by Edward B. Lent
John Alden was a celebrated Cupid's middleman. In presenting the
cause of Miles Standish to Priscilla, however, he did not attend
strictly to business as a jobber. He was not able to resist the lady
when she asked: Why don't you speak for yourself, John? That famous
question has practically made it impossible for the middleman to make
much headway in the assumed part. Benjamin Hopkins, of Oswegatchie
County, was not a traitorperhaps because he never met the fair
Priscillas face to face.
This story can teach no new lesson; it can only recall the ancient
wisdom which filled Miles Standish when it was too late. In the poem by
Longfellow, the Plymouth Captain says:
* * * I should have remembered the adage
If you would be well served, you must serve yourself; and
No man can gather cherries in Kent at the season of Christmas!
E. B. L.
Jim, it's years since you asked me to help you out in a love
affair, I said. Has your old heart grown cold, shriveled up, or
what's the matter?
You're right, Ben; it must be a long time back. But why don't you
put out a few letters for yourself?
I wish I could get a dollar a ton for all I have written for you,
said I; then I'd have a fortune and all the girls would be chasing me
for my money.
Say, was it as bad as that, do you think?
Well, cut the price in two and I'd be satisfied.
What a fool I was, Ben, to let you trifle with my fair friends in
that way! You came near putting me in a terrible hole several times.
Is that so? You never said anything about it. Tell me now.
Not for a mansion and forty servants would I tell you. Well, I
should say not. Nay! Nay!
I'll bet you profited by my efforts and you're not willing to let
on. Do you think that is a friendly attitude to take toward an agent
who has increased the range of your powers of fascination?
You came near increasing the length of my neck by several inches.
Why, the fathers and big brothers of some of those girls you wrote to
came near lynching me.
Well, I wasn't to blame for that, was I?
You certainly were. You laid it on too thick.
Not too thick to please the girls, did I?
Suited some of the girls first rate, but it's bad to write so much.
It's apt to come back at you when you least expect it.
What do you care so long as the girls were pleased? You were not
courting the father. If you had intended to have the old gentleman read
them I could easily have changed the style from a Grade A love to a
nice assortment of short business phrases. But, say, Jim, you ought to
tell me what happened. Come, now! Any bull's-eyes?
Do you know that you wrote enough letters to my girls to have
married me off a dozen times or more? There are some streets I dare not
pass through nowthere's that foolish creature in West Thirty-eighth
Street, for example.
I knew that Jim would leak a little if persistently tapped with
What about her? Did we send her many or was she easily won? I
asked. Hard or soft? As the middleman it was purely business with me.
That girl was a queer case, said Jim, and he reflected for a
moment. Why, do you know, you had her running to clairvoyants for
advice. She didn't think anything of putting up five dollars to learn
how it was going to turn out. As soon as I heard that I quit calling
and shut you off, for it was either that or get shot, I believed.
That's quite a case, Jim. Let me into all of that, won't you?
I'm not going to tell you. It's past now, so let it go. You got me
into enough trouble to fill a book. The book won't be written, though,
for the inside story dies with me.
Come, come, Jim; it's not fair to shut me out from all the
excitement and fun after I did all the drudgery. Think how I used to
struggle here to keep up my end.
You struggle! Where do you suppose I came in? Still, I'll say no
more about it, for I see you are trying to pump me. Let it pass. How do
you find the state of the country to-night?
Jim swung from the interesting subject to my hobby, political
economy and measures for saving the nation from its impending doom. A
man who can't make much headway toward home-building before or after
marriage usually becomes a reformer. Men with families take things as
they are, if they live at home instead of a club, and find plenty to
do. I could not be moved without a protest.
Never mind, Jim, said I. You may want me to help you out some day
and I shall not undertake to handle the case unless it is clearly
stated in the contract that I am to be in at the finish.
Agreed; Ben, you are to be there.
Even though you're going to be lynched, don't hesitate to send for
That'll probably be the finish, if I give my secrets away to you
again. Still, I am past that now. He seemed to doubt his words,
Hanging or wedding, I'm to be thereis that agreed?
You'll be the best man in any event and you may stand just as close
as the minister or the mob will allow.
I could see that he was in a good humor and had noticed its
increasing hold upon him for several weeks. Such a fine specimen of
farm-bred manhood as Jim Hosley could not escape, although he had kept
from the net and in the free waters of bachelorhood until he was
thirty. Six feet two inches, broad-shouldered, fair-haired, and as rosy
as a schoolboy, he seemed born to remain young and handsome always.
Well do I remember this conversation now, and how little we then
realized the nature of the fruitage of our folly which we discussed so
airily that evening in our bachelor apartments where we kept house
I regret that I am not a literary man. I never corresponded with
magazine editors without paying the return postage and therefore I am
not in shape to put in the soft touches where they belong, and I am
also aware that the field is too big for me, for it includes the heart
of a woman, a domain in which I am easily lost, although I did set up
to be a pilot for my friend.
As for my own matrimonial prospects, they were dim. I really cared
nothing about them, for I understood I was such a small potato I
wouldn't be noticed for seed, and there seemed poor prospects for me to
ever sprout into anything that would attract attention enough to draw a
handful of paris green and plaster. I had a better opinion of my ideas
on saving the country, however. I found a lot of people who agreed with
me that the country was going to the bad; that there wasn't much use
trying to get money enough ahead to go into business, because if you
did you would only net fresh air and exercise and an appetite that
would cut whale oil and consume the margin.
Jim found it an easy matter to turn me from prying into his private
affairs. I had just been reading my paper. Shall Autocrats Rule Us?
was the subject of the editor's heavy work for the evening and it
stirred me up. That fellow used strong and powerful language, as our
dominie used to say when he was preaching and got two feet away from
his notes on the pulpit and doubled on his tracks.
You can put it down in your notebook, Jim, that I say the country
is in a bad fix.
That's right, Ben, and unless you get the job of mending it, no
George Washington will appear.
Listen to this, said I, paying no attention to his guying.
'Everywhere the voice is that of Democracy, but the hand and the
checkbook are those of a respectable Autocracy.' Isn't that so? Why,
when I had ploughed through a stack of those magazines (and I pointed
to our parlor table and its load of ten-cent literature) I burned two
fillings of the lamp, and I tell you I had to swallow hard on a lot of
big words that would have kept old Webster chasing to the fellows he
stole from; I wound in and out a lot of trotting sentences that broke
twice to the line on a track that was laid out by a park gardener to go
as far as possible without reaching anywhere, and I fetched up this
morning with a swelled head, stuffed full of cold-microbes that had
formed a combine from the nozzle of my Adam's apple clean up to a mass
of chronic gooseflesh that had crusted on the top of my crown as solid
as if it had been put there by a file-maker, expert in permanent
Yes, I noticed them when you were at breakfast this morning,
Why, it's no joke, Jim; this discussion about the country will wind
up in some sort of a revolution. I have been talking around lately
among the plain people, and a lot of them declare straight up and down
that the country is going to peter out like the water in the tap here
in our fifth flat when I am completely soaped up and have to stand
there and feel it crackle and dry in my ears and burn me blind. Pretty
soon those people who read my paper, say the prosperity of the United
States will slow down into a quiet trickle, then a dribble shading off
into a blast of air and a maddening gurgle, while folks stick their
heads out the window and swear at the government for not giving them
It's an awful big country to save, said Jim. Look at the
Well, Jim, I must say I get discouraged when I read of one man
being worth a thousand million dollars. It makes me feel mighty poor. I
don't see any use in being ambitious and taking any stock at all in
anything so far as I am concerned, but I do hate to see the government
come to harm. I get to thinking that if the Declaration of Independence
isn't going to hold out that I'll change my politics and then see what
will happen. When a fellow who is as set in his ways as I am changes
his politics, reform must be coming, for I would probably be the last
man to flop.
If you could stick to one girl the way you do to the Republican
party, said Jim, you would soon be letting the country go to blazes.
I could see that he was inclined toward shallow conversation. It was
evident that he had more to tell me than he dared in view of the
calamity which had followed his former confidences. I said nothing,
merely making note of his mental condition. I was not through with the
country by any means. It was best to pump Jim by indirect conversation.
It's an awful thing to think of changing your politics, I
continued. Why, up in Oswegatchie County, as far back as anybody can
remember or read in the town papers on file, my folks have been
Republicans and have been honored with office, earned good salaries and
some of the longest obituary poems ever penned by that necrological
songbird, Amelia Benson.
She sang like a catbird for fifty cents a column, remarked Jim.
Her style was good for the price and it was preferred because it
never struck below the belt, I added. Her occasional verse was a
trifle worse. Don't you know 'The Pain Killer' used to be full of it
when advertisements ran low?
I always liked that paper in your town, said Jimfor shaving.
Our paper was called The Pain Killer down in Jerusalem Corners and
other distant places when it was so full of stomach-bitters
advertisements that the news of the week had to be left out for a
couple of issues and seemed such ridiculous reading when it appeared,
especially to the sick who were then out ploughing and the parents of
the babies that had been hinted about some time before and were then
swaddled, exercising with the colic and ready to have their names in
print as among those present.
Jim had an important engagement and dressed with some care to meet
what was evidently a social demand of consequence. I had observed of
late that clothes were playing a greater part in his society drama. It
seemed to me he must be getting close to a leading lady.
The conversation ended with a Good-night from Jim and he passed
out leaving me to ponder alone. The hermits of the country have time to
consider its welfare, so I went to reading my magazines to gather more
inspiration for denouncing the United States Senate and the rest of the
The railroads are to blame. I hold them responsible, for one of them
brought me down to New York ten years ago on a ten-dollar excursion
ticket, and an old Sunday-school teacher of mine who had seen all he
could pay for here wanted to get back, so he made me an offer of five
dollars for the return half, and after practicing my handwriting for a
spell he got so accurate he could write my name about as well as I
could, in case the conductor cornered him and wanted to throw him off
into the Black River. He landed home all right and nobody was the
wiser. Would that all my trickery had died as gentle a death! But I see
now that fooling with another fellow's courtship and cheating a
railroad are different, because the railroad is everybody's business
and the other is supposed to be a private affair. Cheating a railroad
used to be no crime till they got to cheating us so hard. I remember up
in Oswegatchie County that all of my folks in the County Clerk's office
held passes and seldom complained about the railroad robbing us of our
land, so that five dollars taken contrary to the contract on the ticket
did not worry me overmuch, because I knew my dad would have closed on
it like Jim Jackson's foot always accidentally trod on and spiked
anything that rolled his way in the old man's store.
Jim Hosley and I, two bachelors who have been down here in this
great metropolis for ten years, looking for the fortunes we always hear
about at the annual Waldorf dinners of the Oswegatchie County Society
as being a part of the perquisites of our northern tribe, then lived
together in a top apartment pretty well down-town, conveniently
situated five flights up without an elevator and the same number back
on the turn when anything was needed from the corner store. Jim came
from Gorley and I from Dazer Falls. The solitude of the upper air,
therefore, suited us. A man can stand for five hours at any corner in
Dazer Falls and shout Fire through a forty-inch megaphone without
starting up a native. Dazer Falls is a study in village still life. In
Gorley silence and race suicide are equally common and not noticed
except by strangers. Up in the fifth flat we got away from the world
almost as well, except that the clatter of our dish-washing and the
thumping of our disagreeing opinions would at times sound like the
whirr of industry, for Jim and I did our own housework, our own
thinking and lived as cheaply as monopoly will permit (monopoly, that
is the thing I am against as a political economist, I can tell you).
The pile that was to come our way we had not yet receipted for. Once or
twice, years before, we had thought we were getting close to it, but we
found we'd have to change our politics to get farther. After that I
lost all personal ambition, as I could get so few people to listen to
my plans for making everything right. These kickers spent all their
time kicking against monopoly, but wouldn't let me show them how to
slay it. When I began my studies along this line I hesitated whether to
begin war near the top with the United States Senate or at the bottom
with the poor masses in the slums. Down at the bottom I would be more
at home, for I know full well what it is to be bleached by the blues of
adversity. In saving the masses though, by a direct appeal, I did not
think I could do much to brag about down here, for they don't
understand more than half you say to them in English and their
suspicion sours the half they take in before they make any use of it.
This would have made it extra hard for me, because advice was all I had
to use in saving the country. Up in the United States Senate I used to
think I might do something, but it was such a long way up from where I
stood. They have been taking tremendous fees up there for their own
advice, generally given to other members of their distinguished body or
to members of their own State legislatures, as to how to vote wisely on
this or that piece of law ordered by their clients. Therefore, it
seemed to me it would be only reasonable for them to take my advice, as
they might be able to turn it over at a good figure a little later on
when the custom-made law business picked up again. Just now I don't
suppose they could do much with it, for most of those old codgers are
as glum as a funeral march; but, of course, I admit I am no judge of
chin music and could not understand what they said, probably, if they
I want to state right here, though, that it is a mistake for a man
to undertake to save the country and to have ideas on that subject when
he tries to help another fellow win the heart of a girl and gets mixed
up in the tangle that such interference is bound to bring on anybody
who attempts it. I didn't know, and therefore I should have thrown up
the job as soon as I began to get wound in it. You have heard that
gentle hum of the buzz-saw? You have seen how still it runs and how its
feathery edge seems calm during the lull in the sawmill? You also
noticed that no one who understands the sawmill business ever goes near
it to give it a friendly tap just when it is looking that way? It is
the same with the other fellow's love affairs. Leave them alone when
all is quiet, and when there are ructions leave them alone. They are
buzz-saws for theorists. A man with ideas on saving the country is the
poorest man in the world to undertake to help save a friend with a sick
heart. The little matter of the country is a cinch compared to that
job. Why, the little matter of stringing a few extra stars to make
traveling at night safer on the Milky Way would be an easy contract
compared to that. But I touched the saw and it certainly did cut off a
lot of opinions I used to be proud of.
Jim and I had a habit of going over the sad state of the country
pretty thoroughly during our leisure moments in the evening. There were
chairs in our parlor that fitted us to a dot. They were seldom if ever
dusted, unless they were accidentally turned over and then some would
fall off, but no one ever disturbed them and ruffled them into hard
knots just to improve their appearance. We sat on the chairs, not on
their appearance. During our talks Jim did the listening. This
constituted a de facto conversation. His knowledge of Gorley and
up-State affairs, after an absence of ten years, was well maintained by
regularly reading the county papers, but his knowledge of monopoly and
our foreign affairs came wholly from me while we would sit and cure the
air of our front room with our smoking corncobs. And dad, who used them
in his smokehouse, used to say they beat sawdust for flavor. We mixed a
little short-cut tobacco to sweeten the cob. This was not our ideal way
of spending the evening, for we had a Perfecto ambition. For ten years,
though, we had been gradually squeezing ourselves to fit circumstances
and had come to realize that the pipe and kerosene oil are the cheapest
fuel and light the trusts offer in New York. A gallon of oil a week, a
pound of tobacco and seven scuttles of coal stood us in for our quota
of comfort, and as we paid our humble tributes to the concerns that had
cornered these articles we were happy in the thought that it wasn't as
bad as it might be. They had not yet cornered the air necessary to
oxidize these commodities, although they had the connecting link, the
match, and would no doubt soon get the air.
We perched there in the top flat after a long trial of the
abnormalities of boarding-house life. I heard them called that once and
it seemed to me that it fitted. We were fairly cosy, although, as I
have hinted, there was nothing over-ornate about the furnishings. No
woman had ever seen the place and therefore our ideas as to keeping it
always the same were never disturbed, and it had never been spoken ill
of. In the winter we kept house with more system than we did in the
summer, when dish-washing became too much of a burden and appetite
dwindled to chipped beef and angel cake, two simple things to serve. We
got fagged out in this climate in the summer, and if you had been born
in Oswegatchie County, where forty degrees below zero is as common as
at the North Pole, and had then lived up there beneath the roof of that
flat, you would understand. In all our wanderings through the art
galleries and the comic papers we had never found an artist who could
draw the sun like that tin roof.
Jim was almost as much interested as I was in having no harm come to
the government, but not quite. We both worked for the city, holding
civil service jobs. His was only a small city job, that of Sealer of
Weights and Measures, while I was connected with the Department of
Health as an Inspector of Offensive Trades, with more pay to offset the
Jim once asked me what I did and I explained it this way:
An Inspector of Offensive Trades must have a nose as delicately
trained as a Sousa's ear, so that when a blast from the full olfactory
orchestra rolls up from Newtown Creek and its stupefying vibrations are
wafted on the fog billows driven by a gusty east wind toward the
Department of Health, he can detect strains of the glue hoofs quite
independently of the abattoir's offal bass, and tell at a sniff if
discord breathes from the settling tanks of the fish factory or if the
aroma of the fertilizer grinder is two notes below standard pitch as
established by the officials to meet the approval of the sensitive
ladies of the civic smelling committees.
You can see that my work called for a peculiar kind of brains.
Jim, in those days, went around to the grocery stores and made sure
that the scales were in working order and that the weights balanced
with the official weights he carried in a small bag. If he found a
groceryman using weights that had been bored out to make them lighter
he made an arrest and usually laid off for two days because he had to
be a witness against the prisoner at court. He took these vacations at
regular intervals, about twice a month, so I figured he did not pounce
down on a man as soon as he found him giving short weight, but saved
those desirable cases for use at regular periods when he required rest
with a day or two at home.
Jim was not lazy, but he was not so spry as he was ten years ago
when he was fresh from playing full-back on our scrub team. For a
number of years he had been tramping around outdoors all day and had
been inclined to play full front on the gastronomic flying wedge at the
restaurants, where we commuted for our meals as long as we could stand
it before taking up the primitive notions of the culinary art practiced
in our own kitchen. Our cooking became very simple. After we tackled
making fried cakes and both went to bed with headaches from the
cottonseed oil, I asked Jim to take what we had turned out to a
neighboring machine shop and see if they didn't want some three-inch
washers for locomotive work.
The farmer and the manicure artist have discovered the same law of
compensation. If a man has a big ear he may have only a little corn.
With Jim it was about the same. He chased short-weight fellows all day
and when it came night he piled on all the weight he could just to lift
himself out of the under-weight rut of the day's work. Fat kept Jim
sociableI don't mean that he was portly, but he was filled out well
over the angles of youth. This was desirable, because a lean bachelor
can't live with another lean one. I don't know why, except it's
Nature's law. He hyenas in the same cage act the same way.
Before Jim started in to take on weight he had been passing through
quite a long correspondence with a young woman, and it was so long that
I began to give out on poetry and was thinking of laying in more stock
in that line to drive the arrow home to a finish. Jim had never done
any courting without consulting me. I attended to the correspondence
and rather liked my job, because it gave me experience that might be
useful. Now that it is all over, of course, I know betterI look the
At the time we were very busy in one of these affairs, I remember,
Jim was blue-eared, ragged-nerved and petulant to such a degree that I
began to think of shipping him back to the old farm, where pork gravy
and fried cakes would certainly restore his nervous system; otherwise I
felt he would land in a padded cell. Nothing he ate agreed with him and
I felt sure it must be a bad case of unrequited love. He looked sour
upon all the world, mistaking me most of the time for the man who ran
it. We were both on the point of getting a divorce when he began to
take a bottle of ale regularly at dinner. The first week Jim mounted a
pound a day and we were both overjoyed to note the improvement in our
relations which the ugly co-respondent (did you ever see a
co-respondent that wasn't ugly?) had threatened to disturb with the
The remedy proved it was not a girl who bothered him. For a long
time after when Jim felt nervous I would recommend ale. I did not
believe it was possible for a woman to disturb him, but I was wrong
When Jim had returned two cases of empties we were on thoroughly
good terms again. Of course we are glad he tried the ale, but if we had
parted then and there we might have saved ourselves a lot of trouble.
The small amount the junk man would have paid for our outfit might have
been better than what we netted.
Any man who knows the first thing about housekeeping, who has gone
deep enough into it to bring in wood or light a lamp, ought to know
that the upper story of a double boiler is not the thing to fry eggs
in. How any man with the faintest glimmering of a suspicion that he can
cook an egg should hit upon a tool as unhandy as that, is beyond me. A
double boiler is a telescopic arrangement used by first-class cooks for
boiled puddings. I understand that they prefer them because the raisins
do not get frightened and all huddled up at the bottom trying to
escape, like they do if boiled in the New England fashion in a towel.
Jim Hosley knew nothing of this, never having read the Gentleman's
Home Journal to any extent. One night when I came inone of the
big nights in our history, all rightI found him frying two eggs with
this back-handed device. Of course it made no difference to me if he
fried them right on the coals and lost everything except the fun of
doing it; at the same time I felt called upon to point out the skillet
as the appropriate kitchen furniture for the occasion. It was certainly
a peculiar notion and hinted to me that another woman had arrived and
would soon be everywhere in that flat.
Jim, you don't know enough about frying eggs, said I, to deserve
them at six for a quarter. You ought to eat canned goods or something
you can't damage by fire.
This thing suits me better than your flat pan, said he. You see
how I can take off the lid and jam it right down on the coals and have
it all over while you are waiting to warm up on top. Never used to cook
eggs up homealways sucked them; down here, been pulling at this pipe
so long, or eating brass goods in the restaurants, I seem to have lost
the liking for them. Tried them when up there last summer, but it
warn't no use; they didn't taste the same.
Same with me, I sadly admitted, with my mind on the girl. There
didn't seem to be enough nicotine in them to suit.
Ben, chase yourself and find the pepper and salt, and be good
enough to tell me whose funeral it is down-stairs to-night,
interrupted Jim, changing the subject.
I didn't know there was one, said I. How far down is it?
Think of that, said I. When the world gets crowded it seems to
grow careless and unneighborly. We don't either of us know who lives
there, and here we have been coming and going for about three years in
this place. Still, we are only here nights. Yet it's a strange world.
Think of living within ten feet of anybody in Oswegatchie County and
not knowing themespecially if they have a vote.
It is a queer place here in New York, said Jim, quietly. It keeps
getting busier all the time. Even the women hustle. I think now he
sighed there, but I am not certain. We don't get time to get
acquainted with ourselves, let alone our neighbors ten feet away. A man
might have his own funeral here and never know it. Never thought I'd
have to live in such a place, he continued. This will be a lonesome
world when there are no country folks.
Jim, you're getting to be a philosopher, said I. In you that is a
sure sign a woman's picture is focusing on your brain. I've never known
you to drop into sentiment while using the double boiler. Is it that
girl down-town? (I had heard her name from others, Gabrielle
Tescheron, for I kept close watch of him, but he did not know that I
knew it.) You know the one I meanthe girl who sticks her tongue out
to straighten her veil.
No, no, said Jim, laughing. I made it plain to her that she'd
have to marry both of us.
A kind of matrimonial sandwich, eh? But say, Jim, come to think of
it, I have heard you tell several times lately just what bad weather we
have been having on Sundays for the past three months. It's a clincher.
Jim began to pound the bottom of the inverted boiler with the lid
lifter to secure a release of the eggs, which he earnestly hoped would
let go and land on the plate.
Did you grease that thing? I asked, as he tum-tummed in vain, for
the eggs had glued into a fresco showing a rising and setting sun on
opposite sides of the bottom.
No; didn't know where you kept the grease. What would you recommend
in a case of this kind?
But before I could advise, Jim had made fair headway in transferring
the eggs directly without the intervention of a plate, an economy we
practiced frequently. The meal was served in the kitchen to save steps
and progressed with customary smoothness, each getting up a dozen times
or so to bring things from the shelves or the stove. While we were
slicking up the dishes I got to chuckling and Jim began to blush and
look foolish. I could see that he knew I had found him out. We made
short work of the chores. I wound the alarm clock and sent down the
milk bottle via the dumb waiter, which you can't tip with a dime, but
have to push or pull clean to or from the cellar, unless it happens to
be en route just as you get there and can chuck your load aboard.
We then stretched out in the cosy front room, and lighting our pipes
warmed to the task of being comfortable. I was pained to feel that the
day must come when woman would part us, but I said nothing more,
determined to let time and Jim's confiding nature reveal the tender
secrets of his heart now melting for that girl with the dancing brown
eyes, the mass of filmy dark hair straying in wisps from a harness of
braid, ribbon and pins, to Jim's utter distraction and the poor girl's
All my efforts in Jim's behalf had been lost apparently, or Jim,
having won the prizes in each case, became disenchanted for one reason
or another. Perhaps like my love letters, the girls were works of art
and would not bear too close an inspection. The coming case would make
one more failure, I imagined; still, I was sorry I had remarked how she
had coaxed her veil into shape; but with that wanton hair, a hat which
was a department to manage in itself, a tailor-made primness of figure
to superintend and the curvatures of Jim's conversation to follow, I
could understand that she needed the help of all her senses to keep her
pretty, light-hearted poise. I sighed to think of the trouble in store
for Mrs. Jim, not in the least knowing what a remarkable woman she was;
in my estimation of her at that time I think I was about as far off the
track as I got at any subsequent turn.
Jim had been uninterested so long (nearly three years), I felt love
was now a proposition which wouldn't find a crevice in his heart to
trickle into and widen until it split him asunder. But with the clever
young woman of business, in the rush and turmoil of the down-town
hustle, it is such a gentle humidity it seems to work its corrosion
unseen in the broad daylight. Thermometer readings don't show it. You
have to keep close to the barometer of eyes and sighs to know anything
definite of its ups and downsunless it passes into fog or pours, then
everybody can see it dropping through the air. I began to feel that it
would pour soon around Jim, and I shuddered, for I thought I already
heard the patter of light feet in the hall. Some of the gray poetry of
loneliness began to spread around my disturbed and anxious soul for
fear no drippings like that would ever fall on me. Race suicide
conscientiously practiced is a hard game. Nature abhors a vacuum, and
especially human nature. Perhaps this girl had a sister. A comfortable
introspection began to take the contract of illuminating my mind.
Agreeable family scenery was thrown around by the magic of the thought.
It scattered about six kids for Jim and the same-sized bunch for
meenough to prove that human nature abhors the inter-marrying of men
as Jim and I had tried it.
We naturally drifted away from the subject we were both thinking
about and got around to talking on old home mattersthe day's doings
and the state of the country; graft, buying and selling law, and what
it all had to do with harming the government and the likelihood of
losing our jobs.
It was about 8:30 o'clock as near as I can remember, when a timid
knock on the front door startled both of us. I answered the call,
expecting to find that fairy Miss Tescheron ready to pop in and oust me
like a Republican hold-over on a Tammany Happy New Year's. I peeped out
as charily as a jailer. The dim light revealed a tiny messenger
boysomething awful had probably happened up home! A messenger boy was
enough to startle both of us, for no one in the world would spend half
a dollar to tell us anything unless they were scared into it. I swung
the door open and the boy took off his cap and removed from its
sweat-band stronghold a neat-looking note.
Say, boss, does Mr. Benjamin Hopkins live up here? he asked
between breaths, for the five flights had tuckered him.
That's me, said I, reaching for the note and carefully scanning
the typewritten address, for upon second thought I believed love and
not fright might have sent a note to Jim. But it was for me, so I
opened it and leaning toward the lamp read in diplomatically suppressed
Mr. Benjamin Hopkins,
97 East Eighteenth Street, New York.
Dear Sir: Do not mention this matter to Hosley, but I wish to
you at once at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. I have instructed the
to send you to my room immediately. Please come right away, as
matter cannot wait.
Her pa, thought I; but I didn't let on. A stale actor in a play
couldn't have pulled himself together in a more
unconcerned-I-do-this-every-night fashion than I signed for the note,
tipped the poor little shaver and closed the door.
Jim eyed me in surprise, but it was nothing to my own astonishment.
What did old Tescheron want of me? No matter.
Jim, I've got to run up-town for a few minutes about some work,
was the wording of my deception, eased by the thought that it was in
his behalf. I slipped on my hat and coat and started for the door,
taking in at a glance that Jim was smoking hard and squirming uneasily.
One thing I liked about Tescheronhe talked business from the
start. He jumped into it at once, so that I had no time to take notice
of anything except that he talked without an accent, was probably
French only in name and that he wore clothes which were superfine. I
never saw such a dresser for a man with iron-gray hair and fifty-five
years to contend against in the youth-preserving business, which I
calculated was one of his pleasures in life, if not his vocation.
Nothing I figured on coming up-town happened except that I found my
man. A sixty-year old boy brought me to the room on the third floor.
I could see that Mr. Tescheron was a whole encyclopedia on manners,
but he gave me the paper-covered digest which retails for ten cents,
Hope I reached you just at the close of the funeral.
What funeral? I asked.
Say, see here, Hopkins, I want you to talk fair and square with
meno nonsense, you understand. You know of the funeralMrs.
Browning'sand if you weren't there you know when it was over and when
Hosley returned. I am pretty hot in the collar over this business; all
happened right under my nose; never thought of such a thing happening;
but I'm not too late to stop this infernal impostor, not too late! Of
course you don't know anything about my end of it, Hopkins, and I know
that you, too, have been fooled at your end, for I've looked you up. I
have reports from a dozen business men who say you are perfectly square
and that is why I send for you now that we may work together and make
the greatest headway. Do you know that the scoundrel Hosley has become
infatuated with my daughter?a pretense for criminal purposes, of
course. To-day he seeks me out to tell me they are engaged! A few hours
later I hear he is crying at the funeral of his wife!
There was some French in Tescheron after all, for he waved his arms
and danced about like a man whose tongue won't wag fast enough to
If Jim had dealt with large business concerns as an inspector,
instead of corner grocerymen and small storekeepers, they might have
saved him. The business men whom Tescheron had consulted regarding me,
I afterward learned, were the manufacturers whose plants I had
investigated for the city. Some of the best families in New York are
connected with Newtown Creek glue and they, it seems, had stuck to me
in this emergency. A fish man will believe anything a glue man tells
him; I don't know why, but it's so, and the fact was certainly to my
When Tescheron had calmed I broke out with a hiss and a stutter; it
wasn't a laugh, for I haven't laughed in years. All my laughing since
1889 has been a strictly intellectual process; but I did have an awful
pain because I could not digest his statement with a bouncing laugh.
All I could do was to stammer and splutter like a bass viol tuning up,
while I sozzled around in my chair trying to break in with something
that would count. Why should a man of my temperament take a hand in
love, war or diplomacy? As a theoretical manipulator of fathers-in-law,
as a text-book writer on the subject, I was in the extra fancy class,
but the part of Daniel in the lion's den could not be played by me
unless I agreed to step in the marble-lined vestibule of open jaws and
get kicked down the back stairs after a thorough overhauling. On the
firing line my plans did not fit and I became a failure.
A smell of fish in the room restored me. I knew not whence it came,
but its soft presence yielding to my keen detector restored my
professional pride and self-respect. I then felt I was something of a
detective after all. I eyed a revolving ventilator in the window-pane
as a possible avenue of its entrance from the culinary department. I
did not suspect Tescheron.
I see you are not inclined to side with me in this matter, he
rattled on. To-night I notify the coroner. I
Are you a fool? I blurted with that rare presence of mind which
will some day save me by putting me in jail. Are you an idiot? You
seem to be gone in the head. Call a dozen coroners, by all means, and
be the laughing-stock of the town. Drag your whole family into the
illustrated newspapers. Go ahead and have a good time at your own
expense. Get out the fire department and have them squirt on you! I
was surprised at the string of sarcasm which rolled forth when I did
Tescheron danced a first-class vaudeville turn and shouted: Say
what you please, I notify the coroner! Hosley killed his wife so that
he might marry my daughter; I have had detectives out, so I know and
you don't. I
How long have you had them out?
Since two o'clock to-daysoon as he left me.
Since two o'clock to-day, eh? And what did you have against Mr.
Hosley before that hour, pray?
Oh, nothing except a strong personal dislike to himbut I have
enough against him now; I have enough now! I had told him he was too
old; that he had done nothing to merit herjust to gain time, you see.
I wanted time to find out; to look him over with care; with the same
precaution I would use in a cold matter of business. It was well I did;
it's a mighty good thing I used my business sense in this matter. You
see, you are no man of business. You
Well, said I with a calmness affected to aggravate the man who was
sure, you couldn't have hired a better lot of men. They pass you out
Jim Hosley, married, and a widower by murdering his wife, and have him
engaged to your daughter in six hours. It is as pretty a story as I
ever read. A man who wouldn't ring up the coroner on that needs one for
his own autopsy. Why, any man would be proud to have a coroner in the
family on the strength of all that. Tescheron, let's talk about the
pleasant memories of the past. What asylums that you have been in do
Tescheron proceeded to give me the repertoire of the dancing school.
When he began to polka and upset the furniture he dropped his cologned
handkerchief. I tossed it up on the ventilator, for somebody had
ordered a lot more fish.
So he has fooled you, too? Yes? You have been living with him there
and did not know he was married to a woman in a flat right below
yoursher name is Browning. I saw that you remembered it. Strange,
ain't it? Do you know how she died? No? I see you do not. You are very
smart, very clever. You have talked just as I hoped you would. Let me
introduce Mr. Smith.
And from behind a screen stepped a slight, middle-aged man with keen
blue eyes and fair complexion. I shook hands with Mr. Smith. He was a
wide-awake little man, not in the least embarrassed by the
eavesdropping, as it was part of his business. I have lived long enough
to know that there are all kinds of Smiths. He was one of them.
Of course I began to feel that they were crowding me to turn State's
evidence against my faithful Jim. The thought of the funeral in the
early evening in the flat below ours, and Jim's innocent inquiry
concerning it, had flashed upon me. I still felt that Mr. Smith was
only making out a good case to match a big bill. If Jim Hosley had been
leading a double life at such short range without my knowing it I must
be a chuckle-head. I knew Jim Hosley was honest; that easy as his
conscience was in trifling matters, he knew no guile. If a Mrs.
Browning had been living below us she was as much a stranger to him as
her relative's poetryin fact it might have been hers for all Jim knew
Smith answered a knock on the door and stepped into the hall for
half a minute.
You don't begin to know this scoundrel, continued Mr. Tescheron,
eyeing me like a man with the facts. Perhaps you will deny that this
fellow Hosley served two years in prison at Joliet, Illinois; that he
was indicted for forgery in Michigan and got into a mix-up in Arizona,
whence he skipped at the point of a pistol and made his way down into
Mexico. This fellow Hosley has passed under a dozen different names. He
is notorious in criminal annals. He is so clever that he can completely
fool you and deceive my daughter, who, I would have you understand, is
a smart womanone not easily fooled. It is lucky I took this thing in
hand when I did, or, as you say, we would have all been shown up in the
Well, I let the old codger run along at this clip. It beat anything
I had ever heard, but it didn't disturb me, as I have stated, except to
create a pain that a good laugh would have cured. What could I say up
against a know-it-all combination? Hadn't the detectives been at work a
whole six hours? What kind of records did they keep in their office if
they couldn't bunch a choice bouquet of crime for a fellow willing to
pay for it? You can buy anything in New York. The detective bureau had
found good enough clues in Mr. Tescheron's desire for a discovery and
in his commercial rating which showed that he could pay top prices for
the disgrace of a would-be son-in-law in the estimation of his devoted
daughter. The detective bureaus, lawyers' offices and society papers
that deal in this blasting powder and take contracts to shatter good
names were common enough; everybody knew them. People like Tescheron,
though, only knew their names, not their reputations, and like many
honest folks went to one of these concerns because he had seen its name
frequently in print. Publicity draws trade sometimes without
reputation, especially first customers. Tescheron was a new hand at
this business of ruining character with the aid of a criminal detective
bureau and its lawyer allies and associates on the slanderous society
papers that fatten on the frailties of human beings with money to buy
exemption, but too weak to fight the slimy devils whose pens drip this
filth from the social sewage pots; he knew not the parasites who cling
to the maggoty exudations of every form of social disorder. That is the
way I figured it. I want it straight on the record here that my
devotion to Jim Hosley at that interview began to tighten like the
Damon-and-Pythias grip of a two-ton grab bucket. I was figuring to die
beside Jim with a Nathan Hale poise of the head and some pat remark.
Smith, the sharp-eyed, handed a paper to Mr. Tescheron. They
whispered about it for a minute or so in one corner, and then Mr.
Tescheron read it aloud:
Hosley and the undertaker drove away in coach together following
hearse. Two men following.
As he finished they both looked at me, probably expecting me to be
convinced that all virtue was on their side and to unite with them or
at least listen while they revealed all they knew about Jim Hosley's
career of crime and deception. But I had enough. I knew where the crime
was there, I believed. I opened up on a new line.
I guess I'll notify the coroner, said I quietly, starting to go.
No, no! shouted Tescheron. I did not mean to do that. I only said
that to draw you out. All I ask of you, Mr. Hopkins, is that you give
your evidence against this man when I next summon you. I am glad to
find you convinced at lastbut never mind the coroner. I can
accomplish my purpose under cover.
I edged away.
No, I think you have convinced me that it is my duty to notify the
coroner, said I, so that this murderer, Hosley, may be put to death.
It's a nasty business for all of us, I said, except Smith, here, who
won't mind it.
Hopkins, if you do that you will spoil all my plans, pleaded the
now completely flustrated Tescheron. Stand in with me. Help me to
present the truth about this rascal in the presence of my daughter and
all will go well. As for the authorities, let them take care of their
end themselves. The Tescheron family is not to be sacrificed! Think of
yourself, man! Surely you don't want to be mixed up in such a horrible
crimeyou who have been fooled for years. Come, now! Agreed, eh?
I'll think it over, said I, giving one down-stroke of the handle
for a parting shake to each of these brainy men and then I passed out.
As I traveled toward home, I regretted I had been so confident, and had
not asked to be shown all the evidence they had against Hosley. That
proved to be more of a mistake than I supposed, as I hurried along.
Just before entering our house, I called a boy and sent this message
to Mr. Tescheron, at his home in Ninety-sixth Street. I found the
address in the telephone book:
Have notified Coroner Flanagan. He has telephoned all the
to hold body. Autopsy to-morrow. Rest easy. I am with you.
Flanagan would enjoy the joke, I thought, on my way home. Coroner
Tim Flanagan, the Tammany leader of the district in which we lived, was
the friend of everybody in his territory, and took a kindly interest in
Jim and me, although we held office on other tenure than pull. We
bought tickets every year for the annual clam-bake of the Timothy J.
Flanagan Association, held at Rockaway, and there mingled with the
politicians big and little, and the fellows from our departments. We
office-holders knew which side our bread was buttered on, and we also
liked clams. We did not attend the annual mid-winter ball of the same
association, but we never failed to buy tickets admitting ladies and
gent. If the news that I had taken undue liberty with his name came
back to Flanagan I knew he would quickly forgive me. Flanagan was a
good fellow, straight and loyal.
As I passed through the vestibule of our apartment house I looked at
the letter-boxes and noticed the narrow string of crape tied on the
little knob, under the badly written name, Browning. If the sad event
had closed, as reported by the subordinates of Smith, the careless
undertaker had forgotten to remove this shred of formality.
I found the murderer, forger and bad man of the border, in bed,
snoring as if he was glad he had always stuck to the treadmill of
virtue, and had never murdered a wife to get another with money, or had
raised a check for a cool million or so without the formalities of a
pious purloiner from the people's purse. No criminal in history had
ever slept with a smoother rhythm to his heart-beat than this one, with
the élite of New York's private detective bureaus hot upon his trail
for a long chase. His sonorous snore might have sent a waver through
the mind of the crafty Tescheron, and made the wily Smith feel that the
case would dwindle to less than a week's job, when he was probably
figuring on a good two thousand dollars in it, having sized up the
buyer pretty well.
I felt satisfied that my telegram would put some insomnia in
Ninety-sixth Street when the great work closed for the night at the
Fifth Avenue Hotel, and the protector of the household returned to rest
those tired wheels that had been whirring fast in his head since 2 P.
M., short-belted to the Smith dynamo of fraud.
I didn't expect to do much sleeping myself, so I proceeded to divest
and relax under the sedative pull of my pipe. For about half an hour I
creaked the comfortable rocker, and pondered on that old subject of
fools and their money, and how it was that wise men like myself had so
little of it. The solitudes and soliloquies of life appealed to
meespecially with a nice bunch of fake crime hovering in the air
between me and, say, a few feet beneath my rocker. I was lolling in our
front parlor, probably not ten feet above the spot just vacated by the
latest victim, and the man who would swing or singe for the deed was
playing a soft nostrilian air two doors down the hallbut, no! The
tune stopped! The villain had turned 216 pounds over on a set of
springs which shiveringly reported the man-quake in their midst. A
brief moment of calmjust enough for a murderer to lick his chops and
gather a lulling sense of monotony from the contemplation of a fresh
wife-slaying, and he was off again with the sheriff after him for
exceeding the speed limit. His horn was clearing the track and the
vibrations blended in a romping continuity.
The deeper Jim got into his Bluebeard dreams, or his fairyland of
love, the deeper I got into my hobby, political economy, and to
thinking of the wide difference between us.
Somebody had to do a little thinking, for Fate was tying our affairs
in hard, wet knots, and the chances were we'd have to stay under the
stream of life's perplexities. Jim was so smooth in appearance (alas!
but not in tongue) he might slip out of a corner as easily as his fine
manners enabled him to progress in society. But I was no man for style.
I could cut no swath with women. The few times I had tried it, the
scythe had turned upon me, took me for an extra tough bunch of wet
grass and stung me badly. I could see that my chances there were poor.
If Jim got out of this murder business, as I believed he would soon, I
intended to run the flat alone, fill it full of books written by people
who have advised the country out of a spirit of pure patriotism (and
into a worse hole), and after reading all they had to say, I thought I
could produce something original that would put them all out of print,
with my small volume standing alone on the shelves, as the last word on
the pursuit of happiness, containing full directions on how to keep to
the trail, from birth to the grave, with a stop-over ticket at the
last-named junction. I felt that all this was in me, just as Jim felt
there was something in him, he didn't know what, but so long as it kept
him fidgeting he knew it was there.
It was not surprising to my friends that I had given up all hope for
myself. As I have said, I was no man for style. It always seemed to me
that my clothes fitted me when I was buying them, but it never struck
anybody else that way afterward. I paid the same prices as Jim, but I
would have done just as badly at three times as much, and might just as
well have saved money buying second-hand through a want ad. Nature
designed me to spoil tailoring. If I had lived in Eden the fig leaves
on my belt would have browned and cracked before noon the first day,
and if a few figs were then worn on the side as fringe ornaments, I
would have carelessly picked them inside out, making the suit look
seedier still. On a foggy morning the dewdrops of Paradise would have
spotted me, and on a windy day the flying burrs and feather-tailed
seeds would have taken me for good ground; the pussy willows and all
such forest fuzz and excelsiorfor a good thing. If I had been a Roman
no one would have seen me down street, for I would be in the baths
waiting for my wrapper to be scoured, washed and mended.
This is a way Fate has of keeping a few scholars and investigators
in the world. Herbert Spencer would have been swamped in a family, and
the same with George Eliot. If they had married each other, as Herbert
says they might (had Georgie been better-looking), philosophical and
imaginative genius would have been lost in getting the meals and
bending posterity over the parental knee to make sin seem undesirable.
I had always felt that Jim was cut out to get married, and I stood
ready to help him through the entire catalogue of crime and conspiracy,
for I knew he could not undertake so much alone as well as I knew glue
from tallow coming two miles by air line. If Jim wanted to do it,
though, I would give him the benefit of my knowledge of the theory of
courtship, a subject I was well up in, having read considerably more
fiction than he had. This with my keen intuitive perceptions, I felt
fitted me to act again in an advisory capacity, for my critical
faculties were massive, although, as I have hinted, my executive
qualities as a lover were undersized.
I had time for Jim's affairs, because society had peculiar horrors
for me. Let a woman say something at a dinner or a reception, and my
neck would begin to swell like a pouter pigeon's and my collar would
close down like a pair of hedge clippers centered at the back collar
button. This would cause no alarm in the young woman, for she would
imagine the choking symptoms were only signs of an embarrassment
produced by her interest in me. This would not have been a bad thing,
for bashful men always get the most encouragement, and if persistently
bashful, are coaxed into all the intricate arts of the gentle game by
the woman who is interested in them. Thus I always seemed to have the
good luck of the bashful man up to the last gasp, and until I began to
turn blue. She would then see that it was apoplexy, and not her charms,
which was undoing me. But the apoplexy, the bulging veins and the
reddening eyes were forgotten when I sought relief by inserting the
first two fingers of each hand on either side of my collar, and with a
short, outward jerk, would open the starchy shears that were fastening
like a constrictor around my air valves. This would startle the young
creature into diffidence, and I always hated to do it, but it was the
only way I could assume my self-control. Following the application of
the two-finger movement, relief would come quickly, with a splutter and
a stammering apology for not catching her last remark. My volubility
from that point to the next attack, when interrupted by a suggestion
which would derail me, or by a third party not following our train of
thought, would impress the hearer that it was the collar which was
tight. This remarkable misfortune, of course, deprived me of the
influence of the bashful man, and as I was no dissembler I could not
take advantage of the appearance of my distress. My blushes were wholly
due to choking and could not pass for flashes reflexed by heart-throbs.
There was another thing I had to battle with from my entrance into
society. Jim could look like a lord in a dress suit. I always looked
like a lord knows what! The Sun once published a picture of the
dress trousers of Grover Cleveland and David B. Hill lined up with
those of Governor Montague of Virginia, for impartial presentation by a
flashlight photograph. It was an astonishing revelation of Democracy
below the waist line. Jim cut it out and put it in a pretty straw
frame. He said he never wanted me to lose sight of the styles set by
great statesmen. Montague, as became his aristocratic name and lineage,
was a model of perfection about the legs, and Jim said it proved he
would never get to Washington and take rank with our great men.
Cleveland and Hill, however, who had been there, evidently pinned their
trousers in curl-papers, so that they were always ready to look fancy
in society and be snap-shotted. Mine followed the Washington route
without urging. Then, as to vest, coat and shirts: no tailor could make
a coat for me that could trail after my neck when it was engaged in the
throes of a society conversation. The coat had to go off at the back of
the collar and stand to one side until the neck was through talking.
The vest generally showed only two square inches and gave little
trouble to the public, so long as I kept my coat on and hid the
safety-pins which reefed it in the back. The shirt, up to a certain
course of the dinner, would keep under the napkin, but until I learned
of a patent mixture to cover the bosom with a transparent
waterproofing, used to protect wall-paper and other delicate fabrics
from ink stains and finger-marks, I found it a burden to carry so much
exposed linen. But with this wax paint, I care not what drops on it; it
won't stick unless it's hot metal, and there is not so much of that in
the air at dinners this side of Arizona.
Studs are a source of mortification to me. I have paid as high as
fifty cents for a set of three and had them all break off the first
night, exposing the brass settings. I sought to reduce this torment by
wearing only one stud-hole, but that makes it necessary to go away into
a far country, three times during the dinner, to bore out the stump of
the old stud and drive in the new. Any man who has done the job with
his collar and tie on, knows that he is as pop-eyed as a lobster when
he gets through, trying to keep the field of operations in view. I had
special bolts made which I had soldered on. This is practicable where
the wax paint is used and the mangle of the laundry avoided. A good
paint will last three years.
Shaving for society appearances cut windfalls all over my face, that
I had to cover with the overhang of whiskers. I tried the old-style
razor, but my shaving ran into big money for court plaster, so I got
some safety razors, several brands of them, determined to keep a
decent-looking lawn. These devices are like mowing machines in that
they have teeth to grip the crop and make it stand straight for the
attack of the knife, but the knife doesn't move in a shuttle like that
of the mowing machineit is stationary, so that you have an
arrangement that is a combination of mowing machine and road scraper. I
think the safety razors were responsible for most of the blanks in my
whisker area. They dug chunks out of some of the most fertile spots,
and as nothing would grow there, I covered them by the ivy process
adopted by bald men, who train eighteen hairs from back of the left ear
diagonally up and across the cranial arbor and down the front to a
point over the right eye, where the ends are brought up short as if
they were rooted near there. I could say I was not bald. This gave me
some satisfaction, but I never boasted of it in public. There was a
streak of porcupine in our family. This accounted for the trod-grass
appearance of my head, even when prepared carefully for public
appearance. It was at its best when it looked like a meadow of tall
timothy that had been walked over by the cows on a wet day.
Curry-combing would not disturb it. Herr Most, Ibsen, Old Hoss Hoey and
I had a common quill-haired ancestor.
There were some other points that fitted me to blush unseen. When I
was fifteen years old and my voice was changing, it struck a peculiar
gait. It ran up and down about six octaves, to the tune of a
five-finger exercise. I talked around town for a few weeks in a
surprisingly new style, that reminded me of a boarder who came up to
our place one summer from New York and undertook to show us how to ride
a horse. When the horse got as fast as a spry walk the boarder would
teeter up and down in the saddle as if he had been practicing on a
spring bed and had kept a chunk of it in each hip pocket for
elasticity. George Honkey, our druggist and censor of public manners,
said it was the most insipid piece of equine pitty-patter he had ever
seen on Main Street, and from the get-up-and-down of it, he guessed it
must be the Episcopal ritual for horseback exercise. My vocal cords,
while tuning for my lowly part in life's orchestra, for a day at a time
would seem to stick to a decent tenor or drop to an impressive bass
which would have fitted me to be a preacher, but a sudden attack of
mumps, with measles complicating, pulled them to one side and burned
the bridge. They afterward drew tight down on the sounding board, so
that now when I talk the rickety buzz is like that of a horse-fiddle
played with the tremolo and the soft pedal. An æolian harp made of
rubber bands on a bicycle, aroused by the wind as the machine moves
swiftly, gives the same soft raspa prolonged sizz.
What chance had a man with women, handicapped as I was? And I have
mentioned only a few minor matters, which have come quickly to mind, as
I hastily pen this narrative of my adventures as the middleman in Jim's
love affairs. And yet I had a true and noble heart, with a capacity for
manly devotion as great as any ever advertised on Sunday in the
personal column. I make this statement because a man in my position
must take the stand in his own behalf, if any testimony is to be given
for his side of the case. I am the only competent witness to my own
virtues. In order to appreciate me, a woman would need to have a fine
discrimination. My beauty might have been revealed to such a woman if
she had concentrated by absent treatment on my lofty, self-sacrificing
character, evidenced by my pursuit of the chaste in art and the sane in
philosophy. But all hope had then well-nigh departed. I realized that
there were inconsistencies in the theories of the survival of the
fittest and natural selection. I was an example of the exception to the
rule. Excluded, I became the last of my race. I was the last candy in
the boxjust as full of sugar as those that had been devoured, but
condemned to rattle in solitude because, forsooth, chocolate creams are
preferred to gum-drops. Chilled by a want of sympathetic appreciation
while mingling with my fellows, I had gradually withdrawn to the
scholarly cloisters of our fifth-story apartment, adjacent to the tin
roof, which so fascinated the summer sun, and far above the turmoil of
a world of men and women wholly disinterested in me. Perhaps this may
seem a little too pessimistic for a philosopher whose experience had
taught him to be above disappointment, yet I must confess it is true I
could not witness the social achievements of my companion without pangs
of remorse; the indifference of the world to merit, to much pure gold
in the ore, convinced me that a varnished label in six colors maintains
the market for mediocrity. Driven to desperation, I might yet seek a
beauty doctor and obtain the glazed surface so essential to social
success. Bachelorhood with Jim seemed to have been due to his lack of
appreciation of others, for according to the favorable comment his
comely appearance created, he seemed to be filled with indifference;
while with me, as I warmed into high enthusiasm over certain
well-defined representatives of the angelic sex, coolness, growing to
statuesque frigidity, would develop in the object of my devotions, and
the beauty whose charms had bedeviled me into insomnia and wild-eyed
desperation became related to me thereafter as the angel surmounting
the tombstone that marked the resting place of my folly.
Moderation, therefore, I concluded, was the keynote of success in
courtship. When the current became balanced in negative and positive
qualities, the desirable equilibrium recognized by each pole as the
real thrill of mutual romance, jealousy and despair would spark, blow
out the fuse and short-circuit into a proposal and an acceptance. Jim
was negative in desire and positive in appearance, thus securing
neutrality, and my passive state was the resultant of a positive
inclination and a negative exterior. Thus Jim was admired and I was
tolerated, but he had progressed no further than I.
One Sunday he and I were strolling through an art gallery.
What do you call this, Ben? he whispered behind his hand, pointing
to the portrait of a red-haired Diana sitting on a low, mossy stump in
a lonely spot. Her back was turned toward us, and she seemed to be
taking a sun bath. He looked stealthily around to make sure his
curiosity was not noted by the spectators near us.
It says on the label that Titty Ann painted it. It is the
bluest-looking woman I ever saw; how did they come to let it in?
Yes, said I, not attempting to disturb his view of the painting or
the name of the artist, Titty Ann was a great painter of the
blue-blooded women of the aristocracy, so blue-blooded they seemed to
be bruised all over, and Titty Ann wanted you to see there was no place
they had not been hurt.
The incident shows how keen was Jim's appreciation of this great
subject of universal interest to bachelors. It seemed to me in those
days that the fairest creature that ever fluttered could not charm him
with the siren whistle of her swishing silk, nor throw a damaging spark
from her bright eyes. But here he was, plunged into the most dreadful
complications, which seemed in the mind of Tescheron, at least, to be
fastening him in the electric chair.
It must have been about 11:30 o'clock when Jim got out of bed and
began to mope around the flat, tramp nervously up and down the private
hall and scuffle through the closets, the cupboard and among the pots
and pans, which fretfully clashed in a heap upon the floor when he
sought to unhook his favorite, the upper story of the double boiler. I
wondered what ailed him now. From the way the alleged murderer was
rattling the crockery and the tinware, back in the kitchen, I knew he
had it bad. What prompted him to invade the kitchen and unhook our
outfit I don't know, but I think he was trying to heat some water, poor
chap!to accompany a certain pill, on a theory that it was dyspepsia
which disturbed his dreams.
Presently he wandered into the front room, looking badly rumpled. He
had on his yellow and brown dressing gown and a pair of pink-bowed
knitted slippers of a piebald variety, that I had seen displayed by a
neighboring gents' furnishing goods store.
Ben, what are you doing up this time of night? Pretty late, ain't
it? he asked.
Oh, I'm just cogitating, I answered. You look sick; anything the
matter with you?and, say, when you go into that kitchen, I wish you
wouldn't chuck everything in the place on the floor for me to pick up.
I picked 'em all up, Ben, was his meek reply.
I never could scold him, so I forgave him and invited him to sit
down and have a smoke. He fairly jumped at the idea, and it pleased me
to see him bite. I thought then how little Tescheron could know of this
innocent blockhead, Jim Hosley, whose heart and brain traps were built
on the open, sanitary order, with nothing concealed.
Jim continued fidgety and wide-awake as he took his seat near the
table and the county papers. He squirmed on the cushions, smoked hard
and complained of the tobacco, the weather, the police magistrates, his
tight shoes, the careless washerwoman and a string of matters
incidental to the world's work and its burdens that he had never
mentioned before so long as I had lived with him, and that was pretty
close to ten years. It was easy to see that this was no ordinary case.
Several times I had suffered the same sort of misery; had looked for a
soft seat and reposeful thoughts in vain. Jim had not noticed it.
A man who has been forty miles over a mountain road on an empty
lumber wagon knows what thrills are. I could see that Jim was aboard
and that the team had cut loose down hill, for his bones were fairly
rattling with the vibrations from the bog hollows, thank yer, mums,
old stumps and disagreeable boulders. He needed help. He couldn't hang
on much longer.
Say, Ben, there was a little matter I wanted to speak to you
about, said Jim, with the same uneasy manner in which he had rubbed
all our household arrangements the wrong way and aroused the resentment
of the frying-pan and its pards of the domestic range.
I at once began to talk about something I was reading, to let him
down easy and to open him up wider, for I was anxious to burrow into
the mystery and dig exploration shafts in all directions. As he seemed
to close again, I allowed my comment to drool off into a hum, and then
looked up short in a way to send his ideas from mark-time to a
continuance of the procession.
You know that young lady, Miss TescheronMiss Gabrielle
Tescheron? asked Jim, tossing his hair into windrows and looking
straight away from me.
Why, I know that lovely girl I've seen you with; is her name
Yes, that's her name, and we're to be married.
Jim, old boy, let me congratulate you. And we shook hands over
this creature who was to wreck our happy homestill, I felt there
wouldn't be enough crockery to continue on unless the thing was settled
in church or at Sing Sing pretty soon.
When is it to come off? I continued, that question usually being
No. 2 to the hand-shake and congratulations.
Ben, I mention this matter because I feel that I need your
friendship now more than ever, said he, disregarding my inquiry in a
way which clearly showed that Cupid had stubbed a toe. I am up against
it. Tell me, what should be done? You must know a lot about such
matters, and I don't seem to understand. It's the old man, her pa; a
little whipper-snapper of a dude. I could swat him with my little
finger and settle him in a minute. George! I've a mind to, at that.
That, of course, is out of the question, I advised, tackling the
matter as if time and again the fat of my theories had been tried out
into the dripping of wedded affinities. Soft dealing with parents is
essential. This wisdom came also as if I were quoting from a book by a
Mormon, who had handled every variety of father-in-law. On what does
pa base his opposition?
Well, I'll tell you, said Jim, preparing to confess all and let me
do the penance. But it's such blamed nonsense, I'm almost afraid to.
It shows what an infernal old fool he is.
How old is pa? I inquired.
Oh, he's an old 'un.
Says you're old enough to be her father, doesn't he?
That's it, but he's off; and how would you get around it,
anywayby postponing it?
Jim's notion of ages, and Tescheron's, I feared were both wide of
the mark, but I let that pass. One was vain and mad, and the other did
not observe closely.
Is that all he said? I asked.
Well, no. I'll tell you just what he said as near as I can
remember, and see if you can figure out the answer. I came away to-day
from his office, squeezed out and dried up, but I gave him no back
talk. I simply said, 'Mr. Tescheron, I love your daughter, Gabrielle,
and I am here, sir, to ask you to set the day for the wedding,' just
like that, as pleasant as if I was chatting to him after church. Say, I
thought he would hurrah, or take me around to lunch (it was then after
noon) and introduce me to his friends. But he proceeded to breathe an
early frost on my green and tender leaves. As I was about to say, Ben,
as near as I can remember after rehearsing all this afternoon is
thisand I tell you, because if I don't the chances are I'll go right
on rehearsing it forever in some asylum, and then everybody will hear
it till they are sick and tired of it, and the curtain won't rise on
the real show. Said he: 'Well, so you say, so you say, so you say!'
This beat me. I had never heard a man talk that way.
I've heard that kind, said I, knowingly. He took stitches in his
'So you say, so you say. What say I? So? No.' That has been running
through my head in a way to set me crazy, continued Jim. 'Do I want a
son-in-law nearly as old as I am?' the little jackanapes asked me. 'Not
I. So you see, you are too old for Gabrielle.' Now, what do you think
of that? Doesn't that beat you? Why, the old chap is over fifty, and he
says I am older than he is. I actually believe he's crazy. Hair dye and
cologne and young men's clothes seem to give him the notion that he is
about thirty and became Gabrielle's father when he was about five years
old. He's got an idea from somewhere that I'm twice as old as I am
because I'm twice as big as he isthat's the most reasonable way I can
look at it. Well, I got so dry in the roof of my mouth I couldn't stub
my tongue on it to turn a word; my eyes burned and a cold sweat
started. No man his size had ever floored me before. I tried hard to
remember he was Gabrielle's father, and out of respect for her I should
not injure him. He then piled in on me again. 'That is not all,' he
said. 'Gabrielle is ambitious. You are lazy. You have wasted your
youth. Look at you! A man of your age who has done nothing yet!'
From this I gathered that Tescheron's objections were at first
personal. He did not find Jim to his liking and was probably urging his
daughter to regard the suitor in the same light. Later in the day the
better excuse learned from the great detective bureau came to his
What do you think of that, Ben? continued Jim. What has he done
to brag about? Should I bring a birth certificate?
Yes, but he is not marrying Gabrielle himself, said I. He is
trying to help her to find a good husband. You must be generous, Jim,
and give a father his due.
Shucks! He spends all his pay on his clothes. Such a dresser you
never saw, and what is he? A rubber-neck, that's all.
I asked one of the fellows who worked where he does, some time ago,
what old man Tescheron did, and he told me he was a rubber-neck. Now, I
know very well that a rubber-neck is a fellow who goes around to corner
groceries to see what other kinds of crackers are sold there besides
the brands furnished by his house. He starts in talking about the price
of green-groceries, drifts along for five or ten minutes, and keeps
squinting over the cracker boxes. To stave off suspicion he buys an
apple, peels it carefully and eats it slowly, while he incidentally
craves a cracker and proceeds to pump the innocent grocer on his
cracker business. He writes out his notes in full afterward and that
grocer is then described on a card index at the main office as handling
such and such goods. I ought to know what rubber-necks are, having been
around groceries enough.
A sort of cracker detective, said I.
That's all. A common, ordinary rubber-neckgets about fifteen a
week. By the way he dresses you'd think he had a king's job. Think of
him looking down upon me. Small as I am, I lead him.
I wonder would he turn up his nose at me, an Inspector of Offensive
Trades? I queried, sadly. But go ahead, Jim, and stick to your story,
for I can see that there is plenty of trouble ahead for you.
This startled Jim into a more direct presentation of his problem.
Well, I up and told him, said I: 'Mr. Tescheron, Miss Gabrielle and
I would like to be married at her home some time soon,' said I; 'and if
you don't wish it that way,' said I, 'I guess we can find a place that
will be big enough and will answer just as well,' said I; and then I
began to start up warmer and get bolder, when he shut me off with a
string of cuss words that ran all over me. I didn't suppose he could
talk that way, but no one in the office seemed to mind, although I'll
bet you could have heard him a mile down South Street.
South Street? I asked, in a surprised tone not observed by the
single-minded Jim. Where's his office?
The place they deal in fish at wholesale. And yet you say he is a
rubber-neck for a cracker house? I connected the faint suggestion of
fish at the Fifth Avenue Hotel with the case at this point, and knew at
once Tescheron's business, and from my knowledge gained by many
inspections at the market inferred that the father of the girl was a
A queer place for the cracker business, said I.
Well, a fellow told me; that's all I know, said Jim. I haven't
been sitting on the same sofa with the old gentleman asking him
Jim, do you know that you have this prospective father-in-law all
twisted? He's something besides a cheap dude, said I. He's no
rubber-neck. I'll bet the old chap is well off, and do you want to know
why he dresses so fine and keeps cologne on his handkerchief?
That's right, he does, said Jim with a wondering gaze. And it's
sickening to find a little, weazened, sawed-off cuss doing itjust to
get people to look around to locate him, I warrant. There'd be no
questions about old Tescheron if it warn't for his gasoline.
No, no. You are away off, Jim. You don't know so much about
perfumes and their antidotes as I do, and besides, you're not expected
to, because it is not your profession. My nose is my bread and butter.
I am an expert in the analysis of the nether atmosphere. Any composite
bunch of air striking my acute analytic apparatus is at once split into
its elements. Put me blindfolded in a woman's kitchen and I can tell
you if there is pumpkin pie and rhubarb under cover there, and where
they keep the butter and cheese. I can tell you what kind of microbes
live in the cellar and all about their relatives, and even if there are
moths or other evidences of winged occupancy among the fauna of the
mattresses on the floors above. Wonderful, of course; but it's in my
line, that's all. Given a peculiar kind of brains and any man can do it
just as easily. My great deficiencies in other respects have all tended
to the enlargement of this faculty. By some accident of nature my
ancestors appear to have inclined toward obtaining a higher development
of this sense so important to the protection of life in these days of
crowded living. Of course, they did it unconsciously; but Fate wisely
predisposes, I believe
Well, what has this all got to do with Gabrielle? interrupted Jim,
crossing first one leg and then the other, and tossing his hair into
cocks ready to be thrown on the rigging.
Patience, Jim, old boy. You can't solve these great mysteries of
life which confront us at every crisis of our existence, by jumping off
the handle. I am ready to tell you, however, that I have hastily turned
over in my mind such data as you have given me, and I find that you
have blundered into a favorable position. It will not do for you to
make any moves without consulting me, however. If you can patiently
bear up while I handle the case for you for a few days
You may handle the father all you please, interrupted Jim, but
not Gabrielle. Everything is quiet at that end of the line.
Of course, said I. I would be no good there. Let me adjust the
old gentleman. You may be thankful that the trail leads to a wholesale
fish-market. I will be right at home there. I think I can surprise
Jim shuffled off to bed after receiving my assurances of support. I
had been extremely careful to keep from him the knowledge that I was in
the game at both ends. In five minutes he was asleep.
Now for a good think on love, murder, political economy and fish. No
sleep for mejust a good, long think, with breakfast at 6 A. M., with
the correct solution as snugly stored in my mind as ten cents in a
First, I knew nothing about the Brownings and cared less. They
didn't figure in my plans at all. My purpose was to startle Pa
Tescheron into a full knowledge of his lunacy, and command his
appreciation of his future son-in-law.
As I was about to plunge deeper into my cogitations, I picked up a
card from the table and read it. It chilled me some, but only for a
minute. It ran like this:
PATRICK K. COLLINS,
UNDERTAKER AND EMBALMER,
9 West Tenth Street, New York.
Cremations a Specialty.
I had heard of that fellow Collins, a notorious man in his line. His
specialty, cremations, removed all possibility of pathological or
toxicological investigation weeks afterward, when public suspicion
became aroused. The political coroners were supposed to be partners of
his in crime, and the police had tracked many a case through his
establishment to the retorts at the Fresh Pond crematory, where nothing
but a few handfuls of ashes remained. Was there to be a cremation in
the Browning case? Of course, I asked myself that question, and I also
wondered why the sleuths of Smith's had not reported the fact, if it
were a fact, to the hotel headquarters. If they knew it, then my
telegram to Mr. Tescheron about Coroner Flanagan telephoning to all the
cemeteries and his further purposes need not cause alarm. Perhaps he
would laugh when he received it. The card had been placed there during
my absence. Jim would tell me about it in the morning, so I gave the
matter no further consideration.
By that time, 12 o'clock, the detectives must have had Tescheron
talked tired, I guessed, and he was probably at home trying to figure
how he might escape the coroner's ordeal of publicity on the morrow,
unless, of course, they knew this man cremated his victims right after
It so happened that the detectives had him fairly crazy. When he
read my message he was completely daft. Instead of working out my plans
carefully, so as to achieve a complete fourth-act reconciliation by 6
o'clock, I spent the night answering and sending messages like a
general looking through a telescope on a hill-top.
The first lad in blue uniform came just about midnight and scared me
a little, but as Jim was not disturbed, all was well. It seems that
instead of going to bed, Pa Tescheron took a new start as soon as he
read my message about notifying the coroner. Smith was called again to
meet him at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, about fifteen minutes by messenger
boy from my headquarters. Here is the first message from General
You have done your worst. If you attempt to expose my family, I
have you prosecuted for blackmail and punished to the full
the law. Please call here at once.
General Hopkins sent this back by return boy:
Only evidence of attempted blackmail in this case so far is your
message just received. I will keep it. Is Smith also your
He's a bird. Thanks, but I never go calling after midnight.
accept my regrets.
I kept copies of the answers also, for I didn't know how far Smith
and his bureau might carry this fanatic, for they seemed to have
touched him where he was as tender as a wet spot on a paper napkin.
This came back in half an hour:
Your course is incomprehensible to me. You seem to take this
as a joke. It may be necessary for me to let the law take its
to achieve my purpose. I do not fear your threats. Please call
talk it over. TESCHERON.
Of course, he didn't fear the exposure, for he knew what a smart lot
of detectives he had. But he knew, according to my analysis of the
workings of his superheated brain, that the few times he had been real
mad in his life and had trusted to his impulses, he had gone deep into
the mire of expense or ridicule. Some of the skeletons of these
experiences were beginning to rattle in opposition to the oft-repeated
easy solution of Smith, who had been stoking that inflamed head since 2
P. M. with the kind of gore which kept it ablaze. Tescheron was
certainly getting a fine run for his money, and he had seemed to lose
sight of the fact that Smith was filling the part of bookmaker and
taking his pile.
This is no joke. Wait until you get Smith's bill. Hope you have
good picture of yourself for the papers?it saves the disgrace
sketch from life. They are bound to make your wife and daughter
well. I have just laid aside a half dozen of our portraits for
publication. Seems as if we would have pleasant weather for the
coroner's party to-morrow. Don't miss itor they'll drag you
in the hurry-up wagon.
I guessed he could see I wasn't rattled and was sticking close to my
method of play. He could see that a thirty-year-old was no ordinary lad
of the fish-market, to get excited when the boss turned red from
boiling. This renewed activity on his part, however, threw me clear off
the track that was to fetch me up at 6 A. M. with the whole business
The murderer, who had comfortably thrown his burdens on me, in the
meantime, snored again with a regularity and smoothness which proved he
had banished all thought of his first wife and was preparing his
trousseau for a comfortable wedding, with Pa Tescheron controlled and
delivered by me at the altar, ready to speak his little piece.
It was a shame for Tescheron to keep those boys running all night,
but he did. This came next:
I'll have my men at the autopsy, but I shall not be there, so
see our pictures will not be printed, as you seem to fear. I do
understand you. Don't you realize what your position is if this
is revealed? Do not delay further, but come at once. TESCHERON.
In my next I assured him that all our pictures would be printed, for
he would be served by subpoena from the coroner, unless he and his
family left the State before 8 o'clock.
And so it went, till finally I sent him a line saying that I would
guard the murderer all night and meet him at the Fifth Avenue Hotel at
9 A. M. on my way to the coroner's.
Then I turned in and forgot all Jim's troubles. It must have been
about 4 A. M.
Now, if early that evening I had learned my lesson, I might have
minded my own business, gone to bed early, and, like a wise man,
awakened early and left the house before it all happened.
It was just as I had predicted a hundred times, so I was not
surprised afterward when I learned how it was. A short time after I
went to sleep, Jim was overcome by the fidgets again and took one of
those Turkish baths invented by his home folks. This style of bath was
pure turkey. It was a regular turkey gobbler system of bathing and I
had never heard the like of it before I began to live with Jim. The way
to know a man is to live with him when he's in love. It was different
in a number of ways from any country custom I had ever heard of up
North, but all Jim's folks did it regularly, so he had told me, because
they thought it was the greatest thing in the world for a person who
felt out of sorts. I had been over to his house many and many a time,
but it so happened that I never saw his dad or his ma, or in fact any
of them, sitting on their kitchen stove.
Jim rigged up the bath in our flat kitchen with a lot of care. First
he would take our set of three sad-ironsthe kind that are run with
the same handle, especially designed to press trousers under a wet
ragand he would put them on top of the range, one under each leg of a
chair as far as they would go, and an old tin cup bottom-side-up under
the fourth leg. He was always particular to have a cane seat in the
chair and a piping hot fire in the range.
Then he would simplify his toilet till he got it about as we used to
have it before diving into the old swimming-hole. When he had reached
that point, he brought out a dark-colored quilt with a white ruffle all
around the edge. (We liked dark quilts and had quite a number that
never seemed to need washing.) In the middle of this quilt he had cut a
hole, just large enough to poke his head through and be snug about the
neck. When he got that on he pulled on a pair of old slippers that he
had tacked tin soles onto. The next and last piece to the harness was
his red and blue worsted toboggan cap with a long peak minus the
tasselit was very necessary for the head to get the full benefit or
you'd catch cold. This cap he pulled down well over his head and ears,
and then he stood on a box and mounted the fiery throne, sitting down
mighty easy while spreading the quilt over the back of the chair, and
holding it out well so that the pointed ends were as close to the lids
as possible to keep the cold air of the room off his shin bones.
It sort of reminded me of an old turkey gobbler; I don't know why,
for it was such a serious business with Jim, and he looked so glum. But
with the pointed ends dragging, he seemed to be strutting, and when he
got heated up nicely and began to drip on the hot lids, the hist
noise it made was just the same as an old gobbler's.
I've known him to swelter there in his turkey bath till he fairly
sizzled, hissing like the proudest gobbler on the farm, and then step
off easy onto the box, jump into bed, pull a heap of blankets over him
and enjoy a good wilt.
It is the most natural thing in the world that the quilt caught fire
without Jim noticing it. And thus ended our housekeeping.
I woke up six weeks later in a hospital.
The circus side-shows used to exhibit specimens of the human family
who were nothing but head. They had been sliced off clean at the neck
and rested comfortably with the stump on a parlor table. The underside
had evidently healed over nicely without corns, for they were the most
amiable and smiling people you would find in the whole show. Spectators
were not allowed within six feet of these people in reduced
circumstances, for it was plainly desirable that no one should kick the
table over or playfully tap them to see if they were really alive.
Sceptics in the crowd said that mirrors did it. A razor might have done
it, for all I cared. It gave me joy as a boy to think how it would feel
to be only head and decorate a table. Brains certainly counted with
themthey were always on top. And if they trained their tongues to run
out and wash their faces and comb their hair, a valet would not be
necessary. I've seen a man with no legs find a way to jump on a
Broadway car and a man without arms can't be kept from playing the
piano with his toes. This is because human nature has such a persistent
way of trying to do the difficult thing, usually with wonderful
success. Man can't fly nor be a fish naturally, but he wants to know
how it would feel, and so he makes some startling flights and dives at
Well, I never tried falling out of a five-story window before just
to see how it felt, but I got the sensation by doing it without trying.
My first knowledge after the act was the sensation of carbolic acid
making an appeal to my best-educated sense. That is all I knew for a
long, long timeprobably a year or two; then I began to have larger
ideas, but not very broad or deep. I began to feel that I was just a
head, and from this I figured it was all over with me on earth, and I
was starting in to be a young angel. At first, I was to be only a small
angel, just a cherub, with nothing but a fat head and two little wings
about as big as your hand spreading out from under each ear. I tried to
bend an ear down or cast an eye to feel or see if the wings had
started, for as I thought of my condition I imagined a couple of
inflamed lumps were swelling where the wingroots ought to be. But the
ears were stiff and the eyes would not reach around so far.
The wing-boils made me feel a little colicky; I don't know why, for
there was no substantial excuse for a case of colic, as I was all gone
below the collar. Winging, I concluded, was like teething. Infant
angels naturally felt colicky for some time before they cut their
ear-wings. By-and-by, the little wings would, no doubt, drop out, and
the second wings would come in at the shoulder-blades, when I sprouted
out below and took on shoulders with blades.
I slept, and slept, and the wings began to unfold and feather up
nicely, but they were too sore to flap yet and the feathers were mostly
pin size and very fluffy. Only at the top there were just a few that
you might say had real quills on as yet. The carbolic acid kept getting
stronger. I fancied it must be what young angels cry for. Why they
should sprinkle so much of it around me, I didn't understand at first,
but as I got to thinking about it I concluded that an Inspector of
Offensive Trades would need it good and plenty, like Tescheron needed
It must have been six months, so I then thought, after I had cut my
first set of wings, that I began to think about getting weaned, for I
was a bottle angel and I was getting almighty tired of watery victuals,
and besides, I was losing my appetite for the rubber tap. The reason I
didn't get a cookie or a chicken bone, I figured, was because I was now
handling everything in my crop, and it wouldn't do to crowd it too hard
or I might chokethe overload point being very close to the choker.
Well, I had never in all my worldly career wanted a cracker so
badly. If they had thrown in some sweitzerkase or a Yankee sardine I
would have been pleased; of course, I understood that it would be all
out of order to call for a glass of beer. Still, if there were any soft
drinks I would like a horse's neck, promising to sip it so as not to
get drowned in it.
By and by, I began to feel an awful thirst for something sour. Would
it be in order for a small angel to have a pickle to cut his wings on?
If so, I prayed, please let me have a jar of the mustard variety, full
of red peppers and other emphatic food.
My eyesight began to improve, and after many years of craving for a
pickle I began to see them in all sorts and sizes, dripping with
delicious vinegar and aromatic of tasty cloves and cinnamon. There was
no way for me to reach them. When I tired of trying I would drop into
nothingness again. By-and-by these lapses seemed to give me strength.
The floating pickles grew smaller and faded away and I began to discern
the dim outline of pillows, bed-clothes and bed-posts, and the four
walls of a narrow room. I burst the chains of bondage one morning by
Pickle, please; pickle, pickle!
A consultation of the house staff and the leading members of the
advisory corps was called immediately, and grouped around my bed they
formally voted that this was excellent for so young an angel. The vote
was not unanimous, as one of the doctors present gallantly led a strong
opposition. He tried hard to have his motion carried. His motion was to
lay the subject on the table (in the operating room) and take time to
go into it deeper before deciding.
When the learned men had gone away, my mother angel (angel is the
only word good enough for her), in a starchy blue and white uniform,
leaned over close to my lips and I saw her smile in such a lovely way,
shake her head and press a finger to her lips as she gently lifted me
and drew a smooth, cool pillow under my tired head. But she did not
speak. She placed a screen before the window and I fell asleep.
The next time I saw my mother angel she was laughing at me softly
while looking over the foot of the bed. I was able to respond by
raising my eyebrows and turning my creaking neck on its rusty hinge
toward the sunshine that brought the glory of life into the room
through a broad window.
Good morning, ma'am, I said, not venturing to be too familiar with
the lady, for I was at once struck with my inferiority to this saintly
Good morning, sir. Do you feel well to-day?
Yes, ma'am, said I; I have never been ill.
A low, pleasant laugh, like the soft trill of a muffled music box,
greeted my statement.
I believe you, she said. You will soon be out again.
Am I in? Where am I in?
This is Bellevue Hospital, said she. But you'll soon be gone from
here. You're as tough and strong as rawhide and wrought iron.
Here was a woman who could size me up. I took her word for it and
tried to turn over and get up, but nothing happened.
Tush, tush! Don't get lively now! Think what you've been through.
Take it easy. Dr. Hanley says you are a wonderful fellow; that he will
always be proud of you.
Is the pickle coming? I asked expectantly, as if I had heard it
knock on the door.
Yes, it's coming, she laughed. But it won't get here this week.
Here's something that is a good deal better.
She squeezed out a thimbleful of orange juice and placed it in a low
cup with a long snout like a locomotive oil can, designed to poke in
out-of-the-way places. With this device she was able to get through my
beard and find my mouth. As she gently tipped it, the goodly nectar
trickled upon my desert tongue, to be quickly evaporated in that arid
area before it reached far along the parched wastes. I wanted to swim
in it, but these hospitals provide poor entertainment for their
Pretty flowers there, said I, pointing to a great mass of roses
and orchids, showing the freshness of recent arrival.
Oh, she hasn't forgotten you; and her large blue eyes danced
playfully as she said it. I could see that those blue eyes would
aggravate me yet, but I wanted to linger forever under the spell of
Who sent them? I asked in surprise.
I was about to say that I didn't know the lady, but I decided that
the plot was too thick for a brain foddered on orange juice by the drop
through a dripper, so I just threw the complications all over, willing
to bide my time. Some accident had tossed me upon this bed of bruises,
but I was pulling out and I gritted my bridge-work, determined to get
out as quickly as possible and pick up my tasks again.
The following morning I felt like a new man. I could actually reach
out for my food. Eighteen hours of sound sleep had put abundant life,
hope and courage into me.
What a fine color you have! said the cheery nurse.
That braces me, said I. But what I want to get at is this: How
did I come to get here? How long have I been here? How long must I stay
And she laughed joyously, jacking me up several notches in spirits
and at the back with the pillows.
The doctor says I may tell you, she began. He left just before
you awoke. The three upper stories of your house were burned out early
that morning, six weeks ago, and the house next door was also damaged.
You must be strong while I tell you this, will you? You were thrown out
of the fifth-story window while you were unconscious. You fell on the
outspread net held by the firemen, but you were badly injured by
striking against the ironwork of the fire-escapes that were rendered
useless because the flames were so great; it was a quick fire. I got
the story from the ambulance doctors. You have been wavering between
life and death ever since, almost, although about the third week you
seemed to begin to mend slowly. Are you comfortable now?
Where is Hosley? Is he in jail? Hasn't he been here to see me? Was
he hurt? Was he killed? Hasn't he written to me?
My heavens! Why do you ask me is he in jail, and all those
questions? Who is Hosley, pray? Is he a jail-bird? And are you only a
jail-bird? Why do you begin to talk about jail so soon?
She was born to nurse the ill and tease well folks, and she saw I
was better and could stand it.
How about those flowers? I asked. How is it she brings flowers to
Oh, my! Oh, my! Well, I never heard a man complain of the devotion
of a beautiful woman. Dear me, you are a fortunate man; and she must
have lots of money, too. Orchids like those are three dollars. You can
get them for seventy-five cents each, but not that kind. Did you ever
price roses like that? Just look at them! Um, how sweethow I love
them! A two-dollar bill blooms on every one of them. Isn't that
devotion for you! And how does she come to send them to you? Well, now!
What a hard shell there must be on your heart! What a pity the fall
didn't crack it!
As she talked she busied herself about the room; it was a bare,
antiseptic spot, fragrant of carbolic and formaldehyde. I could see
that she was chaffing me; but I let her have her way in this, just as
she ruled the diet, the naps and the airings.
Why should I lie for six weeks in a hospital without Jim Hosley
coming to see me? thought I. Why hadn't he insisted on sleeping on the
mat just outside the door if they would not let him in? Why had he not
sent notes hourly to learn of my condition? Why had I been left to
strangers? There could be no excuse for this, even though he were in
jail, for he could at least write me. If he were dead, killed in the
fire, Miss Tescheron would have told the nurse, for had she not brought
me flowers? Had he been injured she would certainly have told the nurse
about us. He had not been near me. He must, therefore, have skipped. In
that case he must be all that Tescheron had pictured him to me. But why
had Tescheron placed such confidence in Smith, whom he had known for
such a short time? That was certainly not like a shrewd business man.
Of course, I understood how anxious Tescheron was to get damaging
evidence against Hosley; but what had Smith shown him? Why had he taken
no further interest in me? Hosley must have skipped and Tescheron must
have settled down, believing that no more would be heard of him. Miss
Tescheron was still devoted to Jim, because she was sending me flowers.
She still hoped to reach him through me and prove him innocent. But I
would discourage her. I would not let her throw herself away on that
fellow. If he were not a wretch he would have been there to see me; and
if he were helpless as I was, then Miss Tescheron would be devoted to
him and would have told the nurse about us, as she was enough
interested in me to send me these beautiful flowersme, whom she had
never spoken to. And so it wound around in my weak head.
It was hard to believe this of Jim Hosley, that great lumbering hulk
of humanity. How had he been able to assume that childish air and play
the part with me, a shrewd, calculating observer of men, whose advice
he always sought? Such villainy seemed to me to be beyond the art of
any actor, and it certainly seemed to be a superlative degree of crime
and deception impossible in real life. I remembered that he had shown
some uneasiness that night when I started for the Fifth Avenue Hotel,
and there was the card of the notorious undertaker, the ally of some of
our worst criminals. Still, this was not connected with him and could
not be regarded as damaging. When two bachelors are so wedded, is it
possible for one to deceive the other? Married men had before this
deceived clever wives. Could this companion to whom I would have
trusted my life have deserted me at the moment of danger when I lay
there overcome by smoke? Who tossed me from the window? Quickly I put
that question to the nurse.
There now, she said with a cautioning shake of her pretty head;
if you are going to keep thinking about that and get all upset, we
won't let you out of here for a yearit was a fireman, perhaps; but
what matters it?
The bravery of a plain fireman mattered not, I thought. They must
save lives as a business; chums, friends, they may slink away and leave
you to a horrible death.
Jim Hosley was all that Tescheron had painted him, and yet there
were doubts in my mind. But these doubts were soon removed.
For nearly five weeks after regaining complete consciousness I lived
and gathered strength in that bare and polished room at the hospital.
Dust found no place to stick there, it was all so slippery, and the
flies were discouraged when they came in and found it so miserably
antiseptic. The food was sterilized and peptonized until there was
nothing a fly could find in my pre-digested tid-bits to snuggle up
toit was just like licking the plaster off the wall or biting the
glazed, enameled paint on the bed. The enameled iron furniture seemed
to be made to order without cracks, and there were no tidies or fancy
work about. Any insect that came in, slipped around until he figured it
was a toboggan slide and a mighty poor place to spend the day.
Please send out for all the newspapers containing accounts of the
fire and let me read them, I requested one day soon after my wits
No, indeed; I shall not. Reading is the worst thing you could do,
said Hygeia. You are gaining and must take no risks.
So it went. There was no one to obey me. I brooded over my hard
luck. But life would have been wholly dismal in such a room without the
companionship of one of those inspiring daughters of Hygeia. Now that I
am beyond the confines of that room I must confess there seems to be
little in life anywhere without one. Bachelors are quickly restored by
their antitoxin cheer, but there is a more dangerous bacillus hidden in
this powerful living therapeutic agency which in afteryears works its
damaging, enervating effect in the heart of a man. They save but to
slay! Can there be no healing balm benign in a woman's tender sympathy?
Cannot the microbe of remorse be isolated from this serum beautifully
administered by melting eyes and graces so fair that we wonder to find
them so near our bitterest experiences? But there are wounds that will
not heal; some mysterious infection lingers in them to sustain a slow
fire, and the ashes of its discontent clog the channels till life seems
cast in the vale of death.
But no more of this anguish! I have not told her namein this at
least, I shall be wise. I have not told of her family; why she became a
daughter of Æsculapius; and beyond those dancing blue eyes, she shall
not enter here. Neither shall anything be written of the things that
passed between us during those five weeks of my convalescence. What
matters it? Was I not in the world simply to be tempered and hardened
by all the adversities to which a heart may be subjected? And was I not
an inhuman wretch, who touched with the sting of sarcasm, ridicule and
scorn the vital things that interest normal beings? To me she became
only Hygeiaa goddess!
What a man of thirty years needs is mirth more abundantly than at
twenty, but the clouds were too thick around me then to take sane
views. Contentment comes when a man can shake the clouds inside out and
bask in the reflection of the silver lining that makes the other half
of the comedy agreeable. I seemed to be plunged into despair, to be
confined in a dungeon, with the devils of hate and all the monsters of
abandoned hopes shooting their tongues at me from the crannies of the
damp, green walls that hedged me in. Were they to be my torturers to
the death? Then why send a sick man to the hospital?
Even though my mind had been at peace otherwise, it would have been
impossible for me to regain my habit of unconcern and reliance upon my
own resources, deserted by the man in whom I had anchored my faith
since boyhood. Thought of his guilt oppressed me.
Which would you rather go toa wedding or a hanging? I abruptly
questioned the nurse, waking from a troubled nap.
Calm yourself all you can. You are not so well to-day.
I am beginning to think better of a hanging, said I. It seems
like a sure thing, so it's well to get used to it.
Tut, tut! said Hygeia softly, adjusting a cold cloth to my brow.
She reported to the doctor that I was wandering again. But I wasn't
crazy. I was looking for consolation.
The detectives had reported Jim with the undertakers in the same
carriage that night, while I was at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and the
card of the notorious Collins, whose specialty, cremations, removed all
traces of such crime, lay on the table. I waited to inquire about the
card until the next morning. The morning came and here I was, alive,
but hardly thankful for my escape. Why was it, I asked myself, that the
only two circumstances, the carriage and the card, that pointed with
any directness to Jim Hosley's guilt, should have come under my notice
the same night? Why, if he had deceived me for years, should he leave a
damaging card where it could be seen by me at a time when he was deep
in one of his most awful crimes? But, on the other hand, had he not
fooled me for ten years? So why should he be careful about the mere
card of an undertaker? How did he know where I had gone that night to
be enlightened? Still, why did he squirm and appear so uneasy when I
went out? Was it only because he had so much to tell me about his
disappointment over the interview with Mr. Tescheron? Certainly, that
must be it. Then came the last but of allWhy didn't he come to see
me, or why had I not heard from him? If Jim Hosley had been devoted to
me like a loyal friend there was no possible way for me not to have
heard from him before this. Any man in his right mind could take the
same state of facts and reach no other conclusion. Suspicion had worked
its way through narrow openings, and my doubts were giving way to
convictions, so that soon I believed I would be as much against Hosley
as the fiery Tescheron, when goaded by the mercenary Smith.
I cannot tell how hard it was for me to believe this of Jim Hosley,
that great, lumbering fellow, handsome and manly, the personification
of comfortable, attractive indolence and agreeable indifference.
Pity you never saw Hosley, said I to Hygeia. She was now prepared
to hear me speak of him at any time.
What did he look like? Dark and swarthy; rather short, I imagine,
with curly, black hair.
Turn that upside down, inside out and stretch it and you'll have
it, said I.
She laughed and left the room.
What a charming fellow Jim was to get on with! Perhaps those virtues
had been his resources in a wild career of crime and his strongest
allies in effecting a concealment of his true self. Thus my analytical
mind threshed out the ramifications of possibilities. My intimate
relations with him for so many years further convinced me that if he
had followed that long career of crime outlined by Tescheron he must
have begun when he was playing Injuns up in Oswegatchie County.
Then I would cheer myself with the thought that something in Jim's
favor would turn up soon and all would be well again, and we would get
a new outfit of stuff for about eighty-five dollarsthat's what we
paid beforeand start in housekeeping again; perhaps on the second
floor, so as to get in line with the inexorable law of falling bodies.
Mr. Tescheron, I supposed, would somehow blame Jim for the fire and
count it part of the grand plot to seize his daughter. Well, it was all
too much for me, with my weak body and easily fatigued brain. It was
hard work to keep my nerves calm under the circumstances.
My brother Silas had come down to see me, but when I began to mend
he returned to Oswegatchie County, completely worn out with three
weeks' tramping on city sidewalks. He made a number of inquiries for me
concerning Hosley at the City Hall and among our old neighbors. He
could learn nothing, however, so it was clear that Jim had departed for
parts unknown. Silas carried back the news of my returning health to
the folks, and was also able to inform them that the cars ran all night
down here in New Yorka matter they had never seen reported in the
papers and I had never referred to in my letters. When he left, I was
as lonesome as a retired pork packer dabbling in the fine arts. It
Turn where'er I may I find
Thorns where roses bloomed before
O'er the green fields of my soul;
Where the springs of joy were found,
Now the clouds of sorrow roll,
Shading all the prospect round.
These lines of George P. Morris came to mind, and they, too,
recalled Jim Hosley and the early days when I began to be the middleman
in his love affairs, and gave my aid to his amorous cause by writing
his love letters. I had worked Shakespeare, Scott, Burns, Byron and
Morris (the only five we had handy) in relays to support his fervent
song of love, for behind the scene with my pen Jim said I was a wonder
in stringing this fetching gush together. But I tried to be modest
about it. There was enough in those five to marry the inhabitants of
Europe to those of Africa. I understood that anything Jim said to a
woman would be taken in good part, and those love letters in which the
green fields of his soul must have appeared well irrigated by those
bubbling springs of joy, undoubtedly pleased the fair dames and, I
supposed, did no harm. But a joke is the most dangerous thing a
middleman in the love business can engage in. The business is full of
danger anyhow, but joking is worse than dynamite.
If the mechanical part of our arrangements had been seen by the
young womenJim generally asleep and I copying the poetry from a
clumsy, big book and scratching my tousled head for sentiment enough to
glue the verses together in a prose somewhere near the same
temperatureI don't suppose there would have been many victories.
Perhaps there were none; Jim never spoke of results; he kept them to
himself and I don't know what he did with them. All the margin there
was in it for me was the literary exercise which in value hardly
covered the cost of the ink. Perhaps he had married each one of the
women and had killed them off, because he enjoyed the excitement of
courtship's gamble more than the sure thing of matrimony. If so, I was
undoubtedly an accomplice, although entirely innocent. A jury, however,
might not take that comfortable view of it, if a handwriting expert
were called and took seven weeks to tell them his story. They would
certainly hang me to get home.
So first my grief and loneliness recalled the lines of the poet
whose music I had used to Jim's advantage, and then followed the
matters attached to the same chain of thought. The moment was ripe for
one of those coincidences that occasionally arise to startle us. It
came sure enough, and gave me the worst shock of all, for when I
afterward considered its full meaning, I realized that I had for ten
years been the innocent tool of the criminal whom Tescheron had
discovered after an investigation of six hours. Had the truth been
revealed to the world, thought I, with evidence of Hosley's guilt, my
bust would be lined up on the same shelf with his in the Hall of
Must I to the lees
Drain thy bitter chalice, Pain?
Silent grief all grief excels;
Life and it together part
Like a restless worm it dwells
Deep within the human heart.
More of Morris came to mind. I was sitting alone in the sun parlor
at the hospital that morning, gathering strength in the abundant
sunshine that poured through the glass windows on all sides, reaching
from roof to floor. Wrapped in a single blanket, in my cushioned wheel
chair, I was as comfortable as a man with a half dozen or so newly knit
bones could feel if he sat perfectly still and did not exhaust his
energies by worrying over the slow ups and the rapid downs of life, as
one who had dropped five stories into the depths of solitude might, if
not careful to turn to the saving grace of his philosophy and political
economy. Learning is the only thing a man can count on in the
bottomless pit, and then it won't help him unless he has a little humor
for a light. Alas! my light had gone out.
Well, I was sitting there sunning myself and thinking how deep a
hole I had fallen into, when Hygeia appeared, as ever a vision of
loveliness, a picture of a merry heart gathering the sweets of life and
scattering the seeds of contentment by passing busily from one task to
another, full of the joy of sound health and thankful for the privilege
of service. How did she find time to pursue a course in medicine? Her
ambition amazed me.
A gentleman wishes to see you, sir, she said, and she handed his
card to me. It read:
30 West 24th Street,
Private Detective Service.
I felt that light was about to break on a dark subject, and I was
not mistaken. A. Obreeon was as much Dutch in appearance as French in
name; he had a rosy, round face and cheeks that were like a picture of
two red apples. He seemed husky enough to be a corner groceryman, who
benefits incidentally through the fresh air advantages bestowed on his
vegetables to keep them marketable. His beard was trimmed to look like
a farmer's, with a clean-shaven upper lipa form of barbering that
prevents bronchitis, but not soup. No one would suspect him of anything
except tight boots, for his mouth and forehead were wrinkled as if he
were suffering from acute cornitis; you might call it an injured air,
for a man who has just run a sliver in his toe shows the same symptoms.
Mr. Obreeon seemed interested to the point of being worried when I
asked him to have a seat, and at this and every suggestion he was taken
with violent shooting pains, and his lips were pursed for a drawn
whistle of discomfort. A smooth man was never so ill at ease. Any
promoter who will abandon his air of supreme confidence and adopt the
Obreeon principle of disinterestedness in all worldly affairs except
his agony, will pull millions from the pockets that now begrudgingly
yield ten thousand dollar allotments in return for smooth talk
concerning gigantic ventures, as viewed from the sub-cellar of
Obreeon apologized for coming; said he ought really to be home, he
felt so badly; had been so wretched, etc.; but he had waited so long,
if he was going to do anything with me, it must be done now. Then he
would draw a few whistles, pinch up his face and screw his mouth around
in a way that convinced me he had no axe to grind. No one but a
philanthropist would go out to see a man when in such pain.
There is a matter which I wanted to see you about before going to
my friend Smith, said Mr. Obreeon. Of course, I know he is working on
this casewe tip each other off sometimes, you know, and would like to
have this bit of evidence. He pointed to a small leather bag. I eyed
it, but failed to identify it as a Hosley exhibit. Some of my men
gathered this evidence at the fire, he continued. Of course, what I
have found out won't be of any use to them unless they have plenty of
Hosley's handwriting for expert examination
Hosley's handwriting! My swallowing was on walnuts. I could see that
they were close on Jim's trail, but I dared not reveal where I stood in
the matter or that Tescheron had not been near me. If there was any
handwriting it must be mine, moreover, for Jim never wrote; he sent
telegrams in great emergencies. I pulled myself together, offering to
get Mr. Obreeon a drink or a drug that would ease his intense pain, so
that he might be persuaded to remain and divulge all he knew. This man
was at work independently of Smith, and might help me. No, he would not
take anything, thank you, as it might cause him to collapse! Gracious,
but I was afraid he might collapse. He assured me he shared my fears,
and made me promise he would be taken at once in the ambulance to the
address on the card, should the worst happen. My assurances calmed him
and he proceeded, but with great effort:
Yes, I have here one hundred and sixty-two letters written by
At that moment the collapse was on me. I fell back in my recovery a
clean two weeks, because of the nerve force squandered in trying to
take that in.
I think they prove he was connected with the woman down-stairs, for
after the fire my men found them in one of her private boxes, tied up
with a lot of her letters. But I have here only those written by him.
Perhaps another man named Hosley wrote them, I ventured, after
recovering, if you found them so; Hosley is not such an unusual name.
Well, now, that's just what I want to get at, Mr. Hopkins. Maybe
you're right, and so, of course, I wouldn't want to bother Smith with
'em, you know, if they are only a false clue; he'd only laugh at me,
you see. As you, I understand, are friendly with Tescheron and against
this Hosley as much as he is, I thought I'd consult you first and find
out if these letters were really written by your Hosley or another. If
they are his, I think I have the evidence you all will want.
Letters written by Hosley, and found with that woman's things! Then
I had written them and they might prove to the world that I was his
accomplice in crime, for if he had won her heart with these letters and
had done away with her, as alleged, and Smith had the evidence to prove
it, then I was his pal. My protestations of innocence would not avail.
There were the letters and Smith had the specimens of my handwriting in
the many messages sent to Tescheron at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. But how
lucky for me that the sleuths of Obreeon and not those of Smith had
found them! How I clutched at that thought! Surely all luck had not
left me. How fortunate that Obreeon did not suspect me as an
accomplice, for with those letters he might have convicted us both!
How eagerly I reached for them as Obreeon took them from the bag
while undergoing a wave of pain that I felt sure took his attention
from me! They had been written for Jim several years before in one of
his most severe cases. That villain, Hosley, had certainly fooled me. I
could see that I had been his dupe all through. I, his chum from
boyhood, blinded at every turn by this clever knave! But at last I was
getting wise to the trickery of the world; from this time forth I would
be wary of every suggestion and live and die alone to insure the
preservation of my innocence. What a harvest of whirlwind these letters
would have brought me had they passed into the hands of Smith or the
authorities! Here's where the profits come in, thought I, when a fellow
sets up to do a jobbing business in love, as I read on and on through
the first pile, pretending to have some difficulty in recognizing
Hosley's handwriting. A few off the top of pile No. 1 ran as follows:
My Dear Miss Brown:
You have not forgotten the honor granted to me at Mrs. Pratt's.
I call to-morrow evening? I shall be eager to hear from you.
My Dear Miss Brown:
You and I in H, middle aisle at Daly's, to-morrow night. Jolliest
show in town under these rare circumstances. If I come early,
must pardon me, for I shall be so eager to meet you again.
The star, the breeze, the wave, the trees,
Their minstrelsy unite,
But all are drear, till thou appear
To decorate the night.
Great Morris! It must have made him squirm in his grave.
Dear Miss Brown:
Thank you for the kind invitation for to-morrow evening.
Dear Miss Brown:
What a delightful time we all had at Mrs. Pratt's last night! I
call to talk it over with you to-night.
Dear Miss Brown:
What a pretty name Margaret is! I had no idea all your friends
O lingering rose of May!
Dear as when first I met her;
Worn is my heart alway,
And when we parted last night, believe me,
As morn was faintly breaking,
For many a weary mile,
Oh, how my heart was aching!
How long are you to be gone? Write me daily when away, that the
period of your absence from town may be as brief as you can make
to lessen the anguish of the one who at the trysting place,
tears regrets thee.
I shall be with you early this evening,
Yours as always,
The time drags heavily, and were it not for the cheerful letter
arrives every morning, so full of your enthusiasm for the
beauties of the spring and your tender assurances
given in return to the pleadings that pour from my overflowing
it would seem that I could not bear the struggle against life's
disappointments. Time? What has time to do with love?
Love cannot be the aloe tree,
Whose bloom but once is seen;
Go search the grovethe tree of love
Is sure the evergreen;
For that's the same, in leaf or frame,
'Neath cold or sunny skies;
You take the ground its roots have bound
Or it, transplanted, dies!
My dear sweetheart, my love for you is the evergreen, and write
darling, not of the budding trees and the wild flowers so tender
the morning dew, for there is an aggravating indirection to such
devotion. Write me, my dearest, so that I may feel
Those tender eyes still rest upon me, love!
I feel their magic spell,
With that same look you won me, love.
Oh! these spring days and thoughts of you combine to swell my
bursting. When, Margaretta, do you return? for I would behold
Thy form of matchless symmetry,
In sweet perfection cast
* * * * *
I miss thee everywhere, beloved,
I miss thee everywhere;
Both night and day wear dull away,
And leave me in despair.
The banquet hall, the play, the ball,
And childhood's sportive glee,
Have lost their spell for me, beloved,
My soul is full of thee.
Your story of the springtime is very sweet. The descriptions are
true to life, and as I read on and on, I behold the exquisite
beauties of your character, for as you so lovingly and simply
the birds, the flowers, the brook and the mist enshrouding the
kine, you artlessly sound the great depths of your own soul.
How I envy the winged denizens of the country! even those black
beetles you so playfully refer to on page 18, line 56. I wish
might come in somewhere:
Has Margaret forgotten me,
And love I now in vain?
If that be so, my heart can know
No rest on earth again.
A sad and weary lot is mine,
To love and be forgot;
A sad and weary lot, beloved;
A sad and weary lot!
And, of course, it pleases me to know they are making much of
up there in the country. I can see the swains for miles around
polishing their manners and taking astonishing pains with their
Sunday's best, to make a good impression. They, too, are baring
hearts to your melting glances, completely enchanted under the
of your womanly graces. But believe me, my darling Margaret,
When other friends are round thee,
And other hearts are thine;
When other bays have crowned thee,
More fresh and green than mine
Then think how sad and lonely
This doting heart will be,
Which, while it throbs, throbs only,
Beloved one, for thee!
And oh, how I fear, not the spring songs of the birds so mellow
love's endearing persuasion, the whisperings of the soft winds,
the caprice of the beetles, but the gentle pastorals of those
rural bards. List not to their tender minstrelsy, my darling!
not to the country poet's song, but hie thee home to thy
Jamie. List not, for
How sweet the cadence of his lyre!
What melody of words!
They strike a pulse within the heart,
Like songs of forest birds,
Or tinkling of the shepherd's bell
Among the mountain herds.
Can't you hurry home, Margaret? The town has not lost all its
fascination for you, I hope. Are there no other joys in life but
top notes of the birdies and the murmurings of the awakening
Come, come to me, love!
Come, love! Arise!
And shame the bright stars
With the light of thine eyes;
Look out from thy lattice
Oh, lady-bird, hear!
Write me, my darling, the good news of your home-coming, that I
greet you at the Grand Central. Oh, promise me that you will
home, and name the minute the train is due, that I may be there
'Tis then the promised hour
When torches kindle in the skies
To light thee to thy bower.
Your only, devoted, well-nigh distracted, but fondly
Whew! Shade of Morris, forgive me for the base uses to which I
turned your love songs!
When I had finished going over the letters I proceeded to be
extremely wise and diplomatic.
These letters seem to bear Hosley's name, said I; they might help
usin fact, I am glad you took the pains to bring them to me. Are
there any more? He might not have noticed how anxious I was to have
Yes, you have the complete and most damaging documents in the
case, he answered. They only need your identification, or if there
should be any handwriting for comparison, you can understandyes, just
sowhy, it would be easy without your evidence. I see you appreciate
their enormous value.
This fellow was getting around to talk cash in a way that made me
squirm, and as he eased off again his pain kept him engaged and gave me
a chance to think. When I wrote those letters I thought they were
pretty nice, but I never put any cash value on them, and never supposed
there would be any market for them.
Mr. Obreeon, said I, about what would compensate you for your
trouble in gathering up those letters? I was calm.
One thousand dollars. And as he said it his pain left him and shot
I rocked and gripped the chair. I could see there was no use to get
mad and talk loud, for he had me where there was only one move I could
make without getting in check, and that was into my pocketbook.
Besides, if I talked too much he might find where I came in on the
Five hundred, cash down, I'll give you, said I, trying to look
disinterested, as if I dealt in autographs and letters of great men.
One thousand dollars, hair and all, said he, rubbing his palms in
a net-price manner.
Yes; there's a lock of Hosley's hair and some ringseverything is
included in my price.
What was it worth to keep out of the electric chair? That is the way
I figured it; it wasn't so much a question of letters and mere poetry
That's an awful price, said I, an awful price.
Well, let me take them around to Tescheron. My price to him will be
three thousand dollars, and I know from the prices Smith is getting
that he'll pay. Glad to see you improving. Anything in my line, Mr.
Hopkins, would be pleased to hear from you; old established house
Sit down! Sit down, Obreeon! I'll split the difference with you and
let you have my check. I touched a button and requested that my new
handbag containing my checkbook and fountain pen be brought. Thank
goodness, my bank account had not burned and my reputation might yet be
No, Mr. Hopkins, I am favoring you, really I am, in this matter,
you know, and I could notI could not cut that price.
What was the use? It almost cleaned me out, but I never hankered
after money if it meant publicity. You may say it was only a fad or
fancy of mine. I drew my check for $1,000 of hard-earned cash, slowly
gathered by years of saving out of a small salary, and gave it to him,
making sure I had the goods and extra fittings.
Mr. Obreeon started for home with warm feet and a remarkably steady
Well, I never thought any letters of mine would bring that sum in
the open market, and as for Jim's hair, I had known him to pay a
quarter to have a lot of it cut off and thrown away.
I did a little figuring with my pen after Obreeon left. Taking the
hairs and letters combined, they cost me an average price of $5.55. I
worked it out this way:
162of my letters.
18of Jim's hairs.
180total hairs and letters.
You then divide $1,000 by 180 to ascertain the average price of
Or, if you want to get at the price of each hair, counting the
letters as dead stock, you grasp at a glance that the hairs are just 10
per cent, of the outfit, so you divide 180 by 10, and that gives you
18; take this amount and you run it into $1,000, and you get the price
per hair as $55.55. When you arrive at this answer you may note that
you might have obtained it by multiplying the average price by ten. In
other words, the hair, if entirely loose from the poetry, costs ten
times as much. To get at the price of the poetry loose from the hair,
you simply divide $1,000 by 162, the number of letters, and that gives
you $6.17 as the price of each letter, wholly disregarding the hair. It
will be seen, therefore, that the commodity of highest value in an
ordinary love correspondence, such as this was, is the hair, so that it
is important for purchasers to consider if it is worth the price should
the poetry go out of style.
I have often thought I might have bought four or five Persian lamb
coats forwell, never mind. There is no cold-storage expense keeping
this fur of Jim's. Every deal shows its profit one way or the other,
and sooner or later you'll find it. There is a heavy expense attached
to making over Persian lamb coats, besides. What I have of Jim's coat I
wouldn't alter for the world, because whenever I have a craving for
poetry with hair, I turn to that and get all I want for some time to
come, just at a glance.
Now that I know Gabrielle Tescheron, I am for giving woman the
largest liberty in all matters; let her have suffrage if she will take
it. I am for giving woman everythingjust let her run loose, here,
there and everywhere, and then you'll see the world tidy up. It's time
the worldliness of the world was viewed with fresh eyes. Woman, so long
held in restraint, in many ways is a better observer than conventional
man. She is like a countryman newly arrived in the city. It takes a
countryman to see the real sights of New York; of course, he won't let
on or be surprised at anything, for he wants you to feel that the only
metropolis worth while is the place he calls down street, up home; he
is taking it all in, however, like an old-fashioned sap-kettle, and if
you have dumped maple juice fresh from the trees into one all day,
you'd think it held the five oceans and the Great Lakes. For years
afterward his views on New York illuminate locally every city scandal
reported in the New York papers; he probably saw it coming when he was
down, and can tell a lot of incidents there was no space for in the
At one of the Oswegatchie County dinners held in a swell New York
hotel I once saw one of these confident, you-can't-surprise-me
countrymen take a drink of water from a goblet with a scalloped edge;
it stood fourteen inches high and six across. The waiter had placed it
on the table near him full of celery, but when the last piece had been
taken and only a few green leaves floated like lily pads on its calm
surface, he knew the proper thing to do. He just blew off the stray
leaves, stretched his mouth around the prongs on the edge, got his paw
under it, turned it up and enjoyed his simple highball. All our strong
men come from the country. They drink and see things straight. They are
more particular as to contents than containers, for they are nearly all
prohibitionists or very high license advocates. When they are dry,
they drink equally well from a spring-hole, a spigot, a dipper or a
Rather generous with the water at these dinners, Reuben, I said,
addressing him across the table, as he covered his mouth with his
napkin preparatory to resuming his composure.
These fashionable glasses always cut my mouth, he replied,
wrinkling his brow to emphasize his dislike for the fads of the
But when an out-and-out city man goes to the country, he can't see
anything; it's all just like Central Park, in that there are no houses
to be seen, only it's not laid out so well nor raked so clean. I have
often seen these chaps when they came up to our place. The city man is
as blind as a cave fish, and all he wants to know is when do they eat
and are there any mosquitoes and poison ivy. The air suits him, only
it's a little too strong; and the dirt is satisfactoryall else is
away below par, and if it weren't for the air and the dirt, which the
country-bred city doctor has told him the kids need, he'd like to be
home, where he can be sociable in his sub-stratum of atmospheric
poison, amid the clatter that consumes his vital forces and keeps him
pleasantly anæmic and tolerably dead.
Did you ever go through the woods with a native New Yorker? There
has been an incessant stream of startling things running before his
eyes since his birth, with plenty of noise, dust and expense, so that
when he is thrown out into the fields or the woods he finds he can't be
one of Nature's Quakers and hold communion with the silent worshippers
through whom the Spirit speaks. His outdoor religion is in the
Salvation Army class, and he can't warm up enough to admire a potted
geranium unless he hears a bass drum or a hand organ to distract him on
the side. If the sweet air and comforting silence of the country were
to fall upon New York, the town would probably drop to even lower
levels from the shock. The country boy, who has been used to
concentrating on the wood-pile, runs the country; or, if it happens to
be a city boy who runs it, he is a fellow who had the wood-pile grafted
onto him in time to save his career. Gabrielle Tescheron, the woman in
a new field, saw the world aright; there was no mystery for her at any
time. Her intuitions guided her unerringly while we who reasoned became
Shrewdness in the country lad, however, is not commended very highly
by me. It may be that the country boy has been tutored by the most
unscrupulous politicians that ever got out a big vote on a moral
issueusually the one coined at the mint with unanimous consent and a
cry for more: In God We Trust. If the country boy has fallen, it may
be that he was blinded by this, so that when he came to the city and
took the prizes he used the same old methods. We find some of these
shrewd country lads with abundant health, close observers, selling
their birthrights here in the sort of deals that were regarded as
clever in up-country politics, and so became legitimate in their eyes.
There's more politics in the country than they can dilute in their
sermons, although they absorb about thirty times as many of these as
the city man. Some day all the country fathers will reform, even if
they have to change their politics and half of them die because of it.
They will think it more worth while to save their sons than to save the
What about the morality of the city man? It isn't a factor because
If the management of our affairs had been entrusted to Gabrielle
Tescheron there would have been no trouble. Had her father been a wise
man and allowed this only child to have her wayto have noted the
whole situation from her fresh view-point, he would have found peace
where he found an abundance of perplexing conditions and ample expense
closely adhering to every bramble bush into which the tactics of Smith
hurled him. Gabrielle could not save him and she did not try. Where the
cause of the trouble is idiocy of the Tescheron quality, it has to go
through a long course of pulverization, maceration and cure; if you
hurry the process, the goods will be sour and hurt the business, if the
lot gets out under the trade-mark. The best thing to do with it is to
send it to the coal heap, for if you try to get your money back at a
Front Street auction room, some hand-cart syndicate will nab it and cut
your price. They'll undersell the direct trade, and when you have
finished writing an explanation to the men on the road, you'd wish you
had eaten the whole carload yourself.
It was part of the wisdom of this remarkably prudent young woman to
thoroughly comprehendby some of those fresh intuitions,
probablythat her truly repentant father would plead for her
forgiveness and ask her blessing upon his prodigal return only after a
long, long wrestle with the wholesalers in blasted reputations, who so
showily presented designs for a disgraced suitor that pleased him
greatly. He had placed an order with these architects of infamous
character to build one according to the plans and specifications
presented, and as the construction work progressed there were extras,
extras, extras! Gabrielle knew of these and never murmured. To her
father's urgings, she guardedly replied:
My dear father, I know my heart and I know yours. Some day you,
too, will reach the truth and we shall again be happy.
There was no mystery in this situation for Gabrielle Tescheron, as I
have stated. She would not tolerate it. At the time her father and
myself were confused, she was sure of herself. He thought of his
family, and I of my reputation, whose spots had never been advertised.
Gabrielle thought only of Jim.
Gabrielle could not be swayed from her devotion to the man whose
simple ways and sturdy honor made their silent appeal to her. He was
nobody's ideal man but hers, perhaps, and people who knew them wondered
what she saw in him to match her ambitions. Well, there was her wisdom
coming to the surface again in a way to confuse those who would have
managed her affairs differently. Gabrielle had a firm faith in herself.
Jim was the complementary type of man; he approached her with
qualifications that met all the practical conditions the careful father
had a right to demand, prompted by his love for his childat least,
this was true according to her conceptionand beyond that the father
could not enter to live her life for her. She was at once convinced of
her father's folly and paid no further heed to his objections. She gave
full liberty to others, and firmly but not excitedly demanded it for
herself. This was a manifestation of love's controlling power in the
stress of storm that I, as a theorist, knew not, but having gained the
wisdom through the course it prescribes in the schoolI might say the
Correspondence School of Hard Knocks, I think I am now qualified to
have my name in the catalogue, if not as a member of the faculty, then
as janitorfor no man was ever more ready than I to eat humble pie.
Gabrielle Tescheron was a graduate of Vassar. When only twenty she
had her degree and an ambition to progress farther in knowledge by
direct contact with the world of business. The opportunity came on her
Commencement Day, when John MacDonald, an old friend of her father,
playfully suggested that she come into his law office and be a Portia.
Your black gown, he said, makes me think you are a Justice of the
Court of Appeals.
He smiled, and she became very happy with this thought to carry
home. Even then I believe she had the good sense not to feel badly
because he had not praised her essay on Constitutional Provisions
Bearing Upon Our Federal Control of Inter-State Commerce.
Ten years from now, I'll tell you what I think about it, was all
he had to say.
John MacDonald was getting well along in years, but was at the
height of his active professional career when Gabrielle induced him to
seriously confirm his suggestion made a few months before. This
persistence of hers in the matter pleased him. He liked her
self-confidence and that quiet manner which told him she would win by
taking the sure road of steady, earnest endeavor to grasp the whole by
taking each part, day by day. She began, he saw, with scientific
methods and abundant enthusiasm. The plan was for her to master
stenography and typewriting, become John MacDonald's confidante in the
office, and at the same time take a law course at one of the down-town
schools. The mechanical aids afforded by stenographic note-taking and
the typewriter's rapidity gave her the short cuts to mastering the
details and routine of the businessthe shop-work of a law office. Mr.
MacDonald, a kind, mild-mannered man, but an exact and careful lawyer,
who demanded the utmost thoroughness from his subordinates, had known
this girl from childhood and took a fatherly interest in her. She, in
turn, admired him for his justice, and she felt that the progress she
was able to make in her work by keeping busy and taking pains, might
not have been so marked under his tutorship were he not a man whose
sympathy never ran to coddling and spoiling. He was in sympathy with
her, that she knew; but he never went out of his way to tell her how
well she was doing. He incorporated much of her original work in his
own, and let her infer his opinion of her from this. This man was, I
believe, the source of the girl's wisdom in the events which drove her
father and me into the most unusual forms of insane conclusion. We
assumed that we understood human nature. This girl assumed nothing. She
walked with sure feet after she had gone over the case with some of the
old-fashioned common sense that hovered around John MacDonald's law
office. How fine it was for her to attach herself to some of the real
problems of the world rather than bury her talents in the shallow
social activities she might have entered into and come to regard as her
limited sphere, when in reality she had the widest liberty for the mere
seeking and deserving!
I was not present at the reception held at the home of mutual
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gibson, some three years prior to these events
narrated here, when Gabrielle Tescheron and James Hosley first met. I
was out of town that New Year's eve, and so missed the jolly party at
the Gibsons', although I had been present usually on these anniversary
occasions in bygone years, for the Gibsons were kind friends of ours
and pitied our lonely lot. They lived in the cutest little home in all
the great cityin the most romantic spot you could find when the
waning hours of the old year were danced away by merry feet and jolly
hearts sang the New Year in. Mr. Gibson was a mechanical engineer (not
from Stevens', but from Cooper Union), and he was the superintendent in
charge of the big Produce Exchange building, whose tall, red tower is
one of the landmarks of New York. Their home was a conveniently
arranged and tastefully furnished apartment high up in the tower just
beneath the clock, where, perhaps, you have seen those round windows
that look out upon the world of surrounding harbor and soaring
skyscrapers, like tiny portholes. Those windows of the Gibson home are
larger than you imagine when viewing them from the street. What a spot
to meet a charming girl! Why, I used to lose my heart there every New
Year's night as regularly as the big clock marked the minutes, but it
always came back to me with a bounce six weeks later; the dense
atmosphere of romance hovering there made competition extremely keen.
Who would not fall in love in that clock tower!far up among the
stars, separated from the dull routine below by encircling fairy lights
of harbor, misty outlines of buildings and busily moving craftall
seemingly in mid-air, flashing the scenery of a joyland, while mellow
chimes of the neighboring Trinity pealed their glad welcome to the New
Year. At that magic moment, when you pressed far out of the window to
hear the bellsshe and yoususpended above that vast expanse of
earth, sea and air shrinking away, as if you two together were flying
aloft with arms entwined, you passed very close to heaven. The shouts
from the street were heard but faintly, and awoke sighing echoes in
your heart, like the minor chord accenting the ecstatic movement which
seemed to hold the world in rhythm. How lustily you caroled the chorus
to hide your tender feelings! Some of those round windows have such
dear memories clinging to themaye! clinging is the wordthat I dare
not look up at them any more from Broadway.
My story tells of Trinity bells,
When chimes ring clear
And harbor lights are flashing,
Beneath the starry bower,
Where a dying year brings not a tear
To young hearts in the tower.
How sweetly swellshow merrily bells!
The song of youth,
To lift the soul enraptured
A glance may tell the story,
Prompted by Cupid, now shyly hid
Anon he'll claim the glory.
Remember that Gabrielle Tescheron was enjoying herself like all the
other girls that nightthat New Year's eve, a little more than three
years before the opening of our tale, and Jim Hosley was deep in all
the fun. On the floor above the Gibson apartment, the young folks
danced around the works of the clock to the music of a violin and harp,
and from early evening till lateor early, as you pleasethey had the
best kind of a timethe mothers, fathers, sons and daughtersfor it
was a family party. All the Gibson relatives and their friends were
there, for it would not seem like New Year's to them to celebrate the
coming of the year away from that romantic nest. Don't ask me to
analyze the hearts of Gabrielle and Jim to the whys and wherefores, for
the potencies of love are beyond the analysis even of the purists,
although they give us many words of explanation which get around at
last to the old formula: They fell in love. And it was as if they had
dropped from one of the round windows as they leaned far out together
to catch the sound of the chimes, so sudden and so deep was the fall.
Education and training in modern business methods had left Gabrielle
just a simple girl, aside from all her accomplishments. Her laugh was
the loudest and her zeal for a good time the strongest. She entered
into the revels with zest, prompted Nellie Gibson to exhibitions of
mimicry, recited, cleverly told anecdotes evolved from her own
experiences, played, sang, danced and cheered for the host and hostess.
It was well there were no neighbors to complain.
Jim, I have been told, was completely fascinated early in the
evening, and his devotions became marked by nine o'clock; by ten
o'clock he was lost to all the rest of the company in beholding her.
Early the following year he was happy only when dancing with her,
singing so that his top notes blended with hers at short range, or
helping her to hear the chimes at one of the round windows. At 3
o'clock he started for Ninety-sixth Street with Gabrielleher mother
and father were not presentand there is no record of the time he
reached our flat.
That was the beginning of a courtship which was carried on without
the assistance of the middleman of former years, until the unexpected
interference of the father-in-law threw the case into my expert hands.
Mr. Tescheron became badly involved by swallowing the bait, hook and
line, in my joke about notifying the coroner. When I went to bed at
last, wearied with deep thinking and the sending of messages, he began
again on a new line which I had not figured on. I supposed he would see
the folly of proceeding farther, conclude that I knew more about Jim
Hosley than his man, Smith, return home and wait to see me again before
going ahead. But he didn't seem to realize that I was only joking. I
was so plain-spoken about itput the thing so broadlythat I supposed
any sane man would understand I was merely stating my loyalty to Jim in
terms of sarcasm. All jokes to fathers-in-law of the Tescheron
inflammable character should, however, be labeled in big letters, the
same as the dynamite they ship on a railroad, accompanied by the
Traffic Association's book entitled, Rules for the Handling of
To Mr. Tescheron it was a most serious matter to consider his family
entangled in a betrothal following immediately the commission of an
awful crime by the man who had won his daughter's hand. I had informed
him in my little joke that none could escape the coroner's subpoena
unless they left the State. He had traveled very little in this
country, and knew few places out of the State where he could be
comfortable with his family till the affair blew over. The Tescherons
spent their summers at the quiet village of Stukeville, where they had
a comfortable country house; it was not pretentious, but it was
beautifully situated on a knoll, overlooking the neighboring lake, and
from the broad verandas a glimpse of the distant, more densely
inhabited portion of the town might be obtained. But it was not
possible to fly to Stukeville, because that is situated in New York. He
had once stopped at a hotel in Hoboken overnight, before taking one of
the German steamers for France. He knew the place, and he would have
his family there before eight o'clock that morning. He informed Smith
that he would stop with his family in the Stuffer House, Hoboken, N.
J., just beyond the jurisdiction of the subpoena servers of the New
York coroners, and he accordingly hastened home to move in the early
morning, his wife, daughter, one servant and enough of their belongings
to supply the apartments of the Stuffer House with a few of the cosy
comforts of a soft-cushioned and warm-slippered home.
Now, I meant no harm to anybody, and certainly not to the innocent
women of the Tescheron family, when I airily lied about the coroner. At
the other end of the line the joke exploded, and not long after I had
touched the fuse with my last telegram. Think of driving the Tescheron
family out of the State! Why, nothing could have been farther away from
my mind, but what happened only goes to show that theoretical knowledge
of love begets idiocy, while the XXX variety of A1 purity cannot be
fooled, but travels with sure steps the path of service guided by
wisdom that springs from a devoted heart.
Marie, Marie! Wake up and dress! Gabrielle, the worst has happened!
Quick, we must be in Hoboken in half an hour! Do as I say. Ask no
questions. Arrest awaits you if you delay. What! Aren't you going to
stir? Why do you lie there, Marie? Be quick!
Briefly and excitedly Mr. Tescheron outlined to his startled family
what had taken place. He told them of the awful crime and Hosley's
connection with it, fully convinced that it had all happened just as
Smith had reported and satisfied that the Jim Hosley of our household
was the guilty villain. He heaped on a violent denunciation of Hosley,
using many of Smith's phrases, and he illustrated his comments with a
few additional incidents in that infamous career taken from the forgery
cases and the borderland episodes. As a Californian would say, he
burned him up.
Thus at 4 A. M., just as I was turning in to take my last nap in our
dear, dilapidated paradise, and Jim was fidgeting himself into the
mental attitude which would call for a turkey bath, Mr. Tescheron was
sustaining the movement of the play by wildly arousing his family to
Albert, you are all unstrung again, my dear, remonstrated Mrs.
Tescheron, who was in no position at that time to be described. Take
some of those tablets to quiet your nerves
Mr. Tescheron had no time for the taking of sedatives. He rushed
away to call Katie, the maid, and to telephone for a coach. When he
returned, his exasperation knew no bounds, for his good wife had not
stirred from her warm couch. This was too much. From that point Hosley
received the worst denunciations; his ferocity made the wife murderers
of criminal history and the cruel Roman emperors seem like mud-pie and
croquet efforts in this line of infamy. The entreaty was then renewed.
Come, come, Marie, do not be foolish, my dear. Get up and get
ready. I have awakened Katie and she is here to help you pack a small
steamer trunk and a dress-suit case. Gabrielle! Gabrielle!
Yes, father, let us start, replied Gabrielle, and she entered her
mother's room, rosy and wide-awake, with her gown faultlessly arranged
and her hat on straight. Her fire-alarm father found her right there to
give him all the rope he needed to hang himself. Gabrielle's gloves
were on and buttoned. Her neatly rolled umbrella was under her left arm
and in her right hand she carried a new leather bag. There were no
signs of wonder in her face; perhaps a touch of sadness might have been
noted as she glanced at her poor mother in pity; but she was far above
the influences which agitated her father and drove him into precipitate
action. Gabrielle, with the assistance of the maid, soon persuaded Mrs.
Tescheron and prepared her for departure into that foreign land vaguely
situated on the map of the earth, as she remembered it. With heavy
sighs and gasps she told where things could be found and how Bridget,
the cook, was to feed the parrot. She would take the parrot, but she
did not know if the air of Hoboken agreed with birds. While undergoing
the process of hasty preparation, she remembered a number of things
that would need attention that morning, so it was necessary also to
bring Bridget in with a quilt around herthere being no time then for
her to dressto take orders.
When the drowsy Bridget was hustled in to receive instructions, she
was not a tidy-looking cook, and until Mr. Tescheron withdrew, she kept
the quilt entirely over her head, for her womanly spirit had not yet
been stiffened to defiantly glare at man by those delicate touchesthe
pasting on of her front hair-piece; the tying on of her back switch to
the diminutive stump of original tresses; the proper adjustment of her
dental fixtures, her collar and tie and the various articles
constituting the sub-structure necessary for their support. We cannot
go into the details, because the plans and specifications are missing.
Bridget held that quilt with her hands and mouth to keep behind the
scenes as much as possible.
Bridget, we are called away this morning, said Mrs. Tescheron.
Where to in Hoboken, my dear Gabrielle? We must leave the address.
Gabrielle called down the hall to her father, who shouted back so
that Bridget might have heard if buried under the product of a quilt
Stuffer House! Stuffer House!
It's a pretty name, ma'am, said Bridget. I'll bet their pancakes
taste like this quilt. You'll not be gone long, ma'am? Is it near
No, no, Bridget, it's nowhere near Stukeville. I wish it were. It's
in Hoboken, New Jersey, Bridget. Gabrielle, please write it down for
her. Tidy up this room, Bridget, and if anybody calls, say we are away
visiting for a few days
In Hoebroken, ma'am?
Out of town will answer, and write me how things are going. Do not
use soap again when you wash the shell in the aquarium. If the parrot
becomes lonesomeyou can always tell because he goes back to
swearinglet him hear the phonograph for half an hour night and
morning, if you are too busy to ring the dinner bell to amuse him. Be
careful about the gasso many girls are dying that way nowbut
whatever you do, do not neglect the parrot; he is such a comfort to me
and is such a good parrot. He has reformed so much since
Aren't you ready yet, my dear? The coach is here! shouted Mr.
Tescheron, who was anxiously pacing the hall, watch in hand. It was
4:30; a whole half hour had passed and Hoboken had not yet been
sighted, whereas visions of the coroner's agents and scarehead
publicity were everywhere.
Yes! Yes! Be patient, Albert; we are nearly ready. And, Bridget, I
wish you would make up a pound cake and a fruit cake, and send them to
me by express, for we shall miss your cooking so much. Mrs. Tescheron
was a good manager of Bridget, who had served her over ten years, and
she knew the value of a little appreciation. The last time they moved,
Bridget had been hurried into the yard to bring the clothes-poles, but
she was so long about it that Mrs. Tescheron went to look for her.
Bridget in those emerald days knew little of clothes-poles, the sticks
they used to keep the sagging line up, but was bent on moving the
clothes-posts, an entirely different variety in the forestry of a city
back yard. The four posts were firmly planted in three feet of
hard-packed dirt. She bent her stout back to the task of bringing them
up root and all, and with a winding hold of bulging arms and feet
braced to the flagging she yanked, tugged and strained, turned boiling
red and spluttered brogue anathema. Mrs. Tescheron found her thus
The bloomin' t'ings is sthuck in the dirrt, ma'am, but I'll take
the axe to 'em.
Mrs. Tescheron had frequently told this story with pride in close
relation to some modern instance of Bridget's cleverness in domestic
service to set off the then and now, with the reflections of credit for
the mistress the historical anecdote involved. No harm could come to
the home in Bridget's hands, Mrs. Tescheron believed; but no woman
could leave without giving orders. When Bridget moved away, sure she
had everything in mind just as it was to receive attention, Mrs.
Tescheron gazed about the room blankly as if she knew something must
have been overlooked, till her eyes rested on her calm, patient
daughter, the harbor in every domestic storm.
Gabrielle, my dear, asked Mrs. Tescheron softly, are you sure
this Mr. Hosley is the strong, brave man you think he is? Remember,
darling, I have said little to you about himbut really he seems to
have greatly upset your father, and having done that, of course, our
home is involved. All I ask of you, my dear, is, are you sure? That is
all. I know how easily your father is led away to follow the bent of
his own desires and I know you, too, my dearyou are my own sober,
thoughtful father again. Tell me, Gabrielle, are you sure?
I am perfectly sure, mother. Father places more faith in hearsay
and in the statements of the knaves who are leading him on, than he
does in anything we can say. I am glad to have your confidence, mother.
My plan is to allow father to do as he wills, so that he may run the
full length of his folly. To me, it is most foolish and absurd; but why
argue with father if we would convince him? You know all we can do is
to let him act as he pleases. He shall not make you uncomfortable,
mother. I will let him storm and rage, but he must not send you to some
horrible hotel to live away from your friends. I will
But you will stay there with me, Gabrielle, will you not?
I shall see that you are comfortably settled there and then I shall
be with you as much as possiblebut I cannot involve the office in
these wild capers. Come, or we shall be scolded. Wouldn't it be fine,
mother, if we could tame father? But cheer up, mother; we may laugh
last about this. Let us see the bright side which isCome! You hear
Mother and daughter descended the one flight of stairs arm in arm,
preceded by the impatient guide, who was calculating on every
circumstance that might arise between Ninety-sixth Street and the
Hoboken ferry. Katie trailed behind with bags and shawl-strap bundles.
A small steamer trunk that Katie had filled with things easy to find
had been placed on the front of the coach by the driver, who evidently
regarded the job as the early departure of a European party.
When the three women were stowed in the coach after less than an
hour's preparation, with their sleep rudely disturbed and without even
a cup of coffee to vanquish the chill of the early morn, it may be
assumed that they were not more cheerful than the dismal gray of the
town. The man of the inside party had been awake all night; he was
feverish and fretful, but he had nothing to say in the presence of the
servant. Katie probably believed there had been a death in the family,
and they were hastily driving to the home of some relative. Most of the
conversation was between Mrs. Tescheron and Katie, and was carried on
in whispers. Mrs. Tescheron drew forth the information that about a
dozen things she would not need were in the trunk, and several score of
necessities had been left at home.
I remember the Stuffer House, said Mrs. Tescheron, making bold to
address her daughter. Don't you remember four years ago we stopped
there overnight? It's named, I suppose, for the proprietor, who told me
he was of the same family as the Stevenses of Hoboken. Yes, I remember,
he said Stevens, Steffens, Stuffens and Stuffers all came from the same
I remember the stuffed birds everywhere, said Gabrielle; many of
them exceedingly rare specimens, I believe some one said. Somehow, I
have always connected stuffed birds with the Stuffer House. It did not
occur to me that Stuffer was the name of the proprietor. How odd!
But conversation did not flow freely, for the tension of the
occasion had been too tightly wound by the impulsive guardian of the
family's honor. It was well that Katie was present to check his temper,
through pride, or the poor women might have been scolded again for
their dangerous delay, as coroners go forth early with their guns
loaded for game hiding in coaches.
It was even more dismal, cold and damp in the ferryboat. Mrs.
Tescheron fell quietly into tears there. This overflow of her emotions
was not noticed by Mr. Tescheron, who looked steadily out of the window
at the moving engines. Gabrielle saw her mother crying, and was at once
overcome with pity; to Katie it seemed as if she was on the point of
sharing her mother's grief for the loved one now mourned. Katie could
see that Mrs. Tescheron had thought a good deal of the person, whoever
it might be, and that Miss Tescheron had shared in this regard. Mr.
Tescheron, on the other hand, seemed to be provoked that it had
happened until the boat struck the Hoboken pier, and then he looked out
of the coach window with a smile, indicating a change of opinion. The
smile was that of the conquering hero, outgeneraling in retreat allied
forces outnumbering his small army a thousand times. A great head,
thought Mr. Tescheron, may beat the law, especially if it keeps awake
all night to be on the field early in the morning.
The Stuffer House, founded by the great-grandfather of the present
proprietor, August Stuffer, was situated not far from the ferry and
steamship piers. Its Colonial front and three stories of red brick, and
windows with small panes, gave it the air of a Washington's
headquarters, which Mr. Stuffer could undoubtedly prove it had been,
for his tales were the most convincing arguments that the hostelry had
been named by a whimsical fate not too dignified to stoop to punning.
There were times when the hungry boarders thought the name facetious,
but they conceded it to be quite exact in a descriptive sense, if its
brick and mortar were intended to honor monumentally the tales of the
host. His first name, August, was not an adjective of limitation as to
time, for the proprietor was A. Stuffer every month and day in the
year; and his son Emil, a quiet, inoffensive student of birds, a
taxidermist, ornithologist and mechanical engineer, and a graduate of
the neighboring Stevens Institute, world-famed for the breadth and
thoroughness of its training, was a worthy son in practically applying
to birds abundant science and all the art employed by his father to
hold and encourage trade among the guests.
It was about 6 o'clock when the Tescheron coach drew up at the old
port-cochère, and no one but the night clerk was about. He swung the
great door open and welcomed them to the hotel office, a large
living-room, with a wide brick and rubble fireplace in one corner,
dimly lighted by a log fitfully blazing, fed by scant draughts, so
deeply was it choked by the pile of ashes from the logs that had served
to brighten the busy room the night before. It is important to note
this fireplace, for long afterward, when I went forth to gather
impressions at first hand, and there heard Mr. Stuffer and his guests
warm to the discussion of every topic under the sun, I decided that the
glow of inspiration and the stimulating incense of resinous knots,
arising from that corner, cast the witchery which wrought conviction in
the minds of men less wary than Mr. Tescheron, who might, indeed, have
renounced all his worldly possessions had he remained more than six
weeks under its spell to escape the horrors of an entanglement in the
meshes of foul crime across the river. I see now how it must have
affected himthis fireplace talk. Steam heat is the only thing to
preserve a man's common sense, and if he be shy of that desirable
faculty he should be extremely careful when listening or talking, even
under the weak spell of a gilt radiator. It is a fact of science that
certain rays of light exert a hypnotic influence that may be employed
to effect anesthesia for minor operations. Perhaps it was the influence
of these rays; I know not. Nervous persons are especially subject to
their vibrations, and when sitting before an open wood fire, highly
productive of this subtle chemicalization, the victims become drowsy
and fall easily into the mood of the most extravagant speaker. Minor
operations, under which head we may include the extraction of a tooth
or a bank balance, are then simple, if the operator be calm and
skillful in the handling of his instrumentsoften mere words, but
powerful tools under these favorable conditions.
The hotel clerk was assured that the Tescherons did not intend to
take a steamer or a train; that they might remain a day or two, perhaps
longer, and would need four rooms and a bath on the sunny side of the
house, on the second floor, away from the elevator and the noise of the
kitchen. They would take breakfast as soon as it could be served.
No breakfast for me, thank you, papa. I am going right over to the
office now. Good-bye, mother dear; Katie, look after her well. I shall
return early. Good-bye and Gabrielle turned to kiss her father,
having embraced her tearful mother. But he could not recover himself to
display his affection at that time.
Gabrielle, you surely are not going! You surely are not! Think of
the consequences and accept my judgment in this awful extremity!
Father, you may have your own way in everything, but my business
affairs must not be involved. The coach is going. I'll ride back in
Quickly she kissed him and darted out of the door and into the
carriage and away.
What is this unerring clairvoyance that prompts devoted hearts in
moments of danger, in crises demanding supernatural judgment? It is the
very essence of much of our song and story, but the wise men do not
grasp its origin; to them it is as elusive and incapable of isolation
from its forms of manifestation as that phase of force we call
electricity. An old gentleman whom I knew well, a learned man, far
above all superstitions, arose from the sofa in his home one afternoon
and announced to the startled family that his son was in the water. He
noted the time and anxiously awaited news, so firm was his belief that
truth must have inspired his vivid dream. That night he learned that
the very moment he had announced his fears his son had fallen into the
river and was so held under by logs that he narrowly escaped drowning.
This was probably the same miraculous power love employs in youth to
laugh at locksmiths; it is the inherent wisdom of the passion deeper
than our philosophy can delve; it warns at times, and then again it
will save without warning, strangely leading us to the post of duty.
It was too early to go to the officethen about 6:45when
Gabrielle Tescheron's coach landed on the New York side of the North
River. While coming across the ferry she believed it would be wise to
take the opportunity to visit Jim at his apartment in Eighteenth
Street, and inform him of the action I had taken in notifying the
coroner, and therefore to beware of me, for it was plain that her
father had convinced me, although he was unable to restrain and sway me
to accept his plan of privacy. Gabrielle had classed me as a dull
fellow, not able to see beneath the shallow case of Smith. Little did
she imagine that I had laughed at her father and ridiculed his course
at my interview with him. She jumped to the conclusion that I had
notified the coroner, to make sure of a conviction at any cost, so
thoroughly had I been convinced of Jim's guilt by the evidence her
father had laid before me, and so high was my sense of honor and duty
to the community. This action on my part she assumed would result in
the publicity her father dreaded, but eventually would lead to Jim's
vindication; she deplored my lack of faith in my companion; she
marveled that I, too, should have fallen so easily a prey to the
sharpers who were deceiving her hot-headed, obstinate father, whose
senses were alert for every word or sign that would smirch, by even so
much as a shadow, the man he would overthrow. If it had been possible
for Gabrielle Tescheron to understand that I had read her impulsive
father's character aright, and that my loyalty to Jim Hosley at the
time was as firm as her own, our difficulties would have been greatly
simplified. My joke turned its other edge on me and cut me off from her
confidence, but not from her good-will, as expressed in the beautiful
flowers, in the hope that I might turn from pursuing Jim and become a
staunch advocate of his cause, when I realized, as she did and as I
surely must, how strong and true he was and how far above the rogues
who would smirch him for gain. But it was plain to her that I had been
turned against Jim by her father, and had gone far beyond the point her
father intended to reach in his attack on Hosley. Jim must be quickly
warned not to place any more confidence in me, for I had taken hasty
action that would soon involve them all in a criminal investigation,
full of unpleasant notoriety even for the innocent. Jim should also be
well advised by an able criminal lawyer to protect him against these
rogues and intemperate reasoners.
But these thoughts which came to Gabrielle and seemed to her to be
the impelling force that directed her to Eighteenth Street that
morning, to my mind now, read in the light of the whole story, were
really only the miraculous methods of that clairvoyance, operating
under the veil of mystery beyond reason. My shallow joke, I insist,
could not have been the cause. With an unshaken faith in Jim and no
danger threatening him, I am confident she would have remained at the
hotel, taken breakfast with her father and mother, and then, perhaps,
have leisurely departed for her office, to tell laughingly of the early
morning flight to Jim at some trysting place in the commercial section
of the town later in the day. Faith, without real danger, would have
meant a contented mind, whether or not, it seems to me, I had notified
one coroner or a thousand, for it would have been only part of the
general plan to give the widest scope to Jim's detractors, and to take
no part in counter-plotting any more than she would ally herself with
her father's villainous advisers. The utter absurdity of my joke, I
firmly believe, would have appeared plainly to her had the real danger
of the fire not been apprehended by her intuitions, far keener than she
suspected, and so interpreted to her will as to lead her without fear
to the very spot she was most needed in all the world.
As the coach turned into Eighteenth Street, Gabrielle was prepared
to meet the emergency, for all at once it came upon her that duty had
brought her to the spot. She saw the excitement surrounding the fire
and knew why she was there. The coachman, following her order, drew up
to the curb, so that she might alight. She dismissed him and then
pushed through the crowd, now scattering, to the fire lines, and as she
proceeded she saw the building on our corner had been partly destroyed;
apparently the flames had done the most damage in the upper stories.
Her first question was put to a policeman on guard near the edge of the
Officer, please tell me if there were any persons injured at the
Yes, ma'am, two men; they were taken to Bellevue, ma'am.
With a simple word of thanks she turned away. If the officers were
then in pursuit of her Jim, she would find him first and shield him
with her wit as many a woman had done before under like conditions. The
ambulances had gone half an hour before, but she would follow directly
to the hospital and first seek out there the man whose terrible fate
was foretold by her fears. Why had she not kept the coach to take her
to Bellevue? It had been dismissed when she wished to avoid even the
possible testimony of a coachman. Quickly she summoned a cab and a few
minutes later she was in the hospital ready to shield Jim Hosley from
all harm if he were there.
Gabrielle found him unconscious and quickly identified him as her
brother, George Marshall.
I should like to have him placed in a private room, she said to
the hospital superintendent. Please have it next to that of his
friend, Mr. Benjamin Hopkins. I want them to have the best care from
your physicians and nurses that may be obtained. There is no sacrifice
that I would not make to save the lives of these brave men who have
suffered so terribly.
Several weeks afterward I learned that my name and that of George
Marshall had appeared in the papers for a few days until the hospital
doctors announced that we would probably recover. The public accepted
that as a finality quite as agreeably as if we had died of our
injuries, and so we sank below the horizon again. Our thrilling rescue
by the fire department net, with a vague mention of our injuries
received while falling against the useless fire escapes, was part of
the news of the day; also the fact that I had been thrown from the
window and that a search had been made of the ruins, but no trace of
Hosley could be found. In a few days, he, too, appeared to be
forgotten. My brother had not seen any of his folks up home and none of
them had driven over to our place, a distance of ten miles. We boys had
been away so long, the two families had rather lost track of each
other, I supposed, although it did seem strange to me. I made little
mention of Jim in my letters to the old home folks. The bad news, I
knew, would leak out in time and my chuckle-headedness would be as much
a part of the village gossip as the story of his crime.
A few days after I had regained consciousness I began to discuss
with Hygeia the other man who was injured at the fire.
What sort of a looking man is that fellow, George Marshall, who was
hurt? I asked, thinking he might be Hosley under another name and she
not know it.
He seemed rather slight in build, she answered demurely. I should
say he weighed about one hundred and fifty pounds. Jim had lost
weight, but I did not think of that.
Any of his folks been here? With whom did he live? What flat? Which
Well, now, I shan't say; really, I shan't say who has been here to
see him. Look to yourself.
Why can't I go in and talk to him? Is he awake?
How could you? Why are you so foolish now to worry about him? He
doesn't bother his head about you. Haven't you had all you want of that
fire, without talking it all over again with that man?
I'd like first rate to have a talk with that fellow. Maybe I know
Well, I know you are a great man to talk, but we shan't let you
talk him to death.
Say, can't you tell me what sort of a looking dub he is?
A what? Most of the time you seem to speak Welsh.
How are you so cock-sure his name is George Marshall?
How do I? Well! well!
Why, look here! Isn't it natural for me to ask about him? Didn't we
pass through almost the same experience? Why, I am simply bound to know
that fellow, that's all there is about it.
Tut, tut! Certainly you shall know him. But not now, when you are
too weak to walk and he is suffering even more pain. Rest easy, now; be
as calm as you can and soon you and the other patient may talk it all
Say, haven't you seen anybody around his room coming to see him?
Um! Let me think. And she knitted her brows and shaped that small
mouth to a Cupid's bow, whence many an arrow has shot through me. Why,
I can't say. And she smiled teasingly.
Come, you must have some idea. How far from here is his room?
Why, yes; I do remember seeing some one there a few times. It was
his little girl.
Oh, I see, a married man. Egad, I remember a man in the house next
door who had a little girl. She was an awfully sweet little
thingdimples in her cheeks; little curls down at the side over her
earsmost generally, though, wagging around in front. I've often seen
him kiss her so tenderly. She was so pretty! Well, there's nothing like
The old joke that a woman can't keep a secret still appears in many
variations to illuminate the mind of the waiting man, driven to
lithographed hilarity in the barber-shop comics. In real life, when not
under the spell of this brilliant six-colored wit, we find ourselves at
a disadvantage frequently, because women keep their secrets too well.
Hygeia was loyal to Gabrielle, and together they shielded Jim Hosley
from his pursuers, and among the latter I was reckoned as one of the
Mr. Tescheron was soon convinced that Hoboken was the place he
should tarry. It might appear that a day or two of rest in that place
would have satisfied him that he might return to New York, but there
was a good reason why he should not take the risk of living in his own
home. And this reason strengthened Gabrielle in the belief that I had
notified the coroner of the Browning case and really entertained the
same view of Hosley as her father. On the third day after their arrival
at the Stuffer House, Mr. Tescheron received this letter from the
manager of his company, Mr. King, who wrote from the market:
A man came to this office this morning with a coroner's subpoena
for you to testify in the Browning case. I read it carefully and
noted that it was signed by Coroner Flanagan. The man told me he
been up to your house in Ninety-sixth Street. He seemed very
to find you, and waited around for some time after I had
assured him you had gone West on business. Hope what I did was
He also wanted to know if you had spoken to me regarding a fire
the disappearance of a Mr. Hosley. I had no knowledge of the
and so informed him. Shipments are running heavy to-day on
orders. As you have gone that way, there may be a reason for
J. M. KING.
This letter stiffened Mr. Tescheron considerably in his purpose to
remain in Hoboken. The following from Bridget to Mrs. Tescheron added
corroboration, which tended to brace that purpose still more, and it
was quite sufficient to keep the family under Mr. Staffer's roof for
A man from the corner was here wid a bit of paper, an' sed he
see yer. I ast him which corner, and he sed it was Flanigans the
sayloon is Finnegans do yer no any Flanigan on our corner the
is lookin well the cakes is dun.
I am not surprised, realizing Mr. Tescheron's mental condition, that
these letters convinced him the place of safety was beyond the borders
of New York State.
It is a very cosy spot here, Marie, said Mr. Tescheron, after he
had read the letters to his wife and Gabrielle, who made it a point to
be with her mother early every evening. During the day she spent most
of her time at the hospital ministering to Jim.
Mr. Tescheron's admiration of the Stuffer House intensified as time
wore on and he found he was safe there. His sagacity in the matter
encouraged him, and he soon took risks by venturing into the heart of
New York dressed in a suit which made him appear like a City Hall Park
hobo, with slouch hat and long ulster, such as market men wear loosely
belted like great aprons. Under these coverings he dared to go as far
as Fulton Market about three times a week, taking the most circuitous
route around the lower edge of New York, via the slow but sure Belt
Line horse car along West and South streets. To be sure, he put in most
of his time traveling, but the coroner did not catch him, and this fact
demonstrated the cleverness of the tactics.
The shabby disguise might have saved him, it seems to me, even if
the entire police force of the city had been after him, for normally
Mr. Tescheron was one of the tidiest little men. He usually shined like
a new hat out of a bandbox. He was patent-leathered, smooth-jowled,
rosy, crisp, pretty-nailed, creased, stick-pinned and embossed on the
vest. Nothing that a steam laundry and the latest machinery for
man-embellishing, from custom tailoring to Staten Island and hair
dyeing, could do to obliterate the fish business from his personality
had been omitted in compiling this de luxe, numbered and signed
copy of a man. But my investigations lead me to believe that Mr.
Tescheron was not exceptional in this respect at the market. Like
Napoleon, the wholesale fish dealers all fit circumstances to
obstacles. A man who slips and skids around all day in a wholesale fish
market is usually rich and, I find, makes up his average on pulchritude
after business hours.
Mr. Tescheron maintained a high record. When he was not in his shop
togs you would not recognize him any more than the made-over old family
umbrella that has ten times recovered its ribs and boldly fronted the
hilarious wind, ever ready to blow it off. It was always surprising to
me how he could produce such marvelous synthetic effects from the
elemental forms found on the Monday morning's clothes-line.
I don't know how true it is, but a chap down in the market once told
me that all the members of the Market Men's Association found it
annoying to remove the flies that had been blinded by the glint of
their bosoms and had slipped and broken necks on the starchy glaciers
of those Alpine precipices of dazzling shirting displayed at the annual
dinners of the society. It is only natural that the market flies should
want to attend, for they stick closer than a brother to the members of
this brotherhood. Mr. Tescheron's sartorial perfection was only an
exigency of his business, and if his armor was more striking than that
of the ordinary man, I, for one, was ready to forgive him. The fact
must remain that the best dressed men of New York are the wholesale
fish dealers of Fulton Marketafter business hourswhen they
transform to escape the torments of a perennial fly-time.
Gabrielle did confide in her mother, but her father was none the
wiser. He listened to Smith, and concluded that Hosley had skipped,
having learned in some way that the authorities were after him. If he
should be found and brought back to New York, the coroner might begin
his investigations at once and proceed with other witnesses. In that
event the name of Tescheron would undoubtedly be dragged into the case,
but if the family kept out of the State they could not be made to
testify. In Mr. Tescheron's judgment, therefore, it was wise to spend a
few weeks well out of the way until they were certain the affair had
Mother, I think the change may do us good, if we don't take father
too seriously, said Gabrielle, and if you can find enough to occupy
yourself until some favorable suggestion changes father's course, and
he is seized by a desire to return home, I shall be happy. Aren't you
getting tired of the company of these stuffed birds, though? I shall
send your parrot over to-morrow and have Bridget come to talk over the
housekeeping affairs with you, shall I?
No, dear; we shall be happy enough with these silent birds for a
while yet. Alas! if it is true that the officials want usand it must
be true, as Bridget and Mr. King have both written
Don't worry about that, mother; you will be just as proud of Mr.
Hosley some day as I am. Oh, he is so brave! Think how he rescued his
companion, Ben Hopkins, and then fell blinded by the flames. What a
terrible fall that was, mother! just twice the height of this
buildingyou really cannot imagine it. Do rogues show such heroism? I
tell you, mother, you'll find, one of these brighter days, that James
Hosley is a great, big-hearted hero, as far above these petty attacks
on his character, so readily believed by father, as the mountains are
above the sea. He has nothing to fear. Remember, a cruel fate struck
him down at the very moment he might have explained away every
circumstance to which father attaches weight, merely by stating the
truth. Mother, I have never doubted my hero!
Yes, my dear child, you are right. I feel that you are. Forgive me
for expressing that shadow of doubt; it is now gone. I am thankful that
God led your footsteps to his bedside, where you might help to rescue
him and his companion. I am indeed proud of you, Gabrielle. How greatly
I am blessed by you every minute! And the dear old soul cried, her
heart welling with love for her daughter, her confidante and support.
Then Gabrielle knelt at her mother's side and buried her face in her
mother's lap, her tears flowing in sympathetic response to this
declaration of maternal faith.
It is a good thing I was not there at that time, for at the sight of
tears in the faces of those dear women I would have been driven to
sheer madness. I believe I would have taken a club to the hard-hearted
or stupid Tescheron and murdered him with mince-meat minuteness in the
presence of the gossipers lolling around the fireplace in the
living-room. At the time of the tearful scene between mother and
daughter, a dramatic passage that has its counterpart in many homes
invaded by a son-in-law, the cruel Tescheron, the obstacle in the path
of true love, was listening to mine host, August Stuffer, three hundred
and fifty-two pounds of Hoboken manhood seated in a Windsor chair built
of wood and steel to resemble the Williamsburg Bridge about the legs,
so stoutly was it trussed, braced and riveted to carry its enormous
load. This wheezy spinner of yarns, in a tone of apoplectic huskiness,
was telling his guests about the peculiar stuffed cat, which advertised
the hotel far and wide from its glass case near the main entrance.
It was my joke that introduced Mr. Tescheron to this cat. Mr.
Stuffer's eloquence and the fire's hypnotic rays must have worked the
consequent charm at which I have often marveled.
Jersey Jerry was the name of that cat, said Stuffer, a gentle
wheeze playing about his upper rigging, as he spread out into the open
sea of truth. And he was a most unfortunate cat, because he was born
blind and had to learn the town by feeling his way. He went everywhere
and had more friends than most cats with eyesstrange but trueand
principally among cats. He was sociable because he had to work his
friends. He knew us around here by our sounds (it was an easy matter
for him to sound the tale-teller), and he used to rub his whiskers
against a stranger's legs till he got to know the man. You'd 'a'
thought he'd rub 'em all off, but not so; it seemed to make 'em grow
twice as longbiggest whiskers for a cat of his size I ever see. Well,
sir, I came down here to the back door one night to lock up, heard him
scratching and let him in. He gave me an awful scare, for as he looked
up two big blazing eyes shone brighter than the lantern I was carrying.
From his squeal I knew it was Jerry, so I picked him up and brought him
over here to get a good look at him. I could see at once that it was
the work of those Stevens students. They had taken an ordinary pair of
glass eyes such as are made for stuffed cats, and in the back of each
eye had fitted a tiny electric light, such as you've probably seen
attached to a button-hole bouquet, only they were smaller, of course. I
noticed when his tail went up the lights were turned on and they blazed
like he had gone mad, but when his tail went down it cut off the lights
like you've seen 'em shut off in a trolley car when the pole
fallssame principle, I guess, somehow. It all kind of puzzled me for
a time, till I got to thinking about it.
Nonsense! Where did the electricity come from? asked a man who
Electricity? A cat's full of electricity. Everybody knows that, and
those Stevens students simply connected it up to run two lights with a
cut-out at the back. Of course, when the cat died the natural
electricity gave out, and so I had him connected with the company's
wires and the tail fixed to run by works run by the current, to make
'em blaze and shut off and seem just as old Jerry used to. He was a
great comfort to me with those eyes, and I think they helped him to see
as well as feel, for he didn't rub any more, but flashed his eyes when
he was inquisitive and wanted to save steps.
But it killed him. Modern improvements on a cat brought up to going
it blind in Hoboken were too much. A man got the delirium tremblings
looking at Jerry one night and kicked him nine mortal blows before he
could get his tail up.
Well, said Mr. Tescheron, those Stevens students must be wonders.
I never supposed there was any good thing came out of Hoboken.
The town suits me all right, replied Mr. Stuffer. There's many a
good thing passes through here. He winked at Emil.
There ain't nothing a Stevens student can't donothing calling for
brains, said Mr. Stuffer. They get chock full of mathematics up
there, so's they can engineer anything from a turbine plant to a pin
where it's most needed, or a marriage factory. Anything that calls for
brains is right in their line. If I ever get into any kind of trouble
at all I'll get a Stevens engineer to rig me up some kind of a derrick
to pull me out of it.
At his leisure, Mr. Tescheron now marvels at the great ability of
Stevens men. He feels that he is a competent judge.
It was evident that the Stevens students who crowded the Stuffer
House had duly impressed the present proprietor with their ability to
overcome every obstacle in life's path with special machinery to fit
Why, one of those students told me some years ago, continued Mr.
Stuffer, that he once provided plans and specifications to supply a
girl with beaus.
None of the company now seemed to doubt, so Mr. Stuffer proceeded to
prove his proposition that a technical education at Stevens comprehends
the repairing of difficult cases of side-stepped heart.
Yes, I remember, now, it was the case of little Mary Schwarz, he
continued. And she never knew, doesn't to this day probably, how it
all came about that suddenly she had more beaus than she could attend
to. They fairly froze her in ice cream
Mrs. Tescheron had recovered and was ringing three times for hot
water as per the card of instructions tacked near the push-button in
They are not remarkably prompt here, she murmured. I wonder what
can be the matter every evening.
Mr. Stuffer, who was supposed to be on duty at the annunciator, in
his dual capacity of hall boy and host, heard not its alarm, for he was
well under way with a yarn.
She got so she didn't care for Hoboken, Mary didn't. The beaus then
took her to every theatre in New York. And they were a fine lot of
chapsStevens students, bachelor professors, leading merchants'
sonsall the best people in town. Before that Stevens student started
up the necessary machinery to repair this case, she had no beaus at
all; but he fixed things so's she had a regular monopoly because she
controlled the raw material. They teach just enough of political
economy on the side up there at the institute to bring that in; that
you can't have a monopoly unless you control the raw material; so he
figured to have her control it. But when she lost it the thing was
What became of it? asked Mr. Tescheron, who, I am informed, was
fearful that the narrator might be interrupted by the ringing of the
She ate it up. You see, Brown, that smart Stevens man, who laid out
this job, went around to where Mary kept her little lamb and sheared it
every once so often. He gave the wool to our swellest tailor and had
him make it up into an extra fancy line of trousering. The best people
bought those trousers, and of course everywhere that Mary went the lamb
was sure to go. You can see why she had so much good company. The
fellows simply couldn't stop going to Mary's till they shed 'em. It
took a mechanical engineer to do it. But when the lamb got old her pa,
who had not been told about this thing, thought he'd have to eat the
pet to save its mutton.
But she got married, of course, didn't she? asked a stranger, who
was en route to Europe on his wedding tour and was full of romance.
Why, no. You see, she was having such fun fishing, she never
stopped till they stopped bitingthat is, the snappy bass that she
liked to ketch. She landed a lot, but just kept throwing back, probably
waiting for some whale in the shape of a Duke to land on one of the
steamers, but those Dukes that pass through Hoboken are terribly long
on trousers, and generally bring 'em over by the trunk-load. They all
passed right through, at any rate. Instead of a whale coming along, the
next to bite were a lot of old skatesa regular lot of tramps. They
had come into the trousers second hand, usually got for the asking,
when preparing to start into New York for the slumming season; but, of
course, they had to make for Mary's house just as soon as they put 'em
on and the charm got to working. So she has been spending the balance
of her life shooing away tramps. The chances are the pet lamb will
never quite wear outexcuse me, gentlemen, I think I hear the bell
Gabrielle did not find it necessary to confide immediately in
Hygeia, who cared for us both, but as Jim progressed more favorably
than I, and was able to sit up in bed propped with pillows, he became
talkative and inclined to drop remarks that might create suspicion in
the mind of the nurse. Unless Hygeia became her confidante, Gabrielle
feared Jim's identity might become known and his whereabouts learned by
the officers of the law, who were now apparently searching for him on
You will be my good friend, will you not? asked Gabrielle, as she
drew Hygeia closely to her one morning about a week after our entrance
to the hospital. I want you to help me, and I know you now so well
that I feel I may safely ask you to. May I?
My dear Miss Marshall, there is nothing I will not do for you,
believe me. I rejoice that your brother is showing such rapid
improvement. How much more fortunate he is than the poor fellow in the
next roomhis friend, I believe you said?
Yes, Mr. Hopkins is his friend. But Mr. Marshall is not my brother,
Tut, tut! Didn't I know it, my dear! Have I not watched you both? I
am already keeping your secret, never fear. Tell me only what you
please, but you need not tell me to have your good-will, for my heart
is with you, my dear.
Oh, you are such a kind, good friend! exclaimed Gabrielle. It is
your sympathy and care that will save the lives of these men. Let me
tell you why I so promptly had him (pointing to Jim, who was beyond
hearing), registered as George Marshall, my brother. My father accuses
him of many thingsmany foolish thingsbut you know how it is with an
impetuous father; these things have been enlarged in his eyes by wicked
men, who are conspiring for gain. Detectives, they call themselves, and
so long as my father hesitates to publicly expose his family, these men
feed upon his fears. I have good reason to believe that Mr. Hopkins, so
long friendly to himwhose real name is James Hosleyis now his
bitter enemy, for he has given information concerning him to the
authorities. And my real name is Gabrielle Tescheron, so you see
Gracious! But this is a conspiracy, exclaimed Hygeia, deeply
interested and ready to declare her loyalty to the lovers. How can you
account for the base treachery of that man? (pointing toward my room,
the quarters of the despicable villain in the case.) What a miserable
wretch he must be!
But, my dear, said Gabrielle, who now felt that she was
established on a firm footing of intimacy with the nurse, I am not
positive as to that, although I have good reason to believe he has
deserted his old chum; still I am not sure, for I have only heard so
through my father, who is, of course, strongly prejudiced. There are
many things I do not understand. I do know that a subpoena has been
issued for my father on the complaint of Mr. Hopkins, and so, of
course, he must have informed the officials concerning Mr. Hosley,
probably accusing him directly as alleged by the detectives and
outlined to me hastily by my father. Had Mr. Hopkins not done this we
would not have been hurried out of the State to escape the unpleasant
publicity of which my father has a horror. Oh, father is such a
Your love is all you base your loyalty on, smiled Hygeia, and
embracing Gabrielle, she kissed her desperately. Indeed, no harm shall
visit either of you, Hygeia tenderly assured Gabrielle.
But to me this situation is very silly, added Gabrielle. And were
it not for my hasty father and this fire intervening, I know full well
that Mr. Hopkins would have made an explanation which would have
exonerated Jim. I feel so, but I shall take no risksno risks
whatever, mind you. While I do feel that perfidy in Mr. Hopkins is
beyond belief, I shall be cautious, and with your help shall keep him
in ignorance of Mr. Hosley's whereabouts. If he did tell a lie to my
father about notifying the officials, then let him come forward with
the denial. But we must not be too hard on the poor fellow; think how
much more he has suffered than Jim. Let us divide the beautiful
flowers. Half the time let poor Benny Hopkins gaze on these roses and
orchids I send to Jim, and tell him, too, my dear, that they come from
me. Let us hear what he says. Perhaps some day all will be clear to us
again. Jim and Ben will again be friends, and you will be our new-found
friend, whom we shall all rejoice in finding in our hour of need. How
beautiful it will be then, and these days of sorrow will be turned into
pleasant memories! Poor Mr. Hopkins, he does seem so low at times! Do
you think he will get well?
I think he will, assured Hygeia. Each day he rests a little
better, but his head is not clear. He wanders a good deal. But Dr.
Hanley says that condition will improvein fact, it shows signs of
improvement as his temperature becomes more even.
I do pray he will recover, said Gabrielle, sadly, shaking her
head. Jim has such faith in himlaughs at my fears and bids me let
him be wheeled into Ben's room as soon as the doctors will allow us to
go in there, for he knows he can cheer him. Jim says Ben is so given to
sarcasm and joking that people who do not know him well misunderstand
him. I shall not allow it, however, as there is too much at risk. Jim
does not know all. If I am wrong in this, Ben Hopkins is responsible,
for he deceived my father and drove us all over there to Hoboken. What
a place for an exile! Jim laughs every time I tell him about it. Oh,
such a state of affairs, just as we had planned to be married!
Isn't it too bad! exclaimed Hygeia. Never mind; we shall all
laugh over it at the wedding, if I may be there.
When everything comes out all right in our affairs, indeed you
shall be there. You shall be my bridesmaid; Nellie Gibson is to be my
maid of honor, and Benny Hopkins, Jim's best man. Won't it be grand!
Let me tell you about my gowns. I have nearly all of them ready. First
there is the
Here I shall leave them to talk of the trousseau. My notes on this
branch of the subject were gathered from Hygeia and are full enough to
give an adequate description. This I would do, but I am afraid I would
get tangled in the trail, scalp the bride by tearing off her veil with
a flying heel, and fall down on some of the fine lace flouncing around
the box pleats hiding the chiffon and the crêpe de chine. Hygeia told
me the style of the wedding gown was Princess, but there was a
reception gownI was told, but I forget now how many yards it
contained; if the 8,643 tucks were taken out and the goods stretched, I
understood there was enough to show that a silk mill and lace factory
had been busy several days. As for the silkworms, I suppose they were
all summer chewing up a row of mulberry bushes on this job. Weddings
make a lot of work for everybody.
Hygeia did everything possible to make it pleasant for Gabrielle at
the hospital. She tactfully left the sick man alone with his sister
the greater part of every afternoon. With sorrow to knit more firmly
the bonds of love, it would appear that no disturbing influence could
enter there. They chatted quietly and laughed merrily, and when they
were not doing either they were silently telling each other of their
happiness by those glances that had partially betrayed their secret to
Hygeia before she learned it from Gabrielle's lips.
Gabrielle became such a motherly person at the hospital! With a
dainty white dotted Swiss apron tied in sprightly bows about her waist,
in sweet perfection cast, she sat near the window sewing or
embroidering some bit of finery that must be finished for the wedding,
and by her hands alone. Jim was so full of joy he didn't care how long
it took his broken leg to mend. The aches and twinges from that quarter
were hardly felt by him after the first day of his confinement; his
head was right, and he was eager for the daily coming of Gabrielle.
Well do I comprehend how Jim felt. He did not yearn with sickening
hope deferred, for he had won the heart of the girl. Contentedly he
rested in the sunshine of her smiles, and fell asleep beneath the
shadow of her tresses, her small, cool hand on his fevered brow, her
low words of sympathy lulling him to the land of rest and sweet dreams
of her. I realize how it was with them, because it was so different
with me. The chill of loneliness cast by suspicion compelled my silence
on the things I was bursting to tell to sympathetic ears. My only
visitor was the cheerful nurse, but she was a stranger to my woes, I
thought, and could not help me.
Jim frequently asked Gabrielle concerning me. When he had been there
three weeks, he manifested an unusual anxiety, for none of his
inquiries had received satisfactory replies. Hygeia reported that I was
slowly gainingbut very, very slowly, and could not be disturbed, not
even by my brother who had called. None of Jim's folks had been down
from the North to see him, as he had written them with his own hand
that he would soon be out again. This made it clear to them that he was
Gabrielle, I must see Ben the minute the doctors say he is well
enough, declared Jim. Why, it is nonsense to suspect him. That fellow
is my best friend; never mind what you think, you will find him loyal
to me. I must see him. What will he think of me?
You are not well enough to manage your own affairs, Jim; believe
me, you are not. I want you to give over everything into my hands and
let me be your guide. Please do as I say.
She had early outlined to him the grounds for her father's
suspicions, but said nothing concerning the Browning case. She
emphasized my action which had frightened her father, but did not go
into details, for Jim was too weak to stand the mental strain she
feared might be imposed on him if he were to enter into a discussion of
the matters her father had told her were conclusive evidence that Jim
was a notorious criminal. It was all too ridiculous for her to believe.
Her father laid great stress on the fact that Hosley had left for parts
unknown, fearing to face his accusers, as corroborative of the other
evidence supplied by the detectives, including his long criminal record
and photographs from the Rogues' Gallery. This made it seem all the
more ridiculous. Not a suspicion concerning Jim had ever entered her
mind. Her knowledge of her father's obstinacy, and the evil influences
surrounding him, were all the protection Jim needed. His enemies
counted for him.
Well, I suppose I shall have to do as you say, Gabrielle, said
Jim, but Ben is a good friend of mine, and it may hurt him to find I
am neglecting him.
That will come out all right, Jim. If he is a friend we shall
probably learn of it as soon as he regains control of himself. He may
say something about you to the nurse. If he is friendly I will talk
with him first, and then we shall learn just where he stands in this
matter. Perhaps when we hear what he says we shall be glad we kept him
in ignorance of you.
That day when my head appeared to be perfectly clear for the first
time, and I began to ask questions, Hygeia hurried into the next room
and breathlessly announced:
Miss Tescheron, Mr. Hopkins has begun to ask questions at last. The
first thing he asked almost was: 'Where is Hosley? Is he in jail?
Hasn't he been here to see me? Was he hurt? Was he killed? Hasn't he
written to me?' and I asked him why he should ask me. He also wanted to
know who sent the flowers, and I told him, but he made no answer. He
didn't seem to think it possible Miss Tescheron should send flowers to
him. What do you make of it? I think he is perfectly friendly, don't
you? He wants to know so much about Mr. Hosley.
Certainly he's friendly; let me be wheeled right in to see him. Oh,
please; just for a minute, begged Jim, who was now sitting up with his
leg stretched out on a pillow.
Why should he ask if you are in jail? I don't like that at all; not
at all. I will not consent. He has not forgotten his treachery. I will
not trust the fellow. Let us wait until he talks a little more. And so
Gabrielle's caution intervened.
But I didn't ask any more questions about Hosley.
Circumstances usually arise along the path of folly to make it
increasingly expensive. Emil Stuffer appeared to supply one important
item. He had been attracted to Stevens Institute by the associations of
his home. The students from this great school gathered around his
father's hospitable fire and rested their brains when weary with the
curves of analytical geometry and the stupid exactness of the
differential calculus. Emil was clever at his professionthat of
mechanical engineerand for five years after his graduation from the
Institute had devoted himself to that career. Then his father needed
his assistance in running the hotel, for in his older years A. Stuffer
found it difficult to move with alacrity, and unless more speed could
be introduced in the management he saw that it might appear in the
departure of the guests. Emil, therefore, had come home to fall heir in
due time to the business, and prior to the ceremonies attending that
event, he was to be his father's lieutenant, practicing his avocation
as an ornithologist, whose specialty was rare birds, at leisure
moments. Emil enjoyed also the work of the taxidermist, and loved
dearly to cut and stuff. Jerry, the wonderful cat of the glass case in
the office, gave only a hint of his skill and the remarkable perfection
he achieved in improving the designs of nature. Under Emil's mechanical
touch Jerry became far more interesting and a better advertisement for
the business, when connected with his father's yarn regarding him as an
electric phenomenon, than he had ever been during the days of his
active existence on earth.
Mrs. Tescheron particularly admired the many specimens of birds
shown in nearly every room in the house, and even Gabrielle found them
interesting. Mr. Tescheron, who was something of an expert on fish, and
had written a number of articles on rare specimens in the line of his
specialty for the Fish Journal, was glad to take up the subject of rare
birds and pursue it with similar interest. Birds and fish are allied in
the student mind. Under the tutorship of Emil, he drank from the
Hoboken source of bird wisdom. If Emil by some stroke of Fate had been
thrown into Fulton Market for six weeks he might have become a student
of fish, and Mr. Tescheron the enthusiastic teacher. If any stranger
from the briny deep was hauled aboard a fishing smack and brought to
our city, Mr. Tescheron was the expert who told the newspapers all
about it. He told a straight, scientific story in popular language, and
until it had been rewritten by local fish editors and some twenty times
more by as many other piscatorial experts, it was hardly cured to a
point where it would pass in the domain of post-prandial fact. A very
large whale was once brought into the market and placed on exhibition
at an admission fee of one dime. The story of this whale, as
interpreted by Mr. Tescheron, appeared throughout the country for many
weeks afterward. A Western version of the New York interview, as it
appeared in some stereotyped plate matter of a Western news
association, I give here verbatim, to show how truth may be improved:
=JONAH'S WHALE APARTMENT.=
* * * * *
=New York Fish Expert Proves the Bible Story True.=
* * * * *
=The Higher Criticism of the Market.=
* * * * *
=Nothing at all strange that a man should be very comfortable
the roomy mammal with plenty of light and air and good wholesome
foodStructure shows it was built for the purpose.=
* * * * *
Albert Tescheron, the celebrated Fulton Market expert on rare
who is thoroughly familiar with the anatomy of whales, consented
give his opinion concerning Jonah this morning to the reporter
Mr. Tescheron, please tell me, said the reporter, in just what
part of the whale Jonah lived for three days. My paper wants the
story, with such Biblical data as may bear upon it, interpreted
the higher criticism of the Fish Market. I want to get an
view of the apartments he lived in by flashlight or the X-ray,
to print the Jonah story right up to date. There were none of
present, you understand, when the thing happened.
The belly of the whale is commodious, as you may see, replied
Tescheron, pointing to the spot with his cane. Here we have the
probable position of Jonah, seated with a knee against each ear
his hands clasped over his ankles. Now this episode as narrated
plainly tells us that Jonah was 'swallowed up;' he wasn't chewed
but swallowed whole, and from such investigations as I have
studying whales before and after meals, and from what I know of
layout of the interior occupied by Jonah, he sat, as I say, a
chunk of a man which no whale could digest. Now you know the
a regular submarine vessel equipped the same as those divers of
navy, with a perfect outfit of air valves. You must remember
that this fish was prepared for the special business of
Jonah, and for no other purpose. The whale comes up at regular
intervals and blows the water out of his air-tight compartments
sucks in a fresh air supplyenough to last him and two or three
passengers, so that Jonah, it may be seen, had no trouble at all
breathe, and agreed with the whale until the whale was beached,
asleep, at low water. The lack of all rolling motion in the
the fact that an uneven keel made Jonah claw around more than
made the whale land-sick. A whale can throw a stream from its
for about five rods, but when it strikes land that way under
ballast it chucks all its load, water and solids, like a torpedo
hitting a ship. I have experimented with small whalessay from
to twenty feet over all, and never knew one to miss when he
land. The whale was prepared especially to do thatto release
and does it with wonderful automatic economythe same that we
scientific men note throughout nature. If the people who laugh
this story of Jonah would watch whales a little closer,
low tide, when stranded and taking a nap, they would be
find how the whale wakes up and heaves ballast.
Just see the inside arrangements here, and Mr. Tescheron
on the surface of the dead monster the exterior elevation of
home. Just behind this outer covering is a splendid
feet by 4, lighted by the phosphorescent glow of the interior
A whale is full of phosphorus. The ceiling is a little low, but
ventilation is perfect, without draughts, and the temperature is
about what you would find in Florida in January. The humidity is
little heavy, so that when the whale runs too far North he may
inside and steam like a London fog or a Russian bath, but when
entered and stayed for three days it was warm weather, and he
able to see plainly and be quite comfortable, although you may
remember he referred to the place in strong terms when he was
to get out. The two rooms adjoining the living-room are also
you seehot-water heating system and allopen plumbing. How
the whale throw Jonah? About a hundred feet, I should say, and
lightened his ballast so that he floated again and was able to
reverse his tail motion and back off into deep water.
Through the courtesy of Mr. Tescheron the reporter was able to
arrange with the whale owners to have it opened and the artists
the Sporting Extra peeked in, and viewed the three-room-and-bath
apartment arranged in a kind of ham-shaped building with
sides. The artist's recollection of the plan is as follows:
We regret that space will not permit us to present the picture
by our imaginative artist showing Jonah in his disguise as a
reading one of his own sermons at a phosphorescent chandelier.
the following picture,[A] indicating the camera-like arrangement
the whale's Jonah suite in the dry-land collapse, with Jonah
on a wad of compressed air shooting upstairs and through the
vestibule, presents the Tescheron theory with greater vividness.
Emil Stuffer's father was very proud of his accomplished son. That
boy of mine, he used to say to Mr. Tescheron, thinks nothing of
starting out any time, day or night, for a rare bird. He'll just leave
a note here saying he's started, and like as not the next time I hear
from him he's caught a new kind of sand-piper, a god-wit or killyloo
bird in a Florida swamp, or one of them glossy ibises he hankers so
for. That extra pale bubo up there (pointing to a case above the office
desk), he picked up in Northeast Labrador.
Mr. Tescheron was greatly impressed with all this. He liked Emil,
the student, and found much in common with him. He questioned Emil
frequently, and was always glad to hear that enthusiast talk on his
When Mr. Tescheron's enthusiasm had attained the proper pitch, he
was admitted by Emil to view his private collection of the Rare Birds
of Eastern North America, attractively displayed in glass cases around
three attic rooms. Collectors from far and near had seen this
collection and had praised it in letters which Emil showed in an
off-hand way to the eager fish expert. One of these letters contained
an offer of $15,000 for the collection.
I wouldn't take $25,000 for that lot of birds, said Emil to the
amazed Tescheron at the first interview.
Do you suppose you'll ever get that much? asked the unbelieving
guest, making full allowance for the high opinion a collector has of
his own wares. Who'd give it?
Any museum that wants the finest collection of Rare Birds of
Eastern North America will give it readily. A friend of mine who has
been collecting postage stamps, values his collection at that, and he
hasn't begun to put the time and money into it I have put in this work.
Here are over one hundred of the rarest birds to be found from Florida
to Labradorany bird expert can tell that.
Mr. Tescheron became deeply interested. He consulted his friend
Smith, the great detective, who recommended a bird expert he knew to
appraise the collection and get a price from its fond owner. For a
consideration of fifty dollars, the bird expert spent an hour in
Hoboken viewing the Emil Stuffer collection without letting it be known
whom he represented. At least that was the agreement he made with Mr.
Tescheron. He reported that the collection would be a bargain at five
thousand dollars, and he believed it might be bought for that, as he
understood Mr. Stuffer was in need of money and was beginning to hint
he might sacrifice it among people in the trade; but of course he gave
no sign of anxiety to possible purchasers.
A man makes his pile in the fish business, but it is not monumental;
it will not live after him in memorial grandeur, and the business
itself is far from imposingthe phosphate of ammonia and its volatile
allies passing even from the recollection of reminiscent
contemporaries. The people with rare collections to sell work among
that class of trade represented by Tescheron, a man with money seeking
to benefit mankind in some way that will insure the perpetuation of his
name carved in stone or cast in bronze, with the cost of maintenance
shouldered by contract on the impersonal taxpayer, for whom glory pro
rata is reserved to be enjoyed by reflection from the monumented name
of the philanthropist. Thus the good a taxpayer does is interred with
his bones, if he has been careful to pay up and not be sold out
beforehand for arrears. But the good the philanthropist does is
resolved into fame founded on one of the surest things knowntaxes.
It is not ethical for a man engaged in supplying rare collections to
advertise, but like the most fashionable jewelers, whose correspondence
with ladies is in copper-plate long-hand, penned on delicate
note-paper, by a clerical force of slender-fingered young
gentlemenrefined, polite, indirect and apparently disinterested
appeals must be made. Emil Stuffer comprehended the art of the sales
Some day I hope to get enough out of the public to give a set of my
writings on political economy to every town that will firmly bind
itself, as the party of the second part, to keep them dusted.
The town authorities of Stukeville, N. Y., a village of three
thousand inhabitants, were already the proud possessors of the
Tescheron collection of rare fish, comprising some three hundred
prepared specimens, displayed in rooms set apart in the library
building. They were glad to furnish the additional rooms needed for the
accommodation of the celebrated Stuffer Collection of the Rare Birds of
Eastern North America, and also to provide, according to the deed of
gift: for the proper maintenance of the same, with the understanding
that the gift is absolute to the citizens of Stukeville without further
conditions or reservations, whatsoever, etc.
The dealer, acting as Mr. Tescheron's agent, secretly, made the
purchase about a week before the Tescheron family departed, and the
outfit was shipped to Stukeville, where it was set up by Miss Griggs,
the librarian (who kept two canaries and understood birds), assisted by
three men, who did the carting. There it stands to-day, a monument to
the benefactor of Stukeville. The smile on the elongated face of the
pelican, who is scratching his left ear with a broad web flipper,
reflects in mummied perpetuity the gratitude hidden behind the quiet
exterior of the studious Emil Stuffer, ornithologist and mechanical
engineerbut principally the latter, when he received word from the
expert that the sale had been made.
In Hoboken they now tell of the sale of this collection as a joke,
but in Stukeville it is a serious matter. Up there it is in the domain
of natural history.
Afterward, when I started out to visit the places involved in the
wages of my unlucky interference, I ran up to Stukeville and looked
over the birds. I could see that a stretched neck or lengthened legs
and fancy tail feathers, with a few minor alterations in the bill and
wings, were all that was necessary to make a rare wild bird out of a
tame duck. Hoboken-built birds seemed to answer every purpose, however,
When it was all over except spending the money, A. Stuffer used to
ask his scholarly son:
Say, Emil, which was the hardest to makeJerry, or one of them
A man who writes his friend's love-letters is twice a fool if he
admires his work. Burns, Byron, Morris and the others who contributed
toward these high crimes and misdemeanors were dead, and so escaped the
wrath of the angry gods, who switch triflers in Love's domain. I got
all the punishment due for the guilt of writing the compositions, and
piled on top of that came another turn on the hard road of the
transgressor for issuing them again. I did not intend to put them into
general circulation, of course; but my carelessness in leaving one of
the letters in the sun parlor really amounted to the same thing. The
fellow who carelessly hits a can of dynamite with an axe gets the same
perfect results as if he had planned to do it for several months. The
worst, however, was the swelling pride which led to the discussion of
the letters with Hygeia. It snatched her forcibly from my life at a
time when sustaining hope was most needed. The hypnotizing poets were
to blame. As I read the letters, I got the notion that I was
responsible for the inspired as well as the uninspired portions, and so
became topheavy and foolhardy in handling a kind of fire I did not
understand. Many another has been burned the same way.
Before letters of this character are passed out for general reading,
it must be understood that the audience shall not include the man who
sent them to a woman he afterwards killed, for the simple purpose of
marrying an accomplished lady of means, who is also a listener with him
at the recital. It is one of the rules in reading aloud second-hand
love-letters, never to have these conditions present, for they are apt
to induce distress in both parties. Had I been consulted with full
details presented for my consideration, I know I should have advised
Gabrielle and Jim listened to the reading of the letter left in the
sun parlor. It seemed to be public property, as there was no name
attached to it, and so it went the rounds of the hospital. Hygeia had
intended to read it for my entertainment first, but before doing so she
chanced to read it in the next room; perhaps because she thought the
audience would know more than I did of such matters, and would be more
appreciative. In this she was not mistaken. Jim's interest was there in
cold shivers, which made the springs hum and the slat gables whistle.
Gabrielle laughed and giggled like a schoolgirl.
It's the funniest letter you ever heard, declared Hygeia, who
seemed to lose sight of its serious character. I am sure you will both
think it so.
If it's a love-letter, ought we to trifle with it? asked
Gabrielle. The man or woman to whom it belongs might not regard it as
There are no names on it, and it will never be claimed now, said
Read it, by all means, then, to cheer us, said Gabrielle.
Hygeia proceeded to read this collaboration of R. Burns and B.
'My Darling Margaret: During your visits to the country your
cheer me as I fondly dwell upon the sweet suggestive thought
are ever thinking of me, as I am thinking of you, every waking
dreaming moment. I fade away into dreamland, hand in hand with
and joyously together like innocent children we walk across the
meadows and through the woods to some hidden bower by the brook;
there as I look up into your eyes, the pebbly streamlet flashing
glint of wayward sunshine, the wooing songbirds and the
harmonies of Nature soothe me like your tender glances when they
upon me alone. Aye, quite alone I would have them fall, to
that magic sensation of a dream's delight. Then when I awake in
morning and realize that you are far, far away, and read your
letter again with pangs of the bitterest remorse, I dwell only
those passages which hint of other joys quite apart from your
interest in me. My desolation is that of a storm-tossed soul,
by every breath of fear and tortured by every agony known to the
forsaken. Have you no pity for me, Margaret? Drive no more
anguish through my bruised and shattered heart, but gently
in words of endearment the potency of your enthralling glances.
'Forlorn, my love, no comfort near,
Far, far from thee, I wander here;
Far, far from thee, the fate severe,
At which I most repine, love.
O, wert thou, love, but near me;
But near, near, near me;
How kindly thou wouldst cheer me,
And mingle sighs with mine, love!
Around me scowls a wintry sky,
That blasts each bud of hope and joy,
And shelter, shade nor home have I,
Save in those arms of thine, love.'
Oh, my! How gushy! exclaimed Gabrielle, as she laughed, and looked
at Jim to see if he were enjoying it as thoroughly.
Yes, but how jolly it is to read, said Hygeia. Listen to this:
'There comes a faint ray of sunshine and hope when I read just a
word of your possible home-coming in a fortnight. Would that I
keep that single thought in mind to illumine the dreary
There are times when it blazes brightly, and with the tripping
footsteps of joy I think of you as here at my side. How sweet
'We'll gently walk, and sweetly talk,
Till the silent moon shine clearly;
I'll grasp thy waist, and, fondly prest,
Swear how I love thee dearly;
Not vernal showers to budding flow'rs,
Not autumn to the farmer,
So dear can be as thou to me,
My fair, my lovely charmer!'
My, but wouldn't it be fine to have such letters to treasure!
laughed Gabrielle, teasingly. Jim, don't you think it splendid?
But Jim looked glum and tried to dodge under the quilts.
'It is not every night I can dream, believe me,
continued Hygeia, her face in smiles, for she felt that her
was now in sympathy with the reading. 'Many and many a night I
the floor of my dark room or idly sit by the window gazing out
flickering stars and the pale moon until they fade away in the
and then I rush out into the turmoil of the unheeding, jostling
world, with nothing to live for but your return. On those nights
soft word from your fair lips would summon me to peaceful
Alas! to realize that you are far, far from me, and the agony of
thought that you may never return seizes and holds me fast. Then
'O, thou pale orb, that silent shines,
While care-untroubled mortals sleep!
Thou seest a wretch who inly pines,
And wanders here to wail and weep!
With woe I nightly vigils keep,
Beneath thy wan, unwarming beam,
And mourn in lamentation deep
How life and love are all a dream.
'Encircled in her clasping arms,
How have the raptured moments flown!
How have I wished for fortune's charms,
For her dear sake and hers alone!
And must I think it!is she gone,
My secret heart's exulting boast?
And does she heedless hear my groan?
And is she ever, ever lost?
'Oh! can she bear so base a heart,
So lost to honor, lost to truth,
As from the fondest lover part,
The plighted husband of her youth!'
Jim, why didn't you learn how to write letters, so that you could
send some to me like that? Don't you think it lovely? Please don't
stop. Pardon my interruptions, said Gabrielle.
Never mind the interruptions. Let us get all the fun out of it we
can, replied Hygeia, who continued to read with frequent interruptions
from Gabrielle, but none whatever from Jimthe livelier the comments
and laughter, the greater he was inclined to silence and disappearance
beneath the covers.
Jim, why don't you laugh? Gabrielle would say, turning to the poor
fellow, who was as meek as any beggar could be. The partition wall was
too thick for me to hear what was going on, although by direct line I
was probably not two feet away from Jim, for our beds stood head to
The idea of entertaining Miss Tescheron and her ill companion in
this way was pleasing to Hygeia. Of course, she knew there was nothing
in those letters that could make a woman cry, so on she read, and as
she proceeded the fun for Gabrielle and the interest from Jim's
standpoint became intensified. I don't suppose I did anything except
'I have tried hard, my sweetheart,' continued Hygeia, 'to find
distraction by visiting the places of amusement alone, but the
of the orchestras became jarring discord in my ears; the plays,
either dull, or if interesting in plot with lovers happily
they but added to my anguish. There is no escape for a heart
as mine has been. How I long for the wilderness; to be alone
sorrow since heaven calling for your companionship cannot be
'Had I a cave on some wild distant shore,
Where the winds howl to the waves' dashing roar;
There would I weep my woes,
There seek my lost repose,
Till grief my eyes should close,
Ne'er to wake more.
'Every time you mention a birdie in one of your letters,
I am driven to desperation. Why have I not the charms of the
woodland warblers to pierce with dulcet note the inmost
of your heart buttressed to strong resistance against my awkward
protestations of undying love? Nature has taught these creatures
the wild to woo with a finer art. Man is but a clodtoo sordid
rise on wings of song into that vast expanse of heaven, a
heart. Let me learn of the birds:
'O, stay, sweet warbling woodlark, stay!
Nor quit for me the trembling spray;
A hapless lover courts thy lay,
Thy soothing, fond complaining.
'Again, again, that tender part,
That I may catch thy melting art,
For surely that would touch her heart,
Wha kills me wi' disdaining.'
Why, how apt those quotations are and how full! laughed Gabrielle.
You don't suppose the writer could have been so cruel as to
deliberately copy them, and yet he must have done so, of course. Just
think of it: some man sitting there wildly in love, seeking counsel of
the inspired poets to plead his cause. His great devotion leads him to
select the tenderest passages; only those verses that speak the deep
sentiments of his flaming heart does he see, and with them he presents
his case. Why, really, I find that I am arguing myself into a friendly
attitude toward this poor soul. Perhaps it is not right for us to laugh
at that which is so real to this earnest pleader. Still, it is funny to
stand aside and see two people in love, isn't it, Jim? Really one can't
help laughing, and as we don't know whose letters these are, why
shouldn't we laugh? Then think of the poor girl, up there in the
country, writing long letters in return, proud of her lover's ardor,
yet shy in penning words of devotion. Isn't it an attractive picture,
Jim?full of that 'soothing, fond complaining' for them, and comedy
for the rest of us? Go on, my dear, and let us hear more of this poetic
woe; although Jim doesn't say anything, I can see that he is listening.
Does it make you tired, Jim?
Oh, no. No, no, Gabriellenot at all! Jim managed to spruce up
enough to deny the intimation.
Then please continue, urged Gabrielle.
Hygeia was delighted to find her entertainment so successful, and
proceeded, not noting, of course, the inward groans which spread
through the quaking man in the bed. Jim could see that unless a great
stroke of luck turned up there would be another fire, and he would take
a fall that would probably kill him next time.
It is dangerous to leave waste paper like those letters lying around
close to such highly inflammable material.
Poor Hygeia! She played with the fire like a child. What did she
know about the rules of the Board of Underwriters! Neither had she ever
heard of the Bureau of Combustibles!
It's a mighty lucky thing for my nerves that I was dreaming an
If Jim had been able to reach over the back of his bed and slit me
with a cleaver into rosette ribbons, one-quarter inch wide, I believe
he would have done it and been proud of the job.
Hygeia continuing, with Gabrielle expectant and Jim well muffled,
must have presented a picture I would give anything to have preserved
in oil paint.
'How dearly I cherish the lock of hair I stole from you the
we parted! You are not angry with me, are you, Margaret?' read
'Her hair is like the curling mist
That climbs the mountain sides at e'en,
When flow'r-reviving rains are past.
'Really I do not wonder at the volumes of poetry that have been
written on the beautiful tresses of the fair enshrined in
hearts. Sweet dreams hover near this soft remembrance and I only
regret that I did not snip off enough to have a jeweler braid it
my watch-charm locket. Enclosed please find some of mine in
Here it is, exclaimed Hygeia, and she produced the small allotment
of Jim's, tied with a cotton thread in the middle. Fortunately the
original quantity had dwindled in fondling or transit, so that with an
exhibit of only eighteen strands, as per my inventory, there was not
enough to bulk and show the same depth of shade as the original on the
neighboring pillow. Gabrielle took the fragmentary token and held it
up, playfully remarking:
Why, the dear fellow was a blond; almost your color, Jim, I should
imagine; perhaps a little lighter. He probably had eyes like yours,
Jimmy. Now, what a fortunate girl she was! Oh, my! Some men are so
tender and thoughtful about these little matters. Jim, you never teased
me by stealing a lock of my hair, did you? and so of course I never
asked for yours. What a slow old chap you are! These letters will teach
you a lesson, which I hope you will heed. Put the lock back with that
poetry to preserve it, and do let us hear the rest of it.
Listen, then, said Hygeia, continuing:
'How the fresh breezes must be painting their ruddy hues on
cheeks of yours, Margaret, for you write me that you are
most of your time in the open these beautiful days. How I long
with you and behold, for as the poet would sing of you
'Her cheeks are like yon crimson gem,
The pride of all the flow'ry scene,
Just opening on its thorny stem.
* * * * *
'Aye, and then
'Her lips are like yon cherries ripe,
That sunny walls from Boreas screen
They tempt the taste and charm the sight;
An' she has twa sparkling roguish een.'
* * * * *
At this point I awoke, sat up in bed and reached out for the
suspended electric button, which I pushed for two long rings and a
short one, my private signal. I was thirsty for grape-juice. Hygeia
seldom traveled beyond range of my bell. As soon as she heard it, she
stopped reading and asked to be excused for a few minutes, until she
could attend to my wants.
It was now my eighth week at the hospital, and it found me with
little to do. I pined silently. The nurse flitting in and out cheered
and then distracted me; she was too busy elsewhere most of the time to
suit me. I dared not think too much of my troubles, for I found it
discouraging and weakening. The letters from Obreeon furnished the
material I needed to sustain a happy train of thought. Sitting up in
bed with this precious poetic patchwork piled over my lap, I had many a
good sneeze. I am sure I got some of my money back by reading them over
and over again, with the memory of the original spirit in which they
were slapped together. For a time the happy days of the fifth flat came
back to me, and I smiled and chuckled over the wildest specimens in
suppressed glee. Robert Burns, of Scotland, and I were responsible for
many of these lone lover's laments. I must say that Burns held up his
end fairly well, because I knew just where to place his underpinning to
make it support my magnificent prose. The Byron and Shakespeare-built
letters were also good. Scott rumbled a little too hard; his stride was
too firm to answer the purpose, except for short fillers now and then.
All the big licks were put in with Byron and Burns, and Morris
occasionally as a substitute. Those fellows warmed up to the subject in
a way that pleased me; they took right hold of a girl with as little
timidity as a dancing professor and poured their song into her
inclining ear, happy in the understanding that they were delivering the
goods she wanted. Early in the business I had come to the conclusion
that it was useless to fool with the cold-blooded wooers if results
were wanted. Shakespeare, of course, was a leader, but his best stuff
was getting to be so common in the language I found it impossible to
quote him and maintain an air of dignified originality, so as to make
it appear that the gems fell naturally by suggestion from Jim's
well-stocked poem reservoir. If the maiden should get the idea that the
prose was written around the poetry the scenic effect would be
destroyed. The great thing was to make a hit by getting the sincerity
in the prose boiled down so thick that the following poetry would seem
to be only a breath of steam arising from the solid mass of seething
sentiment. It was assumed that the lady would know who the poet was,
but give Jim credit for selecting the verses the same as if he had
written them; she would not doubt him on the prose, for occasionally I
brought that down to the style of a plain business letter to destroy
The more I read those letters over at the hospital, the prouder I
became. My calm judgment was that they were well worth the price and
any woman might be proud to have them sent to her. Perhaps I would copy
them off again some time when I needed help that way myself; at any
rate, I was so proud of them I decided I would always keep them for
their literary value.
When Hygeia entered, I was deeply interested in this documentary
mass. I had forgotten about my thirst, imbibing from this fount of
poetic inspiration. She asked me what it was that pleased me so much,
but I dodged that question politely.
Soon I began to regret my evasive answer. When a man gets to be real
proud of his work of art, he wants somebody to admire it with him and
tell him how nice it is. I had believed I should be close-mouthed about
those letters, but when I had taken off the few at the top signed with
Jim's name I noticed there was nothing in them to tell who wrote them.
Why shouldn't Hygeia enjoy them with me? If a few seemed to affect her,
a clue to her heart's entrance would appear, and then I could undertake
the composition of more with greater earnestness than ever. A man can
do better in such business for himself. Just a few would do no harm, at
any rate. She would not know who Devoted Darling and Jamie and My
Dearest Own might be, with no envelopes and addresses to give the
thing away, and if she did, what would it matter? She would soon forget
me as well as the letters. Why not brighten the dull moments?
There is no limit to the persuasive questions a fool can put to
I thought you rang for something, she said.
Why, I rememberI was thirsty. Please let me have some grape-juice
off the ice.
While she was gone I thought it all out carefully and decided not to
show the letters. It would be better to be a little cagy for a while.
When Hygeia returned, I again changed my mind and passed over to her a
dozen or so choice specimens.
Please sit right down and read these and tell me what you think of
them, said I.
She went over to the window and presently began to laugh a little
louder than the regulations would permit. That suited me, because it
proved the style would melt if addressed to her; taken second-hand and
cold that way, she was bound to laugh at them. Letters in divorce cases
referring to the defendant woman as a dream in curves were no joke to
the fair one who had sighed over them. Buckwheat cakes and love-letters
must be done to order and served hot, or the steam dews on them and
soggy fermentation ensues, giving off laughing-gas.
Why, who in the world could have written this nonsense? laughed
Hygeia. It sounds exactly like that letter one of the nurses found in
the sun parlor the other daythe same in many respects as that
letterwhich has been passed around for the entertainment of the
nurses and the doctors. That also must belong to you. Shall I get it
Perhaps I dropped some carelessly, but it's no matter, said I.
Let me see it some time and I can tell you. What do you think of
[Illustration: WHY, WHO IN THE WORLD COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS
NONSENSE? LAUGHED HYGEIA.Page 214.]
Think of them! And she smiled as if she was pleased, as she
continued to turn page after page. Surely you could not have written
them, did you, Mr. Hopkins?
I? A friend of mineyou showed him in the other daythought they
would keep my mind occupied, so he brought them here.
Well, I'm glad he did and that you let me read them. I think the
other nurses would enjoy them. May I not read a few to them?
Certainly, take all you want and read all you please; only return
them in order.
But did your friend say who wrote them? If they concerned you
personally at all, or your friend, Mr. Hosley, of course I should not
want to take such liberties with them. Do they?
Why, my friend who brought them to me thought of publishing those
letters, said I, just before he brought them to me, but I persuaded
him not to. Both the woman and her husband
Why, did he really win her heart with them, and did they get
Certainly. Letters like that are written to win, I answered, with
quiet satisfaction, even though murder had been the outcome of my art.
The lady and her husband dead and gone (honesty would have made me say
'or gone'), the letters fell into the possession of my friend, who in a
way deals in such curios. I bought them from him for a song (some songs
are worth one thousand dollars), although he was not over-anxious to
Well, if you bought them from a dealer in letters, then they must
have belonged to strangers. Really, are you fooling? Are you telling me
I have not, since I have known you, told you a single thing which
is not true. But tell me, why do you doubt my sincerity? Why do you
care if they concern me? I wondered if I could have smitten her
slightly, and my shoulders began to broaden against the pillow and a
sensation of feeling handsome passed over me, although I had not been
to a barber in weeks.
Well, it would seem cruel to take your love-letters, you know, Mr.
Hopkins, and read them to the other nurses to laugh over, now wouldn't
As you state it, perhaps it would, said I. But what do you care
about Hosley? Why do you ask if they concern him? Has Miss Tescheron
spoken to you about him? I was getting suspicious again, for she had
refused, on one excuse or another, to let me see Mr. Marshall. It had
flashed on me several times again that there was a bare chance of
Marshall being Hosley under another name given to him by a person
mistaken in identifying him, or that he was trying to hide from me
under an alias so easy for him to assume, and had induced Miss
Tescheron, perhaps, to avoid meeting me. The flowers, perhaps, were
only to mislead me.
Did I really ask if they concerned Mr. Hosley? And she looked at
me with such a teasing air.
You surely did.
Well, you used to have so much to say about him I thought perhaps
you might have heard from him, you know, through this gentleman who
called, and if you are still friendly to him you would not want to have
his letters read around the hospital to furnish entertainment. Still,
these letters were written by a married man, and I understand you and
Mr. Hosley are bachelors. Mr. Hosley might have written these letters
as a bachelor, I feared, and might not be proud to hear them now. He
Tell me, if you thought of reading them to Mr. Hosley, where is he?
It might interest me to know. You sometimes talk strangely, as if you
know where he is, and yet you will not tell me. Has Miss Tescheron
confided his whereabouts to you? If so, please tell me, for I would,
indeed, like to confront that gentleman mighty well.
Then you are really friendly to Mr. Hosley, and may look for him
when you leave here? She spoke as if I were about to confirm her
impression that I knew only good of Hosley.
I shall certainly find him, never fear. But my friendship for that
man is deadslain by his own hand, said I, bitterly.
This seemed to shock her rudely, but she quickly recovered and
Why look for a man in whom you have no interest? Has he committed
some crime that you would track him down?
I will track that man down to his very grave, said I, solemnly,
shaking my forefinger at her as she rested one hand on the foot of the
bed and looked at me with breathless interest. Miss Tescheron shall
know all that I learn. If she should ever happen to call here to see
you, be sure to tell her that, if you please; but you need not say I
told you to tell her. Only, I shall be willing to have her know that I
am on the trail of that scoundrel. ThereI did not mean to burden you
with my opinion of Hosley. I had intended to leave here quietly without
saying a word about him. The secret has clawed at my heart so that I
have not been able to keep it. And what matters it? You do not know
him. I am satisfied that he has skipped to parts unknown, because he
fears that officers are watching for him here. My, but it is terrible!
Terrible! How can such villains achieve their dastardly ends with women
and escape detection! Some mysterious influence seems to cover them, in
all their devilish ways, from the suspicion of innocent people. Perhaps
their victims in many cases shrink from exposing them. Oh, forgive me
for burdening you with this awful mystery! It almost drives me mad!
Mystery! What has he done? In heaven's name, tell me! And she
almost screamed as she clenched the bed with both hands and leaned far
toward me, those wonderful eyes staring in horror. The effect of my
eloquence was greater than I suspected, but I continued to expand with
He murdered a woman but two days before he sought to marry Miss
Tescheron; and as I said it, I sank upon my pillow with a hand across
my eyes to stay the tears which a more vivid presentation of the crimes
of Hosley brought to my eyes. When I looked up, the nurse, pale but
calm, was looking at me.
How wide I was of the mark! Instantly she had conceived the idea
that the letter she had been reading to furnish diverting comedy in the
next room was burdened with tragedy for the young woman to whom she had
become deeply attached. Her training had taught her to maintain
self-control in the emergency. Another woman, brought face to face with
a murderer fondling his next victim with gory hands, might have swooned
or excitedly rushed to the rescue of the fair prey with wild
denunciations of the criminal.
My! but you seem pale, I said anxiously.
Your ghost story frightened me, Mr. Hopkins. Please don't tell me
any more like that. It is now time for your luncheon.
There were so many things on my schedule of routine that it was
always time for some cruel requirement to steal her away from me.
As she passed out I noticed a strange expression of care upon her
beautiful face. I could not account for it, unless my earnestness had
impressed her. Her point of view made the serious letters comedy for
her at first; perhaps this was the reaction. There could be no reason
for her agitation, based on her transient interest in Miss Tescheron, I
imagined, for she had only met her for a few minutes at a time. It must
have been my eloquence, the power of my dramatic art to so vividly
portray the hideous Hosley that she became quite as much affected as if
she had intimately known the criminal, and had followed his creeping,
serpentine ways for bringing the next creature into his power. It
rather pleased me to find that I could exercise this wonderful
influencea force so long latent in a superior intellectual equipment,
obscured by a disenchanting personal appearance, especially
unconvincing then, for I never looked particularly well in bed.
A nurse I had not seen before brought my luncheon, and with it the
letter, which I quickly recognized belonged to my thousand-dollar
Your nurse sends this letter, which I am told is yours, said my
new guardian. She is ill and the doctor has ordered her to rest.
Ill? Why, I am very, very sorry to hear that, said I. Tell me,
please, how seriously ill she is. Only a moment ago she left here
looking very pale. Do tell me about her.
Why, that is all I know.
The next day I learned that Hygeia had gone to her home in
Connecticut for a brief vacation. Something had happened; I did not
know what. The doctor, it appears, advised that a vacation would be the
thing. I could learn no more. I was able to get her address, and wrote
a long letter to her, but no reply came. I began to doubt the strength
of my magnetic power over her, so encouragingly demonstrated, and was
utterly miserable again. Every other worldly interest became dim; the
last ray of hope had gone and through the dark valley of despair I
Marshall, I learned, had left the same day Hygeia departed, but I
did not care. I should not have spoken to him. I was in no humor to
talk with him over that tame experience passed through while I was
unconscious. When burning over a slow fire, a man is not fit for
reminiscence. Two weeks later, after an illness of ten weeks, I was
discharged from the hospital with all wounds healed except the one I
received there, and perhaps that otherthe maddening effect of
It was an unfortunate day for Mr. Tescheron and his family when I
isolated him among the scheming natives of Hoboken, that seat of
wonderful mechanical learning. When the birds had been shipped to
Stukeville, Mrs. Tescheron insisted that the family return home at
once, and, if necessary, take the consequences of a terrible publicity.
Life without her friends had become unbearable. She must have the
comforts of her home. Daily she begged, implored, teased and pined.
Gabrielle, too, urged her father to consider her mother's health, for
Hoboken had gotten upon Mrs. Tescheron's nerves to a dangerous degree.
I care nothing now for the publicity, said Mrs. Tescheron. It
cannot be worse than this sort of privacy. Albert, I hope you will see
the folly of remaining longer.
Mr. Smith tells me it would not be safe to return yet, Marie. Be
patient; in a little while everything will have blown over. Remember,
we are paying Mr. Smith, who is experienced in these matters, and it is
good business to take his advice.
Gabrielle remained silent during the conversation between her father
and mother. She had, as usual, spent the best part of the day attending
her hero at the hospital, protecting him from the consequences of her
foolish father's acts and from his traitorous chum. Her plans were
carrying well, and were it not for her mother's fretfulness Hoboken or
any spot within a reasonable distance from the hospital would be a
satisfactory abiding place for her.
Gabrielle's disinterestedness had already aroused her father's
You seem to be satisfied here, Gabrielle, said he, turning to his
daughter, whose air of contentment seemed to him to be based on
something more than a sustaining faith in Jim Hosley; it must, he
thought, include a full knowledge of Jim's retreat. That night she
seemed to be most aggravatingly self-satisfied, although she had really
never been otherwise from the moment of his first denunciation of Jim,
closely followed by the family's flight. This must be something more
than stoicism. She had outgeneraled him in some way.
Yes, I am perfectly satisfied, father, replied Gabrielle. Mother,
however, needs her home. The days drag heavily here. A few weeks'
change was well enough, and I believe it might have helped her; but you
can see that she is worrying a great deal now. Is it worth while, do
you think, to sacrifice mother's comfort, perhaps her health?
These rooms are not to my liking so well as those in Ninety-sixth
Street, but Mr. King wrote to me again the other day that the same
fellow was around again to serve me with that subpoena. Hoboken may not
be so desirable as home, but I think you would both be sorry to return
and undergo the ordeal we have been delivered from by coming here. I am
trying a little plan now which, if it works, may bring us home soon. I
think it is the safe way out. Mr. Smith and I are now at work on it. If
all goes well, Marie, you will be happily returned to your home very
soon, so please be as patient as you can a few days longer. This
miserable incident will then be closed forever, and we may walk abroad
again among our friends, with our reputations unsullied and no one the
wiser for our leaving as we did. Ah! it will please me, mother, to have
Indeed, it will please us all, Albert, Mrs. Tescheron assured him
sadly, although it seemed to her there could be nothing more
disappointing than an indefinite postponement of her heart's desire.
What those plans were Gabrielle would have given Smith a retainer to
know, for if they involved the arrest of her Jim and his extradition to
another State. She wondered how her father could believe they would get
away safely in a week. If the detectives had lost track of the fugitive
during the time he was in the hospital she did not believe they would
find him now in the hiding-place she had in mind. The moment the
hospital physicians consented, Jim Hosley would be removed to a spot
where he might convalesce without fear of molestation. Not a soul, not
even her mother, should know of that place, for if the pursuit was to
be renewed in earnest, her vigilance must be all the greater.
Gabrielle's fears, as is usually the case with lovers whose wisdom
is intuitional, were not well founded. The detectives had long ago
ceased to do any actual work in following clues to determine the
whereabouts of the bad man. Why should they? Their idea was to keep him
mysteriously at large, with the district attorney and police always
just around the corner. Suspended interest pays well, for the service
was charged at so much per week with occasionally a bonus for an
Mr. Tescheron did not have in mind a further pursuit of Hosley after
he had paid the detective bureau for weeks of service, which brought no
results other than rumors. To have the disturber of his peace in hiding
where no man could find him would have pleased Mr. Tescheron; but from
the reports of Smith it seemed certain that a crisis was about to be
reached. Hosley had been located in South Dakota, claiming a residence
antedating our fire by several weeks. A man who has had trouble with
his wives generally goes there. The officials were about to send men on
to arrest him, and then await his extradition. There was enough
evidence, Mr. Smith said, in the Browning case alone to warrant the
belief that the authorities would readily secure the transfer of their
man to New York; but long before that time, all the horrible details
would appear in the papers.
We have staved this thing off for five weeks, Mr. Tescheron, said
Mr. Smith, in one of his private interviews with his client at the
Stuffer House. They sat that afternoon in a corner of the writing-room
adjoining the large living-room.
Yes, I think you have done well, replied Mr. Tescheron. But how
much have I paid you altogether? About one thousand eight hundred
dollars, isn't it?
Yes, or a trifle more or less, one way or the other. I can't
remember just now. It has involved me in heavy expense, this case has,
Mr. Tescheron. If I had it to do over again, I could not possibly quote
such favorable terms for our facilitiesI could not possibly. No, sir,
I could not possibly think of doing so. Mr. Smith's emphasis took the
form of dwindling repetition so common to men of business, who have
hold of the best end of the bargain, and have decided to keep their
Well, in the fish business, one thousand eight hundred dollars
stands for enough to feed ten thousand people, remarked Mr. Tescheron,
glumly. I feel as if it ought to pay for a lot of detective work. I am
sorry you think you are so underpaid.
There was a trace of a sneer that Mr. Smith did not like, and as he
held the upper hand in the detective business he did not need to
tolerate such conduct in his client.
Perhaps we'd better call the thing off, said Mr. Smith. You and
your family remain hereor you might go down to Lakewood. In that way
you will escape much of the disagreeable notorietyquite a good deal
of it, at any rate. Yes, sir, a considerable amount of it.
Mr. Smith snapped some documentary-looking papers, and as he drew
his lips together and nervously twisted his head, he thrust the papers
deep in an inside pocket. They contained a memorandum of the estimated
price for engineering the return of the Tescheron family to New York
under an iron-clad guarantee of protection.
But the sarcasm was more of an irritant than the client could stand.
See here, Smith, you talk to me in a way I don't like; and Mr.
Tescheron glared as he became more combative than he had ever been in
his dealings with this prosperous leech. I don't care to have you
threaten me in this underhanded manner. Perhaps I have been a fool to
have placed so much confidence in you from the start. You have kept me
scared and away from my home for five weeks, and now you hint that the
end is not in sight. We are all sick and tired of this place. Hoboken
is no paradise, let me tell you. I am bored to death here. For the
money paid to you to date, you have produced nothing but discomfort. I
am thinking of packing up and starting back to-morrow, let the
consequences be what they may. I think I have been a victim quite long
enough, and have paid just about all a fool ought to pay for a vacation
of five weeks.
Well, you know your own business best, of course, Mr. Tescheron. If
you really don't fear the publicity, why did you engage me at all? Why
did you go to any expense whatever? Of course, it is foolish, as you
say, to spend money to avoid that which you do not fear. Go back and
take your medicine; let your wife and daughter take theirs. Go back by
all means; start to-morrow. Don't delay.
That fellow Smith certainly knew enough about fishing for men to
fill a volume with pointers on the best lines, rods, and
baitartificial, worms or minnows. He knew just what he could do with
a man restrained by fear, and filled with the idea that his money and
superior business judgment would enable him to gain his ends in every
emergency. A poor man is protected against many parasites by his lean
purse. It gets back to the saying, A fool and his money are soon
parted; but what impresses me at this turn of our narrative is the
fact that the fool is only interesting up to the point of the parting.
After that he is dropped from the plans of his pursuers. Notice of the
failure of Mr. Tescheron's business in the reports of the day would
have removed him from the realm of mystery to sure footing on the
hard-pan of tough luck.
Mr. Tescheron had in his haste begun to find fault before he knew
just what move to make. He realized that Smith read that fact in his
manner and peevish complaining. He felt the hook in his gills. Smith
felt the tug on the line. Perhaps at that interview he thought how like
my advice this sarcastic statement from Smith seemed. At times he felt
like a coward, and then encouraged himself to believe he was really a
brave man, saving his loved ones from the blasting breath of
scandal more awful than any calamity that might overtake them.
Smith's shrewd little brain turned on cash. Gold dollars were the
ball bearings that eased its frictionless revolutions. Pine forests
have their charms, no doubt, for those misguided creatures who enjoy
the bracing ozone of the balsam-laden air. To Smith the pungent sap of
the evergreen tree was a poor substitute for the stimulating essence of
greenback, the cologne of greasy bills, and it would take a big pile of
them to make the room stuffy enough to have him raise the window.
When it came to drawing nigh to money, Mr. Smith was the pink of
Noting that Mr. Tescheron had been subdued, Mr. Smith started to go.
He bade his patron to be of good cheer, and promised him the outlook
would surely brighten in time.
Keep your seat a minute, Smith, urged Mr. Tescheron, whose ideas
had been strengthened by the tonic of Smith's stimulating rejoinder,
and I may add that the turn was about what Smith had planned to happen.
What are those papers you put back in your pocket? The observing,
gullible man of business was trying to swim where the current was a
little too swift for him.
Why, I had here a memorandum of what it would cost to have you go
back and have the whole business hushed up forever.
Three thousand dollars.
Whew! That's a scorcher.
Flanagan wanted six, but I got next to him myself and I thinkI'm
not surebut I think he would take three.
I can't think of it. I'll give a thousand, but not a cent more. And
sayhow much do you keep out of it, Smith?
Mr. Tescheron cast a suspicious eye on the detective, who proceeded
to apply his formula for suspicion.
That is an insult, Mr. Tescheron, exclaimed Mr. Smith. You may
not have intended it as such, but really that is too much for me to
bear. I have served you untiringly and faithfully, and really you
should give me better treatment. I cannot allow you to insinuate that I
would be guilty of
There, there, Smith, forget it. I shouldn't have accused you of
that. But this expense is too heavy. I'll stay here a while longer. As
there seems to be no danger of the case being revived, I think we may
return in a week or so without paying the hush money.
Just as you say, but I confess the newspaper reports have scared
me, even though you
The reports! Tescheron colored and blanched in turn. The reports!
You saw them.
Certainly I did not. Where did they appear? When? Why have you not
But you read the papers, and I understood you did not fear them
while over here.
Fear them! What am I here for except to escape the scandal that
would attach to my family? Smith, are you lying to me? There were no
reports. Had there been I could not have missed them; my man King or
some one would have called my attention to them.
Mr. Smith handed a carefully folded newspaper clipping, with ragged
edges, to Mr. Tescheron. It had the appearance of being hastily torn
from a paper. Mr. Tescheron read it slowly, and as he did so Smith
watched the victim writhe as the prepared venom paralyzed it for the
death-blow. I have seen this clipping. It read as follows:
MURDER HIDDEN BY THE POLICE.
MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF A WOMAN NOT REPORTED FOR SIX WEEKS.
The mysterious death of a woman, supposed to have been murdered
apartment house in this city by her husband, two days prior to
incendiary fire that took place six weeks ago and destroyed all
traces of the crime, was considered by the Grand Jury to-day,
Coroner Flanagan as one of the witnesses. The names of the
concerned in the tragedy could not be learned at the Central
and Coroner Flanagan refused to give any details concerning the
autopsy. He admitted, however, that the matter had been called
attention anonymously, and his subsequent investigations had led
to report the matter to the Central Office. The police say that
publicity at this time might make it impossible for them to
the presence of the murderer, who has been found in a Western
As the case has reached the Grand Jury, an indictment may follow
A well-known merchant who has been absent from the city since the
date of the fire is in some way said to be involved as an
On the back of the clipping, Mr. Tescheron's dazed eyes noted a
market report dated at Chicago, but he did not scan the paper more
closely. Nervously he handed it to Smith. When he had pondered a moment
I'll pay it.
What should I do with myself? That was my problem, when I went out
into the world again. No boarding-house could satisfy me, so I
determined to set up in light housekeeping, which is a city imitation
of Robinson Crusoe in two rooms. There I could be melancholy without
interruption; it would not be necessary to chatter with the other
boarders either to keep them from observing my absent-mindedness or to
divert my own attention from the dull routine of cannery products,
synthetic meats, and laid down eggslaid only a little way down by
the hen and away down in a barrel by a man under water-glass for eight
months and eight cents more per dozen. Besides, if you keep house in
the city an arrangement may be made with your milkman so that you may
irrigate your milk to suit yourself. You simply request him to deliver
the water he usually blends with the milk in a separate vessel, which,
of course, you are glad to provide. Then if you get only a pint of
cow's milk for the price of a quart, you are satisfied, because you
have the privilege of seasoning it by superior home-methods of
irrigation to suit yourself. I was too much of a farmer to ever board
comfortably in the city.
Jim always agreed with me in those days before nervousness induced
by woman drove us through fire and over the bumpy paths of error, that
housekeeping was the ideal life. Knowledge of what the people will
stand is power, and it has packed some powerful doses in cans. They
used to throw away half the hog until they got knowledge. Some epicure
who lived on rats and bats' eyes, announced that the black spot in the
oyster is the best part. What he had to say was published in a bulletin
or a reportlet me see, was it from the Department of Agriculture?
I've read a good many of their bulletins, but I can't be sure if they
did that for the country or not. At any rate, the report went into
oysters from away back, quoted authorities from Egypt and Persia, who
were fond of dogs, and gave the needed impetus to the captains of the
canning industry, who are always on the lookout for pointersor pugs.
Since then all the black spots have been saved on the farm, whether in
hogs or apples, done up at some factory in neat glass jars, with a
chemist's certificate that they do not contain boracic acid or
turpentine, and will not eat the enamel off a stew-kettle; sterilized,
gold-labeled and rechristened Meadfern crab apples, mince-meat,
gelatine, invalid's food and what not, until it is hard to tell where
the economy will stop. The latest thing in this line is the current
information that it pays to feed the stimulating prickers from the wild
gooseberries to make the hens lay.
I once asked a fellow who ran a cannery why he used such expensive
To please the goats, he answered.
And so his business is largely human nature, too. We laugh at the
foolish goats for eating the label off a canwe eat the same thing
ourselves. When I come to drink the bitter hemlock, I pray it may be
labeled so as to take the pucker out of it.
I would rather starve than board, so I started out to find my desert
You advertise rooms for light housekeeping, said I to a sad-faced,
middle-aged woman, who answered my ringing of the bell of a three-story
brownstone house in East Thirty-eighth Street. Some prosperous merchant
had probably lived there twenty years before, but it had been converted
into a nest for workers.
[Illustration: YOU ADVERTISE ROOMS FOR LIGHT HOUSEKEEPING.]
Yes, sir, she replied. Two back rooms.
What floor? I asked, having in mind the force of gravity.
Second floor. How many in your family?
You keep house alone?
Certainly. I know how.
Don't you find it lonesome?
I hope so. I want to be lonesome.
Well, I don't know. She hesitated and looked me over with great
care. Have you anybody to recommend you?
I see that you doubt my sanity, madam. My nerves are a little out
of line; I have just left the hospital and must be quiet. Do you see?
If you must have references, I work for the Department of Health.
Oh, that's all right, then, if you work for the Department of
The rooms suited me. The small hall-room was the kitchen, and the
larger room was the living-room, equipped with one of those furniture
alligators and diabolical economizers of space, a folding bed, and a
few chairs bravely presenting a polished but brittle front, under the
bracing influence of the gluepot, as I afterward learned. Every time
one of those chairs broke down under me, my heart also went out to the
poor soul, Mrs. Dewey, the landlady, who made her living by pinching a
profit out of every penny. She was a generous creature, so far as she
could be; but a hard world's exactions squeezed her to a meanness she
herself detested, but must practice or starve. When I think long of
poor Mrs. Dewey, whom I knew for only a few weeks, I want to begin life
over again as a reformer. I'd take an axe to Mr. Dewey, and begin my
reforms on him as a typical subject in need of annihilation, and get as
far as a man a few centuries ahead of his time might expect to.
Old Deweythe Mr. Dewey herein before referred towas the black
background and cellar of the institution. Like a rat, he came from the
coal heap or a hidden corner unawares and was gone into further
darkness before you could turn to learn the cause of the noise he made.
His shadowy participation in home management contributed to the
family's progress as a millstone about the neck of its mistress, and
did not follow over-stimulation, the common cause of chronic depression
in husbands of boarding-house keepers and women who rent furnished
rooms. Bone-laziness filling the marrow and changing its natural pink
to a Roquefort verdigris of decay, was my diagnosis of old Dewey's
ailment. He moved with a premeditation which nine times out of ten
amounted to standing still; rest resulted from two opposing forces,
Mrs. Dewey's beseeching and threats colliding with his will traveling
against her purpose with counter-balancing velocity and mass. A hired
man would have left her long ago under such tongue-lashing, but old
Dewey could not leave, because to leave is an act. There were no verbs
in his vocabulary comprehending possibilities of usefulness within
range of the present tense. What an irony in names! I often thought.
A man who is employed in the Department of Health has a pass to the
good wishes of a woman who rents a house in New York. Mrs. Dewey
regarded me as a person of influence with the governing powers, one who
could probably get her landlord to do something with the old-fashioned
bathtub by prying him through the official lever of departmental
requirements. It was far from my purpose to deceive her, but nothing I
could say in denial was strong enough to change her conviction. My
presence under her roof induced in Mrs. Dewey a state of expectancy
over a new enameled bathtub that carried with it at first more
deference than she paid to the other tenants. When my milk-bottle fell
off the back window-sill into the yard below, she swept up what the cat
left without complaining.
A few short weeks before I was a man with some confidence in my
fellows; life had its charms, hope sustained me. Rosy views are for
those whose faith has not been shattered. Optimism could find no
support in my bitter experiences. Hermits may find seclusion in crowds,
thought I. No one could find me at my new address, and it was my
intention to seek no new friends, and to avoid every one I knew. I did
not want to answer questions about Jim, and I did not want to hear
anything more of him. I had read all the published accounts of the fire
and was glad to note that the secret had not been revealed. As for Miss
Tescheron, she had probably lost faith in him and suspected me by this
time. As I could not explain to her my change of heart toward Jim
without implicating myself, I proposed to wash my hands of the whole
affair and go it alone in futurefor a time at any rate. Should I not
write to her and thank her for sending flowers to me when I was ill?
Was it not the grateful thing to do? I had written Hygeia and no reply
came. I had quite a bunch of Jim's letters on hand also to demonstrate
my powers as a letter-writer. Writing, I concluded, was not fortunate
for me. It would be better to have Miss Tescheron regard me as an
ungrateful wretch, a fit associate of the scoundrel who had toyed with
Robinson Crusoe started his island home with about as many clothes
as I had when I left the hospital. It was fortunate that the city was
such a kind employer; that my pay went on while I was ill, and that my
connection with the Health Department secured the best hospital service
at a nominal charge. I ordered a new trunk and a new outfit of clothing
the day after my arrival, and when the clothes came I proceeded to try
them on, but there was no fun in it without Jim to guy me. I fought
hard to keep that fellow out of my mind, but he was with me day and
night. I could not get away from him and my sorrow. Was it his ghost
hovering near, longing to return to its earthly habitation, and propose
a housekeeping merger with me? My fried onions might have penetrated
the other world and recalled him with such longings, for there are
worse places than home at dinner-time.
Mrs. Dewey entered one day and found me with my feet on the
window-trim and the rest of me crouched in the most substantial rocker.
I was smoking and cogitating. It was so quiet and I was so far out of
sight that she did not know I was there until she started to dust the
chair. The smoke had not suggested my presence, for old Dewey was
always doing thathe had learned how when young, and so it was no
Oh, excuse me, I didn't know you were in the room. You're always so
quiet, she said.
Sorrow makes a man quiet.
Sorrow? Yes, you're right; but what have you
Yes, I have much, I answered. I know your tragedy, but you can't
guess mine. You have my sympathy, and if I could help you I would; but
you can't help me.
Some woman, Mr. HopkinsI did not think you were married. You must
No, said I, and I spoke slowly, with some choking. I have been
wronged by a man, a friend in whom I had faith; with whom I lived for
ten years. We were closer than brothers. He deserted me in my hour of
needbut go on with your dusting; what matters it? I tell you so that
you may understand why I feel so badly. Heaviness grows upon me, so
that I doubt if I shall ever see the bright side of things again.
Mrs. Dewey wiped away the tears from her careworn face.
Ten weeks ago, I continued, we parted, and he has fled, branded
as a criminal in my eyes, by evidence which no one can doubt. I am
alone, despondent, and insanity or hard work must be my escape. As I
cannot get my mind on my business, I fear the worst. The blow is more
than I can bear.
Pshaw! You're only a young man. You don't know what sorrow is. When
you spoke so sad, you brought a tear to my eye, but I never let the
tears get the best of me. I think you are weak in body yet. You need
better food. You don't eat right. You ought to go out to some good
restaurant and get three square meals a day. You have the money to pay
for them, and you ought to do it.
Eat! Don't speak of eating. My appetite is all gone. Some day I may
get over this dismal feeling and take your kind advice, but not now.
Men have no grit. It takes a woman, I'm thinking, to carry a
heart-load. If it was a woman you were worrying about, I'd coddle you a
little; but I never knew a man who ran away from his friends who was
worth a tear. You'll soon see the folly of it.
I don't blame you for hating all men, said I, knowingly. You
judge the sex by the specimen you have at home. All women do the same
at your age.
You're crazy, now, Mr. Hopkins, blurted the woman, her anger
quickly rising. Two days in my house and you undertake to advise me
against my husband with whom I have lived in peace for twenty-five
years. Have I given you license to interfere in my affairs? You
astonish me with your impertinence! You amaze me! No man has ever dared
to offer me such an insult! I will have you understand, sir, that Mr.
Dewey is my husband, and I will allow no one to slightingly refer to
him in my presence. She was heaving and grasping the broom pretty
firmly. I crawled into a farther chair.
Why, madam, I overheard you in the hall this morning berating him
as the laziest vagabond that ever breathed, and you prayed
Never mind. He's my husband. When I want some one to interfere,
I'll go to a lawyer, who's in that business. I won't peddle my troubles
to strangers. If you haven't any more sense than to interfere in our
affairs, you must be crazy now, and if I were you I wouldn't worry
about getting crazy.
Mrs. Dewey passed out and slammed the door.
I wanted to go right down and jump off the dock when this
counter-irritant blistered me and her tonic bitters were poured into my
lethargic circulation. Stimulation brought a reaction of brighter
views, however. Mrs. Dewey's old-fashioned drubbing held the mirror so
that I could behold a life-sized burro every time I looked into it.
There never can be any use for a middleman, before or after the
marriage contract, thought I. Shame took the place of conceit; my pride
was humbled and fear was swept away. I mended with amazing rapidity
under the earnest eloquence of that short sermon, delivered by a woman
with a broom.
Four of the happiest weeks of their lives, Gabrielle and Jim spent
with the Gibsons in their Produce Exchange tower, far out of the way of
enemies, if any there might be in pursuit. Gabrielle had confided in
Mrs. Gibson, and was urged by her to bring Jim there to convalesce, as
the doctor said he ought not to walk much for two or three months. The
lovers were delighted to transfer their trysting place to those
romantic quartersa castle tower in the heart of New York, surrounded
by a harbor moat, and an elevator which served well the purpose of a
bridge leading to the portcullis of the upper floors. Mr. and Mrs.
Gibson, and their daughter, the winsome Nellie, were delighted to have
them as visitors, and entered into their defense against the cruel
father and his co-conspirators, the faithless chum and the unfeeling
world in general, with hearty warmth, cheering Gabrielle and filling
the soul of Jim with heavenly contentment. There he had met his darling
and the spot would be sacred to him always; it was doubly blessed when
her sweet voice sounded near him within its walls, and her tender
glances drew fond response from his eyes. On the floors below they sold
grain and bulletined the price of tallow at five and one-half cents
for city; but in the far-away tower the din of the wheat pit was not
heard. From the round windows the ships of commerce appeared to ride
the tide care-free as the darting gulls that dived for their prey or
swung on resting wings in broad circles from shore to shore. Dreams
fairer than those lovers pictured in quiet ecstasy have never been
outlined by brush or melodious line. Just a little cube of heaven had
been caught from the realms of bliss, and they dwelt together there for
Now, four weeks in heaven is a very brief period. Whole eternities
pass there in what seems to be an interval too brief to record on
Cupid's chronometer. Joy in my lady's tower, traveling with swift,
winged feet, marks not the hour like Terror in the castle dungeon,
where the outcast prisoner lies upon the damp stones writhing in
feverish despair. While they were up in heaven together, I was down
inthe hospital or at Mrs. Dewey's. Mr. and Mrs. Tescheron were at
home in Ninety-sixth Street. The bill of folly had been paid and Mr.
Tescheron hoped the episode had closed, although Gabrielle's manner
continued to indicate that she had not suffered so deeply as the
strength of her attachment to the outlaw had led him to believe she
would. What was the secret? He did not ask her, for having paid nearly
$5,000 (more, but he didn't know it), working along his own lines, he
did not care to admit that his daughter had outgeneraled him. A
premonition that she had done so prepared him in moments of reflection
to hear the truth. He fought against the concept every time it flashed
before him, but with weakening strength, as the outclassed fighter
staggers groggily to the ropes. What match was he, what adversary I,
for Cupid, lacking the inspiration the god gave to his faithful
adherents? If you ask me why I am so familiar with Mr. Tescheron's
fears and numerous other matters recorded here, I make reply that I
have investigated all the sources of information in any way connected
with these events, and have drawn out the persons who were involved in
Hosley's career by many conversations. If this statement does not
satisfy, then I have one that will. I quote that great authority,
William Makepeace Thackeray, who tells us in Vanity Fair that a
novelist is supposed to know everything, and am I not treating the
subject as a novelist, using for the most part fictitious names and
places to shield from public ridicule the good people whose judgment
may seem weak, and actions exaggerated, in the temperature of cold type
scanned by prudent, judicial-minded readers? Icebergs will boil under
certain conditions. Human beings, I find, have their solid, liquid and
gaseous states. Be not surprised, therefore, if Tescheron, frigid when
surrounded by his cracked ice and cold-storage products at the fish
market, becomes pliable or volatile material in Hoboken under the heat
of fear and temper, and, before cooling, is wrought into strange shapes
by the artisan, Smith. Poor Tescheron! Innocently I made him pay a
pretty penny! But he needed a good hammering.
Gabrielle, are you really to be married against your father's
wishes, my dear? asked Mrs. Gibson, sadly, drawing Gabrielle to her.
Could we not win him over to our view of Jim? Should we not try?
Mrs. Gibson, Gabrielle, Nellie and Jim were in the large tower
sitting-room at the time of this questioning. No, Mrs. Gibson; and
Gabrielle was most serious as she spoke. My father will in time come
to admire Jim as you do; I know father so well. Mother and I understand
him. He jumps at conclusions regarding people for whom he has a
dislike, and time and again has acknowledged to me how he regretted his
haste. In good time father will ask my forgiveness. Not before the
wedding, though, I fear; but I hope on. It is my intention to proceed,
with mother's approval.
Almost an elopement, laughed Nellie, ready for a wedding as
eagerly as an opposed bride.
Not quite, though, for mother will be there, smiled Gabrielle.
I'll be there without these crutches, said Jim, dropping his
supports to the floor, while he made an effort to stump across the room
and demonstrate that he could creep to the tune of a wedding march.
You'll do, Jim, said Nellie, as she took him by the arm to support
him, and aired the Lohengrin selection. You are just speedy enough
to-day. In three weeks you will be able to run.
Only three weeks off! exclaimed Mrs. Gibson. How the time passes!
We must hurry. Nellie, go at once to the dressmaker's and get her
positive assurance that our gowns will be ready. And you, too, have so
much to do, Gabrielle.
The more time the more there is to do always, said Gabrielle. A
bride is never quite ready, but in three weeks I am sure I shall be, if
I am not disappointed by all the people I have engaged to help me. But
let us think no more of our worries. You have not told me what
impression those two gowns made that came last night. Didn't you see
them? Let me show them to you.
Gabrielle brought out the gowns, and the critics went into tucks,
trimmings, opalescent spangles, Malines lace, China-ribbed embroidery
and many other bewildering technicalities. One of the dresses was all
white, fashioned out of net, and was ribbon-sashed, girdled, looped,
shirred, tucked, tuck-shirred, shirr-tucked, fulled, grilled, padded,
scrolled, rolled, appliquéd, tasseled, rosetted, knotted, banded,
edged, picot-edged, ruffled, plaited, bowed, buckled, buckle-bowed,
yoked and choked with ribbon. It was a pretty gown, and a hat and muff
built on the same style went with it. The hat was to be held in place
by long streamer ribbonsI think eighteen inches widetied in a bow
to be knotted over the left ear, and ramify from the chin-dimple to the
crest of the hair-wave. Eiderdown, lightly packed in a hollow cylinder
about the size of a pint preserving jar, covered with ten-inch frills
of chiffon, pieced out with ribbon, wadded negligé, were points that
made the muff more dainty than warm. The combination was designed to be
worn without the muff on an ocean boardwalk about sunset, when the wind
dies down. Cosy comfort was to be supplied by the muff on a windy day,
for only a real mermaid could wear a plain fish net in all kinds of
It's a most stunning affair! exclaimed Nellie, admiring with close
scrutiny all the fine points in the shirring, hemstitching and
Very airy, but pretty, was Mrs. Gibson's view. What is it to be
worn over? Oh, I see; this beautiful soft white taffeta. Well,
Gabrielle, you will look a bride with that gown, I am sure.
That is one of the fine things I have gained by delay. If we had
been married five weeks ago, I would not have thought of this gem. And
the girls laughed, while Jim looked on in surprised delight. The
details of dressmaking he was not competent to discuss.
Why does it take so many clothes to get married? asked Jim,
evidently not understanding that every event in a woman's life is a peg
for more clothes.
What a strange question! How foolish, Jim! exclaimed the women.
Don't you know that a wedding is a ceremonial affair, where all the
grand formalities must be observed? asked Nellie. You wouldn't have
us scuffle through it in old shoes and walking skirts, would you?
Jim's notion of getting married, said Gabrielle, is extremely
primitive. For my part, I like nice things. I'm so sorry they do not
appeal to Jim. Gabrielle feigned disappointment.
I should say they did appeal to me, Jim hastily assured the
critics. They are so surprising!
Surprising! How so? asked Nellie.
Like a sunrise, I suppose, answered Jim. I've never seen many,
but those who have rave over them. What a pity the styles change so
often! Next year the net in that dress will all have to be taken off
and put in place of the bead trimming on the lamp shades; the bead
trimming must then be sent to Staten Island and dyed green to make it
proper for hat ornamentation, a necklace or
Amber is the proper color for a necklace, laughed Mrs. Gibson.
Nellie cut her teeth on amber beads.
Then they all laughed, and Jim saw that it was good policy to admire
without attempting to suggest reforms.
And this silk gauze affair, what is this? asked Nellie. My! it is
so light you could mail it for a cent.
That is just a cobweb I fancied, said Gabrielle, proudly, as she
gently shook out the folds of a light creation. How beautifully it
fits and yet it affords such freedom!
It's an Empire modification, remarked Nellie, who discerned the
basic neck-waisted feature of the cobweb's architecture. Lovely short
Bad for mosquitoes, said Jim.
Hush! admonished Gabrielle. We can't restrict art to such
If it really is a cobweb, the mosquitoes won't go near it, said
Jim. Perhaps the designer had that in mind when he cut down the
What a heavy lace insertionValenciennes, a good part of it, isn't
it, Gabrielle? asked Mrs. Gibson. Why, it's simply beyond words, I
Three deep embroidered flounces, and such frills and frills of
lace! My! It's grand! So Nellie believed and declared.
Jim's imagination was not fired. I hope I never step on it, he
Don't you dare! commanded Nellie. This cobweb is meant to catch
the eye onlynot a whole man.
While Jim was laughing and attempting to thrust his opinions still
farther upon the critics, they restored the art treasures to the boxes
and placed them in the store-room, where the bride's purchases were
gathering day by day as they arrived from the shopping district.
Fortunately, the tower was larger than it appears from Broadway, or it
would not have held all the packages and allowed the Gibsons room to
Nellie had forgotten the dressmaker, but now started, and Mrs.
Gibson resumed her household duties in another room.
Gabrielle, you are making altogether too much preparation, said
Jim. You have undertaken too much. With your regular duties I can see
that it is wearing on you. Could you not be satisfied with less
shopping and less dressmaking?
No, Jim, it is not this preparation that burdens me, she replied,
seating herself at the side of her lame hero.
Tell me what it is, thenis it that miserable fancied conspiracy
against me? I thought your father had forgotten that now.
He believes that you are gone, and yet I can see that he knows what
I am about to do; at least I fear so. Mother may have told him, for I
have confided in her everything but telling her where you are.
Naturally, Jim, I feel sad not to have my father's support in this
matter. But we shall have his good-will later on, I am sure. In the
meantime I am made unhappy by his present attitudehow can I help it?
I know he is wrong
Gabrielle, you have firmly refused to tell me just what it is your
father has against me. Time and again I have asked, but I cannot learn,
and of course I cannot imagine what his flight to Hoboken was for. He
charges me with some crimebut in heaven's name, what crime? Come,
Gabrielle, do tell me now, won't you?
Jim, have I not always told you in reply to your questioning that
the charges made against you by my poor, misguided father and Mr.
Hopkins are too absurd to repeat? If I should tell you now, it would
only prove my father to be a hot-headed man, one who is so easily
misled by those who arouse his fears. Let it all rest with my statement
that his position is taken because of those absurd conclusions. Then it
will not be necessary for me to make my dear father appear ridiculous.
I shan't think that, said Jim, softly. It appeared that he could
say or do nothing to extricate himself from the work of the plotters,
whose shadows disappeared as he drew nigh. But if you would only give
me, the accused, a chance to make a defense, I could incidentally prove
Hopkins innocent and have him at our wedding. That I should like to do.
It pains me more than I can tell to ignore that poor chap. I often
wonder where he is, and think myself a coward and an inhuman scoundrel
not to make an effort to find him.
Why do you bother about him, Jim? Didn't the nurse hurry us from
the hospital that day because she said Mr. Hopkins had told her you
were a rogue? Don't you see that both father and he have been impressed
by the story of those villainous detectives, who would do anything for
Well, Gabrielle, tell me what those detectives have told your
father about me. He has told you, has he not? Have these charges raised
no suspicion in your mind against me? Are you not anxious to question
me? How proud, then, I am to have won the heart of such a grand little
Before he could wait for replies to his questions the burly invalid
clutched his chair, rose to his feet and stretching out his arms
gathered up his treasure of loyalty and fondly caressed her. How
fortunate for me, he continued, that your heart has not been poisoned
against me! How priceless this love of yours! for without it I should
not be saved. Let the whole world forsake me, and you remain true, what
care I? Gabrielle, you have guarded me like an angel.
Jim could say no more. He choked and could not go on. Was sincerity
to be doubted when so emphasized? Could there be aught of guile in that
Jim, I have never doubted youI never could doubt you, for do I
not know your heart as you know mine? assured Gabrielle, meeting his
frank eyes steadily with hers. You are my plain hero, untrumpeted,
except by all your friends who have known you here for years. Never ask
me again of the base charges father has listened to. I trust my love,
which I see answered in those boyish eyesin every kind word and act.
Jim, I love you and we shall be married; we shall plan our own life in
the light of this love, and doing that we have naught to fear. We shall
welcome true friends, who will be loyal to us because we are loyal to
our own ideals, and so father shall be won to us, and Mr. Hopkins may
turn toward us again. Our troubles are largely our fears, Mr. MacDonald
says, and I believe him. How foolish to fear when we may enjoy repose
through faith and love!
Gabrielle, my darling, you will never again be questioned by me. So
long as you have faith, let the rest of the world go hang! Poor Ben
Hopkins, I would like to see him, though.
I give no notice here as to when the embrace released. It is quite
possible that it continued until late in the afternoon, with
hand-holding modifications, when Nellie returned and sang loudly in
another room for warning and company. The fleeting hours that the happy
pair looked out from one of those magic windows are not to be recorded
in detail. A lover's log-book is unknown. The fears and conspiracies
that might have harassed them found no leverage of doubt to pry an
entrance into Gabrielle's heart. Every wave of the higher air wafted
from Trinity's steeple, brought them the joy of marriage bells. Even
without a lame leg, Jim would never have thought of running away from
The wedding was to take place in the afternoon of Wednesday, only
three weeks off. Mr. Tescheron was to be notified in due time that it
would be held at the Episcopal church to which the family belonged.
That part of the ceremony calling for the giving away of the bride
would be omitted. Only a few relatives and dear friends would be
present, and they would understand Gabrielle's purpose to marry the man
of her choice. The affair would be clouded with sadness, they all
believed (except Jim); but Gabrielle was determined not to hide the
opposition of her father. She was determined to have her wedding about
as she had planned from childhood in the little church she loved, and
up to the very minute of the fixed hour she would hope and pray to have
her father there full of repentance and forgiveness. Mr. Tescheron was
to be told by her one week prior to the wedding. Thus he was to be
given one week alone with his conscience to settle the question whether
he should accept an invitation to his daughter's wedding. More than a
week's notice, Gabrielle believed, would inflict unnecessary cruelty
and less than a week grant hardly enough time for him to retrace his
Mrs. Tescheron, poor soul, spent many hours in tears, her faith and
pride in her daughter sustaining her through the hours of preparation.
The day of the wedding she dreaded, and she doubted if she would bear
up when the climax of the strain came. Firmness prompted by kindness,
the wife and mother understood to be necessary in dealing with the
irascible head of the family, and she therefore quietly acquiesced in
this policy when administered by their only child. She had never been
able to successfully make her will dominant in the household on that
principle, perhaps because she had begun by surrendering to him the
first few times he was mastered by his temper in the early days of
married life, like most wives do surrender. The baby is generally much
better brought up in the family than the father. My observation as a
bachelor teaches me that every wife should take a husband in hand like
a childcoddle him, keep him in after dark, put him to bed very early
full of hot gruel when he sneezes or falls asleep after dinner; if he
complains of a draught give him a steaming foot-bath and one or two
mustard plasters, those gentle love-taps of family life, that
lingeringly long tell of devotion; and when he has any inclination to
do anything except smile, pounce upon him and trundle him into some
sort of medicated misery, tenderly but firmly.
I could name a dozen good husbands, men of eagle eye in the market
place, who stand pat in good nature at home, because their wives make
little or no discrimination between the babies and their papa. Mrs.
Tescheron was fortunate in her daughter, however, and in later years
was relieved as the child grew to lead them. The mother determined with
as much strength of purpose as she could summon, to rely upon Gabrielle
to find the way out in this emergency, as the daughter had in all
The day Mr. Tescheron was to receive notification of the wedding in
his immediate family came so quickly the announcement could not be made
in the morning. Gabrielle needed the day to prepare, for while she was
brave, the meeting with her father must bring tears of disappointment.
Perhaps the glowering skies made postponement easy. Better the night
for sorrow, thought she, and then hurried down-town, her hands full of
small packages containing bits of finery not available to enter into
the ornamentation of the dressmaker's conceptions in silk and lace.
These must be exchanged for other shades, and the light of a cloudy day
was not suitable for matching colors; her feminine mind turned to the
more important details of preparation.
As she entered the office her thoughts were wholly away from the law
of her country and its business operations. The gowns that were to be
fitted and the untrimmed hats loomed larger than the intricate
questions in various states of litigation that came under her
supervision. In a week she was to pass from this realm of worldly
detail, and would assume the larger rôle of wife, better equipped by
freedom and the good uses she had made of its opportunities. Still the
hats and gowns must not be ignored by any high-flown philosophy. She
was about to hitch her wagon to a star, to be a whole woman, the head
of a home and all that; but what would we think even of the president
of Sorosis if she appeared in last year's sleeves?
Among her letters that morning, Gabrielle found one from Hygeia, and
regretted that she must place it with her packages as soon as she
glanced at the name, for there was no time to read it then; perhaps in
a car she would find the time. Letters written at leisure in the
country and read in the crowded city cars lose their native sweetness.
Such as I have ever received from there must be opened tenderly and
read slowly far from the throng.
By one o'clock the mills of Justice ceased to claim the attention of
Gabrielle. Two hours were spent in the stores, every minute consumed in
the closest study of fabrics, miles of floor-walking and volumes of
questioningall composing the art and science of shopping, the one
sphere in which woman can carry the weight of a fur cloak and do a
hundred-yard dash or a mile run to the most distant department, while
her man companion takes his coat off and worms his way twenty feet to
the necktie counter, which is always found opposite the main entrance.
Ten feet farther in, it would fail. Gabrielle shopped with system, to
save time, and then used the time she saved to shop some more.
Not long after three o'clock on that memorable Wednesday, Mrs.
Gibson, Nellie and Gabrielle gathered around the enthroned Jim in his
castle retreat to talk it all over again for the thousandth time.
The wedding ring fitted the first time we tried it, and so do all
my clothes, ties, gloves and hats, said Jim, with a smile intended to
aggravate argument. It is no trouble at all for me to get married.
You're not original, though, laughed Nellie. Originality, you
know, takes time, thought and effort. Gabrielle will outshine you.
Of course, she will, said Jimif there is anything left of the
poor girl to wear these things.
Oh, don't fear that, Jim, Gabrielle advised. This is great fun.
The stores always seem to be filled with women, remarked Jim. Are
they all about to get married, I wonder?
Those who go the earliest and stay the longest are women who are
getting ready for the fourth trip, said Mr. Gibson, the jolly father,
whose grim face belied his heart. He had entered in time to catch Jim's
query. It's a case of accelerated motion, he added.
The girls laughed and chided him for his wantonly cruel words. They
chatted along merrily for an hour, first about this trifle and then
that, completely under the influence of the glorious event, without one
thought being given to the cloud, as big as a postman's hand, among
Gabrielle's packages, for they did not see it there.
The happy prospective bridegroom, who had escaped the dire fate the
letters threatened to throw across his path by dodging beneath the
quilts at the hospital, was now full of the heroism that thrives in
peace. The calamity which seemed prepared to fall upon him in the hour
of his greatest happiness, Fate had tossed aside, and his star
combination proved to be intact and in good working order. Trouble had
gathered near in murky concentration for a few minutes that anxious
day, but when Hygeia passed out of the door of his room to answer my
bell, the knight stood forth with visor up, resumed his normal color,
and gradually his power of speech. Those old breadcrumbs cast upon the
waters of love years before had washed ashore at a most untimely
moment, thought he; but the audience had not reached the end to ponder
on the writer's name. A miss was as good as a mile in slipping between
the cup and the lip.
But the course of true love is a rugged path to the close of the
ceremony; beyond, it is still more rugged, and the surrounding country,
they say, is often wild and desolate, and quite unlike the park
gardening and its beckoning vistas to be seen along Lovers' Lane before
the turn in the road at the altar.
A cloud no larger than the tiny mist from the whistle of one of
those tooting tugs familiar in the harbor scene was gathering while the
sun shone so brightly in the tower apartment. An electric shock will
gather and burst a cloud large enough to bring midnight and deluge at
noonday. Mr. Gibson understood the importance of lightning arresters,
but was not prepared to apply them in his home. The women could do
nothing; and, of course, I, the only person in the world who might have
transformed the current to a harmless voltage, had been shunned as an
Then came the lull before the hurricanethe soft whispering of the
wind in the tree-tops. Jim alone could see the havoc it raised along
the mountain ridge, foretelling by a few minutes the arrival of the
twisting and wrenching blast.
Oh, Nellie, you remember my telling about the gushy love-letters
the nurse read to us at the hospital, for our entertainment. Well,
here, please take this; she has sent another, which I see by a glance
is quite as good as the rest. Would you mind reading it aloud? and then
I ask you all to excuse me while I snatch a moment to read her long
In this way, Gabrielle believed she would solve the problem of time,
that had been so limited that busy day.
Why, certainly; let us have the pleasure, and go ahead with your
reading. Nellie was always ready to entertain the company.
But Gabrielle did not advance more than a few lines with Hygeia's
accompanying letter. The Gibson family were so delighted with Nellie's
reading of my celebrated collaboration with Lord Byron, constructed by
the drip of my pen welding some of the choicest gems of the inspired
poet to bring together the hearts of Jim and that fair Margaret, it was
quite out of the question for Gabrielle to withdraw from the fun. She
became as attentive as the other auditors and added her applause to
sustain the clever elocutionist. Comment flowed freely from all except
Jim at nearly every interruption.
Father, this is supposed to be the proper way to make love, said
Nellie, and she began to read:
'My Darling Margaret:
'Your letter of this morning bids me with many playful thrusts
more hopeful during your absence, which you say will be brief in
paragraph and in another that it will be about three months.
it possible for me to reconcile these statements? Three months
an eternity. The criminal bound and held beneath the spigot,
which water, drop by drop, pounds with thundering impact upon
head, and the idlers in sylvan dells, view time differently.
advice, though, shall be taken and followed with such will as I
able to command. Weakness, backsliding from my purpose to be as
cheerful as you wish, you must forgive. If you would have me
an even interest in life, undisturbed by the moaning which
into these letters, you know the sure, swift course to takethe
fastest express train to New York, and a telegram summoning me
depotthat is all.
'For the past two nights my sleep has been blessed with visions
lovely and hope inspiring. Fear has been driven away, to give
to fairer thoughts of you. Not to dream of you crowded the hours
absence too heavily upon me. Henceforth I am determined that you
shall be with me in my thoughts, tenderly ministering to me with
those eyes whose soft light I would have my steady beacons.
Margaret, their flickering, or the fear that they will flicker,
me almost crazy.
'Thy form appears through night, through day:
Awake, with it my fancy teems;
In sleep, it smiles in fleeting dreams
The vision charms the hours away,
And bids me curse Aurora's ray,
For breaking slumbers of delight,
Which make me wish for endless night;
Since, oh! whate'er my future fate,
Shall joy or woe my steps await,
Tempted by love, by storms beset,
Thine image I can ne'er forget.'
He pursued her hard, interrupted Mr. Gibson. I can remember when
I used to feel that way about girls, but I couldn't put it on paper.
Indeed! exclaimed Mrs. Gibson. What you put on paper would never
compromise you. The name of the man who wrote the letter, you
understand, father, is not known, and neither do we know the woman.
Still, I hardly think it can be one of yours, so I shan't worry. Go on,
Nellie had observed as she paused in her reading and glanced upward,
that Jim seemed much disturbed. He was very red and his eyes seemed to
be afire. But Gabrielle did not give any of her attention to Jim, and
Nellie was too busy with her task of deciphering my wretched manuscript
to interject a gay remark at Jim's expense. Jim moistened his lips,
wiped his beading brow, and nerved himself for the worst. There were
now no quilts for him to dodge under, and no acute pain to serve as a
standing account against which he might charge these evidences of the
anguish he could not conceal.
Nellie continued, and Gabrielle forgot all about Hygeia's letter.
This I think flattering to my style.
Listen! commanded Nellie, and again she read:
'Yes, my darling, dreaming always of you, night and day, surely,
surely, hope should inspire me. This is the place and now the
wander in love's enchanted realm. I shall not put off till your
home-coming the joys I would experience. Let my heart be a
and then I may be wafted to your side this minute and sit beside
from early morn till twilight and the even-song of birds softly
sweetly hint the flight of time. Yes
'He who hath loved not, here would learn that love,
And make his heart a spirit; he who knows
That tender mystery, will love the more:
For this is Love's recess, where vain men's woes,
And the world's waste, have driven him far from those
For 'tis his nature to advance or die;
He stands not still, but or decays, or grows
Into a boundless blessing, which may vie
With the immortal lights in its eternity!'
'And now, my darling, I must not forget to remind you that you
quite overlooked my request for a lock of your golden hair. You
acknowledged the receipt of mine, and asked why I did not tie it
a pretty ribbon instead of a piece of cotton thread.'
There is the lock of hair again! exclaimed Gabrielle. I saw it in
the other letter when Jim was at the hospital. It was a trifle lighter
than his. The poor girlI suppose she thought it more precious than
strands of pure gold.
Hair has a lot to do with love, Gabrielle, whispered Mr. Gibson.
Think what an uphill job it would have been for Jim with a bald head.
Never could have done it, said Jim, huskily, determined to break
in somewhere on a long chance that the letter would blow out to sea or
the Produce Exchange tower topple over.
'Haste, my sweetheart,' continued Nellie, 'is my excusehaste
which wholly disregards the trifling detail; but I see my error
and enclose a yard of blue ribbon to be converted by your deft
into a tight bow-knot where the unpoetic cotton now binds the
token of my love. I pray there may be enough left to gather a
generous lock of the golden tresses for which I yearn. You will
withhold them, will you, Margaret? What sweet thoughts proceed
'Can I forgetcanst thou forget,
When playing with thy golden hair,
How quickly thy fluttering heart did move?
Oh, by my soul, I see thee yet,
With eyes so languid, breast so fair,
And lips, though silent, breathing love.
'When thus reclining on my breast,
Those eyes threw back a glance so sweet,
As half reproached, yet raised desire,
And still we near and nearer prest,
And still our glowing lips would meet,
As if in kisses to expire.
'And then those pensive eyes would close,
And bid their lids each other seek,
Veiling the azure orbs below,
While their long lashes' darken'd gloss
Seemed stealing o'er thy brilliant cheek,
Like raven's plumage smoothed on snow.'
'While it may be true that absence makes the heart grow fonder,
there are limitations, believe me, to man's endurance. Three
will find me worn to a scant shadow, a mere tissue, so sharp
dial at noonday cannot point with finer finger the passage of
under the meridian wire. Only the first month is now waning, and
dare not look a weighing machine in the face, for fear I might
in the slot. I am not facetious, believe me, Margaret.
'Fear underlies my woe. Annoying images, at first vague, gather
strength of outline and haunt me like evil prophecies. Of
there is naught but fear to account for these distressing
but is it not as real when it wounds as the dagger's point? How
we banish the terrors that arise in lonely hours? In writing to
these thoughts as they flow from the deep reservoirs of my soul,
through the conduit of pen, in inky tracings on this fair page,
sweetest hours are spent. Here is an outlet that reduces in some
measure the roaring flood-waters, as strength abides to perform
necessary physical evolutions till repose comes o'er me; then I
into the Land of Nod through a lane of sweet magnolias, and
the rose-bedecked gates garlanded as if for the entry of a
his bride. You are with me then, and as the cheering populace
us, a herald stands forth and addresses you thus:
'She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes,
Thus mellowed to the tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
'And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.'
My! but he puts it on thick, gasped Nellie, pausing for breath.
Oh, pshaw! said her father; impossible to mix it too thick.
What would he have done without Lord Byron? asked Mrs. Gibson, who
gave me scant credit, apparently.
Well, Byron wouldn't mind, said Gabrielle, smiling. He would be
glad to help the cause along. The lover is strengthening his persuasion
with good poetry.
Nellie read more rapidly now, for she had learned many of my pen
'What a worldly fellow I was till your eyes met mine and brought
far, far up from the depths to the heights of contemplation. My
philosophy was naught. I saw not the beauty of life, for I was
in a wilderness of its petty distractions. Remembering our happy
together, why should their inspiration not sustain me now? At
time of parting
'I saw thee weepthe big bright tear
Came o'er that eye of blue,
And then methought it did appear
A violet dropping dew;
I saw thee smilethe sapphire blaze
Beside thee ceased to shine;
It could not match the living rays
That filled that glance of thine.'
'The feeling so tenderly expressed in that tear preceding the
holds me in thrall when I bid fear depart and wake no more the
of its dread. Let me rather fondle that cherished smile,
'As clouds from yonder sun receive
A deep and mellow dye,
Which scarce the shade of coming eve
Can banish from the sky;
Those smiles, into the moodiest mind,
Their own pure joys impart;
Their sunshine leaves a glow behind
That lightens o'er the heart.'
Would luck ever come? Would it ever come? What would be the outcome?
Jim tried to plan for the approaching emergency, but the best he could
do was to struggle to conceal the acute case of chills and fever then
torturing his weak body and adding confusion to his dazed mind. The
'All the deep feelings of the lover have been experienced by the
poets, and to them we must turn to find words attuned to the
harmonies surging within, clamoring for expression, where
just been born. These gifted singers have searched the human
only genius can and have given their songs as a universal
all who feel the melting murmurs. If there is aught of
their words, it belongs to me as the harper's music belonged to
when he craved it:
'My soul is darkoh! quickly string
The harp I yet can brook to hear;
And let thy gentle fingers fling
Its melting murmurs o'er mine ear.
If in this heart a hope be dear,
That sound shall charm it forth again;
If in those eyes there lurk a tear,
'Twill flow and cease to burn my brain.'
'And how natural, Margaret, it is for the man steeped in love as
am to search out consolation amid the sweet concord of poetry.
seeking the thought attuned to mine, I also say:
'But let the strain be wild and deep,
Nor let the notes of joy be first;
I tell thee, minstrel, I must weep,
Or else this heavy heart will burst;
For it hath been by sorrow nursed,
And ached in sleepless silence long;
And now 'tis doomed to know the worst
And break at onceor yield to song.'
'My writing is usually over at midnight, and when I have
from the corner, where I post the letter, I sit me down in the
darkness to ponder on what I have composed. How dull it seems to
then; how poorly expressed these sentiments too deep for words
mine, and not always within range of such poetry as I can find!
are so fleeting, too; some tender thought passes over me and for
moment I am lost in the rare atmosphere of mountain-tops to
summons me. When I come to tell of this magic wrought by your
innocent witchery, I find it quite impossible to explain, as the
essence of my heavenly flight is all so poetic and strange a
mortal like myself cannot interpret the feeling. It surely
that all men who love are so entranced. It must be that within
circle of your enchanting power a superior charm prevails:
'There be none of Beauty's daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters,
Is thy sweet voice to me;
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming.
'The moon is your partner in this mysterious midnight revel,
'And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o'er the deep,
Whose breast is gently heaving,
As an infant's asleep;
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee,
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer's ocean.'
'How wise, after all, your advice to be hopeful! The sweetest
moments of our lives are passing now while we are wrapped in our
devotion to each other. All sounds are sweet
''Tis sweet to hear
At midnight on the blue moonlit deep,
The song and oar of Adria's gondolier,
By distance mellowed o'er the water's sweep.
'Tis sweet to see the evening star appear;
'Tis sweet to listen to the night winds creep
From leaf to leaf; 'tis sweet to view on high
The rainbow, based on ocean, span the sky.'
Gabrielle now took up Hygeia's letter again. The rainbow of hope
based on ocean seemed to Jim to be disappearing beneath its watery
foundation. If Obreeon had appeared and offered to remove those letters
at that point, he might have doubled the price, and Jim would have paid
But the reader did not stop.
'Of course, I am interested,' read Nellie, 'in your daily
in the country, so do not chide me for not asking more
should like to know the number of cows your Uncle Reuben keeps,
if the cheese factory is running on full time. These items savor
rural thrift, and as the farmer is the backbone of the country,
would not eliminate himscratch him as it werefrom our
calculations. The cows, the cheese factory and Uncle Reuben,
stand in the dim background fading into the hazy purple of the
tree-lined brook, as I think of you, my May Queen, laughing, in
center of the picture. When I correspond with Uncle Reuben it
by telegram at my end of the line.
'Before I close to-night I must again assure you that a happier
of the outlook for the coming two months will be taken. Your
happiness must be mine:
'Well! thou art happy, and I feel
That I should thus be happy, too;
For still my heart regards thy weal
Stop, Nellie! James Hosley, you wrote that letter! Do you deny it?
Gabrielle Tescheron crumpled Hygeia's note in her clenched hand as
she said that, and arose, fastening her steady eyes on the crouching
form of the cripple, who appeared to cringe under the blast of the
storm. He had tried to be prepared, but he failed utterly when he
attempted to speak. He was seen to raise his hand and elevate his
eyebrows, but now words were impossible; a low murmur and heavy
breathing, an effort to stand and a surrender in despair to the
hopelessness of his fate, were all that marked Jim Hosley's resistance
to this accusation.
You wrote this letteryou wrote the othersdo you deny it?
This came quickly after the first question from her lips; her manner
completely changed, betraying the nervous strain under which she
suppressed her emotions, as she bravely faced the man for whom the
world had seemed a small sacrifice. Jealousy might have waged its
battle in privacy; but the revelation of a detestable crime so
convincingly corroborated by this letter from the nurse, whose pricking
conscience had at last reported my version of Hosley with her view of
the ownership and purpose of the damaging poetic documents, outlined to
Gabrielle's quick intelligence the method of a deep, patiently pursued
course of crime. Her father's claims, to which her deaf ears had been
turned in the ardor of youth, came now with terrible force to win
instant conviction. She would not falter in the crisis. The man should
be given a hearingbrief, to be surebut he should have it.
Speak! The command brought the Gibsons to their feet, but Jim was
paralyzed and dumb. After a long pause, he took all the responsibility
for my folly and pleaded:
I wrote it, Gabrielleand forgive me.
Then you must leave this house at once. You go your way and I shall
see you no more. I know it all now. This letter from the nurseMr.
Hopkinsmy fatherthey were right. I have been blind. You have
deceived me, just as you deceived this poor woman, whose awful fate I
know. Mr. and Mrs. Gibson and Nellieshe turned, grasping her
chairyou have been kind friends. If I have imposed on your
hospitality, you will forgive me
Unstrung and in tears, she threw herself into Mrs. Gibson's
outstretched arms, and Nellie and her mother, overcome with surprise
and grief, supported her as she walked into another room.
Hosley, I demand that you tell me what this means, said Mr.
Gibson, advancing, the lines of his stern face tightly drawn. He had
such faith in Gabrielle he could not doubt her wordsand yet he had
loved Jim Hosley these many years, and he could not, dared not, believe
that his faith in Jim was founded on a cleverly contrived imitation of
the finest qualities of manhood. What does this all meanthis
opposition of Tescheron, this sudden action of Gabrielle?
[Illustration: I WROTE IT, GABRIELLEAND FORGIVE ME.Page
Jim could only feebly remonstrate against the pursuing evil which
had clung close to his heels since the very day he had asked Mr.
Tescheron for his daughter's hand, he told Mr. Gibson; since the very
night of the fire; since the very night of my connection with the
problem when it began to develop as a simple affair of the heart.
Mr. Gibson, I wrote those letters years ago, foolishly, to be sure,
but innocently, believe me. They now appear to ruin me, he huskily
proceeded. But Gabrielle would be fair and forgive me that. No, it is
not that I wrote the lettersthere is something hidden. She will not
tell me what it is. I have begged her to tell me, but she will not. She
would only tell me she loved me when I entreated her to confide in me
the cause of her father's hatred. Now in a flash she infers something,
and I can see she believes her father, and joins him against me. Mr.
Gibson, bear with me a moment. Let me see her now
Mr. Gibson went to the door and called her softly.
His wife's voice was heard in reply:
Gabrielle has gone.
A shambling step along the floor of my hall one evening, long past
nine o'clock, aroused me from thoughts of Hosley, the man whose image
filled my home hours with a creeping shame and dread. A knock on my
door, the first since I had been living there, startled me.
Before I could advance, Jim Hosley stumbled in and braced his worn
body against the wall. He reached for my hand and I took it, and
forgave him everything I had suspected he had done, and every crime he
might have committed. The look on Jim Hosley's face that night would
have won the pardon of a cannibal chief; it would have halted a Spanish
inquisition, stayed the commune of Paris and wrung unadulterated,
anonymous pity from the heart of an Irish landlord or a monopolist. A
minute before I was for hanging Jim Hosley (provided my connection with
the case was not revealed). Now, when I saw him and felt his hand once
more in the grasp of comradeship, I was with him heart and soul, and
scoundrel though he might be, a lineal descendant of old Bluebeard,
perhaps, I stood ready to sharpen and pass his knives to him and assist
in any humble way a willing and obliging servant could to make the
business a success.
Ben, I have searched for you for three hours. Thank Heaven, I am
near you at last! I lay in the next room at the hospital, but Gabrielle
would not let me see you, were his first words.
In the hospital? With me in the next room? And Gabrielle
Yes, Ben; we can talk all night, and then we shan't understand. How
did those letters written to the girl
He flung himself into a chair. He was exhausted and ten years older.
Pain in his leg prompted him to ask me to remove his shoe. I helped him
into my dressing-gown, gave him a pipe, plenty of pillows in an easy
chair and fondled him like a prodigal son. I was never so glad to see a
mortal since I peeped into the world. The fatted calf's substitute, a
dish of pork and beans, was put to heat in a pan of water on the gas
stove. The coffee-pot was rastled under the tap to remove the early
morning aroma which clung to the grounds always left to await my
attention the following morning. The egg poacher, the toaster, the slab
of bacon, and a mince pie, bought an hour before to produce sleep, were
brought out and displayed to make a scene like the old days when joy
was unconfined, when women were mere theories and courtship a pastime.
Jim in his despair warmed up and actually smiled. That heart-ache
which had overwhelmed him and made life so unbearable when he entered,
gave way, and hope, with the smell of bacon and fried eggs, mounted
higher. Grief, powerful dynamo though it be, may be tickled by a
smaller onea square meal often brings its victim into line.
Jim, we'll take the night to talk this thing over. It will take all
that time for me to tell you that I am so mighty glad to see you again,
and besides, it will take time to eat as well, for you look to me as if
food was the one supply you had failed to connect with since that fire.
Tell me, Jim, how Gabrielle could keep you away? How could you allow a
woman to separate you from your old pal? Does it seem reasonable? And
yet you always were so innocently plausible I could never doubt you.
How did that happen? Tell me now, before I give you anything to eat. I
would like to feel a little more sure on that point.
I whistled and rattled on, perfectly charmed to be again under the
influence of that wife-slayer's magic smile or his potent frownit was
all the same to me.
I simply don't know, answered Jim. I can't tell you. I don't
know, Ben. I am easily led by Gabrielle. I was weak. Had I insisted
upon seeing you from the first, no matter what happenedbut there, let
it pass. I asked your help with her father. There I made a bad mistake.
You did somethingI don't know what it was exactly, but you put your
foot 'way down inyou upset me from the first. But let it pass. I'll
take all you can give me to eat and then we'll go at the thing again;
not where we left off the night we parted at the flat, but where we
stand now. Gabrielle, too, has forsaken me, Ben. He looked at me with
his mouth drawn down, his pinched face betraying surrender, his heavy
eyes burdened with care.
Forsaken you! How so? Was she not with you at the hospital?
Those letters to the Brown girl, in Thirty-eighth Street, are at
the bottom of it, Ben. I told you they would come back, if you wrote so
much. Those letters have ruined meruined me with the one woman I have
loved. The other womenthose to whom you wrote, you induced me to
fool. Don't you see you did, Ben? Those letters you signed my name to,
and gushed your poetry into like a stream from a fire-hose, swept me
off; all the women you wrote to thought they were crazy letters, Ben. I
never dared tell you that; but they all put me down for a fool, and as
I had no particular interest in them I took the blame, Ben. I never
supposed the letters could reach Gabrielle. I had them all in my bureau
drawer when the fire started. I forgot to burn themjust chucked them
in there when I got them back from Miss Brown. There must have been
over a hundred. And, blowed if you didn't work in a lot of my hair!
Egad, you must have clipped it when I fell asleep listening to you read
them. I have heard them read since, too, at the hospital. Our nurse
read one very prettily, and then I thought my hour had come
Our nurse read them! My nurse in your room, too?
Yes. We had the same nurse.
Sit up and have some pork and beans and a cup of coffee, Jim, said
I. I could see then that there was no need to go into too many
particulars. I did not care to go much further till I had collected
some definite thoughts and arranged to conceal the amount of cash my
wisdom had seen fit to call forth from my bank account for a lot of old
junk that had been stored in Jim Hosley's bureau, and had fallen down
to the next floor when the fire took placejust the spot the
detectives wanted it to land precisely, in order to connect me with the
case. It would not have surprised me to learn that Smith and Obreeon,
his partner (for I could plainly see he was), had started that fire
with full knowledge of the location of those letters and the exact spot
they would fall if a match were touched to our abode at the proper
time. My handwriting in the Tescheron messages had given me away.
What do you think of those beans, Jim?
I think they taste more like home than anything I have met since I
took that bath.
There, don't say another word, Jim. I won't accuse you of anything.
You had your bath, and both of us have enjoyed the sweat it produced.
When we come out of this thing we'll be the purest mortals that ever
took a course in practical morality over a hot stove as a starter. I
told you about that quilt. So, that is the way it was, eh? Well, Jim,
you certainly do know how to set a house afire, although I never
believed you would set the world afire. I take it you will clip the
ends pretty short when you start in to make quilts again for that
purpose. But never mind, old boy, try another cup of this coffee.
Why is it they can't make coffee in a hospital? asked Jim.
They do make it, I answered; but the doctors and nurses never let
any of it get away from them. They find it too strong for boarders.
It's bad for their nerves. The only thing that's good for a sick man is
something you can sterilize, and then they may charge double prices for
it. Jim, did you ever feel so hungry before when you settled down
I was trying to divert his attention from the trouble I had put him
through, for I realized there was no hope for his case unless I yet
took a hand in and patched up the chasm which separated him from an
It is surprising what a relation there is between the digestion and
We were to have been married a week from to-day, Ben, said Jim.
My knife and fork clattered to the floor!
That's so; and now we are parted forever.
I was struck dumbonly one week to make good, to save the wreck
from total loss! Something must be done quickly. In the past everything
I had undertaken had been a failure, but I must persist. It was close
to ten o'clocka bad time to begin, for my midnight correspondence had
never been correctly construed.
When did you leave Gabrielle? I asked, with an idea ranging in my
fancy. It was an intangible idea, but I thought it promised relief.
About five o'clock to-day; we separated at the Gibsons'.
You stay here till I come back, and go on eating, Jim, I directed,
and grabbing my hat I rushed for the door.
Stop, Ben! Don't you do a thing to-night, commanded Jim. What can
you do now? Don't you know you made a bad break the last time?
But I kept right on and sent one more message from the nearest
messenger office. It was directed to Miss Tescheron at her home and
Don't recall those wedding invitations till you see me
There was just enough of the indefinite in that, I imagined, to
suspend operations; it would be a straw for the woman to clutch. She
would not risk the unpleasant notoriety of a wedding postponement, if
there could be a chance that she had acted impulsively at least, and
had been misled by circumstantial evidence she had ignored till there
came into the case the other-woman element. I did not fear the wound in
her heart, unless the gangrene of jealousy entered to prevent the
successful issue of my hastily arranged plan.
When I returned to the house, Jim was greatly disturbed.
Ben, you have rushed out and sent another message; I can see it in
your face, he said. What can you be thinking of? Why did you not wait
till to-morrow and talk this thing over?
You leave this matter to me, said I.
YesI did that before.
But you took a bath contrary to my advice. Tinkering middlemen and
ferrets can squeeze through small holes.
I determined to stop proceedings in Ninety-sixth Street, if such a
thing were possible. It seemed nervy for me to interfere now, but it
was a long shot and I determined to take it. What I would do to cement
the break I really knew not, but trusted to luck.
Jim did not yet know about the Browning woman and the interest he
was supposed to have in her. I tapped him gently and so indirectly on
the subject that I could see he knew nothing about her. The
undertaker's card he had found in the hall and brought in and laid on
the table, where I chanced to pick it up, little thinking I would take
it as corroborative of anything that might be said against him. He
declared he had not left the house that night. Smith's men had simply
lied when they said he left with the undertaker. I had a plan for
testing his statement, however.
When he told me how I had driven the Tescheron family to Hoboken for
six weeks, and hinted his suspicions gathered from Gabrielle that the
old gentleman had been forced to settle with some official before
returning, I was almost struck dumb. As he gave me the details of his
wretched experience of that afternoon at the Gibsons', I became
Jim, if that wedding comes off next Wednesday, will you forgive
me? I asked.
Whatto forgive me?
For me to ever achieve such happiness. From the depths of his
despair, he looked at me entreatingly as he spoke.
During the nightwe turned in about two A. M.it occurred to me
that I had heard or read that no person could be legally convicted of
murder till the body of the victim had been found dead. This little
matter had been overlooked about long enough, I thought. The lawyers
might have asked concerning the corpus delicti, but no one had
sought their advice. It struck me that the common-sense thing to do now
was to begin at the bottom and see Collins, the undertaker, before I
went too far in exonerating Hosley, even though I could never hope to
escape the spell of his innocent, wholehearted manner.
The morning following the arrival of Jim, with his burden of woe,
seeking release through the middleman of yore, I started out early,
determined to do the biggest day's work as an intermediary ever
recorded on Cupid's card index. I found Mr. Collins busy keeping his
professional Prince Albert coat wide open, with both hands in his
trousers pockets, at his quiet establishmentso described on the
gold sign. I explained that I wanted some information. He recalled the
Browning case very well, and tried hard to smile when I asked for the
name of the cemetery and its location, that I might visit the grave. I
thought that might stagger him, but it did not.
You see, this sort of burial was out of my line altogether, but I
did it to please Browning, an old friend of mine, and the children, as
much as anything, he answered with complete self-possession.
Out of his line, of course, thought I, because his specialty was
cremations, and this was a burialmuch to my surprise.
The lady was very kind to us when we lived there, Mr. Collins, I
said, lying impressively. I have been laid up in the hospital so long
I have not had a chance to make the inquiry before. I want to take some
flowers to lay on her grave as a token of our respectmy partner and
I, you knowMr. Hosley. We always found Mrs. Browning very
accommodating (she never bothered me, for I did not know that she
existed until she ceased to do so). We propose to take a whole day off
and make a trip up there now to attend to this duty which has been
uppermost in our minds.
Mr. Collins being a member of the Undertakers' Association, had been
operated on for the removal of his diaphragm to prevent laughing, and
he therefore took a serious professional interest in my request. He
retired to the neighborhood of his safe, looked into some large books
and returned with the name of the cemetery and a few directions written
on a slip of paper.
You'll find it just back of Mount Vernon, about two miles from the
trolley crossing I have given you there. Take a hack when you leave the
car; there's a livery right across the street. And say, don't forget to
come back and tell me about it.
I thanked him for his kindness and assured him I would return to
tell him the result of my search.
The proper thing to do with a murderer is to subject him to the
third degree. Very often he will quake when taken to the grave of his
victim. So I decided to take Jim up there with me; we could do it and
get back easily by noon, and maybe before. If he quaked, I would not
need to be hasty in defending him, and if he did not quake, the air
would do him good, poor chap, for he was badly unstrung and needed a
ride in the country.
Come, Jim, I shouted, rushing into the house. I am not going down
to the office to-day. I shall take a day off to straighten out your
tangled affairs. Get your things on and come with me.
He seemed to doubt my prowess, but slowly worked his way into his
coat. Before boarding the elevated train going north, I bought a
handsome bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley, tuberoses, asparagus fern and
enough forget-me-nots to appropriately light up the center. This
indicated to Jim that I was preparing a peace offering to tender
Gabrielle. He wanted to know if he hadn't better wait on the corner
while I went in and did the talking.
In where? I asked, for I had given no particulars.
Why, you are going up to Ninety-sixth Street, aren't you?
Not I, said I. At least not yet. We are going beyond that, Jim;
up to Mount Vernon and beyond by trolley when we leave the elevated. I
looked him square in the eye, and I could see no quaking. If he was
suspicious, he knew how to dissemble. Could that be possible? I
wondered, but only for a second.
What are you going there for, Ben?
Can't you imagine, Jim? I asked, having that midnight journey in
mind that he might have taken with the man Collins, or his
representatives, the night I was at the hotel. But I could not
understand how he could have had time to make the trip.
Never was up this way in my life, he answered, and don't see
where it comes in now, hanged if I do.
Well, it's a little notion of mine, I assured him. I don't want
to proceed on this matter with Gabrielle until I have been to Mount
Vernon and two miles beyond. The air will do you good, and so I brought
you for that purpose.
I thought I would appear benevolent in his eyes, if I could not
startle him. To tell the truth, I did not expect to startle him. He
could not plot, and I was a knave, I thought then, ever to have doubted
him. But I must go on and give him the third degree, for common-sense
Ben, let's cut out Mount Vernon, get off and go up to Ninety-sixth
Street. I'll go in alone and see if Gabrielle will not meet me this
morning. I think she may, if you did not spoil everything by some crazy
Why, Miss Tescheron will be down-town by this time; it is after
That's so. I don't suppose any one but her mother would be home.
He seemed perfectly satisfied to go with me after that.
It was a dismal ride across the little stretch of country, and when
the hack drew up in front of a tall, red building, I looked at my
bouquet and then at the driver, asking him if he understood me to call
for a brewery, the only object that seemed to lie before us. The man
with the reins thereupon directed us to make a detour of the building
and its fringe of beer garden, to a point where we would behold the
spot we sought. I took Jim's arm and helped him to struggle toward the
place. An old man in his shirt-sleeves was digging in a prospective
vegetable patch with much lubrication of the horny hands of toil, in
which he grasped a potato fork.
Getting ready to plant? I asked, my farming blood beginning to
rise. Why don't you use a spade and get somewhere? There I was, as
usual, ready to give advice.
'Tain't necessary; we don't plant very deep, only 'bout a foot or
two; expect we'll have to later on, though, if the business keeps on
like it has been goin'. Say, mister, what time is it? A man who digs
for day's wages frequently wants to know the time, so I accommodated
him and lost track of the direction of his remarks.
Can you tell me where I'll find the grave noted on this slip of
paper? I asked, handing Collins' memorandum to him.
Yes, said he, that's one of mine. Browningthat's right. I kin
show it to you. Step this way.
When he said it was one of his, I took it to mean that he had been
the digger for the occasion. So we followed through a little rustic
gateHamlet Hopkins and Horatio Hosleyinto a fenced lot comprising
about two acres of level ground, laid out in the smallest graves I had
ever seen. Most of them were about the size of my floral tribute. The
tiny marble slabs reared above many of the little knolls seemed like
foot-stones, and appeared to indicate that the perpendicular system of
the Irish pagans had been adopted.
Here's your'n, said our guide, pointing to a very small exhibit in
his peculiar collection. I laid the flowers on it and glanced at the
headstone. The simple inscription read:
The foot-stone bore this epitaph:
On the way home in the hack and the trolley, Jim wanted to know why
I had gone so far out of my way. Was it part of my work for the city?
Did I think I could manage his affairs with so much lost time? He was
as restless and nervous as a hungry dog shivering before a meat-shop.
As for myself, I never yielded a point in my dignity, but tried hard to
add to my supply of superiority, assuring him the hour would soon be at
hand when I could report a complete victory in his cause, and my own
vindication as a middleman in the sort of business that had run me
through the tortures specially prepared for those who flatter
themselves they are better able to manage other people's business than
their own. I had gone in so deep I determined to wade through to the
finish, no matter if I did botch it. A craftsman such as I was could
not be balked.
I left Jim at home and hurried down to Miss Tescheron's office,
reaching there about two o'clock. I sent in my card by the boy, and it
was returned, with the information that Miss Tescheron was too busy to
I took the card and wrote on it:
To the very last day of your life you will regret this act of
I have great good news for you. HOPKINS.
The boy did not return for ten minutes. I knew then that my message
was working its leaven, and in time the moment of victory would arrive.
At the end of ten minutes the boy returned and requested that I follow
him into Miss Tescheron's office. There I found that charming young
lady struggling to maintain an air of disinterested dignity behind a
desk which I could not approach within three feet, because a railing
had been planted as an outpost to guard against the bore emergency. But
three feet was near enough for me that day. I could have done the work
anywhere within range of my voice or pen, it was such an easy matter;
at least, I thought so when I gained admission to the judge who was to
be moved by my plea in behalf of the defendant, Hosley.
As I drew near, making my most dignified bow, I beheld the form of a
gray-haired man, who was advancing in years beyond the middle period of
life. He was seated near Miss Tescheron, whom I now faced for the first
time. I knew he must be John MacDonald, the famous lawyer. Miss
Tescheron, I imagined, had called him in to be a witness to all I might
have to say. Two judges, therefore, were to hear the presentation I was
about to make in behalf of the outcast. In my capacity as middleman, I
had always relied on the pen; but it was up to me now to make good the
claims of my client with a verbal argument before two of the most
I relied more, however, on the woman's heart.
How fortunate I was in my judges or my jury of twoa fond woman and
a plain man of common-sense! As our lives have been so bound with
theirs, I must reveal the man more fully here.
Mr. MacDonald was widely known among that class of corporations that
sought knowledge of the law and not opinions as to how it might be
corrupted. They came to him to carry their cases through the courts,
and not through the legislatures via the lobby. Therefore, he was not
what is commonly called a corporation lawyer. He never drew bills
designed to conceal franchise grabs or tax evasions, or crooked
contracts with dummies in subsidiary corporations organized to bleed a
mother concern of its profits. Some laws not on the books governed him
in such matters, so that he never became an accomplice in these forms
of thievery. He did more than pray lead us not into temptation; he
kept both of his keen eyes open to make sure that he did not fall into
it, and when he found that he had fallen, he quickly made every effort
to extricate himself. This meant that he turned away volumes of
business which would have brought large returns, but he would not have
his office fouled by this stream of corruption any more than he would
seek health in a sewer. When these degenerate concerns were admitted to
his office, they came as penitents seeking reformation. His regular
clients were the corporations who had come to take his view, that a big
business must be laid on broad and deep foundations of integrity
all-around; that all compromises with blackmailing legislatures are but
makeshifts; that the thing to seek is justice, not only for themselves,
but with a greater zeal for the people whose resources they use. The
whole solution of our economic problems, in the mind of this simple
student of the lawincluding its ninety per cent. of human naturelay
in the corporations training their lawyers upon themselves as their
most unmerciful criticsas conscience, the censor, lays down the laws
which every strong individual must follow or meet his doom in ruin. The
underlying principles of the thing involving millions were as simple in
his mind as the obligation to pay his washerwoman, if he were to
maintain his self-respect. The officers and directors of a corporation,
he believed, could no more successfully cheat the State of its just
taxes, or rob the stockholders by paying them a small profit on their
holdings while draining the earnings of the concern with their
subsidiary National Packing &Transportation Companies, United States
Terminal Companies and American Warehouse &Bonding Corporations,
without in the end reaping the reward of their crimes. Mr. MacDonald
would no more give his consent to the swindling of innocent
stockholders by their trustees, than he would rob an apple-stand. He
had that rare discernment so seldom found now among big business men
and their lawyer followershe could see the wrong involved in the
stealing of a million dollars and would gladly have aided in a movement
to amend the penal code so as to prevent it, for he believed it
possible for law to bring within the scope of its crushing penalties
the audacity of these modern Captain Kidds. When he read the formal
advertisement of a great industrial monopoly declaring a dividend of a
few per cent, per annum basis on a lake of water owned by outsiders,
he thought of the beautifully worded contracts made between the
officers of the concern, the insiders, and their dummies, in the
dozen or so parasitic companies whose stock was nearly all in their own
hands, and paid from twenty to forty and even a hundred per cent, on
the investment in unadvertised dividends. He thought of this and
hundreds of other forms of legalized theft practiced by these men of
church standing, who made it a point never to engage in petit larceny.
They preferred to steal millions and keep on the safe side. They
divided up the swag in the office of the American Transportation and
Terminal Company, organized solely for that respectable purpose. It had
a fine name, but the Bowery thieves would recognize it as a fence.
John MacDonald used to say: A corporation is not known by the
companies it keeps.
For five years Gabrielle Tescheron had advanced under the guidance
of this simple, wise and good man, so that at the time of our story she
had been well grounded in her profession, in its philosophy, in the
routine of its office practice, and to some extent in the knowledge of
human nature its successful followers must command. The long rows of
sheepskin-bound books in the office library were less formidable; the
grind of detail was no longer an obstacle to her ambition, which nerved
her onward to the higher slopes of professional occupation, for she now
had reliable subordinates trained according to the MacDonald system of
thoroughness to complete for her the irksome tasks. Mixed up as the
business was in corporation matters, it had much to look after that had
fallen to it through legal processes, but which, of itself was pure
business management and far away from the law. There were
receiverships, and fortunate was the weak-kneed concern that fell into
John MacDonald's hands; it generally meant new life and success for a
dying venture. He worked no magic, but he applied a lot of common-sense
where it had been scarce before, so that the results seemed much as if
a fairy in finance had touched the difficult problems with a mystic
wand. It was, however, the effect of truth entering where promotors had
held sway before, or where addle-pated sons of constructive fathers,
now departed, had been trying to make the business go on what they knew
of actresses and automobiles. These concerns did so well under the
receivership that when they began business anew, John MacDonald was
generally engaged to remain in control of the management. If he found
the right man in the shopthe fellow who might have saved itor could
put his finger on such a man elsewhere, he would assume the task with
that man in charge under him. Concerns that were tottering to a fall
through bad management naturally drifted into his office before the
worst happened, and engaged him to save their corporate lives by his
superior executive ability. This he would do also if he could find his
man. As a lawyer, he had less regard for the law's power to effect
transformations than a layman, and a higher conception of the value of
good men. While the ignoramuses at the head of the capital and labor
trusts were for leveling all the men in our big business concerns,
MacDonald continued to have faith in strong individuals.
The effect of close relationship with this man was to gain strength.
Gabrielle had studied his methods until they became her own. As I stood
there before them, I did not know them as I do now. MacDonald's fame I
knew, and that tended to frighten me. It should have given me
confidence, for John MacDonald was what I call an elemental man. He
kept close to the earththe simples of the world, he dealt in. It may
appear from what I have said that he was loaded down with
responsibilities and care; then I have not made it clear that the
exercise of these executive gifts was chiefly to secure leisure and the
opportunity for relaxationa most important thing in the MacDonald
philosophy. He and his staff worked hard that they might have time to
play, and with short hours and good pay they came near to having the
right proportions of labor and leisure to keep men and women sound in
health and contented with the world. Therefore, there were not many
employed in his office. Why, down in one of the city departments so
familiar to Jim and me, the same volume of business would have required
ten times as many employes, and at least thirty different systems.
During his leisure, which John MacDonald planned to maintain against
all comers, and the on-rush of business, he practiced the art of
relaxation; he had formed a habit of returning to the simple from
confusing contact with the complex, and he practiced it largely in his
home, with his wife and children. Lincoln is the best-known master of
this art, necessary to maintain the equilibrium of a busy man, and keep
him fresh, sane, sociable and interestingly boyish.
MacDonald had gone into the thick of the world's strife, and through
the ordeal had shielded himself from its poisoned arrows of ambition.
At a board meeting, it was said of John MacDonald, that when the three
minutes of real business were over and his associates then began to
discuss matters in the domain of irrelevancies, he resolved into smiles
and found somebody to crack a joke with. He figured that about a third
of his available time was given to actual work, and the rest to play,
because his colleagues had so much ground to cover without reaching
anywhere. There were days when he worked a full sixteen hours, but they
were few, and he was always alone. On the days he had to associate with
talking business men, he made up for these busy days by relaxing at a
more rapid pace in a revel of bracing fun. I never knew a man who
understood so thoroughly how to live and succeed, because it seemed to
me he knew how to discount everything unnecessary, so that he might
take the time others gave to straining their nerves to save his.
I suppose the character of Gabrielle Tescheron might have yielded to
the unstable influences of her home, where her impulsive and irascible
father sought to be an influential factor, were it not for the
counteracting effect of the day's associations in that calm realm of
business activity, where so much of the brain-work of vast industrial
enterprises was conducted as noiselessly as the movements of one of
those powerful machines that run in an oil bath. I do not say that she
would not have been superior to her home environment without her
fortunate associations down-town. I give the business small credit, for
our superior jewels are intrinsically precious before the artisan gives
the polish by which we more often make our comparisons. But there can
be no question that she worked among associations which strengthened
and emphasized all her admirable qualities and placed her above the
petty things that annoyed her fretful father and seemed like mountains
to his magnifying eyes.
These, then, were Hosley's judges.
Miss Tescheron, I come to right a great wrong, for which I am
wholly responsible; will you hear me? I asked as softly and politely
as the meekest penitent ever tutored for the book agent's business.
I have no desire to hear you, she answered firmly, but with a
slight nervousness betraying the deep interest she denied.
I trust you will be persuaded to at least hear me, and then
But there is nothing you can say, as the subject I know you wish to
allude to is closed. Please do not refer to it. It was a woman's No.
Mr. MacDonald tilted back his chair and eyed me closely, but not
You are supposed to deal in justice here, are you not, Miss
Tescheron? I continued, not heeding her frigid, uninviting air. I had
planned to deal tenderly with her wound, but soon realized that my
sympathetic beginning had proved more irritating than bluntness;
accordingly I introduced the spice of severity in tone in equivalent
degree as an experiment, and as I proceeded I noted the interest of
John MacDonald increasingly reflected in the features of his pupil.
Justice demands that I be heard. Unfortunately, I deserve nothing
here, for I have done about all a fool could reasonably be expected to
do to upset my own and others' plans. And now I demand but a few
minutes of your time to square the account. My point is that every dog
has his day. I shall have had mine as a meddler in the affairs of my
friend when I am through here. James Hosley, for whom I appear, is
charged with something by somebody, he doesn't know what or by whom,
and he was convicted by your father, and the conviction has finally
been sustained on appeal to you. As you alone exercise the pardoning
power, I come before you to-day to have the case reopened for the
presentation of new evidence. Would it not seem ridiculous to blast
your lives or even to upset the plans of the caterer now forming for
the great event next Wednesday, if on the morning following that date
we should read in the papers the true story of this affair in place of
the usual formal wedding notice? Would it not seem cruel to have it
published that jealousy, founded on love-letters the man never wrote,
turned the woman from him at the very altar? Yes, he never wrote a line
of that gushthat silly drivelit was a joke; but it was as nothing
to the culmination of the villainy of those detectives who have
swindled your father, for it now threatens to ruin two lives.
Briefly I ran over the account of our trip to farther Mount Vernon,
and of the effect of the third degree's pressure on Jim.
Mr. MacDonald relaxed control of his dignity, and burst into a
hearty laugh. Gabrielle blushed deeply and faltered until I proceeded a
few sentences farther.
Yes, Jim's old love-letters that I wrote for literary exercise
years ago, failed to impress the girls, who returned them. At the fire
they proved to be fireproof, and fell through the floor. The sneaking
detectives found them and brought them to me. Jim is now at my room,
completely ignorant of the charges against him, poor abandoned wretch!
I then subsided and reviewed carefully all the particulars,
concluding with the statement:
I submit to your honors that there is no getting around my
proposition that every dog has his day.
As I closed, Gabrielle hastily withdrew. Her face told the story.
She passed out, my card tightly held in her hand. I knew I had won the
Mr. MacDonald chatted with me for a few minutes, and thanked me for
my promptness in sending that telegram the night before, for without it
the postponement of the wedding would have revealed an absurd situation
and held us all up to public ridicule.
I liked the way you put this thing, said he, as we parted. Let me
see you again.
I now figure that the cash I paid Obreeon I would have won back at
that interview a good hundredfold, in view of what MacDonald has done
for me since, had there been no other developments.
I was not satisfied with my partial victory before the lawyers. I
hastened to Fulton Market and there found Mr. Tescheron surrounded by
the slippery remnants of a big day's business in cold-storage and fresh
merchandise. Here the art of making a three-cent Casco Bay lobster
worth two thousand per cent. more on the New York City restaurant table
is largely developed. The middleman who stands between the inhabitants
of the sea and those of the land is indeed a fisher of men as well as
fish. As an Inspector of Offensive Trades, I am ready to testify that
the odor of the market is generally an index of the strength of the
bank balance. The richness of the atmosphere around Tescheron's office
convinced me that Jim could not afford to alienate the affections of
such a father-in-law. As I advanced toward the small box in which Mr.
Tescheron sat wrapped in his scaly ulster, I caught a glimpse of a live
flounder, who appealed to me in whispers, as he made an effort to turn
over and find some cooler ice. I did not interrupt him. He spoke as
THE MARKET FLOUNDER'S ICY REMARKS
For Friday morn is hangman's day;
Fast in the noose I dangle.
At four A. M. the clam I seek,
And get into a tangle.
Alas! my wisha one-eyed fish[B]
To find a juicy ration;
The clam on high began to die
A sweet anticipation!
Beware the scent, tho' hunger groan!
My gentle kiss (a fishing smack)
Shot far amiss and with a hiss
I landed pretty well for'ard.
A smack I smote with a fearful thwack,
A stunning whack across the back,
On the upper deck of the Judy Peck.
At noon to-day, the fishermen say,
We ornament the table
O, wretched deed!or chicken feed,
Two rods behind the stable.
My purpose was to be serious with Mr. Tescheron. I had fooled him
quite enough. He recognized me, and as he was so cool, surrounded by
his cracked ice, I did not give him the chance to refuse a hand-shake.
I came to apologize to you, Mr. Tescheron, I began. It seems that
you can't take a joke and that you flew to Hoboken
He reached into a drawer and brought forth a small photograph of
Hosley, which he handed to me.
Yes, I know you seemed to think it was all a joke, he said. But
what do you think of that picture, taken from the Rogues'
Gallery?look on the back.
Sure enough, it was a familiar photograph of Hosley, and I knew the
photographer who took it. But this picture was on a small card with no
photographer's name on it. It might have been cut down from a larger
photograph. At any rate, it was the usual size of the Rogues' Gallery
police portraits, and was stamped and written upon the back like the
official pictures of criminals. It made Jim look like a thief, and the
plate must have been carefully retouched to order. You can buy anything
in New York, thought I.
[Illustration: I CAME TO APOLOGIZE TO YOU, MR. TESCHERON.
Do you believe that is a real Rogues' Gallery picture? I asked.
Certainly. Here's a dozen of 'em from as many different cities. If
you'd gone to the expense I did to get them, you would think they were
genuine. Oh, there's no question about it. Strange, how you could be
fooled like that! Lived with him for ten years, didn't you, and all the
while he was married to that woman down-stairs and was kiting around
the country for months at a time, raising hell in Michigan and Arizona
along the Mexican border. I think he was planning to do away with you
the same as he did with her. It's lucky I broke in when I did and
knocked his little plans in the head, so far as my family was
concerned. The murder of myself, of course, was a small matter.
All of these pictures are forgeries, I interrupted. The
photographer where Hosley had his picture taken probably has his
What? You still doubt? Well, you are a crazy man. That fellow
Hosley was a great hypnotizer of women and weak men.
I did not become angry at this sneer. No, I was resolved to be
patient. I wanted to get him in a frame of mind where he would turn on
himself and say, There's no fool like an old fool.
This thing was about to come out through the coroner's office, but
I settled as soon as I read the first newspaper itemhere it is. He
handed to me a clipping which Smith had used to clinch the payment of
what he (Smith) called bribe money.
Anybody could make one of those on a small printing-press as easy
as they can make a camera lie or lie themselves. That clipping was
manufactured, just as that woman in the flat below ours was made to
order. I didn't lose my temper as I made this statement.
But the death notice was in the papers giving the name and proper
address. See, here it is, Browning, and your number. Oh, you are
I was indeed surprised at the cleverness with which the Smith
conspirators, including Obreeon, had planned to land this big fishfor
such he truly was. He never sold a bigger one than himself. They had
worked in the dark and could fool him every time by clouding his
judgment with fear.
You spoke of expense, Mr. Tescheron. Would you mind telling me, to
satisfy my curiosity, just how much this thing has cost you?
Why, you are not thinking of paying it, are you?
No, I am sorry to say I cannot, although partly guilty, because I
haven't so much money. But really I would like to know. I am amazed at
your gullibilitysimply amazed.
Amazed, eh? Just look at these figures and you'll get some idea of
the work we have been doing in this Hosley matter. He handed his
neatly kept memorandum, which I scanned in wonder, and as we went over
it, item by item, I could see the work of craftsmen shaping their clay.
It all figured up, including board for his family at the Stuffer House,
the payments for Smith's expenses and services, and the settlement
with Flanagan, to about $5,000.
Mr. Tescheron, said I, take the advice of one who wishes you
well. Do a little investigating for yourself. I did not notify the
coronerI was only joking. Here is the address of Collins; see him,
and get the particulars concerning the party at our old home, and then
take a run up to this place and see what you think of it.
I handed to him the memorandum from Collins and left, saying:
This is Wednesday. Think it over for a week and I'll arrange to see
you next Wednesday. Then I shall expect to hear, if you are not
convinced, that the sharks swallowed you like a porgy.
When I got away from Mr. Tescheron that afternoon, it was after
three o'clock, and I had to see Flanagan.
Luckily I found the coroner at his office and was received by him
with that warmth of greeting and cordiality which springs from a
political genius, said to be derived by contact with the Blarney Stone.
At any rate, it makes its successful appeal to human nature and
constitutes the capital of Tammany leaders holding their own against
all reformers who fail to take into account the hearts of the poor.
There wasn't anything in the world he wouldn't do for me. You may be
sure that Jim and I had long ago changed our politics enough to vote
for Flanagan, and he knew it. His handshaking, sympathetic attention
and practical philanthropy kept him in power, and his record for square
dealing in and out of office placed him apart from some of the crew he
trained with. As another Irishman, Mr. Burke, has remarked you can't
indict a nation, this countryman of his proved to me that it would not
be possible to indict an entire political organization outside the
broad scope of campaign oratory.
I laid the whole case before honest Tim Flanagan.
And they were to have been married a week from to-day, you say?
Whew! You come with me to see Tom Martin; he'll do anything I say.
It is wonderful how a Tammany Hall leader can help pull a case of
complicated love out of the mire of despair, if the villainy runs
counter to the law.
Tom Martin was the captain in charge of the detective bureau at
police headquarters. If anybody had suggested concerning him that it
was possible for a Tammany district leader to obtain a favor in that
office involving what might technically be called the compounding of a
crime, Martin's icy official rejoinder would wither his antagonist; but
this ice could be cut by certain men. Tim Flanagan was one of them.
When he and Tom Martin got together on this thing wheels within wheels
began to work.
Certainly, Tim, said Captain Martin. We'll give Smith a
shake-down right here. I know him well. He is rich and will cough it
all up when we put on the screws. You and your friend take seats. I'll
have him here in a few minutes. Say, that's a lot of money,
thoughover five thousand dollars, you say?
I handed Tescheron's exact figures to Captain Martin. We waited
about twenty minutes, as I recollect, when a Potsdam giant from County
Kildare, the site of extensive greenhouses for the raising of New York
cops, brought in the trembling Smith. The startled little rascal looked
at me, but did not appear to recognize me. He had been scared to a
point I could see where he would give up his last cent for freedom.
You're at the old game again, Smithy, said Captain Martin. How
much did you get out of Tescheron? I have the figures here; just look
it up and tell mesee if we agree.
Smith did not dodge.
About ten thousand dollars, Stuffer and all, he said.
Stuffer! Five thousand more than Tescheron had admitted to me!
How much does the interest amount to at six per cent.? Just figure
that up on all the payments, and put in Stuffer, directed Captain
Martin, not in the least surprised at the admission of another five
You'll square me against him? asked Smith.
Yes; you bring him here to-morrow, and I'll tell himsee?
Captain Martin had never heard of Stuffer, but he played his meagre
hand with a winning bluff. The boundary line between detectivism and
poker is shadowy.
I meant to pay Stuffer to-day, said Smith, but I guess he got
tired waiting and came to you and squealed.
Smith figured for a few minutes with a small notebook in his left
hand, and then wrote on a slip of paper the following summary:
Services and expenses $2,040.00 Stuffer's fake bird collection
5,000.00 Fee to my man for appraisement of birds 50.00 Payment
safe return 3,000.00 Interest on above for two months at six per
Captain Martin did not approve the summary.
Smith, don't try to dodge me, said he, sternly. Put that Obreeon
$1,000 item on there, and add the board bill of the Tescheron family in
Hoboken for six weeks at $63 per week, making $378add interestyour
subpoena servers kept them over there as your guests, remember.
Smith did not whimper. He took the paper and in a few minutes added
$1,391.78, making the total $11,582.68.
I was astounded beyond measure. Flanagan's eyes bulged. Captain
Martin was unruffled. He dealt with that sort of deviltry every day,
and read the mind of Smith as if it were a child's primer. He gave the
impression of knowing all about the mysterious Stuffer feature of the
case. If the hotel proprietor had robbed Mr. Tescheron, I was surprised
he had not mentioned the matter to me. He said nothing of birds. He
couldn't have eaten them, thought I. My curiosity was greatly aroused.
Mr. Smith, alias Mr. Van Riper, alias Mr. Stewart, what name have
you your bank account under, these days? asked Captain Martin.
Under the name of William P. Smith, at the Lincoln Bank. He
answered without hesitating, being duly impressed by the official
atmosphere of the place, whereas I wouldn't have had the thing made
public by a regular complaint for all the world.
Got no blank checks with you, I suppose? asked the captain.
How much of a balance have you there?
About fifteen thousand dollars.
It's past banking hours now, Smithy, so I tell you what you'll have
to do. Take these blank checks here and make out one to
Albert Tescheron, said I.
One to Albert Tescheron forlet me seefor $10,572.68, and one to
Benjamin Hopkins for $1,010. You will then have to bunk in here
to-night with me until I learn that these parties have collected the
money. Then you can go, but you'll have to pack out of town and stay
How would the cash do, captain? eagerly asked Smith.
Got it with you?
I can telephone for it and have it here in twenty minutes.
Take this 'phone and do it. We'll wait.
Enough greenbacks and change to make $10,572.68 fell into Mr.
Tescheron's hands with a long letter of explanation from me, as he
entered his home that night, and I grasped $1,010.
As to Flanagan and Tom Martindid I treat? Well, I guess so! Do you
The address on my card brought Gabrielle directly to my rooms, and
when I returned I found the lovers blissfully united, after only one
day of direst wretchedness. They rushed toward me as I entered and
doubly embraced me. I was the crowned herocrowned with more praise
than I could well carry.
How happy you have made us! cried Gabrielle. You cruel joker; but
we forgive you. Oh, you do not knowyou can never know the service you
have performed this day. Our lives would have been ruined had you not
been here to manage this affair.
Ben, I forgive you for writing those letters, now. You are the
greatest man that ever lived. George Washington couldn't class with
you, said Jim.
Probably not, said I. I certainly told many a good lie when I
wrote those letters. You set me on fire and saved me. I have done the
same for you.
Jim was radiant and rosy as in the old days. Gabrielle never looked
more beautiful. Wasn't I happy!
We talked it all over, and I laid a wager with them both that Mr.
Tescheron would repent that night to Gabrielle before she could tell
him of her definite plans. I did not tell them why I thought I was
betting on a sure thing.
I carried out telegrams of joy and summonses to the Gibsons and
The Hosley-Tescheron wedding was the happiest society event in my
life. Hygeia, as bridesmaid, dazzled me into forgetfulness; but I stood
up and did my part, nevertheless, with a fair degree of precision, but
might have done better had I practiced trying to find a ring in my
pocket while wearing a glove. Mr. Tescheron behaved admirably. He and
his lordly son-in-law on that day really began to get acquainted. The
sheepish look he gave me at the wedding betrayed that my letter with
the money had happily convinced him, and also his trip to the little
Concerning Gabrielle and Nellie Gibson, her maid of honor, I would
need to shower the technicalities of a fashion journal's vocabulary to
present a picture of the loveliness wrought by milliners and
dressmakers from the choicest fabrics to grace the slender figures of
those pretty girls. Mrs. Tescheron's tears were those of joy. My joy
was without tears, for the occasion brought a hearty welcome to
Hygeia's Connecticut home.
Jim Hosley and I are associated to-day in the management of one of
the largest industries rehabilitated by that great executive, John
MacDonald, with whom we are on terms of close intimacy. We are
surprised at the changes that have come in a few years, and as we look
back, we often wonder if the folly of those bachelor days was not after
all profitable. Mr. Tescheron has lived long enough to believe it was.
To-day he is a charming father-in-law and grandpa, with an improved
sense of humor which has robbed him of his keen interest in
ornithology, for I heard him say he wished the Stukeville collection
would burn up.
As for myself, I am not willing to intrude my family affairs here
beyond the statement that my days of gloom are over. I ceased to try,
andbut as I wanted to add, Gabrielle is clever at housekeeping along
the most approved scientific lines. Cooking she regards as a form of
chemistry, and she keeps scales in her kitchen to save good dishes from
disaster due to the reckless pinch of this and pinch of that system.
What a contrast with Jim's system of frying eggs! And the marvel of it
is, that, in spite of this hospital-like regularity and method, her
little dinners at her beautiful home in our model industrial community
are amazingly gratifyingsolid in breadth and foundation, and
alluringly decorated with the ornamental bisque congealments founded on
the froth and frosting of beaten egg and whipped cream. My experience
as a housekeeper helps me to appreciate fine work in this department of
life. I should say that an epicure would make no mistake in marrying a
The one hundred and sixty-two letters and fitments I have preserved
in a leather-bound scrap-book. I have not the slightest idea what they
would be worth in the literary market, but I do know they brought us
much joy and sorrow, and I would not part with these flowery souvenirs
of the days of youth when all jokes seemed legitimate. They contained
more poetry than truth, I fear; but like good fiction, they brought me
face to face with some of the most interesting phases of life.
Oh, I forgot to add that Gabrielle's beautiful home was the father's
gift to the bride, estimated to cost just $10,572.68, but I know there
were many extras. Was Gabrielle surprised at this? Why, she thinks I
am a wonderfully fine fellow, and so does Jim.
What does Hygeia think?
[A] These cuts were too blurred to reproduce.
[B] Acting under Section 1519 of the Poetic License Act, I have
deducted one eye from the flounder. He is about to lose both, anyway.