed, with deep feeling, the chill atmos-
phere of a loveless home, whose wealth and glitter
and lustre could never thrill and enrapture the
heart as might the loving hand-clasp in the bare,
chill rooms where sympathy and affection were the
companions of poverty.
I had admired his enthusiasm as he pictured the
joy of sacrifice for the sake of those we love, and I
had been deeply touched by his pathos — a pathos
which I knew, alas, too well, sprang from a hungry
heart — whether, as now, it beat beneath a simple
coat of tweed or, as when hours later, it would
still be the prisoner of its mighty longing, though
clothed with elegance and seated at a banquet fit
The last words fell slowly from his lips, and his
eyes were dimmed, as were the eyes of all about
me. His voice, so full of feeling, had hardly ceased
to throb when, far back in the little hall, arose a
The Lady of the Club. 35
woman, thin and worn, and plainly clad, but show-
ing traces of a beauty and refinement which had
held their own and fought their way inch by inch
in spite of poverty, anxiety, and tears. The chair-
man recognized her and asked her to the platform.
" No," she said, in a low, tremulous tone which
showed at once her feeling and her culture — " no,
I do not wish to take the platform; but since you
ask for criticism of the kind speech we have just
listened to, it has seemed to me that I might offer
one, although I am a stranger to you all."
Her voice trembled, and she held firmly to the
back of a chair in front of her. The chairman
signified his willingness to extend to her the privi-
lege of the floor, and there was slight applause.
She bowed and began again slowly:
" I sometimes think that it is useless to ever try
to make the suffering rich and the suffering poor
understand each other. I do not question that the
gentleman has tasted sorrow. All good men have.
I do not question that his heart is warm and true
and honest, and that he truly thinks what he has
said ; but " — and here her voice broke a little and
her lip trembled — " but he does not know what real
suffering is. He cannot. No rich man can."
There was a movement of impatience in the
room, and some one said, loud enough to be heard,
" If she thinks money can bring happiness she is
There was a slight ripple of laughter at this, and
even the serious face of Roland Barker grew almost
36 The Lady of the Club.
merry for a moment. Then the woman went on,
without appearing to have noticed the interrup-
" I do not want to seem ungracious, and heaven
knows, no one could mean more kindly what I say;
but he has said that money is not needed to make
us happy — only love ; and again he quotes that
baseless old maxim, ' The love of money is the root
of all evil.' " She paused, then went slowly on as
if feeling her way and fearing to lose her hold
upon herself : " I know it is a sad and cruel world
even to the more fortunate, if they have hearts to
feel and brains to think. To the unloving or un-
loved there must be little worth; but they at least
are spared the agony that sits where love and pov-
erty have shaken hands with death" — her voice
broke, and there was a painful silence in the room
— " where those who love are wrung and torn by
all the thousand fears and apprehensions of ills that
are to come to wife and child and friend. The
day has passed when all this talk of poverty and
love — that love makes want an easy thing to bear
— the day has passed, I say, when sane men ought
to think, or wise men speak, such cruel, false, and
harmful words. He truly says that money without
love cannot bring happiness; but that is only half
the truth, for love with poverty can bring, does
bring, the keenest agony that mortals ever bore."
There was a movement of dissent in the hall.
She lifted her face a moment, contracted her lips,
drew a long breath, and said:
The Lady of the Club. 37
" I will explain. Without the love, poverty were
light enough to bear. What does it matter for
one's self ? It is the love that gives the awful sting
to want, and makes its cruel fingers grip the throat
as never vise or grappling-hook took hold, and
torture with a keener zest than fiends their victims !
Love and Poverty ! // is the combination that devils
invented to make a hell on earth."
All eyes were fastened on her white face now, and
she was rushing on, her words, hot and impassioned,
striking firm on every point she made.
"Let me give you a case. In a home where
comfort is — or wealth — a mother sits, watching by
night and day the awful hand of Death reach
nearer, closer to her precious babe, and nothing
that skill or science can suggest will stay the hand
or heal the aching heart ; and yet there is comfort
in the thought that all was done that love and
wealth and skill could do, and that it was Nature's
way. But take from her the comfort of that
thought. She watches with the same poor, break-
ing heart, but with the knowledge, now, to keep
her company, that science might, ah ! could, push
back the end, could even cure her babe if but the
means to pay for skill and change and wholesome
food and air were hers. Is that no added pang?
Is poverty no curse to her ? — a curse the deeper for
her depth of love ? The rich know naught of this.
It gives to life its wildest agony, to love its deepest
She paused. There was a slight stir as if some
38 The Lady of the Club.
one had thought to offer applause, and then the
silence fell again, and she began anew, with shining
eyes and cheeks aflame. She swayed a little as she
spoke and clutched the chair as for support. Her
voice grew hoarse, and trembled, and she fixed her
gaze upon a vacant chair:
" But let me tell you of another case. A stone's
throw from this hall, where pretty things are said
*week after week — and kindly meant, I know — of
poverty and love — of the blessedness of these —
there is a living illustration, worth more than all
the theories ever spun, to tell you what 'realities of
life' must be where love is great and poverty holds
sway. Picture, with me, the torture and despair of
a refined and cultured woman who watches hour by
hour the long months through, and sees the creep-
ing feet of mental wreck and physical decay, and
knows the mortal need of care and calm for him
who is the whole of life to her, and for the want of
that which others waste and hold as dross he must
work on and on, hastening each day the end he does
not see, which shall deprive him of all of life except
the power for ill. . . . She will be worse than
widowed and alone, for ever by her side sits Want,
for him, tearing at every chord of heart and soul —
not for herself — but for that dearer one, wrecked in
the prime of life and left a clod endowed only with
strength for cruel wrong, whose hand would sheath
a knife in her dear heart and laugh with maniac
glee at his mad deeds. She saw the end. She
knew long months ago what was to be, if he must
The Lady of the Club. 39
toil and strain his nerve and brain for need of that
which goes from knave to knave, and hoards itself
within cathedral walls, where wise men meet to
teach the poor contentment with their lot ! She
knew he must not know; the knowledge of the
shadow must be kept from his dear brain until the
very end, by smiles, and cheer, and merry jest from
her. Who dare tell her that riches are a curse?
and prate of ' dross' and call on heaven to witness
that its loss is only gain of joy and harbinger
of higher, holier things ? Who dare call her as wit-
ness for the bliss of poverty with love ?"
She slowly raised her hand and, with a quick-
drawn breath, pressed it against her side, and with
her eyes still fastened on the vacant chair, and tears
upon her cheeks, falling unchecked upon her heav-
ing bosom, she held each listener silent and intent
on every word she spoke. The time allotted anyone
was long since overrun; but no one thought of that,
and she went on:
'"With love!' Ah, there is where the iron can
burn and scar and open every wound afresh each
day, make poverty a curse, a blight, a scourge,
a vulture, iron-beaked, with claws of burning steel,
that leave no nerve untouched, no drop of blood
"'With love!' Tis there the hand of Poverty
can deal the deadliest blows, and show, as nowhere
else on earth, the value of that slandered, hoarded
thing called wealth."
There blazed into her face a fierce, indignant
40 The Lady of the Club.
light, her voice swelled out and struck upon the ear
like fire-bells in the dead of night.
"'The root of evil!' — 'poverty with love!'
Hypocrisy, in purple velvet robed, behind stained
glass, with strains of music falling on its ears, with
table spread in banquet-hall below, bethought itself
to argue thus to those itself had robbed; while,
thoughtless of its meaning and its birth, the echo
of its lying, treacherous words comes from the pal-
lid lips of many a wretch whose life has been a fail-
ure and an agony because of that which he himself
extols. A lie once born contains a thousand lives,
and holds at bay the struggling, feeble truth, if but
that lie be fathered by a priest and mothered by a
throne — as this one was J ' The root of evil ' is the
spring of joy. Decry it those who will. And
those who do not love, perchance, may laugh at all
its need can mean; but to the loving, suffering poor
bring no more cant, and cease to voice the hollow
words of Ignorance and Hypocrisy. It is too cruel,
and its deadly breath has long enough polluted
sympathy and frozen up the springs of healthy
thought, while sheathing venomed fangs in break-
ing hearts. Recast your heartless creeds ! Your
theories for the poor are built on these."
She sank back into her chair white and ex-
There was a wild burst of applause. A part of
the audience, with that ear for sound and that lack
of sense to be found in all such gatherings, had for-
gotten that it was not listening to a burst of elo-
The Lady of the Club. 41
quence which had been duly written out and com-
mitted to memory for the occasion.
But Roland Barker sprang to his feet, held both
his hands up, to command silence, and said, in a
scarcely audible voice, as he trembled from head
to foot: " Hush, hush ! She has told the truth!
She has told the awful truth ! I never saw it all
before. Heaven help you to bear it. It seems to
me I cannot !"
Several were pale and weeping. I turned to
speak to the woman who had changed an evening's
entertainment into a tragic scene; but she had
slipped out during the excitement. I took Barker's
arm and we walked towards the Avenue together.
Neither of us spoke until we reached Madison
Square. Here the poor fellow sank into a seat
and pulled me down beside him.
" Don't talk to me about theories after that," he
said. " Great God ! I am more dead than alive.
I feel fifty years older than when I went to that
little hall to teach those people how to live by my
fine philosophy, and I truly thought that I had
tasted sorrow and found the key to resignation.
Ye gods !"
" Perhaps you have," I said.
"Yes, yes," he replied, impatiently; "but sup-
pose I had to face life day by day, hour by hour, as
that woman pictured it — and she was a lady with
as keen a sense of pain as I — what do you sup-
pose my philosophy would do for me then ?
Do you think I could endure it ? And I went
42 The Lady of t lie Club.
there to teach those people how to suffer and be
" Look here, Barker," I said, " you'd better go
home now and go to bed. You are cold and tired,
and this won't help matters any."
" What will ?" he asked.
I made no reply. When we reached his door he
"*Vh&t will ?"
I shook my head and left him standing in the
brilliant hall of his beautiful home, dazed and puz-
zled and alone.
The next time I met Roland Barker he grasped
my hand and said excitedly: "I have found that
woman ! What she said is all true. My God !
what is to be done ? I feel like a strong man tied
hand and foot, while devilish vultures feed on the
flesh of living babes before my eyes !"
"Stop, Barker," I said; "stop, and go away for
a while, or you will go mad. What have you been
doing? Look at your hands; they tremble like the
hands of a palsied man; and your face; why,
Barker, your face is haggard and set, and your hair
is actually turning gray ! What in the name of all
that's holy have you been doing?"
" Nothing, absolutely nothing !" he exclaimed
" That is the trouble ! What can I do ? I tell you
The Lady of the Club. 43
something is wrong, Gordon, something is desper-
ately wrong in this world. Look at that pile of
stone over there: millions of dollars are built into
that. It is opened once each week, aired, cleaned,
and put in order for a fashionable audience dressed
in silk and broadcloth. They call it a church, but
it is simply a popular club house, which, unlike
other club houses, hasn't the grace to pay its own
taxes. They use that club house, let us say, three
hours in all, each week, for what ? To listen to
elaborate music and fine-spun theories about an-
other world. They are asked to, and they give
money to send these same theories to nations far
away, who — to put it mildly — are quite as well off
without them. Then that house is closed for a
week, and those who sat there really believe that
they have done what is right by their fellow-men !
Their natural consciences, their sense of right and
justice, have been given an anaesthetic. ' The poor
ye have with you always,' they are taught to be-
lieve, is not only true, but right. I tell you, Gor-
don, it is all perfectly damnable, and it seems to
me that I cannot bear it when I remember that
" She is only one of a great many," I suggested.
Roland Barker groaned: "My God! that is the
trouble — so many that the thing seems hopeless.
And to think that on every one of even these poor
souls is laid another burden that that stone spire
may go untaxed !"
" Barker," I said, laying my hand on his arm,
44 The Lady of the Club.
"tell me what has forced all this upon you with
such a terrible weight just now."
" Not here, not now," he said. " I have written
it down just as she told it to me — you know I
learned stenography when I began taking an interest
in public meetings. Well, I've just been copying
those notes out. They are in my pocket," he said,
laying his hand on his breast. " They seem to burn
my very soul. I would not dare to trust myself to
read them to you here. Come home with me."
When we were seated in his magnificent library,
he glanced about him, and with a wave of his hand
said, with infinite satire: "You will notice the strik-
ing appropriateness of the surroundings and the
"No doubt," I said. "I have often noticed that
before, especially the last time I heard a sermon
preached to three of the Vanderbilts, two Astors,
five other millionaires, and about sixty more con-
sistent Christians, all of whom were wealthy. The
subject was Christ's advice to the rich young man,
' Sell all thou hast and give to the poor.' But never
mind; go on; the day has passed when deed and
creed are supposed to hold the slightest relation to
each other; and what is a $20,000 salary for if not
to buy sufficient ability to explain it all sweetly
away and administer, at the same time, an anaes-
thetic to the natural consciences of men?"
I settled myself in a large Turkish chair on one
side of the splendidly carved table; he stood on the
other side sorting a manuscript. Presently he
The Lady of the Club. 45
began reading it. "'When I married Frank
Melville he was strong and grand and brave; a
truer man never lived. He had been educated for
the law. His practice was small, but we were able
to live very well on what he made, and the prospect
for the future was bright. We loved each other —
but, ah ! there are no words to tell that. We
worshipped each other as only two who have been
happily mated can ever understand. We lived up
to his salary. Perhaps you will say that that was
not wise. We thought it was. A good appearance,
a fairly good appearance at least, was all that
we could make, and to hold his own in his pro-
fession, this was necessary. You know how that is.
A shabby-looking man soon loses his hold on
paying clients. Of course he would not dress well
and allow me to be ill-clad. He — he loved me.
We were never able to lay by anything ; but we
were young and strong and hopeful — and we loved
each other.'" Barker's voice trembled. He looked
at me a moment and then said very low: "If you
could have seen her poor, tired, beautiful eyes when
she said that."
" I can imagine how she looked," I said. " She
had a face one remembers."
After a little he went on : " We had both been
brought up to live well. Our friends were people of
culture, and we — it will sound strange to you for
me to say that our love and devotion were the ad-
miration and talk of all of them.
By-and-by I was taken ill. My husband could
46 The Lady of the Club.
not bear to think of me as at home alone, suffering
He stayed with me a great deal. I did not know
that he was neglecting his business; I think he did
not realize it then; he thought he could make it all
up; he was strong and — he loved me. At last the
doctors told him that I should die if he did not
take me away; I ought to have an ocean voyage.
It almost killed him that he could not give me that.
We had not the money. He took me away a little
while where I could breathe the salt air, and
the good it did me made his heart only the sadder
when he saw that it was true that all I needed was
an ocean voyage. The climate of his home was
slowly killing me. We bore it as long as we dared,
and I got so weak that he almost went mad. Then
we moved here, where my health was good. But it
was a terrible task to get business; there were
so many others like him, all fighting, as if for life,
for money enough to live on from day to day. The
strain was too much for him, and just as he began
to gain a footing he fell ill, and — and if we had had
money enough for him to take a rest then, and have
proper care, good doctors, and be relieved from
immediate anxiety, he would have gotten well, with
my care — I loved him so ! But as it was — ' Shall I
show you the end ?" Barker stopped, he was trem-
bling violently, his eyes were full of tears. I waited.
Presently he said, huskily: "Shall I tell you, Gor-
don, what I saw? I have not gotten over it yet.
She laid her finger on her lips and motioned me to
follow. The room where we had been was poor and
The Lady of the Club. 47
bare. She took a key from her bosom, opened a
door, and went in. I followed. Sitting in the only
comfortable chair — which had been handsome once
— was a magnificent-looking man, so far as mere
physical proportions can make one that.
" ' Darling,' she said tenderly, as if talking to a
little child. ' Darling, I have brought you a pres-
ent. Are you glad?'
" She handed him a withered rose that I had
carelessly dropped as I went in.
" He arose, bowed to me when she presented me,
waved me to his chair, took the flower, looked at
her with infinite love, and said: ' To-morrow, little
wife; wait till to-morrow.'
" Then he sat down, evidently unconscious of
my presence, and gazed steadily at her for a mo-
ment, seeming to forget all else and to struggle
with some thought that constantly eluded him.
She patted his hand as if he were a child, smiling
through her heart-break all the while, kissed him,
and motioned me to precede her from the room.
" When she came out she locked the door care-
fully behind her, sank into a chair, covered her
face with her hands, and sobbed as if her heart
would break. After a while she said: ' A little
money would have saved, him and now it is too late,
too late. Sometimes he is violent, sometimes like
that. The doctors say the end is not far off, and
that any moment he may kill me, and afterwards
awake to know it ! It is all the result of poverty
with love!' she said. Then, passionately: 'If I
48 The Lady of the Club.
did not love him so I could bear it, but I cannot, 1
cannot ! And how will he bear it if he ever harms
me — and I not there to help him ?' "
Barker stepped to the window to hide his emo-
tion. Presently he said, in a voice that trembled:
" If she did not love him so she could let him go
to some— asylum; but she knows the end is sure,
and not far off, and that the gleams of light he
has are when he sees her face. She has parted
with everything that made life attractive to keep
food and warmth for him. She is simply existing
now from day to day — one constant agony of soul
and sense — waiting for the end. She allowed me
to take a doctor to see him; I would have come
for you, but you were out of town. He only con-
firmed what others had told her a year ago. He
advised her to have him put in a safe place before
he did some violence; but she refused, and made
us promise not to interfere. She said he would be
able to harm no one but her, if he became violent
at the last, and she was ready for that. It was
easier far to live that way and wait for that each
day than to have him taken away where he would
be unhappy and perhaps ill-treated. He needed
her care and love beside him every hour, and she
— she needed nothing."
Here Barker flung himself into a chair and let
his head fall on his folded arms on the table.
" That is the way love makes poverty easy to
bear," he said, bitterly, after a time, and his trem-
bling hands clinched tight together.
The Lady of the Club. 49
" Did you give her any money ?" I asked.
He groaned. " Yes, yes, I— that is, I left some on
the table under her sewing. She isn't the kind of
woman one can offer charity. She — "
" No," I said, " she isn't, and beside, for the
pain that tortures her it is too late now for money
to help. Only it may relieve her somewhat to feel
sure that she can get what he needs to eat and
wear and to keep him warm and allow her to be
free from the necessity of outside work. I am glad
you left the money. But — but — Barker, do you
think she will use it, coming that way and from a
He looked up forlornly. " No, I don't," he said;
" and yet she may. I will hope so; but if she does,
what then ? The terrible question will still remain
just where it was. That is no way to solve it; we
can't bail out the ocean with a thimble. And
what an infamous imposition all this talk is of
* resignation ' to such as she; for her terrible calm,
as she talked to me, had no hint of resignation in
it. She is simply, calmly, quietly desperate now —
and she is one of many." He groaned aloud.
" Will you take me there the next time you go ?"
" She said I must not come back; she could not
be an object of curiosity — nor allow him to be.
She said that she allowed me to come this time be-
cause on the night we first saw her she had stepped
into that little hall to keep herself from freezing in
her thin clothes as she was making her way home,
50 The Lady of the Club.
and she saw that I was earnest in what I said, and
she stayed to listen — " his voice broke again.
Just then the drapery was drawn back, and his
wife, superbly robed, swept in, bringing a bevy of
" Oh, Mr. Barker," said one, gayly, " you don't
know what you missed to-night by deserting our
theatre party; it was all so real — love in rags, you
know, and all that sort of thing; only I really don't
like to see quite so much attention paid to the
' Suffering poor,' with a big S, and the lower classes
generally. I think the stage can do far better than
that, don't you ? But it is the new fad, I suppose,
and after all I fancy it doesn't do much harm, only
as it makes that sort of people more insufferably
obtrusive about putting their ill-clad, bad-smelling
woes before the rest of us. What a beautiful
vase this is, Mrs. Barker ! May I take it to the
" Certainly, my dear," laughed Mrs. Barker; " and
I agree with you, as usual. I think it is an exqui-
site vase — and that the stage is becoming demoral-
ized. It is pandering to the low taste for represen-
tations of low life. I confess I don't like it. That
sort of people do not have the feelings to be hurt —
the fine sensibilities and emotions attributed to
them. Those grow up in refined and delicate sur-
roundings. That is what I often tell Roland when
he insists upon making himself unhappy over some
new ' case ' of destitution. I tell him to send them
five dollars by mail and not to worry himself, and I
The Lady of the Club. 5 1
won't allow him to worry me with his Christie-street
Barker winced, and I excused myself and with-
drew, speculating on certain phases of delicacy of
feeling and fine sensibility.
I did not see Barker again for nearly three weeks,
when one night my bell was rung with unusual vio-
lence, and I he^rd an excited voice in my hall.
"Be quick, John; hurry," it said, "and tell the
doctor I must see him at once. Tell him it is
John had evidently demurred at calling me at so
late an hour.
" All right, Barker; I'll be down in a moment," I
called from above. " No, come up. You can tell
me what is the matter while I dress. Is it for your-
self ? There, go in that side room, I can hear you,
and I'll be dressed in a moment."
" Hurry, hurry," he said, excitedly, " I'll tell you
on the way. I have my carriage. Don't wait to
order yours, only hurry, hurry, hurry."
Once in the carriage, I said: " Barker, you are
going to use yourself up, this way. You can't keep
this sort of thing up much longer. You'd better go
" Drive faster," he called, to the man on top.
Then to me, " If you are not the first doctor there,
52 The Lady of the Club.
there will be a dreadful scene. They will most
likely arrest her for murder."
" Whom ?" said I. " You have told me nothing,
and how can I prevent that if a murder has been
" By giving her a regular death certificate," said
he, coolly, " saying that you attended the case, and
that it was a natural death. I depend upon you,
Gordon; it would be simply infamous to make her
suffer any more. I cannot help her now, but you
can, you must. No one will know the truth but us,
and afterwards we can help her — to forget. She is
not an old woman; there may be something in life
for her yet."
" Is it the Lady of the Club ?" I asked. We had
always called her that. " What has she done ?"
" Yes," he said, " it is the ' Lady of the Club,'
and she has poisoned her husband."
"Good God !" exclaimed I; "and you want me
to give her a regular death certificate and say I at-
tended the case ?"
" You must," he said; " it would be infamous not
to. She could not bear it any longer. She found
herself breaking down, and she would not leave
him alive without her care and love. He had be-
come almost helpless, except when short violent
spells came on. These left him exhausted. He
almost killed her in the last one. Her terror was
that he would do so and then regain his reason —
that he would know it afterwards and perhaps be
dragged through the courts. She had been work-
The Lady of the Club. 53
ing in a chemist's office, it seems, when she was
able to do anything. She took some aconitine, and
to-night she put everything in perfect order, gave
him the best supper she could, got him to bed, and
then — gave him that. She sent for me and told me
as calmly as — God ! it was the calm of absolute
desperation. She sat there when I went in, holding
his poor dead hand and kissing it reverently. She
laid it down and told me what I tell you. There
was not a tear, a moan, a sigh. She said: ' Here is
the money you left — all except what I paid for his
supper to-night. We had gotten down to that be-
fore I had the chance to steal the poison or the
courage to give it to him. I had not meant to use
any of the money; the rest is here. I would like it
used — if you are willing — to bury him decently, not
in the Potter's Field, and I would like — if you will
take the trouble — to have it done absolutely pri-
vately. We have borne enough. I cannot bear for
even his ashes to be subjected to any further hu-
Roland Barker paused to command himself.
" Of course I promised her," he went on, after a
time. " She does not realize that she may be ar-
rested and have his poor body desecrated to find
the cause of death. That would make her insane
— even if — Drive faster !" he called out again to
the man outside. When we reached the house he
said: " Be prepared to see her perfectly calm. It
is frightful to witness, and I tremble for the result
54 The Lady of the Club.
When we knocked on her door there was no re-
sponse. I pushed it open and entered first. The
room was empty. We went to the inner doer and
rapped gently, then louder. There was no sound.
Barker opened the door, and then stepped quickly
back and closed it. " She is kneeling there by his
bed," he said; "write the certificate here and give
it to me. Then I will bring an undertaker and —
he and I can attend to everything else. I did want
you to see her. I think you should give her some-
thing to make her sleep. That forced calm will
make her lose her mind. She is so shattered you
would not recognize her."
" Stay here, Barker," I said; " I want to see her
alone for a moment. I will tell her who I am and
that you brought me — if I need to."
He eyed me sharply, but I stepped hastily into
the inner room. I touched the shoulder and then
the forehead of the kneeling form. It did not
move. " Just as I expected," I muttered, and lift-
ing the lifeless body in my arms I laid it gently
beside her husband. In one hand she held the vial
from which she had taken the last drop of the
deadly drug, and clasped in the other her husband's
fingers. She had been dead but a few moments,
and both she and her husband were robed for the
When I returned to the outer room I found
Barker with a note in his hand, and a shocked and
horrified look on his face. He glanced up at me
through his tears.
The Lady of the Club. 5 5
" We were too late," he said. " She left this
note for me. I found it here on the table. She
meant to do it all along, and that is why she was
so calm and had no fears for herself."
" I thought so when you told me what she had
done," said I.
" Did you ? I did not for a moment, or I would
have stayed and tried to reason her out of it."
"It is best as it is," said I, " and you could not
have reasoned her out of it. It was inevitable —
after the rest. Take this certificate too; you will
When all was safely over, as we drove home
from the new graves two days later, Barker said:
" Is this the solution ?"
I did not reply.
Presently he said: " To the dead, who cannot
suffer, we can be kind and shield them even from
themselves. Is there no way to help the living ?
A few hundred dollars, two short years ago, would
have saved all this, and there was no way for her
to get it. She knew it all then, and there was no
" Why did she not, in such a case as that, push
back her pride and go to some one ? There must
be thousands who would have gladly responded to
such a call as that," I argued.
He buried his face in his hands for a moment
and shuddered. At last he said: "She did — she
went to three good men, men who had known,
been friendly with, admired her and her husband.
Two of them are worth their millions, the other
56 The Lady of the Club.
one is rich. She only asked to borrow, and prom-
ised to repay it herself if she had to live and work
after he were dead to do it !"
" You do not mean to tell me that they refused
— and they old friends and rich?" I asked,
" I mean to say just this: they one and all made
some excuse; they did not let her have it."
" She told them what the doctors said, and of
her fears ?"
" She did," he answered, sadly.
" And yet you say they are good men !" I ex-
"Good, benevolent, charitable, every one of
them," he answered.
" Were you one of them, Barker ?" I asked, after
a moment's pause.
"Thank God, no !" he replied. "But perhaps
in some other case I have done the same, if I only
knew the whole story. Those men do not know
this last, you must remember."
" And the worst of it is, we dare not tell them,"
said I, as we parted.
" No, we dare not," he replied, and left me
standing with the copy of the burial certificate in
" Natural causes ?" I said to myself, looking at
it. " Died of natural causes — the brutality and
selfishness of man — and poverty with love. Nat-
ural causes ! Yes." And I closed my office door
and turned out the light.
" This is my story, sir; a trifle, indeed, I assure you.
Much more, perchance, might be said; but I hold him, of all
men, most lightly
Who swerves from the truth in his tale.''''
When the new family moved into, and we were
told had bought, the cottage nearest our own, we
were naturally interested in finding out what kind
of people they were, and whether we had gained or
lost by the change of neighbors.
In a summer place like this it makes a good deal
of difference just what kind of people live so near
to you that when you are sitting on your veranda
and they are swinging in hammocks on theirs, the
most of the conversation is common property, un-
less you whisper, and one does not want to spend
three or four months of each year mentally and
verbally tiptoeing about one's own premises. Then,
on the other hand, there are few less agreeable situa-
tions to be placed in than to be forced to listen
to confidences or quarrels with which you have
nothing whatever to do, or else be deprived of the
comforts and pleasures of out-door life, to secure
which you endure so many other annoyances.
Our new neighbors were, therefore, as you will
admit, of the utmost interest and importance to us,
and I was naturally very much pleased, at the end
of the first week, when I returned one day from a
6o Under Protest.
fishing party, from which my wife's headache had
detained her, by the report she gave me of their
attitude toward each other. (From her glowing
estimate, I drew rose-colored pictures of their prob-
able kindliness and generosity toward others.) Up
to this time they had been but seldom outside of
their house, and we had not gathered much infor-
mation of their doings, except the fact that a good
deal of nice furniture had come, and they appeared
to be greatly taken up in beautifying and arranging
their cottage. This much promised well, so far as
it went; but we had not lived to our time of life
not to find out, long ago, that the most exquisitely
appointed houses sometimes lack the one essential
feature; that is, ladies and gentlemen to occupy
" They are lovely !" said my wife, the moment I
entered the door, before I had been able to deposit
my fishing-tackle and ask after her headache.
"They are lovely; at least he is," she amended.
"I am sure we shall be pleased with them; or, at
least, with him. A man as careful of, and attentive
to, his wife as he is can't help being an agreeable
" Good !" said I. " How did you find out ?
And how is your headache ? — Had a disgusting
time fishing. Glad you did not go. Sun was hot;
breeze was hot; boatman's temper was a hundred
and twenty in the shade; bait wouldn't stay on the
hooks, and there weren't any fish any way. But
how did you say your head is ?"
Under Protest. 61
" My head? " said my wife, with that retrospective
tone women have, which seemed to indicate that if
she had ever had a head, and if her head had ever
ached, and if headache was a matter of sufficient
importance to remember, in all human probability
it had recovered in due time. " My head ? Oh,
yes — Oh, it is all right; but you really never did
see any one so tractable as that man. And adapt-
able ! Why, it is a perfect wonder. Of course I
had no business to look or listen; but I did. I
just couldn't help it. The fact is, I thought they
were quarrelling at first, and I almost fainted. I
said to myself, ' If they are that kind of people we
will sell out. I will not live under the constant
drippings of ill-temper.' Quarrelling ought to be a
penitentiary offence; that is, I mean the bicker-
ings and naggings most people dignify by that
name. I could endure a good, square, stand-up
and knock down quarrel, that had some character
to it; but the eternal differences, often expressed
by the tones of voice only, I can't stand." I smiled
an emphatic assent, and my wife went on.
" Well, I must confess his tones of voice are, at
times, against him; but I'm not sure that it is not
due to the distance. All of his tones may not carry
this far. I'm sure they don't, for when I first heard
him, and made up my mind that it was a horrid,
common, plebeian little row, I went to the west
bedroom window — you know it looks directly into
their kitchen — and what do you suppose I saw ?"
The question was so sudden and wholly unex-
62 Under Protest.
pected, and my mental apparatus was so taken up
with the story that I found myself with no ideas
whatever on the subject. Indeed I do not believe
that my wife wanted me to guess what she saw,
half so much as she wanted breath; but I gave the
only reply which the circumstances appeared to
admit of, and which, I was pleased to see, in spite
of its seeming inadequacy, was as perfectly satis-
factory to the blessed little woman as if it had been
made to order and proven a perfect fit.
" I can't imagine," said I.
" Of course you can't," she replied, pushing my
crossed legs into position, and seating herself on my
" Of course you can't. A man couldn't. Well,
it seems their servant left last night, and that
blessed man was washing the dishes this morning.
The difference of opinion had been over which one
of them should do it."
"Why, the confounded brute!" said I. " He is a
good deal better able to do it than she is. She
looks sick, and so long as he has no business
to attend to down here, he has as much time as she
and a good deal more strength to do that kind of
" Well, I just knew you'd look at it that way," said
my wife, with an inflection of pride and admiration
which indicated that I had made a ten strike
of some kind, of which few men — and not many
women — would be capable.
"But that was not it at all," continued she.
Under Protest. 63
I began laboriously to readjust my mental moor-
ings to this seemingly complicated situation, and
was on the verge of wondering why my wife was so
pleased with me for simply making a mistake, when
she began again, after giving me a little pat of
unqualified satisfaction and sympathy.
"They both wanted to do it. She said she
wasn't a bit tired and could do it alone just as well
as not, and he'd break the glasses with his funny,
great, big fingers; and he said he'd be careful not
to break anything, and that the dish-water would
spoil her hands."
" Good," said I, " I shall like the fellow. I "
" Of course you will," my wife broke in, enthusi-
astically ; " but that isn't all. I went to sleep after
that, and later on was awakened by a loud — and
as I thought at the time — a very angry voice. I
went to the window again only to see a laughing
scuffle between them over the potato-knife. She
wanted to scrape them and he wanted to scrape
them. Of course he got the knife, and it really did
look too comical to see him work with those little
bulbs. He put his whole mind on them, and he
didn't catch her picking over the berries until she
was nearly done. Then he scolded again. He
said he did the potatoes to keep her from getting
her thumb and forefinger black, and here she was
with her whole hand covered with berry stain. He
seemed really vexed, and I must say his voice
doesn't carry this far as if he was half as nice as he
is. I think there ought to be a chair of voices
64 Under Protest.
attached to every school-house — so to speak — and
the result of the training made one of the tests of
admission to the colleges of the country. Don't
Again I was wholly unprepared for her sudden
question, and was only slowly clambering around
the idea she had suggested, so I said — somewhat
irrelevantly, no doubt — "It may be."
She looked at me for a moment without speak-
ing, and then said, as she got up and crossed the
room: "You didn't hear a word I said, and you
don't begin to appreciate that man anyway."
" I did hear you, dear," I protested ; " I was lis-
tening as hard as I could — and awfully interested —
but a fellow can't skip along at that rate and have
well-matured views on tap without a moment's
warning. You've got to be like the noble ladies in
the ' Lay of the Last Minstrel,' ' and give me heart
and give me time.' Now they understood men.
She laughed and tied the last pink bow in
the lace of a coquettish little white gown and
dragged me out on the veranda.
Our new neighbors were out ahead of us.
"I don't think so at all, Margaret," we heard
him say, as we took our chairs near the edge of the
porch to catch any stray breeze that might be
wandering our way.
"Sh — ," we heard her say ; " don't talk so loud.
They will think you are going to scalp me."
" Oh, don't bother about the neighbors ; let 'em
Under Protest. 65
hear," said he, " let 'em think. Who cares ? If
they haven't got anything better to do than sit
around and think, they'd better move away from
" Sh — ," said she again, looking at him with
a good deal of emphasis in her eyes.
"Well, it is too bad, isn't it ?" acquiesced he, in a
much lower voice, and one from which every vestige
of the tone of protest had vanished.
" It is too bad that these summer cottages are
built so close together that you can't tie your shoes
without being overheard by the folks next door ? It
makes me nervous. I feel as if I had to sit up
straight all the time and smile like a crocodile, or
else run the risk of being misunderstood."
" It. is trying, dear," she said, " and destroys a
good deal of the comfort and ease of one's outing."
" Nothing of the kind," began he, so explosively
as to make my wife jump.
" Sh — ," whispered the lady next door, but he
" Nothing of the kind. I don't let it bother me
in the least. They can attend to their own affairs,
and I "
Sh — ," said his wife ; " suppose we walk down
to the beach." She began to adjust her wrap.
" It is a good deal more comfortable here,"
he protested, " and besides I'm tired."
" So you are, of course," she said, regretfully.
" I forgot. Such unusual work for a man would
tire him;" and she loosened the lace veil she
had drawn over her head and reseated herself.
66 Under Protest.
" Well, are you ready ?" questioned he, clapping
on his hat and suddenly starting down the steps.
" Ready for what ?" asked she, in surprise.
" The deuce, Margaret. I thought you said
that you were going to the beach !"
She got up, readjusted her veil, took her wrap
on her arm, and ran lightly after him.
" I wonder if I shall need this wrap ?" she said
as she passed our gate.
" Heavens ! no," he replied, " and it will heat you
all up to carry it. Here, give it to me. I don't
see what on earth you brought it for. I'm
certainly hot enough without loading me up with
" I will carry it," she said, cheerfully ; " I don't
feel the heat on my arm as you do — or I'll run
back and leave it on the porch. You walk slowly.
I can easily catch up."
She started; but he took the shawl from her,
threw it lightly over his shoulder, and, pulling
her hand through his arm, said gayly, and in
the most compliant tone: "It isn't very warm.
I won't notice this little thing and, besides, you'll
need it down there, as like as not."
When they were out of hearing my wife drew a
long breath and said: " I wonder if we ever
sound like that to other people ? — and yet, they
seem to be devoted to each other," she added
" They are, no doubt," said I, " only he appears
to be a chronic kicker."
Under Protest. 6j
"A comic what?" said my wife, in so loud
a tone that I involuntarily exclaimed " Sh — !"
We both laughed. Then she said : " But really,
dear, I didn't understand what you said he was.
There doesn't seem to me to be anything comic
about him, though. And "
" Comic ! Well, I should think not," said I.
" I should think it would be anything but comic to
that little woman to go through that sort of thing
every time she opened her mouth. What I said
was that he seems to be a chronic kicker, and
I might add — with some show of fairness — that he
impresses me as the champion of Kicktown at
" Sh — ," laughed my wife, " they're coming back."
" I don't agree with you at all. There is no need
to do anything of the kind," were the first words we
heard from a somewhat distant couple, and my
wife concluded that our new neighbors were not
very far off. " It would be no end of trouble for
you. You'd get all tired out ; and besides, what
do we owe to the Joneses that makes it necessary
for you to disturb all our little comforts to ask them
down here ?" he continued. We could not hear
her reply; but his protest and evident deep dis-
satisfaction with the whole scheme went bravely
She passed into the house and left him on the
steps. When she came out a few moments later he
said, sweetly: " As I was just saying, it will be quite
a diversion for you to see the girls, and I'd enjoy
68 Under Protest.
the old man hugely. He's a jolly old coon ; and
then we owe it to them after all they did for
" What girls ? What old man is a jolly coon ?"
asked she, in an utterly bewildered tone.
" Margaret ! The Joneses, of course. Whom
have we been talking about for the last half-hour ?"
" Oh," said she, having evidently quite given
over asking the Joneses, and become occupied
with other thoughts, " I thought the idea did not
please you. But I'm so glad. It will do you good
to have him here, and I shall be delighted."
"Do me good !" exploded he. " Do me good!
Tiresome old bore, if there ever was one. Women
are queer fish to deal with, but I'm sure I don't
care whom you invite here."
Our neighbors withdrew for the night and we
sighed with relief. About two o'clock my wife
touched me to find if I was asleep. The move-
ment was so stealthy that I inferred at once that
there were burglars in the house. I was wide
awake in an instant.
" What is it ?" I whispered.
" Well, I'm glad you're awake. I want to know
what that was you called the man next door. I
forgot what it was, and I couldn't sleep for trying
I laughed. " I believe I said that he impressed
me as one so addicted to the reprehensible habit
of protest — on general principles, as it were — that
Under Protest. 69,
it had now become the normal condition of his
" You didn't say any such thing," said she.
" I believe that at the time of which you speak
I allowed myself to be guilty of a habit you do not
wholly admire; but I really had no idea it would
keep you awake. I used slang. I said that he was
a chronic kicker, and — "
" That's it ! That's it !" exclaimed she, with
deep satisfaction. " He's a ' chronic kicker.' Well,
if you'll believe me, he hasn't stopped kicking
long enough to say his prayers decently since we
went to bed. First about what time it was ; then
about which room they'd sleep in ; then there was
too much cover ; then the windows were wrong ;
then — oh, heavens ! — I wonder if he kicks in his
sleep ? He always comes around to reason in
time; but if there was ever anything more madden-
ing to meet than that constant wall of protest —
for the sake of protest — I don't know what it could
" Nor — I," said I, half asleep.
Presently her hand grasped mine vigorously, and
I sprang up startled, for I had been sound asleep
again. " What's the matter ?" I said, in a loud
" Sh — ," whispered my wife. " Don't speak in
that tone. I'd rather people would think you
stayed out nights, than to suppose you stayed at
home and nagged me. He's at it again. I'd most
yo Under Protest.
gone to sleep and his voice nearly scared the life
out of me. She wanted to close the window. He
objected, of course; said he'd smother — sh — "
Just then we heard our neighbor's wife ask
sleepily: " What are you doing, dear?"
" Closing this detestable window. Lets in too
much salt air. 'Fraid you'll get chilled. I am.
Where's another blanket ?"
The window went down with a bang, and we
heard no more of our neighbors that night. But
the next morning the same thing began again, and
I do not believe that during that entire summer he
ever agreed with his wife the first time she spoke,
nor failed to come around to her view after he
took time to think it over. I remember when I
was introduced to him, a week later, his wife
said: " This is our nearest neighbor, you know,
Thomas, and — "
" No, he isn't, Margaret; the people back of us
are nearer," he said. Then to me: "Pleased to
meet you. I believe our wives have become quite
good friends. I'm very glad for Margaret's sake,
too. It's dull for her with only an old fellow like
me to entertain her, and she not very well. And
then, as she says, you are our nearest neighbor,
and we really ought not to be too ceremonious at
such a place as this."
" I thought, Thomas," suggested his wife, " that
you said one could not be too particular. Why,
you quite blustered when I first told you I had
made advances to some of the other — "
Under Protest. yi
" Nonsense ! I did nothing of the kind," broke
in he. " What on earth ever put such an idea into
your head, Margaret ? You know I always say that
without pleasant neighbors, and friendly relations
with them, a summer cottage is no place for a white
man to live."
My wife hastened to change the subject. Noth-
ing on earth is more distasteful to her than a fam-
ily contest, of even a very mild type, especially
when the tones of voice seem to express more of
indignation and a desire to override, than a mere
difference of opinion. She thought the surf a safe
" Was not the water lovely to-day ? You were in,
I suppose ?" she inquired of our neighbor's wife.
" Yes, we were in," she began, enthusiastically.
" It was perfect and — "
" I don't know what you call perfect," broke in
he, " I called it beastly. It was so cold I felt like
a frog when I got out, and you looked half frozen.
The fact is, this is too far north to bathe for pleas-
ure in the surf. It may be good for one's health,
but it is anything but pleasant. Now at Old Point
Comfort it is different. I like it there."
" Why, James," said his wife, " I thought you
preferred this because of the more bracing and ex-
After a little more objection, which he seemed
to think firmly established his independence, he
ended his remarks thus:
" Of course, as you say, it is more bracing. Yes,
72 Under Protest.
that's a fact, Margaret. I couldn't help noticing
when I came out this morning that I felt like a
new man, and you — why, 'pon my word, you looked
as bright and rosy as a girl of sixteen. Oh, the
surf here is great. It really is. I like it ; don't
This last he had addressed to me. I was so oc-
cupied in a study of, and so astonished by, the
facility with which he took his mental flops, after
enjoying his little " kick," that I was taken off my
feet by his sudden appeal to me, and was quite at
a loss for a reply which would do justice to the oc-
casion, and at the same time put a stop to the
contest between husband and wife.
But, as usual, my wife hastened to my rescue and
covered my confusion by her gay little laugh and
" Ha, ha, ha," she laughed, " you have caught
my husband napping already. I know exactly
where he was. He was lumbering along through
an elaborate speculation on, and a comparison of,
the relative merits of — " here she began telling
them off on her fingers to the great amusement of
our neighbors — " first, fresh and salt water bathing;
second, the method, time, place, and condition
of each as affected by the moon, stars, and Gulf
Stream. He was, most likely, climbing over Nor-
way with a thermometer, or poking a test-tube of
some kind into the semi-liquefaction which passes
itself off as water to those unfortunates who are
stranded along the shores of the Mississippi. Just
Under Protest. 73
wait; one of these days he will get down to our
discussion and he'll agree with us when he gets
there. But don't hurry him."
We all joined in the laugh at my expense; and I
remarked that I had served so long as a target for
my wife's fun that even if I could skip around,
mentally, at as lively a rate as she seemed to ex-
pect, I would pretend that I couldn't, in order not
to deprive her of her chief source of amusement.
At this point our neighbor's new cook came to the
edge of their porch and asked her mistress if she
might speak to her for a moment. She arose to go.
" Oh, thunder, Margaret, I hope you don't in-
tend to allow that worthless girl to call you home
every time you go any place. Tell her to wait. It
can't be much she wants,"' said our neighbor.
" Jane," said his wife sweetly, reseating herself,
" you can wait until I come home. It won't be
" I wonder if you'd better do that, Margaret,"
said he, just as our wives had begun to discuss
something relative to housekeeping. " Jane is a
good girl, and she wouldn't call you if it were not
something important, Don't you think we had
better go at once?"
" I did think so." said she. and bidding us good-
night our neighbors crossed the lawn and re-en-
tered their own door and closed it for the night.
After a long pause my wife said, in a stage
whisper: " I suppose it is his way of showing that
he is ' boss,' as the boys say — the final appeal in his
74 Under Protest.
own household — his idea of the dignity of the mas-
A sudden stop. I thought she expected me to
say something, so I began:
I don't know. I doubt it. It looks to me like
a case of — "
" Don't ! don't !" exclaimed my wife, in tragic
accents, " oh, don't catch it. I really couldn't live
with a chronic objector. Anything else. I really
believe I could stand any other phase of bullying
better than that— to feel that at any minute I am
liable to run against a solid wall of ' I don't agree
with yous!' If it were real I wouldn't mind it so
much; but to hear that man ' kick,' as you say,
just for the sake of asserting himself, and then
come around as he does, is perfectly maddening.
The very first symptom I see in you I shall look
upon it as a danger signal — I'll move."
At that moment, before our quiet little laugh, at
their expense, had died away, there floated out
from the bedroom window of our neighbors' cot-
tage, this refrain:
" Well, goodness knows, Margaret, / didn't want
to come home. I knew it was all perfect nonsense.
My wife suddenly arose, took me by the hand
and said quite seriously: " Come in the house,
dear. This atmosphere is too unwholesome to en-
dure any longer."
The next day she said to me, " Let's go to Old
Point Comfort next year."
Under Protest, 75
" All right," said I; "but what shall we do with
the cottage ? You know we hold the lease for an-
other year, with the ' refusal ' to buy."
" Rent it to your worst enemy, or, better still,
get him to buy it. Just think of the exquisite re-
venge you could take that way. Twenty-four
hours every day, for four long months each year, to
know that you had him planted next door to a
'chronic kicker.' Or don't you hate anybody bad
enough for that?" and my wife actually shuddered.
"I don't believe I do, dear," said I; " but I'll do
my level best to rent it to him for one season. You
know I wouldn't care to murder him; if he's hope-
lessly maimed I'll be satisfied."
We both laughed; but the next dav I advertised
the lease, ot a cottage for sale very cneap, and gave
as a reason my desire to go where there were fewer
people. I think this will catch my enemy. He
likes a crowd, and he'd enjoy nothing better than
to feel that I was forced to pay half of his rent.
So I marked the paper and sent it to him, and con-
fidently await the result.
jfor tbe prosecution.
" So deeply inherent is it in this life of ours tJzat men have to
suffer for each other's sins, so inevitably diffusive is human suffer-
ing, that even Justice makes its victims, and we can conceive no
retribution that does not spread beyond its mark in pulsations of
unmerited pain." — George Eliot.
FOR THE PROSECUTION.
Shortly Mter Fred Mathews began the practice
of law he was elected to the office of Prosecuting
Attorney in the Western town to which he had
gone when first admitted to the bar.
Of course, every law student becomes familiar
with the jests and gibes cast at the members of the
profession as men who are peculiarly economical of
the truth. He smiles with those who hint that a
lawyer is always lavish of advice that leads to liti-
That students of Blackstone and Coke hear much
merrymaking over and some serious criticism of
the quibbles to which the best of them are sup-
posed to resort — of making little of real evidence
and much of trivialities — goes without saying.
Nor are they unaware of the fact — alas! sometimes
too well founded upon strong evidence — that the
general public appears to be convinced that laws
are made for the purpose of shielding the rich and
oppressing the poor or unfortunate.
No student of average ability enters practice
8o For the Prosecution.
uninformed that there is a widespread belief that a
man of social position or financial power has little
to fear as a result of his misdeeds, while his less
fortunate neighbor could not hope to escape the
worst legal consequences of his most trivial lapse
Fred Mathews had made up his mind — as many
a young fellow had done before him — that he
would do everything in his power to hold the
scales of justice level.
He determined that such ability as he possessed
should be used for the benefit of society, and that
neither bribe nor threat should ever entice him from
the strict performance of his duty to the profes-
sion which he had entered. He would never ac-
cept a case in which he did not honestly believe.
No man's money should buy him and no man's
wrath intimidate. In short, he intended to be a
lawyer with a conscience as well as a man of in-
tegrity, no matter what the result might be.
He made so good a beginning in the first two
years of his practice that it was at the end of the
third, when he found himself holding the office of
Prosecuting Attorney, with a record clean, and fair
sailing ahead, that a piece of news which came to
him caused him to doubt himself for the first time.
The shock of that doubt thrilled every fibre in
his nature, for with it came the one fear that
is terrible to a brave mind which is aroused for the
first time to its own possibilities — the fear to trust
itself — the dread lest it betray its own higher na-
For the Prosecution. 8 1
ture under the pressure of old habits of thought or
new social problems.
Right and wrong had always seemed to him to
have the most decided and clear-cut outlines. He
had never thought of himself as standing before
them unable to distinguish their boundaries. He
had felt that he could answer bravely enough the
question: " What would you do if required to
choose between honor and dishonor ?'" It was a
strange thing to him that his present perplexity
should grow out of a simple burglary case. There
did not appear to him, at first, to be more than one
side to such a case. He was the Prosecuting Attor-
ney. A store had been robbed. Among other
things a sealskin sacque was taken. By means of
this cloak the burglary had been traced — it was
claimed— to a certain young man high in social life.
The duties of his office had led the State's attorney
to prosecute the investigation with his usual vigor
and impartiality until he had succeeded beyond his
fairest hopes. Indeed, the chain of evidence now
in his possession was so strong and complete that
he — for the first time in his career— recognized that
he shrank from using the testimony at his command.
He felt that it was his duty to cause to be appre-
hended a young man who had up to the present time
borne a spotless reputation; who had been a fellow
student at college; whose social position was that
of a leader, and who was soon to marry one of the
most charming girls in the town. The situation
was painful, but Fred Mathews felt that his own
82 For the Prosecution.
honor was at stake quite as truly as was that of his
old schoolfellow. Here was his first opportunity
to show that he held his duty above his desires.
Here was the first case in which social influence
and financial power were on the side of a criminal
whom it was his duty to prosecute to the end.
His professional pride, as well as his honor, was
enlisted; for this was the third burglary which had
been committed recently, and so far the " gang" —
as the newspapers assumed and the police believed
the offenders to be— had not been caught.
Fred Mathews now thought he had every reason
to believe that the same hand had executed all
three crimes and that th e recklessness of the last —
the almost wanton defiance of perfectly natural
means of precaution and concealment — had led to
the discovery of this burglar in high life.
After long deliberation, however, the young
prosecutor made up his mind that he would so far
compromise with his conscience as to make a per-
sonal, private call upon the young man who was
under suspicion and boldly accuse him of the
theft of the tell-tale cloak that had been traced to
him, and take the consequences.
He was well aware that in case this course should
lead to the escape of the criminal he would be
compelled to bear the abuse and suspicion which
would surely follow, for the evidence had passed
through other hands than his own.
He knew that he was taking a method which
would be called in question, and that he would not
For the Prosecution, 83
take it if the suspected man lived in a less fashion-
able street or had the misfortune to be low born.
All this he knew quite well, and still he argued
to himself that it was the right thing for him to do,
or at least that it was the best possible under the
circumstances, and that after giving Walter Banks
a private chance to clear himself — if such a thing
were possible — he would still be in a position to go
on with the case, if that should be necessary.
That night, for the first time in his career, he
allowed himself to be kept awake, not by the fear
that he should fail through inexperience in his
duty to his client — as had happened sometimes to
trouble him earlier in his professional life — but by
a dread that he should wilfully betray his trust to
the public. At two o'clock he lay staring at the
wall, asking himself if he was becoming corrupt;
if he, too, believed in shielding guilt if only that
guilt were dressed in purple and spoke with a soft
and cultured accent.
" Mr. Banks will be down in a moment;" the
trim maid had said, and left the library door open
as she withdrew.
The young prosecutor walked about the room
uneasily. He had hoped at the last moment that
the object of his call would be from home — that
he would take fright and refuse to be seen — that
action had been taken by the police which would
84 For the Prosecution.
put it out of his power to give the warning that
he now felt he was here to give. But, no. " Mr.
Banks will be down in a moment." He had heard
quite distinctly, and there had not been the slight-
est accent of fear or annoyance in the voice that
In his agitation he had taken up a curiously
wrought paper knife which lay upon the table and
had dropped it as if it had burned his fingers."
"Good God !" he exclaimed. "He was the col-
lege thief. It is no new thing, then."
He took up the knife again and examined it
closely. There could be no mistake. It was a
gold wrought, elaborately engraved blade, set m a
handle which had no duplicate, for the students
who had planned the gift which had so mysteri-
ously disappeared had devised and caused to be
engraved a secret symbol which was cut deep in
the polished surface.
It was to have been a surprise for one of the fa-
vorites in the faculty. It had disappeared — and
here it was !
" Good morning, Mathews. This is really very
It was the voice of Walter Banks, but their eyes
met over the fallen paper knife, which had dropped
from trembling fingers at the first word.
A great wave of color rushed into the face of
young Banks. The prosecutor stood mute and
pale. Involuntarily he had tried to cover the
knife with a corner of the rug as he turned to meet
For the Prosecution. 85
his host. It vaguely dawned upon him that he
was a guest in a house where he was playing the
part of a detective. His hand was extended in
the hearty western fashion which had become sec-
ond nature to him, but Walter Banks did not take it.
" Will you sit down ?" said the host in a tone
which was hoarse, and quite unlike the frank, free
voice that spoke a moment before.
As he seated himself he bent forward and took
up the bit of tell-tale gold and ivory. Then he
said, slowly in a tone that was scarcely audible:
" Yes, I took it. You are right. It is the col-
" Don't! don't!" exclaimed Fred Mathews, rising.
" I am— You forget — I am — My office.
Think. I am for the prosecution !" His face was
livid. Young Banks leaned heavily against the
table. The color began to die out of his lips.
His hand trembled as he laid the knife upon the
table. Neither spoke. The brain of the young
prosecutor found only scraps and shreds of thought,
in which such words as duty, honor, pity, hospital-
ity, wealth, social order, floated vaguely here and
there, buffeted by the one insistent idea that he
should go go quickly — and leave this man alone
with his shame and humiliation.
Walter Banks was the first to speak.
" Come up to my room. Mother might come in
here and — I suppose — you have come about — I
— Is — ? You say you are for the prosecution.
Have they traced the cloak to me ?"
86 For the Prosecution.
The lawyer stepped back again and looked at
the man before him. What could he mean by
saying such a thing as that — to him ? They had
never been close friends, but now in spite of every-
thing the thought that he was the prosecutor kept
itself steadily in the attorney's mind and struggled
with a pity and reluctance that were seeking to
justify him by a belief in the insanity of young
No one but a lunatic would have made that last
remark. The thought was a relief. He grasped at
it eagerly and began to fashion his mental outlook
to fit the idea. Then suddenly came to him with
overwhelming force all he had ever heard or read
of the failure of justice where criminals of high
degree were concerned.
He had followed his host to the stairs. Sud-
denly he turned, caught up his hat from the stand
where he had left it, and passed out of the street
door without a word. Once in the street he
glanced involuntarily up at the house. At the
window of the room he had just left stood Walter
Banks. His arm was about his mother's shoulders,
and both were very pale. There was a strange
likeness between them.
Every conceivable form of pressure to prevent
the trial of Walter Banks was brought to bear in
the next few weeks; but Prosecutor Mathews had
For the Prosecution. 87
pushed the case vigorously in spite of it all. He
felt not only that justice was at stake, but that
his own moral fibre was in pawn, as well. He held
aloof from his social friends — who were in many
cases the friends of the accused, also — lest he lose
sight of his duty through some fresh or new form
of attack upon his integrity of purpose.
It had come to his knowledge that even the
Judge who was to sit in the case had been ap-
proached by the friends of the defendant, and it
was felt that it would be difficult to impanel a jury
that would or could be fair and impartial.
If but one man was drawn from the " upper
class," the jury would be sure to hang. On the
other hand, if all of the talesmen were chosen from
that social caste which feels that it is usually the
victim, it would go hard with Walter Banks even
if he were able — as seemed wholly unlikely — to
show a reasonably clear case in his favor.
The day came. The court-room held an unu-
sual audience. There were many ladies present
who had never before seen the inside of such a
room. They held their breath and were filled
with awe and fear — of they knew not what.
Perhaps few men can realize what it is to a
woman to face for the first time the embodiment
of all that her strong faith and utter ignorance has
carried to mature years as an ideal of justice and
dignity — of solemn obligation and fearful responsi-
bility. To her there has been no reverse side to
the picture. She believes in courts as courts of
88 For the Prosecution.
justice. She knows nothing of quibble, of techni-
cality, of precedent. Nothing here is light or hu-
morous to her. Next to a death chamber the
criminal court-room is fullest of the thoughts
which reach beyond mere human responsibility
and import, and all that passes there is freighted
for her with a sense of finality that few men can
comprehend. They think of reversal of judgment.
The fiat of the court is the closing knell to a
woman; and although she may know the judge in
private life to be a fallible or — more incongruous
still — a jovial man, his presence here is overpower-
ing. Of the jury she feels vaguely, dread. Of the
The mother of the prisoner sat near him. Her
sad, pale, refined face troubled the young prosecu-
tor sorely and he tugged at his conscience and
spurred on his resolution after each glance at her.
The case was so plain, the evidence so clear, the
defence so weak that the whole tide of public sen-
timent swung rapidly from the side of the prisoner
to that of the people.
The indignation for him which had been felt by
the society women who had come to show them-
selves as his friends changed into scorn and con-
tempt. The whole mental atmosphere of the room
underwent a revolution. When court opened few
besides the officers believed him guilty. As the
case drew near its close no one believed him inno-
cent. He had not been allowed by his counsel to
take the stand in his own behalf, and this had told
For the Prosecution. 89
strongly against him in the minds of both jury and
spectators. The prosecuting attorney had made a
telling speech, and the charge of the judge was
plainly indicative of his opinion that there was but
one verdict to give.
The jury had taken but one ballot. They had
needed no charge from the judge at all.
" Guilty," — came from the foreman's lips with a
decided accent that indicated a certain satisfac-
tion in pronouncing it. The prisoner's face grew
a shade paler, but the puzzled light in his eyes lost
nothing of that weary, insistent questioning that
had marked their depths all day. Indeed, he
seemed to be as much surprised, as the evidence
had been unfolded, as were the friends who were
there to see him vindicated.
During the speech of the prosecutor and the
charge of the judge young Banks' mother had held
her son's hand and tears had dropped unheeded
from her eyes.
The judge had spoken again, but no one moved.
The attorney for the prisoner bent forward and
touched him on the shoulder.
" Stand up for sentence," he said. " The judge" —
" Sit still !" It was the woman beside him who
spoke. She had dried her tears. Every face in
the room was turned toward her now. She stag-
gered to her feet. Her voice penetrated every
corner of the room.
" /am the thief, judge. Sentence me. I stole
the cloak !"
90 For the Prosecution.
"Mother, mother! Great God, it is not true!
Mother, sit down ! She never saw the coat.
Mother ! Mother ! Great God, what does it
The young fellow had sprung to his feet, but she
eluded his grasp, and before any one knew what
she intended to do she passed onto the witness
There was a tense silence in the room. No one
was prepared for the scene. It had been so swiftly
done — so wholly without warning — that every one
She had caught up the Bible as she reached the
stand and pressed it to her lips. She was vaguely
aware that this act was looked upon as affecting
the credibility of the witness. She also imagined
that it gave her a right to put in her evidence even
at this stage of the trial. She supposed that a
trial was for the purpose of arriving at the facts
and that the Court sat with that object alone in
view. She did not know that it was too late. She
was unaware that the case would have to be re-
opened to admit her evidence. She did not know
that it was possible for the gate of justice to be
swung shut in the face of truth. She supposed that
all trials were for the one purpose of getting at the
bottom of the case; so that it did not occur to her
that her action was strange only in so far as such a
confession from such a woman must be so regarded
by all who knew her, and who was there in all the
town who did not know and respect her?
For the Prosecution. 91
The young prosecutor sat mute. The eyes of
the judge widened in astonishment. For the mo-
ment he was the man and neighbor only. He for-
got his office. She was talking rapidly, and all
" I am the thief, judge. Let me tell you. It is
not right that he should suffer for my crime. Poor
boy, his life has been a hell on earth for me — for
me! And he has never understood. I could not
tell him. I shall now. He shall understand. You
shall, judge. Oh, God, if only a woman sat where
you do — a mother ! But let me tell you; I can. I
thought I could not; but I can — even to these gen-
tlemen." She waved her hand toward the jury and
there was a widening of her nostrils as if her breath
and courage were leaving her. " Rather than have
him punished, disgraced, ruined, I can tell it all.
He is not guilty. It is I ! It is I !" She put her
trembling hands to her temples and her eyes were
those of a hunted creature at bay.
" Before he came into the world — you'll let me
tell you frankly, judge ? I must. Before he came
into the world I made him what he is — a thief.
Did I or did his father ? It was like this. I am
ashamed to tell it, but, oh, judge, I loved him, and
I longed to make the pretty things and buy the
dainty ones that would make his soft, white, dim-
pled flesh look sweeter when he should lie before
me. His father was — you knew his father, judge.
He was a good man, but — You know how he
loved money — and power. He — I — I was the
92 For the Prosecution.
pauper most young wives are. I was too proud to
ask for money, and if I had asked often — But I
was too proud, so, perhaps, I need not tell about
the if. Most women know it, and — You could
She paused. A panic had overtaken her nerves.
She was becoming vaguely conscious of her posi-
tion. Her eyes wandered over the room; but when
they fell upon her son, sitting with his wretched
face pinched and startled, with his deep eyes star-
ing at her, her courage came again.
"At first I had no thought of theft. I used
to go each night after my husband fell asleep and
take a little money from his pocket. Only a little.
He never missed it — never. So he used to whip
the boy for stealing afterward and said he would
disgrace us and — I never told him even then.
Life was horrible. The growing certainty mad-
dened me. He would steal anything, everything
about the house, even his own things. He did not
understand himself and he could not help it; but
I did not think it would ever come to this — through
me — through me J"
She calmed herself again suddenly by a glance
at her son.
" Every night I took only a little money. My
motive was a good one. I knew my husband did
not understand how I longed to get the pretty
things. How — Of course in one sense I had a
right to the money. He was rich even then, but
— I felt myself a — pauper — and a thief.
For the Prosecution. 93
" I — Do you think young mothers should be
young paupers, judge? I've sometimes thought
that if they were not there might be less use for
courts like this — and prisons.
" I've sometimes thought if mothers sat on juries
they'd know the reasons why for crime and wrong
and, maybe, work to cure the causes of the crimes
rather than simply punish those who have com-
mitted them blindly — often blindly.
" I've sometimes thought the cost — in money —
would be less; and then the cost in love and sor-
row! Oh, judge, be patient just a little longer.
Do not let them stop me. It means so much to
us J I'll go back to the point. I'll tell the truth
— all of it — all. But it is hard to do it — here.
"I bought the little wardrobe; but remember,
judge, the months and months of daily building,
bone on bone, fibre within fibre, thought on thought
that is moulded into shape for human beings!
" I knew your father, judge. Your eyes are like
his, but all your mental life — your temperament —
you got from other blood than filled his veins.
" Your father's mother gave you your character.
Your gentle heart is hers — your patient thought-
fulness. I knew her well. I knew your mother,
too. She was the teacher of my motherhood. It
was to her I told the truth in my boy's childhood
— when I first began to realize or fear what I had
done. You owe it all to her that you are strong
and true. She understood in time — and now you
sit in judgment on my boy, whose mother learned
94 For the Prosecution.
from yours too late the meaning and the danger of
it all. She saved my other children. I killed my
pride for them. / asked for money. The others
may be beggars some day — they never will be
" That boy has never asked a favor. He simply
cannot. His pride was always stronger than any-
thing — anything except his love for me.
" I knit that in his blood too. I loved him so
I made myself a thief for him. Of course I did
not know — I did not understand the awful danger
then; but — A young mother — I — it is hard to
tell it here. You will not understand — you cannot.
Oh, God, for a mother on the jury! A mother
on the bench!"
She caught at her escaping courage again. The
officer whose duty it was to take her away moved
forward a second time, and a second time the
judge motioned him back. She had been his
mother's friend ever since he could remember, and
the ordinary discipline of the court was not for
her. He would do his duty, he said to himself,
but surely there was no haste. All this was irreg-
ular, of course, but if something should come of it
that gave excuse for a new trial no one would be
more thankful than he.
"Young mothers are so ignorant. They know
so little of all the things of which they should
know much. They are so helpless. Judge, there
will be criminal courts and prisons — oh, so many
of both — just as long as motherhood is ignorant
For the Prosecution. 95
and helpless and swayed by feeling only. Don't
you know it is ignorance and feeling that leads
to crime? If people only understood! If only
they were able to think it out to what it means,
crimes would not be — but they cannot, they can-
not! Those trembling lips you see before you
are no more truly a copy of mine — the boy is as
responsible for the set and curve of those lips — as
he is for his hopeless fault. He has stolen from
his infancy; but I, not he, am the thief. Now
sentence the real criminal, judge. Courts are to
punish the guilty — not to further curse the help-
less victims. I am the criminal here. Sentence
" Mother! Mother! I never understood my-
self before! Oh, mother, mother!"
It was a wild cry from Walter Banks as his moth-
er had risen asking for sentence on herself. He
sprang forward, forgetting everything and took her
in his arms. There was a great stir in the room.
"Silence in the court!"
Mrs. Banks had fainted. Her son helped to
carry her into another room. No one attempted
to prevent him. The young prosecutor returned
with him and stood dumb before the court.
" I am ready for sentence, your Honor. I com-
mitted the burglary." It was the voice of the
prisoner. He was standing with his arms folded
and his eyes cast down. Silence fell in the room.
The women ceased to sob. There was an uneasy
movement in the jury box.
96 For the Prosecution.
" In view of the new evidence — " began the fore-
man but the voice of the judge, slow and steady,
filled the room.
" It is the sentence of this court that you, Wal-
ter Banks, be confined at hard labor in the state
penitentiary for the term of four years."
The prisoner bowed and turned a shade paler.
" Do not tell mother that until she is better," he
said to his attorney and passed out in the custody
of the sheriff.
"And at the end of four years, what!" a lady
was saying to the young prosecutor as the room
"The brute!" was hurled after the judge by an-
other, as his form vanished through the door.
" Shows that law is not for the poor alone—"
"Good things for social order and — "
"Well, yes, I'm rather disappointed; but of
course a judge can't go behind the returns."
" Evidence all one way if — "
"Heavens, what a scene!"
" — my opinion no woman should ever be ad-
mitted to a court room except as a prisoner.
" Feather in the cap of the prosecutor."
" — re-election sure enough now."
"Whole thing in a nutshell—"
" Simple question. Did he commit the burglary?
The young prosecutor hurried away from the
sound of these voices and the congratulations of
For the Prosecution. 97
his political friends. He was mentally sore and
perplexed because he had won his case.
That night he called upon the prisoner for the
" I have made up^ my mind to resign my office,"
he said, not looking at the convict, who had risen
to receive him.
Walter Banks was by far the calmer of the two,
but he did not speak.
" I shall never be able to act for the prosecution
again. I thought this case was so clear. My duty
seemed so plain — too plain to admit of anything
but the most vigorous course of action; but — "
"You did nothing but your duty, Mathews. We
are all victims I suppose — one way or another.
You are going to be the victim of your sensitive
conscience. The result will be a course of vacil-
lation that will ruin your chances of success. I
am sorry. You've got all the elements for a leader
— only you've got a conscience. That settles it.
A bit of heredity like that is as fatal as — as mine."
He bit his lips.
" Don't let your part in my case worry you. The
game of life has gone against me. That is all.
The dice were loaded before I ever got hold of
them. I did what I could to out-live — out-fight
my awful — inheritance. I wasn't strong enough.
It got the best of me. Nature is a terrible antag-
onist. Perhaps now that I understand myself
better I shall be able to keep a firmer hold. You
did your duty, Mathews ; good-by. Be — Can't
98 For the Prosecution.
you be a little kind to mother ? She suffers so.
Her punishment is double — and her crime was
This time he took the hand that was held out to
"Only ignorance," he added. "It seems an
awful punishment for that."
" Ignorance — and poverty and love," said the
young prosecutor as the door closed behind him,
"and Nature did the rest! What a grip is at our
throats! And how we help blind Nature in her
cruel work by laws and customs and conditions!
What a little way we've come from barbarism yet!
How slow we travel. But we are moving," he
added with a deep sigh. " Moving a little. There
is light ahead. If •'not for us, then for those who
He heard the bolt slip behind him and shud-
" It might as easily have been I," he mused as
he went down the steps, and shuddered again.
" I doubt if it was fault of his or virtue of mine
that determined which of us two should be the
H 1Rust£ Xfnfe fn tbe Cbafn.
"/« the brain, that wondrous world with one inhabitant, 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
floiv 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 fearful things are half revealed , jungles
where passion's tigers crouch, and skies of cloud and hiue where
fancies 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 tJuxt Mockery has throned and crowned.' 1 ' 1
A RUSTY LINK IN THE CHAIN.
When I called, last Sunday afternoon, as was
my habit, upon my old college friend — now a dis-
tinguished physician — I found him sitting in his
office holding in his hand a letter. His manner
was unusually grave and, I thought, troubled. I
asked him, laughingly, if he had had bad news from
beyond the seas — from his Castle in Spain.
" No, it is worse than that, I fear," he said gravely.
" It looks to me very much like bad news from be-
yond the grave— from the Castle of Heredity in the
realm of an Ancestor."
" I hope, doctor, that you have not had, — that my
little jest was not a cruel touch upon a real hurt."
" Not at all, not at all, old fellow," he said, smil-
ing a little.
" It is not my own trouble at all ; but — well, it
set me to thinking strange thoughts. Shall I tell you
about it ? I should really like to know just how it
would impress you — an intelligent man out of the
He placed the letter on the table beside him,
looked at me steadily for a moment, and then be-
102 A Rusty Link in the Chain.
" It may be as well to say that I have never before
ventured to tell the story of George Wetherell's
curious experience, simply because I have always
felt certain that to a really intelligent and well-in-
formed physician it would be a comparatively
familiar, and not specially startling (although a
wholly uncomprehended) phase of human disorder ;
while to many, not of the profession, it would
appear to involve such fearful and far-reaching re-
sults, that they would either refuse to believe it
possible at all, or else jump to the conclusion that
numerous cases which have only some slight point
of similarity are to be classed with it and explained
upon the same basis.
" In regard to these latter persons, I do not intend
to convey the impression that I am either ambitious
to shield them from the consequences of their own
nimble and unguarded reckonings, or that by my
silence in this particular instance I suppose that I
have prevented them from forming quite as errone-
ous opinions founded upon some other equally mis-
understood and ill-digested scrap of psychological
and medical information.
" But it has sometimes seemed to me that there
were certain features connected with the case of
George Wetherell which, in the hands of the igno-
rant or unscrupulous, might easily be used to the dis-
advantage of their fellow-beings, and I have there-
fore hesitated to lay it before any one who was not,
in my opinion, both intelligent and honorable
enough to accept it as one of the strange manifes-
A Rusty Link in the Chain. 103
tations in an individual experience ; and to under-
stand, because of the innumerable conditions of
mental and physical heredity — which were not likely
ever to occur again in the same proportions — that
therefore the same manifestations were, not to be
looked for in a sufficient number of persons to ever
make this case in any sense a type or a guide.
" Notwithstanding this, there are, as I said in the
first place, certain features connected with it which
many members of the medical profession will
recognize ; but they are none the less puzzling
" The matter has been brought back with unusual
force to my mind at this time, by a circumstance con-
nected with one of Wetherell's children, which is de-
tailed in this letter. It lends a new touch of interest
to the malady of the father. To enable you to ob-
tain even a fairly comprehensive idea of the strange
development, it will be necessary for me to tell you,
first, something about the man and his surround-
" To be as brief as I may, then, he was the son of
a merry, whole-souled, stout, and, withal, mentally
alert, Southern gentleman, who had taken the law
into his own hands and duly scandalized the repu-
table part of the community in which he lived by
giving his slaves (all of whom he or his wife had
inherited) their freedom at a time and under cir-
cumstances which made it necessary for him to be-
take himself with some considerable alacrity to a
part of the country where it was looked upon as
104 -^ Rusty Link in the Chain.
respectable to pay for the voluntary services of one's
fellowmen, rather than to pay for the man himself
with the expectation that the services were to be
" Of course it was imperative — not only for the
peace, but for the saf ety of all parties concerned —
for him to transport both his family and his freed-
men to a place where it was at once honorable for a
white man to do such a deed and for a black man
to own himself. This he did; and while a number
of the negroes remained in the service of the family,
the son (on whose account, and to prevent whom
from believing in and being enervated by the posses-
sion of slaves the step had, in great measure, been
taken) had grown to manhood with a curious min-
gling of Southern sympathies and Northern reason-
ing and convictions.
" The outbreak of the war found the young fellow
struggling bravely, with all the fire and energy of a
peculiarly gifted nature, to establish a newspaper
in a border State, and to convince his readers that
the extension of slavery would be a grave calamity,
not only for the owned but for the owner.
" His two associates were Eastern college-bred
men, and it was therefore deemed wisest to push
young Wetherell forward as the special champion of
free soil, under the illusion that his Southern birth
and sympathies would win for him a more ready and
kindly hearing on a subject which at that time
was a dangerous one to handle freely, especially in
the border-land then under dispute.
A Rusty Link in the Chain. 105
" But the three young enthusiasts had reckoned,
as young people will, upon a certain degree of rea-
son about, and calm discussion of, a question which
at that time they still recognized as having two
very strong and serious sides ; for they had not
taken the stand of the Abolition party at all. They
called themselves free-soil Democrats, and were
simply arguing against the extension of an institu-
tion which they were not yet prepared to believe it
wise to attempt to abolish where it was already
established, and where there was seemingly no
other peaceable or fair solution than the one of
limitation and gradual emancipation, through the
process of mental and moral development of the
ruling race. This position was not an unnatural
one, surely, for young Wetherell, and was only
what might have been expected from the son of a
man who had given practical demonstration of the
possibility of such evolution in the slave-holding
and slave-dependent class.
" But, as I have intimated, the confidence and
reasonableness of youth had led to a complete mis-
conception as to the temper of the opposition. It
is quite possible that the frank, passionate, free-soil
editorials, if they had come from either of the
Eastern men, might have been accepted as the de-
lusions of youth, the prejudice of section, or, at
worst, as the arguments of partisans ; but from a
man of Southern birth — the son of a law-breaker
(you must remember that the enfranchisement of
the slaves had been a serious infraction of the law,
106 A Rusty Link in the Chain.
strange as that sounds to the ears of the present
generation) — from the son of such a man they
could mean only a malicious desire to stir up strife
and cause bloodshed by making restless slaves
dangerous and dangerous slaves desperate. The
result was that one night, after the issue of a paper
containing an article of unusual force and power,
young Wetherell found himself startled from a
sound sleep, in the back room of his office, by the
smell of smoke and gleam of flame.
" He understood their significance at a glance, and
knew that escape by the front door meant a recep-
tion by masked men, five minutes for prayer, and —
" Springing from the back window into the river,
he swam to the other shore, and within a few days
raised the first regiment of volunteers that the
State sent in response to the call of the President,
and cut adrift at once and forever from all effort
to argue the case from an ethical or a financial out-
"It is more than likely that anger may have I ^d
something to do with his sudden conversion from a
' peace and argument,' to first a ' war Democrat,'
and shortly thereafter to a Republican ; but be
that as it may, it is certain that at such crises as
these, mental activity is spurred and radical changes
are made with a rapidity and decision astonishing
to contemplate in periods of quiet and peace.
" So it came about that this lad of twenty-three
suddenly found himself at the head of a regiment
A Rusty Link in the Chain. 107
of somewhat desperate border men, most of whom
were more than twice his own age, wildly charging
a battery in one of the first battles of the war.
" He received three wounds, one of which was a
slight abrasion of the scalp, not looked upon as
more than a scratch by either the surgeon or him-
self ; indeed, it would hardly be worth mentioning
but for the strange events which followed. Whether
this wound had anything to do with the con-
dition of which I am about to tell, you will have to
decide for yourself ; but I must warn you, in the
beginning, that there was nothing like a fracture of
the skull, and the little path made by the bullet
through the scalp healed without trouble, almost
without attention, and never afterward gave the
" The hair, it is true, did not grow again over the
parting, and, as it was nearly in the middle of his
head, it made him an involuntary follower of the
fashion of a certain effeminate type of youths for
whom he had an overwhelming contempt. Neither
of the other two wounds was serious, and after a
very short period in the hospital he reported for
duty, was promoted, and given sole charge of a
post of considerable importance.
" Shortly thereafter his father received a some
what discomposing telegram. He had previously had
several more or less lucid despatches from his son
while the patient was still in the hospital ; but any
lack of clearness in their wording had beenattrib-
108 A Rusty Link in the Chain.
uted to haste or to carelessness in the transmission,
and as they all indicated rapid recovery, no undue
anxiety had been felt. But the message in question
now produced the impression that there was some-
thing wrong. It read : ' Send me one thousand
"After a few moments' consultation with the boy's
mother, Mr. Wetherell packed his hand-bag, and,
armed with a letter from President Lincoln, whose
personal friend he was, started for the seat of war.
" Upon arriving at his destination, the son ex-
pressed no surprise whatever, but much pleasure, at
seeing his father. He asked, in the most natural
and affectionate way, about each member of the
family, and then suddenly put his hand to his head
and appeared to be in deep thought.
" His eyes contracted in the manner peculiar to
some persons when attempting to recall a long-
forgotten event ; but in a moment this had passed
away and he appeared to be perfectly clear and
" He attended to the affairs of his office in a man-
ner which not only escaped criticism, but won praise
from his superiors, and conversed with great freedom
and marked intelligence on the stirring subjects of
" He had had some little fever while his wounds
were fresh, but in no degree to cause alarm, and even
this had now almost entirely left him. In short, he
appeared to be in nearly perfect mental and physical
health. There was, however, one peculiarity which
A Rusty Link in the Chain. 109
the father noticed as unfamiliar in his son ; but as
it was not at all strange that so young a man — or
any man, indeed, who had suddenly been given con-
trol of matters of such grave importance — should
at times be very quiet and appear to be struggling
to recall some matter of moment, the habit was
not given more than passing attention, and it was
not sufficiently marked to be noticed at all by any
one except a near relation. At these times young
Wetherell would contract his eyebrows, look stead-
ily at some object near him, — as the toe of his boot
or the palm of his hand, — raise his head suddenly,
gaze at the distant horizon, bite his lip, and then
appear to either give it up or be satisfied with some
mental solution of his puzzle.
" One day his father said : ' What is it, George?'
" The young fellow turned his eyes quickly upon
his father and asked :
" ' Have I forgotten anything ? It seems to me
there is something I just fail to recall. I am on
the edge of it constantly, but it slips. I can't get
quite enough hold on it to be sure what it is — or to
be certain, indeed, that it is anything. Can you
think of anything I ought to do that I have over-
looked ? '
" This all sounded natural enough, and was, seem-
ingly, a condition not unfamiliar to his father, so
they began together going over the duties pertain-
ing to the son's office to see if, by a mischance,
something had been neglected. Everything was
complete and in perfect order ; but still the look
I io A Rusty Link in the Chain.
returned from time to time, until it became almost
" This was ten days after his father had reached
camp, and his plan was to leave for home that af-
ternoon ; for, as I said, the boy's wounds were
almost entirely healed, and he appeared to be in
need of nothing whatever. More and more his su-
perior officers called him into their councils, and
more and more his clear judgment was commended
" He was to walk to the train with his father.
The moment they were outside the limits of the
camp George remarked, casually, ' I must stop on
the way and order those swords.'
" The remark recalled the queer telegram which
had caused Mr. Wetherell to come to his son, the
wording of which had been wholly obliterated from
his mind by their meeting.
" ' What swords ?' inquired his father, now on the
" The young fellow turned and looked at his
father for a moment, and then said : ' I don't know.
It is a secret order. Don't mention it. The gen-
eral told me to order them. They are to be sent
" This all seemed probable enough to Mr. Weth-
erell, and yet he somehow felt, rather than saw, a
queer change in his son's eyes, which he thought he
had noticed once or twice before.
" He decided not to return home for the present.
When he told his son this, the boy took it quite
A Rusty Link in the Chain. 1 1 1
as a matter of course, and made no comment what-
ever on the sudden alteration of purpose.
" On the way back to camp George stepped into
a military supply station and ordered fourteen
hundred swords to be delivered to him immedi-
" By this time his father had made up his mind
that there were short intervals in which the young
colonel did not know exactly what he was doing —
or, rather, that while he did know and act intelli-
gently — from the outlook of the moment — it was a
time wholly disconnected from the rest of his life,
and when the moment was past he had no farther
recollection of it.
" However, Mr. Wetherell was not sure enough of
this to risk compromising a probably brilliant future
by a premature or unnecessarily public announce-
ment, and he therefore allowed the order to be
made, and taken in good faith, and walked back to
camp with his son, who immediately went about
his duties in the most intelligent and scrupulously
" Mr. Wetherell, however, made a call upon the
officer in command the moment he could do so
without attracting attention ; and after a long talk
(in which the secret sword order was discovered to
be a delusion), it was decided that the recently re-
covered invalid should retire from the field on the
sick leave, which he had previously refused to con-
"When he was told of this arrangement, he agreed
112 A Rusty Link in the Chain.
to it without a murmur, and began, for the first
time for many days, to have his wounds (which
were now past the need of it) dressed with much
care. This he continued every mornirg, but by
the time they reached home he had become pos-
sessed with the belief that his chief wound was in
his side, where there had not been a scratch.
" To humor him, the family physician applied ban-
dages to the imaginary injury every day regularly.
" All this time there was no clearer talker, no more
acute reasoner, no more simple, earnest, gentle-
manly fellow to be found than Col. George Weth-
erell, whom his townsmen were honoring and induc-
ing to make public speeches and write clear, firm,
inspiring editorials for one of the leading papers.
No one except his own family and physician sus-
pected for a moment that he was not mentally as
bright as he always had been, and even the younger
members of the family were without the least hint
" Indeed, his father and the doctor both thought
that his only illusion now was a belief in the wound
in his side. Several weeks passed, and even this
indication was losing its force, for he no longer re-
quired medical attention, and was as well and as ra-
tional as ever in his life, so far as any one could
perceive, when one day a stranger appeared and
asked for him. Mr. Wetherell requested the gen-
tleman (who was evidently laboring under great ex-
citement) to be seated, and at the same time made
up his own mind to be present during the interview.
A Rusty Link in the Chain. 1 1 3
Colonel Wetherell was summoned, and, on entering
the room, looked in a startled way at the stranger,
rmiled vaguely, extended his hand, contracted his
eyes into a long, narrow line, turned white, and
throwing both arms suddenly above his head, ex-
claimed : ' My God ! my God ! what have I done ?
Where am I ? How long has it been ? Is she
dead ? Is she dead ?' and staggered back into his
" His distress was so manifest, that the visitor lost
his severity at once, and said quite gently: ' No, she
is not dead ; but she is almost insane with fright,
and has been so exhausted with anxiety and tears,
that we had lost all hope for her reason, or even
for her life, unless I could find you. I have been
through the lines, was delayed by the loss of my
passport, and it is now five weeks since I saw her.
She is alive, but — '
" Young Wetherell sprang to his feet, and turned
on his father like a madman. ' How dared you?' he
demanded; ' how dared you keep back my letters ?
You have killed her. You have murdered her,
poor, delicate girl, with anxiety and doubt of me.'
And then with set teeth and white lips he advanced
upon his father, his arm uplifted, as if he held a
sword, and with a sweep which would have severed
chords of steel, if the weapon had really been within
his grasp, he brought his arm across his father's
breast and sank upon the floor, senseless and still.
" Afterward, when he revived, he had no recollec-
tion of what had occurred, except alone the fact
U4 -A Rusty Ijink in the Chain.
that for many weeks previous he had forgotten ut-
terly the girl who was to be his wife, whose life
and love were all his world. While he had remem
bered everything else, had carefully attended to the
smallest details of daily life, the link of memory
that held the fact of her existence had been coated
with a rust of absolute oblivion. The single link
in all the chain of memory that had failed him had
been the one the nearest to his heart — the dearest
one of all !
" They were married two months later, and he re-
sumed command of his regiment. Through an
honorable and eventful life no sign of mental lapse
ever returned ; but every day he dreaded it, and
watched his wife and children as a man might do
who saw a creeping monster back of those he loved
while he stood paralyzed and dumb. He never
seemed to fear that other things might lose their
hold upon his consciousness ; but the apprehension
that his mind would slip the link which held his
wife, and leave her sick and faint with anxious
fears, which he alone could still, constantly haunted
" His wounds never troubled him again. He died
not long ago. His career was an exceptionally
brilliant one. You would know him if I had given
his real name, for it was in the public ear for
" There were but six persons who ever knew the
history of his case, and they are still unable to ex-
plain it — its cause, its direction, its cure. Or is it
A Rusty Litik in the Cliain. 1 1 5
cured ? Will his children be subject to it ? Will
it take the same form ? Was it caused by the
wound ? by the fever ? Or were hereditary condi-
tions so grouped as to produce this mental effect,
even if there had been no wound — no illness ? If
the latter, will it be transmitted ? These questions
come to me with renewed force, to-day, as I hold in
my hand this letter, asking me to give the family his-
tory of Col. George Wetherell for the use of physi-
cians in a distant city who are now treating his son.
This son has reached the precise age at which
his father had the strange experience of which I
have just told you.
"There is a hint in the letter which, in the light of
the father's malady, appears to a physician to be
of peculiar importance from a medical outlook.
"We shall see, we shall see."
There was a long pause ; then he asked :
" Should you, a layman, look to the wound to ex-
plain the condition ? Or to the Castle of Heredity ?
Suppose the son's malady is quite similar — as now
appears — what then?"
£be Boler Ibouse fll>£Ster£c
" What would you do? what would you say now, if you were in
such a position?" — Thackeray.
'■'■Thackeray is always protesting that no good is to be done by
blinking the truth. Let us have facts out, and mend what is bad
ifive can.'"— Trollope.
THE BOLER HOUSE MYSTERY.
Mr. John Boler had been in the hotel business,
as he phrased it, ever since he was born. Before
he could walk he had been the " feature " of his
father's summer hotel, where he was the only baby
to be passed around and hugged into semi-uncon-
sciousness by all the women in the house. Because
of the scarcity of his kind, too, he was subjected
to untold agony by the male guests, most of whom
appeared to believe that the chief desire of his in-
fantile heart was to be tossed skyward from hour
to hour and caught in upstretched hands as he
descended with a sickening sense of insecurity and
a wild hysterical laugh. In these later years he
often said that he would like to know who those
summer fiends were who had made his infancy so
full of narrow escapes from sudden and violent
death. Finally he thought he had revenge at
hand. A benevolent-looking old gentleman came
puffing up to the desk of the Boler House, and,
after registering, proceeded to question the genial
proprietor as to his identity.
" Dear me, dear me," he puffed, " and so you are
the son of old John Boler, the best hotel-keeper
1 20 The Boler House Mystery.
the sun ever shone upon ! Why, I remember toss-
ing you up to the rafters under the porch of your
father's house when you were only the size of a
baked apple and mighty nigh as measly looking.
Well, well, to be sure you had grit for a young one.
Never got scared. Always yelled for more. I be-
lieve if you had batted your soft little head against
the roof you'd have laughed all the louder and
kicked until you did it again," and the old man
chuckled with the pleasure of age and retrospec-
" Yes, I remember well," said Mr. Boler, casting
about in his own mind for the form of revenge he
should take on this man now that he was to have
the chance for which he had so longed and waited.
His first thought was to put him in the room
next to the three sporting men who played poker
and told questionable stories of their own exploits
after two o'clock every night, but that hardly
seemed adequate. The room adjoining the elevator
popped into his head. Every time the old gentle-
man fell asleep bang would go that elevator door or
bzzzz would start off the bell so suddenly that it
would leave him unnerved and frantic in the morn-
ing. But what was that ? What John Boler
yearned for was to make the punishment fit the
crime, and, after all these years of planning and wish-
ing for the chance, here it was, and he felt that
he could think of nothing, absolutely nothing, bad
So with a fine satire which was wholly lost upon
The Boler House Mystery. 121
his victim, Mr. Boler ordered him taken to the very
best room in the house, and made up his mind that
after disarming all suspicion in that way he would
set about his revenge, which should take some ex-
quisitely torturous form.
All this had run through his mind with great
rapidity while the old gentleman talked. Then
Mr. Boler turned the register around, wrote " 98 "
opposite the name. Said he should be delighted
to show his own mettle to one of his father's old
guests, called out " Front," and transferred his at-
tention to a sweet-faced girl who stood waiting her
turn to register.
"A small room, please," she said in a voice
scarcely above a whisper. Mr. Boler knew just
what it meant in an instant. He knew that she
was not used to hotels — that she was uncertain
what to do, and that she wanted her living to cost
her as little as possible. She was evidently a lady,
and quite as evidently from some small town.
" Front," he called again. " Show this lady to
96. Step lively." Front grinned. Ninety-six was
a mere closet with no window except one facing a
dark shaft. Indeed, it had once been the dressing-
room and clothes press for the adjoining suite, and
so far as Front could remember had never been
used as a sleeping apartment by any one except the
valet of a certain French gentleman who once oc-
" Took my revenge on the wrong person that
time," mused Mr. Boler as he saw the lady enter
122 The Boler House Mystery.
the elevator. " Now I wonder why I did that ?"
But Mr. John Boler had his little superstition, as
most of us have, and whenever he was moved by a
perfectly blind impulse to do a thing, he always
believed that " something would come of it sure,"
as he expressed it. " Never knew it to fail. Of
course I don't believe in such things; but — " and
then he would laugh and go on believing in it as
implicitly as ever.
All day he brooded over what he should do to
old Winkle, as he called the man in 98, and as
surely as his mind grew exhausted and his various
plans fell through, his thoughts would catch a
glimpse of the timid girl in the next room, and he
would smilingly wink to himself and say, " Some-
thing will come of it, something will come of it
sure. Never put a guest in that beastly room be-
fore and I had nothing against her. Must have
been him It was after." He always called his
blind impulses " It " when he was utilizing them
for superstitious purposes or to quiet his reason.
" I'll bet that girl being in that closet will be the
means of getting me even with old Winkle yet, and
she is not used to city hotels. She'll think that it
is all right and she will most likely be out all day.
It's not so bad to sleep in after all. Quietest room
in the house."
The next morning Mr. Winkle strolled into the
office and harassed Mr. Boler about his infancy,
reminding him that he had possessed a very weak
stomach. " And who wouldn't," thought that gen-
The Boler House Mystery. 123
tleman indignantly, "if he was pitched about like a
bale of hay from morning till night by every fool
that got hold of him ?" but he smiled pleasantly
and said no doubt he had been very much like
other infants, judging from the way he grew up.
He looked upon a baby as the embryonic man, and
as he was about an average adult male biped now,
he had most likely been very close to an average
male infant. " I might have been more," he hinted
darkly, " but for certain idiotic people," and then
he laughed. For it was not in Mr. John Boler's
nature to be openly unpleasant to any one. This
was the secret of his success as an innkeeper.
" By the way, Johnnie," said old Mr. Winkle late
the next afternoon, " I thought I heard some one
sobbing in the room next to mine last night. This
morning I concluded I was mistaken, but now I'm
sure I heard it. Anybody sick in there ? I tried
the door that leads into my room but it was locked.
It sounds like a woman's voice. It always did tear
the very heart out of me to hear a woman cry — "
He went on talking but Mr. John Boler heard no
more. His heart gave a wild bound of delight.
"It" had given him his revenge. He would let the
young woman stay in the hotel free of charge as long
as old Winkle was in the house if only she would
weep and sob pretty steadily. " ' Johnnie,' by gad,"
thought he, resenting this new indignity to his
name. " By George, what luck !" And then he
went about his duties with a new spring in his al-
ways elastic step. At the lunch hour the follow-
1 24 The Bolcr House Mystery.
ing day he glanced into the dining-room, and sure
enough, there sat the occupant of 96, and her eyes
were swollen and red. At almost any other time
this would have disturbed John Boler, but now it
was a deep delight to him.
" Had a spat with her lover, no doubt," specu-
lated he, " and, by Jove ! it came at a lucky time
for me. I'd pay her lover to keep up the row for
three weeks if I could get at him. ' Weak stomach,'
'Johnnie,' indeed !" And he went back to the
office rubbing his hands in a satisfied way, thinking
that old Winkle would be afraid to go to his room
that night, and that his sleep would be broken by
visions of a weeping woman next door, even if she
did not keep him awake half the time sobbing be-
cause Ralph had called her a mean thing or a
proud stuck-up flirt, and hinted darkly that she
was in love with his rival.
Matters had gone on in this way for nearly a
week and Mr. Winkle had fretted and fumed and
asked for another room two or three times, but Mr.
Boler told him that the house was full and that
there wasn't another room fit to offer him anyhow.
He said that he would change the young lady's room
as soon as he could, but he expected her to leave
every day. She went out a good deal and wrote a
large number of letters, and he felt sure she was go-
ing to remain only a day or two longer. He apolo-
gized and explained and planned, and then he
would chuckle to himself the moment "old Winkle's"
back was turned to think how " // " had succeeded
The Boler House Mystery. 125
in getting him even with the old reprobate without
the least overt act on his part.
But the eighth morning Mr. Winkle rebelled out-
right. He said that he would wring ths girl's
worthless neck if he could get at her, but he could
not and would not bear her sobs any longer. The
night before they had been worse than ever and he
had not slept a wink all night long. At last Mr.
Boler promised that he would transfer the girl to
another room that very afternoon if she did not
leave, and the old man softened at once and said
if she could not afford to pay for any other room
he would pay the difference and she need never
John Boler was not mercenary, but this offer
gave him keen delight. For-" old Winkle " would
have to buy his relief after all. He thought how
willingly a certain infant of his memory would have
paid for rest and quiet too when it was helpless
clay in the hands of certain old imbeciles he knew
At 2 p.m. he told Front to go up to 96 and tell
the young lady that he now had a better room for
her that would cost her no more than the one she
now occupied, and to change her and her belong-
ings to 342 forthwith. In five minutes Front came
back as white as a cloth and said that the young
lady's door was unlocked, that there were a num-
ber of letters on the table and that she was dead.
Mr. John Boler dashed from behind the desk
across the street and was back in an incredibly
126 The Boler House Mystery.
short space of time, dragging behind him the dig-
nified and wealthy physician whose office faced the
At this stage of the proceedings he cautioned
the employees not to say a word about the matter
on pain of instant dismissal. They one and all
promised, and then proceeded to tell the first re-
porter who dropped in that a young lady had com-
mitted suicide upstairs and that she had cried out
loud for a week. They gave a full description of
her and her effects, all of which appeared in the
5 o'clock edition of the paper, duly headlined with
her name and certain gratuitous speculations in re-
gard to her motive for self-destruction. In these it
was darkly hinted that she was no better than she
should be, but now that she was dead "we" (the
immaculate young gentlemen of the press) felt dis-
posed to draw a veil of charity over her past and
say with the law that her suicide proved her in-
sanity, and that her mental condition might also
account for her past frailties.
While these generous young gentlemen were
penning their reports the doctor and Mr. John
Boler worked over the poor helpless body of the
unconscious girl in the dark little room upstairs.
Between times they read the letters on the table
and learned the old, old story — not of crime, but
of misfortune. No work had offered, and she must
work or starve — or sell the only value she possessed
in the sight of men. One or two of the answers
to her advertisement had boldly hinted at this, and
The Boler House Mystery. 127
when her little stock of money had run out and
the little stock of misfortune had swelled into a
mountain, and the little pile of insults had in-
creased until she felt that she could endure life no
longer, she had concluded to brave another world
where she was taught to believe a loving Father
awaited her because she had been good and true
and pure to the last in spite of storms and disap-
pointments and temptations. So she made the
wild leap in the dark, confident that the hereafter
could hold nothing worse, and believing sincerely
that it must hold something better for her and her
kind, even if that better were only forgetfulness.
Up to this point her story was that of thousands
of helpless girls who face the unknown dangers of
a great city with the confidence of youth, and that
ill training and ignorance of the world which is
supposed to be a part of the charm of young
womanhood. She had not registered her real
name, it is true; but this was because she intended
to advertise for work and have the replies sent to
the hotel, and somehow she thought that it would
be easier for her to do that over a name less sacred
to her than her mother's, which was also her own.
So instead of registering as Fannie Ellis Worth of
Atlanta, she had written " Miss Kate Jarvis" and
had given no address whatever. This latter fact
told strongly against her with the reporters. They
located her in a certain house on Thirty-first Street
and " interviewed ' the madam, who gave them a
picture of a girl who had once been there, and a
128 The Boler House Mystery.
cut of this picture appeared in two of the morning
papers with the fuller account of the suicide. A
beautiful moral was appended to this history of
the girl's life " which had now come to its appro-
priate ending." But when one of these enterpris-
ing young gentlemen of the press called to get the
details of the funeral for his paper, he was shocked
to learn that the young lady was not dead after all,
and that she was now in a fair way to recover.
He was still further disgusted when neither Mr.
Boler nor the attending physician would submit to
an interview and declined to allow him to send his
card to the girl's room.
Then and there he made up his mind that if he
had to rewrite that two-column report to fit the
new developments in the case, he would, as he ex-
pressed it, make John Boler and pompous Dr. Ral-
ston wish that they had never been born. In-
cident to this undertaking, he would darkly hint at
a number of things in regard to the girl herself and
their relations with her. This was not at all to
make her wish that she had never been born ; but
if it should serve that purpose, the young gentle-
man did not f( el that he would be in the least to
blame — if, indeed, he gave the matter a thought at
all, which he very likely did not.
The article he wrote was certainly very " wide
awake" and surprised even himself in its ingenuity
of conjecture as to the motive which could prompt
two such men as John Boler, proprietor of the
Boler House, and Dr. Ralston, "whose reputation
The Boler House Mystery. 129
had heretofore been above suspicion, to place
themselves in so unenviable, not to say dangerous,
a position." He suggested that although the young
woman had taken her case out of the jurisdiction
of the coroner by not actually dying, this fact did
not relieve the affair of certain features which de-
manded the prompt attention of the police court.
The matter was perfectly clear. Here was a young
woman who had attempted to relieve herself, by
rapid means, of the life which all the social and
financial conditions which surrounded her had com-
bined to take by a slower and more painful process.
If she had succeeded, the law held that she was of
unsound mind — that she was, in short, a lunatic —
and treated her case accordingly ; but, on the other
hand, if she failed, or if, as in this instance, her
effort to place herself beyond want and pain was
thwarted by others, then the law was equally sure
that she was not a lunatic at all, but that she was a
criminal, and that it was the plain duty of the
police judge to see that she was put with those of
her class — the enemies and outcasts of society.
It was also quite clear that any one who aided,
abetted, or shielded a criminal was particeps crim-
z'm's, and that unless Mr. John Boler and Dr. Ral-
ston turned the young offender over to the police
at once, there was a virtuous young reporter on the
Daily Screamer who intended to know the reason
It was this article in the Screamer which first
made Mr. Winkle aware of the condition of affairs
1 30 The Boler House Mystery.
in the room adjoining his own. He had been ab-
sent from the hotel for some hours, and had,
therefore, known nothing of the sad happenings so
near him. He dashed down into the office with
the paper in his hand and asked for Mr. Boler; but
that gentleman was not visible. It was said that
he was in consultation with Dr. Ralston at the
office of the latter, whereupon Mr. Winkle re-read
the entire article aloud to the imperturbable clerk
and expressed himself as under the impression that
something was the matter with the law, or else that
a certain reporter for the Screamer was the most
dangerous lunatic at present outside of the legisla-
ture. The clerk smiled. A young man leaning
against the desk made a note on a tablet, and then
asked Mr. Winkle what he knew of the case and to
state his objections to the law, first saying which
law he so vigorously disapproved. The clerk
winked at Mr. Winkle, but Mr. Winkle either did
not see, or else did not regard the purport of the
demonstration, and proceeded to express himself
with a good deal of emphasis in regard to a condi-
tion of affairs which made it possible to elect as law-
makers men capable of framing such idiotic measures
and employing on newspapers others who upheld the
enactment. But before he had gone far in these
strictures on public affairs as now administered he
espied John Boler and followed him hastily upstairs.
That afternoon Mr. Winkle almost fell from his
chair when he saw the evening edition of the
Screamer with a three-column "interview" with
The Boler House Mystery. 1 3 1
himself. It was headed, "Rank Socialism at the
Boler House. A Close Friend of the Offending
Landlord Lets the Cat out of the Bag. A Dangerous
Nest of Law Breakers. John Boler and Dr. Ral-
ston still Defiant. Backed by a Man Who Ought to
Know Better. Shameless Confession of one of the
Arch Conspirators. The Mask torn from Old Silas
Winkle Who Roomed Next to the Would-be Suicide.
Will the Police Act Now ?"
When Mr. Winkle read the article appended to
these startling headlines, he descended hastily to the
office floor and proceeded to make some remarks
which it would be safe to assert would not be re-
peated by any Sunday-school superintendent — in
the presence of his class — in the confines of the State
of New York. John Boler was present at the time
and whispered aside to Mr. Winkle that a reporter for
the Screamer and five others from as many different
papers were within hearing, whereupon Mr. Winkle
became more and more excited, and talked with
great volubility to each and every one of the young
men as they gathered about him. " Adds Blasphemy
to His Other Crimes," wrote one of them as his head-
line, and then John Boler interfered.
" Look here, boys," said he pleasantly, but with
a ring of determination in his voice, "you just let
Mr. Winkle alone. This sort of thing is all new to
him, and he had no more to do with that girl than
if his room had been in Texas." (The reporters
winked at each other and one of them wrote, Con-
nived at by the Proprietor?) " /put her in the room
1 32 The Bolcr House Mystery.
next to his. / helped the doctor to resuscitate her.
/ positively refuse to give you her real name and
present address, although I know both, and Mr.
Winkle does not, and if the police court has any
use for me it knows where to find me. Have a
cigar?" Each reporter took a weed, and three of
them went to the office of Dr. Ralston to complete
their records as soon as possible.
" I'm sorry all this has happened to you in my
house, Mr. Winkle," said John Boler, as they stood
alone for a moment. " It is partly my fault, too,"
he added, in a sudden burst of contrition. " It"
had carried his revenge further than he had in-
tended. He knew how the old man's sudden out-
break of righteous indignation would go against him
in the newspaper reports that would follow, and
John Boler was kind-hearted as well as fearless.
" Good Lord, don't you worry about me, John-
nie !" said the old man, craning his neck to watch
the retreating forms from the window. " But those
young devils have gone over to the doctor's office
and they'll bully him into telling where the girl is,
and then they'll bully the police into dragging her
into court yet. Dear me, dear me !"
" Now, don't you be scared about that, Mr.
Winkle. The doctor and I have made up our
minds to fight this thing out. We've found out all
about the girl and that it was simply a case of utter
despair. It was a question of death by slow or by
quick means. Society, law, prescribed the slow
method, and the girl herself chose the rapid one.
The Boler House Mystery. 133
Well, now, as long as she was to be the sufferer in
either case, it strikes me that she had about as good
a right to a voice in the matter as the rest of us.
Dr. Ralston and I checkmated her. (I can't afford
to have that kind of thing happen in the hotel, of
course.) But, by gad, we're not going to let them
make a criminal of her. All the circumstances
combined to do that before and she chose death.
Well, we stopped her efforts in that line too, and
now the court proposes to put the finishing touches
on society's other inhumanities and send her up
for it. Why, good God, man, just look at it ! In
substance that girl said, 'I'll die before I'll be
forced into association with criminals,' and the
court says, 'You shall do nothing of the kind.
Science shall doctor you up and we will send you
up. Despair is a crime.' That girl tried every way
she knew of to live right. She failed. No work
that she could do came her way. Well, now, will
you just tell me what she was to do ? You know
what any man on God's earth would do if he had
been situated that way and could have sold his vir-
tue — in the sense we use virtue for women. Well,
some women are not built that way. They prefer
to die. Life don't mean enough of happiness to
them to pay for the rest of it — life as it is, I mean.
Well, since women don't have anything to say
about what the laws and social conditions shall be,
it strikes me that the situation is a trifle arbitrary,
to put it mildly. We make laws for and demands
upon women that no man on earth would think of
134 The Bolcr House Mystery.
complying with, and then we tell 'em they sha'n't
even die to get away from the conditions we im-
pose and about which they are not allowed a word
to say. To tell you the bald truth /';;/ ashamed
of it. So when we learned that girl's story we just
made up our minds that since we had taken the
liberty to keep her from getting out of the world by
a shorter cut than the one usually prescribed in
such cases — starvation— that we'd just take the ad-
ditional liberty of keeping her from being hounded
to insanity and made a criminal of by legal verdict."
Mr. Winkle gave a snort that startled John Boler,
for he had been running on half to himself during
the last of his talk and had almost forgotten that
the old man was present. When he heard the ex-
plosion he mistook its meaning and his conscience
gave him another smart twinge.
"Yes, I'm sorry, very sorry, Mr. Winkle, that this
trouble has come to you in my house, but who could
have foreseen that — a — that is to say — "
" Trouble to me ? " exclaimed Mr. Winkle.
" Trouble to me ? Who's said anything about any
trouble to me ? Do you suppose I care what those
young scamps say about me in the papers? Got to
make a living, haven't they ? Well, society doesn't
object to their making a living by taking what does
not belong to 'em, if it happens to be a man's repu-
tation or a woman's chance to ever make an honest
living again. Little thefts like that don't count.
That is not a crime ; but dear me, Johnnie, do you
suppose I care a tinker's dam about that, so far as
The Boler House Mystery. 135
/ go ? God bless my soul, if the dear boys can sell
their three columns of rot about me, and it will keep
them off the heels of some poor devil that it might
ruin, why, I'm satisfied. All I've got to say to you
is, if they arrest you I'll go bail, and if they fine
you I'll pay it, and if they jail you — hang it, John-
nie, I'll serve your term, that's all."
Mr. Boler laughed. " My punishment shall all
be vicarious then, hey ? Good idea, only it won't
work in every-day life. The law doesn't let other
people serve out your term. But I'm just as
much obliged, and — and — to tell you the truth,
Mr. Winkle, I'm — that is to say, I hope you will
forgive me — the fact is, I forgive you freely for
the part you took in helping to addle such brains
as I had when I was a child. There is my hand.
1 It ' went a little too far this time, and — "
Mr. Winkle took off his glasses and polished
them carefully. Then he placed them astride his
nose and gazed thoughtfully at his old friend's son
for fully a minute before he said a word. Finally
he took the extended hand, shook it solemnly,
and walked slowly away, wondering to himself if it
could be possible that hard-headed old John Boler's
son was touched a little in the brain. Mr. Boler
noticed his perplexed expression and laughed
merrily to himself as he started toward the ele-
vator. Before he reached it he turned and beck-
oned to Mr. Winkle to follow him. On the third
floor they were joined by Dr. Ralston.
" She is so much better now, Mr. Winkle," ex-
136 The Boler House Mystery.
plained the genial hotel man, " and you are an older
man than either the doctor or I, so I thought — It
just struck me that she might feel — That you might
like — Oh, damn it, would you like to go up to see
her ? We are going now. A clergyman has called,
and if she wants to see him we shall not stay but a
minute ; but as there is no woman about, as she is
so alone, I thought perhaps she might like to have
an older man come with us, for she seems to be a
very sensitive girl. She has been silent about her-
self so far ; but she is better now, and we want to
find out what work she can do, and have a place
ready for her when she is able to get about. Per-
haps she will talk more freely to you."
The old gentleman looked perplexed, but made
no reply until they were out of the elevator. Then
he took Mr. Boler by the arm and said helplessly,
" I — I am a bachelor, you know, Johnnie, and — "
" No !" laughed Mr. Boler. " Well, confound it,
you don't look it. Anybody would take you for
the proud father of a large brood. She will think
you are and it may help her. Come on."
The old gentleman entered the darkened room
last and sai down silently in the deepest shadow.
The doctor stepped to the bed and spoke in a low
tone. A white face on the pillow turned slowly, so
that the only band of light that reached in from
the open door fell full upon it. Mr. Winkle shud-
dered as he saw for the first time the delicate,
pallid, hopeless face.
" A priest ?" she said feebly, in answer to the
The Boler House Mystery. 1 37
doctor. " Oh, no. Why should I want to see a
priest ? You've had your way. You've brought
me back to battle with a world wherein I only now
acknowledged my defeat." Her voice trembled
with weakness and emotion, but she was looking
steadily at the doctor with great wide eyes, in which
there burnt the intensity of mental suffering and a
determination to free her mind even at the risk of
losing the good-will of those who had intended to
be kind to her. "A priest! What could he do?
This life is what I fear. His mission is to deal
with other worlds — of which I know already what
he does — and that is nothing. Of this life I know,
alas ! too much. Far more than he. He cannot
help me, for I could tell him much he cannot
know, of suffering and fortitude and hope laid low
at last, without a refuge even in cloistered walls. I
know what he would say. His voice would tremble
and he would offer sympathy and good advice —
and, maybe, alms. These are not what I want or
need. I am not very old — just twenty-two — but I
have thought and thought until my brain is tired,
and what good could it do for him to sit beside me
here and say in gentle tones that it is very sad ?
No doubt that he would tell me, too, how wicked
I have been that I should choose to die by my own
hand when life had failed me."
She smiled a little, and her wan face lit from
within was beautiful still in spite of its pallor.
The doctor murmured something about natural
sympathy, and Mr. Boler remarked that men who
138 The Bolcr House Mystery.
were fortunate would gladly help those who were
in distress if only they knew in time. She did not
appear to heed them, but presently went on as
though her mind were on the clergymen below wait-
ing to see her.
" To feel that it is sad is only human; but what
is to be done ? That is the question now. What
is to be done for suffering in this world ? It is life
that is hard to bear, not death. Sympathy with
the unfortunate is good. Kind words and gentle
tones as your priest recounts their woes are touch-
ing. Yes, and when they are drawn to fit the
truth would melt a heart of stone; but unless
action wings the sympathy and dries the tears, the
object of his tenderness is in nowise bettered —
indeed, is injured. Why ? Because he lulls to
sleep man's conscience and thereby gives relief
from pangs that otherwise had found an outlet
through an open purse. And when I say an open
purse I do not speak of charity, that double blight
which kills the self-respect in its recipient and
numbs the conscience of the ' benevolent' man
who grasps the utmost penny here that he may give
with ostentation there, wounding the many that he
may heal the few. All this was safe enough, no
doubt, while Poverty was ignorant, for ignorance
is helpless always; but now — " There was a
pause. She raised her head a little from the pil-
low and a frightened look crept into her eyes —
" but now the poor are not so ignorant that it will
long be safe to play at cross purposes with suffer-
The Boler House Mystery. 1 39
ing made too intelligent to drink in patient faith
the bitter draughts of life and wait the crown of
gold he promises hereafter — and wears, mean-
while, himself. A little joy on earth, they think,
will not bedim the lustre of a life that is to come —
if such there be. You see I've thought a little in
these wretched days and months just past." She
was silent again for a moment. A bitter smile
crossed her face and vanished. The doctor of-
fered her a powder which she swallowed without
a word. John Boler stepped to the table and
poured out a glass of wine, but when he held it
toward her she shook her head and closed her
eyes a moment. Then she spoke again as if no
break had checked her thought. " Oh, no ; I do
not care to see your priest. The poor no longer
fail to note his willingness to risk the needle's eye
with camel's back piled high with worldly gain.
If he may enter thus, why may not they with sim-
pler train and fewer trappings ? The poor are
asking this to-day of prince and priest alike. No
answer comes from either. Evasion does not sat-
isfy. I ask, but no one answers. The day once
was when silence passed for wisdom. That day is
gone. To-day we are asking why ? and why ? and
why ? no longer, when ? And so the old reply,
' hereafter,' does not fit the query. Why, not
when, is what we urge to-day, and your replies
must change to fit the newer, nearer question.
When I say your replies, I do not mean you, doc-
tor, nor your friend. You two meant kindly by
140 The Boler House Mystery.
me. Yes, I know. I am not claiming that you
are at fault, nor they — the fortunate — the prince
and priest. I understand. Blind nature took her
course and trod beneath her cruel feet the mil-
lions who were born too weak to struggle with the
foes they found within themselves and in their
stronger brothers. I know, I know."
She lay back on the pillow and closed her eyes
wearily. Mr. Winkle drew near and stood behind
the doctor's chair, still keeping in the shadow, but
watching her pale face with an intensity born of a
simple nature easy to stir and quick to resolve.
The doctor touched her pulse with a light finger
and gravely nodded his head as he glanced at his
watch. Her heavy eyelids did not lift but her
voice broke the silence again. There was a ca-
dence in it that gave a solemn thrill to the three
men as they listened, the doctor watching with
professional interest the effect of the powder he
had given; the other two waited, expecting they
knew not what.
" The ignorance and cruelty of all the past, the
superstitious fears, the cunning prophecies, the
greeds and needs of men, joined hands and
marched triumphant. They did not halt to ask
the fallen what had borne them down. They did
not silence bugle blasts of joy where new-made
graves were thick. No silken flag was lowered to
warm to life the shivering forms of comrades over-
come and fallen by the way. The strong marched
on and called themselves the brave. Sometimes
The Boler House Mystery. 141
they were. But other times the bravest had gone
down, plucked at, perchance, by wife or child or
friend whose sorrow or distress reached out and
twined itself about the strong but tender heart
and held it back until the foot lost step, and in
the end the eye lost sight of those who only now
had kept him company."
She lifted her small white hand and pointed as
if to a distant battlefield, but her eyes remained
closed. The doctor glanced uneasily at his watch
and took her other wrist in his fingers again.
" The next battalion trampled him. The priest
bent low and whispered ' over there, hereafter,' and
slipped the treasure of the fallen hero beneath his
ample robe to swell the coffers of the church, since
dead men need no treasures."
iler voice was infinitely sad but she laughed a
little and opened her eyes. They fixed themselves
upon the silvered head of Mr. Winkle standing be-
hind the doctor's chair.
" Perhaps I shock you. I do not mean to, but
I have thought and thought these last few wretched
months, and looking at the battlefields of life
backward through all the ages, I thought I saw at
night, in camp, the priest and conqueror meet be-
side the campfire and council for the next day's
march. I thought I heard the monarch say, ' I go
before and cleave my way. You follow me and
gather up two things — the spoils I miss and all the
arrows of awakened scorn and wrath embedded
in the breasts of those of our own ranks who fall
142 The Boler House Mystery.
or are borne down, lest they arise and overtake us
while we sleep and venge themselves on us. Tell
them to wait. Their time will come. Tell them
/clear the way for them, andjjw forgive a hatred
which you see is growing up within their wicked
breasts. Quiet, soothe, and shame them into
peace. Assure them that hereafter they, not we,
shall have the better part. Gain time. Lay
blame to me if need be; but always counsel pa-
tience, waiting, acquiescence, peace, submission to
the will of God — your will and mine. Your task is
easy. No danger lies therein. I take the risk and
share with you the glory and the gain.' I heard
the priest disclaim all greed of gain and go to do
his part as loyal subject and as holy man. I saw
all this and more before I took the last resolve you
balked. You meant it kindly, doctor, yes, I know,
but I am very tired and what is there ahead for
me, or such as I, on battlefields like these ?"
No one ventured a reply. She closed her eyes
and waited. The doctor took another powder
from his case and held it above her lips. She
smiled and swallowed it.
"We take our powders very docilely," she said,
with a bitter little laugh as the wine-glass left her
hand and Mr. Boler's finger touched her own. He
noticed that hers was very cold.
" They used to make us sleep in the good old
days of priest and monarch, but our nerves are
wrong just now. Our powders only make us think
the more and have strange visions."
The Boler House Mystery. 143
Dr. Ralston glanced at Mr. Boler and nodded
his head mysteriously. The powder was begin-
ning to work, he thought, for she had reverted to
the old vision, and talked as if she were in a
dream. " That way it was, another way it is, and
still another will be," she was saying. " To-day
the honest poor, the hampered weak, are defeated,
dazed, and some of us are hopeless. Others there
are who cling to hope and life and brood on ven-
geance. That is your danger, gentlemen, for days
that are to come. You will have to change your
powders. The old prescriptions do not make us
sleep. We think, and think, and think. We strain
our nerves and break our hearts, for what ? A life
as cold and colorless and sad as death itself — to
some of us far sadder — and yet you will not even
let us die. Again we ask you, why ? There is no
place on earth for such as we, unless we will be
criminals. That is the hinge whereon the future
turns. How many will prefer the crime to want ?
What dangers lie behind the door that now is
swinging open ? Intelligence has taught us scorn
for such a grovelling lot, has multiplied our needs,
and turned the knife of suffering in quivering
wounds no longer deadened by the anaesthetics of
ignorant content with life or superstitious fear of
death. The door is swinging on the hinge. The
future has to face creatures the past has made like
demons. Some, like myself, behind the door, who
do not love mere life, will turn the sharpened dag-
ger on themselves. But there are others — "
144 2^ Bolcr House Mystery.
Her voice sank. The three men thought that
she had fallen asleep at last. The doctor drew a
long satisfied breath and consulted his watch for
the fourth time, making a mental note for future
use in giving the drug whose action he was watch-
ing. He started and frowned, therefore, when her
voice broke the silence again.
" Others there are, in spite of pain and anguish,
in spite of woe and fear, who cling to life — who
read in eyes they worship the pangs of hunger,
cold, and mental agony. Where will their ven-
geance go ? Who knows ?"
She opened her great eyes and looked first at
one and then at another, and repeated, " Who
Again there was no reply. After a long pause
Mr. Winkle said gently:
" There is a place in life for girls like you. I
shall charge myself with it. You shall find work
and joy yet, my child. Now go to sleep. Be
quiet. We have let you talk too long. Stop think-
ing sadly now. You think too much. You think
She closed her eyes quickly and there was a
tightening of the lips that left them paler than be-
fore. Then a tear rolled slowly down her temple.
Before it reached the pillow the doctor bent for-
ward and dried it softly with his silk handkerchief.
She opened her eyes wide at the touch. " ' Be
quiet?'" she repeated, " ' stop thinking ?' Oh, yes;
I will be quiet, but the rest, the others ? Those
The Bolcr House Mystery. 145
with whom you do not charge yourself, who find
no work, no joy ? Will they be quiet, will they
stop thinking? Oh, yes; I can be quiet, very
quiet, but the rest, the rest ? The others who
think too much — all, all?"
There was a wild look in her dry eyes. The
doctor touched her wrist again and said softly to
the men beside him, " It is working now. She
will sleep. But the shock of all her trouble has
left her mind unhinged, poor child. ' The rest ?
the others ?' We cannot care for all the countless
poor. Her brain is surely touched, poor child,
poor child. How can we tell whether the others
will stop thinking, or how, or when ? Her mind
was wandering, and now she sleeps, poor child.
Come out. She is best alone."
They closed the door gently behind them and
stood a moment in awkward silence outside, each
one afraid to speak and yet ashamed of his own
tender helplessness. At last Mr. Winkle looking
steadily in the crown of his hat, said huskily, "By
gad, boys, there is something rotten in the state
of Denmark." They all three laughed with an
effort, but kept their eyes averted.
"It is a rat in the wainscoting of the store-
room," said John Boler, with a desperate attempt
to regain his old manner and tone, " and I've got
to go and look after it or there'll be the devil to
pay with the Boler House." And he ran down
the stairs three steps at a time heartily ashamed of
his own remark, but determined not to allow the
146 The Boler House Mystery.
tears to show themselves either in his eyes or voice,
and feeling that his only safety was in flight.
But Mr. Winkle had not stood silently behind
the doctor's chair all that time for nothing, and if
his nature was somewhat light, and if he had taken
life so far as something of a jest, he was by no
means without a heart. He did not now trouble
himself very greatly about the tangled problems of
existence, but he felt quite equal to dealing with
any given case effectively and on short notice.
With systems he was helpless, with individuals he
could deal promply. Therefore he, in common
with the doctor and Mr. Boler, and, indeed, with
most of us, occupied himself with the girl he saw
suffering and in need.
When she had cried out, "But the rest, the oth-
ers, what of them ?" he had said nothing, because
he had nothing to say. He was vaguely aware
that when the smallpox broke out on one of Dr.
Ralston's patients that astute practitioner did not
essay to treat each individual pustule separately as
the whole of the disease and so devote his entire
skill and mind to each in turn until it was cured.
But then he could not undertake to cure the whole
human race of its various social ailments any more
than Dr. Ralston could hope to look after all of
its physical pains. So Mr. Winkle took this one
little social pustule upstairs as his particular charge,
and in his own peculiar way went about securing
better conditions for her, leaving the " others who
think too much " to somebody else, or to fate, as
The Boler House Mystery. 147
the case might be. Therefore, when Mr. Winkle
reached the street door and met an officer of the
law who had come prepared to learn the where-
abouts of the would-be suicide or else take Mr.
John Boler and Dr. Ralston into custody, the old
gentleman made up his mind to begin his part in
the future proceedings without further delay.
Unknown to Mr. Winkle himself, literature had
lost a great novelist when he had gone into the
mercantile business, and the surprises which he
now sprang upon the policeman were no less as-
tonishing and interesting to himself than they were
to that astute guardian of the public morals.
" Want to know where she is, do you ? Well,
don't worry Johnnie Boler any more. They've
already got him so his mind is a little affected.
I'll tell you all about that girl. Her name is Estelle
Morris. She worked for me for nine years as a
nursery governess. Last month my youngest child
died, and it upset Estelle so that she has been out of
her head ever since. I thought if I'd bring her to
the city maybe she might get over it, but she didn't,
and the doctor gave her some stuff and she took a
double dose by mistake, and all the row came from
that and the long tongues of the servants, pieced
out by the long pencils of the reporters. See!"
" Is that so ?" exclaimed the officer. " Where is
Mr. Winkle had not thought of that, and he did
not know exactly what to say; but he agreed to
produce her in court on the following day if so
148 The Boler House Mystery.
ordered, and there the matter dropped for the
That evening there appeared in a paper this
"want:" "A good-looking young woman who is
willing to lie like a pirate for the space of one hour
for the sum of $50. May have to go to court."
The number of handsome girls who were anxious
to lend the activity of their tongues for the pur-
pose named and the amount stipulated was quite
wonderful. One particularly bright young miss
remarked that she had been in training for just
that position for years. She was confidential cor-
respondent for a broker. Mr. Winkle accepted her
on the spot.
" Now," said he, " look solemn and sad. That
is right. You do it first rate. Whatever I tell
about you you are to stick to. Understand that?"
" Perfectly. Years of practice," she responded,
with entire simplicity and without a suspicion of
" Your name is Estelle Morris, and you have
been the governess of my children for nine years.
How old are you ?"
" Nineteen," said Estelle Morris demurely.
" Good gracious, girl, what could you teach at
ten years of age ? You've got to be older. Take
the curl out of your hair in front and put on a
bonnet with strings. I heard my niece say that
made her look ten years older. Mind you, you are
not a day under twenty-six. Not a day."
" All right," said Estelle Morris thoughtfully.
The Boler House Mystery. 149
" You are to look sick, too, and — "
" Oh, I can fix that easy enough. I'll — "
" Well, then fix it and come back here at exactly
two o'clock this afternoon."
At the appointed hour, Mr. Winkle met Miss
Estelle Morris and took her with great dignity and
care to the Boler House, where he was joined by
another gentleman — an officer of the law — and the
three started out together.
" The examination was strictly private in defer-
ence to the wishes of the parties first implicated,
John Boler and Dr. Ralston, and because it is now
believed that the girl is more sinned against than
sinning," wrote the reporter for the morning rival
of the Screamer. "It is the object of justice to
help the erring to start anew in life wherever that
line of action is consonant with the stern necessi-
ties of the blind goddess. Neither of the male
accomplices appeared in the case, but Mr. Silas
Winkle — whose name has figured somewhat con-
spicuously in the matter — produced the principal,
who, it must be confessed, is pretty enough to
account for all the chivalry which has been dis-
played in her behalf. She confessed to twenty-six
years of single wretchedness, although she could
easily pass for a year or two younger. It would
appear that she had lived in Mr. Winkle's family
for nine years as governess to his children and
came to the city with him about two weeks ago.
The justice accepted this explanation of the rela-
tions existing between them, and that there was no
1 50 The Boler House Mystery.
attempt at suicide at all, but only an accidental
overdose of a remedy prescribed by Dr. Ralston,
which explained satisfactorily the doctor's connec-
tion with the unsavory case, and places him once
more in the honorable position from which this un-
fortunate affair so nearly hurled him. In short, the
justice said in substance, ' not guilty, and don't do
it any more.' The young woman bowed modestly,
and Silas Winkle led her from the court-room a
sadder, and, let us hope, a wiser woman. Such as
she must have much to live for. Many a man has
braved death for a face less lovely than hers. This
ends the ' Boler House Mystery,' which, after all,
turns out to be only a tempest in a teapot, with a
respectable father of a family and his children's
governess for dramatis persona and a fresh young
reporter on a certain sensational morning contem-
porary as general misinformer of the public as usual."
This was headlined, " Exploded — Another Fake by
Our Esteemed Contemporary."
That night John Boler rubbed his eyes when he
read the report. " I thought you were a bachelor,
Mr. Winkle," said he, " and here you produce in
court a governess — "
" I am," said Mr. Winkle, laughing, and then he
showed his " want" advertisement. "That is the
whole case, Johnnie, my boy, but it is all over now.
Don't you worry ; it might go to your head again.
You saved the girl and I saved you, and it only cost
me $50. I'd pay that any time to get ahead of the
Screamer, and I rather think I salted that enterpris-
The Boler House Mystery. 1 5 1
ing sheet down this time, don't you ? But what is
to become of that girl?" added he, without waiting
for a reply to his first question. " You've taken
the liberty to save her life, which she had decided
she did not want under existing circumstances.
Has she simply got to go over the same thing again ?
I told her that I'd look after her, but I don't see
how in thunder I'm going to do it. She won't take
money from me and Fve got nothing for her to do.
Is there nothing ahead of her but a coffin or a
police court ?"
" For this individual girl, yes. Dr. Ralston has
already secured work for her; but for all the thou-
sands of her kind — " John Boler's voice trembled
a little and he stopped speaking to hide it. He in
common with most men was heartily ashamed of
his better nature.
"For all the thousands of her kind," broke in
Mr. Winkle, " there are just exactly three roads
open — starvation, suicide, or shame, with the courts,
the legislature, and the newspapers on the side of
the latter. I just tell you, Johnnie, it makes my
blood boil. I — I don't see any way out of it — none
at all. That is the worst of it."
" I do," said Mr. Boler.
" You do /" exclaimed Mr. Winkle excitedly, and
then looked hard at his old friend's son to see if he
had gone crazy again.
" Yes, I do. Those same newspapers you are so
down on will do it. They're bound to. The boys
go wrong sometimes, as they did in this case ; but
152 The Boler House Mystery.
that only makes sensible people indignant, and,
after all, it called attention to the law that makes
such things possible. More light on the laws.
That's the first thing we want, and no matter
which side of a question the papers take, we are
bound to get that in the long run. Silence is the
worst danger. We get pretty mad at the boys if
they write what we don't like, but that isn't half so
dangerous as if they didn't write at all. See ?"
Mr. Winkle turned slowly away and shook his
head as he murmured to himslf : " Who would have
believed that old John Boler would have been the
father of a lunatic ? Dear me, dear me. I'm going
back to Meadville before I get touched in the head
myself." And he started to his room to pack his
valise. John Boler followed him to the elevator.
" I don't blame you for feeling pretty mad about
all the stuff they put in the Screamer about you ;
but — oh, the boys mean all right — "
" So does the devil," broke in the old man. But
Mr. Boler gave no evidence of noticing the inter-
ruption nor of observing the irascibility of his
" The trouble is with the system," he went on,
entering the elevator after Mr. Winkle. " Why,
just look at it, man. What I say or do, if it is of a
public nature, I'm responsible for to the public.
What you write you put your name to; but it's
a pretty big temptation to a young fellow who
knows he has got the swing in a newspaper and
doesn't have to sign his name to what he says, to
The Boler House Mystery. 153
make an effort to 'scoop' his rivals at whatever cost.
The boys don't mean any harm, but irresponsible
power is a mighty dangerous weapon to handle.
Not many older men can be trusted to use it wisely.
Then why should we expect it of those young
fellows who don't know yet any of the deeper
meanings of life ? Great Scott, man ! / think they
do pretty well under the circumstances. I'm afraid
I'd do worse."
Mr. Winkle stroked his chin reflectively.
" No doubt, no doubt," he said abstractedly, as
they stepped out of the elevator.
John Boler looked at him for a brief space
of time to see if he had intended the thrust
and then went on:
" That girl's life or death just meant an item to
the boys, and it didn't mean much more to you
or me until — until we stood and heard her talk
and saw her suffer, and were made personally un-
comfortable by it. Yet we are old enough to know
all about it for her and others. We do know it, and
go right along as if we didn't. We are a pretty bad
lot, don't you think so ?"
Silas Winkle unlocked his door before he spoke.
Then he turned to his old friend's son and shook
his hand warmly.
" Good-bye," he said, looking at him steadily.
" Good-bye, Johnnie. I see it only comes on you
at odd spells. Come up to Meadville for a while
and I think you will get over it altogether. Your
father was the clearest-headed man I ever saw and
154 The Boler House Mystery.
you seem to have lucid intervals. Those last
remarks of yours were worthy of your father, my
boy," and the old man patted him softly on the
John Boler whistled all the way downstairs.
Then he laughed.
" I wonder if old Winkle really does think I am
off my base," said he, as he took down his hat.
" I suppose we are all more or less crazy. He
thinks I am and I know he is. It is a crazy world.
Only lunatics could plan or conduct it on its present
lines." And he laughed again and then sighed and
passed out into the human stream on Broadway.
XTbe Ufme Xocfe of ©ut ancestors.
" Visiting the iniquity of the fathers tifon the children unto the
third and fourth generation.' 1 ' 1 — BIBLE.
THE TIME LOCK OF OUR ANCESTORS.
" Don't be so hard on yourself, Nellie. I am sure
it can be no great wrong you have done. Girls like
you are too apt to be morbid. No doubt we all do
it, whatever it is. I'm sure I shall not blame you
when you tell me. Perhaps I shall say you are
quite right — that is, if there is any right and wrong
to it, and provided I know which is which, after I
hear the whole story — as most likely I shall not.
And here the elder woman smiled a little satiri-
cally, and looked out of the window with a far-away
gaze, as if she were retravelling through vast spaces
of time and experience far beyond anything her
friend could comprehend.
The evening shadows had gathered, and cast, as
they will, a spell of gravity and exchange of confi-
dences over the two.
Presently the older woman began speaking again:
" Do you know, Nell, I was always a little sur-
prised that Lord Byron, of all people, should have
put it that way:
" I know the right, and I approve it too ;
Condemn the wrong — and yet the wrong pursue.
" * The right ' — why, it is like a woman to say
158 The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
that. As if there were but one ' right,' and it were
dressed in purple and fine linen, and seated on a
throne in sight of the assembled multitude ! ' The
right,' indeed ! Yes, it sounds like a woman — and
a very young woman at that, Nellie."
The girl looked with large, troubled, passionate
eyes at her friend, and then broke out into hot, in-
dignant words — words that would have offended
many a woman; but Florence Campbell only
laughed, a light, queer little peal; tipped her chair
a trifle farther back, put her daintily slippered feet
on the satin cushion of the low window-seat, and
looked at her friend, through the gathering dark-
ness, from under half-closed eyelids.
Presently — this woman was always deliberate in
her conversation; long silences were a part of her
power in interesting and keeping the full attention
of her listeners — presently she said:
"Of course you think so. Why shouldn't you?
So did I — once. And do you know, Nellie, that
sort of sentiment dies hard — very hard — in a woman.
At your age — " Florence Campbell always spoke as
if she were very old, although to look at her one
would say that she was not twenty-eight.
These delicately formed Dresden-china women
often carry their age with such an easy grace — it
sits upon them so lightly — in spite of ill-health,
mental storms, and moral defeats, that while their
more robust sisters grow haggard and worn, and
hard of feature and tone, under weights less terri-
ble and with feelings less intense, they keep their
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 159
grace and gentleness of tone in the teeth of every
" At your age, dear, I would have scorned a
woman who talked as I do now; and more than
that, I would have suspected her, as you do not sus-
pect me, of being a very dangerous and not unlikely
a very bad person indeed — simply from choice.
While you — you generous little soul — think that I
am better than I talk."
She laughed again, and shifted her position as if
she were not wholly comfortable under the troubled
gaze of the great eyes she knew were fastened upon
" You think I am better than my opinions. I
know exactly what you tell yourself about me when
you are having it out with yourself upstairs. Oh, I
know ! You excuse me for saying this on the
theory that it was not deliberate — was an oversight.
You account for that by the belief that I am not
well — my nerves are shaken. You are perfectly
certain that 7" am all right, no matter what I do, or
say, or think." She took her little friend's soft
hand as it twisted nervously a ribbon in her lap,
and held the back of it against her cheek, as she
often did. " But just suppose it were some one
else — some other woman, Nellie, you would suspect
her (no doubt quite unfairly) of all the crimes in
the statute-books. Oh, I know, I know, child ! I
did — at your age — and, sad to relate, / had no
Florence Campbell to soften my judgments on even
one of my sex."
160 The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
She had grown serious as she talked, and her
voice almost trembled. The instant she recognized
this herself, she laughed again, and said gayly:
" Oh, I was a very severe judge — once — I do as-
sure you, though you may not think so now." She
dropped her voice to a tone of mocking solemnity,
not uncommon with her, and added: " If you won't
tell on me, I'll make a little confession to you,
dear;" and she took both of the girl's hands firmly
in her own and waited until the promise was given.
"I wouldn't have it get out for the world, but
the fact is, Nell, I sometimes strongly suspect that,
at your age, I was — a most unmitigated, self-right-
eous little prig."
Nellie's hands gave a disappointed little jerk: but
her friend held them firmly, laughed gayly at her
discomfiture — for she recognized fully that the girl
was attuned to tragedy — buried her face in them
for an instant, and then deliberately kissed in turn
each pink little palm — not omitting her own.
Then she dropped those of her friend, and leaned
back against her cushions and sighed.
Nellie was puzzled and annoyed. She was on
the verge of tears.
"Florence, darling," she said presently, "if I did
not know you to be the best woman in the world,
I shouldn't know what to make of your dark hints,
and of — and of you. You are always a riddle to
me — a beautiful riddle, with a good answer, if only
I could guess it. You talk like a fiend, sometimes,
and you act like — an angel, always."
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 161
" Give me up. You can't guess me. Fact is, I
haven't got any answer," laughed Florence.
But the girl went steadily on without seeming to
hear her: " Do you know, there are times when I
wonder if it would be possible to be insane and
vicious, mentally and verbally, as it were, and per-
fectly sane and exaltedly good morally."
Florence Campbell threw herself back on her
cushions and laughed gayly, albeit a trifle hysteri-
cally. " Photograph taken by an experienced ar-
tist !" she exclaimed. " You've hit me ! Oh,
you've hit me, Nell." Then sitting suddenly bolt-
upright, she looked the girl searchingly in the face,
and said slowly: " Do you know, Nellie, that I am
sometimes tempted to tell the truth ? About my-
self, I mean — and to you. Never on any other
subject, nor to anybody else, of course," she added
dryly, in comedy tones, strangely contrasting with
the almost tragic accents as she went on. " But I
can't. ' The truth !' Why, it is like the right; I'm sure
I don't know what it is; and it has been so long —
oh, so cruelly long — since I told it, by word or
action, that I have lost its very likeness from my
mind. I have told lies and acted lies so long — "
Her friend's eyes grew indignant and she began to
protest, but Florence ran on: "I have evaded facts
— not only to others, but to myself, until — rntil I'd
have to swear out a search-warrant and have it served
on my mental belongings to find out myself what I
do think or feel or want on any given subject."
It was characteristic of the woman to use this
1 62 The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
flippant method of expression, even in her most
" I change so, Nell; sometimes suddenly — all in
There was a long silence. Then she began again,
"There is a theory, you know, that we inherit
traits and conditions from our remote ancestors as
well as from our immediate ones. I sometimes
fancy that they descend to some people with a
Time Lock attachment. A child is born " — she
held out her hands as if a baby lay on them — " he
is like his mother, we will say, gentle, sweet, kind,
truthful, for years — let us say seven. Suddenly the
Time Lock turns, and the traits of his father
(modified, of course, by the acquired habits of seven
years) show themselves strongly — take possession,
in fact. Another seven years, and the priggishness
of a great-uncle, the stinginess of an aunt, or the
dullness, in books, of a rural grandfather. Then,
in keeping with the next two turns of the Lock, he
falls in love with every new face he sees, marries
early and indulges himself recklessly in a large
family. He is an exemplary husband and father,
as men go, an ideal business man, and a general
favorite in society."
She was running on now as if her words had the
whip-hand of her.
" Everybody remarks upon the favorable change
since his stupid, priggish college days. All this
time, through every change, he has been honorable
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 163
and upright in his dealings with his fellows. Sud-
denly the Time Lock of a Thievish Ancestor is
turned on; he finds temptation too strong for even
that greatly under-estimated power — the force of
habit of a lifetime — and the trust funds in his keep-
ing disappear with him to Canada. Everybody is
surprised, shocked, pained — and he, no doubt, more
so than anyone else. Emotional insanity is offered
as a possible explanation by the charitable ; long-
headed, calculating, intentional rascality, by the
severe or self-righteous. And he ? Well, he is
wholly unable to account for it at all. He knows
that he had not lived all these years as a conscious,
self-controlled thief. He knows that the tempta-
tions of his past life had never before taken that
particular form. He knows that the impulse was
sudden, blinding, overwhelming; but he does not
know why and how. It was like an awful dream.
He seemed to be powerless to overcome it. The
Time Lock had turned without his knowledge, and
in spite of himself. The unknown, unheard-of
Thievish Ancestor took possession, as it were,
through force of superior strength and ability — and
then it was his hour. The hereditary shadow on
the dial had come around to him. The great-
uncle's hour was past. He, no doubt, was ' turned
on ' to some other dazed automaton — in Maine or
Texas — who had fallen heir to a drop too much of
his blood, and she, poor thing, if it happened to be
a girl this time, forthwith proceeded to fall in love
with her friend's husband — seeing he was the only
164 The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
man at hand at the time; while the Thievish An-
cestor left — in shame and contrition — a small but
light-fingered boy in Georgia, to keep his engage-
ment with our respectable, highly honored, and
heretofore highly honorable man of affairs in Wall
street. The Time Lock of heredity had been set
for this hour, and the machinery of circumstances
oiled the wheels and silently moved the dial."
There was absolute silence when Florence Camp-
bell's voice ceased. The heavy curtains made the
shadows in the struggling moonlight deep and sol-
emn. Two great eyes looked out into the darkness
and a shudder passed over her frame. She thought
her little friend had fallen asleep, she lay so still
and quiet on the rug at her feet. Florence sighed,
and thought how quickly youth forgot its troubles
and how lightly Care sat on her throne. Then sud-
denly a passionate sobbing broke the silence, and
two arms, covered with lace and jewels, flung them-
selves around the older woman's knees.
" O my God ! Florence; O my God ! is there no
way to stop the wheels ? Must they go blindly on ?
Can we never know who or what we shall be to-mor-
row ? It is awful, Florence, awful ; and — it — is
true ! O God ! it is true /"
Florence Campbell had been very serious when
she stopped her little harangue. There had been a
quality in her voice which, while it was not wholly
new to her friend, would have been unknown to
many who thought they knew her well. To them
she was a beautiful, fashionable, rather light woman,
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 165
with a gay nature, who either did not know, or did
not care to investigate too closely, the career of her
husband, to whom she was devotedly attached.
She had been quite serious, I say, when she
stopped her little philosophical speculation; but she
was greatly surprised at the storm she had raised in
the breast of her little friend.
Florence bent down quickly, and putting her
arms about the girl tried to raise her up; but she
only sobbed the harder, and clung to her friend's
knees as a desperate, frightened creature might
cling to its only refuge.
"Why, Nellie, little kitten," said the older
woman, using a term of endearment common with
her in talking with the girl — " why, Nellie, little
kitten, what in the world is the matter ? Did I
scare the life out of you with my Time Locks and
my gruesome ancestors?" and she tried to laugh a
little; but the sound of her voice was not altogether
pleasant to the ear. " I'll ring for a light. I had
no business to talk such stuff to you when you were
blue and in the dark too. I guess, Nell, that the
Time Lock of my remote ancestor, who was a fool,
must have been turned on me shortly after sundown
to-day, don't you think ? " And this time her laugh
lacked the note of bitterness it had held before.
She ran on, still caressing the weeping girl at her
"Yes, undoubtedly, my Remote Ancestor — the
fool — has now moved in. Do you think you can
stand seven years of him, kitten, if you live with me
1 66 The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
that long ? But you won't. You'll go and marry
some horrid man, and I shall be so jealous that my
hair will curl at sight of him."
But the girl would not laugh. She refused to be
cheered, nor would she have a light. She raised
herself until her head rested on her friend's bosom,
and clung to her, sobbing as if her heart would
break. Florence stroked her hair and sat silent for
a while, wondering just what had so shaken the
child. She knew full well that it was not what she
had hinted of the darkness and her gruesome story.
Presently Nellie drew her friend's face down, and
whispered between her sobs:
" Darling, I must have had some dreadful ancestor,
a wicked — wicked woman. I — "
Florence Campbell shrieked with laughter. She
felt relieved of — she did not know what. She had
blamed herself for even unconsciously touching the
secret spring of sorrow in the girl's heart. It was a
strange sight, the two women clinging to each other,
the one sobbing, the other laughing, each trying in
vain to check the other.
At last Nellie said, still almost in a whisper: " But,
Florence, you do not know. You do not under-
stand. You are too good to know. It is you who
will scorn and hate me when I tell you. O
Florence, Florence, I can never dare to tell you !"
Her friend, still laughing, made little ejaculations
of satirical import as the girl grew more and more
" thou wicked wretch !" laughed she. " No
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 167
doubt you've killed your man, as they say out
West. Oh, dear — oh, dear ! Nell, this is really
quite delicious ! Did it step on a bug ? Or was it
a great big spider ? And does it think it ought to
be hanged for the crime ? A peal of laughter from
the one, a shudder from the other, was the only re-
ply to these efforts to break the force of the girl's
self-reproach. Florence clinched her small fist in
mock heroics and began again:
" Your crimes have found you out ! And mine —
mine — has been the avenging hand ! Really, this
is too good, kitten. I shall tell, let me see — I shall
The girl was on her feet in a flash.
" Not that ! not that, Florence ! Anything but
that ! I will tell you myself first — he shall not ?"
Florence grew suddenly silent and grave. The
girl slipped down at her knees again, and clasping
her hand, went hoarsely on:
" O Florence, darling, I did not mean to wrong
you ! Truly, truly, I did not — and I do not believe
he did— not at — first-. We — oh, it was — " she
sank on the floor, at the feet of her astonished
friend, and with upstretched arms in the darkness
whispered: "Florence, Florence — O my God! I
cannot tell you ! I must go away ! / must go away .'"
The older woman did not touch the outstretched
hands and they sank to the floor, and on them
rested a tear-stained, wretched face.
A moment later Tom Campbell entered the room.
To eyes unaccustomed to the darkness nothing
1 68 The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
was visible. He did not see his wife, who arose
as he entered, and stood with bated breath over
the form of the girl on the floor.
" By Jove ! " he muttered, " this room is as dark
as Egypt, and then some — Wonder where Florence
is. Those damned servants ought to be shot !
Whole house like a confounded coal-pit ! Didn't
expect me for hours yet, I suppose ! That's no
reason for living like a lot of damned bats ! 'Fraid
of musquitoes, I suppose. Where are those matches ?
Florence ! She's evidently gone out — or to bed.
Wonder where her little ' kitten' is ? Umm — wonder
how much longer Florence means to keep her here ?
Don't see how the thing's going to go on much
longer this way, with a girl with a conscience like
that. Perfectly abnormal ! Perfectly ridiculous !
Umm — no more tact than — "
Nellie moaned aloud. Florence had held her
breath, hoping he would go. He had almost
reached the door leading to the hall, after his vain
search for matches.
" Hello ! what was that ? " said Campbell, turn-
ing again into the room.
His wife knew that escape was not now possible.
" Nothing, Tom," she said, in a voice that trembled
a little. " Go upstairs. I will come up soon."
" Why, hello, Florence, that you ? What are you
sitting here in the dark for, all alone ? Why didn't
you speak to me when I came in ? What did you
Nellie sat up, and in doing so overturned a chair.
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 169
Tom's eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness.
He saw the two women outlined before him, and
he saw that Nellie had been on the floor, and that
his wife stood over her.
" What's the matter ?" he demanded. " What's
He came toward them. Nellie sprang to her
feet, with flashing eyes and outstretched, imploring
hands to wave him back. She was about to rush
into a painful explanation. Florence stepped to-
ward her, put both arms about her, and drew her
onto the cushioned window-seat at their side. She
knew she must cover the girl's agitation from her
husband, and somehow gain time to think.
" Sit down, dear," she said softly. " Sit down
here by me. You have been asleep. He frightened
you coming in so suddenly. You have been dream-
ing ; you talked in your sleep— but it was all non-
sense — about an ancestor, whom you blamed very
The girl began to speak impulsively, but Florence
" Yes, I know. You told me. It was all the
greatest stuff. But the part that was true— I doubt
if she was to blame. I think, from all I know of —
of her, and of the gentleman you mentioned, the
one she— seemed to care for— that — oh, no, kitten!
I am sure she was not to blame."
Nellie was trembling violently, clinging to her
friend in shame and remorse. Tom stood perfectly
quiet in the deeper darkness, back from the window,
\yo The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
with a smile on his cheerful face and a puzzled
light in his handsome eyes.
" Go upstairs, Tom," said Florence again, this
time in a steadier tone. " Nellie's head aches; you
waked her up too suddenly. We don't want more
light — do we, Nellie ? Not just now. We have quite
light enough for the present. I assure you we are
better off just now in the dark. You would think
so yourself if you could see us as we see ourselves.
We are quite battered and out at elbow, I assure
you, and not at all fit for fastidious masculine eyes."
She was pulling herself up well. " To-morrow
we will spruce up our bangs, put on fresh gowns,
and not know ourselves for the wretches we are to-
night. Until then, Sir Knight, no masculine eye
shall rest upon our dilapidation. Go ! "
Tom Campbell had seen his wife in this mood
before. He went.
All the way upstairs he wondered what had hap-
pened. " Never could make women out anyway,"
he muttered; "least of all, Florence. Women are
a queer lot. More you live with 'em, more you don't
know what they'll do next. Wonder what in
thunder's up. ' Kitten' never said a word; but I'm
damned if I did't hear her groan! Guess the little
goose feels kind of — queer — with me and the old
lady both present. Wonder — whew! — wonder how
much I said aloud, and how much they heard when
I first went in! Confounded habit, talking aloud
to myself ! Got to stop it, old boy; must be done
■ — get you into trouble yet !"
The Time Lock of Our A ncestors. 1 7 1
Then he turned off the gas, and was sleeping as
peacefully as an infant before the two women be-
low stairs had parted for the night.
When Tom left the room, Nellie began to sob
again, and Florence stroked her hair with her icy
hands and waited for the girl to speak — or grow
calm. And for herself — she hardly knew what she
waited for in herself; but she felt that she needed
After a long silence she said, quite gently;
" Nellie, little girl, we will go upstairs now; you
will go to bed. If you ever feel like it, after you
take time to think it over, and your nerves are quiet
—if you ever feel like it, you may tell just what
trick your troublesome ancestor has tried to play
you; but I want to say now, dear, don't feel that
you must tell me, nor that I do not know perfectly
well that my little kitten is all right, ancestors or
no ancestors, and that we, together can somehow
find the combination to that Time Lock that so
distresses you, and turn it off again. Meantime,
little girl no one shall harm you. You shall be let
alone; you are all right! Be sure of that. I am.
Now, good-night ;" and she kissed the still sobbing
girl on the forehead and hands, in spite, of her
protests and self-accusations.
Suddenly Nellie sank on her knees again, and
grasped Florence's dress as she had turned to go:
" O Florence ! O Florence ! are you human ?
How can you ? You are not like other women! O
my God! if I could only be like you; but you
172 The Tune Lock of Our Ancestors.
frighten me! You are so calm. How cold your
hands are! oh — "
" Are they ? I did not notice. Oh well, no mat-
ter; it is an old trick of theirs, you know."
Florence Campbell's voice was very steady now.
Her words were slow and deliberate — they sounded
as if she was very tired; and her step, as she climbed
the stairs, had lost its spring and lightness.
The next morning Nellie's breakfast was carried
to her room, with a message from Florence not to
get up until she came to her at their usual hour for
About noon, as the girl lay thinking for the hun-
dredth time that she must get up and face life again
— that she must somehow stop this blinding head-
ache, and go away — that she must die — Florence
swept into the room, trailing her soft, long
gown behind her, and gently closed the door. She
had put on a gay pink tea-gown, with masses of
white lace and smart little bows in unexpected
" Feel better, dear ?" she asked, gayly. " Griggs
told me your head ached, and that you had not slept
well. I confess I did not either — not very. Tom
and I talked rather late; you know he sails for Liv-
erpool at noon. Sure enough, you didn't know.
Well, no matter. The vessel is just about sailing
now. Yes, it is rather sudden. We talked so much
of it last night that it seems quite an old story to
me to-day, though. You know he was to go in two
weeks, anyway. It seemed best to go earlier, so I
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 173
helped him pack, and saw him to the steamer two
hours ago. You know a man doesn't have to take
anything but a tooth-brush and a smoking-cap. We
thought it would be best for his health to go at once.
Tom has not seemed quite himself of late." She
did not look at her friend as she talked and her
white face was turned from the light. She talked
so fast, it seemed as if she had rehearsed and was
repeating a part with a desire to have it over as soon
as might be. " His Travelling Ancestor, the one who
wants change — change — change in all things, has
had hold of him of late. I'm sure you have noticed
how restless he was."
The girl sat up and listened with wide eyes and
flushed cheeks. She had known many unexpected
and unexplained things to be done in the house of
this friend, who had given her a home and a warm
welcome a year before, when she had left school,
an orphan and homeless. But this sudden depart-
ure she had not heard even mentioned before.
She thought she understood it.
" O Florence ! Florence ! " she cried, passionately.
" It is my fault! I have separated you! I have
brought sorrow to you ! You, who are so good, so
good; and I — oh, how can you be so kind to me ?
Hate me ! Hate me ! Thrust me from your house,
and tell the world I tried to steal your husband !
Tell that I am vile' and wicked ! Tell — and now
I have sent him away from you, who love him —
whom he loves ! Why do you not blame me ?
Why do you never blame anyone ? Why — "
174 The Time Lock of Our Ancestors.
There was a pause ; the girl sobbed bitterly,
while the older woman seemed afraid to trust her
voice. After a while in a tired, solemn tone, Nellie
went on :
" Do you think you can believe a word I say,
Florence ? Is there any use for me to tell you the
Her friend nodded slowly, looking her steadily in
the eyes. Her lips were tightly drawn together,
and her hands were cold and trembling.
" Then, Florence, I will tell you, truly — truly —
truly, as I hope for — " She was going to say
"your forgivness," but it seemed too cruel to ask
for that just now. " I did not understand, not at
first, either him or myself. I thought he was like
you" — she felt Florence shudder — " and loved me,
as he said, as you did. I was so glad and proud,
until — until — O Florence ! how can I tell you that
I let him beg me to go away with him ! After I
understood what he meant, my heart did leap, even
in its utter self-abasement and wretchedness. I
let him beg me twice, and kiss me, after I under-
stood ! It must have been my fault ; he said it was"
— Florence took her friend's hand in hers — " and
he said that no one else had ever taken his thoughts
away from you."
The girl thought she saw the drawn lips before
her curl ; but she must free her whole heart now,
and lay bare her very soul.
" He said that he had always been true to you,
Florence, even in thought, until I — O Florence !
The Time Lock of Our Ancestors. 175
I must be worse than anyone one earth. I — he
Florence Campbell sprang to her feet. " Yes, I
know, I know !" she exclaimed, breathlessly, "and
you believed him ! Poor little fool ! Women do.
Sometimes a second time, but not a third time, dear
— not a third time ! Do not blame yourself any
more." She stopped, then hurried on as one will
do when danger threatens from within. " If it had
not been you, it would, it might — my God ! it might
have been worse ! Some poor girl — "
She stopped again as if choking. The two women
looked at each other ; the younger one gave a long,
shuddering moan, and buried her face in her hands.
Presently Florence said slowly: " All ancestors
were not thieves. Some were simply fickle, and
light, and faithless."
Nellie raised a face full of passionate suffering:
" Florence ! Florence ! how can you excuse either
of us ? How can — "
Suddenly, with a great sob, Florence Campbell
threw herself into the girl's outstretched arms, and
with a wail of utter desolation cried: " Hush, Nellie,
hush ! Never speak of it again, never ! Only lore
me, love me — lore me ! I need it so ! And no one
— no one in all the world has ever loved me truly !"
It was the only time Nellie ever saw Florence
Campbell lose her self-control.
Florence Campbell's jfate.
" ' Tis the good reader that makes the good book ; a good head
cannot read amiss; in every book he finds passages which seem
confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant
for his ear. ..."
" Every man has a history worth knowing, if he could tell it, or
if we could draw it from him.'''' — Ralph Waldo Emerson.
FLORENCE CAMPBELL'S FATE.
I was sitting in my office, with my head in my
hands, and with both elbows resting on my desk.
I was tired in every nerve of my body; more than
that, I was greatly puzzled over the strange con-
duct of my predecessor in the college, whose assist-
ant I had been, and whose place I was appointed
to fill during the unexpired term for which he had
been elected lecturer on anatomy.
That morning he was to introduce me to the
class formally as his successor, deliver his last
lecture, and then retire from active connection
with anatomical instruction.
Everything appeared to be perfectly arranged,
and, indeed, some of the younger men — under my
direction — had taken special pains to provide our
outgoing and much admired professor with rather
unusual facilities for a brilliant close to his career
as our instructor.
I was feeling particularly pleased with the ar-
rangements, when, after a neat little speech on his
part, commendatory of me, and when we supposed
him to be about to begin his lecture, he suddenly
turned to me and said, bluntly: "You will be so
good as to take the class to-day. Young gentle-
l8o Florence Campbells Fate.
men, I bid you good morning," and abruptly took
up his hat and left. I sat facing an expectant
and surprised class of shrewd young fellows, and I
was quite unprepared to proceed.
I had intended my first lecture to be a great suc-
cess. It was ready for the following day; but my
notes were at home, and my position can, there-
fore, be better imagined than described.
I was thinking over this and the strange behavior
of my generally punctilious predecessor, when he
entered my office, unannounced, and, after the or-
dinary salutations and apologies for having placed
me in so undesirable a position in the morning, he
told me the following episode from his history.
I will give it in his own words, omitting, as far as
possible, all comment made by me at the time, thus
endeavoring to leave you alone with him and his
story, as I was that night. This will better enable
me to impart the effect to you as it was conveyed
to me at the time. It greatly interested me then,
but the more I think it over, the less am I able to
decide, in my own mind, all of the psychological
questions which it aroused then and which it has
since called up. This is the story.
I am, as you know, not a young man, and in the
practice of my profession, which has extended over
a period of nearly thirty years, I have learned to
Florence Campbell's Fate. 1 8 1
diagnose the cases that come under my care very
slowly and by degrees. Every year has taught me,
what you will undoubtedly learn — for I have great
hopes for your future career — that physical symp-
toms are often the results of mental ailments, and
that, while cordials and powders are sometimes
very useful aids, the first and all-important thing is
to understand fully the true history of my patient.
I have laid stress upon the word true, simply
because while a history is easy enough to get, about
the most difficult matter in this world to secure is
the history of one who comes to a physician ailing
in body or in mind. It is easy enough to treat a
broken leg, a gunshot wound, or even that ghastli-
est of physical foes, diphtheria, if it is one of these
and nothing more.
But if it is a broken leg as to outward sign, and
a broken heart as an inward fact, then the case is
quite another matter, and the treatment involves
skill of a different kind.
If the bullet that tore its way through the body
was poisoned with the bitterness of disappointment,
anxiety, terror, or remorse, something more is
needed than bandages and beef-tea.
If diphtheria was contracted solely from a de-
fective sewage-pipe, it will, no doubt, yield to reme-
dies and pure air. But if long years of nervous
and mental prostration have made ready its recep-
tion, the work to be done is of a much more seri-
So when I was first called to see Florence Camp-
1 82 Florence Campbells Fate.
bell, the message conveyed to me threw no light
on the case, beyond what the most ordinary ob-
server would have detected at a glance.
The note read thus:
" Dr. H. Hamilton.
"Dear Sir: Although I have been in your city
for several months, it is the first time since I came
that I have myself felt that I needed medical at-
tention. I have, therefore, not sent you the en-
closed note (the history of which you no doubt
know) until now. If you will read it, it will ex-
plain that the time has now come when, if you will
come to me, I need your care.
" Yours respectfully,
" Parlor 13, F Ave. Hotel."
The note enclosed was from a physician in Chi-
cago whom I had known intimately many years be-
fore, but with whom, contrary to the hint given by
the lady, I had held no communication for a long
time past. It said :
" My Dear Doctor: One of my patients is
about to visit your city. The length of her stay is
uncertain, and, as she is often ailing, she has asked
me to give her a note to one whom I believe to
be skilful and to possess the qualities which she
requires in a physician. In thinking over the list
of those known to me in New York, I have decided
to give her this note to you. I need not commend
her to you ; she will do that for herself. You will
Florence Campbells Fate. 183
see at a glance that she is a charming woman, and
you will learn in five minutes' conversation with
her, that she is a brilliant one. She is also one of
those rare patients to whom you can afford to tell
the unvarnished truth — an old hobby of yours, I
remember — and from whom you can expect it.
She has had no serious illness recently, but is
rather subject to slight colds and sick headache.
I give her sulph. 12. She always responds to that
"Yours, as ever,
" Thomas C. Griswold."
I folded the note and laid it on my desk and
took up a pen. Then, on second thought, I turned
to the messenger and said, " Say to Miss Campbell
that I will call at four o'clock this afternoon."
Before I had finished the sentence he was gone,
and I laid down the pen and sat thinking.
How like Tom Griswold that was — the old Tom
of college days — to write such a note as that and
give it to a patient! "Sulph. 12" — and then I
laughed outright at his interpretation of my desire
for veracious relations between patient and practi-
tioner, and re-read his note from end to end.
Then I read hers again. Neither of them indi-
cated the slightest need of haste on my part.
I pictured a pretty little blonde — I knew Tom's
taste. He had been betrothed to three different
girls during the old days, and they had all been of
that type; small, blue-eyed, Dresden-china sort of
184 Florence Campbell's Fate.
girls, who had each pouted — and married someone
else in due time, after a "misunderstanding" with
One of these misunderstandings had been over
some roses, I remember. They did not "match"
her dress in color, and she was wretched. She
told him he should have known better than to get
that shade, when he knew very well that she never
wore anything that would "go with" it.
He had naturally felt a little hurt, since he had
bought the finest and highest-priced roses to be
had, and expected ecstatic praise of his taste and
extravagance. The " misunderstanding" was final,
and, after a wretched evening and several days of
tragic grief, five tinted notes of sorrow, reproach,
and pride, they each began to flirt with some one
else and to talk of the inconstancy of the other sex.
They vowed, of course, that they would never
marry anybody on earth, and finally engaged them-
selves to marry some one else, who perhaps,
had just passed through a similar harrowing ex-
perience and was yearning to be consoled.
I remember that Tom smoked a great deal dur-
ing this tragic period, that he looked gloomy, wore
only black neckties, and allowed a cold to run on
until it became thoroughly settled and had to be
nursed all the rest of the winter.
He knew that smoking injured him, and he
doubtless had an idea that he would end his misery
by means of this cold, supplemented by nicotine
poison. How near he might have approached to
Florence Campbell s Fate. 185
success it would be difficult to tell, if he had not
met my sister Nellie at Christmas-time, and, after
having told his woes to her, promised her, " as a
friend," not to smoke again for three days and then
to report to her. The report was satisfactory, and
she then confessed that she had forsworn bonbons
for the same length of time, as a sort of companion-
ship in sacrifice.
This, of course, impressed Tom as a truly re-
markable test of friendship and sympathy, and,
— well, what is the use to tell the rest ?
You will know it. It had no new features, so
far as I can now recall, and I believe that they had
been betrothed six months before Nellie met grave
old Professor Menlo and began the study of Greek
roots and mythology.
I think that, perhaps, Tom would have been all
right if it had not been for the mythology. But
Nellie was romantic, and the professor was an en-
thusiast in this branch of knowledge, and so, by
and by, Tom, poor devil, took to smoking again —
this time it was a pipe — and local papers were filled
with notices of the romantic marriage of " Wisdom
and Beauty," and poor little Nellie wrote a pathetic
note to Tom, and sent it by me, with frantic direc-
tions not to allow him to kill himself because she
had not understood her own heart; but that she
loved him truly — as a friend — still, and he must
come to see her and her professor in their new
home on the hill. And, dear, dear, what a time I
had with Tom! It is funny enough now; but even
1 86 Florence Campbells Fate.
I felt sorry for him then, and shielded him from
the least unnecessary pain by telling the boys that
they absolutely must not congratulate me on my
sister's marriage, nor mention it in any way what-
ever, when Tom was present, unless they wanted
to have trouble with me personally.
And to think that Tom married Kittie Johnson
before he had fairly finished his first year in the
hospital service; and had to take her home for his
father to support ! Since then I had seen him
from time to time, and heard of his large practice,
his numerous children, and his elegant home ; but
he never talked of his wife, although I believed
him to be perfectly satisfied with her. He seemed
content, was prosperous beyond expectation, and
had grown fat and gouty, when I last saw him at a
medical convention. He attributed his too great
flesh and his gout to the climate of his Western
home, and was constantly threatening to retire
from practice, and said that he should ultimately
come to New York to live.
Yes, undoubtedly Florence Campbell is a petite
blonde, with little white teeth and a roseleaf cheek,
thought I, and I laughed, and rang for my carriage.
I do not know that I ever entered a more deli-
cately perfumed room — and I am very sensitive to
perfumes — than the one in which Florence Camp-
Florence Campbells Fate. 1 87
She arose from her deep arm-chair as 1 entered,
and, extending her hand, grasped mine with a vigor
unusual in a woman, even when she is well.
"This is Dr. Hamilton?" she said, in a clear
voice, which told nothing of pain, and was wholly
free from the usually querulous note struck by
women who are ill, or who think that they are.
" This is Dr. Hamilton ? I am very glad to see you,
doctor. I am Florence Campbell. You received
a note from your friend, Dr. Griswold, of Chicago,
and one telling how I came to send it to you — how
I came into possession of it." Direct of speech,
clear of voice, hand feverish, but firm in grasp, I
commented mentally, as she spoke.
This is not what I had expected. This is not the
limp little blonde that I had pictured, on a lounge,
in tears, with the light fluffy hair in disorder, and a
tone of voice which plead for sympathy. This is
not the figure I had expected to see.
She stood with her back to the light, very erect
and well poised.
" Come to the window," I said. " Does your
head ache ?" That is always a safe question to
ask, you know.
She laughed. " Oh, I don't know that it does —
not particularly. I fancy there is not enough inside
of it to ache much. Mere bone and vacuity could
not do a great deal in that line, could it, doctor ?"
Then she laughed again. She looked me in the
eyes, and I fancied she was diagnosing me.
Her eyes were deep, large, and brown, or a dark
1 88 Florence Campbell's Fate.
gray ; her complexion was dark and clear — al-
most too transparent ; her cheeks were flushed a
little ; and the light in her eyes was unnaturally
She was evidently trying to gain time — to take
" It is always a rather trying thing to get a new
doctor; don't you think so?" she asked, with an-
other little laugh. " I always feel so foolish to
think I have called him to come for so trifling a
matter as my ailments are. I am never really ill,
you know," she said with nervous haste ; " but I
am not very strong, and so I often feel — rather —
under the weather, and I always fancy that a doc-
tor can prevent, or cure it ; but I suppose he can-
not. I shall really not expect a great deal of you,
in that line, doctor. I cannot expect you to fur-
nish me with robust ancestors, can I ? Just so you
keep me out of bed " — and here, for the first time,
I noticed a slight tremor in her voice — "just keep me
so that I can read, and — so that I shall not need to
sit alone, and — think — I shall be quite satisfied —
quite." She had turned her face away, as she said
the last ; but I saw that she was having a hard
struggle to keep back the tears, notwithstanding
the little laugh that followed.
I had felt her pulse ; it was hardly perceptible,
and fluttered rather than beat ; and I had watched
her closely as she spoke ; but whenever she came
near the verge of showing deeper than the surface
she broke in with that non-committal little laugh, or
Florence Campbell's Fate. 1 89
turned her face, or half closed her great eyes, and
I was foiled. Her pulse and the faint blue veins
told me one story ; she tried to tell me quite another.
" How are you suffering to-day," I asked.
She looked steadily at me a moment, then lowered
her eyes, raised her left hand (upon which I remem-
ber noticing there was a handsome ring), looked at
its palm a moment, held her lips tightly closed, and
then, with a sudden glance at me, again as if on the
defensive said :
" I hardly know ; I am only a little under the
weather ; I am weak. I am losing my — grip — on
myself ; I am — losing my grip— on my — nerves. I
cannot afford to do that." The last was said with
more emotion than she cared to display. So she
arose, walked swiftly to the dressing-case, took up a
lace handkerchief, glanced at herself in the mirror,
moved a picture (I noticed that it was a likeness of
an old gentleman, perhaps her father), and returned
to a chair which stood in the shadow, and then,
with a merry little peal of laughter, said : " Well, I
don't wonder, doctor, that you are unable to diag-
nose that case. It would require a barometer to
do that I fancy, from the amount of weather I got
into it. But really, now, how am I to know what
is the matter with me ? That is for you to say ;
I am not the doctor. If you tell me it is ma-
laria, as all of you do, I shall be perfectly satisfied
— and take your powders with the docility of an
infant in arms. I suppose it is malaria, don't you?"
I wanted to gain time — to study her a little. I
190 Florence Campbell's Fate.
saw that she was, or had been really ill ; ill, that is,
in mind if not in body. I fancied that she had
succeeded in deceiving Griswold into treating
her for some physical trouble which she did not
have, or, if she had it, only as a result of a much
The right branch may have been found and
nipped off from time time when it grew uncomfort-
ably long, but the root, I believed, had not -been
touched, and, I thought, had not been even sus-
pected by her former physician.
We of the profession, as you very well know, do
not always possess that abiding faith in the knowl-
edge and skill of our brethren that we demand and
expect from outsiders.
We claim our right to guess over after our asso-
ciates, and not always to guess the same thing.
I believed that Griswold had not fully under-
stood his former patient. "Sulph. 12," indeed!
Then I smiled, and said aloud :
" Dr. Griswold writes me that in such cases as
yours he advises sulph. 12— that it has given relief.
Do you call yourself a sulphur patient ?" I watched
her narrowly, and if she did not smile in a satirical
way, I was deceived. " Are you out of that rem-
edy ? and do you want more of it ?" I asked with a
She did not reply at once. There seemed to be
a struggle in her mind as to how much she would
let me know. Then she looked at me attentively
for a moment, with a puzzled expression, I thought ;
Floreiice Campbell's Fate. 191
an unutterably weary look crossed her face. She
said, slowly, deliberately : " I have no doubt sul-
phur will do as well as anything else. Oh ! yes
— I am decidedly a sulphur patient, no doubt. I
suppose I have taken several pints of that inno-
cent remedy in my time. A number of physicians
have given it to me from time to time. Your
friend is not its only devotee. Sulphur and nux —
nux and sulphur ! I believe they cure anything
short of a broken heart, or actual imbecility, do
they not, doctor ?" She laughed, not altogether
How far would she go. and how far would she
let me go, with this humbuggery ? I looked gravely
into her eyes, and said, " Certainly they will do all
that, and more. They sometimes hold a patient
until a doctor can decide which of those two inter-
esting complaints is the particular one to be treated.
In your case I am inclined to suspect — the — that
it is — not imbecility. I shall therefore begin by
asking you to be good enough to tell me what it is
that affects your heart."
I had taken her wrist in my hand, as I began to
speak. My finger was on her *pulse. It gave a
great bound, and then beat rapidly; and although
her face grew a shade paler and her eyes wavered
as they tried to look into mine, I knew that I had
both surprised and impressed her.
She recovered herself instantly, and made up her
mind to hedge still further. " If there is anything
the matter with my heart, you are the first to sus-
192 Florence Campbell's Fate.
pect it. My father, however, died of heart dis-
ease, and I have — always — hoped that I should —
die as suddenly. But I shall not ! I shall not ! I
am so — wiry — so all-enduring. I recover! I al-
ways recover !"
She said this passionately, and as if it were a grave
misfortune — as if she were very old. I pretended
to take it humorously.
"Perhaps at your advanced age your father
might have said the same."
She laughed. She saw a loophole, and immedi-
ately took it. " Oh, you think I am very young,
doctor, but I am not. People always think me
younger than I am — at first. I look older when
you get used to me. I am nearly thirty."
I was surprised; I had taken her to be about
" In years or in experience ?" I said. Which way
do you count your age ?"
She got up suddenly again and walked to the
dressing-case, then to the window. In doing so she
raised her hand to her eyes. It was the hand with
the lace handkerchief in it.
"Experience !" she exclaimed; and then, check-
ing herself. " No, people never think me so old —
not at first," she said, returning to her chair. "But
I suppose I am not too old to be cured with sulph.
12, ami? Then she laughed her little nervous,
quick laugh, and added: " Dear old Dr. Griswold,
what faith he must have in 'sulph. 12.' and in his
patients. He seems to think that they were made
Florence Campbells Fate. 193
for each other, as it were; and — of course, I am
not a doctor — how do I know they were not ?"
" Miss Campbell," I said, stepping quickly to her
side and surprising her, " you do not need sulphur.
You need to be relieved of this strain on your
nerves. Make up your mind to tell me your his-
tory to-morrow morning — to tell it all; I do not
want some fairy-tale. Until then, take these drops
to quiet your nerves."
There were tears in her eyes. She did not at-
tempt to hide them. They ran down her cheeks,
and she simply closed the lids and let them flow.
I took her lace handkerchief and wiped her cheeks.
Then I dropped it in her lap, placed the phial on
her stand, took up my hat, and left.
But I did not get her story the next day, nor
the next, nor the next.
Her tact was perfectly mystifying in its intri-
cacy; her power of evasion marvellous, and her
study of me amusing. She grew weaker and more
languid every day; but insisted that she had no
pain — " nothing upon which to hang a symptom,"
she would say.
I suggested that refuge of all puzzled doctors — a
" A change !" she said, wearily. " A change !
Let me see, I have been here nearly five months.
194 Florence Campbells Fate.
I stayed two months in the last place. I was nine
days in San Francisco, one year doing the whole of
Europe, and seven months in Asia. Yes, decidedly,
I must need a change. There are three places left
for me to try, which one do you advise?" There
was a bitter little laugh, but her expression was
sweet, and her eyes twinkled as she glanced at
" I am glad I have three places to choose from,"
I said. " I was afraid you were not going to leave
so many as that, and had already begun to plan
' electric treatment ' as a final refuge."
She laughed nervously, but I thought I saw signs
of a mental change.
I had always found that I could do most with her
by falling into her own moods of humor or merry
satire upon her own condition or upon the various
stages of medical ignorance and pretence into
which we are often driven.
" Where are these three unhappy places that you
have so shamelessly neglected ? Was it done in
malice ? I sincerely hope, for their sakes, that it was
not so bad as that — that it was a mere oversight on
your part," I went on.
" Australia has been spared my presence so far
through malice; the other two, through defective
theology. I dislike the idea of one of them on ac-
count of the climate, and of the other, because of
the stupid company," she said, with a droll assump-
tion of perplexity; " so, you see, I can't even hope
for a pleasant change after death. Oh, my case is
Florence Campbell's Fate. 195
quite hopeless, I assure you, doctor; quite!" She
I had her where I wanted her now. I thought
by a little adroitness I might get, at least, a part of
" So you are really afraid to die, and yet think
that you must," I said, bluntly.
She turned her great luminous eyes on me, and
her lip curled slightly, with real scorn, before she
forced upon her face her usual mask of good-hum-
" Afraid !" she exclaimed, " afraid to die ! afraid
of what, pray ? I cannot imagine being afraid to
die. It is life I am afraid of. If I could only — "
This last passionately. She checked herself ab-
ruptly, and with an evident effort resumed her
usual light air and tone. " But it does always seem
so absurdly impossible to me, doctor, to hear grown-
up people talk about being afraid to die. It almost
surprised me into talking seriously, a reprehensive
habit I never allow myself. A luxury few can af-
ford, you know. It skirts too closely the banks of
Tragedy. One is safer on the high seas of Frivol-
ity — don't you think ?"
" Much safer, no doubt, my child," said I, taking
her hand, which was almost as cold and white as
marble; " much safer from those deceived and con-
fiding persons who prescribe ' sulph. 12.' for the
broken heart and overwrought nerves of a little
woman who tries bravely to fly her gay colors in
the face of defeat and to whistle a tune at a grave."
196 Florence Campbells Fate.
I had called late, and we were sitting in the twi-
light, but I saw tears fall on her lap, and she did
not withdraw her hand, which trembled violently.
I had touched the wound roughly — as I had de-
termined to do — but, old man as I was, and used to
the sight of suffering as I had been for years, I
could restrain myself only by an effort from taking
her in my arms and asking her to forget what I
had said. She seemed so utterly shaken. We sat
for some moment in perfect silence, except for her
quick, smothered little sobs, and then she said, pas-
" Oh, my God ! doctor, how did you know ?
And then, with a flash of fear in her voice, " Who
told you ? No one has talked me over to you ? No
one has written to you ?"
" I know nothing except what I have seen of
your brave fight, my child. All the information I
have had about you, from outside, was contained in
that valuable little note of introduction from Gris-
In spite of her tears and agitation she smiled,
but looked puzzled, as I afterward recalled she al-
ways did when I mentioned his name, or spoke as
if she knew him well.
" I have not watched you for nothing. And I
never treat a patient without first diagnosing his
case. I do not say that I am always right. I am
not vain of the methods nor of the progress of
my profession; but I am, at least, not blind, and I
have always been interested in you. I should like
Florence Campbells Fate. igy
to help you, if you will let me. I can do nothing
for you in the dark." Then dropping my voice,
significantly : " Does he know where you are ?
Does he know you are ill ?"
There was a long silence. I did not know but
that she was offended. She was struggling for
command of her voice, and for courage. Presently
she said, in a hoarse whisper, which evidently
shocked her as much as it startled me, so unnat-
ural did it sound:
"Who? My husband?"
"Your husband!" I exclaimed. "Are you — is
there — I did not know you were married. Why
did you always allow me to call you Miss Camp-
" I do not know," she said, wearily. " It made
no difference to me, and it seemed to please your
fancy to treat me as a child. But I never really
noticed that you did always call me Miss. If I
had, I should not have cared. What difference
could it make to me — or to you — what prefix you
put to my name ?"
" But I did not know you were married," I said
She looked up, startled for a moment; but re-
covering, as from some vague suspicion, in an in-
stant she said, smiling a little, and with evident
relief, plunging into a new opening:
" That had nothing to do with my case. There
was no need to discuss family relations. I never
thought of whether you were married or not. You
198 Florence Campbelts Fate.
were my doctor — I your patient. What our fam-
ily relations, wardrobes, or political affiliations
might be seem to me quite aside from that. We
may choose to talk of them together, or we may
not, as the case may be. And in my case, it would
not be — edifying." There was a moment's pause,
then she said, rather impatiently, but as if the new
topic were a relief to her: "The idea that a wom-
an must be ticketed as married or unmarried, to
every chance acquaintance, is repellent to me.
Men are not so ticketed — and that is right. It is
vulgar to suppose a sign is needed to prevent tres-
pass, or to tempt approach. ' Miss Jones, this is
Mr. Smith.' What does it tell ?" She was talking
very rapidly now — nervously. " It tells her, ' Here
is a gentleman to whom I wish to introduce you.
If you find him agreeable you will doubtless learn
more of him later on.' It tells him, ' Here is a
lady. She is not married.' Her family relations —
her most private affairs — are thrust in his face be-
fore she has even said good evening to him. I
think it is vulgar, and it is certainly an unnecessary
personality. What his or her marital relations may
be would seem to come a good deal later in the
stage of acquaintance, don't you think so, doctor ?"
She laughed, but it was not like herself. Even the
laugh had changed. She was fighting for time.
" It is a new idea to me," I said, " and I confess
I like it. Come to think of it, it is a trifle prema-
ture — this thrusting a title intended to indicate
private relations onto a name used on all public
Florence Campbell's Fate. 199
occasions. By Jove! it is absurd. I never thought
of it before; but it is never done with men, is it?
'General,' 'Mr.,' 'Dr.'— none of them. All relate
to him as an individual, leaving vast fields of pos-
sibilities all about him. ' Mrs.,' ' Miss ' — they tell
one thing, and one only. That is of a private
nature — a personal association. You have started
me on a new line of thought, and," said I, taking
her hand again, " you have given me so much that
is new to think of to-night that I will go home to
look over the budget. You are tired out. Go to
bed now. Order your tea brought up. Here is an
order to see to anything you may ask, promptly.
Beesley, the manager, is an old friend of mine.
Any order you may give, if you send it down with
this note from me, will be obeyed at once. I shall
come to-morrow. Good-night."
I put the order on the table, at her side. I know
my voice was husky. It startled me, as I heard it.
She sat perfectly still, but she laid her other hand
on top of mine, with a light pressure, and her voice
sounded tired and full of tears.
" Good-night. You are very kind — very thought-
ful. I will be brave to-morrow. Good-night."
That night I drove past and saw a light in her
window at one o'clock. "Poor child!" I said;
" will she be brave enough to tell me to-morrow, or
will she die with her burden, and her gay little
laugh on her lips ?"
200 Florence Campbells Fate.
The next day I called earlier than usual. I had
spent an almost sleepless night, wondering what I
could do for this beautiful, lovable woman, who
seemed to be all alone in the world, and who evi-
dently felt that she must remain apart and deso-
What had caused her to leave her husband ? Or
had he left her? What for? What kind of a man
was he ? Did she love him, and was she breaking
her heart for him? or did he stand between her
and some other love ? Had she married young, and
made a mistake that was eating her life out ?
Whose fault was it ? How could I help her ?
All these and a thousand other questions forced
themselves upon me, and none of the answers came
to fit the case. Answers there were in plenty, but
they were not for these questions nor for this wom-
an—not for this delicate flower of her race.
As I stepped into the hotel office to send my
card to " Parlor 13," as was my custom, the clerk
looked up with his perfunctory smile and said, " Go'
morning, doctor. Got so in the habit 'coming
here lately, s'pose it'll take quite a while to taper
off. That about the size of it ?"
I stared at the young man in utter bewilderment.
" Ha! ha! ha! I believe you'd really forgot al-
ready she'd gone;" and then, with a quick flash of
surprise and intelligent, detective shrewdness,
Florence Campbells Fate. 201
" You knew she was going, doctor ? She did not
skip her little bill, did she ? Of course not. Her
husband was in such a deuce of a hurry to catch
the early train, the night-clerk said he was ringing
his bell the blessed night for fear they'd get left.
Front! take water to 273. You hadn't been gone
five minutes last night, when he came skipping
down here with your check and order, and we just
had to make things hum to get cash enough to-
gether to meet it for her; but we made it, and so
they got off all right."
" Have you got my check here yet ?" asked I, in
in a tone that arrested the attention of the other
clerk, who looked up in surprise.
" Good heavens ! no. Do you think we're made
of ready money, just because you are ? That check
was in the bank and part of the cash in that desk
the first thing after banking hours," said he, open-
ing out the register and reaching for a bunch of
pens behind him. " You see it cleaned us out last
night. I couldn't change two dollars for a man
this morning. I told Campbell last night that you
must think hotels were run queer, to expect us to
cash a five-thousand dollar check on five minutes'
notice. Couldn't 'a' done it at all if 't hadn't been
pay-night for servants and the rest of us. We all
had to wait till to-day. But the old man '11 tell
you. Here he comes."
"Why, hello! doctor, old boy," said Beesley,
coming up from behind and clapping me vigorous-
ly on the shoulder. " Didn't expect to see the
202 Florence Campbells Fate.
light of your countenance around here again so
soon. Thought we owed it all to your profession-
al ardor for that charming patient of yours up in
13. They got off all right, but if any other man
but you had sent that order and check down here
for us to cash last night I'd have told him to make
tracks. Of course, I understood that they were
called away suddenly — unexpectedly, and all that.
He told me all about it, and that you did not finish
the trade till the last minute; but — "
" Trade ? " gasped I, in spite of my determination
to hear all before disclosing anything. " Trade ? "
" Oh, come off. Don't be so consumedly skittish
about the use of English, I suppose you want me
to say that the ' transaction between you was not
concluded,' etc., etc. Oh, you're a droll one, doc-
tor." He appeared to notice a change on my face,
which he evidently misconstrued, and he added,
gayly. " Oh, it was all right, my boy, as long as it
was you — glad to do you a good turn any day ; but
what a queer idea for that little woman to marry
such a man ! How did it happen ? I'd like to
know the history ! Every time I saw him come
swelling around I made up mind to ask you about
them, and then I always forgot it when I saw you.
When he told me you had been his wife's guardian
I thought some of kicking you the next good
chance I got, for allowing the match, and for not
telling me you had such a pretty ward. You
always were a deep rascal — go off ! " He rattled
Florence Campbells Fate. 203
Several times I had decided to speak, but as
often restrained myself. My blank face and un-
settled manner appeared to touch his sense of hu-
mor. He .concluded that it was good acting. I
decided to confirm the mistake, until I had time
to think it all over. Finally, I said, as carelessly
as I could :
" How long had this — a — husband been here ?
That is — when did he get back ? "
" Been here ! get back ! Been here all the time;
smoked more good cigars and surrounded more wine
than any other one man in the house. Oh, he was a
Jim-dandy of a fellow for a hotel ! " Then, with
sudden suspicion : " Why ? Had he told you he'd
go away before ? Oh ! I — see ! That was the
trade ? Paid him to skip, hey ? M — m — m— yes !
I think I begin to catch on." He could hardly
restrain his mirth, and winked at me in sheer
I went slowly out. When I arrived at the house
I directed the servant to say to anyone who might
call that the doctor was not at home. I went to
my room and wrote to Dr. Griswold, asking him
for information about Florence Campbell, the fair
patient he had sent me. "Who was she? What
did he know of her ? Where were her friends ? "
I told him nothing of this last development, but
asked for an immediately reply, adding — " for an
Three days later a telegram was handed to me as
I drove up to my office. It was this :
204 Florence Campbell's Fate.
" Never heard of her. Why ? Griswold ?"
I did not sleep that night. For the first time my
faith in Florence Campbell wavered. Up to that
time I had blamed her husband for everything. I
had woven around her a web of plausible circum-
stances which made her the unwilling victim of a
designing villain — an expert forger, no doubt, who
used her, without her own knowledge, as a decoy—
a man of whom she was both ashamed and afraid,
but from whom she could not escape.
But how was all that to be reconciled with this
revelation ? Griswold did not know her. How
about his introduction and that " sulph. 12 "? I
looked through my desk for Griswold's note. It
was certainly his handwriting ; but I noticed, for
the first time, that it did not mention her name.
Perhaps this was a loop-hole through which I
might bring my fair patient — in whom I was begin-
ning to fear I had taken too deep an interest — with-
out discredit to herself.
Might she not have changed her name since
Griswold treated her ? I determined to give her
the benefit of this doubt until I could be sure that
it had no foundation.
I felt relieved by this respite, and, heartily
ashamed of the unjust suspicion of the moment be-
fore, I gave no hint of it in the letter I now wrote
Griswold, describing the lady, and in which I en-
closed his letter of introduction to me.
The next few days I went about my practice in
a dream, and it was no doubt due to fortuitous cir-
Florence Campbells Fate. 205
cumstances rather than to my skill that several of
my patients still live to tell the tale of their suffer-
ing and of my phenomenal ability to cope with dis-
ease in all its malignant power.
In due time Griswold's letter came. I went into
my office to read it. I told myself that I had no
fears for the good name of Florence Campbell. I
knew that some explanation would be made that
would confirm me in my opinion of her ; but, for
all that, I locked the door, and my hand was less
steady than I liked to see it, as I tore the end of
I even remember thinking vaguely that I usually
took time to open my letters with more precision
and with less disregard for the untidy appearance
of their outer covering afterward. I hesitated to
read beyond the first line, although I had so has-
tened to get that far. I read : " My dear old
friend," and then turned the letter over to see how
long it was — how much probable information it
contained. There were four closely written pages.
I wondered if it could all be about Florence Camp-
bell, and was vaguely afraid that it was — and that
it was not. I remembered looking at the clock
when I came into the office. It was nearly six
o'clock. I laid the letter down and went to the
cooler and got oui a bottle of Vichy. I sat it and
206 Florence Campbells Fate.
some wine by my elbow on the desk, and took up
" I never heard of anyone by the name of Flor-
ence Campbell, so far as I can recall. I certainly
never had a patient by that name. Some months
ago I gave the letter you enclose — which I certain-
ly did write — to a patient of mine who was on her
way to Europe and expected to stay some time in
New York on her way through.
" She, however, was in no way like the lady you
describe. Her name was Kittie Hatfield, and she
was small, with dreamy blue eyes and flaxen hair —
a perfect woman, in fact." Oh ! Tom : Tom !
thought I — true to your record, to the last ! I had
long since ceased to wonder at the lapse, however,
for Florence Campbell herself was surely sufficient
explanation of all that. " I understood " — the let-
ter went on — " that Kittie did not stop but a few
days in New York, when she was joined by the
party with which she was to travel. She stayed at
the F Avenue Hotel, I have learned, and be-
came intimate with some queer people there — much
to the indignation of her brother, when he learned
I laid the letter down and put my head on my
arms, folded as they were on the desk. I was dizzy
and tired. When I raised my head it was dark. I
got up, lighted the gas, and found myself stiff and
as if I had been long in a forced and unnatural
position. I recalled that I had been indignant.
This brother of the silly-pated, blue-eyed girl had
Florence Campbell's Fate. 207
not liked her to know Florence Campbell, indeed !
He was, no doubt, a precious fool — naturally would
be, with such a sister, I commented mentally.
What else, I wondered, had Griswold found out ?
Was the rest of this old fool's letter about her ? I
began where I had left off.
" I have since learned from him that the man —
whose name was Campbell — was a foreigner of
some kind, with a decidedly vague, not to say, hazy
reputation, and that his wife, who was supposed to
be an invalid, and an American of good family,
never appeared in public, and so was never seen by
him — that is by Will Hatfield — but was only known
to him through Kittie's enraptured eyes. She was
said to be bright and pretty. Kittie is the most
generous child alive in her estimate of other women;
however, he thinks it possible that Kittie either
gave her the letter from me to you, and asked her
to have proper medical care, or else that the
woman, or her husband, got hold of it in a less
legitimate way ; which I think quite likely. Kittie
thought the Campbell woman was charming." The
" Campbell woman," indeed ! I felt like a thief,
even to read such rubbish, and I should have en-
joyed throttling the whole ill-natured gossipping set
— not omitting flaxen-haired Kittie herself.
I determined to finish the letter, however.
" Hatfield is so ashamed of his sister's friendship
for the woman that I had the utmost difficulty in
making him tell me the whole truth, but, from
what I gathered yesterday, he thinks them most
208 Florence Campbell's Fate.
likely the head of a gang of counterfeiters or forg-
ers and — "
I read no further, or, if I did, I can recall only
that. It was burned into my brain, and when a
loud pounding on my office-door aroused me, I
found the letter twisted and torn into a hundred
pieces, the Vichy and wine-bottles at my side half-
empty, and the hands of the clock pointing to
" Doctor, doctor," called my lackey; " oh, doc-
tor! Oh, lord, I'm afraid something's wrong with
the doctor, but I'm afraid to break in the door."
I went to the door to prevent a scene. One of
my best patients stood there, with Morgan, the
man. Both of them were pale and full of sup-
" Heavens and earth, doctor, we were afraid you
were dead. I've been waiting here a good hour
for you to come home. No one knew you were in,
till Morgan peeped over the transom. What in
the devil is the matter ? " said my patient.
"Tired out, went to sleep," said I; but I did
not know my own voice as I spoke. It sounded
distant, and its tones were strange.
They both looked at me suspiciously, and with
evident anxiety as to my mental condition. I
caught at the means of escape.
" I am too tired to see anyone to-night. In fact,
I am not well. You will have to let me off this
time. Get Dr. Talbott, next door, if anyone is
sick; I am going to bed. Good-night."
Florence Campbell's Fate. 209
There was a long pause. Then he said, wearily:
" You are a young man, doctor. You have taken
the chair I left vacant at the college. I would
never have told the story to you, perhaps, only I
wanted you to know why I left the class in your
care so suddenly this morning, when I uncovered
the beautiful face of the ' subject ' you had brought
from the morgue for me to give my closing lecture
upon. That class of shallow-pated fellows have
not learned yet that doctors — even old fellows like
me — know a good deal less than they think they
do about the human race — themselves included."
I stammered some explanation of the circum-
stances, and again there was a long silence.
Then he said:
" Found drowned, was she ? Poor girl ! Do
you believe, with that face, she was ever a bad
woman ? Or that she had anything to do with the
rascality of her husband, even if he were con-
sciously a rascal ? and who is to judge of that,
knowing so little of him ? Did I ever recover the
five thousand dollars ? Did I attempt to recover
it ? Oh, no. All this happened nearly ten years
ago now; and if that were all it had cost me I
should not mind. The hotel people never knew.
Why should they ? This is the first time I have
told the story. You think I am an old fool ?
Well, well, perhaps I am — perhaps I am; who can
say what any of us are, or what we are not ?
Thirty years ago I knew that I understood myself
and everybody else perfectly. To-day I know
210 Florence Campbell's Fate.
equally well that I understand neither the one nor
the other. We learn that fact, and then we die —
and that is about all we do learn. You wonder,
after what I tell you, if the beautiful face at the
demonstration class this morning was really hers,
or whether a strong likeness led my eyes and
nerves astray You wonder if she drowned herself,
and why ? Was it an accident ? Did he do it ?
This last will be decided by each one according as
he judges of Florence Campbell and her husband
— of who and what they were. Perhaps I shall try
to find him now. Not for the money, but to learn
why she married the man he seemed to be. It is
hard to tell what I should learn. It is not even
easy to know just what I should like to learn; and
perhaps, after all, it is better not to know more —
who shall say?"
And the doctor bade me good-night and bowed
himself out to his carriage with his old courtesy,
and left me alone with the strange, sad story of
the beautiful girl whose lifeless form had furnished
the subject of my first lecture to a class of medical
flDp patient's Storp.
" Things are cruel and blind; their strength detains and deforms:
And the wearying ivings of the tnitid still beat up the stream of
Still, as one swimming up stream, they strike out blind in the
In thunders of vision and dream, and lightning of future and
We are baffleu ana caugnt in the current, and bruised upon
edges of shoals ;
As weeds or as reeds m the torrent of things are the wind-
shaken souls. "
Algernon Charles Swinburne.
■MY PATIENT'S STORY.
Perhaps I may have told you before, that at the
time of which I speak, my Summer home — where I
preferred to spend much more than half of the
year — was on a sandy beach a few miles out of
New York, and also that I had retired from active
practice as a physician, even when I was in the city.
Notwithstanding these two facts, I was often
called in consultation, both in and out of the city;
and was occasionally compelled to take a case
entirely into my own hands, through some acci-
dent or unforeseen circumstance.
It was one of these accidents which brought the
patient whose story I am about to tell you, under
I can hardly say now, why I retained the case
instead of turning it over to some brother practi-
tioner, as was my almost invariable habit; but for
some reason I kept it in my own hands, and, as it
was the only one for which I was solely responsible
at the time, I naturally took more than ordinary
interest in and paid more than usual attention to
all that seemed to me to bear upon it.
As you know I am an "old school " or " regular"
physician, although that did not prevent me from
214 My Patient's Story.
consulting with, and appreciating the strong points
of many of those who were of other, and younger
branches of the profession.
This peculiarity had subjected me, in times gone
by, to much adverse criticism from some of my
colleagues who belonged to that rigidly orthodox
faction which appears to feel that it is a much bet-
ter thing to allow a patient to die " regularly" — as
it were — than it is to join forces with one, who,
being of us, is still not with us in theory and prac-
Recognizing that we were all purblind at best,
and that there was and still is, much to learn in
every department of medicine, it did not always
seem to me that it was absolutely necessary to re-
ject, without due consideration, the guesses of
other earnest and careful men, even though they
might differ from me in the prefix to the " pathy"
which forms the basis of the conjecture.
We are all wrong so often that it has never ap-
peared to be a matter of the first importance — it
does not present itself to my mind as absolutely
imperative — that it should be invariably the same
wrong, or that all of the mistakes should neces-
sarily follow the beaten track of the " old school."
I had arrived at that state of beatitude where I
was not unwilling for a life to be saved — or even
for pain to be alleviated, by other methods than
I do not pretend that this exalted ethical status
came to me all at once, nor at a very early stage of
My Paticnfs Story. 215
my career ; but it came, and I had reaped the
whirlwind of wrath, as I have just hinted to you.
So when my patient let me know, after a time,
that he had been used to homeopathic treatment,
I at once suggested that he send for some one of
that school to take charge of his case.
He declined — somewhat reluctantly, I thought,
still, quite positively. But, in the course of events,
when I felt that a consultation was due to him as
well as to myself, I asked him if he would not pre-
fer that the consulting physician should be of that
He admitted that he would, and I assured him
that I should be pleased to send for any one he
He knew no doctor here, he said, and left it to
me to send for the one in whom I had the greatest
It is at this point my story really begins.
I stopped on my way uptown to arrange, with
Dr. Hamilton, of Madison Avenue, a consultation
that afternoon, at three o'clock. I told the doctor
all that I, myself, knew at that time, of my pa-
tient's history. Three weeks before I had been in
a Fifth Avenue stage ; a gentleman had politely
arisen to offer his seat to a lady at the moment that
the stage gave a sudden lurch which threw them
both violently against each other and against the
end of the stage.
He broke the fall for her ; but he received a
blow on the head, which member came in contact
216 My Patients Story.
with the money-box, with a sharp crack. Accus-
tomed to the sight of pain and suffering as I was,
the sound of the blow and his suddenly livid face
gave me a feeling of sickness which did not wholly
leave me for an hour afterward. Involuntarily I
caught him in my arms — he was a slightly built man
— and directed the driver to stop at the first hotel.
The gentleman was unconscious and I feared he
had sustained a serious fracture of the skull. He
was evidently a man of culture, and I thought not
an American. I therefore wished, if possible, to
save him a police or hospital experience.
By taking him into the first hotel I reasoned, we
could examine him ; learn who and what he was,
where he lived, and, after reviving him, send him
home in a carriage.
The process of bringing him back to conscious-
ness was slow, and as the papers on his person,
which we felt at liberty to examine, gave no clue to
his residence, we concluded to put him to bed and
trust to farther developments to show us what to
do in the matter of removal. The lady on whose
account he had received the injury had given me
her card, which bore a name well known on the
Avenue, and had stated that she would, if neces-
sary, be responsible for all expense at the hotel.
It was deemed best, therefore, to put him to bed,
as I said before, and wait for him to indicate, for
himself, the next move. I placed in the safe of the
hotel his pocketbook, which contained a large sum
of money (large that is, for a man to carry on his
My Patient's Story. 217
person in these days of cheques and exchanges)
and his watch, which was a handsome one, with
this inscription on the inside cover, " T. C. from
The cards in his pocket bore different names and
addresses, mostly foreign, but the ones I took for
his own were finely engraved, and read " Mr. T. C.
Lathro," nothing more. No address, no business;
simply calling cards, of a fashionable size, and of
the finest quality.
This, as I say, was about three weeks before I
concluded to call Dr. Hamilton in consultation ;
and I had really learned very little more of my pa-
tient's affairs than these facts taken from his pocket
that first day while he was still unconscious.
He was silent about himself, and while he had
slowly grown better his progress toward health did
not satisfy me, nor do I think that he was wholly
of opinion, that I was doing quite all that should
be done to hasten his recovery.
He was always courteous, self-poised, and able
to bear pain bravely; but I thought he watched me
narrowly, and I several times detected him in a
weary sigh and an impatient movement of the eye-
brows, which did not tally with his assumption of
cheerful indifference and hospitality.
I use the word hospitality advisedly, for his ef-
fort always seemed to be to treat me as a guest
whom he must entertain, and distract from ob-
serving his ailments, rather than as a physician
whose business it was to discover and remedy them.
218 My Patient's Story.
He had declined to be moved ; said he was a
stranger; had no preferences as to hotels; felt sure
this one was as comfortable as any; thanked me
over and over for having taken him there, and
changed the subject. He would talk as long as I
would allow him on any subject, airily, brightly,
readily. On any subject, that is, except himself;
yet from his conversation I had gathered that he
had travelled a great deal; was a man of wealth and
culture, whether French, Italian or Russian, I could
not decide. He spoke all of these languages, and
words from each fitted easily into place when for a
better English one, he hesitated or was at a loss.
Indeed, he seemed to have seen much of every
country and to have observed impartially — without
national prejudice. He knew men well, too well to
praise recklessly ; and he sometimes gave me the
impression, I can hardly say how, that blame was a
word whose meaning he did not know.
He spoke of having seen deeds of the most ap-
palling nature in Russia, and talked of their perpe-
trators sometimes, as good and brave men. He
never appeared to measure men by their excep-
Occasionally I contested these points with him,
and I am not sure but that it may have been the
interest I took in his conversation that held me as
his physician; for as I said, I was well aware that
he did not improve as he should have done after
the first few days.
But I liked to hear him talk. He was a revela-
My Patient's Story. 219
tion to me. I greatly enjoyed his breath and char-
ity — if I may so express the mental attitude which
recognized neither the possession of, nor the need
for, either quality in his judgments of his fellow-
He had evidently not been able to pass through
life under the impression that character, like cloth,
is cut to fit a certain outline, and that after the
basting-threads are once in, no farther variation
need be looked for. Indeed, I question if he
would have been able to comprehend the mental
condition of those grown-up " educated " children
who are never able to outgrow the comfortable be-
lief that words and acts have a definite, inflexible,
par-value — that an unabridged dictionary, so to
speak, is an infallible appeal; who, in short, ex-
pect their villains to be consistently and invariably
villainous, in the regulation orthodox fashion.
Individual shades of meaning, whether of lan-
guage or of character, do not enter into their sim-
ple philosophy. Mankind suffers, in their penny-
weight scales, a shrinkage that is none the less real
because they never suspect that the dwarfage may
be due to themselves— to their system of weights and
measures. All variations from their standard indi-
cate an unvarying tendency to mendacity. He
whom they once detect in a quibble, or in an at-
tempt to acquire the large end of a bargain, never
recovers (what is perhaps only his rightful heritage,
in spite of an occasional lapse) the respect and
confidence of these primer students who are in-
220 My Patient's Story.
flexible judges of all mental and moral manifesta-
I repeat that this comfortable and regular phil-
osophy was foreign to my patient's mental habits,
and I began to consider, the more I talked with
him, that it did not agree with my own personal
observations. I reflected that I was not very
greatly surprised, nor did I lose faith in a man
necessarily, when I discovered him in a single mean
or questionable action.
Why, then, should I be surprised to find those of
whom I had known only ill-engaged in deeds of
the most unselfish nature ? Deeds of heroism and
generosity such as he often recounted as a part of
the life of some of these same terrible Russian of-
ficials. There seems, however, to be that in us
which finds it far easier to reconcile a single mean
or immoral action with an otherwise upright life,
than to believe it likely, or even possible, for a
depraved nature to perform, upon occasion, deeds
of exalted or unusual purity. Yet so common is
the latter, that its failure of recognition by human-
ity in general can be due it seems to me, only to a
wrong teaching or to a stupidity beyond even nor-
For, after all, the bad man who is all bad, is
really a less frequent product than that much
talked of, but rare creature, a perfect woman.
Perhaps one could count the specimens of either
of these to be met with in a life time, on the fingers
of one hand.
My Patient's Story. 221
But to return to my patient and his story.
It was of these things that he and I had often
talked, and I had come to greatly respect the self-
poise and acute observation, as well as the broad
human sympathy of this reserved and evidently
sad-hearted man. Sad-hearted I knew, in spite of
his keen sense of humor, and his firm grasp of phil-
I gave Dr. Hamilton a brief outline of all this,
as well as of the physical condition of the man
whom he was to see ; for I believe it to be quite
as important for a physician to understand -and di-
agnose the mental as the physical conditions of
those who come under his care before he can pre-
scribe intelligently for other than very trifling ail-
You can imagine my surprise when I tell you that
the moment Dr. Hamilton stepped into the room,
and I mentioned his name, my patient, this self-
poised man of the world, whose nerves had often
seemed to me to be of tempered steel, looked up
suddenly as you have seen a timid child do when
it is sharply reproved, and fainted dead away.
I confess that I expected a scene.
I glanced at the doctor, but he showed no sign
of ever having seen my patient before, and went to
work with me in the most methodical and indiffer-
ent way possible to revive him.
222 My Patient's Story.
' You did not mention that this was one of his
symptoms— a peculiarity of his. Has he been sub-
ject to this sort of thing? Did he say he was sub-
ject to it before he hurt his head, or has it devel-
oped since ? " the doctor inquired quietly as we
I bit my lip. His tone was so exasperatingly
cool, while, knowing my patient as I did, his
startled manner and sudden fainting had impressed
" It is the first time," I said, " since he was hurt
— that is, since he recovered consciousness after
the blow — that he has exhibited the slighest tend-
ency to anything of the kind."
I hesitated, then I said: "Doctor, if you know
him; if this is the result of seeing you suddenly
(for he did not know who was to come) don't you
think — would it be well ? — Do you think it best for
you to be where he will see you when he begins to
revive ? "
The doctor stared at me, then at my patient.
" I don't know him — never saw him before in my
life so far as I know. What did you say his name
is ? Mum — oh, yes, Lathro — first and only
time I ever heard it. Oh, no, I suppose his nerves
are weak. The excitement of seeing me — the idea
of — a — er — consultation." I smiled, involuntarily.
'You don't know the man, doctor," said I. " He
is bomb proof as to nerves in that sense of the
word. He — a — There must be some other reason.
He must have mistaken you for some one else. I
My Patient's Story. 223
am sorry to trouble you, doctor, but would you
kindly step into the other room ? He will open his
eyes now, you see."
When, a moment later, my patient regained con-
sciousuess, he glanced about him furtively, like a
hunted man. He did not look like himself.
He examined my face closely — suspiciously,
I thought — for a moment. Then I laughed lightly,
and said: "Well, old fellow, you've been trying
your hand at a faint. That's a pretty way to treat
a friend. I come in to see you; you step out to
nobody knows where — to no man's land — and give
me no end of trouble rowing you back to our
shore. What did you eat for dinner that served
you that kind of a trick ?"
He looked all about the room again, examined
my face, and then smiled, for the first time since I
had known him, nervously, and said:
" I think my digestion must be pretty badly out
of order. I'll declare I saw double when you came
in. I thought there were two of you ; and the
other one — wasn't you."
I laughed ; " That is good. Two of me, but the
other one wasn't me. Well, thank heaven there is
only one of me up to date."
He smiled, but seemed disturbed still. I decided
to ask him a direct question :
" Well now, just suppose there had been two of
me — is that an excuse for you to faint ? Does as-
sociating with one of me try you to that extent that
two of me would prostrate you ?"
224 My Patient's Story.
He did not take me up with his old manner. He
was listless and absent. I said that I would go
down to the office and order some wine and return
at once. I slipped into the other room, and with
my finger on my lips motioned to Dr. Hamilton to
pass out quietly before me.
I followed him. " There is something wrong,
Doctor," I said : " I am sorry, but I shall have to
ask you to go without seeing him again. I can't
tell you why yet, but I'll try to find out and let you
know. Order some champagne sent up to me,
please, as you go out, and I will see you as soon as
The moment I re-entered the room, my patient,
whose restless eyes met mine as I opened the door,
said : " I thought you were talking to some one."
" I was," said I carelessly ; a bell-boy. I ordered
wine. It will be up soon." Then I changed the
subject ; but he was nervous and unlike himself
and none of the old topics interested him.
When the door opened for the boy with the wine
an expression of actual terror passed over my pa-
tient's face. When I left him a half hour later I
was puzzled and anxious.
The moment I entered his room on the following
day he said : " I thought you had planned to have
another doctor come and look me over, yesterday."
He was watching me closely as he spoke : " Did
I hear you mention his name ?"
My Patient's Story. 22$
Ah, thought I, here is a mystery in spite of Dr.
Hamilton's denial. I will try him.
" Yes," I said, " I had decided to ask the best
Homeopathic doctor I know, a skilful man, espe-
cially successful in diagnosing cases, to overhaul you
and see if he agrees with me that you ought to be
on your feet this blessed minute, if my diagnosis of
your case is entirely right. I don't see why you are
still so weak. He may find the spring that I have
missed. Why ?"
" Did you — I am not acquainted with the doctors
here, — I think you said his name is — ?"
" I have not mentioned his name to you," I
said, " but the one I had in mind is Dr. Hamilton
of Madison Avenue."
There was no doubt about it, the color rose
slowly to his face, and he was struggling for self-con-
trol. At length he said : " No, I do not wish to
see another doctor. I am perfectly satisfied with
you. I am — I say — no, positively do not ask him;
that is, do not ask anyone to come unless I know
and definitely agree to it. And I certainly shall
want to know who he is first."
All this was wholly foreign to the man, to his
nature and habit.
" Tell me," I said, " what you have against Dr.
Hamilton, for I cannot fail to see that there is
something behind all this."
He did not reply for some time ; then he said
wearily, but with great depth of feeling.
226 My Patients Story.
'' I suppose I may as well tell you. I cannot
forgive him for an injury I did him long ago."
I did not say anything nor did I look at him.
Presently he went on hoarsely ; " If I had only in-
jured him, perhaps I could get over it but I took
a mean advantage of — I did it through a woman
who liked him — and whom he — loved and trusted."
There was another long silence; then I said;
' You were right to tell me, Lathro. You need
not fear that I will betray you to him, and he does
not know you. He did not recognize you either
before or after you fainted. Of course I knew
there was something wrong. He will not come
He sprang to his feet, and a wave of red surged
into his face. " I knew it! I knew I had seen him!
I was sure it was not a delusion," he said. " He
was here. No, he would not know me. He never
saw me. I did not injure him like a man, I struck
from behind a woman. A woman who cared for
his respect, and I let him blame her. I suppose I
could get over it if it were not for that. I came
back here partly to let him know, if I could some
way, that she was not to blame "—there was an-
other long silence — " and partly to get rid of
myself. Russia did not do it, — Turkey, — France —
none of them. I thought perhaps he would — I
had some sort of a wild idea that he might settle
with me some way. I have carried that forged
cheque in my brain, until — "
I started visibly. I had had no idea that it was
My Patient's Story. 227
so bad as this. I changed my position to hide or
cover the involuntary movement I had made, but
he had seen it and the color died out of his face.
He forced himself to begin again. " I carried that
forged check," he was articulating now with horri-
ble distinctness, " wherever I went. She never
knew anything about it. She knew I was — she
thought, or feared, that I might be somewhat —
what you Americans call crooked; but she did not
know the truth, not until the very last. She knew
that I had been unreliable in some ways long ago;
but she did not dream of the worst. At last, —
sometimes I think I was a fool to have done it, —
but I told her. I told her the whole truth, and —
she left me. She had borne everything till then.
I think she came here. Before long I followed.
She told me not to, and I said I would not ; but
of course I did. I could not help it.
I knew then, and I know now, that I am putting
myself into the clutches of the law ; but I do not
care — not now — since I cannot find Florence
He pronounced the name as if it were a treasure
wrung from him by force. " It is the only really
criminal thing I ever did. I do not know why I
did it. They say that crime — a taste for it, de-
velops slowly, by degrees. Maybe so ; but not
with me, not with me.
I had money enough ; but — oh, my God ! how I
hated him. I saw that he was growing to love
her without knowing it. I often heard them
228 My Patient's Story.
talking together. They did not know it, and if
they had it could not have been more innocent ; but
I was madly jealous, for the first time in my life.
I determined to make him think ill of her, and
yet I said just now that forgery was my only crime.
That was worse, by far, but I believe it is not a
crime in law. "
He smiled scornfully. " I have outgrown all
that now. The storm has left me the wreck you
see ; but I thought it all out last night, and deter-
mined to tell you. You are to tell — him — for her
sake," he said between his set teeth.
" He may see her yet some day. She will never
return to me — God bless her ! God help us both !"
" No, she will never return to you nor to anyone
else," I said, as gently as I could.
He sprang up with the energy of a maniac. " How
do you know? What do you know ?" he demanded.
" I only know that she is dead, my friend," I
said, placing my hand on his arm, " and that Dr.
Hamilton does not wish to punish you. I heard
it all; the story of the forgery of his name, and
that a Florence Campbell was in some way con-
nected with it. I heard it from him long, long
ago; but he does not know that you are Tom
Campbell. You are safe."
" Does not wish to punish me! I am safe! Great
God, no one could punish me. I do that. Safe !
Oh, the irony of language!"
There was a long pause. He had gone to the
window and was staring out into the darkness.
My Patient's Story. 229
Presently the sound of convulsive sobbing filled
the room; I thought best to remain near the door
and make no effort to check his grief with words.
At last the storm spent itself. He came slowly
into the middle of the room and stood facing me.
At length he said:
" One of the greatest punishments is gone, thank
God. Florence Campbell is dead, you say. Do
you know what it is, Doctor, to wish that one you
loved was dead ?"
" Yes, yes." I said ; but it is best for you not to
talk any more — nor think, just now — not of that —
not of that."
He broke in impatiently — " Don't you know me
well enough yet to know that that sort of thing —
that sort of professional humbug is useless? Must
not talk more of that — nor think of it, indeed !
What else do you suppose I ever think of? The
good men who are bad and the bad ones who are
good — the puppets of our recent conversations ?
Suppose we boil it down a little. Am I a bad man ?
That is a question that puzzles me. Am I a good
one ? At least I can answer///^ — and yet I never
did but one criminal deed in my whole life, and I
have done a great many so-called good ones to set
over against it."
"Then you can answer neither question with a
single word," I said. He took my hand and
pressed it with the frenzy of a new hope.
" At least one man's philosophy is not all words,"
230 My Patient's Story.
he said. " You act upon your theories. You are
the only one I ever knew who did."
" Perhaps I am the only one you ever gave the
chance," I replied, still holding his hand.
We stood thus silent for a moment, then he said
with an inexpressible accent of satire : " Would
you advise me to try it, doctor, with anyone else?"
I deliberated some time before I replied. Then
I said : " No, I am sorry to say that I fear it would
not be safe. There is still so much tiger in the
human race. No, do not tell your story again to
any one ; it can do no good. Most certainly I
would advise you not to try it ever again."
As I left the room he said : " True, true. It can
do no good, none whatever."
The next day he left. I never saw him again.
Two years later I received a kind letter from
him in which he greatly over-estimated all I had
done for him. The letter came from St. Peters-
burg and was signed " T. Lathro Campbell, Col.
I fancied, in spite of his letter, that he would
rather sever all connection with this country, and
feel that he had no ties nor past ; so I never an-
swered his letter.
Sometimes I wonder if he misunderstood my
silence, and accepted it as a token of unfriendli-
ness — and yet — well, I have never been able to
decide just what would be least painful to him ; so
I let it drift into years of silence, and perhaps,
after all, these very good intentions of mine may
My Patient's Story. 231
be only cobble-stones added to the paving of the
streets of a certain dread, but very populous city
which is, in these days of agnosticism quite a mat-
ter of jest in polite society.
Who shall say ? Which would he prefer, friendly
communication or silence and forgetfulness ?
"PUSHED BY UNSEEN HANDS."
By HELEN H. GARDENER.
These tales illustrate strange influences that shape human action and
seem to lie 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
Helen Gardener is conspicuous in the conception of plot and the de-
velopment of character.
The stories are vital with earnest thought. . . . This author
gives indication of having come to stay.
CHARLESTON (S. C.) NEWS.
All of the stories are striking and thoughtful. Some of them are
very dramatic and their literary quality is marked enough to enable
even a careless reader to enjoy them.
An artist reproduces nature in such a way that we recognize it as real
or ideal. The ideal can be as real to us as any scene beheld with our
open eyes. . . . "Pushed by Unseen Hands" is a collection of
short stories so realistic as to leave no doubt of their actuality.
NEW ORLEANS PICAYUNE.
A number of good short stories, most of which turn on some of the
mysterious facts that lie in that borderland between the seen and the un-
seen, so fascinating to the imagination and so baffling to inquiry. Miss
Gardener's touch is very exquisite and she draws her mental pictures
with the hand of a master, showing in a few rapid lines more sharp and
attractive characteristics than many author's can in labored pages.
As a writer of short stories Helen Gardener has achieved an enviable
reputation, and her new book gives indication that she does not intend
to relinquish this charming method of giving to her readers pleasure
with profit, whatever else she may do.
Miss Gardener has been subjected to much censure for her boldness
and frankness with which she expresses her views on some subjects not
usually discussed in public. The Orthodox have ever been prone to con-
found the surgical and the scandalous. . . . From a literary point
of view the stories are vivid and artistic, while as to their motives and
spirit they are farther removed from the prurient and scandalous than
most of those who censure her. She is a woman of remarkable gifts
and of superb courage.
Paper, 50 Cents; Cloth, $1.00.
ARENA PUBLISHING CO., Copley Square, Boston, Mass.
From the press of the Arena Publishing Company.
Dujo Powerful Kouels on the ^floral Stanbarb.
Price, cloth, $1.00; paper, 50 cents.
IS THIS YOUR SON, J1Y LORD?
It is the opinion of some of the best contemporary
critics that this is the most powerful American novel
written in this generation. It is the fearless protest of a
high spiritual nature against the hideous brutality of an
unchristian social code. It is a terrible expose of conven-
tional immorality and hypocrisy. Every high-minded
woman who desires the true progression of her sex will
want to touch the inspiriting power of this book.
No braver voice was ever raised, no clearer note was ever
struck, for woman's honor and childhood's purity. — The Van-
A novel of power, and one which will stir up a breeze unless
certain hypocritical classes are wiser than they usually are. —
It comes very close to any college man who has kept his eyes
open. When we finish we may say, not, " Is This Your Son,
My Lord?" but "Is it I?" — Nassau Literary Magazine,
Is a remarkable book — a daring arraignment of "society"
and the public conscience of what we are wont to call an
advanced and refined Christian civilization, for the widely dif-
ferent standards by which the " powers that be " measure the
morality, virtue and respectability of men and women. They
are alike human beings, and members of the same human fam-
ily ; through what alchemy, then, does vice in one lose its
viciousness in the other ? — Detroit Sunday Tribune.
Price, cloth, $1.00; paper, 50 cents.
PRAY YOU, SIR, WHOSE DAUGHTER?
"The civil and canon law," writes Mrs. Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, "state and church alike, make the mothers of the
race a helpless, ostracized class, pariahs of a corrupt civilization.
In Helen Gardener's stories I see the promise of such a work of
fiction that shall paint the awful facts of woman's position in
living colors that all must see and feel. Those who know the
sad facts of woman's life, so carefully veiled from society at
large, will not consider the pictures in this story overdrawn.
Some critics say that everyone knows and condemns these
facts in our social life, and that we do not need fiction to inten-
sify the public disgnst. But to keep our sons and daughters
innocent, we must warn them of the dangers that beset
them. Ignorance under no circumstances ensures safety.
Honor protected by knowledge is safer than innocence pro-
tected by ignorance."
For sale by all newsdealers, or sent postpaid by
Arena Publishing Co., Boston, Mass.
"A THOUGHTLESS YES."
by helen h. gardener.
Some Press Comments.
Marked by a quaint philosophy, shrewd, sometimes pungent reflec-
tion, each one possesses- enough purely literary merit to make its way
and hold its own. " The Lady of the Club " is indeed a terrible study
of social abuses and problems, and most of the others suggest more in
the same direction. — N. Y. Trubine.
All the stories are distinguished by a remarkable strength, both of
thought and language. — Pittsburg Bulletin.
Will do considerable to stir up thought and breed a " divine discon-
tent " with vested wrong and intrenched injustice. The stories are
written in a bright, vivacious style. — Boston Transcript.
She appreciates humor and makes others appreciate it. All of the
stories, whether humorous or pathetic, have a touch of realism, and are
written clearly and forcibly. — Boston Herald.
Bright and light, gloomy and strange, cleverly imagined, fairly amus.
ing, tragic and interesting, by turns. — N. Y. Independent.
Thoughtfully conceived and beautifully written. — Chicago Times.
Each story is a literary gem. — San Francisco Call.
Full of wit and epigram ; very enjoyable and profitable reading. Just
long enough to induce the wish that they were a little longer — an ex-
cellent feature in a story. — Portland (Me.) Transcript.
Helen Gardener puts moral earnestness and enthusiasm for humanity
into her stories. Even her pessimism is better than the nerveless super-
ficiality of her rivals. — Unity (Chicago.)
Illustrate the indubitable fact that the times are out of joint. —
Charleston (S. C.) Neivs.
Exceptionally excellent. Convey a moral lesson in a manner always
vivid, invariably forcible, sometimes startling. — Arena.
The author is not morbid ; she is honestly thoughtful. The mystery
and consequences of heredity is the motive of some of the strongest. —
N. Y. Herald.
With a terseness and originality positively refreshing. On subjects
to suit the thoughtful, sad, or gay. — Mihvaukee Journal.
Have made their mark as new, original, and strong. She could not
write ungracefully if she tried, and this book is like a varied string of
pearls, opals, and diamonds. — N. Y. Truth.
A work of fiction by one of the few feminine philosophers who have
boldly faced the problems of life. — Bel/ord's Magazine.
Bright, thoughtful, and taking. Written by a woman with brains,
who dares to think for herself. — The Writer (Boston.)
Paper, 50 Cents; Cloth, $1.00.
ARENA PUBLISHING CO., Copley Square, Boston, Hass.
From the press of the Arena Publishing Company.
" H :ie Hit of the year/
The Literary Hit
of the Season
Price, paper, 50 cents ; cloth, $1.25.
AN UNOFFICIAL PATRIOT.
Have you read Helen H. Gardener's new war story, "An
Unofficial Patriot"? No? Then read what competent
critics say of this remarkable historical story of ths Civil
" Helen H. Gardener has made for herself within a very few-
years an enviable fame for the strength and sincerity of her
writing on some of the most important phases of modern social
questions. Her most recent novel, now published under the title
of ' An Unofficial Patriot,' is no less deserving of praise. As an
artistic piece of character study this book is possessed of supe-
rior qualities. There is nothing in it to offend the traditions of
an honest man, north or south. It is written with an evident
knowledge of the circumstances and surroundings such as might
have made the story a very fact, and, more than all, it is written
with an assured sympathy for humanity and a recognition of
right and wrong wherever found. As to the literary merit of
the book and its strength as a character study, as has been said
heretofore, it is a superior work. The study of Griffith Daven-
port, the clergyman, and of his true friend, ' Lengthy ' Patterson,
is one to win favor from every reader. There are dramatic
scenes in their association that thrill and touch the heart.
Davenport's two visits to President Lincoln are other scenes
worthy of note for the same quality, and they show an apprecia-
tion of the feeling and motive of the president more than histori-
cal in its sympathy. Mrs. Gardener may well be proud of her
success in the field of fiction."
" Helen Gardener's new novel, ' An Unofficial Patriot,' which
is just out, will probably be the most popular and salable novel
since ' Robert Elsmere.' It is by far the most finished and
ambitious book yet produced by the gifted author and well de-
serves a permanent place in literature.
" The plot of the story itself guarantees the present sale. It
is ' something new under the sun ' and strikes new sensations,
new situations, new conditions. To be sure it is a war story, and
war stories are old and hackneyed. But there has been no such
war story as this written. It gives a situation new in fiction and
tells the story of the war from a standpoint which gives the book
priceless value as a sociological study and as supplemental
" The plot is very strong and is all the more so when the
reader learns that it is true. The story is an absolutely true one
and is almost entirely a piece of history written in form of fic-
tion, with names and minor incidents altered."
For sale by all nevjsdealers, or sent postpaid by
Arena Publishing Co., Boston, Mass.