The Case and Exceptions by Frederick Trevor Hill
IN THE MATTER OF
THE FINDING OF
A CONCLUSION OF
THE BURDEN OF
IN HIS OWN
BY WAY OF
IN THE NAME OF
THE CASE AND EXCEPTIONS
Stories of Counsel and Clients
FREDERICK TREVOR HILL
New York Frederick A. Stokes Company Publishers
Copyright, 1900, By Frederick A. Stokes Company.
M. W. H.
THE CASE AND EXCEPTIONS.
OUTSIDE THE RECORD.
IN GENERAL SESSIONS
COURT ROOM, June 5, 1896.
It is over. Warren's fate is in the hands of the jury. I have done
the little I could, but the strain has been almost too much for me.
Even now, my heart sinks at the thought that I may have left
something undone or failed to see some trap of the District Attorney.
For more than two hours I have been sitting here fighting it all
You have not known what this case means to me, and doubtless have
often found me a dull companion and neglectful lover during the past
months. But I will not cry peccavi, my Lady, unless you pronounce me
guilty after reading what I write. See how confident I amnot of
myself but of you!
The Court Room is quiet now, for it is ten o'clock at night. Only a
few reporters and officials have lingered, and these yawn over the
protracted business. Think of it! This is merely a matter of business
to themthe life of this man. I cannot blame them, yet the thought of
such indifference to what is so terribly vital to me, crushes with its
Godfrey Warren is only a name to you, or at most only the name of
one of my clients. You have not known that he is my oldest and dearest
friend. How hard it has been to keep this from you! But it was his wish
that you should not know itand, if I do not send this letter, you
Warren and I have been friends from boyhood. We attended the same
school where we raised the devil in couples after a manner bad to
record but good to remember. So inseparable were we that our families
planned to send us to different Universities, thinking, I suppose, that
our continued intimacy would be at the expense of a broader knowledge
of mankind. But their purpose, whatever it was, came to nothing, for we
flatly rejected any college education upon such terms.
As a result we entered Yale together and left there four years later
with our boyish affection welded in a friendship such as comes into the
lives of but few men.
Warren showed, even as a lad, those characteristics which have since
marked him as a man apart. He was quick at his studies and slow in his
friendships. But his judgment of men, though slow, was sure. A more
accurate reader of character never lived. But of late years, whenever I
remarked on this, he would laugh and say the credit did not belong to
him but rather to Fantine, who told him all he knew.
This brings me to another striking trait in the manhis devotion to
animals and their worship of him. Dogs were his for his whistle, and
horses once touched by his hand would whinny a welcome if he only
neared the stable door. When he held a moment's silent conference with
a cat, it behooved the owner to watch lest pussy followed the charmer,
and the way birds looked at him was positively uncanny.
Good God! I am writing this as though he were dead, and my heart is
beating louder than the great clock in this silent Court Room!
Warren is not a handsome man, honey. You must not picture any Prince
Charming in his person. He hashe has red hair. Thereone would think
I was making a confession. How he would laugh at me! He always says I
try to make him out an Adonis when he's about as ugly an animal as ever
walked upright. This is nonsense, of course. He is not handsome, but
his features are strong, and when he smiles, his eyes light up the
whole face and he is splendid.
But it is the mind of the man that has always fascinated me. His
ideas are so cleanhis breadth of view so comprehensivehis intellect
so keen and his purpose so high.
If I could only have told the jury about the man himself!But all
this is outside the record. Do you understand, dear?
Never have I known a more sunny disposition or a more even temper in
anyone. But he could get angry. Half a dozen times I have seen him lose
control of himself, but, awful though his passion was, it always rose
in some cause that made me think the better of him as a man.
Once I remember he overheard a foul-mouthed fellow repeating a
filthy story in the presence of a little child. In an instant his face
utterly changed, and before I could prevent him he struck the man a
fearful blow, and I shall never forget the torrent of invective he
hurled at the offender. I had not believed him capable of such
tongue-lashing. (Little did I then dream how this would be used against
It was on that day I first noted that, as long as Warren's anger
lasted, Fantine kept on growling. When I spoke of it he smiled and
Fantine recognized the cur, I fancy.
I have written that Warren was my oldest and dearest friend, but I
have not claimed to be his.
I would not presume to usurp Fantine's place.
Fantine was a Gordon setter. When I first saw her she was little
more than a fluffy ball in Warren's lap to which he was addressing some
remarks as he sat upon the floor of our study.
I did not disturb the conference.
Puppy, he was saying, your name is Fantine. Do you understand,
For a moment the puppy gazed solemnly into his face, tilted its head
slightly first on one side and then on the other, cocking it more and
more in a puzzled effort at comprehension. Then it panted a puppy
smilelicked Godfrey's hand and wagged its little feather of a tail.
Ah, you understand, do you? Warren went on. Well, you and I will
understand one another thoroughly after a while. I can teach you a
littlenot much, but still something worth knowing. For instancenot
to bite my watch chain with those tiny milk teeth of yours! And you'll
teach meO, lots of things I want to know.You'll show me the men I
ought to trust and the ones to keep an eye on. Won't you, Fantine?
The puppy put a fat paw on Warren's breast and wagged its whole body
with its tail.
And, Fantine, you'll never forget me as some people do, or think me
ugly because I've got red hair? You have red hair yourself, you
minx!See those tiny flecks through your black coat? Tan, you say?
Well, you'll have beauty enough for both of us some day. I'll teach you
how to hunt tooIs that a yawn? I make you tired, do I, Mademoiselle?
Well, I dare say you do know more about hunting than I ever shall. I
apologise. But we'll be great friends anywayinseparablesworse than
your master and this great oaf who's stolen in upon our confidential
The puppy gave a sleepy sigh, nestling under Godfrey's coat and, as
he stooped to peer at her, lifted a baby head and licked his face.
From that hour I was to a certain extent supplanted. But Fantine
approved of me which was all I could hope. Of extraordinary
intelligence she seemed to interpret every mood of her master and
sometimes almost to anticipate his orders. The man and the dog were
indeed inseparables. If he left a room where she was sleeping it was as
though the very air she breathed had been exhausted, and she would wake
with a start and follow him instantly. The first time Warren sent her
to his country place, some fifty miles from town, he forwarded her in a
crate by express, and, the morning after she arrived he returned to
town, leaving her with the gardener. Before nightfall she was at his
office door whining for admittance. How she had found her way back no
one ever knew.
It was more than instinct. The animal seemed to feel the man as the
Martian felt the north. No mere instinct could make a dog growl in
sympathetic response to a man's moods, and yet Fantine, as I have said,
would do this very thing. Yes, and sometimes the hair on her back would
rise in silent warning against some strangera warning Warren never
disregarded. This devotion was no one-sided affair, for Godfrey was a
There! I am lapsing into the past tense again. God grant there is
no evil omen in my pen!
It all happened so suddenly. I have not yet lived down the shock
of it, and am nervous as any woman. Just now there was a noise in the
rear of the room and I leaped to my feet barely repressing a cry. I
thought the Jury were entering. But they are still talking.About what
I dare not think.
It is foolish, I suppose, to let my mind dwell on this case, but I
cannot get away from it and it calms me to talk with you in this way
and to feel your quiet sympathy. I could not sit idle in this gloomy
roomfearful to me now, and full of shadows. I should go mad.I am a
cheerful counselloram I not?
It was in the early evening of May tenth, a year ago, that Warren
passed through Washington Square with Fantine at his heels. As they
crossed the plaza on the north, a two-horse hack suddenly wheeled
through the Arch on the wrong side of the road, narrowly missing the
man and dog. Enraged at having to check his team, the driver, a burly
Irishman named Dineen, snatched up his whip and, cursing fiercely,
struck the dog with all his might. The lash wound itself about her head
and flicked out one of Fantine's eyes. With a howl she ran a few rods
down the Square and then crouched in the roadway, rubbing her bloody
eye between her paws.
In an instant Warren was at the horses' heads and the hack stopped.
Let go them horsesLet them go, I tell you! Ye won't, ye
scum?Then take that and that!
The lash fell twice on the horses' backs and Warren was thrown to
the ground, but still kept his grip upon the reins. Then the whip cut
him in the face, his hold loosened, and the team plunged forward, the
driver guiding straight for the spot where Fantine lay. An instant more
and the iron hoofs had trampled her down and the wheels of the carriage
had crushed out her life.
Dineen shook the reins over the flying horses and shouted as he
turned on his seat,
Now pick up yur dirty curyou loafin' scut you!
But his victim leaping and bounding alongside the thundering
carriage made no answer, and the laugh the fellow started was never
finished, for two strong hands gripped his throat as Warren swung up
beside him. Literally torn from his seat by the shock, the reins flew
from the driver's hands and the frightened team became a runaway. For a
moment the two men, locked in deadly grapple, were struggling on the
box. In another instant they were over the dashboard swaying to right
and left above the wheels, until at last they crashed back upon the
roof of the carriage rolling horribly to the fearful lurching of the
wheels. One moment Warren was on topanother moment he was under. Then
suddenly the wheels of the hack struck a curb and the dark mass was
hurled from the roof to the ground with a sickening thud. There was a
short struggle in the street and then Warren raised the driver's head
and dashed it fiercely against the stones.
Half an hour later he staggered into my roomsthe blood trickling
down his face and Fantine's crushed and bleeding body in his arms.
He would hear of no other counsel. In vain I begged him to retain
some criminal practitioner.
Why should I? he replied. You know the facts and believe in me.
That is all I want. Only remember this. I would rather die than be
imprisoned, and no trick or technicality shall ever clear me.
What weary months of waiting we have gone through! The Grand Jury
indicted for murder, the case has been much talked about and the
District Attorney has been veryzealous.
How my spirits rose when I found so many animal lovers among the men
summoned as jurors, and how the District Attorney and I fought for and
against them the whole of one long day! But he couldn't get rid of them
all, lass. Every man who admitted that he had no feeling for animals
possessed some other trait which made even the District Attorney fear
There were dozens of witnesses but little controversy of fact.
Without difficulty I proved that Dineen was a drunken sot of evil
reputation, who had been drinking heavily on the day of his death, and
then I placed Warren on the stand.
How splendid he looked as he faced the jury and told his story to
The District Attorney was powerless before such a witness and he
knew it. His only chance lay in the fearless candour of the man and,
God forgive him, he took it. He asked only one question.
Warren, do you feel any regret for the death of Dineen?
I sprang to my feet with an objection, but Godfrey waved me back.
In breathless silence the Court awaited his answer. The District
Attorney saw his advantage in the pause, and judging the man rightly,
spoke with a show of fairness deliberately planned to his own purposes.
You can decline to answer upon the ground that it will tend to
As he expected, Warren flushed angrily, and flashed a scornful
glance at his questioner.
What a noble sensation it must give one to convict a man of murder
by a trick!
You do not decline to answer? Then tell us, Warren, do you feel any
regret for the death of this man?
The answer was given slowly and distinctly with his face full to the
Oh, how my heart sank as I heard his words! I felt it was useless,
but I tried to soften them by explanation.
Mr. Warren, tell the jury why you have no regret for the man's
Because I saw him do foul murder which no law would reach. Because
I looked in the creature's face and saw in it something far lower than
the lowest brute, and I killed him in the same spirit as I would kill
any dangerous beast.
I suppose I should have foreseen the awful hush which followed and
prevented it with a flood of questions no matter how futile or
meaningless. But at that moment, and in this place reeking with the
breath of falsehood, his answer rang forth so true and brave that I
closed the case without another word and began my summing up to the
Dearest, I cannot now remember a single phrase I uttered. Twelve men
sat before me, but I could only see one face, and to that face I spoke.
Again and again the District Attorney interrupted, claiming that what I
said was outside the record, but I paid no heed. Behind me the crowd
was restless, and, once or twice, I think, the Justice rapped for order
with his gavel on the desk, but I never paused. This man's life was
dearer to me than life itself, yet, in that moment of supreme effort, I
Yes, I know it now, I utterly failed. But I did not realise it,
dearest, even when I heard the pitiful feebleness of my argument
exposed in the cool and cutting words of the District Attorney. Why
could I not have seen the fatal weakness of my plea before it mocked me
through the maddening calmness of the Judge's charge, to echo all these
weary hours from every nook and corner of this dreadful room!
Why did I not insist that he have some able counsel! To think that
Ihis closest friend, did not do for him what some hired advocate
could have done! His blood is on my handsthe hands he grasped as the
jurors filed from the Court Roomand I did not hide my head in shame.
How gloomy this place is. I shudder at its every shadow, and the
very air is poison. They're lighting more gas jets now. That's better.
I could not have stood it much longer.
I can at least be quiet in my humiliation. They shall not startle me
again, and I will write on calmly.
Are you ashamed of me? You must be. You believed in methought me a
man of some powernot a weakling who failed his friend. And you are
right. I will never
They are lighting the Judge's desk. I must look up
DorothyDorothy! The Jury is coming in!
* * * * *
Miss Dorothy Bentham,
Adirondacks, N. Y.
MY DEAR MISS BENTHAM:
There is no justification for these lines save the request of the
man you love, but in that you will find a reason if not excuse for
mewill you not? This, he says, is to be a postscript to some letter
telling you of the dark days we have passed and which, if it please
God, shall not have been lived through in vain.
I have no right at this time to say what has been in my heart for
you ever since my friend told me of his happiness. It is more fitting
now that I write you what I am sure he has not, and what he seems to
realise so littlehis personal triumph in this day's work.
Twice, dear Miss Dorothy, the audience broke into uncontrollable
applause during his wonderful address, and when the jury brought in
their verdict those who heard it set up a mighty cheer for him which
shook the very building. He bids me write that the jury found for
acquittal on the first ballot, and were delayed two hours by a slight
illness of one of their number. It was this period of anxious waiting,
I fear, which told upon him so sadly. Let me hasten to reassure you,
however, as to his health. He is now resting at my rooms, and to-morrow
I hope to send him to the only physician whose presence he needs, and
who, I hope, will make him take a long summer vacation.
That God may bless and keep you both is the earnest prayer of
June 6, 1896.
IN THE MATTER OF BATEMAN.
I have hesitated to tell this story because it involves confidential
relations between lawyer and client which are, of course, absolutely
sacred to all who love and honour their profession as I doand there
are many such, thank God.
But I'mwell, I'm old enough to be sensitive about my age, and not
old enough to be proud of it. Almost all my companions are
deadBateman and his enemies have passed away, and I think there ought
to be a Statute of Limitations for the relief of old lawyers who must
live on memories. Then, too, if a man has had the lessons which a
matter like this teaches, I think his experiences belong to his
But when I think of it again, there is little in what I have to tell
that will serve either as instruction or warning, because there never
was, and never will be, another case like Bateman's.
I am satisfied, however, that there is no impropriety in disclosing
the facts after all these years, and of this I trust my professional
record is sufficient guaranty.
At the time of which I write I was junior partner in the firm of
Paulding & Wainwright, and our offices were on Front Street, in the
heart of the shipping business.
Josiah Bateman had been a client of Mr. Paulding long before I was
admitted to a partnership. His Will had been in our safe for fifteen
years, but neither my partner nor I knew its terms, for the old man had
drawn it up himself. He guessed he knew enough law to give away his
property, he told us as we witnessed the instrument.
Mr. Bateman ought to have known some law. Certainly he had expended
enough money in litigation to pay for a hundred legal educations.
Indeed his genius for disputes would have made him an ideal client save
for one facthe seldom took the advice of his lawyers. It naturally
followed that his success in the Courts was by no means encouraging.
Whenever he won a suit he claimed all the credit, and if he lost, our
responsibility was voiced by the loser in a tone only a little more
offensive than his self-gratulation. People used to wonder how we got
on with the man, but we were accustomed to his vagaries, and despite
his declamations he paid handsomely and promptly for every service
As he grew older Mr. Bateman's tendency to litigate increased
tremendously and the Office Register coupled his name with every kind
of law suit from a dispossess proceeding to a knotty problem in the law
Mr. Bateman had never married, and he never spoke of his relatives
to anyone. Down-town New York knew him as a clear-headed, obstinate,
hard-working, irascible merchant who had made a great deal of money.
But there information stopped. His fortune was variously estimated from
a million up to five millionsone guess being as good as another in
the absence of any known facts.
So when the news came that Josiah Bateman was dead I think everybody
connected with our firm, from the senior partner to the office boy, was
curious to learn how the old man had left his money.
The news of his death did not reach us until a week after he had
been buried. We were then advised by letter that he had been on a
hunting trip in the Adirondacks and had become ill and died when far
away from any town. The guides seem to have known nothing about him and
he was buried at the nearest cemetery. No papers or documents were
found upon the body, and it was not until a week after his funeral that
a crumpled piece of paper was discovered in his game bag. This proved
to be one of our letters to him and we were at once put in possession
of the facts. At the same time we were informed that the body had been
exhumed and positively identified by an old friend of our client. Mr.
Paulding was away from Town on his vacation when the news came and in
his absence the responsibility for proper action devolved upon me.
The letter announcing Mr. Bateman's death arrived in the morning
mail, but I was engaged in Court all day and it was nearly seven
o'clock in the evening before I returned to the office. Letters and
papers had accumulated on my desk during my absence, but I was too
tired and hungry to attack the work they suggested, so dismissing the
clerks for the night I sought out the nearest restaurant.
All thought of Bateman's affairs had been crowded out by the events
of the day, and it was not until I had finished my after-dinner cigar
that they were recalled to me by seeing Mr. Bateman's obituary printed
in an evening paper.
It was the usual boneyard article which had doubtless been set up
in the newspaper office years before. Any way, after reading three
quarters of a column I learned nothing about the man I did not already
know, and what I knew could have been condensed into a dozen lines. It
set me thinking, however, about our queer old client. Perhaps his Will
contained some directions for the disposition of his body which should
govern my immediate instructions to the people in the Adirondacks. His
end would have been lonely enough anywhere, but up there in the silent
mountains, away from the city's bustle and battle which he loved, death
must have seemed fearful to that lonesome old man. Late as it was I
determined to return to the office and look at Mr. Bateman's Will.
I always carried a key to the front door of our office building, for
no one slept on the premises and sometimes it was important to gain
admission after the closing hour.
The streets were absolutely deserted as I left the restaurant and my
footsteps echoed upon the flagstones.
Surely down-town New York is the most dismal spot in the world at
nighta veritable city of the dead. The silent, empty streets have an
atmosphere of utter gloomthe buildings dark and forbidding stand in
gruesome solemnity or huddle together in hideous attitudes of fearthe
deserted offices here and there show a shaded light in some rear room,
but the ghastly glow only intensifies the darkness, and over all is the
silencethe awful silenceof the night. It is not the restful quiet
of sleepit is not the peaceful stillness of deathit is the horrid,
breathing, staring silence of the trance. It is the silence that makes
you stop and listenhush and whisper, or gently motion with your
finger on your lips.
The feeling of all this was upon me as I turned toward my office.
The unaccustomed stillness filled me with absurd apprehension, and
tricked me into starting at every shadow. My footsteps echoed more and
more rapidly upon the sidewalk, and louder and louder until I found
myself actually running along deserted Front Street.
I had been in the offices at night before, but I stumbled and
tripped up the familiar stairway as though the steps and the very walls
themselves had changed positions in the darkness.
I lit a lamp in our front room, but the big black shadows
transformed the well-known surroundings so that nothing seemed the
The globe on the corner shelf took the shape of some great bird
sitting gorged and sombre on its ample perchthe document cases with
their white letterings suggested dark heads and shining rows of teeth,
and the green baize doors studded with brass-nails seemed like monster
coffins set on end, each staring silently through an oval eye of glass.
I carried the lamp into my private room, but the draught from the
hall blew it out, so I closed the door before lighting it again.
In those days my private room in the rear of our office suite was
connected with the main rooms by a short hall, from which it was
separated by a green baize and glass-panelled door. In this room was
the firm safe, a cavern-like affair built into and occupying the entire
rear wall. The interior was lined with sheet iron, and the huge doors
of the same material were opened and locked with a key weighing perhaps
half a pound.
Sitting down at my desk I touched the secret spring of the drawer
containing this key. I am not a nervous man, but I had been under more
or less tension all day, and the stillness of the streets and the ugly
suggestions of the dark shadows in the outer offices had had their
effect upon my nerves, making me start as the spring snapped and the
drawer shot out. Holding the lamp in my left hand close to the safe
directly behind my chair, I fitted the huge key into the keyhole, and
unfastened the lock. The bolts turned easily, and placing the lamp upon
the desk again I pulled at the handle of the safe door. For a moment it
resisted and then swung open with a sound like a sob, emitting a breath
of cold air that chilled me and set the flame of the lamp flaring above
the chimney. It was like the damp breath of some underground tomb.
Moreover, it seemed to circle around me, blowing upon my neck and
making the papers on my desk rustle and whisper. So strong was this
impression that I swung about in my chair and stared into the blackness
at the other end of the room, and even as I did so, one of the papers
before me was silently wafted off the desk. I watched it as it floated
slowly and noiselessly towards the doorway, and when at last it settled
gently on the floor, I felt the beads of perspiration trickling down my
face. For fully a minute I must have sat peering into the darkness as
though fascinated by the gigantic shadows on the walls.
Then I laughed nervously, mopped my forehead, turned again to the
safe, and hastily took from the inner compartment a bundle of wills.
Bateman's testament was the third in the bundle. It was sealed up in a
plain envelope and the endorsement was in his own handwriting.
Will of Josiah Bateman. Dated June 10, 1855.
The papers had that musty smell peculiar to old documents, and to
which I was entirely accustomed, but that night the odor had a
sickening effect upon me. It seemed to dry up the very air and make it
suffocating with the horrible stench of decay. I stood up and stretched
my neck to get an upper stratum of air, but the whole room seemed
tainted with the foul cloying breath.
I sat down at the desk again and turned my back upon the lamp so
that the light would fall over my shoulder. With a shudder I picked up
the envelope, which seemed to reek with the unendurable odor, and as I
did so, noticed the window close beside me. Why had I not thought of
that before? I dropped the paper and rose to open the sash.
The darkness outside and the light within had turned the window pane
into a mirror reflecting the room behind me with perfect clearness. The
whole effect was fearfully weird, and for an instant it held me
spellbound. In the foreground was my own ghastly white facethe eyes
apparently gazing not into mine, but at something behind me. In the
background the lamp, the desk, the papers, and the brass-nailed green
baize door, jet black in the night light, stood out clearly.
As I stared into this reflected room, I noted a peculiar dark spot
on the oval glass panel of the door. Was it at this my mirrored eyes
seemed to look?
I knew I was in no fit condition to withstand the tricks of
imagination, so I turned, not without an effort, to ascertain what
really caused this strange reflection. But my imagination would have
served my over-wrought nerves better than the fact, for the dark spot
was unquestionably something pressed against the glass from outside the
room. Steadily I gazed at this object, and endeavored with all the
power I possessed to reason myself out of the nameless dread that had
settled down upon me.
It could not be what it seemed.Hair against the panel of that
coffin-like door was too full of horrible suggestions! It must be a mop
which had fallen against the glass.Of course it must be that. A mop,
too, would account for those damp breath stains on the glass.
Thus I reasoned, never taking my eyes off that oval pane in the
door. But as I gazed my theory fell to pieces and my reasoning stopped.
The moist spots on the glass began to expand and contract, vanish and
reappear slowly and regularly as to some heavy breathing. Every
exhalation seemed to blow that fearful odor of death toward my
After a few moments however I could no longer deceive myself, for my
eyes, accustomed to the light, made out too plainly for doubt a face
pressed close against the glass watching my every movement.
With that discovery my reason and coolness seemed to return
instantly. Without taking my eyes off the face framed in the door
panel, I slid open the drawer immediately beneath my hand, groped for,
and at last grasped, the revolver I always kept there.
At last the face withdrew from the glass, but so sure was I that no
illusion had deceived me that I waited without moving a muscle. At
length the handle turned and the door was pulled open slowly. As slowly
I turned the chamber of my revolver, touching each cartridge with my
finger. The door continued to swing cautiously, and with my elbow still
in the drawer I raised my forearm, covering the widening slit with the
muzzle of my weapon.
The door opened outward into the hall, and at first I could see
nothing of the person pulling it. Then suddenly a hand darted out and
grasped the inside knob, and at the same moment the figure of a man,
his back turned toward me, blocked the opening. Had I fired then I
could not have missed my aim, but the opportunity was so complete it
seemed murderous. The fellow paused in the doorway and seemed to listen
or look for something in the hall or rooms beyond.
I tried to speak, but my throat only responded with a dry click.
When at last I controlled my voice its utterance was a harsh whisper,
Stop where you are, or I'll fire! Don't turn or move a muscle! I
have you covered with a revolver.
The figure in the doorway started convulsively, but made no other
motion, and for a moment everything was so still I could hear my watch
ticking. Then I heard the man say,
Don't shoot, Mr. Wainwright. I'm going to face you.
My heart almost stopped beating as I recognised the voice, but the
horror of the situation did not burst upon me until Josiah Bateman
turned and stood before me under the glare of the flaring lamp.
For a moment neither of us spoke, but I noticed the haggard look of
the man, the unkempt condition of his grey hair, and his soiled and
There was no doubt that the living man stood before me, but
everything about him breathed a horrid suggestiveness. At last I
motioned to a seat and addressed him.
What does this mean?
The old man smiled wearily, but his voice was much the same as
I'm afraid I've given you a scare, without intending it, Mr.
Wainwright. I owe you an apology. But you were plucky, Sir, and
Iwell, I took some risks too.
What does all this mean? I repeated, with some annoyance in my
It's hard to tell in a few words, Mr. Wainwright, but I haven't
risen from the dead. Yes, I see you looking at my clothes, but I
haven't been inside a grave, and no undertaker has handled me yet.
Don't you think we've had enough of mysteries, Mr. Bateman? I
Surelysurely, replied the old man, but I want to give you time
to recover yourself and
I have quite recovered, thank you.
Everything but your temper, Mr. Wainwright, everything but your
temper. You need to have that in hand before giving me advice.
You seek a strange hour for consultation, Mr. Bateman. Allow me to
suggest an appointment for to-morrow morning.
No time like the present, Mr. Wainwright. I might say no time
except the present. But while we are talking of time we waste it.
Mr. Bateman's manner was usually abrupt, almost brusque, and his
present oily tone had a peculiar menace to my ears.
I cannot listen very long to-night, Mr. Bateman, so I must ask you
to explain your business at once, I answered shortly.
Certainly my dear Sir,though you can have no business more
important than this.Do you mind if I close the door? The draught is
annoying and makes your miserable lamp sputter continually.
I felt I would rather not have that door closed again, but could
give no reason, so I simply nodded.
Mr. Bateman rose and closed the door. He even slipped the bolt, but
upon this I made no comment. Then he resumed his seat, ran his hands
through his long hair once or twice, and fixing his eyes on my face
began speaking rapidly in an entirely different tone.
This is no time for details. You see I am alive, therefore the
report of my death is false. It is no case of mistaken identity. I
arranged it all. An unknown man did die in the Adirondacks. No, I did
not kill him. It was a natural death for himan opportunity for me. I
merely supplied the evidence for his identification. No need of asking
how I did it. Enough that it's done and done with practically no
confederates. The question now I suppose iswhy?
I will tell you, Mr. Wainwright. It was the only way to avoid
failurethe one chance to save me from utter financial ruin. You look
at me as though I were crazy.Well, I'm not. You think you know a good
deal of my business affairs, but you know precious little and I tell
you now, without discussing it, I had to die to make life worth living.
If I had failedwell, there's no use talking 'ifs.' The point is this.
I've been carrying a load that's pretty nearly done for me, but
which'll give me the biggest harvest I've ever reaped. The devils think
they've got me down, but I'll teach 'em who Josiah Bateman is!
The old man's eyes glittered and he struck the desk with his fist,
but his manner was no more extravagant than usual, so I only said, We
are still dealing in mysteries, Mr. Bateman.
I'm explaining as fast as I can, Sir! When I first entered upon the
deal I'm now carrying through I thought I had plenty of money for it.
But the unexpected happened again and again, and last month I began to
turn things into cash. Since then I've needed more and more money,
needed it so badly I dare not ask for it, needed it cruelly, horribly.
I've borrowed in every place where it would not ruin me to negotiate a
loanI'm at the end of my rope and I must have more money by Tuesday
By Tuesday next? I queried.
Yes. Do you know how much life insurance I carry and where?
A hundred thousand in the Equitable and a hundred thousand in the
Mutual, I replied.
Quite so he answered. Well thenI've got to have that money.
I looked at the stern, haggard face before me. Anxiety and
sleeplessness had wrought great havoc with the man.What if it had
touched his brain? He interpreted my thought instantly.
Leave your revolver alone, Mr. Wainwright! I'm quite as sane as you
are and a good bit smarter if you don't yet see my scheme.
I think I prefer not to see it or hear it either, I answered.
Nonsense, you've got to do both, and in the shortest possible time
too, for I've had to waste a week already. I observe you were about to
open my old Will. Well, it's no good. I've made another and here it is,
signed, sealed, published, declared, witnessed and all the rest of the
rot. This you will probate to-morrow morning. It appoints you my sole
executor, gives you absolute power for five years to continue and
conduct my business just as it is, leaves the bulk of my property to
clerks and charities (for I haven't got as much as a second cousin
living in the world), and it provides that my executor have one hundred
thousand dollars in lieu of his fees.
That is generous, I observed.
I think it just, he replied, taking no notice of my smile. Now
listen, he continued. By Tuesday morning you will be able to collect
on my life insurance. The proofs are complete. Yes, and genuine too.
The doctor, the undertaker, the guides, all honestly believe I'm the
corpse, and it does resemble me wonderfully. Lord, but I've sweated in
working it out! By Tuesday, I say, those Insurance Companies will be
satisfied, and they pay promptly, for the bigger the claim the better
the advertisement. But if they delay, the fact of my death will tie up
those devils who are trying to down me, for a few days at least. When
you get the cash, pay it out under my directions and we'll roast the
whole gang of them and Josiah Bateman will return to life ten times a
millionaire, for I tell you, Wainwright, this is the biggest thing
you've ever been in!
It is unique in more respects than one, I answered.
It is simplicity itself. Only the details were difficult. Even
getting here, disguised as I am, was not easy without attracting too
much notice, and
You might have saved yourself that trouble, I interrupted.
No, I had to see you to-night. To-morrow you would have probated
that old Will instead of
Writing out our resignations.
What do you mean? he gasped.
Am I not clear enough?
You don't mean to say you won't carry this thing through?
I hoped you would come to your senses, Mr. Bateman, before a
declination was necessary, I observed, keeping my eyes steadily upon
the twitching face of my client.
He stared at me for a moment in silence, and then burst out,
Nonsense, Wainwright, nonsense! You don't understand! What's the
matter with you, anyway? I have desperate need of money and cannot get
it from any ordinary channel without ruin. I so arrange that I shall be
thought dead. I have absolutely no relations. You collect my life
insurance and pay the money where I direct, and I am saved financially.
I can then return and the amount paid by the life Insurance Companies
will be refunded, and who, in God's name, is hurt?
I have heard, I began, smiling, that emergency evolves ethics,
O don't go sermonizing about ethics, and stop that silly smiling!
Either I'm crazy, in which case you ought to humour me, or sane, and
entitled to an intelligent hearing. I understand the proposition is a
new one. It is made for new facts. But that does not argue it a crime.
The only possible wrong in it is involved in the probate affidavits,
but you know in nine out of ten cases you don't comply with the
statutes in making affidavits, so there's no perjury. I only ask you to
tell a liea lie which cannot possibly hurt anybody, but which will
And incidentally help to perpetrate a fraud on the Insurance
An innocent fraud!We will return the money with interest the
moment it goes through.
And if it does not go through?
It will.It cannot fail, I tell you! But if it does, Mr. Bateman
looked me steadily in the eyes, if it does fail, no harm will be done.
I shall be dead. Before God, I swear it.
There was tragedy written on the man's earnest face, and a note of
pathos sounded in his voice. For a moment neither of us spoke.
Mr. Bateman, I said at last. Because I have listened to you, you
must not suppose I have for one instant countenanced your scheme. It is
impossible from beginning to end. Suppose we terminate this
I see it! he exclaimed suddenlyI see it! You think the plan
will fail and you take some risk for no gain in case my estate is
bankrupt. I have said that if I do not get money I am ruined. I would
not be, strictly speaking, a bankrupt. With my plans gone wrong my
estate would still amount to $75,000. Your fee is safe. I have provided
for that in the Will. Read it and see if I am not right. I cannot prove
to-night the accuracy of my figures. To that extent you must trust me.
It was pathetic to hear this rough old man pleading in such a
manner. I suddenly felt more sorry than indignant and answered him
I'm not practicing law, Mr. Bateman, merely for fees, or for only
one case. I am following it as a career.
What in hell's name has that got to do with it? he burst forth
angrily. I'm sick and tired of your hypocrisy and that of your whole
legal crew. You take cases you don't believe in, argue to prove what
you know is false, defeat the laws, shield the dishonest, help
criminals to escape, bully and insult honest men, tell lies, act lies,
live lies,do anything and everything that's safe and disgustingand
yet you prate to me about your career! Your career indeed! God save me
from the smirch and smirk of it all!
Have you quite finished, Mr. Bateman?
The old man's face was purple with rage and his hands trembled as
they clutched the arms of his chair. It was not until the look of hate
faded from his eyes that he spoke again.
No, Sir, I've not finishedbut I apologise for what I said. It was
childishfoolish. I was at the end of my patience for it seems so
unjust that you should take such a stand. I ask you to save me from
what would be ruin to me, for what should be a fortune to you. I ask
you to do no wrong to any man, woman or child in the world. I have
toiled years and years in my business. I have suffered to get what I
have, and I made every dollar honestly, by my brains alone. I have only
one ambitionhave had only one thought for yearsto die a rich
manthe successful merchant of my time. A poor ambition you think?
Well, it's my heart's desire. Take it away and I am dead. I have no
wife, no children, no relatives of any sort. Examine my Will and see
what I propose to do with my money. What have I to live for save the
joy of making? Oh, man, man, can't you understand? Don't you see what
this means to me?
I could not at once find an answer for the poor wretch, almost
frantic with anxiety. He interpreted my silence hopefully, for he
I ask you to take but little upon faith. If my plan succeeds, as it
must, no one will lose save those who in commercial venture have staked
upon my failure, and who have no idea to-day how near I am to it. The
Insurance Companies will regain their money and more advertisement than
they could get elsewhere in twenty years. If I fail, they will only
have paid the money a few days too soon. You believe that? You must
know I could not survive failure. But you need not rely on this, for
you are safe in the fact that I cannot return without facing a prison
for my few remaining years. When first I came here to-night, Mr.
Wainwright, it was to open your safe and substitute the Wills and let
you do unknowingly what I now ask and implore you to do knowingly.You
will do it, will you not?
Mr. Bateman,once and for all,I will not.
You won't help me? Then, by God, you shan't hinder me!
I sprang to my feet, but before I understood what was taking place I
saw a flash, and one of the window panes behind me shattered. Almost at
the same instant I launched myself upon the old man with such force
that we both crashed to the floor, I upon his prostrate body. The
struggle was brief, for I was young and powerfully built, and the man
beneath me well advanced in years. Pinning his arms with my knees I
tore the revolver from his hand and hurled it across the room. Then he
ceased struggling and I turned him over easily, tying his arms with my
handkerchief. But there was little need of this precaution, for his
strength was gone, and it was necessary to help him into a chair. Some
moments passed before he said anything. When he spoke there were tears
in his voice.
Forgive me, Mr. Wainwright. I don't know what possessed me. The
disappointmentthe disappointment of a life's work must have suddenly
crazed me. But I am sane now and I was before. Everything I told you is
true.I know it is impossible now to hope for anything.Will you take
me to a hospital? I am a sick man, Mr. Wainwrighta very sick man, but
I do not wish to live. EverythingI told youis true.
* * * * *
Ten days later Josiah Bateman died at the hospital where I took him
It is a singular case, the House Physician told me, but not
unheard of. He simply lacked the zest for living.
Mr. Bateman's second Will was never probated. A few days before he
died he sent for it.
What is to-day? he asked as I gave him the document.
Wednesday, I answered.
It is too late now, he whispered. I have lived too long. I revoke
this. He tore the paper as he spoke.
We proved the old Will, but he had perfected his plans only too
well. It was difficult to make out a case of mistaken identity for the
body in the Adirondacks, and it was months before we established our
rights to the insurance moneys. His estate did not realise quite
$100,000, but after a close examination into his affairs I am persuaded
all Josiah Bateman claimed he could accomplish was possible, and that
everything he told me that night was absolutely true.
THE FINDING OF FACT.
But their wild exultation was suddenly checked,
As the Jailer informed them with tears,
Such a verdict would not have the slightest effect,
As the pig had been dead for some years.
Anything on this morning, Counsellor?
The title was still music to Holden's ears, so he smiled
encouragingly at the fat reporter. In an instant a bethumbed court
calendar was shoved under his nose and the reportorial pencil
Grafton against the Milling Companies? Are you in that? Say,
what's doing there to-day? Is it any good?
The reportorial arm was slipped confidentially through his, and
Holden thus accompanied threaded his way through the crowded rotunda of
the County Court House.
Hellomust be something up in Holden's office. Look at that leech
Plimpton glued to him!
YesGrafton against The Milling Companies.
Good Lord! Is that on? I might as well go back to the office then.
We'll never be reached to-day.
That's right. We're not ready, so thank goodness they're ahead of
us. It's a dandy case,wish we had it.
Think I'll stay and hear the arguments.Old man Harter's in fine
form, they say.
So the managing clerks talked as they leaned against the walls of
the rotunda or sat upon the railing of the Well.
It is an interesting place that rotundaa trifle impossible,
perhaps, from an academic point of view,but still an interesting
It is the big noisy ante-chamber to the stuffy court rooms of a big
noisy city. It has an atmosphere of tobacco, shirt sleeves and
hurryan atmosphere of the peopleits architecture is big and
plainan architecture for the people, and its dirt and smears bespeak
a daily use and occupation by the people.
To the casual visitor the same persons seem to live in it all the
year round. To the habitué the masses are kaleidoscopicnever and yet
ever the same. Messengers,process-servers, office boysall the
fledglings of the law gather there in groups and blow cigarette smoke
into each other's faces. Court officials loll about the railing
patronising the managing clerks, who must cultivate them or yield all
claims to management. Big-girthed men hold one another by watch chains
and lapels and tell loud-mouthed stories of their triumphant practice.
Bloated gentlemen and shifty seek out corners to breathe moist secrets
into each other's ears. But heedless of all these a hurrying crowd is
ever streaming this way and thathere a haggard face and there a
laughing onenow a brutal type and now a mask of breedingso they
goshuffle, shuffle, click-a-clack, all day long, outside the halls of
Holden pushed open the swinging doors labelled
and entered a small court room crowded to suffocation. Every seat
was occupied and men were standing about everywherejammed in between
the chairsplastered against the wallcrushed against the rail. The
counsels' table and its two chairs were the only unoccupied bits of
furniture in the room.
The Court criers glanced despairingly at the throng and shouted
mechanically, Gentlemen will please take seats! and then, more
hopefully, Gentlemen will please stop talking!
But the babel of conversation was finally hushed by an attendant who
announced the entrance of the Judge by pounding with an ample fist upon
the panels of a door. Not a very dignified heralding of the presence of
the Court, but understood by the late comers whose view is limited to
the judicial canopythat pall-like canopy of red rep which sets one
panting to gaze with relief at the steam-screened windows. They at
least are wet.
Grafton vs. The Milling Companies!
Holden fought his way like a foot-ball player through the rush
line of lawyers, and as he pitched into the cleared space before the
counsels' table his impulse was to dodge the one man before him and
race down the side-line. But he checked himself in time. Then two
other young men plunged into the open and stood somewhat breathlessly
before the Bench.
If it please the Court, began Holden, this is a motion in a case
of great importance and
All cases are equally important in this Court, Sir!
I recognise that, your Honour, but I was about to say
Well, well, never mind! Are you ready?
Yes, Sir, but I was about to tell your Honour
That'll do, Sir!
That Mr. Harter, who is to argue this motion, thinks it will take
Ah, Mr. Harter? Well, his opinions are interesting, of course, but
not quite conclusive on this Court. Not necessarily conclusive. Eh?
A titter from the crowd acknowledged this retort. Is there anything
so irresistibly infectious as the wit of the Bench?
The other young men then came to the rescue of their fellow clerk.
This is such an old, old play that every one knows his cue.
Col. Partridge thinks he will need half an hour, your Honour.
Col. Partridge? Ah,well,what does the other side say?
Mr. Coates thinks he will take twenty minutes more.
UmMr. Coates? Tellertell Mr. Harter I'll take it up as soon
as the cases ahead of it are disposed of. No cases after Grafton
vs. The Milling Companies will be heard before two o'clock.
Morton vs. Sheldon, are you ready?
The defendant's Counsel has just stepped into the hall. If your
Honour will hold it a moment
This Court waits for no one, Sir. Its time belongs to the People.
Motion dismissed. Vone vs. Taunton. What's that about?
It's a motion to change the place of trial, if the Court please.
Well, hand in your papers.
But I'd like to be heard, your Honour. This means much to my
Now, Mister,erMistererCounsellor, what is the use of
arguing that? I know all about itI have hundreds of such casesand
seldom grant them. Hand up your papers.
Will not the Court allow me
No, Sir; no, Sir! That'll do! Hand up your papers.Grafton
vs. The Milling Companies! Ah, Mr. Harter; good-morning, Sir.
Officer, get Mr. Harter a chair. Good-morning, Colonel Partridge, how
are you to-day, Sir? We are all ready now, I think, Mr. Coates? Yes?
Well, no other cases will be heard this morning.
And the Judge leans back in his comfortable swing-chair, and beams
in courteous attention upon the distinguished counsel.
If the Court please, begins Mr. Coates, this is a case of great
Yes, his Honour knows its importance. He has gathered this from the
retainer of Messrs. Harter and Partridge and Coates, and the reporters
know its importance as they scribble on their pads, and the newspaper
artists know it as they sketch illustrations for the story, and the
Court officials know it reflecting his Honour on the Bench. But the one
who knows it best of all is the grey-haired plaintiff, Grafton, who
sits behind Mr. Harter and listens with a puzzled air to the learned
To Grafton the case was indeed important. It involved all he had in
the world. It had seemed a simple case to him when he first brought it
to his attorney, but matters had not gone smoothly from the start.
Delay and postponement were followed by more delay and further
The defendants were putting up a stiff fight, his attorney told
him. What about? Well, they had demurred, or counterclaimed, or
made a motion, or appealed,had done some of these things, or all
of themgoodness knows just whatit was not very clear.
Why couldn't his case be tried? Well, they were stayed by appeal,
or enjoined pending a motion, or were stricken off the calendar.
Some of these things, or all of them, had happened. But the fact was,
his attorney told him, the defendant's Counsel stood in too well with
the Courthe really ought to retain Mr. Harter.
So Mr. Harter was retained, and the case bristled with nice legal
points and pretty questions of practice, to the utter amazement of
Grafton, who blindly stumbled along in the ruck of the legal battle,
hopelessly confused and growing daily more and more anxious, like the
suitor in Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce.
But such a case as Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce could never
happen in New York, because, as any lawyer can tell you, there is no
Court of Chancery, or anything like
Well, there is no Court of Chancery.
The argument of Mr. Coates was ably sustained, and Mr. Harter's
reply was so masterly that Col. Partridge said in his rejoinder that
nothing but his knowledge of the law kept him from being persuaded.
The Court laughed, and the officials laughed, and the listening Bar
laughed. Everyone laughed except Grafton, who had no sense of humour,
But at last it was over.
Well, Mr. Grafton, I hope you are satisfiedI feel sure his Honour
was with us.... Holden, hand up your brief.... It was very good,
Sir.... Mr. Grafton, this is young Mr. Holden of our office who wrote
the brief for you on the motion to-dayand wrote it well, too.
Holden blushed like a school-girl as he shook Mr. Grafton's hand. It
was no small thing to be praised by Mr. Harter at any time, but about
Grafton vs. The Milling Companies, it was positive
Mr. Harter was right about the Court being with him, for the
plaintiff won that motion.
He was right again in the two appeals which followed the decision.
He was right on several other like occasions and won no less than six
different motions and five appeals by the end of the next three years.
But the case didn't get to trial.
It was then that Grafton began to grow surly and instead of
congratulating Mr. Harter on his triumphant practice, snapped out that
such practice made perfect fools of honest men.
Which was decidedly ungrateful as well as impolitic.
However, he sensibly gave up trying to follow the maze of procedure,
and hammered away with expostulation and question at the fact that the
case wasn't tried.
With less wisdom he took to talking about the litigation with his
friends and neighbourswith lawyers at the Clubwith officials in the
Courtwith clerks in the officewith anyone and everyone who would
listen, until he bored them beyond politeness and began to get snubbed.
But the case itself was less interesting than at first. Almost all the
fine points of practice had been exhausted and only the dry fodder of
Harter hadn't appeared in Court with it for many a day and plainly
intimated that he'd retire altogether if Grafton didn't stop boring
him. But in Holden the plaintiff always had an interested listener.
Ever since the morning when Mr. Harter had praised his work Holden had
studied the case in every phase and knew its every detail. So when, a
few months after he set up in practice for himself, Grafton brought him
all the papers and made him his sole attorney, Holden knew no words
with which to express his thanks.
He had always despised the flagging interest of his seniors.
Doubtless they had done their bestMr. Harter and the attorney, but
despite their fruitless efforts he felt his ability to push the matter
to a successful issue. It was a great case, and there was his chance,
and into it he threw himself with all the splendid enthusiasm of his
youth and strength. He pressed his adversaries this way and that,
worried them with unending work and harassed them with ceaseless attack
until he saw his case actually set down for trial on a day certain.
Then his excitement knew no bounds. He worked hour after hour with
Grafton's witnesses, prepared schedules and accounts, compiled digests
of testimony and indices of all the papers, made himself an expert
bookkeeper and a master-expert on every detail of Grafton's business.
He raised every question that legal ingenuity could conjure up, and
every quibble that cunning could devise and met them in his
trial-briefthe work of months of careful study. There was no
suggestion of a defence which was not ferreted out and run down by
question and answerno technicality neglected, until at length even
Grafton laughingly protested.
My dear boy, let's leave it alone now! There's no one can beat you
on either the facts or the law.
But Holden wouldn't leave it alone. They were already talking about
the approaching trial in the rotunda, and this was his start in life.
So night and day he studied and planned with the increasing confidence
which comes of perfect preparation.
At last they were in the Court crowded with witnesses, counsel,
litigants and reporters.
Would there be another adjournment? Not if he could help it, and
Holden squared his jaw and looked determination at the veteran Mr.
Grafton vs. The Milling CompaniesHow long will that
About two daysyour Honour, I think. Holden's voice fairly
faltered as he answered glancing at the witnesses clustered near him
and the immense pile of books and papers.
But Mr. Coates did not dissent. He was ready.
At last! At last they were at trial.
Then no other matters will be heard to-day. Grafton vs.
The Milling Companies. Proceed with your case, Sir.
But Mr. Coates had arisen and was addressing the Court.
I think it only right to say to your Honour that I shall not
interpose any defence in this action. The Milling Companies made an
assignment last night, and I only represent the Assignee. The gentleman
will, of course, take our default, but I should hardly think he would
occupy the whole day.
Holden stared silently at the speaker. The familiar scene darkened,
faded, disappeared and flared up in a new light completely transforming
ita strange room with strange peoplea stage setting in the white
unmasking light of day.A mocking face leered at him from a raised
daismocking figures elbowed him with impatient scornmocking fingers
pointed at him with derisive joyfat clammy hands touched his breast
and pushed him from the rail over which he glared with the most
desperate hatred known to the worldthe hatred of a man against
Then someone burst out laughing.
What does he mean, Holden?
Grafton's voice sounded a mile away, but the words of Belden,
Coates' clerk, were clear enough as he whispered in Holden's ear:
Wasn't it great? Kept you all off for over three years without a
ghost of a defence! Our people only wanted time to get things fixed and
we got it for them all right enough, I guess. Give you a dime for your
judgment! I tell you
But Holden suddenly struck Belden across the mouth and was promptly
adjudged guilty of contempt of Court.Of which the payment of his fine
did not purge him, an order of the Court to the contrary
A CONCLUSION OF LAW.
This story will not be understood by half the people who read it and
the other half will not believe it, so it should be perfectly
Hartruff, it is true, took offence when Norris told it in his
presence,but trust Norris for picking out the hundredth man. He has
about as much tact as Hartruff has conscience, so they are admirably
adapted for mutual misunderstanding.
They encountered in the smoking-room of the Equity Club after lunch,
where the usual number of lawyers were gathered to bore one another
with dissertations on their respective cases. One can sometimes obtain
useful information by listening to a good deal of tiresome boasting,
but the real reward for enduring long blasts of someone else's horn is,
of course, the privilege of blowing your own. Norris, however, cared
nothing for performances of this kind, and the first professional toot
was, as a rule, the signal for his departure.
The man who doesn't boast is apt to be popular, but the man who
won't listen to boasting is invariably disliked. Norris was not
popular, and the loudest performers hinted that he hadn't any practice
to talk about. What induced him to depart from his usual custom on this
particular occasion I do not know, unless, as I have said, it was his
fatal genius for picking out the hundredth man.
Groton had been discoursing for twenty minutes on his triumphant
progress through a case with which all his hearers were supposed to be
familiarfor Groton thinks a breathless world watches his careerwhen
he happened to mention somebody as being of no political importance.
There isn't any such person, interrupted Norris.
Groton stopped and looked at the speaker in surprise.
I didn't mean to interrupt you, Groton, continued Norris, I've a
bad habit of thinking aloud. Go on with what you were saying.
Groton resumed his recital, and when at last his story reached the
Court of Appeals and the final discomforture of all his opponents he
turned indulgently to Norris.
And now tell us, Norris, why you say there is no one politically
I was thinking of an experience Jack Holcomb had a few years
You remember Jack Holcombdon't you? No? Well, he practised here
for many years. He wasn't much of a lawyer, but he had the faculty of
making his clients believe he was, which is quite as effective. Barney
McCarren was introduced to him by some real-estate broker, and though
any lawyer could have accomplished what Holcomb did for McCarren, yet
such was his way of doing it that the man swore by him ever afterward.
Barney McCarren was the proprietor of two or three little
oyster-stands in the lower part of the City. As may be imagined he was
not a person of any great wealth. He was of so little prominence in the
down-town ward where he had lived all his life, that even his immediate
neighbours only knew him as a quiet, self-supporting man, who devoted
himself to his family and interfered with no one.
Well, McCarren came to Holcomb one day some years ago and said that
a judgment had been entered against him by the District Attorney's
office on a forfeited bail bond. It appeared that one of his neighbours
had been arrested for assault, and Barney, having a small piece of real
estate, became bail for him. When the case was called for trial,
however, the prisoner failed to appear, and consequently McCarren's
small property was in peril. High and low he searched for his
principal, but a month elapsed before Barney chanced upon the fellow.
They saw one another at the same moment, and instantly a chase began,
which lasted until the fugitive tripped on the Canal Street car tracks
and McCarren fell on top of him and hauled him to the nearest police
station. A little later the man was put on trial and acquitted, and at
that stage of the proceedings Barney sought Holcomb's aid. The matter
was, of course, a very simple one, and Holcomb assured his client he
would have the property cleared of the judgment forthwith. To this end
he prepared the proper papers, which, as you know, include a receipt
from the Sheriff showing payment of all the fees of that official.
Holcomb therefore looked up the matter in the Code and found the
proper fee was fifty cents. Then he went to the Deputy in charge of the
case and presented the certificate for signature, at the same time
tendering the statutory amount. The man read through the papers and
then pointed to the money Holcomb had placed on the table.
'What's that for?' he asked insolently.
'It's your fee,' explained Holcomb.
'It ain't my fee.'
'Well, what is your charge then?'
'Fifty dollars, I guessabout fifty dollars.'
'You are very much mistaken. Here is the section regulating the
'Aw, what do I care about the statue?The fee's fifty plunks I
'And I tell you, my friend, I will not pay it!' answered Holcomb,
growing angry at the man's insolent manner. 'I will pay you half a
dollar and not one cent more.'
'Then yer don't get the certif. See?'
'I'll see that I get it at once and teach you a lesson at the same
Holcomb swung angrily out of the room and made straight for the
Sheriff's private office. He knew the Sheriff well, and handing his
card to the door-keeper was immediately ushered into the room, where he
reported the actions of the Deputy. The Sheriff was indignant and rang
the bell sharply.
'Send Mulqueen to me at once.'
Mulqueen reported immediately and as soon as he had entered the
room and closed the door the Sheriff turned on him angrily.
'What does this mean, Mulqueen? Here is Mr. Holcomb, who says you
demand $50 for a matter covered by a fifty-cent charge. You must be
crazy, man! What do you mean by it?'
'Fifty dollars is the feeSheriff,' answered the man sullenly.
'It is not, Sir! I have looked at the Code, which Mr. Holcomb says
he showed you. Make out the certificate instantly, and I'll take up
your case later.'
'Can I speak to you for a momentSheriff?' asked the Deputy.
'Yesgo ahead,' snapped the official.
Holcomb moved to the window to be out of hearing, and the man
shuffling up to the desk whispered a few words in the Sheriff's ear.
When the lawyer looked into the room again the Deputy had disappeared
and the Sheriff was gazing at the pattern of the rug under his desk.
'I'm awfully sorry, Holcomb,' he began, without looking at his
visitor, 'but I findbut the fact is,the Deputy is quite right. The
fee isis fifty dollars.'
Holcomb stared at the official in amazement.
'The Deputy right!' he exclaimed after a pause. 'Why, what's the
matter with you, Townly? Here's the lawyou just quoted it yourself!'
'I know, I know,' muttered the Sheriff, turning his head and gazing
out of the window, 'but I was mistakenI find I was mistaken.'
'But I am not mistaken,' persisted Holcomb. 'You must be bewitched!
I don't understand.'
'Well, don't try to, old man. I'd do anything for youyou know,
but I can't do this.'
'I don't want you to do anything for me!' interrupted Holcomb,
indignantly. 'I only want you to enforce the law as you find it, and
He paused, feeling that he might say too much.
'You'll have to excuse me,' murmured the Sheriff, impatiently, 'I'd
do anything to oblige, but really, this time'
Holcomb gazed at the man in silence for a momentnodding his head
in comprehending pity and contempt, and left the room without another
When did you say your friend dreamed all this rot?
It was Hartruff who roughly interrupted the story.
At the sound of his voice Norris turned his gaze toward the window,
and continued looking out of it while he answered slowly:
Why do you think he dreamed it? Have you heard the rest of the
Nobut anyone can see what's coming.
Is it such an every-day affair with you? So much the less reason
for thinking Holcomb dreamed it.
Hartruff laughed contemptuously.
O, well, never mindgo on with your tarradiddle.
You will pardon me then for telling what must, of course, be
commonplace to a member of the General Committee?
O, go to the devil!
You forget yourself, my dear Hartruff. Why direct me to
headquarters, when his deputies are members of decent down-town clubs?
Come, come, gentlemen, interposed Lawton, this is going too far.
Precisely what I just remarked to Hartruff, drawled Norris.
Hartruff saw the smile on the faces of the company, and rose from
I will leave this gentleman to continue his pipe-dreaming, advising
him, however, that it is a dangerous practice.
Is that a warning, Hartruff? If so, write it out, please. Those
warnings always look so much fiercer in mis-spelled words signed with
crosses. But I forget, your Organisation never puts itself on paper.
Nobut it puts itself on record!
Makes its mark, you mean? Well, that's merely a defect of early
education, easily overcome with men like you to guide its fist.
Take care you don't feel the weight of it.
My dear Hartruff, haven't they taught you yet to keep your teeth on
your temper? Really, you'll never rise from the ranks unless you learn
to smile and smile and,wellyou'd better learn to smile.
Hartruff turned on his heel, strode to the door and slammed it
When Holcomb left the Sheriff, continued Norris calmly, he
promptly sent for his client Barney McCarren and explained the entire
situation to him. McCarren expressed no surprise, but when Holcomb
announced his intention of bringing mandamus proceedings to compel the
Sheriff to give the required certificates, Barney laid a protesting
hand on his counsel's arm.
'Shure 'tis no use, Counsellor,' he said. 'I was afraid you
couldn't do anything, but I knew if you couldn't, nobody could.'
'What do you mean by its being no useand why should you be
afraid? I'm going to get out papers this instant and show those
'Please don't do it, Sir. At least not until I come again.'
'For goodness' sake, why not, man? It shan't cost you a cent.'
'It isn't that, Sir. ButwellI shouldn't have troubled youI
might have known'
'Might have known what?'
'That they'd lay for me.'
'For not attending meetings at the Club.'
'The District Club.'
Then it came out, bit by bit, that McCarren had been a 'regular' in
the Organisation and a member of the District Club. During the last
year, however, he had wearied of the proceedings and had absented
himself from the meetings. At the last election he hadn't voted. The
District Leader had spoken to him once jokingly about his absence from
the meetings, and once, not jokingly, about his absence from the
polls.'I knew they had it up for me,' concluded McCarren resignedly.
'Well, don't you let them frighten you, Barney. I'll soon show them
they can't play with the law.'
'You mustn't do it, Sir. You really mustn't do it.'
Holcomb argued and expostulated at length. He explained to his
client that the Courts would not permit such violations of the law, and
that the legal proceedings would be free of cost. He showed him that
prompt action would not only gain him his rights, but would make them
respected in future. He urged his personal and professional interest in
the matter and begged his client to take action. But all in vain.
McCarren knew he'd win the lawsuitbut there were his oyster-stands
for which licenses were necessary. He'd like to stand up for his
rightsbut he wanted his children to get into the schools next Fall.
He knew how Mr. Holcomb felt about the matterbut it helped out for
his wife to continue as janitoress of the tenement where they
lived.In a word there were a hundred points where the Powers could
and would reach him. He couldn't afford it!
Holcomb looked hopelessly at his client, and seeing the
disappointment in his face, McCarren tried to soften the effect of his
'Waitjust wait a few days, Sir. Then maybe I'll come and see you
about it again.'
At the end of a week he came.
'Will you take up that matter again, Mr. Holcomb?' he said, 'Try it
once more just as though'he hesitated a moment'just as though I
hadn't asked you before.'
Holcomb 'took it up again' with the same papers he had prepared the
first time, and called on the Sheriff's deputy.
'I want a receipt for your fees in this case,' he said, laying the
papers before the official and placing a fifty-cent piece on his desk.
The man read the papers slowly, thoughtfully inserted the date and
blotted the ink. Then he signed the Sheriff's name by his own and
handed the papers to Holcomb.
'There ain't no fees in this case,' he said, as he pushed the
fifty-cent piece toward the lawyer.
'I think you are mistaken. There is the statutory fee on 'entering
'There weren't nothing done in this case.'
Holcomb entered the proper order and returned to his client.
'How did you do it, Barney?' he asked.
'How did I do it, Sir?'
'I didn't do anything.'
'But why was it matters went so smoothly to-day? You must have used
'No, Sir,that iswell,I think the Leader saw me at Tuesday's
* * * * *
Young Hudson was the first to break the silence which followed
I've always said, he began, that some of the most annoying things
in practice come from the obstinacy of clients. Now I had a case
If a man wants to get blackmailed, interrupted Harlow, there's no
law in the land to prevent or protect him.
I guess Holcomb put on too much 'side' with that deputy, commented
Truslow. Those fellows are easy enough to handle if you only go about
it in the right way. Now I had occasion one time to need
I don't believe any Sheriff would make such a break as to call down
a deputy without inquiring about the inside facts, interrupted Patton.
You take my word for it, Norris, there's something wrong with that
Norris looked straight at the speaker.
You're right, he answered, there is something wrong with that
I knew there was. What?
The dates and the names. It happened yesterday and I was the
lawyer. I told it to you men because you're Members of the Bar,
interested in the administration of justice and the maintenance of law.
I'm glad I did so, if only to learn we're so accustomed to such things
nowadays that we see nothing in them but the obstinacy of clients and
the need of jollying petty officials. Isn't it a pretty commentary that
the only doubt cast upon the truth of this story is that the Sheriff
should have failed to inform himself of the conspiracy? Such things are
going on every day and we wink at them if we don't actually aid and
abet them to facilitate our private business. A fearful tyranny sways
this whole city, clutching or shadowing the tenements, brutalising the
prisons, frustrating the lawswasting the treasurycorrupting the
courtsand we not only suffer it, but we tolerate the men of education
who associate themselves with such workallow them to be members of
our clubs and degrade ourselves until
Sayold manhire a hall for next Tuesday evening and I'll take a
ticket. Honest I will. But I've got to leave you now and get back to
Lawton rose and smiled good-naturedly at Norris, whose crimsoned
face bespoke repentance of his sudden outburst.
The other members followed Lawton's example, and soon there was no
one left in the room except Norris and Silent Bancroft.
For some moments neither man spoke. Then Bancroft rose and rolling
his cigar between his fingers thoughtfully studied its glowing ashes.
Say, Norris, he began slowly, do youdo you attend primaries?
Um,I thought not, remarked the old gentleman as he walked toward
THE BURDEN OF PROOF.
It had been snowing ever since the Buffalo express left New York,
but the Pullman car passengers, comfortably housed, were no more
conscious of the weather than they were of each other. When the train
stopped unexpectedly at a flag station, the whispering of the
snowflakes against the window-panes made itself heard, and the presence
of the passengers made itself felt. The car instantly became a room
whose occupants discovered one another at the same moment, and sat
staring into each other's faces with all the gloom of fellow-patients
in a doctor's office. The silence was embarrassing and absurd. A
nervous passenger coughed to relieve the tension, and felt himself
flushing under the concentrated attention of the entire company. A
woman leaned forward to speak to her neighbour, but stopped as though
conscious of some indecorum. Then everyone sat perfectly quiet, and the
slow throb of the engine was the only sound from the frosty world
At last the conductor opened the door, and the passengers gazed at
him as if they had never seen his like before. When he stamped the snow
off his feet they watched him with a charmed intensity. When he spoke
they started perceptibly.
Anybody named Glenning in this car?
All eyes centred on the speaker, a middle-aged, well-dressed,
commonplace man occupying a corner chair.
A telegram for you, Sir.
Mr. Glenning slowly adjusted his glasses, peered at the address on
the yellow envelope, took a penknife from his pocket and cut the flap
with great deliberation.
The passengers watched his face with the breathless interest of an
audience viewing the climax of some mighty drama where every movement
of the actors must be noted. But Mr. Glenning read the message without
the slightest change of expression.
If you want to send an answer you can do it. We wait here for a few
I'll tell you in a moment.
Mr. Glenning took from his vest-pocket a small, red book with
indexed margin, opened it about the middle, ran his finger down the
edge, stopped toward the foot of the page and said:
No answer. Any charge? No? Thank you.
The audience gave vent to its relief in a relaxing stir and rustle.
Mr. Glenning picked up his newspaper and began to read. The engine
whistled two sharp warnings, the wheels slipped once or twice on the
icy rails, the whispering of the snowflakes hushed and the inmates of
the flying Pullman once more forgot each other.
When the train reached Albany the last passenger to leave the car
picked up the telegram which Mr. Glenning had crumpled and thrown upon
the floor. But his curiosity was only partly satisfied by reading:
Mr. John Glenning,
Passenger on No. 44. Effervescent Albany.
Had he possessed Mr. Glenning's code he would not have been much
wiser, for the translated message simply read as follows:
The party wanted is in Albany.
Messrs. Constable, Glenning and Hertzog were engaged in the general
practice of the law, but Hertzog was the only lawyer in the
partnership. The others were merely members of the Bar.
Mr. Constable's aptitudes lay in the line of drumming up business.
He was known, although he did not know it, as the barker for the
firm. He belonged to eight clubs; he was identified with fourteen
charities, among which he counted three chairmanships; he was in the
vestry of a prosperous church and on the Visiting Board of two
hospitals; sixteen corporations published his name as a director, and
the same sixteen acknowledged his firm as Counsel. Mr. Constable was in
the public eye.
Mr. Glenning was not in the public eye, but he had its ear, provided
public was spelled with a capital P and the right political party was
in power. Mr. Glenning had been a member of the firm for twenty years,
which proved that the right political party generally was in power.
What his functions were no one seemed to know, but unquestionably he
was a very busy man. A very serious, earnest believer too in his
profession was Mr. Glenning, and impatient of the silly slights and
slurs ever ready on the tongues of the outsiders. Thus when an alleged
wit said something about more cases being decided at the trench than
at the Bench, Mr. Glenning, who dined more with the Judges and knew
them better than any other man in town, snubbed the speaker and
disposed of his remark as a sneer of the unsuccessful.
Everybody understood Hertzog's work. It used to be said that his two
best clients were Constable and Glenning, but then people are always
saying bitter things for want of better.
Mr. Constable was a florid-faced, white-whiskered, well-dressed
little man, bright, quick and full of energy. There were those who
considered him pompous, and it is true he regarded himself very
seriously. But most people took him at his own estimate. In the outer
office his manner was sharp, short and decisive; in the inner office he
was silent, impressive and indecisive. That is to say he listened
thoughtfully, earnestly, sympathetically, intelligently,
comprehendinglyin any and every way that inspires confidence, but no
one ever lured him into expressing an off-hand opinion. His decisions
were always decisions reserved.Reserved for Hertzog, muttered
the unsuccessful.But luckily Mr. Constable never heard them, for,
like Mr. Glenning, he was intolerant of flippancy in every form. He was
also intolerant of details.
If anything went wrong in the office Mr. Constable shook off all
responsibility for it. That is a detail of which I know nothing, was
his ever present phrase in time of trouble, and this, accompanied by a
wave of his hands, cleared the atmosphere in his vicinity. A detail in
Mr. Constable's meaning was anything uncomfortable to remember. That
is a detail with which I do not charge my memory, he would say, and he
was never contradicted.
There was no firm in the city more prominent than Constable,
Glenning and Hertzog, and none more highly esteemed. Possibly Mr.
Constable emphasised this a little too often, but perhaps his
insistence impressed some of the very people who pretended to laugh at
it. A firm of our standing, was another of his pet phrases, and on
this he rang the changes with such genuine pride that those who did not
envy readily forgave him the touch of conceit.
Still there were those who would not have grieved had the firm lost
its standing in the Hydroid Fibre case. But the mud there only reached
Horton, the office Notary Public, and he went to Sing Sing for his
It was at the annual meeting of the great Hydroid Fibre Co., during
a bitter fight for control, that one of the stockholders repudiated a
proxy bearing his name and carrying votes in favour of Mr. Constable.
The signature was an evident forgery, and ugly things were said.
Horton, the Notary Public who had witnessed the paper and taken the
signer's acknowledgment, was sent for, but could give no adequate
Mr. Constable, though dumfounded at the disclosure, acted with
commendable promptness. He instantly ordered the arrest of Horton and
silenced accusation by placing himself in the hands of his counsel, Mr.
Hertzog, and demanding an investigation. This inquiry clearly
demonstrated that Mr. Constable controlled more votes than were
necessary without the disputed shares. Horton swore that the bogus
stockholder had been properly identified, and claimed that he had been
artfully imposed upon, but of this there was absolutely no proof. Not a
trace of the swindler could be found.
But the firm did not rest satisfied with this vindication. A clerk
in the office had proved untrustworthy, and of him it was determined to
make an example.
The District Attorney's office was not a little proud of the short
work it made of Horton's case, and Messrs. Constable, Glenning &
Hertzog, each in his own way, complimented the officials on having
promptly closed what threatened to be quite a scandal, involving the
fair name of the firm.
But Horton's case would not stay closed, and it was that which was
Horton's counsel, Barton Mackenzie, was one of those irrepressible
persons who answer defeat with defiance, and gather courage with every
fresh discouragement. But Mackenzie built up a record of disaster in
Horton's case which surpassed anything he had ever experienced before.
He was defeated before the Police Magistrate and Horton was held for
the Grand Jury, which promptly indicted him on half a dozen different
charges. At the trial the presiding Justice ruled steadily against him,
and the verdict of the jury adjudged his client guilty. Another judge
refused a certificate of reasonable doubt, and Horton went to Sing
Sing with his case still on appeal. Eight weeks slipped by and then the
Appellate Division affirmed the conviction. Three months later
Mackenzie argued his client's cause before the Court of Appeals in
Albany, but Horton had served nearly six months of his sentence before
that tribunal decided he had been legally convicted. This brought
Mackenzie to a stand-still for a while, though Hertzog thought he
recognised his hand in the subsequent badgering of Mr. Constable and
the Hydroid Fibre Co.
One of those insignificant five-share stockholders, the pest of
every corporation, began to worry the company with ceaseless questions,
demanding every possible privilege accorded by the statutes. Who he
was, or how he got his shares, was a detail of which Mr. Constable
regretfully admitted he knew nothing, and Glenning, exploring every
underground passage known to politics, could not run the thing to
This irrepressible shareholder examined the list of stockholders,
obtained statements of the treasurer, called for papers and
particulars, and made a general nuisance of himself. His specialty,
however, was interviewing President Constable. Hardly a week passed
without his calling on this official.
Here's that five-share man again, Mr. Constable would say,
slipping into Mr. Hertzog's private room. Shall I see him?
Of coursesee him.
You willerdrop in?
Noconfound it! You've seen him with me often enough. What have
you got to worry about?
Nothing. Nothing, of coursebut
Well, see him!
Then Mr. Constable gaining confidence from his Hebrew partner's
shrewd face would answer decisively:
Very well, I will see him.
But in his own private office the President would be apt to run his
fingers along the inside of his collar, as though it choked him,
muttering, Damn this business! before he pushed his bell and ordered
in his visitor.
Mr. Constable was subjected to another constant annoyance. Several
of the daily papers invariably coupled his name with some reference to
the Horton case. A paragraph announcing his election to a trusteeship
would identify him as the President of the Hydroid Fibre Co., who
recently had a most unfortunate experience with a Notary Public now
serving sentence in Sing Sing. Or, if his name appeared in some
list, the paragrapher would add: Mr. Constable, it will be
remembered, disposed of quite a serious charge in the Hydroid Fibre
matter, some of the parties now being in Sing Sing.
It was incessant, intolerable, and intangible.
But one evening, in an after-dinner chat, Mr. Glenning had a short,
whispered conference about the matter with a city official, and the
city official dropped a hint next day to his advertising agent which
must have reached the city editors, for the squibbing stopped.
However, when Mr. Constable resigned from the Presidency of the Hydroid
Fibre Co., the paragraphers took occasion to revive the whole story.
Then, as though tired of being in the public eye, Mr. Constable
began to resign his trusteeships one after another, until his partners
took alarm and vigorously protested.
I'm not well, he answered, and I don't want so much
But what about the business? suggested Mr. Glenning.
Then Mr. Constable astounded them.
Let me retire, he answered wearily.
But Mr. Constable's partners did not propose to have the business
sacrificed in any such way. They would not hear of his retirement, and
when he insisted, Mr. Hertzog remarked very pointedly that he did not
presume to understand this gentle resignation business, but if there
was any little game on hand he proposed to be in it for the next three
years at least. About money matters Mr. Hertzog cherished no illusions,
and at the word dollar Hester Street instantly reclaimed him.
There was no little game, Mr. Constable hastened to assure him. It
was simply that he could not do justice to the firm or himself. He was
a sick mana very sick man.
Then take a vacation. Go into the country and stay as long as you
like, but drop this retirement nonsense, commanded Mr. Hertzog, and
the senior partner turned away wearily without another word.
It's the reaction after that cussed Horton affair, Mr. Glenning
remarked; he was snappy enough about that until Mackenzie was finally
knocked out, but since then he's drooped. Reaction, I supposedon't
Mr. Hertzog was seldom more than monosyllabic, but his eyes followed
the wilted little figure of his partner with more anxiety than the word
implied. Alone in his private room he frowned, muttering to himself:
Reactionyes or action.Costing us thousands of dollars anyway.
Confound the little fool!
Mr. Constable's physician recommended rest and a complete change of
scene. With all the world to choose from, the patient made a peculiar
selection for his place of sojourn. It was Sing Sing, on the Hudson.
But Mr. Constable strictly complied with the Doctor's advice in not
allowing anyone to know his address.
There is not much to be seen in Sing Sing except the State Prison,
but Mr. Constable saw that very thoroughly. For two days he spent all
the time allotted to visitors in making himself acquainted with convict
life. He was writing a novel, he told the Warden, and wanted local
colour. Nohe did not know any one in the prisonhe was an
Englishman, and only on a visit to this country. Would he like to make
a tour of the buildings with the Warden? Nothing, he declared, would
give him greater pleasurehe was interested in every detail. So,
escorted by the Warden, he passed through the clean, well-aired
corridors, inspected the orderly kitchens and the huge laundries,
viewed the immense workshops filled with convicts toiling in splendid,
disciplined silence, watched the men file to their meals, their hands
hooked over one another's shoulders, their heads bent down, eyes upon
the ground, bodies close together, and their feet keeping time in the
lock-step prescribed by the regulations.
It was all very impressive, he told the Wardena wonderful triumph
of system and discipline. He congratulated the official, and was
invited into the private office for a smoke and chat.
Did the Warden suppose there were any innocent men in the cells?
Very likely there were someit was not uncommon for prisoners to have
new trials granted them, and occasionally a man would be acquitted on
these second trials. Did many of the men return after serving sentence?
Yes, a good many. Why? Well, principally, the Warden supposed, because
it was hard for an ex-convict to get an honest job after he got out.
Damned near impossible, unless he has mighty good friends, the
official added feelingly.
Was not that a reflection on the system? Well, the Warden wasn't
there to pass on thatthe Prison Association had undertaken to handle
the question, but he couldn't see that they'd done much with it.
But the innocent menthe men who were afterwards acquittedthey
would bethey were not ex-convicts? No, the Warden guessed they were
all right. And the pardoned ones? The Warden smiled.
I'm not very strong on pardons myself, he admitted. I'd about as
soon employ an out-and-outer. Too much politics in pardons for me.
Moreover, sometimes they're not appreciated. We had a queer fellow here
once who served five years, and was a model prisoner too. Well, when he
was discharged someone met him at the station with a pardon from the
Governor. 'You cur,' he shouted at the man who handed it to him, 'get
pardons for those who need them!' With that he tore the paper into
bits, threw the pieces in the man's face and gave him a terrible
thrashing. We never learned what the trouble was, though the fellow
served two more years for the assault. But some of us thought he must
have been innocent all the time. However, when he came out again nobody
offered him another pardon.
The next day Mr. Constable visited the prison without the escort of
the Warden. In the work-rooms the silence of the workers oppressed him,
but it was better than the language of some of the under-keepers which
fairly sickened him. He had heard foul-mouthed men hurl epithets and
profanity back and forth often enough, but never before had he seen the
frightful answers which human beings can make without the utterance of
a syllable. Many times that day he saw murder done with the eyesthe
foulest, fiercest, most glutting murder of which the human heart is
capable. In every regulation he saw manhood debased, individuality
destroyed, education neglected, reformation defeated, and glancing from
the faces of the convicts to those of the keepers, he could not say
which this splendid system had most brutalised.
Then Mr. Constable returned to his cheerless room at the hotel and
locking himself in, lay down on the sofa, only to offer his body as a
pavement for files of close-cropped and shaven men who passed over him
with the steady tramp-tramp, tramp-tramp of the lock-step, stamping him
into the ground gladly and sternly, gloatingly and viciouslydeeper
and deeper, until he felt the damp earth upon his face and heard less
and less clearly the tread of those marching feet.
Then it ceased altogether and Mr. Constable smiled in his sleep as
he dreamed he was dead, only to awake with a shriek when he felt that
he was living.
The next morning the Warden met him on the street.
How's the local colour getting on? he asked pleasantly.
I was working with it all last night.
The Warden stared silently at the speaker for a moment, frowned
slightly and passed on.
Good God! he muttered to himself, if it makes a man look like
that to write, I never want to read again.
Mr. Constable left Sing Sing for Niagara, where he stopped long
enough to write a letter in the public writing-room of an hotel. The
composition of this missive, however, consumed several hours, for the
writer kept glancing apprehensively over his shoulder and when anyone
approached the table he covered his paper with the blotter and waited
until he was alone again. But when at last the letter was finished he
omitted to sign it, which was the more neglectful since no one could
possibly have recognised the shaky handwriting as that of the snappy,
energetic, confident Mr. Theodore Constable. Even the clerk in the New
York Post Office who handled the envelope cursed the writer as he
puzzled out the address.
Mr. Constable next visited Detroit presumably for the sole purpose
of dictating curious statements to the hotel typewriter. These he
mailed to New York with some enclosures, addressing the envelopes in
large, childish capitals.
The rest of his vacation was spent in the bedroom of a second class
boarding-house in Chicago.
At the end of three weeks he returned to New York looking far worse
than when he went away. Mr. Hertzog therefore hesitated to tell him
that Horton had moved for another trial on newly-discovered evidence.
But the matter could not be kept secret, for Horton's counsel had
done more than claim he could prove his client's innocence; he not only
produced one or two strikingly significant exhibits received
anonymously from Detroit, but also asserted he was daily obtaining
clues from unknown friends in other cities which might lead to the
discovery of a conspiracy, if not to the conspirators themselves.
Even a careless student of human nature must have observed the
marked change which had taken place in Mr. Constable.
The lines that come gradually with age and experience give meaning
and character to the faceeven the traces of illness are not without a
certain dignity. But when care begins to crease the face of
self-complacence its effects are distortions, terrible as those which
some iron implement of torture would suddenly produce.
Mr. Constable's florid countenance was without a line until it was
wrinkled and furrowed and scarred.
Mr. Hertzog was shocked by the appearance of his partner. Was the
man going mad? He had seen such changes foreshadow insanity. But if he
was going madfrom what cause? He must make sure.
Mr. Constable sat in the junior partner's private office reading a
copy of the affidavits supporting the latest move in Horton's long
fight, and Mr. Hertzog watched him. He noted that the trembling hands
left little spots of perspiration on the pages, he saw the twitching
lips every now and then forming wordshe counted the rapid throbbing
of the arteries in head and neck. All this he had expected and
discounted, but he was unprepared for the horrid look of cunning in the
man's eyes, as he glanced up from his reading.
For a few moments neither of the partners spoke. Then Mr. Constable
broke the silence.
You thinkyou would say these papers werethat they made a strong
Mr. Constable's eyes were fixed upon his partner in anxious inquiry,
like a sick man waiting the decision of a doctor testing the heart or
Yes, it's strong. Too damned strong.
The answer given slowly and with emphasis was received with a smile
such as the face of a dead man might attempt with cracking skin and
And the papersare theyshould you say they were well drawn?
Yesthat fellow Mackenzie seems to have learned something during
these yearsdamn him! By the way, how long did he get?
Horton, of course.
Three, I thinkyes, it was three years.
Then he's served two years andlet's seetwo years and three
Mr. Hertzog pushed the electric button in his desk. Get me the
Revised Statutes covering Sing Sing regulations, he said to the boy
who answered the summons. The book was brought and Mr. Hertzog began
studying its pages, his head resting on his hands and his elbows on the
desk. For five minutesten minutes, there was silence.
Don't let's take up this thing, HertzogI thinkI think he'll
win. Mr. Constable's voice was almost a whisper.
But Hertzog, engrossed in the volume before him, did not hear. Mr.
Constable glanced at the stern Hebraic face, flushed and changed his
remark to a question.
Do you think he'll win?
The junior partner started up nervously.
How the devil can I tell! he burst out angrily. What's the use of
sitting there parroting 'Do-you-think-he-can-win?
Do-you-think-he-can-win?' He's got a damned good case on the merits.
There's something in the Code that may fix him, but I don't count on
it. Don't ask such idiotic questions. Of course I think he can win, but
I also think he mustn't. If you want my opinionMr. Hertzog swung
himself about and cast a searching glance at the shrivelled, mean
little figure crushed into the leather easy-chair beside him. If you
want my real opinion, Constable, he repeated, I think we've got
to win. Haven't we?
For a moment Mr. Constable stared silently at his partner. Then
shaking his head he mumbled a word or two, stopped, put his hand to his
throat, began again, stammered a disjointed sentence and suddenly
poured forth a torrent of confused and incoherent words that thickened
into a clotted gurgle and freed itself in a sputter swelling to peal
upon peal of hideous, shattering, mirthless laughterlaughter which
forced the man to his feet and rocked him with its spasms.
Hertzog leaped toward the door and fastened it. The clerks must not
hear the horror of this. Then he darted to the window, but by the time
he had closed it the laughter had died out, and Constable was quivering
upon the floor, the blood gushing from his mouth.
O, I know, Nurse, but I won't excite himI'll go a long way toward
curing him. You can trust me for that.
Mr. Hertzog pushed himself into the sick-room and walked toward the
bed, waving a telegram in his hand. Mr. Constable smiled feebly at his
Now, old man, I'm the doctor to-day. Are you up to taking my
prescription in the form of a story?
The invalid nodded.
Even if it's about thethe Horton case?
Mr. Constable nodded positively.
Well, you remember, just before you were taken sick, I told you I
thought they'd got a pretty good case
Yes, yes. The whisper was eager, expectant.
And the more I examined it the more positive I became that there
was no chance for attacking it on the merits
The invalid lay back on the pillows and smiled foolishly at the man
So, of course, I advised the District Attorney to adjourn the
matter for a week, and he did it. In the meantime I began to see
daylight, and I told him to adjourn it again. But Mackenzie either saw
the point or suspected something, for he fought like a devil against
further delay, and we only got three days. Three days! Good lordI had
to have two weeks. And, to make things worse, yesterday old Judge
Masterton was unexpectedly assigned to hold court, and Geddes is the
only man in town who can approach Masterton on a delicate matter of
this kind. But Geddes wasn't at home, and for nearly a day we couldn't
get on his trail. Then we learned he was in Buffalo, but we couldn't
find the District Attorney to get his consent to retaining Geddes. My
God, we sweated blood, but we couldn't find himand every hour was
precious. Finally Glenning had to start for Buffalo without the
necessary consent. Two hours later I located the District Attorney, got
what I wanted, and then learned Geddes had left Buffalo for Albany!
Well, it was one chance in a thousand, but I wired Glenning on the
express, caught it before it reached Albanyand Geddes is retained!
What do you think of that?
There was no response from the bed, and Hertzog bent forward to see
if the patient was asleep, but stopped as the laboured speech of the
sick man reached him.
And Geddeshe will apply for another adjournment?
Yes, and win it, too. He's got Judge Masterton in his pocket, I
I don'tI'm not sureI understand.
Can't you see that Horton's sentence will expire before the motion
for new trial can be heard?
The sick man raised himself on his elbow, and stared at his visitor.
Well, when a man's served his sentence, the Court won't entertain
an application for a new trial. So there won't be any public discussion
of Horton's interesting yarns. See? Pretty good, isn't it? You'll have
to study law when you get well, Constable. I tell you it pays. Tricks
in all trades, you know, and there's nothing likeWhy, Constable,
old man, what's the matter? Here, Nurse! Nurse! Come and look after
your patient. He's struck me and he's trying to get out of his bed!
You've got him?Yes, of course I'll gobut I didn't say anything to
excite him. All right, I'm goingbut what in the world
Write! panted the sick man as the door closed, and for God's sake
write quickly, Nurse. Are you ready? Yes? Now then
99 Wall Street.
Another adjournment fatal. Constable dying. Makes full
confession. See him at once.
Wire it, Nurse, wire it, andlet no one know! I thought I had done
enoughbut I'll do itI'll beat them yet. Help me to livetillhe
IN HIS OWN BEHALF.
Well, Clancy, your case is on the Day Calendar, and is likely to be
reached this week.
'Tis thankful Oi am, Sorr.
Michael Clancy's two hundredweight of flesh and bones rested in my
most reliable office chair, and Michael Clancy's huge hands were
clasped over his capacious stomach, while his outstretched legs were
crossed in a settled attitude.
Clancy had been entrusted to me by a sympathetic House Physician of
an up-town hospital. The story made a negligence case.
I had taken up the matter merely out of good nature, but the old man
was a character, and I soon became interested in his personality.
For two years he had been a regular visitor at my office, ostensibly
to make inquiries as to the progress of his law suit, but really, I
think, for social recreation. A litigation does not advance very
rapidly in a New York Court for the first two years, and he knew this
at the outset, but his calls were made with a regularity which
suggested routine. If he chanced to come in while I was busy he never
interrupted, but sat in the outer offices chatting with the clerks
until such time as he judged his social duty had been discharged.
Clancy's confidence in me was certainly gratifying, but it took the
form of completely transferring to my shoulders all responsibility for
the case. His attitude toward it was that of a friend interested but
not especially involved in the outcome. Whenever he referred to it,
which was not often, he spoke of it as yur kase, as though he had
washed his hands of it but wished me well. There was no question about
his gratitude, but his idea of expressing this was to put himself
wholly in my care and give as little trouble as possible.
I once thought that the possession of another's confidence was a
proper matter for self-congratulation, but I have never felt quite the
same about this since I finished Clancy's case.
Michael's injuries had completely incapacitated him for work and his
massive frame had taken on flesh until the ponderous body made his head
appear ridiculously small. His clean-shaven face was round, his eyes
were almost tiny, and his mouth was like that of a child.
Although loquacious to a degree, his delivery was slow, and whenever
he talked to me his every word was accompanied by an apologetic smile,
so that even when he spoke of his troubles his cheeks wore a permanent
Have you ever been in a court, Michael? I asked as Clancy sat by
my desk smiling his benedictions upon my news of an early trial.
Oi hov not, Sorrleastways not since Dolan's Nannie wuz afther
bein' kilt be Beagan's pup.
I did not investigate Clancy's experience in that cause célèbre, although I saw reminiscence in his eye.
I think we better go over your testimony, Clancy, I said. It's
two years since the accident occurred and you may have forgotten
detailsI'm sure I have. But you remember making this affidavit at the
timedo you not?
Clancy looked at the paper in my hand and then cast a knowing glance
in my direction.
Am Oi ter say'Yiz'Sorr?
Why you're to tell the truth, of course, I answered rather
sharply. But you must remember swearing to this.
Must Oi now, Sorr? Thot's all right thin. But whisper, Oi only
remimber a shlip av a gurl comin' in an' makin' little burd thracks in
a bit av a book an' you spakin' to her thot pleasant-loike'twas
fascinayted Oi wuz.
I began to foresee trouble with this willing witness and to view
Clancy in a new light. However I tried explanation.
That was the stenographer taking down this affidavit, I answered.
Wuz it now, Sorr? Oi'll not forgit ut.
I felt somewhat embarrassed by the gleam of cunning in Clancy's
little eyes, but I pretended not to notice it and continued:
I'll read the statement to you and that will refresh your memory.
Then we can go over the questions you are liable to be asked.
'Tis as you loike, Sorr.
Clancy settled himself, with resignation rather than interest
expressed in his good-natured face, but I knew he was all attention.
City and County of New York ss: I began.
Shure, Counsellor, Oi niver said thot. Faith, Oi want ter hilp yiz
with yur kase, but sorra a wurd loike thim iver passed me lips.
O, never mind, Clancy! I exclaimed, silently cursing my
indiscretion. That's only a legal phrase with which every affidavit
All right, Sorr. 'Tis for you ter know.
Again Clancy assumed his attitude of resignation and I read on:
Michael Clancy being duly sworn deposes and says that he
resides at No. West Ninety-third Street, in the City of
New York, and that on the 15th day of May, 1896, he was in
the employ of the Cavendish Tool Company.
Thrue for you, Sorran' bad cess ter thim, commented Clancy.
That previous to May 15, 1896, he had been in the employ
of said Company for nine years
'Twas not so long, Sorr, for whin me sisther-in-law Theresa's
sicond child, she thot aftherwards married Bicie Sullivan's lad, wuz
sick at th' toime av me wife's brother's wake, Oi stayed from wurrk two
days fur ter luk ter th' child an' so
O, wellthat's near enoughsay nine years, I interrupted.
Oi'll say whativer you want, Sorrbut, be th' same token, 'tis
thruth Oi do be tellin' you nowbetwane oursilves loike.
I looked sternly at Clancy's rotund countenance. This case was
looming up pregnant with possibilities in the presence of a witness
with ready-made testimony and confidential truths. Clancy as a
character was all right, but, as a client? I began to be alarmed. This
had to be stopped.
Now, understand once and for all, Clancy, I exclaimed almost
threateningly, I don't want you to tell anything at any time except
Clancy relapsed again.
'Tis for you ter know, Sorr, was all he said.
I looked at the man with desperation in my eyes.
Now, Michael, listen to me. If there's anything really wrong in the
affidavit, stop me; but, if it's unimportant, don't let's waste time on
it. Now, where were we? Here it is:'had been in the employ of said
Company for nine years'
Av coorse, thot's moindin' what Oi do be afther tellin' you, Sorr.
Good lord, man! For nearly nine years then. Will that
satisfy you? We'll never finish if you keep this up!
'Tis dumb Oi am, Sorr.
Clancy's big hands waved off further reproaches in a little gesture
half soothing, half disclaiming.
Then all intelligence faded from his face, and he sat with closed
eyes, punctuating my sentences with nodding head, as I continued from
the text of the affidavit.
During those nine years (Clancy winced, but kept
silent), he was engaged as a porter in the Company's main
office, in Fulton Street. On the morning of May 15, 1896,
while engaged in sorting merchandise on the fourth floor of
said building, a shelf on the north side of the room gave
way, and a keg of nails fell upon his spine, inflicting
Deponent did not erect said shelf, nor was the same
erected under his direction, nor was the merchandise upon it
placed there by deponent or deponent's orders.
Deponent further avers that he never knew the said shelf
was unsafe, although the Superintendent had been told that
one of its brackets needed repairing.
I continued reading the rest of the long statement without
interruption from Clancy. Even when I finished he made no comment, and
I thought him depressed in spite of his smile, so I spoke up
That's the story, Michael. It all comes back clearly enough now,
doesn't it? There's nothing like having these affidavits made out at
the time, so one can recall all the facts. Now there's very little more
work to be done. You remember I had diagrams made of the room where you
were working, so we have those, and the Doctor's sent me word that he's
ready at any time. There were no other witnesses, you say? Well, then,
let me hear you tell the story in your own way, without any prompting
from me. Begin by describing the place. Now, go on.
Clancy smiled contentedly, leaned forward in his chair and slowly
rubbed his knees with the palms of his hands.
Beyant th' dure, he began, there do be a laarge room, with foive
windows in ut, an' a stairkase ter th' left hand soide goin' upstairs.
In th' cintre av this room they do hov two rows av stoof an' th' same
is on shilves foreninst an' behoind thim
The picture was not entirely clear, but I spoke up hopefully:
Yes; and in this room you worked?
Oi niver did, Sorr.
Then describe the room where you did work, I answered, wearily.
No other room is of any importance.
Will you leave me tell ut in my own way, Sorr?
Well, Sorr, 'twas this way ut wuz. There do be a gang av min on th'
fourth flure handlin' stoof thot's afther comin' outer th' elevaytor.
Th' elevaytor do be nixt th' stairkase, an' th' min stand in loine an'
roll th' barruls wan to anither clane acrost th' flure. Th' furst
feller do be called 'the guide,' an'
And you worked with these men? I interposed.
Shure Oi niver had onythin' at all to do with thim. But minny a
toime Oi've seen thim
Wait, I said, this won't do. I'll start at the beginning, and ask
you questions just as though you were in Court, and you answer them.
Clancy looked a bit troubled, but he shifted himself in his chair
and said, Yiz, Sorr, brightly enough.
Mr. Clancy, I began in my best jury manner, where do you reside?
A light gleamed in the witness's eyes.
City an' County av New YorkSS! he burst out proudly.
I dropped the paper on my desk and groaned aloud. But when I saw the
look of crushing disappointment on Clancy's face I forced a smile and
Try to forget that, Michael. It has nothing whatever to do with
your testimony. Now let's begin againWhere do you reside?
Shure you know, Sorr.
Yes, I know, Clancy, but the jury doesn't and we're supposed to be
in Court. Answer just as you would before the jury. Nowwho employed
you in May, 1896?
A boonch av scutsno less!
I sighed hopelessly. It was useless to continue this game.
Perhaps we've had about enough for to-day, Michael, I said. Go to
Court to-morrow and listen to some witnesses testify. You'll soon get
the idea. Then come down to the office in the afternoon and I'll have
some questions written out so that you'll know about what you're to be
asked. There's nothing like thorough preparation. By the way, do you
want to add anything to the affidavit? The facts are all right as far
as they go, I suppose?
Clancy hesitated, wiped his mouth once or twicesmiled out of the
window and ended by a general shift of his bulk. But he did not speak.
What is it? I asked encouragingly.
A gesture of disclaimer, almost coy this time, prefaced his reply.
Shure Oi don't loike ter throuble you, Sorr, an' 'tis as loike as
not to be wan av thim deetales you was spakin' av
Never mind, what is it?
Well, Sorr, Oi don't seem ter call ter moinde th' lad thot's been
afther sayin' an' doin' some av thim things.
The excitement had evidently been too much for Michael's head, but
to soothe him I asked,
What lad, Clancy?
Daypont? I repeated.
Then I picked up the affidavit, and light dawned upon me.
You don't mean deponent, do you?
'Tis the same, SorrShure he niver wurrked fer thim in all me
A penholder broke, but I slowly minced a blotter before I trusted
myself to explain.
Deponent means you, Clancy.
Is ut me?
Certainly. For instance here I picked up the affidavit.This
reads 'Deponent did not erect said shelf', and that means, you
did not erect it,
But Begorra, that's just what Oi did, Sorr
What! I shrieked.
You built the shelf that fell?
My voice was desperately calm but the pencil in my hands was playing
a tattoo on the desk.
Shure, Oi did, Sorr.
Then why in the name of common sense, man, didn't you say so
before? I burst out.
Shure Oi didn't loike ter throuble yiz, an' you readin' it out so
beautiful-loike. An' faith, Oi thought 'twas some scut av a Daypont you
wuz spakin' av as not doin'
Clancy looked at me and my face must have been awesome, for he
stopped with mouth agape.
Nor was the merchandise upon said shelf placed there by
deponent? I read inquiringly.
'Twas Oi that put ut there av a Friday marnin,' Sorr, an'
Deponent further avers, I continued with fearful calm,
that he never knew the said shelf was unsafe?
Shure 'twas the day befure Oi was spakin' to th' Super, an' ses Oi
to himO'Toole, ses Oi, the shilf foreninst the dure is broke, ses Oi,
but Oi've stooffed a bit of sthick in fur a nail, ses Oi, an' 'twill
holt good an' ut don't come down, Oi ses. Moike, ses he
For Heaven's sake man, stop! You must have known all this two years
agowhy didn't you speak then?
'Twas afraid av throublin' yiz with deetales Oi wuz. Do ut make any
Difference! I burst out. Your case is absurdutterly impossible
and absurd! Why, manyou haven't got a leg to stand on!
Clancy looked at his feet for a moment.
'Tis me spoine he began.
Then he stopped and smiled.
'Tis for you to know, Sorr, he added, sadly.
I didn't laugh, for I saw tears in Clancy's childlike eyes.
But I discontinued that action, and my affidavits now read with
[Footnote A: The Judge who hears litigated motions does not now sign
ex parte orders. The inside history of this change in the practice may
some day be found in a biography. Meanwhile this tale is told without
Van was out of temper. Van, the calm squelcher of office boysthe
recognised saviour of managing clerksthe patient instructor of
sophomoric attorneysthe courteous Guide, Philosopher and Friend for
all busy members of the New York BarVan, whose serenity and sanity
had withstood some thirty years of service as Chambers Clerk, was in
Unusual as this was, it might have been explained if the Judge who
throws papers on the floor had been upon the Bench. But his Honour was
presiding over another Court. Martin, therefore, put it down to the
weather, which was hot, and resigned himself to waiting, which was
The Court Room was stuffy as usual, and crowded as always. Martin
languidly studied the lawyers about him, trying to guess the kind of
business each represented. Here he prophesied a struggle for costs,
and there a contest for time. In one face he read the cunning of the
technical trickster, in another the earnest belief in a Cause, and idly
took to betting with himself on his prognostications.
The low droning of voices had a soothing note, and the hot
atmosphere of the room soon set him nodding. A moment more and he was
out of the Court, far away from the lawyersat the east end of Long
Island, with the strength and vigour of early Autumn in the air. For
some seconds he was dimly conscious of a man standing near him asking
an oft-repeated question. Then he woke with a start and saw Allison.
Do you always sleep with your eyes open?
Yeyes, he yawned, rubbing the optics in question, it's a trick
I learned from a front seat and a dull lecturer at college.
Well, what are you doing here beside dreaming?
Waiting to get some papers from Van.
Why don't you get them then, and go home to sleep?
Van's off his trolley to-day. Got to wait.
Um.'Furioso' on the Bench?
No.Hot weather, I guess.
Ah. Who's on deck then?
I don't know, and Van couldn't, or wouldn't, tell.
Well, I was about to ask you to take charge of a little matter for
me, but I'm afraid I oughtn't to keep you out of bed.
What's it about?
Nothing but opposing an application for a bill of particulars. I
don't care very much whether I win or lose. Merely contest it as a
matter of form. You can submit it without argument, if you'd rather,
but I've another case in Part IV., and can't wait here. Will you do it,
Yesprovided you won't damn me if you lose.
Don't care a cuss.
Thank you. Good-bye.
Martin glanced lazily at the papers Allison tossed into his lap.
Phelps vs. Orson? What number was it on the calendar? He
pulled the Law Journal out of his pocket and consulted the list
of motions. Twenty-second case? Good lordAllison had buncoed him!
If he argued that motion he'd have to stay in the stuffy Court Room all
morning. But he wouldn't argue ithe'd give the papers to Van, and let
him hand them up to the Court when the case was called. Martin stuffed
the documents into his pocket, and lolling back in his chair, tried to
regain those scenes from which Allison had rudely torn him. To further
this, he rested his head in his hand and closed his eyes. But try as he
might, he could not again rid himself of his surroundings, for there
was more movement all over the room as the waiting crowd grew restless,
and directly back of him two men whispered with maddening persistency.
For a time Martin tried to fuse their sibilants into the general buzz,
but failing in this, began to listen to their conversation. In a few
seconds he ceased to hear any of the other sounds going on about him.
Then Van doesn't know, one of the men asserted. I tell you
Colton's ill and he's been assigned to take his place. He's never sat
here before? Well, of course not. That's just the point. You've got a
head like a tack! Now listen to what I say, and, for God's sake, don't
make a mess of it. The order's in a green cover like this
The speaker paused and Martin almost turned, but checked himself in
No, there ain't many this colour.You can't miss it if you keep
awake. It'll be handed to Van sometime before recess. When he gives it
to His Nibs you watch it like a cat, and the minute he signs it make
for the telephone and notify 'em at the office. They'll keep the wire
open. Now d'ye think you've got sense enough to work this thing
The other man made no response, but probably nodded, for his
All right then. I'm o double f. But remember if you botch it,
you'll be wanting a new job.
The speaker rose and passed before Martin, who languidly glanced at
him and then strolled into the Rotunda. Mullin the process-server
stood, as usual, near the door. Martin touched his arm.
Mullin, he began, didn't you want to bet me a few days ago that
you knew every man who entered this Court House?
Sure. Wanter take me up?
Yes, answered Martin, hurrying him toward the right hand stairway.
Bet you a good cigar you won't know the man in grey clothes we'll see
coming down from the other side.
They had just reached the first landing when the person in question
passed through the open hall below.
I'll take a 'Carolina Perfecto,' he said and began to move up the
Do you know him? questioned Martin, slowly following.
Sure. Everybody knows him. Give us something harder.
Well, who is he?
Boss reporter of The Guardian.
O, I thought he was a lawyer.
Martin spoke in a tone of disappointment.
Nope. Too smart for that! laughed the process-server.
Well, I owe you a cigar, I suppose. We can't get a Carolina
Perfecto here, but I'll see you when Court adjourns, or if not then,
some other day.
All right, Mr. Martin, your credit's good, I guess.
Nevis of The Guardian? What did that dirty sheet have to do
with Court orders in green covers or any other covers? What sort of
boys worked for such papers nowadays? Martin had himself served an
apprenticeship in the newspaper world and still felt a lively interest
in the ways of Park Row. He would have a look at the cub reporter left
on guard. With this purpose in view he returned to the Court Room, but
the moment he entered the door the object of his quest was completely
forgotten. The judge had already ascended the Bench, and His Honour was
Charles Blagden, Esq.
Martin slipped into a rear seat and watched the youthful face of the
man behind the desk.
There was no love lost between Martin and the Hon. Charles Blagden.
They had met as lawyers and Blagden had been the victor; they had met
as men to differ on every matter of opinion and taste; they had met as
rivals and Martin had written a letter of congratulation which had cost
him the bitterest thoughts of his life. But Fortune continued to shower
gifts upon her favourite and not very long after his marriage, an
appointment to a vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench made Blagden the
youngest Judge in the City.
Charles Blagden was a careful lawyer and he made a capable Judgeso
capable, indeed, that his political party had just nominated him as its
Judicial candidate for the coming November elections.
But not satisfied with the start which Fortune had thus given, the
hero-worshippers set out to make Fame meet him half way.
What silly discoveries are made in the light of one small success;
what senseless tributes are inspired by achievementno matter what the
agency. Blagden's capability as a lawyer became distinguished ability
on the tongues of hundreds of his fellow-citizens who never knew him.
There were dozens of prophets who had always marked him out, and
scores of men ready with stories and anecdotes of his prowess and
Martin had watched Blagden's career with a jealousy but little
removed from positive hatred, and every word of this indiscriminate
praise fretted him almost past endurance. He felt himself as able a man
as his rival, he knew many lawyers more worthy of distinction and,
smarting under the injustice of these sudden acclamations, he began to
grow contemptuous of public esteem.
It was not long, however, before he awoke to the danger of brooding
over such thoughts. The world was big enough for them both, and the
mighty metropolis was a world so wide that the blotting out of any face
was only the matter of a step in the crowd. This man should not spoil
or embitter his life.
From the moment of that resolution Blagden disappeared from his
horizon, and Martin began to view life again from his normal
It was only when business threatened to bring him into Blagden's
Court that he experienced the old feeling of bitterness. But then it
returned with a rush. One such lesson had been sufficient to warn him
however, and Martin thereafter appeared before Judge Blagden by proxy
It was just as well, he thought, as he felt the hot blood surging
through his veins, that Allison didn't insist upon his arguing
Phelps vs. Orson. It would have been impossible to address
that Self-Satisfied Piece of Humanity with respect. Thank goodness he
could escape by handing the papers to the Clerk!
He rose and passed along the rear of the Court Room. In the far
corner sat a newspaper artist sketching the Judge and the scene about
his desk. Martin glanced sharply at the man, but he was absorbed in his
work and obviously not on the outlook for green-covered law papers.
Nearer the front, however, sat a young fellow studying every movement
behind the rail, and sometimes even rising nervously from his seat in
his efforts to keep a clear view. This was undoubtedly the youth whose
place depended on his vigilant watch of the Bench. What the devil was
it all about? In an instant his old newspaper instinct had carried
everything before it and Martin passed down the middle aisle, seating
himself immediately behind the young reporter.
Phelps vs. Orson.
Martin started at the sound of the Judge's voice, every fibre in his
body tingling with instant defiance.
The defendant's attorney answered Ready, but Martin made no
response. He knew he did not intend to argue the case and should
promptly state the fact.
Phelps vs. Orson? repeated the Justice inquiringly.
Ready! answered Martin, yielding to the call of sheer perversity.
It was childish, petty, absurdand he knew it. But at that moment
to defy custom, to oppose everything and everybody, to hamper and
obstruct the Court in every possible manner, no matter how futile,
seemed absolutely essential to the assertion of his independence and
the maintenance of his self-respect.
Some one vacated a seat immediately in front of the nervous reporter
who hastily gathered his papers together and moved into the empty
chair. Martin at once rose and took the journalist's place. As he did
so he felt something crackle beneath him, and rising picked up a
crumpled piece of paper from the seat. It was a sheet torn from a
reporter's pad, and as he lazily unfolded it Martin saw it was covered
with writing in a weak, boyish hand. To the initiated the scribbles
were unmistakable studies in newspaper captions or headingsthe
makeup of which Martin recalled as a fad of his cub-reporter days.
The first attempt was as follows:
A CANDIDATE CORALLED.
Then came several other settings:
A SUPREME COURT SCANDAL.
A JUDICIAL JUDAS.
A DANIEL COME TO GRIEF.
This last effort apparently satisfied the embryo city editor, for
his sub-headings were written below:
AN EXTRAORDINARY COURT ORDER
UNEARTHED BY The Guardian.
It Bears the Initials of the Hon. Charles Blagden, Candidate for
A Searching Investigation to be Instituted. Lawyers Indignant.
Martin read the words with savage satisfaction.
So, the Hon. Justice was playing tricks, was heand not very good
tricks either? He was on the point of being exposedwas he? Well, it
was about time something happened to those noiseless wheels of the
little tin god! People were beginning to believe there was something
miraculous in his transit. It had long been heretical to suggest either
pull or push. But both agencies have to be paid for in one way or
another, and at some time.To pay whom or what was this green-covered
order required?What a shock it would be for the worshippers to see
their metal divinity wobbling on his stand and to hear the shrieking of
his squeaky rollers! Fortunately for him some of his triumphs were
secure, but it would be interesting for at least one person to
discoverNo, she would never discover anything. Charlie would tell
her it was all rightand that would make it so.Charlie,
A sharp movement in front of him aroused Martin from his bitter
musing. The young reporter was leaning forward in his chair, staring at
a little clean-shaven Hebrew who had entered the room and was leaning
on the rail, a green-covered legal paper in his hand.
Van took the document from the messenger, shook it open and placed
it at the bottom of the pile of orders on the Judge's desk. The Court
had already begun to hear arguments, and as the Counsel talked the
Judge occasionally took up one of these orders and signed it. Clerks
kept entering the room from time to time, handing papers and orders to
Van, who added them to the rapidly-increasing pile on the Judge's desk.
Meanwhile Martin stared at the green edge of the order in which
The Guardian took such a lively interest. How did that paper come
to know its contents? The Guardian was politically opposed to
the Judge's partywas, indeed, the semi-official organ of the enemy.
It could not be in the confidence of the Judge's friends. No avenue of
exposure would be more carefully watched than that which led to the
columns of The Guardian. There must be a traitor in the camp. Or
perhaps some honest man, despising underhand methods, had given the
clue to the most effective police. But if an honest man desired to
protect his party, would he not frustrate the scheme rather than expose
it after it was accomplished? Yes, some traitor must be selling
information to the opposition. The Guardian certainly would not
hesitate to buy dirty secrets. It was savagely partisanunscrupulous
and daring. It fairly slobbered with the froth of sensationlived on
scandal, and obtained its pabulum by any and every means. Thus far
there had been little to feed upon in the career of the Hon. Charles
Blagden. But it would not shrink from providing itself with carrion if
a touch of one of its underground wires would suffice.Might not
The Guardian know the history of the green-covered order at first
Martin dismissed the thought again and again, but it gathered
strength and substance and forced itself upon him. He recalled the
words of the Boss Reporter about Blagden's never having sat at Chambers
before. He had explained that that was just the point. And the point
was? Obviously that the work at Chambers was hurried, and that a
novice would be apt to sign papers without due deliberation.
What could be easier for a sheet like The Guardian than to
trump up a legal proceeding of some sort, and to concoct, with the aid
of cunning lawyers, an order unobjectionable on its face, but which
would compromise the reputation of any Judge who signed it? If the plot
miscarried, the conspirators could readily cover their tracks and make
good their escape.It was a dangerous game but not a new one.
And if all this were so, what had he, Martin, to do with it?
Of course if Blagden was playing tricks he deserved to get caught
and no one but the hero-worshippers could be expected to cry.But if
he was being tricked?That was just the question to be decided. He,
Martin, was merely a spectator, interested in the event, it is true,
but still only an onlooker.Was that true? Had not that rôle been
forfeited when he acquired special information? Was his attitude a
perfectly passive one? If any other man than Blagden was on the Bench
would he not instantly communicate what he had heard? Would he feel no
disappointment whatsoever if Blagden refused to sign the order?
Franklywas he not waiting to see his enemy walk into what he believed
was a trap?
Martin flushed at the silent self-accusation and instantly
pronounced it absurd. What could he do? Any man who goes on the Bench
has to assume grave responsibilities and take the risk with the
honours. Blagden's attitude had always been a silent boast of needing
no help from anyone. Would not interference give him an opportunity for
retorting that he had the office and Martin the officiousness. How he
would roll that under his tongue!No, Blagden could take care of
himself. He would never thank anyone for playing nurse for him.
The papers on the Judge's desk were piling higher and higher, and he
began to sign or reject them more rapidly as the time wore on. Martin
glanced at The Guardian's order. It was still buried under a
Why did he think of it as The Guardian's order? He had no
proof of the matter. But were not his suspicions strong enough to
excuse a warning? What did he fear? A snub? Well, that was better than
the laughter of the soul against itself when conscience has
condemned it, which the soul never hears once in its fulness without
hearing it forever after.
How often he had repeated those lines to himself! What a hopeless,
haunting sound they had in them! He hated this manbut was he willing
to wear the The Guardian's mask and hear forever after the
hideous laughter of the soul?
Martin glanced again at the Judge's desk, and then rapidly writing a
few words on a piece of paper, folded and addressed it to the Hon.
Charles Blagden, and carried it to the Clerk's desk.
Van, restored to his usual good humour, met him with a smile.
Why didn't you come earlier for your papers, Mr. Martin? he
whispered. I've had them here for you ever since Court opened.
Much obliged, Van. Just hand this note up to Judge Blagdenwill
I can't do it, Mr. Martin. His Private Secretary says it's one of
his fads. He won't even let us hand him telegrams when he's on the
But this is more important than a telegram, Van, replied Martin in
a low tone. Hand it up to him and I'll assume all the responsibility.
I'd like to oblige you, Mr. Martin, but
You will not be obliging me, Van, but him.
The veteran clerk gazed at the earnest face of the lawyer for a
moment, and then reached out his hand for the letter.
I'll try it, Mr. Martin, he whispered.
It was some moments before the Justice noticed Van standing near his
chair, and raised his eyes inquiringly. The clerk held out the folded
piece of paper, but Blagden frowned and impatiently waved the official
away. For a moment Van lingered, but when the Magistrate swung his
chair so as to turn his back on the interruption, he rejoined Martin
and handed him the rejected note, with a smile and a shrug.
Martin took it and sat down again with a distinct feeling of relief.
He had done all he could. If there was anything wrong with the order he
had tried his best to call it to the Judge's attention, and that
pompous fool had rejected the opportunity. He might as well hand up the
Phelps vs. Orson papers and go back to the office.
Martin pulled the small bundle out of his pocket and studied the
indorsement. Phelps against Orson? Why, that must be the
case Dick Phelps had talked about for half an hour at the Club the
other night. Of course it wasAllison was his attorney. Well, that was
rather odd. Martin wrote submitted on the first paper in the
bundle, and then glanced at the Bench. The green order was fourth from
Why the devil did his heart keep thumping with excitement! He had
done more than ninety-nine men out of a hundred would do. Anything more
would be asinine interference for which he would have time to repent at
leisure. He'd get right out of that stifling Court Room
Phelps against Orson called the Judge.
For a heart-beat Martin hesitated. Then he rose to his feet and
walking directly to the Counsel's table slipped the rubber band from
his bundle of papers and sat down.
As his opponent began to speak, Martin lazily read through his
papers, making an occasional note on a loose sheet of legal cap. When
he looked up again the green order was second from the top. Then he
shoved his chair back and watched the Judge who, as the Counsel ceased
speaking, took up another paper, leaving the green-covered order at the
top of the pile.
Martin glanced at the clock and noted that recess would begin in
twenty-five minutes. Then he sat quietly and waited till the Judge,
surprised at the unusual pause, looked at him, and nodded.
Proceed, Mr. Martin.
Martin gazed fixedly at the Bench and rose with great deliberation
If it please the Court, he began solemnly, this is, on its face,
a simple motion for a bill of particularspart of that sparring for
position which precedes every legal encounter. But at the outset I ask
the closest possible attention from the Court, for before I have
finished I expect to show that this apparently simple motion cloaks a
matter of vital importance, not only to these litigants but to the
public at large.
Judge Blagden leaned back in his chair and listened to the lawyer
with grave attention. The attorney for the defendant stared at the
speaker in blank astonishment.
It was, Martin continued impressively, a case in which a knowledge
of all the facts was of supreme importance. To understand certain
actions one must follow the wires that control them, underground or
overhead, until the hand which clutches them be discovered. For this
reason he would take the liberty of detailing to the Court the history
of the litigation.
Martin then launched into a minute and deliberate recital of the
facts. He dwelt upon the private history of the plaintiff, traced his
business career from its beginning up to the day of the transaction
with the defendants, described the fruitless efforts of the parties to
settle their differences out of Court, and the failure of the attorneys
to come to any agreement.
At this point the defendant's attorney interrupted, claiming that
none of these facts, however interesting they might be, was to be found
in the papers, and that Counsel must be confined to what was therein
Martin admitted that, ordinarily, this would be proper, but in this
case he asked for great latitude for grave reasons. Then, with marked
emphasis, he recapitulated all the various points he had detailed and
asked the Court to note their important bearing upon what he was about
The opposing Counsel shifted uneasily in his chair and shook his
head in utter bewilderment, and the Justice leaned forward on his desk.
Then Martin picked up the bill of complaint and began to read it
with great deliberation. That seemed to break the spell.
Mr. Martin, I must ask you to come to your point, please,
interrupted the Justice.
I am coming to it now, Sir.
He again took up the complaint and once more began to read it aloud.
Judge Blagden revolved his chair restlessly from side to side and
again interruptedthis time impatiently.
You have already occupied almost twenty minutes, Mr. Martin. This
is not, you know, the Court of Appeals.
Where your Honour's decision can be reviewed if incorrect? I am
aware of that, Sir.
The Magistrate looked sharply at the speaker, who regarded him with
a calm, cold glance.
The Court cannot allow you to consume much more time, Sir. The
decision of this motion is largely a matter of discretion
Which your Honour will remember is the better part of valour.
Judge Blagden frowned angrily at the speaker and picked up the
The Court Room was hushed to almost breathless stillness.
Go on with your argument, Mr. Martin, but be brief. The words came
from behind the paper in the Judge's hand.
Martin instantly sat down.
The Judge stopped reading and peered over the desk.
Well, he queried, have you finished?
No, Sir, I have not, answered Martin positively.
Then proceed, Sir.
When the Court honours me with the courtesy of its attention I will
proceedbut not until then.
The answer was a challenge, sharp and decisive.
I am listening, Sir, retorted Blagden, in a tone of marked
annoyance, and I have been listening much longer than should be
necessary. Get to your point at once.
If the Court is willing to undertake a divided duty, Martin paused
until the Judge's eyes met hisI am unwilling to receive a divided
The Court has no inclination to hear further suggestions from
Counsel on this point.
The Judge took up his pen, dipped it in the ink, and turned to the
last page of the green-covered order.
Behind him Martin could hear the cub-reporter tiptoeing to the door.
Then if the Court will not give me a hearing I demand that it read
Martin thundered out the words so fiercely that the audience started
perceptibly and the Judge looked up in angry astonishment.
Sit down, Mr. Martin, he ordered sternly.
I hand you my brief, Sir, answered Martin, holding out a folded
sheet of legal cap, and request its immediate consideration.
You may hand it to the clerk, Sir; it will be considered at the
I request the Court to read it now.
The Court will not entertain it at present.
I demand it as a right!
Mr. Martin, you forget yourself.
You are right, but still I demand that this brief be now read.
Martin leaned over the rail and placed the document upon the Judge's
In the pause that followed, the Magistrate's eyes followed these
lines indorsed on the cover of the paper thrust before him:
Look out for the green-covered order in your hand. Suspect
something fraudulent. Parties now in Court watching you. Am talking
Then the stillness of the room was broken by the Justice speaking in
a constrained voice:
The Court will now adjourn for recess. In the meantime, Mr. Martin,
I will consider your brief.
* * * * *
It was some days after the crowd had ceased discussing the way
Blagden got called down by Martin that the latter wrote a short reply
to the former's long epistle.
Mr. Martin respectfully acknowledges Judge Blagden's
letter of the 10th inst., and is gratified to learn that the
warning was not wholly uncalled for. The Justice, however,
may rest assured that he is under no obligation to Mr.
Martin, whose sole concern in the matter was his honourbut
not His Honour Charles Blagden.
AN ABSTRACT STORY.
Williams ought to have known that whenever Meyer wanted a title
searched he shopped with it until competition eliminated the margin of
profit. But whether he knew this or not it was perfectly plain that
there was no money in the East Broadway work at the figures he agreed
upon. However, year after year the legal arena is gladdened by the
advent of certain rosy-cheeked, enthusiastic youths who fancy they can
change the instinct of Chatham Square and acquire control of big real
estate operators like Meyer, through the simple expedient of doing some
of their work for nothing. Moreover, each newcomer thinks he has
evolved an entirely novel plan for working up a practice. At first I
thought Williams was one of these delightfully optimistic individuals,
but subsequent events have demonstrated there was more method in his
Williams was in love with Miss Thornton. Everybody knew it, though,
as Parsons said, Miss Thornton didn't seem to know it by heart. The
more fool she, I thought, for Williams was a first-rate fellow and a
far better man than that doll-faced, shallow chit had any right to
expect. I admit it isn't very gallant to speak of a girl in this way,
but I sometimes think a little plain truth about the fair sex would
make them more fair. Miss Thornton had prettiness enough of a certain
kind, she wore her gowns well and looked the girl of good breeding that
she was. But beyond thatwell, I never could see what made Williams so
desperately in love with her. Therefore when R. Castelez Forbes
appeared on the scene, though I sympathised with the discomforted
swain, I could not really feel very sorry for him.
Where R. Castelez Forbes came from was more or less of a mystery.
Mrs. Thornton told me she met him on the Teutonic and that he had
been awfully kind to Daisy and her during the passage. She had
invited him to spend a day or two in the Berkshires, and since then
they had seen a good deal of him. To my inquiry as to his business Mrs.
Thornton replied that he was something in the manufacturing line and
she believed quite a rising young fellow. She was a hopelessly silly
woman. Mr. Thornton was an able man, but too easy going and
good-natured to trouble himself about the antecedents of Miss Daisy's
It did not take much to frighten Williams off. He was sensitive as
most manly fellows are when in love. But had he possessed far more
self-confidence there was quite enough in the situation to have
discouraged him. Miss Thornton and Forbes were constantly together, and
although no engagement had been announced most people spoke of it as
an understood thing.
Such was the situation when Meyer brought the East Broadway papers
to Williams and inquired his fee for searching the title.
Williams glanced at the contract of sale for a moment, turned to the
last deed in the Abstract and promptly named a figure so low that even
Meyer feared to ask for a reduction, although he did insist on the work
being finished in a week. The bargain was closed then and there, and
everybody who heard of it cursed Williams for cutting prices to a point
where neither he nor anyone else could hope to make money.
But the last item in the East Broadway Abstract would have explained
to the initiated why Williams undertook the work at losing rates, and
it certainly excused him for beginning his investigation of the title
wrong end foremost. This item read as follows:
} Warranty Deed, F. & C.
Reginald C. Forbes, } Dated May 1, 1887.
To } Ack. May 1, 1887.
Beatrice Gordon Forbes, } Rec. May 2, 1887.
} Cons. $1.
Conveys premises under examination.
which meant that, at the date named, one Reginald C. Forbes had
transferred the East Broadway property to a woman named Forbes at a
nominal price. The contract of sale showed that this same Miss or Mrs.
Forbes had agreed to sell the property to Meyer.
Within ten minutes after he had received the papers, Williams was
hot upon the trail. Within an hour he had learned all he wished to
The Register's Office showed that the deed made by Reginald C.
Forbes was recorded at the request of Messrs. Harmon & Headly, and at
their offices Williams made his first inquiry.
Yes, I know Mr. Forbes, replied Mr. Harmonat least, I did know
him. He was a client of mine some years ago. Why do you ask?
Williams exhibited the Abstract and pointed out the deed in
I recall the transaction, continued the old lawyer, after a
moment's thought. Forbes conveyed the property to his wife for one
dollar, in consideration of her releasing him from alimony and dower
rights.Yes, she obtained a divorce from him some time in '86 or '87.
I think you'll find her agreement on record, but perhaps Forbes didn't
record it. I haven't seen him for years, and don't know what's become
of him.Do I remember what name the initial C stood for? Yes, I
believe I do. It had a Spanish sound. Something like Castilian.
Castelez? Yesthat was it.
Williams thanked Mr. Harmon and went home to work his way through a
maze of tangled thoughts to the conclusion that his duty to his
neighbour, Miss Thornton, was to love her far better than himself.
His reasoning was something like this: Miss Thornton had been
cruelly deceived. She had honoured a scamp by receiving his attention.
Perhaps she had even given him her love. But in any case, humiliation
was to be her portion. The blow to her self-esteem she could not
escapebut might he not save her pride the lasting sting of even a
partial publicity? How could this best be done? To speak to a man of
Forbes' character would be a waste of words and give no protection to
the girl. Mr. and Mrs. Thornton were in Bermuda, and every moment's
delay must add insult to the injury. The girl's chaperone was a foolish
hysterical old aunt whose idea of action in emergency would probably
begin and end in a telegram. What if he undertook the task himself? He
was a rival and she might not believe him? There was no chance for
disbelief. If she required proofsthey were at hand. His knowledge of
her humiliation would make her hate the sight of his face, and she
would never forget or forgive it? He would still have saved her
something of bitterness, and for this there was no sacrifice he would
Now I do not propose to argue that Williams took the wisest course
even if Mr. and Mrs. Thornton were in BermudaI am not prepared to say
he was not quixoticI am ready to admit he was disqualified from
acting either as tale-bearer or guardian, but I do maintain that in
taking upon himself the responsibility of putting the girl in
possession of the facts, he showed far more moral courage than nine out
of ten men would display under similar circumstances.
Had Miss Thornton's mind been built upon broader lines, she would
have appreciated the admirable tact with which Williams handled the
whole subject and understood the delicacy and deference which disclosed
the truth so gradually that she seemed to discover it for herself. But
Miss Thornton's mind was somewhat self-centred, and as she heard his
story her pretty face showed nothing but its prettiness. She listened
to the words of the man, but took no note of his quiet, sympathetic
tone. Suddenly the situation dawned upon her. Her cheeks flushed, her
hands, which had been clasped behind her shapely head, fell, and she
sat there in the half light of the cozy drawing-room gazing before her
without seeing the pained and tenderly anxious glance of the man who
stood looking down at her.
Good night, Miss Thornton.Won't you even say good-bye?
There was no answer from the girl who, with elbows on knees and her
chin in her hands, stared into the fading fire as though unconscious of
Good-bye, then, Miss Thornton, andand God keep youdear!
Now it may be true, as her garrulous old aunt told me, that Miss
Thornton was discovered in the drawing-room that night weeping
bitterly, but if so, I venture to assert her tears were those of
angerthe tears of a spoilt child. However, the point is not what I
think, but what Williams thought. He left the Thorntons' house firmly
convinced that he had wholly failed in his mission and succeeded only
in making the woman he loved hate him. But as he lay awake brooding
over the situation the possibility presented itself that the girl might
go to Forbes with the story and assert her loyalty by offering to marry
him then and there. Such things had happened before. As he thought it
over, the possibility became a fear, and the fear a resolution to
protect the girl, not only against Forbes, but if necessary against
herself. The step he took was theoretically quite as impossible as his
original action. But to attempt the impossible is sometimes to achieve
Early the next morning Williams looked up Pierce & Butler, the
attorneys who had represented Mrs. Forbes in the divorce proceedings,
obtained her address, and straightway called upon the lady herself. His
interview was short, but at its close he made another extraordinary
move. He telegraphed Meyer that the East Broadway business was to be
closed within twenty-four hours. Seeing that he had not up to that time
made any adequate examination of the title, his action must have seemed
somewhat rash to his clerksespecially as he spent most of the
intervening hours, not at the Register's office, but in the building of
the green lamps on Mulberry Street known as Police Headquarters.
As a result of this, the first callers at Williams' offices on the
following morning were afforded singular accommodations. One of them
was stationed behind the portières, another was supplied with a seat in
a closet, and another was ensconced in a coat-cupboard.
Then Williams sat down at the big table in the Title-closing room
and waited for Meyer and the other parties to the purchase and sale of
the property. They came promptly.
Meyer arrived first, accompanied by Jacobs, his confidential clerk,
for that prudent Hebrew never did anything without one of his own
people being present as a witness; then Mr. Winter, the real estate
broker, dropped in, and when finally Mr. August Stein, Attorney-at-law,
introduced himself and his client Mrs. Forbes. Williams showed no
surprise that Mr. Stein's client did not in any way resemble the Mrs.
Forbes he had interviewed only the day before.
Mr. Stein was a nervous, active little man who spoke in the sharp
brisk tones of one who has much to do and but little time to do it in.
Now, Mr. Williams, you are all ready, I hope. I have another
appointment at 11.30. You found everything clear? Of courseof course.
It isn't everyone who can carry East Broadway property free and
clear.No, indeed, Mrs. Forbes.
The attorney smiled approvingly at his client.
Williams studied the papers in his hand and answered without looking
Everything is completed except the formality of identification. Of
course it's all right, but you know I have not had the pleasure of
meeting Mrs. Forbes and I don't think my client has
Meyer shook his head.
Well, don't let's waste time on that, Mr. Stein interrupted, you
know Mr. Winter here, and he will identify Mrs. Forbes to your
Williams glanced inquiringly at the broker whom he had known for a
couple of years.
Do you identify this lady as the owner of this East Broadway
property, Mr. Winter? he asked.
Surelysurely, was the answer.
How long have you known her, Mr. Winter?
Well, aboutI should sayit must betwo years.
Who introduced youor how did you meet?
Now, Mr. Williams, interrupted Mr. Stein, this is very
interesting, but it's wasting my time. All this should have been
attended to before I was summoned. I am a very busy man and you'll have
to postpone the whole matter until to-morrow. I really can't wait.
Mr. Stein began buttoning up his coat and reached for his hat.
Williams fumbled among his papers for a moment and drew forth an
Perhaps we can save time with your aid. This is rather a large
transaction for me, so I have to go slowly. You will have no objection
to signing this affidavit of identificationwill you, Mr. Stein?
The attorney adjusted his glasses.
It's not necessary, Sir, he remarked, merely glancing at the paper
and handing it back.It's not at all necessary. There is already
sufficient evidence to satisfy any reasonable man and we are not
obliged to satisfy you. It was your duty to have convinced yourself
before the time of closing.
I didn't suppose you would have any objection to giving the proof
I don't know that there is any objection, but I've been closing
real estate titles all my life and I know my rights and don't intend to
be imposed upon.
I'm not trying to impose upon you, my dear Sir.
That's just what you are trying to do and I don't proposethe
lawyer rose and began to gather up his papers.
What is the matter, Mr. Stein? Why are you getting excited?
I'm not excited, Sir, but I propose to be treated with decent
respect and not like a shyster, and since you insist
But I don't insist interrupted Williams. Sit down, Mr.
Since you insist, persisted the lawyer, walking toward Mr.
Meyer, I make a tender to your client of this deed he drew a
document from his pocket and handed it to Meyer's clerk.
Sit down, Mr. Stein, repeated Williams sharply,unless you want
me to think you are seeking an excuse to break this contract.Sit down
at once, Sir!Mr. Jacobslet me look at that deed.
The clerk handed the paper to him and Williams glanced at the
This is already signed and acknowledged before you as witness and
Notary, Mr. Stein. It is perfectly satisfactory. Let us proceed.
The attorney slowly sat down again and then laughed uneasily.
I had completely forgotten that, Mr. Williams. Your insistence
nettled me for the moment and quite put it out of my head. A tempest in
a tea-potmuch ado about nothing, of course!But rights are rights,
you know.It's instinct with us lawyers to insist upon them, isn't
Mr. Meyer, kindly hand your check to this lady who will deliver her
deed, directed Williams, as he passed the paper to the woman.
Meyer beckoned the young lawyer to the window.
Is everything all right? he whispered, as he fumbled in his pocket
for the check, are you sure?
Do as I tell you! was the whispered answer, so sharp and savage
that the old man started and his cunning eyes flashed angrily. For a
moment he hesitated, gazing earnestly into the calm face of his counsel
and then turned suddenly and handed the check to the woman.
Is that check certified? Let me see it! cried Stein starting to
his feet. The woman handed it to him, at the same time delivering the
deed into Meyer's outstretched hand.
Now what did you do that for? Stein snapped angrily at his
clientcan't you wait
He stopped suddenly, for something clicked behind him and he turned
just in time to see Winter handcuffed and struggling in the arms of a
With a cry the fellow leaped across the long, narrow table, but as
he landed on the other side he found himself facing the muzzle of a
revolver pointing at him from the window curtains. Without a word he
threw up his hands, and as he did so passed the check into his mouth.
The movement did not escape Williams, and like a flash his revolver was
between the fellow's eyes.
Spit it out, he said quietly. Don't chew it! This revolver is
The check came again into evidence.
Hands down for the banglesmy son, ordered the detective as he
stepped toward Stein. As the handcuffs snapped, Williams lowered his
weapon and picked up the check. Then as the men moved their prisoners
toward the door he turned to the woman.
Mrs.Forbes, he began in a low tone, won't you be good enough to
tell me your right name?
The reply was a paroxysm of tears and sobs. Williams waited for the
outburst to subside and then quietly repeated his question. The answer
came brokenly between sobs.
It'd beit'd be Mrs. ForbesififI had my rights!
Williams stared at the speaker in utter amazement. Was there
something more in this case? Who was this woman, anyway, and why did
she claim any right to Forbes' name?
And until you get your rights, he said, what shall I call you?
Mary HalpinMiss, answered the woman, sullenly.
Williams signalled the waiting detective to stop where he was.
Well, Mary, he continued, will you kindly go into my room for a
The woman rose and passed into the room indicated.
Miss Halpin, began Williams when the door closed, I suppose you
are well aware what your position is, and that it can't be made much
worse. I cannot, of course, promise you any leniency, but if you want
to answer a few questions you can regard yourself as speaking
confidentially to your Counsel, and I may possibly be able to give you
The woman looked at him in silence for a moment and then nodded.
Are you the Mary Halpin mentioned in the divorce case of Forbes
Williams studied the face before him, and as he did so,
possibilities began to crowd thick and fast upon his mind. He
determined to risk something in his next question.
Mr. Forbes suggested that you impersonate Mrs. Forbes, he asserted
How do you know that? snapped Miss Halpin.
No matterI do know it. What reason did he give for wanting you to
impersonate his wife?
The woman buried her face in her hands and Williams let her cry it
Here was a nice ending to all his plans for Miss Thornton! If
Forbes' connection with this case was known what a splendid newspaper
story his courtship of the young society girl would make! All the
horrors of publicity would be crowded upon her with crushing force. She
might bear humiliation in the sight of her friends, but not before the
gaze of the world. If anything was to be done to strangle that
journalistic tid-bit it must be done then and there.
Why did he want you to impersonate his wife? repeated Williams.
The woman looked at him through her tears.
He said he had to have the money andif I did ithe'd have
plenty. He saidhe said there was no harmthat I wasI wasthat I
had a right to say I was Mrs. Forbes, and he'd marry me afterwards. But
he'll never do it now! she sobbed, he'll never do it now!
I think he will.
Miss Halpin stopped weeping and stared eagerly at Williams.
O if I thought that! she began. I'd do anythinganything!
Listen then. Does Winter or Stein know of Forbes in this matter?
Don't they know he's back of you?
All your own game?You bought them yourself?
And you don't want revenge on Forbes?
No, no. God forgive me, I love him!
Then prove it. You will be taken to the Tombs now. Don't get
frightened. Say nothing to anyone. Before night Forbes will get bail
for you and you will go at once with him to Dr. Strong's in Jersey
City. Forbes has promised to marry you before?
So I suppose you wouldn't mind having some sort of hold on him?
The woman smiled.
All right, I'll give you some advice. If he hesitates at the altar
this time tell him you've been asked to turn State's evidence and
remind him that it is difficult for wives to testify against their
husbands. That's all. Good-bye.
Williams opened the door and stepped into the outer office.
You will find your prisoner in my room, Sergeant, he said to the
Dan, he called to the office boy, as the door closed upon the
officer and his charge. Ring up Mr. R. Castelez Forbes, and say I want
to see him here at once.
Ten minutes later Williams was retained by R. Castelez Forbes, and
gave that gentleman some sound advice. The same day toward evening,
Mrs. R. C. Forbes, née Halpin, and her husband, alias R.
Castelez Forbes, started very privately for the West, and the City of
New York was the richer in forfeited bail.
* * * * *
It is often difficult to differentiate between the accessory to a
crime and the counsel defending the criminal. Williams, of course,
might plead confidential communications, which certainly cover a
multitude of sins. But I prefer to pardon him on the theory that all is
fair in love andwell, law is a sort of civil war. Sometimes not even
If this wasn't a true story, I might report that Williams married a
fine woman in every way worthy of him, and that Meyer as a reward for
that day's good work gave him all his business ever afterwards. But the
facts are Williams never married, and Meyer refused to pay his fee.
Whereupon Williams promptly sued him for the money, won the suit and
collected every cent due him. That is the real reason why the old scamp
respects him nowadays and gives him so much of his business.
BY WAY OF COUNTERCLAIM.
There are office buildings still standing in down-town New York
where the occupant does not merge his identity with the numerals on his
door. But they are very old buildings and the tenants are apt to be as
old-fashioned as their surroundings. It was in one of these venerable
piles that Clayton Sargent passed his legal apprenticeship, and perhaps
this explains some things in his career which are otherwise
When Sargent was first ushered into the offices of Messrs. Harding,
Peyton, Merrill and Van Standt he found a suite of plainly furnished
rooms connected by green baize doors and surrounded by law books from
floor to ceiling. The desks were large and dignifiedalmost learned in
their solidity, as though they had soaked in all the wisdom that had
dripped from the pens and all the experience of the pen holders.The
large iron safe built into the wall of the rear room looked a very
monster of mystery from whose cavernous jaws no secrets would ever
escape, and in whose keeping confidences were secure as with the
No sound of the typewriter was ever heard in those rooms, though the
crackle and snapping of the soft cannel coal in the open fireplaces
would occasionally lure someone into betting that the Ancients had
surrendered. No telephone ever tinkled its call inside those doors and
no member of the firm ever learned to use that instrument.
Harding, Peyton, Merrill and Van Standt's law papers were a joke in
the profession. They were engrossed on parchment-like paper and tied
with blue or red silk string, and if a seal was used two bits of ribbon
always protruded from its edge. But those who read these documents,
though they laughed at the outside, respected the inside, for the
Ancients had a large practice and knew how to keep it.
They're harmless old birds, said Elmendorff, whose place Sargent
was taking, but utterly impractical. I've been three years in a live
office and I tell you I couldn't stand this. You'll waste your time
here. Why, not a week ago I heard old man Peyton tell a client that
he'd better put everything on the altar of compromise and then offer to
divide, rather than get into litigation. They're dying of dry rot. You
can't get up a scrap here to save your eternal. Just think of this for
instance. Last month I began an action for the Staunton Manufacturing
Company against Mundel and it was dead open and shut, too. Well, in
walks Harding one morning madder than hops. 'How did this get in the
office?' says he, waiving the complaint. I told him I advised the
plaintiffs that they had a good case. 'Good case!' he roars. 'There's
not the slightest justice in the claimnot a scintilla of justice,
Sir!' 'But we can win,' I told him, and I showed the old fool where the
defendant had slipped up in the wording of his contract and how we had
him cold. Well, darn me, if he didn't get hotter under the collar than
before, asking me if I thought his firm were hired tricksters and
bravos and I don't know what. Finally he bundled all the papers back to
the Staunton Company and wrote them they oughtn't to sue. That settled
me, and so I told them I'd have to get out into the world again before
the moss grew. It's a pity, too, for they've really got a smooth lot of
clients if they only knew how to work them.
So Elmendorff departed, but no one ever heard that he took any of
the Ancients' practice with him.
It was this atmosphere which Sargent breathed for three years, and
perhaps, as has been said, that may account for some of his many
eccentricities and explain, in a measure, his treatment of Fenton.
Fenton had married the daughter of Brayton Garland, one of Mr.
Harding's clients, and when his wife sued him for divorce he brought
the papers to Sargent.
It was in offices very different from the Ancients' that Fenton
found his counsel. They were on the 17th floor of the Titan Building,
on lower Broadway, where the draught in the hall steadily sucked a
stream of people into elevators, which, with the regularity of
trip-hammers, shot them up breathless and dropped them gasping.
There were three law firms in the same suite with Sargent,four
attorneys on their own hook, a Seamless Mattress Company, an Electric
Drying Company and a Collection Agency. Typewriters clicked in every
room, messengers clattered up and down the long hallway, brass gates on
the railed-off spaces swung to and fro crashing with every swing, the
telephones sung a constant chorus, electric bells buzzed and tinkled,
doors banged, papers rustled, voices droned or struck the air in sharp
staccato, and yet in the midst of all this restless human energy there
were times when Sargent felt lonely. It was not merely that he missed
the atmosphere of quiet and study, but the very rush and scramble
seemed to generate ideas and actions foreign to the code of
professional ethics and dignity which governed the Ancients.
Sometimes the denizens of the Titan Building discussed the matter
Theoretically your venerable friends are all right, a brilliant,
pushing young lawyer told him one day. The man who lives by maxims in
this day and generation will have food for thought, but he'll never
earn his salt. We start with the same point of view, but
He shrugged his shoulders.
But someone throws gold-dust in our eyes? suggested Sargent.
Bosh! was the retort. Don't talk the cant of the incompetent. The
Bar is of a higher average to-day than it ever was before.
But despite the high average, Sargent often felt himself a
solitary outsider looking on at the mad clamour and pitiless pursuit
and wondering if it was worth all it seemed to cost. A defect in early
educationthis pausing to thinkfor philosophers on lower Broadway
are apt to have but brief careers.
There's nothing in the case, Fenton told his counsel, who sat
gazing out of the window at the tiny human ants crawling in and out of
the stone heaps in the street below.
Sargent looked narrowly at his client, but the side face told him
nothing, so he made no comment and Fenton continued,
I don't know why she wants to drag us into court. I suppose some
long-whiskered tabby has been telling her I ought to stay home every
night. Say, Sargent, isn't there some way of bringing her to her
The speaker turned from the window with a gesture of impatience, and
Sargent studied the handsome though somewhat boyish face. He knew
Fenton for an easy-going fellow, but no fool. He was a young man who
had earned his money by his own brains, acquiring all the
self-confidence and other characteristics, good and bad, which
accompany achievement. There was strength of character in his face, and
a certain firmness of purpose about the mouth that suggested something
which the clear blue eyes contradicted.
You say there is nothing in the case, Sargent answered. Why do
you suppose she brings suit? I don't know Mrs. Fenton, of course, but
women are not anxious as a rule to get themselves into court. Have you
tried to see her and obtain an explanation?
Lord, no! If you knew her you'd see how useless it would be.
There's no way out of this except by showing her we mean business.
She's nearly killed all the affection I ever had for her by this
nonsense, but I want it stoppedand stopped right now.
The suggestive lines of Fenton's mouth were strongly marked as he
snapped out the last words.
If you no longer love your wife,am I to understand that you want
a divorce? Have you anything to set up by way of counterclaim?
By way of counterclaim? No.Yes, I have. I want the children.
Sargent smiled. That's hardly a counterclaim, he answered.
Well, it's counterclaim enough for me.That's just the thing. You
push that and we'll see about the rest afterwards. If she wants to go
into court she'll have to go without the children.
Fenton's mouth was firmly set, and its lines were almost grim. The
boyish look had faded, and without it his features developed
Mr. Fenton, he said at last, I don't like these cases, and when a
man dislikes his work, you know, he's not apt to do it well. I think
you would do better to retain other counsel.
Now that's all nonsense, Sargent. You are just the man for me. I
don't want one of those advertising roarers who'll have us in every
paper. I want this thing stopped. You'll only have to apply for the
children and that'll end it. There are plenty of legal ruffians to be
had. I have chosen you because you are a gentleman and know how this
business should be handled.
There was no note of flattery in Fenton's tone.
But, Mr. Fenton, admitting there is nothing in the case, the
custody of the children is still a matter resting wholly in the
discretion of the Court and you may not succeed. Mr. Harding is an
excellent lawyer and will doubtless make a good fight. You remember, of
course, that I was in his office some years ago?
Fenton looked sharply at his counsel and his eyes narrowed slightly
as he answered.
Well, that doesn't make any difference, does it? It ought to be all
the better. You must know all the old chap's tricks.
There was a suggestion of cunning about the man which completely
transformed him for a moment. His watchful eyes, however, read the
doubt in Sargent's face and bespoke a charming sincerity as he added:
Why, of course, I knew you were brought up with 'the Ancients,'
Sargent. I was only joking. But that is merely another reason why you
are best fitted to undertake this case. If it were the ordinary divorce
dirt I wouldn't ask you to plough it up. But it's not. Mr. Harding
knows you and you will be able to approach him easily. Mrs. Fenton has
been poorly advised, I think, but the mischief's not yet wholly done.
Make your 'motion' or whatever you call it, and then you'll find the
rest is easy. I know you can handle the matter as few men could. I've
wanted to give you some business for a long time and I'm sorry to begin
with this. However, it will not be the last, you know.
Sargent had built up a fair practice since he left the Ancients,
but this was the first time he had ever been opposed to them. He
confessed to himself that he did not like it.
Fenton was not wholly convincing, but if he did not take up this
case someone else would. If he was better than his profession it was
high time to retire from it. Then, too, Mr. Harding was growing old,
and doubtless the woman deceived by silly stories had deceived him.
Very probably, as Fenton said, the first aggressive move would settle
the whole affair. What fools women were to listen to every Old Wife who
came along with idle tittle-tattle seeking recruits for the great Army
of the Misunderstood! Fenton's business was worth having, and if this
matter went well there was no knowing where it might lead. Moreover all
the essential facts were in the defendant's favour, and as Sargent
skilfully set them forth in his moving papers he experienced that
subtle influence, known to every lawyer, which can turn the most
judicial counsel into a partisan, and make the silliest quarrel a
matter of deadly moment between strangers to its cause.
Any Court with jurisdiction in divorce proceedings draws an audience
peculiar to itself.
Every Court Room has, of course, its individual devotees. For
instance Dutch Pete is accustomed to the corner bench in Part XV. and
would not change it for any other sleeping quarters, and even the
migratory loafers seem to know and respect old Lawyer Brady's seat in
Trial Term Part XX.
But, with divorce matters on the calendar, Special Term Part I.
appeals to a particular class. One can recognise its women out in the
Rotunda long before they turn toward the haven, and one can almost feel
its moist and clammy type of man.
To see the women with their hard faces well nigh intelligent with
curiositytheir long necks and ears turned to catch each salacious
morselis a sight to sicken every man with memory of a mother. To
watch the flabby-jowled, pimply persons of the masculine gender, their
drooling mouths fashioned to a grin, and their perspiring hands
clutching the soiled and soiling newspapers, is to understand the cynic
who protested that the more he saw of men the better he liked dogs.
Mr. Harding, said the Justice, as the arguments in Fenton
vs. Fenton closed, it seems to me the defendant has made out a
reasonable case. As you have said, this matter rests wholly in the
discretion of the Court, and although we hold the parents joint and
equal guardians of their children and do not follow the old world rule
that a father has a superior claim to the possession of his offspring,
yet, as it seems to me, this is a case where that rule should apply.
Mrs. Fenton has left her husband's house without just cause, as he
alleges. She makes no claim for his support, and the complaint, as has
been shown, is deficient in its detail. If I am wrong, a trial will set
the matter right. In the meantime I award the possession of the
children to the father. If you can agree with Mr. Sargent upon the
terms of the order, I will make such provision for occasional visits of
the mother as justice may
A scraping of chairs and rustling of skirts drowned the closing
words of the Judge and Sargent turned to see a woman entering the Court
Room with two little children at her side. She walked directly toward
the counsel's table, and the restless eye-lashes of the unsexed
painted her in rapid sweeping glances, now upnow downand the
fat-paunched leerers followed her with looks scarcely less offensive.
My child, you should not have come here, whispered Mr. Harding, as
he rose and offered her his chair.
She was scarcely more than a girl, but her tall graceful figure
bespoke a quiet dignity, and the grey eyes with their steady gaze told
of developed character.
Sargent glanced at his client. Fenton must have seen the doubt
expressed in the lawyer's face, for he spoke up sharply.
Let's finish this business, Sargent. I suppose I can take the
But his counsel did not answer, and Fenton, growing impatient,
addressed the Court.
Your Honour, these are my childrenI suppose I may take them now?
The Judge, busy with the signing of papers, frowned but took no
other notice of the questioner.
Mrs. Fenton laid her hand on Mr. Harding's arm and almost shook it
as she asked,
What does he mean? Whatdoeshemean?
How the necks stretched and the ears strained to catch the counsel's
But he whispered to the woman at his side, who, with her arms thrown
about the children, seemed oblivious of the eyes glutting themselves
Impossible! she kept repeating, it is impossible!
The old lawyer shook his head gravely and glanced uneasily at the
defendant. Again he whispered to the young wife, speaking rapidly and
stopping her interruptions with the pressure of his hand upon her arm,
till at length she burst out in a frightened undertone,
But I tell you it is impossible! It shall not be done!
Sargent rose and crossed to where the two were talking.
Pardon me for interrupting, he said to Mr. Harding, but I
apprehend this decision is a surprise to Mrs. Fenton. Can we not
arrange that the matter shall go no further?
Gladly, Sargent, but how?
I am authorised by my client to withdraw this motion if Mrs. Fenton
will discontinue her case.
Mr. Harding looked at the fair face turned toward him.
You understand, he said. This is Mr. Sargent,your husband's
With a gesture, half terror and half disdain, the young mother drew
the children closer to her side and Sargent felt the hot blood flying
to his cheeks. But she seemed only conscious of Mr. Harding's presence
as she answered him.
Does he dare offer to bribe me with my own children? It is
Mr. Harding glanced sadly at the younger lawyer as the latter turned
again to his impatient client.
She won't consent? muttered Fenton. Nonsense! You've worked the
smooth business right enough, Sargent, but we've won the motion and
done the decent. Now knock things about. You've got to scare her half
out of her wits
Sargent's face flushed.
I think you are mistaking her, he said. I know you are mistaking
Good Lordman, don't get mussy just when everything's in our own
hands. We've got to push it through now or never. Whydamn it, he
whispered fiercely, don't you understand we can't defend this case?
We've got to bluff her out!
The word we stung Sargent as though someone had slapped his face.
Yet he was associated with this man. Associated for what purposeto do
what? His client's angry outburst had made it plain enough.
Fenton saw the glance of scorn in his lawyer's eyes.
I'll be my own attorney thenand a damn sight better one, he
muttered and turned toward the group at the other end of the table.
Well, now, let's have the childrenCome, kids.
He rose and took a step forward. As he did so his wife sprang to her
feet and faced him. He stopped with an uneasy laugh before the splendid
figure of the woman drawn up to her full height, and met her measured
look of courage and contempt. Then he turned again toward his counsel,
speaking in an ugly undertone.
See here, Sargent, I'm not going to make a fool of myself before
all these people. Get the officers to bring the children out to the
But Sargent did not reply, and for a moment there was dead silence
in the Court Room.
Fenton stooped toward his counsel.
What do you think you're paid for? he whispered menacingly.
What was he paid for? That was plain talkthat made the truth stand
out clearly! He was the hireling of this mannot his associate. He was
hired to do contemptible work and he had done it,was doing it. No
wonder his employer stood ready with insult to show how he despised his
creature. It was perfectly safe. An officer of the Court was bound by
professional duty and gagged by confidential communications. He must
sit still and see this outrage on Justice perpetrated. Even aid in it.
And for what? For money. How far had he sold himselfhow much of his
manhood was included in the purchase? He could retire from the case?
Yes, after the day's dirty work was finished and the wrong could not be
If he raised his hand to stop this thing, how many lawyers in the
City would uphold him? Not many in the Titan Building. It was easy to
foreshadow the construction which would be placed upon his conduct. He
could almost hear the fierce denunciation. To defend himself he would
have to violate professional secrecy still further. True, there were
those who would understandmen to whom their calling was and always
would be the honourable profession of the lawmen who would never
permit the Law's mantle of dignity to become a cloak for the vicious.
But the othersthe high average? Had he the courage to face their
Perspiration poured down Sargent's face and his hand shook with
suppressed wrath as Fenton rose and again addressed the Court.
I presume your Honour will enforce your order? I don't wish to make
The Justice looked inquiringly at the lawyers, but neither of them
made any sign.
Madam, he said at last, I have awarded your husband the custody
of his children pending this action. You will kindly put no obstacle in
the way of the execution of my order.
The chairs of the leerers grated on the floor with eagerness, and
the skirts of the shameless shivered with delicious tremors.
Ahthis was worth coming for! A woman's tenderest feelings were to
be exposed and crushed. Privacy was to be invadeddelicacy was to be
unveiledthe sacred was to be handled. Ahthis well repaid the
Mrs. Fenton flushed as the Judge addressed her, and then grew ashy
pale as she answered.
You have no right, no man has any right, to dispose of my children.
They shall not leave me! I will not permit it!
The Judge glanced at the bulging eyes and gaping mouths of the
audience and frowned angrily.
Officer, he said sharply, take those children and deliver them to
There are moments when the Bar does not envy the Bench.
As the Judge's words reached her, the young mother leaped to her
feet and swept the children behind her. Then she backed toward the wall
and crouched there like some magnificent wild thing, trembling with
that mingling of terror and courage which warns the fiercest beast to
Let him, she panted, hoarsely, let him comecome and take them
ifif he dare!
Mr. Harding rose and stepped toward the woman, laying his hand
gently upon her arm. She gazed at him for an instant with no
recognition in her eyes, then flung her arms about his neck and laughed
the hideous shuddering laughter of hysteria.
Here was entertainment indeed! A red-letter day in the annals of the
audience! To-morrow the Court Room would be packed with expectantsall
the floating population of the Rotunda would be on hand.
The Judge seemed to think of this.
Remove that woman! he ordered.
A court officer stepped forward, and at the same time Fenton moved
toward the children.
Then Sargent's voice broke the stillness of the Court.
If your Honour please, I wish to withdraw the motion in this case.
There was a moment of absolute, breathless silence.
Then Fenton sprang to his feet.
Withdraw? he almost shouted. What do you mean? This is my case.
It's been decided in my favour. I won't permit it!
Sargent only addressed the Court as he answered,
Nevertheless, I withdraw the motion.
The Justice looked steadily at the lawyer's face, and his gaze was
not without a trace of approval.
I must warn you, Counsellor, he said at length, that this is very
unusual. It is a most serious matter.
I will take all responsibility, your Honour.
Very well, Mr. Sargent. You consent, I presume, Mr. Harding? I am
not sure that I have the power, but if not, the error can be corrected
by appeal. Mark the motion, 'withdrawn.'
This is treachery! Fenton shouted at his lawyer. I'll have you
disbarred, Sir! You'll lose every client you've got
But I'll keep my self-respect, answered Sargent, in a whisper.
I'll have you disbarred, Sir!I'll ruin you utterly. Your Honour,
he's conspired with the other sidehe used to be in their office. I
Clear the Court Room! thundered the Justice.
* * * * *
Outside in the Rotunda the audience placed Sargent on trial and
straightway condemned him. In legal circles his conduct was denounced,
eulogised, and on the whole deplored.
But the Court of Conscience (hear the cynic mutter Court of last
resort!) held him guiltless, and from its judgment there is no appeal.
IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE.
Valentine Willard was not a bad fellow at heart, although Gordon
will never admit it. But Gordon is a crank who carries his professional
enmity into private life.
Their trouble began about an affidavit of merits.
Gordon had a case in which he was about to enter judgment, when
Willard blocked him off with an extension obtained from the Court by
means of an affidavit, in which he swore that his client had fully and
fairly stated the matter to him, and from that statement he verily
believed the defendant had a good and substantial defence to the action
upon the merits.
This, of course, was utter fiction. There was no thought of a
defence. But delay defeats, and later Willard withdrew, allowing Gordon
to take the twenty-fifth instead of the first judgment against his man.
The same thing is done every day of practice in the City of New
York. Lawyers who are Officers of the Court prostitute the Court with
cheerful zealmen with a high sense of self-respect in their private
lives, demean themselves beyond expression in their professional
careersgentlemen who would not stoop to the slightest equivocation
up-town, perjure themselves for money down-town, or teach their clerks
to do it for them. It is not a pretty practice, but Gordon ought to
have known the custom. However, being young at that time, it still
shocked him. To-day he says it only fills him with disgust. But he was
just as much of a crank then as he is now, so he took Willard's
affidavit before the Grievance Committee of the Bar Association.
He might have seen the smile on the faces of his auditors as he told
his story, had he not been blinded by zeal. However the Chairman was
grave and judicial enough when he announced it was not the province of
the Committee to take up the quarrels of counsel, and that they did not
propose to investigate light accusations of perjury.
Indeed, the Chairman was so very judicial, and his speech so well
delivered, that he might have been suspected of having said something
of the same sort before under similar circumstances. But Gordon, crank
that he was, thought of nothing but his point, and stoutly maintained
that false swearing was being practised every day by lawyers, great and
smallthat tricks and treachery were personal matters reflecting on
but not involving the profession as a whole, while licensed perjury was
a travesty of law, striking at the very foundations of Justice. So he
went on, boiling over with intensity and utterly innocent of tact.
But when the Chairman stopped him and said something about seeking
aid in legislative action, or going before a Grand Jury, Gordon,
young as he was, looked straight into the speaker's eyes and drank in
experience, if not wisdom, from their glance.
Later on Willard's client quarrelled with his counsel, and put into
Gordon's hands the very proofs he needed. But the Grievance Committee
never saw them, for Gordon locked the papers in his safe and spoke no
But that did not close the episode.
It was, however, the beginning of the end as far as Gordon and
Willard were concerned.
More than a year passed before the two men met again. Willard had in
the meantime been appointed an Assistant District Attorney, and
practised only in the Criminal Courts. Their encounter was entirely a
matter of accident, though Gordon doesn't think so. Nevertheless, the
facts are that Gordon chanced to wander into General Sessions while
waiting for some papers, and happened to find his bête-noir
prosecuting a case of burglary, and it was merely a matter of habit
that caused him to study the prisoner as closely as he did.
The man's face was gentle, and almost expressionless in its vague
wonder at the scene before him. Something had its grip on himjust
what he did not seem to knowbut something monstrous and merciless in
its mechanism, and something was being said about himjust what he did
not appear to comprehend.
Gordon watched the listless figure, and the weary droop of the head,
and interpreted for himself.
Perhaps the poor wretch had struggled when arrested, but without
availhad stormed and protested to the sergeant at the police station,
with no resulthad denied and explained to the Magistrate at the
hearing, but to no end. The Lawa hideous Somethingresistless in its
power, relentless in its purpose, wanted him. These menthe one on the
Bench, the one behind the rail, those others in uniformwished him out
of the way. Perhaps he had concluded he could best propitiate them by
giving as little trouble as possible. So he sat there inert and silent,
fascinated into non-resistance, watching the doors of his prison open
somewhat as a rabbit must watch the widening jaws of a snake.
It is impossible to comprehend the feeling without experiencing it,
but Gordon was a lonely sort of man, who sometimes felt himself apart
from, instead of a part of, the universe, and so he understood.
Mr. Assistant District Attorney Willard was presenting his case
ably, handling his points with so much care that Gordon asked the
policeman sitting beside him if the trial was of any importance.
Importance? Well, I should say so! Don't you see the Chief sitting
up near the rail?
Gordon glanced in the direction indicated and observed the Chief of
Police, note book in hand, watching every move of the District
Who is he? he asked, nodding toward the prisoner.
Why the larrup says his name is Winterand don't he look innocent?
Well, he's really Red Farrell, a crook we've been after for years. But
there's nothin' much gets by us, I guess.Eh?
But Gordon was studying the prisoner again and did not respond.
Winter? Where had he heard that name? Why, of course, Winter was the
married name of his old nurse, who had been in his father's family for
thirty years. But who was this man?
Gordon turned as he heard the whisper behind him and found himself
face to face with the very woman of whom he had been thinking.
Why, Margaret, what are you doing here?
O, Mr. Duncanit's him.
Jacktheremy son. She glanced toward the prisoner.
Gordon motioned toward the door and they passed out together into
O, Mr. Duncan, can you save him?You will, won't you, dearie? He's
my only boy! Indeed, indeed, he's not guilty for all he's been a wild
lad at times. O, why do they say he's Red Farrell, or some such man? O
please tell them, Mr. Duncan.
And then the story came out with a burst of tears which the Rotunda
saw and heard without any emotion whatsoever. It has witnessed so many
tearsthat Rotundaheard so many, many stories.
Before Court adjourned Gordon found himself committed to aid in the
defence of John Winterhis first criminal case. By evening he was
working enthusiastically, confident in the innocence of his client.
Winter was a stupid fellow and impossible as a witness, but this
only further convinced his new counsel, who believed a bad witness
could not be a good liar. But the defence had been poorly prepared at
the hands of the attorney assigned by the Court. Proper witnesses had
not been subpoenaeddetails had been neglected, while the prosecution
seemed unusually keen. This last fact worried and puzzled Gordon more
than all the others, and finally started him out on a tour of personal
When he returned he had learned enough to make him admit that with
the time at his command there was small hope of clearing his man from
the closely pressed charge.
One chance, however, remainedto see the Assistant District
Attorney and obtain an adjournment. But to beg a favour from that
source was gall and wormwood to Gordon. Moreover, what he had
discovered was not calculated to cool his hot head or make him more
diplomatic. So the mission did not promise well, and he had about
determined not to attempt it, when the look of despair and mute appeal
in Margaret's face made him reconsider, and drove him late at night to
visit a man he would have gone miles to avoid.
The Assistant District Attorney was the opposite of Gordon in every
waysmooth, politic, even tempered, and ambitious to drop the word
Assistant from his title. This, it was rumoured, he would do at the
next election. In an encounter between these two men it was not
difficult to foresee with whom would rest the advantage.
Willard welcomed Gordon to his study and opened with easy
commonplaces. But Gordon, hopelessly fanatic and stiff-necked in his
honesty, disdained the aid of conventions and pushed directly to his
Mr. Willard, you are prosecuting a young manJohn Winter by
Ah yes, I thought I saw you at the trial to-day, but didn't know
you practised in the Criminal Courts. Yes,John Winter, alias Red
I do not think so and that is why I am here. This young man is the
son of Margaret Winter, an old family servant of ours on whose word I
would stake my life. I have examined the prisoner and some of the
witnesses, and am sure a mistake is being made and that I can prove the
Well, I shall at least have the satisfaction of being beaten by a
worthy adversary. But you didn't come here merely to throw down the
gauntlet, Mr. Gordon.
The District Attorney smiled inquiringly at his visitor.
No, Sir. I want you to withdraw a juror in this case and consent to
a mistrial. Meanwhile we can both make further investigations and the
cause of Justice will not suffer.
If the speaker had asked for his head, Willard's face could not have
expressed more absolute amazement. He stared in silence for a
momentthen checked a sudden inclination to laugh and answered calmly
Of course you have not practised very extensively in the Criminal
Courts, Mr. Gordon, or you would know that what you ask is really
The expression was unfortunate and Gordon blazed up instantly.
I see nothing absurd about it, Sir. I ask you for time to ascertain
this man's guilt or his innocence which cannot now be properly
determined.Do you mind telling me just why this seems absurd to the
The speaker's tone and manner would have nettled a man less on his
guard, but Willard only laughed pleasantly as he answered:
The District Attorney's office is satisfied to proceed, and you
will admit the case must be fairly strong when we are undaunted by the
presence of distinguished counsel.
This is no matter for jests, Mr. Willard. Do you consider that the
duty of the District Attorney is to convict as many persons as
possibleto win as many cases as you can?
O come, come, Mr. Gordon, we are not here to discuss ethical
Mr. Willard, I am not here to be trifled with or side-tracked. Will
you tell me what investigations you have made to ascertain if this man
is innocent or not?
The District Attorney leaned back wearily in his chair and gazed at
the earnest face confronting him. Then he lazily reached for a
I am trying to keep my temper and be polite, he replied, but you
surely do not expect me to detail my case to my adversary?
Your case? Is that how you term the solemn duty you are charged
with? Does the District Attorney condescend to tricksdoes he hope to
make convictions by surprise?
Willard struck a match angrily, but he applied it to the cigarette
in his mouth before he answered:
Red Farrell must pay you a good fee, Mr. Gordon, to make this worth
For a moment Gordon was the cooler man of the two.
Is it not the duty of the District Attorney to ascertain the
truth? he asked as though the other had not spoken. Are you, a public
officer, interested in withholding any part of the truth? Have you
anything to conceal?
Mr. Gordon, I do not propose to listen to these insinuations
Let us cease bantering then, Mr. Willard. I am ready to talk
plainly. Must I?
You must indeed, unless you wish me to interpret for myself.
He flicked the ashes from his cigarette and glanced with a bored
expression toward the clock.
But Gordon did not speak until Willard's eyes met his again.
Very well then. I will see that you understand. The police have
been hunting a man called Red Farrell, but they have not been
successful. The Chief has blamed the Captainsthe Captains the
detectives, and the papers have ridiculed them all. The police of other
cities too have twitted them about it. Suddenly this young man is
arrested under suspicious circumstances. No one seems particularly
interested in him or knows much about him. Why shouldn't he be Red
Farrell? He is Red Farrell. Do you understand me?
I hear you making a very nasty and uncalled-for charge against the
police of this City and
One that you well know has both foundation and precedent. You know
the men who compose the force. So do I. They have the same pride and
ambition and morals that other men have. No more and no less. They
discover Red Farrell and remove a reproach. Suppose Winter isn't
Farrellwell, he's probably guilty anyhow. They want to win cases
Mr. Gordon, you have said about enough
To persuade you that this is a proper case for further
No, Sir, and I will tell you right now that this case will not be
adjourned for one hour!
Gordon rose to his feet and faced his opponent, wording his question
slowly and with deliberate emphasis.
Of course you personally have no special interest in convicting
this particular prisoner?
Willard sprang from his seat and angrily tossed his cigarette into
Mr. Gordon, take care you do not go too far.
Are you not especially anxious to win this case?
I am prosecuting, Sir, in the name of the People.
In the name of the People!
Gordon laughed the words out with stinging scorn, and the Attorneys
faced one another with a rage that in men of less refinement would have
set them at each other's throats. But the grapple was as deadly and the
purpose as grim as though the struggle had been physical. There was no
possible chance for argument now and Gordon flung off all restraint as
he poured forth his torrent of contempt.
In the name of the People! What people gave you a commission to
tamper with the liberty of the meanest thing alive? What people
privileged you to prosecute an innocent manfor you know he is
innocentI have seen it in every false smirk of your face ever since I
entered this room. And to prosecute him for what? For your own personal
advancementto win a case for your client. Do you want me to tell you
who your client is
I want you to understand that you can't blackmail me, Sir!
Blackmail you? By the Lord Harry, you shall hear the truth from one
man if you never hear it again. Don't lay a hand on me or I'll break
you like this pencil! Blackmail you? To-night you've got to know that
another man knows you through and through. To-night you have to go
unmasked. Are you afraid of hearing me say who your client is? Are you
afraid of having me name the politicians whose orders you execute and
whose nod is your law? You have been ordered by the police to win this
case. This case indeed! And you, the Assistant District
Attorney, in the name of the People, will win it by fair means or foul.
You have never investigated one fact, or asked one question, calculated
to bring out the truth, but by trick and wile you stoop to serve your
master's purpose. And do you think I do not know why? You poor fool!
Every honest man knows who cares to follow your dirty tracks, and the
knaves whose gifts you buy know whom they sell to and for what. But
remember this, the day you run for District Attorney will be the day I
take these papers where they will do the most good, and we will see if
the People want a perjurer to prosecute in their name!
Gordon tore from his pocket the affidavit of merits, with the
proofs of its falsity, and slapped them down upon the desk.
Willard glanced at the papers and then at his adversary. His answer
was almost a whisperhard and rasping.
Gordon, I will convict your man if I never win another case in my
By Godyou dare not!
The study door slammed as with a threatYou dare not!
The front door echoed You dare not! as a challenge.
When Willard looked up again the clock was striking three. But it
chimed You dare not, in the even tone of statement.
* * * * *
The second day of John Winter's trial brought a series of reverses
for the prosecution, and the prisoner was acquitted, to the utter
disgust of the police.
About that time the Assistant District Attorney's career suffered
one of those sudden blights, the origin of which is the mystery of a
A few years after this Red Farrell was really found and convicted,
but then Willard had been so long on the political shelf that those who
put him there had completely forgotten his existence.
But I believe they were right in accusing him of bungling that case.
Of course, he may have been intimidated, but the chances are he could
never have been convicted of perjury. The crime has almost the sanction
of custom. This he must have known. So why not credit him with worthy
motives and say he was a good fellow at heart, even though Gordon,
Indian-hater that he is, will never admit it?
THE LATEST DECISION.
There was a black-edged card on the bulletin board. That means a
vacancy in the club membership until some one of the waiting-list steps
into the dead man's shoes.
The card bore the inscription:
JOHN FURMAN DELAFIELD.
December 30, 1898.
Jack Delafield had been no chum of mine, but I never thought the
Governors did right by him, and I was glad to remember my partisanship
in the days when his mere name was sufficient to provoke instant debate
among the Thespians. I liked him then for some of the enemies he made,
and perhaps my enthusiasm was always more for the cause than the man.
However, I was sorryvery sorry, to see his name on that card, and I
said as much to the group of men among whom I took my accustomed seat
in the club corner.
Well, I'm sorry he's gone, but I never knew him at all, remarked
I never met him either, said Paddock.
Hepburn had never heard of him, neither had Joline, and Grafton knew
I looked at the speakers. Was it possible I was as old as they
seemed to intimate?
Delafield hasn't been regular at the club for many a long day, I
saidclinging to a straw. I doubt if he's been inside the door for
five yearsso it isn't very strange you haven't met. But you all know
of him. He was the Delafield of the Hawkins-Delafield affair.
The blank look on the faces of my companions surprised and, I admit,
shocked me. It was ridiculous, but Osborne's laugh grated, and I
welcomed Chandler's interrupting question, even though it pronounced
sentence on my senility.
YesI'll tell you the story, I answered, but after retailing to
members of this club something that was absolutely discussed to death
here, and labelling it a 'story,' I shall never address you again
except as 'my sons.'
Father, may I have a cigar? asked Chandler, as he rang the bell.
I signed the check.
Jack Delafield was a man of good family, I began, but to vary the
conventional opening and adhere to the truth, I may as well say his
parents were honest though not poor. He was a fellow of many talents,
so many, in fact, that he became known as a 'versatile genius.' He
never attained a more notable title. Not that he hid his talents under
a napkin. He sealed their fate in a bottlein many bottles. I'm afraid
we didn't do much to help him here. Everyone thought he'd come out all
right in the long run, and when he lost his money and settled down
seriously to the law, his friends supposed his wild oats had all been
sown. But somebody left him more money, and back he went to literature
and painting, and music. The old set welcomed him with open arms, but
didn't help him to write, or paint or practise. Then Misswell, I
won't say what girlput him on probation, and he wrote two really
notable stories before the probation was declared unsatisfactory. After
that he never seemed to care much about anything except art, and he
took that out in dreaming of the things he didn't do. Yet no one seemed
to blame him much, perhaps everybody liked him too well, and nobody
loved him enough. Anyway he went from bad to worse, until 'poor fellow'
used to be coupled with his name, and Delafield in various states of
intoxication became a familiar sight in these rooms.
He must have been a handsome fellow before drink coarsened and aged
him, for he was still good looking, though prematurely old, when I
first met him, shortly after my election to the club. About that time
Galloway gave his bachelor dinner in the private dining-room upstairs.
I attended as one of the ushers, and there were perhaps a dozen other
guestsamong them Delafield. The dinner was as most such dinners are,
a toast for every sentiment, and sentiments galore, so when we
adjourned to the grill-room for coffee, Jack tipped his chair against
the wall over there and fell asleep. We sat about the centre-table
smoking, and testing some remarkable port sent to grace the occasion.
I don't recall what led up to the conversation, but I do remember
that the general subject was women, and that Hawkins coupled the name
ofwell, a decent girl, with a remark so coarse that most of us
stopped talking, though two or three laughed. It was a speech such as I
suppose you've all heard made at some time or another, and which always
seems to receive the tribute of a laugh before being buried in the
silence of self-respecting men.
It was in the hush following this remark that Delafield's chair
fell sideways to the floor with a crash, making us start to our feet
and setting the glasses tinkling. The roar of mirth that burst out at
this mishap ceased instantly, as we saw Delafield's ghastly face, down
which the blood was running from a deep gash in his forehead.
Someone hurried forward, offering help, but Delafield pushed him
aside, staggered to his feet, closed the door and leaned his back
against ithis arms spread out as though to bar an exit.
We stood around the table in silence, watching him. Two or three
minutes must have passed before he spoke.
'IsMiMiss Smith engaged?'
The question was asked slowly in a low tone, as though the man was
struggling to control voice and speech.
We looked at one another and at the swaying figure before the door,
but no one answered.
'IsMiss Smith'sfather here?'
'Is Miss Smith's brother here?'
It was difficult to see all the faces in the smoky half-light of
the lamps, but those about me showed a pallor of apprehension.
Was Miss Smith's uncle thereor her guardianor her cousin? Was
anybody present who had a claim to represent her? No?
The broadening trickle of blood on Delafield's face dripped down
the white shirt front, but no one stirred or spoke.
'Then I wawant to say'here he lurched forward from the door and
stood rocking slightly at the end of the table. 'I want to say that
II'm drunk an'and I know it. But I'mI'm a gentleman. An'and
yonder's nothing but a cura low-lived curdrunk or sober.
Youyou've heard himnow see him!'
Something flashed before his eyes, and then a wine-glass struck
Hawkins square on the forehead, scattering in fragments over the table.
And Hawkins stood there, his face dripping with the wine, and his
clothes showing great stains of itstood there without moving as
Delafield leaned over the table and laughed
'Ifif you only had as much rered blood in youyouyou'
And then he fell fainting across the table, crashing among the
The Governing Board expelled Delafield, but the club sentiment was
so strongly in his favour that they afterward rescinded the expulsion,
and suspended him for three years. But that never satisfied his
I should think not, indeed, exclaimed Joline, it was outrageous!
I've always claimed you can't be sure a man's a thorough gentleman
until you've seen him drunk. And that proves it.
Oh, the many times I've heard your theory debated in this place!
The walls fairly ached with listening to the discussions.
Well, I'm sorry I didn't know the chap, interrupted Chandler.
Let's drink to his memory!
He struck the bell as he spoke. As the waiter filled the orders, I
noticed one of the older members on the stairs bending close to the
bulletin board and peering through his glasses at the notice of John
Chandler touched me on the shoulder.
To the memory of a gentlemanJack Delafield! he cried. We rose to
The old man on the stairs turned quickly and saw the lifted glasses.
His face was a study.
Hush! I whispered, that's Hawkins.
THE DISTANT DRUM.
Some for the Glories of this World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!
Almost everyone knows Governor Tilden's residence in Gramercy Park,
but those who don't know it as such, may remember a big house with
bas-reliefs over the door, on the south side of that quiet square.
However, the house has nothing to do with this story, except that it
was upon its door-steps I encountered Sandy McWhiffle, on my way to the
club. I use the word encountered advisedly, for Sandy, finding the
bottom step somewhat narrow for a couch, had allowed one of his legs
the freedom of the sidewalk, and it was over this protruding member
that I stumbled into the arms of the gentleman slumbering on the
It was late at nightand Sandy protested. His opening remarks
served to advise me that the cop couldn't get around the Square again
for at least fifteen minutesthat he (Sandy) hadn't slept five, and
that I'd destroyed his night's rest. It did seem unfair.I certainly
could have discovered his leg if I'd looked sharp, and twenty minutes'
rest iswell, it's twenty minutes' heaven when you need itand Sandy
needed itthere was no question about that. But the advent of the cop
making slumber inexpedient, if not impracticable for the time being, we
adjourned, at my suggestion, to the all-night restaurant on Fourth
Avenue, near Twenty-fifth Street. You know food is a fair substitute
for sleep at times, especially after one has experimented considerably
with sleep as a substitute for food. Sandy had made quite thorough
investigations along that line. But experiments were difficult, what
with the grey Bastinado Brigade in the Squares and Park, and their blue
accomplices in the side streets.
I agreed with my vis-à-vis over the poached eggs and ale at Gibson's
that it did seem queer the air wasn't free, and that sleeping in public
was a misdemeanour. Of course one does it when pressed, but while the
Island gives the needed respite, it lessens the chances of earning
money to buy a sleeping privilegeand many trips over the river are
apt to permanently impair claims to good citizenship. Sandy hadn't been
obliged to cross the upper East River yet, but he was getting very
weary and careless about concealing it. Hadn't he been able to get any
work? Not for a long time. Didn't he do anything at all? Yeshe looked
for a job about four hours a day. Why only four hours? Because he tired
easily and had to save his strength for the line at night. The line?
Yesthe bread line at Fleischmann's.
On the main artery of the chief city of this land of plentyon
Broadway under the shadow of Grace Churchthere forms nightly a line
of men that stretches for more than a block. Men with pale faces that
show haggard under the white electric light, and haggard faces that
show hideous,shiveringly cold men who blink at you like dazed animals
or glare at you like wild beasts;hot, panting, almost pulseless men
who gasp in the scorched atmosphere of the city's streetssolemn,
mournful creatures, with their filthy rags loosened for any breath of
air, no matter how fetidmiserables of every type, exhausted,
wretched, but human beings allstand every night at the edge of the
curb on Broadway and Tenth Streets waiting for a baker's over-baking.
It all flashed before my eyes in a moment.
You can see it any night, winter or summerJanuary or Julyfrom
ten o'clock till two, gentlemen. Look at it and pity ityou who have
pity in your hearts. Look at it and fear ityou who have none!
Had he been there to-night? Yes, but there was a fellow near the end
of the line whose wife and children were waiting for him, so he and
Sandy exchanged places, andwell, the supply gave out about one
o'clock, so of courseYes, he would take another egg. Was he
married? No, thank God!
There was nothing romantic about Sandy McWhiffle, and nothing Scotch
about him except his name. Neither was his face in any way remarkable,
nor his speech, nor his story; but it struck me then that there were
dramatic possibilities in him as a mandramatic probabilities in him
as a type.
I was in a hurry to have the position filled; it wasn't much of a
job, and I wanted to waste as little time as possible, so I advertised
and gave my office address. Of course it was foolish, but I was pressed
with work and did it without thought. However, I saw no reason why the
janitor should lose his temper. Anyway, I can't abide impertinence in
an inferior, and I let him understand this before the elevator reached
the top floor. Once there I admitted to myself he had reason forwell,
for respectful annoyance. A pathway was forced for me through the crowd
of men which choked the hallway and blocked the entrance to my office,
but I couldn't get in until a score or so were driven down the stairs.
I locked myself in my private room and cursed my folly and the
janitor's impudence. But there was no time to losewe had to be rid of
those menso I slipped a note under the door directing my clerk to
send them in to me, one at a time, until further orders.
It didn't take long to find the man I wanted. He was the third in
line, I thinka respectable fellowfar above the position, I should
have said, but he told me he wasn't, that he had a family to support,
and all that sort of thing, so I engaged him and sent him out with a
note to the superintendent. As he left the room I hastily tore open a
letter which looked as though it needed an immediate answer. At the
same moment my door opened again.
Confound that ass Junkin, why the devil didn't he give me time to
ring the bell and tell him I'd engaged a man!Why the devil doesn't
It was just as I expected. That letter was important to a degree,
and during the next ten minutes I was so deeply absorbed that when I
looked up from my reading and saw a man standing beside me, I started
with a nervous exclamation which turned to a surprised greeting as I
recognised Sandy McWhiffle. He had changed somewhat since I'd seen him
lastsix months beforeand not for the better. His gaunt face was
even more sallow than before, giving to the features a harder caste,
chiselling the nose into more of a hook, and deepening the lines under
the eyes. He looked ravenous, but not with the hunger of appetite, and
I thoughtyes, I was quite surehe smelt rather strongly of liquor.
Well, Sandy, I began, where did you come from?
From the hospital, he answered.
Ah, I observed, bad placesthoseerhospitals, Sandy. They
breed a great deal of sickness. There are seventy-two in my district.
You think I've been in a saloon, drinking?
No, I don't think so, I answered, with a mental reservation
Well, I haven't been, anyway. You smell whisky on me. They gave it
to me at the hospital so's I could get down here. I ain't discharged
yet, but I was bound to come when I saw your name in the papers and
knew I'd get the job if I could only see you. I've been here since six
this morning. Will you give me a try at it?
Well, no, I can't, McWhiffle, I said, with a good deal more ease
than I could have felt if I hadn't smelt the liquor and heard that
hospital story. The fact is, I've taken a man on, and so the job's
Sandy gazed at me with a bewildered, frightened look, but his answer
was only a mumble about his being sure of a steady job this time,
seeing how he knew me and all.
Mechanically I made a memorandum of the hospital at which he was
allegedly a patient, but my mail was awaiting me, and he must have gone
while I was intent upon its contents. Anyway, he'd disappeared when I
looked up, but the odour of whisky in the room was strong enough to
destroy any interest I might have felt in my late supper companion.
Whisky and that tired feeling are mainly responsible for the army
of the unemployed. They talk about there not being enough work to go
around! One good job'd last the whole shiftless lot a year. They don't
want work, they want helppermanent and increasing help.
Some such thoughts occupied me until I happened to see a telegram
protruding from the bundle of unopened letters on my desk.
Gods and powers! Will that triple idiot never learn to separate the
telegrams from the letters? What the devilJunkin! Junkin! I crashed
the bell with each repetition of the fool's name, at the same time
tearing open the yellow envelope.
For God's sake, Junkin, how many times must you be told to keep
these things separate? Half an hour gone, and here's this cipher still
untranslated. Do you think you've nothing to do but draw your
I'm sorry, Sir, but you see these men came
Quick, get the code and translatedon't stand around arguing!
Here, give me the book!
I rushed into the outer office, but stopped almost at the threshold
of my door. The room was completely encircled by a line of men, and
every eye in the crowd was turned upon me. What a motley throng it
wasshabbily dressed and unshaven for the most partuntidy to the
point of dirtiness. Hardly a bright, healthy face among the lotsurly
and ill-tempered looking many of them. Bah! I don't like humanity in
the abstract, and loathe it in the concrete of crowds. My disgust must
have been apparent, and my thought audible as I said:
Now, my men, the place is filled. You'd better all clear out.
But my words, forbidding as they were, did not free me.
No, I haven't any other job. No, I don't expect to have any....
Yes, well, I can't help it, can I?... Of course, I knowdon't bother
me! I tell you the place is gone.... No, we never have any places in
this office.... Charity Organisation, Twenty-third Street and Fourth
Avenue.... Yes, yes, yes, I don't doubt it, but I tell you I've filled
the jobJunkinget the janitor and clear the roomthey'll drive me
Almost frenzied, I rushed back to my private office.
How I was worked that day! The Section Traction Company almost
caught us napping, and they'd have done it surely if we hadn't obtained
the Judge's signature to the injunction by four o'clock that afternoon.
They not only laid two miles of track inside of eighteen hours, and
came within four blocks of crossing our main line, but they sold our
stock on the market, thousands and thousands of sharespoured it in
from ten o'clock till three, pounding and hammering every supporting
bid we made, and the only thing that saved us was the Exchange closing
at three o'clock. As it was, our Board man, Reynolds, became hysterical
as the gong struck, and he's never been up to much since.
Well, it was a shrewd, ably-planned move, and, executed earlier,
would have succeeded in wrecking us. But it cost them, as we figured
it, two millions, and sent them higher than a kite. I didn't know they
were so bigemployed three thousand men, they say.
The name on a passing ambulance directed my steps to Roosevelt
Hospital at the close of business, a few nights later. I don't think I
wanted to nail that very poor lie of Sandy's but I knew Waldron, the
Superintendent, and thought I'd invite him to dinner and joke him a bit
about his new whisky ward.
Waldron was in, but could not go to dinner. Worst time in the day
for him to get off, he said.
By the way, he continued, too bad you couldn't give Sandy
McWhiffle a jobhe would have it you'd take him, so we let him go,
with a dose of whisky to carry him through. But you lazy devils get
down so late it didn't last him, and he fainted in the street on the
way back. Queer fellow, but I liked himhis sense of humour hasn't
disappeared as it has with most of his class.
Perhaps my sense of humour had disappeared, but I saw no fun in my
rehearsed jokes of a few minutes previous.
Is he here now? I asked.
No, we discharged him yesterday.Hope he'll get a job, but there's
an awful lot of men looking for work.
It was probably because I was out of temper with myself, but the
city seemed hideously cruel to me as I walked down Broadway from the
Hospital. The clang of the car gongs sounded like fierce commandsthe
electric lights snapped and glittered like cunning, wicked eyesthe
hot air from the shops offended like venomous breaththe rattle of the
carts and cabs sounded recklessthe crowds seemed to jostle and
grapple. The gaily-lighted windows mocked me with their glitter, and
the darkened ones had a menace in their black indifference. In every
elbow touching me I seemed to feel some threatin every eye looking at
me I seemed to read some impatient question asked in brutal scorn.
These masses of men rushing by me this way and thatthey hated
melonged to trample me down and crush me into the dirt beneath their
feet!No, they didn't.And wouldn't?Unless they found me in their
path, and then they'd wipe me from it with scarce a thoughtyes, and
rush on without a sign, without knowledge of my obliteration.Well, it
wasn't worth struggling againstthe odds were too great.And anyway,
what difference did it make?
I felt a touch on my shoulder, and almost screamed. It was St. Clair
Mowbray. I don't like him much, but any companion was a friend just
then, so we walked along together, he chatting and I silent.
As we passed the Metropolitan Opera House a line of people stretched
from the box-office out into the street.
What fools, said Mowbray, they must want tickets damned badly to
do that. Don't they look like a chain gang?
More like the bread line at Fleischmann's, I answered gloomily.
Yesbut better bred.
Mowbray chuckled approvingly at his sally.
I parted with him at the next corner feeling his wit would not
appeal to me that evening.
The Club disappointed me. I thought companionship would relieve, but
it only served to aggravate my loneliness. Everything talked about
seemed local and trivial, and everybody appeared to sail under a
different flag of interest. So after enduring this as long as possible
I wandered out, walking down town for no other reason than to be among
people I didn't know and who didn't know mea
hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you cure for loneliness.
A conservative investor once told me there was no better or safer
property than a cheap lodging-house on the Bowery. Possibly my
informant imparted his discovery to others, for the number of these
establishments has increased tremendously during the last few years.
But when many Conservative Investors undertake to walk the same road,
the result is usually the elimination of some of themonly those, of
course, who are not really entitled to be termed conservative. This
sorting of the just from the unjust does not occur, however, until the
Malthusian Doctrine needs a business illustration. As I walked along
the east-side thoroughfare and noted the lodging-houses packed to their
utmost capacity, I concluded that the number of applicants for such
accommodation must have increased in a manner at once flattering to the
judgment of the Conservative Investor, and satisfactory to his highest
Who inhabit these houses? Well, men who have no better
homesdrunken, idle and shiftless menstrangers in this somewhat
inhospitable townmen looking for work and men looking for
mischiefgreat, hulking, ignorant brutes whose hope lies in their
muscle, and well-formed fellows with intelligent facesall sorts and
conditions of mena great tide of humanity that flows in at night and
ebbs out in the morning, never and yet ever the same. A steadily rising
tide? O, yes, perhaps,but look at the embankments!
It was curiosity and not a desire to educate myself for the day when
I might become a Conservative Investor that led me to enter No. 99-1/2
Its sign offered attractions suited to almost any purse, the
management apparently catering to every taste in the scale of social
refinement. It read
ROOMS BY THE WEEK $1.25
ROOMS BY THE NIGHT 25c.
BEDS BY THE WEEK 60c.
BEDS BY THE NIGHT 10c.
There were several similar houses in the immediate vicinity, but
this one seemed to secure most of the stragglers who came by during the
ten or fifteen minutes I watched it from the opposite side of the
street. The reasons for its popularity were not to be spelled out of
the sign, so I crossed over and climbed the ladder-like stairs upon
which the street door opened.
I knew just about what was inside before I mounted a step. Everybody
knows who's travelled on the Third Avenue L at night and looked out of
the windows of the train anywhere below Ninth Street.
It was one o'clock in the morning when I left the Club, so it must
have been quite two when I entered the Columbian, but even at that
hour the smoking-room was more than comfortably filled.
A cloud of malodorous smoke so lowered the ceiling that one
involuntarily stooped to avoid contact with it. Occasionally some
current of air would draw a funnel-shaped drift from this cloud and
whirl it like an inverted sea-spout toward the steam-screened windows
and out of the cracks at their top, and occasionally the draught in the
red-hot stove sucked down a whiff of it. Otherwise it hung motionless
like some heavy, breathless canopy.
A long, narrow table filled the centre of the room, reaching almost
from the windows in the front to the stove in the rear. Around this sat
or lounged a score of men, and perhaps as many more occupied chairs
about the stove and along the wall. Half a dozen were reading
newspapers, tattered and greasy through constant handling, but the rest
of the company stared idly at each other, or at nothing, talking
little, but smoking almost to a man.
An artist could have found a study for almost every emotion in the
figures and faces of that dimly-lighted room. Excitement in the
expression of the fair-haired lad following with his finger the
closely-printed ads., and quickly noting the promising ones on a
scrap of paper by his side.Anxiety on the face of the handsome fellow
with the pointed beard, turning the pages of the long-coveted newspaper
to find his particular want column.Indifference in the attitude of
the strong but unhealthy looking man with hands in pockets, his
outstretched legs forming a V, as he lolled back in his chair, pipe in
mouth, his eyes on vacancy.Despair in the huddled bit of humanity at
the head of the table, with head on armshis hair showing very white
against the black coat-sleeve.
I walked into the room and took a seat at the long table, near the
front windows. My entrance attracted no attention, either owing to the
smoke in the room or the indifference of its occupants. But I viewed
the neglect with complacency, whatever the cause.
What are they waiting forwhy don't they go to bed? I asked in a
low tone of my neighbour at the tablea rough but shrewd looking
Who's they? he replied surlilyWhat's yer waiting for
Nothing, I answerednot sleepy, that's all.
Well, that's what the rest's waiting forfor nothingnot sleepy
nornor anything. He gave a sharp glance at my face, and then,
appearing to see a puzzled look on it, added, Say, d'yer mean ter tell
me yer don't know what's bitin' this crowd?
No, I replied, and my voice must have demonstrated my ignorance,
for he exclaimed:
Then yer must be a jay, sure. Why, they're waiting for the morning
papers, of course. Do yer think yer'll ever get a job if yer wait till
the noospapers gets on the stands? Well, yer willI guess not! Where
in hell did yer drift from, anyway?
Histthere he comes, exclaimed a man opposite.
I glanced towards the door, and saw a man standing with his hand on
the door-knob. His tall figure was so slight as to be almost emaciated,
and his clean though threadbare clothing hung loosely, as if it had
once fitted a far stouter frame. His face was refined, and had that
look of calmness which now and again follows some great storm of mind
and rack of body. The skin was drawn tightly over the cheek bones,
making the eyes seem disproportionately large in their sunken sockets.
His mouth and chin were strong, and the prominent, slightly hooked nose
gave the clean-shaven face a sternness which contrasted rather oddly
with his abundant light-yellow hair.
He closed the door, moved to the table, and seated himself at it
near the centre of the room. Almost every eye had been fixed upon him
as he entered, but no greetings were given, and the interest in the
newcomer flagged the moment he opened a book and began to read.
Who is he? I ventured to ask my neighbour.
Schrieber, he replied, and then in a bored tone, as though
remembering my greennessthe fellow who's been talkin' at the
lodgin'-houses for the last two weeks or soat the 'Crescent,' and the
'Owl,' and the 'American,' and all of 'em.
I desisted from asking the further questions that immediately
suggested themselves, for my informant turned his back on me and rested
his head on the table, as though to discourage further conversation.
Here comes Bill Nevins, announced the man opposite, but just whom
he addressed could not be gathered from the faces around me. His
remark, however, referred to an individual who entered with a Howdy!
directed to the room in general.
Cold morning, boys! he exclaimed, as he walked towards the stove
rubbing his hands together.
No one responded, but this did not seem to affect the speaker, who
stood smiling cheerfully at the crowd, with his back to the red-hot
stove. A healthy, well-fed, kindly-looking man, with vigour in his
limbs and character in his genial face, he looked like some
good-natured priest or head-groom.
What's the news, Bill? called out a man with his chair tipped
against the wall.
Well, they strike to-morrow at noon, unless the companies concede
something, but, as everybody knows they won't, I might just as well
saythey strike to-morrow at noon.
The voice was clear and the tone cheery, though decisive. All the
newspapers seemed to have been drained of their contents, for everyone
was staring at the speakersome with interest, others listlessly. But
no answer or comment greeted the news.The silence was solemn or
absurdone scarcely knew which.
And as this strike's on, continued Nevins, the question for us
iswill we aid the men, or help to defeat 'em? If we want to beat 'em,
we've just got to take the places they're givin' up. Things has got to
be pretty bad when a working-man leaves his job these daysyou know
thatso there's no use discussin' why they strike. Of course you know
the answer of these car companies, and all other companies'supply and
demand.' And I'll tell you what rules the 'supply and demand.'It's
the supply of stock and the demand for dividends. It's greed that makes
this demand, and it's poverty and sickness, and many mouths to feed,
that makes the supply. It's greed, and not decent competition, that
milks the companies and busts them, and drags men down to lower wages,
or throws them out of work altogether. What we've got to do is to
demonstrate which side we're on. If we're for the men, we must stand
off and persuade others to do the like; and if we're for our children,
we must do the same thing. But if we don't give a damn either for our
own people or anybody else, we'd better go and take the places until
the companies decide on the next reduction!
The determination in his voice would have been fierce but for the
smile accompanying the words. Half-muffled applause and ejaculations of
approval could be heard from different parts of the room.
The man Schrieber looked up, his glance travelling from one face to
another down the long room until it reached Bill Nevins and settled on
him with an intensity that compelled an answering glance.
You say, my friend, he began slowly, we must demonstrate on which
side we stand. So say I. We must demonstratebut not by waiting. We
must make a great spectaclebut not by idle tableaux. You think you
will compel these rich corporations to give in to these men by
withholding your services? It is an empty dream. There will come other
men from other placesyou cannot prevent them from coming or the
companies from hiring them. The disease is body-spreadyou cannot
doctor it locally. The longer we sit idle the fiercer will the disease
ravage, the deeper will it enter. Idle waiting will not do,no, nor
throwing stones. That will only make a holiday for the militiastories
for their armourieschild's play, forgotten by the children when the
game is over. It does not turn the attention of prosperous humanity
towards its suffering brothers, but it gives a pretext for 'man's
inhumanity to man.' It only costs a little moneya very little
moneyeasily saved by the corporations in the decreased wages, and
made up to the State by increased taxation. It will not do, I tell you.
We need a much bigger and a dearer demonstration.
The speaker had risen, and was gazing into the faces of his
auditors. As he paused and brushed the light hair away from his eyes,
the air disturbed by the movement sent the smoke cloud blowing about
Now, that's just what we don't want, Schrieber! broke in Nevins
impatiently. You go 'round raisin' a row and gettin' up a riot, and
you'll turn all the sympathy of the press and the public against the
people we're tryin' to help.
The man did not reply at once, but stood gazing at the labour leader
as though struggling to keep back some retort.
You do not understand me, he said at lengthI counsel no
violenceI do not advocate riot. But not because I fear to lose the
sympathy of the press and the public. You have had that, and with what
result? Aren't wages lower than ever, and isn't work more difficult to
get every day we live? And who is your 'public'? The few well-to-do who
never think unless their comfort's disturbed? I tell you the real
public is the many poor, the constantly increasing poor, and not the
few rich! Your demonstration must teach the rich to thinkit must
redeem the poor from themselves!
His glance turned from the faces before him, and seemed to centre
beyond and above them. The listening men drew closer to the speaker.
The room was so still I could hear the empty cable rattling in the
It is an awful diseasea disease of the bloodto be cured by
bloodthe only price the rich cannot afford to payblood, the
redemption of the world throughout all generationsthe blood of the
He spoke the words dreamily, as though to himself. Then, with
gathering energy and rapidity
Wait as you have waited, and you will see the disease spreadthe
public you are trying to reach grow blind to your affliction, deaf to
your cries. Riot, and you will only lend virtue to oppression and
injustice. The hour is at hand for a great sacrificethe time is ripe
for redemption. The public you would propitiate fears deathloathes
blood. For these alone will it stop and thinkall else touches only
what money can cure. But death arrestsblood you cannot buy. Make them
take what they cannot returnmake them shed blood they cannot wash
out. No, not with their tears!
He paused again and gazed into the faces half hid by the smoky
atmosphere. Mystic, dreamer, lunaticwhat you will,he held the men
in weird fascination. They crouched, rather than sat before him. Had he
spoken in whispers, not a word would have been lost. His eyes shone
with a new light, and his voice softened as he continued:
We are on the verge of another battle in the great conflict over
the right to live. Battles without number have been fought in this
conflictblood without stint has been poured upon its fields.With
what result? Here, in this land of plenty, the hosts are gathering for
a contest of such magnitude that, compared to it, all former conflicts
will seem mere skirmishes. Why? Because the sword never has touched,
and never can touch, the soul of manbecause blood not shed in
consecration cannot heal. The eyes of the world must look upon a
blameless death-devotion to a cause. If I am mad, it is a madness
learned of Christ. Are your lives so valuable that you fear to lose
them? Is death a terror to you who die daily? Humanity bleeds from
every poredo you shudder at blood? Civilisation calls upon you, her
outcasts, for salvation. Will you answer heryou who, here in the City
of New York, see the rich digging a gulf between themselves and the
poora gulf that may be a grave for countless thousandsa trench for
oceans of blood that a few drops shed now may save? We must demonstrate
which side we are onwe must make a great spectacle! I want volunteers
for deathvolunteers for the death that redeems!
With hands spread out in appealthe fine head thrown backhe stood
like the shade of some great Being encircled by the mists of unreality.
From out of the smoke there staggered and stumbled toward him a man
who grasped the outstretched hand
I volunteer! he cried.
Schrieber's calm face bespoke a benediction.
My brother, he answered, simply.
The recruit was Sandy McWhiffle.
I started to my feet with a cry of protest on my lips, but the great
smoke bank above seemed suddenly to descend and envelop me, choking and
stifling me. For a moment I fought it, gasping for breath, but only
drawing the foul air deeper down into my lungs. Then I remembered
nothing more. They said at the hospital it was nicotine poisoning.
For some daysjust how many I don't rememberI had been in the
condition which often follows sudden illness, when the mind is groping
about to connect things one with another, and to adjust relative
values. But I was not delirious. I want to state that distinctly,
because when, like a fool, I told the stripling hospital doctor what I
am now about to relate, he smiled in sickly imitation of the veteran
practitioner, and soothingly patted my counterpane. It makes me wild,
even now, to recall that superior youth pretending to humour mea
grown man with a clear head and more experience than will be his in
many a long year. The nurses are all rightGod bless them, I saybut,
good Lord, what do the sick in the hospitals not suffer from the
tactless wisdom of the embryo physicians!
However, that's neither here nor there, so I simply repeat I never
was delirious, and when I say I saw these things, I know what I am
I lay perfectly still because I was tired. I don't remember ever to
have been so tired before or since.Occasionally I dozed, but for the
most part I gazed steadily, hour after hour, at the brass setting of
the push-bell in the wall, too weary even to avert my gaze. I knew the
room was a ward of some hospital, but I was too indifferent to ask
which one. I could see the nurses passing back and forth. I felt one of
them resettle my pillow, which allowed me to observe a screen placed
around the adjoining bed. I knew what that meant. It was not cheerful,
so I turned again to the brass disk and watched it in sunlight, shadow,
twilight and darkness.
I was conscious too of all the different sounds about methe
stopping and starting of the elevatorthe sliding and locking of its
iron doorthe rolling of the rubber-tire trucks about the hallsthe
creaking of a bedthe tinkle of a glassthe rattle and clatter of
vehicles and horses in the streeteven the peculiar rumble, rumble,
rumble of the cart that passed the hospital and which I took to
following through street after street, twisting and turning with it
past towering tenements and squatting rookeries, plodding along under
the broken roofs of the hissing elevated roads and over the singing
trenches of the cablesthrough wide avenues and narrow alleys, until I
found myself fairly launched into the sea of faces which spread out
What a crowd that was! It is impossible to imagine such a scene. All
the descriptions they've written fail to picture it, for the flaring
lights with their play of shadows changed it every instant, darkening
one group, illuminating another, running up and down lines of faces,
flashing some individual into prominence for an instant, blotting him
into the surging mass the next. And then the hum and mutter, rising to
a babel of voices,swelling into a shout, bursting with the shock of a
world-tongued roar ending in a single piercing shriek, and the
hushthe awful hush as Schrieber spoke his wondrous wordsthey're all
part of this tableau utterly beyond the power of pen or brush.
I stood there pinioned and upheld by the press about me which
silently surged and swung with the motion of some sluggish sea. I felt
the human steam hot upon my faceI breathed the fearful reek of that
matted throng, but not for my life would I have missed one word of that
which hushed those thousands. Pale and impassive I could see Sandy as
he stood beside Schrieber on the tail-board of the cart. Once I thought
he recognised me, but wedged in I could not signal, and the words I
drank in held me speechless. What words!If I could only remember
them! But I cannotand all the papers lie.
I heard them above the roar of the maddened crowd as it parted
behind me, crushing some and trampling others under foot in its wild
stampede. I saw the rush of uniformed men clearing the triangle back of
Cooper Union and was hurled with the throng to Third Avenue. Then I
heard Schrieber calling on us to form a procession and march to the
Mayor's house with our petitionheard him tell the Chief of Police
that all should be orderlyheard the official warn the people not to
cross Third Avenue at the peril of their lives.I saw the dead-line
formed and felt the onward surge of the crowd as it swept the thin
sentry-line away and moved toward Broadway. I saw the glitter of
levelled rifles as we neared the Cox statue, felt the mass hesitate and
recoil. Then from out the ranks I saw Schrieber and Sandy emerge and
start to cross the open space alone. I caught the sharp summons to
halt, and even as I leaped toward them heard the crash of the volley
before which they staggered and fell.
Sandy! I shrieked....
... Sandy. Yesthat's the name.Who said that?Sandy McWhiffle
and the fellow Schrieberthey're under arrest, you know, Mr.
Superintendent,and the Inspector orders me to take their
statements,me and my side partner here.
A strange voice was speaking quite near me.
Well, you can't do it, Officer. Neither patient can be seen
Was that Waldron's voice?
Can't do it? What's that mean? Me tell the Old Man that? Step one
side please!I guess you don't know who I'm from!
Then you guess wrong, my man. They're your prisoners, but they're
my patients, and, by God Almighty, so long as they are, it makes no
difference whom you come from!
I raised myself on my elbow and gazed at the speaker. Yes, there was
Waldron. A nurse stepped up to him and whispered in his ear. He turned
quickly on his heel.
Officer, tell the Inspector you came too late, he said.
I must have called out, for I remember the orderly hushed me,
whispering that it was nothing but a couple of rioting strikers, who'd
just died of their woundswhich ought to stop such folly and teach the
other fools a lesson.
But I made no answer, recollecting something about wise folly and
foolish wisdom. Then too I was wondering, quite as calmly as I am
now, just how high and strong those embankments are which a restless,
rising tide is ever lappinglapping.