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Full text of "The witching hour"


AUGUSTUS 
THOMAS 





THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

RIVERSIDE 




"I'M AWFULLY IN LOVE WITH YOU " 



THE 
WITCHING HOUR 



BY 

AUGUSTUS THOMAS 



% 

ILLUSTRATED FROM f 
SCENES IN THE PLAY ; 



NEW YORK 

GROSSET & DUNLAP 1 



PUBLISHERS 



AMrt 



Published by Arrangement with Harper & Brothers 



P.S 3 



Copyright, 1908, by AUGUSTUS THOMAS. 

All rights reserved. 
Published October, 1908. 



THE WITCHING HOUR 



*fc 

i 



- 

1 

. 



THE WITCHING HOUR 



'"PHE audience that filled Macauley's Theatre was 
1 one of the most intellectual and fashionable 
that Louisville had ever seen. The lighter operas 
were not uncommon, but Wagner was a curiosity if 
not yet a fad, and both the curious and the devoted 
were in attendance. The curtain had gone up on the 
final act. 

Jack Brookfield was leaning against the back wall 
of the auditorium. He was watching the occupants 
of the proscenium-box just over the drummer more 
especially the man and the boy and girl who occupied 
the three chairs in the back of the box. Besides 
Brookfield himself these three were perhaps the only 
persons not intent upon the scene on the stage. 

Brookfield could see, as he watched her through 
his glasses, that his niece the girl in the box was 
annoyed. He knew her temperament well enough to 
interpret accurately the sudden frown, the spasmodic 
twitching at one corner of the shapely mouth. He 
also knew well enough the man who was breathing 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

over her shoulder to divine that some offence was 
being given. 

The boy in the box watched the couple beside him 
with jealous eyes. 

Presently the man, with a motion that confessed 
the clandestine character of his speech, oblivious of 
or indifferent to the boy who watched him, turned 
with the directness of one positively spoken to and 
looked across the theatre into Brookfield's glasses. 
Brookfield shifted his gaze to the stage, but not quick 
ly enough to avoid the man's detection of the fact 
that he was being watched. The girl, who sat slight 
ly in front of him, was in some way, though without 
communication, aware of his action, and, turning, she 
also looked at her uncle. But Brookfield was now in 
tent on the stage, and the man in the box, finding 
himself no longer watched, continued his addresses. 

"This isn't an opera audience," he said; "it isn't 
an opera company. Some day you will see the real 
thing at Co vent Garden or at La Scala." 

The girl shrugged her shoulders. 

"Oh yes, you will," he persisted; "I'll take you 
there." 

The girl spoke to him obliquely behind her fan. 
"I wish you wouldn't talk to me now I want to 
listen to the music." 

Hardmuth leaned back in his chair and readjusted 
his shirt bosom, which was bulging from the waist 
coat. He turned to the boy, and in rough playful 
ness put a strong hand on his knee and gripped it 
viciously. The boy, angrier than before, threw Hard- 
muth's hand from his knee with an exclamation that 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

caused those near them to breathe a sibilant expostu 
lation, and the three persons in the front of the box 
looked back inquiringly. The girl, flushed with em 
barrassment at the attention they had attracted, 
and, wishing also to fix that attention upon the 
proper offender, said: 

"You see, you are disturbing the audience." 

"That shows we're the real thing," Hardmuth an 
swered, laughing audibly. 

The indignant persons in the parquet shifted un 
easily in their seats. The girl's mother turned to the 
couple with a warning finger on her lips, and with an 
admonitory "Viola" to her daughter and a vexed 
"Clay" to the boy, the box-party subsided into quiet. 
But as the incident passed and the others became ab 
sorbed in the action on the stage, Hardmuth hitched 
his chair a trifle closer to Viola and resumed his stac 
cato whisper over her shoulder. 

"You know when I said I'd take you there I didn't 
mean you'd go as a prima donna and that I should 
go as an impresario don't make any mistake about 
that." He touched her suggestively on the elbow 
and leaned back with a smile of self-satisfaction. 4 

Hardmuth 's experience with the women he had 
known had taught him that an attempted approach 
to their favor through compliment and delicate ser 
vice was good time wasted. He believed that the 
atmosphere of shyness which surrounds most girls 
of Viola Campbell's age was assumed that it was 
a little barrier of hypocrisy before which they kept 
in waiting the timid applicant while they examined 
him at leisure. His experience had justified his 

3 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

belief that this insulation could be broken through, 
perhaps utterly dissipated, by a few diplomatic but 
no less forceful shocks to their sensibilities. He had 
also by nature and by cultivation the safe and ten 
tative method of approach in which the cheap poli 
tician and corruptionist is skilled. With him insult 
ing audacity masqueraded as tolerable playfulness. 
If rebuked, it was gaucherie; if accepted and suc 
cessful, it was conquest. He leaned slightly to his 
left, and through the tail of his eye endeavored to 
ascertain how Viola had taken his sally. Perhaps she 
had not understood him. He remembered previous 
occasions when he had been too indirect. He there 
fore returned to the charge. 

"I'm not going as a Cook's agent don't mean to 
take the entire seminary class." He paused watch 
fully. "And I think I could arrange it with mother." 

The sextet on the stage was finishing at that mo 
ment, and, under cover of the applause that fol 
lowed, Viola leaned forward in pretended comment 
to Ellinger, who sat in the front of the box with Viola's 
mother and Mrs. Whipple. Hardmuth was in doubt. 
The conductor lifted his baton for an encore, the 
house recomposed itself. Viola was too inexperienced 
to proceed courageously with her half -formed inten 
tion to change seats with Ellinger; moreover, there 
was another admonitory glance from her mother, so 
she fell back and kept her place. 

Hardmuth admired the ample arch of her neck, as 
he would have admired a similar point of excellence in 
a Kentucky horse. During the half -minute since he 
had spoken to her there had gathered under the fine 

4 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

outline of her cheek and partly overspread her throat 
some inter-blending spots of red, like thumb marks. 
They were unusual but not especially novel trophies 
to Hardmuth, and they had not yet been danger sig 
nals ; the girl was certainly not as indifferent to him 
as she had pretended. Hardmuth was so constituted 
that in the absence of direct evidence he would never 
interpret a departure from indifference as a sign of 
disfavor. Viola's agitation encouraged him. 

"I said I thought I could fix it with mother, and 
I'm sure I could fix it with your uncle Jack." 

An instant look of relief came over Viola's face at 
the mention of her uncle. A sense of protection was 
always present with her whenever she thought of 
him; there was no danger from this man at her side, 
nor from any man, while she had Uncle Jack. The 
expression of relief lilted into half a smile. Hardmuth 
tapped her approvingly and dominantly on the elbow, 
and added: 

"And I will fix it!" 

That she drew away her arm, that she turned with a 
frown above open eyes and with lips parted in a swift 
impulse of resentment, meant only spirited going to 
Hardmuth. She had smiled at his proposal to fix it 
with Uncle Jack, and by the method of Hardmuth 's 
measure negotiations had been opened. 

Brookfield had moved from his position at the back 
wall to the newel-post of the balcony stairway which 
mounted from the broad foyer of the theatre. He 
was thinking of JFIardmuth's consciousness of the fact 
that he had bcyc-n watched. The thought recurred to 
him vaguely that he had read or heard it said some- 

5 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

where that almost any person, if regarded intently, 
would turn about and look at the gazer. He was won 
dering whether it was merely superstition or fact, 
whether it was a power resident in the one who looked 
or a sensitiveness belonging to the one observed, when 
without apparent cue or suggestion he felt a tingling 
at the roots of his hair and a slow creeping through 
the nerves of his shoulders. He turned with an un 
wonted sensation of awe and found himself looking 
into the eyes of an old man who stood in the private 
doorway that led from the foyer of the theatre to 
the manager's office. 

Brookfield saw only the eyes. 

He had a misty impression of a forehead surmount 
ed by white hair. There was also the impression of 
a smile tolerant and fraternal ; of a figure grace 
ful and dignified. There was the sense of a second 
figure at its side, but if Brookfield had been asked to 
tell what he saw he would have said: "Only a pair of 
eyes." 

The gaze was but momentary. The old man seemed 
to defer to his companion, whom Brookfield recog 
nized as the most distinguished editor in the South; 
and then he saw the two elderly men go back into the 
manager's office. 

Brookfield had the habit of excessive candor, es 
pecially with himself. He had a fair capacity for self- 
analysis and an absence of conceit that left him with 
an accurate sense of proportion where his own quali 
ties were concerned. He found himself at the mo 
ment disturbed by a distinct sense of inferiority, not 
to say guilt; he was puzzled to account for it. Was 

6 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

it due to the fact that he had been apparently sur 
prised in his surveillance of the party in the box? 
Was it something about himself that he subconscious 
ly felt the editor might impart to the stranger ? Was 
it any shade of implied superiority in the tolerant 
smile of the old man? As he questioned himself he 
felt that it was none of these. He had been conscious 
of the feeling at the moment when he first turned and 
met the stranger's look and before the other considera 
tions had been evolved. 

Who was the man ? 

Brookfield would know. He handed the borrowed 
opera-glasses to the usher and tiptoed as quietly as 
possible from the foyer, through the swing-to doors 
of baize into the long lobby of the theatre, from which 
a door opened into the manager's office at right 
angles to the one in which the two old gentlemen had 
stood. But his moment of introspection and hesi 
tancy had cost him the desired information for the 
nonce, for the two men were just crossing the side 
walk at the farther end of the lobby. Brookfield fol 
lowed some forty feet to the main entrance, where he 
paused and watched them cross Walnut Street di 
agonally to the left and enter the Pendennis Club. 

The Pendennis Club at half-past ten was practically 
deserted. One reason for this was the unusual op 
position of a Wagner opera at Macauley's; another 
reason was that the club is what the younger set 
called an old man's club. The editor and his guest 
peeped into the spacious and home-like library, with 
its carpet of green and its furniture of mahogany and 

7 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Russia leather, and, as they hesitated a moment at 
the door of the billiard-room, a colored boy came for 
ward to take their hats. 

"No," said the editor, "we are going back again. 
What will you drink, Mr. Justice?" 

"Is that imperative?" asked the older man. 

"It is customary, sir." 

"I think I will watch you." The editor gave his 
order. "And, boy, bring it up-stairs the little room 
where the piano is." 

"Yes, sir." 

The gentlemen mounted the two short flights lead 
ing to the second floor, and moved forward to the lit 
tle room which, in the remodelled club, has since been 
thrown into the dining-hall. 

"Go ahead." The Justice waved his hand easily 
toward the upright piano standing at the wall. "I'd 
rather hear you ramble over this key -board than 
listen to that organized and pompous procession of 
sound across the street." 

"The dry spells are a little wearisome, but you'll 
certainly like this." 

Then the plump but agile and almost feminine 
fingers drifted easily and sympathetically over the 
keys. 

When the darky boy came in with the carafe and 
siphon and the clinking ice, the Justice was lean 
ing back in his easy-chair and the editor was finish 
ing his sympathetic approximation of the Wagner 
melody. The music ceased as the boy put his tray 
on the table. 

"What is that?" asked the Justice. 

8 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"That's bourbon, sir," replied the boy, with celerity. 

"I was speaking to the Colonel." 

"Excuse me." The boy left him. 

"That's the melody of the sextet that you would 
have heard if you had taken my advice and remained 
a moment longer." Then, as his thought went back 
to the theatre, and the subject of their conversation 
before they left it, the editor said: 

"What do you want to know about Brookfield?" 

"In the first place, I wish to identify him. Is 
there another Brookfield in the city?" 

"None that I know." Then quickly: "Except his 
sister, Mrs. Campbell; they are the last members of 
the family." 

"The Brookfield I mean," said the Justice, "is a 
man who buys pictures." 

"That's Jack." 

"Does he sell them?" 

"Well, not as a business, but I think he is human. 
Have you some pictures to sell?" 

The Justice shook his head. "I understand that 
Mr. Brookfield, of Louisville, bought a picture which 
I had coveted for several years. I don't know that 
I could buy it. When I saw it at the dealer's in 
New York I felt that its price was beyond the purse 
of a man in my position. Do you know Mr. Brook- 
field?" 

"Painfully." 

"Why painfully?" 

"Well, I've made some reckless contributions to 
his bank account. Mr. Brookfield runs a gambling- 
house." 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Oh! You mean that you would not care to com 
municate with him personally?" 

"I don't mean that on the contrary, I don't know 
of anything that would give me greater pleasure than 
a half -hour or half -day, or, for that matter, a half-year 
with Jack Brookfield. There isn't a more entertain 
ing man in the State. Do you wish me to see him for 
you?" 

"I'd like to know if he has the picture in question, 
and if he would consider a reasonable offer for it." 

"Why don't you see him yourself, or with me?" 

"I have my reservation on the morning train for 
Washington." 

"See him to-night," prompted the editor. 

"Is that possible?" 

"We can find out, and I am almost sure it is. He 
has this box-party with his sister and niece across the 
street. Most probably he will take them home and 
then go to his game. At any rate, we can go over 
and ask him, or we can wait a half -hour and telephone 
him." 

"I should think telephoning the better plan," said 
the Justice. "If we spoke to him now the inquiry 
would have somewhat the color of a request. If his 
game is open and the gentleman is doing business 
when we telephone, it would be no particular hard 
ship to receive a caller for a few minutes." 

"Are you sure, Mr. Justice," the editor asked, with 
a smile, ' ' that you would be superior to the blandish 
ments of the fickle goddess if you came within ear-shot 
of the chips?" 

"I should be interested to see," the old jurist an- 
10 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

swered. "I haven't made a bet on anything more 
important than that little game of penny ante that 
the Secretary used to have at the Shoreham since I 
have been in Washington. Do you remember that 
week at Chamberlain's, when Raymond was playing 
at the National?" 

"Perfectly. Won't you change your mind about 
this?" indicating the carafe. "I mean to have an 
other myself." 

The Justice gave a little wave of assent, the editor 
touched the push-button by the mantel, and -the talk 
drifted into a field of fellowship with an atmosphere 
of chance and good living and retrospection. 

Brookfield paced thoughtfully the long lobby of the 
old theatre. Despite the fact that his figure was what 
a Louisville darky would have described as "kind 
o' settled," there was about it certain marks of the 
athlete. The chest was deep, the head well set on 
the shoulders. When he reached the end of his beat 
and started back, the turn and the first step to the 
rear were propelled from the ball of the foot that had 
arrested the forward motion there was no halt and 
turn-tabling on the two feet. As some thought added 
emphasis to his motion, there was a "boring in" with 
the left shoulder that is sometimes noticeable in one 
who has had reasonable practise at sparring. He took 
a hand from his pocket. It wandered uneasily, but 
not nervously, over his cheek and chin. The hand 
was broad and long. There was vitality in the thumb 
and imagination in the outer ball of the palm. It 
had latent grip. The fingers tapered, but not un- 

ii 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

pleasantly. Brookfield's face had more stren< .1 than 
beauty. It might have been thought to Cairy too 
much flesh if the planes of it had been >< "" 'lied. 
The protuberances over the eyes were men-,, . ,. The 
nose was ample in bridge and profile, sligl more 
than aquiline with that spread of nostrils which 
some associate with economy. The lips were full and 
saved from sensuality by the length and firmness of 
the upper one. The nether lip had an oratorical pout. 
The eyes were full. At their outer corners the phreno 
logical bump of calculation overhung and in certain 
portions hid the upper lid. Below the eyes there was 
an inclination to puff. The eye itself was the uncer 
tain color of smoked glass. When Brookfield smiled 
his eyes were almost blue; when he swore and he 
swore occasionally they were quite black; but they 
were always level, fearless, unwavering. The head 
was round and fairly large. The ears were noticeably 
low in position, indicating a capacious brain-pan. At 
the base of the skull behind there was a fulness not 
altogether pleasing to the sight, but, like all men 
similarly endowed, its possessor had an occult and 
reciprocal understanding of all dumb animals. 

As Brookfield paced back and forth he endeavored 
to get his mind away from the stranger who had so 
singularly attracted him and the old lobby was po 
tent with suggestion. Except for an occasional single 
picture here and there, which he recognized as recent 
additions, its walls closely and irregularly covered 
with faded and fading photographs, were as he re 
membered them to have been for the past twenty 
years. Favorites of the theatre-going public of the 

12 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

John Owens and the elder Davenport were 
repi^ented there; Goodwin, juvenile and sleek and 
s ]i .1- -s Brookfield remembered him in the early 
da^ 'no'/iis popularity; Joe Emmett, another helpful 
pat- ,-pf Brookfield's establishment ; John Raymond, 
with whom, when it had been necessary to leave the 
table for the theatre, he had repaired to the old 
actor's dressing-room and continued the contest by 
matching silver dollars during waits. These and hun 
dreds of others gazed at him with the well-remem 
bered looks of early friends. 

There was a patter of metallic taps on the tiles 
behind him. Brookfield turned to meet a shaggy, 
rheumatic and over-fed dog, half Irish terrier and half 
bull. The dog wagged his stumpy tail and turned 
over on his back, all four paws in the air, at Brook- 
field's feet. Brookfield understood the request, and 
as he scratched the shaggy belly with the toe of his 
pump he said, "Where's your master, Bert where is 
he?" Bert interpreted the remark to be a request 
for his opinion upon the character of the massage, so 
he wriggled electrically and smiled dog fashion. Know 
ing that the manager of the theatre was not far off 
when the dog was in the lobby, Brookfield moved back 
toward the private office. The dog preceded him and 
stood expectantly at the second door, which was the 
one leading into the theatre. Brookfield opened it; 
the dog went into the auditorium, as was his undis 
puted privilege, and Brookfield followed. Bert pat 
tered down the side aisle and into the proscenium- 
box, by which Brookfield knew that the manager was 
probably on the stage. He desisted, therefore, from 

13 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

his purpose in following the dog, especially as his 
knowledge of the opera reminded him that it was 
nearing the final curtain. He stood looking over the 
audience. 

The distinctive charm of Macauley's Theatre is its 
somewhat antiquated model : a wide and shallow par 
quet floor surrounded by a dress-circle, dish-shaped, 
the rise a little more acute than that favored by 
modern architecture, but making it possible for every 
one in the theatre to see everybody else, and giving 
to it that feeling of intimacy and homelikeness so dear 
to the Southern heart. Except for a few purchasers 
who had drifted in from the hotels the small percent 
age of transient visitors the ground-floor members 
of the audience of this night were almost a family. 

It was an assemblage melancholy for Brookfield in 
its suggestion. His business made him the intimate 
and confidant of many of the men present, who had 
passed him with slight recognition in the intermis 
sions. His profession had estranged him from many 
of the families represented, in whose homes he had 
been a welcome visitor two-and- twenty years before. 
His position, as he stood there alone at the rear of 
the foyer, symbolized his social isolation. 

Brookfield was not made for self-pity, but there 
came upon him to-night an overwhelming sense of the 
distress which his perverse course had brought upon 
those dearest to him. He looked toward the box in 
which, as he could see by Ellinger's pose, the old 
sport was scratching the manager's dog, more inter 
ested in the animal than in the opera. He felt a keen 
remorse that, aside from the boy, whose record was 

14 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

yet to be made, the only escorts he had been able to 
provide for his sister and his niece had been this old 
card-player, Lew Ellinger, and Hardmuth, the sinister 
attorney, whose attentions to Viola had evidently 
been distasteful. He felt an equally keen regret when 
he considered the boy, a talented and promising young 
architect just turned twenty, and reflected that but 
for the blighting profession to which he had himself 
been so devoted, he might now be the father of such 
a boy and the husband of the woman, serene and 
stately, whom the boy called mother. 

The finale of the opera rang out in vocal volume 
and flared through brass and reed, stirring in Brook- 
field a little of that militant resolve which sometimes 
rises Phcenixlike from the flame of remorse. There 
was the agitato of the conductor's baton, the sudden 
roll of the timbrels, the long note of principals and 
chorus, and the drop-curtain fell, displaying its wood 
ed scene of grazing sheep and watching shepherd, 
lake and distant hills. The great sunburst in the 
dome shone out, the audience fluttered to its feet. 
Brookfield, undecided and irresolute, passed through 
the lobby, with its faded photographs, to the side 
walk, and signalled for his automobile. 



II 

THE dining-room at Jack Brookfield's was nearly 
square in form, and larger than most city din 
ing-rooms even in a land of generous domestic archi 
tecture. 

One side of the room was half filled by a stately 
mantel -piece, not too floridly carved, of old marble 
brought from an Italian palace. A man of Brook- 
field's height, by stooping, could walk into the fire 
place ; the average girl, like Viola, for instance, might 
stand erect in it. Over the mantel and reaching to 
the ceiling there was the picture of a moonlit sea 
built into the trim. Near this a dependent cross- 
timber of the ceiling hid the electric lamps, whose 
rays fell upon painted sky and water with luminous 
brilliance and by their reflection gave to the room the 
mellowed light which was its only illumination. 

Brookfield had left orders for the supper, and when 
the party arrived from the theatre the plates were laid 
for the expected guests; each plate, with its flanking 
outriders of silver and ivory and glass, picked out 
from the dull mahogany with its individual square of 
Belgium lace. On the rich centrepiece of the same 
material lay a modest bank of red roses. 

In any department of taste Brookfield was either 
too sensitive or too well informed to offend by any 

16 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

sign of ostentation. The flowers were just enough; 
the glassware promised only Apollinaris and cham 
pagne; the forks prophesied a simple and digestible 
supply. Old Harvey, Brookfield's colored pantry 
man and nocturnal chef, stood by, a smiling guarantor 
of culinary excellence. 

As the four men waited the arrival of the ladies in 
the library during that moment of unavoidable delay 
which always occurs on such occasions, Lew Ellinger 
found time to leave them and join Harvey in the din 
ing-room. A stranger uninformed of the unblendable 
property of the color-line South of the Ohio might have 
fallen into the error of supposing that Ellinger and Har 
vey belonged to the same brotherhood. No word was 
spoken, but as the old bon vivant lifted his left hand, 
with the first two ringers slightly crooked and the 
thumb at a sufficient elevation, Harvey said, "Yes, 
suh; yes, suh," twice, and then again in mystic and 
lulling repetition as he handed Lew a Liliputian 
tumbler and a decanter without the stopper. As 
Ellinger poured the dark, red fluid into the glass 
with the measured accuracy of a practised pharmacian 
watching his graduate, he said: 

"You may put this bottle right in front of me at 
the supper-table, Harvey." 

"Yes, suh." 

"I've quit flirting with that giddy stuff years ago." 

"Yes, suh." 

Whether it was the recollection of this permanent 
and enforced separation or his failure to take the glass 
of water which Harvey handed him, there came into 
Ellinger's eyes a gentle moisture. He removed it 

17 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

with a needlessly sheer handkerchief which he 
found in his left cuff after a fluttering search else 
where. 

Ellinger heard himself inquired for in the next 
room. There was the hum of women's voices min 
gling with the deeper tones of the men, and he had 
just time to meet the party at the doorway. With 
a facile mendacity that deceived nobody, Lew 
said: 

"I've inspected everything, Jack, and it's perfect. 
Ladies, we are to be congratulated." 

"What a beautiful room!" Helen exclaimed, as they 
entered the dining-room. 

Brookfield deferred the compliment to her son. 

' ' Yours ? ' ' Mrs. Whipple exclaimed, afresh . ' ' Why, 
Clay, dear!" 

"There's one somewhat like it in a chateau in 
Tours," the boy confessed; "it's pretty hard, mother, 
to be entirely original." Then Jack came to his as 
sistance. 

"Clay's problem here was to follow his Touraine 
model, without the height of the original, and not 
have the room seem squat. I think he answered it 
by the refinement and number of the cross-beams; 
but however he did it he answered it satisfactorily, 
and that's sufficient success for a broiler." 

Hardmuth's laugh, which he offered as a recognition 
of Jack's pleasantry, was a too rasping enforcement 
of it, and turned an intended compliment into seem 
ing criticism. Clay frowned petulantly, but Brook- 
field, with a counterpointing tact which was a marked 
possession of his, continued : 

18 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"And I'm going to put the distinguished architect 
on my right." 

"Not Helen?" his sister inquired. 

"I want Helen where I can look at her." And 
Brookfield cast an explanatory glance toward the 
boy that would have revealed the situation to a 
mother much less intuitive than Helen Whipple, who 
already divined the rivalry between Hardmuth and 
her son and was grateful for Jack's sympathy. 

"We're seven, aren't we?" Jack hurried on. 

"We are seven," Lew recited, in labored repeti 
tion, with mildly literary enjoyment of possible quo 
tation. 

"And seven into sixty goes eight times and a half," 
Brookfield said, indicating the outline of the round 
table as he drew out his watch. 

"Into sixty?" Mrs. Campbell asked. She always 
needed a guidebook when conversing with her brother, 
who was wont to tease her. Ignoring her question, he 
fixed his look on the dial over which his thumb picked 
out the points. 

"Assume that I'm standing at twelve o'clock, Clay 
will sit eight minutes to my right, you will be two 
minutes of two, dear Alice, and Mr. Ellinger will be 
three - three. Helen, will you take that chair near 
five o'clock? Mr. Hardmuth will sit at seven, and 
that leaves Viola between Mr. Hardmuth and Clay, 
at about two minutes of nine." 

' ' Well, what do you think of that ?" Ellinger beamed, 
in mediocre admiration, as he found his chair between 
the two older women. "Isn't that just like him?" 

Helen remembered that it was. 

19 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"As like him as two peas," Ellinger rambled on, 
inconsequently. "Jack turns everything into a dia 
gram. I saw him draw an after-dinner speech once 
on a table-cloth. Yes, sir draw it, and it was a 
blamed good speech but to look at it reminded me 
of a dog's pedigree exactly." 

Helen would have understood the diagram quite 
as clearly as she understood Lew's similes, but she 
recalled without assistance that sculptor-like quality 
in Jack of mentally seeing all things, tangible or in 
tangible, in geometric plan. 

"This affectation of density concerning the place 
of honor doesn't deceive you and me, Miss Viola, does 
it?" Hardmuth asked, as they sat down. "We know 
it's to the right of the lady." 

"Uncle Jack selected Mrs. Whipple as the lady to 
sit opposite him, and Mr. Ellinger's at her right," she 
replied. 

"There's no lady opposite me, Viola," her uncle 
corrected; "our disposition of seven leaves that a 
vacant spot, as you see. It symbolizes the tragedy 
of a bachelor's life." 

"He means one of the tragedies," Ellinger stage- 
whispered to Helen, in mock consolation. 

"Exactly," added Hardmuth, from her left. "That 
tragedy pose of Mr. Brookfield's is what men in my 
business call an 'alibi.'" 

"And may I ask, Mr. Hardmuth, what men in 
your business do?" 

"Men in his business are the awful prosecuting at 
torneys of this country," Ellinger answered, warn- 
ingly. 

20 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

'You see the beauty of my method, Mrs. Whipple," 
Jack remarked, sagely. "Seating you between Mr. 
Hardmuth and a questionable person like Mr. Ellinger 
is what I call ' tempering justice w r ith mercy. ' ' 

"Do you understand what they're talking about?" 
Viola's mother asked, helplessly. 

"I try not to," Helen answered, smiling at Jack's 
metaphor. 

"Here's something, my dear sister, really addressed 
to your comprehension." And Brookfield indicated 
the cup Harvey had just put on Mrs. Campbell's 
plate. 

"I think it's gumbo," Ellinger whispered to Helen 
"chicken gumbo strained this old darky beats the 
world at it just enough of everything taste it 
see ? Notice how you get the chicken and the celery 
and the pepper and the gumbo and the salt and the 
consomme^ each one answerin' like a roll-call in a 
bible-class ain't it perfect?" 

Ellinger's voice seemed to fit in with the half-light 
of the room, the old finish of the furniture, and the 
ivory tint of the doilies. It was the voice of a vin 
tage a voice that could have issued only from that 
genial, ruddy face whose permeating good-nature was 
the compensation, and perhaps the product, of its 
dulness. Helen remembered Lew Ellinger in his 
early forties, more than twenty years before, when 
the hair, now white, carried only a tinge of gray at 
the temples and the short mustache was black. She 
remembered his clothes. That had been an epoch of 
wide braid and silk facings in men's wardrobes. She 
remembered being told that it was a point of pride 

21 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

with Lew never to be seen without a fresh pink in his 
button-hole. He was wearing a pink to-night. The 
voice had been mellow in those days. It was now al 
most demoralizing in its suggestion of creature com 
forts, in its muffled, oily, and smoky familiarity. 
Helen recalled Ellinger's reputation of that olden 
time "a perfect gentleman, reliably punctilious in 
all circumstances as long as a lady did not forget 
herself" despite which reassurement from the pass 
ing biographer grandma had not permitted mother 
to go driving with Mr. Ellinger. And here he was to 
night, smiling to Helen herself in quite disappointing 
harmlessness, his glowing face with its keen little 
eyes of blue presenting all the colors of an American 
flag. 

Through the mist of her "wandering attention Helen 
retrieved his voice and laid hold again of its message. 

" And then he varnishes the inside of the tomato 
with hot paraffin, lets it cool, and puts the ice-cream 
and the muskmelon inside of it," Ellinger was saying. 

Was he still talking of Harvey ? 

"And how long have you known him, Mr. Ellinger ?" 
Helen reconnoitred. 

"Why, he cooked for Jack's father." 

Harvey, of course. 

"Doesn't it seem good to you, Mrs. Whipple, to 
get back to Kentucky and some real cooking?" 

"It's wonderfully restful to be in the old home 
again." 

"But the cooking?" Ellinger pleaded. 

"Philadelphia has some pride in that field." 

"I know it," Ellinger admitted. "I remember eat- 

22 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ing my first oyster-crabs Newburg in a little red-brick 
hotel the old Belleville." 

"Bellevue," Helen corrected. 

"I meant Bellevue." And once more Lew's mem 
ory led him to revel in the description of a menu, 
this time the one that had framed the hallowed baby 
crabs. 

A term of special succulent stress caught the ear of 
Mrs. Campbell, Lew's other neighbor, and drew from 
her an inquiry. Mrs. Campbell's sympathy with the 
gastronomic tastes of the old sport was less feigned 
than Helen's, and Lew lived again the joy of the con 
noisseur over the phantom banquet he spread for 
her imagination in the vanished room of the famous 
old hostelry. 

Through the courses of terrapin and plover, as 
Harvey served them, Ellinger talked with the fluency 
of the amateur, sometimes to one, more frequently 
to six, his throaty tones caressingly lubricating his 
theme, and convincing almost the least sanguinary 
that the bonne bouche of this repast was the brain of 
the plover. This was secured, Lew explained, by 
holding the plover's severed head by its bill and nip 
ping one's front teeth through the paper-shell skull. 
His illustration of this incisive process, and the 
luscious though scarcely audible inhalation that was 
an unavoidable part of it, sent little shivers over 
Viola's shoulders. Ellinger, temporarily estopped of 
speech, pointed to the girl's face, tensely awry in 
mimetic contemplation of his own, and the general 
laugh released her from her auto-hypnosis. 

Aside from their occasional attention to such com- 

23 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

pelling demonstrations as this, Helen found her 
thoughts rambling leisurely. Hardmuth was notice 
ably engrossed in Viola, and his perfunctory asides 
to herself marked only the moments of general com 
ment. 

How unlike this table-talk had been that which 
Helen Whipple had known during the past twenty 
years! There came into her mental vision in easy 
and blending succession pictures of the breakfast 
and dinner table, of the little dining-room in the 
red-brick, rectangular dwelling at Germantown, in 
which she and Dr. Whipple had lived during the 
early years of their marriage; of her lonely vigils 
there as the doctor's increasing practice in the city 
called him from the pleasant suburb; Clay's nur 
sery years, when the breakfast had been devoted 
to the doctor's morning paper and to her care of 
the china within reach of the infant missiles; then 
the staid and formal house in Philadelphia into 
which came the reflected anxiety of the busy physi 
cian, the domestic communion unhappily abridged by 
his professional programme and interrupted by calls 
telephonic and personal. Only the sober, the serious, 
the dutiful side of living a long, prosaic period of 
unmitigated strain and stress. 

Looking across the table at Jack, what a contrast 
she found in his amiable and expressive countenance 
to the tense and severe visage of her late husband! 
Brookfield's face was very different from the same 
face, as she remembered it, in its early manhood, and 
yet the difference was one for which she had been 
not unprepared. As she realized how often in the in- 

24 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

tervening time she had permitted her mind to dwell 
upon this earlier suitor she felt a self-accusing sense 
of disloyalty to the father of the boy now sitting at 
his right. She was startled to find that her feeling of 
ease and relaxation in her present situation was due 
not entirely to either the absence of domestic care or 
the regained associations of her girlhood. Much of 
the purring comfort of her position was caused by the 
proximity of this powerful man, who had somehow 
and without communication never been quite absent 
from the penumbra of her thought. What compan 
ionship there was now in his very glance! 

Brookfield himself, almost silent between his sister, 
who was analyzing recipes with Ellinger on one side, 
and Helen's boy, who was hovering a youthful pro 
tectorate over Viola on the other side, found amuse 
ment in telegraphing to Helen a mental comment 
upon it all. Under that heavy and apparently phleg 
matic mask Helen could see the play of his thoughts 
like summer lightning behind an evening cloud-bank 
the veriest ghost of a smile from one corner of the 
mouth, the slightest drooping of an eyelid at some 
banality, a suggestive uplift of eyebrow doing service 
for inquiry, an indescribable accent of glance that 
conveyed assent. 

Helen's quiet enjoyment of the implicit communica 
tion was interrupted by her sudden recognition of and 
astonishment at the fact that Brookfield's facial play 
was a running commentary upon her own inmost 
thought, and then, as she felt herself flushing beneath 
this consciousness, there was just a noticeable com 
pression of Brookfield's lips in the reassuring audacity 

25 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

of a phantom caress, after which, in more overt com 
munication, he lifted his glass and smilingly, though 
silently, drank to her. 

This last act caught the attention of Ellinger, ever 
watchful for any legitimate excuse, and he roughly 
led the chorus which voiced less intimately Brook- 
field's sentiment: 

"To our fair and honored guest." 

Shortly afterward, when the party had again scat 
tered its attention, Helen found Jack's eyes saying: 
"Wouldn't this have been much better, after all 
this cosiness, this intimacy, tranquillity, and warmth ? 
Wasn't it all a vanity, a vexation of spirit : the years 
of strident effort in the aggressive charities, the so 
cieties for civic betterment, and all the altruistic, 
self-appointed turmoil since we parted?" Again 
Brookfield lifted his glass as Helen's look of waver 
ing indecision seemed to him confession. 

There was a second observation by Ellinger and a 
general laugh following some pleasantry of his at 
Brookfield's expense. 

Jo, the colored hall-boy in Brookfield's establish 
ment, appeared in the doorway leading from the li 
brary. 

"Yes?" inquired Brookfield. 

"Mr. Denning, suh," said Jo. 

Brookfield begged the company to excuse him a 
moment, then rose from the table and followed Jo. 



Ill 

WELL, Jo ?" Brookfield looked at the negro boy 
a bit impatiently. On those rare occasions 
when the house was dark, Jo was endowed with suf 
ficient vicarious discretion to turn most any applicant 
away. 

"Mr. Denning, suh," Jo repeated, with slightly jus 
tifying emphasis. 

Brookfield hesitated, and then: "Ask Mr. Denning 
to come up," he said. 

"Yes, suh." The boy left on his errand. 

Brookfield moved a few steps after the boy, as if 
with the intent to revoke his order; and then as a 
more definite plan occurred to him he called to the 
group about the supper-table: 

"Lew I say, Lew! Won't you ladies excuse Mr. 
Ellinger a moment?" 

A chorus of assent, not necessarily uncompliment 
ary, came in reply, and Ellinger joined Brookfield. 

"Want to see me?" 

Brookfield took Lew by the elbow and led him a 
few steps from the doorway and beyond the line of 
vision of his guests. 

"Tom Denning's here he expects a game. My 
sister and Mrs. Whipple object to the pasteboards, 
so don't mention it before them." 

3 27 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Not a word," answered the discreet old sport; 
"but Tom" he nodded toward the hall door 
"what of him?" 

"I'll attend to Tom," said Brookfield; "you re 
join the ladies." 

"Good." 

As Lew regained the doorway of the dining-room 
Denning entered from the hallway. 

"Hello, Lew!" called the new-comer. 

Ellinger paused in helpless embarrassment between 
his duty and this convivial interruption. 

"Go on," said Brookfield, imperatively, and Lew 
obeyed. 

Denning, astonished at the sight of Ellinger in 
evening attire and by the formal front of the pro 
prietor, said: 

"What have you got to-night young Rockefeller?" 

"Some ladies " Brookfield started to explain, 
and paused, frowning, interrupted by the leer on Den- 
ning's face. And then he added, "My sister and her 
daughter and a lady friend of hers." There was a 
rebuke in the measured authority of the utterance. 

"No game?" Denning asked, disappointedly. 

"Not until they go." 

The young man, who had changed his position so 
as to catch a glimpse of the group in the next room, 
exclaimed with that sudden alteration of mood char 
acteristic of the immature mind in the presence of 
new toys: 

"Oh, chafing-dish!" 

"They've been to the opera, and I had Harvey 
brew them some terrapin." 

28 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"My luck," Denning complained. 

"No, I think there's some left," Brookfield con 
soled; and as an expression of relief passed over 
Denning's countenance, Jack felt a sense of shame 
that his victims held among their number one so 
simple as the man before him. Denning was an ex 
ample of a type numerically increasing that waste 
ful intermediate generation between shirt-sleeves and 
shirt-sleeves; the pampered son of a father apochry- 
phally opulent. The class to which he belonged had 
not yet arrived at the distinction of imperial denuncia 
tion, and Tom was an only child ; but had there been 
a sister the family could have been reconciled to seeing 
her a foreign princess. 

As Brookfield regarded his guest there passed vague 
ly before his mind a picture of the scheme of things so 
fashioned that by a law of nature it seemed one 
species should feed upon and devour another. Then, 
in quick realization of his own inability to revise that 
law in the time now at his disposal, he added, in an 
easy, patronizing protection: 

"I'm going to take a long chance, Tom, and intro 
duce you to these ladies, only I want you not to say 
anything before them about poker or any other 
game." 

Denning protested. "Why, I thought you said 
your sister " 

"I did," Brookfield replied, his tone slightly hostile. 

"Well, she's on, isn't she?" 

Brookfield nodded. "But she doesn't like it, and 
my niece my niece doesn't like it." 

There was something in Brookfield's repetition of 

29 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"my niece" that caused Denning to stand at atten 
tion. If his early schooling had been received in a 
military academy he would have saluted. During the 
pause that followed old Harvey entered. 

"I'se made some coffee, Marse Jack; will you have 
it in the dining-room or here, suh?" 

"Ill ask the ladies." 

"How are you, Harvey?" Denning grinned at the 
old servant. 

"Marse Denning." 

"You've got some terrapin left for Mr. Denning, 
Harvey?" Brookfield asked, as he passed from the 
room. 

"Yes, suh," Harvey answered; then again, to Den 
ning, "Yes, suh." 

"They left some of the rum, I hope ?" said Denning. 

The old darky laughed. 

"Couldn't empty my ice-box in one evening, Marse 
Denning." And then, with a sudden change of man 
ner, as he looked toward the dining-room, he added, 
deferentially, "The ladies gettin' up, suh." 

Brookfield returned. 

"Harvey." 

"Yes, suh." 

"The ladies will have their coffee in here." 

"Yes, suh." 

As the ladies were already following, Brookfield 
crossed, warningly, to Denning and introduced him. 

"Alice, this is my friend Mr. Denning my sister 
Mrs. Campbell." 

Alice nodded to the young man now awkwardly 
conscious of his tweeds. 

3 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Helen was saying to Viola, about whom she had 
put her arm, "I never take coffee even after dinner, 
and at this hour never." 

Jack finished his introduction of Denning, and, re 
solved that there should be no misleading opportunity 
for impolitic commonplace, he took the young man 
by the arm and led him toward the dining-room, say 
ing as they went: 

"Mr. Denning 's just left the foundry, and he is very 
hungry." 

"And thirsty," Denning added, with prompt seiz 
ure of the chance. 

"Yes, and thirsty," Jack courageously accepted. 
"Uncle Harvey is going to save his life." And with 
dissembling heartiness he pushed Denning from the 
room. 

"The foundry?" Alice inquired, with characteristic 
naivete 1 . 

"Never did a day's work in his life," Jack smiled. 
"Why, that's Tom Denning." 

"Tom Denning is the name of the big race-horse," 
Viola volunteered, from one of her fields of special 
information. 

"Yes," answered Jack, "this fellow is named after 
the race-horse." 

"What does he do?" asked Helen. 

"His father." Brookfield explained: "Father's in 
the packing business in Kansas City this fellow has 
four men shovelling money away from him so he can 
breathe." 

"Oh, Jack!" Alice exclaimed, in amused protest. 

"Yes," insisted Jack, "I'm one of them." Then, 

31 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

in quick recovery from this inadvertent admission of 
his trade, he added, as he paused on the threshold, 
"You'll find cigarettes in that box." 

"Jack!" Mrs. Campbell rose from her chair with 
that extravagance of self-defence sometimes so peril 
ously near confession. 

"Not you, Alice dear," said Jack, with apologetic 
stress almost equally disclosing. 

"Well, certainly not for me, Uncle Jack," Viola 
answered, honestly, as he looked toward her and Helen. 

"Of course, not you, dear." 

"Thank you, Mr. Brookfield," Helen deduced, in a 
fraternal pleasantness which Jack remembered so well. 

Mrs. Campbell, as usual, one step behind the mental 
procession whenever it departed from the heaviest 
marching order, came to the defence of their guest. 

"My dear brother, you confuse the Kentucky ladies 
with some of your Eastern friends." 

"Careful, Alice, careful. Helen lived in the East 
twenty years, remember." 

"But even my husband didn't smoke." 

"No?" 

"Never in his life." 

"In his life," Jack repeated, with malicious an 
alysis. "Why make such a pessimistic distinction?" 

"Jack!" his sister gasped again, in fluttering ex 
postulation; and then, as she came to him, murmured 
plaintively in an audible undertone, "How can you 
say a thing like that?" 

"She's the man's widow," Brookfield offered, in 
sympathetic opacity to Alice. "I've got to say it if 
any one does." 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Harvey turned the trend of conversation by his ap 
pearance with the tray of coffee. 

"Mr. Denning got his tortoise, has he, Uncle Har 
vey?" 

"He's got the same as we all had, Marse Jack; yes, 
suh." The old darky chuckled. 

"I'll take it, Uncle Harvey." Jack referred to the 
cup that Helen had declined. "I think three or four 
of them might help this head of mine." 

Brookfield had confessed once or twice earlier in 
the evening to a headache, and his sister now said 
to him, with an inflection that indicated a repeated 
offer: 

"Why don't you let Viola cure vour head 
ache?" " 

"Yes, Uncle Jack, do." Viola put down her cup 
as she spoke. 

"No, the coffee will fix it, I'm sure." 

"Sit here while you drink it." Viola pushed an 
easy-chair from the end of the table. 

"No, no, Viola; it isn't bad enough for that. I'll 
conserve your mesmeric endowment for a real occa 
sion." 

Brookfield took the contents of the demi-tasse at a 
swallow. 

"Just to please me," his niece persisted. 

Jack touched her caressingly under the chin, and, 
shaking his finger in concentrated accusation, lost 
upon all his hearers excepting Helen, said, "I don't 
want to spoil your awful stories." 

Brookfield rejoined the gentlemen in the dining- 
room, where Harvey was passing the cigars. 

33 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Left to themselves, the ladies began to evince that 
personal disposition toward ease which marks the 
absence of self-consciousness, even self-consciousness 
so slight as that invited by the presence of the most 
intimate male relative. 

Viola curled into one corner of the old colonial 
sofa that raked diagonally from the fireplace. She 
had taken from the table an uncut magazine and a 
huge tusk of ivory, shaped at its broader end into a 
spatulate paper-cutter. Her mother sought an easy- 
chair, regretfully expostulating that she had read 
somewhere that it was wise to stay on one's feet for 
twenty minutes after each meal. Helen leaned on 
the back of another chair in restful contemplation of 
the room which she had seen but hurriedly in her 
first passage through it before the supper. She was 
as yet unable to decide which object or group of ob 
jects gave it that quality of witchery of which she 
was becoming conscious. Perhaps it was not the 
room itself; rather it might be the room in combina 
tion with the owner, of whose uncanny power and in 
definite quality she was singularly aware. In the 
moment her mind had moved on its circle about this 
central idea, and by a double association the question 
seemed to utter itself: 

"Is Viola a magnetic healer, too?" 

"Oh no," Viola said, quickly, although the ques 
tion had been put to her mother. 

"Yes a remarkable one," the mother replied. 

"Only headaches, Mrs. Whipple," the girl ex 
plained, "and those I crush out of my victims." 

"I remember Jack used to have a wonderful 
34 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ability in that way as a young man," Helen 
said. 

Viola smiled in pretty insinuation. "Uncle Jack 
says only with girls." 

"We know better, don't we?" Alice remarked, 
stolidly, to Helen. Their guest nodded, and Viola 
resumed : 

"Well, for myself, I'd rather have Uncle Jack sit 
by me than any regular physician I ever saw." 

"You mean if you were ill?" said Helen. 

"Of course." 

"You must be very clear with Mrs. Whipple on 
that point, Viola," said Mrs. Campbell, whose mental 
baggage- train was beginning to arrive, "because she 
used to prefer your uncle Jack to sit by her even 
when she wasn't ill." And the lady smiled, blandly 
unconscious that Viola had implied as much some 
minutes earlier. 

"But especially when ill, my dear," Helen ad 
mitted; and then, inquiringly, to his sister, "Has 
Jack quit it?" 

"Yes; you know Jack went into politics for a 
while." 

"Did he?" 

"Yes local politics something about the police 
didn't please him then he quit all curative work." 

"Why?" 

"Well, in politics I believe there is something un 
pleasant about the word 'healer.' ' This unpleasant 
condition had never been quite clear to Mrs. Campbell. 

"Entirely different spelling," Viola suggested. 

Mrs. Campbell continued : "The papers joked about 

35 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

his magnetic touch. It seems that the word 'touch' 
is also used offensively, so Jack dropped the whole 
business." 

"And Viola inherits this magnetic power?" said 
Helen. 

"If one can inherit power from an uncle," Mrs. 
Campbell answered. On these matters of genealogy 
she was particularly lucid. Besides, Kentucky had 
given more than proportionate attention to the in 
tricate questions of breeding. 

"Let us say from a family," enlarged Helen. 

"That is even more generous," Mrs. Campbell an 
swered, more wisely than she knew. "But Viola is 
like her uncle Jack in svery way that a girl may re 
semble a man horses and boats and every kind of 
personal risk." 

"I'm proud of it," Viola boasted, parenthetically. 

"And Jack spoils her." 

"Am I spoiled?" Viola appealed to Mrs. Whipple. 

Helen's smile was more comforting than the spoken 
word of most women. 

"But I will say he couldn't love her more if he 
were her own father," Alice added. 

Helen found this report of the paternal quality in 
Jack strangely grateful. She pressed against her 
cheek the hand that Viola had given her. That Jack 
loved the girl in such degree doubled the growing 
affection for her which Clay's interest and the girl's 
own attractiveness had planted in Helen's heart, so 
sensitively maternal. 

Despite the fact that Viola in every feature was 
noticeably unlike her uncle, there was, nevertheless, 

36 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

in the general relation of the features that evanescent 
something which we call family resemblance. Under 
the smooth contour of her decidedly classical face 
there was manifestly the same modelling that under 
lay Jack's grim mask. That family trick of level 
glance which was domination in the uncle was sim 
ple sincerity in the girl. The vibrant arch of nostril 
and the fulness of the lip, so dangerously suggestive 
of the sensual in the man, spelled only poetry and 
affection in the finer feminine face. Viola was typi 
cally and beautifully blond not of the anaemic and 
bloodless type, but of that Olympian variety which 
Oliver Wendell Holmes described as "shot through 
and through with amber light." 

As Helen pressed the girl's hand she noticed in its 
palm a vital prehension eminently kindred to Jack's 
touch. Observing persons had frequently remarked 
this quality in Brookfield's hand. Independent of the 
grip of muscle, the palm itself seemed to have some 
moist and individual power of cohesion a quality of 
friendliness and health and magnetism. Helen was 
no student of character, but the feminine sense of in 
tuition was hers in a marked degree, and it did not 
fail her now. She knew indubitably that the girl be 
side her was gifted with the rare capacity of abiding 
loyalty. She apprehended in some inexplicable way 
that the girl was to be for her an ally in her protective 
interest in Clay, who, seizing the first chance to quit 
the men in the other room, had just joined the ladies. 

"Isn't this a jolly room, mother?" said the young 
architect, indicating by a sweep of his hand the hos 
pitable walls of the library. 

37 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Beautiful!" 

"Sleeping -apartments are what I take pride in, 
though," Clay continued, as he nodded upward; "a 
private bath to every bedroom, reading-lamps just 
over the pillows, individual telephones to the kitchen." 

"Haven't you seen the house, Mrs. Whipple ?" Viola 
interrupted. 

"Not above this floor." 

"Would it interest you?" Mrs. Campbell asked, 
mildly, and then recollecting, she added, apologeti 
cally, "Why, what a foolish question as though any 
thing your boy had done could fail to interest you!" 

Mrs. Campbell crossed to the dining-room and called 
her brother. As Jack responded she turned to Helen, 
and in a manner that implied an opportunity for 
choice said, "Will I do as your guide?" 

"Certainly," said Mrs. Whipple. 

"Well?" said Brookfield. 

"I want to show Helen over the house," his sister 
explained. 

"Very well, do it." 

"The rooms are empty?" 

"Empty? Of course," Jack replied, in mock re 
sentment. 

"Don't be too indignant, my dear brother; they 
are not always empty." And then as she turned to 
Helen she explained, "In Jack's house one is liable to 
find a belated pilgrim in any room." 

Helen, conscious of the playfulness which the sister 
missed beneath Jack's look, ventured, with contrib 
uting banter, "And a lady walking in unannounced 
would be something of a surprise, wouldn't she?" 

38 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Well," answered Jack, in grave deliberation, "two 
ladies would certainly, and 

"Jack!" interrupted Alice. 

"My dear sister, they would," Brookfield protested, 
in injured innocence; and then, appealing to Helen, 
"Hard lines when the reputation of a man's house 
isn't respected by his own sister huh!" He stormed 
back to the dining-room, leaving his sister in a haze 
of perturbation. 

"The same Jack," said Helen, singularly unhor- 
rified. 

"The same," Alice assented, "only sometimes I 
think confirmed in his peculiarities." 

Viola declined her mother's invitation to accom 
pany them over the upper part of the house, and the 
two older ladies departed, leaving Clay and her to 
gether. 



IV 

MRS. WHIPPLE'S anxiety concerning her boy was 
not without foundation. There were certain 
weaknesses in his character that justified her desire for 
sympathy and assistance in her necessarily waning 
care of him. She believed that his artistic tempera 
ment, and many of the weaknesses supposed to ac 
company such a temperament, he had inherited from 
herself. There was a noticeable strain of his father, 
however, which she detected in the boy's ready and 
almost fanatical advocacy of any hopeless cause that 
made its appeal to the humanities. He was emo 
tional; unquestionably much of Clay's decorative 
talent could be attributed to this fact, but his 
greatest danger also lay there. All his life he had 
been subject to a kind of intellectual vertigo, at 
times approaching perilously to irresponsibility. 

As a boy of ten he had leaped into the Schuylkill 
to save a playmate from drowning. Unable himself 
to swim a stroke, he had only doubled the task of the 
competent rescuers. At twelve, when an itinerant ex- 
horter was calling the guilty to repentance, and be 
moaning the fact that in all his audience of sinners 
none had the courage to lead the penitent to the 
altar, Clay had unhesitatingly accepted the call and 
been the first to the bench. At sixteen, after a baf- 

40 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

fling absence of four days, he was discovered in Tampa, 
whither he had fled with a regiment of Pennsylvania 
volunteers in an almost inflexible resolution to avenge 
the destruction of the Maine. 

He was peculiarly amenable to suggestion, to ap 
proval, to rebuke. These qualities, while they caused 
the boy uncountable suffering, also won for him many 
friends. The firm of distinguished architects with 
which Brookfield's invited influence had been able to 
place him was already finding his temperament a 
considerable asset in its professional relations with 
women clients. Clay had an almost feminine inter 
est in the detail of decoration he had an eye for form 
and color. That he should fall in love with the beau 
tiful niece- of Brookfield was an inevitable conse 
quence of his association with her. 

Left alone with Viola, Clay turned to her with char 
acteristic impulsiveness and said: 

"What was Frank Hardmuth saying to you?" 
"When?" asked the girl, with that Fabian evasion 
which is the heritage of the sex. 

"At supper and in the box at the theatre, too." 
"Oh, Frank Hardmuth," she pouted, playfully; 
"nobody pays any attention to him." 

"I thought you paid a good deal of attention to 
what he was saying." 

"In the same theatre-party a girl's got to listen or 
leave the box." 

"Some persons listen to the opera." 
"I told him that was what I wanted to do." 
"Was he making love to you, Viola?" 
"I shouldn't call it that." 
41 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Would anybody else have called it that if they 
had overheard it?" Clay persisted. 

"I don't think so." 

"Won't you tell me what it was about?" 

Viola waited. There is something so personal in 
every declaration of love, implied or direct, compli 
mentary or questionable, that a woman instinctively 
guards it, not necessarily as sacred, but with an in 
herent sentimental economy. 

Viola was unpractised but not unequipped. 

"I don't see why you ask?" she ventured, diplo 
matically, beginning to feel the strain of Clay's si 
lence. 

"I ask," the boy said, promptly, "because he seem 
ed so much in earnest, and because you seemed so 
much in earnest." 

"Well?" questioned Viola, still non-committal. 

"Frank Hardmuth's a fellow that will stand watch 
ing." Clay glared into the dining-room where the ob 
ject of his jealousy was seated. 

"He stood a good deal to-night," Viola laughed, 
with a wish to introduce a playfulness into the col 
loquy. 

"I mean," Clay continued, still serious, "that he 
is a clever lawyer, and would succeed in making a 
girl commit herself in some way to him before she 
knew it." 

"I think that depends more on the way the girl 
feels." Viola rose and crossed the room with an in 
stinct of drawing the boy's attention from Hardmuth. 
There was an implied assurance in the speech as Clay 
interpreted it, and, somewiiat mollified, he followed her. 

42 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Well, I don't want you to listen to Frank Hard- 
muth under the impression that he's the only chance 
in Kentucky." 

"Why, Clay Whipple!" Viola's severity was a re 
sentment of the implication that she had regarded 
Hardmuth as a chance at all, and was not an at 
tempted discouragement of the impending declara 
tion. 

"You know very well I've been courting you my 
self, Viola, don't you?" 

"You haven't," the girl replied, smiling in frank 
admiration of his directness; "you've just been com 
ing around like a big boy." 

"Have I gone with any other girl anywhere?" 

"I don't know." 

"And I've spoken to your uncle Jack about it," 
Clay continued. 

"To Uncle Jack?" 

"Yes." 

"Nobody told you to speak to Uncle Jack." 

"Mother did." 

4 ' Your mother ? ' ' Viola asked . The increasing num 
ber of Clay's advisers gave the question a disturbing 
importance. 

"Yes," answered the young suitor; "mother's got 
regular old-fashioned ideas about boys and young 
ladies, and she says, ' If you think Viola likes you, the 
honorable thing is to speak to her guardian." 

"Oh, you thought that, did you?" Viola was as 
piqued by the secure assumption as she was compli 
mented by its persistency. But her tone only gave 
determination to the boy. 

43 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"I certainly did," he answered. 

"I can't imagine why." 

"I thought that because you're Jack Brookfield's 
niece, and nobody of his blood would play a game 
that isn't fair." 

No phrase could have been more unfortunately 
chosen. Clay had meant to apply only the college 
boy's standard of fair play in athletics, a department 
in which Viola was not uninformed. But Brookfield's 
profession had made the family hectic upon all al 
lusions to it. The blood tingled in Viola's cheek. 

"I wish you wouldn't always throw that up to me; 
it isn't our fault that Uncle Jack's a sporting man." 

"Why, Viola I was praising him," Clay said, im 
pulsively, sighting the forbidden ground on which he 
had inadvertently trod; and with that sure fatality 
that makes blunder multiply, he added, "I think 
your uncle Jack's the gamest man in Kentucky." 

"Nor that, either," Viola said, forbiddingly; and 
then, with a surge of loyalty to the uncle whom she 
could see from where she stood, "I don't criticise my 
uncle Jack, but he's a lot better man than just a 
fighter or a card-player I love him for his big 
heart." 

" So do I. If I'd 'a' thought you cared, I'd have said 
you were too much like him at heart to let a fellow 
come a-courting you if you meant to refuse him I'd 
have said that and that was all that was in my mind 
when I asked about Prank Hardmuth." In consoling 
abandonment of the issue, he continued, "I don't 
care what Frank Hardmuth said, either, if it wasn't 
personal that way." 

44 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Frank Hardmuth's nothing to me." The girl's 
annoyance was reassuring. 

"And he won't be, will he?" Clay pleaded, boyishly, 
seating himself beside her on the sofa and peering into 
her half-averted face. "Say that, because I'm aw 
fully in love with you." 

"Are you?" she asked, in evident hospitality for 
the subject. 

"You bet I am," the boy responded, vibrantly 
"just tomfool heels over head in love with you." 

"You never said so." 

"I never said so because mother told me that a 
boy in an architect's office had better wait until he 
was a partner. But I can't wait, Viola, if other fel 
lows are pushing me too hard." 

Viola apparently approved of the boy's initiative, 
for she answered : 

"Uncle Jack says you're a regular architect, if 
there ever was one." 

"It's what you think that makes a difference to me." 

"Well, I think Uncle Jack certainly knows." 

"And an architect's just as good as a lawyer," Clay 
urged, with his rival still in mind. 

"Every bit," his sweetheart acquiesced. 

It is possible that if either or both of the parties 
had been represented by attorney their understand 
ing might have been regarded as falling somewhat 
short of a betrothal. In the absence of competent 
advisers, however, and perhaps of sufficiently guiding 
experience or research, the young people by an un 
spoken assent, none the less satisfactory because it 
was tacit, met in an embrace. 

45 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Viola!" the boy said, in trembling undertone, as 
her head rested on his shoulder. 

There are other ways of becoming engaged. The 
process is one so volatile that almost every ingredient 
or contribution,, whether of time or place or circum 
stance, alters its chemistry. In fact, much of the 
charm that hallows that entire period known as ' ' the 
engagement" is due to the same unfailing answer to 
all the experimental tests that may be made by the 
manifold reagents in love's laboratory. 

In promising exploration of at least one other 
route, Viola began : 

"I don't mind telling you now he was speaking for 
himself Frank Hardmuth." 

"By Jove!" Clay exclaimed, mistaking consequence 
for coincidence. "On this very night?" 

"Yes." 

"It seems like the hand of Providence that I was 
here." 

One sure indication of true love is that the element 
of fate is so plainly, so early, discernible. 

"Let's sit down." 

Holding both her hands, Clay led the girl to the 
sofa. 

"You've got confidence in me, haven't you?" 

"Yes; I've always said to mother, 'Clay Whipple 
will make his mark some day.' I should say I have 
confidence in you." 

The boy laughed joyously. There was a framed 
sheepskin from the University of Pennsylvania hang 
ing in his mother's bedroom, and several letters of 
approval from the firm of architects with which he 

46 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

was associated, but Viola's last remark was his real 
diploma. He went on in rapid explanation, taking 
her into almost conjugal confidence as to his pros 
pects. 

"Of course, the big jobs pay things like insurance 
buildings; but my heart's in domestic architecture, 
and if you don't laugh at me I'll tell you some 
thing." 

"Laugh at you about your work and your ambi 
tions! Why, Clay!" 

"I do some work on most of the domestic interiors 
for the firm already, and whenever I plan a second 
floor or staircase I can see you plain as day walking 
through the rooms or saying good-night over the 
balusters." 

"Really? You mean in your mind." 

"No, with my eyes. Domestic architecture is the 
most poetic work a man can get into outside of down 
right poetry itself." 

"it must be if you can see it all that way," Viola 
assented, not without some bewilderment. 

"Every room," Clay continued to explain. "I can 
see your short sleeves as you put your hands over the 
balusters and sometimes you push up your front 
hair with the back of your hand so." 

"Oh, this ?" The girl laughed, dramatizing his sug 
gestion, and smoothing her pompadour into obedience. 
"All girls do that." 

"But not just the same as you do it," Clay pro 
tested, tenderly. "Yes, I can see every little motion 
you make." 

"Whenever you care to think about me?" 
47 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Bless you, no that's the trouble." There was a 
haunted flutter in his expression. 

"What trouble?" 

"The pictures of you don't come just when I want 
them to come, especially in the dark." 

"Why, how funny!" 

"In the dark sometimes they form like the views 
from a magic lantern. They glow strong and vivid, 
and then fade into the black, and then when I lie 
down at night that effect sometimes repeats and re 
peats until I've had to light the gas in order to go 
to sleep." 

"Pictures of me?" 

"Pictures of my work or anything that's been in 
my mind a good deal during the day, and sometimes 
pictures of things that I can't remember having seen 
before." 

"Why, I never heard of anything like that." 

"Well, it happens to me often." The boy was si 
lent for a moment, as though searching his memory 
for an example; and then, as his eye caught the 
draped hangings of the room, he said, "Now, I de 
signed this room for your uncle Jack, but before I'd 
put a brush in my color-box I saw this very Genoese 
velvet." He waved his hand, indicating the walls. 
"And I saw the picture-frames in their places that 
Corot right there. I've got kind of a superstition 
about that picture." Again there crept into his eyes 
that almost haunted look that had arrested Viola's 
attention earlier in their talk. 

"A superstition!" exclaimed the girl, looking from 
his face to the picture indicated. 

48 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Yes. I said to Jack, 'Have anything else you 
want on the other walls, but right there I wish you'd 
put a Corot that I've seen at a dealer's in New York* 
and he did it." 

"Uncle Jack generally has his own way about pict 
ures." 

"I only mean," said Clay, hastily disclaiming any 
pretence of mastery "I only mean that your uncle 
Jack approved of my taste in the matter. But my 
idea of this house really started with and grew 
around that canvas of Corot's." 

"Then it isn't always me that you see?" 

"Always you when I think about a real house, you 
bet a house for me. And you'll be there, won't 
you?" 

"Will I?" Viola tempted him with the feminine 
instinct which however frequently its possessor may 
be half wooer always is on guard against the re 
corded fact. 

"Yes," Clay pleaded, "say T will.'" 

"I will." And once more the happy suitor folded 
her in his arms. 

Perhaps for the progress of their understanding it 
was as well that both the mothers, having finished 
their examination of the dwelling, should have re- 
entered the room at that moment. 

Helen regarded the young couple with scarcely a 
flutter of astonishment; but Mrs. Campbell, doubly 
on the defensive both as the mother of the weaker 
vessel and as the quasi-hostess, exclaimed, in com 
mingling astonishment, warning, and rebuke: 

"Why, Viola!" 

49 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"I've asked her," Clay said, addressing his mother 
and still retaining hold of Viola's hand. 

Mrs. Campbell turned accusingly to her guest. 
"Helen, you knew?" 

"Yes." 

Mrs. Campbell looked back to the young couple for 
further explanation, and in response to her gaze Clay 
said: 

"And I've asked Jack, too." 

"What?" 

"We're engaged if you say it's all right." 

"And you, Viola?" 

"Yes," the girl nodded. 

"Well, if Jack's been consulted, and you all know 
of it," said Alice, making a blanket distribution of 
the blame, "I should be a very hopeless minority." 

"Why any minority?" Clay asked. 

"Only the necessary considerations" then turn 
ing to the boy's mother ' ' Clay's prospects, his youth." 

"Why, he designs most of the work for his firm 
now," Viola urged, in a wish to eliminate what she 
apprehended as the principal objection attaching to 
his youth. 

"That is, dwellings," Clay modestly amended. 

"I should advise waiting myself until Clay is in the 
firm," Helen said, consolingly addressing her speech 
more to the boy than to the others; "and I did advise 
delay in speaking to Viola." 

"I'd 'a' waited, mother, only Frank Hardmuth pro 
posed to Viola to-night." 

"To-night!" exclaimed Mrs. Campbell, for whom 
surprises were coming rapidly. 

50 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"At the opera," Viola answered. 

"At the opera?" her mother repeated, and then in 
panic helplessness to Helen she complained, "One 
isn't safe anywhere." 

Clay, pursuing this seeming advantage, asked: 

"And you wouldn't want him. So you do con 
sent, don't you?" 

"I think your mother and I should talk it over." 

"Well, it's a thing a fellow doesn't usually ask his 
mother to arrange, but " 

"You mean privately?" Viola asked. 

"Yes," said her mother. 

The young couple hesitated, doubting the policy of 
being unrepresented in the conference; but as the 
mothers seemed agreed upon this condition, and as 
the habit of filial obedience was still strong, Clay 
said to his sweetheart: 

"We can go to the billiard-room, I suppose?" 

"Come on," Viola assented, moving to the door. 

"You know, mother, how I feel about it," Clay 

said. 

Helen nodded in reassuring sympathy. The boy 
and girl left their mothers together. 

"I supposed you had guessed it," Helen said to 
Alice, who was still maintaining her injured pose. 
The latter made one or two ineffectual gasps at re 
sponse, and, finding that her delay was adding to the 
uncertainty of the things she had in mind to say, 
she made a virtue of surrender to complete frank 
ness. 

"I had, but when the moment arrives, after all, it's 
such a surprise that a mother can't act naturally." 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Clay is really very trustworthy for his age," said 
Helen. 

"There's only one thing to discuss. I haven't men 
tioned it because well, because I've seen so little 
of you since it began, my dear Helen, and because 
the fault is in my own family." 

"Fault?" 

"Yes, Jack's fault." Mrs. Campbell debated a 
moment the propriety of proceeding, and then, with 
an influx of resolution, she looked straight at Helen 
and announced, "Clay is playing." 

"Clay?" 

"Here with Jack's friends." 

"Clay," Helen repeated, unwilling to realize that 
the blight which had fallen upon her own romance was 
possibly settling upon the life of her boy, "gambling ?" 

"I don't quite get used to the word" Mrs. Camp 
bell winced "though we've had a lifetime of it 
gambling." 

"I shouldn't have thought Jack would do that with 
my boy." 

"Jack hasn't our feminine point of view and be 
sides, Jack is calloused to it." 

"You should have talked to Jack yourself." 

"Talked to him? I did much more that is, as 
I much more as a sister depending on a brother for 
support could do." Mrs. Campbell paused as she 
passed in reminiscence various interviews with her 
brother; then resolutely going back to the beginning 
of the trouble, she continued, " You know, Jack really 
built this place for me and Viola." 

" I'd thought so yes." 

52 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Viola is the very core of Jack's heart. Well, we 
both left the house and went into our little apartment, 
and are there now. A woman can't do much more 
than that and still take her living from a man, can 
she?" 

"No." 

"And it hurt him hurt him past any idea." 

"You did that because my Clay was playing 
here?" 

' ' Not entirely Clay everybody. ' ' And then in jus 
tification of her treatment of the brother, between 
whom and herself there was genuine affection, Mrs. 
Campbell explained: 

"There isn't a better-hearted man nor an abler one 
in the State than Jack Brookfield, but I had my 
daughter to consider. There were two nights under 
our last city government when nothing but the in 
fluence of this Frank Hardmuth " at the mention 
of the name she dropped her voice and glanced cau 
tiously toward the dining-room, whence Hardmuth's 
harsh laughter could be heard issuing "nothing but 
his influence kept the police from coming into this 
house and arresting everybody think of it!" 

"Dreadful!" 

"Now, that's something, Helen, that I wouldn't 
tell a soul but you Viola doesn't know it; but Jack's 
card-playing came between you and him years ago, 
and so you may know it you may even have some 
influence with Jack." 

" I ? " Helen sighed and smiled pathetically. ' ' Oh 
no." 

"Yes," Alice answered, firmly, "this supper to-night 
53 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

was Jack's idea for you the box at the opera for 
you." 

"Why, he didn't even sit with us." 

"Also for you. Jack Brookfield is a more notable 
character in Louisville to-day than he was twenty- 
two years ago. His company would have made you 
the subject of unpleasant comment. That's why he 
left us alone in the box." 

"Isn't it a pity a terrible pity," Helen mused, 
slowly. 

"A terrible pity," Mrs. Campbell echoed. 

Further confidences between them were prevented 
by the entrance of the men from the dining-room. 

"I tell the gentlemen we've left the ladies to them 
selves long enough, Mrs. Campbell," Hardmuth said, 
in a prosecutor's rasping voice slightly stimulated. 

"Quite long enough, Mr. Hardmuth." 

"Where's the young lady Jack's niece?" inquired 
Denning, frankly, looking about for the more at 
tractive metal. 

"In the billiard-room I believe," Helen answered. 

"Oh," said Denning, in undisguised disappointment, 
"Jack's been telling us what a great girl she is." 

"Some of us knew that without being told," Hard 
muth boasted, from a group near the fireplace. 

"And she's wonderfully like you," Denning con 
tinued, laboriously, resolved to bring up his average 
by a compliment well turned "wonderfully like you. " 

"You compliment me," Helen said, smiling. 

"Are you under the impression you're speaking to 
Viola's mother?" said Jack, taking Denning by the 
arm. 

54 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Ain't I?" 

"This lady is Mrs. Whipple." And Jack, leaving 
the young millionaire in his embarrassment, turned 
to Hardmuth and Ellinger. 

"Oh, Clay's mother?" Denning inquired, cau 
tiously. Helen nodded. "Well, your boy," he per 
sisted, determined upon some appropriate recogni 
tion of the relationship "your boy, Mrs. Whipple, 
plays in the hardest luck of all the people I ever sat 
next to." 

Jack checked any further disclosure by quickly re 
turning to Denning. 

"You depreciate yourself, Tom; there's no hard 
kick in merely sitting next to you." 

Helen heard Jack growling in an undertone of re 
buke to Denning. 

"I meant unlucky at billiards," Denning defended 
himself, in hopeless audibility. "They're all right, 
ain't they?" 

As he left Jack and moved toward the ladies in ex 
onerated self-satisfaction, he said to Mrs. Campbell : 

"I can see now that your daughter resembles 
you." 

"I think Clay and I should be going," Helen sug 
gested to Mrs. Campbell. 

The surroundings, so agreeable a few moments 
before, had grown suddenly distasteful. Denning's 
dulness and Hardmuth's aggressive coarseness were 
doubly offensive when she regarded them as associ 
ate factors in her boy's degradation. She caught a 
reflection of her own thought in Mrs. Campbell's 
troubled countenance, and a quick pity for the woman 

55 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

so unfortunately situated tempered the severity of 
her tone and attitude. 

Jack had drawn his watch and was expostulating: 
"It's only a little after twelve, and no one ever goes 
to sleep in this house before two." 

Helen caught his glance, and again in its telegraphy 
she read his understanding of the contretemps and 
his assurance that the real Brookfield was far above 
the mental squalor of the association. Mrs. Camp 
bell took Helen's hand in silent furtherance of Jack's 
invitation. 

"Shall we join them?" Jack said to Helen, referring 
to the couple in the billiard-room. 

"I'd like it." 

The party moved to the door with the exception of 
Hardmuth, who bit the end of a fresh cigar and 
said: 

"Jack! just a minute." 

Brookfield excused himself ; Ellinger took his place 
at Helen's side, and the party passed into the hall 
way, from which Denning's voice drawled in diminu 
endo: 

"No, Kansas City is my home, but I don't live 
there." 



V 

OROOKFIELD was not altogether unprepared 
D for the interview Hardmuth demanded of him, 
though uncertain as to the extent of its disclosure. 
Hardmuth's attentions to Viola, both in the box at the 
theatre when Jack had watched them through the 
opera-glasses, and again at the supper-table, had fore 
warned Viola's uncle. Hardmuth flattered himself 
that he too had a fair understanding of Brookfield's 
attitude; this he attributed to what he was pleased 
to call his knowledge of human nature. Hardmuth's 
profession, aside from a natural shrewdness, had made 
him quick to measure any degree of friendliness or 
hostility on the part of another man. In addition 
to this there was between himself and Brookfield an 
intimacy of many years. To go no deeper into the 
intuitive sense of either man, the long study each 
had made of the other across the card -table had 
equipped them individually with a special prevision. 

Left together, Hardmuth began what promised to 
be a serious colloquy by the nonchalant confession: 

"Took advantage of your hospitality, old man, to 
night." 

"Advantage?" queried Brookfield. 

"Yes; I've been talking to your niece." 

"Oh!" 

57 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Proposed to her." 

"Yes?" 

"Yes," repeated Hardmuth. 

Brookfield's face took on that inscrutable look with 
which he was accustomed to regard his hand just 
after the deal or draw. The slight pause was broken 
by the entrance of the young darky. 

"A gentleman called you on the telephone, suh." 

' ' Who ?" Brookfield consulted his watch. 

"Judge De Brennus name sounds like," Jo an 
swered; "holdin' the wire, suh." 

"I don't know any Judge De Brennus." 

"Says you don't know him, suh; but he's got to 
leave town in the mornin', and he'd be very much 
obliged if you'd see him to-night." 

"Did you tell him we were dark to-night?" 

"He don't want no game. It's about a picture a 
picture you've got." 

"A picture?" 

"He wants to look at it." 

Brookfield turned interrogatively to Hardmuth, and 
that gentleman, anxious to defer any interruption of 
the business in hand, said: 

"It's a blind." 

By this phrase from the criminal vocabulary Hard 
muth conveyed that the caller, under the pretence of 
examining a picture, was really seeking incriminating 
evidence against the proprietor of the establishment. 
Brookfield smiled as he thought of the character of 
the party at present within his walls and the conse 
quent disappointment of any investigator. 

"Well, this is a good night to work a blind 
58 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

on me; tell the gentleman I'll be up for half an 
hour." 

Jo disappeared. 

"So you proposed to Viola?" said Brookfield, tak 
ing up the conference at the point of interruption. 

"Yes; how do you feel about that?" 

Brookfield hesitated. To have answered truthfully 
would have introduced an uncalled-for bitterness. 

"Well, you know the story of the barkeeper asking 
the owner, 'Is Grady good for a drink?' 'Has he had 
it?' 'He has.' 'He is.'" 

"Just that way, eh?" Hardmuth plainly was not 
complimented. 

Jack smiled and nodded. 

"Well," said Hardmuth, applying the illustration, 
"she hasn't answered me." 

Brookfield grunted tentatively. Hardmuth con 
tinued : 

"And under those conditions, how's Grady 's credit 
with you?" 

"Well, Frank, on any ordinary proposition you're 
aces with me you know that." 

"But for the girl?" 

"It's different." 

"Why?" 

"She's only nineteen, you know." 

"My sister married at eighteen." 

"I mean you're thirty-five." Brookfield made a 
show of deliberation. 

"That's not an unusual difference." 

"Not an impossible difference, but I think unusual 
and rather unadvisable." 
s 59 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"That's what you think ?" The resistance in Hard- 
muth's tone was provokingly near aggression. 

"Yes that's what I think," Brookfield said, with 
equal positiveness. 

"But suppose the lady is willing to give that han 
dicap what then?" 

Brookfield shrugged his shoulders. "Let's cross 
that bridge when we come to it." 

"You mean you'd still drag a little?" 

"Do you think Viola likes you well enough to say 
yes?" Jack asked, still unwilling to speak finally. 

"Let's cross that bridge when we come to it." 

"We have come to that one, Frank; there's another 
man in the running, and I think she. likes him." 

"You mean young Whipple ? Well, he took second 
money in the box-party to-night, and at the supper- 
table, too. I'll agree to take care of him if you're 
with me." 

"I think he's your biggest opposition," Brookfield 
answered, divertingly. 

"But you," persisted Hardmuth "can I count on 
you in the show-down?" 

Brookfield paused, searching his mind for some 
phrase that would still evade the issue. 

"If Viola doesn't care enough for you, Frank, to 
accept you in spite of anything or everything, I 
shouldn't try to influence her in your favor." 

Hardmuth's brow knitted, intent upon his purpose. 
His question, however, was interrupted by the return 
of Ellinger, who sauntered in with an exaggerated 
expression of weariness, complaining: 

"I think a bum game of billiards is about as thin 
60 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

an entertainment for the outsiders as 'Who's got the 
button?'" 

Brookfield smiled in welcome. He hoped that the 
interview with Hardmuth might be checked and 
further conference postponed until he had an oppor 
tunity of talking the matter over with his niece. But 
Hardmuth's mood was not so complacent. He took 
the old sport by the elbow with an air of authority 
and led him toward the dining-room. 

"I've got a little business, Lew, with Jack for a 
minute." 

The direction in which the exile was propelled had 
as much to do with Ellinger's tractability as had its 
declared purpose or authority. He answered, amiably : 

"Well, I can sit in by the bottle, can't I ?" 

Assuming Brookfield 's consent to that agreeable pas 
time, Lew left them, still railing at the mild form of 
the entertainment he had just abandoned. 

"Such awful stage waits while they chalk their 
cues!" 

Hardmuth turned to Brookfield, persisting: "But 
you wouldn't try to influence her against me?" 

Once more Jack spoke slowly, looking for the 
easiest way to say a disagreeable thing if it might not 
be completely avoided. 

"She's about the closest thing to me there is 
that niece of mine." 

"Well?" 

"I'd protect her happiness to the limit of my 
ability." 

"But if she likes me, or should come to like me 
enough, her happiness would be with me, wouldn't it ?" 

61 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"She might think so." 

"Well?" 

"But she'd be mistaken; it would be a mistake, 
old chap." 

"I know twenty men twelve to fifteen years older 
than their wives all happy wives happy, too." 

"It isn't just that." 

"What is it?" 

"She's a fine girl that niece of mine not a blem 
ish. I want to see her get the best the very best 
in family, position, character." 

"Anything against the Hardmuths?" the attorney 
demanded, taking the first feature in Brookfield's 
enumeration. Brookfield shook his head. 

"I'm assistant district attorney here," Hardmuth 
continued, addressing his mind to the question of 
position, "and next trip I'll be the district attorney." 

"I said character." 

"Character?" echoed Hardmuth, not quite so 
stoutly as he had made his other assertions. 

"Yes," Jack answered. 

"You mean there's anything against my reputa 
tion?" 

"No; I mean character pure and simple I mean 
the moral side of you." 

"Well, by God!" exclaimed Hardmuth, in a whis 
per of feigned astonishment. 

"You see, I'm keeping the girl in mind all the time." 

"My morals!" 

"Let's say your moral fibre." 

"Well, for richness this beats anything I've struck. 
Jack Brookfield talking to me about my moral fibre!" 

62 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

This was the method of the attorney who endeav 
ors to weaken testimony by attack. A shrewder man 
might have seen the menace in the eye of Brookfield 
despite the quiet tone with which he responded: 

"You asked for it." 

"Yes I did, and now I'm going to ask for the show 
down. What do you mean by it?" 

The desire as well as the latitude for finesse had 
passed for Brookfield. 

"I mean, as long as you've called attention to the 
richness of Jack Brookfield talking to you on the 
subject, that Jack Brookfield is a professional gam 
bler people get from Jack Brookfield just what he 
promises a square deal. Do you admit that?" 

"I admit that. Go on." 

"You're the assistant prosecuting attorney of the 
city of Louisville. The people don't get from you 
just what you promised, not by a jugful." 

"I'm the assistant prosecuting attorney, remember 
I promised to assist in prosecution, not to institute 
it." 

"I expect technical defence, old man, but this was 
to be a show-down." 

"Let's have it; I ask for particulars." 

"Here's one. You play here in my house, and you 
know it's against the law that you've sworn to sup 
port." 

"I'll support the law whenever it's invoked. In 
dict me and I'll plead guilty." 

"This evasion is what I mean by lack of moral 
fibre." 

Hardmuth was a sufficiently keen observer to see 

63 



the justice of Brookfield's remark. That it was 
merited only made it rankle the more. He was vain 
enough also to imagine himself Brookfield's superior 
in intellect, and he found it impossible to refrain from 
allusion to that belief. 

"Perhaps we're a little shy somewhere on mental 
fibre," he insinuated. 

"You make me say it, do you, Frank? Your duty 
is at least to keep secret the information of your office ; 
contrary to that duty, you've betrayed the secrets 
of your office to warn me and other men of this city 
when their game was in danger from the police." 

"You throw that up to me?" 

"Throw nothing you asked for it." 

"I stand by my friends." 

There was criticism as well as defiance in Hard- 
muth's answer. 

"Exactly," Brookfield responded, "and you've 
taken an oath to stand by the people." 

"Do you know any sure politician that doesn't 
stand by his friends?" 

"Not one." 

"Well, there." And again Hardmuth felt himself 
vindicated. 

"But I don't know any sure politician that I'd tell 
my niece to marry." 

"That's a little too fine-haired for me," the attorney 
sneered. 

"I think it is." 

Brookfield's expression of his opinion had given it 
value to his own ear, and he felt a composure in it 
that completely relieved him of his anger of the mo- 

64 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ment before. This repose was, if possible, more gall 
ing to Hardmuth than the criticism had been. Argu 
ment exhausted, he resorted to the final test accord 
ing to his experience. 

"I'll bet you a thousand dollars I'm the next prose 
cuting attorney for this city." 

"I'll take half of that if you can place it," Brook- 
field answered, readily adopting Hardmuth 's point of 
view. "I'll bet even money you're anything in poli 
tics that you go after for the next ten years; but 
I'll give odds that the time will come when you're 
'way up there, full of honor and reputation and 
pride, and somebody will drop to you, Frank; then 
flosh!" Brookfield turned his hand, graphically 
dramatizing the flop of a landed fish on a dock 
"you for the down-and-outs." 

"Rot!" 

"It's the same in every game in the world the 
crook either gets too gay or gets too slow, or both, 
and the 'come on' sees him make the pass. I've 
been pall-bearer for three of the slickest men that 
ever shuffled a deck in Kentucky just a little too 
slick, that's all and they've always got it when it 
was hardest for the family." 

"So that will be my finish, will it?" 

"Sure!" 

Hardmuth puffed his cigar a moment, mentally 
contemplating the prospect, and then as his mind 
came back to the proposition in hand, and to the con 
siderations against him, he asked, angrily: 

"You like the moral fibre of this young Whipple 
kid?" 

65 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"I don't know." 

"Weak as dish-water." 

"I don't think so." 

"I'll do him at any game you name." 

"He's only a boy you should." 

"I'll do him at this game," Hardmuth persisted. 

"What game?" 

"The girl. I thought I could count on you because 
well, for the very tips that you hold against me; 
but you're only her uncle, old man, after all." 

"That's all," Brookfield said, smiling; but there 
was more threat than admission in tone and eye. 

"And if she says yes " 

"Frank!" Jack's temper was plainly rising; he 
paused in an evident effort to control it. When he 
spoke again Hardmuth noticed that there was more 
menace in his manner. "Some day the truth will 
come out as to who murdered a governor-elect of 
this State." 

"Is there any doubt about that ?" Hardmuth non 
chalantly shook the ashes from his cigar. 

"Isn't there?" came in that deadly monotone of 
Brookfield's. 

"The man that fired the shot is in jail." Hard- 
muth's tone carried more fervor than a simple reply 
would seem to have demanded. 

Brookfield's voice kept on its even, threatening 
level, as though the pause had been for effect rather 
than for Hardmuth's answer. 

"I don't want my niece mixed up in it." 

"What do you mean by that?" 

Hardmuth was now facing the gambler, livid and 
66 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

trembling, his eyes narrowed to little gleaming slits. 
There was no weakness or wavering in the man who 
faced him. Brookfield had said the thing that he had 
promised himself a hundred times he would never 
say, the thing that, even now reluctantly said to pro 
tect his niece, it would never, he felt, be necessary to 
repeat. The situation was in Hardmuth's parlance 
a veritable show-down. One question more, one 
more answer, and there would be blows or a cring 
ing criminal and his master. 

Helen entered the room. The visual duel between 
the men was broken. Hardmuth turned to Helen 
with an inquiry concerning the young people, and 
when informed that they were still at the billiard- 
table, mumbled something about "looking them 
over," and left the room. 

"Won't you come, too?" Helen asked Jack, with a 
seriousness that showed her coming into the room, 
had not been casual. 

"I'd rather stay here with you." 

"That gentleman that called after supper " 

"Mr. Denning?" Jack prompted. 

"Yes. He seems to take pleasure in annoying 
Clay." 

"Yes; I know that side of Denning." 

Brookfield turned toward the dining-room and 
called Ellinger. When he entered, Jack asked him to 
go into the billiard-room and look after Denning. 

"What's he doing?" Lew inquired of Helen. 

"Commenting humorously, and hiding the chalk, 
and so on," she replied. 

"Lit up a little, I suppose," Lew suggested to Jack. 
67 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Jack nodded, and, motioning Ellinger on his way, 
said, "Just ride herd on him." 

Helen wavered in her impulse to follow Ellinger to 
the billiard-room, and finally yielded to Jack as he 
indicated a chair. 

"He doesn't seem much of a gentleman this Mr. 
Denning," she said. 

"He wasn't expected to-night." 

"Is he one of your clients?" There was more 
sarcasm than consideration in Helen's choice of the 
word. Jack acknowledged it with a smile. 

"One of my clients." 

"Clay meets him here?" 

"Yes has met him here." 

"I didn't think you'd do that, Jack, with my boy." 

"Do what?" 

"Gamble." 

"It's no gamble with your boy, Helen," Jack said, 
lightly, "it's a sure thing; he hasn't won a dollar." 

"I'm glad you're able to smile over it." 

"Perhaps it would seem more humorous to you if 
he'd won?" 

"If he plays I'd rather see him win, of course." 

"That put me in the business winning," Jack 
said, seriously. "The thing that makes every gam 
bler stick to it is winning occasionally. I've never 
let your boy get up from the table a dollar to the 
good, and because he was your boy." 

"Why let him play at all?" 

"He'll play somewhere until he gets sick of it or 
marries," Jack answered, wearily. 

"Will marriage cure it?" 
68 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"It would have cured me, but you didn't see it 
that way." 

"You made your choice." 

"I asked you to trust me; you wanted some iron 
clad pledge well, my dear Helen, that wasn't the 
best way to handle a fellow of spirit." 

"So you chose the better way?" 

"No choice I stood pat, that's all." 

"And wasted your life." 

"That depends on how you look at it. You mar 
ried a doctor who wore himself out in the Philadel 
phia hospitals. I've had three meals a day, and this 
place and a pretty fat farm and a stable with some 
good blood in it." 

"And every one of them, Jack, is a monument to 
the worst side of you," Helen interrupted. The 
criticism was robbed of its implied severity by her 
manner, as she walked toward him more in pity than 
in rebuke. Jack took both her hands in his as he 
answered : 

"Prejudice, my dear Helen, prejudice. You might 
say that if I'd earned these things in some respectable 
combination that starved out all its little competi 
tors." Brookfield held the prevalent political disap 
proval of monopolies. "But I've simply furnished 
a fairly expensive entertainment to eminent citizens 
looking for rest." 

Helen shook her head at Jack's indulgent descrip 
tion of his business. 

"I know all the arguments of your profession 
Jack, and I don't pretend to answer them any more 
than I answer the arguments of reckless women, who 

69 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

claim that they are more commendable than their 
sisters who make loveless marriages." 

"I'm not flattered by the implied comparison 
still" 

"I only feel sure," Helen went on, "that anything 
which the majority of good people condemn is wrong." 
She turned from him with an air of finality. 

"I'm sorry," Jack said. 

"I'd be glad if you meant that but you're not 
sorry." 

"I am sorry I'm sorry not to have public respect, 
as long as you think it's valuable." 

"I amuse you, don't I?" 

Jack followed her across the room and took the 
chair at the end of the table opposite to that upon 
which she seated herself. He passed his hand wearily 
over his eyes. 

"Not a little bit," he said; "but you make me as 
blue as the devil, if that's any satisfaction." 

"I'd be glad to make you as blue as the devil, 
Jack," Helen said, resolutely, "if it meant discontent 
with what you are doing if it could make you do 
better." 

"I'm a pretty old leopard to get nervous about my 
spots." 

"Why are you blue?" 

"You." 

"In what way?" 

"I had hoped that twenty years of charitable deeds 
had made you also charitable in your judgment." 

"I hope they have." 

"Don't seem to ease up on my specialty." 
70 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"You called your conduct wild oats twenty years 
ago." 

"It was; but I found such an excellent market for 
my wild oats that I had to stay in that branch of the 
grain business. Besides, it has been partly your 
fault, you know." 

"Mine?" 

Jack nodded. "Your throwing me over for my 
wild oats put it up to me to prove that they were a 
better thing than you thought." 

"Well, having demonstrated that ?" Helen waited. 

Jack, feeling that his financial prosperity and the* 
evidences of physical comfort surrounding them was 
a sufficient answer, extended his hands complacently, 
and with a self-satisfied air added, lazily: 

"Here we are." 

"Yes," assented Helen, her tone showing that she 
had more regard for the sentimental aspect of the 
case, "here we are." 

"Back in the old town," Jack added, bringing the 
consideration to a neutral ground. Then, as he 
leaned forward on the table in the playful manner of 
the old Jack, the manner that had been so irresistibly 
potent in their younger days: "Don't you think it 
would be a rather pretty finish, Helen, if, despite all 
my leopard's spots, and despite that that Philadel 
phia episode of yours 

"You call twenty years of marriage episodic?" 
Helen broke in, half playfully. 

"I call any departure from the main story episodic." 

There was a quiet authority in Jack's tone that 
compelled Helen to put the leading question: 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"And the main story is ?" 

"You and I." 

"Oh " Helen had been balancing the heavy 
paper-cutter in seesaw fashion on the edge of the 
table. The positiveness of Jack's answer had occu 
pied her sole attention for the moment, and the paper- 
cutter fell to the floor with a noticeable thud. Jack 
picked it up. On one side, near the handle, the cut 
ter was faintly engraved, "Jack, from Helen." It 
was one of the few gifts she had made him in her 
girlhood days. Jack recalled the afternoon that they 
had leaned above the stationer's showcase in which 
it had been displayed; his admiration for the imple 
ment ; Helen's amusement at some playful remark of 
his about the owner of such a paper-cutter being able 
not only to gain with it, but also to enforce a liter 
ary opinion; he remembered the somewhat astonish 
ing price the dealer had put upon it a price geomet 
ric in its relation to the cost of smaller paper-cutters 
and his delight in its possession on the anniver 
sary Helen had chosen to send it to him. Of all the 
articles in this curiously fitted library of his, this was 
his favorite. There was a natural streak of super 
stition in Brookfield, a superstition which his busi 
ness had considerably cultivated; he attributed but 
few of the things that happened in his day to accident. 
That Helen should drop this piece of ivory which for 
so many years had been a memento of her, and in con 
sequence should bring him to her side, Brookfield re 
garded as significant. Lifting the ivory knife from 
the floor, he covered both her hands, still resting on 
the edge of the table, with his disengaged hand, and 

72 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

holding the paper-cutter as he would have held a 
sword, he said, in a tone of dreamy persuasion and of 
unmistakable resolution : 

"Wouldn't it be a pretty finish, Helen, if you took 
my hand and I could walk right up to the camera 
and say, 'I told you so." 

Helen made no answer during the pause that fol 
lowed, and with an air of possession Jack added: 

"You know I always felt that you were coming 
back." 

"Oh, did you?" 

"Had a candle burning in that window every 
night." 

"You're sure it wasn't a red light?" 

"Dear Helen, have some poetry in your composi 
tion. Literally a red light, of course." Jack accept 
ed the allusion to his business. "But the real flame 
was here" he put his hand on his breast "a flick 
ering hope that somewhere somehow somewhen I 
should be at rest with the proud Helen that loved and 
rode away." 

Jack's assumption of playfulness could not disguise 
his sincerity of feeling. He had moved behind the 
table, and was smiling down upon the beautiful wom 
an who sat at the other end of it. 

Helen was not smiling. There was something in 
the steadiness of her glance that Jack felt was meant 
for accusation. She answered with conviction in her 
even voice: 

' ' I believe you . ' ' 

"Of course you believe me." Brookfield attempt 
ed a counterpointing lightness. 

73 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"You had a way, Jack," Helen continued, reminis- 
cently "a way when you were a boy at college of 
making me write to you." 

"Had I?" 

"You know you had. At night about this hour 
I'd find it impossible to sleep until I'd got up and 
written to you and two days later I'd get from you 
a letter that had crossed mine on the road. I don't 
believe the word 'telepathy' had been coined then, 
but I guessed something of the force, and all these 
years I've felt it nagging nagging." 

"Nagging?" 

"Yes I could keep you out of my waking hours, 
out of my thought; but when I surrendered myself 
to sleep the call would come and I think it was 
rather cowardly of you, really." 

Jack was too well read in the current and semi- 
scientific comment of the day to pretend any doubt 
of the sinister influence that Helen's speech implied. 
His strain of superstition also made him readily 
tolerant of the imputation, but the knowledge of 
his own intent made him ascribe her view entirely 
to what he was pleased to call a feminine sentimen 
tality. Helen's earnestness, therefore, produced in 
him only amusement. His reply was playful. 

"I plead guilty to having thought of you, Helen 
lots and it was generally when I was alone late 
my my clients gone and it was in this room, 

" ' Whose lights are fled, 
Whose garlands dead, 
And all save him departed.' " 

74 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

And with the quotation of the old song they had 
frequently sung together, Jack put his hand theatri 
cally upon his breast. 

Helen, overlooking his inhospitable reception of 
her psychical suggestion, accepted Jack's mood and 
met his airy flight. 

"And as you say here we are." 

"Well, what of my offer?" Jack promptly chal 
lenged. "Shall we say to the world 'we told you 
so'? What of my picturesque finish?" 

He leaned over her chair and held the hand that 
lay upon the table. Helen thrilled to the double ap 
peal of the vibrant voice and physical nearness of her 
old lover it required all her resolution to answer, in 
measured tones: 

"You know my ideas you've known them twenty- 
two years." 

"No modifications?" Jack pleaded. 

"None." 

Brookfield sighed. He moved from behind Helen's 
chair to a point within her vision, and pointing to the 
floor above, in the rooms of which most of the para 
phernalia of the establishment was arranged, he said: 

"I'm willing to sell the tables and well, I don't 
think I could get interested in this bridge game that 
the real good people play would you object to a 
gentleman's game of draw now and then?" 

"You called it a gentleman's game in those days." 

"No leeway at all?" 

"No compromise, Jack no." 

Brookfield passed his hand wearily across his eyes 
as he had done earlier in the interview. His keen 
6 75 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

sense of humor saw something rather droll in this 
attitude of himself and Helen her implied condi 
tions, his apparent consideration and with a quick 
deference that had always been part of his charm 
where women were concerned he said: 

" I trust you won't consider my seeming hesitation 
uncomplimentary. 

"Not unprecedented, at least." And Helen smiled 
in recollection of a smilar conclusion some two-and- 
twenty years before. 

"You see, it opens up a new line of thought," Jack 
said, reflectively. He pressed his fingers over his 
eyes. 

"And you have a headache, too," Helen recollected, 
with sudden compunction. " It isn't kind, I'm sure." 
She stood up and took Jack's hand in hers. 

The hall-boy, Jo, came in to announce that the gen 
tleman who had telephoned about the picture was 
below. Jack asked Helen not to go away, as the 
interview would be short, and he added : 

"I think we can settle this question to-night, you 
and I." 

" Please don't put me in the light of waiting for an 
answer," she said, with gentle raillery. 

" Dear Helen, we're both past that, aren't we ? If 
I could only be sure to prove worthy of you! I'm the 
one that's waiting for an answer from my own weak 
character and rotten irresolution." 

It was all the confession that Helen could have 
wished. Jack lifted the hand that he still held and 
kissed it gently. He kept her hand in his until they 
reached the doorway, and still, as she was going, held 

76 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

it so fast as to arrest her progress. But she would 
not turn her face to him, and after a moment's firm 
pressure Jack released his hold, and she quickly dis 
appeared. The interview, light as it had been at 
times, playful as Jack had tried to make it, had 
nevertheless stirred both natures as deeply as two 
people of their maturity and experience could be 
stirred. They had reconnoitred and established the 
most momentous question that could come into the 
life of either. 

Brookfield turned solemnly back to the table, to 
the empty chair, to the paper-cutter that somehow 
seemed to have taken a part in their renewed rela 
tionship. He smiled as he thought of it, handling the 
ivory knife fondly Helen's long-ago gift! The hour, 
the very atmosphere of the room, seemed potentially 
vibrant ; he was moved to an unwonted degree as he 
muttered to himself: 

"They say cards make a fellow superstitious well, 
I guess they do." 



VI 

A") Jo ushered the gentleman into the room, Brook- 
field recognized him at once as the stranger 
whose gaze had so affected him in the theatre. He 
saw a man whose age was in the neighborhood of 
seventy, slight and graceful in figure, and noticeably 
erect for a man so old. The face was poetic, yet not 
lacking in strength; the expression one of indulgent 
patience. Jo announced the visitor: 

"Judge De Brennus." 

Brookfield repeated the name with a declination of 
welcome. There was a half twinkle of amusement 
between them as the visitor, after a glance at the 
negro boy, corrected his announcement "Justice 
Prentice." 

" Oh, Justice Prentice!" said Jack, in immediate rec 
ognition of the name; " good evening." Jo left them. 

"You are Mr. Brookfield?" 

"Yes," Jack assured his visitor. 

" I shouldn't have attempted so late a call but that 
a friend pointed you out to-night at the opera, Mr. 
Brookfield, and said that your habit was well " 

"Not to retire immediately?" Jack suggested. 

The Justice nodded with a smile. 

"Will you be seated?" Brookfield indicated an 
easy-chair. 

78 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

" I'm only passing through the city," said the Jus 
tice. " I called to see a Corot that I understand you 
bought from Knoedler." 

"That's it." And Brookfield pointed to the canvas 
which earlier in the evening Clay had been telling 
Viola was his inspiration for the decoration of the 
room. 

"Thank you you don't object to my looking at 
it?" 

"Not at all." Brookfield touched a button and 
turned on the battery of lights above the picture. 
The old Justice regarded the canvas affectionately 
for a moment, and then said: 

"That's it. I thought at one time that I would 
buy this picture." 

"You know it, then?" 

"Yes. Are you particularly attached to it, Mr. 
Brookfield?" 

"I think not irrevocably." 

"Oh." 

Brookfield, divining that his caller was a possible 
purchaser, took from the table a pad of paper and 
busied himself with a slight computation covering 
the cost of the Corot, the interest on the invest 
ment, and the like. He had seated himself where the 
table interposed between his hands and the gaze of 
his visitor, and he thought himself unobserved. At 
any rate, the Justice, with his eyes still upon the can 
vas, had no chance to see him, yet after a moment's 
interval he inquired: 

" Do I understand that is what you paid for it, or 
what you intend to ask me for it?" 

79 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"What?" 

"Sixty-five hundred." 

Brookfield's glance involuntarily sought the figures 
on the paper. 

"I didn't speak the price, did I?" 

"Didn't you? Oh" the Justice paused "I 
couldn't pay that amount." 

"That's its price, however," Brookfield said, struck 
by the remarkable coincidence between the sum 
named and the one he had written on the pad. 

"I regret I didn't buy it from the dealer when I 
had my chance." The Justice looked about the 
room. "I couldn't have given it so beautiful a set 
ting, Mr. Brookfield, nor such kindred, but it would 
not have been friendless." 

The speaker crossed to the fireplace, regarding a 
second canvas that was hanging there. 

"That's a handsome marine." 

"Yes." 

"Pretty idea I read recently in an essay of Dr. 
van Dyke's his pictures were for him windows by 
which he looked out from his study into the world." 

There was no answer or comment from Brookfield, 
and the Justice added, interrogatively: 

"Yes?" 

"Quite so." Brookfield roused from his reverie. 

The Justice left off contemplating the picture 
above the fireplace, and moved to another hanging 
over the doorway that led to the dining-room. His 
back was now fully turned toward Brookfield, who 
looked at him with an increasing interest. The Jus 
tice, glancing over his shoulder, said : 

80 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"M Washington." 

"What?" 

"My home is Washington I thought you asked 
me." 

"No, I didn't," answered Brookfield, a trifle petu 
lantly. 

"I beg your pardon." And again the Justice fell 
to looking at the picture. 

Jack rose from his chair, every nerve alert and 
every sense taut as he said to himself, under his 
breath : 

"But I'm damned if I wasn't just going to ask 
him!" 

"And the phases of your world, Mr. Brookfield, 
have been very prettily multiplied." The visitor was 
looking about the room with ordinary ease, and ap 
parently unaware that he had startled his host. 

"Thank you," Brookfield said, answering the state 
ment. " May I offer you a cigar ?" 

"Thank you, I won't smoke." 

"Or a glass of wine?" 

"Nothing. I will return to the hotel, first asking 
you again to excuse my untimely call." The old 
gentleman retraced his steps across the room to a 
position in front of the Corot, taking his hat from the 
table as he did so, preparatory to going. 

"I wish you'd sit down awhile." Brookfield had 
a desire to know more of the man. The Justice, un 
mindful of the interruption, continued: 

" But I didn't know until I missed it from Knoed- 
ler's how large a part of my world my dream-world 
I had been looking at through that frame." 

81 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Well, if it's a sentimental matter, Mr. Justice, we 
might talk it over." 

"I mustn't submit the sentimental side of it, Mr. 
Brookfield, and where I have so so intruded." 

"That's the big side of anything for me the senti 
mental." 

"I'm sure of it and I mustn't take advantage of 
that knowledge." 

"You're sure of it?" Brookfield asked, uneasily. 

"Yes." 

"Is that my reputation?" 

"I don't know your reputation." 

"Then how are you sure of it?" 

"Oh, I see you," said the Justice, looking at him 
steadily, "and well, we have met." 

For the second time that night Brookfield was con 
scious of that pair of eyes ; for the second time in his 
life, as far as he could remember, that creepy feeling 
of unreasonable fear tingled over his shoulders and 
through the roots of his hair. Brookfield felt, as the 
Justice looked at him, that not only his life but his 
mind and his very soul were open books to that pene 
trating gaze. There was in it nothing of menace, yet 
it required all of Brookfield's fortitude to meet it. 
He would have liked to speak to say some defensive 
thing, but he uttered only an impotent and half- 
audible "Oh!" 

The spell, if spell it were, was lifted by a pleasant 
bow from the Justice and an equally pleasant "Good 
night." The old gentleman had reached the doorway, 
and was in the hall before Brookfield pulled himself 
together sufficiently to say: 

82 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"One moment." The Justice turned inquiringly. 
"You said your address was Washington?" 

"Yes." 

"You thought at the time I was about to ask you 
that question?" 

"I thought you had asked it," the Justice answered, 
quite honestly and easily, at the same time retracing 
his steps into the room. 

"And you thought a moment before I had said 
sixty-five hundred for the picture?" 

"Yes." 

"Do you often pick answers that way?" Brookfield 
asked, affecting a lightness which he by no means 
felt. 

"Well, I think we all do at times." 

"We all do?" 

"Yes; but we speak the answers only as we get 
older and less attentive, and mistake a person's 
thought for his spoken word." 

"A person's thought?" 

"Yes." 

"Do you mean that you know what I think?" 
And again, although this time there was nothing 
penetrating in the old man's look, Brookfield felt a 
premonition of that creepy feeling in the shoulders. 
It was dissipated by the human quality of Prentice's 
reply. 

"I hadn't meant to claim any monopoly of that 
power. It's my opinion that every one reads the 
thoughts of others that is, some of the thoughts." 

"Everyone?" 

"Oh yes." 

83 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"That I do?" 

' ' I should say you more generally than the majority 
of men." 

There was a moment's fraternity in the look that 
the Justice now fixed upon him a fraternity that 
robbed the penetration of all discomfiture. 

"There was a woman said something like that to 
me not ten minutes ago." 

"A woman would be very apt to be conscious 
of it." 

Jack looked at him, not altogether without be 
wilderment. 

"You really believe that that stuff?" 

"Oh yes; and I'm not a pioneer in the belief. The 
men who declare the stuff most stoutly are scientists 
who have given it most attention." 

"How do they prove it?" 

"They don't prove it that is, not universally. 
Each man must do that for himself, Mr. Brookfield." 

"How?" 

The Justice smiled patiently. "Well, I'll tell you 
all I know of it." 

Brookfield had taken Helen's chair at the end of 
the table was leaning forward on the table in his 
eagerness. The Justice again put down his hat, and 
with the manner of a man who felt that he was per 
forming a duty to an inquirer, and with an entire 
absence of display, he said, in a voice the melody and 
modulation of which Brookfield was beginning to 
notice pleasurably: 

"Every thought is active that is, born of a desire 
and travels from us, or it is born of the desire of 

84 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

some one else and comes to us. We send them out 
or we take them in that is all." 

"How do we know which we are doing?" 

"If we are idle and empty-headed our brains are 
the play-rooms for the thoughts of others frequently 
rather bad. If we are active, whether benevolently 
or malevolently, our brains are work-shops power 
houses. I was passively regarding the picture. Your 
active idea of the price registered, that is all; so did 
your wish to know where I was from." 

Brookfield moved earnestly and uneasily in his 
chair. He started ineffectually to say something, 
and then, out of the rush of questions that clamored 
for answer, he blurted: 

"You say 'our brains.' Do you still include mine ?" 

"Yes." " 

"You said mine more than the majority of men's?" 

"I think so." 

"Why hasn't this whatever it is effect happened 
to me, then?" 

"It has." 

"Why didn't I know it?" 

' ' Vanity perhaps. ' ' 

"Vanity?" 

"Yes often some friend has broached some inde 
pendent subject, and you have said, 'I was just going 
to speak of that myself. " : 

"Very often; but" 

"Believing the idea was your own, your vanity shut 
out the probably proper solution that it was his." 

"Well, how then does a man tell which of his 
thoughts are his own?" 

85 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"It's difficult most of his idle ones are not. 
When we drift we are with the current. To go 
against it, or make even an eddy of our own, we must 
swim most everything less than that is helpless." 

"Well, I haven't been exactly helpless," Jack said, 
smiling. 

"No one would call you so, Mr. Brookfield you 
have a strong psychic a strong hypnotic power." 

"You think so?" 

"I know it." 

"This business?" Brookfield mimicked the stereo 
typed gesture of the mesmerizer. 

"That business," answered Prentice, smiling at the 
word, "for the beginner." 

"You mean that I could hypnotize anybody?" 

"Many persons yes; but I wouldn't do it if I were 
vou." And the Justice took his hat to go. 

"Why not?" ' 

"Grave responsibility." 

"In what way?" 

The Justice inhaled deeply, as if to embark upon 
an extended explanation ; then Brookfield saw a wave 
of fatigue and amusement cross his face as the extent 
of his proposed undertaking evidently appalled him. 
Perceiving that his host was aware of this, the Justice 
answered, with a smile distinctly paternal: 

"I'll send you a book about it if I may." 

"Instructions?" 

"And cautions yes. If you tire of your Corot" 
the Justice turned again to the door and the picture 
hanging beside it ' ' I should be glad to hear from you." 

"Why can't I save postage by just thinking an- 
86 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

other price?" bantered Brookfield, following the 
Justice out of the library. 

Prentice met him in his own spirit as he replied: 
"The laws on contracts haven't yet recognized that 
form of tender." 

Brookfield had said good-night to his visitor, and 
was lingering, thoughtfully, in the hallway when 
the sound of raised voices reached his ears. He 
hurried back to the library, wondering, as he heard 
Denning's tipsy laugh, what mischief he was up to 
now. 

Despite Ellinger's efforts to control Denning the 
latter had continued to annoy Clay and Viola in their 
very amateur attempts at billiards, and several trips 
across the hall to the sideboard in the dining-room 
had not tended to improve his pleasantries. From 
mere playfulness his intrusions had taken on the char 
acter of opposition; this opposition had developed 
into ugliness, and finally into aggression. In all of 
these phases his attack had been secretly aggravated 
by Hardmuth, who saw with delight the inexperienced 
boy, under the strain and irritation, appearing in less 
and less favorable light before Viola. 

Once when Denning had confronted Clay at the 
rail of the billiard-table, both Ellinger and Viola, who 
with Hardmuth constituted the remaining company 
in the billiard-room, had noticed the boy suddenly 
quail and turn away from his tormentor. As Denning 
again approached him they heard Clay suddenly call 
out in evident terror: 

"Don't come near me with that scarf-pin!" 
87 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

The eccentricity of Clay's aversion called Ellinger's 
attention to the pin which the young millionaire was 
wearing an ordinary stick-pin fitted with the semi 
precious stone commonly known as a cat's-eye. 

Denning, in his intoxication, was hardly to be 
blamed for not understanding the character of Clay's 
objection to his scarf-pin; Ellinger himself didn't un 
derstand it; but the boy's excitement when the pin 
came within the range of his vision was only too 
evident. 

As Denning followed him Clay threw his cue on 
the table and started to leave the room. Denning, 
in a return of playfulness, caught the boy by the 
shoulder and turned him so that they faced each 
other. 

"What's the matter with my scarf-pin?" 

"I don't like it," Clay answered, as he covered his 
eyes with his hand. 

"Well, I don't like your face," the young rowdy 
retorted, annoyed by the criticism. 

Viola, alarmed at the occurrence which had now 
taken on almost the character of a physical conflict, 
went quickly from the room in search of her mother 
and Mrs. Whipple. The boy, breaking from his tor 
mentor, ran across the hallway and through the din 
ing-room as Denning, with a view to intercepting him, 
lurched into the library from which Justice Prentice 
and Brookfield had just gone. 

"J'ever see anything's funny as that? He don't 
like my scarf-pin. Well, I don't like it, but my valet 
put it on me, and what's the difference?" 

Hardmuth, who had missed the explanation for the 
88 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

explosive conduct of the boy, followed Ellinger and 
Denning. 

"What was that?" 

"My scarf-pin," answered Denning. 

"Scarf-pin?" 

"Yes; he pushed me away from him, and I said, 
'What's the matter?' He said, 'I don't like your 
scarf - pin '; 'and I said, 'Don't? I don't like your 
face.'" 

"That was very impolite, with a lady there," El- 
linger said. 

"Why should he criticise Tom's scarf-pin?" Hard- 
muth asked, combatively. 

"Exactly," continued Denning. "I said, T can 
change my scarf-pin, but I don't like your face." 

At this moment Clay entered from the dining-room 
and moved toward the hallway. 

"Where's Jack?" he paused to ask Ellinger. 

"Saying good-night to some old gentleman below." 

Denning grabbed the boy by the lapel of the coat 
as he was going, and repeated, in a brow -beating 
manner: 

"And I don't like your face." 

"That's all right, Mr. Denning." Clay tried to 
pass him. "Excuse me." 

"Excuse me," echoed Denning, as he held on to the 
boy, and at the same time, with his disengaged hand, 
drew the scarf-pin from his tie, "what's the matter 
with that scarf-pin?" 

"It's a cat's-eye," answered the boy, tremblingly, 
"and I don't like them, that's all I don't like to 
look at them." 

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THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Let him alone, Tom," Ellinger expostulated. 

"Damned if he ain't scared of it!" laughed Denning, 
waving the pin in annoying proximity to the boy's 
face. 

"Don't do that!" Clay screamed, in tones that were 
audible through the hallways. 

"It won't bite you, will it?" Hardmuth sneered, in 
manifest contempt for the boy's weakness. 

"It will bite him," Denning answered, pushing the 
pin against Clay's cheek and barking in imitation of 
a dog. 

"Don't, I tell you don't!" screamed the boy. 

"Bow-wow-wow!" persisted the drunkard. 

The lad made a frantic effort to free himself from 
Denning, and with both hands succeeded in pushing 
him a step or two away. Denning, cheered on by 
the applause and laughter of Hardmuth, as well as 
by the mere physical excitement of the contest, 
lurched toward the boy again, waving the objection 
able pin before him. Clay turned to escape the 
table was in his way. As his hands fell upon it one 
of them mechanically clutched the large ivory paper- 
cutter lying on the table. Without intent to injure, 
with no motive but to escape, with nothing but the 
instinctive resistance of a hunted animal, the boy 
struck in the direction of his pursuer. The heavy 
tusk of greater weight than an equal billet of green 
oak caught Denning just above the temple. A 
second and a third time Clay struck with the unrea 
soning impulse of panic and defence. The drunkard 
swayed a moment under the blows, and fell, an inert 
mass, at the feet of Ellinger just as Brookfield, having 

90 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

dismissed his visitor and alarmed by the cries, came 
hurriedly into the room. Brookfield saw the falling 
figure; he saw the frightened and livid boy, scarcely 
understanding what he had done and yet aghast at 
what he comprehended. Jack called to him. 

"He pushed that horrible cat's-eye right against my 
face!" the boy cried, with trembling lips. 

"What cat's-eye?" 

"Only playing with him," Hardmuth answered, 
with the bitterness of the prosecutor, as he stooped 
and picked up the jewel "a scarf-pin." 

Ellinger was kneeling over Denning, and tried to 
lift his head. He now turned, and, in laconic phrase 
ology most familiar to his hearers, said: 

"He's out, Jack." 

Brookfield also knelt beside him, critically examin 
ing the stricken man. 

"I didn't mean to hurt him," Clay lamented "real 
ly I didn't mean that!" 

"The hell you didn't!" Hardmuth accused, taking 
the paper-cutter from the boy. "Why, you could kill 
a bull with that ivory tusk!" 

Jo and Harvey, the darky servants, had entered 
the room. Mrs. Campbell, having been on an upper 
floor, had not heard the cries of the boy, but had 
decided to leave the house upon the report which 
Viola had brought from the billiard-room. She had 
now come to announce her departure. 

"Wait a minute," her brother commanded. Then 
speaking to the negroes, he said, "Help Mr. El- 
linger put him on the window-seat give him some 
air." 

7 91 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Brookfield pointed into the dining-room. Ellinger 
and the darkies carried Denning from the library. 

''What is it?" Mrs. Campbell inquired, startled at 
the scene before her. 

"An accident," Jack answered. "Keep Helen and 
Viola out of these rooms." 

"Hadn't we better go? Clay is with us." 

"I can't go just now, Mrs. Campbell," Clay said, 
following the figure of Denning as it was carried from 
the room. "I hope it isn't serious--! didn't mean to 
hurt him really." 

"A quarrel?" Mrs. Campbell queried, looking from 
her brother to Hardmuth. 

There was a momentary pause as the men's eyes 
followed the direction in which Denning had been 
carried out. Ellinger now returned to Brookfield with 
a single gesture of hopeless import. 

"A murder!" 1, .ruth answered. 

His reply was o^ eard by Mrs. Whipple and Viola 
as they entered' tho . oom. Before they co^ld inquire 
its meaning Clay, wild-eyed and terror-st .en, ame 
running from the dining-room, calling as he saw h:'s 
mother: 

"I've killed him, mother! I've killed him!" 

"Killed him! whom?" 

"Tom Denning," Hardmuth made reply, in per 
sistent accusation. 

"But I never meant it!" Clay cried, pathetically. 
"I just struck him, Jack struck wild!" 

"With this," Hardmuth added, malevolently, hold 
ing the ivory tusk bludgeon fashion. 

"With that Oh, my boy!" And Helen took 
92 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

the trembling lad in her arms. Tears were in Viola's 
eyes. 

"That will do," said Brookfield, taking command 
of the situation; "that will do, everybody." 

The agitated group became for the moment obedi 
ent and attentive. 

" Lew, telephone Dr. Monroe it's an emergency case, 
and to come in his dressing-gown and slippers." 
Ellinger left the room. "Alice, I know you're not 
afraid of a sick man or that sort of thing. Help 
me and Jo." Brookfield put his arm about his sister 
preparatory to leading her to where Denning's pros 
trate form lay, turned, and, addressing his niece, said, 
"Viola, you take Mrs. Whipple up-stairs and wait 
there." 

Hardmuth, craftily assuming a part in the general 
atmosphere of action, started for the hall, saying as 
he did so: 

" I'll notify the police." 

The words struck the women like a blow. Helen's 
heart-broken moan was lost in the imperative " Stop!" 
that rang out from Brookfield ; then, interposing him 
self between Hardmuth and the doorway, he added, 
in a tone of unmistakable menace: 

"You'll stay just where you are!" 

"Are you trying to hide this thing?" Hardmuth 
challenged. 

"The doctor will tell us exactly what this thing 
is," Jack answered, with undiminished positiveness, 
"and then the boy will have the credit himself of 
notifying the police." 



VII 

nPHE testimony of eye-witnesses, all anxious to be 
1 honest, is difficult to reconcile. The difficulty 
increases with time, even though the anxiety to be 
honest persists. Impressions grow dim, vivid mental 
reflections get mistaken for actual happenings, prej 
udice colors, discolors, or bleaches recollection ; things 
heard are remembered as things seen; inaccuracies 
repeated take on the authority of fact all this in 
the testimony of eye-witnesses. Add to that the 
emphasis and exaggeration of the fairest - minded 
hearsay, and to this the distortion of intentional 
misrepresentation, and we have the matrix in which 
the public estimate of an occurrence is cast. 

A murder in the gambling-house of Brookfield, al 
though mainly dependent upon causes utterly un 
connected with the business of the establishment, 
was soon accepted as a natural consequence of that 
business, as an unanswerable argument for the sup 
pression of it, and also as an added reason for the 
ostracism of the proprietor. 

The game at Brookfield's closed. 

The public attributed this to fear. The real cause 
was Brookfield's sensitiveness and sympathy. An ir 
reparable calamity had befallen the woman he loved. 
Her son was to be tried for his life, because of an 

94 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

offence growing out of a situation for which he felt 
himself measurably responsible. Viola, the niece 
whom Brookfield loved with a tenderness exceeding 
that of many a father, was suffering an affliction al 
most equal to that of Helen herself. 

During the first weeks of Clay's imprisonment, the 
time covered by the notoriety and comment, by the 
application for bail and its refusal, by the coroner's 
inquiry and the indictment, Hardmuth had ap 
proached Brookfield with a covert proposal to lessen 
the rigor of the prosecution if given assurance that 
Viola would accept him as a suitor. The arrange 
ment had been suggested with an indirection of which 
Hardmuth was a master, but this approach, skilful 
as it was, precipitated a collision between him and 
Brookfield that stopped all sentimental pretence on 
Hardmuth's side and all hope in the mind of Brook- 
field for any consideration at the hands of the prose 
cution. 

Brookfield's energies and resources were at once 
conserved and applied to the task of liberating Clay 
from the consequences of Denning's death. 

The best legal talent was retained. The para 
phernalia of the gambling - house was sold. Mrs. 
Campbell and Viola were induced to give up their 
own apartments and again make their home with 
Brookfield. Helen, whose need to be near her son 
made a protracted stay in Louisville probable, was 
persuaded to join them. Their common affliction 
united them in one intimate and sympathetic family 
group. 

The long delay necessary to the preparation of the 

95 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

case, both by the prosecution and by the defence, was 
filled with weary days of corroding anxiety. 

All that money and affection could provide in the 
prison conditions as they then existed in Louisville was 
procured for Clay. The old Jefferson Street jail was 
not a sanitary structure. That part of the building 
in which Clay was lodged was lighted and ventilated 
only by a skylight above the court, around which ran 
three tiers of cells, each tier opening onto an iron 
gallery or balcony, on which the prisoners took their 
daily exercise. The associates of the boy, during this 
waiting period of incarceration, were two or three 
men like himself, under indictment for capital offences, 
and a varying number from thirty to fifty charged 
with felonies and lesser crimes. 

Through the influence of Brookfield and the sym 
pathy of the jailer, Clay was permitted to have a lit 
tle cell to himself. Permission was also given to fur 
nish the cell with such simple necessities as the boy 
had been accustomed to have, and to send in meals 
superior to the usual prison fare from an adjacent 
restaurant. 

The most liberal construction in Clay's case was 
also put upon the rules that governed visits to the 
prisoners by their friends. At some time during every 
day Viola and his mother called on him. There were 
encouraging visits from the attorneys, and once or 
twice each week Brookfield dropped in to cheer him. 

Brookfield's time, however, in the main, was de 
voted to securing such expert testimony as would 
strengthen the contention of the defence, which the 
lawyers had decided should rest upon the inherited 

96 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

physical aversion that Clay had for the cat's-eye. To 
establish the existence of these idiosyncrasies, Brook- 
field read all the books upon the subject of which the 
conversation of the experts gave him any hint. 

In the related field of psychology, which this read 
ing opened up to him, Brookfield found that a fasci 
nating advance had been made since the date of the 
text-books he had perfunctorily read in his college 
days. 

Naturally superstitious as he was, with an imag 
ination more than normally active, Brookfield found 
himself standing on the threshold of a world un 
known in the presence of a power, a knowledge of 
which he believed would explain all that had been 
mysterious and baleful in his life. It seemed to him 
as though behind the screen of material appearance, 
and behind the web of tangible events, there was a 
force at work with an intent as definite as the purpose 
of an artistic weaver an intent to combine appar 
ently unrelated threads into figure, pattern, and de 
sign a force throwing its willing, unconscious, 
frightened, reluctant, or rebellious shuttles through 
the warp of time, weaving with events its own robe, 
through the form and texture and decoration of which 
the spirit of things might be faintly apprehended. In 
the hands of these forces it seemed to Brookfield that 
he himself and all his friends and acquaintances were 
but puppets. 

No event, no material thing, seemed accident or 
accidental. 

The visit of the opera company that had brought 
Hardmuth and Clay into relation and into opposition 

97 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

over Viola was a thread in the web of fate; his 
own boyish desire for the paper-cutter two- and - 
twenty years before was an immediate antecedent to 
its readiness as a weapon when Clay was impelled to 
strike; Helen's accidental dropping of it from the 
table to the floor when Brookfield was proposing to 
her was a notable intimation, by fate, that there 
would be this interruption to the courtship. This 
and a thousand other facts and incidents in his ca 
reer seemed so closely interknit and articulated that 
Brookfield felt himself helpless in a universe of steel. 

He was in this condition of introspection and ap 
prehension when he found one night, after a busy and 
nerve-racking day of interviews, a somewhat sub 
stantial packet on his table bearing the post-mark 
"Washington." Brookfield opened it. The packet 
contained a note from Justice Prentice and a book on 
psychic phenomena, which the jurist on his visit had 
promised to send him and now recommended to his 
attention. 

Brookfield read the book in one night. It was a 
scientific treatise almost devoid of technical terms, 
and addressed to the understanding of the layman. 
It set forth in simple, convincing, and logical pro 
cession a working hypothesis which gave him his first 
tangible hold on the question that haunted him. 

Granting the difference between various and per 
haps equally valuable definitions of the two sides of 
the human mind, the author of the book, for the sake 
of clearness in the mental picture he wished his reader 
to make, assumed that each individual was the pos 
sessor of two minds. The one of these two minds the 

98 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

more in evidence and more consciously possessed, the 
mind of our daily voluntary conduct and business, the 
mind that holds communication with other minds 
through the means of the five senses, he called the ob 
jective mind. 

This objective mind, with its five avenues of in 
formation, approach, and communication, was the 
temporary custodian, employer, teacher, and provider 
for a second mind more enduring and more richly 
stored than the objective mind ; more reliable also, in 
that it had charge of all the automatic action already 
possessed by the individual organism, and constantly 
took under its care all conduct that became habitual 
or automatic ; more powerful than the objective mind, 
in that it never slept, never forgot, never tired; wiser 
than the objective mind, in that it had access to every 
other mind and to the knowledge of every other mind 
on the same subjective plane as itself. 

Brookfield had one mental quality that distinguish 
ed him in a degree from most of his fellows. His 
power of visualization was greater than theirs. Such 
ideas as were capable of graphic representation he saw 
in pictures ; ideas that might not be so represented he 
saw in diagrams. 

It is probable that this ability to form a clear picture 
in the mind is the one that, according to the degree 
of its possession, determines the degree of a man's 
success. It is probable that the strongest individual 
will in the world would accomplish but little if its 
owner could form no conception of what he desired. 
It is probable, on the other hand, that a thing desired 
can be obtained by a man of very ordinary will power 

99 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

if a clear picture of that thing can be persistently 
held in the mind. 

"Where there's a will there's a way" is true only 
when the will is guided by the light of a defined 
desire. 

Brookfield had a will. He had also the ability of 
visualization. Along his chosen line Brookfield was 
a success. 

As he read the illuminating hypothesis of the author 
whose book Prentice had sent him, his vivid concep 
tion outshone the description in the volume. He saw 
before him a picture of the sea. Over the deep bosom 
of the water were billows, waves, and individual crests 
separating into drops of blown spray. To his mind's 
eye these drops and crests and waves and billows 
symbolized the objective minds of individuals, fami 
lies, communities, and peoples sprung from an ocean 
of infinite mind of which each was part and with 
which each and all had possible communication. 

Brookfield's own mind by constitution, by habit, 
and by a certain fallowness was most fertile soil for 
an invited analogy of this kind. The pictured idea 
took possession of him. 

He sat alone in his library. His imagination made 
the silence vocal with the hum of subtle and mys 
terious power. On every side of him wherever his 
gaze fell it encountered some object acquired in re 
sponse to an apparently vagrant whim, yet now all of 
these became intelligently eloquent and collaborative 
of the message he was just apprehending. Brook- 
field's habitual mental poise was for the moment too 
disturbed to enable him to see that the tonal agree- 

100 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ment between the objects was easily referable to the 
one taste and temperament that had dictated their 
choice and collection. When a lessening agitation 
did permit the approach of this idea he saw in that 
explanation itself only a more profound plan and pre- 
arrangement. 

Over the mantel of this room, as over the mantel in 
the dining-room, was a marine painting built into the 
wood-work a tossing sea with crests of spray. 

Brookfield was startled, not so much to note that 
the painted picture was the counterpart of the mental 
picture he had conjured, as he was at his failure to 
associate the painting and its mental reflection at the 
first moment. This very dissociation gave the canvas 
mystic importance and ambassadorial authority. 

The room was lighted by the hooded electrolier 
under which Brookfield had been reading. Its shade 
threw a half-gloom over walls and ceiling, a half- 
gloom made unstable and wavering by the flicker of 
the open fire. From the big clock in the hall a soft 
contralto bell struck two. 

Beneath the painting on the mantel was a bronze 
cast of the Antommarchi death-mask of Napoleon ; the 
inert touch of the lower lip against the uncovered 
teeth seemed trembling into the pronunciation of 
fate. On the other side of the room a sculptured 
Sphinx crouched on the book-shelves ; Brookfield had 
brought it as a souvenir from the Nile. It had been 
in its present place some fifteen years without ever 
once living until now. 

Over the door to the hallway was a marble bust of 
Pallas, with the raven perched upon it; on another 

101 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

bookcase rested the Donatello head of Dante; a re 
production of the well-known mask of Beethoven, 
the mystic of melody, hung near by. Brookfield look 
ed in turn upon these several objects. The profun 
dity of the men whose masks and portraits were about 
him ; the solemn riddle of the Sphinx ; the placidity of 
the goddess of wisdom beneath the bird of doubt; 
the circling, embracing, symbolizing infinitude of the 
sea each spoke to him of the restful deep in which all 
reposed; the infinite, all-wise Mind, watchful, com 
municating, benign; the one force for which his mind 
had been groping, the force behind the texture of 
material appearance. 

The objects in the room were related in significance, 
not because his conscious taste had chosen them, but 
because a power behind him wiser than himself had 
done so a power to which he also bore expressive 
relation. 

Most men awaken so that is, through the recogni 
tion of the significance of some important symbol, 
whatever that symbol be : a thing or an event, a ban 
ner or a bereavement. 

The time was coming for Brookfield, as for all men, 
when the vibrating wire in the electric lamp over his 
table, or the embossed swirl on the cover of Khayyam, 
would be as eloquent as the tragic face of the dead 
emperor; when nothing in the universe, animate or 
inanimate, would again be mute. But for the present 
the objects about him were particular and accredited 
messengers. 

The truth which Brookfield felt he had grasped, 
the truth reconnoitred by his recent psychological 

102 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

reading, the truth cogently expressed in the book 
from Justice Prentice, the truth insinuated by the 
objects of art with which he had surrounded him 
self was, as he interpreted it, the essential oneness of 
all life, the essentially same significance of all things. 
By its light the years of what he had been pleased to 
call intellectual improvement and growth in culture 
seemed years of arrested development, even years of 
retrogression nothing was of value that had not 
made for spiritual unfoldment ; and as he reviewed his 
life Brookfield felt that he had hitherto walked in 
Cimmerian night. 

For this new thought, this new conception of life 
that possessed him, the house seemed small and 
stifling. Brookfield took his hat and coat and went 
noiselessly into the street, went from the sculptured, 
the painted, and printed symbols in his room into the 
chill and tonic air, under the denuded moving branches 
of the trees through whose tracery and the etheric 
blue the stars were shining in glittering kinship. 

As these bright luminaries paled in the winter dawn, 
Brookfield, physically weary but mentally and spirit 
ually calmed, found himself pacing the sidewalk near 
the jail wherein Clay was confined with so many 
others for whom, in their error and misfortune, Brook- 
field had in his heart a fresh compassion. 



VIII 

law is terrible in its earnestness. However 
1 insignificant its various human instruments may 
be, there is a compelling majesty about the spirit of 
the law itself when once that spirit is invoked. The 
detached juryman, unlettered, uninformed, simple 
and primitive in his mental processes, less than un 
important in his social usefulness or position, associ 
ated with eleven of his kind, forms a body ominous 
and imposing, when endowed with the legal and awe- 
inspiring function of verdict. 

The criminal court-room in Louisville compares 
favorably in almost every respect with the cham 
bers of its kind in America. It is sufficiently am 
ple, adequately equipped, well ventilated. Few court 
rooms in America, however, surpass it in cheerlessness. 
Facing the judge's dais, six bleak windows and a 
transom look upon the stucco wall of the old court 
house; to the right, four equally cheerless windows 
look on to the dead walls of the adjoining shops; 
to the left, two still more cheerless windows look upon 
an open court of dingy and painted brick; on the 
wall behind the judge, and to either side of him, 
similar windows look out upon the manufactur 
ing establishments that flank this new chamber in 
the annex. Dingy canvases in dingier gilt frames 

104 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

bear the almost stencilled faces of uncertain politi 
cians. 

The floor space of the room is divided by iron rail 
ings into three compartments one end reserved for 
white spectators, one end for negroes, while the trial 
itself, with its actors, composed of prisoner, contend 
ing counsel, judge, jurymen, and distinguished visi 
tors, occupies the middle division. Behind the jury 
men, whose backs are to the pen of the white spec 
tators, a second rail some four feet from that of the 
enclosure establishes a moral vacuum through which 
no sinister material influence may touch one of the 
insulated twelve. 

The trial of the case of The People vs. Whipple was 
a cause celbbre. The youth of the prisoner and his 
respectable connections, his education, the unpro 
voked character of his crime as the public understood 
it $ the almost deliberate killing of a friend who had 
only ridiculed him, and quite playfully at that, con 
cerning his lack of skill at billiards; the promised 
revelations of the interior of a notorious gambling- 
house, always a place of curiosity to the newspaper 
reader, together with other factors, combined to 
stimulate an interest in the proceedings. 

After the first day or two the distinction of the 
prisoner's friends who were with him in the court 
room, and especially the reported beauty of his sweet 
heart, increased the general wish to be present. 

Nor was there anything deterring in the reputation 
of counsel. The victim had been the son of one of 
Missouri's wealthiest packers. According to the 
newspapers, the attitude of this man toward the ac- 

105 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

cused was one of great vengefulness. His money 
had been freely offered to assist the attorneys for the 
State in retaining associate counsel ; it had also been 
used to secure the services of physicians of national 
reputation who, it was understood, would testify in 
rebuttal of certain other eminent specialists secured 
by the defence. 

Although the case for the people was ostensibly 
in the hands of the prosecuting attorney, its direct 
ing genius was that officer's assistant, Mr. Hardmuth. 

The associated counsel for the defence were mis 
led by the prosecution's apparent indifference to the 
character of the jurymen during their selection. 
These legal gentlemen even began to hope that some 
covert leniency was to be indulged in by the repre 
sentatives of the State. 

It was Brookfield who, sitting with the family dur 
ing those two or three preliminary days, and occa 
sionally consulting with the lawyers for the defence, 
had discovered what ultimately proved to be the 
guiding intention in the prosecution's selection of the 
jury. This discovery may have been due to Brook- 
field's keen knowledge of human nature, surpassing, 
perhaps, that of the counsel; it may have been due 
to an especial knowledge of the character of Hard 
muth; or it may have been due, as Brookfield him 
self began to suspect, to some subtle telepathic rela 
tion between the prosecutor and himself. But what 
ever the means of the discovery, the fact developed 
that Hardmuth, by persistency of intention and by the 
failure of an opposing preparation on the part of the 
defence, had secured a jury singularly dull and no- 

106 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ticeably phlegmatic a jury to whom an appeal upon 
any ground of alleged nervous excitability would be 
made in vain. The appreciation of this fact, when 
Brookfield had called it to their attention, caused more 
consternation in the ranks of the defence's counsel than 
any other element in the case. Eliminate the con 
sideration due to an inherited nervous idiosyncrasy, 
and the defence was left without a single extenuating 
plea. 

The outline of the State's case removed all doubt 
as to their method. According to the calm, judicial, 
regretful utterances of the State's attorney, the twelve 
men in the double row of tilting swivel-chairs were 
called together to hear the story of a deliberate and 
spiteful killing a killing of one friend by another, 
who had been frequently a beneficiary of the man he 
had made his victim, who had been frequently the 
antagonist of that man in games of chance, for which 
games the two had often met in the house where the 
tragedy occurred. The prisoner had been a uniform 
loser, had lost sums considerable to himself, but of 
no importance to his victim who had won them. This 
regularity of loss and envy of the prisoner for the 
better fortune, both at cards and in life, which the 
dead man had enjoyed had built up in the heart of 
the prisoner a hate of his companion as deep and as 
enduring as it had been gradual in growth; it was a 
hate none the less terrible because its object was un 
aware of its existence. The poor boy who had been 
killed on the night in question had indulged only in 
such simple raillery as one friend directs against an 
other inept in any game of skill, and especially where 
a 107 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

there were ladies among the spectators. This rail 
lery was of a character that would have been accepted 
as evidence of friendliness by any man in the jury- 
box it would have called for nothing more severe 
than a retort in kind, or some romping push with the 
shoulder, some slap on the back, or other rough play 
fulness. The man now dead, the former friend of the 
prisoner, had been slightly intoxicated that would 
be shown by the State and would be admitted by 
the defence. He was in a condition in which even 
had his aggression not been friendly, even had his 
wish been to inflict bodily injury upon the prisoner, 
he could not have been dangerous to the prisoner 
himself, who had not been drinking on that evening, 
who was, as the jury might see, a young man of 
athletic build, and who had been at the time sur 
rounded by several persons more friendly to him 
self than to his victim. The prosecution would show 
that the prisoner had been in no peril whatever, 
that he could not have acted in self-defence, that he 
could not have thought he was so acting, that the 
motive had been hate, that the intent had been mur 
der, that the weapon had been lethal and deadly. 

When the taking of testimony was begun the bare 
facts of the tragedy were simply outlined. That at 
one time in his annoyance Denning had waved a 
scarf-pin in front of the prisoner the prosecution itself 
established. The scarf-pin, being a small object, was 
passed to the jury so that each member of that body 
might see it for himself. The cat's-eye was handled 
with bovine indifference by Hardmuth's twelve citi 
zens. Their first impression of it was potent in its 

108 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

results, because received before any suggestion of its 
peculiar quality, if it possessed a peculiar quality, 
was made to their healthy and ordinary minds. 

The paper-cutter, another exhibit for the State, 
was passed to the jury. This was done, however, 
after it had been shown that the paper-cutter had 
lain upon the library table in its accustomed place, 
familiar to the prisoner, to which, at one stage in the 
so-called quarrel, he had directly crossed. It was 
shown that when the prisoner had taken the paper- 
cutter from the table he had taken it by the lighter 
end and not by the handle, and had by this very 
selection turned it into the powerful weapon which 
it was. The twelve citizens in the jury-box were in 
the main not uninformed in the choice of weapons, 
and were not unappreciative of the value of this one 
as they passed it along their lines. 

Lew Ellinger had been impatient to reach the wit 
ness-stand. He had been delighted that he was 
among the witnesses summoned by the prosecution; 
he had felt that half a dozen words from him, given 
with the fervor that he would lend them, would im 
mediately clear the boy in the mind of any unpreju 
diced listener. The State's attorney, a much younger 
man than Ellinger, treated him with a curtness 
one would almost say with a rigor to which Ellinger 
as a Southern gentleman was not accustomed. The 
judge, a much older man than the State's attorney, 
and one with whom Ellinger had frequently fore 
gathered in convivial association, sustained the con 
duct of the attorney with an inflexibility difficult to 
understand in a friend. It was only when the lawyer 

109 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

for the defence took Ellinger in hand for his cross- 
examination, a process which Lew had understood 
was the epitome of impertinence and uncharitable- 
ness, that Lew received anything like the urbanity 
and gentility which had always made him cultivate 
gentlemanly associates. 

It was during this cross-examination that Lew 
found his opportunity to utter many of the polished 
phrases which he had rehearsed during the prepara 
tory months. Some of the best and most impassioned 
of these were almost spoiled by the interruption of the 
State's attorney. However much Ellinger had ad 
vanced the case of the defence, he certainly knew 
when he left the witness-box that no doubt existed 
of his loyalty to the prisoner. 

As Lew minutely reviewed his testimony during 
that day and the next, he had sudden gleams in which 
he distinguished places where it might have been im 
proved. He remembered several interruptions by 
the State's attorney which might have been crush- 
ingly rebuked if he had had the composure to con 
struct the replies which now came to him in his calmer 
moments. But with it all there was only one line 
in his entire testimony, dragged from him by the 
prosecution in its redirect examination, which he 
regretted. In a moment of excitability, and perhaps 
personal vanity, he had said that a cat's-eye pushed 
into his own face in the manner in which the cat's-eye 
in evidence had been pushed into Clay's would not 
have excited him to any frenzy. 

Hardmuth, another witness for the State, with a 
clarity most impressive to the jurymen, and with 

no 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

the authority of a State's officer, an authority which 
every touch in the surroundings tended to augment, 
testified to the bare and uncolored facts of the tragedy. 
He had seen the commencement of the quarrel; he 
had seen the prisoner leave the room ; he had seen the 
victim also leave the room and go into a second room 
in which the prisoner was not ; he had seen the prisoner 
re-enter this second room and rejoin the victim; he 
had seen the difference, a quarrel on one side and a 
banter on the other, resumed; he had seen the prisoner 
take the ivory tusk in evidence and repeatedly strike 
his victim. 

In the cross-examination of Hardmuth the defence 
elicited only the fact that in the general chorus of 
outcries which followed the enacting of the tragedy 
the witness himself had characterized the deed as 
murder, had himself secured the weapon, had started 
to notify the police, and had been stopped in that 
attempt by the proprietor of the house in which the 
murder occurred. 

With this the prosecution rested the first day of 
the trial proper closed. There was little popular 
sympathy with the prisoner, except such indirect 
sympathy as the spectacle of his weeping mother and 
sweetheart created. There was little belief in the 
minds of the legal profession that a successful defence 
could be established, and small doubt in the minds of 
the experienced reporters of the press that a convic 
tion would be secured. 

The close of this first day of the trial was a sad one 
for the little group composing the defence and as 
sociated with it. The boy himself was too intelligent 

in 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

to be deceived by the reassurance of his attorneys, 
but was also too grateful for what was being done 
in his behalf not to take kindly the well-meant efforts 
of his attorneys at deception. There was sustaining 
companionship in the company of his mother and of 
Viola, but the quality of comfort that supplied the 
nearest approach to contagious courage he got from 
the strong and silent grip of Brookfield and through 
his determined eye. 

It was not in Helen's heart to leave her boy while 
it was possible to be with him, and although both 
Brookfield and the lawyers advised against it, she ac 
companied him, with the consent of his custodians, 
on his walk from the court-room to the jail. This 
short journey took the party out-of-doors and through 
the alleyway known as Congress Street. Along this 
pavement the little procession made its way, Helen 
walking at Clay's side, with Viola and Brookfield just 
behind. The curious were there to note the passing 
of the prisoner, but they were remarkably respectful 
in the presence of the ladies, and it was character 
istic of Kentucky manhood that even the loungers in 
front of the hotel and the cafe removed their hats in 
courteous silence as the party passed. 

The evening was spent at Brookfield's rooms in a 
general council of the family, the attorneys, and the 
experts. The testimony of the day was reviewed, 
the plan of the case for the defence gone over for the 
hundredth time, and a programme for the coming 
day arranged. 

It was the opinion of Colonel Bailey, who led the 
defensive forces, and the opinion concurred in by his 

112 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

colleagues and Brookfield, that nothing was to be 
gained by wearying the court or jury in combating 
facts that the prosecution had established, with the 
exception of the single false assumption that a hatred 
had been built up in Clay's heart for Denning. Brook- 
field's own testimony would show, furthermore, that 
where one man lost and another gained, the gain and 
loss were not necessarily reciprocal, but that the loser 
lost to the house or its proprietor, and that the winner 
likewise won from the house or its proprietor. The 
principal thing to be established was the existence of 
Clay's aversion to the cat's-eye, his inability to look 
at the jewel and retain his self-control. The exist 
ence of similar idiosyncrasies, of which record was pre 
served in the medical books, was to be told by the 
experts. The loss of self-control in one so afflicted 
was also to be established. This line of defence fre 
quently reiterated, this programme several times 
rehearsed, induced a semblance of hope in Helen's 
heart by the time the conference adjourned and she 
retired for the night. Long after that, however, 
Colonel Bailey, Brookfield, and Ellinger sat together 
in the library, a gloomy trio filled with foreboding for 
the morrow's development. 

On the witness-stand next day Helen told of the 
existence of the same inexplicable abhorrence of the 
jewel on her own part, of one or two illnesses which, 
when a young woman, she had undergone as the re 
sult of looking at such a jewel, of medical treatment 
for the susceptibility, of its partial cure. She told 
also of the inherited loathing in her boy, of her grief 
at the discovery of the same, of the care with which 

"3 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

she had guarded him from exposure to the influence 
of the jewel, and of his singular behavior upon the 
several occasions when it had accidentally come to 
his attention. 

Brookfield and the attorneys saw with a rising hope 
the effect of her story upon her listeners. Back of 
all she said was the simple wish of a true woman to 
earnestly tell the truth. There was no attempt at 
effect, there was not the slightest inharmonious ex 
pression, no touch of vehemence nothing whatever 
but a few sad pages of family history pathetically and 
reluctantly revealed. 

Whether by his own request or as a result of his 
chief's recognition of his ability for the task, the cross- 
examination of Helen was intrusted to Hardmuth. 
The witness and her friends all were prepared for an 
exhibition of rudeness and of brutality. They were 
disappointed. With a suavity and deference that 
rapidly won for him the esteem of the jury, Hardmuth 
began his interrogations. 

"You were treated for this susceptibility of which 
you have spoken, Mrs. Whipple, this remarkable and 
inconvenient susceptibility, by a physician thoroughly 
familiar with its existence?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"By your family physician, was it not?" 

"My mother's family physician yes, sir." 

"Yes, I meant your mother's family physician. I 
believe you said that this physician had treated your 
mother for a similar susceptibility, or idiosyncrasy, as 
it has been called?" 

"Yes, sir." 

114 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"You were aware of the existence of this dislike to 
a cat's-eye jewel on the part of your mother?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"You have frequently heard her speak of it?" 

"I have." 

"And the physician that had treated her also treat 
ed you?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Do you mind telling us his name?" 

"No, sir Dr. Lane." 

"Do you see the gentleman in the court-room?" 

"Dr. Lane is dead." 

"Oh well, that's too bad. He died recently?" 

"No, sir Dr. Lane has been dead some years." 

"Do you mind telling the jury, Mrs. Whipple, how 
old you were at the time of Dr. Lane's death or 
about how old?" 

"I think I was seventeen years of age when Dr. 
Lane died." 

"At that time you were completely cured of this 
difficulty?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"You say this same idiosyncrasy made its appear 
ance in your son?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Sufficiently to require medical attention?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"What physician treated him?" 

"My husband was a physician himself." 

"That hardly answers my question, Mrs. Whipple; 
do you mind telling the name of the physician who 
treated your son for this inherited trouble?" 

5 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"He was treated by his father, Dr. Whipple." 

"By any other physician?" 

"Not that I remember." 

"No specialist was called in?" 

' 4 No, sir none was needed. Dr. Whipple was him 
self one of the most skilled physicians of Philadelphia." 

' ' I have no doubt of that. Did your husband make 
a speciality of nervous troubles?" 

"No, sir Dr. Whipple was a general practitioner." 

"That is all, Mrs. Whippte." 

Hardmuth smiled. 

The defence, in its conference, had decided that it 
would be wise to put Viola on the witness-stand to 
testify to the degree of the annoyance which Denning 
had inflicted upon Clay. It was believed that in ad 
dition to the girl's testimony her great beauty would 
strongly influence the sympathies of the jury, and this 
was the evident result of her appearance. 

Hardmuth, in his cross-examination of Viola, put 
but one interrogation. 

"Your relation to the prisoner, Miss Campbell, is 
that of fiancee, is it not ? that is, you are engaged to 
marry this young man?" 

"I am." 

"That's all." 

The experience of the battery of experts provided 
by the defence was not unlike the experience of all 
medical experts in stoutly contested murder cases. 
When an expert was insecure and uninformed he 
became ridiculous; when another was master of his 
subject the attorneys spread about his testimony and 
about the hypothetical question which induced it such 

116 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

a cuttle-fish obscurity that the jurymen were glad to 
escape from the troubled mental waters into the clear 
er region of shallow ignorance. This part of the case 
for the prosecution was conducted by a new-comer in 
the office of the State's attorney a young man of pro 
found medico-legal attainment, whose services it was 
understood were compensated by the money of the 
elder Denning. 

The expert medical testimony provided by the de 
fence was combated by testimony and contrary opin 
ion given by specialists of equal importance who were 
summoned by the State. 

When these gentlemen were out of the way, Brook- 
field was recalled by the prosecution. The State's at 
torney, prompted by Hardmuth, said to him : 

"Mr. Brookfield, the young lady who testified here 
earlier in the trial, Miss Campbell, is related to you ?" 

"She is my niece." 

"Your sister's child?" 

"Yes, sir my sister's child." 

"Is the young lady's father living?" 

"No, sir." 

"She is entirely in the care of her mother?" 

"Not entirely, sir; the young lady is not without 
my protection, such as that may be." 

"Are you her guardian, Mr. Brookfield?" 

"I act as such." 

"What do you mean by that?" 

"I mean that I never have been legally appointed 
her guardian, but I try to discharge the duties of a 
guardian." 

"That is what I supposed. You were informed 
117 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

concerning this engagement of your niece to the 
prisoner?" 

"I was." 

"You knew, of course, that he was a patron of 
your gambling establishment?" 

"I knew that he played in my house yes." 

"You considered him a young man of fit character 
to marry your niece?" 

"I did." 

"And this unfortunate position in which he now 
finds himself involved has that in any way changed 
your opinion?" 

"It has not." 

In the summing up Hardmuth opened for the prose 
cution. He began with a misleading show of f air- 
ness i he complimented the jury upon their atten 
tion j he sympathized with them in the difficulty of 
the task they were called upon to perform; he em 
phasized the gratitude which the community would 
feel toward them for the service they were rendering' 
explained in simple language the condition of the 
civilization under which they were living, the neces 
sity of law, the transcendent claims of the community 
over the individual. He then asked them to demand 
of the individual only the ordinary human qualities, 
and to dismiss from their minds any prejudice they 
had against the prisoner because of the fact that he 
had frequently played for money in a professional 
gambling-house, to lay upon himself, the speaker, 
any blame or reprehension they might feel for such 
conduct, because he, a much older man, had frequent 
ly offended in this manner, if to take part in a 

118 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

game of chance were a real offence against public 
morals. Hardmuth then explained with almost kin 
dergarten simplification the conduct of a trial the 
needlessness of dwelling upon points upon which there 
was no dispute; the value of directing the jury's en 
tire attention to the points that were at issue that 
is to say, only those points in the entire controversy 
about which the State and the defence could not 
agree. So far as he himself was able to see, and he 
had a trained observation of such disputes, the only 
point at issue was whether the prisoner had been so 
excited by the sight of a cat's-eye that he was not 
responsible for his acts. If such a condition existed 
at the time of the killing, it meant an attack of 
emotional insanity ; if such a susceptibility still exist 
ed in the prisoner, there was a resident tendency to 
be emotionally insane whenever the same provoking 
cause should again be presented. If that were true, 
it was indeed a grave condition ; if that were true, it 
was, and should be, a matter of the most profound 
uneasiness to his relatives and friends a matter of 
the gravest concern to the young sweetheart who had 
so bravely testified in his behalf. 

In his long experience in the court he had seldom 
seen a more attractive, a gentler, or a more admirable 
young lady than this witness. There was not upon 
the jury a man so dull as not to understand how the 
uncle of this young lady, even though not her legally 
constituted guardian, should wish to act in that 
capacity. 

It was easier to understand how a mother should 
do for a son all that this mother had done in the court- 

119 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

room than it would be to understand her failure to 
do so much. 

The sweetheart's interest was equally natural; in 
fact, Hardmuth's difficulty concerning the young 
lady's attitude would have been much greater if he 
had been called upon to explain on her part an indif 
ference to the boy's position. 

A life was at stake. The jury were to consider 
that. 

Hardmuth talked on this part of his theme with 
almost the impressive fervor that would have been 
expected from the defence. He was not going to 
say roughly that the mother had testified falsely, but 
he was going to submit that any mother in that posi 
tion could not fail to say anything which in her be 
lief would make for the safety of her son. 

The testimony of the experts, in kindness to the 
jury, Hardmuth was inclined to dismiss. Nothing 
had been said by them, no testimony had been given 
by them, for which they were not to be amply com 
pensated; and nothing had been said by any one of 
them that had not been diametrically controverted 
by gentlemen equally eminent, gentlemen much more 
disinterested, and in a very much more difficult posi 
tion, because it is much easier to give testimony in 
the defence of a man than it is to give testimony in 
the defence of a community. The principal thing for 
the jury to consider was the probability of this idio 
syncrasy existing in the prisoner. Hardmuth him 
self had no doubt that it had existed to some extent 
in the mother; such ideas, as had been shown by the 
testimony of the experts both for the defence and 

I2O 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

for the prosecution, were frequently concomitants of 
hysteria; but as some of the doctors had testified, 
and as all of the twelve intelligent men themselves 
knew, hysteria was peculiarly a feminine luxury. 
Hysterical men were unusual. In the case of the 
mother, the idiosyncrasy in question had disappeared 
as soon as the doctor who had discovered it in the 
grandmother had himself ceased to live. Its sup 
posed reappearance in the boy was perhaps a piece 
of childish imitation built up from fireside gossip 
of the family. The boy's susceptibility had never 
been considered as sufficiently serious, even by the 
father of the boy, to summon the assistance of a 
specialist; and as the jury had heard several of the 
eminent specialists on both sides of the case testify, 
it was unusual, if not almost unheard of, for a physi 
cian to treat a member of his own family in a serious 
ailment. 

Recurring to the testimony of Viola, he took up 
the possible effect of the young lady's appearance 
upon the jury. The jury were men they were ex 
traordinary men, if he might be permitted to say so 
extraordinary men even in that community of ex 
traordinary manhood. It might have escaped the 
attention of even the gentlemen themselves, but he 
now asked them to note that they made a body 
which would be a valuable addition to any military 
company or to any athletic association. Whatever 
accompanying intelligence this physical development 
carried with it, it surely carried with it a certain senti 
mental susceptibility. As men, now that he had 
called their attention to this fact, he asked them to 

121 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

put their judgment in charge over their emotions, and 
in their duty to the State to rise superior to such 
influences. 

The young and beautiful witness of whom he was 
speaking was in her way quite as unusual a physical 
specimen as any member of the jury ; she was, also, 
very intelligent. She was old enough to know what 
a blight the alleged inherited tendency in the prisoner 
would be in a husband, yet, fully informed as she was, 
that blight became no bar to their intended marriage. 
One might attribute that to a quixotic willingness for 
self-sacrifice on the part of an infatuated girl; but 
what of the uncle, her guardian ? Mr. Brookfield was 
not an emotional party; on the contrary, he was a 
man of wonderful self-possession, a man of wide ex 
perience, a man skilled in estimating men; he was, 
moreover, Kentuckian enough to understand the 
value of hereditary qualities, the value of sound pro 
genitors and their relation to possible progeny. How 
had this alleged mental taint affected him or his de 
cision to give his niece to the prisoner in marriage? 
Not at all. Even this killing, for which the prisoner 
stood on trial as the alleged consequence of this men 
tal trait, had in no wise altered his decision to permit 
his lovely niece to become the wife of this defective 
person! 

The jury must be forced to the conclusion at which 
the speaker had himself arrived : the friends and ac 
quaintances of the prisoner regarded his mental af 
fliction, if a mental affliction really existed, as too 
slight to interfere with any of his plans in life, and 
as of only sufficient importance to serve as an excuse 

122 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

in the evasion of the law. That it was a trivial and 
insufficient excuse he had no doubt the serious men 
to whom he addressed himself would at once perceive. 

But assume that the speaker was mistaken ; assume 
that this terrible blight, fraught with such heart-rend 
ing consequences, really was there; assume that it was 
ineradicable, that it had existed in a grandmother, 
had been transmitted to her daughter, had now, in 
turn, been transmitted to a son, when was this fatal 
heritage to cease ? If the jury found the young man 
not guilty of the crime of which he had been charged, 
if in their wisdom they were to set him at liberty, 
did any of them doubt that the marriage planned 
between the prisoner and this emotional girl would 
take place? Would a verdict of insanity be truly 
merciful? Would it be an act of kindness to the 
young man himself? Would it be a chivalrous gen 
erosity to the young woman to make it possible for 
these two to be joined in wedlock ? Would it not only 
be sowing the wind that they might reap the whirl 
wind? 

That, however, was its very narrowest considera 
tion, the consideration of these two. What of the 
wider consideration, the protection of the community, 
that duty for which this jury had been assembled, 
that first and most important duty which they had 
sworn to discharge? For his own part, Hardmuth 
failed to see that the jury in their choice were not 
between the horns of a dilemma either this dis 
position to emotional insanity did not exist, in which 
case it was not a valid plea in his defence, or it did 
exist, in which case it was all the greater reason to 

9 123 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

protect the community against the prisoner and his 
kind. 

With this presentation of his case, Hardmuth closed. 

There was a murmur in the court-room ominously 
like approval. There was a stir in the jury-box, and 
a disposition on the part of the jurymen to look at 
the judge or at the attorneys for the State rather 
than into the faces of the little group that represented 
the defence. 

Colonel Bailey, for the prisoner, made an able ad 
hominem appeal. He made an able review of the 
expert testimony. He made a strong plea for the 
reasonable doubt that any juryman might entertain, 
but there was in the court-room a subtle atmosphere 
impressing all that the task of the defence was uphill 
work. 

More formidable than any testimony, more baneful 
than any evidence for the prosecution, was the stolid, 
animal, earthy quality of the jury which Hardmuth 
had so shrewdly secured and counted on. The only 
noticeable effect upon them had been produced by 
Viola's appearance, and Hardmuth, with his knowl 
edge of human nature, partly instinctive, largely 
acquired, had skilfully offset that effect by dwell 
ing upon the impending marriage of Viola and the 
prisoner. 

Deep in the composition of every normal healthy 
man there is a survival of the primitive animal, a 
survival of the instinct that formerly made the male 
of every species belligerent at the sight of any female 
of that species taken by another male. It is a sub- 
structural if a melancholy fact that few bridegrooms 

124 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

in public weddings have the sincere and unrestrained 
well-wishes and admiration of the male members of 
the congregation. It is a fact known to most attor 
neys skilled in the practise of the criminal law that 
no jury of men, however brutal themselves or in 
clined to like offences, can be found to sympathize 
with a prisoner charged with the forcible appropria 
tion of a woman. This is not due to the jury's in 
dividual or collective stock of virtue so much as to 
the survival of a fine and primitive animal egoism. 

Upon this instinct Hardmuth had relied; its deep 
current he had skilfully touched and stirred. A ma 
jority of the jury were unreasonably, immovably an 
tagonistic to the prisoner. 

The closing speech for the prosecution was short. 
The jury retired. Word came from their room that 
there was little prospect of an agreement at ten 
o'clock that night, and the Court, which had taken a 
recess, adjourned until the following morning, leav 
ing the members of the Brookfield household to a 
night of harrowing suspense. 

The verdict in the morning was "Guilty." The 
wise attorneys in charge of the prisoner's case believed 
that they had saved sufficient exception* to the 
ruling of the Court that the Court had made errors 
enough to give them an appeal. 



'"PHE trial of Whipple, and especially the testi- 
1 mony of an assistant prosecuting attorney, es 
tablished beyond further contention the frequently 
reiterated charge made by the reform newspaper that 
gambling was openly conducted in the city of Louis 
ville. It established also the negligence of the police 
in this connection, and more especially the negligence 
of the district attorney's office if not, as the press was 
more than hinting, the collusion of that office in this 
nefarious condition of things. Hardmuth's explana 
tion of his own participation was that, as an officer of 
the law, he was gathering evidence. The support of 
this assumption necessitated a fairly rigorous cam 
paign against the gambling-houses. 

Brookfield's was already dark; the frank para 
phernalia of the establishment had been sold or dis 
posed of. Once or twice a week, at irregular intervals 
and unfixed times, there was what Brookfield called 
a gentleman's game, when a few of the older patrons 
and his intimate friends sat down to a game of poker, 
as they might have done at some of their clubs. 
Gambling proper, however, with its full excitement 
and allure, was for the time diplomatically inter 
rupted in all of Louisville's professional establish 
ments. 

126 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

This condition of affairs was a severe deprivation 
for Ellinger. Lew's interests in life were few, but were 
inversely intense. These interests included the race 
track ; the prize-ring ; the theatre on its vaudeville side 
and in its reminiscent aspect ; the fluctuation of the 
stock-market in so far as that fluctuation affected the 
quotation of a single railroad stock ; the American As 
sociation of Professional Baseball Clubs; the show- 
window display of certain importing tailors; the 
afternoon parade on Fourth Street, particularly on 
Saturday after the matin6e ; the opening of the hunt 
ing season, not because of Lew's participation therein, 
but because of the superiority of the flavor of fresh 
game over that of the cold-storage supply; the con 
servation of one or two dwindling supplies of a cer 
tain vintage of bourbon; his diurnal pink for the 
button -hole and somebody's eau de quinine for the 
hair; but first, last, and continuously his greatest in 
terest was the professional game of hazard known as 
faro. To take this from him was to make of Lew, 
in his own language, "a widow and an orphan." 

With faro eliminated Lew's mind had more time at 
its disposal than its degree of activity demanded. 
The world grew gray, the universe seemed a com 
plicated machine for the production of sorrow. 

Lew's associates and nearest acquaintances were 
men who, like himself, felt particularly aggrieved by 
the drastic action of the authorities ; men who, like him 
self, were more than indignant at Hardmuth's deser 
tion and his betrayal of their interests ; men naturally 
watchful for additional grounds of criticism of their 
common enemy. Hardmuth's conduct of the Whipple 

127 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

trial took its place in their bill of grievances. Lew's 
own resentment of this part of Hardmuth's record 
made him doubly sympathetic toward the members 
of Brookfield's home. Nor was his sympathy unac 
ceptable to Helen, in whose greater trouble any dis 
position to criticise Lew's past social record or present 
standing disappeared. 

Lew was a welcome visitor. As a frequent escort 
to both Helen and Viola, he began in a measure to 
fill the void which in that department of usefulness 
had been created by Clay's enforced absence. 

In times of deep and persistent sorrow there are 
few companions more acceptable than a loyal, unde 
manding, mature, mediocre friend one whose vanity 
is not offended by long silences, whose watchful 
ness prompts to small and unimportant services, 
whose confidence is unquestioning, and whose punc 
tuality and dependability banish friction from the 
small affairs of daily existence. Lew regarded the 
position in which the ladies found themselves as in 
directly attributable to the business of a fraternity 
of which he was an open and avowed associate. His 
present loyalty, among its other qualities, was there 
fore fraternal. 

Such entertainment as Lew was competent to sug 
gest was exactly of that variety most salutary in its 
character for Helen and Viola. It uniformly de 
manded some physical exertion, an interest in ma 
terial things, an attention to the outside world as 
opposed to speculation and introspection. It was to 
ride in the automobile, to visit this or the other farm 
of thoroughbreds, or to make the acquaintance of the 

128 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

excellence of some road-house cuisine. On such ex 
cursions Lew systematically devoted himself to Viola 
or Mrs. Campbell, or both, and thus left Helen the 
fairly uninterrupted society of Jack. 

During all this long and trying period Brookfield 
astonished Helen by the considerate delicacy of his 
attitude and bearing. Her thoughts were diverted 
from rather than invited to any mutual sentimental 
relation. Brookfield, while something more than a 
friend, was studiously less than suitor. He seemed 
instinctively to divine that in this period of Clay's 
peril Helen would not only regret any thought she 
might be induced to bestow on her own future hap 
piness, but would remember unfavorably any attempt 
on the part of another to so direct her attention. 

If Jack were careful of her physical or mental health 
it was that she might have strength to devote to her 
boy. The many thoughtful acts that were done in 
her behalf were apparently prompted by Mrs. Camp 
bell; the numerous expenditures made necessary by 
her presence and for her comfort, entertainment, and 
diversion seemed always incurred by Mrs. Campbell. 
That hitherto unreliable and flighty lady was sud 
denly endowed with masculine prevision, generosity, 
and executive ability. 

This indirect service could not fail of appreciation 
by a woman of Helen's delicate fibre rendered acutely 
sensitive by the recent cumulative tragic events. 
The more unkind the world seemed, the more generous 
Jack appeared; the closer and more inexorable the 
menace of the law, the more wonderful the interpos 
ing courage of Jack's defence; the more vulnerable 

129 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

she and hers became, the more priceless his pro 
tection. 

We grow in character through service. Brookfield 
himself was happily conscious of a spiritual growth. 
With every unselfish effort he felt an accession not 
only of compensating but of compounded power. He 
felt, too, an increasing calm. Something of this calm 
he had always possessed and to an enviable degree, 
but heretofore it had been the sufficing calm of poise 
and self-control. 

This increased calm, whether because it was of 
another origin or whether reserve and surplus of power 
always so act, he found to his surprise had a com 
pelling quality. Men of contrary minds seemed to 
fall easily into the line of his wishes, not through any 
expression or any argumentative presentation of his 
desire, but by its silent and serene tenure. 

In his mental search for the source of the power 
residing in himself, Brookfield came again upon his 
larger conception of the interrelation of life, his re 
cently acquired and developed philosophy plainly 
religious in its character. When he held in associa 
tion the fact of his newly accepted belief in the one 
ness of life, and the truth by him more recently noted, 
that any expenditure of force in the unselfish service 
of others was apparently repaid, and in larger quan 
tity, his active imagination began reaching for some 
explanation of this apparent repayment, some work 
ing hypothesis that his reason might approve. 

Why did an effort, physical or mental, made with a 
purely selfish end in view tire him more than a similar 
effort spontaneously prompted by his desire to help 

130 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

another? Why did the increase of skill or facility 
acquired in such selfish occupation seem measurably 
less than the skill or facility acquired in his disin 
terested efforts? 

If this relation between the character of his efforts 
and the reflex action of those efforts upon himself 
really existed, Brookfield felt that a natural law uni 
versal in its operation must govern that relation. He 
felt that his experience could not be unique, that 
all who were working unselfishly for others, working 
without personal vanity or the hope of personal re 
ward, working with love as a sole motive, must have, 
like him, an accession thereby of spiritual strength 
and ability. 

There were men and women in Louisville, as there 
were in every community, whose lives were vital, with 
altruistic purpose. Certain of these were known to 
Brookfield by repute, observation, or contact, and as 
his thought now singled them out he saw that each 
was animate with an uncommon strength. Looking 
nearer home, he realized that Helen in her devoted 
service to Clay had shown an activity and an en 
durance of which no previous chapter in her life gave 
hint; and that expenditure of force, instead of lead 
ing to an expected collapse, resulted in an astonish 
ing reinforcement. Viola also, under the same stim 
ulus, was exhibiting equally unsuspected power, a like 
endurance and a similar increase of strength where 
depletion had been looked for. 

What was the secret of this energy? From what 
region did it come ? There seemed no merely physio 
logical explanation of it; in his own case Brookfield 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

was sure that no material explanation would suffice. 
It would not do to submit an analogy between the 
training of a muscle of his arm, for example, and the 
training of some mental faculty the growth of which 
might account for the added power of which he was 
progressively aware. The force within himself was 
deeper than intellection at least, was quite indepen 
dent of all conscious mental action ; and when he had 
unreservedly lent himself to its expression it seemed 
to flow through him as through an outlet suddenly 
discovered and as from a reservoir of inexhaustible 
storage. 

This figure, once suggested to the powerfully graphic 
mind of Brookfield, quickly shaped itself into a picture 
illustrative of the hypothesis he sought : 

Back of the visible universe as it presented itself to 
his mind Brookfield saw an infinite, intelligent force 
pressing for expression. He saw men and women as 
so many avenues through which the force might flow. 
He saw it flowing freely and more freely through 
those who submitted themselves to its action. Where 
avarice would retain the flow to selfish ends he saw 
the force arrested and the man, no longer normal to its 
current, clogged and stifled with the sediment of ac 
cumulation, the force itself withdrawn to other chan 
nels. Where craft and ambition would misdirect and 
apply the force, he saw it measurably lessened, the 
agent distorted and misshapen. 

Brookfield smiled at the simplicity of the picture he 
had conjured, the childishness of it. He remembered 
that every inspirational fanatic who had become a 
public nuisance, if not a menace, had considered him- 

132 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

self a passive medium to the will of a force divine and 
infinite. Better remain a practical gambler, sordidly 
but sanely dickering for immunity with corrupt of 
ficials, than reform in a hospitality to such vagaries as 
this. 

Brookfield as he sat there meditating in his library 
laughed aloud. He was the only auditor of his laugh, 
and as auditor he was not fully pleased. The laugh 
had a discomforting artificiality it was not his own. 
Brookfield felt that there was another presence in the 
room . . . 

He looked quickly about. 

He walked to the doorway and turned the electric 
switch, thereby doubling the light in the hall a glance 
up and down the respective stairways and then he 
came back, turning off the added light as he did so. 
The library was unpleasantly shadowy. The sense 
of another presence persisted. . . . Over his shoulders 
and through his scalp there crept that tingle he had 
felt at Macauley's, when Justice Prentice had first 
looked at him, and again on the occasion of Prentice's 
visit to this room. Brookfield reached to the wall and 
turned the nearest switch. The hood of lamps over 
the Corot threw their light on the canvas and its re 
flection dispelled the shadows from the corner of the 
room. . . . There was nothing to be seen but the 
familiar objects the paintings on their background 
of garnet velvet, the rows of books, the inert face of 
the dead emperor, the Dante, the lidless eyes of the 
Sphinx in its patient vigil. 

He crossed to the dining-room, passing over that 
end of the rug from which Denning's body had been 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

lifted just after Clay had killed him. The memory 
added nothing to his agitation on the contrary, it 
rather steadied him, being part of the tangible problem 
in which he was involved. 

Brookfield turned on the light in the dining-room. 
No one was there. From the sideboard a thousand 
facets danced their elaborate tribute to good cheer. 
One stately decanter gleamed orange and amber in 
its lower half. It invoked a thought of Ellinger 
how that old comrade would laugh at Jack's present 
fantasy if he could know of it! He poured out a 
drink. The very character of the action, ordinary 
and commonplace, put his feet again on solid ground. 
He looked at the whiskey to swallow it meant fear 
it meant even more. As Brookfield considered his 
condition and the impulse to drink he felt that any 
voluntary benumbing of the sensitiveness he had de 
veloped would be retreat would be a kind of dis 
loyalty. He put the untasted liquor batik upon the 
sideboard and returned to the library, repeating pos 
itively but somewhat mechanically the word "dis 
loyalty." The uncanny illusion of the old Justice's 
presence was gone. Brookfield was alone in his room 
with its fondly familiar furniture and fittings, and 
in his mind nothing but the reiterant word "dis 
loyalty." 

"Disloyalty? . . . Whose?" 

"Your own!" 

" Disloyalty to what?" 

"To your ideal!" 

The tendency of things to swim went by; Brook- 
field was himself again the centre of a calm. 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"That was an attack of nerves," he said to himself, 
"worthy of an inmate of the Old Ladies' Home! 
What time is it, I wonder?" His watch showed twen 
ty-nine minutes after midnight. " I'll see Monroe in 
the morning and get him to give me a sedative." 

But he knew in his heart that he lied. 

Two days after the night on which Brookfield had 
experienced what he called "an attack of nerves" 
he received a letter which read as follows: 

" MY DEAR MR. BROOKFIELD, I am sending you a second 
book upon telepathy and kindred subjects. This is the book 
which, on the occasion of my visit to your home, I promised 
to send to you. It has a very instructive consideration of 
the phenomena of hypnotism and some speculation upon 
the ethical question unavoidably associated with the use of 
that force. The first book that I sent you upon the subject 
of ^psychic phenomena I regarded as an essential preparation 
for the one I am sending to-night. I had not meant, how 
ever, to impose between the two books a probationary inter 
val of such uncomplimentary length, but the rude fact is 
that I forgot the second one until to-day. My contrition 
will at once appear when I tell you that the hour is one-quar 
ter past midnight, and that I pen this letter before permit 
ting myself to retire. With sincere wishes for your personal 
usefulness and peace, believe me, 

"Your obedient servant, 

"JEFFERSON M. PRENTICE." 

Brookfield looked at the date and wondered. The 
letter had been written in Washington on the self 
same night that he, sitting in his library here in Louis 
ville, had been so strongly impressed by a sense of the 
writer's presence, and assuming that the writer had 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

quoted standard time, to which Brookfield's watch 
was set the hours had been identical ! 

What wizard's power was this' Brookfield en 
deavored to recall the only conversation he and 
Justice Prentice had held. He remembered his ques 
tion, "Do you mean that you know what I think?" 
and the Justice's reply: "I don't claim any monopoly 
of that power. It's my opinion that every one reads 
the thoughts of others that is, some of the thoughts." 
Had he, two nights before, been reading the Justice's 
thought? Or was it only coincidence that while his 
own mind had recalled a vivid recollection of the Jus 
tice, that gentleman had independently chosen to in 
dite him a letter ? Helen had said that in his college 
days he had been able to make her get up from her 
bed and write to him. . . . 

Did he possess such a power unconsciously? 

Prentice had said to him, "You have a strong 
psychic, a strong hypnotic ability." It was conse 
quent to that statement that the Justice had sent him 
the second book of " instruction and caution." 

Brookfield read the book in the concentrated in 
tensity of a blow-flame read and reread it. Its 
author differed with all those of his contemporaries 
who held that there was nothing in hypnotism but 
suggestion, and quoted in his support the agreement 
of those authors themselves that between the hypno 
tist and his subject there existed for an indefinite time 
after the hypnosis a strong rapport. What was this 
unison of vibration between the two but an invasion 
of the subconscious field of the subject and a perma 
nent seizure of part of that territory? Was there 

136 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

anything but an assumption, was there sufficient 
evidence to show that this rapport which seemed to 
persist through life ceased with the death of either? 

It was under the discussion of this inquiry that the 
author introduced the ethical considerations to w r hich 
Justice Prentice had called his attention. This pres 
entation made an indelible impression upon Brookfield, 
not so much because of the dire consequences which 
it outlined as by the author's explanation of a vi 
bratory agreement between two minds the dynamic 
agitation of the communicating ether by one mind 
and its registration by the other mind. The figure 
fitted in and confirmed all that Brookfield had already 
worked out for himself. 

Brookfield's family physician, Dr. Monroe, was a 
fad homceopathist that is to say, Monroe was a 
"high -potency" man. The high -potency man ob 
tains the ordinary homoeopathic dose, already in- 
finitesmal, and dilutes it maybe ten thousand times. 
There is no instrument in the universe except the 
human subconscious mind delicate enough to detect 
the presence of a drug in a high-potency pellet no 
reagent known to chemistry will answer to its action. 
A high-potency homoeopathist is a skilled diagnosti 
cian practising suggestive therapeutics in a blindfold. 
Now and then one of them lays aside the blindfold 
and joyously, but secretly, with blank powder, adopts 
in functional disorders the art of mental medicine. 
Monroe had not laid aside the blindfold, but he was 
peeping. 

A wise physician who would not dare to confess to 
his pastor that he indulged in beneficent deceit at 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

three dollars a deception could find encouraging 
sympathy in the heart of the intelligent owner of 
a roulette - wheel. Monroe had so confided, and at 
length, to Brookfield; and in Brookfield's present 
psychological study of Clay's case Dr. Monroe had 
been his guide. 

Together Brookfield and the doctor dissected the 
new book. The doctor had certain patients in whom 
he was sure he had occasionally induced a slight 
hypnosis. The features of their cases were discussed, 
the method of their cures. The doctor agreed with 
the reported opinion of the Justice that Brookfield 
was possessed of considerable magnetic power. 

One night the two men had sat fairly late in Brook- 
field's library browsing rather than surveying the 
fascinating field they had partially explored in com 
pany when the young darky, Jo, intruded to solicit 
the doctor's ministrations. Jo was "low in his mind" j 
it transpired also "his food didn't seem to strengthen 
him none." Yet pulse, respiration, and temperature 
were normal; Jo's tongue was as clean as a sliced 
tomato. More careful inquiry developed the fact 
that a recent addition to Jo's circle of acquaintance 
was a young colored man from Louisiana, a person of 
aggressive amativeness and notably of winsome qual 
ities with the opposite sex. Even Jo's own girl was 
taking fluttering notice of the new arrival. Some 
said that the young man was a doctor's son himself 
and could cast a spell. He and Jo had come to words 
over the girl. Jo couldn't recall the exact threat in 
dulged in, but it had been to the effect that Jo had 
' ' better look out. ' ' Jo dated the most alarming of his 

138 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

symptoms from that evening. The doctor and Brook- 
field looked at each other seriously. 

"If this is a spell, Mr. Brookfield," said the doctor, 
"and I see no other explanation of it, I think it is a 
case where your faculties are more clearly needed 
than mine. You are a man constantly favored by 
fortune, the powers are with you, and I think you 
could do something for Jo." 

"What do you think, Jo?" Brookfield asked the 
boy. 

"Well, Marse Jack, if I am hoodooed, I'd bet your 
luck agin any nigger if you'd holp me." 

Jack patted the boy comfortingly on his resilient 
kinks, patted him with that strong hand which subtly 
emitted reassurance to dog or horse or man. In ac 
cordance with his reading and his previous casual in 
struction from the doctor, Jack seated the boy in an 
easy-chair, his head at rest, his hands lying comfort 
ably in his lap. Jo's attention was directed in turn 
to each part of his body, and complete relaxation 
induced. Brookfield then stroked him gently over 
the eyes, and brought his own hands down over 
shoulders, arms, and limbs, though not in actual con 
tact. An easy smile flitted at the corners of Jo's 
ample mouth; a gentle pricking came into feet and 
fingers. He heard Brookfield, far away, say in a tone 
like the bass note on the chapel melodeon, "You 
may close your eyes, Jo." 

The eyelids of the negro boy closed down with 
leaden slowness his breathing deepened he seemed 
to sleep. 

Brookfield looked at the doctor the doctor lifted 
139 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

his hand, prompting Brookfield in the experiment. 
Brookfield placed his own hand some inches over Jo's 
and moved it slowly to one side. The boy's hand 
followed. Brookfield replaced it by the same method. 
When Brookfield's head was inclined to either side 
Jo's head moved with it. 

Monroe took the boy's wrist in his grasp, noting 
beneath his skilled index-finger that the pulse was 
accentuated the doctor indicated the fact. Brook- 
field was aware that his own heart was beating faster 
than usual. He had a moment's scientific curiosity 
as to whether its quickened action was due to the 
novelty of his occupation or was in reflex from his 
subject. 

The room was purring like a sea-shell. 

Before him was the still form of the negro; at his 
side the smiling, quizzical, intellectual face of the 
physician; about them the Sphinx with its unsolved 
riddle, the voiceless masks of the great dead, the bust 
of Pallas and the raven; and behind them all, back of 
the sleeper and the questioner and beneath the sym 
bols, the unifying, buoyant, pervading field of force 
on which Brookfield felt he was about to tread. 

He moved a chair near to the boy and sat down. 
Close to Brookfield's mental elbow and slightly behind 
him, as he sensed it, an admonitory something repeated 
to him the scruples of the author to whom Prentice 
had introduced him scruples about invading the 
personal domain of another soul; but Brookfield felt 
that a darky boy's subconscious territory could not 
but be improved by the squatter immigration of a 
white man's volition, and especially when the fili- 

140 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

busterer came to eject a Voodoo usurper. In a low 
monotone Brookfield began to speak to the boy: 

" The spell that that Louisiana darky threw over 
you, Jo, will be gone when you wake up; so will 
that tired feeling. You will enjoy your food after 
this, and you will be more cheerful ; you won't be low 
in your mind any more, and there won't any nigger 
cast any spell on you again. You are sleeping now 
you are getting a lot more rest than you would 
out of any other sleep. The tired feeling is going 
away from you even now, and when I tell you to 
wake up you will feel almost as though you'd had a 
full night's rest." 

Just then the electric buzzer connected with the 
front-door button sounded in the back hall. Jo had 
previously left the door of the back hall open when 
he entered, in order that the sound of the annunciator 
might be heard. 

"Now, who can that be at this hour?" Brookfield 
said, as much to himself as to the doctor. The 
answer to his question came from the sleeping 
darky. 

"That's Mr. Ellinger, suh." 

"Mr. Ellinger?" 

" Yes, suh; he's at the front door; he's got a paper 
bundle under his arm with two ducks in it." 

Brookfield looked at the doctor. 

"Can that be so?" 

"It will be interesting if it is wake him, and find 
out." 

Brookfield spoke to the boy, snapping his fingers 
sharply before his eyes as he did so. 

141 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

" That will do, Jo wake up." Jo awoke. " There's 
somebody at the front door," said Brookfield. 

"Is there?" said the boy. 

"The bell just sounded." 

"I didn't hear it, suh," said Jo, apologetically; 
"excuse me." Jo left to answer the summons. 

"If that's Ellinger at the door," said Brookfield to 
the doctor when they were alone, "how do you ex 
plain that boy's knowledge of it?" 

"Clairvoyance," the doctor answered, laconically. 

"You know what Hudson would call it?" 

The doctor nodded. " Telepathic h trois." 

The boy returned, followed by Ellinger, who had 
under his arm a home-made bundle. His face wore 
a beam of genial good-humor. 

" 'Evening, gentlemen," Lew greeted. "You will 
excuse the lateness of my call, Jack, but I saw a light 
in the window, and " 

Jack finished the sentence for him. 

"And you didn't want to carry both those ducks 
home." 

Lew held the bundle before him, turning it over 
and over with critical examination. At length, in be 
wilderment, he said: 

" How the devil did you know that bundle was 
ducks?" 

Little Jo, who stood by, regarded the scene with 
eyes bulging in amazement. 

The reviewing courts denied the application of 
Whipple's attorney for a new trial. 
But one hope remained. 
142 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

That hope lay in a constitutional point upon which 
appeal was made to the Supreme Court of the United 
States. The point was most wire-drawn and attenu 
ated. The attorneys themselves submitted it more 
in a determination to interpose every obstacle to an 
execution of the sentence upon their client than in 
a belief in the soundness of the contention. The 
basis of their appeal lay in the fact that the Court 
had given an order limiting the number of spectators. 
This order was given because the janitor had dis 
covered a crack in the concrete ceiling of the cellar 
below the court-room. The order was enforced only 
during two days, and until the architect, who hap 
pened to be absent from the city, could return and 
make an examination. The crack had probably been 
there from the date of building, and bore no relation 
to the increased weight above it. The ceiling in ques 
tion was of steel girders, and capable of serving as the 
floor of a round-house. To limit the number of spec 
tators, however, the sheriff had issued tickets of 
admission. The defence submitted that in an unre 
stricted attendance some casual and voluntary wit 
ness might have entered with an experience which 
paralleled that of their client, and that the recital 
of such similar history might have weighed with the 
jury. The contention that the constitutional guar 
antee of a public trial had back of it a belief in the 
probability or possibility of such fortuitous testimony 
was pathetically hopeless, but it was a straw, and 
they were drowning. 

Brookfield saw in the appeal nothing but delay, yet 
to Helen he argued for its promise. He even led her 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

to place some hope in his own acquaintance with Jus 
tice Prentice, a member of the Court. Helen, like 
most women, was too uninformed concerning the 
integrity and the incorruptible impartiality of that 
august body to see, as Brookfield knew, the futility, 
or rather the fatality, of any attempt to influence 
one of its members. Yet to buoy her failing hope 
he urged the value of this acquaintance he also 
showed her the letter recently received from Justice 
Prentice. 

Helen's memory, stimulated by the sight of this 
letter, recalled another letter, and in a firmer hand, 
which identified the writer of both as one of whom 
she had heard her mother speak. 

"This Justice Prentice was he, too, a Kentuck- 
ian?" 

"Yes." 

Helen at once set about finding such letters or 
papers as might establish the friendship between the 
families, or might point to other like avenues of in 
fluence. Her mother's effects were in the possession 
of another daughter older than Helen, who lived with 
her husband now removed to the Ozark country. 

More to set Helen a task that would employ her 
mind and give her a change of scene than because 
her personal attention to the duty was required, or 
that any profit might come of it, Brookfield advised 
her to go to her sister's home and to make the search 
of her mother's papers herself. 

Lew Ellinger went with her. 

After Helen's departure the duty of the daily visit 
to Clay devolved principally upon Viola, who had as 

144 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

company her mother, or as escort her uncle Jack or 
Dr. Monroe. These visits to Clay in jail were always 
in the presence and. hearing of a guard, and with iron 
bars between Viola and Clay. No contact, even of 
finger-tips, was permitted between her and him, for 
in such slight communication might be conveyed a 
drop of poison that would rob a great commonwealth 
of its revenge. Notwithstanding these hard restric 
tions, Clay was cheered by the visits not more through 
Viola's hope for him and her confidence in his ulti 
mate acquittal than he was by a strange sense of near 
ness to Brookfield and of his protection. On one 
occasion Viola inquired if at a certain hour of the 
night previous Clay had not called the guard to the 
grating in his cell and asked for a blanket. Clay look 
ed quickly at the guard then on duty to whom, in 
fact, the request had been made. The guard's won 
der at the question was as great as Clay's. Viola ex 
plained that she had no knowledge of the fact her 
self, but asked the question at Uncle Jack's request. 
Another and a smiliar question at a later date verify 
ing another experiment of Brookfield 's only served 
to increase the watchfulness of the officials. It was 
evident to them that some underhand work was being 
attempted in the jail. 

Brookfield's inquiries ceased, but the short naps 
which Jo took in his master's library continued in 
order that "Marse Jack" might make Jo more and 
more immune to every hoodoo in the world. 

Helen and Ellinger returned. Both had been suc 
cessful. Helen had found the letters for which she 
had searched, and Lew had found a game in Spring- 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

field from which he had won enough not only to pay 
expenses both ways, but to cover his seemingly in 
explicable losses to Helen's brother - in - law, whose 
guests he and Helen had been, and who had devel 
oped an increasing fondness for seven-up during the 
visit. Lew admitted to Jack that these losses to the 
brother-in-law amounted to very little more than 
board and lodging would have footed had he and 
Helen invited comment by staying at the hoteL 
Jack's austerity during the circumspect phase of this 
confidence only aggravated a slight bronchial irrita 
tion of Ellinger's and increased Lew's anxiety con 
cerning the adjustment of his boutonnibre. 



IN Washington, one evening in November, Justice 
Prentice sat at a game of chess with Justice Hen 
derson, an associate of his Court. About them were 
books, for the most part heavy and uninviting, be 
hind antiquated casements of diamond-shaped panes, 
for they were seated in the library of Justice Pren 
tice's house. The room itself was as easy as an old 
slipper warm with lamp and firelight, sweetly aro 
matic with the trimmings of a side-table on which a 
kettle simmered above a spirit flame. Near the aged 
players two tumblers stood amid the killed and capt 
ured chessmen, beside the checkered field on which 
knight and bishop still interposed between contending 
royalties. From each tumbler a gentle incense lifted 
languidly above a curl of lemon in the vapor-bath. 

The two men, though near the same age, were alike 
in little else except judicial moderation of speech 
Justice Prentice, poetical, sensitive, artistic, almost 
femininely intuitive, refined in features and expres 
sion, delicate of frame, and elegant in manner ; Justice 
Henderson, practical, positive, matter-of-fact, scep 
tical, quizzical in glance, secretive, quaintly humor 
ous, sturdy, and ordinary in figure and carriage. 

From time to time as one pondered over a play the 
other moved about the room, or, lighting a pipe, stood 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

by and studied the board. There was this difference 
in their methods : in Justice Henderson's attack of a 
problem his look was fixed on the pieces and with a 
roving activity; Justice Prentice frequently looked 
through the smoke to the ceiling or closed his eyes 
entirely. After one of these silences Henderson made 
a move and announced: 

"Checkmate in three moves!" 

" I don't see that," said Prentice, his gaze returning 
to the board. 

Henderson began to explain and to demonstrate, 
his finger above the pieces. "Well, knight to " 

"Yes, yes I see," interrupted Prentice; "check 
mate in three moves that's one game each. Shall 
we play another?" 

"Let's look at the enemy." Henderson drew his 
watch. " By Jove! Quarter of twelve! I guess Mrs. 
Henderson will be expecting me soon." And then, 
as he returned his timepiece to his pocket, he looked 
up with a new interest: "I'll play a rubber with you, 
Mr. Justice, and its result shall decide your position 
on the Whipple case." 

"Why, I'm surprised at you! A United States 
Supreme Court decision shaped by a game of chess! 
We'll be down to the level of intelligent jurymen soon, 
nipping pennies for a verdict." 

"And a very good method in just such cases as 
this," Justice Henderson protested. "Well, if you 
won't play, I'll have to go." He got up from his 
place at the table. 

His host also rose, taking up as he did so his empty 
glass and moving toward the sideboard. 

148 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Not without another toddy?" 

"Yes." 

"Oh, come now, don't you like this liquor?" 

"Immensely! Where did you say you got it?" 
Henderson answered, feebly relenting. 

"Kentucky. One lump, Judge?" 

"Only one." 

Prentice dropped the sugar into the glass. " My old 
home, sir. And a bit of lemon?" 

"A piece of the peel yes." 

"They make it there," Prentice explained, as he 
reached for the water-kettle. 

"I'll pour the water, Mr. Justice," Henderson 
volunteered, as he took the glass from Prentice and 
tipped the kettle. 

"There, there don't drown me," cautioned the 
host. 

"My folks were Baptists, you see." And with this 
time - worn pleasantry Henderson handed Prentice 
the glass half full of water, and took his own con 
taining the sugar and the lemon-peel. As he reached 
for the decanter he inquired: 

"What did you say it cost you, Mr. Justice?" 

"Fifty cents a gallon." 

"What!" Henderson set his glass down upon the 
side-table with exaggerated caution, and going to the 
fireplace pushed the button of an electric bell. "I 
think I'll take water." 

"That's what it cost me," Justice Prentice ex 
plained, with a humorous twinkle. " Its value I don't 
know; an old friend sends it to me fifty cents for 
express." 

149 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Oh!" Henderson relaxed in genuine relief and 
picked up his glass again. 

"That's different, isn't it?" 

"Very." 

"He makes it down there," Prentice resumed; and 
then, with sudden recollection : " Why, it's in the same 
county in which this Whipple murder occurred!" 

"How about that point, Mr. Justice?" Henderson 
remarked, becoming seriously persuasive. " We might 
as well admit it and remand the case." 

"Oh no, there's no constitutional point involved." 

"A man's entitled to an open trial." 

"Well, Whipple had it." 

"No, he didn't," contended Henderson; "they 
wouldn't admit the public." 

"Oh, come, now the court -room was crowded, 
and the judge refused admission to others only when 
there was danger of the floor breaking." 

"But, my dear Mr. Justice," persisted Henderson, 
" that would have been all right to limit the attend 
ance " 

"Well, that's all he did." 

" Only he did it by having the sheriff issue tickets 
of admission. That placed the attendance entirely 
in the control of the prosecution, and the defence is 
right in asking a rehearing." 

"Nonsense! Justice is a little too slow in my old 
State, and I am impatient with technical delays. It 
is now years since they openly assassinated the gov 
ernor-elect, and the guilty men still at large." 

"Why should the killing of Scovil bear on this 
case?" asked Henderson. 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"It bears on me I'm concerned for the fair name 
of Kentucky." 

"Well, if you won't, you won't, and there's an end 
of it." Henderson drained his glass of toddy. 

"Have another?" Prentice invited, in perfunctory 
hospitality. 

"Not another drop." 

Prentice's servant came into the room, answering 
the ring of Justice Henderson, who now asked for his 
coat. The servant left to get it. Justice Prentice, 
realizing that his offer of another toddy might have 
been in better nature, repeated it more cordially. 

"No, I mustn't," his guest replied. "Mrs. Hender 
son has filed her protest against my coming home 
loaded." 

"Well, if you won't, you won't." And the host set 
his own tumbler on the side-table. 

"Hello!" said Henderson, picking up a book bound 
in limp morocco, "reading the Scriptures in your old 
age?" 

"It does look like a Bible, doesn't it?" Prentice 
joined him. "That's a flexible binding I had put on 
a copy of Bret Harte I admire him very much." 

"I like some of his stuff." 

"When I get home from the Capitol and you prosy 
lawyers, I'm too tired to read Browning and those 
heavy guns, so I take Bret Harte very clever, I 
think. I was reading ' A Newport Legend ' before 
you came. Do you know it?" 

"I don't think I do." 

With a gesture of apology Prentice took the book 
from his friend, explaining as he turned the leaves : 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"It's about an old house at Newport that's haunted. 
A young girl in the colonial days died of a broken 
heart in the house, it seems her sweetheart sailed 
away and left her and here's the way Bret Harte 
tells of her coming back." 

Justice Prentice's colleagues on the bench were 
aware of his fondness for reading aloud. There were 
times when their enjoyment of it was less than his 
own. Henderson sat down in submissive resignation. 

"Oh, I'm not going to read all of it to you," Pren 
tice growled, in playful protest "only one verse." 

Henderson affected to conceal a smile of gratifica 
tion. 

"I forgot to tell you" Prentice again interrupted 
himself "that when this chap left the girl he gave 
her a little bouquet understand?" Henderson nod 
ded. "That's a piece of material evidence necessary 
to this summing up," and in a legal manner Justice 
Prentice patted the page he was about to read. Then, 
in a voice trained by practice, modulated by tem 
perament, and made rich by a life of self-control, the 
jurist read w T ith exquisite tenderness : 

" 'And ever since then, when the clock strikes two, 

She walks unbidden from room to room. 
And the air is filled that she passes through 

With a subtle, sad perfume. 
The delicate odor of mignonette. 

The ghost of a dead and gone bouquet, 
Is all that tells of her story yet 

Could she think of a sweeter way?'" 

In a manner of entire and light relief, he turned to 
Henderson. 




'COULD SHE THINK OF A SWEETER WAY?' ISN'T THAT CHARMING. EH 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Isn't that charming, eh?" 

"A very pretty idea," Henderson answered, with 
judicial composure. 

"Beautiful to have a perfume suggest her," Pren 
tice urged, with stimulating enthusiasm. And then, 
after a moment's retrospection: "I suppose it ap 
peals to me especially because I used to know a girl 
who was foolishly fond of mignonette." The Justice 
closed the book tenderly. 

"Well, you don't believe that stuff, do you?" Hen 
derson questioned. 

"What stuff?" 

"That Bret Harte stuff the dead coming back 
ghosts, and so forth." 

"Yes, in one way I do. I find as I get older that 
the things of memory become more real every day 
every day. Why, there are companions of my boy 
hood that I haven't thought of for years who seem 
to come about me more tangibly, or as much so, as 
they were in life." 

This poetic side of his nature was one that Pren 
tice did not often show to his material-minded friend, 
consequently the superior smile that came to Hender 
son's lips was not surprising as he said : 

"Well, how do you account for that? Spiritual 
ism?" 

"Oh no; it's time's perspective." 

"Time's perspective?" Henderson repeated, in a 
tone that he would have used to a confused counsellor 
at the bar. 

"Yes." Prentice, turning to him, realized the dif 
ficulty of conveying his idea in words alone. "I'll 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

have to illustrate my meaning." He walked toward 
the side-table, above which hung one of the few pict 
ures in the room. "Here's a sunset by Rousseau. 
I bought it in Paris last summer. Do you see what 
an immense stretch of land there is in it?" 

"Yes." 

"A bird's-eye view of that would require a chart 
reaching to the ceiling. But see Rousseau's per 
spective. The horizon line isn't two inches from the 
base." 

"Well?" 

"Well, my dear Mr. Justice, that is the magic in 
the perspective of time. My boyhood's horizon is 
very near to my old eyes now. The dimmer they 
grow the nearer it comes, until I think sometimes 
that when we are through with it all we go out al 
most as we entered little children." 

Henderson was moved in spite of himself, but more 
by the tone of the speaker than by the nature of his 
subject. It was against his ideas of self-discipline to 
encourage feeling of this kind, so, at a loss for a fitting 
reply, he walked toward the picture, affecting an in 
terest in its artistic merit. 

"A very beautiful painting, Mr. Justice a Russell, 
you say?" 

"A Rousseau." 

"Oh!" 

"Yes," said Prentice, throwing off his reflective 
mood, "it cost me three thousand only; and a funny 
thing about it : the canvas just fitted into the top of 
my steamer trunk. It came through the custom-house 
without a cent of duty. I completely forgot it." 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Your memory isn't so retentive, then, as it 
seems." 

"Not on those commercial matters." Prentice 
joined heartily in the laugh against himself. 

The servant crossed the room with Justice Hender 
son's coat on his arm. In doing so it brushed from 
the table where the men had been playing a small 
object which fell to the floor with a metallic sound. 

"You dropped your tobacco-box, I think," Pren 
tice said, as the servant was assisting Henderson with 
his overcoat. 

"No, I think not." Henderson patted his coat- 
pocket to make sure. 

"It was this picture, sir," the servant explained, 
lifting the fallen object from the floor. 

"My gracious, my gracious, it might have been 
broken!" exclaimed Prentice. He took the picture 
tenderly from the man. 

"Oh, it often falls when I'm dusting, sir," remarked 
the servant. 

"Oh, does it?" ejaculated Prentice, in unfeigned 
surprise, as the servant left the room. "Well, I'll 
put it away. . . . An ivory miniature by Wimar." With 
the caress of a connoisseur he handed the picture to 
Henderson. "I prize it highly. Old-fashioned por 
trait see gold back." 

"A beautiful face." 

"Isn't it isn't it?" 

"Very. What a peculiar way of combing the hair 
long ; and over the ears." Henderson pantomimed 
the process with a gesture comically unfeminine. 

"The only becoming way women ever wore their 
155 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

hair. I think the scrambly style they have now is 
disgraceful." 

"Your mother, Mr. Justice?" 

"Oh, dear, no; a young girl I used to know. Oh, 
don't smile she's been dead a good five-and-twenty 
years married and had a large family." 

"Very sweet very sweet indeed." 

" Isn't it ? And see the bodice, too how pretty! 
the mammillar bands, you see. They used to make 
the waists with just a piece or two of whalebone." 

"How do you know, you grizzly old bach?" said 
Henderson, nudging Prentice playfully in the ribs. 

"In Heaven's name, why shouldn't I?" Prentice 
laughed, holding Henderson by the elbow with one 
hand and placing the other affectionately upon his 
shoulder as he looked over at the ivory miniature. 
" Get out get out ! But look at it ! Such suppleness 
and rotundity, and all that!" The two old friends 
regarded the picture a moment in silence, and then, 
as if resenting the changed conditions of his life, 
Prentice walked away from Henderson, who still re 
tained the miniature. 

" A year or so ago I was in Kentucky, and on my 
way back I stopped in Indiana for a call on Harland. 
He was in chambers hearing a copyright case. It 
seemed that a corset-maker " 

"A what?" interrupted Henderson, in pretended 
expostulation. 

"A corset-maker," Prentice courageously repeated, 
"was suing some one for infringing his right to an 
advertisement a picture of the Venus de Medici or 
Lucrezia Borgia, or some of those dear old girls, in one 

156 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

of this chap's corsets. You must have seen it in the 
window. Well, he had his lithograph and one of his 
corsets in court. Do you believe me, it was made of 
steel and brass and buckram and all kinds of hard 
ware?" 

"Oh yes," Henderson answered, smiling; "we have 
them at home." 

"Harland whispered to me, 'What do you think 
of it, Mr. Justice?' and I said, 'I thank God I'm a 
bachelor." 

Their laughter was again interrupted by Prentice's 
servant, who entered with a card. Prentice read the 
name and said he would see the visitor. 

"A call?" queried Henderson, when the servant 
had left the room. 

" Yes. The man owns a picture that I've been try 
ing to buy a Corot." 

"Oh, another of these 'perspective' fellows, eh?" 

"Yes; his call doesn't surprise me, because he's 
been in my mind all day." 

" Seems to be in a hurry for the money, coming at 
midnight." 

" I set him the example. Besides, midnight is just 
the shank of the evening for Mr. Brookfield he's 
supposed to be a sporting man." 

Prentice coughed warningly as the servant opened 
the door and ushered in Jack Brookfield. It struck 
the Justice as he greeted his visitor that he was a 
trifle pale. He extended his hand cordially. 

"Good-evening, Mr. Brookfield." 

"You remember me, Mr. Justice?" said Brookfield, 
as he met the greeting. 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Perfectly. This is Justice Henderson." 

"I hope I'm not intruding " Brookfield began; 
but Henderson took him up. 

" I'm just going, Mr. Brookfield." The Justice but 
toned his overcoat and crossed to the door. Prentice 
followed him. 

"No constitutional point about it?" Henderson 
made a last appeal for the Whipple case. 

"None," Prentice answered, firmly. 

"Good-night." 

"Good-night." 

As the door closed after Henderson, Prentice turned 
to Brookfield, who had been regarding the Rousseau. 

" Have a chair, Mr. Brookfield." 

"Thank you," Brookfield answered, deferentially. 

Prentice indicated the side-table. 

" I've some medicine here that comes directly from 
your city." 

"I don't think I will, if you'll excuse me." 

"Well, have you brought the picture?" 

"The picture is still in Louisville I'm in Wash 
ington with my niece " 

"Yes." 

"And a friend of hers a lady. They are very 
anxious to meet you, Mr. Justice." 

"Ah!" Prentice paused. "Well, I go to the Cap 
itol at noon to-morrow." 

"To-night," Brookfield interrupted; "they're leav 
ing the city tc-morrow, as you were when I had the 
pleasure of receiving you." 

"I remember." 

Brookfield drew out his watch. 

158 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"They were to come after me in five minutes if I 
didn't return, and those five minutes, Mr. Justice, I 
hoped you would give to me." 

"With pleasure." 

The Justice sat down amiably, but Brookfield re 
mained standing, thoughtfully silent, as though con 
sidering his mission. At length, with compensating 
positiveness, he began: 

"Those two books that you sent me " 

"Yes." 

" I want to thank you for them again and ask you 
how far you go with the men who wrote them, es 
pecially the second one. Do you believe that book ?" 

" Yes, I do. I know the man who wrote it, and I 
believe him." 

" Did he ever do any of the stunts for you that he 
writes about?" 

"He didn't call them 'stunts,' but he has given me 
many demonstrations of his power and mine." 

"For example?" 

"For example?" Prentice paused a moment, medi 
tating. " Well, he asked me to think of him steadily 
at some unexpected time, and to think of some defi 
nite thing. A few days later in this room two 
o'clock in the morning I concentrated my thoughts 
I mentally pictured him going to his telephone and 
calling me." 

"And did he do it?" Brookfield asked, eagerly. 

"No." As Prentice paused a shade of disappoint 
ment crossed Brookfield's face. "But he came here 
at my breakfast-hour and told me that at two o'clock 
he had waked and risen from his bed and walked to 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

his 'phone in the hallway with an impulse to call 
and then had stopped because he had no message to 
deliver and because he thought his imagination might 
be tricking him." 

"You hadn't given him any tip, such as asking 
him how he'd slept?" 

"None. Five nights after that I repeated the 
experiment." 

"Well?" 

"That time he called me." 

"What did he say?" 

" He said, ' Old man, you ought to be in bed asleep 
and not disturbing honest citizens,' which was quite 
true." 

Both men smiled at the Justice's admission. There 
was a moment's silence, and then Brookfield said, in 
a voice that wavered between awe and amusement: 

"By Jove! That's kind of harking back to the 
Salem witchcraft business, isn't it?" 

"Distinctly," Prentice assented, "and in a measure 
explaining the ' witchcraft business.' Those old wom 
en of Salem were the unconscious pioneers in a new 
mental field. A poor, lone creature, hungry for com 
panionship, let her thoughts dwell on some young girl 
of the neighborhood ; the girl's thoughts answered by 
this inevitable law " 

"Really inevitable?" 

"Really inevitable. The girl could neglect the old 
woman and her neighborly claim for sympathy, but 
when she couldn't banish the woman from her 
thoughts they called it witchcraft, and hanged the 
woman." 

1 60 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"It's a devilish creepy business, isn't it?" Brook- 
field said, after a moment's thought. 

"Yes." 

"And if it's so " he continued, more to himself than 
to the Justice. 

"And it is so," Prentice pursued. 

"Pays a man to be careful what he thinks." 

"It will very well pay your type of a man to do so." 

"I don't want to be possessed by any of these bug 
house theories, but I'm blamed if a few things haven't 
happened to me, Mr. Justice, since you started me 
on this subject." 

"Along this line?" 

"Yes," Brookfield answered; and then, with an 
air of confession, he added: "And I've tried the other 
side of it, too." 

"What other side?" 

"The mesmeric business." Brookfield involunta 
rily suggested the motion of the hypnotist as he saidi 
"I can do it." 

Again Brookfield felt the steadiness of the old man's 
gaze. He met it just as steadily as he found himself 
wondering which of his thoughts his silent inquisitor 
was reading. After a moment of this telepathic in 
terrogation, as Brookfield construed it, the Justice 
leaned forward on the table. 

"Then I should say, Mr. Brookfield, that for you 
the obligation of clean and unselfish thinking was 
doubly imperative." 

"Within this last year I've put persons well, prac 
tically asleep in a chair, and I've made them tell me 
what a boy was doing a mile away, in a jail." 

161 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"I see no reason to call clairvoyance a bug-house 
theory," Prentice answered, easily. 

"I only know that I do it." 

"Yes, you have the youth for it the glorious 
strength." There was a pathetic note of regret in 
the old man's voice. "Does it make any demand on 
your vitality?" 

"I've fancied that a headache to which I'm sub 
ject is more frequent that's all." Brookfield passed 
his hand over his eyes a gesture that had become 
characteristic. 

"But you find the ability the power increases, 
don't you?" 

"Yes. Within the last month I've put a man into 
an hypnotic sleep with half a dozen waves of the 
hand." 

As Brookfield lifted his hand from the back of the 
chair and voluntarily repeated the mesmeric pass, 
Prentice asked: 

"Why any motion?" 

"Fixes his attention, I suppose." 

"Fixes your attention." The old Justice smiled. 
"When in your own mind your belief is sufficiently 
trained, you won't need this " And Prentice imi 
tated Brookfield's gesture. 

"I won't?" somewhat incredulously. 

"No." 

"What '11 I do?" 

"Simply think." 

Brookfield smiled slightly. 

"You have a headache, for example?" 

"I have a headache, for a fact." 

162 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Well, some persons could cure it by rubbing your 
forehead." 

"I know that," Brookfield admitted, remembering 
how Viola had done so. 

' ' Others could cure it by the passes of the hypnotist ; 
others by simply willing that it should be cured." 

"Well, that's where I can't follow you and your 
friend, the author." 

"You simply think your head aches," Prentice said, 
tolerantly. 

"I know it aches." 

"I think it doesn't." 

"What?" Brookfield looked at his host, who was 
leaning quietly back in his easy-chair, his eyes closed. 

"I think it doesn't," the old man repeated, gently. 

The pain in Brookfield's head ceased, as it some 
times did, for the space of a heart-beat. He waited 
for a second pulse and a third, confident of its return, 
when, feeling that further delay would be impolite, he 
answered truthfully: 

"Well, just at this moment it doesn't. But isn't 
that simply mental excitement won't it come back?" 

' ' It won't come back to-day." There was no doubt 
in the affirmative tone. 

"Well, that's some comfort. The blamed things 
have made it busy for me since I've been studying 
this business." 

"It is a two-edged sword." Prentice opened his 
eyes and looked compassionately at his visitor. 

"You mean it's bad for a man who tries it?" 

"I mean that it constantly opens to the investigator 
new mental heights, higher planes; and every man, 

163 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Mr. Brookfield, is ill in some manner who lives habitu 
ally on a lower level than that of the light he sees." 

The servant announced that two ladies were in the 
reception-room below. 

"Your friends?" Prentice asked Brookfield. 

"I think so." 

"Yes, sir," the servant volunteered. 

"Ask them to come up." The Justice rose and 
took a tumbler from the table. "I'll put away Jus 
tice Henderson's glass," he said, in explanation of 
his act. 

"They're Kentucky ladies, Mr. Justice." 

"But I don't want any credit for a hospitality I 
haven't earned." 



XI 



A3 the two ladies came into the room, Viola was 
slightly in advance of Helen. Jack took her hand 
and presented her to the Justice. As he turned to 
Helen, she said: 

"One moment, Jack; I prefer to introduce my 
self." 

Justice Prentice desired the ladies to be seated. 

"You are not a married man, Justice Prentice?" 
Helen began, interrogatively. 

There was a tone of tender regret in the voice of 
the old Justice as he answered, quietly 

"I am not." 

"But you have the reputation of being a very 
charitable one." 

"That's pleasant to hear." 

Prentice resumed his chair opposite to that in 
which Helen had seated herself. Brookfield stood 
by the table, slightly out of the Justice's range of 
vision, reassuringly holding Viola's hand. He knew 
by her trembling that the girl was in an agony of 
apprehension. 

"What charity do you represent?" Prentice asked, 
by way of an opening. 

"None. I hardly know how to tell you my ob 
ject." 

165 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"It's a personal matter, is it?" Prentice looked 
to Brookfield to help him out. 

"Yes, a very personal matter, Mr. Justice." 

"I have here," said Helen, "an autograph-book." 

Again Prentice looked at Brookfield with a slight, 
amused smile. "I usually sign my autograph for 
those who wish it at the " 

"I did not come for an autograph, Justice Pren 
tice," Helen broke in, tremulously; "I have brought 
one." 

"Well, I don't go in for that kind of thing very 
much I have no collection. My taste runs more 
toward " 

"The autograph I have brought is one of yours 
written many years ago. It is signed to a letter." 
Helen offered the book. "Will you look at it?" 

"With pleasure," Prentice replied, adjusting his 
glasses. "Is this the letter?" 

Helen nodded. 

The Justice read aloud: "'June 15, i860. 1 Dear 
me, that's a long time ago. 'My dear Margaret, 
The matter passed off satisfactorily a mere scratch 
Boland apologized. Jeff.'. . . What is this?" 

"A letter from you." 

Prentice himself showed agitation both in voice 
and face as he repeated the words: 

" ' My dear Margaret . . . 1860. ' Why, this letter 
was it written to Margaret ?" 

"To Margaret Price," Helen affirmed, in a voice 
almost inaudible with emotion. 

"Is it possible? Well, well!" Prentice looked 
dreamily at the miniature lying on the table before 

166 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

him. " I wonder if what we call coincidences are ever 
mere coincidences. Margaret Price! Her name was 
on my lips only a moment ago." 

"Really, Mr. Justice?" Brookfield asked, his heart 
taking unreasonable hope from the circumstance. 

"Yes. Did you know Margaret Price?" 

Brookfield turned to Helen as he answered in the 
affirmative. Prentice's gaze followed Brookfield's, 
and in response to his look more than to his words 
Helen said: 

" She was my mother." 

"Margaret Price was ?" 

"Was my mother." 

The old Justice leaned back in his chair; over his 
face there passed in turn astonishment, perplexity, 
tenderness. 

"Why, I was just speaking of her to Justice Hen 
derson, who went out as you came in you remem 
ber?" 

He appealed with animation to Brookfield, who 
nodded assent. His audience of three hung almost 
breathlessly on his words. 

"Her picture dropped from the table here this 
miniature." He took the ivory portrait in his hand 
affectionately. " Margaret Price gave it to me her 
self. And you " his tender old eyes lifted to Helen's, 
his voice trembled and dropped to a lower key 
"and you are her daughter?" 

"Yes, Mr. Justice." 

" Yes, yes ; I can see the likeness. At twenty you 
must have looked very like this miniature." He 
handed the portrait to Helen. 

167 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"I have photographs of myself that are very like 
this," Helen said, handing the picture to Jack. As 
he and Viola studied it together, Helen turned to the 
Justice, pursuing the topic that had begun so auspi 
ciously. 

"And you say you were speaking of her just now?" 

"Not five minutes ago." 

"What were you saying of her?" 

Brookfield put the miniature down on the table 
and waited for the answer. The Justice hesitated 
strangely, but once launched on his confession he 
spoke rapidly. 

"Well, I was saying that the old bodices were a 
more civilized article of apparel than the modern sub 
stitute for them, madam. Don't you agree with me?" 

"I don't think it an important question, Mr. 
Justice," Helen returned, without coquetry, yet in a 
tone that implied appreciation of the pleasantry sug 
gested by the comparison. 

"I trust you don't think it an impertinent one?" 
The courtly old Kentuckian was on his feet imme 
diately with a gesture of deference both to Helen 
and Viola that would have disarmed any inclination 
to criticism. 

" Oh no," Helen hastened to assure him. 

"But be seated, please," the Justice urged Viola, 
who was still standing by her uncle. " I am really 
delighted that you calleddelighted." The old man 
beamed. 

"Even at such an hour?" Helen ventured. 

"At any hour." The tender sincerity of his voice 
was unmistakable. "Margaret Price was a very dear 

168 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

friend of mine. And to think you are her daughter!'* 
Prentice took the autograph - book from the table 
again, scanning the note which more than filled the 
first page of the paper. "And this letter 1860! 
What's this?" He had turned a leaf. 

"Oh, don't touch that!" Helen exclaimed, half ris 
ing as she did so; "it will break. It's only a dry 
spray of mignonette pinned to the note when you 
sent it." 

"A spray of mignonette," Prentice repeated, mus 
ingly. He half lifted the volume of Bret Harte from 
which he had read to Justice Henderson earlier in the 
evening. 

"It was my mother's favorite flower and perfume," 
Helen explained. 

"I remember." The Justice's expression relaxed 
in baffled weariness. He turned to Brookfield. " Well, 
well, this is equally astonishing!" 

"Do you remember the letter?" Jack asked him. 

"Perfectly." 

" And the circumstance it alludes to ?" Brookfield's 
voice almost shook with eagerness. 

" Yes," Prentice, answered simply ; " it was the work 
of a romantic boy. ' ' Turning to Helen, he said : " I I 
was very fond of your mother, Mrs. " He paused 
in an attempt to recall her name; then remembering 
that he had not heard it, said, pleasantly, " By-the- 
way, you haven't told me your name." 

"Never mind that now," Helen begged; "let me be 
Margaret Price's daughter for the present." 

"Very well," Prentice agreed. He returned to the 
subject of the letter, addressing all three of his visi- 

169 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

tors. "This was a little scratch of a duel they've 
gone out of fashion now, I'm thankful to say." 

"Do you remember the cause of this one?" Helen 
asked. 

"Yes. Henry Boland had worried Margaret some 
way. She was frightened, I think, and fainted." 

"And you struck him?" 

"Yes, and he challenged me." 

" I've heard mother tell it. Do you remember what 
frightened her?" 

" I don't believe I do does the letter say ?" Again 
the Justice turned to the book. 

"No," said Helen, evidently anxious to distract his 
attention from the book. "Try to think." 

"Was it a snake or a toad?" the Justice pondered. 

"No a jewel." 

"A jewel? I remember now a cat's-eye a cat's- 
eye jewel, wasn't it?" 

"Yes, yes, yes." Helen covered her eyes with her 
handkerchief and bowed her head upon the table. 

Viola came to her side in a surge of sympathy and 
laid her hand gently on Helen's shoulder. 

Justice Prentice was at a loss to understand the 
cause of her sudden tears. Had he inadvertently 
touched some ancient wound? 

" My dear madam, it seems to be a very emotional 
subject with you," he said, tentatively. 

"It is." Helen raised her wet eyes to his face. "I've 
hoped so you would remember it. On the cars I was 
praying all the way that you would remember it, 
and you do you do." Helen leaned over the table 
pleading, eager, straining for his answer. 

170 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"I do yes," he assured her. 

" Compose yourself, dear," Viola whispered to Helen, 
her arms about her; "remember what depends on it." 

" It is evidently something in which I can aid you," 
Prentice said, gently. 

"It is. And you will?" 

"There is nothing I would not do for a daughter of 
Margaret Price. You are in mourning, dear lady; 
is it for?" 

"For my son." 

The Justice turned apologetically to Jack, as if he 
would spare her. 

"How long has he been dead?" 

"He is not dead, Justice Prentice!" Helen cried, 
her voice rising with emotion. " My boy, the grandson 
of Margaret Price, is under sentence of death." She 
rose from her chair. 

"Sentence of death!" In a moment Justice Pren 
tice had recovered the judicial mantle of his office and 
was on guard. 

"Yes; I am the mother of Clay Whipple " 

"But, madam" 

" He is to die. I come " 

"Stop!" Prentice commanded, sternly. "You forget 
yourself." He retreated with great gravity toward 
the door of his private apartment. "The case of 
Whipple is before the Supreme Court of the United 
States. I am a member of that body I cannot 
listen to you." 

"You must." Helen followed him. 

"You are prejudicing his chances," Prentice went 
on, imperatively rather than in explanation; "you 
xa 171 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

are making it necessary for me to rule against him." 
And then in a tone of more human appeal : " My dear 
madam, for the sake of your boy, do not do this. It is 
unlawful without dignity or precedent." He turned 
upon Brookfield, whom he evidently held responsible 
for this painful interview. " If the lady were not the 
mother of the boy, I should call your conduct base." 

"But she is his mother," Viola interjected. 

"And, Justice Prentice, I am the daughter of the 
woman you loved," Helen said. 

"I beg you to be silent." The Justice put his 
hand on the door-knob. 

"Won't you hear us for a moment?" Jack tempo 
rized, feeling that the opportunity they had counted 
on so much was slipping from them. 

"I cannot I dare not. I must leave you." 

"Why?" The question came from Viola. 

"I have explained," the Justice hurried on, in his 
indignation; "the matter is before the Court for me 
to hear you would be corrupt." 

"I won't talk of the question before your Court." 
Helen's intuition seized the one possible plea for a 
hearing. "That, our attorneys tell us, is a constitu 
tional point." 

"That is its attitude." 

" I will not talk of that. I wish to speak of this 
letter." 

"You can listen to that, can't you, Mr. Justice?" 
Jack pleaded. 

Prentice paused and surveyed his visitors: Brook- 
field, manly, straightforward, sincere ; Viola, trembling 
ly expectant and suppliant; Helen, in an anguish of 

172 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

suspense, her frightened face so wonderfully like one 
he remembered. 

"Do you hope for its influence indirectly?" he 
asked, coming back into the room. 

" No. Sit down, Justice Prentice, and listen to me. 
I will talk calmly to you." Helen resumed her place 
at the table ; Viola joined her, standing with her arms 
about her the two women making a picture that 
moved the old Justice more than he would have cared 
to confess. 

"My dear madam," he said, "my heart bleeds for 
you." Then to Brookfield : " Her agony must be past 
judicial measurement." 

"Only God knows, sir." 

There was a moment's silence before Helen again 
turned to the Justice. 

" You remember this letter, Mr. Justice you have 
recalled the duel?" 

Prentice bowed. 

"You remember, thank God, its cause." 

"I do." 

"You know that my mother's aversion to that 
jewel amounted almost to an insanity?" 

"I remember that." 

"I inherited that aversion. As a child the sight 
of one of them would throw me almost into con 
vulsions." 

"Is it possible?" 

" It is true. The physicians said I would outgrow 
the susceptibility, and in a measure I did. But I dis 
covered that Clay had inherited the fatal fear from 
me." 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"You can understand that, Mr. Justice," Brook- 
field declared, anxiously. 

"Medical jurisprudence is full of such cases. Why 
should we deny them? Is nature faithful only in 
physical matters ? You are like this portrait. Your 
voice is that of Margaret Price. Nature's behest 
should have embraced also some of the less apparent 
possessions, I think." 

"We urged all that at the trial," Jack submitted, 
"but they called it invention." 

"Nothing seems more probable to me." 

"Thank you," Helen said, in deepest gratitude, 
hard put to it to restrain her tears of relief. " Well, 
as I was saying, Clay, my boy, had that dreadful and 
unreasonable fear of the jewel. I protected him as 
far as possible. But one night a year ago some men, 
companions, finding that the sight of this stone an 
noyed him, pressed it upon his attention. He didn't 
know, Mr. Justice, he was not responsible." Helen's 
fingers locked and unlocked in her agony. "It was 
insanity; but he struck his tormentor, and the blow 
resulted in the young man's death." Unconsciously 
she rose and extended her hands in dramatic appeal 
to the Justice. 

"Terrible terrible!" he whispered, painfully atten 
tive. 

"My poor boy is crushed by the awful deed. He 
is not a murderer he was never that but they have 
sentenced him, Mr. Justice; he is to die." Helen's 
rising tone ended in one heart-broken sob. She stag 
gered toward the Justice, who had himself risen from 
his chair, drawn by an involuntary impulse to her 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

aid, but Brookfield was before him and took her in 
his arms. 

"Helen, dear Helen" Brookfield sought to com 
fort her " remember how much depends on you try 
to compose yourself." 

"You promised," Viola reminded her. 

Helen became conscious of the voice of Justice 
Prentice speaking in judicial tones to Jack, and of 
Jack's rejoinders. 

"All this was ably presented to the trial Court, 
you say?" 

"By the best attorneys." 

"And the verdict?" 

"Still was guilty. But, Mr. Justice, the sentiment 
of the community has changed very much since then. 
We feel that a new trial would result differently." 

The mention of a new trial reminded Helen of her 
own part she heard her own voice speaking to the 
Justice. 

"When our lawyers decided to go to the Supreme 
Court, I remembered some letter of yours in this old 
book. Can you imagine my joy when I found the 
letter was on the very point of this inherited trait on 
which we rested our defence?" 

"We have ridden twenty-four hours to reach you," 
Jack said. "The train came in only at ten o'clock." 

"Oh, Mr. Justice, you are not powerless to help 
me!" Helen was alive with new hope and joy the 
man into whose deep eyes she looked was responding 
to her appeal. "What is an official duty to a moth 
er's love, to the life of my boy?" 

" My dear, dear madam, that is not necessary, be- 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

lieve me. This letter comes very properly under the 
head of new evidence." In the most matter-of-fact 
manner of which he was at the moment capable, 
Prentice turned to Brookfield. "The defendant is 
entitled to a rehearing on that." 

" Mr. Justice Mr. Justice!" Helen exclaimed, almost 
beside herself with joy. 

"There there." Again Viola's arms were about 
her. 

"Of course that isn't before us," Prentice ex 
plained, ' ' but when we remand the case on this con 
stitutional point " 

"Then you will you will remand it!" cried Helen. 

"Justice Henderson had convinced me on that 
point to-night, so I think there is no doubt of the 
decision." 

"You can never know the light you let into my 
heart." 

Viola returned to her the handkerchief which had 
marked the page in the autograph-book. Helen closed 
the book with the handkerchief in its place. 

"What is that perfume?" Prentice asked, as she 
did so. "Have you one about you?" 

"Yes, on this handkerchief." 

"What is it?" 

"Mignonette." 

"Mignonette?" 

"A favorite perfume of my mother's. This hand 
kerchief of hers was in the book with the letter." 

"Indeed!" Prentice inhaled slowly. His eyes were 
moist, and in them there was a haunted look of ten 
der memory. 

176 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Oh, Mr. Justice, do you think I can save my 
boy?" 

Prentice turned to Brookfield. 

"On the rehearing I will take pleasure in testify 
ing myself as to this hereditary aversion and what I 
knew of its existence in Margaret Price." 

"May I tell the lawyers so?" Jack asked, eagerly. 

"No. They will learn it in the court to-morrow 
they can stand the suspense. I am speaking comfort 
to the mother's heart." 

"Comfort!" echoed Helen; "it is life." 

"Say nothing of this call, if you please nothing to 
any one." 

"We shall respect your instructions, Mr. Justice," 
Brookfield answered for all; and then explained: "My 
niece, who has been with Mrs. Whipple during this 
trouble, is the fiance'e of her son the boy lying in 
jail." 

Prentice took Viola's hand in both his own. "You 
have my sympathy, too, my dear." 

"Thank you." 

"And now, good-night." 

"Good-night." Viola joined her uncle Jack at the 
door; both turned, waiting for Helen. 

"Good-night, Justice Prentice," she was saying. 
"You must know my gratitude words cannot tell it." 

"Would you do me a favor?" he said. 

"Can you ask it?" 

"If that was the handkerchief of Margaret Price, 
I'd like to have it." 

Helen lifted the folded square of antique lace from 
the book; she put it in the extended hand of Pren- 

177 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

tice. Some expression of gratitude formed in her 
mind; some allusion to the handkerchief as a me 
mento; some thought of the mother who had owned 
it, but no words would come. There are seas upon 
which we do not venture small boats, there are emo 
tions in which language cannot live. Helen turned 
to Brookfield and Viola, and went from the room 
without looking back. 

The Justice, left alone, stood for a moment looking 
at the folded handkerchief in his hand. He spoke 
aloud. 

"Margaret Price. . . . People will say that she has 
been in her grave five-and- twenty years " he picked 
up the miniature from the table "but I'll swear her 
spirit was in this room to-night and directed a de 
cision of the Supreme Court of the United States." 

From a distant belfry there came the stroke of two. 

Prentice lifted the handkerchief to his face 

" ' The delicate odor of mignonette, 

The ghost of a dead and gone bouquet, 
Is all that tells of her presence yet 
Could she think of a sweeter way?"-' 



XII 

HPHE Brookfield party returned to Louisville, 
1 Helen, Viola, and the attorneys greatly excited: 
Helen to a tearful degree of hope and exaltation; 
Viola's spirit like a pinioned bird suddenly set free; 
the attorneys stimulated by their victory, and anx 
ious to retrieve cause and reputation in a second trial ; 
Brookfield sharing all these emotions, but addition 
ally stirred to the centre of his being by his experi 
ence in Prentice's library and the utterances of the 
Justice. One comment in particular frequently re 
curred : 

"Then I should say, Mr. Brookfield, that for you 
the obligation of clean and unselfish thinking was 
doubly imperative." 

Brookfield was aware of the threatening paralysis 
of too much self-examination, aware also that of late 
he had been dangerously given to an introspective 
habit. Yet he further indulged it in the light of 
Prentice's warning, in order to ascertain to his moral 
satisfaction the character of his thinking. Was it 
clean? Was it sufficiently unselfish? 

And that sudden cure of his headache? Reports 
and pretended records of all demonstrations of that 
kind had found no receptive faith in him. What ex 
plained it? 

179 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

That he could question a negro boy whose objective 
faculties were inhibited by hypnosis and get from 
that boy a reading of another person's thoughts he 
had demonstrated to himself and to a scientific ad 
viser. That' the subjective mind of the negro boy 
was in communication directly and indirectly with 
other minds, through channels of affinity previously 
and variously established, was probable. For similar 
phenomena such was the scientific explanation by 
the most advanced students of the subject. Brook- 
field himself was prepared to believe that an individ 
ual subjective mind set free from its objective cus 
todian by hypnosis was in flowing communication 
with the common subjective mind of humanity. But 
to explain or even grant the purposive projection of 
a thought puzzled him. It was easy for him, at this 
stage of his special education, to admit that Prentice's 
author friend had read the thought of the Justice, in 
which was held a picture of the author going to his 
telephone ; easy to understand that such reading had 
suggested the action to an inert sleeper; but that a 
thought could be projected and be a compelling order 
was more than startling it was intellectually revolu 
tionary. 

Yet there was the fact of his own headache being 
banished at command! What accomplished that, if 
it was not a projected force? Yet if a force, what 
was the means of its communication ? For Brookfield 
could imagine no force transmitted except through 
a material vehicle or medium. But assume a medium ; 
assume the medium to be the ether that predicated, 
interplanetary, intermolecular, all - penetrating sub- 

180 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

stance. Assume that medium, or suppose still an 
other and finer ether, devoted to the transmission of 
thought alone. What stirs its atoms? What agi 
tates and propels them in seeming currents or direc 
tions ? 

Brookfield related the headache incident to Dr. 
Monroe. That gentleman said: "A cure by sugges 
tion." But this explanation Brookfield refused. He 
admitted a degree of susceptibility to suggestion in 
every person, but susceptibility permitting an in 
stantaneous cure of a headache would be most ab 
normal. He also combated the implication of hyp 
nosis which Monroe offered in his inquiries as to 
whether the Justice had looked at him steadily dur 
ing the interview, had established any monotony of 
tone, and the like. 

Brookfield had not been hypnotized into relief. 
That explanation was untenable. 

The more he considered it the more convinced he 
became that there must exist a mental force that is 
dynamic a force that certain minds can consciously 
direct. What was the character of a mind capable 
of commanding this power? What was its essential 
endowment ? What was the needed degree of devel 
opment ? 

Brookfield had never before knowingly met such 
a man as Prentice. Could that uncanny power of his 
be cultivated in other men ? Imagine it in the hands 
of one vicious or criminally disposed! Brookfield felt 
that he, like Hamlet, could accuse himself of such 
things that "'twere better his mother had not borne 
him" ; yet his own power as a hypnotist had been cul- 

181 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

tivated and perceptibly increased, and at the cost of 
only a little greater tension, resulting, perhaps, in a 
trifling recurrence of his headaches. 

Again he recalled a remark by the Justice: "The 
investigation constantly opens new mental heights, 
and every man is ill in some manner who lives habit 
ually on a lower plane than that of the light he sees." 

Did the answer to his fear of the power in improper 
hands lie in that explanation of Prentice's ? Did the 
power come only to men who lived up to their high 
est light, and, if once acquired, did it desert them 
when they willingly and habitually abandoned their 
standard ? 

The thought of this possibility influenced Brook- 
field. He formed no resolutions as to plainer living, 
or higher thinking, but the presence of the idea itself 
acted as a constant monitor. One by one indulgences 
were foregone ; unwholesome topics were dismissed from 
conversation and from mind ; a conscious tonic, physi 
cal and mental regimen was gradually established. 

One evening after dinner Brookfield was in the 
library with the ladies. Viola and her mother were 
quietly discussing some intricacy of knitting; Helen 
was endeavoring to interest herself in a magazine. 
Brookfield sat in a big sofa by the fireplace. A grate 
of gleaming anthracite was shaping and reshaping 
faces in its bed, as it always did for him. He had an 
impulse to call Helen's attention to these pictures, and 
he foresaw with unusual distinctness, even for him, the 
position he would like her to take beside him on the 
sofa leaning forward as he pointed out the faces in 
the coals, one elbow on her knee, her chin in the 

182 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

supporting hand. At that moment Helen laid the 
magazine she had been reading on the table, came 
over to his side, and assumed the position he had 
mentally seen her take. 

"What are you looking at, Jack?" 

Her very words stepped Indian fashion into the 
mental footprints of his thoughts. 

Brookfield answered her, tracing the wavering forms 
in the fire, and speaking in an easy and natural under 
tone; but his thoughts were busy with the strange 
coincidence that had just occurred. That there was 
any dynamic force in his own thinking, nothing as yet 
demonstrated. The events of the last few moments, 
however, were suggestive of experiment. 

"Would it astonish you, Helen, if Viola were to put 
down her work and come over here ?" Brookfield asked, 
in a voice audible to Helen only. 

"No. Would it astonish you ?" 

" Suppose that, instead of perching on the arm of the 
sofa beside you, which would be the girlish and natural 
thing to do, she came behind us both ; that she then 
put her right hand over your shoulder and her left 
hand on my head would that astonish you?" 

" If you tell me she is going to do it, the accuracy 
of your prevision would astonish me." 

"I think she's going to do it." 

"I think she isn't," Helen bantered. 

"But that isn't the game," Jack explained; "you, 
too, must dramatize her doing it." And again he 
described the action. 

Helen felt an uncanny creeping of the flesh as Viola, 
before Jack had ceased speaking, laid aside her needla- 

183 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

work and rose to her feet. The girl looked around 
uncertainly, crossed the room, and stood behind the 
sofa. 

"Am I interrupting?" she asked. 

"Not at all, my dear," Helen answered. 

Viola put her right arm about Helen's neck. There 
was a moment's pause ; then she lifted her left hand 
and caressingly stroked her uncle's head. 

Helen gasped, and was about to exclaim, when 
Jack, with finger on his lips, objured her to silence. 

The second trial of Clay Whipple began under more 
intelligent direction for the defence than the first trial 
had displayed, although conducted by the same at 
torneys. A sustained endeavor was made to secure 
a jury of men of sufficient imagination, if not of suf 
ficient information, to conceive the possibility of trans 
mitting a mental idiosyncrasy from one generation to 
another. 

Hardmuth, because of his full knowledge of the 
case, had been specially appointed in charge for the 
State. His attempts to get an unsympathetic and 
matter-of-fact jury were as persistent as the efforts 
to the contrary of the defence. The result was the 
selection of twelve men not all of whom were satis 
factory to either side, and from whom the defence 
anticipated at best but a disagreement. 

The greater publicity that the elapsed interval had 
contributed to the case, together with the closer at 
tention that both sides had given to the selection of 
the jury, had prolonged that part of the proceedings. 
The days so occupied were not altogether unhappy 

184 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ones for the women who loved the defendant. They 
were with him now in surroundings less depressing 
than those in the jail. They were in the presence and 
in the company of men of intelligence, the majority 
of whom were sympathizers, and the strongest and 
best of whom were advocates of their cause. 

Moreover, the mere machinery of the law no longer 
terrified the women related to the prisoner. Their 
interest, of course, made them unreliable judges of 
the value of any bit of testimony; their fears ex 
aggerated the menace; their sympathies distorted 
favorable utterances ; but they had a consoling realiza 
tion that much of the proceedings was in their favor. 
The presence of a Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States among the witnesses for the defence 
gave dignity to that side, and at once lifted its princi 
pal from the condition and color of a malefactor at 
bay, endeavoring to escape the just penalty of the 
law, to the position of an unfortunate prisoner pre 
sumably innocent and whom to prove guilty was the 
task of the State. 

That portion of the South that lies east of the 
Mississippi has a reverence for lineage that is un 
known elsewhere in America, with perhaps the ex 
ception of Boston. Through the other fields of the 
nation the current of life has flowed with a swiftness 
and a freedom that have made attention to pedigree 
a retarding and unprofitable digression from the gen 
eral progress. In Dixie and in Boston, however, the 
movement has been rotary rather than progressive. 
In the Southland especially it is impossible to be wide 
ly introduced without meeting somebody cousin to 

185 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

the sponsor. Family connection is a weighty consid 
eration. Parents of distinction are computable assets 
even when dead. Notable grandparents compound 
in value of almost geometrical increase. That the 
prisoner's maternal grandmother had been a sweet 
heart of a man since advanced to the supreme bench 
was a recommendation of considerable import to sev 
eral members of the jury. That his singular aver 
sion to the cat's-eye had been also hers, and that the 
grave and dignified and distinguished legal gentle 
man before them had fought a duel shielding that 
sensitiveness in a lady from a rude and stupid ap 
proach not unlike that from which the prisoner had 
defended himself, was of tremendous weight. 

Hardmuth brought all his batteries to bear upon this 
witness. He put into play every art and trick and 
resource that his intelligence and his experience had 
developed, and his efforts were not entirely ineffectual 
with the jury. 

During this second trial, except when testifying or 
advising with the attorneys, Brookfield was notice 
able for his absence from the court-room. There 
were those who attributed this to his possible belief 
that the friendship of an ex-gambler would not be 
helpful to the accused. Had this been Brookfield's 
opinion it would not have been well founded. As 
a gambler his reputation had been that of a square 
one, and in all contests, whether in sporting, financial, 
or political circles, Jack Brookfield was known as a 
consistent advocate of fair play. Furthermore, in the 
year and a quarter that had passed since the killing 
of Denning, Brookfield had taken an increasing inter- 

186 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

est in politics. His wide acquaintance, his personal 
magnetism, and his ample means had made of him a 
factor of influence and consequent power. There was 
more than one man on the jury to whom the friend 
ship of Brookfield might be valuable. 

Brookfield's absence from the court-room was due 
to an incident of which he had made no report to any 
one. Near the finish of his own testimony he had 
chanced to glance along the double row of faces in the 
jury-box. The glance had been casual enough in the 
beginning, but as it encountered the gaze of one of 
the men Brookfield had felt an involuntary arrest of 
his attention. A like happening has come to every 
one at some time. Eyes confront eyes with inex 
plicable recognition the vis-b-vis is a stranger, and 
there is on either side no question of that fact, yet 
the gaze of both halts in the passing with silent salute 
or challenge. Each look says: "Well, what is it you 
wish of me?" Though Brookfield held the gaze of 
the juror for less than a second, he felt that if pro 
longed the interchange would develop into one of 
those optical duels that end in self-consciousness and 
sometimes irritation and anger. There was a slight 
show of color in the temples of the other man before 
Brookfield, tactful as he was, could move on with his 
glance, accepting for himself the part of retreat. In 
a later survey of the men he was careful so to time 
and distribute his regard that this particular juror 
should not feel any exception in his case. Yet, im 
partial as was the disposition of time, there was a 
quality in this man's look that made Brookfield aware 
that their minds as well as their eyes had met. 
13 187 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

When Brookfield left the court-room, as he did soon 
after, he refrained from looking back at the jury. He 
was conscious, through some subtle sense, that the 
man was again looking at him, and he preferred 
that no spectator should note a second exchange of 
glances between the juror and himself. 

In consequence of this incident Brookfield was 
away from the court-room during the period of Pren 
tice's examination, although he would have liked 
to hear the old Justice testify and to see the effect 
of his testimony. Prentice and Brookfield had been 
in each other's company the greater part of the time 
since the Justice had arrived in Louisville on his pres 
ent mission. They had talked much of the case, and 
Prentice's opinions, as Brookfield had reported them 
to Clay's counsel, had affected to some extent the con 
duct of the case. 

When, in turn, his examination was finished, Pren 
tice came at once to Brookfield. He was not in 
clined to minimize the value to the defence of the 
appearance of a man of his position, but he reported 
a disturbing estimate of the counteracting influence 
of Hardmuth. There was, in his opinion, among the 
counsel for Whipple no such dominating mind as 
Hardmuth's no man so capable of influencing other 
men by his mere personality, independently of his 
contentions. As one of wide experience in trial pro 
cedure and long practice in reading human nature, 
Justice Prentice was fearful of the verdict. He feared 
Hardmuth's effect upon the jury when he should 
come to his argument. Furthermore, there was added 
to Hardmuth's personal strength the momentum of 

1 88 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

an increasing position in the public opinion; he was 
realizing Brookfield's predictions of success in politics. 
He was not only a district attorney by appointment, 
but he was the man most generally discussed as his 
party's nomination for governor. A murder trial is 
a contest in which every factor weighs, and none more 
than the importance of attorneys. 

The Justice's fears quickly communicated them 
selves to Brookfield. If these various considerations 
in Hardmuth's personal favor, as well as the facts in 
the case itself, were to weigh with the jury, it was 
plainly Brookfield's duty to reduce Hardmuth's popu 
larity at any cost. 

Clay's life was at stake. 

"I've tried to fight in the open, Mr. Justice, and to 
stoop to nothing for which any of us might be ashamed 
hereafter, or I could have crushed that fellow Hard- 
muth ere this," Jack said. 

"Crushed him?" 

"As easily as you'd crush a beetle by treading 
on it." 

"But if, as you say, the means were unfair " 

"Only as telling on a fellow is unfair when you 
know something that's against him." 

"Something told you in confidence?" 

"Not by him. Yes, sir it would have crushed 
Hardmuth if I'd printed what I know of him, and as 
a citizen I believe I owe it to the public to tell it. I'm 
sorry I have put it off until too late." 

"Is it too late, Mr. Brookfield? He hasn't begun 
his concluding speech. What is the nature of your 
charge against him?" 

189 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Brookfield looked at his watch. 

" It may be a kindness to you, Mr. Justice, to leave 
you entirely out of this. Did you come back in the 
automobile ?" 

"Yes; it's at the door." 

"I'm going to be rude enough to ask you to find 
your own way to your hotel." 

" No rudeness whatever, Mr. Brookfield. I see that 
your time is valuable." 

Brookfield ran hurriedly down-stairs, taking from 
the rack as he passed it his overcoat and hat. As he 
slammed the door of the limousine, he said to the 
chauffeur : 

' ' The Courier- Journal /' ' 



XIII 

TT was night. Brookfield sat alone in his library 
1 deeply enveloped in thought. The only illumina 
tion in the room was from the fireplace and a small 
lamp on one of the side -tables. The old darky, 
Uncle Harvey, entered apologetically. 

"Marse Jack?" 

" Well, Uncle Harvey ?" Brookfield looked at him. 

" 'Scuse me, suh, when you wants to be alone, but 
I'se awful anxious myself. Is dey any word from 
the co't-house?" 

"None, Uncle Harvey." 

"'Cause Jo said Missus Campbell had done come 
in, an' I thought she'd been to the trial, you know." 

" She has." An earnestness came into Brookfield's 
manner. "You're not keeping anything from me, 
Uncle Harvey?" 

"'Deed no, suh. An' I jes' like to ask you, Marse 
Jack, if I'd better have de cook fix sompun to eat 
maybe de other ladies comin', too?" 

"Yes, Uncle Harvey; but whether they'll want to 
eat or not will depend on what word comes back from 
that jury." 

"Yes, suh." 

Uncle Harvey left Brookfield moodily pacing the 
floor. The report of his sister's return and her fail- 

191 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ure to come to him were disturbing. He had about 
determined to go in search of her when Mrs. Campbell 
entered the room. 

"Jack!" she said, in a tone of mingled astonish 
ment and reproof. 

"Well?" 

"Why are you here?" 

" Well " Brookfield hesitated" I live here." Full 
seriousness was wellnigh impossible to Jack in most 
conversations with his sister. 

"But I thought you'd gone to Helen and Viola," 
Mrs. Campbell rebuked him. 

"No." 

"You should do so. Think of them alone when 
that jury returns, as it may at any moment, with 
its verdict." 

"The lawyers are there, and Lew Ellinger is with 
them." 

" But Helen Helen needs you." 

" I may be useful here." 

"How?" 

"There's one man on that jury that I think is a 
friend." 

"One man?" 

"Yes." 

" Out of a jury of twelve." 

"One man can stop the other eleven from bring 
ing in an adverse verdict, and this one is with 
us." 

"Would your going to Helen 'and Viola in the 
court-house stop his being with us?" The tone was 
a trifle acrimonious. 

192 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Perhaps not," Jack answered, tranquilly, "but it 
would stop my being with him." 

"What!" Mrs, Campbell looked about the room in 
a possible search for the juror. " I don't understand 
you." 

"Justice Prentice told me," Jack explained, im 
pressively, "that he could sit in his room and make 
another man get up and walk to the telephone and 
call him by simply thinking steadily of that other 
man." 

"Superstitious people imagine anything," Mrs. 
Campbell commented, scoffingly. 

"Imagine much yes; but this isn't imagination." 

"It's worse, Jack; I call it spiritualism." It would 
be difficult to get more disapproval into a single 
speech than Mrs. Campbell's tone and manner crowd 
ed into this. 

" Call it anything you like," Jack answered, placidly: 
" spiritualism or socialism or rheumatism it's there. 
I know nothing about it scientifically, but I've tried 
it on and it works, my dear Alice it works." 

"You've tried it on?" 

"Yes." 

"With whom?" 

"With you." Jack sat Mrs. Campbell gasped. 
Some unwarrantable liberty had been taken with her 
personal rights. The pause that followed her gasp 
was ineffective because her attention was divided be 
tween inquiry and inventory. Curiosity triumphed 
as she said, interrogatively: 

" I don't know it if you have ?" 

" That is one phase of its terrible subtlety." 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"When did you try it on?" 

"That night a month ago when you rapped at my 
door at two o'clock in the morning and asked if I was 
ill in any way?" 

" I was simply nervous about you," Mrs. Campbell 
spluttered, defensively. 

"Call it 'nervousness' if you wish to, but that was 
an experiment of mine a simple experiment." 

"Oh!" Indignation and incredulity commingled 
in the single note. 

"Two Sundays ago," Brookfield continued, "you 
went right up to the church door, hesitated, and 
turned home again." 

" Lots of people do that " 

" I don't ask you to take stock in it, but that was 
another experiment of mine. The thing appeals to 
me. I can't help Helen by being at the court-house, 
but, as I'm alive [and my name's Jack Brookfield, I 
do believe that my thought reaches that particular 
juryman." 

" That's lunacy, Jack, dear." Mrs. Campbell began 
commiserating her brother. 

"Well, call it 'lunacy' I don't insist on rheuma 
tism." 

" Oh, Jack, the boy's life is in the balance. Bitter, 
vindictive lawyers are prosecuting him, and I don't 
like my big, strong brother, who used to meet men and 
all danger face to face, treating the situation with 
silly mind-cure methods hidden alone in his rooms." 
Mrs. Campbell, with an embracing gesture, made an 
exhibit of Brookfield and his surroundings. " I don't 
like it!" 

194 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"You can't acquit a boy of murder by having a 
strong brother thrash somebody in the court-room. 
If there was anything under the sun I could do with 
my physical strength I'd do it, but there isn't. Now, 
why not, if I believe I can influence a juryman by my 
thought why not try?" 

His sister turned from him with a sigh of hopeless 
ness as Jo entered from the hallway. Jo's manner 
was agitated. 

"Well?" Brookfield inquired, sharply. 

"Mistah Hardmuth." 

"Frank Hardmuth!" Mrs. Campbell exclaimed, in 
her astonishment. 

"Yes'm," Jo assented. 

"Here's one of the 'bitter, vindictive' men you 
want me to meet face to face. Now, my dear Alice, 
you stay here while I go and do it." 

Mrs. Campbell's protest was prevented by the 
abrupt entrance of Hardmuth. 

"Excuse me," he shouted, "but I can't wait in an 
anteroom!" 

" That will do, Jo," Brookfield said to the boy. 

"I want to see you alone," Hardmuth continued, 
threateningly. His nod toward Mrs. Campbell con 
veyed his objection to her presence. 

"Yes," Brookfield replied to the unspoken ques 
tion of his sister. He led her tenderly toward the 
door. 

" What do you think it is ?" she gasped, in suppressed 
anxiety. 

" Nothing to worry over," Brookfield answered, re 
assuringly, as she left the room. 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Jack Brookfield " Hardmuth began. 

"Well?" 

" I've just seen Harvey Fisher, of the Courier. , n 

"Yes?" 

"He says you've hinted at something associating 
me with the shooting of Scovil." 

"Right!" 

"What do you mean?" Hardmuth 's angry explo 
sion carried all the threat that was possible. 

" I mean, Frank Hardmuth," Jack answered, in that 
deliberate calm which most of his masculine acquaint 
ances had come to correctly estimate " I mean that 
you sha'n't hound this boy to the gallows without 
reckoning with me and the things I know of you." 

"I'm doing my duty as a prosecuting attorney." 

"You are," interrupted Brookfield, "and a great 
deal more you're venting a personal hatred." 

"That hasn't anything to do with this insinuation 
that you've handed to a newspaper man, an insinu 
ation for which anybody ought to kill you." 

"I don't deal in 'insinuations/ It was a charge." 

"A statement?" 

"A charge! You understand English a specific 
and categorical charge." Brookfield's tone was rising. 

"That I knew Scovil was to be shot?" 

" That you knew it ? No !" The voice was rasping 
with contempt. "That you planned it and arranged 
it and procured his assassination." 

The courage and character of Brookfield's answer 
benumbed Hardmuth for the moment. When he 
spoke at last the words came slowly and quietly, and 
rang with vibrant passion. 

196 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

" If the newspapers print that, I'll kill you, damn 
you I'll kill you!" The finish of the threat was in a 
whisper. Hardmuth's clinched fist shook in Brook- 
field's face. 

" I don't doubt your willingness," came the metallic 
reply; " and they will print it, if they haven't done so 
already." 

Tlje insult implied in Hardmuth's belief that to 
threaten his life would compel him to retract what he 
had said stung Brookfield like a blow on the cheek. 
His splendid self-control deserted him for the moment 
just long enough to lend increasing power to the 
rest of his reply. 

"And if they don't print it by God, I'll print it 
myself and paste it on the fences!" 

Hardmuth's nerve was shaken. 

"What have I ever done to you, Jack Brookfield, 
except to be your friend ?" he almost whined. 

" You've been much too friendly. With this mur 
der on your conscience you proposed to take to your 
self as wife my niece, dear to me as my life. As re 
venge for her refusal and mine, you've persecuted 
through two trials the boy she loves and the son of 
the woman whose thought regulates the pulse of my 
heart an innocent, unfortunate boy. In your am 
bition you've reached out to be the governor of this 
State, and an honored political party is seriously con 
sidering you for that office to-day." 

"That Scovil story is a lie, a political lie! I think 
you mean to be honest, Jack Brookfield, but some 
body's strung you." Hardmuth turned away. 

" Wait," Brookfield commanded. " The man that's 

197 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

now hiding in Indiana, a fugitive from your feeble 
efforts at extradition, sat up-stairs drunk and des 
perate, his last dollar on a case card. I pitied him. 
If a priest had been there he couldn't have purged his 
soul cleaner than poor Raynor gave it to me. If he 
put me on, am I strung?" 

"Yes, you are," Hardmuth blustered. "I can't 
tell you why, because this jury is out and may come 
in any moment, and I've got to be there. But I can 
square it so help me God, I can square it!" 

"You'll have to square it." 

Mrs. Campbell came in just then, and behind her 
Justice Prentice, a folded newspaper in one hand. 

"Excuse me." Prentice apologized for the ab 
ruptness of his entrance. 

Hardmuth bowed to him respectfully. "Oh, Jus 
tice Prentice!" 

There was a moment's awkward hesitation before 
Brookfield said, with some conciliation: 

"The State's attorney Mr. Hardmuth." 

"I recognize Mr. Hardmuth," Prentice answered, 
with dignity. "I don't salute him because I resent 
his disrespectful treatment of myself during his cross- 
examination." 

"Entirely within my rights as a lawyer, and " 

" Entirely," Prentice interrupted ; " and never within 
the opportunities of a gentleman." 

"Your side foresaw the powerful effect on a local 
jury of any testimony by a member of the Supreme 
Court, and my wish to break that ' 

"Was quite apparent, sir, quite apparent," Pren 
tice answered. " But the testimony of every man is 

198 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

entitled to just such weight and consideration as that 
man's character commends. But it is not that dis 
respect which I resent. I am an old man; that I 
am unmarried, childless, without a son to inherit the 
vigor that time has reclaimed, is due to a sentiment 
that you endeavored to ridicule, Mr. Hardmuth a 
sentiment which would have been sacred in the hands 
of any true Kentuckian, which I am glad to hear you 
are not." 

As Hardmuth began a reply, Brookfield interposed: 
"That's all!" 

"Perhaps not," the prosecutor said, threateningly, 
as he left the room. 

"My dear Mr. Brookfield," Prentice hastened to 
say as soon as they were freed from Hardmuth's 
presence, " that man certainly hasn't seen this news 
paper?" 

"No, but he knows it's coming." 

" When I urged you as a citizen to tell anything you 
knew of the man, I hadn't expected a capital charge." 

"What is it, Jack?" Mrs. Campbell asked, in alarm. 
"What have you said?" 

"All in the head-lines," Jack explained, quietly; 
"read it." He handed the paper to his sister, and 
turned again to the Justice with the question: 

"Is that enough for your purpose, Mr. Justice?" 

"Why, I never dreamed of an attack of that mag 
nitude. Enough!" 

Mrs. Campbell exclaimed in an agony of alarm: 

"Why why did you do this, Jack?" 

" Because I'm your big, strong brother and I had 
the information." 

199 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"It was necessary, Mrs. Campbell necessary," 
Prentice added, also assuming Brookfield's calm. 

"Why necessary?" 

"My poor sister, you don't think. If that jury 
brings in a verdict of guilty, what then?" 

"What then? I don't know" 

"An appeal to the Governor for clemency." 

"Well?" Mrs. Campbell prompted. 

"This Governor may not grant it," Prentice ex 
plained. 

"Well?" 

"Then we delay things until a new governor comes 
in," Jack answered. " But suppose that new gov 
ernor is Hardmuth himself?" 

"How can the new governor be Hardmuth?" 

"Nothing can stop it if he gets the nomination," 
the Justice replied, "and the convention is in session 
at Frankfort to-day, with Mr. Hardmuth's name in 
the lead." 

"I've served that notice on them " Brookfield in 
dicated the paper " and they won't dare nominate 
him that is, I think they won't." 

"But to charge him with murder!" Mrs. Campbell 
protested. 

"The only thing to consider there," Prentice said 
to Brookfield, "is have you your facts?" 

"I have." 

" Then it was a duty, and you chose the psycholog 
ical moment for its performance. ' With what meas 
ure you mete, it shall be measured to you again."' 
The Justice turned to his agitated hostess. " I have 
pity for the man whom that paper crushes, but I 

200 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

have greater pity for the boy he is trying to have 
hanged. You know, Mrs. Campbell, that young 
Whipple is the grandson of an old friend of mine." 

"Yes, Mr. Justice, I know that." Mrs. Campbell's 
answer unconsciously fell into the tender tone of the 
Justice. 

Jo's hurried entrance and his cry, "Marse Jack!" 
startled the occupants of the room. Mrs. Campbell, 
womanlike, feared the return of Hardmuth; Jack 
thought some bad news had come from the trial. 
The appearance of Helen and Viola, who followed Jo, 
did not momentarily dissipate this belief. 

"Oh, Jack!" Helen exclaimed. She staggered, and 
only Jack's arms prevented her from falling. 

"What is it?" he asked. 

Viola, who was holding the hand of her mother, 
answered: "The jury returned and asked for instruc 
tions." 

"Well?" 

"There's a recess for an hour," Helen found voice 
to say. She looked toward Viola, who continued the 
explanation. 

"The Court wished them locked up for the night, 
but the foreman said the jurymen were all anxious 
to get to their homes, and that he felt an agreement 
could be reached in an hour." 

The reassuring voice of Prentice broke in upon 
their mental turmoil. "Did he use exactly those 
words 'to their homes'?" 

"'To their homes' yes." 

"There you are," Prentice smiled to Jack. 

"What is it, Jack?" Helen inquired, looking into 

201 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Brookfield's face for the answer. Brookfield, per 
plexed, shook his head and turned to the Justice. 

"Men with vengeance or severity in their hearts," 
the old jurist commented, "would hardly say they 
were anxious to get to their homes. They say, in that 
case, the jury is anxious to get away, or to finish its 
work." 

"Oh, Mr. Justice, you pin hope upon such slight 
things!" Helen sank into a chair. Prentice put one 
hand over hers in his paternal manner. 

"That is what hope is for, my dear Mrs. Whipple 
the frail chances of this life." 

Viola, who had gone to Helen's side, turned to 
Brookfield. "And now, Uncle Jack, Mrs. Whipple 
ought to have a cup of tea and something to eat." 

"Oh, I couldn't," Helen pleaded; "we must go 
back at once." 

"Well, I could. I I must," the young girl said 
to the group. 

"Yes, you must both of you," Mrs. Campbell 
urged. 

Helen shook her head, again refusing, at which 
Viola asked : " You don't think it's heartless, do you ?" 

"You dear child!" Helen put her arms about the 
girl whose sympathy and companionship had been 
the most unwavering element in her own strength for 
more than a year. She kissed her tenderly and gave 
her to Mrs. Campbell, who led her from the library 
and into the dining-room, where Uncle Harvey had 
arranged refreshments. 

"And now courage, my dear Helen," Jack com 
forted; "it's almost over." 

202 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

" Oh, Jack, at the other trial the jury delayed just 
this way!" 

"Upon what point, Mrs. Whipple, did the jury ask 
instructions?" Prentice inquired. 

"Degree." 

"And the Court?" 

"Oh, Jack," Helen said, in returning terror, to 
Brookfield, "the Judge answered: 'Guilty in the first 
degree or not guilty." 

"That all helps us," Prentice said. 

"It does?" 

Helen's answer from the Justice was a nod and one 
of his confident and reposeful smiles. 

"Who spoke for the jury?" Brookfield inquired. 

"The foreman, and one other juryman asked a 
question." 

"Was it the man in the fourth chair, first row?" 

"Yes," Helen replied. 

Jack heaved a sigh of relief. 

"Why?" pursued Helen. 

" I think he's a friend, that's all." But there was 
something in the calm of Brookfield's manner imply 
ing more than his words expressed. There was also 
a significant interchange of looks between the old 
Justice and himself. 

"Oh, Jack," Helen said, helplessly, "I should die 
if it weren't for your courage!" She rose from the 
sofa where she had half fallen when Viola left her and 
came toward Jack. Brookfield took both her out 
stretched hands. "You won't get tired of it," she 
pleaded, " will you, and forsake my poor boy and me ?" 

"What do you think?" 
14 203 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"All our lawyers are kindness itself; but you, Jack 
you somehow " 

Viola returned from the dining-room, holding in her 
hand a crumpled note of blue paper. 

" Oh, Uncle Jack, here's a note our lawyer asked 
me to give to you! I forgot it until this minute." 

"Thank you." Jack took the note. 

"Please try a cup of tea," Viola urged; but Helen 
absent-mindedly pushed the girl away, her own at 
tention anxiously riveted on Brookfield, who was 
reading the note under the hooded electrolier which 
he had turned on for the purpose. Viola returned to 
her mother in the dining-room. Brookfield finished 
the note, and handed it significantly to Prentice. 

"What is it, Jack?" Helen asked. "Are they 
afraid?" 

" It's not about the trial at all." 

"Really?" 

"Yes." 

"Why don't you show it to me, then?" 

" I will if my keeping it gives you so much alarm 
as that." 

Jack took the note from the Justice, who had read 
it, and turned to Helen. "Colonel Bailey says: 

" ' DEAR JACK, I've seen the paper. Hardmuth will shoot 
on sight."! 

"Oh, Jack if anything should happen to you!" 
"Anything is quite as likely to happen to Mr. 
Hardmuth." Jack took both her hands in the cover 
ing, protective manner that had become habitual with 
him toward Helen since the tragedy. 

204 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"But not even that. My boy has killed a man, 
and you, Jack you well, you just mustn't let it 
happen that's all." 

The appeal in her trembling whisper, the moisture 
in her eyes as she looked up at him, was the most 
satisfying answer that Brookfield had had during all 
these months to his question asked on the night of 
the opera asked in the same room, and beside the 
table where they were now standing. 

" I mustn't let it happen because ?" Jack waited. 

"Because I couldn't bear it." 

Jack bent over one of the hands he was holding and 
kissed it. 



XIV 

HPHE old Justice was scanning the titles of the 
1 Editions de luxe in their glass cases. Mrs. Camp 
bell, with characteristic matter-of-fact ness, bustled in 
from the dining-room. 

"What was the letter, Jack?" 

Brookfield, still holding Helen's hand, led her tow 
ard the dining-room. He mechanically handed the 
lawyer's note to his sister as he passed her, saying 
to Helen: "And now I'll agree to do the best I can 
for Mr. Hardmuth if you'll take a cup of tea and a 
biscuit." 

"There isn't time," Helen protested. 

" There's plenty of time if the adjournment was for 
an hour." 

"Jack!" Mrs. Campbell cried, explosively, the blue 
letter fluttering at arm's-length. 

Brookfield turned, startled at the suddenness of the 
outcry, and, divining its cause, he implored: "Just 
one minute." Then gently yet firmly said to Helen: 
"Go, please." 

Helen joined Viola in the dining-room. 

" He threatens your life!" exclaimed Mrs. Campbell, 
interpreting the letter for him. 

" Not exactly," Brookfield answered; " simply Colo 
nel Bailey's opinion that he will shoot on sight." 

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THE WITCHING HOUR 

" Oh " Mrs. Campbell stamped her foot and turn 
ed impatiently to the Justice for understanding and 
appreciation. 

"There is a difference, you know," Brookfield con 
tinued, "my dear sister " 

The entrance of Jo interrupted him. 

"Well?" 

"Mr. Ellinger, suh." 

Lew came briskly into the room, in his hand a news 
paper open and displayed. 

"Hello, Jack!" 

"Well, Lew!" 

" Why, that's the damnedest thing " Then, as he 
saw Mrs. Campbell, Lew apologized. "I beg your 
pardon." 

"Don't, please," the lady answered: "some manly 
emphasis is a real comfort, Mr. Ellinger." 

Lew bustled busily over to Brookfield. 

"That charge of yours against Hardmuth is raisin' 
more he he high feelin' than anything that ever 
happened!" 

"I saw the paper." 

" You didn't see this it's an extra." And Lew be 
gan to read, standing under the electrolier that Brook- 
field had turned on for Colonel Bailey's letter. He 
read, following the thrilling head-lines with his fore 
finger, and looking over his glasses into Jack's face as 
he pointed to the more sensational lines: " ' The Charge 
Read to the Convention in Night Session at Frankfort 
Bill Glover Hits Jim Macey on the Nose Devoe, of 
Carter County, Takes Jim's Gun Away from Him The 
Delegation from Butler Get Down on Their Stomachs 

207 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

and Crawl Under the Benches Some Statesmen Go 
Through the Windows Convention Takes Recess Till 
Morning Local Sheriff Swearin' in Deputies to Keep 
Peace in the Bar-rooms.'" Lew let the paper fall to 
his side and said, ominously, to Jack: "That's all 
you've done." 

"Good," said Brookfield; and then, with a note of 
triumph, he added: "They can't nominate Mr. Hard- 
muth now." 

Lew turned to Mrs. Campbell. "I've been hedgin' 
I told the fellows I'd bet Jack hadn't said it." 

"Yes, I did say it," corrected Jack. 

"In just those words?" Lew again spread the 
paper under the electric light and read: "'The poor 
fellow who crouched back of a window-sill and shot 
Kentucky's governor-elect deserves hanging less than 
the man whom he is shielding the man who laid the 
plot of assassination, the present prosecuting attorney 
by appointment Frank Allison Hardmuth. ' Did you 
say that?" 

" Lew, that there might be no mistake, I wrote it!" 
And Brookfield brought his hand down with emphasis 
upon Lew's shoulder. Ellinger emitted a long whistle 
of prophetic consternation. Brookfield turned off the 
electrolier, and the light in the room fell to its usual 
volume. 

When Ellinger could pull himself together after 
his astonishment he inquired : 

"Is it straight?" 

"Yes." 

" He was in the plot to kill the governor-elect ?" 

"He organized it." 

208 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Well, what do you think of that?" Lew asked of 
the surrounding atmosphere. " And now he's running 
for governor himself a murderer!" 

"Yes." 

"And for six months he's been houndin' every 
fellow in Louisville that sat down to a game of cards!" 
Lew crossed to the Justice and in a confidential under 
tone complained: "The damned rascal's nearly put 
me in the poor-house." 

"Poor old Lew," Jack laughed. 

" Why, before I could go to that court-house to-day," 
Ellinger continued, "I had to take a pair of scissors 
that I used to cut coupons with and trim the whiskers 
off my shirt-cuffs." The deep indignity of this ca 
lamity as he recalled it turned the old sport toward 
Brookfield with something of resentment. " How long 
have you known this?" 

"Ever since the fact." 

"Why do you spring it only now?" 

"Because until now I lacked the character and 
moral courage. I 'spring it' now by the advice of 
Justice Prentice, to reach that convention at Frank 
fort." 

"Well, you reached them." 

"The convention was only a secondary consid 
eration with me," Justice Prentice said; "my real 
objective was this jury with whom Mr. Hardmuth 
seemed so powerful." 

"Reach the jury?" Lew asked, not believing that 
he had heard correctly. 

"The jury!" Jack exclaimed, in a burst of en 
thusiasm. Suddenly he grasped the significance of 

209 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

the fact in the light of his new philosophy. "Why, 
of course the entire jury; and I was hoping hoping 
for one man why, Alice " 

"Why, they don't see the papers," Lew interrupt 
ed; "the jury won't get a line of this." 

"I think they will." 

"You got 'em fixed?" 

"Fixed? No!" Brookfield resented the question 
as positively as he denied the fact. 

"Then how will they see it?" 

"How many people in Louisville have already 
read that charge as you have read it?" Prentice 
asked. 

"Thirty thousand, maybe, but " 

"And five hundred thousand in the little cities and 
the towns. Do you think, Mr. Ellinger, that all those 
minds can be at white-heat over that knowledge, and 
none of it reach the thought of those twelve men? 
Ah, no." 

"To half a million good Kentuckians to-night 
Frank Hardmuth is a detestable thing," Jack con 
tinued, in the same strain, "and that jury's faith in 
him is dead." 

Ellinger blinked in helpless confusion. He tried to 
grasp the idea, but all he could say was: "Why, Jack, 
old man, you're dippy!" 

"Then, Mr. Ellinger, I am ' dippy ' too," the Justice 
tice added. 

"Why, do you think the jury gets the public opin 
ion without anybody tellin' them or their reading it ?" 
Lew asked, impatiently. 

"Yes. In every widely discussed trial the defend- 

210 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

ant is tried not alone by his twelve peers, but by the 
entire community." 

"Why, blast it, the community goes by what the 
newspapers say!" Lew's good-nature was almost ex 
hausted. 

"That is often the regrettable part of it," Prentice 
admitted, "but the fact remains." 

Brookfield stood silent in rapt admiration of the 
method of the Justice. If there was a uniform law, 
and he believed that he had demonstrated its exist 
ence, by which the active and aggressive thinking of 
one mind could affect another, and if the intensity 
of this effect increased as the battery of minds was 
strengthened by additional numbers, Brookfield be 
lieved that at the instigation of Prentice he had in 
voked this law at the most crucial moment of his 
existence, and had applied it in the most direct way 
possible. The value of their act grew in his estima 
tion when he recalled his reading on the psychology 
of panics, of religious revivals and sentimental cru 
sades which move like prairie-fires in their rapid com 
munication between the units of a crowd. Despite 
the incredulity of Ellinger and his sister, Brookfield 
felt an unbounded hope in the force he had set in 
motion, and which at that very moment was moving 
with cumulative momentum upon the twelve men 
sitting in deliberative conference in the jury-room at 
the court-house. He clapped his hands, and turned to 
the Justice enthusiastically. 

"And that is why you asked me to expose Frank 
Hardmuth?" 

"Yes." 

211 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Jack took Mrs. Campbell's arm and started for the 
dining-room to communicate his new hope to Helen. 
He was arrested by Ellinger's comment: 

"Well, the public will think you did it because he 
closed your game." 

"Hardmuth didn't close my game." 

"Who did?" 

"This man." Jack, with deference and affection, 
pointed to the Justice. 

Prentice bowed. 

"Well, how the he er Heaven's name did he 
close it?" 

"He gave my self-respect a slap on the back, Lew, 
and I stood up." 

Brookfield and his sister left the room. Lew fol 
lowed slowly to the doorway, hoping for some greater 
light to be shed upon the question. As illumination 
failed he turned to the Justice and expressed his 
mental condition in a single favorite expletive: 

"Stung!" 

The Justice was sufficiently familiar with the slang 
of the period to be amused by Lew's laconic summary. 
His smile gave Lew courage for some critical vent. 

"So you are responsible for these new ideas of 
Jack's?" 

"In a measure," the Justice answered, as he took 
a chair. ' ' Have the ideas apparently hurt Mr. Brook- 
field?" 

"They've put him out of business that's all." 
Ellinger endeavored to conceal a sneer. * 

"Which business?" 

"Why, this house of his." Lew's hands involun- 

212 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

tarily trembled in the veriest descriptive sketch of a 
deal as he nodded to the floor above, where the 
gambling paraphernalia had formerly been. 

"I see," said Prentice, comprehending. "But his 
new ideas don't you like them, Mr. Ellinger?" 

"I like Jack Brookfield, love him like a brother, 
but I don't want even a brother askin' me if I'm sure 
I've thought it over when I start in to take the halter 
off for a pleasant evening. You get my idea ?" 

"I begin to," Prentice confessed, trying to hide his 
amusement. 

"In other words," continued Lew, "I don't want 
to take my remorse first it dampens the fun. The 
other day a lady at the races said, 'We've missed you, 
Mr. Ellinger,' and I said: 'Have you? Well, I'll be 
up this evening.' ' A smile came over the old sport's 
face, and a new light crept into it that explained to 
Prentice's quick comprehension Lew's reputed popu 
larity and the propriety of the ever-present pink in 
the button-hole. "And I'm pressing her hand and 
hanging onto it till I'm afraid I'll get the carriage 
grease on my coat, feelin' only about thirty- two, you 
know." He didn't look much older as he threw back 
his lapels. "Then I turn round and Jack has those 
sleepy lamps on me and bla!" Lew threw out his 
hands and let them fall inertly. His knees sagged 
under him, and with one pirouette he sank into the 
sofa like an old fighter on the ropes. 

"And you don't go?" Prentice concluded, when he 
could command his gravity. 

"I do go, as a matter of self-respect." Lew sat up, 
full of resentful dignity. "But I don't make a hit. 

213 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

I'm thinking so much more about those morality 
ideas of Jack's than I am about the lady that it 
cramps my style, and we never get past the weather 
and ' When did you hear from so and so ?'" Lew rose 
from the sofa, disgusted with the memory of the in 
effectual evening and the new ideas that had made 
it possible. "I want to reform, all right I believe in 
reform ; but first I want to have the fun of fallin', and 
fallin' hard." 

Jo's voice was heard in the hallway; it was as full 
of alarm as if he had encountered a ghost. It rang 
through the library and echoed in the dining-room, 
where the startled hearers could scarcely believe the 
import of its cry. 

"'Fore God, Marse Clay!" And then Clay's voice 
resounded in almost equal clearness in a hurry of 
words, from the confusion of which his mother's name 
might be distinguished. Mrs. Campbell was the first 
to enter the library. 

"Why, that's Clay!" she exclaimed. 

"It's the boy!" announced Lew. 

"His mother!" fearfully breathed Mrs. Campbell. 
She faltered in an impulse to turn back toward Helen, 
but Clay was already in the library and in Mrs. Camp 
bell's embrace as Prentice simultaneously said : " Ac 
quittal." 

Brookfield took one step into the dining-room, and 
was just in time to support Helen. 

"My boy!" Helen cried. She tottered toward 
him. 

Clay sobbed "Mother!" and sank to his knees, his 
face buried in her gown. The joy of his release found 

214 



vent in tears as there came over him a surging real 
ization of the suffering he had caused. 

Helen swayed, and 'would have fallen but for Jack's 
strong arm. With a sharp grip of the shoulder he 
said, in stimulating severity: 

"He's free, Helen; he's free!" 

"Yes, mother, I'm free!" Clay rose to his feet, 
his arms about his mother. 

Helen's face sank on his breast. There was a 
hushed silence, in which the members of the party 
heard her sobbing whisper: "My boy! my boy!" 

Jack left them and crossed the room, greeting 
Colonel Bailey, who had accompanied Clay to the 
house and now followed him into the room. Helen, 
roused by the stir about her, looked up and be 
yond her son to where Viola was standing by Mrs. 
Campbell, her fingers locked in a joy almost as in 
tense and inarticulate as Helen's. The mother gen 
erously turned Clay's face and pointed to the girl. 

"Viola, my brave sweetheart!" Clay whispered, as 
he took her in his arms. 

"Is it really over?" Viola asked. 

"Yes." 

Jack was shaking Colonel Bailey's hand. 

"It's a great victory, Colonel. If ever a lawyer 
made a good fight for a man's life, you did. Helen, 
Viola you must want to shake this man's hand." 

Viola, who was nearest, took the hand of the at 
torney as she met him. 

"I could have thrown my arms around you when 
you made that speech." 

The old cavalier shook his head gallantly. "Too 

215 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

many young fellows crowding into the profession as 
it is." 

The lawyer passed on to Helen, who said: "Life 
must be sweet to a man who can do so much good as 
you do." 

"I couldn't stand it, you know," Bailey bantered, 
defensively, "if it wasn't that my ability works both 
ways." 

" Marse Clay!" It was the trembling voice of Uncle 
Harvey, who, finding his dining-room deserted, had 
come into the library. 

"Harvey! Why, dear old Harvey!" 

Clay took him by both hands. The old darky 
proceeded to pat him on arms and shoulders, to be 
doubly sure that the boy was really back. 

" Yes, suh yes, suh could you eat anything, 
Marse Clay?" 

"Eat anything!" laughed the boy. "Why, I'm 
starving, Uncle Harvey!" 

" Yes, suh." The old man capered from the 
room. 

"But you come with me," said Clay to his mother 
and Viola. 

"My boy, Colonel," Helen apologized, as she left 
the room with Clay, taking Viola with her. 

Bailey and Mrs. Campbell followed. Ellinger, who 
was the last of the procession to quit Brookfield and 
Prentice, said, as he left the room: 

"Well, I don't believe I could eat anything but I 
suppose there'll be something else." 

Brookfield took from the table the threatening let 
ter of Hardmuth. 

216 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Justice Prentice," he said, "I shall never doubt 
you again." 

"Mr. Brookfield," the Justice answered, impressive 
ly, "never doubt yourself." 

Brookfield 's hand was above his head in touch 
with the button of the electrolier. There was 
the sound of rushing footsteps in the hallway. 
Hardmuth, livid of countenance, dashed into the 
room. 

"You think you'll send me to the gallows; but, 
damn you, you go first!" 

Both hands were struggling to free from his over 
coat-pocket a double-barrelled derringer that had 
caught in the lining. The weapon was freed; there 
was the double click of the hammer as Hardmuth 
pushed it against Brookfield's body. 

"Stop!" As if released by Brookfield's word 
the full light of the electrolier fell into Hardmuth's 
eyes. 

Behind Brookfield one hand of the old Justice point 
ed at Hardmuth in silent but riveting command. 
Hardmuth's thought seemed to desert him. He felt 
in his face the glare of the light; he saw Brook- 
field's eyes, like two burning coals from which it 
was impossible to take his gaze. Behind Brook- 
field, in the circle of half-light, he felt rather than 
saw the eyes of Prentice. Through a haze of con 
sciousness he heard Brookfield's level monotone 
slow, compelling: 

" You can't use that gun you can't pull the trig 
ger you can't even hold the gun!" 

Hardmuth heard the sound of the derringer as it 

217 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

dropped from his inert grasp and struck the floor. 
And then again the voice of Brookfield : 

"Now, Frank, you may go." 

Hardmuth felt as one waking from a dream. In 
an awed and throaty whisper he said: "I'd like to 
know how in hell you did that to me!" 



XV 

"\ \ 7 HEN Hardmuth reached the street the newsboys, 
V V who came as far south as Brookfield's only on 
extraordinary occasions, were crying the extras, with 
the report of Whipple's acquittal and the discovery of 
the Scovil murderer. 

Hardmuth's impulse was flight. 

He remembered that he had often commented on 
the lack of intelligence shown by criminals in flight. 
It had been easy to reconstruct the route of a fugitive 
from the report of his mistakes in the paper, or to 
show how he had lost time that had been fatal to him 
by aimlessly doubling on his tracks or stupidly hid 
ing where his pursuers would most naturally search 
for him. 

His great need consequently, he reasoned, was for 
a few minutes' calm reflection: if only he could have 
half an hour in his own room he was certain he could 
plan a means of escape from the arrest that was doubt 
less now under way ; but he dared not go to his room. 
This must have been clear to his subconscious mind 
from the first as an instinct had guided his steps before 
his reason approved it, for he found himself walking 
swiftly away from the heart of the town. The night 
was bitter cold; few pedestrians were out. Hard 
muth's direction would soon take him from the city, 
is 219 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

but it would also take him into the State. His hope 
lay in reaching Indiana. 

If he could only get some perspective upon himself. 
How would he advise another in his situation who 
might come to him for counsel ? As he revolved this 
question in his mind the two voices of his subjective 
and objective self entered into debate: 

" What are you going to do ? Don't let this rattle 
you brace up and answer me." 

"Do? I don't know. What do you advise me to do ?" 

"Get under cover keep still for a day or two. 
Brookfield has probably telephoned headquarters be 
fore this that you're running away, and the police 
are watching every bridge and highway." 

Hardmuth had been walking south. He turned 
east over Ormsby Street and into Bainbridge. On 
that side of Louisville there lies a little chain of grave 
yards (St. Michael's, St. Louis, and Cave Hill), sepa 
rated from one another by only a few blocks. At the 
end of an hour's walk Hardmuth was skirting the 
outside of Cave Hill Cemetery, the last of the chain, 
and coming into the district of railroad tracks. Sud 
denly he pulled up this was commonplace and stupid. 
He was treading the very ground where he himself, 
in the discharge of his duty, would have directed the 
police to search for some besotted heeler who might 
have killed his sweetheart in a drunken jealousy! 

Could he, in his emergency, do nothing original? 
Was there a stencil for the plans of the criminal? 
Probably all men tired and cold and hungry and 
hunted were much alike. 

He had had no dinner. The day and evening had 

220 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

been filled with exciting events. The reaction from 
the rush of murderous fury, checked only at the last 
moment when about to vent its hate, had left him 
weary. Strange how Brookfield did that! Some 
unusual shock something he could not account for 
in his experience had stayed his hand when Brook- 
field turned on that light and those two pairs of glow 
ing eyes had burned into his brain. He almost reeled 
at the thought of it, and his hand instinctively went 
up to his eyes, as if he would shut out the sight. He 
pulled himself together and laughed aloud at his 
weakness. At this rate his strength and endurance 
would soon run out, and some patrolman would find 
him on the pavement before morning. He resolved 
to go to one of the cheaper hotels near the river, and 
take the small chance of recognition. He would have 
food and three or four stiff drinks, which, God knew, 
he needed. He would have a bed and a chance to 
sleep, and sleep late; and then, if they hadn't found 
him, he could wait until night again, when he might 
look up some friends whose interest it would be to 
assist him. 

As he reached this decision he found himself cross 
ing Jackson Street. This avenue was illuminated by 
a string of arc-lights hung on a single line, gemlike, 
through its entire length. Hardmuth paused. He 
recognized the neighborhood. At the foot of this 
street lived a colored woman who had once been a 
servant in his mother's home; her house would be 
a surer refuge than a hotel; besides, she would be a 
safe messenger in communicating with his friends. 
He turned north, and moved along Jackson Street 

221 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

toward the river; not another human being was in 
sight. The only evidence of life was a little light in 
the watch - tower of the signal - man who controlled 
the barriers guarding the railway crossing. He pass 
ed the Chesapeake & Ohio big freight-house, through 
the grilled end of which came that damp odor of 
traffic blent of sugar, tobacco, and sacked coffee. He 
crossed the tracks, and went on through the shadows 
of the colossal pipe and foundry company. One 
block farther on he paused. On his left two mon 
strous piles the city's gas-tanks loomed into the 
twinkling, frosty night. Against the sky-line to his 
right, a block or two away, was silhouetted the faint 
tracery of the railway bridge, broken by the battery 
of smoke-stacks above a rambling foundry. About 
him on the cinders and brick fill-in were old and 
rusting boilers, gigantic spools of unused cable, and 
gnarled and twisted heaps of iron. In their midst, 
and from a lower level, peeped the chimney of Mandy's 
cottage. A little fence of uneven and unequal boards 
made a pretence at enclosure. 

Through the maze of rubbish Hardmuth groped his 
way. He mounted the flight of rickety steps that 
led up over the half story which formed a basement 
to the house and rapped on the door. From within 
came a challenge. Hardmuth answered: 

"That you, Mandy? Is George there? Open the 
door." 

There was a shuffling of footsteps, then the strik 
ing of a match; a light shone through a crack in the 
weather-warped panel of the door, a hand fell on the 
knob, a man's voice asked: 

222 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Who is it?" 

"Me, George Mandy knows my voice put out 
the light before you open the door." 

The woman's voice was heard in lower tone: 

"It's Marse Frank blowout de light, like he done 
tell you." 

The light went out; the door opened; the prose 
cuting attorney disappeared into the shadow, a fugi 
tive from justice. 

The evening after the trial Viola and Clay sat to 
gether in the library of the Brookfield house. It 
had been a day of incident and excitement. 

"I must really say good-night and let you get some 
sleep," Viola said, sympathetically. 

"Not before Jack gets home," Clay pleaded. "Our 
mothers have considerately left us alone together; 
they'll just as inconsiderately tell us when it's time 
to part." 

"My mother said it was time half an hour ago." 

"Wait until Jack comes in," Clay coaxed. 

The young darky, Jo, brought in a card. 

"Dey's another reporter to see you, suh." 

"Send him away," Viola directed. "Mr. Whipple 
won't see any more reporters." 

"Wait a minute, "said Clay. "Who is he?" Jo hand 
ed him the card. "I've got to see this one, Viola." 

"Why got to?" 

"He's a friend. I'll see him, Jo." 

"Yes, suh." Jo left the room. 

"You've said that all day they're all friends," 
Viola remonstrated. 

223 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Well, they are; but this boy especially. It was 
fine to see you and mother and Jack when I was 
in that jail great; but you were there daytimes. 
This boy spent hours on the other side of the bars 
helping me pass the awful nights. I tell you, death- 
cells would be pretty nearly hell if it wasn't for the 
police reporters; ministers ain't in it with 'em." 

Jo ushered the reporter into the room. 

"How are you, Ned?" Clay took his hand, greet 
ing him cordially. "You know Miss Campbell, Mr. 
Emmett." 

The reporter nodded affably; Viola bowed. 

"Have a chair." 

"Thank you." Emmett looked about the warm 
and luxurious room. "This is different, isn't it?" 

"Some," returned Clay, in the national habit of 
understatement. 

"Satisfied the way we handled the story?" Emmett 
asked, as he took the offered chair. 

"Perfectly; you were just bully, old man." 

"That artist of ours is only a kid, and they work 
him to death on the 'Sunday,'" Emmett explained 
to Viola; "so" apologetically to Clay "you under 
stand, don't you?" 

"Oh, I got used to the pictures a year ago." 

There was an awkward pause ; then Emmett coughed 
and proposed: "Anything you want to say?" 

"For the paper?" Viola asked. 

"Yes." 

"I think not," Clay answered. 

Just then Helen and Alice came into the room. 

"You have met my mother?" said Clay. Emmett 

224 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

answered, "No"; and Clay introduced him, adding, 
proudly : "This is Mr. Emmett, of whom I've told you." 

"Oh, the good reporter!" Helen exclaimed, appre 
ciatively. 

"Gee! That would be a wonder if the gang heard 
it!" Emmett whispered, laughingly, to Clay; then in 
assent to Helen: "We got pretty well acquainted 
yes'm." 

"Won't you sit down, Mr. Emmett?" Mrs. Camp 
bell asked. 

"Thank you. I guess we've covered everything," 
the reporter continued, in the business-like manner of 
his profession ; ' ' but the chief wanted me to see your 
son" turning to Helen and then to Clay "and see 
if you'd do the paper a favor." 

"If possible gladly." 

"I don't like the assignment because well, for 
the very reason that it was handed to me, and that 
is because we're more or less friendly." 

Brookfield came in briskly from the hall. He was 
still wearing the great fur coat he had worn in the 
automobile, and carried in his hand his cap and 
goggles. 

"Well, it's a wonderful night outside," he said, 
joyously. 

"You're back early," his sister offered. 

"Purposely. How are you, Emmett?" The re 
porter bowed. "I thought you girls might like a 
little run in the moonlight before I put up the ma 
chine," Jack explained. 

"Mr. Emmett has some message from his editor," 
Helen said. 

225 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"What is it?" 

"There's a warrant out for Hardmuth you saw 
that?" Emmett asked of the entire group. 

"Yes, we saw that," Viola said. 

"To-night's paper," Jack added. 

"If they get him," Emmett continued, "and he 
comes to trial and all that, it will be the biggest trial 
Kentucky ever saw." 

"Well?" Clay prompted. 

" Well, the paper wants you to agree to report it for 
them the trial. There'll be other papers after you, 
of course." 

"Oh no!" Viola exclaimed, horrified, going in 
stinctively to Clay's side. 

"Understand, Clay, I'm not asking it," Emmett 
said, apologetically. " I'm here under orders, just as 
I'd be at a fire or a bread riot." 

"And of course" Clay hesitated, searching for a 
diplomatic refusal "you understand, don't you?" 

"Perfectly," the reporter answered. "I told the 
chief myself you wouldn't see it." 

"Paper's been too friendly for me to assume any 
any" 

"Unnecessary dignity," Jack suggested. 

"Exactly; but I just couldn't do that, you see." 

"Oh, leave it to me; I'll let you down easy," Em 
mett assured him. 

"Thank you." 

"You expect to be in Europe or " 

"But I don't." 

"We're going to stay right here in Louisville," 
Viola declared, putting her hand in Clay's. 

226 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Yes," added the boy, "and work out my my re 
habilitation among the people who know me." 

" Of course," Emmett said, understandingly. " Eu 
rope's just to stall off the chief to get him off on 
some other dope." 

Helen rose anxiously from the sofa with the impulse 
of protest. 

" It's all right," Jack said to her. 

"I hate to begin with a falsehood." 

"Not your son, Mrs. Whipple me," Emmett laugh 
ed. He turned to Jack. "I saw some copy on our 
telegraph desk, Mr. Brookfield, that would interest 
you." 

"Yes?" 

" Or maybe you know of it ? Frankfort?" 

"No." 

"Some friend named you in the caucus." 

"What connection?" 

"Governor." 

"Uncle Jack?" Viola asked, enthusiastically. 

"Yes'm that is, for the nomination." 

All looked at Brookfield. There was but a mo 
ment's serious consideration for Jack before he 
laughed : 

"It's a joke." 

" Grows out of these Hardmuth charges, of course," 
Emmett assented, smiling. 

"That's all," Jack answered. 

The reporter said good-night and left the room. 
Clay, after accompanying him to the door, returned, 
his face set and bearing the stamp of malignant de 
termination. 

227 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"If it weren't for the notoriety of it, I'd like to do 
that." 

"My son!" Helen exclaimed, reproachfully. 

" Why would you like to do it ?" Jack asked, quietly. 

"To get even. I'd like to see Hardmuth suffer as 
he made me suffer; I'd like to watch him suffer and 
write of it." 

"That's a bad spirit to face the world with, my 
boy." 

"I hate him!" 

" Hatred is heavier freight for the shipper than it is 
for the consignee." 

"I can't help it." 

"Yes, you can. Mr. Hardmuth should be of the 
utmost indifference to you; to hate him is weak." 

"Weak?" Viola interjected. 

"Yes, weak-minded," pursued her uncle. "Hard 
muth was in love with you at one time he hated 
Clay. He said Clay was as weak as dish-water, and ' ' 
facing the boy and looking him straight in the eyes 
"you were at that time. You've had your lesson 
profit by it its meaning was self-control. Begin 
now if you are going to be the custodian of this girl's 
happiness." 

"I'm sure he means to, Jack," Helen interposed. 

" You can carry your hatred of Hardmuth and let 
it embitter your whole life, or you can drop it so." 
Jack let fall on the table the book he had taken up. 
"The power that any man or any thing has to annoy 
us we give him or it by our interest. Some idiot told 
your great-grandmother that a jewel with different 
colored strata in it was 'bad luck' or a 'hoodoo.' She 

228 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

believed it, and she nursed her faith and passed the 
lunacy on to your grandmother." 

"Jack, don't talk of that, please/' Helen protested. 

"I'll skip one generation; but I'd like to talk of it." 

"Why talk of it?" Mrs. Campbell ventured to ask. 

"It was only a notion, and an effort of will can 
banish it." Jack was again speaking to the boy. 

"It was more than a notion." 

" Tom Denning' s scarf - pin, which he dropped 
there " he pointed to the floor "was an exhibit in 
your trial; Colonel Bailey returned it to me to-day." 
Brookfield put his hand in his pocket. 

"I wish you wouldn't, Uncle Jack," Viola said, 
timidly. 

"You don't mind, do you?" Brookfield asked Clay. 

" I'd rather not look at it to-night." The boy's face 
was averted, his voice trembled. 

"You needn't look at it," Brookfield said, quietly; 
" I'll hold it in my hand, and you put your hand over 
mine." 

" I really don't see the use in this experiment, Jack," 
Mrs. Campbell fluttered. Clay had obediently placed 
one hand over Brookfield 's, but he still kept his eyes 
averted. 

"That doesn't annoy you, does it?" Brookfield 
asked. 

"I'm controlling myself, sir," the boy answered, 
through shut teeth, "but I feel the influence of that 
thing all through and through me." 

"Jack!" Helen pleaded. 

Viola turned away, unable to bear the sight of the 
boy's suffering. 

229 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Down your back, isn't it?" Jack persisted, relent- 
lessly, "and in the roots of your hair tingling?" 

"Yes." 

"Why torture him?" Helen demanded. 

"Is it torture?" Jack asked of Clay. 

"I shall be glad when it's over, sir," the boy 
answered, with an additional effort at self-con 
trol. 

"What rot!" Brookfield threw oS Clay's hand. He 
opened his own. "That's only my night-key look 
at it!" The boy turned and looked. " I haven't the 
scarf-pin about me!" 

"Why make me think it was the scarf-pin?" Clay 
asked, with a considerable show of frightened indig 
nation. 

"To prove to you that it's only thinking that's all. 
Now, be a man. The cat's-eye itself is in that table 
drawer. Get it, and show Viola that you're not a neu 
ropathic idiot." Clay crossed to the table. "You're a 
child of the everlasting God, and nothing on the earth 
or under it can harm you in the slightest degree!" 
Clay had opened the drawer and taken from it the 
scarf-pin; he held it at arm's -length before him. 
"That's the spirit look at it!" Brookfield took Clay 
by the wrist and pushed the jewel immediately be 
fore his eyes. "Look at it close I've made many a 
young horse do that to an umbrella now give it to 
me." Brookfield took the scarf-pin and carried it to 
Viola. " You're not afraid of it ?" 

"Of course I'm not," the girl smiled. 

Brookfield stuck the pin in the lace at her throat. 
He turned to Clay. 

230 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Now, if you want my niece, go up to that ' hoodoo* 
like a man." 

His fear of the jewel now apparently under com 
plete control, Clay went up to Viola and took her in 
his arms. 

"Oh, Jack!" Helen exclaimed, happily, "do you 
think that will last?" 

"Which?" Brookfield asked, with a laugh " indif 
ference to the ' hoodoo ' or partiality to my niece?" 

"They'll both last," Clay answered, with resolu 
tion. 

" Now, my boy " Jack turned to him, his serious 
ness resumed "drop your hatred of Hardmuth as 
you drop your fear of the scarf-pin. Don't look 
back your life is ahead of you; don't mount for 
the race overweighted." 

Jo announced Mr. Ellinger. Lew had followed him 
to the doorway, and entered the dining-room behind 
him. 

"I don't intrude, do I?" It was almost a chal 
lenge. 

"Come in." 

Lew was in a gale of excitement. He greeted the 
ladies affably; he turned to the young people. 

"Ah, Clay, glad to see you looking so well; glad 
to see you in such good company 1" And then to 
Jack, in triumph: "I've got him!" 

"Got whom?" said Brookfield. 

" Hardmuth. Detectives been hunting him all day, 
you know." 

"He's caught, you say?" Helen asked, excitedly. 

"No; but I've treed him." Ellinger turned to 

231 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Brookfield. "And I thought I'd just have a word 
with you before passing the tip. He's nearly put 
me in the poor-house with his raids and closing laws, 
and I see a chance to get even." 

"In what way?" Brookfield asked. 

" They've been after him. nearly twenty-four hours 
morning paper's going to offer a reward for him, 
and I understand the State will also. If I had a lit 
tle help I'd hide him for a day or two, and then sur 
render him for those rewards." 

"Where is Hardmuth?" 

"HidinV 

"Naturally," Brookfield commented. 

" You remember ' Big George' ?" 

"The darky?" 

"Yes; used to be on the door at Phil Kelly's." 

"Yes." 

"He's there in 'Big George's' cottage long 
story." Lew turned with an air of importance to the 
ladies. " ' Big George's ' wife that is she " El- 
linger hesitated as his eyes fell on Viola. " Well, his 
wife used to be pantry-maid for Hardmuth's mother. 
When they raided Kelly's game 'Big George' pre 
tended to turn State's evidence, but he really hates 
Hardmuth like a rattler so it all comes back to me. 
You see, if I'd win a couple of hundred at Kelly's I 
used to slip George a ten goin' out." This explana 
tion was unctuously given to the ladies: "Your luck 
always stays by you if you divide a little with a 
nigger or a hump-back, and in Louisville it's easier 
to find a nigger. So " 

"He's there now?" Brookfield interrupted. 

232 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

" Yes. He wants to get away. He's got two guns, 
and he'll shoot before he gives up, so I'd have to 
'con* him some way. George's wife is to open the 
door to Kelly's old signal you remember one 
knock, then two, and then one." Ellinger acted out 
the signal, rapping on the table. 

"Where is the cottage?" 

"Hundred and seven Jackson Street little door- 
yard border of arbor- vitae on the path." 

Jack took a sheet of paper and envelope from the 
table-rack and began to write. 

"One knock, then two, and then one?" he asked, 
without looking up. 

"What you goin' to do?" Ellinger inquired, alertly. 

"Send for him." 

" Who you goin' to send ?" There was a suggestion 
of physical recoil as the old sport asked the question. 

"That boy there," Brookfield answered. 

"Me?" Clay rose to his feet. 

"Yes." 

"Oh no no!" Helen exclaimed, aghast. 

"And my niece," Brookfield added. 

"What!" Viola cried, in alarm. "To arrest a 
man?" 

" My machine is at the door," Brookfield instructed 
Clay. " Give Hardmuth this note he will come with 
you quietly. Bring him here. We will decide what 
to do with him after that." 

" I can't allow Viola to go on such an errand," Mrs. 
Campbell protested to her brother. 

" When the man she has promised to marry is going 
into danger?" Brookfield upbraided his sister. 

233 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"If Mr. Hardmuth will come for that note, why 
can't I deliver it?" Viola inquired, with an undefined 
impulse for the heroic. 

"You may," her uncle answered, smiling, "if Clay 
will let you." He extended the note to the girl ; Clay 
took it from him before Viola could do so. 

"I'll hand it to him." 

"I hope so," Brookfield answered. He took his 
fur coat and goggles from the chair where he had 
laid them. "Take these," he said, handing them to 
Clay. "Remember: one rap, then two, then one." 

"I understand," said the boy; "number " 

" Hundred and seven Jackson Street," Ellinger sup 
plied. 

"I protest," Mrs. Campbell once more interposed. 

"So do I," said Helen, joining her. 

Jack turned to the younger couple. 

" You're both of age I ask you to do it. If you 
give Hardmuth the goggles nobody will recognize 
him, and with a lady beside him you'll get him safely 
here." 

"Come!" said Clay, decisively, to Viola. 

"I ought to be in the party!" Ellinger called, bus 
tling after them. 

"No," Brookfield commanded, "you stay here." 

"That's scandalous!" Mrs. Campbell pronounced, 
in high dudgeon with her brother. 

"But none of us will start the scandal, will we?" 
Brookfield asked his sister, in aggravating calm. 

Helen turned to him and said: "Clay knows noth 
ing of that kind of work. A man with two guns 
think of it!" 

234 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"After he's walked barehanded up to a couple of 
guns a few times he'll quit fearing men armed only 
with a scarf-pin," Brookfield replied. 

"It's cruel to keep constantly referring to that 
mistake of Clay's. I want to forget it." 

Jack took Helen's hand tenderly in his own. 

"The way to forget it, my dear Helen, is not to 
guard it, a sensitive spot in your memory, btft to 
grasp it as the wise ones grasp a nettle crush all its 
power to harm you in one courageous contact. We 
think things are calamities and trials and sorrows 
only names; they are spiritual gymnastics, and have 
an eternal value when once you confront them and 
make them crouch at your feet. Say once for all 
to your soul, and thereby to the world: 'Yes, my 
boy killed a man because I'd brought him up a 
half -effeminate, hysterical weakling; but he's been 
through the fire, I've been through the fire, and we're 
both the better for it.'" 

"I can say that truthfully," Helen half sobbed, 
"but I don't want to make a policeman of him just 
the same." She withdrew her hand from Jack's, and, 
on the verge of tears, went out of the room, followed 
by Mrs. Campbell, who added, disapprovingly, as she 
left: 

"Your treatment is a little too heroic, Jack!" 

16 



XVI 

T EW waited anxiously until Jack had lighted a cigar, 
JL*/ and then, unable to restrain his impatience longer, 
he asked: 

"Think they'll fetch him?" 

"Yes." 

"He'll come, of course, if he does under the idea 
that you'll help him when he gets here." 

"Yes." 

"Pretty hard double-cross," Lew ruminated, "but 
he deserves it." There was a pause, and then he went 
on, confidentially: "I've got a note of fifteen thou 
sand to meet to-morrow or, damn it, I don't think 
I'd fancy this man-huntin'. I put up some Louis 
ville & Nashville bonds for security, and the holder 
of the note will be only too anxious to pinch 'em." 

Brookfield took a check-book from the drawer of 
the table and began to write, saying as he did so : 

"You can't get your rewards in time for that." 

"I know, and that's one reason I come to you, 
Jack. If you see I'm in a fair way to get the re 
wards " 

"I'll lend you the money " Jack took him up. 

"Thank you I thought you would. If I lose those 
bonds they'll have me selling programmes for a livin' 
at a grandstand. You see, I thought hatin' Hardmuth 

236 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

as you do, and your reputation bein* up through that 
stuff in the papers " 

"There." Brookfield handed Ellinger the check. 

"Thank you, old man." Lew scanned the check. 
"I'll hand this back to you in a week." 

"You needn't." 

"What!" 

"You needn't hand it back. It's only fifteen thou 
sand, and you've lost a hundred of them at poker in 
these rooms." 

"Never belly-ached, did I?" 

"Never." Brookfield smiled. "But you don't owe 
me that fifteen." 

"Rot! I'm no baby. Square game, wasn't it?" 

"Perfectly." 

"And I'll sit in a square game any time I get a 
chance." Ellinger folded the check and put it into 
his vest-pocket. 

"I know, Lew, all about that." 

" I'll play you for this fifteen right now. ' ' Ellinger's 
fingers had not left the paper, and they reproduced it 
from his pocket with comical eagerness. 

"No." 

"Ain't had a game in three weeks." There was 
a genuine note of appeal in the voice. "Besides, I 
think my luck's changin'. When 'Big George' told 
me about Hardmuth, I took George's hand before I 
thought what I was doin', and you know what shakin' 
hands with a nigger does just before any play." 

"No, thank you, Lew," Jack repeated. 

"My money's good as anybody else's, ain't it?" the 
old gamester badgered. 

237 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Just as good, but " 

"Tain't a phoney check, is it?" EUinger scanned 
the paper with close scrutiny. 

"The check is all right," Brookfield said, restrain 
ing his amusement with difficulty. 

"Losing your nerve?" Ellinger taunted. 

' ' No !' ' Brookfield was immediately ashamed of the 
anger in his tone. "Suppose you shuffle those cards 
and deal a hand." He pointed to the side-table upon 
which a deck of cards was lying. 

' 'That's like old times." Lew brightened. "What 
is it stud-horse or draw?" 

"Draw, if you say so." Brookfield went to the 
opposite side of the room, where he stood in front of 
the fireplace. 

"I cut 'em?" Lew inquired, as he finished the 
shuffle. 

"You cut them." 

Ellinger was dealing. "Table stakes this check 
goes for a thousand." 

"That suits me." 

"Sit down," Lew invited, eager for the game. 

"I don't need to sit down just yet,-" Brookfield said, 
from his position before the fire. 

"As easy as that, am I?" Ellinger grumbled. He 
was squeezing his five cards and cautiously reading 
their marginal characters. There was a moment's 
pause as Brookfield gazed into the fire. 

"Lew." 

"Yes." 

"Do you happen to have three queens?" 

Ellinger drew his cards toward him in instinctive 

238 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

defence, gave a startled look at Brookfield, whose 
back was to him, turned the cards over, examining 
them with expert eye and touch, then looked at the 
remaining cards in the deck. 

"Well, I can't see it," he said. 

"No use looking they're not marked." 

"Well, I shuffled them all right?" 

"Yes," Brookfield assented. 

"And cut 'em?" 

Brookfield nodded. 

"Couldn't have been a cold deck?" 

"No," said Jack. 

"Then how did you know I had three queens?" 

"I didn't know it I just thought you had." Brook- 
field spoke slowly and sadly as he returned to the cen 
tre of the room. 

"Can you do it again?" 

"I don't know." Brookfield paused. "Draw one 
card." 

Ellinger obeyed. "All right." 

"Is it the ace of hearts ?" Brookfield asked, without 
looking toward him. 

"It is." Ellinger put down the card in a hush of 
wonderment. Brookfield took the cigar from his lips 
and slowly ground out its light in the bronze ash 
tray on the table. He was as visibly affected as 
Ellinger, though in quite a different way. 

"Turns me into a rotter, doesn't it?" he commented, 
sadly. 

"Can you do that every time?" Lew's inquiry had 
a suspicious alertness. 

"I never tried it until to-night," Brookfield an- 

239 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

swered, slowly "that is, consciously. I've always 
had luck, and I thought it was because I took chances 
on a guess, same as any player; but that doesn't 
look like it, does it?" 

"Beats me," Ellinger confessed. 

"And what a monster it makes of me these years 
I've been in the business." 

"You say you didn't know it before?" Ellinger re 
peated, his little eyes a-glitter with interest. 

"I didn't know it no; but some things have hap 
pened lately that made me think it might be so : that 
jury yesterday" Brookfield recurred to the event 
with impressive solemnity "some facts I've had from 
Justice Prentice telepathy of a very common kind, 
and I guess it's used in a good many games, old man, 
we aren't on to." Brookfield was half sitting on the 
large table in the centre of the room. Lew leaned 
forward on the edge of his chair at the little card- 
table opposite him. 

"Well, have you told anybody?" 

"No." 

' ' Good ! ' * Lew stood up in great excitement. ' ' Now 
see here, Jack" he came quickly to Brookfield "if 
you can do that right along I know a game in Cincin 
nati where it would be like takin' candy from children." 

"Good God!" Brookfield exploded. He turned 
with an impulse of denunciation upon the old gambler 
at his side. One look into Lew's keen face, however, 
convinced him that there was no room for moral con 
sideration in the undiluted rascality of Lew's inten 
tion. Brookfield could only say: "You're not sug 
gesting that I keep it up?" 

240 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Don't overdo it no," said the old man, cautiously; 
"or you show me the trick and I'll collect all right." 

Brookfield was thinking. 

"Lew," he said, slowly, when at length he spoke, 
"some of the fellows I've won from in this house 
have gone over into the park and blown their heads 
off." 

"Some of the fellows anybody wins from, in any 
house, go somewhere and blow their heads off," Lew 
drawled, discouragingly. 

"True," Brookfield said. 

"Three queens," Ellinger murmured, with growing 
wonder "before the draw well, you could have 
had me all right. And you won't tell me how you do 
it?" he pleaded, sadly. 

"I don't know how I do it the thought just comes 
to my mind stronger than any other thought." 

Lew fixed his disapproving gaze upon Brookfield, 
and in the very superlative of rebuke exclaimed: 

"God A'mighty gives you a mind like that, and you 
won't go with me to Cincinnati!" 

Jo entered, and announced Justice Prentice. 

"Ask him to step up here," Brookfield ordered. 
He then went to the door of the dining-room, and 
called to his sister and Helen: "Justice Prentice is 
coming up, and I'd like you to join us!" 

Lew was again affectionately regarding the five 
cards he had dealt himself. 

"Can the old man call a hand like that, too?" he 
asked Brookfield. 

"I'm sure he could," said Jack. 

"And are there others?" Ellinger inquired, his 

241 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

sense of wonder at the trick overborne by sudden 
hopelessness. 

" I believe there are a good many others who un 
consciously have the same ability." 

"Well, it's a God's blessin' there's a sucker born 
every minute. I'm a widow and an orphan 'long- 
side of that." Lew threw the cards on the table in 
disgust. 

"Been losing, Mr. Ellinger?" Mrs. Campbell in 
quired, as she and Helen came into the room. 

" Losing ? I just saved fifteen thousand I was goin* 
to throw away like sand in a rat-hole. I'm a babe 
eatin' spoon- victuals, and only gettin' half at that." 
Lew sorrowfully replaced the check in his pocket. 

The Justice came into the room. 

"I stopped at your hotel, Mr. Justice," Jack said, 
"but you were out." 

"Yes," Prentice explained, "I have been making 
a few parting calls, and I stopped " 

The hurried entrance of Viola and Mrs. Campbell's 
exclamation at sight of her interrupted the Justice. 

"Where's Clay?" Helen asked, with repressed ex 
citement. 

"Down-stairs." 

Viola greeted the Justice and turned to Brookfield, 
who excused himself to the others, and, stepping aside 
with his niece, inquired: 

"Did the gentleman come with you?" 

"Yes." 

Ellinger overheard this reply, and his own ner 
vousness added to the uneasiness of the group. 

"Won't you ask Clay, my dear," Brookfield con- 

242 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

tinued to Viola, " to take him through the lower hall 
and into the dining-room until I'm at liberty?" 

"Certainly." Viola left on her errand. 

"I am keeping you from other appointments," 
Prentice said. 

"Nothing that can't wait." 

Brookfield offered him a chair, but the Justice de 
clined it, and going to the ladies he extended his 
hand. 

"I am leaving for Washington in the morning." 

"We shall all be at the train to see you off, Mr. 
Justice," said Brookfield. 

"That's good, because I should like to say good 
bye to the young people I can see them there. I 
sha'n't see you then, Mr. Ellinger?" Prentice crossed 
to where Lew was still standing by the three queens, 
gone but not forgotten. He extended his hand. 

"Good-bye, Mr. Justice," said Lew; "you've given 
me more of a 'turnover' than you know." 

"Really?" 

" I'd 'a' saved two hundred thousand dollars if I'd 
met you thirty years ago." 

"Well, that's only a little over six thousand a 
year, isn't it?" 

"That's so; and, damn it, I have lived!" At this 
statement, and with the recollection behind it, there 
came into Lew's ruddy-duck smile that unctuous 
suggestion of good feeling which was peculiarly his 
own. The smile abided, and the retrospection grew 
during the succeeding moments in which the Justice 
was bidding farewell to the ladies and leaving Jack 
in the hallway. 

243 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

As Jack returned, his sister, who had been looking 
into the dining-room, came quickly to him. 

"Is that Hardmuth in there?" she asked, nodding 
over her shoulder. 

"Yes," Jack answered. 

"I don't want to see him." 

"Very well, dear; I'll excuse you." 

"Come, Helen." Mrs. Campbell left the room. 

"I'd like you to stay," Jack said to Helen. 

"Me?" 

"Yes." 

Left alone with Helen and Ellinger, Brookfield 
crossed to the dining-room door and opened it. 

"Come in," he said. 

Viola entered, followed by Hardmuth and Clay. 
In her excitement she had forgotten to lay off the fur 
coat which she had worn in the automobile. As 
Brookfield removed the coat from her shoulders he 
said to her: 

" Your mother has just left us, Viola ; you had bet 
ter join her." 

"Very well." As the girl started to go out her 
uncle took her hand, detaining her a moment. 

" I want you to know, my dear, how thoroughly I 
appreciate your going on this errand for me. You're 
the right stuff!" Jack kissed her affectionately; 
Viola left the room. 

Brookfield turned to Hardmuth, who was standing 
by the side of Clay. Hardmuth was haggard and 
had a hunted look. He wore a dark overcoat of 
some light material; in his hand he held the auto 
mobile goggles which Clay had given him. Brook- 

244 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

field found it difficult to put into speech the severity 
which he felt the situation demanded. 

"You are trying to get away?" he began, inter 
rogatively. 

"This your note?" Hardmuth said, in reply, ex 
tending Brookfield's letter. 

"Yes." 

Hardmuth glanced at the page. "You say you 
will help me get out of the State?" 

"I will." 

"When?" 

"Whenever you are ready." 

"I'm ready now." 

"Then I'll help you now." 

"Now?" Ellinger cried out, in astonishment. 

"Yes." 

" Doesn't that render you liable in some way, Jack, 
to the law?" Helen said, anxiously. 

"Yes; but I've been liable to the law in some way 
for the last twenty years." Brookfield turned to 
Clay. " You go down and tell the chauffeur to leave 
the machine and walk home; I'm going to run it 
myself, and I'll turn it in." 

"Yes, sir." Clay left the room. 

" You're going to run it yourself ?" Hardmuth asked, 
with quick suspicion. 

"Yes." 

"Where to?" 

"Across the river, if that's agreeable to you or 
any place you name." 

"Anybody waiting for you across the river?" 

"No." 

245 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

Again Hardmuth extended Brookfield's letter. " Is 
this all on the level?" 

"Completely." 

"Why, I believe you mean that," Ellinger said, in 
perplexity to Jack. 

"I do." 

"But I've got something to say, haven't I?" 

"I hope not." Brookfield's answer was full of 
authority. 

"Well, if you're in earnest, of course," Lew apolo 
gized; "but I don't see your game." 

"I'm not fully convinced of Mr. Hardmuth's guilt." 

"Why, he's runnin' away!" 

"I know what a case they would make against 
me," Hardmuth blustered; "but I'm not guilty in 
any degree." 

"Frank," Brookfield sternly interrupted, "I want 
to do this thing for you; don't make it too difficult 
by any lying. When I said I wasn't fully convinced 
of your guilt, my reservation was one you wouldn't 
understand." He crossed to the mantel and pushed 
the electric button. Clay had entered the room while 
he was speaking, and stood respectfully waiting to 
report. Brookfield now inquired of the boy: 

"Is he gone?" 

"Yes." 

"My coat and goggles?" 

"Below in the reception-room," Clay said. 

"Thank you. I wish now you would go to Viola 
and her mother, and keep them wherever they are." 

"All right, sir." Clay left the room; Brookfield 
turned to Hardmuth. 

246 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Hungry?" 

"No, thank you." 

"Got money?" 

"Yes." 

The darky boy came in answer to the bell. "Jo, 
take Mr. Hardmuth below and lend him one of the 
fur coats." And then to Hardmuth, "I'll join you 
immediately." 

Hardmuth followed the boy from the room. 

Again left alone with Ellinger and Helen, Brook- 
field turned to Lew and said : 

"Lew, I called that ace of hearts, didn't I?" 

"And the three queens," Lew answered, with rem 
iniscent regret. 

"Because the three queens and the ace were in 
your mind." 

"I don't see any other explanation." 

"But suppose instead of the cards there had been 
in your mind a well-developed plan of assassination 
the picture of a murder " 

"Did you drop to him that way?" 

' ' No ; Raynor told me all I know of Hardmuth. But 
here's the very hell of it." It was evident to Helen 
that Brookfield's mental agony was unfeigned. "Long 
before Scovil was killed I thought he deserved killing, 
and I thought it could be done just as it was done." 

"Jack!" Helen exclaimed, in a whisper. 

"I never breathed a word of it to a living soul, 
but Hardmuth planned it exactly as I dreamed it, 
and, by God, a guilty thought is almost as criminal 
as a guilty deed! I've always had a considerable in 
fluence over that poor devil that's running away to- 

247 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

night, and I'm not sure that before the Judge of 
both of us the guilt isn't mostly mine." 

In her wish to diminish Brookfield's mental suffer 
ing, Helen sympathetically took his hand. "That's 
morbid, Jack, dear," she urged "perfectly morbid." 

"I hope it is- we'll none of us ever know in this 
life." He turned to Ellinger. "But we can all of 
us" 

"What?" asked Lew, as Brookfield paused. 

"Live as if it were true." With an effort Brook- 
field threw off the sombreness of his mood and pre 
pared for action. "I'm going to help him over the 
line. The roads are watched, but the police won't 
suspect me, and they won't suspect Lew, and all the 
less if there is a lady with us." He turned again 
briskly to Ellinger. "Will you go?" 

"The limit," the old sport answered, in character 
istic phrase. 

"Get a heavy coat from Jo." 

"All right." 

Brookfield was left alone with Helen. He turned 
to where she was sitting at one end of the library- 
table. The hour, the lighting of the room, their 
relative positions recalled with photographic vivid 
ness their conversation on the night of the opera, the 
conversation in which he had received the first hint 
of the power of which he had since become so respon 
sibly conscious, and which had worked such regenera 
tion in his life. He put one hand over her hand, rest 
ing on the table as it had rested then. 

"You know you said I used to be able to make you 
write to me when I was a boy at college?" 

248 



THE WITCHING HOUR 

"Yes." 

"And you were a thousand miles away while this 
fellow Hardmuth was just at my elbow half the 
time." 

Helen rose quickly and came to him close. "It 
can't help you to brood over it, Jack." 

He took both her hands in his, laying them upon 
h ; .s breast in the protective and tender way that had 
grown upon him. 

"It can help me to know it and make what amends 
I can. Will you go with me while I put this poor 
devil over the line?" 

"Yes, I'll go with you," she answered at once. 
She turned and got from the sofa the great-coat that 
Viola had worn. 

Brookfield took it from her and held it, assisting 
her to put it on. As he hooked the chain fastening 
of the collar under her chin, he said: 

"Helen, you stood by your boy in the fight for his 
life." 

"Didn't you?^ 

Brookfield looked pleadingly into the eyes of the 
woman he loved. "Will you stand by me," he 
asked, "while I make my fight?" 

She answered, simply: "You've made your fight, 
Jack and you've won." 



THE END 



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The story of a tenement waif who rose by his own ingenuity 

to the office of mayor of his native city. His experiences 

while "climbing," make a most interesting example of the 

possibilities of human nature to rise above circumstances. 

THE KEY TO YESTERDAY. By Charles Neville 
Buck. Illustrated- by R. Schabelitz. 

Robert Saxon, a prominent artist, has an accident, while in 
Paris, which obliterates his memory, and the only clue he has 
*o his former life is a rusty key. What door in Paris will it 
unlock? He must know that before he woos the girl he ioves. 

THE DANGER TRAIL. By James Oliver Curwood. 

Illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull. 
The danger trail is over the snow-smothered North. A 
young Chicago engineer, who is building a road through the 
Hudson Bay region, is involved in mystery, and is led into 
tmbush by a young woman. 

THE GAY LORD WARING. By Houghton Townley. 
Illustrated by Will Grefe. 

A story of the smart hunting set in England. A gay young 
lord wins in love against his selfish and cowardly brother and 
apparently against fate itself. 

'BY INHERITANCE. By Octave Thanet. Illustrated 

by Thomas Fogarty. Elaborate wrapper in colors. 

A wealthy New England spinster with the most elaborate 

plans for the education of the negro goes to visit her nephew 

m Arkansas, where she learns the needs of the colored race 

first hand and begins to lose her theories. 

GROSSET & DUNLAP, 526 WEST 26th ST., NEW YORK 



n fill 

Date Due /\/\ ( 


NOV 27 


1QR3 






MOV 2 u , 


'o33' 






MAR 9 


1970 














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NOV 2 


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Library Bureau Cat. No. 1137 




HUI W58